Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Here Lies the Mother with the Cleanest House, Biggest Cloth Stash and Best Organic Meals Ever

I mentioned something at a homebirth meeting the other day about making sure mama is calm and happy instead of fitting into a label. At the meeting, I said that I love the concept of EC (elimination communication) but I've yet to walk out the door with my newborn NOT wearing a disposable diaper.

I catch some poos here and some pees there, but upon having to leave the house, it is one thing I cannot fit onto the big to do list. And so I put on a sposie and watch for cues too late, changing the diaper after the fact.

I encouraged the other mamas at that meeting to relax during the post-partum time, focusing more on making that time a good one as opposed to following very specific practices to fit into labels or keep up images.

And then after reading an article online that says maternal depression seems to worsen infant sleeping habits, I wanted to spill more of my thoughts here:

Please, out of all hard things you do as parents...out of all the things that stress you, out of all the lost sleep, the meal planning, the constant, never ending cleaning, the aches of a sore pelvis, the bruised boobs, the headaches, the bills....don't for a second spend time beating yourself up because you can't maintain a label or fit into a category or do everything perfectly and then post pictures of it to Pinterest. And don't lose sight of what really matters, or strain yourself anymore in an attempt to spin plates to appease those who don't really matter.

Cherish your children. Hold them tight. Keep your home secure and bright. Love your partner and family and friends. Go outside and breathe deeply. Smile at others. Let go and let go and let go of the small things until you feel good, truly good.

If your kids get boxed organic oreos or watch TV or play with a plastic toy...or if you skip the dishes tonight (or eat take out and throw away the disposable utensils)...or if you close the laundry room door for one more day or put a disposable diaper onto your baby or sneak in whatever popular TV show is on right now and munch down non-organic icecream while they are sleeping...everything will be OKAY!

In fact, everything will be BETTER than okay because you will show your children that it's GOOD to be human. That humans are imperfect and humans have limits and humans, yes, even mamas, have needs and feelings. It will be BETTER than okay because they will come to learn the value of people and love above all else. You aren't a failure, you aren't kicked out of the club, you aren't incompetent or making the earth spin off its axis. And tomorrow you'll feel refreshed (somewhat) and can try again.


I'm a mom and I've had enough:

You aren't good enough:

If I knew Dr. Who:

The house can wait:

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I recently had a really frustrating day, but after I reflected on it, I realized it came with lessons.

First, I went to bed way too late and woke up way too early so right away I wasn't doing good self-care. Then I forgot to eat or drink anything before preparing 4 kids for church and going to a very long service on my own. Then I showed even worse self-care, taking my shaking self down to the church basement and feeding all of us junk doughnuts and fake orange juice. Free food and I'm starving, right? *shakes head embarrassingly*

Suddenly, it seemed all the little trying things had to happen that day, such as DS2 pooping in his underwear while we were running errands and only at that moment did I realize I forgot to refill the diaper bag. DS3 leaked all over me, heck I leaked all over me because I forgot to put my little cloth boobie pads in (granted, those little heart pads crack me up).

I forgot to turn on the slow cooker before church so lunch didn't exist when we got home. The dog found neon green playdoh under the couch and gave me a gift of diarrhea all over the floor. And so on and so forth. Realizing how the day was shaping up, I decided to call in reinforcements. I'm never above admitting the need for help! But my trusted backups were all traveling or busy for the day.

So then I made perhaps the worst decision of all: I chose to stay home for the rest of the afternoon. Now, I don't have a judgment on staying home, whatever floats your boat. It's just that not only do I hate staying home, all my kids hate it as well. And they tend to get stir crazy. We tried to play in the backyard but we basically turned into hanging pork steaks for the mosquitoes. There was also the part where DS2 grabbed a stick and tried to impale DS1, and the neighbors looked quite unapproving.

To top it all off, we missed a party at DD's favorite place. (Chuck E. Cheese, yay, not lol.) It seemed an insurmountable wall at the time to take them to a birthday party at Chuck's but after an afternoon of destroying the house and having 4 kids fighting over boobs, I regretted not going.

Then as the night dragged on, the two youngest started to get tired. So I ended up tandem nursing the youngest two for a very long time, which if you tandem nurse you might realize is tough due to the varying range of discomfort from holding two, positioning, different suckling, etc. There I was, feeling defeated, tired, bored, very touched out and like a very bad mama who had ruined everything and sucks.

Here were my two youngest, peaceful and happy
after all that tandem nursing. How do we so easily
overlook all that we do?
My husband answered his phone to hear a very incoherent, crying wife on the phone. He tried to make it all better by reminding me that I'm 4 weeks out from birth and the kids are "semi sick" (runny noses). But in my state of mind, it made me feel worse. I sat there thinking to myself that 4 weeks is only 2 weeks from 6 weeks which means I only have 2 weeks to improve before I officially don't have an excuse of giving birth. Yes, that was my thinking! And the semi-sick comment made it way worse because I've done take out and treats several times for the kids so I'm sure that's why they have crud flowing out of their noses.

