Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maybe it's just a stage

Maybe it's just a stage or maybe it's the development of a habit for life but either way there are things I do as a mum now that I never thought I'd do. Maybe you do these too, or more likely you have other things you do to make life a little easier or a little less crazy for you and your family.

First, our son watches a crazy amount of TV while eating. Basically he eats breakfast, lunch and dinner in front of the TV. All the books say you should not do this, it encourages future obesity, it's a time for family blah blah blah. Well, this is my reasoning: Our son is still on the very low percentiles for weight, so any extra little bit of food I can get into him is a bonus. Bring on mindless eating! Bring on dairy-free chocolate, bring on spoonfuls of nuttelex. Strapping him to a chair is a bonus because he's not moving, thus more likely to put on weight. He's on the go pretty much the rest of the time, so no qualms about this aspect. Plus, we've tried eating occasionally with him, but all he wants is to taste our food - who can blame him on his restricted diet? So there you go, I've reasoned away my guilt and happily go about my laundry, washing up, ironing etc while he's strapped in and eating away. The bonus too is that he loves Playschool and has learned that much from the shows it's scary.

Let's see, the second treasure idea I've had is also food related. I've started cooking hot breakfasts for him on most days. By doing this, I make sure he has a good amount of protein and carbs at the start of the day. I'm mostly still in pyjamas so I don't care that it does take a bit longer. The positive side is that once I know he's had one good meal, I'm not nearly as stressed at lunch time. This gives me a freedom to go out and about later that morning and our son munches on whatever I have packed for the day. But there's no more need to sit down with a full meal at lunch. Then at dinner, it's another cooked meal. Now, if your child isn't super skinny, there's no way you would go to this trouble. But, if you're trying to get them to put on weight, then getting frustrated at brekki because they won't eat cereal, then stressing at lunch because you're not sure if they're going to like what you've got... it all leads to headaches, wasted food and wasted energy. Of course if your child has more interesting options for food, then this probably isn't going to worry you as much. For allergy parents... it's all about food.

So these are my two things... so far. What about you? What tricks and shortcuts do you take that you didn't expect to take? Does it work? Is it worth it?

Maybe this is just a stage... time will tell :-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Proud allergy mum cartoon

Here's a link to another food allergy blog called FoodAllergyFun which provides a little bit of fun and another way of looking at things. Thanks Tiffany.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shopping headaches

It's been ages since I've gone out with our son to do shopping. This is a good and bad thing. I've started home deliveries of fruit and veg, as well as deliveries of meat and fish from Aussie Farmer's Direct ever since returning to work part time. I definitely recommend this for the busy people out there, although it does force you to be a little creative when you get herbs and large bunches of celery every now and then.

Anyway, I decided to go shopping the other day - just to pick up a few things from the local shopping center. Our son was securely strapped into a pram, I had a number of yummy treats and even bought another motorcycle sticker book we happened to see along the way. Went into the health store to find a new treat I'd seen another mum have. Also thought I'd buy another bottle of calcium supplements since our boy is getting very very sick of his soy milk. Simple right?

We're at the counter, paying for it all, when I look down and realise our little treasure has reached out to the rows of colourful goats milk soap handily available at the checkout. I quickly swing the pram around to keep things our of reach, put the life-threatening bar of soap back and dive into my bag in search of ever ready baby wipes. "Yes, credit thanks... no just a signature..." while I frantically wipe his hands clean, trying to see any signs of rash or reaction.

Then, when we leave the shop and our son is insisting on a "robot" supplement, I open the bottle then realise I've bought the wrong tablets.

Ah, now I remember why I've stopped trying to do the shopping with our son in tow...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan and other tragedies

My heart cries for all the lives lost in the destruction of Japan's earthquake and tsunamis. I can't imagine so many lives lost in such an instant, nor can I understand what it is like to be surrounded with such devastation. As I watch on TV, my mind wanders to what would we be like in such an event?

There was one time when the local council forgot to pick up our rubbish bins and it took them an extra 2 or 3 days before they came around. I was amazed at how much rubbish accumulated and how suddenly we had to put plastic bags next to our bins. The street looked appalling, with the threat of crows pulling apart bags looking for food. So quickly, the delay of an otherwise reliable council service could result in decline in hygiene and order in the most affluent of societies. So imagine what it would be like if that service was simply delayed or suspended for a week all over the city?

