Diligence in 2015

I got an email from wordpress the other day to tell me about my “2014 year in blogging” and I remembered “OH Yeah! I have a blog!”. Looking at my measly stats from 2014 (I wrote 1 post all year…ONE!), it would appear¬†that I had absolutely nothing to blog about OR that I fell off the face of the earth. So, what has really been keeping me from blogging all this time? This adorable face…

Welcome Cora!

Welcome Cora!

I have 3 kids!!! Life with 3 kids isn’t any more difficult than life with 2, but it’s so.much.busier. And so, this blog has suffered, or disappeared really. I’m not sure if this post is my attempt at making time to continue to write about being the Mom of a child with LTA’s or my farewell to blogging. But, just in case, I thought I should at least show off my beautiful family one more time.

My loves

My loves

And while I have you here…a quick update. We have made some good progress working with the school system to bring consistency to their food allergy policies, J.T. continues to handle his food allergies well (in and out of school), Our new addition shows no signs of food allergies (fingers crossed) and my resolution for 2015 is to continue to advocate for J.T. and to have renewed diligence to make sure we aren’t getting lazy or complacent. Wishing you the best in 2015!!

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 ūüôā


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 ūüôā Transfer the ice cream to a freezer container and allow to freeze overnight. Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

Yum!

Yum!

allergy transition day

In our school district the students move through five schools before graduating. And after an amazing and succesful year at JT’s current school, it will be time for him to move on. As the parent of a child with medical concerns, all of this switching is extremely nerve-wracking. Just as you get comfortable with one school’s staff and policies, it’s time to change. And it feels like starting over. I remember how emotional I was sending JT to kindergarten but I think I may be more of a mess when he leaves. They have been just wonderful in so many ways.

Fortunately, his next school (grades 1-3) has already anticipated some of the needs of the families with food allergies. They offered an “allergy transition day” for students and their parents about 2 weeks ago. We were able to sit with the nurse and the head of the cafeteria staff. The cafeteria manager explained how lunch works and how student’s allergens are entered into their computer system so that the cafeteria staff is constantly aware of which things a child can and can not eat. She also offered for parents to go into the cooler and freezer to read ingredient labels. JT will always bring lunch from home so we passed on that, but it’s good to know that the option is there if he were to ever outgrow some of his allergies (fingers crossed!). We were able to peek at some of their packaged snacks and it turns out that JT can have some of them, so we could make a note in his lunch account specifying that he is ONLY to eat the pre-packaged (crackers, cookies, etc.). That would be a great option if we were ever to forget lunch or if at some point he just starts feeling left out. Next the nurse explained how the children with allergies are generally grouped together so that those teachers can be extra vigilant in their classrooms and that they will be given a safe place to eat snack within those “peanut safe” classrooms. They will continue the policy of having children wipe up hands after lunch and snack with the allergy parents providing the wipes. That is great for us because we provided all the wipes for JT’s class for this entire school year. We were shown where the epi-pens are kept (centrally located in the nurses office) and we talked about the “peanut free” table at lunch. As parents, we are given the option of having our kids sit there or not. JT will remain at the peanut free table. They wrapped it up with some questions and a tour of the cafeteria and nurses office and we were on our way.

Just offering this program is a great first step and offering it before the end of this school year, rather than the beginning of next year is really helpful. No one wants to go into the school year with lots of unanswered questions. The meeting showed that they were aware of the severity of food allergies and that they would be open to discussions and questions regarding them. I was especially happy to see that parents were able to get into the cafeteria to check out ingredients and that children will continue to wash up after eating, also the nurse made clear that she is available to go over concerns with us. I was disappointed with the phrase “peanut safe” and with the location of the epi-pens. I still after the meeting don’t know what “peanut safe” means exactly. It’s not peanut free, which is an actual thing. I guess it means that the teachers are aware of the allergies and extra vigilant. Does that mean the classrooms are also “dairy safe” and “egg safe”? Perhaps “allergy safe” would be a better phrase? My opinion is that “peanut safe” is just a buzzword to keep parents happy, but it didn’t impress us. As far as the epi-pen location goes, I’m actually ok with it while the children are inside the school, it’s the playground I’m worried about. The playground is not very close to the school and I feel like if JT were to have a reaction on the playground it would be too late by the time their fastest running teacher got his medication to him. I’ll be contacting them about that before the end of the school year to see what can be done.

Overall, I think this meeting was a great idea and I appreciate the timing of it. It was also really great to see some of the other families who have severely food allergic children. It’s great to know that there are other families to look to for support if needed.

Wheat free play dough

Fortunately for our family,  JT outgrew his wheat allergy when he was two. But I still remember the days of worrying about wheat. Wheat was a very difficult allergen to avoid not only in food but in craft projects as well. Play dough and macaroni necklaces were out of the question. JT has always loved sensory play so I remember how thrilled I was when I found this recipe for wheat free play dough. Because it is made with rice flour it does tend to be a little grittier feeling than regular play dough, but that was no big deal for us, especially since JT had nothing to compare it to.

Here is the recipe :

1 1/4 C rice flour

1/2 C salt

2 tsp cream of tartar (despite the word “cream” this is dairy free)

1 C water (you would add a few drops of food coloring to the water if you want colorful dough)

1 Tbsp oil

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large pot. Mix in water and oil. Stir constantly over medium heat until the dough starts to form a ball, this should take about 5 minutes. Let cool and then knead the dough.  If you find that it is too sticky you can knead in a little more rice flour until you get a good consistency. Store in an airtight container.

