Peanut Sniffing Dog.


I had an amazing conversation with a woman named Sharon who owns this dog training facility. She takes dogs from kill shelters and trains them to be service dogs. Not only service dogs, but peanut/nut sniffing service dogs! Yep, you read it right these dogs will actually sniff out peanut and other nut proteins even in minute traces. They can tell the difference between the big Hershey bars and the little cross contaminated ones, can distinguish between a package that has some nut contamination and the product inside the package, and can point specifically to a spot where the contamination is - like a shirt sleeve or coat pocket. Since these dogs are service dogs they can accompany their owners everywhere, schools, airplanes, and restaurants even.

After I talked to Sharon I spoke to one of her first peanut-sniffing-dog clients for about an hour and was even more amazed. This woman has a dog for her 9 year old son and says it is the best investment she has ever made. They take the dog with them everywhere and says that she is constantly stunned at how often nut proteins show up. The dog has found contamination in foods that she had diligently worked with restaurant chefs to make safe, on seats, on people, on the bottoms of their shoes, door knobs, rides in amusement parks, in paints in her sons art class, everywhere. She said prior to this dog her son would have been in more danger than she would have ever known.

We are very diligent when it comes to what Alec eats and comes in contact with but I wonder, how much has he been touching or ingesting that we do not even know about. On those (unfortunately frequent) days when he breaks into hives, or can't stop itching his arms, or has that not-so-random stomach problem, are those the days when he is picking up tiny bits of nut proteins? And what about in 13 days when we board an airplane that used to serve peanuts on the same seats we are sitting. Or when the person 3 rows down cracks open that pack of peanut butter crackers? The price of a peanut sniffing dog might just be more justifiable when you are playing russian roulette with your child's life 35 thousand feet in the air and only have enough epinephrine to keep him alive for 45 minutes.


Countdown: 18 days left.


Yesterday, for Alec's 18-days-left pocket, Diane showed up as a surprise. And, boy was he ever. When I told him to go into the mudroom and check his pocket he squealed with delight when he spied Diane attempting to fit herself into a lunch bag. Alec LOVES when she comes and manages to position himself right next to her, completely attached to her, everywhere she goes. Bless her for being as patient as she is.


Disney Countdown.


We are in full Florida countdown mode. Since our Christmas Advent calendar was such a hit we decided to do another in preparation for Disney.

Each day Alec gets a countdown bag that contains some little object to prepare for our trip. Some coloring pages right from the Disney site, stickers depicting Disney characters, a movie from Netflix here and there, and sometimes just a little note with some fun activity we can all do together. As we get closer we will start adding things for him to bring with us like a beach ball for the pool, an autograph book for the park, an age specific map of the Magic Kingdom (printed right from the Disney site) etc. And in the last bag (he will open the morning we fly out) we will include a little set of airplane supplies: gum, a coloring book, a movie for the plane, and a variety of other things he can do while we are in the air.

He is so excited every morning to get his "Disney Pocket" and really, this is just as much fun for Ave and I :)


52 Blessings: Week 6: Our Family


We are so fortunate to have parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and each other. This week, we are very thankful not for the things we have but for who we have.


The Gynecologist.


A gynecologist had become fed up with malpractice insurance and HMO paperwork and was burned out.

Hoping to try another career where skillful hands would be beneficial he decided to become a mechanic.

He went to the local technical college, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently, and learned all he could.

When the time for the practical exam approached, the gynecologist prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill. When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had obtained a score of 150%.

Fearing an error, he called the instructor, saying, "I don't want to Appear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wonder if there is an error in the grade."

The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total mark. You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the mark."

After a pause, the instructor added, "I gave you an extra 50% because you did it all through the muffler, which I've never seen done in my entire career."

Have a great morning :)


Nut Contamination (and no, I am not talking about our family)


Here is a very good perspective on nut cross contamination written by the husband of a nut allergic woman. The first part of this article discusses their issues with cross contamination and how even with their extreme diligence those pesky nuts manage to creep into everything. Breads, sauces, pastries, and even after the staff assured them all was safe and nut free.

