Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Accommodating Food Allergies

My good friend Julia posted this article on her blog today. I have copied and pasted the majority of it below. It is a great resource for info on accommodating Ryan's food allergies. I have changed the first paragraph of her posting to reflect Ryan's allergies.

Back in March Ryan was diagnosed with food allergies. He is allergic to peanuts, pine nuts and pistachios (a tree nut). We were told to avoid all kinds of nuts due to the likely cross-contamination. Therefore, we cannot eat peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios or really anything that has been produced in a facility with peanuts or tree nuts.

How do you accommodate such allergies? There are three things to check for: ingredients, processing facilities, and food preparation.

This part is pretty straight forward. We just check the ingredient list for peanuts or tree nuts. Tree nuts include macadamia, brazil, cashew, almond, walnut, pecan, pistacho, chestnut, beechnut, hazelnut, pine nut, ginko nut, and hickory nut. For tree nuts, walnuts and cashews are the two nuts that cause the most reactions.

Processing Facilities
By law, food manufacturers must list allergens on the label. The hard part is remembering to look at the label. Then, it's one thing to know that there are no nuts in a particular food; it's a whole other thing to check non-nut items to see if they were processed in a facility that processes nuts. For example, although the following foods do not have nuts in them, they are often processed in a facilty that processes nuts:

Pancake batter
French onion soup mix
Cookie dough
Cake mix
Boxed mashed potatoes
Rice mixes
Ice Cream

For every food item I buy, I check the ingredient list and then check the processing facility.

Food Preparation
The last part of accommodating a food allergy is the way the food is prepared. Even if the food doesn't include nuts and hasn't been processed in a nut facility, it must steer clear of other nut foods during preparation. For example, a child who is allergic to peanuts cannot have sugar cookies that were baked on the same cookie sheet or plated on the same platter as peanut butter cookies. Same goes for the cooking utensils. Cross-contamination is a fairly easy problem to avoid in the house; it is a much larger problem when we go out to eat.

I recently came across chef cards that alert chefs to allergies. The cards put all these instructions on one small business card:

WARNING! I am severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame. For me to avoid a life-threatening reaction, I must avoid all foods that include these ingredients. Please ensure that my food does not contain any of these ingredients and that any utensils and equipment used to prepare my meals, as well as prep areas, are thoroughly cleaned prior to use. THANK YOU!

Here's another one:

WARNING! FOOD ALLERGY ALERT! I have a severe food allergy to nuts and all foods made with nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, hickory nuts, and pralines. This also includes nuts in sauces, spices, salad dressing, flour seasonings, pesto, flavored extracts, pastes, topping, cooking oil, desserts, and baked goods. If I eat nuts or any food that has been cooked with them or touched them including food preparation surfaces and utensils, I will need immediate medical attention.

Food allergies are on the rise, and restaurants are getting better and better at accommodating allergies. Just the other day, IHOP cleaned one whole side of their griddle so we could be sure to have nut-free pancakes. We love IHOP! We're crossing our fingers that Sydney and Cole grow out of their allergies, but until then, we will have to accommodate them as best we can!

Monday, November 29, 2010

You're Gonna Miss This..

When Ryan was first born the song "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins was on the radio at least 10 times a day. I know this because I was trying to teach him the difference between day and night and had the radio going all day long. When I would rock him to sleep, totally sleep deprived myself I would often find those words coming through the radio.

