Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years!!!

Wow, time flies when you are having fun!! I have been out of my blog office for ages now. We had a wonderful holiday, but I am suffering from my Holiday illness. It seems every year at about Christmas or New Years, I get sick with some sort of stomach bug. A few times I have ended up at some sort of urgent care getting some sort of medicine to stop the vomiting. - fun!!

This bout with the evil illness was short lived, and I am on the road to recovery now. We had a great holiday, without any other big issues, faux paus, or traumas. There were no food allergy issues, close calls, or well meaning but scary gifts. (One year Mick brought home some peanut brittle from work without realizing it. When we opened it, it was like a bomb was in the house, and it had to be removed very quickly and carefully before it exploded. Thankfully no one was injured in the process :))

Everyone is very excited today, as we are heading off to a Noon Years Eve party at a local children's museum. They celebrate New Years at Noon instead of midnight, so all the little people can play along, and I don't have to feel guilty going to bed before midnight. As long as no one throws peanuts at noon, it should be lots of fun.

Everyone, have a safe, fun and happy New Years!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Track Santa on Your Computer

Happy Holidays everyone!!!.

I have come across this really cool website where you can track Santa's progress to your house on Christmas Eve. As I write this now, it appears that Santa is in Cameroon, and soon heading towards his next location. This site has a really nice story behind it.

"For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD. NORAD inherited the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to Christmas Eve phone calls and emails from children. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Last year, millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts visited the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide Christmas Eve updates on Santa's journey. "

You can also track Santa in 3D, watch video's about Santa, and take an interactive tour of his village on the North Pole. I just found a video on there also where Santa visits the International Space Station. WOW!! he really gets around.

Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to everyone!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

NoPeanuts - Yes iPhone - An iPhone Allergy Companion Application

I got an i phone a few months ago, and I have to say it is really cool. So far I have figured out how to use the phone, surf the web (this took a while, why in the world is the web called Safari??), listen to music, and use the really cool map feature. Besides that, I am one of the most technologically challenged individuals out there. I was volunteering in Michael's class one time, and me and the other volunteer mother kept hearing this music coming from somewhere. We were trying to figure out, was it the school intercom???? something outside the class room??? After a few minutes I realized that I really liked all the songs that were unknowingly emanating around the classroom. In horror I realized that they were coming from my back pocket and my i phone. ooooppppssss....

I just recently discovered that there are these application things you can download to your phone. I am not even sure exactly what they are, but they seem pretty neat. Somehow I came across one called NoPeanuts. You can read about the NoPeanut Allergy Companion here.

"NoPeanut is an iPhone application that provided peanut allergy information. Peanut Allergies can cause a serious potentially fatal reaction. NoPeanut puts valuable information at your fingertips to help you communicate with food preparers/servers in multiple languages and help you make informed choices to avoid foods contaminated with Peanuts or processed on equipment that is shared with Peanuts. It is available on the app store here.
NoPeanut includes:
· Multi-language Digital Warning cards warn food servers/preparers about Peanut allergy and ask for safe choices instead (languages include English, French, German, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Hindi)
· Provide a list of foods to avoid for over 50 major restaurant chains in USA and Canada
· Includes Multi-language Emergency Help digital cards – Ask to have an ambulance called to treat potentially fatal allergic reaction to Peanuts (languages include English, French, German, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Hindi). Great peace of mind if you are travelling in an area that doesn’t use standard 911.
· Provide links to allergen info and where possible phone numbers to make it easier to get real time info."

The web site also gives you a visual tour of the application to check out, and a place to send them your feedback about this cool new application. I think it costs $2.99 to download it to your i phone. It seems like a small price to pay for any help I can find in dealing with our fun food allergies.

Now I just need to figure out how the heck to download things to an iphone.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ignorance is Not Bliss for Those Dealing With Life Threatening Food Allergies

I had not really had to deal with ignorance or stupidity over the past few weeks (at least not in regard to food allergies), but over the past two days it has flown forward from various different school personnel. The first was a kind and innocent ignorance, a lack of understanding of the true dangers and day to day realities of living with a life threatening food allergy. A few months ago, Natalie's kindergarten teacher had overheard me telling her she could not bring certain food home because of Conor's allergies. She asked, and I explained that, yes, he had a life threatening allergy to peanuts. She expressed her concern, and told me that at a previous school she had worked at, there had been a sign posted in one of the classrooms that no peanuts were allowed. She asked when Conor would be starting kindergarten, and I said, next year, but I did not know where yet because of his allergies. Today when I was dropping Natalie off at school, I had Conor with me and was speaking to Natalie's teacher. She asked if I had decided whether Conor would go to school there next year, and I said probably not, as I did not think the school could be made safe. The poor sweet little thing looked me in the eyes and said it would be ok, I could have him put in her class room, and she would make a really nice sign for the door that no nuts were allowed. It was a very sweet gesture, and I thanked her, but it made me sad to realize that she thought dealing with a life threatening food allergy was as simple as posting a sign on the door. After explaining to her all of the things that went into keeping a child with this medical condition safe - ie epi pen, supervision outside the classroom, etc - she agreed that he probably would not be safe there. I still do not think she understood the entire picture, but at least she realized that a picture on the door was not enough.

