Friday, December 14, 2007

Test results for Geoff

I took Geoff to the allergist this morning to get him scratch tested. The bad news: he got bumps for eggs, nuts and shellfish. The good news: the bumps were very small, barely there in fact. It wasn't as traumatic as when I took Andrew in for his test at this age, and everything hived up. The other good news: Geoff is negative for dairy and peanuts.

The allergist was kind and said that I'd absolutely done the right thing by going off dairy and nuts for the last couple of years while I was breastfeeding.

His peanut score could be meaningless, of course, since he's never been exposed to peanuts. So I'm going to keep him off all nuts for another couple of years and do a peanut food challenge later.

In the meantime, I can add dairy back into my diet -- yay!!!

Though that may not be great news: going back on dairy in the Christmas season means that I can have all those tasty Christmas desserts...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Allergic blogs roundup

It must be the holidays -- my google alerts has been really busy today, with tons of stories from parents who are dealing with their allergic kids, and others having really bad reactions. Here's a roundup of people who could probably use a virtual hug.

Martie's House: Food Allergies, Part 1 (and then read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

The Allergic Kid: A World Full of Peanuts

Geektalk: Where did this come from?

Parton.com: peanut butter playground -- a cake maker gave them the peanut butter cake rather than the chocolate one that had been ordered. Her husband ended up being airlifted to the hospital!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Allergic kids stories

This post from the GNMParents blog tells some scary stories of kids' reactions in daycare and school: Food Allergies Are Serious Business.

I'm so glad that Andrew's preschool is nut-free, and that his teachers are so careful with him and the other kids who have serious allergies. I'm worried about transitioning to kindergarten next year, but I hear that it's a peanut-free school. I also know that there are several kids there now who have extremely severe nut and peanut allergies, so the teachers are vigilant and allergy-aware.

Thank goodness for parents who have gone before me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Eating your curds and whey

This was just linked from another forum that I was reading, and I found it to be very useful:

Milk Allergy & Intolerance: http://www.allergysa.org/milk.htm

It covers the question of why Andrew is allergic to milk, but has scratch and RAST tested negative to cheese — there are two different proteins in milk, and he's only allergic to one of them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

5 ways to deal when you find out that your child has a major food allergy

Our world changed when Andrew was officially diagnosed with major food allergies, two years ago.

We already knew that he reacted to some foods with hives and vomiting, but we were able to sustain a certain amount of denial, and hope that he would outgrow the reactions — or that they weren't really reactions, that it was all in our minds. (He was 8 months old when he vomited and got hives from yogurt — he was our first kid, and we were able to continue in denial for quite a long time. I even kept on feeding him tastes of dairy every month, to see if he'd outgrown it yet. Yes, I was that stupid and uninformed.)

He was two when I finally got him to the allergist, and had the allergies we knew about (peanuts, dairy, cats) confirmed, and a few added (nuts, dustmites, mold, eggs). Even though the diagnosis only confirmed most of what we already knew, it was now official, and really hard to hear.

So, after a couple of years of living with Andrew's allergies, here are five tips for other parents who are dealing with this kind of news.

1. Go straight to acceptance
You will go through the stages of grief when your child gets diagnosed with a serious allergy. You can take the time to get through all the other ones, at a later date, but for the sake of your child's health, you need to go straight to acceptance, and process the rest of it later. You can't afford to hang out in denial any more. Rid your house of all of your child's allergens, and then add them in later when you start feeling more confident.

2. Get support
I've listed a lot of great allergy groups in the sidebar to this blog. Visit them all and find the ones that work for you. There are tons of amazing parents in all of the groups, but of course, each group has a slightly different dynamic. One of them will fit your parenting style the most. All of the groups are supportive, and encourage questions from new visitors. And all of the boards have extensive archives that you can look through if you're feeling too shy to post your question.

3. Get informed
I know more about allergies than my family doctor. And I know more about Andrew's allergic responses than his allergist does, since his allergist has only seen him once. I've done a ton of research, and read everything I could find. I know that egg hides in the oddest places, such as in vaccines (which is why he's not getting the flu vaccine). And I've learned the other names for his allergens — for example, "whey" and "casein" are alternate names for milk ingredients. But even I make mistakes and let him have things that make him vomit. And then I throw out that package and chalk it up as another lesson learned.

And part of getting informed is finding out what your child can safely eat. On the net, there are lots of lists like the one I made, of safe commercially-produced foods for Andrew. Make your own list of safe foods, so that you can give the list to family and friends who invite you over.

4. Learn to cook
It's healthier for you to cook your own food, so having an allergic child is almost a blessing in disguise. We've learned to make non-dairy versions of almost everything, and I know that what we eat has far fewer preservatives and chemicals than its storebought equivalent. Yes, it takes a lot longer to cook than to simply microwave or throw something in the oven, but it's better for my peace of mind.

5. Forgive yourself
You didn't give your child this allergy. It wasn't something you ate when you were pregnant, and it wasn't something you didn't eat or do when you were pregnant. Your child's allergy is not your fault. This was really hard for me. I did avoid peanuts when I was pregnant with Andrew, and he ended up with a huge peanut allergy. I also drank lots of milk, and he's allergic to that, too, so there's not much of a cause-effect pattern there. Someday, maybe he'll be the researcher who figures out why he was hit with so many allergies, but until then, all you can do is go easy on yourself, and deal with today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

allergy allerts via google

A couple of noteworthy posts came across my google news alerts today.
A little girl on Kenzie & Madi's bus has been picking on Makenzie since day one. Her name is Kendall, and she is in kindergarten, too. On Wednesday, she took a PBJ sandwich from her lunchbox and waved it in Kenzie's face, knowing very well about Makenzie's peanut allergy. Kenzie was so terrified that she was in tears. I didn't know 5-year-olds could be so evil.
From As the Story Goes.

This infuriates and frightens me. I know that little kids are mean, but this is bullying behaviour, and it's in kindergarten!


Also, as a followup to my Unexpected Peanut Exposure post:
Several years ago, a popular children’s book had a “scratch and sniff” feature. On one page was a picture of a jar of peanut butter that, when scratched, emitted the distinctive odor of peanut butter. ... the inhalation of peanut butter odor does not cause allergic reactions. Another study by Dr. Perry and colleagues from Johns Hopkins Medical Center analyzed the air around peanut butter, peanuts and peanuts being shelled, and found no detectable peanut protein in the air samples.
From a peanut allergy page that's new to me

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sabrina's Law documentary online

Global TV, a Canadian network, has put a documentary online called Sabrina's Law, the history of the allergic kids' legislation in Ontario.

My warning: if you're a parent of severely allergic kids, keep a box of tissues close by. It was hard to watch this and not think about losing my kids.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Unexpected peanut exposure

After reviewing a few great allergy books, I had to write about one that's not so friendly.

Andrew had a meltdown at storytime tonight because Tony had to take his book away from him.

The book was My Big Busy Body Activity Book. It's a great book, with photos of different body parts, and talks about your skeleton, muscles, skin, breathing, and all sorts of other body parts.
Well, when they got to the smelling page, there were 4 scratch-and-sniff envelopes, containing different scents: lemon, chocolate, spearmint, and peanut butter. Ack!

So Tony took the book away, and Andrew got really upset, because he'd been enjoying the book. He's in a phase where he really wants to know more about how his body works -- we just returned another "skeleton" book to the library last week.

The scent is on a piece of paper in a wee envelope on the page, so it's going into the garbage tonight. It doesn't actually even smell like anything any more (the book is about two years old), and I wonder if it ever actually had any peanut protein on the paper at all. I've seen lots of scratch-and-sniff books, including a firefighters one which had the smell of smoke (yucky!). And Andrew has a scratch-and-sniff Memory game. But this is the first time I've ever seen a peanut scent.

So, for you other peanut allergic parents out there -- would you have let your kid sniff the peanut-scented card?

(I am tempted to keep it to show to my severely allergic friend, to see if it makes her "spidey sense" tingle. She can smell an open jar of peanuts in the house, when she comes in the front door. If she's willing to sniff it, and can't detect anything, that might mean that there's no peanut protein on the card.)

