A Dysfunctional Vacation: Graceland, The Dixie Stampede, High Blood Sugar, Snow, and…Marky Mark???

Sometimes I find myself so frustrated with my new life (stay-at-home mom with a Type 1 diabetic child and a celiac child) that I want to cry. Realizing that many, many people have challenges more difficult than what I face, I still can’t help but miss the days BDC (before diabetes and celiac).  This is probably never more true than while on vacation. We are moving soon and decided that before we head back west, we should take a trip to see two places I have wanted to see since back when I was a youngster in the Air Force: Graceland (I was in tech school right outside of Memphis) and Branson, Missouri (my first assignment was Whiteman AFB, MO). So my hubbs, bless his heart, planned a trip to take me.

So off we go – me, hubbs, my two ducklings, and our dog.

  • Side note: traveling with a dog sucks. Daisy is a 7 pound malti-poo who hates the car and whines until the 2nd day of the trip, when she finally realizes she is not going to the vet. To add insult to injury, the pet fees at hotels can be ridiculous. Really, Hilton and Marriott should think about charging based on the size of the dog because my 7 pound dog sleeps and likes to hang out in her kennel. The $100 fee in Branson was crazy. But that is a whole different rant for another day.



Our first stop was Memphis, where we went to “The Pyramid,” the giant Bass Pro Shop that inspired me to get a crossbow to take fishing.  Then we hit up what E and I really wanted to see…GRACELAND!  It was awesome and we loved it. Even 13-year-old crabby N appreciated it. E and I have been singing Suspicious Minds ever since. Unfortunately the restaurant inside the Graceland complex did not cater to the gluten-free crowd and we were starving, so we did race through part of it. But I would definitely go back. We love Elvis!


Lisa Marie

It was in Memphis that two things happened: I think E got glutened and N started to have some high blood sugar issues. Thinking back, I’ve noticed that E got really restless and irritable in the past, on the nights we believe that she got glutened. That’s what happened in Memphis. She was hot (nobody else was), her tummy hurt, and she couldn’t fall asleep. She was restless and went from her bed in the hotel to mine, messed with pillows, went to the bathroom, etc. for hours. Finally it dawned on me that she probably had gluten while we were traveling that day and I was able to pat her back and help her get to sleep.

N’s issue, on the other hand, was not so easy to remedy. We recently started him on the pump and are still kind of new to the ways of the pump so we weren’t sure what to do. We examined the pump and it seemed to be working but it didn’t seem like anything was in the tube running to his infusion site. So we changed out his infusion site (thank God we brought extras) and off we went to Branson. We were extra vigilant about carb counting and still his blood sugar was running high (like 230-300). By the next day in Branson I called his endocrinologist’s office and talked to them about raising his basal rate and checking for ketones (negative), which we did and then things seemed to smooth out after another day or two. He’s still in honeymoon and we thought he was coming out of it but nope – we are still playing that game.

In Branson the one thing I really wanted to do was go to the Dixie Stampede, which we did and it was AWESOME. We all loved it. And kudos to them for having a gluten-free dinner available, including a cookie for dessert so E didn’t feel left out. While at the Dixie Stampede the photographer mentioned to us that he heard Mark Wahlberg was in town.  E and I listen to a lot of 90’s on 9 (XM radio) so she is well versed in 90’s music and knew darn well who Mark Wahlberg was. She couldn’t stop looking for “Marky Mark” after that and was planning on what she was going to say to him, and wishing she brought her Thunder hat (I know…makes no sense but it’s her favorite hat) for him to sign, etc. Unfortunately Marky Mark did not show up at our Dixie Stampede. But we did stalk him on Twitter for a few days and saw a picture of him golfing in Branson (where it was snowing and freezing).

Mark Wahlberg


Here’s how some of us may remember Marky Mark:

Marky Mark

Overall a great vacation, even if we did decide to come home a couple days early because it was warmer in Oklahoma. We ate at this amazing Taco place in Arkansas called Tacos 4 Life which completely catered to E’s gluten-free needs. I’ll have to review it, but in the meantime, if you are in Arkansas, I’d highly recommend it.


Gluten Free Menu for Week of 20 March

Hello!  I am back from Spring Break, which means back to cooking, cleaning and trying to get this house SOLD!  Because we were gone for about a week, our fridge was looking very empty when we got home, and we went over-budget again at the grocery store. We expected this though. Instead of the $125 we shoot for, we spent about $180. However, it is Spring in Oklahoma (almost 90 degrees today…yes!), which means it is time to fire up the grill, so we bought a lot of produce. Not to mention, I have this new fascination with fresh deli meats and cheeses, which typically don’t come cheap (side note: it’s important to keep in mind that some of the meats/cheeses at the deli are not GF – which we found out a few weeks ago AFTER we purchased a specific brand of hard salami and I called the company. Boars’s Head is all GF so now I stick to that brand exclusively).

