Birthday Parties

American Girl Birthday

Have you ever had a week where no matter how hard you tried to make something happen, it just wasn’t going to happen. Like the universe is against you for some reason? That is this week and Friday cannot come soon enough.

Last week our kiddos were down for the count with what I’m guessing to be the flu or some virus resembling it. Well, I thought we were in the clear. I did my due diligence (and if you now how ocd my family can be about cleaning, you’re laughing right now) and cleaned every surface and hardwood floor with hot water + vinegar, bleached all the bathrooms, washed all the towels, washed all the sheets, etc., basically everything you do when your family is sick to prevent others from getting sick as well. Doing this all while eating an insane amount of zinc and drinking large volumes of green tea to prevent myself from getting the ick as well. Moms dont get sick, right?! Basically, hot mess.

Well, Little Miss Chloe went back to school today after what we thought was “24 hour tummy flu” however, this afternoon she went right back to where she was a few days ago, sick. She ended up on the couch with low-grade fever and upset stomach. Her teacher texted me at the end of the school day to let me know Chloe had faded and was ready to go home. Which I appreciate so much, I went right in a got her.

She had lots of tears since this was supposed to be her Big Chicago Weekend that we have been preparing since August. We selected the hotel, restaurants, nut-free desserts, museums, swimming suits, uber rides, birthday outfits, train tickets, special shoes. The whole thing. I’m sad for her. Actually, I’m more than sad for her. I’m angry for her that year after year her Birthday falls smack in the middle of flu season and she is sick with something.

We planned a small party for her class at school and are grateful for all the calls, texts, cards, balloons, gifts for her. It has made her feel special on her day.

20180116_193343.jpg

20180116_193400.jpg

20180117_174713.jpg

Cupcake holders:

Cupcake toppers:

The cupcake batter is nothing fancy, we used a box mix, Betty Crocker. The frosting is a standard butter cream with about 7 drops of McCormick red food coloring to make it pink.

Have a good weekend 🙂

 

Advertisements
Birthday Parties, Travel

Nut-Free Cupcake Delivery

YES! Delivery from a dedicated nut-free bakery DOES exist!! It is in Chicago of course but we LOVE this option as we visit the city enough to make this useful. Next weekend we’ll be in Chicago celebrating my daughter’s 7th Birthday at American Girl Cafe! She chose Chicago family weekend over a party with friends, and I’m totally loving this idea!

Doordash and Uber eats are behind this delivery service for Nutphree’s Bakery in the Chicagoland area. Nutphrees has the most incredible custom cakes I have ever seen. Nutphrees is a family run bake shop that started small due to their own kid’s food allergies. Nutphrees now distributes all over Chicago.

For my daughter’s birthday, American Girl DOES offer nut-free dessert options, so we’ll probably just take advantage of those. Doordash does not go to the American Girl cafe, but they go to plenty of other restaurants in the Goldcoast area.

  • Grand Luxe Cafe
  • RPM Italian / Steakhouse
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Many many others, just check the website, must be within 45 minutes of their location

We’re excited to see Nutphrees grow so much, we’ve been following them on social media for over a year, and their baked items are now in grocery stores + they ship across the US. To have this special delivery service makes nut-free items that much more accessible, and special!

Next weekend, we’ll be using the Hiawatha Amtrak service from Milwaukee to Chicago. You can’t beat the stress-free ride on the train, big comfortable seats, free wifi and Dunkin Donuts coffee. On the weekend, kids under 12 ride 50% off. Usually when we go, there is some deal going on like buy one get one free or kids ride free. Its so nice to sit as a family and enjoy getting to our destination rather than sitting in traffic, paying tolls and too much for parking in the city.

20180112_082713.jpg

Stay warm and be well! It’s so cold here now, -1, I’m wearing a scarf and three shirts INSIDE our home while I help these poor sick kiddos.

Next week we’ll have some special pictures on Insta showing the Birthday cupcakes, AG theme of course!

My next post will be about the most allergy + family friendly Chicago hotels. You’ll be surprised who comes in #1 offering sunbutter sammies to allergic kiddos as a bed time snack!

 

Birthday Parties, School Safe List, Snacking

Dunkin’ Donuts and Nut Allergies

Please click the link below & read my updated blog post about Dunkin Donuts allergy policy.

Updated on 1/23/2018

All Dunkin Donuts locations are different when it comes to allergies, please check yours before ordering.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a relatively new treat for our family. We started treating Carter to Dunkin’ after his hemoglobin levels improved in September following his HUS infection, and it just became our thing. After the doctor, we’d head over to Dunkin’ to celebrate good health. Kind of ironic since Donuts are in no way healthy for you.
Fast forward, I was talking to my best nut free mom friend, and she threw out the idea of Dunkin’ for my nut allergic kiddo. She said that she had tried a Dunkin’ location with her nut allergic son, talked allergies, and gave it the OK. So I thought what the heck, it’s Friyay, it’s been a week, and we could ALL use a donut from Dunkin’. There are two on our way home, so why not?

