Pumpkin Picking with the Kids

We spent our 4th fall picking pumpkins as a family at Wills Family Orchard this weekend.

During our first visit in 2011, we were still a family of 3.

Evie was an unhappy peanut in 2012. It was chilly and she’s missed a nap.

Last year we visited twice: to pick apples and to pick pumpkins. Those pictures just one year ago blow my mind. Evie’s hair is SO short and she looks so small!

So much can change in the matter of year.

One thing that doesn’t change is our love for this land. We visited another orchard a few weeks ago and we all walked away saying there was just no comparison. Wills Family Orchard remains our family fall spot!

It was the perfect chilly fall morning.  Our previous plans with friends fell through so we took the surprise open morning to do something we love.


Evie, in classic Evie style, wanted to pick what she wore. The tutu is an infant picture tutu that my friend Jennie was going to donate to Goodwill. Evie saw it and GAME OVER. She wears this thing like it’s attached to her skin: mall, grocery shopping, and now pumpkin picking. To each their own!


It was a chilly morning, perfect for wearing all things fun. Like mother like daughter :)


Finn was very into picking this year. He ran through the vines looking for the perfect pumpkin for each of us.  He was all in helping Justin cut them away from the vine and desperately wanted to lift the pumpkins into the wagon. Maybe next year since he and Justin found a TWENTY-EIGHT-POUND beast. They were so proud. Like father like son :)


After a brief bonding moment…


… we were off with our loot!


But not before stopping to look at the gourds. This is often my favorite spot. I love the shapes and colors!


I loaded the pumpkins up the vehicle while Justin and the kids made their way through the corn maze. Justin asked before going in, “now, am I going to get lost?”

Thankfully they made it out and met me in the Country Store where we picked up our fair share of organic apples, fresh made jams, local honey, and Apple Cider Donuts.  The kids LOVE these donuts, as do J and I. We were able to chat a little with Maury Wills, “Farmer Wills” as Finn calls him.  He is a good man and has raised a great family. Supporting his family by visiting the orchard is well worth your time this fall.


Once the donuts were gobbled, Evie demanded an apple. Happy to comply, my dear…


After a visit down the way to visit the chickens and goats, we headed home to put our favorite fall finds on the porch.


It is officially fall in the Wise house. Nothing better! What are your fall traditions?

Our Allergy Story: Update

Five years ago today our sweet Finnegan was born. This little nugget changed my world!

Baby Finn

Before his first birthday, we knew there were some food concerns.  He reacted when certain food even touched his skin…


… sometimes in places that made no sense…

Rashes 2

And then, of course, there were the times he consumed foods to which we later realized he was allergic.


After a RAST blood test with our pediatric allergist, it was confirmed Finn was allergic to dairy, eggs (whites and yokes), and peanuts. Read more of his allergy story and our food philosophy.

From that moment on we did everything we could to teach Finn about how food can make us strong and healthy. We also now talk about how food can make us sick.

Our annual trip to the allergist last year had us skipping a follow-up blood test. We knew Finn still showed a reaction to small amounts of eggs and dairy, and as the allergist asked, “what will it change if we draw blood and realize he’s one point different than before?” The answer was of course – nothing – so we saved all our sanity and didn’t do a blood draw. (The first blood draw took myself and two nurses holding Finn down. He was 15 months. Not awesome.)

Over the last year, things have started to change with his allergies.

Eggs are a main breakfast for both Justin and I. We’ve routinely made a different breakfast for the kids because of Finn’s allergies. However, we’ve had major success with eggs in the last year.

We started giving Finn one bite of cooked egg every day we made eggs. No reaction. A few weeks later we would add another bite. No reaction. A few weeks later, another bite. We continued this for several months until he was up to 6 or 7 bites without a reaction. From there we made him an entire egg. He devoured it and, lo and behold, no reaction!

Now, Finn’s favorite breakfast is sausage and eggs. He LOVES them! We love being able to make one meal for all 4 of us in the morning, and he loves being able to eat the same breakfast.

This is a huge win!

At different times in the last year, Finn has been given dairy, sometimes unknowingly.

The first time was during a children’s church service we don’t normally attend. Unbeknownst to us, he was given a cup of yogurt. I think he was so used to his school teachers knowing his allergies and what is safe/not for him, he assumed it was safe. He does have coconut yogurt from time to time, so again he assumed “yogurt” was ok.

His eyes were a little red and puffy when we picked him up and he was uncharacteristically quiet on the drive home, but I never suspected dairy as crackers are usually the only item served. He wasn’t interested in lunch. Instead he laid on the couch. He told us he didn’t feel well and that it was probably what he ate.  It took a little digging and detective work to figure out what he’d actually ate. After a long nap, his eyes were back to normal and he felt better.

It showed me dairy is still a concern; however, this time there was no red, welted rash. A change.

We started the same process with dairy as we have eggs. If we had anything with dairy, mainly a little butter, we give him a bite. We even started using ghee or a little Kerry Gold to make eggs without a reaction.

That said, we offered him a little organic shredded cheese one time for tacos. He took a small bite, spit it out, and said it was disgusting. This does not make me sad!!

