Empowering Our Youth With Food Allergies

Powerful words…

Tip # 4:  “Sometimes we make mistakes but please don’t lose trust in us.  Encourage us and have faith in that we will learn from our mistakes.”

Tip # 12:   “Give us knowledge to empower us for tomorrow.”

I have really been taking Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Council’s 31 Tips for parents with allergic youth to heart…I have two boys in their teens with multiple food allergies.

I can’t stop thinking that my eldest son, Michael, in Grade 11, with multiple food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberries…will be leaving home soon to start his own journey in life with food allergies.

Every day I read a new tip…each day I wonder…have I prepared him to be independent…have I taught him to be his own advocate…does he feel empowered?

Questions all parents ask of themselves when their children reach that certain age…however, having multiple food allergies adds another element of responsibility on the part of the parents and their children.

How does a parent with a child/children with multiple food allergies successfully pass the torch…teach their children to be advocates for themselves…empower them?

Life is all about choices…as parents, we make all the choices for our children but as they grow and mature, there are always opportunities to give our children the chance to take some risks and make some choices.

Isn’t that what growing up is all about…taking risks and learning from them?

Living with multiple food allergies adds another dimension to the risk taking that tends to immobilize us as parents…we understand full well the stakes are much higher when confronted with multiple food allergies.

How, as parents, do we rationalize this reality…while at the same time give our children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes?

I am not an expert…just a parent of two teenagers with multiple food allergies…looking for answers just as much as the next parent with children with food allergies.

I know as a parent with children with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma issues…my husband and I have made our fair share of mistakes. I have a very large back-pack of guilt that topples me over from time to time.  I have to constantly remind myself…there is no use going back…only forward.

My husband and my mistakes are the templates from which we learn and teach our children with food allergies from…I am forever telling my boys…

“I may not always like the choices that you make but I will always love you.”

I am currently trying to put together all my thoughts, tips, words of wisdom, adapted recipes and experiences as a parent of children with food allergies together. I am hoping to create something that my boys and youth with food allergies can take away with them on the day they head off into the big wide world.

What types of questions cross your mind?

What do the allergic youth of today need in order for them to feel empowered as they leave home for the first time?

I would greatly appreciate your input as parents of children with food allergies, youth with food allergies and parents and youth with food allergies that have already been through these experiences.

Youth with food allergies are uniting…let’s join them!

Please leave a comment or email me at my new address: susan@thefoodallergychronicles.com

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More Inspiring Food Allergy, Eczema and Asthma Bloggers

I have put together a list of inspirational food allergy, eczema and asthma bloggers compiled from skin and food allergy bloggerThe Allergista and food allergy blogger, Dairy-Egg-Nut.

I have written a little about each, in the hopes of spreading their stories and inspiring many!

I want to thank The Allergista and Dairy-Egg-Nut for posting and sharing their ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ Award lists. It is a great opportunity to widen our network of allergy related bloggers…get ready to be inspired!

1.  ‘The Other Courtney’…Courtney is an eczema and allergy sufferer…I love her post titled, ‘You Might Have Eczema if…’, totally relatable…it made me smile. 🙂

2.  ‘Linda Sepp Life with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: The importance of safe housing’…Linda’s life is an eye-opener…Linda is a Canadian, ‘disabled and housebound from severe Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Environmental Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, and Electromagnetic HyperSensitivity.’ Read all about her journey by clicking here. The information she has researched will have you re-evaluating what you injest, breathe in and put next to your skin. I had no idea this existed…Linda’s life is inspiring to say the least!

3.  Lifewithfa Life with Food Allergies: A Mom’s Perspective…Alice is a mother of two young boys with multiple food allergies…a combination of 18+ between them! (peanuts/tree nuts, wheat, egg, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, barley, rye, lentils, buckwheat, peas, chickpeas, chicken, turkey, celery and sesame seeds) Like myself, she is often asked, “So, What Do You Eat?”  I can totally relate to her life as a mom faced with the challenges of every day life living with multiple food allergies.

4. Photosensitivity & Solar Urticaria Blog…since February/March 2011, this blogger has been diagnosed with a rare form of Solar Urticaria…she needs to avoid sunlight. Again, I had no idea this existed! Talk about an inspiring girl!

5.  My Food Intolerance Journey: This WordPress.com site is following my road back to full health…Dean suffers from food and chemical sensitivities. Dean is currently taking low dose immunotherapy…click here to read.more.. and trying to heal a leaky gut…click here to read more. I remember when my eldest son was young, I felt he had a leaky gut…I also started him on probiotics (a dairy free version) and EFA’s (evening primrose oil and flax oil)…he is still on them to this day.

6.  Surviving Seattle With Allergies enjoying food to the fullest:  Adrienne writes to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining one’s personal health…her blog is full of her recipes.

