Monday, May 30, 2011

Home and Away

Yesterday, I painted my toenails red, white and blue. The kids think they are awesome. This morning, I put up the flag on the front of my house. The kids were excited. I read numerous expressions of gratitude on Facebook. I talked to my boys about the holiday. It felt good to celebrate. It felt good to mark the day as special.

Tonight, I took time to remember what it felt like to be an Army wife on Memorial Day. I remember the fear I felt- the fear that one day I would observe Memorial Day differently, as a widow.

Tonight, I thought of those that have lost everything in the name of service.

Tonight, I found this special by CNN: Home and Away

It's a powerful tool to see just how many lives have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you click on a specific month, the map shows the hometown locations of those that died. You can see how many people died each month from 2001-2010. You can search for a specific name. You don't have to know someone that's died to be powerfully touched by the sheer numbers. It shows 2,469 casualties for Afghanistan and 4,771 for Iraq. Each number has a name, a face, a hometown and loved ones.

So tonight, I honor those that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan by praying for their loved ones.

I am forever grateful.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This just in: Sunday Snapshot

I took an after dinner photo of the kids for no other reason than the fact that two out of the three kids were standing next to each other laughing.

I love these kids.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #155

Today, I am thankful for:
  • my husband's job
  • my kid's laughter
  • a clean kitchen (and the sound of the dish washer washing my dishes)
  • music
  • an upcoming concert
  • flip flops (ya, I know- who am I?)
  • swim lessons for the kids
  • Google (because it allows me to find info for our move)
  • getting doctor appointments
  • friends that will watch kids
  • a great time visiting with a friend and letting the kids play
  • glow in the dark fingernail polish (I bought it for my daughter but, seriously, it's so funny when you get in bed and forget that you have it on- ya, my own fingers startled me)
  • fruit (especially cherries right now)
  • Pigtails on my little 3 year old
  • Pizza
  • Breakfast for dinner (which is what we had tonight)
  • A quiet house when the kids are in bed
  • My kids telling me stories about their school day
  • Encouraging my son as he writes a paper
  • An email from the school district where we are headed saying they are a nut-free district
  • the smile on my son's face when I told him that the school we are headed to will not serve peanut butter or peanut products in the lunch line and that they already have a peanut-free table set up ("nut-free" means they don't serve it, kids can still bring it to lunch)
  • the excitement of my peanut allergic son's brother's when they heard about the school not serving peanut products
  • the sadness I feel about leaving the school the kids are in now. I am thankful for the sadness... because of what it means... amazing teachers that care.
  • Chocolate (it's a love-hate relationship- but even with the calories there is more love than hate)
  • Lists
  • Cold Water
  • multiple kids wanting to say the blessing at dinner

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~Jean Baptiste Massieu

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food Allergy Thoughts This Week

My son's food allergy is not something we just focus on during special occasions. It's something that we concentrate on daily. Here are my food allergy thoughts tonight.

Every so often, a food allergy is beneficial. Oh, not really. But, I always to try highlight the positive. Today my son's class got individual treat size M&M's as a reward. My son got a regular size Skittles. He didn't mind.

A few weeks ago, I called an ice cream manufacturer. Much to my dismay, the ice cream cartons do not contain a peanut warning but there is a peanut warning online. THAT is ridiculous. I called to voice my displeasure. They responded by appreciating my input and sending me a gift certificate for a free carton of the ice cream. What? Maybe their customer service representative wasn't really listening.

I am still eating peanut butter Reece's eggs when the kids are in bed. I might have stocked up on those a little too much when they were 50% off.

I continue to be touched by the kindness and forethought that people show with regards to my son's allergy. I have had school volunteers go out of their way to make sure my son gets a safe reward. I have had friends make sure to provide safe treats. Just the mere fact that my son's teacher keeps skittles on hand for my son because the coupon for free pizza is for a pizza place that isn't safe, makes me smile.

