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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blue and Gold Banquet 2009

This Saturday was the Blue & Gold Banquet, where Cub Scouts receive the badge that they've been working towards. My son, Gaetano, received his Bear badge!

When the scout receives his badge, their Akela (that's me in my son's case) pins the badge upside down over their left pocket (close to their heart). When the scout does his first good deed he can turn the badge right side up and it can be permanently attached to their uniform.

Gaetano was with us shopping at HEB and a bunch of those yellow coupons you see hanging everywhere had fallen and scattered on the floor. We were busy shopping to notice them, but Gaetano saw them and picked them up and put them all back on the hook.

At first, I thought he'd knocked them down and was just cleaning up after himself. I was ready to scold him for touching them in the first place but he told me they were already on the floor and he was just picking them up. Awwww, he did a good deed! :-) Tonight, I'll have him help me put his patch on his uniform.

The following are some statistics from the back of the program from the Blue & Gold Banquet that I thought you might find interesting. Keep in mind that Gaetano is a Cub Scout, not a Boy Scout. Gaetano is a Bear now, and has Weblos 1 and Weblos 2 to complete before entering the Boy Scouts in the 6th grade. As you read through these facts, keep in mind that with every year that passes in scouting, the next level brings more advanced achievements and greater commitment.

For every 100 boys who join Boy Scouts:
  • Twelve will have their first contact with a church or synagogue
  • Five will earn their religious emblem
  • One will enter the clergy
  • Eighteen will develop hobbies that last through the merit badge system
  • One will use his Boy Scout skills to save a life
  • One will use his Boy Scout skills to save his own life
  • Seventeen will become Scouting volunteers
  • Four will become Eagle Scouts

Gaetano tells us that he'd like to go all the way to Eagle Scouts. I would be so proud. As his Akela, I promise to do my best to help him reach his goal.

Gaetano and Angela at the Blue and Gold Banquet 2009

Though Gaetano looks like he's laughing in the photo on the right, he's actually doing his impression of his sister crying like babies do. That's my goofball! I love my Bear cub and look forward to more good times with scouting.

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Permalink

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gaetano's Allergy to Artificial Color

Back in March 2005 I blogged about discovering my son's allergy to artificial color. It was a brief entry stating I had a suspicion and would be taking him to see an allergist to confirm my suspicions. Today Id like to finally follow up and get this out there for other parents who may have children with this allergy.

When Gaetano was 4 years old, he'd had a chronic cough for nearly 2 years. He had multiple ear infections as well and the doctor said that if he gets one more ear infection we would need to put tubes in his ears. The poor little guy was constantly congested but I didn't know why. I've been congested most my life, so I figured it may be bad genes, but I hoped to find a different reason.

Gaetano would get a fever and I'd give him Children's Tylenol for it. Most of the time he threw it up right away. Sometimes he'd throw up later. Either way, I'd blame the vomiting on the fever or illness itself.

It was the same way for antibiotics; he would get a pink colored Amoxicillin and he'd throw that up too. Again, I'd blame the illness or fever. He'd get better, but not as quick as I thought he should for being medicated. It almost always felt like illnesses had to run their course and that medicines didn't really help.

In between being sick, when he was more healthy than not, he was still congested and coughed quite frequently. I took him to the doctor to see what was wrong.

The doctor tried to tell me he was asthmatic and gave him Abuterol (which I've since learned contains yellow #6) for his chronic cough. It didn't help. I knew it had to be something else and figured it was something he was allergic to. I didn't know what that allergy might be. Was it the old carpet in our house? Was it all his stuffed animals he'd drooled on for years? Was it some other environmental cause that I didn't know about? I looked for every possible cause I could find -- I didn't want him to be asthmatic and suffer with that all his life.

From time to time, Gaetano would spike a fever and throw up but had no other symptoms that were noticeable. It could have been that he wasn't very talkative being only 4 years old and not having the words to express how he felt. It could be that he really had no other symptoms. I'll never know for sure.

Every illness (for lack of better term) which happened seemed to have a decent explanation of its own. Yet somehow I knew that there had to be some common thread. Maybe it was my maternal instincts, maybe it was my analytical nature at play, or maybe it was neither. It just seemed logical to me that there could be something making him sick and I just didn't know what it was.

