Dear Grady,

Today is your eighth birthday. This morning when you woke up you told me you still felt seven, and you thought that might be because a whole year didn’t pass during the night, just one night passed, and so it makes sense that you still feel the same age. I love listening to you process thoughts. Even when those thoughts are about Minecraft.

You love to draw and make things out of paper. You go through an obscene amount of tape but you build some really impressive, intricate works of art (which your sister promptly destroys because you tend to leave your art on every surface you can find).

You are kind and thoughtful, and have a very strong sense of doing what’s right. You care deeply about your family and your friends. Sometimes I worry that this world will break your sensitive heart, but then I remember you’ve got Poppy to stomp all over anyone who dares to hurt you.

You look out for your sister, even though she’s in a very pinchy / bitey phase right now. You came with us to her most recent allergy appointment and you patiently sat for hours while the doctor ran his tests. You asked if I remembered the Epi-Pen. When you thought Poppy was having a reaction, you offered to go get the doctor. (She was fine but that’s not the point. The point is you’re eight years old and you care about more than yourself. I am so impressed by you.)

At eight years old you are knobby knees and shaggy hair and fart jokes and stuffed animals shoved under the pillow rather than on display and pages and pages of carefully drawn comic book characters and the deepest belly laugh I’ve ever heard. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Grady, it’s your birthday, and I wish I could give you the moon and the stars. You’ve given me so much more.




I Don't Care (Much)

Recently I’ve been thinking about the gifts my mom gave me throughout my childhood that have formed how I now mother my kids. A simple example of this is my love of cooking. When I was a kid, my mom made all of our meals, from scratch. I grew up watching her cook, learning techniques by osmosis, and developing a love of food and confidence in my kitchen abilities.

A more complex example is something that’s been on my mind and my heart a lot lately. I can’t recall my mom ever doubting her abilities as a mother. I’m sure she did, I’m sure she struggled (there were four of us hooligans, after all) but even though we saw her struggle, we never saw her lose confidence in her mothering abilities. She didn’t compare herself to other mothers. She didn’t blindly follow what other parents were doing. She read books and applied different parenting strategies, but she didn’t base her parenting on what other people in her life thought she should do, she based her decisions on her intuition, her research, and her experience.

I’ve felt the weight of others’ expectations on my parenting since day one. It’s impossible not to, especially now that we’re parenting with the bittersweet tool, the internet. It would be easy to get swept up in what other think I should do. But…I don’t care. And I think it’s because of my parents. I know they must have experienced judgment like we all do, and I’m guessing at times they had conflicting opinions about how to raise us, but they presented a united front and that’s stuck with me. When it comes to parenting our kids, the opinions of other people don’t matter. What matters is that we’re on the same team, we’re doing our best, and we’re doing what we think is right. I just don’t care what other people think of my parenting.

Now, I’m not totally enlightened. I get rattled when I feel like my parenting or my children are being judged. I feel angry and defensive and annoyed. But the negative feelings are fleeting and they don’t influence how I live my life. They don’t change the decisions I make, the same way other people’s opinions didn’t change the parenting decisions my parents made.

It’s possible my mom was too busy to care but I like to think that she’s bestowed upon me the gift of not giving a crap. And I hope my kids grow up and feel similarly.


Meal Plan 07/22/19 - 07/26/19

We just got home from a lovely long weekend away where a lot of potato chips and not a lot of vegetables were consumed. This week is going to be veg heavy is what I’m saying.


Monday: Farfalle with Zucchini and White Beans

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Shawarma served with grilled onions and zucchini, fresh tomatoes and cucumber, and some sort of garlic dipping sauce.

Wednesday: Baked Salmon Cakes served with green salad.

Thursday: Leftovers (said in a sing-songy voice because there is nothing better than leftover night when I don’t have to put an ounce of effort into thinking about the food my family is going to put into their faceholes).

Friday: it’s Grady’s 8th Birthday (WUT?!) so he gets to choose what’s for dinner. If I had to guess, I’d say it will probably be pepperoni pizza from his favourite pizza place.

Poppy's Pediatric Peanut Protocol

Poppy was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when she was nine months old. We’d started playing with solid food around the six month mark, and she’d shown some interest, but we also noticed an increase in how angry she could be (baby gal has never been shy about voicing her rage,) her sometimes rash-y skin became constantly inflamed, and she kept spitting up in earnest (we’d hoped that once she wasn’t exclusively breastfed, maybe she would become less leaky).

On one particularly rough morning, Poppy started crying after breakfast and it wasn’t a normal cry. It was a panicked, anxious cry. There wasn’t anything in our environment to produce this type of cry; Grady was puttering around getting ready for kindergarten, Shawn was at work, the dog was busy eating the breakfast remnants under the highchair, and I was drinking coffee. But Poppy was wailing. She contorted her body and clawed at her sleeper. I thought maybe a bug (what bug? It was winter!) had crawled into her pyjamas so I stripped her down to her diaper. As I peeled the sleeper from her wildly twisting torso, I saw an angry red rash spread over her entire body. I quickly snapped pictures with my iPhone (how did people parent before iPhones? Serious question.) and made an appointment with her doctor as soon as they opened.

Poppy’s doctor looked at the rash photos on my phone and called in an urgent referral to an allergist on the spot. We were seen within days, Poppy’s peanut allergy was confirmed, and we were thrust unwillingly into the world of Epi-Pens and IgE blood tests.

When Poppy was first diagnosed, her allergist told us that because she was so young there was an approximately 20% chance she could grow out of her peanut allergy. As the years passed and her skin prick test reactions got smaller and smaller, he upped his estimation to 50%. Last April, her skin didn’t react to peanut protein. We were ready for an Oral Food Challenge.

Today was the big day. The day Poppy would eat peanut butter, on purpose, after almost two and a half years of us creating a peanut-free bubble for her. To say that I was anxious is an understatement. I couldn’t even acknowledge the day, or talk about it with anyone, until yesterday. Last night I slept in drips and drabs, spending the majority of my hours just watching Poppy breathe. I was in excellent shape to face a challenging day this morning is what I’m saying.

The challenge itself was just that: a challenge. Poppy was confused and frustrated that I was trying to get her to eat peanut butter after our years of allergy training. Grady was with us because he’s on summer break, and I underestimated a: how freaked out he would be and b: how pissed off Poppy would be that I made her brother anxious. I am still processing the event (I literally zoned out when we gave her the first taste of peanut butter. I have zero recollection of it) but the result was better than we dared to hope. Poppy ate a significant amount of peanut butter and suffered no reaction. No rash, no hives, no runny nose, no vomit, no tingling, no wheezing, no rage, nothing, nada, zip, zero. It still doesn’t feel real.

So now Poppy starts a pediatric peanut protocol to build and maintain her immunity against peanuts. We’re starting slow and steady. We’ll feed her tiny amounts of peanut butter regularly and cross all of our fingers and all of our toes that she stays symptom-free.

We’re not out of the allergy woods yet (she’s still allergic to eggs) but it is a huge relief to cross peanuts off my worry list. Being responsible for a tiny allergic person is overwhelmingly stressful in a way I struggle to articulate. It was terrible. Today it feels less terrible.