Friday, April 29, 2016

We've Seen This Before

The grocery store Josh works for is Fairway. It's catch phrase is "like no other market". It's based in New York but they have a store in Connecticut and a few here in New Jersey. They feature specialty foods that are hard to get elsewhere. They also sell alcohol. The most common comment I hear when I tell people Josh works in their cheese department is "I love that store! It's just so expensive! I usually only get something nice there if we're having company".

"Like no other market". That's the problem. In our area, we also have a Whole Foods. Most people here consider them the same type of store. Fairway doesn't think it's anything like Whole Foods. Few people do their primary grocery shopping at Fairway. If you are looking for organic, you do your primary shopping at Whole Foods. On average, most people go to Shop Rite or Stop N Shop for their primary grocery shopping.

Last week they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The specialty foods are nice, but they don't carry enough of the every day foods to be that store where customers can do their primary shopping. Some stores are closing. As of now, Josh's store is being restructured but not closing.

We've seen this before, almost 12 years ago. The teacher's chain of stores we worked for was struggling. Originally, they said they would only close the stores that had been open within the last five years. One of them was the store Josh was the general manager for. That started in July of 2004. By October of 2004 they announced ALL stores were closing. Yup, right before our October 2004 wedding we got this news. Now THAT'S an interesting way to start a marriage!

I was the Assistant Manager at the nearby store. Ironically, the location of that store is now where the pizza place is where Josh works his second job. That retail space has been good to us. That second job has been a lifesaver as the grocery store goes through necessary changes. Hours are being cut. Pizza delivery makes up for those lost wages. But, we've see this before.

Fairway might be saying they won't close all of their stores. It's a ticking time bomb for the stores out of New York. There is a cost to doing business in multiple states. Multiple state laws to follow. The Connecticut and New Jersey stores aren't going to survive this. The corporate office is trying to make it work for stores like Josh's. But what they are doing is the retail equivalent to putting bandaids on a leak in the Hoover Dam.

Josh has been job searching but now he's treating it like Fairway has already closed. He's working very hard. We've seen this before. We've seen coworkers leaving in high numbers because the end is near. We've heard and said what retail associates or clerks say when their store is closing and the Corporate people aren't being honest about it. We've seen this before. We know what to do. We know what's coming.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Forced Garden Makeover (edit: Zach's Garden Pictures)

There are times I really hate living in a condo. The condo board has the right to decide what I can put in my garden. They can tell me what to do, but I can't do anything to defend myself against their bullying. The current board is full of selfish, unreasonable idiots who let the power go to their head. A neighbor they don't like has something, suddenly, rules change. In this case, no more pots in the garden.

I used to use a lot of pots. There were logical reasons for that. But, you can't let logic get in the way of trying to force a neighbor from getting rid of something you pettily don't want to compromise on. Let me be clear. I don't live near any of the board members. I'm not their target, just one of many innocent victims.

I use pots for the following reasons:

1. They are moveable so the landscapers can do anything they want to do without trampling and damaging my flowers. This happens every year when my bulb sprouts are out

2. More flowers fit in the space that way

The reason I was given for the change is vague. "They want things more uniform". Nothing can be uniform just by the way the grounds are set up.  My Mom is the owner and she talked to the building manager. He explained that "the board wants it to look more like other garden condos".

She had a nice comment on that "the gardens make it more homey. People who live there like that. I don't see why you want to change that." When she explained to him about how I felt targeted he replied with this:

"Oh no! She's not being targeted. A lot of people will have to make this change. We have a lot of people who grow tomatoes in pots and things like that".

I don't grow edibles. The bi-laws state that you can only plant things that improve the appearance of the property. I only plant flowering shrubs, perennial flowers, and annual flowers. I can understand wanting to specify that edibles don't improve the appearance of the property. But, then it would be more obvious that a board member is targeting their neighbor. Only about three people grow edibles in the entire place.

