Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When I grow up...

Madoc whispered to me, "Mom, when I grow up I want to be like you." I have captured that moment in my heart and it will be with me forever, and ever. And always.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hong Kong Asthma, Allergy and Sensitive Airways

I just returned from taking Madoc to see Dr. Adrian Wu, a Hong Kong specialist in asthma and immunology. I have been in such need of more information, that the visit was extremely productive and I am so grateful to him for the information he provided. I asked him as many questions as I could - but of course I now have hundreds more. Following is what we found - I hope this information also helps other parents with children who suffer from "reactive airways" and asthma.

1) Children who catch RSV before the age of 2 and have a wheez at the same time (Madoc did) have a 10-fold chance (he couldn't give me actual numbers) of developing Asthma. I must research this more...

2) Children who have excema have a very high chance of developing Asthma (Madoc did not). If Madoc had this and RSV and dust mite allergy, Asthma would have been a sure thing.

3) If you combine an allergy to dust mites (specific only to this allergen) to either of the above, the child has a significantly increased risk of developing asthma unless this allergen is managed. (And yes, we found out today that Madoc has a significant reaction to dust mites. And yes, dust mites are a MAJOR problem in Hong Kong because they thrive in humid conditions). The good news is that there are now studies that show that if you start your kids on allergy shots at the age of 5 to build immunity to dust mites, there is a significant decrease in asthma cases.

I asked the doctor about the inhalers. Are they habit forming. Am I giving her the right dose. Etc. And he said that the latest research indicates that it's best to only give steroid inhalers as needed -- not as a preventative. He also said there is a new trend in creating inhalers with both steroids and Ventolin that you use until the cough stops.

I asked him if there was any way to build her immunity. He said it has been proven that Vitamin D absorption has been proven significant in fighting Asthma. The latest study he read links the significant increase of Asthma cases in Australia, to the fact they smother themselves and children in sunscreen, thus blocking vitamin D absorption. The study tested loads of kids and found the majority were Vitamin D deficient. Definitely worth looking into ....

So the good news is that Madoc does not actually have an allergy to dairy. Or soy. Or gluten. Or cats. (Poor thing hasn't had any dairy in 6 weeks!) But she does seem to be developing a fierce allergy to dust mites. But the good news is dust mites can be controlled pretty well (at least at home). Bad news - airplane rides are about the worst thing we can do her. The re-circulated air, the dust and dirt, and germs, the dry air -- are all a recipe for disaster. He recommended she wear a cotton mask, to help keep moisture in, germs and dust out. Hmmm, we'll see how that goes over on 24 hour plane ride.

I asked him if living in Hong Kong was aggravating the problem - as the air is so polluted. He said that from an allergy perspective, that unless you live in Denver (SERIOUSLY!), there are always going to be allergens around. He said Denver doesn't have dust mites, which makes it ideal for Madoc. (Note, he didn't say the air pollution didn't matter, he just thinks there are a lot of variables that go into this)

So good news/bad news. But at least I have more information. And at least Madoc can now eat Macaroni and Cheese and Pizza - she is so excited!


Chase's birthday - okay, so I learned this year NOT to have Chase's party until after her birthday. Because if you have a birthday party the day before, the actual day pales in comparison. Note to self. Also need to note that even if Chase says she doesn't know what she wants and oh that she wants a fireplace, she doesn't really want a fireplace (which I actually bought for her) - no, she wants a fairy, something she has never, ever told me she wants. And she actually cried (how bad do I feel?) on her birthday when she unwrapped her present and saw she had an electric fireplace.

Also had the first *known* lying incident today. And it was terribly traumatic. Chase told me she did not have a candy after lunch (they are allowed 1 sweet every day after lunch/school). Jojo, our helper, told me she did. So I asked her, "Chase, Jojo tells me you did have a sweet after lunch. Did you?" And her lip started to quiver and her face became red, and she started blinking back tears. And so I said, "Chase, I need you to look me in the eye and tell me you are sorry for not telling the truth." And then she totally lost it, broke down and sobbed for 15 minutes (inconsolable). And then she looked me in the eye and said just that. And then I asked her, "please, can you always tell me the truth?" and she said Yes. She was so distraught that I ended up giving her another piece of candy for "telling me the truth even though it was hard to do." Because I didn't expect it would devastate her so to be caught in the act. And she really is an amazing little girl and always (bless!) does everything right. Always. And ultimately I just want her to know that I really don't want her to lie - that it is wrong - but that I know she feels terrible and not to do it again. And, above all, I love her always and forever, no matter what. And that I still love her, exactly the same, even though she made a mistake.

