Friday, November 30, 2012

Gaining Weight and Regaining Health

When the boys were first diagnosed with their food allergies they had fallen off the growth charts to below the zero percentiles. Also, due to their compromised immune systems and inability to absorb all the nutrients from their food their height had plateaued as well. My boys looked quite frail and terms like “failure to thrive” were mentioned and frankly, scared me.
I scoured books from the library, information from the Internet, and consulted with a nutritionist once. The general consensus seemed to be that healthy fats were the answer.
Here comes another disclaimer in case you have missed my other posts. I am not a doctor. I am simply a parent that does all I can for my children to have the healthiest lives possible. I share my information so that it may help you as well and hopefully, you will not need to spend hours upon hours and days upon days worrying and researching, and worrying again. But, please always include your children’s medical team in your decisions.
 
 
The following are some of the foods that I feel helped our children gain weight and health back.
Hemp Milk
I swear by Tempt Hemp milk and believe this is the main reason that boys health and weight returned as quickly as it did. It has a nice, creamy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. I will admit it did take me a little time to get accustom to the taste for my husband and I, but the boys loved it immediately. I gave them Hemp milk 3 times a day after meals as it is very filling.
I would also suggest making Hemp smoothies for breakfasts. Add a banana and some Sunbutter if your child is not allergic to sunflower seeds (or any peanut or nut butters if allergies allow). 
 
 
Avocados
Avocados are phenomenal. They have healthy monounsaturated fats, no cholesterol, and many wonderful nutrients. Avocados are high in beta carotene, fiber, folate, and potassium. Believe it or not they actually contain 60% more potassium than bananas. I have also read that nutrients are better absorbed when eaten with an avocado.
They boys would not eat avocados out of the shell. I tried and tried. So I found some wonderful recipes that allowed me to still get it in their systems. If your children are old enough and healthy enough to eat solid foods, then I would add avocado slices to sandwiches and wraps. My little one now likes sliced avocado, Boar’s Head sliced turkey, and bacon wrapped in gluten-free tortillas. If your little angel can have tomatoes and raw spinach I would suggest adding that too. Guacamole is another way to sneak it in.  But, the boys all time favorite things is the Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe!
 
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
  • 1 ripe avocado
  •  ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp raw agave nectar
  • 2 to 3 tbsp honey 
  • ¼ cup of vanilla hemp milk
Peel and slice your avocado into a sixth. Put avocado slices, cocoa powder, agave nectar, honey, and vanilla hemp milk into with you magic bullet or ninja and blend until smooth. Serve cold.
 
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have many health benefits too. They contain B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and magnesium. If your little one is old enough or healthy enough to eat solid foods we love sweet potato fries!  You can grill them or bake them.  We have tried sweet potato fries several ways: baking with cinnamon and sugar (the last few minutes of baking add), sugar and cayenne pepper, salt, salt and black pepper, or drizzle maple syrup on them 5 minutes before removing from the oven.We also will make a honey dipping sauce with honey and lime or honey and cayenne pepper. 
Here is one of the ways I made it often for the boys:
Healthy Smashed Sweet Potato
  • 1 sweet potato
  • ½ a banana
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • cinnamon, sugar, and salt to taste 
 
 
While on the subject of sweet potatoes, let me remind you that you can make your little one’s skin turn orange from too many orange foods. Ask your doctor how often to feed them “orange foods”.
Bananas
Bananas are also are helpful foods that aid in digestion and nutritional absorption. They help diarrhea and constipation and restores electrolytes in the body.
Mashed Bananas
Simply mash up your bananas. If your child can have nuts or seeds add a little sunbutter to your banana and mix well. 
 
Mommy tip: For traveling, I still purchase organic baby food and let the children eat it instead of pudding for a snack out since they cannot have pudding (dairy). 
 
 
White Potatoes
I know white potatoes have a bad reputation these days. In my opinion they are very healing on a sensitive system (again, that’s a mommy, not a medical opinion).
Mashed Potatoes- the Allergy Friendly-Taste Filled way!
  • red skin potatoes (if your child does not have a texture or swallowing issue and you can leave the peels on that adds more nutrition)
  • gluten-free beef broth
  • original Tempt Hemp milk
  • Earth's Best dairy free butter (We use dairy free/soy free)
Boil  potatoes in beef broth.  Boiling the potatoes in beef broth allows you to add flavor where the creamy milk and sour cream have been eliminated. (I am confident that vegetable broth would be great too). After boiling the potatoes drain broth and set aside.  Add original  hemp milk and a dairy free butter and mix with a mixer to thin it out a little more add some of the reserved beef broth (this also adds back some of the nutrients lost in the boiling process I believe). 
Once their gut has healed more play with spices!  Add chives. Parsely... the skies the limit.
If their system is really sick and I am not able to keep much down, I would use only beef broth and potatoes for a few days.  You know your child's need the best.  Follow that mommy gut instinct.
 I would also search for a potato soup recipe and use that too.  If you have a favorite you want help with changing to make safe, just send me the recipe and I am happy to try and make it different.

Also please be sure to check out the Potato Soup recipe here:  http://busybeesallergies.blogspot.com/2012/12/another-generation-comforted-by-potato.html
 
Olive Oil
Olive oil is yet another healthy fat.  Once they had healed a little and were not quite as sick, I began to add olive oil to everything.  Yup, even their milk!  I would add up to (no more than!!!) 2 tablespoons daily in their diets.  I only needed to do this about 2 to 3 months.  Once they gained back some of their weight and health, I would choose days where they clearly did not eat enough calories that day and just add it to their milk cup.  I would add about 2 to 3 teaspoons per cup of milk.  Shake or stir well... they never know you did it.
I also would add olive oil to baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc,
 
Reflux?
I included this here on this post, as it was a major part of this journey for us.  Here are some things we learned:
  • elevating their bed helped.  We found a thick wedge to place under their mattress and over the box spring.
  • attempt to plan meals and snacks around their sleeping schedule.  Do not give food 2 hours before naps/ meals if possible.  No drinks for 45 minutes prior to sleeping.  I abide by this rule for breastfeeding too.
  • Know your children's triggers.  Chocolate is one many overlook.  I always gave the boys chocolate avocado mousse for breakfast after they woke up and way before napping.
 
 
Probiotics and Vitamins
I believe in probiotics and vitamins to support your babies walk towards health.  I would suggest finding a good probiotic.  Then as health has improved add a multi vitamin.  Be careful with your probiotics as many are created using dairy products or your children's allergens.  Call manufacturers.
 
