Monday, November 19, 2012

Luke Turns Four + Egg/Nut Free Spongebob Cake

My baby turned four last week! It's hard to believe that four years have gone by since we first met our little Luke.  He has become such a little man, and I couldn't be more proud of him.

Birthdays being a unique challenge for parents of kids with food allergies. Going to another child's party is always an adventure, as food is almost always everywhere, and as parents we rarely have control over the safety of it. Hosting a party for your own food allergic child carries it's own set of challenges though. As a food allergy mom, one of my biggest goals is to make sure Luke never feels like he's missing out. I may not always have control over that, but when I do, I want to do my best. 

Luke chose a Spongebob party this year. And he made sure to point out that he wanted a Spongebob cake "with colors". Normally I make a sheet cake, and decorate with various toys that go with the theme. I knew though that the "with colors" part meant Luke wanted a cake that actually looked like Spongebob. Super! I started with a Spongebob cake pan, and a chocolate cake box mix, made with a can of lemon lime soda in place of the wet ingredients. Huge FAIL. I don't know if it was the lack of egg in the recipe or what, but the cake did not come out with any details. Then I ran across this Eggless Chocolate Layer Cake recipe and decided I'd give it a whirl, turning the round cake into Spongebob's face. I ran out of time to test the recipe, so I was really hoping for the best. 

After I baked the cakes, I made this buttercream frosting and tinted some of it yellow. I frosted a crumb layer on the entire cake, and froze it (oh, and I used a filling recipe that called for instant pudding mix with whipping cream) for a few minutes. I then tinted the rest of the frosting the different colors that I needed, and used a toothpick to free hand draw Spongebob's face onto the cake. Because the frosting was slightly frozen, if I messed up I could easily use my finger to smooth the line over and draw again. Once this was done I piped the drawing and touched up the base some. Very easy! The cake itself was very good, I got many compliments on it. I will definitely use this recipe again. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthday Boy's Egg (and dairy) Free Doughnuts

A few months ago Luke and I ran into Whole Foods before his speech therapy session started. I'm not a big Whole Foods shopper, but it's in walking distance from speech, so sometimes it's convenient. This particular day, we walked past their bakery section, and Luke announced to everyone within a quarter mile radius "I LOVE DOUGHNUTS!". This was a bit of a surprise to me, as little man has never had donuts. I'm not even sure how he knew what a doughnut was. And to be honest, I was pretty thrilled that he could say doughnut. 

We went on to speech, and as soon as his SLP came into the waiting room to get him, he once again announced I LOVE DOUGHNUTS! I decided then that I had to find a safe doughnut recipe for him. It took me awhile, but I finally found this mini vegan doughnut recipe from Vegan Yum Yum. We gave it a whirl and decided they were GOOD. 

Fast forward to the last couple weeks. Luke has been mentioning doughnuts again. A quick Whole Foods trip reminded him that he loved those little doughnuts. So I decided that being today is his fourth birthday, it would be a good day to break out the mini doughnut pan again. I did use regular milk (2%) and regular salted butter. But they worked very well as egg free. I used EnerG's egg re-placer. I recently learned that Wilton's labeling for their sprinkles has changed, and that possibly they weren't as good about labeling in the past, so I chucked all of our Wilton sprinkles. Which meant I had no sprinkles for the little doughnuts.  I made up for it by going with all chocolate instead. For the chocolate, I used some of our safe Halloween stash from Peanut Free Planet. I used Aero, broken in half and melted in the microwave in 30 second increments. It worked out really well! I stuck the plate of chocolate dipped doughnuts in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up process of the chocolate becoming less sticky. These are really good, but I personally think they're best a few hours after they're baked. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spongebob Invitations

Inspired by invitations I found on Pinterest!  I will be posting about our egg and nut free birthday party next week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Time Flies

I knew it had been awhile since I last posted, but didn't realize it had been over a month. Good grief!  We've been staying very busy, and I've been sick for the past month with an annoying cough that won't leave me alone.  I guess that pretty much sums up my lack of posting here. 

Both boys have been in sports for about a month now.   They're both on Wednesdays, at different locations.  But the timing/distance of the locations worked out perfectly.   Luke is taking t-ball and Cody is taking gymnastics.  I'm not sure what we'll move on to after, but it will be something active again.   I'm hoping they'll be interested in getting back into swim lessons soon. 

