I'm Gluten Free (but not an asshole)


You probably read the title of this post and rolled your eyes. It's possible you thought, "Oh Jeez, another post about how gluten is killing us all". I promise you this is not that kind of post. Although gluten will slowly kill me and my daughter, if you aren't intolerant or allergic, then you're safe. It won't kill you.

I went on a gluten free diet in 2002, which to most gluten free people, that is basically the stone age. Back then there were no such things as Gluten Free Menus, Gluten Free Girl Scout cookies, or even Gluten Free aisles in grocery stores. If I wanted a gluten free cookie or cake, I had to make it myself, and it usually was a disaster. In the stone age gluten free baking required seven different flour, things like xantham gum, and twenty five eggs. Okay, maybe not twenty five eggs, but pretty damn close. My point is, being gluten free back then was super hard. I took my food everywhere, which isn't really different than what I do today, but back then there were very few restaurants that I would eat at in fear of cross contamination.

In November, the Hubbs and I came to the conclusion that Caitlin needed to be put on a gluten free diet. After years of stomachaches and headaches, I knew we had to try it. I'm gluten intolerant and I have been my whole life, unfortunately I didn't realize it until I was a twenty four year old adult. I didn't want years of pain and anxiety for Caitlin, so with nothing to lose, we went gluten free. The transition wasn't incredibly hard for us, since I knew exactly what to buy and where to buy it, and now since gluten free has become a "mainstream allergy", you really can find gluten free items everywhere. Now most companies make it easy for gluten-free-ers and put big shiny labels on their years old products that say Gluten Free. Awesome right?

Super awesome until I've realized that even though we are out of the "stone age" with gluten free products, there is a dark cloud that hangs over the Gluten Free community. I read so many articles where I can hear the author rolling their eyes. Gluten Free is the new "fad" diet. It's the excuse to be "difficult" at restaurants. It's the new "fat free". And I totally get the bad vibe, when I read other articles by Gluten Free bloggers, that ask the gluten free community to petition things like Nascar Commercials and Food Companies who refuse to certify this thing or that. Sometimes us gluten free folk can look like a bunch of assholes.

Look. I'm not the organic gluten free mom. And if you are and you are reading this, awesome for you. My daughter and I are gluten intolerant. We are not Celiacs, but we can totally sympathize with them. That said, my kid eats Cheetos and Fritos, both gluten free, but also full of chemicals I can't pronounce. I buy Gluten Free mixes from both Betty Crocker and Krusteaze. I buy hot dogs and lunch meat that are marked gluten free, but aren't marked organic. So what? I'm feeding my kid. She likes it, and if I can find it at Walmart, well Amen to that. I can tell you that I am the mother who walks into Whole Foods with one kid eating a salad and the other toting in McDonald's chicken nuggets. I once told Caitlin I would buy her a GF cookie mix at Walmart in the baking aisle at Whole Foods and everyone turned around and stared at us as if we were on fire. And I just wanted to yell, RELAX ASSHOLES, this is America, and I can't afford your mixes at almost six dollars a box.

My point is, why are we acting like a bunch of assholes? What does it matter if we eat organic or gluten free or none of the above? It really doesn't. I guess I've just noticed that when I announce that I'm gluten free or my kid is gluten free I get this look like I'm the asshole. And I promise you I'm not.

I'll admit that having to eat around an allergy is hard. But we do it, because we aren't assholes. Birthday parties, school parties, dinner parties, and even Girl Scouts are hard when you have to take your own food, but we do it anyway. I would never expect that someone have something for me or Caitlin to eat. Why cater to the only person with a food allergy in the bunch. Maybe it's because I've been brown bagging it since I was a kid, but I'm always prepared with gluten free food or snacks wherever we go. Ask any of last year's Elevate attendees, I took both my lunch and my dinner, and it was no big deal, for any of us.

I'm not overly sensitive. I'm not offended by the Nascar commercial with Nick Offerman from the Office, who says that the Founding Fathers would hang their wigs in shame that we are a nation afraid of gluten. I thought the commercial was funny. Because I can laugh at myself, and my allergy. You have to be able to laugh at yourself when you spend five dollars for a box of gluten free cookies, or eleven dollars a pound for almond flour. It's also why I don't go to the Olive Garden and complain about things like cross contamination. I know better. You are going to get some gluten in a restaurant who's claim to fame is a never ending pasta tour. I don't expect the room mom or the teacher to provide gluten free snacks for the party, and I don't expect the cafeteria to serve gluten free food.

