be the seatmate you want to see in the world

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Last week, I got to go to Las Vegas with a girlfriend who was there for a conference. She attended the conference all day while I read by the pool/wandered around the strip, and then we hung out and saw shows and ate amazing things every night.

To get there, I had to fly Southwest. I know, most people adore Southwest for their reasonable fares and funny staff members and for letting you check a bag for free and for not nickel-and-diming their customers at every opportunity. I have a grudge against them because they don’t assign you a seat, but instead, you get assigned a boarding number based on when you check in, and then it’s like a free-for-all to find a seat. I am so scatterbrained, I never remember to check in on time and thus end up in the crappy, you’re gonna have a middle seat, good luck finding space in the overhead bins group. True story, I once cried on a Southwest flight because I was PREGNANT WITH TWINS and didn’t get to sit next to my husband because we hadn’t remembered to check in on time. I JUST WANT AN ASSIGNED SEAT, DAMMIT.

Anyway, I actually managed to get in the B boarding group for my flight to Vegas, miracle of miracles. I always feel blissfully unencumbered when flying without my kids. It’s like, long security lines? No problem, at least I’m not trying to keep a couple of five year olds happy and in line. You need me to take off my shoes, show you my liquids, maybe even pat me down? Great. At least I’m not also taking off two other people’s shoes and hustling them through the lines. Basically, my good mood when flying without my children cannot be stopped.

As I waited to board, I heard a baby losing his mind. My first thought was “I hope I’m not next to that baby! I’m flying without kids, finally! I *deserve* a quiet, relaxing flight.”

But then I got on the plane to look for a seat, and saw the mom of that baby, flying alone with him and his preschool-aged brother. The aisle seat next to them was open. I didn’t really want to take it, but then a thought popped into my head: “Be the seatmate you want to see in the world.” I think it was inspired by my own airplane angel from a long-ago flight with my kids.

I sat down next to the mom. “Hi! I’ll sit next to you– I have twins, myself.” She smiled, “I didn’t think ANYONE would want to sit with us. Thank you so much!”

The kids did as great as a preschooler and a lap baby can do on a flight, which was also not particularly long, thankfully. The preschooler watched movies on his tablet and occasionally demanded snacks. The baby was wiggly and in need of constant distraction, occasionally emitting a squawk before his mom and I distracted him with something else, but no prolonged crying or anything. Big win? Let the baby play with ice cubes on the tray table. That entertained him the longest.

The mom and I chatted, and I was glad I sat next to them. It felt like sisterhood. Moms need to look out for each other.

We arrived in Vegas, and I left the little family at the end of the jetway, mom competently putting the stroller together and getting her kids settled. She had it handled, so I kept moving, eager to get to my hotel and grab some dinner.

As I reached the end of the jetway, I heard a man scream, “GET THAT FUCKING SCREAMING BABY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” I turned to see a big guy fully decked out in Broncos gear literally yelling at a woman alone with two kids. I stared, mouth agape, as he walked toward and past me.

I wish I had said something like, “Babies can’t help it if they act like a-holes, but what’s your excuse?”

Instead all I could do was stare. Would he have screamed at her if her husband had been with her? Did anyone who witnessed the event say anything to him? Why didn’t the flight attendant who was standing right there say something? Can that guy get like, banned from future flights?

I can only imagine how rattled the mom was, and I wish I had caught up with her to check in. “You OK, sis?” There is no one more stressed and uncomfortable on a flight with small kids than those kids’ parent(s). Here, she had just survived the flight, oh sweet relief, and her kids had actually done as great as you can expect any kids their ages to do, and then she gets screamed at by an intimidating stranger?

I’m still furious with that man.

But in spite of his hatred, I’d like to share the main lesson I learned on that flight: be the seatmate you want to see in the world. Remember the hard times you’ve had, and let them give you compassion towards people dealing with stressful situations, like traveling with small children. Don’t huff. Don’t roll your eyes. Help. At the very least, offer a kind glance and a smile. Pack your earplugs and your noise-cancelling headphones if you must, but remember, while babies don’t have self-control, you do. Exercise it.

