Sometimes I Wonder

Whether I’m trying to do too much.

The to-do/to-learn list generated today (just for the kitchen. Yes we did school):

  • Make Ketchup (this recipe or this one look too adventurous for now. I’ll start here.)
  • Make “un-soy” sauce — since we can’t eat soy anymore (had this with lettuce rolls last night.  Wonderful.)
  • Prep Peaches/nectarines for food drier
  • Learn how to make lard
  • Research how to make coconut yogurt (For my goal of getting us dairy-free for at least 3 or 4 weeks, to see if it helps)
  • Sandwich bread
  • Make laundry detergent (the girls are looking forward to seeing/participating with this one)
  • Ham and chicken chowder (so the thawed meat is used in a timely manner)

And, yeah, it is too much, actually.

I even removed making graham crackers from the list.

But since going gluten-free, I sort of see this doing-too-much as a sort of “overhead” for the life we’re growing into. The un-soy, for example, or any number of breads and baked goods in their all their (tiny-amounts-of-multiple-ingredients) glory, is something I know how to manage now.

And I like how it leads to my being both more organized and tidy.

I used to leave the flour and sugar out when I moved on to mixing up my batter/dough/etc., but six jars jars on the counter will cramp my sense of space to work in.

So I’ve gotten really consistent about putting stuff away as soon as I’m done using it.

I feel like I’m getting the hang of this, even as I wrestle with how far I have to go (where it doesn’t take all my focus to stay on top of).  Because the big deal to me is that I have a known-something to do.


I still think my favorite quote from the TV show Bones was from an interview the title character gave on daytime television.

Interviewer (paraphrased): How do you balance your two careers as world-renown forensic anthropologist and best-selling author?

Brennen: I do one, and then, the other.

~ ~ ~

With the least provocation my mind can leap nearly anywhere, and in the last month I’ve been trying more and more to consciously single-task.

That is, for a while I thought even if I couldn’t do multiple things at the same time, I could be really coordinated and mathematical, overlapping things in a way that would allow for multiple finishes falling out after multiple beginnings. But I learned even that is still beyond my skill-level.

I’m trying to decide if I’m okay with Brennen’s technique (that is, I know I’m not, but I’m wondering if I should be).

There are two things I’m currently learning about single tasking.

  1. To stay focused on what I’ve started, and not get anxious about what’s not happening when my mind jumps there (I still haven’t ordered ballet stuff or pictures, but I am not going to let this food go to waste).
  2. Figure out where to put that collection of littles so they get done (I need to order ballet stuff, so it’ll be here by next class, even though we won’t have it tomorrow).

~ ~ ~

On Wednesday, yesterday, I got more done on a to-do list than maybe I ever have since the beginning of creating to-do lists.

I read to my kids, too, and broke up bickerings and soothed bruised feelings, but I was really focused on the to-do list, and had to wonder if that’s why siblings were so efficient at bruising (albeit not physically) one another.

~ ~ ~

On Tuesday, the day before, I had one of those “ultimate” homeschooling moments that went on for at least an hour.

We had a long drive to make, and (thankfully) my children travel well.  The car is a sort of way I get my physical/mental “space” in the day (children are in their places, I’m in mine; they usually entertain themselves and I can zone out in my own thoughts or with the music).

On our way out of town we passed a long line of cars with Joe Miller signs, spurring questions and I began to talk about elections. I tried to say he was running for Senate, but my 4-, 6-, & 7-year-olds didn’t know what Senate meant.

In the last year I’ve been through the whole DVD series of The Truth Project where the lecturer in one episode pointed out the three branches of government came out of Isaiah. So, starting with that verse I began an extemporaneous description about the three branches of government that lasted something like an hour.

It began with political signs and culminated in a touch on the Civil Rights Movement and a character portrait of Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old black girl who represented the integration of education.

Now, granted, the children were a captive audience, but the amazing thing was that I kept getting distracted (oops, we missed our turn-off) and every time I’d stop talking one of the girls would beg (just like they do when I’m telling a story), “Keep telling us about the Three Branches of Government, Mom!”

When I got to the part about President Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation (We’ve been reading a lot of slave escape stories) the back seat erupted in cheers. And I was sad to tell them it didn’t mean anything till the end of the war, and even then it took about another 100 years before Ruby Bridges, a little 6-year-old (“Just your age, Melody!”) was allowed to go to the same schools as white children.

“But that’s not kind, Mama!”

Oh I am thankful for my children’s tender hearts.