Labels
Toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, even your children's medications can contain food.  I have found egg whites in toothpaste, dairy in lotions, nuts in my shampoos, wheat in my conditioners.... I add this as when we first started this journey we had no idea that food was in almost everything! 
Call manufacturers for "and natural flavorings"- it is often a hidden source of your child's allergies.
Oh, and each time you purchase the product, read the labels again- they company can change ingredients at any time and do not have to let you know!
     



Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

I am so grateful that when the children's asthma is severe they can take steroids and puff on their inhalers every 4 hours as needed- which is well, every 4 hours sadly. I know it has helped them recover from asthma faster. I am thankful (that is an understatement) it allows them more air in their lungs. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate modern medicine's ability to literally keep my babies alive.

Yes, here comes the but,....

But, it seems to make them both a little crazy. Yup, just a little crazy. Wow! I had one crying and running to his room in tears over everything tonight. I mean full hysteria. Everything was a catastrophe. Then, a few minutes later getting angry about something very trivial. The other one was bouncing off the walls and climbing everything he could and completely defiant. I am honestly not complaining, but my heart goes out to them. I can see them sincerely trying to keep in control, and well, failing miserably.

Sadly, they are not alone! I am normally a sweet, southern girl but, when I take these medications I actually can be, what's the word, um, ... intolerant. I know it has a warning on the label. I know this is not all in our heads. I am wondering if you have also experienced the ups and downs, tears, bouncing around, anger, hysteria.... craziness too?


Watching TV ever so sweetly.... the calm before the next storm today. 







 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Values Passed On

I was born with an old soul.  As a child of ten, I remember listening intently to stories of my grandparents difficult youths being raised during the Great Depression.  I was in awe of all they had endured and admired who they were because, not in spite of these heartaches and hard times.


One of my most powerful memories growing up was not of going to fancy restaurants or wild amusement parks, it is of our annual canning and freezing of vegetables every year.  I know, I know, you are shaking your head and thinking "yea, right!' But I swear, it is the honest to goodness truth.  My aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and all of us cousins would gather at my grandparents and shuck corn, snap peas and beans, and freeze/can other veggies.  I honestly cannot recall any other vegetables because the corn, beans, and the peas were the only jobs us young'ens were allowed to help with- the rest required knives.  I remember shucking the corn, snapping the green beans, and freeing the snow peas from their pods.  I can recall the earthy, sweet scent of the fresh vegetables, the laughter and the stories from my loved ones, and the sheer satisfaction of being a part of something my grandparents did as children.  (Yes, I was ten.  Yes, I swear I remember having these thoughts. Sadly, I am sure you all agree with my husband now that I must have been a nerd... but I say, I was blessed with a deep rooted knowledge that something priceless was being passed on to me in those precious moments.)


Now, fast forward to present day.  I love going out to my father's garden and picking fresh fruits and vegetables from his garden.  The boys absolutely love it too.  They love that they can get filthy, play with frogs, and even run around during a sunny rain (no lightening!) and get soaked and we as parents smile and let them relish in good old fashioned fun.  They love the freedom and the getting filthy; I love that a part of tradition that dates back to the Great Depression and their great, great grandparents wisdom and traditions live on in our lives.  I love the simplicity. I love the memories being created and the nostalgia of my yesterdays being passed on to yet another generation.  I love watching my my father pass on his wisdom to my children, just as my grandfather had done to me.



I hope to be able to bring a sense of his wisdom and that of my grandparents to your lives as well.  My father is still very much my teacher.  I am still learning how to can vegetables, soups, stews, and tomato sauces and the rules of when to use a water bath versus pressure baths.  As I learn more, I will pass it on to you.  Being able to can fresh foods created from completely non-allergic ingredients has allowed a little bit more convenience and more importantly, I love knowing what we are putting in our children's bodies.  I hope even more than the healthy ingredients you create, you will create powerful memories in your children that will last them and you a lifetime as well.


Homemade spaghetti sauce made with all fresh ingredients.

Beautiful veggies straight from my father's garden.

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Expectations- It's a Grey Area

My honey and I had an interesting conversation recently about how we expect, yes I typed correctly expect, people in our children's lives to deal with our children's allergies. 

He seems to understand people's doubt and minimizing our explanation of our boys life threatening allergies.  I, on the other hand, am completely intolerant of it.  There, I said it.  When it comes to my children and their ability breathe or not- yes, I am completely intolerant of people's lack of understanding and unwillingness to get educated.

My hisband says he recalls ten years ago when our niece was diagnosed with celiac disease.  He says he remembers my sister in law fretting over every morsel our niece put in her mouth, he remembers her dictating where we could or could not eat, and how it controlled her every thought.  He said honestly, "I was young and uneducated and I just did not get it.  I thought she was just being overprotective and exaggerating the seriousness of it because she is an overprotective mother."  Poor cutie he married me, a fun loving girl who then became a complete overprotective tigress of a mother... the children's life threatening allergies only exacerbate this tendency in me- they honestly did not cause it.

Contrastingly, when my niece was diagnosed I remember researching everything I could about celiac disease.  I got myself completely educated on what it was and how it would impact her life.  I even searched for recipes to share with my mother in law so she could create safe dishes for her.  So, I guess it stands to reason that I expect everyone to do the same thing for us.  I will be completely naked with my heart right now- when people do not understand, it hurts me deeply.  It makes me angry.  It makes me feel that because they do not understand, then they do not love my children enough.  Perhaps this is wrong, but regardless of right or wrong, it is how I feel. Please understand I do not refer to strangers on the street, people I work with... I mean family and close friends.  I would go out of my way for them, for a perfect stranger in need I would go out of my way, so I feel if they loved me and my children, they would reciprocate. 

He says it is wrong to have such high expectations of others.  Perhaps he is right, but this is my children's LIVES, and I cannot seem to control that this is how I feel with conviction- period.

When people bend over backwards for my children it makes me feel they get the gravity of the situation. I am literally moved to tears when a restaurant works hard to make everything safe.  I recently had a close friend ensure a safe environment for our boys at Halloween.  ALL of the candy was safe for the boys at the party.  Everything!  Words cannot explain the gratitude.  But, when people put the boys in harms way, words cannot explain the deep anger, the fear, the anxiety, and the hurt.

My oldest is pretty good at knowing what is safe, and what is not.  My beautiful little man remembers his last anaphylatic reaction clearly.  He is honestly petrified of it happening again.  Sadly, at such a young age he understands life and death decisions.  He has even said that sometimes epi pens are not given fast enough.  I worry about him.  A LOT.  He still is under the impression that he can run from ants when he sees them, not understanding that they can get inside your pants legs before you even knew they were there....but, the fact that he has a healthy fear of another reaction makes me feel I can trust him a little more at gatherings/parties.

