Sunday, February 22, 2009

Am I really THAT old?

While watching the Oscars tonight I was stunned by the report of the passing of an acquaintance of mine: Robert Do Qui. I met him about 25 years ago, when I worked for Columbia Pictures. His wife at that time, Shea, came to work under my supervision. It was at a Christmas party at their home that Robert and I had a long heart-to-heart talk.

He had just turned 50, the age I turned this year. I remember it like it was yesterday. Can I really be so old that it's time for my friends, acquaintances and mentors to be shuffling off this mortal coil?


Oscar Strikes Again

We took a break from our health diet to enjoy Oscar-theme related food tonight. We had:

Hot Dog Millionaire (like the dollar sign?)

Wall*E Micro Chips
Tropic(ana) Thunder with Frozen River Chunks (ice)

Benjamin's Buttons

Frosty Nixon ice cream with Heath shell

Now, on to the broadcast!

Monday, February 16, 2009

You're KILLING me here!!

You're killing me here! Or, as Job would say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

We get so close to finding a job. There'll be an interview, paperwork, right up to the signing of the contract, then...

pfffft. Gone. Someone else gets hired, the job gets axed, or the entire company is put on a hiring freeze. It happened again this week.

It's been a tense month. Our severance pay ran out three months ago, and it's been challenging (but satisfying) getting by on freelance pay. But we have several "exceptional" bills that come due at the first of the year: property tax, auto registration, home warranty, to name only 3 of 6. Plus all our family birthdays fall between January and June. We had one child who totally outgrew her underthings and needed new right away. Another tore a hole in the seat of her last pair of jeans. These aren't wants, they are needs. I had just enough in my "business" checking account to cover both, but that money is now gone. Hubby has expressed a desire for me to not continue my business, because the pay is so low (I average about $1 an hour) but I gotta say, $1 an hour is better than $0 an hour.

We have freelance work lined up that will provide living expenses through March 15 now. So, I'm not going to think about this again until March 15. I hope.

We are almost over this round of colds. I'm still low energy, Kate's nose is still red and raw, and Christy's cough isn't gone yet, but we're all on the upswing.

Blair has gone to Atlanta for an Irish Step Dance competition. She's staying with a friend for a couple weeks. We've put her on notice that when she comes back, it's time to get a job. We've been laying low, giving her a year after high school and not pushing her to get a job, but I think it's backfired. She's become disinclined to do even the simplest of chores, surly with her siblings and disrespectful to her dad and I. She does manage to bounce between the phone and computer during her waking hours, where she chats endlessly with her friends. She talks about taking the SAT and getting into college, but doesn't do even the simplest preparatory tasks toward that goal: it's all talk. Perhaps homeschoolers don't need the year off as much as institutionally educated children do.

We are gearing up for our annual Oscar party. The kids have nominated their food choices and are putting together a play. If I can figure out how to do it, I'll get the play posted on YouTube.

And finally, my politcally-motivated rant. There is something for us, personally, in the stimulus package! Apparently, the government is going to step in and help us with our COBRA payments. This is wonderful news, since we really can't afford them. It's awful news because had we known, we'd have covered the kids who, right now, are uninsured. I don't mind being uninsured, I'm pretty low risk. Hubby can not go without insurance because of his medical issues and prescriptions. But the kids being uninsured is very uncomfortable for me. Even so, I hate the idea of the stimulus package. I'm afraid I'm landing squarely with Ron Paul on this issue. I don't like the idea of us spoiled baby boomers pushing our bad economy off 20 years at which point it will collapse, perhaps finally, on our children and grandchildren.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Allergies strike again

Rose's allergies have been sneaking up again on us since Christmas. They peaked this week with her eczema attacking her neck to the point of oozing and bleeding again, just like when she was a baby. It hasn't been this bad since she was about 2.

Her worst allergy is dairy. It's not lactose intolerance, it's actual allergy to milk protein, called casein. We have her on a casein-free diet until the crisis is past, and will restrict casein for several weeks to empty her bucket.

An allergy doctor explained allergies to me this way: An allergic person has an allergy "bucket." When you eat foods you are allergic to, it fills the bucket. If you eat just a little, just a little is in the bucket, and if you eat a lot of it (or a little several days in a row), the bucket can be filled to overflowing. When the bucket starts overflowing, that's when you see reactions. If you empty the bucket, chances are you can have a little of the trigger substance before you see a reaction. The trick is that some substances clear out of the bucket in hours, others in weeks.

So, no milk for Rose for a while. I did find some hemp milk at the store, and we'll give that a shot. We've tried almond milk, rice milk, oat milk and soy milk, but she has severe allergic reactions to all of the above. When she was little, I made her some cashew milk for a while, but I didn't like the nutritional profile of that very much.

Of course, if it were just milk and cheese, it wouldn't be such a big problem. But there is casein (and corn, a food that three of the seven of us are allergic to) in almost every processed food these days. McDonald's finally admitted not too long ago that there is even casein in their french fries.

Meanwhile, Kate has been suffering from dishydrosis, an awful skin problem, on her hands. The skin gets small blisters, which itch fiercely. The blisters pop, bleed, ooze, then crust. Repeated attacks make the skin tough and leathery, then eventually shell-like. We tried like crazy to determine the cause of the problem, and finally came down to one suspect: nickel. Now, there is a little nickel in chocolate, and a little in peanut butter (two food groups, according to her), but the main source is her braces! We are very, very happy that her braces should be coming off this calendar year. I've spoken to her orthodontist, who says he can make her retainer out of tungsten or plain plastic. He says he is seeing more and more nickel allergies, something that he never saw as recently as 5 years ago.

We are working on shoring up the flagging immune systems in our family, and plugging any leaky gut issues, as those are reported to worsen allergies. It's been a nice couple months, just totally ignoring the allergies, but it's time to be vigilant once again.