In fear of gluten

I live in fear of gluten.  It’s true. No, I won’t have an anaphylactic reaction to gluten.  No, I don’t think it will kill me.  But it will make me vomit.  And I HATE to vomit.  I hate the feeling before and the feeling after- it’s all miserable.  And there is no way for me to guess how long it will last.  Or if it was really gluten or a stomach bug of some sort.  So I live in fear.  Of gluten.  Mostly of the crumbs that may contain gluten.

I live in a house full of gluten.  I am hyper-aware of anything that contains it and I will avoid it.  And wash my hands excessively.  And wash things over and over again.  With new sponges.

And I watch people in my kitchen.  I’m sure I drive people nuts.  If I see someone set a utensil down on the counter I wonder if there is a crumb there.  When was the last time I cleaned the counter?  Are they planning to put that back in the food?  How can I distract them and put a new clean one out, on a clean plate that I’m also pulling out of the cabinet.  Fresh.  Gluten free.

I try to tell myself to chill out.  Relax.  Trust people.  Uh-huh.  You true them.  You vomit.  That’s what happens.

Even at work, on treat day, when people bring in a bag of something thats gluten free, or a fruit or veggie, I am very suspicious.  If it’s an unopened bag of chips I try to sneak in and get some in a bowl before anyone has the chance of sticking their hand in there.  A hand that may have a glutinous crumb on it somewhere.  If it’s fruit they prepared at home, I don’t bother.  They could have cut it on a counter that had crumbs.  Or used a knife that they just used to slice bread with that was put back in the drawer without being washed because it’s not “dirty”.

I scan everything with an app on my phone that tells me if an item has gluten in it.  I also have it alert me to aspartame, but that’s another story… I even scan bottled water. You never know what they will put in something.  The one time it said it was an at your own risk kind of thing because it didn’t have information about the water company.  So see?  There could be gluten floating in that water!

It was my birthday the other day.  I bought candles to put in the cupcakes I had made by someone I trust (imagine that! I do trust some people!) but there were no ingredients listed. So I wouldn’t stick them in my cupcake.  I put one in my older daughters and my husbands cupcake and I blew those ones out.  I couldn’t risk the fact that maybe they had gluten in the coloring of the candle.

Someone tole me about a new cafe in town that advertised gluten free goodies.  I walked in. I walked out.  They had a big display case of pretty, delicious looking food. But it was all in the same case.  Gluten filled and gluten free.  That to me does not mean gluten free.  That means crumbs of all shapes and sizes are floating around in there and contaminating the gluten free items.

Have you seen Monsters, Inc?  When they freak out and sanitize the monster that had a sock on them.  That’s my reaction to gluten.  I freak out.  Because I don’t want to vomit.  There is no pill I can take to lesson the effects gluten has on me.  I can drink some aloe to try to soothe my stomach.  I can use an oil blend to rub under my ribs to hopefully lessen the burn. But I can’t just pop a pill  and feel better.  Who knows, that pill might have gluten in it even if one did exist!


Surrounded by Gluten!

It is unfortunate that in my house, I am surrounded by gluten.  My husband and older daughter eat it.  And as much as I would love if they would quit, I don’t expect them to offer to do that.  If I didn’t have to eat this way, I wouldn’t either!

There are some things I do to make sure I don’t get glutened though.  A lot of things actually.

I have my own frying pans.  Only non-gluten items are cooked in these pans.

I use glass for food storage.  Left overs and anything that I take to work is stored in glass containers.  I use a lot of mason jars too. I found lids for them that are plastic and easy to clean so I use all the jars that we have from jelly and spaghetti sauce.

I get a new dish towel out about every 5 minutes.  Ok, not that often.  But every time the one I get out is touched by someone else, I get a new one out.  Or if Evelyn takes off running with it, I get a new one out.  (She likes to put them on her head and walk around)

I wash my hands.  A lot.  To the point of my hands cracking.

I have my own toaster.  And toaster oven.  No gluten has ever gone in these two appliances.

I refuse to touch wheat bread.  Annabelle gets mad at me because I won’t make her toast.  Crumbs scare me.  And wheat bread is the worst!  She can make it herself if she really wants it, she’s old enough to put bread in a toaster.  But, if she wants me to make it, she gets gluten free bread.

I have my own colander, measuring cups, containers of sugars, salt and other baking items that could be dipped into with a contaminated spoon.  Sugar is gluten free, but not if you dip a measuring cup in flour and then into the sugar.  So I keep gluten free versions in my cabinet.

I have two cabinets dedicated to gluten free cooking tools and spices/ingredients.  I have a separate shelf in the pantry for gluten free food only.  I keep everything as separated as possible.

Yes, I wish the whole house was gluten free.  But no, I don’t wish this on anyone.  At least Evelyn is still gluten free with me- she really has no other choice, it’s the only thing I feed her and everyone respects that because of the risk of her contaminating me.