So, here’s what I’m making this week:

Monday – Baked Beans, Sausage and Spinach Skillet – I swear I just made this but my husband requested it again. The recipe calls for kale but I am using spinach instead. Super easy and the family loves it.

Tuesday –  Grilled Salmon, Baked Potatoes, and Salad – I’ve never tried this salmon recipe before but it looks tasty.

Wednesday – Cheeseburger Casserole with Steamed Broccoli – My family DEVOURED this the last time I made it. I cut the recipe in half (only use 1 pound of hamburger and 1 bag of crispy crown tater tots, etc.) and there are no leftovers. If I wanted any leftovers I would make as instructed or even add more hamburger/tots.

Thursday – Tilapia in Foil, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Veggies (Squash, Zucc, Carrots) – The Recipe Poster gives several suggestions of what to add to the tilapia and I think I am going to do butter, lemon juice and lemon/pepper seasoning for my family and then cherry tomatoes and pesto in mine.

Friday – Crockpot Cream Cheese and Ranch Chicken over Rice with Steamed Corn. – OMG, last time I made this it was AMAZING but it still seemed to be missing something. It was the rice – it needs rice to go under it. I’ll admit, I didn’t use as much butter as the recipe calls for (probably about half) but it was still so darn good.

Saturday – Blackened Shrimp Salad with Garlic Toast – Simple.

Sunday – Simple Chicken Enchiladas with Salad – I LOVE these enchiladas. The recipe calls for them to be made in the microwave, but I bake mine. I also use canned mild enchilada sauce, rather than make my own. They are kind of plain, as far as enchilada recipes go (I make much more complicated ones every few weeks), but we all love them for some reason.

Have a great week and Happy Cooking!!!

Gluten-Free Dining Out Ideas

Today I would normally be making and posting my gluten-free menu for the upcoming week. However, this week is Spring Break for us so we will be doing a lot of dining out – which is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it gives me a break from the kitchen, but dining out with a Celiac and figuring out the carb count for our diabetic can be difficult. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of favorite spots. It is important to note up front though, that sometimes (but for obvious reasons we don’t know how often) my daughter (the Celiac in our family) is asymptomatic when exposed to gluten.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House – BJ’s is my FAVORITE place to eat out if we have my daughter with us. Overall they have a little bit of everything on their menu and their GF menu is great too. My daughter and I usually get a GF cheese pizza to share and then bowls of tomato basil soup (no croutons).

Red Robin – We have eaten here several times because my daughter loves being able to get a “normal” cheeseburger and fries meal, thanks to the GF bun and fries being fried separately. Good for Celiacs, bad for my IBS 😦

Outback Steakhouse – I’ll be honest, I am usually not a fan of Outback. I have had a few back experiences there and I find the blooming onion to be disgusting. However, my daughter, who typically doesn’t like meat much, thinks their GF ribs are the cat’s meow. Plus, they usually do them as a kid’s meal to save us some coin.

Jason’s Deli –  This is more for me because Jason’s Deli is overall my very favorite place to eat. Ours here is across town and we hadn’t been since Celiac struck our family, so we were pleasantly surprised at the GF choices when we went last week. We both had a sandwich on the GF bread (which was good if a little crumbly) and the tomato-basil soup is GF – which makes the drive for crumbly bread worth it!

Schlotzsky’s –  I haven’t been here to eat GF but my daughter went here with another GF friend and loved their GF bun. She highly recommends it.

Chick Fil A – Waffle fries cooked separately…thanks, Chick Fil A!

Wendy’s – Last year during Spring Break is when we found out that E has Celiac, starting our lifestyle change. We quickly learned that fast food options are few and very far in between. We don’t eat a lot of fast food, but when in a pinch, we get baked potatoes from Wendy’s.

Here are some places we avoid at all costs due to bad experiences or very limited selection (resulting in 10-year-old’s temper flaring while hungry):

  • McDonald’s (hardly anything on the menu) – although we will shoot through the drive thru for drinks (I swear there is something added to their Coke to make it more addictive)
  • Santa Fe Steakhouse (although to be fair, we just had one really bad experience)
  • Burger King (got glutened and was in very bad pain)
  • Mexican Restaurants (this is tough because we love Mexican food, but unless it is one of our local places that we trust, we don’t typically eat it on the road)
  • Chinese Restaurants – never tried it. I would imagine it would be a cross contamination nightmare in the kitchen. But I’ve heard good things about Pei Wei
  • Any Buffet – We haven’t been to a buffet as a family since my son’s diabetes diagnosis. Counting carbs must be a pain the butt. And with Celiac, too much risk of cross-contamination

Hope this list helps someone and feel free to comment and share!



