Saturday, May 30, 2009

Popsicle Season

It may not be summer quite yet (school's out June 12) but it is popsicle season!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Food: Divine Desserts

My son graduated from Preschool this week. Parents had to sign up beforehand to bring food for the reception. I signed up to bring one dessert and one plate of cookies/brownies. I decided to bring extra so that David could have more treats to enjoy. Because of his peanut allergy, I couldn't let him eat other desserts (with unknown ingredients). When he had his Christmas program, I brought a plate of his favorite cookies. He was thrilled until we got to the reception and saw all of the other kids getting lots of goodies. He said it "wasn't fair" that he didn't get as much dessert. This time, I wanted to give him every opportunity to celebrate without feeling like he had less. I tried out two new recipes. I rarely bring a dish somewhere the first time I try a recipe. The two new recipes were too good not to share.

Here's the spread.

Snickeroos, Chocolate Chip cookies, and Oreos

S'more Snack Cake

Out of all of that, I came home with 1 piece of cake left. It was all a hit!

This recipe is from Food Allergy Mama
(Dairy, Egg, and Nut Free)
Yields: About 36 squares

1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 (15-ounce) container creamy soy nut butter (I substituted Sunbutter)
6 cups crisped rice cereal
2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips

Spray a 13×9×2-inch baking pan generously with dairy-free baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, simmer syrup and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in soy nut butter until thoroughly mixed. In a large bowl, combine cereal and soy nut butter mixture, and press into prepared baking dish using a rubber spatula.

Place chocolate chips into microwavable dish, and heat on high 45 to 60 seconds, or until melted. Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate over the cereal mixture. Let mixture cool completely at room temperature, and cut into small 1-inch squares.

S'more Snack Cake

1 cup all purpose flour (I substituted cake flour - use 1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular size Guittard Chocolate chips)
1 (7 oz) jar (1 1/2 cups) marshmallow creme

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 13x9-inch pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening and eggs until well blended. Add dry ingredients and milk; mix at low speed until well blended. Beat at medium speed 1 minute. Stir in 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in greased and floured pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips in small saucepan over low heat. Spoon teaspoonfuls of marshmallows creme onto top of warm cake; carefully spread with knife dipped in hot water. Drizzle with melted chocolate and swirl chocolate through marshmallow creme to marble. (Don't refer to my picture for this! I didn't take time to marble. I mean, I didn't have a clue how to make it pretty.) Cool Completely.

Let me know if you want my chocolate chip recipe. In my opinion, it is the best one around.

David did a great job at his graduation ceremony.

For the reception, I put David's desserts in a Tupperware container and hid it in the kitchen during the program. When we got to the reception, I got out his goodies. He had more than he could eat.

Here's David and his proud Momma.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #89

This week has been busy- busier than I would like. The boys are at the end of some activities (preschool, swimming lessons) and the beginning of others (T-ball and Coach Pitch baseball). We didn't recognize how busy we would be this week. Thursday is promising to be a busy day. I will spend my day (in between the crazy choas of activity) being thankful. I hope you take time to do the same.

Topping my Thanks list this week is (no surprise here)...

1. David's was okay not long after his allergic reaction. I am keenly aware that it could have been worse.

I am also thankful...

2. I am slowly and surely working through my emotions related to David's allergic reaction. Thank you to those of you that have kept me on your heart and in your prayers.

3. I am thankful that my little girl does not throw fits very often. She has been throwing a few fits lately. Here's a short clip.

4. I am thankful for the incredible experience David had at preschool. (His preschool graduation was last night.) His teachers were wonderful. They taught him, nurtured him and protected him. I am thankful they were so understanding and accommodating with regards to his allergy.
Here he is showing off his "All About Me" book.

5. I am thankful for baking. I made a bunch of goodies for David's graduation and I really enjoyed baking. I tried out 2 new recipes. (They were DE-li-cious! I may post the recipes tomorrow so stop by.)

6. I am thankful for my husband. I could go on and on here but... I don't want to make you think I am cheesy. Trust me, I am happy with my man. Here he is with my daughter last night at the reception.

7. I am thankful for sunshine. It has been beautiful here. I have almost forgotten what the rainy northwest is like. Almost.

8. I am thankful for holiday weekends. We had a great weekend. We spent time with friends. We celebrated a birthday. We hung out around a bonfire (and made s'mores). We spent an afternoon watching the kids act crazy (play on a trampoline, slip n' slide, and pool). We laughed. We played. We took it easy. It was very nice.

