Category Archives: childhood

Gluten Free Wish List

gluten free symbol

Yesterday I started talking about being gluten-free. I have a myriad of food allergies so finding out about one more just kind of rolled off my back. I’ve been taking allergy shots for over two years for a variety of foods, pollens, molds, and other irritants like dust and cat fur. However, with gluten, I have had to adjust my diet.

I posted that a chart I found said “small amounts may be tolerable”. I have often found that I am tempted by loopholes. No one has ever quantified “small”. For most the time I am good to myself. I have cut out breads almost entirely. I very seldom eat sweets like cakes, pies, or other baked goods. Those cuts have been extremely hard to accept but I’m getting better at it. Occasionally I will buy a loaf of gluten-free bread but the cost is so much higher that it is only an every-so-often purchase. I just don’t make sandwiches any more.

I have found rice pasta (spaghetti and penne) and Asian rice noodles but the thought of being able to dive into a plate of restaurant spaghetti and bread sticks really tempts me. I have also found individual size rice crust pizza. The last time I was in my local grocery store I discovered that they had discontinued carrying their Amy’s rice crust spinach and feta cheese pizza in favor of the organic wheat spinach pizza instead. I was really upset because that dish is scrumptious. I guess it is the changing neighborhood that is causing changes in what they carry.

The neighborhood surrounding the grocery store has been changing ethnically for some time now. The store’s supply of gluten free products is very limited and seems to be dwindling in response to the buying habits. The same chain has a store about seven miles from my house that carries more gluten free items but I prefer the convenience of shopping closer to home. I guess the clientele at my neighborhood store does not request gluten free items for several reasons. The other store is in a more health conscious and higher income area. 1) Many are probably not aware of sensitivity and celiac disease. It is estimated that 97% of celiac disease sufferers are undiagnosed. 2) Their ethnic diets are tied to other food products. 3) The cost of gluten free foods is higher than they can afford. Many of them have to buy what is cheapest rather than what is the healthiest for their families just to feed them.

People have started becoming more aware of the problems with gluten. Elizabeth Hasselbeck from The View is one of the more prominent celebrities who is speaking out about the problems associated with gluten after finally discovering what was causing her health concerns. She has authored the G-free Diet. 

Parents have stated that their child’s autism is improved when eating a gluten free diet. Jenny McCarthy, an advocate for her autistic child, is a spokesperson for connecting autism and gluten. So far, the medical studies that have been done have not found the connection even though parents can see the improvement.

“Like many other treatments, the autism diet isn’t scientifically proven to improve symptoms or help children recover from autism. So far, there’s only anecdotal evidence from parents of autistic children, which isn’t enough to establish whether the diet really works. The diet usually requires excluding gluten (a protein found in wheat) or casein (a protein found in milk)”. 

I have a dream list. I would love to see a petition with thousands of signatures requesting that the FDA would no longer consider gluten as generally regarded as safe. Although I am trying to cut down on pizzas, I’d like to see the major chains offer a gluten free crust. It would be great if the major bakeries offered at least one gluten free bread for sale thus lowering the cost. The same goes for restaurants that serve pasta. Just making one of their menu items gluten free to start would make it much simpler to choose when friends dine out together. I’d like to see Subway bring back its gluten free bread. I was so happy my son would be able to go to Subway when he visited home. By the time I was diagnosed, Subway had discontinued the bread. I’d appreciate other sandwich shoppes offering the same choice as well.

As more people become aware of gluten free diets, the greater the demand will be. It may be slow for businesses in the beginning but I have a feeling the popularity of gluten free products would grow if they advertised their desire to see a healthier clientele.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Jesus and the Season

Jesus Christmas

I wonder if the people who claim this thought are ones who never let their children talk to Santa Claus, put up lights, or decorate trees. The Puritans tried to abolish “Christmas” centuries ago. It didn’t work then and it looks like it won’t be any time soon that it will work now.

Even the Pope is saying Jesus was not born on December 25.

The observation of the Winter Solstice precedes the celebration of the Birth by centuries. Most people are aware of the Yuletide Pagan roots of the celebration which have been incorporated into the life of the church.

