be sure to bring the kitchen sink. Okay this may be a slight exaggeration, but this post is entirely about our first real family vacation since dealing with multiple food allergies.
Quite frankly, if I had given it more thought,I probably would have rationalized my way out of it because the challenges were "too great." Since I am writing in the past tense and a post about a failed family vacation isn't terribly interesting blog material, it is safe to say we actually pulled it off... successfully! May our little journey bring you hope.
Vacation planning timeline:
3 weeks ago: Jason finds out he will be jetting to San Francisco to present at a conference.
2 weeks and 6 days ago: I work myself into a tizzy, " Wouldn't it be cool if we (I, JR and Luke) could join you (Jason) after your conference is done?! A real family vacation!"
2 weeks and 5 days ago - 10 pm: Research airfare between Portland and San Francisco. Wow, it's not that bad! Airfare booked.
2 weeks and 4 days ago - 1 am: Can't sleep as I repeatedly say the phrase, "What did I just do?!!" Wait, how are we going to pull this off? Food? In an unfamiliar city? With no immediate friends or family? Oh ya, and I have to make it to the airport, onto a plane for a 2 hour flight with both JR (4 years old) and Luke (7 months old), by myself?! Oh, and JR has a bit of a life-threatening allergy to tree nuts and peanuts among other things? What kind of mother am I?!
|That's right. I'm one dura mater to pull this off by myself! Google dura mater if you don't get the horrible attempt at humorous neuro-geek speak.|
Like so many parents out there, to my core, I just want some sense of normalcy. I want my children to experience all the great things that this world has to offer because there are just too many for one lifetime. With this in mind, I pushed aside my fears (mostly) and went into planning mode. How can we solve this food problem while staying in a hotel, far away from home, and eating at restaurants isn't a viable option? Side note - for us, JR's allergy to corn and soy is a minefield. We stopped trying to find safe foods at restaurants a long time ago.
To make a long story short, in order to pull it off, we brought a cooler with icepacks containing a few of JR's favorite food options. TSA got a bit persnickety on the way back, but here is me not caring :). The great thing is that the cooler with ice packs served us well for our entire trip! It was a great asset for taking lunch on the go.
The other key piece is that we stayed in a business traveler's hotel, complete with a pre-equipped kitchenette. I also made sure that the first night we arrived, we found a Trader Joe's, which has many of the familiar foods that are safe for us. We bought safe food for JR, and of course a couple of bottles of wine and seasonal beer may have ended up in the cart to boot.
I brought along ziploc bags filled with standard spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, and a cinnamon/sugar mix for breakfasts). My intention was definitely not gourmet meals, so you may want to forgo the oregano - I hear the TSA may not like that. The great thing is that the bags pack nice and flat in your suitcase and the cinnamon acts as a built-in air-freshener. Who knew?
|Bagged spices brought along on the trip because who has room in their suitcase to bring all those containers?!|
With just a few spices, rice, hamburger, chicken stock (we can't find a beef stock that works for our allergy needs....), frozen pre-cut broccoli, and some cut-up squash, dinner was done. Here's the other cool thing, I figured out by pure accident due to complete laziness on my part, housekeeping will do the dishes for you - awesome!
|One of our several meals prepared "on the go," with just a few simple ingredients and spices.|
|The arsenal of wipes to rid the airplane surfaces and JR's hands of allergens.|
Now for the fun and memories part -
- We toured the bay on a sailboat!
- Saw the beached seals and got suckered into all kinds of tourist-y trappedness at Pier 39.
- JR ate french fries at a restaurant - thank you In N Out for cutting real potatoes and frying them strictly in their own frier of cottonseed oil. JR was giddy with excitement to eat in a restaurant. Only a food allergy parent would be thrilled that their child's dinner consisted entirely of french fries!
|JR and Dad eating french fries from In N Out. This was HUGE for a little boy that has no memory of eating restaurant food.|
- Luke popped his first tooth!
- Walked along a beachfront marina while JR chased a jack rabbit.
- Toured the California Academy of Science museum because, yes, we are that geeky of a family.
- Ate a picnic lunch in Golden Gate Park
|Our family at Muir Woods next to a giant coastal redwood|
- Hiked at Muir Woods and spent Sunday morning reveling the greatest natural cathedral known to this world - the ancient coastal redwoods!
- Played on the beach at Muir beach.