Friday, February 18, 2011


"Saia? Saia? SAIa?! SaiA?!?!? SAIA! SAIAAAAAA!!!!!"

"Saia, Mom's calling you," he says in exasperation, not even looking up from his latest comic book.

"Hunh?" she says innocently, turning to finally look at me as I stand less than four feet away from her in the kitchen.

And it's been this way for a couple of weeks now. The hearing loss more pronounced after this past bout of the flu.  The tender ears, though, for quiet a while longer.

Fairly certain at this point that she wasn't just being obstinate, and also that one more episode like that might lead me to stringing her upside down from the bedroom window by her pretty painted toenails, there could be no more fiddling around with homeopathic ear drop remedies and sana-sana-colita-de-ranas. It was time to call the doc.

The pediatrician, however, could not even see inside her poor little ear canals to identify the presence or absence of an infection because of the GIAGANTIC WALL OF HARDENED EAR WAX (exclamation point!) that had accumulated and been impacted by repeated Q-tipping...evidently.

According to her doctor, and, of course, "earwax is a naturally produced substance that protects the ear canal. It's made of skin, sweat, hair, and debris (like shampoo and dirt) held together with a fluid secreted by glands inside the ear canal (ceruminous glands)."

Yeah, yeah, okay, that all makes sense. But here's the part I don't think I ever remember learning: the ear canals are, apparently, self-cleaning.  Self-cleaning? Like an oven? Who knew? 

But wait, there's more...
"Your earwax helps to filter dust, keeps your ears clean, and protects your ear canal from infection. Normally, earwax is a self-draining liquid that doesn't cause problems. As the skin of the ear canal sheds, the wax is carried to the outer part of the ear canal and drains from the [dramatic ellipses emphasis my own]
[And just wait, it gets nastier.]
Earwax ranges in color from light to dark brown or orange. [Ewww, I know...]  In children, earwax is usually softer and lighter than the earwax produced by adults. [This is about where my gag reflex became fully engaged.]  Children produce a lot of earwax, which tapers off as they grow older.
Earwax is normally produced only in the outer half of the ear canal and will not become deeply impacted unless it is pushed in. The ear canal may become blocked (impacted) when attempts to clean the ear with cotton swabs, bobby pins, or a finger push wax deeply into the ear canal. [They don't really mention this part in the Q-tip commercials, do they?]   
Impacted earwax may cause some hearing loss or other problems, such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus), a full feeling in the ears, or vertigo [How is it that the glue-sniffing teens haven't picked up on this one and started plugging their ears with wax, I wonder?]. Poking at the wax with cotton swabs, your fingers, or other objects usually only further compacts the wax against the eardrum." 
On yet another wonderfully helpful website, the only thing written in the middle of the page on Earwax in Children was:

"Nothing smaller than your elbow should be inserted into children's ears. Cotton swabs are for belly buttons, not ear canals."
- Everybody's Grandmother

And I think that about sums it up.

So, after braving the ear washing (and CLEARLY earning herself a lollipop) where they shot a steady stream of water directly into her ear to loosen the hardened wax, the pediatrician was finally able to positively identify an ear infection on her left side.  So, she's on a round of antibiotics for that, and regular drops of Debrox to loosen up the remaining wax that they couldn't clean out in the office, of which we are to be expecting to see evidence all over her pillow in the morning.  [Double ewww!!] 

BUT...I'm all sorts of relieved to know the cause and cure of this one, and, most importantly, she's already feeling ten thousand times better. :)

Chago, on the other hand, was kinda enjoying that little hold he had over her. That he could hear what she couldn't. That he could yell at her with reason. And that her ignoring him was causal and not intentional. He's really gonna hate her getting well.

And on a side note, I visited the Q-tip website just to see if they had any instructions or disclaimers or warnings about impacting ear wax with cotton swabs, and was very disappointed to see that they didn't.  In fact, they may have mentioned using a cotton swab on the outer ear only once, buried on an internal page about babies. But, from what I could tell, nowhere else.  Their suggested uses are for cleaning baby's umbilical cord, between the toes, and for incorporation into your beauty regimen.


I don't know about you, but the primary use for cotton swabs in our home growing up and now with my own family has ALWAYS been for our ears.  So, what am I missing?  Are they concerned they'll suddenly have to start paying out for ear infections caused by ear wax build up if they put up anything on their site even remotely referring to ear swabbing?