I started trying to keep a mental note of what he ate before he threw up to see if maybe it might be something of a gross food combination that would naturally upset anyone's stomach. (You know, like milk and orange juice together.) Sometimes I had to figure out what he'd eaten by what came out of him... I started to notice that every time he puked it was pink.

Looking back through my blog, I see that I never wrote about taking Gaetano to see an allergist. Well, I did that and found that there isn't a prick test for artificial color. He was given a prick test anyway and turned out he wasn't allergic to anything that he was exposed to at home or daycare.

I learned that the only way to test for an allergy to artificial color was to remove it from the diet for 3 full weeks before re-introducing it to the diet. If he gets ill, it is fairly safe to assume that the dye was the cause. You should then wait for the reaction to clear up and then 3 weeks after that you can try introducing the artificial color once again. We did this several times, sometimes without my own knowledge...

Most of our family thought that I was just being a health nut or overprotective, that there's no way that artificial color could possibly make anyone sick. Some thought, "a little won't hurt", while others simply didn't believe it at all.

At the time, I was going through divorce and Ambrogio (my ex-husband) didn't think there was anything wrong with our son. Ambrogio just figured I was trying to be controlling since I was "picky" about Gaetano's diet from the time he started eating solid foods. (I made all his baby food from organic vegetables.)

It wasn't until family members gave Gaetano foods with artificial color without telling me first that they believed me. It's pretty convincing when you give him something with red dye in it and he pukes in your car!

It took a few months to get everyone else who cared for him on board with checking every label. There were many "accidents" and those responsible always said things like, "It wasn't that much.", "I'm sure he'll be fine.", "It wasn't red, it was just yellow #5." It was infuriating at times to say the least.

Months later, I'd finally gotten Gaetano off all artificial color for a full month and his cough was much better. He was generally much better behaved too. We thought that was just because he was getting older but I've since learned that some children react to artificial color with bad behavior (or hyperactivity).

He got sick a few times the year following, and we came to discover that there's only one liquid antibiotic that did not have artificial color in it. One. That's right; just one. (It was an Amoxicillin, but I can't recall exactly what it was called right now.)

The doctor said that since there's only one antibiotic he could have, it was important to keep him healthy since he could build an immunity to it. Though there would be ways to get around that issue, it would be a major hassle he explained. So, I did my best to keep him healthy as I could.

A year later Gaetano was much healthier over all. He wasn't congested anymore and hadn't gotten any more ear infections either. (Yay, no tubes!)

Over the years there have been several slip-ups where he's had artificial color. In kindergarten it was orange iced cookies for Halloween that some parent told him it was okay to eat even though he said he couldn't have it. He trusted them. In first grade, there was a similar instance. There've been plenty of other times where he was given something either accidentally or carelessly over the years.

From time to time we run into people who don't believe his allergy is real. They think I'm nuts. Most people are understanding thank goodness. However every now and then someone will try to tell me that a "little won't hurt" and I just stand my ground. Most of the time saying something like, "Well if you want to clean up his puke then by all means give him a little!" convinces them enough not to give him anything he shouldn't eat.

Gaetano's had a rough time of it in the last couple years because kids at school can be so mean at times. Some have teased him that they have certain candy and he can't have it. For the most part, he handles it pretty well. Sometimes it gets to him and he says to me things like, "Mom, do you hope that I grow out of my allergy some day?" or "Mom, can we just test it and see if my allergy is gone yet?"

To make Gaetano feel better, I try to buy everything red that I can for him to eat that is all natural. (I know he's allergic to the other colors, but red is the one that makes him puke.) I buy all sorts of great treats from Whole Foods for him because I know that shopping there is safe. I've made homemade candy corn, bubble gum and marshmallows for him and they're even better than store bought junk! Luckily there's very little that I can't find an equivalent for, so he doesn't feel left out.

Why am I writing all this after so long? The answer to that is soon to come. (Hang in there; I know this is a long blog post!)

Last night, we were eating at a restaurant and the server offered us some "all natural" black cherry soda. I asked the waiter if he was sure that it was all natural and told him my son is allergic to artificial color. He said it was all natural except that it had sugar in it. I commented to him that sugar is natural, and he said that some people complain because it has sugar in it. That should have been my tip-off that this guy had no clue, but I trusted him.

