Category Archives: Turn it Teal

My Husband, Richard

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When my son was in the ICU in Poland, and he was being brought out of his coma, he would look at me with big eyes and cry.  But we couldn’t hear him because the machines were still doing all of the breathing for him.  And I literally hid behind my husband.

I wasn’t a strong mom.  I was very weak.

And overwhelmed.

I didn’t know how to handle the pain of my baby in so much pain.

And my husband stepped forward and took hold of my baby’s hand and just sang to him.  And prayed for him.  And stroked him.

I looked at my husband, broken, and yet such strength.

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And, so, today, as we are suppose to thank someone for this #TurnItTeal week of allergy awareness, I would like to thank him, Richard Nungesser.  Our family’s strength.

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You know…I wasn’t sure if I wanted to marry Richard.  He wanted to be a missionary and travel the world sharing the Good News of Jesus with a bunch of people he didn’t know.  That was a bit too zealous and ambitious for me.

I was okay sharing the Love of Jesus with people in my home city.  That made me happy.  And comfortable.

But I really loved this man.  And so we wed.

And we began our life in Poland, where he is the lead pastor at Poznan International Church and Kalisz International Church and the founder of Rescue the Forgotten.

Man—it has been and is an AWESOME yet wild ride!

After years of infertility, we were blessed with our sweet cheeks.  She is now a decade (as she calls it).  Her name is Adelyne Marguerite.

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Then we had another.  That we named Sam.  Sam does not have a birthdate nor full name, because we lost Sam in miscarriage.  But Sam holds an equal-sized portion of our hearts.

After Sam, we had Max.  Max did not want to live.  Max wanted to die.  We still have to fight for Max’s life.  But he’s here.  And his name is Maxwell Loren.  He is named after his daddy, Richard Loren.  Max is our allergy kid.  #dairyfree #peanutfree #beeffree #nutfree #foodfree #airfree #bubbleboy 😉

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Prayers were said all around the world.

Lastly we have Josephine.  Josephine wanted to live—but she sure wanted to come early.  Thankfully, she waited.  She must have known Mommy was still tired from trying to keep Max alive.  Her name is Josephine Diane.

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These four beings are the GREATEST reasons why I love my husband MOST!

And the fact that he walks day in and day out of this journey with me as a mommy, toddler mommy, allergy mommy, life-surviving nicu/icu/ventilator/coma baby mommy, miscarriage suffering, bilingual raising, Jesus-loving mommy…

While feeding the homeless, providing education for children, medicine for the sick, and hope for the hopeless…

Yep…It’s why I thank him.

He doesn’t just #TurnItTeal … He #KeepsItReal !

I love you, Richie,

Your Brooke

By the way, you can find me on Facebook—I invite you to come and simply be my friend!  Click here for that 🙂

I also blog at And 2 Makes Crazy …Usually a fun read.  Or one that will make you cry.  But I try to keep it real.

And a huge thanks to #TurnItTeal and @PlayroomReport for this amazing Allergy Awareness Week!

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Food Allergy Fact: The Many Words That Mean MILK

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Today I am going to share with you some information about Milk Allergies.

Here are some facts taken from foodallergy.org :

  1.  Approximately 2.5 percent of children younger than three years of age are allergic to milk.
  2. Sensitivity to cow’s milk varies from person to person. Some people have a severe reaction after ingesting a tiny amount of milk. Others have only a mild reaction after ingesting a moderate amount of milk. Reactions to milk can be severe and life-threatening (read more about anaphylaxis).
  3. Individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk are often advised to also avoid milk from other domestic animals. For example, goat’s milk protein is similar to cow’s milk protein and may, therefore, cause a reaction in individuals who have a milk allergy.
  4. Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein, a milk protein.
  5. Studies have found that a very small percentage of children with milk allergy are also allergic to beef. Talk with your allergist to see if you should remove beef from your milk-allergic child’s diet.  (relation of meat and milk allergies)

Before we continue, this is how Maxwell Loren feels about all of his allergies 😉

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Changing it up a bit, we will now take a look at words that don’t say MILK but mean that they are STILL milk (or byproducts of it).

It makes it really difficult when looking through products if you don’t know these words—and it makes for severe pain or difficulty for your child if you MISS these words.

So, here goes!  And, yes, it is extremely overwhelming.  And a HUGE kudos to www.kidswithfoodallergies.org for compiling such detailed information for children and parents like my Maxie Moo and me/Richard (as the parents), as we need it desperately.

