Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A couple of months ago I started giving him some Pediasure each day just to make sure he was getting is nutrients and some calories. Milk is thankfully not one of our allergies, and he loves it. However, he wants to drink milk all day. You all know how persistent a 3 year old can be when they want something. We are starting to have some serious battles. I would prefer that he eat some food rather than fill up on milk before meals. Tonight he shouted at me "I don't want food! I want milk." Well, he did not get it. My willpower was strong today. I gave him water. He drank it, but refused to eat and fell asleep on the couch without any dinner. (He was exhausted from a play date this afternoon)
I do not want to be fighting with him constantly about eating - the last thing I need is a toddler with an eating disorder. I know they say don't force it, they will eat when they are hungry. But, can you raise a child on breakfast food, fruit and 1 vegetable? The worst part is that I am loosing the incentive to make him any new foods. What is the point when it just ends up in the trash? I have considered seeing a nutritionist, but unless they can get him to actually put the food in his mouth, what is the point? Today I was cutting up fresh pineapple and he would not even lick it. There is just no reasoning.
My other 3 kids were fairly picky, but they did eat at least a small variety of foods and would taste some new things. Nothing like what I am dealing with now. Does anyone else have anything to offer here?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In the meantime I wanted to share the 2 sources for wheat free- gluten free dough. This first resource was sent to me from kidsfoodallergiesblog.com . It is Colorations® Wheat & Gluten-Free Dough which does not contain the following common allergens: Latex, Dairy & Casein, Egg, Gluten, Peanut & Tree Nut . It looks to be a modeling clay that you can use to mold shapes and leave to harden. I am glad to know about this now. I had looked into purchasing modeling clay for my children from the craft store. However, there are no ingredients listed on the package so I had no way of knowing if it was safe.
Next there is another product from Aroma Dough. As their web site states "ALL products are Gluten Free made with 100% organic, wheat-free rice flour, sodium, water, moisturizing oils, natural aromas (no perfumes). This formula is perfect for children who have special needs such as Autism, Celiac’s Disease, ADD/ADHD, or other allergy related issues. It DOES NOT contain nuts, nut oils, perfumes, soy, dairy products or wheat."
I have purchased this and my kids love it. It like your traditional Play dough, but it is gluten free. It is also scented - each color is a different scent. It has also last us quite a long time. They also sell large buckets of dough for $19.95 that would be an appropriate size for a preschool class. Based on our experience with this dough, I would recommend it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I am torn - I do not mind making C's dough at all. I am a bit worried that C will accidentally play with the wheat containing play dough and have a reaction. I am trying to figure out how to handle this. I guess I might need to make the class play dough every month? Or by a big batch of wheat free Aromadough for the class.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Hi all - just wanted to let you know I found a gluten free meatball at Costco the other day. It is made by Coleman Natural Foods and is all natural - no nitrates, growth hormones, or MSG etc. It does contain soy and milk, but NOT egg. We are going to try them this week and I will let you know how they are. Hopefully C. will eat them! If you want to find out more about their products here is the link. http://www.colemannatural.com/
There is no warning about cross contamination due to shared equiptment, but I have not called the company to enquire about their processing practices.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Other than that we are gearing up for Halloween. I have volunteered to bring the Halloween treat for both my son's preschool classes. Honestly it is easier than worrying about what someone else may bring. However, since I have become a bit of an allergy maven I felt it necessary to inquire if there were any other allergies in the class so I could make sure it was safe for everyone. There is a milk allergy in the class. Yikes - the ONE allergy we do NOT have. I will figure it out. If I need help - I will be bugging you guys.
I also think I have averted future unsafe cupcake debacles at school for R. It seems that most of the moms bring store bought cupcakes that at labeled processed in a facility that also processes nuts. Who can blame them - we all have enough going on without having to bake cupcakes! To avoid any more situations where R. can not eat the cupcake, I purchased Entenmann's Brownie Bites. (They seem to be safe for peanut allergies) They come prepackaged in the little bags. This way they can be kept in the classroom and not in the freezer. R. is very excited - he can not wait until the next birthday so he can have his special brownies. Problem Solved!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This is the playdough I made - it came out really great. The texture is really nice. I chose a recipie that called for shortening a a little vegetable oil. I thought it would make it more pliable and keep it from drying out. And it did! I ended up emailing all the recipies to the moms and got some really positive replies. I think overall they are really understanding and willing to try and help. It is nice to know that there are still some compassionate people out there. The teacher also asked me to share the recipie with the moms of the 2 day class that shares the room!
Here is the recipie:
2 c. cornstarch
1 c. salt
1 tbsp. shortening
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil
Mix and cook over low heat until mixture leaves edge of pan. Knead until smooth. Store in plastic bag or container at room temperature. I added food coloring and kneaded it in while the dough was still warm. I did wear gloves so I did not dye my hands green. Next time I am going to try adding it to the water fiirst.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I am looking to the positive - at the end of this I will have new boobs! Smaller, perky ones too!Who does not want that? I will be checking periodically in and lurking for sure!
A quick school update - it is going really well for both boys. C only had 1 potty accident on the first day. He also loves his Speed Racer lunch box that he uses to take his own snack to school. The teachers have been great. I signed up to make the play dough for the first month , so this Sunday I will be making wheat free play dough. I have a couple of recipes, so we will see what works.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
September 11,2001 - I remember the day 7 years ago. I sat on my bed nursing my newborn daughter and watched, in disbelief, as two airplanes flew into the Twin Towers. The experience left me shocked and numb. I could not understand how or why this was happening. I felt angry because I knew then that our world would never be the same. I was fearful of what was to come. I knew we would go to war, what else could we do? We had been attacked. I was mostly mad that this had happened at all – why did these terrorists feel the need to cause this kind of chaos and destruction? It wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair.
