Book Challenge by Erin 7.0

It’s my 4th time participating in Erin’s Book Challenge, and although I never actually made it to the end, I did come very close twice (read 9 books out of 10).


NEXT Book Challenge held July 1, 2017 – October 31, 2017

Categories to be announced June 1, 2017

First and foremost, have fun. Don’t stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it is an accomplishment for you, then that’s awesome!

Discussion is highly encouraged. Participate as little or as much as you want. Please be supportive and respectful of others. If you get disrespectful, inappropriate, or nasty, I will ban you…don’t make me use my authoritative power!

Hopefully, we will create an environment with books and people who interest, inspire, and entertain you.

Links to challenge:

My picks for Book Challenge by Erin 7.0

/5 points/  Freebie book of at least 200 pages: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, by Mark Manson

/10 points/ Letter “B”: Birdie, by Tracey Lindberg

/10 points/ (mostly) Yellow cover: Out of Sorts Making Peace with an Evolving Faith, by Sarah Bessey

/15 points/ Picture of an animal: M pour Mabel, by Helen MacDonald (Translated to French by Marie-Anne Béru)

/20 points/ Published in 2017: Les furies, by Lauraine Groff (French)

/20 points/ Cardinal direction: C’est où le Nord?, by Sarah Maeght (French)

/25 points/ Banned/Challenged book: Habibi, by Craig Thompson

/30 points/ Read a fictional book about mental illness: Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, By Patty Yumi Cottrell

/30 points/ Non-human main character: The Bees, by Laline Paull

/35 points/ Disney: The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart

1st garden and Pichenotte

Unrelated photo of my beautiful cat Pichenotte in our garden

Testing pitted fruit for allergies

Since my preschooler had an anaphylactic reaction to a nectarine and tested positive for allergy a few weeks ago, we’ve been weary of other pitted fruit.

So far we’ve tried cherries, pears and mangoes and he’s had no reaction.  Great news. At some point, we’ll need to try avocados.  I remember him getting a few hives when he was a baby and we were trying out his first foods. We didn’t know at the time that he had allergies so we didn’t think much of it.  He’s not interested in avocados at this point so I can’t confirm whether or not he’s allergic.  His allergist said that not only could he be allergic to any of the pitted fruit, but he could be fine one time and eat the same fruit at a later time and be allergic.  This is part of OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome).  This condition is not typically anaphylactic, except for a very small percentage of people, like my son who  had a full anaphalatic reaction with a nectarine last fall.

One fruit at a time. Same with legumes.  He’s allergic to lentils, chickpeas and green peas, but so far is ok with beans.

This is my 3-year-old son Kaid enjoying a peanut/nut free chocolate bar last week when Grand-maman was visiting!

Kaid May 2017

My 40 before 40 challenge

A lot of people feel weird about reaching 30.  It’s understandable. I mean, for some reaching 30 is kind of that next step, when you *really* become an adult. If you don’t feel ready, it can definitely feel weird and scary. My 30s were actually pretty awesome.  Sean and I met (at work) when I was 31.  We moved in together when I was 32. We went on the most amazing trip to Sandals, Negril, for our engagement-moon when I was 33.  Then, we had the wedding of our dreams when I was 34.  We found out we were expecting a baby and gave birth to a beautiful little boy when I was 36.  I think we can say it was the best years of my life!

That’s why it feels a bit scary to get into my 40s. Not to sound cliché, but life DOES go by fast!  It feels like all those amazing years are over. I’m getting older, more tired.  Sean and I have gone on maybe 5-6 dates since the baby was born (he’s now 3 years old).  And to be honest, my husband and I can both say that this year was one of the hardest (in our lifetime) so far.  My 18-year-old son moved out on December 26th (not on good terms) and a lot of hearts were broken that day.  I never imagined in a thousand years that my life would take that turn. We also lost a person that was very dear to our hearts, he was like a father figure to my husband. He passed away unexpectedly and we all feel he was taken from us way too soon.  There’s a bunch of other stuff that makes 2017 pretty shitty so far, but I’ll spare you the details. It’s just been hard.  Some years are happy, some are not. It’s something I’m learning as I become more “mature”. No but really, not being sarcastic, life is made up of numerous moments and events and seasons.  I have a lot to be grateful for. All in all, I’m very lucky and have had a great life. It’s been a hard year but I’m ready for some new adventures!

