Wednesday 28 February 2018

Mommy Diaries: My Kid Has Food Allergies . . . Now what?

The second installment of the Mommy Diaries Series comes to you from my friend Heather, check the first article here.  Heather is a full-time working mother to two lovely children, Anna and Niall.  She is a positive and extremely reflective individual.  I am always drawn to her calming presence and she challenges me to always live in the moment and to not take anything in my life for granted.  I am thrilled to have her as a guest blogger here today to share her story.

The Harsh Reality

        They say ignorance is bliss. Looking back, I’m just thankful my ignorance did not cost my son his life. As a baby learning to eat, he’d spit out muffins, pancakes, and cookies. “Wow, what a good eater my son is. He doesn’t have a sweet tooth,” I’d tell myself. I remember trying to get him to eat scrambled eggs. His sister loved scrambled eggs, but oh no, not my son. His stubbornness amazed me as he’d seal his lips with a strong and determined force. “What a kid, he’s so strong-willed!” I’d think. I followed all the baby advice from health care professionals about the ages and stages of what to feed my baby. I hadn’t gotten around to trying to give him peanut butter by the time his first birthday rolled around. Looking back now, I guess that last month before his first birthday I was a little distracted with his new vomiting thing (which I’m sure I chalked up to teething or him just having caught a bug). Now I look back and shudder at my ignorance.

        My son’s first birthday party is when it all made sense. The light came on and “food allergy” became a real thing to us. We had a house full of people, food on the bbq, salads and snacks on the island and an adorable bumble-bee cake ready to be devoured by my one year old. We all fussed over my sweet little boy who was sitting in his high chair, elbow deep in potato salad. All of a sudden he was covered head to toe in a rash! One of our guests happened to be a nurse. She said to give him Benedryl. Okay, Benadryl given and rash subsided. The party must go on! “Here baby boy have some yummy birthday cake!” Within moments he was vomiting all over his high chair. Needless to say, the party did not go as planned. The next day I was on the phone to the doctor to book an appointment. Could it be? Was it possible for my son to have a food allergy?

Learning to Accept Life with Food Allergies

        My husband and I had heard of food allergies. I’d taught kids with food allergies. Some of our closest friends have severe food allergies. But neither my husband nor I had ever been directly impacted by the reality of living with food allergies. Wow! What a wake-up call it was!  After getting our son tested for an egg allergy we found out he also had a peanut allergy that was much more severe than the egg allergy. Although peanut allergies seem to be more and more common these days, I had absolutely no idea what living with food allergies meant and how it would alter the way I approach food for the rest of my life.

        Learning my kid had life-threatening allergies sure kicked my mothering worry gene into full force. At first, I was confused as to what this meant for him and our family. How could this happen to him and not my daughter? What did I do differently during pregnancy? Would we ever eat in a restaurant again? And on and on and on . . . As I was learning how to do deal with all the confusion and worrying, there were also moments of sheer panic when I realized I was seconds away from feeding my kid something that I’d forgotten to read the label of! It was no easy feat learning to take the time to read the labels of every single sauce, spice, side dish, and baking ingredient.

        At first, I missed peanuts, a lot! I longed for my care-free food choices and resented not being able to eat nuts or eggs. Much of my early struggle with navigating this new world of ‘food allergy’ was about me and my selfish ways. I didn’t want to change, but I knew I had to because it was what was needed for my son. The fact that I was responsible for what foods entered his body was somewhat daunting. However, I soon came to terms with the fact that food allergies were a part of our life. I learned to educate myself about label checking and contamination. Paying attention to every single food helped us and it’s really the only way to ensure you’re successful.

