It’s taken me a while to write this post. I wanted to process what happened and not act on emotion and it’s taken me much longer than expected to do that. 

“Hello,” I answered the phone as I sat in the parking lot of Macks’ preschool. I’d arrived early that day, so decided to eat lunch in the car and catch up on emails before going into get him.

“Hi. Everything is okay, but I need you to come to my office right away.” It was the Director of the preschool. She’s never called me before. If anything, she’s texted me telling me I was late on turning in a form (which is standard as I try to juggle life with three active kids.) But she’s never called.

I knew something was wrong. I threw my lunch down and ran into her office.

“Sit down,” she prompted. “Macks is okay, but I want you to know he’s ingested some nuts.”

Tears immediately streamed down my face and hundreds of thoughts ran through my head.

“A parent brought in some cupcakes for a student’s birthday and while the teacher asked many times what the ingredients were, she forgot to mention it had almond paste in the icing.”

The tears became sobs and I pondered on what to even say.

“He didn’t show any signs of an allergic reaction, but we gave him Benadryl as stated in his allergy action plan. He’s upstairs and acting normal.”

I sat there stunned. While they might have followed his allergy action plan as stated by his doctors, they didn’t follow my allergy action plan, which was to NEVER, under any circumstance, give him outside food without my permission.

“Lauren, you should have brought something in for him to eat,” she said to me.

“I didn’t know about this celebration!” I yelled in shock, fear, and anger.

Her reaction to the situation wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Rather than give me the comfort I so desperately needed in that time, she somehow made me believe this was my fault for not bringing him a separate treat.

I ran outside of her office and upstairs to his classroom. I just wanted to see him and see with my own eyes that he was okay. As soon as he came out of the room, I squeezed him. Thankfully, he was oblivious to what happened and was a tad bit confused as to why I was in tears. His teacher was very apologetic and felt horrible about the situation. I told her it was okay (which is wasn’t,) because I didn’t know what else to say. I was still in shock.

I took Macks downstairs and into the car where I called MacKay in hysterics. I explained to him what happened and he quickly told me he’d head home from the city so we could take care of the situation. Macks sat in the back of the car and just kept telling me he was sorry, which broke my heart even more.

Macks felt safe.

School is safe. His teacher is safe.

And that’s why he took the cupcake.

This wasn’t his fault.

In the two and a half years since he’s been diagnosed with severe food allergies, we’ve been working so hard with him about what he can and cannot eat and how to react in situations with outside food. We’ve trained him to ask before eating anything. He’s been so good with it. If he can’t have a treat, he doesn’t react by being hurt, he knows that we will eventually get something for him that’s safe for him to eat. By educating everyone in our family and those close to us, we’ve been very successful in avoiding foods that could possibly give Macks a reaction.

Shortly after getting off the phone with MacKay, I called his allergist just to make sure there was nothing else I was supposed to do. This was the first time he’d ingested something we knew he was allergic to, so I’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared on how to react or what to do. I was told to watch him, to look for delayed reactions, and to administer the epi-pen if he showed any difficulties breathing. Thankfully, none of that ever happened.

This situation was one hundred percent preventable. While our school has a no nut policy, it wasn’t properly enforced or communicated properly with parents, and therefore a mistake was made. And it was with that mistake, I became an advocate for my son.

In the weeks following the incident, MacKay and I took action. This incident should have never happened and we wanted to make sure that not only does it not happen to Macks again, but any child in our school. We did research to see what policy other schools in the area have. We met with our preschool director and insisted that the food allergy policy immediately be changed in the school.

We also wanted to make sure the teachers (and any parents that wanted) were educated on food allergies. While they do undergo training prior to each school year, this incident still happened, which means more education is necessary.

The school did change the food policy and does not allow any outside food into the classroom (other than what parents bring in for their own children,) but we are, nearly six months later, still challenging his school to do more.  We won’t back down until more action is made to keep our children safe.

I am not an expert in food allergies. I continue to educate myself everyday so I can know more and better help Macks as he takes this lifelong journey. The more I educate myself on food allergies, the more I can raise awareness with others. The more I can educate those around me. The more I can protect my son.