It's the management company's responsibility to do basics like plant in empty spaces and grass seed. A few years ago they tried that. They planted dead shrubs in a drought and didn't water. They are in the process starting last year of removing those shrubs. There is a large percentage of the grass with holes in it. They put down seeds in the heat of summer, and don't water. That makes the problem worse. What they really need is sod then water.

Their second goal is to get us gardeners to do their job for them. They want us to plant permanent plants. Filling the spaces so they don't have to. I played that game and like my new layout. I'll post an update in the fall when we plant daffodil bulbs.


                                        Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily

                       Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily

Marigold    Marigold    Marigold   Marigold    Marigold     Marigold      Marigold   Marigold

The pots by the stairs will remain whether they like it or not. I have complied with everything else they asked but I will not be a hostage. They aren't doing their jobs. Those pots stay until we have almost completely hole-free green growing grass. By next year it most likely won't be a problem anyway.

Zach is very upset about his pots having to go to Grandma and Pop's house. Plants are just now trickling into nurseries. His decorations will have to go to the garage. That's where mine had to go. He'll have the below layout

Forsythia                                                                                                Azalea
                   Hosta        Hosta        Hosta        Hosta        Hosta             Annuals


These are some perennials I have planted in the past. I'm planting a new daylily and have planted Daisies in there too.

Hostas and more Stella D'Oro Daylilies planted a few years ago

Tiger Daylily and Daisies

Daisies, Stella D'Oro Daylilies and Angel Daylilies. The pot with the tree is from winter. It's going to my parent's house today

More Daisies, an Angel Daylily and a Stella D'Oro Daylily

In the front is my Walker's Low Catmint and the back is Autumn Joy Sedum. Their bloom times are great. I recommend the pairing.

"Pardon Me" Daylily. In mid to late summer it will bloom red

Yesterday I spent four hours battling with rocks and roots big enough to need my hand saw to get the Daylilies and Marigolds planted in my garden. I am bruised and sore. In all, planting took 7 hours and that's before we get the daffodil bulbs. To be fair, Zach added an hour but it was worth it.

My frustration isn't really about the garden makeover. It's petty to nitpick over flowerpots. My anger and frustration is bigger than that. I know we will never have a house of our own. I try to make this condo nice so that won't be as painful as it used to be. God has his reasons for not wanting us to ever have a house. But, stuff like that makes it harder to be okay with never having a house of our own. How can God expect me to be okay with never getting something I've always wanted if I am not able to make my current home FEEL like my home?

It appears when it comes to this garden makeover, God has a plan too. On Tuesday the presidents of the SCA in our school asked me to chair the committee for the school's sensory garden. I didn't volunteer for it this year so I'm still learning about it but I agreed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Responsible Gun Owners

One phrased used in the gun rights versus gun control fight is "responsible gun owners". But, no one seems to actually specify what that means. We all have our own definition.


adjective re·spon·si·ble \ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl\          

