DIY Spray Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint

DIY Spray Painted Console TableA little paint and elbow grease is an inexpensive way to change something that doesn’t fit with the decor of your home and seems dated into something that looks like it was MADE for your house.

Last week I posted on how to strip polyurethane coating off of a console table. The poly coat was THICK, but came off fairly easily, and the table was stripped, sanded, cleaned and was ready for paint.

Since I made an effort to strip this table and make it smooth for paint, I chose to use spray paint, so it will have a smooth, look. free of brush strokes. This post describes the steps taken to paint the console table.

The spray paint was $3.50 per can, and I used 3. New hardware was $10 for the three drawers.

1. Preparation

Furniture Stripping and Preparation to Paint

Table, stripped, ready for paint

Strip the table and prepare to paint. For tips, refer to DIY Painted Console Table: How to Strip Furniture and Prep for Paint

Ensure the table is clean and free of any dust, or loose particles

Locate a well-ventilated space, free of wind (so your spray paint isn’t carried away by the wind instead of falling on your furniture)

Always use a mask when working with spray paint

2. Real the Paint Label

2x Coverage Spray Paint in Satin Granite

2x Coverage Spray Paint in Satin Granite

I know this seems like a silly step, but reading the label is a MUST

All spray paints are NOT created equal. Even if you’ve done this before, you need to know the specifics of the paint you will use

For example, my paint should be applied when temperatures are below 90F and humidity is below 65%.

Additional coats should be applied within 1 hour, or after 48 hours.

Paint is dry to touch after 1 hour.

3. Test the Paint

Test the Spray Paint

Test the Spray Paint

Shake the can. Not just a little. A LOT. The can says to shake for one minute. That is a MINIMUM.

Noisy? Yes. But ensures the paint will work at its best

Test your spray paint to make sure the sprayer works as expected, and that the color is right

I used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray paint, in Satin Granite. It contains both paint and primer. I chose a satin finish because I didn’t want it to be too shiny, but want to be able to wipe it off if needed (small children).

I did my test spray on the bottom of one of the drawers. Once satisfied it sprayed well and I liked the color, I was ready to paint!

4. Apply Paint to Legs, Drawers and Smaller Surfaces

Apply the first coat with even strokes

Table after the first coat

Second Coat

Second Coat

Touch up any areas that aren't coated once turning upright

Touch up any areas that aren’t coated once turning upright

Turn the table upside down on a tarp or other protective surface (You may want to use a towel or something to pad and keep it from scratching)

If time has passed from the test spray, shake the can again, for at least one MINUTE

To spray paint:

  • Hold the can upright 10-16 inches from the surface, and spray using horizontal strokes
  • Start spraying before the furniture
  • Continue spraying and pass at a steady speed over the furniture
  • Continue spraying until just past the furniture and release
  • Shake the can, and repeat, slightly overlapping the previous pass of paint, until the surface is coated

After two coats, allow to dry before turning the furniture upright

Once upright, touch-up any areas that are not painted due to the angle of spray

If you don’t go PAST the surface, pools of paint will form. I learned this the hard way, with pools where I changed directions OVER the table (see photo of 1st coat). I had to do 2 more coats after 48 hours to even things out. Doing it the right way up front will likely reduce the number of coats required.

My table has curved legs and feet, which made it easier to apply paint with the table upside down. You could do it upright if desired. Turning it upside down also protected the top while I painted the rest.  After the legs had dried (1 hour after last coat), the table was turned over and wiped down before continuing.

5. Apply Paint to Top

On a large, smooth surface, the importance of spraying before and past your surface is magnified. Follow the steps in the image below:

How to apply spray paint

How to apply spray paint

Table top after 1 coat of paint

Table top after first coat of paint

Remember to shake the paint can for a minute before beginning and often between sprays

RESIST the urge to do one thick coat. If you spray it too thick, the paint will bubble and you’ll have to sand it down and begin again

If applying more than 2 coats, wait at least 48 hours (Or if you make an error and need to add two more layers like I did)

Fully painted, 4 coat os paint, before hardware

Fully painted, 4 coats of paint, before hardware

Repeat steps to reapply paint as needed

You can see in this First Coat image how I ended up with pools of paint because I tried to paint half of the top of the table at a time. Don’t do that! Lesson learned. I ended up letting the table dry for 48 hours before painting as described above. Address the whole surface at once (if possible).

I used 4 coats of paint on the legs and table top by the time I was satisfied with the paint on my table.

6. Fully Dry and Reassemble

Finished Table with Hardware

Finished Table with Hardware

Verify that paint is no longer tacky before reassembling

Reassemble the furniture

Use a screw driver to affix drawer pulls or hardware

Due to humidity, the paint was tacky 48 hours after the final coat.  I waited 72 hours before re-assembling.

I ordered black drawer pulls that fit the holes that were already drilled (2.5 inch spread).

