March 2013

The last time this happened, I was able to see the bright side and was and still am grateful. However, this just should not, on principle, be repeatedly happening. I’ve just had to write this email to my bank:

I’m writing to report an incident that has occurred, for the second time, with my Chase Premier Personal Checking account.

A fraudulent check was allowed to go through on this account on 3/20/13 in the amount of $29.95, despite the fact that the check (which has a scanned image available online) has many glaring obvious signs that it is fraudulent:
1.) The “authorized by” name is not mine; it’s “[Mr. W]”, which is a name that is NOT on this account. (This is not a joint account.)
2.) The sequence of the check number is totally off; among a bunch of legitimate check numbers in the 600s (612, 613, 614), the fraudulent check number is 6052994.
3.) The check is issued under Washington Mutual Bank FA ASB, and not Chase Bank like all of my other checks.
4.) There’s no signature whatsoever on this check either by the supposed issuer of this check, or by the payee.

I’m alarmed that with all of the above red flags, the check was still permitted to go through and be honored by my checking account, the only link to my account being the routing number and account number at the bottom of this fraudulent check.

Even more alarming is the fact that this is the SECOND TIME something like this has happened at Chase Bank, the first time in January 2011 under very similar circumstances (fake check with a different name, address, banking institution name, no signature, sequence number way higher than my current sequences, and my name was nowhere on the check, only my routing number and account number on the bottom). Upon the first incident, I had alerted Chase Bank and the fraud department recommendation is that as it appears the account has been compromised, I should close the account immediately and open another checking account under a new number. I did this, to much trouble as I had to stop and transfer all direct deposits, automatic billpays, and everything linked to this account.

I again alerted the fraud department this time by calling 866-564-2262 on 3-26-13, and was again advised to close this account and set up a new one, and that I would be credited the fraudulent check’s amount of $29.95 and get a return call from someone within the fraud department within 24 hours. It’s been 2 days and I haven’t received a call nor seen the credit applied to my account.

Chase Bank has always provided me with excellent customer service, pretty much unrivaled by any other bank I have done business with, and I would prefer not to switch banks. With Chase, I have my checking account, a joint savings account with my husband, a credit card, and a HELOC. It is a hassle to move everything to another bank, and I would prefer not to do that. However, I have no confidence that Chase Bank has security measures in place to prevent money from being stolen from me, even in the current small amount of $29.95. It seems far too easy for a fake check with blaring signs of its inauthenticity to pass muster with whomever processes the checks, and it’s a scary to think that I may have easily lost thousands of dollars due to fake checks because of someone’s carelessness in making sure the name on the check at least matches the name on the account. It is equally stressful to think that I would have to close/reopen accounts, unlink and relink billpays, direct deposits, etc. every couple of years because of something like this recurring, even though I’ve already changed account numbers from the last fraudulent check’s processing.

I regret that I may not be able continue doing business with Chase Bank, but would like you to be aware of what is occurring with regards to your security measures.

Thank you.
Cindy [last name]

There are such striking similarities between this occurrence and the last one in 2011 that I now think it’s a total scam by the same people, possibly an inside job. How else could people possibly keep linking my individual personal checking account, in which Mr. W is never mentioned, to Mr. W, even tho this is 2 different account numbers? They must’ve started with our joint account and then used his name to issue the fake check from the linked checking account, this time made out to some “Web Entertainment” company that I also believe is fake because the reference phone number of this company again is not a working number. So someone makes up a fake company, opens an account under the fake company name, steals a bunch of $29.95 payments in fake checks from checking accounts and puts it in their fake company account, then withdraws the cash and closes the account before many red flags are raised by the victims, who may see an ambiguous “Web Entertainment” company and just figure it’s some online purchase or subscription they’d forgotten about. I don’t use e-checks often, maybe once a year to occasionally pay my property taxes that way (which was done AFTER the date of this scam this year), so it’s not like my checking account info is all out there with shady companies. The inside person looks up checking account info on the Chase databanks for the fake checks, then he or someone in alliance allows all these fake checks to go through.