Then of course there is the Pre-School that Conor attends. I think the worst sort of ignorance is that where the individual (Dopey the school director and teacher)does not think they are actually ignorant about the situation. Apparently at the school holiday party Dopey has a tradition of making a stone bowl soup. The children and the teachers all make the soup together, and then share it among everyone. Due to my previous efforts the school is sort of "nut free". (foods, not people). I decided to ask Dopey what was in the soup to ascertain whether it was worth trying to make it safe for Conor to try. When I asked Dopey what was in the soup since I wanted to determine whether it would be safe, he looked at me as though I had two heads and was speaking Gaelic. He proclaimed there is no way there could be any nuts in the soup, as it was only made from broth, vegetables, rice, pasta, and some other spices and things. He then had the gall to say that sometimes things have those warning labels on them, but that does not matter. After informing him that it does matter to me, and I am one of those paranoid mother types, I made a mental note to myself to hang out at the school all day tomorrow, and make brownies to feed Conor so he would not notice he could not try the soup. (he does not even like soup - whew)

So, those are my two forays into the pool of educational ignorance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Great Information Web Site

Someone over at the Food Allergy Support Boards posted about this absolutely amazing site here. It is so wonderful that I thought I would also point it out here, in case anyone has not discovered it through different means. The site is put up by John Weisnagel, M.D

Really great Peanut Allergy Info.
This is a really detailed and intelligent overview on all sorts of different issues pertaining to peanut allergies. Here is an excerpt from his introduction to the article:

"This review of the complex issue of peanut allergy was started in Oct. 1998 following a great deal of attention given to the subject in the media at that particular time. This coincided with many publications in the medical literature as cited in the references seen below in the opening paragraphs, conclusions of the authors considered as "alarming, frightening", according to comments of some visitors scanning this article. There were articles in magazines, like Time, Newsweek, as well as in local papers on what seemed an increase in peanut allergy, on banning peanuts in schools or on commercial flights, etc.22,25. Some of the articles, and reactions to them, were posted and appear in the article, and may still be accessible (at times, they're removed without any warning). The effect of all this attention to peanut allergy resulted in a panic situation, both in the minds of the public as well as the medical community, an attitude that seems to persist. .....This ongoing article is updated regularly, as developments occur, hopefully not only to make everyone aware of this unpredictable allergy, but also to help ease the fear generated. All updates appear with the date of the posting and for a time (usually 3 months) preceded by this image. "

There is also a wonderful General Information Page here. This is one of the most complete list of resources related to all sorts of allergies, food allergies, asthma, and almost anything else allergy, atopic related.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is It a Cough or Asthma - Both - Cough Varient Asthma

I love to watch that show Mystery Diagnosis on the Discovery Health Channel. I don't like the show because I am all that interested in medicine, or science, I like the show because it reinforces an idea that I initially had a lot of trouble with - Doctors frequently have no idea what they are talking about. I think I grew up believing Doctors were authority figures who always knew about which they spoke, and should not be questioned. Many years later after an unfortunate foray into allergies and asthma, I discovered this was not true.

Since Conor has a cold, and we are again fighting the asthma, I thought I would share some info on the type of asthma he has - Cough Variant Asthma. Many doctors failed to diagnose what was wrong with him, and we had many claim it was simply yet another bout of bronchitis, croup, or just a really nasty cough. Even after having the diagnosis, I have had pediatricians, and ER doctors not believe me. (Pediatrician said just a bad cough. Ended up in the ER later that day because of terrible strider and trouble breathing - ER doc was convinced it HAD to be croup. Very cool allergist confirmed not croup, but asthma at follow up appointment.)

So, here is some general information on Cough Variant Asthma.

"Cough-variant asthma is a clinical syndrome seen in children with persistent cough, absence of wheezing on examination, and reversible obstructive changes in lung function. The cough-variant phenotype is seen in approximately 25% of children with asthma, and it can be difficult to recognize and treat.

Children with cough-variant asthma are often symptomatic for a long period before an accurate diagnosis is made and can be misdiagnosed as having recurrent bronchitis or even psychogenic cough. Such children often receive multiple rounds of antibiotics before being referred to a specialist. Lung function testing is required to make an accurate diagnosis but can also be normal."

Pediatric Planet
"What is it?
Some children with a persistent cough have a condition called "cough variant asthma." This means that we believe that the child is coughing because his or her breathing tubes (bronchi) are reacting to irritation by squeezing in to a smaller size, just like in asthma. Children with cough variant asthma do not make the wheezing sound that we usually hear in children with ordinary asthma, though. This can make it difficult to diagnose the condition, and very often children with cough variant asthma have been through a number of other diagnoses or treatments. Parents of children with cough variant asthma usually find that regular cough and cold medicines don’t help their children, and of course antibiotics don’t help either. Cough variant asthma can be a very frustrating condition.
Once of the most important clues to learning that a child has cough variant asthma is that these children very often get a cough with every cold or upper respiratory infection (URI). The cough usually lasts for much longer than the original infection. Like children with regular asthma, children with cough variant asthma usually have other "triggers" that can set off a cough. These triggers can be things in the environment like smoke, dust, pollen, animal hair and dander, dust mites, roaches or many other things. Often weather changes can also be triggers. Children with cough variant asthma often cough more at night, which can be very disruptive for the child and the family."

