Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween & What Not

The hubby and I just got back from our short little getaway to Newport. We had an amazing time. Cormac had a wonderful time with his grandparents here at home. I can't believe what a difference traveling without him is. Specifically the food issue. It's become such a part of our every day lives that it was hard to turn off the worry when eating out, but we managed. I have to say I am so guilty. Every chance I had, I ate something with nuts or peanuts in it. It was almost comical. I really enjoyed a chocolate chip pie that had walnuts in it. Since it's been so long since I had them, I had asked the waitress after finishing the dessert if they were indeed walnuts. Her face turned as white as a ghost! Poor thing, she thought I had an allergy and started to panic. I quickly assured her there was nothing to worry about, and that I was just so happy to have the nuts. I know sounds crazy.

When we got home we had to get right back into the swing of things. One of those things on my to do list was, to make a treat for Cormac's first school Halloween party. We go to a Mommy & Me class once a week. It's more like a pre preschool. We do a craft, have story time, and play games. All the kids are within 2 months of age with each other. The other moms are really nice too. When the sign up sheet went up for who would bring what to the parties I jumped on the snack assignment, and my good friend signed up for the next party snack. What a relief that was. That's 2 parties where he gets to have the same snack as the other kids. Though I think the other moms in this class understand. They ask me lots of questions about his allergy.

Ok so I made cup cakes. These are my first Halloween cupcakes. They aren't the best, but I think they came out ok. I have a feeling over the years I will get better at them.
I used all Betty Crocker products since I only had to worry about the peanut and tree nut allergy. Mac is the only one in the class with food allergies. The kids loved them, and the moms seemed to like them too. FYI when you use black frosting it leaves a mess on their face. I didn't get a good photo of Mac without the other kids so I can't post it. But take my word for it, because their faces were all covered in black icing.

We are gearing up for more Halloween festivities. There will be 2 days of trick or treating in my town. Tomorrow the town hosts a trick or treat event in downtown where all the kids get dressed up and go from store to store. We are going to attend with friends but may skip the store to store part and just hang out. Then of course is Halloween day trick or treating. We are going to attempt that too. This is our first time, but I don't think it's going to be a big deal since he's still little. I will carry some safe candy so if he get the urge to eat something, I'll be prepared with candy in the "safe" bag.

The candy we give out will be safe for Mac. I bought 2 bags of tootsie pop and rolls candy. I was going to try and get some fun little plastic toys or glow sticks to give out instead, but haven't had the chance to get them. I may also give some safe candy to the neighbors to give him so he can still have something. Here is a link to a list of safe peanut and tree nut free candy (and remember to still check the ingredients before eating or giving to a food allergic person). A few people sent me this specific link (thanks guys). Just google and you can find all kinds of safe candy lists. When he gets older my plan is to weed out the bad candy and trade it for a toy or something. Fortunately this year we won't have to do that. Jim and I will just bring it to work.

Since this is a hot topic right now there are tons of blog posts out there with tips for an allergy safe Halloween. Check out some of them that I have listed on the right of this post.

I hope you all enjoy and have a Happy & Safe Halloween!


Friday, October 22, 2010

I've been slacking!

I know it's been over a week without a new post. It's just been hectic. I have a lovely cold and I'm just plain tired! Fall is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month. We've been trying to do a lot, but this month has had us down for the count so far. Cormac has been sick twice as well as myself with four different things.

With what little free time I have, I've been trying to find a safe food coloring. Yep you heard me food coloring. With the holiday's upon us and treats everywhere, it times to start researching. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about food coloring until a friend asked which one was safe to make her sons birthday cake with. Cormac was going to be a guest at the party and they wanted him to be able to eat the cake (I have some great friends)! So the search started.