So....yeah. There's my negative journal entry. I don't usually take the time to write them out because it takes enough energy simply to deal with bad days. I noticed, though, that as I wrote out my terrible day, I was able to pinpoint some important things. I stopped my self-care practices of sleeping well, having quiet time in the morning, eating well and planning for activities. Each one of those is vital and ignoring only one could have created a bad day, and I ignored all of them!

Then as I began to feel the stress, instead of slowing down to process the negative emotions and restore myself, I pressed ahead, continuing to ignore my needs until things were so bad that I fell into bad thinking patterns. I should have encouraged myself with reminders that I'm still recovering from birth and learning to care for more children. Instead I used negative self-phrases. I should have given myself a break. Instead, I beat myself up more.

How is that helpful to someone who is struggling? Isn't that part of our gentle parenting philosophy, that when a child is having a bad time and feeling bad about herself, we want to be there to restore her confidence and encourage her to keep trying? We say that when a child feels bad, he isn't going to behave well, so making him feel worse won't resolve anything. How can I promote that way of thinking for my children if I start to talk poorly about myself and neglect myself more during times of struggle?

Why is it that we as mothers are so quick to turn on ourselves when we're having a bad day? What makes us so certain that the bad day is our fault and that we are failures and that because of a few bad incidents, our children will be ruined and our motherhood card revoked?

Even as someone who rallies strongly against that cultural behavior, here I was, having a bad day and falling right into parroting all of that negativity. I had to write out my day and read it to see the bad habit right in front of me, it didn't even occur to me at the time!

Negative inner talk and disempowering scripting are sneaky critters. They creep up on us at our weakest and they get past our best intentions and defenses. One of my defenses has been to primarily concentrate on happy, positive experiences and sharing those. I think it was a good idea to share about the hard and negative experience, to shake things up and re-evaluate. Heed a warning from my experience...take care of yourself, Mama! Be gentle to yourself so that you can be gentle to your children.

And don't let the dog wander free in the house while you're gone.

Your floors were clean so I fixed that for you! You're welcome!


I'm a mom and I've had enough:

You aren't good enough:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

If I Knew Dr. Who and had a Million Dollars

Dear Mom,

Happy birthday. I wanted to give you a lot of things. But the desire is bigger than the ability. Let me tell you, though, if I had a million dollars and Dr. Who powers, I'd do a lot of things for you.

If I had a million dollars, I'd buy you those things that probably most kids want to buy their parents.

I'd buy you a nice car. A really nice, absolutely brand new one, just for you. I'd buy you a matching novelty plate, something like, "4R Mema." That car would be for all those melted crayons, crumbs, smears and scratches. It would be for every time we rode our bikes down the driveway and dragged our handlebars along the side of the vehicles.

It would be for every time you selflessly loaded at least 2 babies and a bunch of toddlers into the car to take me to events, to see my now-husband or to drop me off at a sleepover. For every time you took yourself, tired and busy, to the store to buy food. For the years you stretched out of those vehicles, giving up luxury and comfort and not caring what others thought of outdated, dirty, scratched up cars filled with happy and loud children.

I'd buy you a house. A big one, on the coast, next to the beach. With solar power panels and stainless steel in the kitchen. The bathroom floor would be heated and you'd have huge skylights everywhere. I'd buy you a house for every single day you chose to live in a smaller, modest home so that you could give everything else to us.

You chose us over a big, beautiful home and you worried that we'd have an odd perspective, growing up in a small home filled with wooden toys, homeschooling, Dad's business, a dog and a cat, hamsters and snakes. You chose us over the home of your dreams and you still thought we were deprived. I hope one day you realize exactly how clearly we understood the situation to be one of self-less love. If only I could explain this with a set of shiny keys.

I'd hire someone to clean for you. No, ten people to clean for you. I'd make it so that you never had to clean ever again. I'd hire someone for every single day as a mother that you woke up to find the same set of chores waiting for you, and for every single day that you quietly and thoroughly did them. I'd hired someone for all those times you were pregnant and still devoted yourself to making sure the house was in shape.

I'd make sure someone wiped every smudge and every fingerprint and every footprint from your home to make up for all those times you tried to stay ahead of 10 toes and 10 fingers on 11 kids. It was a job big enough for a fleet of cleaners and you bravely worked against the tide for decades, always knowing your work was being undone as quickly as you were doing it yet still wanting us to have a tidy and safe environment.

I'd hire a chef to cook for you and provide you with the best food I could find. As I struggle every day with the question of agony, "What's for dinner?" I think back to those days in my childhood, where you homecooked every single meal, careful consideration given to such things as healing from vaccine injuries and eating whole foods.

You poured every ounce of your mothering care into those meals. It took a long, long time to understand the degree of sacrifice from a pregnant woman making homecooked, healthy, varied meals 3 times a day for a huge family. The smells, the effort! And you were no less busy once the baby was born but you still worked at it. You did even more with food than most. You were tasked with feeding a large family on a small budget and in a tiny kitchen and you provided food others would consider gourmet. How good you were to us, and how sad I am that I didn't realize it until much later.

