Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: July 2013

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why on Earth Would Anyone NOT Circumcise Their Son?!

I hear this phrase a lot from people.  Many, many people think that circumcision is simply something that everyone does.  Certainly, for several generations, this is what Americans have done.  However, over the past several years, that has changed.  And there are a lot of reasons for that change, although many people are still unaware of what those reasons are.  So, I'm going to share some of those reasons today.

1. Foremost, circumcision is not a medical decision.  It is a cosmetic decision.  Many parents do not understand this; they believe that there is a medical reason for removing the foreskin.  It used to be believed that there were medical benefits to removing it, but now that we have better scientific studies, and are better able to share the information we find, we know that the perceived benefits are really not there.  Circumcision does not lower rates of HIV (1, 2, 3), STDs, Urinary Tract Infections, or cancers.

2. Many people feel that parents do not have the right to have a cosmetic surgery done on an infant who may not have wanted the surgery to be performed.

3. Many people believe that a circumcised penis is cleaner and easier to care for.  In fact, it is harder to care for when the parents will be in charge of caring for it.  The foreskin is generally self-cleaning.  When the boy is a baby and young child, all that is required for an intact penis is washing the penis just as one would wash any other body part.  When the child is old enough that the foreskin is no longer fused, he can retract the skin on his own and wash with soap and water in the shower.  This is not difficult.

Caring for a newly circumcised penis involves checking at every diaper change in the beginning to make sure baby isn't losing blood from the surgical site.  It involves keeping the wound clean and dry - in an area full of urine and feces.  It involves putting ointment on at every diaper change to ensure that the wound doesn't stick to the diaper.  And if an infection sets in, it involves caring for the infection.  This is much more involved.  And, as circumcised boys age, they still have to apply soap and water at shower times - just like the intact boys.

4. Many people believe that most boys are circumcised, and their son will feel different or outcast if he is left intact.  Again, this is not true.  Only in Israel are the majority of boys still circumcised.  This is because in Israel, the majority of boys are Jewish and are circumcised for religious reasons (although many Jewish families are choosing not to circumcise now).  In America, only about 33% of boys are still routinely circumcised - and we are still doing more routine infant circumcisions than the rest of the world.  About 80% of the world's population is not circumcised (and please stop and consider that if 75% of Israel's population is circumcised, this means that mathematically, almost all other countries do almost no routine circumcision to get to that 80%).

In America, the rate of circumcision varies widely by state and region, but no matter where American families live, the majority of boys in America are no longer circumcised and the rates are continuing to decline.  Even if the rates in a given area are currently high, the fact is that the rates will continue to drop.

5. Many people believe that it is better to do the circumcision on a newborn, when the baby will have less pain and won't remember it.  This is COMPLETELY false for a variety of reasons.

The pain a male who is older than a newborn experiences during surgery is minimal, since anyone older than a newborn is given anesthesia.  Newborns are almost always circumcised without any type of anesthesia or pain medication at all.  After the surgery, an older male will be given pain medication to alleviate the pain until the wound heals.  A newborn is given nothing for the pain from the wound.

Mothers are often told that their sons "slept right through" the surgery.  The only stretch of the imagination that makes this possible is when a newborn baby is so traumatized by the pain, that their bodies are not able to process it any longer and the baby looses consciousness.  This happens often.  But the baby does not drift gently off to sleep, as he does in his mothers arms.  The baby is screaming, crying, choking, and basically being tortured until his body cannot stand the pain any longer.

Often, the pain of circumcision causes the baby to become so lethargic or uncoordinated that they are not able to breastfeed for several days or a week (1).  This can cause problems with mom's milk supply coming in, and lead to a spiral of breastfeeding problems.  Expectant mothers who are planning to breastfeed should take this into consideration when deciding whether or not to circumcise.

