What Can I Say?

Day two of our journey to Florida is one of those days where I have to laugh...hard...because these are just the kinds of things that happen to us.

What I love about these kinds of things is that I get really excited at the opportunity to tell others and  hear their laughter.  My favorite response today?  "You need to go run over a homeless person, because your life is just too boring."  My most popular response?  "You need to write a book."

I don't know what I would write or that anyone would be interesting in reading, but given the level of awesome in the responses, I decided to pen today's fiascos here.

We left from Springfield, MO and had a 5hr 45 minute drive ahead of us.  As usual, we had to stop about 20 times just to get going, but once we were finally in our groove, Siri took us baha-ing down a lesser travelled road, if you will.  We had about a quarter tank left and the two little ones were snoozing, so I thought the winding trail would be good for us.  By about the 40 mile mark of backwoods Ozark mountain trails I was getting tired of going around the curves at zero miles per hour and we were pretty well out of gas.  I was praying we'd get to a gas station when a trailer-type box with a gas pump circa 1976 came into view.  I looked at the GPS and decided we might try for the next station, but *something* made me turn around and go back.

We pulled up to what I affectionately dubbed "Cletus' personal gas hole."  I walked in to pre-pay because I still haven't gotten cash and had to go to the bathroom.  When I opened the door, a wave of stale cigarette smoke stench punched me in the gut.  I proceeded.  Someone was standing at the counter, shootin' the dirt with Cletus (fyi: this was not his name, but I imagine it was probably Bubba.  I say this with all the love in the world.  Since living in Texas for so long, I love most of the Bubba's and even call my son Bubba) so I figured I'd relieve myself first.  The bathroom was my first indication that this was actually a personal residence, tiny though it were.  There was a nice porcelain tub in it.  On a tidy shelf in the corner I saw a lot of travel-sized toiletries with a sign.

"Showering peoples: these are for you."

When I finished I walked to the register while Cletus and his buddy ended their conversation.  I was about to gag at this point because the smoke I had let out was being replenished with a fresh cigarette.  I asked politely if I should pre-pay and Cletus cocked his head to one side, started fiddling with his ancient credit card machine and said, "Whatever you wanna do."

Oh.  My mind was trying to quickly figure if I wanted to walk BACK into this place or if I should just get it over with, but Cletus interrupted with, "But I got no way to stop the pump, so you just gon' have to catch it when it hits the dollar or come back."  That's when I decided not to pre-pay.

I put $50 in the tank because the gas here was pretty pricey compared to Leavenworth, and I hoped I might find a better price in the big city that had maybe 3 gas pumps to its name.  When I went back inside I tried to hold my breath, thankful I had not actually paid ahead, because I couldn't stop the antique pump before it hit 50.12.  As I approached the counter, Cletus gave me a half-smile and blew some smoke in my direction and said, "Ooops.  I forgot to tell ya....if you pay cash it'll cost less.  You gon' have to pay to use that card."  I explained to him that I didn't have any cash and he took his time digging up the charge for the privilege of using my debit card while I tried not to start hacking.

As I looked around I saw further evidence of personal living space...like the kitchen that was VERY clean amidst the rest of the very lived in station.  Cletus interrupted my thoughts again with a slow drawl that had a tinge of a laugh to it..."where y'all from?"  The implication in it made me laugh in spite of myself and I said, "currently, Leavenworth.  But we live all over."  He gave me a funny look as he tore the reciept off the machine and handed it to me to sign.  My head was buzzing from the nicotine and it took me much longer than it should have to sign my name.  I'm pretty sure my bank will be giving me a call about that one.  I took my reciept and wished him a good day.  In the car the kids and I cursed the god-awful smell we had accumulated on our clothes and hair (GraceAnne went in to use the bathroom while I pumped gas)

When we finally hit Arkansas, (good thing that *something* made us go back, we would have been stuck in the woods with no gas) I might have had a bit of a high and mighty thought in my head about ole Cletus, but God seems to always see fit to humble me pretty quickly.  We weren't far on the other side of the border when we came across a sign that said, "Maynard, AR 10 mi."  Maynard is my family name.  We are from Arkansas.  haha  I gotcha, Lord.  "Watch your gigglin' don't ferget yer raisin'."  The final nail in the humble coffin came when I told Allan the story and before I even mentioned Maynard, AR he said, "was it Uncle Cletus?" bahahaha

