A Journey of Hope

The chemicals in our lives

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Baby, Life

When I was growing up in China in the 1980s and early 1990s, I was exposed to a lot of things, mostly dirt and bacteria — but also lead. Yes, I liked eating paint chips as a kid, and lead paint is a major source of lead exposure for children. Looking back, I guess I was lucky that it didn’t affect me too adversely.

Even though I was fond of makeup and lipstick as a little girl, I had heard my relatives talk about how there were poisons in them. Maybe because that stuck with me, or maybe it’s because makeup always made me feel gross and uncomfortable, but I never liked wearing makeup. I didn’t use many cosmetic products, and I still don’t to this day. No foundation, no powder, no eyeliner, no mascara, no hair sprays, no hair dyes, and no perfume. I don’t even wear deodorants, because I don’t sweat much and don’t get stinky. The ex liked for me to wear nail polish, but after some time, I stopped doing that, too.

After doing some research, I have come to realize that this was a good thing. The beauty and cosmetic industry is rather ugly. There is plenty of evidence showing that low-dose exposures to toxic chemicals cause serious long term health effects. Unlike food and drugs, cosmetics can make it to the counter without pre-approval, and existing regulations don’t do that much. Many chemicals are unstudied and unregulated, and there are lots of ingredients that are legal in the US but banned elsewhere. And, as it turns out, there is lead in lipstick!

It’s not just cosmetics, but many household products like air fresheners, cleaning solutions, and mattresses, particularly memory foam. The first toxic ingredient listed for memory foam, Tributyltin, has been shown to lead to obesity for multiple generations. Any time “fragrance” is listed in the ingredient list, it should set off alarm bells. Fragrance can mean any number of chemicals, which can be endocrine disrupting, allergenic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, obesogenic, and cause a host of health issues.

It now makes total sense to me why when I was pregnant, everything smelled horrible to me and gave me such nauseating headaches. As a pregnant woman, I was smelling chemicals in ways that I never could before. Furniture stores were the worst, but everything from car exhaust fumes (which have been linked to premature births, behavior problems and childhood cancers) to other people’s perfumes would have me covering my nose and trying to breathe shallowly through the hopelessly useless filter of tissue paper. When we had bought a memory foam mattress, I hated the smell of it, and I would refuse to sleep on it. It made me feel sick, even though it was long past the time of morning sickness. Now I see that those things really were poisonous, and my body was desperately trying to tell me that I needed to get away from them.

So it is not enough that we have gone BPA-free (BPA is associated with cancer, insulin resistance, and birth defects) and can-free (the linings of cans, such as canned soda and canned foods, is made up of BPA) in our household. I now intend to switch our soaps, lotions, shampoos and other personal care products to ones that are free of fragrances and other nasty chemicals. The only way this seems to be possible is to go natural.

Natural has become almost a passé word, associated with hippies and worthy of derision. But the more I research into this subject, the more that I realize going natural is safer and better. There’s also no reason to even buy the expensive products from companies that claim to be all-natural and organic. Just buy the raw ingredients and either mix or apply directly. For the longest time I was afraid of oil on my face because I was prone to acne, but now I’m putting extra virgin olive oil and sweet almond oil on my skin, and my skin is loving it. I also got shea butter, coconut oil, and frankincense essential oil. These oils contain essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins that the body loves, both inside and out.

On the subject of acne, something that has plagued me for a long time, and would come back when I was going through hormone changes such as in pregnancy, I have discovered more than I have known in years. Apparently, all of the acne “solutions” use salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These chemicals dry the crap out of skin, which leads to the skin freaking out and producing more oil. On and on the cycle goes, inducing people to buy more of these chemical-filled products to dry out the skin even more. The solution is not less oil, but more oil — shea butter and other less comedogenic oils mixed with zinc oxide would be far more effective.

I am still learning a ton in this transition to more raw and natural personal care products. I find that many of the pre-packaged “natural” products, which often still contain numerous artificial chemicals, are marked up to insane prices, so it’s much better and cheaper to just get the raw ingredients. If nothing else, changing from products that are filled with chemicals and substances to ingredients that are safe enough to eat like olive oil and baking soda makes me feel better about the things that I’m letting near our baby boy.