Cross-Contamination and May Contain . . . Labels

        We had a scare when my son was three.  According to the doctor it was an allergy mistake. To this day we still have no idea what caused it. The only thing we can think of is that something he ate was cross contaminated. It was honestly the scariest day of my life as a mom. I hope that none of you ever have to go through giving your child and epi-pen and a trip to Emergency. As for the labels that say may contain traces of . . . Many people say this is the company’s way of covering their butts and that it’s probably fine. Um . . . hello?! . . . That may be true. Other people may have a higher tolerance of risk-taking than I do, but I say, “thank you!” In my opinion this is the company’s way of potentially saving my child’s life from cross-contamination! I most definitely stay away from food that says may contain traces of peanuts. I’m not willing to gamble my son’s life on a label or on the words “probably fine.”

5 Things to Stay Away from that may be Cross-contaminated:

1.       Baking by anyone, except mom or grandma (includes bakeries)
2.      Anything bought or stored in bulk
3.      Slotted candy machines
4.      Hand-made candy packages
5.      Pot-luck anything

6 Tips You Need to Follow When You’re Learning to Live with Food Allergies:

1.       Get over it. Get used to the fact that no matter how prepared you are there are going to be disappointments. Your child will cry that others are allowed something he / she’s not. Please remember that you, as the parent, will not be able to have everything you once used to have too. Oh well, it’s better than a trip to the emergency room (and believe me that’s not fun!) Communicate with your child and guide them through your thinking. The more times you explain the circumstances and reality of food allergies to your child, the more he / she will grow to accept it too.

2.      Talk about it. You are your child’s best advocate in every area of life. At daycare, at birthday parties, at the beginning of every school year and new sports season mention your child’s allergies to the teachers, coaches and other parents. Have an epi-pen ‘dummy’ on hand to teach babysitters, teachers and anyone else who wants to know how to use the epi-pen. Talking about it is imperative to keeping your child safe, especially in the early years. 

3.      Always Ask. Teach your child to ask before they eat and to always err on the side of caution if he /she’s unsure.4.   Trust with caution. I’m the first to admit I do not want to bubble-wrap my kid. However, you need to realize that not everyone will fully understand what the implications of a food allergy are.

5.      Be prepared. Think ahead and save yourself and others unnecessary worry. You can’t expect others to put your needs at the forefront of their thoughts. Cupcakes in the freezer are helpful for birthday parties, a baggie of treats sent to school at the beginning of the year is helpful for miscellaneous treat days and a packed lunch kit is perfect for potlucks or play dates.

6.      Carry the dang epi-pen. We bought a neoprene epi-pen belt from that my son wears every day. It is peace of mind for me to know that in a school with hundreds of kids and numerous supervisors that he always has his life saving medicine on him, should he need it. The visible pouch allows him to be noticed by his peers and to have conversations with them about why he needs to carry it.

After 5 years of living with food allergies I’d say my son is well on his way to being a confident and independent little human who understands that his allergies are his. He may not like them and it may not be fair, but he knows what he has to do to keep himself safe. And as his mom, I take the responsibility of teaching him how to safely navigate through life very seriously.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Pin-spired: Office Style

It's been SOOOO COLD here.  No, you think you know what I mean but it's probably worse than you can imagine (unless you live where it's really, really cold).  Needless to say getting outside to take pictures, go for walks, make snowman, snowboard, run, etc. is pretty much out of the question.  You can't be out in the wind/cold combo uncovered for very long before you would be suffering from frostbite.  The kids have pretty much had indoor recess now for three weeks, bless their teachers.  Anyway, as you can tell it's made me a little uninspired lately.    When I am in a style run, I along with everyone else, hit  Pinterest for some inspiration.  I was immediately drawn to this Pin because it would encourage me to pull out my tweed and fringe skirt, also see here.  I've had it in my closet for at least three years now but I only wear it a handful of times a year.  I love the little fringe detail and add some peals to the mix and it's perfect for the office or a dinner out on the town.  I am pretty happy with how my pinspired outfit turned out in the end. 


Next week I am excited to either wear a) jeans or b)comfy athletic wear as I am off with the kids for a whole week.  Mr. and I are heading out of town to the cabin ALONE for the weekend!!!!!  Eeek, I am so excited. 

What are your weekend plans?