An allergy-free Halloween

Alison over at Sure Foods Living just posted a great list on How to Have an Allergy Free Halloween.

I had to blog it here because it's an incredibly comprehensive list, including ideas on how to substitute toys for candy.

Andrew wants to be a Transformer for Halloween. And not just any easy Transformer -- he wants to be Swoop, a jet plane! I think we'll be painting and colouring cardboard boxes and paper for the next couple of weeks to get him into his costume!

Hopefully he'll be enjoying his costume so much that he won't care about what or how much candy he'll be getting. That, or we'll be "buying" his candy from him with money that he can then take to the store to buy himself a toy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

More super kids books about allergies

Nicole over at Allergicchild.com has published three fabulous allergy storybooks for kids:
She sent over review copies for Andrew, and I received them yesterday, and read them to him all in a row.

He really enjoyed them, and made a point of bringing them out for his playdate this morning, for our friend Ann, who's allergic to peanuts and nuts. She thought they were great, too. They certainly didn't have anything like this when she was a kid, and in fact, the cafeteria ladies simply didn't believe her when she told them she had a nut allergy.

I'm also going to send these books to preschool for the teachers to read at storytime. They're very attractive, and frame the allergy in a friendly way, while dealing with hazards like your friends wanting to share their un-safe snacks with you. (Plus, there are about 10 allergic kids in the preschool's various sessions this year, out of about 80 kids, so I think they'll welcome something that will also help lots of other kids.)

I think I'll eventually be donating them to Andrew's elementary school library. Just in our neighbourhood, I know of one other anaphylactic-to-peanuts kid, another who's severely allergic to mangos & pistachios, and her brother, who's allergic to dairy, and loves getting safe snacks at our house. So the books will eventually be used by tons of people. (So thanks, Nicole, for the review copies!)

If you've got a kid who's about to start school, I would absolutely recommend these books. (Or get your school librarian to order them in.) They're great for helping kids figure out how to deal with social situations where there will be food that's not safe for them. They're also great for reading to non-allergic kids who are friends of allergic kids, so that they know how to help their friends by not bringing un-safe snacks.

Pumpkin pie recipe -- dairy free, nut free

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and it was our turn to host the big family dinner. I was glad to do it, despite the huge amount of work, because then we could make it as allergen-free as possible.

I love pumpkin pie, especially this time of year, but all the pumpkin pies that they sell in the grocery stores have dairy ingredients. So I went on a quest to make a good homemade pumpkin pie. Here's my recipe. It's dairy-free (uses rice dream), nut-free, but does contain eggs because Andrew has outgrown his egg allergy.

Crust: Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. (Contains wheat ingredients, does not have soy or dairy.) The other pie crusts that we looked at in the freezer section contained milk ingredients, so weren't safe for Andrew. And I'm not confident enough to make my own crusts, plus Geoff is at a clingy stage, so I can't spend too much time in the kitchen.

The pumpkin filling was based on the pumpkin pie recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, and I've copied it below.

16 ounce can pumpkin (I used a 14 ounce can of organic pumpkin)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (and I did look it up, and nutmeg is not a nut)
3 slightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup rice milk (substituted for the original 2/3 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup milk)

1. Put the pie crust into a pie dish. Put into oven to bake for 10 minutes or so, just to brown the crust.

2. Combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Add eggs. Beat until just combined. Gradually stir in rice milk.

3. Pour filling into pie crust.

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. (The original recipe says 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. That was about 35 minutes for me, but my oven runs hot.) If you're worried about over-browning the crust, cover the edge of the pie with foil for the first 25 minutes of the baking time.

5. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate within 2 hours, cover for longer storage.

This was the tastiest dairy-free pumpkin pie that I've managed to make, and I'll definitely be doing more of these! The last 3-4 pumpkin pies I've tried to make have all been too runny or tasted a little bit "off.")

Hopefully this will help out some of you in time for the US Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I'm stoked

I've added another allergic mom's blog to my sidebar: Allergy Free in Loudoun. She's doing a great job of keeping on top of what's happening with allergies in the news -- give her a visit!

Also, I'm riding a great high after tonight's knit night. I helped out another knitter with a tough pattern, and then an hour later, we got to talking about allergies. Well, it turns out that her son was allergic to the entire world when he was a kid -- dairy, peanuts, dustmites, baby tylenol, the works. She even used to wash down the walls every night just to minimize his exposure to dustmites.

And now, as an adult, he's not allergic to anything at all. (She's probably in her 50s or 60s, so I imagine that her son is probably in his 30s.)

Wow.

I have nightmares all the time about Andrew's future, especially as he starts school next year and begins to live his own life. Her story just gives me so much hope.

And there are so many more options for Andrew than her son had. She used to give him cereal with water, because there was no such thing as rice milk back then. And nothing was labelled as it is today, so it would have been a nightmare to figure out what was safe for him to eat. And she didn't have nearly as huge a network as exists now, to help with ideas on what our kids might be willing to eat.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Allergies in BC Schools

Anaphylaxis Canada sent out this press release today.
We are pleased to announce that British Columbia's Education Minister Shirley Bond has signed a ministerial order that has the force of law, to provide a rapid response to ensure schools are prepared to deal with an emergency situation involving a student with a life-threatening allergy.
To read the full contents of the press release issued on September 10, go to:
http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2005-2009/2007EDU0118-001100.pdf
I'm delighted that this is happening. Andrew starts kindergarten next September, so this will give us time to work with the school to make sure it's safe for him.

Kids with allergies, interviewed

I followed a circuitous path to find this video.



Watch it and weep, if you're a parent of child with food allergies. The kids in this video are so sweet, and so brave, shouldering the burden of exclusion and knowing that they risk their lives when they go out in public.

Found via She She's post on her son's nut allergy.

__________________
Edited to add:
Mary asked me how to save this for showing to school teachers and administrators. Here's my reply to her.

Easy ... go to Savetube at
http://www.savetube.com/

and type in the URL for the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzyLv2IKoGA

The instructions for how to view it are here:
http://www.savetube.com/tutorial.htm
(If Savetube doesn't work for you, here are some other tips.)

After you have the .flv file, google "flv converter" and you'll find some free software to convert the file from the .flv format to an avi file.

The credits for this video on youtube read:
A film of food allergic children produced for general awareness which premiered at the Food Allergy Initiative Northwest inaugural benefit dinner in May 2007.
www.faiusa.org

Life's Little Moments blog

Briana left me a comment on my allergy bracelets post, and I found her Life's Little Moments blog and added it to my blogroll.

Hi Briana! It's nice to "meet" you.

Temporary Tattoos as medic alert

One of the major search terms that brings people to this blog is "allergy bracelets", probably because I reviewed the silicone bracelets from Australia as one of my first posts. (Andrew still loves them, by the way, and they've been worn through months of abuse, baths, sunscreen, and heavy play, and they're still looking new.)

Anyways, this is a pretty cool product -- customizable temporary "tottoos" with "Allergic to peanuts" and your phone number as the text. The price tag is $28.95, which seems kinda high to me, but I'd think about it if he wasn't so attached to his current bracelets. And you do get 25 of them, which is a bit more than $1 per application. (Link found on Parent Hacks, which is a pretty cool site.)

But these would probably be good for Geoff, who's an escape artist and not nearly as verbal as Andrew. I haven't even blogged about this incident yet because it was pretty scary, but Geoff decided to take a "self-guided tour" of Science World about a month ago.

I'd taken the kids there for a fun morning. Well, Andrew spilled his fries when we were going to watch the stage show, and while I was cleaning them up, Geoff climbed up the stairs to the second floor, and went on a tour of a couple of different galleries. I found a staff member who radioed everyone while I was running around all the corners of the first floor. He got a call back a few minutes later — volunteers had found Geoff laughing at one of the exhibits, not even missing me in the slightest. When I got to him, he'd been corralled by the volunteers and was interacting with them happily.

Yeah, he's a pretty self-confident little kid who doesn't need me at all. It's a total plug for attachment parenting, but sometimes I do wish that it was easier to keep track of where he is, especially in a crowded place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

More allergy blogs

Wow, I'm finding more and more allergy blogs every day! Two more are now in my sidebar: Rational Jenn and every day with food allergies.