Later on, back at the ranch, the kids and I were more than thrilled when we finally got to a 3 horse town and all scrambled to the potty and attempted to find a snack.  After we got back on the road, as if on cue, Corbin chimes in, "I have to go potty again.  bad."  I blew him off a few times and looked for a gas station, but we were out of luck again.  He started whimpering and my foot started depressing the gas pedal a little more.  I'm not sure how fast I was going when the officer going west-bound saw me, but I know I was passing everyone and I was on my phone, so when he turned into the east-bound lane I knew it was all over for me and warned the kids.  Sure enough, the state trooper pulled me over.  By the time he came to the window I had my license and was working on my insurance card and Corbin was in a full hyperventilation.  I didn't even let the officer say a word before I blurted out, "I'm really sorry sir, but my son has to go to the bathroom and I was having trouble finding anything."  He seemed understanding.  As I fumbled with my insurance app, he talked to the kids and listened to Corbin's deep breathing techniques.  After he saw my proof-of-insurance he said he'd be right back and walked back to his car.

Corbin showed us his desperation in his next words.  "GO MOM, he's not by the window, just GOOOOO."  I explained that I could NOT take off away from the officer and then he started to sob.  I looked frantically around the car for SOMETHING he could pee in, because I couldn't just let him go on the side of the road with the trooper behind us.  GraceAnne found a water bottle that was only half full and dumped the water into Corbin's bottle (maybe we should be restricting a bit?  lol)  You can imagine that the next 3 minutes were filled with us helping get Corbin "situated" and looking back at the cop and telling Corbin to HURRY UP!  Before he comes back!!  When the boy finally finished, he handed me the bottle and I was hissing at him to hurry and get his pants back on before the cop came back.  When I turned around, (with a bottle of hot pee in my hand, dear God does it get better than this?) the officer was standing at the window again...

I had to swallow that pride down, hard.  I almost choked on it.  Here I am, on the side of the road in Arkansas, holding a bottle of my son's urine and getting a ticket for speeding.  The officer surprised me, though and said, "Ms. Doyle...if I give you a written warning, will you promise to TRY and slow down?  There's a full-service gas station right around the bend."

I thanked him profusely, of course, pee in hand and when Corbin was finally buckled up again we were on our way.  I don't think a person has ever been so glad to see a hotel as I was this evening.  Thank you, Jesus, for rest after insane days.

And now that I've shared our nutty story, I'm off to wash the smoke off me.  
Hail Merry take me away !

What kinds of crazy things have you been pulled over for?  What was the most insane place you ever had to stop for gas/help?  What would you have done? 


Dropping Anchor

Wow, what have we been up to?

November is a busy month for you, right?  It has been a crazy month for us, too.  As you know, we came back to Kansas to get some medical things taken care of, so we have literally been in various doctors offices nearly every day this month.  The verdicts?

Corbin's eye looks fabulous and he's set to have his follow-up surgery in May of 2014.  We will have one more visit with the surgeon to make sure everything is looking good.  We are so thankful for this report, because this was a really risky surgery for such a little guy.  But leave it to this 1 in a billion kid to out-perform everyone's expectations.  He's goin' big or goin' home-always!

Violet has her diagnosis and is being prescribed play therapy a few hours per week.  The psychologist says she is absolutely amazing and has had good parenting.  We recognize this is a HUGE blessing, because we are far from perfect parents.  We must give credit to the trauma training we've had (Particularly "The Connected Child/Created to Connect by Dr Karyn Purvis) and Violet herself, as she's a resilient, awesome little person and of course, God for giving us a sense about her and leading us to gentler ways to parent her.

GraceAnne is, well...GraceAnne didn't have any doctor appointments at all.  I guarantee you she's thrilled about this fact as GraceAnne is even more anti-doctor than her dad or I ever considered being.  I hope we are donig an okay job helping her see what help some of them have been to us.

And then there's me...I've had some tummy troubles over the last couple of months and needed to get it checked out.  I've had blood tests and they show elevated lipase and low potassium (even after supplementation).  I've spoken to a GI and Wednesday they will perform an endoscopy.  I've had to go on a full gluten binge diet the last 2 weeks and I've been both excited and sad about it.  On one hand, I feel like crap, but on the other, I have so missed some of my favorite foods and just the ability to eat what I want again has been a huge load off my mind and good for my mental health (though feeling gross does not help my mental health, so maybe it's just a scratch game?  haha) I am very nervous about the scope and trying hard not to think about it.  It will be good to have answers, though if the test comes back negative for celiac, I'm not sure what to do from here.  I do know one thing, though, I am SO in need of a good detox/juice cleanse!