As soon as I find a fully-accessible bank that won’t nickel-and-dime me for billpays and fees and ATM usage, I’m out. Bye, Chase. You made perfect products for me, but this is just not acceptable.

It’s amusing to see the kind of stuff a toddler can reach just because she’s taller than she should be — or at least, taller than the average girl her age (by a lot!). There’s no hiding things above Allie on the counter or the desk or the couch or the shelves, because she can see the item from a few feet away, so she just walks up to the surface and waves her hand around on top and she can reach pretty much anything. I’m glad I didn’t waste time babyproofing the lower parts of the house. If anything, she misses lower items (wires and electricity sockets) because they’re below her line of vision. This extra height also means she completely skipped the ways babies normally learn to descend stairways. My godbrother used to turn and get on his stomach, then slide down the carpeted stairs on his tummy feet-first. Thump-thump-thump-thump-thump. When he got older, he would booty-scoot by sitting on the top step with his feet on the step below, then carefully bringing his butt down to the step his feet are on, lowering his feet to the next step, getting to the edge of that step and sitting, then going down another step. MY kid is tall enough that she can take each step one foot at a time, so she goes up the stairs holding on to the vertical bars of the railing, putting one foot on each step, and she goes down the same way. I’d prefer her to take a step down with one foot then let the second foot join that first foot on the same step before she moves on to the next one, but she doesn’t always do that. And her legs are strong enough to support her body weight and bring herself up/down to the next step single-leggedly. Scary. When she was younger, we would let her crawl up the stairs while we stood close behind her in case of a backwards tumble, and we simply wouldn’t let her go down the stairs on her own. Now that she’s coordinated enough to go down, she totally skipped the baby methods. She actually has visible calf muscle definition. I may have wished a little too hard for her to grow up when she was an infant.

Here are two favorite videos, sent by my mom, to illustrate some of the stuff I was talking about in my last post.

This is Allie doing the slide on her own.

Photo SharingVideo SharingPhoto Printing

And this is Allie in her first co-ed soccer game with some kids from my parents’ neighborhood. (She’s the youngest one by FAR; the next one up is 3 years old.)

Photo SharingVideo SharingPhoto Printing

I found the last one HILARIOUS cuz Allie’s just following the kids running around, and at one point she gets distracted and wanders off the “field.” One of the older kids tries to get her back on track and points out the ball to her, but she doesn’t see it and goes the wrong way. And then she puts out her hands in a shrug and says, “Ball?” Like, Where’s the ball? And then she decides it’s more fun to march to the beat of her own drum anyway.

Baby-boo is 16 months old today!

We celebrated by doing one of Allie’s favorite things: taking a bike ride to the beach.

Allie loves this baby seat, the Ibert. Mr. W did a lot of research and this came highly recommended. Not bad at about $80, easy to install and to remove if Allie isn’t going to be riding with him. Her legs don’t get in the way kicking. She feels nice and secure with the snap-down bar and the straps. She loves that thing so much that the other day, when it was time to get her out of the bike, she protested, and pulled the bar back down and snapped it closed herself, holding it down with her hands so Mr. W couldn’t lift her out. He thought that was hilarious. This also gives her more visibility than pulling her in the bike trailer, and allows more interaction between the rider and the baby. The trailer is good for less ideal weather, longer rides, or multiple/bigger kids. The extra interaction is how Mr. W discovered that Allie hums when riding, and occasionally says, “Wheeee.” She also points out stuff to him as they go.

Allie vocabulary seems to have blossomed this month. She uses words we didn’t even know she knew. Walking through the garage, she pointed at our bikes mounted on the wall and said, “Bike?” We thought Jayne pointed out our bikes to her when they would leave for their stroller walks to the park by exiting the garage, but Jayne said she never did. “We see other kids ride bikes, though, and I’d tell her to look at the kids on their bikes.” Sure enough, Allie points and says “bike” whenever she sees anyone ride by on a bicycle. Earlier in the week, she pointed up and said, “Moon.” There was indeed the moon hanging in the sky. We theorize that she got that from our readings of “Goodnight, Moon,” because each time she points out the moon, it would be followed by a wave and a “bye-bye.” Riding on the bike, each time we pass a playground, she’d point and say, “Pock!” (park) and whimper in protest when we wouldn’t stop. We took her to my parents’ house this morning and she got to play most of the morning at the playground across the street from their house. When we left, she said waved at the direction of the park and said, “Bye-bye pock.” Today, she called her snack smoothie a “smeemee” and pointed whenever she was ready for more. She also says more, although it comes out more like “mo.” She attempts to emulate words more, saying “beet” when I fed her beets. She got a playful glint in her eye earlier when she emptied all the blocks out of the wooden box they come in and said, “Hat,” then turned the box upside down and put it on her head. Also today, she pointed up at the wallpaper trim of Pooh and friends in her room and said, “Pooh.” Even when she’s not talking, we’ve all been surprised recently by how much she apparently understands. “Hold on to the swing,” “throw the ball,” “put that rock over there,” “put this shirt in the hamper,” “blow a kiss,” “where’s mama’s eyebrow?”, “pick up that hat and bring it to me,” “blow this dandelion fluff.” She did it all.

In the car this morning coming home, after playing at the park, I noted the glazed look on her face and said to Mr. W, “She’s pooped.” Allie snapped out of her reverie, looked at me with a surprised expression, moved her seat belt buckle aside, pointed at her butt/diaper, and said, “Poo?” I laughed.

She takes her single nap at noonish, and we can’t figure out why she’ll sleep over 2 hours with us and about 90 minutes with Jayne. I’m thinking Jayne talks on the phone when Allie’s napping and Allie can hear it. Allie still nurses twice a day, about 10 minutes in the morning after she wakes up and 20 minutes before she goes to bed.

She’s still a mama’s girl. We took her for a quick visit to Dwaine’s before getting to my parents’ house, and as she’d only been there once, she was very shy and clung to me. We did manage to get a picture, though.

If she’s scared or hurt, dada isn’t enough, she verbally would request me. Most of the time, if she’s with Mr. W so I could get something done, I can’t walk by her without her dropping whatever she’s doing and whining until I pick her up or she gets to follow me around. I consider this only fair given that for the first almost-year of her life, she was totally daddy’s girl. As long as she’s got better things to do, however, she’ll let others watch her without me. At the playground by my parents’ house today, I wasn’t there half the time, and she had a blast playing with some other kids who were there, chasing around a ball, being pushed by grandma and grandpa on the swing, and she realized she could climb up a toddler section on her own, walk across the short platform, and sit at the edge of a small slide, push off, scoot herself off the slide the rest of the way, and get down all on her own. She’s on her way to independence.

Jayne reports that Allie is usually the best-behaved girl at the park; she’d run up to strange kids and play with them, help them put sand in their buckets, touch them and hug them. The problem are the mean kids who would push her away and the other day, Jayne let Allie crawl into a playground tunnel after a little boy, but got up to check on them, and saw the little boy in the tunnel trying to step on Allie’s fingers. Mr. W is a little concerned that because Allie doesn’t interact much with other little kids (like siblings), she doesn’t learn to be wary of kids so she’ll get abused when she eventually goes into daycare or preschool. I won’t worry about that, yet. For now, I’ll just enjoy the fact that my baby is friendly and loving and loves to help and share. She’s big enough to stand her ground if she needs to, and besides, both Dwaine and Andrae had offered to give her karate lessons when she’s older. 🙂

I was quietly hurrying down the stairs earlier (quietly because the baby and the hubby and the cat are all asleep) when a mental image popped up of me tripping on the stairs and falling down, then being unable to get back up. First thought: “How do I fall quietly so I don’t wake the baby up?” Second thought: “If I were stuck here with a broken leg, how do I get hubby to wake up and help me without waking up the baby?” Third thought: “If I were seriously injured here and needed medical attention, would I REALLY avoid calling out for help cuz I don’t want to wake the baby? Would I really just resign myself to laying here quietly hoping to be discovered soon?” I was actually stuck on that last one. So I just slowed down and walked more carefully, lest I actually have to make that decision due to carelessness.

