Thursday, March 19, 2009

Facebook Interview

I'm increasingly becoming addicted to facebook including all the stupid quizzes and such. I did this interview awhile ago and thought, hey I never update my blog....I'll post it there! Heh!

If you had to pick one car, which would it be?
The one filled with bags o' money.

Your favorite Disney Films?
The Watcher in the Woods

Why did the chicken cross the road?
He didn't you big 'ole liar. He's in my tummy!

What was your last thought?
be boo beep bop beep boo bee.

Juice and crackers or milk and cookies?
Yes thank you.

Favorite fruit?

Are you a cat or a dog person?
I'm just a human being.

Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Why can't I be both? They're both so tempting.

Define yourself in 3 words...
freakin' freakin' awesome!

Do you eat cold cereal at night?
Morning, noon, and night baby!

What is your favorite TV show?
Your Mom!

Kill the spider or let it out?
A spider on the wall signifies success....whose success I cannot guess...unless.

Do you shower every single day?
What are you, the water police?

Walking past a beggar, spare change or ignore?
Sniff and swoon.

Where do you want to travel next?
Portmeirion in North Wales

What would you do if Michael Jackson asked you out
Say, "Can we re-enact Thriller?" then I'd karate chop him.

What is your favorite food?
Vegemite. Mmmm...delicious delicious yeast. Crazy Australians.

Do you read harry potter books?
Puhlease, what kind of dumb question is that? They read themselves to me.

What is your favorite place?
Your house.

If you could have one super human power what would you choose?

Have you had a beer in the last week?
How about a keg?

Vitamin Water or Gatorade?
Yes and yes.

Flip flops or sandles?
I do tend to flip flop and I don't care who knows it. Sandles are for sissies.

What do you do on fridays?
Wake up and yell, "wahoo, it's Friday fools....get out of my way!"

What is your favorite song of all time?
Whose Got The Goose by Janna Gifford

Do you like bananas?
As friends or as sports equipment?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My new best friend

How did I get through my life before I met my new best friend Vita Mix (I call her Vita)? In looking back before Vita (B.V.), I actually thought that I was content and quite fulfilled. Silly, silly girl. Now when I reflect back on my life B.V. I realize that I had a huge gaping hole in my life that was begging to be filled with delicious smoothies, soups, and homemade frozen treats. Poor poor B.V. Katie. She was so ignorant and naive.

My relationship with Vita began so serendipitously. I had wanted a mill to grind my own wheat way back when, long before wheat became the devil in my house. I lusted after my Mom's superb mill that made gorgeous finely ground flour that later turned into the most phenomenally delicious homemade bread. My desire for a mill sat on the back burner next to other items on my "wish list" such as an essential oil diffuser, Le Creuset cookware and my own set of Wusthof chef knives. I was content to leave the mill percolating in the back of my mind for a day that I somewhere found some extra cash lying around. That all changed when I packed home $40 worth of specialty flours all made from gluten-free grains.

When you begin your voyage into gluten free baking you realize quite quickly that it means a heck of a lot more than buying a few bags of rice flour. It has become such an art form to bake the perfect loaf of gluten-free bread that doesn't come out looking like a heavy brick. The art includes combining different types of flours together and adding xanthun gum to replace gluten and to act as a binder. Well the types of flours I was buying were: garbanzo bean, tapioca, popcorn (yes, that is what I said), rice, potato starch and quinoa. Most of these come from Bob's Red Mill packaged in 1.5 lb. bags. They are tiny and so expensive. I realized that I would be paying for a mill in no time at all if I ground my own flour. When I spoke to Phyllis (my gluten-free guru) about it she mentioned that she ground her flour in her Vita Mix.

Just days later I was doing my research online when I stumbled across a blog in which someone had written about their Vita Mix and specifically the grinding aspect. I was definitely on to something. Wouldn't you know it that on that very same day an old friend of mine posted on his facebook status: "Audie is enjoying a homemade apple-orange-carrot-lemon-parsley-spinach-watercress-Amazing-Meal (TM) smoothie." I was intrigued with his post and inquired about the recipe. When he mentioned that he made this in his Vita Mix my interest became heightened. I got back online and started reading all kinds of interesting reviews and message boards from Vita Mix owners. I realized that this was exactly what my family needed. I hesitated bringing it up to John because these aren't cheap machines. When I explained what they were, John said, "they have Vita Mix people at Costco right now". How cool was that?

