Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Wish List

My friend Sarah posted a "Summer Wish List," inspiring me to do the same. It wasn't that hard of a sell, to be honest. I'm known around these parts as a list fiend. It even gets to the point where I make lists of lists.

So really, this was right up my alley.

Dive in and share my summer wishes and feel free to leave your own in the comments below (or link to your own lists if you end up creating them!). My wish list includes lots of fun, easy breezy summer-esque things, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I debated about how many to include, and in the end whittled it down to 31 in honor of this, my 31st summer.

1. Bike more often. Bike to the park, to the store, to the bank, to the reservoir.

I didn't get this sweet ride for nothing...
2. Get EZ a two-wheeler bike and put in the time to get him from scooting around to biking around.

3. Learn to play the guitar and/or ukulele.

4. Visit new parks besides the 2 or 3 usual "go-to" ones we frequent.

5. Camp on the beach.

From our (trying to be) yearly trip to Cape Cod

6. Practice more yoga.

7. Try my hand at making my own fish tacos.

8. Knit something. I always start knitting once the weather gets cold, but due to my procrastination, it's never done until May. I figure if I start in the summer, I'll have something ready to keep me warm by October!

9. Go on more picnics.

10. See more awesome live music.


11. Take a capoeira class.

12. Make more jam!

My 1st ever batch of canned strawberry jam.

13. Pick blueberries (more than once!)

14. Read more actual books (and slowly ween from reading online). Suggestions?!

15. Visit NYC at least 2 more times (and make sure to eat lots of arepas & cereal milk soft serve).

16. Keep our tiny garden weed free.
My mom, EZ & me working on the garden last year

17. Paint our bedroom.
We painted the stairway/halls last year...then lost steam.

18. Bake cake in jars.

19. Make a pie for Sarah's pie contest (her wish #19 as well).

20. Eat more pie in general. Preferably a la mode.

21. Get an IUD (is that too personal for this blog? ah well. There you go. It's out there).

22. This will be the summer of the dress.

this one from J. Crew

23. Paint my toe nails all sorts of crazy, fabulous, wonderful colors.

24. Treat myself to a massage.

25. Eat more kale. (you know, to offset all the extra pie)

26. Eat soft serve for dinner at least once twice.

27. Teach EZ Hebrew.

28. Take pictures using my camera more (instead of my iPhone)

29. Go on a girls' night out.

30. Turn my cell phone off (despite all it's awesomeness) more.

31. Take an outdoor shower!

Upon a second glance, I realize that this list is a little food heavy, but I'm more than okay with that. My tummy is too.

Let's meet up in September and we'll see how well I did...

I showed you mine, you show me yours!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NPR Reports: The End of Gender?

Even just reading the title of this NPR article makes me feel like I should be running toward the hills in fear.
But yet, here I am, calmly sitting at my computer, simply mulling it all over. The article itself is interesting, but my answer (both before and after having read the article) would be...No.

I honestly don't feel that allowing kids (or adults for that matter) to step outside socially constructed gender boxes is a.) harmful or b.) going to create the dissolution of gender as we know it.

While it may seem that there has been a media focus on those who've stepped outside gender constructs lately, this "issue" isn't really a new one. There have been those bucking the trend for years, yet for some  reason (and I am always open to hearing folks' theories) the media is hyper focused on it now.

When Marlo Thomas' Free To Be You & Me came out, both the book and the DVD Tape record made it's way into many kids' homes, including mine. I have fond memories of playing my record over and over again on my Fisher Price player, singing along to Parents Are People and eagerly listening to the story of "Atalanta."

I also remember listening to William's Doll. This song told the tale of young William and the love he shared with his doll. I wonder how many young boys listened to the same song and were reassured of their own choice to play with a doll? Yet, despite "William" and other young boys' desires to play with dolls, I'm certain this didn't impact their masculine identity in a damaging way.

William and his doll didn't cause the dissolution of gender lines. We didn't lose the "machismo" of our armed forces nor did we forget how to procreate (two fears that Fox News' Dr. Ablow is certain will come to fruition if boys are allowed to paint their toes or play with dolls. sigh.)

Even stories such as the one about Storm and his folks aren't going to bring an end to the concept of gender. While I may not fully champion it (it's not my decision, so does that even matter?) I don't think that not revealing your child's gender to the public will harm a deeply seeded societal concept. Gender construct is the majority notion for all intents and purposes, and I do not see it going away, nor would I necessarily want it to.