Our little Bee, however has absolutely no understanding of the life and death decisions involved in his food choices.  He was 18 months the last time he had something with eggs in it and thankfully does not remember it.  "B" LOVES to eat too.  So, it is typical of him to try to eat something from someones plate, the table, or the counter.  I am petrified of going to parties/gatherings with "B" and I usually stay there and smile and try to carry on conversations while fighting the internal urge to rip them away from the party to keep them both safe.

The below are a few pictures to hopefully educate others.  We actually took pictures to keep me calm- I took pictures and then would look back every 30 seconds at past pictures to see if he had gotten worse.  It helped me decide if it was my imagination or fact. 




My beautiful little man playing.  Below is the exact same day.
He has nothing in this mouth- he is just that swollen.  Can you see how his right eye is swelling shut?  And his right side of his face is so swollen?!?


Bee after one bite of sauce with eggs in it that he spit out & did not swallow.  You cannot make out the hundreds of hives on his body from this poor quality picture.  He had hives all over him, his tongue and throat were burned from the brief contact with eggs, and you can see his eyes are almost swollen shut and his face is comepletly altered.  He was on his neubulizer machine for days afterwards and it completely wiped him out for days afterwards too- below is him falling aleep from exhaustion caused by his reaction.  Thanksfully, he never lost consciousness.



No, he has nothing in his mouth- he's swollen from the reaction.







 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Icings for cakes and cookies


I searched the Internet high and low for safe frosting recipes.  Typically, I have to adjust mine ever so slightly.  After several failures and a few "okay" batches, I feel I have been able to modify this recipe to it's perfection.

I found the boys birthdays to be one of the most difficult allergy challenges we faced.  I wanted my boys to have beautiful and memorable cakes like I had as a child.  I had never really decorated cakes before... but I was grateful for all of the times my dad and I had decided to try and decorate cakes when I was in high school and for the cake decorating kit my mom had given me.  So, I tried MANY, MANY frostings!!!  The following two are now what I use to decorate all of my cakes.  It is time consuming, but not difficult.

My cakes are truly a labor of love.  I am not able to do it quickly at all (that might be the understatement of the year!)  Every second I am in the kitchen is all about the person I am creating the cake for and luckily for my children, a safe treat for them as well.  My cakes are full of mistakes.  The most important thing is that my children are so very happy with my attempts and my love.  I hope they will look back on their birthdays as adults, with fond memories of beautiful cakes.  My oldest little guy is usually the designer and mommy becomes the creator.

I think this year will end up being Bubble Guppies for "B" and a How to Tame Your Dragon cake for our oldest little wonder... we'll see!




 



This is the frosting that I use to frost the whole cake. It is so sweet, yummy, light & creamy.

Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 cup Spectrum Shortening
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (yes, sift!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vanilla Hemp milk

1) Beat the shortening & earth Balance until fluffy. Add sugar and beat 3 minutes.
2) Add vanilla & Hemp milk beat another 5 to 7 minutes.
3)  Dye to desired base colorings

*If you have a corn allergy, you can buy confectioners sugar at a health food store or online without corn starch.

Toys were bought at a local grocery store bakery.  This was super easy!  Make a 9x9 inch square cake, frost one diagonal the color of the sand and the other diagonal a teal blue ocean color.  I did grind a few Enjoy Life's Crunchy Sugar cookies in the food processor and add to the sand colored side to look more like dirt. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nana's Banana Bread

My sweet honey's mom was an amazing cook.  She loved to show how much she cared for us by getting in the kitchen and preparing some of our favorite foods and treats.  When I met my sweetheart, I was actually living 4 hours away.  I moved in with his parents for a year prior to us getting married and moving out on our own.  Nothing, not even time, can dim the powerful memories of waking in the mornings to the smell and taste of warm banana bread.  One bite brings back powerful emotions of being loved.  One bite of "mom's" banana bread and all is right with the world for that moment.  It brings me back to such a happy and safe and uncomplicated time.

Whenever we would go on family vacations, I knew I would be able to start the day with some of her banana bread.  She always had other specialty treats too, but my favorite was her banana bread.  Mom passed away several years ago, and with that loss, we lost many of her recipes too.  Thankfully, this was one of the recipes she had written down.  It has taken some tweaking to make it safe for our boys, and if mom was here I bet it would be that much sweeter.  The following recipe is not exactly mom's recipe (mom, did not share her recipes and I still honor it!) but it is our attempt at allowing our little boys to grow up with the same memories of hot yummy banana bread that has the ability to take them to a safe and happy and uncomplicated time throughout their lives too. I hope this brings your family a lasting, loving comfort too.


"Nana's" Banana Bread
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Bisquick
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Spectrum Shortening or Earth Balance Dairy free/Soy free butter (My husband and I both think that Spectrum Shortening is more like mom's)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp Flax + 3 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 overly ripe (or frozen) bananas
Mix the flax and warm water in a small container and mix well. Set in the refrigerator (up to an hour before making the banana bread).

Mix together Gluten Free Bisquick, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in shortening (or butter). Add water. Add the flax and water mix. Mash the banana and fold into the batter. Bake in a floured and greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes.

Also makes yummy muffins!
Also if you add Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, you can add these in as well for a little something different.

With Love Always



 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Asthma Again

Yesterday was a beautiful day with perfect weather, lots of cousins running around, and consequently a lot of outside time.  My honey and I questioned the children, okay really our oldest baby, being outside for such a prolonged time.  The children were laughing and playing and running around making powerful memories of the happiness and freedom of childhood. 

So despite the emotional desire to rip the children out of the yard and into the house where I knew we could avoid (possibly) the asthma issues in which we are now dealing with today.  I justified it- he's already on antibiotics.  We've been doing asthma medications around the clock, drinking hot teas, doing everything we can so he should be ok.  I walked the whole yard, foot in front of the other as if measuring the yard, to ensure every square inch was searched looking for ant mounds. I knew that even if I pulled him inside, no other parent would have to yank their babies from the fun and perfect sunny, cool day.  So, we let them play and play and ...PLAY! 

Today we are again on every:
4 hour nebulizer treatments
Hot tea regimens
Hot showers
Vics vapor rub
Humidifiers (despite some doctors opposing humidifiers, for our oldest baby it is a necessary evil)
Saline solution in his nebulizer
and the dreaded decision to start steroids- again

..... all because we allowed him the normalcy of a day playing in the cool fall weather.  He has not complained once.  He has kissed my cheeks and thanked me for the "best tea".  He has just laid around really not doing much, except for tell us he thinks that Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays.

