JT has been in school for two months now so I just wanted to update you on how it’s going. I was really nervous about sending him to school at the beginning of the year (you can read about some of my concerns here) but it’s actually been amazing! He loves it, I love it, everyone is happy. His teacher is super attentive, his school nurse is very involved, he has friends that sit at his lunch table with him and (as far as I know) there haven’t been any allergy related instances that have made him feel left out. His classroom celebrations are not food based so there aren’t any situations where everyone but him is eating a special cupcake. He has seen the nurse a few times due to a belly ache but none of these seem to have been food related and the nurse is great about keeping me informed. I actually think a few of those “belly aches” may have been an excuse to go chat with the nurse, he likes her a lot and he’s very talkative! He’s never come home itchy or rashy, which is incredible! We went to a birthday party just this past weekend that involved kids eating pizza and then playing on an inflatable play structure and by the time we got home he was all red and splotchy from touching the surfaces that kids had been touching with cheesy hands. I’m confident that the kids are washing hands after eating like they are supposed to (according to JT’s health plan) and that the cafeteria is cleaned after lunch and before it becomes the gym. The entire staff seems to really be paying attention.
Aside from having our allergy related concerns relieved (really it’s never totally relieved, I still keep my phone right by my side all day, just in case, and still sometimes have a knot in my stomach at lunch time) all of the normal concerns have passed too. JT is making friends, having fun and learning! Watching him learn to read is so fascinating! We have our first teacher conference coming up next week and I’m excited to talk with her. In our town the kids go to 5 schools before reaching senior year so it seems just as the kids (and parents) get used to one school it’s off to another, I can only hope each transition is as smooth as this one. Oh…and he is still being driven to school every day but after hearing that the bus ride is 45 minutes long (we live about a 5 minute WALK from the school) I’ve decided to be OK with that (for now)!
When I started this blog I expected that it would be a good place to direct other parents who had questions about food allergies. I often have friends refer their friends to me for recipes and advice. I thought if I started chronicling all of that info in one place, I could give out my blog name rather than rewriting the information all over again. I honestly never expected that people I didn’t know would find and follow my blog. When that started happening I was very pleasantly surprised! Now I’ve been nominated for the Reality Blog Award and I’m so honored! KMTREAT at Allergictolifemybattle thought enough of my little blog to add it to her list of nominations! Thank you very much!! Check out her blog to learn more about multiple chemical sensitivities, there is alot of great information over there! Also keep an eye out for her upcoming book!
When receiving this award many bloggers will answer a series of questions. I will follow KMTREAT’s lead and tell you 7 things about me you may not know….
1. I love antiques and vintage. I collect vintage Pyrex, jadeite and aprons.
2. My husband and I were highschool sweethearts and I’m still crazy about him!
3. My only allergy is to melons.
4. I’ve just recently restarted an old book binding hobby and I’m thinking of opening an etsy shop.
5. I live within 5 miles of my parents, my sister and my in-laws…and I love it!
6. I really dislike driving. I’m a passenger whenever that’s an option.
7. I am an accomplished bargain hunter.
I nominate the following blogs for the Reality Blog Award. On a daily basis these blogs provide me with recipes, ideas, inspiration and hope. Keep up the great work!
Food Allergy Experience
Celiac and Allergy Adventures
The Other Courtney
The Crunchy Cook
As the parent of a child with multiple, severe, food allergies you have to rely heavily on trust. You have to trust that the ingredient label on the food you are serving your child is accurate, that the equipment that the food was made on was free from cross-contamination and that the regulations that the FDA has in place for labeling allergens in foods are safe and fair. If your child eats at restaurants you have to trust that the chef is highly trained in food allergies, that the kitchen is aware of cross-contamination and that the wait staff has brought you the appropriate meal. If your child eats lunch at school you have to trust that the table they are sitting at is clean, that they are not sharing food with other kids and that every person in the building is aware of your child’s allergies. This is something I struggle with. I don’t trust other people to feed my kid. When it comes to JT’s allergies I don’t think there is anyone else in the world who is as aware as I am, as careful as I am or as knowledgable as I am. I also don’t fault other parents for being more trusting than I am. I just can’t bring myself to get to that place. I bring food for JT wherever we go with the exception of my Parents house, my in-laws house and my sister’s house. And even at their houses, I double-check ingredients, I ask questions, I dig boxes out of the trash and if in doubt about anything I make the decision that he doesn’t eat it. I even double-check things Chris brings home from the grocery store!
