Monday, August 27, 2012

The day I wrote a letter to the principal

To make a long story short, Alexander starts Kindergarten on Thursday.  Last week, we recieved the lunch menu.  They serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.  Alexander is severely allergic to peanut butter.  As in SEVERELY allergic.  And his school serves the food that can hurt him.  OY!

So, I wrote a letter.  Did I go to far?  I removed the principal's name, as well as the school name.  For what it is worth, I tried to be nice.

Dear Mrs. ,

Our son, Alexander, is joining this fall as a kindergarten student. Our family is very excited to learn more about and become members of the community.

I'm writing because I'm hoping to bend your ear about a particular concern. Alexander is severely allergic to peanut butter. My husband and I have been in contact with the school nurse, who has been wonderful in creating an updated health plan, making sure we have his epi-pen on site, as well as Benadryl in the event that he touches or ingests peanut butter. As at teacher myself, I know I can trust his kindergarten teacher to make sure he will be safe in the classroom. It is my hope we will communicate regarding academics or social issues; not because she had to stick him with an epi-pen. As we prepared Alexander for school, we have discussed that he may need to sit at a sequestered table at lunch due to his allergies. We have prepared him to have friends who eat peanut butter, but they will know about his allergy and hopefully, be considerate of him. Ultimately, we do not want him to have to avoid situations but rather, learn how to work within the boundaries of his allergy. We can’t always be with him and he needs to learn to use his voice. When you meet him, you will soon learn that he does have a voice! After speaking with the two K teachers (who happened to be on campus when we were last week), we were relieved to learn he will be in the classroom for lunches and we will have him bring his own lunch. Fortunately, Alexander is a pretty picky eater so we aren’t worried about him trying new foods. This plan will work for Kindergarten, but what about future years at ?

Our largest concern stems from the lunch menu. Serving peanut butter, a well-known and common allergen, simply doesn’t make sense to us. It is my hope that you could explain the reasoning for serving peanut butter. We know we will have to deal with it. But, we also believe it is a very different scenario in a school where our son tells his close friends who bring their sandwiches from home, when he can identify it, that he can’t have peanut butter versus having the food served to 800 students. When it is served on a large scale, he has no control and thus, no voice. The last thing we want is for him to dread school because he knows he is going to get sick after lunch because someone around him chose peanut butter and jelly for lunch and didn’t tell him. If you aren’t the one who can answer our question (again, as a teacher, I understand that some policies are at a district level), can you please direct me to a person I can contact with my concern? I would really appreciate it.

At the school level, we are also interested in what policy will be in place for recess, when Alexander will be enjoying his time with friends. Friends who probably didn’t wash their hands after eating lunch. I don’t know how many students are allergic to peanut butter at . For all I know, Alexander will be the only one with an allergy. We certainly don’t want him to live in a bubble, nor do we want special attention for him. We just want answers as to how he will be safe. With time, he will become a strong advocate for himself. For now, as his parents and as he learns to advocate for himself, we can’t help but ask the questions, “why peanut butter when there are other options?” and “what is the school going to do to make sure our son is safe?”

Again, we are excited to be a part of the community. It is our neighborhood school and we chose to live here because of the strong schools in the School District.

I’m sorry to take your time as I know the start of the school year is very busy. If it is better to set up a meeting with my husband and I, we would love an opportunity to discuss this further with you. Otherwise, I look forward to your email response.

Thank you,

Michelle and Eric

Friday, August 24, 2012

One of those moments when I am completely speechless

Very rarely do I find myself speechless.

But it does happen.

A few weeks ago, I met a student and her mom for lunch.  Annie graduated this spring and is heading off to BYU this fall.  She and her mom have been trying to take me to lunch for weeks and it finally happened.

Annie has been in the ASB program for four years so I have also known her throughout her high school career.  Her senior year she was on the ASB Executive Board so we spent countless hours together.  
She (and her family) are wonderful and have always been so good to me.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch at Purple Cafe in Bellevue.  OMG.  So good.  And a place where happy hours should occur with girlfriends (*cough* *cough* girlfriends).
We spent about three hours, eating, chatting and spending time together.
  Imagine the amount of time I could have logged if I had been at happy hour with my girls!

Just as we were preparing to leave, Annie and her mom presented me with a gift.  Apparently, every time Annie finishs a milestone in school - kindergarten, 6th grade, 8th grade and now, high school, her mom makes one teacher of Annie's choosing a quilt.  Pretty cool tradition, right?  
 Pretty amazed to find out I was the one Annie chose for her high school days.

Take a look at this quilt and you can understand why I was speechless.
(Michelle, I know you appreciate the work that went into this quilt!)
The pattern was created by Annie, handstitched by her mom, with an inscription from Annie on the underside.  It is a HUGE queen sized quilt and is absolutely beautiful. 

I didn't go into teaching to receive gifts.  In fact, I get pretty awkward (at best) when I do receive gifts.
I can't help but completely appreciate this one because I know it comes from her heart.

I'm pretty lucky to love what I do so much.  Especially when my students are as amazing as this one!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just trying to catch my breath

In the last few weeks of the summer, I'm trying to stay as relaxed as possible.  For I know, once I start my checking my school email and gearing my thoughts towards the upcoming school year, there is no going back. 

All I can do is live in the now.
I'm watching the Olympics, about 12 hours a day.  Ridiculous?  Yes.  Worthwhile?  Absolutely.
I'm sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine, working on my tan.

I'm cleaning, finishing laundry, and putting my house back together.
I'm playing with my boys.

And I'm trying to live each day.  Without thinking of the end of the summer looming over me.

It's coming.  But I'd like to think I can finish the summer, on my terms. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Celebrating a bride in chelan

I'm back!  Seems like foreeeva since I've had time to sit down and gather my thoughts.  Almost two weeks ago, I was in Chelan, celebrating this beautiful bride-to-be.  And, then there was leadership camp.  And, then there was the much needed recovery time!  
So, let's rewind and give you a little taste of our Chelan Celebration!

 There were four of us who traveled across the state to soak up sunshine, loads of wine, and celebrate Jodie!
We rolled in to the Cave B Winery on Saturday afternoon.
 The weather was gorgeous.  The wine was flowing.  And, the pool was calling our names. 
So, we checked in to our yurts (glamping at its finest!)
and the celebrating began!
After four or five hours at the pool, we cleaned ourselves up and walked to dinner.
 The guy who took this pictue insisted he was a professional photographer.
I hope he specializes in taking photos indoors, as his outdoor photography skills could use some work!
Dinner was delicious and we laughed ourselves silly all night long. 

The next morning, we hit the pool nice and early to cook off our hangovers from the night before.  By late afternoon, we were done and headed in to Chelan to check out our next location.

The Riverview Hotel is an older hotel but they have redone the rooms and it was the perfect place to stay in town.
We rolled in to town around 4.  By 5pm, we were enjoying wine in the first of several wineries.  Again, the weather was perfect, the views were gorgeous and I was lucky to be in the company of good friends.
 Wine flight for $5 bucks?  Yes, please! 
Unfortunately, I couldn't join the girls for the last few hours of sun on Monday morning.  I had to leave the group early  so I could head to leadership camp (post about that adventure is coming soon!) 

The weekend was exactly what the bride requested. 
And a whole lot of love.