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Monday, April 29, 2013

My FIFTH 30 Day Block

Let me just start by saying, this block has nothing to do with boobs or breastfeeding. Stand down, fellow lactivists. Stand down.

Now, stand back up EVERYONE. As usual, this, my fifth 30 day block, is as a result of me violating absolutely no Facebook policies.

This photo elicited a lot of strong responses, but not for what I would've figured.

I was a smidge concerned that folks would be upset that he is naked, but I covered his penis and nothing else considered private (or a violation of FB policy) is visible. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about on that front. Nobody even cared about that.

Their beef was that he appears to be so angry. In fairness, there's no way for anyone to know that, in reality, he was not actually angry at all and it was just a fluke shot that makes him appear so in that moment. I have another shot in which he was sneezing, but looks like he's screaming right at us. However, on the thread, I did explain that. Further, and most importantly, even if he were actually as pissed as he looks, displays of anger are not violations of any Facebook policy of which I am aware. And it's completely odd to me that people reported it for such. I do, in fact, know that is what the reports were for, as I received messages from those who reported stating as much. Stupidest block ever.

For those unclear as to what a ban entails, here it is: the offending account, my personal account that I use to run the page, is blocked from posting on the page, on my personal page, commenting anywhere, PMing, friend requesting, or even liking anything. I can do absolutely nothing on that account for 30 days. If that were the only account from which I admin this page, Zen Parenting would be shut down for those full 30 days.

So, that's it. No big scandal. Just another day at Zen Parenting for me. And I'm not in the blogger in-crowd, so, unlike some who get banned for seven days and light up FB with their outrage and the outrage of others over their mistreatment, my fifth 30 day block will go, again, largely unnoticed. Asinine. All of it. Asinine.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disgusted: My Response to "What I Found in My 5-Year-Old Daughter's Diary"

Upon reading Kim Bongiorno's "What I Found in My 5-Year-Old Daughter's Diary" on HuffPost Parents, I was immediately disgusted and felt violated on behalf of that little girl. I was so incensed and my first move was to post it on the page and let you all share in my feelings. Then I thought better of it. I don't want to drive up her traffic. I don't want to lend weight to her motives, because the end somehow justifies the means (in her mind).

So, let me break it down for you: her young daughter had been asking for a diary. She got one. She wore the key around her wrist and told everyone that under no uncertain terms were they to look in that sacred space. Her mom couldn't stand the curiosity. She read it. She posted pictures of and quotes from it on the internet for all the world to see.

It was full of sweet things, so I suppose Bongiorno thought it OK to post. Her daughter is young and may not remember or even be aware of what's been done, so I suppose Bongiorno thought it OK to do. Bullshit. And bullshit again. I'm so pissed for that little girl and at her mom. Who cares if she knows? Who cares if it's not her innermost secrets? Who cares if she remembers for life or forgets it all by next week? The fact is, it's her diary - hers, not her mothers. She specifically said it's off limits to everyone, which shouldn't even need to be stated, because everyone with the courtesy one affords a flea innately knows not to open another person's diary. I don't care if she's five, fifteen, or fifty - that is her private space and it is not to be violated by anyone for any reason.

Now, I'm sure there are those who will disagree with me. In fact, I know there are plenty who do. Let's take a gander at some of the comments on the original post, shall we?

"this is a cute! (btw, i have 2 girls 2 and 4 and would do the same) if you are close with your kids this isn't an issue, its called having a relationship with open communication. try it. you might have your eyes opened to the fact your kids would appreciate you wanting to know and caring about their opinions!"

"why would a mother, who found such beautiful writings, not express her joy to
her child for seeing what joy the child has for life itself....?
as I read this article, I see a mother and child in a moment of real bonding,
knowing that each loves the other unconditionally.... with that kind of love
comes great trust.... I choose to believe that the mother shared with the
child on a childlike level that she could share it with the world, to show others
what joy children can feel without shame and fear....
why is it so easy to blast the mother for 'invasion of privacy' when the issue
could just as easily be the opposite... one where they were all happy to
share with the world.... people are always so dern quick to jump on the negative....
what about the positives.....
and for all the naysayers out there.... sounds to me as tho they never had a real
bonding experience with their own mothers... 'sizeable nugget of resentment'
sounds as tho her issues go far deeper than just a diary to me....
in the end, I congratulate this mother in raising a child full of life, love, and awe....
if we could all do that... what a better world we would have..... thank you for sharing...."

