Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book-A-Day Giveaway for Food Allergy Awareness Week!

The BugaBees daily book giveaway is back! In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, we will be selecting a new winner each day May 12 thru May 18!! Winners will have their choice of either book from the BugaBees series.

To participate, simply post a comment right here on this blog to the following question:

What are you doing to promote food allergy awareness in your community?

To double and triple your points, tweet and/or share the following comment on Twitter or Facebook:

Promote #foodallergy awareness! Win a #book from the BugaBees series by @AmyRecob #FAAW #foodallergies

Good luck and thanks for doing your part to create a little buzz about food allergy awareness!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Special Savings for Food Allergy Awareness

National Food Allergy Awareness week is fast approaching! (May 12-18, 2013). Have you given any thought to what you might do to help educate and/or appreciate those around you? Check out these awesome ideas from Caroline at Grateful Foodie. FARE also has some great suggestions and resources to use in the classroom and beyond.
To assist with your outreach efforts, I am pleased to offer a special discount to anyone interested in purchasing an extra book copy or two from the BugaBees series!
From now through the end of food allergy awareness week, buy direct from my publisher Beavers Pond Books and save $5 off retail (cheaper than Amazon pricing!)

Simply search "BugaBees" or "BugyBops" from the online store and type in coupon code "SAVE5" at checkout.

Be sure to stop back for our annual Book-A-Day giveaway starting May 12 and stay tuned for a special event announcement coming to Madison, Wisconsin residents! Happy reading ...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Recent Food Allergy Research

Have you been following all of the of news coverage on immunotherapy research lately? Like most things related to food allergies, there seem to be some opposing views on this potential new treatment.

In case you missed it, The New York Times, Today Show, and Katie Couric recently featured a new approach for children with serious allergies to several different foods. The clinical trial, led by Dr. Kari Nadeau at Stanford, involves desensitizing patients to up to five different allergens by very slowly increasing their intake over time. Several children with severely allergic food allergies are experiencing great results and seem overjoyed with the success of the research.

On the flip side, other doctors such as Wayne Shreffler M.D. of Harvard Medical School have posted cautionary commentary on the risks of this type of study, citing that more research is needed to disprove this treatment will actually do more harm than good in the long run.
Supporting this concern is a report recently shared at the AAAAI annual conference highlighting another immunotherapy study with very different outcomes. The March issue of Allergic Living magazine summarizes disappointing findings of researchers investigating oral immunotherapy in milk-allergic patients. Results showed that for a majority of patients, desensitization wasn’t holding up. In fact, three to five years after completing an OIT study, Johns Hopkins University researchers said that many participants were more reactive to cow’s milk than they had been early in the course of treatment.

So what’s a food allergy parent to think? I’m personally thrilled research is being done on this topic. I’m even more thrilled it is helping some of the families willing to sacrifice their time and safety to partake in the study. (The New York Times article mentions some risky scenarios where epinephrine was needed. Yikes.)

Given that risk factor, - for me - I can’t say this is a treatment I would feel comfortable with for my child. I personally took immunotherapy shots for my seasonal allergies for years with absolutely no positive results. Then again, many other patients did. It’s hard to look at the smiles of 10-year-old Tessa Grosso after her recent treatment and argue that it hasn’t changed her life for the better …. immensely better.

So there you have it. Medical research is just another example of how food allergies continue to be a personal journey that is different for every individual.  Even so, I believe our common and collective goal will help us find the answer in my 9 year-old daughter’s lifetime. Until then, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to the many researchers and families who are working hard every day to help find a cure!

(See my earlier blog post on FAFH-2...another food allergy research study I learned about a few years ago that I hope is still progressing!)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Start the hype -- the 2013 Gluten & Allergen Free Expos kick off next month! Thousands of attendees, vendors, presenters, bloggers and more will be joining together to share the latest in gluten-free and allergy-free products in the following cities:

  • Des Moines (April 6-7)
  • Chicago (April 20-21)
  • New Jersey (Sept 7-8)
  • Dallas (Oct 26-27)

I'm honored to be participating in the Chicago event's "author" portion of the show, signing and selling BugaBees books on Sunday, April 21st! Please join me and other great writers like Collette Martin (Learning to Bake Allergen Free) and many, many more.

