Monday, September 24, 2012

An Allergy Scare

As a bit of background information, our son has several severe food allergies including peanuts, milk and eggs.  I was overwhelmed with what that meant at first, but over the last 3 years I feel like I've kind of gotten a handle on the whole allergy thing.  Our little man has had some pretty nasty looking reactions, but they have all been skin related.  I thought that we had dodged a bullet in not having to deal with the anaphylaxis side of food allergies, but I got a pretty big wake-up call.

We had a bit of an adventure yesterday.  It was something I hope I never have to experience again. I am still a little shaken up, but I feel like this is an important topic - at least it is for our family.  I also think it is important for people who do not have the experience of living with severe allergies to understand how serious a food allergy can be.

So here's the story:

We had just gotten home from church and started making dinner. Our son was playing with some toys on the kitchen floor when I heard him clear his throat - then again a few minutes later.  I looked over at him and asked if he needed a drink.

 "No *gasp* I No *gasp-cough* need drink".

 Then a few seconds later it happened again.  This time I looked over and saw the tell-tale scratching behind his ears.  That is a sure sign that he's gotten into food that he shouldn't have. I crouched down by him to see if the hives had started.  The horrible red welts were materializing right in front of me.  With each breath the wheezing gasps were getting worse. We did not have an epi-pen (that is a story for another time) so I jumped up and grabbed a dose of Children's benadryl.  In just that short amount of time the hives had spread down his neck, and his chest was heaving with the effort of trying to breath.

I yelled to my husband who was upstairs and had him come down and administer a priesthood blessing to our little boy.  Our son was blessed that his body would be able to function on it's own until we could get to the hospital and get the care that he needed.  I am so thankful that we had that source of comfort in those very scary couple of minutes.

We frantically grabbed our keys and headed for the door. Meanwhile the little man was terrified and trying to cry out between wheezes.

 "No *gasp* leave *Wheeze* me! *cough*"

Thankfully the hospital is about a 2 minute drive from our house.  We decided we could get there faster than an ambulance could come to our house so I held him on my lap as we drove the couple blocks to the hospital.  I don't think you can truly appreciate how scary food allergies are until you have held your terrified child on your lap as they gasp for air.  There is an indescribable heaviness that settles in your chest as you try to fight your own panic and keep your little one calm.

In just the 2 minutes that it took to reach the hospital our boy could no longer talk.  His voice came out in a wheezy whisper that you couldn't understand.  I rushed into the ER while my husband parked the car.  I felt rude interrupting the women at the front desk, but I knew that with how quickly he was deteriorating that the little guy needed to get some care as soon as possible.  They rushed us into triage and immediately back into the ER.  The nurses had an IV going in a few minutes and gave him antihistamines and steroids to relax his airway and take care of the hives.

At that point we could start to relax a little.  I admit that for a while my eyes were glued to the monitor that showed his oxygen saturation.  Thankfully, his levels stayed well within normal limits, but it did send my heart racing every time that number changed - especially while it was during a wheezing or coughing spell.  The tightness in my own chest would grip tighter and tighter as the numbers counted down and I would slowly relax as they came back up to normal.

While we were waiting to be released from the hospital we tried to figure out what our little guy could have eaten.  We found out that his regular caretaker at church was not there and that the substitute, unaware of his allergies, had given him some goldfish crackers that contain milk.  It would have had to been quite a delayed reaction, but that is the only thing we could think of that would have caused such serious symptoms.

In about an hour since we arrived at the hospital the hives had faded away and the little man was in a fitful sleep.  In a little more than 2 hours we we getting ready to go home.  By the time we got home we had a little boy who was tired and grumpy and had nothing on his mind but chicken nuggets.

This morning he is just my normal little monster - He's jumping off the furniture and making more messes than I can keep up with.  but do you know what?  Being worried that you might not bring your baby home has a way of putting things in perspective.  I think I'll worry a little less about the unimportant things and spend a little more time on the things that truly matter.

