Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food Allergy News: Shea Nut and Tree Nut Allergy

I get a lot of questions about shea nut and shea nut butter. This is actually not a "true" tree nut but it does raise a lot of questions for people with tree nut allergies, much like coconut does.

Shea (nut) butter turns up in some candies and other foods. Shea is listed as a possible oil in Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, for example and it used to be an ingredient in Candy Corn Kisses from Hershey. My daughter has not had a problem with shea and has eaten the above candies without incident, but since this is a fairly new ingredient to foods, we are being cautious with it.

I thought I would share this article from Allergic Living magazine that references recent studies finding that shea nut appears to be safe for nut allergies.

Of course, before serving any questionable food to a tree nut-allergic person, always check with your allergist.

Shea nut butter turns up with increasing frequency as an ingredient in lotions, shampoos and body washes. I've had a lot of concern from blog readers about this. Since lotions contain many other chemicals besides shea, if you suspect shea allergy, don't self-diagnose. Check with an allergist--it could be shea or some other ingredient causing the problem.

Click here for Allergic Living's full story on shea nuts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from The Nut-Free Mom!

I wanted to take this time to say Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate! As the year comes to a close, I can reflect on the many people I've either met through this blog or in person who are working hard to make life better and safer for people with food allergies. Thanks to all of you! Your efforts make a difference.

I also wanted to give a word of hope to parents who may be dealing with nut allergies for the first time this year. It does get easier. And you're definitely not alone. I hope you'll visit this blog often and share your concerns if you have them.

I also hope that everyone takes this opportunity to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. Food allergies can make holidays a little more difficult, but holidays aren't only about food. Serve your family some "safe" foods, bring them along to the parties with you and have fun with the spirit of the season!

If you're heading out to parties and are looking for some food allergy navigation tips, check out my holiday party guidelines. The title says "Thanksgiving" but my tips work for any holiday party.

Also, if you feel like any last-minute baking (as I'm doing today), I've heard some great feedback on my Nut-Free Snowball Cookies and Super-Easy Christmas Cookies, so check out those recipes if you wish!

To all of you, everywhere, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Big Food Allergy News: FAAMA Passed Into Law!!!

I received the following e-mail from Julia Bradsher, CEO of FAAN. This news couldn't have come at a better time, especially considering my previous post about a tragic food allergy death at a Chicago school. Read on and let's celebrate. FAAMA will save lives.

Dear Jenny,

We did it!!

Five years after the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) was introduced in the U.S. Congress, FAAMA has finally passed as part of the food safety bill and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

FAAMA will lead to the much-needed creation of national food allergy management guidelines for schools. While these guidelines are voluntary, they will provide schools without existing food allergy management policies with a valuable resource.

These policies are critical to help educate school officials about food allergy, a potentially life-threatening medical condition, and help them implement emergency plans in case a severe reaction occurs on school grounds. Studies have shown that up to 25% percent of reactions in school occur in children with previously undiagnosed food allergy.

Earlier this month, a fatal reaction occurred at a school in Chicago, allegedly due to food that was consumed at school.

The guidelines will also benefit parents of children with food allergies, who are looking for a vetted resource to help them safely manage their child’s food allergies in the school setting.

Written largely by FAAN, the national guidelines will not supersede existing or pending state laws or guidelines concerning schools and food allergies. The FAAMA guidelines should be seen as a complement to existing guidelines created as a result of other legislation.

This tremendous accomplishment was made possible by the thousands of individuals who advocated for this legislation and many elected representatives who co-sponsored FAAMA over the years, most notably Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), whose daughter has a food allergy, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who has a grandchild with a food allergy.

We celebrate the passage of FAAMA today, but our work is not done. FAAN will continue to work diligently to raise awareness, educate others, and advocate on behalf of the millions of Americans with food allergy and anaphylaxis.

Thank you all for your support!

Julia Bradsher

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tragic Food Allergy Death Points to Desperate Lack of Education

Everybody has been talking about this story today and I really need to chime in. I first heard of it on The Food Allergy Mama's Facebook page. Then, today, I read the story in the Chicago Tribune and also got flooded with e-mails.