There is a place on their website to add comments or make suggestions, and I would ask that you join me, if this has ever been an issue for you guys, and if any of this is new information, and maybe leave a comment or a question for Q-tip about maybe thinking about providing an instructional video on the proper way to swab children's ears, and some sort of information regarding the potential dangers of not doing it properly? Drug companies are required to tell us about every little side effect, up to and including death. Q-tip can't tell us that inserting the cotton swab into the ear canal is against the recommended usage because of the potential for GIGANTIC WALLS OF HARDENED EAR WAX and possible ear infections? It just seems a little negligent to me.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Saia reading
Darkwing Duck
Chago reading The
Very Persistent Gappers
of Fripp
Impossible to not love that when their buzzers went off, indicating their required nightly 20-minute reading was over, they both immediately went, "AWWWWW, MOM! BUT I WASN'T DONE YET!!!!"

(And just for the record, they both got to finish completely before dinner.)

Monday, February 14, 2011


Making Valentine's Day Cards @ Mommy's
"So, they're making homemade valentine's, huh?" she asks as I drop off a bagful of materials from Target.

"Yep," I say with a smirk on my face. "And they're very excited about it."

"You just couldn't take it easy on me this once," she says, opening up the bag and sifting through the various heart- and star-shaped stickers, hole-punches, construction paper, envelopes, and cookie cutters for pancakes in the morning.

"Don't forget to send me pictures," I say with a smile. "Step-by-step. I need to blog it."

"Of course," she says, only partially rolling her eyes this time.

And yes, I won't deny I reveled a little with perverse pleasure in the idea of hole-punched confetti scattered all over her apartment, and glue stick all over her table, and various colored sharpie all over her placemats.  But just for a moment.

Okay, maybe two.

VDay pancakes with their Mommy
And then the pics started rolling in.  And it's hard not to smile at the fact that for them, everything is still the same.  Not exactly the same, I know.  And certainly not everything.  But the consistencies they have across our households, from our holiday rituals to our parenting philosophies, do appear to be making a solid difference in their acceptance of our situation.  Somedays more than others. But still. It's something.

And, of course, they had a wonderful time.  Just like they always do.  And I hear that Mommy even stopped gritting her teeth after a while and just gave in to the confetti-ism of it all. And when they woke up this morning, he discovered  4 bright shiny quarters under his pillow from the Tooth Fairy, and they gobbled down more than a dozen-and-a-half heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries. Each. :)

Vday Gardenburgers with Cheese for Lunch
When they got home this morning, I packed up their snacks and lunch bags, and off they went to school.  Saia, most excited about giving her BFFs their special hand-made cards.  Chago, a little more nervous and giddier than usual, as he's expecting a special gift from a special someone of his own.  (We'll have to get back to this one later if it pans out as he anticipates. Or not.)

So, today, for me, Valentine's Day means that love. just. is.  And if any of us are lucky enough to have it, in any form, then you shouldn't waste another second on the trivial insignificant moments. It comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  It comes from places you didn't expect.  And transforms into things you never anticipated. And maybe never even wanted.

But when you have it, once you have it, wherever it comes from, for however long it lingers...

Make. It. Count.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


"Mommy! Mommy!" he yells during the commercial.

"Yes, son, what is it?" she hollers back from her kitchen.

"I want to adopt a tiger, Mommy! Please! Pretty please! I promise I'll take care of it!"

Of course, he missed the "symbolically" part of adopting a tiger from the World Wildlife Federation Fund, and fully expected the FedEx guy to show up with a brand new, living, breathing tiger cub for him to love, and raise, and call his very own.  And, of course, he only heard that it was just $8 and not the $8 per month part.  And, of course, the damn commercial ends with this adorable little tiger stuffed animal.  I mean, who can resist that? Who????  (Which yes, I sooo get is the very point of emotional marketing.)

But, lucky for Mommy, the commercial is over and he can only remember the 1-800-281-something-something-something-something.

"Well, maybe it'll come on again," she assures him. "Keep an eye out for the number, boy."

His mission clear, his pen at the ready, he waits, anxiously, for the commercial to come back on again.

