vacation, all i’ve ever wanted

I think it was back in February, when winter still seemed interminable, that the girls had a particularly terrible day and Jon and I looked at each other and decided we needed a vacation to look forward to. Within days I had booked a week at a beach house on the Gulf coast. We invited two other families and began excitedly looking forward to taking our kids to the beach for the first time. I got through many a hard day by reminding myself “in May, you get to go TO THE BEACH.” And now that week is upon us. This is how I feel:

This is 7 years, two babies, and several pounds ago, but you get the idea of how I feel about the beach.

This is 7 years, two babies, and several pounds ago, but you get the idea of how I feel about the beach.

I am looking forward to a very low-key time of hanging out, splashing around, and drinking icy beverages within sight of the ocean.

I’m also doing something crazy: attempting to take an actual vacation from the internet. Not like, ZERO internetting, because I know myself and yes, the house has wifi, but I’m going to like, temporarily delete Twitter from my phone and try not to be so internet addicted for a week. I’ll still be Instagramming, though, because it really is my favorite slice of the interwebz.

Got any last minute beach-trip-with-little-kids tips I should know about? Are you looking forward to any travels this summer?

how my mombod wound up on nightline

My most recent blog post, “mombod” started out as a rant to my husband. As I was venting to him about how ridiculous it was that people were writing lists about reasons “dadbods” are attractive when there’s a total double standard about moms’ bodies, I realized I was already halfway done writing a blog post with my words. I quickly fired off a post, and since I felt it was timely, I went ahead and submitted it to my editors at Huffington Post as well. They immediately picked it up. I got a lot of positive feedback from friends about the piece, and felt good about myself for holding it down for all the mombods out there.

The next day, the girls and I had a slow morning at home before meeting up with some friends for lunch. When I got home and got the girls down for a nap, I checked my email and saw a message from a producer at Nightline. She had read my mombod piece on HuffPost and wanted to know if I would be interested in speaking on camera about it. That night.

I could tell the producer was looking for sort of a “backlash to dadbod” angle, and made clear that I wasn’t *against* dadbod. I love dadbods! I’m married to a hottie with a bit of a dad-body. My entire message was that if we’re going to accept, love, and admit that we find imperfect male bodies attractive and desirable, we needed to do the same for women, whose general message from society is usually that if their bodies bear any evidence that they have borne children, it is a problem to be fixed, not a beautiful, acceptable new normal. The producer said she liked that idea, too, and within a few minutes, she had arranged for a local ABC camera crew to come to my house at 3:30 to film the interview and get some b-roll of me with my family.

That left me a couple of hours to a) freak out, b) get at least two spaces in my house cleaned up enough to appear on camera, and c) fret about what I was going to wear. I quickly eliminated option c) and decided to just leave on what I had been wearing for a normal day momming it up in my mombod. I thanked God I had showered and fixed my hair that morning. I warned my husband, who was getting off work right around the time of the interview that he would likely be arriving just in time for filming (which is why he appears in his work scrubs in the footage).

The camera crew showed up at 3:00 and did a LOT of setting up. Lighting something for film ain’t no joke. I sat in a chair for most of it and remembered the storyline about the lighting stand-ins from “Love Actually.” When they were finally ready, the producer called and asked me the interview questions via speaker phone while I looked at one of the camera guys to the side of the camera and pretended he was interviewing me. The nice part about being interviewed about something I’ve written is, I don’t really have to come up with points on the spot– I’ve already written and edited them and basically just have to restate them to answer the questions, so I didn’t feel super on the spot or like I had to fish for answers. The most difficult part was trying to remember to include the question in my responses, since the interviewer wouldn’t be heard on camera.

Then they wanted to get some footage of us as a family, so we did some playing in the den, “made a snack” in the kitchen (it wasn’t really snack time, so I had the girls help me pull some grapes off the stems and put them in a bowl to serve later with dinner), and took a walk in front of our house. While the camera guys had won me over by helping make sure my bra straps didn’t appear on film (sleeveless shirt hazard), they lost me a little bit when I saw the final interview and realized that although they swore my tripping did NOT appear in their footage, the one bit of walking they did show was in fact me tripping. I’m nothing but grace.

At that point, I didn’t know who else would be in the story, or really what they would be doing with my answers. When the interview aired after my bedtime that night (I stayed up to watch, though, because I was pumped), I saw it for the first time along with everyone else. I loved the dadbod blogger, because he was sweet and funny, and I immediately worried that he’d get negative comments for being slightly larger than the average dadbod, which really has been one of the most common comments people have made to me– “Isn’t that guy bigger than a dadbod?” To that I say: I don’t care, and it doesn’t really matter. In fact, again, my entire message on bodies is that whatever body you have, it is worthy of love and acceptance, and it can be seen as sexy.