I recognize my kids in all of Purplemommy's stories, at every day with food allergies. And I agreed with Rational Jenn's anger in her post on "The Right to a Reese's".

And not added to the sidebar, because she doesn't regularly blog about allergies, is The Legal Soapbox. But I would encourage you to read her article on "Nuts and kinders", which just came out this week.

Also check out Kim's post on "Don't Kill the Allergy Mom," about her experiences being that mom.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Olive oil — or not?

The New Yorker's got an interesting article on fake olive oil: "Slippery Business: The Trade in Adulterated Olive Oil."

What does that have to do with my kid's allergies? Well, just reading the first paragraph of the article gave me the shivers:
On August 10, 1991, a rusty tanker called the Mazal II docked at the industrial port of Ordu, in Turkey, and pumped twenty-two hundred tons of hazelnut oil into its hold. The ship then embarked on a meandering voyage through the Mediterranean and the North Sea. By September 21st, when the Mazal II reached Barletta, a port in Puglia, in southern Italy, its cargo had become, on the ship’s official documents, Greek olive oil.
We use olive oil all the time because it's supposed to be so good for you. My severely nut-allergic friend even used to add it to her son's food to get some extra good fat into him. Have we just been lucky all this time, that we didn't get any contaminated batches?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two more allergy blogs

I've just added two more allergy blogs to my sidebar: Because I said so ... and The Lancaster Family.

Hey, at this rate, we should start a webring!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Great allergy books for kids

Christina Black has written two books for kids who have allergies, and she sent me a couple of samples to review on this blog. The books are Mommy, Is This Safe to Eat? and Starting School with a Food Allergy: Tips for a Peanut Allergic Kid. (Click on the book titles to get screenshots of some of the pages in the books.)

I'm delighted to be able to wholeheartedly recommend these books. They're captivating and informative, and best of all, Andrew likes reading them and looking at the photos.

My favourite part of the preschooler book (Mommy, Is This Safe to Eat?) is the photo gallery of various nuts and where you might find them. (Some of these pages are in the preview pages.) Allergic Living magazine had an article about how kids don't always recognize the things they're allergic to, because we've done such a good job of keeping them away from their allergy triggers. Having these photos in one place gives him something to study, but from a very safe distance.

When we read this book to Andrew, he was tickled by the scenarios in the book, because they're much like what we do for him — special cupcakes at parties, shopping for safe food at the grocery store. I think he liked knowing that he wasn't unique in his life experience.

Andrew also liked the Starting School with a Food Allergy: Tips for a Peanut Allergic Kid book because he's a very social kid. He won't start kindergarten for another year, but he's already made friends who will be a grade ahead of him in his school, thanks to preschool, and he's looking forward to seeing them again. This book is upbeat and optimistic about life at school for allergic kids, something I think we'll need to hold onto when we get to that stage.

I'd give both books a thumbs-up, and a very strong "buy" recommendation if you've got allergic kids. Thanks, Christina, for the review copies!

One mom's story

This story brought me to tears, because I've been there.

From the Unfunny Files:
Do you know what it’s like to rush to the ER not knowing if your child is dead or alive? I do. Three times over.

Do you know what it’s like to speed down the highway in the pouring rain, shaking and sobbing with tears streaming down your face as you think back to that morning’s breakfast and how that might be the last meal you ever share with your child? How that morning, when you kissed him goodbye at daycare may have been the last time you saw your child alive? How that morning’s drop off may have been the last time you heard your child’s sweet voice say “Mommy, I Love You”? I do.
If you're away from your child, and he's had a bad reaction, you live in a weird state of suspended animation until you're reunited with your child. You can't breathe. You can't think straight, and yet, all you can do is to think about what ifs, and how abouts, and do you have your car keys, and what's the best route to drive to the hospital when you get off the SkyTrain. It's all mechanical, and it's all unreal.

Until you get to your kid, and he's fine, and he's still smiling bravely at you, and you don't dare break into tears in front of him because then he'll know how freaked out you are, and how scared you are, and he'll figure out that mommy's not superhuman after all, and can't always take care of him and fix all of his owwies for him.

But at least you can start breathing properly again, and the world suddenly turns colour again, like when Dorothy lands in Oz.

Not-so-allergy-friendly Gelato

It's taken me a week to blog about this because I'm still trying to process the experience.

In Vancouver, there's an amazing gelato place that I loved before I had kids. It's called La Casa Gelato, and they have all kinds of flavours of ice cream, from the normal chocolate and various chocolate combinations to the fruit flavours, to weird ones like curry, garlic and durian. And they let you try any number of flavours you like (they give you little spoonfuls), until you settle on what you want to order.

I haven't been back since Andrew was diagnosed with his allergies, because I figured that it wasn't safe. Well, my friend and former roommate Catherine was visiting from California last week, and wanted to visit La Casa Gelato to get some of her favourite pomelo gelato. (Yes, like I said, they have unusual flavours, and they're all yummy.)

I did the usual allergy-check when I called ahead, to make sure that there was something there that Andrew could have. Otherwise I would have brought him a treat or a chocolate bar instead.

They told me that they've got a huge selection of non-dairy ice cream, and that I just had to tell the server that he had a nut allergy, and they'd use a separate, clean scoop.

So we went there, and I read him all the flavours he could choose from -- about 25 different flavours. His eyes went wide with the selection, and inside, I was ecstatic because I figured that I could order him an ice cream cake from here for his birthday. Woo hoo!

He finally settled on the blackberry ice cream, and I got myself a papaya one, and Geoff got a mango one -- all non-dairy. Geoff's was fine, and looked tasty, and mine was great.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

After three or four licks, Andrew started grabbing at his throat, and complaining that it itched. I took the ice cream away from him, and took him to their bathroom, where he tried to throw up a few times.

I then gave the cone back to the servers, who continued to assure me that what I'd given him was non-dairy, and contained no nuts. (And to add insult to the injury, they didn't even offer me a refund on the ice cream, despite the fact that he was obviously having an allergic reaction.)

Did they not use a clean scoop, despite my request? I was too busy being delighted by the range of choices to actually watch the server get the scoop. Or is there just so much cross-contamination in their kitchen that they can't actually control for nuts or nut dust falling into other flavours?

I don't know what happened. All I can do is to advise you to avoid La Casa Gelato if you have nut allergies. (Andrew's almost outgrown his dairy allergy, so I'm pretty sure it was a nut reaction.)

Andrew was fine after a dose of antihistamine, though I did have his epipen with me just in case.

This is the first time that any restaurant or other place has served us something that caused him to have an unexpected reaction. And then, despite all evidence of his reaction, they continued to assure me that it wasn't their food that caused it.

I'm left feeling betrayed and mistrustful of all other restaurants now. And I don't like being in this place.

And Andrew was fine about the entire thing. He willingly handed over the faulty blackberry ice cream, and told me that "next time we go to the ice cream store, I won't get the sour blackberry one. It didn't make me feel good." He's only just turned 4 years old. At that age, he should be screaming in frustration that he can't have his ice cream on a hot summer day, not resigned to the fact that it contains something that's bad for him, so he won't eat it any more.

I love that he's so mature about his allergies. I love that he's able to ask "does this have dairy in it?" before he'll eat a new food. I love that, when something does contain an allergen, he will turn away from it, and not ask for it any more.

But I wish that he didn't have to do all of that, that he didn't have to ask, "mommy, what does die mean?" I want him to have a normal childhood. I want him to be able to taste any food that's out there. I don't want to have to watch for nuts and nut shells and be paranoid about everything that he comes into contact with.

But since I can't have that, then all I want is for restaurants and people who serve me food to not lie about what's in the food they've prepared for me, and be trained enough to know what the ingredients are, and how safely everything is prepared. And maybe even use a clean ice cream scoop. (See my Cobs bread experience for another bad learning experience.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Winner of the Wateroos contest!

Andrew chose #3 for the winner of the Wateroos contest, and that's Olena! Olena, can you contact me for how you'd like to get the penguin drinks for your kids?