Image above via Flickr user fred C under a Creative Commons license.

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look for the helpers

We don’t have a TV in our main living space, and Jon and I almost never watch TV news (when we do, the kids are in bed or not in the room, because we watch in our bedroom usually after bedtime, and it’s because we’re following a breaking event or watching a live speech or something). I figure, they’re 5, and I don’t want to overwhelm them with the problems of the world just yet, especially since Claire tends toward anxiety. We talk about issues and events, but I just don’t want them exposed to wall-to-wall coverage or the sensationalism and graphic imagery so often part of TV news. This wasn’t even a super conscious decision to protect them from TV news, but more a result of my own awareness about my anxiety– I do better reading print/online news than watching it on TV, too. This has been especially true since the election.

I haven’t talked to them about recent natural disasters, but we were eating at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant last night, and they had a Mexican news station on TV. Of course most of the coverage was about the Mexico City earthquake. We had been eating when I noticed a concerned look on Claire’s face. “What is happening? Are those people dead? What happened to that building?” I realized she’d been watching the coverage, taking in the images even if she couldn’t understand the speaking, which to me had been background noise along with the oom-pa-pa mariachi music playing on the radio.

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How to explain an earthquake to my worried child without causing her to develop a fear that one might happen to us? I told her there was an earthquake in Mexico City, and that a lot of buildings fell down when the ground shook. “Did people die?” Yes, some people died, but a lot of people are still alive in the rubble, and the people they are showing right now are the helpers. They are digging the people out and saving them. So many people will be helpers after something terrible like this happens, and we’re so thankful for the helpers.

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I don’t know if I got it right, but my general parenting philosophy is that following the advice of Mr. Rogers can never be wrong. He said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

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I don’t watch the news because it feels like the end of the world lately: earthquakes, hurricanes, shootings, nuclear war, and an evil man in charge of our country. I need to look for the helpers, too. I need to protect my children and myself, and I also need to help the helpers.

Some organizations we like to support include World Vision, Doctors Without Borders, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.  Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments. I’d also love to know if you protect your kids from TV news, and what age you think is appropriate for them to be exposed to it.

quickie skincare review: the ordinary’s new silicone-based vitamin c serum

The Ordinary Vitamin C 30% in Silicone skincare review | erniebufflo.comIn my first post about The Ordinary’s skincare products, I mentioned that I wasn’t a big fan of the Vitamin C serum I tried, because I found it gritty, prone to pilling, and irritating to my face. Recently, they introduced several new products, one of which was a Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone. I read somewhere that it solved the grittiness, so I thought I’d try it, especially since it’s only $6.80 and I needed to restock on Buffet and Advanced Retinoid anyway.

At first I was excited because indeed, there is zero grittiness. Thanks to the silicone, it also works WONDERFULLY under makeup. Many makeup primers are silicone-based because silicone smoothes out the skin and leaves a nice surface on which to apply makeup. I felt that this product kind of filled in lines and pores and made my face look very smooth.

The packaging warns of a possible “very strong tingling,” and indeed, I thought it stung my face. Worst of all, though, is I think the silicone and my face don’t get along. I’ve discontinued using the product (which I used for about 2 weeks) after breaking out on my chin and forehead.

I guess my search for a Vitamin C product that uses L-Ascorbic Acid and doesn’t make me break out, sting, or cost an arm and a leg continues. (I love my Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum, but it uses a different form of Vitamin C, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, that isn’t supposed to be quite as effective as L-Ascorbic Acid. Unfortunately, it’s hard to stabilize L-Ascorbic Acid, so finding a great formula at a good price has proven tricky.)