Life’s moving along…

I love to write.  But you can’t tell that by my lack of posts.  Usually, I’m so exhausted from taking care of 3 people’s basic needs, that I just fall asleep at night once I get them sleeping.  Lately, I’ve gone past the point of tired before Evelyn falls asleep, so then I’m up for awhile thinking.

Life’s moving along…

I love my job.  It’s been a little more hectic this year, but I love it.  I just signed up for a free trial of a time tracking service for School Counselors.  I’m interested in seeing the data and how my day is spent.  Most days I don’t eat lunch.  Or if I do, it’s while I’m with students, or on a phone call.  Yogurt has been my go to lunch- no crunch for people to hear 🙂

Evelyn is becoming quite a demanding toddler.  She’s still nursing at 20 months and I don’t think she will want to stop any time soon.  She takes awesome naps for her caregiver, but won’t nap without me at home.  She has so much personality packed into her little toddler body!  Tonight she got excited and threw something at me from 2 inches away.  I will be surprised if I don’t have a black eye in the morning.  She wasn’t being mean, she was just excited.  She’s a toddler.  They do things like that.


Annabelle moved up in swimming and is now in a higher level.  I talked to her coaches about her screaming fits before swim class and said she was bored.  So they talked it over and decided she could move up mid-season.  She is liking it, I can tell.  She does a LOT more swimming so I’ll be interested to see how next week goes with her swim meet.


My husband started out the year with international travel for work. And he heads out again in March.  And then later in March.  We are hoping the new degree he is pursuing will help him move into a role at his work that won’t involve travel.  It’s hard when the kids are so young for him to be gone.  I can’t imagine how the families do it that have someone deployed for months!

And me.  Well, I’m just trying to keep my head above water.  I am on a 3 week dosage of antibiotics to try to clear out this chronic sinus infection I have.  It’s so bad that I have a sensation of smelling smoke for long periods of time each day.  I had a CT Scan done of my sinuses and the doctor prescribed me the meds.  Of course, since I am not a fan of antibiotics, I put it off for awhile, but I am taking them now.  I had to make sure they were gluten free and that they were safe for nursing.  I did manage to run a mile today.  Which was nice.  Annabelle stood there telling me which parts of my body were jiggling. But at least Evelyn didn’t try to get on the treadmill with me, so I consider that a win.  And will be doing it again!  Soon!

That’s us in a nutshell right now.  Busy working and playing.


Her storm. My calm.

My daughter has been experiencing what I can only describe as a storm of emotions.  When she has these experiences, she leaves me feeling like I just took on a tornado.  They are explosive and turbulent and what looks to an outsider like an irrational response to some neutral stimuli.  Like washing your hair.  That’s what did it tonight.

Both girls were in the tub together playing.  Evelyn wanted out so I told her I had to wash her hair  first and quickly did that.  Of course then Annabelle wanted to get out too, so I told her to get her hair wet so she could wash her hair. She stuck her hand out so I could put shampoo in it.  I always put shampoo and then conditioner in her hand to mix together so it’s only one scrub and rinse.  But tonight she took that shampoo and quickly rubbed it on her head.  So I said ok well scrub that out and we can move on to conditioner.  She started whining that she wanted to do them together.  Then she stuck out her hand so I put the conditioner in it.  As she’s rubbing that in and sobbing, she said she wanted to start over and do them together.  I said ok, and got the shampoo and conditioner and put some together in her hand and told her to scrub.

She was sobbing, kicking, screaming…and I told her to scrub it and then she could get out.  I watched her for another minute and then told her it looked good.  Press the drain, pull the bath mat up and get out.  I left the room with the baby to get her dressed.

And the screaming got louder.  And louder.  And louder.  She was kicking in the tub and screaming and yelling for me to answer her.  When this happens, I usually just say “I’ll answer you when you are calm” and go on my way until she’s ready.  Tonight it lasted a long time.  I eventually went back in there and told her to stand up.  I wrapped the towel around her and physically picked her up and carried her to her room.  She was kicking.  I’m lucky she didn’t catch me in the shin and knock us both down.  I set her down in her room, opened her pajama drawer and told her to get dressed. Before I left the room she was pointing to a book with her foot and asking me what the word was in the title.  While screaming.

A few minutes later she came out and asked nicely for a snack.  As if nothing had happened.  And I told her she could have some yogurt.

We’ve been through months of these storms.  Sometimes I can’t identify what started them.  This morning she woke up in the middle of one.  But after I got out of the shower she was all smiles and a completely different person.  They have involved throwing, kicking, screaming, swatting at me…it’s been extreme.  Sometimes I lose my patience and yell back at her, and then regret it, because I know it doesn’t help.  Sometimes if I say I will take a certain toy away she will calm down.  Sometimes that escalates her behavior and she becomes stuck on that, and asks over and over if I am going to take it.  Sometimes I go in and start taking toys and I put them on top of the fridge.  Sometimes she tells me she doesn’t care about that toy anyways.

