Archive for Parenting

Scroll down for the details about the Gluten Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x10. But first, I want to tell you about an exciting new children’s book.

Explaining Celiac Disease to a child (and even adults!) can be difficult. So, when I was recently introduced to a new children’s book that explains Celiac Disease, I was anxious to read it and see how the author approached this subject with her own child. My son was so young (18 mos) when he was diagnosed, that I didn’t need to tell him a lot about it in the beginning. His knowledge about Celiac Disease has grown gradually, as he got older and was better able to understand it. It gave me time to understand it myself, and think about how to approach the subject with him. By the time my daughter was born, a few months later, we had already switched our household to being completely gluten free.

As my kids got older, we did have conversations (and still do) about Celiac Disease, gluten, and how to deal with school, friends, restaurants, and other outings dealing with food. For us, the acceptance and understanding of being gluten free was a natural process because we dealt with it as new situations were presented to us. My children don’t know any different. We don’t lament over it, we just deal with it as a natural result of our intolerance to gluten. They are not embarrassed or uncomfortable about it. And I’m happy to say that they feel confident enough to tell friends about it and to ask about the gluten content in food before eating it. So, I don’t think that part of being diagnosed has been difficult for us.

I have, however, known other families who were diagnosed when the kids were older. They had already developed favorite foods – favorite gluten foods. Before the diagnosis, they were able to eat any snacks, lunches and treats at any party, event or restaurant without having to question the ingredients. For these kids and their families, I think the transition is more difficult. The parents are often overwhelmed by the experience. They are immediately forced to face it all: explaining it to family members, teachers, friends, cafeteria, restaurants, etc. This new book may be the first step to helping families accept the diagnosis and treatment, and see it as a happy alternative to an otherwise unhealthy life.

“Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” by Katie Chalmers is a children’s book that is beautifully illustrated and written as a dialogue between a mother and daughter. And to be honest, at first I was a little uneasy with the dialogue format. I read so many books to my children, that I guess I was expecting a story book. But, instead, I found this book to be a thoughtfully written suggestion of how to introduce and explain Celiac Disease to a child. Perhaps it will help you and your family members better understand Celiac Disease. It includes questions and answers about what Celiac Disease is, what gluten is, what it does to the body, and what that means for the family. As I read the book, I was drawn in by how the mother creatively explains Celiac Disease to her daughter in a language and terminology that a young child can easily understand. I was surprised by the detail that was put into describing the physical effects on the body. But, it is not a medical book. It was all explained in language that is appropriate for young children. And best of all, it is written with a very positive, loving voice that embraces the diagnosis and sees it as an opportunity to thrive.

My final thoughts? I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to explain Celiac Disease to a child 3-10 years. I think it’s probably too detailed for a younger child to understand. However, even if you have younger children, it would be a good book for parents to read. It certainly gives you ideas about how you can continue to explain the disease to them as they get older. Older children may also be interested to read it as a first step to understanding the disease. I feel like it is written for younger children, with analogies to nature and playground equipment. So, older children may not find the references to playground equipment very exciting, but they will be able to relate and easily understand the comparisons.

Buy the book. If you have children, grandchildren, or other young people who are curious about Celiac Disease, you can buy the book at Katie Chalmers’ website. Buy one for yourself, for friends, and maybe one to donate to your school’s library and the public library. It would be an easy way to introduce friends and classmates to Celiac Disease, and hopefully, help them gain a good understanding of what gluten free means. Perhaps it will even impress upon the teachers how important it is for children with Celiac Disease to remain gluten free. It isn’t just a diet of choice. For Celiacs, it is a necessary diet for a healthy life. [I do not get a commission for these sales. I simply think it is a worthy investment for increasing awareness about Celiac Disease.]

Gluten Free Holiday Giveaway x10! Not ready to buy the book? Or, maybe you like the idea of having multiple copies to give to other family members. The author of the book, Katie Chalmers, has put together a fabulous giveaway with fabulous gluten free products. Celiac Family and 9 other blogs will be hosting the same giveaway over the next two weeks. One winner will be chosen from each blog. You may enter the giveaway on each of the blogs to increase your chances of winning, but you can only win once. Several companies that make gluten-free products have donated items for the giveaways. Just take a look at all the good stuff in the giveaway.

