Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rowan's updated blood test results

We had Rowan's blood re-tested about a month ago to see if anything had changed with her food allergies. We just got the results and they were very disappointing.

The range for moderate is 0.7 - 3.5. High is anything over 4.0.
Last year, she was at an 85 for eggs and milk...extremely high. Peanut was around 9.34. Wheat was 5.3, Soy was 4.6. Chicken and turkey weren't in the blood test, but the skin test showed she was allergic.

This year, her numbers actually went up - which surprised me, because she was already so high. Her current numbers are below. Anything over 4.0 is high.

Milk: above 100
Egg: above 100
Peanut: 28.3
Turkey: 16.3
Wheat: 10.3
Chicken: 4.6
Pork: 3.0

I was hoping that the turkey, chicken and wheat numbers would drop and we could try reintroducing these foods. She was already eating a little bit of wheat every day, so I need to ask the doctor about that one. For now we'll try to avoid it. Citrus still makes her wheeze, so we'll avoid that too.

The numbers of the top 3 or 4 on the list are an indication that she will not outgrow them. I feel like it would be a miracle if she could just outgrow a few of them.

We'll just keep avoiding all the things we've been avoiding, and be super careful about touching her after handling any of these foods. Rylie's last test was above 100 for peanuts, and 3.0 for milk and shellfish, so nothing new there. We never go anywhere without our epi-pens!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Possible Changes to US Food Labels

Has anyone seen the articles regarding possible changes to U.S. food labels? Among the suggested changes would be to have minor ingredients and allergens listed separately, with allergens in red. I would love to see these changes happen - it can be easy to miss hidden allergens in long ingredient lists and this would help tremendously. I also work in packaging design, so this could effect some of the processes we have in place.

Here is an article from the Well Blog on the subject: A Makeover for Food Labels. Ms. Pope also links to other sources with additional information and insight on the topic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crane Animal Humidifiers

The cold weather has arrived and the air is getting dry - a great time to buy a cool-mist humidifier for your kids rooms. We found these really cute animal humidifiers at Target for $34.99, and bought the frog and the penguin. There are so many more animals on Target.com...I wish I would have waited! Ours are really quiet and will hopefully help when our girls get coughs and colds this winter. Both of our girls have also been dealing with asthma.

I would not recommend the filter cartridge. One of ours broke apart and emptied into the water the very first night.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Green Start Books

My friend Sarah found these adorable Green Start books. This earth-friendly series is made from 98% post-consumer recycled materials and is printed with soy-based ink. Each hardcover 20 page book's simple, non-fiction content inspires children to love and respect the natural world. Includes a Parent Page with easy, everyday tips to practice earth-friendly habits right at home. Recommended for children ages 3-6. Available in 4 Titles. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Allergy Reminders for Halloween

1) Bite-size, individually-wrapped candies may have different ingredients or be processed in different facilities than their regular-size counterparts, so don't assume they are safe just because you have previously used the regular-size candies.

2) The ingredient label on a bag of candy may differ from the ingredient labels on the individual candies inside.

3) Advisory labels such as May Contain, Processed in a Facility, and Processed on Shared Equipment are voluntary. If a candy label lacks these statements, it doesn't mean the candy is safe from potential cross-contamination with an allergen. The only way to know if your Halloween candy is safe from allergens is to contact the manufacturer. (Read "Is Your Food Really Safe?" for more information.)

4) If a product does have an allergen advisory label, the product should be avoided. Studies have shown that many of these products actually *do* contain allergens.

5) Chocolates are commonly cross-contaminated with milk, soy, peanuts or tree nuts.

6) Allowing children to carry candies that contain their allergens can be dangerous. The wrappers can become loose and fall off the candy in their trick-or-treat bag, or children may attempt to eat the candy without you knowing.

7) Halloween dangers don't disappear that night. Be aware that other children may sneak candy to school the following week and attempt to share it. Remind your food-allergic child not to accept candy from anyone but you.

From Kids With Food Allergies eNewsletter

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Allergy-Free Soft Pumpkin Cookies

We'll be trying this recipe as soon as I find xanthan gum.

2 cups flour (can use gluten-free blend)
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp Egg Replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until completely mixed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place spoonfuls of batter on ungreased cookie sheet, 12-15 to a sheet.
Bake 18-20 minutes

Use wheat and/or gluten free ingredients as needed.
Created by Amy Hugon

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Allergies, Asthma and Autism on the Rise

I saw this article on the daily green and it really caught my attention. It was written by Robyn O'Brien, the founder of Boulder, Colorado based AllergyKids. It's organization dedicated to protecting the 1 in 3 American children with autism, allergies, ADHD and asthma. She has been Called "food's Erin Brockovich" by the New York Times.