I've never advocated for the dissolution of gender constructs, but rather for the acceptance of those who choose to play outside those rigid lines. Let's try and focus on that rather than the sensationalized calamity that is (but really isn't) the end of gender.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Link Love!

love...straight from EZ's hands this week
Jon Stewart nails it out of the park (again) on this Fox News Sunday segment. Brilliant + hilarious = awesomeness.

NPR came out with this interesting look at "the end of gender." You can be sure I'll have something to say about it. Until I get a chance to sit down and do that, take a gander at what they had to say!

Bamboo Magazine came out with their Summer issue this week and it's got a bunch of interesting reads (including a small editorial written by me on page 75! at least, I hope mine is interesting...)

In case you need to brush up...check out this Bitches' Guide to Etiquette. It's okay. We all need a refresher now and then.

It may come as a surprise that I kind of dig Lady Gaga (or not, who knows what you folks out there in Internet land think of me). I also love people who cover her song, and this version with two men, one guitar playing Bad Romance, bluegrass style is totally the song that sings to me this week!

Where have you been wasting your time online this week? Feel free to leave some link love yourself in the comments!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sexualizing To Sell Swimwear

When my son was born, I had a brief moment of "b-b-but he isn't a girl." It passed in the blink of an eye, but it was still there (I feel almost guilty admitting it, but there you go). We had opted not to find out the sex of the baby beforehand, and I'll admit I had little fantasies of raising a kick ass feminist daughter while pregnant. Of course, since then I've learned that I'm raising a pretty kick ass feminist son, so all is good in that regard.

In the past 4.5 years, I've found myself immersed in issues related to raising boys. My days are mostly relegated to navigating things like long hair, painted toe nailsprincess play, and learning to find the balance (if there is any) with gun play, amongst many other things. While issues affecting young girls do interest me, they mostly reside in my periphery, and I find myself giving them time when I can.

There are times, however, when I simply can't ignore an issue related to young a parent, as a woman, and just as a human being.

Yesterday, my Twitter feed and Facebook wall was abuzz about Submarine Kids, a swimwear line with a questionable marketing campaign. I found myself almost bypassing the link, but ended up clicking, much to my dismay. There I found pictures of little girls in small bikinis, styled to look like young women with heavy make up, wigs and overtly sexualized posing. My heart sank and my stomach turned. How was this any way to market bathing suits to young girls?

Image from Submarine Kids
The young girls I know can't be bothered to stand still long enough to pout their lips, give "come hither" looks or pose their bodies in ways that suggest overt sexuality. They're too busy swimming, splashing and running and generally using their bathing suit for their intended purpose - playing in the water and protection from the summer sun.

This site was first brought to my attention by Melissa Wardy of the fabulous Pigtail Pals. Melissa succinctly summed up the issues I had with the swimwear site in a wonderfully worded letter she wrote to the president of the company.

While I knew that there would be those who would read Melissa's post and say that people were "overreacting," I wasn't prepared for comments from those who not only seemed to be wearing blinders, but accused Melissa and others of looking for trouble where there was none.

While I am completely against sensationalizing things for the sake of furthering a cause, this simply isn't the case with this marketing. Using heavily made up girls in provocative poses sells sex before it sells swimwear.

I have no problem with trendy, well made, adorable swimwear. As a parent, comfort and sun protection are my top goals when it comes to swimsuits, and I can't imagine those would change had my child been a girl. Yet, if a young girl wants to wear a bikini and her parents are okay with that, then it's their choice. That is not my issue.

My issue revolves around the sexualization of these young girls in order to sell these particular bathing suits. There is healthy sexuality, and then there is sexualization, which is something entirely different.

According to the APA, sexualization occurs when:

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

The marketing campaign that greets you when visiting Submarine Kids falls right into the above, with little regard for the potential affect it might have on their target audience.

There is no need to dress up young girls in a manner that clearly brings to mind older, sexual women. Vampish wigs, thick make up and poses that show off body parts that are years from even being developed comes across as not only vulgar but almost predatory.

To place overt sexuality upon these girls to sell swimwear is both out of place and damaging on many levels. It not only encourages the idea that it is okay to sexualize little girls, but it attempts to normalize it, when it is anything but normal.

