Monday, June 20, 2011

How the Flug Pooh did we make it to 31 years?

June 14, 1980….
We were clueless as to what was coming down the pike on that blissful day, June 14, 1980.
Fourteen years later, it got all tangled up.  We hit the knot of a special needs child-we'd hit the flung pooh years.  I wondered if we'd become a statistic, you know, one of the four out of five marriages with special children that ends in divorce.  We'd agreed that divorce was not in our marital vocabulary (I'm sure everyone agrees to that early on).  However, we never dreamed we'd have this very difficult mountain accent in our marital journey.  We thought, happily ever after, but "happily" we have found, is hard fought for.  Still, it was forever, for us…so 'slowly-by-slowly' (as my Ugandan friend Jaja would say), we fung shui'ed our flung pooh marriage (which wasn't really flung pooh'ed, necessarily, just high centered on autism).

The early years….

The latter middle years….(oh how I wish my belly still looked like that!)

The middle years….

A few years ago…and counting...

we had seven hours of giddy freedom, nonfat lattes setting in the cup holders, backpacks and snacks loaded, we bombed down interstate five in "Ol' Silver, my Monero.  We were on our way to the Shasta Wilderness area to hike and picnic for our anniversary.  Zach was comfortable, at home, and in the capable hands of his reliable caregivers.  

With this blog in mind, I asked Web why he thought we'd made it thus far in our marriage.  We came up with wit (very important), grit, vision for the future and love that grows into the strong vine of commitment, with a little hill of hope and a molehill of maturity (the mountain I believe, is a desire to please God and the heart and head to know what that is).  We are committed to each other as best buddies, patriarch and matriarch of this family that we have helped to create, to stand beside the other through this tough go, so that the proverbial dream (Lord willing) of, "two rockers on the front porch, glass of lemonade and grandchild on the knee" becomes a reality. 

Sometimes, I'm sure we both want to run away, I have my days for sure, but thus far we haven't, for long anyway (a drive, a hike, or a bike ride and we're back at it).  We cry together, talk openly about our feelings and encourage each other to look on the positive side when we feel we can't go on, I mean, five all-nighters in a row is killer…but somehow, we keep going because, opting out, we feel, would be an assault against our mutual trust and love.  Everyone looses.  We would become one of the four out of five marriages in families with special needs that slide into the ditch…and besides, we’ve always liked bucking the odds.  Bottom line-we really like each other…and thinking back, no one said the words easy, but I sure thought it.

Anyway, back to our anniversary road trip…we bought ready made sandwiches from our local health food store, grabbed some kefir water, some fruit, chocolate bars and a bag of chips.  We jacked our jaws like a couple of old women.   The weather was in the 80’s for the first time this year, the moon roof on the car was open wide, the soundtrack to, The Horse Whisperer hummed us down the long winding country roads; on either side, pastures dotted with cattle and horses (the aroma of freshly mown hay...livestock manure…seriously, I could get high on country).

When we arrived at the Shasta Lavender Farms ( we found that the lavender hadn't bloomed yet, ding-dong, we couldn't pick a bushel like we'd hoped, but we enjoyed our cup of lavender lemonade and a visit with the manager whom we found, also has four children, two with special needs.  Dear lord, there is always someone with a harder go.

The warm car, this nice quiet space with nothing pressing…we couldn't make a decision to save our lives.  Shasta was just so far away and the roads to get there…so off roads vehicle'ly.  We ate our sarnies on a concrete picnic table near Lake Shastina (we arrived at this rather stark picnic area via paved roads), packed up and came home, tucked Zach into bed, ate strawberry shortcake on the couch and watched a fun movie (Bottle Shock); laughed our heads off and went to bed satisfied with the life we've made of flung pooh (we decided, home is the best because that is where Zach is).  It was a good day, as many are.

