Making an Arkansas Bucket List

Making an Arkansas Bucket List

Last week, my husband flew to Denver to interview for what I can only say would be his dream job. The interview went really well, but the gears of medical academia grind slowly, and we won’t be hearing about a hiring decision until at least November and maybe January, and then if he gets the job, possibly not moving until next summer. This means we’ll be living with a little uncertainty for a while. Rather than focus on the unknown, we’ve decided to live what may be our last year in my home state to the fullest. I want to make an Arkansas Bucket List and focus on enjoying what this place has to offer for as long as we’re here. If we end up not moving, at least we’ll have had a really fun year!

Some of the things I want to do are:

  • Take the girls canoeing on the Buffalo River
  • Road trip for a weekend to Memphis and Oxford MS (I have yet to make a Faulknerian pilgrimage and must do so while we’re so close)
  • Take the girls tent camping for the first time
  • Spend a weekend in a cabin
  • Visit Johnny Cash’s childhood home in Dyess
  • Take the girls to an Arkansas Travelers minor league baseball game
  • Visit the 3 Arkansas BBQ restaurants that made Garden & Gun’s BBQ Bucket List: Craig’s in DeValls Bluff, Jones in Marianna, and McClard’s in my hometown of Hot Springs
  • Take the girls to the State Fair
  • See the fall color in the Ozarks
  • Attend our alma mater, Lyon College’s Scottish Fest
  • Rock out at the Americana concert series at South on Main (tickets to this series were our anniversary gift to ourselves, and I’m super stoked about seeing The Indigo Girls with Patterson Hood in December)
  • Spend a night at The Capital Hotel (maybe for my birthday in December?)
  • See a show at White Water Tavern (We used to live right by it, and I hung out there a lot before kids. Haven’t made it back to my favorite dive in a long while.)
Making an Arkansas Bucket List

The Warhol’s Nature exhibit at Crystal Bridges.

There are a few things that would be on the list, except we’ve already done them recently

  • Visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (the current Warhol exhibit is pretty awesome!)
  • Go boating on Lake Hamilton (my parents live on this lake, so we can go anytime!)
  • Visit Garvan Woodland Gardens
Making an Arkansas Bucket List

Etta’s first Arkansas Travelers game. It’s way past time for us to get back out to a ballgame.

Obviously, there is much more that we could add to this list, and this is where you come in! Got suggestions for things we can’t miss in case we move? Bonus points if they are convenient to Little Rock or little kid friendly!

Making an Arkansas Bucket List

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another season in tornado alley

Earlier this week, meteorologists started predicting a Particularly Dangerous Situation for central Arkansas on Sunday. Maps were generated with a little pink blob right over the piece of the world I call home. We watched erie skies and radar maps, and we did what we do this time every year: thought about where we’d “hunker” if the sirens went off, remembered storms we’ve seen in the past, and waited to see if it was all hype or the real deal. I had a feeling it would be when those crazy people who call themselves storm chasers started rolling into town in homemade tanks.  Continue reading

hillary, oscar, and me

I told Hillary Clinton I love her.

When I met her.

Oh.

Did I forget to mention that I got to meet Hillary Clinton earlier this summer? I forgot to blog about it, but I will never forget it. I love Hillary Clinton. I admire her. I respect her. I hope she’s our next president. And when I found out they were naming our new children’s library after her, and she’d be at the public dedication, I knew I had to go, that I had to introduce her to Etta and Claire. I knew that with two babies in my arms, I’d surely be able to get close enough to meet her. And I did. I reserved us tickets, I saw her speak, and afterward, I walked up to her with two babies in my arms, tapped her on the shoulder, and said, “Hi, I just love you and wanted you to meet my girls Etta and Claire. They’re future running mates!” And she smiled and said, “Thank you so much, they are so cute!”

I still can’t believe I tapped Hillary Clinton on the shoulder. I can kinda believe I told her I love her, though. Because I really do.

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Yesterday I got to hang out at the Clinton Presidential Center with some more folks I love– Jerusalem, Kerri, Kyran, Amy, Jennifer, and Amy, fellow Little Rock bloggers. We were invited to tour the exhibit of Oscar de la Renta’s 50 year career, and were treated to lunch in the Clinton Center’s restaurant 42. I loved it. Not just because I got to leave babies behind and wear a dress I actually ironed, but because I got to check out the work of a true master, in some truly fabulous company.

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I love Hillary Clinton in part because she knows that a woman should be valued for her work, her thoughts, herself, but she also refuses to be ashamed of the fact that she, the first First Lady on the cover of Vogue, cares about fashion, too. She is both the kind of woman who can shut down a reporter for asking her about her clothes, and at the same time, the kind of woman who knows what she likes, sticks with it, and even has a sense of humor about it, calling herself a “pantsuit aficionado” in her (awesome) Twitter bio, jokingly pitching a “Project Pantsuit” spinoff of “Project Runway,” and referred to her campaign as the “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.”