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Wednesday 14 February 2018

Hello Fresh Review: Convenient and Healthy Family Cooking

I will begin by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post, I am just writing it because I want to give my busy friends an honest review of this program. I received a free, one week trial through a friend.  I was feeling that we needed to diversify our meals a little bit and so when the offer came along, I was happy to check it out.  So glad I did.

The three meals arrived on my doorstep on a Tuesday, you can select your drop-off day, and I kind of felt like it was Christmas and my present was waiting to be opened.  The packaging was sooooooo nice you guys.  The box is heavy duty and completely insulated so the cold outdoors can't damage  the food.  Each meal was packaged in a large brown bag, with all the ingredients individually packaged inside.  All the produce was in mint condition!  The meat for each meal was placed at the bottom of the box on top of cold packs.  The recipe cards are beautiful and so easy to follow, so whoever gets home first can start the cooking.

We tried a 3-day family plan that was $129. Since we've had another box and they were equally as good.  Here is a quick review of the meals in our first box. 

Pork Schnitzel Fingers with Lemony Coleslaw and Sugar Snap PeasKids loved it!  They were huge fans of roasting the snap peas in the oven.  This is a keeper for sure.

Pesto Chicken with Roasted Zucchini and Red Pepper Panzanella SaladThis was really good, especially loved by the adults.  I added our own rice to this meal to make it go a little further, which resulted in us having enough for next nights supper.

Teriyaki Beef with Bok Choy, Carrots and Black Sesame RiceHands down our favorite meal!  How come I've never cooked with bok choy?!?  This has been on repeat since getting this meal.  I will say one flaw that we have found in Hello Fresh is that their beef is so-so.  The beef is a bit chewy to be honest but the recipe was amazing so since we've made it with our own beef.   This recipe  really pushed our pallets with the bok choy, ginger root, oyster sauce, etc.

How It Works:1.  You sign up for one of their meal plans (Pronto, Family or Veggie).
2.  You choose how many people and how many meals.
3.  You only order for the weeks that you want to receive the meals for.
(Remember to skip weeks so you don't get charged.  I skip several weeks at once if I know I won't be needing the service and then reevaluate each month based on our family calendar)
4.  Arrives on your doorstep and you are ready to have a meal in less then 30 minutes on your table.

Pros:- Quick and healthy
- Puts fun back into cooking
- Love the diversity of meals and ingredients
- Leftovers: either for 2 lunches or for all of us to eat another dinner (2 adults and 2 girls)
- Fresh for a week, so I don't have to cook every day
- Use the recipe cards over and over
- Super easy, any adult or teen could follow it

Cons:- Price point (totally reasonable for the service and the quality of ingredients, but yes I can cook for cheaper); $129 for a family of 4, for three full meals; other meal options are less
- Beef is so-so but people say that the veggie option is always a great alternative
- I haven't seen a seafood dish yet

If you want to try it out please use Hello Fresh $40 OFF  and receive $40 off of your first box and I will get $25, win-win.  Thanks!

Friday 9 February 2018

Fashion Friday: Blush Lace & Red Bows

This is what I would wear if I did Valentines Day.  

Valentines day is just not something we really celebrate in our home.  Logan and I don't do anything at all on this particular day and never really did even prior to having kids.  I don't really get the hype honestly and the idea of having to think of something grand to do or to give seems daunting.  LOL!  I am sorry to be such a downer.  Anyway, if we were to be super dooper romantic and going out for a fancy dinner I would totally wear this.  I have a massive crush on this adorable skirt.  Lets all just agree that the bow is it's winning feature but the cut and color would keep it a permanent staple in my closet.  Normally I wouldn't pair blush and red together but they seem perfect for each other when it comes to Valentines Day. 

 If you are going out or doing something special for Valentines Day, I hope you have a lovely time.  As for me and Mr. I think we will just indulge in a good bottle of wine, some delicious chocolates, cuddle time on the couch and my warm, fuzzy p.js (at least they are cute).  That's as good as it gets.

