Category : Kids

Transitioning from School to Home: How to Make a Schedule that’s Right for YOU!

March 17, 2020

Hi friends, I’m Gretchen L., and I’ve been an online instructor for over ten years. Let me help guide you through this transition, so your students get the most out of their time over the coming weeks. My advice includes best practices I’ve learned over years of teaching and consulting. I want to help your child(ren) continue to make academic progress, as I help my own kids go through this transition.

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Who am I?

Hi friends, I’m Gretchen L., and I’ve been an online instructor for over ten years. Let me help guide you through this transition, so your students get the most out of their time over the coming weeks.

My advice includes best practices I’ve learned over years of teaching and consulting. I want to help your child(ren) continue to make academic progress, as I help my own kids go through this transition.

Here’s a quick look at my experience:

Today’s Tip! Make a Schedule!

OK, that seems simple enough, I’ll just cruise through Pinterest and grab one like the ones below, right?

Not so fast!

While the above schedules are great and all, please take a moment to create a schedule that will work in your own home. 

Making a schedule that works for your family is going to take a bit of time, but trust me, this is a FIRST STEP you’re NOT going to want to miss. The sooner you get your children used to a schedule, the better prepared to learn they will be.

  • Make sure you have the technology your kids will need to complete their meetings and online/offline tasks.
  • Make sure your kids are able to connect in real time with their teachers. You don’t want them to miss the opportunity to have some semblance of normalcy through this process.
  • Understand that you’re going to need to adjust your schedule; it’s not going to be perfect on the first round.
  • Don’t overload your kiddos; they are going through some major stuff too!
  • Let your kids have a say in the schedule. It will be easier to get some buy in, if they are the ones who came up with the idea!

So, there you have it. Now all you need to do is to write it down some where. You can get as fancy as you like for this part. I mean, if color coordination is your thing, go for it. Then post it in a space where the family can hold each other accountable. 🙂

Good luck with your transitions my friends. Please reach out in the comments below, if you have any questions! ~ Gretchen

A Mom’s Quick Guide to Prepping for Sickness

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my privacy policy for more information.  In addition, the medical information quoted in this post comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control. For more measured, reasonable, and up-to-date regarding best practices for the COVID-19 virus prevention, treatment, and containment, please visit the CDC website HERE. ~ Reminder, I am not a doctor.  Please contact 911 in the event of a medical emergency.

In a little over two months, an unknown virus became a daily conversation item in my home and my community.  With so much information coming at me from different directions, I found it necessary to sift through some of the sensationalism and come up with some common-sense steps for how my household would respond to the Coronavirus, now officially named, COVID-19.

Right after Valentine’s Day, my home was infected with Influenza A.  It. Was. Terrible.  My husband and I have both expressed that we’ve NEVER been so sick in our lives.  What’s more, there has never been a time when our entire house was sick at the same time.  It was a gross and an emotionally draining week.  As a mom, I want to give extra tender care to my kiddos (and my hubby) when they are feeling sick.  However, I was physical incapable of doing that while we were all sick.  I did the best I could, but I wished I had been more prepared for a week at home sick with the flu.

Due to this, my husband and I have already been chatting about the COVID-19 virus for a few extra weeks.  We could empathize with what the people in China and abroad were going through.  

In response to our conversations, we started to look to reputable sources for a plan of action should the virus make its way to our town.  Below is a quick guide to what we’ve learned.  

1. Get YOUR House Ready

First and foremost, according to the CDC’s current recommendations, here’s how household’s should be preparing for a local outbreak.

Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. (NOTE from post author: Gosh, I didn’t realize this has changed. I’ve been coughing into my sleeve up until I read this. However, with this method, we’re containing the germs AND then disposing of them. It should be noted that you are supposed to always wash your hands after you throw the tissue away.)

Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

The quote above was taken directly from the CDC’s web page devoted to Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):

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2. Must-Have Items for Prevention

I have created a couple of shopping lists based on my own experience with the flu a few weeks ago. If you see something you need, save it in your cart or screenshot this, so you don’t forget about it when you do your shopping…

  • An adequate supply of hand soap.
  • Hand sanitizer that you and your family members can have on hand at all times.
  • Boxes and mobile packs of tissues.
  • Disinfectant Spray, like Lysol
  • Laundry Disinfectant or Clorox Bleach (Did you know that your normal laundry detergent doesn’t actually disinfect your clothes? I didn’t. Thank Goodness that I figured this out!)

3. Keep These Items On-Hand in Case of a Local Outbreak

4. Other Thoughts That May Be Helpful

So, what happens when people around you start to get sick? As moms, we all know that every time we bring our little ones to the doctors, we potentially expose them to other disease. Think about that before you rush your coughing kiddos to the doctor right now. If you are capable of treating yourself and your family at home, then you minimize the risk of transmission to the rest of your community.

With that said, do you have the supplies and the room you will need in order to keep yourself or a member of your family quarantined from the rest of your lot? If not, now is the time to think about where you can safely keep someone in your home.

Obviously, if multiple members of your family get sick, keeping them quarantined to one room will become increasingly difficult. You may need to resolve to allowing the sickness to overtake your home. However, in this case, you will need to be more cautious with outsiders. When my husband and I had the flu, I put a note on the door and asked visitors to drop packages off in a basket outside. If you think people will try to visit you too, you might want to come up with a similar plan.