A few more online resources.

Web MD

And anytime you are annoyed at your Doctor, be sure to check out Mystery Diagnosis

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Cool Food Allergy Stuff

Hello Everyone,

I love etsy. There are so many unique handmade gifts there, and I love just browsing around to see what sorts of cool things people have made. I have recently discovered Dawnberries, that makes cool food allergy stuff. Her stuff is really unique, and I really like to wood inscribed food allergy magnets. These would be great to put on the refrigerator for babysitters, grandparents, or anyone else who needs a bit of a food allergy reminder.

Other cool items are the wood allergy beads that can be attached to shoes.

There are also cool wood beads, that can be made into a necklace, bracelet, or zipper pull.

I think she has her own engraving machine, so she can customize anything to say what you want. It probably has to be something nice though.....

Monday, December 8, 2008


Sometimes, I just find the coolest things online. I am so happy I am not the only one who enjoys doing funny things with photoshop. I found this photo while browsing around on line here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Watch Out For The Peanut Ducks

Just when I thought I had seen just about everything, I came across this unique peanut in the shape of a duck. And then, just in case you thought that was enough, I also discovered this blog called This Peanut Looks Like a Duck. Yes, a blog dedicated to peanuts and other things that happen to look like ducks. People send in images of things they have seen that they think look like ducks. There are pictures of scrambled eggs, MRI's and clouds. Apparently this all began because some duck lovers saw a peanut that looks like a duck, and whalllaaa a new blog was born. They even sell images of their logo of a peanut that looks like a duck on t-shirts.

But apparently all this quackiness (could not resist that pun) does not end here. Someone out there has written a New Biology of this new animal the Peanut Duck.

"#15235 - Peanut Duck! (amphicarpa anas plathyrhynchos)
Peanut ducks have the legs and bill of a duck and the body of a monkey nut. Peanut ducks were first discovered in 1671, when they were proclaimed 'a fear-some mishe-mashe of plante and fowle' by the Church. However, after two centuries of relentless persecution, it became clear that the creatures were far too clumsy on land to be any threat, and they were left to their own devices. The peanut duck is also a dance"

There is also information on their habitat, mating habits, relationship with man, and an interesting photo of their internal physiology.

And finally believe it or not, people are selling these creatures on ebay. The starting bid is .99 cents, and there do not appear to be any bids yet. I hope no one decides to give us this unique gift for the holidays.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not So Nuts About Southwest Airlines

While searching the Internet the other day, I discovered that Southwest Airlines has a corporate blog.  When I clicked on the site to check it out I recoiled in horror.  Apparently the blog is called Nuts About Southwest, and the pages are covered with images of peanuts.  I guess that answers the ever important question I have "Does Southwest serve peanuts or nuts on their flights?"  HHhhhhmmm, I think the answer is yes.

In addition to having peanuts cover their pages, they also have a little bag of peanuts open and spilling all over the pages.  On this bag is the slogan Byte Sized Fares.  Clever, cute, and to me, who is overly sensitized to peanut issues, offensive. I don't know if it is justified, but I feel angry that instead of trying to accommodate this disability, the airline is flaunting their lack of compassion for it. 

In a Seattle Times Article from 1994 they spoke of how Southwest Airlines based its image on the peanut.

"Peanut fares. Peanut meals. Peanut jokes.

Not since South American Indians began cultivating the distinctive legumes a millennium ago have peanuts been the subject of such sustained attention.

Famed for its low fares and spartan service, Southwest Airlines bought 46.3 million bags of peanuts last year to distribute to its passengers.

They're emblazoned front and back with a Boeing 737 in Southwest's eye-catching mustard and orange colors.

Elevating the peanut to such status is all part of the nutty persona Chairman Herb Kelleher has created for the Dallas-based airline."

An issue of The Peanut Grower from 2007  discusses how Southwest Airlines gave up on peanut free snacks, and now run ad campaigns promoting peanuts.

"Southwest Airlines Promotes Peanuts
Honey-roasted and dry-roasted peanuts are once again on board Southwest Airlines. The company stopped distributing the free peanut snacks in 2005 in an effort to save money.

Kanan Enterprises, based in Solon, Ohio, provides nuts to Southwest Airlines under the King Nut name. King Nut peanuts are distributed to seven of the eight largest U.S. carriers, and Southwest Airlines is its biggest customer.

Southwest ran an ad campaign entitled, “Fly for Peanuts,” and the employee blog is named “Nuts About Southwest.”"

On their blog they also explain their Official Southwest Airlines Semi-Annual Peanut-Transition.  I know you are asking....What is the Official Southwest Airlines Semi-Annual Peanut_Transition?  Well, since you asked here is a quote from their blog.  "Every six months or so we switch from dry roasted to honey roasted peanuts, giving us all the opportunity to debate the merits of each style of nut and rehash old peanut stories. "  

I would like to rehash some old peanut stories for them, like the time my then 2 year old blew up like a basketball after eating only a tiny bit of peanut.  Or how about the time little Joey almost died from eating a honey roasted peanut.  Lets debate the merits of how his reaction would have differed if he ate a salted peanut instead.  

