Thursday, October 24, 2013


At our house we don't typically celebrate Halloween in a fashion that anyone else would recognize.  We turn off all extra lights, curl up on the couch/floor with popcorn, and watch movies like Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's one on one time for Munchkin and I.

Now the reasons behind this are all related to Munchkin's food allergies and autism.  Almost all of the candies given out, he is allergic to.  He doesn't understand knocking on someone's door, and saying "hi" but not going into the house.  When kids came by our house, he didn't understand why they weren't coming in and playing.  All things which just led to elevated stress levels so we went with our current method of "celebration".

Each year I keep an eye out to see if there is a community event that he could participate in but I hadn't found any since most events focus on giving out candy and sharing food.  This year though, well this year the local botanical gardens are holding an event that doesn't involve any candy giving.  The kids will have mazes to play in, hayrides, and crafts.  So we are going with a friend and her son.  Just to be on the safe side, I will have a small bag of safe candy with us.  If they do give out candy then we will do some candy swapping.  But it looks like he will be able to participate in most of the event.

And on Halloween night, we will celebrate our way and have lots of silly fun.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Allergen Free Recipes

About a month ago I ran across the new Pillsbury doughs.  I've experimented with the pizza dough and the pastry crust now.  They are okay.  Okay in the way that most ready made foods compare to homemade foods.  Which means that for GF stuff that's out there, they are pretty good.

But 1) we are spoiled by home cooking, and 2) there were still some ingredients that my son reacts to.  It really stinks but it was a good diet challenge.  And it proved that we still needed to avoid those ingredients.  Not that Munchkin minded because he just devoured them completely.

So I went hunting pizza crust recipes again.  I've got Carol Fenster's recipe but I'm just not happy with it.  It is good compare to almost all other GF pizza crusts I've found.  But it's always gummy in the center for us.  So I went hunting again.  And I found this -   Guess what - it's good.  And it is better than the old recipe, even with substitutions.  I'm still going to have to play with it though because Munchkin won't eat pieces that don't have pizza sauce.  Of course that may be because we so rarely have any bread type stuff to eat.  But for now I've got two recipes that are way above any of the other suggestions out there so I'll work with that.  Now I've got to work on making them to freeze so that I have dough on hand, even on rushed days.

And while I'm sharing recipes, here is the link to the site that has the GF pie crust that I used to use.  I've used both of the ones she has, with any necessary changes for allergies, with great success.  I just got out of the habit.  And since I've actually trying to add grains back in to our diet, except for gluten grains, I've got to get back in the habit.  I hope these recipes help someone else as well.

Oh, and for those who follow, the playset is completely painted and assembled.  It took two days for Munchkin to finally believe that it wasn't going to disappear overnight.  And another whole day of play before he was willing to spend and time on his other play things.  All in all, a great success.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


First, in regards to the "sagas", I really can't say that anything is getting better.

But on to other topics.  Last winter my Dad decided that he would give my son the wooden playhouse/swingset from their backyard.  It had been through two tornadoes so it needed some repair and modifications.  One whole section had to be removed.  He did some work and then brought it up to my place.  For some reason he and my brother thought that it would stand upright in my garage.  It didn't.  It filled one half the garage laying on it's side.  And because of the space limitations I couldn't do anything with it.

So spring came.  And with no other help in sight, a friend had her husband and boys come up and pull it out of the garage for me.  I am very grateful for this help.  Once it was out it was easy to see that Dad has missed a few things - like safety rails on the upper part.  So I got to work on the rails and on painting the playset.

I got most of the wood cut and 2/3s of the playset painted before the "sagas" and everything else hit resulting in no further work getting done for a couple of months.  One of the mini episodes that occurred over those months was the discovery that some of the teens at the apartment complex next door had gotten it into their heads that they wanted it for a hunting blind.  Whether or not I was willing to give it up.  So same friend's hubby and boys came up and moved it deeper into my yard and closer to the fence.

Over the last few weeks I have made a determined effort to get the playset finished.  Most mornings I spent an hour or two working on it.  There were things that had to be changed because of problem that I discovered after I started working.  And a few things that just had me shaking my head over either the original design or Dad's modification.  But I finally got all the wood cut correctly.  Then it was put in place and anchored as securely as I could, which typically meant a lot of screws.

Some days were amusing because my son was getting jealous of the fact that I was getting into the playset.  It seems that he wants to play in it.  ;-)

Then I finished painting.  Just two coats over most of the body of the structure took 1 1/2 gallons of paint.  I was amazed.  The first layer took a heck of a lot more paint than the second layer did.  But it looked a lot better.  And the paint should help keep my son from getting many splinters.

