My top 6 #Back2School items for an allergy kid!

So, Im one of those mums remember? (Eye roll as you see fit). As one of those mums back to school is a little bit harder, and a little bit more stressful. Whether you are new to the allergy / celiac game or an old timer, my list of must haves may help make your life a teeny bit easier. Aili was diagnosed as a baby, not yet 2 years old, now she is over 7, and making sure I have these allergy must haves around is totally routine.

  1. Gluten Free labels! I stick these on all our lunch box containers, these serve as a great reminder for any teacher or other adult approaching my child and hopefully reminds them to not touch my carefully prepared allergy safe meal. These are from Ladybug Labels and they ship internationally. The labels are dishwasher safe and stay on for a long time. Through the years I tried many different brands and these win hands down. The quality is superb and they are easy to peel off and stick. (http://www.ladybuglabels.com)
  2. Name labels. The last thing I need is for my kids to lose anything (they do, anyway obviously, especially my son, lol), but even worse would be their stuff getting mixed up with someone elses. All their lunch gear including cutlery has a name label. Again I tried many different ones from different companies and these are now my go to every year. Delivery is fast and cheap even for international delivery. I always get the plain label, it sticks well, peels off easily and is dishwasher safe. I still have some labels from when my son was 4 that are stuck on! He’s almost 10 now, thats value for money right there! These are from Easy2name and come in lots of different colours. (https://www.easy2name.com)
  3. Good lunch boxes! My kids bring lunch to school every day and I need something that lasts, is good value for money, and works! It needs to be able to keep my kids food hot or cold, and I need to be able to clean it easily as it goes in to a contaminated environment on a daily basis. We now use only Pottery Barn lunch boxes. The kids get to pick a new one every second September, so we have a few, the first ones we ever got are still alive and kicking (!). We use lunch boxes for every day outings as well, so even though the Pottery barn boxes aren’t exactly cheap, the fact that they are practically indestructible makes them value for money. I pop them in the washing machine regularly to clean them and so far, no problems! Pottery Barn also delivers internationally! (http://www.potterybarnkids.com)
  4. Good Thermoses! My son goes through anti cold food phases, especially in winter. Ive tried so many thermoses its unreal, many of the kids ones are actually good, but to small for my growing boy! I also found many are hard to open once the hot food is in and I prefer my kids to be able to open their own containers. Surprisingly, the best food thermoses I have found are the IKEA ones (or maybe not so surprising, it is SWEDISH after all, haha). They are a great size, easy to open, no flimsy silly seals that come off after 5 uses, and best of all, I can wash them in the dishwasher (they do say not to, but I do and so far no problems). As far as affordability goes they are amazing. The food stays nice and hot too which is obviously great as so many thermoses don’t keep their heat well. (http://www.ikea.com)

     

  5. Baby Wipes and hand wipes. Seriously, you cant get enough of these babies! I keep them in every school bag, in every handbag and each kid has some in school. The baby wipes are sometimes on special and you can get a box with it, cover the box in funky stickers and make it non babyish for school. Alco gel is of no use as it does not kill gluten or other allergens, allergens need to be washed / wiped off! You can get wipes in pretty much any shop. Not all wipes are gluten safe! Johnsons contain no gluten.
  6. A good freezer block. Again, I tried so many. Having had my kids in school in Dubai I may have gotten overly paranoid about the whole cooling issue, but unless you are sending a hot lunch you really do need to worry. These allergy / celiac kids are often more sensitive then others, and the last thing we want is to give our kids food poisoning. I have every size and shape imaginable, these ones are firm favourites as they are slimmer then others, come in pretty colours and stay frozen until lunch time even though they are slimmer. I got these particular ones in Jula. (Yup, another Swedish shop!) (http://www.jula.com)

Anyone want to add anything? Is there something you cant live without for sending your allergic or celiac kid to school? Id love to know 🙂

If you like this list, join me on Facebook!

 

Me and Social media

So, people have been telling me for years to get instagram. And I have been telling them for years… no. Twitter, Facebook and blog is enough, remember I do my twitter and GF UAE twitter, my facebook and GF UAE facebook and both the blogs too!

Well. I was wrong, and Im admitting it. I got Instagram and I LOVE it! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Its like twitter only its just images and nobody gets pissed off that you are posting to many images because, DOH, its Instagram!

So yeah I was wrong. (See hubby? I do admit it sometimes!)

