Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day 2010

Yesterday was Australia Day and it was a much better one than last year! The morning started out cloudy, so we had our doubts. We headed out to a place called Stanwell Park to meet up with some friends anyway. A few minutes after we got there the sun was shining bright and it was a beautiful day. Annabelle and I played on the playground while the others set up camp. We had grabbed the last somewhat shady spot we could find. The park was packed! They even closed the Royal National Park nearby because it was too full!

After we got settled in we headed to the beach. The sand was sooooo hot!! We had to go sit on the wet sand so we wouldn't get burned. The beach was beautiful, but not really child-friendly. It was surrounded by beautiful cliffs covered in green trees and bushes. The waves were powerful and there was a steep drop-off into the water. Annabelle played in the sand with her friend Alan. We made them a little pool to play in. Dave came and watched Annabelle so I could go for a swim. There was a strong rip current, but the water was beautiful. It was clear and warm! I loved swimming. After a few minutes I looked back to shore to see Dave and Annabelle heading back towards the park. As I swam back toward shore (not an easy task with a rip current), everyone started waving me in. When I got there they told me a big wave had hit Annabelle. She got flipped over and was completely covered in sand. Thankfully she was okay (I knew those swim lessons would pay off ;)); she was just sandy. So I went to find Dave and Annabelle. By the time I got up there Dave had showered most of the sand off of her. She was happy as a clam, no harm done.

We had lunch and then headed home. Alan and Annabelle both slept the whole car ride home and then some. We had dinner, went to the play land, and then headed over to the carnival here in Miranda. It was pretty busy. Annabelle got to pet some animals, which she liked. We found a spot on the grass and Annabelle played. She was having so much fun dancing and running around. She would spin in circles until she fell over. We met up with a bunch of friends and she loved having so many people to play with. As we sat there awaiting the fireworks, there were hundreds of bats flying overhead. I don't think I've ever seen so many bats in all my life! Annabelle was fascinated by them. The fireworks started late, but they were good. Annabelle didn't like the noise, but loved looking at them. Every time one went off she would cry or whimper, but she wanted to watch them. As soon as they were over she kept pointing to the sky and asking for more. We headed home and she fell asleep right away! This year sure beat the rainy, yucky day we had last year!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Breastfeeding a Toddler

I'm going to deviate from my standard form of blogging and talk about a subject that I have strong feelings about and I'm sure others do as well (either for or against). Let me tell you upfront that before I had my daughter the thought of breastfeeding was not appealing to me at all. I had several friends that never even attempted breastfeeding and made bottle feeding sound like a great idea. I had other friends who told me they tried breastfeeding and it was so awful, they couldn't continue. I had very few friends that had successfully breastfed for 6 months, much less a year or longer. So I read several books and articles and also took a breastfeeding class before I had my daughter. I knew that the best food for my daughter was breast milk. So even though I had my reservations about breastfeeding, I knew I had to at least give it the old college try, for my daughter's sake.

The first few days were not easy. My daughter was a large baby and was born with an appetite that couldn't be satisfied. She nursed constantly day and night for the first 36 hours of her life. I was sore and tired, she was still hungry. Thankfully my milk came in at that point and she was a happy camper. That first 36 hours of inexperienced feeding left me sore for a couple of more weeks though. I will be the first to admit that breastfeeding is not easy to start off. Eventually you and your child get the hang of it though. I was grateful to lactation consultants at the hospital who helped my daughter and me get off to a good start. If you have these wonderful women available to you, use them. Don't be embarrassed, they have been where you are and can offer wonderful help. I am also grateful to my husband who was very supportive and helpful.

Now my daughter is 16 months old and yes, she is still breastfeeding. This is something that apparently causes a lot of controversy in society today, though I don't feel it should. Up until a few decades ago parents nursed their children until they were 2 or older all the time. Our society today has moved away from breastfeeding because there are many brands of formula and many kinds of milk to offer children instead. For a working, busy mom, breastfeeding isn't always easy. Some mothers can't breastfeed for medical reasons and I understand all of that. I have never, ever told someone they were wrong to not breastfeed their child. Yet people feel it is okay to tell me it is wrong to breastfeed my daughter because she's older than 12 months. They also feel justified in making horrified faces when they find out I am still breastfeeding.

I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I am still breastfeeding my child. I know that doing so is the best thing I can do for her. Children need full fat milk until the age of 2 for healthy brain development. No other milk in the world can give my daughter the benefits of breast milk. It was designed by our Heavenly Father to give our children exactly what they need, nutritionally, emotionally, and developmentally. No factory can duplicate that. Animal milk was not designed for human children. It doesn't provide the same immunities or benefits. Not to mention that nowadays it is full of hormones and things that our children do not need.

Breastfeeding your child long term isn't always easy. It can be exhausting and toddlers do not sit still. The benefits far surpass any sacrifices that you make though. It is a wonderful time of bonding. My daughter and I have shared many special moments through breastfeeding that we would have missed out on otherwise.