The second part is geared toward waitstaff and kitchens. Please read and as he requests, feel free to pass on to anyone you know in food service or who might have an interest. The more restaurant staff knows the better we will all be.

We have already cut back our dining for other reasons but had we not, this would have easily sealed the "limited restaurant exposure" deal for us.



Public School #2 and Private School #4

Public school #2

The school I had heard so much about. People said it is wonderful, one of the best public schools in the county, great, blah blah. I found the total opposite to be true. Here are my observations:

1. Long drive - 35 minutes to be exact! Even if this was our district school and we had bus service I would still have to drive the boy. He can't ride the bus until he can carry his epi's on his person. So this school would require 4 trips a day at 35 each way. Ouch.

2. The school is kind of gross. It is dirty, old and in some disrepair. I spent the 15 minutes I was being ignored by the office staff looking at the corners and trying to figure out if the line of damp darkness was mold or just grime.

3. A very "closed" door policy. Every other school that I have been to at this point was very open when I showed up. Took me around, introduced me to people. The first school the principal encouraged me to sit in on multiple classes and multiple teachers, this one said when I asked if I could, "we do not encourage parents, it disrupts the classroom". Oh. Wow. OK.

4. With all this yuckiness there were two redeeming traits. First, they had a fairly well defined peanut policy and seemed very knowledgeable. Second, this was by far the most diverse school yet.

Private School #4

This was one that I was not all that interested in but loved the location so I thought I would check it out anyway. Observations:

1. Uber religious. Bible study every day and chapel every week. I am hardly anti-religion and really liked the other religious school I looked at but ultimately Averill and I are believers in the separation of religion and schooling especially when it is a fear-based religion.

2. No diversity. Not surprising, I know, given that this is private and religious

3. Very open and welcoming. The staff was great, the admissions counselor very nice and I got to talk to a teacher in one of the kindergarten rooms and really liked him.

4. Very vague peanut policy but clearly would be willing to make whatever accommodations needed.

If it was not for points 1 and 2 I would be really happy with this one. The building is nice, classrooms clean, on the "cheaper" side of the private schools and a very welcoming atmosphere.


Happy Birthday Averill!


Join me in wishing Ave a happy and safe middle age :)


52 blessings week 5:


Health Insurance - a benefit I often take for granted. The cause for a lot of headaches; submitting claims, organizing receipts, following up with the administrators to make sure payments are applied to deductibles. Despite the tedious and tiring aspect of keeping up with the paperwork, we are fortunate to be in a position to have health insurance.

In a nation where approximately 46 million people, (18% of the population under age 65) did not have health insurance in 2007; Laura, Alec and I are very grateful to have it.

Especially when you have a wonderful child who happens to have a deadly peanut allergy, and is asthmatic, the cost of medications adds up quickly. A few of the prescriptions Alec could be on at any given time with their associated costs are as follows:

Drug Name - Our Cost/Insurance Paid
EPIPEN JR 0.15 MG AUTO-INJCT - $25/$75
PULMICORT 0.5 MG/2 ML RESPULE - $25/$350

I could not imagine living the current quality of life without health insurance.
For this we are grateful.
- Averill


Private School #3


To continue with our "school shopping" here are the observations with Private School #3:

1. Operates on a half-day schedule with the option to stay all day
2. Very knowledgeable when it comes to the peanut allergy and how to manage it
3. Great student - teacher ratio (15 students to one teacher and one parent volunteer)
4. Fairly close drive for us
5. reasonably priced

I really like this school however, the one negative is that kindergarten is the last grade there. So, he would be moving from where he is now to the new school then after kindergarten to yet another school. It is hard for me to remember back in the kindergarten/first grade years but we moved during this time and if I recall correctly I was devastated. How much will a move to a new school for kindergarten then yet another for 1st impact him? Hard to say I suppose.

On top of the school shopping I have just finished two books, Brain Rules by John Medina, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and am in the middle of The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre, and each of them say the same thing: traditional school is one of the worst places for kids (boys and girls) to actually learn. GREAT, now what?

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP