Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Walk with us on November 16!

I have posted this before, but it is worth mentioning again. If you are free on November 16, we would LOVE to have you join us...

We will be walking to raise money and awareness about what it is like to live with the threat of food induced allergies. Please join us for what is sure to be a beautiful afternoon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Milo's Birthday Celebration Part 2

As it happens, my kids like cupcakes. And thankfully I am beginning to figure out how to make them so that all in my house can enjoy. This weekend we had a party for Milo (1) and my niece, Maddie (2). The theme was a tea for two and two for tee. It was your basic, tea party/golf party.
I had a ton of fun creating two separate cupcakes for the party. Three, actually, if you count the wheat-free version that I snuck in to give my kids. I am pretty darn proud of the golf cupcake, in particular. I made the golf balls out of white chocolate. An idea that would never have occurred to me if it were not for my amazing friend, Andrea, who is a master with these sorts of things.

Ella and Milo seemed to enjoy their bounty.
Who knew that a one year old could get so blissed out by white chocolate?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Article

A new study tracks the rise in food allergies...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why can't I eat what the other kids can eat?

The theme continues... there seems to be so many questions coming from Ella, these days. The hardest one to explain is "Why can't I eat what the other kids can eat?" Next Wednesday Ella's school will begin offering lunch to the children on Wednesdays. Last year this meal included basic, kid fare like Mac & Cheese, Chicken Nuggets, Pasta and Quesadillas. This year they are trying out a new service that offers healthy, organic lunches. After reading the menus for the next few weeks, I thought that it might be worth letting Ella try it. My thought is that she can eat most of the stuff the other kids eat (like fruits and veggies, cheeses and juices) and then I would send along a substitute for the things that she cannot eat. Next week they are having "Stackers" which means multi-grain crackers with cheese and turkey. There are some amazing Glutino (gluten-free) crackers that we have been devouring, and they would be an easy swap. Everything else being offered is Ella -safe. FINALLY, a chance for a little normalcy in her life. That was, until I got a call from her school today telling me that the man who owns the company that prepares the food, does not feel comfortable serving any child that has been prescribed an epi-pen. Ugh! So I was told to call the owner on his cell phone so that we could discuss Ella's situation and possibly come to a compromise about her lunch. These are the kinds of hoops we must go through on a daily basis. If you are reading this and your child is free of food allergies, please know how incredibly blessed you are just for the simple fact that you will never have to spend time engaging in one of these types of conversations. I have started to feel like every meal is a battle. It has become a delicate balancing act for everyone involved. I understand this man's position, truly. How horrible would it be for him to serve a lunch to a child and have them go into anaphylaxis? I know how annoying we must be to everyone, including the staff at her school. Our problem has become their problem. Thankfully, everyone loves Ella and seems to be committed to making her life as happy as possible. For me it is easy, in a way. She is my child, after all. And let me also point out that she is not the only one in the school who has these issues. I got to see the list of children in her school who have allergies. On average, there are 3 children, per class, with food allergies at her school. Each class has between 9 and 12 kids. That is either 1/3 or 1/4 of the children. Talk about an epidemic. I happen to know the parents of 3 of those children. None of their families have histories of food allergies. What is going on? This is madness. As a consequence and it happens to benefit us, the teachers and administrators are now well versed in caring for such children.

Anyway, back to my conversation with the owner of the food company. After 15 minutes of chatting (at times, I felt like I was negotiating a peace treaty) we finally came to a solution. Ella can eat her boxed lunch, as long as I provide an alternative wheat-free option. But if she has any adverse reaction, he is unwilling to take responsibility. My biggest fear is that she will consume a pistachio, but he has promised me that they will NEVER use any pistachios or pistachio products. But he also mentioned that most of the foods that they use have been processed on equipment shared by common allergens. For me, that is acceptable.

It is a bit of a roll of the dice. But it is no different than anything that we buy from Trader Joe's, whose foods carry similar warnings. And we also are taking our chances every time we eat out. It is scary. But I want her to feel like a normal kid. That, to me, is worth the gamble.