So what did I take away from this experience?

  • An Epi-Pen!  I am so thankful that we have that option now.  I never want to feel so helpless again.  I think that having an epi-pen will help me feel a little more empowered and in control if something like this ever happens again.
  • I learned to ACT QUICKLY.  I am usually the kind of person that puts off going to the doctor.  If I can take care of something at home, that's what I do - But breathing problems are nothing to mess around with.  Our little guy went from absolutely no symptoms to not being able to talk in less than 15 minutes.  It is better to be safe than sorry.  If someone shows symptoms of anaphylaxis ACT IMMEDIATELY.  Those few minutes could be the difference between life and death.  Don't take chances.
  • NEVER assume that people know about the allergies your child has even if you've told them before.  It is so much better to remind or explain to someone about your child's allergies than to risk their well-being or even their life.  TALK TO PEOPLE.  Let them know what is going on, and what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. Post signs in day cares, for babysitters, etc.  I learned that you will never regret doing too much, but it is very possible that doing too little could have very serious consequences. Like an allergy awareness group in Austrailia says "Complacency Kills"
  • I was reminded how thankful I am to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life.  I am thankful for my knowledge that our family will be together forever.  I am thankful for the testimony I have that our Heavenly Father knows and loves us - that I can trust that whatever happens is meant to help us and make us grow - Even if it is a very trying and difficult experience.
  • I realized how grateful I am that I have a husband who can act in the name of our Savior to bless his family and that he is willing and worthy to exercise that power.  I truly believe that the priesthood blessing that our boy received kept him from more serious consequences.  
  • I am thankful for friends and family who are understanding and willing to support our family - whether it is just keeping us in their prayers, or making a special effort to keep our little guy safe while still making him feel included.  We greatly appreciate everyone's efforts.
  • I am also thankful for modern medicine. I think we take it for granted sometimes.  It really is a blessing that we have so many amazing medicines and technologies available to us. I am also thankful to the doctors and nurses that take care of us.  I think that ER doctors and nurses have an especially thankless job.  The people that they care for are usually just focused on surviving, and their friends and family are sick with worry.  I think many times they become the victims of our worry and frustrations.  Next time you get a chance please let your doctors and nurses know that you are grateful for the services that they provide.  
  • Our little guy was extremely blessed/lucky.  I feel sorry for him and even sometimes for myself, but   the truth is that many children have even more severe allergies than him.  Now that I've had a little taste of what that means, my heart goes out to those parents.  I know what it is like to panic every time you hear your child clear their throat.  I know what it's like to check on your kid several times a night to make sure they are still breathing.  I know what it's like to have fear grip your heart when you leave your child with a babysitter because you know you won't be there if he has a reaction. And I know all those worries are exhausting.  Please, if you know someone with a food allergy do all you can to accommodate them.  I know that it is inconvenient, but I also know how much it means to the parent of an allergic child when someone makes an effort to understand and accommodate your child.

That was a long post.  I apologize, but this acts as my journal too, so I wanted to be pretty detailed.  Hopefully the next post is a little 'lighter'.  I am on the verge of a no-bake cookie breakthrough that will knock your socks off.  You will want to check back soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

I am back from a rather lengthy blogging hiatus. I have been incredibly lazy busy doing more important things. Truth is, I have done several crafts and recipes with the intention of blogging about it but nothing turned out. And when I say nothing I mean NOTHING.  Not a dang thing!  So I haven't blogged for a while....but here I am because I finally found a recipe I really liked.  Yay!

This year our garden is a little zucchini heavy.  Luckily, the drought is making for not so many zucchinis as I expected we would have.  My son helped my hubby pick things from the garden and then left several zucchini out on the porch to shrivel in the 104 degree sun.  So what do you do with slightly shriveled, sun baked zucchinis?  You make a delicious looking lemon zucchini bread that you found on pinterest!

