Monday, November 29, 2010

In Office Food Challenge {Sesame}

Today we did an IOFC for sesame. We had to be there at 8:40, which probably doesn't sound too bad, except driving from where we live, to where the doctor's office is, isn't the easiest thing during rush hour =) But we made it in time (barely), and even scored a front row parking spot. I took that as a good sign!

For the challenge, I brought in a package of Stella D'Oro sesame breadsticks - I chose that brand because they labeled for sesame on their packages, so I took it as a good sign that they were on top of labeling, since sesame isn't a requirement. The challenge started with them taking Luke's blood pressure, and then bringing in 2 sesame seeds. Getting him to eat the seeds was a bit of an issue, but nothing that a few sips of water didn't take care of.

After 15 minutes they came in and looked for any sign of hives, took his blood pressure again, and then moved on to 1/16th of the bread stick. The entire challenge went like that - a slightly bigger serving of the breadstick, followed by 15 minutes of waiting, then observing and taking his blood pressure before being given the next bigger serving.

At one point I found a few small red bumps on his lower back -the allergist decided that they weren't hives. Other than that, there weren't any questions- he passed the challenge!

This is great news for us - no more worrying about sesame. Sesame is HARD. Sesame isn't one of the top 8 allergens, so food companies aren't required to label for it, or even include it in the ingredient listing. If you see an ingredients listing and it says "spices", sesame could be lumped into that.

I will say though, that there is a slight downside to it. When his anaphylactic reaction happened after eating at Burger King, I immediately suspected the sesame seeds on the buns. And I did this because a couple weeks earlier, he had eaten a cracker that had sesame seeds on it, and he had gotten a few hives around his mouth. So when we saw the allergist after the BK debacle, he did a skin test for sesame and it came back positive. So even after our current allergist determined that he has a major egg allergy, I held onto some hope that the reaction at BK was a combo of egg+sesame making things worse.

When that reaction happened, he had eaten a tiny amount of the cheeseburger (just picture a Burger King Jr Whopper, and imagine how much mayo is on there- then imagine how big the bites would be from a tiny 18 month old -not very big, so not a whole lot of mayo consumption there). With sesame out of the picture as being a possible issue that day, it shows how serious his egg allergy is. And that, of course, scares me. There's a pattern there between the egg reaction, and the peanut reaction - two tiny bites, very little consumption, and a severe reaction.

Also, another point here- this is a good example of how the only true food allergy test is what happens when you EAT the food item. Skin prick tests (SPTs) can be wrong. I'm thankful that his current doctor knew enough to do a challenge, so that we wouldn't have to go through unnecessary avoidance/stress.

Next up - She wants us to give him shrimp. His blood test was negative for shrimp and crab, but I'm still a bit nervous. We'll be trying it this coming weekend though. Fingers crossed that it goes well!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Orthopedic Visit {happiness!}

Today was a great day- Luke had an afternoon appointment with his orthopedist in Richmond, so I decided to make a day of it. We headed out early this morning,and spent a couple of hours at the newest Children's Museum of Richmond branch in Short Pump. The boys loved it. It's smaller than the original location, and seems to be a bit more for the younger kids (I would say 2-4 is a good age range), but we all had a good time. From there we grabbed a quick lunch, then we were off to the ortho's office.

This is where the day got really good- Luke's feet are "perfect" according to the doctor! I knew that they were looking much better, but hearing him say that was just such a wonderful thing. He said unless I notice something not right with his feet, Luke is done with the ortho visits. That made for one happy mama =)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nut and Egg Free Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

We did it, we made it through celebration #2 - Luke's 2nd birthday party! Everyone had a great time, and I'd really like to share the details of the party, from the decorations to the nut and egg free food.

Luke LOVES Mickey Mouse - give him a book with the Clubhouse friends on it, and he'll be entertained for quite awhile. He loves to point at the different characters, and ask me "who's that?". So going with a Mickey Mouse theme was an easy decision (although many times I was tempted to change after finding one cute idea after another for different themes!).


