Sunday 28 September 2008


It makes me so sad to hear women express their heavy regret over having circumcised their sons. Whether they circ'd due to misinformation, tradition, or pressure from others (family, friends, husbands or doctors), those that become fully informed after the fact and come to regret having allowed the procedure all say the same thing - "I wish I'd known then what I know now."

My heart goes out to them.

There are so many myths out there, from physical to emotional to cultural, it's easy for a woman to allow her son's foreskin to be cut off without giving it a second thought. After all, it's just what's done.

I remember thinking that at one point. When I first brought the issue up before our son was born, I was willing to let my husband decide - I figured hey, he has a penis, he'll know best. Thankfully, my (circ'd) husband didn't think it was necessary to put our son through that sort of pain. Up until that point, I had thought that everyone circumcised their sons, that it was just the proper thing to do. But after my husband said he didn't want it done on our son, I started researching the issue for myself. By the time our son was born, there was no way I would ever have him circumcised. I am so grateful that I had that information (and a husband who was inclined against the procedure anyway) and don't have to live with that regret.


The most frequent myth I hear about circumcision is that a circ'd penis is cleaner. There is simply no truth to this at all. With an intact infant's penis, you wash it the exact same way you would a circ'd infant's penis - just like a finger. No retraction required. Just wash the outside. An infant's foreskin is fused to the glans underneath, much the same way your fingernails are fused to your nail beds. At some point before puberty, the foreskin will become unfused, at which time the child will simply retract the foreskin to clean beneath during his shower, just as he would wash any other part of his body. It is no big deal.

By contrast, an infant's circumcised penis needs daily attention during the first two weeks, to make sure the cut edges do not adhere to the raw surface of the glans. It is very common for the leftover foreskin to begin adhering to the penis, even months down the line, requiring the skin to be pulled back again. I've recently talked with two mothers who say their sons currently flinch whenever the mother reaches to clean the penis - both of them circumcised boys whose remaining foreskin ahered and needed to be pulled back again several months ago.

Simply put, a circ'd penis is no cleaner than an intact one, nor is it any easier to keep clean.

The Foreskin's Purpose

I don't think this could possibly be stressed enough - the foreskin has a purpose.

The foreskin is not an "extra". It is an integral part of the penis, a God-given protection for the head (glans) of the penis - please don't take that away from your son.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The glans at birth is delicate and easily irritated by urine and feces. The foreskin serves to shield the glans. With circumcision, this protection is lost; the glans and the urinary opening may become irritated or infected, causing ulcers, inflamation, and meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urinary opening). Such problems virtually never occur in uncircumcised penises. The foreskin protects the glans throughout life.

The Circumcision of the Bible

"But God commanded circumcision in the Old Testament, so there can't be anything wrong with it."

If you are Jewish, then please, circumcise your son. But circumcise him in the manner done traditionally. Jewish people circumcised their sons on the eight day after birth. It has since been discovered that on the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin (a blood-clotting protein) present is elevated far above normal levels — and it is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak.

Furthermore, the Jewish form of circumcision removed only a tiny piece of the tip of the foreskin, not the amputation of the entire foreskin that is done today.

Jewish law requires circumcision, being a blood covenant, to be performed using a razor-sharp surgical knife, making the tiny cut instant and nearly painless. Hospitals, on the other hand, use clamps which completely crush and sever the skin, the nerve endings and the blood vessels in a lengthy procedure causing extreme pain and trauma to the child. This may even cause the child to withdraw into a state of neurological shock in response to the sudden and massive pain. In the year 2000, the FDA issued a warning about circumcision clamps, which it said can cause laceration, hemorrhage, penile amputation, and urethral damage.

Jewish circumcision is also different because the child is not strapped to a board, but held on a pillow by a loved one. He is given a wine soaked rag (and Tylenol and/or EMLA cream in many cases) and prayed over during the ceremony.

So please, if you are Jewish, perform the ritual circumcision on your sons as commanded by God, and perform it in the traditional manner. If you are Christian, then do not circumcise your sons, for as it says in God's Word:

"Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts." 1 Corinthians 7: 18-19

Matching Pairs

To me, this is the single strangest argument for circumcising a child: "But his father is circumcised!"

I just don't get this one. I have a brother and he and my dad certainly never compared their penises. When would this issue ever come up? One would hope that a father, rather than wanting his son's penis to look the same as his, would instead want what is best for his son.

