Monthly Archives: November 2012
Our family eats out about once every two weeks. We have a slim selection that is gluten-free, stuff everyone will eat, and isn’t too pricey. I got an ad in the mail for a nearby place — Genghis Grill, a Mongolian-style barbecue. The food looked good, so I went on the website.
It was hard to find, but I eventually stumbled on a PDF that, among other things, lists the ingredients for all of their sauces. Three of them (Sweet & Sour; Dragon — which is a sweet & spicy chili-garlic sauce; and Roasted Tomato) are listed as “gluten-friendly” — meaning they have no gluten ingredients. I thought, “Great. But what about the meats? And the veggies?” so I contacted the company.
They called me this morning — a GREAT customer service rep named Jax — turns out she is the Director of Culinary R&D — and she said that the ONLY meat that has gluten is the “Khans Krab” (it’s imitation made from fish and wheat starch — no surprise there). None of their meats, marinades, veggies, etc., have gluten. They don’t use soy sauce (which almost always contains wheat) in any of their marinades, though it is present in their fried rice and in their gluten-containing sauces. She also said that if you let them know that it’s for a “food allergy”, they will clean the grill AND use a clean wok AND even cover your food while it’s cooking with a bowl to limit cross-contamination. In addition, all of their spices are “clean” — 100% spice, no fillers like maltodextrin or starches. Jax said that they take food issues seriously. I really appreciate that. They are very aware of the potential of cross-contamination, so they don’t make the claim of 100% gluten-free, but I REALLY appreciate the efforts they’re making, and you can be sure we’ll be eating there some time in the near future.
So, you could use white or brown rice, ANY protein (minus the “crab”), ANY vegetable, and one of three gluten-friendly sauces. In the limited world of g.f. eating, that’s actually quite a selection.
Additionally, unless I’m missing something, all of the sauces that are gluten-free are also dairy-free.
I think all of this will compel me to ignore the “cutesy” spellings using “Khan” throughout their website and menu.
Do any readers have experience with Genghis Grill?
I keep waiting for life to return to normal.
I used to think that “a rut” was the worst thing that could happen to one’s life.
I now have turned 180° — or at least 160° or so — and have discovered that there is a reason it is called “Domestic Bliss.” That is because when home life is wonderful, it REALLY IS wonderful. Philosophers can devise witty sayings about how boring healthy families are, but when it comes down to it, if you have one, it really is lovely.
This past spring and summer was perhaps my most wonderful ever in my 39 years. Well, I was 38, back then. Everything was just right. Parenting was going great. I thought my husband was fabulous. I had the garden of my dreams. I had enough “spare” time to sneak in novel about once every 2-3 weeks, which, in my experience and for my personality is just right; more reading than that means I’m not getting enough done in my home and family; less reading than that means I’m stretched too thinly and stressed out. We had just sold our house for more than we thought possible and had found the exact right place — right size house, right size lot, right location — for an amazing price. I had lost about 20 pounds and was feeling great, and down to the same size I was before I had my first child, 15 years prior. Other family relationships and friendships were sailing along at a beautiful clip. Friends even purchased tickets for our family’s first-ever Disneyland trip. Can you get much better than that?
I don’t think I’m a pessimist — truly — but I am enough of a realist to realize, even in the midst of all this amazingness, that it would probably not last forever. It was one of those seasons where my prayer was, “God, please don’t let me forget this lovely season, especially if You’re gearing me up for hard times.”
And hard times have, indeed, come. But, not exactly in the way that I had envisioned.
The good news is that I still think my husband is fabulous. I have, in fact, grown in love and appreciation for him in the last couple of months.
By early October, my mother was sick, in the hospital, and appeared near death.
We were also in the throes of a remodel — a MAJOR remodel of about 40% of our “new” home — which I envisioned would take us about five weeks.
We also had a serious issue surface with one of our children… Really serious, the sort of thing where it is just a deep, hard ache in a mother’s heart.
Then our dog got sick, a resurgence of Valley Fever.
Then my computer broke (I’m typing on my husband’s laptop), on which my children do about 1/3 of their schooling.
And… other things compounded my various challenges — like a dear friend (whose two sons are the best friends of two of my sons) moving out of state. And a few other dear, long-time friends feeling led by God to become involved in various other ministries — leading them OUT of “my” church. This put a hole in my heart, as well as made things logistically difficult, as I am now the lone worship leader for the 6-12 year-olds at church; no one with whom to share that responsibility…
AND THEN, I found out I was pregnant with our sixth child. And while that has been a huge joy — theoretically — I feel like crap, 24/7, and that just makes everything… extra-challenging.
And my mother did die, on October 18th. That was hard. It still is, especially when my four-year-old, Fiala, pipes up at lunch, scowl ensconced firmly on her face, “I don’t want Grandma to live with Jesus any more. I want her to be here.”