On that note, I'd hire a personal trainer for you and buy you an entire gym. You did more than just encourage us to exercise and to eat healthy. You encouraged us to love ourselves, to understand the anatomical and physiological aspects and how they interconnected with our souls and minds. You made sure we had a holistic view of caring for our bodies. You taught us to question everything and to listen to the body instead of just popping a pill. I don't recall growing up as a teen, looking at my body in disgust or wanting to change myself to fit in and I know you are the reason why. I only wish I could give you back the time, energy and money you passed to your children, so that you could now take some time, energy and money to restore your body.

I wish I could give you a gift of years. It would be great to step out of a blue telephone box and bring you back. Congratulations, you're done mothering, here are all the years that you gave your children. Now erase the lines of time and the fatigue of age. Go back to the beginning and spend each one of those years doing something you set to the side, something you bypassed. Travel. See the world. Learn a couple languages. Meet new people. Go skiing. Scuba dive. Do everything you wanted to do that didn't seem as important as raising children, but was still a yearning in your heart.

Someday, if the good Doctor ever lands in my backyard or if I ever win the lottery...or maybe if I ever publish all my book ideas and they miraculously take off as bestsellers and I make a bajillion dollars...someday I will give you all the wonderful things you've given me. I will repay you for everything you've done. From sacrificing your entire self, your actual body, to the hard labor of birth and the drudgery of every day, for the education, the devotion, the gift of faith preserved in virtue and passed down with care, for the commitment you showed us every minute of every day of every year...someday I will have a gift worthy for you.

Until then...I have some chocolate and pretty flowers. :) And a really big hug.


Here lies the mother with the cleanest house:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Letters to Good Samaritan Hospital: Stop Circumcising Baby Boys!

Petrina Fadel, of Catholics Against Circumcision, gave permission to reprint two letters she has sent, so far without any response from those at Good Samaritan Hospital. Her letters are filled with good resources on infant circumcision and also clarify Catholic teaching.

To Good Samaritan Hospital Non-Responders:

A faithful Catholic has chosen to write about how Good/Bad Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati is violating Catholic teaching and Catholic ERDs:


As a faithful Catholic, I find it appalling that NO ONE from Good Samaritan Hospital has the decency to stop this unethical experiment or to even respond to anyone who writes to you about it.

Imagine, Sister Agnes Coveney, Michaela Eschenbacher, Dr. Mounira Habli, Dr. Rachel Sinkey, and Maureen Cramerding, what it would be like if someone strapped you down to a board to slice off part of your HEALTHY genitals, and then judge if you were in more or less pain by the grimaces on your face and the blood loss you experience.  

Does anyone at Good Samaritan Hospital even have a conscience left any more, or is everyone spiritually dead? Catholics were shocked to learn that some in the Church were engaged in the sexual abuse of children by errant priests behind closed doors.  Now your Catholic hospital is engaged in the sexual abuse of male infants by doctors in your hospital nurseries.  That is equally shocking.  A person who is a Good Samaritan does not treat children this way.

Good Samaritan Hospital is an embarrassment to Catholics who take their faith seriously.  What you are doing scandalizes the Church!  The only morally right thing you can do now is STOP this atrocious experiment and stop the genital mutilation of male infants on your premises.  Start obeying Catholic Catechism teaching on "Respect for bodily integrity" and Catholic ERD #29: "All persons served by Catholic health care have the right and duty to protect and preserve their bodily and functional integrity." All persons means all persons, and that includes male infants.  No exceptions!

Petrina Fadel

October 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Joe Kelley:

You are quoted this evening in a news report by WLWT news.  You state, "Male infant circumcision has been practiced for centuries and is not among the procedures prohibited in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."  This statement is incorrect.  It is troubling that the first word coming from Good Samaritan about this study came only after there was a demonstration in front of the hospital.  The hospital staff who were contacted months ago (Sister Agnes Coveney and others) refused to respond to numerous letters and phone calls.  There was a deliberate attempt to NOT discuss or acknowledge the inherent problems with this unethical study, by the person who should have been most concerned- your hospital's ethicist!

Male circumcision violates Catholic teaching on many levels, including in the violation of Catholic ERDs.  Here is how it does so:

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services
Fifth Edition - Issued by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 17, 2009

"The moral teachings that we profess here flow principally from the natural law, understood in the light of the revelation Christ has entrusted to his Church."  [In the natural law, all males and females are naturally born with foreskins.  They are there for a sound reason.]

"While providing standards and guidance, the Directives do not cover in detail all of the complex issues that confront Catholic health care today."  [The standards and guidance expressed in the Directives do apply to circumcision, although not every surgery is dealt with on an individual basis.]

The mystery of Christ casts light on every facet of Catholic health care: to see Christian love as the animating principle of health care ... [Love does not consist of painfully cut off healthy body parts from other people without their consent, nor does it consist of studying which method of unnecessary amputation is more or less painful to the child!]

"Catholic health care ministry is rooted in a commitment to promote and defend human dignity..."  [Unnecessary male circumcisions, and female circumcisions in other countries, do not "promote and defend human dignity."]

"Catholic health care ministry seeks to contribute to the common good. The common good is realized when economic, political, and social conditions ensure protection for the fundamental rights of all individuals... " [Catholic hospitals that subject male infants to medically unnecessary circumcisions are NOT ensuring the fundamental rights of these individuals!]

