Halloween in Manhattan Beach was good to the Trenkamp’s this year. We got lots of treats! The day started off spooky and foggy – perfect for a Halloween parade at Dean’s elementary school. Liam and mommy enjoyed the show, watching all the kids’ parade around in their cool costumes. Dean’s costume was a hit; he was one of two Captain Rex’s in his class, so apparently a popular costume.

Later we went trick-or-treating in MB with our friends. Both Dean and Liam loved getting lots of candy. Pictures of the whole family below! Enjoy!


Pumpkin Patch

We took the boys to the pumpkin patch last weekend. It was cold and foggy by the beach but sunny and warm in the valley where we visited our favorite family farm. Liam enjoyed running through the patch and banging on all the pumpkins like drums, and Dean had fun on his second pumpkin patch excursion, the first being with his kindergarten class earlier in the week. Dean enjoyed testing his strength attempting to pick up the larger pumpkins in the patch.

The boys are beyond excited for Halloween this year – Dean is going as a Storm Trooper named Captain Rex from Star Wars Clone Wars (daddy will be his arch nemesis – Darth Vader) and Liam is going as Batman (with mommy as Batgirl). It should be a fun day. We’ll post pictures soon. In the mean time, enjoy our pumpkin pics.

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Pennekamp Dragons

Dean is enjoying his new school. There are a lot of new challenges from learning to use a computer, to share time presentations and homework (yes homework in kindergarten). It’s been a lot of work for both of us trying to figure everything out, but a lot of fun too. We are finally settling in. Some of Dean’s favorite things about school:

  1. The “treasure chest” full of toys. Dean can earn a trip to the treasure box by doing homework, logging time on the computer, etc. So far this has been a HUGE motivator for Dean.
  2. Library day on Wednesdays. Last week Dean came home with a Star Wars book he found and was very proud of his pick.
  3. His before and after care has the cool little Legos for big kids. This of course is a sign he is growing up. He already has a group of friends that he builds rockets with before and after school. They save their rockets each day and continue to build them the next day.
  4. He gets not one, but two lunches. He has lunch before he goes to Kindergarten and then again at Kindergarten. I of course pack a lighter snack for the second meal but he still thinks it’s pretty cool.

I’m sure we’ll find more things we love about Dean’s new school soon. Until then sharing a picture of the poster Dean and I made this weekend for Mrs. Vavao’s class. They’ll use this all year round and at the upcoming Halloween parade. Dean thought it was the coolest thing in the whole wide world that he and all his classmates’ names are written in flames 🙂

Dean starts kindergarten

Dean started kindergarten last week, what fun.

We started out the Saturday prior by going shopping for some new clothes, just a few new things to start the school year. We went to the GAP Kids where we picked out a few shirts and pants and proceeded to the dressing room. I told Dean, we should start a “yes” pile and a “no” pile for the things he liked and the things he didn’t like. Dean was very enthusiastic about this little plan and as he pulled a shirt over his head he would say things like “this is going in the yes pile for sure, I can already tell” then he’d get the shirt on and enthusiastically punch both arms up above his head and say “YES – this is definitely going in the yes pile.” We left the store with three new shirts and two pairs of jeans and a very happy Dean ready for school – what fun!!!

School started officially on Wednesday, but there was a parent orientation on Tuesday where Dean, mom and dad all went in to meet the teacher, explore the class room and have a mini school day. Dean found out he had Ms. Olguin in room four. Ms. Olguin was very good at managing a full class room with both kids and parents, and in an hour was able to pull off a scavenger hunt, the kids first assignment, two stories and a song, with all of the activities aimed at identifying with the children’s feelings and making them feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Dean was fully engaged and came home even more excited for his first day of kindergarten.

Dean started school on Wednesday, and sadly mommy had to travel up to Seattle early that morning for work, so missed Dean’s official first day, but I got several full reports from both daddy and Dean. Dean was super giddy that evening, he couldn’t stop talking about his first day. He told us how the teacher wrote her name on the board, how he traced his hand and drew a heart in the middle, how he played ball with a few new friends… It was clear that he was super excited to be in kindergarten.

So now after getting adjusted to a new enviorment at Cabrillo Elementary we just learned today that Dean was admitted to the Manhattan Beach school district through the interdistrict transfer process. So we’ll start the whole process over again next week with a new teacher, new friends and a new mascot – the Pennekamp Dragons!!!

I’ve included a few pictures of Dean’s orientation day at Cabrillo and his first official day of school.

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So the elimination diet with Liam is going OK. We’ve eliminated all potential FPIES trigger foods mentioned in my previous post (rice, soy, milk, butter, cheese, chicken, turkey, green beans… and more) and then of course wheat-based products given he was previously on a gluten-free diet. When he was off all common FPIES triggers and wheat for a week he started to have normal bowel movements so we added wheat back in, but unfortunately didn’t get much farther given we haven’t seen normal bowel movements from him for more than a couple of days while on wheat.

