Sunday 30 December 2018

A Vacation from Celiacs? Nothing is Impossible.

We Celiacs don't get to take a break from our disease, ever. Every moment, every hour,  every meal, every glass, every fork, every spoon, every cloth used to wipe the counter, every beauty product, every single thing that goes near our bodies, we have to think about, contemplate, read the label. Everyday all day everything I do, celiacs is a factor.

I never thought it was possible to go on a vacation from my Celiac Disease. I’ve never even considered dreaming about such a thing. I am not necessarily what you would call a dreamer, Celiacs fixed that. But I did! I did! I went on a vacation from my Celiac Disease. Fuck you Celiacs I showed you!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now, know that every second Christmas my family and I take a vacation. Why? Why in God's name would I take a vacation from my life? If you have to ask that question you are far too rich, and far too happy to be reading this blog, stop now. Go read philosophy or some other bullshit words of wisdom. But don't keep reading this if you don't think you need a vacation. Or indeed, that I need a vacation.
This makes me so happy!

These breaks every two years are the thing I live for. I love going to a Mexican all-inclusive, enjoying my family and laying in the heat of the sun by the ocean for days on end.  I have never however, been able to take a break for my celiac disease. If any of you remember two years ago, I struggled a lot with my celiacs on our vacation and ended up basically starving for a week. It's always been worth it though, it's always been great no matter what. So I have somewhat given up being able to take a break from my celiacs. Until now.

This trip, we found ourselves at the Iberostart Playa Mita , a stunning resort full of amazing staff members and awesome activities. Now this resort, in general has a better gluten-free policy  than most resorts. When we arrived, the concierge wrote me the same Celiac letter that I have gotten written at other resorts. Now, the problem at other resorts was that there wasn't really anyone who understood what gluten was even though they understood that I could not have it.  Most of the Chefs at theIberostar Playa Mita in Puerto Vallarta very much understand what gluten is.

They have icons on all of the menus letting you know if something is gluten-free or not, they also have these little signs above the buffet items which I was very encouraged to see. However, it wasn’t a fool proof system. The bacon was always labeled gluten free (as bacon is because God loves me the best), but the bacon tray was lined with white bread to soak up the grease. This makes the bacon very UN gluten-free. It was okay, I wasn't that heartbroken because I get a lot of bacon at home, I am Canadian after all. I'm fairly sure there is bacon in my shampoo. There is certainly bacon in my nail polish. This incident certainly made me worry that the next ten days were going to be a minefield of gluten avoiding panic. Not so...

The Iberostar Playa Mita in Puerto Vallarta has a secret weapon . His name is  Chef Aldo, and other than my husband and my children, he is my favorite person on the planet.  Between you me and the fence post, he actually edges above them a little bit, I’ll deny that to my family if you tell them. Chef Aldo was determined to give me a vacation from Celiac Disease. This Chef went above and beyond at every meal to make sure that my food was safe. He often stayed late to talk to my dinner chef, came in early to walk me through the lunch buffet, and more than once, made me a special meal or dessert. This was done quietly and charmingly to make me feel special without making a spectacle of me. It was pretty awesome. I don't know if Chef Aldo fully  grasped the hugeness of his effect on our vacation. He was so humble that most days it he just shrugged it all off. Maybe he understood the gravity of this situation the day I started to bawl like Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias when I tried to thank him for his hard work. Honestly, I'm getting teary-eyed right now talking about it. It was the most extraordinary gift I've ever received.
Me and Chef Aldo, the nicest man I know.

This was the best vacation I have ever had, not only because the Iberostar Playa Mita was a stunning resort, or that Vicente made the best margarita’s on the planet, or  because my family laughed together and played together and napped in the sun together. This vacation slipped ahead of all the other vacations we have had because one Chef, took the time to make my visit sheer perfection. So go, on your next vacation, go to the Iberostar Playa Mita in Puerto Vallarta. Ask for Chef Aldo and give him a hug from me, and tell him I miss him. Also ask for that passion fruit dessert, it was so good that I yelled curse words at him, then I cried because I am all class.
The Passion Fruit Dessert that I shall dream about each and every night.
The special Christmas Eve Desserts that Chef Aldo made for me.