(Yes, I'm horribly behind in my blog -- we just got back from our summer vacation.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

allergen-free peanuts?

Wow, this sounds like a bizarre fantasy or even an urban legend. Dare we hope that it's true?

N.C. A&T food scientist develops process for allergen-free peanuts
(via the Allergizer blog)

I can't even process how amazing this would be if it's real and safe for human consumption.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wateroos Review



The Wateroos folks sent me some free samples to try out on the kids, in exchange for a review on this blog.

I like the concept: flavoured water in a tetrapack box. It's got no sugar, but just enough flavour to appeal to kids. It would also travel well; I could leave it in the car for weeks or months without worrying about bacteria growing in it, since it's sealed. And of course, it contains nothing that Andrew's allergic to, which is always a delight and a relief.

What did the kids think? Well, Andrew liked the packaging, but barely finished half a box. Geoff also took a sip, but didn't finish his box either. I'll have to try it again when they're a little thirstier, or pack them along to the park next time, because the kids are always thirsty and hungry when they're playing. (I get the best meals into them when we're outside.)

Of course, the packaging -- for WATER! -- makes me feel incredibly guilty. I read an article about the marketing of water last week: "Message in a Bottle," which really made me think about our consumption choices. See also the No Impact Man blog for an example of one guy who's living as green as he can in New York City. On the other hand, the kids go through tetrapacks of juice when we're out, and that's the same amount of packaging.

(Also see more Wateroos reviews in the blogosphere. These guys are doing a TON of promotion!)

I'm also going to have this blog's first contest. If you want to win a couple of tetrapacks of Wateroos, leave me a comment on this post or email me at allergicmom (at) gmail (dot) com with your email address, and I'll have the kids draw a random winner. Deadline for entries: one week from today, which would be July 23.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dangerous kid's cartoon: That's So Raven

From bridges4kids Open Letter to Disney:

There's a scary episode of That's So Raven, which totally delivers misinformation about allergies and could be extremely dangerous for any kids watching it. Here's a snippet. Follow the link for the full letter to Disney.

The show was a spoof of Iron Chef with two teams cooking. “Raven” was on one team with her father. The required ingredients included mushrooms and you learned in the show that Raven was allergic to mushrooms. Her father saw the mushroom ingredients and cautioned her not to touch them and set them aside. The opposing team as a “funny joke” for the sitcom, INTENTIONALLY THREW MUSHROOMS INTO HER FOOD. She ate some and the allergic reaction was grotesquely spoofed, showing her face and hands swelling but she is able to breathe and talk and make a joke hoping that her behind was not getting bigger too, ha ha. (In an accurate depiction of a systemic reaction, she would be vomiting, struggling to breathe as her lungs and throat closed, and losing consciousness as she slipped into anaphylactic shock, possibly followed by death, even if emergency treatment were administered). She downplays her reaction and says its “no big deal” and “will go away in five minutes” (totally inaccurate). Her father tries to take her to the doctor but she refuses to go and is made out to be a HERO for toughing it out without treatment.

There have been great kids shows about allergies, but this isn't one of them. Slap on the wrist for Disney.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Allergy research

Two interesting research links crossed my screen this week, courtesy of google news alerts.

The first was about buckyballs, in nanotech research: "Allergy-fighting buckyballs created". I don't even pretend to understand these, outside of my favourite Greg Bear novels, but it looks promising.

The second sounds just as interesting: "No More Choking And Burning Eyes? New Approach To Eliminating Allergies, Asthma". (via Rational Jenn) This one's for my friends Sarah, Grace and Eric to decipher for me — and tell me how much hope there is in this line of research. I'm a little scared at the potential to de-activate the body's entire immune system, but if it can be properly targeted, then what a relief it would be to have my kids lead "normal" lives!

Friday, June 29, 2007

One super teacher!

I sure hope Andrew's teachers are like this one.

You've got to read this blog entry for one teacher's approach to dealing with allergies in her classroom.

(Via AllergyMoms)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Andrew's birthday party!

It's been such a busy week that I haven't blogged Andrew's birthday party yet!

He's truly madly deeply into Rescue Heroes right now, so we had a Rescue Heroes party for him.

Tony made a Wacky Cake, and then shaped it into a fire engine, based on instructions that we found online. The only problem was that the red food colouring, mixed with the white frosting, turned pink! Not that Andrew noticed. His eyes were just wide from all the candy that was loaded onto the cake -- all safe for his allergies!


He had about 15 kids for his birthday party, at Go Bananas, a kids' climbing centre. We also made wacky cake cupcakes, and decorated them with the same icing. It was a lot faster to hand out cupcakes to the kids than to wait for Andrew to cut through his cake.


And after a long birthday party, plus playing at Nana's house after the party, he totally crashed in the car on the way home, and slept for a couple of hours.

The next morning, he declared his birthday was "the best day ever." I was so happy for him. And we managed a birthday party where he didn't throw up. Whew!

Cobs update

Just a quick update post on Cobs: they apologized for the misinformation and sent me a $10 gift card.

More importantly, they're going to give their staff a briefing on what "dairy" means, including whey and casein, not just the word milk.

I did emphasize to their customer service person that the staff I met at Cobs were uniformly enthusiastic about their product, and they shouldn't be faulted for it. But unless you've gotten the training about allergies, or have allergies yourself, you simply don't know any better.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Another learning experience: Cobs Bread

Geoff and I went to Cobs Bread on Wednesday, when Andrew was in preschool, and picked up a bunch of different treats for us.

I was totally assured by the young woman at the front counter that everything I bought was dairy- and nut-free, so I went ahead and bought a lot of different things -- a blueberry cobbler, a box of lemon tarts, date bun, fruit bun, and whole wheat baguette.

And I let Andrew try them when he got home from preschool. He quite liked the blueberry cobbler, but his favourite was the lemon tart, which he got on Thursday. He ate two of those, one after breakfast and another one after dinner. He did go and play with the neighbourhood kids in the street after that, so I'm sure he burned off all that sugar.

And then this morning, I decided to check on the ingredients when I was writing up this blog post. (All of Cob's nutrition info is available online, so if you've got one near you, you can do your research before you get to the store.)

Well, everything I'd fed to Andrew contains whey powder! It seems that Cob's needs to teach its front counter staff about the other names for dairy, including whey and casein.

Thank goodness nothing happened. I think that Andrew didn't eat much of the blueberry cobbler. And with the lemon tart, he was digging out the lemon filling, but didn't eat the crust.

On the bright side, I did want to test whether his lower dairy allergy scores were for real or not. I guess they are.

Moral of this story: don't trust anything that the front counter clerk tells you about ingredients. Make sure to read it for yourself, despite the "no dairy" signs plastered throughout the store.

And yes, I will be letting Cob's Bread know about my experience.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I love Choices

One of the closest health food stores out here in the suburbs is Choices Community Markets. We went there tonight, and picked up the usual suspects, all of which are safe for Andrew. Their raisin bran muffins contain no dairy and are so yummy. Plus they carry a plain unflavoured quinoa, which we've just discovered and are really enjoying as a new carb. (If you follow the link, you'll find info on its high nutritional value: "quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete foodstuff ... ")

And as we were checking out, the kids got totally interested in the "candy" by the checkout stand. But this time, we were happy to buy it! It was something called Bare Fruit -- bake-dried organic fruit with nothing added but organic coconut oil, for $1.39/bag. Plus it's made in a nut-free facility. So I picked up a bag of bananas & cherries to try it. The kids ate the entire bag on the way home. Okay, so it was a small bag, but they'd had dinner, and shouldn't have been that hungry.

And now that the kids are asleep, I'm just thinking back at the experience of being able to buy something for them at the checkout stand, and feeding it to them in the car, without freaking out about possible allergic reactions. Wow. Is this how other parents of non-allergic kids feel?

I just can't see certain things without wincing any more. We walked through Choices' bulk food aisle, and I grabbed at Andrew when he went too close to the bins of nuts. I went grocery shopping without the kids earlier this week, and almost lost it because of the spilled milk on the checkout conveyor belt -- and I did arrange all of my groceries to not touch any of it. And when we went to Science World last week, I was totally watching all the other parents who were feeding their kids, just to make sure that there were no peanut butter sandwiches.