One last thing to consider is this. While most of us will probably get the COVID-19 virus, and we’ll recover just fine. However, we must be careful to keep our aging populations and those (any age) who have compromised immune systems safe. Do everyone a favor and please stay home if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms. We must remember that while this virus is going to slow many of us down for our loved ones with lung and heart diseases, cancers, and auto-immune challenges it might be devastating😢. So, let’s work together to keep our family and friends safe.

While it is a difficult to not go to work or school, we do live in a time when SO MUCH can be done remotely. Stay safe and stay home.

Of course, our hope is that no one will have to use any of this information. However, in the case that you do, it’s better to be over prepared, than under prepared. (Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.)

5. Stay Informed

Trust me, I understand that you are being inundated with information right now. I am too. Your friends are talking, your social media feeds are blowing up, the talking heads on the news keep chatting, and now you’re receiving text messages (and even PHONE CALLS!) about the coronavirus. Heck, even I’m sending you messages!?! It’s extremely difficult when it seems the whole world is telling you to be concerned. I get it. BUT, you are a mom; you’ve dealt with chaos before and you are going to be able to help lead your family through this too.

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When things start to get a little overwhelming, take a deep breath and take stock of YOUR current situation. (((The reason I wrote this article is that it is so easy to get carried away with the panic mentality and I don’t want that for any of you.))) So, as I was saying, when things get overwhelming take a deep breath and take stock of your current situation. Grrl, keep YOUR household going. Utilize all of those skills you’ve been developing over the years to protect your little ones. Take temperatures, ease fears, make soups, and give hugs. If it looks like your family’s got a bad flu, stay home and treat them. If anyone has a super-high fever and/or has trouble breathing, call a doctor or an emergency health line immediately for assistance. (Remember, I am not a doctor; I’m just here to give friendly advice. Any time your MOM-dar goes off, it may be time to get some professional health support.)

I recently shared this article on my social media pages, and you might find it helpful to measure exaclty when to “call the doctor.” You might want to check it out here -> Dr. Claire McCarthy, Coronavirus: “What parents should know and do”

Make sure to thoroughly read alerts issued by local governments and your school systems, because they may contain information that might help you in your time of need.

Finally, please remember that news stations are in the business of trying to get people to watch their channels. While I’m sure the stories are as accurate as they can be, they might also be trying to grab your attention. So far, I’ve found the BEST place to look for measured, reasonable, and up-to-date information regarding best practices for virus prevention, treatment, and containment is the CDC website. You can access the information HERE.

Good luck, my friends. If I missed any essentials or procedures that you’ve found helpful in your own communities, please mentions those things in the comments below.

5 Easy Ways To Stop Worrying Right Now!

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

Let’s face it being a mom is tough work. Not only do you have to physically accomplish so much (like somehow being in two places at the same time, while making lunches for tomorrow), but it is also mentally draining. In addition to managing one’s professional obligations, to nurturing one’s romantic interests, and to maintaining friendships, we moms also need to do so much more.

In the midst of frantic worry, I sometimes stop to listen to the thoughts going on in my head. Like, “When are the library books due? Where are the library books? When will my kiddo make a new friend? How much money is this sport going to be? Why is my child struggling this way or that?… And the list goes on and on and on.

Luckily, I’ve learned that constant worry accomplishes nothing. It creates extra tension in the home, it increases the cortisol coursing through my body, and it wastes time. As a public speaking instructor, I know how important it is to be able to stop worry in its tracks, so a presenter is able to move passed anxiety and move toward delivering an effective speech.

Somewhere along the way, I adopted the stress-stopping techniques that I give to my students to my own everyday life, and I gotta tell you, I feel so much more productive. What’s more, it is a pretty powerful trait to be able to stop worrying whenever I want to. Consider this quote…

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who do you want to be all day long? Do you want to be the mom who cannot stop worrying or complaining that things aren’t working out correctly? Or do you want to be the mom who charges forward no matter the challenges that lay in front of her and her family?

Umm, I’ll take number two please! I’d venture to say that most of us would much rather be the woman who gets things done, right? So, why do we continue to worry? The truth is that there are a ton of valid things in the world to worry about, and that worry can get overwhelming quickly.

I’m here to tell you, mamma, you are right. Those worries that you have are real. You should give yourself some time each day to let your brain process your thoughts and emotions, because it is important.

However, it is also important to quiet your brain. Give yourself some time to enjoy this moment, right here, right now. Clear your brain of worry and just understand you are exactly where you should be. Worrying about where you aren’t or where your family isn’t won’t change anything about your current place in life. So why waste endless amounts of time on worry when you could be putting your brain to more positive ventures?

Now that you are onboard and know that you need to stop worrying, here’s how you can do it RIGHT NOW!

1. Turn Your Phone to Silent & PUT IT DOWN!

First of all, I bet you just giggled when you read this. Perhaps you thought something like, “Turn my phone to silent? Heck no, this chick must be crazy!” (Jury’s still out on that. lol) I never said that these techniques would be easy; I just said that they are effective. The truth is that you have to intentionally seek to quiet your brain.

If you were to consciously look around your life, where does most of your stress come from? For me, the answer was quite clear, it came from my phone. How quickly could I respond to a message, who needs something from me, who could I send a message to get something off of my plate, and so forth. My phone was making noises every couple of minutes.