7.  Food Allergy Experience: Dainty is a mother of two. Her son has multiple food allergies to…dairy, soy, wheat , eggs, peanut/tree nuts, mango and shellfish. He also suffers from eczema and asthma. To read about her journey, just click here. Dainty posts her son’s weekly menus, shares her experiences of living with food allergies and posts allergy friendly recipes.

8.  PINKLIKEABEACON Topical period Withdrawl-Taking it one day at a time:  at Day 175- 25 weeks off steriods…this blogger’s skin would be a bit of a shock for anyone not familiar with eczema. Reminds me very much of Michael’s skin. It breaks my heart to see these pictures as I know exactly what she is going through. I had no idea, at the time, that there was such a thing as ‘topical steroid withdrawl’. I am now starting to believe that perhaps Michael went through this phase as we weaned him off his steroid creams. If your child is on any steroid cream for eczema…you should check this out.

9.  Allergictolifemybattle Life Can Change in an Instant:  Severe mold in the workplace changed the life of this mother of two…immune system dysfunction, severe depression and near financial ruin. In 2003, she started her book on how devastating mold can be…‘Allergic to Life’ will be available Summer 2013. Click here for her post on her book update…I love the poem she wrote.

10.  Adventures of an Allergic Foodie Don’t let celiac disease and allergies hold you back:  Allergic to asparagus, capers, cashews, corn, dairy, guar flour , kefir, nutmeg, pineapple, rennet, soy, vanilla and yeast..this blogger also lives with celiac disease and Eosinoplhilic Esophagatis (EoE)…she is a girl who in her words, “struggles to eat”. With an autoimmune system that has gone ‘haywire’, I love her mantra, “I don’t believe in whining. I do believe obstacles are put in our lifepaths for a reason-and I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to let food allergies hold me back!”

11.  adaptingtoallergies adapting our lives and recipes to live safely with severe food allergies:  Melanie is mother to two children…her son JT has severe food allergies and has asthma. Melanie tells her family’s story…she states, ” I have adapted to live safely with food allergies without turning our lives upside down.”

12. The Crunchy Cook Learning to love food again, one allergen/gluten-free recipe at a time. The blogger has a long list of food allergens…gluten(wheat, barley, rye,spelt), dairy, eggs, soy, peaches, pork, shrimp, mushrooms, strawberries, tomatoes, tuna, aspartame, peanuts(life-threatening/airborne level), honeydew, beef, annato, apples, and a sugar, honey and molasses sensitivity. With all these food allergens, I love The Crunchy Cooks attitude…she states, “when I look at all the tasty things that are still options, it makes life-or at least the putting-food-in-my-mouth-part seem more manageable.” Click here for her list of foods she enjoys to eat.

13.  Please Don’t Pass The Nuts (TM) Just because you have a restricted diet, doesn;t mean you have a restricted life. Sloane Miller, aka. Allergic Girl, is my idol! She is the author of the book that anyone with food allergies should read…Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies. I did a reveiw on her book awhile back…click here to read. Her book made me feel better about all that I was trying to do for my boys and inspired me to ‘step out of my box’…something I continue to strive to do.

15.  The Allergy Eats Blog Your Allergy Friendly Restaurant Blog: This site is a “user-friendly guide to allergy-friendly restaurants across the United States. It is a peer-reviewed directory of restaurants – rated by people with food allergies, for people with food allergies.” written by a father of five with three of his children with food allergies. Click here to read more. I love the post he wrote on, “The  Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in America”…click here for the post.

16.  It’s A Hard Nut Life is written by a fellow with nut allergies and has a condition called Dermatographia…”too much Histamine in your blood and when your skin gets irritated or scratched, it rises to the surface and causes a little bump.” Apparently, this condition is quite common with people with allergies. Click here to read his post on this condition and check out the interesting artwork he has drawn on his skin.

17.  Ingredients all about cosmetics, chemistry and fashion: Louise has always loved fashion…when she was finishing her Ph.d, she experienced a bad allergic reaction to a skin care product.  The bio chemist in her was determined to learn more about cosmetic products…she obtained a post-graduate certificate in cosmetic science from the U.K. Society of Cosmetic Scientists. Louise’s blog, Ingredients, is all about combining her love of fashion, chemistry and cosmetics…in her words, “My goal is to provide balanced, objective information and product reviews, based on real science and my knowledge of organic chemistry, skin anatomy and biochemistry.”

18.  Allergy Warriors and Gluten-Free Gal For people with a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity:  Allergy Warrior Annie is a mother of two…her eldest has a peanut and egg allergy. Allergy Warrior Annie chose her name “because anyone who has a food allergy knows how much of a battle it is to be safe!” Gluten-Free Gal Lizzie shares her recipes, tips and tricks “about living gf in a world where gluten seems to be everywhere.”

I know I must be missing some…please let me know in the comments, of any inspiring allergy, eczema and asthma bloggers that you feel should be highlighted.

Who inspires you?

Ringing In The New Year, 2013 To New Opportunities

Happy New Year!