My memory of childhood in my church contains both celebration of the birth of Jesus and celebrations of the secular side of the month. Among my first recollections of early church life is being dressed in pajamas along with two or three other kids and racing onto the platform to get to Christmas Stockings. I remember hearing laughter…something that happened with such scarcity that it was worthy of a memory. It must have been before Kindergarten since I remember the joy of doing this and believing in Santa. It was in Kindergarten on the playground that the first graders mocked us for being babies because we still believed.

I have no problem with celebrating the birth of Jesus. I’ve gone to Christmas Eve services for years. While I have shied away from identifying myself as a card carrying Christian for the past many years, I do firmly believe in following the teachings of the Christ and celebrating the time He spent on Earth. When asked, I would frequently say, “I believe I am spiritual but I’m not religious.”

I do have problem with those who criticize others for incorporating centuries of tradition into their celebrations or refuse to accept that there are people other than Christians who have their own celebrations during this month.

I sometimes question myself about my growing intolerance of what I perceive that American Christians have become. I know it means there is something I must hold within my own thoughts that I can’t accept about myself. I’m working on it. I see people who are leading increasingly more compulsive lives based on what they are being “taught” by their leaders. I see lack of acceptance of the beliefs of others growing by the year. Everything I believe about what being a Christian means is being questioned and set aside by those who are using Christianity as a prop for their own agendas. Just looking at the mega churches with their mega contributions going into the mega salaries of their leaders should be enough of an eyeopener to see that there are perhaps more ulterior motives behind their behaviors. Telling people that Jesus is the ONLY reason for the season eliminates the joy felt by millions of others sharing this space and time.

More peace and understanding is achieved when we open ourselves to the celebrations of others than when we insist on the exclusivity of a few days in December. Joy and good tidings are spread when we share, not when we try to usurp a few days for only ourselves. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Shakespeare Didn’t Corner the Market on Tragedy

photo from Star Telegram

Shakespeare did not corner the market on tragedy.

The play that has been unfolding in the past month here in Fort Worth is worthy of a Shakespearian nod along with the best of his works.

Last month there was a two vehicle accident in the middle of the afternoon. The driver of a pickup veered into the path of an Escalade EXT. The teen age driver and one of his passengers was killed. Another passenger was seriously injured. The driver was drunk. He had left school at lunch time to purchase a 32 oz. bottle of malt liquor. He was seventeen. The dead girl and the injured one were both fifteen. I’m sure they were probably excited to be with “an older man” who was showing off his skills of being able to drink and drive at the same time. That was a fatal flaw in their thinking.

As if that were not enough of a tragedy, the event took another life yesterday. The teenager had a friend who tried to stop him from driving. The newspaper article does not go into more details of how the friend tried to stop the driver. In any event, the friend failed in his efforts and instead decided to follow the truck to make sure his friend and passengers arrived home safely. He witnessed the fatal accident and tried to help, but it was too late. The girl died at the scene. The driver died the next day.

The friend was left behind with a terrible sense of guilt  . He blamed himself for the death of his friend. He had failed to prevent the accident. His self-reproach was unimaginable.

The teen age years with their normal angst are hard enough to navigate. Adding to that the death of a friend, for which rightly or wrongly one takes on full responsibilty, is a load that few people can handle.

The friend succumbed to the pressure.

He died a few days ago from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to his head, leaving his mother and a younger brother to find him.

He also left behind another who claims he was the young man’s “best friend”.

The clerk who sold the boy the malt liquor was arrested in a sting. The mother is left with her grief. There was no gun in the house. She will always wonder how he was able to obtain it.

The boy had returned some borrowed clothing from his “best friend” and talked about what good friends they were…like brothers. The friend is now probably wondering why he didn’t pick up the signals that the boy was saying good bye.

The teen age years are difficult enough to get through without the addition of guns and alcohol. The DARE program presented by the police just isn’t enough. They try to teach the kids tools to help them through the gauntlet until adulthood is reached. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not.

Do I have the answers? Certainly not. I have felt blessed every day that my son made it through those years of drinking and driving in spite of me more than because of me.

Tragedies happen. If someone knows the answers to how to keep drivers from drinking, teen agers from obtaining guns, and friends from committing suicide because of the guilt, I hope s/he comes forward. We have been involved with these problems too long.

I’m certain Shakespeare with his command of language could even come up with a quote that would wake us up to the fact that what we are doing is not good enough. Enough is enough!

My knowledge of Shakespeare in extremely limited. The quote that kept running through my mind as I read the paper was this:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…

It is sad that the friend who tried to help decided “not to be” and all too sadly, “there’s the rub”.

