Bikini Body Revisited

I’m doing it again! Bikinis.

Yep, those scars are mine. My proof of life, of survival, of being beautifully human. And I refuse to hide them.

That’s right, no one-pieces for me. Not even when Endometriosis bloats my belly or when decades-old internal monologues pelt me with insults. But why?

Am I doing to to get attention? Am I doing it to show off my physique? Am I doing it to keep my diet in check? Nope. I’m doing it for my children.

I had four abdominal surgeries, three close-in-age children, breastfed my three offspring well beyond their first year, pumped breastmilk for donation that fed 30 other babies… this body has WORKED. This body has lived and struggled. This body has scars and strength, imperfections and curves, wrinkles and stories. This body deserves not to be hidden under sweaty layers of sandy lycra or regarded as “unworthy.” If it is a divine creation, it should be treated as such, with joyful celebration.

My children — my sons and my daughter — deserve to know that this is the body of a 36-year-old mom of three. That scars are not to be hidden but to be worn as badges of honor, because they mean I survived. That stretch marks are indicators of growth and life. That what makes us different makes us beautiful. That we shouldn’t hide ourselves out of fear of judgment and certainly never out of shame.

My children deserve to know that they should be proud of their own bodies and their own uniqueness. That they should accept others’ individual forms with loving appreciation. Because one day my children will have scars and stretch marks and individualities on their bodies. Because my children will encounter others with their own visible stories. Because one day they may love others whose bodies are different from their own, in one way or another. And I never want my children to regard those sacred memorials of life with anything other than love.

And as much as I’d love to communicate this message to my children from the flaw-hiding comfort of a perfectly ruched one-piece, how can I possibly effectively communicate this message of body acceptance if I am hiding my own frame? If I don’t demonstrate this, live this, and embody this, I cannot expect my children to love themselves and others without aesthetic prejudice. And, so, I must live it unabashedly myself. I must be an example. In a bikini.

When Memorial Day rolled around and Endometriosis had bloated my belly and winter stolen my tan, I truly wanted to reneg on my own self-imposed rule. Just for this summer. But I couldn’t. My children deserved better. I could do better. I had to be better.

So I put on my bikini and my smile. I ran and played and dug in the sun-warmed sand. And it was wonderful.

I wear a bikini because I want my children to see that THIS is a human body, a mother’s body, a real body. That THIS body, too, is beautiful. That THIS body is worthy of being shown and honored not in spite of, but because of, its imperfections.

Summer’s Here: Out-the-Door Organization

Summer is here! Trade backpacks for pool bags, school shoes for sandals. Here’s how you can swap your mudroom door organization from school daze to summer cinch in a snap.

Remember how we transformed the back of a door into an easy exit station for back-to-school (project details here)? Do a few switches to transform those same hooks for the summer season of pools and splash pads, playgrounds and playdates.


School Daze


Summer Cinch

Swap backpacks for pool bags. I got these kid-friendly sacks in Target’s deal bins. Each kid has their own, which contains a towel, goggles, flip-flops, a flotation device (if needed), and pool toys with our surname written on them in permanent marker. Bonus: less for me to wrangle as anything in their bag is their responsibility!

Switch the school shoes with bump toe athletic sandals (we love the Osh Kosh brand as they’ve lasted us just as long as the KEEN varieties but at half the cost, especially if you scout deals on Amazon or Zulily.) Toe coverage, sole grip, safe for water, easy on and off, and — as any laundry overloaded parent who’d love to minimize their house exiting routine by even one article of clothing can celebrate — NO SOCKS REQUIRED! From hiking to errands, biking riding to creek splashing, playgrounds to splash pads, these are a win.

Hang your own pool bag where gym shoes once rested, and you’re set! What’s in my pool bag? Sunscreens, bug spray, two towels (because one of my minions inevitably steals mine and gets it inexplicably drenched), lip balm, cheap sunglasses (the only kind I buy since I shred or lose mine by summer’s end and I just can’t handle even the tiniest scratch on a lens), water, and snacks for the kids.

Helpful additions: 1) Adhere one hook per person beside the door for winter coats or spring jackets, as I did. Just use the same damage-free hooks utilized for the rest of the project. 2) Heavy backpack? I swapped my eldest’s backpack hook with a heavy duty option. 3) Hang up the foldable stool using a damage-free hook.

Summer just got a little easier. Go soak it in!


Spring Break Snippets

This Spring Break we made a trip to a local beach. I grew up vacationing there, so sharing the experience with my children is priceless. Seeing my kids frolic in the same waves, scamper on the same sand, and skip through the same little town I once did is heartwarming. Hearing them say they have the same warm adoration for that little oasis that I do makes my heart swell.