I truly believe that genetically modified and engineered food is one of the reasons why food allergies on are on the rise, and Robyn seems to agree:
  • Did you know that food additives and dyes have been linked to asthma and ADHD?
  • Did you know that insecticides have been engineered into our food supply? Yikes!
  • Did you know that there is a synthetic growth hormone introduced into milk in 1994?
  • Did you know that Kraft doesn't include Yellow #5 in the mac 'n cheese boxes they sell overseas?
If you're interested, read more. I was really surprised to learn that there are chemicals that have been added to the U.S. food supply over the last ten years that have either been banned or labeled in countries like Australia, Europe, the UK, Japan....even Russia – because of the health risks they present.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Local 6th grader to lobby for food allergy bill

My mom sent me this article about Lake Ille, a sixth grader at Wilson Elementary, who was selected to go to Washington to help lobby for a food allergy bill. The kids will urge legislators to pass the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act, which calls for voluntary national guidelines to help schools manage students affected by food allergy and anaphylaxis, a serious, rapid allergic reaction that may cause death.

I was really impressed with Lake and his family, trying to make a difference for food allergic children. Rylie will be going to Wilson next fall, so it makes me feel good that he is making a positive impact and raising awareness. I still find myself in conversations where people hint that food allergy parents are over-reacting, or that food allergies are just media hype and not all that serious. I try to share our experiences and hope that it changes their mind.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trevor Hanging Drum Shade - On Sale!

We're thinking about converting our downstairs family room into a playroom for the girls, so I've been browsing for inspiration and affordable items. This awesome drum shade is on sale at Pottery Barn Kids for $89! Original price was $229. This one doesn't quite fit into the color scheme I'm thinking of, but it's such a great deal! It also comes in green with navy trim. Could someone please take advantage of this great sale price? Maybe I should change our color scheme to make it work!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First day of preschool

Rylie was excited for her first day of preschool! We filled out a million allergy-related forms and dropped off our own Food Allergy Action Plan. I spoke with the preschool director to discuss where the EpiPens would be stored and who is trained to use them. We also provide special treats for Rylie to eat during birthday celebrations. Rylie has the same teacher as last year and I feel like she is in good hands. Good luck to all of the other allergy moms out there! I know this time of year can be stressful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School - Emergency Action Plan

If you have a school-age child with food allergies, don't forget to provide an Emergency Action Plan to your teacher and school nurse.

In addition to all the medical forms required by the school, prepare with the help of your child’s doctor a one-page “Emergency Action Plan.” This document should include:
1) the foods your child is allergic to;
2) the possible symptoms of an allergic reaction;
3) the treatment that should be administered and under what circumstances;
4) contact information for the rescue squad (911), your child’s doctor, and you;
5) current picture of your child;
6) doctor’s signature.
Here is a link if you need a sample plan, available from the FAAN website.

Provide the school with epinephrine auto-injector(s) and any other medications as recommended by your doctor. Make note of the expiration dates.

Talk with your child. Reinforce the importance of following all the “food allergy rules” you’ve taught her.

Monday, August 24, 2009

SIGG bottles contain BPA

How disappointing. SIGG water bottles, which have long been perceived to be the eco-friendly alternative to plastic water bottles, has just confessed something that has sent huge ripples through the media - all of their bottles manufactured before August of last year actually DO contain BPA - according to a press statement made by Sigg CEO Steve Wasik. In case you aren’t familiar with the notorious chemical, Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor. Part of what made SIGG so popular in the first place was when SIGG marketing tactics involved pointing fingers at polycarbonate water bottle manufacturers - claiming that these types of bottles leached BPA. Not surprisingly, parents and eco-conscious consumers everywhere turned to SIGG bottles as a safe way to tote water on the go without being exposed to the dangerous effects of bisphenol-A, but there is a daunting sense of mistrust now that we learn we’ve been duped. Read more at Inhabitots...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pencil pouch or something more?