We decided the next day when John came home to go check them out. We had Becca with us. We explained to the demonstrator (Sally)that Becca was on a strict GFCF diet. Sally proceeded to give us the most fabulous customized demo for the next 30 minutes. She made smoothies using all kinds of fresh veggies and fruit. They tasted so delicious and you never would have guessed there was squash and carrots in the delicious frozen strawberry delight. She showed us the grinder attachment and actually ground rice flour for us to see for ourselves. Then she made taco soup in the Vita Mix and it ended up being nice and hot. We couldn't believe that it did it all by friction and that there wasn't a heating element. During the demo there were two old men (at separate times) who came by and commented that they both adored their own Vita Mixes and owned them for 40+ years. John actually followed one of the guys later to see if he was a plant (suspicious minds that we have). The demo had us sold from the beginning but lets just say that the delicious "ice cream" (not really ice cream so much as delicious frozen dessert) really put it over the top. We were chowing the samples and giving them to Becca. She was lapping them up! We grabbed our new friend Vita and put her in the cart right next to her grinding attachment "Millie".

I swear we have not wanted to leave the house since we brought Vita home. The kids are in on the action as well. They love to help us come up with things we should try for smoothies. They suck them down so fast and are back for more. We love it because the Vita Mix doesn't require a lot of food prep. You don't have to peel most things and you rarely have to cut anything up. You just wash it and pop it in. There is a plunger thing that helps you push the solid items down to the blades. When you eat or drink your concoction you're getting all the fiber and wonderfulness of the produce unlike a juicer that only extracts the juice and leaves the rest of the good stuff behind. So far we have made countless smoothies, tortilla soup, taco soup, 2 kinds of "ice cream" and have ground rice flour. The Hannon family unanimously loves our new best friend Vita!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Brrr......the temperature gauge in my car said it was 9 degrees pretty much all day today. Yesterday was also ridiculously freezing. We got about 4 inches of snow last night and this morning. In fact John shoveled our driveway at about 5:00am and then jumped in the shower. By the time he was ready to leave for work the driveway was covered again. I didn't bother to shovel. I just smooshed it down with the car so it could be a super slippery mess later. Okay, maybe that wasn't my intention, but that is what will happen since I am none too motivated to brave the cold and shovel it off. John is down in Denver till Thursday afternoon so it will be waiting for him I'm sure.

Becca was up so early this morning. I heard noise coming from her room at about 4:30am. I didn't let her out of her room until 6:30am and then I found out what had awakened her. Her diaper was messy. However, it wasn't loose at all which was a relief. After her bath she was full of energy and quite cheery. I had her all bundled up complete with snow boots on and in her car seat ready for carpool by 7:30am. By the time we picked up our carpool kids she was fast asleep. NOOOOOOO!!! She has preschool on Mondays and Wednesdays starting 8:30am. I knew I was going to rip her out of her toasty warm car seat and out of her peaceful slumber and I KNEW she wasn't going to be happy about it. She actually surprised me and wasn't as grumpy as I expected her to be. Probably because I whipped her out of her seat and carried her into school so fast that she didn't know what hit her. Poor baby. She was so out of it. She did well in school today though. The teacher said she was quite happy until she had to reprimand her for climbing on one of the other student's walkers. Becca tried to scratch her (I'm not sure exactly what she meant by that. I've never seen her do that. She usually tries to bite). When her teacher told her no, Becca looked in her eyes and popped out her bottom lip and began to cry. Her teacher was actually impressed that she responded to "no" and that she made eye contact. Apparently Becca was a hungry girl today too. She ate her GFCF snack I had packed and found a whole apple on the counter that she attacked as well. Nothing is safe from Becca Boo. You may think it's "out of reach", but if she sees it, she'll find a way to get it.

I went over to my sister Shauna's house this morning while Becca was in school. Poor Shauna has some dermatitis around her eye. Her eyelid and around the area was all puffy and pink. It looked sore and miserable. We had a nice visit if you don't mind 3 screeching little boys. Between Shauna's two little guys and the boy she babysits, it was mayhem. It brought back memories of my foray into babysitting. I don't miss it one bit! Still, we prevailed and had a nice chat. Matilda didn't wake up until about 15 minutes before I had to leave so I didn't get enough kissy, lovey time with my precious baby niece. Man, I love that baby girl!

