Tag Archives: Safety

EpiPens in Maine

Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill all states should pass: “to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense EpiPens at no cost to the patient.”

See the article here:

MAINE LAWMAKER’S PROPOSAL TO MAKE EPIPEN MORE ACCESSIBLE

Every six months we have to shell out sooooo much money to purchase two sets of the generic version. (4 sets total: 2 for each child – one for school and one for home) While we feel thankful to be reimbursed for more than 3/4th of each set, that’s still a ridiculous amount of money!

Whenever I pick them up at the pharmacy, I always think about how many people… kids… babies don’t have the necessary protection that these devices bring because of the insanely high, immoral cost!

But like always, we must reflect on how blessed we are…

on how much TJ has improved since his first anaphylactic reaction …

and how we truly believe his body as well as Madi’s will be restored from all of these allergies.

But in the meantime, we stay prepared, always with two sets on hand.

Go Maine, let’s get more states on board!

A Picky Eater’s Peas

Picky eating drove me crazy for way too long. From the time TJ was first able to eat, he was never really interested in food.

Some of this was due to his 21 food allergies at that time, texture sensitivities, and the fact he was a slow chewer and eater.

However, in every difficult situation, there is always a blessing. Because of his pickiness …

He wasn’t the child grabbing for someone else’s food at daycare. (Thank God for that with a list as long as his at that point.)

At his one year old appointment, his pediatrician who we love, spoke the medical truth, “TJ would have a reaction in daycare that year. The chance was too great not to. We just had to make sure the staff was prepared.”

(The course of action we took after that is for another post… as well as the panic I fell into..)

BUT…while that’s the medical facts, we believe in the God of real truth, of miracles, of the impossible … TJ was and is living proof of that. He never had a reaction that year at daycare or any of the other years after. God is good! And prayer with belief is powerful.

Looking back, his pickiness was a blessing, a way he was kept safe in otherwise, high-risk situations. However, he was still such a picky eater and it drove us nuts especially after his blood work came back around twelve months, stating he was mildly anemic, adding more to his already limited plate! (Quite the paradox if I can say so myself!)

Our options were put him on a supplements or try to build up the iron naturally with food. The latter was what we chose after meeting with two nutritionists. So we spent the next four months, getting him to eat three meals a day filled with iron … each meal would take an hour or more for him to complete… talk about patience…

When he was rechecked, sure enough it had worked! However, it did not stop the picky eating nonsense which continued for years…

Therefore, I was always on the search for new safe foods, recipes, inspiration …

When my daughter was first born, in a conversation with another mom, she mentioned roasted chickpeas being something her own picky eater loved.

TJ liked chickpeas here and there so we tried it… (I would have tried almost anything at this point) …and sure enough it was an instant hit!

And the added bonus… it’s so easy!

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  1. Organic chickpeas (When we use a can, we make sure it is BPA free.)
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Olive oil
  5. Any other spices your child likes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse and dry chick peas. Get out as much liquid as possible
  3. Coat the oven pan with a little bit of olive oil. Not too much
  4. Put the chickpeas in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle salt, pepper or whatever spices you want. (Amount is always to your child’s liking. I only use a little pepper for that reason.)
  6. Drizzle the top with some more olive oil.
  7. Put in oven for 40-45 minutes
  8. Halfway through, shake or flip the chickpeas around to roast all sides.
  9. Finish cooking until lightly browned and crunchy.
  10. Enjoy!

It’s been over two years of making this recipe which now both of my kids continue to enjoy. And even though it may still take TJ a little longer to eat them, he does so with a smile.

You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.

Store Bought Favorites

Oh how busy life gets! There is always something to prep, cook or bake for, but not always the time to do so. Since TJ’s diagnosis, more and more great companies have been creating delicious treats... aka tasty time savers.

*Of course, always make sure to check ingredients and labels every time to ensure it is also safe for you and your family. Check labels with each purchase as companies do change the recipe here and there. Better safe than sorry … so cliche but true.*

Here are some of our favorite go-tos.

