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.