Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A wish come true

I always wonder about celebrities and the differences between their public persona and reality. I had the opportunity to find out for myself over Easter weekend when my family traveled to New York City.

To explain, let me share a bit of our story. In 2002, our youngest son, Nathan Griffin, was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. This is a very aggressive and very rare soft tissue cancer. Nathan had just turned a year old when we was diagnosed. He spent the second year of his life in and out of hospitals, fighting for his life through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Over the last 14 ½ years, he has undergone additional surgeries and dealt with the side effects of so much therapy at such a young age. Last year, I was called by the mother of a boy who we met all those years ago and she told us that she had nominated Nathan for a wish through Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish is an organization that grants wishes to children who are battling or are battling a life threatening illness. Nathan could not get a wish when he was going through chemotherapy because of his age, but he did qualify last year as a survivor.

Nathan’s wish was to meet the cast of Saturday Night Live. He had to be 16 before SNL would allow him to attend a show, so we waited and were so excited when our wish granter, Dennis Baird, called us and said our trip had been scheduled for April, 2017.



Over Easter weekend, Nathan, along with David, myself, and two of our other children, Rene and Tony, were flown to New York City to see a live taping of SNL. We felt so special when the limo pulled up to take us to the studio. After the show, we got a backstage tour and then almost the entire cast came out to give Nathan hugs, talk about theater (he is a big-time theater kid!), and sign the cue card from the cold open that says “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”. We were all amazed and a bit in shock. Next, one of the producers told us there was one more person who wanted to meet Nathan. Nathan’s biggest dream came true when Jimmy Fallon (who hosted the show) came out of his dressing room, along with Harry Styles (the musical guest). All of the celebrities who visited with Nathan were so down-to-earth, friendly, and truly interested in him. Jimmy spent a long time with Nathan, teaching him his signature moves and learning Nathan’s from him.





It was a magical evening as part of a beautiful weekend that was all planned and paid for by generous folks who donate their time and money to Make-A-Wish. The organization does wonderful things for children who have had to deal with so much more in their young lives than they ever should have. We are forever changed by the experience.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of a child, consider donating your time and/or money to Make-a-Wish!


It's a soup night!

David and I have been trying to lower the number of carbs we eat and we have discovered some very tasty dishes! Lately, the Dallas weather has actually been just chilly enough that we have used the excuse to make soup at least one night each week. Tonight, we made a fish chowder that was super good!



One of my favorite things about this chowder is that, like most chowders, you can really drop whatever you feel like into it. I'll post the recipe I used for tonight's chowder, but feel free to mix it up with different kinds of seafood or other veggies!

I usually use tilapia or cod in this but tonight I didn't have any, so I used imitation crab instead (which is usually pollock or some other kind of whitefish, so it worked). If you are trying to keep processed foods out of your lineup, you probably won't choose that route!

I used flour to thicken the soup, but I think I would change that next time around. The net carbs on this dish is 16, which isn't too bad, but I think I could have gotten it lower. Also, if you are looking for lower calories, you could double the evaporated milk instead of using the heavy cream.

Here is the recipe for tonight's soup - enjoy and let me know how yours goes!

Fish Chowder

320 calories per serving, 8 servings
16 net carbs

Ingredients:


2 T. butter
1 large onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 medium white mushrooms, chopped
4 cups fat-free chicken broth
8 oz. imitation crab meat (or white fish)
12 oz. cooked salad shrimp (or other seafood)
6.5 oz. can chopped clams
1/4 tsp. Old Bay TM seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can evaporated milk
12 oz. heavy cream
1 large head cauliflower, diced and steamed (if you want this in a hurry)
8 oz. clam juice
1/2 cup flour
2 oz. bacon pieces (optional)

Steps:

  1. Melt butter in stock pot. Add diced onions, celery, and mushrooms and saute until soft.
  2. Add chicken broth. Heat on medium for 2 minutes.
  3. Add seafood and seasonings. Stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream, and cauliflower. Stir. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Combine clam juice and flour in shaker. Pour into stockpot and stir.
  6. Heat until thickened and hot throughout.
Enjoy!





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Denying the reaction

I have not been really vocal outside of my immediate family and friends about the struggle I've been experiencing over the last year, and more deeply since November. I've done a lot of thinking these last few months and realized my silence, and the silence of millions of others like me, is partially to blame for the surreality we are living today.

My initial reaction, whenever I ponder a little too long on this, is a strong desire to retreat. To escape into the wilderness. To make real my strongest dream as a teenager, which was to move into a cabin in the mountains and never be seen again. Seriously. That was what I wanted. I even wrote that down my senior year and put it in a time capsule. I laughed when I read it years later after the time capsule was opened.

I'm not laughing anymore.

An introvert has the advantage of having lots of conversations happening inside their head at any particular moment in time. It is not a conversation with lots of voices, or a conversation with others, but rather a conversation with our own self. Living in solitude, then, is less stressful for me as it might be for others who need social interactions. Don't get me wrong - I would not be able to live in solitude indefinitely, but a monthly or bi-monthly trip into town for supplies would be enough to get me through the next month.

I could not leave my family, though, and that is what keeps me here. That, and something my pastor said to me when I talked to him about this pull. He said that he had no doubt that living in the woods would be what I needed, but it wasn't what the world needed. He said that if I did leave society, I would also be taking Elaine, and everything she contributes, away from society.

I don't have any illusions that the world, or even my local community, would miss Elaine that much. I don't believe that I hold within my brain the gift of something big. I do see his point, though. By running away, I would not be facing the challenge. I would not be joining forces with the brave folks who stayed behind. I would be doing nothing to make things different for anyone but myself.

Can't get much more selfish than that.

So in this blog post, I am making it official. I am denying the instant reaction and sticking around. I am focusing on what I can DO, rather than how I can COPE. I am being VOCAL instead of being SILENT. I am LOSING some friends and I am MAKING new ones.

I know that I will be labeled because I live in a society where labels are the first thing to come off a welcome wagon. I've never been such a part of this society that labels stick.

I apologize in advance for those labels littering the ground behind me as I brush them off my shoulders.

I know that some people will tolerate me, but think differently about me. I expect it, and I acknowledge that is a part of their defense mechanisms - handed to them in small doses by society from the day they were born.

I apologize in advance for not giving a damn what they think.

I know that some people will feel threatened by my opinions, as they are threatened by others like me.

I will not apologize for who I am.

Peace.