My Christmas Eve Dinner buffet meal. Yeah, no starving for this Celiac!

Thursday 15 November 2018

This McBitch Just Redefined Fast Food

I need to start off with an apology, which is how I start off all my interactions with my priest. I haven't posted in what feels like forever, and I am sorry about that. I have some good excuses though, one that includes a arm/hand/tendon issue which has caused me to spend my summer in a lame ass brace and a sling. I never realized how much I clap like a toddler when I am delighted until it started to feel like my wrist was being tazed every time I tried. My laptop also crapped out which involved a bunch of googling and cursing at the blue screen of death that then turned into the black screen of death to punish me for having the audacity to think I had some level of control over technology.

After lots of acupuncture, cortisone shots, chiro, and swearing, the arm is feeling better and I'm going to try typing until it starts to hurt again.

Let's talk about fast food.

Fast food is all about convenience. It's a staple for quick work lunches, road trips and late night cravings. In general, I wasn't a fast food gal before my Celiac Diagnosis but I had my favorites. There are days that I would sell my fingernails for a Big Mac.  Man, I could crush a Big Mac like a snake eats a rat. Now, reader, this is very important, don't send me a recipe for a 'gluten free' version of a Big Mac because despite your best intentions and wishing IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME! Stop When I respond to you, I will make you cry....and it will be your own fault.

We all know fast food is bad for you right? Right? It's full of fat and sugar and ground up barbie doll arms or something...I don't know. We all know that, except for the people who have sued the fast food chains because they got fat from eating there three times a day for ten years. They don't get it but we do. That being said, people still eat there and if you eat there occasionally, it most likely won't kill you. So, most people take advantage of this occasional gluttony on overly scheduled days, on road trips and any day that mom runs out of fucks.

For Celiacs, there are few options for fast food. We technically can have the chili and the baked potatoes from Wendy's, the fries from Wendy's and McDonald's, and salads at most places. I say technically here because in a perfect world, (one that doesn't have any lip plumping videos on YouTube) Celiacs can go into a fast food chain and consume these items. In reality? These foods are not prepared with Gluten Free-ness in mind. Therefore, it is entirely possible that someone accidentally dropped a bun in the chili trough and/or, someone cooked chicken tenders in the fry fryer thus making it all inedible for us Celiacs. So what do you do?

You go to Freshii that's what. 

Someone told me about Freshii a while ago and I somewhat dismissed them because the thought of buying anything from somewhere that you can order and receive in minutes usually makes it non-Celiac available. However, a couple weeks ago, I gave it a shot and man was I happy about that.

I dread going to new places because I feel very uncomfortable being a pain in the ass. Maybe it's all my years as a server, ones that are peppered with memories of overly demanding customers who insisted upon the red peppers in their salad being cut at a thirty-five degree angle and yet completely square. This awful person actually exists and presumably is still out there, torturing restaurants far and wide. I don't want to be that person, and although I am gracious and charming about my food ordering, I don't know how much my attitude of gratitude makes up for my high needs.

 In general, my personality rarely makes situations better. I'm not working on this as a personal goal.


I walked into the Sun Park Plaza Freshii location with the same trepidation and wide smile I always use when approaching a new restaurant, asking softly about what options they had for me. There was no need to be worried. A lot of the menu at Freshii is Gluten free and anything that isn't can be made Gluten Free. The best part is that it's no problem for them to take things out or replace them with something else, because they make everything ....wait for it...fresh. Hence the name I would assume. I amaze myself with my intellect sometimes.

You watch the Freshii staff make your items and you can revel in the care that they take to make sure that it is safe for a Celiac to eat. The Freshii manger walked me through all my options and let me take several of the sauces before deciding. I had the Mediterranean bowl with chicken added on and it was amazing. I (once again) forgot to take a picture because when I get hangry, I can't really see straight but trust me, it looked just like the picture on the menu. Like exactly. I truly loved the whole experience and I'm so grateful that I get to have a 'fast food' option that is convenient and actually good for you!

