If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Little Update

I haven't been feeling very well for the past couple of weeks. I usually "lose" about half of the month to terrible head pain, dizziness, and visual problems, but this last month has been really rough. I've still worked out every morning and we've been very busy so I've had to just suck it up, all the while feeling like I have an axe stuck in the top of my head. How sad is it that after 10 years of feeling like this, I still sometimes reach up searching for the offending implement?

I sat in church Wednesday evening, thankful that I didn't have to teach Confirmation during this head explosion, but feeling a little contrite. I looked around at all the people, seemingly pain free, some complaining about the length of the service and the songs that were sung and they just pissed me off. When I feel good, I want to work hard, help people, clean my house, hang with my kid, get out of the house (!!), and just be normal. And when I see someone complain about anything, well, it just makes me mad.

And then, I realized, I don't know what they carry as well. Appearances can be deceiving as I well know. How many people have exclaimed with shock when I finally reveal to them my health challenges? "But, you look so good!"* And, so I blew away the anger and got lost in the beautiful music of the evening. I settled in with my little family, during a time when we're normally not together in such a peaceful way.

My pain didn't go away. After ten years of this disease, I realize it may never go away. My doctor finally said to me last fall, this is probably going to be it for you. I've tried every solution, except for a shunt in my brain, which I don't fit the criteria for receiving. I weighed less than I was diagnosed, so, hearing from my doctor that my pursuit of healthier body is and only should be for my happiness has been kind of a zinger. So many old resources tout weight loss as the ultimate solution, but I have to rely on the expertise of my Mayo doc who informed me that recent studies are showing that it's actually the disease that causes the weight gain. So, maybe I can start feeling less guilty and upset with myself over that and just keep on plugging away. "Or," my fantastic GP said, "maybe you'd weigh like 400 pounds if you weren't doing what you're doing." "Um, thanks." And then I punched him in his stethoscope. I still adore him, mostly because he does say those sorts of things to me.

So, if you haven't heard from me or you're starting to wonder what's going on with my blog or our family one, I'm probably just avoiding the screen. My head can't take the glare. Positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated then! Thank you.

*"But, you look so good!" is a common thing, we sickos hear. Want to learn more about you can help people with Invisible Illnesses? Rest Ministries provides resources for caregiver, concerned friends/family, and support for the chronically ill. Their Invisible Illness Week in September has meant a lot to me. I don't go in for all the blind faith, but I'm not a blind faith kind of girl. But, their articles and devotionals have made me feel understood and comforted when I feel my worst.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Low Fat Banana Bread that Doesn't Taste Like Crap

I know. I KNOW, the title is really not appetizing at all. But, I've been searching for a decent low fat banana bread recipe for ages and this title sums it up. Really, it shouldn't have been this hard. Let me tell you, we've tried some pretty gross experimental recipes. This recipe is somewhat original, but with a little tweaking it suits us just fine. If you're watching your fat and cholesterol like we are, don't be afraid of the butter in the recipe. It's a small amount and much needed for flavor.

*Please note that Sam is in the background working on a Dakota Indian diorama. He went above and beyond what was needed for this project. I was so proud! He's taken to checking his grades online (way more than I do--I think I last checked in before Christmas sometime). He's become so responsible and talks to his teachers if he disagrees with a grade or finds an assigment that appears missing on SchoolView despite the fact that he KNOWS he turned it in. I guess my "be your own advocate" speeches worked! Sometimes, especially during these years, you need a little parental validation that you've done something right!


4 bananas, peeled and mashed (I just throw them in the mixer and let em whirl)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 TB butter, no substitutes
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla, no substitutes
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup egg substitute or 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg whites
2 TB applesauce (unsweetened is best, but use what you have)

Mix all until well blended. Place in a large loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • add 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  • dust top with cinnamon and sugar before baking or dust the pan after greasing with cinnamon and sugar

  • add raisins and/or chocolate chips and bake in a 9x13 inch pan as a snack cake (check after 20 minutes for doneness) Sam's friends love this.

  • make in muffin tins for better portion control, add streusal topping to wow and amaze your family

  • use leftover (if there is any) or double the batch and use one loaf for bread pudding

  • I LOVE toasted banana bread for breakfast. You need a toaster oven or use your regular oven, but it's yummy and delightfully different. The toasting caramelizes the bread. Top with orange marmalade... or not.

We always have unpeeled bananas hanging out in the freezer. We use them in smoothies, I bake with them (add to a cake mix, any flavor, with a little water and some egg whites and you've got a wonderful cake). They're a must have for us and a great way to use up the bananas that we don't eat before they start looking nasty. Freezing makes them look even nastier. No worries. The inside is just fine and the peel is the only packaging that they need to survive the freezer.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Singlehandedly Solved the Health Care Crisis During the SuperBowl

It's not a financial issue, it's a moral one, right? So, tax the Superbowl ads. You want a 30 second spot, well, you already pay a ton, so let's take a piece of each one.

Think about it:

2.5 mil per each 30 second spot times how many spots???? The ads will still cost you the same, they can't afford to try to charge you more, we just want a piece.