9. I am thankful that this week I rediscovered my love of bike riding and roller-blading.

10. I am thankful for my favorite people. Here's a picture of them when we celebrated my husband's birthday. (Oh ya, the #1 candle was the only candle I could find. Seth said it was a perfect candle for TN so I let him have his moment.)

Take a moment today to be thankful for your blessings. There's no denying it, you have a lot that you can appreciate.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cake Wreck

I read somewhere online this weekend that for people with allergies, reading labels is as natural as buckling a seat belt when you get into a car.


On Thursday, I grabbed the cake mix and with my 2 youngest boys, began making a cake for my husband's birthday. They had a blast. I let them lick the mixer paddle. After I spooned the cake mix into the cake pan, I gave both of them spatula's and let them scrape out the bowl. My youngest has an intense appetite for sweets, so he wasn't going to stop until every last bit was gone from the bowl. My other son, David, decided he had had enough. I didn't give that a second thought. It isn't unusual for my 3rd son to continue on beyond a reasonable amount of sugar.

I took pictures of my kids making Daddy's cake. These pictures make me cringe now.

A few minutes later, David told me his throat was scratchy. I didn't give it much of a thought. I was busy cleaning the kitchen mess and David has seasonal allergies (we give him daily doses of Zyrtec this time of year). I suggested he get some water. I provided him with a glass of water. He drank it down pretty quickly. He said his throat felt scratchy when he swallowed. Still, I did not think about his peanut allergy.

Within minutes, as I continued to clean the kitchen, I noticed that David was laying down on the couch. That was noticeably unusual behavior. I went over to him to check on him. I asked if he was okay. Then, I noticed the hives on his mouth.

I got him up off the couch "So I could look at the itchy bumps on his face." I brought him outside in the sun so I could see his hives clearer.

My 1st reaction was to call my husband and grab the Benedryl. I gave David Benedryl. My husband said he was leaving work immediately.

I noticed David's bottom lip was red.

He said his bottom lip really itched. It was red and beginning to swell.

David wanted more water. He asked if I was going to take him to the doctor.

I called my husband. I asked him if he thought I should give David the Epipen or take him to the hospital. He said that he was more than half way home. I should keep watching David and he would be home pretty quick.

David told me that his throat was hurting constantly except when he swallowed water.

I called my husband back. I walked away from David. I told him about David's throat. I told him I was freaking out. I told him that the hives were going away but that David was really complaining about his throat. He said he thought I should wait and that he would be there in a matter of minutes.

By the time my husband got home, the hives were gone. David's lip was still red and it was still itchy but my husband couldn't tell noticeable swelling. David's throat was still hurting but he said it was getting better.

My husband called our allergist. First, he talked to the nurse. By the time the allergist called us back, David's symptoms were almost gone. The allergist said, if it has been an hour and half and his symptoms are gone, we did not need to do anything different. He said that what we did was "okay" but we should not ever hesitate to give the Epipen. He asked if we had ever let him eat cookie or cake batter before. We eat dough fairly often (we all love cookie dough here). He said it was definitely not an egg allergy (David was allergic to eggs as an infant but outgrew that by age 2).

Within two hours of eating the cake batter, David was totally fine.

I was not.

The cake mix that we used was Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake mix. It does not have peanuts or peanut flour listed in the ingredients. It only lists "Soy, Milk, Wheat" as allergens.

My husband did an Internet search on the mix and peanut allergies. He found other reports of allergic reactions to the cake from children with peanut allergies.

I was a wreck that night. There was irony in my day. That very morning I had emailed a friend about how we read cake mix labels (because we were talking about parties). That night, I found my Beyond a Peanut Flashcards in the mail that I won during the Food Allergy Twitter party. (By the way, these cards are wonderfully educational. They describe, quite accurately, the symptoms my son experienced.)

I spent the weekend bouncing between feeling extremely defeated (because the labeling failed me) and feeling extremely angry. I couldn't place my anger or decide who or what I was angry at. But, I was, indeed, very angry. I tried spending time on allergy websites. Everything says READ LABELS.

I called Duncan Hines. The cake mix is made by a third party manufacturer (which they cannot give me the location or name of). They are assured by this company that the product is made on a dedicated line (though there may be peanut products at the same plant). The DH representative called me back after my initial contact to make sure I knew they are in compliance with the law. Peanut is not listed on the box because it is not an ingredient and they have documentation from the company that the mix is not on a shared line. They are in compliance with the law.