Simple Definition of responsible

  • : having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone
  • : able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required
  • : involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to
That's how Merriam-Webster defines responsible. So how does that translate into gun ownership? Sometimes I read an article about something that happened with a gun and the title will sarcastically refer to the owner as "responsible". My first thought is always "actually, there are probably even other gun owners that wouldn't consider that being a responsible gun owner".
I always say I'm not against gun ownership if the owner is responsible. So recently I asked myself. "What do I actually consider responsible gun ownership?" I started by thinking about the people I'm comfortable with owning a enforcement and members of the military, current and former. Both are trained in how to properly use and store a gun. But, law enforcement is a great place to start because they are most likely to be in the same places the civilian gun owners go.
Most people say they carry a gun for protection. Cops carry guns for protection too. Cops are highly unlikely to ever fire their weapon outside of the shooting range. Yet they sometimes face dangerous situations. What makes a cop responsible is that they only shoot when it is literally the only option left. Irresponsible gun owners are more likely to shoot first. Meaning, some people die unnecessarily.
Want an example? I have read stories where a parent killed their own kid because they thought he or she was an intruder. If they had looked first, their child would still be alive. Looking first is the difference between being a responsible gun owner and an irresponsible one.
I have seen in multiple places a police training program for civilians that advises us to "run, hide and fight." That sounds like good advice to me! Few people are actually targeted for outright murder. What most people mean when they say "for protection" refers to situations when someone starts shooting without targeting a specific person. That's where this advice is worth following. Run and hide. If the shooter isn't aiming, you are less likely to get hit. However, shoot back if they start aiming where you are hiding. That makes sense to me.
having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone - Responsible gun owners who work in law enforcement or are in the military.
able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required - Responsible gun owners try to resolve the situation without anyone getting hurt.
involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to - Responsible gun owners don't "shoot first and ask questions later". Part of making a good decision is to think before you act. Review the situation first. Can it be handled without firing your weapon?
So it turns out my definition of a responsible gun owner is actually pretty simple. 
1. Storing the gun properly
2. Reviews the situation and tries to handle it without using their gun whenever possible. 
3. Only shoots when that is literally the only option.
What kind of gun control do I want:
1. Mandatory background checks. They really don't go that deep with background checks. 
2. No guns for anyone with a history of violent crime including those left out in some states like domestic abusers and sex offenders.
3. Mandatory permits including firearms use and safety training
4. Conflict/Resolution training on the same level law enforcement receives

5. Regular recertification

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Breaking My Silence

We are poor. Both of our parents help but we have been applying for government assistance in multiple places. Every time I read or hear a comment against "moochers" I want to punch that person.................HARD.................somewhere that won't be forgotten and might leave a scar.

Our problems can be directly traced to Republican policies or Republicans obstructing bills that would improve our situation. I haven't talked about these experiences because I didn't want to deal with the ignorant people that think all of our problems magically go away if I "get a job". Uninformed stupidity from strangers, friends, and family that refuse to listen when I say it for the millionth time...............I CAN'T WORK BECAUSE OF MY SEVERE ANXIETY DISORDER.

I don't owe anyone an explanation. I'm tired of the ignorant refusing to listen to me. I can't respect people who think like that. The only people who truly believe me are those that have seen my "bat crap crazy" days. Days that happen when I am under too much stress.

So the comments started "why don't you apply for disability?" So I did. Last June. The ignorant yet judgmental think it's easy. In addition to a mountain of paperwork on our income, I had to include multiple doctor references, a written explanation including examples of why I can't work, and a specific date I couldn't work as of.

It was easy to get my primary doctor and Psychologist to write their recommendations. They both strongly feel like there isn't a job that I can handle. The hard part was a date. I selected the date that Sylvan basically laid me off. It was when I was 12 weeks pregnant in Zach's high risk pregnancy. But, nothing magical happened on that date. So we were denied.

In the meantime, last year and this year we do receive tax subsidy on our health care plan through the NJ exchange. But, that required jumping through a lot of hoops too. This year, we had to apply for Medicaid too. It was required because of our shaky household income from last year.

I literally sent everything we had. They required a note from me specifically saying I don't earn an income. Taxes from 2014, W2s from last year, everything and it wasn't enough. After weeks of getting a generic message that they still haven't received everything needed, I emailed an angry note. It highlighted our financial information including the facts that Josh started at the pizza place in June and the grocery story in July. I ended it saying "I have nothing else to send call me with what you need and I'll give it to you". I included my number and got the call. When I clarified the months Josh started his jobs in, that's all they needed. You read that right, it was in the note I sent that had my number on it and they STILL needed to call. Two months later, they had what they needed to make a decision. Zach was uninsured for two months.

We qualified for Medicaid but maintain the health exchange plan too. Few doctors take Medicaid. It's under the name "United Health Community". At least that's less embarrassing to say with strangers behind you.

Someone says the word "Medicaid" and everyone looks up at the poor person. The same way you can't stop looking at a car wreck or a fire. If you don't like tax money going to help families like mine, pay enough so these services aren't needed!!! VOTE DEMOCRAT AND WE DON'T NEED TO LIVE OFF YOUR TAX MONEY!!!!!

