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 Post subject: Birthday party
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:03 am
Posts: 7
Location: Toronto, Ontario
My 4 yr old (peanut & nut allergy) has been invited to his 1st birthday party (school friend). We have attended many parties before, however, all family ones, where everyone understands my son's allergies. Naturally, he is really excited about it, but I am stressed! I need some advice before I approach the parents of this child. Obviously, I would inform them of his allergies. I am prepared to bring safe snacks & a special cupcake for him. I do not feel comfortable leaving him alone. Any advice as to how to deal with this?

thanks!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:58 pm
Posts: 10
I delt with the same thing when my son was invited to his first party where parents weren't required to stay although in our case, the family has a child with nut allergies so she is very cautious. Since then, he has been invited to many parties without me and I just let the parents know that he has allergies and cant have centain items. Most parents are very understanding of this and even if they have never delt with it before, all it takes is a little info on your part so that everyone can feel confidant about it. I also show them how to use his epi pen....just in case.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 927
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Hi Ellie,

My son with multiple food allergies just turned 5 years old this month. Like you, we've attended many family birthday parties (we have 11 nieces and nephews). Whenever our son has been invited to a friend's birthday, I always inform the parents of the birthday child of our son's food allergies, and I stay with my son (I've found most of the parents still stay with their children at a birthday party at this age). In our case, because our son has multiple food allergies, we bring our son's food (pizza and a cupcake) (it's ALWAYS been pizza and cake at every party our kids have been invited too!). If you feel the pizza (or other food) is likely safe for your son, you can ask the parents which pizza place (or other) will be supplying the food, and which location, and you can call them yourself. If they are having it at a party place (indoor play ground, etc.) you can call the party place and ask where they get their pizza from. It's possible even the cake might be safe, but you'd have to check this too. Whenever I've spoken with the parents of the birthday child, they have ALWAYS been great about it, and very understanding. They are just happy that their child's friends will be joining them at the party.

Hope your son has fun at his friend's party!

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Birthday parties certainly can be tricky. At the age of four I would just explain the allergy, and ask to attend the party with your son. I'm sure the parents will be grateful to have an extra adult there to help out.
As my sons got older they hit an age where they did NOT want Mom hanging around, when none of the other parents were. At first, I was very reluctant to let my guys attend birthday parties on their own. I kept picturing that big eggy cake, and all of the myriad of opportunities for my sons to come into contact with it during the birthday chaos. Scary! But birthday parties are such a big part of a school aged kid's social life, and I hate holding my sons back from doing things because of their allergies (if at all possible). So when a party comes up, I let the parents know about my sons' allergies when I RSVP, and I ask lots of questions about what food will be served, when and where etc. I ask to come a few minutes early to the party, and I bring an epi-trainer to go over basic training with the adult in charge (I felt a little obnoxious doing this at first, but I really do feel that it's necessary). I bring their own safe food, and I always ice their safe cake with an unusual colour of icing...I figure that one piece of chocolate cake on a plate can look very similar to another, and I want them to know for sure that they are eating theirs just in case the regular cake gets accidentally served to them. I also make sure I'm within a few minutes of where the party is, and tell the parents to call me if in any doubt, or with any questions, and I can be there right away. Sounds like a lot of precautions when you write it all down!? But it works for us.
99% of parents that we've dealt with have been wonderful, really concerned and considerate, and both of my guys have attended loads of parties, all safely. There was one party however that we opted out of. The Dad in charge was really giving me that "Sheesh, this lady is overprotective attitude". I just didn't feel good about them being there without me, and when I offered to attend, I got a bit of a chilly reception. So, that one was a "no". But every other parent has been great.

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:12 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
Everyone has given some really great advice! I too would suggest sticking around to help out and to watch over things. At 4, and it being your little guy's first birthday party, it'll be a good teaching/learning experience for the both of you. Maybe take the opportunity to step back a bit to see how he handles things on his own but be right there at the ready if you need to intervene. I'll share an experience I had -- a good friend's son was having a b-day party and she wanted my son to attend so she called places to see if they were "allergy aware" and to find out about the peanut / nuts on the premises etc. She called me to say that she found a place that said they were "peanut free" (it was a bowling alley and amusement place). I followed-up with my own email to them and never got a response. Not taking that as a good sign, I dropped by the place to check out the premises (way in advance of the party and without my son) and lo and behold -- every 10 or so feet along the rear of the bowling alley were candy dispensers with Reeses Pieces. So much for their being allergy aware. We opted out of the party for a number of reasons. It reaffirmed for me that I can never be too "****" or too "over protective" when it comes to my son's allergy. People just don't get it and I don't mean that in a bad way -- they just don't. You have to do what feels right for you and if you have little bells going off in your head, take that as a warning sign. I agree that most parents would be thrilled to have the parent of the child with allergies present anyway -- it takes the stress off of them. I hope it works out for you guys!
twinmom -- I really like that idea of icing your guys' cakes with a wacky colour!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
My DH or I have attended almost all of the b-day parties that my guys have gone to (not that they've been to a lot!). The parents of the b-day child always seemed very happy to have some helping hands. The one party we didn't attend was very recently, and the mom is very allergy aware, right around the corner, and I made the cake, which is all that was served. And my guys are now 6 and 8.

