Thursday, October 25, 2007
I definitely met the goal I set for myself, "to connect with other parents who also have kids with food allergies. I'd like to share what has worked for me and I'd like to hear other people's stories when they have had to tell someone "he can't eat that!"
It has been so heartwarming and energizing to meet so many other parents though this blog and blogging in general.
As part of my blogiversary, I would like to challenge any and ALL readers to post a comment!! I am asking all the lurkers (maybe there are only 1 or 2), but anyone to -- as they say in hide-and-seek -- come out, come out wherever you are!!!
If you have never posted a comment, just click Comments and you can fill out an online form. When asked to pick an identify, you can choose Anonymous if you don't want to fill out an account.
I think the most comments ANY post I put up was 6. So, help me out friends .... let's get that number up!
I survived a year. I made friends. I found out Little Guy CAN eat wheat. I dealt with hives and "throw-ups." I started posting photos. I met a lot of supportive folks who love their kids and are dealing with similar issues. Or met other people who can relate on other levels.
So, give out a shout!!
Monday, October 22, 2007
There has been one birthday party in school already. Mrs. C. (his teacher) followed our process perfectly and gave Big Guy a treat from his treat box, even though Big Guy tired to talk her into calling me to check on the ingredients of the birthday treats.
And there has been one field trip. Again, the teacher and nurse were great. Mrs. C. talked to me ahead of time to make sure I would bring the epi-pen to the trip. (I volunteered to go with the class.) AND the nurse called me at home to find out if I would bring his medicine or if she should send it with the teacher. So, they definitely had it covered. Luckily there wasn't anything at the pumpkin farm that was an issue for him, but you NEVER know.
Next step is the HALLOWEEN PARTY! Again, I will volunteer at it. (Looks like another unintended advantage of food allergies is getting to be REALLY involved in your child's class.) I talked to the room mother to find out what food/treat project they were planning for the party and she said they were going to decorate store bought sugar cookies. So, I told her I would find one that would be okay for Big Guy to eat too.
So, overall kindergarten is going great for Big Guy. Whew. Happiness is NOT getting a call from school to tell you that your son is heaving his guts out and breaking out in hives.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Have you seen this? Single-serving Benadryl spoons. LOVE it!!! (I am such a nerd.)
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Lots of parents are blogging about how to deal with this holiday--one where "poison" is literally pushed onto your child at every turn. I blogged about it last year. Oh, and here is a photo of the kids from Halloween last year. (I can't resist the photo!)
I LOVE lists. Here is one on safe treats for your kids, including links to websites with more information.
This post talks about the options you can take to deal with the "poison" candy that your child receives. I go with the "Fair Trade" policy ... the candy I buy to give the kids that trick-or-treat at my house is a variety of "safe" candy for my boys and I let them choose from those when we get home. Jeez, I think I STILL have some from last year.
So, any other stories or tips as we all get ready for this BIG holiday?!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Just have to share what a dork I am. The Office will be on soon and I can't WAIT! This season has already been hilarious. I feel so lucky that we got 2 one-hour episodes and ANOTHER one tonight!
And I found their web site today while I was bored at my office. With pages like this on it. I want to work at Dunder Mifflin too! Looks like they have lots of openings.
And this is the shirt I want ....
He is hooked too. Last week he watched it on Thursday while I was out, Friday night with me, and Saturday with our friends. And he laughed his ass off every time!
Oops, gotta get the boys to bed so I can watched it on TIVO.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
But this time of year, I WANT one. Sarah blogged about Fall at No Whey, Mama. And I too want to eat food for the season.
When I was a kid, we got a bag full of caramels (the bag with the sticks in it), melted down the caramels and stuck the apples in the pan. But I am pretty sure that all those caramel candies have milk in them, right?
So, has anyone out there made dairy-free caramel apples? My kids LOVE apples and anything sweet, so I'm SURE they would be a big hit at our house. I did find a recipe online that only has brown sugar, butter (I could use non-dairy margarine), and water. Has anyone else tried these? Are they any good? Help me out, please!!!
Anyway, the kids are the same ages as Big Guy and Little Guy, so they have lots of fun together.