One commenter on the Pigtail Pals post suggested that perhaps because the owner of the swimwear line is Brazilian, that the lax view of sexuality was cultural. That is a huge leap to make. A lax view on sexuality and sexualizing young girls are two separate things. And perhaps trying to write it off as "oh, it's just a Brazilian thing" further enables the atrocities that actually occur in Brazil. Brazil actually has one of the largest child prostitution problems in the world (after Thailand), so perhaps it is that embedded acceptance that allows for others to gloss over the sexualization in these photographs.

With both child prostitution and child trafficking growing problems in Brazil, it seems even more upsetting that a Brazilian created company would market swimwear using pictures eerily reminiscent of those used in relation to child prostitution.

It is a shame, really, as the company has a variety of truly kid-friendly suits hidden behind the appalling marketing that greets you when you go to the site. Why Submarine Kids chooses these overly sexualized images to be the face of their company when they could easily use more appropriate ones is beyond me. Perhaps these are questions we should be asking the president of the company.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Week In The Life...

And it was

Which is really not my thing. At all. Which is slightly ironic for somebody who champions her son's love of all things princess and pink.

But, really. Pink and I just don't really mesh. I've never loved it and tend to stray from it in most aspects of my life except fruity cocktails. My wardrobe is a muted mix of greens, browns and blues with the occasional shade of purple or maroon tossed in for good measure. But rarely will you ever see pink in there. (Okay, I'll cop to a salmon colored v-neck shirt that mostly gets worn to sleep).

When I paint my toenails, I usually opt for metallic purple, turquoise or green. Sometimes I'll go crazy and opt for gold or silver. The only reason I even have pinks or red in my polish collection are from holdovers from when I volunteered at a retirement center and would give manicures to the residents (who loooooooooooved a deep, vampy red or soft, coral pink).

And yet, despite my apparent aversion to the color, bits of pink have been slipping into my life...mostly through EZ. Last week, more than most, proved that.

Earlier in the week it was rainy, so we decided to paint nails together to pass the time. He insisted on rainbow toes.
I, on the other hand was debating between a dark, shimmery plum color and a matte chartreuse. EZ wouldn't hear of it.

"Pink!" he demanded, and I shook my head, fierce in my refusal.

"But it will look so prettttttty. You'll look so pretty, Ima."

Then he did something crazy where his eyes grew two sizes and his already plump bottom lip pouted out even further and I...caved.

And you know what? It's not horrible kind of cute. I still look down at my toes and think they're somebody else's every so often, but the pink is actually, dare I say it, growing on me. But, as polish is easily removable, we'll see how long it lasts. But let it not be said that I don't try new things, or try to act outside the box (or I guess act inside the gender construct box in this case!)

The pink parade didn't end there, however.

Midweek EZ hung out with my friend and her daughter, running errands. He came home all excited to show me his new swim vest. We had been borrowing one from another friend, so I was curious as to why he needed this one.

"Because it's pink!" he exclaimed as if that made all the difference.

Splashing at a pool party at the end of the week

In fact, as I was told later. He not only wore it all throughout the store, but at Trader Joe's as well. When I asked him why he chose that specific one, I was surprised to hear that the answer was "flowers" rather than just "pink."

The pink swim vest has been a constant ever since then, and not only at the pool. It's accompanied us out on errands (just in case we run into a surprise swimming hole?) and I have to say that like my painted nails, it's grown on me. When my kid looks that darn cute in it, it's hard not to dig it just a little bit...even if it is pink.

Perhaps this is the summer of pink. Where I let my own prejudices go and learn to accept this oft maligned (at least in my mind) color. Who knows, by the end of August you just might find me sporting a look that even Barbie would envy.

Or not. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Link Love!

A busy week leads to little link love...not because I don't think there's a bunch of fabulous stuff out there this week, but because I've been too busy to find it! If you've found something I just *have* to check out, please link to it in the comments...I could use a little distraction!

Love in photo form from my fabulous friend Abbe's blog: Make.Do.See.Be

While I only have one kid and one cat, this illustrated description of nighttime more than accurately depicts some nights I've experienced (more than I care to remember...).

Samuel L. Jackson reads a wonderfully NSFW(or kid's ears) bedtime story that gave me the giggles.

Stumbled across yet another fabulous positive body image website.