Just because this product wasn’t for me doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out. If you’re someone who already successfully uses silicone-based products, like in a makeup primer, you might really like this product for under makeup and to get the glow-inducing treatment (and boosted performance of your SPF) of the Vitamin C.

Note: I purchased and reviewed this product on my own. This is not a sponsored post in any way. Also, as with all skincare posts, everyone’s skin is different, and your mileage may vary.

thoughts on “the nashville statement”

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I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I was blessed to be raised to know that I am a beloved child of God by so many wonderful people in Methodist and Presbyterian churches. It wasn’t until I got to high school that someone asked me if I was “saved,” and I found out that to a lot of Christians, I’m apparently some kind of heathen. Uh, I never “met Jesus” because Jesus has always been there? I can’t meet Him any more than I can meet my own heartbeat. I got saved 2,000 years ago, I guess? I grew up in a tradition with women pastors, now a tradition which allows LGBTQI people to serve as pastors and be married in church. My church is officially a “More Light” Presbyterian church, committed to pursuing justice and full inclusion for marginalized people and examining ourselves and our space to make sure we are on the right track.

I understand that Evangelicals are my brothers and sisters in faith (though I’m not always sure they feel the same way about me), but a lot of the time I find myself wondering if we actually read the same book and know the same Lord. We come from very different planets. And they’re the ones who keep adding doctrinal statements as if they were new creeds, as if sexuality is an essential tenet of the faith to agree upon (look at any of the historical creeds and see if it comes up…it doesn’t), instead of a place where people of faith can agree to disagree. This week, I’m again baffled as in the middle of all that is going on in the world. a bunch of Evangelical leaders have gotten together to condemn some of the most marginalized people in the world: LGBTQI folks.

This week?! When millions of people are underwater, when Nazis march in our streets with the approval of the president white Evangelicals elected, when nuclear war seems a realistic threat? This is a week when Christians should be showing people the face of Jesus, and instead this group has decided to turn Christ’s back (they presume to speak for Him) on LGBTQI people. We should be making the news for our compassion, love, and service to the people suffering the devastation of hurricane Harvey. We should be making the news for our condemnation of white supremacy and our bold proclamation that we are all one in Christ Jesus, all beloved children of God. We should be making the news by proclaiming our allegiance to the Prince of Peace in the face of violence and war.

But instead, we’re making the news for once again announcing what everyone already knew about Evangelicals: they are not down with The Gays (or lesbians, or gender nonconforming/nonbinary/genderqueer people, or trans folks, or people who are intersex, or women who question their idea of Biblical gender roles). Did anyone actually have any doubts that they believe that? Did we really need a new reminder?

I find myself wanting to scream: this is not my faith! This is not the Jesus I know, love, and follow! This is not my tradition.

But I know that this isn’t actually about me, but about the vulnerable people who will continue to be hurt by this kind of theology and rhetoric. The gay kids kicked out of their homes to live on the street by “Christian” parents. The kids sent to (or desperate adults who choose) conversion therapy to have spirit and self-concept broken in the name of God. The people who will be driven to suicide because they feel that not even God can love them as they are. The people who will be ostracized and bullied by people who claim to follow Jesus. These aren’t thought experiments, but very real people who will experience very real pain and violence because words and theologies have consequences.

If you are LGBTQI, the thing I want you to know more than anything is: you are a beloved child of God. You are made in God’s image. You are the creation of a God who loves diversity and difference. You are a work of art. You do not need to change who you are in order to be loved by God, or to serve God, or to belong to a community of believers. You are worthy and acceptable. Period.

