When it comes to germs, are you a pacifist or warmonger?

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a live and let live kinda girl – a pacifist if you will. For the most part that philosophy carries over to germs too. I don’t obsessive-compulsively clean my house (ha! far from it.). I don’t carry around antibacterial hand sanitizer. I don’t worry about my kids washing their hands after playing outside. I don’t balk about them being around another kid with the sniffles. I don’t buy antibacterial soap (although it’s almost impossible to find one that’s not these days!), nor do I own a bottle of Lysol. I figure it’s good for their immune systems to be challenged (in moderation) on a regular basis so that they build up immunities and their bodies learn how to fight infection. Heck, even the New York Times agrees A Little Dirt is Good for You (a very interesting read by the way).

Photo courtesy of hoyasmeg
Photo courtesy of hoyasmeg

For the most part, we live pretty healthy lives. Sure we get a cold every now and then, but true knock-you-on-your-butt-kind-of-illnesses are pretty rare in this house. That is until a couple of weeks ago.

A little over two weeks ago Ava started out with a cough, congestion and runny nose and a few days later the rest of us followed suit. Runny, stuffy noses, coughs, and the phlegm, oh, the phlegm! I ended up having to go to the doctor because the mucus I was trying to cough up was so thick it was lodging in my throat and I was having serious difficulty breathing. (How’s that for anxiety producing?! Like I needed help in that regard.) I started taking a prescribed drug to help thin up my mucus and began drinking a whole lot more water. I also took some homeopathic and herbal remedies (Cold Care, Kick-Ass Immune Activator, and Lymph Mover, just to name a few), as well as gave some to the kids (Elderberry Syrup, Cough Control, Sinus Relief). Jody (who’s not as concerned about treating himself using natural remedies) started on his own regimen of OTC (over the counter) meds. We also cut dairy out of our diets, were taking our vitamins and probiotics, drinking tons of tea and water as well as some fruit and veggie smoothies and kombucha, and even trying hot toddies (Jody and I, not the kids). Nobody was showing signs of getting better. There’s nothing like waking up day after day expecting to feel some improvement, like you are finally on the road to recovery, and then realizing you feel just as crappy and worn down as the day before. It gets old.

Finally, after two weeks of coughing and a runny nose, Ava is mostly recovered. Jody, Julian and I however are still fighting it and, on top of the crud, Jody and Julian developed the stomach flu today. (!!!) Nothing like getting hit when you’re down, eh? Ugh. But Ava’s recovery gives me hope that the other three of us will, at some point, hopefully in the next few days (pretty please??), recover from it too (and also reassures me that it’s likely a viral infection – which is what my doctor suspected – and not bacterial so antibiotics would be useless at this point).

This is, by far, the worst and longest we’ve all been sick at the same time and, seeing how many of my friends and their kids, both locally and elsewhere in the country, are suffering from illnesses lately as well, makes me wonder what the heck is going on? Could these be some type of superbugs or at least new viruses unlike any we’ve seen before? Is my lackadaisical attitude towards germs now biting me in the butt? Should I be arming myself with Lysol and spraying my house into a toxic-smelling box of germ-killing goodness? Of course that goes against everything I just said and would definitely contribute to the whole superbug phenomenon. Is there a fine line – a balance between the two?

How do you handle germs in your house? Are you a pacifist or a warmonger? And when the ickies do infiltrate your home, what methods do you use to get them out and everyone healthy again? I’m not reaching for the Lysol yet, but the longer this goes on, the more tempted I get.

And suddenly I’m a soccer mom

It seems like just yesterday Ava was small enough to fit into my arms, but this weekend my baby girl had her first soccer game. And just like that – I’m a soccer mom (and wife to a soccer coach to boot!). ;)

I don’t know if I look like a soccer mom. What do soccer moms look like anyway? I’d take a pic of myself and let you make the call, but since we’ve all been sick with some nasty colds the past several days and I haven’t had a haircut in months and may now be sporting a mullet (gah!) and thus am hardly feeling photogenic at the moment, I think I’ll pass. ;oP

Anyway, Ava and daddy had their first soccer game this weekend. The kids were up against a much more experienced team and while they weren’t able to pull off even one goal (bummer), they had fun and I had a good time watching them and snapping pics (I even dusted off my SLR for the occasion) until a certain little someone pulled me away to the playground. ;)

This is how we’ll be spending our Saturdays for the next eight weeks and that brings a smile to my face.

