Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Play Dates!

My big boy is still at the age where I go with him to play dates. Though he probably would not flinch if I wasn’t there, I’m pretty sure it’s still a year or two away until I can send him out to the real world of play dates where only the hostess supervises. Sending an allergic child off to a play date must be one of the most stressful experiences for parents of allergic kids. How about hosting the allergic kid? Have you thought about this, or experienced this? Personally, I would NEVER do it unless the child is allergic to nuts and or peanuts since my home is entirely peanut/nut free. I started thinking about this topic a few weeks ago when another mom mentioned that she would never host a play date with a child who has a peanut allergy because she keeps peanut butter in her house. She explained that she was simply too nervous to have this responsibility. I don’t blame her, and I completely understand what she was saying. It is a huge responsibility, and I too would not be comfortable with it. I’m curious to know peoples thoughts on this subject; to host or not to host? :) J.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Boys, Boys, Boys!

It’s a boy! Exactly one week late, the newest addition of our family arrived. At 9 lbs 12 oz, he is a big bundle of joy. The big boy loves his baby brother and has adjusted to his new role as a big brother quite well. About an hour after birth, we were taken to our hospital room where a nurse walked in, introduced herself and immediately noticed my red hospital issued allergy bracelet. She looked at it, and commented “I just had a sausage with peanut butter sauce, it was delicious". Keeping in mind that I literally just delivered a baby, I was doing my best to be polite and calm. I explained to her that I am severely allergic, and that I would prefer if she not touch, or be near me considering she just ate peanut butter. She looked at me blankly, and asked when my last allergic reaction was and what exactly happens to me. I told her, and she came closer to me to check the IV. I explained that she should not take it personally, but that I would be more comfortable with a different nurse who has not eaten peanut butter. She continued to hover, and question me, and at this point I was starting to lose it. I politely explained that I would prefer to not continue this conversation. That I just had a baby, I am not comfortable with her, and that I simply want a new nurse. She returned with another nurse who introduced herself as the head nurse for the evening, and with all do respect she was just as useless. She just couldn’t understand why I would want a new nurse. For whatever reason, she was talking about the breakfast menu and how they will ensure it will accommodate my allergy. I told her I have no intention of eating any hospital food anyways, and that this has nothing to do with the food, I simply requested a new nurse because the current nurse had told me she just ate something with peanuts and I didn’t want her to touch or be near me with or without gloves. She then drilled me with allergy questions and my allergy history until I interjected and asked why my request was so difficult and could not simply reassign me to someone else. She finally agreed, and a new nurse was assigned. I was so frustrated that both these nurses just didn’t seem to “get it”. They are health care professionals, I would have assumed they would understand the severity of an allergy and be more understanding towards the situation, especially to someone who just delivered a baby. This experience was a reminder that I must always advocate for myself and be assertive when necessary. :) J.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Someone to worry about

First I would like to apologize for not posting in quite some time. Truth is, I have been busy preparing for the boy’s baby brother or sister who was set to arrive this week but is already fashionably late. The past few weeks have been busy with the boy’s 3rd birthday, wrapping up a renovation project, organizing stuff for the baby, and enjoying some me time. I look back at this pregnancy, and appreciate how much more relaxing it was compared to the first time around when we had just moved into our house, I was attending a post-masters certificate program, I was working in a reassignment job that I hated, and I was literally seeing private clients until 4 days before my due date. This time, I have been off on preventative leave and it did not take long to embrace the non working lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and there were days that I was bored and honestly missed the hustle and bustle, and intellectual stimulation. There is however something to be said about taking my time in the morning to hang with the boy, and having the freedom and flexibility to do groceries during the day without any time constraints is a luxury unlike anything else! In just a few days my life will be completely chaotic again, but I have done my best to prepare for the storm. My freezer is full, and I have at least a 2 months supply of diapers and baby products to avoid those last minute outings I remember all to well from 3 years ago with a shrieking boy who hated his car seat and seemed to be hungry at every intersection on the island! I know I have 6 more months until the baby is introduced to his or her first taste of food, however I am already thinking the worst. The only preventative measure I can take is that I plan to exclusively breastfeed this baby for at least 9 months like I did for the boy, and when he was introduced to formula at 10 months he was given Nutramigen (this brand was recommended by an allergist). I can only hope we will be so lucky to have 2/2 without any allergies. We have still not introduced the boy to peanuts, but since the blood test came back negative I am no longer too worried. Now that he is 3, we are ready to introduce and have a whole plan in place to take him for brunch at a restaurant across the street from the hospital just in case. So, I will do my best to update the blog regularly and I will keep everyone updated. I may even have to rename the boy for the purposes of the blog if I have another boy! : ) J.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Passover starts next week, and I have already begun my preparations. For obvious reasons, Passover is my least favorite holiday in the food department. Over the years, my family has discovered a few repeat worthy desserts that call for nuts, but we simply omit them. For example, the Second Helpings Please “Mocha Nut Squares” have been a family favorite since I was a child (hint-double the recipe and add chocolate chips). Most people stress about their menu, and what to make that tastes good during this holiday, however I find myself more consumed with the ingredients that go into the food.

Many Kosher foods are manufactured in the United States or imported from Israel. This year I noticed that some of the Manishewitz products actually stated “made in a nut free facility”. This is the first time I have seen this, and I commend them for taking this step. Despite the products coming from the USA, I have still made several calls over the past few weeks to explore Chocolate options for baking. Ultimately, it is the Israeli products that really make me nervous because the ingredients are simply translated from Hebrew to English and stuck on with a white mailing label for resell in Canada. I am blogging about this simply to bring this to the attention of people who may be hosting a guest with an allergy. My advice is to read the ingredients carefully and save all the packaging for the guest to read and determine if it is safe for them.

For a list of the Passover nut free options:

Feel free to share any nut free Passover friendly recipes!

: )


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Peanuts and Pregnancy

I was out for dinner with some girlfriends tonight, 3 of us are pregnant, and the fourth has a 3 month old. We were talking about the link between eating peanuts while pregnant to allergies. I was asked if I would eat peanuts during pregnancy if I was NOT allergic to peanuts. I had no answer to this because I have never done any research on the subject and it’s something I never considered.

FYI: (note-This is the abstract for a recent study on this topic)

So for all the moms out there:
Did you eat peanuts while pregnant? Did your child develop an allergy?



Saturday, February 18, 2012


When it comes to my allergy, I have serious trust issues. In recent years there have been more and more companies declaring to be peanut free, egg free, gluten free, milk free etc... I subscribe to the Canadian Food Allergy Inspection Agency (CFIA) service that sends me an email every time there is recall on a food product. I guess I never filtered that I only wanted the peanut/nut emails so I get them all; recalls for listeria, milk, eggs, sulphites, gluten, fish etc… I get at least one email daily. To me that’s a lot of recalls. Sometimes the recalls for nuts/peanuts are related to random products that have mislabeled ingredients. However, I have noticed a higher frequency of recalls on products that are declared to be nut free, milk free etc… It worries me to think that I can be eating something that is “peanut-free” but not. I'm simply putting this out there to remind people with allergies that we always have to be careful and never be too trusting. I call companies all the time to ask about their allergy practises, even when they have the peanut free label.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Grey’s Anatomy

When we started watching Grey’s Anatomy and saw the little girl come into the hospital while having an allergic reaction I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch any further. Obviously, this is a sensitive topic to me, but I don’t think a week has gone by where I have not cried watching Grey’s Anatomy in months. It was hard for me to watch Clementine in so much distress, but she pulled through.

I have a few thoughts of my own about the episode. First, I felt that Niko and Clementine were adorable, and their love story was very cute to watch. As far as the allergy was concerned, I thought it was odd that she was never given an Epipen. It was only after she began to show breathing difficulties that they gave her Epinephrine. I’m not a doctor, but I have always been told to take the Epipen the instant I think I am having an allergic reaction. It seemed surprising that she didn’t have an Epipen on her. Also, I felt Niko’s mothers response to giving Clementine peanut clusters despite her allergy was highly inappropriate (that she is too busy to read the letters and reminders sent home about the peanut allergy). Unfortunately this type of attitude is common, and hopefully having portrayed this on the show will help some people out there realize that maybe they should pay attention to the letters sent home. Overall, I was happy to see the scene. It brings more awareness to the issue, and hopefully people learned a little something while watching.




Saturday, January 28, 2012

My New Phone!

About a month ago, I made the switch to an Iphone. A decision I pondered for months, and do not regret for one second. My phone is an extension of my arm. I am not proud of this, but I do use a lot of airtime! I do my best to not speak on the phone when I am with the boy so that I can give him my full attention, and I only use bluetooth when in the car for safety (and to avoid a ticket!). The phone took some time to get used to, and still I find myself sending the most ridiculous texts and emails because I type too fast and the auto correct changes words.