Avoid long lines and buy your tickets in advance at  Plus, see up-to-date schedules, class offerings, presentations and more on Facebook and Twitter. (Use the official hashtag #GFAFEXPO)

You won't want to miss out on this great opportunity....Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1st is National Read Across America Day!

The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, NEA’s Read Across America. Now in its 16th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.

Today is the day to grab your kiddos and a good book or two! Here are some of my all time favorites (in no particular order):

1) Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman
2) All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant
3) The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
4) A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
5) Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis

And for teens and adults, I must recommend the book I just finished... An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff is the true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and provides clear-cut proof that kindness and generosity can do miraculous things. It will just make you want to be a better person!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hangin' with Kevin Henkes

If you have young children, odds are you have at least one Kevin Henkes book in your home. This Wisconsin native has written and illustrated over 30 books and been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature, including a Newbery and a Caldecott Medal.

I have been lucky enough to meet Mr. Henkes on several occasions -- the first, at a Literacy Network of Dane County fundraiser where he shared with me (among other things) that he grew up with a sibling who has food allergies! Sadly for us, this has not yet been a topic of inspiration for his writing, but so many other wonderful things have. Imagination, forgiveness, and optimism are just a few themes that all seem to have a common thread throughout many of his books.

The second time I saw Mr. Henkes was at the recent AEYC Chicago conference where he spoke a lot about perspective. He shared many humorous stories about the perspective of children, and their literal translations of various books, versus the figurative intentions of their authors. He also spoke about individual perspectives, and read two very opposing letters he received about his book, Julius Baby of the World.

The first letter was a glowing review, highly revered and lovingly written. The second letter, well…. Let’s just say it was the exact opposite. It was an interesting comparison, considering the fact they both were in regards to the same exact book!

I found his presentation to be a thoughtful and gentle reminder that, as we all know, not everyone shares the same perspective. This is a hard pill to swallow sometimes when you are a food allergy parent, and what seem so obvious to us (about the health and safety of our children), isn’t always clear to others.

Sometimes all it takes is a little kindness and understanding of each other's points of view. Sometimes, that’s not enough. Either way, I’m thankful to Kevin Henkes for reminding me that everyone’s opinion has validity, even though we may not always agree.

Check out Kevin's new book Penny and Her Marble just released this month!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Food Allergies & Bullying

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study on the prevalence of bullying towards children with food allergies. I'm sure most of us would agree, it's not hard to see how they are easy targets. Parents of food allergy kids are all too well aware of the stigma, and I'm sad to say until recently, I was one of those parents who didn't realize that my child was a direct victim among so many others. This study reveals that more than 50% of parents are in the dark about this type of bullying as well – a deeply concerning statistic that desperately needs to change.
The Boston Globe and CNN report bullying incidents where food allergic students have had harmful foods thrown at them and/or have been verbally ostracized for trying to eat safely. In my personal situation, the latter has been the case in my daughter's 4th grade class.... all year long apparently. It wasn't until over winter break she decided to share this with me.
I was heartbroken to hear that her classmates regularly express their disappointment in not being able to bring their favorite snacks or homemade birthday treats into the classroom. (All other classes allow it, as none of them are required to be allergy-free.) From eye rolls and whispers behind her back, to more direct accusations (and even an argument between a parent and teacher in front of the entire class about a cake that was not approved), my daughter has shouldered the blame and guilt about this for months.
So what’s a parent to do (aside from feeling devastated)? For me, I quickly realized how important it is to ask direct questions of your children. My daughter and I talk often about issues related to her food allergies, but never once have I asked her if she felt as though she was being bullied. If I had done so, I have to believe she wouldn’t have suffered in silence about it for so long.
We all know how important it is to talk to our kids. And even more so, how important it is to get them talking to us. The silver lining to this story is now that we know the situation, we can deal with it head on. We've engaged my daughter's teacher and school guidance counselor, and I'm happy to report they have been a huge help in making her feel like she doesn't have to manage this alone.
If you're a parent to a food allergic child, I hope you will join me in changing these statistics for the better. Until we can eliminate bullying, I know we have the power to minimize the impact it has on our kids. For more related info on how you can help empower your children, be sure to check out this free webinar sponsored by KFA. On Tuesday, January 15, Linda Coss will be talking about "Raising a Child Who Takes Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Stride". Archived presentations will be available for those can't make the live discussion, so please, don't miss out!