Saturday, March 17, 2012

A bit of Irish fun

My Irish eyes were smilin' today. As I watched my kids, donned in various shades of green, bite into their green-frosted, chocolate cupcakes I reflected on a fun St. Patrick's Day. We didn't go to any big events, but we did activities at home to celebrate and pay homage to the Irish part of our heritage.

We started our day with green waffles (Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Pancake & Waffle mix) with a side of fresh strawberries, just before the kids discovered the shamrock trail a leprechaun made after he escaped from our leprechaun trap. At least that sneaky little Irish fella left coin-filled "golden" pots behind in the trap.

Leprechauns, rainbows and shamrocks colored our little world today. Pamela and I baked the yummy cupcakes (King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix) — of course, Joseph made sure he taste-tested the batter. We played various games, (such as "Roll a leprechaun") did a rainbow science experiment and used a green pepper to make shamrock paintings. Both Joseph and Pamela enjoyed the rainbow shamrock treasure hunt the best (a great printable from The Crafting Chicks) They had fun reading the instructions on each colored shamrock and then finding the treasure — a green bucket filled with trinkets, such as bubble pens, pencils, lollipops and punch balloons. For dinner, I made a family favorite – shepherd's pie, using the pie crust recipe from Cybele Pascal's Allergen-Friendly Baker's Handbook. I thought about dying the mashed potatoes green for the shepherd's pie. But when I remembered how grossed out everyone was when I tried that a previous year, I placed a shamrock cookie cutter on top of the pie to give it more of an "Irish" feel.

As Pamela was starting to hide the twinkle in her eyes for the night, she was ready to hop to the next holiday. "When are we going to paint the eggs for Easter, Mama?" Both of my kids are so excited to paint the white, wooden eggs we get each Easter from Oriental Trading. I love them because they give my food-allergic son a chance to safely enjoy the tradition of coloring eggs. But also, I enjoy adding them to our growing collection of colorful egg creations each year. Indeed the wooden eggs we will paint for Easter arrived this week, along with the prize-filled eggs we will contribute to the annual food-free Easter egg hunt our local support group NC FACES (Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely) will host next weekend. Easter can be dicey for food-allergic kids, who might feel like they have to be as sly as leprechauns to escape the chocolate bunnies, peanut butter candies and yes, eggs, that seem ubiquitous this time of year. That is why we are thankful to skip the candy-filled egg hunts and enjoy an afternoon searching through a park for brightly colored eggs filled with trinkets — not food.    

Not once during any of our activities or meals today did Joseph worry or feel bad about his food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard. Instead he enjoyed the many fun holiday activities that can be done without food. Plus, we are blessed to have many safe food options to make that we didn't have to count on Irish luck for our family to enjoy yummy meals.