Friday, May 29, 2009

Rice chips: A Lifetime on the Hips

So, I have celiac disease. I just recently discovered this after testing positive for the antibodies the body creates to counteract the toxic effect gluten has on my system. I could go further and have some kind of -scopy done to scrape the villi off the inside of my intestines (or maybe it is the colon) to confirm the diagnosis, but since that sounds horrid, degrading and generally unpleasant, I've taken the test at its word and have stopped eating gluten anyway. No need to stick anything in any orifice of my body.

Since the diagnosis, I feel loads better. No more stomach problems. Except, without my organic version of Frosted Mini-Wheats, I am lacking in the fiber department. Must eat more beans. However, after 15 years of misery, I think I have finally solved the puzzle. Yippee Skippee! One of my favorite gluten-free treats are rice chips. I love love love them dipped in hummus! I have been eating them like two times a day.

Back in Ocotober 2007, I stopped eating gluten, dairy and peanuts for a food allergy experiment. I wanted to see if a certain type of food had been my tummy's arch nemesis all along. I didn't end up discovering the allergy because I got pregnant about a month after I began and started eating everything in sight, regardless of what it contained. But, I did lose a few pounds.

When I found out I had to cut out gluten - this time for good, I thought, "Okay, this is going to be an adjustment, but hey, maybe I'll finally lose those last ten pounds of baby weight. Not a bad gig."

So, yesterday I was looking at myself in the mirror. Nothing good ever comes from this, I know. And I was studying my stomach. I looked awfully bloated. Is it time for my period? Nooo... Am I gassy? Nooo... What could it be? Sure, I had lasagna a couple of nights this week, but not five pounds worth. I stood up straight and tried to suck in but I couldn't. I have never not been able to suck it in. I layed down on my side. What was this glob coming from my abdomen that just flopped over onto the bed? Is that my stomach? Oh wretched day, how had I gained weight? What evil curse is this?

I decided to investigate. I pulled out my gluten-free snacks and studied all the labels. Cereals? Low fat. Breakfast bars? Low fat. Veggie Booty? Low fat. Fruit? Of course, low fat. Rice granola? Low fat. Rice chips? Rice chips? What the crap?

For every 10 rice chips, there is SEVEN frams of gat. I mean, grams of fat. That is how flustered I was when I found out. I probably ate 30 chips at each seating, sometimes twice a day! The rice chips alone were sending me about 42 grams of fat per day! That is more fat than I should have on a daily basis with all my meals and snacks included! I had assumed they would be low fat and never even read the label. I know. Ass out of u and me. But mostly me. Geez. So, almost everyday for a month, I have been eating those damn rice chips.

There is no way I would ever be able to eat just five chips, or even the whole 10 chip serving. No way. Now I have to find a new snack. Man! I used to look forward to eating those rice chips when my son went down for his nap. Max was sleeping, I was eating rice chips, and all was right with the world.

So long, my fat friends. Good-bye forever. I loved you in the short time we knew each other. Farewell. Ta-ta. Now it's time for so long (I've been watching too much Blue's Clue's).

Wrinkles are a Girl's Best Friend

My immediate reaction to wrinkles: "Holy crap, who put that there?" But, when I really think about it, I kinda like wrinkles. On everybody.

My son and I were standing in the hallway mirror this morning, as we often do, so he could stare at himself, laugh and bat at his reflection. And, as I often do, I studied the differences in our faces. Not the Oh-my-God-my-baby-doesn't-look-like-me differences, but the variations in our skin. His skin is so white and even and smooth. Mine is so full of pot holes and blotchy colors and engraved lines. If I take the mental high road and manage not to trip and fall on my wrinkled face, then I can appreciate those engravings. Those wrinkles around my eyes? Those are the eight years I have spent laughing with my husband. Those wrinkles around my eyes? Also, all the crying I did our first year of marriage. Adjusting to marriage was not easy for me. I tend to look at the experiences I want out of life through rose-colored glasses, skipping the details and possible pitfalls, and only looking at the dreamy, fantasy-like possibilities. Then, when my dream comes true and I get what I want, I think, "Hey, this sucks. This is harder than I wanted it to be. What in the crap have I done?" This is always quite jarring. Then, I get a lesson in reality, I slowly adjust over time and life goes back to normal, whatever that is. Now, I love being married.