However, any parent who has traveled with children knows that a vacation is not a “vacation” anymore once there are small children involved. Fun? Memorable? Filled with laughter? Yes! Relaxing? Leisurely? Calm? Hahahaha… no.

That is why grabbing hold of blessed bits of beauty and rare fleeting moments of silence amidst the relocated (and at times amplified) chaos is a practice in gratitude and sanity. Here were some of my precious excerpts.


Breastfeeding my toddler seaside. A rare sweet nursing moment amidst the gymnurstics stage.


Two whole minutes of blissful silence. Thanks to two kids on Kindles and one kid taking a brief nap. It was short but delightful.


The excitement upon cresting the dune onto the beach and seeing a gorgeous day ahead.


We reconnected with beach friends we’d made years ago. Seeing the kids fall right back into their playful rhythm as we chatted happily was heartwarming. I adored my childhood beach friends. Now my children are beginning to experience that loveliness.

10 Things NOT to Pack for a Family Beach Trip

As a first-time-mom, packing for my child’s first trip to the beach, I overpacked. I packed for the 7-day getaway the way Imelda Marcos did seasonal shoe-shopping. Nearly 5 years and two additonal kids later, these are the top 10 things I have learned not to bother packing when going on a week-long beach vacation.

1) Changing pads: why did I think my little snowflake could only have her diaper changed on a changing pad? Why did I think a towel would not suffice? Ditch the changing pad… your little petunia will do just fine having her drawers freshened on a towel.

2) Numerous perfectly coordinated outfits: 3 to 4 outfits should suit baby, in addition to a few swimsuits and a couple pajamas. You’ll be doing laundry every day anyway, so there will be quick laundry turnaround.

3) Diapers and wipes: just buy them there or ship some via Amazon to your location. Do pack a few in the car for the drive there, of course

4) Magazines/books: there will be no poolside lounging or beachfront lazing. Don’t kid yourself (see #10.)

6) A beach blanket: your child will be a sand-coated land beast within 15 minutes of your toes touching the dunes. You could choose to either accept your sandy fate or spend your entire beachside outing dusting, clearing, and securing a destined-to-be-gritty beach blanket. Bring some foldable beach chairs for brief sitting stints but, otherwise, don’t be a diva: become one with the sand. (See this post for sand removal tips.) Note: If you have a newborn, stick to a foldable beach tent with a standable stroller fan tucked inside, and a baby carrier to contain your little nugget.

6) Pricey beach toys: any toy on which you spent more than $1.50 or which requires multiple pieces to remain intact to be functional, should be reconsidered. Beach toys get lost, broken, and/or stolen by the ocean. Keep it simple… and cheap.

7) Motherhood-unfriendly attire: that strapless one-piece that baby can pull down faster than you can sneeze? Those dangling earrings that just scream “yank me”? Those shorts you tug on every few steps? Forget about them. Save suitcase space for a pair of beach flip flops, a pair of functional-but-cute sandals, close-toed shoes you could wear on a mulched playground, a couple pairs of shorts, underwear that doesn’t ride up your nethers, a few kid-friendly swimsuits, a zip-up swim cover-up, and a few tops or (if you’re nursing) a handful of nursing tanks. If you’re feeling extra hopeful, throw in a sundress just in case you maybe go somewhere that doesn’t ask if you want crayons with your menu.

8) Hygiene items: just buy them there and save yourself some packing drama. You’re going to have to do a grocery run upon arrival anyway. The adults and kids can share the same shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, bodywash, and moisturizer for one trip. Go simple, scent-free, and gentle to keep everyone’s skin (and eyes) happy.

9) The hope to sleep in: maybe — just maybe — your child will be the glimmering, rainbow-farting unicorn of an infant who actually sleeps better on vacation. That’s a big “maybe.” A better bet would be to accept some adjustment roughness for the first night or two. It’s survivable, especially if you anticipate it.

10) The expectation for relaxation: enter into this expedition knowing you will be on your feet most of the time. Any reprieve will be a bonus. Don’t fight it; just accept it. You’ll be happier in the end. Think of it as quality time with your kid(s) with built-in exercise!

Family vacations are memory-making, calorie-shredding, laughter-breeding, utterly exhausting experiences. You will simultaneously love and loathe the trip, and you won’t be alone wading through that emotional juxtaposition. All of us vacationing parents feel it too. Appreciate all you can, commit every magic moment to memory, and let the unsavory wash away with the tide.

Soak it in!