I’m a counselor.  I should be able to solve this.  But no matter what I do, or what I say, it’s wrong.  In the middle of her fit, she will yell at me that none of my suggestions work, and do I have any other ones to help her calm down?  She doesn’t like anyone to see her after she has been crying. The only person that is allowed to see it is me.  So if we are going somewhere, the storm will get worse as she realizes that it’s almost time to go, and that she will see someone else that may notice her face is red.

She has always been good at controlling herself at school and with other adults.  But lately she has started to struggle with that also.  I am not sure if it is due to the deaths she has experienced, or her sister being so needy towards me, or if she is actually as bored with life as she tells me she is, but something’s got to give.

I am amazed when I can stay so calm during her storms.  Sometimes I feel like I am calm because I have given up trying with her and know that no matter what I do, she will continue to scream until she works herself out of this storm.  I know there will be an end to it.  But I also know that offering her things or demanding things are unreasonable requests when she’s in the midst of the storm.

I took her to see a counselor.  She didn’t want to go.  I went back with her and answered the questions for the counselor and asked Annabelle all along if I was correct.  She agreed with everything I said.  Admitted to her behavior.  She didn’t seem proud or ashamed of it.  The counselor asked about sensory.  And as I started talking about her intolerance of tags and seams and colors in her food and her food touching….I knew where she would send us.  We are headed to get a sensory profile evaluation done to see if she has a sensory processing disorder.  She wouldn’t be flagged for this in school because she is also very intelligent.  And I think this is part of the problem.  Her brain is more advanced than her emotions and they clash together, causing the thunder and rain in these storms.

I’ve talked to a few people who have children with similar characteristics.  It’s so helpful to talk to people who understand this extreme behavior.

Hopefully with the help of this counselor, and answers from the sensory profile, I will be able to help her effectively manage these storms as she gets older.  I can’t imagine they will just go away. They aren’t as easy to clean up as the poop the one year old left on the floor for me tonight…but that’s another story…

When Grief Sneaks Up

My last post was about my father in law having cancer.  And this one is about his death.  He passed away on Saturday, September 12.  My husband flew down on Friday, September 11.  I am convinced he was hanging on until my husband and his brother were in the same room.

We’ve known this was coming.  It was inevitable.  Well, there are miracles, and I will still believe that even if one didn’t happen this time.  But, we knew.  I talked to my daughter about it, and she knew it was coming.  But it still shocked us.

Up until I was cooking dinner tonight, I had a lot of distractions from grief.  Well, to be honest, I have 2 distractions.  One is 6 and one is 1.  And they distract me with their ever present need for me, or for me to do something for them.  My husband was home so he was out in the backyard with them while I cooked.  And I was browning up meat for shepards pie when I had a memory come flashing back to me, and then I was working hard not to start sobbing because of it.

When my husband and I moved to Florida to go to graduate school, my father in law drove down with me.  My husband was already down there, and I had to drive some of our stuff down.  So my father in law drove in his van in front of me, and I drove my car behind him.  We were both loaded with stuff for the new place.  It was a fun trip.  We would chat on our phones if needed.  I sang into a tootsie pop.  A lot.  And we made it down there.  To the tiny apartment we had rented while house hunting.

While in the apartment one night, my father in law suggested we make meatballs.  I told him I didn’t know how.  So he taught me.  And I’m pretty sure I set off the fire alarm in the process.  But we also talked and worked side by side in this tiny kitchen we had.

Such a forgetful memory. Until the person in the memory dies.  And you are doing something that you once did with them.

Grief sneaks up on you.  And I see it with my daughter too.  She will be fine, playing, smiling…and then she just starts sobbing and says “Grandpa!”  It’s like a wave that hits you.  You aren’t expecting it and then WAM! You have tears in your eyes and your heart suddenly feels this ache that makes you want to scream and cry.

It’s going to be a long grieving process in our house.  My father in law is a very loved man.  And his death has left a hole in our hearts, and in our lives.  I’m confident that grief will be sneaking up on us a lot, especially in the next year.  We’ve always had Christmas with him.  And a vacation in the summer.  And we’ve used Skype or FaceTime at least 3 times a week for years.  Plus Facebook has that “On this day” feature that gave me this picture today:


This was 3 years ago today.  For Bears/Packers day at preschool.  When she wore her Steelers gear.  And Grandpa happened to be visiting us.

It’s times like these that I am glad I go crazy with pictures.  I have so many pictures of my daughter with her grandfather and I feel like these will help us work through our grief.  We will have these reminders of great memories with him.  And we will be able to tell the stories about the pictures to Evelyn since she won’t get to know him like Annabelle did.

