Wednesday, April 25, 2012

C Sunning on the Lido Deck
During Spring Break, our family went on a cruise upon the Carnival Triumph.  What a fantastic vacation.  We have cruised before and enjoyed it so much.  I could write a post about how wonderful cruising is but that will be for a later date. If you ever get the opportunity to cruise, take it!

Hubby and R are both gluten sensitive.  Neither of them has actually been diagnosed as Celiac but they both function WAY better without gluten in their diets.  This is our first major vacation since we have been so careful with their diets.  I was a little worried about how it would all work out since the boys’ tolerance for gluten has decreased so significantly that Hubby can now tell within about five minutes if he’s had gluten…and later we can all tell when either of them has had gluten, but I digress.
Our cruise was arranged through a travel agent who checked for us with Carnival if they had any gluten-free options onboard.  Carnival advised her that we should let our Maître D’ know once we’ve boarded the ship.  I was unsatisfied with that answer and was concerned that the boys would starve over these five days at sea so I looked it up on Carnival’s website.  The website specified that there was gluten-free pastas and breads on board which eased a little of my concern.  Since I was on the computer, I figured it would be prudent of me to search some reviews of other gluten-free passengers.  Sure enough, there were many testimonies and posts from mostly positive gluten-free experiences onboard the Carnival ships. Ahh, thank goodness.  Now I could breathe easy.

Once on-board the ship I kept reminding Hubby that we needed to talk to the Maître D’.  I can be annoying like that, especially since Hubby doesn’t like to have a big deal made over him but my mission in life is to make sure my family is taken care of…read this as REALLY ANNOYING.  Since R was sick, we took him to the stateroom for a nap while Hubby and C went for a walk.  While Hubby was in the washroom, I made sure C reminded her dad to stop by the dining room to discuss this with the Maître D’.  I even got C in on the annoying but hey, it got done.
R taking it all in
That night at dinner, the Maitre D’ introduced us to our special hostess who would be taking care of us during our cruise.  She would come by at the beginning of each meal to see how we were doing, answer any questions, and make sure we had everything we needed.  After the meal, she would come by with the following day’s menu where the boys could order their meals and the chef would ensure they were prepared gluten-free without cross-contamination, if possible.  If the chef was unable to prepare it as gluten-free, our hostess would ensure there was a second choice.  She even predicted that we would like gluten-free bread for breakfast the next morning and had it prepared for us which was great because the boys forgot to request it.  There was also a couple nights that she selected some specialty desserts to be prepared for all of us, so we could all enjoy the same thing.  She was amazing.

Unfortunately, the Lido deck (which is where we spent most of our time) could not be considered gluten free.  It is a buffet-type area so cross-contamination would be inevitable, although the fries were cooked in oil only for fries so the boys tried them out and had no reaction.  We were also pleasantly surprised to find some gluten-free snack items in the gift-shop which we could buy and take back to our rooms.
All-in-all, it was a great vacation and the boys were never hungry.  The only improvement I could ask from Carnival, is that they provide gluten-free pizza in their 24-hour Pizzaria and that the ice cream or frozen yogurt be gluten-free…then it would be perfect.

Take Care, D

Disclaimer:  This post is the result of my family's experience which is all I can discuss.  Carnival was not consulted on this post and other people's experience may differ.  For more information on Carnival's normal practices and policies, Carnival should be contacted directly.  This cruise was purchased in full by my family and we were not compensated in any way to write this post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

When I was a teen, many moons ago, I was confused.  Confused about life, confused about death, confused about my parents, my friends, my feelings, basically everything.  I didn’t know myself, or my place in this world, what I wanted, what I needed, or where I belonged.  Sometimes I even felt like the world would be a better place without me in it.  The teen years are hard.  As adults, we sometimes forget how hard teen life was.  We think that because we didn’t have the responsibilities of being a parent, maintaining a job, and/or creating a home, that life was easy as a young person and that adulthood is the hard part.

Life is hard.  No matter what stage of it you are in, there are stresses but there are also blessings.  As an adult, I have learned that life is also about finding and celebrating our blessings.  As a teen, I just didn’t have that maturity yet (though I’d never admit that at the time because how much more mature could I get?) to see the blessings through the strife.

When I was in grades seven through to nine, I participated in a “Peer Support” group.  This group was initiated at school because it was felt that teens are more likely to talk to other teens, rather than adults, about their problems.  If some of those teens had a little guidance on how to listen and when to get outside help (if someone was going to hurt themselves or others, or commit a crime), perhaps we could prevent some teen from possible regrets, or ruining their future, or maybe even committing suicide.  It’s a great program and I fully support programs like it.
While I was in this group, we were given a poem as part of our guidance training.  This poem has always been a favorite of mine and really helps me to refocus on the people around me.  Although it is not specifically about life as a teen, that is when it was most relevant to me and bears a lot of truth in how I was feeling.  Many times I wanted to ask for help but didn’t know how or even what to ask for or why I was even feeling the way I did.  Mostly, this poem let me know that I wasn’t alone.

The other day, I found this poem in some of my old papers and thought it would be a great thing to share with some of us adults who have teens.  Sometimes we struggle with them, forgetting the inner-turmoil their hormones, changing bodies, and developing minds creates for them.  Here’s a little reminder of what some of them may be going through.  Help them to find the blessings, tell them you love them, no matter what – even if they don’t see it now, don’t push.  They are listening, even when it seems they aren’t.  In time (possibly a decade), they will remember this lesson, even if they don’t remember that you taught it to them.
Take Care, D

By: Charles C. Finn, 1966

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that's really nothing,
and nothing of what's everything,
of what's crying within me.
So when I'm going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I'm saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I'm not saying,
what I'd like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can't say.

I don't like hiding.
I don't like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand
even when that's the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings--
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator--an honest-to-God creator--
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me
the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
With firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My family always enjoys the Easter Bunny's treasure hunt where the bunny leaves clues (picture clues for kids who can't yet read) to other clues with a couple little treats to eat along the way.  All these clues lead to the big prize at the end which might be a new video game, sidewalk chalk, a book, bubbles, or whatever the child is interested in at the time.  But what do you do to get ready in the days leading up to the event?
Here are a few great websites to find crafts to decorate the home, various egg decorating styles, and recipes.
Pop-up Eggs
Family Fun
Family Corner

Egg Chickens
Martha Stewart

From my family to yours, wherever you may be, Happy Easter!

Take Care, D

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