7. Determine if Ready to Clear Coat

I am still considering distressing the table, so will not apply clear coat quite yet

Once I decide, I’ll either post an update about the clear coat, or the distressing process

Overall, we like the color we chose and find the satin finish to have just a little shine, but not too much. After 4 coats of paint, the color is even, solid and the table looks clean and updated. It goes well with our house and looks nice in our entry way.

Since I’ve learned a few lessons, I am now ready to tackle the bar stools in my kitchen, hopefully with fewer coats of paint.

Before and After

DIY Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint

Happy Painting!

nifty thrifty sundayThis post was shared on Nifty Thrifty Sunday link party!

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Don’t Let Your TO DO List Steal Your JOY This Week

One morning last week, I got up early to water our new sod before the daily MN gale force winds began – which blow water away, watering the everything EXCEPT our grass.

Waking to the promise of being sprayed in the face by a sprinkler is not my favorite. I may be sprinkler-challenged.

Wet and disgruntled, I came back inside. I began surveying the mess of toys and clutter and started to make a mental list if tasks.

My TO DO list made, my outlook was dreary. Bleh.

At 7, I heard our daughter calling yelling ‘Mama’. I opened the door, turning on the light in her blacked out room. Blinded, she still greeted me with one BIG, squinty, drooly smile. She is that way, every morning. Without fail.

Giggling as she told me a gibberish story, she grabbed her teddy bear and reached for me to pick her up. I quickly changed her diaper and set her free.

Her immediate response was to run, full speed, belly sticking out, head back and squealing with delight – straight through her older brother’s door.

Her greeting  was hysterical. Cracking up and yelling, she climbed in bed with him. They immediately went about finding something to play. Many giggles and shrieks ensued. Later, when tired or hungry, their play may require a referee – but not in the morning.

In the morning, there is simply JOY.

And, EVERY morning, they are just like this.

Everything is new. They get absurdly excited to eat breakfast. Trucks, Legos, babies, crayons and more are rediscovered, one by one. Our son always wants to know what we’ll do, where we’ll be and who else will be there. Even if just running errands, he is excited to go on an adventure (plus, errands promise snacks).

To them, morning makes everything new.

Thankfully, their joy is infectious. Just the anticipation of their laughter changes my outlook. I am privledged to see their sweet faces each morning unlike my husband who is working by the time they wake. 

As adults, and even teenagers, we lose this sense of wonder with the world and with what each day will hold. Our responsibilities and obligations weigh on us. We wake with a TO DO list playing in our head. Our joy is quickly given over to dread.

Lately, in my time with the Lord, I have been struck by my LACK of morning, and sometimes daily, joy.

I am so often joyful for their faces, but not of my own accord.

Why do they have this joy? Perhaps because they know their needs are provided for – they know they will eat, drink, play and be taken care of. This confidence leaves them free to stop and experience wonder, curiosity, and to just BE.

They aren’t already playing their entire day in their head the moment they wake. They aren’t worrying about what needs to be accomplished.

Adults are responsible to work to provide for our family’s needs, but we forget that our skills, capabilities and much more are GIVEN to us by the one and only Living God.

HE provides for US. EVERYTHING we already have, EVERYTHING we need.

Perhaps if I spend my first moments thanking God for the opportunity to DO all things WELL today, for HIS GLORY, I might see that TO DO list with a little more hope, and a whole lot more JOY. When I spend more time trusting in His provision and doing my best work, I am free to be present, thankful, and JOY-filled, even if it doesn’t look like a giggling, toddler.

I am not saying TO DO lists don’t need to be made. You know that song by the Go-Go’s, “I am the girl of a 100 lists”? That’s me. BUT, I am often guilty of making those lists before I practice being grateful.

 Of this I am certain, that TO DO list doesn’t need to be the first thing I do before getting out of bed.

Before my feet hit the floor today, I focused on gratitude for HIS provision and for HIS mercy. Instead of immediately jumping to pick up the house, I glanced at the mess, and CHOSE to start the day on my knees with the Lord instead of with a TO DO list.

An attitude changing choice – A DAY changer.

This day began with gratitude. That gratitude released an internal, God-given JOY.

Today I greeted our children with my OWN joy.

I’m grateful their carefree and childlike joy is a reminder to approach each day as they do. It is my goal to do so more often.

Take your que from this little sweetie. Set your TO DO list aside.  Just for a moment. Start your days this week with JOY.

Morning Joy

Morning Joy

 Take a deep breath and feel the JOY that follows the experience of true gratitude. Trust me, it’s a great way to begin your day.

Happy Monday!

DIY Painted Console Table: How to Strip Furniture and Prep for Paint

How to strip furnitureYears ago, we were given an older console table. At first, I wanted to replace the worn out hardware because the color matched our old house. But, due to age, the table had faded around the hardware, making it making it almost impossible replace without a visible shadow of the old. We recently moved, and the color no loner matches our house, so I decided it was time to paint it.