I will be visiting Freshii ALL the time now. I'll be there on days where I'm; over scheduled, over tired, overwhelmed, hung over, underfed, under medicated, cranky, drunk, out of groceries, out of patience, out of time, and out of energy which is every single Tuesday since I gave birth to the first spawn fourteen years ago. So Freshii is a welcome change for this former McBitch, now I'm just plain Bitch, which, let's be honest, is accurate.

Thursday 24 May 2018

Mommy Decisions...The Ultimate Punch in the Throat

Oh Fuck You Lady and your little apron! I love the book and the lipstick, when do moms use those things? 

Motherhood is all about decisions. Despite their appearance at being small or insignificant, these decisions can have lasting effects on your life and happiness. One wrong move Momma, and you will pay! In addition, these decisions don't follow the rules of the universe. Every action does not have an opposite and equal reaction. Fuck that. Tell a toddler that they have to wipe their face and you will NOT see an equal reaction. Every action you make as a mom could have a thousand consequences, and you have no idea which ones will leave an indelible mark on your psyche. As mothers, we have to be able to predict, run scenarios like a pro-football coach and know, with Nasa like precision, what the result will be. Think I'm being dramatic?

Here's a scenario, for you doubters. You are at a party with your family, and (God Forbid) having fun. You want to stay forty minutes later. Forty fucking minutes. Ahhhh but this will have consequences. This decision sets your mommy mind on fire. This late bed time will lead to an extra feeding for the baby in the night and an extra diaper change too, are we out of diapers? Shit, we are running low for sure. Why did I make the decision to skip Walmart on the way home yesterday? Oh yeah, because I made the decision to let the kids fall asleep in the car. Okay, so back to the forty minutes, the baby may sleep in that extra forty minutes (which, let's be fucking honest here, is fairly unlikely) or will wake up exactly eighty minutes earlier than their already stupid 5:30am wake up. They will wake up that eighty minutes early, grumpy and tired, and most likely wearing a tea towel as a diaper. That puts tomorrow's play group in danger. How am I going to get the house vacuumed so the babies don't eat the dust bunnies? If I vacuum while my grumpy baby screams, I will feel like a horrible mother but the drowning out of the sound by that point might be welcome. Oh, and crap, the laundry is sitting wet in the washer, getting moldy and gross. I forgot to change it yesterday because I was trying to figure out what we were going to eat for dinner that wasn't baby mum mums. I will have to change it over tonight when I get home but if I do, it will for sure wake the baby who (because he was put to bed forty minutes late) will sleep so lightly that a fucking butterfly farting will wake him up, if I can actually get her to sleep, which most likely I won't.

I'm not shitting you people...this is very accurate.

And it never ever stops. Decisions to ask your tween to clean her room take the consideration of a UN negotiation. What to make for dinner that they will eat, what sport to put them in, what chore to give them, should I let them play video games for three hours when they've played outside for six? I DON'T FUCKING KNOW!

I've been a mom for over fourteen years now and I can tell you that I have never, not once, gone to bed and thought 'nailed it'. Because you can't. You can't win, you can't nail it. You can't. So stop trying. What you can do is make decisions based on your gut and know that they might be the wrong decision, and that it is okay. It is totally okay to fuck up being a mom. It will be fine. Trust me.

I want you to make one, very important decision. Find some mom friends. Kind, understanding, giving mom friends who admit to fucking up being a mom, won't judge you for fucking up being a mom, and who you can laugh about those fuck ups with. I have done such a thing, I have some pretty amazing mom friends. For Mother's Day weekend, we decided to take a night away in beautiful Canmore, Alberta and dear lord, it was glorious.

The main thing about my friends, is that they truly, give a shit about my Celiacs. Sometimes more than I do! Why? Because they give a shit about me, and that's an important point about motherhood too. Find people that put you first, not always, but when it matters. On this weekend, it mattered. My girlfriends found restaurants that I could eat at, no, not just eat at, but indulge in. They made it very clear that my Celiacs was a factor and those bitches weren't going anywhere that I couldn't go. See? Good decisions right? So, we arrive Friday night and get dressed for Tapas.