If cooking up your own play dough is not your style Colorations makes a wheat and gluten-free play dough.

Avoiding eggs

JT’s egg allergy is his most severe. His allergist¬†was baffled¬†when he first tested JT because he had never seen an egg allergy so severe. The allergist refers to this allergy as JT’s “life or death” allergy.¬† We take it¬†VERY seriously.¬†When hearing¬†about a severe allergy¬†most people will assume that the allergy is to peanuts. JT’s classroom at school will be peanut free and he will sit at a peanut free lunch table. And while he is allergic to peanuts and should certainly avoid them they aren’t the allergen that we are most concerned with. There will be no egg free classroom or egg free lunch table so we have to rely on the tactics we’ve relied on his whole life. Being vigilant about what we are feeding him and¬†teaching him to never eat foods that he is unsure of (in this case anything I didn’t pack for lunch).

So, what does¬†JT need to avoid for his egg free diet? Well, eggs of course, we don’t even have them in our house and we don’t take him to restaurants that are serving breakfast. They are probably the thing my husband and I miss the most and any time we leave the kids over night the first thing we do in the morning is head out to breakfast.¬†We also avoid¬†baked goods that aren’t baked by me (or by JT’s Nana or Grammy), many breads, ice creams and puddings, meatloaf, casseroles, mayonnaise, some crackers and pretzels, egg noodles, canned soups with noodles, french toast, most battered or breaded foods, meatballs, fudge, some marshmallows, fluffernutter, some salad dressings, tartar sauce, and anything else that could have egg as a binder or an egg white wash on it…which reminds me, sometimes jelly beans are glazed with egg white.

Learning to read nutrition labels takes a while. As a general rule, if I come across a word I don’t recognize I google it to find out what it is before deciding if it’s something JT can eat. Over time, you will become more familiar with labels and it gets easier.¬†¬†Here is a list of other words that appear in ingredients that should be avoided with an egg allergy. I don’t come¬†across ¬†these very often, but am always on the look out just in case.

albumin, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, meringue, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovitellin, Simplesse

If you are avoiding eggs be sure to read this tip about baking without eggs!

Trip to the Allergist

JT had a follow up with his allergist today. There wasn’t any blood or skin testing (which of course thrilled JT), we just chatted about the upcoming school year and any concerns we have.¬†His allergist is based out of Lahey clinic in Burlington and he is AMAZING! He always seems a little stand off-ish at first, but eventually JT gets him laughing and joking. And to be honest,¬†I’m not concerned about¬†his allergist having the best bedside manner, I want an allergist who knows what he’s talking about. And this guy does. If anyone is looking for a¬†great allergist in the area let me know and I’ll get you his info.

I told him about JT’s run in with the cows (read about it here)¬†and he said its certainly possible that JT has a cattle dander allergy. He added that it’s very rare but JT is a pretty rare case.¬† It’s not something we care to test for, we will just avoid dairy farms to the best of our ability!

The Dr. did share his concerns about JT outgrowing his milk and egg allergies. Most kids outgrow their allergies between the ages of 3 and 5. Peanuts can be a bit of an exception as it is a harder allergy to shake. JT is 5 and as of November his egg allergy had gotten only slightly better and the milk allergy had gotten worse. The severity of these 2 specific allergies is pretty rare.¬†So given this information he explained that JT is in a small subset of kids who either don’t outgrow their allergies until they are between 10-15 or don’t outgrow them at all. While this is discouraging, it’s not surprising. We’ve known from the very beginning that his allergies were rare in severity and he has outgrown so few of them in his 5 years. My main concern is him outgrowing them before they really affect him in social situations. I want him to be able¬†to go¬†on a date and order a meal straight off the menu, I want him to be able to¬†order a pizza when he’s pulling an all-nighter studying for finals, I want him to outgrow¬†them before I have to pass the torch and have him take sole responsability for what he eats. Hopefully if he doesn’t outgrow the allergies on his own there will be a medical breakthrough that will help him and¬†people like him.

Marshmallow bundles

We tried this dessert¬†with crescent rolls the other night and it was a huge hit with the kids. It was easy, fast¬†and fun to make, JT safe, and the kids thought they were delicious. We don’t do a ton of baking here, mostly due to my lack of skill, so when something this easy comes along I get very excited! I don’t¬†think I would necessarily entertain with this dessert but for a rainy day at home they are perfect. ¬†I¬†snapped a few quick pictures of the kids while they were helping me make them. Maybe next time I’ll remember to clear all the junk from my kitchen before breaking out the camera!

JT and Molly, excited to try a new treat!

Marshmallow Bundles

1 package of Pillsbury original crescent rolls

8 Marshmallows (we usually use Kraft but are also able to use the Market Basket brand)

1/4 Cup melted “butter” (We use Smart Balance buttery spread with flax, it’s dairy and soy free. Use whatever “butter” works for you)

1/4 Cup of cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Open crescent rolls and separate on perforated lines to make 8 triangles. Dip 1 marshmallow into melted butter (or substitute) and then into cinnamon and sugar mixture until totally coated. Place coated marshmallow onto 1 dough triangle and roll the crescent roll around the marshmallow. Pinch edges to completely seal the marshmallow in. Continue with remaining marshmallows.

Once you have your 8 little marshmallow bundles there are 2 options. We placed ours on a lined cookie sheet and put them into the oven. You could also grease 8 sections of a muffin pan and place the bundles into the muffin pan to kind of catch the marshmallow that escapes while cooking. bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

Easy enough for the kids to do!

Helping Mommy!

I think she likes it!

Delicious!