Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our family to yours.

I am so thankful for my two happy and healthy boys, food allergies and all. We face food challenges daily, but compared to what others have to face, I feel truly blessed.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

PS: I apologize for not keeping up. I don't know how these mom bloggers do it. Hats off to you ladies. You are more organized than I!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is a Peanut Free School?

So far so good. Mac has been in school for a month now and everything is going great. I check the snack every time before class, and he comes with me to "help". Now he even asks if it has peanuts in it as I read the ingredients. If it's not safe I tell him, and he's ok with having his own special snack. We've had one party and he had his own cupcake. Again he was fine with it. The funny thing is, the other kids want what he's having. The teacher is doing a great job teaching the kids not to share or take each others food. I love that she is turning his allergy into a teaching opportunity. That's a good teacher.

So what is a Peanut free school I ask? His school is peanut free, yet we've had to say no to a number of snacks. Mostly cookies. They get snacks that are processed on the same equipment or facility as peanuts or tree nuts. To me that's not peanut free, but to them it is.

I'm not asking them to change their policy, but did ask about it. The answer I got bothers me. I was told that it's just a disclaimer and that if they had to find snacks that didn't have this warning, the kids wouldn't have anything to eat. Um so why is there a huge bag of snacks for my kid in his classroom? There are tons of things for him to eat that are safe.

While it's true some companies put it on their products as a disclaimer, others don't. Again I'm not asking for a change. I just think they need to revise their peanut free statement. It creates a false sense of security. I know every parent has to make the choice of what is safe and not safe for their food allergic child. In our family shared equipment or facilities are not acceptable. He is still too young for us to take that chance especially when not with us. For other families theses things are ok. I'm not judging at all. It's each families choice.

Next month there are 7 birthdays in his class. I'm going to bake a batch of cupcakes and freeze them. This way I'm prepared!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First day of School!

The first day of School was a great success! We are really happy with the school, and his teacher. The snack was safe! We followed our food plan, and so did the teacher. I felt very comfortable leaving him in her care. I even brought a variety of snacks for the teacher to keep in her closet "just" in case.

We went over all his meds with the Director, and she asked some good questions. I love when people ask questions! I have to say I really like how they make me feel. I think we are very lucky this year.

There were no tears for mom, dad, or the little man. We are so proud of him. We are off to a good start for the school year! He is already asking to go back!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Addition!

So yes I've been totally neglecting my blog. I do apologize, but I have a good reason. As mentioned in past posts, I was preggers. In my last month I was not a happy camper. Being pregnant in August is no fun especially when you have a crazy toddler running wild! So I decided to spare you all complaining I would have done if I actually sat down to write.

Well after a quick and crazy labor of only 2 hours and 45 minutes from start to finish, Cormac became a big brother last month to baby Kieran! He is doing well with him. Not so much with mom and dad. He's decided to stop listening for the most part. Most of it is the fun terrible 2's and 3's, but some has to do with baby brother. So we are adjusting as best we can. We've gotten a lot of help from my mom. Thank God for Grandma's!

Big brother starts preschool next week! I can't believe it. We are really lucky that his teacher totally gets the food allergy world. Her teenage daughter actually has food allergies so she knows what to do in an emergency, and knows what is at stake (I wonder if she babysits). That makes me feel so much better. The school itself is great about it too. They have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable with sending him there. They also don't make me feel like a crazy over protective parent.

We have a food plan set up and I am happy with it. When we drop him off we have to approve the snack before we leave. If it's a no, she will give him a safe snack that I supplied already that she will keep in her closet. They are also going to let me keep 2 cupcakes in the freezer for the unexpected birthday. Otherwise I will get notice of parties and such. Two parents have already asked me about his allergies with concern for him. That was very nice too.

Fingers crossed things go well next week and the rest of the year. Diving into the school thing for the 1st time for an allergy parent is scary, but we have to do it at some point. I'm just glad we have an understanding teacher and director to work with.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Start Planning for the School Year & 504 Plans!

So far summer has been pretty uneventful this year. I'm 8 months pregnant and not enjoying the heat. I feel bad that my little guy isn't getting to do much this summer. Momma just can't stand the heat!

I know this sounds crazy, but summer is half way done! For those of you sending your kids off to school in the fall, it's time to get your 504 plan in place soon. FAAN has a good link explaining what the 504 plan is, and how to go about getting it in place. Basically, if your child suffers from a life threaten food allergy the government considers this as a hidden disability. The 504 plan is available under the federal civil rights laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is there to help you keep you child safe and set up accommodations with your public institution.

There also may be local resources available to help you with your 504, or written management plan. For instance, there is a nonprofit organization called Putnam and Westchester Living Centers here in NY. They provide services to parents with children with special needs (which includes life threatening food allergies). They have offered to come and do a workshop on 504 plans for the Food Allergy Families of Rockland support group I have co founded. I hope to get this set up soon as baby may be here soon, as well as the school year starting in about 6 to 8 weeks. Best of all their services are free of charge.

As Cormac isn't starting kindergarten for quite some time, I don't have any personal experience with setting up a 504 plan. In the time being, I am anxious to learn as much as I can. He will be attending preschool in the fall, and since it is private they do not have to do a 504 plan. However, I've already spoken to them about his food allergies, and are set to meet before school starts to set up his accommodations and procedures and to meet with his teacher.