One day, I just needed a break. I needed for people to not be able to get a hold of me. However, of course, I wanted to be available in case an emergency came up with my children. I couldn’t turn my phone off, but I could do the next best thing. I turned that sucker to silent! This was one of the most powerful things that I have done recently to manage my mental health. I don’t have to be at anyone’s beckon call, and no one needs an immediate answer.

As a Work From Home Mom (WFHM), I’m on call 24/7. I frequently have clients who text me last minute and ask if I can put up a quick post on their social channels. Within the last few months I’ve been contacted on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, Friday and Saturday nights at dinnertime, and on Sundays. I’m not sure about you, but those are usually pretty family-packed days and times for me. At first, when I could hear the message, I would withdraw myself from the festivities (and sometimes a large dinner that I was in charge of preparing) to go do business.

Now, I allow those messages to wait. I don’t look at my phone and interrupt those important family gatherings. I’ll put it this way, I’m never going to regret spending a few more minutes with my family, however, I might regret the converse…

Some of you might not WFH, but this technique could still apply to you. How much time are you spending on your phone searching for things and engaging in conversations on Social Media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat? Are you overwhelmed by all of the notifications popping up all the time? I can’t stand those little red/orange circles with the numbers in them! I think, “Ah, I HAVE to respond or someone will think I’m a bad person.” But you know what? How much value are we truly getting from those interactions? Seriously…

It might be fun to catch up on the local news and gossip. Whose baby is adorable? What type of smoothie should you be drinking? What party did you not get invited to? Ugh, all time wasters!

Here, I’ll save you some time. If you live close enough, you’ll see that baby in person. Spoiler: she’s kinda cute, but not as cute as your baby. No smoothie on Earth is going to save your life (lol, only YOU have the power to do that…). And yup, you didn’t get invited to the party. Who gives a flip? Do you really want to go hang out with a bunch of people who don’t want to hang out with you. Umm, I certainly don’t.

With that said, imagine what you could do with the newfound time acquired from looking away from your phone for a bit? If you wanted to, you could pick up and visit that friend and see her cute-ish baby in person. You could experiment with smoothies and find the flavor that YOU actually enjoy. You could even find a friend who has similar interests to you and work on a plan to hang out in the real world.

Sounds pretty great, huh? It’s not that hard, and you don’t have to give it all up. Just intentionally turn away from staring at your device and responding to things as they happen. As someone who has survived turning the sound off on her phone, I gotta tell you that it feels pretty powerful having all that time back!

Maybe giving up the sound on your phone is a bit too much of a ask at this point. Maybe you tried it and are amazed by the new energy that surrounds you, so you’re looking for even more ways to clear your head. Either way, you might benefit from this next technique.

2. Shift Gears & Have a Laugh

Many years ago, we lost my brother. As those of you who have experienced this kind of loss know, the events leading up to his death changed my life. After a short, but violent sickness, my brother ended up on life support in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where he was.

As some background information, I have an irrational fear of hospitals. I know people go in and come out fine all of time, but I get quite anxious in them. I hate the sight of blood and all the gadgets and whatnot stir something up inside of me.

So, when my brother was hospitalized, I naturally approached the hospital with all sorts of fears and anxieties even before I saw him. After a six hour drive, I arrived at the hospital in a tizzy.

Consequently, every time I tried to go into the room, I fainted. He was attached to so many machines, and all I wanted to do was hold his hand, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get passed the machines, the hospital, all of it. It was so hard.

I called my husband (then boyfriend) to update him on the goings on. I shared with him my anxieties, and I told him I couldn’t stop fainting. I really couldn’t. And then he said, “Just stop.” I laugh/cried to him, “Just stop?!? That’s what you’ve got for me?!?” He said, “Yeah, just stop fainting, Gretchen. You don’t have a choice. You need to get in there to see him. Just stop fainting, you can worry all you want once this is over. Get in that room and go see your brother.”

I got off the phone feeling like I hadn’t been heard. Didn’t he realize how hard that was? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to mentally manage. I took a walk. I took some deep breaths. I thought long and hard about his advice, and I decided that he was right. I needed to just do it. I had to walk into his room without fainting, so my brother would know I was there for him and that I loved him. And I did. I made the decision; I went in there; and I supported him, while I could.

Tragically, within a couple of days, he was gone. However, that moment lives on within me. I was challenged to the depths of my soul, and I experienced firsthand that I have control over what my brain is and isn’t capable of.

And so do you.

Now, I know that our daily worries don’t exactly carry the same weight as when someone is on their deathbed. However, there are some mom worries that can escalate to perceived crisis. In our home, because of the nature of our work, money tends to be a huge stressor for us. We get stuck thinking about, “How will we pay these bills, the health insurance, the mortgage, the car payments, the groceries, the bills, bills, bills?!?”

In these moments, knowing that you can intentionally shift your thinking is crucial to having strong mental health. Now, since I know that I can do this, I will identify when I’m engaging in worry, and I will just choose to shift gears. I like to turn my attention toward solutions, instead of dwelling on problems. In these moments, I will often actively search for new work or double-down on the projects that will bring more money into our home.

For some of you though, you may not yet realize that you have this power, so what are you supposed to do? Well, easy peasy! It’s time to call up your girlfriends!

What did she just say, call up your girlfriends?!? Yes, I did. And I want you to make a plan to go out with them.