6. Circumcision removes a piece of skin that will be the size of an index card in an adult male.  That piece of skin serves many purposes.  It houses the majority of the nerve endings in the penis.  It creates lubrication, which aids in sexual intercourse with benefits for both partners.  It protects the glans from chafing.  It keeps out foreign substances. (1)

Removing this piece of skin, on the other hand, can cause many problems.  Scarring can make it difficult or painful to have an erection - and erections happen naturally in all males, throughout all stages of life, unrelated to sexual arousal, unless there is another medical issue at hand.  Scar tissue can cause the erect penis to pull (slightly, or very much) to one side, which can be uncomfortable, or even painful to sexual partners, and embarrassing for the owner of said penis.  Circumcision can lead to problems which make it difficult to get or maintain an erection.  And. probably least of all, circumcision scarring can be unsightly, causing embarrassment or discomfort for the male.

7. Many people believe that circumcision is a simple, painless, low risk procedure, with no negative side effects, akin to trimming fingernails.  Again, this is completely not so (1).  At a minimum, many baby boys are disfigured by botched circumcisions, daily.  It is not uncommon for a boy to loose the function of hi penis after a botched circumcision.  Some boys have actually lost their entire penis after a botched circumcision.  And worst of all, in the United States of America, an estimated 117 baby boys die every year from complications of circumcision.

Let's think about that again, shall we?  One hundred seventeen baby boys die every year solely because they have an elective procedure done.  To put that in perspective, 8 baby boys the same age will die in car accidents - yet most parents cannot imagine being in a moving vehicle with an unrestrained newborn.

Baby boys die from several different complications of circumcision, including "anesthesia reaction, stroke, hemorrhage, and infection."  (1)  The sad part is that every single one of these deaths is completely avoidable, because this is an elective procedure in newborns.

So, when someone says, "Why on Earth would anyone not circumcise their son?" we all know seven very good reasons not to.


Monday, July 29, 2013

We're Moving!

Again...  Hehe!  It is a local move, but we are moving from one rental property to another.  And boy, is it much harder 7+ months pregnant and with 3 kids!  It is taking us a little time to get things unpacked, put away, and settled in, so there may not be any new content for a few days.  Watch for some good articles for World Breastfeeding Week, starting August 5, though!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guest Post: Tanner's Induction and Birth Story

I rarely host guest posts, and the only birth stories I have ever shared here have been my own.  I have shared them because they are beautiful, encouraging birth stories.  However, in the last few days I have become familiar with a birth story involving an induction for a big baby, with several routine interventions that was such a scary example of what can go wrong when we start messing with women's bodies and births unnecessarily.  I was so struck by how poorly this mother and baby were treated - not because the doctors and nurses were disrespectful, didn't do their jobs, or anything else that would be considered out of line.  All of the interventions that this woman experienced are considered perfectly normal and acceptable by the medical community.  Because of this, I wanted to share her story with my readers, so that people who aren't aware of the dangers of these interventions, and who think that they are giving "informed medical consent" will understand that the risks are real and high.

This is the story of Kaylee and Tanner Price's birth.

**There are pictures at the bottom of this post of Tanner after his birth.  They are graphic in nature.  If you do not wish to see them, please stop reading where I indicate that the pictures will be shown next.**


The interventions started at about 38 weeks. I was told that I should expect "a big baby".  I had an ultrasound and they told me that the baby was already measuring at 9 lbs. My doctor recommended induction. I had my membranes stripped twice, which did nothing.

At 40 weeks, I was impatient like many pregnant women. The doctors had warned me that my son was measuring quite large (10 lbs). I was 2 cm dilated and had been for 3 weeks. I decided to go ahead with the induction. I showed up Tuesday at 5 pm and was given cervidil to sleep on so that I woke up with a nice soft cervix. That never happened. I didn't sleep that night, Tanner kept rolling off the monitors and the nurses would not leave me alone. All day Wednesday I was not progressing. They gave me pitocin. They gave me more pitocin, more pitocin, more pitocin. Somewhere in the middle of the pitocin, I was given nubain  which made me feel awful.  Then more pitocin.  Then they stripped my membranes again, because I wasn't dilating.  Eventually I got to 4 cm about 1 pm on Wed. At that point, I received my epidural - which, of course, lead to more pitocin. Sometime afterward, they broke my water.  I slept the rest of the day, through the contractions, through everything. I remember being SO thirsty and begging in the nurse for apple juice. She kept telling me you cannot drink while you are in labor because they might have to give you a c-section.

