“Oh, Momma Look!” Never Ends Well

At least, it never ends well for me.

So, when we were at Home Depot of all places, and that come out of my daughter’s mouth, I knew I was really in trouble.

What had caught her attention? An eleven foot dragon. Yeah, she’s totally my kid.

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This one.

I have to admit, she has good taste. But it looked HUGE in Home Depot. I couldn’t imagine how big it would be on our suburban front lawn.

Of course, she reminds me that we have no other decorations. Which, she’s not wrong. I don’t suppose the three little pumpkin walkway lights really count. I love watching the kids dress up at Halloween, but I hate anything macabre. You can keep your ghosts, skeletons and dead brides, thank you very much!

But she’s now at the age where she really wants to decorate for the holidays. Unlike my husband and I who were known to go without even a Christmas tree before we had kids.

I told her I’d think about it, hoping she’d forget. Of course she didn’t forget, and she reminded me about it for the next two weeks.

So, we went back to get the eleven foot dragon. When we got to Home Depot, the thing was sold out. Even the floor model was gone. This was back at the end of September, and I was shocked. A quick search with my phone showed no other Home Depots with guaranteed stock in the area. But I could still get it online.

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Thank goodness!

So, I assuage my daughter’s crushing disappointment that she isn’t getting it that day with the fact that it will arrive in three to five days and we probably wouldn’t have had time to put it up that weekend anyway. She trudges back to the car, but at least I got her out of the store without a scene. There’s more than one reason why I do so much shopping online!.

The dragon arrived, my husband put it up for her, and she is now totally excited. So excited, in fact, that when she and her sister saw the dragon deflated the next morning on the way to school, they both were super insistent that I needed to “fix” the dragon.

Raising a pair of dragon lovers. Couldn’t be more proud!

 

Do you decorate for Halloween? If so, do you go all out, or were you like us with our three little pumpkins? Any of your neighbors go all out? What’s the best or worst display you’ve seen?

6 Things I Learned Making Christmas Dinner for Someone with Allergies

My sister has serious food allergies. Ones that a lot of people have to endure, such as peanuts and tree nuts, but also some really difficult ones like soy.

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Yes, soy. If you look at the ingredient list of most pre-packaged foods, you’ll find they contain soy. It’s apparently a great emulsifier, so it’s commonly used in processed foods as a stabilizer.

That means when she comes over for dinner, specifically Christmas dinner, you have to really think about what you serve, and I want everything on the table to be something she can eat. That means reading the ingredient list on anything I buy in a package. Don’t believe me, look at the ingredient list on your bread. Soy. Check your ice cream. Unless you bought Breyers vanilla, good chance there’s soy in it. Chocolate chips?  You guessed it, soy!

So, when we hosted Christmas dinner for the first time many years ago, I really struggled. And, frankly, dinner was bland and not very tasty.

I feel like this year I did a lot better. The food was tasty, and everything I made or bought was safe for her to eat.

Here are a few things I learned:

1.Less Is More – Food with fewer ingredients on the ingredient list tends to taste better as well as have few allergens. The bread I purchased had flour, salt and yeast. It tasted amazing!

2. Short Shelf Life Is Actually Good – Things with a short shelf life tend to taste better and be lower in potential allergens. You can combat the shorter shelf life with a refrigerator or freezer. I live in the frozen tundra. Come December, my entire backyard is a freezer. Not kidding. We actually put things in coolers outside to keep them from freezing solid as the cooler will insulate against the cold.

3. Keep it Simple – Much easier to make allergy friendly food when what you’re making is simple. We prepared a huge fruit and veggie tray (that got demolished, by the way), and everything was allergy friendly.

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4. You Have to Make Stuff – In your kitchen. Where you know there are no nuts or anything else lingering. Mashed potatoes weren’t hard. Gravy was a different story. And while my first attempt at making gravy wasn’t as good as the stuff out of the jar, it was just butter, flour, and turkey drippings with some chicken broth added. Give me a few more attempts, and it’ll be better than the jarred stuff.

5. Enjoy Life – I’m not getting paid to say this, and I think this company is amazing.  When I went through the battle of eczema with my daughter, this place was the only reason I could still have chocolate. Not sure I’d have made it without chocolate . . . It’s the only places we know of that makes chocolate chips my sister can eat.

6. Experiment – My mother-in-law has an amazing cheesy potato recipe she shared with me. But, one of the ingredients was a can of cream-of-mushroom soup. There are no cream of mushroom soups available for purchase in my area that don’t contain an allergen I need to avoid. After researching some other cheesy potato recipes, I substituted softened cream cheese for the can of soup. Recipe tastes great!  So good, in fact, when my mother-in-law tasted it, she wanted the recipe.

Overall, I like to think the food was good. I’m not a gourmet chef, and I really don’t even like to cook. But I wanted to make Christmas a time we could kick back, relax, and enjoy family without anyone having to stress about what they’re eating. I think we accomplished that.

 

How about you?  Any food allergies you’ve ever had to deal with? How did you do it? If not food allergies, any other sensitivities you’ve encountered? What did you do?

The "Talk"

This is my daughter’s first year in public school. As part of their curriculum, they learn about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well as Christmas. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised when my daughter came home and told me she wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I figured all the days of gifts would appeal to her, even though there is only one thing on her Christmas list. (One of the benefits of having Netflix and Amazon Prime rather than cable TV!)

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I explained to her that we aren’t Jewish, so we don’t celebrate Hanukkah. She’d have to wait for Christmas.

Then came the question. “What’s Jewish?”

I should’ve seen it coming, but I walked right into that trap.

I find myself trying to explain religion to a five-year-old, knowing she’s going to repeat everything back to her class and really not wanting a parent-teacher conference if it doesn’t come out of her mouth the same way it went into her ears.

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As I stumbled through, my husband came to my rescue and asked our daughter if she’d like to watch an episode of My Little Ponies before dinner. As she usually only gets TV after supper, she jumped at the chance and raced into the other room to watch Ponies.

He never said I owed him one, but I totally do. Just like he was the one that explained to her when our cat died. She wasn’t yet three, but he sat her down and explained that our kitty had gotten very sick and his body stopped working. He wouldn’t ever be coming home because he’d died.

There it was. Simple as that, and she accepted it. Sort of. She would repeat his words at what seemed like random times to me, but it helped her get through it. And she never asked to see him or for him to come home.

While he saved me on this conversation, my husband did remind me that we have daughters. There’d be another “talk” they’d need to get, and that was coming from me. Not sure that’s a fair trade…