The table is obviously coated with a thick layer of polyurethane. Although I like the idea of chalk paint, I am going to spray paint this one. That said, step one is to strip it, then sand and clean to prepare for paint.

This post describes the steps to remove the polyurethane and prep the table to be painted.

Materials:

  • CitriStrip Safer Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel
  • Old paint brush
  • 2″ Plastic Stripping Tool
  • Drop cloth, tarp or protective surface
  • Mason Jar with lid
  • Chemical Resistant Gloves
  • Protective Mask and Glasses
  • Well Ventilated Space
  • Mineral Spirits and old rag
  • Abrasive Stripping Pad
  • Metal waste container
  • Sandpaper (100 grit)

 Steps Used:

 Step 1: Prepare to Use the Stripper

Old table to strip

Old table to strip

Remove Hardware

Remove Hardware

Since I was planning to do this project in my garage, I decided it wise to go with an environmentally friendly, low odor product for the stripper.  I chose CitriStrip Safer Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel.

Per the manufacturer, find an old metal paint can or equivalent to use as a waste container for the stripper.

The lid of the CitriStrip is not wide enough for a paint brush, so identify a container to transfer it to. I used a small glass mason jar with lid.

Be sure you have a protective mask and chemical resistant gloves on hand.

Remove drawers and hardware so you can apply stripper to all sealed surfaces.

Use an old rag to wipe down the table and remove any debris and ensure it is clean so the stripper can do its job.

Place the furniture on a tarp or drop cloth in a well ventilated area. I used an old tarp, and applied the stripper in my driveway (Note: I moved the table into the garage out of the sun after applying stripper).

Step 2: Apply to a Test Area

Supplies

CitriStrip and Mason Jar

Apply in thick layer

Apply in thick layer

Stripper applied to test area

Stripper applied to test area

Before applying to a large surface, find a small area to test, just in case!

I chose the back section of the table for my test area, since it will back up to a wall in the house. Other great areas would be the underside of the table (if sealed), or the back top of a table leg.

Open the CitriStrip container and remove the seal. Discard in the metal waste container.

Pour a small amount of stripper into a glass mason jar (just enough to cover your test area about 1/8″ thick)

Use the paint brush to apply the stripper to the test surface in a fairly thick, even layer (but should not be dripping).

The manufacturer recommends you apply the stripper in as few brush strokes as possible because it will stay wet longer if not overworked.

I picked up as much stripper on the brush as possible and then just pulled it in one direction across the table. If you end up with too much, you can always take it off with the brush and put it back in the jar. My paint brush was pretty soft, but it was still hard to apply the stripper very thick. The older, softer the brush, the better.

 Step 3: Scrape the Test Area

Stripping tool

Stripping tool

Appearance after 2 hours

Appearance after 2 hours

Scraping after 10 hours. All layers of poly removed

Scraping after 10 hours. All layers of poly removed

Wait for 1-24 hours.

As a general rule, the longer the wait, the easier it will be to scrape, even if the stripper dries.

Use a plastic stripping tool to scrape a small portion of the test area. If the majority of the paint or varnish is not removed, wait longer. If it comes off easily, continue to scrape the entire test surface.

You may still have to put some elbow grease into the process to remove the coating, but you don’t want to have to push hard enough to damage the wood.

The finish on my table was bubbly and starting to pull back after 2 hours so I scraped a small area with a 2″ plastic stripping tool. While some of the finish came off easily after 2 hours, it appeared that only the top layers of polyurethane were free, so I re-applied stripper to the section and waited 8 more hours (I chose 8 hours simply because that is when my kids were in bed and I could get back to working on the table).

IF you get to this point and there is visible polyurethane in LARGE patches, reapply stripper to those areas. IF the patches are small, you can remove them when you sand the surface later.

 

Step 4: Apply to Furniture, Wait, and Strip

Apply stripper to the rest of the furniture

Apply stripper in a thick layer on the remainder of the furniture

Surface after 24 hours is easy to scrape

After 24 hours, the surface was easy to scrape

Reapply stripper to large areas as needed

Reapply stripper to large areas as needed

If the test area is a success, apply stripper to the reminder of the furniture.

If the piece is large, you may want to work in sections, based on the amount of time you have to work on the project each day.

Wait until the surface is visibly flaky or bubbly before scraping (I waited 24 hours). There may be variations in the thickness of the coating on the furniture, so you want to be sure it all comes off when you start working on it.

Use a plastic scraping tool to remove stripper and coating.

Determine if additional stripper needs to be applied to LARGE patches, plan to sand down small patches.

I applied the stripper in a thicker coat since I was  confident the stripper would not damage the table after seeing my test section. As shown, after 24 hours the surface was flaky and the majority of the coating came off with hardly any effort. 