I’m turning 40 in 3 months and to make the summer more exciting, I’ve decided to challenge myself with a 40 before 40.  This will be super fun and I’m going to update here on my blog about my progress.  Have you ever done anything like this?  I’d love to hear how it went 🙂

1. 40-day plank challenge: 40-second plank for 40 days (doesn’t need to be consecutive days but needs to be 40 consecutive seconds!)
2. 5K run at the 8th Annual Redemption Run for Harvest House (fyi – I’ve never done a run in my life)
3. Attend a festival
4. Attend an event I would never ever normally attend
5. Bake a pie
6. Bike along the Rideau canal
7. Bring 18-year-old son for a drive and show him (in order) all the places where we lived when I was a single parent
8. Bring 3-year-old son swimming in the Ottawa River
9. Capital Pop-Up Cinema night
10. Bus tour of my city (Ottawa)
11. Create a dish
12. Drive-in movie in Port Elmsley
13. Finish writing my e-book
14. Gatineau Park hike
15. Get someone to help me find new makeup colours, buy new makeup
16. Getaway weekend with husband
17. Have a professional portrait taken (if I have my new-to-me camera by then, I can attempt this myself) or yoga or boudoir photo shoot
18. Join provincial professional association ATIO (translation)
19. Late night (dark) walk or run
20. Laughter yoga
21. Launch new business/translation website
22. Learn how to use Pinterest for my blog
23. Light up a “lampion” (spiritual candle?) and say a prayer for someone I don’t like
24. Make a vision board
25. Movie night ALONE
26. Paint on canvas
27. Parliament Hill yoga
28. Pay it forward gesture
29. Plant flowers
30. Poutine at Pong’s Poutine in Carp
31. Pray the rosary or do a novena
32. Read a money-related book
33. Register for, or complete, provincial translation certification exam
34. Research cameras, buy myself a camera, create an album of meaningful photos
35. Take a course on blogging
36. Take an online painting or mixed media class
37. Upcycle something
38. Watch Sex and the City season 1-6 (again)
39. Write an article about something; try to get it published (on a blog, website, etc)
40. Write down 40 things I’m grateful for

2011 in Jamaica – Makes me realize I’m ready for some new adventures!397609_10151067247475265_1459905525_n

Ps – I found a super cute and inspiring blog Adventures of Mel: make everyday an adventure.  And since I want to make new blogger friends, and my post today is about adventure, I’m linking up on her linky party Inspire Me Wednesday!


Mystery Blogger Award

Say whaaaat!? I just received a Blogger Award, guys! Thank you so much Food Allergy Dad for nominating my blog, you are the first food allergy parent blogger I found and connected with when I launched my blog a few weeks ago.  I’m so glad we have crossed paths and get to share our journeys!  Readers: you should check out his recent post My Food Detective about the (free!) app to help navigate the aisles of the grocery store and identify (using the bar codes) which foods contain your allergens or not!  It’s genius.

What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“The ‘Mystery Blogger Award‘ is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion” ~ Okoto Enigma.

This is exactly what I aim to do with my blog; connect with other allergy parents and build my support network, and inspire newly diagnosed families so we can motivate and encourage each other during our journeys.

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their  blog
  • Mention the creator of the award
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

3 Facts about me:

  • I have two sons.  One will be 19 years old in June and the other one just turned 3!!
  • I have 3 dogs and 1 cat (we used to foster animals before we had our second son.  Thankfully, so far he has shown no signs of being allergic to the animals.  His most recent tests also show no allergies to animal hair.  THANK YOU, GOD, because that would be beyond hard for me.)
  •  I’m a work-at-home mom running a translation business (English to French).

Questions from Rob (Food Allergy Dad):

1) If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?  Anne Hatheway.

2) You woke up this morning with the power to control one of the 4 classical elements (water, air, fire, earth).  Which one is it? Water.  I’d make sure there were no more water-related natural disasters.  I would also put a small beach in my backyard.

3) Marvel or DC? Hmm.  I had to Google this one.  Unfortunately, I’m not cultured knowledgeable enough to comment.