Ringing in the New Year, 2013

Ringing in the New Year…I am so ready for a fresh start! With family members, including myself, suffering from a chest infection that infiltrated our family…hence, my disappearance from the blogging world…I think we are all looking forward to a healthier New Year!

The New Year brings new recipes to adapt, new allergy friendly products to discover and my continuing to learn and grow in the world of food allergies.

My New Year’s resolution maintains the same…to be more organized in my life. I have many recipes, magazines and articles to sort through, decluttering of an impenetrable storage and pantry room, and many years worth of photos to organize and file…the list could go on.

Most of all…I need to organize the direction that my life is going.

I knew this day would eventually arrive…despite the fact that most of Michael’s baked goods and meals still need to be baked from scratch due to his multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, beef, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberries) and Matthew has a peanut/tree nut allergy…my teenaged boys are becoming quite independent in the kitchen. An accomplishment I am truly proud of them for achieving.  

It is time for me to find new opportunities…where and what that is, I am unsure. It is a new journey for me to pursue. I hope that it will entail all that I have learned on my journey with food allergies, eczema and asthma. If it does not, I know that the journey that I have experienced thus far will always be with me ready to share with anyone who has the time to listen.

Changes in life are both exciting and anxiety producing…I hope to meet these challenges ahead of me with renewed optimism.

I thoroughly enjoy writing my blog, The Food Allergy Chronicles. My goal is to continue my blog while pursuing other avenues. Any suggestions are welcomed!

What does the New Year hold in store for you?

The Food Allergy Chronicles’ First Anniversary

The Food Allergy Chronicles is happy to announce it’s 1st Anniversary Milestone!

The Food Allergy Chronicle family

I can hardly believe that a year has gone by since my best friend, Michelle and I, first discussed starting a blog of my family’s journey with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma.

What a journey it has been!

I want to thank all my friends and family for their support, everyone who has signed on as a subscriber and all those that have left comments…it feels great to know I am not alone in this adventure of a lifetime! 

Our journey started off rather bumpy…multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma combined with sleep deprivation, lack of information and lack of support…creating many challenges for our family. Yet, here we are today! We are surviving!

Would you like to know the secret?

HOPE

 A word of wisdom, from my mother, that still rings in my ear today…”This too shall pass.”

The hope that, ‘this too shall pass’ was my mantra. It got me through the many times I faced battling Michael’s eczema…the sleepness nights, his painful cries, the endless bathing and creaming, the infections, the countless visits to various doctors, changing bloody bed sheets, washing bloody bed sheets, and the endless vacuuming and dusting of dust mites.

Hope was there for me when I struggled with all Michael’s multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, beef, fish, seafood, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberries). The hope that one day he may outgrow them…by the way, we are still hoping!

Until that time, I have dedicated myself to ‘using what I know to solve that which I do not know’ in my cooking and baking…basically, finding substitutions to create tasty meals and treats to satisfy Michael’s growing appetite for food!

Hope is ever lingering…even at my lowest, I would search for that ‘glimmer of hope.’ It might have taken a few days of despair but hope would eventually turn up…‘recharging my batteries’!

My hope with The Food Allergy Chronicles, is to pass on a ‘glimmer of hope’ to families that are struggling with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma, who feel lost, alone and unsure of the future. I hope our journey inspires other families to embrace all that they have…‘use what you know to help solve that which you don’t know.’

I know, easier said than done…but one needs to start somewhere!

Speaking of hope…our family is currently searching for a ‘glimmer of hope’ as we face yet another challenge.

X-rays have revealed that I have severe degenerative changes in my C5-6 and C6-7 discs causing numbness in my left hand fingers. I have a significant compression at the T11 vertebral segment (50% volume lost)! Apparently, I have older lesser compressions at T9 and T10!

I have since had a bone density test…negative for osteoporosis. I am currently waiting for my results for my total body bone scan and an appointment for an MRI.

In the meantime, I have been rendered useless!

I am not able to carry or lift anything…my movements are limited. Vacuuming, washing the floors, carrying the laundry basket, pushing a grocery cart, carrying grocery bags, opening the dishwasher, bending to empty the dishwasher, filling the kettle with water, carrying pots are all off-limits. Just sitting here and typing this post puts a strain on my neck!

Currently, I am hoping for some answers, pain relief and a positive outlook! In the meantime, I am cherishing the positive outcomes of this unexpected turn of events!

My ‘knights in shining armor’ have come to my rescue! Andy and the boys have really ‘stepped up to the plate’! 

Everyone is becoming more actively involved within the household …with little to no complaints. For example, the boys empty the dishwasher, laundry baskets are brought to and fro, the recycling is taken out to the garage, dishes are put away into the dishwasher…all without a ‘peep’ when I need to remind them. I have also been accompanied to the grocery store where someone pushes the cart for me, retrieves heavy items from the shelves, packs up the groceries, carries them to the house, where they are unloaded and put away. My ‘knights are taking my breath away!’ lol

Michael has also become quite creative in the kitchen! One lunch had him boiling up little potatoes while he sautéed chopped onions and mushrooms. He then added the sliced potatoes to brown alongside the onions and mushrooms. Just at the end, he sprinkled in a little Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds to melt. As he gobbled up his meal, he realized that he could have added the ham he was eating or added some bacon to his concoction…next time!