Cody joined Cub Scouts!  We're still getting into the swing of things, but he's loving it.  I'm enjoying it too.  We've met some very nice people, and the boys in his pack all seem to be good kids.  Cody and I went to our first popcorn sale this past weekend and it was amazing to watch him go from shy when we first got there, to turning into this amazing little salesman pretty quickly.  I was one proud mama! 

Homeschooling Cody is going well.  He's starting to get bored with the curriculum that we started out with, so I'm changing some things up in hopes that I won't need to find new curriculum.  I still haven't officially started preschool with Luke.   Partly because of me not feeling well, but mostly because he has hit a section of speech therapy that he's not breezing through like he had been doing for the last few months.  He's still progressing, it's just taking some extra effort.  So we've been focusing on the homework that his SLP sends home.   She recently suggested that I purchase a few books from the First Sounds Series.   They are written by speech therapists and feature lots of repetition for the sounds that the individual book focuses on.   She suggested we get Tom's Toes Can, Cow Cake and Too Big!.  Luke LOVES these books.  They really makes practicing easy, I highly recommend them. 

Finally, we trialed almonds at home with success!  We started out with Barney's Almond Butter in smooth and Luke is a big fan of it.  The crunchy is almost as good as crunchy peanut butter so I'm pretty happy too!  The other nuts are proving to be a bit more difficult to find without a peanut/other tree nut warning. I did find a small bag of pecans at Trader Joe's without a warning, and the plan is to make some kind of cookies for next Sunday.   I'm very particular about when we trial.  I won't trial if Luke is not in 100% good health.  He had a cold for a week or so, and I wouldn't do it then.  Partially because I want his body to be in the best health possible in case he does have a reaction, and partly because I don't want to be watching him wondering if his nose is running because of the cold or if it's because he's having a reaction.   I also won't trial unless my husband is home from work for the entire day, and I prefer to trial at my parent's house so that if we do have to make an ER trip, Cody can stay with them.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012-2013 Preschool with Apraxia Curriculum

I am hesitant to start this post as I am still working out the details, but I wanted to start laying out my plans. We recently saw Luke's developmental pediatrician, and the biggest piece of advice he gave us was to not focus on Luke being able to write letters just yet. Instead to focus on improving his hand strength. Between that bit of advice, and knowing what I already know about his abilities, and what his SLP is concerned about, I have a list of things I'd like to work on with him.

1. Recognize upper and lower case letters (he already knows most, if not all)
2. Numbers
3. Colors/Shapes
4. Improve fine motor skills. I love this blog post from Mommy with Selective Memory. She has lots of great ideas for this. I'm also a big fan of Montessori activities. Pre-writing activities would fit in here.
5. Improve core strength. I recently bought the Amazing Peanut Ball from Timberdoodle for this.
6. Visual processing skills. His SLP recently brought this up with me as a possible problem for him, so it will also be a goal in his therapy sessions. I bought the four pack of Developing the Early Learner and I think the books will be helpful.


2012-2013 First Grade Curriculum

 I am basing much of our curriculum on the book Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp.  I highly recommend this book.  If you're going to buy one book to go along with your homeschool, I would pick this one.  It lays out what should be taught and when, and lists many living book examples that can be used to teach the different concepts.

I also used Timberdoodle to help me pick most of the textbooks.  I love this company.  They offer a complete curriculum package for each level (including baby and toddler!).  I combined their suggestions with the ones in Home Learning Year by Year.

Phonics/Language Arts:

All About Reading 1
Explode the Code book 2
First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind

Lots of reading!


Singapore 1A/1B Standards
Daily Word Problems, Grade 1 Math


Handwriting Without Tears, Grade 1, My Printing Book


We will be studying early American History starting with the explorers, and going as far as we can.  My plan is to get to early westward exploration.  This will be done with living books, very relaxed and fun.  Hoping to fit in many field trips!  May also do some ancient history using Story of the World I, as suggested in Home Learning Year by Year.

I plan to have a separate post listing which books we used for each period of history.


Daily Geography Practice, Grade 1


Daily 6-Trait Writing, Grade 1

Five in a Row, Before Five in a Row - This covers many subjects such as science, art, language arts, math, geography and history.

Various printables and worksheets to add variety.

Field trips, field trips, field trips!  I hope to make good use of all the great field trip opportunities in our area this year.

