Saturday, July 15, 2017

Starting over

Its been a while.  A lot has happened since I last posted.  In fact, we're starting all over here.  We recently moved from Central Pennsylvania to Southeast Wisconsin.  In a sense, we moved back home.  Or at least closer to what I consider home for myself.  However, new school, new doctors, new neighbors.

Over the course of the last school year, the Babe had some milestones.  We went to our first movie, saw a concert, attended an art fair, and was just overall able to do more than she had the year before.  Part of this had to do with a springtime visit to the allergist.  The Babe has airborne allergies to heated dairy, besides the plethora of other major food allergies based on ingestion and/or contact, and this made her fear any food smell when out of the house.  It didn't matter if this was in a large open air area or in the car with windows closed driving past a restaurant.  When we saw the allergist, he was able to let her know that smells do not equal protein.  As in, just because you can smell something, it doesn't mean that the food protein she's allergic to is attached to the odor.  Its a little bit more complex, but it helped a lot. 

We knew we had a good thing going where we last lived.  We had wonderful doctors, teachers, neighbors, etc.  And in late June we said goodbye to them all, and hit the road to Wisconsin.  The toughest part for the Babe was all the kids in our neighborhood.  We made some really good friends, and she could just walk outside in the late afternoon and play with kids.  So far the only kids we've seen in our new neighborhood are older and on their bikes.  Hopefully once school starts she'll meet some kids who live near us that she can play with.

So, with a little over a month before school starts, we're trying to stay busy.  We finished unpacking by the first weekend in the house, so that's taken care of.  Looks like we'll get to start exploring the area a bit, and try to plan some outings.  She got a little spoiled right before we moved because we made a Pennsylvania bucket list, trying to do and see things that we wouldn't get back to (at least not for a long while), such as Valley Forge and Gettysburg.  We crammed a lot of things and visits with people in just a few weeks.  Now that we're in the new house, its not quite the same.  We'll get there.  I just need a little more energy and she needs a little more patience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Full is My Glass

So much has happened since I last posted.  I thought things were getting better, if not easier.  I was wrong.  One should not get complacent.  Or this is when its time to think glass half empty, not half full. 

Since I last wrote, the Babe was still in first grade.  Up until the last two weeks of school, everything was just going along.  However, we hit a blip in the road, and we've been trying to recover since.  Let's just say that the Babe is bright.  With that intelligence, and the growing ability to read and awareness of her environment, her anxiety grew, too.  When living with life threatening food allergies, including airborne allergies to certain foods, the world can be a scary place. 

So now we're a few months into second grade.  I figured each year we moved up in this school, things would get better.  Systems are in place, familiar people and places.  Eh, not so much.  The Babe can't eat lunch in the cafeteria because of her airborne allergy to dairy (almost everyday there are cheese sticks, pizza, or some other heated dairy item on the menu).  So, the school has thankfully made a great accommodation by letting her have lunch in the library.  This year she's actually assigned an aide, rather than random people scheduled to keep an eye on her.  The second or third week into the school year she was permanently assigned the most lovely woman- kind, caring, sweet.  She obviously enjoyed what she was doing, and enjoyed being with the Babe.  But just as we started to get comfortable, the school decided to change this woman's schedule.  Neither she nor the Babe wanted this, but it wasn't our choice.  So for the past month or longer, its been a juggling act by the school to make sure someone is present when the Babe has lunch.  For a child who is anxious (which the school is aware of), this added more chaos.  This week they finally have someone assigned, who the Babe should be meeting soon.  Here's hoping this works out, the person is a good fit, and we can move on.

There have been other things along the way, but if you didn't know this about me, I am cautious about over sharing on a public forum.  If you know me and call, I'd probably tell you everything, including the color of my underwear if you asked.  O.k., maybe not that much information.  So, there are some thing I will not post.  Like the details of our summer.  Everyone else came back to school glowing about how wonderful it was, and not wanting it to be over.  I was ready.  No, nothing bad happened.  It was just unpleasant.  And here's the glass half full...I'm hoping it only gets better. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

How We Spent Thanksgiving

I kind of left things hanging with my Thanksgiving post.  What I didn't disclose at the time was that we were eating our initial holiday meal the day prior on Wednesday, as we were going to be spending Thanksgiving day driving 10+ hours from central Pennsylvania to the northern suburbs of Chicago. 

