Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

SpongeJosh SquarePants and Brody the Magician wish you all a Happy (and safe) Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Rules

My Kid – My Rules. Why is that so hard for some people to understand? The Rules are simple. It’s not like I’m asking for the moon! Come-on people, work with me here!

Let’s count down my Top 5 Rules For School…

Rule #5 Nut-Free Classroom. This means no homemade snacks allowed and any snacks that do come in must be unopened with ingredient label intact. Any snacks containing peanuts or tree nuts will simply be returned home at the end of the school day.

Rule #4 Nut-Free Lunch Table. Brody dosen’t always like this one because sometimes his friends want to sit other places in the cafeteria and he feels left out, but for now it gives me great peace of mind knowing he isn’t sitting right next to 5 other kids eating messy PB&J for lunch. When he’s a little older, I’m sure he’ll win this battle and will get to choose where to sit…with some other rules in place probably.

Rule #3 Children will wash hands when entering classroom in morning and after lunch. I have no idea what little Johnny or Jill ate for breakfast, although I’m guessing quite often it might have been peanut butter on toast. Two years in a row I know of a child that showed up to school with obvious peanut butter all over his face and shirt. Nice. Don’t parents at least check to see if their child is clean before sending them off to school?

Rule #2 I will attend all class field trips. Allergic reactions are more likely to happen on field trips because the daily routine is thrown right out the window and its extremely hard for a teacher to keep track of all 20 or so kids running amuck. Plus the fact that on the last field trip I attended, the child that my kid was paired up with pulled a huge bag of peanuts out of his lunch sack. Niiiiiiice. I think Brody and I will just move over here by this nice shady tree and eat on our own, thank you very much. And hey, teacher, pass the wipes to little Johnny please!

And finally, the absolutely positively most important #1 Rule for School…

Rule #1 Brody ONLY eats food that I have checked and okayed. Period. End of story. Why must people make this more difficult then it needs to be? Yesterday apparently the third graders were doing some state-wide testing. For whatever reason, the principal decided to buy them all gum to chew while taking the test. Teacher hands Brody gum…Brody asks if "mom checked it". Teacher then reads ingredients to Brody and asks HIM if he thinks it is safe. Brody again states that “mom should check it”. Teacher then gives gum to another staff member, who in turn reads the ingredients to Brody and asks if he thinks it is safe. Brody again says “mom should check it”. Staff member then gives gum to school nurse, who reads the ingredients and states that she thinks it is fine for Brody. Brody again states “I think my mom should check it”. Finally school receptionist is given the gum and told to call and check ingredients with me. Why in the world did it have to take this long to call me when that is what should have happened in the first place? Do not put the responsibility of knowing whether or not something is safe on an 8-year-old child! Brody will have his entire lifetime to have to read ingredients to keep himself safe…he shouldn’t have to shoulder that responsibility right now. This is why I made The Rules to begin with! And for anybody thinking to themselves, “but it was just a piece of gum”….Right, just like it was just a grape flavored tongue depressor that Brody reacted to last year when the speech therapist at school gave it to him without possibly thinking there could be any ingredients in the grape flavoring that Brody might have an allergic reaction to. Well guess what…he did! His lips swelled and itched to the point of bleeding and the whole lower half of his face turned bright red.

I'm very proud of Brody for sticking up and advocating for himself yesterday! I praised him and reassured him that he absolutely did the right thing by insisting they check with me. Oh, and just so you know, there are a couple of brands of gum that I can think of right off the top of my head that do contain milk protein. Of course most people who aren’t avid label readers wouldn’t know that though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another trip to Urgent Care

Brody's asthma has been flaring for a couple of weeks now for no apparent reason. This usually happens when he gets a cold, but he hasn't been sick recently, so I'm not really sure what is going on with his lungs. Over the weekend he kept complaining that his chest was really tight and he felt like he couldn't breathe right. At this point his rescue inhaler wasn't helping at all, so I decided it was time to take a trip to Urgent Care at our local hospital. While the nurse was taking Brody's history, I mentioned that I remembered reading a couple of years ago that there is one type of asthma medication that should be avoided for anyone with a peanut allergy. She had never heard of this and didn't seem too concerned. When the Respiratory Therapist came in to give Brody a breathing treatment, I mentioned this again. I could tell by the look on his face that he thought I was some ridiculous mom who had no idea what I was talking about, but once I finally got it through his head that Brody is ANAPHYLACTIC to his allergens, then he decided that maybe he should look into this a little more before giving Brody any new medication through the nebulizer. He came back into the room shortly after and said he could not find any information regarding an asthma medication and peanut allergy. I remained adamant that I had indeed read about this on a reputable website a couple of years ago and no, I was not just some crazy paranoid mom. Just then the nurse poked her head back into the room, pointed at the Respiratory Therapist, and said "Could you please come here for a minute". When he returned he had this amazed look on his face and said "You're absolutely right. There is an asthma medication that is contraindicated for patients with a peanut and/or soy allergy". And it turns out it is a different form of the exact same medication they were planning on treating Brody with.