"Catholic health care services will encounter requests for medical procedures contrary to the moral teachings of the Church. Catholic health care does not offend the rights of individual conscience by refusing to provide or permit medical procedures that are judged morally wrong by the teaching authority of the Church."  [Catholic hospitals should NOT be participating in a study that is morally offensive, nor should Catholic hospitals be doing non-therapeutic  circumcisions in the first place.  What is the medical diagnosis for these infant circumcisions, or are they being done for non-medical reasons?]


4.  "...medical research must adhere to Catholic moral principles." [The study at Good Samaritan does not adhere to Catholic moral principles.]

5. "Catholic health care services must adopt these Directives as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition for medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives for administration, medical and nursing staff, and other personnel."  [Why is your Catholic hospital not adhering to these Directives when it comes to infant circumcision?]

9. "Employees of a Catholic health care institution must respect and uphold the religious mission of the institution and adhere to these Directives. They should maintain professional standards and promote the institution’s commitment to human dignity and the common good."  [Again, the commitment to human dignity is not happening at your Catholic hospital when non-therapeutic foreskin amputations are performed.]

23. "The inherent dignity of the human person must be respected and protected regardless of the nature of the person’s health problem or social status. The respect for human dignity extends to all persons who are served by Catholic health care."  [Why is the human dignity of male infants being ignored, and  disrespected?}

29. "All persons served by Catholic health care have the right and duty to protect and preserve their bodily and functional integrity."  [Non-therapeutic infant circumcision is a clear violation of bodily and functional integrity.  See below to learn more about the anatomy and functions of the male foreskin.]

31. "In instances of nontherapeutic experimentation, the surrogate can give this consent only if the experiment entails no significant risk to the person’s well-being. Moreover, the greater the person’s incompetency and vulnerability, the greater the reasons must be to perform any medical experimentation, especially nontherapeutic."  [Why is this Directive being totally ignored?  There are significant risks to infant circumcision, and serious cases of botched circumcisions and deaths from this medically unnecessary surgery.  See: http://www.glorialemay.com/blog/?p=581  and  http://www.catholicsagainstcircumcision.org/cac_complications.htm  )

In 1977, Directive 33 of the ERDs stated that "unnecessary procedures, whether diagnostic or therapeutic, are morally objectionable."

The company that manufactures the Mogen clamp used in your study has gone out of business following a huge lawsuit from a botched circumcision.  I will send you information about that case in a separate email.

Circumcision violates Catholic Catechism teaching and New Testament Scriptures.
St. Peter dismissed circumcision as unnecessary and disadvantageous in Acts 15:10 (the Council of Jerusalem). "And now are you going to correct God by burdening the Gentiles with a yoke that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear?" [St. Peter here was referring to the form of religious circumcision that existed at that time, from the time of Abraham until around 140 A.D.  This type of circumcision removed only the small amount of foreskin that extended beyond the glans penis.  St. Peter was not referring here to the more radical form of circumcision that removes the entire foreskin, as is done today in medical and religious settings.  See:  http://www.fisheaters.com/circumcision2.html ]

Pope Eugene IV- Council of Florence Bull of union with the Copts Session 11-4 February 1442

"Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation."

Pope Pius XII, Discorsi e Messaggi Radiodiffusi t. XIV, Rome 1952, s. 328-329

"From a moral point of view, circumcision is permissible if, in accordance
with therapeutic principles, it prevents a disease that cannot be countered in any other way."  [Here Pope Pius XII speaks about therapeutic circumcision, not elective circumcision.  In addition, today there are many ways to prevent disease, without ever needing to resort to circumcision.]

Pope Benedict XIV (1740-58) articulated the "Principle of Totality" - "the amputation of any part of the human body is never legal, except when the entire body cannot be saved from destruction by any other method."

No. 2297 of the Catechism, "Respect for bodily integrity," states in part: "Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law." The American Heritage Dictionary defines amputate as "To cut off (a part of the body), esp. by surgery," and it defines therapeutic as "Having healing or curative powers." In 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics described circumcision as "amputation of the foreskin," and the American Medical Association called elective circumcision "non-therapeutic" (Council on Scientific Affairs 1999). Elective circumcisions are directly intended, nontherapeutic amputations of healthy foreskins.  As such, they do violate the moral law."

Philippians 3:2-3: "Beware of unbelieving dogs. Watch out for workers of evil. Be on guard against those who mutilate. It is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus rather than putting our trust in the flesh."  [Here, St. Paul uses the word mutilate to refer to circumcision, and he warns Christians against this.  At the time of St. Paul, Jewish ritual circumcision removed only the foreskin that extended beyond the glans penis, not the more radical form of circumcision that is done today.  The Pharisees, whom Jesus had a lot to say about, instituted the more radical form of circumcision in the second century A.D.]

1 Corinthians 12: 18: "As it is, God has set each member of the body in the place He wanted it to be." [God, in His Divine wisdom, designed and created the human body perfectly!  God did not make a mistake that people may think they need to correct.]

For your information, attached is an article about circumcision that appeared last year in "The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly."  Good Samaritan Hospital should immediately stop this circumcision study and non-therapeutic circumcisions on its premises, and come into compliance with Catholic teaching.  It is the morally right thing to do.  Will Good Samaritan Hospital do the right thing, or will profits override morality when it comes to protecting and respecting the bodily integrity rights of male children as Catholic Catechism teaching #2297 commands Catholics to do?