Needless to say, discovering all my back and neck issues the week before heading up to the rented cottage was a little anticlimactic. Turns out, the week away was the best thing for me!

I hope to post our experience at our rented cottage and the allergy friendly meals we all enjoyed (Michael celebrated his 16th birthday midway through the week)…hopefully by Monday.

Thank you again for a year’s worth of stopping by at The Food Allergy Chronicles!

I Finished My First 1/2 Marathon at 46

WIN 1/2 Marathon May 27, 2012Saturday started off like any other Saturday…except for the fact that Andy and I went and picked up our race kit for the Whitby International North (WIN) 1/2 Marathon at the Abilities Centre.

Picking up race package for WIN 1/2 Marathon at the Abilities Centre

A dollar for every WIN Marathon registrants will be donated to the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ontario.

‘The Abilities Centre will be a world-class recreation, athletic and performing arts facility fully accessible to all persons of all ages and abilities.’

In our ‘goodie bag’ was an official WIN T-shirt, our racing bib with our number and chip.

T-shirt in race package for WIN 1/2 Marathon

Very exciting!

It was early to bed for an early to rise occasion for everyone…including the boys!

Oh, how I was fretting Saturday night…my nerves were getting the best of me…surprisingly, I awoke much calmer and ready to go!

I like to run alone…I get intimidated by other runners and lose track of my own pace. I was so thankful that there were pacers at the race…1:30, 1:45, 2:00 and 2:10 were the times to follow.

I figured I would be somewhere between 1:45 and 2:00…so I kept in between them for good measure!

When the 1:45 pacer passed me with his entourage…I held back joining in on the pack and just tried to run my own race.

It was a perfect day for running…cloudy, and cool with a slight breeze. I truly enjoyed the run as part of it was running along the lake or out in the ‘boonies‘. Serene with no traffic!

The first half of the race, I felt I was making good time and worried that perhaps my pace was too fast. However, towards the end…when I hit the 18th km  marker…I knew I had more to give. Unfortunately, there were no markers for the 19th and 20th km so I was in a bit of a blunder…I increased my pace just knowing that I must be close.

Turning, what I felt must be the last corner, I was told there was 200m to the finish line. WHAT! I immediately kicked it into high gear, passing the last of the runners in front of me…”You win!”, he said as we ran side by side, and I took off with all that I had left in me!

With all the turns, I had lost the 1:45 pacer but knew I couldn’t be that far behind so I was in shock as I got closer to the timer posted that read 1:45:…WHAT! It couldn’t be? But it was!

I turned it up yet another notch…I wanted to cross the finish line before the time turned to 1:46…

Me finishing the WIN 1/2 Marathon

and I did…1:45:41 was my official chip time…1:45:47 was my gun time.

I was blubbering mess, out of breath…I just couldn’t believe it!

There at the end were my boys full of smiles and celebratory congratulations…it was very emotional for me!

With my medal around my neck and water bottles in hand, I made my way over to watch for Andy with the boys.

He was aiming for under 2:00…

Andy finishing the WIN 1/2 Marathon

he made it! So proud! Andy’s official time was 1:59:45!

We did it!

Andy and I with our WIN 1/2 Marathon medals

The official standings for each age group were finally posted. Matthew and I ventured over…”Mommy, I see your name!”…”There, look!”, Matthew announced. Oh my gosh I came in second in my age group!

Wearing my winning shirt from the WIN 1/2 Marathon

I choose this lovely pink long-sleeved running shirt with the WIN logo on it as my prize!

Turns out, I actually came in third. As the winning overall women was in my age category, I believe she was not counted in the standings. Still, I will take third out of the 42 women that ran in my age group!

Years ago, I had the pleasure of listening and meeting Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons. What an inspiring man! He signed the back of a Christmas card (all I could quickly find at my desk) addressed to my Michael (just around a year old at the time).

“Michael, Dream Big!” was what he wrote along with his signature. The card was framed and has been displayed in his room ever since.

When I heard that Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons was speaking at the 2005 Allergy Expo in Toronto,I knew I needed to take the boys to hear him speak for themselves. Michael Clemons’ wife has asthma and is allergic to shellfish and his middle daughter is allergic to all seafood. Click here to read an interview with Michael Clemons and his wife by Allergic Living Magazine on their life with allergies.

My boys were enthralled…they were captivated…I had never seen them sit still and focus for so long…if you ever get the chance to hear Michael Clemons speak…take it!

Five years ago my dream of running would have seemed unreachable…in fact, all my life this dream was just that…a dream…and yet, here I am today…pinching myself!