I feel sick about this. This did not need to happen. This poor girl's tragic death could have been prevented. Why did this happen?

The entire facts of the case aren't yet clear and I'm only discussing what I read in the news story. More may be revealed later. Mention was made of Chinese food served in the classroom which the girl apparently ate. Epinephrine autoinjectors, or lack of them, were also mentioned. It's not clear if this student had a food allergy emergency plan or not.

The news story tells how the school ordered in Chinese food after being assured, allegedly, by the restaurant, that the food would be peanut-free. OK, let's just stop right there. Chinese restaurant food can NEVER be safe for a peanut-allergic person. If you know anything about how Chinese food is prepared or its key ingredients, you know that it is off-limits to peanut-allergic people for good reason. Cross-contact will present problems even if actual ingredients do not. In fact, on the list our allergist gave us, Chinese and Asian foods are at the top of the "do not eat" list.

Food allergy education can save lives. For example: "peanut-free" does NOT mean "safe for life-threateningly allergic to peanuts." To many, many people, "peanut-free" means, simply, that the recipe does not contain actual peanuts. Maybe a restaurant, in good faith, says "peanut-free" when they don't understand that what the customer was really asking for was "safe for peanut allergy" or "no risk of cross-contact." Being clear is key. Please, please, be clear.

I've learned never to assume that restaurant staff understand what you mean. That's why you ask for the chef or manager about the meal and present your food allergy cards to the wait staff. Check out FAAN for these downloadable cards.

This story just makes me so fed up. It's not only schools or restaurants that need education, it's the general public. Parents of the school where this child died are now talking "peanut ban." But what good is a peanut ban if people are ordering in supposedly "peanut-free" Chinese food and then serving it to a peanut-allergic girl??? No good at all. Education is key. Education will save lives.

This could have been your child. This could have been my daughter. For all of you heading out to holiday celebrations, please take something positive from this horrific incident and stand firm about your child's food restrictions. Food allergies can be fatal, and it's tragic. Even more tragic is that a fatal reaction could have been prevented with simple knowledge.

My heart goes out to this family in their loss.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peanut Allergy Holiday Tips from SunButter...and Me!

Just wanted to share this great link from SunButter that features some holiday tips for kids with food allergies including some of mine and a link to my blog.

Hey, SunButter, I'm glad you like my advice because we LOVE SunButter around here. It's our new favorite snack and so much less fat than peanut butter besides being safe for my allergic daughter. You guys rock!

I was thinking about other suggestions that I have for parents based on my experiences and here's a big one: go with your instincts and never let your guard down.

Sometimes the holiday foods presented to us are overwhelming. There are so many high-risk for nut allergy items that it can seem tempting to say "what the heck, it's Christmas, just eat it." I understand that but don't do it. Too many reactions occur because someone had "just one cookie" or piece of candy.

Instead, know that you will be faced with tempting sweets and off-limit foods and be prepared. Bring your own safe cookies (but keep them on their own tray) or whatever item is your child's favorite. That way, you can whip out that safe choice when your child is faced with something they really shouldn't eat.

SunButter included one of my favorite tips which is "Don't apologize for the allergy." Many parents, especially families where the allergy diagnosis is fairly new, can be made to feel like they are being overzealous or are raining on everyone's parade because they have to restrict the foods their child eats and/or is exposed to.

It's not your fault and your job as a parent is to make sure your child's health is protected. So don't cave, don't apologize and most importantly, stay positive. A cheerful, firm attitude really does work when it comes to food allergies.

Thanks again to SunButter for providing a great product and for supporting my blog!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas with a Peanut Allergy? 'Tis the Season to Be Nutty

It's time for my yearly rant about tree nuts and peanuts flying at you from all directions at the winter holidays! Enjoy and feel free to add your Grinchy gripes. It will make you feel better. ;)

Six year ago when I discovered that my oldest daughter had a life-threatening nut allergy, I wasn't fully aware of the impact that this diagnosis would have on the holidays. But I should have been. Let's face it — a big part of any holiday is the food. Add nut allergies to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a stressful situation.