I do, however go to restaurants that I believe are "safe". Restaurants that I am familiar with, and know their menus pretty well. The family and I will try new restaurants that advertise fresh ingredients and I always talk to the manager if we are unsure of any menu items. I've been known to leave double the tip or triple if we have been extra difficult. I have open and honest conversations with servers and tell them our food allergies and ask for suggestions on what to order that will make every one's life easier. We double buy cake mixes and cookies and understand that at some birthday parties we will just ask for ice cream. So far this year I have bought a doughnut pan and a Twinkies pan, so that my kid can participate in the class parties. We get that we have to be our own advocates, and that we cannot expect to find gluten free everywhere we go. Although it is a little easier now, I won't be starting petitions any time soon. I get that "gluten free" seems like a fad, but is more of lifestyle for us now. And how can you be mad at a diet that will force you to eat French Fries and milk shakes at most restaurants that don't have gluten free menus?

I also educate my daughter on how to make decisions in my absence. I tell her that chocolate or vanilla ice cream is usually safe. French fries and baked potatoes are safe. That when in doubt, choose the Cheetos. I give her as much information as her seven year old gluten free brain can handle, because mom can't be everywhere all the time. And if my kid gets "glutened" it will suck, but we will deal with it. I'm not going to call the news channels or attempt to sue the school district.

Why? Because we are not assholes. We went Gluten Free because it was right for us and our health. Caitlin has had less headaches and stomachaches. Her attitude and anxiety have had a major overhaul. Do we still have mornings that are filled with tears? Yes. Are they fewer and farther between? Hell yes. And the greatest discovery since going gluten free? She sleeps better, in her own bed. At first we thought it was a coincidence, but after the few times she's been glutened, we realize that going gluten free has made it possible for her to get a good night sleep. That alone has been worth every five dollar loaf of gluten free bread.

I would never say that Gluten Free is the only way to be. I still buy Kraft Mac and Cheese for the gluten eaters in this house. We still go to restaurants that have questionable contamination standards. This year we will have two birthday cakes, one gluten filled and one gluten free. Because gluten free was our choice, and for us we chose well. It works for us. But that doesn't mean I expect it to work for everyone else.

So yes. I'm gluten free. My daughter is gluten free. We pay almost four dollars for Gluten Free Oreos. We pay almost five dollars for a doll sized loaf of bread. We spend half my pay check at Whole Foods some weeks, and I have been known to spend twenty dollars at Starbucks on protein packs and waters. But it was delicious and saved our "hangry" selves that day. I'm grateful that we are no longer in the stone age for gluten free snacks on the fly.

One day in the near future, no one will care that I order salad dressing on the side and burgers lettuce wrapped. They will just think I'm another dieter, watching my carbs. Which is fine, I'm always watching my carbs, but I swear, I'm not an asshole.

Pink Hot Air Balloons

Image via this blog

A week ago my best friend moved out of state. It was pretty surreal, and by surreal I mean that I was in complete and total denial even on the day she left. I didn't want to believe that my best friend wasn't going to be on the other side of Fresno anymore. I wanted to believe that she would stay right on the west side of Fresno, forever, so that whenever I needed her she would be there.

This move was major for her. Something that she had been planning for a while. A move that she and her husband had been talking about for years. Then about six months ago, they stopped talking about it and started to move. Tired of waiting for the right time, and deciding that now was as good a time as any.

When she told me that it was time for her and her family to make the big leap, I was happy for her. And not the happy that you pretend to be because you think your friend needs it, but the genuinely happy that you should be for your friend. We've been friends for so long that we have been through "life changes" before. We have tackled the "new". New babies, new jobs, new dreams, new blogs, more new babies, and at one point a new home school curriculum. We have tackled the "changes". Career changes, marital changes, changes in our writing and our blogs, changes to our families, and now a change in our locations and proximity. With every new and every change, we didn't question or judge, we didn't give our opinion on why it wasn't right, we just said, "Okay", and "what do you need?".