Giveaway Goodies. Contents may vary slightly, but each winner can expect to receive the following:

  • Signed copy of “Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?”
  • Schar 123 Milly PlayMais- dice game & biodegradable natural toy activity brick set
  • Schar products: Cheese Bites, Chocolate -or- Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies, Hazelnut Wafers
  • Pamela’s Products: Single Serve Pancake Mix, Single Serve Brownie Mix, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookie two-pack,  Tablespoon/teaspoon measuring spoon, kids sized t-shirt- color will vary
  • Nature’s Path: Peanut Butter Panda Puffs & crispy rice bars- flavors will vary, $1 off coupons
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers: one of the following: box of cookies -or- crackers -or- Sticks & Twigs
  • Snyder’s of Hanover: bag of gluten-free pretzel sticks
  • Chebe: pizza crust mix -or- all purpose bread mix
  • Bob’s Sweet Stripes: one bag of soft peppermint candy sticks
  • Stuffed teddy bear: colors may vary
  • Holiday pencils, eraser, holiday notepad & plastic snowman cereal bowl
  • Large holiday gift bag & small holiday gift bag & tissue paper- will need to be assembled to give as gift

Where to Enter. Be sure to visit each website below for another chance to win the fabulous prize pack! (But remember, you can only win once.)

Accustomed Chaos – hosted by Devan

Adventures of a GF Mom – hosted by Heidi

Be Free For Me – hosted by Kathleen

Celiac Family – enter below in the comments

Gluten Free Betsy – hosted by Betsy

Gluten Free Easily (gfe) – hosted by Shirley

Gluten Free is Life – hosted by Kim

Gluten Free Philly – hosted by Michael

Gluten Free Taste of Home – hosted by Cinde

Simply Sugar & Gluten Free –  hosted by Amy

Finally – How to Enter the Giveaway!

  1. Simply leave a comment on this post telling me about the gluten free product that helped you the most when you first started on the gluten-free diet. (It can be a food, a cookbook, book about Celiac Disease, or maybe even a friend.) Or, if you aren’t on the diet yet, just tell me which of the prizes interests you most.
  2. You can receive bonus entries for letting your friends know about the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog. Just be sure to come back and leave additional comments below letting us know where you mentioned it.
  3. Make sure when you’re leaving a comment, that you put your email address in the appropriate box so that I can contact you if you win.
  4. The giveaway will run from now until Dec. 15, 2010; 10 pm EST. The winner will be chosen using The winner should respond within 24 hours after being contacted by email. If I’m unable to contact the winner, another winner will be chosen. We’d love for the winner to receive the prize before Christmas, so that you can enjoy the goodies during the holiday.
  5. Good Luck!

Additional Rules for the Gluten Free Holiday Giveaway Galore x10!

  • All 10 of these contests are open to residents of the USA. Only the Accustomed Chaos and Gluten Free Easily contests are also open to Canadian residents.
  • All 10 contests begin on Wed. Dec. 1, 2010 and will end on Wed. Dec. 15, 2010 at 10pm EST.
  • Entry requirements will vary between bloggers. Please follow their directions to enter.
  • Entrants can only win once total within all 10 giveaways. If anyone is chosen more than once as a winner, another winner will be chosen so everyone only wins once.
  • One winner per household.
  • Winners with valid entries will be selected at random. The winners will be announced and notified via email and must reply within 24 hours to claim. Otherwise, another eligible entry will be chosen, in order that all prizes will arrive before Christmas. So please remember to check your email on Dec.16th.
  • If any of the 10 prizes do not arrive before Christmas because of any unforeseen holiday mail rush problems, the USPS, Katie Chalmers and hosting bloggers will not be held accountable.
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The Kids Table at Thanksgiving

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If you have large family gatherings for Thanksgiving, you may do what many families have been doing for years: have a kids table set up separate from the adult’s table for the Thanksgiving meal. Although I would like to have the kids at the same table as the adults, it doesn’t usually work out. Some years there are just too many people to sit at the same table. Plus, the kids are usually the first to be served and the first to be done eating. They can eat, be done, and move on to playing with cousins. We adults can enjoy the meal and conversation at our own leisurely pace.