1) Mo’Pweeze Cupcakes: Mo/Pweeze Bakery

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2) Abe’s Crumb cake: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

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3) Abe’s Muffins: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

4) Azure’s Bagels: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

 

While TJ’s teachers always have a box of Oreos as his special treat in case we don’t know about a party or event at school, we ask for a monthly schedule at the start of each month to try to prevent that.  Therefore, during the crazy weeks where dinner time is late and bedtime is even later, we are blessed to have found such amazing products and trustworthy businesses.

24/7 Christmas

I’ve been a bit stuck on Christmas and the attitude, and yes, I know I have the wrong season, holiday, month… the wrong everything! But, there is just something so different about people and life in December. There’s just something so different about my kids.  (Maybe all the Santa bribes..) There’s just something so different about me.
There’s nothing better than giving a gift to a loved one and seeing their face light up. My son for example will make you want to keep giving him gifts with his innocent and honest, “Wow! Take a picture! I just love all my gifts. They are all my favorite!”
“Son of a nutcracker!” – He could make me broke saying stuff like that.
every setback is a setup for a comeback! (3)
My daughter is a different story with gifts… let’s just say… we are working on it 😬
But Christmas is so much more than just gifts, it’s really about joy. The joy we can all have. All.Year.Round.
So what happens to it for the other eleven months? Is it just stored away in our attics, saved for an extra special December of tinsel and lights? Or is it… that the craziness of life finds a way to try to erase the miracle … the spirit of Christmas that can exist every day?
According to James 1:2-3 –“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
And with that, Josh Baldwin went on to write …
“When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow tries to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken, I won’t be shaken …” – Josh Baldwin’s “ Stand in Your Love”
So the truth is just that. It is stated clearly. We are meant to have joy all year round. Joy is meant to live in our hearts, not for just a season.
Why can’t we capture that December energy and spread it out throughout the year?
The question is not …. why can’t we… it is…
How Can We?
  1. Random thank you notes/letters– Who doesn’t like receiving a random kind card or even a letter? Last year, I tried to find a way to do that each month by picking people over my life that I was thankful for, that maybe helped me through a challenging time, inspired or inspires me, or even those who I wanted to apology to for a time I was not proud of. Each month, I picked one person to send a letter to. I admit; it did it for the first six months and then after not hearing back from two in a row, I let discouragement tell me I was too busy. But, I am trying again this year. Deep dig .. find the teachers, family members, friends, people you lost touch with .. remind them how much they impacted your life. Remind them how special they are.
  2. Donate – Whether it is within your church or just a family in need or a food bank, giving changes lives. Last year, when visiting a former neighbor she mentioned that they had just had a huge party with way too much food.  (Sounds familiar – I’ve been there many times and it does not help that we are not leftover people.) Instead, of being wasteful, like I’ve been way too many times, she reached out to a local food bank to find out what and if they could donate the leftovers. Sure enough, they gratefully accepted.
  3. Kind notes-  Similar to number 1, they can be monthly, weekly, biweekly, daily or in the moment. Last year, students at my school in the group Start with Hello wrote thank you notes to every staff member from crossing guards to lunch staff to teachers to administrators. While the letters were short, they were sweet and heart felt, and most importantly, they created many smiles that day. Even one smile goes a long way. What about random post it notes for a loved one or even a stranger? During a school assembly last year, the speaker spoke about how he likes to visit Barnes and Nobles and put random positive post its in random pages of books there so that when they were each bought and eventually read, they would have the opportunity to encourage someone… he would more than likely never know. How cool!