Thoughts on thoughts

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Hope, Life

I have been in a bit of a slump lately. I have been harboring this deep sense of boredom or dissatisfaction, and I know it is all internal.

Externally and objectively, everything is great. Aidan is no longer sick all the time, he is growing and developing well, and he is almost a year old. My husband is awesome, we love each other, and we connect with each other often. I can’t complain about my life, really, and I know that I should be grateful for all that we have.

So what could be wrong? As Aidan turns one, I will be turning 30 shortly thereafter. I will be leaving my 20s behind, and despite what my logical side tells me, despite the fact that I’m eating well, exercising plenty and sleeping enough again, I feel like I’m aging, which makes me more vain and wishing to hold onto my youth.

Being Asian and petite, I’ve always looked younger than my age. I was an ugly duckling, a late bloomer. When I was a teenager, I looked childish. When I was 25, I was mistaken for being in my teens. But lately I notice every little thing, from frown lines to less elastic skin. I started researching anti-aging serums, buying essential oils, and even wearing sunscreen all the time, something that I never did before despite knowing the benefits. Taking better care of myself is a good thing, but I still feel silly.

Today my husband sent me this article, and I realize that I’ve been going about this all wrong. Not only can my thoughts affect my desires, emotional states, motivations and goals, thoughts can shape my physical states as well, in affect creating my “reality.”

I began thinking about how I’ve been trying to get back to my art project again, and how I haven’t been motivated to do much because I believe I’m not very good at it. But when I was taking art classes in high school, my teachers thought I was amazing, and so I liked the art I produced back then and thought I was pretty good. My husband points out that I have lived most of my life being told that I was worthless and having my self-esteem driven into the ground, so I hold on to any excuse I can to make myself feel bad, even though I’m actually quite good.

I am my own worst critic, and even my perfectionistic streak is self-referential — I wish I was more perfect and less perfectionist. When I copy a picture, I don’t feel like that’s being creative. But my husband points out that creativity is mostly building on top of what has come before; the innovation is in the context and details. I suppose in a way, we’re all copying “reality.”

Another thing I took away from the article is that thoughts are powerful:

Expectancies, such as expecting that one’s work will bring about health benefits, are capable of producing physiological outcomes. Learned associations, such as the association between being an Air Force pilot and having good vision, can alter other cognitive processes, such as visual perception. Meanwhile, placebo effects observed in clinical research work via expectancies and learned associations created by fake operations, sham drugs, etc. Such expectancies and learned associations have been shown to change the chemistry and circuitry of the brain. These changes may result in such physiological and cognitive outcomes as less fatigue, less immune system reaction, elevated hormone levels, and less anxiety.

I know this from my own life. For example, I’ve trained myself to “believe” that I don’t need caffeine, as I haven’t consumed caffeinated drinks in almost a decade, not even when I was incredibly sleep-deprived after Aidan was born. Therefore my body literally does not need it. I also “believe” that I am living healthily, by choosing homecooked meals, exercising frequently, forgoing junk food and harsh chemicals, and having a good daily routine. So I generally feel physically balanced.

As the article said, “If mindsets can change us, maybe we can deliberately choose our mindsets to improve our abilities.” In other words, negative thinking is unproductive, and I need to take my own advice to choose positivity more often. I am strong and capable, and I have the ability to do what I put my mind to do. Besides, I still have 7 or so opportunities to accomplish something.

Aidan is 11 months old

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Baby, Parenthood

Aidan is 11 months old today, just one month away from his first birthday. It almost doesn’t seem possible that he’s so big already.

He is getting close to walking, able to walk quite far with assistance, but not walking on his own yet. His grandfather got him a little toy walker that he can push around to practice walking, and he took to that almost immediately. In fact the same day he got it, he started half-running, making adorable little grunts and squeals as he went.

Sometimes it is still a struggle to get him to sleep through the night, but he is constantly growing and changing, and what worked the previous month, week or day may not work now. We’ve had some rough nights, but most of the time he sleeps pretty well, going to sleep between 8 to 9 PM and waking up between 8 to 9 AM.