When finished scraping, there were a few larger patches of poly remaining on the legs and top rim of the table. I re-applied stripper to those areas and waited 12 hours. After 12 hours, only some small flecks of poly on the flat surfaces and some pesky spots in the crevices of the rim of the table remained.

 

Step 5: Sand and Clean

Sand down remaining areas that require stripping

Sand down remaining areas that require stripping

Use 100 grit sand paper to remove any remaining poly coating from the crevices and surfaces. Turn the furniture over or on its back to reach any difficult areas and apply appropriate pressure.

Be sure to sand only in the direction of the wood grain to prevent adding unwanted texture to your surface that you’ll have to remove later.

100 grit sand paper removes flecks easily and the process went much quicker than I had anticipated.

Use mineral spirits to clean all surfaces

Use mineral spirits to clean all surfaces

Fully Stripped Table, ready to paint

Fully Stripped Table, ready to paint

Following sanding, wipe down all surfaces with a dry rag to remove any dust or loose material from the surface.

After sanding and stripping, there was some dried stripper reside on the wood (looked light orange/white). This needs to be removed before painting or the paint will not stick.

Use Mineral Spirits to clean the entire surface, scrubbing any visible areas to remove stripper residue.

I use an old, soft T-shirt to apply and scrub the table.

Allow the surface to dry fully and confirm that all stripper has been removed.

Once the surface is clean, you are ready to paint!

 Step 6: Dispose of Waste Properly

Allow all materials that have come into contact with the Stripping Gel to dry fully before disposal.

According to the manufacturer, you may need to check with your state on how to properly dispose of used stripper. “Many windows and doors are finished in old paint compounds that may contain hazardous materials. Make sure you dispose of old stripper and finish in a metal container, and keep this in a well ventilated area. Check your federal, state and local guidelines for proper disposal.”

I swept all stripper flakes from my tarp and put them in the metal waste can and sealed it when everything was bone dry. I am waiting to hear from the county hazardous materials group but assume I need to take it to a hazardous material drop location to dispose of it.

 

Check out the completed spray painted table here!

When Your Child is Bullied…Emotions Run Wild

I am proud of my son. We recently went to a park with friends where a child smaller than him decided that every time he touched one of those big metal, lever-operated sand diggers, that she was going to pry his little fingers off of it.

She wasn’t using it beforehand, waiting in line, or giving any indication that she might want to use it. But, apparently she did want to use it when she saw HIM using it. And that desire was great enough to approach a much older, taller child and take a turn. By force.

The first time, I didn’t see it. He was waiting in line to use the digger with a few other children. There were several other parents nearby and everything appeared calm. I turned to help my daughter with something. Suddenly he was by my side in tears, saying he wanted to use the digger.

Since I didn’t understand what had happened, I thought he was just being impatient. I walked over there with him and told him I’d wait with him. I took a seat on the cement ledge and waited as he stood in line. Soon enough, his turn came and the smile broke through. He moved the digger into the sand and scooped once, before a tiny blond girl came over and started pulling on his arm.

He looked at her, eyes wide, continued trying to dig, and as she continued pulling on any body part she could reach. Finally, he looked to me for help.

I asked her to stop touching his body, and to wait her turn, and that he would be done very soon. She looked directly at me, briefly appeared surprised that I spoke to her, and then proceeded to pull backwards his pinky finger with her whole body straining as she yanked. HARD.

Wincing, he shook his hand free, and tried to return it to the handle, only to find her victorious hand already there. She was now using her entire tiny body to shove him out of her way.

Despite her small stature and age, her methods were BIG.

At this point, since no parent around me intervened, I asked my son to come sit by me until she was finished. His eyes widened in confusion and filled with tears.

He knew it was his turn. He knew this wasn’t fair.

As he waited in my lap with hurt feelings and tears streaming, I told him I was sorry for what happened and he could have another turn when she was done. I asked my son if that had happened before, he nodded and said she took his turn earlier. I apologized to him and told him I didn’t know that had happened.

At some point, something I said to my son made another nearby parent realize the little girl wasn’t MY child. She said since I had intervened, she figured the girl was mine and it was a sibling argument. I told her I was hesitant to ask her to stop with my son because I wasn’t sure whose child she was, but wasn’t OK with her hurting his hands. The parent said the little girls behavior had spanned over many children and had been going on for some time.

Soon after the girl finished with the digger, she wandered into the sandbox and took the toy of the child whose parent I was talking to. The boy was younger than her, and promptly hit her in the back of the head as she took off with his shovel. He was met with a time out. Again, I saw that same confused, sad expression, as this child’s eyes, too, filled with tears. Despite the hit, she seemed unscathed.

It is hard to stomach watching a child realize that life IS NOT FAIR. That even if they are required to follow rules to treat others kindly, others may not follow those same rules.