So why am I writing about this? I was reading the book What to Expect The Toddler Years. As I was reading along, one of the questions posed was about continuing to breastfeed your child past the age of 12 months. As I read I became overwhelmingly sad and then angry, and then frustrated. This is America's bestselling parenting book and it frames breastfeeding a toddler as a very negative thing to do. In fact the only benefit it listed is that it does reduce a child's risk of allergies. I almost started to feel guilty for breastfeeding my daughter while I read it, like what I was doing was harmful to my child. I'm sorry, but that to me is unacceptable. Doctors and researchers are just starting to convince moms that breastfeeding is best and now this bestselling book undermines that. They say that research shows, but what research are they referring to? I've done a lot of research on this subject myself and never found the information they put in this book (don't worry, I've written them a letter, I'll let you know if I ever get a response). So I decided to blog about it to give support to any other moms out there who read that information and feel as upset as I do. In a society where breastfeeding at all tends to be frowned upon, we don't need parenting books trying to make us feel bad about doing what is best for our children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child....Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and mother....There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychological or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005) (emphasis added)

More and more studies are coming out to support breastfeeding until the age of 2 and more and more organizations are backing it (WHO, Surgeon General, American Academy of Family Physicians, etc, etc, etc.). Not to mention that women have been breastfeeding their children through toddlerhood since they have been having children. It is only in recent years that we've decided that feeding children our own milk is somehow taboo.

To all the women out there who are breastfeeding their toddlers, great job! Don't let anyone belittle what you are doing or tell you it is wrong or bad for your child. The research isn't there to support those claims. Science and Medicine are behind you 100%! Keep up the good work!

To all the women out there who are about to become new moms, give breastfeeding a try. You won't know if it will work for you and your child unless you try. Even if you can only do it for a short period of time there are many benefits to you and your baby. I know it may seem unappealing or scary, but welcome to parenthood. It really is a beautiful, wonderful experience once you get the hang of it.

To all the women out there who don't have children or who choose not to breastfeed for whatever reasons, follow Thumper's advice: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. And remember that facial expressions say a lot as well.

This blog was not intended to hurt any one's feelings or make anyone feel bad. I just wanted to support all moms who choose to breastfeed and continue to do so into toddlerhood. It's a natural, wonderful thing that should be celebrated, not shunned.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Australian Flies

Whenever you hear about Australia, no one ever mentions the flies. Maybe it's because when people come here they are so overwhelmed with the beauty and the good memories they forget about the flies. As a public service, I'd like to talk about the flies =).

The flies here are not like any flies I ever encountered back home. They are big and bold. They don't leave you alone ever! They buzz around you constantly and dive bomb your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. They love to hitch a ride on you, mainly on your back. You don't bother to brush them off because if they you do they just keep buzzing around your head and land on you again anyway. So as you walk along, you will often see people's backs covered in flies. The worst is when you try to eat. Australia has a lot of outdoor restaurants. When you go to these in the summer on a hot day, the flies are unbearable. They come at your food incessantly. I really don't know why people enjoy eating outdoors here in the summer.

The flies were a lot worse in the Sydney area last summer than they are this summer. I think it is because this year the temperatures have been oscillating between hot and cold days where last year it was just plain hot. Last summer the flies really bothered me here and I thought they were terrible. When we went to Adelaide a couple of weeks ago they were so much worse there. It's probably because Adelaide is a desert. Instead of just hitching a ride on you they go for any moist area they can find, usually your eyes, nose, and mouth. Dave swallowed more than a couple flies on this trip. We thought Adelaide was bad, but Kangaroo Island won the fly award in our book. The first day wasn't too bad. The flies were there, but not too obnoxious because there was a strong wind. The next couple of days were wind free and the flies were overwhelming. We tried 3 different fly repellents, none of which worked. We tried a natural one with Eucalyptus and tea tree oil, Off, and an Australian one mixed with sunscreen. We didn't notice any difference with any of them. We really enjoyed the beautiful island, but hated the flies. We decided there must be billions of them on the island. I went to use a public restroom on the hottest day that we were there. When I approached the toilet I thought the seat was black. As I got closer the flies started to fly off the seat and I realized the seat was white, just covered in black flies. Disgusting. How are you suppose to use a toilet like that. The flies try to fly into the openings of my face, I can only imagine what they'd do if I sat down on that toilet. No thanks!!

In the more southern parts of Australia flies are only a problem during the summer months and disappear by fall. I can't speak for Northern Australia, but I would guess they are a year round problem there, since it stays hot year round. I'm grateful these flies don't bite though. They do have sand flies that bite, but they don't seem to be as prevalent as the black (house)flies. When it is time to leave Australia I will be more than happy to leave the flies behind =).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas 2009

Christmas was pretty hectic this year, but it was a lot of fun. Annabelle woke up bright and early at 5 AM. I tried to get her back to sleep, but she wouldn't have anything of it. So we went in and woke up Dave. We came out and went through our stockings first. Annabelle was so excited to see what she had in hers, but also wanted to see what was in ours. We then took her over to the presents. At first she tried to open all of them at once. We got her to sit and open them one at a time though. She really got in to the unwrapping this year and even helped me unwrap all of mine. She loved all the presents she received. She would play with them for a minute before moving on to the next one. It was so much fun to see how excited she was about everything and to watch her great reactions and expressions. She had just the right amount of gifts, not so many that she was overwhelmed or bored and just enough to get all the unwrapping out of her system. We then stopped by our friends house and exchanged gifts with them. We hurried home to talk to our family and pack up the rest of our things. We then flew to Adelaide, SA. There we had a pretty relaxing night in a great hotel. It was fun, but I think I'd rather not fly on Christmas day again, too hectic! I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas as well!