Contentment is learned, I'm still being educated.  I had to open my eyes wide and take in the beauty of simple everyday things rather than closing them and wishing for things that could never be (I believe in biblical terms, this "wishing" is called "lusting", but lusting isn't as pretty a word as wishing).  Enjoy a few hours away from the pressing, an evening drive, or reading a Winnie The Pooh book to my nineteen-year-old, while I sip something delicious from a favorite mug.  White sheets drying on the line, or moving slowly with the sun as it sets, the soundtrack from Out Of Africa sparkles in the background.  My wide open eyes widen even further when I see Zach slip, what looks like the spine to one of my antique books under the crack in the door, it is in fact just that, he ripped another one :-/ and not only that, but found a good use for it he thinks (back and forth, under the door it slides).  This letting-go, this slowing down, it is healing for me, stress relieving, because in my world and most likely your's too, I live in the midst of feng shuied chaos.  Some days, the ability to breathe through, smile and look for the good, means the difference between withering, or blooming.  Let's face it, sometimes the good is hard pressed to find, but press in and you will find.

Simple Home, it certainly is where Zach prefers to be nowadays and because he is a treasure to us, we prefer to be here with him, most of the time.  It wasn't always that way.  A long time ago, we decided that if this was where we were going to hang, or be stuck, however we're looking at it that particular day, we'd make it as pleasant as possible; and we have.  A semblance of order, candles (I have a deep need for flickering) and soothing music (Zach seems to like my soundtracks), a big library (one can never have too many books, or soundtracks), a growing dvd collection to choose from, but our favorite thing is to take in our view, when time allows us to take a peek, we thank God for placing us high on a hill with a little space to breathe.  Home is, well, it's cozy-home and the landscaper/handyman (Web) is kind and really nice to look at :-) and I like the cook to (me).

Three pink recipes I came up with, which helped me work my way out of a gray day.

Lavender Lemonade
Fill pitcher half full with ice cubes
Pour 1 can organic frozen lemonade into pitcher, and make according to the directions except leave out one can of water, or you can squeeze your own and sweeten with organic maple syrup.
Steep 1 1/2 tablespoons of culinary lavender in 1/2 cup boiling water for 4 minutes, strain (push lavender buds into the strainer with the back of the spoon to get all of that good lavender flavor out, and add to your prepared lemonade.

Pink Rosemary Pate (gf)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb organic chicken liver
Salt to taste (chicken liver can take the salt)

Sprinkle organic olive oil into a 9x13 glass baking dish, add 1 pound of organic chicken livers, salt well with kosher salt, or sea salt and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let cool.

2, or 3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 medium beet
2 large mushrooms (I used small portobello, enough to make 1/2 cup sliced)

On the stove top in a dutch oven, place 2, or 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 1 small diced onion, clippings of 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (snip soft green tips with kitchen shears), 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms and one medium beet diced into 1/2 inch cubes.  Cover and steep till tender, about 25 minutes.  Let cool slightly before adding to the blender with the cooked chicken livers, blend with 1/4 cup of melted organic butter till smooth.  Serve with rosemary parmesan flat bread, or rye crisp.  Simi sweet, savory spread.

Rhubarb Strawberry pie (not gluten free, but could easily be by substituting a gf flour of choice to your pastry recipe.  Zach doesn't eat pie (but doesn't have to be 100% gluten free) so we can make ours with wheat flour)  This recipe is from my mother's old Meta Givens Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.  Published in 1947.  Not a lot of gluten, or dairy free recipes back then.

1 1/2 lb.  rhubarb (from 3 1/2 to 4 cups cut)
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup butter cut into pats for placing on top of the fruit before adding top crust (My mother's addition)
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pastry for 9-inch double crust pie
1 tablespoon butter

Wash rhubarb thoroughly, trim off leaf and stem ends and discard.  Cut stems into 3/4-inch length.  Combine sugar, tapioca (may also use 1/4 cup flour, or substitute corn starch for tapioca if you prefer) and salt, add the rhubarb and mix thoroughly.  Fit pastry into pie pan.  Turn rhubarb mixture into pastry-lined pan.  Roll out pastry for upper crust and cut a design for steam vents.  Brush edge of lower crust with cold water just before laying on top crust.  Lay upper crust over pie and press edges together to seal; trim off excess dough.  Let rest 10 minutes and flute rim as desired (my mom had a three finger flute that she taught me, but I've found that every baker does it differently).  Bake in hot oven (450 degrees F.) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F.  (moderately slow) and bake for 30 minutes longer, or until rhubarb is done. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

