Monday, February 25, 2013

Mourning cheese.

Seriously. Cheese is a big deal in this house. We love it.

But I no longer eat it because I am allergic to cow's milk.

Sad, sad panda.

It's been long enough since my allergy tests that I had come full circle from "thank God I now know what's bothering me and I can avoid those things" to "maybe it's not that serious and I will be fine if I just have a dab of sour cream on my tacos ... or three slices of cheesy pizza ... or a bowl of cereal with milk." Would that be the "bargaining" stage of grief?

Now I am back to square one, having convinced myself that yes, this is a real issue I need to deal with, and by gosh I'll be a better person and probably a more fit person if I do. I spent the tail end of last week paying little mind to what I was eating, and then paying the price for it. It's time to get serious. So I reached out to a friend who recently discovered she has some major food allergies and asked her for some guidance and encouragement. God bless her, she validated my feelings of grief and pointed me toward some great resources for dairy-free living.

Call me dramatic, but dangit this hurts. Think of all those comfort foods and their creamy goodness that I can no longer eat. Like mac-n-cheese. Biscuits and gravy. Cream of mushroom soup. Breads, cookies, pastries. What's a caprese salad without mozzarella?? Or an egg sandwich without a slice of cheddar? It's shocking, really, how many foods have some sort of milk product in their ingredients lists. Over the weekend I stopped at the grocery store to pick up just a few things and I spent almost an hour looking over the labels of every single thing I put in my cart. This is a lifestyle change, and lifestyle changes take no small amount of effort.

The good news is there are folks out there who have done a lot of the work for people like me who are new to this. Web sites about living with allergies abound. And there are some great alternative foods on the market, too. So rather than look at my allergies as limiting, little by little I am seeing them as a catalyst to broadening my palate. Instead of focusing on what I can't have (oh, I have allergies to pork and white potatoes, too), I am doing my level best to turn my focus to all the things I still can have.

Today I think I'm having a bit of withdrawal ... a fabulous reminder of why I'm making these changes. I look forward to feeling much better in a few days. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The only thing we can really count on ... is change.

Forget death and taxes. "Change" is forever the word of the day for the Pipe Lifers. What's that they say? "A rolling stone gathers no moss?" I suppose back in the day being a "rolling stone" was not such a great thing. Always moving around, never sticking in one place or with one task for very long doesn't give a person (or family) time to grow roots ... hence, not much stability.

But I look at it differently. My life never lacks excitement; I'm always on my toes. There's no risk of monotony here (with the exception of the weather, but that's par for the course during Michigan winters). And I wouldn't know how to live any other way. Except that my life is all about being adaptable, so if I ever had a stretch of all-the-same-all-the-time I'd figure that out, too.

Here's the thing, though: I'm a girl who loves a plan. I have a need to know what's ahead. Good, bad or ugly, just let me know so I can be prepared ... that's what I'm always telling Steve. I am forever running through scenarios and what-ifs in my mind, and that's not always a bad thing. It's not worry, per se (though I've done my share of that, too), just a need to be one step ahead. No surprises. Even if we're taking the road less traveled, please just give me some notice so I can pack a bag, ya' know?

And so it is, and has been with us lately.

Not more than a week ago Steve was telling me he'd be working in Colorado longer than expected. I was making plans to fly out there with the kids for spring break at the end of March. I was also slightly cranky that our income taxes were still sitting on the accountant's desk, not done yet. I was counting on that refund to buy some plane tickets.

Well. God has His own timing, doesn't He? Steve may be leaving Colorado in the next couple weeks, taking a short-term job closer to home to get us by until the next big project - the one we've been waiting on - starts around the first of May.

And that would be a good thing, because having Steve within a day's drive from home would make it much easier for us to visit. I haven't seen my sweetheart since December 30th and that's just too long.

I'm sure glad I didn't have a chance to buy those plane tickets to CO. Hmph.

Of course nothing is ever "official" until it actually happens, so I try not to get too excited. The key for me is staying busy here at home, and I've certainly been doing that lately. Aside from the usual shuttling kids around and keeping the household running smoothly, there's always plenty of organizing and decluttering to do, and I've gotten some painting done in the kitchen and the hall bath. This week Sam and I tore up the nasty old carpet in the living room. I don't have anything to replace it with yet, but I'm not scared to walk around on sub-floors for a while. (Helloooo, summer project.) My allergy-prone body is already thanking me for getting that carpet out of here. Steve's not gonna' recognize the place by the time he gets home again.