I also want you to know that there are millions of us who love Jesus and you, too. Who would welcome you next to us in our pews, who would bless and support your loves, and who would be proud to serve and change the world alongside you. You are welcome in our homes and hearts. You are welcome at our tables. You are welcome in our workplaces. You are welcome in the bathroom stall next to us. We are your brothers and sisters, and there are actually a lot of us that the Evangelicals and Nashville Statement writers do not speak for. We will speak out with you against hate and discrimination and oppression. We will examine the ways we are complicit in your marginalization. We will check our privilege. We will work to make our spaces and our society ever more welcoming. We are with you and for you, and so is Jesus.

the moment we realized just how “normal” our daughter’s disability has become to us

Today I took Etta to get her second filling in 5 short years of life. This is hard for me, because I didn’t get my first cavity until I was like 28. (I’m blaming pregnancy for ruining my perfect record. It’s a thing.) Anyway, we’re pretty into good oral health and hygiene, and with her first filling, I felt like a failure for letting it happen.

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Our new dentist here in Denver is awesome, and she said it looks like Etta just doesn’t have good enamel (something about her teeth being hypoplastic?), that it didn’t form right on her baby teeth, and leads to grooves and weaknesses where cavities can form, despite our good oral hygiene. The good news is, on X-rays, her permanent teeth look better, but we may be spending a lot of time at the dentist for these baby teeth.

After we left the dentist, my husband said to me, “Man, Etta sure got the short end of the genetic stick.”

It was only a beat later that I realized how absurd that comment sounds. I mean, we have one kid with spina bifida, but here we are agreeing that it’s actually the “healthy” twin who lost the genetic lottery. And it’s actually kind of true! Etta’s the short, tiny one (finding school uniforms to fit a 3-year-old-sized Kindergartener was a struggle). Etta inherited my cardiac mutation. And now it turns out that she got crappy teeth?

Meanwhile Claire’s differences have just become normal to us, and normal to her as well. Strapping on AFOs, using catheters, scheduling doctor’s appointments and therapies, monitoring for signs of shunt malfunction, wondering if she’s getting a cold or a UTI, they’re just part of our life.

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And remembering how we felt on diagnosis day, or when we came home from the hospital, I realize how huge this mundane life actually is. What at first seemed insurmountable and life-shattering, turns out to just be another way of being a person in the world. Aren’t we all just adapting and trying to use the bodies we were given to the best of our capabilities? Don’t we all sometimes need extra help in certain areas?

So, in case you’re a parent or person who just got a big scary diagnosis, I hope you can read this and take a little comfort in knowing that one day, it may very well all seem very very normal. Just part of life. Not a tragedy at all.

Here we are today, thinking just maybe it’s our able-bodied daughter who got the bum end of the twin genetics dice roll. What an amazing thing.

to kindergarten they go

Today, Etta and Claire headed off to kindergarten, two tiny girls with giant backpacks. This year, they will be in different classrooms, but they will be right across the hall from each other, and will have recess and lunch together.

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There’s another set of twins in kindergarten this year, two boys, whose blond hair seems to have a counterpoint in each of our girls. They are both in Claire’s class. Their mom, and many others, asked me if I chose to keep the girls together or apart. The truth is, we saw a lot of benefits in both options and decided to let the school handle it. They’ve done great together at Montessori, and all of their teachers there remarked on how they are neither clingy or dependent on each other, nor antagonistic and fighting– they just kind of coexisted like any other two kids in the same class. They are also very different little humans, though, and I think being on their own could give them each a chance to shine and grow in a way they can’t together, and I’m excited to see how this will go. We’ve been reading a great little book called Twindergarten about a set of twins who are in different kindergarten classes, right across the hall from each other, but who are together for recess and lunch, and it’s really helped them prepare for this change.

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I realized at Back To School Night that I’m mostly just excited for them as they embark on this big journey. Their teachers had big sheets of paper on the wall where we answered questions like what we are most proud of about our children, what they are curious about, what they like to read about, etc. To me, the most interesting question was what our hopes and dreams are for our children in their kindergarten year.

I want this to be the year they fall in love with learning and school. I want them to be, like I was, excited to learn and to be with friends. I am excited to watch them learn to read and have the world of books unfold for them, a world that has always been my happiest and safest place. But most of all, I hope they continue to grow and stretch their kind and loving hearts. “Brave” and “kind” are much higher on my list of desirable traits than “smart” or “successful.”