Our need for help reached a new low today. My parents agreed to pay for us to join the town pool this year. But, we have to apply for the assistance the town offers first. I expected they would require proof of income so I brought my tax document with me. It turns out in addition to that they need two things. One is the W2s. Okay, that's understandable. The other is a written referral from "the school nurse, a member of the clergy, a social worker, etc..........".

For the town pool!!!!! I understand wanting the tax form and the W2. That's proof of income. But, I can't understand the required referral. Why am I being forced to tell yet another person of our income status? Why is it their business? Why is that necessary? To embarrass poor people? To make more unnecessary work for poor people? There is literally no good reason for this requirement. The tax form and W2 protect taxpayers from fraud. This step is pure and simple harassment.

I have been against applying for SNAP benefits. My Mom volunteers at a charity and is certain we would qualify. But after all of these experiences I don't think I can do that again. We do have the budget to pay for groceries. But the help would make a difference. I have been against it because I get judged enough.

It might just be a regular card these days. But, I have read too many stories from those who receive benefits. Always judged no matter what they are buying. Forced to hear the comments from strangers in line about how they are paying for that person's food. Healthy, unhealthy, it doesn't matter.

I don't want to be judged for every non-essential purchase I make. I don't want to be judged because I wear necklaces and our clothes don't have holes in them. We can't afford smart phones and it has crossed over from something that "would be nice" to an actual necessity for us. I get one haircut a year and this year's is a Christmas present from Josh's parents. Our AAA membership is the most important annual Christmas present we could get and it's from Josh's sister. One computer. Circumstances most people couldn't understand or live under themselves. Yet we already get judged for every penny we spend. It's no one else's business. Yet others feel like it's okay for them to decide if they approve or not.

Well, it's not your business. No one in NJ is raising the minimum wage to $15. Too many are not voting for the politicians that want to hold the rich accountable for the income gap and want to close that gap.

So I made my Mom a deal. She has to do all the research into what it takes to apply for SNAP benefits. She also has to physically perform all of those steps in real time. I told her I am only willing to put a very small amount of effort into applying for SNAP. If they won't need much, I'll apply. If it requires what Medicaid required, I'M OUT!!!

But, for the first time, she will experience that it's no where near as simple as people think it is. It's easy to say the steps. It's very different to do them. There is also all that unspoken judgment I talked about. Frankly, I can't take it anymore.

But, it's easy to harass the poor in America today. Few fight for us. Few don't judge us. Few make life easier for us. Most harass us. Most judge us. Most make life harder for us. We are trapped in our circumstances. Trapped needing help we don't want to need. My silence it broken.

I have a dare for everyone that judges the poor or thinks of us as "moochers". Don't just look up what the steps are to apply for all types of government assistance. Actually do all of them in real time. Too much work? Thought so. It won't stop you from burying your insecurities in judging those who actually do those things out of necessity.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Stain Remover Battle

So I have this dress.

I got a few stains on it probably from cooking. It's most likely canola oil. The stains haven't been there that long. So I started with the stain remover we always use, Oxiclean Max Force. Usually, it works very well at getting stains out. After spraying it I find I have to scratch at the stain until the count of 25. But most of the time that works on the first try.

When that didn't work I used what my Mom always uses. She likes the Carbona Stain Devils. They come in different formulas for different stains. If you know what made the stain, it works really well.

But that didn't work either. We use Purex laundry detergent. So the next logical step for me was to try their stain remover called Fels-Naptha. It was weird using a bar. However, it wasn't that different then when I scratch at the stain anyway.

When that didn't work, we went with the one that says on the bottle "1st time results on tough stains". It's Resolve Max. I did scratch at the stain like I do with Oxiclean. I didn't want to give Oxiclean an unfair advantage.