Death is sad.  Cancer sucks.  But love is still alive.  And I’ll take these waves of grief, if they provide these brief glimpses of the love we have for a man we will all miss very much.

Life is definitely a roller coaster!

Life has been pretty exciting lately!  We spent 5 weeks traveling and are now back into our routine of school, work, swim and play.  We visited with a lot of family this summer.


Life has recently also become very sad 😦  Around the time I wrote my last post, my father in law was diagnosed with cancer.  They first were told that it didn’t spread.  But as he “recovered” from surgery, he wasn’t really recovering well.  So they discovered that it spread and they told him he had a few months left to live.

Because of this, we headed down to visit him before he got too ill to visit with his granddaughters. Luckily, I was still on summer break from school and we were able to spend almost a week down there.

Because my 6 year old is a highly anxious child, I have talked to her along the way in little conversations about cancer and what will happen.  She definitely thinks about it a lot. And asks some questions when they come up.  But she’s handling it ok at the moment.  The baby won’t remember and has no idea what’s going on.  Which adds a whole nother aspect of sadness to this situation.

My father in law is such a great grandfather.  I am jealous that I didn’t have someone like him when growing up, but have been fortunate to have him in my life for the last 11 years of my marriage.

So amidst the happiness of our everyday active life, there is also this layer of sadness.  He wouldn’t want us to be sitting around sad though.  He was joking with us and having a good time when we were down there.  He comes on Skype a lot when we are talking to grandma.

I think this diagnosis and quick deterioration is making my husband and I work more like a team.  We are trying to be there for each other, and the kids, at the same time.  And it’s so easy to get into a routine and not think about the other person in the team of marriage with you.  At least for us it is.  Between work and school and a baby that doesn’t sleep, we each have our roles and have stuck to them.  But now we are trying to be more intentional about working together and supporting each other through everyday life, as we go through the end of life for his dad.

As the baby starts to sleep more, and life “evens out” with the routine of school, I hope to be able to write more.  We are working hard on organizing the house in spare moments (when we moved a year ago, I was VERY pregnant and not able to do too much, and we are just now rearranging things and making it our home)

Until then, know that I am probably doing the same things I have been for a year.  Wearing my baby around the house and on our adventures, and working at a job I love during the week.

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Gluten free? Just like fat free? Right? NO!!!

I had a work thing today.  A day of training.  And as usual, I packed a lunch.  I never expect to go out to eat, or to be invited anymore.  There are no safe restaurants close enough to where I work to go out to eat.

But today they announced that they were having lunch brought in as a surprise.  From a local restaurant.  And they announced that there would be vegan and gluten free options.  My friends looked at me like “Oh yeah! She can eat!” But I immediately start getting anxious.  And goggling the restaurant.  And not finding ANYTHING saying they offer gluten free options.  Plus I would have to call and ask them how it was prepared.  Yes.  I’m that person.  I have a lot of questions sometimes.

So the food comes and everyone can smell it and they set it all up.  Buffet style.  In my perfect little world in my head, where people understand gluten allergies and celiac disease, I’m thinking “maybe they set the gluten free stuff to the side.” When really what I’m saying to my friends is “if if twas gluten free, buffet style serving just made it no longer gluten free.”

They finally release our table to get food and I go up just to ask.  It could happen, right?  Some day, I will be able to eat at a work function.  This was the conversation:

Me: You said there were gluten free options?

Her: Well…they said none of the pasta is gluten free.  But the salad obviously is.

Me: (Looking at the salad covered in croutons and pepperoni) Mm-hmm

Her: And there are veggies and potatoes of course

Me: (Checking out the items and noticing they are covered in some un-identifiable seasoning)

Her: And they said the chicken is very low gluten

Me: (WHAT!!????) Well, I’m HIGHLY allergic, so I’ll just eat what I brought.  Thanks!

Seriously.  Gluten free is not like fat free.  There’s no such thing as low gluten.  Especially when it’s fried, breaded chicken.  There’s nothing low gluten about it!

I promise I was nice to the lady.  I really wanted to educate her, but I refrained this time.  I had to eat what I brought and pump so I could be back in time for the next topic we were learning.  She didn’t work for the restaurant.  No one else was asking for gluten free options.  I went back to my friends and let them know about the conversation.  They are used to me talking gluten free, so they all get it.

Some day, people will understand that a speck of gluten could hurt someone who’s allergic or someone who has celiac.  It will not send me into anaphylactic shock, like peanuts do to some people, but it will make me very sick.  And for a celiac, it could do a lot of damage to their insides that would take weeks to clear out!

Until that time, I’ll continue to carry chicken in my purse.  And maybe soon in a fanny pack 🙂 (That one’s for you Mel!)