I woke up about 8pm on Wed evening. I was 9cm dilated. The nurse checked me and said she felt that the baby was in an awkward position; specifically she said she thought she felt an ear. I was sent for an ultrasound. My son was "face present" meaning he had locked into my pelvis coming out face first. Face presentation births are pretty rare, but even more rare is the fact that he was coming out lips first. I was told that I would need a C-Section. My worst fear.

My OB/GYN arrived at that time and the nurse told him she was prepping me. I was mortified. Thank God I spent the last 6 months stressing to my Doctor that I was NOT having a C-Section. He told me that I could have a vaginally delivery but I would need to be prepared to have a bruised up baby "Nothing serious, nothing permanent". My friend was present during my birth that happened to work in the NICU at the hospital. They wanted a NICU nurse present “just in case” so she hand selected two of the best NICU nurses.

I recall asking why this happened and not really getting a good answer, other than "the baby just happened to descend into the birth canal this way." To be honest the staff did a great job of not alarming me.

I started pushing at 12am Thursday morning. That's right, Tuesday....Wednesday.... Thursday morning. After 10 minutes of pushing, the nurse flew across the room, hit the emergency button, and I heard my OB cut me, 3 times, snip. snip. snip. And out came a baby. I didn’t feel my episiotomy, but I heard it. I would argue that hearing your vagina being cut open might be as awful as feeling it. I didn't see Tanner. I remember looking up to try and see him and seeing my OB cut the cord. I was mad because my mom was supposed to do that. Oh well, too late now. They took him to the other side of the room and in a blink of an eye there were 6 NICU nurses working on my angel. There were so many people and my epidural was wearing off. My OB started stitching me up. It was painful. Stitches were the most painful part of the entire experience. After a few minutes I realized my son wasn’t crying. My mom knew he wasn’t breathing but I didn’t. She did a great job of keeping me distracted. There was so much chaos. Tanner was resuscitated and started nursing immediately despite his poor face. He is my angel.

I will never again by induced unless it is medically necessary. Tanner was not BIG. He was 7.6 lbs. He was not overdue. In fact, despite them "measuring me at almost 41 weeks" they think he was 37 weeks gestation. I was in labor for 30 HOURS.

All of the interventions caused further problems.

The doctor told me after that having my waters artificially broken resulted in the face presentation, because Tanner descended too quickly.

The episiotomy resulted in me having a 4th degree cut with 46 total stitches. Literally the stitches are all the way to my anus. The scar still causes me pain 4 years later.

They cut the cord before Tanner was stable which resulted in them spending 15 minutes resuscitating him.

They also put an internal fetal monitor on. In the second picture (below) where he was not as purple you can see the cut in the middle of his forehead from the internal monitor. He also had abrasions on his eyelids where they missed his forehead with the monitor. Had his eyes not been closed they could have very well made him blind because the monitor sliced both lids.

I spent the next week with the most terrible epidural withdraws.

My son almost died from NOTHING OTHER than my decision to let the doctors induce me and a series of piss poor medical interventions.

The following are pictures of Tanner after his birth.  They are somewhat graphic and may disturb some sensitive viewers.  However, as they are a real and valid part of this birth, I would like to share them.  Please feel free to stop reading now, if you do not want to see the pictures.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gentle Parenting Foundations

One of the key components of gentle parenting is that we look deeper than the symptoms.  When our child is "acting out" or "not listening", we don't just deal with the current situation - we deal with the causes of the behavior.  Does the child have a need that isn't being met?  Is there a misunderstanding about what the child is doing?  Is there a misunderstanding about what the parent expects?  Is there a lack of communication?  What is it that is causing the problematic behavior?  What is the cause of the symptom.

As parents, we look at these same symptoms in ourselves, and in our parenting, and we address the deeper issues behind our parenting.  If we are constantly frustrated with our child's behavior, why is that?  If we are usually on the brink of spanking or hitting our child, why is that?  If we are usually on the verge of (or actually) yelling at our children, why is that?  It isn't because of our children.  The reactions that we have to our children come from ourselves!

In order to be effective gentle parents, it is very important to lay some real groundwork.  If our parenting isn't built on a sturdy foundation, it won't hold up when rough weather comes along!

