September 30, 2010

Herpes Zoster

Did you know that Chickenpox is caused by a kind of herpes virus? Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), actually. It belongs to the same family of viruses that cause cold sores (HSV1), mono (EBV) and, of course genital herpes (HSV2). Recurrent outbreaks of Varicella Zoster cause shingles. It is extremely contagious and more or less the worst thing ever. And...for the record it does not come from chickens.

My kids have it. Aeden got it first. Last week he came down with a violent fever and began to develop a series of blisters all over his little body. More like shingles. Ellie's case is manifesting itself as plain old, red, itchy Chickenpox.

Telia is going stir crazy taking care of two little clingy, feverish fussy babies. When I get home from work she looks really wiped out. If you're not a parent you can read this as: Less pay off for WAY more work.

Telia is pregnant. At the moment, this is a inconvenient for two reasons. First, taking care of two whiny sick kids is less pleasant when you are large with child. Secondly, and far more serious are the potential risks of contracting Chickenpox during the first and early second trimesters of pregnancy (weeks 8 - 20).  According to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, in about 0.4 - 2.0% of pregnant women who get Chickenpox may have a child with one or more of the following: 1.) mental retardation, 2.) malformed limbs, 3.) vision problems, 4.) scars on the skin and/or 5.) muscle/bone defects. Telia is is about 20 weeks along right now, which places us (hopefully) at lower risk. Also, Telia had Chickenpox when she was little so she is inoculated against an acute outbreak. So, hold the phone, we are probably fine.

Anyway, once you've had Chickenpox, it sticks with you for life. The virus actually lives, dormant, in your nerve cell bodies. If the virus wakes back up, it will affect the skin wired by that nerve. As a result, people with Shingles, or a recurrent VZV infection, will often form blisters in stripes horizontally across their body. Varicella actually means "belt" in Greek.

When I was a kid Chickenpox was a rite of passage. Everybody got it. Like falling off a bicycle or getting a black eye, it tied us to generations gone before. When the Chickenpox vaccine came out I was under the impression Chickenpox was going extinct like Smallpox and my kids would never understand the misery I once suffered. Someday I would tell them all about the itchy scabs that would leave scars. Unfortunately, they are learning all too well. On the upside, tonight Aeden was so tired he just walked into his bed and went to sleep.

September 19, 2010

Through his eyes

For some reason Aeden has been especially kind this week. I have witnessed him share crayons, crackers and trains with his sister Eliza. He has also been spreading his affection liberally with morning hugs and kisses on the cheek. He even held his sister's hand yesterday to steady her while she walked. Not to say he is perfect; tantrums and pushing still are not distant history, nor do I expect them to stop in the foreseeable future. All the same, I see an attenuation of poor behavior and a crescendo of kind, brotherly affection.

Beneath his limited ability to express himself, Aeden has a rich and colorful personality. Getting dressed for the day has changed in the last few weeks as he is more aware of his place in the world. Often he will point to the shirt Telia or I got out and say, "No, car shirt," or "No, Choo-choo shirt." This means whatever we picked out somehow displeases him and he would rather wear the pajama top with Lightning McQueen or Thomas the Train on it, respectively. Which is fine, but why does he even care? Is he some sort of male fashionisto? Is it a power thing? Is he THAT influenced by media already? Or does he just want to wear that shirt? I don't know.

One of Aeden's favorite past times is wandering around the house snapping what seem like random photographs ... but what if they aren't random? Afterall, the photos capture his perspective and communicate his world. Looking through the pictures reminds me of why I someday wanted to be a grown up---if for nothing else, the view. Not to mention being able to stay up late, watch movies and eat lots of icecream when everyone else is in bed. So unfair.

Here is some of Aeden's most recent work behind the lens.

September 12, 2010

Home Improvements

We live in United States Government quarters. Think of it as living in a rental house with really a really particular landlord. Officially, absolutely no home improvements should ever be made without an authorized work order. We even need a work order to change out light bulbs. Except things are a little relaxed on the reservation.The basic rule here is change everything back to the bleak condition you found it in. Consequently, anytime a resident moves there is a free for all to collect all the plants, planter boxes, etc. When it is our time to go I foresee physicians running around like kids after a busted pinata. You see, we have been very busy bees. At least Tracy, my father in law has. He came a few weeks ago to visit under the auspices of needing a break. Instead, he worked, worked and worked until our whole place was whipped into shape. Just to give you an idea of what he did we've included the photographic evidence, but even they don't tell the whole story. Highlights include a small fence, re-engineered our drainage with gravel, a gravel pathway (in our drip line),  a chicken run, a shelf in our garage, and a planter box.