It seems to me that the world becomes increasingly more infatuated with nut-containing recipes starting around Halloween and continuing until after the New Year. Food magazines, TV news segments and newspaper cooking sections are filled with nuts, nuts and more nuts. There appears to be a primal desire to stock up on foods that highlight walnuts, pecans, cashews and almonds, almost like a squirrel stocks up on acorns for the winter.

For example, as I flipped through current issues of my favorite magazines, I found recipes for caramel nut cheesecake, Roquefort salad with walnuts, kugel with pecans, green beans with almonds, broccoli casserole with pecans, peanut butter blossom cookies, bourbon balls with crushed walnuts, candied nuts and pecan-laced turkey stuffing. You get the picture. Also, a homemade front-door holiday wreath devised of walnut shells.

Yes, nuts are everywhere you look this time of year (that's not even including our nearest and dearest) and as the walnut wreath proves, sometimes tree nuts greet you at the door even before the hosts do.

Because of the recipes and nutty crafts floating around, holiday parties and dinners pose major challenges to the nut-allergic. Unfortunately those two warhorses of holiday entertaining — buffets and potlucks — can be a health hazard. Standard buffet fare such as complicated casseroles with 20 ingredients or cookie recipes with crushed pecans are off-limits. Sometimes the food doesn't even have to contain nuts but has come into contact with them. If we don't know for sure about a particular food, our daughter doesn't get to eat it, so often she doesn't get to partake of holiday treats made outside of our home.

Food isn't the only thing that's dicey about holiday dining with nut allergies. Since food is so deeply rooted in tradition and emotion, the potential to either offend or be offended during what I’ve come to view as “the nutty season” is endless. It’s almost inevitable that a nut-allergic family will encounter a friend or relative who just doesn’t believe that food allergies are real or who are certain that "just one bite" of their treasured recipe won't hurt, when in fact, it could. People who wouldn’t dream of questioning a child’s diabetes or asthma diagnosis may peg you as a “nut” for asking about every ingredient in a dish, or label your child as "picky" if you are obliged to bring them a separate meal for safety's sake.

For the most part, my family is able to focus on the fun aspects of holiday celebrations and not the food gaffes. We've been fortunate to have a lot of support from family members and friends. Plus, my husband and I enjoy entertaining at our home, which helps eliminate the need for others to concern themselves with the menu. When we do attend a holiday party, I'm always willing to whip up a nut-free side dish or decorated cupcakes.

Perhaps because an individual with food allergies is denied so many treats at this time of year, food allergies teach you how to appreciate the most important things in life. Family, friends and the good fortune to be eating a delicious dinner at all come to mind. I've also found that my daughter is unusually compassionate to other people...maybe because she has her own struggles,she is always quick to support kids who deal with difficulties of their own.

Despite the fact that we sometimes feels as if "Life is a bowl of cashews," it's wonderful to be present at the table with those we love most. And even though my family has to be more cautious about what foods we place on that on that table, "the nutty season" is worth it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Food Allergy Guidelines: Will They Make a Parent's Job Easier??

A lot of you may have seen these recent news stories about new food allergy guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. For those of you who didn't see this info or who want links, I've provided them below.

About a week and a half ago, the NIAID released new guidelines for diagnosing food allergies. These guidelines are intended to be especially helpful for parents whose children have been diagnosed with multiple food allergies and who may have very restricted diets.

Also, here's what the Wall Street Journal had to say about the new guidelines.

Personally, my family's life is not affected much by these new guidelines because my daughter has not only been diagnosed via blood and skin testing, she has also experienced more than one reaction to nuts and peanuts. We know the allergy is there and since one reaction was about a year ago, she's not a candidate for new tests at this time. In other words, her allergy is hanging on, at least for now.

However, the new guidelines are so encouraging to so many because up until now, not everyone was being diagnosed in the same way. This led to confusion, misdiagnosis and possibly unnecessary limited diets--which we also know means limited lifestyle. Also, food allergies can fluctuate and change over time. This is also addressed by the new guidelines.

As always, please get advice from a board-certified allergist or pediatrician before changing anything you are doing with regard to your child's allergies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Food Allergy Resources Make Great Holiday Gifts!

