Saturday, July 21, 2012

More than I can chew...

Today's post isn't focused on food allergies. It's more of a mom/parent purging for me. I'm just trying to figure some things out. Like most moms (and dad's, or guardian's),  I have become completely overwhelmed by daily life. There really aren't enough waking hours to get it all done. I use to be a very organized person, and on time for everything. Add kids to the mix and it's all out the window!

I have friends who became more organized when they had kids. Both my working mom friends, and stay at home mom friends, seem to have it all together. They enjoy their kids (not that I don't enjoy mine, I just think they don't enjoy stressed out mom right now). I know I don't see into their homes at the crazy moments,  I know they are not perfect, but they seem more calm about it all.  Do they dread the production it takes just to get everyone into the car to go out? For me that's a food allergy related anxiety. Do I have enough food, will he get upset this time? We all talk about how hard it is, to be a parent and find balance as an individual, a wife and friend.

Last night as I was working on some of the details for the baby's 1st birthday party (can you believe he's going to be one next month), I was thinking, that this last year has been crazy! My hubby got promoted, two weeks later I had a second child, one week later a hurricane hit and his paternity leave got screwed up. Then my oldest who has the peanut & tree nut allergy, started his first year of preschool (where we have to volunteer). I went back to work part time, started a portrait photography business, and recently signed an agreement to do some stock photography. Let us not forget, this blog and another blog for a local support group I co-founded.

So that's one husband, 2 kids, 3 blogs, 1 website, a part time job, a new business and a support group. Oh and hubby's schedule is so erratic! We honestly can't plan anything, baby sitters or weekend trips till 2 days before the week starts! It's driving our friends and family crazy along with me. I hate saying, "I won't know till.." every time we are asked to do something.  I honestly think, people think we don't want to see them. It's the total opposite! I miss everyone terribly.

I think I had posted on Facebook, that I sent my oldest to a play date with a snack that wasn't 100% safe! Thank goodness for a great friend and mom,  who checked my snack anyway.  Where is my head that I can do something like that? How do I get organized with all this? What kind of balance can I achieve to be happy? Is it time to give something up? Do I give this up?

I think we can all agree I'm not the best blogger on the block. In fact, I suck at staying current and relevant. I don't post as often as I would like. BUT I really don't want to give this up. I love interacting with the FA community. Making someone feel that they are not alone, and that there is someone who understands. You all have helped me so may times I can't count. When I feel like others are looking at me like I'm nuts, I can come here or on my Facebook page and know you don't think I am!

I think this is all coming out as a result of two in a half weeks of nothing but bad. Between hubby's job, and the kids getting coxsakie/hand foot and mouth, it's all come to a head. I'm an anxious person to begin with, but my levels are pretty high right now.  I don't want to give up any of it. I finally found my way back to photography (heck it's what I have my masters in), and it has been my main focus, but so many other things are suffering because of it. Even though I'm focused on it, I need to dedicate more time to it.  But where's the time?

I guess it's time to take a serious look at all, that is my life. I don't want to be a quitter, I want to do it all! You know super mom who just isn't a mom lol. I know my hubby is worried about me, and that we "need to talk". Don't you hate that phrase? I probably will never figure it out, but I'm going to try. Any advise or ideas how to get it together are welcome!

Thanks for once again listening to me ramble!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thank You Cake Break!

We've been back a week now from our wonderful family vacation in Lewes, DE. It was such an amazing experience going away as a family of 4 for the first time. We decided a while ago that in order for us to go away we need to rent a space that had a kitchen. Not just to save money, but to save our sanity and keep stress at a minimum. Feeding your food allergic child while on vacation is a challenge, especially if you eat out for every meal. I would be exhausted by day 2, and DONE by day 3. The stress would ruin it.

With that said, we rented a house on the beach, and only ate out twice. If you find yourself in Lewse DE, these 2 establishments: Mr. P's and Jerry's Seafood, were so nice and accommodating, plus the food was great.  However the day we went into Rehoboth we faced our big first food challenge while on vacation.

 ©Diane French Photography                    

We had planed to spend the afternoon at the boardwalk and eat there. The first thing we noticed was that many of the concessions and restaurants cook their food with peanut oil. It was clearly stated on their signs as an advertisement. For us it was a waring and blessing. Even the one pizza place we went into used peanut oil. Now I'm sure there are many safe place to eat in Rehoboth that don't use peanut oil, as we didn't go into every establishment (there are a ton of places to eat there).  By the 4th or 5th one we tried without success, we were done.

Disappointed, we headed back to Lewes to eat as my son was starving. We found Mr. P's and all was good again. But it got me thinking, what if we had only rented a hotel room in Rehoboth like most families do? We would of been so stressed.

