Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Are We Still Cutting Our Sons?

All three of my boys are circumcised. I'm sure they'll thank me years from now for letting the world in on this. Don't circumcise your son. Please, don't.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 1999, published an article in AAP News that simply states that there is not enough evidence to warrant routine circumcision. I had my first son in 2005... I'm not shirking responsibility for mutilating my sons, however, if the AAP published this, why is it taking so incredibly long for it to become illegal? Why was I even given the choice? Like many people, we were on the side of "he should look like daddy." The argument when something like this: "Why???" "Because I want him to look like me." "Why???" Icy glares...for months this went on. I finally stopped talking about it. The day after my son's birth the nurse came in and asked us if we wanted him circumcised. I turned to my husband and said, "it's your call." He made it. I figured after the sight of the freshly mutilated penis would prevent him from requesting to have it done to the rest of our boys. Nope. I could have fought more. I pretty much win every argument we get into...or just fight until he gives up. I am not really sure why I didn't this time. I think maybe I wanted to give my husband a voice. I just about chose the names of our children. I got to carry the children, choose their clothes, paint the rooms, etc. I had my hand in everything. And while that's a given, the husband may or may not really care about those things. What the father-to-be does care about is the potential manhood of his sons. So, why would one want to suggest to mutilate it? Cosmetic reasons? Seriously...are we even going to go there? Cleanliness? Assuming we are competent parents, our children will learn how to wash themselves. Infections? Same thing.
Lastly, "On November 19, 1987 Anand and Hickey published a comprehensive study of infant pain in the New England Journal of Medicine. Not surprisingly much of the data came from infants undergoing circumcision. The study states that babies do feel severe pain from this procedure, in fact more than older children and adults would. The study recommends anesthesia and pain management for circumcisions, but these recommendations have not been widely implemented due to the added risks. The report also mentions (p. 1324) that even when anesthesia is attempted, it is not always successful."
We are the only country in the entire world that offers routine circumcision. We, as a nation, claim to be leading the way...
Female circumcision is a horrible crime that is almost unheard of in the United States, unless it's on Oprah or The Tyra Banks Show. I found this article about female circumcision in Indonesia. As horrific as bringing your small child into a school room on a special circumcision day complete with gifts and milk, what I found more disturbing was one of the discussion comments afterward. One woman is horrified at the circumcision of these girls, but plans on circumcising her sons. She asks if that's hypocritical and then adamantly states that she does not want to be present during the circumcision.
I have no more words...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Letting things bloom...

As a relatively new homeowner, I have decided to let more of the unknown grow and bloom. I learned my lesson after ripping up peonies without knowing what amazingly beautiful flowers would bloom. I simply cleared a plot and started a garden. This year I am enjoying the peonies. And some strange little purple flowers. I have no idea what these little lovelies are.

One single stalk of a pink flower rose up, bloomed and remained. I keep looking for some more, but there aren't any. Strange.

I took an herb class the other day. It was amazing. I've known that dandelions are edible, but I was not aware of how nutritious they are! After the class I ran home and started walking around the yard in search of yummy weeds/herbs. I found Wood Sorrel, Dandelion and Stinging Nettle. Wood Sorrel looks a little like clover. It has groups of three leaves in a shamrockish shape. The leaves are a much lighter green. And they are accompanied by dainty yellow flowers. And they taste like lemon. My sons keep calling them "the lemon". The dandelion in my yard has been left open to be defecated upon by our goats. I will not be harvesting those. However, I will be on the lookout for friends with untreated lawns with dandelions that I can dig up and plant in the fabulous weed garden bed I have plans for. Dandelion, as stated by Deborah Fate-Mental, is the one weed that you should eat, if you were to only eat one. "They have a ton of vitamins and minerals. They are safe to use as a diuretic because of the amount of potassium in them. Dandelions are good for eczema, adult acne and very dry skin. It is also an excellent liver tonic. A toned liver can clear toxins out of your body much more efficiently, making you feel better and have more energy." (Spring Tonics, Weeds to Nourish Your Body by Deborah Fate-Mental, 2009) It is also reported that Dandelion may encourage good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol levels. It also may aid in normalizing blood sugar levels. Studies need to be further continued and studied.

Stinging Nettle is an interesting plant. There are these little burrs on the leaves and stem. It is also a diuretic, but does not contain as much potassium as Dandelion. The Stinging Nettle can cause an allergic reaction, or rash, if stung by the burrs. Once cooked, the burrs do not pose a problem. Leaves should be harvested while the plant is young. Stinging Nettle has been used to reduce joint pain. Pregnant women, it is advised, should not take Stinging Nettle prior to 37 weeks.