I could have rattled off one hundred and one reason why her move to Montana was a bad idea. But it wasn't a bad idea for her, it was a bad idea for me. I didn't and still don't have the desire to move. I wouldn't want to live anywhere but here. My best friend had the desire to move. She wanted a change of scenery. She wanted a new chapter with a new location. Moving was a very good idea for her, so why would I point out any negatives? I wasn't the one moving.

I call this the "Hot Air Balloon" effect. Once when we were talking about something else, probably homeschooling (which she does) or fast food dinners (what we both do from time to time), I told her that my job as her friend wasn't to tell her that her choice was right or wrong. It wasn't my job to talk her out of this decision or that, my job was to support her choice. To support the decision she had made. Ultimately she made the decision that was right for her and her family, it's not up to me to be the judge of that decision. My job as her friend is to tell her I had her back. And honestly, nine times out of ten, I know it's the best decision for her. Even when I disagree, I tell her, then, I support her anyway.

Because even if she said, "I'm buying a hot air balloon tomorrow", my response should always be, "Great. What color?", followed by, "When do we fly it?".

I tried really hard to ignore the fact that my best friend was moving to Montana. Even though we talked about it for months, because she needed someone to talk to and vent to. She needed someone to confess her fears and her frustrations. She needed to talk to someone when everyone else in her life was less that excited that she was moving her family of five very far away. So I just kept telling her, "So, you're buying a hot air balloon. What color do you want?". And most days, she would say, "Pink. I want it to be pink".

So as the Pink Hot Air Balloon loomed in our background, I found it funny that many other people in my life wanted to know how I was dealing with it. I guess I understand, when you best friend is moving away, it's expected that you should be a blubbering mess. But I wasn't. My heart hurt a little, but it swelled a lot because she was so excited. I was excited for her and her new adventure. I was inspired that she was taking action, taking control of one her her dreams and making it happen. I wish I could be half as brave in similar instances. Even as her "going away" party got closer and closer on the calendar, I still wasn't as half as upset as I thought I would be. I bought her going away gift with glee, I wrote out some sentiments in a card that didn't say good-bye or bon voyage, and I made sure I could be at the party. Even when we said our good-byes after the party, there were minimal tears. Only promises of seeing each other soon. Promises of endless text messages.

Last Monday I woke up knowing that my best friend was on the road, driving across a couple of states and on to her new home. She would no longer have a familiar zip code or area code. She would be in a different time zone. It was still all surreal. I spent most of the day following along on Instagram as she made her journey. Enjoying pictures of her kids loading in car seats with laptops and snack foods. My breath actually catching when she posted a picture of snow. Because this is exactly what she had been dreaming of for so long. She had awoke something in herself, to go after that one thing she so desired. And I was so happy for her, and so sad for myself, at the same time.

Bittersweet isn't even the word to describe what it's like when your best friend moves so far away that a trip to see her requires an airplane. My heart was so torn because I was so delighted and thrilled for her, and at the same time be so selfish and sad that she isn't just right around the corner. But I felt both, I am both. I'm so damn happy for her that her every time she texts me a picture of the view from her front porch. I'm also heartbroken enough to know that when she posts a picture at the bookstore in her little town, I won't be meeting her there. I'll admit, I'm a little jealous too, a small town bookstore in the snow is so picturesque I can't stand it.

The Pink Hot Air Balloon is flying. And it looks beautiful in that big Montana sky. I miss her, and I miss the idea of her being so close, but I know that I can see her again. I know that we will always text on Thursday nights, after Scandal plays in my time zone. I know that I can send her a book in the mail and she will send me one in return. I know that I will still call her on my mornings off and we will ply our kids with Oreos so we can have important conversations about Hindsight and Harry Potter memes. I know all of that because I know her, and I know me, and I know the miles have never mattered.

One day your best friend might say, "I want to buy a hot air balloon". And I hope that you just smile and ask, "What color are we getting?".

And even when she says chartreuse, be excited anyway.


Swept Away


I can't remember the last time the Hubbs swept me off my feet. This year marks ten years of marriage, and we were more or less dating the five years prior to that. So over time you forget those moments when the one you love, or hate, depending on the day, totally takes you by surprise. But this year, for whatever reason, The Hubbs pulled out all the stops on Valentine's Day.