Sigh. These lessons are painful for the child, and for the parent to watch. Even at 2 and 3, life just is not fair.

While my son’s big tears broke my heart, his response to her almost made my heart burst with PRIDE.

He was kind to her. Gentle. He never even pushed her hand away or touched her prying hands that were surely hurting his. All his motions were to get away, not to lash out. When he didn’t know what to do, he didn’t improvise and try her methods, he looked to me to intervene.

Despite handling it in a way I was proud of, these interactions had a profound effect on him. He never quite recovered while we were at the park. Later, he was easily upset, and visibly distressed when the same little girl came near, and when she took some sand toys from him and other children. He was always aware of her presence, and his body language was not afraid of, but surely wary of her. Still, he did not lash out.

As a parent, watching all of this was frustrating. How can one little person cause so much turmoil?

I was angry at her invisible parent or caregiver whose lack of supervision and correction was affecting HER as well as many other children. It would be one thing if it happened once and they had missed it, but instead, it was as if everywhere this child went, tears followed.

At no point did an accompanying parent or older sibling speak to her about her behavior, and it left my son rattled and in tears, several times.

I had trouble not being frustrated at the child, but let’s be honest, she was a 2-year-old, and although her behavior was certainly not OK, it was still that of a 2-year-old. I don’t think this child was simply being defiant or a bully. She was too small to really understand how getting her own way at another person’s expense is wrong.

This behavior is LEARNED, and then NOT CORRECTED. 

I think her surprise at my correction indicated a complete lack of correction in her life. She may not have known better. Considering this, I worry for her future, and am saddened by the disregard for discipline that will help her long-term. The neglect of her parent means she will either learn she can get away with this behavior, or she will learn the HARD way, as other children lash out at her and stop them on their own.

I cannot imagine the feelings I will have when the bullying is meaner, from older kids, and intentional. I can only guess those feelings will be amplified and powerful.

I never want to experience what comes if I ever find out MY child was treating others in this manner, or worse.

If my son is near someone who ends up in tears, I ask what happened. I don’t assume it was his fault, but if something happened that involved him, I want to make sure he either apologizes, or at a minimum tells the other person he hopes they feel better.

In essence, to be kind. Have empathy. Be aware of others feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, my son is not perfectly behaved, and wasn’t that day at the park either. I watched him try to ‘swap’ with another boy; when he wanted a truck the boy had, he TOOK the truck and gave the boy something else that the child obviously didn’t want. As a result, we asked him to return the boy’s toy and apologize. When we were done playing, he thanked the kids and parents in the sandpit for sharing their toys with him.

I’m sure these lessons were confusing to his young mind. First of all, we’ve rarely encountered other children who when spoken to by ANY adult, do not stop their behavior. He knows that he is supposed to listen to all adults. Second, he knows that he would not be able to continue playing until he has time out and apologizes. And third, he has sadly now learned that even if someone else doesn’t follow those same rules (over and over), he still has to.

I’ve been teaching my son the following bible verse, to help with sibling squabbles:

Be kind to one another, be tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

(we have explained tender-hearted as gentle, and caring for the feelings of others)

On the way home we talked about how he felt at the park, and how we never want to make anyone else feel that way. Despite his confusion, I could see the understanding and empathy for others’ feelings. That night, when he brought it up again, we talked about the verse and how God says it is important to forgive others and to be kind to everyone.

I wish I could have had the same conversations with that little girl. I know she could have the same empathy if SHOWN and INSTRUCTED.

Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:32

DO These 10 Things When Your Child is Diagnosed With A Food Allergy

We discovered our son’s peanut and cashew allergies at 15 months through allergy testing. He was tested for allergies because after we switched him to dairy at a year, he became ill, and lost weight. We switched to rice milk and were sent to a nutritionist. Along with increasing intake of beans, lentils and meats, the nutritionist recommended trying nuts as a healthy fat and protein source.

Since we were already doing allergy testing for dairy and soy, we decided to also test for nuts. When the testing came back with no measurable dairy or soy allergy, and instead an allergy to cashews and peanuts, I was shocked. He had never eaten either of those foods.

After a year of struggling with severe infant reflux, we had some  indication that certain foods might be a problem. I was prepared to find a food allergy that causes stomach upset, nasal congestion, or skin eczema, but I was NOT prepared to find a potentially life-threatening, anaphylaxis inducing allergy.

It is by the grace and mercy of a loving God that we learned of his allergy through testing instead of a trip to the ER. Words cannot express my gratitude.

With the diagnosis came a prescription for an Epi-Pen. We were instructed that a nut-free home was a ‘good idea’. We were directed to a few websites for ‘tips’ and told to follow-up with an allergist for skin testing when our son turned 3. The pharmacist showed me how to use the Epi-Pen and recommended doing training with all family and caregivers.

Apparently after some web research and Epi-Pen training, we were equipped to keep our son safe.