The "locker room" argument is equally invalid, as the circ/uncirc rate in North America now is nearing 50/50. In 2006, 56.1% of newborn boys were circumcised in the USA.

No Reason to Circumcise...

Not one single medical organization recommends circumcision, but instead strongly recommend against circumcision. Many people will be hard-pressed to even find a doctor who will perform circumcision without giving you a very hard time about it, as it is so very unnecessary.

Paul M. Fleiss, MD, wrote an incredible article on the case against circumcision. It covers the issue clearly and thoroughly.

...But Every Reason Not To

The risks of circumcision are many, all for a purely cosmetic surgery that is recommended against by all major medical organizations. Circumcision can interfere with the success of breastfeeding. It affects an infant's behaviour, shattering their trust and leading to withdrawal and damaging the mother/infant bonding. It can have a multitude of complications, both physical and psychological. It is not worth it.


Please, make a fully informed choice. Don't circumcise your son based on a myth or pressure from others. One of your duties as a mother is to protect your son, so please don't expose him to the risks and trauma of newborn surgery and life without a protective foreskin. It's there for a reason.

There are more resources than I could ever hope to list over at The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers and The Circumcision Information and Resource Pages are both excellent resources as well.

Friday 26 September 2008


I've finally got back to knitting after putting it down for a year or so. And this time - get this! - I've finally started making things that aren't squares or rectangles.

I'm pretty much amazing, I know.

Tonight I used double pointed needles for the first time ever. Tonight was also the first time I picked up stitches to add something to a knitted piece. And when I bound off too tight, I was able to take out the bind off and redo it better.

For now, let's ignore the fact that after I bound off the second time, I discovered that the entire thing was too small, tight bind off or not.


When MIL was here in August, she helped me knit a diaper cover for the little guy. It turned out quite well.

"No Mom, I don't want you to lift my shirt up."

"Oh fine."

But I wanted to add cuffs to the bottom to help keep everything in the diaper better. This is where I left off tonight. I need to rip out the entire cuff and do it on bigger needles. It barely fits over the little guy's thigh as it is right now.

But at least I now know what I'm doing.

I recently managed my first successful start at knitting in the round with circular needles. I'm making at hat in these two gorgeous shades of blue.

I'm making it for the little guy, but we'll see how that goes size-wise. It might be keeping my ears warm this winter instead.

I also have these grandiose plans of knitting a sweater and a pair of pants for the boy. I have the wool and the patterns and everything - everything, that is, besides the courage to actually start knitting them.

But I've finished a couple more dishcloths since I started knitting again. That has to count for something...right?

I also made, just for fun, this silly scarf using 19mm needles.

It was a bit confusing to start with, but things all fell into place after a few rows.

Initially I just thought it would be fun trying to knit something with such massive needles. And it was! But more than that, it was intensely gratifying, as I was able to knit an entire scarf in a mere evening. My need for immediate gratification was happy. It's why I've never been able to finish projects in the past - the process is simply too long, the results just don't come fast enough. So an entire scarf in one evening? Very cool.

The scarf itself, however, was much less cool.

I sent it to my little sisters. They can play dress up with it or something.

My current major project is a blanket. I started making it with this yarn that initially made me go "meh". After a few rows, "meh" had turned into "blech". So I found some gorgeous yarn in a blend of blue and green and started again - I'm in love. I couldn't get the colours to look right when I was taking pictures of the blanket-in-progress, but this is pretty close.

It's a very pretty pattern.

It'll be a nice sized blanket when all is said and done. I'm learning to simply enjoy the process of knitting and the anticipation of a nice soft blanket at some point in the not-too-near future. It's coming along faster than I expected, though - which means that maybe it'll be done this year instead of the next. What can I say, I'm an optimist.

Maybe by then we'll have a new baby to snuggle.

One can always hope.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Am I ready for this?

Months ago, I submitted my volunteer application to Canadian Mothercraft's Birth and Parent Companion Program - more specifically, to the Birth Companion portion of the program. It was everything I was passionate about - encouraging natural childbirth, supporting breastfeeding, protecting early bonding and attachment between mother and baby, informing women of their options so they could make the best fully-informed decisions, being there for a woman during her pregnancy, labour and delivery. Could there be a more ideal volunteer opportunity out there for me?

Unfortunately a portion of the training was taking place during the weeks that my husband and I spent visiting my in-laws this spring. I was told that I would have to wait until the next training session in the fall. Disappointing, but okay, I would wait.