It is now September 11, 2007 – and this morning at the same time there were dedications and moments of silence being held in NY, DC and Pennsylvania, my world was rocked again. I received the news that I have breast cancer. The coincidence in the dates did not hit me until later that night. I just thought another reason for this ominous date to be wiped from the calendar.
This morning I sit in the radiology office waiting to have an MRI. I am trying to process this information, but it is hard. I do not feel like this is really happening to me. I am in task management mode. I need to get tests done and appointments set up to I can see a surgeon. I need to see the surgeon and find out what I am really dealing with. How bad is this going to be?
I am feeling many of the same things I did 7 years ago. Shock – Disbelief – Anger. Why does this have to happen? Once again Sept 11th has rocked my world. I am determined to come through this experience stronger. Seven years ago our nation came together when we were under threat and became stronger. I will do the same. We were simply not going to let them get the better of us - they cannot win. We were dealing with a cancer on our society, in much the same way, now I must deal with a cancer in my body. I know I will have the support of my friends and family to help is through. I cannot let cancer win – I will not.
I am entering a new reality. I am going to war against cancer. I know my world will never be the same. I hope to find a new normal, eventually a better normal. I want my kids to know that we can be strong and overcome anything. I gave my kids extra hugs today.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
First a story of a 19 year old high school student who smeared peanut butter on an allergic classmate. Fortunately there was no reaction, but what was he thinking? What kind of person does that? I do not think I will ever understand bullying, I guess this kid was just trying to get off on a power trip. The police are looking into the situation, but the victim did not want to press charges. Why would he? That could just set him up to continue to be a target.
Then a story about a school secretary who resigned from her job due to the schools no nut policy. Apparently they do regular lunchbox checks to make sure that no one brings in any peanut product. (how the school has time to do that I'll never know) Parents feel that it is a hassle, and she is getting a lot of community support towards a petition to change the policy.
Finally a story about a boy who was pulled out of school when students threw rocks at him and said they were peanuts. Apparently the school also has a no nut policy, which is under fire from non allergic parents. This poor kid is under so much pressure because his classmates can not have the treats and food they like because of his peanut allergy. How is a child supposed to learn and thrive in that kind of environment?
It seems like this peanut / no peanut issue is tearing some schools and communities apart. Because of "those parents" that their child can not take their favorite treat to school. Believe me , I sympathise - I know it is a pain to have to read the labels. I do it every day for 9 different allergens! Why are we so focused on the foods we can or can not bring to school. We should be focused on education and nurturing the next generation.
My allergic boys are not in public school yet. so I have not had to deal with this directly. Our schools are not nut free, but they seem to be very nut aware - requesting that food eaten in the classroom (only snack) does not contain peanut products. Peanut products are allowed in the cafeteria, but there is always a buffer around the allergic child of friends who are not eating peanut butter. My daughter and her friends are learning to be considerate of their classmates with peanut allergies.
To be honest, I do not what nuts banned from our school. I do not think it is the best way to handle the situation. Peanuts are also not the only allergen out there. I think it can make our kids targets to ridicule from classmates as well as insensitive parents. Clearly many people don't get it, they never will. They do not want to be bothered with worrying about food allergies because of some other kids. Some people are just like that. We need to teach our kids the skills they need to survive in a world with peanuts and insensitive people.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The boys are another story. R will begin Jr. Kindergarten in a school that is nut free. I do not worry too much about him. I know the school snacks are safe and I will attend the class parties and field trips to check on what is being served from outside the classroom.
I am a little more concerned about C. His allergies are numerous, and the wheat and egg allergies worry me the most. He will be attending the same school as his brother, just 3 days a week. The school has a great tradition of scheduling home visits for all the students and teachers a week before school. It gives the teachers a great opportunity to meet the child one on one and makes the transition very smooth. It also gives the parents the opportunity to discuss any issues.
Due to C's allergies both his teacher and the assistant came to visit. I think the meeting went very well. C was very shy, but I feel like our allergy conversation went very well. Before the meeting I had sent a note to the school with a list of things I wanted to review. The teachers had a copy of the list so they were prepared with questions as well. They understand the importance that C only eat food that I supply. We agreed that I would send his snack in a lunch box so that he will know to only eat from his special box. I will be attending all the class parties and am happy to make 2 or 3 items for the kids to share. I also had some concerns about craft projects. Normally the mom's volunteer to take turns making play dough every month. C can not play with play dough made from flour. I printed several recipes for play dough that was made from corn starch. They will be distributed to the class. In addition I offered to supply the class with brown rice noodles if needed for art projects. We basically started a positive dialog. I explained that I was willing to help out in any way to help make sure C was safe and that would help the teachers to focus on teaching.
Over all I feel pretty good about the allergy thing. I think I am more worried about the potty thing. C. is newly potty trained (YEAH), but I worry he will forget to go, or be too shy to tell the teacher he needs help. Tomorrow is the open house, and school starts on Tuesday.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
What DOES the president do? I am not well studied in government and politics. Those subjects never interested me in school. But when you stop to think about it, just what does the president really do? I replied that the president meets with leaders of other countries to help them. He also tries to help fix problems in our country. If only it were that simple.....