I saw this cute little pencil pouch at littlemissmatched.com and thought it would make a great EpiPen carrier! Only $7. Of course it works just fine as a pencil pouch too. Check out their cute selection of backpacks, totes and wallets.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So Many Hugs

I am so proud of my mother-in-law, Deanna Hurtubise! She has always dreamed of writing a children's book and getting it published, and her dream is now a reality. Her first book, So Many Hugs, is now available on Amazon.com. How cool is that? She has so many great stories in the works, so I'm sure there will be more books in the near future. Way to go, Dee! Keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pacifier Pocket from SkipHop

This is hilarious and brilliant at the same time. A pacifier pocket with a strap! We always find pacifiers at the bottom of our diaper bag, and I've resorted to putting extras in ziploc bags to keep them clean. This pacifier pocket keeps one or two pacifiers handy and clean with Agion Antimicrobial lining that helps to reduce bacteria growth. Available in 3 other designs/colors.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Treats by Home Free

We bought some cookies made by Home Free at Whole Foods over the weekend. All of their treats are made with organic ingredients and are peanut free, egg free, and dairy free. Rylie typically doesn't get to eat store-bought baked goods, so she was really excited to have a cookie that was safe for her to eat. They also have some great baking ingredients available on their site for allergy-free recipes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Neoprene Totes by Built

Check out all of the cool totes by Built. Market bags, laptop cases, camera bags, lunch totes, wine carriers...all in great colors and patterns. We always pack food for Rowan when we go to restaurants, so one of these lunch totes would be great. They insulate food for up to 4 hours. No vinyl or PVC used.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Rowie!

Rowan turned 2 on July 26th. We had a great family party with no allergy incidents! I'm hoping this will get easier and less stressful with each passing year. Here she is, ready to blow out her candle on her egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free cupcakes. Her exposure to sweets is very limited, so she didn't quite know how to handle the taste of these cupcakes. It was cute to watch her trying to figure out if she liked them or not.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New - Zoo Packs from SkipHop

I'm a big fan of SkipHop. All of their products have smart modern simplicity and feature fun cheery colors. And they're afforable. I just found their new Zoo Packs on Oompa Toys. Choose from Dog, Mouse or Penguin. Super cute!

Monday, July 20, 2009

KidKraft Picnic Table

I bought this picnic table online for the girls, and I wanted to share it because it's really well made and looks so cute in the yard. It's made by KidKraft, and if you do a search online, you can find some great prices. I got it for about $133 plus shipping.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cubino chair

I'm in the process of collecting ideas for a playroom at our house, and I came across these great cubino chairs today at project nursery. Great color combinations and a nice modern aesthetic. The fabric is water repellant and stain resistant. $109 for each chair. I'm adding these to my inspiration board and hoping they'll go on sale.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Between a Smock and an Art Place

Land of Nod is having a summer sale, and these kids art smocks are on sale for $16 each. Free shipping! Cute prints and a great gift idea. There are lots of other great items for sale. I'm trying to stop myself from clicking 'add to shopping cart.'

Children's Garden Photography

Here's one of my favorite photos from our recent session at Children's Garden, a locally-owned studio here in Cincinnati.

The sets are really nice and they have a big closet full of great clothes that the kids can wear during the shoot. The girls love the pretty dresses and they feel like they're playing dress up. I love that they use natural light whenever possible. They also have a beautiful garden out back for outdoor summer sessions. Check out their gallery and specials for 2009.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Allergy-free baking mixes

Our kids don't get to eat store-bought baked goods because of allergies, and Rowan can't even eat most of the sweets we make at home due to her egg allergy. We do have a few special recipes for her, but they can be time consuming and the ingredients are expensive.

Cherrybrook Kitchen makes cake, cookie and brownie mixes that are free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and egg. Just add water and oil. They also have allergy-free frostings. We're going to use the cake mix for Rowan's birthday in July.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kids Crooked House

Oh my gosh, I am in love with these playhouses by kids crooked house! I can't decide if I want one more for myself, or for my girls. Great designs and great colors. All of the playhouses come with exterior wood siding, a cedar shingle roof, windows, a peep hole, and a kid-sized door with handle! They're not cheap - the standard model is $1949. I guess I need to start saving my pennies.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Healthier Lunch Containers

I'm trying to find ways to replace plastic whenever I can. LunchBots are a healthy alternative to plastic containers for packing lunch to go. Made from the highest quality 18/8 stainless steel, LunchBots do not leach chemicals like plastic does. Eco-friendly and reusable means saving money and the environment. Top rack dishwasher safe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A baby detergent that actually gets clothes clean?

Like most kids with food allergies, our girls have eczema and sensitive skin. We use laundry detergent that is free of fragrances and dyes, and we skip the fabric softener sheets. No 'spring rain' or 'gentle breeze' in our house.

Dropps has come out with a baby version of their pod detergent system. This completely dye-free and enzyme-free formula is super tough on the baby laundry but doesn't irritate your children's skin. Cute packaging, too. (I'm such a sucker for good design.)