"In this day and age many parents don't have or take the time to show enough interest in their children. I grew up in the 50's when life was much simpler. It was a occasional Saturday matinee at the movie or a day at the community swimming pool but it was also solo fishing with my father or going bowling with my mother just the two of us. I don't think it mattered what we did as much as the inter reaction that took place.In today's world the Xbox and it's counterparts replace the experience of close human contact. My parents were always open with me and I knew I could talk to them about anything especially with my mother who loved me unconditionally. Her role in my life was one of the most valuable influences in my life and I would have given anything I had to her including my most inner desires and thoughts. No need for the lock on a diary if I had once because everything I had was hers too. Good for you and don't worry about all the negative possibilities that might happen due to your actions. I think you are a wonderful person to show such concern as to the condition of your child's heart. If there is unconditional love between the two of you that is all that matters and there is nothing that can drive a wedge between the both of you."

"Wow, as a mother of a daughter who has written about things from the day she found a piece of paper and a pencil I was delighted reading this story as it reminded me of all the adorable notes, letters, songs, questionnaires, stories etc. that I have tucked away and bring out and share with my now 13 yr old daughter from time to time.
I was delighted until I got to the comments and most of you took me right back to the nasty world we live in. The daughter is 5 -6 yrs old for goodness sake, what soul shattering secrets could she be writing about. I myself found this adorable and I am happy she shared which in turn brought some wonderful delightful memories rushing back."

"I don't blame the mother for snooping, given today's Nabokovian 'entertainment' industry."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm so disgusted. I'm disgusted that there's even one person out there who thinks this is acceptable. I'm more disgusted that she has this much support and others who would do and have done the same.

Little people are people. Size, age - they don't matter. I'm disgusted by the lack of regard children get in our society because they're too young and too small to do much about it or to be taken seriously by most. I'm disgusted that in Bongiorno's original blog post she states, "I did not tell her I looked. She's my kid, and I need to be able to check in on her - she's not even 6yo yet, so in my opinion, she can't have too much of a say here" and that, honestly, I think there are more out there like her than there are like me and you. So, because she's your kid and she's just young and little, she gets none of the courtesy and respect you'd give any other human on the planet. Not only that, but you lied to her by omission. Bullshit, I say. And shame on you. (And yes, I know I very rarely cuss, but I'm extra livid right now and that's what's coming, so...)

Here's what that blog should've been:

"What I Found in My 5 Year-Old Daughter's Diary"

Nothing. Because I didn't, wouldn't ever look.

I told her I'd never look and I meant it. She's my kid and I need to be able to trust her, so I need her to be able to trust me in return. It's called mutual respect. She's not even 6 years old yet, so in my opinion, she has just as much say as anyone else in this world.

The end.

Would that have ended up in temporary fame via The Huffington Post? No, likely not. Would it have ended up in a lasting bond between child and parent? Ya, probably. I'll take the latter over the former any day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nudity Unleashed

Guest post by Candy Cook of Unschool Unleashed

I'm the mother of two sons. I was 22 when my oldest son was born. I was aware that my sons would grow up in the same world as young girls. The same world that would subject them to body-image doubts and self esteem issues similar to the issues girls face.

My momma raised me with some armor against the superficial expectations that would be placed upon my female body. I have worn makeup only a handful of times in my life. I have never been a slave to fashion or dieting fads, nor have I ever looked in the mirror and seen an ugly person staring back at me. I'm grateful to my momma for raising me the way she did. However, she could have gone a step further and allowed me to see what a real human female body, other than my own, looks like.

My oldest son was born in May, the onset of the summer season. We lived in a secluded home and spent a lot of time nude together. We splashed in the tub together. I held his naked little body against my own skin to breastfeed. I had never felt so comfortable in my own skin as I was being nude with my naked little baby.

This never before experienced comfort level led me to a decision. I would be somewhat of a nudist with my children. I can't remember one instance of seeing my mother or father completely nude. That was a mistake I didn't want to make with my own sons. I wanted my sons to see me (and their father) nude to allow them to have at least one image of a real, live, non-airbrushed human body.

(Hands Female Nude Baby - Kahlil Gibran)

I was aware that my sons would have plenty of opportunity to see perfect bodies of airbrushed and make-up enhanced women in magazines, on television, and plastered on big billboards or signs at the stores. There would be plenty of opportunity for that everywhere they looked.

There would be a lot less opportunity for them to see a real, regular body like the one their momma has - a body with no help from Photoshop or makeup and not enough money or time for frequent visits to the gym with a personal trainer.

