Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harper Tales

Tonight I offer you a few Harper stories and a request...

For a long time Harper didn't watch any commercial television because all we had was PBS and videos. We'd expanded our cable package and she now watches Disney and Nickelodeon channels as well. While I appreciate some of the preschool programming on Nick, I do not like the fact that there are regular commercials during and between the preschool programs. I am amazed at what kids pick up from commercials (any television for that matter). Tonight I was flipping through a magazine and there was picture of that little green guy who is supposed to be mucus, Harper looked over and said, "Hey! That's for Mucinex DM!" Somewhere an advertising executive can get a high-five for the success of his (or her!) campaign.


We have a bag of hand-me-down books on tape from a teacher friend. We don't have the books, only the tapes. Once in a while Harper will bust out the Fisher Price tape player and listen to them. The story of King Midas and the Golden Touch is on one of these tapes. Tonight after dinner Harper turned to me and asked, "Mom, have you ever gotten the golden touch, where everything you touched turns to gold?!"

"No," I replied, chuckling a bit.

"Me neither," Harper said dejectedly, "Everything I touch just turns to normal."

One of the bedtime stories Harper chose tonight was less a story than a series of little poems stating types of things the author liked. For example: I like apples. Red apples, green apples, yellow apples, juicy apples, etc.

As we read I would pause at the end of each page and ask Harper to identify the word that was repeated a half dozen or more times on the page, i.e. "apples" from the example above. They've been working on letter sounds in preschool lately and as she looked for each word I noticed that she would make the beginning sound repeatedly, searching for a word beginning with the correct letter.

One of the pages we read had some simple three-letter words on it, the kind that sound exactly as they look like they should. So I pointed to one and asked Harper if she could tell what word it was by saying each letter's sound and putting them together. So she went:

buh, buh, buh, buh

a, a, a, a

duh, duh, duh, duh

It says, "Bad!"

Yup. Harper read her first word. I am getting goosebumps thinking about it. Reading is one of the things I love most in the world, and watching Harper make those first steps toward being able to read herself is so cool. One of my most favorite things about teaching first grade was watching kids learn to read. I feel so honored to witness this process in my own child. Amazing. I'm a proud mama tonight.


And speaking of my beautiful, amazing daughter... would you do something for her? Tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments to the FDA as they revisit the issue of allergen labeling on food packages. Many of you already received an email about this today, but I want to make sure to cover all my bases. Here is the body of that email:

In recent years it has been the law that companies must list, in plain English, any of the top eight allergens (wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, eggs, and shellfish) that are present in food. But that is where the requirement ends. Companies are not required by law to label for cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a problem in the case of severe food allergies, like Harper's, because even a trace amount of the allergen can cause a reaction. That's why you see notes on some labels about products being manufactured on equipment that processes nuts or milk or eggs, etc. Companies voluntarily offer this information, sometimes. I send untold hours on the phone trying to figure out is safe for Harper to eat, and we still have to be prepared to administer an injection of epinephrine at anytime, because it is nearly impossible to be certain a food is safe, unless I grow it myself! Required labeling for cross-contamination would initially be a burden for many companies, but would make food much, much safer for people with food allergies.

I should have send this email sooner, as tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments, but if you have a minute, and you feel comfortable doing so, would you please click the link below and leave a comment requesting stronger regulations and consistency in food allergen labeling? Especially if you work with children, this is a change that could make your job easier when dealing with any food allergies you might encounter.

(*You only have until tomorrow to submit your comments about the current "May contains" FDA food labeling. Click here for the form).

In my email I also posted the comment I left, as a suggestion of what you might like to say. Then I found these words on a facebook group page that I like even better than what I originally said:

"Thank you for accepting comments for your upcoming hearing on food allergy labeling laws. Please require companies to label for more than just the Top 8 allergens - perhaps the Top 12. I especially request that you require labeling for sesame, which is often hidden under the terms 'spices' or 'flavorings'. Sesame can be a life threatening allergen and consumers have the right to know if the food they are purchasing contains it. Please also require the allergens to be listed in bold letters on the label. Please require companies to label for shared equipment and shared facilities. Studies indicate that cross contamination from shared equipment is extremely common and extremely dangerous. Consumers should have this info to determine if they want to put themselves or their child at risk."