My judge needed to work on some stuff that had an impending deadline, so he took a vacation day to come in to work. For him, this means that since he’s technically “on vacation,” he won’t be sent new hearings and he could put all his attention on the deadline stuff uninterrupted. For me, however, this means I can be floated to fill in for anyone, since my courtroom is technically “dark,” or not open for business. Usually I dread these days cuz this is how I ended up nearly locked out of the parking structure (while my car was locked in it) in Compton after hours, how I had various days from hell including this one in Torrance Court, and why I cried when I was very pregnant and I was told to take public transportation to Compton Court to fill in.

Today, however, I was floated out to a judge just upstairs in the building whom I like, and that courtroom had an easy enough morning that I was able to bring more pertinent work with me and finish it up before anything happened in that judge’s courtroom. We ended up getting a 1-count child molestation jury trial, and we started the rather difficult task of picking a jury (since this is a sensitive issues to many people). The judge in his usual style jokingly picked on me, and laughed or played along when I’d occasionally dare make a comeback comment. I had a great time, made even more interesting because at lunch, a film crew came through to film a courtroom scene segment for a program that the local law enforcement, fire department, and some parent groups were putting together for high school kids for prevention of drunk driving. This judge did a cameo, playing himself as he sentenced one of the high school kids in the hypothetical scenario they were depicting to the high-term of 10 years in state prison for vehicular manslaughter. The bailiff also did a cameo, walking in with the student in handcuffs and chains, and I was just there as a prop at the clerk’s desk so it looks like the courtroom is in full swing. I asked the director/cameraman if I could snap a photo of the behind-the-scenes as they set up a shot, and he said sure, as long as I don’t capture his bald spot. We all laughed, and I thought, “I don’t even see a bald spot.” So I took this one really quick.

It wasn’t until way later after work when I examined this photo that I realized, oops, I did what he’d told me not to do. But it’s blurry anyway.
The people were really nice, and very grateful for our allowing them to do this and for all the advisory answers we gave them to their courtroom procedure questions. The director/cameraman invited me to go down and pretend I was setting up the shot, and he took these photos on my cameraphone for me. Ah, the eye of a professional.

An artsy angle:

I’d overheard them discussing something about a verdict scene, so I asked them if they needed sample verdict language. They said they hadn’t planned to film the verdict scene today, but asked me about it and the director had the sudden inspiration of doing a voice-over of the verdicts being read while the film showed images of photos of the defendant from baby to the mess he was in now. So I typed up the two verdicts, printed 3 copies out so the production team, school and student actor could have them as souvenirs (they requested them), and the director asked me to do the voice-over for the reading of the verdicts, since it would be my job in a courtroom anyway. I went to the mike, recorded it in one take, the director was happy and excited, and even had me turn the microphone toward the crew as they stood far away so they could chorus “yes” as voice-over pretend-jurors when I asked, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, are the verdicts that I have just read, your verdicts, so say you one and so say you all?” When the production team left, they shook my hand and promised to send copies of the finished film and asked me for the T-shirt size I wear, so I guess I’m getting a thank-you gift. I wonder what would be on the shirt.

Super-fun day at work.

My parents-in-law told hubby a couple of weeks ago, “Your daughter’s making us feel guilty for not visiting, so we’re driving down to see you guys.” We had both thought they were saying the stepkidlet may have said something to them, but turns out, they meant Allie. I’ve gotten in the habit of posting an Allie pic and having “Allie” wish people happy birthday/anniversary/whatever-the-occasion on the social networking site, and both my father-in-law and mother-in-laws’ bdays were recent. As an example, this is what “Allie” posted for her grandpa on his birthday:

“Why were you hiding behind me on my birthday, grandpa? Does that mean I should go hide behind you today? Happy birthday!”

So, last Friday, they drove all the way down from Vegas just to hang out with us for 2 days before driving back Sunday morning. Saturday morning, we took Allie for her first boat ride on our Lake. It was a chilly foggy morning, but Allie still had fun exploring the party boat.
With grandma and mama.

