Sunday, October 21, 2012

Re Post: "Where Are the Pink-Sprinkled-Donuts?"

This is a reposting of one of the most requested essays on this Blog.  Since it was written 2 years ago, it has become buried in the archives.  The only way to revive, was to repost.

The Sunday following Nate's Celiac diagnosis, I realized we were going to need a new routine to our Sunday mornings. In the past, we would show up for choir rehearsal with Papa, and walk the gardens around St. Ignatius. An hour later we would head in for Mass, leave mid way for Children's Liturgy of the Word (C.L.O.W.), return to Mass, and then afterwards head over for the pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkled-donut. Rick, my husband and Nate's papa, would take time packing up after choir and track us down in the community center amidst all of the other sugar high youth bouncing between the tables.

How do you tell, at three years of age, that what was the post-mass highlight was no longer in the diet? We were still trying to get across the "yucky-wheat" story and making connections to how his tummy felt sick and would soon feel better. Sitting in the community center amongst the gluten laden feast with no options was the equivalent to rubbing salt into a wound. For myself, personally, I loved the apple fritters, but I could do with out, and preferred to survive the morning minus the all-out temper-tantrum and hundred averted eyes that I predicted would occur if we could only look at pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle donuts.

About three years later, Nate suddenly asked about the pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle donuts, "What ever happened to them?". I had so successfully changed our family routine, Nate had forgotten the experience of the community room and donut feast. Our first couple weeks, we "remembered" an extra special treat that we had packed in the car.  One week, having forgotten to get a special treat, we made a rare trip to the store on a Sunday. (I have a long standing tradition, since college days, of not shopping on Sundays in the hopes that my avoidance would allow others a day of rest.) There in the natural food section, we chose between dry cracker cookies and rice cakes with tamari flavoring.  Not much of a "treat," but at least we were distracted.

Those early days were hard. My community of support was sitting on the long cafeteria benches often talking of the three "P's"; parenting, prayer, and pregnancies. I longed to join my friends and catch up on menu ideas, park trips, and how to live through the preschool years. My needs for community were as lean as my gluten-free dinner menu ideas.

Whether it was from sheer will or exhaustion, I had no tears to shed, yet I was quite sensitive to eating gluten items in front of Nate, or taking him to activities that were based around gluten food item. In those preschool years, I could not find any local sources for gluten-free donuts and just gave up the search. Fast forward to Nate's inquiry for the disappearing donuts, and I turned to the newly expanding internet to check out more national resources for donuts.

Typing a Google search, "gluten-free donuts," up popped Kinnikinnick. ( Double click on the website, and there appeared a Canadian gluten-free bread factory that featured six different varieties of donuts; maple frosted, chocolate glaze, vanilla glaze, plain, cinnamon sugar, an chocolate frosted. No pink-frosted-rainbow-sprinkle-donuts, but more gluten-free choices than I imagined possible.

But would these taste like sawdust? I ended up ordering one of each, plus bagels and pizza crusts. At this point, Nate was wanting to go to Coffee and Donuts because his Cub Scout buddies were all climbing on the chair racks and chasing each other around the hall. This sounded like the epitome of boyhood fun. The donuts arrived and we feasted. We opened all of them up, tasted each variety, declared them all good, and decided the cinnamon sugar were GREAT! Together we re-packaged the donuts into individual zip-lock baggies and froze them for the coming Sunday and succeeding weekends.

Flash-forward to Sunday, mass was complete, Nate came running up to ask if he could run with the other boys, AND could he take his donut to eat with his best friend Sebastian? It's one of those moments that I snapped with my magical memory camera . With all the hard heartache of what seemed to be constantly saying "no," this time I was able to offer a yes. Nate's beaming face, bright cheerful eyes, and appreciative grin are etched in my mind forever. Gone were the toddler-tantrums, he now understood about Celiac and being gluten-free.

Nate would have gladly gone to donuts and had nothing while playing tag around the benches, yet the socialization amongst our church friends was so much more enriched by a simple sugar donut.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Changing Times for Catholic Celiacs

In our local newspaper, in the food section of the paper, there was an article that mentioned that Catholic churches offer low-gluten wafers.  The article was short, only about three paragraphs.

I was shocked, surprised, and thrilled.

I've known that Catholic churches in the area offer low-gluten wafers, but I was surprised to see it in print and thrilled to know that that there are others receiving in our neighboring churches.  How far the church has come since Nate received his First Communion.  Catholic Celiacs were just being welcomed to commune following Cardinal Ratzinger's, (now Pope Benedict,) approval of the use of the low-gluten wafer.  Just a few months after Cardinal Ratzinger's invitation, Nate received his first Eucharist.  No more worry of controversy nor the fear of excluding Nate from receiving and possibly ostracizing him from his faith when he reached adulthood.

Since that time, we have met with some priests that get it, and others that have mistaken the crispy little low-gluten wafer as a potato chip.  One memorable experience was at St. Charles Boromeo church, the patron saint of those with stomach issues, and our son's confirmation saint.  The priest there, was so use to the low-gluten wafer, he even had his own stash and did not need our contribution.