It didn't work either. But, I tried it on a stained shirt and it didn't work on that stain either. The Oxiclean took care of that shirt. It's a case of exaggerated advertising. So we tried one last thing.

Nope, Shout didn't work either. It even says "Set-In Stain Scrubber" on the bottle. Another case of exaggerated advertising.

However, you can't see the stains unless you are up close and looking. I love this dress but only wear it around the house anyway. If I really wanted the stain out I probably would have to take it to the cleaners at this point.

In the future I would probably stick with the Oxiclean Max Force. We've used it for year and I've seen it get out some pretty impressive stains. It worked through Zach's baby and toddler years. I liked the other cleaners and each one did work a little.

I wouldn't get Shout and Resolve again because of the exaggerated advertising. I don't like encouraging companies to do that. They did work a little. But, they didn't follow through on their promise. I liked the Fels-Naptha bar and the Carbona. I would use them again if Oxiclean has trouble. But, I'll still start with Oxiclean.

Note: I have not received anything from any of these companies to try their products. I am a customer looking for a product that works for something I need. They were all bought at the same grocery store. I am sharing the results because I know there are a lot of people like me that might be interested in the results. This isn't an advertisement.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What California And Texas Have In Common

Okay, I know I can go a lot of places with this one. California and Texas have a lot of things in common. I highly doubt what I'm about to write about is on the list that came to mind. I'll give you a hint. It has something to do with nature. Did you guess that they both have a desert in them? While that's not wrong, that's not what I'm thinking about either.

For both, there is something I learned about in school that to this day scares me. Natural occurrences that no one has control over. That's the part that scares me the most. The part where nothing can be done to make them stop! I'm scared of the normal things, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, tsunamis, volcanos erupting, and earthquakes. . But it's possible you've never heard of what this is about.

California is shifting. Earthquakes shift the plates that make up the earth's crust. Slowly, they are moving. I wasn't afraid of California sinking. I was worried about what would happen if it became an island. At the time, we were learning about what the earth looked like when Dinosaurs lived. Back then, it was only one continent. It's through these plate shifts that the continents became what they are today. They are still moving, what else will separate?

Much of California does lie along the San Andreas Fault, an 800-mile fracture in the Earth's crust stretching from the Gulf of California to San Francisco. California is not going to fall into the ocean. However, Los Angeles and San Francisco will one day be adjacent to one another!

This research has removed my fear of California becoming an island. However, I don't know what to make of the image of San Francisco and LA being adjacent! Overall, I don't handle change well. Even though this will only minimally effect my life, it's a major change in the world as I know it. That's one of my top causes of anxiety! It's an odd cause of anxiety, but that's why its strong enough to be a severe disorder.

What about Texas? What silly thing am I being overdramatic about for Texas? Killer bees!!! They are actually called "Africanized Honey Bees". I've always been scared of bees. Killer bees are more aggressive. They stay angrier longer and the whole hive attacks instead of only some of the hive like with European Honey Bees. That makes them scarier. They might have entered through Texas, but they are moving. I feared one day being stung by killer bees.

What are the visible differences in Africanized Honey Bees and regular honey bees?

There are no differences visual to the naked eye. That means that the only way to determine that a particular bee is an Africanized Honey Bee is under the microscope. That is why suspect bees are sent to Texas A&M for identification. If the media reports that someone was stung by killer bees, you should be suspicious. AHB's might be responsible, but there is no way of knowing by the deadline for the ten o'clock news. The only way to determine whether the bees were AHB's is by the use of laboratory equipment and a computer. This usually takes days, or sometimes weeks. To read about how to submit sample bees to Texas A&M for identification, click here, or call them at 409-847-8771.

Killer bee attacks are so much more aggressive because when a killer bee hive is disturbed, the entire colony attacks. By comparison, when a European honey bee hive is disturbed, only about 10 percent of the bees will attack.

So did researching killer bees help relieve my fear like researching the California Andreas Fault line did? Not at all. It's hard to not be scared of bees that are angrier for longer and attack in bigger groups then the other bees you are already afraid of.