And the man behind most of those pantsuits is Oscar de la Renta. The exhibit, on display until December 1, is a retrospective of the designer’s career, starting with his upbringing in The Domenican Republic, his time in Spain and Paris, and his arrival in the US and establishment as an American Fashion icon. Each period is represented by GORGEOUS examples of his work which shows his varied influences. I don’t get a lot of chances to get up close and personal with couture clothing, and though I’m but a barely proficient seamstress, I found myself studying the details of their construction. I noticed that Oscar de la Renta, who personally oversaw everything down to the paint colors of this exhibit, is a man who cares deeply about the details of his garments, which range from intricately beaded and feathered gowns to impeccably tailored and restrained suits and coats. His clothes are showstoppers, but are clearly about making the woman, not the garment, the focus. I have a feeling this is why women like Secretary Clinton like his work.

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If you’re local, I highly recommend checking out this exhibit before it closes in December. And if fashion isn’t your thing, you’re in luck: they change the exhibits 3-4 times a year. There’s also currently an exhibit about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which I plan to go back and check out soon with my family, and they have an upcoming exhibit about Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs (opening in January). Tickets aren’t expensive, the permanent exhibits are also super interesting, and the building itself is beautiful.

*full disclosure: I was invited to this event, given free entry and a guided tour, and they fed us lunch. I love the Clinton Center and frequently visit with my family, so I wholeheartedly believe it’s worth a visit, free lunch or not.

Ms. Bufflo goes to the capitol

capitol

Image I took on my way inside to testify before the committee, via my Instagram feed.

Today, I spoke before an Arkansas senate committee. Last night I was on the evening news.

Rep. Andy Mayberry is making national headlines by trying to ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation (that’s the halfway mark, FYI). He claims this is because this is the point at which a fetus begins to feel and respond to pain, and he cites some studies, but this is hardly an established fact, and is controversial in the medical community. In the committee today, he testified that 98% of abortions happen before 20 weeks. Why would the minority get such a late abortion? It’s not because they just didn’t get around to it or had a sudden change of heart. Something big happens at 20 weeks. It’s the point in a pregnancy when the “big ultrasound” happens. The one that tells you if you’re carrying a boy or a girl (or two girls, in my case), but also the one that tells you for the first time that there could be something seriously wrong, even life-threatening, with your fetus. I know what it’s like to sit in that ultrasound room and get bad news. Like Andy Mayberry, who also has a daughter with spina bifida, I am fortunate that our news wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My daughter and the Mayberry’s daughter have a condition that is treatable and manageable and won’t stand in the way of a full life. Many parents are not so fortunate. For many parents, that moment in the ultrasound room is what turns a wanted pregnancy into a nightmare of heartbreaking news and difficult choices. Placing an abortion ban at that point in a pregnancy leaves these parents without options right when they need them most. It places a legislature between families and their doctors, right when those families most need compassionate care.

I know some will say that the bill has been amended to include exceptions for the health of the mother, for fetal anomalies, and for rape and incest. But as one of my own doctors testified before another committee, when we’re talking criminality for doctors who provide abortions, how much of threat does there have to be before it’s “enough” to justify an abortion? I have a congenital heart defect and a previous severe cardiac pregnancy complication, but no one can say exactly how risky another pregnancy would be for me. My doctors agree that I should not have more children for the sake of my health, but my condition is very very rare, and there isn’t much data on it, let alone actual odds of my survival. Do you think my doctors are willing to risk jail time and the loss of their career and livelihood on my chances of survival? I don’t. And yet I am not willing to risk leaving my girls motherless, and should my IUD fail (as it could, I personally know people who became pregnant with an IUD), I would not think twice before terminating to protect my own life and stay here to care for the girls who need me.

The bill passed the committee despite my testimony. It will probably pass the Senate. The governor will probably sign it. I fear for the state my girls will grow up in, and I fear for their rights and mine.

For every mother who testified that she’s glad she carried her anencephalic baby to term (that’s a baby with no brain and a damaged skull, with no chance of survival outside the womb), there are mothers thankful they had the opportunity for a post-20-week abortion (essentially an induction of labor), to prevent needless suffering for her and her doomed child. For everyone like Andy Mayberry and me, whose kids will have challenges but lead full and happy lives, there are people who got literally fatal news. For everyone like me who survived pre-eclampsia and peri-partum cardiomyopathy, there are people whose fatal complications developed too early to save themselves and their babies, and were forced to deliver to save their own lives, meanwhile their babies could not be saved. For everyone on the other side who calls themselves a compassionate conservative fighting for life, there is someone like me, literally fighting for her own, asking for compassionate choices when we need them most.

If you’re in Arkansas, please start writing to your senators and the governor and urge them not to let this bill pass. Post 20-week abortions are rare because they only happen in the most dire of circumstances. These people deserve compassion.

skipping seasons

It's porch swing weather. Fetch me a julep.

They say that if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait 5 minutes and it will change. I’m reasonably sure they say this other places too, but we like to pretend we have a lock on weirdly oscillating weather patterns. The reality check, as my mountain man husband likes to remind me, is that places like Denver can have record-setting 84 degree days followed by whiteout snowstorms that cancel Rockies baseball games (true story).

