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Celebrations will be merry tonight as we plan a new year of promise. I lift a glass of sparkling cider to all of you. Cheers to those who patiently feed our elderly family members living in nursing homes. Cheers to those who bring nutritious snacks for active little ones at preschools.
It's the wonder of Christmas. We serve eggnog, slice the turkey and savor the fudge. It is a most blessed season. There are those in our lives whose hearts twinkle as brightly as any Christmas tree. They are there when we need them, and often we cannot find the words to thank them. I'd like to recognize one group of people who exemplify generosity during a time of difficulty. It was last July. Two parents, a pharmacist and a radiology technician, faced the tragic death of their teenage son.
If you want to see my husband shake his head in dismay, ask him how much I spend at the grocery store each week. I can walk into a supermarket with a simple list and spend $40 in no time. There are families that won't have even that much money for the basics this holiday, however. Their kitchen is bare. They will turn to The Spokesman-Review Christmas Fund for help. You may already know that the fund provides not only gifts for children but also a food voucher. It starts out at $20 for an individual and increases to $50 for a family of seven or more; a family of five receives $40.
The holiday season can be particularly challenging if you've got diabetes. But Spokane's Jim Joireman has his strategy all planned. "I like to nibble a bit but not indulge," says Joireman, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 1992. He takes an oral medication daily to help keep his blood glucose levels at normal levels, and has to watch his diet carefully.
It's three weeks to Hanukkah and Christmas, but who's counting, right? It's really no laughing matter, however, for our days are full of activities as these two important holidays approach. Here are some of my strategies to get through a busy season and feed the family at the same time:
Counting the blessings in your life probably is not high on your list of priorities right now. It will wait until tomorrow, when your family sits down to a Thanksgiving meal. Today, however, you've got a major hurdle to jump through - that last-minute shopping. But don't worry, grocery stores are ready for you. Assistant store manager Thad Schoesler at the Latah Creek Tidyman's anticipates plenty of business today.
Recently I visited Newport, R.I., where my mother treated me royally. We dined at the finest of restaurants, shopped at unique stores and rose early one morning for a bicycle ride with an ocean view. It was simply wonderful. A highlight of the trip was touring one of the most elegant mansions along Newport's Bellevue Avenue. And while most of us wouldn't use the word "opulent" to describe our dining room decor, it definitely applies to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont's home. When she was still married to railroad heir W.K. Vanderbilt Jr., Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to build her a "cottage," as summer homes were known then. Marble House, which opened in August 1882, was a classic house along Greek lines with European furnishings.
In 1773, Samuel Adams and a group of patriots dumped more than 300 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor in what is famously known as the "Boston Tea Party." In 1997, registered dietitians stormed Boston for their own party, celebrating not only the benefits of tea and other foods, but also revolutionary advances in nutrition. In a city of baked beans, cream pie and clam chowder, nutrition experts focused on folic acid, obesity treatment and alternative medicine.
You notice something different right away about Room 157 at Chase Middle School. Along with desks, there are six kitchen units complete with microwave, stove, sink, blender, refrigerator and cupboards. It's all part of the Life Skills class for eager eighth-graders. Teachers Shawna McLaughlin and Penny Kupers teach their students basic cooking skills they may not learn at home.
It's a Halloween weekend. Kids are gearing up for Friday night fun. Peruse the Internet and you'll find lots of food-related Halloween hot spots: From the editor of a kid's newsletter: "I love the irony that in this country we teach our children not to take candy from strangers 364 days a year, but on Halloween we go begging at a stranger's door for it. Go figure!"
If you are lucky in life, you'll have a professor who inspires you beyond your limitations. I found such a person while I was a graduate student. Any adult student will tell you how tough it is to juggle classes, family and work. Linda Massey, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University-Spokane, has an impressive list of awards as an educator and for her research on calcium. But she also has been the major adviser to most of the nutrition graduate students in Spokane - no small accomplishment.