So what do California and Texas have in common? What does the Andreas Fault line and killer bees have in common? Uncontrolable natural events that scare me. That happened sometimes when I was in school. It makes it hard to watch the news now. It's been over twenty years since I first learned about the California plates and killer bees. Yet they remain on my mind. Josh's brother and his family live in California. I worry about what will happen to them and their home as the plates move. What about the people in Texas? Even if the death rate from killer bee stings are low, it has to be a scary experience to be stung by an entire hive of very aggressive bees!!! Anyway, I hope you learned something about nature!!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Peace Of Silent Darkness

As a child, I was blessed to know a blind man. Now, I have a friend who is deaf. It's a blessing too. I have known a large variety of people. People from different countries, different religious, gay and lesbian people, and people with different disabilities and medical conditions. I consider myself blessed for knowing all of them. I learned early in life to be interested in learning about the differences. They are all wonderful people. But, this time I am talking about two specific wonderful people.

My Mom's mom worked at an organization for the blind. I forget the name or her title. But, I remember a party we went to there when I was a kid. It was probably her retirement party. Grandma always had a big heart. She grew close with a nice blind man while working there. I think he worked there too. When she came for holidays and celebrations, "M" was with her.

I used to bring him things. As he held them, I held them too. While we held them, I would describe them to him. I remember once I poked holes into a paper writing a nice note for him. Of course I never knew braille so the letters were like the ones in this post, not in braille. "M's" dying wish was for my Grandma to marry him. She did before he died.


My deaf friend teaches sign language in New Jersey. I know very little sign language. Because of that, we mostly communicate through a dry erase board. A favorite hobby of his is photography. It's a great hobby all around. Anthony is also a NY Giants fan. There isn't a lot we can talk about, but there doesn't need to be. Our dry erase conversations are about happy thing. Anthony loves children and children love him because they accepted his deafness, his language, and his deaf culture. They view Anthony as a friendly and caring deaf role model in their communities across New Jersey.

Anthony has a cochlear implant. It provides him with a sense of sound. It doesn't restore hearing. But it helps him get a representation of sounds in the environment and helps him understand speech. It required surgery but improves his quality of life.

"M" was and Anthony is a very happy person. Both were/are very well liked. They were/are peaceful people. It's not easy when not all of your senses work. Sometimes, people forget that you can't see or hear and act like you can. How many times a day did "M" have to remind people to describe things to him because he was blind? How many times a day does Anthony hand over his dry erase board with the words "I'm deaf write it down, please" written on it? I send my prayers to the blind and deaf people of the world! Whether your world is silent or dark, I hope it is full or peace!!!

American Foundation for the Blind:

National Association of the Deaf:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Path To A Moment

Almost three years ago I wrote the below blog post. Its one of my more personal ones. At the end, I talk about a vision I had about a future moment. The post overall is mainly about finding myself watching Zach. Trying to preserve memories of him in his every day routines. Fleeting moments that don't mean much at the time but memories I want to hold onto forever.

But, I also talked about this vision I had.

"A couple of days ago I was walking by a field in town. It's a town field for the junior league (Middle School) that does football and baseball. It was night and I decided to detour on my walk and instead go hug my parents. On the way there, I saw that field. I found myself pausing and envisioning something else. Zach, eight years from now, standing on the pitcher's mound pitching. Another vivid image. An image that ever since has made me hold on to the images I am seeing now. Playing outside will mean something different then. I will be watching then as I do now. A parent never stops watching.......and remembering."

He's started his path to that moment tonight. Tonight, he had his first ever baseball practice. It's a rookie league. No score and the coaches pitch. But, it's a start. With his asthma Zach found he doesn't like soccer or basketball. He likes watching football but hasn't shown an interest in wanting to play. A lot of kids play baseball in this town. I wanted him to have this experience. The kids who end up on that town field............most start right here.