Courteous, Patient, Kind…Abstract Ideas?

So there I was, in the drop off lane at my son’s middle school this morning. Two cars were PARKED for unloading in front of me: a black Tahoe and some little compact thing. So I, being the ever obedient citizen that I am, dumped N off and then went to the left, around the PARKED cars as instructed by the “Duty Teacher.”  Dr. Queen of the Middle School (the Principal – not well thought of) has sent out newsletters warning us to follow the Duty Teacher’s instructions or basically you will lose your licence, your car, and your kid, so I am sure to pay attention and follow their instructions.

So off I went. I proceeded towards the exit and to my left, the black Tahoe came speeding by me, cut in front of me and then ran the stop sign to turn right. All on the middle school/next door elementary school grounds. It’s times like this that I wish I were an undercover police officer with one of those lights I could throw on top of my car and chase that sucker down. Even my daughter said, “that was NOT nice.”

Police Officer Clipart - Free Clip Art

It left me wondering: are simple manners and concepts like being courteous, patient and kind just abstract ideas now? Will my kids miss out on people like that? I’d like to think that I have instilled those concepts in them, and for now they seem good about being thoughtful of others, but am I doing enough? I think far too often we get so wrapped up in our heads that we forget to slow down and just be kind.


I Tried That! Extreme Couponing

When my husband deployed to Afghanistan for a year, I was busy, overwhelmed, and lonely. I had a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old who demanded most of my attention, I was just finishing up my bachelors degree online (back when it was ALL writing papers), and we had a new puppy that needed potty training. Again, it was a very busy and yet lonely time.  I needed a hobby – something to focus on at night besides the fact that one of the toothbrush holder holes was empty and that hubbs’ pillow no longer smelled like him (because after holding out as long as I could, I finally broke down and washed my sheets).

My cousin had raved and raved about how great and easy couponing was. She loved to talk about her couponing “scores”  and would even share pictures of her hauls. So when she invited me to a coupon party where a trained coupon expert (yes, apparently this is a real thing) teaches you how to coupon, I thought…why not? It’ll give me something to do until Hubbs gets home.

The “coupon expert” it turned out, was a newspaper peddler. I’m not sure if she made a commission or not, but she did offer us a subscription to the paper at a discounted rate. Which was cool because one of the things you will quickly notice in extreme couponing is…YOU MUST HAVE ACCESS TO THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER TO BE SUCCESSFUL. And here’s why:

  • To coupon (as taught in this class anyway), you go to a website called GrocerySmarts, you select your state, and then you can either see all deals or filter by whatever store you are shopping at. Here is a snippet of deals in Utah this week (I chose Utah because there is where I learned to coupon, and because Oklahoma doesn’t have many extreme coupon opportunities – more on that later):


The first column denotes how good the savings are, the second column is what the product is, the third is the original price, the fourth column is the coupons required, and the final column is the final price paid.

  • Now this is where access to the paper, or at least access to the coupons that come in the Sunday paper, are necessary. Notice the line for Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent (3rd entry), at the end of the 4th column it states “SS-2/5.”  This means Smart Saver February 5th. Unless you get Smart Saver as a mailer (we don’t where I live in Oklahoma) you need to get it from the Sunday paper.

After my couponing class I did sign up for the Sunday paper, much to my husband’s irritation, and by the time my hubbs got home from his deployment, I had so much toothpaste, tampons, maxi-pads, floss, pencils, notebook paper, etc. (that I either got for FREE or seriously cheap) that I ended up storing it in the tops of kitchen cabinets! My husband would go to get a dinner plate and a box of Playtex would fall out from the top of the cupboard…ha! But, to get to that point is very time-consuming so I didn’t stick with it after that year. Here is what I learned about extreme couponing:

