Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reading Labels

Something happened this weekend that shows the importance of reading an entire label.

While at my parents' house, Luke ate a few pieces of dried cherries before I had a chance to read the package. Once I did though, I saw that in smaller print than the rest of the package, there was a "manufactured in the same facility as" warning. Listed were a few items, including eggs and nuts.

Thankfully Luke did not react to them. But it caused some anxiety. My mom blamed herself for not reading the whole label, and I blamed myself for not double checking it.

Some labels are very busy and provide lots of different information. This can make it easy to gloss over important information. But it's also why it's important to read every single sentence to make sure it is safe.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Egg and Nut Free Style

My Allergy-Free Cooking Inspiration

I'm linking up today with Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. I've found that planning ahead for the week makes a huge impact on my stress level =) Monday is usually Meatless Monday around here, but I wasn't able to get to the grocery store today, so we'll be celebrating Meatless Wednesday this week instead! 

My menu plans are always nut and egg free.  When needed, I omit egg from some recipes and either do without, or replace with something appropriate.  Obviously there are some recipes that omitting egg wouldn't work for, so we just avoid those.  There are so many other yummy recipes out there, that it isn't an issue.  Focus on what you can have, instead of what you can't!

Monday: Pioneer Woman's Bowtie Pasta (can I just say how much I LOVE Pioneer Woman? I haven't been let down by a recipe of hers yet) and Annie's Eats' Soft Garlic Knots

Wednesday: Pasta ai Quattro Formagg (yes, another PW recipe!) with asparagus

Thursday: Bacon Potato Chowder with Grilled Cheese

Friday: Mongolian Beef with rice and steamed broccoli

Saturday:  Leftovers
Sunday:  Weekly dinner with the Grandparents!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Food Allergy Frustrations

1. The parents in Florida who have been protesting a six year old's right to a safe education has me going through a mixture of emotions, mostly anger toward them, sadness for the girl who is in the middle of it all, and fear for my own son, knowing that he will one day be heading off to school himself. Learn more about this story here.

2. Wegmans, how unhappy I am with you right now. Wegmans is a grocery store that is relatively new to my area. Well, it's been here a couple years now I guess, but I've only been shopping there for the last few months. Last summer, when I first started realizing that Luke might have issues with egg, I purchased Wegman's brand of pasta. It was labeled as vegan, meaning egg and dairy free. For the first time in his life, he would eat pasta.  He gobbled that stuff up! Still does. Even though I loved that he loved their pasta, it took me awhile to really like shopping there. It's still not a favorite place, but I've grown to love their labeling practices, and that they offer foods, such as pasta, that I can't find egg or nut free elsewhere.

Earlier this week, I read a message from someone on a message board that their Wegmans pasta was no longer egg free. My heart sank, but I crossed my fingers that our store wouldn't be the same. I went there this morning with the intention of buying as much egg free pasta that I could. As soon as I saw the shelf though, I knew I was in trouble. The boxes look completely different. Sure enough, the label now reads "may contain egg".  Their more expensive line of store brand pasta ($1.70 a box) is still labeled as vegan. The line is of course, more expensive, but is also more limited as far as the types of pasta that is offered.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pipe Cleaners, Colander and Fine Motor Skills

Today we did a little activity to work on Luke's fine motor skills. Big brother even got into it! Both boys had a blast with this activity. The supplies are super easy - colander and pipe cleaners.

This picture shows how he went from holding the opposite end of the pipe cleaner, to figuring out that the closer he held it to the colander, the more control he had over it. I was pretty proud of him :) Not only that, but he was using both hands, which is a major goal in his occupational therapy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Once, Twice, Three Times Checked

Back when we first learned of Luke's peanut allergy, I read something on an allergy message board that stuck with me. Check all food items three times before giving them to your food allergy child.

1. In the store, before you buy the item.
2. At home, as you're putting the item away.
3. At home, before you serve the item.

This has done me well over the last year. There were many times that I didn't buy something because of an allergy statement. There were times that I got home, looked at the item, and realized I forgot to check in the store.

Maybe being at this for a year has made me a little lax, but tonight I found two items in my pantry (well, one in my fridge that had already been USED), that have peanut, treenut and egg warnings on them. Thank goodness for my 3 time checking rule.

The first was a container of Rachael Ray Beef Stock. Dairy, egg, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish and shellfish are mentioned as possibly also being processed in the same facility as the beef stock. I suspect this is a case of hyper labeling, otherwise known as CYA (cover your ass). But, I don't take any risks.

The second was a container of free range chicken broth from Trader Joe's. I used this container last week, in something that Luke didn't eat. After reading the statement on RR's stock, I checked. This one says made on equipment shared with wheat, milk, eggs, tree nuts and shellfish. My goal for tonight is to go through my pantry and double check everything, since these two slipped past me.

Finally, Friday night we ordered Domino's pizza. Cody wanted his usual cheesy bread sticks. I wanted to get something that would provide more food for them, since they usually run out. I almost ordered cheese pizza with white sauce, as Cody won't eat the red pizza sauce. At the last second I checked their Allergen Warnings. Sure enough, the white sauce contains egg. I've checked the chart before, and my memory was that everything but the Lava Cakes (made in the same facility as peanuts/tree nuts) and creamy dressings (egg) were safe. So either I never noticed the egg in white sauce, or it has changed.