Click on this link for an AWESOME and very comprehensive but ONLY 2-page, easy to read, PDF on MILK ALLERGIES AND HIDDEN WORDS.

I’m on my way to printing it out for me as I type this as well.

MILK ALLERGIES AND HIDDEN WORDS

It will include words like:

Casein & caseinates,

Galactose

Ghee

Lactyc yeast

Recaldent

Rennet

Whey

Oh…and so much more!

Again—to get the entire PDF, click on the above link:  Milk Allergies and Hidden Words.  You will really appreciate the list and all of the time and effort people put into it.

I hope that this helps your allergy journey—if even a little!

God bless,

Brooke

P.S.  I know, I know…you are like me and want to hide from these things, but—since we can’t—let’s do this together as a TEAM—encouraging one another and sharing all of the information we can, so that we are better able to serve our children!

Speaking of hiding, here’s Max playing hide and seek with his precious sister, Josephine.  I found him!

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Raising a Nutty Kid…My child’s #TBT and Reaction story.

My son did not have a killer kiss.  It was, however, a HUGE wake-up that it could actually happen.  I have shared my son’s story before, and since today is #TBT Your child’s reaction and story, I thought I would just link it in here, so you have a chance to read.

As in every story, his is evolving…every day.  And, every day, I learn more about him, what makes him sick, how I fight every day for his life, and try not to panic about his future.

But I know that I am not alone.  So many of you out there are like me.  Fighting for your children’s safety, too.  I commend you!  Carry on, Mom and Dad warriors.  You rock!

Here’s my kid’s story.  And a great look at how Maxwell’s allergies have sure humbled this once very arrogant momma 😉

Raising a Nutty Kid—Maxwell’s Story!

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Our Favorite Allergen-free Alternative

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We’re back!  Today we are suppose to talk about our favorite allergen-free alternative.

But I would like to kill two birds with one stone and talk about tomorrow’s topic, too:  Hardships/realities of Food Allergies.

Now, this is a topic that I can get behind…

It’s hard enough having to make sure that my child does not consume anything with his allergens in them—but the COST of these allergy-free foods is CRAZY?

Am I right?  Can I have an Amen?!

I mean, seriously, folks.  My hubs is a pastor and we have a foundation for the homeless…for a living.  And because my kid has allergies I have to pay nearly $4 for his itty bitty box of milk?!

I am not sure I have a favorite allergen replacement because the cost of all of them STINK!

Plain and simple…STINK!

I guess the applesauce packs.  They aren’t too costly.

Or the gummy candies—because he can eat them.

But that isn’t too healthy, now, is it.

Fresh fruit—yes!  But I am also a mom to three—2 of them in their toddler phase (although Max is now phasing out of that).   Which means I am lucky if I make it out of the house with shoes and shorts not pajamas and slippers.

And I live in a foreign country—in a VILLAGE! Which is serene and lovely.  But sometimes I just miss home soooooooooooo much!  I miss being close to family.  I miss the convenience of my home country.  I just do.  Such is life.

Back to the fruit (went off on a tangent)…

So, yes.  Fresh strawberries and raspberries and blueberries.

And bananas.

But what little kid likes apple skin?

Not mine…So the more affordable fruit I have to prepare.

And then there are grapes.

But a large portion of grapes in Poland have seeds.  So we go for the seedless grapes—which then are 3xs the cost.

Finally watermelon.  But it’s sticky and doesn’t travel well.

Well, there are dried raisins.  That’s true.  But then it’s not fresh, right?

Something that is not fruit:

Popcorn is cheap.  It sure is—but we all know popcorn is best when popped hot.

Perhaps sunflower seeds????

Any sunflower seed I have given him in Poland has caused extreme welting.  I am not sure if it is the seed itself or the processing plant.  Most of the language on the packaging is in Russian.

So then that leads to my paranoia about all seeds and processing—which leads me to only purchase Chia seeds.  I throw those in his smoothies.

Potato chips???  Well, those may be his favorite snack, but I am really trying to cut back on throwing those at him—since, you know, it’s not remotely healthy.  Addicting, yes.  Healthy?  Heavens no!

And finally pretzels.  But not the crackers with the letters because they have whey.  Nor the crackers with the animals because they have whey.  But the round pretzels, twisted pretzels, and the straight pretzels, he can eat.

Be careful if you eat sourdough pretzels in the States, however, they may also have dairy.  Fresh and hot pretzels, too.  UWAGA (which means—be careful/caution).