We went in to Dunkin’ talk to someone about our food allergies. It was our lucky day. The nice young man behind the counter also had peanut and tree nut allergies. He informed us all about the strict guidelines Dunkin’ follows, including the special carts the donuts are wheeled over to the pretty case on, labeled, and carefully transported around the kitchen with the “allergy donuts” always in the same place, clearly marked. Dunkin’ is clearly passionate about protecting its guests and we felt that today. We talked for about 20 minutes, then chose our donuts.

Dunkin Donuts staff also showed us how safe the donuts actually are (nut free) by eating a donut himself that was located next to a donut with peanut topping. He was fine and we talked about anaphylaxis for a while before heading out.

His confidence gave us confidence and my daughter demolished her donut once we got home. Of course, I had my Epi ready, but I knew she’d be fine.

This was her FIRST DONUT! Chocolate with sprinkles!

She was over the moon happy. Around 200ish calories, this is something that I don’t mind as an occasional treat!

Thank you, Dunkin’ for making allergies a priority. We are grateful for small treats like this that are close to home, and special.

Birthday Parties, How to be Nutfree, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

School Safe Treat Box

20170818_150058.jpgIt’s back-to-school time! If your child has food allergies, now is the time to be pro-active and get your plans and snacks in place. Here’s how we prepare:

  1. Contact the school nurse/office and keep an EPI-PEN on file at the front desk.
  2. Make sure all medical forms are filled out and complete with the front office.
  3. Know your school’s allergy policy. Make sure there is an allergy policy.
  4. Make contact with the child’s teacher (s) and make sure they all know about your child’s allergy, and what the steps are to keep him/her safe. Keep it simple here.
  5. Talk to your child about saying “no” to all classroom treats. This is tough, but it’s the ONLY way to stay safe at school.
  6. Use an allergy bracelet for your child.
  7. Keep an EPI-PEN inside your child’s backpack at all times so it is easily accessible. I like to keep ours in an AllerMates case – it has our phone number and contact information inside.
  8. Build the treat box and have fun with it. We decorated ours with stickers, and I made a special trip to the grocery store with just my daughter so she could take her time choosing treats. They better be good, after all, they are replacing classroom birthday treats! That’s a big deal!

Our treat box is filled with:

  1. Simply Balanced fruit leathers from Target
  2. Hostess Ding-Dongs
  3. Little Bites Brownies
  4. Little Bites Party Cakes
  5. Enjoy Life Chocolate Candy-Bars

Our treat box will be kept inside the classroom for the entire school year. These snacks will replace Birthday treats, holiday treats, party treats and any other time a treat or snack is brought into the class. We used the same size last year and only had to fill it one time. At the end of the year, we had about 6 treats left over.

I also like to reference this website to help prepare for the school year. It can be especially helpful if your school doesn’t have a comprehensive allergy policy.

Food Allergy Resource Center  – I thought this article below was a good reminder, too.

Food Allergy Tips for Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs).
Today, one in 13 children has food allergies, and nearly 40 percent of these children have experienced a severe or lifethreatening reaction. Many of these reactions happen at school. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a vital part of the school community, providing an organized family and community component.

As a PTO or PTA leader, you can be a powerful voice for your children and other children, advocating for their health, safety, education and overall well-being.
Children with food allergies need your support to ensure their safety and inclusion. From classroom parties, to school family nights, to after-school fundraisers, keep in mind that all students in the community should be able to participate safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published National Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools, available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC. The recommendations below are a few examples of recommended
practices to help ensure students with food allergies are safely included. We encourage you to review the complete list of the CDC’s Recommended Practices, on pages 41–43 of the guidelines available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC.
• Avoid the use of identified allergens in class parties, holidays, celebrations, crafts, snacks or rewards.
• Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts, awards, and fundraisers.
• When possible, avoid ordering foods from restaurants because food allergens may be present, but unrecognized.
Have ingredient information readily available for all pre-packaged and/or catered food items.
• Do not exclude children with food allergies from events or extra-curricular activities.
• Make sure that food allergy policies and practices address foods available during fundraisers, class parties, at
athletic events and during after-school programs.
• Have rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors in cases of emergency and train staff to use them.

Did you know?

Food allergies may constitute a disability under the law. Children with food allergies are entitled to an equal opportunity to participate in all school programs and events including extra-curricular activities. This usually applies to activities held by groups such as PTOs and PTAs. (See Section 5 of the CDC guidelines for more information on federal laws that pertain to food allergies.)

20170821_100212.jpg

Sun flowers are so important to us nut allergic families. Sun butter is our alternative to peanut butter.