What?!? You want me to spend money I don’t have and go out with my friends?!? Yes. That’s exactly what I want you do to. (((Within reason, of course. No one’s saying to plan a Vegas trip here…)))

Go grab a coffee or a couple of drinks, mamma. Hanging out with your friends is a sure-fire way to stop thinking so much about all the crap that’s bothering you and to turn your attention toward something more positive. If you can stack some laughs on top of it all, even better! Laughing naturally brighten your mood, and it’s dang hard to worry while you’re laughing.

As mothers it is very easy, especially when your children are young, to get lost in the mayhem of your family. Take a breath, it’s OK to be more than a wife, a mother, a colleague, a bill payer, you can be just YOU too. It’s OK. Trust me on this.

ASIDE: If you are in a place where you are unsure about who your “friends” are, because you are stuck between your old friends who don’t have kids yet and don’t really know any moms around you, it’s time to build some new relationships. No worries, though, trust me, there are plenty of other new moms out there who are just as eager to make new friends as you are. (Check out your local library for baby/toddler times, YMCAs usually have Mommy and Me classes, hangout at your local park and wait for someone to show up, or host something yourself. Once you look, you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other moms.

So once you have a group of friends who you want to hang out with, make plans to connect with those people without your kids. You’ll find that taking some time to shift gears and have a laugh with some friends is such a powerful way to stop worry in its tracks.

If you are still working on developing a fun group of friends who you can call upon, when you need to shift gears, you can do the next technique RIGHT NOW!

3. Get Your Heart Rate Up

You already know that exercise can help relieve stress, don’t you? Here’s some information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) to reinforce what you already know.

“When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.”

~ Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

There it is, mamma, get moving. Now, of course, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so I’m not going to prescribe how you should get moving, everyone is different. Walking may work well for you, or perhaps YOU are a runner and have a need for speed. Swimming, dancing, aerobics, spinning, hiking, yoga, cross fit, are just a few of the endless possibilities you can do to get moving.

Just plan to get going every day. (It’s OK to skip a day here and there.) A few years ago, my husband got me this watch. It’s really simple to use and very affordable. Obviously, an Apple Watch or other smart watch will also, track your activity, but I wasn’t looking for another gadget to play with. I find that this watch is perfect for me, because it keeps me moving. I have a goal of 15,000 steps a day, and I check the watch periodically for the my day’s count. I don’t need to message anyone from it or use it to answer my phone. It’s simple and that’s what I love about it.

Speaking of simple, have you tried using essential oils yet? My next technique is to utilize your sense of smell to “trick” your brain into relaxing.

4. Diffuse Some Oils

Do you have any scents that when you smell them, you are instantly reminded of something? For me, anytime I smell pipe tobacco, I remember my grandfather. He died when I was quite young, but to this day, that scent will transport me right back to his lap.

That’s pretty powerful, right? I think so too, and that’s why I started using oils. Now, don’t get me wrong there are so many great benefits of using oils beyond what I am sharing here today. However, I wouldn’t dare touch on them, but in that department I am no expert.

What I will share with you today, is to find some oils that you naturally relate to peace and calm and diffuse them when you notice your mind is starting to worry. Many people like to purchase blends from doTERRA ™ and Young Living ™ consultants. If this brings you peace, go for it. I’ll tell you right now, that you have consultants near you who would be happy to help you find the right blends that will work for you. Go to your Facebook page and type in your status:

ISO of someone who can help me find the right oils to diffuse for stress relief.

I am confident that your network of friends will connect you to a consultant ASAP! If you already know scents you like, you can find tons of essential oils on Amazon. (You might want to do your research here and read the reviews, because not all oils are created equally; however, Amazon does have some nice oils that I like to use.) For me Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon are my go-to oils, when I’m trying to shift gears and clear out my mind. Again, everyone is different, so please find something that will work for you!

Adding diffusing into your routine will give you the opportunity to consciously say to yourself, that you are giving your mind permission to relax. If you want to actively give your brain some quiet time each day, it might be time to add meditation to your daily routine.

5. Meditate

Are you wondering if I really tell my public speaking students to try meditation? Well, yes, I do. I want them to know they can train their brains to focus on the aspects of the presentation that matter to their success, rather than get wound up in the anxieties that come with presenting in front of a large crowd.

In terms of your own worries that vary from those of someone just before they walk out on stage, rest assured that you can practice meditation too! Meditation is a healing process that allows you to clear out the clutter in your brain and to bring attention to those things that you need to focus on in order for you to feel fulfilled. It is a personal journey and only you will know if it will work for you. However, I invite you to try it.

There are so many free resources out there in terms of meditation, and the practice varies on your level and on what you feel comfortable doing. For those just starting out, I recommend Jason Stephenson -> (He offers tons of FREE meditations on YouTube. Just click through, and you can select one that interest you.)

If you are interested in learning more about meditative techniques, I also recommend The Daily Meditation Podcast by Mary Meckley. (While she does have items and subscriptions that you may purchased, the daily podcast is always FREE.) I like these free meditations, because they are short, and I never feel confined to sitting in a dark space alone while I meditate. I often listen to these meditations while going for a walk or while doing dishes. This works for me!

Hopefully, you have found something today that will work for your too. The only thing left to do is to try something on this list. You are just one step away from relieving your worrying brain. Which technique will you try?