All in all, he is a very good baby with a happy temperament. The ladies at daycare tell me that he is such a happy baby, and I said that he had been sick almost the whole time he was there. They said it’s hard to imagine him even happier. Well, he is happier now that he isn’t terribly sick, and his sweet little personality is shining through. He will play by himself and play with us, giggle, laugh and smile, and come up to ask for a hug, then go back to playing.

It’s hard not to love such an adorable little baby boy!

10 month old baby boy!

Baby, Parenthood

Aidan is 10 months old now, and he is growing so much. He has said “mama” and likes to say “baba,” “dada, “wa” and some other syllables. He likes to stand and cruise around furniture, and can hold himself up for longer periods of time. He can feed himself using his thumb and forefinger to pick up cereal and other small foods and put them in his mouth. He had gotten two upper front teeth, and then a few days later we noticed he got two more sets of teeth on both the upper and lower, so a total of eight teeth. That’s a lot of teeth!

Now that he is not miserable with illnesses all the time, he has returned to being a happy and sweet baby boy. He has such a wonderful little personality, and he is developing more of a sense of humor. Over Fourth of July weekend, my husband’s extended family was in town, and they got to meet Aidan. They all remarked on how adorable and great he is. Aidan would smile, giggle and be a little charmer, flirting with random strangers and familiar people alike. I was a little proud that he was not fussy or a crybaby for all that time.

Often I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing as a new parent. He seems to be growing and doing well, and that has been reassuring. Hopefully he continues to learn and thrive going into his first birthday.

As an aside, 157 years ago today, Nikola Tesla was born.

Aidan’s first, second and third sickness

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Baby, Parenthood

So in just this month, Aidan has been sick with the cold virus three different times already. The first time he caught it at the lady that we had been going to, who has only four kids. He gave my husband and me that cold, but we all got over it in about a week. A few days of ibuprofen, snot, misery and middle-of-the-night wakings. Okay. Nothing we can’t handle.

Then he got sick again almost as soon as he got into the daycare at my work, which has a lot more kids. It was probably the water day with all the water splashing that did it, but regardless, he came down with a miserable cold and gave it to us again. This time, I didn’t do too badly, but it lingered for both Aidan and my husband. Aidan had started to get better, but then got worse. He would scream for a long time when I was driving and be very fussy at night, but the rest of the time he was well-behaved and didn’t cry much.

After about a week, he started getting a low grade fever again, and we began suspecting a secondary bacterial infection. I made an appointment with the pediatrician, who wanted to check him before prescribing antibiotics. When I was in the pediatrician’s office, I thought to myself that it might have all been a waste of time, since Aidan seemed fine. When the pediatrician came in, Aidan was giving him smiles and not showing signs of being sick, aside from lots of snot trails coming out of his nose. The pediatrician, who is the one that regularly sees us, said that Aidan was a “good-looking little guy” and told me that he was “handsome,” which he had never said before. He then mentioned that it could just be another viral infection. But when he examined in Aidan’s ears, he said, “Well, he has ear infections in both ears. Time to put him on antibiotics.” The infections were apparently quite severe, too, and the pediatrician said that it was a testament to Aidan’s personality that he still was smiling and seemed happy.

So we put Aidan on Amoxicillin, a very common, Penicillin-based antibiotic, and started giving him some ear-numbing topical gels. He started being a little less fussy at night, and I was hopeful that within a few days he would be better. Unfortunately, on Saturday, day four of being the antbiotic, Aidan broke out in big, red, angry-looking hives all over the trunk of his body, neck, armpits, belly, and the inside of his elbows and knees. At first we thought it was a normal Amoxicillin rash, but then upon further research I thought it might be an allergic reaction. I gave him some children’s Benadryl and called the pediatrician on-call, who fortunately happened to be our regular pediatrician. He agreed that it sounded like an allergy, told us to stop the Amoxicillin and prescribed a different antibiotic called Cefdinir.

