Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dealing With Food Allergies (Part 2)

Derek and I both come from good families.  We like to spend time with them as much as we can.  Dan has lots of cousins and Aunts and Uncles.  We try to get together for family reunions with both sides of the family once a year and we get together with those who are close by a lot more often.  Food of some kind is almost always involved.  All of a sudden I found that these occasions could be some of the most frustrating times for me.  Food is a lot easier to control in your own home!

So what did I do to turn these times back to the relaxing, enjoyable things they used to be?  The one thing I do is to call in advance to find out the menu so I'll know what I need to bring.  I've forgotten to call before and that is stressful!  The other thing that has helped make these events enjoyable again is what others have done and continue to do to help.  I have cried tears of gratitude over some of these things when nobody was looking.

When Dan was almost two it was time for the family reunion on my side of the family.  It was to be held at my sister Jenny's home where I had seen cousins track food all over the house before.  Almost two year olds are not always very discriminating on where they pick up their snacks.  We would be having meals there for a couple of days and going to the store or home were not really good options.

This is where my angel Mother and one of my thoughtful sisters came to the rescue.  Mom and Jenny planned the entire reunion's meals around what Dan could have.  They even thought carefully about snacks and made sure that there were snacks that Dan could have too.  I found upon arrival that all of the cousins had been warned to be careful what and where they ate and to make sure Dan didn't have anything without his parents knowing.  My nephew Seth who was 6 at the time was particularly vigilant at looking out for Dan and I was very touched by his concern.

On Derek's side of the family we have meals together at least monthly.  I have been so thankful for the times my sisters-in-law have read labels in order to make sure the meal was something Dan could eat!  Other times, when something not Dan safe is planned, they are thoughtful about letting me know so that I can plan in advance how to handle the meal for Dan.  My mother-in-law buys lots of popsicles and Dan has come to think of that as the treat he eats at Grandma's (besides fruit snacks).  Even when I bring cake that he can have or cookies, he often opts for a popsicle.  It makes me smile when I look and find that several cousins have joined him in having popsicles instead of ice cream.

At church the primary leaders have bought treats that Dan can have so he will be safe and his teachers sometimes call me from the store and read me labels just to be sure.  On top of that, a couple of our neighbors who are aware of Dan's allergies went out of their way at Christmas time to bring treats just for Dan (blond oreos and popsicles) because he can't have so many of the goodies we get.

I don't think I was ever so thoughtful for people I knew with food allergies.  It seems so surreal that someone can die from eating something that most other people have every day.  It's hard to believe that such a thing can be real until you see it -- or experience it yourself!  I appreciate what good family members, friends, and neighbors we have had who have gone out of their way to think about it when they don't have to.

So, in dealing with food allergies it is good to plan ahead, and call in advance.  It is also good to know great people like we do who help keep my Dan safe and me sane.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dealing with Food Allergies (Part 1)

Since Dan was one we have changed the way we eat at our house.  That was when we first started discovering his food allergies.  You might be surprised to know that my first reaction to his food allergies (besides fear) was anger.  I was angry at the food that could kill him.  I was angry that cooking, which I don't really love, just got harder.  I was angry that Dan would probably never get to enjoy some of the foods that I had loved the most.  (I say had because I was so angry at peanuts that I quit eating the food that has been my main staple for years -- peanut butter).  I was angry that he couldn't eat what everyone else ate.  I was angry that school, and parties, and even family gatherings were going to be complilcated.  Thankfully, there were three things that helped me to get past the anger.

1.  I have a friend who has dealt with multiple food allergies in her family.  She told me what to look for on lables and she gave me a couple of recipes to help.  I believe she cooks three different dinners for her family every day since they are not all allergic to the same things.  I was impressed with how matter of factly she dealt with the situation.  Somewhere along the line she had already learned that being frustrated and angry didn't help anyone.  Her understanding, patience and example were priceless.

2.  I read in one of my fiction books (I can't remember which one) that being angry with a situation we are given in life is the same as being angry at God.  That made me stop and think.  Heavenly Father knows about Dan's allergies and I know that being angry at God is not a good idea.  I started trying harder to not be angry.  Thinking about this idea helped me to be ready for #3.

3.  I went to a Relief Society meeting where a lady spoke about her son being diagnosed with diabetes.  She spoke about how hard it was for her.  Her situation sounded harder than mine -- but it was similar in some ways too.  After describing her challenges she told us about a question she had been asked.  If she could go back and choose to have her son be free of diabetes would she?  She was surprised to find the answer was not a clear "YES!"  She said that her son is very compassionate, and thoughtful.  She felt that this was a result of his experience with diabetes.  As a result of her son's diabetes she had learned to communicate with Heavenly Father better and to feel His compassion and love more clearly.  Maybe that "YES!" would take away the good things too.  Listening to her helped me to see that I was angry over something that might be an important part of Heavenly Father's plan for me, and Dan, and our family.  Perhaps I couldn't see the good things that could come from this hard thing.

Thanks to these three things, I have been able to stop being angry and to deal with food allergies more matter of factly -- like my friend.  This is a situation that we have been given and it is up to us to handle it the best way we can.  Eventually we may even be able to sincerely give thanks for the opportunity to experience life with food allergies.  Maybe we will look back and find that we are more patient, or compassionate, or thoughtful because of this situation.  One day we will clearly see the good that has come to us because of a hard thing.  In the meantime, we won't waste time being angry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrating Easter

Today I feel like sharing an Easter idea that I got from a book by Jill Rigby (Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World). The idea is hers but I have modified it slightly. This activity helps us and our children to know what Jesus did on that original Easter week. It is particularly good for those with children at home. You start this activity on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and it goes for the whole week -- but it isn't hard!

Every day read the scripture given and then do the activity. The activities you do every day create an Easter display so find a good location for one and get ready! You can display the scriptures you read too if you want to. Modify the idea to make it work for you -- I did!

Palm Sunday (Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem)
Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:38)

Activity: Color pictures of palm fronds and place them on the table with the donkey (taken from your Christmas nativity set). You could also read Luke 19: 30-38 and Matthew 21: 8-11 and Luke 19: 39-40 if your kids have a longer attention span -- or tell the story in your own words.

...he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel...(Luke 20:1)

Activity: display a picture of the temple in Jerusalem (Jesus had cleansed the temple the day before and taught there during the week)

And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives. (Luke 21:37)

Activity: display a picture of the Mount of Olives

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22: 3, 6)

Activity: display 30 pieces of silver (30 nickles or other silver money)

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Activity: display a picture of the Garden of Gethsemane and consider a special family prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the atonement that Jesus made for each of them.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)

Activity: Make three crosses (use twigs from the yard or whatever you think will work) and add them to your display. Also make a tomb and seal it with a rock. (This can even be a toilet paper roll decorated in some way with a rock in front.)

And they (Jesus' friends) returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. (Luke 23:56)

Activity: rest

He is not here, but is risen...(Luke 24:6)

Activity: Open the tomb -- take the time to listen to "He is Risen" or another Easter song and consider saying another prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the resurrection.

Have a happy Easter learning what Jesus did on that important week so many years ago!