Prince Snow Farm

10.28.2015

A Little Lesson




After a full day of teaching, a weary mind and a growling stomach called me to the kitchen.  It is there that I recall perhaps the most important lesson I will teach all day. {Showing how to break thirds into sixths, modeling it, and looking for that light to shine in the hopeful faces around me was important…of course….that's my job! I teach! } But today, as I look into this sweet face, those baby blues, my beautiful almost twelve year old daughter, I know the lesson I need teach, and reteach. I need to write the lesson plan of my life.

Our daughter has Celiac Disease, and this is Celiac Awareness Month.

She was diagnosed by bloodwork, then by endoscopy at Children's Hospital, Boston.

She was 7.

She hadn't grown in an entire year.

Any other symptoms were somewhat minor. A slight tummy ache before bed at night. When children are young and say their belly hurts, our first parenting response is to feed the…."must be hunger pains".  I am horrified at how many times I fed the belly ache gluten, not realizing I was encouraging a hidden disease.

She was a 7 year old who already knew what brick oven pizza tasted like. She knew the crunch of cheddar goldfish and loved eating at friend's houses or out as a family. But suddenly upon diagnosis, her little world was turned upside down. Actually, the whole family was, I suppose.

I know what you are thinking…"I see gluten free foods EVERYWHERE! Restaurants sell gluten free too!" But WHOA Nellie. Slow Down! It's NOT that easy!

A product marked gluten free doesn't mean healthy. In fact, many boxed gluten free foods are high in starches and carbs, and processed. Not all, but many.

And as for restaurants, cross contamination is our enemy. Children's Hospital told us that ingesting as little as a crumb can put your intestines back to where they were.

So now's a good time for me to explain exactly what Celiac Disease is. First off, it's NOT an allergy. It's an autoimmune disease.

If someone with Celiac eats wheat, rye, barley, or contaminated oats, gluten (a protein), attacks the small intestine, and the body tries to fight it with an autoimmune response.  The villi of the small intestine are damaged, and proper nutrients cannot be absorbed. If these symptoms aren't treated, other autoimmune problems may develop, like Type I Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), certain types of dermatitis, anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, epilepsy, migraine, short stature and intestinal cancers.
(info from Celiac.org)

Our daughter has spent the last five years fighting a disease that to many around her, appears to just mean a lunchbox at birthdays and a homemade lunch each day from mom.

But I am here as her mom, her protector, her advocate, to say it goes so much deeper. 

It's a disease about willpower. It's about sacrifice and willingness.

It's about explaining the why's and how's.

It's about reading EVERY. SINGLE.  LABEL. TWICE.

For our daughter, it has also meant trying to wrap her little girl mind around why your friends don't just include you in lunch, or dinner or snacks anymore, even though that had been your norm.

But it is also about friends and family that ask, and read, and try to make an 8, 9, 10, 11 year old feel welcomed, and safe, and NORMAL.  A gluten free snack, an egg cooked in a clean pan, a pizza order from one of two local restaurants that are very strict in their practices. Food shouldn't have that much of an overwhelming impact on a child's life. But it does. Think about it: movies, class snacks, donuts, friend's houses, birthdays, vacations, impromptu car rides.


 This almost twelve year old has fought a valiant fight.

She gave up gluten five years ago and hasn't looked back. She has NEVER cheated.

 I'm not sure I could be that strong! 

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST in support of  or daughter, CMT, and the fight that she and others fight daily.

Thanks to our friends and family for caring and helping.

Thanks to On the Go and Chipotle for being the two local restaurants where we can safely order gluten free food.

Together we can fight for easier ways to manage this disease, and we can pray for a cure.

xo 
Monica

In C's words: " I feel like it's been a journey because I have tried different foods, foods I might not have tried if I wasn't gluten-free.But I feel like I have been excluded from some things because I am gluten free. Moving forward I am trying to stay positive, and want to encourage others to know that it WILL be ok, and that we need to find new ways to celebrate life, not just with food!"