So if you like food, puppies and other cute things, do come join me, see you there!

My Instagram!

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Tesco Poland – Thank you!

Remember some time back when I wrote about Tesco Poland and how absolutely awful it was in terms of free from? I sent that blog post to every Tesco head office address I could find, tweeted it repeatedly and emailed SO many people. Then… a few months back things started happening in Tesco. A free from shelf appeared, then two shelves, then three…. the bio section grew as well. I kept saying to hubby, I HOPE they bring their free from range over, its SUPERB… then I started seeing the Free From lactose free stuff (this from a shop that didn’t even have basic lactose free milk before). The Free from cottage cheese arrived a few weeks later, and I was like “YES!!! They are SERIOUS”. We now have a gluten free section that would put most other shops to shame, bigger then Auchan and carrefour for sure… and today…. oh wow… today, there was a free from sign on the freezer, and there was ICE CREAM! And there was jumping up and down a little and squeals of happiness and YESSS!!!!!!

Now all we need is the pies, the ready meals, the lasagnes, the cottage pies the everything!

And one of the leading sandwich meat factories went gluten free a couple of months back, and another looks like its following suit! POLAND, you are shaping up nicely for people like us! Im so happy. Really. Its only food… and yet its the normality of walking in to a shop and being able to buy something that others take for granted.

Tesco Polska, dziekuje bardzo!

Inne wiadomości na temat życie bez glutenu w Polsce, nie zapomnij śledzić nas na Facebooku.

5 years gluten free!

We have been gluten free for 5 years this week. 5 whole years! I remember it like it was yesterday. We were called in to the clinic, it was a Saturday morning, they had some results they said. Aili had been in and out of hospital, I was drained, mentally and physically. My life revolved around my screaming baby and lots of vomit.

We went in, the clinic was busy, lots of screaming kids, everyone was rushed. All the staff knew me by then, by voice, by name, by daughters name. We were ushered in to see the dr between two others who had appointments, it was rushed, no examination, papers handed over. I had been hoping it was lactose, but it wasn’t, it was gluten and my whole world was spinning.

We walked out, papers in hand. Gluten cant be in to many things right..? My son was hungry, my baby girl was hungry, we were in a mall and the mall was spinning. I let out a small sob. My drained self couldn’t cope. That small sob was it. My husband rolled his eyes and told me not to cry again, our life was a mess.

I never cried about gluten again. I cried many times since obviously, but not about gluten in particular.

We went to mc Donald’s. Son had a burger, Aili had some fries. No gluten in fries right…? We went home. We went home and nothing was the same again…..

It was good different though, not bad different, because the vomiting….? It stopped that day. Our girls life was saved that day. It continued to be saved every day since.

I look back at that day now, and I feel sorry for the exhausted mum that I was, and I wish I could have given that mum a hug and told her it will all be ok, that its only hard at first, and that life will get better now. I wish I could hold that mum and tell her to cry it all out, get it over and done with – the crying. I wish I could go back and smile at that mum and encourage her, because back then, going gluten free seemed like such a huge huge task, keeping my baby girl safe seemed so impossible.

I was so tired from months of illness and hospital and clinic visits that any task – no matter how small- would have seemed impossible that day.

We did it, of course. I did back then what I still to this day do with all the new stuff. I learned everything I needed to learn, I got on with it, I looked forwards and upwards and onwards and I remained as positive as I possibly could, and I have, almost every day since. Even in my darkest deepest moments of despair, I am still a very glass half full kind of girl.

Gluten now, 5 years later seems like such a minor thing compared to all the things we are facing today. Sure, its hard still, but its second nature, I have done it for so long it no longer bothers me. 

If you are that mum that I was that day, today, tomorrow, yesterday… please know this. It gets easier. Really. It really really does.

Happy 5 years to us!

5-years

Dont forget to join me and my family on Facebook! 🙂

 

Holland & Barrett

Oh my gosh! WHY Did I not know about this before? A few days ago I stumbled upon Holland & Barrett while searching for gluten free, eggfree cornfree flours. Randomly clicked around and a few minutes later realised they do International delivery! And guess what, it works out cheaper (delivery wise) then amazon to Poland!