Also, my husband immediately pointed out that I was billed as a “mommy blogger” but the other guy wasn’t billed as a “daddy blogger.” Many bloggers better than I have tackled the gag-worthiness of the phrase “mommy blogger,” but for the record, I was asked to state my name and occupation on camera, and I described myself as a “writer and mom.” I would pretty much never call myself a mommy blogger. I’ve been blogging longer than I’ve been a mom, and I’ve always blogged about many subjects that include but are not limited to parenting. Marginalizing women’s writing as something for “mommies” is offensive and sexist.

That said, I think my message came across, and I thought the piece was a good one. I’m annoyed that the headline is “Mommy Blogger Fires Back Against Dadbod Physique,” when I’m not against dadbods (or any bods) in the slightest. As I said originally, “Whatever body you have, mombod, dadbod, rippedbod, fatbod, YOU are what make your body sexy, not the other way around.”

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The other day, I started noticing a phrase in people’s tweets. “Dadbod.” At first I just thought it was some sort of inside joke among some of the writers that I follow, like the physical embodiment of dad jeans, or something. But I soon realized that they must be getting this dadbod thing from somewhere. So I did what I usually do (read, used Twitter as my own personal Google) and tweeted something like, “I’m going to need a dadbod origin story. What the heck are you guys all talking about?” I mean, when childless hipster friends on Facebook have started to mention their “dadbods,” there’s some kind of Thing going on. Helpful folks on Twitter led me to this piece from The Cut, which was apparently riffing on something a student at Clemson named Mackenzie Pearson wrote. Basically, “dadbod” is what frat boys with beer guts are now calling their physique. Like, I’m not ripped because I’m too busy having fun, please enjoy my dadbod.

The gist I got from The Cut is that dadbod is something some folks are into. Like folks who really dig Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. I’ve been known to say a dude looks like “a cute dad,” and I happen to be married to a pretty hot dad, so I guess I might fall into the dadbod fandom. Dadbod is apparently just a funny hip coinage for an average, healthy male body that doesn’t spend a ton of time on like, Crossfit or something. If you were to call it what it really is though, you’d probably call it average.

At the end of the piece, though, one of The Cut’s editors says “I can’t stop thinking about how offended I would be if men were talking about the ‘Mombod.'” Except PLENTY of people have made it clear that “mombod” is an actual thing, yes, but also a thing to be avoided like the plague. No one writes appreciation pieces about the mombod and how “doughier tummy areas are good at sex — better, even — than, say, a ripped-abbed [person].” Because obviously, we doughy-tummied mommies are not sexual beings but rather sad sacks who need to GET THAT BODY BACK, RETURN TO OUR PRE BABY BODIES, GET A BEACH BODY, ROCK THAT BIKINI POST BABY, ETC.

mombods are sexy

with my mombod in my mom jeans with my offspring.

Dudes are allowed to have “dadbods” and be seen as cute for it precisely because their worth isn’t as intrinsically tied to their appearance the way women’s worth is.

Here’s the thing though: mombod is real. Some women get “back” to tight abs and perky boobs after they become moms, but I’d venture that most of us are changed in at least some way by the experience, and there isn’t really any going back. Even if you “lose that baby weight,” stuff just isn’t the same anymore. We can see our bodies as damaged goods, or we can embrace the transformation. Growing twins may have left my midsection softer and my belly button unrecognizable, but it also made me feel more deeply connected to my body. And you know what that is, really? A sensual experience. An empowering experience. And sensuality and power and even softness are sexy.

So. If “dadbod” gets to have a moment, if we get to admit that “imperfect” male bodies are desirable, let’s do the same for “mombod” too. Whatever body you have, mombod, dadbod, rippedbod, fatbod, YOU are what make your body sexy, not the other way around.

tacos de mayo

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When we visited Austin for the first time, I knew I had found my kind of town when I realized they like to eat tacos for breakfast. When I first met my husband, I would have said pasta was my favorite food, but his love of all things salsa, taco, and burrito have changed my ways. We eat tacos all the time, and mostly vegetarian ones. Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I thought I would share some of our favorite taco recipes, and maybe a couple of drinks to go along with them. (Speaking of drinks, if you follow me on Instagram and have ever asked me for a drink recipe, you might check out the #buffloimbibes tag up top under the header.) (Another note: if you’re reading this via a reader like Feedly, you might need to click through to see the embedded recipes.)

Serve those tacos with salsa, guac, and this Mexican rice:

And to drink:

Let me know if you make any of these recipes for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations! As for us, we’ve got tickets to see one of my favorite bands, Hurray for the Riff Raff, so we won’t be partaking on the day of. I’ve got plans for tacos and margaritas at some point this week, though.