Petrina Fadel http://www.catholicsgainstcircumcision.org/

Here is how circumcision violates the bodily and functional integrity of male infants and the men that they become.

Anatomy and Functions of the Male Foreskin:

What is Lost to Circumcision


Danish Study- Male circumcision leads to a bad sex life November 14, 2011


"Circumcised men have more difficulties reaching orgasm, and their female partners experience more vaginal pains and an inferior sex life, a new study shows."

"How Male Circumcision May be Affecting Your Love Life" by Christiane Northrup MD


BRITISH JOURNAL OF UROLOGY, Volume 77, Pages 291-295, February 1996.

The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision -  by J.R. Taylor, A.P. Lockwood and A.J. Taylorhttp://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/taylor/

The Prepuce: This video fully explains the many physiological functions of the foreskin. It covers the development and functions of the prepuce (foreskin) from before birth through adulthood. The terminology used, while professional, is comprehensible to a lay audience.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jews Against Circumcision: How a New Jewish Generation Views Genital Autonomy and Human Rights

Jewish Mother Kathryn Mora Testifying in Support of the MGM Bill at the Massachusetts State House
The past century has been marked by the declaration and protection of universal human rights, as well as a marked increase in the quality of life, both in the United States and worldwide. With these improvements, higher expectations regarding a child’s right to bodily autonomy have become socially accepted and legally mandated. Many argue that since female children in the U.S. are protected by a 1996 law banning female circumcision, this law should be expanded to include the protection of male children as well.
There are a growing number of Jews who are becoming increasingly vocal in questioning both the ethics and the legality of circumcision. Jews in the Reform Judaism movement have already been advocating for an end to ritual circumcision during the past 180 years. What follows is a collection of statements from Jews who question the ethics and legality of child circumcision.

Jewish Americans Support Outlawing Child Circumcision

"I am a Jewish mother against circumcision and in support of passing Bill 1777. For years I was a certified childbirth educator and now a journalist and filmmaker. I continue to educate people that childbirth is a natural event rather than one filled with unnecessary drugs and other medical intervention, and circumcision is an unnatural event. These are two clear-cut examples of interfering with nature."
- Katherine Mora, Jewish Mother
Testimony before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

“The human right to body integrity would, in this instance, override their religious right.…non-fundamentalist Jews, who constitute a very large number of Reform, Conservative, and even some Orthodox Jews, believe that human ethics are an essential element in the Jewish tradition. …there is a Jewish tradition practiced by virtually all Jewish parents today that is morally wrong. This should give pause to any non-fundamentalist religious Jew, and it is a black eye for the liberal movements that they have not taken this issue more seriously. Perhaps a law prohibiting circumcision is just what these Jews need to start a serious discussion about the problem of brit milah.”
Eli Ungar-SargonOutlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews?, Forward, the Jewish Daily, May 20, 2011

In Massachusetts, two Jewish mothers testified in favor of a law making circumcision illegal. Moreover, several Jews and Jewish organizations throughout the country are backing a proposed national law against circumcision. Jewish groups such as Jews Against Circumcision and the Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation have endorsed the proposed American MGM bill, which would rewrite the U.S. Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1996 so that boys are also protected from genital mutilation.”
- Questioning circumcision, by Shani McManus and Sergio Carmona, Florida Jewish Journal, June 06, 2011.

“Jewish baby boys are human and have rights too, and those rights are violently trampled by his (and my) religion, in the case of brit milah. We must all learn to take the blinders off and somehow stop this heinous practice -- yes, by a law, if necessary.
- Tina Kimmel, PhD, MSW, MPH, Director of NoCirc, East Bay Area
Letter to the Bay Citizen

“I’d heard how my uncle had fainted during my bris and what a horrible event it was. This was the thing everyone would talk about at the Passover seder… The ban on circumcision that’s on the ballot in San Francisco is a triumph for intactivists… I'm totally for it. San Francisco has often lead the country in elevating our consciousness. It has already helped spread awareness of this human rights crime to other states and hopefully will lead people everywhere to be more compassionate, thoughtful and rational not only towards their own fragile newborn children but to other fellow men and women as well.”
- Jason Paige, Jewish Singer
Blood, Sweat & Tears Lead Singer Protests Infant Circumcision, by Rebecca Wald, J.D., BeyondTheBris.com, July 1, 2011

“I happen to agree with you that foreskin removal should be illegal. It is a mutilation… I agree with you that men should not be circumcised. . . I don’t know where this circumcision came from, some people feel it’s a religious thing, it’s about health, it’s about cutting off the foreskin makes your penis less likely to get cancer. There’s been all kinds of myths. I think it’s nonsense. That if you’re born that way, it seems to me it’s a mutilation to cut it off. The same way in Africa they sometimes cut off a woman’s clitoris and they think that’s justified. I think our foreskins were cut off in order to desensitize us, and I think it was a bunch of religiousnudnicks who decided they didn’t want us going around fornicating so they cut off some of our penis skin.”
- Howard Stern, Talk Radio Host
Howard Stern, Jewish Intactivist by Rebecca Wald, J.D., BeyondTheBris.com, March 31, 2011