Next thing she knows, he's jotting down a number and running up to her with an ear-to-ear smile on his face. But this one's got nothing to do with tigers.  In fact, it's got nothing to do with anything an-almost-8-year-old boy should ever ever ever ever ever be concerned with.  But not our boy, oh no...he's ALL over it!

"Mommy! I want theeeeese!" he exclaims excitedly.

"What, son? What are they?" she asks, looking up from the pancakes just long enough to see his lips form the words, "jammie pants!"  And he shoves the half sheet of paper into her face with the 800# and a big ol' smilie face right next to it.

"They're only $3.95! Please, Mommy! Pleeeeeeeaaassseee!"

[I really just don't have anything else to say about this one.]

Sunday, February 06, 2011


at the yogurt shop
Okay, so I may have overdone it just. a. little.

Saia was invited to her first non-birthday-party-related, close-buddies-only, random-Saturday-night slumber party.

at the comic book store
Well, that's not exactly true. She's been invited to quite a few, but we've never said yes before.  And as much as I racked my brains, I could not for the life of me remember when I went to my first one, but suddenly there's no age that sounds like it would be okay.  Ever.

grabbing popcorn for
our own movie night
And it didn't even matter at all that when I plugged their address into my truck's GPS, it didn't even register a route because they only lived around the corner.  [Well, yeah, okay, it did a little.]

spearing his
What won her case ultimately, though, was the one-two combination of both her and her Mommy separately using my very own arguments against me.  [I hate it when they do that!]

coaxing the toastiness
Because, yes, we knew every single little girl that was staying over this time, from class, from softball, from my own volunteering experience. And yes, we knew all of their parents. Had seen them in action on the sidelines. And they were all really good little girls from really good homes.  And yes, Saia is such a hardworker, helps around the house, and is a good student.

spooky stories by

So, there was really no place else to go.  I had to concede.  And Saia was over-the-moon thrilled!! so much.

dinner and a movie
And then, without realizing I'd suddenly turned into the mother that's wrapped completely around her children's pinkies, I shipped my daughter off on her first overnighter, and handed over control of the rest of my evening to my nearly 8-year-old son. Completely.

on-demand noodle soup
And he wasted no time jumping on that opportunity. His written and bulleted plan consisted of the following. In order. And with a timetable.

  1. trip to the frozen yogurt shop immediately, to lessen the sting of being left out, of course
  2. trip to the comic book store immediately after that, to soften him up, naturally
  3. trip to the movie theatre right next to the comic book store immediately after that because, well, it's right there, for pete's sake, and to prepare for our own movie night, evidently
  4. home to supervise Mama building a fire in the firepit to roast marshmallows outside, while we tell ghost stories, count the stars, and come back inside by 7:30 exactly to start the show
  5. at precisely 7:30, we threw water on the fire, changed into our jammies, and he chose The Sorcerer's Apprentice from On Demand because it's the one movie his sister never wanted to rent
  6. halfway through the movie, and the large tub of popcorn, all sitting atop the roasted marshmallows, which were nestled on top of the half-pint of frozen yogurt, he finally says his tummy is feeling cruddy and demands Vietnamese Pho (or Mama's version thereof)
  7. As soon as the the movie is over, he races upstairs to set up the blankets in his fort (aka, converted top bunk) so we can read a whole chapter of Harry Potter before bed
  8. Not tired yet, Mama, sing me a song...
  9. Another one...
  10. Ok, one more...

3 fried eggs
I woke up about an-hour-and-a-half later, a crick in my neck, no wait, that's his elbow. Crawled my way out of the fort and collapsed onto my own bed.

The following morning, he comes bounding in, all chipper and jolly, like the cat who swallowed the canary, and whispers in my ear, "Good morning, Mama, it's still just me and you today." :)

breakfast on the
step stool???
And so we begin again.  He requested a man's man breakfast of 3 fried eggs, and then proceeded to set up the step stool like a table, like he used to when he was 4, and gobbled up his breakfast right there in his penguin footy jammies.

off we go to pick up
his sister
We watched one of his favorite Life DVDs together, which really just means he narrates over Oprah and never lets me miss an awww moment -- not a bad trade-off, really.

her first request
But by then, much to his chagrin, the 24 Hours of Chago had finally come to an end, and it was time to go pick up his sister. Clearly, he was torn.  Reluctantly putting on his shoes.  Haphazardly combing his hair.  But he grabbed his scooter as I slung hers over my shoulder, and off we went, around the corner, and up the hill to retrieve his other half.