I personally find b-day parties very chaotic (more or less depending on the number of kids) and I think it would be easy for someone other than the parent of the allergic child to slip up, and it wouldn't be that easy for 4 year old to pipe up that something is wrong - or even to perhaps notice that they aren't being served the right cake.

To be honest, I personally think 4 is too young to be at a b-day party alone, allergies or not.

Anyway, we always bring our own cupcakes, except for the few times I've provided the entire safe home-made cake, and one time when the mom insisted on making a cake that was safe for my youngest (which was very sweet but which kind of stressed me out).

And of course there's lots of back-and-forth before the big day with the other parents to negotiate about other food (like hot dogs or sandwiches). Usually if other food is being served we bring our own too or I make sure the other parent know exactly what to buy.

I also agree that if you are leaving your child you must show the other parents how to use the EpiPen/Twinject. It's just not fair not to do so, even though you might feel a bit awkward about it at first. And make sure you tell them to not hesitate to give it. That's an important reminder, I feel.

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 4:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
I have always attended all parties. In addition to bringing food I always bring wipes too. Then I can hand them out when the children finish their meals or cake. Sometimes using the bathroom to wash hands is difficult with a large group of kids so wipes some in handy.

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:03 am
Posts: 7
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Thank you for you advice -very useful. I spoke to the Dad & although he was very nice, I could tell he simply did not get it. He told me that the cake did not contain nuts so it should be safe -obviously does not undestand the concept of cross-contamination. I will definitely be attending the party with my son. It will be a learning experience for both of us. It will be interesting to see how my son "deals" with any situation that arises.

Thank you!


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 Post subject: Another birthday party
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:52 am 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6475
Location: Ottawa
I'm posting an e-mail I recieved from a great friend who really wants to make this a happy and safe event. How can I say "No", yet, how could I say "Yes"?
Quote:
You'll never believe what she has chosen as her party! A cooking party at the Westboro Superstore (loblaws). Cracks me up -- no cooking happens in our house, so I guess she needs to go elsewhere.

I want to be sure that *** is able to participate so want to check in re the plans for the party and then determine what I should do to make it work for *** too please.

The party will be Sunday afternoon, from 3 to 5 - so first question is to see if she'll be able to be there!

The kids first will make pizza from scratch - I can get the recipe for the dough (we were there last week and I thought I memorized it, but apparently not!) - hmm, water, flour, yeast, salt … this could possibly be all there is! No eggs, I remember that. What is *** allergic to? Will she be able to do this part?

Then - after they've made the dough, they dress their pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms. I know the cheese and pepperoni will be a problem … what can I bring instead?

Then - they prepare fruit to eat (e.g., chopping). So that's okay, right?

Then - they decorate cupcakes. The cupcakes are provided by loblaws, but I can make something for *** to decorate if you give me a recipe. And is she okay with the icing/sprinkles they would provide? Being a non-cook/non-baker, I have no idea what goes into either of these! And if not, please provide me with guidance on options!

And then there will be birthday cake (also provided by loblaws … hmm, does loblaws do cakes for kids with allergies? If not, I could just have extra of the appropriate cupcakes for *** to have at cake time too.)

Let me know and I'll be very happy to get organized to make sure this party is safe for ***!


Oh, and at 5 my daughter has apparently made a pact with each friend that they will always invite each other to their birthday parties and she has the memory of an elephant!

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:20 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Oh no, a party entirely based around food! Nightmare!
How great of your friend to try to be so considerate, but how difficult to make safe!
Maybe your daughter and her friend could do something different together on a diifferent day to celebrate?
Good luck.

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 3:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Okay, I'm kind of speechless. My first thought was "Gah." What a horrible position to find yourself in... Sounds like your friend is very kind and potentially very willing, but really not aware of what will be involved to make this a safe event for your child. I guess her not knowing what your DD is allergic to doesn't help.

Anyway, I really don't think pizza is appropriate for a dairy allergic child unless they're all prepared to use soy cheese.... Is that an option?

Have you had a chance to talk to your friend since you posted? Could they not make something else? Could you talk to the director of the Loblaws program and see if they have other food options? Something like guacamole would be safe and would also require an appropriate amount of work - then they could eat it with safe Tostito chips.

