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Friday, August 31, 2012

Hi My Name is...

Just when I was gearing up my super kid, the one in whom I put my biggest hopes and dreams, for the most important interview (at age four) with the principal at the most selective and top-rated (public french immersion) school I wanted to enroll him in; my math genius, the soccer star, future Olympic swimmer or military helicopter pilot... seems to miss the gravity of the occasion.  How did I not adequately prepare him for this most important yet ordinary task? How I could I have possibly prepared myself for possibly the most embarrassing moment of my life as a mother? All I wanted him to do was firmly shake the Principal's hand and say, "Bonjour monsier. Je m'appelle AJ." Instead, my dear little AJ who was climbing all over the waiting room furniture and acting like a circus monkey, looked at the  Monsieur Principal directly in the eye and zestfully declared, "Hi my name is poo poo." Actually giggling a little bit, the principal seemed to give him another chance. I'm trying to hide my absolute horror and I nearly stop breathing as AJ says, "Actually my name is doo-doo".

How do I recover from this interview that has already started off so bad?

Fortunately he leads us to the office anyways, and Maggie has the good sense to actually say Bonjour and we continue with the appointment.  We are at the school to register Maggie for SK and AJ for JK.  I apologize that my husband was unable to join us, the military guy just returning from a business trip to the farthest place you could be and still be in Canada. (Can you guess where that is, where the sun never sets in the summer) In my head I'm thinking that probably the Principal and the Vice Principal must be wondering, who is this mother with frazzled hair and a giant belly tugging along two bratty kids in non-impressive outfits. Instead he comments that we must be so excited about the third child coming and I tell them that actually there is a two year old brother napping at home, so this number 4. That was a good ice breaker because he starts to tell us about the Preschool program at the school for ages three and up, and that I should pick up the registration forms and register right away as this would be very helpful to prepare him for Kindergarten.  He even grabs the preschool teacher who happens to be in the hallway to introduce our family. Cool!

My husband had warned me that this was more of an interview for the parents to show, despite being born anglophones,  that we could in fact support the children in the French program and help them in homework at home in all subjects that would be taught entirely in French. There would be no English instruction until Grade 4.  My original plan was that my husband who had recently completed and passed the French language training and bilingual requirements for his rank, would do most of the talking in French and I would just smile and nod. This is the reason I elected to complete this whole discussion up to this point in English.

Before Maggie and AJ get too restless, they offer colouring books and magnetic playsets while we keep talking. They hand me a stack of forms to fill out as we keep talking about the children and their present schooling and exposure to French; they ask about how much French I know and how well I speak it. I slowly switch into French and I am moderately surprised that I am alright to converse; something I learned in Grade 4 until high school is coming back to life.

However when they ask Maggie to demonstrate her handwriting and artistic capability to "draw something" and she becomes withdrawn and shy, almost to tears. I have to remain calm and I ask AJ to write his name and draw something but he decides to mutiny as well!  The Principal said that they only wanted to verify that the three point pencil grip and have a sense of their fine motor control in writing.  I am shocked because my kids have done lots of handwritten notes to me (To Mom From MAGGIE xoxox) and as part of their Kumon homework they are writing numbers 1 to 70. This time I am adequately prepared with their Monart class Portfolio and their Kumon homework!

Bonus points for Mom!
I pull out the Kumon folder and show Maggie's work for writing 1 - 60; I feel like they don't really believe me that she did it, maybe it's a language barrier. Anyway I point out the name and date for each page she writes herself and even the signature backward G.  I could've pulled out AJ's book too, but I think they were only semi-convinced that Maggie could hold her pencil correctly. It is not observed but adequately inferred.  I am so glad that Brian told me to bring the art folder too. There is alot of wow factor in the amazing sketches and drawings by Maggie and AJ. I provide Maggie and AJ's different interpretation of the same instructions by the teacher and it is very amazing! I am more comfortable explaining things in French now and hopefully I have proven that I can be supportive and loving parent.

Daddy saves the day!

I'm not quite sure if they had already accepted us on Brian's first visit without the kids and this appointment was a followup opportunity to fill out the forms, because based on my presentation alone, I don't see how we could've been that convincing. 

