Friday, February 24, 2012

Every Year My Garden Gets a Little Bit Better

 I always grew up with gardening, and small farming. Living in a rural northern NY town everyone I knew had gardens. Everyone I knew had flower beds and most people I knew took that to a small farm level where they had their entire backyards turned into vegetable plots. Before I got married I always had at least a small plot going wherever I lived. However when Hubby and I moved into our current home I was worried. We lived on the main street of town where hundreds of people drove and walked by our house everyday. It is a daily chore to remove trash tossed into our yard by passerbys. I figured any garden grown by us would get trampled. So the first year we lived here I had a small garden in pots on the windowsill of our bay window. I grew some flowers and herbs but nothing too spectacular.
 Then each following year my garden got a bit bigger and better. I began to move the pots outdoors and at first just had a few on the steps. Just tomatoes and a few herbs I think that year.
Then last year for the first time I felt confidant enough that our neighbors and passerbys wouldn't kick, harm or trample my garden that i expanded it to a small patch in the yard and another one growing out of our stump (the stump was accidental). Last year we grew lavender, strawberries, tomatoes, sage, basil, banana peppers, green peppers, butternut squash, zucchini, rosemary, dill, and I am sure a few other things I am forgetting about.

So this year I decided that since last year went so well and we still have a good amount of plants that made it through the winter from last year that this year we would go big. I am expanding the garden plot to about a 15 by 5 ft plot and I have doubled the amount of plants in pots. This year we are growing (so far- I know I have more I want to add) roses, marigolds, daisies, rosemary, lavender, 3 different varieties of squash, zucchini, pumpkins, corn, tomatoes, basil, jalapenos, sweet peppers, spinach, carrots, and strawberries. Bug and I decided to start early this year and try growing them from seeds instead of buying plants in May. so here was our gardening adventure so far.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Green Mommy Confession (A lighter post)

So I have spent the last week sick. I don't mean sniffly, achy sick. I mean don't leave the bathroom without a bucket, skin has turned green, can't keep down water sick. Why? Because of course I have a 2 yr old. Why does any mother get sick? She sends her child to a day care, or school where they interact with other people's children and inevitably bring home the plague. So it all started when I went to pick up Bug from daycare last Friday. A little girl was ralphing into a bucket nearby as her parents were trying to get her out the door. The very next morning we woke up to a similar scene with Bug which involved washing both his bedding, ours, and finally leaving him resting on a makeshift couch bed with a bucket nearby. The next morning I woke up and went... "OH NO" and ran for the bathroom.
So I told you all that to tell you this. I suck when I am sick. Now I don't claim to be the world's most perfect Mom but I do try to always do what is best for my son and hold myself to a high standard because I write this blog which of course I could not write honestly if I didn't really live this way. But when I am sick......... all bets are off. I am a really really bad Mom. So here are a few of my sick week stories.
The other day (after a particularly bad bout with this stomach flu) I was dragged into the kitchen bright and early by my chirpy son to make his breakfast. I scanned the refrigerator and announced.."there are grapes?"  Bug gave me a look that plainly said "You are not cutting it Mom". "Can I have cereal?" "Sure hun here" I handed him the box of Kashi Vanilla Squares. I am not proud of it So he ate dry cereal out of the box and ate grapes.
Another day I was trying desperately to sleep.. I was in between sick bouts and just wanted to catch up on sleep so I put on netflix kids and let him watch episode after episode of whatever he wanted which ended up being a ton of Wonder Pets (not my fav show). I woke up to him looking for wipes and asked him why. He told me "I need to clean up". I looked to see what he needed to clean up and realized my husband's side of the bed was covered in lotion including his laptop. OH boy!
So today I tried to make it up to him a bit. I was feeling a lot better by mid morning  and as hubby was laying in bed with us watching a movie I asked Bug what he wanted for breakfast and he said "Pancakes" I laughed and said "Mommy isn't feeling thaaat good... how about a bagel with cream cheese? I know I have been slacking in the Mommy department lately kiddo" Bug just rolled his eyes and said "Yeah Mommy". My husband laughed so hard.
So by dinner I was feeling extra guilty and for a few moments hadn't run to the bathroom so I decided to make a gardenara penne pasta from scratch and top it off with 1-2-3 cake in mugs with vanilla icecream for desert. 
So here is what I did.
First I opened a large can of whole tomatoes ( I didn't have any of my own on hand so I used store bought) I chopped up a handful of fresh broccoli, one of fresh cauliflower, and one of fresh carrots. I added sea salt, pepper, paprika, onions, garlic, and fresh basil from my herbs that made it through the winter. I added two can fulls of water (using the can from the tomatoes). I let that summer down for about an hour. I then cooked a box of penne. I left it slightly uncooked (just slightly harder then cooked. Then I added it to the veggies.It continued to cook in the sauce. After the pasta was fully cooked I dished it up and sprinkled a little parmigian cheese. Here is the finished product.
It was delicious!!!
Then for dessert I used a recipe that I found on pinterest. It was for 1-2-3 cake. You mix one box of angel food cake mix with one box of any other kind of cake you want. I used chocolate. Then you store the mixture in a container or ziplock bag. When you want a small amount of cake you mix 2 tablespoons of water with 3 tablespoons of the cake mix in a mug and microwave it for 1 min. I topped this with vanilla bean icecream and Bug and I ate every drop. 
I probably shouldn't have because I am not 100% but for right now I am happy I was able to shake off this sickness enough to let my good momminess shine through. Bug's reaction? He keeps telling me how much he loves me and I got about 10 hugs tonight. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Circumsicion: Why I can not remain impartial on this topic