A few gluten-free recipes from previous blog posts:















10.23.2015

Wisdom…and Thoughts on Turning Fifty

{see post below photos}

















{Wisdom}

I’ve done the usual school afternoon kind of things…ride from friends to golf…phone call to the registry…throw in some laundry…tidy the house…plan and prepare dinner…

And here I sit. Contemplating life. And the concept of WISDOM.

My heart’s beating a bit faster tonight. I’m even a little on edge. You see, it’s the eve of my 50th birthday. I’m not sure I ever saw it coming. I have NEVER been one to be concerned with age. I blow the candles out each year and continue on with life.

But something’s different tonight. I’m not sure it will ever be the same. It’s a feeling I cannot truly explain, but I will attempt to describe. It’s a feeling of “what if?” and “when?” and “should I?”.  It’s a questioning of self. Have I done enough in that half of a century. Have I cared enough? Loved enough? Wondered enough?

Have I chased my dreams more than adequately? I mean really made an effort? Even if I fall into bed exhausted?

Have I planned enough, without planning too much?

Will my future meet my expectations?

Are my expectations honest and important enough to pursue?

At the end of another 50 years, will I be able to look at my wrinkly cheeks in the mirror and smile? Will I feel accomplished by my own means and to my own heart?

It is a strange feeling. Different than marrying or giving birth. I feel a new chapter beginning,and  it feels remarkable and frightening at the same time.

I hope I have the WISDOM to do it justice.






10.19.2015

Familiarity






I am such a creature of habit. And I like it that way. To me, FAMILIARITY is peaceful and inviting and soothes my soul. Pulling open the drapes and letting the morning sun ease in... baking in my warm, cozy kitchen…the smell of lavender detergent on freshly washed bed linens…the catbird chirping at me from the overgrown trellis beneath my bedroom window…these are all things that allow me to be me!

I love family traditions for the same reasons….they give me a feeling of contentment. Thanksgiving dinner at the house I grew up in…complete with the jellied cranberry sauce, and Mom's mashed potatoes. Christmas Eve at my in-laws with generosity and love spilling all around. Christmas Day here at home where our kids relax in their pajamas and family pops in at a casual pace.

I thoroughly enjoy Saturday morning chores and Sunday morning's slow start with warm muffins and CBS Sunday Morning. Perhaps it's the routine that I love,or the people or the places. Perhaps it's the feeling I get. Some would say "same old, same old" and equate that with BORING! I say quite the opposite. Familiarity allows me to breathe!

10.18.2015

Kindness



I have two things that I have repeated to my children since they were too small to even comprehend what I was talking about: 1.) Keep joy in your heart, no matter what, everyday. 2.) Be kind to everyone, because you never know what they are going through. I have also tried, as a mom, wife, daughter, sister and teacher to follow the same philosophy in my own life, and to model it daily. At times I think I fail, or maybe at least falter a bit. And then, there are days that I feel content, knowing that I have given my heart as freely as possible.

No one is perfect.... and I have to remind myself of this when I am confronted with a situation where someone hasn't quite treated someone else with kindness. Words can be so hurtful. The tween and teen years are so difficult to navigate...add the notion of thinking of other's feelings to the mix, and it can be an even tougher road to navigate. But as a mom, this is where our kids are counting on us. Show them the path, steer them when necessary, even if they sneer, or shed tears, or roll their eyes. Let them absorb what you show them, let them respond  to what you tell them. Keep communication open. Let them talk. Let them explain. Let them know that what they think is important too.

If we spend our days criticizing and gossiping, and judging, our children will soon follow suit. Lead by example. Smile. Hold a door for someone. Drop off cans at the food bank. Volunteer at shelter. Make someone's favorite dinner. Turn down the covers and put a love note on a pillow. Mow your neighbor's lawn while they are at work, drop off cookies to a friend....be there for others in whatever way presents itself.

1.) Keep  joy in your heart EVERYDAY!
2.) Be kind to EVERYONE, because we don't know what they are going through.



