5 Reasons Why I Will Never Win “Mother of the Year”

For every good deed I do as a parent, it seems there is an equal inadequacy that makes me feel like a failure (similar to Newton’s 3rd Law).  It’s so easy to get caught up comparing ourselves to other parents, that it sometimes feels only natural to question your own parenting skills and wonder how it can look so easy for others. In that spirit, I’ve been thinking lately about why I am not “Mother of the Year” material, and not likely to ever be…

1- I can’t stand stinky, sweaty boys lying around on my furniture. N will come in with neighborhood kids who have all been outside playing basketball or fishing for hours and they will sprawl out on my couch.  Perhaps it’s like OCD kicking in but I immediately want to sweep them off my furniture and hit it with the Febreeze. Does this not bother other parents???

2-  I love kids, I truly do, but I love them more in moderation. Kids (who are not my own) who are here so often they feel comfortable walking in my bedroom to ask me questions, who know what snacks we keep stocked in our pantry, or the ones who think my living room is a gym, are probably here too much. I’ve found myself wanting to make a STOP/GO sign to affix to the front door to let kids know if my kids can play, and whether or not it’s okay to knock and ask.  I’ll sit and play games with them, make them all lunch/snacks, and even watch movies with them – in MODERATION.

3- I don’t like meeting other parents that I have nothing in common with. I know, that’s a kind of dumb statement because how do I know I have nothing in common with them if I’ve never met them? Well, take this for example – E met a girl at school last year who was mean to her half the year, friends with her the rest. E begged me and begged me to meet her mom so she could have a play-date with her. Throughout the school year she told me how this girl’s mom got the crap beat out of her by her boyfriend and went thru rehab (which I then had to explain to my then 9-year-old what rehab is).  We’re a military family subject to a different set of rules, so to speak. Not to mention, I don’t want or need anybody’s relationship drama. I did meet this lady at the end-of-the-school-year party and while we were both nice enough to each other, most of our time spent next to each other was in silence (because we have nothing in common). My kids really want me to be “best friends” with their friends’ parents, but they don’t realize that it doesn’t always work that way.

4- I don’t support the PTA/PTO or any Fundraisers. Not because I am against raising money for my kids’ schools but in the case of the PTA/PTO, I tried one year and the women were mean and very cliquey. It was not at all like the friendly atmosphere I had envisioned. Where we live now I don’t typically support the fundraisers for 2 reasons

  • We aren’t from here so our “circle” is just us. We don’t really know anybody (unless it is parents whose kids are also selling the same stuff) so I think it’s crappy that these fundraisers have special prizes for the kids who sell XX items. Yeah, that’s great – explain that to my kid who can only sell like 9 when everybody else is selling over 100.
  • Secondly, I don’t agree with what the fundraisers are for. You want to raise money to buy microwaves so kids like my daughter, who can’t eat the lunch at school because it has gluten, can warm up her lunch, I’m in. But if you want to raise money so a teacher can get an iPad for her classroom, I’m out. I don’t think that is a necessity, especially in a state (Oklahoma) where the budget is so lacking that they are cutting some schools down to 4 day weeks, getting rid of teachers, and talking about closing some schools.

5- I treat my kids differently. Try as I might, my kids are so very different and I have to tailor my parenting to each. I’m no expert (clearly), but I think this is frowned upon. N is like me – introverted, sensitive, a little more quiet (unless his sugar is high), and appreciates being by himself. E is literally the exactly opposite – she has to go, go, go, is somewhat outgoing, usually can’t stop talking, and is incapable of being alone. When I’m mad at N for something, I know I don’t need to harp on him and beat the issue to death. He’s sensitive and will see that I am disappointed and he will feel bad. E, on the other hand – I’ll get mad at her and she couldn’t care less. But if I put her in timeout by herself somewhere, she will feel the repercussions because she hates to be alone.  Some in my circle think I favor N and am easier on him. Not true, I think it’s just easier for me to discipline him because he’s so much like me.

But the biggest reason I am not winning “Mother of the Year” anytime soon is….I FORGOT EASTER!

6- We are not a religious family. N and I are baptized Catholic, Hubbs and E are not. For many reasons I don’t really follow my Catholic faith anymore and prior to moving to Oklahoma we attended a non-denominational church in Utah that we really liked (that we will hopefully go back to). Anyway, the reason this is important is because as my family was reminding me that I suck because I forgot Easter, I asked them why do they think we even celebrate Easter, and only N really had a close answer. E wants to know, and it is my fault for not continuing with our reading of the Bible that we were doing, or taking her to kids church (another reason I suck), but she was just irritated that I forgot Easter because she was looking forward to a new toy. This is kinda how the conversation went (on Saturday, the day prior to Easter) while we were en route to a friend’s house for dinner:

*Note that expletives will be denoted with ________

Hubbs, speaking quietly: “So, did you get some candy for Easter?”