But, I don’t want the kids to miss out on the festive Thanksgiving table. So, let the kids help with these fun ideas for the kids table. These projects are so simple and adjustable, you can easily put them together last minute.

Pilgrim Hats. I found this idea at and thought they were so cute. I picked up some black paper cups and plates at the dollar store, to make this a cheap but fun addition to my daughter’s kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast this year. Cut the edges off the plates so they are flat hat brims, then glue the cups upside down onto the plates. Cut buckles out of construction paper and glue them to the cups. To make these more useful, cut out the bottom of the cups and fill them with popcorn or another light snack. Or, instead of snacks, consider placing a napkin with fork and knife in it. Pick up black plastic flatware at the dollar store, too.

Pine Cone Turkeys. Have the kids gather some pine cones from the yard. If you don’t have feathers to glue into them, use colorful leaves or cut feather shapes out of construction paper. Bend a chenille stick for the wattle and glue it in the tip of the pine cone with some googly eyes. Cut a beak out of construction paper to glue on, too. Now you have a centerpiece for the kids table. And, the kids will feel so great about making it themselves. If you have some older kids who can supervise the younger ones, it makes a great activity to keep the kids busy while the adults are finishing the dinner preparation.

Turkey Treats. Here’s a treat the kids can help decorate, and then gobble up. I found a similar one at, but I made it simpler than theirs. I used the basic recipe of 6 cups cereal, 10 oz. marshmallows, and 3 TBSP butter. (Do not use Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. They have malt flavoring in them, and are not gluten free.) I use Erewhon’s Crispy Brown Rice Cereal and Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice Cereal. I had a box of each, so I mixed them together. I think if I did it again, I would just use the Chocolate variety for a darker color. Instead of a 13×9 pan, I just pressed the mixture onto a greased baking sheet so I could make it thinner, and cut out more. I used a cookie cutter to cut out circle shapes for the tail. For a head shape, I rolled some into small balls while they were still a little warm. Instead of peanut butter, I used chocolate frosting to stick on the head and candy. I also used dot or button candy, but you could easily use any gluten-free small candy for the eyes. For the wattle, I used a dried cranberry. And for the feathers, we used candy corn.

More Thanksgiving Ideas:

  • Visit Celebrate It! for more fun Thanksgiving treat ideas the kids will love.
  • Check out Woo Jr.‘s Thanksgiving activities to keep the kids entertained before dinner.
  • How about Thanksgiving games for the kids after dinner? Check out the list at Amazing Moms.
  • You’ll find cute printable Thanksgiving decorations at Dimple Prints.
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Hot Wheels Birthday Cake

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It was such a busy summer that I never got around to sharing this birthday cake idea with you. My son loves Hot Wheels! His love of cars started at a very early age, and by the time he was three years old could tell me which cars were Hot Wheels as opposed to any other brand of toy car. I created a Hot Wheels monster truck cake for him when he turned 5, so I wasn’t expecting to make another Hot Wheels cake for him this year. But, two days before his birthday, he insisted on a Hot Wheels cake. And not just a Hot Wheels cake, but a Hot Wheels race track cake. Huh? Has he been watching Ace of Cakes when I wasn’t around? I loved the creative challenge, but with only two days to figure it out, I figured he’d have to accept whatever I could come up with.

I started going through his Hot Wheels tracks for ideas. I found a fun little track that I thought would be fun to incorporate with it. But, I couldn’t remove all the track pieces from the base and support structure. As I discussed the idea with my husband, he suggested that we just use the regular flexible Hot Wheels track pieces to make our own race track. Well, they seemed a little big for it, but he convinced me he could make a support structure for it. OK. But to be a Hot Wheels track it has to have a loop, right? And wouldn’t it be fun if it went through a tunnel in the cake? So, that’s how the thoughts flowed to come up with this idea. Crazy, I know. But the kids loved it!

I didn’t get pictures of the building process. I was too busy trying to figure out what to do to stop and take a picture. And, I’m really sorry I never got a video of it working. We had to enlarge the tunnel a little, and find the right, low-profile car to make it through the tunnel. The kids at the party all enjoyed giving it a try before we cut the cake. It worked most of the time, though the car got stuck in the frosting a couple times.

More specifics:

I baked two round 9″ cakes. I used Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and followed the baking directions.