We got back to the house, and I posted on facebook about how bummed I was for my little man. Then, just like that, one you you replied (I won't post your name in case you don't want it here), to my post that there was a nut free bakery in Rehoboth! I looked them up and called the next morning. It was true, Cake Break in Rehoboth was peanut and tree nut free. They also had gluten free items as well.

It sounds crazy but I got a little emotional at the news. See we had already told our son we couldn't go to the ice cream place, that he couldn't eat the pop corn, or the fudge he saw others eating on the boardwalk. Pretty heart breaking for us. But as usual he was OK and would say, "I'll have some back at our beach house mommy".

Two day's later it was my husbands birthday. I had planned on baking cupcakes at the house, but now I didn't have to! We told our son about the bakery, and he was super excited to pick out a special birthday cupcake for his dad. So instead of lunch that day, we had cupcakes, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe it. Needless to say he was a happy boy.

All photographs ©Diane French Photography

This pace was awesome. They even had a cupcake decorating area for the kids, some stools and chairs inside as well as out. When I asked the owner why a nut free bakery he had the best answer. He told me the day they opened there was  little boy screaming and crying because he couldn't go in and have a cupcake. That's all it took. Amazing right?

All photographs ©Diane French Photography 

So if you find yourself in the Rehoboth, DE area with a nut, peanut, or gluten, allergy, eat vegan, or just like sweets. Check out Cake Break! You won't be disappointed and you will be giving your business to people who care. They made our vacation that much better! And for a mom with a child with a life threatening food allergy that is a big deal.

Like the photos you see? Check out my photo blog and website at


Friday, June 15, 2012


For the Second Time, Reserved Seating Area Will Provide Haven for Fans Who Suffer Severe Peanut Allergies

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox will host a second “Peanut-Controlled Zone” on Friday, July 6, 2012 at 7:10 p.m. against the Toronto Blue Jays.

To provide fans who suffer from severe peanut allergies with the safest environment possible, no peanuts, nor anything containing peanuts, will be allowed or sold in three reserved sections of the Club Level at U.S. Cellular Field.   The concession stands closest to those special sections will not sell peanuts and the area will be meticulously cleaned and inspected prior to the game.

“Every individual fan experience is important to our organization,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing.  “We are very pleased with the turnout and fan feedback from the game in April and want to give these fans another opportunity to enjoy White Sox baseball in a peanut-controlled area at U.S. Cellular Field.”

Along with tickets specially priced at $47, fans have the option to add $10 in “Bonus Bux” that can be used to buy food and beverage at any permanent club level concession stand and a $25 parking pass to their orders. Additionally, fans will enjoy a spectacular fireworks show after the game.  There are approximately 200 seats available, so fans are encouraged to order tickets early.

For the least peanut-exposed path to the game, the club suggests entering through the Chicago Sports Depot near Gate 5 on the north side of 35th Street. From the second level exit of the store, escalators lead up to a bridge over the street which ends at the Club Level concourse.

Fans interested in purchasing tickets and seating in the peanut-free section should email or call Dustin Milliken at or (312) 674-5186.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Year Two of Living with Food Allergies.

I'm reflecting on another year gone by living with food allergies. On April 22 it will be 2 years of anxiety, fears and firsts. We learned a lot this last year. We have amazing family, friends and teachers who really look out for our little man. Even some of the parents at his school go out of their way to include him. For most, his allergy has become 2nd nature to them. We have had no new incidents involving his allergies, and he has outgrown most of his nut allergies. I believe we will be doing a food challenge with cashews this year. Lucky doesn't even describe how I feel. To read our story how we found out about our son's peanut allergy check out this post from last year.

As he is now 3, he is starting to understand more. He reminds us when dropping him at school that we need to check the snack. He asks if he can have whatever it is. When we tell him no, it's never been a problem. Even when it's cupcakes that the teacher didn't know were coming to class. I'm so proud of him. He never complains about being left out, or eating something different. Sometimes he even asks us if we have his epi pen when leaving the house.

It's hard to tell a 3 year old about the severity of his peanut allergy without terrifying him. I want him to have a healthy fear, but not traumatize him. So far so good. I think we are on the right track. Here are some of the things we do to remind and teach him.

1. When we go to a party or play date, we talk about it in the car. I ask him questions like what if your friend wants to share his or her food? The answer, "say no thanks", and "ask mom or dad". We remind him don't take food from anyone but (we name the people who can give him food).