It is designed like a puzzle to make a train, dump truck, or rocket. It really makes the creative process very easy. This cake was very easy to make - you can decorate using any safe candy that your child likes. I used Skittles and Twizzlers. I hope they make more designs. Perhaps a girl theme?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Anyway - my baby turns 3 on Thursday. I am conflicted about this. Perhaps this has to do with my recent disconnect - who knows. We have moved him to a boy boy bed and are in the process potty training. One one hand I am sad that we will no longer have a baby. But I am so ready to ditch the diaper pail! Seven years of diapers is enough! I see other families with older kids at the pool. They can actually sit and have a conversation without having to chase a toddler down constantly. It must be nice - it will be nice, someday. I do have a close friend who is about to deliver her first baby, so I guess I can get some baby time in without the breastfeeding and sleepless nights.
In the meantime I am planing a SMALL allergen free train theme birthday party for the weekend. I planned it at 2 pm so I would only have to serve light snacks and cake. Pretty simple. I think I have the cake handled - a la Cherrybrook Kitchens. I will recap the details after the party.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
maggie and milly and molly and may.
Now - whom to tag, I apologize if you have already been tagged previously.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I am seriously considering a membership to Lifetime Fitness. The facility looks great - then kids area is huge - they have a kids gym, climbing area, outdoor area, and computer lab. Plenty to keep them occupied. The added bonus - they do not allow ANY food into the kids area! This was very exiting news for me. If I can find a place to work out that has activities for my kids and they are safe - that would make me so happy.
I will know for sure next week when I go for a tour at the sales site. They are a nation wide chain, so if you want to see if they have one in your area you can check their web site at http://www.lifetimefitness.com/.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Since this is C.'s first year in pre-school, I awoke this morning thinking about how to prepare the school and his teacher for his arrival. The school has dealt with numerous allergies including wheat. I will be sending in his snacks (in his new lunchbox). So, they really just need to make sure he does not eat any food that I personally did not provide, and he will be OK. Oh yeah - and we have to make sure that the play dough is made from corn starch instead of flour. At our school the mom's take turns making play dough every month.
The school is nut free, although that does not prevent a well meaning mom from inadvertently sending in a food that has a peanut contamination. I have a non allergy friend who wrote "no nuts" in her kids lunchbox to remind herself not to include any peanut product. I thought that was a great idea. I will be attending all class parties and serving dishes that are safe and hopefully tasty for all the kids.
There was an incident at the school summer camp where a boy with Celiac disease was given an animal cracker. The mom was not happy and it made him sick for a few days. I try not to worry, but it is in the back of my mind. I also need ask them to make sure that they inform me of any class birthdays and school projects that involve food.
Our school has a nice tradition of scheduling home visits between all the teachers and student about a week before school. This will give me a good opportunity to review everything with his teacher. I have also seen different allergy plan forms on line that I will fill out for them. Oh yeah - and I need to order that medical bracelet.
What do you all do to prepare the school for your allergy kids? Is there anything I need to add to my list?
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
This story has got me thinking about my own kids. My son R. has a severe peanut allergy (98.9 IgE on his last RAST,) but I have no idea what kind of reaction to expect if he were to be exposed to a peanut. He has only every had one reaction almost 3 years ago. He ate some of my peanut butter toast and broke out in hives. He had eaten peanut butter before did not have a reaction. We do not have a history of allergies ,so I was surprised he reacted. I knew immediately what was happening so I gave him Benadryl and took him to the pediatrician. He was fine and we have been carrying an Epi pen ever since. I guess we are doing a good job avoiding peanuts ever since. But, I have this huge fear of the unknown. What would happen if he were to eat a peanut? Is he one of those kids who will drop right away? Or will his reaction be gradual? Not knowing what will happen really has me concerned. I do not think he is contact sensitive, but I can not think of a time he has even been in a room with a pure peanut product.
Does anyone else have this same concern?
I also wish I had insisted that he have a RAST test done as part of the initial diagnosis. I did not know anything about food allergies then, and figured that the scratch test was enough. I would love to know what his initial IgE levels were. Have they increased over the last few years? I suppose one piece of advice I would offer moms who are just starting on this journey is to get a RAST done. It may not mean much right away, you need to avoid the allergic food regardless. However, it can be useful to track the progress of the allergy from year to year.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
For people living with allergies in Raleigh, NC there is a new business called Rosie's Plate. They specialize in pre-prepped meals to go. They have built a brand new a gluten free, peanut free, and shellfish free facility just for this purpose. They use all natural and organic ingredients. They have also taken many precautions to assure the cleanliness and purity of their facility and food. More information regarding their practices can be found on their web site.
Rosie's Story is like many of our stories. She is a mom who struggled to feed her family healthy foods that were free of their multiple allergens. I think that it is great that Rosie not only took charge of her families allergies, but she has used her experience as an outlet to start her own business and help other families in similar situations. I love hearing positive stories about women starting businesses and helping other people.
If I lived in the Raleigh area, I would definitely check out Rosie's Plate. Hopefully it will be a success and we will see more allergy friendly food service businesses started around the country.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I had to leave the house today. It is the 3rd beatiful day in a row we have been cooped up inside due another bout of strep throat. This weekend we missed a swim meet, dinner with friends last night and a day at the pool with another family we have not seen in over a year! It was going to be such a nice weekend. :(
I left the house and came to Panera. My 6 year old was hysterical and begged me not to go. She usually does not react that way and relishes a day with her dad. I just had to get some space. I have been here a while. Long enough to have coffee, work on a project I have been hired for, have some lunch and surf the net a bit. I am way behind on my blogs - have not read or written much for 2 weeks. I would rather stay longer, but the guilt is starting to set in. I really needed this break and it has been rather enjoyable. I think I will have to make this a regular thing.