I think my favorite old peanut story is the one where I decided I would not be flying Southwest Airlines again, especially not for Peanuts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Super Epi Pen Fights Bad Guys

Conor requested some bad guys for Super Epi pen to fight, so I tried to work my magic with photo shop elements again.  I asked for his advice, and he wanted to have 8 bad guys sneaking up on the picnic table.  He also enjoyed moving Super Epi Pen up and down to attack the bad guys with the mouse.  Sometimes I wonder about what goes on in the minds of little boys.

More on these bad guys later.....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder - Peanut Jewelry

I was surfing the web again this morning, and came across this web site that sells gifts that are lets just say not really to my liking.  I think it all really speaks for itself.  Check out these unique gifts here.

 "The  Peanut Jewelry Collection 
I designed this peanut jewelry in hope of showing people how beautiful the peanut is.
The 14kt. gold  has such a rich look and the new pieces with diamonds bring everything to life.
The red jasper stone that I hand carve is found in New Mexico and has the same natural color
as a real peanut.  Each piece has great detail and there are many peanut sizes to choose from in gold or sterling silver. "

Here are some examples from the collection.
The peanut cluster necklace
The diamond encrusted peanut earrings

Then I found this other site where you can purchase a real peanut that has been hand dipped into 24k gold and made into a necklace charm.

The site is called Red Freckles, and you can also purchase a necklace with an real Advil encased in resin, a penicillin pill encased in resin, and a gold dipped dog bone.

Happy Shopping

When Food Kills Documentary Video

As I was flipping through the channels the other night, I came across this very well made Australian video about food allergies and anaphylaxis.  A bit surprised I looked at what channel I was on, and discovered that I was actually on the Documentary Channel.  There is a Documentary Channel?????  Who knew???  When did that appear on my TV?????

Anyways, I only caught the last half of it, but it was a powerful and well told investigation of why people died from anaphylaxis, and what sorts of measures can be put in place to prevent these tragic deaths.  It was difficult for me to watch, but that is a good thing.  It would be an excellent video to share with those disbelieving uneducated individuals we come in contact with.

Since I have not figured out how to put video in my blog yet, I will send you over to this link at Peanut Free!!    a new blog I recently discovered.  The video has been posted there for everyone to see.  Go now and watch it!!!

You can also purchase a copy of the video here, on the Documentary Channel's website.  (The Documentary Channel has a web site???? They sell stuff??? Who knew???)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are Turkeys Scary??

We had a wonderful thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with a 15 pound turkey and all the trimmings.  However, I have a question.  It is kind of a funny question, kind of an embarrassing question, but still a question.

You see, we started on Thursday morning, getting the turkey out of the refrigerator and preparing it to be put in the oven.  The moment my 4 year old food allergic child saw the raw naked bird he ran over to me in a fear filled screaming flail.  Confused, I asked him what was wrong.  He pointed at the turkey sitting in the pan on the counter, and quietly told me he wanted me to get rid of it.  Still confused, I asked "why", since if we got rid of the turkey there would be much less to eat at dinner.  He was finally able to calm down enough to explain that he was deathly afraid of our turkey.

That's right, my 4 year old is afraid of a turkey.  He was afraid of it raw, he was afraid of it cooked.  He refused to sit at the table if the turkey was placed on the table at the same time.  He would not go near 10 feet of it, and refused to have any part of it on his plate or near anything he ate.  Yes, my son is not afraid of the boggy man, the dark, or a monster under his bed, he is afraid of a turkey.

So, I have a question to ask.   Are turkeys scary?
So, we have said our thanks, and now it is time to start shopping.  Although the Christmas season started officially the week before Halloween in stores around here (yes, they had all the Christmas stuff out the second week in October.  I thought of being Ms. Clause for Halloween.), I have only now started to think about my holiday shopping.

Just to get you off to a head start, here are a few of my great finds for holiday gifts.

1)Educate everyone on your list about food allergies and how to cook for the food allergic.

Linda Coss, one of my food allergy idols, is running a holiday special: Order by December 31, 2008 and get FREE Priority Mail shipping. There's no minimum order or coupons required, but you can also save up to 26% when you order the books in sets. 

Just go to to place your order.

2)Make a Flip Book from your own video.
Check out the website here.

I was looking for a new and exciting personalized gift, and came across this totally cool idea.  You can take 10, 15 or 30 seconds of your own video, and make it into one of those books that when you flip the pages makes your images move.  I thought this was the greatest idea, especially for those grandparents who are a bit technologically challenged, and never even figured out how to use a VCR.  I ordered two test ones for myself to check out, and will let you know how they turn out.

Happy Shopping!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Super Epi Pen Goes to Paris

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  Our meal was very yummy, and we have tons of leftovers for the rest of the week.  I had a little free time to play with the computer, so I made this picture at the request of fellow blogger Jennifer at the Food Allergy Buzz, who I am also very thankful for.

Yes, Super Epi Pen traveled to Paris over the holiday to save the day yet again.  

I hope he is back to go shopping tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Undressed Dressed Turkey

Are you stressed out because your family does not understand the dangers of food allergies, and insists on bringing over that nut laden dessert, even though you have told them millions of times that nuts are not allowed in your home???  Here is a way to take your mind of your stresses, and shock, scare amuse and amaze your guests all at the same time.  Try the undressed, dressed turkey.