I was an unathletic, asthmatic child with big dreams who grew up…I think we are never too old to ‘Dream Big!’ Click here to read about my journey.

P.S. Thank you to my husband for believing I could run this race with him and my boys for all their support along the way! I think the experience of being at the race is just as inspiring…I think Matthew is ready to take up running!

P.P.S. Michael was our official photographer of the day…great shots Michael!

My March Challenge Update: Sale Finds, Bedroom Switcheroo, Organizing and 1/2 Marathon Training

March is practically over and I realized I have not updated my March Decluttering Challenge from Carla’s My 1/2 Dozen Daily.

What with planning for our March Break ski trip to Stowe, Vermont and my training for the 1/2 Marathon in May…time is just flying by!

Excuses aside…here is my update.

Financial: I managed to take advantage of some sales for our March purchases:

1) Michael was in desperate need of some jeans…found 3 pairs on sale in Burlington, Vermont…a savings of over $150! These will then be passed down to Matthew. Double duty!
2) I had a gift certificate to Eddie Bauer (leftover from Christmas) and a 25% off coupon…I purchased a blouse that was already on sale…I only had to pay $1.80 difference! A savings of over $70 from the original price!
3) Andy, Michael and I all needed new runners…Andy and I for our 1/2 Marathon and Michael because he is just starting his running routine. All pairs were bought for $80 each! A savings of over $150 in total!

Our new runners!

Decluttering Challenge: Bedroom Switcheroo

The bedrooms have been switched for a while now…it was just a matter of finding the time to take a picture of them without any clutter.

Our new guest bedroom set up with Michael’s bedroom furniture.

new guest bedroom set up

Matthew’s new bedroom has his twin beds set up as a bunk bed.

Matthew's twin beds set up as bunk beds

Michael’s desk and shelving unit now fit in perfectly. He just needs a chair.

Michael's desk and shelving unit now in Matthew's bedroom

Michael’s new bedroom has the guest bedroom furniture and double bed.

Michael has the guest room double bed and furniture

Talk about recycling…this was my bedroom furniture when I was growing up! We are going to repaint it all white with the back of the shelving unit painted red…Michael’s favourite colour.

Guest bedroom furniture in Michael's bedroom was once mine.

We had to compromise…he wanted it all red!

I have to be honest…my organization of recipes from magazine and newspaper clippings has gone untouched so far this month.

I will try to focus my attention on clarifying this oversight this week…my dining room area is really becoming an eyesore!

Training for my 1/2 Marathon in May is coming along nicely. I ran my long run yesterday…the farthest I have ever run in my entire life…approximately 15 km!

On Friday, Andy and I attended a talk on Nutrition Tips For Runners by Miranda Gibson held at my his gym at work.

Very inciteful!

I ran out and purchased some Vita Coco coconut water to drink after my runs to replenish my electrolytes. Not my favourite…but it does the job!

Both Andy and I tried a sample of Miranda’s homemade ‘Orange Energy Gels’ on our long runs yesterday. We both felt its benefits!  I am looking forward to making a batch for this weeks runs. I just might switch it up for a chocolate flavour! Yummy!

P.S. Easter is just around the corner…I have been busy writing up some Food Allergy related Easter posts for The Grandparent Guide…to be posted soon.

Update: Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily has a great give away with one of her fabulous creations! A ‘Hexie Pouch’…a beautifully hand crafted, quilted little bag popping in spring colours…inside and out! Click here to check it out. 

Overcoming My Asthma Limitations: Running My First 1/2 Marathon at 46!

tattered running shoesThis is the story about a shy, unathletic, little girl with allergies and asthma who grew up to have two boys with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma. Witnessing the courage and determination exhibited by both her boys with their medical challenges spurred her on to learn to take control of her own limitations with asthma.

Her pursuit of a lifelong dream of athleticism was born.

That little girl was me!

I grew up riddled with allergies to cats, dogs, horses (basically everything in a barn), dust, mold, leaves, grass, and pollen. I grew up with itchy eyes, wheezing, and a very tickly nose…which I now have a nasty habit of twitching.

As a child, I never owned a puffer…and if I did, I have no recollection of ever using it.

Growing up, I never fully understood why I couldn’t run like the other kids. I dreaded gym… don’t even remind me of the Kilometer Club or Track and Field! Running around outside was a nightmare in the spring and fall when my seasonal allergies were at their peak.

One can only imagine how popular I was to have on a team.

My asthma controlled me…limited me…held me back from participating in things…it became my excuse to ‘save face’.

My saving grace…swimming.

I was fortunate to grow up a hop, skip and a jump to Lake Huron. I literally lived at the beach or at a pool swimming all summer long. I was a fish! Gliding through the water I felt free as a bird…free of my asthma.

I worked hard and passed all the credentials necessary to lifeguard and teach swimming. The highlight of my swimming career was becoming Head Lifeguard and coaching a swim team  Not bad for an asthmatic.