Just talked to hubby - he wants to go do dinner since he has need home with the kids all day. Ha ah. Try it day after day! I am not really in the mood. Perhaps I will let him take the 2 older kids and I will stay home with the 2 year old.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I would like to echo the sentiments posted on Kids Food Allergies Blog. It would be great for more food manufacturers to take notice of food allergies. Especially multiple food allergies. It is very disapointing to find a new product you could use only to find that there is a cross contamination issue. I am grateful for Cherrybrook Kitchens and Enjoy Life Foods - we love their products. I am sure it is very difficult to make foods that are tasty, will ship well and are allergy friendly. I am sympathetic to the challanges - but there is a market for these products!
Anyway here is what I found:
- Grahahm Crackers by JO-SEF - gluten free and egg free. Made is a dedicated gluten, casein, peanut and tree nut facility. They are very tasty and C. loves them. They are also the right size to make smores. Yay!!!
- The Cravings Place Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chewy Brownie Mix. They also make other mixes that are gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, egg free and nut free!!!! I am so excited! We are going to make them this weekend, and I will post the results.
- Miss. Roben's Mock Graham Cracker Mix. I have only seen Miss. Roben's products online and was glad to find something on the shelf that I did not have to order. I am going to attempt to make cut out cookies and will post the results.
- 1-2-3 Gluten Free - baking mixes that are Gluten -free, wheat-free, Corn-free, Dairy-free, Nut-Free, Peanut-free, Soy-free. I did not buy any on this trip. They are a little expensive, but I will give them a try at some point. Check out their web site.
Over all it was sucessful trip, although I spent more than I intended. When I find something new I just can't resist.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Tomorrow I take C. in for a food challenge to oat and peas. I need to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (with gluten free oats.) I should be doing that now, but the health food store left my safe chocolate chips out of the bag! UGH - I was ready to cry when I discovered that. C. is sleeping now so I have to wait to go back and get them. In between swimming lessons, swim team practice for my oldest and my physical therapy. I know I will not be baking these until 9:00 tonight.
Anyway here is my question for you daring bakers out there. There are so many ways to replace eggs (applesauce, flax seed, Ener G egg replacer etc.) What works best when? Is there a cheat sheet out there somewhere? I have also read more than once that when using the Ener G egg replacer it is better to double the powder used. I also was going to buy a safe brownie mix that called for 4 eggs. I hesitated because I thought when replacing that many eggs there is no way it would come out right. Someone at the health food store suggested using purred prunes. For a $10 box of brownies I was not willing to take a chance. It is a little confusing for us non bakers. I would love any help!!
Monday, June 9, 2008
Well, last Wednesday we had severe thunderstorms with extremely high winds, and at least 3 tornadoes in the area. Now they were not huge, like you see in the mid west, but in Virginia they do not have to be, to cause a panic. I was in a restaurant when people started getting text alerts that the schools were going to hold the kids until the storms passed through. This was fine with me, that last thing we need is a bunch of school buses on the road with tornadoes in the area.
The high drama was over in about 20 minutes, and the buses showed up about 45 minutes later. In the meantime, we had lost power in our neighborhood. Usually this does not concern me at all. Our power outages are normally short so I do not worry about the food in my freezer or the lack of AC. Businesses in the area still had power so we were able to pick up some burgers and wings for dinner. However, poor Collin's food all needs to be reheated or cooked, so he has to make due with cereal.
We were so not prepared to be without power. It was not until it started to become dark that we thought we should look for some flashlights - we found a couple with enough battery power to last a while. I knew from reading Allergy Mom's blog that if I did not open the refrigerator and freezer, my food would last until morning at least. When morning came with no power I though I should get some supplies.
I spent the morning gathering up some non perishable food, ice, an extra cooler and some underwear (I was already behind on laundry.) I figured that if I did all this, then the power would come back, and I would not need it. No such luck. I emptied the ice maker so it would not leak all over the freezer as the ice started to melt. I had to throw away the ice cream and a couple other soft things, but the meats and hard frozen items were still frozen.
After lunch it was starting to get a little hot (this was the first day we had over 90). We decided to head over to a friends house who still had power and AC. As I was literally walking out the door I heard a click and the power came back on! Yeah!
Overall it was not really that bad at all - it could have been so much worse. It just set me back a couple of days - I still have some catching up to do around the house.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the flaw in this case is that fortunately her child did not suffer a reaction or worse. It is sad to say, but it will probably take a tragedy for the airline industry to really step up and take notice. I have not flown with my children yet, but when I do I will do my research and be very selective on the airline I choose. I have heard that Jet Blue is great to work with.
I also took a few minutes to scroll through the comments following this article. I have to say that I was shocked and saddened by how flat out mean and inconsiderate a lot of the comments were. The comments being flung about were just hateful. People really think that we are going to ruin their lives by requesting that they go a few hours without a peanut! I know most of this stems from ignorance, but I can not help but get mad at how insensitive people are to others situations.
I want to make it clear – I am not looking to go around banning foods. I am not even convinced that we should ban peanuts from schools. I am trying to teach my kids that they need to learn to take care of themselves in a world where they are surrounded by allergens. This includes surrounding themselves with a supportive network of friends, family members, teachers and colleagues.
