Tag Archives: Anaphylaxis

Anniversaries

We must celebrate relationships in our lives and anniversaries are a perfect time to do that. Even though it is just one day of the year, it is often difficult to find time for even the people who mean the most to us. My husband is my rock and while it has been 14 years since we met and 10 years of marriage, he continues to be the best decision I ever made.

I was 27 years of age when we got married and still really relied on the opinions of others at the time. The beach wedding I wanted was frowned upon and even the fitted dress I wanted received those frowns too. Therefore, to steer clear of any more added drama on our special day, I made decisions based on others not completely on what my heart was telling me. Still, we had a perfect day, truly one of the best days of my life.

A few years after our wedding, I told my husband that if we ever remarried (of course to each other), I would do things the way we felt was right for us, not what was right for others. I then forgave those people and even myself for that time, acknowledging how much I had grown. It was then we also came up with a great idea: we would renew our vows at 10 years on the beach in the town where we met!

So two days ago we did just that! We renewed our love with personally written vows to each other’s and engraved wedding bands. We brought our children, parents and aunt to come to the beach where it all started 14 plus years ago. (I even got to wear a fitted white dress.) It was beyond special and perfect! God even held the rain until right afterwards.

Life is about these moments. In life, it is often easy to celebrate the big ones like weddings. However, we must make the time for the smaller moments too. They deserve to be celebrated too!

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

https://www.bible.com/111/ecc.4.12.niv

Though my husband and I are there to support and defend each other, it really helps having God as the first strand in our cord of three. “A triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Life is filled with highs and lows, mountains and valleys. However, it is with that added support of faith that we can better climb together tied to the strongest rope possible for when we fall. I know it is hard to take a single hair band out of my daughter’s curly hair as it can easily get tangled. We are like that single band when we stand alone. God must come first. And even though I fought that for so long, His undeserving grace led my husband and I together over fourteen years ago.

My blue eyed dream come true.

My answered prayer.

“You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright ” – “No one” by Alicia Keyes

But remember anniversaries only come once a year, we must try to make the time to celebrate the important people and relationships we have throughout the year too.

Love always finds a way… if we let it.

Love is always the answer.

So I’m striving to continue to make sure my priorities are in order and to value my friendships and relationships even more.

My goal is to celebrate my marriage by making the time for it each day … even if that means that some nights the kitchen counter id let an unorganized mess.

Peach Cobbler Cookies (Dairy free, egg free, peanut free)

 Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Cookies are one of my favorite types of desserts to eat and also experiment with. This summer when I was looking for something new to bring to barbecues, I stumbled across some recipes for peach cobblers. Since my son has dairy, egg and peanut allergies, he cannot eat dessert unless it is made by us or purchased from one of our reliable companies. Therefore, I tend to like to bring desserts to events so that he can be included too. Everyone deserves to be included!

The following recipe is a play on peach cobbler. It is dairy, egg and peanut free as well! Add some ice cream to the top or sandwich it in between two cookies! You will want to put those summer diets aside for this one.

However you decide to eat them, they are promised to be delicious and totally worth the mess on the counter.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup Vegan butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup applesauce

1.5 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract

2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk (We used almond, cashew, pea called Protein Milk by Silk because of its thickness and richness)

3 cups flour (We used organic, whole wheat but it can be substituted for a gluten free one)

1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped peaches (skinned and cut into tiny pieces)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Skin and cut the peaches into tiny pieces.
  3. Mix melted butter and sugars in a bowl.
  4. Add the extract, milk and applesauce.
  5. Add flour and the rest of the ingredients into another bowl.
  6. Mix both bowls together.
  7. Stir and fold in peaches.
  8. Grease trays with non-dairy butter.  Press cookie circles down with a fork. We made them about 2 inches in diameter.
  9. Bake for 16 minutes.
  10. Enjoy by themselves or with some dairy-free ice cream.  Our favorite to eat it with is vanilla cashew ice cream by So Delicious.

Legos For Days

It’s so incredible to watch the personality, gifts and talents of a child unfold. All are so distinct and special from each other, a great reminder of how each of us is our own unique person, even at a young age. A great reminder that all of us have our own God-given gifts and purpose.

As a special education teacher, it is my job to discover and teach to each individual student’s own talents and strengths. It is both my privilege and obligation to empower them against any challenges they may have or face. It’s part of my nature now to do this in the classroom. However, in the home, it is a bit more complicated at times.

Both my husband and I played sports for most of our lives and assumed that our children would want to too. And even though they are both so young yet at the ages of 2 and 5, their little but LARGE personalities and interests are already shining through …

I first saw this with my son. He may not be asking to go throw a football right now; but he is following in my husband’s footsteps of loving Legos. Since the age of 2.5, TJ has loved puzzles, activity sticker books, creating, building and taking objects apart. Literally, he could spend hours, and even days partaking in these activities. Proud Mama over here when he turned four and started to tackle legos made for as high up as 10 years old and older.

It’s all fun and games until you have 10 boxes of Legos and pieces all over the place.

That is when we created TJ’s LEGO room. While it now holds 40 sets and counting, it is much more organized these days, even if TJ takes it apart five times a day.