In other good news: 15 sleeps until Disney!!


Because we have to be somewhat settled down for Violet's therapy, I found a Montessori school for the girls to enjoy for the rest of this school year.  They were approved for a scholarship and are both super stoked to start after the new year.  I toured the school last week and I have to say I think it will be a perfect place for us to recover a bit from the blow of Violet's diagnosis and Allan's deployment.  We are still hoping to travel here and there on weekends/breaks, but I do feel like we're dropping anchor.  As per the norm, we will ride this next wave and see what's on the horizon!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  Are you having family/friends over?  Will you be the guest?  What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?  (The kids are particularly looking forward to a pumpkin pie I picked up at Whole Foods with a gluten-free crust.)


In Which We are Suspected of Being Homeless

This really did happen today. It was spectacular. I am hoping you can get a good laugh out of it.

So at 12:15 the kids finish lunch and we load up the car with the laundry and head out. As per the norm, I tell the kids 10 times "we are going to have a meeting with Miss Jennifer on post and then we're going to laundromat." We get there and I get *the call* from the management company about how our poor tenants have been without heat and we need to ransom our youngest to pay for the repairs, so I'm stressed. I can't find the building we are supposed to be in and drive around the block 4 times. Finally I find it and we walk in 5 minutes late.

The waiting room has a Keurig in it and GraceAnne suggests I get a cup of coffee. I choose the wrong size cup and it overflows everywhere and I'm burning my hands every step I take as Miss Jennifer leads us down the hall. She seems surprised I made a coffee.

 Miss Jennifer leads us into the world's tiniest room with lots of awesome toys. Then says we will all sit in there for our meeting. The children proceed to bounce of walls and I fill out the paper she hands me. She looks at the address and says, 'so is this an apartment?" I proceed to explain that it is a mail box at a facility and she says, "but what is your home address?" I tell her we don't have a home address, we are currently staying at a campground in a cabin. She raises her eyebrows, puts her hand on my knee and says, "I'm just going to ask you this flat out. Are you HOMELESS?" I feel my face flush bright red and I rush to answer NO NO! I try to regain composure and the kids are getting louder and louder. They're beginning to throw balls at each other. I stammer, "Have you heard of _____ campground? No? It's here in town. They have a 4-season cabin. It's temporary. We're traveling while my husband is deployed." I smile as coolly as possible and she asks where we will go in Dec. I tell her we are going to visit with family. She asks what we will do after that because Violet should have started services when she was 2. I say it depends on how fast Tricare can gather their eggs.

GraceAnne interrupts the awkward convo with a sweet voice saying, "Mommy...I'm hungry." Miss Jennifer looks concerned. I remind GraceAnne that she ate *just* before we came and there is nothing I can do. Then Corbin chimes in, "I am just so hungry mommy." I shoot the horrified Miss Jennifer a weak smile and return to the conversation, telling her that we are looking at condos for Jan-Jun so we will be close to the autism therapy place and Corbin's surgeon. She looks alarmed and says, "And what is HIS diagnosis?!" This is when I laugh and say, "dacryocystitis." She asks what needs to be done about that and I assure her it is taken care of.

Throughout the rest of the strained conversation I notice that the white liner from my coat that I'm wearing is very dirty about the cuffs. I notice that one of my shoes is "talking" and that somoene has dropped some lunch on my pants. I remember that I have no makeup on and that my hair is in a haphazard ponytail because I am having serious gluten-induced brain fog (and because I usually look this way...hahaha) I recognize that I am on a post that is comprised of mostly majors and above. I realize I really do LOOK like a hobo. As she explains what will happen next with Violet's therapies,I look at the kids, who are getting antsier by the moment, and realize that Corbin has no socks on, (they had to take off shoes to play in the ball pit) and Violet's hair is a hot mess (straggly as usual. yes, I brushed it this morning) and GraceAnne has been acting about 3 years younger than she is since we left New York. I am horrified and I'm not sure I could get much more horrified, but then Violet walks over to Miss Jennifer and says, "we are going to the laundromat after we leave here."

Take note. I am a homeless mother of hungry, dirty children who hasn't paid attention to her daughter's needs for 3 years and we have every stitch of clothing we own in the back of our 96 suburban.