But what has happened to being tolerant and compassionate? I have never really understood what motivates a person to be so hateful. What else can we do to communicate the dangers of food allergies without creating barriers?
If you want to raise your blood pressure a few notches – check it out. If not , just take this entry as a reminder that our society is self centered and most people do not give a lick about anyone but themselves. The best thing that we, as allergy moms, can do is stick together to help each other out.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Looking back I think I have been a little too liberal in allowing him to have some baked goods. He has never had never suspicious cookies or brownies ,as they often can hide nuts. But I let him have birthday cake and sugar cookies. I guess we are lucky we have not had any accidents.
After my baby was diagnosed with number of allergies I started to really educate myself. When R. turned 4 I decided to have a check up with the allergist and get a RAST test. That is when we found out that his peanut allergy is a 99.8 . The only problem is that I have no previous test to compare. I wish I had - so I would know if it is the same or has gotten worse.
I would advise anyone to get the RAST test done in addition to the scratch test. It is a good way to track the progression of their allergy from year to year. This information will not necessarily tell you what will happen if there is an accidental exposure. Every child is different and reactions can vary each time. We need to be prepared for everything from eczema and hives to full blown anaphylaxis.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Anyway - will you indulge me while a whine a minute? It is Friday about 5:30 and I really do not feel like dealing with dinner. Husband will be late tonight and all I want to do is take the kids out for a quick bite. Not so simple when you have 8 food allergies to deal with. I can work around the peanut allergy OK. But little C. with the other 8 is a challenge. I would have to fix his food and take it with us. Kind of defeats the purpose - right? I would really love just to pick up and go out to eat without thinking about it! Monday morning we went to the park and I saw another mom who had picked up McDonald's for a group of kids. How I wished I could have done the same. We are not big junk food eaters, but it would be nice to have that option once in a while. Some people do not appreciate what a luxury it is to be able to take your family out for a meal. Don't get me wrong - I normally have no problem handling our allergies. I am blessed that we are all in good health (other than the allergies). BUT - some days I just long to be able to go out for a care free meal. I am sure some of you have the same sentiments?
OK - I am done - I feel better - Thanks for listening!
BTW - the big kids had chicken nuggets, oodles of noodles and fruit. Little kid had an Enjoy Life Foods bagel and tomatoes. He is not eating much these days.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
foods made with yeast
pickled or smoked meats and fish
raw vegetables and fruits
Has anyone else heard about this?
Our food allergic children have higher levels of IgE antibodies, which cause them to have allergic reactions to certain foods. It seems reasonable to me that if the mother has increased IgE levels, regardless of the cause, that she could pass it into her infant.
I found this theory very interesting and started thinking about my own experiences. I thought about the differences in my three pregnancies and the allergies in my three children. We do have allergy genes in my family, so we do have a predisposition for allergies.
My first pregnancy was normal. I had an average amount of stress for someone expecting their first child. I loved being pregnant and did not have any complications. My eldest K. had a mild milk allergy as an infant that was outgrown by the time she was two. She has no other food allergies. At the age of six she did develop environmental allergies to tree pollen, dust, mold, ragweed and cats. This has caused some complications with ear infections and a ruptured ear drum, but otherwise is manageable.
My second pregnancy was fairly normal. I would say that my stress level was higher. At work I had been promoted to a position with more responsibility. This also required more travel. My husband's company was also going through some changes. This left his employment future a little uncertain. With one child and another on the way, unemployment is that last thing you need to worry about. Thankfully everything eventually worked out for him. Many of you know, being pregnant with a toddler at home is more challenging that your first pregnancy. You can not sleep after work or on the weekends like before. My middle boy R. is highly allergic to peanuts. At the age of 4, he also developed environmental allergies to dust, tree pollen, cats, and ragweed.
My third pregnancy was my most stressful. I had been promoted at work again, I loved my new position, but it was more responsibility, travel and stress. I also had a new boss, whom I liked a lot, but made my head spin! I really think she had some ADD issues. It was non stop go go go. I was due at the end of September and the summer was always our busiest most stressful time of the year. After a very difficult 2 weeks and working many extra hours, I went into pre term labor at 32 weeks. It was intense and scary – I really did not know if they would be able to stop it. Fortunately modern medicine was able to buy me some time. I was immediately put on bed rest and had to take medication every 4 hours to keep from having contractions. Since there were a couple of projects I had not finished, I continued to do a little work from home. At 36 weeks the doctor said it was safe to deliver and I could stop taking my medication if I wanted. Since we had family coming to visit I thought it would be a perfect time to deliver, so I stopped the meds. My baby boy was born 3 days later! C. is allergic to wheat, egg, peanut, tree nut, peas, banana, sesame, and coconut. This spring he developed environmental allergies to tree pollen, grass, ragweed, mold, and dogs.
If you take a look at my experiences and compare it to this new theory, perhaps they could be on to something. It is hard to say for sure – there are many variables. This is not to discount other theories, including the hygiene theory, which also seems very logical to me. Who knows if they will ever definitively determine the cause of food allergies? I am just glad that there are doctors out there looking for answers.
I do not think I could have done anything differently to reduce my stress. Sometimes the circumstances just are what they are. Stress is a hard thing to control these days. Especially with how busy we are trying to have it all and do it all. There are a myriad of reasons that stress is not good for us. We all need to do whatever we can to take care of ourselves – mind, body and spirit.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
There was a part of me that looked forward to the allergist visit. I knew that the actual test would be difficult, but I was eager for some good news. I am a very practical person, so I knew better than to expect that C. would have out grown any of his 7 (oops I mean 8) allergies. (I always forget coconut.)But there was a part of me that would love to be able to have ONE food back – is it too much to hope for? I know his wheat allergy is too high from last year, for him to have outgrown that. But, perhaps he would outgrow the egg??? It sure would make a world of difference in baking!