 I kind of adapted the recipe and made it my own.  The inspiration recipe doesn't have poppy seeds, but I had some that needed used, and I just think they add a little something. The original recipe can be found here at Nancy Creative.  Sorry for the lame picture.  I only snapped a test shot before the camera battery that's what you get.

2 cups Flour
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2/3 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Applesauce
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Soymilk ( or Almond)
3 Tbs. Lemon juice
4 Tsp. Poppy Seeds
1 Cup Grated Zucchini ( I don't like the stringiness of grated zucchini, so i took my grated stuff and ran it through the food processor as well.  That way you can hide it better from picky eaters too!)

1 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Tbs. Lemon Juice

Mix sugar with applesauce, oil, soy milk and lemon juice.  Add dry ingredients.  Fold in poppy seeds and zucchini.  Bake batter in a large bread pan at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.  While the bread is cooling mix the glaze and spoon over top of the loaf.

*Makes 1 loaf

This bread is an amazingly moist,smooth, light, almost melt in your mouth piece of  yummy goodness! I don't think you'll be disappointed. Please give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some things I learned in Missouri

Okay...I know that this isn't going to be crafty, but I just needed to share what an awesome weekend we had and some of the things I learned.  Sadly, my pictures are on my hubby's computer, so I had to use some generic ones.  

This weekend we packed up the car and made the 6-ish hour drive to Kansas City, MO.  We wanted our son to have a chance to see inside a temple and feel the spirit there not to mention we love visiting the temple too!  Also, this was going to be our best chance to see some LDS church history sites before we move back west.  

I was a little apprehensive about making these church history stops because Missouri really was kind of a difficult and sometimes downright horrible time for many of the early members of the time.  I was worried that we would get there and I would just feel....sad.   I am happy to report that this whole weekend was the OPPOSITE of sad.  I can't tell you how many times I so strongly felt the love that Heavenly Father has for all of his children.  My testimony of his love for us was continually reaffirmed and strengthened throughout the whole weekend.  I have such a hard time putting my testimony into words, but I just need to share 3 quick experiences.  

#1.  We went to the Kansas City temple open house.  For those of you who have never been to one, you begin the tour in a meetinghouse adjacent to the temple where they show a quick video that explains the history and purposes of temples spanning back to old testament times.  So there I was sitting and waiting for the video to start and looking at a picture of the temple that they had up on the screen.  I was sitting there holding hands with my love and holding our precious little boy on my lap.....and I know this sounds sappy, but I felt like I was home.  I had a very strong assurance that God loves us and wants us to be happy - and that happiness comes from having your family with you forever.  I am so thankful that we have been sealed together in the temple so that I can have my family with me forever.  What an awesome blessing!  

#2.  After the tour of the temple we drove over to the Historic Liberty Jail, where again, the spirit taught me in an unexpected way.  For those who have never been there, or don't know the history, here's a quick summary of what happened there.  Joseph Smith along with 5 other church and militia leaders were imprisoned there during the winter of 1838-39.  They survived a long bitter winter with basically nothing to protect them.  They suffered from sickness and hunger.  They were held in the basement, a tiny room that was not tall enough for most men to stand in upright.  This would have been suffering enough - now imagine this - you are in this situation, charged with treason and have no idea when you will be released, you know there has been an official order by the governor to exterminate your people or drive them from the state, Most of what you hear is the prison guards boasting of how they have burned homes, raped the women and beat or shot anyone who opposed them. Can you imagine how sick with worry those men must have been for their families and friends?  I cannot begin to imagine how hard it was for those men, not just to be stuck in the jail, but unable to be with their families during that difficult time - not knowing what had happened to them.   Can you see why I was worried that I would feel sad?

So as part of the tour the lights go dark and some of the historical accounts are played.  The sweet sister missionary that led the tour asked if our son would be okay with the lights going off.  We told her it would be fine, but as soon as the lights went down there was a terrified scream.  I took our son over to a place with a little more light, but he was terrified and crying.  He had his arms wrapped tight around my neck and was saying over and over "No like it. No like it.  Go home now. Want to go home".  I was trying my best to help him understand that this part of the tour would be over soon.  That in just a few minutes the lights would turn back on and we could leave.  I finally had him calmed down to a quiet whimper.  