At this moment, Brian magically appears fresh off the plane and still in uniform.  He made it back in time!  His dashing smile and magnetic personality light up the room, and he engages the Principal in an enlightening conversation about his work, experience and exposure to French, and promising to really help the children with French at home... and it looks like a done deal. Birth Certificates and Immunization records are photocopied. We even confirm that the new house will be on the school bus route.  Meanwhile, we get a tour of the school by the jovial Principal; Maggie and AJ seem really excited about the art on the walls and the busyness in the halls as school has already started a week earlier.

I guess it turned out ok after all.  Maggie and AJ finally say, Au Revoir.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Math Geek

I haven't told too many friends that my kids go to Kumon, cuz I didn't want to be that Chinese mom that forces the kids to do math. In fact, I didn't even do Kumon myself as a student, and I was not at all envious of my other Asian friends who were doing Kumon in junior high and high school to be enlightened in vector geometry and calculus etc. No wonder they were miles ahead in Grade 12 and first year Engineering. (The peer pressure did rub off on me, and I wrote every Math Olympiad, Pascal or Descartes Math contest, and joined the math club to "fit in" LOL) I suppose my husband was like one of those kids too, so he made sure to sign up Maggie for Kumon as soon as she turned five. We just started at the first week in August and I've seen tremendous leaps in just three short weeks. I'm a believer if I wasn't before.
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From Suzuki, I should already know that Every Child Can and has the potential to do great and amazing things if you teach them. Their young minds can absorb and learn so much within these magical years of age 3 to 6.

Maggie - just completed JK and moving on to SK next week. One year ago, she was not at all interested in writing. I gave up teaching her to write anything though my husband put this ultimatum over my head.. she better learn to write her name M-A-G-G-I-E before starting school or else.... (so he ended up teaching her over a course of a week while I was away). It didn't help that there was one girl in her preschool class who was writing Christmas cards and Valentine cards to all the kids names in proper upper and lowercase. Anyway my theory was that they all learn to read and write on their own accord, and they teach it in school so why go through the blood, sweat and tears?

"If there's no heat in the house or the AC is broken, that's the daddy's problem. If the kids can't read or write good, that's the mommy's problem!!!!" My husband quotes Chris Rock (with a passion).
by "JA" dated June 2012, Montessori Preschool

Perhaps that might've affected my decision to enlist the big guns to teach AJ writing skills, numbers and science a mom should teach her own son. AJ attended Montessori for the entire preschool year Sept 2011 to June 2012 and I think it was the best $11,000 I have ever spent in my life. I cannot capture in words everything they learned during the Montessori work time, and the only tangible "homework" they ever send home is the art work, the writing notepad of upper and lowercase letters, and two report cards. But his understanding and explanation of small random scientific facts - three physical states of water, the water cycle, the life cycle of a butterfly, the timezones in Canada.  Even today when he explained to me what happens when you flush the toilet,  I tried to trick him that the sewer flows into the river. He doesn't buy it, "No it doesn't. People swim in the river and drive the boats. They have to clean the water first."

Although Maggie and AJ are 15 months apart, I suppose it was always unfair but somewhat advantageous to him that I expected the same from both of them development wise. Therefore after seeing AJ bring home is work a few times, writing 1 to 20 for AJ did not a super amazing feat. When Maggie started Kumon in August, I decided to enroll AJ in the first class as well. I won't tell her that he scored higher on the assessment test, but they would start at the same level anyway because that's the standing. However the first week's homework did seem super easy - just counting objects up to 7 and tracing the numbers 1 - 10 for six rows a day? I was thinking, what I'm paying $100 a month for this?? But in three short weeks they were doing so much more and even learning to count by fives and mental math. (counting 17 butterflies, he says out loud 5, 5, 5, 16, 17... Shocking. Visualize three rows of five, and the fourth row with two).
by Maggie on August 22, 2012 8 minutes

by AJ on August 24, 2012 in 5 minutes

Sometimes writing 1 to 50 takes 5 minutes, when it's a race between Maggie and AJ at the Kumon class with the teacher supervising. Yesterday night, writing 1 to 50 took 25 minutes and 10 minutes of that was spent twiddling his thumbs and explaining to me that he hates Kumon and he hates me and wishes that I never took him there. I did not lose my temper or get mad during this ordeal, and I don't even know how he was able to eventually finish writing it but he did. I think the part that confused me the most was that he could stubbornly sit in the chair for 25 minutes and just talk about not wanting to it, instead of just cutting short the torture time and just do it! Well dad bribes him with Super Mario Brothers and Star Wars computer games but all I could really offer was a sticker.