Me: “Why, when’s Easter? Oh ________, is it this weekend?”

Hubbs: “Are you ________ me? It’s tomorrow!”

Me: “Seriously? __________. You didn’t pick up any candy?”

Hubbs: “You’re the CEO, I thought you were getting the candy?”

Me: “Why would I get the candy? I ________ forgot it was Easter this weekend.”

N (from the backseat): “Mom, did you seriously forget Easter?”

E to N: “Mom didn’t forget Easter, she’s getting me a toy from the Easter Bunny!”

And so it went… we did rush to Target and got some last-minute Easter candy and a kit to color eggs, which ended up being fun because we hadn’t colored eggs in forever. And I planned a last-minute Easter egg hunt with some coins, nails (to confuse them), and pieces of paper with things like “vacuum out mom’s car,” and “go to the driving range with dad” printed on them inside. It actually ended up being a great day. The Easter Bunny can suck it.

So there you have it, the top 5 (with a bonus #6) reasons why I will probably never win “Mother of the Year.”  Anybody else just skating by?

Menu for Week of 10 April 2017

Here is my gluten-free menu for this week:

Mon – Parmesan Meatloaf with Salad

  • For this recipe I only use ground beef (I personally don’t care for ground turkey) and because I haven’t been able to find actual gluten-free breadcrumbs at the commissary, I tear apart some gluten-free bread to use as breadcrumbs. I also use Prego for the pasta sauce.

Tues – Chicken Skewers with Risotto Parmesan and Peas

  • I really like risotto so I’m excited to try this recipe. The last one I tried, lemon risotto, was a bit too flavorful for my family so I’m hoping this will be more to their taste.

Wed – Breakfast

  • Eggs, Sausage and Hash Browns – always a hit in our house

Thurs – Grilled Adobo Porkchops with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Corn

  • I cheat and use this gravy that I have found at Walmart and our Commissary:

GF Brown Gravy.jpeg

Fri – Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

  • This recipe is DELICIOUS!  My kids, who don’t even like real chicken and dumplings (and neither do I for that matter), LOVE this. I use Gluten-Free Bisquick that I add just a touch of xantham gum to (maybe half a teaspoon) when I make the batter to drop into the soup.
  • I also use 1-2 large cans of canned chicken and a frozen bag of mixed vegetables. So good….

Sat – Grilled Hotdogs with Baked Beans

  • I believe most of the Bush’s Baked Beans are gluten-free (we always check before purchasing and the cans say it) so we stick with Bush’s.
  • We purchase Oscar Mayer Selects Turkey Dogs. They are cheaper than regular hot dogs , taste good, and say “gluten-free.” This is what they look like:

Turkey Dogs.JPG

Sun – Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Gluten Free Pasta and Salad

  • This is what I make when we are missing Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill!  I love this recipe!!! I haven’t made it in a little while so I thought I would make it again since I have some heavy cream leftover from last week that I need to get rid of.
  • I don’t use the sun-dried tomatoes. Instead, I cut up fresh tomatoes and sprinkle them and fresh Parmesan on top right before serving.

Hope you all have a great week and Happy Cooking!

-J.

 

 

The Road to Celiac Diagnosis – E’s Story

When I tell people that my 10-year-old daughter has celiac disease, inevitably they will ask me how we found out.  I think to many people, celiac is a middle-aged woman’s disease and it seems almost inconceivable that a little girl could truly be afflicted.  But as much as I wish it weren’t true, E does in fact have celiac, and it was a long road to diagnosis.

We always knew something was a little off with her. She was the BEST baby – she rarely cried and she slept, which was wonderful. She was much better behaved than her colicky older brother was when he was a baby. But when she was only a couple of weeks old, she would put her legs straight in the air and cry (a lot) when trying to poop. She’d stop crying as soon as she went and go back to being the best baby ever. We mentioned this at one of her well-baby checkups and the doctor said we could try changing her formula – so we did. The brand change didn’t help, so another doctor (by this time we had moved) told us to try soy formula – so we did. The soy formula didn’t seem to make much difference so the doctor told us to give her a few ounces of apple juice, a couple of times of day. That finally seemed to help a little so we stuck with that.  By this time she was about 6 months old.

Around this time she developed other problems, and her tummy issues took a backseat: the pediatrician noticed a lazy eye, that turned out to not only be “lazy” but also had compromised vision. So for a period we spent much of our energy on that. By the way, trying to get a 6-month-old to wear an eye patch and glasses is no fun.

Fast forward about 3 years and I noticed small bald spots on the back of E’s head. Her doctor told me that she had Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles.  Wonderful. Luckily, my stepmom did some research and read somewhere (thank God for Google) that Alopecia in kids can sometimes indicate other autoimmune conditions such Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (which I have) so I talked to her pediatrician about it and sure enough, E’s TSH levels were high and she had the antibodies indicative of Hashitmoto’s.

