Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alec can read!

Well, almost. More like, Alec can memorize a book using visual cues to help him remember! Here he is reading Blue Hat Green Hat by Sandra Boynton. (I'm giving you the shortened version where I cut out all the times Alec got distracted by Charlie or started being silly and made up color names like "Toe-peh" and "Nee-noh")

(UGH the video isn't loading right and my patience has run out. I'll have Chris fix it when he gets home.) Ok well I think I got it to work but it's all choppy and of poor resolution. I'll have Chris fix that too when he gets home, oh blessed hour.

Medical Update: Alec is feeling better! The parts of his skin that broke out first are starting to fade, and some spots on his bottom have disappeared completely. Other parts are just getting to the worst but at least I can guess they will also start to fade soon. He's able to eat practically normally and complains less and less about his lips/tongue hurting. Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts and concern. We've been sweetly blessed.

Monday, July 27, 2009


There practically is no update. I can't decide if its worse or better so at least its not obviously worse. Yesterday he was able to eat some graham cracker, a few bites of my birthday cake, a handful of blueberries, 2 cups of milk and a cup each of water and juice! So there are some improvements. His lips are almost back to normal size and the swelling around his eyes/cheeks is down. The doctor said he'd call again today and I'm planning on asking him what symptoms are supposed to last the longest and for how long his saliva is contagious. Charlie still seems to be acting normal. It looks like we'll pull through. Relief Society yesterday was very inspirational (Chris went to sacrament meeting and then switched me at home so I could go to Relief Society) and has helped me both put my hardships in perspective and reminded me of resources I can draw on for help. I'm feeling loved, supported, strengthen, uplifted and empowered.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Poor Alec

Alec woke up worse this morning. The dominate (by far!) color of his face is deep brick red. It has spread more on his arms and back. and is looking more intense. The good news is that it looks worse than it actually is. Our visit to the doctor today left us to understand that the rash itself isn't serious or contagious. They're not 100% sure, but they think its likely he contracted the Epstein-Barr Virus (supposedly an extremely common childhood infection) and his large scale rash reaction to it is consistent with the Gianotti-Crosti Syndrome. I don't understand much of this but what I gather is this:
  • Epstein-Barr Virus is only contagious through saliva
  • EBV can look like different things (no reaction, fever, vomit, diarrhea etc..) for different people. Therefore its possible Charlie could already have had it .... or he still could get it.
  • The rash on his skin can get worse and last for up to 6 weeks! It is good to note that so far, it does NOT itch or seem to bother Alec much.
  • Alec has had a continual low-grade fever not topping 101.
  • His mouth/lips/throat are quite painful and as a result he can't eat or drink without screaming, "it hurts! something in my mouth...hurting me." Even just the thought of eating or sucking makes him cry this way.
  • The biggest danger is dehydration. Also we need to look out for a high fever persisting for 3-5 days
  • Alec looks and (with the exception of a few hours here and there) acts miserably.
I'm not sure I can do this for 2 weeks (average duration time) let alone 6 weeks. Anyone have any ideas on how to help kids drink/eat despite sore throats? Poor Alec.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Five minutes before we were planning on walking out the door for a little 2 night camping trip with some friends, I got a good look at Alec's face. The few little red spots that I thought were irritation from lunch getting on his face turned into a rash on his cheeks. We spend the next 40 min on the phone with an advice nurse and doctor and decided it was probably a harmless (maybe heat) rash since there were no other serious symptoms and to give him Benadryl if it seemed to bother him.

So, we went camping. 4 hours later we're putting him to bed and it looks a little worse. We take another good look at it when it got light (notice I didn't say we looked at it when we woke up... we were awake many times before it got light, but that's a different story for a different time).

Its much worse. His whole face is swollen, his lips are so big they're cracking a bit, he's talking a little funny, and feels a little hot (we forgot the thermometer). The rash has spread to halfway down his back and tummy as well as along his arms and legs. Its no longer individual red spots on his face its entirely raised red patches.

We pack up and go home and see the doctor later this afternoon. After many questions the first doctor frankly admits she's no idea and brings in another. The second doctor doesn't have any ideas either and they send for another (more experienced 'rash doctor'). He has some better ideas, notices some junk on Alec's tonsils, and finds swollen/extra? lymph nodes along his neck. We take Alec over to the lab to get some blood work done to check for Epstein-Barr Virus and Strep throat. Throughout all of this, Alec is hot, grumpy, and freaked-out by the doctors and blood tests. So... Alec is a mystery. What is this bright red, raised, swollen rash affecting his skin, breathing and temperature (by now, he's got a low-grade fever)? Hopefully we'll find out when we go back tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Excursions with Chris

We did manage to do some fun things with Chris during some breaks in the interesting conference talks. We went to the Santa Monica Beach for a few hours. Alec was pretty nervous about the waves, despite loving them last year. Charlie ate sand by the handfuls whenever given the opportunity. It was warm and beautiful and a little crowded so a few hours is all we needed.

We also found a spare day to go to the happiest place on earth. Alec (and Charlie) is young enough to still be free and with the expectation of just wanting to help the boys have a fun day we really enjoyed our visit. We all 4 rode Peter Pan, Its a Small World, the Carousel, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh ride, Disneyland Train, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Jungle Cruise. Alec also got to ride Dumbo, Tarzan's treehouse, Autopia Cars and meet Mickey Mouse in his house. Chris and I chose 1 ride to take turns riding and since it was UNBELIEVABLY HOT and HUMID we did Splash Mountain. We almost stayed for fireworks but decided to leave with still happy kids for the hour + car ride home. It was a long but fun day.