Anyway I peeked ahead in the book and near the end, maybe in a bout 2 or 3 months time they have to write 101 to 200. Insane! But I see that the format is in neat rows of 10. I hope to continue the Kumon classes when we move to that small town in Ontario next month, but here I was worried that he would forget how to write his name and 1 to 10 before the start of JK.

For the record though, kids Maggie and AJ's age in most Asian countries are doing multiplication tables, addition and subtraction in 3 digit numbers and so on. Even Maggie's best friend just one year older who lives down the street, having just completed the third year of Montessori in the Casa Program, knows adding in three digits and knows how to "carry over". Her parents have decided to keep her in the Montessori program till the Grade 3 level a few years from now, instead of enrolling into Grade 1 in the public school in the fall. Young children are capable of understanding and doing great things!
by Maggie, Monart school in Ottawa
by AJ, fourth lesson.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All About Cloth Diapers

After three kids who used cloth diapers and a fourth on the way, I think I could be an expert in this field. My FAQ is compiled from a snapshot of the kids at the potty stage 2.5 years ago, with some updated current information for Lincoln (age 2).

Cloth diapers may have a high startup cost but it is very much worth every dollar. It is not too much trouble at all for the storage and clean up of dirty diapers.
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* The kids used "infant prefolds" just a piece of cloth that you fold in half and then you have an outer breathable/ waterproof wrap. Velcro wears out so I like the snaps better, but I have some of each. AJ (16 months) was still using these cuz he has small pees.
* Oddly enough, I never had a problem with explosive or leaking baby poo with cloth. It's the pampers/ huggies whatever that always leaked poo up the back or down the sides. haha. Maybe cloth tends to aborb or package things better I don't know.
*Best brands - for the infant age, cuz they need to changed so frequently, my method of infant prefolds and wraps is perfect. You can buy 30 prefolds for about $40; whereas each all in one Fuzzi Bunz (a very good brand) would cost $25 each one. You would need alot alot to last two or three days if you didn't want to do diaper laundry everyday!

* I also have large cloth diapers that resemble the shape of a pampers with velcro fasteners, just like a pampers. Outer wrap also required. These are appropriate for Maggie-size pees (2.5 y) but she refuses to wear cloth diapers, so she is on pampers now.

* We used Pampers at night and also when we go out, but there was a time when I carried around a plastic bag to keep all the dirty cloth diapers at the park, the mall, church, someone's house. ew!!!!

* Buying USED is a very smart thing to do. There is nothing wrong with that, even buying from a stranger. Who cares, it's all natural stuff, just wash it real good (again) before you use it.  Though check the original price and see if the used price is fair.
* Forget about the hype of "organic cotton" whatever. I have four of those and it's not like it has any super properties except for being more expensive.
* Now on hindsight, maybe I should've stuck to one brand or one type. I have so many different kinds of "large cloth" diapers that Brian gets confused how to install them. However the good thing is they were kind of "all sizes" so Maggie and AJ both used them interchangeably

* I have a sanitary mode on my new front load washer, which washes for with Super Hot water for 1:50h Things come out super clean and there is no residual smell!
* I used to run a rinse cycle first (about 20minutes) to wash away residual pee and poo stains. Then I would run a regular wash cycle with soap. Then just throw everything in the dryer, no bounce sheets.
In the summer you can hang dry things in the sun.
* Store the dirty diapers in a dry pail, no soaking. Grandma Tang kept telling me to rinse and wring out the diapers before putting in the pail, but it's not really necessary just extra work, though I suppose there is a higher compression rate to fit more in the pail?
* For real poo, you can roll it out or toss it in the toilet to flush away, obviously.
* For breastmilk poo it's totally water soluble and barely stinks. Looks like dijon mustard. haha!