I was thrilled to receive a call from them last month asking me to come in for an interview in preparation for the fall training. I had the interview - best interview ever, getting to talk about all things pregnancy and birth related! - and waited to hear back.

I heard back.

They wanted me to consider being a Parent Companion instead.


I had glanced at that portion of the program. Had even planned to volunteer for it - some day. Some day when I had, you know, things like experience.

I'm so not qualified for this!

But she seemed to disagree. She thought it was great that I wanted to involve my son in this, she was thrilled that I still breastfed him, and she was certain that I was quite qualified to be a positive parenting role model to someone who had never had that in their life.


They had too many birth companions and not enough parent companions and they felt I was a good candidate to switch, at least for the time being, and perhaps become a Birth Companion at a later time. I agreed to do it.

I'm going to be a Parent Companion.

From the position description:

A Parent Companion is a mature adult with experience in parenting/child care who has the time and desire to help a young/single parent. Our volunteers provide support to the parent, and act as a friend and confidant for the young parent as she/he adjusts and develops positive parenting and family management skills. The work of a Parent Companion is needs responsive, varying with the need of each individual family. The volunteers are sensitive, compassionate, flexible, dependable and non-judgmental. There are times during the experience of serving as a Parent Companion when great patience and understanding are required.

I admit it - I'm nervous. I only have one child, and he's only 18 months old. People don't tend to give you much credit when you're in that position. If they don't agree with your opinions, they write you off as idealistic and unexperienced. You'll change your mind when he's older...You'll regret doing that...He'll never obey if you don't spank him...You just got lucky with your kid, that's all...He must be an easy one... And so on and so forth. If he's good, it's luck. If he's bad, it's because you don't spank him. These comments can be so discouraging and stinging, but I find peace in knowing that I am raising my son in a godly, biblical way, and I know that one day the sort of man he becomes will speak for itself. In the meantime, I so enjoy seeing the fruit of our efforts in numerous little ways each day. Our son is a delight to raise.

Fortunately, part of the intent of the program is to teach parents how to discipline their children without hitting them and without screaming at them. For most of these mothers, that's all they grew up with and all they know. We're asked to come along side them and be models of positive parenting - consistent boundaries, age-appropriate expectations, and healthy discipline.

We also attend parenting courses, workshops, events and activities with the parent. We act as an advocate for the parent when appropriate. We provide nutritional guidance for infants, children, and parents. We initiate assessment with the parent of useful support agencies and resources in the community, such as drop-in programs, toy lending libraries, parent support groups, academic upgrading, clothing, shelter, food banks, subsidized child care, etc. We help the parent determine goals for the family and discuss how to take the first steps towards those goals, explore options to help the parent learn how to cope with stress in day to day life, and encourage the young parent to learn from each unique situation. We watch for signs of abuse in the parent and child, and we encourage the parent to start a peer support system.

I can do that. I want to do that. As passionate as I am about the pregnancy and birth aspect, I'm equally passionate about the years of parenting that follow delivery. It is such an incredible responsibility, this being a mother, and women need to be just as fully informed and supported in this area too.

But I'm still nervous.

And excited.

And nervous.

Friday 19 September 2008


I love being married.

Last night was one of those wonderful precious nights where my husband and I laid in the dark talking until the early hours of the morning, our beautiful baby boy sound asleep snuggled between us. I so enjoy those times together, those fruitful discussions, those intriguing disagreements, those whispered confessions, those gentle reassurances and encouragements and affirmations.

My heart melted every time he brushed his lips against our son's forehead, each time he stroked my hair and whispered his love and thankfulness.

I fell asleep shortly before sunrise, snuggled against my best friend (sweet baby boy having been moved to my other side), feeling so loved and so at peace, knowing that there was someone who knew me so well and - for whatever crazy reason - still loves me completely.

It is so clear to me why marriage is a picture of Christ and his bride the Church. I've learned so much about the steadfast love of God since marrying this man who loves me despite my faults, forgives me when I wrong him, and seeks to serve me in whatever way he can. I delight in the same, loving him, forgiving his humanness, encouraging him, serving him, fulfilling my role as his helpmeet, his ezer, his "co-carrier of a burden", his "valiant ally".

I am so blessed to have married a man who understands true biblical marriage. Neither of us tries to "set the rules" or order the other person around. We are blessed with echad unity. Our marriage is an act of continual submission to each other, hupotasso, a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden. Always seeking to put the other person first - perhaps to a fault at times! *laughs* It does make deciding what to do rather difficult when we are constantly desiring the other person's happiness.