My sons are almost 10 & 11, now. They have spent the first decade of their lives knowing what a real, animated human body looks like. They have a realistic image of a female human body that will help them form realistic expectations as they grow into manhood and possibly begin dating women. They also have realistic expectations for themselves. They can feel comfortable with their flaws and know that they are not the only ones with a real human body. Their momma and daddy also have real human bodies.

I have never tried to hide my body from my children. At a young age, we know what naked elephants look like, naked dogs and cats, and monkeys. Why don't we know what naked humans look like? I think it's an important, often overlooked, defense against body image & self esteem issues, for children to see and know what our bodies look like - without clothes, without Photoshop, without makeup, without fear or embarrassment. Just us, au natural.

Candy is the 33 year old mother of two sons, 9 & 10. They've been unschooling life learners for 5 years. Their husband/daddy passed away in 2011 and they have since adopted another partner in life, Pete. Life is good and they live it to the fullest, sharing their adventures in learning & life at Unschool Unleashed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Kenny Loggins and I Have in Common

First of all, if you don't know who Kenny Loggins is or only know him as the guy who sang that song from Top Gun, I have only this to say: -___-

Secondly, go, research, listen, love. Come back when you're finished.

Ok, now onto the real purpose of this blog entry.

Growing up, we moved...a lot. No, my parents weren't in the military. No, they didn't move for their jobs. I really don't know why we moved all the times we moved. Some of it, I know, was because of my parents' divorce when I was 6 and my brother was 4 and all the separations and reunions before that. Before and after that, I couldn't tell you, but as a result of all that moving around, I have very few of my belongings from when I was young. I have memories of my long-lost belongings, but nothing onto which I can physically hold when I need comfort.

In the process of moving, I lost my beloved Dumbo with one missing ear, my red-headed Cabbage Patch doll, my pink bike (that was actually vandalized and destroyed by the boys who lived across the street from us while we were in the process of moving - yes, the same ones involved in my sexual assault - aren't they peachy?), my Monchhichi, and my most precious belonging of all - Snuggle.

You know Snuggle. He's the bear from the fabric softener commercial. My great-aunt saved up all her UPC codes to send in and surprise me with one. He was the love of my life from that moment on. He was who I clung to in the night. He was who I cried into when things hurt. He was who loved me unconditionally, comforted me always, and understood my woes when no one else even knew them. And then, one day, he was gone. And I never forgot him. Ever.

Skip ahead twenty years. I met the man who was to become my husband. I told him of Snuggle one day. It was a passing thought and a conversation to which I gave no more thought. Snuggle was long gone and existed now only in my memory. Evidently, my husband made note of the conversation and decided to heal the bear-shaped hole in my heart. Christmas morning of our first year together, I awoke to my own, new Snuggle bear. I sobbed. He's not a replacement - nobody could replace my Snuggle - but he's the next best thing and I love him.

Then we had our son. And as he grew, he found Snuggle. He adopted him. And he loves him. This brings me to my connection with Kenny Loggins. (You thought I forgot, didn't you?) He long ago wrote and recorded a song called "Pooh Corner" and then, after he had his children, he rewrote and rerecorded "Return to Pooh Corner." It goes a little something like this:

"Return to Pooh Corner"

Christopher Robin and I walked along
Under branches lit up by the moon
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore
As our days disappeared all too soon
But I've wandered much further today than I should
And I can't seem to find my way back to the Wood

So help me if you can
I've got to get back
To the House at Pooh Corner by one
You'd be surprised
There's so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh

Winnie the Pooh doesn't know what to do
Got a honey jar stuck on his nose
He came to me asking help and advice
From here no one knows where he goes
So I sent him to ask of the Owl if he's there
How to loosen a jar from the nose of a bear

Help me if you can
I've got to get back
To the House at Pooh Corner by one
You'd be surprised
There's so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh

It's hard to explain how a few precious things
Seem to follow throughout all our lives
After all's said and done I was watching my son
Sleeping there with my bear by his side
So I tucked him in, I kissed him and as I was going
I swear that the old bear whispered "Boy welcome home"

Believe me if you can
I've finally come back
To the House at Pooh Corner by one
What do you know
There's so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds from the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin
Back to the ways of Christopher Robin
Back to the days of Pooh

Snuggle, one of my few precious things, followed throughout all my life. And now, after all's said and done, I watch my son sleep there with my bear by his side and I swear that old bear whispers to him as he always whispered to me. We, we three, are home in each other.