Hotel Room Selfie
We are not big Valentine's Day people. The Hubbs thinks it's an obligation. I like the overuse of pinks and reds. We don't usually go out to dinner because of the crowds. We don't get each other over the top gifts because we have kids now, and before that, we usually didn't have the extra cash anyway. The first Valentine's Day as newly weds we stayed in and cooked dinner together. Most likely spaghetti and gluten free spaghetti for me. I don't remember the dinner, but what I do remember is that Valentine's Day finally felt right. A little dinner, a little quiet, and a lot of contentment. It set the tone for all the Valentine's Days to follow. Call me boring, but I really like to be home and cozy with dinner and a movie. And so I figured that this year would be no different.

But it was different. The weeks prior, the Hubbs called around for a dinner location, and was able to score one because I had to work on Valentine's Day. He was worried the restaurant wasn't fancy enough. Fancy enough for whom I asked? Do we even remember what fancy restaurants look like? Then we tried to convince the kids to stay the night with Grandma, but they wouldn't have it. They didn't want to stay anywhere and were sure curious why we would need them too. I figured this year would be like most date nights, we go out, we enjoy some limited alone time, and we come home the the monkeys that would still be awake, way past their bedtime with wild eyes and lots of questions. I was okay with that, in fact I was good with that.
He wanted to go to a fancy restaurant and do this?
A few days before Valentine's Day the Hubbs mentioned that I would need to pack an overnight bag. Yes, he said an overnight bag. I asked him if it needed to be weather specific, and he said no, we'd stay local. He said that we wouldn't be coming home after our semi-fancy restaurant dinner, so pack some pajamas. Which I'm sure was supposed to be roughly translated to "sexy underwear", which I have none to speak of. I mean who has the time? But I was excited at the idea that we would be going away. Away. To a room, with a bed with clean sheets, no human alarm clocks, and no schedule to keep. Heavenly.

This year I was totally swept away. The kind of "swept" that makes romantic comedies worth watching. It was nothing extravagant, it was nothing historical, but it was perfectly us. It was the idea that the Hubbs wanted to do this for us. For. Us. To give us this night, and this time together, that is so precious these days. He reminded me that he does listen and pay attention, as evidenced by the package from Lisa Leonard. Sure enough, the earrings I posted to the Hubbs Facebook wall over a month ago were now mine. Then dinner out was fantastic. We sat and talked for an hour without serious interruption. Even though I had to send my dinner back (I'm a food allergy person aka a server's nightmare), and then they threw away the Hubbs dinner while they remade mine, we just ordered more drinks. We laughed about how the cooks and the server probably hated us, and didn't mind waiting longer for our food, since this time we didn't have to keep a schedule. We didn't have to cut the night short. We walked around Fresno's Tower District, which we never inhabit, and I went to a bar I had never been too. We had time, time to spend and waste together. We had each other's undivided attention. And I only took out my phone to capture some pictures.

When we did make it back to the room, the one the Hubbs booked on the sly, it was glorious. Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, laughter and love. We watched stupid TV and sipped champagne and laughed about both. We had a wonderful night just the two of us, and were able to really enjoy each others company. We didn't have to argue about the kids or the dishes or all the paper towels I leave on the counter. It was just us, like it was so many years ago. Because we sometimes forget that we really do like to be around each other. We get busy and distracted. We have to work and parent and sell Girl Scout cookies all weekend, then fit in some grocery shopping along the way. We don't get to be selfish and runway together. So we forget that before all the other chaos, it was just us.

He pulled out all the stops, champagne included.
We woke up the next morning bleary eyed and exhausted. If we could have, we would have booked another day and night. Just to make the time stand still. Just to live in that little pocket of time where it was just us again. But of course we thought about the girls, and if they were missing us, and if they were giving my mom a headache. We had to pack up and come home, but not before we stopped ourselves and ask, "Why don't we do this more often?". Because I'm voting that we totally do this more often.

After ten years and two kids, I was swept off my feet, and I can't wait to be swept away again.

Growing Up


I think I have outgrown Parents Magazine.

I don't think I've read a copy of it cover to cover in over a year. It's a great magazine, don't get me wrong, but I just haven't really been interested. Maybe it's because my kids are older, and I don't need so much baby/toddler advice. Maybe it's because we can't use the recipes as much anymore since one kid is gluten free and the other eats a steady diet of chips and string cheese. Or maybe, I've just outgrown it.

