Book Review: Why can’t I have a Cupcake?

Editor’s Notes:
1) I was so happy that Betsy Childs contacted me to review her new book about food intolerances, Why can’t I have a Cupcake? Her simple, yet meaningful, story along with Dan Olson’s illustrations was a great hit with my sons.

2) When you have a food allergy, it is required that you have two doses of epinephrine in your possession as a second dose may need administered five minutes after the first dose.

Review

My son is attending a birthday party this weekend…a place where tasty treats are always in abundance along with the token slice of “za” (pizza). These social situations are sometimes challenging for those dealing with food allergies, celiac disease or intolerances as assimilation is so important. No matter the challenge, we must teach our children that the celebration is the time we spend together having fun, and much more important than any food.

51odpxI41hL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In this thoughtful book, Rory, a six-year-old boy, was excited to be going to his friend Poppy’s birthday party where they will have delicious cupcakes. Rory L-O-V-E-S cupcakes, but he is gluten intolerant. He remembers having a stomach ache after eating foods like cupcakes and pancakes.

Rory’s mother dropped him off at the party, hands him his crispy bar and he is off to have some fun! Not only did Rory have an enjoyable time participating in the fun activity and watching Poppy open her birthday presents, he learned that he was not the only one bringing his own treat or an item to keep safe. Celia can’t have peanuts so she came prepared with a tuna sandwich, in case PB & J sandwiches were served. Mason brought an EpiPen® because he’s allergic to bee stings. Lewis has a popsicle because he can’t have ice cream, he’s allergic to dairy. Continue reading

What To Do When Your 504 Plan is Violated, 3

And we’re back for the third and final installment in this series of blog entries covering preparing for school and 504 violations. Even after all of the best food allergy management planning, expect to have a snag or two. Most issues are misunderstandings or miscommunications and are easily fixed by an email, telephone call or short meeting with the teacher, principal and/or 504 coordinator. Remember to stay the collaborative and creative parent you are, and partner to resolve these types of issues.

On the other hand, when your child’s specified accommodation is not received on a consistent and conscientious basis, then a more direct and formal approach is necessary. What might a violation look like? Perhaps your teacher is having your child sit out in the hall during snack time. Maybe unsafe curriculum projects are continuously being used in the classroom without notice or accommodation. It could be that a student, teacher or school staff member is repeatedly harassing your child about his/her food allergies.

No matter what has transpired in a 504 violation, it’s a terrifying and angering experience simply because your child is at his/her most vulnerable outside of your care. In addition, it is always our hope that adults will behave as mature and responsible individuals, and when that doesn’t happen, it creates a mistrust that is not easily rebuilt.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for 504 Violation Resolution: Continue reading

Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, 2

And…we’re back. : ) Thanks for joining me again for Part 2 in the series of three discussing school preparation and 504 violation. In case you missed it, check out the first post Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1 which has my Top 10 Tips to prepare for school. In this entry, I’ll share my Top 5 Tips of what not to do when preparing for school. Don’t forget, there’s one more in this series to come, What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3.

1.  Don’t Sign A Release of Medical Records

Man's Hands Signing DocumentMedical Information is extremely private and not meant for public consumption. Never sign a release of medical records to your school; there’s nothing worse than school staff or even a school nurse or health paraprofessional interpreting your physician’s diagnosis and notes and drawing conclusions regarding your child’s medical information. A letter from your allergist is sufficient. See the first in the series entitled, Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1. Continue reading

Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, 1

When my son was small and preparing for kindergarten, I remember the January prior to his entry was the month that I began conversations with my school on food allergy accommodations. With each new year, it causes me to think about how I can help families just like you prepare for the great meeting of the minds. I decided to do this series of posts: Preparing for School with a Food Allergy, Part 1 Preparing for School with a Food Allergy Part 2 (The Don’ts), and What To Do When Your 504 Plan Is Violated, Part 3. I hope you find them to be helpful as you start a new chapter with your child.

1.  Investigate and Learn About Food Allergy Rights and Guidelines

Get to know the existing resources that are out there to support you:FAN2031482BusinessL

 

2.  It Takes Nine Months to Have a Baby; Take Nine Months to Forge a Food Allergy Partnership with Your School

The January prior to the start of school, contact your school principal and district/school nurse/health paraprofessional to introduce yourself and your child. Make it a priority to discuss what school staff members will assist in the development of your child’s Food Allergy Management Plan. Collaborate with staff to finalize the plan prior to the first day of school.

  • Typical 504 Team, i.e.: Principal, District and/or School Nurses, 504 Coordinator, Teacher, Specialists, Cafeteria and Recess Monitors, Transportation Company, etc. The titles of individuals will vary from district to district and school to school.
    • If your school is public, request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private, determine if the school receives any federal funding. If yes, then request a 504 Evaluation Meeting.
    • If your school is private and receives no Federal funding, then request a Food Allergy Management meeting so accommodations can be determined.