So while I can’t help but to be a little sad as we transform his room from baby giraffes and elephants to Legos for days, I also can’t help but to be proud of the amazing person he is and continues to become. A nice organization system amongst the mess helps the transition as well…

Madi wanted in on the fun too…

Slow Cooker Sweet and Tangy Chicken

I have always loved to cook and bake for parties.  I have always loved to host parties.  After food allergies came into our lives, I became a bit apprehensive in this area.  However, with time and healing from the post traumatic stress of TJ’s first anaphylactic reaction, I embrace them again.  I also embrace a tasty new allergy-safe recipe that could be used for the parties we now host again.   One example of this was a chicken recipe that we made for his third birthday party, sweet and tangy chicken.

 

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So here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 bottles of sesame teriyaki sauce or a sauce of your choice(We used Organicville brand) Sauce Website
  • 1-2 cans of organic pineapple chunks with juice or a fresh pineapple (chopped up 3/4 of the pineapple and put the other 1/4 of it in the Vitamix or blender of choice to make your juice
  • 1 green or red pepper chopped
  • 1-2 onion chopped (I like onions and usually had some extra
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts

Directions:

  1. Mix teriyaki sauce with pineapple chunks, juice, pepper, onion and garlic.
  2. Place 4 pieces of chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker
  3. Pour half of the sauce over it.
  4. Place the other four chicken breasts on top.
  5. Pour the rest of the sauce.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.
  • Start with one bottle of the sauce when cooking.  Then, add the second bottle to taste.
  • Note: This sauce has sesame.  Sesame is the 9th most common food allergy in our country and now an allergy in our house too.  Substitute with a sauce that will work with your family and their needs. We know we will be doing just that the next time we make this so that Madi can enjoy too.
  • Note 2: Always make sure to check and double check every ingredient to make sure it is safe for you and your own family. Remember to label read even if you have already used the product before. Companies do change the make up of their products sometimes so it is in the best interest of everyone to always check.

What a simple, but tasty recipe that all guests will devour. It may even give you some extra time out of the messy kitchen, to mingle and enjoy too. This is an area I’m still working on…

 

 

 

How will you be remembered?

james & katie

During a few teachable moments throughout each year, I ask my students to think about how they wish to be remembered. However, it is not just a message for middle school students. It is also one everyone can reflect on including myself. Despite any mess we may be walking or even sitting in, we all have purpose. Our stories are our greatest testimonies.

On the toughest days, place your hand on your heart. Feel that? That is purpose! You are alive for a reason. Keep moving and believingkeep learning to live.

Keep moving forward step by step even if it is uncomfortable at first. And forgive yourself if you slip up and fall back. Today is a new day for a reason. Never give up, no matter how messy life gets. For it is in the mess, new beauty can be found. So hold on boldly to this wild and precious ride we call life.

For it will change you as you change the world in your own unique, and beautiful way. But first remember the change starts within…

Morning Routine

A person’s morning routine is so important.   More and more studies and research are showing that the way someone starts their morning sets the stage for how productive their day will be. Search it up! There is sooooo much information out there around this very topic.

Since my early 20s, I have woken up early to go for a run.   It did not matter where I was… at the beach, on an island, at a hotel, wherever and whenever, I found a way to get this run in. The endorphins were beyond addicting at the time; they were life changing.

However, like any addiction, it is important to be able to break it for several reasons.  Still, I ran and I ran…I refused to do anything else in my routine and if I did a class like spin or yoga, I would still find time to run.   I knew it was not healthy to depend on anything so much even if it was something healthy  like running.   Balance…balance…balance and there was no balance.

Since I had run throughout my entire pregnancy with my son, I pretty much started running right after delivering him.  Knowing my running history, my doctor had told me that I could restart again after almost a week but slowly.   This then turned into months later, I was running 6-8 miles a day.   It was too much on my body and soon I started to experiencing knee pains and other related running issues. I was overused, worn-down and my muscles were yelling at me to, “Slooooooow down!”

Still, it took my daughter and that second full-term pregnancy to slow me down.  I could not run once I hit the third trimester.  It was not possible without terrible pains and so then I was forced to find a new morning routine… Thank you God for that!

So, I started to walk every morning on my treadmill instead.  This was unless I was tired, which then I would take off against my will for my body and baby. Still during these first morning hours I continued to write. It started after a miscarriage that I started to pray each morning and then write scripture-based poems.  This continued for two years until I started to desire even more of the Word and writing.

This is how my morning routine gradually turned into one of balance and peace.   And while I am sure it will change over the years to come, I know that this is where morning need to start:

  1. Wake up early (weekdays at 4 and weekends usually around 6 thanks to my son… ha) Early riding definitely means early bedtime as much as possible too.
  2. Pray
  3. Read the Bible (There are great plans out there to help guide you through the Bible.  I am currently doing read the Bible in a year on the Bible app.  I highly recommend.)
  4. Scripture-based poetry that I send to close friends and family as a daily devotional/reflection/motivation.
  5. WAR – This is what I call it… I write for this blog, poetry or my book as I run (on my treadmill of course).   I use the Mutu System for my abs (my goal once summer hits is to become more constant with that) and I run still.   However, I now only do 3 miles when I run.  And the best part is…. I no longer NEEEED to run.  Although I do enjoy it, I skip it and do the elliptical sometimes and plan on branching out more this summer as well. Running is just a part of my morning routine. Therefore, I do not NEED it like I used to.
  6. Celery juice (16 ounces) on an empty stomach
  7. Warm lemon juice (16 ounces) 30 minutes after the celery (Sometimes, I switch these up but always waiting the time in between.)

And then I am ready for the craziness to begin as I finish the last minute touches of breakfasts and lunches and jump right into the day knowing that my mind, body and heart, and if needed some Kombucha, will continue to power and empower me throughout it all…

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.