* I personally prefered Pampers cuz they seemed to fit better and there are pampers points. 100 points and you can exchange for a $10 gift of something on
* Huggies, alot of coupons available but I just found the shape didn't work for Maggie as well
* Costco brand, extreme absorption! Holy cow they get so ballooned and full of pee and Maggie still insists, "It's dry!!" So I suppose if it's time for toilet training you would want something that actually feels wet. Good price.
* Presidents Choice brand is pretty good. I bought them cuz I was in a bind, and I saw they were on sale, plus AJ likes dinosaurs.

I should've done some real cost analysis, but I think I spent about $120 + $120+ $40 + $100 on cloth diapers, plus I got some for gifts so $30 + $40 that would be the total cost of cloth for Maggie and AJ. I bought two Motherease wraps and insert on special for $19.99 each. If we have more kids it will be even more worth it!
In 2012, because Lincoln was a chubbier baby and the washing machine destroyed alot of the organic cotton ones, I bought a giant stash of GroBaby used for $70. Additional wraps here are there used for $10, and then Grandma bought two Cushie wraps for $10 each.

I haven't officially done the math, but I think the cost of Pampers would be $39 per week if not more! With four kids, think of how many years and concurrent years that would be for disposal diapers! Someone said 15 cents each at the lowest estimate.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Where's Mom in this Picture?

Actually sitting right beside the photographer, but too busy on the iphone to care. I borrowed this "creeper shot" that my friend posted of the naughty kids sitting across from her on the train ride in some unnamed European city. She writes in the caption,

"This poor fat little girl was allowed to eat this entire bag of kettle corn. Bad mom - unhealthy eating is NEGLECT. Stop texting and start mothering!"
There are many things wrong in this picture, including the comment about the little girl's brother watching a movie on the laptop computer on high volume (no headphones!) and eating the popcorn off the floor that the sister dropped everywhere. Not an efficient way to eat popcorn, but the most dangerous thing I couldn't help but point out was that my friend, a total stranger (albeit a girl) took this creeper shot of the kids and the mom did nothing to stop or protest it. Where is the supervision? Where is the authority, where is the parenting?

I have no background information other than what the outside observer can see but it makes me very sad because, what if the mother has lost all authority on her own kids at this age. Or worse, what if she just doesn't even care? It's easy to judge but this whole thing reminds me to deal with my own children properly and have the authority and command to demand respect and obedience in small things and big things. It doesn't mean being a micromanager or a totally smothering-mother, but it takes love and compassion and good communication.

Two quotes pop into my head, about parenting....

Creed - With Arms Wide Open
I just love that song and the lyrics. The whole song reminds me about a man wanting to be the best dad to bring up his child, with arms wide open.

And also this one from the big book, Colossians 3:20-21 New International Version (NIV)20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,[a] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Next I will reformat some notes I absorbed from a recent sermon at church, along with my own experiences.  The pastor is not yet 25 but the father of an infant. Yet he speaks pearls of wisdom from his own experience being a child and now a father.  Good communication starts in childhood.


WHAT NOT TO SAY to your kids...

1) Why did you do that?
It's just like asking the child, "What's wrong with you?!" What would you expect him to say, because I'm a sinful person and I have not yet asked Jesus to forgive my sins? There is no reason, it is beyond his own reasoning to explain it. (Read my other post about, Why did you shove that corn pop up your nose?)

2) Because I said so
Well actually, the most obvious reason why you shouldn't say it is because that statement is always followed by a "Why" and you'll have to come up with a good reason anyway. I would rather say something like, because the bugs will come in if you leave the door wide open, because you'll be stinky if you don't take a bath, because you'll waste electricity if you keep opening and closing that refrigerator door just to verify what is inside, because someone will trip on your toys and break them if you don't pick them up...

Because I said so has no meaning unless you're a dictator. Be an authoritative parental figure, yes but a dictator, no.