I can't see how the cupcakes or cake will be safe (even if there isn't any dairy, I'm sure there will be eggs) - and who knows about the icing? It might be safe - if they don't put in the butter flavouring.

Could you handle a phone call with your friend where you can calmly go through each point and indicate how much extra work will be involved to make things safe? But then where does that leave you? Basically telling her how it can't be made safe for your child unless they do a major overhaul of the plan...

I don't think this is going to be easy, any way you slice it. Either there will be a ton of work with making it safe, or you'll have to tell your daughter she can't go (and ideally she'll do something else with her friend at another time, like twinmom suggested...). Which I'm guessing will go over like a lead balloon, from what you said.

I really wish I could be more helpful...

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 7:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:25 pm
Posts: 83
Location: Orleans, Ontario
Dear Susan

I guess my little guy is allergic to so much that unless I'm ultra creative, he'll never do anything or go anywhere. He is always surrounded by some allergen or other. So I always start with the assumption that it can work and then develop a plan from there.

Is it possible for you to be there? If so, what about bringing a pizza dough that you know is safe for her, or pita bread or something like that. If she can do soy cheese, you can bring it for her own pizza. You could also bring along safe muffins, icing and sprinkles so she can take part in the dessert as well. You can also bring other fun little treats that she likes (we usually do chips and skittles, they are his favorites!) By being there you can manage her surroundings and make sure that there is no cross-contamination.

And then as Katec mentions, you make sure all kids wash their hands, surfaces are cleaned etc, etc.. It's definitely more work but sometimes can be worth it. I also think it's great modeling, she gets to see what it takes to stay safe in that kind of environment. One day, sooner than later, she will be managing her allergies on her own!

I think it's doable, you need to decide what works for you and what you are comfortable with.

Denise

_________________
Oldest son 9: allergic to fish and shellfish, pollens, pets, mould and dustmites
Youngest son, 5: allergic to peanuts, nuts, dairy, eggs, sesame, kiwi, asthma, pollens, pets, mould and dustmites


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I see your point about modelling, Denise, and I admire your positive attitude!

Sorry I sounded so negative in my post, Susan. I guess these days I'm just so tired (not feeling well plus new full-time job plus kids waking me up at night) that the thought of doing a party like that on top of the rest just seemed like too much to me. (Note to self - maybe don't post responses when you are exhausted!)

I would agree that it would be best for you to be there (and was assuming you would anyways)... and if you can find appropriate subs (which is totally do-able, I agree) maybe it could work. You just have to make sure that the kids really do clean up well after themselves and likely that your daughter has her own work-table to herself to avoid cross-contamination issues.

My DH and I have often taken the attitude of better (i.e. easier, less stressful) to avoid certain situations than to risk it, but sometimes I wonder if we aren't limiting things too much. On the other hand, we've come to that kind of reasoning based on past experience, so I guess we have our reasons for our decisions!

It's sometimes so hard to know what is the best course of action...

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 5:26 pm 
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Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6475
Location: Ottawa
OK, 2 senarios.
1. I bring a safe cupcake, safe icing, safe cheese (pre-shredded) and safe dough (not sure if theirs is safe or what else was made using the equipment). I bring a ton of wipes and insist that our daughter have a separate container of each topping for both the pizza and the cupcake.
I still would want to get there early and wipe down all of the counters and re-wash the pizza pans.
Then, with all of the unsafe foods around as well as all of those litlle fingers...I don't think I could handle of the stress. Our daughter would pick up on my stress and so would my friend.
2. I insist that they only use ingredients that are safe for our daughter. By the time I prepare a list I might as well just purchase it all. I might as well pring the pizza dough and cupcakes as I would be making a batch anyway...
I just feel as though I'm taking over the show.

I think that I will simply tell her that it means a lot to our daughter that her daughter wants to invite her and it means a lot to me that she is trying so hard to make it a safe event, but that there are simply too many opportunities for exposure to her allergens.
I will suggest that we have them over for dinner one night the following week when my daughter can give her daughter her birthday present.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
That's pretty much what I would do, to be honest. It's the the risk of exposure that I would be worried about... And not being able to refrain from broadcasting my stress!

Maybe it's because my youngest (with dairy allergy) has had to go to the ER twice that I find those kinds of things so stressful, but I've done enough parties and food-oriented things to know that the stress is quite huge at times. Try as I might, I can't get past it. (And maybe that's a good thing - my youngest hasn't had a reaction in 4 years - since we got more vigilant.)

My DH is similar - a friend mentioned that he would be having a sledding party with a huge hot chocolate dispenser and my DH just said (to me), "Well forget that." :?

Anyway, let us know how it all turns out, Susan.

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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