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Earlier this week I freaked out friends and family by talking about life changes vaguely in the same post as me being depressed over the loss of Jerad. I mentioned I wasn’t quite ready to talk about some of these changes, but I am ready to talk about one of them now.

I know I’ve mentioned that we’ve been gearing up for the Oldest Kidlet to go to kindergarten. We’d signed up for a tour of his school (the private Church based school that his dad and uncles went to), and were gearing up for their aggressive kindergarten program… when they gave us the registration form with the monthly tuition. Even anticipating the extended hours and a higher cost… it was more than we thought. And the family discount was less than we thought.

So we had to sit down and figure out if it was even possible…. and realized that it wasn’t. So the Oldest Kidlet will be going to the public school right around the corner. While the school won’t be as academically challenging, I know that any friends he makes will at least be in the neighborhood. Which excites me.

The Little Kidlet has been enrolled at the preschool- we’re having him at the same school, mostly because they’ve seen him all year long and already know a bit about him. So I won’t be springing his allergies on them. Or the fact that he’s really really quiet. The director of the preschool has already assured me that if he suddenly starts talking that they’ll put him in the academic program vs the language one.

Of course, this means that my little boys are growing up. And as the preschool director pointed out, I’m actually going to have some time to myself. Scary…

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

thesilversiren: (Default)

I have a 3 year old son with major allergies. At roughly 2 months, he had severe eczema and when it didn’t start to clear up, we went through a series of doctors and at 6 months he was diagnosed with severe allergies to: soy, dairy, peanuts, wheat and eggs.

While society has become better about food allergies- many restaurants list allergens, food labels are more clear than ever and schools in general are more understanding. But every so often, I see public comments that remind me how little people really understand about food allergies- especially severe ones.

Last month, Chicago Tribune’s “Ask Amy” column shared this letter and response:

Dear Amy: Recently I threw a baby shower luncheon for my sister-in-law. One guest called to tell me that she is a vegetarian, and another guest called to “inform me” that she is on a strict gluten-free diet. I didn’t mind their giving me this information, but what upset me was their “you need to accommodate me” attitude. I didn’t know either lady, and neither offered to bring a dish that would suit her needs. It took a lot of extra work for me to make the dishes to satisfy their diets.

My mother-in-law told me that I should have stuck to my original menu and let the “special” guests worry about their own needs. What do you think is proper?

— Hostess Who Gave the Mostest

Dear Hostess: Sometimes you just can’t win. If guests with special diets can’t consume the offerings at a meal, hosts feel frustrated and wish they had been informed ahead of time.

If people contact you before an event informing you of their special dietary needs, it is kind of you to extend your generosity by trying to provide whatever food they can eat.

You could easily cover both the vegetarian and the gluten-free diet by providing a vegetable and a fruit salad.

I agree with you that preparing for special diets stretches your hospitality; you might have prompted these women to adjust their attitudes and also assist you by asking, “Could you give me some suggestions about specific dishes you can eat?”

If a suggestion is beyond your ability to provide, you should be honest and say so.

While this is fairly sound advice, there’s a problem. My mother’s a vegetarian, and quite often she’s shown up to family parties to discover that the only thing she can eat is the plain green salad when there’s quite the spread elsewhere. Or maybe a crudite platter. When we were planning my wedding, it was shocking how many places felt satisfied to serve a vegetarian guest a sad plate of vegetables as their entree. And while she does eat seafood, quite often people will prepare them with bacon and sort of expect her to pick around the bacon.

The easiest solution for a hostess is to say that they’re not familiar with cooking that sort of cuisine, and ask if it would be possible for them to bring their own entree. And say, “I understand it’s asking a bit of you, but I’m just not familiar with it and don’t want you to wind up only being able to have the side salad.” For most people, the honesty would be appreciated.

Honestly, I offer to bring food for my son when we’re invited somewhere (and even when we dine out at a restaurant I’m not familiar with). It’s ridiculous for me to assume that someone could easily accommodate his needs. But that’s me.

Then there’s dining out. Consider these two tweets posted by Chef Rick Bayless (@rick_bayless).

While I find myself constantly frustrated by attitudes of chefs against alternative diets (quite often allergens are hidden in foods, and it’s not unusual to find meat items hidden in dishes that seem vegetarian), I have to say that I’m proud of Rick Bayless for his attitude. He was extremely right in being honest with the guest in saying that because they use peanuts in many dishes that the entire kitchen was likely contaminated.

The guest on the other hand… I can’t think of a single person with a severe food allergy who would take this attitude. Or to insist that a restaurant have epi-pens on hand. I have to assume that this was someone who was hoping to shake him down for some money, and not just your average person with allergies.