This oneness, this echad, this unity - it's breathtaking. It is so much more than I imagined it would be. It is not the ultra-conservative church's grossly diminished hierarchy that calls for mere obedience, not the matriarchy at the other end of the spectrum, and not the business partnership of so many marriages in our modern society - God's picture of marriage is so much more than any of that. And I am so grateful.

I love waking up beside this man every morning and knowing that, barring death, he'll be there again when I go to sleep that night. I love resting in the certainty that our marriage will be "until death do us part."

I love that we have such similar goals. I love our differences that force us to think, and the discussions that arise from that. I love his straightfoward honesty. I love that he values my opinions. I love the way he treats me, and I pray that I always do the same for him.

I love, too, that our marriage is so fun. We enjoy being together, we laugh hard and often, we flirt shamelessly with each other. We're pretty much sickening. It's wonderful.

It still strikes me as amazing that when I met him twelve years ago, back in the seventh grade, I knew instantly that God had chosen him for me. He stood out somehow, this quiet boy, and I felt a certainty that I couldn't explain. I had long ago convinced myself I was mistaken when, eight years later, he asked me out at last. Nothing felt more right than finally marrying that boy.

And it still does.

Friday 5 September 2008

Etsy finds

I'm loving Etsy lately (think eBay for handmade goods, only without the auctions), so I wanted to share some of my favourite Etsy sellers with you. You'll notice I bought a few skirts this summer. I feel guilty for spending money on myself, but my favourite skirts were wearing out and I just hate pants and shorts. Plus, my husband told me to. It's his fault. He made me.

My very first Etsy purchase ever was some felt food from Katie Made Goods (a Christmas gift for my youngest sister). Katie makes the most amazing felt food, as well as adorable customized teething dolls. I plan to buy more felt food from her when my son starts that sort of imaginative play. Right now, I'd be all "oh look honey, isn't this fun and adorable?!" and he'd be all "umm...whatever Mom", so we'll hold off on it for now.

I found myself this summer in need of a second denim tote, as the one I've had for years needed a little help on Farmer's Market days. A sweet friend of mine, Melody of Creative Radiance, made me a perfect one, with all sorts of useful pockets and really pretty fabric. Melody also makes custom knitted items, journals, and scrapbook albums.

My most favourite skirt ever was purchased from Andria Higgins Designs, who also sells handbags and embellished frames. I recently purchased a second skirt from her, and while I don't love the colours as much as the first one, it is a couple inches longer and should be quite pretty (I haven't received it yet).

I have such a hard time finding long skirts that fit my short legs, but I found a couple beautiful wrap skirts that fit perfectly from Siam2u. The skirts came all the way from Thailand and are truly amazing, especially the ones made from rayon. Beautiful and so comfy.

My last skirt purchases came from Tall Giraffe, who also makes pillow covers and coin purses. As a testament to how much I love my husband, I bought a skirt in, well, a truly hideous bright blue swirly pattern, because he loved it and wanted me to have it. This is one of those "don't leave the house with it" skirts. To make up for the hideous skirt, I also bought a really really pretty one from her at the same time. The skirts are fun, comfy, perfect for wearing around the house. Not so perfect for a windy day. And most of her fabrics are not the hideous bright blue swirly pattern that my husband decided was "so me" (*shudder*).

Finally, I bought some bandana-style headbands from GirLee Girls. Jenni very quickly and cheerfully picked a variety of fabrics to match the custom requests I had for her (to go with all my new skirts!). I haven't received the headbands yet, but she has great feedback and they look like they fit really nicely. I wanted something that wasn't as fussy to tie as the ones I have are, so these should be perfect. Just slip on and go!

Those are the Etsy sellers I've already purchased from. These next ones are ones I either haven't purchased from *yet*, or who have amazing products that are sadly a bit out of my price range (so I just drool over them in my favourites lists instead).

Palmetto Handmade sells these really neat little verse purses. They are fabric purses that fit a month's worth of verse cards in them. The verse cards come printed with various verses - she sells a set, for example, of peace verses, of joy verses, even a set of alphabet verses for children. These are definitely on my "to buy" list. She also has a couple of adorable and inventive baby items.

Mama Suds sells (vegan-friendly!) homemade body care products. Go ahead, pamper yourself.