It was like as long as we had an Epi-Pen, we’d all be OK…

But I didn’t feel equipped.

Truth is, if your child has a potentially life-threatening food allergy, there is a lot you need to know because you NEVER want to use that Epi-Pen! 

After doing some research on our own and conversations with doctors and nurses, we got our feet underneath us. From those efforts, here are some tips for parents who have a child diagnosed with a food allergy.

DO These 10 Things When Your Child is Diagnosed With A Food Allergy

1. Choose your sources carefully

DO not do a random google search for ‘peanut allergy’. While some helpful information will come up, there are countless stories of extreme reactions that will scare you out of your boots. A little fear is healthy, but you do not need to read every food allergy horror story out there. When looking online, choose reputable associations and websites known to have accurate medical information.

The Food Allergy Research & Education (formerly FAAN) has helpful information for parents, schools, and kids, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has similar information, as well as journal articles on current scientific research. Your state may also have an association dedicated to food allergies; here is the link to the MN Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of MN (AFAA) Facebook page .  Some blogs may give you a more personal view of other’s experiences, but you may have to be selective. Here is a list of 16 great food allergy blogs, I’m a fan of The Nut-Free Mom.

2. Request a consult with an Allergist

We waited (in error) to go to the allergist until my son was 3 based on the pediatrician’s recommendations. If diagnosed in the pediatrician’s office, don’t wait to see the allergist. The wealth of information the allergist provided was worth whatever copay is required. Most insurance plans cover the appointment and we didn’t even need a referral to go to ours. Allergists are experts in their field, and can give you a realistic and full picture of your child’s specific allergies.

3. Do Epi-Pen training with family and caregivers

After our son was diagnosed, we trained our entire family how to use the Epi-Pen. Every prescription comes with a training pen, and it took just 15 minutes. It gave us the chance to explain what anaphylaxis looks like, and why it happens. We were able to clarify what nuts he was allergic to, and that even though allergic peanuts and cashews, we avoid ALL peanuts and tree nuts.  It brought greater awareness of the risks of foods for him. Now no one gives our son food before asking one of us, or reading a food label.  In writing this, I realize we are overdue for an Epi-Pen review session. Oh and don’t forget to register your Epi-Pens here and they will send you a free travel bag to carry them in.

4. Master food labels and teach family and caregivers 

Reading food labels on EVERYTHING is not natural to many. I have some food allergies myself, so I was accustomed to reading food labels, and my husband had some practice too. However, my food allergies make me feel sick and are not life threatening. I needed to be much more diligent to read the label before EVERY purchase. Some of our family had never dealt with food allergies of any kind. Reading food labels is not always easy for them, and I don’t expect them to do it perfectly. When in doubt, read the label together or pick something else. Never assume anything is safe if you didn’t read the label. My son’s grandparents, aunts and uncles have made his safety priority and when in doubt, they call me and read the label with me on the phone or in person, or ask me to bring something for him.

Don’t forget to read labels on ‘Safe’ foods, even if purchased before. We have unknowingly purchased potentially nut-contaminated foods by buying what we have before and wrongly assumed to be ‘safe’. Companies change manufacturers and bring on new products often, so it is possible for their ‘safe’ status to change depending on the other products being made using the same equipment. To be safe, just read everything, every time. There will always be food to eat, regardless of your allergy, but it may not always be the same stuff.

5. Tell people

While you don’t want a food allergy to define your child, a life threatening allergy should not be a taboo discussion. And actually, even an allergy causing fairly mild symptoms is worth mentioning, because you don’t want your child to feel sick when it is avoidable! If your child is going to spend time at someone else’s house or you are having people over, a quick heads up is important. Not only will your child be safer, and your mind be calmer, but you can save others from feeling bad because the food they brought or have on hand may not be safe for your child. It can be a brief mention, allowing you to offer to bring something, and for them to ask for tips on safe foods. With nuts, I tell people that fresh fruits and vegetables are the best bet; they are healthy and not processed on equipment with nuts. As your child gets older, they can take on this responsibility.

6. Clear your home of allergens

Let me be clear: choosing to eliminate an allergen from your home is a personal choice for every household. In our case, we made our home nut-free because we want our son to be able to eat everything we have on hand and never worry about getting sick in our home. We avoid all nuts and products processed on equipment with nuts. Don’t forget that some non-food items may contain a food allergen. Watch out for lotions and soaps which may contain things like oatmeal, nut oils, soy or other allergens.

7. Deal with your emotions

There were two main emotions I felt about my son’s food allergy. Sadness and fear.

It’s just food, right? I felt silly that I was devastated by our son’s allergy diagnosis. Yes, I love peanuts but that is not the problem. How will it feel to him when he understands he can NEVER eat any? I don’t want him to have ANY food allergy, let alone a life threatening one. I want him to be able to eat a peanut butter sandwich and not have to worry about reading a food label before he eats. I want him to be able to eat all birthday cake and not worry about whether he will be safe at a birthday party. I want him to be care-free about food, especially as a child. BUT, I NEVER want him to have a reaction even more.

