My Statement – January 20, 2017

Earlier today I read a post, “Let the Record Show” by John Pavlovitz, that pretty much exactly sums up how I feel about the upcoming four years. Not everything, but about 90%, which is pretty darn close.

This part, in particular, resonated:

“History has been littered with horrible people who did terrible things with power, because too many good people remained silent.”

I don’t want to remain silent and I won’t. However, I strongly suspect that once this post is published, this blog will be finished. I have small children to think about, their safety has to come first, and I believe we are entering a period of dangerous political ideologies. I’ll keep writing, of course, and talking to people I care about, both in person and online, but publicly posting my thoughts and opinions as myself doesn’t seem to be a great idea any longer.

I have a dear local friend who is elderly and was harassed horribly and stalked online because she dared to share her political opinion, similar to mine, in a local paper. She’s the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet, but how dare she share her opinion and expect to ever feel safe in her town or even home again! I have several other friends who have experienced violence, either verbal or physical, simply for existing around people who felt emboldened by the new atmosphere.

That seems to be the accepted mindset now. Violence, or the threat thereof, against any words of dissent or disagreement. Then subsequent denial of that violence because it’s “only fake news” or “people are just making it up.”

“Get over it” are the words of today on Facebook. I’m sure that I’ll have them directed at me too despite the fact that I’ve never told anyone else to “get over” someone who was elected. I cannot even fathom doing so. I’ve also never voted for a winning president in my life, but prior to now there were only political differences involved.

I firmly believe that the previous presidents, whom I didn’t vote for and vehemently disagreed with politically, were all good people who truly wanted to be president so that they could do a good job. I do not believe that this time. I see a self-serving man who wants money, power, and popularity. A man who will say anything to get a crowd to cheer for him. Who doesn’t seem to really understand how complex most of these issues he speaks about actually are. I’m not saying that he’s unintelligent – clearly he is very intelligent – but that’s not exactly a comfort in this situation.

I see the dissent that has already been sown in my friends and neighbors.

I see the violence on both major sides.

I see clearly the utter lack of caring, primarily from the Republican side, about anyone who dares feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable with this situation – let alone those who are genuinely worried about their basic needs and survival.

Most importantly, I see the most vulnerable people in our society fearing for their lives and the lives of their children – the poor, the ill, the elderly, the disabled. The “expendables” to many, it seems.

Interestingly enough, most of those I’ve seen saying “get over it” are not actually people who have exhibited a lack of empathy about other topics in the past. Not to my knowledge, at least. What makes this so different?

Why is this a situation where other people’s feelings are so easily and cavalierly dismissed and invalidated?

Let my record show, in addition to most of the things John Pavlovitz already said:

My values are incongruent with those of the incoming administration. They are mutually exclusive. I am not represented by them at all.

I highly value the various vulnerable populations in our country and will do everything in my power to speak up on their behalf whenever possible. All the way from nationally to locally.

If any of my friends, especially those who belong to any oppressed or minority group, find themselves in a bad situation, I will be there for you in whatever way I can be. Please let me know and I will help to the best of my ability. We always have food here and we have a house with extra space. Please don’t struggle in silence.

I will be the first to admit to being wrong about this situation, if I am.

Finally, my hopes:

That the next four years will be relatively uneventful and that things will be easier and better for everyone who is currently struggling or fears struggling more under the proposed plans.

That healthcare will somehow be improved.

That the public school system will be accessible for all children.

That tempers will be held.

That no nuclear weapons will be used.

That taxpayer money is spent wisely to help those who need it and to rebuild our infrastructure.

That nobody (else) dies as a direct result of the dissent and hatred that has been stirred up.

That I am dramatically, unequivocally, and indisputably wrong in my concern about the next 4-8 years.

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The Taboo Topic

I’m going to start off my first post of this year by talking about a pretty hot-button issue. I feel very strongly about this issue, but it’s really none of my business what other people choose to do about it. So, please, don’t tell me what you did or what you will or won’t do with regards to this issue. I don’t want to know because it’ll probably just make me sad and I don’t want the comments to turn into a debate (assuming enough people will even read this to make it a potential debate).

The issue, you ask? The issue is circumcision – routine infant circumcision, to be specific. This is a very American issue since the rest of the developed world stopped routine circumcision quite a while ago. This is also a human rights issue mixed in with the question of parental rights.