10.17.2015

You Have My Heart

This morning as my math class took an exam, sunlight spilled across eleven year old heads on one side of the room, while dark skies and thunder loomed in the shadows. A cold front was making its way through. It carried a few lingering booms and a splattering of hail, leaving sunny autumn skies and happy sparrows outside my courtyard window.






Why do I grieve summer! Why can I not rejoice in the glory of autumn and the notion that winter will wrap the gardens in a cover of white…ultimately giving way to the rebirth of spring.? I know it is true! I have lived through almost a half century of these magical seasonal changes.


Yet the sorrow is true and my affection steadfast.


I trimmed the last roses this afternoon. They smell just as a rose should. I drank in their aroma, the curve and texture of each petal.  And in my quiet reflection, I realized my hesitance comes not from selfishness, but rather from an innate passion that has been nurtured since childhood.

Summer, you have my heart. 


10.13.2015

Loyalty


I'm going to toot my own horn a bit. 

I am loyal. Always have been. Always will be.

I cannot really help it. It's part of my genetic make up. 

My parents are two of the most loyal people I have ever known.

So what is loyalty?

The ability to keep a secret?

Lending an ear?

Staying by someone's side through thick and thin?

Personally, I think it's about compassion…caring for someone else enough that what they do and say and feel matters just as much to you as it does to them.

I think it's about being there for them even when they are pressing your buttons….

…or when you are pressing theirs.

The best part is that LOYALTY doesn't expire. It's still there when you see your college BFF 20 years later…or when your best friend in high school lives thousands of miles away. 

I must admit I think it's one of the finest qualities to look for in a friend or a lifelong companion.

So I'll wear my pageant sash proudly, and pass it along to the next generation. 


10.11.2015

Focus

photo by Noah Tavares aka The Coastal Photographer

I thought this photo by my son was the perfect representation of my theme for today, FOCUS. It's not just the sharpness of an image, or how clear it appears. It's our  every day lives. Work, play, family. I love how the photo is crystal-clear in some places, and perfectly blurred in others. That's reality. Sometimes we know where a path is leading us, and other times we are close, but not quite there. We cannot quite figure out what to do or which way to turn. And then, when we think all has failed, things come into FOCUS. We find our way on the right path. Not to say there won't be twists and turns, and roots to trip over….but these experiences will make us stronger and wiser. Sometimes the most unexpected and wonderful things happen when life is a little out of FOCUS.

10.10.2015

faith




I have prayed to God since I was a little girl. At bedtime I would clasp my hands together  and recite memorized prayers. This was my God talk. With age came inevitable changes, but God remained a constant. He became not just someone to pray to, but someone to talk to. When I was in my early teens, I started talking to God. Full out conversations. Ok, I was doing most of the talking. Well I guess I was doing ALL of the talking. But I truly never felt that way. Maybe when we have FAITH, true strong FAITH in a higher power or being, FAITH becomes about belief and hope. It becomes about late night conversations. I have begged and cried and pleaded. I have thanked and exalted. As my father lay passing to another world last December, I held tight to my God talk. I asked Him for guidance, wanting to hold onto this man who taught me the true meaning of FAITH, first with a firm guidance, and many years later with a gentle and pure connection. I wasn't ready to let go.....I fought it with my entire being. How could I separate my Earthly self from the person who taught me the call of the purple finch, who showed me how to plant a fruitful garden or to grow an elegant Iris? My FAITH guided me through that difficult  time. My nighttime prayer became more important than  ever. In private, wordless conversations God whispered guidance and held my hand. The FAITH I hold in my heart today is a wonderful swirling concoction of what was gifted to me as a daughter, what I have discovered on my own, and an ever maturing and evolving God talk. I am blessed.


See my other 31 Days Posts HERE.

10.09.2015

Reverence





A long day, tired eyes, slumpy posture.

Should I have a coffee? Nah. Too late in the day. I won't sleep.

Let me at the bag of M&M's. I am starving...Or am I?

