Wednesday, September 28

Wednesday porch chats

I'm doing Chats on the Farmhouse Porch today. Hooray!

Would you rather cook or clean house?

Well, I can't cook until my house is clean, or at the very least, my kitchen. My workspace is so miniscule, I can't function unless it's clean and tidy.

Who do you resemble in your family? 

Oh, a little of column A, a little of column B. I have my mom's build and my dad's nose, my grandma's eyes and a slather of introspective creative bent from both sides. And plenty of OCD.

We always muse that every genius, from Beethoven to Einstein, would have been labeled obsessive-compulsive, or attention-deficit, or some other label, and then heavily medicated, thereby eradicating their genius. Says loads about our culture, doesn't it?

Have you tried e-books yet? 

Yeah, I don't care for them. Staring at a screen is not the same as reading a book, and you can't loan it to anybody without handing over your username and password. Not to mention the issue with batteries and Amazon being able to remotely wipe your Kindle. Stick your device on a shelf for 15 years and see if the book is still readable. But paper and ink books? Still kickin'!

Do you collect anything?

Books. I collect books that I love, mostly by long-dead authors. I have a collection of Albert Payson Terhune that lives at mom's, because I don't have the space here, and the books are too old and delicate to go into storage. I even have one that is a first edition with the original color plates. I'm currently sniffing about for other authors to collect. I'm sampling lots of writing right now.

What's your favorite fall tradition? 

Halloween! It's kind of funny. When I was little, I loved Halloween because I got to dress up and have candy. Then when I was a teenager, I was too old to dress up and felt guilty about still liking it. Now that I'm an adult with kids, I can dress them up, decorate with pumpkins, and hand out candy. It's so much fun having kids! They make a great cover to do all the things that I'm supposed to have grown out of.

Monday, September 26

Wheat makes me mean

So I've chronicled our experiments with going off wheat, mostly trying to cure Alex's chronic cough. (Which I believe is caused by sugar.)

Anyway, I don't eat much wheat anyway, because I've never really liked bread, except as toast. Right before we had officially gone of wheat, I had noticed that if I had had no wheat that day, and ate, say, a muffin, I'd have a dramatic mood swing. Always toward the angry. (Why can't mood swings be into the happy and nice?)

So I haven't had any wheat in days, and this morning I made pancakes. The kids had been asking, and I thought, eh, what the hey. So I had one pancake with jam, thinking that if I alternated it with bites of oatmeal, my body would never notice.

An hour later, I stepped out of the shower and suddenly I'm screaming at the kids in rage. And I kind of shook myself and went, "What in the world is this? A mood swing?" Then I remembered that pancake. So I slowly blew-dry my hair and prayed and prayed for God to help me to get a handle on this mood. By the time I was done, I felt in control again.

But yeah. Wheat is baaaaad for me. I can't do the mood swing thing.

And for my aunt, who was asking about gluten-free, here is my standard personal gluten-free menu. (The kids and Ryan don't stick to this quite as close as I do.)

Breakfast: 2-egg omelet with cheese, bowl of oatmeal with bananas or strawberries or raisins.

Lunch: Hotdogs wrapped in lettuce leaf, corn tortilla chips, fruit or carrot sticks with homemade Ranch dip.

Snacks: Peanuts and raisins, homemade granola bars, fruit, carrot or bell pepper strips, or smoothies.

Dinner: Anything you like, as flour doesn't generally factor into dinner for us. Stir fry over rice, or baked chicken dishes, or enchiladas with corn tortillas, or baked beans with green beans, or chili thickened with masa, or various soups with rice instead of noodles.

Amazon does sell einkorn noodles, einkorn being the ancient relative of wheat with far less gluten, and reportedly it doesn't bother gluten-intolerant people. There's also brown rice noodles, which aren't quite so expensive.

And googling "gluten-free" turns up thousands of blogs and recipes run by people who are gluten-intolerant, explaining how to get around it.

