Monday, April 12, 2010

Up and Down

A few weeks ago, we learned from someone in the area that preschools were not accepting children with food allergies. Preschools are private and therefore have this right. I don't remember if it was before Adam was born of when he was a baby, but I know it was before the diagnosing of his allergies that I felt the distinct impression that I need to be prepared to home school my children.

Jason and I are not people that support home schooling in general. If it is necessary due to physical or mental issues, that's one thing, but otherwise we feel very strongly that children should be immersed in either a public or private school atmosphere, in order to develop in the best way possible. Of course there are always really negative parts to public and private schools, but I'd rather have my children face these issues while they are young and in my home, so I can teach them, than have them run free after they leave my home, completely naive about the world.

Previously we have held several discussions with our pediatrician and specialists about Adam and his future in a private or public school. The answer has always been a quick and comforting, "He'll be fine!" that is until today.

Last week, while trying to find ways for our family to become more social and participate in events in the community I called our local YMCA. Part of my reasoning for calling was that I had found out they had free day care available while parents worked out at the gym. A friend had also told me they have a preschool there. I wanted to obtain some information for the future, since next year I will be signing up Owen.

It turns out they can not accommodate children with food allergies in their day care facility. They can accommodate children with food allergies in preschool, to the best of their ability, BUT parents rotate bringing in snacks. Sippy cups and drinks of various kinds are always available and around. A teacher can be trained and always on sight in case of the need to use an epi-pen, BUT they can't guarantee 100% safety.

After speaking with the woman on the phone, I actually felt confident that despite the lack of the 100% guarantee, Adam would be okay there. I can't even give a 100% guarantee in my own home, just because the boys' allergies vary so much.

Then last week came. Baby A had used Adam's bottle nipples while taking some bottles of her own formula. The formula is 75% lactose free, but definitely NOT dairy free in any way. We had washed the nipples thoroughly, or so we thought, but the minute Adam had the nipples touch his face, where ever there was contact, he had a rash. It took me a couple days to figure out what was causing the rash, but when I did I was not a happy camper to say the least.

I sterilized the nipples, boiling them and adding Clorox to the water. Thankfully the rashes stopped coming. But then the reality sank in. If Adam is breaking out over contact with a nipple that had dairy on it, and it had been washed, what does this mean about his allergy to dairy? Is it getting worse in severity too? I called our doctor.

A new sticker was put on Adam's file. It says something along the lines of "allergy to dairy by contact." Today while in the doctor's office with Baby A, the doctor brought up the issue. I explained in detail what had occurred. He kind of laughed and explained that he had been at a seminar last week about food allergies. He had been thinking about Adam. One of the stories (either told by video or in person) was about a little boy with a severe milk allergy. His friends were picking on him at school about his food allergies. One of them decided to throw an open container of milk at him. Instantly he broke out in a blistering rash. Then the doctor became serious. He told me that I NEED to have epi-pens EVERYWHERE I go. And then he said it,

"It may be too dangerous for Adam to go to school."

I know I am in denial about all of this, because I still have milk in my house and really have no desire to remove it, thinking that I can handle this, but then again, Adam broke out because of a spoon used for cereal in the morning just today.

I know there are several other mothers out there with kids who have life threatening allergies that send there kids to school. I ask that you please comment and give your input and experiences.

I know too though that in the last couple of months alone, we've been to the ER over heart monitor stickers. We've been in the doctor's office receiving the tiniest amount of egg in a vaccination causing a whole slew of affects including hives, vomiting, etc... Adam has a lot of allergies and they all seem to be worsening.

It's one thing if it's just milk, but then it's another to have a list that's really long.

So, right now I feel very mixed up inside. But, in the end, what will be will be, and we'll just deal with it. I can teach my kids at home. It will be a lot of work, but I can make it fun right? Secretly I'm going to still hope that Adam will be fine to go to school when the time comes, but if I find some really cool teaching materials, I may just pick them up!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Allergy Friendly Easter Celebration

I can still remember last year's Easter before allergies were diagnosed. We didn't had a clue what was causing Adam's constant sickness. It's amazing what can happen in a year. This was our first allergy friendly Easter. I must say it was the hardest holiday yet to celebrate without food. Halloween didn't bother me, but Easter I really struggled with. I remember finding the cutest chocolates last year to put in Owen's basket, all race cars and dump trucks. This year there was no candy, not even for Mommy and Daddy. Usually Jason and I do Easter baskets for each other too, but since we couldn't put candy in them, we just stopped.

In the end, I was pretty satisfied with the children's Easter baskets. They loved them.

Owen's Easter Basket: Contents: Diego Gardening Tools & Gloves, The Children's Place Tie, Socks, & Vest for church, No Spill Bubbles (These didn't work. I was really upset.), Thomas the Train Pez Dispenser (I guess this was food, but Owen never used it in that way.), Transportation Stickers and Sticker Book, Construction Vehicle Board Book and 5 Hot Wheels Cars.

Adam's Easter Basket:
Contents: Sesame Street Children's Silverware, Cars Board Book, Frog Beanie Baby, The Children's Place Tie, Socks & Vest for church, No Spill Bubble Blitzer, Road Rockin Rids musical race car, and 5 Hot Wheels cars.
We have an 8 month old foster baby girl living with us right now. She will be living with us for quite some time. Since we can not post her name on the Internet, she will be referred to as Baby A.
Baby A's Easter Basket:
Contents: Butterfly eggs filled with Velcro barrettes for hair, Tonka Bug Car, Shoes for church, Bonnet, Ladybug plate, bowl, & cup, Disney Princess silverware, and her first sippy cup.

Easter is the one holiday that we invite ALL of my extended family. I am so pleased to say that the entire menu was allergy friendly. Click on the titles for recipes, if recipes don't follow.

Tortilla Chips with Fresh Tomato Salsa or Bean & Corn Salsa
Frozen Fruit SaladPasta Salad with Turkey Pepperoni
allergy friendly pasta of choice
turkey pepperoni
green pepper
cherry tomatoes
allergy friendly Italian dressing
(You can add more veggies, but these are the only ones safe for both of our boys. Normally I would add cucumbers, celery, and cubed sharp cheddar cheese too.)
Stuffed Red Peppers
4 Red bell peppers with cores and seeds removed
1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can diced tomatoes, or diced fresh tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 c diced onion
salt and pepper to taste
Brown the ground meat and saute the onions. Cook the rice while the meat is cooking. Combine meat, rice and canned tomatoes. Season to taste. Put mixture inside the peppers. Top with tomato sauce. Bake at 375 until peppers are tender.
Honey Chicken Skewers (We didn't have the corn with it.)
And for desserts:
To make cupcakes, alter cooking time to about 15 minutes.
(I cooked this a little too long, but it was still REALLY good!)
We also served allergy friendly turkey hot dogs for the younger kids. Instead of candy for guests at their seats and as table decor we used flowers and seeds. Extended family members brought gifts for all the kids instead of candy, which was really nice.
And the Easter Egg Hunt...
We purchase those miniature plastic animals of all kinds. They fit very well in the larger plastic eggs. My boys were thrilled, so much that they opened each egg, left the eggs on the ground and only collected the animals.
Next year I'd like to come up with some Easter activities and goodies to make before the big day, just to get in the spirit of the holiday, but that will come next year. I'm just grateful both boys had fun on yet another holiday.

Daddy's Birthday Treats

My husband's Wii/Cars Birthday Party was a hit! For more details about the actual party go here. But I must say the allergy friendly food turned out wonderful! Adam LOVED everything and so did my husband.

Dinner: Herb & Chicken Pasta

Owen won't eat pasta, but if he did I could have easily substituted rice pasta.Ingredients
1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (optional) I omitted this
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and reserve.
Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper, basil, rosemary, Cajun seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add chicken and cook until browned. Remove chicken from skillet and stir in garlic and onions; cook and stir until clear.
Return chicken to skillet over onion mixture and add broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside; spread mixture over pasta and serve.

Dessert: Banana Cupcakes
One of my most favorite recipes that is served to everyone that comes to our home is Banana Cake. I've not been able to adapt this recipe, but it dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that perhaps if I made the boys' allergy friendly banana bread in cupcake holders and then frosted them, they would taste similar. Well, my experiment worked extremely well. The cupcakes were a HUGE hit and the best allergy friendly ones I've tasted so far. For the banana bread recipe click here. The cupcakes ended up cooking for about 25 minutes each, but I'd suggest starting at 15 minutes depending on your oven.
Another birthday successful!