3) Name calling or laughing
This is disrespectful to call someone names or to laugh and make a mean joke out of someone, especially a little person. They're just gonna learn the same vocabulary from you. I'll just be blunt and say that the Chinese parents and grandparents have a lot of mean words for naughty kids - pig head stupid-freak, dumb ghost, good for nothing piece of garbage, or you exploded from a rock, and a piece of BBQ pork is better than a son like you... Anyway, it sounds funny now but maybe not at the time. (Granted though, these were actual quotes for what they called my naughty little brother, the one who grew up to be a very successful Dental Surgeon... so was it really damaging? Maybe you'll have to read that Tiger Mom book )

HOW TO deal with teenagers (or a four year old going on fourteen)

1) Voice criticism in a safe environment
2) Find the opportunities for control when the child is younger
3) In everything, remember your own underlying problems and don't burden your children with your past.

About Obedience and Loving Guidance

At what age can the child stop obeying the parent? There is no real number per say. The pastor seems to indicate that for as long as the child lives under the parents' roof, especially on matters like when it's time to sleep, eat and go to school.  He pokes fun at the Asian culture, where children are expected to live at home until the day they get married! He says, if you're 25 and still living at home (because you are Asian) well you gotta obey your parents!

1) Obedience is required but discussion and compromise are not forbidden
(If you're 18 years old etc, well maybe that 8 o'clock bedtime is totally negotiable LOL)

2) When parents get upset, it's never about just the issue at hand
"You ALWAYS leave your dirty clothes all over the floor" = I'm really mad about always having to clean up after you, your whole life since you were a baby!!! = I wish I taught you to put your own clothes in a hamper when you were still small...

3) Your views (parents and children) are coloured by hormones, society, outside influences 

4) Treat them like Jesus Matthew 25:37-46. I'm still figuring out what this part means. Please don't be offended if you are not familiar with the bible or you don't care. This was just what I wrote down in my notes for reference.

Now what would mommy say to her little girl? I love you, but I can't let you eat that whole bag of caramel corn all by yourself. Let's share!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Maggie Gaga wants to play Lady Gaga

During my after dinner jam session tonight, "Maggie Gaga" asks me to teach her to play "Ra ra, ah ah ah-" She catches on pretty quick because she loves A minor (the key in the book, not sure if it's the real key). However she needs to be patient to listen first and play after. A good lesson for "ready-play" and more patience for me. We're still working on that.

My Lady Gaga Piano Play Along and CD from Hal Leonard arrived today, and I played my best to follow along with Bad Romance, Born This Way, and Love Game. The best part about the CD is the orchestra track with or without the keyboard demo, you just play and try to keep up. My daughter and her friend were pretty excited and they kept me motivated to play on, and when I stopped cuz I got lost on the roadmap, they said, "C mon, why did you stop! Keeping going!" (Funny, who's the mom here eh?)

She asks me, who's playing piano on the CD? For lack of a better explanation I just tell her it's Lady Gaga without the singing. Next came the track for The Edge of Glory. What a beautiful song, but I didn't know it at all, but the girls are singing their hearts out. Wow, I just looked it up on youtube and came across this really awesome clip by a classical player.

They're listening to music all day long, probably Hot 89.9 and whatever the nanny plays on the radio, but it's music of our time. I used to play all the Baby Mozart CD's for her wakeup, lullaby, playtime collections, you name it. She could even recognize certain Mozart sonatas that were played on her baby brother's baby mobile machine. But What I learned today is the best way to get her to the piano is to just play something she likes, obviously Lady Gaga!