I have this blog primarily as a way for me to look back and remember things because I have a terrible memory. There are so many little things that I do not want to forget. Ever. But I am afraid that as time goes by that I will. They are the tiniest little things, every day things that most people would take for granted. Things like...
  • The funny way Ryan smiles when he says something that he thinks is funny.
  • How Ryan laughs hysterically at the littlest things. One of the things that always makes him laugh is giving Ducky Kisses with a little toy duck.
  • How Owen loves to cuddle and if I am home you can forget anyone else rocking him before bed.
  • How Owen's head fits perfectly into my hand when I am rocking him and his long lashes flutter on my cheeks.
  • How Owen laughs just because Ryan is laughing.
  • How Ryan loves to help with anything (dishes, laundry, making a sandwich, using tools, you name it and he will help!)
  • The sweet and cute things that Ryan says. When he wants to be held and cuddled "I want to hold you, Mommy" When he is tired of walking, "Care-up, Mommy" When he is curious about something, "how this works Daddy?" When he changes the ending of a word - for instance, eating Kix cereal, he picks up one and says "I got a kick" or he was putting a cow puzzle together and said "I got two cowses".

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Holidays are hard for me when we are far away from our families. This year we were gearing up for Thanksgiving on our own (I go all out still cooking up a storm), when a friend invited us to Thanksgiving with her family. I don't think I can express how much that meant to us. Thanksgiving is and has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the gathering of friends and family, the yummy food and reflecting on the wonderful things in our lives. We had a great time celebrating with our friends. I hope that in the future when circumstances do not allow us to spend time with our family on Thanksgiving that we are able to spend the day with dear friends.

We have so many wonderful things to be thankful for this year. Some of the people that I am most thankful for are below...

Me and my little guys..

A sneak preview of the boys Christmas photo shoot...

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken

As I mentioned before, I am going to start sharing other things on the blog besides family updates. I got this recipe from a friend and boy is it good! For those of you that don't know, I love my slow cooker. If it weren't for the slow cooker, we would probably have a whole lot less home cooked meals. I love the ease of this meal and that I can easily throw all of the ingredients straight into the crock pot and that I am not spending forever trying to cook!

I serve with rice and stir fry veggies and it is a hit!!!

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t ground ginger
2 cans sliced water chestnuts ( I skip these b/c Jeff doesn't like them)
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Place chicken in slow cooker. Mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic and ginger. Spread water chestnuts and green onions over chicken and pour soy sauce mixture over the top. Cook on low for approx. 5 hours

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's that time of year...

It is no secret that I love pictures. The fall of 2008 I had family pictures taken for the specific purpose of getting a holiday photo card! I have ordered photo cards from a couple of different places but my favorite is Shutterfly. Their holiday cards are high quality (I prefer the card stock cards) their designs are fantastic and they arrive quickly. Even better --- they are on sale for up to 30% off! Shutterfly has become one of my favorite gift giving destinations and has wonderful ideas for proud Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Some of my favorites are their calendars (also on sale and they have some fantastic new designs this year) and coffee mugs that you can personalize with your favorite pictures!

Now the big decisions of deciding exactly which card we will use this year.
Here are a few cute ideas...

The traditional folded card. You can even customize this card with photos on the inside and there is plenty of room for text.

A flat card that combines the photograph with a bulleted list (update on the letters that some families send) - a really cute and fun way to recap the year.

Super cute and festive design in a flat card.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Fluppy Dog!

A week or so ago we took the boys to the Build A Bear Workshop for the first time. We let Ryan pick and make the animal he wanted. His choice, a very soft and cuddly dog. He was a little confused at first, and mainly wanted to push these sound buttons -- his favorite being the Star Wars theme song. I believe that you put the little sounds into the animals paw and press it later...we opted for an animal with no sounds. ;)

I didn't get as many pictures as I had hoped to get. I also realized that I don't need to carry my professional camera with me on these outings because when I switch it to the auto mode it really annoys me. Random focal points, horrible lighting and takes up a ton of room...time to get a little point and shoot!

Not sure what to think when he was filling up the dog with stuffing. I am pretty certain he was wondering what exactly the lady was doing to his puppy!

Bath time --- Ryan loved this part and would have bathed his puppy for an hour if we would have let him. He liked brushing the dog, and drying him off with a blowdryer. I got no good pictures of this event...