By the time he was getting ready to leave I was feeling pretty outmatched. Like, "Does Telia expect me to be THIS industrious?" I don't know. I have made some small improvements too, but it is well understood that Tracy is the Man. Thanks Tracy. No, really. Thanks. I just wish we had "before" photos.

Telia and I built the coop and wired the run. We're really proud of it

Tracy built the planter box and ran drainage pipe under the gravel
The fence hides our garbage can and miscellaneous items

This is a walkway and a rain run off solution by Tracy

Notice the absence of weeds under the clothesline. Telia and I did that.

Inner and outer courtyards of the Chicken Sanctuary

Rooster? preparing to antagonize our chicks

This chicken previously known as "Olga" is being renamed "Richard"

Telia slips a smile while I write this post. Notice 2 pans of cinnamon rolls

September 5, 2010

Abbreviated Labor Day Report....(so far)

This week has been a whirl-wind. We will start with Tuesday.

Tuesday. Started season 3 of Arrested Development. So funny. Michael meets the mysterious MR F.

Wednesday. Cleaned the house. Went to an open house for Ben's new Dental Clinic. Went to the park with friends. Went to clean the chapel and talked the whole time.

Thursday. Cleaned the house. Ellie got sunglasses from our neighbor Sossity. Ran 2.5 miles in a race where I, a 20 weeks prego, pushed both kids in our stroller and got first place. Not to mention I started 10 minutes late. Did not receive a medal, thought I would, but that is OK. Ben ran a 5k, and is still really sore. Went home, made tons of popcorn, went to a night parade, saw Ben in on the Dental float throwing out Tooth brushes, trying hard to NOT hit the grandmas in the head. We then went to bed.

Friday. Cleaned the house. Went to the carnival, saw a local Indian Heavy Metal rock band, saw Indian Dancers, Saw friends there, rode rides, watched our big boy Aeden go down a huge slide all by himself. Had a Bonfire, tried to keep the kids from jumping into the fire, or getting burned, tried not to burn the house, had lots of s'mores. I love them. Went to bed.

Saturday. Left the house at 6 am. Almost ran out of Gas, waited at a podunk gas station until it opened at 7 am. Used the dirtiest bathroom ever, got gas, went to the ABQ temple, did baptisms with the youth, went to Costco, went to pick my mom up at her hotel, played with Grammy, Went to REI, spent way to much at REI, got some Chaco sandals, love them, got smoothies, played at an amazing city park, went to
the hotel, took baths, said goodbye, cried, drove home, got pulled over, got a warning, got passed by a high speed car chase (fast, fast, Red Mustang) with three cops on a two lane hwy at night, then got passed again while the car that was getting chased turned around and drove passed up going the other way with the cops following. Went to El Morro to watch the stars (SO beautiful), thought that predatory night animals would get us, went home. Delivered groceries to neighbor, went to bed.

Today (Sunday). Relax, go to church and just be together as a family. Drove around the sacred mountain. Saw a coyote. Ate ice cream. Fed the chickens....cleaned the house.

September 1, 2010

Chickens: Good news, Bad news

Yikes! So much has happened since the rattlesnake incident. I will start with the bad news. 4 of our original chickens got out of the fence. They flew OVER and the rez dogs (read as American dingos) formed an ad hoc welcome party.  I found Scout on the neighbors patio, put her back in the fence. Found the remains of Leia. Cried.  Found the remains of Darthy (Darth Maud-er-- a feminine derivation of Darth Vader). She was the friendliest. Cried again.  We still have not found Nellie. I like to imagine that she is frolicking in the desert sand, happy as can be. We are very sad for our loss.

On to the good news.  We still have 2 bigger chickies (that is what I call them).  Olga and Scout. Olga, as time has passed seems to has experienced some gender confusion. Consequently, Olga has been renamed Olgo. Olgo's fate has not yet been decided. While I do not want a rooster fertilizing my breakfast, I equally do not wish to kill, pluck, eat him. And it's not that we've grown attached or anything, although a name like Original Recipe or Crispy Fried might help. I think I'm just too lazy to pluck a chicken. Anyway, we bought 4 new chicks to replace the ones that have passed (may they rest in peace--somewhere in the desert): 2 white langhorns and 2 Rhode Island Reds. Their names are Blondie, Spots, Coco and Chanel. All I can say is better luck next time. And let that be a Sunday school lesson to chickens and children everywhere.

The coop is nearly finished now. So is the run. When it is done we will post a bevy of pictures and have a virtual grand opening. You are all invited.

This post has been produced by Ben & Telia