How To Get A Bead Out Of Your Child’s Nose

With a title like that, I suppose I need explain very little.

But to set the scene: Mica came running to me one evening recently, crying. After only a couple of red herrings she managed to communicate that she had something in her nose, and was not happy about the fact.

She led me to a scene of destruction from earlier that day, where she’d spent long happy minutes cutting apart a cheap Mardi Gras necklace into individual beads. These beads, so round and blue and temptingly-sized, had apparently called to her, reaching deep into her toddler heart to whisper an irresistible siren call: “Put me in your nose.

To be fair, I’d heard of children putting things in their noses and ears — Google seems to think it happens a lot, based on its search results — but we’d made it through two toddlers without an incident. I suppose I was hoping that we’d just luck out. But fate had other plans, and Mica broke our winning streak.

We spent much of the evening trying to remove the bead ourselves. Asking her to blow her nose failed; she’s terrible at it. She didn’t want us trying to push it down from the outside; that seemed to hurt. And she was really, really not ok with someone trying to reach into her nose with, say, tweezers. After trying everything we could think of, including making a stab at it when she was asleep (hint: noses are still sensitive even in sleep), I resigned myself to the doctor next morning.

Our regular doctor had no more luck than we had, and sent us to an ear-nose-and-throat specialist. After all the work and trauma, I was therefore astonished by the solution that actually worked for us. The doctor had us lean Mica back; she closed the other side of Mica’s nose; and she had me blow into her mouth, as though I was giving her mouth-to-mouth and wasn’t in the mood to be patient about it. Out that bead popped like a pellet from a gun.

Apparently this doesn’t always work — it’s most successful with smooth, round objects that are not too deep. But man, I wish I’d known that method before I spent all morning at doctor offices.

And I really, really hope this impressed on Mica the need to not put things in orifices.

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Quiet At Home

This year, for the first time in my life, I did not do Thanksgiving at my Dad’s house.

We have been sick, with a long, lingering, unpleasant illness. To be fair, it wasn’t nearly so long or lingering for the kids; they recovered within a week. Dave and I are clearly neither so young nor so resilient. When we hit Wednesday and still felt about as terrible as we had for the last five days, I knew it was time to call it.

Which is too bad but better than going to Dad’s house, being miserable all weekend, and leaving the illness behind with them so they could be miserable for weeks as well. Such is life.


In an effort to make some kind of Thanksgiving-ish gesture, I hit the store yesterday morning. I was hoping for a chunk of turkey to cook, but no luck; instead we had a festive pork loin, baked with apples and rosemary and a scattering of cranberries. For dessert I made Crazy Cake, the simplest chocolate cake ever devised, with fall leaf sprinkles on top. I won’t say it’s a typical Thanksgiving feast, but it was easy and different and still gave me time to lie down with Mica for a while midday.


Mica joined into the low-key festivity by asking to wear a dress, and Dave carbonated some of our homemade apple cider for a special treat. And that’s about it.


We recently hosted my friend Shelly for a visit, in the course of which we worked out that we’d been friends for thirty years. Since in the deep recesses of my mind I’m still only twenty-two, this is a bit of a mind-bender.

One of the reasons she came down was to visit a horse ranch, which turned out to be just a short drive from our house. The Wild Horse Mountain Ranch specializes in rescuing mustangs, and in working with clients with special needs. We had a chance to meet and pet a very good-tempered stallion, whom Shelly spent some time grooming while my kids played in the sand of the arena.


We also met a miniature donkey, a gentle fellow about waist-high to Ryan, and my kids helped groom him a bit. I watched my boys carefully for any obvious interest in horseback riding; my casual queries about lessons have turned up only lukewarm interest. But although they liked interacting with the horses, neither of them got stars in their eyes at the prospect of riding. Yet.


Halloween has been much anticipated this year by everyone in the house (or at least those under 30). Nathan and Ryan, old pros at this holiday, of course had the memory of previous sugar binges to spur them on. But I was surprised to discover that Mica also seemed familiar with the major customs — surprised, that is, until I discovered that she’d seen a YouTube video that explained it all. Her knowledge wasn’t perfect — when we left the house for trick-or-treating she was still talking about going out to “buy” candy — but she knew candy was involved and oh boy was she excited about it.


