Packin’ up and movin’ out

Since you all might be sick of looking at “penis” at the top of my blog, I figured I’d get a post up before Christmas – just cuz I’m nice like that. ;)

I got all of my Christmas cards in the mail (finally!) today. Hooray!

And Jody and I met with Ava’s Waldorf preschool teacher tonight for parent-teacher conferences. Who knew we’d already be in for that with a 3-year-old. The conference went very well. It was great to hear more about Ava from someone else’s perspective and how she well she’s acclimated to preschool. I may blog more about the conference another time (when I have more time to spare).

We’re packing up and heading out tomorrow morning (or afternoon based on how quickly we get our crap together) for a road trip to southern Kansas to celebrate Christmas with Jody’s side of the family. We’re only driving half-way there tomorrow, then the rest on Sunday since the thought of trying to do 9 hours of driving in one day with two small children is not my idea of a good time. ;) I think breaking up the trip will go much better for all of us.

We haven’t yet turned Julian’s rear-facing car seat around (even though he’s a year old now), because he’s stayed relatively content with riding that way and it’s much safer that way (12 mos. and 20 lbs. is actually the minimum requirement for rear-facing). However, I think we are making the switch tomorrow which will hopefully keep him riding happily longer and will also allow Jody or me (the passenger seat) to recline and move back the seat a bit more, which will hopefully keep me/Jody riding happily longer as well. ;) I’d love to keep him rear-facing longer just because it is so much safer, but with all of this driving ahead of us, for my and Jody’s comfort (neither of us like riding with our legs all scrunched up and our seat-back straight up) and for the sanity of all, I think this is a good time to make the change.

I’ll likely be blogging during the trip as Jody will have two (count them – one, two) laptops (from work) with him. (Woot!) They may not be lengthy posts, but I might upload some pictures and whatnot. Then again, I might have some great wisdom to share. Ya just never know. ;) Speaking of pictures, Jody bought a new P&S camera yesterday. It seems to be a vast improvement over our old one, though I can’t even remember at the moment what kind it is. Anyway, it’s going on the trip with us.

I must get myself to bed in the very near future so I can get up and pack our bags in the morning. Oh, and finish laundry too.

Wishing you all a safe and happy long holiday weekend. :)

Protecting the penis

Thought that might get your attention.

I wasn’t sure I was going to blog about this, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it needed to be shared.

Last week I took Julian to the doctor for his 12 month check-up. Other than the cold he seems to have caught from his big sister and daddy, he did very well. He measured 32 1/2 inches tall (95th percentile) and weighed 24 lbs. 8 oz. (50th percentile). The exam was going smoothly until the part where the doctor opened up his diaper.

Some history here, for those unfamiliar with the state of my son’s penis (uh, that was odd to type), Julian is intact, as in not circumcised. If you’d like to read about how Jody and I came to that decision, see the infamous “The Circumcision Post.”

Anyway, upon opening up Julian’s diaper, the doctor proceeded to retract Julian’s foreskin a bit so that the head was exposed. She had never done this before and I had no reason to suspect she was going to so I didn’t launch into the whole “He’s not circumcised. Please don’t mess with his penis” diatribe. I just stood there, rather in shock at what had just happened.

Julian began crying shortly thereafter, though I don’t believe it was because of what she did with his penis. He was tired and probably just sick of being examined. So I picked him up and comforted him all the while wondering what the hell just happened, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t ask why she retracted his foreskin. I was like a deer caught in the headlights. And I left the doctor’s office feeling like I had allowed my son to be violated and that I’d failed him.

A few days later, I posted a message to one of my Yahoo Groups – a group of friends I have known for the past three-plus years, explaining what had occurred and asking them what the doctor may have been doing and also confessing my guilt of feeling like I’d failed to protect my son.

A bit of trivia for those of you unfamiliar with uncircumcised penises – the foreskin should never be forced to retract before it is ready. Any retraction of the foreskin before natural separation has occurred, as early as age three, but as late as early adulthood, can cause irreparable damage through bleeding and the formation of adhesions.

One of my friends, who is a former physician’s assistant, pointed out that the doctor may have retracted the foreskin slightly just to see if it was clear of irritation, and to see that the urethral opening was centered.