Now, here in our metro area, the local Jesuit high school has 15 communicants that request the low-gluten wafers.  The remaining churches in the area number around a dozen, many which I recognize but never have visited.

At the very least, as those priests move on to new parishes, the acceptance of the low-gluten wafer will also spread through the community.  Spreading beyond our metropolitan area and into the farming communities and small country towns throughout our state.

I wonder, how the rest of the United States has changed.  This is our corner of the world, and in other countries they had long before the US, started using low-gluten wafers.  What about the rest of the U.S.?

Heaven-sent for the gluten-intolerant 

You know that gluten-free has gone mainstream when priests offer low-gluten Communion hosts at Mass. 

Eleven Portland-area parishes and three individuals order the hosts from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Mo. 

They're more costly than regular altar breads containing wheat and they require separate handling. And gluten-free hosts have been controversial because Eucharistic bread must be made of wheat and water to be considered "valid matter." 

But the Benedictine altar breads, made with water and wheat starch with less than 0.01 percent gluten, satisfy both Catholic Church guidelines and the needs of gluten-intolerant churchgoers. At Jesuit High School in Portland, up to 15 communicants have been receiving these hosts for the past two years, says Don Clarke, director of campus ministry. 

And those suffering from celiac disease are overjoyed. One Jesuit student's mom "started crying when she heard she could receive Communion again," says Clarke. 

Learn more about the Benedictines' low-gluten hosts. 

--Joan Cirillo OregonLive

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Slow and Steady: Growing up on a gluten-free diet.

Nate's growing!

It's incredible and very powerful for the shortest in his grade.  This past year, all of his former CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball teammates shot up and now tower over my five and a half foot frame, several are within an inch of hitting the six foot mark.  Nate, crept through half an inch in a year.  Very frustrating, especially when he attributes growing to eating correctly on his gluten-free diet.

Years ago, one of his indicators of Celiac Disease, was the sudden halt in growth.  Nate had had a steady growth cycle at the 50th percentile, and then within six weeks of weaning, Nate became very sick; loose bowels, grey-green skin color, and his little bloated tummy ballooned.  Over the next six months his growth started to slide from the 50th percentile to the fifth.  Not something a pediatrician wants to observe.  

At first, the comments from our pediatrician indicated that we were probably between growth cycles, just hitting a valley and would catch up.  Next visit we talked about how toddlers will become more active and run off all of their calorie intake.  The following visit our pediatrician questioned whether Nate might just be going through a fussy eating stage.  Pulling it altogether, Nate was remaining the same height and weight, just not changing with time; Nate will still eating great, lots of healthy dairy and grains (wheat), meat, veggies and fruit; none of it made sense.

After the diagnosis, Nate still did not grow; it took us about eighteen months to detox his system before any growth occurred.  I remember that while my friend's kids were outgrowing their clothes, handing them down to us, we were wearing-out Nate's clothes.  Shoe shopping was relatively easy; I could find a brand of shoes and buy two of the identical size, easily knowing we were not outgrowing them any time soon.  Flipping through pictures becomes difficult, as he wore the same clothes for almost two years, the only marker is the change of interest and the height in which he could climb.

Slowly the growth happened.  We have avoided painting a door frame that has been marked with the growth of both children.  Nate's, shows a steady inch a year, sometimes multiple markings in one year, to show that he had grown half an inch by mid year.  Come seven, a huge growth occurred, three inches in one year, maybe finally Nate was going to catch up!

Now at thirteen, Nate is at the 40th percentile marking, measuring just under five feet at 4' 11".  Coming from my family of six footers, I keep trying to tell him that most of them grew six inches in half a year; it comes all of a sudden and can be quite painful.  Impossible in Nate's mind.  He's never going to grow.  He is the shortest from the CYO team (basketball is not his sport any longer as it is not much fun chasing the towering teammates up and down the court.)  Nate wears the next-to-smallest robes when altar serving, which seem to always be available. Add insult to injury, Nate was charged a child's rate (ten and under) at our favorite Sunday morning buffet, even though he ate like a teenager, filling five plates of salads, potatoes, and bacon.  

This past week, having spent the week with Dad in California for the annual liturgy conference, Nate came back excited, he just knew that he had grown!  He, Nate, was able to ride the BIGGEST ride at Disneyland!  You have to be five foot to go on that ride, and surely I remember that their measuring sticks were longer than ours.  

Sure enough, standing Nate against the door frame, in the past six weeks, Nate had grown half an inch and now topped a hair over five feet.  Impossible.  A miracle.  This had never happened before, or so Nate was convinced.  Nate had grown in a month and a half, more than he had in the entire previous year.  One of the first things Nate blurted out to Sebastian the following Friday night, "I've grown half an inch."  Even Sebastian, who almost tops out at six foot, was shocked.  Friends since four year old Vacation Bible School, Nate and Sebastian use to stand within a couple inches of each other, now they look years apart in age.
Come Sunday, Nate serves again, I am sure that we need to arrive early, as we will need to try out the next size larger vestments, just with the hopes that Nate can move up.