I don’t use many of the apps, but I have downloaded a few. Namely facebook, scrabble, words with friends, allrecipes, backgammon and cnn. I know there is an app for essentially everything, so I searched for peanut allergies and found a few options. I have not downloaded any of these yet, but some sound useful. The “allergy translator” translates your message about your own or your child’s allergy in pretty much any chosen language. Sounds great for travelling. The other one that seemed useful was “Anaphylactic Allergy Alert”. This app claims to provide first responders with important allergen information (through wallpaper images with a message of your choice). Though I am a firm believer of a medic alert bracelet, that app may serve as a second reminder. There were a few apps for restaurant menus, however I am of the opinion that a menu can change overnight, so I personally would not trust any apps that claim to have detailed menu descriptions with safe and unsafe options. Has anyone tried any allergy apps? Feel free to share any you may have discovered.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Eating at McDonalds is a very rare guilty pleasure that is reserved exclusively for road trips and desperate situations when I am hungry and there are no other suitable safe places around. To be completely honest, I love the fries, and nothing compares to the Chicken Selects (which I think are available in the US only). The boy had McDonalds for the first time a few weeks after he turned 2 while on route to Boston, and now every time he sees a McDonalds he says he wants French Fries!

We were visiting my sister in law and family in New Jersey this past weekend, and stopped in Albany. I immediately noticed that the McFlurry table behind the cashier was covered in topping. Initially I wasn’t sure what the topping was but when I looked up and saw a sign for the all new Reeces Peanut butter McFlurry I was so frustrated. McDonalds took an active step a few years ago to pre-package all the peanuts for the sundaes. If my memory serves me correctly, this was a response to people’s complaints about cross contamination and the risk to allergic people. Also, McDonalds does have a very detailed list of every product and possible allergens that may exist. I have always felt comfortable eating at both the Canadian and American locations because they were essentially peanut free with the exception of the pre-packaged peanuts I mentioned (which I was assured do not even have cross contamination risks with the other food at the factory they are packaged at). I knew a conversation with the manager about the Reeces Peanut Butter McFlurries would go nowhere, so I didn’t bother addressing it. It did not take me long to write McDonalds a letter, and I was extremely disappointed by their response as it did not even address the issue! I wrote back today asking for someone to actually address the content of my letter and I will keep you all posted. But for now this is what I sent and received. Thoughts?

Letter I wrote:
To whom it may concern,
I am writing because I noticed that McDonalds (in Albany New York) is now serving a Peanut Butter Cup McFlurry. I along with thousands of others suffer from a life threatening Peanut Allergy. Until today, McDonalds was one of the only safe 'fast food' options for me. Years ago, a switch was made and the peanuts went from being in open bins, to individual plastic bags. My understanding is the switch was a response to cross contamination issues and at the time I was impressed with McDonalds response to the growing number of children with Peanut allergies. Today I observed there to be Reese’s peanut butter pieces all over the counter, and the cashier immediately touched boxes of food after preparing a McFlurry.

I am writing to request that McDonalds consider removing this menu item. I live in Canada, and as far as I am aware, the Canadian menu does not contain the peanut butter McFlurries. However for the thousands of children in the USA with a peanut allergy AND their entire family, eating at McDonalds will no longer be an option. These kids won't understand why one day they were having a happy meal, and the following they cannot even enter the premises. It is my hope that this request will be taken seriously as McDonalds to some degree is a part of most American kid’s lives, and children with peanut allergies already have so many limitations to deal with when it comes to eating out. Sincerely, Jennifer

Reply from McDonalds:
Hello Jennifer,
Thank you for contacting McDonald's about food safety. We appreciate receiving your comments and welcome the opportunity to share some information with you.

McDonald's potato products, such as french fries and hash browns, are prepared in the same fryers. McDonald's beef, chicken, fish and pork products are prepared in distinct and separate sections of the restaurant food preparation area. McDonald's has rigorous food preparation standards in place to ensure the food safety and quality of the products. McDonald's stringent practices deliver great tasting, high quality products our customers enjoy.

To obtain the most current, accurate and comprehensive information about allergens, as well as nutrition and ingredients, go to
McDonald's has rigorous standards in place to ensure the food safety and quality at every step of our supply chain -- starting with the farm all the way to the front counter. These systems and processes enable McDonald's to serve high quality, great tasting products every day at 14,000 restaurant across the U.S.

We hope this information helps you. We look forward to serving you again under the Golden Arches. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us in the future. Again, thank you for contacting McDonald's.