My very smart Mom used to tell me "young kids try a lot of activities but older teenagers usually settle on just one or two they like and become more serious about them". She's right. We try to expose Zach to a lot of things now. Because when he's a teenager and finally finds that passion, I don't want him to be left behind. I quit dance when I was in middle school. I started back again three years later. Even with it as my major, I never caught up. That weighs heavy in my mind. I don't want him to be behind in something he's passionate about.

He was scared of starting baseball at first. We both had anxiety about it all day. But he felt better when he grabbed his gear!!! I felt better when I saw who his coach is! A dad I had befriended from Zach's tutoring program!!! We both relaxed and Zach loved it!!! He's started the path to that moment. A moment that could realistically happen!!!

I'm still watching Zach. Trying to remember the little moments and the big ones. Zach likes hearing the stories of those moments. He has favorites he wants us to tell him all of the time!!! He catches Josh and me watching him and says "why is everybody staring at me?" With a big smile on his face. I still watch him, It still makes me catch my breath, and it's wonderful.

Monday, March 14, 2016

2 Years Before 9/11

Yesterday, I found my High School year books. I graduated in 1999, the year of Columbine (see below). I was quiet and shy. There were people in my class of 119 that I never saw until we were in our caps and gowns! I heard and saw a lot of things but wasn't part of much.

While going through the pictures of my classmates, I came across two boys I forgot about. I know one is Muslim because I remember him talking about Ramadan once. The other one mentioned family in the middle east in the yearbook. I'm pretty sure Waleed is Muslim too.

1999, two years before that day. Back then these two boys were like the other boys. They were treated like the other boys. They had friends. No one would use the word "radical" to describe them.

On 9/11 I had dinner with a Muslim friend. I will never forget her anger over what happened that day. Yesterday, I started thinking about how life changed on that day for those two boys. I haven't seen or heard from either so I really don't know. But I'm going to take a guess.

My guess is that since that day they run into some people that continue to treat them like everyone else and others that wonder if they are radical or not. I can't picture either being radical. They never complained about America back then.

It made me think about what high school would have been like for them if we were the class of 2002 instead. I still don't think either would be a threat. But, I do think some people would pay more attention to make sure they didn't become a threat.

That's what really changed. 2 years before, no one would have paid more attention to see if they were a threat or not. After 9/11, people pay attention. Even if they relax after determining there is no threat, there are people that look into it first. In 1999, a few Goth kids made jokes that they would be more closely watched, but they weren't. Possible threats were determined based on behavior not religion or personality type.

We will never forget 9/11. But, seeing those yearbooks yesterday made me think about how 9/11 changed the way some Americans think. Those two boys had nothing to do with what happened that day. We were college age so my guess is that on that Tuesday morning they were in class, doing homework, working, or hanging out with friends.

It's not right that airports suddenly got harder for them to go through. They aren't threats. It's not right what all Muslims have to go through in this country because of a small percentage of radicalized Muslims. When can we go back to treating Muslims like we did in 1999?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Selective Eating Dilemma

About a month ago I read about a type of eating disorder called Selective Eating Disorder or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It's in the DSM - 5 manual that came out in 2013. As I went row by row it was a long serious of "yup, that's me". As I thought more about my eating history, I came to realize this makes a lot of sense.

1. As a teenager I had to drink Farmland 1% milk. I tasted the difference between that and Shop Rite 1%. No one else could taste a difference. But at the time Shop Rite made me nauseous. This wasn't a one time occurrence. This went on for a long time. That is far from the first time I've tasted a difference between brands when no one else did. My senses are strong around food. Even today I can't drink the bottom 2 inches of the milk carton. It smells weird and so down the drain it goes. I taste a difference in that too. Even if it's before the expiration date.

2. It does lead to problems finding foods I can eat. Example, for the last few days everything I think of for lunch or dinner makes me queasy. I'm talking basics that you are supposed to eat to CALM a queasy stomach make me queasy! Along with things that could make a regular person queasy. Yesterday I cooked dinner and couldn't eat it. I ended up forcing myself through eating a sandwich for dinner. I will go without eating if I can't think of something that doesn't makes me nauseous.

