Monday, June 30, 2014

#365feministselfie June

This has been a really hard month. Like, really hard. For a lot of different reasons that I won't get into here and now, but it's been a toughie. Despite the rough spots, I look back at the month in selfies and see so many smiles and snuggles and accomplishments. I leveled up on my professional license! I got a new tattoo! I got to spend many lovely moments outdoors!Delilah has grown up so much that she won't let me wrap her anymore, which means she didn't end up in any of my selfies! (I resolve to rectify that for July!)

It's hard to believe that we're halfway through this year-long project. The group of women I'm doing this with is like nothing I've ever been a part of before. We came together because of a year long photo project that was designed to allow women who identify feminists to show glimpses into their daily lives.

We all share that one thing in common. We all identify as feminists. Many of us mothers, many of us are not. Many of us are partnered, many of us are not. We are all shapes, all sizes, all colors, all sexual orientations. We are all religions and no religion. We work and we stay at home and we go to school. We are different in every way, and yet, we have come together in this project and we have laughed together, we have cried together. We have celebrated births and we have mourned losses. We have lifted each other up. We have given and received advice. We have honored each other with kindness, respect, and gratitude every step along the way. There has been no drama, no ugliness, no attacks, no breeches of trust. 

This project, and this very special group of women have taught me about myself, about women. About feminism. Feminism is every woman living her life, her truth, freely and with purpose. Feminism is every woman celebrating herself for where she is on her journey. Feminism is every woman having love and support and being acknowledged for the complex and unique being she is. Feminism is both a radical movement and a simple way of life. I couldn't be more proud to share it with my sisters in selfies, and I hope that we will continue to share of ourselves, with each other, long after this project is completed. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It Takes Someone Special

Dear Delilah & Canon,

Today is Father's Day. There's a popular saying that goes "Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad." While I'll admit that this message raises my hackles a little bit, today is not the day for a feminist deconstruction of the implications of this message. Today is the day for focusing on your father, your Dad, and him? He is someone special.

I know that I don't tell him often enough just how special he is, but I know that he feels it each and every day when you, his children, throw your arms around his neck or plant a kiss on his cheek. One of the most important things a good father can do for his children is just to be there, and your father is there. When I was pregnant with each of you, he came to every appointment with me, not just to support me, but to ask questions and be fully invested in your lives from the beginning. He's continued to attend every well-check or urgent care visit. He attends preschool orientations and family gatherings. He plans his social life around our family life, and when he has to work long hours, he misses you both terribly.

He goes beyond just being "there," he's actively involved, not merely a spectator. We make informed parenting decisions together in what we believe to be your best interests. He's a gentle, sensitive, and nurturing man who encourages you both in your individuality and supports your interests and dreams. He validates your feelings and would never raise a hand to you or knowingly do anything to harm you. He gives you baths and reads you books at bedtime. He teaches you how to play instruments and how to hold a fishing pole. He kisses skinned knees and hugs hurt feelings.

Your father teaches, by his example, the values of hard work, kindness and compassion, equality, cooperation, honesty, and responsibility. He puts our family first, and he puts conscious effort into making sure we know just how much we mean to him. (The world. We mean the world to him.) He treats your mother with love and respect, and he supports her in her own dreams and endeavors.

With the way I'm going on him about him, he might be starting to sound practically perfect, right? Like anyone else, he makes mistakes, but he is quick to acknowledge and apologize for them. He knows that life is a learning journey, and he's committed to being there until the end. Any man can be a father, but there's no other father quite like yours, and he is someone special, indeed.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Infantino Union Review

Amanda & Fox Comfy and Cozy in the Union
Let me start by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I have no relationship with Infantino and they have no idea that I am writing this review. (Although when it is done I am TOTALLY going to send it to them and see if they'll let me give one away. Cross your fingers, k?) I bought the carrier on my own in the interest of my passion for affordable and accessible babywearing. I've recommended it in the past based on the price and reviews by others, but prefer to recommend things I've tried myself.


The Infantino Union is an affordable Soft Structured Carrier, available at major retailers and online at Amazon for around $30. Which is unheard of for an ergonomically correct carrier with buckles. (At the time of writing, it is on sale for $23.99!) Typically, soft structured carriers are known for being relatively quick and easy to use, ergonomic, versatile, comfortable, sturdy, and....expensive.

