Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Just say no

Today is Day 5 for Big Guy attending kindergarten and all is going GREAT. He tells me he is "excited" to go to school. And anyone who knew me when he was going to daycare knows how HUGE that is for us. Anyway, he has been eating the snacks and all is well. BUT, I do realize that the snacks up until now have been provided by the school (the parent sign up thing hasn't happened yet) so I'm not exactly out of the woods.

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.

I lost my power

No, the title of this post does not refer to feeling helpless and lost or at the mercy of someone else's whims (someone under 6 years old and weighing less than 40 pounds).

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

First Day is Here

Today was Big Guy's first day of kindergarten!


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.

And below is Big Guy in line at his new school. Look at those cute kids!

He had a good time. He even said he is EXCITED to go tomorrow. Hallelujah! I'll enjoy that while it lasts.

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

My Baby is Three

Poor Little Guy, as second child he always get “seconds” – whether it be clothes or my blogging time. Anyway, yesterday was his birthday and I was busy doing stuff for and with him, so I didn’t get his post up until today.

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.

A big soft Buzz Lightyear. He loved it and carried it with us all day.

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).

After he got his presents, he went around the table and gave everyone a big hug to thank them for his presents. He can be such a sweetheart.

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.
P.S. As I re-read this post, I realize it is practically an ad for Disney!! So, hello Disney ... feel free to hire Little Guy as your Buzz Lightyear spokesman. He can say "to infinity and beyond" as cute as can be!!

A Good Compromise

First of all, thanks to all my blogging buddies for your support and kind words on the last post about my meeting with Big Guy’s kindergarten teacher. The meeting went VERY well.

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

An unexpected benefit of food allergies (or desperately trying to see the glass as half full)

Today is the first of several BIG days for Big Guy. We are off to the doctor for his 5-year visit. This morning he gets to pee in a cup (to which he said "that's gross, mommy"). And then he gets to get shots and I know he'll scream and cry (he did better with shots when he was a baby, now he knows too much).

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)
That is somewhat of a compromise, right?

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!!!