So once we had this all sorted out and the breathing treatment was over, Brody was back to his normal, happy, active little self. I did speak to his allergist yesterday and he put Brody on a short burst of oral steroids and nebulizer treatments twice a day for a while until his lungs are back to baseline.

The moral of this story is...Trust your gut instincts!!! And don't just believe that a doctor knows what the heck he/she is talking about! Remember that doctors are just giving us their best educated guess most of the time. But you know what? Sometimes we know more then they do! Several of the nurses even came into our room just before we were leaving and thanked me for letting them know that this specific medication should not be used for peanut allergic patients because none of them knew anything about it.

So for those of you interested, here's the scoop...

Atrovent (ipratropium bromide) Inhalation Aerosol is contraindicated in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to soya lecithin or related food products such as soybean and peanut. Atrovent Inhalation Aerosol should also not be taken by patients hypersensitive to any other components of the drug product or to atropine or its derivatives.

(Info found on

Friday, October 17, 2008

Slippery, Slimey Pumpkin Guts

Tonight was a family fun night of carving pumpkins, playing with the slimey pumpkin guts, and enjoying salty pumpkin seeds still warm from the oven. Yum-O! (Notice the boys are wearing non-latex gloves because the pumpkin goo always seems to irritate their eczema.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Everybody Sing Along!

Listen to the BareNaked Ladies play the song "Allergies" from their kids CD entitled "Snacktime". Feel free to sing know you want to!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dairy-Free Caramel Apples

I've decided that I would start posting some of my dairy, egg & nut-free recipes in case they are helpful to anyone else living a food allergy life. Caramel apples have been on my mind lately and I couldn't think of a time Brody has ever had the chance to sink his teeth into the gooey goodness of one! So after several recipe trial and errors, one burnt little finger (Brody was helping a tad too much), and lots of mouth-watering anticipation...I finally managed to come up with a yummy dairy-free caramel recipe that actually stays soft and gooey instead of turning teeth-shattering rock-hard! Brody gives it 2 thumbs up!

Dairy-Free Caramel Apples
½ cup brown sugar
½ stick dairy-free margarine (Fleischmann's Unsalted)
4 oz Rich Whip
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1½ Tbsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla
dash salt

Heat ingredients over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook mixture at a rolling boil until temperature reaches 235F on candy thermometer, stirring constantly. Immediately pour into a metal bowl and allow caramel to cool to 200F before dipping the apples.

Suggested Toppings:
Crushed pretzels
Crushed Oreos or other safe cookies
Mini dairy-free chocolate chips
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Granola (homemade, of course!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kids Living With Food Allergies

Please take a few minutes to watch this short video of children talking about their food allergies. This was produced for general awareness and premiered at the Food Allergy Initiative Northwest inaugural benefit dinner in May 2007.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Beware - The Walnut Sponge!!

As if families dealing with life-threatening food allergies don't have enough to worry about on a day to day basis...behold the Scotch-Brite Scrub Sponge Made With Walnut Shells! Now, when well-meaning family and friends say that they thoroughly cleaned all counter tops and tables in their homes before we come over, food allergy families will have to remember to ask... "But what did you clean with?!".

Scour pad contains pieces of walnut shells that my be released during use. Product may cause an allergic reaction in individuals having a tree nut sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Karate Kid

Brody won first place in his division at the Capital City Open Karate Championship held in DeForest yesterday. Way to go Brody!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sweet Treats

~~~~~two-tone dairy, egg & nut free cupcakes~~~~~

I was asked to make these cupcakes for my cousin's birthday celebration so Brody will be able to enjoy them along with everyone else. The kids can't wait to dig in!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Book Review

I just finished reading "Matters of Faith" by Kristy Kiernan. In fact I read it in 2 days because I was having a hard time putting it down! The story is about a family affected by life-threatening food allergies. This book is certainly a must read for everyone in my opinion and I hope it will help raise awareness of the issues many families deal with day to day while raising kids with food allergies.

A brief overview of the book:

At age twelve, Marshall Tobias saw his best friend killed by a train. It was then that he began his search for faith—delving into one tradition, then discarding it for another. His parents, however, have little time for spiritual contemplation. Their focus has been on his little sister Megan, who suffers from severe food allergies. Now Marshall is home from college with his first real girlfriend, but there is more to Ada than meets the eye—including her beliefs about the evils of medical intervention. What follows is a crisis that tests not only faith, but the limits of family, forgiveness, and our need to believe.

And to read an excerpt, please visit Kristy Kiernan's website: