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There is a new development in our continuing family allergy adventure. Our son has had some asthma type attacks since last August. We’ve been working closely with the doctor trying to track environment and symptoms while attempting to find treatment for the actual asthma type episodes. He has not really responded to natural or conventional treatments.

20140309_095059Then we had an unexpected and curious break through. I asked my mom to keep the kids at our own house for a day (rather than watching them at her house). I thought the kids could use the “down” time and even experience possibly fewer allergens. Grandpa has a dog and they have different trees and plants at their house, you know. My mom told me part way through the day that he was breaking out in a rash. I dismissed it thinking he’d eaten something and it was his typical nickel rash that she was talking about.

When I got home and saw him, I understood why my mom was letting me know he was breaking out. This was new and strange! It looked a lot like hives to me. He seemed mildly bothered by them. He didn’t scratch as long as he was occupied on other things.

Serendipitously, this was at our house! His most “controlled” and familiar environment.  I didn’t waste any time wondering and secretly blaming my mom’s house or dog or pine needles or dust or….I was able to start thinking right away of possible causes. All his foods had been normal and stable. I started noting and thinking of other symptoms. Of course, I alerted the doctor of this newest development too.

After a while I began to suspect, like myself, he was reacting to seasonal allergies (aka pollen).  I used to occasionally get hives too. So, the new question was how to treat this type of allergy. Is it something in our yard we can rip out? What if it’s in the neighbor’s yard? What if it’s too abundant to eliminate from our home environment? I mean, we do live in the Pacific Northwest! We have lots and lots of plants and trees and flowers.

The doctor asked us to try Benadryl for the hives. This was mostly to check that they were hives and it was a histamine response.  It also made for a very very grumpy boy the next day. Benadryl has all types of corn products swimming around in that pink syrup. Our family did not want this to be regular treatment. So we tried the homeopathic hay fever medicine that works well for my husband and I. It seemed to help.

This got us thinking even more. Every single symptom leading up to his asthma type attacks could be pollen allergy. The pieces were starting to fit together!  We now really think this is what causes his breathing issues. We have been able to control it with the homeopathic medicine and more recently with a supplement from the doctor. We’re finding the supplement works as a daily stabilizing factor. We now only use the homeopathic stuff when a symptom flares dramatically. I truly think we’ve recently avoided a breathing episode. He started to show symptoms. We tried these new treatments and they resolved.

I also found a website  www.pollen.com. It shows you the pollen levels in your area and offers a way to track your own symptoms. I’ve been tracking his symptoms with this and there seems to be a correlation.

Once again I’m amazed at all the tiny, seemingly unrelated, pieces God has place into our lives to make it all work out!

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My kids and I just hosted a play date today. It went well! One goal of the play date was to introduce some new foods to my daughter’s playmate. We thought that maybe seeing a peer eat something would encourage her to try it too. I think it worked! She eventually tried a couple things and we’ve shared some recipes and shopping tips.

This seems like a good time to post about our desire to be a helpful website and a helpful family. We feel like we’ve been liberated from food in such a profound way, we’d like to help others as they make their own journey. If our trials, shopping habits, Internet research, and experiences can be helpful to anyone we are so happy to share and help.

If you know us, and want to begin a journey like this, please let us know and we’ll happily help you connect to the right doctors, grocery stores, and information. If you don’t know us, reach out via this website and we can still share knowledge via comments or email.

*Sorry for the photo quality, my husband had the ‘real’ camera out at a job this morning so I had to use my cell phone.

 

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disaster kits

Kids’ School Disaster Kits

So there are a couple ways to plan for disasters. The first way was taught to me as a young child growing up in earthquake prone, southern California. This is when regions know their risks and plan as best the can on the family, community, school, and city levels. This is when families and schools stockpile enough food, water, and first aid supplies to survive unassisted for 3 days.

Another way is to plan for more of an economical or political disasters. This is when families and small communities stockpile food for months and develop ways to access energy and fuel and create farms and barter systems.

As I consider  the first type of planning, the type I’m personally most familiar with, and my families needs, I’ve come (sadly) to a screeching halt. I think where I’ve landed is not really changing anything. If it’s really as bad as “all that” then let’s survive and not worry so much about a rash or grumpy moods or achy joints or loose bowels, or….I mean really, we’re talking about survival. And just for days or weeks until the region recovers. This has also made me think of families with more severe reactions. How do they plan??

As my in-laws have consider the second type of disaster planning, they have graciously stockpiled allergy friendly staples for our family. They are thinking more in terms of months or years and then things like rashes, bad moods and loose bowels are more of a concern. This is especially concerning if you consider access to medical care could then be compromised as well. These are scarier thoughts for me. Though the more I understand my family’s needs, the more I know we can face just about anything. Even long term disasters.

How has your family prepared?

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On the way to school this morning my daughter and I were talking about something (if I ever remember what started our conversation I’ll edit this post). She wanted to know if the “something” existed in Grandma’s land (meaning Oregon). I told her yes, that it was even in Germany while we were there.

20140120_111420-001She told me she wants to visit Germany some day. I told her we really hope to take her some day. She then said, “Oh, mom, we’ll need to bring our own food though.” I’m so proud of her for so casually remembering her needs and including that in her travel plans! It was expressed with the same amount of thought that  most people would use for something like, “Oh, we’ll need to wear cothes.” So proud!

Then I told her that the food in Germany is safe. When we visited, we learned that Germany doesn’t use “grumpy” ingredients in all their food and that it was safe for Daddy so it’s safe for her. She got so excited and said, “that means we can eat a cookie while we’re in Germany!” I told her yes.

Then I teared up. Partly with pride and partly with that type of anger that  makes you cry. Why the CRAP does our country still allow the food industry to poison our nation?! Why do so many Americans have to be SO careful when shopping and eating out? It was simple in Germany. We read everything still, but quickly realized it was just for peace of mind. The food was safe. I’ve been looking into England too, as we hope to go sometime in the next year, and it seems their food standards are similar to Germany’s. The European Union (EU) forbids many things the US uses.

I don’t know what the answer is for the US. I know there are movements out there making this more obvious for the general public and the law makers. I know families, like ours, are quietly taking care of themsleves and figuring out how to feed themselves. I also know I’m not a “movement” type person, certainly not a movement leader. I know I’m so proud of our daughter for already understanding and knowing how to work within her nations flawed food industry.

Okay, enough political type talk.

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This is a phenomenon that has been happening with some frequency since we discovered all the family allergies and it amuses me each time! Before any family get together, potluck, or other mealtime together with other people I get a text like this:

chocolatechip-text“Can you eat this?” or “Can _______ eat this?” Now, depending on the event and the food in question my answers vary, but there are only a few options. I will typically answer “yes” (especially for my sister who has figured it out the most) or “no. I’ll bring our own.” or “no and it’s okay, they won’t miss it.”

Once again, I’m so thankful we are living with this in the age of technology. How easy to answer these questions!

 

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Well, it wasn’t planned, but I guess I took a break for the month of December to prepare for Christmas. It was a good time for our family. The kids’ school had some fun projects and was very good about giving us advance warning to prepare suitable and similar alternatives. Both kids classrooms made Gingerbread Men. I had nice results modifying “this” recipe like “this”.  I had the best results using the oat flour. The rice flour worked too but it was a fluffier gingerbread man.

Our daughter makes me so proud, so often, but she had a couple shining moments during Christmas prep at school. When she made (and ate before coming home) her Gingerbread Man, she told me later that she liked the toppings I provided and her very favorite was the fruit leather I chopped up. There’s no fooling her! And she liked it! She has such a wonderful attitude about her special foods. Another moment was during a field trip to the Math and Science Fair at the local college. She made many winter crafts, including decorated sugar cookies. She had a grand time decorating 2 cookies and then told her teacher she’s not allowed to eat them because they are “grumpy” cookies. Before we left school for the day she passed out her two cookies to 2 classmates because they can eat them. There is that amazingly wonderful attitude again! She was so happy just to participate. The experiences mean more to her than the food. I’m so proud, happy and relieved!

Our son has never known anything besides modified foods, so he takes it all in stride. He also has a great attitude about it all. His teachers are great about checking in with me about special snacks and projects. When he made his Gingerbread Man, he apparently viewed it as an art project. He brought it home and so proudly presented his creation. He never wanted to eat it. Again, I am so thankful he does not mind his special food and even enjoys it.

