Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet snowballs and snowy travel

My daughter and I enjoyed making (and eating) the delightfully, tasty chocolate snowball cookies featured in the latest issue of Living Without magazine as a new addition to our variety of holiday treats. Pamela loved rolling the chocolate balls of dough in powdered sugar to give them all a nice dusting of "snow." While she gave the cookies a sugary coating, I was reminded of the way real snow altered our travel plans during our recent trip to New York. The wintery weather put my preparation skills to the test while traveling with my son, who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard, along with having asthma.

My husband and I, both from New York, were excited to give our children a taste of Christmas in New York City. They had a blast taking the train to the city, riding in taxis, walking through the crowded streets in awe of the tall buildings and lavish window displays on Fifth Avenue, visiting the huge tree at Rockefeller Center, watching the skaters glide across the ice, and doing some shopping, taking a turn making music on the famous piano at FAO Schwarz. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular was a highlight for all of us. Both of my children were enchanted by the show that showcases the famous Rockettes dancing in perfect time, along with Santa and even a 3-D feature. I was thrilled to share an experience with my kids that had given me precious memories during my childhood.

I was especially glad that Joseph was able to navigate Manhattan without letting his food allergies dim the magic. Of course, a lot of planning and precautionary measures went into making that happen. I employed the preparation that is highlighted in the story I wrote for Living Without magazine about road trips with food allergies. For example, before we hit the road for our drive to New York, I cooked and froze more than enough meals for Joseph for the length of our trip. Safe snacks, homemade muffins, bread and crumb cake that I had sliced and placed in individual containers, along with plastic cutlery, paper place mats, our safe hand soap, and plenty of wipes were packed. I ensured that all of my son's prescriptions were full and made sure his nebulizer with battery and car charger made it into the bag.

Each day we took the train to the city, we packed my husband's laptop backpack with Joseph's lunchbox and nebulizer. He wears two Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injectors and I carry two EpiPens, along with his inhaler, at all times. It was important that he felt confident that we had everything he needed so that he could just enjoy his first trip to Manhattan. And he did. Both of my kids were so excited with all of the new things they were experiencing and they loved the time they got to spend with family when we weren't in the city. We had some fun bowling outings with their cousin, aunt, uncle and grandpa. That quality time with family was just as special as the bright lights and big buildings of the city.

But the winter weather threw a slippery wrench into our travel plans when we saw the forecast for snow and ice blocking our path back to North Carolina. The smart choice was to stay a day or two longer so we were not driving while the snow and ice was making the highways treacherous. But did I have enough food and medicine to keep Joseph fed and safe for an extended stay? This was the first trip where the fact that I always pack full prescriptions came in handy, so he had plenty of his maintenance and emergency medication. The food was another story. Thankfully, I had packed extra meals so he had enough for two more days with full meals and he still had plenty of snacks. I figured if necessary, he could have chips and applesauce for lunch on the drive home and he'd be fine.

So we decided staying two more days was the best option, until another storm was forecast, again right in our path, again starting early in the morning preventing us from beating it. When we added yet another day to our stay to wait out the second wintery blast, I visited the local natural food store where I found the brand of gluten-free pasta Joseph eats. It was easy to boil water in the microwave in our hotel room to make pasta that he could eat mixed with his applesauce, giving me two more meals for Joseph. I don't think he would have complained with chips, applesauce and a few cookies for lunch, but I felt better that I could extend his meals until we got home.

My kids were full of glee while they stomped around, gathering and throwing handfuls of the little bit of snow that fell where we were staying north of Manhattan. The extra time we stayed gave my kids a fun, snowy experience to add to their memories of the trip. I'm glad they enjoyed the snow, but for now, I'm happy to enjoy snowballs of the chocolate, sugarcoated variety.