Happy 10th Birthday to The Food Allergy Mom Blog

Today is a special occasion! It marks ten years of blogging for The Food Allergy Mom.

For ten years I have sat at my computer staring down a blank cursor in hopes the words will flow so I can show another parent on this same food allergy journey that they are not alone and that things aren’t as bleak as they may seem on the day your child gets a diagnosis and you walk out of that office with a prescription for an epinephrine injector.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

And because I know it’s impossible to get anywhere all on your own, it is so important for me to take today’s blog post to thank some of the people who have been an integral part of my blogging journey:

Stephanie Sorkin, Author. My friend, I am so thankful for you for entrusting me with Nutley, The Nut-Free Squirrel. That book has been loved well and shared often with family, friends, and classmates. Most of all, thank you for always cheering me on and being such a positive influence.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH. I had the good fortune of crossing paths with Dr. Ruchi Gupta several times over the years and I can tell you it is always a pleasure. As a board certified pediatrician and health researcher, Dr. Gupta works tirelessly to develop policies dealing with pediatric asthma and food allergies. She is intelligent, relatable, calming, and has a huge heart for what she does and the people she helps. Her contributions to the study of food allergy and asthma have positively impacted thousands of lives, including mine and my son’s.

Sloane Miller, Author and Food Allergy Advocate. I’ve met this amazing lady in person and her determination to not let food allergies define her or hinder how she lives life is contagious. As the mom of a young child, I read her book Allergic Girl and saw (maybe for the first time) an individual with food allergies who still lived her life well. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is a reminder that food allergies is not who we are, it is just a part of the journey. Her can-do attitude has inspired me and encouraged me to want the same for my son and my readers.

Food Allergy Research & Education. Back when I began this journey they were known as FAAN, but regardless of the name change, FARE has always been an excellent resource for me. It is THE place to start when you or a child is diagnosed. Thank you for being a part of the very first steps of mine and my son’s journey just as you still are today.

My son’s allergist. I remember walking into his office like it was yesterday. I don’t remember much of what happened that day out of the sheer shock of the diagnosis and fear of all that I had to quickly learn. What I DO remember is the calm and steady hand he offered when things were tough and the way he valued and listened to me as a parent. He has cheered me on every step of the way with my blog and at each appointment he has a new topic for me to consider writing about.

H-E-B. In Texas, H-E-B is by far my favorite grocery store. Not only have they been a friend to my community during times of great hardship, they carry a variety of products safe for me and my son. I actually saw our local H-E-B representative, Scott McClelland, in the store once and quickly introduced myself before going on to shop. Almost a half hour later, he chased me down in the store to personally hand me some complimentary, safe cookies he thought I would enjoy…on the house. I was stunned at his kindness and care for a customer he did not know. Several years later, Scott and H-E-B were kind enough to sponsor me for participation in several food allergy and gluten-free fests. I will be forever grateful for that support. I am an H-E-B shopper for life.

My readers. Without you, my blog is just words on a page floating around the internet. I have loved meeting you in person, reading your emails, and reading your comments. I read every email and comment I receive. Each one of them have made me a part of who I am as a blogger today. For that, I thank you!

My son. He was diagnosed almost sixteen years ago and he continues to amaze me every single day. He has taken his food allergy and asthma journey in stride, careful to never let it keep him from doing the things he loves. He’s managed it all while being part of middle school and high school sports teams, Boy Scouts, camping trips, vacations, and so so much more. I’m honored to be his mom and am so proud of him. I’m especially grateful to him for letting me write and share about so many of our experiences so we can help others.

I hope that whether you have food allergies or are the caregiver of a child with food allergies, you find some people along the way that build you up and support you the way these people have for me. Let me be the first…you are not alone and you CAN do this.

Blessings, friends! And thanks for indulging me today with a celebration and some special thank you’s.


Winter Break Back To School Checklist

The school year always passes at such a frenetic pace, I treasure the winter break with my family when school, work, and extracurricular obligations are minimized.  Those days are often filled with gingerbread houses, looking at Christmas lights, and so much joy!

Now lo and behold, in nearly the blink of an eye, we are one weekend away from going back to school.  I guess it’s true what they say…time flies when you’re having fun.

So as the first day of the spring semester of school approaches, it’s a great time to do a mid-year food allergy/asthma evaluation.

Applegate Half Time Lunches (1)

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions:

CHECK EXPIRATION DATES     The start of a new year is a great time to check the expiration dates…on everything.  This means prescription and over the counter medications that are at home, school, daycare, grandparents’ house, etc.

REFILL EXPIRED MEDICATIONS     Now that you’ve checked in to see which of your family’s current medications are expired or close to being out of date, it’s time to have them refilled.  Be advised that sometimes it takes a call or visit to your doctor in order to obtain a refill and this process could take several days depending on if you need to see the doctor before a prescription can be renewed.

REFILL THE ALLERGY-SAFE GOODY BOX     I always kept a a clear tupperware of safe treats for my son in his teacher’s classroom for impromptu preschool or elementary school celebrations.  If you have a similar goody box or bag that is stored at school or elsewhere, be sure to check the expiration dates on the products inside and send in new safe treats if need be.

RESTOCK THE LUNCH STATION     My kids both pack their lunches for school, but they can’t do what they need to do unless I have all the food stocked and ready to go.  As you make the next grocery list, think back to what your kids regularly packed in their school lunches, add it to the list, and make sure your pantry and fridge are stocked with the necessities and some safe treats too.

TOUCH BASE WITH THE SCHOOL    Take a few minutes to send a short and to the point email to your child’s school nurse and teachers to thank them for what they do to keep your child safe each day and ask if there is anything you can do to support them.

REEVALUATE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES     Is your son or daughter changing sports this semester?  Set an appointment to meet with your child’s new coach or instructor and be sure to have an updated emergency action plan ready to go for your meeting.  If appropriate, it might be helpful to include your child in this meeting so that he or she can participate in this discussion and understand their role as well as the instructor’s.

SHOW THE LOVE     Sometimes it is so easy for us to get wrapped up in all the paperwork and details of keeping a child safe at school, that it can be easy to miss the most important part…love.  No matter their age, give your child a big bear hug and let them know how much you love them.

Personally, I like to complete my checklist early, so I can savor the last few days of winter break and maybe spend a few more days in denial that homework, tests, sports, and clubs are about to get real!

And just maybe I’ll starting counting down the days until spring break…


Safety Lessons From Hurricane Harvey Natural Disaster

We are almost a week post-Hurricane Harvey here in Houston and life is anything but normal.

I haven’t seen a national newscast in more than a week, so I don’t know what is being said and shown, but here’s a window into what is happening in my Houston neighborhood.

Homes in all directions are standing but eerily bare.  The downstairs, and sometimes upstairs, framework of the house is all that is left inside after wet sheetrock, insulation, wooden floors, cabinets, and more have been quickly removed.  Piles of trash (destroyed furniture, insulation, tile, etc.) so fully line the curbs of houses, the structures themselves are hard to see.  A stench of mold, water, sweat, and tears permeates the neighborhood…literally.

But in front of those piles of trash, the streets are lined with bumper-to-bumper cars of friends and neighbors that are helping each other.  Facebook is inundated with people asking who still needs help with their houses or who could use some cold water or cleaning supplies.  Neighbors and groups from different states are driving in and banding together to prepare and deliver lunches.  Hot meals are being delivered for free to those hardest hit and the people who are helping them.  Families are reaching out to house complete strangers because they need to feel safe and have nowhere to go…and won’t for months.  Continue reading

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Gives Back

Are you new to the world of asthma and food allergies?  Not sure where to turn for credible and reliable information?  Maybe I can help.

There are several organizations I follow faithfully online and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is one of them.  This is an organization that offers so much to the asthma and allergy communities, that I want to give you a quick snapshot of the organization so you can check them out on your own and decide if the organization is one you would like to connect with.  Continue reading