My son’s allergic to soy. I wouldn’t dream of taking him to an Asian restaurant, or expect that somehow they would be able to make their dishes without soy (granted, he’s allergic to many other foods, but I’m trying to simplify my point). When I pick a restaurant to eat at with my mom, I usually see if they have a menu posted on their website and ask her if there’s anything that looks good to her. And after the Thanksgiving 2007 debacle (where she was brought a minestrone soup that was made in beef stock), I usually call to make sure that what appears to be a vegetarian dish is actually vegetarian.

…Now I’m getting sidetracked. This was going to be about etiquette. I propose that those of us with allergies/special diets (or who care for those with them) follow a few simple rules.

1. When invited to a party with a meal, call well in advance to make sure that the host/hostess is aware of your food limitations. If you have several, it might be difficult for the host to accommodate you. Be prepared to offer to bring a dish or two that you can enjoy.

2. When dining out, be prepared to ask questions about the dishes. So it might be wise to avoid cuisines that feature a lot of your allergens, and wise to contact the restaurant well in advance with questions. And be prepared for chefs to not understand food allergies/special diets.

3. Be patient. While you’ve learned all about your diet/allergies… it’s not always common knowledge. Many people seem to confuse allergies with a dislike of the food, and don’t understand that there are serious reactions. And most people believe that gluten-free means you can’t eat anything at all.

Any thoughts? Things you would want to add to the list – or things you disagree with? I know I don’t speak much about the Little Kidlet’s allergies, but it’s a big part of our life… and something that I’d like to hear about from you.

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

thesilversiren: (Default)

'You underestimate the Power of Social Networking.'

Wow, last week was a slow blogging week. Not intentional, I assure you. As I blogged, the little guy had a rough week, which meant that I had less computer time and mostly wanted to go straight to bed as soon as they were in bed.

He seems to be doing better- either that or I finally figured out how to help expedite the end of his tantrums. I’m not sure. But somehow we’ve settled into a groove.

But that has nothing to do with social networking. This does. Yesterday morning, a food stylist was on a flight and was pulled from it for questioning before take off. Why? A passenger had noted his “Atom Bomb” tattoo across his fingers and felt he was a flight risk. He explained that Atom Bomb was a nickname, and was allowed back on the flight. But he tweeted about it. His followers shared it, and it spread like wildfire. I’ve yet to see any sort of statement from Delta.

When I shared this link, a family friend shared that she sat next to someone who had recently been reading a book on Islam, but left it at home because he knew someone who’d been pulled off a flight for doing so. I understand that people are still afraid of terrorism, but we’ve become so terrified of something that isn’t so much a risk anymore that now we’re profiling individuals based on their appearance.

Honestly, I probably would have let this slide if it had been the flight crew who were concerned. Or if there had been some sort of comment that was paired with his tattoo that made the passenger think he might be a risk. But it wasn’t. It was one person who looked at him with his tattoos and judged him based on it.

Another friend of mine brought up that like Kevin Smith and SouthWest Airlines, that this was aided by his status as a well known food stylist who was followed on Twitter by celebrity chefs. I’m sure it caused it to spread more quickly, but it’s not like individuals haven’t had their stories heard because they weren’t celebrities. All it took was a catchy video, and the musician whose guitar was destroyed by United Airlines was making the morning news circuit. And Monica Gaudio wasn’t anyone- but it only took a few days for her story about Cooks Source stealing her material to spread across the internet and ruin the magazine.

I’m sure that being a celebrity helps- but honestly, so long as your story is relatable it doesn’t take much for it to go viral. After all, you just have to click Retweet or Share and suddenly, you’re sharing it with all of your friends/followers who can pass it on just as easily. See? That’s the power of social networking. (Admittedly, not all of us regularly crash websites like Neil Gaiman, but you know- we all have reach)

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

How rude!

Nov. 10th, 2010 10:54 am
thesilversiren: (Default)

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m going through a bit of a trying time with the Little Kidlet. It’s a little like Jekyll and Hyde- he’s mild mannered Mister Mister or the screaming, limp bodied Mister Monster (nickname courtesy of TheBoy).

My back, which was injured during my tenure at Disneyland and has never quite gotten back to 100%, is already sore from his new trick of going limp when he doesn’t want to go somewhere. So today, we started to walk through the parking lot at school and when I asked him to give me my hand… he started crawling. I scooped him up and carried him kicking and screaming across the lot and set him down when we were at the sidewalk, and he resumed crawling. Of course, as the preschool starts a half hour after the rest of the school, there were plenty of parents around to watch me try to deal with the crawling child.

The Oldest Kidlet, meanwhile, just wanted to get to class and was pleading with his brother to walk.

The usually short walk to preschool took about 6 times longer than it should. I’d pick him up and carry him as far as he could, set him down to have him start crawling again.