As I posted about awhile back, I found a template for making Mickey Mouse shaped invitations at My Party File. I used red and black cardstock to make the invitations, and printed the wording from a Word document.


I took a lot of ideas from various blogs and webpages to come up with the decorations for Luke's party.

I made a banner showing a picture of Luke from each month over the last year. I found the idea at Annie's Eats. She had a Dr. Seuss party for her son's 2nd birthday, and yes, it was one of the "maybe I should go with this theme!" pages for me =) Only problem is, when I made the banner, I did everything backwards. Oh well, it was still cute!

I made another banner from the Playhouse Disney Celebration Center with Luke's name.


I just realized that I didn't take any pictures of the buffet, ergh!  Oh well, just imagine how yummy it was =)

On the menu were hot ham and cheese sliders, the recipe came from Annie's Eats. Super YUM-O! I used Martin's Potato Bread slider buns, and they were nut/egg free. Omitted the mayo from the recipe to make it safe.

We also had Sausage and Cheese Balls using safe ingredients, Hebrew National mini pigs in a blanket (found in the frozen section in a big party size box, kids love them!), chips, Trader Joe's Pretzel Slims and a veggie platter.

Cupcakes, Ice Cream Pie {and more decorations}

I made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, another Annie's Eats recipe. I substituted the 2 eggs that the recipe called for with 2 servings of Ener-G Egg Replacer. I have to say that I was very pleased with how well they turned out. I've never made the recipe using regular eggs, but I can't imagine they could be any better. For the frosting I made an additional 50% more frosting (as she recommends), and I was still slightly short - I must like to pile the frosting on! I reduced the powdered sugar a little - in our trial run two weeks ago, Cody said it was too sweet (and I agreed). Reducing it some made it perfect.

Normally we get an ice cream cake for birthday parties, to go along with the regular cake.  I looked everywhere for something that didn't have a nut allergy warning on it.  I've been told that Friendly's Ice Cream Cakes are safe, but the closest Friendly's shop is a good 45 minute drive, and I just wasn't going for that.  I thought about making my own, but I had enough to take care of.  That's when I got the idea of looking to see what Trader Joe's had in their frozen section.  I trust Trader Joe's labeling, and his allergist agrees with that.  I lucked out and found a frozen Mud Pie without any nut/egg allergy warning on it!  It was deeeeelicious!

The cupcake toppers came from Shay Bock's Mickey Mouse Party. She offers free Mickey Mouse birthday printables that can be customized. I don't have the right programs on my computer, so I printed out what I could, and made my own customized ones (the Luke toppers). I was happy with how they turned out.

Luke checking out his cake

Going by this picture, I think Luke enjoyed his party!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Customer Service - Swans Down Cake Flour

I love it when a company takes the time to respond to a question!

I posted last week that I was having trouble finding a brand of cake flour that doesn't include an egg allergy warning. I found a brand, Swans Lake, at Harris Teeter over the weekend that didn't list anything on the box. I bought it with the intention of contacting the company, and crossed my fingers that it would work out.

I received an email response from the company today...

November 10, 2010

Thank you for your message concerning Swans Down Cake Flour.

Swans Down Cake Flour does not contain eggs, peanuts or tree nuts.

Cross Contamination - Swans Down Cake Flour

Swans Down Cake Flour has its own line and only Swans Down Cake Flour is packaged on this line so there is not a chance of cross over contamination.

Thank you for contacting us and your interest in our cake flours.

Sincerely yours,

Brenda Macaluso

Consumer Affairs Manager

Reily Foods Company

YAY! Problem solved! And, the company earned a gold star in my book for not only responding to my email, but responding to the entire question (many times companies will respond with an answer to only part of the question).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Early Intervention

I took the plunge today - I finally called our county's Early Intervention program for Luke. It's kind of funny - this time last year we were doing the same thing because he wasn't crawling or walking yet (well, he started crawling at 11 months, a week after our first EI meeting).

This time it's for not talking. It's not that Luke doesn't talk - he just doesn't talk much. He has a few words/phrases down. He can say...