3. Restaurants are hard for me. I only have a few I like to go to. In those places, there are only an average of two meals I like. You'd think it would make it hard for things like weddings and showers but what helps is that I LOVE Chicken Franchaise. That's almost always an option. It also helps that I LOVE Grilled Chicken Cesar Salad!

4. One thing the chart mentions is only having a few foods you like. I didn't think that applied to me until I really thought about it. I eat a large variety when my mom or I do the cooking. However, when it's made by someone else, there is a much smaller range. Luckily, I have a few favorite's from Josh's Mom. It's harder elsewhere, but at least my main sources of food have some options!

5. Yes, I do have anxiety over eating.

 6. I also have some disorders that could precipitate ARFID. I have General Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. They are severe enough to be the reason I medically can't work. I also have GERD. I have to take Ranitidine twice a day.

7. I did have issues eating even as a newborn. It started with birth.

8. I do have entire food groups I won't even consider trying. In other food groups there is usually only a small amount of variety that I'd eat from it.

Risk Factors for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

The DSM -5 notes a number of disorders which may precipitate ARFID, including: Anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may increase risk for avoidant/ eating behavior. Environmental risk factors for avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder include familial anxiety. Higher rates of feeding disturbances may occur in children of mothers with eating disorders. A history of gastrointestinal conditions, GERD ( Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), vomiting, and a range of other medical problems has been associated with feeding and eating behaviors characteristic of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. An incident of choking on food can precipitate ARFID (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Above is the article that first drew me to the issue. The chart is from that article. I addressed these above. It's a 100% match.

It's one of the reasons FitnessPal didn't work for me. Eating is already stressful enough. I have so many specifications it was taking forever to track my meals. That meant it didn't have everything I was using recorded. I never got accurate results.

When I order food, I often have at least two special requests. example, a cup on the side for the ketchup to dip the fries in. When I cook at home I am picky about what I make and what I throw out. I cut the fat off of everything but that also means meat goes too. When I am making blueberry yogurt, only the perfect blueberries get saved from the garbage can! These are just two examples out of many!

It's frustrating. Take the past two weeks. Josh is usually home for lunch. He works afternoons until closing. But we are tired of sandwiches, we've even changed the cold cuts we eat. Neither of us are in the mood for salads. So that means we've been having lunch out. Even then I just am not interested in anything. I can only get through half of the small meal!

My parents usually just have crackers and cheese. But that's the bedtime snack and we just need more in the afternoons. We theorized that most people our age either eat in a company cafeteria or get a quick bite at a deli or something. I asked a friend what he does. He works from home. He said he usually does a lean cuisine. I'll see if there are any options that sound good. But I like that idea!!!

ARFID makes it hard to eat healthy. I can't control what I crave. Sometimes, I crave Tostitos with melted cheese, reduced fat sour cream, and mild salsa. It has to be Ortega brand though. I taste the difference. Sour cream is an addiction for me. Doritos dipped in sour cream is a big no-no and a major craving!!! As a kid the only way I'd eat string beans was dipped in sour cream!!! You should see my potatoes!!! I add cheese then put the baked potato back in the oven to melt the cheese. I top it with sour cream, bacon bits, and scallions!!!

Great! Now I'm craving something with sour cream and have to make something very different for dinner. Lemon Garlic chicken with cornbread stovetop stuffing. The only stuffing I like is the Cornbread. ARFID really makes meal planning VERY difficult!!!! Especially when you have high blood pressure!!! The Hypoglycemia doesn't help either!!!The good news is I crave fruit sometimes.

I know there are other's like me. People are always commenting on it. I know it's hard to feed me. It's like Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory". Having specific places with specific foods for specific days of the week take the stress out of meal planning for him. That's what it's like for me. Planning certain meals for certain days of the week at certain times of year. To my mom, it seems unnecessarily restrictive. To me, it's one less thing to stress about.