I had a unique opportunity to meet with another peanut allergy mom whose son will be starting kindergarten next year. It brought back memories. Starting school is such a trying time for parents of food allergy kids.

This past weekend, I couldn't attend an event because I didn't plan for it. It was an event with food. My options upon remembering late the night before were 1) pack my son his own lunch 2) buy something the day of the event and pay for it (meaning extra expense) or 3) just miss the event
I couldn't go. I didn't have the energy for it. Sometimes, it just sucks. That's the honest truth. And, I know everyone doesn't always understand.

I wish my local stores carried sunbutter. Soybutter is carried at Wal-mart. We don't like it that much.

I brought way too many cupcakes to the soccer party last week. But, it was my first time using thawed frozen cupcakes in addition to the fresh batch I made. It was helpful to have those frozen cupcakes on-hand. I will make cupcakes again soon so I can have frozen treats as back-up for events.

I went to pick up some raisins this past weekend for a family picnic we were having in our backyard. Instead of raisins, I grabbed some yogurt covered raisins as a treat. When I got home I read the label and it says, "May contain an occasional peanut." That's pretty specific and pretty darn scary, if you ask me. None of my boys would touch them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On the Move

Remember this post: "Moving!!"? That was funny. I caught a few people off-guard with that title.

This time, I am moving.

I am moving from Oregon to Nevada.

My moving thoughts:

-I will be married and live with my husband in Nevada. Oh, I know that's going to be good. (If you've lost track, we've been living apart since August of 2010.)

-I will try not to leave my husband with my kids every weekend. Try. Try. Try. I would never.

-Although I long to live in the South, near family, I realize that it is not the main goal for my family. My husband has been the sole provider for us for many years and I want to support him in his career. He is being promoted and is heading to a position that he is very excited about. (And, ya know, I am pretty darn proud of him.)

-Which will be worse, days and days of rain, or heat and wind? Someone apparently told my 6 year old that it is too hot to walk outside in Nevada. He does not want to go there. He says we won't even be able to walk to the car. Six year olds are very literal.

-How can I prepare for school for my peanut allergy kid when I am not sure where we will be yet? This is weighing on me heavily. We will move in July. I am searching and searching online for good schools. In the meantime, I am praying for peace.

-Nevada is not SEC. Is there a football team in Nevada? Geesh.

-Will my oldest son shed his dedication to the Oregon Ducks once we are in Nevada for a while? Oh, please God, please, please, please.

-What changes will I make? I am thinking about a major hair cut. (Interestingly, my husband loves the idea but my kids don't.) I keep dreaming about a part time job. I will shed the jeans. I will get outdoors more... probably wearing jeans! I will shed the stuff. Local friends: Don't be strangers, I am going to get rid of stuff in the next 2 months.

-It should be entertaining the first few times I fill my car with gas in Nevada. I'll pull up, pick up my phone and start surfing the internet. I wonder how long I will sit there before I realize you are expected to pump your own gas. (Yes, that's right, for those of you that don't know, we are not allowed to pump our own gas in Oregon. It used to annoy me. Now, I love it.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Food Allergy Awareness Interview 2011

Last week was Food Allergy Awareness Week. As it was, I was submerged in the planning details for a school event. I was not able to do much in regards to educating others about food allergies during the FAAW. However, I did make a special effort to talk to my son about his food allergy. I'm convinced that his allergy education is of utmost importance.

For the 3rd year in a row, I interviewed him about his peanut allergy. For anyone with a child with food allergies, I highly recommend having a conversation like this. My son knows that I am doing it because of FAAW and he seems to like thinking I am going to share his answers. I like how the interview starts a conversation and how I can assess his understanding of his allergy.

Food Allergy Interview with my 7 year old

Question: Question: What are you allergic to?
Answer: Peanuts, for at least 7 years

Question: Do you like having a peanut allergy?
Answer: Yes

Question: Why?
Answer: Because I get to eat lunch without people crowded around me.

Question: Is there anything else you like about having the allergy?
Answer: It makes me smarter because I know more about food.