Shopping Corn free, gluten free , wheat free and egg free means there is very very little available to us, but after clicking our allergens on the left and reading ingredients I found flour (!!), bread mixes (!!) biscuits and mayo. Anyone else who is corn free on top of gluten free will know my joy. Soups, so mummy can make lunch occasionally without cooking! Gravy, because making it from scratch every time gets so old, sweets, because kinder egg chocolate – however nice it is – gets boring after a while, ice lollies, because, ICE LOLLIES! Fancy teas for mum, because hey, Im worth it!

Then the joy when half the order came just 3 days later!

My joy though is nothing compared to the joy of little madam who got to eat mayo!

And in 2 days there will be more joy when the rest arrives!!

(This is like the kind of jumping up and down screaming joy that only teenage girls feel. Its A W E S O M E!)

Thank you Holland & Barrett, you made my day!

 

http://www.hollandandbarrett.com

Stress + Food = weight gain!

I am the heaviest I have ever been, I actually weigh more now then I did when I was pregnant! Im not super fat, Im actually not really overweight even, but having always been super skinny I feel like a huge big blob!

60kg, I mean hello? I never thought I would weigh a number like that (I am 162cm).

LCHF was great for me, I started in June last year and quickly lost 2-3 kg, then stalled a bit but kept at it because I felt great. Then cheated lots at Christmas and in January I fell off the wagon completely, not my fault really, I was in hospital with celiac kid and lived on bread. Just didn’t really manage to go carb free again after that. To much stress and with the stress this hunger that can only be “cured” by eating popcorn, quinoa, millet and potatoes. Not the worst carbs in the world perhaps but carbs all the same.

Then the weight gain, aaaagh. Been reading about stress and cortisol and what it does to your body, puts you in fight or flight mode, long term stress has a direct link to belly fat, which is where all my fat sits! So I guess I am forgiven? Things have been so crappy lately I figured if a piece of chocolate makes me feel better then I totally deserve a piece of chocolate… right?

I will go back on LCHF, when Im good and ready, I will also start doing my steps properly again with my fitbit. When you are at home with an unwell kid or in hospital then its hard to go above 3k steps!

For those of you who want some LCHF inspiration, check out my LCHF album on facebook! 

-Linda

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Orphanages in Poland

wiosna

Yesterday I did something that was absolutely heartbreaking but encouraging at the same time.

I visited an orphanage about an hours drive outside of Wroclaw. As a mother, my heart was breaking in to a million little pieces. How can someone just abandon their baby? And even worse, an older child! A child who on some level understands, asks questions and wants to know why? It took me the whole day to try to get back to “normal”. The women who work in the orphanage must all have super powers, many are mothers themselves, and their hearts must be breaking on a daily basis.  They all deserve a medal. On a positive note, I was really surprised at how clean it was, the abundance of toys and happy colours, I had expected the place to be like something out of those pictures you saw from Russia in the 80’s or the pictures coming out of Romania after its fall. Far far from it. The children are well looked after, 51 children, 50 staff. They are in nice clean surroundings that look like a modern nursery or pre school. There are many many kitchens and children are split in to smaller groups for meals and activities with an “auntie”.

I also felt encouraged, because I really think we can help them. By we, I mean my children’s school, the expat community and people around us.

I felt compelled to offer this home my help many months ago, some of the children were at a school event concert and I couldn’t take my eyes of them. Gorgeous beautiful lovely kids, and someone gave them up! I cant adopt them all, but I sure as hell can try to contribute to making their lives easier in any way I can.

I am not rich, I cant do this on my own, but I have a voice and Im able to ask others for help!

There are hundreds of orphanages in Poland, with an estimate of 80 000 children being in care today. Some orphanages are large, like the one I visited, others are smaller family homes. The children in these orphanages are not necessarily orphans per se, some have been given up, some have been taken from their homes by police or social services, others are in state care while parents are in prison. Some parents just cant cope and their children go to stay in an orphanage for a short while before going back home.

Many of the children suffer emotionally, not just from abuse of course, but the older children from knowing that they were given up.

In this particular orphanage children stay on average 6 months to a year. Some however stay only weeks, and one of the longest staying residents stayed 3 years. The orphanage has children from birth up to 12 years old. Once children turn 12, they must go to a youth home. Siblings are kept together as much as possible. Sometimes they get 4 kids from the same family! In other cases they will get a new baby every few years from the same family….. heart breaking, and social services just cant keep up.