That was two days ago, and Aidan’s sinuses still show no signs of letting up. He now has diarrhea and stomach upset from the new antibiotics. He has another low-grade fever of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not dangerous but still concerning. He probably also has yet another cold virus that is making him miserable, and his ear infection doesn’t seem to be getting much better. I feel so bad for our poor little baby boy, and it is so scary for him to be sick for this long. I also feel like I’m a bad mother for having him in daycare that he is catching all of these viruses, and the fact that he is not able to nap well at this new daycare. Sometimes, I feel really guilty for being a working mother. I hope he gets better soon, for all of our sakes.

Nine months

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Baby, Life, Parenthood

Aidan is now nine months old. I’m barely able to keep up with all of the changes from day-to-day, nevermind from month-to-month!

He is definitely gaining personality along with mobility, and he definitely has his likes and dislikes. Whereas when he first began eating solids, he didn’t appreciate the taste of fruit at all, now he is all about the sweet stuff and doesn’t want the veggies much anymore. He also loves cords, remote controls, and anything that he can get ahold of to chew and teeth on. I have decided that maybe a little bit of dirt won’t hurt him, and I’ve relaxed about him roaming around on the floor and licking things that have recently touched the ground.

These days he is no longer saying “dada” a lot, but saying “baba” and other varied syllables. We think he is definitely trying to communicate, but we can’t really understand him except by tone. He is also pulling up to a stand easily and sometimes cruises along things. He also tries to take little steps, but he is still hesitant. It won’t be long now before he starts walking, which is a new level of scary. The other day he actually made his way up one of the small steps, then fell backwards and started crying. Those types of things are probably going to increase in frequency soon.

We got a “new” used car for me, and I’m slowly getting used to it. Aidan also started at a new daycare, as my work’s daycare finally has a spot open, which was unexpected. I had put our name on the waiting list ever since we found out at around 5 or 6 weeks, so we’ve been waiting for about a year and half. That did mean that Aidan had to stop going to the lady that we had been going to, and she had bonded to Aidan a lot. It was emotional for all of us, but we’ll still see her at least once a month, since she has agreed to do some babysitting.

The first few days at the new daycare were a bit rough, and he didn’t nap at all. He also seemed to have had a little bit of separation anxiety. In the short term it was a difficult decision to move him, but in the long run I think it will be good for him. It is very close to both of our workplaces and takes kids up to 5 years of age and pre-kindergarten. They have teachers that are specialized in young children’s education, and many of my coworkers have had kids there and speak highly of them.

Oh, and his pediatrician’s check-up for 9 months went quite well. He is apparently under 50th percentile for weight, but around 75% percentile for length or height, which means he’s a “skinny” baby. I don’t think he’s skinny at all, what with his double/triple chin and little chubby thighs, but apparently other babies these days are huge. I’ll have to feed him more, I guess!

Aidan is 8 months old and a little mover!

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Baby, Life, Parenthood

Aidan is 8 months old day, and he has been a busy little guy lately. During these past weeks he had been working up to crawling, and then in the last week while my mother-in-law was here, he made some big breakthroughs as she has been teaching and encouraging him to crawl. Whereas before he was struggling to move a few inches, he is now moving around the floor like a big boy and getting into more trouble.

He is incredibly adorable when he is crawling, making excited noises and looking happy as he gets around. He is also pulling up on furniture and trying to stand, so maybe not too long from now he will be standing and walking. The other major development is that he is saying “dada,” which seems to be his favorite phrase as he says “dada…da da dada” over and over again. He hasn’t really said “mama” yet, but that’s okay. The good thing is that he seems to be understanding us a bit more and is gaining more linguistic acuity.

These days he is eating a lot more solids, but he’s drinking a bit less milk and seems to dislike it now, which makes me a little sad. But he is still gaining weight well and was 18.5 pounds last time we checked. He is teething and drooling a lot, and probably working on his upper two sets of front teeth, and so in the evenings he is often fussy and unhappy. Still most of the time he sleeps well at night, which has been wonderful.

Aside from that, I’ve been somewhat stressed out about money. Two weeks ago I got into a car accident when someone turned left in front of me at a yellow light, and I did not have enough time to stop. Fortunately Aidan was not in the car with me. The cop that came to the scene of the accident ruled it the other driver’s fault, but the insurance did a split negligence at 80% his and 20% mine. The car was totaled, but it was a rather old 1998 Subaru, and we were planning on getting another car when we paid off the newer Subaru. That just happened to be sooner than we had planned, which means two car payments.