The only part I hadn't managed to paint was the roof.  I was debating replacing the wooden shakes with some of the asphalt shingles I had in the garage or the molded roofing that we had used on the little house.  The main reason for this was because I had those items on hand and I didn't have anymore outdoor paint.  But on an instinct I went by the local Habitat Restore one day last week.  I had figured that if I could find a red paint, or any primary color, it would work for the roof.  Well amazingly they had a can of exterior paint, actually two, in the exact same shade.  That was the only exterior paint they had and I was amazed to find even that.  When we opened the can to see what color it was it looked like a deep magenta.  I decided to go with it.  At $5 for the gallon it was the best option.  I don't know how to do the other types of roofing and it would have taken months to get someone up here who did know.  I wasn't willing to wait anymore.

So Monday I started painting the roof.  Three layers later the paint can is empty and the roof looks good.  And that deep magenta color dried into a barn red color that looks great.  So tomorrow I dig the holes for the support bricks.  And hopefully, at some point this weekend, we'll get the structure into the backyard and all the parts connected.  I'm quite sure that my son will spend hours playing on it each day until it gets too cold to play outside.  And maybe even after that.  I'm enjoying the reminder that there are a lot of things that I can do on my own.  And I'm immensely grateful that there are folks out there who are willing to help with the parts I can't do on my own. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sagas

This was supposed to be the year of things getting better.  Maybe that's why the mess of the past six months or so has hit me so hard, both physically and emotionally.

The "sagas" that have been going on are the "car saga", "the air conditioner saga", and the "bathroom saga".  And scattered in between each of those situations have been multiple other issues that range from slightly smaller to almost as problematic.  The result of all of it has been to push my stress levels through the roof.

In short, the AC saga was that the AC was throwing off bright white electrical sparks when starting and while running.  Despite two visits from the repair guy it didn't stop.  On labor day the AC stopped working.  Since I didn't want to end up with a holiday visit fee we waited until Tuesday to call the repair guy again.  This time he found the problem - a wire that was completely exposed.  None of us understand how the breaker didn't pop or how he didn't get shocked when he handled the wire bundle.  And the AC didn't stop running because of the wire.  It stopped running because the wire apparently, finally, at a hole through the coolant line and released all the coolant.  So despite all the males in my life saying that it was nothing to worry about, including the repair guy.  Despite all of their assurances that I couldn't be seeing what I was, in fact, seeing.  Despite their assurances that it couldn't cause a fire.  The problem indeed was something to worry about.  I did see what I was seeing.  And the problem could have caused a fire.  And I still jump every time the AC kicks on, especially during the busy times of day when it causes the house lights to dim for a moment.  I'm not looking forward to winter and frost on the unit.

The car saga started with the old van and its transmission.  I thought it was over when I got the "new" van back two weeks ago after some drastic and expensive repairs.  But yesterday while running errands it became apparent that there is still an issue.  I've only driven the van 4 times since I got it back and each time is an exercise in nerves since I'm as nervous about it as I am about the AC.  This last repair was because the flywheel disintegrated while I was driving the vehicle.  Oh, and finding parts for old cars nowadays is an exercise in frustration.  Fortunately we discovered an auto supply store that has experienced folks and knows how to get parts that are not readily available.

And the bathroom saga, well that's still ongoing.  I will hopefully get to put another patch on the bathtub today.

But, on the positive side, my son is responding really well to the new curriculum I created for him.  And even if we found another one of those learning "gaps", he is learning to overcome it.  I have a couple of gracious helpful acquaintances who made sure I got home when I ended up stranded.  And one wonderfully helpful friend who took me grocery shopping for two months.

We've been walking to all the local places that are within a few miles of the house.  While one side of town isn't accessible, because the bridge crossing isn't safe with my son, the other half of town has a decent grocery.  And I can pay most of the bills on this side of town.  (Realize that this is a two stop light town.)  While the walking hasn't caused me to lose weight, it has actually helped me a lot.  I discovered that I had to change the speed on the lawn mower the last time I used it.  And I've been using the walks to do road safety and science observation lessons with my son.  I was using it to teach him where the fire hall and police station were until I discovered that the police station is moving.  So that lesson is temporarily on hold. 

So I'm taking deep breaths a lot and trying to focus on the good.  Trying really hard.