Matilda has been Shauna and my movie buddy. Since Shauna is breastfeeding she goes wherever Shauna goes. She is going on 4 months old now, and so far we are still able to take her to movies with us with no problems. She has never fussed or been a problem. In fact, on Saturday we went to see "Bride Wars" and Matilda was awake almost the entire time. She sat happily on our laps, nursed a little and contentedly looked at the movie screen. She was a little distracting to me because I just can't help myself when I'm around her. I love holding her up to my face and talking to her. She is such a smiley happy little pumpkin. I love her madly!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Side Effects

I was warned not to remove all gluten and dairy cold turkey but that is exactly what I did. The caution was given as advice so as not to fail or so I thought. Maybe it was actually a warning that by going cold turkey the person on the new diet would turn into a monster. I wish I had taken the advice to heart but I'm just such an "all or nothing" kind of person that lacks patience. So when I was armed with a little information and a partially stocked pantry I just went for it. It wasn't really planned to go down the way it did. I really just planned to remove Becca's dairy and go from there. Instead I had some new food and just sort of ended up doing a full day of dairy free and gluten free. Once I had accomplished a full day I didn't want to soil Becca's stomach with anything bad the next day either. Thus began the immediate cut-off of all gluten and dairy.

After about the second day the awful diarrhea started. I won't go into much detail because I'm sure no one wants to hear about the horrific poo incidents we have endured with Becca. However, I have to say that it has been a ridiculously tough 10 days or so. We are convinced that Becca's body is "de-toxing" which is why her digestive system is so unpredictable right now. It has taken both John and I to change some of her diapers because of the incessant squirming, hysterical crying and jerky body movements. The one upside for Becca is that she has had multiple baths everyday which she loves. However, there was one bathing incident that turned into diarrhea soup which was the grossest thing ever. Since the diarrhea has been going on for so many days we have begun to become a bit concerned so I went to Walgreens to see what they had. I bought some probiotics but didn't realize till I was home that they contained casein so they weren't allowed. Kids Pepto Bismal doesn't say that it relieves diarrhea. The only other thing I could see was Immodium which wasn't recommended for children under age 6. Oh conundrum. I ended up not giving her anything and dare I say (knock on wood) it seems like it just may be clearing up on its own.

I haven't even mentioned the barfing. I'm not sure it is even slightly related to the diet or the diarrhea. Maybe Becca caught a bug of some sort. All I know is that at 3:00am on Thursday morning Becca was puking her little guts out. It was rough because we were staying in a hotel. John and I rushed Becca into the bathroom and cleaned her up and tried our hardest to calm her down. After a very stressful half hour I gave up and decided to pack the kids up and head home. We had been staying down in Lakewood with John at the Homestead Suites. John is having meetings down there this week and next so the NPS is putting him up and giving him a per diem. We thought it would be fun to join him and let the kids play hookie for a few days. The weather has been gorgeous and the Zoo and other outdoor adventures were calling our names. It would have been great if not for the monstrous side effects. Alas, the kids and I are home now sans John. He'll be home for the weekend and then will return down to the Federal Center next week. I just hope I'll have healthy kids because I'm getting so tired of doing laundry, changing linens every night (sometimes more than once) and cleaning up these horrid messes by myself.

I can't end on a bad note though. I have some really good news. The last couple of days Becca has begun chattering. Baby talk sounds. It sounds like she is speaking her own little language. She hasn't done this for over a year. The only sounds she has made regularly are simple vowel sounds and nothing remotely like language. We are so excited! This breakthrough is exactly what we were hoping for. We are hoping and praying that this is the beginning of continued language development. We are excited that her speech therapy might actually become beneficial. We know it is only chattering but when you haven't heard your child even try to do anything of the sort for so so long it is just such a beautiful sound!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Four letters. GFCF. They seem so deceptively simple and without a vowel they don't even make a word. Yet these 4 letters are an acronym that are pretty much defining my family's life right now. GFCF stands for Gluten-free casein-free which is a diet that prohibits all gluten and casein which is a protein found in dairy. We are starting down the overwhelming path of going GFCF because many people have seen such drastic changes in people with Autism. Many parents following the diet or lifestyle have had their non-verbal Autistic child begin to speak. They have seen less "stimming" (stimming is repetitive stereotypical behavior commonly found in autism. Hand flapping is one example of stimming), and overall better health and recovery from Autism.

