Monday, November 11, 2013

Tea or Coffee?

I am, as usual totally over-thinking things...but I would like to invite you to my mind cascade...the accuracy is tenuous and I may be extrapolating, but bear with me....

I like coffee okay.  It had to grow on me.

I adore tea.  I loved it the first time I tasted it.

I drink both to stay awake and to calm down.  I drink both in excess depending, often, on my state of mind.

My cousin linked me up to this lovely history lesson on why Americans drink coffee instead of tea. (HERE)  The short version was the American decision to extricate itself from the British culture. 

But here's the funny part.  How the creation/use/delivery tends to also reflect our culture...

Tea.  It was originally medicinal.  It's picked and dried and mixed with herbs, fruit, and spices.  The maturation of the plants range between 4-12 years.  The delivery requires steeping.  There are whole ceremonies surrounding the service.  There is often food involved in it's drinking.  Historically it was also kept in locked boxes.  And don't even get me started on each culture's particular customs, tea cups, tea services, and Samovars.

Coffee.  It has always been used for it's energizing properties.  After the plant is brought to maturity, usually a few years, the berries (seeds specifically) are harvested between 6-11 months.  They are slightly dried for shipping.  Then they are roasted, some roasts are even double roasted.  I've heard rumors that some are even slightly burned for taste.  Delivery requires processing with water, but this can happen very quickly, even without it being instant.  It can be flavoured, (it appears to be usually artificial).  There is no real ceremony involved, but the amount of caffeine and taste appears to be the sliding scale.  It can be social, but it is primarily used to increase personal productivity.  Even the service, mugs, and shops tend to the utilitarian.

Can you see where I am going?
US= speedy and useful
Other countries = history, time, socially driven, intricacies, patience, ceremony

No real judgement, as the South brought back much of the social ceremony in the culture of Sweet Tea.  And, of course, hot tea is drunk and deeply enjoyed by many Americans...

I'm just saying there is something to be said for the time and tradition of tea. 

Little girls play tea party because there is magic in it.  They don't play coffee shop...because they aren't rushing through life yet.

Slow down, have some tea every now and again.....enjoy the ceremony.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food Allergy Awareness Week.  Thanks to my complaining posts  on Facebook over the last couple of years, you are probably more aware than most...But I plan to post a few things this week.

I had a friend when Elise was little, whose child was allergic to corn.  This made crackers and snacks nigh unto impossible for her to eat.  She also was allergic to faux sweeteners that made medicine the holy grail to find.  It blew my mind at the time.

Then when Charlotte was born, I had a friend who had a son at the same time.  They discovered within the first 18 months of his life that he had a rare food allergy/reaction called Eosinophilic Esophagitis.  In a nutshell, when he ate something that he was allergic to, his esophagus would swell up, causing vomiting and difficulty swallowing.  I remember telling her that I would much rather have a child with Down Syndrome than a child with food allergies.

For the record, I still say that.

Thanks to the candy popcorn incident, we discovered that Charlotte was allergic to food dyes.  With that awareness, we ended up doing a food diary, because the food dyes was not scratch test/blood test-able at the time.  Thanks to the food diary, we learned that she was allergic to several preservatives...which has further snowballed to almost all preservatives, stabilizers, and thickeners.  Also amaranth, sunflower seed (sunflowers seed oil!), cottonseed oil (cotton shirts are still fine, thank God!) and we seem to be adding them by the week...

With the food allergies, not only does her mouth swell up and rash, but it impacts her attitude and behavior.  Like it turns her into an emotional raving lunatic, complete with rocking, humming, screaming, and general irrational-ness.  When we went to her 3 year check up, our pediatrician recommended against any more vaccinations because of this emotional fragility to external initiation.  I had done a staggered vaccination schedule and she had started reacting to stuff when she was under 2, so I had declined the MMR.  While I do not believe that vaccinations "cause" autism, per say, I do think that they are the trigger for kids with an under-lying propensity.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I was paranoid so early out, because I am convinced Charlotte would be "that kid".

With all this, comes the necessity of reading all packaging and reading FDA policies.  And I have become one of the crazy, granola-thumping, natural people.  The kind of person I always made fun of.  Rather than become a short order cook, I have made the diet overhaul a family-wide affair.  And I have discovered terrifying stuff about our food as a nation.  I believe part of our nation's obesity problem is indeed from the lack of playing and exercise, but I also believe that it is also inherently linked to the constant chemical man-handling of food.  It's not what our grandparents ate anymore.  Heck, it's not even what out parents ate. Europe has banned dyes, certain preservatives, and a whole host of things in their foods thanks to proven medical links to psychological and physiological impact.  Interestingly, our companies are complying with their bans for them...BUT NOT FOR US.  I cannot tell you how crazy that makes me.