Then GraceAnne comes over and tells Miss Jennifer, "I really love this stuffed teddy bear. I wish I could take it back to the campground." And usually people say "I know, but that has to stay here for the other kids" but instead Miss Jennifer says, "Oh, he so needs a home and a child to love him. Could you please take him?" At which point the other 2 start chiming in about how they want treasures from around the office. She loads them up and offers me a box full of sports equipment from Special Olympics. I say sure because at this point, I just want out of there and don't want to play the "no, really, are you SURE you don't want it!?" game.

We are all waddling out of the office with stacks of paperwork and toys and a gigantic box of stuff. Corbin is running off in all directions and going into offices. I would just as soon melt into the carpeted hallway and disappear forever than have to walk to the car with this woman and Violet starts her fit throwing.

We finally stumble outside and I can't manage to make her get off the ground, so I decide to put the things in the car first. I get halfway to the car when I look back to see that Violet has VELCROED herself to Miss Jennifer. I put my things down in the dirt and run back, apologizing. I try to peel Violet off this woman's leg and Violet says, "I want to stay with yoooooou! I don't want to go with my Moooooommy!!"

oh.my.god. I finally got her peeled off and she was totally pissed at me so she threw her stuffed animal in the dirt and screamed her bloody head off as we walked away from it. I managed to get her buckled into her seat and went back to pick up all the items we had left in the yard. I tried to find my dignity, but I think it slinked into the couch in that tiny room. So I went to the laundromat and thought about how I'm going to have to give up one of 2 paychecks for December's budget to the rental and I'm living in a 3-room cabin with no permanent address and I'm in a laundromat.

At the end of the day, it's really kinda hilarious. When I don't think about it too hard.

The joys of life "on the road."


Zevia Giveaway!

So as I promised in our last post, one of our awesome new sponsors, Zevia, is giving FIVE of my readers a FREE 6-pack of Zevia. 

But first, what is Zevia and how did they come to be a sponsor?  Well, Zevia is a soda brand that uses no refined sugars, but sweetens with stevia instead.  Stevia is a plant and the sweetness garnered from it's leaves does not affect blood glucose levels or insulin levels.  This soda has 0 calories and is shown to be safe for diabetics without containing yucky chemical sweeteners made in a lab.

I was curious about Zevia when I saw it at a Target store about a year ago.  I confess, I am a soda lover.  When I was a kid I often had sore throats and the fizziness of a Coke would help my throat feel better.  As an adult I became a die-hard Dr Pepper fan and since our family has changed our eating habits, we typically only indulge in soda that has been made with pure cane sugar every once in a great while.

Last month, I attended the WOW Summit through Mom's Meet in Philadelphia.  (You can read about it HERE) There was a super-fun room for all the Mom-Ambassadors that had lots of sponsors with samples and coupons and information.  The girls from Zevia were one of my favorite booths!  They were so much fun I had to give up my reluctance and taste the soda.  I took a couple cans back to my room and though I only "liked" my can, the kids were ga-ga over it!  Everytime I went back down to the Summit, they would hound me for more.  Over the course of the Summit I did end up finding a couple flavors I really do like a lot, my favorite so far is Ginger Root Beer.  The kids love Grape and Orange and Cherry Cola and...oh, they have loved every flavor they've tried!  We are ALL looking forward to finding and trying out Strawberry.
Yummy mixed drink made with Zevia at the Summit

I took a class with the Zevia girls about blogging with brands and later shot an email out to see if Zevia would marry my blog and VOILA!  Here we are!  Being on the road, sometimes the best part of our week is getting something fabulous in the mail (who am I kidding, I was a mail spazz before I was on the road!) and Kipling over at Zevia surprised us with a multi-flavor 6 pack when we finally got back to Kansas.  It was one of the highlights of day for the kids (recall that was the day of the autism assessment) to find the box of colorful cans and then talk half the day about which one they would drink while they watched their movie. 

Enough about all that, though, let's get on with the winning!  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Diagnosis and Down Time

Today we had Violet's autism assessment, which was one of the big reasons for us coming back to Kansas.  We left early to make sure we could find the clinic.  We needed to score some lunch and check our mail, too.  I didn't exactly know where we were, so I was very pleasantly surprised when we made 2 turns and found the mail facility and Trader Joe's.