Madoc - I've given her one week break on doctor appointments (bless her!) but tomorrow we are going to see Hong Kong's allergist/immunologist for allergy testing. Poor dear. I told her we were going this afternoon and she said, "noooooo~!" and then said "is he going to cut my foot in half? And then put a plaster on it? I don't like plasters." To which I said, "No." But I didn't tell her that she will either have blood drawn or get a skin prick test. NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO TOMORROW. But at least I will know more than I know today about her allergies and triggers. And I can only hope that she doesn't remember it. And for the record, Ms. Madoc, when you read this years from now and think I don't care - I do! Absolutely, completely and more than you'll ever know. I know this sucks, but I am doing this FOR YOU. So we can know more about your body, what triggers you, so we can stay as far away as possible from it.

In other, better brighter news - Madoc seems to (knock wood VERY HARD) gotten over her sock issue. And is getting WAY better with her clothes (after 5 months of wearing only three things!) And Madoc has decided she is going to be dentist. Possibly because her dentist visits have been WAY better than her doctor visits.

And here is my proud Mama moment. I went to Chase's student/teacher 15 minute non-informative conference today and saw this! Which I thought was spectacular! She just turned 6 and is still in "kindergarten." She was given the number "20" and asked to come up with different ways to make 20 - and this is what she came up with ....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Almost 6!

Chase officially turns 6 tomorrow, but of course we started celebrating early! First, we made cupcakes for school on Friday. She requested vanilla cake, with vanilla frosting. So I made white cake, with cream cheese frosting. She and Madoc decorated them and I brought them to school.

Chase at school (dressed as Fancy Nancy for book week) ...

When Chase arrived home, she found her (6) pink roses ...

That evening, we started decorating for Chase's birthday party ... which involved making loads of lanterns and crepe paper flowers ... And this is where I have to say that Chase, for the first time, was extremely opinionated about who was invited to her birthday party. She wanted it VERY small and even though she has been invited to at least 15 birthday parties in the past year, I honored her request. So in the end, we had 10 girls (including Madoc and her little buddy Sascha).

Crepe paper flower fun ...

Balloon fun ...

Setting up Chase's Chinese tea set ...

In the morning, Hubs ran out for coffee and donuts for adults...

Before her guests arrived, Chase decorated her own cake - a "ChaseCake," otherwise known as a cheese cake, just as she's done every year ...

Ready to party ...

When the girls arrived, they started making hats and bracelets, which both took so much of my time I forgot to take pictures. Hubs was so busy gluing that he didn't have time to take pictures either.

And then we made bird cages. The girls decorated the birds and the cages. In retrospect, I really should have selected less challenging crafts that needed less adult support, but the girls were so happy it all turned out all right in the end.

We "read" tea leaves (which were fortunes the children had made-up, written down with the help of my gorgeous friend Kylie, and then inserted into a balloon). In order to get the tea leaves, the kids had to pop the balloon.

The girls played twister ...

And then we had cake ...

Here are the girls with their hats ...

And then the little ladies left. Collecting their hats, bird cages, bracelets and goodie bags ...

And then Chase opened her presents ...

And as I was cleaning up, I noticed Chase's rosebuds had opened (gorgeous!) ...

And then the sun came out.
After being fogged in for what feels like months.
I can't even explain how excited we all are.
Sunshine and clear blue skies - one of the best gifts of all time.

Can't wait to celebrate my little girl's actual birthday tomorrow...
I can't believe she is actually turning 6.
I am enjoying her last day of 5 and while I'm happy she's getting older, it suddenly all seems to have happened so fast ...

Love love, Chase. Love love!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Chase has been taking 20 minutes of Mandarin a day at school (not a very good program, I might add), and 3 hours of Mandarin outside of school per week. She is in two foundation courses and one that is more difficult, for kids 1-2 years older, where they work on writing characters.

I pushed hard for Chase to get into that class, only because I really wanted her to be exposed to "what's next." I was up front with the teacher that I didn't care if she actually did well, as long as she was happy and engaged and didn't show signs of frustration or giving up.

The teacher reported back last week that she (and the other Mandarin teachers) have been incredibly impressed by Chase's progress in the class. And that "they just can't seem to find her limit." She continues to remain positive, with a gorgeous can-do spirit and is climbing her way up in the class quickly. She is apparently actively participating in class.

You go, girl!

Reading Like Crazy

Chase is reading like a mad woman. Everything. Everywhere. Everyday. She can even walk and read (not exactly graceful at this yet). She is reading grown-up books now. Without pictures. And doesn't care. Just wants to read.

Her school has book week next week, and I am tasked with dressing her up as her favorite character, which happens to be a little girl from a book called Beach Baby. Not sure why it's her favorite. Probably because there is a beach.

She also wants to spend her tooth fairy money on a book. And wants to join a book club (that she's not allowed to join until she is in P3).

