Thursday, December 20, 2007

Solstice Party

I am having a solstice party on Saturday (and Jodie it is on the 22nd this year). I love the solstice. To me it is the most wonderful and peaceful day of the year. It means that each day after that one the sun will shine longer. What can be more hopeful than that?

The allergies we are dealing with are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, sunflower seed (my kids) and wheat (a guest). My garlic and seafood allergy friends couldn't make the party. I also have one child avoiding citrus, a vegetarian, and 2 pregnant women.

So here is the menu. I realize not everyone can eat everything but I think there is something for everyone. I particularly wanted to avoid dairy though, just to show that you can have a nice spread without any cheese.

Hummus with fresh cut up veges
Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips (I'm not going to tell people this is vegan and see if they like it)

Main Dish:
Leg of Lamb with mint jelly
Lentil Vegetable soup

Solar Candy
Chocolate covered marshmallows on sticks
Candy Canes

Wassail (non-alcoholic)
Mulled wine
Assorted Teas and Hot Chocolate
Seasonal Beers

We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blog Catch Up

I'm going to try to play blog catch up today. With Max home it is nearly impossible to get on here. So though I feel like it is blog cheating I am going to post date some entries.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Study: Outgrowing Allergies

When Max was diagnosed the allergist told me 80% of children outgrow milk and egg allergies by the time they are three. When he was three and hadn't outgrown our allergist told me he would definately outgrow milk and egg by the time he got to kindergarten. When he turned five and still hadn't outgrown I asked the allergist what his chances were. The allergist just shrugged his shoulders.

There is a new study out saying that only 20% to 40% outgrow milk by the time they reach school-age and only 4% - 26% outgrow egg by that time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Pizza Friday

Last day of school before the winter break and holiday concert day. The day before Max's teacher said one little girl wasn't going to be returning and she wanted to bake something for the class. Usually when baking comes up I just offer to do it but I have this terrible cold and felt like me baking something for a bunch of people would set off an epidemic. So I think the teacher was surprised when I said "Sure I've got lots of recipes. Why don't you stop by our house and pick them up?" She did come by. I gave her recipes and soy milk, as she had none herself.

The cake looked good. Max was extremely surprised he was allowed to eat it to. He asked me three times if it was safe for him.

I do wonder about Max getting paranoid about his allergies. Max was again sitting by himself when we joined him in his classroom but at least the table was near the other children instead of tucked in a corner surrounded by book shelves. He told me right away that he wanted to sit by himself because he didn't want to be by the other children eating pizza. I wonder if there is some jealousy in his actions. Some feelings of realizing he is different and so segregating himself from the other children. I do hope he outgrows milk soon. I hate that he might feel different than other children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gingerbread House: The issue that wasn't an issue. Or Was It?

After picking up Max from school Monday I had three issues with the gingerbread house project:

1) As I was walking up to school, I saw another child from Max's class with a gingerbread house decorated with lovely puffy frosting. Picking up Max I noticed his frosting was different, a little runnier, not as bright white, definitely the frosting I had made yet different than what I saw on the other houses. Would your first thought be that they had let the other children use the egg based frosting because it works better and had only Max use his frosting? That was my thought. I was suddenly worried that they had asked me to make frosting and then behind my back used the egg frosting anyway. The container I had sent was empty and washed.

2) Max's graham crackers were "glued" to a dairy carton (he's allergic to milk as well as egg).

3) As I put him in the car Max asked why I had made him share his candy (I had sent safe candy with him as well. Though it was my thinking the candy they supplied for the other kids was without milk, egg, peanut and they weren't supposed to be eating it anyway, I wasn't able to read all the cross-contam statements so thought it best to send Skittles, marshmallows, Gimbals jelly beans, and Spangler candy canes). I asked what he meant and he said the teacher had said that I said he HAD to share his candy. I don't care if he shares his safe candy, I certainly sent plenty of it. But I didn't say he HAD to. I don't like it when teachers lie to my child and say I said something I didn't say.

Coming home I was concerned, mainly about number one. I wasn't angry or freaking out. To me it was a matter of breaking my trust. I was under the impression that I was making frosting for the whole class (which is only 8 kids) so that the egg frosting would not be used for gluing together the gingerbread houses. Granted the egg frosting is stickier and looks better on a gingerbread house. Could this be why they went behind my back?

I called the next morning. I was calm. Explained what I "thought" might have happened. The director was aghast that it might be the case the the art teachers used the wrong frosting. She said both she and Max's teacher had emphasized Max's life threatening allergy and made it clear that I was bringing the frosting for the entire class. She said she would look into it.