  4. Lead or participate in a fundraiser– No matter how much you raise, it matters.  It makes a difference. So jump in! Join a race or go wherever your heart brings you.
  5. Show up and surprise a friend in need or even call people more – In a world where most people are usually in a rush, being pulled in ten or twenty different directions, make time for relationships. They are what matter. Texting is texting. Visiting or even an old-school phone call goes a long way to let someone know you care. And leave a message if they don’t pick up, and don’t be insulted if they don’t call back. Time doesn’t drag its feet for us, so let’s not forget what and who matters. 
  6. Random acts of kindness – Hold the elevator, hold the door, help someone pick up their bag of papers that just fell all over the floor, etc. The opportunities are everywhere every day. Let’s teach our kids, students and younger generations to do this too.   I always have to remind myself that their eyes are always watching and learning.   Model what you want to see.
  7. Pay it forward – I love hearing stories of people paying it forward.  My in-laws, some of the most generous people I have ever met, had their dinner paid for in this way a few months back.  While I can say that I may not have a large amount of funds right now, imagine what giving away a dollar a day for one month could do.  I just read about how Jimmie Allen, one of my favorite artists, who had once been homeless, started to carry around two dollars a day that he used to pay forward. How awesome of an idea is that? Carry a dollar a day that you can’t use on yourself and you can’t come home with.  Or make it a goal to pay for someone else one time this year even if it’s for their coffee.  I don’t drink coffee but I may go through a Dunkin Donuts drive through this year, just to do that.  Whatever it may be, paying it forward is something I plan to do this year.
  8. Volunteer – Join a church or reach out to your own church about opportunities. Volunteering can be done on so many levels within schools, communities, nursing homes, etc. I plan to find more ways to do this year. I am guessing once TJ is in kindergarten (in a few months) there will be even more chances.
  9. Make connections and listen – Due to my anxiety, for years this was difficult. Sure, I had friends and I think I was a good friend. However, truthfully, my own worries and fears often blocked out time that I would and could spend asking others about their own lives. Once I was able to do this, it was a breath of fresh air to hear people, and to listen in a way that was genuine. I still catch myself just being “routine” with my hellos and how are yous. Mainly because I am usually rushing around and not always as on time for things as I used to be. Always trying to fit everything in … Sigh! However, it is my goal to continue to be an open ear this year, and an open heart.
  10. A compliment a day keeps the negativity away– Give a compliment a day ! I love this one and started it back in January. My hope is to continue throughout the year. It’s free, easy, honest, and uplifting wrapped up in a simple sentence or word.
  11. Be kind to yourself – Self compassion, what is that anymore? It’s crazy how much we lose our old selves after kids or even without kids, throughout life.   That is… if we let that happen.   Everyone deserves happiness though and it starts within. Be kind to yourself. Do something for your own well being. Get your nails done, hair done, read a good book, go for a run, join a dance class, take an epsom salt bath with essential oils (One of my favorite calming activities before bed – I call them detox baths because they detox my body and mind!)Whatever it is…learn to love yourself!
I plan to work on several of these areas and ideas so that they become second nature to me. So while the Christmas tree has been in the attic for almost two months now, you can still find a wise man or donkey from the nativity set laying around somewhere because of the kids … and you’ll still find this picture on my phone … it’s one of my favorites…
It reminds me joy isn’t meant to be saved for one season.
It reminds me joy is all year round. 
It reminds me of my joy. 
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“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.” – Buddy the Elf

