Monday, December 21, 2015

Allergy Friendly Banana Bread Muffins

I've made these Muffins for the kids several times now. They are always a hit and super easy to make!


Banana Bread Muffins

3 c flour
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/2 c coconut oil (melted)
1/2 c coconut milk
6 medium ripe mashed bananas
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, whichever you prefer, blend bananas until smooth. Add oil, coconut milk and vanilla until combined well. Slowly add in dry ingredients while mixing the batter. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins. Fill close to the top. Bake for 18-22 minutes.

Yields about 2 dozen standard size muffins.


(I also make these in Jumbo size (pictured below). It is 1.5 times this recipe and the baking time is 35-38 minutes. This Yields a dozen.)

Allergy Friendly, Vegan Snickerdoodles - Tastes like classic Snickerdoodles!

It's rare that I come up with an Allergy Friendly cookie recipe that actually tastes like the real thing. These are perfect though! And Vegan to boot.


Allergy Friendly, Vegan Snickerdoodles

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour (I like Gold Medal Organic because it has no Barley)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread (http://earthbalancenatural.com/product/soy-free-buttery-spread/)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs worth of prepared Ener G Egg Replacer (http://www.ener-g.com/egg-replacer.html)

Coating

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon


Directions

Whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl beat together buttery spread, sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add egg replacer and beat well.

Scrape sides and add flour mixture. Mix with a fork until fully blended (I tend to use my hands)

Mix together coating in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Shape heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and coat them in the sugar and cinnamon coating. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be puffed up a bit and settle while cooling. Allow to set for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to cooling rack,


Monday, May 11, 2015

To the kind stranger in Target

Dear kind stranger in Target,
    
      I know you probably won't see this, but I hope you do. Yesterday, you encountered my family in the shoe department at the Lisbon, CT. Target. The family with the load of children. You gave us $20 and I really hope you heard me say thank you as you quickly walked away. If you didn't, THANK YOU! Your kind gesture means more than I think you realize. I was almost brought to tears.

Let tell you about my family. My husband has been in the Navy for nearly 17 years. The income isn't spectacular, but we got by. We made the decision to have all of our children because we were able to adequately provide for them. But right now, our current circumstances are making that more difficult. They have their necessities of course, but it's just not easy.

The years of little sleep and abuse to my husband's body on a daily basis, took an enormous toll on his health. Between that and 2 substancial brain injuries (along with several concussions) his medical situation is quite a burden right now (seizures, PTSD, receptive and expressive aphasia, tinitis, anosmia, serious memory issues, anxiety, depression, hormone deficiencies, venous insufficiency, kerataconus, a torn ligament in his ankle the Navy never repaired, nerve damage, separated shoulders etc.) He is on something called "limited duty" while he receives treatment for his traumatic brain injury and other medical conditions he developed over his years of service. This means he lost a substancial chunk of his paycheck and things are rough financially. He likely won't be given the chance to finish his 20 years for the military retirement, as we had planned all along. I'm essentially his caretaker, because he needs a lot of help with things.
The unknown is scary.

We also have a son with severe food allergies, so there are certain foods we can't cut corners on. 

So thank you for your kindness. It means so much to us. You knew nothing about our family, but still chose to make an act of kindness in our direction. For that we are grateful.

Sincerely,
Sarah L.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Traumatic Brain Injury in the Real World

For those who are fortunate enough not to have sustained a very severe traumatic brain injury and do not have any outwardly obvious physical disabilities, there are still very tangible struggles.

When someone looks "fine" or "ok" and acts seemingly "normal", it's hard for people on the outside to really comprehend the struggles they are facing on the inside. I'll admit, it's even hard for me, the very patient and understanding spouse of a man with a moderate TBI to understand some days. And some days, truthfully, it's exhausting.

