Monday, March 31, 2008

Download Trace Adkins Tune for the Cure

I just got the following e-mail alert. I'm not necessarily a country music fan (that's an understatement) but Trace Adkins has done so much to raise awareness for food allergies that I thought I would post this here.

Trace didn't win "Celebrity Apprentice" but I'm so glad that food allergies received the large public forum that they got from his appearance on the show.

Let's see more positive messages about coping with food allergies on TV and in films! So far all we've really had is silly stuff like people's head's exploding from food allergies ("Meet the Robinsons") and the recent Nancy Drew Hollywood film in which Nancy performs an emergency tracheotomy on a peanut-allergic partygoer. That scene scared the wits out of my daughter and worse, was not a realistic or sympathetic portrayal of this increasingly common condition.

Thanks, Trace for putting a POSITIVE message out there!

Here's the alert:

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure™

We need your help, and you don’t want to miss this!
Download country music sensation Trace Adkins’ live recording of the hit single “You’re Gonna Miss This” from iTunes between March 27 and April 10, 2008 to support the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
Trace Adkins appeared on “The Celebrity Apprentice” raising awareness for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), and will reprise his role as the 2008 National Honorary Chair of FAAN’s Walk for Food Allergy.

“I know firsthand how important FAAN’s efforts to increase funding for food allergy education and research are,” says Trace, whose 6-year-old daughter Brianna is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. He and his family turn to FAAN for help managing Brianna’s food allergies, and now Trace is helping FAAN.

You can help Trace Adkins support FAAN. Purchase “You’re Gonna Miss This” from iTunes for only 99 cents. Proceeds from this promotion will be donated to FAAN to use for food allergy education and research.
Buy your copy today, and make sure to tell your friends and family to do the same. These are some good times and you don’t want to miss this!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Not Eggs-actly Fun to Have Food Allergies at Easter

Just when I thought that the candy companies couldn't possibly find more places to put peanut butter, (actually, I never think that, I only hope for it) Reese's decided to stuff some PB into a bunny's body cavity! Their latest product is chocolate Easter bunnies filled with peanut butter. Oh, joy.

In the old days when we first found out about my daughter's allergy, I felt pretty desperate when I walked through the supermarket looking for something to put in her daughter's Easter basket. Every single thing seemed to say "processed with peanuts." Thank goodness for Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. Also, for the jelly bean-frustrated (they almost always say "processed with peanuts"), Starburst has come out with a line of jelly beans that do appear to be safe.

However, it got me thinking about all the kids with egg allergies. Easter (if you celebrate it) has got to be really difficult. Eggs play a role in Passover celebrations, too, so that's another holiday that is hard for egg allergies (and nut allergies).

I envisioned what it would be like if Easter centered around ersatz versions of nuts. Sort of like Mr. Peanut gone wild. What if Walgreens carried big, plastic, brightly colored peanuts instead of eggs for stashing in Easter baskets? Needless to say, I (am my family) wouldn't like it one bit.

Thankfully, there isn't a holiday (yet!) that centers around peanuts. You've got to find the "silver linings" when you can.

And for everyone dealing with an egg allergy during the spring holidays--hang in there. Pretty soon it's baseball season and then it will be my turn to hear "Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack."

In the meantime, enjoy whatever holiday you're celebrating this spring! And let's be sure to impress everyone with our "allergy-friendly" recipes. They can become part of our new holiday food traditions. Anyone who has some great holiday recipes that are allergy-friendly, please feel free to post them here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Birthday Party Blues

Is it me, or is there a birthday party every weekend? I mean, I have nothing against celebrations of any kind, but when families are working and busy, it can get kind of crazy.

Most parents feel obligated to have their child attend any party they are invited to but I think some of us do it with a less-than-cheerful attitude. After all, don't parents deserve a weekend to just have a tiny bit of R&R?

As the parent of a child with life-threatening food allergies, I have to weigh each invitation a little more carefully than I would otherwise. There could be any number of reasons that we skip a party, not always because of food allergy issues. But I would be lying if it I said it doesn't play a role. Of course, sometimes we just can't go. And if my daughter really wants to attend, we make sure that she does.

Still, I've always had the nagging suspicion that if my daughter were free of food allergies, birthday party worries would be non-existent.

Turns out I'm wrong! I was reading a Chicago Moms Blog that is cross-linked to the DC Moms Blog (I know, it's a little confusing) the other day and the topic of discussion was birthday parties. Specifically, birthday parties that occur during the week. The moms were debating whether or not these birthday parties were designed to exclude the "working moms." They also complained about the inconvenience of too many birthday party invitations not necessarily being a welcome thing. On that one, I hear ya, sisters.