Continue reading

A Gift of Miles Launches New Website

Website Details a Holistic Approach to Food Allergy Education For Families, Childcare Providers and Schools

a-gift-of-miles-food-allergy-consultingA Gift of Miles is pleased to announce the launch of a new website that details Kristin Beltaos’ holistic approach to food allergy consulting and education for families, childcare providers and schools. The updated website more clearly outlines Kristin’s services including customized food allergy management life skills, education and plans utilizing evidenced-based practices. Ultimately, clients learn how to proactively manage food allergies in their environment while keeping children with food allergies safe, happy and included.

Taking your life or organization to the next level has never been easier. Leverage Kristin’s customized consulting, expertise and training programs to help you identify your goals, develop strategies and action plans that establish a new order.

Whether you’re in Minnesota, nationally or internationally, visit the new website and make a selection under Food Allergy Consulting or Other Services to learn more about how you can find support and assistance that will help you transition to your new chapter.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post.

I wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy new year!

Thoughtfully,
Kristin

Dr. Allan Stillerman: NEW Cow’s Milk Research Study

CowSmT

Dr. Allan Stillerman is the Principal Investigator for a research study of a new investigational formula for CMA that has been developed by an infant formula manufacturer headquartered in the United States. The investigational formula will be tested against Nutramigen (Mead Johnson Nutrition).

The study consists of two (2) parts:

Part 1StillermanMilkStudy
This part of the study will test for allergic reactions to Nutramigen and the investigational formula.

  • 3 visits over approximately 2 – 3 weeks
  • 2 oral food challenges (at Visit 2 & Visit 3)
  • Physical Exam
  • 1 blood sample
  • Taste test for caregivers
  • Diary to record allergic symptoms

 

Part 2
This part of the study will study how your child grows and how well your child tolerates the formula.

  • This part of the study lasts 16 weeks (about 4 months) & has 2 additional visits
  • 7 telephone contacts
  • Measurements of growth
  • (height, weight, etc.)
  • 1 blood sample
  • Quality of Life Questionnaire for caregivers
  • Diary to record allergic symptoms and how your child tolerates the formula
  • Study participants will be asked to return approximately one year after the first visit to have another blood sample taken.

 

Learn More…
Allan Stillerman M.D.
Clinical Research Institute

 

The Parent Job’s Interview with Kristin Beltaos

Kristin2
Hello my friends HAPPY SPRING! I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Angel Thompson of The Parent Job. To take a peek at this interview, click the link below. Find out what I like most about being a parent, who has had the most impact on me as a parent, how I overcome parenting challenges, and much more.

Meet Kristin Beltaos…

Food Allergies: Wills, the Establishment of Guardians & Life Insurance

I Kristin Beltaos Being of Sound Mind and Mother to a Food Allergic Child…

I know, it’s a morbid topic, but one that truly needs to be addressed when you have children and especially if you have a food allergic child.

Do you have a plan for your children should you and your spouse/partner meet an untimely death? My husband and I have always been big planners. We pay close attention to our financial planning multiple times a year. In addition, we had our Wills, Power of Attorneys, Living Wills established and purchased Life Insurance while I was pregnant with our first son. We discuss these items multiple times a year, I know it may sound somber, but checking in with one another has always been an essential ingredient in our relationship. We always want to make sure that we’re on the same page and covering our bases.

Speak frequently with your guardians to ensure that your wishes are understood.

Speak frequently with your guardians to ensure that your wishes are understood.

Recently we updated our Wills and Guardians for our two sons. I think the first inclination is to always select family for Guardians, which is what we have done in the past. After eight years of these Wills, our ideas regarding this topic have evolved through the years. While our extended family is very important, in our case it isn’t the best decision should something actually happen to us. Here are some things to consider when addressing this very sensitive topic: Continue reading

Food Allergies: Anxiety, Gratitude & Belonging

So often we worry about whether our food allergic kiddos feel like they belong. We never want them to have that feeling…that they’re the ‘odd man out’ or like one of the segments from Sesame Street’s ‘One of These Things is Not Like the Other.’ As I’ve grown in my comfortableness with my son’s food allergy diagnosis, I too have evolved in what I find to be an unending truth.