I decided it would be fun to do a baking project with the kids since I know I have the right "safe" ingredients here at home. Whereas when she has the boys it will be harder to find non-allergy foods for a food project. Not that she doesn't' try! She's the one who made rice krispy treats for the boys at her daughter's party in Miracle Margarine.
So, I used Cherrybrook Kitchen's Sugar Cookies mix and Pillsbury frosting (dairy-free, unlike some other frostings) AND Halloween decorations. See how much fun the kids had decorating the cookies ....
(Oh and NO teasing about the newspapers on the counter. Yes, I am anal about getting the place too messy.)
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Homemade, you might ask? Hell no. But they are quick and tasty and I even put the cooked pasta BACK in the pan with the sauce and meat before I served them ... to me this is a very gourmet trick. You see, when I was growing up my mom used to pour the sauce and meatballs on top of the noodles on the plate (see! they were even called "noodles" back then, not "pasta").
Anyway, the meatballs come from one of my favorite stores, Trader Joes. They have two kinds that Big Guy and Little Guy will devour: party meatballs and turkey meatballs. Neither one has any dairy, cheese or eggs in them -- which can be difficult to find in pre-made meatballs.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Last week, I rented The Ex to watch with my husband because I know he thinks Amanda Peet is hot. I asked him at dinner (while the kids were busy playing with their food) if he wanted to watch it that night and I reminded him that Amanda Peet was in it (in a lame attempt to entice him into watching it). About five minutes later, Big Guy walked by and with a smug look on his face -- the look that says "I am much more grown up than you think, I heard you talking grown-up stuff" -- he said, oh so casually, "so, are you going to watch that movie with Old Man Pete in it?" Poor Amanda ... actually, I take that back, she's hot and makes lots of money, she can deal with being called Old Man Pete.
Yesterday morning, we were talking about an upcoming field trip Big Guy's class will take to an apple farm. I left the boys to get dressed while I made breakfast. Big Guy comes down to the kitchen. He sighs and says, "Little Guy is driving me crazy. He keeps asking me meaningless questions about my field trip!" And then he plops himself down in his chair ready for breakfast.
Keep 'em coming, Big Guy! You make me smile.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This weekend the subject of food allergies came up with Big Guy ... actually it was during an episode of Micky Mouse Clubhouse when Daisy Duck was making a cake (sexist Disney show!) and she put in eggs and milk. Big Guy immediately piped up "we would use Egg Replacer, right mommy?" And "we would use soy milk, right?"
I talked to him about allergies and school and how he can't eat food that was even NEAR a peanut. I told him about Chex Mix, what was in it, and explained how there could be peanut "dust" on food and you might not even see it. I told him that a grown-up might take the peanuts out of the mix and think it is okay for him to eat the remaining Chex and pretzels. And how he should say "no thank you, my mommy said I can't eat that?" I told him some grown-ups don't understand food allergies and he can always tell them no.
Now, I have NO idea if this could ever happen at school. I do know that if he WASN'T in the class then on Chex snack day, the parent assigned to that day COULD bring Chex Mix. And so I assume that some dumbass parent might forget about poor Big Guy and still bring that in. And some other ignoramus might tell him to go ahead and eat it because they picked out the peanuts. I think this is a stretch, but I don't want my son to suffer because someone is ignorant and because I had too much faith in mankind to warn him.
So, we had the conversation. We talked about using the snack box at school. We talked about how HE has to take care of himself. I told him the grown-ups and his teacher are there to watch out for him, but in the end HE has to watch what he eats.
It wasn't a scary talk. But it was one that had to happen. And will happen again in another form many more times.
No, I literally lost power for 3 days this weekend ... no electricity .... no TV, no internet, no CD player or lamps. There was a BIG storm here on Thursday and the power went out around 5:30 p.m. We FINALLY got it back at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
We were very lucky -- no flooding in the basement. And we were able to save that expensive soy ice cream because my parents had (1) power and (2) a chest freezer in their basement, amongst lots of other food of course. But when my husband was packing up the coolers, I made sure to tell him "don't forget all the soy stuff, it is costly!"
So, now we have power and I can check email and blogs again. Hurrah!
Thursday, August 23, 2007
And no one cried! Hurrah. Well, I lied. His little brother cried because he knew he was going to daycare all day and that his brother was getting picked up BEFORE lunch -- curses, 2 1/2 hour kindergarten. Oh well. Life is not fair. Get used to it, even at age 3.