Just an FYI: As I understand it, the law does not require allergen statements such as, "Made in a factory that produces peanuts" or "May contain peanuts".

I was told I would hear from Duncan Hines again.

In the meantime, we made a cake from scratch on Friday and celebrated my husband's birthday.

I continue to struggle.

I will continue to press on (and make more of my baked goods from scratch). I will continue to read labels. I will continue pray for the safety of my son. And, if anything like this happens again, both my husband and I will not take a chance on time. We will not wait- we will give my son his Epipen right away.


Reading labels is as second nature to me as putting on a seat belt.
The sad fact is, even with a seat belt, accidents happen. Cars still crash.
Labels are not full-proof. This is a harsh reality for me but I will still do everything I can to protect my son.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"I despise this"

Thursday ended up being an emotional day for me. We didn't celebrate my husband's birthday. We will do that this weekend.

I know I will blog about this. I just can't get my emotions in check enough to document my thoughts.

My son had an allergic reaction to the cake we were making to celebrate my husband's birthday. I let him and his brother eat some cake batter. My husband blogged about what happened. He said, "I despise this" - that pretty much sums up how I feel about food allergies.

Please read: Risk Taking

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #88

35 things that I am thankful that I have suffered through (or am still suffering through)

1. trying to fall asleep to the sound of snoring
2. my oldest son wearing orange
3. Robert Earl Keen music
4. wrestling matches in my living room
5. Squirt lovers in my family
6. Watching someone get excited about Tennessee beating Alabama
7. Dillano's coffee instead of starbucks
8. having a pickup truck with a T on the back of it sitting in my driveway
9. dating long distance (at rival colleges no less)
10. nudging someone so they don't snore during church
11. needing air freshener spray or candles
12. football trash talk every October
13. my youngest son getting a mohawk
14. getting beat on every Wii game we own over and over and over
15. finding the seat left up
16. mornings with a morning person
17. listening to someone quote Johnny Cash songs
18. going on trips with a nervous traveler
19. encouraging my son's love of UT when her husband was deployed
20. watching my sons learn to love to pee outside
21. adjusting the thermostat again
22. seeing my husband show my kids how to sled down the stairs
23. counting down until the one I loved returned from war
24. hearing "it just slipped out"
25. watching kids stay up until 2 a.m. on video game night
26. listening to someone claim to be an authentic Texan when they only lived in Texas for 6 weeks
27. a few too many episodes of "Dirty Jobs"
28. being on the loosing end of a nerf gun fight
29. arguing if you are supposed to pronouce syrup as "sirup" or "surup"
30. learning over and over that late is everything beyond being early
31. the first half of Anchor Man
32. allowing someone give my son a knife as a present
33. jokes and stories about bodily functions and noises
34. seeing my precious baby wear orange
35. listening to someone younger than me complain about being old

It's my husband's birthday today. He's 35. I am very thankful for him.

If you have an extra minute, hop on over to his blog for a serious birthday list:
My 35th Birthday List

Peanut Allergy Questions and Answers

I am still trying to make progress on some tasks around the house that are getting out-of-control. I am also behind on answering emails. I decided to take a break from my cleaning and organizing to answer emails. I quickly realized it might be better to answer some of my blog questions in a post instead of in replies to emails. All of the questions were asked in Allergy posts during Food Allergy Awareness Week. If you missed those posts, you can view them by selecting the Allergy label on the left side of my blog.

RLR asked:
Q1. Will you be packing lunches every day? (I'm assuming that if he's the only PA kid there, he won't sit at the 'allergy table' during lunch. Some preschools here have a special table for allergy kids that stay for lunch bunch. Don't know how they handle it in public school, since this is our first experience with my son in K and my daughter in 3yo preschool).
Q2. Are you more concerned about his classmates (and their parents) having a more through understanding (as compared to everyone else at the orientation)?

A1. Yes, I plan on packing a lunch for my son everyday. I hope he stays away from the cafeteria line. Right now, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are a lunch option everyday. The school is setting up a peanut-free table for him. I am debating what to do about sending Sunbutter and Jelly sandwiches. The principal was okay with it. I am nervous about it. Sunbutter is my son's first choice for lunch every day.
A2 I am most concerned about his classmates and their parents. However, the kindergarten classes do a lot together. The school is going to send home a letter to all of the kindergarten parents at the Kindergarten assessment. I know I cannot educate everyone but I will share information with anyone I can.