A few key foundation pieces to gentle parenting:

Address your own issues first
1. Address your own issues first.  What was your childhood like?  What was good about it?  What wasn't so good?  What did your parents do that you want to incorporate into your parenting?  What did your parents do that you want to do differently?  What are your feelings about how children should be treated?  What are your feelings about how children shouldn't be treated?  What happened in your own life that is going to be an obstacle to treating your children in the way you want them to be treated?

One big aspect of our parenting is what was modelled to us as children.  We will constantly measure ourselves against that yardstick, whether we count our childhoods as being good, bad or somewhere in-between.  We will think of how our parents did differently and wonder if it was better.  When we are having a bad day with our kids, we will wonder if we are making the right choice.  When the mess really hits the fan, we will fight the impulses in ourselves to react the way our parents did, if it was less than gentle. And sometimes, we will lose that fight.

Dealing with the emotions surrounding our own childhoods is probably THE most important thing that we can do as parents.  Taking the time to sort out all of what was good and bad, and making conscious decisions about our own goals that we can look to in times of hardship is such a huge foundation piece for being the parents that we want to be.  Until we do this step, we will NOT be successful as gentle parents.  And sometimes, we will have to go back to this step again and again.

Dr. Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting has some good tips for this, here.

2. Set realistic expectations of ourselves, and our children.  This step requires a lot of work and effort.  First of all, setting realistic expectations of ourselves is hard.  Do we work, or stay at home?  Do we homeschool, or do we send our kids to school?  Do we feed our kids the right thing?  Do we blog, craft, cook from scratch, macrame, do underwater basket weaving? Do we have enough play dates?  Do we have enough extra-curricular activities?  Do the kids play enough instruments?  Are we helping our children to achieve their developmental milestones?  Are we giving our children enough free time?  Are we too worried about comparing our children to some chart?  Do we hover too much?  Do we give our kids too much freedom?  Do we keep the house clean enough?  Do we spend enough time with our kids?  Do we spend enough time away from our kids?

Hard, hard, hard.

It really comes down to making our own choices about what we are capable of doing, and when we are capable of doing it.  If we want to integrate things that we haven't yet, we take it in small steps, because that is what is realistic.  If something is too much of a drain on us, we figure out an alternative, because we need to have the energy to deal with our families every day.  And no one else can tell you what you are capable of.  You are the only one who can decide that!  So set realistic expectations for yourself and don't get bogged down in the expectations of others.

Setting realistic expectations for our children can be JUST as hard, if not harder.  It is very important to know where our children are at developmentally, and have appropriate expectations for their ages and development.  There are many books devoted to this subject.  You might check out the Your ___ Year Old series by Louise Bates Ames for great year by year expectations.  Researching is easy, albeit time consuming.  It is ok to have high expectations of our children, but only within the context of what they are capable of doing.  If some blogger says that your two year old should be able to sweep the kitchen floor proficiently, as part of his chores that he receives his allowance for, we need to evaluate that against our own children.  Is your two year old coordinated enough to sweep a floor properly?  Is he capable of understanding the concept of money as a reward for work?  Is he capable of understanding that this is something you expect him to do on a regular basis in exchange for an allowance?  Mine is not.  But I can't speak for yours.  This example is purely hypothetical, but I am sure that somewhere is a mother who has such high expectations of her two year old.  And maybe it works for her!  But gentle parenting is about expecting what our kids are capable of, and not more than that.  I see examples daily of mothers who simply have unrealistic expectations of their children who are then continuously frustrated because their children "won't" comply with the rules.

3. Remember that while we are not responsible for our children's behavior, we are responsible for our children.  This means that if your child hits another child, you are not responsible for the hitting.  You are, however, responsible for talking to your child about not hitting and a better way to handle the situation, in an age appropriate manner.  If your child needs something when you are leaving the house, you can tell them to get it, but you are ultimately responsible for making sure it goes with you; even if that means getting up and getting the item yourself.  And if the item gets forgotten, it means that you don't get to be upset with the child over it.  It means that when your kids are fighting, you don't get to blame the children for it - you get to teach them problem solving skills.  It means that when there is a new skill to learn, you don't blame the child for not mastering it immediately - you get to teach them how to perform the skill.  Sometimes, you get to teach them this several times.  And as a gentle parent, you get to do all of this gently, without yelling, blaming, name calling or shaming.