The moment I saw her, I thought she was gonna burst into tears. She had bags under her eyes. Her hair was all tangled. And she looked like she'd been put through a wringer. Literally. Whatever a wringer is.

All the way home she talked about what fun she had, the stuff they ate, the things they did, all interspersed with little bits of "and then I cried a little," and "I missed you," and "I was too hot," and "I was sooo thristy."  And the second we walked in the door, she asked if I could make her a big salad, and then immediately fell right into a deep nap after lunch.

And all is right with the world again.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


"Saia," he sing-songs in an unusually sweet voice this morning, as he sits at the table awaiting his breakfast.

"Yes, Chago?" she responds exasperatedly, already expecting, always expecting, as she fast-forwards through the chapters of El Dorado, trying to find a place that doesn't skip.

"That's a fairly new movie," he begins, and she glares.

"So???" she responds.

"No, nothing," he says with forced nonchalance.

She evil-eyes him once more.

"Just that it probably shouldn't be dirty, is all," he says, shrugging his shoulders and pretending to be interested in the book he was reading.

"Don't do that!" she lashes out.

"What?" he says sweetly.

"Don't be so passive-aggressive with me!" she yells. "I'm gonna clean it, ok?"

"But I wasn't," he coaxes. "I really wasn't."

"Yes, you were," she says, hopping off her seat and ejecting the DVD to wipe it down.

"No," he says without looking up from his book, "I was using reverse psychology."


Friday, February 04, 2011


flower and bug
Just look at what she did? I can hardly believe she's only 7 (well, ok, 5 weeks away from being 8), but STILL!! I'm pretty sure I was still picking my nose pretty regularly at this age. There's no way I was picking ingredients; let alone writing up a menu, preparing, and executing an entire meal for my family without any (little to no) assistance. No way!!

(Mom, please feel free to jump on here and make me feel better about myself at any time.)

making veggie
So, around 5 o'clock this afternoon she decided she wanted to help make dinner, which isn't all that unusual, especially on the weekends, until she started perusing the cookbook shelves, located the Kids Can Cook book, and cut me out of the loop entirely.

"Well, if you're gonna make dinner," I tell her, hoping (and feeling a little slighted) that she'll beg me for help, "then you'll need to make the whole shebang." [shebang? really? that can't be right? I've suddenly got William Hung screaming in my ears.]

her perfect sauce!!
"Okay," she replies excitedly. "Like what?"

Thoroughly defeated, I tell her she'll need to decide on a protein, a starch, a veggie, and a dessert.

"DESSERT?!?!" she squeals.  Now I've totally lost her.

cooking like a pro
Within minutes, she'd planned the entire menu, and she was off and running.

It took her about 2-and-a-half hours to prepare everything, but she was meticulous, and stubborn, and only asked for help when she was on the verge of flinging the teaspoons across the kitchen.  Otherwise, it was all her.

And just look at what she pulled off! Just look at it!  As she set the table and served her brother, she announced the plate and everything.

the final dish
"Tonight," she says, "we have whole wheat spaghetti with veggie burger meatballs and my own homemade tomato sauce."

"Mmmmmm," he says excitedly.

"On the side," she continues, "are some fresh baby peas and a sweet bread roll.  Would you like some shredded parmesan cheese on that?"

her menu and
rating card
"Mmnomthankyoujm," he says through a mouthful of food.

For dessert, she presented her Flower and Bug cupcakes like they were the Star of India, swirling and twirling her hand to highlight the (very rare existence in our home of a) gummy worm.

Then she served herself, tasted and rated every little thing. "Next time I'll use real meat," she said.

And they finished every last bit.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Chago, Grand Master, and Saia
Sitting in their huddle tonight at karate, their Grand Master tells them a story about optimism versus pessimism, and how sometimes it's okay to be one, and sometimes it's better to be the other.

To better explain his point, he naturally takes a full glass of water sitting on the table and drinks half.  And you know how this goes.

He asks the class, "Who thinks this glass is half full?"

90% of the class raises their hands, Saia included.

Then, of course, he asks, "And who thinks the glass is now half empty?"

Chago's hand shoots straight up into the air without skipping a beat.

And suddenly...I'm awash in the a-ha moment of it all.