Monday, December 31, 2012

Make a Plan and Stick to It

This was my first Christmas since my diabetes diagnosis. I'll be honest . . . I was worried about it. I had to make some decisions. It seemed there were four options:

Option 1) Do no Christmas baking - no sugar cookies, no cinnamon rolls, no pies - and refrain from fixing other high carb dishes, such as potatoes, pasta salad and breads, so there will be no temptation. 

This option was quickly eliminated. This disease is mine. Why should a whole family be obligated to eat on my restricted diet? How fun would THAT be? I couldn't help thinking about our son, Chris. He's the one who is "King of Allergies" in our family. From the time he was very little, he had to say "no" to so many foods that everyone else ate - poultry, fish, nuts, CHOCOLATE!, to name a few. I was always very proud of him. He never complained or pouted about the things he couldn't have, even at birthday parties, where everyone else was eating German chocolate cake. If there was an alternative available, he'd eat it; otherwise he just did without. He is a great model for me. I refuse to make everyone else around me, especially my grandkids (they are the true "sweets" in my life), miss out on the joys and traditions of holiday foods.

Option 2) Bake as usual and eat whatever I want. 

This one was even more ridiculous. Sending my blood sugar into a dangerous range is foolish and self-destructive. That's the kind of thinking that could get me into serious trouble.

Option 3) Bake as usual, for everyone else, and totally abstain, myself.

The abstinence method, sounded good, initially. But upon further consideration, it was flawed. To begin with, I knew I'd feel sorry for myself and would probably rebound with some sort of furious eating binge when no one was looking. But even if I kept that reaction under control, how fun would Christmas be for everyone else, with a "martyr" looking on from the end of the table? Nah! Bad, bad choice.

Option 4) Bake as usual and plan ahead to eat a small portion of a few selected items.

By a process of elimination, this seemed like the smart and family-friendly way to go. Before the kids came, I baked the reindeer cookies and froze them so they wouldn't tempt me. While they were here we baked sugar cookies, and Clara got to decorate them; after all, we HAD to leave a plate of sugar cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve (the kids always leave a carrot or two for the reindeer, as well)! Christmas morning I baked cinnamon rolls and served them with chilled canned peaches. Christmas dinner included potatoes, our traditional pasta salad, hot baked bread and, for dessert, both cherry and pecan pies. Everyone was happy, and the family traditions were maintained. I planned ahead to eat half of a cinnamon roll for breakfast (no peaches), half of a baked potato with dinner (no bread), and a small slice of cherry pie for dessert (never even tasted a cookie); and I stuck to my plan! My blood sugar levels rose to 155, following dinner, which is higher than I like, but not too bad. And by the next morning my fasting level was back to a super-low (for me) of 107 - success!

And, if there was any doubt left in my mind, Clara's Christmas gift to me, a handmade bookmark, clinched it. Here are front and back photos:

Cookies, cake, measuring cups (?)

"Thank you for letting me bake with you! : )  I did (do) miss you."  Awwwww. I miss you, too, Clara!

It appears that "Grandma" and "baking" are strongly connected in this little girl's head, and I would NOT want to mess with that!

I survived my first Christmas with very little stress or drama, and now I'm confident that I can handle future "foody" celebrations.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Holly Jolly Chirstmas

Here is a series of photos showing some of the fun our family had beginning Friday evening, Dec. 21, through the wee hours of Wednesday, Dec. 26. Having Nanny and Tim here would have made it perfect, but it was still a wonderful Christmas. Dan and I will soon be traveling to New Mexico for a second Christmas with the two who were missing.

This little face melts my heart!
Chris and Clara, building a paper airplane launcher
Launching the first of MANY airplanes. I found them everywhere . . . even
stuck in the branches of the Christmas tree.
We went to the Nature in Lights display, on the shore of Lake Belton.
Sunday morning family picture.

Kelsey and Clara on the Christmas sugar cookie assembly line.

Building the gingerbread train and train station.

All finished!
Christmas Eve - Clara and Robert, after their bath, in their Christmas PJs. They
had a cup of cocoa and a Christmas cookie before watching Polar Express.
Christmas morning. Nanny was with us via Skype.
Clara with her favorite gift - an Easy-Bake oven from her Bia and Pawpaw.
Robert with the many wheels he got for Christmas. I've never known a more "car-centric" little boy!

"I see you, Grandma!"
The carnage.
Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, straight from the oven.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Surprise Visitor!

Look who came to our house this evening! He was just putting finishing touches on his Naughty-and-Nice List, and was happy to find two of the Nice Ones here. He promised he'd be back tomorrow night, with another present or two, after everyone is sound asleep.