I want to start this post on a light-hearted note before I get into the knitty gritty. This is a cartoon done today by one of my favorite cartoonists and bloggers, "The Kitchen Witch".
I love this cartoon. It really puts it all in perspective doesn't it people?? I mean why is circumcision ok but elective facial surgery is not?

What is circumcision in today's world? Well the dictionary defines circumcision as this: "Cutting away of all or part of the foreskin (prepuce) of the penis. The practice is known in many cultures. It is performed either shortly after birth (e.g., among Muslims and Jews), within a few years of birth, or at puberty. For Jews it represents the fulfillment of the covenant between God and Abraham (Genesis 17:10 – 14). That Christians were not obliged to be circumcised was first recorded biblically in Acts 15. Evidence regarding the purported medical benefits of circumcision (e.g., reduced risk of cancer) is inconclusive, and the practice persists mainly for cultural reasons." (Encyclopedia Britannica). My first thought in reading that is "HAH! TAKE THAT" because I was once berated at a family gathering when Bug was 9 months old over the topic of my sons foreskin until I withdrew from the family to cry because it was that harsh. I was told that I was disobeying God because the bible says to circumcise. Right there in Acts it says Christians do not have to do it. So right there I feel a little better. That is to say if I still were to hold myself to the rules and regulations of any one religion or Church anyway. Now let us look at the rest of the definition. The medical benefits are inconclusive. That means that still to this day no one has found a real provable medical reason for slicing a mans foreskin off. Today though I will show you some real medical reason why NOT TO, but I will get to that in a minute.

First of all let us take a look at a map of the world with the areas where circumcision is still a common practice.

That is an awful lot of white around a very small strip of red. So how did circumcision get such a foot hold in the USA? It is not home to a large Jewish population. In an article I was reading recently a man talks about his own circumcision and why the United States has a love affair with a truly barbaric ritual. The article can be found here.
In it the author has this to say, "How did circumcision take hold here in the U.S.? Let me begin answering that question with a question: Who here has seen The Road to Welville? Sir Anthony Hopkins is almost unrecognizable as the health nut, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the same man who made the cereal. The actual Kellogg was a terrifying piece of work. This was a man who hated masturbation so much that he advocated the following: tying a child’s hands behind his or her back so that he or she could not masturbate at night, applying cage-like devices to the genitals, and rubbing acid on a girl’s clitoris, thus demonizing not just the act of masturbation, but its allure. He also believed circumcision should be performed without anesthetic so as to maximize the association of sexual arousal with physical pain. It was this man — a man who could give Freddy Krueger nightmares — who became a linchpin in making circumcision a widely-practiced tradition in the United States. But, let’s give Kellogg the benefit of the doubt. Even if he was 10 pounds of crazy in a 1-pound bag, I’m sure you’ve all heard that men with foreskin are prone to infections.There’s actually a very simple solution to that concern. It’s called hygiene. Look it up. If you never wash behind your ears or between your toes, your body is going to become a hotbed for all sorts of gnarly germs.The idea that circumcision significantly reduces STI transmission is still a hotly-debated issue in the medical community. There have some saying foreskin is practically an HIV net, while others state there’s no difference between men who have it and men who don’t, and further studies show intact men with decreased HIV rates. [The circumcised U.S., for example, has significantly higher numbers of HIV than any other intact developed nation.] Even the experts don't always agree if each other’s methods or conclusions are sound. Failing that, we have to fall back on good old common sense. Do you not want to get sick? Take a bath. Eat right. Wear a condom.These are not mind-blowing or revolutionary concepts. Most people don’t go out of their way to do what is bad for themselves.When you’re wounded, you don’t go jam the gaping wound into a septic tank, do you? Let’s not do that to our sons by slicing their penises and shoving that mess into a diaper. If I ever have a son — and let’s be honest, that would be a disaster — I would lose him in a heartbeat if I took him to a tattoo parlor or a piercing place. A baby covered in tats and gauges would be hilarious, sad and illegal. The law would keep its pimp hand strong by slapping me with at least half a dozen child abuse charges. So, I’m not going to go the extra mile by letting someone mutilate his penis."

