Posts By: Guest Blogger

Have Allergic Kid, Will Travel!

Guest Post by Mabel’s Labels Marketing & Communications Manager, Karma Bryan-Ingle

Having a child with life threatening food allergies makes everyday life just a little more scary for me. But when my son’s allergies were “discovered” (via an almost fatal trip to the ER at age 3), my husband and I decided that we were not going to let his allergies dictate the way he lives and the way he gets to experience life. I know everyone deals with this diagnosis differently and it’s a very personal decision, but this is how we choose to live.

So, I have always let Evan live like any other kid, but just a little more carefully and a whole lot more aware! He goes to birthday parties, he has sleepovers, he trick or treats at Halloween and he travels.  Birthday parties are easy for me… I get in touch with host parents in advance to discuss Evan’s allergies and ensure they are comfortable with feeding him. If they aren’t, I provide special snacks that I know are safe for him. I do the Epi-Pen drill with the parents at drop off and always make sure I am easily accessible. Halloween, while frightening, is manageable for us as well. We do a full sorting of the candy before Evan touches anything. In fact, he tends to sort himself as he’s collecting. He knows if someone gives him a bag of peanut M&M’s and he hands them over right away… most of the time they don’t even make it into the treat bag!

But when it comes to traveling, even I get terrified! To me there is nothing scarier than being in a confined space for a few hours, 30,000 feet in the air and someone pulling out a bag of peanuts in the seat behind us. Truly, just typing this makes my heart start to pound and my stomach do a back flip. But let me tell you, it can be manageable and I found out how on 2 recent vacations.

For Christmas 2011, we decided to take Evan to Disney. We were so excited about the trip, but this was going to be the longest flight we’d taken with him since his allergies came to light (we’d done small jaunts with him previously).  We were flying Air Canada so I called them up and they were great. They put on note on the file indicating his allergies and told me the flight crew would make an announcement onboard. And not only did they announce that there was a child on board with a life threatening nut allergy once we boarded, but they also announced it before boarding in the lounge and asked people not to bring anything on board with them. I thought this was terrific service and it did provide me with the comfort level I needed.

This past Christmas we travelled to the Caribbean. We had a 5 ½ hour flight so again, my anxiety levels were going up as the trip got closer. We were flying Air Canada again, so I called them to request the same service, but instead I got even better. AC now allows you to fill out paperwork, have your doctor sign it and then they create a file that stays in the system for 5 years. Now each time Evan flies, his reservation is tagged and they create a buffer zone for us on board. This means that when the plane has boarded, the flight crew speaks to the people seated in front of us and behind us to let them know that they are not to take any nut products out of their bags and that they won’t be selling any nut products in those rows. They also offer people to switch seats if they aren’t comfortable with the arrangement.

Let me tell you… this provided such peace of mind. And the passengers seated around us were all very accommodating. With the exception of one woman who still makes my blood boil 5 months later. When the flight attendant told her the deal, she said, in a very loud, rude voice “Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous!” (After I told her my kid could die if she pulled out some peanuts, she quickly kept her opinions to herself!)

I know my experience has only been with one airline, but I’m sure all major carriers would have a similar policy. After all, approximately 4% of children between the ages of 0-18 suffer from food allergies and in the US, every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER! Those are scary and alarming statistics for sure!

So, while Evan’s life threatening allergies are certainly scary, we have found a way to manage the fear to make sure he gets the most out of life. And I think this approach works well for our family. Evan understands the seriousness of his allergies, so he is careful, but at the same time, he’s living the life every 7 year old should!

Evan living life to the fullest!

Recycling Mis-conceptions

Top blue box: Great recycling of plastics! Lower blue box: Incorrect recycling – hard plastic lids and candy bags are garbage.
Right: Cardboard ready for pick up – broken down is preferred, but stacked is just as good!

Are you confused (about recycling)?

Times change and we find ourselves standing in front of our blue boxes holding something that we’re not sure about where it goes. What was once sold in glass bottles (soft drinks) now comes in plastic bottles. What was once sold in a steel can (soup) now comes in tetrapak containers. The list gets longer every day and it makes it harder for us to “put waste in the right place”.

It’s enough to confuse most of us!

Liquids VS. solids

When it comes to most paper products, you can quickly tell what the “right place” for them is by following this rule:

  • If it contained a LIQUID (like milk and juice cartons), put it with your bottles, cans, and jars in your CONTAINERS blue box.
  • If it contained a SOLID (like cereal and cracker boxes), put it with your newspapers and magazines in your PAPERS blue box.

Sometimes it…

Looks like paper, feels like paper, but it doesn’t go with paper!

  • Juice, milk and soup cartons go in with your bottles, cans and jars in your containers blue box.  Which sometimes leads to confusion.
  • Paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates, and paper coffee cups go in your green bin.

One more misconception de-mystified

Those little stickers on fruit – like on bananas and apples and oranges – DON’T compost! Make sure you take them off and throw them in the garbage.


Think you’re an award-winning recycler in Hamilton, Ontario?

Sign up at for your chance to win the gold medal of recycling!

Why Should We Let Our Children Fly From the Nest?

By Marla Coleman

Think about your own best memories of childhood; did any of them involve your own parents?

Didn’t think so!  Turns out that there are some pivotal developmental skills that we cannot give our own children; try as we might, we can’t:

  • Make our children happy
  • Give our children high self-esteem
  • Make friends for our children or micromanage their relationships
  • Successfully be our children’s manager or coach
  • Compete with our children’s electronic world
  • Keep our children completely safe, but we can drive them crazy trying
  • Make our children independent

The psychologist and author Michael Thompson explains, “In order to grow in the ways they need to grow, children have to take the lead, and usually away from us.”

Michael shares his strong argument for the loosening of ties. He explains how the camp environment, for example, creates a setting that invites children to learn the lifelong skills of resilience, responsibility, and resourcefulness, enabling them to have emotionally significant and character building experiences – out of the rescue-reach of their parents but within the guiding influence of their counselors.

What makes children resilient are the cumulative resources they acquire as they go through life. Camp and school are kind of the yin and yang of education. You might think of school as the “science” of learning, while camp is focused more on the “art” of attaining mastery through opportunities to practice in real-life situations.  Dr. Michael Unger, director of the Resilience Research Center, has identified these areas to expand a child’s psycho-social competencies exponentially:

  • Building new relationships
  • Finding a powerful identify
  • Feeling in control
  • Being treated fairly
  • Feeling like they belong
  • Identifying with a community

The professionals are telling us to do what is counter-intuitive to good parenting – when sending children to school or camp, where they have the guidance of professional adults other than their parents, let go a little and allow them to navigate on their own and build confidence in their own abilities to find solutions to their problems.  (Child therapist Dr. Wendy Mogul refers to the phenomenon as “the blessing of a skinned knee.”) It is then that our children can re-invent themselves because they come to believe in and rely upon their own abilities to achieve their goals and picture their successes:

  • To be happy and confident
  • To be safe
  • To have friends
  • To be successful in school and life
  • To be independent


About the Author:

Marla Coleman

Marla Coleman

Marla Coleman is a past president of the American Camp Association. She is a founding director of Coleman Country Day Camp on Long Island and former owner-director of Camp Echo in New York State. She also serves on the board of Roundup River Ranch in Colorado, a SeriousFun camp (formerly Hole-in-the-Wall) for children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.

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