Another mentioned that before her child’s doctor examines her son’s penis (which included gently retracting it as far as it will naturally retract), she first lets her know what she is going to do.

Another retold the story about when her son’s doctor forcibly retracted his foreskin (and he had been circumcised) to the point that it bled and caused him great pain. She has since changed doctors and reminds the doctor before each visit that he is not to touch the child’s foreskin.

Still another mentioned that her doctor gently slightly retracts both of her sons’ foreskin to look at the boys’ urethra. However, she also brought to my attention a document called the “Intact Care Agreement” that states that even gentle stretching of the foreskin is too much and there is no reason to touch a boy’s penis during an exam.

Each also mentioned that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for what happened. We can’t protect our children all the time, but when something does hurt them, we can prevent it from happening again. It was that bit of advice that made me decide I should blog about it in hopes that I might help someone else.

I looked up the Intact Care Agreement online and found this – an agreement that the parents and health provider can sign and then have on record at their doctor’s practice.

While I’m left slightly confused as to what truly is the proper care for an intact penis, I think it is probably safe to say that in the vast majority of situations, there is no need for a doctor to try to retract the foreskin at all. I don’t feel that what Julian’s doctor did hurt him, but I don’t know that it was really necessary either. I do intend to talk to her about it since I’m going in for my yearly exam (also with her – she’s a family practioner) at the end of the month. I may or may not ask her to sign the Intact Care Agreement, but I am going to mention at every doctor’s visit that the doctor MUST ask me before touching my son’s penis. I think if she would’ve told me what she was going to do and explained why, I would’ve taken the whole situation much better. But because it was such a surprise to me, and because I remember reading time and time again that no one should retract a child’s foreskin except for the child himself, it took me very off-guard and left me feeling like I was to blame.

I guess the moral is live and learn and then spread the word so that others may benefit from the knowledge as well.

Green Girly Gift Guide winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the (mostly) Green Girly Gift Guide prizes. Thanks to the random number generator at, the winners are as follows:

Tees for Change t-shirt goes to: Phyllis of Ima on (and off) the Bima

Mama Needs It $25 gift certificate goes to: Christy (no blog listed)

What’s Cooking Weekly 6-month subscription goes to: Casey Berberich (no blog listed)

HP Photo Books go to: Katie Payne of Payne Family Adventure and Michele Judd of Life in the Old Pueblo

I will be emailing each of the winners later today to get mailing addresses where needed.

Thank you! :)

Simple toys better for children

colored blocksIn light of articles like this one, stating that as recently as Nov. 20, hazardous toys (containing high lead levels and other dangers) were still being found on the shelves in stores like Target, it’s validating (but really no surprise to me) to read that Simple Retro Toys May Be Better For Children Than Fancy Electronic Toys.

“Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls, simple building blocks, clay and crayons, that don’t cost so much and are usually hidden in the back shelves are usually much healthier for children than the electronic educational toys that have fancier boxes and cost $89.99,” says Temple University developmental psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek.

As Roberta Golinkoff, head of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware says, “Electronic educational toys boast brain development and that they are going to give your child a head start. But developmental psychologists know that it doesn’t really work this way. The toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind in this global marketplace.”

Golinkoff adds that “kids are not like empty vessels to be filled. If they play with toys that allow them to be explorers, they are more likely to learn important lessons about how to master their world.”

Suggested advice for parents is to “Look for a toy that is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child — ‘A lot of these toys direct the play activity of our children by talking to them, singing to them, asking them to press buttons and levers,’ Hirsh-Pasek says. ‘But our children like to figure out what is going on by themselves. I look for a toy that doesn’t command the child, but lets the child command it.’”

“Golinkoff adds, ‘The irony is that the real educational toys are not the flashy gadgets and gismos with big promises, but the staples that have built creative thinkers for decades.'”

Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek are the authors of “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn– And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less.”

For more advice and guidelines for selecting gifts for children, read the full article. Less really is more. :)

Weekend wrap-up : Nutcracker and an early Christmas (and BSM)

A weekend wrap-up with a Best Shot Monday thrown in for good measure :)

Dressed up for The Nutcracker - 12/15/07

On Saturday, the fam and I drove down to Denver so that Ava and I could go see The Nutcracker Ballet (thanks to the tickets I won from Mile High Mamas).