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Skirt (Chickwish)
Ruffled Shirt (H & M- sale for $9.99!)
Lace Top (H & M)
Blush Heels (Justfab)
Clutch (Rosegal)
Rose Gold Bracelet (H & B)
What are your Valentines Day plans?

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Kid Valentine's Day Craft: Clothespin Butterfly

As much as Mr. & I don't celebrate Valentine's Day in any grand way, I do always end up doing some sort of craft or class gift idea with the girls.  It's a fun way for us spend time and be creative together.  It's also a good time to revisit  what it means to be a good friend and different ways to show kindness.  I think it's the teacher in me that is always searching for new ideas and this one was adapted from  Crafty Morning blog.  In the past we've decorated special cookies, made our own valentines day cards, and last year we made You Make My Heart Bounce treat bags.  Halie, grade 5, is no longer interested but Anya is still happy to enjoy crafting with me.  This year she wrote cards and little packs of Smarties for everyone in her class but she also decided to make "special" gifts for her best friends.  

Materials You Will Need:
  • * Hugs & Kisses (250 gr.) - we used two bags to make 5 butterflies 
  • Self-adhesive googly eyes (tiny size) 
  • Wooden clothespins
  • Pipe Cleaners (we used red)
  • Snack size Ziplock bags
  • Red paint (tempera or acrylic)
  • Black Sharpie
*You can also use M & Ms, Skittles, Smarties, Red Hearts, Swedish Berries (we choose to use wrapped candy for hygiene reasons, but I don't think the kids would care either way)

I always encourage the kids to do as many of the steps on their own, regardless of how the final product turns out.  I really value the process much more so then the product.

1.  Paint the clothespins.  A. did two coats and let them dry overnight.  

2.  Add a smiley face and googly eyes on the top portion of the clothes pin.

3.  Fill the small bags with candy, we used 18 hugs & kisses in each bag.  We were able to make 5 butterflies from two bags.  

4.  Wrap a pipe cleaner around the bag,  I had to  help Anya with this step.  Fold the Ziploc seal to the back and then wrap the pipe cleaner dividing the bag into two halves.  Twist as the top, leaving equal lengths on both side to be curled into antennas.


5.  Slide the top of the clothes pin between the two halves of the butterfly.  The opening/closing portion of the clothespin is below so that it can hold a Valentine card.

Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday 1 February 2018

Friday Fashion: No Shopping January Update (10 January Looks)

I made it!  No shopping January was a huge success for me and shopping my closet was so much fun you guys!  I actually discovered I have even more stuff, when I started mixing and matching outfits, then I thought.  I am pretty confident that I can make it through February without repeating an outfit.  January was REALLY cold here (-25 to -40 C) so I wore a lot of pants.  For February, I am hoping to utilize my pencil skirts and dresses a lot more, plus I'll have a week off so I'll probably be sporting jeans everyday.   I did pick out a few pieces that I am not attracted to anymore and there are a few sweaters that I will be saying goodbye at the end of the season.    

Another reason that I didn't miss shopping in January was because I  was so bogged down with work, planning and delivering professional development, that I wouldn't have had time to shop even if I had wanted to.  I also had a nasty spill on the ice mid-month that took me to the chiropractor multiple times, as well as got me put 'bed rest' and "no heels" regime.  Thankfully January is behind me and I am feeling much better and looking forward to enjoying the freshly fallen snow we finally got.  

Here are my 10 favorite looks, varied form weekend casual to office professional, and everything in between.  You can also check out my featured blog looks from January (cozy poncho, plaid shirt and pom toques, winter style cord skirt & a statement sweater).

My new blue suede booties add such a fun element to this casual outfit.

After my fall, there was a NO HEELS policy for about two weeks.

Still loving these tweed pants from Simons.

Pencil skirts make me feel like Rachel form Suits.

So glad that I din't get rid of my chambray top.

Spring, soon?

Due to January being so busy, I haven't really had time to even compile a list of wants for  future reference so what are your must have items for spring?