1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes.

2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully.

3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve.

I guess that you could cut out the tin foil into any shapes, and make any sort of designs you wanted on your turkey.  If the undressed, dressed turkey does not work for you, you could design your own work of turkey art to be shared at the dinner table.  And even better, when everyone is staring at the turkey in shock, you can get rid of all those nut ridden dishes the annoying relatives insisted on bringing over.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Thankful Thanksgiving

I have been stressed these past few weeks (yes, I know, nothing unusual) so now that we are finally back from our road trip of fun, I started thinking about Thanksgiving.  In addition to all the thinking I have been doing about what to cook, I have also been thinking about all the things I am thankful for.  So here goes....

I am thankful for:

My three wonderful children

My wonderful husband


DVR - this is truly one of the greatest inventions ever.  I remember the days of trying to program that stupid video tape player..... (yes, I am that old)

That despite having heart failure, and not doing so well at the moment my Mother has been able to be around to get to know her grandchildren and thus necessitate that we all stuff ourselves into the car and drive long periods of time, so we can visit.  It is a bit scary not knowing how much longer she will be with us, but I am very thankful for the time there is.

That my husband cooks the turkey on Thanksgiving

That we are again friends with the egg, and have eggs back in our diet. I can now hopefully make a somewhat decent corn bread, and brownies.  This is of course hopefully - if I have too many "helpers" I have been known to make mistakes.


Everyone is healthy.  Beyond our obvious health issues (Grandma, peanut allergy, asthma), everyone is doing well and is healthy and happy.  

Super Epi Pen

The Internet.  What did people do before the Internet???????  And of course broadband Internet connections.  Remember dial up?????

Buster the pug is doing well after his cancer scare.

All you totally cool and awesome people who visit my blog.  Yes, I know there are only like 5 of you, but you guys are great!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Your Olive Oil Like a Virgin - From Other Allergens That Is

We just got back from a marathon weekend of driving to visit the Grandparents in a pre-thanksgiving road trip.  It was thankfully quite uneventful, despite stuffing 7 people into two rooms the size of a closet.

Anyways, I found this very disturbing article about olive oil.  Apparently there is a disturbing olive oil conspiracy, where olive oil is cut with other oils including peanut, and soy, to lower its cost.  Some states are just enacting legislation now to protect consumers, and especially the food allergic from harm.  Just in case you did not have enough to worry about, check out the stories below.

I just also discovered that I am completely behind the boat on this issue.  The totally awesome food allergy blogger Jennifer at Food Allergy Buzz wrote about this here.  Also Kids With Food Allergies has this really great thread about it here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More School Fun

We are heading off this morning to have a "shadow" day for Conor at the local nut free school that he may attend next year for kindergarten.  I went to visit the school myself last week and spoke to the director and two of the teachers.  This is a very small school (only 3 multi-age classrooms for all grades) and only has about 80 kids total.  All staff is trained in epipens, and food allergies every year (of course it is a small staff, but still a good thing)  There are epipens hanging on the wall in the classroom, in the office and on the playground.  They also have a nut free food service provider for lunches, and absolutely no nuts are allowed on the premises.  It seems like a perfect fit for us, but I am a little unsure about the size, having Conor go to a different school then his brother and sister, and of course the price.

Since I think I have a pretty solid alternative, I thought now that the pressure was off, just for fun, I would see how my favorite underfunded, chaotic, nurse-less local public school would address some food allergy questions.  I emailed our not so fearless Principal and asked about the schools food allergy policy.  The principal is they type of guy who tells you what you want to hear, and then never does anything he says he will do, even if you have proof of it in writing.  His first response to me was that the school district web site laid out the policies of the school district in regards to food allergies.  Of course I had already checked the web site, and there is not even so much as the word allergy on it, much less a district policy on food allergies.  I politely emailed back Mr. Principal, and told him I am sure I missed it, but could he please send me the link of this fabulous food allergy policy he was talking about.  In a few days my inbox was blazing with an email message stating that ooohhh gadddsss, I was right, and there was no such policy there.  He gave me the name and address of someone over at the district office who was in charge of the Food Programs and said they should know the answer.

OK, first of all, why should my medical question be handled by the person in charge of food programs?????  Would you send a diabetic to Food Programs to deal with their medical condition??  How about someone with a seizure disorder, or asthma, or cancer????   I know there is no school nurse for the district, but I did not realize that the Food Programs was the medical replacement. It is kind of like going to a Dr. appointment at the local hospital complex, and being sent to talk to the head of the cafateria instead.

So, just for jollies, I have emailed Ms. Food Programs to determine in writing that the district officially has no food allergy policies.  I think I will stand by my inbox now waiting for a response......