I love that I can just walk out into my garden and show my children the wonders of food. I love even more that they'll learn the amazing qualities and flavors of naturally occurring plants. Hopefully, they'll come to understand that even the most seemingly unsightly blemish in a manicured lawn could be a delightful accompaniment in a salad or the medicinal remedy to a boo boo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I happened to stop by Ocean State Job Lot last night. I wanted AA batteries and I didn't want to pay a lot for them, seeing as we go through them like pairs of little boy socks. I meandered down the book aisle, not really expecting to see anything I liked. I was wrong. I found a very cool, very cheap book. Dragonology Tracking and Taming Dragons Volume 1: A Deluxe Book and Model Set. I honestly did not even realize that the book came with, well, a book. I saw that there was a model and I was sold. Even better, the price...$2.99.

The boys loved the models. It occupied a good forty-five minutes of time tonight...which is a HUGE after-dinner chunk of time. The book mentions dragon skat...a.k.a. poop. And there are pictures of the poop, in black and white, but it was enough to get my boys interested.

Odin pretended the dragon wings were his own. He pretended that the dragon only had one wing and kept crashing the dragon because it now could not fly. Then, he pretended the dragon was pooping. I'll never think of this song the same..."Skit, skat, skoodle doot, flip, flop, flee!"
Next week we're going to see How to Train Your Dragon, hopefully. We've perused a few easy readers from the movie. We've eaten at a fast-food chain (yes, I know...) that advertised the toys. I'm hoping that one day they'll be into dragons, like the ones in this book. For my sake. I love dragons. I'd love to learn more about dragons. I'd love to play Dungeons and Dragons with them. Yes...I like D & D...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Skippyjon Jones

We love Skippyjon Jones. I can't say it enough. We. Love. Skippito Friskito the Great Swordfighter. My kids love the adventures Skippyjon goes on. He runs into mummys, dinosaurs and aliens...all in the safety of his closet with the use
of his imagination. Skippyjon is a cat who pretends he's a dog...a chihuahua. When he is a dog, his name is Skippito Friskito...and you have to say it in a Spanish accent. He speaks partly in English and partly in
Spanish. It's enough to get my four-year-old asking what the Spanish words mean. The other day he asked me "Por que, mama?" Of course, I have to read the stories with a variety of voices. The books come with an audio CD, so it's easy to semi-mimic the voices Judy Schachner uses. Mama Junebug Jones is Southern. Well, she has a Southern accent anyway. Skippyjon writes on his bedroom kids would like to know when they can write on theirs...
I was able to acquire a Skippyjon Jones teaching packet via a site I belonged to, The Mailbox. However, you can download the same packet and print it out on your handy dandy computer at home, office or wherever you print stuff out. I actually scared my four-year-old with the mask into tears. I walked around the corner with the mask on and he looked up and screamed bloody murder. I started to laugh until the tears came. Warning: mask can cause screams and tears. We read Skippyjon almost every night. We quote the books all the time. We play with the stuffed animal character. My children speak a little Spanish. We're all having a good time. Thank you, Judy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Telling Time

Eli, who is four and the ever-so-important-half, has expressed an interest in time. He showed interest a year or so ago, but I thought it was important that he could count to sixty and understand what he was looking at. Today I brought out a broken clock I had been saving for quite some time. The clock itself was about $7 at Walmart. I'm sure you could find something super duper cheapo at a Salvation Army, flea market or yard, garage or tag sale.

My boys are very tactile learners. They love anything hands-on. Knowing this, we started out by taking apart the clock. I had lost the screw that kept the hands together and the battery pack. We took the plastic cover off. I also found an old drawer pull that could serve as the piece that kept the hands together. I had to make a couple adjustments and make the hole in one of the hands bigger and it was done. We talked about the minute, second and hour hands. I had the boys touch the numbers and count the hours and seconds. They held the different parts in their hands and pretended to tell time themselves.