Yeah, my life is about being paranoid about food.

Tonight was an amazing break from that paranoia. What a nice feeling this is.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

want a free Joost invite?

Not allergy-related, but I've got a bunch of free Joost invites to give away. Joost is a prototype tv-on-the-internet service. It's also free for now. There aren't a lot of channels on it yet, but it's an interesting service.

To get one, leave me a comment with your email address, and I'll send one your way. In your comment, you must tell me how you found my blog. Feel free to substitute (at) and (dot) for the obvious parts of your email message.

Hives are all gone

Just a quick update for anyone who's following our saga of Andrew's hives. They're all gone now. Tony actually forgot to give him his Benadryl dosage before bedtime last night, and Andrew slept through the night without any pain or itching. And he hasn't gotten any Benadryl today, because he's not scratching and we can't see any hives.

I did a quick google search on "virus hives" and found a bunch of hits. Apparently it's not uncommon, so it just took a calm doctor to relieve all my fears.

It's yet another childhood ailment that other kids and parents just get through without too much panic. Alas, when you're got allergic kids, full-body hives for over 24 hours aren't something that can be easily brushed off.

The website I found also mentioned that the hives can come and go for the next few weeks, so we'll just keep the Benadryl handy. Oh wait, the Benadryl already comes everywhere with us. So in that aspect, at least, nothing will change.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sometimes, hives aren't an allergy symptom

Poor Andrew scratched himself all night, and woke up screaming from the itching a couple of times, despite liberal doses of Benadryl.

So I rushed him off to Children's Hospital this morning, and waited for two hours until we were seen. (There was only one person ahead of us when we got there at 7:30, but I guess they didn't have any doctors on.)

The verdict, once we finally got it: he's got some kind of weird virus that's causing the hives. Keep dosing him with Benadryl, and that's all we can do. The virus might last as long as two weeks.

Now I'm just hoping that Geoff doesn't catch this bug.

It took me another couple of hours to relax my system after putting it on red alert. He'd been having hives for almost 24 hours by the time we saw the doctor, and as a parent of a kid with severe allergies, that just hits all my panic buttons.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

random hives

Right now, I just want to put Andrew into a plastic bubble and serve him nothing but food that's been certified to be safe for him.

I had to work late today, and when I got home, Tony told me that Andrew was covered in hives and calamine lotion, and had been dosed with Benadryl.

What happened?

We're not sure ourselves. He hasn't eaten anything out of the ordinary today. He got picked up by Granny this morning, and they went and played at the beach. It was cold today, so he was in his galoshes and jacket, and the only exposed skin he had was his face and hands.

But after she washed his hands of all the beach sand and seaweed, she saw that he had what looked like bugbites popping up on his arms. She then took him to his favourite fish&chips place (where the batter only contains water, flour and vinegar, and is SO tasty!) and he had lunch there.

After lunch, the "bug bites" had gotten bigger and itchier, so she called Tony to find out what to do. He came home early and took Andrew to the clinic, who agreed that it was definitely hives. By this time, they were all over Andrew's chest, back, arms and legs.

But he didn't have any breathing difficulties, so they just said to give him Benadryl and cover him in calamine lotion for the itching.

When I got home, I got all of this news. He looked okay, and just a little bit bumpy when I checked his skin. But by around 8:00, he was itchy all over again, and the hives were getting big again.

So we popped him into an oatmeal bath, and dosed him with more Benadryl, and tucked him into bed. I've just checked on him, and it looks like the hives are going down again. Thank goodness he's being so cooperative about everything. He even let Tony trim his fingernails down so that he won't scratch himself bloody in his sleep.

Every cough he makes, and every weird sound I hear from his room, is setting off my fight-or-flight instinct. I'm totally on edge right now, and just trying to calm down.

I hate allergies. I hate that he has them. I hate that we don't know what caused this round of hives. (Our best guess is that maybe someone was shelling peanuts on the beach, and he played in some residue?)

I was riding so high on the fact that his dairy count seems to have decreased from last year. And now I've been brought crashing back to earth with this case of mystery hives.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More allergy blogs added

I've just added a few more great allergy-parenting blogs to my sidebar: Our Story, No Whey, Mama, He Can't Eat That, Food Allergy Queen, Living My Dream and Check My Tag.

Check them out!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Psst! Want a discount on allergen-free granola bars?


I love NoNuttin' Foods, and not just because they're based right here in British Columbia. I pack their granola bars into my kids' snack bag, and even if the other kids have a tasty-looking snack, Andrew's even happier with his chocolate chip granola bar. And of course, I'm happy because it's guaranteed to be nut-free, peanut-free and dairy-free. (For what it's worth, it's also a gluten-free production facility.)

With all of his major allergies, it's just a relief to be able to give him something that's safe for him to eat. This is also a huge help when we're out with friends, and his buddy's snack always looks tastier. (Sigh.)

So anyways, NoNuttin' has a referral offer on right now. Give them the magic coupon code -- "YUMMY" -- and you'll get $10 off your first order. (The fine print: you have to be a first-time customer and there's a minimum order of $50 Cdn, which is about $45 US.)

Full disclosure: If you give them my name -- "allergic mom" -- I'll get a $10 credit too. But even if you don't mention my name, you'll get the credit. And enjoy the allergen-free food too.

Apparently they just got mentioned in the Wall Street Journal for their Double Chocolate Chunk granola bars. Those will definitely be in my next order!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good news on his dairy allergy

We took Andrew in for his blood test a month ago, and there was a bit of a mixup about whether or not they could actually test for whey and casein separately, or if they could only test for milk. The lab ended up sending his blood sample to a different lab in the city, and we did end up getting RAST results for whey and casein.

Last year, he got about a 65 on the milk RAST test. This year, he's scored a 7 for whey, and a 14 for casein.

Woo hoo!

Yes, 7 and 14 are still in the anaphylactic range, but it's a huge drop from 70! Our fingers are crossed that he'll keep on dropping over the next couple of years, and outgrow his dairy allergy by the time he starts school.

His peanut score was still over a 100, and we tested him on cashews for the first time this year: he got 80. Oh, and his egg white score dropped as well, to 3. So he's still "technically" allergic, but the drop does explain why he can eat a whole boiled egg and not have any physical reaction at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hyper aware of allergies

Andrew and Geoff were giggling in the bathroom last night, as I was cleaning up the living room. When they came out, Andrew had a bandaid over his papercut from preschool yesterday, and Geoff had a Wiggles bandaid on the back of his neck.


We had bathtime just a half hour later, and Geoff was annoyed at the bandaid on his neck, so I peeled it off. Well, there was a rash and little red dots all around the edges of the bandaid.

So I had a good five minutes of sinking feeling in my stomach, and wondering if Geoff has a latex allergy, or if it was just that he'd been picking at it, and irritated his skin. And plotting out life without latex: avoiding birthday party balloons, being careful at doctors' checkups, and all the other places where latex hides.

If I didn't have an allergic kid, I'm sure that I'd have gone with the skin-irritation-from-scratching theory. After all, Occam's razor says, "the simplest solution tends to be the best one."

Instead, since I'm hyper aware of allergies, I went digging for the box of bandaids, and was thoroughly relieved to find that the bandaids are latex-free, so it was probably just irritation. Or an allergy to the adhesive, which is a lot easier to deal with than a latex allergy. One can avoid bandaids. Phew.

Bullies and allergies

I have Google news alerts set up to send me me news and blog postings about allergies. Today's alert included the posting "Mean Grown-Ups," from the Please Don't Pass the Nuts blog. (I've also added a link to this blog in my sidebar.)

This post also links to the Our Story blog, and I found one of the comments so enlightening that I wanted to excerpt it here: "Instead we teach him to be aware of his surroundings himself, to always be on alert. We have worked with the school on awareness and epi training. Everyone knows him and his situation. The school has been very accommodating. My son carries his epi/benedryl everywhere he goes in his fanny pack. He carries wipes with him to use on tables/surfaces he is not familiar with. He washes his hand constantly. Is this alot to ask of a 7 year old? Yes, but to him that is just the way it is. He doesn't know any different.....he has had these allergies all his life yet still leads a very normal life despite his allergies. He does not feel sorry for himself." (comment made by orgjunkie, who, amazingly, is also here in BC. It's a small world.)