Monday, November 17, 2008

Always Take Your Epi Pen - Super Epi Pen Flies Around the Country

Since the creation of Super Epi Pen, everyone in the house has been very excited to figure out what sort of exciting things he can do.  Although they were impressed with him posing and flying, they wanted to know how Super Epi Pen would travel around anywhere he was needed. What if we were up in San Francisco for the day????  What if we traveled to New York on vacation???  Would Super Epi Pen be able to get to these places to save the day.  I tried to explain that it is very important that we always take an epi pen with us wherever we go, but Conor wanted to imagine that us carrying the epi pen with us always was like Super Epi Pen flying anywhere he was needed.  So, I decided to play with photoshop yet again, and try to show Super Epi Pen flying all around the country.  Upon seeing this Conor said "Yea Super Epi Pen is flying, that is what it is like if we take him everywhere."

Super Epi Pen is flying over near the bay bridge in San Francisco.

Super Epi Pen is flying by the Golden Gate Bridge

Super Epi Pen flies by the Statue of Liberty

Please let me know if there is anywhere else you would like to see Super Epi Pen fly.  If you take your epi pen with you, it too will be a Super Epi Pen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oh No!!! He Has Asthma Too!!! Links to Get Started With

As I was bribing my sweet little boy to use his nebulizer this morning by allowing him to play the PlayStation (which I HATE) while he sat there, and was thinking back to what it was like when we discovered Conor also had asthma.  It wasn't as overwhelming as the food allergy discovery, and I knew it was a possibility since he is as atopic as they come, but it was still scary, confusing and a new world of medicines, instructions and funny devices.

So, I went back, and tried to find what sites I had saved on my computer, that I looked at to try and help calm me down.  Below is some of the ones I located on what was left of my bookmarks bar since the old computer died.  Hopefully you don't need them now, and won't need them in the future, but just in case......

This is the Allergy and Asthma Network's Mother's of Asthmatics website.  This is a great website filled with tons and tons of information.  There is so much information that I have come nowhere near looking through all of it, but it is a great resource to start searching for what ails you.  (or your child)

(click on Tips Brochures to read them first)
This is the really really great American Academy of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology, and there is so much good stuff on here not only for food allergies, but for asthma.  There are great general overviews on what asthma is, what the medications are, and how to use them.

This is the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's website, and is also filled with great info on everything generally dealing with asthma. Check out the asthma overview.
Also look at the glossary of asthma terms here.

This is a great overview of what asthma is, and how it effects the lungs and breathing.  There is a ton of great general information here and a great place to start reading.

This is a great checklist from the Jewish National site about early warning signs of an asthma attack.

This explains how to create as asthma action plan with your doctor, so you have a clear picture of what you need to do and when.  It also gives you helpful tips about what to ask your doctor in developing your plan.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Super Epi Pen is my Super Hero

I am sure you have all been wondering recently what my obsession is with super heros, and why I feel the need to dress up all sorts of things around me as super heros.  My husband saw me dressing up the epi pen as Super Epi Pen, and thought all the recent stress had gotten to me, and I had finally, officially lost my mind.  But no, there is some sort of bizarre logic behind all I do, even if it only makes sense to me.

True, I dressed up Buster the Pug long ago, but the new desire to dress up epi pens as super heros is a new phenomena for me.  I think it really started when Conor recently discovered that the epi pen is actually a shot he would have to receive if he got sick from eating a peanut, or getting too close to a cat.  His new modus operendi is to run screaming in the other direction if anyone even mentions a shot.  (this was loads of fun when he was getting his flu shot).  He did not want to see the epi pen, was upset if he saw me take the epi pen out with us, and said he would never, ever, ever let it be used on him.

To try and explain why the epi pen was really a good thing, I started trying to describe it to him in terms he would understand.  Conor loves Superman and super heros in general (the fruit does not fall far from the tree).  I explained to him that the epi pen was kind of like a Superman, who would fly in to save him in an emergency.  It was not a bad guy who was there to hurt him, but a good guy who was there to save the day.  Conor really liked this idea, and asked what Super Epi Pen would look like.........

Taking inspiration from one of the greatest artists of the 21st Century, Terry over at Bent Objects, and helping Natalie pry those annoying Barbie clothes on and off of dolls countless times, it occurred to me that I could make a Super Epi Pen that Conor could actually see in person.  Then when the computer died, I got a new version of Photoshop Elements on the new computer that I have been trying to figure out, and lo and behold Super Epi Pen was created.

I made an initial prototype with a trainer epi pen, and everyone (children that is - the adults still think I have lost it) in the house thought it was just the best thing ever.  They liked to try and make it fly, and practice how to use it to save the day if someone was suffering from anaphylaxis.  I played with photoshop for a bit, and everyone loved watching Super Epi Pen pose for the camera and fly through the air.  Everyone started making up stories of what Super Epi Pen could do, and all the different ways he would save the day.  He would fight dangerous allergies, he could fly anywhere all over the world to help anyone in need, and he could save lives.  Our new super hero was born.

The best part of it all though was that when Conor saw Super Epi Pen he said he would be OK getting the shot from the epi pen if the shot came from Super Epi Pen.  He said he wanted Super Epi Pen to come with us everywhere we went, and felt safer knowing our super hero was with us.  To me the epi pen is my super hero, because it can help to save Conor if he suffers from anaphalyxis.  Super Epi Pen is also a hero to not only Conor, but to me, because it helps a little boy who has been stuck with too many needles, and lives with too many restrictions to understand things he should never have to understand.  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Great School Resources

So School is going in full session, and I hope everyone is doing well with their school environments.  I had previously posted about resources for 504 plans here.  In that post I told everyone about the truly awesome Food Allergy Support Message boards, and their amazing resources for dealing with schools and 504  plans.