My advise is to start looking into what you need to do to keep your kiddo safe in school now. You may not be able to meet with the school just yet, but get yourself on their schedule before school starts. Talk with your Dr. about what they feel is the best plan of action for the upcoming school year. Have all your ducks in a row so you are prepared to do what you have to. The more information you have on what they have to and not have to do will be your best weapon.

If you have any experience with this, please feel free to comment here or on the No Nuts For My Peanut facebook page. I'm sure there are plenty of people beside me who would like to hear what your expediences are.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summertime Blues:(

My apologies for not keeping up with my blog. For some reason June is always a crazy month for me. Not one of my favorites. This year I have a touch of the summer time blues. While most people are excited to get out and about, I just want to hide. The good news is, I'm coming out of it!

So some might ask, "How can you be down in the beginning of the summer"? Well for me it's the overwhelming thoughts of all food challenges that summer brings. Add 7.5 month pregnant hormones, potty training, the terrible 2's, the heat, and there you have it folks. A very cranky momma.

What set me off this year is the Ice Cream Man. As a kid, I loved this summertime tradition. He rarely came down my block so it was extra special when he did. Where we live now he comes almost every night at dinnertime. That annoying song that loops over and over drive me nuts! He always stops right in front of out house without fail. Not just for a minute but for 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes another one comes a bit later.

We've tried to tell the little man that's it's the music truck, but he doesn't buy it. He sees what all the kids are eating. It just makes me so sad every time he sees the kids and their ice cream, and he can't have any. I keep some safe popsicles in the freezer, but that will only last so long. I know there has to be something he sells that is safe for him like a fruit bar or something. I just haven't figured it out yet. I'm not sure how receptive the Ice Cream Man will be to me standing there reading labels for a while without buying anything until I can double check with the company. I know there is a solution to this, I just have to get on it.

Parties and BB Q's are the another summertime downer for me. What once was a fun time, has turned into anxiety from hell. Gone are the days where I can sit and enjoy the party and watch my kid from a distance. Now I have to hoover. FYI helicopter parent is not my thing.

In addition, now that Mac understands that his food is different, it's so hard. He really wants what everyone else is having. He gets mad and upset when we tell him no, but just doesn't understand why. We've been talking to him about peanut and tree nuts and how they will make him sick. He repeats it all the time but doesn't quite get it yet. Again another thing that breaks my heart.

I hate having to pack a days worth of meals every time we go on an outing. Lugging it around and then he won't eat it! It's worse then when he was a baby and we had to bring baby food and bottles. I guess the good part is we don't spend the money and eat healthier right?

Well enough with the pity party for me. There are so many worse things out there to be down about. It really is time to stop feeling down. I have a happy and health child and am grateful for that. As I said I'm coming out if it. I'm keeping busy trying to start a new photography business (shameless plug I know, I'm on Facebook too), chasing a 2.5 year old asking if he needs to go pee every ten minutes, getting ready for the new baby, as well as trying to get the Food Allergy Families of Rockland support group growing. I need a drink! I can't wait till I can have a margarita on the rocks with no salt! August is seems so far with a caving like that.

Ok I'm done feeling sorry for myself!


Friday, May 20, 2011

What's Been Happening Here

I know I'm way behind on my blogging. I've got tons of excuses, but I will spare you the boring details. I should fill you in on our allergy news.

Wednesday night was the 1st meeting of out local food allergy support group. We had a small turn out but it was fun. We basically traded some stories and talked about how to make the group a success. It always surprises me when you have something in common with other people how easy it is to talk. You become comfortable with them quickly. I would suggest if you have a support group in your area, go to a meeting. It's great to feel like your not a crazy overprotective parent. A the bottom of this FAAN Page on support groups, you can find one near you. Or just do a google search for your area.

The next thing I want to tell you is how wonderful the NY Mets Peanut Control night was at Citi Field! We had such a fun time. Bringing a 2 year old to a baseball game is a lot by itself. Add his peanut and nut allergies, and insane is the word that comes to mind.

Having the peanut free suite was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. First you get to enter through the VIP entrance. You don't have to mix with the rest of the fans (their food in particular), or even pass any concession stands. The hallway to the suite is enclosed so no peanuts flying around.

Second, you don't have to just sit in your seats. There was an indoor suit as well as a balcony seats. You were free to roam between the two. This is perfect for our ants in the pants 2 year old. We were able to leave the suite and let him run and walk around without fear of peanuts all around. The hostess for the suite next to us even asked who the allergic kids were so she would keep an eye out if they wandered to that balcony. They didn't serve peanuts outside on their balcony either just in case.

Third, the food was catered and was peanut free. My only issue with the experience as a whole was their food options were slim. My son won't eat hot dogs or rice so french fries were his only option. I hope next time there will be some additional options. Since we are not allowed to bring our own food.

Fourth, Mr. Met came to visit. The kids LOVED this. Our little guy kept asking him, "what are you doing baseball?" They took photos, but of course my guy was too busy talking to him and wouldn't turn around.

We did go to a lower lever to buy a hat for him. The minute we stepped off the elevator I stared to panic. Daddy had to keep a tight hold on him and didn't put him down until we got to the store. I think until he is older, peanut free suites are the way to go. I know I would not enjoy the game in regular seats when bringing a peanut allergic kid. I do want to go back to Citi Field without the little guy so we can explore the new stadium. It's beautiful.

So if you get a chance and love baseball, I say spend the extra cash and go peanut free suite style. I can honestly say we had an amazing stress free experience. My son loved his first baseball game, and was talking about it for days. He even wore his hat to bed for a bunch of nights. So thanks NY Mets for a great first experience for this Food Allergy Family!