And as I was standing there rocking my little boy and assuring him that I would be there with him to help him through it, a familiar scripture began playing over the loudspeaker.

" O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
  How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?"
And then came God's answer...
"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes".                  
Doctrine & Covenants 121:1-2,7-8
It was then that I made the connection between the experience I was having with my son and I had a better understanding of why God lets us suffer sometimes.  I could just hear a sad, scared little boy in that prayer.  Wasn't he saying the same thing that my little boy did?  "I'm scared. I don't like this. I just want to leave this place and go home".  But just like I knew that in a few minutes the lights would turn on and that part of the tour that was terrifying and miserable for my son would be over, God lets us struggle through some very difficult experiences.  We may feel, as Joseph Smith did, that our trials are more than we can handle.  We may even feel that God has abandoned us.  But the spirit testified very strongly to me that just as I was there with my son, giving him a hug and whispering words of comfort in his ear, that God was with Joseph Smith and the others every moment in that prison - and he will be with us as we experience trials in our lives.  We still have to go through those trials, but the Lord will be there with us every step of the way.
So my worries about Liberty Jail being a sad, depressing place were unnecessary.  I strongly encourage anyone who gets a chance to go visit.  It really is a sacred place where you will feel the love that God has for all of his children.
#3.  On the way back home we made a stop at the Temple Lot in Far West, Missouri.  I wasn't super excited about going because I knew that it is just a field with a fence around it.  But I can safely say that this was my favorite place we went to visit.  There is a special spirit in that place that I don't quite know how to somehow just know that it is holy ground.  It is the most peaceful spot I have ever been in.  In section 115 of the Doctrine & Covenants it describes that place as consecrated, holy ground, a place of refuge and safety - and I can tell you that it really is.  
I LOVED the few minutes that we spent there.  I loved sitting and soaking in the sun and listening to the birds.  I loved looking around and seeing nothing but miles of God's creations.  I have a hard time imagining a more heavenly experience than sitting and enjoying that beautiful, sacred place with my family.

So that was a super long post....Sorry.  I just had such an awesome time that I felt like I needed to talk about it.  If you ever get a chance PLEASE go visit these places.  It really was an incredible experience.

Monday, April 2, 2012

An Allergy Idea

Can I start by saying I need a break.  I mean I NEED a chance to go on a date with the hubby and set aside the 'mommy-ness' for a few hours.  But I just don't feel like we can go out.  Why? Ok.  A little background. Our son has a few severe food allergies - not life threatening, but bad enough to be 'bad' (if that makes sense).  In descending order of severity: Peanuts, Milk, Egg Yolk, Egg White,Beans (Not soy or green),  Beef, Tobacco (The last one isn't an issue - we don't use tobacco at all...we just really try to avoid any 'smoking' areas).  Most people we know are aware of the allergies, but I can't tell you how many times I have had a conversation similar to this one:

Friend/acquaintance/family member/babysitter: We should get something to eat.  What would 'J' like?

Me: (I explain his allergies again just as a refresher) Anything without that stuff.

Other Person: Oh, Okay.  Well how'bout we go to (insert restaurant).  It's really good, and 'J' can have some Mac-n-cheese.

Me:  Well he's allergic to milk, so that won't work. I'm sure we could find something...

Other person: Oh, That's right.  Well I think they have grilled cheese sandwiches too.

Me: Sorry. Once again, the cheese.

Other person: Wow.  I guess your right.  Well I know of this good Italian restaurant and then 'J' could have some pizza

Me:  Well, the pizza has cheese, and we don't know what goes into the crust...

Other Person:  My goodness!  What do you feed that child? How about a fast food place?  we could go to McDonalds and he could get a cheeseburger.

Me:  Cheeseburger won't work (beef & cheese), but he does really like chicken nuggets

Other person: Oh thank goodness!  Let's go to McDonald's!