I mostly don’t feel sadness that my “babies are growing up.” I am so thrilled to see them becoming who they are. I am so excited for the adventures that await them. I woke up before my alarm, just buzzing with excitement. I can’t wait to pick them up (about to head out on our bikes to get them!) and hear how their day went!

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Summery Pasta Salad with Bush’s Best Chickpeas

This post is sponsored by Bush’s Best Beans in conjunction with The Women Bloggers. I am proud to partner with them in sharing this post because Bush’s is a brand that I love and use to feed my family and friends. As always, all content and opinions are mine. Check out #MyBestWithBushBeans for more great bean recipes.
Summery Pasta Salad with Bush's Best Chickpeas | erniebufflo.com
One of my favorite things to throw together for a last minute gathering or picnic is a pasta salad. I almost always have dried pasta and canned beans in my pantry, and I add whatever veggies, meats, cheeses, and herbs I have on hand. The result is almost always delicious and colorful, and when friends and family try it, they always ask for the recipe. That’s when I’m forced to admit I never really had one, I just threw a bunch of stuff together that I thought would work.

Summery Pasta Salad with Bush's Best Chickpeas | erniebufflo.com

Canned beans are a staple of my pantry, and come in handy for throwing together summer salads and meatless meals.

That’s how this Summery Pasta Salad with Bush’s Best Chickpeas got its start. We decided to take a last-minute day-trip to the mountains with my family and my sister and her husband, and I needed to pack up a quick lunch. Peeking in my fridge, I found cherry tomatoes, a couple odd ears of corn, and some cubed pancetta. I knew these ingredients would work great in a pasta salad with the Bush’s Best Beans I bought at Walmart, and a delicious salad was born. We all practically licked the bowl clean. That’s when I knew this thrown-together summer salad was a keeper, and I decided to recreate it and share the recipe here.

Summery Pasta Salad with Bush's Best Chickpeas | erniebufflo.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pasta such as bowtie, rotini, or penne
  • 4 oz. cubed pancetta (you can sub chopped thick-cut bacon here if you can’t find pancetta)
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut from cob (canned corn would also work, and is a great pantry staple)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (or spice blend of your choice, lemon pepper would also be great here)
  • 1 can Bush’s Best Chickpeas, rinsed and drained (If chickpeas aren’t your jam, Bush’s Best Cannellini Beans would also be a great choice here.)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz. ciliegine mozzarella (These are little balls of fresh mozzarella the size of grape tomatoes, usually in a tub of brine. You could also use 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut into bite-sized pieces.)
  • Handful fresh basil, sliced thinly
  • Zest and juice of one large or two small lemons
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil (or salad oil of your choice, like avocado or grapeseed)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, and don’t forget to generously salt your pasta cooking water.
  2. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook your cubed pancetta (or bacon), stirring occasionally until it starts to render its fat and brown slightly.
  3. Add corn and green onion to skillet with pancetta and season with 1 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (or spice blend of your choice). Cook, stirring occasionally until the corn and onions start to brown.
  4. Add Bush’s Best Chickpeas to skillet with pancetta, corn, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally about one minute more.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and set aside to cool.
  6. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Normally, you don’t want to rinse your pasta, but it’s necessary for a pasta salad.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the cooled corn/pancetta/chickpea mix with pasta and all remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and your spice mix to taste.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

This dish is not just good for gatherings and picnics, either. I like to make a big batch of pasta salad at the beginning of the week for my kids and I to enjoy for lunch. Pasta salads also pack great, and I sent this salad with my kids to day camp. The dishes returned empty!

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Got any great summer pasta salads that you frequently throw together with pantry staples? Please share them in the comments!

And in the spirit of sharing, here are a few of our other tried-and-true, favorite recipes that make great use of Bush’s Best Beans:

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