I couldn't agree more and in my life I have two men who are involved in this controversy.  Everyone thinks of the child's side of the argument... but what happens when that child grows up? What happens if your circumcised child who is now an adult, realizes that it was a choice you made for him, that it was not needed and that now he is different from how he was meant to be. You may be surprised to know there are many men who feel this way. They have spent their lives not feeling that great about the choice that was made at birth without their consent. My husband is circumcised and not a big fan of it. He has spoken to both his parents on their choices and is a pretty large advocate for not circumcising babies. Our son is the other one. He is uncut and has one of the most beautiful penises I have ever seen (though to be fair I haven't seen any other uncut ones). It is so natural and not dried out. It is for both of these men that I write this article pleading with American parents everywhere. This also brings me back to the medical reasons NOT to circumcise. I was reading another article, one which I read with my husband. You can find the original article here. In this article it shows the differences between a circumcised and not circumcised penis and why the foreskin is so important.
Here are the pictures from the article that I found very eye opening. I obviously have seen both cut and uncut in my husband and son but it never occurred to me to compare the two.
Here is what the article said, "The penis and clitoris are analogous and homologous organs: they perform similar functions, share a common design, and biologically develop from the same tissues inutero. The glans (head) of the penis or clitoris is an internal organ. It is meant to remain covered for the majority of its livelihood, in similar nature to the way that the eyeballs are covered for a good portion of our lives (when we blink or sleep), and the way the ends of our fingers and toes are protected by our nails. If we surgically amputate the eyelids or fingernails, we will face the repercussions of making an organ that was designed to be internal, external. In order to survive this damage, the organ must adapt. To do so, a variety of features will change (both immediately, and progressively over the years): pH will be altered, temperature will no longer remain stable in that organ, moisture and lubrication levels will not be maintained, leading to dryness and potential chapping, antibodies and healthy microflora that previously served to protect will cease to exist, and callusing (the build-up of multiple hardened layers of skin) will take place. Our body may attempt to heal itself by forming skin bridges or re-adhesions over the amputation site. Our eyeballs and fingertips would become thick, dry, discolored, and no longer function in the manner they were designed to. So it is the same with the glans of the penis or clitoris. If we remove the very organ, the prepuce, which serves to cover, protect and regulate the health, pH, temperature, lubrication, antibodies, movement and functioning of the genitals, we've altered form so dramatically that the purposes it was created to fulfill can no longer be realized. Not only is this evident in research: human development and sexuality especially, but the dramatic difference is also readily apparent to any lay onlooker observing the intact human genitals versus those that no longer remain in their original whole state. Female and male genital cutting, especially in the manner that prepuce amputation is carried out in U.S. style male circumcision surgery (most often via Gomco or Plastibell amputations), is not only immediately damaging to a newborn baby; it is also permanently altering and forever changing the adult male body, and impacts all future sexual partner(s) as well."
My husband's reaction to this article was to say "that is what my penis is like... dried out and calloused like that". That hurt to hear. He does not like being altered and I know it weighs on him. He is proud we gave our son the gift of staying natural.