In other food allergy news, I received my 1st edition of Allergic Living Magazine. Now that its available here in the US, I suggest getting a subscription. It's a great resource and a good read. If you go to the FANN Discount page you can save $10.00 on your subscription.

Well I'm off to do the 100 other things I need to do.


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Year Gone By

Today is an anniversary for our family. It's not one we remember fondly, but it makes us thankful that we made it though without any major incidents (well since the first one that is). A year ago today our family entered the oh so fun world of severe food allergies.

This last week I've been really thinking about how our lives have changed. How my parenting style has changed. Our lives are more stressful, and I've become that helicopter mom at parties (not how I envisioned myself at all). In fact I dread parties now. I have bad dreams about him riding the bus and bullies. I also have arguments with strangers in my head when thinking about the future and the situations we may encounter. I've always been outraged about intolerance, but now it makes me weep when I know my child is the target.

However that is not all. I've become more tolerant and educated. I've come to appreciate our family and friends even more than before. Without their love, support, and acceptance of our situation, things would be much harder. I cry when someone goes out of their way to make my son feel safe and included. I've connected with other parents through this blog to get support and hopefully to give it. I've also met another local mom who is working with me as a co founder for a community support group Food Allergies Families of Rockland. So it's not all bad.

I don't think I even told you our story of how this all began. Since today is our anniversary, it's time I shared it with you. Let me start with that there was no family history with nut or peanut allergies that we knew of. Neither my husband nor myself have any food allergies. We were not told to wait till he was 2 years old since there was no history. When Cormac was about 14-15 months old we decided to try peanut butter. I waited until we had some Benedryl in the house just in case. It was a first time mom thing. I really didn't think he had allergies. I first tested it on his skin, again no real reason just did it that way. No reaction. So he had his first PB&J. Still no reaction. So I'm thinking we're all good. That year at Easter he had some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other chocolate candies. Again no reaction. Two more PB&J's later and all was still good.

So that's at least 4 times the kid had peanut butter without a reaction. Well #5 was the winner. A very good friend came over for a play date which we planned on having lunch. While I was getting our food ready she asked if Cormac could have a peanut butter cracker. I said yes, so she made him and her son some. When I come out of the kitchen she says I think his eyes look funny. I thought, oh he's just tired since it was very close to nap time. Within five minutes we knew it wasn't that he was tired. His eyes were swelling and swelling fast!

She said I think it's the peanut butter. I still was not convinced because he had had it at least 4 times already, and he hadn't even eaten any of it this time. Well we figured out he rubbed his eyes with his peanut butter coated hands.

Now we're getting really scared. His eyes were now swelled closed and the size of golf balls, and he was getting a bit lethargic. I gave him some Benedryl, started a bath and, called the Dr., as well as my husband who was luckily down at the library in town. The Dr was out so I called the emergency number. He called back fast, told me to give him more Benedryl and if his breathing started to get bad go to the ER. Luckily that didn't happen. The Benedryl seemed to calm things down pretty quickly.

Photo 1. taken 20 minutes after exposure. Photo's 2. and 3. taken 3 hours after exposure.

He was now able to open his eyes, but when he did I was totally freaked out! The whites of his eyes had swollen so much that they were starting to cover his iris's! They looked like someone put a ton of clear jelly like stuff in them.

He was no longer lethargic but was crying in pain. This however didn't last long thank God. The Dr called back to check on him 20 minutes after our first call. We updated him that Cormac seems to be improving. He again said to watch his breathing and call 911 if any hives appeared, his breathing changed, passed out, or started vomiting. None of that happened so we stayed home. It took over 24 hours for the swelling to go completely down.

I think back now and think why didn't I go to the hospital? Part of it was I didn't know what was happening. It didn't make any sense to me. Cormac was able to communicate to me the same as if he were ok. I had an experienced mom with me and then my husband who both kept me calm. At no point did I feel his life was in danger, but that was my inexperience with food allergies talking.

That's our story. I can't imagine what would of happened if he actually ate the peanut butter that day. Instead of his eyes swelling it could have been his throat, mouth or tongue which would have been much more serious. After seeing a pediatric allergist twice now, and living with this for a year, we have learned so much. The one thing that scares me the most is that his next reaction could be much worse. But if and when it happens you can bet we will be calling 911. When they say knowledge is power, it's true. The more you know about food allergies the better you can keep your kids safe.

Do I wish he didn't have food allergies? You bet! But when I think about all the other illness's or disabilities he could have, I am grateful that this is just it.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Girl Scout cookies! In fact I've already polished off two box's of Somoas alone, and have threatened the hubby to not touch what's left. As usual, I first checked the label and didn't see any warning on the ones we bought for peanuts or tree nuts. The Somoas do however say, "Contains, wheat, milk and soy". I figured that since they are only made once a year, it would be vague, or full of cross contamination warnings. Very doubtful, I went on their web site to find out about their allergen labeling policies.

According to the Girl Scout web site, the cookies are made by two different bakers, Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Smart Cookies. I bet you can imagine how excited I was that both companies do more than the minimum when it comes to their allergy warnings! Both state they practice in cautionary labeling for cross contamination. Even better was the information was easy to find in the FAQ section.

If only all companies would be as responsible with their labeling. I don't think they understand how loyal food allergy sufferers can be when they find an company that is responsible.

