Bread of Life? Random Acts of … Udi’s

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As most experienced gluten free eaters will tell you, sandwiches quickly disappear from your lunchbox.  Am I right?  It certainly is not the first thing on my pack-for-lunch list anymore and it was pre-gf days as it was simple to take, eat anywhere etc.  Not so much any more.

Flash forward to this month.  I was invited by Udi’s to participate in a blogging event of “Random Acts of … Udi’s” in which they set out boxes of Udi’s goodies for people to share with friends, family and co-workers.  (They did not pay for me to write any reviews – nor have they ever – but they did send the products for me to share plus two coupons for a Free Udi’s product of your choice (which I am giving away below).  I’ve written about Udi’s before.  Personally, I am just going to take credit (HA!  False Credit, that is!  ahahah!) for this blogging event by Udi’s.  At the end of last school year, Udi’s sent out sampler packages of a mind-blowing quantity of goodies.  I brought the plethora of carb-goodness to school with me and I shared it with several gluten free (and non-gluten free) students.  (Here is that student review of their products/that post, if you are interested.)

When this box arrived, I knew I would be sharing it with the adults at school.  In the last couple years, we have had about 25 new staff members come on board – and a surprising number of them are gluten free.  (I think there are 6 of us (teachers) who are gluten free now.)  Since our mail room and/or the secretaries counters often fill up with treats to be shared that we can’t eat, I thought I would fill that space with the goodies Udi’s sent.  (They sent granola, several boxes of cookies, 3 – 4 small tubs of the mini-bites (brownies, etc), bagels and blueberry muffins.)  When I was unpacking the box, a colleague of mine (for the last 13 years) told me that she was “going gluten free” as she has noticed some digestive issues for herself.  She then asked me (and other GF colleague who was oogling the goodies) what kind of sandwich bread we thought she should try.  Needless to say, I handed her an Udi’s bagel.  It’s what I use for sandwich bread when I have it on hand.  (And I have a gluten-free dedicated toaster in my closet at work…hahahahah.)

We picked out a few goodies to send to the teachers who are gluten free who never would have come to seek out treats in the office.  Much like me, they avoid the mail room when it is inundated with baked goods.  Not only is it hard to go in when you are hungry, but the aroma is too much.  Maybe it is just me, but since I don’t eat “bread” all that often (as I used to), I can really smell baked goods.  Can you?

It was awesome to have such yummy gluten free treats for sharing.  Gluten-free peeps and non-gluten free eaters alike enjoyed the mini brownie bites, the granola and the blueberry muffins.  The cookies were a bit of a gluten-free adventure for the non-GF people, but the sweet taste of cookies was preferred by a few with their morning coffee.  Thank you, Melissa @ Udi’s for thinking of me/my colleagues.

I took several pictures of the goodies being gobbled up – but alas, I somehow don’t have them on my phone.  Sorry to say that I don’t have the images for Udi’s to verify the goodies being shared, but I’m also certain that the 7AM photos of colleagues munching on muffins and granola by the handfuls are probably not ones that they will miss seeing published online.  (Ha!)

Udi’s also sent two coupons for a Free Udi’s item that I would like to share.  I wish you lived closer or I would have brought some gluten free goodies to you as well.  Instead, please just sign up via the rafflecopter below for the coupons to be mailed to you.  I will contact the winners via email to get a mailing address for the coupons.  The coupons expire on 2/28/2014 – that is the end of this month – so let’s get to this!

Happy Couponing –


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anniversaries, Thanksgiving and Dad

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Thirteen years ago today I married the love of my life.  I am so lucky.

It was Thanksgiving weekend.  My BFF opened up her home and prepared a Thanksgiving feast – aka “Groom’s Dinner” for my entire family.  (Seriously – 22 people in your house that you don’t know?  Yes – she is THAT kind of awesome on a daily basis.)  We got married on that Friday with a small reception at a public park lake house.  On Saturday, we had a large Chinese reception.  It was a cultural whirlwind of learning and love.  I would not trade a single moment of it for anything.