And the dogs, of course, keep me busy while the kids are at school during the day. I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can enjoy being outside with them as much as they enjoy being out there.

That's about all I've got as far as updates on us. Not a whole lot of news ... and that's not all bad.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Catching up. And ... the Globetrotters!

Dang. It's been two weeks since I last posted. (I always feel like I'm going to confession when I say that. And I'm not even Catholic.) Anywho, life has been moving along at a swift pace and the big story of the day - whether it be health, job, weather, or child-related - just depends on the day.

Today I am thankful it's Friday. Kinda' wishing it was payday Friday, but nonetheless thankful that the weekend is more or less upon us. Because, frankly? I am tired of little people being angry at me just for doing my job and sending them off to school every day. Well. Every day that they have school, anyway, and they're not too sick to go. Between illness and crazy weather it's a crapshoot lately.

Aside from the occasional crankiness from the offspring, and some dreary-weather-induced sleepiness, things are good these days. I feel like I'm in a groove ... not to be confused with a rut, which I am also quite familiar with. No, this is definitely a groove - a good one - and I am thankful for God's eternal grace. Because I can get a little cranky sometimes, too. *ahem*

So let's see.

Kids. At parent/teacher conferences I heard glowing reports from Rachel's teachers. She is a straight-A student, is "just the right amount" of competitive, is a joy to have in the classroom, is helpful to others and meticulous in her work. Sam? Has a lot of potential. His grades do not reflect his natural ability to soak up information like a sponge. He doesn't need notes to ace open-note tests (and it's a good thing because he never takes any notes). Sam is the kind of kid who adults who have had to work so hard for everything get incredibly frustrated with, and some tell him so. But telling a 14-yr-old boy that if he doesn't apply himself today he'll regret it in 10 years is not a great source of motivation. Alas, we continue to search for the ultimate motivator. It's a moving target.

Steve is still in Colorado, and will be there a bit longer than originally planned. He knows where he is headed next - Kentucky - but that job keeps getting pushed back to a later start date. I am really trying to look at this in a positive light, even though it means I don't really know when I'll see him again. It's definitely a good thing that he has been working all winter. And the longer he stays in CO the better chance the rest of us have at making a trip out there and seeing a place we've never seen before. He's renting a cozy little apartment there, which I think makes it a little easier to be away from home. And the weather's not half bad where he is. But I sure do miss him.

As for me, I've been keeping busy around the house, checking things off my to-do list and generally holding things together. Much to the dismay of my children I have been keeping pretty good tabs on the housekeeping (and those who know me know this is quite an accomplishment). Keeping things picked up makes it much easier to vacuum and dust on a regular basis, which keeps my wicked allergies at bay. And speaking of those allergies, I am currently doing some food "challenges" to test my body's reaction to foods I am sensitive to. I pick one (this week it's white potatoes) and eliminate it from my diet for four days, then eat a bunch of it on the fifth day. I have to take note of everything I eat, how I feel all day long, yada yada. Fun times.

I've also been working with the dogs several times each day. Teaching an old dog new habits (forget the tricks) is proving much harder than teaching the ginormous puppy. I try to reserve judgment about Ladybug's intellect and hope my persistence pays off. I just want to be able to greet guests without having to apologize for my dogs' obnoxiousness. Is that too much to ask?

Other than that, it's been more of the same ... budget and pay bills, taxi kids here and there, laundry, cooking and cleaning, wash, rinse, repeat.

Oh! I got a seed catalog in the mail the other day. *happy sigh* My garden beds might be covered in snow now, but it won't be long ...

And finally, the kids and I and their Aunt Sue went to see the Harlem Globetrotters last weekend. My brother-in-law and Sue had received the tickets as a gift at his company's Christmas party and he wasn't interested in going, so Sue and I took the kids. It was a total blast. We were able to go in early and hang out on the court with some of the team members, take pictures, and then stay for the game. It was a great experience and we made some lasting memories.

Here are a few pictures:

Teenage boy would not smile to save his life.

 Pre-game fun on the court. That really tall guy? That's Stretch. He's 7'4".

Courtside, baby!

"Mom. Would you stop taking pictures?"

Handles helped us spin the ball on our fingers. This guy was hilarious throughout the game.

MC with Globie the mascot.

Check out Bull up there on the basket. He was actually dancing up there.

 And ... autographs after the game.

Good times.