(And here come my tears. I thought that maybe this would be the one time I'd be able to consider this story without tearing up. Nope. And that, too, warms my heart.)

This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on Circumcision. Any Questions?

We hear it all the time:

"It's best to circumcise boys as newborns, so they won't remember it."

Stop. Rewind. Reeducate.

Everything, ev. er. y. thing. we experience is stored in our brains. Did you miss that? EVERYTHING.

Specifically, the amygdala, a tiny little part in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, performs a primary role in memory and emotional response and stores all, ALL, painful and traumatic experiences. "Because the amygdala learns and stores information about emotional events, it is said to participate in emotional memory. Emotional memory is viewed as an implicit or unconscious form of memory and contrasts with explicit or declarative memory mediated by the hippocampus" (Scholarpedia).

Circumcision is inarguably one of those painful and traumatic experiences that is indelibly imprinted upon one's emotional memory.

"In humans, it is the most sexually-dimorphic brain structure, and shrinks by more than 30% in males upon castration.

Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias are suspected of being linked to abnormal functioning of the amygdala, owing to damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance" (Science Daily).

The amydala has connections to aggression, sexual orientation, fear and fear response, social response and interactions, alcoholism, anxiety, stress, sexual arousal, and depression. Stimulate the amygdala improperly, through traumatic circumcision, for instance, and one is at risk for problems with any or all of these. The amygdala is partially responsible for innate behaviors and resultant physiology within us.

The ol' "Circumcision doesn't affect anyone. They turn out just fine" argument just doesn't hold water. Simply put, circumcision affects the very base of who he is and, because it is done so early on in his life, there's no other version of him with which to compare or contrast. The way he was born is irrevocably altered by that painful and traumatic experience. There' no getting around it.

This is science. This is your brain. And this is your brain on circumcision. Any questions?


Science Daily, "Amygdala"

Scholarpedia, "Amygdala"

Wikipedia, "Amygdala"

The Secret to Maintaining My Zen

At least once a week, I hear, "I don't know how you do it. I would've lost my Zen long ago."

Here's my secret. Lean in close.

This is how much thought I give to what anyone else thinks of me, my son, and my parenting:

Yep. That's it. I simply do not put much stock in what anyone else thinks of the job I'm doing. I'm confident in what I have going on here. I know I'm making mistakes, because I'm human, but I'm trying not to and am doing the very best I can do. I learn every day. I grow every day. I become a better person and parent every day. I trust myself. I trust my son. When I mess up (because I didn't trust, as I know I should), I fix it. Other people will always have their opinions. So what? What they think of me or anything else we have going on over here isn't any of my business.

That's how I "do it." And now you can, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If We're Really Being Honest

I had a friend who used to tell me she didn't have time to read books and the only reason I did was because I wasn't yet a mother. I found it odd that she seemed to have plenty of time for Facebook, TV, heading to the races, and night's out with her friends, but not for reading. It seemed to me that she had just as much time in the day as I did, but used it differently - not wrong or right, just different - but to say she didn't have time seemed a bit off. Now that I am a mother, I read every bit as much as I want to. Granted, that's less than it used to be - by choice. My priorities have shifted. I still have time. I just choose to use it differently. And that's OK.

I hear all the same, but in different versions fairly often on the Facebook page. It goes something like this:

"I don't have time to..."

read a book (alone or to babe)

cloth diaper

breastfeed on demand

teach and learn sign language with babe

wade through all the information you present

make healthy breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner and eat with family

play with babe

fight injustice

attend the nurse-in or other protest

write to my state representatives

share information on my Facebook

have sex with my partner(s)


take my kids to the park

talk with my family

educate others on circumcision, CIO, breastfeeding, natural birth, etc."

...and on and on and on...

This is not to say that you all should be doing all of the above or that you all should do all the things I do or vice-versa. It is to say that making excuses instead of just being honest about our priorities is doing yourself and everyone around you a disservice. If we're to teach our children about prioritizing, honesty, and self-assuredness, we have to demonstrate those for them.

Here's the thing: it's typically a lot more about not wanting to make time than it is about genuinely not having time. And you know what - that's OK. It's OK to have other priorities. It's OK to say, "I do have time to read that article, but I'd prefer to spend that time vegetating in front of the TV and deflating for 1/2 hour after my daughter goes to sleep and while I choose to engage precious little of my brain." Really. Truly, that's OK.