The fear associated with a child’s food allergy is a very real, and powerful fear. It can be paralyzing. Initially, I dealt with this fear by controlling the situations and foods he encountered. Long term, this isn’t going to work. He will go to school, friend’s houses, and birthday parties WITHOUT me. The only way I can truly deal with the very real and present fear for his safety is through regular and focused prayer, and trust that the Lord will protect him. HE will, but that doesn’t mean it gets easier.

One thing that helped me sort through my emotions was this book. The writer is a mom who shares openly about her experience and emotions that surround her child’s severe allergies. There were helpful ideas for how to handle allergies and how to handle other children in the home who do NOT have those same allergies. It gave me some much-needed perspective.

8. Consider a Medical Alert bracelet

Whether the allergy is life-threatening or not, a medical alert bracelet can serve as a reminder to you, your child, and any caregiver. This may be helpful especially when your child is small and not able to make their own safe food decisions. IF (I pray it never does) a reaction occurred, a medical alert bracelet is a great way to notify medical personnel of the allergy if you were not present. I have been looking for a kid-friendly bracelet, and will be purchasing this one for my son, with the peanut and tree nut identifiers.

9. Educate your child

It is our job as parents to educate ourselves, caregivers and our children until they are able to advocate for themselves. When we found out, it was our job. When he turned 3, we started actively trying to help him understand that there are some foods that are not safe to eat (even though others eat them, and you can buy them at the store). When shopping, we walk by the bulk nuts and talk about what they are and why we don’t eat them. I ask him, “Do we eat nuts”, and he says “No”. Although he thinks it is a game, I know the awareness will help in the long run. Despite all our discussions, the most effective thing that helped him understand WHAT allergies are is a Sid the Science Kid (on PBS) episode about seasonal and food allergies. He watched it twice on DVR, and told me all about what an allergy was and how some people are allergic to things other than nuts. I’m not sure where to find the full episode online, but PBS does play reruns…

10. Let them be a kid

While awareness is important, I want him to be a kid. He will have a lifetime of vigilance since most do not outgrow nut allergies. By making our home nut-free, he can be relaxed at home.

I never want him to feel left out because of his allergy. When we go somewhere new, I always bring a variety of nut-free snacks or pack a lunch to be sure food isn’t an issue. Eating out, desserts are the biggest problem; we never order it because it is rare to find ANY that are safe. If we are with others who order dessert, no one in our family participates. If we are somewhere with other kids (birthday party, playdate) and they have a ‘treat’, I always have something small and sweet (lollipop, teddy graham, grapes) to give him, and try to plan ahead so if possible, I can bring something that looks similar.  

We have spent time finding good alternative products so he can have the same ‘kid’ food experiences non-allergic kids have. Find non-diary ice cream for dairy allergies, non-nut butters for nut allergies, and vegan products for egg allergies. Try local places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and even Target, and look online. Check out my recent post on three of my favorite nut-free options.

 

Do These 10 Things When Your Child is Diagnosed With A Food Allergy

 

If you’re new to this, I hope this post points you in the right direction! For us, now that we have educated ourselves, the biggest challenge is making the right people aware so that he is safe outside of our home. If you have other tips, I’d love to hear them!

A Salute to Working Moms

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com

I could write an entire post (or a book?) on the joys, stresses, and challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. But today, I am writing about working moms. Moms who manage a household, parent their children and love their family, all while effectively doing a full-time job out of the home.

Let me also pause here to note that having my husband travel 3+ days a week for much of this year has given me new perspective on single parents. Of you, I. AM. IN. AWE.

I worked full-time for 2.5 years after my son was born. I transitioned to staying home when my daughter was born, over a year ago. I’m glad I was able to experience both. A day on each ‘job’ may be different, but both job has value, meaning, and sincere EFFORT put into them by hard-working and amazing moms.

Regardless of their ‘day job’, women in BOTH roles LOVE their kids and are dedicated and beloved mothers and wives.

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Here are 5 Reasons I Admire Working Moms:

1. Punctuality

Getting my 2 kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, bags packed and in the car, ON TIME is not easy. If it has to be by 7:00 or 8:00 am, as many of you do for work, it is plain old HARD. How you get your children (and their STUFF) ready, then off to daycare or school, and ALSO get yourself ready and to work is an amazing feat.

2. Flexibility

You hear a noise at 5 am and find your child coughing and feverish. Your planned schedule or maybe that big meeting is blown to bits. When things don’t go as planned, working moms adapt. You MASTER scheduling. You quickly find alternate care and make every effort to meet obligations at home AND at work.  I know most moms do not have the LUXURY of working from home in a pinch like I did, so you selflessly use precious and well-earned vacation time to watch your kids.