I always think it is so kind when people want to make food for JT. Just this past weekend a few of my girlfriends and I were planning to get together and some of them wanted to be able to bring something that JT could eat. And I said “No Thank you, I won’t let him eat it anyway.” And then I thought “Wow, I must sound like such a brat.” These wonderful people are offering to make sure my son is included and here I am telling them NO! But the truth is, to me, it’s just not worth the risk. What if they didn’t understand all the ways that egg can hide in a list of ingredients? What if they got distracted and used the spoon that was used earlier to stir milk into their coffee? I feel like I’m not just protecting my kid, I’m protecting them. No one else understands the responsibility of feeding a child with food allergies except for their parents. And I can’t imagine how they would feel if something they made for him caused a serious reaction. Actually I can, because I’m not perfect and even though I’m the only one I really trust to feed JT, I have made mistakes. And it sucks. It feels really, really shitty to sit in a doctor’s office with your kid who’s rashy and itchy and puking and miserable just praying that he’ll get better fast and knowing that it could have been prevented. So to all of the family and friends who might offer to make food for a child with food allergies only for their parents to turn you down, please understand how much they appreciate it. If you still want to help out offer to prepare a craft, make up a food-free goodie bag or bring a fun board game instead.
I had no idea that this was possible. I found this amazing recipe for gingerbread marshmallows by Fat Girl Trapped In A Skinny Body on pinterest a few months back. I pinned it because I thought they looked pretty but never thought I would actually make them. Then last week I was watching the Food Network and Ina Garten was making her version of homemade marshmallows. Her method was very close to the gingerbread marshmallows and watching Ina make hers I thought “I can do this!”. So I did. And it was amazing! They were much easier than I thought they would be, much less messy than I had expected, and soooo delicious. I followed the gingerbread recipe exactly. The only thing I would change next time I make them is to use more cinnamon and fewer ground gloves. The cloves are a little “spicy” for my kids.
Two other things I learned while making these marshmallows –
1. If you don’t have a candy thermometer (I don’t) you can use this method to determine the temperature of your sugar syrup.
2. If you don’t have confectioners sugar (I didn’t) you can put regular granulated sugar in the blender or food processor for a few minutes!
In Hot Chocolate!
My kids are picky eaters. Really picky eaters. With JT it only seems natural. While he was learning about the different tastes, textures and smells of foods he was also realizing that much of what he was putting into his body was making him sick. JT has HATED trying new foods his whole life and I can’t blame him (even though I get extremely frustrated). He wants to stick with what he knows. Not just what he knows tastes good but what he knows doesn’t make him feel awful. Dinner time has always been a struggle for me. I need to feed JT foods that are safe, healthy and that he will ACTUALLY eat. It’s not easy and I sometimes end up just wanting to throw my hands up. I’m sure other parents can relate to cooking a nice healthy and safe meal for your family only to have your kids whine and cry that they don’t like it. It’s so discouraging. I have tried every technique I could find to help my picky eaters but nothing seemed to work. Then, out of the blue, JT turned a corner! For 14 nights in a row he has eaten dinner! Without whining and complaining! I wish I could tell you I had figured out the key to getting picky kids to eat (if I had I would be using on my super-picky-even-though-she-has-no-allergies 2-year-old) but that’s not the case, I didn’t do anything. He just ate a great dinner one night and hasn’t stopped since. It’s amazing! Dinner is SO much more relaxed now! Of course there have been some easy meals in there, the pasta, hot dog, chicken nugget kind of meals. But there has also been baked chicken, pork chops, chicken and rice, salad and tacos. Maybe it’s the age, maybe at age five boys finally start to appreciate food, I’m not sure. But I am sharing this just so that other parents know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although, if anyone does know the trick to helping a super picky eater please share. I’m hoping I don’t have to wait 3 more years for Molly to get to this point!
I wrote this post just the other day about providing for a child with food allergies during a disaster (not so much about how to do it but just that I was starting to think about it). Today I received an email from FAAN with the following information in it. I will be sending along a box to help out and I hope you will too!!
After Hurricane Sandy: Food Allergy Families in Need
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy. Several New Jersey food allergy support groups have mobilized in the aftermath of the storm and have put out a call for allergy-friendly non-perishable foods for members of the food allergy community who are in need of safe foods. If you can help, please send a variety of foods (focusing on the top eight food allergens plus sesame, as well as gluten-free foods), labeled in a box as “Allergy Friendly,” to either of the following food banks:
The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Inc. 3300 Route 66 Neptune, NJ 07753
The Community Food Bank of NJ 31 Evans Terminal Hillside, NJ 07205