Tapas is my new happy place. It feels exclusive without being snooty, feels luxuriant without feeling pompous, and holds up it's ranking on being one of the best restaurants in the province. We were greeted by Niall, a charming, unassuming, sever who, through his constant attention, made it clear that his only focus was us relaxing and enjoying each other and the incredible things that Tapas had to offer. And man did they deliver. I wanted to eat everything Gluten Free that they had to offer but, I couldn't do it. There were simply too many choices. In addition, Niall knew almost everything I could have. I had the shrimp, the olives, the duck and the beets. I know, it sounds like a lot but because of the expert pacing of the meal, I didn't even feel like I had over indulged. The meal was, in a word that moms should never use, perfection. It was brilliant. Celiacs, you must go, you must relax and you must understand that they deeply, understand your disease and how to help you forget it for the time that you are with them. For me? Tapas was the best decision I could have made.

The Gambas

The Smoked Duck

The rest of the night can not be mentioned under the fifth amendment but really, it involved a lot of wine and laughter in our jammies.

For brunch the next day, we indulged at Chez Francois that offered me gluten free Eggs Benedict. Oh my heart, it was amazing. The service was great and the mimosas were delicious, if not a little pricey.

The afternoon was spent at Rapunzel's Spa. I almost get teary eyed at the level of care and love that we were shown at Rapunzel's. Four moms who all work full time, have two children each, handle sports, and dinner, and laundry, and school volunteering, and cleaning, and groceries, and laundry (yeah, I know I said it twice, it sucks that bad), and gardening, and travel, and paperwork, and annual passes, and baseboard dusting, and vaccination schedules (vaccinate people), and every other little (and big) decision, were given three blissful hours that were without decisions. It was such a precious gift and I, more than anything, reveled in the glory of watching my mother tribe get the spoiling, they so much deserved.

Dinner on Saturday was at the Hogshead on Canmore's main street. We somewhat stumbled across it as we were wandering around in the afternoon and we couldn't be happier with this choice. My friend Karin looked at the menu posted outside and noticed that they had Care Bakery flatbread  and, because she is a part of my Mom tribe, knew that I have a special place in my gluten free soul for Care Bakery products. We went back there after the spa, all shiny faced and weak-limbed and we were served by the charming Alex. She knew her gluten free stuff and made sure my food was safe and my wine kept flowing. This final meal kept the indulgence alive with Duck Fat Fries (yeah that's right, duck fat). I crushed the Alberta Meat Flatbread on the amazing Care Bakery dough and could not have been more content if I tried.
My Alberta Meat Flatbread
(Note that I had started eating when one of my friends reminded me to take a pic for this blog. These bitches have your backs too people!)

Our Mommy trip to Canmore was an indulgence for sure, especially for this Celiac. I have a hard time putting myself first. Sometimes it's because I'm a Mom and sometimes because I feel very uncomfortable when my Celiacs effects those around me. The thing that made it all the better was making the decision to allow myself to put me first and to allow my friends to put my Celiacs first.

It must be said here, that we did not leave our children alone with a bucket of chicken, to survive without us. We left our kids with our competent, amazing, husbands. These guys step up everyday and make our mommy lives infinitely easier and happier. There wasn't an inch of guilt or bitching  from the men in our lives about us taking the weekend, because we made good decisions there too. Thanks to our baby daddy's. We love you. As an extra bonus, this is going to be an annual tradition so you never have to think of another Mother's Day gift, ever. You...are....welcome.

I've made some really horrible decisions as a mom, and I'm going to do it again, and again, and again. That's okay. life is about mistakes, not about perfection. I am so proud of my Mother's Day decision to put myself and my mom tribe first so that we were in a better place to make mom decisions and fuck up in the year to come.

 There is no winning in motherhood, but our trip to Canmore was as close to that as you could get.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Nothing Says Love Like a Good Dose of Crabs

I stopped eating long enough for a picture.
Please ignore the sheen of butter on my chin.

Let's have a little chat about love. February is the month dedicated to love. This is due to the Hallmark invented, pressure inducing, overly commercialized, Valentines Day. Here's the thing. I'm over Valentines Day. Over it. I find as I get older, my wishes for sappy, romantic, over the top gestures wanes. I like getting flowers, I do, but really, at the end of the day, those fucking expensive roses are just going to sit in my house and rot. I guess it's that my priortities have changed. I'm more about experiences than stuff. So when my husband asked if I wanted anything for Valentines Day, I laughed my ass off. It was a hard no. Don't buy me some stupid flowers or overpriced chocolates. You know what we can do? Have a date night with lots of food and booze and just us laughing and enjoying each other like we do. 