I am truly excited that my little man will get to eat one of my most favorite treats (if I share that is). It makes me proud that when I was a little girl I was in such a considerate and wonderful organization. Thank you Girl Scouts!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Always the same.

Finally beautiful weather to take the little guy to the park today. I was not the only parent with that idea. The park was buzzing with kids today and it felt so good. Our guy had a great time.

As usual I had his epipen on me. I didn't bring a bag so it was sticking out of my pocket a little. I think any mom with a child who suffers from food allergies can spot and epipen a mile away. That's what happened today and I'm glad.

This very nice mom to a beautiful little boy came up to me and asked if Mac had food allergies? I of course said yes and then laughed because I remember the epipen sticking out of my pocket. She said I have mine in my bag. We got to talking and comparing allergies.

Whenever I meet someone who has a child with food allergies they all same the same two things:
1. How it is such a life changing diagnosis.
2. How alone they felt when hearing those works your child has a life threatening allergy to...

The second one always make me so sad. Why is it that we feel so alone? There are over 12 million people estimated to have food allergies. I am meeting people all the time now who have to deal with them in their families or just know someone.

I am reminded once again that more research, education and awareness is needed. I told her about the support group Helen and I are starting and she was excited to hear about it. I hope she comes. This is the exact reason I wanted to do this. We need to be there for each other, and learn from each other. Most importantly we need to know we are not the only ones.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The NY Mets are stepping up to the plate!

Tuesday May 3rd. @7:10 pm
vs. San Francisco Giants

A while back I mentioned that the NY mets are going to have a peanut control night, but didn't have all the details. Well I heard from them and want to share. It's not a peanut free game, but there will be a peanut free suite, with a peanut free menu offered to the fans in the suite. The ticket price includes the food, beverages (non alcoholic), and the safety of the suite. It's pricey ($90.90 per person), and not the best time for kids to go to a game, but it's a start. The suite will also be power washed prior to the game to add to the safety.

During my original conversation with their rep, I was told that only 45 General Admission tickets (no assigned seats), will be available online only. I was also told if this is successful (meaning sold out or close to it), they will look into adding more peanut control games to the schedule.

I did mention that people with peanut allergies generally are allergic to other foods and hope that they will allow those individuals to bring their own with them. I do not know if that is something they will allow, so I suggest you call.

As I am a Met fan and the hubby is a Yankee fan, this has to be a success in order to sway the little man into the Mets camp. Here is the link again to the info.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hives twice in one week!

It's been a tiring week and a half so far. The little man has had a bad cold and cough accompanied by a fever 3 nights in a row that would spike at 4 pm each day. He would have no fever during the day but a 4 he would get a fever ranging for 102-103.2. It hasn't been fun for anyone. Lack of sleep is getting to both me and daddy. Jim just says Mac is prepping us for the new baby. Personally I'd like the next 5 months to get as much sleep as I can.

On top of that we had 2 incidents of hives in 6 days. Keep in mind hives have never been a symptom with Cormac. We only had one food allergy reaction to peanut butter and that was bad. Swollen eyes to the size of gold balls, as well as the whites of his eye swelling over the iris's. It looked like gel. Very scary and painful for him, but no hives.

Back to the hives. While Jim and I were at the big ultrasound finding Mac is going to have a little brother, he was at a play date. We totally trust the two moms (and still do), that were watching him. Both are well informed about his allergies and know what to do if something happens. Yeah for good friends!

Apparently the dog licked him around his eye. His eyes then got watery, red and itchy, and one or two hives appeared on his for head. They called us and told us what was happening. They wanted to give him benedryl like our action plan says to, but they weren't in a panic. Since Cormac has been around this dog and many others without incident, we weren't in a panic either but concerned. By the time we go there the benedryl cleared it all up and if they didn't call us we never would of know about it.

We talked about what he ate while there, and determined it wasn't the cause. So this led us to believe he's either allergic to the dog, or something the dog ate. I'm leaning toward the dog food, since he has been around this dog many times and never had an issue. But we aren't 100% on that.

Five days later we had two neighborhood parties to go to. Lets just say St. Patrick's day is HUGE here. Our little town boasts that we have the second largest St. paddy's Day parade in NY, just after the NYC parade. So there are parties everywhere. Both parties we were invited to are at houses we frequent and allergy aware.

At party #1, we knew ahead of time that the chicken nuggets were safe as well as some of the cupcakes made by another neighbor. She had called me the day before to tell me she made Mac safe cupcakes for both parties. As usual she told me what she used to make them. All safe.

Needless to say we let him have both. After about 10 minuets of him eating the cupcake his little face broke out in hives. My sister in-laws brought it to my attention as we were saying good by to out hosts. So this time I got a little panicked. I still haven't had this happen to him while I was there. Hives covered his chin and cheeks. One of the moms who was at the play date earlier in the week, was there and said this was much worse than what happened at the play date.

We gave him bebedryl, and in 10 minutes it cleared right up. Now there with a few other kids at the party that have peanut and tree nut allergies and didn't have a problem, with the cupcakes. Plus I know they were peanut and tree nut free. So for the last week I have been racking my brain as to what could have cause it. He only ate the frosting not even the cake. Since we feel so comfortable at this house, and were outside most of the time, I think both me and the hubby let our guard down. They were many people there who deal with his allergies often, and I think we took that for granted. There were many kids there and of course food everywhere. Maybe he got his sticky little hands on something when we weren't looking. I feel so bad. It could have been so much worse. Lesson learned. But at the same time, the unknown cause was still nagging me.

