Back to the Food Allergies

I joke that I live in a zoo. It’s kind of literal, we do have a crapton of kids, pets, other people’s kids, etc. It’s also kind of a metaphor for the controlled chaos we have going here between work, kid activities, my activities, our hobbies, and just life in general. One of our underlying, longstanding issues is of course the life threatening food allergies that Dorothy still has, that she always will have. We have done our very best to keep everything she does as normal as possible but the undercurrent is always there. Because we have constructed many strategically placed barriers, sometimes we as a family, her friends and her teachers can almost forget. Almost. Well, until we have an issue.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the 504 Plan in place at school. It has many classroom modifications in place and lunch room procedures that allow Dot to operate within school safely, and hopefully without fear of allergic reaction. This ADA plan is in place because the severity of her allergies is debilitating. It is a disability. She reacts violently not just to consumption of tree nuts, but has a long history of reactivity to proteins left behind on surfaces and particles in the air. 

Over the last couple of weeks something within the classroom has changed. We can’t pinpoint exactly what is going on, but my suspicion is that one of the students got some new hand lotion and has been touching things. Dorothy has been to the nurse 6 times for hives that start on her right arm. The hives obviously itch, and travel quickly. Within minutes they cover her upper body. She is given Benadryl, and once they subside she is sent back to class. The problem here is that the Benadryl is a Bandaid. It is reactive to a problem that she isn’t supposed to have to actively worry about at school. Her teachers continue teaching, she misses class work, misses material that she is responsible for, and then returns to class sleepy. This can’t continue. 

She has been moved to the front right of the room, she no longer shares supplies (we need to add this to her 504 for 6th grade, though why 5th graders are still sharing is beyond me), and has been given her own white board. The custodian is being reeducated on how to clean her desk. The white board is a bit of a problem because she can’t leave it in her shared locker, she is concerned that her locker mate will touch it. Now that I’ve written this out, I’m going to call and ask that she not have a shared locker, and also ask to modify her 504 to include the supplies and locker now. The students are all being reeducated along with the teachers on how to prevent allergic reactions, and mandatory handwashing upon classroom entry has been enacted. Dot is concerned that the other kids will resent her for the changes. She doesn’t want to be different. We are working on this. Right now, her safety is number 1, but I have to address the mental aspects as well. I don’t want this for her.

Every time we deal with the big Pink Elephant in the room I have a little cry, and then I put my brave mom face back on and deal with it head on. Right now I’m still having my little cry. I know that we all send our kids out the door everyday and hope they will return, freak things happen all the time though. The problem with my girl is that the “freak thing” could be a simple as a kid having honey nut cheerios for breakfast, or a granola bar, or having washed their hair with Tres’eme shampoo and then hugging her. At the end of the day though, I have to assure myself that I’ve done every.single.thing I can to keep her safe, if something breaks down and fails I though, I will have to deal with that too. I try not to go there very often, but when I let my guard down, when I stop being vigilant…ugh. I’m done with this train for now.

Anyway, education about food allergies is ongoing. I wish there was another name for the type of allergies we deal with, something that everyone would “get”. But there isn’t.

I’m emotional about this today. I’m looking for a presentation/video that can be shown to 5th graders to help them understand.

Weighty issues

I’m getting a little nervous about my Team Beef photo shoot this weekend. I have run for Team Beef since spring 2010, and they sponsor many of the races I run. I’m seriously beyond flattered that I was one of only 4 team members selected to be highlighted by the magazine. After I read the copy of “my” story, had I not known it was about me I would have totally been inspired by it. I would have read the story and thought, wow, that could be about any mom who let her weight get out of control while taking care of back to back to back children. That could be any woman who just quit working out and quit focusing on her health. I would have seen myself in the story like I do in the stories I see on the Atkins site, People Magazine, and Nutri-system commercials. It’s like a series of events occurs over a decade or more and suddenly you have gone from size 6 to size 22, and you have a “Come to Jesus” moment and realize you have to do something. I can relate to that story…I guess that’s why this time around I AM the story. But I’m a little embarrassed by it.

