Friday, August 31, 2012

Peanuts: The Party Crasher - Part 2

This is the second in a two-part series by Brandi Yee - wife, blogger at Yee Wittle Things and Mom of two, one of which has a severe peanut allergy.

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Continued from Part One

Be Informed

Stay up to date on recalls and allergy-related news. I receive email updates from Anaphylaxis Canada to stay on top of peanut allergy recalls. Inform family members and friends. It's not only extremely important that parents are aware and prepared for any allergy-related emergencies, but it's also extremely important that family members and friends are aware as well and know how to look out for allergens in their homes when having you and your children over. It's important for them to read labels when serving or preparing foods and to make sure that counters, tables and hands are sanitized and washed after using anything that contains the allergen. We have awesome family, and they've all been fabulous at making sure their homes are safe environments for when we come over. You want your child to feel safe not only in your own home, but in close family and friend's homes as well as much as possible.


It doesn't matter if you sound like a broken record, ALWAYS ask what is in something before consuming. I'm sure I've drove family and friends nuts at times, by constantly asking what is in the food they've cooked or baked, but they are more than happy to tell me the ingredients to put my mind at ease and there's been a couple times that ingredients that were thought to be innocent, contained traces of what we didn't want - peanuts. Don't be afraid to ask questions or politely decline food if hesitant. Do what's best for you and your family and make decisions based on what you feel is safe or not safe.

Party Planning

This was actually one of the more stressful moments for me after my daughter was first diagnosed. She was going to go to a party and I was a bundle of nerves. I made sure to constantly remind others of her peanut allergy and be aware of ingredients and what was being served. Once again, ALWAYS ask questions. Parties aren't hard for me to plan, because I know what's going in everything. Actually, everything is pretty much homemade, such as the cake, for this reason. What I love about making everything myself, is that I know exactly what is in it, and that winds up being a healthier choice for the whole family. There's great party foods that are peanut-free and it's a great feeling to know you've made a cake that is safe for everyone to eat, especially your child. If a cake is being served at another party that you're not sure about, you can always send something separate for your child to enjoy, so he or she isn't left out. I've had to send cupcakes before when there's been "may contain traces..." warnings on ingredients used in cakes at parties she's been invited to. As long as everyone is aware of who they're inviting, most people don't mind accommodating, and if it's an issue, they just know not to invite that child (which seems sad I know, but true). I haven't encountered that as of yet, and am very lucky that most people are more than willing to make things safe and enjoyable for everyone. As long as everyone is aware, parties can still be just as fun and safe.


It's important to start educating your child early on about his/her allergies. My daughter is still too young to fully grasp why she can't have peanuts, other than that she knows they can make her really, really sick. But I certainly could not rely on her to say "no" if she was offered something containing them or ask questions about what she's about to eat. So for now, we do our best to educate her by showing her how we ask, how we read  labels, avoid peanuts and there's even books that you can read to your kids about their allergies that are very useful! As she gets older, she'll learn how to use her Epipen, ask all those questions and be aware. There's many useful resources for teaching yourself and your children about allergies and anaphylaxis.

I could ramble on and on about ways to cope or strategies to help ease the stress of dealing with severe allergies, but in truth, each family is different. I know families with similar allergies that deal with it in the same way as us, but I also know families who deal with it in completely different ways that work for them. The common denominator is keeping your child safe. It's all about finding your comfort zone and structuring your family in such a way that everyone is aware of what's going on and how to deal with it. The best thing I learned early on, was to take things day by day. Don't rack your mind about the future or what "could happen" and be in fear. Do the best you can, take precautions and focus on each day as it comes.
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Many thanks to Brandi for sharing her story and experience. Have a question? Leave a comment!

Have a story you want to share? Email us at social (at) oliverslabels (dot) com, with "Guest Post" in the subject line.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peanuts: The Party Crasher

This is the first in a two-part series by Brandi Yee - wife, blogger at Yee Wittle Things and Mom of two, one of which has a severe peanut allergy.

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Allergies have become a part of society it seems now a days and it's getting harder and harder to avoid. Yes, I'm used to allergies on my side of the family (seasonal allergies, pet allergies, and food allergies to shellfish, strawberries...just to name a few!) and I fully expected our kids to have some form of allergies themselves. With that being said, I honestly never expected one of our kids to develop a life threatening allergy. That was a life altering "surprise" and one that we haven't experienced on either sides of the family...until now. What is the culprit? Peanuts. What's even more surprising, is that peanut allergies are one of the most common allergies in children. I never knew that until my (now 3 year old) daughter was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy herself.

Our Story

All it took was a couple bites of a homemade peanut butter cookie after she was a year old, and our lives would take a different course. I knew to look out for a reaction, as it was her first taste of the nutty sweetness, but don't think I was quite expecting anything to happen. Being familiar with allergies and how to recognize reactions, I knew instantly that when swollen bumps began forming around her eyes and mouth, that this wasn't going to be pleasant. Head to toe hives, swelling throat, ears, eyes and wheezing in a matter of minutes, would be the start of a whole new way of living; for both her and us. We made it to the hospital JUST in time and I'm very thankful for that. It took days for the swelling to go down even after she was administered 3 types of different medication. We were advised to carry an Epipen at all times and keep one in our house as well. What has stood out in my mind the most, is the doctor telling us that the first reaction is MILD compared to future reactions. With hers being such a severe first reaction, we don't want to find out what a future reaction would involve. Changes had to be made and regular caution would become a part of the family.

Two years later and Epipens constantly within our reach, we've learned how to cope and manage with this new addition to our lives. It took some tears and stress-filled moments to reach a point where we felt we are doing everything we can to keep her away from any peanut-related situations. There may be only so much in our control, especially when out in public or at playgrounds, but the caution we use daily has prevented her from (fingers crossed) having a second and possibly more fatal reaction.