"Laurie Evans, the Jewish director of New York's National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), told the Committee that under Jewish law, the son of a Jewish mother is Jewish, whether circumcised or not, and that despite great pressure she had kept her son intact. She said that many Jewish mothers confide to having been horrified by their boy's circumcision ceremony. She said that initially the ceremony involved removing only a small amount of foreskin, not all of it, and that several Jewish organizations recommend a peaceful birth ceremony instead. She urged the panel to watch a circumcision and raised the issue of botched circumcisions. The second Jewish mother to speak, Kathryn Mora, testified she had been devastated that her son was taken from her in the hospital and circumcised without her consent."
- Peter W. Adler, A Bird's Eye View of the Hearing On the Massachusetts Bill to Outlaw Genital Mutilation
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Newsletter, Summer 2010

International Jews Also Favor Outlawing Child Circumcision

Letter to the Editor of the UK Guardian.
Circumcision and human rights, The Guardian, Tuesday 15 October 2013.            
Tanya Gold articulates well the existence of contemporary antisemitism (A ban on male circumcision would be antisemitic. How could it not be?, 12 October). But I think she's wrong in describing the Council of Europe as antisemitic for including ritual male circumcision in its examples of violations of children's rights.
I write as a male Jew circumcised at birth in 1958 as part of ritual. I would rather not have been. Yes, male circumcision isn't as extreme a practice as female genital mutilation. However, I know from personal experience that it results in such problems as desensitised sexual feeling, frequent soreness and occasional bleeding. I believe that this irreversible action is at heart an assault on a child, incapable of giving meaningful consent. I attach no blame to my parents' generation, who would have made the decision in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and who would have experienced a society more overtly hostile to them. But I find it depressing that contemporary Jews wish to continue the practice.
And she is quite wrong to say all Jews agree on circumcision. Many secular Jews take pride in where we come from, but also have the confidence to explore an identity appropriate to the world we inhabit. For me, that's an identity that says yes to traditional Jewish elements such as emotional openness, warmth and respect for older people; and no to, for example, physical mutilation, homophobia and misogyny.
The Council used language that was reasonable and balanced, and I would support a legal prohibition to ritual circumcision. If such a move is expressed in language or images that are antisemitic, then we fight them on those grounds. But that's not the case here.
Mike MortenWorthing, West Sussex

Jewish Intactivist in Canada

“It seems to me that for liberal Jews the choice comes down to this. Do we want to in some way circumscribe the sexual possibilities of our sons by performing a body modification when they are infants so as to bear witness to the covenant? Are there not other ways to bear witness? Are there not other ways to maintain our distinctiveness from the society around us? Despite having circumcised my two sons, the more I think about the issue, the more likely – were I a resident of San Francisco – I would support the referendum.” 
Sandford Borins, Ph.D., The Circumcision Referendum: A Liberal Jewish Perspective
Sandford Borins, Ph.D., is a professor of Management at the University of Toronto.

Jewish Intactivist in the UK
What about religious freedom? Certainly, the ability to freely practise one's religion remains a vital component of any liberal democracy. But should this trump an individual's right to their bodily integrity? And shouldn't such a principle be extended to all those who, by virtue of their age, are too young to decide on which body parts they would or would not like to keep?...
"Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights outlaws the kind of "harm" that circumcision can cause; article 14 forbids the discrimination that prevents baby boys from enjoying the same protection of their genitalia as baby girls. In the 21st century, it is time to remember that men, too, can be victims of unjust hegemonic systems tolerated in the name of tradition, culture or religion. If we oppose female genital mutilation, has the time not come for us also to oppose male genital mutiliation?"
  Neil Howard and Rebecca SteinfeldTime to ban male circumcision?, Guardian UK, June 14, 2011
Rebecca Steinfeld, is a PhD. candidate at Oxford University and has served as an under-35 director and as an associate of the Board of Deputies for New West End Synagogue.

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents
100+ Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies worldwide.
HowJudaic is the circumcision? An Israeli Hebrew scholar on Biblical intactivism.
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony
A Brit Shalom Ceremony
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming.

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights
Rabbis on a Covenant without Circumcision
What is a Jewish Brit Shalom (Covenant Without Cutting)?  A 'Bloodless Bris' is Becoming Popular Among American Jews
Jewish Understanding, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 1.
Jewish Understanding, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 2.
Jewish Understanding, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 3.

Jewish Intactivist Families: Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision | A Jewish Childbirth Educator keeps her sons intact.
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? | Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism.
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin | Published in Tikkun
Intact & Jewish | Published on the Natural Parents Network
The Naming | Published on Very, Very Fine
Humanistic Judaism is Increasingly Intactivist
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). |  Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Outlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews?
 By Eli Ungar-Sargon. Published in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son | Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin | Published in Mothering Magazine.

Jewish Intactivism

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Safe and Stylish Babywearing on a Budget

Look, I'm just going to come out and say something, without any intended malice but let's get honest here...

The babywearing image in America is definitely commercialized and decorated with snobbery.