I just found out I won a year's supply after entering an online contest. Yeeha! Who knew I could be so excited about laundry detergent?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pantone Luggage Tags

What a great gift for fellow design nerds! Inspired by the Pantone color charts, the new Pantone Luggage Tags come complete with Pantone color name and number. I must have these.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make your own popsicles

I'm always looking for snacks and treats that are allergy free, and not loaded with preservatives and food dyes. These popsicle molds are great because we can make our own, using fresh fruit and fruit juice.

These molds are from a company called Tovolo, which sells at a lot of professional chef stores as well as Amazon. There's a funky shooting star popsicle mold, the nostalgic rocket pop mold and a groovy pop mold. You can also click and download free popsicle recipes.

Find these popsicle molds from Tavolo on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unsafe chemicals in sunscreen

According to the Environmental Working Group, in an investigation of nearly 1,000 brand-name sunscreen products, they found that 4 out of 5 contain chemicals that may pose health hazards or don't adequately protect skin from the sun's damaging rays. Yikes!

Leading brands were the worst offenders: None of Coppertone's 48 sunscreen products met EWG's criteria for safety and effectiveness, and only 1 of 115 products from Banana Boat and Neutrogena, the second- and third-largest manufacturers, are recommended by EWG.

Take a minute or two to check out your sunscreen's rating at cosmeticsdatabase.com. Our dermatologist recommended Blue Lizard Australian Suncream Lotion, Sensitive, SPF 30, and it got a low hazard score of 2. California Baby got really good scores too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Custom BumpyName Labels for sippy cups

I just ordered these custom labels for both girls. They are made of rubber and stretch onto any cup or sippy cup. Rylie drinks soy milk, and Rowan only drinks rice milk, so we're constantly labeling sippy cups with masking tape and a sharpie. These labels are great because they can be used over and over. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, and made from non-toxic materials.

The one thing that bothers me is the typeface. Comic Sans, the worst typeface ever invented. I can't help but be picky about that kind of thing. Maybe I'll ask them if they can change it. They are on sale for $12.00 (4 in a set) at greenbaby.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Potential treatments for food allergies

Another article in USA Today about potential food allergy treatments.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rylie - allergy testing update

Rylie hasn't been tested for allergies since she was 2, so today she went back to Dr. Ghory for skin-prick testing, and to review the results of her RAST (blood) test. Jamie took her and said she was not happy about the skin prick testing on her back, and she was really squirming. They were there for about 2 hours. I was glad to get a break and not have to be the one to take her - thanks Jamie.

The results are the same. Still severely allergic to peanuts, and still moderately allergic to milk and tree nuts. The peanut levels indicate that she will not outgrow this allergy. She will more than likely outgrow the milk allergy, but not anytime soon. We also found out that she is moderately allergic to shellfish.

I was hoping her milk numbers would be lower, but at least it's not life-threatening. Looks like we'll just keep doing what we're doing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good News

Rowan has gained 2 pounds since her last visit to Dr. Ghory. The red circles under her eyes also seem to have diminished. I think the EleCare is really helping!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cute EpiPen Carriers

Allergy Haven has a really cute selection of EpiPen carriers.

Store your EpiPen, Benadryl and other emergency necessities in this epi-pen tote. Tote has capacity to hold 2 EpiPens and an emergency Benadryl dose. Top flap has pocket to hold any additional items like an asthma inhaler. They also have strap packs that older kids can wear around their waist.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nutritionist and EleCare

Because of Rowan's allergies, she is only 15% on the growth chart for height, and 3% for weight. She was always near the 50th percentile, but when I stopped breastfeeding her at 11 months, we couldn't find a formula that she could tolerate. She started drinking rice milk and that's when her growth really slowed down.

We recently met with a nutritionist (Ann Rooney) to make sure we were doing everything we could to help her growth and brain development. Luckily, she has a really healthy diet and eats plenty of fish and vegetables. The nutritionist reviewed what we were doing and told us were doing a phenomenal job (thank goodness!) and she suggested a few new foods, such as cauliflower, beets and papaya.

We also decided that we should try EleCare, a special formula for kids with severe food allergies or GI disorders. It's about $40 a can, but so worth it if it helps Rowan get back on track with growth. I was really discouraged when I read the ingredients, because it contains ascorbic acid, which usually makes Rowan wheeze. Ugh.

I made a call to Dr. Ghory (our allergist) and we decided to go into the office and do a food challenge with it. I was actually pretty nervous because she's such a sensitive kid and we've had quite a few scary reactions this year. They started with small amounts of the formula, and gradually increased it to see if any symptoms came up. We found out that she can tolerate it, and thankfully she chugs it down when its mixed with her rice milk!