 

Blissful Banana Bread

Who doesn’t love a good baked bread especially when it involves bananas. Here is one of our simple favorites.

 

Ingredients:

First Bowl:

1.5 cups of flour

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

Second Bowl:

2 mashed bananas

1/3 cup of applesauce

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 cup cooking oil (We use melted coconut oil, but have used others.)

1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips (optional but a favorite)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan. We use Earth’s Balance.
  3. Mix in all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the middle of it.
  4. Mix the second set of ingredients in a separate bowl or even directly into the well of the first bowl.
  5. Then mix together everything thoroughly.
  6. Add in dairy free chocolate chips.
  7. Pour mixture into the greased pan.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.
  9. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • We prefer Pyrex but have learned (the hard way) to be careful when taking out glass from the oven.  Do not place directly from the oven onto the cool surface like the counter.  It can explode!

Now, let me try to get to that counter…

 

A Healthy, Happy Home

Creating a healthy home has always been one of my greatest goals.  Even before kids, I considered myself healthy. However, it wasn’t until after TJ’s diagnosis that I began to see past some of my old ways of health to an even more natural way. It really opened my eyes to a world that I was not seeing clearly beforehand.   I thought I was healthy before that: I worked out every day and ate a low fat, lean diet, splurging on the weekends of course.   (Yes, I had fallen terribly for the fat free fad….oh how I had been wrong!) So to say the least, it was a huge wake up call when I took on the elimination diet for TJ and started to read more about food system.  I learned about true health by following and listening to people like Robyn O’Brien.
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While I still have a ways to go, we have come far.

Once again, I am NOT a doctor. Just a mama, wife, teacher, friend, Jesus lover, writer trying to figure out how to embrace the mess… (See disclaimer below)

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Over the past years, we have learned some go-to tips to assist our family’s health, and propel it forward…
  1. Prayer – This may sound repetitive throughout my posts, but good! It should be! The power of prayer cannot be defined.   We have truly seen it transform our health and you can too! There is no special way, time, or place. Just pray
  2. Rest – There was a time I would have told you that the r in propelling your health was to run daily.  However, as much as I still love to run each morning, getting enough sleep and rest has proven to be much more beneficial.
  3. Oils – Aside from healthy cooking oils and those in our diet like olive and coconut, essential oils have empowered our house.  It took me many years and a thousand questions (Thanks Mary for your patience!) before I actually bought my first premium starter kit from Young Living.   It’s been three years now since then and oils are now part of our daily routines.  They helped us toss out our unhealthy candles, became a friend to our immune systems, and eliminated so many unnecessary chemicals that our house once carried.We diffuse them, roller ball them up, bathe with them, make lotion using them, and even clean with them! With oils, it is important to always find a high quality brand! (Want more information on oils? Send me an email to theartofamessyhouse@gmail.com or comment below. And stay tuned for future posts.)untitled design (34)
  4. Probiotics – We saw a lot of doctors after TJ had his first reaction.  Unless necessary, I would NOT recommend doing that. Seeing a lot of doctors leads to lots of conflicting advice and one crazed Mama…or Dada.   Anyways, one recommendation that every single doctor during that time suggested was to use a good probiotic.   We went with UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics after two of them suggested that one. TJ and Madison have both used it since before they were one years old just in a reduced form. It was also what I used throughout my pregnancy with Madison. Sometimes, I switch it up too for myself with good high quality, trusted brands.
  5. Elderberry – This is very new to me this year.   During flu season last year, I read a lot about elderberry and purchased an organic brand of it.   However, it was stored away until this past Christmas when TJ got the stomach bug the night before Christmas Eve! (One of my worst nightmares!) So, we tore open that bottle and have been using it since whenever someone in the family has a compromised immune system. Next up…to try to make our own.
  6. Love – All you need is a little TLC… tender loving care, they say.  But the reality is sometimes, people are hard to love.  Sometimes, it just feels good to vent about something or someone..to burn off that steam exploded inside.   It’s healthy too… but the healthiest I have ever felt was when I began to more easily let go up “the drama,” “the negativity,” and even the people who are just plan “mean” … and focus on love. Hug more, kiss those dirty cheeks more and say “I love you” out of routine. Stop fixating on what’s wrong; challenge yourself to see the good in the picture instead. Walk away from the hate; embrace the love.

 

In addition to these ways we PROPEL our health, I also chew a clove of garlic at the first sign of a sore throat.   (I had to add this today as I am feeling under the weather and needed a morning clove.) It is not for everyone and I am sure that I do not need to tell you, it does not have the greatest taste.. or smell.  I didn’t add it to our list because I am the only one who uses this as my kids are too young to force allium sativum on them, and Timmy is not a fan of the technique.  No kissing tonight hun!

So there’s my mnemonic device for health, PROPEL!  The ELA teacher in me at work…the believer at heart. It’s not cliche.  It’s real.

 

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Even though we still get hit by viruses, we breath easier knowing that we have resources that help propel our health past the always lingering season of germs and mess.

