Saturday, November 23, 2013

Third Grade Bible Class Sleepover

Bubs is in third grade now.  At our church that means he will be presented a Bible.  As part of his preparation for being presented a Bible, he was to attend weekly meetings in November, then go to a sleepover with his fellow third graders.  The sleepover was last night, and  the presentation will be tomorrow at our regular church service.

The night of the first class, I spoke to the teacher about Bubs' food allergies.  I wanted to know if food would be offered in the weekly classes and what the food situation would be for the sleepover.  She assured me that there would be no food at the weekly classes, and that parents would be providing food for the sleepover.  That food included popcorn and cookies for a movie on Friday night and eggs and toast with jelly for breakfast on Saturday morning. I told her I would bring food for Bubs to have so he would feel included.    

I followed up our discussion with an e-mail detailing what we had discussed and ways to help keep Bubs safe, including asking the kids to wash hands after eating.

Thought this was cute

Last night was the sleepover.  The evening began with an art project which involved decorating a wooden treasure chest.  There were markers, stickers, glitter, and paint.  Of course, the paint was not the washable kind.  In fact, it was fabric paint!  And, of course, my child gets paint on his clothes.  Ugh!

Next was a movie.  Popcorn was popped and passed around in brown paper bags.  I grabbed one of the paper bags and poured Bubs' safe popcorn into it.  The other kids had lemonade made from a powdered mix, so I offered Bubs water instead.  The kids continued to watch the movie, but they never did wash their hands. 

I know the wheat pictured here represents the bread of life,
but it only reminded me of gluten :( 

After the movie was over, they got a tour of the old, historic church.  Then it was time to lie down and go to sleep.  Yeah, right!  These kids were fired up.  With girls in one room and boys in another, there was a lot of giggling coming from one room and lots of loud rowdiness coming from the other.  They did all drift off to sleep eventually. 

Around 1:30 am, the  boys had a surprise awakening.  An exterior window to their room was kicked in by a (drunk, I'm assuming) young man who was mad at his girlfriend.  The dads in the room acted quickly and moved the boys out of that room and into a safe interior room of the church.  And they called 911.  After breaking the window, the man then began to try to knock down a door to the church.  Luckily he was still there when the police arrived, and he was arrested.  This will be a night the boys will never forget! 

All the kids and parents were safe, and when morning came, breakfast was served.  Eggs and toast.....and the cookies that hadn't been served the night before.  Bubs had chosen to take an Enjoy Life Cinnamon Bun bar for his breakfast (yes, I realize it is a decadent bar and not a proper breakfast bar, but this was a special occasion).  He ate his bar and two Enjoy Life sugar cookies for breakfast.  We will have to be sure to offer a healthy lunch and dinner for this guy!

Breakfast of champions

I did overhear the teacher ask the kids to wash their hands once they were done eating breakfast, but everyone was leaving after breakfast, so no hands were washed....except Bubs'.

While the hand washing didn't go as I had hoped, it also didn't end up being a problem.  I had his meds with me, as always, in case of an incident.  But once again we came home without having had to open our Allermates case to use his allergy meds.  Another successful outing and another great memory made!

Posing for the camera




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Puppy Chow (Free of Milk, Gluten, Peanuts, Eggs)

A rare treat we had at my family get-togethers growing up was puppy chow.  What goes together better than chocolate and peanut butter?  Two of my faves!  But now that I have kids with food allergies, we must adjust.  I took our family recipe and tweaked it to meet our needs.
Puppy Chow
1/4 c milk-free butter (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)
3 c chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
1 c peanut butter alternative*
12 oz Rice Chex (gluten-free)
3 c powdered sugar

Over low heat, melt butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter alternative.  Pour mixture over Rice Chex and mix.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Put cereal and powdered sugar in a paper bag and shake well.  Pour into a bowl and freeze 1-2 hours. 

*I halved this recipe and added 1/2 c Barney's almond butter (which is dedicated peanut-free) to one half and 1/2 c Wowbutter (made with soy) to the other half.   

Both batches taste eerily like the original peanut butter version.  So delicious!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding Myself at FABlogCon 2013

I just got home from an amazing three days in Las Vegas for the first annual Food Allergy Bloggers Conference (FABlogCon).  My head is still spinning from all that happened there.  I met so many wonderful people and learned tons of new information. 