Coming soon; Supplements and natural remedies for the autistic that have worked for sleep, clarity and calming and allergy friendly cookies that hold together and taste great.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Friday Night Pizza for all we Feng Shui'ers

Mamas, sisters and daughters are huge in my world.
Mama and I
Yesterday I was setting in my office, Zach had respite care (sigh), my beautiful blond Rachel sat cross legged on the tile floor stamping T’s and R’s onto her, now finished, recycled paper wedding invitations (very cool).  We are preparing for a beautiful high mountain wedding in August.  It is going to be amazingly beautiful!  Hannah, my eldest daughter, lives in Virginia (with my four grand babies I might add); she was in attendance as she and I dialogued on the voice memo app, Heytell.  Our conversation beeped in and out; familiar subjects that bring up my own warm "mama memories".  Mama and I wiled away many an hour on the end of a wall-mounted phone discussing recipes, gardening, family and engaged ourselves in long deep philosophical/religious discussions.

My daughters and I, blissful hours conversing about recipes, family, faith and what the princess fairies and little prince are doing, “What are you having for dinner?” (which spurred the birth of this post), the wedding (we’re all over this wedding) and “send me a link to your dress-and what do your shoes look like?  I found this great lipstick at Sephora.”

I love love love these current years with my daughters; marriage and weddings, mothering, food (my favorite) and all things feminine that bond woman to woman; they have been a dynamic support and an amazing help to me these past seventeen years of caring for Zach.

I hope you and yours benefit from the fruit of our family, from our support, love and enjoyment of each other and our endeavor to employ the simple supper (what my daddy calls the evening meal) like we used to do “in the old days” the family sup, where you sit, engage in conversation and grow relationship.

You may buy gluten free pizza crusts in your health food section, they are delicious and time is of the essence in our world.  I need to try some different recipes for making my own.  I am not impressed with the recipes for gluten free pizza crusts I have found on-line.  You may also buy Namaste Pizza crust mix (I only recommend this because all other Namaste products have been superior to others I've tried), OR make it from scratch using Namaste's Perfect Blend flour (the best gf flour for flavor and texture I have found).  I used pre made, Vicolo, spelt cornmeal pizza crusts; organic and non-gmo, but not gluten free, awfully yummy though!
Cook bacon till crisp and crumble into pieces (I cooked mine in the microwave :-/, big no-no if you are a health food nut, and though I am [mostly], I really dislike standing over a red-hot frying pan, as the bubbling contents splatter me in the face).  Enter microwave, a 9x13 glass baking dish lined with a pad of two, or three folded paper towels (recycled of course), slap down the bacon, then cover with more paper towels.  Electrify till your crispness is content.

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer soy free Veganaise)
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard, mix together and spread onto pizza crust
sprinkle a generous layer of bacon over sauce.
Cover in *daiya (dairy free cheese; the best dairy free I have found.  It melts and tastes great, good for mac-n-cheese too!) mozzarella, or cheddar-jack blend.  You can find it in your health food store, or ask your local grocer to carry it for you.
Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is golden and crisp.

While pizza is cooking, set a simple table, wild flowers in a mason jar, a real wax candle; paper plates work on Friday night right?  Dice garden fresh organic tomatoes and lettuce, pile onto cooked pizza slide it onto that table and wrap your lips around it immediately…OH yum-yum!  Tastes just like a BLT with cheese!

Simple refreshing drink-fill a pitcher with ice cubes
Brew 4 bags of black tea (pg tips is wonderful) in 2 cups of water just off the boil in a glass measuring cup for 4 minutes.
Pull bags and add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of organic maple syrup stir well.
Pour 32 oz of R.W. Knudsen's boysenberry juice (no sugar added) into pitcher, add tea and stir well.  This is my favorite summer drink!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our Morning Walk

My husband Web and I (married 31 years)
I am known as Marmie Karen.  I am fifty-three, healthy and in love with life and relationship.  This is the first of, I hope, many posts on how I have navigated life with my son Zach, who, at age four became autistic; he is the youngest of my four children.