Here is Big Guy before we left for school.
After school, I took him out for lunch where I got the call at Little Guy's school that he was throwing up. Aghhhhh! So, we hightailed it out of lunch and raced to daycare. Sure enough, he was breaking out in hives and threw up for a third time as we were trying to leave the class.
The cook tried to make something different for him ... an englifh muffin, tomato sauce and sausage pizza. When we got home Little Guy said the teacher gave him cow's milk ... but I don't entirely trust that statement. His teacher is very good and I think it is more likely that Little Guy saw her pouring milk from the "special pitcher" and thought it was cow's milk, but you never know!
Anyway, when we got home I gave him a dose of Benadryl, put some anti-itch cream on his hives and let him sleep it off.
I did call the daycare and said that I thought we should try a new approach ... find 5-6 meals that we KNOW are safe and rotate between those for Little Guy. I know the cook is trying his best, but it can be SO hard. We get reactions at home that are a mystery, so why make the poor cook -- who is trying to feed a hundred other kids -- try to decode food for my kid.
I also may have them give Little Guy juice for lunch for a while. It won't kill him. He drinks lots of soy milk at home. This way there is NO chance of someone accidentally giving him cow's milk (not that I'm saying that happened here).
So, Little Guy did get to come home after lunch like his brother, but certainly not under the best circumstances. These allergies, sometimes they really drive me nuts!!!!!! (Pun INTENDED!)
But, back to Big Guy, he ate his goldfish snack at school with no problems. He had a fun first day. Whew!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
He had a great day. All day long he said “it is my REAL birthday and I am three!” He is focused on the real day as opposed to his birthday party a couple weeks ago.
At the breakfast table, his first birthday present was waiting for him.
He started out with the chocolate chip pancakes in a smiley face. And asked me twice not to put eggs in it.
We took his brother’s birthday crown and changed the year to “3” from “5” and he proceeded to wear it ALL day long. At first when people told him Happy Birthday, he said it right back at them. I explained he could just say thank you.
After breakfast, we ran to the library and grocery store. After lunch we went to see Ratatouille, where he ate half a box of Mike & Ikes. The movie was good. It was pouring rain, so a great day to see a flick.
We had tacos for dinner and the 4 grandparents came over to celebrate with Little Guy. With the tacos, he can eat everything but the cheese, so I melt a piece of the Tofutti cheese on a tortilla for him. He was so full of candy from the movie that he didn’t eat much ...oh well!
He wanted cupcakes for his birthday treat, so I pulled four of them out of the freezer and frosted them up. Again, he ate 2 bites and then wanted to get to the pile of presents.
It was a Buzz birthday … Buzz scooter, lunch bag, wall decals, sleeping bad and shirt! Oh and a remote control spaceship from Grandma and Grandpa. My parents opted for other stuff, so he got a book and CD with songs, and a tape recorder with microphones (which was a hit).
All in all a great day for him and lots of fun for those of us closest to him to see him so excited and happy.
The nurse, teacher – Mrs. C. – and I met and talked about Big Guy’s allergies. We agreed that Big Guy will eat the regular snack (presuming, of course, that it is peanut-free) and that we’d keep a “snack box” in the room for birthday parties and in case a parent brings in a snack that looks suspicious. Big Guy, Little Guy and my mom were there for the meeting, so he got to see the class, teacher and hear our plans.
Another benefit of allergies came out in the meeting … the nurse said that we (me, my husband or my mom) would get first chance to go on field trips and work school parties. I presume this is so that a knowledgeable adult is there to watch for any food hazards for Big Guy. In fact, she HOPES one of us can attend these things. I assume this could get to be too much, but right now it sounds like fun.
Also in the meeting, my mom took the kids out of the room and we took a good look at the epi-pen. I brought an old lemon and so Mrs. C. gave the lemon the epi-pen so she could get a feel for how it works and the whole procedure – e.g., you must call the paramedics after administering the epi-pen and he’ll be taken to the ER.
