What terrifies us every day.

A beautiful young soul lost his life to food allergies recently. His name was Oakley Debbs.  We fear this every day living with a severe nut allergy.  My family is mourning with the Debbs family and we hope to help create more awareness with them by sharing their story and their new foundation the Red Sneakers Foundation redsneakers.org which ill help create awareness in Oakley's name.

Zoe and I have already ordered our red sneakers and plan to stand in solidarity with this family and we hope you do too.

Below you can read more from our local newstation.

http://www.wcvb.com/

Great awareness: Brittany and Burton's!

Zoe is anaphylactic to dairy, tree nuts, and peanuts. Finding a place to go out to eat is a struggle for us.  We have a hard time  finding restaurants that create a safe environment for Zoe to eat.    We have been to many places and have learned that you can not be too diligent when it comes to safety surrounding allergies.  One of our safe places is Burton's Grill.  They are amazing with their awareness regarding allergies.  The staff goes out of their way to make sure that we are comfortable and take her allergies seriously.  The manager brings out all food for anyone with allergies to make sure the meal is going to the right person and to create a sense of safety.  It is awesome! I wanted to highlight our last trip there and the great follow up we received.

First, when we got to the restaurant the waitress had remembered Zoe from a previous trip there with her Bammy.  She remembered her allergies and was incredibly nice, which in turn made me feel at ease.  We ordered her regular dinner: fries, salmon, apple sauce and carrots combo and waited for it to arrive. Bammy and Zoe's dishes arrived first.  I had ordered off the new Paleo selection and mine was next.  On the way over,  Brittany noticed almonds on the dish and immediately alerted me to this since it was not listed on the original menu.  We sent the dish back and discussed the severity of this flaw with the menu.  It was an incredibly dangerous mistake.  Brittany went back to the kitchen immediately to alert the chefs.  Chef Fried, one of the corporate chefs, happened to be in the restaurant that day.  He came over to discuss the menu and the issue at hand.  He apologized and made a point of letting me know he was going to be sending out an alert to all the members of the Burton's  staff to the almonds in this new menu item. He was incredibly kind, generous and apologetic.  He made us feel we were not a burden to the restaurant but an asset to help them become an even safer space.

I just wanted to give Burton's kudos for being a budget friendly, allergy aware, family friendly envorimment where my Zoe can just feel like a kid and not feel scared.  Going out to eat terrifies her.  She has had experiences in the past where she has had a simple reaction needing Benadryl to a large scale reaction needing an Epi-Pen and an ambulance.  I am just glad we have somewhere so close to home that takes this stress out of my mind as well. 

As parents of allergy kids, we fear every day.  When I find a place that really seems to care I want to shout it from the rooftops and SHARE!

Well done Burton's...and well done Brittany. You're awesome!

Check out all there locations! http://burtonsgrill.com

A Difficult Conversation

Sometimes as parents of children with allergies we are faced with having difficult conversations with kids and parents about allergies.  Some go really well and people understand and empathize and others go really, really bad! This can cause major stress for parents.  I am finding as I navigate through this journey with Zoe that I tend to think every conversation is going to be bad but they don’t have to be.

Last week I was waiting for Zoe at her school and I noticed a parent snacking in the waiting area.  It looked like she was eating nuts and I had a full on internal reaction.  I had been speaking to another parent and my brain just turned that conversation off and laser beamed straight into *danger *danger*warning- NUTS!!!  I didn't know 100% but I did have a couple parents say to me that they thought they were.  I breathed through it because I didn’t know for sure but my mind was spinning with thoughts of how, as parents, we should be so careful.  We know the majority of classrooms are nut free so let’s try and keep the ALL areas of school as safe as possible.

I waited one day after this happened to gather thoughts and courage.  I didn’t want to create tension or any stress because I really like this parent and I know if they were nuts it was just an oversight. So,  I sent an email asking if they were nuts.  I also reiterated the severity of Zoe’s allergies and my fear around this.  Here is the response:

Hi Jenn,

Yes, I'm guilty! I do appreciate you reaching out and making me aware. 

Honestly I was just oblivious and was thinking "I'm going to be here until 9:30, I need to eat something".

I will definitely be more mindful in the future. Truly, I can't imagine your daily concerns. In general, I only pack nut free for school but that needs to extend to me too!

Phew!  I can’t even tell you how incredibly grateful I am to receive this response.  It makes an allergy parent’s life so much less stressful when we are able to approach and discuss with true concern without the fear of any kind of negative reaction.

So, don’t be afraid of those difficult conversations.  From these talks comes more awareness and safety for our kids.  And if you are not an allergy parent and someone comes to speak to you about their concerns, please be patient and kind.  We fear for our kids everyday and are just looking to create a safer environment for them.

Sweet start!

School has begun and I have decided to launch this new blog with my daughter to create awareness around severe food allergies.  I am a bit of a perfectionist, borderline obsessed with timing and having a good "feeling" about what I contribute and do.  I have been struggling with the first post for this blog because I wanted to set a tone for what we want to express.  I have a few of things in the wings but I have been waiting for this....

Liam is in class with Zoe. I received this message from Liam's mom on Facebook.  

"Good morning Jenn! I was just asking Liam what he liked best, least etc. in his lunches this week while making my grocery list. His feedback was that he didn't want to have any dairy in his lunch. I asked him why and he said "my friend Zoe is allergic to dairy and I want her to be able to sit next to me at lunch and be safe" I can't tell you how much I love that they are learning to be so aware of their friends and the needs/safety of their friends from such a young age.  Zoe is clearly a special friend in Liam's eyes. <3"

Cue tears, happiness, and relief.  It is the scariest thing to send a child off to a school with severe food allergies.  It makes my heart glow that friends are thinking about her and creating inclusion and not exclusion.  THIS is exactly why I wanted to do this with Zoe.  Awareness creates safety and security for everyone.  Hopefully, more parents will learn from their kids about creating this type of environment.

Stay safe and have fun!  Jenn and Zoe