~ ~ ~

If I’m allowed to look at my days as a whole, I know I am doing everything, and getting better at doing it well. But looking at my children’s needs, I know I need to do differently.

At some point I hope to learn how to multi-task well enough to give that kind of talk while I’m making “fabulous progress” on my to-do lists.

Options Without Energy

I just got home from shopping. Mini pizzas are in the oven (built on cornmeal pancakes left over from breakfast) for lunch, and I’m already tired.

In this transition to a gluten-free life, I’m finding that actually putting food on teh table is easy enough, provided a few key assumptions are fulfilled.  For example, I assume the children will entertain themselves long enough for me to cook things from scratch.

I assume I have gluten-free foods in the house to combine.

And perhaps the largest invisible assumption is that I will have the energy to stand there and implement the plan (did I mention I have a plan? That’s not actually something I can assume).

So I’ve assumed the first (based on experience), been shopping to provide options to match a recently concocted plan, but now I’m swimming against the current to support the third assumption, and am going to have to find it whether or not it’s forthcoming.

Ready to do, I have:

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs (my favorite quick-meal base) to cook and/or add to the other bits I have waiting.
  • Peaches to can (or turn into jam if it’s too late for that)
  • shredded cheese to package
  • kitchen to clean (so I can process the food)
  • Various greens to make salads (I’ve been craving salads for more than a week)
  • Blueberries to make Blueberry syrup
  • wilting leeks, ready to be added to a favorite recipe
  • Broccoli for a good cream-of soup (only, I forgot to buy milk today)
  • I also have a few zucchini I was gifted, but they were rubbery when they arrived, so I won’t feel guilt if they turn out to be unusable.

What I’m really excited about, though, is that I have a plan and now ingredients for some really yummy soups I can do in my crock pot or on the stove. My next gluten-free goal is to find a good soda-bread or biscuit recipe to have someting familiar with our new soups.

I placed an order last week with Azure Standard for a bunch of gluten-free grains and flours, so I might wait until that arrives before I get really serious.

For now, my highest goal is just to keep ahead of food going bad, since I don’t have energy for more.

And God only knows if I have enough for this.

Whoops, it’s been a While.

And I’m not apologizing, because I’ve been working hard, but *man* it’s been busy.

Usually I like to blog as a memory-keeper, or a processing assistant, but while we’ve had lots happening (and I’ve had plenty to process, believe me) it hasn’t happened at a time to write.

I have been thankful to find a generous serving of gluten-free blogs, and will be adding a specific category to my sidebar (today, I hope: my browser windows are getting pretty congested.)

We’ve been eating (nearly) gluten-free for about a month now.  We’re still minimizing dairy and soy (and I’m *avoiding* eggs), but gluten is the one I’m not budging on.

Since going gluten-free my thoughts and emotions have been much less cloudy, and my energy has been up.  And as challenging as it is, gluten-free is the most discretely (as in, clean, individual, recognizable steps) doable.

Everything requires multiple steps before I can begin, and I get frustrated at how I’m not organized enough to have food ready before we’re all hungry. Frustrated that I turn into a bear (yes, even with the bear-outbreaks I’m sticking with my assertion I’m more stable). I do have days when it works, and I wish I took better notes, so I know why and can try to recreate those days.

One thing that helps is keeping dried fruits and nuts in the house (other than peanuts and almonds, that is). I’m getting to where I think of those before I stretch too far and the quick sugar/fat/protein combo is very helpful.

We’ve purchased a manual grain mill that we’re using to grind our gluten-free grains into a variety of flours. I am totally game to make pasta now, except the pasta maker we were given has been packed into who-knows-what-box. (I’m missing my Vitamix too, but that’s another story)

So I’m learning how to cook completely new things.  And it’s not for our health.  As in, I’m not yet trying to eat “organic” or “local” or to get the kids to consume their 5-a-day of fruits and veggies (I’m happy if they get one!).  I’m just trying to keep food in their tummies and aches out of their bodies.

And, you know, other than meal times (as in, “Mama, my tummy hurts, can I have a snack?” “Nope it’s dinner time, you’re supposed to be hungry.”) we haven’t been having complaints any more.

It’s a truckload of work, I shouldn’t even have my feet up right now– I should be cleaning the kitchen while my kids are watching their movie, so we can try (another) new recipe today.  But it’s good to stop for a minute and say, Wait-a-minute, yeah, I think it’s working!

Tummies took a while to adjust, but I think we’re stabilized now, and have a good idea where to seek our path.