Namaste  Attic Annie

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Fort Worth = Spring Break, Seriously?

When I first saw the blog from the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s  Bureau inviting people to Fort Worth for spring break, I laughed. Seriously? Really?

Don’t get me wrong. When my ex said we would be moving to Texas, I was devastated. All I knew about Texas was cowboys, pickup trucks, gun racks, dust, tumbleweeds, and dirt. Miles of dirt. Actually, I was almost half right. The phrase “Where the West Begins” is a reality when describing this town. Drive west only a few miles and that’s exactly what you have. Beyond Weatherford, trees get mighty scarce. The dust however, is constantly present. It sometimes arrives in storms.

We had one week to find a house. On our first day of driving around the city, it was comforting to experience the many gently rolling hills and the actual trees and grass and flowers. Lots of flowers around town. I fell in love with this place. Even after my ex left in the  ’80s, I made the conscious decision to stay here. I’ve been here since 1977 and I don’t really have any plans to relocate anywhere else.

When I hear the term “spring break” however, I think in terms of college kids. Beer. Sun. Motels booked for two and holding ten. Swim suits. Beaches. Numerous activities that pay homage to a variety of physical pleasures. That does not connect with the image of Fort Worth.

Take a look at what the FWCVB lists as great activities for spring break.

Spring Break

Looking for the perfect Spring Break destination?

With exciting events and activities, Fort Worth has everything to keep your entire herd happy.

Top 10 Things to Do and See this Spring Break

1.  See the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, and have an up-close encounter with a Texas longhorn. 
2. Enjoy a variety of art activities during Family Fun Week at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Admission is FREE.
3. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Cowtown Goes Green in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
4. Learn all about money and how its made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
 5. Experience Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body that uses high-tech, interactive exhibits to explain the good, the bad and the ugly about why our body works the way it does to keep us healthy.
 6. Get outside and explore the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge through hayrides, canoeing, hiking and more.
 7. Cheer on rodeo professionals as they compete in the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, home of the first indoor rodeo.
 8. Take some “you” time by enrolling your little one in the Fort Worth Zoo’s 2012 Spring Break Camp.
 9. View demonstrations of woodworking, blacksmithing, coopering, and more at Log Cabin Village.
 10. At Spring Break Wonders at the Modern, children can create their own works of art after recieving inspiration from docent-guided tours of the museum.

Once I stopped laughing at the idea of FW being a final destination for spring break for college kids, I realized that the FWCVB was not targeting them. The spring break they are advertising is for families. Now I’m not sure how many families are able to take a trip in March all together at one time, but they may be on to an untapped market.

All of the items listed above are actually fun places to visit. They eliminated Six Flags but that’s because it is not in Fort Worth. It’s actually in Arlington, fifteen miles to the east. Glen Rose, about fifty miles to the southwest, has a few days of attractions as well at the Dinosaur State Park and the Fossil Rim Nature Center where you stay in the car and the animals roam free.

I’ve been trying for years to get my nieces to bring their families down here but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. I think they view Texas the same way I did back in the 70s. They were here for a few days a very long time ago as children but I doubt they remember much of anything about it. I’m not a good salesperson.

Of course you would have to rent a car if you didn’t have friends or relatives with a spare one to borrow. Texas is still bent on building tollways rather than mass transit. Fort Worth is definitely in that catagory. Dallas is on its way, but FW is still stuck in the 50s only with limited bus transportation.

The more I think about it, the more I think Fort Worth, for adults or families, is a great destination point for spring break. The weather is still not too hot. You can skip the cowboy scene after one day when you realize there’s more to FW than cowboys. A lot more. Just don’t bother to bring a bikini.


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We Make the Angel Tree Project Successful!

I have participated in our church’s Angel Tree Project for the past five years. I’ve gone from buying presents for my particular angel to wrapping presents to working at the table where the parents hand us their numbers so we can bring out their gifts.

Over the years, the situation has become ever more streamlined. The parents were in and out in five minutes or less yesterday. A waiting area is set up with coffee and cookies if a whole bunch come at the same time. Everything is run like a machine. One family comes into our room at a time. The parent hands us the number they receive at the first table, we double check at our table (my job), we call out the number and “runners” walk behind the screen to where the packages are all bagged and numbered in order. They bring the presents out from behind the screen, the parents pick them up and go out the back door.  1 – 2 -3.