I've been e-mailing a few different companies and am still waiting for most to respond. The front runner looks like Betty Crocker, though I'm still waiting for a clarification from them. The actual company which makes Betty Crocker's food coloring and sprinkles is Signature Brands LLC. When I hear back from them I will update you. What they have told me so far is that the following products are NOT SAFE:

Marble Mixins (NOT SAFE)
Parlor Perfect (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate Fruit Flavored Decors (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate 26 OZ Rainbow Sprinkles - upc 52100 32626 (NOT SAFE)
Cake Mate 26 OZ Chocolate Sprinkles - upc 5210030247 (NOT SAFE)

Unfortunately Wilton is now on the no list for food coloring for us. They are made in a facility that has peanut nuts and tree nuts. I asked if they had dedicated lines that were peanut and tree nut free and they could not confirm. However they did say to call them while shopping and they could tell me about the specific product I am looking for. Here is the phone number if you want to check 1 800 794-5866. I did find them very helpful, quick to respond and forthcoming with the information. So in my book Wilton seems to be a responsible company.

I have other inquires out and will update with a full list. An amazing Baker friend of mine had made some calls too. I will be including those companies as well when I can get myself together. I know I'm behind on the Halloween topic but I hope to have my thoughts on it out soon. And yes we will be trick or treating!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Take Over Tuesday Guest Blogger Nicole: Schools and Food Allergy Awareness

Nicole Smith is the author of Allie the Allergic Elephant: A Children’s Story of Peanut Allergies and Cody the Allergic Cow: A Children’s Story of Milk Allergies and Chad the Allergic Chipmunk: A Children’s Story of Nut Allergies. She became interested in writing a children’s book on peanut allergies after discovering her son, Morgan, has life threatening peanut allergies.

Nicole was raised on several military bases, but has called Colorado Springs home for many years. She graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D. C. and went on to work in the field of finance for several years.

She and her husband, Bob, own Allergic Child Publishing Group, the publishing company for Allie, Cody and Chad.

Nicole served as Treasurer for the non-profit organization, Kids With Food Allergies, Inc. and has helped school districts across the United States manage food allergies and create safe environments for food allergic children.

In Colorado, Nicole was the driving force to get Senate Bill 09-226 introduced and passed into law requiring all school districts to have a policy to keep food allergic children safe at school. Two years of meeting with senators, representatives and board members of the department of education culminated in the bill being signed into law by Governor Bill Ritter during Food Allergy Awareness Week in 2009.

Nicole is currently serving on the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) Advocacy Steering Committee to help build a strong nationwide presence for the food allergy community in the public policy arena, and to actively seek to increase federal funding for food allergy research.

What can be done within your school district to raise awareness?

Some schools and school districts have yet to experience their first student with severe food allergies. Other schools have had tragedies of a child dying from a food allergic reaction. In each case, education and awareness is needed. You, being the parent of a food allergic child, are armed with the most important information about your child, allergic reactions and care that is needed. Make sure to share your child’s allergy information and reaction history with your child’s school and district officials. We have found that keeping our son’s allergy information secret is a recipe for disaster. We don’t want him to be known as ‘allergy boy’ but we also don’t want to withhold the information from the people who can help circumvent a reaction.

For those schools with experience with food allergic children, some feel they have all the information they need. The problem with this, we have found, is that not all parents live a life of vigilance around food allergies. For example, other parents may not have a problem with their child touching peanuts, and believe that a severe reaction can occur only if their child ingests the food. Schools can be complacent when the next allergic child enters school, and can’t understand why a different set of rules now apply.

We have found that participation in the school is vitally important. Participating in classroom volunteer projects, school parties and field trips allows you, the parent, to know how frequently food is being used in the classroom. It also gives you the opportunity to get to know the children and especially the teacher. Giving of your time to the school makes for a better partnership when you are asking for extra accommodations and allergy awareness for your child, regardless of whether the law is on our side!

Beyond the school, participation at the district level is even more important. Meeting the school district 504 officer will allow him/her to put a face with your child’s name. Gaining understanding of your school district’s process for creating accommodation plans allows you to get exactly what is needed for your child to be safe. Additionally, if you are willing to assist your school district to better understand food allergies, volunteer on district-wide committees and bring up the topic of food allergies.

I did exactly this several years ago, and was able to get a requirement added to the accreditation process for all schools in our district. The requirement is for every school to have training on 504 plans and health care plans and to receive training on how to respond to students undergoing an allergic reaction. It was a small step toward safety for all food allergic students.