I made Wilton’s recipe for Chocolate Buttercream Icing, and used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa to make it almost black (and deliciously chocolate :P).

For the bottom layer cake, I cut a path for the tunnel 3/4 of the way through the middle. (At this point, it looks almost like the letter U.) Then, I frosted the top and inside the tunnel.

For the top layer cake, I cut out another path for the tunnel. Then, I placed the cake on top of the bottom layer. I had to make some adjustments for the tunnel, by cutting a little more here and there so that the cake becomes like a ramp down the middle. After testing it with the track, I frosted the top, sides and inside the tunnel.

For the side of the cake, I tried to keep the decoration simple. I used a plastic chop stick to make indentions along the side of the frosted cake to resemble tire tread.

For the flames: I used simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. (I start with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp water and adjust as necessary.) Then I separated it into three small bowls and used food dye to create red, orange and yellow frosting. I used Wilton’s small round #3 decorating tip to outline the flames. Then, filled in with the different colors as shown in the picture. I used a small knife to spread the frosting to fill in the flames.

For the support of the track, my husband used a yard stick and a dowel rod secured with a nail. The track and clamp are all Hot Wheels pieces I drug out of the toy bin at home. The track had to be high enough to make the loop successfully. It also needed a little support in the middle of the track, so we used a straw taped to the underside of the track and top of the yard stick.

More Great Birthday Cake Ideas:

I’m also linking this post to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, where you’ll find lots of wonderful gluten-free recipes, reviews and ideas.


Disney Princess Vitamins Gluten Free!

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Just wanted to share the good news: The Disney Princess chewable vitamins (Complete Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement) are now gluten free. In the past, the princess vitamins we checked listed wheat starch in the ingredients, so we avoided them. But, when I saw them again last month, I decided to give it another try. Boy, was my daughter glad I checked them again! It says right on the label that there is no wheat and no gluten.

I took a picture of the label (posted below), in case there are other ingredients you avoid. But check out what isn’t in them: milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, yeast, shellfish, and sodium. That works for us! (Be sure to check the label before you buy them. There may still be some bottles on the shelves that contain wheat starch.)

My daughter loves to pick out the princess shape and color to have each morning with breakfast. She prefers the chewable vitamins over the gummie vitamins. However, if your child prefers the gummies, you can also purchase Disney Princess Gummies Vitamins. Last I checked, these were also gluten-free.

Notable Links:

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Make Your Own Snack Mix – GF/EF

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Due to all the snow days we’ve had this winter, my son just hit his 100th day in school last week. His teacher planned all kinds of fun counting activities for the kids to mark the 100th day. The week before the activity, the teacher emailed me saying that she wanted to have the kids each make their own trail mix snack. They would each count out 10 pieces of 10 different food items and combine them to come up with 100. So, she gave me a list of snack foods that she has used in the past for this activity, and asked me what we could do to make sure it was gluten-free. There is another student in the class that has an allergy to eggs, so they needed to be egg-free, too. I was surprised how quick and easy it was to come up with a list of items.

The teacher was able to find 9 different items at her local grocery store with no problems. I provided the 10th item, a bag of small pretzel twists for the class because I had a spare bag in the pantry. Glutino makes great pretzels that are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free. If you haven’t thought about making a trail mix for snack foods, here’s a list of items to get you started. Choose two, three or ten! items to create that perfect snack for you and your kids. Obviously, you can make it as healthy or unhealthy as you like. And, of course, check labels to make sure that the items you are buying are gluten-free (and egg-free if you need it to be egg-free as well).

This is a great activity for the kids. It certainly makes a good counting activity, but also encourages them to prepare their own nutritious snacks. Give them a choice of appropriate snacks to choose — maybe one of each of the categories below. Whatever works for you and your family, just have fun and enjoy eating gluten-free!


Dried Fruits:

  • raisins
  • cranberries/craisins
  • blueberries
  • yogurt covered raisins


  • Peanuts
  • Cashews, almonds, or other tree nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds



  • Mini marshmallows
  • chocolate chips
  • M&Ms
  • Skittles
  • Fruit snacks
  • Gummy bears

So, I’m sure I’ve missed some snack ideas. Do you have any to share? What do you put in a snack mix?

Notable Links:

Categories : Kid-friendly, Parenting
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