Fate Goddess sells baby/toddler leg warmers - think Baby Legs for half the cost. I loved Baby Legs when my son was at the crawling stage, as well as during the winter (because those pant legs just never stay down!). I used them around the house instead of pants (made diaper changing a lot easier) and outside underneath pants (to keep those bare ankles warm). I think I'll be snatching up another pair or two for this winter.

Sadly, I'm not in the market, but Bronwen Handcrafted sells some *very* unique ring slings, pouch slings, mei tais (and more!).

Ellembee, Supastarr, Circular Accessories, and Rainbow Swirlz all sell hand-screened shirts in various styles. While I (sadly) cannot convince myself to spend so much on just one shirt when my $8 Walmart shirts do just fine, maybe one of you can. And post pictures, so I can live vicariously through you. Same goes for the awesome skirts Sutara sells and the neat organic cotton and hemp clothing Gaia Conceptions makes. Oh, and don't forget the girls' pillowcase dresses and the women's pillowcase shirts made by Designology - yes, I want pictures of those when you buy them too. Especially the pillowcase dresses for little girls, as I love pillowcase dresses but doubt my husband would appreciate me dressing my son in one.

Finally, my last two - Beneath the Rowan Tree and Green Mountain Wee Woolies both sell children's clothing and natural toys. I'm particularly interested in the playsilks, which I plan to buy my son for Christmas. Right now his old receiving blankets will do (he currently loves to have me tie one around him like a toga).

So go on, get shopping - and buy handmade!

Thursday 4 September 2008

Sheer brilliance

First they came up with a chicken pox vaccine.

This, as anyone with an ounce of common sense should have been able to forsee, led to an increase in adult shingles.

So what did they do?

They came up with a shingles vaccine too.

It's sheer profit brilliance.

(Oh, but it's not about the money. Really.)

Oh yes, and did you hear? There has been an increase in measles outbreaks recently. Measles are, after all, a "potentially deadly disease". Darn those religious homeschooled non-vaxers.

A few years from now, they'll be writing the exact same article, only about chicken pox instead of measles. Forget normal childhood illness (with lasting immunity, unlike the chicken pox vaccine's immunity). No, no, chicken pox is a "potentially deadly disease". Beware!

My boy likes cars

My in-laws were just here for a 10-day visit. I love my in-laws, they are truly amazing people and I am blessed to have them in my life. They're very supportive, even if they don't necessarily see why we do certain things the way they do (as evidenced by the first question MIL asked me upon arriving - "So, is he sleeping in his own bed yet?" She seemed to understand what I meant when I phrased my response, "No, he sleeps with us."). We had a great visit and I was sorry to see it end so quickly.

After they left, my husband told me MIL had noted our boy's obvious like for all things cars. After he agreed with her, MIL asked delicately if we, er, "encouraged" him in that direction.

Heck no!

My boy just likes cars.

We haven't tried to push our son into playing with "boy things" anymore than we would push our girls into playing with "girl things". He has stuffed animals. He has dolls. He has cars and trucks. He has blocks. He has a whole pile of "toys that aren't really toys" (his favourites are a spare toothbrush and a cheap flashlight).

But he prefers his cars and trucks over everything else.

And *believe me*, I tried to get him attached to a stuffed animal, thinking it might help him sleep better if he had something besides me to snuggle with. No go, only Mom will do. He has no interest in dolls, day or night. None of this nurturing care towards dollies that my friends with similar aged children talk about. Forget the doll, he wants his cars.

They join us outside, on walks, at church, even in the shower. His favourite pajamas are covered in racecars. (This morning he sat on the bed pointing to each racecar in turn, while I mumbled a sleepy ", there's another") His favourite t-shirts are his construction vehicles ones. He shows his toy cars off to the other condo residents in the elevators and hallways. They're the first thing he heads for in the church nursery when we go down for coffee hour.

He points them out when we're outside (buses are still his favourite, and oddly he seems to have a particular thing for red cars). His favourite books are filled with cars, trucks, buses and construction vehicles. His first almost-word was dump truck ("duh-truh!"), but sadly he won't say it anymore (much like "uh-oh"). Heck, he even points them out in catalogues! I was looking through the Wish Book last week and he had to point at every truck he saw. When I pointed out the more traditionally "girly" toys, he gave me a look of near disdain and flipped back to a picture of a toy truck.

So, to those who like to think that boys only like cars because we make them like cars...tell that to my son. He just likes cars. And we had nothing to do with it.