We are still remodeling, nearing our 11th week of that massive project. The good news is that I have a working kitchen. I still don’t have a back splash, there is still some touch-up to do, I still don’t have a working sink in our powder room, and the legs of our built-in breakfast table (envision a bar, only larger and more rectangular) still need to be trimmed and stained. AND, as I was dreaming — again — of the massive yard sale I’d have to enable the purchase of new furniture, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my Furniture Money would probably have to become Pay the Midwife Money. Maybe that’s stupid, but it was one of those reality checks that made me groan, “Aw, man…”
My child with the “issue” is now in counseling, and though we’ve just begun, I think that will be really helpful. Sometimes, it helps a child to hear truth from a different, non-parent source. My husband and I are fighting — and winning, I think — not to feel like Giant Failures in Parenting. Still, it’s been a blow to my confidence as a mother to have to call in the experts…
Our dog is still ill, but at least she hasn’t died. The vet said that he rarely sees dogs with her blood titer level, because, “Usually a dog doesn’t get to that level; they die before then.” But, she’s on antifungals. Sweet pup. We’re not out of the woods, and it was hard to admit to my husband that I didn’t ask the vet to call in a three months’ supply of meds, which we could have done, and which is less expensive than buying it month-to-month, because I’m still not sure she’ll make it three months… We’ll see.
My computer is still broken, which is making me feel like a bad homeschooling mom, because my kids haven’t done math nor typed anything in about a month. Grant and Wesley also read from the encyclopedia on my computer…
The Sunday before I had the spate of friends become displaced from my life, in early August, the presence of God fell on me very powerfully during worship, and I felt God calling me to serve Him, and Him alone, for His sake — not for what I get out of my relationship with Him or out of my Christianity; not simply because I was following my pastor (though I have a wonderful pastor — two of them, actually — absolutely amazing men of God who are excellent teachers and amazing leaders…) I just felt Him calling me to Himself, no matter who does what, and when, nor what goes on around me.
I have really been clinging to that, and thankful to Him for preparing me.
I’m 11 weeks pregnant, and I still need to actually TALK WITH and MEET WITH my midwife, rather than exchanging phone messages. I don’t know why, but I think I’m kind of dragging my feet about that. It’s just one more thing that will go on the plate… Know what I mean?
I hope this doesn’t sound like a bunch of complaining.
And I keep reminding myself how LOADS of people — billions of them — have it worse than I do. In many ways, things really aren’t bad at all! They’re just challenging, and I don’t enjoy being challenged. I really don’t.
So! That’s where I’m at.
Thanks for reading. I wish I had something clever with which to tidily wrap up this post, but my stomach hurts too much to think of what that might be. I think I’ll go make myself a piece of toast.
“Jean Marie,” read the very short text from my husband.
I was at a red light when I read it, out doing errands with my 13 year-old son, Grant. It was five days after my mother had passed. Her name was Jean Elaine.
“Wha…???” was my response, aloud.
I called my husband. “Are you saying that if we have another baby, you want to name her after my mother? You know I hate the name Marie.”
Our youngest turned four in October. I will turn 40 in June of next year. I’ve wanted “just one more” for a couple of years now… It just never felt like our family was complete. I wanted one more shot at having a home birth. I wanted one more baby to nurse. I just… wanted another baby.
My husband? Not so much. I would bring it up about once every six months — enough to let him know it was still on my heart, but not enough so that it was nagging. It’s not a good idea to nag one’s husband into having a baby, I figured. We needed to be in it TOGETHER, wholeheartedly.
“It’s already too noisy in here,” he would say.
“WHAT??” was my kind response. “You’re vetoing the life of a child based upon the noise factor??”
“Yes,” he replied with finality. “And I’m not ashamed to admit it. One more baby would send me over the edge, noise-wise.”
I couldn’t help but persist, “But a baby doesn’t make much noise. A three year-old makes a lot of noise.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “But that baby grows up to be a three year-old.”
“But by that time, Ethan [our oldest, who is 15] will likely be out of the house.”
“That doesn’t count,” he replied, “Ethan hardly makes any noise at all.”
I had to admit he was right about that.
So, when the thought would surface, as it often did, I would just submit the whole thing to God, to His plan, to His timing… I spent much time wondering if that was just the way He made my heart: That I would always long for another baby, and that I was to funnel that into encouraging and equipping other mothers in their efforts to birth naturally. And, it hasn’t escaped my notice that I could be a grandmother before the decade is out. Maybe He was preparing my heart for that.