"Oh look, the turkeys," I mumble,  half to myself, half to Stormy,  as she gives me the sideways pug glance. My hands automatically grab the camera from its pouch and sling it around my neck. My well worn green muck boots sit by the screen porch door. I slide them on, hoping nothing is living inside them. I'm  too lazy to check. I shut the door behind me and have barely taken in one full breath when I feel it.  It is royalty in my presence. It is the most intense embrace I have ever felt. It is love like no other. It is the crimson plume of autumn grasses. It is  a fallen apple beneath the tree. It is a budded dahlia and the hawk in flight. It is fallen seeds and foraging chipmunks. It is bejeweled zinnias and twisting morning glories. It is the touch of the late afternoon air on your cheek, or the sound of the Great Horned Owl deep in the woods. I drink it in and it nourishes me. It is nature, and it has me wrapped around its little finger.


10.08.2015

Understanding





I'm standing on a broken piece of curb. It's recess time. There are kids everywhere running and screaming and laughing and playing. It's one of my favorite times of day. The sunlight filters through the woods and spills across the field. Sometimes I walk with my teacher. Sometimes I slide down the rusty slide in my Polly Flinders dress. But most of the time I am here, where worn blacktop meets grassy ball field....the estuary of the playground. And it is here that I learn to understand. Friends gather near me , their fourth grade problems spilling forth in an endless stream. I listen, quietly, as always. I nod occasionally. I smile. I listen some more. I don't offer quick fixes or words of wisdom. I simply listen. Perhaps it was here that I first learned to put the needs of others before my own.


Read my other posts HERE

10.07.2015

Compassion

Compassion


For some reason when I read the word “compassion”, my eyes always focus on PASSION.. It hovers like a hummingbird an arm’s reach from me. Sometimes, more often than not, I feel the tug to go and “do”. I wait for the word to flap its little invisible wings and lead me to a part of the world where I am needed. I have ALWAYS felt the call…from the time I was a little girl swaddling my baby dolls I have felt it. It comes from somewhere deep. It’s a pull, a want, a need. It’s a feeling that someone is hurting or lonely or filled with grief. I feel it often. It brings me to tears often. At bedtime when I am in the passing between life and dreams, I feel the strongest tug. Yet here I am, mom, wife, teacher, gardener. I putter my days away, and then lay my head on a soft pillowcase, wondering if I have ignored the pleas or perhaps I am not needed yet.

P.S.Thanks Tessa

See my other nature reflections HERE!

10.06.2015

Gratitude Day 1b



{Please join me every day in October as I allow nature to be my daily guide and inspiration. A single snapshot paired with a powerful word, become the catalyst for thought and reflection.}

*I had written this to go with my gratitude post, and then I didn't know if I'd have time to really write with my quotes,but I was thinking you all wouldn't mind if I posted as a little extra.




{Gratitude}

When I was growing up I thought gratitude was about using your manners. My parents raised five VERY polite kids in the 1970's. But what I thought was gratitude was actually respect. It wasn't until the 1990's, when Oprah Winfrey introduced The Gratitude Journal, that I truly understood the concept of gratitude. I was finally able to express and honor who and what I was thankful for.  That same year, my entire 6th grade class kept gratitude journals. We wrote in them on Fridays and shared with one another. It was touching beyond words to watch the transformation of a group of eleven year olds,  first starting out thankful for candy, video games and puppies, then slowly morphing and progressing with their concept of "grateful". Their thoughts became more abstract, and showed a deeper meaning for nature and the world around them.

Gratitude is so much more than saying thank you.  It’s about relationships and attitude. It’s about doing for others and allowing others to do for you. Gratitude is that feeling you get when the unexpected happens…a hug from your child after a long day at work, a cup of coffee waiting on your desk, a smile when your mind is a million miles away, a scent that brings you back to childhood, a summer rain that soaks your garden and makes the birds twitter. Gratitude is the ordinary and the extraordinary. It’s nothing and everything. It is thought provoking and pensive. Gratitude allows us to dig deep or skim the surface.

And for that...I am grateful.

Grace



See my other Nature Reflections HERE

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