When I got out of the Army i was pregnant and had quit smoking, I stopped all forms of exercise. On Friday I went to step aerobics for an hour, then to PT, then ran a couple miles. On Monday, I went to college classes and that was it. I didn’t run, not even to the fridge for another 11 years. So, from August 1998 – October 2009 I lived a sedentary life. I was busy raising kids, getting divorced & remarried, working at an office, starting my own business, cooking, cleaning, but spending a lot of time holding down a couch, eating comfort food. At first, i just never lost the 65+ pounds I gained during my first pregnancy, then I was pregnant again and gained back the minimal amount I’d lost. I delivered both of my first two children at about 217lbs. That’s a lot considering I’m only 5’2.

I somehow convinced myself that size 14, then 16, then 18, then 20 was just fine. It’s just a number, right? I’m still me. Well, the problem was that somewhere in there “ME” got a little lost. Two more babies, both pregnancies riddled with insulin dependence, zoloft, and depression led me to where? I don’t know. I tried to do everything to be the best mom in the world, but I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. I went to a 1 year postpartum check up and I weighed 215, had an A1C of 6.5 – this is considered the first number that indicates diabetes, and my cholesterol was 242. That’s when I started walking, that’s when I started taking control of my health, and that’s the moment I realized that I had to take care of me in order to take care of everyone else.

I shouldn’t be embarrassed to have lost 75 lbs, to have maintained the loss, or to continue working towards an even healthier me. I should be proud of this, and the fact that despite having started at morbid obesity I was able to dig my way out to a healthy (barely) weight, and pick up running along the way. I think the reason I hang my medals prominently in our dining room is to remind me of my accomplishments. All of these things should make me proud, but then the self-doubter creeps in and tells me that I should have never, ever gotten to that point. I’m still not where I completely want to be. I’m training for my 11 & 12th half marathons right now and the logical me says that had I stayed the course, had I not gained all that weight, I probably would have never really gotten serious about my health, but who knows.

So this coming Sunday, I am going to have my picture taken next to an elite marathoner, an ultra marathoner, and another team member who has an awesome story to tell as well (I don’t know who she is). I’m seriously worried i’m going to look fat.

I don’t know how to stop hating myself. I don’t know how to forgive myself.

Until then, I’ll just stay the course and keep running because it makes me feel good.

Freedom and running

I love the feeling of the wind whipping my pony tail behind me. I love the smells of trees, the breeze, and rotting leaves. I love seeing icicles along the roots of trees dipping into the edges of a lake. I love the freedom I feel when I lace up my shoes, pop in my Yurbuds and just run. I feel amazing, I feel 16, I feel like I can run forever.

All runs don’t feel great. Some of them I just push through and put in the miles because I know I have a race coming up. Some runs I struggle to get started. When I first got started, I instituted a 10 minute rule. I would push through for 10 minutes and if I didn’t feel like continuing, I could stop at that time. I can’t think of more than a couple runs when I was sick that I stopped. Most of the time, after 10 minutes I know I can finish, even if I modify my original goal.

Saturday I met a friend I’ve run with a few times in a group. She and I have a very close pace and she isn’t real chatty during running. I like that. I like to talk for a mile or two, but after that? I like to just run. It’s nice to have someone on your flank because it keeps you honest and keeps you safe. We picked a location nearby that has paved trails around a lake where the forest has been allowed to grow. It’s peaceful, somewhat busy, so you are alone, but not really. We ran 7.5 miles and I could have easily run 7 more. When we were finished I was actually a little sad. My blood was pumping and I was pouring sweat, despite the chilly temperatures. I think she would have run more, but we both needed to pick our kids up – and I’m glad she understood that. I have another friend I run with, not so much anymore, who doesn’t have children and she can lolly gag about, get coffee, and then grab lunch too if she wants.

Anyway, I think I’ve found a new running buddy. We seem to gel well together and our last 3 miles we didn’t speak a word, but picked up our pace to a 5K race pace, but we weren’t racing, we just felt like running. It felt great.

I’m drinking tonight

Pull ups do not equal potty trained. I loathe pull ups. Pull ups suck giant donkey balls. You know what else sucks? Parents who let their 3.5 year old, un-potty trained kids call the shots.

Today I had a 3.5 year old throw things at me, scream at the top of his lungs for about 50 minutes and throw himself over toys, on the floor and into the wall because I put a diaper on him. I don’t care that he has pull ups, if he won’t use the toilet or even make an effort there is not even a teeny tiny reason for me to have to completely disrobe the child for a diaper change.