The first good news, the asthma that he experienced two weeks earlier was much better. Now for the fun part, enter the nurse with the needles. Now, the last time C. had skin pricks, he was 6 months old and did not know what was coming. At 2 ½ he is wiser and stronger. I am already struggling to keep him in the room – I have no idea how I am going to hold him still for the 2 dozen or so needles that need to be administered. C. had been coloring in a book quite happily, and put up a big protest when I tried to pick him up for the test. The nurse then called for reinforcements. Next, he really surprised me! I was able to get him to sit on the table facing me in a way that would enable him to continue coloring while the nurse pricked his back. He actually sat still this way while the nurse gave him every needle. I was truly amazed! Once the hives began to develop and become itchy, he did get fussy. It was a bit of a battle to keep him from scratching his back. I can not blame him; huge welts were beginning to develop. His entire back was enflamed! Poor guy – I did not think to take a picture to show his dad. We wandered around the offices a bit and played a stacking game with the basket of stickers to pass the time.
And the verdict – still allergic to wheat, egg, peanut, tree nut, banana, sesame, and. After we follow through with that RAST we may challenge him on the pea and coconut which showed slight reactions. Now we add the environmental allergies – trees (really big welts), grass, ragweed, mold and dogs. We will continue with the breathing treatments and put him on Claritin right away. I have to say that I really like my allergist. She is new to the practice, but we clicked. She really took the time to answer all my questions, which was great. The bad news – she is relocating out of state this summer. Mental note – get RAST done quickly and schedule appointments for R. and K. before she leaves.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Nancy and Chef Rick Tarantino specialize in developing recipes that are free of milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, and shellfish. I especially love that Nancy and Chef Tarantino also make a gluten free version of all their recipes. I am most excited to try the Meyer Lemon Squares (yum) and Chipotle Chicken Wings. My little allergy guy probably won’t touch it, but the rest of the family can enjoy. We can at least offer it to him.
If you get a chance check it out!
Monday, May 12, 2008
The first was the Ginger Spice Cake Mix. Since C. is allergic to banana I have wanted to bake applesauce bread for him. I mixed the following:
· 1 cup buttermilk
· 1/3 cup vegetable oil
Added the dry mix and then folded in ¼ cup of applesauce, in place of the egg. I baked these in mini muffin pans instead of a loaf pan for 15 – 17 min. I find mini muffins to be more convenient for the kids and easy to freeze.
I have to say that they were really good! The whole family loved them. J You would never know that they did not have wheat and eggs. This will be a great treat to bring to preschool next year. They would also make a great cupcake - perhaps with cream cheese frosting. They are pretty sweet, so I think next time I will try unsweetened applesauce.
I was feeling really good about my results with the muffins, so I thought I would try the Sandwich Bread mix. I have hesitated in the past as we can not use egg, and the recipe calls for 2 eggs. I have been unsure if you can use egg replace in yeast bread. I finally just decided to give it a try. I mixed the bread according to the directions for the oven method. I used Ener-G egg replacer in place of the egg. I have heard from 2 different sources that this egg replace works best when you use double the amount of powder for water. So, to replace 2 eggs I used 6 tsp of egg replacer whisked with 2 tbsp warm water.
I let the bread rise for 40 min – it did not seem to rise as high as I would have thought. I am not sure if this has to do with the egg substitute or not. I decided to bake it anyway. I would say that this bread is pretty good. It is a little dense, buy fairly moist and good flavor. My kids enjoyed it toasted with soy nut butter. I will try using it to make a grilled cheese sandwich tomorrow. This bread is not as dry as the pre made brown rice bread that I usually buy, that is pretty terrible.
Does anyone out there know how to make good sandwich bread without wheat and egg?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
I had detected a pattern where he would develop a cough, runny nose and rub his eyes every time we played outside. I consciously kept him off any allergy medication for a week before the appointment in preparation for the scratch tests. The day of his appointment his coughing seemed a little worse than usual. At nap time he was really fussy and started to wheeze a little bit. At one point I considered taking him straight to the pediatrician instead of waiting for our 4:00 allergist appointment.
I gave up on the nap and was able to get him to calm down with some books and a video. His breathing got a bit better, so we settled in to wait for the allergist appointment. Anyone with allergic kids knows that developing asthma is a possibility, so that is the thought running through my mind. I just thought it would not happen at 2 ½.
Shortly after we got to the allergist his breathing worsened as we waited in the exam room. The allergist came in checked his breathing and said that she wanted to give his a nebulizer treatment before we went any further. Since C. has never had a breathing treatment, he was not happy about it! I had to hold him close and wrap my legs around him to keep him from kicking. All the while I am also trying to hold the mask on his face. As he screamed his lungs out I just tried to reassure him that he was ok. I told myself that the crying was good – the deep breaths would help get the Albuterol deep into his lungs. The nurse, was very nice, but did not stick around to watch – or even help as I balanced this chaos. In contrast, the nurses at the pediatrician’s office are great in assisting to administer medication or draw blood.
