I am home ALONE!!!

7caxrn5MiHOME ALONE!!!! I mean really ALONE!!! I know mums will understand after the long summer break, but imagine then that the last time I was home alone was April!

I am not going to clean, or empty the dishwasher, or fold laundry. Im going to sit / lie / veg around and do absolutely nothing! I am home alone baby, yeah!!

So here I am (alone – just incase you didn’t catch that part!). Not stressed in the slightest, because Celiac kiddo is at school with her brother, and today I wont go in for snack time or lunch, because they’ve got it all under as much control as they possibly can.

I keep promising myself I will put my school letter up, but by now schools have already started so I guess Im yet again to late. I will be starting a new section on the blog called stuff, check there in the future for the school letter and other goodies. The fact that I am sitting here, not stressed, is all to do with the school letter and preparations. About Celiac kid being prepared and every adult in school knowing what she can / cant do.

Sure, its a bit of work, but the payback is tenfold. HOME ALONE BABY! (yeah!!)

-Linda

Celiac, Dubai, School and another Pneumonia!

Image Boy do I owe you all an update, its been a month! Admit it, you couldn’t sleep at night for missing me? 😉 Right, so we went to Dubai, had an awesome awesome holiday. Got a sunburn, went to Wild Wadi, splashed around on the beach. Celiac kid had a wheeze by day 3, so once again it just reconfirms how right our decision was! Being in Dubai was so ‘normal’, felt like we never left, so comfortable being around those people we have known for so many years. I miss having friends like that here. It will come, Im sure. Anyway, back to Wroclaw, picked up our puppy and then Big kid started school. 1 week in he says he loves it JUST AS MUCH AS HIS SCHOOL IN DUBAI!!! Woop Woop! RESULT! After the horrid experience in the last school he deserves the best school we can possibly give him. I need to know that my kids are happy and loved whilst in school. Fingers crossed and touch wood this school keeps on delivering 🙂 Celiac kid had her birthday! She’s 5, FIVE! How the hell did this happen? My baby is a big girl? Then yeah… the crappy news. Celiac kid coughed a few days ago, just one cough, but I looked at her and I just knew what was around the corner…. the day after I ended up taking her to our landlord’s clinic (our landlord is a gastro and knows Celiac well, what luck!?), he helped me find a good Dr who speaks English and works with kids. I must say, so far the Dr is wonderful. The same afternoon we saw her, and although Celiac kid just had a slight cough and no fever (yet) the Dr listened to me and believed me. Examination confirmed a bad right lung, and by evening her fever was reaching close to 40. Thank God we acted so fast. Saw the Dr again yesterday and the entire right lung is very bad, but luckily her left lung is clear and because of this her oxygen levels have managed to stay high enough for her not to be admitted. Obviously any other kid would be admitted, but again, the Dr has listened to me and agrees Celiac Kid is better of at home. We have remained in phone contact by texting every few hours. Best part though, this Dr is already sitting at home doing Celiac research and learning more then she knows now, and is finding us a string of expert so we can investigate every avenue there is and make some kind of plan. Its not fair to keep having these pneumonias. I am no longer able to tell you how many she had…. awful. Anyway, once she is better there will be testing for other allergies, lung scans etc, Im actually at this point thinking finding something may not be so bad, because at least then you can try to treat it! Im glad I decided to not let her start school til September, this time was meant to be spent growing and getting stronger, not having pneumonia number 6 or 7, but hey ho. Im feeling positive despite all. How can I not? A great landlord, a great house, a great and understanding Dr, ok oxygen levels, a puppy!  We choose our reactions to some extent, and I am truly grateful for what we have and that I haven’t lost the plot. Every time the sh**t hits the fan and Im able to stay with my feet firmly on the ground is a victory in it self. I have blog posts waiting to be written, Celiac Awareness one with some great links from lovely blogging friends, and also an Airplane food one. Soon, One day InshAllah! -Linda

Moving time! (again)

What a week!

Friday morning last week we were in Poznan, Friday evening we were in Wroclaw. By Sunday I had somehow magically managed to unpack everything! Then a frantic whizzing from place to place to sort out the school, kennels for dogs for our trip, food shopping, food shopping research (gluten free peeps know exactly what I mean!) etc etc.

We somehow managed to pick a great area for ourselves without ever having visited (thats how we roll, haha). Its great with tons of greenery, kids and barking dogs.

Im not sure what it is with barking dogs here…. if my dogs bark they get told off, but it seems here many people have dogs to deter from break-ins, and a quiet dog sleeping indoors obviously doesn’t deter much, so dogs are left stood in gardens barking. Drives me slightly bonkers, but it is what it is. At least I feel totally warranted to smile smugly at all these dog owners that MY dogs are so well trained and don’t bark.

We found a great little shop that sells organic produce and some freshly baked gluten free goods. I was to scared to get any of the baked stuff because even though the lady assured me it was baked in a gluten free kitchen you just never know. I need my hubby to go and ask her all the tough questions in Polish. But the produce! Gigantic organic apples that tasted like the apples from my childhood, I cant wait for summer when all the locally grown berries will come!

