A very proud Mommy Moment :)

Today I got a call from J.T.’s school nurse. She was letting me know that in art class the students were using egg cartons…and that J.T. was choosing not to participate. After the art teacher checked in with the nurse, the nurse tried telling J.T. that the cartons were safe for him to touch and when he still refused she offered to call me, I think expecting me to say it was OK. Which I immediately said it was not. Egg’s are a life threatening allergy for J.T. and our thinking about them is very black and white. Eggs are unsafe. There is no gray area where J.T. has to make decisions about when or why they “might” be safe. He knows they could make him very sick and not to come into contact with them. Someday he will have to make those decisions for himself, but not in first grade. 

The nurse was concerned that J.T. would feel left out if he didn’t participate in the project, he was more concerned that he would get sick if he touched the egg cartons. I was concerned that it was happening at all (since it states in his health plan that all project materials are supposed to be allergen free). But the overwhelming emotion that I felt through all of this was pride. My first grader stood up for himself, and not just to his peers but to his adult teachers. He made it clear that he was uncomfortable and that he was not going to participate in an activity that he felt was harmful to his health. He understands his allergies and the risks involved and that is so important. In the end, he didn’t feel left out or different and he didn’t let his allergies get him down. He had a great day and came home to 2 super proud parents!

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Dairy and Soy free Peppermint Stick ice cream

Oh, the weather outside is frightful! Up here in the Northeast we got 2 decent sized snowstorms within a few days of each other and in between we had some bitter cold. Probably not the kind of weather that would normally make you crave ice cream, but there is something so perfect about peppermint stick ice cream in the winter. And I’m pregnant…so my normal, seasonally appropriate cravings are all off.

This recipe is originally from the Speed Bump Kitchen but because we are also soy free I needed to adapt it to our needs. The end result is a creamy, refreshing ice cream with just the right amount of peppermint flavor. Delicious!

Candy Cane Smashing Machine!

Candy Cane Smashing Machine!

Nope, Not having any fun here :)

Nope, Not having any fun here 🙂


Ingredients

1 can of full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated until chilled, I kept mine in the fridge overnight)
3 cups of coconut milk (the kind in a box, I used So Delicious)
1/2 a bag of mini-marshmallows (10.5 oz size)
1/2 Cup of sugar
2 Tablespoons of mild oil (I used canola)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 candy canes, put into plastic bags and crushed
Few drops red food coloring (optional)

025

Place the marshmallows in a large microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute, they will expand quite a bit. Whisk until smooth. Open your can of chilled coconut milk. There will be a thick, waxy layer on top, scoop this layer and any other solids out into a bowl and discard all of the water left behind. Add 3 cups of boxed coconut milk and whisk together. Slowly pour coconut milk and sugar into marshmallows. Microwave for another 3 minutes, stirring once every minute. Add the oil, the peppermint extract and the food coloring and stir. Cool down in the freezer or refrigerator before pouring into an ice cream maker. I let mine cool for about 4 hours in the fridge. Follow instructions for your ice cream maker (I love my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer attachment!) At the end of freezing, pour in the bags of crushed candy canes and mix well. The ice cream at this point will be a very soft frozen consistency. Not ideal, but definitely good enough for a taste 🙂 Transfer the ice cream to a freezer container and allow to freeze overnight. Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

Yum!

Yum!

A brave and honest message

The story of Giovanni Cipriano is a heartbreaking one. Giovanni,a young boy just starting highschool, mistakenly ingested peanuts and went into Anaphylactic shock. Sadly, after several weeks of being in a coma, Giovanni passed away on October 18, 2013. Giovanni’s heartbroken parents have come forward after this tragedy to urge other parents of children with food allergies to have a food allergy action plan. I commend the Cipriano’s for their bravery and honesty in coming forward with this message. Watch the video and if you are the parent of a child with food allergies take this message to heart. Create a plan, find an allergist you trust, educate yourself, your family and your child, and advocate for their safety whenever necessary.

Watch the video here. You can also visit Giovanni’s GoFundMe page.

The Hard Part

When I tell people about JT’s allergies and about all of the precautions we have to take the most common response I hear is “that must be so hard”. People hear about how you grocery shop, what you cook for dinner and how you prepare for outings and they say “I don’t know how you do it!”. And really, there is nothing wrong with this response. It’s not insensitive or rude and I don’t mean to imply that it is. I’m sure in a different life I would have had a similar response. But, things like shopping and food prep aren’t hard. Does reading EVERY label in the grocery store make shopping take twice as long? Sure. Does finding (or creating) recipes that are safe for JT and still yummy and healthy enough to serve my family require more research? Of course. Is not being able to just spontaneously grab dinner out at a restaurant inconvenient? You bet. But those things aren’t the hard part.

The hard part has nothing to do with time or convenience. The hard part is that gut-wrenching hour after you notice a few unexplainable hives on your childs face and you are just watching and waiting for an allergic reaction. It’s rubbing your childs back as they retch and vomit for 6 hours straight because tests results have shown that they have outgrown an allergy, but not an intolerance. It’s seeing your brave child’s lip tremble as they hold back tears at a birthday party and the cake that they can’t eat has their favorite character on it. It’s emergency room visits, hospital stays, ambulance rides, testing and testing and more testing. Hard is dropping your child off at school KNOWING that at some point they will be in a room with something that could kill them and hoping, just HOPING, today isn’t the day you get a call from the nurse.