What I find most perplexing is the many ingredients in cereal, bread, crackers, and other packaged wheat products, is that you can’t just buy a product that has whole wheat flour, oil, eggs, baking soda, etc. It has to have all these additives like nutrients (Thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin), preservatives (Ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate), flavor enhancers (Monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein), and 10 or 20 0ther ingredients that you are like … what is that exactly and should I be concerned.

So in wheat products, I’ve stayed away from any products that include soy in any form (soy lecithin, soy protein, soy oil…), any dairy, as well as barley and oats as I wanted to test these wheat based foods in isolation. Even being this strict I still have only seen improvement for short stints.

My general assessment though is that Liam is tolerating wheat fine, his temperament is usually pretty good after eating wheat, and they say children with reactions to wheat can be quite bad tempered after digesting it. He has also had some pretty solid bowel movements while on wheat and the frequency has gone way down, from around 5-6 a day to more like 1-2 a day on average, some days a little more if he has a food reaction. So I think it is other ingredients in some of the packaged wheat based products he is reacting too, which are hard to stay away from, even just for the sheer convenience factor.

Because we haven’t been able to get to a stable point in just adding wheat into his diet and because this has now been going on for about a month, I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to add a few additional things into his diet given his reactions tend to be fairly close to the time he digests the food… about an hour or two later. So I can generally get a sense for a new food and if it has an impact as long as I am sure he eats foods I am pretty certain he is OK with around the same time. He seemed to do just fine with chicken, so we’ve eliminated that as a suspect food. We also tried turkey, again fine, so another food back in. I also tried barley, but unfortunately I’m suspicious… but it’s hard to say for sure.  

So the journey continues, although a little slower and more frustrating than I had hoped. Liam has a sensitive little gut that is for sure. I need to get back in to see Liam’s allergist, report where we are at and get his advice on additional things we should be doing / avoiding, etc. One day at a time.

“Best Birthday ever mom!” were the rave reviews from this new five year old. It was a Cars 2 themed party with food inspired from the world adventures of McQueen and Mater, backyard races between McQueen and Francesco that ended with everyone getting their very own Piston Cup, and of course a McQueen cake. Dean’s best buddies came over for the highly anticipated event! Dean had built up the exitment with all his friends for weeks. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

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Rocket Man!

Dean is at a stage where he loves rockets, in fact pretty much every day when I go to pick him up at school he has a rocket ship he has built out of Legos with his friend Jackson or Anthony. So a few weeks ago there was a large empty box in the house from Costco, big enough for both Dean and Liam to sit in and Dean wanted to turn it into a rocket ship. So that’s what we did and we went all out. We painted the box red, white and blue, added stars and stripes, a steering wheel with a paper plate, and rocket blasters with pencils. We had a lot of fun making it, in fact, I think Dean and Liam had more fun making it then playing in it after it was done.

A few days went by, and Dean comes home from school and says to me, “Mommy, I asked Mrs. Dennis if I could bring my rocket to school for share day and she said I could.” My first thought was, oh no, does Mrs. Dennis know when Dean says rocket he isn’t talking about a small toy rocket but a giant box big enough to sit in. So I told Dean we’d have to ask Mrs. Dennis first. “OK” he said, “and mommy this is how I want it to go, I want all the kids to sit on the rug quiet and whoever is listening can have a turn.” I said, “OK, do you want to tell your teacher that is how you want it to go?” He said, “No I want you to do it.”

I talked to Mrs. Dennis the next day and explained the size of the rocket and she said that was fine and thought the kids would have a lot of fun with it. I also, more just to give her a glimpse into the cute mind of a four-year-old, told her about Dean’s request for how the whole “share session” would unfold. We had a laugh about it and that was about it.

As share day neared, Dean’s anticipation grew higher, he asked every day, “when is share day again mommy.” Finally the day arrived and Dean was giddy with anticipation, he blasted out of bed that morning, got dressed and ate breakfast rapid fire and we were off. I wish every day was share day!

When I picked Dean up, his teacher was already gone for the day so I asked Dean how it went. He didn’t give me too much information. So the next day when I dropped Dean off, I asked his teacher and she gave me a full report. Apparently, they put Dean in charge of share day, and he managed it just as he had explained. He had all the kids sit on the rug and gave them each a turn if they were being quite. The teacher said there were a few times when the kids said “but Mrs. Dennis…” to which the teacher responded, “Dean’s in charge, you have to listen to him.” Dean of course took this job very seriously. Mrs. Dennis said it was the cutest thing to watch. I of course was a proud mamma and soaked up every word, Dean, my little leader, taking charge of the class for share day.