Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - 6 thumbs up

This afternoon Dave and I finally got to take Ainsley to see this movie, after Dave's parents graciously agreed to watch Leighton, who, at 19 months, cannot be expected to sit through anything longer than 5 minutes. Ainsley had begged for weeks to see the movie, so we were glad to have a couple of hours to be able to do that. Ainsley loves movies - she memorizes the trailors she sees on TV and then asks in very specific terms to see whatever movie was advertised (as in, "Mommy, I saw this movie called Planet 51, and it's about an astronaut who goes to another planet and all of the aliens call him an alien! It's coming to theaters on [fill in date].").

So anyway, we saw the movie and it fully captivated us the entire time. It was equally entertaining to kids and parents and wasn't scary at all to Ainsley (although I must say that she's pretty tough and rarely gets scared in movies).

The best thing about the movie (to me, anyway) was that the main female character, a "weather girl" named Sam, had a severe peanut allergy, a fact you learn relatively early in the film. Later, the allergy becomes part of the story line, when Sam comes into contact with some peanut brittle and suffers an allergic reaction that requires an epi-pen. The reaction part was done in such a way that it wasn't scary or traumatic, just matter-of-fact.

I loved Sam and her allergy because (a) it allowed Ainsley to connect with a character who has the same challenges that she does, and (b) it reinforced that having allergies is just one aspect of a person. Indeed, Sam is a fully developed character, and her peanut allergy is only a small part of who she is (in other words, you wouldn't walk out of the theater thinking that Sam was "that food allergy girl"). I really appreciated that.

So, for all of you food allergy parents who haven't yet seen the movie with your (4 yrs +) kids, I highly recommend it. You better believe that Ainsley will be getting a DVD of this movie whenever it comes out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Until next year, Candy Witch

This year, as with last, the Candy Witch made an appearance on Halloween. The Candy Witch is a good witch who brings toys to children who can't eat all of their Halloween candy for one reason or another. Related to the tooth fairy, she exchanges the toy(s) for the kid's unsafe candy. Last year, Ainsley got a Tinkerbell DVD in exchange for her candy. This year, at her request (you can ask for certain toys, as with Candy Witch's good friend, Santa), Ainsley received a stuffed kitten (okay, she actually got two - Candy Witch made double appearances Saturday and Sunday night). Because Leighton also had to give up candy that was unsafe for Ainsley, Candy Witch brought her a book.

So how does this Candy Witch thing work? First, I or another trusted grown-up, sorts the Halloween candy Ainsley and Leighton have just raked in, and then all of the unsafe candy is put in a bag. A call is then placed to the Candy Witch letting her know that the parcel is ready for pick-up, and we place the bag on the front doorstep and close the door. After a minute or two (she has a fast broomstick), we hear a knock, and we know the Candy Witch has just made the exchange. We open the door and, low-and-behold, the toys are on the doorstep where the candy bags had been sitting.

Ainsley LOVES the Candy Witch. This year, after collecting her fair share of safe candy, she purposefully began picking out unsafe candy from her trick-or-treating destinations just to give to Candy Witch (I suppose her idea is that the more unsafe candy we collect for the Candy Witch, the better the prize will be ... so the unsafe candy is sort of like Chuck E. Cheese tickets).

You might think it's bad that Ainsley purposefully took a lot of unsafe candy this year, but I learned long ago that she likes to collect a variety of candy in her Halloween bag even though she knows some (okay, most) of it is unsafe. Basically, she thinks an entire bag of Starburst, Skittles, and Twizzlers is boring, so she likes collecting a few M&M bags here and there (and, yes, even the dreaded Reese's peanut butter cups ... who can resist the bright orange packages?) to create a colorful array in her bag.

So what happens to the unsafe candy the Candy Witch picks up? Well, she eats it, of course ... like me, Candy Witch has a remarkable sweet tooth (and also bears a striking resemblance to yours truly). She takes it to her office and shares it with her coworkers. She also gives some (the stuff she doesn't like) to her husband for him to do the same.

I love Candy Witch because she makes Ainsley feel special at Halloween time. Other kids just get candy; she (along with other food-allergic children, as well as diabetic children) gets candy and a fun surprise. This simple concept has transformed Halloween from a rather sad affair that revolves around treats my child can't eat into an exciting time of anticipation that allows Ainsley's imagination (What does the Candy Witch look like? Where does she live? What does she do with all that candy? What will she bring me?) to run wild.