So why am I mentioning Alopecia and Hashimoto’s in a post about Celiac Disease, you may ask. Because one thing they all have in common is they are all autoimmune conditions, and as my endocrinologist once told me, “where there is one, there are usually three.” How true that is, I don’t know.  But read on…

After her Hashimoto’s diagnosis we again approached the doctor about our concerns with E’s constipation, bloated stomach, terrible gas, and to be blunt: huge poop.  At least two more doctors told us that it was just normal childhood constipation and we were given prescriptions for polyethylene glycol (Miralax), that she was to take daily.  When she was about 6, I even asked about celiac and was told by one doctor that E didn’t exhibit the signs of celiac because she doesn’t have diarrhea that has her racing to the toilet.

Fast forward again and E is 9-years-old and we have moved again, this time to Oklahoma City where we are seeing an off-base doctor. Does it matter that all the doctors before were military doctors? I don’t know. But our doctor here finally listened to me when I asked him this question,”exactly how long is my daughter supposed to take Miralax before we investigate what is causing her symptoms?”  He referred us to a Gastroenterologist who told me that he really didn’t think it was celiac but was going to run the celiac panel anyway to rule it out. It came back positive and a couple of weeks later that was confirmed with a biopsy.

I can’t be certain that E had celiac all along, especially since I’m not sure how prevalent it is in infants. Perhaps she only developed it in the last couple of years?  I do wish that more had been done to investigate her symptoms when she was younger though, and that is my fault as her advocate for not pushing harder. I guess there is a fine line between trying to be a good parent and not overstepping your boundaries at the doctor’s office.

When I found out E has celiac and that my other child has diabetes, one of the first things I did was turn to the internet to read other stories to see if anyone had similar experiences, if what we were going through was normal, etc. So I am sharing E’s story in case some other parent is on the fence and not sure whether to push their doctor a little harder to get the answers they need.  My suggestion is do it.

-J

 

 

Menu Ideas for Week of 3 April 2017

Oh my, it’s been quite a week.  I meant to put my menu out Sunday afternoon, really I did, but between bouts of vertigo and the stomach flu, I just haven’t been doing much except resting and trying to keep my house “show ready.”  So rather than giving a day-by-day account of what I’m making, here’s a list of what’s on the agenda this week:

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Marsala served over Mashed Potatoes with a Side Salad.

  • I made this last night and I’ll be honest, it didn’t turn out nearly as amazing as I envisioned. It could be partly because my current sickness has made me unable to eat chicken, but even the sauce seemed to be lacking something. However, I didn’t have Marsala wine so I substituted red cooking wine instead – perhaps that is what did it? Also, I doubled the creamy part of the recipe and maybe it was just too much heavy cream? My family ate it and thought it was OK, and I’ll definitely make it again someday but next time I will follow the recipe as written.

Artichoke Crusted Tilapia Fillets with a Side Salad.

  • I love artichoke hearts – my family….not so much. Unless they are chopped up in spinach artichoke dip at Applebees, and they did tolerate them when I made this delicious Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole. But I’m hoping that this recipe will change that so I can integrate them into our menu more.

The Very Best Homemade Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese.

  • You read that right, folks! This is seriously the best tomato soup EVER, and I am kind of like a tomato soup connoisseur.  A tomato soup ninja. I know my tomato soup.  For this recipe you can either make the pesto or use store-bought. I use this one, which is delicious, affordable and easy to find in the spaghetti sauce aisle:

Classico Pesto GF.jpg

  • I use my immersion blender for this recipe. Funny this is, I’ve had this hand-held blender contraption since Hubbs and I got married (I am fairly confident he brought it into the marriage) and had no idea what the heck it was for. Maybe once every year or two I would make chocolate milk and put the immersion blender in there to make it frothy and shake-like. Other than that, it seemed like a waste of space and I have been tempted to get rid of it many, many times. Good thing I held on to it, because it finally came in handy!  For those of you who might also be culinary-challenged, this is what I am talking about:

Rival Immersion Blender.jpg

Grilled Salmon with Quinoa and Steamed Corn.

  • Dill sounded good Sunday morning (when I made my menu) so I am going to try this new salmon recipe. Plus, we are moving in about a month and we have a whole tank of propane we have to get rid of, so you’ll see more grilling recipes from me in the future.
  • I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but for years we have used this Pampered Chef steamer to cook our frozen vegetables in the microwave. We’d be lost without it and I actually need to get a new one soon:

Steamer.jpg

Pizza

  • We get Freschetta Gluten Free cheese pizza.

GF Pizza

 

Happy cooking, and next week I’ll try to get my menu out by Monday mid-morning at the latest!

-J