Have a great first day back to school. I hope your preparations put your mind at ease a little.

 

Birthday Parties, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

May the 4th Be With You!

20170504_135311 (1)

Star Wars day was awesome. My kids are really into Star Wars right now, as is the hubs, so when we we were menu planning on Sunday, the kids REALLY wanted to do something fun for May 4th.

(Side bar: I’m drinking Valentine Coffee right now with 1 tsp of Nestle Quick Bunny Chocolate powder, and it’s amaze. You should try it. Seriously. 20 calories, but it has vitamins and tastes like a skinny mocha from Starbucks. No lie.)

Star Wars Day is also my mother-in-laws birthday! So we celebrated big time! Here is the menu:

May the 4th Menu

  • Obe-Wan Kebabies: skewered watermelon balls, strawberries, blackberries and grapes
  • Darth Vader Taters: made Oreida tater tots
  • Han-Burgers: patted out eight burger patties using grass fed organic beef from Madison
  • BB-8 Cake: Betty Crocker cake mix with homemade butter cream frosting. Safe, nut-free, black icing can be found at Target, Wilton Brand. Be careful with Wilton brand. They make a lot of cake decor and MOST of it is made in a facility with nuts. I really lucked out this time. Usually, I cannot buy their stuff. For the shape of the cake, I just used one 9 inch spring form cake pan and one 4 inch spring form cake pan. With each of them, make sure they cool completely, and use a serrated knife to take off the “dome” layer and even it out. With the 4 inch cake, trim the top accordingly and then cut about 1/4 off the bottom of the cake.
  • Luke Sky Water: Just water. Nothing special.
  • At the last minute, we found some Star Wars dinner plates, cake plates and napkins at Target in the kids party section. Also found some cardboard masks with all the popular characters. Except Rey. Seriously? I have so many feels about this topic, but that’s not for this blog post.

Until next time, May the Force Be With You! Thanks for stopping by…

Birthday Parties, Uncategorized

Mini Troll Gardens

Today my lovely daughter is celebrating her birthday at school. We wanted to do something a little different than cupcakes or cake. Since Trolls is very popular with her right now, and the idea of Dirt Cake was intriguing, we combined the two. Mini Troll Gardens it is! 
We made chocolate pudding, topped with crushed Oreo cookies. Michaels had a silk flower sale and we bought two mini boquets and took them apart. Lastly, Target had the mini trolls in “mystery” bags, so we didn’t know which troll we were getting. Luckily we only needed 10.

Happy Wednesday. These are nut free and fun!

Birthday Parties, Uncategorized

Happiest Birthday Party!

Birthday Parties. According to our 5 and 3 year old, these kid-centric events seem to be the best part about going to school and meeting new friends! Both of their classrooms have lots of birthdays + parties and we always look forward to spending time with their friends and families.

First, I never, ever want a family to feel like they need to change a birthday menu or cake due to our food allergies. The birthday girl/boy gets to celebrate how THEY want, and that’s how it should be and we 100% will always default to this. We will bring our own birthday treat. This is why I keep cupcakes frozen and frosting ready. So when it does happen, that we know a family so well, and they easily integrate safe foods into their birthday menu, we are SO appreciative.

Chloe’s friend turned 6 yesterday and we have celebrated almost all of her birthdays together. Exciting!! We know this family well and it was an amazing party. The Mom should really consider her own business becuase her creativity and organization is amazing and beautiful.

Rewind a few weeks ago, the birthday girl’s mom messaged me to work out some menu items to be safe. Here’s what we did to make it easy for all:

1. Text / phone 1-3 weeks in advance to discuss food.

2. Offer to help buy nut-free items and close the loop on who is bringing what.

3. Determine what Amazon Prime can do (basically everything) and make sure it arrives a few days before party.

The birthday theme was “Ice Cream Party” and it was wonderful. As with any dessert item, even ice cream, the trickiest part is finding safe toppings. Here’s what she had:

1. Gummy worms

2. Maraschino cherries

3. Mini oreos

4. Nerds

5. Mini-chocolate chip cookies (allergy free) https://enjoylifefoods.com/

6. Chocolate syrup (Hershey’s)

7. Vanilla Blue Bunny Ice Cream

We are so grateful for this family and their inclusiveness. Chloe never expected to be able to eat at her friends party, but when I said, “Yes, go get in line with your friends, everything here is safe,” she was so excited!

Our standby treats for most birthday parties are:

1. Our own homemade frozen cupcakes and frosting.

2. Hostess cupcake if I’m in a hurry.

3. Mini snack bag with safe chocolate chips, marshmallows and Graham crackers.

4. York peppermint patty.

5. Tootsie rolls

What a fun party. I’m not sure how we got to “6” already, but time sure does fly when you’re having fun. Cheers to many more laughs and fun times with the three musketeers!.💖