I did it!

Uh oh!

Oh dear!

All done!


What's that?



Baba (bottle, my fault as it's what I've always called it with both boys)

Mama, dada

Some of these are pretty clear - some of them are clear to me, but probably not as clear to others that don't hear it on a regular basis.

My biggest concern is that he doesn't ever repeat simple words that he's constantly asking about. For example, last winter he started pointing at his ceiling fan and saying, what's that? And we tell him fan, but he has never said the word. He points at some things all the time, such as cat, dog, shoes, nana, papa, etc, and asks what's that. There are times that we go through a lonnnnng stretch of vocab lessons, where he will go from one object to another, asking what it is. He doesn't say Cody, although I do think he tries as he will occasionally point at Cody and say "dee!". Some words, such a tree and outside, he said once or twice many months ago, but never again.

I think if he finally started saying cat, dog, ball, etc after repeatably asking us what they are, I would feel a lot better and not worry so much. But because he hasn't progressed past asking what the words are, I do worry some.

He understands a LOT though. I can tell him to do something, like put something in the trash, take his socks off, etc and he'll do it without hesitating. So I'm not terribly worried. I have a feeling Luke will start when he's good and ready to, just like the crawling and walking. But I don't want to continue putting meeting with EI off, if meeting with them sooner rather than later will help him some. One thing I've struggled with is not comparing him to Cody. Cody walked at 9.5 months (not just cruising around the coffee table, I mean took off walking full force), and was able to have simple conversations with us at 18 months. Because of that, I've had to fight the urge to think, Oh no, Luke is way behind Cody. But at the same time, I don't want to do Luke a disservice by not getting assistance if he needs it.

My Sweet, Wonderful, Awesome Boy

Gotta love my Captain Cody.

He's always ready to goof with his mama...

He's good to his baby brother

And will even take him for a spin the John Deere...

A couple weeks ago we were driving, and he announced his plans - he would give me all the money in his piggy bank so that I could buy a Chevy Traverse and have more room in the car for Rosco (our dog).

Then the other day he told me that he wants a remote control Jeep Wrangler, and a ride on Jeep Wrangler for Christmas.  Then when he turns 16 he will get his license and get a Jeep Wrangler so I don't have to drive him to school anymore.  And then he said, "but I'll drive you around the block mommy!".
Today I dropped him off at school, and when I did his assistant teacher told me that on Monday he told her that he really missed his mommy.  Melt my heart!

When I picked him up today, he looked at Luke and said very quietly, I really missed you today Luke.

He loves school, but apparently thinks of us while he's there <3

How did I get so lucky?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Preparing for a Party, Allergy Style!

The planning has begun!

Luke's party is about 1.5 weeks away - I can't believe he's almost TWO! We're going with a Mickey Mouse theme, because he's Luke's current favorite. There are so many cute ideas out there for little boy parties, I spent hours looking at them. I just need to have a few more little boys so I can use more of the themes!

The perpetual procrastinator that I am, I waited until the last minute to make his invitations, but I was happy with how they turned out. I found the template for them here. Instead of using the fill in the blank template for the wording, I created my own in Word.

I also found lots of great printables at the Playhouse Disney website, and a cute idea for a picture banner elsewhere, but I'll post pics of those after the party =)

Food is my biggest concern right now. My plan is to make a cupcake tower with Red Velvet Cupcakes. I'll also make the cream cheese frosting in the same recipe. Two problems: the recipe calls for egg, so I'll be using Ener-G Egg Replacer, and it also calls for cake flour. I've only found two brands of cake flour, and both have may contain egg warnings. Blah! So I'll be using All Purpose flour. I'm doing a practice run this week, and I'm hoping they turn out well. If not, I'll fall back on the Chocolate Cupcakes from my The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts. No Eggs. No Dairy. Just Delicious!.