Friday, September 23

Stormy evening

So we went outside to look at tonight's thunderstorm, and right over our apartment were some emerging mammatus clouds. We don't get these kinds of clouds in the San Joaquin valley.
The kids were thoughtful.
Holly looking ... a rainbow sliver.
Alex posing with rainbow sliver.
The creepy clouds eventually billowed out into nothing.
But they continued to look creepy.

Thursday, September 22

Food experiments

Some people on Facebook who are into mad scientists and steampunk referred to their kids as "experiments", which I found hilarious. I feel like Alex has been the subject of many experiments (harmless, of course!)

Mostly pertaining to that cough of his. I thought I had it pegged to wheat, then I found out that wheat converts pretty much to pure sugar once you eat it. I made a pumpkin pie and let the kids have a couple slices. Lo and behold, his cough worsened within hours. It's starting to look a lot like a sugar allergy. Which is a lot less of a problem than any of the other potential allergies--I can deal with sugar.

I should have figured it out when his cough started after eating a ton of jellybeans at Easter. And he's always responded well to probiotic. All symptoms of a sugar allergy.


It's taken me how long to figure this out? Of course, I have kind of been preoccupied with a new baby, so I suppose that contributes.

Tuesday, September 20

Birthdays according to kids

When you're a kid, birthdays are awesome. You look forward to your birthday. You're going to be a year older, eat cake and ice cream, and get new toys! What's not to like? It's the perfect day!
And if your birthday is all kinds of awesome, then your mom and dad's birthdays should be exponentially more awesome. They're older, so they should throw, like, a massive party, right? Except they don't. Mom and Dads grunt, "Eh. My birthday." And go back to reading the newspaper or chopping onions.
My birthday is coming up, and the munchkins keep asking, "What are we going to do for your birthday?" And I'm all, "Meh." After so many years of having to work on my birthday, and missing my siblings' birthdays because of work, birthdays lose their shine. Also there's the advancing age issue. After age 21, there's no more milestones of age except maybe Midlife Crisis and Death. Um, yay?

Anyway, while casting about for something to do that might be fun for the munchkins, I discovered that the Via Arte is on the weekend after my birthday this year. It's this place in a local theater/shopping center where they rope off the parking lot and do massive chalk paintings on the asphalt. I've even participated back when I was in art class and we bought a square or two. It's loads of fun. Also I have a birthday coupon for free ice cream from Cold Stone. So I thought we could go brave the crowds, look at the chalk paintings, and get some ice cream. A fun birthday event for all!

Wednesday, September 14

Wheat Belly excerpt

Here's an excerpt from Wheat Belly by William Davis, that book I was talking about earlier. His whole premise is that eating wheat has made us extremely fat. Especially "healthy whole grains". Here's a nice slice of juiciness:

People are usually shocked when I tell them that whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose. Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.

This information is not new. A 1981 University of Toronto study launched the concept of glycemic index, i.e., the comparative blood sugar effects of carbohydrates: the higher the blood sugar after consuming a specific food compared to glucose, the higher the glycemic index (GI).

The original study showed that the GI of white bread was 69, while the GI of whole grain bread was 72, and Shredded Wheat cereal was 67, while that of sucrose (table sugar) was 59. Yes, the GI of whole grain bread is higher than that of sucrose. Incidentally, the GI of a Mars bar--nougat, chocolate, sugar, caramel, and all--is 68. That's better than whole grain bread. The GI of a Snickers bar is 41--far better than whole grain bread.

... Therefore, wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars. This has important implications for body weight, since glucose is unavoidably accompanied by insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting glucose to fat.

The higher the blood glucose after consumption of food, the greater the insulin level, the more fat is deposited. That is why, say, eating a three-egg omelet that triggers no increase in glucose does not add to body fat, while two slices of whole wheat bread increases blood glucose to high levels, triggering insulin and growth of fat, particularly abdominal or deep visceral fat.