For now, she can eat with her friends. Fingers are crossed as I knock on wood :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Play dates

One of the biggest challenges for us is when we intermingle with other children Ella's age. As I have mentioned in previous posts, even school can be a real challenge. It is not fun for us to stick out like an annoying, sore thumb. When we go to the park, restaurants, and play dates there are always bound to be discussions about what Ella can and cannot eat. And there are always the debates with Ella over why she cannot eat something and WHY other kids can have the things that she may not. It is heart breaking; exhausting. Yesterday we went to a play date and I made wheat-free cookies to try and head her off at the pass. They were special Halloween sugar cookies (just like the ones I made before her diagnosis), dripping with frosting and sprinkles. And best of all, they were adorned with candy corn. As much as she loved them they were not enough. She gobbled them down and then she focused on all of the things she could not eat. My friend Lindsay, one of the best play date hostesses around, also was so sweet to have many, many options for Ella to eat. (Truly, I have the most supportive and wonderful friends. I would be lost without them.) Anyway, the 2 hours that we were there were spent in argument over what snacks were safe or not. I kept offering all of the other choices but nothing could be as good as the tabu foods. Poor Ella. It must be so hard for her to grasp her situation.

But, there are learning experiences to be had. And I am hoping that all of this madness will subside and she will just go back to being a normal kid who is more interested in climbing on the swing set and running across the lawn. Oh, how I love that kid. Together we will find the answers...

Monday, October 13, 2008


Milo turned 1 this weekend. And since we are still not sure if he is allergic to any foods, I am keeping him on the same diet as Ella. Including the wheat-free diet. So I whipped up a little cake for him to enjoy. It was my first attempt at a layered Gluten-Free cake, complete with buttercream. This one was yellow cake, with vanilla buttercream frosting, chocolate whipped cream and bananas. Both kids seemed to enjoy it, thankfully. Actually, it rivaled other wheat versions that I have made over the years. Definitely will make it again. Next time, I will allow for more frosting as this cake required a nice, crumb coat. Something about the rice and tapioca flours, I guess. I am planning on making other versions in the coming weeks. Photos to follow...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Road Trip!

So we decided to take the kids down to San Diego last weekend. This was the first time that we left home for a significant period of time, without having control of our dietary situation. Experiences like these will help us understand how to assimilate into the general, non-allergic population. But in general, we were able to make it work. With a little effort!

I packed the car up on Friday. We had everything that Ella could possibly need. Lots and lots of snacks, including wheat-free blueberry muffins, rice cakes, fruit, gluten-free crackers and cookies, home-made breads, chesses, and sliced veggies. The hotel that we stayed at "provided" breakfast." We assumed that they would at least offer bacon, potatoes and yogurt, amongst their "many" offerings. But we discovered, first thing Saturday morning, that all they had was bread, bread and more bread. Translation: WHEAT! After sitting the kids down at a table in the breakfast room we decided to pull the plug and head back to our room so that we could eat the selection that I had brought with us. THANKFULLY, I had all of those options.

First, we headed to Sea World. After our grueling morning of denial, I decided that my focus would be lining out a lunch option. Right away, I noticed that there was a "Dining with Shamu" buffet. We booked a reservation, thinking that good 'ol Shamu might, at the very least, help our kids eat a decent meal. After glancing over the menu, I decided that this was a good way to go. Even if we had to sacrifice their future educational prospects to be able to finance the adventure. Anyway, it actually turned out to be a fantastic meal. There were many choices, and not just for the allergy-challenged family. Ella feasted on salad, fruit, potatoes, beef and chicken. And there were many dessert options including strawberries with whipped cream. Phew! And did I mention, SHAMU?

Dinner was just as easy. We found a place within the park that had smoked chicken and veggies. As well as salad and watermelon. Thankfully, both kids seemed to enjoy their meal. And Ella was able to end her day with a nice, hefty bag of cotton candy.

We decided to serve breakfast in our room on Sunday. Milo expanded his meal by eating most of Gabe's oatmeal. And then we headed out to the Wild Animal Park. It was your basic family, zoo excursion. All was going well until lunch time and we had to decide where to eat. For most families, this might be a conversation. But for us, it seemed like we were trying to debate who would be the best leader of the free world. After, many discusions and an evaluation of the elaborate park map, we selected a place that had "healthy" kids meals. It seems that the Gods were on our side as we were able to feed both kids without much effort. Hot dogs, Santa Fe Salad (black beans, corn, chicken, lettuce and cheese), fruit and rice saved the day. The kids were so busy having fun that they forgot to beg for the usual chicken tenders and bread. Oh, who am I kidding? There was LOTS of that. But we distracted them with all of the animals and carousel rides. We grabbed a couple of ice cream cones before hopping on the freeway, which sweetened the deal and made things just a little smoother.
Overall, we had a successful trip. With a little planning, we were able to make the journey feel pretty normal. And I have decided that there is some silver lining in all of this madness... my kids probably eat better than most American kids. Aside from the cotton candy! :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Great article about food allergies...

This is worth reading if you get a chance. Lots of good info about recent studies that have been done on food allergies...