Here are some pics of my little soccer player (in the purple pants) and coach hubby (with the shaved head and the green shirt). Mouse over the pics for captions or click to enlarge.

I know I haven’t participated in a while (photography just hasn’t been in the cards for me lately), but I’m counting this as my Best Shot Monday post and choosing the last pic as my BSM for this week. For more Best Shot Monday pics, visit Mother May I.

Laughter prevails – WW

I’ve been going through some crazy health stuff over the past week (I’m OK, but more on that later). There have been many times I’ve wanted to cry and sometimes I did, but whenever I need a smile or a laugh, I can always look to these two. They never let me down.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Breastfeeding until age 3, 4, or 5: more common than you think?

When my daughter was born four and a half years ago, I had no plan for how long I would breastfeed her, I just knew that I would start off breastfeeding and then go with the flow. It so happens that in our case going with the flow meant that one month shy of her fourth birthday she was still nursing (albeit only once a day), and as I would soon discover, we weren’t the only ones on this path.

Photo courtesy Alexander Tundakov
Photo courtesy Alexander Tundakov

I wrote my thoughts about this shortly before her fourth birthday in a post titled On Nursing a Preschooler.

I didn’t set out to nurse a preschooler, but somehow along the way, my sweet little baby grew from an infant to a toddler and eventually blossomed into a preschooler in what now seems like the blink of an eye. I am confident this won’t go on forever and when I look back on this time when she’s 10 or 20 or 30, and I look at the young woman she’s become, I am hopeful that I will feel good about the choices I made and have no regrets.

When I wrote that post I was feeling rather isolated and wondered if there were others who’d chosen (either deliberately or unintentionally) to take the long-term (a preferred alternative term to “extended”) breastfeeding route. I soon got my answer. I received 62 comments on that post. Amazingly none of them were negative and several came from women saying that they too nursed an older child and many thanked me for talking about it openly.

Lisa from The Joy of Six said, “I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve nursed mine until they stopped which has been anywhere from 14 mo to 4. Thanks for letting all those ‘closet nursing’ mommies know they aren’t alone.”

Melissa at Through My Window said: “The whole time I was nursing both of my girls past the age of 4 I always wished that I could talk about it and that more moms were willing to admit that they were nursing for a long time too. My girls only nursed at nap-time and bedtime as they became older which meant only 1-2 times/day. Of course, they are weaned now, but I have no regrets and I would absolutely nurse future children as long.”

Liesl from Come, Mommy, who was tandem nursing both her 4 1/2 year old and baby at the time, said:

Got a 4.5 year-old-nursling over here! Sometimes it is a lot to nurse two, but on the other hand, it’s one of the few times Liam will settle down for a bit. Then after he nurses, he’ll sit around and chat, and that’s when I often find out the things on his mind. And I think it’s eased his transition to brotherhood as well. Nursing a 4 year old is a very different thing than nursing a baby, and it is most definitely not for everyone, but overall I’m glad I stayed with it.

Nina (no blog listed) said:

I think it is important for those who think breast feeding a preschooler is *bad* that in many, many parts of the world this is quite normal. Only with the invasion of TVs and computers (whereby the views of more advanced countries are shown) have many moms stopped breastfeeding after about 1 year, they seem to think that the entire world is like that.

My mother was a midwife before she married my father and she very, very strongly rec. breast feeding until the child was ready to wean on his/her own and this was back in the 50’s!

Heather at A Mama’s Blog shared with me a story from her former employer:

My old boss told me an interesting story a few years ago. He was in his 60’s at the time, and grew up in the country. He said when he went to school at lunch time the “little” boys about ages 6 and 7 would go home to nurse. There wasn’t a lot of food at that time, and the mothers also used it as a form of birth control.

I thought that was pretty interesting that just in the 1940s, nursing a 6 and 7 year old was perfectly acceptable. Too bad we have come so far in the other direction in the last 60 years.

I also took an informal poll (if you will) on Twitter to see if others are nursing or have nursed children ages 3 and up. I was rather surprised by the number of replies I received.

Tomorrow evening, Jan. 2, barring any late-breaking big news stories, ABC’s 20/20 is set to air an episode featuring segments on long-term (extended) breastfeeding, as well as home birth (both with and without midwives), serial surrogates (women that have numerous babies for other women), “fake babies” (life-like dolls), and orgasmic birth. I believe the title for the show is “Extreme Mothering.” You can see a preview of the breastfeeding segment, which included an interview with the mother of a 6-year-old boy who still nurses, as well as an interview with the boy, on ABC News.