Half way through drinking the can of soda that the waiter had poured into a glass, Dan started to read the can's label. You can see where this is going... Red #40 was the final ingredient. Dan & I did our best to not make a big deal out of it and let the waiter know.

In short, I didn't like how the waiter handled the situation. I found him rude as soon as he said, "I told my manager and he said it only has a couple of drops of Red #40 in it." I decided against talking to the manager at that time because I didn't want to make a big deal with my son there. (The waiter offered me the chance to speak to him now or I could call him later. For some reason, he insisted that if I was going to talk to him it had to be now, not after our meal. It was very awkward.)

I was as nice as I could be about it, letting him know that I just thought he should know so he didn't tell people it was "all natural" anymore. I told him that I didn't blame him, that I should have checked the label. He didn't seem to believe me. Despite the awkwardness, we ordered dinner and did our best to enjoy the meal.

Gaetano seemed a little concerned that he might get sick. I explained to him that he'd been wanting a test to see if he's still allergic. "Well, this is your chance!", I told him. I explained that if he didn't get sick from it this time, then maybe he's outgrown it.

I wanted to allay his worries and really let it be a true test. I knew that only some red wouldn't necessarily bring on fever and vomiting but I knew it would at least bring on congestion and possibly an upset stomach. I didn't tell Gaetano what I thought might happen.

I really wanted to talk to the manager on the way out (while Dan & Gaetano waited in the car), but I didn't. Having been a restaurant manager myself for some time I was mad that he didn't even bother to stop by the table. I knew that if I spoke to him it was not going to be pleasant. I saw the manager from a distance. He looked like he was a generally grumpy person. It would have been ugly... So we left.

About 45 minutes later I noticed Gaetano didn't look too good. I asked him how he was doing and he replied that his tummy hurts. I asked him when it started hurting and he said it'd been hurting since about five minutes ago.

I did my best to get his mind off of it, making him smile and laugh while being careful not to make him suspicious. He went to bed in a good mood and I hoped for the best.

At 3:45am I woke up with a massive headache. I'd been dreaming that Gaetano was sick and that I'd taken him to the hospital. The doctor said it wasn't his allergy, but it was stress due to the TAKS tests. I got out of bed and went to go check on Gaetano. He was sound asleep and didn't feel feverish. I felt relieved. Maybe he'd be fine. Maybe he's outgrown his allergy?

In the morning, Gaetano woke up and complained of a headache and tummy ache. I checked his sinuses and he seemed to be rather stuffy. Most likely a sinus headache caused by the congestion that ingesting artificial color causes for him. The verdict is that he's not over his allergy.

Gaetano was worried that he'd throw up at school because of his upset stomach. Dan & I tried to put his mind at rest and convince him that he's just worried about the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge And Skills) test tomorrow. I'm hoping that we were right.

I really hope he feels better. He needs to be feeling good for TAKS tomorrow. Having a bad day prior to the big test is sure to make him tired.

So there you have it; I'm writing this for two reasons. One is because I'm worried about my son since he had a dose of Red #40. The other reason is because I know that by sharing my story here on my blog it'll help other parents.

If you found this info helpful, or have a story of your own to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Permalink

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mom, does sell clay?

Earlier tonight my son asked me, "Mom? Does sell like a whole bunch of different colors and kinds of clay or something?"

Oh the innocence of youth. You know, I once thought the very same thing of Adobe itself -- back then there was no ".com" to speak of. I always thought that Macromedia was a better name and still do. Adobe clearly had a brand name with a larger market penetration so they made the right choice keeping their name.

At any rate, his question helped to remind me that intuitive naming isn't absolutely critical to success. I for one prefer intuitive names, but that would just make sense. ;-)

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Friday, December 5, 2008


I often listen to XMKids in the car with Gaetano. There's a hilarious song by Anita Renfroe called Momisms that comes on every so often. Gaetano doesn't seem to appreciate it near as much as I do of course.

I love Momisms more each time I hear it and thought why not share it here on my blog. Enjoy!

And for those of you wondering if there are any Dadisms, well Anita's got this for you:

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (1) | Add Comment | Permalink

Monday, October 27, 2008

Support Our Troops & Cub Scouts

Cub Scouts only have one fundraiser per year and that's popcorn. We need your support to help keep things running smoothly for our boys. Please take a moment to at least consider a purchase today, even if you don't eat popcorn -- you can always send some popcorn to our troops (keep reading to find out how).