I love her appetite for books! She is insatiable.

Office Supplies

Madoc absolutely loves office supplies. She loves tape. Scissors. Post-It Notes. Hole punches. I haven't shown her the stapler yet.

After multiple times of cutting her thumb on the tape dispenser (ouch!), she has decided to use scissors to cut the tape off. She is extremely good with scissors - better than Chase ever was at that age. Perhaps because I was so worried Chase would cut off her finger.

Anyway, I was helping Madoc take the tape off and she said to me, in her little serious voice, "Mama, you are such a good helper."

This Week

This was a stunner of a week. Started off with Mads getting a high temp on Sunday night. Then I pushed my way into an already overbooked doctor and MADE her see Mads - because if there is one thing I learned early -- Mads doesn't mess around when she gets sick. And I'm glad I did -- she tested positive for strep, influenzaB and had a blazing ear infection (all at the same time). Tuesday evening our helper fell ill and Wednesday a.m. Hubby flew off to the Philippines.

The most interesting part of this whole thing was that Mads was actually vaccinated against influenzaB in the fall and Chase wasn't. And Mads caught exactly the same strain she was vaccinated against. But here's the good part - her body already knew how to fight it, because everyone around here who has it, has it for a week (temp goes up and down like crazy) -- and Madoc's temperature went away within 12 hours of starting antibiotics (which means that her fever was the strep and ear infection, not influenza). I have always believed that the flu vaccine was not a good idea, but decided to do it this year because of Madoc's lungs and I am actually really happy I did. Because I think it saved her, in the end, from what could have gone from bad to worse.

And I'll never forget how she turned to me before bed the night after we got back from the doctor and she said in her little voice, "thank you for taking care of me, Mama."

Monday, March 05, 2012


Last weekend, Chase performed in the ballet, Coppelia. The performance was put on by her ballet school, so it included children from age 4 thru secondary school (I think that's age 18). It was absolutely amazing how many little people were in the performance, and how coordinated they all were. Chase was a little dutch girl - so adorable!

Here she is, make-up on, on the road to the auditorium. So grown-up!

Little Madoc. Getting a cat nap in before the show.
Poor little monkey had been exhausted all week.

A good luck hug ...

And kiss ...

And then she was off to get dressed ...

And after an hour of watching other kids perform, we finally saw her dance!

And then the show was over. Again, I have to say it was absolutely amazing how well choreographed the show was ... there were so many little kids!

Such a proud mommy! And a delighted little sister.

And then, after the curtain closed, we waited along with all the other parents, to collect our ballerina.

She was all smiles.

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

It's Going To Be A Hard Week

Took Mads to doctor today - she has an ear infection, tested positive for strep and influenza B! This poor girl needs a break!

Friday, March 02, 2012


So I screwed up my courage and took Mads in for a blood allergy test. They have to fill an altogether too large vile with blood and then test it for every allergy under the sun. Needless to say it was a terrible experience - and the doctor couldn't find a vein. And he scratched her with the needle coming out. And he had pink eye (we were the last patient he was going to see before his replacement came in). Bad day. And no blood. And I just can't put her through that again for a little while. So I think I am going to wait until Summer to try it again.

In the meantime, she started coughing again (just 48 hours after I took her off both inhalers) - she obviously has caught a bug, as her nose is runny this time around. And she had a minor temperature, just over 100 - and coughing.

I cried all over hubs when got home. He spent last week in Japan. Most of the week before that in China. And this week he goes to Manila. And I have to say that while I adore living abroad, I really detest feeling so alone (even though I am surrounded by friends and other wives who go through the same thing). And of course I have help with the kids, and around the house, so why exactly am I complaining? Maybe it's because I grew up with parents who were around - as in, they didn't travel to different countries each week. Maybe it's because somewhere over the past 15 years I somehow misplaced my independence - or more likely it's because I have two little people who are so utterly extremely dependent on me.

And of course most of the time I love being here and manage to keep it all together - getting the kids to their activities on time, making sure they are eating whole grains, fresh organic veg and fruit. But when Madoc starts to wheez it suddenly feels like I can't breath either. Everything gets trapped inside me. I suddenly feel sick and alone, no matter how many people offer to help.

And so after years and years of people telling me to "relax" and "don't worry so much," I have made a promise to myself to make/take 40 minutes to do yoga every day for 30 days. Not only it is incredibly difficult for me to take this time to myself, it is also incredibly difficult to quiet all the things that go through my head.

But I can say that after 7 days of yoga, I am actually starting to feel good while I'm doing it. I no longer find myself waiting for it to be over. I actually don't want it to end. And so maybe, just maybe, yoga can help me find my breath, my peace - and if that's the case, maybe some day I can hand that gift down to my girls.