Hand Washing?

hand washing

Who invented hand washing?  Not the ‘was playing in the mud’ hand washing, but the hand washing that happens when your hands look clean but apparently are not.  I’m all for this hand washing, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t around when I was young.  Some things were better ‘back in my day’, but not this.  I think we only washed our hands when they appeared grimy.  In the 1912 home I first lived in, the room with the toilet didn’t even have a wash basin and I’m pretty sure I didn’t make the trek to the next room to wash my hands. I know you’re thinking “Ew, gross!”, but that’s how it was.  Wipe your hands on your Wranglers and you’re good to go!

I’m fastidious now.  I have to be.  Having a child with food allergies means I wash my hands so often throughout the day that a casual observer might think I have OCD.  When cooking dinner it’s not uncommon for me to wash my hands 10-20 times.  I wash them between every task.  With all this hand washing you’d think that I never get colds, well at least I think I should never get a cold, yet I seem to pick up the same number as everyone else.  No justice.

Hand washing is also really important for the food allergic child at school; not just their own hands, but their class mates as well.  That is, it’s helpful if their class mates wash their own hands too.  In primary grades this really helps accidental exposure to an allergen.  In case it’s been a while since your squeaky clean children were young I just want to remind everyone that kids are messy when eating, really messy.  Yogurt splotches on the table, dropped cheese stepped on, crusts left in desks, jam on cheeks, butter on fingers.

In most kindergarten classes students wash their hands before snack.  At our request, the students in G’s class also washed their hands when snack was finished.  This might sound like a huge rigmarole, but since the kindies finished their snacks at different times, there wasn’t a line up at the sink and it was a routine that was established on the first day so for the class it was normal.  As part of this they also learned about being considerate of others and helping keep G safe.

This dual hand washing was established in each of G’s classes throughout his primary grades and by the time he was in grade 4, so many of the children had been in his class before that most of them continued this washing after eating all the way through elementary school.

If you have a young food allergic child, I recommend talking to your child’s teacher about the possibility of including this routine.  It’s not as big a hassle as it might seem (if the classroom has a sink) and kid’s hands can be sticky after eating so it helps keep the classroom and the supplies clean as an added bonus!

Hand washing is such a simple thing that has so many benefits for your own health and the health of others.  It helps stop the spread of all sorts of things.  Who ever came up with the idea of frequent hand washing was on to something.  We all know now that a good hand wipe on our jeans just isn’t good enough.


Back to School Shopping

School Supplies

Labour Day weekend is spent labouring over back to school preparations.  The first step is rummaging through the old back pack that was dumped on the floor at the end of June and has been stepped on and kicked around, but not opened since.  It’s with trepidation that I stick my hand in to the bottom of G’s cavernous backpack.  I hope to find pencils or pens to reuse but usually I find unwrapped sticky candies or petrified carrot sticks.

Once the bag is sorted, step two involves searching the art cupboard for any and all items that can be called school supplies in the futile attempt to avoid a trip to Staples.  Leaving school supplies shopping until Labour Day is ridiculous but I do it every year.  Staples is crowded and picked over, Walmart is worse… way worse.   As I sit writing this, I’m avoiding this inevitable shopping trip that the boys love and I, well, don’t.

The back to school shopping I never avoid is the one to the drugstore.  Back to school purchases for us don’t just include erasers and duo tangs, we always buy a new supply of Epipens.  Yes plural, we buy more than one at a time.  The shelf life of the epinephrine is about a year, 18 months if you’re lucky (expiry date is clearly marked).  Every September we buy a new supply.  First, the school requires one specifically for G to be left in the office.  Second, G gets a fresh one to carry with him.  This year he’ll get a new Alleject to replace the one he lost.  The third one I buy is for us to have at home.  If there are any we already have that have not expired, they get kept in strategic places (car, my Mum’s house, etc.).  The ones that have long expired we use for practice on unsuspecting oranges.

