This week was VBS for Bubs, GirlyGirl, and Cutie. We chose to participate in the evening session which offers dinner at the beginning of each session and a snack mid-way through each night.
Of course, I chose to volunteer. For one, I like to help out and be a part of my kids' activities. Two, I like to helicopter around my children with food allergies.
I attended the volunteer meetings prior to the session beginning which gave me the inside scoop on the menu choices. I received a printout of what would be offered for dinner and snack each night.
I also had the chance to educate the other volunteers about food allergies at these meetings. I stressed the importance of hand washing, not only before the meal/snack, but afterward as well. I suggested having hand wipes present so kids wouldn't necessarily have to go to the bathrooms to wash their hands. Another parent suggested having hand sanitizer ready too. Another great teaching moment! I explained that hand sanitizer may kill bacteria, but it doesn't kill the proteins that cause the allergic reaction. I love being able to educate people who want to learn!
The gal in charge e-mailed all the parents informing them that there would be kids attending VBS with life-threatening food allergies (and a child with a latex allergy) and stressing the importance of hand washing. She also e-mailed all the volunteers asking for their help in making sure all the kids washed hands or used hand wipes following each meal/snack. I am so grateful for her attention to this matter.
Like anyone else, our loves are busy. We have a lot going on right now, and keeping track of a specific menu for the week was stressing me out. So I simply wrote what I would need to bring for Bubs and GirlyGirl's food each night on separate sticky notes. (Bubs and GirlyGirl would miss VBS Thursday night for Taekwondo color belt testing, hence the missing Thursday note). This made it a lot easier for me to prep for each night and grab what I needed on my way out the door.
|Sometimes sticky notes keep me sane|
Not only did I have to think about the food they would ingest, but there were also several crafts and science experiments that involved food. One activity involved corn starch and water. When the parent who provided the corn starch arrived, of course I took a glance at the label. Guess what! Processed with allergens! Luckily, this activity was planned for Thursday evening, the night my kids would be gone. So I just let it slide without mention. While the kids were actually doing this activity, the parent looked at the label and saw the allergy warning. She felt really bad after she saw it. I told her that I had seen it earlier in the week, but that I didn't worry about it because my kids would miss this activity. But this was another great opportunity to teach the importance of label reading.
|Corn starch label -- processed with milk, egg, wheat, and soy|
Sometimes I think I overcompensate with food that I prepare to make up for my kids' food being different. For instance, Tuesday night was taco night. I made taco meat, cut up tomatoes, brought lettuce, olives, milk-free cheese, gluten-free tortillas, chips, salsa, and pineapple. The tacos that VBS provided for the other kids was a tortilla, a little scoop of taco meat, a few pieces of shredded iceberg, and a few shreds of cheese along with tortilla chips and cheese dip. I have to admit that my kids' tacos looked amazing next to the other ones.
|Taco night means lots of containers|
I notice that rather than my kids feeling bad that their food is different, it's the other kids that are jealous of my kids' food. They wonder why they get something special. I'm always happy to hear when the situation goes that way rather than my kids feeling left out that they are missing something.
|Our more healthy and safe version of a popsicle|
|Our version of graham crackers and frosting -- Enjoy Life sugar cookies with safe "buttercream" frosting|
All in all, it was a fun week without incident. The kids had a blast, enjoyed their food, and made some great memories.