Then it was on to naming dog. Ryan picked the name "Puppy Dog" or at least that is what we thought he chose to name him. Little did we know that we put the wrong name on the birth certificate, his name is actually FLUPPY dog. I wonder how much it costs to get a name change form?

Proud of his new puppy..he loves Fluppy's house too!

He wanted to carry Fluppy home just like this..

Loving on his two favorites, Fluppy and monkey.

Fluppy has been right by Ryan's side since he came home. He eats with us at the dinner table, he has been added to the animal collection that Ryan sleeps with, he is Ryan's tv watching buddy and I must say he is the easiest puppy we have ever had!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What a difference a year makes...

then there's this. I wish we could just slow down a little bit....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Going Greenish

No, we don't have a hybrid. No, we don't always recycle everything we should. I am making the switch to all natural cleaners! We have been using vinegar to clean things for a while, but I have decided to take the plunge and get rid of a lot of my store bought stuff in favor of making my own. With little boys who like to eat off the floor, crawl around and the like, I figure it is much better for them (and us). A couple of weeks ago our cleaning lady came. When she left I had to open up all the windows and we actually left for a little so that the aroma of cleaning products could actually diminish. I don't know if she mixed things that didn't need to be mixed or if the cleaners were just overly potent that day. I figured that it was not healthy for me and it surely couldn't be good for the boys to breathe that stuff in.

My new cleaner works like a charm! It costs pennies to make an entire bottle and it leaves most surfaces looking great! I am on the hunt for a glass cleaner (or recipe), but this all purpose cleaner is fantastic! It's amazing how much a little vinegar and a box of baking soda can do! :)

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 gallon (1 liter) hot water
  • a few drops of essential oil (optional)

Combine the ingredients, stir, and let cool for a few minutes before pouring into a spray bottle. Tea tree essential oil has antiseptic properties, making it a winner for cleaners. But my favorite aromas come from orange, lemon, and lavender essential oils. Use and enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Everyone keeps telling me the boys look like twins (seriously I get asked if they are at least 1 time per week). I think they are kind of right, these boys are looking more and more alike! So CUTE!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chop, chop..

Yesterday the boys got their hair cut. I think I cried, the boys however did not. Jeff thinks I am being ridiculous because they "needed to get a haircut, it was too long" but I love(D) the way Ryan's hair curled the slightest bit behind his ear. The picture above makes me miss their casual, slightly out of control, long locks. The lady even put some sort of styling agent on my baby's hair. It was precious but seriously, gel on a 12 month old?! My boys look so grown up now and as soon as I recover from the shock of their new look, I will post pictures.

Side note - we are going to attempt family pictures afternoon. I am praying for one, just one good picture for a Christmas card. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank you Jeff

for capturing little images like these. I don't think you know how much I cherish these sweet, candid moments.


This picture makes my heart happy.
and makes me think these boys need to get their hair cut.
maybe that will be an activity for this weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 on the 10th..

I realize that today is actually the 11th, but I had every intention of doing this post yesterday. I think I might start it as a monthly thing, maybe.