So this whole week I've been a bit obsessed. I called my cupcake making friend and asked her about the frosting ingredients again. The only thing I can question now is the egg whites. (which is not on his list of no no foods). Our friend is very diligent when it comes to Cormacs allergies, so I'm 100% sure it wasn't nuts or peanuts. He's always been able to eat things with eggs baked in it. We did have to stay way from straight eggs for a while because he would get splotchy, but he seemed to grow out of it, and we got the OK from the allergist to go ahead and bring them back. He hasn't had any issues with them since.

We never made it to the 2nd party, but managed to make it to the parade. I'm still very frustrated about not being able to pinpoint the cause of his hives. Like everything else with food allergies, I'm left with unanswered questions.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Lets talk positives: Littlescoops Ice Cream Parlor and More!!

After following the heartbreaking story of the little girl in Fl, I thought some positives were in order. This week was a very busy week for us. We had 2 birthday parties, received a phone call from the NY Mets, and, we found out today that Cormac is going to have a little brother! That's two crazy boys in my house. I can't wait.

Ok lets get to the details. The first birthday party was at an ice cream parlor called Littlescoops. Normally I would have been very scared to go to a party at and ice cream parlor, but not here. The host of the party is good friend and had asked all the food allergy questions I would have asked and more before even booking the party (thanks Willlie). She called me and I was floored about the response she got. The owner was very informed about food allergies and cross contamination. She even knew that M&M's are not safe for peanut allergic kids. The host and the owner decided to keep nuts out of the mix. How lucky are we that we have such great friends!

After hearing how great they were being, I had to call myself to confirm and ask some questions. The owner Michelle was great. Turns out her daughter suffers from tree nut allergies, so she had no problem with me asking so many questions, and even answered most of them before I had the chance to ask. I asked if we could bring our own toppings and she said bring what ever you need too. She told us vanilla soft serve ice cream was what was safest, told me the brand of chocolate syrup they used, and gladly gave me the name and number of the pizza place they get their pizza from. The pizza guys were just as nice. I wish I had their name for you.

Topping I brought with us: sprinkles, chocolate chips, crushed Oreo cookies, mini marshmallow's, teddy grams, and Sweetart Hearts.

Eating their pizza. How cute is this kid size counter!

To think I would never have even considered this as an option. We are adding Littlescoops to our b-day party venue list. They play games with them, danced, and the kids had a great time. Their website says they have other locations in NY, NJ and FL. Check them out. It's so rare to find a great FA friendly place.

Enjoying his ice cream before I could even put the toppings on it!

In our other positive news, The NY Mets will have a peanut free suite available for their May 3rd game again the Giants. The tickets will available online only. It will include a peanut free menu. I suggested that families be able to bring their own food for their allergic children if they have more than a peanut allergy. I hope that will be allowed. The suite will be power washed prior to the game as well. They will be sending me more details when the tickets are available for purchase. If it sells out, they will consider doing another game! I will update you as soon as I get the info.

Well that's all for now. Stay safe!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

What is wrong with people?

I really don't understand people. I had planned on writing a nice positive post about some great people and places we have been. Unfortunately the horrible ongoing going struggle about the 1st grade girl in Fl is haunting me.

I read the update this morning on The Allergic Kid and some other news reports (I commented on this one). Again I find myself in tears for this family. What baffles me even more is that there are other children in the school that have peanut allergies. Why are they targeting this one little girl? Why are they threatening her life over peanuts? Because their kids have to wash their hands. Really? Good hygiene practices (which they should be doing anyway), interfere with education, but class parties do not take time away from their studies. Why can't they have class parties without food? How is food a part of the learning experience?

As I said before, for 5 meals out of 21 in a week and a few snacks you can't come up with a different just as affordable lunch option? What do you think kids with allergies eat for lunch fillet mignon? Especially at the elementary school level I think schools need to be vigilant in keep all kids safe. I'm not always in favor of peanut free schools, but depending on the amount of kids and severity of the allergies it may be an option. A peanut free classroom is not extreme and either is hand washing.

Calling hand washing an extreme measure is just pain stupid. Do they even know the definition of extreme? It benefits all the kids not just the allergic ones. I bet these parents don't wash their hands after using the bathroom. I think the adults are the ones lacking an education.

On the The Allergic Kid blog there is contact info for the state, school district and principal. Please read the advise given about contacting them. If you want to speak up for this family I encourage you, but keep the family's wishes in mind.

I am so grateful for the people we have in our lives that help us keep our son safe without us even asking. Even our preschool and parents of his classmates are supportive. You would think as one parent to another it wouldn't even be a question.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Perk to Peanut Allergy!

So there is one perk to having a peanut allergy in the family. Recalls of peanut butter for Salmonella! It's one recall we don't have to worry about in this house. But if you do have it in your house, or like me eat it at work, here is the link to the article with the recall information.

Besides that, the weekend was pretty uneventful. I'm ok with that. I hope you all have a great Monday tomorrow!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do you know your expiration dates?

Yesterday on Facebook I said I forgot what I wanted to write about. Well I remembered! I was dropping the little man off at the sitter/good friends house. Since earlier in the week we signed the kids (Cormac and her daughter), up for a class together that she will be bringing them too. That with spring hopefully on the way means she will be taking them out more.

So I just wanted to have the EpiPEn reminder talk. It's time to have it with everyone. We don't talk about it every time we see her or even monthly so I thought it would be a good idea to start refreshing people's memories.