Finally when it was over and we were both dripping with sweat the doctor came back. She checks his breathing, which was much improved. She also said that given how constricted his breathing was, we would not be doing any scratch tests today. So, now we are on Pulmicort once a day and Albuterol as needed for coughing and wheezing. I only needed to give C. the Albuterol for 3 days. He is doing much better and we are gearing up for the scratch test next week. He has learned to sit still for his breathing treatments – it helps that I let him watch Tom & Jerry.
I guess I have a little research to do on asthma.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
My daughter came home from school the other day and mentioned that there had been a birthday on the class. I asked her if she had had cupcakes. (K. has no food allergies, so I was not worried.) She told me that instead the mom had come for lunch and served the class fruit with whipped cream. What a great idea! If milk is a concern you could easily substitute non dairy whipped topping. My kids personally love strawberries with cream or vanilla yogurt for desert. K. said that everyone in the class liked it, and no one mentioned anything about cupcakes.
Is it possible that the cupcake issue is a bigger deal for the parents than the kids? My daughter’s class did not seem to miss the cupcakes. I have also thought about sending in a little goody bag with a few trinkets from the party store. Kids love cheap junk! The party favors are always the toys that cause the most arguments at my house. And – I promise you my 4 year old son’s all time favorite toys are the 30 cent pirate cake toppers we got at the party store.
I also heard from another mom who takes in sugar free popsicles for her son’s birthday.
What do you do to celebrate birthdays at school?
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
So, since next week is Food Allergy Awareness Week and I have decided to mark it by planning all the meals to be free of all C.’s allergens. Now, the hardest part is going to be planning a week of meals at once. I truly am terrible about planning our meals ahead. I read about moms who plan their food for the week, shop and are all set. I have tried to do this, but it never seems to work out. On most days 4:00 rolls abound and I wander into the kitchen so see what I can throw together. It is a disaster.
I really hate the dinner hour. Getting dinner on the table with 3 kids under foot and fending off requests for last minute snacks is a huge challenge. Then, when we do get to the table, I am barraged with whining about how they do not want what I have prepared. This is followed by constant pleas, by me, for them sit still and eat. I also remind them that if they leave the table without finishing, then that must mean they are full and the kitchen is closed. They do not need to eat everything on their plate, but they can not ask for snacks if they did not eat their dinner.
Now enter into the equation that fact that 2 year old C. is VERY picky and not all that interested in food. He spends dinner time begging for “more milk.” Until he realizes that he is not getting it, and goes off to play with trains. I am lucky if he has eaten a few blueberries and a cherry tomato. I just look at my husband and wonder how do other people do it – what are we missing?
I know I have my work cut out for me, but I do not think it is too much to ask my family to sit down and eat one meal together. I think it would be good for us. Eating allergen free might give us all an appreciation for what those with foods allergies go through. In the meantime I would love to hear any meal time tips or tricks that work for you! I clearly need the help.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I know when we were first diagnosed with food allergies I looked up the ingredients for the french fries, and they were safe. That was about 2 years ago. I am not sure when they made this change I am just glad I caught it. When managing kids with food allergies you can never be too safe. This is just good a reminder that manufacturers do change their ingredients. It is a good idea to re check the ingredients of foods, even if it has previously been considered a "safe" food for your child.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
All my preparation and stress was probably over kill, but I will do it again the next time. Aunt J. loved the way I labeled all the food in the pantry. I also cleared out a basket and filled it with safe snacks that everyone would enjoy, Pirate Booty, Cool Ranch Doritos, and Potato chips. I just wanted to make things as simple as possible.
In advance I made some chicken and rice soup that everyone could eat. I also planned a taco dinner on Sat night since it is safe for everyone and my kids love it. I made some Popsicles and had them available in the freezer for a treat. I also bought some Cherrybrook Kitchens cookie mix in case they needed and activity.
I posted all the pertinent allergy information on the refrigerator:
- a list of allergies for each child
- a chart for medications they needed to take and when
- emergency contacts,
- Epi pen instructions
- a menu and list of snack ideas.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
This post has nothing to do with allergies, but I thought I would share anyway. This all started with my cleaning my pantry so I could label what food was safe for Collin to eat; now I have cleaned off my counter top. The space was formally used as a dumping ground for papers, schoolwork, mail, catalogs you name it. Now it neatly accommodates all my clutter!
I found that magazine files are great for coloring books, note pads, and worksheets. I bought one for each child. Now if they want to do an activity, they know where they can find it and where they can put it back when they are done. It is a beautiful thing!
The file box on the left is for all my miscellaneous papers. I have labeled my files to organize; bills to pay, school papers and reminders for each child and each school, recipes from magazines, a separate folder for allergen free recipes, coupons, things to do, kids activities and summer camp info. I also have separate files to sort articles from magazines - gardening, kid’s crafts, health and wellness, decorating etc. It is great – I have a place to file everything daily, and it is close by when I need something.
I do not want to mislead you - I do not actually do all theses things - I just keep the information organized. I am ever hopeful that I will find the time and the motivation to garden, cook and decorate my house.
On the right I found a little bin for our cell phones, i pods and sunglasses. This contains their cords too! The little stripe boxes contain markers and crayons. They are so cute and were such a good deal at our local Pottery Barn outlet that I had to get some more to hold receipts.
This has been fun and I love how clean it looks. Perhaps I will tackle my corner cupboard with the dreadful lazy susan.
One more confession - I do use a label maker. I have terrible handwriting and I like it to look neat :)
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I ordered the Pantry Partner Stickers from FAAN. They are green and red stickers that you use to label your food - what is safe and what is not. Green is for go - that food is safe, red is for stop - that food is not safe. The stickers are good quality so that when you have a new box of cereal you can peel it off and reuse it again.