4) What is your favorite part about each of the four seasons?  I love:

  • I could live without winter, but, I do love snowshoeing 🙂
  • rebirth and green (my favourite color) in the spring.
  • working in my garden in the summer
  • all the different foods in the fall!

5) What song and/or artist is at the top of your current playlist? Oh man.  Ladies and Gentleman, if you haven’t discovered this amazing musical genius yet, I introduce to you, Jain!

My Nominations:

1 – My good friend has to coolest art blog!  If you like fun art project ideas to do with the kids or for the kids, check out her free “tutorial” section. Peaberry Design

2 – Another lovely Allergy Mama sharing her journey on First Time Mama Drama. I can relate to so much of what she shares on her blog.

Stephanie’s questions to nominees:

1 – What is your favourite flower?

2 – If you were a balloon, what colour would you be?

3 – If you could go back to school, or study anything you wanted, and price/time/energy wouldn’t limit you, what would you choose to study?

4 – Do you have a unique belief about life or the Universe that makes you different?  If yes, what is it?

5 – What is the last book you read or which book are you currently reading?

mystery blogger award.jpg

Menu Plan Monday


In our home, hubby does all the laundry, I do all the meals. Great deal, right?  Actually it’s not really a deal, we just naturally complement each other well that way.  (And thank goodness because I really dislike doing laundry!)

For the meal planning, I find keeping it simple works for us since I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to food prep.  Does anyone with little kids in the house ever have proper time to food prep?  All that said, I do enjoy being in the kitchen and the challenge of creating allergen-free vegetarian meals.

I’m happy to be joining Menu Plan Monday for the very first time! All my meals are vegetarian and free of my son’s allergens: no peanuts, no nuts, no chickpeas, no lentils, no green peas, no nectarines.


Monday: Buddha bowls (These are actually easy to prepare and kid-friendly because of the “separate” foods!  Kids can pick and choose what they want from the bowl.)

Tuesday: Creamy pasta and cut veggies (I love my creamy pasta!)

Wednesday: Beancakes with side of orange wedges (We’re still trying out the beans with our 3-year-old.  Since he’s allergic to some legumes, we need to be careful whenever he tries a new legume.)

Thursday: Southwest tofu scramble

Friday: Personal-sized pizzas

Weekend: Freestylin’ with leftovers and going out Saturday night for hubby’s birthday!


First signs of food allergies

Looking back, I can (now) tell that my son had food allergies as a baby.  I just didn’t know at the time that they were allergies.  When he first had avocado at about 6 months, he got a red rash in his face (kind of like patches of red all over his mouth and covering his cheeks). I suspected it could be an allergy, but I tend to be hypochondriac so I’ve learned to not trust my own judgement when it comes to being overly anxious about health issues.

I also remember him reacting to hummus (chickpeas) once where he projectile vomited.  We just thought his belly wasn’t feeling well.

Another time, his babysitter told me he got a rash all over his face after eating green peas.  We didn’t think much of it.

Another time, he got that same rash after eating red lentils for the first time.

Each of these times, we disregarded that the reactions could be food allergies.  Of course, I feel bad about that now.  Not that we could have done anything about it, I mean, we DID request a referral to an allergist after he reacted to peanut butter when he was 10 months old, because we knew peanuts are a common allergen.  And we DID request more testing after he had a  more serious reaction (respiratory distress) after eating a nectarine last fall.

We only pieced EVERYTHING together two weeks ago once the allergy tests came back showing multiple food allergies.  The news has been sinking in.  I tend to feel quite anxious when my children have a simple cold, so I’m just not sure how I should feel about this.  Now I can’t eat one meal without thinking “is there going to be an allergen hidden in there?  Where’s the Epipen?”  I try to look calm so my son doesn’t feel scared, but I’m watching him like a hawk as soon as food touches his lips.

See this article to find out how you can tell if your baby is having an allergic reaction.