Apraxia Update

Luke has been plugging along on the apraxia front. He continues to amaze me on a daily basis. I have completely lost track of how many words and phrases he can say. The boy loves to sing. His favorite activity right now is to turn on Cody's iPod and play music. Ryan and I went to a Josh Thompson/Justin Moore concert a few weeks ago, and Luke has been obsessed with their music ever since. Every time Luke requests Josh Thompson by name I want to sit down and write Mr. Thompson a letter telling him how awesome he is for making music that my little guy loves so much that it prompts him to say new words. Luke sings along with the songs. He doesn't get every word, but he gets a lot of them. He asks for songs by name (Blame it on Waylon is a favorite). He gets mad at me if I don't get the iPod playing fast enough in the car, and even more mad if I have the nerve to turn the music down. And if a song comes on that he doesn't like? You better change it quick. He has also decided that Eric Church and 311 are pretty darn awesome too.

 All that being said, he still has a long way to go. I can understand most of what he says, other people (including my husband at times) struggle to understand. Luke hit his first real wall with PROMPT, and it came in the form of words such as kick, make, etc. He has trouble making sounds with the back of his tongue (go ahead, say'll understand what I mean). His name of course falls into that sound category, so he's still calling himself "Nute" most of the time. It will be an exciting day the first time he can say his name correctly! We're working hard on it though, and I have no doubt that he'll get it.

 His SLP recently raised some concerns about his visual tracking abilities. His actual vision is fine, but she feels that he may have trouble with tracking, sequencing, etc. This would of course affect his reading abilities in the future, so I was pretty upset to learn this. She's wonderful though, and came up with some goals to help him through it. Thankfully there are easy exorcises that can be done at home, so I'm adding those activities to our preschool activities.

Returning and Food Allergies

First, in my last post here, back in June, I mentioned that I was moving over to another blog. That blog would be to focus on writing about homeschooling and homeschooling with Apraxia. It never felt right, and I missed this, my original place, so I made the decision to move back. Oh how I've missed This Mama's Heart! Homeschooling and homeschooling with Apraxia will be a major focus here, but I wanted a space where I could write about other topics as well. {If you'd like to see the few posts that I made over there, they can be found at Potomac Learning.}

Which leads me to this post!

Today we saw Luke's allergist for his annual visit. We saw her several times last summer and fall for two different in office food challenges (IOFCs) for peanuts and eggs. Eggs he originally passed, but then went on to have major reactions to baked in eggs at home. Peanuts he failed after the second dose in office. She decided then that we would no longer base IOFCs on RAST (blood test) results because his RAST scores don't appear to match with his reaction. His RAST for peanuts last summer was actually negative, and the RAST for egg was extremely low. We decided to go for a skin prick test (SPT) today to see if an IOFC for either peanuts or egg, or both, would be in our future. The picture below shows his back, with the SPT in progress, about halfway through the test. She also tested for a few tree nuts.

1 - Positive control 2 - Negative control A - Almonds C - Cashews P - Peanuts W - Walnuts E - Egg

The wheals for egg and peanut got pretty big. Generally any wheal over 8mm shows a 95% probability of a food allergy reaction to what is being tested. The wheal on Luke for peanut was 13mm, the wheal for egg was 19mm. In the fall of 2010 the wheal for egg on Luke was 17mm. This was our first SPT for any food other than egg. Initially all tree nuts were negative. As we spoke with the allergist though, a small wheal popped up for cashews.  Because of this, we are continuing to avoid cashews (and pistachios as they are cross reactive), but his allergist wants us to introduce the tree nuts that he passed. We're to start in small amounts, and do just one at a time. We also have to be careful that any tree nuts he is given do not have cross contamination with peanuts, cashews or pistachios.

 I will be very nervous about introducing tree nuts to him, but I am excited that this will open up some new food choices for our family.

One more picture of his egg wheal. She considers this a major reaction. The worst part is that this makes her feel that he will probably not outgrow his egg allergy. This of course made me extremely sad.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Occupational Therapy

The longer I'm a mom, the more I realize how powerful intuition is.  I don't know how many times I've been glad that I followed my intuition, or wished that I had followed it.  When Luke started OT at a local kid's therapy center, I was happy to have found a place that was close to speech therapy and happened to have an open slot the hour before speech.  Even more happy to have found a place that accepts our insurance.  The last one means just a co-pay, no other out of pocket.