My aim is to be vulnerable and honest, to encourage and fan the fires of hope and joy inside of other mamas on a similar journey.
I have been walking down the road of autism for almost seventeen years.  I pray my failures and triumphs might offer someone the courage to lift a head look forward; to have fun and feel the light in what many of us find to be a cold dark, harder than hard valley of the shadow of death.

People who come into our home (where we have lived for the past 25 years), family, friends and caregivers, say it is one of the most peaceful places they've ever been to.  I find this almost comical knowing what I know about our life, you know, the flug pooh and all, but...I feel it too…now anyway, at first I begged God to send His peace because, as all who live with autism know, it is anything but peaceful; couple that with endless seizures....  All I can say is that God answered my hollering prayer and quietly sent us a part of Himself in a fuzzy blanket of peace.

Zachie Angel (2 years ago)
A little about my Zach Angel; he is 19 (will be 20 in July) he requires care and watching all day, all night; he has interactive seizures (mostly grand mal, about one a week although this week, he has had four) and can no longer use the toilet.  He needs help in every arena of life.  Showering, shaving, dressing, changing diapers, preparation of foods, basically, every aspect of daily living and can never be left alone.  He rarely sleeps through the night and does not like to travel (bummer!).  He loves Winnie The Pooh and Tigger; his books, Grandma and Me, The Tortoise and The Hare, Arthur's Teacher Trouble and pictures of family.  He likes to play Millie's Math House on his computer and watch his three favorite movies, Homeward Bound, Winnie The Pooh and the Blustery Day and The Fox and The Hound.  He is not aggressive, but when he is in a "mood", he will bang his own head with his hand, or hit the wall, bite his clothing, make loud sounds, or scream and pound the floor; these outbursts, or melt downs are short lived (never fun, but apparently necessary for Zach); we acknowledge that we can see he is unhappy (we try NOT to say "wow, you are Oscar the Grouchy" very often anyway) and get a feel for whether he wants us to help him get "unstuck" or if he would prefer we leave the vicinity till he calms down, it's a toss up, half we talk tenderly and help him move on, and half we get out of his bubble.  His care used to fall primarily on my shoulders, but for the past eighteen months we, my husband and I, have had some respite care provided by Creative Supports here in the beautiful Rogue Valley.   Ahhhhh…..deep breath, deeeeeep breath...

Practically, I have found supplements that help Zach (I will share more on those in an upcoming blog), developed gluten free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free recipes for him that taste good and don't crumble into sawdust (coming later), started him on several diets, the ketogenic diet did not help Zach; the gluten free/dairy free diet has helped with his moods.  We cut out all pesticides and chemically treated foods.  This has also helped with seizures and moods.  We try to shop local and only serve Zach organic,  grass fed meats, raw foods and give him filtered water to drink.

A typical plate for Zach.
We have found healthy choices to be key!
Organic green beans, fresh pear, raw pecans,
raw olives and organic chicken livers
 (he loves these foods and can feed himself
so long as everything is cut into bite sized pieces).

Something soothing to start this blog:  Today, when Zach and I went for our morning walk down the trail (a half mile loop built on our property by volunteers) we saw new born twin fawns :-), a few days before we saw peanut sized wild turkeys.  It is green, wild flowers are popping.  These are just a few of the things I lift my head from the endless chores to see.  Zach doesn't seem to notice the wildlife; no matter, we assume he does even if he won't stop his Forrest Gump flying and take a gander.

Baby fawn #1 and below #2.  What shall we call these beauties?

Fawn pile!

 I'm in love with lavender, if I were nine, I'd marry a bunch.  Take a whiff, ahhhhh, energizing and soothing.
Zach on his morning walk, with Pooh and Tigger ball (his favorite thing)

So, today I share nature, get out in it if you can, push a stroller, a wheelchair, grab a hand (swing it) and walk; smile, the simplicity of it can lift you out of the loud grinding demands of autism.

Coming soon, Yummy recipes and supplements that help!