Side note: have you liked Ernie Bufflo on Facebook? Lately I’ve been sharing a lot of funny things the girls say, so don’t miss out if you’re a fan of the darnedest things kids say.

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six years and a lifetime ago

I just realized thanks to Facebook’s new time traveling feature that I started this blog six years ago. It seems like a lifetime ago.

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I got to see THIS on the regular when I started this site.

 

When I started writing here, we were still fairly newly wed and our only child was Bessie dog. We had moved to Charleston, SC for Jon’s pediatrics residency, and we were not just in love with each other, but in love with our new city, as well. Jon worked like a dog, but time off was for lazing about on Folly Beach, enjoying bottomless brunches downtown, and hunting down every good meal we could find in one of the best food towns in the world. Things weren’t all rosy though– I had just lost my first real post-college job in real estate thanks to the market crash and recession, and I spent some time on unemployment. I felt like we were starting to be actual adults, not just two kids playing house. We were dealing with real issues in a new place in a time that seemed very economically uncertain. My thoughts were consumed by my infatuation with our new home and also concern for big issues nationwide.

Perhaps because we didn’t know many people well in Charleston outside of the wonderful people we met through residency, Jon often found himself on the receiving end of what can really only be described as monologs– he got all of my thoughts, musings, and rants. And one day, he not so subtly suggested that maybe I needed some kind of outlet, like a blog or something, where I could write through my thoughts and connect to others.

So, I did. I didn’t expect much– I just wanted to do more writing and connecting, and having a little outpost on the internet was a way to achieve that. I wrote in my first post, “I am thinking of starting a blog.  Thinking seems to be all I do, because I’m scared to pull the trigger in case the thing turns into a pit of narcissism and monotony.  No one wants to read my diary.  Not even me.  And yet, I write so little now that I’m a liar when I call myself a writer.  Can’t remember the last time I wrote anything, let alone something worth reading.” I still think of this place as somewhere I do something that’s slightly more organized and edited than a diary. You don’t get the play by play of my life, here, but you do get portraits of pieces of it, both the beautiful and the difficult. And, reflective of those big concerns I’ve had from the start, you also get political opinions, theological musings, and even feminist rants.

ah, the sweet life of two childfree people who get to do things like lounge in hammocks.

ah, the sweet life of two childfree people who get to do things like lounge in hammocks.

It’s funny to me now to look back on posts like this one, where I was considering becoming a mother, and largely terrified of the bodily experience of pregnancy and childbirth, now that six years later, I squeeze in time to write while caring for my three year old twins (first mention of them ever on this blog here). I can definitely say becoming a mother has connected me to my body in deep and meaningful ways, and helped me learn to love myself too. And then there was this one, where Jon had just told he he was ready to have a baby like, NOW, and I pondered the more existential changes that would come along with parenthood. I also worried about how to be a mother and a writer. It turns out becoming a mother has both changed everything about me and also not really changed who I am at all. Sure, I write a lot more about parenting-related topics now, and I think I’ve become stronger and more patient and more vulnerable and more open and and more mature along this journey, but that also generally just happens to a person as they age into their thirties, too.

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Another big change that has been documented over this blog’s lifetime is a major shift in the way we eat after we saw Food Inc.  I’ve journaled through our CSA experiences, mused on the intersection of food and spirituality and the intersection of food and feminism, and even found a way to make a regular spaghetti and meatballs night a spiritual practice.

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An image from the time I discovered Instagram.

 

And, along the way, there were many changes and milestones, big and small. I went from a dog person to someone who definitely favors my cat. I started and quit grad school, because I loved studying literature but realized I don’t actually want to teach it. I witnessed a miracle. We got a scary diagnosis during my pregnancy and disability became a big part of our lives. I gave birth to our twins and almost died.  I struggled with anxietyI stood up for reproductive rights, because even though I have a child with a disability, I’m still pro-choice. We bought a house that might be haunted. I wrote about how my child with a disability is not my hero, went viral, got interviewed on an NPR show, and became a Huffington Post blogger. I claimed my identity as a writer. I gave up antiperspirants and embraced my inner sweaty hippie. I got involved with the American Heart Association.

I feel like we became a family before your eyes.

I feel like we became a family before your eyes.

There are a few things I used to do more of that I don’t so much anymore, and I’d like to get back to. Reviewing movies occasionally was pretty fun. I also used to both read more books and write more about them, be they memoirs like Eat, Pray, Love or literature like The Bluest Eye. I’m actually finally, slowly getting back into making time (and having the concentration) to read, and I’d like to share more about how the things I read change my mind and my life. I want to find the time to do some sewing (this crib skirt tutorial is one of my most popular posts ever). I want to do more exploring with my faith. I want to do more food writing and share more recipes. And I want to encourage more women to own their awesome and love their selfies.