I'm lucky that Andrew's not in school yet, but I'm also dreading that day because of these issues of parents who threaten to smear allergic kids with peanut butter.

And I just heard last weekend that my neighbour's 12-year-old daughter had pistachios waved in her face at her high school, with the taunt, "So, are you going to pass out if I do this?" Her mother went up to the school and spoke with the teacher, and was assured that it wouldn't happen again.

Bullying is bad enough in the schools. I get that kids need to play power games, just because they're learning how to deal with life. But when bullying threatens the life of my child, I'm afraid that I'm going to become one of those crusading allergic parents.

And I just don't get the parents who are bullies. They're setting horrible examples for their children, and it's no wonder that bullying then becomes such a huge problem in the schools.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What part of anaphylactic to peanuts don't you understand?

We were playing outside my mom's house today, and the 4-year-old girl from across the street came to join us. She really likes playing with Andrew when their schedules coincide — she's in daycare, and has a few classes scheduled too, so they only see each other once a month or so.

She went back inside at some point, and came out with dog cookies for her huge and friendly dog. Her dad assured us that the cookies were home-made, totally safe for dogs, adults and kids. He listed the ingredients, which included peanut butter.

My stomach churned, and my blood pressure went up, and then I reminded him that Andrew's allergic to peanuts — he'd been told before, but we don't see him very often. He let his daughter feed one cookie to her dog, and then took the tin away from her.

And then the dog proceeded to try to lick all of us. And the dad explained that "he's a licky dog, has been since he was a puppy."

So, what part of anaphylactic to peanuts do you not understand?

I should have just taken the kids inside, but instead, I just tried to keep Andrew away from the dog. He did most of it himself — he doesn't like overly-friendly big dogs anyways. Geoff is fascinated by dogs, so I wasn't so successful at keeping him away, but then again, we don't know if he's allergic to peanuts or not, though he's scratch-tested negative so far.

At the time, it didn't feel right to ask the dad to just put the dog in his back yard while the kids were playing, but that's probably what I should have done. We were only outside playing for half an hour, and then the kids got thirsty and wanted to go inside. (I'd also taken them to the park for an hour earlier, so they had plenty of outside play time.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Allergy Shock Hits Home

This article from the Victoria News is like a look into our future.

It shocked me, as I’m sure it shocked everyone who heard the tragic news, that a 13-year-old Esquimalt girl died last week from a severe allergic reaction after eating some fast food. ...

My youngest son is about her age and he too carries the burden of a potentially life-threatening allergy. It’s not clear what allergen killed Carley – she had allergies to peanuts and dairy products – however it is clear that she lapsed into anaphylactic shock and never recovered.

His son is about to go off on a band trip, his first without his parents. The fears that fill his head are also in mine. I hope that we'll be able to raise a responsible kid who's not too afraid of the world, and who will be careful with his life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Anaphylactic Student Protection Act

Another round of support and letters are needed.

On March 28, 2007, the Anaphylactic Student Protection Act, 2007 was introduced in the BC Legislature by an NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly, David Cubberley (MLA for Saanich South and New Democrat Education Critic). There was an impressive show of the support at the legislature by BC advocates and the local media picked up the story with province wide coverage. Overall, the day was quite successful.

Now it's time for action. As the MLAs review the need for this type of legislation, a massive show of support from the public is required. Given that the Bill was introduced by the opposition party (NDP), it's vital that they receive support from the governing party (Liberals) in order to increase the chances of the Bill being passed.

Sara Shannon, mother of the late Sabrina Shannon, sent a letter to each MLA, including the Premier, requesting their support of this non-partisan Bill. Mike Shannon, Sabrina's dad, attended the BC Legislature last week to show his support. For their ongoing efforts, we extend our deepest thanks to them both.

While the second reading is listed on the Orders of the Day for April 16, 2007, there is no guarantee that the Bill will be read that day. We urge you to send an email/letter to show your support today. Take this opportunity to share your story and why you think this Bill is so important. Your email should list some key messages which may include:

- Emphasis on children's safety and protection at schools
- Need for regular training and education for schools on anaphylaxis management
- Raise awareness of anaphylaxis in the community and need for support

For BC Residents: Send your emails directly to your MLA and to those politicians listed below:

For Non-BC Residents: Show your support by emailing:

- Premiere, Gordon Campbell: gordon.campbell.mla@leg.bc.ca

- Hon. Shirley Bond, Minister of Education: shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca

- David Cubberley: david.cubberley.mla@leg.bc.ca

If you are interested in connecting with other BC parents, please contact the following Anaphylaxis Canada members in the BC area:

Pam Lee at: pamela2543@shaw.ca or Caroline Posynick at aspa@posynick.com

Also, if you know of other parents who would be interested in helping to support this bill (with or without children at risk), please forward this email and ask them to send their letter of support as well. Everyone's voice deserves to be heard.

Together we can make a difference.

Anaphylaxis Canada

Another dead teenager

This one's too close to home. A 13-year old girl died from anaphylactic shock after eating with her friends. She had left her epi-pen in her locker, and went to the food fair in the mall.

The Vancouver Sun wrote:
Carley Kohnen, with allergies to a number of foods including dairy and peanuts, ordered a burrito and a doughnut from the Hillside mall food court on Thursday. According to her parents, she was told her food was free of the proteins to which she was deadly allergic. ...

Her parents told her to never try a new food without gaining permission from them first. Throughout Carley's young life her parents had hauled chefs and bakers out from their kitchens to assure them her food was free of dairy, peanut or egg. They read every package that went into making her food.

But in the end, even their best efforts couldn't protect her. Carley was a teenager, said her parents, and she longed to eat the same foods others kids enjoyed.



I know there are thousands of allergic kids who survive their teenage years. I hope Andrew does as well. Stories like this one, however, scare me shitless. Especially since it's the second dead child this week. My heart goes out to her parents.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Administrivia

I've added a couple of allergy-related blogs to my sidebar: No Peanuts Please, Rachel's Recipe Box, Notes from the Trenches and Mama Maven.

Definitely check out Rachel's Recipe Box for a ton of incredible looking recipes. I've really gotten into a food rut in the last year, and I'm hoping this will help me out of that rut.

Also, I've moved my knitting obsession to a new blog: Yarnfloozies, which I'm sharing with my friend Dotty. She's doing more posts than me, but I'm really enjoying our new digs over there.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What does "die" mean?

A 13-year-old Australian boy died last week from eating something with peanuts. He was away at a camp, and out of his normal routine. The allergy folks do warn that the most allergy-related deaths
occur among teenagers, because of their higher risk-taking behaviours. This scares me, but it's still a decade away, so perhaps Andrew will have outgrown his allergy by then. (I'm eternally hopeful, but still frightened.) His allergic reaction last week has led to quite a bit of clinginess and neediness over the last few days.

And right after we got him home from the clinic, Andrew asked "what does die mean?" That's a question that no 3.5 year old should have in their head, let alone think to ask. So from what we can tell from his questions and behaviour, he's trying to deal with the concept of mortality. It's something I can barely think about, so I'm struggling along here.

And another news piece for all the new moms out there: Apples and fish reduce allergies of babies in the womb. I didn't eat much fish when pregnant with Andrew (afraid of all that mercury), but with Geoff I did eat some sushi every week.

Wouldn't it be ironic if all that advice for moms on what to eat was actually contributing to the allergy epidemic? I remember being told not to eat peanut butter, fish, caffeine, and a whole lot of other things. I thought that was tough back then -- and now I'm on an even more restricted diet (no dairy, very little soy, no nuts or peanuts) and it's not that bad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

First epipen use

Where do I begin? Well, I guess it started with Geoff's cold, which started last week. Then Andrew got it, and I started getting it on Tuesday. It really was just a cold, but that's tough enough to deal with when Geoff's awake half the night to nurse because his breathing keeps waking him up.

