Judiac affiliations have been at the top of the conversational roster, as we bumped through the past few weeks. And, as per my usual methodology, I'm now going to take the slowest possible route to explaining this. Sorry.
It's been a busy time for us, kickstarted by a bleed in the Eldest. He slipped on some snow en route to the local kosher butcher (early closure, snow day), and twisted the muscle in his calf. It swelled, pain developed, and he spent the next ten days getting friendly with ice packs, the futon and super high doses of his clotting factor, sometimes once, sometimes twice per day.
One re-bleed and a lot of chorused 'get offa that leg!' later, he had a day off from factor. And was irritating to his brother for the nth time. The Toddles thought it over, and promptly socked the kid in the eye. Hard. In the kitchen, I tried not to cheer and reached for an ice pack.
That night, the Eldest and his socked eye and his recovered leg went to bed, noting that he thought he might have a paper cut - his finger was a little sore. (This is where we see it coming..in hindsight, at least.) The next morning, the finger and part of the palm were Michelin-man swollen, and we were back to 2x/day factor.
Explanation: there's not a lot of room in the finger for blood, and if there's enough pressure, it can do nerve damage. So you don't mess around too much, though you can treat it at home.
But here's the interesting bit: come Monday, two blessed days before the end of the leg bleed, I realized I was absolutely fed up. It took until 9 am to get everybody dressed, breakfasted, and poked with needles, and then I realized something very simple: the Eldest could go to school. Truly.
At that point, he was recovered enough to hop carefully, and certainly to crawl, so all that would be needed would be some way to get him through the halls, from classroom to lunchroom, to gym (oy, gym). Feeling my blood pressure rising at the very thought of another day with the kid at home, I suggested the stroller. The Eldest suggested that perhaps he was in too much pain to go to school. Especially in the stroller.
By 11 am, the Eldest, the Toddles and I were standing grimly (excepting the Toddles, who was investigating the neat new toys) in the lower school dean's office. I'd called and warned them, and we were going to find non-stroller options. She suggested a winner: a red office chair. the Eldest climbed in, sulked, and she spun him gaily through the halls towards his class. Several middle schoolers caught their cues and spent some effort admiring the child in his chair. The Eldest refused to be moved, and sank down in his seat, scowling. Feeling guilty and under-a-rock-ish, I scooped up the Toddles and left.
That night, I asked the Eldest about his day and (what I was privately calling) the Red Chair of Humiliation. He didn't want to talk about it, so I pulled out my ace: Let's call L., I said.
L. is a big guy in the small boy-with-hemo world: he's all of 14 yrs. More importantly, he's a sweet, thoughtful kid who really enjoys making time for his younger blood brothers. Truly, the kid's a gem - and he was home when we called.
You talk, Mum, the Eldest whispered, shyly. So I did, with the Eldest feeding me my lines. I explained the situation, described the Red Chair of Humiliation, and was told to ask L this:
do you ever feel shy, or embarrassed or different because of your wheelchair? or crutches?
I caught my breath. There it was, the big question of being different. L considered this, and said,
Yeah, sure. At first I was worried about coming to school with the chair, or my crutches, but then I realized that my friends thought it was cool. And they were happy to help me out with things, so that was okay, too.
The Eldest thought this over, and whispered 'thanks.' His face looked like it was considering a smile.
In my exasperation, I had missed an important point in classroom politics: now that the first few months were over, the kids had gotten past the initial stages of adjusting to each other and to the classroom atmosphere. Now, they were testing the limits of the rules, and relaxing, but they were still fairly focussed on conformity and categorization. The limit-testers were, by and large, working in groups, and the children were dividing and redividing their social groupings by shared interests and temperament. Having aggressively pigeonholed each other (he's the fastest runner, he climbs on the furniture with me, she's the one who the teachers always like), it was clear: same was good, known was good, but was different? It remained to be seen.
The next day, I found the Eldest outside his classroom, laughing and bouncing in the R.C.H. It had been renamed, he informed me, to the Throne, and he had been decreed King of the World. Difference, apparently, is good.
Things That Rise Bread
I've been working on this bread for some months now, and am delighted. One batch makes two generous loaves (or 1 loaf, 12 muffins.dinner rolls), and I often pour a little extra into a loaf pan for a small flatbread. That's my going-home snack for the boys on Friday, when everyone else has left class with a hunk of wheat and egg challah. Best of all, it really rises!
2 cups rice flour
1.25 cups potato flour
.5 cup tapioca flour
.75 cup teff flour
3 tsp guar gum
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (check box for warning re:potential nut contamination. Ener-G had the Egg Replacer under conditions with the potential for cross-contamination for a while)
2/3 (.66?) cup plain sugar
.5 tsp baking soda
2.25 tsp yeast (really don't fudge this - too much yeast and your bread will explode upwards, then cave in)
mix dry ingredients together, set aside.
Note: dry ingredients can be assembled the night before, in an airtight container/bag. I recommend it, actually. If adding the yeast the night before, keep flour mix in fridge, but bring to room temp before using. Cold yeast is sluggish, so the fridge keeps it from spending precious energy too soon, but if used when cold it won't respond as well.
6 flaxgels (6 Tb ground flaxseed/flaxmeal plus 12 Tb hot water, let cool) or 6 eggs
2 Tb honey
1 tsp vinegar
10-10.5 Tb margarine, room temperature (we use Mother's kosher for Passover marg, and heaven help us when it runs out.)
4 tsp potato flakes
2 cups hot water
Assemble wet ingredients in the bowl of a cake mixer. Mix gently with cake mixer, then add dry ingredients. Mix gently until all dry ingredients are in, then turn up the power. Mix on high for 3 or so minutes (more, not less), while you grease your chosen loaf/muffin tins. The mixture will look like thick cake batter. Dumpa carelessly into tins, leaving about 1/3rd to 1/4 of the tin empty. Put in a warm place (I like the warm spot on my stovetop). Pre-rise, mine look like this:
Let rise for about 35 minutes. Then, my loaves look like this:
See how the lumpiness is smoothing out?
Hopefully, by now you've cleverly pre-heated your oven to 380F. Bake for about 40 minutes, and then cool on a rack. When they come out of the oven, my loaves look like this (only not quite so yellow - sorry!):
Oh, and what did all of this have to do with Judaic affiliation? In turning to a pluralist school, we were moving away from a type of religious schooling whose strength - and weakness - is conformity. Between L and his classmates, we saw acceptance and empowerment in action. And we liked it so much that we're considering it for the Toddles...