University ensued and aerobics was all the rage. It practically killed me! Walking became my exercise of choice.

Pregnant with Michael, I kept up my walking exercise regime. Suddenly, I began feeling that tightness in my chest, that feeling like I just can’t get my breath…I was wheezing again.

Two things happened during that time that changed my health forever…my doctor prescribed me a nasal spray for my seasonal allergies and Ventolin for my asthma. I was finally on my way to controlling my limitations with asthma.

I thought I would never survive my seasonal allergies without an oral antihistamine. My doctor assured me that nasal sprays were safe for me to take while pregnant…I am now a convert and have never taken an oral antihistamine since. (before taking any medications please consult your doctor)

Taking a nasal spray for my seasonal allergies has drastically decreased my winter sinus infections. I think being proactive with my nasal spray is healthier than being reactive with prescription drugs.

From the moment I took my first puff (of Ventolin)…I realized I had been living a ‘breathless’ life. I had been so accustomed to living with asthma it became my norm. I could not believe the difference being able to breathe so freely made in my daily life.

Being in control of my seasonal allergies and asthma…giving me a new leash on life…priceless!

Walking helped me to deal with the everyday stresses of living with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma. It gave me the break I needed so I could clear my head and come back refreshed. It was my personal escape.

Over the years, pressures from certain good hearted people being disrespectful to our values and rules, with my boys’ food allergies, began to build. I felt I couldn’t take the stress anymore…it was overwhelming.

At the end of the summer 2007, I was very stressed out…I was consummed with a stock pile of emotions. I literally wanted to run away from my problems…so that’s exactly what I did…I began to add sprints into my power walks.

Oh, it felt so good to ‘burn off’ some of those pent up emotions I had been suppressing. Of course my asthma was not too happy with this new endeavor of mine.

I discussed, with my doctor, what I needed to do in order to control my asthma. She recommended that I take my Ventolin before each run…this did the trick.

I slowly started to combine my sprints until I found myself running longer and longer distances. Not only that…my asthma improved and I found myself no longer needing to take my puffer.

And as the saying goes…‘the rest was history!’

Never in a million years would I have predicted I would be capable of running a block…let alone a 1/2 Marathon.

I run for my health, for the pure pleasure it gives me and as a reminder that I am ‘stronger’ in mind, body, and spirit, than I think I really am.

My boys have taught me a great deal about perseverance…they are my inspiration.

Who knows, challenging yourself to start walking may see yourself running a 1/2 Marathon one day! Stranger things have happened!

Tip: Please consult your doctor if you are considering starting up a new exercise regime…especially if you have asthma.

P.S. In May 2010, I ran my first 10 km race at the EpiPen Take Action Event. My time was 50:26.

In May 2011, I ran my second 10 km race at the EpiPen Take Action Event…coming in first with a time of 50:10.

Click here to learn more about the 2012 EpiPen Take Action Event.

My husband and I are signed up to run the Whiby 1/2 Marathon on May 27, 2012.

P.P.S. The Asthma Society of Canada is a great site to familiarize yourself with exercising safely with asthma. Click here to learn about taking control of your asthma and exercise.

P.P.P.S. Having asthma no longer means training to be an athletic is off limits. Click here to read an inspiring article from Allergic Living titled, “Athletes with Asthma: Elite Performers”.

Question: How do you relieve the stress that living with food allergies, eczema and/or asthma can bring?

Any tips for running a 1/2 Marathon are more than welcome! Don’t worry…I have new runners on order!

March Challenge: My Food Allergy Life Has An Extra Bowl Of ‘Challenges’

Life is full of challenges…and then a life threatening diagnosis comes along.

Living with multiple food allergies, eczema and asthma issues creates an extra bowl of ‘challenges’ for me every day.

In the beginning, these challenges, literally sucked the life out of me. I became someone even I didn’t recognize anymore. I hit some lows that made me question: “Why have I been given these challenges?”

I did a lot of soul-searching during those low times. “Why me?”, crossed my mind constantly. Looking into the eyes of my boys was the spark I needed to refocus. Their unconditional faith in me opened the door to my heart. A glimmer of hope would flicker within me and my ‘down cast spell’ would shatter. My boys fate motivated me to face up to the challenges that life had handed to me.

I am all the better for them.

Understanding the benefits of engaging in challenges led me to sign up for Carla’s @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s February Decluttering Challenge.

I really enjoyed participating. It was an unexpected surprise! I discovered an added element of fun I had never experienced before in my challenges. Just knowing that others were participating and dealing with challenges of their own…made me feel like I was not alone in my perseverance.

I felt a sense of solidarity joining this group of ladies. They inspired me and created a sense of accountability.

On that note, I have decided to sign up for Carla’s @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s March Challenge Take 3…a financial, personal and decluttering challenge.