Adoption is under strict regulation in Poland. Law states that children put up for adoption must go to Polish families first. If a child is unsuccessful in being adopted in the first year, then the adoption goes global with people from other countries being eligible to adopt. Catholic families have priority, and then Christians (many of the kids adopted internationally are older and already familiar with religion and Polish tradition, so I guess this makes sense for them to do it like this). Children with health problems or developmental delays often end up being adopted to foreign families, as most Polish families simply aren’t interested or cant support a child with special needs.

There are also age restrictions. If you are below 40 you can adopt a baby, but each year after 40 is the age that the child can be, so if you are 42, a child must be minimum 2, if you are 44, minimum 4 etc. You can be 47 and apply to adopt a 5 year old, and they will look at your case, but generally the rules are not broken.

In the orphanage right now, there is a 10 year old boy with his 7 year old sister. They have been there for two years and have been up for adoption this entire time. They must be wondering what is wrong with them that their real mum and dad left them and now no new mummy and daddy want them either. There is also a very small baby with a cleft palate, (given up because of this??) and a newborn baby girl. HEART. BREAKING. 51 children. Fiftyone.

Generally the children WANT to be adopted, a child who is “not ready” to be adopted would never be adopted against his or her will. The match is made in Warsaw in the central adoption place, then the child and new parent meet a few times before everything goes through. Single women can adopt in Poland, but not men.

The orphanage gets a government grant every month, this money must pay wages (fees for speech therapists and special therapies, psychologists etc) as well as bills, water , electricity and so on. They also must buy anything they need with this money. Food, clothes, school equipment and so on. I asked if it was enough, if they ever worried about being able to meet the children’s needs, and the answer was yes. All the time.

Anyway, less of the heart breaking stuff and more of how we can help these kids!

Many church groups and organisations get in touch with orphanages and help them. They receive many many toys and books, sometimes people just show up and drop stuff, other times its sent in the mail. Clothes are needed at times, but at the moment they have what they need. Christmas was recent and apparently people are very generous at that time of year. I also dropped off a ton of clothes and shoes at my visit, thanks to those who helped me collect those.

There are many things that are always needed and rarely get given. I will give you a list in a minute.

I am getting the PTA in my school involved, and Im hoping we will be able to deliver them a monthly food delivery. Non perishables obviously. This should take some pressure off. If you are in Wroclaw and want to help, get in touch using the message function on my facebook page.

Things they need on an ongoing basis are:

  • Underwear (new)
  • Socks (new)
  • Bedding / blankets / towels
  • Nappies
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby toiletries, such as cream for sore bottoms, talcum powder etc
  • Pacifiers (dummies)
  • Washing powder
  • Cleaning products
  • shampoos and soaps for children
  • tooth brushes and toothpaste

then they are slightly short of and would need the following:

  • Dictionaries english / Polish
  • Books for learning in Polish, text books, not blank ones
  • paper for drawing A4
  • Colouring books

They do not currently need any paints, crayons etc, as they are overflowing, they also have more toys then they can store.

For foods they would like:

  • Pastas
  • Rice
  • Beans / lentils / pulses
  • Tinned foods
  • Baby food in jars
  • Baby formula
  • Long life milk
  • Other things that don’t expire to fast can also be added.

If you can help, let me know, I will be going at least once a month, possibly more.

If you want to help the orphanage directly you can, they have a website.

there is also a Facebook page

Do let me know if you can help! Thank You!!

-Linda

(And yes, I asked if they had any Celiac kids, if the answer had been yes I wouldnt have left without them!)

Edit to add: If you are interested in adoption in Poland there will be many steps to go through, adoption is free but there will be some fees involved in the paperwork process. A family is checked thoroughly before being matched with a child. Orphanages have no say in which family adopts a child as they do not deal with the actual adoption process.

1. Wojewódzki Ośrodek Adopcyjny w Warszawie ul. Nowy Zjazd 1 02-018 Warszawa tel. 22 621 10 70 22 622 03 71 22 622 03 72 e-mail: woa.warszawa@mcps.com.pl

2. Krajowy Ośrodek Adopcyjny TPD Krakowskie Przedmieście 6 00 – 325 Warszawa tel. (0-22) 425 46 77, 425 46 88 faks: (0-22) 827 78 13 e-mail: adopcja@tpdzg.org.pl

3. Katolicki Ośrodek Adopcyjny ul. Grochowska 194/196 04-357 Warszawa tel.: (22) 618 92 45 e-mail: katolickiosrodek@interia.pl