According to one theory, some people with autism cannot properly digest gluten and casein, which form peptides, or substances that act like opiates in their bodies. The peptides then alter the person's behavior, perceptions, and responses to his environment. Some scientists now believe that peptides trigger an unusual immune system response in certain people. Research in the U.S. and Europe has found peptides in the urine of a significant number of children with autism. A build up in these peptides can block neuropathways and hinder the body from methylation. I know that might sound like gibberish to some, but to us it offers possibility of hope through something as simple as diet. If Becca's body is free of peptides and her gut can become healthy then perhaps her body can begin to methylate or clear itself of toxins and we will hopefully see her whole world change.

Going gluten-fee is much more complicated than simply cutting out wheat. Gluten and gluten-like proteins are found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye, barley, bulgar, durum, kamut and spelt, and foods made from those grains. They are also found in food starches, semolina, couscous, malt, some vinegars, soy sauce, flavorings, artificial colors and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins. There is gluten in all kinds of personal hygiene products as well. There is even gluten in Play Doh and some types of glue.

Casein is tricky too. You can't just cut out dairy because soy often triggers very similar results in people as well. So now we have to look for soy, dairy, wheat, and those grains I mentioned above.

I attended a very helpful support group for going GFCF which is run by a Mom who has had her family on the diet for 8 years. She was so incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and made the task seem less daunting and overwhelming. She had a specific program that she recommended which was a transitional period of 7 weeks doing one thing at a time. She recommended several good cookbooks and brand names. I ordered several books from amazon yesterday that I look forward to getting. She also gave us a sample of Dairi-Free by Vance Foods that is a powdered potato milk. It wasn't disgusting like the powdered milk of my childhood and it actually had a pleasant flavor and good creaminess. We ordered a case and it arrived yesterday. Becca has been off of dairy completely (step 1) for 3 days. We started out with almond milk and now are onto the potato milk.

We are going to make our house as GFCF as much as possible. The nutritionist I met with and Phyllis (the support group founder) both suggested that the home be all on one page. The other kids can get gluten and casein when they are out of the home. I'm not sure how strict I'll be about this since Becca is only 3 and there are still ways to hide things from her and to keep her in the dark. For instance, I didn't cancel our dairy delivery of milk (but cut my order back drastically). I use the milk bottles (after they've been sterilized) to house Becca's new milk and keep it in the refrigerator door. I've still been drinking milk and will until I feel like I need to change. We have cheese in the refrigerator but I only get it out when Becca isn't around. All other foods that have gluten have been moved out of the pantry and put onto shelves in our garage. I'm slowly beginning to turn the pantry into a "safe" place stocked full of GFCF foods.

I'm lucky that my kids love fruits and vegetables so there is so much we can eat that is fresh, whole and nutritious. I intend to become a GFCF cook extraordinaire when I get my cookbooks. I'm anxious and willing to try my hand at baking and hopefully in a few years time this will all seem like second nature. Yes I said years....Phyllis says it takes about 2 years until we will really know what we are doing and can substitute ingredients in a regular "Betty Crocker" type recipe. All I can say to close is that thank goodness we don't have to cut out meat!`

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's 2am and I can't sleep.

I could have blissfully fallen into slumber at about 11:30pm tonight but that was just when Santa needed to get going. John and I headed back up to the main floor to begin our Christmas layout. I still needed to clean up the remnants from our Christmas Eve feast with Shauna, Ty and her kids. I am so tickled even now just thinking about our "program" tonight. I had a script in hand and a playlist ready to go on my iPod but really, what can you possibly get done with kids ranging from 10 years to 3 months? Basically we summarized the nativity and had lots of participation from the boys. Oliver and Jack were trying to outdo each other with their knowledge of the nativity. "Jesus was born in a barn and he got some gold from a wise old man". Jack's words. Oliver said, "they just kept knocking and there just wasn't room anywhere at any of the places." Harrison offered, "I am a sheep and I was in the stable wondering; who are these people in my house?"