Who do you think is the most talented music composer or performer of our time? This is 2000-something I'm talking about, not Bach or Beethoven or Mozart. Stefani Joane Angelina Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) comes to my mind. She writes her own words and music, and her fashion style, music performance, costumes and stage presence is so fascinating altogether. Or perhaps Hans Zimmer who writes all the big movie scores (Batman Dark Knight); or JohnWilliams who wrote all the music for Star Wars and more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who is Batman

My recent escapade in the night, whilst all the kiddies slept early for once, I saw Batman: Dark Knight Rises on Day 5 from the opening day. The movie struck me deeply and I was quite captured by the mystery of Batman, who he is and what makes him the man he is. (Why does he have to talk like a chain-smoker when he wears the mask?) The next day I bought a DC Comics Encyclopedia series Batman: World of the Dark Knight for AJ, but really it was for me. I stumbled upon a couple of graphic novel titles while at Chapters as well and I became hooked. My collection quickly grew from Batman RIP (by Grant Morrison etc) and I hunted other titles like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: the Dark Knight Triumphant by Frank Miller on usedottawa, which both happened to come in a lot with a giant stash of Comics! For $30 this seemed like a good buy (instead of another Pandora charm).
Image Source

I'm new to the whole Batman universe and especially with such a small sampling of various collections and story lines, I am a little bit overwhelmed. I suppose most women my age are reading or have already read Harry Potter, Twilight, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and every other fan fiction novel series out there. I suppose I must be the only one stuck in a time warp or part of my childhood that I might've missed.

There are several categories here - Batman, Spiderman, X-men, Watchmen, Fantastic Four and other heros and villians... and Indiana Jones doesn't quite belong, but I really enjoyed reading these on the bus ride to work.

Indiana Jones (1984) - #20, 13
Spectacular Spiderman - #226, 229, 240, (#1, 1995)
Spiderman: The Final Adventure - #1
Uncanny Origins (feat. Venom) - #7
Detective Comics (feat. Batman) - #677
Batman - #509, 510
The Incredible Hulk - #393
The Uncanny X-men - #290, 326
Daredevil - #280
Hero Illustrated - #25 (1995)
Batman (Zellers special issue 1992)
The Adventures of Superman - #498
The Sensational Spiderman - #1, 11
ScarletSpider - #1, 2,
The Spectacular Scarlet Spider - #1,
Scarletspider: Unlimited - #1
The Amazing Spiderman - Blast from the Past '96, #418, #362, #378, #413
X-Men: Onslaught
Marvel Universe: Onslaught
Watchmen - #1
X-Men 2099 - #1
The Amazing Scarlet Spider - #1
Web Of Spiderman - #100
Peter Parker/Spiderman - #75
Spiderman and Batman - #?
Midnightsons (Ghost Rider, Spiderman) - #1, 2, 3
Spiderman - #60, 63
Venom (1995) - #1,2,3, 4,On Trial,
Fantastic Four (1991) - #358
X-men - Minibook
Beyond Zero Hour
The Silver Surfer - ##50, 75 (1992)
Guardians of the Galaxy - #25
Big Paperbacks or Books
Frank Miller's The Hard Copy (Sin City)
Swamp Thing: Love and Death (1990)
DC Comics Vertigo - Death: The High Cost of Living

Then I continued my hunt on ebay and purchased the Batman Knightfall story for $13.50
BATMAN #492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 KNIGHTFALL BANE DARK KNIGHT RISES. This is the storyline that the latest movie is based on.

Does it fit up my nose?

I posted a confession on yahoo in response to a news story: "Boy lives for three years with a Lego wheel stuck up his nose"

I stuck a small red ball from a toy pinball machine up my nose when I was 5 years old, just to see if it would fit. Immediately after, red blood came out and I began to wonder what would happen if I put a blue ball up my nose too but the babysitter saw me, I never told anybody what happened. Until, I as 8 years old, I blew my nose one time and it came out and I showed my little brother.
I don't know why but all kids are curious about putting things in random holes in the body. Even AJ stuck corn pops up his nose, presumably to impress a girl. They were all giggling and laughing about something while having a snack in the picnic table outside, until AJ suddenly ran into the kitchen and was getting very agitated about something.

I gave him a kleenex and he tried to blow it out but I think it sucked deeper into the nose cavities, or maybe it got pushed in deeper with his tiny fingers. All I could really do was say that I had to tell Daddy about it (more as a scare tactic that he had done something he wasn't supposed to do) and that Daddy would know what to do. I was just buying time because I figured it would disolve and melt in boogers that he could blow out. I believe that's what eventually happened, but it is still very gross. He promised me he wouldn't do that ever again.

