Food Allergy Family Spotlight: Hope4Harper

In June of 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie Sane.  She is a fellow No Nuts Moms Groups Support Group Leader, and we connected at the FARE Support Group Leaders Summit in Chicago. Being from Georgia, she’s got that Southern charm that makes her an instant friend.

When you meet another food allergy mom, there’s an unspoken understanding of what each other is going through.  You both “get it”.  There’s such comfort in knowing that someone else understands the trials of raising a child with food allergies.  I have to admit, it was such a relief to be around Julie and other mothers that could look me in the eye and know exactly how I felt.

Julie and her husband, Jake, have two daughters, Harper and Sarah.  Harper has food, medicinal, and environmental allergies.  I’ve asked Julie some questions about Harper, how they are currently managing her allergies, and what the future holds for them.  I’m sure you’ll be able to learn from their life in the food allergy community.

Food Allergy Family Spotlight: Hope4Harper~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

Q. Tell us about your family’s food allergy diagnosis.

A. When Harper was 11 months old, she developed a life threatening peanut allergy.  She is now what the doctors refer to as atopic and is in the allergic triad.  Over the years she has added eczema, additional food allergies, medicinal allergies, and has recently tested positive to all but 17 possible environmental allergens.  She is also on the cusp of developing asthma which will only complicate food allergy reactions.  Her immune system is on an allergic path and she will continue to add allergens unless some type of treatment is sought.  The plethora of environmental allergies will lead to a loss in quality of life.  The life-threatening nature of food allergies can lead to a loss of life.

Q. What is the hardest thing about food allergies for your family?

A. The hardest thing is the emotional toll that it takes. There’s not one single aspect of life that isn’t touched or impacted by a food allergy diagnosis. Every coughing fit or random hive throws me into high alert mode. There are times when I want to raise the white flag, admit defeat, and move on, but with food allergies, you can’t do that.

Q. What has been a “blessing in disguise” while dealing with food allergies?

A. We are so much more aware of what is in our foods. We eat healthier because many processed foods contain hidden allergens. I have also found an amazing set of friends that understand what we live with.

Q. How do you feel about Harper’s future?

A. Hopeful. I feel so hopeful not only for Harper’s future but for every kid and parent that are going through this right now. We have great researchers and multiple treatment options that are in experimental stages. I just feel hopeful.

Food Allergy Family Spotlight: Hope4Harper~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

Q. Tell us a little about Dr. Li’s treatment and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

ADr. Li provides a collection of herbal medicinal treatments, which are currently going through the FDA approval process, but are available to some patients via private practice. They seek to return balance to the immune system, in a way that is not allergen-specific, thus ideal for those dealing with multiple food allergies and other “atopic” conditions, but is also effective for mono-allergic individuals. They have an excellent safety profile. In her private practice, treatment protocols are highly individualized, based on unique needs and priorities.

When learning about TCM, Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure by Henry Ehrlich is a must have resource and is available on Amazon.

*Read a few quotes that Julie found helpful while doing research on TCM.

Q. Why are you seeking a treatment for her allergies?

A. There are many reasons. We don’t want her to continue down the allergic path. We want her to be proactive and find a way to stop this.

Q. How can we help?

A. Thank you so much for asking. There are multiple ways that anyone can help.

1. We have a Facebook page so you can join us on her journey to healing: Hope4Harper.

2. We have a YouCaring (donation) page.

3. We are selling t-shirts. The sizes range from Youth XS – Adult 3X . February 28th, 2015 is the last day purchase a t-shirt. See the Hope4Harper Colletion HERE.

4. We have added “bravelets” to our collection. These are bracelets that raise awareness and funds for our cause. See the Hope4Harper Bravelets Colletion HERE.

5. Most importantly, please, please keep us in your prayers. Please share our information. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. ‪#‎Hope4Harper‬

Q. What’s one message you’d like to share with others about food allergies?

A. They are real and they are serious. Receiving a food allergy diagnosis is truly a life changing event but you don’t have to go through it alone. There are No Nuts Moms Groups (open to all food allergies) across the US, Canada, and UK. We are part of a fabulous community and are here to support each other.