Lesson learned - check every.single.time!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reflections and Clinical Studies

A year ago today our lives changed drastically when Luke had his anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. I've done some thinking lately about how our lives have changed. Some for the not so good, some for the good.

1. Things that used to be a non-issue, are now an issue. No longer can we walk into a restaurant, any restaurant, and order without worry. Eating out has to be planned ahead. Research done online, calls made ahead of time to check on the safety of food prep. And if necessary, a meal packed and brought with us to feed Luke if there are no safe options. Play dates, birthday parties, family gatherings all come with a fair amount of stress, planning, and general unease.

2. Because of number one, a good thing has come about. I have discovered that I can make pretty much anything we want at home, from scratch. I've learned how much fun it is to look for recipes and try them out. I've become comfortable with baking from scratch, and making my own bread products. I've learned how to exchange an unsafe ingredient for a safe one.

3. I've become a more thoughtful person. When we took Cody to the Monster Truck Jam for his birthday, it was the first time my husband and I had been somewhere special with just Cody in quite awhile. While standing in line waiting to buy concessions, I told him he could have whatever he wanted. I told him he could even get a package of peanuts if he desired. As soon as those words came out, I was thinking, what if a peanut allergic child is sitting near us? How would I feel if Luke was here and someone sat next to us eating peanuts? This isn't something I would have considered in the past, but I do now, and I was thankful that Cody didn't decide on the bag of peanuts. There are other instances - I'm careful that Luke doesn't leave behind any fallen Goldfish crackers. I would hate for a dairy or wheat allergic child to find one and pop it in his mouth before his mom could stop him.

4. I have met some wonderful people through blogs and message boards such as Kids with Food Allergies. And through them I've learned more about food allergies, and how to live with them, than I ever thought that I would.

5. I have learned that some people will stand behind you no matter what, listen to you, and not jump to assumptions. Some people however are the complete opposite.

As much as I wish that Luke didn't have food allergies, I am thankful that we have been blessed with a wonderful allergist. I am thankful that I have the tools that I need to protect him. Hopefully this time next year I will be posting that we went a whole year without another serious reaction.

Which leads me to my next topic. We are lucky enough to be fairly close to Duke University (about 5 hours). Duke is one of the to major hospitals on the East Coast that does peanut desensitization studies. Johns Hopkins University Hospital is closer, but will only take people ages 12 and older. Duke's studies typically include children over age 1. I recently found information about a current study that they are recruiting for. I was excited as I read over it. I would be more than willing to make bi-weekly trips to Duke if it meant helping Luke. Then I got to the exclusions criteria...

History of severe anaphylaxis to peanut as defined by hypoxia, hypotension, or neurological compromise (Cyanosis or SpO2 < 92% at any stage, hypotension, confusion, collapse, loss of consciousness; or incontinence)


The day of his peanut reaction he suffered from hypotension (defined as abnormally low blood pressure). His skin and lips took on a bluish hue, so hypoxia may have been an issue. He lost consciousness multiple times that morning. His oxygen level when we arrived in the ER was in the low 60's. Going through the various trials, it looks as though anyone that has had a serious reaction is not eligible. My plan is to contact Duke University and see if this is always the case, or if there is the possibility of something he would be eligible for.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Tubes Are In

Luke's procedure this morning to put tubes in his ears was a success. We were there at 6am for the 7am procedure. I got to wear a nifty white suit that covered me from my ankles to my neck (didn't get a picture of that, darn!), and held his hand while they put him under. He handled it much better than he did for the endoscopy last summer, so I wasn't quite as traumatized as I was back then. By the time I got the suit off, grabbed the stroller from his room, and took a potty break, the doctor was out telling me they were done. Ten minutes later I was led back to find him wooing the nurses, and 20 minutes later we were in the car heading home. Now we just need to wait and see how much of a difference it will make for him.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Little Bit Girly {crafty}

A friend of mine is getting close to the end of her pregnancy with a little princess, and I jumped at the chance to be able to make something girly for her.

Now, my crafty skills are still forming, so I decided to go with something fairly simple. Which was hard to do, after looking around different blogs for some girly inspiration. There is just SO much cuteness out there for girls.

The first one I decided to make was straight from I Am Momma, Hear Me Roar. I fell in love with this Whimsical Tree design when I first watched the video she made for freezer paper stenciling. The tree design came from Picnik. Next time I would make the letters a little bigger for ease of use, but other than that, I was happy with it =)

The second one I made is based on a shirt that I bought awhile back for Luke. I wanted to see if I could re-create something similar, and I was pretty happy with the outcome.

I used Picnik to create a lower case t in a font that I liked and thought would work well. Using that print out as a template, I cut the letter out in felt that coordinated with the cute little onesie that I picked up at Walmart.

Stuck the letter onto some Heat n' Bond, and then stuck that onto the shirt. This was mostly to make sewing a little easier, because sewing around straight pins irritates me for some reason =)

I used a tiny stitch setting on my machine, and sewed all around. Once that was done, I grabbed some white embroidery thread, and an embroidery needle, and got to work. The only change I would make here would be to use longer stitches all around. But that was it, easy peasy! And cute!

Linking up to...