I find it really shocking how many parents do not supply an Epipen to their child’s school.  If a child is anaphylactic to an allergen, they need epinephrine immediately.  Waiting for an ambulance to arrive is not fast enough.  It also blows me away that kids do not carry their injectors with them.  It’s so easy and less cumbersome than ever before.  The length of time it takes to break open someone’s locker and search for an epipen may be the difference between … well you catch my drift.  I don’t want to get all ‘Debbie Downer’ but, really, what have you got to lose?

I know that at $125 each the auto-injectors aren’t cheap.  Get them with a prescription, which will help if you have a medical plan, ask your doctor or school principal if there are programs available to help with the cost.  Back to school shopping can be an expensive time: new princess backpack, set of smelly pens, sushi shaped erasers, but the most vital and valuable is life saving medicine.  All the binders, notebooks and calculators are useless if your child doesn’t have an Epipen when they need it.


Camp Food

Third year in a row for G going off to camp.  The food has greatly improved over the  years and this year I think I’ve done quite well for him.  To be honest after the first year there was no where to go but up!  I sent him off with frozen meals that he was to heat up in the microwave that the camp provided.  I didn’t find out until he got home that the microwave was gerbil powered and poor G was never able to properly defrost his meals.  He chipped away at the partially thawed stuff around the edges.  What an unappetizing way to eat stew and potatoes.  Oh well, he was in no danger of starving, the tuck shop kept him well fed with gummy candies.

The following year I planned with this inadequate microwave in mind.  The meals were partially thawed beforehand if not frozen at all and I delivered the food two extra times during the week rather than just once.  I was confident he’d be able to have a warm dinner.  Not so, apparently that year he didn’t even bother to use the microwave.  Too hungry and couldn’t be bothered to wait to heat it so he ate the food fridge cold. All I can think of is, yuck!  He didn’t complain but there must be a better way.

This year I have planned his dinners to be eaten warm or cold.  Rather than casseroles and stews I have made meals of barbecued sausages with roasted potatoes and teriyaki chicken with fried rice along with salads.  They are all fresh, not frozen.  He can avoid the microwave and hopefully the meals will taste good – no congealed gravy to turn your stomach.

I’m going up tomorrow to collect the dirty containers and drop off the new food.  Hopefully the containers will be empty and I don’t just mean the bags of cookies and marshmallows.

How to Wear an Allerject


Yay!  Got an Allerject for G.  It’s the new epinephrine auto-injector (mentioned before) produced in Canada by Sanofi.  Not sure if this product won any sort of design award, but it should.  Best redesign of a product … ever!  No, really, wouldn’t you rather carry around something in your trouser’s front pocket that looked like a small phone rather than a … banana.  I know I would and I’m not a teenaged boy.

A well promoted feature of the Allerject is that it talks to you helping you use it like the defibrillators that have been installed in rec. centers and other public buildings.  A voice gives you very clear prompts every step of the way.  This really is useful, especially for the first time user, but it was the unobtrusive shape of it that sold us.

How to wear the Allerject – limitless options for the progressive dresser.  I’m not using ‘Hipster’ to describe G’s style because the term is a bit limiting ; )


Allerject in pocketCasual : iPhone in one pocket, Allerject in the other.


Allerject in pocketPreppy : Spot the Allerject … nope, that’s the iPhone; it’s the other pocket.  These pants even have a small secondary pocket inside the main one.  People think it’s for small change, but it’s actually for the Allerject so everyone can discretely carry one.  No, really… betcha didn’t know JoeFresh was so allergy friendly!


Allerject in sleeveJames Dean, but a bit healthier.


Allerject fits in pocketOut for Dinner : Slips easily into a breast pocket.

Love, love love this new product.  Even if you don’t carry an auto-injector, spread the word and, you never know, a teenage boy may thank you.



How to carry an Epipen


Is that an epipen in your pocket or are you just glad to see me.  Seriously, what fourteen year old kid wants to walk around with this in his pocket!?  Since he started kindergarten G has worn a specially designed belt from Medic Alert that carries his epipen.

Medic Alert Epibelt

It’s a great belt and he has never minded carrying it.  I highly recommend it and it’s worth the expense.  The problem is now he wants to wear belts for fashion not just function.  So how to carry the epipen?