Question: Is it hard being the kid with the peanut allergy at school?
Answer: Yes

Question: Why
Answer: It’s hard because I have to keep everything more in control. I have to be more in control of my body.

Question: Are there any good things about a peanut allergy?
Answer: Not that much

Question: What would happen if you ate a peanut?
Answer: I would call you to use my Epipen and then we would go to the hospital.

Question: What would happen to YOU?
Answer: I’d have itchy eyes. I’d start breathing really slow, well stop breathing. The real answer is, I’d take my Epipen.

Question: Do you know how to use an Epi-pen?
Answer: No.
(Nope, I didn't like his matter-of-fact "no" but I kept going with the interview and decided to talk about his meds later.)

Question: What do Momma and Daddy do to keep you safe?
Answer: Give me a lunchbox at school. Keep my Epipen.

Question: How do you keep yourself safe?
Answer: I say "No" to most everything when people say, “Do you want this candy?”

Question: If someone offered you food, what would you do?
Answer: I’d say "No."

Question: What is the hardest part of a peanut allergy?
Answer: Having to check the label.

Question: What is the scariest part of a peanut allergy?
Answer: Practically nothing because I am brave.

Question: Is it scary that you would eat something and break out in hives or having trouble breathing?
(I asked this leading question because I could tell his previous answer was purely to sound good in the interview.)
Answer: Yes

Question: Do you worry about that?
Answer: Not that much because I think I know what to do.

Question: Do kids every tease you about having a peanut allergy?
Answer: No, but a kid teased me about something else. (He went on to tell me about a normal 1st grader teasing episode.)

Question: Do they ask you questions about it?
Answer: Ummmm, No

Question: Does it bother you to be different from other kids?
Answer: No, I don’t care about being different.

Question: Do you mind having to sit at the peanut free table?
Answer: No.

Question: Do you mind not sometimes getting food that other people get?
Answer: No, I do not mind!
I just like what I eat.
(I let him go with this answer. I can tell you that sometimes it does bother him.)

Question: Does it ever make you sad?
Answer: No. Only when I try to think about it. I just usually don’t think about it.

Question: If you could tell our whole town something about having a peanut allergy what would it be?
Answer: It is not fun.

Question: What is not fun?
Answer: Not getting to eat peanut butter.
Some of my best friends bring peanut butter to school and they can’t sit with me.

It’s hard having to control what I eat.

At this point, I asked him about what we'd do if he had a reaction and then we went over his medicine. I will share all of that in an upcoming post.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Food Allergy Awareness Week: He Reads Labels

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. It just so happens it is also the week before a big PTO event at my school (and I am sort of a co-coordinator of it...). I'm hoping to post about my son's peanut allergy this week, in-spite of my insane schedule.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On Saturday, it happened. My son read a label when I did not.

We were at my 3rd son's soccer game. I was not thinking about food allergies because my 2nd son was not supposed be getting food. Only the kids on the team get the snack. Except when kind parents share. They gave my first son a snack and my daughter, and then ran out of snacks. So, my oldest shared with my 2nd son. Problem solved.

I was exhausted. This was game 3 of 3 games on rainy soccer Saturday. I was single parenting it with four kids.

Ok, great. Snacks- everyone is happy. Perfect.

Now, let's get to the car.

I am hightailing it to the car and I look back at my son that is dragging himself at a snails pace. He looks at me sadly and says,

"But, momma, this is not safe for me. It says, 'May contain peanuts'."

I stopped.

I put both of my hands on his arms and I looked him straight in the eyes.
"David, you did a great thing. Thank you. Thank you for reading the label."

My oldest son gave him a juice box instead of the sugary cereal bar. While I will never know if the "May Contains Peanuts" warning would have meant harm for him, I do know that we shouldn't take chances with his food allergy. I also know he is paying attention to food labels.

The guilt I felt for not reading the label was suffocated by the satisfaction I felt from him reading the food label.

What a beautiful thing to see my 1st grader reading food labels.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Unfailing love

I could not stand her.

