There’s An App For That! An Auvi-Q App Overview

There’s an app for that?! That was my reaction, too, when a representative from Sanofi came to our local food allergy support group meeting. The rep was there to show us the new Auvi-Q epinephrine injectors. My husband and I were really impressed with the Auvi-Q in general, and it was a very informative meeting. Then, he impressed us even more when he told us about the iPhone and Android Auvi-Q app. Forgive me if someone else has already done a post on this.  If not, then I’m surprised, but I’m also wondering how many people know about it.  Here’s what it’s like.

From the Home screen of the app you can start an Auvi-Q Trainer Simulator, dial 911, and notify contacts in the event of an emergency via text message. Now, I didn’t try calling 911 from the app, but the rep from Sanofi said you could dial is straight from there. You can enter contacts to notify, and then directly inform them from this Home screen.


On the Training page, there are 3 options. Each of the 3 options teaches the user how to use the Auvi-Q: the hands-on Simulator that uses swipes to activate the trainer, the Demo Video for more visual/aural learners, and the Written Instructions for those that like details explained in pictures and words. Also on this page is a button that takes you to your expiration date reminders and training reminders. You’ll see that I have my app to remind me quarterly to train on my Auvi-Q to refresh my memory on how to use it. You can also choose to set the trainer reminder for monthly or semi-annually, or no training reminder at all.

auviqtrainerapppage     auviqsimulator   auviqvideodemo

auviq-writteninstructions    auviqreminders

On the Profiles page you create profiles for the patient(s) requiring the Auvi-Q. On the patient’s profile page, you can add their allergens. This is the one page that I do not like about the app. You can select and add any or all of the following allergens: Fire ants, bees, eggs, fish, gelatin, hornets, latex, milk, muscle relaxants, peanuts, penicillin, sesame, shellfish, tree nuts, vigorous exercise, wasps, yellow jackets, other, or unspecified. They must have their reasoning for such a mixed list of allergens, but they didn’t include wheat and soy which are two of the Top 8 allergens. Hhhmm. Not sure what they were thinking, but I don’t like that. I also wish it allowed you to type in allergens. My son is allergic to carrots, pumpkin, and celery (among others), but they are not common allergens. I still want someone to know he’s allergic to them, even though I don’t think he’s anaphylactic to those. Anyway, this is the page where you can add a picture of the patient and add your contacts, epinephrine injectors & expriation dates, as well as health care providers.

auviqaddprofile             auviqprofile               auviqnathanprofile

The final page includes prescribing and safety information, an Auvi-Q app survey (which I’ll be filling out), contact information for Auvi-Q, and additional fine print “stuff” for the Auvi-Q.


Overall, this app is great and I wish there was a comparable app for the Epi-Pen made by Mylan. Here’s what I like about it:

  1. You can train family members, teachers, babysitters, etc… in just a few minutes. The training is at your fingertips and is so convenient.
  2. You can create reminders to refill your Auvi-Q prescriptions.
  3. You can create a list of contacts to notify ALL AT ONCE in the event of an emergency. This is done by text message.
  4. You can send the patients allergy profile by email to anyone you want.
  5. You can dial 911 directly from the app.
  6. It has anaphylaxis symptoms listed in the app.
  7. It’s a FREE app!

What do you think of the new Auvi-Q or the Auvi-Q app?


Another One Bites The Dust!

Over 3 1/2 years ago Nathan was an itchy little 6 month old with a rash on his belly.  It took us nearly a month to pinpoint what was causing the rash & itching.  That was just the beginning of our food allergy journey.  Today, he had his food challenge and ate oatmeal for the first time since he was 6 months old eating baby oatmeal cereal.  It felt so weird, but I was so happy for him!  He was thrilled to be trying a new food.  Last night he told me, “If I don’t get a rash when I eat oats, I’m going to eat all the oats in the house and you won’t have any left!”  Thankfully, the oat challenge went off without a hitch, he didn’t get a rash, and we can scratch that allergen off the list-another allergen bites the dust!  Another victory that makes me so excited that I want to shout it from the rooftops!  I can’t wait to share oatmeal with him at breakfast, make Sunbutter No Bake cookies, and make our own nut-free granola.  Finally, we are kicking another allergen to the curb and crossing it off of our long list.