I completely relinquished any vision of myself as a costume-making mother this year, and just took the kids to Value Village to buy costumes. Ryan chose a ninja outfit and looked awesome. Nathan chose a grim reaper but decided at the last minute to forego the mask and hands and instead made himself a hybrid of the reaper, a character called Sans, and a superhero. As for Mica, she didn’t seem too interested in any of the small child costumes, so I instead suggested some wings and a wand so she could be a fairy.

She was thrilled about the wings until I had to tell her that these were pretend wings, not the kind that would actually let you fly, and then she was less thrilled. But she went along with it. Being a pretend fairy wasn’t nearly as good as being a real one, but if it was the best her mother could do for her, she seemed willing to suffer through.

And it was worth it. All their costumes were well-received, and candy was forthcoming. Mica, whose sense of boundaries is still two years old, had the extra bonus of occasionally spotting a dog in the house, and several times invited herself inside to pet a new friend. It’s hard to refuse anything to a two-year-old fairy.

Just A Picture


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The other morning, when I heard Mica stirring, I went in and lifted her out of bed. “I have to fly,” she told me groggily as I picked her up.

“Oh, were you dreaming about flying?” I said as she folded against me. “That sounds like a good dream.”

“Yes,” she mumbled into my shoulder, and we moved on with the quiet dance of waking up.

It was probably an hour later that she came running to me. “My wings are gone!” she told me in real distress.

I did my best to commiserate with how dream wings don’t stick around in the real world, but she was having none of it.

“Put them back on!” she demanded; and, when I confessed my inability to help, her face crumpled.

Oh, my love, if only I could…

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Village Home

I missed my first opportunity to learn about Village Home at the AERO conference; there was a student panel, but I was sitting in traffic instead of attending it. Fortunately the founder of Village Home did a workshop later in the conference, which I made sure to attend. I’ve only waited this long to write up my thoughts because I wanted to watch the documentary Class Dismissed, which features a short segment on Village Home. (And which is a neat film, following the doubts and struggles and triumphs of a family that decides to homeschool their two daughters. I recommend it.)

I’m so glad I attended Lori’s talk. I had heard of Village Home as a community college for K-8, used mostly by homeschooling families; the families are in charge of managing their students’ education, but Village Home provides classes to help expand what’s available to them. I’d envisioned classes essentially like those I remember from mainstream school, only taken on a more voluntary basis, and with a much greater variety of electives sprinkled in.

This is not quite accurate. Yes, there are classes covering all the familiar math and science and history concepts; and yes, there are some really awesomely unusual classes. Looking in on any given class, it might seem to follow the standard model: there’s a teacher, there are students, there are pens and papers, etc. But the autonomy support at Village Home goes much deeper than simply choosing which classes to take. For starters, Lori Walker retrains her teachers (who mainly come from the public education system) with the understanding that their primary job is to maintain the students’ intrinsic interest in the subject. There are no grades, no standardized tests, no rankings, no competition. Although she didn’t say it, this is all consistent with one of the ideas that I’ve seen in many alternative education settings: there is no rush.

In addition to choosing their classes, the students have control in other ways as well. If they turn in an essay, for example, they generally get feedback on the general flow of their ideas, some comments on things they’re doing well, some suggestions for other things to try… unless they specifically request “hard” grading at the top of their paper. In that case, the instructor will note every misspelling, punctuation and grammar error as well. But it’s the student’s choice as to when they’re ready for that level of feedback.

Lori told a story of one of the questions asked at the student panel I’d missed. How do you know, a kid in the audience wanted to know, if you’re ready to take a class like Algebra? Apparently the Village Home students, including Lori’s own daughter, had some trouble answering this; they exchanged surprised looks before offering answers like If it looks interesting, or If you aren’t sure, go for a couple of classes and see if it makes sense. Lori, who has a much clearer sense of mainstream schools, could see the problem. These kids, she told us, were so used to autonomy that they didn’t even know what they had. It would never have occurred to them to appeal to an outside authority, an adult or a test, before exploring an idea. If it turned out to be deeper than they could handle, they’d go and find out what else they needed to know, and if necessary join the class again later. There is no penalty for failure in this system; there is, in some sense, no real concept of failure at all.