Disclaimer: This blog is a personal blog and used as a way of sharing and connecting with other readers. The posts, articles, and stories shared on the site are meant as a source of encouragement. In this challenging world of food allergies, motherhood, and life, I have found reaching out to other parents and people in my shoes to be extremely resourceful and inspiring. Therefore, I want to give back and do the same. I am not a doctor; therefore, the information on my blog is not intended as medical advice so as always, please consult with your doctor.

The Missing Ingredient

 

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I have always loved to bake, and try out new recipes of all types. After TJ’s anaphylactic reaction, I put that on hold for awhile out of fear and trying to process it all. That was until I realized that that was not the solution. Instead, together we started to create a whole new cookbook, pushing the old ones aside… for now.

Our allergy-free cookbook is filled with delicious meals and desserts from these past four years. And as we continue to add to our collection and experiment with our creations, we are always searching for the correct ingredients and amounts.

But if these years have taught me anything, it is about a crucial ingredient, that is often missing…

Prayer!

stuffing (dairy, egg & peanut free)Where do I even start?

With prayer!

Now, this is an area that I consider… a work in progress. However, its importance is one to share even before it is perfected. Is it ever really perfected?

Everything can cause us anxiety. The news, our food system, food allergies, irrational workloads, sicknesses, hectic days, hectic lives … to even the enjoyable aspects of life like trips and parties … they all have the ability to stress us out and steal our peace. There was a period of my life, (okay who am I fooling) …for most of my life, I handled the anxiety the same way:

Let it pile up…internalize it… let it pile up some more… try to do it all by myself… try to vent to someone about… let it pile up even more … fear the worst…explode …then repeat.

What is the saying accredited to Albert Einstein again? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Maybe we aren’t insane, but we are overworked and over-worried, and missing one element (or at least I was), one important ingredient to the recipe of life, prayer!

So how does it work? It works everywhere and for everything.

To start, before each meal, pray over the food quietly or with your family and friends.

Thank You God for this food, blessing our bodies with it and for the hands that prepared it. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Worried about that allergy or doctor appointment coming up for your child or yourself?

Thank you God for healing his body from allergies. Thank you for protecting him and the good news You will provide.

Or

Thank You God for healing and restoring my body. Thank You for the great news I will receive at this appointment and the beauty that you will create from my pain. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Anxious about whether or not you should take the new job or do the new diet?

Pray over it. Thank You God for the blessing that this job … this diet … etc … will bring my life and my ability to do Your will through it.

Is your kid acting like they lost their mind in the car as you commute to work and school? (The Lord knows I’ve screamed back a time or fifty …)

Pray over them.

But it’s not just the missing ingredients from our needs, it is also the key part of even the moments of grace.

Is your heart beating a mile a minute as you just somehow avoided getting in a major accident with your two kids in the car? Pray and thank God for getting you out of that lane before the car behind you crashed into the one ahead. Pray for the people who did get hit every time you see an accident even if the accident is the reason you are late to work. Don’t curse and don’t stress. Pray, pray, pray.

It will help you breath better. It will help you think better. It will help you react better. It will help you understand better. It will help you love better. It will help you live better.

Do. It. For. Everything.

I’m not saying it will make your washer that broke restart or finally get money to grow from that tree in your backyard. Although sometimes God touches down in those situations too… (well maybe not the money-growing spruce…)

But what will it hurt? It can’t hurt. It can only bring you peace in places and times anxiety wants to steal just that.

Prayer is the ingredient I was missing for way too long. And even though we may have moments we feel like life in unfair…. What are these allergies even for? Why my kids? Why didn’t I get that job? That promotion? Or the other millions of questions that our days through at us?prayer is needed.

For we are called to pray for the blessings that these challenges will bring… the blessings that we cannot even comprehend that are waiting for us just around the corner.

So while our allergy safe cookbook may only be half written and stored away in our anything but organized cabinet, we are learning to pray through our mess… believing for more.

 

Guide to Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies

The following guide to hosting parties with food allergies was too amazing not to share. Smiling on to a safe and special holiday for everyone…

 

Grandma’s Guide to Holiday Hosting with Food Allergies

Source: http://www.mamacado.com/

Making The Holidays Happy AND Allergy-Friendly