From the beginning though, I wasn't very happy with the office.  It took me asking twice, and Luke going through two sessions, before I received the written evaluation done at our initial visit.  The therapist was consistently 10-15 minutes late taking him back for therapy.  The office is huge, and the waiting room is always packed.  There must be 10 therapists working there, and it definitely has a factory feel to it.  My biggest issue though is, not once did the therapist discuss with me what I could do at home with Luke.  Once a week therapy will not help if the parent isn't educated on what to do at home.  We have homework for speech every single visit.  OT should be the same.

There was one episode that added to my unhappiness.  A boy, who I now know has a mental disability, slapped Luke across the face at our last session.  Something Luke did set him off, and he reached across the good sized distance between them, and slapped him.  No, that wasn't the office's fault.  But as I said, the office is huge.  The waiting room is like a circus.  So while they had no control over the act, the office itself creates that atmosphere by cramming too many people into one practice, in my opinion.  Taking a young child, such as Luke, into an office crammed full of people that may or may not snap when a 3 year old does something they don't like, is stressful.

The final straw was talking to Luke's speech therapist.  She is familiar with the OT practice, and does not have a favorable opinion of them.  One of her current employees started out there.  She confirmed my feelings that it's a mill setting.  Too many patients, high turnover rate for therapists.  They're insanely busy because they're one of the few places that take insurance, and they take pretty much every insurance you can think of.

So, I withdrew him today.  I'm on the hunt for a new OT, preferably someone close to us so that going on a non-speech day won't be a big deal.  I feel more and more that Luke needs OT services for sensory issues, so getting him into a new office will be a priority.

"Exponential Growth"

That is the term Luke's speech therapist used to describe his speech progress yesterday.

Let me just say I was an emotional mess yesterday, but for a good reason.  It started during the drive to speech therapy.   Luke and I had our first extended conversation.   He wanted to stop at the McDonald's play place.  I said we couldn't.  His response? "Why Mommy?".  To which I responded, we have to go to speech, Ms. Ginny is waiting for us.   His response to that? "Ohhh, Ginny!".  And so we went back and forth for a good couple of minutes.  It was by far the most back and forth that we've ever had.   Best part?   Most of his speech was understandable.

When I picked him up after his speech session, his SLP was emotional herself.  She began the conversation talking about how she feels he has had an exponential growth in speech over the last couple of weeks.  She talked about having a conversation with him (her first also), about one of the toys (a bubble blowing toy lawn mower...the noise scares him, and he was able to tell her that, and that he didn't want to play with it).  She talked about how it's kids like Luke that make her want to do the job that she does.  How rewarding it is to see a child go from his words being locked away, to having the freedom to express himself.  She talked about how smart Luke is, and how he is becoming more and more comfortable with her using PROMPT on him.

Needless to say, by the end of the conversation both of us were working hard to fight back happy tears.

When I was putting Luke into his carseat, I lost it, began to cry. Luke looked at me and just said, "why mommy?".  Then hugged me. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pet Peeves (food allergies)

Today I realized what my biggest pet peeve is when it comes to food allergies.  It's probably not what you'd expect it to be.   It doesn't involve whether or not there should be peanut products in schools.   Or people that insist on bringing peanut butter to the playground, let their kids eat and then climb around on the equipment without wiping their hands off first (although that ranks up there pretty high).

Instead, it's the people that feel they need to convince a food allergy parent that everything is fine.

*It's ok to eat at Chick-Fil-A because peanut oil is refined and doesn't count as an allergen.

*It's ok to eat foods that are cross contaminated with the allergic food.

*It's ok to eat at (fill in the blank), because the food MUST be safe.  It's only mac and cheese/pizza/meatballs/soup, etc.   How could that possibly be a problem?

UGH, because it can be!

First, unless you're an allergist, or an expert on the particular restaurant and the food that they serve (as in you manage or own that restaurant and are 100% sure of the ingredients), please don't try to convince someone that the food is ok.  Because you have no way of knowing.  Let the allergy parent do the research that we've had to become so good at, and make our own decision.

Second, don't tell someone that because your milk allergic child can eat there, your peanut and egg allergic child will be fine.  Being an "expert" in one allergy, doesn't make you an expert in all of them.