And that’s exactly what I was put on this Earth to do.

 

 

It’s safe to say that our winter here in Connecticut felt like it lasted forever. The snow last well into April, and we’re still waking up on some mornings need layers of clothes because there is a definite chill in the air. While the kids still have a month left of school, we’re starting the unofficial start of summer as soon as those temperatures heat up.

Last weekend proved how fickle the weather in Connecticut can be. On Saturday, temperatures were in the low fifties and we were breaking out the long pants and jackets, while on Sunday, temperatures neared 80 and we quickly grabbed our swim suits and hurried to the beach.


One of my favorite things about living in Connecticut is how close we are to everything. The “beach” (it’s really the sound, but we’ll take it) is only minutes away, we can make it to the city in less than an hour (when the traffic gods are in our favor,) and we can go snow skiing in just a short drive. I truly feel like the we the best of both worlds.

As soon as the weather heats up, most of our time is spent at the beach and at the pool. Our kids love the water and could spend nearly every waking moment of their day by the water. As they are getting older, our trips to the beach and the pool have gotten a lot more fun and relaxing. They don’t need as much assistance and can entertain themselves, while I can relax a bit and catch up on a good book or magazine (I never thought I’d see the day.)

At the beginning of summer every year, I buy the kids bathing suits. Knowing how much time we spend by the water, I not only want them stylish, but ones that will hold up to all of their swimming, jumping, and horseplay. For years, I’ve purchased Lands’ End swimsuits for the kids. Their selection has checked all of the boxes, with durability, style, and fit.

This year I decided not only to get the kids a swimsuit, but to splurge on myself a little bit and get myself a swimsuit. Lands’ End has so many women’s swimsuits to choose from. Since one-piece swimsuits are all the rage, I decided to jump on that bandwagon and get one for myself. It’s been years since I’ve purchased a one-piece, so I loved using the True Fit sizing guide. By answering just a few simple questions, they were able to tell me which size they recommend. And their recommendation was spot on! I was able to run around after the kids while still feeling comfortable and confident in my swimsuit.

With Memorial Day this weekend, it’s the unofficial start of summer. We’ve got the bags packed and ready to spend the long weekend by the water.  If you need us, we’ll be hanging out at the beach.

Lands’ End is declaring today, May 22, as National Swimsuit Day. To celebrate, all regular priced swimwear for women, men and kids, as well as swim tees, beach towels, totes and water shoes will be 50% off. To make sure everyone is ready for the start of Memorial Day Weekend, the company is also offering FREE expedited shipping for Friday delivery. The offer will be valid with promotional code SWIM and pin 2018 when ordering.

Swimsuit details: My Swimsuit  and Cover-UpHarlan’s Swimsuit | Avery’s Swimsuit | Macks’ Swimsuit and Top | Lands’ End Bag and Towel

Last month, we took a family vacation down to Florida to visit my parents. We hadn’t been in over a year (which is a long time for us,) so it was a much needed warm break in the middle of a nasty winter.

Our trip included visits to some of our favorite places in and around Tampa. It was strawberry season during our trip, which meant Parksdale Farm had their famous strawberry shortcake and milkshakes. It’s a little bit of heaven right there in Tampa.

It’s safe to say we spent nearly all of our time outdoors. We took advantage of the warm weather. the kids were in my parents pool nearly every single morning and stayed there the entire day. Made me realize these kids don’t need much to keep them occupied other than a place to go swimming.

We always try to make it to Disney while we visit my parents. The kids have been many many times, so rather than doing our usual of Magic Kingdom, we opted for Epcot. It was so much more fun than I remember and the kids had a blast too.

Harlan is a huge Harry Potter fan and has been begging us to go to Universal Studios to see Harry Potter World. We took a day and spent it there and really had a blast. We had so much fun I forgot to take many photos! That’s always indicative of a good time.