The truth is, we don’t want our children to feel like they don’t belong, always different in this crazy world that socializes, celebrates, rewards, incentivizes and crafts with food. Whew! That was a long list. But let’s be honest, at one time or another in our childhood or even as an adult we’ve felt like the: ’odd man out’, ‘third wheel’, however you want to label it. Feeling different is really a rite of passage, whether you have food allergies or not. I believe these types of situations help us form our being. I know this now because I’m an adult though…I now have the ability to know and understand that ‘now’ isn’t forever and that as we age and grow so does our resilience, what we stand for, how we come to formulate our morals and values, how we determine who our ‘true’ friends are, not to mention just plain get more comfortable in our own skin, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I will still advocate hard for inclusion of food allergic children, but my new theory will help to manage feelings about it better.

So here’s my theory:

I think that focusing our lives and the lives of our children on gratitude and appreciation for what we have will not only decrease our and their anxiety but intensify everyone’s feeling of belonging.

"One thing that has helped me immensely in handling life's challenges, is letting go of how I thought it was going to be." ~ Kristin Beltaos

“One thing that has helped me immensely in handling life’s challenges, is letting go of how I thought it was going to be.” ~ Kristin Beltaos

How could you not have a strong feeling of belonging when all you see is sheer abundance?

Truth be told, I’ve always told my boys that it’s not about what material things we have in life but about the experiences that we have, the people that we spend time with, what we give of ourselves to others and how we impact the lives of the people we interact with — whether that’s the cashier at the grocery store or your family and friends. We need to not only think about our gratitude, but convey it through our gestures and contact!

How can you start this? Well, get a large canning jar and have each family member write down what they are thankful for and place it in the jar each day, every other, whatever feels natural. Then on the ‘difficult’ days pull from it for reminders of what we are grateful for to help deflect from a negative situation. Another option is to have each person share at the dinner table what they were thankful for about each day. No matter how you decide to establish this new family ritual, realize that the jar may prove to be of tangible help when a rainy day heads your way, being able to pull from it and review past joys.

By focusing our lives on the expression of gratitude it will make it difficult to slip into the dangerous ‘grass is always greener’ mentality, wishing things could be different in our lives. Truly accepting life the way it is handed to you and living within that rather than ‘how things were suppose to be’ permits us to teach compassion to ourselves and others and accept our life’s ‘lumps’ for what they truly are…something to be grateful for.

I gave you a few of my thoughts, won’t you leave a comment and share with me one of yours?

 

Kick Off the Holiday Season With This Boo-tiful, Halloween Tradition

When my son was first diagnosed with food allergies I dreaded many holidays…and the holiday season started with Halloween. Being allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame didn’t offer many store bought candy options, from an ingredient or manufacturing perspective.

I began to think about the message that I send my sons about food. While celebrations with food go hand-in-hand with our society, I wanted to send the message that we can celebrate in other ways besides cake, cookies and cupcakes. Here’s where ‘You’ve Been BOOed!’ enters the picture.

Create a new tradition with this Halloween activity that is fun for all ages in your neighborhood, at the office or even get creative and do it with classrooms at school, as long as Halloween is an acceptable holiday to celebrate in your school.

Here’s how you BOO:

beenbooed-color copy

You’ve Been BOO-ed!

Step 1 – Pull up the website http://www.beenbooed.com and select one of the three ghostly, poem pdfs.

Step 2 —  Head to the dollar and Halloween areas in search of goodies for your Boo bag. Some of our favorite haunts include: Target, Michaels and the Dollar Store. What kinds of things can you put in your bag? It’s still a little early, but spooky treats are starting to roll in. Last week I saw that Target has various ghoulishly scary book selections in the dollar area, stickers, pumpkins, spider rings, iron on t-shirt decals, decorations of the season, etc. When we were Booed last year, our Booer gave us a Halloween craft project AND a ‘Do You See What I See’ Halloween book.

Step 3 – Select a bag. We’ve done everything from one of a small recycled shopping bag in black, to picking up a Halloween gift bag.

Step 4 – Assemble your bag and determine who you will BOO!

Step 5 – Wait until it is dark, grab your kids and sneak over to your victim’s, I mean neighbor’s house. Oh so quietly, place the bag on the front stoop, ring the doorbell and RUUUUN like a bat out of a belfry! Hide before they get to the door. BEWARE…should you do this with your kiddos, much giggling will ensue, so be prepared to give the librarian shhhhhhh to them.

Other Ideas
What else can you do for this holiday…make allergy safe Halloween cutout cookies, create homemade Halloween decorations (just pictures will do) and post them in your kitchen eating area, go to a pumpkin patch or corn maze, after trick-or-treating, donate the candies to the Operation Gratitude so that service men and women may enjoy a treat or two.

Evil Laugh Ensues

Evil Laugh Ensues

No matter what you decide to do for the upcoming holiday, just make sure to focus on having a wickedly fun time!

MUAHAHA! MUAHAHA! MUAHAHA!

I gave you a few of my thoughts, won’t you leave a comment and share with me one of yours?