Finally, I don't understand why it's so important to someone that's not involved in the child's life.  Why would someone care whether or not a child can eat at Chick-Fil-A?  Why would you go into a five minute spiel on your opinion that a food allergic child would be ok eating at a certain restaurant?  Is it an "I know everything" type of thing?  Is it that they think food allergy parents are paranoid nutcases (no pun intended) that need saving?  Does it offend them that you won't eat at the same restaurants that they do?

Other than the obvious problem that it's annoying to a food allergy parent who's just trying to do the best for their child, it can be dangerous.  A parent who's new to food allergies may feel that you know what you're talking about, and decide to listen.   Being new to food allergies is confusing and overwhelming enough.  Receiving inaccurate information just adds to it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Two Years

Yesterday was a rough day. The weather wasn't the greatest, and Luke had his first occupational therapy visit. The visit was aggravating - I had trouble finding a parking place, and then we had to sit and wait 10 minutes past his appointment time before they called him back. He came out of the room twice with his therapist, and both times he saw that Cody was playing with the iPod Touch. It happens to be one of Luke's obsessions, and both times he threw a fit in the waiting room. I'm talking ear piercing screams, crying and throwing himself on the floor. I was completely, face turned bright red and want to crawl under a chair, embarrassed. Cody was bored out of his mind. The ride home was eventful as Luke had another tantrum, and Cody got a nose bleed.

It pretty much set my mood for the day. We were all tired and cranky, and I made both boys take a nap so that I could too...something that never happens around here.

Today I looked at the date and realized that yesterday marked two years since Luke's first anaphylactic reaction (story can be found under "food allergy" tab above). Two years since that horrible day when I watched my baby lose consciousnesses and begin to turn blue. Two years since I sat in the hospital room with him, praying to God that he wouldn't stop breathing.

I don't think I ever shared this part here, but once they got Luke stabilized that day, someone came in with forms for me to fill out. She asked me if I wanted clergy to come in and pray for Luke. I said no, because at that point I was so exhausted that I just wanted to rest (Luke was sleeping). I didn't feel like talking to anyone else.

Once she left though, I went into a panic. Why did she ask me that? Was he worse off than I thought? Would God punish Luke because I didn't have the clergy come in to pray?

Those are not thoughts that I would normally have. I don't believe that God would ever punish like that. But at the time I was so desperate for Luke to be ok, that the thoughts went through my head.

So here I am, a day after the 2 year mark, upset with myself for how I let such small things get to me yesterday. I was cross with Luke for not cooperating as well as I hoped he would, and I scolded him for it. Those things aren't important though. He's only 3 years old. 3 year olds have tantrums. What's important is remembering how precious his life is, and being thankful that he is here with us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Speaking and Occupational Therapy

Luke has some new words and phrases! This week he started saying "mama needs that" and "morning". He also has some new approximations, such as "Oreo". Sometimes it takes a little bit to understand what the approximations are for, but it's exciting.

I've noticed also this week that he has been struggling to get some words out. It's heartbreaking to watch and listen to.

I am so proud of him. He works so hard and almost never gets frustrated. He will repeat what he's trying to get us to understand until we do understand.

Luke had an evaluation this week for occupational therapy. He saw the practice that his developmental pediatrician recommended. I went in with two necessities in mind. 1. They had to take our insurance, no having to submit our own claim and 2. We had to be able to get a regular session time either before or after one of his twice a week speech sessions, as his speech is across the street. Amazingly, both worked out so I think it was meant to be. Luke will receive OT every Monday for 50 mins before speech, as long as it doesn't cause problems with him tolerating both. Speech most definitely takes a priority, so if he has trouble getting through speech following OT we'll have to re-evaluate.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cody's 6th Birthday Party

Cody turned 6 earlier this week, and we had his birthday party today.  I can't believe my baby is 6 already!  What's even more amazing to me is that Luke is 6 months older now than Cody was when Luke was born.  Time goes by way too fast.

We had a Lego themed party, because it's one of Cody's most favorite things right now.  Mama's too...I was never a big Lego person growing up, but I love building them now! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Developmental Pediatrician - Follow Up

Today we made the trip into Bethesda, MD for our follow-up visit with Dr. Conlon.  The appointment went well - the doctor was pleased with the progress that Luke has made in the last 6 months.  Not just verbally, but also fine motor.  He noted a couple of small delays with some skills that he tested, but nothing major to be concerned with.  Just some things that I need to work on with him.