It is. And I said it. I'm not only talking about the way carriers are glamorized in the tabloids, with celebrities trotted out in nifty looking baby gear to the masses.

These days, people say babywearing is a fad.
But how can a centuries-old, instinctive practice be a fad? Oh, right.
Even in the "regular troops" of mothers, babywearing has developed a finer culture of collection on par with Prada purses or Guess jeans. You might salivate and feel poor after mamas share their "stash photos" valued into the thousands.

On Facebook, some popular carrier designers have giveaways just so you can get a chance to PAY for the newest baby carrier. Yes, a giveaway to win a chance to buy something. Ain't nobody got cash to get caught up in that!

I wasn't kidding!

It certainly doesn't help that most baby carriers, even regular brands carried in stores, tend to come with big price tags. A typical carrier can start at $50 and is on average $150. Move into the stylish area and watch that jump to $300, $500 or higher depending on popularity and exclusivity.

Now, first off, if mamas enjoy collecting expensive wraps and showing them off, good for them. There's nothing wrong with spending your money on lovely wraps and carriers that suit your fashion style or make you feel good. We all do it with something, whether it's fancy clothes, nice makeup, rich lotions, electronics or even food and drink.

But here's what I want to tell those who are on a budget: you can still do it! You don't have to be the rich and famous or drive a Mercedes to enjoy babywearing. And for that matter, with a little bit of deal-skills, you don't have to settle for a 20 year old crotch dangler from your grandma's closet. You CAN stylishly and safely babywear on a budget. Here's how:

1. Prepare. To save money, prevent babywearing mistakes before you start. Research babycarriers and weigh them against your individual needs. Visit baby boutiques to try on a variety of carriers. If you don't have a child yet, bring someone's or bring various dolls. Or animals. Most people I swear roll their eyes or ignore this step but it's the most important one! You cannot buy a carrier based on another parent's recommendation. Your body, your baby and your needs are different than hers.

They wiggle, slobber and pee everywhere. Perfect comparison.

So go to that crazy carrier lady's house and start trying them on. Go to the local Babies R Us and even better yet, go to several baby boutiques as they have more options. Scan your local area for babywearing clubs, which have libraries for renting and swapping. Try before you buy, long before you buy. Wear them longer than a few seconds. Sit down, stand up. Bend over, walk, bounce and jog. Think about areas that might be a concern to you (neck pain, hip problems, weak shoulders) and pay attention while trying on carriers. Then you will have a better idea of which one you want.

2. Scan. Now that you have a rough list of what you want to buy, start scanning your options. Like trading stock or playing chess, slick-dealing is about timing. Don't get excited and buy the first carrier you see that comes with a discount. You need to get a true feel for the market value and what a good deal really is before you jump on it. Start looking around the online babywearing swaps, mama-targeted deal sites and general baby gear sites to find out what the going rate is and what deals tend to roll around.

3. Time. Many stores phase out old inventory to bring in the year's new designs and colors in pretty specific times. December-January and June-July are considered some of the best times to find baby deals. If your carrier is available at a local store, then get to know that store's clearance policy. When do they mark things down? What day of the week? Track inventory try to wait out the deal to the very best price.

Example: I found out that select Target stores sell Ergo carriers. So I watched my local Target phase out the Navy Organic Ergos from $115 to $40. I kept an eye on inventory and hit the store on the day they typically markdown baby clearance. Sure enough, hidden behind a full price Cranberry Ergo, I found my $40 carrier. Then I used my Target debit card to get another 5% off the total.

4. Avoid. Avoid the psychological marketing and buying traps related to dealing. Don't use a coupon offer just because a company sent it to you. Watch out for sales and discounts that merely make a carrier the same price as other stores. Stay away from unsafe, fake, knockoff or other unsavory carriers. Don't get into a bidding war or buy an overpriced carrier due to crowd excitement. Stick with your market evaluation and your budget. Another carrier will come your way, I promise.

Example: Toys R Us is famous for having exciting deals such as "Buy 1, get 1 free" but if you compare their regular prices to other stores such as Target and Walmart, you'll find that the sale makes their products the same cost as the regular price at other stores.

Another example: Many deal sites such as Zulily can have legitimately good deals. But often they are merely showcasing products with inflated prices and big percentage points to entice purchases. A recent showcase on Zulily was the "Disney Collection" advertising up to 55% off, but a quick scan of the prices showed products almost the same cost as local stores, without the local advantage of waiting for clearance or using coupons.

5. Stack. Stacking is a method where you combine as many discounts and promos as possible. This decreases the final total beyond the original deal.

Example: If you shop at Target, you can get an additional 5% discount by using their debit card.

Example: Stack a manufacturer coupon with the store's coupon. (Many stores such as Whole Foods allow this, always check the rules).

Example: Stack different promo codes together. So if you are buying a carrier online with a discount code, also look for other codes that might allow stacking, such as free shipping.

Example: Various phone apps now offer rebates or even put money directly into your paypal for purchasing specific products. You might be able to line up your list with their list for more savings.

Example: Many online deal sites offer referral bonuses. Refer the sale to your friends and earn discounts or even outright cash to apply to your carrier purchase. This is a win win win situation: the site gets more sales, your friends get a deal and you get a break on your purchase.