It is all over in three hours. Any clients who are unable to come to the church on Saturday can pick up their presents at the agency with whom the church partners for this project. It is one church and one agency. It is manageable and much more personable.

Some of the parents have to bring their children because there is no one to care for them. The younger children don’t really understand what is going on. The older children get a sneak preview of what “Santa” will be bringing a week from now. There’s no way that bicycles can be hidden. The smiles are from ear to ear.

More than one parent broke down crying when they received the presents. These are people who have no way of buying anything for their children. Someone in the family, father or mother, and sometimes father and mother, are chronically and in many cases, seriously, ill. They are in survival mode. There’s no money for extras. One young woman hugged each one of us to show her gratitude. She was so relieved her child would have something under the tree.

Our team leader makes certain that every child has something. Every year all the angels have been taken from the tree. This year there were ten left hanging. I started last year to donate money instead of taking one angel to insure that everyone gets what they wished for. Several others have taken to doing the same thing. The leader and the co-chair see to it that they personally shop for all those who were not chosen. If all angels are chosen, she shops for those who don’t get much to give them a little more. She is determined this project will be a success for all the children.

It was not a surprise that there were angels left on the tree. Our church has been experiencing a loss of members. Couple that with the economic situation, not every member of the congregation can afford to participate as in years past.

Our leader tells us there are families in our congregation that for them, this is their Christmas. Instead of exchanging presents among the family members, they contribute to the children in this program. Now THAT is the Christmas Spirit.

The children who accompany their parents never complain about the size of the bundle for them. There’s no whining, no temper tantrums, no, “Is that ALL”?  My Christmas is very small now that I do not live anywhere near relatives and my son is half a world away. In many ways, the three hours at church on a Saturday morning being a part of such a team IS my Christmas. I leave at the end feeling a warmth that I consider my true present. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Why doesn’t Santa stay in stores year round?

I try to start my day with positive uplifting information. Today was not one of those days. I read in our local paper about Santa arriving in Hurst this weekend.

Really?

When I was really young all we had was a parade when Santa came to town. He then sat on his “throne” in the department store and we stood in line to see him. I remember gazing at the wonderful window displays downtown. My Christmas in Illinois was not unlike Ralphie’s Christmas in Indiana.  A few years later when I was in third or fourth grade I could watch THE Parade on Thanksgiving Day on television. By that time I was no longer taken to the parade but it was still a thrill to see Santa arrive at the end in his big sleigh.  Thanksgiving Day ( or a day close to it) meant the start of Christmas to the children.

Now stores are putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween and sometimes immediately after the Back to Schools sale. And Santa is arriving earlier than ever. November 5? Really? The stores say “they are starting early because there is a demand.” Really? It’s not from mothers who are hassled and harassed every day by young children who demand to know how much longer. It’s not from fathers who traditionally wait until the last day to shop any way. Who is actually causing the demand?

This event is taking place at Bass Pro Shop,  which features “fishing tackle and equipment, hunting, camping, marine, and outdoors supplies, plus clothing”. Firefighters are going to pick him up at the “remote sleigh parking area” and drive him to the food court. I’m curious as to who is picking up the tab for this ride.

The shop has a Santa’s Wonderland on display with a crafts section and a train display. The columnist who wrote the news article called it “Occupy Stores event.”

I have accepted the fact that Christmas and commercialism go hand in hand. After all, Macy’s first parade in New York was way before my birth. It was done to draw people to the Macy’s store instead of Gimbel’s. I guess maybe it was in answer to Gimbel’s parade in Philadelphia. I don’t know. Maybe I have that backwards.

That’s not the point. Actually, today I am not certain as to what my point is. Other than Americans have allowed their children to be persuaded and manipulated by mass media and mass commerce from the time of their birth. Little girls no longer are allowed to be little girls. They are bombarded by clothing and behaviors that were once reserved for mid teens. Babies before they can walk are entered into beauty contests. By the time they are three, they are sexual objects.  They all want to be like teenagers even when they are as young as kindergarteners. The milk they drink is laced with hormones that start their puberty by second and third grade. Little boys? They have their pressures too.

What does that  have to do with Christmas? Santa to me is the spirit of giving. Christmas is a time of wonder for little imaginations. We have turned it into a season of me me me. Parents go into debt trying to satisfy the greed they nourish in their children that so often starts with early Christmas.