With this issue, there are many questions to ponder:

Why did the rest of the developed world stop this practice?
Where do parental rights end and the child’s right to his or her body begin?
What about religious beliefs?
How culturally important is it for a child to have a surgery simply because the parent of the same gender had that same surgery as a child?
What is lost to circumcision?

However, my main goal with this post is to encourage parents to really research circumcision before they decide either way. Please, look at what is lost to circumcision, which could also be called “foreskin amputation.” The foreskin is not just a useless flap of skin. Please, understand what you are taking away from your son before you decide to take it away.

There are all sorts of resources about the benefits of circumcision and I think it’s of extreme importance to get the other perspective – to seek it out before making a final decision.

Educate yourself so that if your son comes to you when he’s older and asks, “Mom/Dad, why did you circumcise me?” you can give him a good answer. “Because everyone else was doing it.” is not a good answer. The odds are good that your son will be happy with whatever he has, but as more boys in the US remain intact (the rate of babies being circumcised in hospitals during 2009 was a mere 32.5%), the likelihood of him realizing that he’s missing something and questioning your motives will probably increase.

Educate yourself so that you won’t learn something new in 1, 2, 5, or 20 years that makes you regret your decision. The more research you do, the more confident you will be in your decision.

I cannot even tell you how many mothers I’ve met who wish someone had encouraged them to look deeper into the issue of circumcision before they had their first-born sons. I’ve met countless women who circumcised their oldest and then, after learning more about what the surgery actually entails, left subsequent sons intact. Many of these women state that circumcising their son(s) is their biggest parenting regret.

Please be certain, before you send your son in for irreversible surgery on the most private and personal part of his body, that you are making the best decision for him. Not the best decision for you or for your family or for your friends, but for your son who will have to live with your decision for the rest of his life.

I encourage you to check out cirp.org and read the studies located there. The site has a definite pro-intact (not circumcised) bias, but the relevant studies are all represented and you can certainly ignore the commentary from the owners of the site if you wish to be more balanced about the issue.

You may also wish to take a look at Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC) if you’d like to hear the case against circumcision from the medical perspective. You’re almost guaranteed to learn something new about the foreskin which is, truly, an amazing part of the body!

Speaking of the case against circumcision, Dr. Paul Fleiss wrote an article many years ago called just that! Dr. Fleiss is a pediatrician and I believe he’s also a member of DOC.

If you’d never consider cutting your daughter’s genitals, but consider male circumcision to be beneficial for your son, I suggest that you look at this handy comparison chart, compiled by Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, an author and activist who has written some of the most groundbreaking books about the topic of Female Genital Mutilation. Of course female and male circumcision are different, but probably not as different as you may think.

What about the question of religious beliefs? I’m a Christian and can only really speak to the Christian aspect of religious circumcision. There are plenty of resources out there for Jews who want to look more into this issue. I don’t know enough about the Muslim faith to speak to the topic. However, it is very clear to me that, in reading the New Testament, circumcision is not something that is necessary for Christians.

In fact, Paul is very clear in Galatians that circumcision is not worth anything to followers of Christ Jesus. In fact, he states that if a man lets himself be circumcised, Christ is of no value to that man. Search the scriptures yourself – be very certain that it is truly a religious requirement before you circumcise only for that reason. Many Christians believe that they must circumcise, and that is clearly not the case.

Finally, I would like to encourage all the circumcised fathers out there – particularly those who want their sons to “match” them – to take a trip down memory lane and remember how many times they really compared penises with their father and if their family was open about nudity, was their father’s circumcision status really the first thing they noticed? Or did they notice first that there was a size difference and all that hair too?

This decision is one of the most important decisions you will ever make as a parent. Your son will live with the consequences of this decision for the rest of his life. I entreat you to not take this decision lightly. Circumcision is a surgical procedure, it is not a “little snip” and not everyone is having it done to their sons any longer.

~B.

Addicted to Fresh, Local Food

Hello. My name is Betsy, Barefoot Betsy, and I’m addicted to fresh, local food.

It all started nearly four years ago when my husband and I went to the local farmer’s market and stopped to buy some fresh, local vegetables from one of the farm stands there. I don’t remember what we bought, but I do remember the conversation we had.

Us – What does that sign behind you mean?
Farmer – This sign? (points to the sign that reads, “Ask us about our CSA!”)
Us – Yes. What exactly is a C-S-A?

The farmer then explained that CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and that becoming CSA members meant that we would get a box of fresh, local vegetables weekly for four months during the summer/fall and then we could extend that for two more months if we wanted a winter share.