Proper tools at hand; inappropriate objects out of reach.
4. Set our kids up for success.  This means that we put up things that we don't want them in.  We put them in situations where they can live up to our expectations.  We give them age appropriate tools.  We dress them for the occasion.  We give them liberty.  We give them room.  We let them know that we love them just as they are, and just for being them.

These four tools are the cornerstones of gentle parenting.  Laying these as the groundwork for other gentle parenting coping skills gives us a solid platform from which to use those tools.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Simplifying with a Baby

Welcome to the July edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - With Kids cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about keeping things simple with our kids. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.
As most of my readers know, we are expecting our fourth child in September.  I'm sort of having a case of deja vu this go round, as my pregnancy has been quite a bit similar to Sofiya's pregnancy.  My due dates for the two babies are less than two weeks  (and 7 years) apart.  I am pregnant in a new area, again.  For the first time since that first pregnancy, I am not surrounded by a community of friends.  I started feeling movement at the same time in the pregnancies - 12 weeks.  The two babies are/were both super wiggly.  Heck, we even drove to Missouri on Memorial Day weekend with both babies - once to move there and once to visit the friends and family we have there.

But one thing is vastly different with this baby.  With Sofi's pregnancy, I was scrambling to make sure I had everything I would "need" for a baby.  And I felt like I was very conservative with my list of needs at that point.  But the amount of "stuff" that I acquired then was exponentially more than the things that we have for this baby.

Sofi "needed" dozens of outfits for both warm and cold weather.  She "needed" a changing pad, a cradle, swaddling blankets, tons of receiving blankets.  She "needed" a crib with an adorable bedding set.  She "needed" two diaper stackers.  She "needed" a Diaper Genie, with several refills.  She "needed" a swing, a high chair, a bumbo, a bouncer chair, and a stroller.  She "needed" a Pack N Play.  She "needed" a dozen and a half bibs, several baby spoons, 4 or 5 sippy cups for daily use, a Magic Bullet blender, several ice cube trays, and dozens of plastic storage containers to hold her frozen baby food.  She "needed" dozens and dozens of plastic toys that I had bought at yard sales for a quarter each - or less.  She "needed" the correct developmental toys at the correct ages.  She "needed" two baby gyms.  She "needed" the baby bathtub.  She "needed" special oils, lotions, creams, balms, shampoos, and body washes.  She "needed" more disposable diapers and wipes - all the time.  She "needed" lots and lots of books.  It was really amazing how much that little baby "needed".

This baby, on the other hand, needs so little.  He has hand me down clothes from his two older brothers - enough clothes to last until laundry day every week.  We still have the crib, which we put in the side car position, next to our bed.  Mostly, the babies sleep in bed with us, but if I can slip him over into the crib, or lay partially in the crib myself, it gives us a bit more room in the bed.  But, the fancy bedding set is gone.  Instead there are homemade quilts and soft sheets.  The cradle, which my husband slept in as a baby, is often set up in the living room to give me a safe space to place the baby where the kids or dog won't trip over him if I need to run to the bathroom.  But I no longer see the need to have several sleeping areas staged for one baby.  The diaper stackers and Diaper Genie, with its infinite, expensive refills is gone; replaced by much more efficient cloth diaper pails that hold, between two of them, an entire load of diapers at one time.  The infinite disposable diapers and wipes are gone - replaced by cloth diapers and wipes that are a one time investment.  The changing pad, swaddling blankets, and most of the receiving blankets have moved on.  We still have a high chair, but the bouncy seat, Bumbo, and giant swing were replaced by one portable swing that is about 18" wide, 18" tall, and folds to about 4" deep.  I can use it when I want it and stash it when I don't.  We still own a stroller that is compact, light weight, and efficient.  Elliott has 2 sippies for daily use, and I should imagine the new baby will have something similar.  We have about 3 baby spoons.  I no longer make baby food ahead and freeze it. I simply make sure that when we get to that point, I make something each meal that the baby can have too.  If all else fails, there is almost always a jar of applesauce in the fridge.  We now have one small basket of baby toys.  If the baby is bored with those, he can check out some of the older kids' toys.  He doesn't need special developmental toys.  Instead of two baby gyms that take up several square feet of space each, we now have a small, handmade wooden baby gym that stands on any blanket I lay on the floor.  It takes up significantly less space, and is a beautiful addition to our home.  The baby bathtub disappeared before Sofi's first summer.  Instead, our babies bathe in sinks, regular tubs, or with a wash cloth.  We use only one shampoo and body wash combo, and if there is a dry spot or diaper rash issue, we use my own homemade ointment.  We have moved on the dozens and dozens of poorly written books that I amassed for Sofi and, instead, have a nice collection of well written books that we all love, but is far less extensive.  I will say that I own more carriers now than I did when Sofi was a baby, but I also have a wider variety of children to carry in them, as well.  Overall, I have simply come to discover that what we need is actually very little.  What someone else needs us to buy can be an overwhelming lot.