Since writing my previous post, it appears that these totally awesome people over at the Food Allergy Support Message boards have added even more great information to their School resources section.  The main page for resources is here.

Here are some of my recommendations to check out.

Dept. of Education, Office Civil Rights: State-by-state contact info
This is an absolutely wonderful resource.  As the school year goes on, and you discover that your lovely school is not doing quite what they promised, here is how to go about contacting your local Office of Civil Rights to get their input on the situation.

Recent 504 impartial hearing ruling
This is the results of an impartial 504 hearing as to whether a Student  was entitled to protection of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in a Connecticut School District.  In the end it was decided that a student who had a know allergy to tree nuts, peanuts, enviormental allergies and asthma was sufficiently impaired that this impairment did rise to the level that substantially impacts his major life abilities.
The above link has the entire decision, and it really is a must read for anyone embarking on a 504. 

USDA FNS Civil Rights Organization (CRO): state by state contact information
The USDA Food and Nutrition Services administers the National School Lunch Program--a federally funded program. The have their own civil rights offices as well and those cool people over at the Food Allergy Support Message Boards have put it all out on the link above. 

Links to School Districts' Food Allergy Policies
This link contains food allergy guidelines and policies already set up in schools throughout the country.  It is a great resource, but made me very mad to discover how few policies (none) our school district has.  This is a great resource to show your own school district though.

2008 ADA Amendment Now Law
This link has the 2008 ADA Amendment act and the changes that have been put in place that are beneficial for those with life threatening food allergies.  The primary changes have to do with the definition of disability, under the ADA, and the entire changes are printed at the link above.

Thanks again to all you really great people over at the Food Allergy Support Boards.  In addition to having a great section on Schools, they have tons of other really useful message boards covering almost everything you can think of related to food allergies.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Super Epi Pen Flies

Life After a Successful Egg Challenge - Answers and Questions

Eggs have re-entered our home and there is rejoicing all around.  We have made brownies, pancakes and scrambled eggs.  I am sorry for those of you still egg less ones, but eggs really do make things easier for the cooking impaired such as myself.  The brownies actually taste ok, and don't double as a stepping stone for the garden.  The pancakes can be removed from the pan without a chisel, and actually resemble a pancake.

However I am still uncertain about this whole egg thing.  Previously Conor had never really reacted to cooked egg.  He ate lots of things with egg cooked in it and I never noticed anything before.(not that I was a little bit slow on noticing these things before).  He seemed to really react to raw egg, or things like meringue powder that I put into icings.  How do I know if he will react to these things now, and what if he does???  And if he gets some eczema, how do I know if it is exacerbated by the eggs???

Now here is my other really stupid thought.  He used to be allergic to eggs, and now he ate one.  How do I know he is still allergic to peanuts.  Sure I remember a few years ago when he ate on and his head blew up to the size of a basketball, but how do I know he still is.  I am thrilled that he has not had a peanut reaction since, and it means we are doing a good job keeping him safe, but the part of me thinks denial is a river in Egypt wonders if I am just being paranoid in my anti-peanut crusade.

Don't worry, I know he is still allergic to peanuts.  We will navigate the waters of our own journey with eggs one egg and one day at a time.  We got some new answers I really like, but why do I still have so many new questions.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Own Super Pug, Super Buster

After the other computer died, I found some long forgotten photos on a CD, and discovered that my obsession with super hero's started long before children, food allergies and epi pens.  

Here are some photos of our pug Buster.  (read about his cancer scare here), dressed up as Super Buster many years ago.  I attended film school at USC and was required to make movies as a part of our courses.  Somewhere in my archives is the great movie of Super Buster the cute pug who saves the day.  

But here are some photos of him in action, in his days as a movie star.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Eggcellent!!! - A Successful Food Challenge

Things are calming down a bit here.  We are much poorer, but have a new computer, and a spiffy new rental car while the minivan is in the shop.  The second car has had its breaks replaced, and life is returning somewhat back to normal.

On Monday we made our way to the Allergist for our Egg Challenge.  This was a long time coming, and our third attempt at actually making it to the Dr. to do the challenge.  The first time Conor got sick, and we spent all sorts of time at the Dr and the emergency room, but not for an egg challenge.  The second time the Dr. had an emergency and her not so wonderful office staff failed to inform me and this unfortunate discovery was made when I arrived at the Dr. office, eggs in hand to a locked door and a note.

But Monday was the third time, and the third time was the charm.  We arrived at the Dr. bright and early.  Conor was not hacking and the door was open, so we figured so far so good.  We had never done a food challenge before, and although I had read about it, I was not sure what to expect.

We got taken back to a room which was to be our home for the next few hours.  I had brought all sorts of entertainment to keep Conor out of trouble, and I have to say, he really behaved quite well.  They started off with a skin test of just a histamine and egg, and of course Conor failed it miserably.  Although he failed, they said they pretty much just like to poke little children for fun, and would go ahead with the challenge anyways.  HHHMMM just how accurate are those tests anyways???