Among the special moments that weekend, was one I will never forget.  Dancing with my dad…. and then when my mom  joined us on the dance floor. 😀  My dad has always been a huge part of me.  I am a complete Daddy’s girl – and the baby of the family to boot.  Our nicknames make sense when used together, but not separately.  He and I did so many things together and I loved it all.  But dancing with him?  It brought me to tears.

This week my Dad passed away.  It feels much like someone has carved out my chest and left a huge hollow spot that aches.  Or sometimes it feels like my arms are heavy for lack of his hand to hold.  And yet through the loss, I recognize my good fortune.  Not only that I had such an amazing man in my life but that I was gifted the chance to see him and say goodbye.  We both knew it was the last time I would see him.  In fact, he passed away two days after I flew back to Seattle.  Two days.  And I only had two days  to say goodbye the weekend before his passing.

Amazingly, he was cognizant of everything.  While too exhausted to do anything else, he was able to crack a few jokes through whispered speech – at one point he even finished singing a little diddy he had always sung to me when I could not.  When I left, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I would have chosen to sit there holding his hand forever if God would have let me, but I recognized how tired my dad was and how much he had fought to be with us all along.

Those last minutes holding his hand, touching his face and looking into his beautiful blue eyes will never go away.  He opened his twinkling blue eyes to tell me one more time that he loved me and that he was ‘sorry but just so tired”.  I could not find the words to tell him I love him more than life itself.  I just told him that I was grateful for my life with him, thank you for his love, life, laughter and lessons and that I loved him.  And then I had to go.

It was the longest 4 hours on a plane that I have every experienced.  Smushed up against the window and flying into the dark, wet night, I couldn’t wrap my head around anything.   I am not sure I can yet.

I’ve done pretty well at work.  I only lost my ability to control the tears one time.  When a colleague who had met my gregarious, delightful Dad on more than one occasion acknowledge my huge loss, I felt it to my core.  There was something about his eye contact that brought the tears welling up from within.  And then I have to remember:  how I handle this is a choice.  I am grateful he did not suffer.  I am forever thankful for his life.  And for this moment, I will take a breath and remember to live with laughter.

WeddingDanceThat would be me.  Crying on his shoulder as we danced to Louie Armstrong’s version of “What a Wonderful World”.  Totally fitting that not only am I crying but that he is smiling.  He always found a way to smile.  It’s a choice you make, how you face life.  And he *always* chose to face things with a smile, a whistle and joke.

So now, here I am.  On my 13th wedding anniversary, thinking about my parent’s 55th Anniversary (this last September) and about that Thanksgiving 13 years ago when i got to dance with my dad.

I wish you all the best of memories this Thanksgiving as I relive many of mine.  I am thankful for more than I can ever put into words.

May you make many happy memories –


13 years later…mistakes still happen

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Accidental gluten ingestion

This weekend I did everything right.  Well…almost everything.  I still have a huge stack of papers to finish grading – but hey – that’s the life of a teacher.  I’m talking more about following the gluten free life.  Heck, I’ve been doing it for so long it’s just natural.

On Sunday, after a busy day, we decided to order pizza for dinner.  The neighborhood restaurant serves a great gluten free pizza.  They used to make it out of bean flour and it was pasty (so NOT tasty, IMHO).  Now they have one they craft out of rice and it is tasty and even crisps up (if you ask them to bake it longer).  I’ve eaten their pizza a few times over the last couple years and I’ve never had a problem.   Ever.

I even decided to try new toppings. I verified that all the toppings were gluten free – they are very well versed – etc.  I ordered the pizzas (one gluten free, one regular for the girls/hubby).  I even double checked with the cooks when I got there to pick up the pizzas that everything (my new toppings) was gluten free.  I was assured that indeed it was.  And the thing is…. I don’t doubt them.

However, on Sunday night – several hours after dinner – the most excruciating abdominal pain told me that even though I had the gluten free pizza…..had asked all the questions…. etc that something had gone seriously wrong.  The pain is unbearable.  The hot flashes, nausea, bloating (like seriously, please….put a pin in me and pop me already), the inability to find a comfortable position, etc is all overwhelming.