My husband made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  In lieu of an elaborate birthday gift for my 40th birthday, we could go visit my family during Thanksgiving.  This birthday gift was generous, as we arranged to rent an event room at the hotel we stayed at.  However, there were obvious strings attached.  I had to prepare everything.  By everything, we're not talking just packing a few changes of clothes, our usual emergency meds, kitchenware, etc.  No, I took on the task of hosting lunch for 6 adults and 6 children at the hotel on Friday, plus serve dessert for anyone who wanted to drop by later that same afternoon.  I should have questioned my sanity (and at moments I did), but it was so worth it.

Prior to our trip, I had baked 2 chocolate chip pumpkin loaves (one for us, one for guests), 1 cookie pie and 24 mini cookie tartlets, and 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes.  I also made 3 lbs. of meatballs, which I froze, and later reheated to serve at our luncheon.  I also made sure we had almost all the groceries necessary for Thanksgiving and Friday, as I didn't know if we'd have an opportunity to go to a grocery store last minute, or if any would even be open.

When we got to the hotel, we had a second Thanksgiving meal.  We had packed turkey that I had frozen the day before, as well as leftover stuffing, and potato kugel I made just for the trip.  It was the easiest travel meal, as it just required reheating/thawing stovetop in some boxed broth.  So yes, you can have Thanksgiving on the road, with some planning.

Friday morning, I awoke to make a package of quinoa.  I continued to make my quinoa salad that included corn, black beans, and diced tomatoes, in a lime vinaigrette (homemade).  Next was compiling a lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad.  I reheated the meatballs in a crockpot we took along.  The most complicated thing to do was heat up pasta as the water just didn't want to boil.  Really, it took about an hour to make about 1 1/2 pounds of pasta.  That was our lunch menu: pasta, meatballs, Southwestern quinoa salad, and a green salad.

The party room was set up with three round tables, with seating for six at each.  I brought with plastic tablecloths to go over the clean fabric ones.  We ate at two of the tables, and the third was set up for crafting and games for the kids.  We had two long tables set up for the buffet.  I was so proud of myself as it didn't look slopped together.  Granted, there were no fancy centerpieces.  However, it was comfortable for those of us who were there.  The plus was that my two nephews could go across the hall and play pool at a free pool table when they got bored with their electronic devices. 

It was perfect.  The adults got to sit and chat, while the kids had fun together.  There was no bickering, and no worries about allergens.  The room was specially cleaned for us, we had wipes with us, and we supplied all food and paper goods.  We could be in our little corner of the world, and just be. 

The twelve of us enjoyed lunch and dessert.  Then mid-afternoon I brought out carrots, hummus, and chips, as well as the rest of the desserts.  A few people dropped in to visit late afternoon.  While more were expected but cancelled last minute, we enjoyed the time with those who were able to join us.  It was quality time, and we didn't have to rush off anywhere. 

The next day my sister arranged for us to join her, her kids and my mother at a park building, where we could do the same of just have safe snacks, visit, and play games.  She made sure to wipe everything off, have plastic tablecloths for everything, and safe foods. 

While it cost a little more to do things this way, it worked.  The Babe was safe, she could be with family, and we could just enjoy ourselves.  Definitely a great birthday gift.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

While we may not eat Thanksgiving with most or any of our family, we still have a traditional meal.  The other day while sitting with my daughter and one of her classmates at lunch, I asked him if he was looking forward to Thanksgiving.  He just gave a shrug.  The Babe immediately piped in how she loves stuffing.  So I couldn't resist teasing, and asking her if she thought I was making some for Thanksgiving.  Her response, also said jokingly, "What do you think, Woman?!".  I guess that would be a resounding yes.  This year's menu will include a 14 lb. turkey (yes, just for the three of us which will mean lots of leftovers), stuffing, baked potato and sweet potatoes, a vegetable not yet determined, and chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  My goal is not to overdo it, since there will be a lot that has to be done over the next few days besides just making and eating our Thanksgiving meal.  More on that later.  Have a happy Thanksgiving. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween 2015

We made it through another year of trick-or-treating.  Once again I'm very thankful for the neighbors we have.  Last year wasn't as positive for the Babe, but this year many of our neighbors were very thoughtful, having safe options or a special treat just for her. 