I searched on line for epipen carriers and found many really nice ones – for women.  In other words small feminine purses.  G is a progressive dresser, but the only ‘purse’ he likes to carry is his sporran.  Actually his epipen fits nicely into his sporran but that’s not always a practical option.

I was so happy when I came across KozyEpi.  A perfect option for G’s needs.   He can clip it onto his belt loop and forget about it.  It comes in many colors and patterns and some styles fit asthma inhalers as well.


The REAL solution would be to have an auto-injector that didn’t look like a… well  that wasn’t so bulky.  I’m sure many people have thought this, but now two brothers have taken the idea and run with it.  Their brilliant new product is the Allerject (Auvi-Q in the US).  Check it out through the link.  It’s fantastic.  Not only is this auto-injector smaller than an iPhone, but it TALKS to you!  It gives voice prompts to the user.   What a great idea.  Not everyone knows how to use an auto-injector.  For a limited time you can order a free trainer from the Allerject web site.

Allerject trainer

I’m going out to see if I can find an Allerject.  So easy to discreetly slip into a pocket.  No excuse for not having one at all times. No more need for fashion to take a backseat. No more need for bawdy Mae West quotes…. Which one will make G most happy?

Allergy Halloween – not so scary

Jach O'Lantern

Here comes Halloween! Candy,candy,candy! Makes my teeth ache just thinking about it.  I was the type of kid who had Halloween candy left at Easter.  Drove my sister nuts!  What she saw as hoarding, I saw as saving (for what, I’m not sure, probably just to torture her!).  My kids like candy and all things sweet, but they are a bit like me, the first few days after Halloween are great – treats every day, but it wears off pretty soon and my kids’ candy sits around getting “in my way” (very difficult to refuse a mini aero when I’ve walked past it five times and no one is watching).

The overload of candy coming in at Halloween also has to be dealt with from an allergy perspective.  Mini chocolate bars seem to be the most common treat given out at Halloween and many of them are peanut free and say so on the wrapper (Mars has a dedicated peanut free facility in Canada).  Problem for us is, no mini chocolate bar is dairy free so most of the candy G collects, he can’t have.

We’re lucky we have two kids.  On G’s first night of Trick or Treating we set up a tradition that has worked really well.  When the boys get home they dump out their candy and the trading begins. By the end of it G is usually trading four mini chocolate bars for one yellow lollipop, but he doesn’t mind, they both always end up with far more candy than they could/should eat.

For a couple of years I traded all the kids’ their uneaten candy near the end of November for a fancy battery powered tooth brush of their choice.  Don’t think that would fly now.  My eldest is 17 and he is planning on going out with a couple of friends to Trick or Treat.  I warned him people might think he’s too old, but he’s stoked about his costume and wants to show it off and have fun with his friends.  G is going out too as Queen Elizabeth and like his brother just wants to go out and have fun with his friends.  I think for both of them the candy haul has become secondary.  Well, I guess I’ll find out at Easter…

Pear Pudding

Pear Pudding with Pears

Thanks to a friend of mine for an ample supply of the most delicious pears I have ever tasted.  Her backyard tree has been laden this year and she has generously shared the bounty!


This recipe is for a pudding in the English sense; it is a dessert not a custard. In our home it was always made with apples and it became a fall tradition the year we lived in New England where delicious cooking apples were in abundance.  We called it “Apple Top Pudding” because we used to fight over the crispy/gooey top.  Sometimes when we were young it would be our main course after a bowl of soup, our favourite autumn meal.  Apples, pears, doesn’t matter.  It’s so easy to make.


6-8 pears (or apples)
1 Cup flour
1Cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Cup dairy free margarine (butter if you are able)
1 Cup water


Peel and core fruit and cut up into chunks.

pear cut up
Put cut up fruit into baking dish.

Pieces of Pear in baking dish
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in margarine.  I use my standup mixer for this because it’s easy, but using a pastry cutter or knife would work as well.

Pear Pudding batter
Cover top of cut up fruit with pastry mixture and pour one cup of water all over top.

Pear Pudding adding water

Bake at 325 F for 90 minutes

Pear Pudding cookedEnjoy!