I just stated the 2 simple rules that we have.

1. It MUST go everywhere with him. The park, library, a play date, everywhere. No exceptions.

2. Never leave it in the car. Temperatures can damage the medicine and make it less effective. Plus you never know when you may need it.

His sitter (and also good friend), is on top of this! I know she knows and does this, but it still needs to be said to anyone who takes care of our little man. A little reminder never hurts. Mom and Dad your next!

This EpiPen talk lead me to remember that both sets of EpiPen's are expiring soon. One set next week, and the other next month. How I remembered with my baby brain is beyond me! Let me say this is an accomplishment for me. I have the worst memory when it comes to dates. I can't remember the exact date of my best friends birthday and we've been friends for over 20 years. You would think that the husband couldn't remember the wedding anniversary. Nope it's me. I get it wrong all the time! When people ask I just wait for him to answer. Of course I get the look from him every time. I even mess up his and Cormac's birthday. I just have a hard time with numbers.

However I guess when it comes to my son's life, dates are not a problem. I can tell you when his EpiPens and car seats expire. So the really important stuff is in there. If you get a chance, go and check you emergency meds and epi's. If you can't remember when they expire, you can always register you EpiPen's here and they will send you a free e-mail reminder. They also have a app for your iPhone. I don't have it yet, but may try it out. I think it's a good idea for care takers to have. If you don't wan to register, you can also put it on your calendar at home, computer or phone. If you use an electronic calendar, have a reminder set at least a week in advance so you have time to call the Dr. to get a new Rx.

I just have to remember to call the Dr. and get the Rx. Oh baby brain how I hate you! I also have to go find out why ducky is in the naughty chair.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Food Facts!

I received and e-mail asking me to talk about a website that can be a great help for anyone suffering from food allergies, want to check ingredients, nutritional facts, health score, recipes and even make a shopping list.

So I click on to check it out. As always I won't write about a product if I don't check it out first. I liked what I found. I especially like the Shopping List and Quick Recipe Finder. I can make a shopping list for myself and others on here. It is brand specific to help family and friends get what they need should they have to get food for my little man. While making the list I can double check the ingredients. Whoever is shopping will still have to double check when in the store, but at least they know where to start.

Though I haven't tried any of the recipes in the Quick Recipe Finder yet, I have done a search and a ton came up that avoided our allergies. I like that you can check off what you can't eat and a recipe is ready for you. They even put the safe brand of flour and seasonings you can use. Click add to shopping list and it adds all the ingredients to your list. You can then go and edit the list if you already have some of them. LOVE that. The recipe also lists the nutritional info. So it's good for anyone who is conceded about what they are eating.

I would recommend checking this out, especially if others take care of your FA children or you are new to the FA world. I think for the experienced FA people, it may give you some new recipe ideas! The only thing is you will have to register to use all the features on this site, but it is free so why not. For a better explanation check out their video on YouTube. They did tell me they are coming out with an app. Maybe they will let me review it ; )

**As always I want to be honest. I did not receive any money or products for this review. Just an opportunity for them to list my blog on their site. I would of wrote about it even if they didn't list it.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

What not to eat?

So now that our big news is out, I can share my struggles about food. When your pregnant the doctors give you a list of no no foods. No sushi, no alcohol, no caffeine, no cold cuts... the list goes on. This off limits list does not take into consideration that we already have a child with food allergies.

My first instinct was to avoid all his allergens while pregnant with number two. It makes sense. I am not exaggerating when I say I ate peanut butter 5 or more days a week for all 9 months of my pregnancy with Cormac. I also turned to almonds and walnuts for a quick, easy, and healthy snack. Low and behold, a child with severe peanut and tree nut allergies. I have beating myself up over this since we found out.

The minute we decided to have another baby I stared researching what to do this time. Every doctor (about 5 so far), say not to totally avoid these foods. Same with what I've read. Ok, now what I asked myself. There is no conclusive evidence as to whether to avoid or include these foods in my diet, just opinion. I hate that there are no clear cut answers when it comes to food allergies.

So like with the regular list of no's, my hubby and I decided moderation is key. Obviously I'm not going to eat these things around my son or even bring it into my house. So work is were I sample the forbidden. Is this the right coarse of action? I really don't know.

The good thing is I can bring almonds and walnuts back into the house. We received the good news that we can go ahead and include these nuts in his diet. So no guilt in eating those. In fact I had a yummy almond butter and jelly sandwich today.

Even though this is my second pregnancy, and I'm much more relaxed about it, I now have a whole new set of fears I didn't have with the first. I really don't know if I'm doing the right thing, and that is stressing me out.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Real Reason ;)

A picture is worth 1,000 words!

So this is my excuse these past few months for not being an active blogger. I do apologize, but the first trimester was kicking my butt big time! I just didn't have the energy or the stomach to be on much. Now that I'm starting to feel better I hope to be better about my blogging.

We are very excited about our new addition coming this August. Cormac is already talking to the "baby" (my stomach), and loves to give him or her kisses. I hope this is a sign that he is going to be a wonderful big brother.

The search for the perfect double stroller is on as well as trying to figure out what to and what not to eat this time. Things I didn't have to think about the first time.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is my first ever attempt at making sugar cookies from scratch. Well the icing wasn't from scratch but the cookies are. I have a very fickle oven so this took so much longer than it should of. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I may need practice but since I didn't burn the house down or the cookies, I think I did an ok job. Hopefully my St. Patrick's day cookies will be prettier. Looks like a have a lot of baking in my future.