For those of you looking for holiday gifts for the allergic people in your life, (or if you would like to drop a few hints for your spouse or family), here's a short list of some of the best food allergy books/magazines out there.

I've had the pleasure of meeting all of the authors below, either in person or online, and I can tell you that they are completely devoted to helping food-allergic people and their families enjoy a better quality of life.

The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book by Kelly Rudnicki. Just awesome. Kelly provides delicious recipes for things like apple doughnuts, birthday cakes and a myriad of cookies and quick breads that are egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free. If you ever thought it was impossible to bake without eggs, dairy or nuts, Kelly will set you straight! Your kids will be the envy of their friends with these yummy treats. Full-color photos accompany each recipe. You also get to see Kelly's cute kids hard at work baking! You will love this book! Check Kelly's website to order. I've also found this book available at my local Borders book store.

The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal. Martha Stewart featured this book as one of the best baking books out there and once you flip through it you will see why. This book is so gorgeous and filled with delicious-looking photos that make you want to roll your sleeves up and get baking. Cybele offers dozens of recipes free of all top 8 food allergens and gluten. A simply beautiful book! You can visit Cybele's website to order or visit your local bookstore. I got mine at Borders!

Food Allergy Books by Linda Coss. Linda Coss is a pioneer of food allergy parenting and cooking. She has wonderful cookbooks as well as a book of advice on how to live with food allergies. Her cookbooks are also free of dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut and she has some really awesome family-friendly meals. Don't miss her books! You can order them by visiting her website.

Enjoy Life Foods: Cupcakes and Sweet Treats for Everyone! and Enjoy Life Foods: Cookies for Everyone! Enjoy Life Foods offers great baking ingredients free of the top 8 allergens and then some. They bring their delicious approach to allergy-friendly eating to you with two beautiful books that will solve your allergy-free baking problems. I've found these at my local bookstore but you can order them from their web site, too.

Allergic Living magazine. I highly recommend a subscription to this amazing lifestyle guide. Besides tackling food allergies with wit, wisdom and tons of practical advice, editor Gwen Smith and her talented team also address seasonal and environmental allergies. Published 6 times a year, you will wonder how you ever got along without Allergic Living. Visit the website for subscription details.

I hope you'll check out each of the resources above. And thanks to the talented people behind them. You make a difference!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Allergies, Nut Allergies and Vanilla Extract

I'm running the following post again, for those who may have missed it.

With the holiday baking season upon us, I've had several e-mails about the safety of vanilla and other baking extracts. This is obviously a big concern for those of us who bake nut-free because most companies also produce almond extract.

A word about almond extract--you'll notice that some of these brands say that it is not produced from actual almonds, but from the pit of certain fruits.

Please be advised that apricots and peaches can be cross-reactive for tree nut-allergic people because these fruits are in the almond family.

I personally recommend avoiding almond extract if you are dealing with almond and other tree nut allergies. Also, with some of the more "gourmet" brands, you may be dealing with pure almond and also cross-contact issues on the production lines. Why even go there? I am uncomfortable using "almond" anything for someone with an almond allergy. Of course, please check with your allergist if you have more questions about this.

Now, back to vanilla. I contacted three of the biggest manufacturers of vanilla extract and baking products: McCormick, Nielsen-Massey and Wilton. I'm very happy to report that 2 out of 3 of them don't even use "real" almond for their almond extract. Wilton, as most of you may have discovered already, is the most challenging, since they do have peanuts and tree nuts in their facility, even though some items are not sharing production lines. If you'd like to use their products, I'd say it's your call to make. Also, you may have to do some digging about each individual product. Their response below contains more info.

Here's what each company had to say in response to my e-mails inquiring about the safety of their extracts.

McCormick: "McCormick and Co. does not use peanuts or tree nuts in any of our facilities. The Oil of Bitter Almond used in our Pure Almond Extract is extracted from apricot kernels, not the almond itself."

Note: I asked specifically about extracts in my e-mail. McCormick now makes many spice blends beyond their basic extracts and spices; they make other products as well. If you have concerns about other products, give them a call.