Something happened.  I must have made a mistake somewhere.  It could be as simple as helping kids cut their pizza and put it on their plate and then forgetting to wash my hands (for the umpteenth time while feeding them).  It could have been a kiss from a kidlet with a crumby set of lips.  I honestly don’t recall this as this issue – but I still can’t figure out where this came from.

On Monday I stayed home from work.  Unable to really stand up straight or move too far from the bathroom, I spent my morning trying to figure out how I had gotten here:  back to the most painful place possible with gluten ingestion.   I still can’t figure it out.

So what do you do if you are hit with the debilitating pain?

There are only two things that have ever helped relieve any kind of pain or discomfort for me in the past to some degree.

1.  Cool washcloth on the back of my neck.  (Heat makes me more uncomfortable – although some people report relief when applying warm compresses to their stomach/abdomen.)

2.  Papaya enzymes/tablets.  I have no idea why this has helped in the past, but it has.  I chew up a dozen of these tablets (PLEASE be sure to buy the gluten free ones!) when I’ve been concerned or had a hint that something is awry.

But this pain?  The one I’ve had since Sunday night?  Nothing.  Nothing is stopping it.  It comes and goes in waves.  I returned to work yesterday and just didn’t eat much other than mashed potatoes or simple/easily digested foods.  And then last night?  It started all over again.  The pain was so severe, I was vomiting.

The brain fog has left me a mess too.  I have left doors open (to my car…in the garage….nice).  I pulled some things out of a cupboard to get the crock pot…and left them on the floor.  Completely forgetting to put them back until I turned back around and almost stepped on them.  I have misplaced my keys … my water bottle… and even walked over to a car that was not mine and couldn’t figure out why the doors were not “beeping” to open with my keys.  My “to-do” list at school is a blur.  I tried to organize my desk yesterday as one day out meant a sub left my entire desk covered with neat piles of papers on every surface possible (!!) but I left with a large stack of papers on the floor next to my chair – too overwhelmed to even begin setting up the grade book columns and entering scores.  (Come to think of it…it’s probably a good thing I left those tests to be corrected at school.)

Not to scare you, but this is the face of a body rebelling from  accidental tiny amount of gluten ingestion.

gluten poison

Those huge raccoon eyes?  Not normal.

The blotchy skin?  Red patches?  Also not normal.

The puffy face?  Ditto.

Yes.  I’m hurting.

But here’s the deal:  Accidents happen.  And goodness knows no one ever wants to be back here in the land of pain and discomfort.  But there might be a time in your life that you slide back kicking and screaming into that day when you suffered before diagnosis.  So here’s the question:  what do you do?

What stops the pain for you?

Here are the tidbits offered up over the years from numerous sources.  Maybe some of them will work for you.  If I am missing some, please leave a comment.  Maybe your tip or trick will spare someone else some pain or discomfort.

  1. Maalox or Pepto Bismal (for me these are only sources for relief of the aftermath – not the pain so much)
  2. Papaya enzyme tablets
  3. Warm compresses on the tummy – or a cool washcloth on the back of your next.
  4. Ginger and honey tea.
  5. Probiotics – drinkable liquids, not just in yogurt.
  6. Ibuprofen
  7. Eat candied ginger.  (My mother in law sends me Chinese candied ginger – it’s awesome for tummy troubles)
  8. Peppermint tea or peppermint water.
  9. lots and lots of cold water
  10. <insert your idea here>

Obviously, the best solution is ZERO exposure/ingestion to gluten.  That’s the way I prefer to go too.  But stuff happens.

I’m not big on putting more things into my body when it hurts.  So while I have tried the papaya enzymes and the probiotic drink, when I hurt like this, I honestly cannot imagine putting MORE food into my mouth – let alone my stomach!  Am I alone in this?

I’ve missed blogging.  I will come back shortly with a more upbeat post soon.  But for now, I’m off to figure my way out of this brain fog and pain nightmare.  I’m giving myself a week.  (At least that’s how long my hubby says these symptoms have lasted for me in the past. LOL)

-May every morsel that touches your lips be tasty and gluten free –