I’m having a bit of runner’s knee. It’s nothing I couldn’t run through, but I’m I think 10 weeks out from my race and I don’t think it is worth getting really hurt, so I am going to skip my run tonight. I need to stay healthy. When I run my next half, I want to be at my best. I’m going to follow the steps to stay healthy. I think I did too much hill work over the last couple weeks and I’m going to stay on some flat ground for a little while and also cut my speed work until I feel at least 95%. I hate having issues. Getting old is a bit of a bitch.

School safety

I don’t know anyone with children who wasn’t deeply affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut. It made me hug my children tighter, thankful it wasn’t my kids, I felt guilty that I was thankful it was someone else’s children, even guiltier for verbalizing it. It prompted me, and thousands of other parents to reevalutate the illusion of safety we have had in sending our children off to school each day. It even prompted me to show up at a PTO meeting for the first time in 5 years to discuss the security at our own elementary school. I felt “ok” with the security at our other schools, but our elementary school has some major problems.

After i left the meeting I really gave some thought to what had been said, what’s being done, and the effects it may have on the children. Right now, my kids feel safe,and the truth is, a motivated killer can get in anywhere. I’m going to include here and exchange I had with another mom in response to the meeting. We are both long winded, so excuse it and know that i’m posting it up because i have a point, I swear.

  • Friend

    OMG its keeping me up at night….for real. im gonna set up a meeting with miss H….was i wrong to ask what other things were gonna be done to the school for security…was I wrong to wonder if the doors and windows would ever be replaced and updated….and this buzzer deal doesn’t even sound like it will be actually fixed to the building….I did a lil research on them and if I am looking at the same thing Miss H mentioned, this is a MOBILE buzzing system and isn’t even a part of the building( I could be wrong tho, it happens once in a while)….it just doesnt seem as though they (admins) are really are doing anything to our building. I see they are updating the HVAC system….yay, but as far as secuitry thats all we get is this mobile buzzing system….I feel like its our turn as a building….to be updated a lil bit at least. Have u been to harris…its a cadilac and us at coverdell are a pinto compared…(building wise) Shoot I bet those are the original doors from the 60’s when the place was built. and this nonsense on how school is just like the movies and walmart and such as far as security, being this is such a sucky world we live in, is really making me mad….not upset mad!! How can our principal compare our schools safety to that of a movie theather….shoot when I think all night long about it….a movie theather is safer than school….cuz IM THERE!!!! Miss H seemed to be a lil deer in the headlight looking when I asked if they were going to be doing anything to the windows and such…am I the only one who thinks we need MORE updates…..I hold high standards I guess….sorry to ramble, HELP lol…it was either you or sarah who got it and since you were at the meeting I thought Id get your advise. I do think a call to miss hill will be happening today….what do you think?? has anyone mentioned anything about it…besides making fun of me. LOLOLOL She really did make me feel like an ass tho….thats why i hate talking at them meetings. gonna take C to school and feed the animals if i dont reply right away.

  • Tara  (ME)

    Hey Friend – good morning! My laptop is having “issues” so I’ve run into the family room to respond…i think this is more than i can type on my phone LOL!!!

    I DO think our building has got to have more updates. There are multiple issues regarding this though, and A (the principal) really can’t do much other than implement building policy. The district is hurting for money in a major way. I don’t have to see a budget to know this because our school and School B,  School C & School D, and perhaps School E but don’t quote me on that one all became Title I schools this year. This means that a minimum of 40% of the students meet the low income standard determined by the free/reduced lunch program. School B is over 60% I believe. So this of course means that the tax base for the district is low. A bond issue for major renovation is the only thing that will be able to fix the big security problems. The best chance to have real security changes will need to come down from our School Board. There may be grants our district can receive, and I’d hope that Dr. M (the superintendent) has a grant writer on top of that.

    Do not feel like an ass at all. If nobody says anything, nothing will ever change – but I think the right person would be the superintendent, followed by perhaps our State Representative.

    I think most parents send their children to school under an illusion of safety. The truth is though, Ms. H is correct, it isn’t any safer than anywhere else we go. We have to heavily weigh whether we want our children to grow up in a police state and what implications both intended and unintended can occur with each additional safety precaution.