 
 

Dairy Allergy? Buttermilk Substitute



Did you know you can easily substitute buttermilk in your recipes?

Equivalent: 1 cup of Buttermilk

 Ingredients:
  •  2 to 3 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  •  1 cup of Unsweetened Milk Alternative (soy, rice, oat, hemp, etc.)
Directions: in a liquid measuring cup, pour 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and add your milk alternative to equal one cup.
*Let the solution stand for ten minutes before adding to your recipe.*
 
 

Perfect Pumpkin Pie- Gluten free, Nut Free, Vegan

I miss rolling out the pastry dough and using little cookie cutter leaves to make intricate designs for my pumpkin and apple pies. I miss being able to show up at any table and know there was going to be something delicious to eat! So, this year, I decided I was not going to miss having pumpkin pie! I set out on a mission to make a gluten free, peanut and tree nut free, egg free, and dairy free pumpkin pie. But, I will be honest, I procrastinated. I decided I MUST have this special pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving at 9:00 p.m. the night before Thanksgiving.... so, it had to be ingredients we had on hand! I did not have most of what people suggested. So I combined a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each recipe. I liked what I created!  My little Steven could not get enough of it. I came back into the kitchen and found him smiling at me while lifting a spoonful from the pie plate itself. I had to laugh. If my picky eater devoured it, I bet your family will too!



For the crust:

  • a 9 inch glass pie pan
  • 1 box of crunchy Enjoy Life Sugar Cookies
  • 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp melted dairy free/soy free butter (I used Earth's Balance)

I would suggest lining your glass pie pan with parchment paper as it sticks to the pan!!! (Really, go back and do this! I wish I had done so!) Put cookie in food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs. (I used my ninja blender). Pour crumbs in your pie pan. Add sifted confectioners sugar and 1/4 soy free/dairy free butter. Mix and then push into pie pan with your fingers or if your more dainty than I, use a fork to form the crust :).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then cool completely before adding the pumpkin filling.



For the pie filling:
  • one 15 ounce can organic pumpkin
  • 1 cup vanilla help milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp gluten free vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice

Substitutions Needed?
No Hemp milk? I am sure almond or soy would be great!
I think that rice milk and flax milk are very watery, so I would suggest adding 2 Tbsps more tapioca starch as a thickener or the Ener-G egg replacer for 1 egg)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Thanks

There are countless things that I am so very grateful for this year.  I am sure I will miss some, as I have so much to be thankful for! 



I am thankful for:

1.  Being married to my very best friend and an amazing man.  My sweet Honey is such a phenominal husband.  After 15 years together, he still opens my car doors.  He still plans date nights and suprises me.  He still will walk beside me and caress my face and tell me he thinks I am beautiful. Seeing this man that I love so very much with our children makes my heart skip a beat.  I never knew such a beautiful love could only get more strong with every shared moment. I am so very grateful for every second with him and a lifetime of more love than I knew life could hold. 




2.  My oldest darling son, I am thankful every moment of every day with him.  I am so thankful for his sweet spirit and gentle, wise old soul.  I love how he is so patient and understanding with his bubby and loves him so much.  I am so grateful for every kiss, each snuggle, every impromptu hug, pretty wild flowers picked from the yard, his artisitic masterpieces, for making my dreams of becoming a mommy come true and surpassing every expectation of what loving him, my darling child, could mean. 




3.  My youngest little rough and tumble munchkin, "B", I am thankful for each moment I can hold him.   I am so grateful for his uncontainable laughter and his never-give-up attitiude.  I love his mischeviousness and his sheer delight in everything in life.  I love every word and every thought he is able to express, his sheer determination to express his heart's desires with a glance or a tug on my hand.  I love his hugs, his sweetness and how he lies his head on my shoulder and plays with my hair or gently rubs my cheek.  I love how he cannot help but dancing any time he hears a song. Thank you my sweet baby boy, for completing our family.






4.  My parents- for giving me life and love always and now passing on their love and precious time with my boys.



5.  Family.




6. I am thankful for the here and now.  I wish I could bottle up this time in my life- keep my children small and innocent beside us.  I love the sweetness of my boys- all three of them. 

7.  For tomorrow and all of the promise it holds.

8. For a wonderful and supportive medical team that look over my babies and work hard to keep them safe. 

9.  I am grateful for the love and memories from loved ones that have passed on.  Your lives have touched my soul and made me a better person.  You have helped shape me into the person I am today. I relish in the sweet memories of baking in the kitchen, familiy vacations, birthday parties, pool parties, Disney trips, hugs, laughter, and weather reports every morning.  I still miss you every day. 

10. For my health and the health of my family. 

11. For parents that have had to create recipes from scratch when there were not labels for gluten free and top 8 allergies.  It is because of their kitchen creations and their fight to create changes to this allergy world, that I am more safely able to feed my family.

12. I am grateful to the men and women who are serving in our military to ensure my freedom and very way of life as an American. It is because of their selfless sacrifices that I am able to be grateful for the other wonderous things in my life.

13.  Freedom

14. Laughter. It reminds me to take a mental picture and be sure to capture this memory.

15.  Nature- God's paintbrush is a beautiful thing

16.  and it all circles back to I am grateful for .... Love.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gluten Free Sausage Stuffing for Thanksgiving

 
This is a recipe worth waiting for!  I have always hated stuffing at Thanksgiving until I tasted my sister in laws dressing.  It is truely a taste of heaven!  I wish we knew where she got the original recipe, but she has been creating this masterpiece every year for about 20 years.  Shhh... don't tell the turkey, but I think it steals the show!!!
 
 

Gluten Free Sausage Stuffing for Thanksgiving
 
1 pound country sausage (we use country pride)
1 medium onion chopped
3/4 cup celery
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
10 cups DRY day old bread cubes (we typically use our own homemade loaf bread, this year we will be trying this recipe with the Schar brand of gluten free bread)
2 Tbsp of minced fresh parsely
Gluten free chicken broth
 
Cook sausage in skillet, breaking it up with a fork as it cooks.  Cook meat until there is no pink remaining.  Pour of all but about 1/2 cup of the remaining liquid.  Add celery and onion, stir in salt, peper, basil, and oregano.  PLace bread crumbs in a large bowl.  Add sausage mixture and parsely.  The add in enough chicken broth to moisten the stuffing.  Mix together gently. 
 