There's even more to wheat's curious glucose behavior. The amylopectin A-induced surge in glucose and insulin following wheat consumption is a 120-minute-long phenomenon that produces the "high" at the glucose peak, followed by the "low" of the inevitable glucose drop.

The surge and drop creates a two-hour roller coaster ride of satiety and hunger that repeats itself throughout the day. The glucose "low" is responsible for stomach growling at 9 AM, just two hours after a bowl of wheat cereal or an English muffin breakfast, followed by 11 AM prelunch cravings, as well as the mental fog, fatigue, and shakiness of the hypoglycemic glucose nadir.

Trigger high blood sugars repeatedly and/or over sustained periods, and more fat accumulation results. The consequences of glucose-insulin-fat deposition are especially visible in the abdomen--resulting in, yes, wheat belly.

The bigger your wheat belly, the poorer your response to insulin, since the deep visceral fat of the wheat belly is associated with poor responsiveness, or "resistance", to insulin, demanding higher and higher insulin levels, a situation that cultivates diabetes.

Moreover, the bigger the wheat belly in males, the more estrogen is produced by fat tissue, and the larger the breasts. The bigger your wheat belly, the more inflammatory responses that are triggered: heart disease and cancer.

As you can see, this got our attention. So we've been wheatless since Sunday, and Hubby's already lost 2 pounds.

You know that surge and drop of the blood sugar that he mentions? We've been struggling with that for months. We'd eat about 7, and about 9 or 10, we'd both be falling asleep on our feet. And we wouldn't even feel hungry, just sugar-crashed. Since we eliminated wheat, that awful crash is gone.

I still do crash a bit in the late afternoon, when I've been nursing the baby a lot, but it's always accompanied by hunger. Not the feeling of still being full and knowing I need to eat and not being able to. I've had to take fewer naps as a result. It's wonderful!

Saturday, September 10


Alex has been coughing and coughing since Easter. Over the ensuing months, I've experimented on him, trying one thing after another to get rid of the cough.

We've moved his bed. We've loaded him up on probiotics. We've limited his sugar, and lately, we've limited his wheat.

Sugar and wheat limitation have had the most dramatic effect on his coughing. He's been off wheat for about three days, and his cough is limited to a little bit right before bed, and a little bit when he gets up. Before, he was coughing all night, usually making himself throw up.

I was afraid he had whooping cough or something, but he has no other symptoms besides the cough. It's made him hard to pin down.

Anyway, I think he has a bit of a wheat allergy. Then my mom found this book:

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
Wheat Belly, by William Davis.

He's a cardiologist who observed huge, dramatic turnarounds in thousands of patients who came to him for treatment, and all he had them do was stop eating wheat. No other diet or exercise changes. And he's seen cures in diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and all kinds of other things. It has to do with our modern wheat being so genetically modified that it's more or less unsafe for human consumption. There is no such thing as "healthy whole grains".

I'll post some excerpts from it later on. Right now, the order of business is trying to figure out what to feed picky children when you're pretty much going gluten-free. When peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a food staple, it's hard to change. So tonight I'm looking at some kind of pizza with a cornmeal crust.

(I tried grinding some flaxseed, then found out that there are two kinds of flaxseed--dark and golden. Dark flaxseed is extremely bitter. Guess which one I have!)

I have some rice flour, but it tends to make really goopy dough. I'm experimenting with adding it to cornflour to make the cornflour a little less grainy. I'm considering picking up some other kind of flour, like amaranth or gram (which is chickpea), but I'm afraid of paying something like 4 bucks a pound.

Wednesday, September 7

Wednesday random

Hadn't updated in a while, so I figured I'd dump a few pics on here from my expiring camera. Here's Claire with a toy. She's very interested in toys now, but her hands don't grab as well as she would like, and she gets frustrated easily.

I told these two, "Go smile for me!" And my camera died. Twice. So here they are, being patient.

Anyway, we're off to do a bit of school. I discovered the Veggietales Sing the 80's album on Spotify, and I'm sitting here laughing my head off. The munchkins have no ideas that we're listening to spoofs.


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