We haven’t flown with the kids in a while and this was the first trip we’ve taken that all three kids were capable of handling their own things (which was a very nice chapter of our lives to enter). It was also our first trip on an airplane since Macks has been diagnosed with several severe food allergies. I’ve shared many tips about traveling with babies, and since the kids are getting older, I figured it was a great time to share some of our tips for traveling as they are in toddler-hood and beyond. I also wanted to share with you some things I learned on this trip about traveling with a child with severe food allergies.

 

 

  1. Kid-Sized Backpack: As any parent who has traveled with kids knows, they require a lot of stuff. While it tends to dwindle as they get older, you still need stuff to keep them occupied. My kids are finally at the age they can carry all of the stuff they need while on the airplane. I made sure to get them a backpack that didn’t take over their entire body. These 7AM Enfant Mini Backpacks were the perfect size for all three kids. They were easy to open, had plenty of pockets and were roomy enough to fit everything they needed. And best of all, they carried it all themselves.
  2. Kid-Sized Carry-On Suitcase: Finally, gone are the days when I have to pack all three kids clothes and shoes in my own suitcase. Because each kid needs an airplane seat, they are allowed two carry-on items. One of them was their backpack, the other was their suitcase with their clothes and shoes. We tried three different brands of suitcases (with three different price-points) for the kids and the Away Kids’ Carry-On and it was by far the best suitcase for the price. It was durable, had so much space, and even came with a portable charger that came in handy while we were at Disney World! We used the suitcase as Macks’ suitcase and it was a bit hard for him to manage, but with a little bit of practice he was able to get the hang of it and push it through the airport.
  3. Cup with a Lid: good2growWe have so many of these cups in our house and the kids often use them as water bottles because they don’t spill. I brought three empty ones and put them in the kids’ backpacks so that we would not only have something easy for them to use once we got to Florida, but also so we could put their drinks on the airplane in them. There is nothing worse than getting water or apple juice spilled all over you or the kids on an airplane, so I just had them put the drink directly into the bottle and we were good to go! We also used these while at the parks in Orlando.
  4. Shoes that are Easy to Slide On and Off: I made this mistake on the way to Florida, but quickly learned on the way back. My kids love to take their shoes off on the airplane. It’s difficult to do with sneakers you have to tie. On the way home, the wore sandals (we love these Freshly Picked sandals) and the kids were able to take them off and put them back on all by themselves. Made it so much easier while we were hurrying to get off of the airplane.
  5. Wipes: It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, you always need baby wipes for something. These wipes not only came in handy when the kids made a mess, but I also used them to wipe off Macks’ seat and tray as soon as we boarded the plane. For all allergy parents, I called the airline right after I booked our tickets to let them know of Macks’ food allergies. They told me to tell the gate agent and they’d put a note on his ticket about his allergies. As we arrived to the airport, I told the gate agent who let us board the plane early to wipe everything down. I also notified the flight attendants of his food allergies who told me they wouldn’t serve any food that Macks was allergic to and they would also let the rows in front of and behind us of Macks’ allergies. I couldn’t be more pleased with the service we received and how seriously the airline (Delta) took his food allergies. They were super accommodating.
  6. Travel Blanket: Our flight to Florida was later in the evening, so I knew the kids would most likely fall asleep. To keep them warm and comfortable on the flight, I bought them a travel blanket to carry with them. I prefer the travel blankets because they are easy to fold up and carry rather than drag everywhere we go.
  7. Headphones: I bought these headphones for the kids years ago and they have been the best purchase for the kids. They have two headphone jacks on either side and allow for audio sharing. I originally bought them so both girls could listen and watch the iPad during a flight, but they worked out really well while watching in-flight entertainment. The fold up and come with a bag so they are easy to pack up and carry.
  8. Coloring Books: While the in-flight entertainment kept them busy on the way to Florida, there was no in-flight entertainment on the way back which was devastating (especially for Macks.) Thankfully I bought these coloring books  ahead of time to keep them busy. I bought them one that matched their interests which helped keep them occupied just a little bit longer. Macks’ Power Rangers coloring book also had stickers, which is always a win-win with a four year-old.