I was glad that she got to see how to use it. Actually, it was good for me too. Thankfully, I have never had to use it either. And I was SURE to tell her that. I wanted her to understand when to use it. I certainly want her to use it if the situation calls for it, but I also DON’T want her to use it because he complains about some hives or tells her that his mouth itches and hurts. I know that those symptoms call for Benadryl, if that.
I suppose root of all this is based on the same issue that all parents face when sending their child to kindergarten -- “handing over your child to someone else.” For many moms and dads, up until kindergarten their baby has been mostly in their care (less and less with daycare, but still) and now in kindergarten they are taking that first step out into the world and being more independent. I have trust someone else to watch out for him and make these kinds of decisions for him.
And he has to be more aware of it and say no to anything he is not sure of. Because he is so aware of what he can eat and does ask me a lot, it is easy to consider this part of the equation a “slam dunk.” But I have to remember that when I am there, he is going to be more apt to think about food issues. Whereas when he is in class with a bunch of new kids and is excited or wants to fit in, he might take that cookie that his new friend is offering him. It could be hard to remember to say no. Karen takes an interesting approach to this dilemma with her son.
Lots to think about and talk to him about. He is definitely nervous about a new school and teacher. He says he is excited, but after seeing the class he told me “actually, I’m not so excited any more. The class room is small.” It’s not. It’s very nice. But it is new and for a five-year old picking on the size is a scapegoat for nerves.
More to come, the official “Meet the Teacher” day is Wednesday.
Friday, August 17, 2007
While at the doctor enjoying all that, I also have to review all my food allergy paperwork for kindergarten: action plans, medicine release forms, etc. Lots to do!
Then we are off to his new school to meet the nurse, drop off all the meds (Benadryl and epi-pen) and discuss how to deal with the food allergy. Does the epi-pen have to be in the kindergarten room? I guess it should be in there, why not?
THEN Big Guy gets to meet his teacher, Mrs. C. THIS IS THE BENEFIT OF FOOD ALLERGIES. He gets to meet his teacher and see his new room BEFORE anyone else. Hurrah!
I've already talked to her on the phone twice (and she sounds very nice and friendly, I think I want her to be my teacher) to set up this meeting and then she called me back to clarify the snack "procedure" at kindergarten.
By the way, the snack procedure is that each parent picks a day in the month to bring in snacks for the class. But the good news is that there are 5 snacks to bring in ... pretzels, goldfish, teddy grahams, graham crackers and chex. She said they will send home a letter to tell parents that there is a child with peanut allergies in the class, so no Chex mix, etc. I'd like to point out that he is fortunate in that he can be around peanuts and even eat things that were manufactured on a line that also manufactures peanuts ... but he can't actually eat peanuts.
Okay, Big Guy can eat all of these things. I know there is some dairy in the goldfish and possibly the teddy grahams (though I have to check the label, that might be safe too), but he can tolerate that little bit of dairy. He has eaten ALL of those things a lot with NO problems.
I think that he should be able to eat with all the other kids. I know the nurse is going to suggest I have a box of snacks just for Big Guy, but I don't know why he should do that. YES, I do know why ... she wants to be VERY sure that NOTHING he eats could have a stray allergen in it.
I am VERY conflicted on this. I want him to be safe, of course! I also want things to be as normal they can. The bottomline is that they're not normal for him. There are lots of things he can't eat. But knowing that and dealing with that (pretty well, I might add), why can't he eat the things he can eat? Does this make sense?
I have to talk to the teacher and the nurse today to get a better sense of their issues and desires. But I am leaning towards this approach:
- letting him eat the snacks (if they send out the peanut letter)
- leaving treats for him at the school for days when kids bring b-day treats and NOT letting him eat those things (basically he can only eat the 5 snack foods)
Well, we'll see how the meeting goes. The nurse and teacher are VERY nice and so I see this meeting as a chance to just figure all this out, not a combative thing at all.
And the benefit, we get the early sneak peek into kindergarten. The rest of the class waits until Meet the Teacher day on Wednesday ... then school starts Thursday, the 24th!!!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
He went to "school" today and brought Fear Factor push-ups. No dairy!! After school, he came home and found this in the backyard ...
The cupcakes were homemade with the Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate cake mix and Pillsbury Whipped Supreme frosting. They were YUMMY. And on the top were Spiderman cupcake toppers.