Yes, Alec's face is not happy. In fact, he was quite scared of Mickey Mouse when we were within 3 feet of him. As soon as the picture was taken and we were on our way out the door, Alec says, "I see Mickey Mouse! Bye Mickey Mouse! I want to see Mickey Mouse again..." and squirms out of my arms for one last wave. He loved having seen him, not necessarily the actually seeing of him. We ate frozen apple juice, corn dogs and churros. It was so fun to see Alec enjoy the rides and all the excitment and sights. Charlie was really good and sat down on the rides, held onto the bar and just stared at all the colors and lights around him. What a fun day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Huntington

Picture some of the pretty landscaping shots from The Wedding Planner, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Little Princess and you'll be picturing what I saw at the Huntington's Botanical Gardens. It was breathtaking. The boys were good sports as I pushed them around the 207 acre gardens. From jungle to desert and from Chinese to Shakespeare they had it all. I especially loved the Japanese bonsai court. It's crazy how small and yet how old the trees looked. Sorry for the picture overload, I just couldn't help myself.

Alec loved the Rainforest gardens. It was constantly misting and they had a little pond where you could see through one side.

Obviously, the kids' favorite spot was the Children's Garden. They had playable water fountains and kid-sized tunnels and climbable rocks. We had a picnic lunch here and then left for the hotel. I was sad to miss Huntington's Art Collections and Library (apparently they have a large Mormon section) but I wasn't brave enough to put the kids through that. Regardless, we had a thoroughly enjoyable visit and it has given me more 2-kid-1-parent-outings confidance.

COMING UP NEXT: Excursions with Chris ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pasadena Kidspace Museum

One day during Chris' conference the boys and I went to Pasadena's Kidspace Museum. It was a perfect place to go on a hot day. They had a Early Childhood (crawlers/preschoolers) room with places to crawl on, jump in and slide down as well as wooden puzzles, blocks and wall art using magnetic and Velcro shapes.

They had a museum with lots of bug/insect/earth exhibits. One exhibit was a "Raindrop Climber" with plexi-glass circles overlapping enough to climb up two stories.
There were trikes and a track to drive along with road signs! Alec wanted to put his helmet on by himself. You can see Charlie taking a quick nap in the stroller there in the background. He ended up doing that for most mornings. What a trooper.

Probably the favorite activity of the day was the stream/waterfall/pond the kids could play in. Alec was nervous with so many kids around and wasn't sure about getting wet in his clothes, but quickly warmed up to the idea. Charlie would've crawled right in the water no matter how deep it got! Trying to keep an eye on Alec, a hand on Charlie and take pictures while standing in the rocky pond was quite a balancing act.

We would usually get home from these morning excursions around 1:30 and then take naps in the hotel room. Then we'd either play in the room more, go swimming in the pool, or take a walk before going back to the hotel room for dinner. Each day was a good mix of busy exploring and confined, if not quiet, relaxing.

COMING UP NEXT: The Huntington: Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens ...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Its been a while

Yes, it has. Chris did a fantastic job presenting his paper at the IJCAI conference and workshop in Pasadena. (So I heard. I wish I could've seen it myself but I think with the two kids we would've been a tiny distraction) He also made some good contacts; one of which being with the VP of Disney Research.

The boys and I enjoyed our hotel and some local kid-friendly places in Pasadena. We've got loads of pictures and I'm tempted to do small, frequent posts about the trip to stretch it out, but we all know that I rarely follow through with my declarations to post more later. So maybe I'll throw them all on here. On second thought, I should use this nap time a little more productively so I'll just post some "fun in the hotel" pictures on here and save the rest for subsequent posts... I PROMISE!

This picture was taken from me standing on our HUGE and comfy king sized bed. We had Charlie in the pack n' play in the corner and Alec had a little tent/bed under the desk. We all knelt around the small table for meals and ate here most of the time thanks to cereal, bagels, PB and J and microwave mac n' cheese.

The boys' favorite hotel past time was to drive around these wind-up cars. They also enjoyed throwing balls into the ice bucket acting as proxy for a basketball hoop and looking out the window at the pool 2 stories down.

COMING UP NEXT: Pasadena Kidspace Museum...

SIDE NOTE - In other big news, Charlie has a tooth! He's putting everything in his mouth like crazy and thinks its a game when I say, "Not in your mouth, Charlie!" while swatting the leaf, stick, rock, or shoe away from his face.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July

Its been somewhat of a rough week. I guess you could call it a bad case of the post-vacation blues. As a result, we both wanted to keep the Independence Day festivities fairly low key. We went to our ward breakfast/program Saturday morning where Alec saw people dressed up (really authentically) as George Washington, Betsy Ross and Abraham Lincoln. Alec was, as you guessed, scared of them and said really loud, "Mommy, don't I yike doze dies." This is another example of why I'm glad Alec-ese is not something easily understood by the casual listener. We had a really yummy and fun BBQ with some friends for dinner, played kickball and did some toddler-friendly "fireworks": wanna-be-sparklers, snakes and a few strobe ones. Then as any lame and tired parent would do, we put our kids to bed around 8:00. Regardless of our low-key celebration, I am extremely proud and honored to be an American. I love our country and I'm grateful for our founding fathers' courage and insight, and for the men and women who have defended our freedoms. Happy Independence Day.

Alec, Charlie and I made a 4th of July fireworks painting complete with glitter. Ok, Charlie didn't help much but he sure enjoyed it!
Charlie's first bike ride.
Charlie was actually having fun until we took the picture.
"So big!" is one of Charlie's first tricks.