So, my husband suggested we go for all you can eat crab and ribs at Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack because he knows I love eating shellfish with buckets of butter and a bunch of wine. If you would like to see the tumultuous history of my love/hate relationship with crustaceans, click here . 

Bookers has been in Calgary for about twenty years and it's shocking that Trev and I haven't made it there yet. It's located at the edge of downtown, near the river in a historic, hundred year old building. We booked through Open Table which is great because it has a spot to warn them that an annoying Celiac will be coming to ruin their shift. Trev also called ahead of time and felt very confident that they were on the ball.

The restaurant has a pub/sports bar feel so it's cozy and warm. We were a little bit early for our reso but they had no problem slipping us into a booth. We were immediately greeted by Karen, our server who was very knowledgeable about what Gluten Free items were available. There were a lot of options on the menu and I was happy to see it. However, I didn't go there to eat a burger. I wore stretch pants and a top I was willing to ruin with butter splatter so I could eat the shit out of some crab. 
Is there anything that says 'love' more than this?
Note: Trevor's drink is in the picture because I wouldn't put down my wine glass.

The All You Can Eat dinner was $56.95 per person and this changes according to the current market value. It includes unlimited ribs, sides and (of course) crab legs. We had the coleslaw for a side and it was awesome. Trev started with the ribs but I was all crab all day. He said the ribs were great and although I could have them, I wanted to leave maximum room for crab. After we ordered, the General Manager, Falyn dropped by the table and made sure I knew what BBQ sauces I could and could not have. She even gave us a history of the restaurant and the story of the original owner and his daughter which is also a story of love.

Soon after that, and by soon I mean that I drank a glass of pino grigio, so like four minutes or so. Our first order of crab and ribs showed up. The next two hours is a blur of shells, butter and laughter as Trev and I celebrated our love with the least sexy meal you can eat. It's so us. At one point, a hunk of crab fell down the front of my shirt into my tiny push up bra. We both looked down, looked at each other, shrugged and muttered 'get it later'. This is true love people.
The carnage of love.

Karen kept the crab and wine coming and didn't even judge me when I asked for my fifth round (yes...of both). She was charming and professional and made the experience so much better. She's a better person than I am, I SO would have made fun of me. The crab legs were a great size and each order came hot and often.

It's a total travesty that Trev and I have not been to Bookers BBQ and Crab Shack before now but I promise you, it's now on my list of loves. So brace yourself Bookers and ramp up the crab inventory, this Celiac will be back to shame eat herself into a coma very soon!

Sunday 7 January 2018

What a Beautiful Picture of your Dinner Party! Why am I not in it?

Something troubling has come to my attention and therefore, I must address it.

Let's offend people shall we? 

It has become apparent to me over the past few months that I have not been invited to events because of my Celiac Disease. 

It's true. 

At first, I disregarded this issue as sheer self involvement. I quieted my inner Trump-like baby voice by reminding myself that it isn't always about me, (and, for good measure, I reminded myself that climate change is a thing 

But quickly, the little voice of hmmm, that's strange, turned into, what the actual fuck? As I have noticed more and more facebook updates, instagram posts, and hearing stories of activities that I was not included in, that I am being excluded.  These are events and activities where friends have gotten together at restaurants, had dinners, and enjoyed time together. Friends that I would certainly invite if I had such an event.

I know what you are thinking, Laurie dear, is it possible that you are just an asshole and no one likes you? Indeed, this is certainly possible, because as we all know, I am an asshole and frankly, don't care if someone doesn't like me. However, might I point out that on other occasions, and over many years, I have spent quality time with these people and they often seek out my company when something isn't involved. That something is food. 

I've discovered through masterful levels of detective work, plying people with booze and threatening their lives, that I am not invited to these events because people often find it stressful and/or time consuming to serve me or find somewhere I can eat. 