First bite of oatmeal at oat challenge

First bite of oatmeal at oat challenge

When we got home, Nathan enjoyed another small bowl of oatmeal.  Then, he ran for the Home Free Cookie samples we received at the beginning of the summer.  He remembered that I told him he could try them once he passed his oat challenge.  He found the box that was full of samples for us as well as our local food allergy support group (can’t wait to pass them out at our next meeting!).  He doesn’t like chocolate, so he went for the mini crunchy vanilla cookies and he really liked them.  So did his baby sister.  These cookies are organic, gluten free and Top 8 free-and are REALLY tasty.  The chocolate chip cookies reminded me of Chips Ahoy! cookies, but much better.   Thanks so much to Home Free for sending us the samples for our local allergy support group.  I’d definitely pick up a box of these organic treats the next time I’m at our local health food store.

Trying out Home Free cookies

    Trying out Home Free cookies


Overall, it’s been a great day.  I just have to say I’m so thankful and blessed that prayers have been answered.  There was a time that I never thought he’d be eating oatmeal again.


One happy boy!

One happy boy!

(I was not monetarily compensated for this short review of Home Free Treats, but did receive some samples.  This post does not contain affiliate links, and the opinions are my own.)

Preparing For A Food Challenge

It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far.  Tomorrow, N will have a food challenge for the very first detected food allergy!  Tonight I’ll be cooking some oatmeal to take to his fourth food challenge.  In January he had a soy challenge, the end of February he did a baked egg challenge, and in June he had a cherry challenge.  I know the doctors say there is no correlation between what a pregnant woman eats and what their child is allergic to, but I ate oatmeal AT LEAST once a day, sometimes two.  I love the stuff, and I’m praying that he passes the challenge-so he has more food options and so he can enjoy such a healthy food.

I feel like an old pro with this being our fourth challenge, but I have to admit I’m still nervous.  N’s original reaction to oat was a come-and-go rash on his belly with itching, and he never had hives….so, I’m hopeful that tomorrow will go well.  Here’s how we prepare for a food challenge….

1.  No anti-histamines.  N isn’t allowed to have any anti-histamines (like Benadryl) within the four days before the challenge.  Check with your own doctor on their rules on this.  We are super careful with his food (like always!) so he doesn’t have any weird reactions that require Benadryl.  We don’t try any new products that appear to be safe in the 4 days before the challenge, but that’s just our thoughts.

2.  Pack the food to be challenged.  We’ve done Silk Vanilla Soy Milk, eggs baked in muffins, fresh cherries, and tonight I’ll make oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar and a bit of Earth Balance soy free margarine.  I’m doing instant oatmeal for two reasons:  I think it’s mushy and I’m worried about cross contamination with nuts….and because I already have 2 canisters of old-fashioned oats in the cabinet.  Your doctor may give you specific items to bring for a challenge, so just ask if you’re not sure.

3.  Pack some entertainment.  We usually take a portable DVD player, the iPad, and books.  I let my son pick what movie/DVD he wants to watch so that he’s happy.  Challenges typically take 2-4 hours so movies are good.

With his DVD player at his soy challenge

With his DVD player at his soy challenge

4.  No food/drink after midnight.  Our doctor says no food or drink after midnight the night before the challenge.  Check with your doctor for their rules on this.

5.  Pack a lunch.  After the challenge your child will most likely be hungry, so pack a favorite lunch or plan to go to a safe restaurant to fill that hungry tummy.

What should you expect during a food challenge?  Here’s some basics from our past 3 challenges:

*An initial check of vitals

*Increasing amounts of food/liquid every 15 minutes

First bite at baked egg challenge

First bite at baked egg challenge

*A check of vitals every 15 minutes before they eat the next portion

*Staying in the same room during the challenge (other than bathroom breaks as needed)

*Waiting after the last portion is eating-this may vary from 30 minutes to an hour

*Be prepared to be with your child the rest of the day.  We have always been advised to be aware of a possible reaction for 6 hours past the last portion ingested.

Here are a few more tips to make the day go smooth….