I was pregnant at the time with my older daughter and getting so much healthy food without having to go to the store and pick it out myself sounded like a great deal! The price was reasonable so we decided to sign up and become CSA members.

I must admit with a bit of shame that the first year we were CSA members… we wasted a lot of awesome fresh, local food. It took a while for us to get the hang of using up what we had in the house instead of running to the store for ingredients while most of the food in our fridge began to slowly turn to mush. I was working full-time so my husband was doing most of the cooking and I couldn’t even make rice without following a recipe.

By the second year I had learned how to cook from scratch instead of needing to follow a precise recipe every time. Not needing to follow recipes made using up what we had already in our house so much simpler and cheaper! We were still wasting at least 1/8 of the food we were getting from our CSA share, but we were learning and it was getting easier and easier every week to use up the food before it became too old to eat.

The third year was the charm and it was also the year that I got irredeemably addicted to farm-fresh vegetables. Finally we managed to use up 99% of the produce we were getting! I figured out a system to keep track of what we had gotten in what week and I also knew how long most of the produce would keep in the fridge or on the counter by this time.

In the end, I believe it was the practice of eating fresh, local vegetables every single day that did me in. I could resist them when we were only eating them 4-5 days a week, but once we got in the habit of preparing just a little every. single. day. Well… that was my downfall.

Now that we’ve moved across the country, I’m about to apply to a new farm CSA program in this area. I’ve been several months without my fresh, local produce fix and I’m jonesing for some good locally-grown herbs, vegetables, fruits, and eggs. The best thing about all the CSA’s I’ve looked into around here? They all will deliver to my door!

Home delivery has to be the best way ever to satiate my desire for food as fresh as it can get – other than having my own garden, of course. However this year is a learning to garden year since it’s a completely different climate and we’re new to the whole gardening thing to begin with. The CSA will be our backup until we learn how to grow our own home-grown fresh food!

I could quit anytime though. Really. I could. If I wanted to. I just don’t want to. Fresh, flavorful food that makes everything I cook taste gourmet – why would I ever want to give that up and go back to the dry, tasteless veggies in the grocery store?

~B.

The Almighty “Due Date”

The most important date to me throughout my pregnancy with my first child was, not surprisingly, my due date. I was convinced that my baby would come early – several days early, no less. My mom’s babies came early and therefore mine should too, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when my due date came and went and I was still pregnant!

My midwife had prepared me for the possibility of going over my due date, or at least she had tried to prepare me for it. No matter how many times she reminded me that it didn’t matter when my mother’s babies had come or that the almighty Due Date was just an approximation, I was still convinced that my baby would be early! Or, at the very least, not late. That is what I thought, at least until after my due date.

As due dates go, my first one was pretty accurate. My daughter was born only two days past my due date. That’s practically right on time! Except that after my first birth, I learned a bit more, and came to realize that the due date doesn’t really mean very much at all which is why it is more accurately referred to as an “estimated due date” instead of an “almighty due date.”

During my pregnancy with my second daughter, I viewed the due date very differently. In the first place, we were basically just guessing about the due date. I didn’t have much of an idea of when I actually got pregnant since I was nursing my older daughter at the time. It was much less of a sure thing. If we went by LMP, my due date was nearly a month earlier than if we went by implantation spotting and uterine size determined by palpation.

When people would ask me when I was due I would tell them, “Oh, anywhere from 8 to 13 weeks from now.” I figured out the number of weeks by including the three weeks before and two weeks after my estimated due date which is the usual window for a baby to be born during. I figured that this way I could avoid having other people thinking of me as “overdue” and I could avoid that thinking for myself as well.

I think that by having a “due date” it’s all too easy to fall into thinking that the baby needs to be born *by* that date – as I felt with my first daughter. I think that women would be better served by thinking of their “due weeks” – the 5 week period of time when it’s most likely their baby will be born. The vast majority of babies are not born on their due dates and that’s completely normal! Babies born during that five week window do not have any extra risks compared to babies who are born on their exact due date. Those five weeks are all considered full-term when labor begins spontaneously during them.

On the other hand, the common practice of artificially inducing labor just because a woman has reached or passed her due date can lead to completely avoidable complications – babies born too soon (since labor begins when the baby is ready to come out), labor that isn’t progressing well enough (since the mother’s body wasn’t ready to have the baby quite yet), and unnecessary c-sections (for labor that isn’t progressing well enough).

An excellent short article about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) that also includes a bit of the history of the origin of estimated due dates can be found here.

The due date should be a guide and a reference point, but it is not an expiration date!

~B.

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