Thursday, August 12, 2010

Starting School with a Peanut Allergy

Yesterday, I ordered my daughter's medical alert ID bracelet. I ordered her name engraved on the front of the ID part of the bracelet, and on the back, I ordered the following:
Peanut Allergy
Use EpiPen
Call 911 then
Call Dad: (Londo's cell)

I let her pick out the one she wanted, emphasizing the fact that this was a special bracelet which she would wear to school every day. She picked the one with pink hearts and white beads. It's very pretty, and she says she'll wear it and seems excited about it. But it's also so scary to me.

The Pumpkin will be starting at the Montessori school on August 31st. I am excited about this pre-school for so many reasons. I really think the Montessori method will be a good fit for the Pumpkin, and this school really impressed me with their facilities, their program, their teachers and staff, and well everything.

The only real concern I have, and it is a major one, is that the school is not a nut-free school. The Pumpkin will be in a nut-free room, but kids--those young, messy beasts who don't remember to wash their hands or be careful with things--will be bringing their lunches to school. The kids in classrooms that aren't nut free will be bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars with peanuts, trail mix with peanuts, peanut butter to dip veggies in, peanut butter cookies, and all sorts of things processed in facilities that also have peanuts. These items will be in the school, on other children's hands, on the playground, on the handles of doors, possibly in the rooms for shared activities.

I. Am. Terrified.

I'm trying not to dwell on it, cause it could paralyze me with fear if I let it. I'm trying to acknowledge it and plan for it. So I ordered her medical alert bracelet. We have up-to-date doses of the EpiPen for her school. And I'm going to order a few more things, including these fantastic labels for her lunchbox and bags that will make sure everyone knows that she has a peanut allergy (I found those through the Cool Mom Picks Back to School Guide 2010, which has some other really awesome things! You should check it out!).

However, the biggest thing I've been doing is trying to is teach my daughter the words she needs to ensure her own safety. Part of that is making sure she understands that she is allergic to peanuts, that peanuts can make her really sick, that she needs to ask if there are peanuts in food that people offer her or ask if the food was made in a place that also has peanuts. I've been telling her about it in normal conversation. I've been making special points of it when we are out and about, such as a recent stop at a bakery where we asked careful questions to ensure there were no peanuts there at all so she could have a special baked treat. And I've been using play to mimic what I do and she should do, such as when we were playing with dolls and she had her doll offer my doll some cake and I had my doll ask if it had peanuts or was made in a place that has peanuts (thankfully, it didn't, so my doll could have some apple cake!). I'm doing these things over and over again to drill it into her head.

I know this time of year is tough on all parents. We are all scrambling to get the gear our kids need, help our kids understand the transition to school, getting all the paperwork in, prepare to pack lunches, set up areas of the house for school work and notices, and all those millions of other things we do to get ready for school. And that doesn't even touch on the emotional prep we need to do for ourselves (my baby girl is going to a real pre-school, not just a daycare/pre-school!) and our kids.

I just never thought about all the added worry, prep and gear I would need with an allergic kid. I never considered that sending my child to school could be sending her into a danger zone that could have such severe health consequences. I never knew that I would be fighting back panic attacks at the thought of most kids' favorite lunch sandwich. Oh God. I'm having trouble breathing. That's probably irony.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Midwives for Bloggy Book Club

I mentioned a while ago that I wanted to host an online book club discussion for those who were interested. Well, today is the day for the book discussion about Midwives!

Originally, I was just going to host it here. But then it occured to me that I was writing my review of the book to start the discussion, and I was concerned about putting possible spoilers on this blog, where people might be scrolling down to read other things and happen to see something that would spoil their enjoyment of a book I highly recommend. So I decided to put my review, and hopefully host a discussion, over on my review site.

Please come participate in a discussion about Midwives.

If you haven't read the book Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian, I highly recommend it. I truly enjoyed this book and will be thinking about it for a long time. If you do read it, stop by the discussion to join in at any time!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DC Area Grown Ups Lunch

DC area people! The results are in, and I'm calling it!

August 2010 DC Area Grown Ups Get Together:

When: August 28, 11:00
Where: Gordon Biersch in Tyson's Corner II, McLean
Who: Any grown ups in the area who want to get together with other parents and actually talk instead of chase kids around the whole time. Also, little babies are welcome.
How to Find Us: I'll put the table under "Cara" so just ask the hostess to seat you with us.
What Do I Need to Do? Let me know in the comments here or via email (caramamamia at gmail dot com) if you are coming so I can get a table big enough.

I'm really excited to get together! I hope everyone can make it. We are going to do a get together with all the kids in September or October... or maybe both! But this is our chance to hang with and actually talk with other adults/parents in the area.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Question of the Week - How Does Your Garden Grow

My sister has a share in one of those coop farms. She doesn't do the planting or tending or even the picking of vegetables. The place where she has her share takes care of all that. She goes every other week to the farm, selects the allotted amounts of veggies from what is set out in the barn, and then goes to the "Pick Your Own" fields to pick herbs and flowers. I've been with her once before, I think about a year ago. I brought the Pumpkin to run around with her daughter, who goes with her every week.

Well, this week my sister is on vacation, so she offered me the share at the farm. Londo, the Pumpkin, the Pookie and I all drove the 15 minutes out to the farm on Saturday morning. It was so much fun! The veggies look delicious, and the Pumpkin helped pick out which cucumbers and green peppers we took. Londo picked herbs--all sorts of herbs that make me just want to cook all day long! The Pookie hung out mostly in my sling while the Pumpkin and I picked flowers, including my favorite sunflowers!

I love the idea of the coop farm, and as much fun as we had, we actually aren't going to purchase a share. That's because Londo planted a little victory garden this summer in our backyard. Me? I'm not so good with plants. I'm great with animals, but my thumb is black. Now Londo, he's got farming in his blood and is great with plants of all sorts. And he actually really enjoys gardening! So he started a little garden in the back of our yard, and he plans to make it even bigger next year. So we really don't need a farm coop share for ourselves.

Obviously gardens and farming is on my mind this week, which is why this week's question of the week is:

If you could grow any type of veggie, fruit, herb or flower in your backyard, what would you grow?

The number one item I would like is strawberries, my favorite fruit. And guess what? Londo is about to plant some that he is getting from our neighbor who has extra or something. I want to say the neighbor has some vines and is giving Londo some, which Londo can plant and strawberries will sprout from it. But I'm not exactly sure how it works.

The things that Londo did plant for me are:
- a lilac bush, which I've always talked about wanting under my bedroom window!
- cucumbers, which I LOVE and am excited to have fresh from the garden
- a blueberry bush, which is actually for the Pumpkin since it's her favorite fruit but I love them too
- a rose bush with a trellis, which we got last summer from my SIL and it is blooming beautifully
- tomatoes, which he doesn't eat at all, but he knows that I love them and want them to make sauces
- watermelon, which everyone loves!

Next year, he already told me that he will plant herbs for both of us and sunflowers! And I'm going to ask him to plant summer squash, too. I've never been so excited about gardening--although that's likely because I'm not actually doing any gardening. Heh.

How about you? What would you like to plant in your backyard? If you had someone to do all the work for you, what would you have them grow? Do you garden yourself? Aren't fresh veggies and fruit the best?