Regardless, I’m grateful that I walked away from the accident without injury, and just a few days of whiplash, neck pain and headaches. It was terrifying, but it’s a reminder that I need to drive more carefully and pay more attention. Even if I don’t do anything reckless, I still need to watch out for other people.

Weird stuff about kids, round two

Life, Parenthood, Spirituality

There’s another another reddit thread from 9 months ago similar to the one here that is also pretty interesting. Some highlights:

Getting my two and a half year old daughter out of the bath one night, my wife and I were briefing her on how important it was she kept her privates clean. She casually replied “Oh, nobody ‘scroofs’ me there. They tried one night. They kicked the door in and tried but I fought back. I died and now I’m here.” She said this like it was nothing. My wife and I were catatonic.

The rare occasions in which small children have alluded to having violent experiences that led to previous deaths freak me the fuck out.

The most detailed one I ever heard was actually delivered second-hand through my friend’s mother. Apparently beginning around the time my friend could form sentences until he was little more than 2, he would go on and on about how he was a Native American named Conchon and that after his wife and son got sick and died, he moved to a mountain to live by himself with his horse. He died of a broken neck when he fell into a ravine. Weird shit, man.

One of the common things (who was that famous researcher at harvard who did all the hypnosis?) is really young children remembering past lives. I used to not buy into all that, but now I’m not sure.

A kid up the block who’s only 5 remembed a past life where he claimed his house caught fire, and he died when he was a teenager. Sure enough a little digging we found the story and he was able to tell us things that we could ONLY find on the public library microfilm.

My son was two. He was in a pattern of waking us up at about 5:00 am every morning. One morning I took him downstairs and plopped him in front of the TV so I could try to go back to sleep for about 30 minutes on the couch (right by him).

I woke up a few minutes later and he was standing in the foyer, pointing into the kitchen, laughing. He then said, “Mommy is floating in the kitchen.”

I didn’t think much of it…went back to sleep for a bit.

About 30 minutes later his mom came downstairs having just woken up, saying she “had one of those weird dreams where she flew out of her body, went downstairs and found herself in the kitchen.”

My great grandfather died, and because I was so young no one told me. My mom took me to his grave a few weeks after it happened, and let me play amongst the gravestones while she lay flowers. As we were leaving, I stopped and asked “why is great grandpa sitting in the tree?” I then pointed to what appeared to my mom as an empty tree, and waved. The tree was planted so the branches hung right above where he was buried. TL; DR: Pointed out my great grandfather to my mother without knowing he had died.

When my nephew was 3 or 4, he would stare at the window in my parents’ kitchen. One day, my mom asked him what he was looking at, and he said, “When I lived here before, my name was Alphonse, and I was bigger than you.” My mom was slightly creeped out and eventually told my stepdad. My stepdad just kind of blinked and said, “Hmm. That was my grandfather’s name, but we don’t talk about him.”

I’ve been trying to remember the details but I just can’t. Basically when I was about 6/7 I went through a phase like this. Kept telling my parents I used to be a woman, they thought I was gay. I was having half memories of things. Probably just the mind playing tricks, but it was creepy how real it seemed.

As someone who frequently gave details of a past life, I can confirm I have absolutely no recollection of the life I supposedly lived before this one, but I do remember one time when I was about five giving a detailed story of being a viking executing someone. I used to always give very detailed stories of when I ‘was a viking on the ship’ and they always went together. I said that I was part of the same family and what not. Later found out that my family actually was vikings hundreds of years ago, and the names I gave were real people. Again, I have absolutely no memories of the viking days, just the one time I told the story.

The interesting thing that he noted is that all these children claimed to have died from freak accidents. According to what my dad believes, he claims that a child will remember his past life more vividly if the person beforehand died suddenly. When someone ages and dies peacefully, in most cases their memory is already gone (ie. Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc) so the next life (the child) really doesn’t have any specific memory…just thought I’d share! It’s truly an interesting phenomenon, especially in cases where young children are talking about things they have never been exposed to before.