Yes...I am sad to say that much of what we spend on eating out goes to McDonald's chicken nuggets, because it is one of the few things that the little guy can actually eat at restaurants.  But anyway...that is kind of how things play out.  It varies a little.  It is especially awkward/uncomfortable when you have that type of conversation when someone is inviting you to their home for dinner.  I hope it doesn't offend anyone, but I have found that it's easier to just pack 'J' something in that situation so you don't make your host/hostess crazy buying specialty foods and changing their recipes.

 I also don't want anyone who has had a similar conversation with me to be offended.  I know how hard it is to keep track of all of that.  It has taken me a long time to adjust and even still I catch myself calling 'J' over to share a bite of my yogurt or ice cream.  It is just hard to adjust.

Anyway...that is the long explanation about why I'm afraid to go out on a date and leave Josh with a babysitter.  I can just see a sweet little 13 year old girl forgetting about all those different things and making a dinner or snack that happens to have those allergens....then she would be dealing with an itchy-hivey-vomiting-diarrhea-wheezy-grumpy mess of a little boy.  And I just don't want that to happen to anyone.

I also don't want 'J' when he is a little older getting into something that he shouldn't.  You can't really expect a preschool aged boy to sit and look through the ingredients for allergens before he eats.

So here was the idea that I came up with.  I got some white dot stickers and ran a red marker over them.  There's a pack of 300-something at the dollar store.  I went ahead and took the time to color them because I didn't want all of the different colors that came in the variety pack.

I had 'J' help me put stickers on everything in our fridge/cupboard that would make him sick.  I hope it is sinking in...I think it is already.  If you ask him what the red stickers mean he says "Make you sick!"

 I figure that if we put dots onto everything that 'J' can't have, then when we have someone babysit we can just say "Don't give him anything with the red dot on it"  I guess we'll see how it goes....Any better ideas? Please weigh in!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jute Wrapped Easter Eggs

It's time to get ready for Easter!  I love this time of year.  Even though our winter wasn't bad, it is a relief to see the grass turn green and the flowers bloom. So I decided to dress up some extra Easter eggs I had lying around.  I had been seeing some cute jute-wrapped eggs on pinterest like I thought I'd try it.  

Once again...I need crafts that are next to impossible to mess up, and these fit the bill.  Other great part?  They were FREE.  I had everything I needed already at home!  Yay!

What you will need:

-Plastic Easter Eggs (I used 8)
-Glue gun (low-temp is better because your fingers touch the glue a lot)
-Jute twine
-Paint (whatever colors you want)
- White spray paint (Maybe...If your project turns out like mine)

So here's the step-by step:

1. wrap jute on itself several times to get started

2.  Add a dot of glue to the egg.  (At first I started on the bottom of the eggs, but I found they were more interesting if you just pick a random spot!)

3.  Add your starting wrap and then keep going. Continue wrapping and adding glue.

4.  Continue wrapping-making sure that no egg is showing underneath the string.

5.  Clip the string

6.  Finish wrapping and glue down the ends

The finished product looks something like this: 

 I thought that these eggs were beautiful, but they weren't as cheerful or festive as I wanted so I decided to paint.  I was too lazy to go the store for the right colors, so I made-do with what I had and mixed my own.  DON'T DO THAT.  It wasn't too bad, but it would be way less hassle to just have the right color to begin with. Better yet, use spray paint if you have it.

Here's the colors I used:

 I had them all done and put them in a bowl - but I just wasn't happy with them.  In fact, I think I can safely say that I hated them. Sad day!  Not what I wanted!  The colors dried a lot darker than I thought they would. I was just about to throw them away (A plus to doing free projects - You're not tied to them) when I remembered that I had an almost empty can of white spray paint I decided to try one more thing.

I hit them all with just a light dusting of white paint.  Thankfully, I really liked the results!  The white paint muted the colors and made them more 'Easter-y' and it also brought out the texture of the jute again, which was kind of lost in the paint.