Wrinkles show how we got to where we are today. The highs, lows, laughs, and sobs. Even when wrinkles are the result of something harrowing, like addiction, there is still something deeper behind the addiction, a reason, a lack of self-worth, a history, damage, a personal struggle. The wrinkles tell a deeper story. The wrinkles around my mouth? Ten years of smoking on and off (don't worry Mom, I haven't smoked in three years, thank you very much!). Late night parties and lack of sleep in my twenties. Angry words that shouldn't have been said. Words that should have been said, but weren't. Lots of smiling, hiding my feelings, letting them out, masking my past pains. Wrinkles on my forehead? Genetics. The divorce of my parents. My sister's collapsed lungs. My sister's car wreck. My sister's appendicitis. My sister's infection. (Wait a minute, Jill. I think you owe me some plastic surgery) Marriage. My son's birth. Breastfeeding. Post-partum depression. Lack of sleep. Too much well-worth-it sunbathing. Therapy. Past boyfriends and broken hearts. On and on and on....

My son is brand new. Not stressed. Not damaged. And his face shows it. His beautiful, handsome, sweet, smooth face. Mine? Mine shows 34 years of love and happiness, stress, sadness, bad choices, and lots and lots of laughter. All of it, well worth it.

And when I think about my wrinkles from this perspective, how can I not embrace every single one? They tell the story of my life so far. Now give me a hug, you aging complexion!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grandma and my itchy butt

This is the sappy, remember-when, type of blog entry that might not interest anyone but my family, so I apologize to everyone else, but I must follow through...

My Grandma Blagg's birthday is on May would have been her 88th. She passed away in March of 2007. In honor of her birthday, I am remembering the things about her I loved, the memories I will always carry with me. By the time I was old enough to be interested in her as a person and not just as my Grandma Blagg, she had dementia and it was too late. She didn't know who I was anymore. The summers I spent at her house in Newport were the best of my life. I dreaded returning home to Fayetteville and a new school year every fall. Here are some of my memories of those summers, some fact, some feeling, some funny:

My grandmother could yodle with the best! Once, I remember her sitting at the kitchen table in Newport, yodling for me because I had begged and begged. She sang wonderful songs to us like, "Three Little Fishies" and she told amazing tall tales, sadly, none of which I remember. I wish someone remembered the tale she used to tell from the perspective of a little girl, a story about all the trouble the girl got into at her grandmother's house. I loved that story. I wish I could tell it to my kids. I do sing "Three Little Fishies" to my son and when I do, I think of her.

She also told stories about her life. I loved the stories about the time she saw a UFO at her cabin, and how she inspired the name of the restaurant chain, Whataburger! She relayed stories of her youth, playing basketball, how she met my grandfather, her highschool graduation day. I haven't heard these stories since I was a child, and I am sure I have forgotten or blurred the details of each and every one, but the feeling is still there. The way she held me captivated with her tales and details.

My grandmother was an artist. She created pictures with seeds. She made the most exquisite pictures and jewelry out of all types of seeds. The downstairs of her home had a desk covered in hundreds of different colors, shapes and sizes of seeds. When I was a child, she made a picture of a clown for me out of seeds. I have since lost it and this makes me so sad. I do, however, have some of the necklaces she made. On a couple of occasions, my grandmother helped my sister and I make seed jewelry, as well. Ours never turned out as beautiful as hers, but we felt so accomplished after creating our little works of art.

Her house didn't have central heat and air, so there was an AC unit in the living room. I loved sitting on the back of the couch, directly in front of it, the air cooling my neck and shoulders. The heat came out of a large grate in the floor of the living room, much like the grates one would see on sidewalks, which remained hot in the winter months. I was afraid of stepping on the metal grate and falling through into the unknown, dark abyss of whatever lay beneath the floor.

She had a TV on a rolling stand in the living room and sometimes she would let us roll it into the doorway of the kitchen so we could watch TV while we ate her cozy, home-cooked meals.

She kept pots and pans inside the stove.

She had a microwave that I never saw her use.

She wore a lot of wigs and kept the large, downstairs walk-in closet full of them, plus hats, scarves, jewelry, purses, and old clothes. My sister and I would pretend that the closet was our house and we would dress up in her wigs and hats, carry her purses around the house and fill them with bathroom accessories and trinkets.

Her house was split-level with a breezeway in between the two floors. I LOVED the breezeway. She kept plants in the breezeway, along with storage boxes and the deep freeze. I used to sit on the deep freeze until I was told to get down and I would search endlessly through the freezer, looking for ice cream treats. There was also a window above the freezer which led into one of the bedrooms. My sister and I thought it was so mysterious that there was a window in the house that didn't lead to the outdoors, but to another place inside! We would crawl through that window everytime we visited as well, until again, we were told to stop.

My grandmother had a pecan tree in her backyard and we spent hours every summer picking pecans from the lower branches and the ground. Then she would gather them up and bake something wonderful with them!