2. He doesn't were his medic alert bracelet all the time because it bothers him (it scratches him pretty badly no matter what I do to it). However he will wear it when we go to public evens and places, to a new play date or when their is a sub at school. As he gets older he will wear it more since we won't be with him as much. He knows it tells others about his allergies.

3. We have been teaching him what say say if he gets lost. He knows his full name, allergies, phone number, name of the town we live in, mom and dad's full names, our jobs and his grandparents name. If you ask him his name, he tells you than says, "I'm allergic to peanuts and nuts"! Pretty good for a 3 year old! It's my new parlor trick to show people:)

4. When we are shopping we make a effort to point out peanuts and tree nuts, the different products (especially candy), that they are in, and how they look different.

All this seems to be paying off and getting through to him and some of his little friends. Again, I am reminded that even thought the fear and anxiety we have has parents is stressful and exhausting, we are lucky that's it's not something worse. He is a happy, healthy, funny, smart, adorable little boy, who brings us so much joy. He may drive me crazy on a daily basis, but he also amazes me daily with his ability to learn and accept his small burden at such a young age.

We are two years into this, and it does get easier. Remember to be open minded when others are not, educated others but not preach, work with schools, parents and organizations to help advocate for your child as well as others. You will be surprised how many doors open, and events pop up just because you talked about it in a positive way.

FYI the NY Mets contacted me again about a peanut free suite for a weekend game in May. I'll get the info to you this week! It all started with a simple email! You can make a difference!


Friday, February 17, 2012

A letter from a stranger can change your day.

While I'm no the best blogger, I do, do it for many reasons. To connect with others in my situation, raise awareness, and just listen to others. I receive e-mails from strangers often talking about their struggles. Some are angry, some are sad, some are of a great experience they have had, and some are just people getting it all out.

Kelly sent me this email and said I could share. It's about the basic thing we all have in common. Makes me feel like I'm not crazy to feel the way I do. That I'm not alone in my fears and anxiety.

"My name is Kelly and my little boy is Zachary he is 4yrs old going to be 5 soon. I still worry every day about him going to school. They have a peanut free campus, but the other day I saw a can of peanut butter there. I know how stressful it is wondering if there will ever be a true safe zone for my son or will I receive a dreaded phone call from the school.

I carry my cell phone everywhere I go. Zachary's doctor told me that there was no way possible to be 100% safe any where in the world today. That he would come in contact with peanuts and tree nuts, that's why we need to learn how to take care of those incidents when they happen.

Zachary understands that some foods hurt him and doesn't want to eat them. I have taught him to ask first before eating anything, fortunately we have a wonderful teacher that calls me to ask first too. I have decided to create a list of all foods to send to school with him from now on, the teachers says it easier for them. Our school nurse has also asked us to send a box of safe snacks to school, just in case. Zachary has peanut, tree nut and asthma was rast tested at 10 months old and then again at 2yrs. Was going to do a food challenge, but was sick and had to cancel it.

That summer he was eating food that had tree nuts: Pizza Huts sauce, bunny bread and ice cream had may contain trace amount of peanuts. Same brand he had been eating and label changed, broke out in hives all over his body, was very sick. Doctor said that was a mild reaction due to small amounts of peanuts and tree nuts, could be bad if he ate a larger amount. He was sick for a month and half, I felt terrible.

Sometimes the rest of the family forgets, so I tote around food and medications all the time to make sure nothing happens, but if it does mom to the rescue. I look at it as to educate my family about the allergies and asthma or any body else that wants to listen. So far only a couple trips to the doctor due to allergy or asthma, thank god.


Thanks to Kelly for sharing, and thanks to you all for listening. This is one reason to be on here. It's to be here for you like you are here for me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yay Peanut Butter Cheerios (NOT)!

It's probably not news to many of you by now that Cheerios has a new Peanut Butter flavor. There are many out there that are angry, worried, and downright frightened. I don't blame anyone for feeling this way. Cheerios have become a staple in the US for first finger foods for our youngsters. Go to a toddler/preschooler play date and there will be at least one child with a cup or bag of Cheerios. A food that many find safe for the peanut and tree nut allergy stricken. Now it's just one more food for parents to look out for.

Rationally I can't be mad that they made this product. They make Honey Nut Cheerios and Banana Nut Cheerios. No one seems to be upset about those which contain almond. So why the outrage? I think the most upsetting part is that General Mills will not disclose how they are guaranteeing the safety of their other Cheerios products. There is no explanation how the Peanut Butter Cheerios and other products are not cross contaminated. I've always found General Mills at the top of my list of companies when it comes to responsible food labeling. But their refusal to disclose their manufacturing processes is disturbing. You would think they would be happy to let us know how and why their product is safe. Their are millions of children in this county that are estimated to have a peanut allergy. Why not tell the parents why they are safe and end this.