Let me say that I don't think I know everything there is to know about parenting. I still have a lot to learn and I'm learning it everyday. I guess I just feel like I have experts in my life. When you blog, you have Parents Magazine at your fingertips, in some cases just a text or a Facebook post away. And I know this sounds like social media is going to kill off print media, and in some instances it may, but reading about toy recalls and Tylenol dosing and how to get your kid to use his manners in ten steps isn't doing it anymore.

In January's issue there was a story on how to train your baby to be a good sleeper. My entire mothering life this will always be a hot button issue for me, because I didn't have a good sleeper the first time around. I also have broken and continue to break every "good sleeper" rule in the book. But I was curious so I read the finer points of the article which included: stop rocking your baby, stop giving your baby a bottle before bed, don't pick up your baby when they are crying, and so on.. I'm sure you've heard these before. And it's all really good advice if a sleeping baby is important to you. If your baby isn't a super sleeper by nature this may be some much needed advice, but it also made me sad. I wanted the other side of the story too. The one from the mom like me who tried all those things and failed at every one of them. The one who surrendered to rocking and bouncing and bottles at all hours of the night. The one who could not for life of them stand to hear their child "cry it out", and had to hide in her master bath with the fan on while listening to music on her iPod. Where was that story?

I wish I could write that article for them and say that a sleeping baby is a wonderful thing, but so is a baby who won't. A baby who will watch the sunrise with you. A baby who will look into your eyes as you rock them and hold handfuls of your shirt in their tiny fists until all their fight is finally gone. I'd tell those mamas with sleepless babies to embrace the night owl, the night feeder, the two hour stretcher, and enjoy every singe minute with them. Because yes you are tired, and yes you are angry that your kid will not for the love of Pete sleep, but the flip side is that this time will not last forever. Even though it feels like it. This time, these countless hours while the rest of the family sleeps and the world sleeps and the only thing on is CNN, is so damn short. And while it pains you now, one day down the road you will be up, way past every one's bed time and think, "What was I so worried about?". One day the kids will sleep, mostly in your bed, but they will sleep. They will go to school and not hold your shirt in their ever growing fists. And when they wake at night it's for things like water, which now you are happy to get them and if you try to start a conversation with them they will grumble and walk themselves back to bed. Because one day everyone will sleep, and you'll wonder where your baby went.

I guess we all grow up. Babies that won't sleep. Mothers who think they need articles about healthy sleep habits. I guess it's the circle of life. Do expectant mothers even buy What to Expect these days? I can't even imagine. I don't think I'm an expert, but I'm pretty confident I know my own way. The way that feels right for my kids and my family. Parenting is so dynamic that there is never one right answer, just the answer that is right for you.

In my case, I told The Hubbs not to renew my subscription. He looked at me like I was crazy, since it's been in our house for seven years... I told him it was fine. Everything is going to be just fine. We are growing up.

More Frozen BS

*** This post is not meant to be serious. It was written with the intent to make you laugh. Please do not proceed if you are offended by the "eff" word and other words like it. Also I use the word douche bag in this post. My apologies if I have already offended you***


I know that I've already written two posts about the Disney movie Frozen. It's no secret that we love all things Frozen in this house, including the message that it sends to little girls. Positive role models for kids are important no matter who you are, but me, I'm a women's libber at heart and so the idea that a girl forgoes the guy and saves her sister before she saves herself is more than just an act of empowerment. It's a friggen social movement.

The other day someone on my Facebook feed shared a video of a woman on some talk show ranting about Frozen. A woman. Her biggest complaint was that Frozen puts boys and men in a terrible light. It depicts them as stupid and inept and how can we as a culture "empower women" while "emasculating men"?

And with that I turned into a feminist riot-grrl. Ranting and raving and almost throwing my iPhone in a frenzy of: Are you effing kidding me? Does this woman even have a vagina? What kind of bullshit is this?

The Hubbs looked at me like I was crazy?

I'm sorry but has she not been participating in the world since I don't know, nineteen hundred and always**? **this is a John Stewart/Daily show joke

Then when I calmed down and thought about it, I was able to form a different opinion. Maybe it's not so rational, but we are talking about a cartoon here, and even if I may have taken said cartoon a little too seriously in the past, I'm going to lighten the mood here. Frozen does not emasculate men. Not for one minute. What is does do, is show little girls who will grow up into Empowered Women, what an asshole looks like.