About a week prior to that text, I was at my mother’s bedside, praying. She had been in the hospital for nearly three weeks. She had had a series of strokes, plus the doctors had discovered a large, vegetative growth on one of the valves of her heart, which was likely sending off bits of itself around her body, resulting in the strokes, as well as threatening the viability of her heart. She had been in poor health before those incidents: complications from Marfan Syndrome, two extensive back surgeries, a nerve problem similar to multiple sclerosis (CIDP), a half-paralyzed diaphragm that caused one lung to continually fill with fluid… And on top of THAT, she had aspirated a bunch of fluid and now her good lung was full and not functioning well.
It was a hard time. During the first two weeks, I was at the hospital nearly every day. The last week, I was there almost 24/7. She needed someone continually at her side, and as good as the care in the hospital was, they just couldn’t provide that. My stepdad took many days off from work — he works part time as a school music teacher — and is not in great physical health himself. My sister works a “part time” job that is just a few hours shy of full-time, plus has a two-year-old daughter. My older brother flew in from Texas for a time, and my younger brother drove down from Portland… But eventually, TJ had to fly back to Texas, and Brian felt like he was behind the eight-ball, knowing how to care and advocate for our mom. Everyone pitched in as they could; everyone spent hours with my mother; everyone spent nights at the hospital. We called on friends and extended family to fill in the odd hours when no immediate family could be present. But in the last week, I was the one able to be there most often.
I was continually thankful, especially that last week, for children who are acquainted with our routine enough to manage fairly well without me. My dear husband, too, felt very strongly that someone should be with my mother continually, and was very supportive of me being there so much. I was also thankful that, with our move, I was less than two miles from the hospital. And for us homeschooling, which lends a great deal of flexibility to our schedule, further enabling me to be there.
“And…” I reluctantly prayed, “I have to admit your wisdom, God, in not allowing me to have a baby, much as I have wanted one. If I had an infant right now… or even a two-year-old, this would not be possible. Instead, I am able to be here at my mom’s bedside when she needs me.”
I was incredibly thankful for that.
During her last weeks, my mom would drift in and out of lucidity. She would often be asleep, and visitors and conversation continued in her room. It was always pleasant. One of my favorite things about that time is the peace and kindness present in the room, by the Holy Spirit and His work in my mother’s life. I had so many great conversations with family members and with friends who had come to spend some time with my mother.
My husband and I have five children; most of my parents’ friends know that. And when one has “a bunch” of children, it is frequently asked of me, “Are you going to have any more?” As a response to that question, one of the several times it was posed to me there in the hospital by a visitor, I responded by saying that only a few months ago, my mother had said to me, unprompted, “I know you and Martin aren’t likely to have any more children. And I think that for most families, six children would be problematic. But I want you to know that I think it would be fine if you have more children. If any family should have more children, it should be yours.”
After I related that story, my mom, with eyes closed — I had thought she was asleep! — piped up weakly, “It’s because you’re such a good mother.”
Back to the conversation following the text from my husband, I continued, saying, “I’m really glad you are… amenable to the idea of having more children, but I’m not pregnant. I would know.”
He responded, “I was just going to the bathroom…”
Let me interject here to say that my husband’s work-bathroom-break-prayer-times have always been inspirational to me. How often have I, as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five, thought — or said, “I just don’t have enough time for a ‘real’ quiet time.” However, I have long known that Martin uses those few minutes of alone-time, purposefully to check in with God. It doesn’t take long, really, to reconnect with Him. Martin prays about what’s on his mind. He listens to anything the Father might say in return, all accomplished within a few minutes in the middle of his busy day. I now do similarly.
“…and I feel like God spoke to me,” he continued. “If you are pregnant — and I think you are — and if it is a girl — and I think it is — we’re going to name her after your mom. I’m not tied to the middle name, but her first name will be Jean.”
I was shocked.
“But I’m not pregnant!” I repeated.
“Go get a test,” he responded.
“What if I am?” I asked, “Are you going to have a hard time with it?”
“Nope. God spoke to me. I already dealt with it. It’s all good.”
I really don’t like that saying: “It’s all good.” But in this instance, I did.
I also have to interject a positive note for serving a God who SPEAKS, a God who speaks TODAY to the people He loves, if their ears are tuned to His voice, not only through His Word — the Bible — but directly from His Spirit into our spirit, into our thoughts, into our lives, RIGHT NOW, words of significance to where we are in our daily lives, in our minute-by-minute concerns, in our current needs. What if we didn’t? What if my husband didn’t? What if I got pregnant and he was upset? That had been my lone concern about becoming pregnant: I’d be thrilled, my husband would be distressed and worried, and I’d have to spend nine months reassuring him that it would be OK, and knowing that we weren’t in unity… I didn’t know if I could handle that. But, in a few minutes, within the space of a bathroom break, God spoke to my husband and changed his mind entirely on the subject.
“Go get a test,” he repeated.
And I am.
Baby Jean will be born likely the end of June, next year, just after my 40th.