I then made a copy of the face of the clock by simply tracing it onto construction, Eli's favorite. I omitted numbers. This is so we could go back and talk about what numbers belong. I made one with the numbers in the incorrect places. I made one with just marks instead of numbers. We have a working clock on our kitchen wall with Roman Numerals, so I thought interpreting the spaces would be useful. We'll cover Roman Numerals on a different day.
Today's talk about time and the clock ended after they played with the different parts. Then we were off to play Chutes and Ladders.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summarizing May

I haven't posted in awhile for two reasons. One, I have been busy enjoying the lovely weather. Two, I have been torn between several different topics. I want to post something with researched quotes and articles. I want to post things we've done in our daily lives. I want to post really personal information. Today it's raining. I haven't had time to research. My kitchen light is out and I haven't the time to go to the store and search for the bulb which we haven't had to replace since we bought the house. I can't decide what in our daily lives is more post worthy. Well, personal information is personal, no matter how much I want to yell or scream or cry or be joyful about something.
So, here I am. I come bearing a synopsis of the past month, despite it being a week and a half from over.

I did a belly cast for my first doula client. She is an amazing woman with so many great strengths. This is her second child. She is so optimistic and open to anything to create a beautiful and safe atmosphere for the arrival of her baby. This was also my first hand at casting. It came out beautiful. She has yet to sand it. When all is said and done I will be capturing it on film to post here, there and everywhere.

I am hosting a pick-up site for a somewhat local CSA. I am not buying a share, just hosting. The farmer keeps thanking me and saying he's sorry that he cannot offer me a share. I don't want a share. We have a garden. Plus, my boys would not eat that much produce a week...especially with the variety that is offered. I honestly do not know why me just offering my place as a pick-up site is such a big deal. They needed a site, I offered.

I organized a book publishing project for the homeschool group I associate with. This project was amazing. Children can create their own 12-page book online and have it printed in hard cover, soft cover or paperback. It's not actually published with an ISBN number or anything. But it's a great keepsake. And it was free. How amazing is that? Of course, I and some other parents ordered extra copies for posterity or gifts. It was really beautiful to see the children share their books with the other children and parents.

The boys and I hiked around Purgatory Chasm a couple weeks ago. I took not a single photo. Amazing. I did take plenty of pictures when we went hiking at Cochituate State Park. We decided to go there after attending a special book fair at Barnes and Noble sponsored by AHEM. A percentage of every sale went to support homeschooling. The boys chose Skippyjon Jones - the book with the character (a.k.a. stuffed animal)...each. The boys pronounce it "Skippyjonjon jones by judy shagner". The author is Judy Schachner and we love her. Well, we love Skippyjon Jones. What a great little Siamese cat who pretends he's a chihuahua with a Spanish accent. The best part is that the books come with an audio cd.

We made dye from daffodils. We built a chicken coop/run. We put the chickens outside. We got another goat. We lost the bunny. A chicken died. It's been a pretty crazy past few weeks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Faux Fashion and Gender Roles

My son asked me to read a book with him while visiting my parent's home today. Sure thing, buddy. I can't recall the title...something along the lines of "Who Am I", but there hundreds of books with that title, so that does not do any good. The book had pictures of children dressed in the garb of certain professions. There was a statement each child said that led the reader closer to guessing what profession the character worked in. There was a firefighter, a doctor, an astronaut (which, as my 3-year-old pointed out, looked like a robot), and a set of parents. Now, there are, of course, stereotypical gender roles. This book, however, really stumped my son. The set of parents depicted the "mom" in high heeled shoes, baubly-looking jewelry and a large shiny purse. The "dad" was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a flannel (I think). They were doting over a "baby" in a carriage. When I asked my son, "who are they?", he had no clue. I said they are parents...a mommy and a daddy. He looked at my face, then scanned me from head to toe. He got up and walked away. I took another glance at the picture. It was slightly ridiculous. I certainly have never worn red pumps and baubles. The husband certainly does not wear wide-brimmed hats.

Perhaps the picture would have been more effective if I had daughters. Maybe not.
My oldest already thinks that daddies work and mommas say home. Additionally, when I casually mentioned something about building the chicken coop he said, "I don't know any mommy's that build stuff, momma. Mommas don't do that kind of stuff." What?! Not my son saying these things. So, the husband built the coop's frame and I'm doing some of the other stuff like stapling the hardware cloth and nailing up the cedar planks. I'm simply not adept enough to cut angles with the table saw. However, I am capable of learning it and doing it. The husband is also a bit more on the "perfect" side...if everything isn't level and even, he won't be able to look at it. I would simply just slap the wood up there and call it a day...who needs a tape measure???

As a tomboy and a woman who has been called a feminist, I find it really interesting that I have fallen into the stereotypical woman's role. I am a mom and wife who cooks, cleans, does laundry and cares for the boys. I do, however, get to boast that I mow the lawn and the boys do refer to the lawnmower as, "your red lawnmower, momma." They are also fortunate to witness their father wash the dishes every night. Baby steps...