Posts By: Guest Blogger

Handling Your Anxiety About Your Kid’s Food Allergies

A Guest Post by Mabel’s Labels Brand & Communications Manager, Karma Bryan-Ingle:

I have blogged on the Mabelhood site before about my son with life-threatening food allergies and the anxiety that can accompany it. As many of you know, I take a different approach to how I deal with this allergy anxiety. Namely, I don’t let it rule our lives or have too much impact on the choices I make for my son. I want him to have all of the same opportunities as any child and I want him to have the same experiences. We travel with Evan. We send him to sleep away camp. He goes to birthday parties and trick-or-treats at Halloween. We just do all these things with an air of caution.

A few weeks ago I was at an event at my son’s school. It was an Ignite event where 15 people got up for 5 minutes each and talked about something they were passionate about. The topics were varied and each one as interesting as the next. But the two that struck me the most were the ones by Evan’s teacher and his wife. Years ago, they took a trip to Nepal and fell in love with the land and its’ people. From that point forward, every other year they have taken a group of upper school students to Nepal for two weeks to do charitable work. Students come back from this trip transformed. This is a trip I would love for Evan to go on.

Which got me to thinking…would I let him go or would I be too scared to send him off to a foreign country without me, due to his life threatening allergies? For the first time ever, I considered having him miss out on an amazing opportunity. One that could change his life and shape the person he could become. All because of food allergies. I still don’t have the answer. I don’t know if I will let him go when he reaches Grade 11. Thankfully, I still have 8 years to decide!

So, what would you do? Would you send your allergic child off to have the experience of a lifetime or would you let the allergies win?

Screen Free Week – May 5-11

When I mentioned Screen-Free Week to my 12 year-old son, his response was “Are you kidding me? That’s like Earth Hour BUT FOR A WHOLE WEEK!” The hardest part of Earth Hour for him isn’t turning out the lights (Flashlights and candles? Awesome!) It’s about no Netflix or X-Box. Playing board games by candlelight is fun, but about the 45-minute mark everyone, including us grown-ups, is sneaking a peek at the clock (see My Plugged-In Family).

In our house, we’re going to try and modify Screen-Free Week and make it Screen-REDUCTION Week.

Here’s the plan:

1) Estimate CURRENT Screen Time. Check in with family members in advance, and ask everyone to ballpark how much time they spend on screens daily.

2) Monitor Screen Time BEFORE Screen-Free Week. Ask everyone to keep track of their screen time for a few days to see how realistic their estimate was. Make it like The Price Is Right and have a small prize for whoever makes the most accurate guess. Even if it’s an astonishing amount of time, at least they’re aware! Baby steps.

3) “But I’ll have nothing to do!” Brainstorm some ideas of things to do together as a family instead of all being on separate screens, as well as some individual activities. Board games? Bike ride? Family hike? Curling up with a book? Cleaning their room? Yeah, sneak that one in; it’s worth a shot.

4) Get commitments. Ask everyone to pick a goal, either time-based or otherwise, and WRITE IT DOWN. Our son has already committed to live without his X-box for the entire week. Have some kind of incentive for whoever achieves their goal. I’m totally motivated by rewards; my prize could be relaxing and reading magazines for a whole hour! Have the kids figure out what their reward will be, encouraging them to think of ones that cost very little, if anything.

5) Have Fun! This doesn’t have to be a torturous week. Have your list of alternative activities handy. Make some Screen-Free signs with the kids and post them as little reminders (reduces the nag factor).

6) Follow-Up. After the week, sit down with everyone and find out how it went. Was it difficult? Easier than you thought? What were the positive things that happened? Will it change your behaviour moving forward?

Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week? Any ideas to share? Come back and leave a comment and let us know how it went!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

From Catastrophe to Connection

Guest post by Karen Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days ago, my16-year-old daughter emerged from our finished basement with an incredible 18” x 24” acrylic-on-canvas portrait she’d been working on. I was so impressed with what she’d accomplished and made sure to let her know. I was less impressed three days later when I went downstairs to throw a load of laundry in, and saw huge lines and blobs of acrylic paint all over the red microfiber couch.

I’d say that I was so angry I literally saw red, but in reality what I saw was various shades of white and black ALL OVER the red furniture. Of course, I did what any enraged mom would do…I texted her.  I managed to keep it Vulcan-like and matter-of-fact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a quick “cleaning acrylic paint off microfiber” Google search, I headed to the basement armed with a few rags and some rubbing alcohol. My daughter came down to check out the damage, apologetically explaining how she had already tried to get the paint out.  “That’s okay, we can work on this together”, I said, while tossing her a rag.  She suggested that while we gently dabbed away, we may as well watch TV, and turned on one of her favourite shows, “Best Ink”. In case you’ve never watched it, it’s a reality competition series that follows a group of tattoo artists through various challenges. They have their work critiqued by celebrity tattoo artist judges, with the hopes of being the contestant with the “Best Ink” and winning a pile of money.

My daughter knows I’m not a huge fan of full body tattoos (“But what if you have a job interview? Or you’re going to a wedding?”). What happened during the next 44 minutes was amazing. It opened up discussions on talent, creativity, individualism, sexism, beauty, judgment, “reality” shows and competition. We talked about the different personalities on the show and how there’s always one person made out to be the one that everyone is supposed to hate.  We talked about expression and style and how great it is when people discover their passion and work hard at their art. I learned about Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Concealer, which was the answer to my job interview and wedding concerns.

My daughter knows she’ll have to wait until she’s old enough to get tattoos since I’m not going to be signing any consent forms, but for those 44 minutes we really bonded over something that’s important to her and it was a beautiful thing.  Today, she suggested we start watching Best Ink together on a regular basis and I’m all for it. Miraculously, we got all that paint out, but even if we hadn’t, I’d still be grateful for the opportunity it gave me to connect with my daughter and get into her teenage world for a bit.

Have you had an unexpected bonding moment with your child? Turned a bad situation into an awesome one?

 

About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

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