"I'm THREE years old."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reindeer Cookies

I can't take credit for this idea. I found pictures of similar cookies on-line. The on-line version was made with peanut butter cookie dough, but since a special someone in my family has a peanut allergy, I made mine from my old stand-by - snickerdoodles. Having done so, though, I would NOT recommend using snickerdoodles for this project. Per directions, the chocolate chips, M&Ms and pretzles get stuck into the cookies hot from the oven. I ran into trouble because the sugar/cinnamon coating crusted over rapidly, making it hard to push the decorations, especially the pretzles, into the dough. A number of my reindeer lost their antlers in the cooling process. I'm pretty sure that peanut butter cookies would have been easier to work with. Still, they came out pretty cute, and I think a couple of grands will enjoy these reindeer - even the ones who have shed their antlers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Tis the Week Before Christmas . . .

. . . when all through the house
Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings are hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that the grandkids soon will be here!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The town of Glen Rose, TX, is home to Dinosaur State Park, where we met up with family for our Thanksgiving Day feast. Glen Rose is a small town, with a population of less than 3,000 people. In the early 1900s it was known for its mineral springs and the healers who set up shop there. During prohibition it was dubbed the "whiskey woods capital of the state," for obvious reasons.

As we drove into Glen Rose, this whimsical sight greeted us and made us wonder if we had taken a wrong turn and ended up in a much larger and more glamorous city!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Needed: Mail Carrier Training 101

I ordered two gifts for Dan for this Christmas. I waited patiently for their arrivals, making sure to beat Dan to the door every time the doorbell rang, just in case it was a delivery person with one of his gifts. I was afraid that the package might reveal what was inside.

The first gift arrived a few days ago, and I successfully received it from the UPS carrier and secreted it away. But the second gift was taking its sweet time in transit.

Yesterday, just as we sat down for lunch, the doorbell chimed. Dan started to get up, but I stopped him, reminding him that it could be a Santa delivery. I went to the door, and there stood the mail carrier. He gave me a big smile and, as he handed me Dan's Christmas gift, he jovially and loudly announced (reading the words on the box), "The world's coolest rain gauge!" My eyes grew wide; I quickly put my finger to my lips and gave a frantic jerk, with my head, back toward Dan, but it was too late. As they say, you can't un-ring the bell. The mailman looked contrite as I snatched the box from him. I closed the door and ran to hide the "surprise" in the closet.

Back at the table, I tried to nonchalantly sit back down and eat lunch with Dan, pretending nothing had happened (the ostrich approach to an awkward situation). But he wasn't going to let it go. "What did he say?" he asked. "Oh, nothing . . . nothing," I said. "How's your sandwich?"

We finished our lunch and, as I was clearing the table, I tested the waters . . . "It's a good thing I didn't let you answer the door," I said, "because the box had a picture and words that gave away the contents."

"Yeah," he responded. "A rain gauge." I'm no good at these kinds of awkward situations. My face gave it all away; I just caved, and we both laughed. I'll still wrap it and make him open it. He'd better pretend to be surprised! Hopefully I can keep his other gift a secret for 20 more days.

At this time of year the USPS should give mail carriers some training in Christmas discretion!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Race Widow

(As written by my ghost writer, who shall remain anonymous)

I never knew how much Dan enjoyed car racing until 1983. We were living in Salem, Oregon and early in the year he asked me, “ If I have the money, can I go to the Formula 1 race in Long Beach again?” He had been in 1981 and 1982 and enjoyed it immensely. Now we were a little short on cash and I really wanted him to stay home this year because I missed him when he was gone on his racing trips.

I replied, “You can go if you don’t have to take any money out of the checking account or our savings.” I felt safe because where was he going to get the money. He walked over to the bookshelf and took the 1982 edition of the Autocourse annual. He opened it, turned it over and began to shake the book. Before he was done, over $300 fell out from between the pages. He tricked me! Since last year he had been skipping lunches and treats to put aside $5 or $10 dollars as “book markers” waiting for the day to ask about going again.

He went again and was witness to the last Formula 1 Grand Prix ever held in Long Beach. After that, it looked as though he would never be able to see another Formula 1 race in person again as we lived too far from Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit, and Indianapolis for him to ever be able to go again.

The years passed and he was content to watch on television. His favorite activity was to wake at 4:00 AM on Sunday mornings to watch the European races live. They would finish about 6:30 AM, more than enough time to get ready for church. He would tell me about the drivers and I especially enjoyed learning the names of the Finnish world champions (Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen, and Kimi Räikkönen). He introduced me to the BBC America program “Top Gear” and I became a fan of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, the presenters on the program. The more I learned of seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, the more I liked him and he became my favorite.

We had already decided, after our retirement, to move to Temple, Texas. One day shortly after our decision, Dan came home and excitedly told me that they were going to build a new racing circuit in the Austin, Texas area and hold the United States Grand Prix there. Austin is about an hour’s drive from our house.

The rest, as they say, is history. They finished the circuit, now called the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), and Dan bought his tickets the day they went on sale. On November 16, 17, and 18 he and some friends attended the first race at the new circuit. The wait was 30 years but he got to go again.

I asked Dan to get a picture of Michael Schumacher. Red Helmet driving a Mercedes.

Zoomed-in crop from photo above. You can see Michael Schumacher better in this version.

Dan early in the morning, day of the race, at his seat.

View from his seat, turns 3, 4, 5, and 6.