Trisha asked:
Q1 Have you used the ready-to-go benadryl dispensers?
Q2 We don't have the inhaler yet, still the nebulizer. When did you guys make the switch?

A1 I have not used the ready-to-go Benedryl dispensers. I should probably get some. I haven't even checked them out. I prefer the liquid because I think it gets absorbed into the body quicker.
A2 We didn't make the switch, really. We have both. I guess we are transitioning a bit. This will be helpful for when David starts school. However, he is allergic to grass and we live in an area that claims to be the "Grass Seed Capital of the World". So, we do daily nebulizer treatments as a preventative measure during "Grass season".

RLR said:
We have meds (EpiPens, Benadryl) in our daughter's backpack, and an extra set in a makeup-type case that we use when we aren't hauling the entire backpack. We like the pre-dosed Benadryl and Benadryl tabs, but it's not always practical since our daughter's dose changes as she grows.
Q1 Will the new school let him keep his meds in the classroom?
Q2 And, at what age did he understand it was medicine?

A1: The medicine plan at this point is to have his Epipen with him at all times. "With him" meaning that it is with an assigned adult that is at his location. That means- when he is in the classroom, his teacher will have it; when he is on the playground, an assigned duty will have it; when he is at PE, the PE instructor will have it, etc. All of the assigned people will be Epipen trained at the beginning of the year. There is also a school Epipen in the health room. His inhaler and benedryl will be in the health room.
A2: What a great question! I am having to think about this. I'd guess it happened around 3. I don't know. We have always been very open and honest about the purpose of the medicine. We were careful not to scare him. The book Allie the Allergic Elephant was excellent for opening up discussion. We pretty much explained that if he ate something with peanuts in it, he would have trouble breathing. As he has gotten older he has grown in his understanding of that. I was a bit surprised when he brought up dying in his Allergy Interview. I am glad he understands the seriousness, of course. Back to the medicine- around 4 we showed him the trainer and explained the Epipen more. He calls it his "shot."

aerotatt asked:
Q1: Have you found out whether you can choose the teacher or not?
By the way, thanks for reading. I loved getting your comment. (aerotatt also has a incoming Kindergartner at our school.)
A1: I haven't pushed the school to determine David's teacher. I think I could because food allergies are covered under the Disabilities Act and the school pre-determined the teacher for other students with special needs. I am extremely ready to know his teacher and begin working with her. However, I haven't pushed that. I have been told (by teachers not administration) that you can request at teacher at registration. (And, yes, I wonder if I should be pushing this issue but I want to pick my battles carefully and start on the right foot.)

I hope that was helpful to some and interesting to everyone else.

Check out this great post about starting Kindergarten with Allergies:
Entering School With Food Allergies

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tackle-It Tuesday

It's Tuesday and I am tackling my house. I have too much mess and clutter... and laundry. That's what I am working on today.

I have a really cute helper.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We'll Play...Come Hail or High Water

Not too many months ago, I let my kids go out and play in the rain. Then, I made a mistake. I posted a facebook status letting my friends know what my kids were doing. I got a mixture of comments. The one that really caught me off-guard was the friend that suggested my kids might get pneumonia. My kids had a blast! I had a lot of fun watching them. They didn't get sick. They played together and laughed a lot.

I think it's good to let kids go out and get wet and (gasp) dirty sometimes. Kids love to explore and what's more fun than exploring nature? I like letting them see God's creation in new ways. Getting wet requires planning or, at least, clean-up. It is worth it. More times than not, I cannot resist letting them splash in puddles or run in the rain. I smile when I see my kids enjoying being outside - rain or shine.

So... one day last month as I pulled the car into the garage, it began to hail. My kids (starting with my oldest) began begging to go out into the hail. I hestitated for a moment.

Some of my thoughts were: "What's the risk?" "What's the clean-up?" "Will they even like it?" "How long will they last in hail?"

I told them they could play outside if, and only if, they waited until I got my camera.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Allergy Interview with My 5 Year-Old

This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week. I spent more time online reading food allergies news and reading other food allergy blogs than normal. I learned, laughed and even teared up a bit. It was good for me. I posted about food allergies and emailed friends in hopes they would gain a better understanding of my son's allergies.

Today I jumped at the chance to talk to my son about his peanut allergy. (My youngest son has a play date today, my oldest son is still in school, and my daughter is taking a nap.) Talking to my son about his peanut allergy was the most significant thing I did all week. I got out his medicine bag and we talked about each item. I realized that I had not done this in a while. I interviewed him (Thanks, Jenn, for this idea.) We talked more about some questions - beyond what I recorded.