You can either stuff the 12 - 14 pound turkey or place ingredients in abaking dish.  Both will be bakes for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


"Bee's" Journey continued

My little Bee who was so very sick was sent to an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor) and he was confirmed to be profoundly deaf.  I cried and cried.  Not because I am not familiar with the fact that deaf people can be amazingly successful.  Not because I would not be able to communicate with him and understand his hopes and dreams.  I cried because I knew that his life would always be a fight.  I knew that having a lasting "disability" would mean a lifetime of working 10 times harder than everyone else and always having to prove himself.  I knew that a good education would be a fight.  I knew getting other family members to learn my child's language may cause a permanent wedge in relationships with loved ones. And after years and years of what I THOUGHT I knew, I realized I knew nothing when it was applicable to my little "Bee".  Everything I thought I knew about the right educational path, medical approaches, I questioned.

His expressions say so much.


The ENT said he needed emergency surgery and scheduled him for next day surgery to get tubes.  He was so sick that his whole body was turning septic and he had chronic yeast infections in his groin and occasionally had thrush.  I asked him to also complete a blood panel to test for food allergies.  I was expecting dairy and eggs.



Surgery was completed.  He was still profoundly deaf.  I remember tucking him in that night.  I had sung to him every night of his life and at that night I thought doing so was silly.  There was no point in singing and I thought that we would need to create a new tradition.  He tapped on my chest and started to make a vibrating noise.  I tried desperately to keep myself together as I finished singing him his three lullabys and said a prayer I knew he could not hear.  I added a little sign language to our new routine.  And then I left the room and cried.  There was something so bittersweet about that moment, that still brings tears to my eyes today.

It took almost a full 8 months for Bee to get a passed hearing test, but he had failed 4 prior.  So the results were not trusted and we were told to come back again due to so many inconsistencies.  He was still not picking up a lot of language however, so we did an ABR test to confirm.  It was confirmed after 12 months that he was indeed a hearing child... with significant language issues.  The language issues were thought to be "preemie baby" and "prolonged deafness from chronic ear infections". 



We also got the results of our blood work regarding food allergies.  I pretty much knew milk and eggs were allergies and thought soy was plausible.  I am so thankful that I was sitting down when they called.  The doctor asked if I had pen and paper ready.  I said sure go ahead thinking I was prepared for the list to come. 

Anaphylatic (meaning if my child ingests this or gets it in his mouth these foods and he could potentially stop breathing and die):
      eggs,
      peanuts,
      tree nuts,
      coconuts,
      peas

Severely allergic (meaning projectile or severe vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, hives, stomach aches, nausea) to:
       dairy,
       wheat,
       soy,
       oats,

Moderately/Mildly allergic (will cause our child to vomit and break out in rash) to:
     corn,
     and tomatoes. 

I hung up the phone and cried.  I had no idea what to feed my baby.  Everything in my home suddenly became poison. 



Since that time we have learned that "Bee" also has celiac disease and "leaky gut" syndrome.  He also is no longer allergic to coconut, soy, or corn.  We are soon going to be doing a peanut challenge (more on that later!) He still is plagued with a gluten rash periodically.



Gluten rash AKA Dermatitis Herpetiformis


Bee is still learning language.  He babbles a lot.  He says many words, a few 3 word sentences, and a few little phrases.   They are all magic to my ears.  He goes to speech therapy for language and speech development, hypotonia (low muscle tone), constant drooling, and swallowing issues. He goes to OT for hypotonia related issues and motor planning.



 


So, I still long to hear my son's hopes and dreams.  I still cannot wait to have in depth conversations with him. And it seems everything in life for him is a fight.  He fights to achieve and I fight to remove obstacles in his way. I fight to get his needs met. I fight to have a safe environment for him. But, I know that as much as I fight with the world everyday, "B" fights harder to achieve all he can.  I sometimes get frustrated, discouraged, and even angry.  Bee does it all with a grin on his face and a light in his eyes.  He communicates so much with one glance, one coy little shrug of his shoulders, and a mischievous grin.  I thank God that everyday, everyday there is progress. A new word, more muscle strength, a newly learned concept, and his "fight".




Monday, November 19, 2012

"Bee's" Journey: Preemie Babies and Developmental Delays

Preemies.

Tiny and sweet.
Delicate. 
Fragile. 

That pretty much sums up what I knew about having a preemie baby before I had my little Bee. 


Bee was born at 33 weeks.  I had severe preeclamsia and my body was showing signs of developing HEELP syndrome. I had also developed bilateral kidney infections at 2 months pregnancy that could not be cleared up.  I was on constant antibiotics during my pregnancy. I had a scheduled C-section once my urine protein and blood pressure were on the rise. Our little one came out perfect.  Honestly, he was not even tiny.  He was a  seven pound whopper of a preemie.  He had obviously been stressed in the womb as there was meconium in the amniotic fluid.  The umbilical cord was wrapped around his head three times.  He screamed loudly upon arrival, music to all parents ears. Honestly, he was perfect. No time in the NICU. He latched right on the breast with no problem.  Let me say it again, my preemie baby was perfect.  I felt so blessed.  Three days later, I went home with my beautiful preemie baby. 


I honestly had no idea at that time how very blessed we had been.  It has taken me until recently to accept the fact that I almost died during both of my pregnancies.  It has taken me until now to read more about preemies to understand how blessed we are.   I am very slow to emotionally process things- it is part of my coping skills. I had no idea when deciding to have children, just how many risks are involved for the life of the mother and infant.

 
 


Our busy "Bee" came out crying and screaming and it seemed he did not stop.  We just assumed he had colic and it was clear from day one that he has severe reflux as he would spit up breast milk through his nose and mouth.  At seven weeks however, he had a little tiny white spot on his mouth.  We noticed it around 4:00 in the afternoon.  We thought it was the beginning of thrush.  I called the doctor and got the first appointment for the next day.  But later that night this tiny white spec was a large bump that looked like it was growing every second.  I rushed him to the hospital.  By the time I arrived it was ready to burst.  They took him right in and did a spinal tap and blood draw.  I held him and waited for the news.  After much time, several doctors, more tests, an MRI, etc we were told he a small tumor or cyst that had been an open pocket and it had gotten infected with MRSA.  Three days later the infection had tunneled onto the roof of his mouth and we were told he had to have surgery to drill into the bone.  His lab results for the cyst/tumor had come back inconclusive it actually was that allowed the infection to take place.  But all we cared about were the words "benign".  Due to the MRSA infection going into the bone, he had to be on antibiotics for 4 straight months.  We were told to keep him in a bubble as much as possible due to his compromised immune system.  So he took medication until he was six months old, we went home with our beautiful little man in our arms, and happily stayed in our bubble.  He seemed like a different baby.  He was so very calm now.  I honestly suspect he had been in pain from the moment he left my womb.



