Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Food allergies and teal pumpkins

I can completely sympathize and relate to those with food allergies, or other mamas that have kids with food allergies. My oldest daughter has struggled with food allergies since she was born. The first diagnosis of a milk, egg, peanut and tree nut allergy was tough to comprehend. What? My child can't drink milk, isn't that essential to a growing child's body?! Oh, not only can she not drink it, but it can't be used in any form in any of the foods that she eats?! 

I probably took this news much better than most parents. While I was going through college I was a substitute teacher at a daycare. One of the little boys that I always had in my classes was allergic to milk. We aren't talking lactose intolerant but allergic to milk protein. I got use to what he was allowed and not allowed to have at breakfast, snack and lunch. I learned to read labels just to ensure that what I was giving him was 100% safe. I learned a lot about food allergies from my job as a daycare worker. I saw kids with all kinds of allergies - corn, strawberries, blue dye, nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat - the list goes on and on. It was a common occurrence to walk into a new room and the first thing I would do was determine who had a food allergy and what that food allergy was. I guess it made sense that my first child would be born with food allergies. I was prepared. 

The one thing I wasn't prepared for was how unprepared and unaware other parents, adults, teachers, babysitters, etc were about food allergies. We interviewed new sitters, I always brought up that we had a child with severe food allergies. One lady said "So if she can't eat mac & cheese or pb&j what does she eat?". I was shocked. Not only did this lady not know what good nutrition was, but she really couldn't fathom what my child would be eating on a daily basis. I ran into this a lot. "She can't have anything with milk in it? How about some M&Ms?" I wasn't prepared to have to teach every person who encountered my child how to read labels, that yes milk chocolate really contains milk, the difference between lactose intolerant and a milk protein allergy. It was overwhelming. 

Luckily we've moved on from those days. Everyone in our family knows how to use an Epi-Pen and knows to administer Benadryl at the first sign of a reaction. I personally stocked each person's house with an Epi-Pen and Benadryl so there would be no option of "we don't have that on hand, sorry". We were fortunate to have her cleared of her milk allergy at age 6, but her peanut & tree nut allergies have continued to worsen. Each accidental exposure makes the reactions worse. The biggest struggle we still face is holidays.

Halloween is a big deal at our house. It's all about candy, pumpkins, scary stuff and having fun. The candy is the issue. I use to keep extra candy (smarties, lollipops, hard candies) on hand so once she returned from trick-or-treating she could turn in her allergy filled candies for something she could actually eat. Now at 7 she can spot a safe candy item in a bowl and make that choice, but there are still people who only hand out Snickers, Peanut M&Ms and Almond Joys  (those seem to be most popular in our neighborhood) so she has a choice to make. Does she take the candy she can't eat and give it to her parents or does she walk away with nothing? Either way she loses. 

I was so happy when I came across the Teal Pumpkin Project. FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has started this campaign to get people to have non-food items available during Halloween. This way when a child with a food allergy - no matter what allergy that is - arrives at your door they can be offered a small trinket/toy instead of something potentially life threatening. This idea is not to replace candy for those kids who can have it, it is to offer an alternative to those who cannot have the candy. To show trick-or-treaters that you are participating, place a teal painted pumpkin by your door and consider hanging up this sign.
Together we can make this a safe and fun holiday for all kids. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Embracing fall + what we are eating this week

We had the most perfect weather this weekend so of course we spent most of our weekend outside enjoying the fall weather.
Saturday while the Daddy person was at work, the girls and I met up with some friends at a U-Pick Apple Orchard. They also had u-pick pumpkins available. There were about 20 varieties of apples available and we could pick them right off the trees or find ones that had fallen to the ground. Then we explored the 1.5 acre pumpkin field. Pumpkins of every shape, color and size were available for picking. Once we made our selections I told the owner that I had a pumpkin problem - I wanted them all! We ended up with 5 pumpkins, 6 mini pumpkins/gourds, a ton of apples and a spaghetti squash for $30. 
Then on Sunday, since it was so nice again we made our way to Salamonie Reservoir to go hiking. We spent almost 3 hours hiking around the woods - it was perfect! My SIL, niece and nephew came along.
There's a lot going on this week, so I kept out meal plan fairly basic. 
MONDAY - October 27:
Pancakes, eggs and bacon - breakfast for dinner is always a winner!