Next it was off to the assessment.  The determination? PPD-NOS (High Functioning Autism) with Sensory Integration issues.  What does this mean?  Really, nothing new.  Violet has always been Violet and she always will be.  The only thing that changes is our ability to get the training we need to help her grow into exactly who she was made to be.

So her diagnosis is good news.  But the appointment flat wore me out.  3.5 hours of talking and watching and thinking and prodding will fry a brain.  Thankfully the kids had a blast, they didn't even want to  leave.  Violet really attached herself to the doctor...literally...I had to peel her off the doctor to leave.  

I had dinner to consider, but couldn't bring myself to actually use the mush between my ears, so we stopped at Chick-fil-A so the kids could play while I had some coffee and sent an email to daddy about our girl.

I initially wanted to go to Target afterwards, but it was rainy and already getting dark so we came home instead. The kids have been begging to see The Croods again, so tonight is a family movie night complete with popcorn (stove-popped in coconut oil with lots of butter, Real Salt and nutritional yeast) and a Zevia soda, which was waiting for us as an awesome surprise at the mailbox! (Keep an eye out, because they are going to give 5 of my readers a free 6-pack of their own 0-calorie, smarter soda!)

I'm really grateful for this much needed family night and a few days with no doctor appointments or bills or anything except settling in, getting some school done and learning what it really looks like to do life without Allan.  There will probably be some tears, but hopefully there will be a lot of love, too.

I'm wishing you all some rest of your own in this season of go-go-go.


Welcome Home...Again

So it turns out that when your husband takes his carload of crap and then you bring your carload of crap and one of you deploys...2 carloads of crap become one.  Thankfully we had transported a lot of what we needed to store when we came to Kansas for Corbin's appointment with the surgeon in August, but that still left a lot of hubby's things that needed to be stored.  We were cram-packed into this truck this trip.  The last 2 days at the lakehouse, I resigned myself to having no semblance of order whatsoever and took on the mindset of, "GET IT IN THERE."

**Side note**Thanks to this mentality, when I let the 9-year-old be responsible to pack clothes, she forgot the pants...so we all looked like hobos in dirty pants the entire trip because I couldn't find the rest of our clothes.  Rockin' job, eh?

Our first stop was only an hour south of the lakehouse because it was Halloween and we wanted to Trick-or-Treat, so we used the opportunity to visit with a friend one last time.  The kids had a blast and I realized we need to do more "training" for Disney than I had previously expected.  I was WORN OUT after about 45 minutes in that busy mall.

The next day was a power-through day and landed us in Ohio.  That day was very hard emotionally, because as we were driving west toward where hubby was doing pre-deployment training, he was gearing up and eventually flying east.  We may or may not have had a hard time on the phone that day because of my generally crappy attitude.  He texted me sweetness before he got on a plane, though, and let me know we would probably not be able to have any contact for the next 2-4 days.  That day ended up okay because I called our hotel chain and explained the troubles we have with gluten, so they helped me find us a different hotel that would have better choices for us.

The next day was another power-through and we made it to St Louis, where we had the most terrible food experiences of the week.  We didn't even get to eat until 9:30pm (not for lack of trying!) Gluten-free living on the road has got to get easier.  I couldn't find a Super Target to save my life, even with my app!  But, literally the ENTIRE DAY we had skies like this:
Yesterday was our last car day.  We found a local Trader Joes and braved city driving to get some breakfast/lunch and snacks for the day.  It was very much worth the hassle.  We only had 5.5 hours of driving to do, and everyone was actually in really good spirits.  We stopped at the mail facility to pick up our mail, where I found a bunch of bills I wasn't expecting, but we also made it to Whole Foods to pick up the fixins for a simple homemade dinner.  I managed to unload most of the car without too many tears and fix dinner and we all settled in as best we could.
So for those of you wondering, it's actually so simple it's stupid...I brown butter and garlic in a pan while I bring chicken broth (or water) to a boil for noodles.  When it boils, add a bag of frozen or some fresh broccoli florets.  Let it come back to a boil and add the noodles (we found some brown rice & quinoa noodles at TJ's) cooking until al dente.  Drain the broth (or keep it, it's up to you) and add the browned butter.  We add some chicken, too.  It's pretty fast and easy and we all like it a lot with some salt and pepper.

The day ended on a good note with this to "come home" to.
We have lived in some of the very coolest places ever!