    The glass absolutely needs to be replaced. An auto-locking device should be installed on the doors to the building from the breezeway – one that the secretary could instantly lockdown without a key in the event that an intruder shot through/forced his way through the breezeway entrance. If I had my way, the front offices of these schools would be staffed by a principal & assistant with concealed firearms.

    This world is a scary place.

  • Friend

    Whew!!! I needed that….really I did. My mind felt like exploding. I’m still somewhat of a newbie and understand that I should take the building issues to the administration. Im so scared…..I wish they would just rebuild the whole place. Gas staions have more security with those h hidden 911 buttons they have….I guess I was just hoping for more for the kids. And so agree some one in the office should be armed and trained. it wouldn’t be so bad if chloe was my youngest….but all the years ahead of me at coverdell really worry me!!! I do send my kids under the illusion of safety but still hold school up there with church. I guess its just the fact that I’m not there with them like I am at other places. I’ve looked into moving and homeschooling…..already…..I don’t want to do either. We even got a low income grant from oyr church to send our kids there but with 4 even the grants would make it impossible. Im trying to just go with it and not let it bother me but……its not easy. Thank u for that tara…..I needed it.

  • Tara (me)

    I know a handful if people who do homeschool their children. On of my bffs does, she lives on a nearby street just a couple blocks from here. I am sure she would talk to you about how she does it and still balances life and giving her kids a social life. Our kids are all friends

    You know, every day for 6 years I have worried about sending Dorothy to school because if her life threatening allergies. I have worried that something will happen despite all the precautions we have in place, that someone will disregard them, that she will take a chance, that the epi pens wouldn’t be enough. Fear is a funny thing because I worry now, but I have had to balance my fears with making sure she can lead a normal, wonderful life. If something happened today, and I never saw my girl again, I know I have done everything I could do to keep her safe within my power. That’s all I can do. It’s the same with the security thing in a way, I feel like there are more things I want done but I have to hope that what they have, what they are doing will be enough.

Monday, monday

When I was in Basic training & AIT in the Army we used to sing cadence everywhere we went. One of the ones that I sing when something becomes very mundane is – Here we go again, Same old Stuff again, Marching down the avenue, 5 more days and we’ll be through, Sound off, 1-2, Sound off 3-4, 1,2,3,4 -3, 4! That’s usually my Monday cadence. Usually is the operative word, because usual is not today.

Today i became even busier than I already was! Today = New 8 week old baby in the daycare, Liam’s basketball season started & today only, Liam is having some dental work done. Tonight we also have Dustin’s basketball practice & Dot has Girl Scouts. I have a PTO meeting as well. Yikes! 

In other news, I PR’ed my 5 mile race. I felt great and ran hard. It was a good race. Dustin’s team lost their game.

It is cold. Cold. Cold. 

Atkins is going well. The hubs lost 20lbs in our Induction. I lost 2. What the heck?

This is how we do it

There is nothing quite as exciting as a house full of people in quick motion because somehow Mom & Dad slept through the alarm. We woke up this morning with exactly 10 minutes to spare before Dustin’s ride would be at our house and my first daycare kid would arrive. Yup, 6:53 a.m. I jumped out bed, ran to Dustin’s room threw on the light and tell him to move, we seriously overslept, then I quietly tell Dorothy so i won’t wake Maggie. Down the hall to Liam’s room – normally Daddy wakes him up and dresses him because he is a lolly-gagger in a major way, but not today i tell him he must get up and get dressed, like NOW.

Down the stairs I fly with a toothbrush in my mouth, still wearing my workout clothes from my run last night. I had intended to shower, but a clean shirt will have to do. I pre-prep as much of the kid lunches & John’s lunches every night while I’m cleaning up dinner & getting the coffee ready for the next day. This morning I am tossing pre-cut fruit, boiled eggs, pkgs of fruities, pepperoni, sandwiches, salads, dressing, bottles of water into bags while pushing the levers on the toaster down to cook toaster strudels (a very rare treat that I just bought impulsively last night). Meanwhile the iron was heating and I was spraying the pants with Bounce ironing spray. I love that stuff, it’s like starch, but doesn’t flake. Dorothy comes down and I’m giving instructions to please put lunches & snacks into backpacks, get her breakfast, hand Liam his breakfast and to hurry up with all of the abovve. My door opens and two kids walk in, Dustin walks out with his breakfast in hand at 7:03. Ten minutes. The next 9 minutes are pretty calm considering the first 10. I give my daycare kids some food, Dorothy and Liam eat and John is somewhere spraying down with Axe because of course there was no time to shower and I try to not scald myself with my lifeblood – I of course mean coffee. 7:12, we have been awake less than 20 minutes and Dorothy & John head out the door for the day.