Here is how I will break them down:

Financial

-I have $60 worth of PC points that I will use on my next big grocery shop.
-I will not be re-subscribing to a magazine to cut back on my surplus of magazines and to save some money.
-I will collect all my coupons and have a coupon spending day.
-I will strive to have one day out of the week (more if I can) as a No Spend Day.
-I will note all the specials of the week and buy only what we need for the week’s meals.

Update: I actually had $70 worth of PC points that I used on today’s groceries. I also had $5.75 worth of coupon savings. This just made my day! Even the cashier cracked a smile when I explained to her that it was ‘coupon day’ for me and I was so enuthusiastic with my savings! Amazing how the smallest things can give biggest pleasure!

Personal

-I will start my training program for my first 1/2 Marathon Run on May 27, 2012. (details to follow on Wednesday’s post)
-I will be organizing a family trip away for 5 days. This will involve the planning and prepping of allergen friendly food to bring and purchase for the trip.(details to follow on Friday’s post)
-I will look into making arrangements for our family to eat out in a restaurant while on our family vacation.

Decluttering

-I will continue with Carla’s @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s February Decluttering Challenge: I have the bedroom furniture ‘switcheroo’ to complete and I have to complete organizing and filing recipes for my blog.

Setting challenges and accomplishing them gives me such a feeling of confidence. Over the years, I have attempted many mini challenges: cleaning out a kitchen drawer, a coupon only shop, and my favourite…taking time out for myself and going for a walk.

Basic stuff really, however, fulfilling mini challenges has given me that extra boost of confidence I so desperately need to get me through the low times.

I know, starting a challenge is a challenge in itself…but it’s those challenges that have made all the world of difference in my life!

Think about it…life would be pretty boring if there was nothing to strive for. Setting goals and reaching one’s full potential takes initiative, determination and willpower…it builds confidence in our abilities.

In a world where food allergies, eczema and asthma leave me feeling helpless…facing challenges has pushed me to take control of my destiny.

Question: Have you felt you have benefited from the challenges that life has presented to you?

Decluttering The Dreaded Challenge Revealed

Well Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily didn’t call it The Dreaded Challenge for nothing…this truly was a very dreaded challenge for me.

Procrastination took over! As I was behind on my Productivity Challenge, I dabbled in it when I should have been working on my latest challenge…decluttering the guest bedroom and moving bedroom furniture.

Needless to say, I am behind in both!

I believe there is a reason why I have such a build up of hidden clutter…I have a tendency to hold on to everything. I have this notion, that someday it will come in useful and I will be kicking myself later for passing it on or throwing it out!

Instead of dealing with the clutter, I keep putting it off until later. Later, in this case, turning into years of accumulated indecisions.

On top of that, I lack the right organization tools to keep things organized.

Peter Walsh (decluttering guru) where are you when I need you!

Remembering his tips for decluttering,  “Do I really need this?  Why am I holding on to this?” I grabbed a bin for recycling, a bin for things to donate, a bin for the items I would keep, and a bag for the garbage.

On Monday, I headed on up to the ‘dreaded guest bedroom’ with the ‘dreaded clutter filled drawers’ that I had already half emptied onto the bed, floor and tops of drawers and set to work.

I promised myself I would be ruthless! I would conquer this fear of letting go of my stuff! I would find a better way to hold on to my memories! I would GET ORGANIZED!

I know this might sound crazy but I had to keep telling myself, “You can do this! FOCUS!”

A before picture of all the guest bedroom drawers emptied out on to the bed, floor, and tops of the dressers. Yikes!

Cluttered guest bedroom

An after shot…whew! I did it!

Guest bedroom clutter free

What I wasn’t anticipating, was the huge emotional impact this decluttering challenge would pose to me. What started out as simply clearing clutter turned into a battle of decisions.

A reality check of sorts…letting go of the past and making way for the future. The past weighed heavily on my shoulders…it is such a relief to let it all go!

Carla’s Mini Challenge: To do something nice for yourself.

I love going out for a coffee…a Soy Latte to be exact! To me, going out for a coffee is a luxury…even better spent with a friend. My new friend, Luba and I, have been trying to hook up for a coffee for months now…yesterday seemed like the perfect opportunity. So on a whim, I called her up and we quickly got ourselves organized and met in just over an hour…no more excuses! (Carla…note your beautiful whimsical wallet on the far left… works perfectly as my new camera case!)

Myself, Luba and her son out for a coffee and a chat

Kudos go out to Luba…she had her son to also get ready in that short amount of time.

Luba and I have a lot in common…her son also suffers from eczema and has many food sensitivities and food allergies. We always have a lot to talk about!

It was great catching up! I know my boys will be jealous of missing out visiting with her son…next time we’ll get together with all the boys!

P.S. A big ‘thank you’ goes out to Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily, for getting me started on my ‘new journey’ of striving to live clutter free!

Carla’s February Decluttering Challenge may be over…but I will still be working on sorting, organizing and filing my recipes and will be getting the boys’ bedroom furniture sorted out in due time.

