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Below-the-Knee Panel Skirt w/ Lace Trim

My dear friend Michelle gifted me with a few pieces of fabric last week. Two pieces went to my own apron of her design, and two more sat around for a few days, staring at me, wondering at their fate.

Here they are - two very masculine fabrics, sewn into a bell shape with a little lace, become pretty!

He he... forgive the bed shot. One of these days I'll get me a full-length mirror.

This was easier than I thought it would be to make.

If you'd like to make one for yourself, here's a simple three-step Tutorial:

**NOTE: I totally forgot - it's 1/4 waist and hip measurements PLUS ONE INCH - gotta leave room for those seams! **


The Fate of the Foreskin

"The worst foreskin problem most intact males ever have is that someone thinks they have a problem."

- John A. Erickson

As the proud "attached parent" of a natural baby, I asked a slew of questions to more doctors than I care to count before choosing my son's current pediatrician. I covered the "I'm not circumcising. That cool?". This doc passed the "We believe in extended breastfeeding. That cool?". He was the only pediatrician I found to okay the "No vaccinations. That cool?" question.
Apparently, I forgot one. "I want a doctor that's read a relevant journal on infant anatomy written sometime after 1950. That cool?"
The pediatrician actually instructed me to force back my son's penile foreskin once a week until it is fully retractable - and stated that it should be completely retractable by the time he is five years old. Now, I'm no expert on the human body, but I'm fairly certain there's no evidence to suggest the human genitals have evolved in such a way as to require forcible manipulation in order to develop properly. After yesterday's appointment, I did some research. Here is what I found.
It was a journal published 24 December 1949 that stated all but 10% of boys in a particular study (that wasn't sure whether it studied 150 or 200 boys) were fully retractable by five years of age. Since then, numerous studies have been done in several different countries (notably Denmark and Japan, where circumcision is not considered "normal" or "routine") that claim the median age of full retraction is 10.4 years, and it's not abnormal for retraction to be impossible until puberty or even young adulthood. In fact, 2% of adult males are considered "non-retractable". Many of these adult males live full, healthy lives with no problem whatsoever. Those that wish to do something about it have several non-surgical options to explore. Why, then, the push to force back an infant's foreskin - which at this point is attached to the glans much like a fingernail is attached to a finger?
The following is a quote from National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), a non-governmental organization in Roster status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations fighting the process of routine circumcision and myths surrounding the care (abuse?) of the intact penis:

How do I care for my young son's intact penis?

The intact penis needs no special care.

The foreskin should never be retracted by force

During the first few years of a male's life, the inside fold of his foreskin is attached to his glans, very much the way the eyelids of a newborn kitten are sealed closed. The tissue that connects these two surfaces dissolves naturally over time - a process that should never be hurried.

The foreskin can be retracted when its inside fold separates from the glans and its opening widens. This usually happens by age 18. Even if the glans and foreskin separate by themselves in infancy, the foreskin may not be retractable then because the opening of a baby's foreskin may be just large enough to allow for the passage of urine.

The first person to retract a child's foreskin should be the child himself. 

Forcible retraction of the foreskin can cause pain, swelling, and adhesions that can cause permanent disfigurement and a lifetime of problems. Also possible are acquired phimosis (The foreskin's narrow opening sometimes tears when the glans is forced through it, forming scar tissue that may prevent it from widening later on its own.), and paraphimosis (its narrow opening may "get caught" behind his glans, and, like a tourniquet, trap blood in the glans and make it swell).

What should I do if my son's foreskin is forcibly retracted?

Regardless of your son's age, first explain that you didn't know anyone would do that to him, apologize, and tell him you will do your best to make sure no one ever does that to him again.

If your son's penis is swollen, sitz baths will help relieve the swelling and discomfort.

If it hurts your son to urinate, put him in the bath several times a day so that his urine will be diluted by the bath water, then rinse him off. Do not use soap on his penis.

Even if you have been told to retract your son's foreskin, don't. He has been hurt and traumatized and his penis needs to be left alone to heal.

Watch for infection.

Your son may develop adhesions when his foreskin and glans heal but you might not know whether these have separated by themselves or will need to be separated surgically until he has completed puberty.

No one except your son should manipulate his penis to check for adhesions or to see how far his foreskin will retract. A narrow foreskin deserves the same respect as a tight hymen. Both openings will enlarge with sexual maturity.