This is actually a few days after the infection had burst open.

My little sweetheart with his face so swollen.

A rare moment indeed!  He actually spent every waking moment laying on me in a little kangaroo pouch.  There were several days that I was only able to eat the crackers my husband had brought me from the day before.  I would not leave him without mommy or daddy's supervision at all times! 


 
Bee began doing everything about 3 to 4 months later than most babies.  We were told not to worry.  That was "normal" for preemie babies.  So, I trusted the doctors.  He could not sit up off the changing table and needed help still around 10 months.  Again, we were told "normal for a preemie". And we were quoted the good old fashioned advice, "don't worry, he will catch up by the time he is two."   Drooling, walking, clumsiness... just wait and he will be fine.

So we waited....



In the meantime, at 11 months Bee began to loose weight.  Drastically falling off the charts.  He went from the 50th percentile to the 3rd in a month.  Then to 0%, then off the charts.  He was vomiting often and had ear infections so often that he could not be off antibiotics for more than 2 days without getting an infection again.  We were told the vomiting was from the ear infections and antibiotics.  We were told to add supplemental formula feedings.  We even bought soy milk and added soy formula... only to see the cycle continue and the weight loss get worse.


I came home one afternoon and heard him babbling in his room.  I walked in the door and saw that he was facing the opposite wall of the door I had entered.  He was in that sweet little baby position where they are laying on their tummy and their butts are high in the air with their legs tucked tightly underneath them- womb style.  Such a sweet reminder that they were just safely tucked inside me.  I softly said his name.  I called to him again and again.  I got louder and louder.  I literally yelled.  He did not turn to look at me.  I put my hand on his back and he stared at me with wide eyes and a bright smile.  I knew my baby was deaf.


 
 
 
I know this has been a very long post.  Thank you for reading.  I will continue Bee's Journey tomorrow night.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celiac Disease & Still Having Fun!

Celiac is not new to our vocabulary.  Our niece was diagnosed as having celiac disease about 15 years ago.  My son was diagnosed over 2 years ago. I was diagnosed about 8 months ago. I will admit living without gluten has not been as difficult as I thought it would be.  I actually do not miss much at all. For the most part, if I want something, my darling husband has figured out how to create it. 

What I do miss? Convenience!  I miss the ease of just ordering something without asking a million questions as to whether or not I will be sick afterwards. I miss the ability to throw a yummy and cheap frozen pizza in the oven and have a simple dinner without planning.

I am amazed though at how quickly people with celiac disease have gained accommodations from many restaurants.  It is a growing need!!!  I know it will just be a matter of time and more things will be offered to multiple allergy sufferers too.  But when I think back to the few foods my niece had to order on line, I am dumbfounded at how fast the celiac community has pushed for changes.  I really cannot complain about being too deprived. (Honestly, most of my whining is about not being able to have dairy now, not gluten.)

I was most excited about Chucky Cheese when I read about it's decision to carry gluten free pizzas and cupcakes.  Seriously, how amazing is that!  Children who cannot eat wheat can still feel included!

Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens offer gluten free buns and snacks for their guest as well.

Celiac with other food allergies?  Orlando, Florida is the best place to travel  from my limited experience.  We love to go to Orlando as they are so wonderful and accommodating to children with multiple allergies.  Our children never leave hungry and we have never been disappointed in the theme parks.

As with anything or anywhere with celiac disease and/ or food allergies, call ahead to make sure you are completely prepared and safe. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Asthma Season and a Crazy Rash




My oldest suffers from asthma year around.  At this time we have to do two nebulizer treatments twice daily even when he is "well" and "controlled".  When he is sick or the pollen count is high, we use it every 4 hours and intermittently every two hours we add a saline solution to his nebulizer and have him breath in the saline.  I LOVE this life saving equipment and cannot sing enough praises about how I know it has probably saved both my children's lives and mine as well. 


Now, my dear readers, please know that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  I am simply a mom.  I am a mommy with experience of things that have happened to my children, but I am in no way, shape, or form, an expert on all children.  Please understand when I share about our life experiences I am not trying to tell you what to do with your children- YOU, my dear parents are the experts on your children.  I do hope we can learn from each other and that you will take all information gathered from my site and other people's websites/blogs to your trusted medical advisor.  I always double check my information found online with our pediatrician.


Now, back to our crazy story.


When our oldest son was four, he began to get this strange little rash on his beautiful face.  It started in February and was still going strong in October, actually it was looking horrible come October.  We did every cream, steroid, and homeopathic remedy known to man.  We were stumped.  It was so frustrating and it was starting to really bother our little man.  One evening, we were getting ready to complete our nightly ritual of reading to our son & snuggling during his breathing treatment when my husband exclaimed, "It's strange his rash is the perfect shape of the nebulizer mask.  The mommy gut took over, surely this could not be a coincidence right?  Seemingly, he was correct in his observation.  It was the identical shape!!!


So, I did a little research and it appears for us, there was some truth to it.






 


So, after finally getting to the bottom of this issue, we consulted with the pediatrician and they said we must wash his face after every treatment.  They also told us to use the mouthpiece instead of the mask as he is capable of doing so without impacting the treatment. In retrospect we should have been doing that anyways.  But, you don't know, what you don't know- and common sense or not, we did not know. A few weeks later and look at this beautiful face:


It's Ok That I Have Asthma!

The wisdom of a 6 year old is amazing sometimes. He really does blow me away with his insight and the simplicity of his wise words. He was blowing his nose for the umpteenth time and we were putting his medication in his nebulizer yet again and  I said, "Sweetheart, I am so sorry you have asthma." He looked at me like I had sprouted three heads. He said, "Don't be sorry mommy. I am not! This allows you and me a lot of bonding time. You and Daddy make me a lot of hot teas. You both sit with me and have read me so many stories. We have laughed over many movies together snuggling on the couch. I do not like that I get sick a lot- I hate it. But I love that we get to share so many special times and a lot of love when it happens. " I just smiled and said, "I do love every moment with you" and inside I was bursting with pride. I was so proud of his positive mindset. I had never, ever thought of it from that perspective. I still wish he did not have asthma!!! But he is right, we do share a lot of snuggle time nursing our kids back to health that might be lost in the otherwise hustle and bustle of things.
 