Wow. I feel like I ran a marathon, and because of my clothes I smell like it too, though I actually only ran 3.5 miles last night. Guess perfume to the rescue! Now I smell great, and look well, like I just woke up. The only person exempt from the crazy this morning was Maggie who somehow slept through it all.

So today is January 10th or 11th and it is suppose to be about 70 degrees, we expect snow in 2 days. I am running a 5 mile race tomorrow morning and I’m pretty sure it won’t be a PR kind of day. I have a great playlist and I’m doing it with some great girls that pretend to like me and enjoy my company. I think they like me, I’m pretty sure they do, but they like to talk and run, I usually pop my earbuds in and enjoy the safety of pack running. We usually don’t socialize during the week. I do like these girls though and I’m glad I have similarly paced people to run with.

What? It’s 2013 already?

Where did last year go? I had just recently told myself I was going to do the blog bit again and i looked, my last entry was in football season!

Back on Atkins Induction right now with the Mr. SuperAwesome. I do think he is super awesome, and I’m glad we can do this thing together. This is going to be the year I get back to my high school weight and the year I quit peeing in my pants when I jump! Most immediately though, it will be the spring i run 2 more half marathons, and in 2 days, a 5 mile race. It will be the spring we camp more, we go to the dirt racing track and drag strip more, and the spring we spend more time making our yard beautiful. It will be the summer we spend more lazy days at the pool, more time tossing a baseball, and more time tending our gardens. This fall will be the year I send my 1st baby to high school, my actual baby to kindergarten, and all 4 of the “little kids” will be in school!!! Plus my stepson is getting married in November!!

Today I am anxious to get off of work. I do love my job, but i’m itching to get down on my treadmill for a few miles. I always feel up when I run, and though the sun has shined the last few days, it is not today. It is dreary & raining. A run will make me feel like the sun shined.

Liam has to have more dental work done Monday. Dustin has a basketball game on Sunday, which is going to require the parent split since Dorothy has Girl Scout cookie kickoff skating party. Thank goodness I keep a big giant whiteboard family calendar to keep it all straight.

I ordered a crapton of yarn today. I’m making these silly little decorative scarves that seem to be really popular. I don’t get them really, but everyone else i know totally digs them. Of course, I live in jeans, t-shirts & sweatshirts, so something decorative wouldn’t really work. I can totally see wearing one and one of the little kids grabbing it and choking me out MMA style, but none of the kids being able to call for help. I say that, but the truth is even the 21 month old here knows how to operate my iPhone better than I do.

And life goes on…

Lots of things keep me from blogging. Life is busy, kids are busy, seasons change.

I made a decision earlier this year to quit trying to be perfect. I”m not perfect and the effort is exhausting. My kids are going to be okay even if I don’t make my own bread, cook everything from scratch, make our own laundry soap, grow organic tomatoes, capture every event in pictures, or knit every scarf we need. Knowing that I CAN do all those things is great, but it doesn’t make me who I am and those things cannot consume my life. For several years I had a silent competition going with online *friends* who I never met, that stage of life is over.

I’m trying hard to not get bogged down by my busy life, but to embrace it. McDonalds, KFC, Domino’s and Taco Bell cook for us more than I’d care for, but trying to cook dinner, get uniforms/practice gear together, and make it to our destinations on time is hard enough. Plus, if I were really on top of all this, I’d have no time to read, run or watch Glee!

It’s football season, cross country season, and racing season for myself. Basketball season is coming up, along with the Holiday season. In keeping with what I tell my kids, Go Big, or Go Home. We’ll keep on going Big right now.

Our last family camping weekend

It has been in the 70’s all week long, and we are taking this final opportunity to go camping with the kids. We bought a new to us hybrid bunkhouse! I already see major advantages. We parked it in the driveway, I loaded the fridge, the freezer and put our stuff in closets & drawers. No more suitcases, totes, or ice-ruined food. No more trampling over the tops of each other to move, no more bed-sharing, and wait for it….no more midnight runs to the potty house down the road!