You could still have your little game. We really only watch the ads anyway. I mean come on, how can we sit and watch Bud Light spend that kind of money portraying hen picked men and not get a little pissed off and think of other ways such unbelievable amounts of money should be spent?

You can thank me when your MRI is free and you don't lose your house if you get leukemia. You can thank me when you don't have to have a spaghetti dinner to pay for your daughter's transplant.

This message brought to you by Olsons for You Deserve Healthcare Just as Much as I Do.

Honestly, I have to do something when the commercials aren't on.

What I've learned so far:
  • Go Daddy dot Com can run an ad, but an ad for a Gay man's dating service can't? Um, hello? I think Hooters has more class than this company.
  • Doritos are overpriced. They have to be, there's been an ad every commercial break.
  • There will be lots of kids in Haiti wearing t-shirts that say Colts SuperBowl Champs 2010
  • The Who still ROCKS

I'm very happy for the Saints, really I am. They deserve a little happiness there.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I cried my eyes out at church Sunday morning listening to the adult education speaker, Anne Gettis. Anne's son, tormented by bullies throughout his school years, killed himself at the age of 21. She barely made it through her talk for a number of reasons. Her grief was the first reason, but the parents in the audience wanting to chime in and share their experiences was another. Obviously this is a very relevant subject for many parents and we'd like to see Anne return.

It was amazing to listen to the stories from many of the parents in the audience.

  • One who's kids are now in their thirties, talked about how being bullied resulted in terrible depression in her kids.
  • One who is now homeschooling her 5th grader because her son's bully harassed him to the point that he would no longer attend school, nor did they want him to.
  • One who sided with the bullies stressing compassion and sympathy.

I've always said, the naughty kids have more rights than the good kids. Young One had been bullied by a kid several times. This kid choked him, scratched him, and punched him in the nose. The school's response? Sam had to go to the discipline office which made him feel like he was in trouble and at fault. I was told this was just so that Sam could tell his side of the story, but this experience was more traumatizing than the bullying itself. He thought he was in trouble and he was treated as such. All the other kids thought he was too. The "ooooohs" as he left the classroom were almost unbearable to him. When he cried when interviewed by the school discipline administrator, they suggested he see the school psychologist. He was scared and scarred and in second grade. I politely told everyone involved to go to hell (not quite, but I was a mad mother bear) and then said that they should never speak to Sam again without one or both of his parents present. We haven't had an issue since. Sam still remembers this as an extremely traumatic event in his life.

And the bully? Well, I caught him stealing lunch money from kids while on an orchestra field trip two years ago. He hasn't changed and obviously, nothing much is sinking in with this kid. I should have reported him to the police, but once again, when I brought this to the school's attention, it was swept under a rug. "Let's not make too big a deal of this" I was told

As a parent, with the very limited conversations I've had with school administration about their policies, I've been made to feel that they feel helpless too. Schools are so afraid of law suits that I think they're afraid to make a stand. So, they write policy after policy, establish discipline plans, create "friendship circles" and none of it works. Policies are rarely followed to completion because they rarely get parental involvement from the bully's side. Bullying rarely happens in front of teachers or administration and kids are afraid to tell because it often makes the abuse increase.

I mentioned to the class at church that all seven of my Confirmation kids had been bullied at one time by one individual at their school. I told them how I got to meet that particular child face to face. Sam needed to bring his bass in to school for one of his teachers to look at. While I was waiting, a young man repeatedly raced down the halls laughing, cursing, and shooting rubber bands at other kids. None of the teachers I spoke with paid any attention to him. Sam came out, bass fixed, and I asked him, "Who's that kid, " and he named him as the very kid that all of my Confirmands had complained about. One of the Deans was in the hall and I asked him why such behavior was tolerated. "Oh him, " he said, "We can't do anything with him." He shrugged his shoulders and then quipped, "He's supposed to be in detention."

I find myself starting sentences like this all the time and I hate myself for it, BUT....

When I was a kid, this behavior wouldn't have been tolerated. I'm not advocating the paddle that Mr. Emerson used on kids when they misbehaved. I'm asking for accountability, though. And I'm asking for the district to take a stand on behavior. Why should kids who behave well have less of a right to an education than those that don't?

We do a disservice to the bullies for allowing them to keep getting what they want through this behavior. Either they bully their way through life unsuccessfully or they hit huge brick walls when they find out this doesn't cut it in the real world. Imagine what would happen if the kid who choked Sam in second grade tried the same behavior in a business meeting? Imagine what would happen if parents of the victims called the police and reported assault rather than letting the schools continue with their politically correct policies.

It's a complicated issue. I was approached after I spoke at church about joining a task force to try to figure out if we can play a role in assisting our young members who are challenged with this issue. There has to be something we can do. Our kids face bullying on a completely different level than we did. Cyberbullying has become rampant and commonplace. And it's even worse than anything we can imagine.

I hope I can make a difference. I remember being bullied by the Mean Girls when I was a kid. The teasing, the exclusion, the downright cruelty, it was very difficult. If I could help just one kid it would be worth the extra time.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!