Doesn't matter if you're a "Nut-Free Mom" or not. Birthday parties aren't always a piece of cake for busy parents, no matter what the situation. Whew! It's not just me.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

I read that on a coffee cup once and I thought it was both hilarious and true. And the sentiment "If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy" goes double for Nut-Free Moms.

I don't know about some of you, but I have my good days and bad days with the whole allergy thing. Sometimes it's no biggie and then other days an insensitive comment or fears about my daughter attending a social situation solo will send me inwardly reeling.

So let's all pledge to "Take care of the caregiver." That means, you, Mom. If you're completely burned out and for example, already worrying about what your 5-year-old will face as a food-allergic kid in college, that's a sign that you're taking it all too hard and you need a break. Here's some tips for taking a "Nut-Free Mom Vacay:"

1. Don't use the Internet to fuel your fears. Talk to your doctor if you have legitimate worries, but please PLEASE don't look up all the scary tales of people who died of food allergies, etc. It's just not helpful. Look, we already know that allergies are serious business and we're taking precautions. There's no need to torture ourselves.

2. Book some "kid-free" time. Visit a restaurant with your spouse only or with a friend. Go out for martinis with your girlfriends. See a movie. Indulge in some retail therapy. Any mom can get exhausted dealing with kids day in day out, but when you have a special medical condition to consider, burnout can happen even more quickly. So nip it in the bud.

3. Accentuate the positive. Make a list of all the wonderful things that your child has brought to your life. I'm betting that's a long list. Yes, food allergies are life-altering and worrisome but they can be managed. Our children are special and unique no matter what. When my daughter tells me that she wishes she didn't have any food allergies, I tell her "But then you wouldn't be you. And I wouldn't want anyone else but you."

How do you cope when food allergy worries get you down?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Peanut-Free Politicking

I'm a big NPR junkie. So with all the buzz about the primaries lately, I thought it would be a good time to discuss food allergy advocacy and politics.

Generally I scorn the idea of "one issue" voters since that does not really fit into my idea of a democracy. When my daughter was diagnosed with her severe food allergies, I wondered, would I support a candidate if he/she were a big advocate for food allergies? Even if I didn't necessarily like other things about them?

This hasn't come up too much. But lately, politicians ARE getting involved in this cause. With the help of advocacy groups like FAAN, a bill was passed in 2006 that targeted the FDA laws regulating food labels. Thanks to that, you can now read "May contain nuts" or "Processed with peanuts" on just about every food you want to buy. (I'm joking. Sort of.)

Well, now there is a new bill going through Congress that I urge everyone to support. It is called the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act and it proposes to set standard procedures for schools with regard to how they handle their food allergy policies. This would affect everything from safe lunch rooms to emergency medical training for staff. Click this link to find out about it. The link will also direct you to your district's Congressperson so you know who to contact.

I live in Illinois, so I contacted Senator Dick Durbin. His office got back to me in one day! My other choice was Senator Barack Obama. But he's been, shall we say, just a little bit busy lately. I'm guessing he would not have gotten back to me that quickly, but hey, maybe I'll give him a shout out too.

The originator of this bill was Senator Christopher Dodd. Does anyone except for us NPR nerds remember him from the early Democratic primaries? He moved to Iowa with his young family but got no votes.

I wonder if either of his children has a food allergy. If anyone knows, please post. I'm curious why he chose this bill to support. And I'm grateful! We need more Senators to get involved, so make your voice heard.

Let's support this bill in Congress by writing and calling our representatives. They are listening--if we speak up.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nut-Free Family Fun at the Kohl

A reader recently posted about Kohl Children's Museum in Glenview since it houses a "nut-free bakery." My family enjoys it there so much I thought it deserved its own blog entry.
Besides offering fun, hands-on activities for young kids including a house you can "decorate" (see above), a pretend vet, painting and crafts, an elaborate pretend grocery store,"water works," a musical instrument exhibit and lots more, the Kohl houses a wonderful nut-free bakery called "Kim & Scotts Pretzel Bakery and Twisting Cafe." The pretzels are yummy, and they have a hot chocolate "bar." My family has been there several times, so thanks again to the reader who reminded me about it.

According to their web site, Kim & Scott's also has egg-free and dairy-free options. May I make a suggestion? Take some time to send them a supportive "thank you" e-mail. And go to the restaurant if you can. We need more places like this and the ones that exist need our support.

Another restaurant that always asks about food allergies when you call to make a reservation and is peanut-free (though not completely "nut-free", yet) is the American Girl Cafe in Chicago. I know that's not the type of place you'd go every weekend, but I appreciate that they avoid peanuts. No PB&J to be found there!

Please post if you know of other nut allergy friendly places for families.