3. Super Mom

Working a full day, and doing the job WELL takes a lot out of you. THEN, working moms quickly transition during what I consider to be the most chaotic period of the day. The kids are hungry, getting tired, have homework, and can be cranky. They are full of energy and stories of their day. A moment of quiet is not going to happen, and the parent is both cook and referee.  You worked all day, but you willingly help with their homework, spend quality time together, and have time to make it to their sporting events. You know that quality parenting isn’t about the number of hours spent together, but rather HOW those hours are spent. You are a blessing to your kids, and being selfish with the time you have outside of work isn’t your style.

4. Keeping House

Building off of #3, you feed your family healthy meals despite having very little time to do so. You spend your evenings and weekends making sure laundry and grocery shopping get done. You clean your house, keep your lawn looking pristine, and you are an amazing wife, mom, friend, and MORE. So much to do, so little time. All that you accomplish defies the rules of time.

5. Sleep deprivation has nothing on you

My son hardly slept the for the first 15 months of his life. I was a walking zombie.  I was exhausted ALL the time and my job really required me to be on time and to focus. When my son fell asleep at 5 am, I had to GET UP and get ready. Going back to sleep was not an option. Staying home, we can sleep until we wake up. The opportunity for me to take a nap is not frequent, but it is a real POSSIBILITY. Working moms do not get naps. You give your job your full attention. You do sometimes highly complex and demanding jobs WELL, despite sporadic (or consistent) sleep deprivation.

Working moms, while these are 5 reasons I admire you, trust me, there are more. I hope this encourages you today.

A Salute To Working Moms | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Nut Allergy? Here are 3 Nut-Free Foods You Should Be Eating

If you or your child has a peanut or tree nut allergy, you may be like me. I’m always on the lookout for nut-alternative products. When our son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy, we made our home Nut-Free, but we MISS nuts!

Here are a few of my favorite nut-free foods. Please note: these are just reviews, with no affiliate-strings attached.

3 Nut-Free Foods You Should Be Eating

No-Nut Butter by The Sneaky Chef

No-Nut Butter by The Sneaky Chef

1. No-Nut Butter (by The Sneaky Chef)

Why? We have tried several kinds of nut-alternative butters. Of soy, sunflower and golden pea, the golden pea is the closest to peanut butter, in taste and texture. No-Nut Butter is Peanut and Tree Nut-Free (also Soy, Dairy, and Gluten free).

Use it for: Anything you’d use peanut butter for! Sandwiches, toast and ants on a log…and can  be used for baking (see recipes on The Sneaky Chef website). I will be testing this out in cookies very soon.

Where to buy: Other than online, I’ve never seen this type of butter in stores until this week when I saw it at Target (Yeah, Target!). You can order online from The Sneaky Chef, or use their store locator tool on The Sneaky Chef Facebook page to find who carries it.

Dry Roasted Chickpeas (by Chic Naturals)

Dry Roasted Chickpeas (by Chic Naturals)

 

2. Dry Roasted Chickpeas (by Chic Naturals)

Why? Want a crunchy, nut-like snack? Dry roasted chickpeas are a great option. Problem is, many found in stores are made on the same equipment used to roast nuts. The Hawaiian company, Chic Naturals, roasts only chickpeas so the facility is nut and gluten free.

Use it for: They have been chopped for salad toppings, eaten plain or seasoned (spritz with a little olive oil to get seasoning to stick), and can be used to make chickpea butter. I’ve made oven roasted chickpeas at home, and they are great if eaten right away, but since they aren’t dry roasted, they get soggy and aren’t very tasty anymore after about a day.

Where to buy: Online. Because you have to pay for shipping, we order several packages at once, and they’ve stayed fresh. We’ve only bought the plain ones, but they have flavored options as well.

YoYo-Donuts_mr

3. YoYo’s Donuts and Coffee Bar (in Minnetonka, MN)

Why? If you know me, you know I LOVE donuts and these are DELICIOUS. The entire store is peanut/tree nut free (do use coconut, which isn’t really a nut…), and has won numerous awards for their donuts. This means my son can go look through the glass and pick ANY donut out of the case. It may not seem like a big deal, but IT IS. There are very few bakeries where you can get anything nut-free. We generally avoid baked goods. AND YoYo’s is more than just a donut selling bakery. They serve excellent coffee, make their own delicious and NUT-FREE small batch ice cream (ice cream shops are also hazardous to the Nut-free), and serve Chicago style hot dogs and chili dogs. The place isn’t huge, but is not usually too crowded to sit down. They do kids birthday parties with donut towers, and are family friendly.  If you live close enough to go, I highly recommend it.

Where is it? Sadly, there is only ONE location. 5757 Sanibel Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343

What are your favorite Nut-Free products or places?