He hasn’t been exposed to peanuts. We will wait for the blood test next year (before entering Kindergarten in the public schools) to determine his level.

What Does This Mean?
When it comes to eggs, this means freedom! This is the one allergy I’ve really hoped would subside for convenience sake.

The dairy piece is where I have mixed emotions. I’m glad he can consume small amount of dairy in items. It makes me feel better when it comes to what he might be offered or get into when Justin and I are not around. However, I still want him labelled as “allergic.” I do not want him served a piece of string cheese or a glass of cow’s milk or a bowl of cow’s milk ice cream. I have no idea how we would react to that much direct dairy exposure.

I also don’t think it will change what we buy or eat in our house or what we offer him.  I won’t go out of my way to buy cow’s milk products we don’t normally have now. Justin and I consume such little dairy now, and are used to (and like) the way we feel without it.

I know we are not at the place where Finn has “free reign” in the dairy department, but it has me thinking what it looks like when that day comes. I know as he gets older, he will make plenty of food choices without us helping me pick a “better” option. I fully admit sometimes I’m slightly neurotic about the junk severed everywhere and the snacks and treats offered for every occasion whether it’s a birthday, Flag Day, or the 5th Thursday of the month. (Seriously – daily junk!) I don’t know what that will look like, but I know we will have to trust the kids to make good choices, knowing there will be plenty of times they don’t… and they need to learn that on their own. I just am being totally honest when I say I have no idea how to do that.


There’s a growing trend of parents telling teachers their child has food allergies when they do not.  They are doing so in an effort to keep the junk offered to a minimum or restrict certain items (or food groups) they do not want their child to have. While I fully understand the battle (we have it, too, believe me), it is a grave disservice to kids who are truly allergic. I’ve heard of teachers finding out certain kids really don’t have allergies and making assumptions that other families are also lying about allergic reactions. As such, it has put truly allergic kids at risk to exposure of foods they might have life-threatning reactions to. It also minimizes the seriousness of food allergies as a whole.

I share this to say that when the day comes when Finn can freely have all food, we will no longer label him as such.  We will deal with the “system” like everyone else, and work our hardest to teach our kids how to be the healthiest little person possible.

No matter what Finn can or cannot eat, the focus of this blog will always be an allergy-friendly, GMO-free, real-food community. I will never forget the overwhelming confusion and helplessness when Finn was first diagnosed with food allergies. If I can help some of you going through the same thing, I’m honored.

Tonight we will celebrate Finn’s birthday with his favorite cheese-less pizza and dairy-free cupcakes. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Do you or your kids have food allergies? I’d love to hear how they have changed over the years.

100 Days of Real Food: Cookbook Review

When we first started changing the way we eat, the 100 Days of Real Food blog was one of the first blogs I read that made me feel normal. Finally, I thought, another mom who is fed up with junk everywhere and doing something about it! Lisa Leake was this real-life hero to me who was DOING what we were ready to DO. She was raising a clean-food family in an unclean-food world.

Lisa Leake

In 2010, Lisa, her husband Jason, and two daughters, went 100 days without eating a single ounce of processed food or refined ingredients. She realized how difficult it was to implement this lifestyle in a world swarming with processed food, so her blog began! If you haven’t checked it out, you’ll find real-food recipes, great kids lunch ideas, real-food meal plans, and product reviews.

Leake family at farmers market

Recently, Lisa has gone through the labor intensive world of book writing. From Justin’s book, we know what a process this can be. But after 2 years of hard work, Lisa birthed her first cookbook, and let me tell you – it’s amazing!

100 Days of Real Food cookbook

I’m not really a cookbook gal. After the world of food bloggers and recipes won my heart, after Finn’s allergies, and after we started getting very particular about the ingredients used in our kitchen, cookbooks became a foreign tool. In fact, I gave most of mine away. The 100 Days of Real Food cookbook is different. It’s actually filled with recipes with REAL FOOD that we would make at our house.

Here’s what you can expect…

  • No white flour or any refined grains are used
  • No sugar or any refined (or artificial) sweeteners are used
  • No recipes call for packaged foods containing more than 5 ingredients
  • Familiar and easy-to-find ingredients are used
  • 71 recipes are (or can easily be) Gluten-Free
  • 79 recipes are (or can easily be) Vegetarian
  • 49 recipes are (or can easily be) Dairy-Free
  • 42 recipes are Freezer Friendly 
  • A beautiful color photo is included with each and every recipe
  • 70% new recipes – not previously published on Lisa’s blog

One of the things I love most about the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook is the school lunch ideas. I know that is one of the biggest concerns I have with Finn going off to school next year and one of the biggest stressors I hear from mom’s about kids who bring lunches. You want your child to eat healthy, but you also want them to EAT… not just throw it all away! Lisa takes the guess work out of ways to not only make things taste good, but also look good.  And we all know we eat with our eyes :)

Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread Photo

The recipes range from sweet treats…

Frozen Yogurt Pops on steps… to delicious dinners.

Shortcut Eggplant Parm2

Many of these recipes are easily made allergy-friendly with a few swaps. Do yourself a favor and add the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook to your stack. This will be one you actually use!

* Food images courtesy of Carrie Vitt. Lifestyle photos courtesy of Kelly Trimble. *