Here's what my 5 year-old had to say about his peanut allergy:

Momma: Do you like having a peanut allergy?
David: No! Since if I see something really yummy I want to eat it. We wouldn't know if it has peanuts.

Momma: Are there any good things about a peanut allergy?
David: Not that I know but there might be...

Momma: What would happen if you ate a peanut?
David: I might have an itchy nose. Well, my mouth would swell up and I wouldn't be able to breathe - like in outer space- there's no air out there.

Momma: What would we do if you ate a peanut?
David: You would have to do my shot really quick. Then, I would have to go to the hospital.

Momma: What do Momma and Daddy do to keep you safe?
David: Tell me that I cannot eat things with peanuts and I cannot eat things that we don't know (if they have peanuts).

Momma: How do you keep yourself safe?
David: I don't eat things unless Momma and Daddy say I can.

Momma: Where do you see peanuts?
David: In a bag at the store. But, peanuts are also in food when I can't see them.

Momma: What is the hardest part of a peanut allergy?
David: Not knowing if something has peanuts and another thing, it might be something I would like but it might have peanuts.

Momma: What is the scariest part of a peanut allergy?
David: The scariest thing is not being able to breathe. That would always be the scariest. Dying is not the scariest. If I die, well, I believe in Jesus, so if I die I will go to heaven. I'd still be alive there.
But, I want to have my shot because I don't want to go to heaven yet... because I would miss my family.

Momma: Does it bother you to have a different snack at preschool?
David: No. One time my class had cupcakes and I got a piece of cake from home. The piece of cake was way bigger than the cupcakes.

Momma: How does your peanut allergy make you feel?
David: It feels sad to not eat a cup cake when it looks really yummy. That's hard.

Momma: Does it bother you to be different from the other kids?
David: No. I am not different from other kids with a peanut allergy. I am not different from Lindsay. (Lindsay is our babysitter and she also has a peanut allergy.)

Momma: If you could tell our whole town something about having a peanut allergy what would it be?
David: If I eat peanuts, I can't breathe.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #87: Allergy Thankfulness

This week, I have been focusing my posts on my son's peanut allergy. I wish my son did not have a peanut allergy. I cannot deny that. In the middle of my struggle with this food allergy, I recognize that I am blessed. Here is my Allergy Thursday Thanks Tank.

I am thankful for:

Our Laws
1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Did you know that food allergies are covered as a disability? I started to copy parts of the law here but my post got rather long. If this is news to you, do an internet search on these laws and food allergies. Here are a couple of links to start with: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Food Allergy Initiative)

My PA son would eat this every single day for lunch if I would let him. He would rather have it than pizza, ham and cheese, chicken- anything, really. This sunbutter is the best: Sunbutter

A Knowledgeable Babysitter
One of our babysitters (we use 2 for our 4 kids- they are sisters) has a peanut allergy. I am amazed and extremely thankful that I have a teenage babysitter that "gets it". She understands everything.

I have not had to use one on my son. Still, I am thankful for the life-saving medicine provided in my son’s Epipens. I am thankful that we have them readily available to us. To learn more: Epipen

A Fantastic Preschool Teacher
My son's preschool teacher is thoughtful and proactive when it comes to his peanut allergy. She lets me know in plenty of time about class parties. She coordinates with me on special events that involve food. I have been tremendously blessed by her this year.

Friends that Check First
This week at church the kids were given some candy. Some candy was known to be safe because the labels were available. There weren't labels for the caramels. My friend told my son that he couldn't have the candy because she had to check with me. We determined that we couldn't know if it was safe or not. She went home and checked out the candy bag and called me. The best part? She checked with me first. I am so thankful.

Twitter is fairly new to me. I don’t even know the correct Twitter lingo yet. To be honest, my initial reaction to Twitter was, “Why do I need another Internet social network tool?” I have discovered that Twitter is a valuable resource to get information about food allergies. I started following other people that have allergy websites. I get updates and links through Twitter that I would have to time to find in my normal Internet surfing. Speaking of Twitter, You’re Invited to a Food Allergy Twitter Party

Google Alerts
I have a google alert for “peanut allergy”. Each day I get a Google Alert informing me of news stories and blog posts that contain the words “peanut allergy.” This has been a great resource to stay up-to-date on news and to connect with others walking this food allergy journey.