Food Allergy Family Spotlight: Hope4Harper~Mom Vs. Food AllergyWe wish Julie, Harper, and their family the best in their quest to make life with allergies a little easier.  Comment below with encouraging words and questions.  

Ideas For an Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday to show our loved ones how much we care.  I have to admit, though, I don’t like spending a ton of money on just one day…since I love my family all year round.  So, I decided to compile a list of simple things that I’ll be doing for my kids leading up to Valentine’s Day.  Remember, simple is OK-you don’t have to be that Pinterest Supermom who handcrafts Valentine cards and throws a party for the neighborhood friends.  Keep in mind why they love you-for giving them fun, safe treats and being their best mom, which is the best kind of mom.

Here’s what I’ll be doing for Valentine’s Day….

-Chocolate suckers/candy

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

You can buy them pre-made from allergy-friendly companies, but they are very expensive!  I bought this mold and made my own from Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips!  Here’s how you do it:

1.  Add 1/3 cup safe chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon safe cooking oil to a small saucepan.

2. Melt on Medium-Low heat, stirring until smooth and melted.

3.  Add melted chocolate to mold using small spoon.

4.  Tap the mold on the countertop several times to release air bubbles in the chocolate.

5.  Put on a flat surface in freezer for 15 minutes (set a timer!).  Remove from freezer and they should come right out of the mold by gently lifting by the stick.  If you aren’t doing suckers, flip the mold over onto a plate or cookie sheet and gently tap.

You can easily find molds at craft stores or at cake supply stores, as well as on Amazon.

-Sunbutter & Jelly Heart Pancakes

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

1.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out a heart in the middle of a cooled pancake.

2.  Add jelly to the middle of the pancake and top the heart cut-out with Sunbutter.

3.  Add some strawberries for a delicious breakfast on Valentine’s Day.

-Heart Themed Lunch

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

This is always a fun surprise!  The picture shows an example of what I’ll be doing.  I made the cheese hearts out of a Daiya Cheese block-style, dairy-free cheese.  I added heart-shaped cheddar crackers and chocolate crackers as well as some X’s & O’s.  You can also slice cucumbers thin and use a cookie cutter to make hearts like in this post by Gratefulfoodie.  Add a heart-shaped Sunbutter & Jelly Sandwich and you’re all set!

-Chocolate Syrup Art

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

I used safe chocolate syrup to do a little art on the plate.  I’ll add some raspberries, banana chunks, or marshmallows for “dipping”.  Store your syrup art in the fridge (uncovered) until ready to serve.

-Marshmallow Pops

Allergy-Friendly, Budget-Friendly Valentine's Day~Mom Vs. Food Allergy

Kids LOVE these!

1.  Melt chocolate according to my directions above.

2.  Dip end of candy stick into chocolate before sticking it into the marshmallow.  This will be your glue to keep the marshmallow from slipping off.

3.  Let chocolate drip over saucepan until excess is gone and it doesn’t drip anymore.

4.  Hold over plate and slowly pour safe sprinkles over the chocolate, rotating as you do so.

5.  Chill in refrigerator on wax paper for about 15 minutes.  Or, stick them in styrofoam to prevent a flat spot on your marshmallow.  I propped mine up using a rolling pin on the end of the stick, and leaning the stick close to the marshmallow on a clothespin.  I did that all on wax paper lined jelly roll pan.  It was a last minute idea that ended up working after all, even if it was a little crazy looking!

**I use Betty Crocker or CakeMate sprinkles (most are Top 8 Free, but do your homework to make sure they are safe for your allergies)

-Smarties Conversation Hearts

I just got word that these Smarties Convo hearts are out this year!  So fun!  I have not yet seen them in stores, but only because I haven’t looked for V-Day candy.  If you know where to find them, please comment below and let us know where you found them.

-Heart Covered Door

I think I’ll cut out some hearts from construction paper, write things I love about my kids on them, and hang them up on their door after they go to bed on the 13th.  They’ll wake up to a surprise of  “I love you because…” hearts on their door.

-Spend time with them

I really think that’s all our kids want & need.  Do something fun!  Play some board games, have a movie day, bake cookies….just spend time with each other and connect.  We all need to cherish every last minute with our children.

What will you do to have an allergy-friendly, budget-friendly Valentine’s Day?  I’d love to see your ideas in the comments!

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