She called me back shortly. The teachers said they had indeed used my frosting. All of it. Toward the end of class some students weren't done and there was no more frosting. So one of the teachers got the other frosting and applied it herself to the houses of those students needing more. The children did not handle the frosting. The director reiterated that the frosting should not have been used at all.

I'm okay with this. I was more concerned that they had outright lied to me. Which they didn't. I felt it was also a slippery slope; that they might think "Oh well, we used the egg based frosting that one time and nothing happened to Max, why don't we just do it again?" The director and Max's teacher understood this and my concerns (I didn't bring up number 3 that's just between you and me). And I think we are all good?

Did I over react? Under react? Act in just the right and reasonable manner?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Food Allergy Challenge of the Day

From reading others posts in the many online support groups I belong to, I knew that one day I would be confronted with the Gingerbread House Challenge. Putting together a gingerbread house requires the use of meringue frosting which contains egg. So last week Max's teacher informed me that Max's class would be making gingerbread houses in art class. I did what I do as a FAM, I volunteered to make the frosting for everyone. And since I knew someday I would be confronted with this problem, I had no problem locating the recipe. Here it is for your own Gingerbread House Day when it comes:

ROYAL ICING (Egg free, can be corn free)

2 cups confectioner's sugar (corn free or homemade if allergic)
1/2 cup light corn syrup (or rice or cane sryup)
1/2 tsp vanilla or other extract (I left this out because it makes the frosting look "dirty")
food coloring (optional)
2 or more Tbsp water

Sift sugar. Add sryup, water and extract to sugar in medium bowl and whisk to blend well. USe food coloring to tint to desired shade/color. Add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth yet thin enough consistency to paint on cookies. Let dry before covering to store. Dires to a matte finish like royal icing. Can be used for decorations, ie gingerbread house glue.
From Kathy Lundquist The Kid Friendly Kitchen

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's Not a Competition

I like knowing other parents of children with food allergies. It is nice to know I am not alone. However, sometimes, it feels like a competition. I recently posted to a new support group I belong to a question about local allergist because I was frustrated that it was going to take 4 months to get into see ours (see Busy Busy Allergists). One parent chimed in with all her child's allergies and how her RAST numbers had gone up and said that though I was frustrated "it could be a lot worse."

I just don't like it when parents play the "my child is more allergic" card. An allergy is an allergy and I really would prefer to hear "I'm right there with you." Don't try to make my problems smaller than yours.

I lay awake for a long time the other night thinking of replies to this parent and in the end bit my tongue. Despite my annoyance, I need these people.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Holiday Nuts (pun totally intended)

I bought a book recently titled "Yule" in order to prepare for my upcoming Solstice party. (The solstice has long been my favorite day of the year and though I celebrate it I am not Wiccan or Pagan). The book is a little to wiccanly spiritual for me. Lots of ritual blessing and chanting. I was more looking for recipe and decorating ideas. I'll give it to my sister when I'm done; she is a practicing wiccan.

But to get to the point. One of the decorating ideas required gluing nuts to wreaths and yule logs and I thought "Well, not in this house." However, nuts and holidays brought up a childhood memory. I have already posted about Jack Robinson's Hardware and the peanuts on the floor. The other nutty memory I have recalls my Grandmother's house during the holidays. She always had a bowl of whole nuts set out in one of those bowls that looks like a hollowed out log. I loved going over there and cracking walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds. By New Year's the bowl had always been picked over so the filberts were the only nuts remaining.

Are there any holiday traditions your food allergic child can't participate in?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Busy Busy Allergists

I called the allergist to make appointments for the boys yesterday. I was aiming for February appointments so was quite proud of myself for calling so far in advance. When I said so to the receptionist her reply was "Oh, I don't think so." The earliest appointment for Max's skin test was April 16 and the earliest appointment for Owen's egg challenge (still makes my heart skip a beat) was April 1st (April Fool's day for a food challenge? Seems like a bad omen.)

Allergist are increasingly hard to get into. Talking to our allergist at a visit last year, I mentioned the area needed a support group. He said "Well, you won't have a lack of members. When my partner and I opened our business in the early 80's we had no idea food allergies would be this prevalent. It's an epidemic."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Peanut Report

We went to a tree farm to cut down our tree yesterday. After picking the perfect tree we sidled over to the barn for hot apple cider. Lo and behold next to the cider for your shelling enjoyment were, what else, peanuts. I quickly ushered the kids out of the barn and bought a soda to share from a very competant and charming 8 year old boy selling such things.

Peanuts, they're everywhere.