Friends that Consider my Son's Allergy when Planning Events
Another example of thoughtfulness took place at church. A women's brunch was hosted there this past weekend. I was asked ahead of time if there would be a problem with there being nuts at the brunch.

Knowledgeable Doctor
I am thankful for the doctor we have for my son. He is both an allergist and an asthma specialist. He also has a child with food allergies (including nut allergies). I am thankful for a doctor that is knowledgeable and understanding.

Allergy Blog Friends
Blogging has allowed me to "meet" other people dealing with food allergies. I am thankful for my blog friends that constantly encourage me on this journey.

Allergy Blogs and Websites
I am constantly learning. The internet is such a great tool. In random order, here are some blogs and websites that I lean on and learn from:
The Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network
Allergy Asthma Network – Mothers of Asthmatics
Food Allergy Books
Food Allergy Buzz
Mom’s Food Allergy Diner
Nut Free Living
The Allergic Kid
The Nut Free Mom
Allergy Sense
No Nuts for Me
No Whey Mama
Allergic Living
Peanut Allergy
Peanut Free Mama
Please Don’t Pass the Nuts
Food Allergy Mama

I know there are more- feel free to suggest other blogs the comments. And, I may have missed listing some I visit. (I have had a few interruptions as I have tried to finish up this post.)

Another thing- there is a Food Allergies Blog Carnival going on today: Celebrating Food Allergy Awareness Week with a Virtual Carnival

Food allergies are not easy. But, we have a lot to be thankful for. Take some time to be thankful today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Medicine Bag

This is the best bag ever.

What makes it so perfect? It is a small backpack, probably about 1/3 of the size of a regular child's back pack. It is light and easy for my 5 year-old son to carry.

My son has a severe peanut allergy. He also has asthma. He needs to have his medicine handy at all times. The bag is small enough not to be burdensome and big enough to carry everything he might need. The bag contains an inhaler, two Epipens, Benedryl, and Allergy Visine.

I have had people ask me if David has an Epipen and if he has it with him. We always have it with us. If you see him carrying this bag, now you know what is in it.

Sometimes he doesn't carry it. Sometimes it is with me or my husband. His little brother insists on being the one to give it to and pick it up from David's preschool teacher. No matter what the situation, we make sure the medicine goes with David where ever he is.

May 10-16 is Food Allergy Awareness Week. In a life-threatening allergic reaction, every second counts. If you know my son, I'd be happy to show you his medicine and explain what should happen in the case of an emergency. If you know someone else that has a severe allergy, take the time to ask questions and understand what should happen if an allergic reaction occurs.

If would like to know more about food allergies, stop by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

True Story Tuesday: Nuts

May 10-16 is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Stop by the Food Allergy Awareness Network (FAAN) to learn more. All week I am going to post about my experiences with my son's peanut allergy. Don't let that scare you away. You might laugh a little. You might learn something. You will get to know my experience with my son's peanut allergy a little better.

Today I am participating in the True Story Tuesday meme. I am writing this late on Monday night while devouring a little bag of M&Ms. I bought these as a treat for myself. I have to be sure to get rid of the evidence. My 8 year-old loves M&Ms and my 5 year-old is not allowed to have them. Did you know that plain M&Ms are not safe for someone with a peanut allergy? That's a sad little fact that I wish wasn't true. They are processed on the same equipment as the peanut M&Ms.

On to my story... I thought about sharing about one of our peanut allergy scares. I might do that sometime this week. For now, I want you to know that there are times when my son's allergy makes us laugh. Kids are funny. I love it when they make me laugh about things that cause me stress.

This true story was originally posted on my family blog May of 2008.

I almost hesitated sharing this one. For anyone that doesn't have boys... this is just another day in a house with boys...

Today the boys were talking about getting hit or hitting in the privates. Then, Jonathan explains to David that part of his privates are called nuts. The rest of the conversation goes something like this.

[Jonathan] David HAS nuts! He isn't allergic to his nuts!!

[David] Momma!! Momma!! I have nuts... but not real nuts.

[Jonathan] No, David, they are nuts. They are real nuts. DAAAAAVID-You have nuts inside your body!

[David] I am NOT allergic to my nuts.

For more true stories, head over to Once Upon a Miracle

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kindergarten Orientation was Exciting

I appreciated each and every comment on my post Kindergarten Bound with Allergies. I was surprised and thrilled to hear from so many people. I am afraid that my post made it seem like I have this transition all figured out. I don't. I am constantly learning. I will continue to share what I learn along the way and I welcome your input as I share. And, I will try to respond to you as I can.