Then yesterday, my mom accidentally gave Andrew a Chinese treat which had peanuts in it. He threw up twice, and was looking kinda listless, so she administered his epipen. Then she called Tony who dropped everything and rushed home, and he called me, and I sped home too. That was the longest SkyTrain ride ever.

My mom took Andrew to the clinic, which is where I met up with them. Andrew was totally fine, Geoff needed a nap, and my mom, Tony and I were shaking with stress.

Since he was there anyways, the doctor gave him a general checkup and found that he had an ear infection. So we get the antibiotics and go home to give them to him. He refused to take them after the first taste. We persuaded him into most of it anyways yesterday.

Today was a different matter -- nothing was going to get him to open his mouth. My mom finally asked me if I'd tasted it, and when I did, I figured out why he wouldn't take it -- it was NASTY. Think bitter, then metallic, then bitter and disgusting. I have no idea why the pharmacist gave us that for a CHILD!

We went back to the Shopper's tonight, and they gave us a pill instead, which Andrew ate once it was buried in some ice cream.

Moral of the story -- if your kid complains that the "medicine tastes like YUCK", dip your finger in it and give it a taste, because you might just agree with him.

We won't go into what my mom learned about treats for Andrew. She's still freaking out and mad at herself.

Anaphylaxis legislation in BC

I just got this from Anaphylaxis Canada today, and I'm spreading the word about it.

____________________

Dear Registrant,

We thought you would be interested in knowing that a key piece of legislation is being introduced in the BC Legislature regarding anaphylaxis policies in public schools for the province of British Columbia. A private member's bill is scheduled to be proposed on Wednesday March 28, 2007 by David Cubberley (MLA for Saanich South and New Democrat Education Critic). This bill is entitled "Anaphylactic Student Protection Act 2007".

Many of you have children who would benefit from province-wide standards for anaphylaxis management plans.

Don't remain silent on this important issue. Your support is needed now.

To find out how you can support this bill personally, contact your MLA directly. Click on the following link to send an email to your MLA today: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-4.asp and also provide a copy of the email to: Mr. Cubberley's office at david.cubberley.mla@leg.bc.ca and to Hon. Shirley Bond, Minister of Education at shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca.

You are also welcome to attend the legislative session being held tomorrow at 1:30pm at the BC Legislature Parliament Buildings in Victoria to show your support. If you would like to attend this session please contact Mr. Cubberley's Legislative Assistant, Brian Kowalski at 250-953-4741 for further details.

For more information on how you can connect with other parent advocates in the BC area, please contact Anaphylaxis Canada directly at info@anaphylaxis.ca and we can forward your information.

Please feel free to share this information with others in your community.

Together we can make a difference.

Anaphylaxis Canada

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lactose free chocolate bars

Happiness is … a kid getting his very first chocolate bar.

Yeah, most parents frown on giving chocolate bars to their kids. But when your kid can't have any chocolate because most of it contains dairy or nuts, you start looking for ways to give him treats.

We've got two kids' birthday parties this weekend, which means that Andrew will be looking at birthday cake and treats, and probably won't be able to eat most of them. So when someone showed me these chocolate bars at lunch today, I went and bought one of each for Andrew.

These are Ross Chocolates, made in BC, and lactose free. The label says "may contain nuts" so I called them to check on what that means. They told me that they also make a chocolate bar which contains almonds, and another with coconut (which isn't considered a nut). Since Andrew's eaten both almonds and coconut safely, that eliminated a major worry for me.

They're available at Shopper's Drug Mart, in the candy section. He got a couple of pieces before dinner, and another piece after dinner. He was a happy kid!

Good thing he didn't know about the other two bars that are in my bag. I won't bring them out until the birthday parties on Sunday.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Family photos

We had family photos done a couple of weeks ago, by Nadine Inkster, who's a local wahm. She's really good, and gets the kids all loosened up and happy to be photographed.

Andrew jumped over the stool again, like he did last year.
Geoff can't jump yet, so he just picked up the stool like the strong little kid he is.
And another family shot ... Nadine had so many good photos that it was hard to choose which one I liked best.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Readymech crafts


I just found these amazing cutout craft projects at Readymech. Andrew's almost ready for these. We did snowflakes over Christmas, and he's getting really great with scissors. (He's not ready for the 3D snowflakes yet, but maybe next Christmas ...)

My only problem will be with the tape. He loves tape. He loves to wrap it around the banisters, chairs, doorknobs, cupboard handles ... anything that will stay still long enough to be wrapped. So anything that involves tape is a high-supervision activity.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New allergies blog

Thanks, Hew, for your comment and links! I found two super new allergies blogs, plus an interesting Time article on how children and families struggle to deal with their allergies.

The Time article is particularly (ahem) timely because Andrew seems particularly sensitive these days to the fact that he has allergies and most other kids don't.

We were at my mom's house for dinner on Saturday night, and she'd baked some fish cakes which had dairy in the breading. I guess he wanted fish that night, because a few bites into his dinner, he put stopped eating, put his head down on the table and looked so sad. He finally said that he was hungry for fish, so my mom made him some safe fish-sticks and fries, which he ate happily. But his sadness was overwhelming for him -- he almost started wailing just thinking about it. Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could take away his allergies and let him lead a normal life which doesn't have all these food issues in it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Commercial foods Andrew can eat

I'll be working on this list regularly, but if I don't get it posted now, I'll just keep on procrastinating on it.

We've got a reasonable list of commercial/processed foods that Andrew can eat, and I figured I'd share it to help others with allergic kids. There are lists out on the Internet, but most of them are American, and have brands that we can't get up here (like Sunbutter, a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds).

This list fits Andrew's allergies: dairy (including the other names for dairy: whey, casein and lactose), nuts, and peanuts. Some of these things are egg-free. Andrew's got a pretty violent reaction to traces of dairy or nuts/peanuts -- he throws up within about 5 minutes -- so if he's eaten a food and not thrown up, I've added them to our "safe" list.

I haven't read the labels for soy content, so if you're also soy-allergic, then you'll have to check the labels out for yourself. And remember, always read the label for yourself, as ingredients can change over time.

Restaurants
  • McDonald's chicken nuggets (Edited to add: Patti just commented that this contains whey, so it's off-limits for dairy allergies. But Andrew's been eating this all along with no reactions, so I'm going to get him allergy-tested again to see if he's outgrown his allergy over the last year.)
  • McDonald's fries
  • McDonald's filet o'fish -- if you hold the cheese
  • Boston Pizza kids meal, chicken strips and fries
  • Japanese restaurants are pretty much dairy- and nut-free. Our kids won't eat sushi, but will eat tempura and udon noodles.
  • (We don't -- okay, we CAN'T -- eat out much, so this isn't a huge list)

Grocery store -- meats
  • Maple Leaf Top Dog hot dogs
  • Johnsonville Italian sausages
  • Maple Leaf Breakfast Grill (bacon substitute)
  • Most ham has been safe so far
  • Save On has amazing marinated meats (chicken, steaks, etc.). Most of their marinades are safe -- just don't get the maui.
  • Duso's Raviollini -- mini ravioli pastas, no dairy content, does contain whole eggs. I boil them up with some peas or broccoli, and it's a balanced meal in one pot. They're so small that they're a perfect toddler bite. Available at Save On, but you just have to stalk the Duso's section as it's only there every other week, as far as I can tell.

Grocery store -- breakfast
  • Save On's Western Family instant apple&cinnamon oatmeal (the Quaker oatmeals all have dairy added now)
  • New World organic raisin granola (available through spud.ca, a home delivery service)
  • Cheerios
  • Life
  • Mini-Wheats
  • Shreddies
  • NoNuts Golden Peabutter -- made from peas, and tastes very much like peanut butter. Andrew loves this stuff.