I’ll finish this post by saying that one of the reason we didn’t figure out that my son had multiple food allergies is because most of his allergens don’t fall in the “8 most common allergen foods”.  His food allergies are peanut, tree nuts – those are common – but also chickpeas, lentils, green peas, some pitted fruit (nectarine only has been confirmed) which are not common.  We still need to “test” certain fruit, like avocado, peaches, pears, mangoes and other pitted fruit.  He regularly eats apples, bananas, citrus fruit, kiwis, berries no problem.


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First Post: About Us

This is a blog about our life with allergies.  I have two sons, ages 3 and 19. I was lucky to have two healthy pregnancies.  The 19-year-old never had any allergies, not even environmental.  The 3-year-old had a first reaction at 10 months.  This came out of the blue and there is no history of any type of food allergies in our families as far as we know.

The news of my son having allergies is still sinking in. Like all loving parents out there, I want him to have a happy childhood.  I started this blog to share my thoughts, personal experience and information along the way.

A few personal facts and first allergic reactions:

  • my first son, who has no allergies, was breastfed for 3 weeks only and was bottle fed for the rest of his babyhood.
  • my second son, who has multiple food and environmental allergies, was breastfed until he was 2 years old.
  • son #2 had a few minor reactions with his first foods but we didn’t really pay attention to them since food allergies were not something we were concerned about or considering a possibility at that time.
  • his first concerning food reaction was at 10 months with a very small drop of peanut butter on bread. Reaction and symptoms noted: hives showed up on his mouth and face.
  • he was first tested for allergies, with an allergist, at the age of 1. These tests confirmed a peanut allergy only. Everything else they tested for (most common food allergens) was clear.
  • we thought he was going to outgrow the peanut allergy because his reaction, although concerning, was not “anaphalactic”.
  • at 2, he started feeling ill after eating half a nectarine. He vomited and was breathing fast. I thought it was due to a cold.  I suspected pneumonia or croup and drove him to a local medical clinic.  By the time we got there, he was in respiratory distress and the doctor did a 911 call and my son was ambulanced to the local children’s hospital.  He was misdiagnosed with “asthma attack” and given puffers.  I don’t blame anyone for this misdiagnosis.  His symptoms were very similar to an asthma attack and the ventolin did help relax the muscles in his airways and increase air flow to the lungs.  We left the hospital the same day.
  • just before he turned 3, he ate red lentils and his face, mouth and eyes swelled up with hives.  This was after one bite of daal (red lentils).  After our experience with the nectarine, we didn’t take any chances and called 911 for help.  We had the epinephrine injector with us but were scared to use it. (I need to use it next time, no choice.)
  • a week after the last red lentil episode, he got re-tested at the allergist. This time they tested for legumes and a bunch of other foods. The test results showed he was still allergic to peanuts. In fact, the reaction to his arm was a lot bigger and swollen this time. The test also showed he’s allergic to birch tree, pollen, dust, tree nuts (with the exception of almonds), lentils, chickpeas, green peas, and some fruit from the plum family when they are eaten raw.  We know for sure not to give him nectarines (we learned that the hard way!), but I need to check for peaches, pears, plums, cherries, etc.  I remember him having cherries last summer and he was fine.
  • during this last visit, the allergist explained that what he has is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Although this is typically a mild food allergy in people who have spring allergies due to birch and tree pollens, a small percentage of people can have a severe reaction if they eat these foods.  Also, if the person continues to eat the allergen food, the reaction can/will become severe (for example, if my son accidentally eats a pea, from a soup let’s say, he will feel some type of reaction and that’s when needs to stop eating it. If he was to continue eating it – like with the nectarine – his reaction would get worse. But if he stops eating it right away, there should be no need for a shot of epinephrine. I guess we’ll need to see with each situation.)  OAS is related to a bunch of foods including legumes and some fruit.  This explains why some allergies “spread” to so many foods.
  • the immune system seems to react more strongly to a food allergen 1) as the allergic child grows up and 2) with each subsequent reaction to the same allergen. This scares me. Also, with OAS, an allergic person can be fine with one particular food, and one day become allergic to it and have a reaction.  This scares me too.  It feels like for now, an adult has to be watching vigilantly every time he eats.
  • My husband told me I was making too much of a deal about the allergies in front of him and he’s right. But it’s hard not to freak out.  I’m trying to not make too much of a deal about it in front of him now. He’s not the one responsible for his own life right now, we are.