On that last post, Stacey from McCrakens x 4 commented:
"Kindergarten is supposed to be fun and exciting, not scary."

That is exactly what Kindergarten Orientation was for my son-- exciting.

Here he is right as we were getting ready to leave the school.

He was just like every other kid at Orientation. He went on a tour of the school, sat in a school bus, and went to a kindergarten room for a story. It was a wonderful experience for him.

During the tour, the parents were in the cafeteria listening to various speakers talk about Kindergarten, the school, safety and transportation. The Orientation was informative and light.

The allergy information that I emailed was provided in the folder of information handed out to each parent. There was also a PAL brochure included. The school nurse talked about health assessments and touched on the fact that there would be an incoming student with a peanut allergy. (And as a nervous parent, I scanned the room for a visible reaction but there was none.)

It was left at that. At first, I was disappointed. (I want to protect my son so precautions can't happen fast enough!) But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. I think the school handled the allergy just right for orientation.

The parents there may or may not read the material. Even if they do read it, they won't know how will affect their student. If the school nurse had gone into more detail, much of what was said wouldn't be retained over the summer. At orientation, they took the first step by informing the parents that there will be a student with a serious food allergy and they provided the parents with basic information. More will be done when the time is right.
I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this so drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Here's my son enjoying his Kindergarten kit.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Funny: Food Fun

Last night we were headed out the door right after dinner. (It was a quick, kid-friendly meal of sloppy joes and chips.) We told each of the kids to wash up and they did. When we got to our location, I noticed my 4 year-old had missed washing a bit.

Momma: "How did you get Cheetos on your nose?"

Proud 4 year-old: "I stuck a Cheeto up my nose!!"

And really, what could I say to that? I probably should have given him a talk about not playing with his food but I was just too caught off-guard. I shook my head, tried not to laugh, and finished cleaning his face.

This is just a little proof that it's never dull at my house and I never know what to expect from my 4 year-old.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank #86

I am thankful for my mom.

I am thankful for our mother daughter relationship.

Here's a picture of her painting Elsie's nails.

I am thankful for the life skills she taught me.

Here's my mom working with Elsie in the pool.

I am thankful the memories I have of my childhood (like getting to "help" in the kitchen).

Here's my mom with 2 helpers in the kitchen.

I am thankful for the way she loves me and loves my family.

Here's my mom (and dad) with my kids.

These are a few ways that my mom makes me smile. I thank God for my mom.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Kindergarten Bound with Allergies

My son will be starting kindergarten next year. He is allergic to peanuts.

Many of my regular readers and friends, have asked me to share what I am doing to make sure he is safe at school. This is the first post of what I am sure will be many about our journey into the public school system with a severe peanut allergy (PA).

Above all else, throughout the process of educating and making preparations, make sure you support you school. Be involved in your school.

My PA son is my second child so I already have a student in the school that he will be attending. I became involved with the school right away. I have attended PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings for the last two years. I was involved long before the staff or principal had any idea that I had a child with a peanut allergy.

I know that if you have a PA child that is your oldest child, getting involved at the school will happen when your child gets ready to go to school. That's fine. I just wanted to let you know where I was coming from. I also want you to know that I think being involved helps build relationships. Having healthy relationships with the staff is an essential part of protecting a child with a food allergy.

Step 1: The first thing we did to prepare for school is have an appointment with our son's allergist. We talked to him about our concerns and got his recommendations. We had a lot of questions. Our school has never had a child with a peanut allergy (or another serious food allergy).

Our allergist gave us a "Food Allergy Treatment Form" that we could pass on to the school. This describes symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, what to look for and what steps to take in an emergency. (I can scan this in for you at another time if you are interested.)

Step 2: We scheduled an appointment with the Princial and the school nurse during the Spring of the year prior to when he starts Kindergarten to discuss his peanut allergy and how the school will handle it.

We wanted to be proactive. We want to give the school as much time as possible to make preparations. We were thanked for contacting them so early.

Before the meeting, my husband and I came up with a list of what we wanted to cover during the meeting. My husband checked off the items as we discussed them. I provided a history of David's allergy and gave them a copy of my What I’d Like for You To Know guest post.

Decisions were made such as:
- They will talk about the Peanut Allergy at Kindergarten Orientation. They will hand out information to the parents.
- A letter will be sent home with the kids at the Kindergarten Assessment.
- We will meet with all of the kindergarten teachers and aids (and other staff like PE and music teachers) the week before school starts.
- We will meet with the school nurse to develop an Emergency Health Care Plan.

