I want to say something dramatic to portray the relief of living without food allergies, but I just don't think it's possible - there are no satisfactory words. It's like those moments when you wish there were better words to describe "I love you" to someone. Sometimes those words just don't seem enough to express the emotions, ya know? Same idea with the removal of food allergies.
Weird comparison, I know, but it works. :)
I'd like to remember some of the differences between 2010 and the 2 1/2 years prior (where we lived as a dairy free, egg free, and almost peanut free family).
In no particular order, here are the first things that pop into my head:
- no special ordered allergy-free chocolate for the holidays
- no wondering about what the previous child ate in the grocery buggy
- he's going to preschool this year (2 days a week) without a care in the world
- no major prep-work for church gatherings (always with food)
- ate his first Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (oh yeah! Imagine that day!)
- we ate out more as I family and I personally gained 12 pounds this year! UGH!
- Unfortunately, I did not keep up with my allergy recipe blog: Must Follow Recipes.
As this will most likely be my final series of posts on food allergies, I find it will be easiest to list by month the changes we experienced. This will be the first of three posts (each containing a quarter of the year.)
Each month we have a fellowship birthday meal with our church congregation. It was so hard to "not worry" because my brain was accustomed to watching every bit of food that everyone ate, making sure they didn't have dairy on their hands. We usually sat in a corner, keeping Witt away from everyone and I had to bring prepared food (including dessert) from home for him.
Imagine how free this little boy felt when he was allowed to run around the fellowship room with the other children. To run around the food table and grab a cookie when no one was looking and to dip under and hide below the food table (amongst scraps that had surely fallen) so he could eat that cookie (that someone else had made). Imagine how free his mama felt, too! :)
Jeff and I were also able to take a mini-getaway to his parents' lake house for a weekend. The boys stayed with my MIL. Although she, too, had gotten very proficient at reading labels and preparing food for Witt, there were some things she just didn't stock at her house because they'd go bad. For this trip to Gran's, I didn't have to do extra shopping or prepare special food. She didn't have to do any special cleaning in the kitchen or removal of food he couldn't be near.
To be able to just "drop him off" without preparation... wow... again, there are no words.
Of course my brain went through the usual checklist and I had to continually tell myself that I didn't have to worry about that anymore. It was a bit of mental drain, honestly.
In our house, Valentine's Day brings it's own fun little tradition of buying a huge box of chocolates and sharing it. This is the one time you are allowed to take a bite of something and put it back for someone else to eat if you don't like it. LOL!
With a dairy free child, this tradition is an expensive one. However, at least it is still a plausible one. There are some great allergy free chocolate makers out there. For Valentine's our favorite was Chocolate Emporium. They have traditional valentine's boxes (during February) and out-of-this-world chocolates! I highly recommend them!
This year, I think we bought 2 huge boxes of chocolates from a local store and bought each of the boys their own small box. The chocolates were, of course, not as good as the gourmet ones and we did go over board on the buying of (cheap) chocolates, but it was just the principal of it all.
The principal being that we could.
Oh, and Witt had his first dairy filled chocolate milkshake!
March is Jeff's birthday. Jeff likes a homemade cake, so really the amount of work isn't any different - it's just the ingredients. And sometimes, well let's face it, the texture. Although I have a favorite DFEF chocolate cake recipe, baked goods generally don't have the same texture and strength (non-sinking centers) when made without eggs.
And then there was Easter... and more chocolate. We have used both Amanda's Own Confections and Chocolate Emporium for our dairy free Easter chocolates. We went with standard chocolate this year and no one noticed (I say this to let you know how good allergy free chocolates can be.)
In the 5 years that we have been in Alabama, this was the first year we attended the Chicken & Egg Festival and we were able to eat the vendor food without worry! Granted we spent most of our time on the tractors, but just the name of the festival was enough to keep me away in the past.
April is also my birthday. And it is also proof that baking with eggs does not always bring about a perfect cake... as mine fell apart. LOL!
May - August (coming soon)
Sept - Dec (coming soon)