So then we played a little game. I said, "you know what, lets play a game of what we are grateful for... things that most people would look at as a sad thing. You are teaching mommy a wonderful lesson today." Here are some of the one's we came up with.
 
1. We are grateful for food allergies as it forces us to look at what we put in our bodies and helps us make healthier choices. (admittedly mine... he would like pizza or bread morning, noon, and night!)
 
2. We are grateful for fire ants because they keep our ecosystem balanced. (That's Steven's- I must admit the crazy, protective mother in me says they should just be extinct!)
 
3. We are grateful for having medical issues that while potentially life threatening allow us to experience being healthy most of the time. (Thank you so much Lord!)
 
4. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with amazing nurses, doctors, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and teachers that try very hard to help our children's needs. Our lives are richer because each one of them is in it.
 
5. We are glad for the continuous fight to make people understand the severity of anaphylatic allergies as it keeps us educated (ok, that one is mine... and I would not be upset if we could fight a little less!)
 
6. We are grateful for shared opportunities to snuggle on the couch while sitting still for our nebulizer treatments.
 
7. We are grateful for B's nightly therapy as it makes us focus solely on his little face and he gazes at ours so sweetly. Often times it is a precious and innocent shared time, while other times we break into hysterical laughter trying to make funny faces to stretch those mouth and tongue muscles.
 
8. We are grateful for food allergies because Daddy has learned to be an amazing chef in order to allow us to eat yummy foods still and it makes us feel so loved.
 
9. We are grateful for food allergies because it has allowed us to help other families with food allergies and then they do not feel alone.
 
The last one made me tear up (ok, I am tearing up again just thinking of it):
 
10. I am grateful my baby brother does not talk well because it has made him a good listener and I can tell him all my secrets and he always loves me after I tell him with a tight hug or by wrestling with me.  It's his way of saying that everything is alright."
 
And tonight, my innocent child reminded me to take a deep breath and just be thankful for where we are at this moment. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Busy Bees Allergies- About Us


 
There was so much I wanted to share in my profile that I could not fit due to limited character space, so I felt compelled to share it here.  I hope you will get a sense of what Busy Bees Allergies will be about and you will want to continue to share in my life journey.

Allergies and Holidays? It's All Gravy, Baby!

With a little tweaking and creativity, holidays dinners are not quite as stressful as we first anticipated.  It gets easier every year! 

My boys have anaphylatic egg allergies so obviously egg nog is not a holiday favorite in our home .(Well, at least not until they are safely tucked in bed for the night- shhh.  I knew my parents must have had fun desserts and played once I went to bed as a kid!)  But, I noticed my oldest felt excluded when we went to parties and his friends would talk about how yummy it tastes.  It completely breaks my heart when they feel they are not able to participate equally, so I went on a quest to find an allergy free holiday drink that would be a treat for them as well.  I found Rice Nog.  It cannot really be compared to Egg Nog in my opinion, but it is a holiday inspired cinnamon/nutmeg flavored yummy treat that my boys look forward to every year now.  I tell them it is "Reindeer Milk" and they love it!  I have even been known to wrap the box and add a picture of reindeer clip art to the front to make it an extra special treat that is just for them!

Dairy allergy?  Let's start with the mashed potatoes!  We have learned to boil our potatoes in beef broth.  If you have wheat allergies, be sure to read the ingredients carefully as many brands of beef broth contain gluten.  Boiling the potatoes in beef broth allows you to add flavor where the creamy milk and sour cream have been eliminated.  (If you are vegetarians or vegans I am confident that vegetable broth would be great too).  After boiling the potatoes we drain most of the broth and set it aside.  We add plain (not vanilla) hemp milk and a dairy free butter and mix with a mixer to thin it out a little more we will add a little of the beef broth we originally boiled it in.  We also have learned to not be shy with spices.  Add onion powder,a touch of garlic, salt, and pepper.  Delicious!

Wheat/ Gluten free?  Gravies are so very easy to make safe!!!  Our favorite thing to use as a thickening agent is tapioca starch.  Tapioca starch is very thin and blends into the gravy easily.  This is also a great agent for soups and stew thickening too.

Craving Stuffing?  I have a recipe for you!  It is so good it deserves its own post, so I will keep you waiting and wanting for more!

Need to replace eggs in a recipe?  My all time favorite egg replacer is ground flax seeds.  I use 1Tbsp of ground flax seed plus 3 Tbsps of warm water to equal 1 egg.  I usually will mix it and set it to the side for 15 minutes to be a thick goo. It adds a little nutty flavor to most recipes.

Our family has been pretty accommodating and understanding about us not having deviled eggs, pecan pies, and other anaphylatic Thanksgiving favorites at the table.  We have been quite blessed with our families' understanding and support.  It required a lot of education and a few times I needed to stomp my feet and be demanding to get some attention- but the end result is everyone understands we want this to be a relaxing environment where we want to know the children are safe and we do not need to be on hypervigilent alert at all times. 

Do you have any wonderful holiday traditions?

Any recipe questions?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Continuation of a Weekend of Too Much Reality

After Saturday, I felt that our children's life threatening food allergies had been the center of every planned event.  I was looking forward to a quiet Sunday at home just being family.  We did indeed have a wonderful morning and afternoon.

Bee was filled with mischievous giggling and infectious laughter.  Our oldest little guy was his normal sweet and considerate self, waiting on his little brother all day.  He always includes his little brother and "B" thinks he walks on the moon. They really do share a beautiful bond. My oldest almost  always thinks of "B" first.  They had been playing and running around all day being wonderfully behaved and helpful with our domestic chores.  In the afternoon, our little dragon trainer- ASA our oldest, had asked for a special drink of chai tea mixed with almond milk.  Almonds are on Bee's anaphylactic panel of allergies.  So this is a very special drink reserved for "special mommy and me" times with our big boy.

Perhaps guilt from Saturday was guiding my decision.  Perhaps it is the fact that my 6 year old acts 36.  Perhaps it was just the blissful quiet of the day.  Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to make him his special tea.  I placed it in a sippy cup that I knew Bee could not mistake for his own, or drink from due to oral motor issues, and gave my very serious warning of "you need to hold this!  Don't put this down!  It can hurt your bubby.  I am trusting you".  He did perfectly and then he put his empty cup down on the counter by the sink, seemingly out of reach.  Our little busy Bee walked by with his newly filled sippy cup of water and juice and saw his brother's cup.  He quickly grabbed his brother's cup and tried to suck on it-- something he has never, ever done before.  Luckily it was empty and he only got a little residue from putting the spout in his mouth.