It was a good meeting. We were educating them about food allergies. We discussed how to keep his room safe. We talked about how to make the school safer for David. (I will write more about the precautions we are taking later.)

Step 3: I believe part of protecting my son means taking initiative. I am providing the school with as much information as I can and I am asking lots questions.

Tomorrow is Kindergarten Orientation. I talked to the school nurse yesterday. She is planning on handing out some PAL information. I stopped by the school this morning.

They printed 1) the information I gave them from FAAN about reading labels. 2) An example label: A bag of lettuce contains a nut warning!

and 3) This info about Foods that Might Contain Nuts

I asked if food was going to be served at the Orientation.

They responded with surprise and a look that said, "I didn't think of that." They brought out a pre-packaged container of cookies from the grocery store bakery. I showed them the peanut warning on the package. They are buying a separate package of Oreos, which will be placed on a separate plate for him.

I will continue to let you know how everything unfolds. Much of what will happen will take place in the weeks before school starts. I am excited and a bit nervous about Kindergarten Orientation tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Lost... in thought

Do you ever have so much on your mind that you cannot think straight?

On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and then remembered the laundry in the washer. I tried unsuccessfully to convince my husband to get out of bed and put the clothes in the dryer. I did not want to get out of bed. He didn't either. I fell asleep wondering if I would need to rewash those clothes.

Sunday morning I discovered that the clothes had not been washed. They were in the washer. The soap had been added. The washer had never even been started.

I get distracted all the time.

I often walk into one room, look around and wonder why I am there. Then, I have to walk back where I came from just to retrack my thought process.

I figured out my problem. My mind is too cluttered.

Just like clutter in my home can keep me from being able to relax. My cluttered mind can keep me from being able to be productive.

I think about too many things at once.

Not long ago, I sat in a meeting unable to concentrate on the topic being discussed. It was a meeting with people discussing a subject that I really care about. I began to make a To Do list just so I wouldn't sit there obsessing about the rest of my day. I got nothing out of that meeting. I also didn't make progress on my To Do list while I sat there. I had too much on my mind and I couldn't focus on what mattered at the moment.

I have decided to declutter my mind. I know it isn't going to be easy.

I have decided I want to be present in my thoughts. I am going to focus on one thing at a time. I will gradually improve.

I want to be present in my thoughts, actively engaged in what I am doing.

The last few times I have cleaned the kitchen, I cleaned it in record time. I didn't take one thing into another room and get distracted by something in that room. I didn't jump on and off the computer as I was working. I didn't remember a phone call I needed to make and stop and get on the phone. I focused on the task of cleaning the kitchen. It was simple and quick. I felt satisfied when I was done. I didn't spend hours trying to get the kitchen clean.

I want to be present in my thoughts, attentive to those that are talking to me.

I can have so much on my mind that I don't listen. I care about those around me and I need to show them by giving them my attention. When I am distracted by my agenda or my next question, I am not listening to my spouse. When I am thinking about what I need to do next, I am not listening to my chilren. I will give my attention to the person I am listening to.

I want to be present in my thoughts, less distracted by issues that affect my emotions.

The other morning I woke up and checked my email. I read an email that frustrated me. A few minutes later my husband told me something that I disagreed with. I was extremely irritated. We had a heated discussion. We ended up working it out that day. It was a day or so later when I recognized and apologized for letting an unrelated situation affect my emotions.

I am convinced that having an overactive, burdened mind interfers with my relationships, my productivity, my common sense, and my happiness. It enables overreactions and poor decisions.

I am paying attention to my thoughts. When I recognize a distraction, I refocus my attention. I am training my mind.

This was put on my heart this week when I realized that even when I am not constantly on the go, my mind can be swirling with out-of-control activity.

I encourage you to take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Time To Relax

I am going to take a nice long bath today... and I am going to lock the bathroom door.

This is not going to happen.

This will be me.

Friday, May 01, 2009

What's Feasible When Your Brother has a Peanut Allergy?

Jonathan brought this paper home this week. One of the questions he missed made me smile. The teacher circled the correct answer. He put a big "NO" next to "making a peanut butter sandwich". I love it! Apparently, making a cat sing is more feasible to him that making a peanut butter sandwich.

By the way, the definition of feasible is: Doable, possible, achievable, workable. Making a peanut butter sandwich in our house is not feasible.

I think Jonathan should have gotten extra credit.