In the spring of 2007, I participated in a Food Allergy Task Force for our school district along with 15 other parents, district administrators, principals, district school nurse and others to create guidelines for our school district’s severely food allergic children. This task force came about because so many parents were attempting to teach their individual school about food allergies and felt they were reinventing the wheel at each school. Some schools in the district had experience, while others had none. We wanted to create a standard set of guidelines and procedures for all schools in the district to follow so that a food allergic child enjoys awareness of food allergies and prevention of allergic reactions regardless of which school he/she attended. It was a tall order!

You can view these guidelines here.

You will see that peanuts and peanut products aren't served in the cafeterias of schools with peanut allergic students if the parents and principal request it. We don't ask other children to not bring in peanuts. Instead we create nut free zones at specific cafeteria tables. The monitoring of a "peanut ban" creates a nightmare for everyone, we felt, and is virtually impossible to guarantee.

We also agreed that while peanuts are a very serious allergy, there are students with equally severe allergies to milk, fish or many other foods. In fact, our school district of 21,000 students had 275 students with life threatening food allergies. It would be impossible to remove all the different foods from the schools without banning food entirely.

There are some school districts that have banned peanuts entirely such as Aspen School District in Colorado. Anaphylaxis can and has still occurred at schools such as this because a child ate a food he assumed was safe, yet other non-food allergic parents don't always completely understand the ingredient label.

We prefer “food allergy aware” to food bans in schools!

If you’d like more information about food allergies and schools, please visit

Nicole can be reached as follows:

425 W. Rockrimmon Blvd, Suite 202

Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Guest Blogger Disclaimer: The information shared by the guest blogger does not represent the opinions and policies of No Nuts For My Peanuts and it's creator. As always seek proper medical attention for any issues, medicine dosage's or questions you have regarding your health and allergies. Always read labels before eating or serving any food to anyone who has food allergies.


Family Happenings

We've had a really long week, and I can't believe a new one is starting. We had play dates, Mommy and Me class, got our flu shots, had our first trip to the dentist, and went pumpkin picking. We did all this with no naps! Seriously the kid has not taken a nap in 5 days! I'm not ready to have a no napping toddler.

At Mommy and Me class we are starting to talk about party food. This of course makes me nervous. But the school is peanut free so that helps I guess. I found the moms in the class to be understanding. We even started talking about safe foods and what brands have good labeling practices. I'm trying to come up with a list, but it so time consuming. Do you have favorite brands you buy because of good labeling policies? I like General Mills so far. I believe Frito Lay is good too, but I need to investigate that more.

After our Mommy & Me class, I noticed Mac had stepped in something. I figured dog poop, gross. Well it turned out to be a snickers! I'm serious, somewhere between our house and class he stepped on a snickers bar, peanuts and all! I'm just glad I found it. Cormac likes to pick out his own shoes now, and his red Converse are his favorite. So I scrubbed them down. But what if I missed it and he got a hold of them? I'm not freaking out or anything, it just reminded that peanuts show up in the most unexpected places.

The flu shot didn't go so well. He did great getting the shot, but got a nasty fever for a few days. He seems to be back to normal. We took him to get some pumpkins and see some animals and he wasn't too happy. He wasn't feeling 100% yet. So I guess we will make another trip. Momma needs some good photos!

I wasn't at the dentist appointment and it's one first I'm happy to miss. He did well, just got a check up. There was a problem with insurance (shocker), so there was that to deal with. I hope this week is calmer. He has a birthday party today and another on Saturday. Today's party is at a little boys house who also has a peanut allergy. There will another kid there with a milk allergy. Both parents are coworkers of my husband. How crazy is it that 3 kids in this group of friends have food allergies. It's not like we met though a group or anything. Anyway, this kid has more of a social life than us!

This Tuesday is Takeover Tuesday! Our Guest Blogger is Nicole from The Allergic Child. She is also Morgan's mom (last months amazing Guest Blogger). Be sure to check it out. She has some good info. to share.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just a quick note.