He had a great day and so did we. These are the really fun birthdays ... they get it, they show unbridled joy and excitement .... and Spiderman doesn't care if he has food allergies!!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
But while on vacation, we stopped for lunch in Sausalito and looked at the kid's menu, which consisted of:
- Fish and Chips (nope, probable egg or cheese in the batter)
- Chicken fingers (nope, same reason as above)
- Pizza (umm, obvious NO)
- Spaghetti and marinara (okay, finally something they can eat)
We ordered the spaghetti for both of them. And MY FAULT, I didn't quiz the waiter about what they put in it. In my mind, you would only put noodles and tomato sauce in this dish. Plus at the same time, my husband is complaining that the beautiful outdoor seating overlooking the bay was too hot ... and then Big Guy was squinting and complaining, so I had to ask to be moved inside. Needless to say, I was occupied with lots of things at the time.
Okay, here comes the food. Little Guy takes one tiny bite, about 2 inches of noodles and sauce and within 3 minutes starts telling me his tongue hurts. SHIT!!!!! I quickly down my glass of wine and fish tacos. I don't give him anymore to eat and we wait. I ask the waiter if they put cheese in the kid's spaghetti, he insists that they don't ... just noodles, tomatoes and herbs.
A couple minutes later, Little Guy tells me he has to throw up. I scoop him up with the napkin and race off through the crowded restaurant to the Ladies room. We stand in front of the toilet ... nothing. "Do you need to throw up? Because this is the place to do it. I'll give you some medicine when we get back to our table." He tells me he wants the medicine and isn't going to be sick. Okay, I hope so.
Back to the table. On the way back, the nice hostess asks if everything is all right. I tell her he has a food allergy and I think the marinara might have made him sick. Another waiter is standing and also insists there is no cheese in that dish.
Little Guy sits nicely at the table and takes the benadryl. My husband says he'll take him out of the restaurant, just in case. I wait and wait and wait with Big Guy for the waiter and the bill. FINALLY, I get it and we leave.
Outside, there stands my husband in a wettish shirt, "he threw up on the way out of the restaurant. All over me and him, the wall and a lady walking in." Oh no! But it is, in a perverse way, funny too. I have the mental image of my husband holding his fingers over Little Guy's mouth (as he described later to me) and the puke spewing out. Luckily (1) my husband has a similar sense of humor to mine, (2) I know the boys' allergies aren't so severe that there could be breathing issues.
Then we look at Little Guy's legs and see some hives too. He definitely had an allergic reaction to the noodles. We give him some more benadryl and drive away.
To defend the restaurant, I didn't explain what Little Guy's allergies are (but I am not totally thrilled with the waiters' snooty attitude). I realized I need to be the person who starts out the conversation "my son has a lot of food allergies ... can you help me find something he can eat?"
We did that that same night at a restaurant in San Francisco and they were VERY helpful. There was nothing on their kids' menu that Little Guy could eat, so they grilled a piece of chicken for him and gave him some french fries and steamed veggies.
I guess I haven't been that particular and stringent about it in the past because I've been lucky and his reactions aren't life threatening, but I hate to see poor Little Guy feel bad, so I need to be better about it. And reading posts like this help me to know that I'm not alone out there.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
I wanted to make brownies that everyone could eat. So, I thought I was oh-so-clever and would use regular brownie mix and just use the Ener-G egg replacer so the boys could eat them. And I was so SURE this would work, I made a double recipe so I could be sure to have enough for everyone.
Boy, was I wrong! Don't try this at home! The batter never really turned brownie/cake-like. It just sorta kept bubbling, like a weird science experiment. So, I ended up bringing Costco brownie bites to the party and gave the kids popsicles. But being so frugal, I did try the science-experiment brownies and they actually weren't bad. They were more fudge-like than brownies. Big Guy and I ate them up over the course of a week or so. I would even break them up and put them on his soy ice cream.
But, next time I want to make brownies from a mix (that the boys can eat), I will make the trek to Whole Foods and get the Cherrybrook Kitchen brownie mix. I know these are good and won't bubble mysteriously.