*Prepare your child by talking to them about what will happen.  It’s up to you whether to warn them that an Epi-Pen shot is possible if things don’t go well.

*Ask to rub the allergen on an arm first to see if there is a contact reaction-this can save some time and agony!

*Take your spouse or supportive friend/family member.  Extra support is never a bad thing!

*Leave siblings at home, especially young ones.  You’ll need to focus on your child doing the challenge, not be distracted by entertaining your other children or having to change diapers.

*Ask questions before, during, and after if you’re unsure about something.

*Stay calm.  You’re in a monitored environment with trained professionals, so no need to freak out and pass that anxiety to your child.

*Remember, I’m not your doctor, but I can share experiences.  Talk to your allergist for the final word in your situation, and don’t use this blog post as medical advice.

*Never do a food challenge at home-it’s just not wise!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from a previous food challenge…..He was so proud to take his paper mustache from story time the day before…

MustacheEggChallengeHe’s grown up so much since then!

Let’s hear from you food allergy moms….what are your thoughts or tips on food challenges?  

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for lots of things that don’t make a blog post!

6 Things Food Allergy Moms Need To Do

I just realized it’s been over two weeks since my last post.  There’s a ton of reasons for that, some good and some not so good.  Our nearly 17-month old daughter has not napped in that span of time.  I have no idea what’s going on, but that’s one of the not-so-good reasons.  I’m just exhausted.  Also, I’m on a committee that organizes a children’s consignment sale at our church.  It was a great sale this time, but it sucks a lot of my time at home right out of my day-but it’s worth it!  Lastly, I’ve simply been in a bit of a funk.  Not depressed, just in a funk that has zapped my energy and motivation.  I’m hoping that this week I can get back into our routine, make some positive changes, and get back on track-with blogging and just life in general!

When I get like this, I can’t help but admit that it’s a nagging, come-and-go side effect of being a food allergy mom.  I love summer and the memories of my own summertime childhood that it conjures up.  Spontaneity, though, is one thing that food allergies has stripped from our family life.  It leaves me feeling deflated and pre-planning our every single move, lest anyone should get hungry while away from home without safe options available to us.  It’s tiring, and it wears on me.

Lately, though, I’ve been concentrating on taking care of myself.  For the past 3 1/2 years I’ve done nothing but focus whole-heartedly on my son.  What he eats, what he touches, what he breathes, what he does.  I’ve hardly given a thought to myself.  I’ve known this for awhile, but there’s only so much time in the day, right?  When our daughter was born 17 months ago, my focus was now on two kids-one with food allergies and one with possible food allergies.  I’m still holding on to some weight gain during & after my first pregnancy.  The only good thing, is that I’m 10 pounds lighter than where I started right before my 2nd pregnancy.  That’s something to hold on to, right?!  Then there’s my frumpy Mom Wardrobe.  It’s so hard to be frump-less on a tight budget, especially when you want to lose some weight.  Ugh.

So, where am I going with this post?  I want to share with you, fellow moms (not just food allergy moms), what I plan to do to invest in myself.  I know that it will benefit my children in the long run, and I encourage YOU to do the same.

1.  EXERCISE.  This is the hardest to fit in, trust me, I get it.  Even if it’s just a 20 minute walk, 3 times a week, that’s fine.  It’s a great stress reliever and all around good for you.

2.  READ.  Let a novel take you away from the day-to-day.  Bonus points if you let your kids see you read…you get 15 minutes of rest while you teach your children that reading is one of the best hobbies ever.

3.  EAT WELL.  If I put as much thought to what I put in my own mouth as I do to what the kids eat, I just may be down a few pants sizes.  ‘Nuff said.

4.  GET A ROUTINE.  Sticking to a routine can make things go smoother.  I know this.  When will I believe myself and do it?!  I struggle with this big time.

5.  GET AWAY.  Even if just for a short trip to Target, a night out with friends, or a date with your hubby-do it.  And don’t feel guilty.  Not one little bit.  While you’re at it, eat something yummy that you can’t have at home around your FA kiddo.  It’s OK.  Don’t beat yourself up.  Wash up before you head home, and don’t regret it.