It turns out that when they recommend that you arrive two hours before the performance, they weren’t kidding around. Traffic was a bit crazy and, since we’d never been there before, we didn’t know exactly where Jody should drop us off, etc. We got into Denver an hour before the show was to start, but by the time we figured out where we needed to go and I got to the ticket window to turn in my voucher for actual tickets, it was only 30 minutes ’til show time. Unfortunately, that meant that the really good seats were already taken. The seats they had available were for the second balcony and were honestly still quite good, but had we been earlier we could’ve had great seats. C’est la vie, live and learn, and all that jazz. ;)

Of course we hadn’t yet eaten lunch and with little time to spare, we dashed over to the nearest coffee shop and ordered a couple sandwiches which we scarfed down in record time, before a hurried walk back to the opera house. Ava and I said goodbye to Jody and Julian and headed in to get to our seats just minutes before 2 o’clock. The show ended up starting about 5 or 10 minutes late, so we had time to sit there and catch our breath before the curtain rose.

Another problem with arriving at the last minute is by the time we got to our seats they were completely out of booster seats, so Ava sat on my lap for the show. It was actually kind of sweet that it worked out that way (other than the time she tooted on my leg – doh!) since she and I were able to whisper back and forth in each other’s ears throughout the performance. She, asking me questions or making observations – during the Christmas party at the beginning: “I wish I could be down there,” – when Clara was dancing with the nutcracker doll: “I wish I could be Clara” – and me explaining parts along the way. It was also nice to have my baby girl sit in my lap for that long. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that kind of closeness for such a long period of time.

Ava enjoyed the first act tremendously, but grew a little bit restless towards the end of the second act. Overall, she did really well though and said she loved it and wants our whole family to go back next year to see it. :) She told her grandma and Aunt Carrie that her favorite part was “when they went up on their tippy-toes like this” and she did her best ballerina impression. My favorites parts were not of the show itself, but of when we went to the restroom during intermission and saw so many little girls trying to walk on their tip-toes while saying, “I’m a ballerina.” And when Ava whispered, “Mommy, I love you” to me as we watched the first act. :)

After the boys picked us up, we all went out for a tasty Italian dinner, then headed home. Jody and I got the kids ready for bed, then wrapped presents. Even though it was a bit hectic getting to the Nutcracker, it turned out to be a fun and memorable day.

Ava, Amy, Jody and Julian in our new aprons - 12/16/07On Sunday we decided to do an early Christmas celebration, which really boiled down to opening presents. Since we will be out of town for Christmas this year (we’re driving the Kansas-Oklahoma border to spend the holiday with Jody’s family), we thought it’d be nice to let the kids open most of their presents from us, and all of their presents from Grandma and Grandpa in MI, Sunday morning so we’d have the full day to just hang out and play. We’re taking a few smaller gifts with us on the trip for them to open there, and will have the bigger items from Santa (doll house and train table) ready for them when we get home. (I’ll need to blog about how we got started on saying gifts were from Santa another time because this is a first for us this year and not something I was really planning on doing. But like I said, that’s a story for another time.)

Anyway, we had a nice lazy day. We opened some presents, ate a late big breakfast, opened some more presents (Check us out above in the groovy new aprons my mom made us! Ah, the family that bakes together. By the way, I’m counting that as my Best Shot Monday pic.), and ate a late lunch. Julian had a nice nap and Ava and I stayed in our pajamas until nearly 4 o’clock. The kids played and enjoyed their new toys. Jody and Ava did a jigsaw puzzle together. Aunt Carrie came by for a visit in the evening. It was a good, leisurely day and a nice end to our weekend.

We have a busy week ahead of us – packing for our trip (we leave on Saturday), a preschool tea, parent-teacher conferences, a possible dinner with my sister AKA Aunt Carrie, baking, painting a bird house for Ava’s teacher’s present, getting my holiday cards ready to be sent (late, I’m sure, since they won’t even be here until later in the week). It’s going to be good practice for me to just breathe, slow down and, like the Tees for Change shirt I love says, “choose happiness.”

If you didn’t catch it, my Best Shot is the picture of the 4 of us above. See more best shots over at Picture This (click the button):
little bsm button