What I and so many others also find worrisome, is the packaging and look of the "O's" themselves. I mentioned to my hubby about the new flavor, and to be careful if he were to buy Cheerios for our son. Now we usually get the store brand because between my 3 year old and husband, we go through so much cereal we need to buy bulk and cheap. If there is a good sale, then sometimes we get the real deal. Well he stopped by the supermarket (the good dad that he is), and checked it out. He was a bit upset that the packaging was so similar to the Multigrain flavor as rumored. The Multigrain box is very different from the regular Cheerios. Why not make the Peanut Butter ones stand apart from the others as well? Even the Honey Nut box is distinct!

So, mad about the new Peanut Butter Cheerios, I am not. I am frustrated, aggravated, and concerned for the new challenge this presents for our family when it comes to food outside the home, especially school. They are free to make what they want. It's just another food we need to talk to his teacher about. We won't be buying any Cheerios Products anytime soon. Not just for the cross contamination factor, but also for their (General Mills), lack of disclosure. Let our wallets do the talking if they won't put on their listening ears (as I tell my 3 year old), and hear our concerns, make sure to let them know how you feel. They may be safe, or they may not be, but until they tell why they are, I say pass the Raisin Bran please!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How many have to die?

Saddened and angered by yet another avoidable food allergic death of Amaria Johnson, a 7 year old girl at school, I've been thinking how am I going to keep my child safe at school. As soon as I start to get more comfortable with the idea, another child suffers and a family is devastated because our schools aren't keeping our children safe. Do I have a solution? Not for every child, but it's time for schools and all parents to start taking food allergies seriously.

I don't understand why epi pes aren't available in all schools. They have defibrillators in some schools for emergencies why not epi pens? The chances of an allergic reaction happening are rising. For a $100.00 a year so many lives could be saved. Most people don't know they have a food allergy until they have a reaction. To me it's common sense that the school has them.

So right now there are two links I want to share:

1. FANN also has a sample letter to send to your senators to encourage them to pass the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This is federal legislation encouraging states to adopt laws requiring schools to have epi pens to use for any student.

2. A petition from asking that epi pens be available in all schools. It takes two seconds to sign.

Do your part. Send that letter and sign the petition. Fight for your children's right to be safe.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goodbye 2011 & Hello 2012!

Trying to find 10 minutes or more to sit down and write theses days is next to impossible. I don't know how the other mom bloggers do it. My hats off to you ladies! I myself am not that organized. I have piles of laundry waiting to be put away, a sink full of dishes, bottles and pump parts. My dining room is stacked with picture frames waiting to find a photo and a home. I'm not even going to describe what our "play" room looks like. At least my desk at work is nice and neat.

With that said, I look at the mess and think we had one heck of a year. Most important is that Cormac became a big brother. We are lucky he is such a good baby, and Mac is a great brother. Now add my hubby's new horrible schedule, to the new baby, Mac starting preschool, going back to work, and me trying to start a photography business, and needless to say, life has gotten challenging. There are days I say to myself, somethings got to give. Maybe his food allergies will disappear. That would make things easier. But that's not realistic. A girl can dream.

We went for our yearly allergist visit to see if we would get our Christmas miracle. Turns out his peanut numbers went up. A lot! It makes no sense to me after the huge drop last year. But what can you do? I can't say that it didn't upset me when we got the call. I was really hoping we were getting closer the possibility of him growing out of it. I guess I will always hope that it will change.

The good news is we may be able to rule out all tree nuts soon. We got the go ahead for hazelnuts. He's even had nutella, and is doing fine with it. The Dr said she wants to do a food challenge for cashews. If he passes, we can say he's not allergic to tree nuts! It's the last one showing up in the tests.

At the moment I'm excited about the idea of the food challenge, and the hope that we can take away the tree nut fear. But there is a waiting list for the challenge, so by the time it happens I'll be a mess. For now though, I'll think of it as a good thing.

We are also debating on whether or not to test the baby. Our allergist recommends having him tested for peanuts around 9 months to a year. We probably will, but I have concerns regarding false positives. We will look more into it and then decide. If anyone else tested because of an older sibling can you please share your experience with me?

Our holidays from Halloween to New Years were uneventful in a good way. Thanks to a snow storm the week of Halloween, trick or treating wasn't an issue this year. Family made all the holiday meals safe. I couldn't be happier. There are tons of other things that happened in 2011, but to write it all out would take all of 2012. One one my resolutions is to be better about blogging. Now if the kids would only cooperate.

I hope 2012 is a wonder reaction free year for you all!