Almost two months is an awfully long time for children to have to wait. Seven weeks is an eternity. If Santa comes the first weekend in November, by Christmas all the joyous feelings will long be gone. Attention spans are just not that long. Anticipation will be replaced by apathy. Either that or the stress caused by the unending anticipation will cause their little bodies more harm.

My argument has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus which is well known to not have occurred on December 25. So responders, if any, do not have to go into the real “reason for the season”.

It has to do with the insatiable desire to hook customers at a younger and younger age. It has to do with robbing children of their childhood. It has to do with stores like Bass Pro Shops baiting children to try to get their fathers to shop early. OK that’s sexist I know but look at what they sell.

America has gone crazy with Christmas. I think it’s time to restore the sanity. I’d love to hear that this event was a big bust. Not that I have anything against the store. My beef is with stores like them who are like the Grinch who stole Christmas! Let’s keep the Christmas season at least confined to the month before the actual date. That’s long enough for any child to have to wait. Otherwise, let’s just keep Santa in stores year round and he can become an ignored fixture that kids pass by without paying any attention. We can then admit that there is no longer a “season” for joy and GIVING!

 

 

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SC and Video “Games” Shame on You!

OK. I have a burning question. How much longer before the venerable Supreme Court in our land strikes down the laws banning the sale of alcohol and tobacco to our underage children?

It seems that there is no reason to have these laws on the books any more. They only poison the lungs and the livers of their users. It is obvious we have no care about the poisoning of the  minds of our young anymore so why care about the bodies?

I’m very concerned about the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on striking down the California  ban on violent video games being sold to children.

The ban was lifted under the guise of “Free Speech” .

According to one definition from Wikipedia

“Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to indicate not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on “hate speech“.”

I contend that delaying the time that a child can be exposed to such horrendous violence is not censorship of free speech. It’s the promotion of common sense.

As much as I dislike some of the things being said today, I support the right of anyone to say anything at anytime without being censored. I don’t have to listen. I can walk away or change channels. But I am an adult. I am not an impressionable child. Children must be protected until old enough to think for themselves.

I was in college in the 1960s when I first was introduced to the topic of children and violence. At that time it was noted that children (preschoolers) who watched cartoons portraying violence were themselves more violent when allowed to play with the boxing clown toy.

We are so far beyond the violence of the Road Runner and the Coyote anymore. We are at the point where the children can control the violence being perpetrated on their victims. How much longer before the video gamers introduce snuff actions into their games like the underground snuff films being sold?  The kids aren’t allowed into theaters but the games are allowed to be brought right into their homes!

The military uses violent simulation games in preparing their soldiers to become killers. They call that “training”. My question: What are we training our children to do when they play the same types of games and worse in the guise of “entertainment”?

We can have the support of the law to help keep alcohol and tobacco out of teenager’s hands but we can’t have their support to keep violence out of their minds.  SHAME on you, SC! The video gaming industry is making more and more “games” intentionally targeted for children yet you ignore that and let their money from their aggressive, influential lobbyists influence your decisions.

One argument is that it is up to the lazy parents to get up off their butts and monitor their children. With parents needing to be out of the house working to support the children, there are too many hours when they can’t be there. There are times when the older children play these games right in front of younger brothers and sisters. All while the parent cannot be in the home.

There is the argument that children can’t buy these games without their parents providing transportation for them to the store. Evidently those arguers have never heard of malls  where dozens of stores await the money of their children. They’ve never seen the children on public transportation.

Yes, parents buy children the equipment for playing the games. That does not mean they intend to expose their children to such violence as found in these games. Teenagers have many ways to earn their own money for such things. They swap games back and forth among friends. One parent may prohibit such games but that doesn’t stop the child from playing it at a friend’s house.

One Supreme Court justice defended peddling violence to kids by stating that there has always been violence in the lives of children. He then cited the Grimm Brother’s story of Snow White. Come on, now! He sees no difference between Snow White and modern day video games? To me that’s like comparing vinegar to hydrochloric acid. Both can do damage but the hydrochloric acid does it much more rapidly!

To me this law reversal is one more in the path the Supreme Court is following. I strongly feel they are allowing the huge corporations to control their decisions. These are dangerous times. I cry for the children and all the others whose rights are being ignored in the interest of big money!

Namaste. Attic Annie

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