We did a food journal for Ann and she's going to calculate the calorie totals for each day. Rowan needs to be getting 960 cal per day to maintain weight, and 1160 per day for catch-up growth.
Hopefully the EleCare will help us get close to these numbers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Allergy Bracelets

I bought a few of these allergy bracelets from Mediband for Rylie to wear to preschool. She has substitute teachers every once in awhile, so it's a good reminder during snack time. They come in small sizes that won't slip off and Rylie really likes wearing them. She also thought it was cool that they were shipped from Australia. When she gets a little older, we'll upgrade to the Medic Alert bracelet, which allows you to display more information.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Researchers Move Closer to Cracking Peanut Allergies

Here's an article about the experimental trials at Duke University. Hopefully this becomes a widely accepted treatment in the next
5 years!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Safe Easter Candy

Finding safe easter candy can be a challenge when your kids have food allergies. Most jelly beans are made in facilities that process peanuts. Thanks to Jennie P. for reminding me that Starburst Jelly Beans are safe for kids with peanut allergies.

Divvies also has a good selection of allergy-free candy. They even have safe chocolate bunny rabbits! All Divvies candy are certified by their manufacturers to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free. It's a little pricey, but it might be worth the splurge so your kids don't feel left out.

Check out their site for safe cookies and cupcakes, too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Red Cross Class - Food Allergy Basics

The Red Cross is offering a FREE class called Food Allergy Basics.

Parents, childcare providers, teachers, and school nurses will learn how to effectively manage food allergies in a childcare setting, school, office or home. Learn how to recognize symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), how to follow an emergency action plan and physician directives, and implement techniques to reduce food allergen exposure. Funding provided by Food Allergy Awareness, Support and Training (FAAST).

Tuesday, March 17
9 am to 12:30 pm
Red Cross Northeast Office, Blue Ash
(513) 792-4000

Monday, March 2, 2009

Peanut allergy - ingredients to avoid

Here is a list of ingredients to avoid for peanut allergies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eating Out - Containers

Whenever we'll be away from home at mealtime, we have to pack food for Rowan. We always seem to have a million tupperware containers shoved into our diaper bag. I just found these adorable Bento Boxes made by Kamio Japan. What a great way to pack food and keep it all together! I ordered the frog and the panda. So cute!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Milk allergy - ingredients to avoid

Here's a list of ingredients to avoid for milk allergies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Little Lark

Little Lark is a company owned and operated by a mom in Portland, Oregon...selling hand-printed baby clothes and letterpressed cards. All of the designs are modern, hip and non-gender specific. I've ordered a few of these as gifts, and the quality is really nice. All onesies are printed on soft organic cotton. Check out all of their designs!

Mix it up at Mealtime

I love the simplicity and cheeriness of this Palette Plate by Skip Hop. It's a feeding set for babies and toddlers. The bottom is skid resistant, and it includes three drop-in bowls that are microwave safe. Translucent covers snap right onto to the bowls for leftovers. BPA-free, phthalate-free, and PVC-free.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Little Pea

Jen Corace is one of my favorite illustrators. I just can't get enough of her stuff! I was so excited when I found Little Pea, illustrated by Jen and written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Little Pea hates eating candy for dinner, but his parents won't let him have his spinach dessert until he cleans his plate. This is one of Rylie's favorite books (and mine too!) Also look for Little Hoot. Ages 2-5

Immunizations and Food Allergens

If your kids have severe food allergies, don't forget to talk to your pediatrician about the ingredients in their vaccines.
The food related ingredients of lactose, gelatin, egg protein and yeast protein may be available in sufficient quantities to cause reactions in susceptible kids. Rowan had to skip the influenza and MMR vaccine due to her egg allergy. She received the DTaP and Hep-A vaccine, which made her wheeze on the way home.
Next time she gets vaccines, we'll have to stay in the office and have her observed to make sure there are no reactions.

Stainless Steel Sippy Cups

I finally bought a stainless steel sippy cup for Rowan. They're free of BPA plastics and they keep liquids cool for 6 hours. With her allergies, it might help to have her cup stand out from the rest so we know she's drinking the right drink! I read reviews on 3 different brands and decided to get the Foogo by Thermos. It was $15.99 at Target. ($12.99 on Amazon) The Safe Sippy is around $16.50 and the Klean Kanteen is around $14. Parents complained about leaking with all 3 brands, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Charley Harper for kids

I've always been a big fan of Charley Harper. Harper was a Cincinnati- based Illustrator best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints and posters. Now you can introduce your kids to his cool illustrations. Check out Charley Harper ABC's. I like it as much as the girls do! Thanks to Sarah V. for sending this our way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good Attitude

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson