the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


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my muffin top is all that

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I hope you now have that song from 30 Rock stuck in your head. I know I sure do.

After a tweet about my new favorite pants got a lot of responses on Twitter, I knew I needed to write this post.

Real talk: I may have “lost all the baby weight” but after growing and birthing twins, my midsection is just not the same. Continue reading


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no words

Maria II.

I find myself unable to write much of anything right now. On Sunday at church, the sermon focused on Romans 8:26: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Our pastor accompanied this lesson with a slideshow that could have come from within my own mind– Ebola, Gaza, Ukraine, ISIS, Robin Williams, Mike Brown, Ferguson. In a world that seems to have gone wrong, it’s hard to find the words to pray, the words to describe how we feel, the words to articulate what needs to be done. My last post was about dealing with darkness, but at times there just seems to be so much of it, not just in my own soul, but in the world.

I take some comfort in Romans 8:26. I also take comfort in the words of others who describe things outside of my experience in ways too powerful for me to ignore or deny, who break into my privileged world and open my eyes and leave me groaning for change. It feels silly to write my usual parenting stuff in the face of these last few weeks in the world. It feels silly to try and take on global issues on which I have no experience or expertise, either.

Instead I groan. I pray. I read folks like Stacia L. Brown and Ta Nehisi Coates. I am glued to Twitter, breathing prayers for the protesters each night in Ferguson. I encourage everyone I know to know their rights. I try to find small ways to help. But I have no words.

 

The image used above is via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


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the light and the dark

orsbornpicLike a lot of people who have spent their lives loving his work, I’ve been pretty sad about Robin Williams’ death. He was just a bright light in the world, and now that he’s gone, things seem a little dimmer. He will be missed.

I’m glad that his tragic suicide is being used to shed some light on the very real problems of depression and suicide. It’s not enough to replace his light, but it’s something.

I have been concerned by some of the rhetoric I’ve seen though, even in well-meaning statements. Mental illness is an illness. It’s one that others often don’t know about, because of things like stigma that keep people from reaching out. But it’s an illness, same as any other chronic condition– with something like diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t work right. With mental illness, it’s your brain. You can’t cure any chronic disease just by “knowing how loved” you are. Or by “knowing God.” Or by “choosing joy.”

I know. While I haven’t struggled with suicidal thoughts, I do know what it means to have my thoughts taken over by the darkness. Ever since my  near-death experience and subsequent diagnosis with a congenital heart defect, I’ve felt the presence of the darkness in my life. For me, the darkness is more anxiety than depression. For me, rather than seeming welcoming or like a relief, death feels like the enemy. An enemy that creeps into my thoughts and sends me into a panic attack in the middle of the night, terrified about the reality that one day I will die, perhaps sooner than I’d like. While I can’t say that I know what it feels like to be in such pain that death seems like an answer, I do know what it feels like to feel out of control of my own mind.

And for me, that feeling of being unable to control or push back the darkness is actually heightened by knowing how loved I am, by how much I love my family and friends, by how much I really do love life, by how much I love God, and by how much joy I experience day to day. The darkness is crafty. The darkness thrives on juxtaposition. The darkness can show up in my most beautiful moments, like when I’m smelling my babies’ hair as they drift to sleep in my arms, and remind me that if my heart failed again, there would be no more of these moments.

I really loved this essay about how a lie that depression tells is that everyone feels that way. You think it’s normal, so you don’t get help. I did the same. I thought, “Well, OF COURSE you feel this way– anyone would be a little freaked out about dying after coming so close to it! Plenty of people get kind of morbid once they are diagnosed with a chronic health issue!” But eventually I came to realize that no, not everyone finds their thoughts spiraling toward panicking about dying every time they realize they’re happy. Not everyone spends time every single day worrying about their death. Not everyone lies panicking in their bed, clutching their pounding chest, wondering if their heart is going to last them into old age, or long enough to see their children grow up.

I finally realized that what was happening to me, what still happens to me, isn’t normal. I started talking to people about it. I even talked to my doctor about it. If you’re struggling with darkness, know that it isn’t normal. Know that it can happen to you no matter how much you love or are loved, no matter how much you believe, no matter how much joy you have in your life. If you’re struggling, seek help. Talk to someone close to you. Or your doctor. Or someone on a suicide hotline.

And for those of you not struggling, you need to think about how you talk ABOUT these struggles, this darkness. Please don’t pass on platitudes about how if only people like Robin Williams knew how loved they were, or believed in your religion, or had more joy in their lives. You can be loved, love, have faith, and know joy and still be depressed or suffer from anxiety.  If you wouldn’t say it about someone’s heart defect, don’t say it about their mental illness, either.


knowing yourself

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“Night night.”

Anyone who’s hung out with Etta knows what those words mean. She is D-O-N-E. When she comes over to me, wherever we are– zoo, story time, splash pad– and says “mama, night night,” I pack it in and we jet. Because apparently, my tiny tot knows herself well, and she lets me know when she’s reached the point of needing to get home and get to bed for a nap ASAP. Continue reading


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living up to my name?

For fun, here's a picture of me in freshman year of college, with my friends, posing on my roommate's hot pink faux fur rug.

For fun, here’s a picture of me in freshman year of college, with my friends, posing on my roommate’s hot pink faux fur rug.

True story: my maiden name, now my middle, is Sweatt. People would always try to pronounce it “sweet,” but it’s sweat with an extra “t.” Back in my slightly-high-on-life, slightly-hyperactive teen years, I made quite an impression on my freshman dorm hallmates when I introduced myself to the group, “I’m Sarah Sweatt, and boy is it true today!” And it was, as we were all sweaty after lugging all our worldly possessions up the stairs and into our dorm rooms with our new best friends and frenemies. (My freshman roommate was more of a frenemy, since she was essentially nocturnal, owned faux fur EVERYTHING, and had a weird redneck boyfriend who never left and never wore a shirt. She liked to listen to Jock Jamz. She had an illegal hamster living in one of her dresser drawers. And, since she rarely went to class, didn’t last past the first semester.)

I may not just be Sarah Sweatt anymore, but ever since I went on some serious medicines for my heart defect, I’ve noticed an unpleasant side-effect: lots of sweating. Continue reading


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feeling the love

Yesterday afternoon, something I’ve waited actual years for happened:

My child said “I love you, mama.”

Claire faces

This beautiful funny girl with these adorable curls LOVES ME! How lucky am I?!

Etta and I had just picked up Claire from preschool, and we were driving to the gas station when she looked up from her snack (peanut butter cookies), caught my eye in the rearview mirror, and said, “I love you, mama.” Pure. Magic. I tell her I love her all the time. I sing her a little song that goes, basically, “I love my Bear Bear, my Bear Bear loves me.” But I’ve never coached her to put those words together, wanting it to be truly her idea when she finally said it. And then she did. And I melted into a puddle and seeped onto the floor and still somehow managed to type a blog post.

I know it will be a while yet before my Etta girl puts those magical words together, as she’s been on her own little path, speech-wise and has only just recently started putting words together into phrases. Some notable Etta utterances lately: “Uh oh, I broke it” (her perfect first sentence), “Trolley, where are you?”, “My hands are dirty,” and “Otter, come here.”

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I just love the things they say, and I’m high on the love from my Claire Bear, especially.

I’m also feeling the love because my husband and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary on the 29th and are headed out of town this weekend for a little getaway road trip, just the two of us. My bags are packed, and I am so excited to get to have this time together. I’m feeling the love all the way around. I just love this little family of mine.

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A little thing changing my life: cold brew coffee

cold brew tutorial

I love watching the almond milk swirl into my afternoon iced coffee.

I take a really high dose of a heart med that at even 1/4 of what I take, makes people feel really really fatigued and lethargic. And I have two toddlers. Thank GOD no one has ever told me to cut out caffeine, because I need it to live and care for two toddlers. I usually have a cup of hot coffee in the morning and a big ass iced coffee in the late afternoon to help me survive til bedtime. This summer, I have picked up a new coffee habit that has changed my life, no lie.

I started cold brewing coffee.

I realize this sounds like fancy hipster crap, and you’re already thinking I’m about to bombard you with some new, difficult, pretentious coffee thing. But this is like, the lazy passive way to get delicious coffee-shop-esque iced lattes. You literally do it in your sleep.

What you need:

  • a French Press, ideally, but otherwise, a large jar or pitcher would work
  • If you don’t have a French Press, you’re going to need a fine mesh strainer
  • Coarse ground coffee, but if you don’t have a grinder, you can use ground coffee, just make sure you REALLY have a fine mesh strainer
  • cold water
  • time

Method: in your press or jar, put half a cup of ground coffee, and then fill with cold water. (If your press is a different size than mine, your ratio might differ– mine holds about 32 oz. of liquid.) Stir. Leave on your counter overnight. In the morning press it and pour it into a jar, through a strainer if necessary to catch any grounds. Keep the jar of fresh cold-brewed coffee concentrate in your fridge.

The resulting brew is going to be super concentrated. I like to dilute it 50/50 with either almond or coconut milk, over ice. If you use vanilla almond milk, you will want to kiss yourself. A note: because you’re likely going to want to mix this with some sort of milk-substance, it’s not super crucial to have super high quality beans, since you’ll not be noticing many subtle nuances of flavor. HOWEVER, I would like to plug our favorite coffee source, Leiva’s Coffee, which is a Little Rock company selling delicious Guatemalan coffee and committed to reinvesting in the community where the beans are grown. Hot or cold, I promise you’ll like their coffee. And they’re not paying me to say that, I’m just a fan. They will even ship it right to your door– that’s how we get our 2 lbs. a month.

Bam. Coffee shop worthy iced coffee, at home. It just might change your life.

 

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