I loved the sound of the green, wooden, screen door slamming behind me when I went to the backyard from the laundry room and the sound of the swinging kitchen door, swooshing behind me as I went from one room to the next.

When we visited, my sister and I slept on the pull-out couch in the living room. Every night before bed, we would roll the TV up to the couch, curl up in our pajamas, and watch old episodes of Star Trek. It was a nightly ritual and my first exposure to the show. Then, if we were lucky, we got to stay up even later and watch the late night talk shows.

Before my great-grandmother, Mama Jane, went into a nursing home, she lived with my grandmother. She always wore housecoats and slippers and I'm not sure how much she enjoyed my sister and I visiting. We were a nuisance sometimes, I'm sure. The main thing I remember about her is that she DID NOT like it if my sister and I slept past dawn. She wanted us up early for breakfast and thought we were wasting the day if we weren't up by 8 am. Some mornings, I pretended I was sleeping on the pull-out couch and I would listen to my grandmother and great-grandmother arguing in the kitchen. My grandmother went to bat for us, telling Mama Jane that we could sleep in if we wanted to! I always loved her for that.

My grandmother had an old, long, green car which she never drove because she didn't like driving, so we never went anywhere when we visited, unless someone else drove.

There was an intoxicating portrait of my grandaddy hanging over the piano in the living room. I was always fascinated by it because it was so blue! His eyes were a soft blue, and either his shirt or the background were blue, I can't remember which. It was just blue and peaceful. I was also fascinated by it because I never got to meet my grandaddy. He died while my mother was pregnant with me. I liked staring at it, imagining what he might have been like and how we would have played together. Would he have carried me on his back like he carried my cousins in a picture I saw once? Would he tell me jokes? Would we eat ice cream and pie together (I was told that he always said he only liked two kinds of pie - hot and cold!)? Would he let me use his coffee mug?

There is one memory about my grandmother that will last for this entire lifetime, even if everything else fades away. And it is a strange, funny and embarassing one. I was quite the dramatic hypochondriac as a child. I was always afraid something was wrong with me, scared I was going to get cancer mostly, but my fear was certainly not limited to that particular disease. My dad was also a hypochondriac, which is why my sister and I worried about our health so much. One summer, before our visit to Newport, I had read or heard about how people can get worms. I think I was around nine or ten years old. Before that day, I didn't know it was possible for a human to contract worms. I was mortified, to say the least. So, we go to Newport and one night, my butt crack starts itching and it wouldn't stop. I couldn't sleep because it was itching so bad! Itch, scratch, itch, scratch. I didn't know what was wrong with me! There must be only one explanation, I thought. I have worms. I thought worms must have crawled into my butthole and now it itched because they weren't supposed to be there. I drove myself into a terrifed frenzy and started crying, afraid I was being eaten from the inside out. My parents were five to six hours away in Fayetteville! What was I going to do? So, I woke up my grandmother. We sat at the kitchen table and I told her all about my probable worm infestation. She sat and listened, never once laughing at me (which is what I think I might have done had one of my grandchildren told me she thought she had worms living in her butt). She hugged me and sat up with me into the wee hours of the night, reassuring me that everything would be fine and we would call my parents in the morning and tell them about my problem. I felt so much better that I eventually stopped crying and went to bed. The next morning, the itchy butt problem was gone and I had forgotten all about my worm fears. I was fine. I don't think I ever thanked my grandmother for sitting up with me all night, for hugging me, not laughing at me, and telling me everything was going to be okay. It meant so much to me and I'll never forget that night as long as I live.

Thank you Grandma for all the wonderful memories, thank you for loving me and taking care of me during those many summers. They were the best summers of my life. I miss you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Holy Crap.

Worst disgusting mommy chore night yet. Bad things always seem to happen when my husband is out of town. It is a horrible conspiracy by the universe to force me to deal with problem situations head-on.

So, my son and I are eating dinner in our dining room/living room, he in his high chair and I at the table. When he is finished with his delicious squash, corn and chicken mixture, I put him next to me in his jumperoo so I can finish eating my gluten-free lasagna. Everything is going smoothly, my son is laughing and smiling, there was no gagging or puking at dinner. Seemed like we were going to make it throught the night without any major catastrophes. Yeah, right.

I get up from the table and go into the kitchen to get a glass of water. I look in on my son in the living room and he is still jumping and laughing and smiling, having a fine time. I notice his feet slipping around on the hardwood floor. Then I notice a slimy film under his feet that has been smeared as far as his litte legs will reach. What the? At first I thought my dog had drooled under the jumperoo and Max was smearing it around the floor. Or Max's sweaty, chubby feet were leaving sweaty smears on the floor (my son's feet sweat a lot!). Then I thought perhaps Max peed and it somehow went out the side of his diaper, down his leg and onto the floor. I didn't smell anything foul, so surely it wasn't poop? Right?