So, a recap, just for fun:

2-3 dozen outfits
changing pad
swaddling blankets
several receiving blankets
adorable bedding set
2 diaper stackers
Diaper Genie and refills
high chair
bouncer chair
Pack N Play
18 bibs
7+ baby spoons
4 or 5 sippy cups
Magic Bullet blender
5 ice cube trays
24 plastic storage containers
dozens and dozens of plastic toys
“correct developmental” toys
2 baby gyms
baby bathtub
body washes
1800+ disposable diapers
several packages of disposable wipes
100 books
3 ring slings
1 mei tai baby carrier
1 pouch carrier
New Baby:
10 outfits
5 receiving blankets
crib sheets
2 large capacity diaper pails, no liners
high chair
6 bibs
3 baby spoons
2 sippy cups
8 baby toys
1 handmade baby gym
shampoo\body wash combo
2 dozen cloth diapers
2 dozen cloth wipes
30 books
2 wraps
2 ring slings
1 Ergo baby carrier
1 mei tai baby carrier

I'm sure that in this general list, I've missed a few things, like baby nail clippers.  But in general, you can see that we have come to realize that there is actually very little that we need for a baby.  And it is a much more comfortable feeling to know that I can survive, and help a baby to grow and thrive - without worrying about how to pay for all of that extra stuff.
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living and parenthood. We hope you will join us next month when we discuss celebrations!    

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Foodie Friday: You Say Potato, I Say Potato

I don't really remember what types of side dishes we used to eat with dinner, before the food allergies came into our lives.  Heck, I don't even remember what we used to eat before we became gluten free, anymore, and that was 2 years after we eliminated the other allergens!  But I do know what we eat now.

We pretty much always have some type of veggie (or two).  We regularly have jarred applesauce.  We sometimes have rice, although not everyone in the family is a huge fan.  We sometimes have quinoa, although, again, not everyone in the family is a huge fan.  Most nights, we have some form of potato.

Now, potatoes have gotten a bad name considering that many American children count potatoes as the only vegetable they will eat - and then it is only in the form of a fast food french fry.  But the potatoes in and of themselves are not to blame!  They are actually fairly high in nutritional value, if not sliced up and deep fried in oil and laden with salt.  One large sized, plain baked potato actually has very little fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and very little sodium.  It is high in fiber and has 7 grams of protein.  This same potato contains 48% of your daily vitamin C, 21% of your daily folate, and 18% of your daily iron.  Not too shabby!

The key that we have found to keeping the spud interesting when we use them so much, is to keep a lot of variety going.  And since we are pretty good at that, I'm going to share with you, my lovely readers, all of the different ways we like to prepare our potatoes!

Potatoes 20 Different Ways:
1. Bake them whole!  If you are looking for a dairy (and soy) free alternative to butter and sour cream, try mayonnaise.

2. If it is too hot for the oven, try baking them on the grill, or in the crockpot.

3. Slice them into home style fries, toss lightly in olive oil and oregano (or whatever other spice you like) and bake them.  Healthy baked fries!

4. Dice them into cubes, toss in olive oil and oregano (or whatever spice combo you like), and roast in a 2 - 3 inch baking dish.  Walter refers to this as his "favorite potatoes ever".