Let Me Know What Works for YOU

So, go on and get out there and give these techniques a try. When you intentionally start to direct your thoughts, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

What worked for you? What didn’t? Do you have any other techniques that you can share with me? I’d love to hear them. Let me know what they are in the comments below.

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10 Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free Easter Candies

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

Every time we turn around there’s another holiday or celebration just around the corner, and buying season-specific treats can become pricey quickly. Add on to this the restriction of buying gluten free and usually the expense adds up even faster, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

In our home, we are always on the lookout for gluten-free products that look good, taste good, and are inexpensive. While we try to make good choices about extra chemicals in our treats via coloring, additives, and preservatives, we also make exceptions on holidays. If we were to get all-natural, organic food for everything our kids ingest, we’d go broke. So, we try to make the best choices we can given our set of circumstances.

Believe it or not, there are a ton of easy, gluten-free choices in terms of candy. However, those with Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity, and other allergies should always be cautious, especially around the holidays.

Stay AWAY from molded chocolates!

As a rule, I find that molded chocolates are a NO GO. Yes, I’m afraid that means no more Cadbury Eggs, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, and basically any other Chocolate egg you can find. Bunnies, my friends, are OUT too!

These types of specialty chocolates are difficult for manufacturer’s to maintain as gluten free. Some of the additives needed to ensure the chocolate fits the molds and stays together by the time it gets to the consumer contain gluten. Also, the many of the production facilities that the candy is produced are not gluten free, so the risk of cross-contamination goes up.

Since no one wants a sick kiddo for a holiday, it is best to just stay away from these products in grocery stores. Some local stores may provide GF chocolate bunnies, but you are really going to have to search to find them. Also, you can always check out Etsy, as independent chocolatiers have shops on there and sometimes offer gluten-free novelties. Be aware of this Price Warning though: these items are not going to be cheap. If they are a must-have in your Easter baskets, then they might be worth it for you. At a $20+ price tag, they are not a necessity in our baskets.

Thankfully, my kiddos never noticed that the “Big” Chocolate Bunny was replaced with a plush version instead, so all is well in my home!

Plenty of Other “Candy” Choices

Now, that you know what to generally stay away from, let’s talk about what you can include in your Easter baskets. It sounds like I say this ALL THE TIME, but it always bears repeating.

Please Double Check!

Please double check all of the products you pick up and make sure that the allergens that you are personally trying to avoid or to take out of your child’s diet are not on the ingredient list. For a quick check, I always scan for the “Gluten Free” stamps on the labels.

Always be sure to double check for the Gluten Free notation on the product’s label. If it’s not there, it’s probably NOT safe.

1. Jelly Beans

Hooray! What would Easter be without jelly beans? Most of the manufacturers of these candies list gluten free on there packages. Jelly Belly are the favorite in our household, because of their unique flavors.

(ASIDE: If you haven’t tried Bean Boozled with your family yet, you have to give it a try. You’re kids will love it! It’s a fun, quick game where you have to try to pick the good tasting jellybean over the identically-looking gross one. So, it definitely bring out the laugh in our house. We LOVE this game for car rides or long lines.)

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2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

That’s right, Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are on the “No List,” but the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that are regular sized and miniature sized are on the “SAFE” list. YAY! 🙂

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They even have some wrapped in spring colored foils, so your Easter treasure hunter will still get to enjoy some chocolate and peanut butter goodness. Prior to going gluten free, Peanut Butter Eggs were my kiddos favorite treat, so these cups are a good substitute for him.

3. Peeps (Bunnies & Chicks)

Missing that BIG chocolate bunny in the Easter basket? Well, you might be leaving the chocolate behind, but don’t forget the bunny! Peeps are an excellent way to include the bunny in your basket without the risk of gluten.

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4. Pez

Easter Pez Dispensers

Do you have a Pez dispenser collector in your home? If so, this is a great treat to pack in that kiddo’s Easter Basket. Of course, Pez has Easter themed dispensers, like the ones pictured above. I always pick up a refill pack or two of the candy, so the novelty of the dispenser lasts a bit longer.

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5. Double Bubble Egg-Shaped Gum

Are you missing the idea of little candy eggs in your child’s basket? Well, Double-Bubble Egg-Shaped Gum is a great choice for you then. These egg-shaped gum balls are a wonderful addition to Easter Egg Hunts as well. My kids devour these. Plus, they are both gluten- and peanut-free, which is a nice bonus!

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6. Tootsie Roll Eggs

Not interested in gum in your house? That’s OK, because Tootsie Roll, has an Easter Candy alternative that may work for you! These “eggs” are Tootsie Rolls with pastel-colored candy shells. They are perfect for baskets or for stuffing in eggs for a hunt!

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7. Charms Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails Cotton Candy

OK, I’m not sure how the cotton candy keeps its form in these bags, and I’m guessing I don’t want to know. However, these bags are adorable additions for any Easter Basket. With the lack of a giant chocolate bunny, these bags take up plenty of room and the cottontails are always a hit with my kiddos. So, instead of biting of the the ears first, my kids get to chomp on the tails! 🙂

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8. Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks

For an Easter Basket addition that can also (conveniently) serve as a packed lunch addition, grab some of these Welch’s Easter Fruit Snacks. They are sized just right for stuffing into Easter Eggs for a hunt prize!