Back to my story though, I don't really remember having too many sinus problems though I vaguely remember the term "back throat dripping" and "hay fever" but that was just a constant thing that happened up until I was a grownup, though not anymore.

What compells a child to do this? However the last thing you want to say is, "don't shove a whatever up your nose" if they weren't already thinking of doing that cuz simply planting that idea is quite foolish.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hesitation to use the Epipen

In a Nutshell

I had to use the Epipen on AJ at the resort cuz we ate chicken at the Japanese Restaurant with peanut sauce. They were really good at the emergency room at the resort though, with everything they would normally do to a kid at CHEO. It was really scary seeing him like that.  At the restaurant, I was being a bit slow to react to deploy the Epipen (like over 5 minutes to make a decision); and everyone else was like, yah whatever just give him water and go to the bathroom and wash his face...  but I clicked it, the spring back was so strong he screamed and I screamed. Anyway the effect was immediate. Thank God they have really good medical care there (I guess they have to for tourists and their western problems) Crazee!

Food Preparation

My husband would rather delete this picture, but it captures the moment 5 minutes before the incident. The master chef expertly prepares the chicken and adds a bit of peanut sauce to the sizzling chicken. He explains it though the bottle may or may not have been labeled, but I miss this important detail. Soon after, the fried rice, Terriyaki beef, stir fry vegetables and the peanut chicken skewers are served onto the plates.  AJ eats very well and finishes most of the food on his plate but doesn't really want to eat the chicken skewers. I urge him to give it a try and he obliges.  What bothers me is that my husband tastes the chicken and notices that it tastes like peanuts, but doesn't really clue in nor does he bother to say anything about it. I ate these too and I don't really notice the flavour to be honest.

Seriously, who serves Japanese food with peanuts? Perhaps with Thai or Vietnamese. This was rather unusual to me, though afterall we're in a foreign country and they may do things differently.

Immediate Reaction

Moments later, Maggie starts whining or crying and reports that her mouth is itchy from the food. AJ walks over to me as well, and is scratching like crazy at his cheeks with a hive-like rash rapidly forming and he tells me rather urgently, "Mommy I think I am allergic to the food".  I don't clue in right away, but calmly tell them to drink some water.  I give then a teaspoon of Benadryl and Maggie seems calmer, but AJ soon begins to cough uncontrollably. I calm him and try to give him a puff of Ventolin.  I ponder if this is an allergic reaction to the food, and we ask the servers if there is peanut oil or something in the food. Meanwhile, grandma suggests going to the bathroom to wash up, but I know that is not right. Everyone is calm and silent, but slowly I begin to realize that he is possibly in danger and I begin to wonder about the Epipen, and I realize that as the mother I really have to take charge!!  I don't know why I need to have confirmation about peanuts to actually do anything, so I continue to calmly talk to AJ about other things. Quickly, the server tells us that there was peanut sauce on the chicken and it totally confirms my worse fears, this is an anaphalactic reaction! AJ sees the needle and knows what I'm about to do and he's screaming no, I don't want the needle, but I have to remain calm and I place the auto-injector directly on his thigh, fortunately not the part that goes into the bone! The click is so loud, the spring recoil is so strong, but I remember that the effect was quite immediate.

Emergency Room in Paradise
I tell the server that we have to go to the hospital immediately, but she advises that we should go to the resort's emergency doctor's clinic first. I see that the situation has stabilized (good for the next 30  minutes and I have a second pen on hand) so my husband carries him away as I walk quickly to keep up.  I have to say that the doctor provided the highest level of care, and the clinic was fully equipped with everything they could possibly need to treat this emergency.  There was the steroid mask thing, as well as a steroid shot of some kind in the butt cheeks. By the time I returned from the room to gather the passport, and travel emergency documents AJ was already sitting up.  Maggie was allowed into the room, as she was really worried about her brother and really wanted to be with him.