P.P.S. Thankfully, my living room will be decluttered today…I will be busy taking all my donatable items to the women’s shelter and the Salvation Army that I have been storing across the floor and on the couch.

Update: My Dreaded Challenge won!  Thank you Carla. It  truly was a challenge to push myself through the procrastination. Click here to see some of the other completed Dreaded Challenges.

Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily has started a new challenge for March. Click here to check out her March Challenge: Take Three: covering financial, decluttering and personal goals.

I could do with watching my pennies…I never seem to be at a loss of places to declutter and personally, I need to expand our food repetoire! Hmmmm….

Question: How do you stay on top of your clutter? Do you have any organizational tips to keep clutter at bay?

Decluttering Productivity Challenge Revealed: Week 4: The Dreaded Challenge Begins

It is Week 3 in Carla’s, @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily’s, Decluttering Challenge. This week was meant to be all about being productive…to be honest, I haven’t been all that productive.

A sinus infection, brought on by all the dust raising from my decluttering, slowed me down. Added to that, I was prepping for our weekend away visiting my brother’s family for Family Day Weekend. Being away for the weekend took up a good chunk of my time.

Excuses aside,  I was left with yesterday to pull it all off.

My goal was to have reviewed and organized the many magazines, recipes, and bits of information I have collected over the years. Ultimately, creating an organized filing system for easy access that will assist me in my research for yummy recipes and useful information to share with my family and others.

The starting point was all the newspaper and magazine clippings seen here in the forefront. The piles of magazines that I have scavenged from various nooks and crannies in my house will eventually be tackled.

magazines and clippings for productivity challengeThis will obviously take more than a day to accomplish…it may need to be carried over into Week 4…perhaps March?

I am pleased with the fact that I have at least initiated the decluttering process. Sometimes that is the hardest part of all…just getting started. Once started…’the ball just keeps on rolling!’

A stop at the Dollar Store to pick up some essentials for organizing and filing recipes/information.

Dollar store finds to file clippings and recipes

I also purchased some products from Martha Stewart’s new Home Office line…a small red binder, paper dividers, secure-top sheet protectors for my recipe cards, and a zipper pouch to keep go-to information. The red bordered labels are from the Dollar Store.

Martha Stewart Home Office supplies and dollar store labels

With all that…I got started on the piles. It was quite fun, reviewing recipes and articles I had clipped.

I even stumbled upon some recipe clippings dating back to 1991! Shocking…and a little embarrassing! To think I have left it for this long untouched…oh my!

At the end of the evening, this is the pile I created for the recycling bin. A good start!

pile of papers for the recycling bin

I also managed to get started filing some of my posted recipes into my little red binder.

Martha Stewart little red binder with recipe card holders and dividers for posted recipes

I am thinking of getting another little binder for the recipes I have adapted but not yet posted.

The other 8 pocket folders will hold recipes that I want to adapt for future posts.

file folders with pockets for recipes to be adapted

Carla @ My 1/2 Dozen Daily, commented on her Productivity post, the cost of having to get organized. She cleverly cut her costs by making her organizing tools. Very creative indeed!

I like to think the combo of my Dollar Store finds help to offset my splurges on the Martha Stewart line.

Mini Challenge: to help someone.

As this was meant to be a simple challenge and I was short on time, my mini challenge was fulfilled by helping my son with his course selections for Grade 11. He is taking the Specialist Highschool Major in Business next year that his high school offers. It’s a great opportunity for him to learn more about what a Business Degree offers in the line of jobs and to have some hands on experience in the field. It includes a Cooperative Education Program.

Update on Mini Challenge: On my morning run, I had to be careful of the thin patches of black ice. Our beautiful sunny day is a bit deceiving! As I was waiting at a busy intersection, an elderly gentleman walking with walker turned in the opposite direction to where I was about to run. I often see him out for his morning walk…we smile and say hello. Without even thinking, as soon as the lights changed, I ran up from behind him, careful not to alarm him. I warned him of the shiny patches on the sidewalk…he was ever so grateful! I do hope he makes it back to his retirement home safely!

Week 4: The Dreaded Challenge: I will be clearing out all the drawers in the guest bedroom in order to move the furniture into Michael’s room. His furniture will be divided between the Matthew’s (desk) and the guest room (twin beds, side table and set of drawers).

I hope I haven’t gone in over my head with this challenge! I think I may have underestimated the amount of time I will need to completely fulfill my goals.

There is no time to waste…I better get going!

P.S. As I pursue my goal of decluttering my magazine and clippings clutter, I seem to be discovering new decluttering projects. It is like I am seeing my home with new ‘decluttering eyes’!

P.P.S. I have discovered 4 pairs of pants that hang in my closet I never wear due to the fact that they need hemming. Turning the coat hangers back to front really does make you look at your wardrobe in a new light!

Question: Do you find you turn a ‘blind eye’ to all your clutter…hiding it in places, making it invisible?