My sister-in-law and fellow blogger (Lacy from Making it Milk-Free) and I decided to take this journey together.  The women who worked so hard to put this event together (Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum) coordinated with Chef Keith at South Point Hotel and Casino to make the meals safe for all attendees. I don't have any allergies myself, but I am a very picky eater, and I was worried that I might go hungry.  But I can assure you, I was stuffed after each meal.  They did a great job making accommodations to meet all the special diet needs.

Seeing the sights in Vegas

Upon check-in for FABlogCon, we were given not one, but two swag bags full of goodies from several allergy-friendly companies, including.  I couldn't believe the generosity of these companies.  My kids will most definitely feel the love from this community.  There were lots of free samples, coupons, literature, and flyers.  I will be sorting through and reading everything from these wonderful companies.

Me and Making it Milk-Free at FABlogCon

As the lectures began, I looked around and saw most people either on their laptops or using their smart phones.  I quickly realized that at a blogging convention, it is not considered impolite to tweet or instagram during a lecture.  In fact, it is flattery.  Not the type of technology etiquette I am used to, but I joined right in.  When in Rome...

Making it Milk-Free, Me, and Amazing and Atopic

There were so many great presentations given by well-spoken individuals in the food allergy community.  There was lots of helpful information, not only about blogging, but about food allergies in general.  After dealing with food allergies and food sensitivities for so long, you think you know it all.  It's great to attend an event like this and expand your world. 

I learned about how to be a better advocate, legal issues surrounding epi in schools, 504 plans and why they are so helpful, and cutting edge research.  I was given the confidence to move forward with my children's school to push for no food in the classrooms, not only for my kids' sake, but for general wellness. Just think about the epidemic of childhood obesity, kids with diabetes, families with religious beliefs that restrict certain types of foods, and simple preferences of parents. I learned that social media is about celebrating others, not shining a light on yourself.  I learned how to be a more effective blogger.

During some of the lectures, I felt the material was a bit out of my league and over my head.  They were targeting the big wig bloggers, not the "mommy bloggers."  As I listened to ways to better my blog, monetize my blog, become a spokesperson for companies, I gave a lot of thought as to why I blog and what I want out of it.  I determined that the reasons why I blog now are for the same reasons that I started blogging.

  • I want a place to journal, to vent, to keep a diary.  I find it therapeutic to share things in my life as they happen, good or bad. 

  • I want to share our story.  Maybe even help someone out there who is facing the same challenges we are.

  • I want to educate others, be an advocate for my children and others with food allergies.

What I have found through all this is an amazing network of online support.  People who want to be educated and learn about food allergies -- how to prevent a reaction, how to handle a reaction, and how to help in any way possible.  People who know what I am going though because they are also walking in my shoes.  People with other types of food or health issues that are educating me and helping me understand their world. 

My online community and reality collided this weekend at FABlogCon.  I had the privilege and honor of meeting so many amazing women (and a few men) who "get it."  They understand what I go through on a daily basis.  They share my fears, my battles, my hopes, and my joys.

This was the place I was able to talk to, hug, and laugh and cry with all these fabulous ladies I follow online. It was surreal.

I got to meet with vendors from several allergy-friendly companies, many of which I already use their products.  It was so wonderful to meet face-to-face with the people who help make these products available to us.  I got to speak with representatives from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), listen to Nevada Senator Debbie Smith talk about how she helped make it possible to mandate stock epi in Nevada schools (6 lives have been saved because of this law since it passed), and hear from Dr. Eric Edwards, the creator Auvi-Q (the newest epi auto-injector).  I got to sit at breakfast and talk with leading asthma and allergy doctors, the creator of an online EEpiPen training course, and many others leaders in the food allergy community.  I got to hear the most up-to-date research on finding treatment for food allergies. 

I think food allergy bloggers are instantly bonded by subject alone, but what was incredible is that I truly believe I would be friends with these women if I happened to meet them by chance. This is just such a great group of passionate, smart, motivated people who make this world a better place by sharing their knowledge.
I heard over and over again what an amazing job the founders did organizing this event. It went off without a hitch. My response was, "Of course. They are food allergy moms."  We are prepared and organized. Always. 

Making it Milk-Free, Freedible, Amazing and Atopic, Me, and Allergen-Free Baker