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9. Tootsie Roll Easter Basket Mix

Tootsie Roll also makes a mix pack of gluten-free and peanut-free treats that you can put into any Easter basket. The mix includes Tootsie Roll, Juniors, Snack Bars, Mini Dots, Tootsie Pops, and Tootsie Fruit Chews. All of the candy is wrapped in pastel colors and make cute additions to any Easter Basket.

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10. Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses In Easter-Colored Packaging

Thank goodness that there is some chocolate that is safe! Plain milk chocolate kisses wrapped in Easter-Colored foils are a GO! These bite-sized yummy treats are perfect for both Baskets and for hunts, so make sure to grab some. BE CAREFUL though, some of the “other” flavor may not be gluten free, so please double-check the packaging on these.

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OR… How’s this for an easy option?

At the end of the day, time is tight, and maybe you are looking for the easiest solution with some easy gluten-free chocolate options. If that is the case, you might like this pre-made Easter Basket solution for your gluten-free kiddo!

Happy Easter!

With our next gluten-free adventure just around the corner, look for more gluten-free content coming soon. Want to stay up-to-date on when new content is published? Please LIKE and FOLLOW me at

Getting a Diagnosis for Our Gluten Free Kid (GFK)

***** Much like most blogs, this blog contains affiliate links. I do not mention products that I don’t personally consume (or give to my family).  For more information, please visit my Privacy Policy page. Thanks for reading  *****

February 2019

Do you have any idea how hard it is to knowingly give something to your child, when you know that it is hurting him? This is how I feel about gluten. It goes against every fiber in my body to feed it to my oldest child. While he’s not been officially diagnosed with Celiac, my husband and I are both certain that his body hates gluten.

This week, we are finally going in for my Gluten Free Kid’s (GFK) endoscopy to find out one way or another if he has Celiac Disease. I say finally, because it has taken us two years to get to this point. He’s been in and out of doctors’ offices; he’s had tons of blood tests, swab tests, xRays, etc., and now we’re gearing up for a 2-hour trip to get his endoscopy done this week.

You may be wondering why it takes so long to get a diagnosis. Why is there the need for so many tests? Well, believe it or not, it is extremely difficult diagnose Celiac Disease. There are many factors that need to add up in order for a gastroenterologist (GI) to diagnosis someone with the disease. If you are interested in learning more about the facts of Celiac Disease, check out this Celiac Disease Facts and Figures document from the Celiac Disease Center from the University of Chicago Medical Center.

My kiddo has been through so many tests, and in many ways, it is a relief to know that he (we) will finally have something concrete to pin all of his symptoms on. In other ways, getting the procedure done is a bit unsettling. Any time your child is put under anesthesia, there is the potential for something to go awry. Everyone has told us that it is an easy procedure, but I’m a mom people. It’s my job to worry.

Whatever happens on Wednesday, he will once again be gluten free on Thursday. We all know (including him, us and his GI doctor) that he is much healthier when he doesn’t eat gluten, so back to a GF household we go.

Yes, I say back to a GF household. A little over two years ago, we started our gluten-free adventure. However, my son has been reacting to gluten since he was an infant, we just didn’t know it then. Here’s what his gluten reactions looked like as a infant and toddler…

My Sick Baby

So my GFK was a generally happy baby, BUT he was sick. All. The. Time. Thank God he didn’t have colic too, because I’m not sure how I would’ve lived through that. We were in and out of the doctor’s office several times a year getting prescription after prescription of antibiotics, steroids, creams, ointments, and sprays. You name it, he was on it to combat his symptoms.

His list of symptoms included constant congestion, runny nose, puffiness, rashes, and itchiness. He had his tonsils and adenoids removed, when he was four to try to alleviate some of the symptoms. He had allergies. Clearly, he had seasonal allergies, but he was also reacting to something in the environment.

So, naturally, I started cleaning everything. He slept hiked up on pillows, so he could breathe at night, and I always had a humidifier running. He was on allergy meds year round (he takes Children’s Zyrtec). Then in the spring and summer when his seasonal allergies really kicked in, he was also taking Benedryl several times a week to combat clear allergic reactions. During those times, he was also taking a daily dose of a nasal spray (prescription) and eye drops as needed. Ugh, my perfect little kiddo was struggling with something, and I couldn’t figure it out

Symptoms in School

As he started to play sports and go to school, I noticed that these symptoms were slowing him down. When he was in kindergarten, I found him scratching the palms of his hands like crazy. Again, we went to the doctors for a steroid to kick the symptoms out of him. I finally asked them, when do we start looking into what is causing his symptoms rather than just treating them. (Pandora’s box officially opened right then.)

That moment started our journey from the pediatrician’s office, to the allergist’s office, then onto the two different pediatric gastroenterologists’s offices. At first, I was certain that he was allergic to something, I just didn’t know what it was. I was relatively certain it was something in the environment, like a perfume or other chemical. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that it might be something he was ingesting.

Bye, Bye Chemicals

We tried eliminating as many chemicals from our house as we could. Goodbye candles, harsh detergents, air fresheners, and the like. I stopped using chemicals to clean and instead moved to using white vinegar and Norex products. For his personal cleansing products we exclusively used the California Baby Super Sensitive Products.