We talked about the sensory issues.  The doctor wants us to see an occupational therapist, but he sees the sensory issues more as a side effect of Apraxia (which is super common) than being it's own disorder.  So, no diagnosis.  He doesn't feel that Luke needs a lot of visits with an OT, just a couple to mostly teach me how to work with him at home. 

Luke gained 4lbs, and grew some, since the last appointment.  He's up to a whopping 2 percentile for weight!  Whoohoo!  Ha!  He's less than 2 percentile for height.  And his head circumference was 52 percentile.  So basically he has a tiny body and a normal size head.  Cody says it makes him a bobblehead =)  His growth curve doesn't seem to point to any hormonal issues causing his small size (according to the doctor), but Dr. C. wants us to take him to an endocrinologist to be sure.  So that will be our next venture I guess.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2:1 Conference

Why I Want to Attend the 2:1 Conference

The Homeschool Classroom is hosting a giveaway for one ticket to the 2:1 Conference and so I am going to touch on why I want to go.

The biggest reason is that I want to be the best homeschool mom that I can be. The lineup for speakers at the conference is amazing. Carisa from 1+1+1=1 one of the speakers that I am most looking forward to hearing. Her blog, after all, is the one that made me realize that I really could homeschool my boys and has been a huge help in our homeschooling journey.

Another reason is that I feel the encouragement that would come from the conference will be huge for me. I'm 99% sure we will homeschool next year, but next year will bring new challenges as I will also begin homeschooling Luke for preschool. Two boys, one with special needs, at the same time. Who wouldn't need encouragement?

And finally, when I learned that the 2:1 Conference was going to be within driving distance of my home I was so very excited. I have yet to go to a homeschooling conference. Our decision to homeschool this year came after all the conferences had already ended. As I look into the various homeschooling conventions for this year, the majority are quite a distance away. With Luke's needs, me traveling to a conference is not an option. So for one to be so close to home is an amazing opportunity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sensory Processing

I've avoided talking about this because, well, I don't really want to add anything else to the list of things related to Luke and his therapy.  But a month or two ago his speech therapist told me that she thinks Luke may have a sensory processing disorder.  Basically it means his body hasn't matured to deal with everything sensory related.

Is it a diagnosis?  No.  

Does she seem pretty confident that it's another thing we're dealing with?  Yes.

The day she told me, I drove home in tears.  It was just one more thing to add to my list of worries for him.

She sent me home with The Out of Sync Child.  I read it.  Mostly.  I'll admit that I did a lot of skimming.  Yes, there were things that sounded like Luke.  But there was also a lot that doesn't sound like him. And there was quite a bit where I said, "don't all kids do this?".

She referred us to an occupational therapist.  I contacted her - but in the end, we decided to hold off.  Financial, logistical and time reasons were behind our decision.  More money out of pocket than we can handle right now + lonnng drive at least once a week + already full weekly schedule = too much to deal with at this moment.

Every session the speech therapist brings up sensory.  She feels that it's keeping him from benefiting as much as he can from speech.  He moves around a lot.  He becomes startled if someone picks him up quickly.  He has days where he doesn't want her touching his face to do the PROMPTs.  He works on their activity for a minute or two then moves on to something else.  Etc, etc.

One thing I read in the book is that we ALL have sensory issues.  Everyone has one or two things they don't deal well with.  For instance, I can't stand the dentist.  And it's not a pain thing.  It's the noises and smells that freak me out as soon as I walk into a dentist office.  I don't like to wear hats or anything too restricting around my neck or wrists.  If I'm sitting in a chair and someone even slightly tilts me back, I start flailing like a chicken because it scares the living daylights out of me.

So I'm on the fence.  I want to do whatever we need to do to help him.  But, he's only 3.  I want him to have a chance to come through things on his own.  I don't feel that the sensory issues affect his daily life, and so I don't feel that it's anything urgent to deal with right.this.second.  We're working on them at home, using sensory activities, and I feel that it's a good start.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be Kind

Last night I stumbled across a blog post written in regard to parents who deal with food allergies.  In it, the person talked about how when her older child started school, there was a child in the class who had a food allergy.  This child's mom was always "hovering", watching him very closely.  The blogger admitted to making fun of the other mom for this (and for being ashamed of it).  But now, the blogger has a food allergic child of her own, and understands where the other mom was coming from.