Only those who are the closest to them, really see the daily obstacles. Those on the outside have difficulty seeing past the initial observation. I have helped my husband through seizures. I have watched light-hearted conversation with friends or family take every bit out of him and him need to sleep after. I've watched him fight to hold it together while the normal daily workings of our household start to overwhelm him. I've watched crippling anxiety prevent him from being able to watch our daughter open her gifts at her 5th birthday party or seeing someone at the store sending him into a full blown anxiety attack and having to go right home. I've ridden the daily emotional roller coaster with him. I've held him through some really low, lows. I'm there to constantly remind of him things he can't remember... I'm kind of like his right leg. He could live without me and get by ok, but having me here to lean on makes it a whole lot easier to keep walking.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Traumatic Brain Injury affects our daily life, in more ways than one. From daily tasks to relationships. We all just keep on pushing forward though. In the ideal setting, such as the TBI program my husband was part of, everyone gets it. They understand that there is so much more beneath the surface. So much more. However, in the real world, there are individuals walking around recovering from brain injuries all around us and we don't even realize it. They have to navigate a brash, impatient, unsympathetic world, while appearing to be "normal", all while dealing with a brain that has it's wires crossed. There is no magic pill to just make it all start working right.

I think one of the most frustrating things for both survivors and caregivers is when people say "He looks just fine." or "She looks like she is all better now." Looking fine or better on the outside is not an accurate reflection of what's going on, on the inside. For me, I take comments like that very personally, because my children and I are here experiencing the daily struggles along with him. I feel that it not only minimizes what he is going through, but it minimizes what we are going through as well. This certainly isn't an easy road to walk for any of us. People see the smiling, maybe even upbeat man they are having a short conversation with, but what they don't see is the anxiety, sensory overload and often emotional unraveling that comes after. It's like he's holding his breath and just waiting until the conversation is over to relax and breathe. It's an inner struggle, which I imagine is partly comprised of pride, that makes him force a certain appearance with most people. Those who are the closest can see subtle differences despite that, but most others, don't.

My husband is still who he was... but he isn't. Some days I see a beautiful glimpse of our "old normal", but our "new normal" is what we are living with and we have come to terms with that. We appreciate the moments when he is able to be a little like his old self though. Even if it's something as little as getting through a shopping trip without having to leave abruptly because of anxiety or sensory overload. That little thing, is actually really significant to us. We definitely stay home more. He needs naps almost daily. He forgets things every day. He's here though, and mostly healthy. For that I am thankful.

Traumatic Brain Injury in the real world, to put it frankly, freaking sucks. The survivors need to know there ARE those of us who care and understand. All of us right legs... well, we kind of need that too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reflecting on 2014

2014 was not a good year for us. The last 3 years haven't been great because, well... Rotten Groton, Sea Duty and shitty people. But 2014 took the cake for being the worst. Our experiences this last year have taught us a lot about people, trust, relationships, betrayal and many other things. It has also made us realize just how solid we are as a family.

The year started, much like the last few, with my husband's presence being very scarce. His boat was preparing to go to sea, looming inspections, high level Navy visits and testing. Lots of stress from that angle, but nothing we haven't experienced before. It is the Navy after all.

Early in the year Wyatt had surgery.

We had our first child with stitches.

Declan swallowed his sister's little diary keys, while my husband was gone.

My mom almost died in the hospital.

Toward the end of the summer my husband accidentally crushed his foot.

A week after hurting his foot, my husband sustained a TBI.

We lost a large chunk of my husband's paycheck each month abruptly, due to him going on Limited Duty because of his injury.

On Halloween, I broke my foot. The base of my 5th metatarsal to be exact.

Friends have faded away.

Our dryer died last week and has yet to be fixed.

And more... but I suppose this stuff was the most notable.

My husband's TBI has changed everything and has dominated most of our life the last 4 months. This is something we'll be dealing with for a very long time and we are accepting that. This last year has tested us many times. We have persevered and we will continue to persevere. We are strong and only get stronger.

I have an amazing family. My children are amazing. My husband is amazing. The small group of friends who have stuck around through the tough times are incredible. 2015 has to be better. It WILL be better. We don't know what this year will bring as far as my husband's career or his recovery, but I do know good things have to be coming our way. You have to have the rain, to get the rainbow. We're just waiting or our rainbow.

Our hearts are bigger.
Our hearts are more full.
We are grateful.
We are resilient.

We. Are. Resilient.


Happy New Year