There they were, two little girls with their box of apples. They were my inspiration. It was about the ninth mile of the Colbert Autumn Classic halfmarathon. After struggling up a hill that went on forever, I came to Cole's Orchard on Green Bluff. Two little girls, dressed in hats and coats against a blistering wind, stood by the edge of the road with a box of apples. "Would you like an apple?" they called out to me. "Oh yes," I replied. I picked out a beautiful apple, blew the girls a kiss, and went back to the task at hand.
We all know those three magic words, "I love you." But around 6 p.m., the three magic words become: "What's for dinner?" We should all just admit it. Lots of us are in denial over cooking dinner. We put off thinking about it until late in the day and then we whimper that we don't have anything to eat. It would be so much easier if we got up in the morning, faced ourselves in the mirror and said out loud: "I'm going to plan dinner today." Of course, I'm not any better than you are in this matter. With family and work and after-school activities, our days are full. But it's precisely on those busy days that a little meditation on dinner will ease the stress.
Chances are you've stopped off at the meat counter at the grocery store this week. If you shop at the Yoke's Pac 'N Save on North Foothills Drive, that beef steak, pork roast or boneless chicken breast may have been cut by Tom Donelan. Donelan enjoys his job, and he takes it seriously. "You take pride in the fact that your meat is the one people base their entire meal around," says Donelan, who's been in the meat cutting business for eight years and at Yoke's for the past year.
Recently my husband brought home a gallon of milk. By accident, he'd bought 1 percent milk and not the skim milk we've been drinking for years. It didn't seem like a big deal, so I didn't tell our daughters about it. That container of milk seemed to stay in our refrigerator forever. The girls were reluctant to finish even one glass at mealtime. No one made any effort to get seconds. We had adapted to a nonfat product, and the 1 percent was just unappealing. After that, skim milk never tasted so good. Before long we were back to drinking lots of milk.
If you shop at the Lincoln Heights Safeway, you need little introduction to Anita. No last name necessary, Anita is well-known at this busy supermarket. She's usually at the same checkout, No. 2, the 9-6 shift, five days a week. Anita is regarded by many customers as an old friend, that smiling lady with the gray hair and glasses. I know, because I've been in the store when people have purposely chosen her checkout.
While jogging one morning I passed a trim, blond-haired woman walking down the street. She called out to me, and I went over to talk to her. It turns out we had attended graduate school together, and she was a dietitian like myself. If she hadn't spoken, I wouldn't have recognized her. She had lost about 30 or 40 pounds and looked great. Exercise had become very meaningful to her. To her credit, she was the proud finisher of two Ironman triathlons, grueling events of swimming, bicycling and running.
Excuse me for jumping up and down with joy, but I just can't help it. School started this week. We're back on a routine! It's not that we haven't had a pretty good summer, because we've enjoyed ourselves. The kids have taken classes and trips. They've had sleepovers, lemonade stands, visits to Green Bluff and expeditions to the new Spokane Valley Mall. We've also mourned the loss of some special people who died this summer. Their passing has made us treasure even more the lives of those whom we touch.
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop for fast food. Two of my girls and I had gone shopping and now, at dusk, they were ready for something to eat. They wanted french fries. We pulled into a McDonald's and waited. Before we knew it, a friend of mine and her son had pulled up behind us, and the woman came up to my car. She laughingly said she couldn't believe that I, a healthy food advocate, would come to McDonald's. "Oh, we like to come as a treat, like everyone else," I said, adding: "We're just here for french fries."
August is vacation month for lots of folks, and we're no exception. The other week our family headed for a few days of relaxation in Seattle. We traveled to Okanogan County for the Omak (Wash.) Stampede (yahoo!), lunched at Lake Chelan and cooled off as we headed over Stevens Pass. It was Seafair weekend in Seattle, but we attended the Dobler family reunion, an equally entertaining event.