But, after a while, pretzels start to taste like cardboard when you consume too many.

And, do you ever notice, that pretzels and peanuts are always touching in the grocery aisle?  So I walk down the aisle nearly screaming—KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!  DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING!  THERE ARE LOTS OF OWIES HERE!!!!

And my poor 3-year-old panics and hugs my leg.  Okay.  Okay—he’s gotten past that.  But he walks dead in the center of the aisle and doesn’t touch a thing.

Tic tacs at the checkout and gum…Because most of the other grab food has milk chocolate, milk, or peanuts.  Yea for us 😉

But, really…we do have alternatives that we use with everything.  And, you mostly can’t tell the difference at all!

Oat milk…We use it in all recipes.

Soy yogurt…You can even make your own if you have a starter yogurt.

Coconut oil…It’s fantastic…and not too coconutty at times.

There was an amazing rice/coconut cheese that actually melted in hot cheese sandwich that we found in Germany.  Unfortunately, we haven’t found any in Poland.  But it is brilliant and out there.  It’s just hard for us to find.

Carob chocolate chips…No soy or milk.  Max seems to be able to tolerate these.  These are also harder to find.

Rice pudding.  It’s not a chalky-tasting as soy pudding.  You just have to make sure it is rice pudding with NO MILK.

Homemade chicken soup with egg noodles.  We have to be careful with store-bought broths and flavorings as many include beef, whey, or peanut oil.

I’ve blogged plenty about Cookie Butter.  It’s sweet—but it is also divine.  It can be made in cakes, on apples, on sandwiches, and so much more.  We love it.  My kids even eat it by the spoonful like we used to eat peanut butter.

And, if you missed it above, we love using chia seeds in smoothies.  The trick is to blend them plenty up, otherwise, it has the raspberry seed texture to it, and you will feel as if you need to pick at your teeth.  They help give your kid an extra bit of protein.  Heavens knows, our kids need all the extra help they can get.

Tortillas.  We make Max hot tortillas like we would make our daughters cheese crips.  We just make his with his “butter” or cinnamon and sugar like a special treat.

And, of course, chips and salsa!  Who can’t go to town on those?

We love waffles and crepes, and we make our own.  They also save well to be eaten on a second day, if you so desire.  And you can even warm your waffles in the toaster, if you so choose.

Here are our favorite recipes for waffles and crepes (I think I have shared the waffle one before, but it’s always good to see it again).

The most important thing to remember, is just switch out your allergy owies with the replacements that work for you:

Polish Crepes (Thin Naleśniki) Recipe

The Bestest Belgian Waffles

Here’s the cookie butter we tend to buy while in the States.  Holland has a different brand—but just as good.

This cookie butter, however, is fantastic because it comes in CRUNCHY or SMOOTH.  Just like peanut butter!!!!

Speculoos Cookie Butter

My 2-year-old has no allergies.  But because her brother (a year older) does, I have raised the two of them nearly exactly the same with food items.  My littlest didn’t even have a drop of real ice cream until we were recently at a friend’s house for lunch.  I tried to give her the sorbet her brother was eating, but her big sister (10 years old) was eating real ice cream—and she had a bite.  My youngest (the two year old allergy free kid) has not wanted a single bite of sorbet since.

It’s made it a bit more difficult for me now.  She knows she likes whipped cream.  He watches with big eyes.

They share the same cereal milk (oat milk)…

But when I have a big frothy coffee, she can eat some of the froth—where he cannot.

There is a lot that is not fair in the life of an allergy child—but I had to realize that just because Max has allergies, doesn’t mean Josephine has to live as if she does.  And, although I try my best to make them the same foods, there are times when she does get an extra bite here or there.  And so I always try to have a little something extra for Maxie on hand.  Such as Oreo cookies.  Or gummy candies.  And he doesn’t even have to share.

If you have great dairy and nut free allergy favorites, I would LOVE to hear about them!

And, believe me, if you have frustrations.  You are not alone.  I hear you.  I understand you.

Here’s to us raising our Allergy Kids!

 

 

Dear Maxwell, My apology letter to you…

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I am suppose to talk about my allergy kid today.

But what is there really to say?

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I am not sending you to preschool in Poland because I don’t trust your life in the hands of the school. I don’t trust that they won’t remember that nuts means Nutella and walnuts and that no dairy means you also can’t eat butter or sour cream. And that beef makes you vomit.

I’m sorry that you may have to sit at your own table at the elementary school you may attend in the United States, waving to your classmates that are positioned tables away.