  • You must have the Sunday newspaper (or at least access to the coupons in that paper) to really be successful.
  • It is extremely time-consuming.
  • You must keep your coupons organized. RP (Red Plums) by date, SS (Smart Saver) by date, Proctor & Gamble by date, etc. And if you want to look really cool, you need a fancy binder complete with baseball card type pocket pages for your coupons.
  • Getting the weekly mailers helps – we don’t get the coupons in the mail in Oklahoma. I don’t know why, but it is a bummer.
  • Following the site krazycouponlady is helpful for more than just grocery shopping. They post about online deals too and I’ve used more than a handful of their promo codes during the holidays.
    • Bradsdeals is helpful too, especially during the holidays.
  • Not every state is as “couponer-friendly” as the other. Utah has a lot of stores that favor couponers while Oklahoma doesn’t seem to have as many.
  • Several stores will allow you to stack coupons, meaning you can use a store coupon and a manufacturers coupon for double the savings. For instance, Target might have a store coupon for Country Crock Margarine and Country Crock may also have a coupon out there. Every store is different so you have to read each store’s policy.
  • It is really easy to start buying crap you don’t need just because it is “almost free.” I found myself buying birthday gifts for my kids’ fictional future friends, just because the stuff was cheap. Most of it was either sold during a yard sale when we moved or donated to Goodwill.
  • It becomes more of a game to see what you can get and for how cheap, than actual grocery shopping.


Does anybody else have any tips about couponing???


Gluten-Free Menu for Week of 6 March

Happy Monday!  I realized that I haven’t shared a weekly menu in a while and if you are anything like me, you appreciate the ideas. We grocery shopped on Sunday (Hubbs and I go grocery shopping every week for “Sunday-Funday” – it’s our weekly date) and spent about $176 for this week’s food. This $176 wasn’t for just what is on my menu;  it also includes breakfast foods, tons of produce, stuff for lunches, etc., and considering we have depleted a lot of what is in our fridge and pantry (one of our goals – use what we have), the $176 isn’t bad. It is over-budget though, so now that we are stocked back up, I hope to be back on track next week. Here is what I’m making this week:

Monday: Salmon with Lentils (Salmon with Lentils) and Broccoli

  • I’ll confess, I actually made this last night (Sunday) because I had some salmon I needed to cook.  My family really like the salmon with the lemon herb sauce. The lentils…not so much. This was our first time trying lentils and I just don’t think we are ready to eat them by themselves yet. I think we’d like them better in a soup, so I froze the leftover lentils and am planning to make lentils and ham-hocks with them the road.

Tuesday: Tomatillo Chicken over Rice (Slow Cooked Salsa Verde Chicken) with Salad

  • I do not use cilantro and I actually use Herdez Tomatillo Verde Cooking Sauce for this. You can  also add a can of green chiles if so desired (my family doesn’t like hot and spicy so I leave them out). SO DELICIOUS.

Wednesday: GF Spaghetti with Garlic Bread and Corn

  • A simple kid-friendly meal. I use two packs of Mueller’s GF Spaghetti (because there isn’t much in each one), ground beef and a jar of Prego. I make garlic bread using Schar’s white bread, butter and garlic powder (which I place under low broil for a few minutes). Probably not the healthiest meal but it is easy-peasy and it makes my kids feel happy and normal.

Thursday: Shrimp Quesadillas, Refried Beans and Grilled Vegetables

  • I’m going to season some shrimp with Adobo and lemon-pepper and then grill it for a few minutes. Then I’ll put it and some cheese inside 2 corn tortillas and put it in a skillet. Cook on each side for a minute or so until the cheese is melted and then VOILA….an easy shrimp quesadilla! I plan to toss some squash, zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms in olive oil, season with lemon-pepper and throw them on the grill for a little bit too.

Friday: Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole (Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole) with Rice and Salad

  • I have never made this before but it looks amazing. I hope it’s good!

Saturday: Baked Bean, Sausage and Spinach Skillet (Baked Bean Sausage Kale Skillet) with Salad

  • My family prefers spinach so I’m going to substitute spinach for the kale. Hubbs and my son devour this!

Sunday: Italian BBQ Chicken (Italian BBQ Chicken) with Mashed Potatoes and Oven Roasted Carrots (Oven Roasted Carrots)

  • I have never tried either of these recipes so I’m hoping for the best. I do plan to substitute olive oil for the butter in the carrots recipe and I hope that doesn’t mess with the flavor.


Have a great week!



I Tried That! My Experience as a Test Juror.

I realized today that I find it so easy to express my thoughts about negative experiences I’ve had, and too often I neglect to share about positive experiences. So for today at least, I’m sharing a surprisingly positive experience that I recently had as, who would have guessed, a TEST JUROR!

Since becoming a stay-at-home-mom (or SAHM as seems to be the common lingo) I’ve kept my eyes peeled for ways to earn some coin from home because:

1- My kids (diabetic, celiac, thyroid problems, etc.) have a zillion doctor’s appointments and scheduling them around a new, part-time job would be hectic.