Although I put together a decent little list of mothers and children who are long-term breast-feeders (and that’s without searching on the ‘net for other bloggers or celebrities – yes, there are some), there will, undoubtedly, still be those who think it is weird, gross, damaging, or just plain wrong. If you find yourself in that camp, you might want to consider the following.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life‡ and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” AAP goes on to say, “There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.” (AAP 2005)
  • The World Health Organization recommends “infants should be exclusively breastfed(1) for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health(2). Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond.
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that “Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired.” They also note that “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.” (AAFP 2001)
  • Former US Surgeon General Antonio Novello, MD has stated that it is a lucky baby who continues to nurse until age two.
  • When to Stop Breastfeeding Your Child: A Case for Extended Nursing includes the many benefits of extended nursing
  • Additionally, there are more position statements from various organizations linked up on KellyMom

But wait, there’s more. According to Summer Minor in her post Is 4 too old to be breastfed?,”Biologically, 4 years is still in the normal range for humans.”

The book Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives contains a wonderful section called “A Time to Wean: The Hominid Blueprint for a Natural Age of Weaning in Modern Human Populations.” by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D. Dr. Dettwyler is an award winning anthropologist, professor, and breastfed her daughter until she was 4 years old. In the section Dettwyler compares various primates, including humans, to find what the biological norm would be for humans. She found that the natural age for modern humans based on our size, development, and life span is between 2.5 years and 7 years. A child still nursing at 4 years old is normal, natural, and OK.

If you find yourself long-term nursing your child, there’s a good chance that at some point you will run into criticism from others. La Leche League International has some good advice for handling criticism from family, friends or even complete strangers.

If you’re facing criticism, remember that they may simply be uninformed about the benefits of extended breastfeeding or perhaps they feel guilt about their own parenting choices. Consider responding to unwelcome comments by:

  • Ignoring: walking away or changing the subject.
  • Informing: sharing books, articles, or a medical professional’s thoughts on extended nursing.
  • Using Humor: making a joke about the situation or yourself, not the other person.
  • Acknowledging: recognizing the person’s viewpoint and asking further questions without agreeing or disagreeing
  • Empathizing: being empathetic to demonstrate that you understand the other person’s feeling and meaning (Vakiener 1999).

Dr. William Sears has some advice about handling the criticism as well. Here are some things he suggests you keep in mind:

  • Science is on your side.
  • World opinion is on your side.
  • It’s better for your health.
  • It’s better for your toddler’s behavior.
  • Blame it on your doctor.
  • Let your child silence the critics.

For more information about each of these suggestions, visit Ask Dr. Sears: Extended Breastfeeding — Handling the Criticism.

There’s additional information about Handling Criticism about Breastfeeding at KellyMom.

Speaking of KellyMom, which is a wonderful resource for all things breastfeeding, if you are the mother of a long-term nurser and are looking for support, check out their forums. There’s a forum for nursing children ages 3 and up. There are also forums for the toddler years – ages 12-24 months and ages 24-36 months.

While I decided to focus primarily on older children in this post, many women on Twitter chimed in that they are nursing their kids to age two as well, including: Reiza at Stepping Off the Spaceship, Summer at Wired for Noise, Mom Most Traveled, Annie at PhD in Parenting, Sherri at Recovering Sociopath, and Sara (who was breast-fed herself until age 4 1/2) at Custom-Made Milk, among others.

While I’m sure some of my relatives thought my daughter would nurse “forever,” I can assure you she did not. Her last nursing was on Oct. 3, 2008, at age 4 years, 3 months and 11 days. It was mostly child-led, although I did nudge her a bit at the end. I felt that she was ready, but needed a little extra push (and I knew I was ready). It was bittersweet, but I think it went quite smoothly. I hope to write about the experience one day soon before I forget it. It is yet to be seen what my son will decide to do. As for now, he’s still going strong nursing at 25 months.

It is my hope that as a result of segments like the one on 20/20 and the fact that more women are feeling comfortable speaking out about long-term nursing (as evidenced by all of the comments and Tweets I received), that others will not feel like they need to be “closet nursers” nor feel pressured by family, friends or society in general to wean before they feel it is right for them and their child. Let’s trust our judgment to do what’s right for our child and trust the judgment of other moms to do what’s right for their child too.