Just frosted
After the Hubby and I ate a ton of them.

I also wanted to wish you all a safe and Happy Valentine's Day! Take the extra minute to hug, kiss and the tell people important to you that you love them! And remember be on top your game today and read those labels!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine's Day Candy So Far

When I wait until the last minute to get safe treats for my little man I always regret it. So I started shopping. We don't make a big deal about Valentine's Day, but it's nice to get a sweet treat. I use to love when my parents would get a little something for me. A giant Hershey's Kiss was a favorite.

This year is a challenge. It's our first allergy aware Valentine's Day. Please keep in mind the treats mentioned are peanut and tree nut free to my knowledge. Remember to check for yourselves.

Since the giant Hershey's kiss is out of the question, I picked up some regular kisses since those are the safe ones. I also picked up some Sweet Tarts Hearts, not to be confused with sweet hearts (the hearts are not safe). Sweet hearts are the normal conversation heart candies people usually give out, but you guessed it, it's on the no no list.

As mentioned on our Facebook page I also bought Heart Shaped Peep's. I did write them and found out (the next day I might add), just as people said on the FB page they are safe. He's a snippet from their email:

Because product formulations can change at any time, we encourage consumers to refer to our package labels for the most up-to-date ingredient and allergen information. We are required by law to declare major food allergens as defined by the FDA on our label. Moreover, it is our policy to voluntarily add advisory statements to our packages to alert consumers to potential cross contamination risks. Therefore, if there is a risk of any cross contamination with peanuts or tree nuts it would be stated on our packaging.

I like that they have a policy to voluntarily add advisory statements about possible cross contamination. This is responsible labeling and I think it's great. Easter is looking a little bit sweeter this year too! I love me some Peep's!

Since I know school will most likely pose a problem I'm going in with back up in my pocket this party. Some candies, and cookies ready to eat. Since we are snowed in once again I was going to try and make some heart shaped sugar cookies with the hard frosting and share my success or failure with you. But alas, my dear husband used the last of the vanilla so I have to settle for some oatmeal chocolate chip. Still yummy and much easier. I hope to get some time soon to try my hand at the the sugar cookies this week or next.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Week at the Allergist

On Monday we hopped in the car and headed to out allergist in NYC. As expected we did another skin test and blood test. Not expected was how good Cormac was when they did the skin test. He didn't even flinch until the last prick. He just watched and sat still. When the nurse was done, he started to roll up his sleeve of his other arm. I'd say pretty good for a 2 year old. The blood test was of course a different story.

The skin results were every encouraging! Back in July he tested negative for almonds (for some reason we missed that), and positive for the other nuts that were tested. This time he tested negative again for almonds! I think this is a good sign. The other nuts came up, but much smaller welts this time. So small that after the 10 minutes we still didn't see anything. After about 20 minutes there were some small dots but not even close to last time.

The Dr. is optimistic that we may be able to rule out tree nuts! Almonds anyway. She wants to wait for the blood work to come back and make our move from there. I must note that his tree nut diagnosis was based purely on the skin test in July. When our regular pediatrician ordered the original blood test after his reaction to peanuts, Cormac wasn't tested for tree nuts. This time he was, so we sit and wait to see what the next step is.

I am still really happy with our Dr. at Mt. Sinai and their whole staff. They are all wonderful with Cormac and us. They take there time, and answer every question. Our Dr. never thinks I'm crazy or over reacting. She is supportive, and has encouraged me to go forward with the support group idea (now if only I could get moving on that).

One thing I want to stress is this. Be happy with your child's Dr.'s. If your not, it makes things so much harder. I'm glad we switched pediatrician's a while back. It was just before Cormac had his horrible reaction to peanuts. He was wonderful with us and I know we wouldn't have gotten the same attention and genuine concern from our old practice.

I went in thinking nothing had changed, and turns out there may be a big change for the better. I couldn't be happier!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Even at my son's own party?

I was going to wait until later in the week to post about this, but why wait. Today we went to the New Jersey Children's Museum for the first time. Cormac had a great time. It had a ton of stuff to tire him out and give us some laughs. If your looking for something affordable to do on a cold winter day, this is the place.

My problem with this museum isn't about the the facilities , activities or anything like that, it's about what happen when I inquired about birthday parties. When were there, there were a few parties starting. I thought what a great idea. Cormac 's b-day is in December, and for years to come I'm going to have to come up with some location b-days. Our house is just too small for all his little friends already.

So of course my first question was about the food. I started by saying my son has food allergies so we would like to bring our own food. I also stated there will more than just him that has food allergies. She said we can accommodate you no problem. You can bring him (just him), his own food and the rest of the party has to eat what they supply. I said no it's his b-day party. I'm not going to make him something different than everyone else. This is not school, it's HIS party and he will not be left out. She said no you can't bring food for everyone. What the hell. I can't have a party for my own kid that has all safe food! She didn't even give me a reason why. Tell me why and maybe I'd understand.

I said what about a cake. He can't have yours and she said oh desserts are OK. So at least part of the party can be safe. So I asked what foods they serve and she said pizza. OK usually a safe food. I asked where do you get it from so I can talk to them and make sure it's safe? She wouldn't tell me. She said the pizza is peanut free, they use vegetable oil. Um really? In my quest to find safe places to eat for Cormac, vegetable oil has never been a answer in any pizza place so far. It's always olive oil. So that makes me question her info. It could be true but it's weird to me. I said what about tree nuts? Her response was, I'm sure it's tree nut free too. I can ask if you want.