We also played the "right" "left" game where we have wrapped presents and pass them to the right or the left whenever each word is mentioned during a silly story. It is hilarious trying to play that with Elliott who is 2. He would latch onto a present and refuse to pass it either direction. Jack got very worked up at his cousin and finally refused to sit next to him. So Tyrone finally sat between his two boys and Jack moved over next to John. I was the narrator so I started cutting out many of the rights and lefts and basically read a story that made no sense. It didn't matter, the kids loved it and all ended up with a present they wanted. I got a "limited edition" Star Wars picture. You might think that Tyrone brought that. Nope. It came from my stash and I was hoping that Tyrone would end up with it and take it home with him. It got it free when I bought the boys' Star Wars Wii game I had pre-ordered from Blockbuster. I put it away immediately because we don't hang that kind of crap on my walls in my house. Well, we didn't before. Harrison asked me later if he could have it. I gave in and gave it to him. Hopefully it will be forgotten in the Christmas pandemonium later.

When Shauna's family first arrived the 4 boy cousins all begin playing with cars as fast as they could. They were running around a lot and basically being hoodlums. When it was time to settle down and eat, Jack declared he was hot and could he please take off his shirt. Let me just tell you about Jack. The kid cannot leave shirts on when he is home (or in the car). Even when it's freezing cold and we're all huddled up in blankets, Jack is running around bare chested. I find his discarded shirts all over the house. So tonight when I caved in and let him take off his shirt, his cousin Oliver decided he needed to do the same and on it went. Finally 3 out of 4 boy cousins had their shirts off.

Our dear friends, the Gardners are still waiting and praying for their daughter Brooke to recover from the car accident that their 3 girls were in. Brooke is 10 years old and is one of the girls in my "Activity Days" group (similar to Girl Scouts). She is a sweet girl who is so spiritual beyond her years. She is so smart and reads books well above her age range. She devours historical novels and refers to herself as "a language arts geek". She's a joy to have around and I miss her. Her family is all staying together at The Children's Hospital tonight waiting and praying for Brooke to wake up. Its been 19 days since the accident. Brooke is still in intensive care. Please pray for her and her dear family. We love them so much and wish them a Christmas Miracle!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Doors doors everywhere there's doors....

John doesn't have to work today so he and packed up Becca Boo and headed to Shauna's house to do some home improvement projects. It has been a door installation day. Shauna's door into the house from the garage had seen better days so she bought a new door for it. Her front door is a solid door with a non-functioning peep hole so she decided to replace it also with a beautiful new door with an oval plate of glass. It lets in a lot of light into her living room. It's freezing cold today so when John began by removing the garage door it made the house into an icebox. Brrr....the kids headed upstairs away from the drafty open doorway. Shauna, John and I toughed it out. It took almost three hours to demo the existing door frame and to replace it.
When that was done John headed to the front door hoping that the new door's hinges would match the old so he could just do a door swap. No such luck so it was demo part deux.

Ty just got home from work a little bit ago so that he and Shauna could take the family to Oliver's preschool for his Christmas open house. It is much quieter here now that they are gone. Now I'll I can hear is banging, the air compressor and sweet sweet silence. Becca Boo is asleep in Shauna's guest room. Bliss.

Even though Shauna and Ty have lived here for over a year now, it still blows my mind sometimes that we all live so close to one another. For years Shauna and I spoke almost daily during her commute to work. I would go to New Jersey to see her at least once a year and she would try to make it here also. Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves that we actually pulled it off; we live not only in the same state, not only in the same town, but within 5 minutes of each other. I am one happy girl. By the way, we still talk on the phone daily usually more than once a day.

I can't believe that Christmas is less than a week away. I had the decorations up before Thanksgiving so you'd think that I'd be ready for it to be here but I'm not. I think the Gardner family's accident really changed up everything for so many people. Time has felt so weird and it feels like the season should be paused until we have good news about Brooke. I just don't feel the celebratory sparkle I normally feel. I'm just so worried about their family and what the future may hold.

My boys are starting to question Santa Claus' existence. I've done my best to make them believe but I don't know if they actually do. Jack especially is very suspicious. He keeps asking me question after question about the practicality of Santa's whereabouts and how he actually pulls it all off. It's so sad to feel that the innocence of their fantasy beliefs may be crumbling. I'm not ready to let it go.