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


But Dr. Wood Doesn’t Know Baseball

The “Baseball Welcomes Allergic Fans” article was published in the NY Times last August.  It covers the still-growing trend of peanut free sections at Major League Baseball games.  While it brings welcome attention to the tricky question of taking peanut allergic kids to baseball games, it also perpetuates the myth that food allergy parents are paranoid and overprotective.

In the write-up, Dr. Wood states that “watching a game in an outdoor ballpark posed no significant threat to peanut-allergic children or adults” and that peanut free sections are a “marketing technique.”  Now we love Dr. Wood.  He is our son’s allergist.  But I don’t think he has spent much time recently with active peanut-allergic kids at a ballpark.

Here’s our time at the ballpark when son was younger.

Son brings his ball and glove.  He drops the ball.  He picks it up.  He visits the rest room.  He touches everything.  He walks back to his seat.  He drops the ball again.  It rolls down the aisle.  He plays with the seat.  He stares at the people behind us.   He pokes his friend.  He trips over the seat.  He drops his safe candy.  He wants to still eat it.  He hugs the mascot.  He eats more safe candy. He drops the ball again.

Unless you have reserved a whole block of seats for your group of food allergy friends, somewhere in this mess someone will be eating peanuts and dropping the peanut shells on the ground.

Here are some techniques that do NOT work to keep a peanut allergic kid safe and happy at the ballgame:

  1. Get active son to promise to stay in his seat.  Nag him when he doesn’t.  Keep nagging until son stays in his seat or husband wants to go home.
  2. Ask strangers not to eat peanuts around your child.  This annoys strangers.
  3. Accept that strangers love peanuts.  Ask strangers not to throw peanut shells on the ground.  This also annoys strangers.
  4. Accept kid is active and people love peanuts.  Be super mom with lots of wipes.  Wipe, wipe, wipe.  This annoys husband, kids and strangers.  Mom goes crazy.

We took our 5 year old to a minor league game a few years ago.  It was an uncrowded day with plenty of empty areas; we could scoot away from any peanut eaters.  The game went really well.  On the way out, dear son’s eye started swelling up.  We think he must have touched a baseball with peanut residue and then rubbed his eye.  He was fine with Benadryl but it wasn’t the way we wanted to end our evening.

Please, Dr. Wood, don’t think that peanut free sections are just a marketing technique!  It’s the only way our family will attend a MLB game.  Yes, I do already have our peanut free tickets for July.


How Do You Decide? Home with Sister

We have two very responsible kids, if I say so myself! Our dear daughter is graduating from 6th grade this year. Our dear son (with the food allergies) is an assertive nine year old. Daughter has become more independent this year especially, encouraged by our son’s “endless” sports activities. Now that she has a cell phone, she is going on 18!

So… the question has come up whether daughter can watch dear son so I don’t have to “drag them along” on boring errands. This is a hard one to answer. I think they are very responsible for their ages. They can cook with the toaster oven and the microwave. Daughter can cook on the stove top and the oven if a grownup is around. She can do wash.

But… our rule is that whoever is in charge of dear son must be willing and able to give the Epipen. Dear son outweighs his older sister by at least 10 lbs. Though he is brave in the batter’s box in baseball, he HATES having his blood taken for tests. He’s never had the Epipen, so I’m not sure if that would go better.

For now then, they are coming along. I think it is most likely that dear son will be ready to give himself the Epipen before he is willing to have it given by his big sister.

Letter to New Team

In “Play Ball” I mentioned the challenge of a new baseball team, with new parents, coaches and teammates.  So far things are going really well.  The head coach is very supportive.  I trained the coaches on the Epipen and it turns out an assistant coach is also allergic to peanuts.

Dear son was offered chocolate in the dugout during Tuesday’s game, but he stuck to the script and didn’t have any.  I told him how proud we are of him, and how he really is ready for more independence since he can handle situations like that.  (He also walked twice that game, and scored both times!  I was there for the second run and yelled my head off when he crossed home plate. )

As promised, here is the note to coaches, parents and players that we sent at the beginning of the season, with the coach’s OK.

WARNING!  I am severely allergic to PEANUTS and tree nuts.  I am also allergic to chick peas, lentils, peas, lima beans and some soy.

My Responsibility:  In order for me to avoid a life-threatening reaction, I avoid eating foods that contain these ingredients.  If I accidentally eat one of these foods, I must get an Epipen shot and go to the ER.  I will always bring my own snacks to practices and games.

Teammates: Please don’t bring peanut products into the dugout.  If your family packed you peanut butter or granola bars, please eat them away from the team.  Please wipe off your hands with a handi-wipe before throwing me the baseball!

Coaches and Parents: I am very careful about what I eat.  Baseball bagBut if I have a reaction at practice, I would need an adult’s help.  Warning signs include an itchy tongue or itchy throat and hives.   Symptoms of a severe reaction include throat tightening, tongue swelling, and difficulty breathing.  If I have a reaction, please give me an immediate Epipen shot and call 911.  My Epipen is always in a green bag in my baseball bag.

Birthday _______
Mom cell _______
Home ________
Dad work ________

The parents and kids have also been really good about son’s food allergies.  Thank you AAA Nats!