Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heartbreaking loss

My heart aches for a family in Chicago who is suffering the loss of their thirteen year old daughter after a severe anaphylactic reaction to food she ate at a school holiday party.  I read the article from the Chicago Tribune just a couple hours before going to my son's holiday school party today.

This tragic loss is a sad reminder to parents who have children with life threatening allergies of the challenges faced in everyday life.  For those unfamiliar with these challenges, the efforts we make to keep things safe in the classroom may sometimes seem excessive and over the top.  This sad loss reminds me that every effort is justified.

Our hearts go out to the Carlson family.  Go here for the story.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Whoopie Pies

It's not the holidays until we have spent all day in the kitchen baking.  We made these whoopie pies for my son's classroom holiday party.  Always a big hit and milk free.  The recipe is on the milk-free recipes page of this blog.

~Happy baking and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Make A Gingerbread House

If it is not snowing where you live yet,  making a gingerbread house is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.  We found the gingerbread house, undecorated, at our supermarket.  Check the ingredients to make sure they are allergy safe.  We made our own frosting.  My frosting recipe is listed on the milk-free recipe page of the blog. The boys picked out allergy safe candy and had a blast decorating.  They even worked together to come up with their own design.  Happy Holidays~

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Staying safe and having fun with so many holiday parties.

The holidays can be very overwhelming for a family dealing with severe food allergies, especially if you are just starting this journey with a young child.  It does get easier with every year as you learn new recipes, start new traditions and your family and friends become more familiar with your situation.  Those first couple years were not easy for me at all.  I watched parents bring trays of goodies into school that we could not go near and at family gatherings baskets of homemade treats that were also untouchable.  It seemed so unfair.  Here are some tips that help our family get through the holidays with less stress and worry.

  • The school parties are inevitable.  Try to volunteer the day of the party, especially the first few years of elementary school.  This gives your child the comfort of knowing his parents can keep an eye out making sure the safe cupcake goes on your child's plate and preventing cross-contamination with all the kids reaching for different treats. 
  • It is not always possible to have everything in the room allergy safe for your child.  But, by volunteering you can keep an eagle eye on the party.
  • Whether you can volunteer or not, send in your child's favorite holiday treat.  This makes your child feel like a regular kid and not singled out because he or she is eating their own "special" snack.  I love seeing the kids react to how my cupcakes taste just like a regular cupcake even though they don't have milk and butter in them.
  • If you cannot be in the room to volunteer for the party, clearly mark the food you send in so that the teacher and other volunteer parents can help keep your child safe.  If you have a friend who can be at the party, ask him or her to keep an eye on your child and help point out what foods are safe.
  • Also, if you cannot be in the room the day of the holiday party, get a list of what foods are coming in and go over them with your child so that he or she knows what is safe and what is not.   Quite often parents ask me for ideas for food items to send in.  Fruits and veggies are always a safe choice.  Or you can offer a list of items that are safe.  Just make sure to check the ingredients yourself first.
    • For the first couple years of family parties, it can be overwhelming trying to make changes without your efforts to keep your child safe being confused with rudeness.  Before life with allergies, one of my favorite things about the holidays was going home and being surrounded by platters of homemade chocolates and cookies and cheese spreads and well you get the picture.  Now, my focus is making sure we have enough treats that are very similar to what I had growing up but are allergy safe.  So here are a few tips for going home for the holidays:
    1. Share a list of what foods to avoid.  We found the milk allergy to be very confusing in the beginning.  I made a copy of what is considered milk that I had gotten from our allergist and my parents keep it taped to the inside of their food pantry.  I don't expect them to be experts.  But, I think over time, they have become more familiar with what we are dealing with.
    2. When your child is a toddler, instead of chasing them around hoping they don't swipe food off the kitchen table or island, keep the unsafe treats up a little higher and out of reach.  It can be a little awkward rearranging your mother-in-law's display of desserts, but no one wants a trip to the emergency room on Christmas day.
    3. As your child gets older it does get easier.  Now, I point out what foods he can have or make an area that is "safe".  For instance, at my mother's I put the safe food on the island, so that he can help himself and feel a little more independent.  The food on the dining room table is off limits without checking with me first.
    4. Lastly, have your child pick a few favorite holiday treats for you to make or better yet to make together.
    ~Most importantly, have a safe and very joyful holiday.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Finally, a reason to make pink cupcakes for my boys!

    My son's soccer team color this fall happened to be pink for his coed team.  At first, he wasn't sure if he wanted to wear pink.  But as the season got going, my son and all the kids loved wearing their pink shirts.  He would have worn it every day, if Mom let him.  We had a great team and the shirts represented their team spirit. They won the championship game and had an awesome season! For the end of the year party, I made pink frosted cupcakes, and everyone loved them.  It is an easy recipe that you can find on the Milk-Free Recipes page of my blog.  It meant a lot to me that no one thought of them as "milk free" cupcakes. The cupcakes represented our team spirit and camaraderie and the pink shirts that represented our team.

    Everyone enjoyed being together and celebrating.  As a mom of a child with allergies, I was happy that we could all share the same dessert.  My son truly enjoyed that everyone ate "his" cupcakes and we didn't have multiple kinds to accommodate allergies.  And I truly enjoyed making them.