Everything I did, she did the opposite. We didn't see eye-to-eye on anything.

I tried. I tried to imagine her point of view but I couldn't.

Irrational. Outspoken. Stupid.

I wanted nothing to do with her.

And then, I grew up and became a mom.

I cannot stand the way I thought of her then.

Everything I did, I would cringe to see my daughter do. I imagine not seeing eye-to-eye with my kids and it hurts to remember my own disrespect.

I pray. I pray that I will learn from my relationship with my mom.

Prayerful. Driven. Smart.

I want more than I had with my mom when I was young.

And then, I realize, my mom has not changed.
I changed.
Despite everything- everything I was and I am trying to be, she has always loved me. She did not give up on me. She keeps on loving me day in and day out.

Stunned. I recognize, I want to follow the example of my mom. I will love my kids day in and day out, no matter what they become and no matter how they act.

Thank you, mom, for your unfailing love.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank #154

It's still Thursday... just barely.

It seems I've gotten away from this exercise and blogging in general. I'm not sure why that's happened. Maybe single parenting is keeping me too busy... or it's all of that activity. Yes, I am pretty much living the blog (ie, gravity of motion). I laugh because a friend of mine seems convinced I have nothing to do since I am not working and only have one one child at home during the day... bah, ha, ha...

Anyway, here are some things that I am thankful for this week:

1. My parents. I am thankful they came all the way across the country to visit us. We had a great visit. I wish we lived closer. I am thankful for the love we share.

2. My Mom. I gave my mom the perfect mother's day card. It said something to this affect: "Hey Mom, remember all of those things you told me when I was younger? Can you repeat them? I think I'll get it now." I laughed out loud. My mom is a special lady. We don't always have the same outlook but she keeps me grounded. I love her for that.

3. Book Club. I love book club night. I meet with a bunch of women that I only see on book club night. (Not my normal peeps) It is fabulous. Such a diverse group! I love our discussions. I love having a night off with friends. This month we read "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave.

4. Summer. We will be back together as a family this summer. I am ready to give up on single parenting. I am thankful that summer is almost here... just a few more months (my kids have school until June).

5. Chocolate. Really? Yes, really.

6. Friday. Remember this? I'm ready to have all of my little men home. I cannot wait to hear about how much fun my son had at camp.

7. My computer. Without this little conduit of technology I wouldn't be able to blog, facebook, or work on my latest PTO project... hmmm... well, anyway, the laptop is convenient and helpful.

8. One last thing... just about 1 week until the big event:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mom, I'm growing up

Today my oldest is off to camp. He leaves today for a 3 day outdoor science camp. To state that he is excited is to understate his enthusiasm.

He is not a morning kid at all but this morning he bolted out of bed when I said, "Today's the day!" He responded, "Really!?" and then jumped out from under the covers.

His elation is endearing.

My morning was a blaze of activity. My off-to-camp son was unpacking and repacking items. My kindergartner needed a hat for class (and not just any hat will do). My 1st grader needed me to write in his family journal. I was making 2 dozen muffins for a teacher appreciation breakfast. It was insanely busy. After everyone was where they needed to be, I grabbed a coffee and was hit with a realization: this camp is a milestone.

This is the first time my son has gone to an overnight camp.

Oh, I've know this for weeks but today it hit me.

Where did the time go?

Five years ago I walked him into Kindergarten. I took so many pictures. We hugged. He didn't want me to leave. We hugged again.

Today, I walked in as he put up his bags. I gave him him a high five (because that was the only display of affection he wanted at school). I lingered. I had trouble leaving.

Independence. I want it for my kids. But, in the face of a new independence, I felt unsure, uneasy, frozen, unready, and clinging. That couldn't have been me. No. Surely not.

Overnight camp. A milestone... a realization that my son dually craves independence and needs nurturing.

Overnight camp. A milestone... a realization that I mature as a mom as my kids age.

I became a mom 10 years ago. I am growing up a little today.