This week's song that sings to me is's whatever you want it to be. This site lets you use YouTube videos to create your own masterpiece. I could waste hours here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nothing To Say About A Night Out

Some days I wonder about this whole blogging thing...

There are days when I wake up with an entire post already prewritten in my head, and I'm chomping at the bit to get it down before I forget. Other times I'll read an article or other blog and it sets something off where I absolutely need to respond. There are also times when an idea will stew in my brain until I've found the words to properly express myself.

And of course, there are times when I have nothing to say. And today seems to be one of those days.

Well, that's not entirely true, but you don't really want to hear about bug bites the size of golf balls, the squirrel that got trapped in our basement for 3 days, or my current penchant for Arnold Palmers, do you?

Perhaps I have little to say because I spent this past weekend in NYC, including a night away from EZ (who slept over my folks' house). There was little parenting involved, really (and a Zach Galifinakis sighting, but that's neither here nor there), so what would I have to write about?

The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that the whole "no parenting for a night" was actually a pretty big event in our household.

It was EZ's first night away from both of us (we've previously had solo nights away for various reasons). Some might think that we waited too long to have a night away from our 4.5 year old - I know my own folks have been pushing us for an overnight for a while now. But to me, it felt just right.

It was EZ's idea, and while there were moments of anxiousness leading up to the big night (for both of us!), we talked through them and he seemed genuinely excited. The evening went off without a hitch...

We got to enjoy subway rides without somebody tugging on our arms showing us every.single.bit of graffiti we passed, and ate a leisurely 3 hour (!!!) dinner with friends at a delicious restaurant.

And an hour and a half away, EZ had a blast with his grandparents, eating ice cream and watching movies. Both MD and I enjoyed ourselves and are already planning our next overnight away, despite the lingering whispers of guilt.


Yeah, guilt. Over, you know, having fun and doing things without my kid. In my head, I knew how illogical that even sounded. Of course I'm entitled to a night away from my son where I can have fun, let loose and not have that responsibility for a while. But that didn't stop my heart from feeling that small tug.

The various feelings battled themselves out in my head (and heart). I enjoyed the night away with MD...we had fun being childless for the evening with little responsibility. At the same time, I missed my son, despite knowing he was having fun and enjoying himself as well. In the end, I figured that there was enough room inside of me to allow for both...I could still have a night out while missing my son.

While I'm sure that the feeling will lessen the more we do overnights away, it's interesting to me that I still had those thoughts. I'm trying not to be hard on myself or judgmental, just observant, really.

It helps when others observe these things as well.

As I collected my thoughts on this topic, it almost felt serendipitous to come across this article by Mayim Bialik. She writes about something similar (although she was away from her kids for longer, for work related reasons) and I appreciate having another voice out there sharing my thoughts.

And, as always...I'd love to hear yours.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Link Love!

Strawberry love picked earlier this week

Loving this fabulous picture linked from Beauty Redefined about body hair. Ever since I begged my mother to let me shave my legs before heading off to summer sleep-away camp at the ripe old age of 11, I've gone through phases of removing/leaving be my body hair and while it's certainly a personal choice, it always amazes me when people feel the need to chime in with their opinions.

I love to cook. I love to watch people cooking even more, hence my addiction to shows like Top Chef. Now I've discovered I also love to watch people cooking while drunk. Specifically this girl. Her YouTube vids are hilarious.

Oh, Jon Stewart. Thank you for making this former social studies teacher laugh. Also "Folksy Word Salad" = win.

Awesome pictures of awesome people hanging out together and generally being awesome? Yes, please.

This week's song that sings to me is a classic by The Beatles. It's the way that it's sung that really grabs me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Have it all?

I may have applied for a job. (ok, so I totally did apply for a job, but the reality of it is a little overwhelming right now)

It's a part time position doing something that is incredibly interesting to me and I kind of really hope I get it.

I'm also incredibly scared.

Since I've sent in my application, I've found myself thinking about what would happen if I got the job... Could I actually have it all?

That term gets tossed around a lot in mommy-land...the notion that not only can you have a perfectly organized and awesome home life, but you can also land your dream job and make it all work.

That notion feels like something somebody sells you in a late night infomercial by a man in a heavily patterned sweater and Aussie accent.

And really...doesn't it seem like TV perpetuates that notion all the time?

Meaning...the pitch is always way more impressive than the actual thing being sold. I mean really: Snuggies? Pajama Jeans? The Quick Chop? Okay, maybe the Clapper...