A friend recently had this to say in a Mommy group we both belong to about her husband's view on his own circumcision. "My husband isn't happy with his circ because frequently during and after intercourse he will bleed and experience immense pain because the skin around the head of his penis is too tight. There is NO way for a doctor to know what size the penis will grow to, which can cause either a "half-circ'd" look or it can cause the skin to be pulled too tight. Not to mention the boys that die from it every year, and the ones who experience total amputation of the penis. Also, it's not "harder" to go through as an adult. As an adult, the man can have the necessary anesthesia to properly perform the surgery, and is able to take pain medication during the days following. Hoping your son won't remember the pain while experiencing the SAME level of pain without any anesthesia, while having to heal a wound while wearing a pee and poo filled diaper and not being able to receive tylenol or anything else during the days following? That sounds awful and I don't understand how anyone can say it doesn't. Why risk it? If even one risk could be "death" for something so unnecessary and purely cosmetic, why risk it? These statistics are just for the US, and due to lack of reporting, the number may be much higher. Ex. If the baby suffered from a heart attack from the procedure (which at least two babies have in the past 3 months in Texas alone), it is not required that the hospital say "heart attack due to infant circumcision." Simply "heart attack" would be recorded on the death certificate. If complications arise from being uncircumcised and circumcision is prescribed to fix these issues, it can be done at any time. If complications arise from being circumcised, you cannot UNcircumcise once it has been done. In the case of my ex whose urethra was snipped during his circumcision and the many infections that followed (which he still gets frequently even 31 years later), I'm sure some men do wish their parents had left them intact. Neither the AAP or WHO recommends routine infant circumcision because of the risks involved. Nevermind the fact that doctors get paid a lot of money for your son's foreskins so the cells can be used in cosmetics. Further, would you allow circumcision to be performed on a baby girl either for cosmetic or religious reasons? Would you consider that barbaric? How is it any different for a boy? Does he not deserve to remain intact and pain-free also?"

I really could not have said it any better than she did, but I wanted to include her statements because in addition to her husband being one of the many like mine who dislikes his circumcision as an adult but also because she addressed the high numbers of infant fatalities due to circumcision. In an article found here shows that over a hundred boys in the US alone die every year due to circumcision and that that number is probably actually much higher. "A new study published yesterday in Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies estimates that more than 100 baby boys die from circumcision complications each year, including from anesthesia reaction, stroke, hemorrhage, and infection. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable." The number is actually higher than the number of boys who die each year due to SIDS. How sick is that. Parents are literally killing their sons to perpetuate a horrible cycle. The main argument I have always heard is that "We did it to our son because my husband is and he should look like Daddy". Really??? So because your in-laws made that awful decision that your husband had no choice in the matter, you should inflict that same terror on your son for his whole life?

So I leave you all with this. If you have read all of this.. and you still think that harming your son for the sake of tradition is a good idea.. then I really don't know what else would help sway you because you obviously can not be reasoned with. I can not and will not be objective on this topic. I don't often talk about it for a reason. It is the one thing that I feel is a big part of the Green Mommy I am but is so much deeper and more important than composting or biking to the grocery store, or even cloth diapering. This is one topic I can not and will not be passive about.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I AM WOMAN: Watch Me Juggle?

So yesterday I was invited to join a local BFing group which was largely populated with like myself women who work outside the home. Funnily enough that was the topic of today's Sociology class. So I have decided to gather my various thought s on the subject... so bare with me as I meander.
In today's society more and more women are expected to work outside the home. Not just expected to work but to have careers. Most of us want this for ourselves and for our families, and I believe originally when women marched for their rights and burned their bras the message was that like men they deserved to work outside the home, that men could stay home with the kids. If both parents worked outside the home then it was expected that they would hire a nanny, a housekeeper, and a cook. However the reality 30 years later is far from this. Now it is a necessity in most homes that both parents work, and often more than one job. However we have not progressed to the point that men are willing to pick up the slack. Now don't get me wrong some men do cook, clean, and help with children, but most do not. If they work outside the house they still expect to be waited on hand and foot even when often the wife works outside the house too, often bringing in more money then their husbands. So where has this left our society?
It has left us in a world where the average woman juggles... everything. They sleep very few hours during the night waking up when the children do and going to bed often in the wee hours after all the housework is finished. They either send the children to daycare or bring them to work with them or if they are lucky enough to have school age children they must be home to get them off the bus in the afternoons or else find someone who can. They still make dinner every night often after standing on their feet for hours and hours at work. They still do the dishes, fold the laundry, bathe the children, and if like me they also take on more domestic duties from times passed such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, baking, and canning, they also have to fit that into their day.
So do we expect a medal? No. Do we deny the hard work our husbands do? No. Are we going to die from stress? Probably not. Is this a good system? Not at all. The problem is I know how we got here as a society.. but I have no clue how to get us out. I can remember being in high school and being asked what I wanted to do as a career but also being taught domestic duties such as sewing, cooking, and cleaning and being told I had to know these things to "keep house.. and keep a husband". I grew up in the late 80's to mid 90's. It was smack dab in between the push for women to get out in the college and work place but also in the old setting of Mom staying at home and keeping house.
So what are men being taught? I really don't know. I am raising one... and I am not quite even sure what to teach him. I know that there are things I don't like about how my husband acts that perhaps shouldn't be taught to the next generation... but I know I am not alone. There are millions of women juggling it all. Being taught to run a successful career, get degrees, and be the best possible wife and mother they can be. I myself run this blog giving women a goal to shoot for, being both more natural and caring mothers, but at the same time to live as Green and environmentally friendly as possible. I wear so many hats that sometimes I am shocked to really think about it. I am not super woman but sometimes when I look around me at the males of our species I feel we are swiftly moving towards a colonial female driven bee like society where women working together create a peaceful world and the males are used for procreation. Are we not giving men something to strive for? Are we not expecting enough of them? I have often been told by my male friends that men want to be needed... do we not need them anymore? I really am often confused by how much and yet how little husbands do. Mine is a constant comfort to me. He is my support and my sounding board, my debate partner, my best friend.. but do I need him as far as housework or money is concerned.. not always. His income is a big help right now but after graduation in May I very well could be bringing in twice even three times what he makes a year. I need his love and support but I would handle everything on my own. I think most women could. So is the role of men becoming more the comfort and intellectual arena? Who knows... thoughts? I really would love to know what other women think...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Goodbye to Cloth Diapers

