Planning and approaching Ellie's birthday this year was much less dramatic than her first birthday. First birthdays are full of expectations and ideas, and with FPIES I had to grieve the loss of the social accepted norms in order to embrace our new normal. This year I was determined to create a fun second birthday for Ellie that was food free, and as stress free as possible.
The first thing I realized was that I did not want to have the party in my home where I would be expected to provide food, or I would have to watch for cross contamination. The second thing I realized was that I still wanted to have the party nearby so that Ellie could enjoy it on her schedule, and I would not have to pack and bring a truck load of her broth formula. I began calling around, and the third thing I noticed was that all party packages came with food!
I took a step back. Balloons are a risk for Ellie due to corn starch. Food is a risk to Ellie. What can we do for a party that everyone would have fun, and these things would not be an issue. The zoo! The zoo would be a place that all ages could enjoy.
Hopeful, I sent an email to their birthday party coordinator, explaining our situation and asking if they would be willing to let us reserve their picnic area and hold a birthday party without the food portion of their packages. (By the way no balloons are allowed in the zoo for the safety of the animals, and monkeys like Ellie) I cross my fingers, and sure enough! Their events coordinator was fantastic. Kind, considerate, and more then gracious, she helped tailor a birthday party just for Ellie.
Our birthday invitations explained that our party would be for an hour in the zoo picnic area reserved just for us, but that they could arrive early and stay late to enjoy the entire day in celebration of Ellie turning two. Guests were welcome to pack a lunch or eat in the park, but thank you for understanding that there would be no cake or food provided due to Ellie's food free day. Instead there were more than enough carousel rides for everyone, and even though it was not part of the package, we were all treated to a train ride as well.
By the end of our time at the zoo, I was convinced I had made the right choice. I was so pleased with the fun had by all, especially Ellie, and especially her great grandparents who are in their 70's and who enjoyed the carousel and train rides as well. I would highly recommend the Sacramento Zoo as an FPIES and food allergy friendly birthday choice, and we may choose to do it all over again next year!