Be Prepared

Yes, my purse is almost like luggage now. I'm prepared for anything and people have made comments (jokingly of course) about how much it weighs. But you know what? My purse holds everything I need to help keep my daughter safe if we're ever in a situation where peanuts pose a threat. I not only carry an Epipen in my purse, but I also carry Benadryl and a syringe to administer if such a reaction begins to arise. A cell phone can also be important for any unexpected times when 911 is needed. It's important to be prepared. Better safe than sorry as the saying goes, and it's the motto I live by now.

Know how use to an Epipen. This includes you and people who are close in your lives. There are information packages available and the most important thing to know, is how to administer the Epipen if an emergency presents itself.

Note: It's extremely important to keep Epipens up to date and to be aware of expiration dates on them. One thing I have learned, is that even if you buy them on a certain day, it doesn't mean you have a year from the date of purchase. They have a shelf life that will likely vary from the day you purchased and could even be off by a matter of months believe it or not. You can also sign up to receive email reminders for your Epipen's expiration dates.

Read Labels

This is extremely important, especially for food allergies. I am VERY fortunate that I was already used to reading labels because of healthy choices (such as trans fat, cholesterol content, sodium, etc.), so it was not an inconvenience for me at all to take an extra few seconds to read for allergens. Whether it's the actual allergen in the product, possible traces of the allergen, or manufactured in the same plant as the allergen, you need to be aware of this before purchasing. I'm very fortunate for the better awareness by companies today in regards to not only peanut allergies, but many other allergies as well. And just because something has the peanut-free symbol on it, I still have the habit of flipping over the product and reading the ingredient list.

Location, Location, Location

Be aware of your surroundings and scan areas, such as park benches, picnic tables, playgrounds, sand boxes, grass, etc. for anything that could pose a threat. For us with the peanut allergy, we have to constantly watch for dropped peanuts and shells from squirrels, or people that have flicked them on the sidewalk or grass. I've seen many peanuts and shells laying around, even in our own yard from squirrels. Always assess the situation and the location.

~ Stay tuned for part two of Brandi's story on Friday. ~

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

You know what this means, right? 
Need more Shoe Labels in time for school!
Thanks to our fan, Ella, for sending this in to us - we got a kick out of it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My first "Back-to-School"

Since my oldest child started school last year, I've been thinking a lot about what this very first "back-to-school" will mean. Let's face it, the train has left the proverbial station and has embarked on an 18-year journey, making the fact that she's growing up all too real.  I wonder if my Mom felt the same.

As a kid, I remember back to school season fondly. Well, the shopping for school supplies and clothes was fun, but the end of summer... not so much.  I remember the last week of August being bittersweet. I wanted summer to go on forever, but I also really missed seeing my friends every day. I hope my daughter feels the same. There's an amazing sense of renewal at back-to-school season that is exciting. A new grade to conquer; new friends to make; old friends to reconnect with.

And, while it's exciting for kids, it can also be a lot of work for parents. My to-do list is already crammed with tasks to prepare for the first week back. I'm not always the most organized person, but I am off to a good start. I have already started a list of items to purchase - some that need replacing or upgrading from last year (I don't think the weeny backpack will cut it in SK!), a few new outfits for her ever-growing body, and of course, our newest tradition that was started this same time last year... letting her pick out new labels. I thought we would have enough to last two years, but I've just about run out of every type - especially shoe and Stick-eez clothing labels, which are always the first to go in our house.

And so the back-to-school countdown begins. Here are some of my tips for a successful - and stress-free - season.

1. Take a wardrobe inventory
Spend an hour or so going through your child's clothing and have them try on anything that looks like it might not fit, come the fall. Make a list of what's needed and start shopping now to ensure size availability. Don't forget to check your child's shoes to see if they fit! Many a parent has been caught off guard when junior puts on last season's running shoes only to find he's grown out of them over the summer.

2. Buy school supplies sparingly
Call your child's school and ask if they have a suggested list of supplies for their grade/class (some do). If so, this will help keep unneeded purchases to a minimum. If not, stick to purchasing the basics for the first day back; here's a great list to get you started. School supplies aren't cheap, so save your money - anything that's still needed can be bought later.

3. Check coupon / deal websites before you shop
Sites like and are a wealth of coupon codes and promotional offers, so don't forget to check them before heading out to shop. If you're not familiar with how they work, it's simple - type in the store name that you'll be visiting, hit "enter" and the website will list any available coupons (or online promo codes) for it. Better yet, do as much shopping as possible online and save your sanity!  

4. Label everything
When I say everything, I mean everything! ;) There is no end to the number of things kids can lose... from pencil crayons and scissors to hoodies and shoes, it's a wonder anything is left at the end of the year. With over 40 designs and 17 fonts to choose from, there's something for everyone. My daughter, in particular, loves the fact that she can customize each kind of label and tag in her package with a different design and font - no other company has such a wide range of customization options. For kids with allergies, our wide range of Allergy Labels, Tags and Safety Wristbands are an excellent way of alerting your child's teachers to his or her allergy/ies, especially the first few weeks of being in a new class.

When ordering, don't forget our exclusive, optional (and FREE!) Found-it™ system - a must-have to help your kids' lost items get returned.  If you need assistance placing an order or simply have a question that isn't answered on our website FAQ, our wonderful customer service team is available by email (, phone (1-800-398-2060) or online chat (button is on right side of website), so let us know if we can be of assistance! Or, if you're on Twitter, feel free to tweet us!

Happy back-to-school shopping!