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The shop is called Awokado – delikatesy ekologiczne, they have a facebook page (opens in new window).

Slightly further up the same road there is yet another eko (organic) shop, a family farm and the produce is sold in someones garden! Eko eggs and veggies. Im in HEAVEN 😀

I have yet to find where the shops selling all the breads are hiding, so far its all schar. Im guessing I need to find another delikatessen. In Poznan we found most of the breads in normal supermarkets. Im sure I will find all what we need eventually.

Few more days now then its Dubai time! Cant wait. Also cant wait to come back and for kids to start their new international school where people speak only english. Happy happy happy! 😀

-Linda

 

Wroclaw, I think I love you!

Have you ever visited somewhere and felt instantly at home? You know, that almost ‘in love’ feeling where you walk around with a silly smile on your face and just want to inhale the air even further in to your lungs, almost inhaling the actual place? If you’ve never felt that way, then feel free to think I’m a lunatic, and I wish you luck in finding your ‘at home’ place.

We went to visit Wroclaw because the school situation here in Poznan was getting to a point where we have to leave. So quick, we must find another town, another school! I didn’t expect to find another ‘at home’ place in the process, a city that Im sure will always live in my heart.

Where Poznan at times feels half asleep, Wroclaw feels alive, pulsating, moving! Where at times I feel like Poznan is in black and white, Wroclaw is totally 100% in colour! And they have gnomes! (I will have to do a full post about the gnomes one day, they are awesome!)

Poznan is nice, I like our house here and its been fine, but is fine enough? I guess that if the school had lived up to our expectations, and our children had been educated well, cared for well and been happy, then fine would have evolved to good. But unfortunately the school situation has been a total disaster. We visited two schools in Wroclaw and my kids would be lucky to go to either one of them.

So, we are moving to Wroclaw!   – insert jumping up and down exited smiley here –

-Linda

I write blog posts in my head…..

Every night its the same story, I cant sleep, my mind is whizzing and swirling like crazy, so I write, in my head, and some totally amazing oscar winning material style blog posts are written some nights. Of course, by morning, I dont remember a word and dont feel inspired at all.

I realised I haven’t written much on here about life, and about the things around us. The truth is, I rarely write unless its positive. Why? Surely people who want to share our lives by reading here want the good with the bad? Or is it just that living for so many years in the Middle East has made me unable to write negative things out of fear of being told off? Freedom of Speech is a great thing, but I actually set far harsher limits on myself then any government. I still – even though I can speak openly – don’t speak badly of people, companies, brands, institutions etc. I am pretty sure if I had, there would have been a ton more traffic here, but I also don’t write for traffic.

I do however owe you all some posts, about another move we are about to make (yes I know!). About hospitals in Poland, about people who speak perfectly good english refusing to do so, about the school which we decided to pull the children out of, about Poznan, about Wroclaw (my new love!). All those topics have been covered extensively – at night – in my head. Sorry about that, I will try to get them on to paper (can you even say that nowadays? on to an electronic devise?) asap, I promise!

I leave you with a picture of a road sign – deep in the middle of the Polish wilderness, just because, blog posts with pictures are nicer then blog posts without 🙂

-Linda

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Contamination, what happens?

Just like all Celiacs are different, so are everyones reactions. There are 200-300 (depending where you read!) documented symptoms relating to Celiac. Very often we talk about what happens if a Celiac eats gluten, but what about contamination, not really so much from eating, but from the environment or contamination somehow in the kitchen?

Yesterday I picked up a grumpy child from school. She told me her tummy had hurt during the day. Knowing what this means I was instantly ‘on my guard’. When she’s been contaminated we walk on eggshells…. We got home, there was some wind. Hey, this is a gluten free blog discussing celiac, so Im just going to say it, there was farting. I call the farts gluten farts. See, there is normal farting and there is contamination farting. The contamination one is sometimes deadly. You smell it in the car and know you got to get home QUICK, because soon the pain and crying could start. OR, like yesterday, its not so much the smell, but the amount of actual air! My tiny 4 and a half year old can do farts that last like 5 seconds! Then she laughs, and blames her brother, or daddy, or the dogs. Then she does another, and another. I guess the bloating has to come out some way. When you are 4 and a half, long loud farts are pretty cool. Not so much when you are a teen I guess!

Then there is the reason we walk on eggshells. Her mood. The smallest thing can make her angry or upset. From angry, we have a very very thin line, if crossed we have a tantrum. This is not a normal tantrum though, this is a gluten tantrum, and in a gluten tantrum no telling off, pleading, time outing, or reasoning will make any. difference. whatsoever. There is a reaction in her brain, its something she can not control. You just have to reel in all those feelings that you yourself feel, bite your tongue and try to be as nice as you possibly can, preferably before the line is crossed and the tantrum comes. You can discipline bad behaviour, but you cant discipline a reaction in the brain! Im not even sure of all the ins and outs of what happens in the brain, but I asked some of my adult Celiac friends who also suffer emotionally when contaminated. Linsey says she feels so emotional she cant help but cry. Once she said she felt so down all she wanted to do was hurl herself out of a window. Mel the same, she called me in tears one day and said, ‘if this is how A feels, then please go easy on her, because I cant stop the tears’! Because how, if an adult feels like that, can we expect a 4 year old to understand whats going on and try to ‘be nicer’? Remember, we are talking about contamination here, not eating something with gluten ‘on purpose’, if A or Linsey or Mel ate something with gluten in it the reaction would be far far worse.