All this to say, food allergies are not just "inconvenient".  They are a huge deal.  They are not to be blown off.  Medically or personally.

Please, PLEASE if someone is allergic don't be careless, try and make changes in your party options.  Include natural and non-food options.  And consider reading up on some of the food you eat.  It might just change your world.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day 2013

The more I see of life the more I realize that my childhood was enchanted.

The more I see of mothers, the more I realize that you were, despite your flaws and baggage, sensational.

The more I am faced with my own personality and sensory issues by my own kids, the more impressed I am that you did as well as you did with virtually no personal history, resources, or education.

The more I cook from scratch the more impressed I am with your planning and chef skills in that tiny galley kitchen.

The more I keep house the more your conscientious cleanliness blows my mind.

The more I try to teach life and skills to unwilling participants, the more respect I have for your education.

The more my kids try to stay up to talk about their life in the dark when I am exhausted, the more I honor your willingness to stay.

You were and are a woman above other women, a mother above other mothers.

I thank you.
I aspire to be like you.
I love you.

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rogue Sensory Applications

I am duo posting this one...because it is Charlotte and Elise.

This is Rogue, from X-men.  She has the "super powers" of absorption.  She can touch a human or mutant, and take their memories and their powers, the powers is a temporary thing...but the memories tend to stay with her...

At this point, I know many of you are confused or simply don't care.  That's fine, but it just struck me as amusing this morning.

Both Elise and Charlotte have what is known as SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder.  It means that their brains struggle to regulate sensory input.  It can either register abnormally high or abnormally low.  For example, a sound can be normal or even unnoticeable to you and it will be WAY too loud for one of the girls, reducing them to cowering or crying.  Or, conversely, they can request louder, Louder, LOUDER to the point you think your eardrums will bleed.  Same with food, clothing, smells.  It can affect any of the senses, and it can present both as over and under-registry, in the same child and even the situation.

Why the heck even bring Rogue into this story? 

Because kids with SPD crave either comforting or input, and will take from you.  They will install themselves into your pocket and pet your face in a desperate attempt to self-soothe, or crash into you repeatedly on the couch, or rock themselves in your lap, or pick an example...they suck your senses into themselves to regulate (just like Rogue!)...  The goal is to teach themselves how to self-regulate without involving others, but as they learn, their parents and caregivers tend to take the brunt of it...emotionally and physically, sometimes as well.

Those with SPD are often hyper aware of other people's emotions, to the point they cannot separate others' emotions from their own.  Although they may isolate themselves due to their physical/sensory ups and downs...and can experience an emotional isolation as well...their super powers of emotional reading, can play in their favor and they can be superlative friends because of it.  In the face of societal norms...they can give a base of support than no one else can.

They are the rogues of society.  But they can be spectacular heroes, too...  So before you judge the kid in jammies in the supermarket, or the parent who would love to trade in their parent card, keep in mind, raising superheroes is a lot of work.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Amelia's Sight

So Amelia has gotten away from saying shocking and bizarre kinda makes me sad.  Not that her thoughts don't literally roll through her head and fall out of her mouth.  I know exactly every fear and every thought that she has, because it ALWAYS gets told.

But I still discovered two things this week...She SEES "past her nose".

She is very aware of how much she has.  When she asked to make a Christmas list, it included zero presents, it was all activities that she wanted to do over the holidays with her family.  She has asked for exactly 3 things for Christmas.  She wants a new doll, a Barbie, and a recorder.  And she has offered about 15 things out of her room that she doesn't play with "enough" and that I am to find someone who "needs" them for Christmas.  She has even offered dear things to her heart when she hears of those who don't have anything.  I am thankful and just a little proud of that.  I am touched by her generous spirit.