I did not wait.  I immediately grabbed the cup away from him, sat him down, and proceeded to get the epipen and benadryl.  By the time I had gotten the benadryl in his system he had small hives on/around his lip.  It was not a bad reaction, so I did not need to use the eipen.  But, I was so MAD at myself for letting my guard down for even a moment.  I should have never wavered from my "rules".  I just wanted one day for the kids to be kids.  One day at home where they did not need to think about it.  One day, where they can eat and drink their favorite treats.  I can assure you, it will not happen again.  My rule remains the same- if it is an anaphylactic allergic reaction then that food or drink may not be consumed when the anaphylactic child is present- PERIOD.

My oldest cried, again.  He is really not a child to cry often.  But he cried, asking "Did I kill my baby brother?  Do we need to rush him to the hospital.  I am so sorry!  I love you, Bee".  After I reassured him his brother was ok and calmed him down, he said, "I want to tell you what it feels like to have an anaphylactic allergy from fire ants." (This reaction happened last year, prior to knowing he is anaphylactic to fire ants when he was 5).

"I felt like I was stuck under something heavy.  My back got all tingly and then it moved up into my arms and neck.  I felt scared but, then I saw Daddy and I thought he looked scared too.  Then I started to worry about my friends too.  I thought if I die, how will everyone at school feel?  I do not want to die and leave you and Daddy and Bee, Mommy.  My throat gets itchy and my fingers felt funny and I could not think straight.  Mommy, I do not want to ever feel that way again!  I would never allow "B" to feel that way either". 

Too much reality after a blissful Sunday morning and afternoon. 

Luckily this week has proven to be easier and we are now ALL using hemp milk or flax milk.

Tomorrow I will share fun ideas on how we get through the holiday season!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Crazy Weekend Filled with Too Much Reality



This past week was a very busy one for my little men. While living with children with life threatening (anaphylactic): environmental allergies, insect stinging allergies, and food allergies poses daily threats and much planning, this past week has been especially draining.

On Mondays, our oldest (6 years old) goes to co-op classes with other homeschooling children. We have emphasized repeatedly to the teachers that our son has anaphylactic reactions to food, environmental allergies, and fire ant allergies. It seemingly has fallen on deaf ears. They simply are not understanding that our son could fall to the ground and gasp for air in a matter of moments when exposed to "poison". This Monday, he came home from his classes and animatedly told us stories about eating blue candy that made his mouth and tongue turn the color of a blueberry. Then he excitedly told us about all of the bugs they saw in his "A Bug's Life" class when they walked around outside looking for insects with their magnifying glass. It is in that moment the inner conflict takes hold of my gut. I smile through clenched teeth and try to remain calm while he happily laughs about the events of his day. "Umm... Who gave you the blue candy?" He proudly says, "I asked her to make sure it was safe. She read the ingredients and said it did not contain eggs." I replied "Good job asking." Inside I am screaming!!! We said no shared food. We emphasized severe reactions, cross contamination issues, and often needing to call manufacturers to be sure it was safe. Does this person assuring my son that this candy is safe know that the ingredient labeled albumin is another name for eggs?!? But instead I smile and say, "Oh, I see. Did you remember your epipen and benadryl when you went to look for bugs outside?" He nonchalantly answered with, "No mommy they said we had to leave our stuff inside, but I was smart and told everyone to yell when they saw an ant and I would need to run away." I said, "Oh, well, I think in the future your epipen should remain on your body, baby." But inside, I silently wept for the what-could-have-happened scenarios running through my head. Later, I told my wonderful husband about what happened. We both sighed with relief that he was okay, stressed over the constant worry, and resigned to the fight to come with people who fail to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

Thankfully, the rest of the week went by status quo. Then Saturday came. Saturdays are usually filled with soccer games and swim meets. I love to watch our little man play! This week was the last week of the season. I had prepared a little goodie bag just in case and emailed the coach asking for a head's up on any events afterwards. I heard nothing. Sadly, no communication is typical, so I showed up with the goodie bad just in case. We went to get their medals and celebrate one last time as a team. Surprise!!! Fast food children's meals and egg filled cupcakes. Children are literally squealing with excitement and laughing with joy. My son has experienced exclusion several times in the past despite my wildest attempts to protect him. He has always looked at me with sad eyes and said, "It is okay Mommy. I am not hungry anyways. Can we just stay and play?" So I was anticipating this same kind of reaction followed by overwhelming guilt that I could not protect him from disappointment in an already disappointing world. I was ready to also play my part of smiling and saying sure, baby we can play and promising an egg free alternative of the exact same thing once we got home. Instead my little trooper turned to me and cried. He buried his head into my stomach and lost control and just bawled. I honestly did not know what to say or do. I could not make this right. I could not make this go away. I tried to take him to the side so we would not be in the center of all eyes. He was rooted to his spot and years of fear, worry, anger, and anguish was being released. After what felt like an eternity he looked at me and said, Why Mommy? Why! Why does everything have to have eggs in it? Why does everything have to be unsafe for ME? It's not fair!" I looked at him with tears streaming down my face and said, "You're right baby, it is not fair. It is completely not fair that this world is filled with things you are allergic to. It is completely not fair that you are excluded because other people fail to communicate when foods will be present. And it is not fair that I cannot make this right, right away." He nodded and cried again. I held him tight. Once he was calm again, I was able to tell him a funny inside joke and he went of to sit with his friends.

I went to the children's fast food meals, grabbed the toy inside and placed it in an empty box so he could feel a little more included. Then I held my breath and tried not to hover as my child that is anaphylactic to fire ants sat on the ground with the rest of his team. I let him stay a few minutes and then tried to calmly prompt him to leave right after another child was bit twice by fire ants. Sadly, he sees right through me every time.  He stood up, swallowed the lump in his throat and quietly followed me to the car.

On the drive home, I promised a fast food treat (a rarity) and his very own sweet tea (something I have never done). Guilt is a beautiful thing- if your six and reaping the benefits. As we pulled into the driveway, My big boy told me matter-of-factly, "Mommy you cannot always protect me, you know? Sometimes, you just can't. Sometimes, you may not be there." How do you respond to that? How do you assure him you can, when life is unpredictable? How do I reassure him, when every moment of everyday I hypervigilantly try to keep them safe and know that I cannot always be there. I answered the only way I knew how, "I will protect you, darling with everything I can until my last breath". He just put his little hand in mine and we walked to the front door together. Thankfully, for today, despite the situation, he was physically safe while I tried with my everything to keep him emotionally safe as well.

Our crazy Sunday to follow tomorrow, I promise.