Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Irish eyes are smiling

I'm not sure if it was the luck of the Irish, but I was certainly feeling blessed today. Shamrocks, leprechaun mischief and green-colored food mixed with Easter baskets and colorful eggs as we celebrated two holidays.

We had already spent some time during the week focusing on St. Patrick's Day in our homeschool with some writing assignments, learning games and crafts. Preschool math games, such as shamrock graphing activities by Inspiration Laboratories, are great because not only do they provide a fun way for my 4-year-old to learn, but also they give my 9-year-old a chance to help guide his sister with an activity that won't make him roll his eyes. Crafts, such as the "Roll a rainbow" by The Mailbox, also cross the age difference between my kids. They both enjoyed rolling toy cars in various shades of paint and using them to create a rainbow with a glitter-filled pot of gold at the end, of course.

It is such a treasure that there are so many ways to celebrate holidays with fun activities so that Joseph doesn't have to focus on his allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard, along with having asthma. But we also enjoy baking yummy, safe treats to celebrate, and I'm thankful that there are plenty of allergy-friendly options celebrate the bit of Irish in our heritage.

My children started the day following a shamrock trail to a green pot with some leprechaun prizes before eating shamrock-shaped toast topped with green sugar sprinkles, along with fresh fruit. Then we started planning our treat-baking schedule for the day. We made allergen-friendly chocolate cupcakes topped with green frosting, then made rolled brown sugar cookies from Cybele Pascal's "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" into the shape of shamrocks. Once those were covered in green frosting and purple sprinkles, it was time to prep the turkey shepherd's pie so it would be ready when we returned from the Easter egg hunt.

As I watched my son help hide eggs for our food allergy support group's annual food-free Easter egg hunt and my daughter so absolutely excited to be searching for those colorful, prize-filled plastic eggs, I was reminded of how lucky we are to be part of NC FACES (Food Allergic Children Excelling Safely), a group that has helped us navigate food allergies for most of Joseph's life.

When Joseph told me he felt too old for the egg hunt and would like to volunteer to help hide eggs instead, I wistfully reminisced about all of the years when he was one of the young kids gleefully running across the field to fill his basket. But once again, NC FACES came through and gave him a fun, safe experience. This time, he was proud to be one of the big kids helping an original NC FACES member, Marysa Gavankar, who ran the event at a local park today. She had creative crafts ready to keep the little hands busy while Joseph and a couple other kids found hiding places for the eggs. Marysa also organized a game that had kids laughing as they threw plastic eggs across a grassy spot into nets held by Joseph and three other boys. And when it was time for the hunt, Joseph helped hold the banner for Pamela and the other young kids to run through as they embarked on their quest to fill eggs.
Both Joseph and Pamela had a blast in their own way at today's food-free egg hunt. As my children sipped their green, dairy-free milk out of shamrock straws and dug into their shepherd's pie, they happily recounted the day's activities. Once again, I am so thankful to be part of such a dynamic, caring allergy support group and to be able to attend events like the egg hunt that offer our kids a safe, fun way to celebrate and make me feel pretty lucky.