Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! (Even ones with Life Threatening Food Allergies)

Three years ago, we walked into our local Claires Store. My ,then, 4 year old had accomplished the scholastic feat of learning all of her continents, oceans, and the entire milky way! I had been prodding her growth with promises of something from the store, as a sort of reward. Claires ( is such a fun store for girls, and the girlie side of us women! My daughters made their way through the sparkle and frills and back to the Disney princess lip-glosses for kids. I bought one and thought "it worked! The knowledge and the bribe were complete!" But, as she ripped off the wrapping to her new lipgloss in the car and applied her new sparkly, "fun" lip gloss--our worlds changed! Her face began to swell with hives. I was driving and looking back on her telling me something was wrong and what I saw made me grow scared, really, really scared. 

I pulled over and jumped out of my vehicle and got to her. I wiped off the lipgloss and washed her face with a wet wipe. Her hives were not going anywhere! I gave her a benedryl, cancelled our date with friends on the drive home, AND, of course, blamed myself (something us food allergy moms have down pat). I'd bribed her to get her to pay attention & learn something new, exposed her to danger due to my own lack of knowledge, and instead of celebrating her milestone- she got her whole day of fun plans taken away.

I knew my approach was terrible! First of all --bribing? I mean let's admit it works, but what does it teach? That getting an accumulation of materialistic things is a reward? I'm a minimalist personally so there was a major conflict and internal struggle happening here. I was doing what was easy, not what was right, and deep down I knew I was wrong. 

In theory, I had really hoped to expose my girls to the big beautiful world, instead of through things "MADE IN" different parts of the world. I was obviously a hippocrite trying to find my footing as a "homeschool mom" and "food allergy mom", and felt the need to overcompensate. All of the things my girls were excluded from due to food allergies made me, behave differently than I had wanted to. So, that day, I blindly trusted in the pretty princess labeling with no allergen warnings, and exposed my oldest to the food allergen that I had spent the rest of my life avoiding and teaching her to avoid! It was a wake up call and it changed the way I parent completely.

Although she had a terrible reaction, we made it through that day. Thank God having mercy on my mistake! I realized it was the solidified mineral oil ( that contained "casein" a milk protein. I also learned that non-edibles weren't required to be labeled for food allergens, even though you'd think a lipgloss would be considered an edible, right??!! My little girl was determined to get something else, after all a bribe is a bribe and I had committed one big one. I took her back another day, and told her  NO lipglosses because they have mineral oil. Well, she really, really wanted one since her best friend had some. We sat there and read every lipgloss on the shelf and all were made of synthetic "junk". She ended up with Another crown for the crown shelf! 

I started my own research and I found an organic, transparent company called NYR (Neals Yard Organics) ( I showed her the catalogue and told her that "she can have anything in here," still trying to solve the "lipgloss" problem.  They were all great, organic, and safe for her. It turned out to be a great resource for the grown up's in her world that had -God knows what --on their face that they were exposing her too. As family and friends would begin their precursor of how they're not sure if their contaminated , I would hand them a a catalogue and say "now you can"! 

But the organic, syntheticly dye-free, neutral colors weren't "her 4 year old fashion." She wanted purple, sparkly, and shimmery colors! None were options. Then, it happened! My little entrepreneurial Leader began to shine. She asked that for Christmas the next month if, instead of getting gifts, she could start her own business?! She told me she has been thinking about it for months and she had some ideas. She continued:! that it didn't seem right that if half of the Americans with food allergies were girls, then 7 & 1/2 million females kids couldn't have princess lipgloss??!! Because it's not labeled properly??!! This deeply disturbed her and she wanted to fix the problem. I said "well, we're going to need to put together a business plan and present it to Daddy."  She then said "Mom, every girl should get to sparkle and shine." Slogan done! She spent days picking out stock labels and then combing them into her perfect one. Putting together a business plan to know what we needed to start this venture, and  using thuan"teachable moment" to sit my then almost 5 year old in front of an Excel   spreadsheet to understand all that involved in having a business. 
Now for a name: Lil' Wahine Organics.(, (

She was (very proudly) born in Hawaii, and the name literally translates as Little Girl Organics -- so it was a quick decision in her part. The label designing,
branding and cause went fast, now Mama had to create a recipe that would be simple, ingredient transparent, and have options/ alterations  to accommodate different food allergies. My daughter didn't need to be overcompensated for her exclusion in an ignorant society, she needed room to grow her own wings and perspective. She was so hands on in all aspects of her business, and took ownership to the cause and the hard work that laid ahead. 

She became her own saleswoman and pitched her brand everywhere we went. We got a lot of no's. It wasn't easy and it was good for her to see that! I really began to see how strong kids with obstacles become. How fearless, inspired by others and the world around them, and selfless.

She became more concerned about this companies ability to make others feel good, that she forgot all about that Disney lipgloss that once had her crying on the floor, so distraut and feeling excluded in Claires ( She developed sympathy, compassion, empathy, a hard working foundation, and a new business in an untapped market at age 5! 

This business gave her new work: excel spreadsheets of a raw cost analysis, and the new needed use of business terminology. It's no wonder she excelled dramatically in the homeschool arena. New limitless opportunities to learn,  and I made sure to teach that there's "no such thing as a free lunch (for anyone who took economics in college)." Education is the gift-- there's nothing owed to you for doing the right thing. I also started to feel better about where my lessons and parenting lessons were going. 

From then on I stopped negotiating with terrorists and took control of the ship! Being a mama (  is never knowing if you're screwing your kids up, or fostering excellence! Join HelloMamas to find custom tailored moms just like you (! 

But, when your kids pioneer a carefully thought through concept,  in an effort to help others; you get to smile and think that maybe you're doing something right?!! It's never too late to learn the concept of paying it forward. I'm proud my little girls have hearts of gold!

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