6.  STOP COMPARING.  When scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed, or perusing Pinterest, go easy on yourself.  Being a mom in this day and age is REALLY  difficult.  I can’t imagine how much simpler life must have been for my mom without distractions from the internet.  Don’t feel like you have to be Holly Homemaker 100% of the time.  We all have messy kitchens and circles under our eyes more often than we’d care to admit-we just don’t post those pictures on Facebook.

This list could go on and on, but you get it, and I’m going to do my best to “get it” myself.  Take it one step at a time, simplify, and invest in yourself.  You deserve it and so does your food allergic child.  No matter what season of life you’re in, you CAN do this food allergy thing, take care of yourself, and don’t let Mom Guilt weigh you down.


Food Allergy Moms, what do you do to invest in yourself?  Leave a comment and some encouragement for fellow FA Moms below.

An Allergen Free 4th Birthday Celebration!

Today has been pretty relaxing for a change!  This whole past week I have been preparing for N’s 4th birthday party.  Like all parents, I absolutely am in shock that he just had his fourth birthday!  It seems just like yesterday that I was holding him for the first time, unknowing all the parental ups and downs that were to befall me in just four short years ahead.  Here’s a picture from N’s 1st birthday where he’s eating his first dairy and egg free cupcake.  It’s crazy to think that is all he’s ever known.  I am comforted to know that  he loves his cupcakes and I make sure that he always has a safe one at every party we attend.


Since then I have tried many recipes, gotten comfy (as in not so crazy-nervous) in the allergen-free world, and have become used to throwing great parties with yummy food that is ALL safe for N.  My brother (the one who named my blog!) always asks, “Everything is safe for N, right?”  This time it was everything except the mayo, which I don’t find as a huge threat to him.

Alright, let’s get this party started, and let me tell you what we served for N’s 4th birthday!!

He LOVES Disney’s Cars Movie, and that was our theme!  I wish I could say all of these decorations and accents were my idea but they’re not.  I am lazy and always scrambling, so I hopped on Pinterest and found some Over Achiever Moms who had already designed all of these things and done the hard work for me.  Follow me on Pinterest if you want to see those things.

Our menu for the party was sloppy joes, salsa, guacamole, corn salsa, tortilla chips, watermelon, veggies & dip (hummus and soy based ranch dip), and homemade Ranch seasoned (dairy free) Chex mix.  We also had Rice Krispie Treats and, of course, cake!  The cake was a Cherrybrook Kitchen mix, Nathan’s request.  To wet our whistle we had unsweetened tea, lemonade, and good ‘ole water.

Check out this spread….


IMG_4621Did you catch the stoplight theme for my tortilla chip dips?





I just LOVE these labels I found to customize for our food!  Not that food needs to be labeled, but it was just fun!  Are ya hungry yet?  Cause I am!  My husband and I are munching on leftovers right now 🙂  Mmmm, chips & corn salsa!

Here’s a picture, too, of our fun “road” tables.  Loved this idea I found on Pinterest, as well!


Alright, I know you want to see the cake.  I STRESSED over this.  If you saw one of my FB statuses last Saturday, I mentioned spending nearly 3 hours working on eggless royal icing decorations.  Um, that became a royal mess.  By Wednesday, it was starting to shrivel up and the colors were bleeding.  I was bummed, but actually I’m kinda glad it didn’t work out, because look at this cake….

Pretty awesome, huh?!!  I had already planned on putting the plastic cars on it and had bought the checkered flags at the local cake supply shop.  My mom found the giant “4” candle and I went to work.  The “sand” on the cake is Golden Oreos that I put in the food processor, the “road” is Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, and the white icing is yummy Pillsbury.  The green, blue, and red icing is a homemade recipe I found and I adapted to be dairy free.  I was surprised to hear comments such as, “Did you buy that cake?” and “Did you make the cake, Rachel?”.  The kids were saying, “I want a part of the road!”.  I have to admit, I wanted his cake to be awesome.  I didn’t want a “That’s a cute cake” kinda cake, but a “Wow!” cake.  I must admit I have taken cake decorating classes in the past, so that helped.  This will probably be the first birthday Nathan will remember and was really aware of the details like the theme.  I think these pictures show his excitement and how overwhelmed he was with all of the attention.