If you are looking for recipes from a blog for those of us dealing with food allergies, check out a blog I just found called The Food Allergy Blog ... love the picture of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets!!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Little Guy's teacher: Hi. Little Guy grabbed another child's vanilla wafer today and just ate a bite. Do you want me to give him benadryl?
Me: (inward groan) Can you get a look at the ingredients first? They might just be all sugar. If you can't get the ingredients, go ahead and give him a dose ... lord knows he gets enough of it. But be forewarned he might barf.
Little Guy's teacher: I know he did before. I'm really sorry I don't know how he grabbed that cookie so quick.
Me: It's okay. He did the same thing to me the other day. He grabbed a piece of muenster cheese from his brother. I immediately yelled at him to spit it out. So, at most he swallowed a piece the size of a half a dime. But still, 10 minutes later he barfed.
Little Guy's teacher: Okay, I'll check the box and call you back.
5 minutes later .... Ring Ring
Little Guy's teacher: So far he is okay, but the cookies did have milk in it so I gave him the benadryl.
Me: Good. Hopefully he'll be okay. I'll be there soon.
Wish me luck!!!!!
Monday, June 18, 2007
Lately it has been VERY hot and humid here so while at Grandma and Grandpa's for Father's Day, we let the boys play in the blow-up kiddie pool.
A few minutes after Little Guy came out of the pool, while I was drying him off I noticed about 4 hives on his stomach. Of course, he was itching them. Great. This happened to Big Guy last summer. When they go from really hot to pretty cold, they break out in hives! In this case, it was just a couple, so no big deal. Didn't even have to pull out old reliable Benadryl. But jeez!!!
Well, you can see they had fun splashing around, hives or no hives. Just wanted to warn folks that those of us with sensitive kids might see this kind of reaction this summer.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Friday: he must have eaten a couple Doritos when our friends were over because next thing I know I look over and he is rubbing his eyes so hard I thought they might pop out! Next thing I know his whole left side of his face is swelling up. Give him a teaspoon of Children's Benadryl and hold a wet cloth to his eyes. After about 15 minutes he was feeling better, eating soy icecream and back to running around in the backyard.
Sunday: He eats a cinnamon crunch bagel at Panera and 4 bites later, he is scratching those eyes again! I asked to see the ingredient list and teaspoon of Benadryl and hold a wet cloth with eyes in it to his eyes. After a three hour power nap, he is fine.
Tuesday: Off he goes to day care. At 12 p.m. I get a call, "Little Guy threw up. Can you come and get him?" When I get there they are holding him and he is calm and relatively okay, but the hives came out right after I hung up with them -- on his face, wrists and stomach. They gave him a teaspoon of Benadryl and he was already better by the time I got there.
What could he have eaten???? I check with his teachers, it doesn't seem like he ate anything he shouldn't have. I checked the label on the bread (the same bread he has eaten many times there). It says in the label "may contain milk products" -- but there isn't a milk product listed it in the ingredients. I guess that was it. But as usual, it's a guessing game - a crap shoot.
Aghh! I took him home and he was fine. I called the allergist and she suggested I put him on a daily does of Claritin for a couple weeks to help "calm down his system." He is now more sensitive to any little allergen because all those histamines are coursing through his body. So things he can normally deal with are causing reactions. It makes it sorta scary to feed him!
But no calls so far from the day care. Thank goodness. I checked the menu carefully today, talked to the cook and told him (and the teacher) what Little Guy could and could not eat.
I saw this study on the Allergy Mom's blog and I agree that while the milk allergy is not "ruining our life," it does add to the daily stress of life. I am pretty used to it (in fact, yesterday the allergist told me I was handling it well and not freaking out) and luckily, don't have to deal with breathing issues, but once in a while I see a kid sit down and eat anything on the table and think, "WOW, that mom is sooo lucky!"
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
But, when Big Guy asked for this for breakfast .....
I was very proud of his healthy choice. But also, the blueberry-apple combo reminded me of this song .... aghhhhhhhhhh!!! (what is it with those phallic hats??) Regardless of that fact, his "fruit salad"of sorts was a hit and he ate it all up!
One of the two key ingredients are these from Trader Joes (our favorite balloon-giving store)
And while he snacked on that, Little Guy enjoyed some Soy Yogurt.
So, all in all, a very healthy breakfast --- hurrah!!!!!