No no I am not switching to disposables.. don't worry. We are saying goodbye to diapers altogether and Bug is almost solely in underwear now. Saying goodbye to diapers is always a happy event but saying goodbye to cloth diapers can be a slightly sad one. As I packed away my sons prefolds, one of his diaper pails and all the pockets we weren't going to use as nighttime diapers for now, I had the following thoughts.

1. Being a cloth diapering mom you don't have that constant cost of diapers weighing down your monthly budget so there is no drive to stop that expense.
2. Cloth diapers are adorable and fun to shop for so having you kid move on can be a bit sad.
3. Like Breastfeeding it is such a part of a natural parenting culture that links you to other moms who cloth diapered or breastfed and suddenly you can find yourself feeling on the outside looking in.. The older crone Mom offering advice but not being able to really join in.
4. It means your baby/ toddler is really now a preschooler and is one step closer to a school age kid making him/her that much less your little baby.

So for all these reasons and more I feel both happy and sad at the fact that Bug is shedding the diapers of todddlerhood and moving on to big kid undies. We have decided to keep all our prefolds, all our minkys, and all our alvababy and all our sunbaby. We also have kept our happy flute and popfish diapers. We are giving away though all our fitteds, all in ones, bamboos, velcro diapers, and any other pocket brands. I truly feel looking back over all the many many many brands we have tried that pockets and prefolds work best and out of the pockets the above mentioned brands are the only ones we have liked. So when we finally have baby #2 we will buy a few more alvababy to build our supply back up from the now 19 diapers to our normal 30 or so.
So here is our final stock of the time tested brands we love.Goodbye diapers we will see you again someday soon I am sure.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Potty Training and Preschool Fun

So it has finally happened. Bug has started seriously potty training. As a hardcore cloth diaper Mom, I will be sad to pack away all his cloth diapers soon. Right now he is still in diapers at night. Today at day care he only had 1 accident and he has been in underwear at home.
Our reward system has been to give him a sticker for going potty and he decided to stick them on his potty, so it is quickly becoming quite well decorated.
I have realized though that so much of what i write about is geared towards babies, or mommies themselves.. but I would like to write this post about Preschoolers.
Bug is now completely what i would call a preschooler. He is completely verbal, he is getting potty trained, he knows his shapes, colors, alphabet, and can count to 20. He can even type on a keyboard if you help him spell out words. I would say at 28 months he is no longer a toddler. So what does this mean exactly? It means that I am going to start homeschooling. Hubby is against homeschooling but he is all for doing the equivalent of homeschooling on our own time to supplement his education. I think that I am going to start this now. I think honestly he would benefit more from me doing preschool work at home with him then going to preschool.
So I set out to find new ways I can expand his education.. and where do you turn for all things kids, crafts, or food? Pinterest (which by the way I have posted the entirety of the Green Mommy Collection on there). So I found these. These are science discovery bottles. There is a whole tutorial for how to do them at
I am going to make the color mix bottle and the density bottle and the float or sink and the beach wave bottle and the beach bottle. I am so excited to make these for Bug.

Next I found this. It is a fun way to let kids go on a letter hunt and then put them back in order. I think I will try this with Bug soon. he tutorial is found at. 

Ok well that is it for tonight but I hope you enjoy playing with your preschoolers. It is an amazing age.

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