This year there was a greater media presence regarding the Teal Pumpkin Project.  It was started a couple years back by an allergy mom from Tennessee.  Last year it seemed to make headlines in the allergy community, but this year I saw articles in mainstream media, and posts from various media outlets.  The concept behind the Teal Pumpkin Project is to offer safe alternative to food for Halloween treats.  This can be as simple as a pencil or eraser, stickers, or more elaborate items. 

We had a sign on our door indicating we had food and non-food treats.  None of the kids asked for the non-food items, which means I'll just save the little puzzles and other toys for next year.  As for the Babe, she received temporary tattoos, stickers, erasers, pencils, pen and paper, and even a very thoughtful craft project.  The Babe was great about going to various houses that only offered candy.  She just said, "No thank you", and went on with her friends.  The only part that upset her were some people had their dogs out trick-or-treating, and she's afraid of dogs.  Otherwise, she had fun.

Afterwards, she went on a Halloween inspired scavenger hunt with our babysitter, who joined us for the night to help out (Daddy wasn't in town).  Then we had some chocolate chip pumpkin bread I made earlier in the day, followed by carving the pumpkin.  Lastly, I did give her a special treat.  I never know if she's going to receive anything she can keep, or how disappointed she might be that she can't do all that her friends do.  So this year rather than stock up on a bunch of little things (e.g. coloring books and stickers), I got her a small toy I knew she'd like.  Based on the hugs and kisses I received, I knew we finished our evening well.   

If you want more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can find it here:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mommy is not...

I think I have a problem.  To start, the feminist inside me is screaming that I've gone wrong.  This morning while the Babe was getting ready for school, I asked her to pick up a tissue next to her garbage can and throw it out.  She said, "No, that's your job.".  No!  "Moms are maids".  No!!!!  She repeated this.  If she was a little bit older and bigger, all services provided by this mom would come to a screeching halt.  However, child services would come knocking on my door.  And I can't stop caring for my child, no matter how wrong and obnoxious her statement might be.  As my sister helpfully suggested, the bucket and rag needs to come out.  A little Cinderella time?  Or perhaps a reality check.  New season, new school year, new chores.  Let's start with making her own bed, putting away any clothes lying around, clearing the dinner table, and picking up her play room.  She does these things sometimes, but not always.  Well, Mommy the Maid is also Mommy the Boss.  The Boss is making a list. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

School Days

We're just finishing off our second week of first grade.  There are definitely differences from first grade.  The Babe is adjusting to the change in classmates.  I haven't been in the classroom yet to volunteer, so I haven't met many of the kids, and unable to observe the personalities like I was able to last year.  I hear about various kids, and suspect I know who she most dislikes and most likes.  There are still some new names I hear about randomly.  All in all, she seems to be doing well.

One thing I'm proud of is she's learning to advocate for herself.  This week they had class pictures taken.  She observed those ahead of her, and when it was her turn, she asked the photographer not to touch her since she has allergies.  Good for her.  This person probably touched dozens of kids, and who knows what else, before it was the Babe's turn. 

And while there is a lot the Babe misses out on or must avoid, one benefit this year is lunch in the library.  She's been allowed to pick a different classmate each day who has brought their lunch from home to join her in the library for lunch.  They can observe the librarian or the computer specialist teaching, or have the library all to themselves.  Its a unique experience.  Thus far its been very positive.  The ones who have joined us seem to enjoy themselves.  Its a nice change from the lunchroom that is very loud and distracting. 

While I hoped to pursue some form of employment outside the home this year, I realize it would be a challenge since I'm constantly running back and forth from school.  Another year, but in the meantime, I get to know the school staff better, and forge better relationships that improve the Babe's situation.  Hopefully when she's older she'll look back and appreciate our special time together.