To support my son's Cub Scout den, please click on which will take you to Enter your Entry Order Key TEJE3AX. The screen should say Welcome you are supporting Den 11 Gaetano B. and that's it; just browse to find the popcorn you'd like to order.

You'll find there's an option to send a popcorn tin to our troops for $25. What a great gift and way to show your support for our men and women of the military.

Thanks for your support!

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (0) | Add Comment | Permalink

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jet Packs are Pricey!

On the way home from school yesterday, my son decided to ask me a question. Here's our conversation for your reading pleasure.

Gaetano: Mom, how much does a jet pack cost?

Me: A what? A jet pack? (I know what a jet pack is, I was just caught off guard since his question came out of nowhere.)

Gaetano: Yeah, you know the ones you wear to make you fly.

Me: Yeah, I know what a jet pack is. Well, you know I'm not sure. I'm not even sure there is such thing as a real jet pack. If there is, I'm sure it costs a lot of money.

Gaetano: You mean like 50 bucks?

Me: No, probably more like 5,000 dollars. I don't know, maybe more.

Gaetano: That's a rip off!

Me: Well when things are new they usually cost more until enough people have them and then they cost a lot less.

Gaetano: Maybe you could look it up on Google when we get home. I don't know why they would cost that much. I can make a jet pack!

Me: Oh really? You think it is just that easy?

Gaetano: Sure! I can make a jet pack. You just make the thing and put straps on it so you can put it on your back like a backpack, but I don't know how to make the flames part.

Me: Don't you think "the flames part" is important?

Gaetano: What? (He didn't understand what I was getting at.)

Me: Well, don't you think the flames are important? Isn't that what makes it fly?

Gaetano: Ooooh, yeah.

Me: So don't you think making the flames is complicated? I mean, if you're going to wear a jet pack they have to make it safe -- so the flames don't burn your butt.

By then we'd just pulled into the driveway. Gaetano was laughing hysterically. I'm guessing he was laughing that hard because of the imagery, but also because its not every day he hears mom say "butt".

If it weren't for Dan telling me about the guy who crossed the English Channel today I would not have blogged this.

According to the article, this jet-wing (jet pack) costs $190,000. Boy, I was way off! When I get Gaetano home from school today I'll be sure to show him the video. He'll surely get a kick out of it. I bet he'll say he looks like Buzz Lightyear too, probably right after he exclaims that $190,000 is a "rip off" too.

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (0) | Add Comment | Permalink

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dan says, "We're gettin' hitched!"

Nope, we're not buying an RV... Yep, it is true; earlier today Dan asked me to marry him! (A few weeks ago, he quite jokingly asked me in a very thick southern accent, "Wanna git hitched?" To which I said, "Not when you ask me like that!" Hence, the title of this blog post.)

Everyone's been asking me, "How'd he propose?" so I'll fill you in...

I just returned yesterday from 10 days in California, so I was totally worn out. It was a little after 10am this morning when he came in to try and wake me up (again). I was just not wanting to wake up at all. I was thoroughly exhausted. Dan said, "While you were gone I bought something that should help you wake up." He pulled the ring out of his pocket and presented it to me.

I was so bleary-eyed that I could barely make out that it was a ring, let alone what shape stone it was. It did the trick though; it woke me up! I had to stare at it a moment, to make sure I was really awake and not just dreaming it. Then Dan said, "So do you want it?"

I said, "Well yeah, but you haven't asked me to marry you yet!" Dan said, "Oh yeah... Will you marry me?" Of course I said, "Yeah!" [So technically speaking, his blog post is slightly inaccurate, since I didn't say "yes" -- I said "yeah". ;-)]

Dan has posted a picture of the ring on his blog. I know, its HUGE! Those who have seen photos already can't seem to tell by the picture if it is silver or gold, it's a platinum cathedral setting and simply gorgeous.

Gaetano is thrilled. He keeps telling me how excited he is that Dan is going to be his stepdad and that he's so happy for me.

No news on a date or anything else yet. I'm sure we'll blog it when we've made some decisions.

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