Mr. W was excited to see these paddleboarders do their early morning yoga on the water.

Allie even got to be captain of the boat for awhile.

Allie points out ducks to grandpa.

As they got ready to leave Sunday morning, they found the time to give their youngest grandchild a little ride on her trike.

Allie: “Hey mama, did you get lots of good photos to guilt grandma and grandpa with for the next year?”
Me: “Shhh, we’re calling these photos ‘memories.’ ”
Allie: “Blackmail material, memories, potato, potahto. You and I know what’s really up.”

It was a fun visit. Grandpa kept remarking throughout the weekend, watching Allie good-naturedly go through her routines, feed herself and cleanly eat all her food and snacks, hang out with us at restaurants, take her naps and go to bed on time without fussing, “I never thought I’d believe in giving a baby set routines, but now I’m a believer. She’s something else! What you’re doing is really working. I’ve never seen a baby behave like this.” Score. Let’s hope we can keep the charade up until and through her “Terrible Twos.” Heh heh.

It’s been super-busy at work, with us being in back-to-back, slightly overlapping trials. We’re a down a couple of trial courts in the building, as with the California budget crisis, the Courts are simply shutting down the courtrooms where the bench officer retired or got transferred. The workload gets distributed to the remaining courtrooms, so that means more trials. For us, that has recently meant more criminal trials, which made me happy. Give me a simple felony any day over people whining about real estate transaction disagreements.

Our current trial and the trial immediately before this one were both gang-related multiple-defendant cases. The previous one was a gang-related murder where the defendant showed up to a friend’s friend’s family BBQ, saw a rival gang member, went to the car, grabbed a gun, returned to the BBQ, and shot the rival gang member point blank. Convicted, sentenced earlier this week to 50-years-to-life in state prison. His co-defendant, a teenage girl at the time who had handed him the gun and pushed him to do the deed, took a plea bargain for 21 years in state prison.

The current trial, in which our jury has just started deliberating, is a gang-related robbery. Four guys formed a “robbery crew” for a gang and they hit up a jewelry store and in less than a minute, walked away with over $100K of gold jewelry. They were only caught because two civilians (separately) who happened to be outside saw the guys pull masks over their faces and run in, then later run back out with guns and jump in their car, and the two called 911 and followed the car giving the dispatcher car, suspect descriptions and locations.

Both trials had gang experts testify as to the habits, tattoos, “jobs,” indicia, lifestyle of gangs.

I’ve had gang cases before, but I must not have been listening or something, because I’ve learned so much from these last 2 trials that I found myself surreptitiously studying the tattoos of people I come across at the beach or wherever, trying to figure out if these were symbolic gang tattoos. And yesterday, because Mr. W and I drove separately instead of our usual carpool commute, I got to listen to my choice of radio music, and Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” came on. It was at first nostalgic to high school, driving around in my ’86 Ford LTD, so different from my life now…and then I recognized “TEC-9” in the lyrics. That was the weapon used and recovered in the robbery case, and I hadn’t known the assault rifle was a “thing” with the gangs. The song went on and Dre rapped about the California Penal Codes 211 (robbery) and 187 (murder), the charges in my last two trials, and he went on to say “I don’t represent no gangbang.” It was in this trial that the defendant, testifying on the stand, said there’s a difference between a “gangbanger” and a “gang member.” I had always thought the two were interchangeable. So now I understand the lyrics better.

Who woulda’ thunk that my job would help me appreciate the music of my high school in a deeper way? My parents should be proud.

Almost exactly 7 years ago to the day, I gave up on a huge 6-inch avocado I’d been coveting for weeks, waiting for it to soften and ripen, and just sawed into it with a plastic utensil knife. It almost broke my knife and wouldn’t slice through, so I had to pry it open. I found the flesh totally hard and rubbery, bitter and inedible. But the white part of the seed had popped out of the brown outer shell, looking like a little brain, so I put it in a cup of water to see what would happen. I documented that here.