1. Ryan recently discovered the difference between a horse and a donkey. He thinks that the word donkey is hilarious. Even more hilarious - the sound a donkey makes. The child just laughs and laughs anytime you say "Heeehawww".
2. Ryan was given a great book "What is Christmas?" from his friend Emily last year. He has really gotten into it in the past few weeks. There is a nativity scene in the book and he knows Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the wise men and then there is the shepherd. He calls the shepherd "Bo Peep" because he holds a shepherd's crook just like she does in Toy Story. It is just funny when he lists off all of the people in the nativity scene and then gets to Bo Peep.
3. I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious. My friend always posts recipes on her family blog and it makes me think that I might try doing the same sometime. If I ever get time.
4. Owen's favorite game is peek-a-boo/hide and seek. He hide behind the curtains or behind a chair and peeks out over and over again. It is so much fun to play and I could sit there for hours with him and never get tired of his big grins and laughs.
5. Having 2 little boys not feel well at the same time is no fun at all. The only positive is that hopefully they will both feel better around the same time and we can have this cold out of our house faster!
6. I have decided to take a sewing class next year to learn how to use my sewing machine. Don't worry, I don't plan to sew any clothes -- maybe a pair of curtains or something. --- random I tell you!
7. Ryan has been wearing his "I moted" (I voted) sticker on his jacket for over a week now. He is so proud of it. It is losing all of it's stickiness and is starting to roll up around the edges. I should have asked for an extra.
8. It is my sister-in-law's birthday today and I wish we were there to give her a big birthday hug and eat some cake!!!
9. Ryan learned a blessing at school and he sings it before he eats. "God our Father we thank you, for our many blessings, for our many blessings, (and then mutters something that I cannot understand)" then he finishes by exclaiming, "Now let's eat muffins!" He refers to cupcakes as muffins and obviously they have been getting a lot of treats at school lately.
10. Ryan calls iced tea "teet". It is hilarious for him to run around saying "I need teet!"
11. Bonus - ever since our trip to Disney Ryan will say things like, "Go take a nap, wake up, go to Mickey Park, ride rocketships and see castle?" or he will say go to shiny ball, ride Nemo. I just think it is neat that he remembers so much from our trip! Can't wait to take him back again!


A couple of weeks ago one of my Mommy friends shared this link on Facebook. I read the article a few times and it really hit me hard. It caused me to take a step back and reevaluate things. It made me want to simplify my life, check to make sure the priorities I claimed to have were actually the same ones that I was living. I am now making an effort to go through all of our things and get rid of the things that really are not serving a purpose. It is a great article and I highly recommend it. :)

Project Simplify is in full swing here in the Abbott house. Jeff made a trip to the dump this morning to get rid of a bunch of junk and I have toys, clothes, kitchen gadgets, extra utensils and more heading to the donation center this afternoon!! Next up - our home office.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I noticed my header picture was over a year old...my oh my how the boys have changed. I am working on updates and plan to start blogging more. The new stuff is not perfect but it will do.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We voted!

We voted (well Jeff & I, not Ryan). Hoping to get the gears of "change" moving in the right direction for this country.

Disney Trip

I am way behind on blogging. At the beginning of October we took a week-long trip to Disney World with Jeff's parents. We decided to drive for a variety of reasons. The drive down was not bad at all but the drive back frankly sucked. The kids did great but we were gone for 10 nights and I was just ready to be back in my own bed. We broke the drive up into 2 days and it really was not bad at all -- just seemed like we were never going to get home.

The boys had a wonderful time in Disney and I think that Jeff and I had an even better time than they did! Ryan loved everything about the Magic Kingdom except for the loud fireworks shows. We tired him out every single day by 1pm. It only took 3 weeks of being back home for him to stop asking to go to "Mickey Park" 3 or 4 times a day. Now he likes to look at all the pictures we took on the trip instead and talk about all of the things he did while he was at Mickey Park. Owen was a trooper and as usual was in a great mood the entire time.

Here are a few favorite pictures from the trip. We are already thinking about when we will go back. Next time though we will stay on the Disney property in a hotel that has quick access (boat or monorail) to the Magic Kingdom.

Ryan met Pluto the moment we walked into MK for the first time. He was SO excited that we had to hold him back in line.

Ryan's first glimpse of "Mickey's Castle"

Mid-air on the rocket ships, one of Ryan's favorite rides

Waiting on the train at the Animal Kingdom

Pluto was the hardest working character at Disney, we saw him several times a day, every day.

Our date night, we cancelled our dinner reservation in favor of a night out at Magic Kingdom

Fun night at Mickey's Not-So Scary Halloween Party and Ryan's FAVORITE ride, Dumbo.

I love all the pictures with the castle in the background.


Mickey Ears!