6. Resell. If you find a very, very good deal, then you can purchase multiple carriers and sell some of them. The money you make reselling them needs to pay off your costs and then cover the carrier you keep, so carefully calculate all the costs involved including taxes, shipping and fees.

7. Rebuy. There's nothing wrong at all about buying secondhand as long as you verify the carrier is in good working condition. In fact, it's been my experience that carriers are so easily misunderstood/misused or mispurchased (see #1 PREPARE) that buying secondhand will often get you an almost new carrier at a steep discount. I scan my local secondhand baby shop every week or so to look for these misunderstood carriers. You can then also stack if your secondhand shop offers discounts and coupons.

Be sure to check yard sales, consignment sales, mommy-group garage sales/fundraisers, online groups...any sale that includes babygear is probably going to have a carrier floating around somewhere. Because you followed step 1 and step 2, you will know which carrier is worth buying and at what price.

8. BTSRB. Barter, trade, swap, rent and borrow. You'd be surprised what you can get when you have a service or product to offer in exchange. Are you a photographer? Nanny? Can you carpool, clean, babysit, sew/craft? Do you have other babygear that another mama needs right now? Have you asked a mama friend if you can pay her to temporarily use a carrier she isn't using right now? Do you have a closer friend who will just let you borrow? You won't know until you ask.

9. Create. Notice I put this one at the bottom. You can make your own carrier. With some research, it can be safe and comfortable. But unless you do this frequently and already have all the supplies lying around, it's unlikely to be a safe, stylish and cheap carrier. If you have the skills, go for it. Just be sure to keep an eye on the bottom line if you have a strict budget.

Some sites to keep an eye on for periodic carrier deals:

zulily.com (Want to share love? My referral link is: http://www.zulily.com/invite/guggiedaly)

The big group on Facebook:

The budget group on Facebook:

Like the idea of slickdealing? Check out slickdeals.net.

What was your best carrier deal? What is your favorite deal site for babygear? What is your deal tip? Please share!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tandem Babywearing and Special Moments

We wrapped up our babywearing focus for International Babywearing Week by showcasing tandem carries and our favorite moments.

Yes, it's definitely possible to carry at least two kids. How to mix and match depends on the needs of your particular children. The child who need to get down frequently or quickly should have the carrier that goes on top. You can mix wraps and ringslings with structured carriers provided they don't interfere with the straps. If you're new to tandem carrying, practice with a spotter...a support person who can help keep you balanced and provide an extra set of hands.

I was really excited to get these photos thanks to my sister.
They represent our first babywearing as a family of 6. :)
"My daughter was 13 months old when we welcomed twin boys to our family! I had to get very creative with baby wearing because I lived in an apartment complex and it was way too hard to get a stroller from the door to the car! This day, we took a walk to the leasing office and back without a hitch!"

"Normally I wear the older child on the back.We love the Ergo for tandem wearing!"

"Trying a double carry....baby (9.5lbs) in front in the Baby Hawk & toddler (35ish lbs) on the back in the Ergo. "

I'm honored to share this photo of Sam tandem wearing her two littles, Bram at 25 months and Alden at 2.5 months. 

"Wearing both my twins for the first time!"
"Our family, from Green Mommy Diapers, wearing our 5 year old and 8 month old in Nati Notes by Natibaby available exclusively from Wrap Your Baby

Photo credit to Petal & Vine Photography"

"Anyone looking at this would see a water birth but to me it is special b/c this was my healing moment from 2 very traumatic cesareans. My VBA2C baby born just 1 month ago today.https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=495551840541427&set=a.202402553189692.42990.198616403568307&type=1&theater"
"Wearing my 10 week old daughter, Sunshine"

"Our first successful baby wearing day! He's about 6 weeks old and sleeping soundly"

"I think it's probably obvious why this photo is special to me... He was born just seconds before this was taken. I had not yet birthed the placenta. His cord was still attached and we were still sitting in the birth pool. I love him so much. "

" This is the first photo I have of my husband holding our son. Sooo much love!! "

"Here's the first time I got my husband to try my Beco! We were hiking in Glacier Nat'l Park for the very first time. We live in Bozeman, Montana."

"Wearing my 3-1/2yo at my daughter's cross country meet this morning. So snuggly!"
"my handsome hubby carrying our 16 month old at Montgomery Bell state park"
"First time mommy here. My daughter Audrey Jade and I LOVE baby wearing. We prefer the ring sling. This day is special because it's her first time bowling and mama bowled her best games of her life. She was my good luck charm! She even was asleep for the 2nd half of the event. She felt happy and secure even in a loud bowling alley!"

First time babywearing her baby

"My first time wearing my baby in a sleepy wrap in the NICU"
"Here's the very first time I wore my first born son, Zion. That was 10 years ago."

"Babywearing in the rain at the Taste of Chicago last year."

"Babywearing at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago."

"My 7 month old son, Oran, and I hanging out while I.make dinner. He's teething and restless, but the sling chills him put, and I'm so thankful to be able to comfort him that way, especially when he's miserable from teething." ~Telly D
" I wanted to share a picture bwing my 2 year old at the fair a few weeks ago in our Kinderpack."