[This one made me laugh] You call them fantasies. Maybe the “white light at the end of the tunnel” is the opening of your next mothers vag

Do you believe in life before life?

Life, Parenthood, Spirituality

I’ve been reading this thread on reddit today, and I am fascinated by the stories. There are lots of ghost and supernatural stories, and though they could be totally made up, it’s still fun to think about how we come to this reality as souls/entities and choose our bodies.

Aidan likes to stare off into space a lot of times, and when I mentioned this, my mother-in-law said that many young kids are supposedly able to “see” more things than adults see. It is like their separation from the veil is less strong, and they are not as strongly tied to the “physical” world as grown-ups are.

These are some of the comments that caught my eye:

When I was a kid “Mr. Rand” used to come into my room 4 or 5 times a week. He’d talk to me and tell me about ‘stuff’ and how he was killed in WW2. See Ol’ mate Rand was a figment of my 4 year old imagination. Any way one day when I was 9 or so Mr. Rand stopped showing up.

Fast forward to about 3 years ago and my son, who is about 5 at the time, walks out of his room one night at about 11:30and says there’s a man in his room. I flip out And run in his room to find nobody to which he then says “Mr. Rand said you can’t see him anymore, but he’s ok!”. The kids got his own imaginary mate called Mr. Rand, but they only chat once or twice a year.

[Later] Mr. Rand died on 5th Feb 1942 – we both agree. Cats are the devils advocate(ammo’cap – is how my son said it), Mr. Rand said the same to me too, me and the young Lad both like cats.

Mr. Rand woke me up one night I swear to you I saw him clear as if he was real. Standing beside my bed. I reached out to touch him and got naught but the cold night air in my bedroom. He hung out almost every night for ages, then one night nothing. I remember we spoke about death one night, that was a strange conversation.

My daughter keeps telling me stories about when she was big and I was little. She talks about taking care of me when I was little.

Probably just a kid being a kid.

My older sister was born the year my Dad’s mom died. According to my dad, as soon as my sister was old enough to say the words, she said “I am your mother.”

When I was about 3 or 4 I would tell my dad stories about how I was good friends with his grandfather. I provided names and traits that had never been said around me before. I also claimed to have ghost brothers who were buried in a cemetery we often drove past.

When I was young, like maybe two years old, my grandma was in the hospital, dying of cancer. Obviously i had no idea what was going on, but apparently one day when my mother and aunt were watching me, I suddenly looked at them and said “Only one Grandma”

they kept trying to convince me otherwise, that no, i had two grandmas, but I kept repeating that line over and over

Then the phone rang. It was my uncle calling to tell my mother that my grandma had passed a few minutes ago

My brother had a similar experience as a child. We had gone to visit my grandparents earlier in the day and everything was fine. When it was time to go to bed my brother, he was about 5 at the time, started crying and saying he wanted to “talk to Papa because he’s sick”. My mom and dad kept assuring him that he was fine as we were just over there earlier in the day. My brother wouldn’t stop screaming so my mom called my grandparents. My grandma was awake and said my grandpa was asleep but she decided to take the phone into his room so he could talk to my grandpa. When she went in to the room my grandpa was unresponsive and had just had a heart attack. Fortunately for him my psycho brother knew somehow and he was able to survive. That was 23 years ago and my grandpa just passed 2 years ago.

Not any relation to me, but I used to go to this family run comic book shop. The owner who I was close friends with had a few kids the oldest of which was about 5 or 6 at the time. Some of my friends and I had just moved the shop to a new location in the historical part of the city. We were putting some stuff in the finished basement. There was a door that lead to an unfinished tunnel that went on for a very long time. It was very old and dark and creepy with a single light bulb. My friend’s son says, “That’s where the ghosts live” and his father said “There’s no ghosts in there!” The kid just looks at his father, stone cold serious and replies, “They’re in there…you just can’t see ‘em…” My friend and I looked at each other and chuckled nervously.

When I was about 5ish my dads cousin shot his 7 year old son and then shot himself (his wife filed for divorce and wanted custody of their son and he went crazy). Well after this happened my dad and his brothers had to clean out their cousins house. Since I was the youngest one at the time they all decided, “Oh! Jess should get this dead child’s toys! That’s great!”