Cross-posted on BlogHer. I’d love it if you’d share your comments there too! :)

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my mailing list.

* indicates required



Wii had a Merry Old iTime

The last five days have been pretty spectacular. For starters, Jody had them all off of work so we got a lot of family Slaving away in the kitchen making apple crisp 12/25/08time in and then a lot of productive house cleaning/fixing up in as well. My parents (who were here from MI) and sister were here for Christmas day. I cooked another turkey (nearly 20 lb.’er – but this time got all of the giblets out BEFORE I cooked it – Woot!) and they supplied all of the side dishes. I also made a chocolate cream pie and an apple crisp for dessert. Everything was quite tasty.

For a year when the economy has been in the crapper and talk of recession, recession, depression(?) is everywhere, we enjoyed a very plentiful Christmas present-wise and I’m very thankful for all that we have been blessed with – health, family, friends, job security, a home, etc. We might not be in our dream home, but we have a roof over our head (and although it doesn’t look that way from the pic below, clothes on our backs) and, despite my whining, that really does mean a lot.

Playin’ w/ new toys in the buff 12/25/08 Ava says, “I did,” to Grandma’s question, “Who painted this bird house?” 12/25/08 Aunt Carrie reads a new Fancy Nancy book to Ava 12/25/08

Bed head, a zit, and my sexy new iPhone!I had suspicions that Jody was getting me an iPhone for Christmas, but when I unwrapped the box and saw Google on it, I thought he was either giving me his new G1 phone that he’d just been given by Google for his Christmas bonus or he’d bought me my own. I opened the box and there was the G1. I tried to act not totally crushed happy, but I was bummed it wasn’t an iPhone. Jody told me the battery was underneath it in the box, but when I went to get it out I saw … a sexy, sleek, shiny new iPhone underneath! Squeeee!!! :) Then he asked me for the iPhone and when gave it back to me and there was Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” He rick-rolled me – twice, but I got my Precious iPhone so who cares! ;P

Ava and I running with the Wii Fit 12/28/08Jody also got us a family Christmas present of the Wii Fit and I have to say I am really digging it. I’ve been on it for the past three days and, while that’s not much, I haven’t tired of it yet. There’s quite a bit to it to keep it interesting and I’m looking forward to getting a regular exercise routine into my life. My body has been hinting at me that I should get in better shape so hopefully this will help me take better care of myself.

The kids and the kitchen 12/25/08The kids got a ton of books this year, a handmade wooden farm set, as well as a wooden retro play kitchen (from Costco Santa) that Jody Santa was up until 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve assembling. As for me Mrs. Claus, I she was only up until 2 a.m. wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. Whew! I also dyed about 10 new play silks that we used for wrapping “paper.” They turned out beautifully and make great toys in and of themselves.

They also got a slew of stuff from both sets of grandparents which were opened on Christmas eve – mostly books, clothes, art supplies and a few large (ahem) plastic toys – a firetruck and Easy Bake Oven.

Two days after Christmas and a full month after it had been put up, the Christmas tree and all of it’s decorations were taken down. I needed my living room back and to get the new toys into new homes. The disorganization was weighing heavily on me (AKA stressing me out!).

Two little helpers ate some of the tree decorations before they made their way outside for the birds. The cranberries I’d strung up went out for the birds but haven’t been touched yet. What the heck, birds? Not good enough for ya? :P

Christmas tree popcorn eater AKA Ava 12/27/08 Julian, the big fish at the end of the popcorn string 12/27/08

After much cleaning (thank you, Jody) and some rearranging, I was very happy with the results of the livingroom overhaul.

Clean living room Another angle of clean living room

My plan for the next week (Jody has another several days off for New Year’s) is to continue cleaning, rearranging and organizing the house – one room at a time. I’ve been overwhelmed with clutter and disorganization for so long, but holding out with the hope that we’ll move into a bigger house and it would all magically disappear then. I’ve realized, however, that we will likely be in this house a while longer and, in an effort to make our time here more pleasant and manageable (and to save my waning sanity), it would behoove me to do whatever I need to do to make organization a priority.

I worked on the dining room a bit today and little by little, it will all get done. :) I can do this!

Hope you and yours had a happy, healthy holiday and a happy return to normalcy too – as normal as life gets.

Note: If the quality of some of the pictures posted here seems lacking, that’s because it is but only because they were taken with my iPhone. ;)