This hit me like a truck. It was a shock and to be honest, I'm kind of hurt. No, I'm really hurt. However, I must look inward at what I have done to bring this on for myself. After self reflecting on my own bullshit, I have to examine that, through this blog and other conversations I have had with people, that I have given the impression that there are requirements for hosting me. This was my mistake and for that I apologize. 

The posts I have done on hosting Celiacs, cooking for Celiacs, and eating out with Celiacs, are for information purposes only. They are not demands! For fucks sakes, of COURSE I'm not making demands or insisting that the world cater to my bullshit disease, that would be incredibly selfish of me. However, reading back over my posts and thinking back over conversations, I can see how you could misinterpret my intentions. Please, please, I am begging you here, do not think that I insist upon you feeling put out, overwhelmed, (or even shittier) resentful, that you have to host me and therefore, avoid doing so to reroute any feelings of fear, or inadequacies. 

It makes me sad that people feel like this. 

As I've written before, I often think about my Grandma's now infamous line when she visited people and they immediately apologized for the state of their house, and/or calibre of  their meals/offerings. She would smile and say clearly, "If I came to see your house, dear, I would come when you weren't here." 

I remember Grandma Teresa saying this when I was young, too young to fully understand the impact of it. Now, as an all grown up Mom (who still doesn't understand what a pension is or how taxes work), I GET what she was trying to say. It was her way of politely saying, I came here to see you dumbass, not to judge you. YOU are the important thing, not your dust, your mess, your carpets, your food, your And really, that's the most validating, loving thing, you can say to another human being. It's not what you offer me that matters to me, I'm just happy to be with you. How beautiful is that thought?

And that's how I feel. I am always, just happy to be with you, not your I know this is hard for people to wrap their heads around because so much of our culture is centered around food. No one, and I mean no one, has an event without food. Shit, even the criminals on that 'Lock Up' show create meals for other inmates out of noodle bowls, tampons, and toilet water so they won't get shanked in the showers. Food is a major component to our society. We celebrate with food, converse with food, watch TV shows with food. For fucksakes, we even mourn with food. When someone dies, what do you do? You run to the kitchen and make a casserole, that's what you do! Even if you hated the dead person, you make the fucking casserole, because that's who we are as a society. 

I completely understand. I am a fully integrated member of the 'serve your guest' cult. I get all squirmy and itchy when people refuse any service item in my home. What? You want nothing? Not even a glass of water? REALLY? Nothing? It gives me the willies and I immediately start thinking that the person has been invaded by the body snatchers.

I completely understand your desire to provide me with food and drink and strippers and anything else that I want to feel at home. However, for Celiacs, it stops being about the food. It stops being about what's on the table and more about who's at the table. 

I get it, it's hard to feed me. 

So here is a crazy thought. 


Don't feed me, don't try, don't do it if it's going to cause you to wish I wasn't there. Don't do it if it means that you don't want to invite me. Please. 

This disease is rotten enough without feeling like I'm excluded. 

I know that there are places I can't eat at, invite me anyway. I know that there are times when you make a giant meal and would love to have my family but you don't want to go to the cost and the effort of making it Gluten free, invite us anyway. Please. Don't exclude me (or dear lord, exclude my children from enjoying a delightful, warm meal) because of my Celiacs. Just invite us. Tell me ahead of time that there will be Gluten in everything. I will bring my own food, I will eat the plain chips and the veggie tray and I will revel in the glory and joy of spending time with you.

So please, I beg of you, invite me to the restaurant I can't eat at, invite me to your dinner and gluten the shit out of it, invite me to everything because my Celiacs is MY problem, not yours. Let me be clear, I'm not pointing fingers or being passive aggressive. Don't apologize or make a big deal about it, just please start inviting me to anything you would like me to go to, and forget about feeding me. If you don't actually want me there? That's okay too, because sometimes I'm an asshole and not everyone is going to like me and I don't particularly give a shit. I am who I am and if you don't like me, that's not my problem, it's yours. Grandma taught me that too.

But if you want me there and my Celiac disease is holding you back? Please invite me anyway because I notice when you don't and it hurts my feelings.

Remember, I spend time with you because I love you, not for what you can offer me.