Today has been mixed.  This morning was awesome, as a couple of friends let us use their washer and dryer and even left me coffee (they *do* love me!)
This afternoon...not so much.  I had to go to the doctor for some physical issues I've been having lately and they *always* make the patients do the quick psych run down.  I *always* end up getting "sheeted" and having to answer a million questions about my feelings and thoughts and then I *always* have to be asked if I'm going to hurt myself (for the record, NO...I will not) and get referred to a specialist.  I would love to talk to a therapist, really...but the last time I tried the military psych he told me I was a rockstar and most people would have been drowning, so keep up the good work and let him know if I changed my mind about taking meds.  REALLY!?  So no, I don't feel so inclined to head back.

The real problem with the questionnaire is that it makes me realize how hard things ARE.  I mean, yeah, I know, I do live this life afterall, but to just lay it all out there and to score it is a big slap in the face.  I deal because I have to and I'm good at it by anyone's account.  I know how to handle pressure.  But to see it all on a piece of paper and face the reality of what the doctor is thinking when she looks at it is difficult.

By the time we finally got out of there and headed down for the labs she ordered (oh yeah...I was there for physical problems!  I had forgotten) the kids were just OVER it.  I was mad at them at the time, but I can't really blame them.  This is one of the hardest times of their lives, they just spent 3 days in a car and now they get to sit in doctors offices for hours?  Not so fun.  So I wasn't able to get the x-ray she ordered, but I did manage to get the blood drawn. 

On the way home I may have had a meltdown and it may have been pretty ugly.  I have since made up with the kids and we had a really great evening together full of lots of bonding, but something has to give.  I feel as if I'm under a tremendous pressure and I miss my husband desperately. I don't "fit" anywhere because he is deployed, yet he is a government contractor/retired military.  I want community, but I don't want to be social.  Everything seems very *hard* right now.

Per the suggestion of a good friend who talked me down off the "I'm the worst mother on earth" ledge, I am going to make a list of what I got done today.  And tomorrow we will take it one task at a time (please pray, Violet has her autism assessment tomorrow...it's going to be a very long, hard day) and if the kids eat take-out and go to bed without washed hair, as long as there were no mommy melt-downs, I will consider it a success.

Today was a success because:
  • I got to cuddle Corbin before the girls woke up
  • I managed to make breakfast (eggs) and coffee and get everyone dressed and ready to do laundry with minimal fussing
  • We did enough laundry to get us through the next few days
  • We made it to the doctor's office on time
  • I was able to get my blood drawn and UA done
  • I calmed down enough to make it home and called a friend
  • We went for a walk and talked to the property manager and saw lots of animals
  • We dropped daddy's stuff off at storage, repacked the entire thing and got out sheets because we found out today linens are not provided 
  • I actually saved the sheets (okay, so this happened months ago, but I was pretty stoked!  I was not looking forward to buying more)
  • We ate a hot, organic dinner at home(pre-made tamales from Whole Foods, OH.MY.YUM!)
  • The kids all got bathed and lotioned
  • We made the beds
  • We read a story
  • We talked nicely to each other all morning and all evening 
  • The kids went to bed happy and feeling loved
  • I wrote a blog post
We will accept and appreciate any and all prayers.  This is the life we chose and I would choose it again in a minute, but it is still hard and we still need support.  No matter whether you "sign up" to live apart for a year or your spouse leaves, it is still hard.  I would like to encourage everyone reading this to find someone who is living through something hard and just encourage them in some small way.  Offer a cup of coffee and an ear, send over a dinner, tell them the kids look happy or let them use the washing machine, hahaha!  It really doesn't take much to let a person know you SEE them and that they are not alone.  No matter the circumstances that brought them to the hard place, whether they "deserved" or "asked for" it, it's not less hard.  They will likely still struggle after you are finished with your act of kindness, but it may be the only thing that gives them courage to finish the day well.

So this turned into something I didn't intend for it to be, but there it is.  I hope you're having a good night and that you found some encouragement today.


The day we moved. Again.

Today...today begins our traveling life without dad.  I would like to write about how we feel about that, but I am on my phone in a hotel, so I will be brief.

We are so weird.  These are my many gluten free grains that are strapped behind the truck.
Friggin Hurricane Blowhard of NNY 2013 made sure everything I loaded today was soaked and me too.  There may have been some sky cursing.

We needed to take the last load of trash to the dumpster and there was no room anywhere except on GraceAnne's lap.
Violet was having a sensory day...we are crammed in and the new car seat is her best friend and worst enemy.