Most of the moms understood, and at least showed pity. A few told me that his age is tough, a few touched my shoulder sympathetically. And others might not have said anything, but they opened the gates for me and doors while I carried the kidlet.

It’s not uncommon for some kids to be dropped off by their grandparents, and there was a little boy about LK’s age who was being taken by his grandmother. Who for some reason, decided it was appropriate to point and laugh. Not just once or twice… but each of the four times we saw her.

I’m used to quiet judging. There are the moms who look at our Saturn and sneer as they get into their luxury SUVs. There are the moms in their nice workout clothes who look down their noses at me in my boots and skinny jeans. But I can take that. Pointing and laughing? I’m not sure there’s a culture where that’s socially acceptable at all.

For what it’s worth, I outsmarted him on the way back. I realized that he would run (which we could easily do since most everyone was leaving the school, not walking in), and so I had him run to each gate we have to pass to leave the preschool. We got in the car, though, and I melted down. I cried, utterly humiliated by this ridiculously rude woman.

I thought about not sharing this, but it seemed wrong not to. No matter what our ethnic background, we should be a little understanding about other caregivers. Raising kids is hard, and sometimes we all just need a little support- whether it’s a door opened for a mom with full arms or just a little reassuring that it’s just a phase. But I can assure you that the last thing that anyone needs is to be laughed at.

Want to tell me to grow up? Have a story to share to make me feel better? Comments always welcome!

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

thesilversiren: (Default)

I remember when the oldest kidlet was just hitting 2. I expressed concern about his tantrums to my mom. Okay, I was whining about how tantrums and worried that the temper he’d inherited from both TheBoy and myself was now coming back to bite me in the ass.

My mom told me this- “No matter how bad you think two is, three will be worse.”

She was right. The Oldest Kidlet hit his tantrum stride when he was three, and when he turned four, he started to mellow out. I should state for all posterity that the Oldest Kidlet’s meltdowns were seldom in public, and mostly just at home. Nobody ever believed me when I said he could be horrible.

Fast forward to the Little Guy, who turned 3 last month. He has always been the most easy going, mellow and sweet little boy. Always there to cuddle and hug… and now he melts down. If you’re walking and he’s displeased, he goes limp. And he yells! My sweet little guy now looks at me and talks back.

So whoever decided to call the twos “Terrible”… I wish I had a time machine to convince you that it’s three, that’s worse. Also, maybe I’d make you pay for my massage bills, because the LK going limp is killing my back! But Mom, thanks for the heads-up.

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

thesilversiren: (Default)

Not the literal kind. We had a birthday party on Sunday and I didn’t get much sleep the night before hand, so I was drained yesterday. The boys were wound up as only children with brand new toys can be.

Just in time for Halloween, Kate Beaton of Hark, a Vagrant has her take on Dracula. Hilarious stuff. Dracula was always one of my favorite books and I wish for a movie that accurately captures the story. A play, too. Most do strange things to the plot.

Back to the birthday party- this was for the little guy, and had been delayed a week since last weekend I was laid up with a migraine. When I’d bought ingredients to make gluten-free desserts for the little guy, I was missing one component for my flour mix. And because the little guy usually turns up his nose at anything I’ve baked, we bought a cake for the rest of us and I put a candle in something that I knew he’d love. A bowl of sticky, white rice.

He wasn’t very happy when it came time to blow out the candle- not because of the candle (which used to be the case with his big brother), but because he’d been happily playing in the dirt in the backyard. So while the adults served themselves dessert, we opened up presents and voila! he was a happy child again. He even oooh-ed and aaahh-ed over each gift.

He got some new toy horses, some new Thomas the Tank engine cars, a Hot Wheels set and a Disney’s Cars playset. The real winner seems to be the Hot Wheels track which is all about crashing cars. But we’ve spent (we being the adults) a fair amount of time trying to set it up so they won’t crash right away and testing which cars stay in the longest.

Of the cars we own, the winner is… the Mach 5! From the Speed Racer line of cars. So glad that we wound up with a ton of those, because everyone wanted to put in their own Mach 5 to the race. So, Go Speed Racer Go!

Which reminds me- I have a habit of falling in love with movies that didn’t do all that well in the box office. Like, Speed Racer. No, it isn’t the original cartoon. Yes, it’s bright. But you know what? It is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in awhile- beautiful in a way that just doesn’t apply to most movies.

The Wakowskis wanted to create a movie that seemed like a comic book come to life, and they did! You can practically feel the panels moving right in front of you. Not only that, they fully visualized what a world would be like that revolved around automobile racing- and it’s fun! So if you passed on it when it was in the theaters, try it out! Just have a pair of sunglasses handy- if you’re not prepared, it’s awfully bright. (And if your kids really love it, don’t mention that there was a line of cars- otherwise, you’ll be scouring eBay and Amazon for the cars like I did)

Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

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