Finally - SUCCESS!!

So the moral of this story is to be patient and wait for the actual colors you want to use instead of improvising.   But even with the little paint-color hiccup I think this project turned out well.

Another good thing is that this project is easy to personalize.  You can leave the jute it's natural color, or you can paint them however bright or muted you want.  It might also be fun to experiment with patterns!

So there you have it.  A quick, easy, FREE project that can be adapted to fit your individual tastes.

"Purdy-neat, huh?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vinegar + Color + Baking Soda = Fizzy Fun

I was perusing pinterest this morning and came across an ingeniously simple idea from this pin.  Why didn't I think of that?!? It was so easy and inexpensive - not to mention my son had an absolute ball!  He saw me loading the pictures for this post and said "FUN! FUN!"

So here's what you do.  It's pretty self explanatory, and I don't think it's possible to mess this up....but here's the play-by-play anyway.

You will Need:
White Vinegar, Small dishes (I used custard cups), food coloring, baking soda, medicine dropper
 The Setup:

I just put a little vinegar in each dish.  Then we chose our colors - I did 4 drops of each.  I covered the bottom of an 8x8 pan with the soda
 Have at it!
The Beginning

Adding a few more colors
 Finishing up:
We had a grand finale at the end where we dumped the rest of the vinegar in the pan all at the same time.  J's reaction was (with a look of awe and wonder) "oh, Nice!"
J had a great time 'drawing' in the sludge at the bottom.  See?  The fun never stops!  He could have played like that forever, but I cut the fun short.  I seem to have a sensitivity to vinegar, and I was getting pretty itchy!

So that was our morning.  A cheap, easy, super fun activity that could entertain kids of all ages, and even the adults that are young at heart!

"purdy neat, huh?"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Allergy Friendly Homemade Oreos

Can I just start by saying that there is something special about oreos. They just have a special way of making a bad day good and a good day better.  I L-O-V-E oreos.  Sadly, I'm too cheap to buy the real ones, and the store brand just aren't the same.   

So last night we were trying to reach an agreement on a family-home-evening treat.  We were having trouble agreeing on something until we saw a recipe for homemade oreos. Immediate concurrence that those would be great.  Now....I just had to figure out how to adapt them to fit our son's food allergies.....

OH HAPPY DAY!  The only thing I needed to replace was one little egg.  I can do that!  

So Here's what we came up with.  I don't know who to give credit to for the original recipe because every recipe I looked at was exactly the same.  So kudos and props to whoever came up with these oh-so-delicious-even-better-than-the-real-thing cookies. YUM!

Allergy Friendly Homemade Oreos

1 1/4 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
10 Tbs. (1 stick +2 TBS) *Dairy Free margarine
1 1/2 tsp. *Egg replacer + 2 TBS Water

1/4 Cup Dairy Free Margarine
1/4 Cup Shortening
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla

 Mix egg replacer & water in a small bowl. Combine dry ingredients. Add egg replacer mixture and margarine to the dry mixture.  Mix until a firm dough forms.  Form dough into small balls (About a tsp.) & place on a cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with the back of a spoon.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 6 mins.  Move to a wire rack & let cool.  
When the cookies are cool, pair cookies by size.   Pipe Frosting onto cookies and smoosh together. ENJOY!

*For this recipe I used bestlife buttery spread and Ener-g Egg Replacer

I had another idea for these cookies, but I got vetoed.  I really really love mint oreos.  I wanted to put a little mint extract into the filling and tint it green, but my family out-voted me.  If anybody tries it, snap a picture and tell me how it goes.  I thought that sounded delicious.

I was VERY impressed with how these turned out.  Usually I like the allergy friendly stuff we make, but I can tell that we're missing out on the 'real' ingredients.  With these cookies you couldn't tell at all! They are even better than real oreos! We enjoyed ours with a mug of milk.

A kitchen success!  

"Purdy-Neat, huh?"