Best Moments of 2011

February  We made the trip to Baltimore to see Dr. Wood, though not much had changed.  We found out dear son’s tummy aches after soup were because of soy protein isolate or soy protein concentrate.  Very powerful form of soy protein, even if it is a last ingredient.  Thank you Dr. Wood!  You are always worth the trip!

March It was super NOT to have to make cupcakes for the end of the season.  Joy of Cupcakes baked basketball cupcakes and delivered them fresh right before the last game.  The team cupcakes had tiny basketballs made of icing – of course the boys ate them first!  Not a single icing ball was thrown at a teammate.

April   Our boy had some of his best moments of 2011 on a tour of Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, the home of the Phillies.  He sat in the dugout and posed in the press room.  Awesome!  We hope some day he can see a game in person.  Phillies fans, keep plugging for an allergy free seating area.

May  The baseball practices got much longer this year as son moved into AAA Little League.  We are so grateful to all his coaches.  They were willing to learn the Epipen, to watch out for any reactions, to treat him like all the other boys who just get dropped off for practice.  Special thanks to Coach Leo, Coach Tony, Coach Paul and Coach Darrell – you are helping our son grow into a responsible young man.

June   Both kids did a great job cooking this summer.  Our daughter made beautiful breakfasts, with eggs and fruit and a taste of chocolate too.  Son’s specialty is his fresh fruit designs.  We were very proud when he served this meal of hot dogs, corn and fruit salad.

July Nationals park on a summer afternoon, best friends, baseball, peanut free area – all added up to a fun day.  It went into extra innings and I don’t remember who won.  Who cares?  A great day.


It is easy to be negative.  The Halloween candy is already out in all the stores and most of it is not safe for dear son.  A young friend recently outgrew his peanut allergy.  We are so glad for him and his family.  But our son seems to be picking up new allergies – not outgrowing anything.

But last week a busy single dad took the time to find an ice cream snack made in a nut free facility – a product I had never seen locally.  A mom on the team brought grapes to the game from her peanut-free home.  A new Sunday School teacher emailed us before the first class to ask about safe snacks.  Son’s peanut free table was overflowing with friends even the first day of school.

Is a peanut allergy irritating to live with?  Yes!  But this week we feel very blessed for the wonderful folks in our lives.  I hope your first couple weeks of school have gone well also.

Find lots more allergy aware signs at


Starting School with a Food Allergy: Decisions

A few years ago, I wrote a children’s book “Starting School with a Food Allergy:  Tips for a Peanut Allergic Kid.” It covers the rules a boy named Ricky needs to follow to keep himself safe at school.  Ricky will eat his own food from home and will sit with friends eating safe lunches.  Ricky will learn to read and will love recess!

My kids are annoyed with all the back-to-school sales and ads.  But it is that time!  If you are sending a food allergic child to school for the first time, this can be a very busy stressful time for you!  Here are some important decisions you need to make:

  • Who can provide my child with food?
  • Does my child need an allergy free table?
  • Is my child mature enough to tell a teacher if he or she feels sick?

Who can provide my child with food?

Along with peanuts and tree nuts, our son has some less common allergies to chick peas, lentils and other foods.  At home we avoid any foods that may contain traces of peanut or tree nuts.  We decided it was safest for him to only eat food from home while at school.  Even if a teacher or cafeteria lady or friend thought the food was safe, it was not allowed.

Every child with food allergies has a unique situation.  Research the cafeteria food.  Decide now what is right for your child this year, and then be consistent with your child, the teachers and the cafeteria workers.

Does my child need an allergy free table?

This again depends on your child’s situation.  My son’s friends yelled with their mouths full, especially in K and 1st grade.  Sitting next to them was interesting!  At times I had to swab off my face.  So yes, we did and still do have a peanut free table.

Unfortunately, a severe milk or egg allergy can be more isolating than nut allergies.  Some schools have a dedicated desk that is covered, except when the specific food allergic child goes to lunch.  The child uncovers the desk and pulls it up to the main table.

Plan to go to lunch several times that first week of school.  You need to see for yourself how things are going.  This is easier and more reliable than trying to extract info from your child after a long day.  Is your cafeteria plan working?  The ideal situation is for your child to be safe and not socially isolated.

Is my child mature enough to tell a teacher if he or she feels sick?

Accidents happen.  Reactions occur.  Your child needs to tell an adult if they feel unwell.  Encourage your child to speak up.  If they have their hand up to go potty, they can wait to be called on.  If they feel symptoms of an allergic reaction, they should be able to get immediate attention from a teacher or aide.  They don’t need to sit and wait to be called on.  Give them permission to break the regular rules and get out of their seat to ask for help.

More to come soon on Kindergarten kisses, cafeteria trash cans and classroom helper jobs!

The Surprise Hamster: Conflict Resolution at School

Many years ago, dear son went to a peanut free preschool.  He had a wonderful classroom with lots of toys and bins and circle times.  We went to the preschool orientation and were very satisfied with his experienced teachers.  They knew about food allergies and had been peanut free for several years.

Dear son was absent one day in the fall.  I was surprised to see a hamster in the room the next school day.  Yes, that was the new class pet.  I was concerned because most hamster food contains nuts.  The lead teacher was resistant – she was sure the hamster food didn’t have nuts in it.  I checked the food and it did have tree nuts and peanut dust as an ingredient.

The teacher would not consider moving the hamster to another classroom.  She became defensive.  The hamster had to eat, dear son would not be feeding the hamster, none of the children would ever touch the hamster or its cage.  Of course these promises could not be kept – the kids would want to feed the hamster and play with the hamster and clean out the hamster’s cage.

I was furious.  The promise of a peanut-free environment was being ignored.  I felt that my son was not safe in his classroom any longer.  I was treated as a crazy, over-protective, paranoid mom.

This is the point where I should have gone to the director.  Instead, I complained to my friends.  I whined to my dear patient husband.  I went to PetSmart and found some hamster food that did not have tree nuts or peanuts as an ingredient.

If I could have a “do-over”, I would have requested an immediate meeting with the teacher and the director.  We would have had a decent chance of working out a solution to the hamster problem that didn’t put the burden all on me.  I could have educated the school better as to what “peanut-free” really means.