Hear me out.

Prince Hans of the Southern Assholes seems like a real stand up guy. At their "meet cute" he saves Anna from what will sure be her drowning since I'm sure she never learned to swim locked up in that castle all those years. He doesn't even get mad that he then gets drenched when she leaves, and that Anna may or may not finish his sandwiches. I mean, he looks like a guy who really cares about his turkey and swiss foot long. He basically falls in love with Anna during a song where they do the robot which hasn't even been invented yet, and he wants to marry her on the spot. This is classic Disney: handsome stranger who knows nothing about you and your seedy past, falls in love with you at first sight and proposes marriage. This is why we (us gals) all grow up with the Cinderella complex, we just think that some handsome stranger is going to walk up to us in a bar and say, "Will you marry me?". At this point though, who cares, Anna has found her handsome prince, and has not a single care in the world. Which is wonderful considering Anna has no game in the love/relationship department after growing up in said locked castle. Thanks to Hans, she won't even need an match.com profile, which also hasn't been invented yet.

Prince Hans further promotes himself as "Suitor Number One" by promising to watch the kingdom while Anna has to find her sister, Elsa, who upon losing her temper has frozen the entire kingdom in an eternal winter. Which if I may point out is totally Anna's fault. So we leave Hans feeling good about Anna's decision. Wondering how the other dude, who we saw in the previews is going to fit into this situation. Because that other dude is on his way and somehow we know he is going to throw a wrench in this love story.

Enter Kristoff. Disney's blue collar man. Look, if ever there was a blue collar profession in the world of Disney, it's the Ice Man. Hard working with strong arms (no one will ever mention Prince Han's arms), he smells like the woods and reindeer and probably the Marlboro's that he smokes behind the Trading Post. He too seems like a stand up guy, since he agrees to the demands of a total stranger who claims to be a princess. She doesn't even show ID or anything and he just says, sure let me take you too the coldest fricking place in the land. No problem. He likes to joke with her and calls her crazy for getting engaged in twelve hours or less. He seems fun and adventurous, but hold on... He's an ice man and that Prince guy who is holding down the fort, er castle for you, he's the guy. He's a prince and so handsome and well obviously the better choice.

Until, as we all know, Prince Hans turns out to be a fucking douche bag.

Prince Hans is a gold digger, and as he begins to show his true colors, somewhat homicidal. He is a liar and a cheat and is perfectly happy with letting Anna die alone cold and heartbroken. What a dick.

This is not emasculating. This is shedding light on some men that really exist in the world. Perhaps I've never come in contact with any that have homicidal tendencies, but I've met plenty of assholes in my day. And if just once Disney movie would have said, "Listen up, this could happen to you!", I would have been all, "Oh shit, not all fairy tales have happy endings?". Maybe I wouldn't have planned my wedding against a Cinderella backdrop at age six. Maybe I would have said fuck it, I'll save myself, before worrying about a true loves kiss.

Can't we also argue that showing little girls everywhere that the Ice Man (Kristoff) is a solid choice is good for business too? Especially if it's love. That Ice Man loves that Princess,  yet I'm sure if her parents were still alive they would say Hell to the No, because he is just an ice man. So the fuck what? He's going to give Anna a good life, filled with love, cute kids, and lots of reindeer. Anna will probably move him into the castle, and she will be the bread winner and damn if that ain't good for empowering women too. And it's not emasculating Kristoff, it's bring his ass, and all our asses into the Millennial. Finally.

Bottom line Frozen is my favorite right now. I have daughters and they should know that the Prince isn't always right, the hard working Ice Man may very well be the man of your dreams, and for the love of GOD save your sister and yourself before you let some guy do your heavy lifting. Unless you want him to do your heavy lifting, then by all means girl, let him. It's your choice. It's always your choice.

I get that not everyone is going to love the empowerment that is going to be inspired by Frozen. Smart women are scary. Ask a smart woman, she will tell you. Someone is always going to have a problem with new. But I honestly think that Frozen will be one of those movies where in thirty years my grand kids are going to say, "Well duh, of course she saves her sister". Because the woman saving the day will be so common, we won't even question the ramifications of it.