So did it work, getting rid of the chemicals? Umm, it helped, but it didn’t work. I was able to calm his symptoms faster using more natural and safer products, but he still had all of his symptoms. So, we managed them. (Six years ago, I wrote this post about his Eczema. (We have since moved away from Tide -> Check out My Green Fills, you can get 50 Loads FREE Here. It smells great; the company is eco- and socially- responsible; and it works for all of the laundry in our home.)

What is Celiac Disease?

In the midst of trying to see what my child was reacting to, some surprising information came our way. My husband’s brother was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. So, naturally, our family was chatting quite a bit about what Celiac Disease is and how his diagnosis was going to affect future family meals, holidays, etc. Truthfully, he was quite startled by the diagnosis too, because he didn’t have any symptoms. (Well, not any intestinal discomfort or things you would naturally assume Celiac Disease would cause.) He had been going back and forth to the doctor because his blood work kept coming back strange. His thyroid numbers, cholesterol, and liver enzymes were all wonky.

Shortly after these discussions started, my kiddo went in for his annual checkup. For this appointment, the doctor ran a blood panel, which was the first one that he had received. When we went in for his appointment, all looked OK, but my son’s cholesterol was elevated. What? I know I haven’t mentioned this before, but we’re talking about a kid who LOVES steamed rice, chicken, and broccoli. He is not and was not on a steady diet of deep-fried food. Both my husband and I were stunned by this information; it just didn’t seem right.

In the spring of 2016, I saw this post. It was so simple, but it was something I hadn’t considered before. According to the article, “Can Allergies Be Causing Your Baby’s Sniffles?” from the Burdett Birth Center,

“Even though pollen counts are high, and the breezy spring days have you sneezing, it’s unlikely your infant is suffering from seasonal allergies. According to physicians, allergies develop only after cumulative exposure to allergens. Your infant would need to have significant exposure to something like tree pollen, grass or ragweed to trigger a seasonal allergy, and most infants simply don’t spend that much time outdoors in their first year of life to make that happen.

While you can probably rule out seasonal allergies as the culprit for your little one’s symptoms, you can’t rule out allergies altogether. In fact, the CDC reports that allergic reactions to food and indoor elements are on the rise in children.”

Wait, what?!? It was unlikely that my baby had had seasonal allergies? Then what the heck were we treating with all of those antihistamines for all of those years? Is there something more here? Was I inadvertently giving him something to eat that he was allergic to?

So, Gluten Showed Up Too!

In the summer of 2016, I ran across an offer for an allergy and intolerance test that I could perform at home and then send away for the results. I just sent a lock of his hair to the group. Then, two lists came back from that test. The first was a list of deficiencies that he had, and the second was a list of intolerances that he could potentially have. So, we were not surprised to see ragweed on the list, as well tree allergies. However, lo and behold, gluten showed up too!

At this point, I had so many questions. Could gluten really be at the bottom of all of his symptoms? So, grrl, you know what I did. That’s right, I Google’d my heart out; I started asking questions; and I began watching my boy like a hawk. Yes, of course, my family and friends thought that I was crazy. That’s not news though, I’ve always been a bit on the wacky side.

It was a huge leap for the people close to us to see a connection from my son’s symptoms to any type of gluten issue. Plus something new started to emerge, my GFK started to react emotionally to the foods he was ingesting. Have you heard of people reacting to food colorings and additives? Well, for a few years, there were several families locally speaking publicly about this. The way that these parents were explaining how their kids were reacting to the dyes in food were very similar to the way that my son was reacting to food in general.

Symptoms After Eating

For several months, I just watched him and cataloged the way he responded to food. It quickly became apparent to me that he was, in fact, reacting to gluten. After meals, he would get bloated, he was on the toilet constantly, his rashes continued (the worst rash appeared behind his knees and in his elbow crevices), and shortly after he ate he turned into the incredible hulk. He would become frantic, sad, and angry. It was like my 8 year old had teenage angst.

Frankly, my husband thought I was nuts. He said, “he’s just emotional, he’s being bad, he’s too sensitive, etc.” And then it happened. We were in the perfect situation, where I could predict his reaction right before my husband’s eyes.

We had taken a family day trip to Niagara Falls, and everyone’s spirits were elevated. We were all smiles and giggles, and we stopped to have a bite to eat. My son had not had anything that contained gluten all day, and then he asked for pizza for lunch. My husband says, “sure,” and I’m delighted, because I know exactly what’s about to happen. The light-hearted chatter continued, and I leaned over to my husband, while my boys were busy playing a game together and I said, “Just watch. He’s fine now, right? Watch what happens after the pizza.” My husband agreed to play along and watch my son as he ate.

Sure enough, within minutes of eating the pizza, he was crying at the table. What’s worse was that he couldn’t articulate why he was crying. When we asked him, he said, “I don’t know, I just don’t know!” While there was nothing amusing about the situation, because it was awful to see him helpless, it was wonderful that my husband finally saw it with his own eyes. My husband saw that maybe there was something more to this gluten thing than he originally thought.

With my husband as part of the watch team, he was able to see my son continue to display clear emotional symptoms within minutes of eating gluten. He also noticed the bloating, the rashes getting worse, and his loss of healthy coloring in his face. My GFK had dark circles under his eyes and an ashiness that didn’t not look right.