My 4 year old loved to help label the food that was safe for his younger brother. It was a great opportunity to clean out my pantry as well. Now it is easy for anyone to tell what snack food is safe for Collin.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I commend the school board for their interest in becoming educated on food allergies, and taking steps to formally discuss what policies could be adopted to help keep our children safe. I have previously had the opportunity to meet several nurses from out local schools. During these brief conversations I was pleased to learn that they have taken the initiative to put procedures in place to help food allergic children in school. They encourage an open dialog between the parents, educators and school medical staff to develop a plan that will work for each child. As parents we have the choice of where we want to store the Epi pen, where we want our child to sit during lunch and how we want to handle class parties.
Regardless of weather your school has a formal food allergy policy in place, keeping your child safe is about building relationships. Positive relationships with teachers, nurses, friends and other parents that foster open communication. A supportive circle of friends, family and teachers will help keep our children safe. We need to advocate for our children in a positive helpful way. We know more about our child’s food allergies and their reaction than anyone else. It is our job to communicate that information effectively.
It strikes me that another major component should be fostering awareness and sensitivity among non allergic students and parents. We have all read about the case in Kentucky where a school bully put a child at risk when a peanut laced cookie was sprinkled on his lunch. Fortunately this story did not have a tragic ending. The child accused of the bullying is facing some very serious consequences. There are so many people that do not understand how serious food allergies are. Did this child really understand that his actions put another’s life at risk? How do we raise our children to be compassionate and sensitive to those who may be different? This is an issue that transcends food allergies.
Our school district has regular school assemblies. I heard a suggestion that perhaps one of the assemblies could address food allergies. FAAN even has books and videos geared toward kids to educate them on food allergies. Perhaps we could benefit from the same kind of sensitivity training used to foster acceptance of other differences, applied to food allergies.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thursday we followed through with her ENT to see how it was progressing. Unfortunately the hole is still there and is going to require surgery to patch it. If we do not take care of the hole it could cause more infections and increased hearing loss. It is an outpatient surgery and is not invasive. She had tube put in when she was 1, so we know she can tolerate anesthesia. Kids are resilient so I am not too worried (yet.) One of the toughest things is that she can not play any sports or participate in PE for 4-6 weeks after. Since summer is approaching along with swim team, we have decided wait until August do have the surgery done.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I have been scouring the internet in search for alternatives to the bulky chain bracelets. I guess the best bracelets I have found are the nylon bands with a metal buckle piece that slide on it. I am not sure I can fit all seven of his allergies on the metal along with our emergency contact information on that particular style.
Do any of you have medic alert bracelets for food allergies? Where did you get it and what information did you have printed on it?
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Now we have a situation where we have been invited to a wedding 4 hours away. My husband really wants to go, but I am having a hard time leaving my children over night. We have made arrangements for his Aunt and Uncle to come stay for the night. I feel like it is a huge responsibility for anyone to agree to take care of feeding our kids with all the allergies we have. I have a plan for organizing all the food and leaving detailed instructions, medical forms etc. I just hope it is enough to ease my mind so I can relax and perhaps have a little fun!
They visit us frequently and know our children very well. Our kids adore them and will have a blast while we are gone. I am very grateful that they have agreed to make the seven hour drive to stay with us. I guess it is hard to leave your kids with anyone else.
How do you all manage leaving your children with someone else?
Friday, April 18, 2008
When he was first diagnosed with allergies to wheat, egg, sesame, nut, pea and banana I was a little overwhelmed. I found a handful of foods that were safe and stuck with them. Now, that I am more educated and can offer him different choices, he is not interested. In addition, he is getting tired of his current staples of chicken, grilled cheese and fish sticks. This leaves little else for him to eat. When a new food is introduced he softly says “no thank you” and pushes the food away. If I persist he replies, in his most forceful 2 year old way, “NOOOO!” In preparation for preschool in the fall I have been trying to teach Collin about his allergies. He points to certain things and says he is allergic. He knows if he eats it, he will get sick and have to go to the hospital. However, sometimes when I want him to try a new food, he will say “I allergic.” Great!
At first I tried not to worry too much. I hear stories of some toddlers only eating brown foods. I would feed him what I could, give him a multi vitamin and move on. He is a little smaller than my other 2, but has always met the benchmarks for development. On the days when he leaves the table without eating a bite, I tell myself that when he is hungry, he will eat. When he finally is hungry, he cries for milk. If I am lucky he will eat some cereal. I also recently introduced PediaSure, which he calls “bear milk.” I mix it with regular milk so he will not get used to drinking milk that is sweet. He likes it, and on days that his eating is poor I give him some and know that he is getting some added nutrients.
As you will come to know – sometimes I bend over backward to make something that the whole family will eat, and is safe for Collin. It usually backfires. It is either truly terrible, or the kids do not like it.
I am somewhat relieved that he does not try to take “unsafe” food from other people. My middle son was always grabbing food off of any plate he could reach. Could his picky habit be some sort of self defense mechanism?
I guess the question would be now that I have created this situation, how do I fix it? I am sure some of you have been there, so any feedback would be appreciated.
Oh Yeah – the reason I have a renewed urgency to get him to eat better stems from a recent episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8. She had a nutritionist come help her cook a meal. They cooked a very healthy meal full of vegetables. Every one of her 8 kids ate the food without complaining and even said they loved it! I love the show, but that really got to me. I am sure you will hear more on this topic later.