The little avocado brain sprouted roots in the cup, then a stem, then leaves. Almost a year later, I realized I couldn’t just have this avocado plant sitting in a plastic cup of water forever, so with some help from my court reporter, we potted it. It became sort of a courtroom mascot, healthy, straight, with very even and regular leaves.

It grew…and grew…and people came to my courtroom to see if it were really true. Did I have an avocado plant growing from the seed that I nurtured myself from “birth?” It was so healthy it was later moved to a bigger pot and couldn’t sit on the corner of my desk anymore. People coming by asked me when we could expect avocado fruit. I didn’t know, so I asked around, and learned that there’s a “female” avocado type and a “male” avocado type, and the two need to cross-pollinate so ideally, the two would be in a grove close together with bees traveling between the two trees’ flowers. I don’t have a grove, so my dad came up with a different solution after asking a botanically-gifted buddy of his: grafting.

In the meantime, Mr. W and I got married in 2008, moved into our new house, brought the little avocado tree (it was a skinny little tree by this time) with us, and eventually planted it into our backyard.

And then 6 more years later, we finally did it! My dad came over on Sunday and did some magic with a sprig of avocado he’d collected from his buddy’s tree and left at our house to acclimate to the environment for a few months. My little avocado tree, now taller than I am and with branches, all sturdy (but still skinny) in the backyard, is no longer a virgin. My reporter and I had always referred to the tree as “he,” since the energy felt like a little boy to us, and as my dad prepared to graft, he observed that there are FINALLY flowers on the tips of the branches/sprigs. The only way to tell male from female types are from the flowers; the female flowers have a small “bud” at the base of the flower and the male does not. The avocado tree is MALE, just like we thought. (Maybe I should name him Riley.)

So now the female branch in its own little pot is bonded to the male branch. Dad is keeping the pot intact to lessen the shock and to increase chances of the branch’s survival. He’ll check back on it in a week but meantime, we were instructed to keep the little branch watered. If the graft “takes,” I guess he’ll trim the grafted part off the plant. I think.

I hope we can get a few avocados out of my plant son before Mr. W makes us move out-of-state.

After Allie woke up from her long nap on Sunday, I thought I’d introduce peanut butter to her, as she’d been eating so well and is now well past the recommended age of 12 months for trying peanuts, a high-allergen food. So for her afternoon snack, I spread some all-natural, no-sugar-added organic peanut butter on a slice of sprouted whole grain bread, and started giving her pieces. She seemed to enjoy it, although she did need to chug a bit of milk during the snack. I didn’t give her the whole slice, and she had the equivalent of maybe a teaspoon of peanut butter, when I decided that was enough fat and carbs for now and switched her to some cut melon. Mr. W winked at Allie, and she in turn clenched both eyes, then put her index finger into her left eye, which Mr. W laughed at, thinking she was trying to wink one eye but unable to do so without some help from her finger. Allie was a few pieces into the melon when she started pulling the melon out of her mouth, refusing to eat any more. She kept digging her fingers and fists into her left eye, which had gotten red, and my attempts to get her to stop just make her fussy. I was observing her closely for peanut allergies, and noted two or three small red bumps appear on her chin. I fed her water, concluded snacktime and asked Mr. W to help clean up her hands and face while I cleared the table and washed her dishes. I noticed her left eye was now swollen, watery and red, but it may have been Allie digging her fingers in there that caused it.

Soon my parents came over for their weekend visit, and Allie’s mood was good as she ran around playing with them. I saw a tiny white bump on her temple, like a bug bite. Soon I noticed another on her cheek, then on her neck. In another half hour, the raised bumps were everywhere I could see skin, surrounded by redness, and Allie was absently scratching her ribs. Mr. W stripped her to check her body, and with horror we saw that the bumps and the red rash were on her neck, torso, back. Her ears were also growing red, as with her cheeks where more bumps had appeared.