We all have the same amount of time in our days as everyone else. We all choose to use that time differently. That's OK. But it's time to start being honest about it. It's time to stop making excuses for things we feel we should be doing and just be honest about not really wanting to. Because, if we're really being honest, if we truly wish to do something, we'll find a way, and, if not, we'll find an excuse.

We all have priorities. They're all different from everyone else's. They're even different from our own from yesterday and tomorrow. One day, the stars may all align, my son may be feeling uber-helpful, I may be feeling uber-productive and together we get a ton done around the house. The next day, maybe not-so-much and we are lucky to brush our teeth. We have the time, but we've decided to, instead, prioritize cuddling, loving, and just being together ahead of other things. That's OK. But I cannot, will not say "I didn't have time to brush my teeth today." No, I did. I just didn't. It wasn't as important to me as other things. That's OK. But if we're really being honest, we have to stop making excuses and start being real about what our priorities are. And be OK with them.

So if my friend is really being honest, she has time to read. She just doesn't particularly like to read and when she has time, she prefers to use it doing other things. And that's OK. That's real, that's honest. That's OK.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Circumcision Resources - Bookmark This for Future Reference

I am regularly asked for articles on circumcision and it finally occurred to me to put them all together in one place so that you all can bookmark just this one blog post and have all sorts of information at your fingertips. (I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes...)

The Elephant in the Hospital (video)

Myths About Circumcision You Likely Believe - 6 Part Series from Psychology Today

Are Physicians Performing Neonatal Circumcisions Well Trained?

International physicians protest against American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy on infant male circumcision

FGM and Male Circumcision - Time to Confront the Double Standard

Circumcision Due Diligence

The Case for Routine Infant Tonsillectomy

This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on Circumcision. Any Questions?

It's Better That I Was Raped While Drugged, So I Don't Remember It

Oh Where, Oh Where Has the Critical Thinking Gone?

Why I Am Against Circumcision - One Nurse's Tale

Tail Docking, Ear Cropping, and Circumcision - A Comparison

Welcome to the World, Baby Boy!

Review of Foreskin Anatomy, Function, Development and Care

Dollars & Sense: the Business of Circumcision

The Lost List: What is Lost Due to Circumcision?

Penn & Teller: Circumcision is Bullshit

Paradigm Shift: My Journey from Pro-Circumcision to Intactivism

New Study Estimates Neonatal Circumcision Death Rate Higher Than Suffocation and Auto Accidents

circumcision video

Separated at Birth: Did Circumcision Ruin Your Sex Life?

Appeal to Fathers

FAQ About Circumcision

A Brief History of the Foreskin and Circumcision

Plastibell circumcision video

"I'm Circumcised and I'm Fine"

Circumcision Quick Start Guide
Ten Reasons I said NO! to Circumcision (and you should also)

One Baby's Experience

Doctors Opposing Circumcision: Circumcision Quiz

50 Reasons to Leave it Alone

Prize Lineup for the Big 10,000 Giveaway

We are close to a major milestone on the Zen Parenting Facebook page. To show our appreciation to and celebrate with all of you, we will be having a giveaway when we hit the big 10,000. Sweet fancy Francis! I woke up yesterday a little under 400 away from 10,000 and woke up today with this:

Here's some of what we have in store for the winner of our big milestone giveaway:

family cloth from Free Range Family Designs

music from The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra

jasper necklace from Para Curar Designs

custom water color painting of one of your own photos from Janel Jasper Photography

quilled art piece from Chiangs Paperie

car roll/track from The Little Blueberry

Baltic amber teething necklace from Momma Bean Stalk

cat shelves from What's Mew?

three conversational German lessons from Ma De Moiselle

Zen Parent nursing necklace from On the Fence

organic deodorant from Naturally Down to Earth

I'd like to thank you all for your continued support in our Zen Parenting journey. Now it's time to give back.

We'll pick three winners (U.S. residents only, please and sorry, because I don't have the money to ship internationally) to receive the grand, second, and third prizes. Here's how you can win:

You must be a fan of Zen Parenting on Facebook.

Now follow the instructions here on Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winners will be announced April 11th. Good luck!

*Note to contributors: if your donation isn't listed, it's because I never received whatever it was we had discussed you sending. If you sent it, please check with your shipping company. If not, that's OK. We all get busy. If you'd still like to get it to me, let me know. If not, we'll catch you at 20,000. Thanks to EVERYONE for their generosity and support!