Enter the Union.

The Union offers many features of higher-end brands at a fraction of the cost. It is highly adjustable for wearers of many shapes and sizes, from petite to plus-sized. My lovely model Amanda called her husband to rush over to our local babywearing meetup to see if it fit him. It did. He's a big burly biker dude with an always relevant sweet ginger beard. At 6'3" and about 260 pounds, it's the only SSC he's tried that he could use without an extender. The adjustments are relatively easy to make, and I could even reach the chest/back clip in a front carry, although those who suffer from T-Rex Arm Syndrome may have some trouble accomplishing that feat without a helper.

Just about knee-to-knee on 16 month old Fox

The outer material is a sturdy nylon, the inner fabric is soft and the entire body is lightly padded. This lends itself to a cushy ride for the kiddo, but does mean that it doesn't breath as well as carriers made from natural fibers and might get a bit warm. The padding on the shoulder straps is sufficient to not aggravate my notoriously picky shoulders, though not as cushy as carriers thrice the price, which is to be expected. The design makes for a nice, deep seat that will support babies and smaller toddlers in the ideal knee-to-knee position, though it will safely carry bigger toddlers (listed weight limit is 40 pounds) with relatively good positioning.

They really were looking over there,
I did not steal a page from the JCPenny Photo Studio manual.
Overall, this a sturdy, comfortable carrier with a lot of bang for the buck. It lacks a sleeping hood and is not the coolest or most breathable option, but is sturdy enough to take a serious beating. It is an excellent option for babywearers on a tight budget or would make a great back-up or car carrier for those of the "babywearing stash" persuasion. It also makes for an excellent "Daddy Carrier" if you've got a dude in your life who thinks wraps or slings aren't manly enough. (Mine loves to rock a ring sling, but your mileage may vary.) While I drank the woven wrap Kool-Aid when Canon came along, the Union was not noticeably less comfortable than the variety of buckle carriers I used when Delilah was wee, and was easier to adjust than several of them.

Now that I've tried it for myself, I can comfortably recommend the Infantino Union as an all-purpose carrier at a great price.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

School's Out For Summer

Dear Delilah,

First, let's just get it out of the way that yes, I'm a dorky mom who uses cheesy song lyrics to describe things on a regular basis.


Your first experience with formal education, your first school year in a local Montessori preschool, has passed by in the blink of an eye. It seems impossible that 9 months have passed since you pranced around with your pristine pink ice cream backpack and then clung tearfully to your father and I when we dropped you off for your first day. Today, the backpack has been stained by dripping lunches and mud, and has carried in it numerous art projects and other work. Today, you greeted your classmates and teachers with confidence and enthusiasm. Today, your very first summer vacation begins.

Our intuition that Montessori would be a good fit for you has been more than affirmed, and you will continue on in Montessori education next year and likely through at least elementary school. The freedom-within-limits learning environment, the inherent respect for the space and boundaries of others, the inclusion of music, the balance of teacher guided, peer learning, and independence have all come together as fertile ground in which you have truly blossomed.

In this short time, you have learned to spell your first, middle, and last names. You have learned to stand in line and take turns. Your drawings have gone from random scribbles to identifiable shapes and figures. Your stories are complex and imaginative, and the songs you make up have depth and passion. You've come to value cooperation and have developed a desire to help others and work together. The growth in your overall confidence is matched by the growth in your imagination and your sense of humor.

You speak frequently and fondly of your friends and your teachers and have looked forward to going to school nearly every day. You don't seem to believe me that you won't have school this summer, and yet you speak with excitement about starting at your new school next year. Your drive both to learn and to teach others make me swell with pride.

I look forward to what the summer will bring, as you're already helping in the garden and around the house in meaningful ways. I love your love of learning and have hope that the foundation laid in your preschool experience will carry you through a lifetime of seeking knowledge and a greater understanding of the world around you. You've got it by the tail, my dear.



Monday, June 2, 2014

#365feministselfie May

Another month in feminist selfies has come and gone!

The number of photos outdoors are a good indication that Spring has FINALLY Sprung after a very long, harsh Winter. Represented here are baseball games, weekends at the lake house, fun with family, the 7th anniversary of my first date with my husband, a Mental Health Awareness walk with my colleagues, and as usual, babywearing and breastfeeding. May was a busy month, but mostly in the best possible way.