These days it seems Arkansas has decided to skip straight to summer. In the evenings, you can already hear the chorus of cicadas buzzing in the trees (my husband calls them “skeedeedees,” an onomatopoeic word he coined to capture the way they sound, and I love that coinage). As I stood out in the street talking to a neighbor the other night, a mosquito bit my leg. ALREADY. And today, when I was driving down the road, I could see those hazy mirages that form on exceptionally hot asphalt. I glanced at my thermometer and it was 90 degrees.

And while I will absolutely complain about the heat and the humidity and the havoc both wreak on my hair, the truth is, I love me some Southern summer. My Colorado in-laws may melt in this kind of weather, but I’m like my region’s native flowers: gardenias, magnolias, and jasmine. Sure, I may not smell as nice as they do when it’s sweltering out, but this is my kind of climate. If you want to see me wilt, send me where it’s cold. If you want to see me thrive, plant me in some Southern soil. Just look around– Southern ladies are blooming all over in brightly colored skirts and sundresses.

 

Side note: Yes, I know, I sort of dropped off in the middle of the Beatitudes series. It will be back this week, I promise.

i love you cheezeburgherz

What goes better with a great dress than a bag on your head?

I am addicted to the internet. I’m active on Twitter and in the local TweetUp community, I’m a blogger, I’m a prolific blog reader, I’m an active commenter on several major blogs, and I have a long history on message boards.  Sometimes, my husband gives me a hard time about my internet addiction, but lately he’s been forced to change his tune.

Little Rock, Arkansas, while not exactly a major metropolis, is home to an awesome network of bloggers and Tweeps (what we Twitter addicts call fellow Twitterers).  Monthly TweetUps are just the most visible manifestation of an engaged and enthusiastic online community of local folk, sharing their lives 140 characters at a time.  As I’ve written, I connected with the LR online community before we moved out here, and I even used Twitter to find a house (I put the word out about what we were looking for, and it turned out one of my tweeps was moving out of a great house that we subsequently moved into).  But more importantly, I’ve used the local internet community to find My People.

We had/have many wonderful close friends in Charleston, but none of them were “mine.” What I mean is, almost everyone I knew there, I had met through my husband or his work.  I was always, to some degree, Jon’s wife, Sarah, not Sarah, Jon’s wife.  While I wouldn’t trade those friends for anything, after all, we survived the wild and crazy world of residency together, I needed to find My People. I have found them.

This week, I had the pleasure of being invited to a local gathering of fabulous women bloggers.  It’s called CheeseburgHer, and it’s a spinoff of the big BlogHer national conference that just took place this week in New York.  What started as an impromptu gathering there led, a few years hence, to satellite parties in various cities, and Little Rock, with its somewhat-surprisingly active blogging community, was selected to host such an event, largely thanks to the very talented Kyran, who has a BOOK coming out next year, because she’s a rockstar. She knows how to throw a party!

Anyway, I got an Evite encouraging me to come to a swanky downtown address to party on the 18th floor with fellow bloggers, looking fabulous, sipping wine (courtesy of Middle Sister), eating McDonald’s cheeseburgers, and wearing a bag on my head.  I was really excited to go, and as I was telling a friend about my Saturday night plans, my husband kind of ragged on me a bit about it.  I asked why he couldn’t be a bit more supportive, and he said he was just messing around– “after all, no one can knock the awesome community that you’ve found.”

He was right. What an awesome community of talented, funny, fabulous women! I arrived at the swanky address wearing one of my favorite dresses, I hugged “old” (being that I’ve been here, what, a month?) friends and met new ones, and, stereotypes of internet nerds be damned, we clicked!  I had an amazing time, and I laughed my head off.

These were My People. People who feel the urge to share their stories with the Interwebz.  People who know what it means to have friends you’ve never met in person, though you’ve watched videos of their kids and read their life stories.  People who don’t bat an eye if you pull out your camera to document the party, or whip out a smartphone to check in to Gowalla or send out a quick tweet.  While we may be very different– some of us are childless, others are stay-at-home-moms, others are juggling work and home life, some of us are young, and others think some of us are still babies– we all are very much alike in many ways.  Unlike my experience with the Bible study group, where I felt like no one knew me, no one liked me, and no one would like me if they really knew me, I felt at home with this group of women.  It was a raucous, joyous evening, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.  There’s something very powerful about a gathering of women who have a voice and aren’t afraid to use it!

I’ll end with some images of the event:

This one is snatched from the lovely Audreya:

Audreya and I apparently didn't get the kissyface memo. Amy and I think we look like we're clad in Mexican serapes.

Image via Audreya.

At an event full of bloggers, you know we're all trying to document it for a future post!

We had a delightfully tacky cupcake cakewreck to celebrate @amybhole's birthday. It looked like an airbrushed teeshirt from a Gulf Shores vacation, but it was darn tasty!

I think I declared at least 10 times "THIS IS MY JAM!" Here I was demonstrating how I boogie around my house to MGMT, I believe. Image via Audreya.