Grocery store -- cookies & chips & snacks
  • Dare Simple Pleasures cookies, most brands (oatmeal is the tastiest). All are nut-free, some contain dairy.
  • Ritz crackers -- there are a few varieties that are safe, including the Ritz Sticks and the multigrain and whole wheat ones
  • Oreos -- just not the peanut butter ones. Mini Oreos are a real treat for him.
  • Country Choice organic sandwich creme cookie -- organic oreos, basically, and I like the flavour much more than oreos (plus I can actually pronounce most of the ingredients)
  • Robert's Veggie Booty -- these are tasty and you can pretend they're healthy because they contain spinach, kale, and other greens.
  • Superstore's President's Choice popcorn, organic or regular.
  • Fruit leathers have been safe so far
  • The socalled "fruit snacks" have been safe, but contain so much sugar that I try to save them for special treats.
  • Nature's Choice cereal bars (come in tons of fruit flavours)
  • No Nuttin granola bars (see the Nonuttin' website)
  • Nature's Path organic crispy rice bar -- cheetah berry.
  • Most brands of Pop Tarts (not the yogurt ones, obviously) are safe, but again, high in sugar, so saved for special occasions.

  • For toddlers: Gerber Graduates finger foods, shaped like stars, sweet potato, strawberry or apple flavour

Grocery store -- Bakery
  • Breads are about 50/50 on dairy content, so we read the labels very carefully. The McGavin's bread basket stores have lots of multigrain breads that are safe for him.
  • Two bite brownies are dairy-free -- and dangerous!
  • Fruit pies are usually safe, but again, we usually read all the ingredients just to be sure.

Grocery store -- dairy
  • VeganRella rice cheese, mozza or cheddar flavours. I don't like these plain, but they melt down really well in a grilled cheese sandwich with ham. (Most of the other soy cheeses contain casein, which is a dairy derivative.)
  • Fleishmann's margarine is the only widely-available margarine that's dairy-free.
  • Earth Balance Buttery Spread is dairy-free, available in health food stores, and tastes like butter
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice. Minute Maid's the usual brand we buy, but Superstore also has a President's Choice brand. Andrew doesn't get enough calcium in his diet, and he won't drink enough milk (since I tried to sneak some breastmilk into his rice dream), but he will drink juice
  • Rice Dream fortified milk
  • Rice Dream ice creams are pretty good
  • Superstore's President's Choice sherbets, non-fat, lemon or raspberry flavours. (And the cheap ice cream cones are safe.)

Grocery store -- freezer
  • McCain's Smiles potatoes -- couldn't get through a week without these!
  • Most hashbrowns and fries have been safe so far
  • Amy's Roasted Vegetable pizza -- I cut up some sausages or put ham on top for added protein. The irony of adding meat to a vegan pizza is not lost on me.
  • Highliner fish sticks and fish cakes. Again read the labels -- some highliner products have dairy in the breading
  • M&M Meat Shops' chicken strips are super tasty and dairy free
  • M&M cabbage rolls -- dairy free and if you get the large platter, it's a huge dinner plus two lunches the next day.
  • M&M had one brand of breaded fish that was dairy free and really tasty. (Can you tell we're doing an M&M run tomorrow?)

Vitamins
  • Hero Yummi Bears are his multi-vit, but they don't have a lot of calcium
  • For me: Lifetime liquid calcium/magnesium -- comes in pina colada, lemon, orange, and they're tasty
  • For Andrew: Swiss Calcium & Magnesium chewable
  • Sisu Kiddie Calcium, black cherry fizz flavour, chewable
  • Sisu also has a line of liquid calcium supplements. I don't like the flavour, but Andrew does. We sometimes add the liquid calcium to smoothies.
  • Sisu kiddie acidophilus is dairy-free
  • Flora bear chewable acidophilus is dairy free (Acidophilus is on here because one of the current theories about allergies is a lack of intestinal flora. So what the heck, it's the cure that can't harm.)
  • Superstore now carries a sour gummy bears calcium supplement that's not expensive and that Andrew likes to eat.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And then there were two...

...imaginary sisters that is.

Apparently Indeger Patty has a sister too; her name is Kidsteer Motor, probably derived from the skidsteer machines that have been parked nearby. There's been some paving work going on at the local highschool (turning the gravel shoulder into paved parking), so there have been several pieces of construction equipment parked there for a few weeks as the paving has, no dobut, been delayed by the storms that have been hitting us.

We've had 14 storms since the beginning of December - some with 90+kph winds, all with 60+ kph, and each time we get wind, we get heavy rain (6" in 24 hours in one case) or snow.

(guest post by Tony, whose imaginary friends included Tomato Cherry, House Baloney and Ambulance Busdriver)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yarn sale!

If you're a knitter and you haven't hit the Ram Wools 30% off sale, go now! They've got 30% off everything. I got up early this morning to place my order for Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, and they've already sold out of my first two colour choices (purple and blue), so I got red instead. (I was actually torn between the three colours, so it did help to have part of my decision made for me.)

I'm late onto the bandwagon, but I'm thinking that this would make a nice Rogue or Eris sweater. Or I might just buy one of the Viking Knits books and do one of those beautiful cabled designs. Oh, decisions, decisions. I bought 10 balls, so I should have enough to do a sweater and a couple of scarves. Or maybe design a nice long cabled skirt.

They also had sea silk on for 30% off, which worked out to about $25 Cdn. But all the really pretty colours were sold out as of this morning, and I'm not feeling brave enough to do my own dyeing, so I didn't get any sea silk.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yummy cashmere socks



I don't think you can buy this kind of luxury — you have to make it for yourself.

I bought some cashmere yarn off ebay in early December, and barely restrained myself from knitting it up into a pair of socks right away. I had a ton of gift socks to finish up, plus four pairs of Fetching handwarmers for Andrew's preschool teachers. (I forgot to take photos of the Fetchings before I wrapped them up, unfortunately. Then my mom and sister in law had liked them so much that I had to knit up a couple more pairs just for them — and again, they were done at the last minute, so I didn't have time for photos.)

So I just kept the ball of cashmere by the keyboard, and fondled it a lot until I got to cast the socks on, which was December 25. I cast them off on December 31, and wore them on the first day of the new year. I'm hoping that's a good omen for the rest of this year — lots more handmade socks for me!

My current project is a pair of gift socks in Knitpicks Dancing for a friend's birthday gift. She wants knee socks, so I've got a ton of stockinette knitting ahead of me. But I'm doing most of my knitting on my commute to work, which makes my commute go pretty quickly. That, and I've finally mastered the art of balancing my new video ipod on my lap and knitting to the side of it, so I can watch a movie and knit at the same time.

Is it bad that I look forward to my commute to work as my "me" time?

Oh, and I should share some photos of the boys.


Richmond General Hospital's emergency room has a great kids playspace in it, with two pretend-airplane cockpits. (Richmond is home to the Vancouver International Airport, for those of you out-of-town readers.) I'm hoping this isn't part one of a series of "emergency rooms I have taken Andrew to". We just have to make sure he doesn't have any more allergic reactions.



The boys loved opening their Christmas stockings. Then the next day, Andrew wanted to get another stocking. Then the day after that, he wanted to know when it would be Christmas again.

Ah, to be three again.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Google pedometer

Okay, now I've got a new favourite toy: Google Pedometer.

Click away on your favourite walking route, and it'll tell you how many miles or kilometers you walk on that route.

Our usual route, from our house, down to the bog trail, over to 70th Street, and back, takes 2.6 miles/4.2 km.

So if I want to do the Walk 100 miles by April challenge, we'll have to do that walk 50 times. The walking part would be easy enough to do. It's getting the boys to cooperate that's the tough part. Andrew wants to walk, then he wants to be in the stroller, then he wants to go home, then he wants to collect "treasures", then he wants a snack ...

And Geoff now wants to walk part of the way, too, then he wants in the stroller, then he wants to be carried, then he wants to walk ... sigh.

Web magazines for thinking moms

I found a couple of very cool web magazines for thinking moms yesterday.



Literary Mama is subtitled "A Literary Magazine for the Maternally Inclined." It's got plenty to keep you thinking. If you're a mom, read the Sex in the Suburbs columns. Funny stuff.


Mamazine.com is another excellent site. I read a few articles yesterday, and had their words and images echoing around my head for the rest of the day.

So many websites, so little time!

Cool toys

A couple of neat toys ....



First up: A metal pen that will last forever because it has no ink. From the Grand Illusions website.


And this one's for Tony: a mileage calculator which uses Google Maps to figure out business travel mileage.