But the reality seems to be that it's not actually that easy to achieve. After all, wasn't that the whole crux of the supposed mommy wars? When career moms and stay-at-home moms started "battling it out," it made the notion that you could "have it all" that much more unattainable.

Loving the fishnets on the career mom. 

I'll be honest, I'm not so sure who started this supposed war, but I have a feeling it wasn't actually a pair of moms who faced off against each other. They were probably too busy cleaning the house, watching the kids, running errands and/or working.

Yet, I would also be naive to not realize the very real way this affects women who have children. Regardless of whether or not you buy into the whole concept of "The Mommy Wars" - it still exists and is pervasive enough in our culture that just the thought of applying for a part time job sets my head spinning.

Wow. Those kids look scared.

I'm sure I don't speak just for myself when I say that many of us feel pulled in both directions. Whether it's because we gave up careers before becoming stay-at-home parents, or because we now find ourselves at a job while somebody else watches our babies. There doesn't seem to be a perfect answer...that magical "have it all" notion wrapped up all informercial pretty like.

The more I've thought about all of this, the more I've started to wish that people would think in different terms. Instead of competing and comparing, isn't there a way we can find value in what we do, regardless of the choice?

One aspect I love about feminism and the women's rights movement is the fact that we fought for the right to choose. Betty Friedan vented about her frustrations with being stuck in the home in 1963, because back then there was much less of a choice revolving around what was expected of women. (And I should clarify, that while that feeling was probably shared with many across the country, Betty Friedan really spoke about/to white, married women with children in middle to upper class communities).

Thanks to Friedan and others like her, more women felt comfortable making the choice to join the workforce in addition to having families. And...some women felt comfortable (and validated) making the choice to stay home.

The fact that a war between women eventually developed over this freedom of choice continues to baffle me. Instead of judging the other, why can't we celebrate the face that we can actually make the choice?

Maybe I'm feeling defensive about it because I'm flirting with straddling the line...working part time outside the home while still being a part time SAHM. Maybe my fear is that while trying to do both (because I want to, not because I think I'm supermom or anything!) something will end up suffering.

Or...Maybe I'm just over thinking it all.

What do you think?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Link Love!

Blurry, steamy love this week

Beauty Redefined is an excellent website that recognizes and rejects harmful media ideals about beauty and health. Much of what they post is both fascinating and frightening, but I was really interested in this piece about physically photoshopping ourselves out of reality.

Gender Across Borders ran a wonderful series on Masculinity this week that includes posts on a wide range of issues. There are a lot of them, but take the time to read through them - lots of food for thought!

Just when we decide to cut our HBO, True Blood decides to come back with season 4. Of course. No worries. I'm sure we'll find ways to illegally stream watch it. Until then, sink your teeth (I know, I'm cringing too, but it had to be said) into this and this.

Last time I'll mention this (probably not really), but I joined the 365 Project and am 3 days in. Feel free to follow me over there and see my year in photos.

Oh, look. I'm mentioning myself yet again. I'm probably committing a bunch of internet and blogging faux pas by doing so, but whatever. These peanut noodles were amazing, and the threat of a tornado caused me to make them. So, there you have it.

And finally...the song that sings to me this week is an old favorite by the Indigo Girls. No real reason, mostly because I feel like singing out loud and pretending I can harmonize. Come join me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

365 Project

I like to take pictures.

I'm not the best at taking them, but in a batch of 100 or so, I'm bound to find a handful that stand out to me for whatever reason.

Pictures fascinate me. They tell stories, give us glimpses into other's lives and remind us of memories we want to cherish (and sometimes forget). It's with this spirit that I embark upon the 365 Project.

The goal: 365 different pictures - 1 a day over the course of a year.

It's both daunting and exciting all at the same time. I'm eager to see if I can actually stick to it, and am curious to see what my year in pictures will look like.

I won't be posting the pictures here daily, but you are more than welcome to check them out over at the 365 Project.

I've made a tab for the project up above, and you can head over there if you need a quick link to the website, or you can follow me directly as well.

My goal is to take a new picture every day (and not use the stockpile of photos I've amassed). We'll see what happens...

And just to officially celebrate the 1st day:

Picture #1 was taken around 4pm on June 1st...right between some hail and a tornado...

If you decide to participate and I'm not already following you, leave a comment below and I'll find you there!