I think in the above picture, he was getting a little embarrassed, overly excited, and overwhelmed and how happy he was!

I was so happy to get the perfect picture of him blowing out his candle.  Makes a Momma happy!


I had made these cupcakes with sprinkles for the kids, but I’m pretty sure the adults got stuck with them!


And, here’s the aftermath…..


Gone.  ALL gone.  Plates were scraped clean and hardly a crumb left.  Success.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone would know everything was dairy, egg, & peanut free (and 7 other foods) if they weren’t aware of N’s allergies.

About 5 leftover cupcakes were there for me to indulge in after the party guests had left and the kids were in bed.  I only ate one.  I promise 😉

I slept so good last night knowing that the party was a success, the cake turned out better than I had hoped, and above all Nathan was happy, content, and safe.  I’m looking forward to the the coming year and watching him change, learn, and grow.  As I sit here wrapping up this post while on my patio under the party lights I put up for my own enjoyment, I realize I am so blessed.  Food allergies and all, he’s still a happy 4-year old boy.  He’s healthy.  He’s determined.  He loves baseball and trucks.  He loves trains and books.  He’s normal.  He’s mine.  And I’m so proud that I can say that Nathan is mine.  All mine, and I’m so proud of him.

What do you say Food Allergy Moms & Dads….how do you throw an awesome, allergen-free birthday party?  What recipes from the party menu do you want??  Leave me feedback..I love to hear from you!

I Love Stuff….That Makes Food Allergy Life Easier

I am really striving towards simplicity lately, because it keeps me much calmer.  Except shoes.  The more the merrier.  You too, huh?  Allergies, on the other hand, don’t have such a place in my heart.  But, if it’s something that helps this allergy journey a little less painful, a little more tolerable, or even a little more manageable, then who cares about simplicity?  I say, “Bring it on!”  Here’s a few things that help our daily life, and definitely made our  vacation activities possible.

1.  A waterproof container.  When we go on our vacation to the lake house, we float down the river to the ice cream shop at least twice.  Obviously we have to take my son’s Epi-pens as well as his inhaler, so we put it in a waterproof bag.  Last year the one we used leaked a little, so we had planned on just using Ziploc bags inside this same waterproof bag.  Instead, my sister-in-law, Jenny, let us borrow her new Aquapac, which she had purchased to protect her tablet at the beach.  It was perfect!  There was enough room for a twin pack Epi-pen, an inhaler & spacer, and still had room to spare.  We had Benadryl meeting us at our destination, so we didn’t send that along for the 35 minute float down the river.  The Aquapac worked really well, and I recommend it for those of you going to beaches, pools, spending time on boats, or anything that involves water.  You could even throw your small tablet or cell phones in it.  Thanks to the Aquapac, floating down the river safely was possible!  My husband is the one in the blue shirt, and he had the Aquapac over his shoulder, and N is in his own little floaty.


2.  A Frio Cooling Wallet.  This summer we’ve gotten much more diligent about keeping our Epi-pens at the proper temperature by not letting them get too hot.  We spend a lot of time outside, so we opted to get the Frio Cooling Wallet, which is originally used for insulin.  It works perfectly for Epi-pens!  We have the Frio Duo Cooling Wallet, and it’s an exact perfect fit for a twin pack Epi-pen.  Once the cooling pack is activated it puffs up a bit and so I have to push the Epi-pens down in the sleeve, and it’s snug.  Do-able, but snug.  If you want it roomy, get the Large so you have plenty of room for  your Epi-pens and maybe something else.  We have two, one for the diaper bag and one for N’s mini-back pack for when we don’t have his sister’s diaper bag with us.

3.  Insulated Lunch Box.  We love our Bento Laptop Insulated Lunch Box with the Bento Buddies Containers.  Awesome lunch box.  Love it, ’nuff said!  The Ziploc brand lunch containers fit perfectly in a Bento lunch box, and are probably much cheaper than the Bento version.


