Food Allergy Struggles + Ways to Gift
When Jonas moved from baby to all-knowing three year old this holiday was by far the hardest for me. I could find special dairy-free treats for him but I wanted the quintessential heart-shaped box full of lovely surprise-filled chocolates. We finally discovered two companies online that we could order from! Lagustas Luscious and No Whey Chocolates. There are several others options out there that look amazing, but I have personally ordered from these sites and had good experiences with both. Jonas also approves of both. He recommends the "Box of Hearts" from Lagustas or the "Heart Truffle Box" from No Whey. The endless searching for things Jonas could eat taught me a magic word for those with dairy-allergies or those just trying to avoid dairy products in general...are you ready for it? Vegan!! Yeah...it was a "duh" moment, but once we started using that in the search bar it really helped us find a lot more options. The products I mentioned on Episode 2 are staples in our home and can really be substituted in almost every recipe I've tried. Our grocery store just got almond based yogurt which I'm pretty sure will be a perfect sour cream substitute (since there are still no sour cream options without soy and odd ingredients available to us ) and can't wait to experiment with that. We still struggle with a cheese alternative. All of our other substitutes have been very easy to "acclimate" to the slight difference in taste, however cheese isn't one of them. Jonas is happy with the Daiya brand and a great thanks goes out to Mellow Mushroom for offering that option. It really is a great cheese that melts and stretches similar to conventional cheese, but for those of us who are hard-core pizza eaters (on cheat days...or cheat weekends) it's just not the same. So if you guys have found the secret to vegan cheese made from mostly real ingredients without soy...please share the love!! For children with severe allergies, food can sometimes be scary for them. Please don't be offended if they (or even paranoid mommas on edge) "reject" something you've made or purchased for them. It isn't that they are ungrateful for the gift. They really do want the freedom that most of us take for granted to just grab a beautiful or yummy treat and pop in their mouth without thinking, but many struggle with a very real fear that a food could cause them great harm and that fear isn't unfounded. I've been on both sides of this scenario. I recently made a beautiful cherry dessert that I knew Jonas would love. We finally had an almond based cream cheese to cook with and I was ecstatic! It was so good and we were all so excited he could enjoy it with us. So I present this baked bit of perfection to him and he flat out refuses to eat it. I've seen him do this before but not to a food from me!! It made me so mad...I could not understand why he thought his MOM of all people, the one who had to figure this whole thing out and had been doing that for 8+ years would give him something harmful...He saw the white almond cream cheese and knew it looked suspect. He would not give it a chance. He wasn't willing to risk it and after I had a minute to breathe, sigh, roll my eyes, grumble and then calm down I understood. He has to be able to make those decisions and be confident in his choices...that's self-preservation with a food allergy and it's a great life-skill to have in general. I've also been on Jonas' side of this story. At a family reunion a few years ago, a family member brought us a box of dairy-free cookies she had prepared at home. I said, "Thank you so much but he can't have those" and I walked away. He was younger and we had just had a horrifying episode happen the previous weekend in a restaurant so my response was out of my mouth before I even knew I had said it. Should I have handled that WAY differently? YES! I wish I would have taken the box, said thank you, and made a decision later about whether Jonas would try them or not. The giver didn't know that we'd just had a bad experience, she didn't know that I wasn't in a position to take a chance on trying a food, she didn't realize my frustration with the fact that Jonas had to live with this every day. She was being kind and even though in the moment I didn't respond the way I should have, I still remember her kindness and cherish it.
Top 8 Gift Ideas to Share the Love with Food Allergy Kids (from a minimalist mom perspective) 1 Pokemon Card I repeat. ONE. If your giftee collects these (or other type) cards, they will love you forever when you show up with one. They come in packs, but you could divvy them up sporadically throughout the year for small treats. They don't take up much physical space and the kids are always looking for the next (weird) creature to add to their collection. Do I understand it? No...Does it make them happy? Yes! Bowling! My boys love to get a gift certificate to bowl, but they love it even better if they get to go with the giver. The game + shoes are less than $10 and if you go too it's great quality time. Game Night Monopoly, Clue, Chutes & Ladders, Battle-Ship, Chess, Mancala, Candy Land, Connect Four, Uno, Go Fish!, Charades,Scrabble, Dominoes...I could go on...The list is endless and my kids could do this for hours!! In fact, we had an 8 hour game of Monopoly one Sunday and we were so delirious when it ended, but it was a great memory and so much fun!!
Outdoor Movie Was there anything better than drive-in movies?!?! Check out a projector from the library and stream a movie from your laptop or phone in the back yard!! So.much.fun. We like to blow up air mattresses and wait until the weather is in the low 60's to avoid the mosquitoes. No projector? No problem...the boys say you can make one with a shoe box, a magnifying glass and some tape...Show us what you can do with that!! Maybe we'll have them post a YouTube tutorial. Building/Cooking/Art/Gardening Workshops We've been to multiple hour-long workshops with our kids. They LOVE them and they're usually free or very low-cost. Sometimes Lowes offers a Saturday morning clinic with pre-determined projects. Our art gallery downtown hosts classes for parents and kids. There are many opportunities to teach kids a new skill or let them develop a skill alongside you. If you can't find a gardening workshop just help them plant a couple of tomato plants in the yard or go blueberry picking. They remember this stuff more than any toy you can buy them. Lessons Lessons and sports activities are such a fun part of our year and they all require fees and equipment. If you're considering a big treat this is so helpful for parents and the kids love it. If you give in this way you might want to print out a picture or get a card that signifies your gift because sometimes kids need to see something concrete to understand what you gave them. Library Time A trip to the library is priceless. I think the boys love the sheer volume of books at their disposal. They browse. They chat. They sit at a table and look at pictures. They may wander over to the puppets and try them all on. You just can't beat the local library. Seriously! What other place just loans you stuff for free!! I love it!
Sand Can I just let you in on a little secret? Sand. Dump a small load of sand in the back yard, side yard, porch or living room and you have yourself happy kids for days!!!! Might want to check with the parentals before doing this, but honestly they won't care when the children are occupied for hours on end and BAM you're a hero. Whip out your cape and get ready to hear songs of praise for your genius. I'm going to mention these two products in an upcoming Facebook LIVE post!! Yikes I'm getting a little nervous about this LIVE thing...but the recipe is going to rock you socks off and it's dairy-free, gluten free, and will trick even your pickiest grandpa into thinking June Cleaver whipped it up in her apron and 1950's yellow kitchen. Affiliate link for Enjoy Life Mini-chips used in brownie recipe Affiliate link for King Arthur Baking Mix used in brownie recipe. Happy Valentine's Day Y'all!!!! Much Love! ~j