I’m thrilled to share that my children’s book about food allergies, HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy, is now available! I’ve been anxiously awaiting the moment I could introduce you to this special little someone who has been a source of hope, comfort and inspiration for me and my family for quite a while now. HumFree the bee is like all of our kids. He just wants to feel good and have fun doing what he loves. For HumFree, this means buzzing around super fast with his friends! After discovering he has food allergies that are making him sick, he learns how to do just that. I hope you find his story as inspirational as we have!

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Do you like doing budget-friendly craft projects with the kids that are easy and fun? If so, do I have a cool book for you…. Just before our first major snow storm of the new year, I received crafting guru Jamie Dorobek’s awesome book, “Creating Really Awesome Free Things,” to review. While other mamas and papas were going stir crazy with a week off from school, my kids and I were having fun making everything from toilet paper reindeer to cereal box puzzles. This crafty mama totally saved us during Virginia’s big dig out!

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Wow. Our food allergy community made fantastic strides in 2015 on many key issues, from state stock epinephrine laws and enhanced food label transparency to the many food allergy-related products that will help foster awareness and safety. While having busy families, hectic days and of course food allergies and other health issues, our food allergy community is sharing its special gifts to help make strides, increase awareness and transparency, and essentially make the world a safer place for our little ones. Here is my 2016 outlook!

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I’m thrilled to share with you all my latest foodie find: Oreo Candies! As a food allergy mama who avoids dairy, egg and nut, there really isn’t much candy in our household. But don’t get me wrong; we DO love incorporating Enjoy Life chocolate chips and chunks into most of our baking recipes! I recently reviewed a cool, super cute cookbook for Fancy Shanty entitled Kids’ Treats by fellow mama Katie Wyllie. To my delight, many of her 50 cute snack recipes revolved around…wait for it…OREOS! So of course, I made my own dairy-, egg- and nut-free version of her Oreo bon-bon for our enjoyment!

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When the Auvi-Q first hit the market, I must say it soared in, hot and shiny. With its relatively smaller size, faster delivery and voice activation, I felt myself breathe a little easier. But now I know it likely was a false sense of comfort. And the repercussions of what could have happened are frightening. So when the maker of our formerly beloved Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injectors, Sanofi US, in an Oct. 28 press release issued “a voluntary nationwide recall of ALL Auvi-Q due to potential inaccurate dosage delivery,” the food allergy community was hit with a huge blow. In my mind, I’ve started thinking about what has happened as “the Auvi-Q effect.”

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As we move forward on our food allergy journey, I’m realizing our diagnosis remains the same but everything else continues to change: our safety measures, our outlook, our comfort levels, our village of helpers, our forms of advocacy, and especially our levels of awareness. Two years ago after participating in FARE’s walk to find a cure, I realized I needed to focus much more on my son’s awareness. After my family walked again this year, I was reminded that change is constant, and that we as parents need to be ready for it as it calls us and keep moving forward.

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I have to admit that the writing and production process for my new book, HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy, was much more fun than marketing and sales. I have one small problem: I just want to give everyone a free copy! I’m so excited to share HumFree’s messages of hope, empowerment, inclusion, awareness and friendship with everyone. I want to reach children who feel alone and help them feel and know they aren’t. I want them to feel empowered. I want them to feel included. I want all of our children to find a way to do what they love–while staying safe and happy! So I’ve been wrestling with how to share HumFree in a way that feels comfortable to me. And then I got it: have a giveaway!

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I came up with the story HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy one lunch break when I was feeling emotional about our journey managing food allergies. I always had a vision of what HumFree would look like. My husband and I literally looked through a few hundred portfolios to find Brian. Once I saw his other adorable illustrations, I knew we had found the one. Many of you have asked about the artist behind these beautiful illustrations, so I put together an interview with Brian to share more about him!

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HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy is a story about hope, empowerment, awareness, inclusion and being able to do what we love while staying safe. It’s a tale about a cute little bee with a very big message. As we continue HumFree’s launch countdown, I’d like to share additional elements of the book that I hope will kick-start our important conversations about food allergy awareness and education. In particular, I’ve included an illustrated Q&A at the end of the story so the connection, dialogue and learning continues.

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What a fun and rewarding few weeks I’ve had as friends, fellow food allergy mamas and bloggers have reached out to talk about my new children’s book, HumFree the Bee Has a Food Allergy! One mama in particular asked some questions that really got me thinking about how the inspiration for HumFree began and what his message of inclusion means to my family–and hopefully will mean to you. What will HumFree’s message mean to you? You can find out now, because HumFree is available on my website!

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