Then they started with a hard boiled egg, and just rubbed Conor's finger on it.  The nurse set a timer for 10 minutes, and when all was well, they proceeded to rub it on his lips.  He found this highly amusing, and kept saying he had on egg lipstick.  He still tells everyone how the nurse at the Dr. office gave him some egg lipstick and now he is not allergic to eggs.  Ten minutes later they had him lick the egg.  Ten minutes after that, he took a small bite, another ten minutes, another bite, and finally a big chunk of egg.  After each ten minute period the nurse came in, took all his vital signs and looked him over.  I of course just sat there staring at him, waiting anxiously to see if hives would pop up, or his face would start to swell.  In order to get him to eat the egg I had to bribe him with some left over Halloween candy, and I had one small scare, when I thought lollipop leftovers were hives covering his chin.   

There was a lot of waiting and looking, but in the end, Conor passed without a hive or swell in sight. We ended up spending almost 5 hours in the office by the time it was all over, and even got a flu shot to boot.  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When it Rains it Pours

So, Halloween went great. Things since then have gone a bit down hill. First our computer dies. I am presently writing this from the local library at one of their little public computers. It is really a great service by the way, and I am happy to have discovered it. Unfortunately the library will be closing soon, and I think I will be kicked off the computer in just a matter of minutes. Great, more pressure....

Anyways, so Saturday morning we discovered the computer was dead. Wouldn't boot up, wouldn't boot down, just would not boot at all. My wonderful husband, after working on it for many hours (in our house working on it for him includes doing all sorts of really great helpful fix it stuff punctuated with angry words, and occasional keyboard banging). After many hours of this, he finally gave up and decided that the computer needed to go back to the retail store we had purchased the computer from less then a year ago, to see what they could do about the situation. Grampoo was in town visiting, and they packed all the children and the computer up into the minivan, and headed out into the pouring rain to take the computer to the computer hospital (as it was explained to the young folk). I stayed home to try and clean up the mess that was left over from our Halloween sugar fest.  (yes, an egg and peanut free fest)

With the rain pouring down I was able to stay in and get the place in order.  A few hours later they arrived back, and Michael ran into the house excitedly telling me that Daddy had crashed the car.  I asked if Grandpoo somehow caused the accident (it seem as though any time Grampoo gets in the car with Mick something happens.  Last time was a ticket for breaking a red light.  Mick blamed Grampoo for refusing to stop talking and talking and talking.)

Surprisingly enough this time Grampoo seemed blameless for our misfortune.  In the pouring rain the car had slid at about 5 miles an hour into the car in front causing large amounts of damage to the front right side of our car.  Thankfully it could still go, but had no front light or blinker and the front door would not open.  No one was hurt, and Conor was actually asleep, and never even woke up during the incident.  They were able to continue on, take the computer in and somehow make it home safely.  However later in the day Mick went to drive his own car only to discover the brakes were on their last legs and it was barely drivable also.

So, I am about to be kicked out of the library as it is going to close.  In one day we are down two cars and a computer.  On Monday I need to figure out a way to get Conor to the Dr. for his long put off egg challenge.

Sorry there are no exciting pictures to punctuate this fascinating tale of woe.

Wish us luck with eggs......

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Found A New Superhero - Super Epi Pen

In an uncertain world, we all need something to believe in, and I think I have found my new Super Hero.....


Keep an eye up on the skies above. More on this new Super Hero coming soon........

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween with Food Allergies

During those long times I spent watching Michael in time out, I realized that I promised great wisdom on what I do for our family for Halloween here, along with other really great links about how to handle Halloween for your family.

This year I think will be easier then most. Conor just turned 4, and is at that age that he is horribly afraid of everything including the dark, Chuck E Cheese (I am scared of him too though), Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, spiders and those fake plastic fingers. Last year where we used to live everyone went trick or treating at the local mall, (yes, I know this is sad and completely against anything I believe in, but I went ahead and sucked it up I for my children) and Conor was not so scared since of course we were in a mall.

This year we have moved, and it looks as though the local neighborhood is really into creating a fun trick or treating experience. Houses all around us have already put up fake graveyards with bones sticking out of the ground, ghosts, witches, mummys and who knows what else. I figure Conor will make it to maybe our next door neighbor and then insist that he must go home in a terrified screaming horrified fashion that befits Halloween. Michael and Natalie can then continue on with Daddy as necessary.

Now, how I deal with this is really not very exciting, and I have built it up so much I am sure everyone will be terribly disappointed and go......"so..", but here goes. I go out and shop for safe candy, small toys, and one other surprise maybe a toy car, or lip gloss, etc. The children go trick or treating to try and collect enough stuff to trade it all in for their secret pumpkin booty. They have to trade in everything they get, and I keep the new stuff in separate bags, etc. (I always worry that something peanut will leak out onto other stuff.) I also bring a separate bag to remove any obvious peanut stuff from the mix (especially Conor's) so I can keep it as separated out as possible, and tons of wipes just in case. This may have been much easier at a mall then outside in the dark, but it has worked in the past. Then we put aside all the unsafe candy, and Daddy takes it to work in the morning, or we pass it out after the little people have gone to bed.

It is supposed to rain here on Halloween, so who knows what will happen, but that is my plan.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!!!!