Reading the blog post made me think of the quote I have posted above.  I stumbled across this quote awhile back on Pinterest, and it really struck me.  It is so very true.  You never know why a person does what they do, but chances are there is a very good reason for it.

One of the common complaints is about moms that hover.  Helicopter moms as they are often called.  Mom's that are germaphobes or are terrified of their kids getting hurt.

I was never much of a hoverer with Cody.  I was also never big on using hand sanitizers or that sort of thing.  I wasn't one to follow him around the playground watching his every move.  Then Luke came along.  Between his 5 bouts of pneumonia in less than a year, and his food allergies, I became very paranoid about what he touched or put into his mouth.  Have I mentioned that he puts everything in his mouth?  Last summer we were driving home from a playground when Cody told me Luke had something in his mouth.  I pulled over, dug in his mouth, to find that he had a few rocks stuffed into his cheeks like a hamster.  He managed to do this even with me watching him as much as I could.  He's a food thief.  He will take cups or food that is left sitting unattended, and it immediately goes into his mouth.  He also has no fear at the playground.  With Cody I was lucky, he was (and still is) very cautious.  He wasn't one to climb up too high or jump off the equipment.  Luke will do both of those things in a heartbeat.  So yes, I hover.  Isn't that my job though, to know my child's personality and know what I need to do to protect him until he's old enough to understand better?

Back to the everyone has a battle quote.  When I became pregnant with Cody, I also became active on various parenting message boards.  Through that I have met many wonderful moms.  I've also learned of several tragedies involving kids.  I'd like to talk about a couple of them to go along with the quote.

One of them lost her 3 year old son to meningitis several years ago.  She will never know where he picked it up at, but an innocent exposure to germs lead to her 3 year old baby losing his life.

The other one lost her 9 month old daughter this past summer to something equally as innocent.  The baby was standing at the sofa, as many babies do when they're first learning how to stand and cruise the furniture.  The baby lost her balance and fell backward, as many babies have done.  She landed on her back, the back of her head hitting the padded and carpeted floor.  Not concrete.  Not even hardwood.  Not the table.  Padded and carpeted floor.  The baby sustained a fatal injury to her brain from this fall.

I've never been in this kind of position, but it's not hard to imagine what going through something like this would do to a parent.  If a mom appears to be extra cautious about germs, or their child being injured, or what they put into their mouths - cut them some slack.  You never know what their story may be.  They could have gone through something as tragic as losing a child.  Or their child could have just been diagnosed with life threatening food allergies or immune deficiency.  The mom going overboard with hand sanitizer may have a child at home fighting cancer, and the family may be doing their best to keep everyone healthy.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mama Gets Crafty - SLR Purse Insert

I got a sweet lil' SLR for my birthday this week.  I'm in LOVE with it.  I spent a good part of the week looking at camera bags.  You know, the type that look like a purse and not an actual camera bag.  I fell in love with several on the Epiphanie Bags website.  I mean, who doesn't love those?  But the price was way out of my range.  So I started looking into tutorials for a DIY version, and found this.  Except I didn't feel like dealing with the sewing machine.  Or velcro.  So I busted out my trusty hot glue gun, and got to work. 

I used 1" foam, and wrapped the pieces in fabric like I was wrapping a present, securing it with the hot glue.  The only problem is that the 1" foam is a little too bulky, and the camera + extra lens takes up most of the bag.  So I either need to re-do it using 1/2" foam or get a bigger bag.  I'm voting for the bigger bag =)  But in all, I was pretty pleased with myself!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 7 Lies about Homeschooling

This is a hilarious video, it goes over the top 7 lies about homeschooling!

I love how he points out that there are shy kids in public schools (I was one of them)

How he points out that if being "sheltered" means not being introduced to sex, drugs and violence in middle school, then being "sheltered" isn't so bad.

And my favorite - pointing out that a world without Lady Gaga isn't so bad =)

And finally, I'd like to add something to my reasons of "Why I Love Homeschooling".