But after some lunch and driving in the rain the littles passed out and GraceAnne settled in. And the rest of the ride was pretty quiet.  Next up, showers, costumes and trick-or-treat at a local-for-today mall.  Happy Halloween!


Egg Free, Gluten Free, Tapioca Free dumplings (for chicken & dumplings)

My family requested chicken and dumplings this week.  I can't blame them, the weather is perfect for this classic comfort dish.  But I'd be lying if I said I didn't balk a bit...this is not a meal we've had since going gluten-free.  BUT, since there are so many GF noodles and biscuits in the world, I thought surely there must be a GF dumpling recipe hidden somewhere on the internet.

Try as I might, for 2 days I came upon recipe after recipe that included tapioca (which I've recently discovered I have really yucky reactions to) or another flour we didn't have on hand.  We're getting ready to move, so buying more flours is out.  Further, we prefer a noodle-y dumpling and most recipes are for making them "fluffy." 

Finally, I settled on a very simple recipe and tweaked it for what I had on hand. 

2 flax "eggs" (2 tbsp ground flax seed+3tbsp warm water.  Let sit until "slimy" like an egg)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 heaping tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
 plain kefir to achieve proper consistency (to make this vegan, you could use something else for the liquid, I just wanted the slightly tangy flavor that the kefir adds)

First, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add "eggs" and mix until combined.  Add liquid until mixture will hold together.  Form small spoonfuls and drop into boiling liquid (in this case I had chicken broth/vegetable broth with veggies and chunks of chicken at a low boil)  Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. 

I was very skeptical to try this, since I had seen NO recipes using a flax egg substitute and I'm not a huge fan of garbanzo flour (which I added because 1. I had it and 2. I wanted some extra protein to help achieve the density I was looking for in my dumplings)  But, as it turns out, there was nothing left to photograph once we got a taste of the finished product!  I think we've found a winner.

It was very well recieved by my 2 gluten eaters and I have to say that the texture was pretty spot on to the dumplings I used to make with unbleached flour. The flavor was not overpowering, but held its own against the gravy.

Please feel free to mess with these flour ratios based on what you have on hand and report back to tell us what you used and how it turned out.  I hope you're as pleased as my family was!


Christmas-2013 style

This year our family celebrated Christmas early so that we could include Daddy in our festivities before he deploys.  While everyone else is loathing the Christmas section in all the department stores, we were relying on it to help us get into the Christmas spirit before we've even trick-or-treated.  Pandora was our constant companion in the car, Bing Crosby and friends crooning to us in old-fashion as leaves fell red and orange outside.  The weather has played right along our fantasies-with lows in the 30's lots of nights and highs in the mid-high 50's.  (That's Christmas weather right there for these Texas babies.)

We've decorated some around the cabin:

 We've done some Christmas projects and downed some hot cocoa:

We've watched Christmas movies on the hard drive every chance we've had:

And we counted down days until our big celebration:
Allan and I decided that the best course of action would be a big gift that actually tied into the real holiday and that it would be fun to take the kids to Disney World in December to help us all be distracted from the fact that he won't be with us.  We made a theme and worked hard in the last few weeks to build the magic.

After a lot of joyful "Only 6 (5, 4, etc) more days until Christmas!" last night was finally our Christmas Eve.  We watched Nightmare Before Christmas on ABCFamily, prayed thanks for a full day and the promise of a fabulous tomorrow and the kids went to bed so Mom & Dad could get ready for the big day.

This morning we woke up before the kids to get a start on coffee and cheer.  It got pretty cold last night, and the clouds were gorgeous against a sapphire sky, so it was pretty magical!

As usual, Corbin was up first.  He wanted the presents RIGHT.NOW. but we made him wait for his sisters.  Who he woke.
Once they were up, we had a lovely time opening gifts.  One thing we're very appreciative with the kids is that they are pretty easy to please and very caring/thoughtful.  They get excited about the little things and they say lots of 'Thank Yous.'  YAY for sweet kids!

 Traditionally, the kids each get an ornament for the year.  GraceAnne has her ninth flower fairy from Hallmark this year. 

She's getting too big

Legos are always a hit!

And after all the carefully chosen Mickey Mouse paper had flown, we were ready for the big reveal!

I had to bring back the link to the video, because I was told this video doesn't have sound.  Sorry about that!  I guess we figured out one thing 4g mobile hotspot is not good for!

So HERE IS THE LINK for the video of the scavenger hunt/Walt Disney World reveal.