What legal and/or regulatory action can I take?

David J. Llewellyn, J.D., of Atlanta, Georgia, states:

"Generally the law does not permit a physician to carry out a non-emergency invasive or damaging procedure on a child without the parent's permission. If an infant's foreskin is forcibly retracted, resulting in tearing and pain, and the parents have not given their permission for the procedure, the law of most states provides that the parents may bring a suit on behalf of the child for assault and battery against the physician. Parents should be aware of these facts and should consult competent counsel if their child has been forced to suffer unnecessary pain without their permission."

Parents of boys whose foreskins have been forcibly retracted may want to consult competent, knowledgeable legal counsel about initiating litigation to recover money damages on behalf of their son.

Parents can also file a complaint against the doctor with their state medical licensing board ( Information about reporting physicians is available at Circumcision: Legal Issues (

The Federation of State Medical Licensing Boards ( advises that filing complaints against errant physicians improves the quality of patient care and is a service to the public.

Please report all incidences of premature retraction to NOCIRC.

Super Simple Taco Dip

An instant staple in my house, and SO easy to make.

1 10 oz package Vigo Spanish Rice
1 1/4 lb ground beef
1 can black beans, drained.
1 8oz package Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 jar of salsa (I like Newman's Own "Hot" salsa)
4-8 oz (as desired) colby-jack cheese, shredded.

Prepare the rice according to the package instructions, leaving out the oil/margarine.

In a deep skillet (I use my big electric monster. If you don't have a big skillet, use a stock pot instead - a 10-inch stovetop skillet won't be big enough.) Brown the beef, and drain. Return the beef to the pan, and add the beans and the cream cheese, stirring until all the cream cheese is melted. Add the salsa and heat through.

Spread the rice into a 13x9 inch baking pan, Spread the meat mixture over the rice, and top with cheese. Pop under the broiler just until the cheese is melted - about 4-5 minutes.

Eat it immediately with corn chips. For an extra kick, try it with Doritoes. I like Nacho, Hubby likes Cool Ranch.

Leftovers taste great wrapped in taco shells and warmed in the oven for a few minutes.

Done With Pumpkins - Time for Presents

'Tis the season, after all.

My husband and I talked recently about how we want to treat the holiday season. We have an interesting dilemma, as both of us have a background of traditional fundamental Christianity, as well as cultural mainstream America's propagation of the Santa Claus myth. Neither of us wish to indoctrinate a belief in Santa Claus to our children, so that is settled enough. The religious aspect isn't quite as easy. I no longer hold any real religious belief. My husband still considers himself a Christian, though not a practicing one. He wishes to teach the "true meaning of Christmas", whereas I'd rather celebrate the holiday season as more of a celebration of our cultural identity (we are Irish-American) and follow those traditions.

I think we have made a decent compromise. A secular celebration of the Yule season, with the addition of heartfelt gift-giving (my favourite part of Christmas) at our home, and taking part in the American traditional Christmas with our family elsewhere. Will we have a tree? Perhaps. Last year we hung pine boughs on the walls and strung them with lights. It looked plenty festive, and we maintained use of our living room. Will we tell the story of the Nativity? Why not? I plan on teaching the myths of Zeus, Odin, Ra, Cu Chulainn, and Pecos Bill to my children as well, and a diverse knowledge of world cultures is never a bad thing.

That said - we come to the difficult part: What to give as gifts? How many? How can I give the best gifts for the least money? Should I make something or buy something?

Recently, I was perusing the forums of's Frugal Living section (those ladies know how to pinch a penny until it screams for mercy!) and came across an interesting solution to the perceived NEED to fill a floor with presents on the morning of 25th December. Several ladies implied they give four gifts per family member:

Something they want
Something they need
Something to wear
Something to read

I am intrigued by this. By limiting the children right away to four gifts, and allowing them to know that the gifts are financed by Mom and Dad (as opposed to falling from a reindeer-drawn carriage), we just might prevent the attitude of "That's ALL?!?" I grew up around in my childhood home. I would much rather give four meaningful gifts than a truckload of junk for the same price.

And now, the search begins. This year, I have two to shop for - and thus, eight gifts. Make that seven - I found my hubby's "Something to read" at Borders last week. Wish me luck!