I know this means I have to get better about making time to write regularly, which isn’t always easy. But, looking back at what a GIFT this space has been to me over the last six years, a place to grow and connect and find out that I’m not so alone in this world as I might have once thought, I feel inspired to keep working in this space, keep using this outlet, and keep writing, because I really do think that writing keeps me sane. Thank YOU for reading here, be it just today, or for most of the last six years. Your taking the time to read and connect means more than you can know, and I am so immensely thankful for all the amazing people putting these words out there has brought into my life. I’m so glad my husband encouraged me to start this site six years ago, and I have no plans of quitting it anytime soon.

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not something i wanted to pass on

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’re familiar with the fact that I very nearly died after having my babies and later found out I had a previously undiagnosed heart defect, left ventricle non-compaction syndrome. Further genetic testing revealed that my heart defect was due to a genetic mutation, which led to genetic testing for both Etta and Claire, too. I really really hoped neither one got it, but there was a 50/50 chance they did.

It turns out those odds were exactly right. Etta has the mutation, Claire doesn’t. The good news is, both girls have already had echocardiograms, and we know they don’t have my specific heart defect. But, the mutation can also cause other forms of heart failure, so she will need lots of monitoring to make sure her heart is staying healthy. We see the geneticists later this week, and then we will be referred to cardiology. That’s all we know for now.

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a good nap, spoiled

I probably need to do some self-examination to truly get to the bottom of these feelings, but as the mom of two preschoolers, I cling to the quiet of naptime like a life-preserver. Parenting small people requires every ounce of patience and energy I have, and I begin to run low after a few hours. I need a respite in the middle of the day to gather my reserves and recharge a bit, to refill the patience and energy tanks so that I have more to give in the hours before bedtime. And on days when my kids won’t nap? I feel actual rage. It’s like I can feel them actually stealing MY TIME away from me, and I start to feel desperate– how will I find more patience and energy to last me until bedtime?

I should have known as Etta Jane drifted off in the car on the way home from the daffodil festival that we were borking any chance of an actual nap. But visions of some quiet time on the couch to read danced in my head as we attempted to put both girls down for a nap after their short car snooze. I went back in twice to get them back into bed. I handed them books and begged them to just lay there and be quiet. But eventually it became clear that the nap  rocket was not leaving the launchpad. I pictured my husband going in to work at four. I wondered what I was going to feed us for dinner, something that seems to occupy at least 75% of my brain most of the time. I wondered how in the heck I was going to make it to bedtime on current patience and energy levels. I got mad.

“Why don’t you leave and go somewhere and let me take them?” my sweet husband offered. Blinded by my desperation for the nap time that wasn’t happening, all I could feel was trapped. “Where would I go? There’s nowhere for me to go!”

I heard him telling small people to put their whiny voices away, heard him finding them shoes, and as he led them outside where he had planned to spend naptime working on the garden, I snuck away. I sat on the couch and tried to gather some patience and energy. Small people soon returned demanding snacks, so I fixed them a cheese stick–no, cwackers!–no, the orange ones!–no, the ones she has! I got exasperated and raised my voice to ask them to OH MY GOODNESS JUST SHARE WITH YOUR SISTER THERE ARE PLENTY OF SNACKS, WHY DON’T YOU EVER ACTUALLY WANT THE ORIGINAL THING YOU JUST ASKED ME FOR?

I realized maybe I needed a snack and some quiet time too. I fixed myself some cheese and crackers. I retreated to my bedroom with a book and the cat, who I am worried about lately because he’s been sick, who keeps getting put on the back burner because life is sometimes so very hectic with small non-napping constantly-snacking insanely-picky preschoolers running around.

I ate my snack and read a chapter and enjoyed the fact that the cat is such a quiet, lovely companion. I felt the patience and energy meter start to creep up, just a hair.

Soon a small white-blonde head bobbed in next to my bed. “I sowwy mama. I sowwy I made you mad by not shawing wif my sister.” I melted. “I’m sorry too, baby. I’m sorry I got so mad about the nap and the snack. I love you very much.” I read two more chapters as my little sprites wandered in and out, catching worms with their daddy outside, pausing to come in and try on some of my necklaces, wandering back out again. I appreciated the sound of their stompy little kid feet in the hallway, snuck some kisses on top of soft hair warmed in the spring sunshine. I helped Etta wash her hands and returned to my perch. I helped them find “the widdle bubbles” and then returned to my perch. I got out my laptop and felt moved to write this post, confessing my sins to the page, releasing them as I typed. The brittle edges of my bad mood began to soften. I forgave them for not napping, forgave myself for being tired and impatient. To be a mother, for me, is to have to forgive myself at least seven times a day. Thank heaven grace abounds. I’m still growing, too.