That’s what is hard. The other stuff is easy.

allergy safe Halloween

As Halloween quickly approaches (eek! I guess it’s time to finish up the kids costumes!), I wanted to share some ideas for staying safe with food allergies while you trick or treat this year.

FAAN has some great trick-or-treat tips here.
Click here for more ideas from Kids With Food Allergies.
You can also check out my Halloween Post from last year.

Happy Halloween!Have fun and stay safe!

Fare Walk 2013

This past weekend was the Massachusetts FARE walk for food allergies. The Massachusetts walk alone helped to raise over $95,000 for food allergy awareness, support and research. Our little team, “Team JT”, did it’s part by raising over $1000 and we feel pretty great about it!

It was a very soggy day, but we didn’t let that get us down. Everyone there was ready to walk and have fun. JT spent the day feeling very special that all of those people had come out to walk for kids just like him, and he was also proud to be doing his part as well, as he kept reminding me that HE was walking for THEM. He’s got such a kind heart 🙂

It was really great to see the support for and from food allergy families. I can’t wait to walk again next year!

Thank you to everyone who helped with the fundraising for Team JT and a VERY special thank you to Aunty Janeen, Uncle Kev, Aunty Katie, Erin, Jenna, Reese and Aunty Kellie for all of your support! We love you!!

Time for school

This summer has absolutely flown by! And while a week ago I was hanging onto the sunshine and warmth for dear life, this week I suddenly feel ready for crisper air, sweaters and soup in the crock-pot. I think it may have a lot to do with the fact that JT had a very succesful first week in first grade and so my fears of him starting in a new school with a new teacher have been relieved and I’m starting to relax…a little bit anyway.

Ready for first grade!

Ready for first grade!

Our school system has been wonderful, but I know that I still have to work hard to advocate for JT. It’s really important for me to start making sure all of our medication and forms are up to date and that the staff is fully aware of any updates or changes to his medical history well before that first day of school. I also have to be sure to educate myself on any changes in school and classroom policies. Being prepared helps me to be able to enjoy sending JT off to start the new year.

Over the summer I was able to get in touch with JT’s new teacher and we chatted about his allergies. I immediately felt like he was in good hands. The first thing that helped was that his teacher taught at his old school last year and so she already knew of JT and his allergies. Second, she is good friends with his teacher from last year and so they were able to discuss, at length, what worked in her classroom and what didn’t work (I’m confident that this info would have been relayed regardless of friendship, but still, I think it was helpful). Third, his new teacher has severe food allergies. Knowing she has food allergies means that she “gets it” on a level that many people do not, it also means she can be a role model to JT as a succesful adult who lives with severe food allergies and that is really important for him (and me) to see. Now, this doesn’t mean that a teacher who does not have food allergies won’t “get it”. JT’s teacher last year was nothing short of amazing and didn’t have food allergies. It just means that I have to do less explaining and quite honestly, less hoping that she understands.

Aside from JT’s teacher, there are other factors that have made me feel confident in this new group of people who are responsible for JT on a daily basis. The first is that his classroom (which includes several children with food allergies) is the closest to the nurses office (where his epi-pen is kept). Also, they will continue to have a peanut free table in the cafeteria. Even though peanut is not JT’s worst allergy, I continue to have him sit at the peanut free table because I feel like that way the lunch room monitors always know where he is. After speaking with the nurse we were reassured that the school would continue to follow JT’s individualized health plan from last year. Some of the accommodations stated in his plan are that children will wash hands after lunch and snack, that JT has his own trash barrel in the cafeteria so that he doesn’t have to touch a barrel that has been contaminated with his allergens and that the we can provide extra snacks to be kept in the classroom just in case something were to come in to contact with JT’s food (for example, a milk spill). In addition, classroom celebrations continue to be non-food based – yay!

I feel like our school system has some great policies in place and they have been willing to work with us to make modifications that will keep JT safe. I wish that every child and family with food allergies had a similar experience but I know that is not the case. If you feel like your school system is not doing all it can for your child’s safety, I would strongly suggest having your child put on a 504 plan. Every child deserves the right to learn in an environment that is safe for them!

Why we walk – Fare Walk for Food Allergies

This year our family has decided to put a team together to participate in the Fare walk for food allergies. This walk helps to raise money and awareness for food allergy reasearch and education. Of course that is a big part of why we walk, to raise money and help to fund this wonderful organization. But, this year we walk for another reason. We walk to show J.T. that he is not the only one, that there are other kids just like him. We walk to show him that there is an organization and a community of people who are on his side and willing to fight for him, that there are people out there who are doing research and looking for cures, and above all that he has family and friends who love and support him. So join us for the walk if you are able or donate money to our team if you can. I’m so excited for J.T. to have an experience where his allergies make him feel included rather than left out. I can’t wait for him to have a day where we get to celebrate him and all of our allergy successes (4 years with no E.R. visits!!). We hope you can celebrate with us!

To make a donation click here!