I have been really moved today by all the return emails I've received from people saying they'd already left a comment. It certainly can't hurt to try to make a difference here. I know Harper would appreciate it.


Giselle said...

I think I'm in love with Harper. Not in a "scary-stalker" way. In a "I'll-adopt-her-and-be-her-mommy-just-say-the-word" kind of way. I mean, "things just turn normal"? Seriously...I love her.

Can she at least be my daughter-in-law? Because (and I know I say this all the time) she reminds me so much of Andrew.

Giselle said...

Oh, and I wanted to say...simply BEAUTIFUL shot of Harper. Gorgeous.

Erin said...

Kels, thanks for keeping us informed & giving us the chance to comment. I just did, and I would have missed the opportunity if you hadn't made it easy for me. So thanks, seriously. Thanks.

Here's what I said:

There is much we do not know about food allergies, the increasing incidence of such allergies, and the treatment or prevention of them. One thing we know for certain, however, is that labeling helps keep people with allergies safe. I know it comes with a price, but it is a small one, an insignificant one, when compared to what is at stake for individuals and caretakers of individuals with serious food
allergies. Help us keep our kids safe, our friends' kids safe, our neices and nephews and grandchildren and neighbors safe.

Please require companies to label for more than just the Top 8 allergens - perhaps the Top 12.... (then copied your suggested comment in here)...

Will you also let us know when there is a decision made, and what that is? kthanx.

Astarte said...

Done, and done!

Jill said...

this is what i said, simple, but hopefully effective: Please require more strict standards regarding labelling for food cross contamination, allergens and other possible reactions. Our children are our future. Help them BE the future.

Emily said...

I'm not sure how eloquent my words were, but I did leave a comment. I have known you and several other mothers of children with allergies, and I'm amazed at the meticulous nature of parenting child with these needs. Every red bump on my own children's skin - I'm watching for signs of it in my family, too.

Mommy Daisy said...

Aww, that Harper, she's so funny. And I love that she's reading now! Also, I hate the Nick has commercials too, bleck.

I will click on the link after I leave this comment, so I can go encourage them to expand the labeling too.

MamaK said...

Hey Kelsey! Comment form done :)

Tell Harper that having a "normal touch" is BETTER than a golden touch. I wish I could get things around here normal by laying hands on them!

Love the photos too.... K

bluedaisy said...

It's a bit late in the day but my comment was accepted :) I love the stories and that last shot of Harper is so precious.

Jill said...

by the way, I just popped back over to say that I used to have record/books, and I swear the record player is still in my parents attic. It is SO mine if it still works! Also, as far as tv goes, I find it hilarious all the crappy stuff they advertise on nickelodeon. We turned it on one day when matt's niece was here. She's 4. She couldnt say what she wanted for her birthday or christmas (she was turning 4 in a few weeks), but every time a commercial came on she said 'i want that' whether it be glow pens or dinosaur posters--honestly, I dont think she had a clue what any of it was, I think she was used to her 8 year old brother saying that. and really? that stuff is crap. When I was at least his age, if not hers, I knew that the stuff was crap, probably because my mommy told me so... go figure...

Swistle said...

I did it! I thought I would have trouble coming up with something to say, but it turned out I didn't.

Sara said...

I wish that I had the time to read your blog earlier, b/c then I definitely would have commented. We recently found out that my 4 month old, Kelly, has a milk allergy. So, since I am nursing, I have to read EVERY label for milk, whey, casein, etc. And it is a pain in the ***.
But every time I talk (okay, complain) about it, I mention to my hubby Harper's severe peanut allergy. I hope that Kelly outgrows this issue, b/c I can't imagine trying to keep all milk substances away from a toddler/preschooler!
Milk irritates Kelly, but it obviously isn't as serious as Harper's allergy. Can I ask how you guys found out about it?
Thanks for putting the internet to good use by informing people of the FDA issue!
Oh, and by the way, if you want to read why I have no time on the computer, check out my last post! :o)

CARRIE said...

The class I'm taking is all about teaching kids to read (I guess since I am certified middle school, some genius in course planning didn't think this was necessary for us...like all 6th graders know how to read. Please.)

Anyway, I too just love seeing N become a reader. And I feel like with this class I am actually learning things that might help her learn to read better.

Amazing stuff!

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