 

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We are having 2 separate family dinners this year. One on Thursday and one on Friday.  It is a potluck style at each, so every family unit contributes to the larger family dinner. Each family is very respectful and accommodating of our allergies (and has their own) so it’s somewhat fun to plan these meals.

I have been thinking about Thanksgiving “pre allergy” and have realized one more thing I am thankful for! I actually like the food at Thanksgiving now. I used to eat just 2-3 items, now I can fill my plate. I find this both pleasant and a little ironic. Who says we’re “restricted”?!

This weekend is full of shopping, prepping and then some final preparations that will take place Wednesday. I hope to post some recepies next week from our Thanksgiving menu, as well as give an update about the festivities.

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Well, it’s not so much World Travel as to just one different region in the world. My husband and I recently went to Germany for a wedding and left the kids with Grandma and Grandpa. It was a fantastic trip and we learned a few things about food.

First, I planned all the kids’ meals for the week we were gone and stocked Grandma and Grandpa’s cupboards with all the necessary ingredients. They were well taken care of and did very well while we were gone. Also, I baked some cookies and packed a few snacks for the plane trip, knowing we wouldn’t be able to eat much of what was offered in flight.

I had decided as long as my husband and I avoided foods that would require we stay very near a restroom, and foods that are mood altering, that we’d just suffer any consequences for other allergens. Basically that meant we were avoiding just corn and dairy while on this trip. This was far easier than we’d ever imagined!

With the help of our friends, my own rudimentary German, and Google Translate we checked many food labels and there just isn’t corn (hidden or overt) in the food there! This leads to more questions about why we have so much here and what will need to happen to curb this unhealthy obsession we have with corn. The dairy was present, but almost always offered as something I could add myself, not already added to the food. This made the trip quite enjoyable and much easier than we’d thought.

I had sore joints for a week or so upon returning home (from all the wheat I consumed) and I had a mild stuffy nose and the occasional mild headache while there. The nose and headache could have been food related, or simply travel related. I’m not sure which. Given a little more time to plan, I’m sure I could have found my gluten free alternatives and been even more comfortable. We plan to return to Europe with the kids in a few years and I am greatly encouraged that eating safely will be much easier than while traveling within the U.S.

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I know, it’s October and I’m finally writing about our summer vacation.

We hiked Bryce Canyon and Zion with some friends from Germany this summer. This was a wonderful trip. We had a great time! It did take some planning and creative thinking.

DSC_0493First, our family can’t wear sunscreen. Everything we’ve found on the market has corn and/or sunflower oil on it. When we skin tested early in the summer we realized the kids do react to to it in the sunscreen. Caleb likely does too, and how could I possible snuggle, dole out snacks and just be around the kids without transfering sunscreen from me to them? So we embarked on a mission to find wraps, scarves, long sleeves, long pants and skirts so that we could “wear” the kids and have all 4 of us covered. We did it with some help from friends!

Next, we had to plan our hot weather hiking. We can’t do the typical electrolyte replacement drinks. So I learned that for us, water, honey, raisins, oranges, salty nuts, and salty chips would do the same thing. So we packed all those types of things with us to snack on while hiking.

Finally, we had to eat meals while we were there! Before choosing an airport, we checked for Trader Joes and Whole Foods  Markets near by. We ended up flying through Las Vegas and stopped at both those stores on our way out of town. We got plenty of fruits, veggies, and some chips. We were then able to find plain chicken for evening meals with our friends.

We did it! We  had a great time and no one got exceptionally grumpy, rashy or sick!

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I am so thankful for my husband’s support in this venture. I am glad he watches what he eats so that we can remain a peaceful, balanced family. I am thankful he is careful about what the kids eat so we can remain a peaceful, balanced family. I am thankful that he really shares the food shopping, preparing and cooking with me. This has been a monumental task and learning experience. I am so thankful he has been supportive throughout.

If you  are needing support or help, I strongly suggest you think about what specifically would help you, and then politely and boldly ask someone you trust for that help. It might make all the difference it getting over the hardest part(s) of modifying your diet!