Nielsen-Massey: "All of our products are nut free. We do not process anything with tree nuts in our facility. In fact our Almond Extract is actually made from bitter almond oil which comes from stone fruit pits such as peaches. Please be assured that all of our products are safe from nut allergens."

Wilton: "I have attached a link from our website that displays our vanilla extracts and the following allergy information:

No Peanuts/treenuts in the product but there are peanuts/treenuts present in the facility

No Peanuts/Treenuts in the product but there are peanuts/treenuts present in the facility

As far as our sprinkles and decorations are concerned, because we are very specific when it comes to food allergies, if you would kindly provide me with a few stock numbers from our website of some decorations that you are interested in because we want to make sure that we provide you with the correct information."

Consumers, please note: It is up to you to check each product you use. In fact, as practices change, it is a good idea to check labels or call for info from time to time. I do this with my favorite products as well as new ones, and I suggest you do the same for your own information and peace of mind. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free Holiday the Supermarket!!

While doing my errands, Christmas shopping and what have you at SuperTarget and Jewel, I've been researching supermarket-available holiday candy that is safe for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. Besides reading labels, I've called some of these companies for more info. If you have any questions about the following list, I suggest you do the same.

Still, with all the things we have to do, it's nice to know that we can pop out to the supermarket and buy candy that's safe for our nut-allergic kids or for a kid-centric holiday party. I also hope that I've provided a great list to pass on to friends and relatives.

A couple of things before I get to the list: because nut allergies are what I deal with, that is what I focused on here. The best sources for multiple food allergies are generally things available over the Internet such as Divvies. However, a few candy brands found at the supermarket offer holiday treats free of many allergens.

Beware of chocolate. Lots of chocolate is not safe for nut allergies. Regarding Hershey's brand, read the labels. They will list if any allergens are present on production lines and will list allergy warnings if there is any cross-contact risk for particular items. If you need more info from them, please visit their web site.

Please always consider your child's specific needs before giving them any food and ask your doctor what is safe for them. If you have any product questions, call the companies for more info.

Let your comfort level be your guide. If you prefer candies made in allergen-free facilities, then please go with those. There is no sense in worrying about the candy you give your child; candy is supposed to be FUN. However, I hope the following list gives you a few tasty options.

OK, disclaimers are out of the way. Let's get to the candy:

"Bob's" brand peppermint candies including Candy Canes and "Sweet Stripes": made in a facility free of the Top 8 allergens, according to Bob's customer service rep I spoke with today. The customer service rep told me that Bob's brand candies will list allergen info, including possible cross-contact info. If you don't see allergen info, it's because that particular Bob's brand of candy was made in an allergen-free facility.

Exceptions: Bob's Starlight and sugar-free Starlight mints are NOT safe for peanut and tree nut allergies. The rep said they are made in a different plant than the other "Bob's" mints. Their labels will reflect an allergy warning for nuts, among other foods.

Sweet Tarts Holiday Gummies: This brand will list allergen info, including cross-contact info, if any.

Mike & Ike brand Holiday Medley Jelly Beans: Red and green jelly beans, perfect for decorating holiday cakes and for parties.

Life Saver Big Ring Gummies--These are SO cute--they are packaged individually to look like little Christmas wreaths. Allergy note: Check the label if you are shopping for multiple allergies; some Life Saver gummies may contain milk.

Tootsie Roll Candies: All Tootsie Roll candies are made in a tree nut-free, peanut-free facility, right here in the Chicago area, as a matter of fact. They have some great new holiday candies including Candy Cane Pops (pictured above), Frosty Vanilla Midges and Starlight Pops with a Tootsie Roll center. Each holiday candy features festive individual packaging, perfect for parties or gift-giving.

York Peppermint Patty: Always nut-free, but may contain milk.

Junior Mints: Made by the Tootsie Roll company so nut-free; may contain milk or egg.

Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses: Hershey is careful about manufacturing and labeling; past conversations with them confirm that their packaging reflects detailed allergen info, including cross-contact risk due to product lines. Candy Cane kisses do not have a nut allergy warning and according to Hershey reps, are safe for nut allergies.

Starburst and Life Savers Sweet Game Books: I found these at Target. They have fun holiday activity books for young kids along with candies. These are safe for nut allergies; however, both candies have milk allergy warnings.