So I ended up with one of those Little Tikes outdoor play castle. You know the one that was like a little plastic castle tower and you could sit inside? Sucha cool fort.

Anyway, The one day I was sitting inside the tower part and my mom was on the deck and she heard me talking to myself. So she comes over and asks who I’m talking to this time (I had a lot of imaginary friends). I told her I was talking to the little boy whose castle it was and told him not to cry because my mommy could be his mommy. My mom promptly had my dad throw the castle out.

TL;DR – I told my mom that a dead little boy would be her child now too.

Edit – Heres another fun part of the story! When my dad was packing the boys stuffed animals and stuff into his truck to bring them for donation, he heard a little boys voice say, “What are you doing with my toys?” Now my dad is the manliest man I’ve ever met and he said that he got freaked out by the voice because it was so clear. You’d think this would be a good sign to not give me any of his toys.

My mother took my son to an antique car show; I think he was maybe 3 or 4 at the time. He looked at a Model T Ford and said “My brother had one of those!”. He doesn’t have a brother.

When I was little (so young I don’t remember it, but I had just started talking), my parents were watching something on tv or something (like I said, I don’t remember, this is just what I’ve been told) and I was playing on my own not really paying attention. My dad said something like “Hey, look at that old record player!”, to which I responded “That’s not a record player. That’s a gramophone.” My mom asked me how I knew that, and I casually replied “I used to have one” and went back to playing with my alphabet blocks or whatever.

Between the ages of two and six my son would tell me the same story of how he picked me to be his mother. He said something about being with a man in a suit and picking a mother that would help him accomplish his souls mission (I’m atheist, so we didn’t discuss spirituality at that point, nor was he raised in any sort of religious environment). The way he described it was that it was similar to grocery shopping, that he was in a bright room with people who were lined up like dolls, and that he picked me. The man in the suit asked him if he was sure, he replied that he was, and then he was born.

My son also had an early fascination with WWII era planes. He could identify them, their parts, what region they were used in and the like. I still have no idea where he got that information. I’m a science gal, his dad is a math guy.

We have always called him “Grandpa” because of his peaceful and gingerly demeanor. This kid seriously has an old soul.

7 months Aidan boy

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Baby, Life

Aidan is now 7 months old, and he is growing well, getting better with his hands and eating lots of solid foods. He has a voracious appetite and likes to drink over 35 ounces a day on top of at least a jar or two of baby food. That also means he tends to still wake up once or twice a night to feed. It is normal according to what I’ve read, but it has caused some issues.

Just a few days ago I came down with full-blown mastitis that caught me by total surprise. Pumping had been going well, and I thought that my schedule of pumping three times a day with over 30 ounces was great. What I had read about mastitis was that it was much more common during the first month postpartum. But then just before Aidan turned 7 months, I came down with awful flu-like symptoms of chills, fever, body aches and intense pain in my right breast. My fever spiked above 100 degrees even with ibuprofen, and I had to go to urgent care the next day to get some antibiotics.

The cause was probably a combination of disrupted sleep, my hormones changing, feeling exhausted, fatigued and stressed a lot, as well as my carelessness in not checking for plugged ducts and not being very careful about bacteria entering my body. It was extremely painful to get that lump out, and for a while there I was worried it was going to turn into an abscess. After lots of heat and pressure and increased pumping, every 3-5 hours instead of 6-8 hours, I finally managed to get over most of the symptoms.

Now I’m re-evaluating my original plan to pump for the long term, but I don’t want to deprive our boy of the benefits of breastmilk. I would have to supplement with formula, and it is not something I wanted to do. I do know that my husband was breastfed for 6 months then weaned onto formula, and he is just fine. Maybe I’m just having a ton of mommy guilt. We are not getting the “full experience” of breastfeeding since I am only pumping and bottle-feeding the milk, and maybe that is why I feel more ambivalent about it. But I was proud of the fact that I could satisfy our baby’s hunger and didn’t have to give up on it altogether. In any case, I’ll give it another month or two and see how I feel then.