I'm thinking somewhat simple for the buffet - my goal is that there won't be anything at the party that Luke can't eat. We're trying out this Ham and Cheese Slider recipe tonight, minus the mayo. I'm also planning on picking up some safe foods from Trader Joe's, such as their mini cheese pizzas. Sides will be simple - veggie plate, fruit kabobs and chips. Simple will make it easy for me to have yummy food, while not have to worry too much about making sure everything is safe.

The one thing that will be missed is an ice cream cake. It's been a birthday tradition since Cody's first birthday, but there just aren't any safe ones in our area. I toyed with the idea of making my own, and I may go that route after all, but for now, it's not in the plans.

Returning to Cloth Diapers

I'm a cloth diaper mama - well, I was up until a couple months ago. That's about the time that we went into our all out war with pneumonia, and Luke was constantly on antibiotics. Antibiotics do not agree with his tummy, and dealing with antibiotic influenced messy diapers is not my idea of a good time. Not to mention that diaper creams and cloth diapers don't mesh well.

So we went to disposables around the clock. We stuck with them even after the nasty diapers were done, because I realized that he was outgrowing his size 3's, and I had a ton of them left. So I put off CDing again, to try and get through the size 3 stash. I'm still working on that but it's time to get him back into his fluff. Why? Well, I miss cloth diapering - they're cute and fun =) But, also for this reason...

Little man's pants won't stay up.  These are 18 month Carter's jeans.  He was stuck in these jeans all day, and every few minutes they were dropping down to his ankles.  12 months fits his waist, but he needs 18 months for the length.  Where to cloth diapers play into this?  The extra fluff helps fill out his pants a bit more =)  So if he has a bit more junk in his truck the next time you see him, you'll know why!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Holiday Series I: Halloween

We did it! We made it through Halloween without a hitch!

I'll start with a confession - I had candy yesterday that had peanuts and/or peanut butter in it. And it was GOOD.

I took every precaution that I could though - had my treats in the kitchen, far from where Luke was. Cleaned up well afterwards (counter top, hands, mouth). And made sure that the candy was never anywhere near him.

As for Trick or Treating, Luke kind of made it easy for us - he passed out before we were able to leave the house. The poor boy wore himself out practicing being Robin! My husband and I took Cody to a few houses while my parents watched Luke, and once we got home, we took anything out that was peanuty. Nothing came home with us that was unsafe for Luke.

I planned ahead of time for having to remove some things from the candy bowl - I bought Halloween size packages of Twizzlers and Skittles, as well as Goldfish. The easy part is that Cody is happy with any kind of candy, so there was no arguing as long as he had his sugary goodness. And Luke is still pretty clueless about all of it. Next year might not be so easy, but it was nice having such an easy time this year.

Next up, Luke's birthday! I'm already working on food for the guests, and the celebration sweets (cupcakes!).

DIY Robin Costume

This year's costumes were selected by a matter of a great deal - one day while Cody was in school, Luke and I went into Old Navy with a sweet little 40% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. All kids items were already marked down 40% in the store - including costumes. Cody loves Batman, and they had one left in his size, so bingo! 40% off store sale + 40% off coupon = incredibly cheap costume. And of course, every Batman needs a Robin, so Luke's costume was decided as well.

I looked around briefly for a Robin costume, and while there were a few to choose from on eBay, and they weren't terribly expensive, I decided to make one my own. Going by a couple pictures of Robin that I found online, I started searching around my house for what I needed.

I already had a plain long sleeve red shirt that I had picked up at Walmart for $3.50 - it was part of my "I'll eventually do something with this" stash. I didn't have the right shade of green for pants, so back to Walmart I went, and found a pair in the girl's dept for $3.50. I raided the Goodwill bag, and found a yellow tshirt that I decided would work perfect for the details on the costume. And finally some black felt to finish out the details.

Everything is attached using Heat n' Bond. I had every intention of sewing everything down for extra security, but my sewing machine and I weren't getting along, so I didn't. It held up well for the most part, although the R disappeared before the end of the evening.

For the cape I just free hand cut it out, using the tshirt as a guide, and attached with velcro on the shoulders.

I was pretty pleased with it - not too bad for my first attempt at making a costume!