This morning the mood continued. She didn’t want to put her jacket on, she wanted help, then there were endless tears, endless. I know my girl, and most of the time I know which is gluten behaviour and which is not, but its hard to parent a child like A when she’s been contaminated. Its also hard to try to explain to the sibling why sometimes the celiac kid may not get a time out when at other times she would. Sometimes I get it wrong, sometimes I think she’s just being a stubborn 4 year old when in fact she is having a reaction. All you can do is try your best, and dish out extra cuddles as often as possible.

So what happened yesterday? Why was she unwell? She eats only food from home, her table is wiped down by adults before she sits. Who knows, there could have been a crumb somewhere, maybe she held hands with a gluten eating kid that hadn’t washed properly, maybe she stuck her fingers in her mouth. Maybe it was the yogurt that she had eaten the night before, because although usually A’s reactions start within 30 minutes or so, they don’t always. These things happen, they will happen from time to time, all we can do is try as hard as we can to prevent it. There is no blame here. I mentioned it to the teacher this morning, but that was that. No matter how hard you try, sometimes it just happens anyway.

So the next time you see me with my hand wipes cleaning the shopping trolley handle or the table in a cafe or my child’s hands, please, spare me the eye roll and mind your own business, this is what we do, to try our best to keep our girl healthy. And no, a little bit of exposure will NOT make her stronger.

-Linda

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Just a small add here, please remember, that even for a celiac who doesn’t react as strongly as A does, there could still be damage on the inside after being exposed, so when we prepare foods for a Celiac there is no ‘how sensitive are you?’ coming in to the equation. We need to be 100% strict no matter what.

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My top 10 tips for a gluten free lunchbox

Originally posted on Gluten Free UAE in November 2012

The first few weeks of being a gluten free family can be very daunting, especially when it comes to making lunch boxes for kids, even more so if you are used to sending sandwiches every day. It can take some time to get used to gluten free bread, and a gluten free bread slice often doesn’t do so well in a lunch box because of crumbling. After a year and a half of being gluten free I am sure I am close to being an expert now. It has become almost a ‘sport’ to see how many days I can go without sending bread! My older child used to be nightmare when it came to eating at school, we have used every trick in the book to get him to eat.

  1. Forget bread. Don’t miss it, don’t think about it. You don’t need bread for a lunchbox. If the lunch is appealing enough, your kids wont even ask for bread.
  2. Decide in advance how many foods you are sending and what they should be. By having ‘rules’, making the lunch will be faster and easier, as you are always following the same ‘rules’. I send 4-5 foods for my older child, and 3-4 for my younger. Each child has a vegetable or fruit food, a ‘main’ food, a dairy food, and a snack.
  3. Sending one big portion of something often means it goes uneaten. Smaller portions are less daunting for a fussy child, and usually there will be less waste. If your child doesn’t eat, send less foods (less choice) for a week and you may be surprised.
  4. Let your child choose within the food rules that you have set. ‘Do you want yogurt or cheese sticks today?’, ‘Do you want pasta or pancakes today?’, ‘Cucumber with hummus or an apple?’ etc.
  5. Prepare some foods in advance. While I always do the fruits and most veggies fresh on the day, many of the ‘main foods’ can be prepared in advance and kept for a few days in storage containers in the fridge.
  6. Experiment! Don’t be afraid to try new crazy things, get the kids involved too. Very often the crazy stuff is what works.
  7. Become best friends with your muffin tin. Really. Im serious. Its amazing what you can do in it, and its just the right size for a child! Try Spanish Omelette, baked eggs, pancakes, quinoa bakes, pasta bakes, crustless quiche etc etc.
  8. Try to stay away from pre packaged gluten free stuff, more often then not its not very nutritious, and it probably cost more then dinner in a fancy restaurant too! Make things yourself if you can, or use mainstream products that are naturally gluten free.
  9. Don’t give the same food every day, even if your child requests it. The last thing you want is for your child to stop eating the one thing he always eats! Its also not very good from a nutritional stand point. A varied diet is usually better (unless you have managed to get your kid to eat a superfood of some kind).
  10. Keep an emergency (non perishable) lunch box with the teacher! You don’t want your child to go without food if his lunch box becomes contaminated, dropped on the floor etc. Our emergency box has 2 muesli bars, some raisins and gluten free crackers. It’s sealed shut, with my child’s name and gluten free stickers all over. Its kept with the teacher and I check the box regularly to see if it needs updating.

-Linda

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