I'm learning things that I never learned in public school.  Not because I didn't pay attention, but because it was never covered.  Last week we learned about knights and castles.  It ended up being one of Cody's favorite unit studies from everything that we've done, and I enjoyed it greatly as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Can't Stop Thinking

Ammaria Johnson has been on my mind a lot. She's not the first food allergy death that I've heard of since learning of Luke's own life threatening food allergies, but her death has hit me harder than any other. Maybe it's because she was so close to Cody's age. Maybe it's because she died somewhere that every child should be safe. Maybe it's because every time I read or hear that she died of cardiac arrest it makes me think back to Luke's first reaction, and how naive I was at the time that he could have easily gone into cardiac arrest. And how scared she must have been. Or maybe it's because we were going to put Luke into preschool this fall.

Ammaria's tragic death has changed our mind on Luke starting preschool.

I know some people will think we are being too protective.

Some will roll their eyes and say we can't keep him in a bubble.

And that's ok. But to those people I would say, watch your child suffer an anaphylactic reaction. Not just a few hives, but a full blown life threatening allergic reaction.

Watch them turn blue and lose consciousness. Watch their head flop around because they don't have the strength, due to lack of oxygen, to hold it up. Stand in an ER and watch a team of 6 nurses and 2 doctors fight to stabilize your baby while he is staring at you, crying, with eyes pleading with you to help, while you know there's nothing you can do. Whisper to him, promising to never leave him. I can tell you that it's haunting, and something that you would never be able to get out of your mind.

Then imagine your baby having a reaction, away from you, because someone who didn't know better failed your child. Failed to protect them, failed to realize until it was too late how serious the situation is. Know that what happened to Ammaria could happen to your sweet child. All it takes is one slipup.

That is where my decision is coming from. I refuse to put Luke in that situation, hoping that the school has their act together as well as it appears they do. Yes, Ammaria's mom should have left an EpiPen with the school. But based on the fact that the school called the mom before 911 tells me they didn't know how serious the situation was. If the school isn't educated on WHEN an Epi is needed, it doesn't really matter if one is available.

His life isn't worth that risk.

I know that not everyone is able to keep their food allergy kids home, that homeschooling isn't an option for most people. I also think telling parents of kids with severe food allergies to just homeschool is wrong. But for us, at least at this point in our lives, it is an option. And it's an option that I'm more than happy to take advantage of.

So sometime between now and September I will begin formally teaching preschool to Luke. It will probably be closer to September, but I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heavy Heart - Food Allergy Death

On Monday in Chesterfield, VA, a 7 year old girl named Ammaria Johnson died of cardiac arrest due to a peanut allergy reaction.

Seven years old.

I can't even begin to imagine.

Schools need to take food allergies seriously.

Schools need to be prepared to deal with allergic reactions.

School employees, administrators and nurses need to be trained on how to detect a serious reaction, and how to properly handle them.

Children need to have ready access to their medication.

I understand that schools don't want seven year old children walking around with epi-pens.  But, the epi-pens need to be with them at all times.  Perhaps a medical kit that goes everywhere with the child, and is controlled by whichever adult the child is with at the time.  Lifesaving medication should not be stored in an office, locker or anywhere else  away from the child.  When a severe reaction happens, there's no way of knowing how much time you have to stop it.  It could just be seconds.  Taking 1, 2 or 5 minutes to retrieve an epi-pen is unacceptable. 

Benadryl and other antihistamines will NOT stop an anaphylactic reaction. It will NOT save someone's life.  It could possibly mask anaphylactic symptoms and cause you to believe that the reaction isn't as severe as it really is, resulting in wasting precious time.

As parents, we must make sure that schools have all medications that our children need. According to the video, the mom was told by the school nurse that they had all the medication they needed for her child, and refused to take the epipen, albuterol, etc, that the mother brought in to keep stored for Ammaria.

I am not pointing a finger at the mother, but please learn from this mistake.  If the school refuses your child's medication, ask to speak to their supervisor.  Do not let your child be anywhere without their prescribed medication.

The school is claiming that she "got into" peanuts while outside the school, on the school grounds.  

This is why peanuts should not be allowed on school property.  To the people who whine and complain that their child has the right to eat a peanut butter sandwich.  That their child will whither away if they don't get to eat something laden with peanuts during the day.  This story is a wakeup call.  A seven year old child died from accidental exposure to a peanut product.  Is it worth it?  Is it worth risking a child's life?  Which right is more important?  The right to peanut butter sandwiches, or the right to live?