Also, she had a project for school this week that she was supposed to do for a "Shape Museum".  They could make, draw, or take pictures of things in their life, home, etc.  I assumed that she would want to do some kind of project.  I even saved up boxes and toilet paper rolls in that assumption.  She chose, rather, to take photographs.  I gave her my camera and told her she could take as many as she wanted and we would decide which ones to include.  She took over 100 pictures in our house of shapes.  And they were amazing.  The perspectives were unique.  Not just the sight line of a 6 year old, but a real eye to what to include.  And what shapes she saw where was striking.  She may not have an artist's hand for drawing, but she certainly does have an artist's eye for photographs.  Which makes me think that I should see if I can find a cheap digital camera somewhere...or even just our old one...I would love to encourage this strength.  Because she finds so much joy, it could provide for her future as a job, and because I always get so caught up in the moment that I forget to take photos!  I know that I would love more concrete memories!  We ended up chosing about 50 photos and making a book...and regardless of her grade, I am thankful that she had this opportunity to discover more about this amazing girl that lives with me! 

Lest you think that we never get any good Amelia-isms: 

Amelia, in the bath: "Would we explode if we didn't have a bottom?"

Me: "What do you mean?"

A: "You know. Like if you couldn't poot. Or poop. Or pee. If all that couldn't get out of your body. You'd explode!!"

My little scientist.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Musical Mulling, Crocodile Rock

Charlotte has not lost her taste in well done music.  She has become a giant fan of music in movies...and Elton John tops her list right now thanks to "Gnomeo and Juliet"...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I Never Needed to be Empowered.

My Papa did slip away yesterday.  But not before my mama read my letter to him.  In the state he received it, did he hear it?  I'm not really sure.  I like to think so. 

Which brings me to today.  Why do we often wait until it's too late to realize that we should have said the things we wanted to?

I've decided to take that challenge today.  This letter is to my Anna.  My grandmother that is the match to my Papa I wrote to on Tuesday.

To My Dear Anna~

Let's start there, shall we?

My Anna (pronounced 'Ah-nah') chose her own grandmother name WAY before it was cool.  Now everybody is doing it.  And that is an excellent segway into her essence...

My Anna was an empowered woman before it was cool.  She was a missionary to Africa, she carried spears.  She had a baby in the middle of nowhere by the headlights of a car.  She knew insanely long patriotic poems by heart...and didn't just recite them by memory, she spoke them with passion and fire!

It never occurred to me that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do with my life, because she could do anything.  She was strong.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She could manage any crisis.

If my Papa was the peaceful, cool waters of life, my Anna was the fire and passion in life.  They were a truly matched set.  They were the perfect balance.  My Papa knew what to say to soothe your soul.  My Anna always knows what to do to smooth your path.  She has the organization and the charisma to get ANYTHING done.  Her personality has always been an all encompassing force of nature. 

She knows how to appreciate the quality of something fine.  And yet, that woman knows how to find a deal.  She has always decorated a beautiful home, she plans a gorgeous gardens, she sets an amazing table.  She cooks beautifully and deliciously.  Her bread is still what I aspire to.

She taught a special needs, self-contained classroom for years, almost 40.  (Before everything was considered a syndrome.)  She expected...No...She DEMANDED their best.  She demanded that they perform past their disabilities.  There were no excuses.  They were NOT allowed to use their disabilities as an excuse to dodge out of anything.  They were expected to fight and use their abilities to show the world that they were the quality people she knew they were.

My Anna has always been a prolific letter writer.  She has a brilliant command of the English language.  She uses words like instruments to construct truly complex thoughts.  She uses words to their fullest capacity.  She loves them...and has passed that love affair with the words themselves to multiple generations.  My mother.  Myself.  My children.

My Anna is a beautiful musician.  She can make the music say things to your heart.  She showed me though her own passion that classical music could speak every language...and had the deepest of souls...  And the hymns....she always added depth to their music!  It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated how much musical orchestration she adds to their simple structures.

She does not sit by and allow life to happen.  She has always been involved and educated in politics.  She types with mind-numbing speed.  She joined the technological age with enthusiasm.  Unlike many of her peers, she embraced the internet for its information and its social opportunities.  She taught herself, she tutored her friends, she utilizes it for all its strengths...

Anna walked with gusto and power every night for years.  Even Hurricane Gloria wouldn't dare to stop her.  And even when it broke her arm, it certainly proved that it couldn't slow her down.

She has always taken it upon herself to make everyone the best they could be.  She expected, demanded, and encouraged everyone's best.  She has worked so hard for so long... 

I find myself hoping that now that she doesn't need to care for Papa that she will take a little bit of time to care for herself.  To smoothe out her own corners and needs. To maybe go back to writing, and books... To sit and talk to Jesus.