My public service health plan coverage was very complete and the agent on the 1-800 line was very helpful. All the paperwork was finalized and emailed to the doctor even before I finished up on the phone and of course there were no charges out of pocket. AJ was released soon after that and she prescribed Benadryl and Ibiprofen for the next three full days, and asked us to return for a checkup the next morning.


On the second visit, I read a poster on the desk with a pricelist of all kinds of medical services. The initial consultation would've been $120 just for showing up at the clinic. I don't know the price of the treatment for my son, but I couldn't help but notice that the price for CPR was $750. Wow!

I'm very relieved that everything obviously turned out ok, but at the same time I realize that my hesitation or lack of immediate understanding of what was happening to my son could've been very dangerous for him. Before the trip, I actually read a short news article that alot of times, kids with deadly allergies are at the highest risk of danger when in the care of caregivers because some are more likely to be hesitant to use the Epipen. I don't want to imagine what would happen if I wasn't there at that moment and no one knew where was the Epipen in that giant diaper bag of mine.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Foot in Mouth Disease

I recently heard some sad news that 62 Kindergarten age children died of Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease in Cambodia.  I was quite baffled because this is a "rather not uncommon" yet simple disease in Canada. I think my kids got it three years ago and were banned from daycare for a week, and there was no treatment offered, and I simply thought it sounded gross but was nothing serious.

In fact it is not supposed to be anything serious. According to Hong Kong news reports, the doctors overeas gave steroids to fight the bacteria (but Hand, Foot, Mouth disease is a virus!). It seemed to work fine at first, but the steroids deactivated the immune system and caused death. The cases allegedly happened at a Swiss sponsored children's hospital and embarrassed both countries. The news media are now silenced about it.

That is so sad and makes me so mad!  I didn't even bring my kids to the doctor because I called the 1-800 Ontario Telehealth number and talked to registered nurse who said it wouldn't be necessary and the sickness could be treated at home. The symptoms were prinkly pain on the finger tips and toes, with noticable red points or blisters, fever? (I forgot). I thought I saw canker sores in the mouth, and I figured it must have hurt to swallow because my kids didn't want to eat or drink. The nurse's recommendation for the kids was to drink lots of fluid, even offer freezy pops cuz kids don't want to drink when they have mouth sores, and have them sip bepto bismal as a treatment for the mouth ulcers. As well, since they were possibly contagious with open sores.

My brother in law got sick with stronger symptoms of the disease, and stayed home from work for days without really knowing that he probably got sick from babysitting the kids! Myself and the nanny were immune because we probably encountered those same germs before.  After a few days, everything seemed back to normal and I thought nothing of it; though embarassed to admit they got this Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease until someone's kid at my church got it from the daycare and I realized it was all pretty normal.   Anyway after hearing about this incident overseas really shocked me. Wow, some doctors really messed up. There's been nothing on the news I have access to, but it was my uncle and aunt who operate a Kindergarten in Cambodia who told me about it. Hope that it is well documented somewhere so doctors don't mess up again! It just reminds me how lucky we are in Canada with good healthcare and simple things like clean water.

A tad off topic, but I remember back in 2009 during the hype of the H1NI flu shots and seemingly regularly healthy people of all ages dying from the bird flu, or from not getting treated in time.  I am constantly reminded of that on my little Shoppers Drug Mart past prescription summary; it lists my prescription for the Tamiflu treatment, four simple pills one a day that apparently saved my life.  I remember it vaguely being a strange kind of flu, a fever without a real serious cough, not even a sore throat but I was just tired and always sleeping. I'm the kind of the person, even on a sick day staying home from work, who wouldn't normally be sleeping, but working on crafts, practising piano, watching a movie while sweeping the floor etc. I was sleeping or just lying in bed 18 hours a day. Didn't think much of it, took my pills and drank plenty or water and I was fine even before the weekend. However around that time I had read a news story about an American woman in the States about age 15 (my details could be fuzzy) who went to the hospital for similar symptoms three times, was turned away and for various reasons, possibly lack of medical coverage to cover tests or the drugs, ended up without the Tamiflu treatment and she died. I think I cried about how unfair this was, that my appointment with the family doctor took no longer than five minutes, and I never had to pay a cent for my drugs that probably cost $700.