TUESDAY - October 28:
Tacos - you can't go wrong with tacos and refried beans

WEDNESDAY - October 29: 
Swimming lessons start tonight so we are keeping it low key with a Salad Bar. Set everything out, everyone makes their own salad, everyone is happy! :)

THURSDAY - October 30:
Chicken Alfredo - I'm cheating and having the Stouffer's help me out with this one 

FRIDAY - October 31: 
Happy Halloween! Can't let dinner get in the way of getting candy so I'm allowing this to be a divided night. Mac & Cheese for the kids and I'm thinking Chinese for the parents :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shop like a blogger - buy from a blogger

I love to see when my favorite bloggers take a risk and start up something that they are passionate about. I love to see all their creative ideas! Many of my favorites have ventured in to the world of making some of the best shirts around. So I decided I should share the love and showcase a few of my favorite purchases and a few that are on my wishlist!

IWYP by Whitney Ellen
Whitney cracks me up on the weekly on her blog, I Wore Yoga Pants to Work. She has some of the best one liners on her blog and she turned a few of her sayings into amazing shirts. Did I mention you also get a matching coozie with every shirt purchase? Amazing!

Venus Trapped in Mars Fan Shop by Sarah
Sarah's blog keeps me up-to-date on everything sports - if I lived in Dallas I'm sure we'd be friends! Not only does she nail the sports thing every time, she is an incredible designer. Her blog designs & prints can be found in her etsy shop, but my favorite lies in her witty shirts available in her Fan Shop.

The Modern Tulip Boutique by Maegen
Not only is Maegen the cutest pregnant blogger I follow but she started up her own shop to sell pieces that she truly loves. 

Heart & Arrow Design by Whitney Blake
Whitney's designs make me want to keep track of everything and decorate every wall with her super cute prints. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for the holidays; I may not be able to resist! 

Two Thirds Hazel by Erin Gray
Erin's blog is one my favorites to check in on. Her design skills always wow me and I was excited that she took the plunge to start selling her prints. I can't wait to see what new prints she comes up with next.
Simply Sun Signs by Desiree Roby
I love astrology and Desiree has taken it to a whole new level. Not only does she offer personalized chart readings, but she has adorable tanks and WINE! 
Who are some of your favorite bloggers turned shop owners? I'd love to check them out and support those in search of their dream.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Meal Planning Continues!

I'm happy to report that I have carried on the meal planning for this week. This is a great way to try new recipes and make sure that we don't get stuck in a dinner rut.

MONDAY - October 20: 
Spaghetti with Garlic Bread and Broccoli - a family favorite!

TUESDAY - October 21:
Double Decker Taco Cupcakes  - I've had this one pinned for awhile & we are finally going to try it out. I hope it turns out well or Taco Night will be a bust!

WEDNESDAY - October 22:
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice - Pinterest is helping me out this week, as I've had this one pinned for awhile too.

THURSDAY - October 23:
Turkey & Cheese Melts with peppers & carrots

FRIDAY - October 24:
Homemade Pizza - another family favorite! We make our own dough which will make two 9x13 dishes of pizza so the kids get to top one while the parents get to top the other. Win-win!

Both girls start swimming lessons next week on Wednesday nights so this should make meal planning even more essential. I feel the slow cooker becoming more and more necessary.

What's your plan for the week? Anything tasty on the menu?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meal Planning

Why haven't I jumped on the meal planning bandwagon sooner?! My evenings are so much less chaotic and I'm pretty sure I'm spending less at the grocery on a weekly basis - that makes for a win in my book. Oh and I can actually plan healthy meals so I'm not sabotaging myself with unhealthy meals on the go. Here's what we are eating this week:

MONDAY: Oct 13
Stuffed Shells with green veggie side - I made double the shells and froze a batch (I love freezer meals!). I normally wouldn't make sure an involved meal on a weekday but I prepped everything Sunday afternoon so all I have to do is pop it in the oven when I get home.

Taco Bar - the kids love making their own tacos, all I have to do is lay out all the fixings!

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (with a pickle on the side) - this is a family favorite and it's perfect for fall.

Sub sandwiches with broccoli salad - it's BINGO night at school, so we needed this to be quick and easy. I'll probably assemble the broccoli salad the night before so all I have to do is add the dressing.

FRIDAY: Oct 17
Fiesta Ranch Burgers with crinkle cut fries and leftover broccoli salad

Do you meal plan? For busy families I highly recommend it! How do you decide what makes the meal plan each week?