I’m sorry because you may have children chase you with peanut butter to see if you really are allergic.

I’m sorry that you can’t just go to certain burger joints and order fries since they are also fried in peanut oil.

I am sorry that you will basically have to avoid steakhouses that serve nuts…

I am sorry that you will have to fly with trepidation because the airline staff would rather kick you off than inconvenience someone that would like to eat peanuts inflight.

I am sorry that you can’t just eat gelato in Italy…

I am sorry that you will probably have to avoid nearly all Chinese restaurants because the menu is loaded with lots and lots of owie foods.

I am sorry that dating will be hard.

I am sorry now that I will drive you insane when you begin to date. I will INSIST you emphasize to any girl you want to kiss that THEY CANNOT eat peanuts and kiss. It can turn into kiss and death. I will embarrass you one day with this — but I will do it. Because I want you to live.

I am sorry that you will probably not go to a professional baseball game in comfort—or even at all.

I am sorry that you can’t even just grab a Sunday donut.

I am sorry that on boys’ nights—you will have to probably pack your own stash of food or censor restaurant joints of choice.

I am sorry that you won’t just be able to eat a sandwich at Subway without first reading the ingredients in the meats and breads.

I am sorry that I have already made you a paranoid young man.
But there is one thing, without a doubt, that I am not sorry about…

You.

You are perfect.

Perfectly made.

Perfectly grown.

And perfectly my son.

What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.

Well, my Maxwell, I am sure this will definitely make you stronger.

Perhaps a professional chef is in the works…One that learns to make divine cuisine because he always wanted something more to eat!
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Remember, My Maxwell, there are many reasons I am sorry—but, as one remarkable young man shows the world, nothing is impossible!

Live your life!

Live your dreams!

And soar!

Click here to see a phenomenal video of one young Polish artist without limbs and limits:  Artist Mariusz Kedzierski
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Turn it Teal and Sarah Jessica Parker

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Today is Turn it Teal and Allergy Awareness!

My friends, I live in a country that eats a LOT of nuts and uses dairy for everything.  It is virtually impossible to even take my son to a restaurant to eat.

At one restaurant recently, every single thing on the menu had either nuts or dairy in it.

SERIOUSLY.

Except the salad—and what 3 year old runs around eating a salad???  Not mine.  And, truthfully, nearly every salad had nuts.

So what did I do?  I asked for a fresh bowl of fruit so that he could eat at the table with the rest of us (No, I was not prepared with a full meal.  Sorry, folks.  Real mom sometimes = unprepared).

It was a bit of a fight, but eventually the waiter said he could bring a bowl of fresh fruit for my son.

When he brought it, you would NEVER believe what he brought.

JAM.

Strawberry jam.

Raspberry jam.

Blueberry jam.

And then bananas that the chef smashed up into a puree.

My son took one look at the bowl of jam and played with it.  But did not eat it.

Listen, I know it’s my fault for being ill-prepared at a restaurant.  But, to be fair, I did not expect to see a menu without a SINGLE item outside of salad on it for my allergy kid.  And I thought asking for fresh fruit could tide him over until we had to go.

Except the fresh fruit was jam.

And jam is not something most of us will eat by the spoonful.

I understand that I am the one that lives in a country that eats nuts (especially walnuts) on everything and uses milk or butter in nearly everything, but I also know that my son lives here, and I know that I am not the only mom in Poland with a kid that has these allergies.

Poland is GREAT at labeling their items.  Better than other countries that I have seen.  So, I am so grateful for that when I go to grocery stores for shopping.

But, public outings are still so hard with my kid.

And, so, Poland, I ask that as this week approaches—the Turn it Teal and Allergy Awareness Week, that we all understand that allergies aren’t just a nuisance—they are life or death issues.

My son has them.

And he is not alone.

Here are some videos and articles and information that I am VERY happy is out there…and I am VERY happy a public face is behind one of them, Sarah Jessica Parker, whose son has a peanut/nut allergy…

It’s when faces are seen and voices are heard that our struggle becomes more widely recognized and real to the many out there that don’t have to fear, day in and out, for their loved ones’ lives.

So, I hope you have a couple clicks and watch as we begin to address the world with our Allergy Awareness Voice!

My son’s very life depends on it.

xo b

Turn it Teal!

Sarah Jessica Parker on “The View” (her son has peanut/nut allergies and had an anaphylactic episode—that’s how they found out)

Anaphylaxis for Reel