Wow, where has the time gone? I’m so sorry for being MIA the past several weeks. Things have been incredibly busy for so many reasons; vacation, IEP meetings and testing, sports, and many other obligations resulting from having lots of little kids under one roof. I have found there just isn’t enough time, so if for some reason it seems as though I dropped off the face of the earth, not returning emails and writing posts, please bear with me. Some times it just has to be until I get my head screwed back on!
Here’s what has been going on in a readers digest version:
VACATION: Our entire family of 7 took a much-needed vacation to Scottsdale, Arizona for spring break. It was warm, beautiful and mostly relaxing. I have to say that the food allergy part always throws a wrench into some of our plans, but overall everything worked out just fine. Both flights were non eventful; we showed up early, brought our own food and sat on the plane with no worries at all. Of course I had several packs of Epi Pens in my carry on so I felt pretty good about being prepared in the event of an emergency. Even baby Michael did pretty well for each flight. We stayed in a condo, a must if you have a large family and if you have food allergies. We cooked most of our own meals at home, and it saved a ridiculous amount money, worry and stress. The vacation revolved very little around food in general, and more about the experiences together.
IEP SEASON: For those of you that don’t know what an IEP is, it is an Individualized Educational Plan, a state mandated document that outlines and lists the educational goals and accommodations for children who have learning challenges, etc. I have three children with IEP’s and one with a 504 Plan, so the spring season is usually pretty stressful for me personally. In addition to the normal IEP meetings, my kids are up for their three-year reevaluation, which basically means a lot of additional testing to determine their eligibility. It’s a long and somewhat stressful process, and one I never look forward too. In fact, I just had conferences for three of my kids last Friday, and I usually walk away reminded of the fact that our educational path isn’t the typical one, nor is it easy. Advocating for them in school is one of the most important ways I can spend my time. All children have various learning styles, challenges and gifts, and it is important that their spirit is never broken because they learn “differently”. As I often tell my kids, there is always a solution to every problem.
GO FOR THE GOLD: This month I had the good fortune to present a nutritional workshop to two classes of first graders in Chicago as part of Michelle Obama’s Go For the Gold campaign for healthier eating in schools. Check out the link to find out more information, perhaps there is something you can take back to your own schools. I’ve always found that the best way to promote change in food policies at schools is to approach it from a wide-reaching perspective; increased childhood obesity, higher numbers of children with ADHD, diabetes and food allergies, all whom could truly benefit from healthier eating at school. Another great organization to get on board with is Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. They are tackling the food issue in schools and working hard to limit the amount of icky processed food that is being served to kids all over the country. Better food policies at school in general is a must. Kids rely on us to look out for them and their general well-being. Serving healthier food is an important part of that equation.
FAAN CONFERENCE CHICAGO: I was fortunate to attend FAAN’s amazing and powerful food allergy conference in Oak Brook, IL this past Saturday. I also presented an Allergen Free Baking Workshop which was LOADS of fun. I LOVED meeting so many of you, hearing your stories and answering your questions. Every year I attend, I am astounded by the amount of new information I learn, and inspired by all the incredible stories I hear from FA parents all over the country. If you live on the West Coast, consider attending the June 11th Anaheim conference. FAAN did a stellar job as usual, and we should all be so grateful that there are fabulous organizations like FAAN supporting all of us and our FA children.
GLUTEN AND ALLERGEN FREE EXPO CHICAGO (APRIL 29-MAY 1ST): If you live even remotely close to the Chicago area, this event is not to be missed. There are going to be so many fabulous vendors, authors, and speakers from all over the country sharing their products and expertise. I personally can’t wait to see all the cool chefs and authors (see the full rundown here). I will also be one of the presenters (though I’d hardly call myself a chef!) on Saturday, April 30th at 11:45am. I will be doing a demo on Allergen Free Parties. Hope to see many of you there!
Finally, I just came across this story today, and am sure many of you may be as well. As with all the other recent stories of a child dying from a food allergic reaction, this one hit me just as hard. I cried, and felt every muscle in my body ache. It is such a helpless, sad and terrifying feeling that confirms our fear and reality; our children could die if they eat the wrong food, if they have a life threatening reaction, if they don’t happen to have their medicine on them, or in this case, the medicine wasn’t administered fast enough. My heart breaks for this family. The minute I read the story, I wanted to reach out to my son John at school and give him the biggest hug I could. I wanted to look into his big brown eyes and freckled face, and tell him how much I love him, and how grateful I am to be his mother. I’ve experienced great loss in my life, but I NEVER want to know THAT kind of pain….the loss of your child. I am praying for this family and their friends, and pray their hearts and souls recover and mend, though I don’t know how that is possible. Until we find a cure, this is the fear that drives me to do whatever I can each day to raise awareness and keep our kids safe. NEVER apologize for that, to your schools, teachers, principals, other family members, whomever. Do whatever you have to do to keep your child safe.
I hope you all have a blessed Easter with your families.