For all food allergies, Dum Dum suckers and Smarties are free of the Top 8 food allergens. They are always a good standby.

I hope this list gets you started. Readers, what are some of your favorite nut-free or allergy-free holiday candies? Let us know if you can find them at the supermarket!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Food Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Treats from Enjoy Life Foods: Boom Choco Boom!

I was SO excited to receive samples of delicious Boom Choco Boom candy bars from our friends at Enjoy Life Foods! And check out the smile on my daughter's face as she displays her candy bar in the photo. Let me just say the bar was GONE a few minutes after that photo was taken.

What are Boom Choco Boom bars? They are delicious dairy-free, gluten-free and NUT-FREE bars of chocolatey goodness. The bars are made with rice milk and they come in several varieties including dark chocolate, milk chocolate and crispy rice chocolate--my daughter's favorite (and mine.) We do not need to avoid dairy around here but let me tell you, people, these bars disappeared quicker than you can say "Hey, are there any more of those Boom Choco Boom bars left?" My entire family, including my daughter without any food allergies LOVED these bars.

One thing I really enjoyed about them was they have all the chocolate taste but a much lighter feel on the palate due to the rice milk. They don't "overfill" your tummy. This may be why my oldest kept asking to eat more of these. She told me to tell my readers that she "thought she was gonna die" if I didn't give her another crispy rice bar right after the first one. So of course I did. What's a mom to do?

These bars are available at Whole Foods stores throughout the U.S.--look in the candy section. In the Whole Foods I shop at, the candy section is located near the deli and bakery aisles. If you can't find them, you can also order them directly from Enjoy Life. Follow this link to get a coupon for Boom Choco Boom!

Nut-free chocolate is hard to find--nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free chocolate that tastes great is even harder to find. I think these candy bars would make great stocking stuffers.

FTC Note: I received food samples but no compensation for this review.

Friday, December 3, 2010

There's No Other Way to Say It: Please Don't Bake for My Food-Allergic Child

I had another post I was going to run today, but the influx of e-mails in my inbox have prompted me to re-run a post that is very timely for the holidays.

A little over a month ago I asked parents of non-allergic kids NOT to bake for the allergic ones. My reasons? Cross-contact, lack of food allergy education and risk of allergic reaction due to lack of understanding. Also, studies have shown that desserts cause the most allergic reactions. Many kids also experience allergic reactions while at school: my daughter has.

With the winter holidays upon us, I am now getting many, many e-mails from well-intentioned moms who want to bake for the allergic kids in their classroom. This post is for them. First of all THANK YOU for caring. I, and the other moms who deal with food allergies, seriously appreciate your concern for our kids. You rock.

Secondly, and don't get your feelings hurt now: Please don't offer to bake for my allergic child. The only exception would be that your child has the EXACT SAME allergies as another child and you have kitchen free of those particular allergens.

I know it's hard to grasp, but your cookies could land a kid in the hospital. Put yourself in our shoes: would you want others, who may not be quite sure how to go about it, to bake for your severely food-allergic child?

I urge everyone interested to follow the link to my original post. Here I outline all the reasons why non-allergic peeps baking for the allergic is a bad idea.

A much better idea: Bring something with a label that's not homebaked. Or bring non-edible treats.

One other note that I will follow up on later: Almond extract. Don't use almond extract for the nut-allergic.

Dealing with nut allergies isn't like trying to get out of a parking ticket, unfortunately. When you are severely allergic, wiggle room doesn't exist with regard to what you ingest. Either you're allergic to nuts or you're not and if you are, you just avoid anything that says "almond." Period. Unless you want to risk the ticket, i.e., the possibly fatal trip to the emergency room.

Sorry if I sound cranky but there is real lack of education out there and I am concerned for all the nut-allergic kiddoes as they head to their winter parties or what have you.

Allergic families, this is for you. Please step up! Offer to bring something so that the room moms and family members aren't put in a position where they even feel like they have to bring a treat specifically for your allergic child. Be proactive and it will pay off, I promise. Your kids will appreciate your involvement, too.

Readers, your thoughts? Am the only one worried about this?