No I don't want you to ask, I want to ask myself! I don't know you, and frankly your lack of understanding and unwillingness to talk about it doesn't make me trust you. No I didn't say that, but wish I did. Seriously why can't I talk to the place? You are charging $299.00 for a party. You can at least let me find out if the food is safe. I don't care how much you are overcharging me as long as I am 100% sure my son and his other allergic buddies are safe.

Anytime we go to a party at a kids place, we call and ask about the food. Not once have they denied me the information of where it comes from. Every place we have called have been super helpful and informative. Why wouldn't they be? Having an ambulance come to your place of business can't be a good thing.

So looks like a party here is out of the question, but for something to do we will probably go back. Like I said the museum itself is great and the staff (besides the party planner), were nice. Too bad though. It looked like the kids at the parties were having a great time.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Quick Update

Things here have been quiet on the allergy front. We have so many school parties I was getting stressed out, but all the moms have been so great about it. I wish all his school years can go as well.

The bad dreams are starting up again and I'm not happy about that at all! It really sucks. I can go a while and not get upset, and then one damn dream gets me all anxious again. We have such great friends and family who are on board so why do I get this way? Motherhood I guess.

I think the big trigger is that we are heading back to the allergist on Monday. Cormac will be getting more blood work and skin tests done. I'm not looking forward to it. I really don't think much has changed in 6 months, but I will try and stay positive. I just feel bad for him and all the needles.

I'll be sure to give you the details when we get back.


Friday, January 14, 2011

What's Acceptable?

I'm hoping I can get back to my blogging as I've been MIA. For some reason I've been avoiding the computer and my social networking/emails a lot lately. Probably not a bad thing since so much of our time now revolves around the Internet. I'm actually trying to talk myself out of upgrading to a smart phone. Do I really need Internet access 24/7?

So I read a blog entry today about a teacher who feels guilty about eating nuts at school. Now she does not have any allergic children in her class, nor is the school peanut and tree nut free. However they were at one time but that failed. The new idea is for the teachers to abstain and ask the kids to as well, but again it's not policy. Kids can still bring in their nutty foods.

She goes on to say how guilty she feels about her secret stash of mixed nuts she has in her draw. That she always washes her hands after eating them. She is aware of the allergies in the school (again none in her classroom). She seems responsible about it, but feels guilty. I think that feeling alone shows that she does care. Her post was well written and not accusatory against food allergic children or parents.

My point of this post is to ask, what's acceptable to you? We each will have our own tolerance on what is OK and what's not. In general I am OK with what she is doing. Provided she is not interacting with other children who do have allergies and is not eating the nuts in front of the non allergic kids when asking them not to eat nuts. I do think a teacher needs to set the example. Kids learn from teachers just as much as they do from home.

OK what do you think? Should she feel guilty?


Sunday, January 2, 2011

I can't believe it's 2011!

Boy how time flies. I really can't believe it's 2011. I think about how long I've know some of my friends and it's been more than half my life! It feels like just yesterday I met some of them. I feel old! But that's ok, because when I sit down and think about it, I've accomplished so much. At a glance it doesn't always feel like it in my everyday life, but when you get down to the details it's pretty fun to see what I've done. I think more people need to look at you life details and you will surprise yourself.

I've definitely grown as a person. I'd like to think I'm as still as open minded as I was when I was an idealistic teen. But the reality is life and motherhood changes that as you get older. When you become a mother, you world view changes a bit. You see more of the bad than you saw when you didn't have those worries. Add food allergies to the list and you start seeing how some people are down right mean, selfish, and ignorant.

I don't always deal well with those people. I'm still struggling with my own anxieties and fears when It comes to Cormacs allergies. Reading negative comments and articles all over the web still gets me upset. So even though I'm not one for New Years Resolutions I decided to work on some things in 2011 that I hope will stay with me for the years to come.

1. Stop reading comments made after food allergy articles and negative blogs about it. I need my sleep, and fighting with these people in my head isn't worth it!

2. Take a step back a remember that people who don't live with food allergies on a daily basis don't deserve my anger when they don't get it. I can't expect the world to understand.

3. Thank and tell people who make and effort how much it means to us that they are trying even if they don't get it right. This will encourage them to keep trying, give us an opportunity to educate, and eventually hope that our patience will pay off in the end when they do get it right.

I make sure to tell the moms in our Mommy & Me class how much it means to me that they ask questions and bring in safe snacks for the whole class. It's paying off! At the holiday party a mom made cookies and asked me a ton of questions before hand. The party came and she was worried about the frosting she used and made him a plain cookie. It meant so much that instead of taking the chance she though about it. She thought about my son in the middle of all the holiday fuss. That's a big deal to me, and it was important to me that she knew that.

So even though our children's food allergies are a very serious thing, I think we need to give others ( the people who are trying that is), a bit of a learning curve. People will forget or make a mistake but you can't expect everyone to be as on top of it as you are. Never compromise you child's safety of coarse, but remember how confusing and overwhelming it was and is for you. For others it may be just as scary. Good intentions won't keep your child safe, but it's a start to educating others on how to keep your kiddo happy and healthy.

I don't know about you but I am so happy the holiday's are over! Cheers to a healthy and happy 2011. Happy New Year everyone!