I reluctantly went back into the living room, fearing the worst, and kneeled down next to my son. Just as I had feared. Brown everywhere. My worst fear had come to life. Poop. He had pooped in the five minutes he was in his jumperoo and it had made its way out of his diaper on both sides and squished down his legs and he was smearing it all over the floor!! He thought it was fun, slipping and sliding, laughing with delight. I was in shock. How had I not smelled anything foul? I managed to get it together and evaluate the damage. There was poop everywhere - in his toenails, between his toes, in the baby-fat crevices of his legs, behind his knees, on his calves, his chins, and it was smeared in big, poopy circles all over my hardwood floor. There was no one to help me. I was on my own.

I immediately filled the sink with water for his bath and got out his towels and shampoo/soap. I had to leave him smearing around poop in his jumperoo because I couldn't put him anywhere until the bath was full. He was still giggling and having a grand time. I left the water running in the sink, grabbed him and took him to his changing table, where I ripped off his doo doo clothes and tried to get as much poop off him as I could. Some of it had dried already! I scrubbed his toes with wipes and still couldn't get it to come off! I took off his diaper and cleaned the mess, including the poop that had crept up his back. Ack! I swept him up and took him to the bath, only to find that the water was overflowing! Thank goodness I had placed a towel on the edge of the sink because it soaked up most of the water before it flowed onto the floor. So, I had to hold my son with one hand while I drained some of the water out, which caused poop to get smeared on my dress. Great.

After giving him an extensive bath, I changed my clothes, put him in his pj's, and put him to bed. I cleaned the sink, disinfected his bath toys, started a load of doo doo laundry, scrubbed and mopped the wood floor, and now I am writing this, wishing I had a drink in hand. Sometimes I can't believe I'm not drunk everyday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

yackety-yak and oh my pasta stars!

Today has been suckity suck suck sucky. It has just been one of those days when nothing goes right, all goes wrong, and you lose your will to put forth any effort for a productive day. I won't get into ALL the sordid details, but one of the highlights was that my son threw up on me again, after already throwing up on me last night. He isn't sick, he just can't handle any textured foods. Last night he gagged and threw up on his stage 2 baby food that had absolutely NO texture to it whatsoever and had to be thrown immediately into the bath. Fun, fun, fun. His gag reflex is serious! I have to ask the pediatrician about it next week because I don't know what to do anymore. He turned nine months old today (yay! I can't believe it!) and so we tried to start him on stage 3 foods. It was a no-go. He managed to get through breakfast without throwing up, just a lot of gagging. So, at lunchtime, we gave him chicken and pasta stars. At first, he was doing pretty well. Some gagging, not a lot. Then he sneezed and a pasta star came out of his mouth and stuck to his nostril. As I went to wipe it off his face, he sniffed and sucked that star right up his nose.

Gone forever.

I looked up his nostril and there was noooo sign of it. I couldn't believe it. He didn't act like he even noticed that a piece of pasta was now living in his nasal cavity.

So, we continued feeding. One bite, the next bite, the next bite had a tiny piece of chicken in it... gagging... gagging...and there it is... projectile vomit. I've lost count now of how many times he has projectile vomited during feeding. It is really worrying me! So, into the bath he went again. Afterwards I started crying for about the third or fourth time today, worried that my son has an oral dysfunction, or autism, or large tonsils, or will need occupational therapy, or ... you get the picture.

When it was time for his nap, he fought it for about an hour until he began crying. I brought him another bottle to help calm him down. I rocked him, he drank, his eyelids fluttered with exhaustion, and then something wonderful happened...he fell asleep in my arms for the first time in months. He is usually awake when we put him down, too busy to fall asleep immediately, even when he is really tired! But this time was different. He was so peaceful, so relaxed, so happy to be rocking with me...he fell asleep in my arms. And you know what happened? The whole day just washed away. I cried again for the fourth or fifth time today, but it was a grateful cry instead of the usual I-need-a-vacation cry. Soooo grateful to be Max's Mommy.

But still, thank God we get to start over tomorrow.

Max after his nap, messy hair and all that sweet baby goodness!

Friday, May 15, 2009

They're Here...

Oh yes, they have finally arrived. I have dreaded this day for months. They seem to have reared their ugly heads early, although maybe they are right on time. How would I know? I've read many books and articles about how to tame them, although none of this information has seemed to help me in my times of need. I'm talking about the freaking temper tantrums. Today was full of them! Kicking the legs, swinging the arms, slamming the fists, screaming, convulsing, bawling. All this from an eight month old. Lord, what do I have in store for me?