Doctors, Doctors, and More Doctors

By this time, the allergist couldn’t confirm or deny a gluten issue, because if it was Celiac, it wouldn’t be an allergy. Then they didn’t want to do a panel on him, because they thought he was too young to proceed with that type of testing, since no reactions so far seemed life threatening. I know, you can imagine how deflating that is to hear as a mom.

Next, we moved on to the first pediatric gastroenterologist. AND we had taken my son off of gluten. At that point, it was clear as day to us that he was reacting to gluten, and I couldn’t bear to keep him on something I knew his body was rejecting. We saw the first GI doctor several times. He did have the Celiac gene, and I laid out all of his symptoms. I was dismissed and asked if I had considered counseling for my son. (Umm, counseling? Listen, I’m not opposed to counseling, I have seen a counselor a couple of times when I was working through some bereavement issues. But, what would my son need a counselor for here? That really struck a “hey, crazy mom, you have no idea what your son has or needs” nerve.”) It wasn’t until I mentioned the family history of my brother-in-law’s Celiac diagnosis and my mother-in-law’s Colitis diagnosis that he started to really listen to me. The next step there was to schedule an endoscopy, but I left that appointment both disappointment and upset with the whole process.

Granted, healthcare professionals should absolutely rely on real data to diagnose conditions, but to so flippantly disregard the information I was bringing to the table made me realize that wasn’t the doctor my son needed.

We’re Done With Doctors

So, we walked away from doctors for close to two years. Obviously, we still saw his pediatrician, who understood our situation. He continued to emphasized the importance of a GF diet to our kiddo, even though we never received the formal diagnosis. However, we were done with specialists.

Ahhh! He Feels Better!

Over the course of time, he stopped taking every one of his medications and has moved to an only as needed status. So for two weeks in the spring, when the trees are in bloom, he will take his allergy medication. That’s it. It’s absolutely amazing and such a relief. Even my eleven year old can see the change within himself. He has no interest in eating gluten, because he understands how much better he feel off of it.

For such a long stretch, this was our normal, and it was just fine for us. Of course, this article started with the anxieties of a mother bringing her child in for an endoscopy, so how do you do that without a doctor’s orders? Well, you don’t.

Do We Need a Diagnosis?

Next year, my GFK starts middle school, and it will be difficult to get him out of class for long stretches of time. And that is only going to get worse as he gets older, so we had to consider that it’s now or never. By some stroke of luck, I overheard a friend talking about her experience with a pediatric gastroenterologist who she respected. He wasn’t a doctor I had heard of before and he was two hours away.

Well, we took a shot on him, and he turned out to be fantastic. He listened to me, asked questions, AND explored the family history. Plus, he spoke with my son extensively. He eased his concerns, and he made him laugh. So here we are, after numerous blood tests, an upper GI with a follow through, prepping for an endoscopy.

In order to prep for all of the tests he took this year, we had to put gluten back into his diet. So, every day, our son had a small serving of food with gluten in it. Guess what? His symptoms returned. His rashes, his congestion, his mood swings, his tummy issues and bloating. All of the symptoms returned, so we knew without a doubt that our child has some significant gluten issues.

Now, to find out if he has Celiac Disease…


March 2019

So, he did it. He made it through his endoscopy. He was a champ and the procedure took about a half hour. We’re home before school let out for the day. We had to wait a couple of weeks for the results. Here’s what we found out…

The test results were inconclusive enough for the GI doctor to hold off on the Celiac diagnosis, rather he’s treating him for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Some of his blood tests indicated Celiac, while others were normal. The his intestines looked good, but a couple of the biopsies came back indicating inflammation.

With the family history, and the fact that my son was off of gluten for so long before he had the endoscopy, the doctor admitted that the diagnosis could’ve swung to early stage Celiac. The doctor explained that in the future there will be different types of Celiac to help zero in on some of the symptoms and causes. So some people will have something like Celiac Type A, while others have Celiac Type B.

If he were to diagnosis my kiddo with Celiac, he would be obliged to follow up with him at regular intervals, to give him tests and to follow the progression of the disease. With the Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity diagnosis, my son still needs to follow a gluten free diet, but we can follow up with the doctor if/when we notice any symptom changes. As a rule, we would rather try to combat something through diet and exercise, if it is possible, so this seems like the perfect outcome for us. No one wants to have their kid spending too much time in a doctor’s office, especially if we can manage his symptoms at home.

So here we are, years after we started this journey, and it looks like by some amazing stroke of fate (and a bit of luck), we were able to determine that my son reacts to gluten. We hope that he never develops Celiac Disease and that now he’s in a better place to ward off the other autoimmune conditions and concerns that come with it.

However, in the meantime, my husband has now started his Celiac inquiry, because his recent blood work came back wonky. It looks like his doctors are faster to diagnose him than our son.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather my son not have Celiac Disease, so I’d say his endoscopy was a success. Who knows, perhaps those couple of years off of gluten gave his system enough time to heal, so he didn’t actually develop it. There is so much research that still needs to be done in order to get a clear understanding of these murky conditions. While it is nice to be able to definitively say this is the problem, I’m much happier in limbo knowing my son is feeling better and growing well.

Now, onto the next kiddo. His struggle went from a slow bowel as a toddler to a constantly loose bowel as an elementary school student. Anyone else thinking, what I’m thinking? Here we go again…

How’s your kiddo doing? Does he or she have any similar experiences to my GFK? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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