2- Since becoming a SAHM I’ve become even more of an introvert and honestly, prefer to be in my house. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m clinically agoraphobic or anything, but my anxiety certainly kicks up a notch once I back out of my driveway.

3- I can get so much crap done during the week now that I couldn’t while I was working (obviously). No longer do we spend our weekends cleaning and doing laundry; I take care of that during the week so the weekends are for fun and relaxing.

With all that said, I read on some blog about being an online test juror so off I went to “know-it-all Google” to read up on it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many positive reviews about it. I can’t even remember where I read about JuryTest, but that is one that I chose to sign up with. You can find the link here JuryTest

I created an account and never really expected to hear anything from them because like I said, reviews online about being a test juror are so finicky. So I just kind of forgot about it. Then about a month and a half ago (about 6 months after I signed up) I received an email saying they had a case in my area and asked if I was interested in participating. The original email said I would be compensated  $40 for 2 hours of my time. I replied that I was interested and 2 days later received the email letting me know that I could log in and that the case was available for my review. The email stated that “the case involves listening to two sides of a legal case…and answering all of the questions,” and that the payment would be $60.

Before I give you the real scoop, you should know that I love law and order. Not the TV show, but I thoroughly enjoy rules, regulations, and the consequences that go with not following them. I’m not saying all rules, guidelines, etc. are perfect, but I believe that if you don’t like them, there is typically a process in place to change them. The only TV shows I care to watch are true crime shows (and the occasional crime-based drama), I enjoy reading murder mysteries, and the only part of People Magazine I care to read is the section on crime (if it’s there).  I like facts and logic. Being a test juror is right up my alley.

My Alley.jpg

So here is what you really need to know:

  • You sign a confidentiality agreement when you sign-up to be a juror. Unfortunately so much time has passed between then and when you get your first case that who knows what the heck it said. I’ll assume it was similar to the one signed in Fifty Shades of Grey and I just won’t discuss any intimate details of the case 🙂
  • I had to listen (it was audio with some slides) to the plaintiff’s attorney present their case for about 40 minutes.
  • I then had to listen (again, audio with some slides) to the defendant’s attorney present their case for about 30 minutes.
  • Then I had to answer about 100 questions. The majority of these questions were multiple choice but there were some that required feedback. I enjoyed giving my real opinion so I didn’t mind much but it was time-consuming.
  • When all was said and done I think it took me about 2.5 hours to listen to the arguments and answer the questions.
  • I actually got paid $60 to my pay-pal account!  The payment took about 3 weeks but the email said it could take up to that long.

Overall, I would say it was a great experience for someone like me and I would definitely do it again. Could I make a living off of it? No. But when you go from making $40/hour to being a SAHM, that $60 in your pay-pal account seems like a lot of pennies.

Has anyone else had experience as a test juror???

Sometimes We Just Need That One Friend…

It was the day before I was scheduled to have my hysterectomy and I was FREAKING out already when I got the email: my ex-BFF asked if it would be alright if she came to see me while I was in the hospital. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t want to be rude and tell her to piss off, but at the same time the end of our friendship literally drove me into therapy. Actual, pay somebody to listen to me talk, therapy. To complicate matters further, my husband works with her – like sits right next to her and has to interact with her daily. So, I didn’t want to make things any messier for him than they already were. Unfortunately for me, in the time we had been in Oklahoma, she had become my one and only friend (I put all my eggs in one basket). I later learned that manipulators like her can spot people like me a mile away and smoothly ease into the folds of our lives, which she did. But that’s a whole different blog post for another day.

So anyway, I didn’t know how to respond to her email and feeling quite alone, I started day-drinking some wine (which is NEVER a good idea for me because not only am I a light-weight, but alcohol frequently gives me hives), sucked up my pride and went over to a fellow military wife’s house to ask for advice. At this time she was just an acquaintance – someone whose kids played with my kids. Who I knew I had a few things in common with, but who I also had never had a real, “deep” conversation with. But I was desperate, so off I went…

I sat there and told her the long, sometimes embarrassing story of the beginning and ending of my friendship with my “friend,” the almost ending of my marriage, and how it was bothering me to be losing my chance to be a mother again (although I knew we weren’t have more children – strange, I know). Through it all, she just listened – offered supportive words here and there, but mostly just listened. And it was while sitting at this woman’s kitchen bar that I realized how nice it was to have someone to just talk to (that wasn’t obligated to listen) and how much I missed having a friend. She has since become my closest confidant in Oklahoma, a real friend that I know I can call upon if needed. I hope that in the time since that November day, I have reciprocated that feeling of friendship for her.