Then I imagine what life would be like without electricity and running water? How would we survive? What would we feed our highly allergic son? What if we had to live in an emergency center where they cook all the food for you and cross-contamination would be inevitable? I remember the news reports from New Zealand after their earthquakes, and how people were told not to use toilets, but bury it outside. How quickly disease would spread, and how vulnerable our son would be!

So then I contemplate stocking my cupboards with canned foods and cylinders of gas for our camping cooker. I wonder whether we should really buy more nappies and wipes, should the shop ever run out?

Truly, the lives we live are privileged beyond belief!

The unknowns in life are too many to count. We cannot prepare for everything, nor can we prevent all these things. At some point, we must admit, we are not able to fully protect our families and we are even less able to fully protect our kids who have severe allergies. At some point, we must come to a point of faith, where we trust and believe in a God who knows our every need, who knows our son's allergies and more. Can we trust him to save us from all earthly peril? Well no, we cannot, nor does he promise to do that. But we can trust him to save us from death eternal, and should any of us have our earthly lives cut short, we can also trust that there is life beyond what we see and hear. We can also trust that no life nor death, nor any other thing can separate us from the love of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you know that love? Does it bring peace in your heart in the midst of all the chaos? Does it also fill you with a compassion and a desire to help and love others beyond human decency?

... these are the more important questions to be asking... or rather answering...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Turning 2 - Birthday party time

Exhausting... that's a word for it! A week on from the main event and we're still recovering!

Yup, lots and lots of work, but once a year, we can probably do it. When we eventually have more kids? I think we'll have to rethink the whole caper!

One thing that has definitely struck me though - when we go to other people's homes for parties, my husband and I are on constant watch. For instance, the last party we went to, there was a child wandering around holding a cracker with cream cheese on it. She was licking the cheese off every so slowly, wandering in and out of the house. I was watching her, watching our son, and watching everything she touched. I didn't know the family, so didn't feel comfortable saying anything. Anyway, for our son's party, there were dangerous foods about, but all the adults know about his allergies and it felt like everyone was on the look out for him. There was still vigilance on our part, but the party was significantly more enjoyable.

Enough about me... let's hear more about the party!

Here it is... the motorbike cake. Topped with a little Lego man - our poor son saw his new toy sitting on top of the birthday cake and you had to physcially restrain him from grabbing it right off! The best bit: He sang the Happy Birthday song to himself, complete with Hip Hip Hooray... gorgeous!

This is what the traffic light jellies started off looking like:

 And then at some point our son decided that he really wanted the green jelly...

Success? Well, we got to celebrate our son turning two with lots of family and friends. By the end of the day, he did have a rash on his face from a platter of fruit I had left out - thinking back, why oh why did I have to put rockmelon on a platter of fruit when I could have just used fruits he was ok with? Who knows. But in the end, we washed off the rockmelon and our son made it through the day.

Everyday he wakes up now asking "Birthday Party?" and "more presents?" ... afterall, if you could, wouldn't you?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dried Fruit - peanut free, tree nut free, dairy free, sesame free

Dried fruit has been great for special occasions and other emergencies. Our son loves all of these and it's handy to keep in the bag, and especially if we go out to a cafe and need a special treat to keep him sitting still a little bit longer. Here's a list of dried fruit that we've tried and had reasonable success with:

Raisins and sultanas are often the first dried fruit you try. Coles Australian Sultanas come in handy snack packs and don't have traces of any of those nasties. Our son absolutely loves them, but they don't seem to digest fully and I often get some coming out the other end. That probably is also because our son swallows them so quickly and forgets to chew!

Golden Days Fruit Poles - Two fruits (apple and pear) - these get gobbled up a little too quickly, but they are yummy.

Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps - I've tried strawberry and banana. These are actually nice and crunchy, rather than chewy. They are freeze-dried, retaining more taste and texture. These are so nice, I'm currently using them as my toilet-training treat. I'm sure some of the other flavours would also be good.

An interesting article I read the other day suggested that stonefruit such as apricots, peaches etc are related to tree nuts (which is essentially the seed). This actually does make sense to me and reinforces my stance so far that our boy will probably be allergic if not anaphylactic to these fruits. The positive side? More cherries for me!

One warning post too - don't eat too much dried fruit at one sitting followed by a lot of liquid. The fruit will swell up in your belly creating considerable pain (so my inlaws tell me after their own experience).