5. Slice in rounds, and lay in a baking dish.  Create a sauce by melting cheese or cheese substitute in a saucepan, along with a little milk, milk substitute, or water.  Add basil and oregano, salt and pepper.  Mix cheese sauce and potatoes and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Slice in rounds and fry in a skillet or a griddle.

7. Dice into cubes and fry in a skillet.

8. Shred and make hashbrowns in a skillet.  Even more fun if you add different toppings!

9. Parboil them, them mash them with milk and butter if you can do dairy.  If you can't do dairy, mash them with chicken broth and mayonnaise.  Add salt and pepper and serve them up!

10. Roast "new" potatoes - those little bitty ones.

11. Save leftover mashed potatoes and freeze them.  Later, get them out, thaw them, and pop them in a glass baking dish.  Bake just long enough to warm up and then, if the tops aren't browned, put them under the broiler for just a minute or two.  My grandma calls them twice mashed potatoes and I call them heavenly!  Although, admittedly, I'm not sure where one comes up with these phantom "leftover mashed potatoes".

12. Lay a whole potato out lengthwise, and using a sharp knife, but the potato almost all of the way through, in very fine "slices".  It is just like slicing the potato, except that you don't cut all of the way through.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with some seasoning, and bake.  The "slices" will crisp up and are delicious!

13. Dice them up, or use teensy tiny potatoes whole, on skewers when you make shish kebabs.

14. Cold potato salad.  I could cheat and call mustard and mayo variations two different numbers, but I won't.

15. Potato pancakes.

16. Use some different varieties of potato, like yukon gold, russets, or blue potatoes, for some fun different flavors.

17. Stuffed baked potatoes - bake, scoop out the insides, mix with butter, sour cream, mayo, cheese, bacon, chili, chives, whatever else does it for you, and fill potatoes back up.  I will say that I never personally take the time to do this, but if you have the time, go for it!

18. Put them in soup or a stew.

19. Potato pockets.

20.  Use a sweet potato instead!

And now I want to say I'm out of ideas...  How else do you like to make potatoes?

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

People. PEOPLE!

Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My husband and I are both rather open minded about other people, and what it is that they do.  We have no need to judge others, and therefore, we have not taught our children to recognize and prioritize others' differences.  Our children rarely meet someone so different than themselves that it warrants even thinking of their differences.

However, when we moved to our new home in rural Ohio, we met with an exception.  We moved into an area with a large Amish population.  It has been exciting and fascinating for the children to learn about all of the different things that the Amish people do.  They love the buggies, the farms, the horses, the children in their different clothing.  They love the local Amish store, the local maple syrup, the produce from the local Amish produce stand.  They love everything about the Amish people in our neighborhood.

However, one local custom did not sit well with me.  In our neighborhood, it is common to refer to everything Amish, including the people, as "Amish".  My children quickly picked up on this custom and began referring constantly to "Amish."  By which I mean, they would say, "I just saw an Amish!" or, "Look at that Amish!"

It took a little while to explain to the children in a way that they finally understood that Amish is an adjective.  It is something ABOUT the people and their things.  It does not define the people.  And to call the people one thing about them that doesn't define them, is really not kind.  So, my children and I began to talk about how Amish is a religion, and a culture.  We have talked extensively about how the Amish people feel that it is important to live a simple life, and that they feel it is better to do without things like electricity and cars.  We have watched how they use horses for the farm work, instead of tractors.  We have talked about what we have in common with them, like how we prefer to use our clothes lines instead of a dryer.  We have talked about their clothes, and how they feel that it is better to wear plain colors and styles.

And most of all, we have talked about how the "Amish" are PEOPLE.  Just like us.  We have really worked at using Amish as an adjective, instead of a noun.  And now, my children happily talk about the Amish boys and girls, the Amish women and men, the Amish buggies, the Amish farms, the Amish produce stand, the Amish syrup, and the Amish honey.  It feels like a big accomplishment to me to have helped my children, just through their language, develop a more understanding approach to the people of another culture.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter's life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about "semi immersion" language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn't seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Just Call me Clarice Thomas — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children's black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid's art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me - Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will never know same-sex marriage is not normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family's place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it's more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn't matter. Ethnicity doesn't matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless reponse to her son's apparent prejudice.

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