The tantrums started at breakfast. I tried to feed him yogurt. Big mistake. He hates all foods except for jar baby food. Anytime I have tried to give him something different, like a puree that I have made, yogurt, or finger foods, he starts gagging and throws up. He is very dramatic like his mama. But, I decided to give yogurt another try. Atleast this time he did not throw up. He just refused to open his mouth. He kept looking at the yogurt cup like, "Hmmm...that isn't the container my food usually comes in...better refuse it to be safe." Everytime I tried to give him a bite he would hit the spoon and send yogurt flying into my face, or grab the spoon and rub the yogurt all over his face and in his hair. He fussed. He fought. Finally, I tried to give him his jar baby food, but he refused, like he was punishing me for trying to trick him with the yogurt. More fussing. More fighting. Mommy finally gave up.

Next tantrum. Morning nap time. My son didn't want to take his nap (duh). So instead, he stood in his crib, holding on to the sides and shaking the bars like King Kong. Then, he threw his pacifier between the wall and his crib so Mommy had to climb under the crib and use a rattle to bat the pacifier out from underneath. When I left the room, he threw his pacifier out again. Not funny. So, I left that one under the crib and gave him a different one. He finally fell asleep.

Rinse and repeat for afternoon nap time. Now there were two pacifiers stuck between the wall and the crib.

Next tantrum. Diaper changing time. This is a recurrent temper tantrum. These tantrums began a couple of months ago and have just gotten worse. He HATES GETTING HIS DIAPER AND CLOTHES CHANGED!!!! It's bad. Today was the worst one yet. He had pooed in his diaper. These tantrums are always the scariest for Mommy and Daddy because his writhing body could sling poo in any direction at anytime. So, I'm changing his poopy nappy and he is wiggling all over the table. His face is turning red with anger, he aggressively twists his body to the left, then the right, back to the left. I can barely keep the poo from smearing all over the table. I am trying to be calm and I tell him to stop moving, Mommy needs to change your isn't working. I start to yell instead. Stop Moving! Mommy Needs To Change Your Diaper! Not working. He starts kicking his legs and shimmying down the table until he is about to fall off, head first. Then he starts crying and slamming his fists on the table, tears falling down his red face. I have no idea what to do. You can't talk sense into an infant. You can't make them be still. I was so exhausted by the time it was all over that I had to sit down and spend a few minutes just catching my breath. And of course, he was perfectly fine the minute I put him on the floor. Happy as a lark.

Next tantrum. Dinner at Kobe. Okay, this was our first embarrassing incident in a public place. Horrible. We knew this day would come, but I was hoping maybe I had given birth to the rare child who loves sitting still in restaurant highchairs and is content just to people watch. Not so. When we arrive, I put our cover on the highchair (which takes me an unusually long period of time) and my husband clumsily slips our son into the chair. This being only our second restaurant highchair experience, we didn't notice the thin strap that is supposed to go in between our son's legs to keep from slipping. All of a sudden, Max starts sliding down in the chair and we catch him only right before he is about to hit the floor. He is understandably upset, we are understandably embarrassed, and all the other patrons are understandly staring at us. We tried to pull him up out of the chair, but his arms were wedged where his legs were supposed to go, so we were pulling and struggling to get him out. I had his left arm and Steve had his right. I'm sure it was amusing for everyone else. Atleast they had something to talk about at dinner. It was all downhill from there. Max then refused to sit in the highchair, probably for fear of his life, but he didn't want to be held either. He wanted to crawl around Kobe's floor, which of course we were not going to let him do. No toy would entertain him. Nothing would distract him. He was squirming out of our arms and we were ferociously trying to keep him from plummeting to the floor. He was grabbing for our food, throwing his toys and our chopsticks under the table, he stuck his fingers in Steve's wasabi and soy sauce mixture, which sent them both to the bathroom for hand washing. And...all the customers were staring at us. It wasn't my imagination, they really were. Whether they were feeling sorry for us or thinking we are incompetent parents, I'm not sure. Probably the latter. Especially if they were present to witness the highchair incident. After all this, we decided to take turns taking him outside while the other sat alone in the restaurant to eat. I told Steve to eat first and by the time I got back, my salmon and edamame were cold and I was ready to go home. We skipped getting the mochi ice cream, which was the reason we went to Kobe in the first place and we high-tailed it out of there.

Max is now asleep in his crib, possibly plotting more schemes for tomorrow. Even after all the fights today, he smiled at me in his crib tonight and I was his in love, so in love. But, as I have said before, thank God we get to start over tomorrow.