I got Allie’s medical card and dialed the number for the advice nurse. While I was lost in the maze of push-button options, my mom noted that Allie’s hands were growing pink and swollen. The rash grew and spread, the pink parts getting pinker. Mr. W bolted out the door to the store for Children’s Benadryl. I had finally gotten through the phone options to be put on hold for a live person, so I put the phone on speaker and set it on the desk, then went to my daughter who was now crying for mama. As soon as I was with her, she was fine, and I made sure she wasn’t having respiratory issues or other signs of discomfort. So far the only symptoms were the bumps, redness, and swelling of hands, feet and ears.

Mr. W soon returned with the Benadryl and I was finally on the line with a live advice nurse after 15 minutes of being on hold. She had me check for signs of fever, lethargy, disorientation, breathing difficulty, oral swelling, behavioral change. They were all negative. She told me I could go ahead and administer 3/4 teaspoons of the Children’s Benadryl to help alleviate the rash but that it could take up to an hour to take effect and it could also make Allie drowsy. Since the bumps had already flattened and all that remained was the pinkness around where the bumps used to be, I decided to let nature run its course instead of drugging Allie unnecessarily. She definitely didn’t seem uncomfortable. When the nurse ended the call, she told me to call back or bring Allie to a doctor if the rash deepens to red or purple with pinhead-sized red dots, and to not feed Allie peanut butter anymore. Of course, not. Never, ever, ever, I vowed, only half-jokingly.

We carried on as normal and about 45 minutes later, I fed her dinner. For Allie’s dessert, I fed her the pieces of the yellow-skinned, white-fleshed melon imported from Brazil that she didn’t finish while having her peanut butter and bread snack earlier. This time she ate it without protest, but a few pieces in, within a minute after she started the melon, her ears flamed red and swelled to the point where the outer ridge was barely discernable, her hands and feet swelled and got pink and hot wrist- and ankle-down, bumps appeared around her neckline with a vengeance, her cheeks flushed. She started digging her fists into her eyes again, rubbing violently. Both eyelids swelled. I immediately pulled her out of the high chair and said to Mr. W, “It’s the melon! It’s the melon!” We fed her water, and Mr. W immediately administered the Benadryl. She sucked on the oral syringe playfully, but as soon as she tasted it she gagged. Some of it dripped out onto her shirt as she whimpered, but the swallowed most of it. We checked her body again, and saw that her entire torso was flushed hot pink down into her diaper area, which we also examined and saw that it looked like she had a diaper rash (altho her skin wasn’t sensitive the way it is when she gets a diaper rash), one that went all the way down to her lower inner thighs nearly to her knees. She was also red behind the knees, inside her elbows, under her arms. Behavior-wise, she again acted indifferent to the changes.

45 minutes to an hour later, Allie was much better and there was only mild pinkness around her cheeks and the areas that sustained the most severe rashes, and her bumps were gone. Allie nursed at bedtime and fell asleep, and slept through the night as usual. Mr. W recalled that the bumps I’d initially noticed on her chin during snacktime had appeared when she took her first bite of the melon and the juice dribbled down her chin, so he also thinks it’s the melon.

“What kind of melon IS that?” people wanted to know when I relayed the story. I don’t know; it was something we bought in an international grocery market Friday evening and all the sticker label said was “melon” and that it was imported from Brazil, and that it was ready to eat and delicious. The flesh inside was similar to that of honeydew, but whiter and less sweet. The yellow-skinned melon she had twice on Saturday without issue, but the third time on Sunday she reacted within half an hour, and the 4th (and last) time, within a minute. Crazy! I should’ve followed the 3-day rule when I introduced this melon, but because she’s never had a food allergy problem before, and also because has eaten similar melons (honeydew and cantaloupe even the day before) without issue, I really thought it’d be fine. So now even though we suspect the melon, I guess I don’t know that it wasn’t somehow peanut-related as well or in addition.

I’ll try the skin-contact allergy test at some point, I suppose. I feel bad doing it so soon after her reaction, so maybe I’ll wait a few more days, then rub some melon on her skin and see if there’s an eruption. And maybe a month later, I’ll rub some peanut butter on her skin. We’re hoping it’s the melon and not peanut butter, because it’s certainly easier to avoid exotic melons than to avoid peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter, etc. *sigh*

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