4.  Bug Repeller.  We used Jason brand natural bug spray and the Off! Clip On Bug Repeller.  We had no allergy trouble with either product, but do your own research, as I only researched for our particular allergy set.  I’d love to make my own bug spray sometime, but until then, these two things are doing the job when the mosquitos are trying to suck the life out of us!  I know this isn’t food allergy related, but we used it a lot on vacation, and I’ve heard of people having some pretty nasty reactions to mosquito bites.

5.  A mini backpack.  We use a mini backpack when just my husband or I take N by himself and just need his Epi-pens, inhaler & spacer, and Benadryl.  He’s too young to self-carry his Epi-pens, so this was a gender neutral alternative for my hubby and I.  We have another set of these things in the diaper bag for when the whole family is together.  The mini backpack is also big enough to put a few light snacks and a small water bottle.

6.  Safe Sunscreen.  We use Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple and N has done really well with it.  It doesn’t have any peanut derived oils that I am aware of, which so many sunscreens do.  It is also oat free, which is something else that is common in lotion type sunscreens.  It’s affordable and even makes the EWG’s list of best sunscreens with a rating of 2, meaning it is a minimal hazard to use.

Then there’s food products that I love, but I think that’s going to have to wait until another post.  I hope this list of products help you manage your family’s food allergies when you’re out and about .  They sure have helped make outdoor fun-in-the-sun much more attainable while staying safe!

Alright Allergy Moms (& Dads!), what are your favorite products to make life with food allergies less of a pain in the neck?  Leave a comment and share your awesome ideas!

Vacationing With Food Allergies: Make It Happen and Enjoy It To The Fullest

On Sunday we returned home from a full week in Northwest Michigan, one of the most beautiful places this side of the Mississippi.  I love it there with the tall pine trees, the beach just beyond them, and the constant breeze keeping the sweat from rising up on my forehead.  If it weren’t for family here at home, I’d buy a house on a lake, pack up and move in a heartbeat.  My husband would be leading the way.

It was a lot of prep work to get ready for this vacation, but this view from our deck every day and the fun we experienced was totally worth it.


Here’s how we did it.

1.  We rented a house with the family (and thanks to my in-laws for footing the bill!).  With a house, we could cook all of our meals which took a lot of stress out of the whole week.  I cooked most of the meat ahead and then prepped the sides once we were there.  My husband and I did all of the dinners.  That way, we knew exactly what N was eating, and he was safe all week long.  Renting may seem expensive, but it’s usually about the same as a hotel with a mini kitchen once you add it all up.  Plus, we went home with CLEAN clothes because we had a washer & dryer.  Not having to tackle the Mountain-O-Laundry once you get home might make renting a house worth it right there!

2.  We packed our meals for travel days and ate at rest stops.  This is a two for one.  Safe food and the kids get to RUN!  The kids love the picnic atmosphere and the fresh air energizes you for the next leg of the trip.

3.  Severe allergens were not allowed in the kitchen.  My sister-in-law and her man graciously kept their peanut butter upstairs in a bedroom and the door stayed closed.  At the end of the week, the dirty dishes/utensils came down and went straight into the dishwasher.   Thank you to Sharon & Adam!

4.  Relax.  Seriously, try to RELAX.  Yes, stay vigilant and cautious, but relax so you can think clearly and keep your food allergic kiddo safe.  One thing that helped me relax was locating the nearest hospital ahead of time.  Another thing that helped me was taking a TON of safe food.  Not knowing what the grocery stores were like there was nerve wracking, so knowing I had plenty of safe food on hand was comforting.

What did we do on vacation?  It’s more like, what didn’t we do?  We hiked, fished,


floated down the river,


ate (safe) ice cream at least twice, played in the sand,


had s’mores, boat rides, beach trips, sunset walks, playground exploration,


dune climb,


and junior explorer class to search for bugs.


You name it, we did it!  Food allergies don’t stop us very much, and our Epi-pens were with us every step of the way….even on the float down the river.  I want my son to be a kid, and experience things just like I did as a kid.  I try not to freak out (at least outwardly) so that the anxiety doesn’t rub off on him.  He had a blast, and this face…..


….is totally worth it.

In my next post, I’d like to share some products that helped make this trip a little easier, and some foods that made this excursion lip-smacking good!

So…when it comes to vacations and managing food allergies, do you hold back and get scared, or do you relax and enjoy yourself?