If you haven't already seen it on facebook, I'll post it here! One of the interviews I did on Saturday at the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy made the PATCH New Rochelle Article, and so did a photo of our team walking! I was quoted and a link to my blog was added. Also an excerpt from one of my posts made in there too. I know it's only local but we're really excited!


Monday, October 4, 2010

What's Next?

I am so proud to say that our team of family and friends raised over $1,900.00 for the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. That's $400.00 more than we had hoped for. This was the first fundraising walk I ever did, and I feel like we made a difference. We were 13 people in a group of 1500. That's a lot of people making a difference. Now I'm thinking, what's next?

I have a couple ideas that I am playing around with. The first one is a food allergy support group here in Rockland County, NY. There may already be one, but I haven't found it yet. I was lucky enough to briefly talk with one of the organizers of a Westchester group. I have her contact info. so I hope she's ready for me to ask a million and one questions. I also spoke with the staff at Cormac's Dr.'s office, and they think it would be a great idea, and gave me some helpful tips and are already spreading the word! Free PR how great is that.

I want to create a place for parents like me to meet other parents to learn from and support each other. Make lists of local restaurants willing to work with people who have food allergies. Find out how to deal with schools to keep our kids safe but also keep the community happy. Basically I want to create a resource for people who have food allergies in Rockland County. I would also like to set up safe play dates for the kids and let them know they are not the only one with these challenges. So if you live in the Rockland County area and are interested please e-mail me at I have no idea how to do this but am willing to try.

The other thing I want to mention today is what you can do in your community. Start small and simple. I was at the grocery store today and asked the manager if they carried the Enjoy Life products. They have products that are safe for people who are allergic to the most common allergens. For many people, these are some of the only packaged foods they can have due to a variety of allergies. When I asked her, we went to the computer to see if they had any, and of course they didn't have them. She asked me why I was interested. After explaining about kids and food allergies, and that we have to travel to other stores or order these products online, she offered to look into getting some in our store. I was grateful, but wasn't sure if she was serious. I thanked her and continued my shopping.

I ran into her again and she told me she had already e-mail their grocer to find out what they could get in the store. I was thrilled! She said to check in with her to see what happens. I think they will stock something there. They stock a bunch of specialty Irish items that you can't find in other places (we live in a large Irish community with strong ties to Ireland). If there are enough customers who know about and will buy these products, I think we may see them on the shelves.

So start small and ask your local grocery store to stock the allergy safe products you like. It helps to bring up other stores that have them, you know the competition. If they say no, nothing lost. If they say yes, well that makes your life better and easier.

If you have any ideas on how to make you community more food allergy aware, share here. One person can make a difference.


Saturday, October 2, 2010


Today was the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. We had an amzing time. I was really surprised how many people were there. It was nice to see and just be around some many people who understand. The kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and so did the parents. Here are just a few photos from today that I would like to share.

Team No Nuts For My Peanut
Me Cormac & Jim

And the walk begins!
Old Friends

New Friends Jack, Laura, Me & Mac

Divvies Chocolate Cookie Face (So Yummy)

Mac, Michelle & Mike



Friday, October 1, 2010

FAAN Walk Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is our first FAAN Food Allergy Walk. We are walking in Westchester New York. Our team of family and friends did a great job raising money. We met our team goal and a little more. I am so thankful and gratefully for all the support we have received. Cormac is truly loved, and that fills my heart.

If you live in the area and are not already walking come down and join in the family fun. There will be entertainment, vendors and activities for the kids. The Z100 Party Patrol bus will be there to get things started! Following the walk, Suzi Shelton a rising star in the children's music scene, will be performing her catchy and upbeat folk/pop-rock music. Groove Performing Arts, a family favorite in Westchester County, will perform songs from it's award-winning music program for kids, Music for Aardvarks. In addition to the free concerts, enjoy a fun-filled day of activities such as arts & crafts, obstacle course, jumpy castles, gaga court, raffle and more.

Well I'm off to get everything ready for tomorrow. The t-shirts are done ( I figured it out with your help of course), and our walking shoes are ready. I hope to see you there!

Thanks again for all your support!
Diane, Jim & Cormac