Monday, August 12, 2013


(Written months ago ...)

I wondered if there might come a point at which this ache might pour itself out in words. I doubt now is the ideal moment. I have a three year old on the computer and a one year old stacking strawberry pieces on the top of his sippy cup. We've just finished lunch and there's only twelve minutes till the first one heads up for naptime. Not exactly great writing conditions.

The piano music playing in the background slows my day and turns my mind inward. Reflection, it's called. A part of grief and mourning. When sadness overtakes your day unexpectedly. How many times did I assure those who gently inquired on Sunday that I am doing fine? It doesn't even seem right that they would ask me that. I only spent a little time with Abby. Two days and a handful of hours. In all of her thirteen years. Honestly I can't really miss her much because I didn't really know her. What overwhelms me, then, is the deep, hard ache for her parents. And it is deep. 

It has been three weeks now since my dad called at 8 something in the morning. "Steve and Kileina's oldest daughter was killed last night in a 4 wheeler accident." The tears came before we'd even hung up and I spent the rest of the day hoping he was wrong. I scoured facebook and the local newspapers online for some scrap of information. By the evening, though, I knew it was true. And I knew I would be in that church for the funeral no matter what it took to get me there. Dazed and distracted, I patched together childcare for Brenna, Daniel, and Carrie during the hours Michael had commitments. Then early Friday morning, Ben and I climbed in to the back of my parent's minivan and began the long ride to Ohio. 

What followed were two painful days of anxiety, crying, hugging, worrying, more crying, talking, and family. Steve is related to my mom and is also friends with my dad's whole family. Those two days are still too precious, and even sacred, to write about, but I will never forget the sorrow in Steve's sobbing embrace. 

Even today as I think back, tears come quickly to my eyes. I feel anxiety and tension across my shoulders. Not because I need hugs or sympathy. But because I want to offer that to Steve and Kileina. I want to be able to sit in their living room with them after the kids are in bed and just talk. Talk about what happened, what they miss, how they are doing. Talk about the stories that have been shared with them, the cost of this tragedy, and how they are managing financially. I want to bring dinner over so Kileina doesn't have to think about that for one night. Or maybe two or three. I want to take over four or five boxes of tissues for their many tears and runny noses. I want to stay down at the house with their younger kids so they can sit up on the hill while the sun sets and remember Abby. I want to take flowers to Abby's grave so they will see them and know that I am thinking of her too. I want our families to do something together that brings smiles and a little happiness, even in the midst of all of this grief. 

But I live 400 miles away. And I am not free to go. The world keeps turning and I know it does for them too. Others will have the honor of walking this painful valley with them. Never, though, will I forget sweet Abby, who only got to live 13 years and who now walks with Jesus in Heaven forever. 


I am so troubled by what I have been learning over the last few weeks. Or really the last few years, if you include all the whole grain stuff. Since the beginning of July, when I finally realized my kids have a sensitivity to food dyes, I have been devouring with a vengeance books and websites that address these topics. I am appalled. I am (a little) scared. I am mad. I am furious. And I'm sickened. Probably literally, if some of these people are right.

When I found out about whole grain flour and what is milled out of it in order to prolong the shelf life, I couldn't continue to feed my family anything less than the entire wheat kernel. I bought a mill and later a powerful mixer so I could make my own all-inclusive flour and know that my kids were getting every mineral and nutrient that grew in that grain of wheat. We are decidedly healthier for that decision. Our biggest success story is the disappearance of Michael's eczema. No more steroids. No more allergist visits. Very few Benedryl pills.

When I started researching the food dye issue at the beginning of this month, I did not realize how interconnected that information would be with so many other, and more common, problems that are prevalent today. Things like peanut allergies, asthma, and genetically modified foods. Over the past two years I have read several books by investigative reporter Michael Pollen and I've learned a great deal about the way our food system works here in the United States. Not surprisingly, it is driven by money. I knew there were other areas in my kitchen that were going to need attention besides the wheat, but I wasn't sure what was most important or where to start. So I just didn't do much of anything. We did back off of white sugar a good bit, mostly by switching from tea to water, but that was all.

The food dyes are surprisingly easy to avoid at home. Most of the time, if one brand of something uses a food dye another doesn't. We really haven't changed much at home for those. Out in public, though is a whole other story. Last week, we had dinner at McAlister's Deli because it was free tea day. Both Carrie and Daniel ordered peach tea. None of us adults thought to ask if the peach syrup had dye in it until it was too late. Yellow 6 in one cup of tea caused 2 days of hyper, aggressive behavior and another night terror for Carrie. I have to stay on top of it when we are not at home.

But the more I read, the more I realize that it's not just the dyes. There are so many chemicals making their way into our bodies disguised as 'food' that it's a wonder we're able to operate at all! Really, it's a testament to our design that we are still alive and kicking given some of the stuff we put in our mouths and expect our bodies to digest and make use of. I have concerns that Carrie may have reactions to some of these other chemicals as well.  There are no allergy tests for this kind of thing. I'll have to do my own trial and error testing with a food journal and behavior observations to see if I can pin it down.

Tonight my head is spinning because I'm thinking about all the antibiotics that animals are given, that are then in the meat I feed my kids. I'm thinking about the hormones cows get to produce more milk, and while my gallon of milk from Kroger is free from it, I don't know about our yogurt, our cheese, our sour cream, our butter.. etc. And if it's in there, are we getting extra estrogen we don't need? And is it doing us harm? I'm thinking about the problems with soy, both before it's been genetically modified and after. And how it's in every. thing. we. eat. I'm thinking about how much of the world requires that genetically modified foods be labeled - and we here in the US don't. I'm wondering how one major company that has way too much influence can be knocked back down to size. I see logical connections between stuff in our food and troubles in our bodies and I wonder why there isn't more uproar. The scientific community calls this causation or correlation. Either way it's not good. The research is so often skewed because it's not independent. It's paid for either directly or indirectly by the companies who make the 'food'. I'm overwhelmed trying to avoid the things that might (or might not) be messing with our bodies.

Some of this stuff I have read twice just to think I might have understood what I read. And yet I keep going. I keep reading. I keep having conversations (both with myself and with Michael or others) about these food issues and where they are leading us. So many aspects of this are troubling. But what I do know is that we can't keep pretending it's not a problem. We have to spread the word and start fighting back.... the alternative is frightening, even under the best of circumstances.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Results of the Pantry Sort - No Food Dyes

We have finished our pantry sort. Brenna and Daniel pulled everything off of the shelves and read every label. If it was dye free, it went back in. If had dyes listed, it stayed on the table. They also did part of the fridge before they started losing interest. I finished it up and here are the products in our...

 Food Dye Pile of Shame. 

I was really surprised that the pile was this small. I really thought it would be in everything. We can work with this. The only thing Daniel was really bummed about was the marshmallow fluff. Yes, white marshmallow fluff has blue dye in it. Weird. So I'll check other brands and then see if they sell one at Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Daniel likes to make fluffernutter sandwiches every once in a while. 

Other than that, everything is easily replaced. We usually have capri suns anyway instead of kool aid. The fruit cocktail has probably been in the pantry for 5 years. We never eat that. I don't really even know where it came from. Cereal - no big deal. We'll just read labels and choose something different. Truthfully, Daniel would rather have eggs anyway. It's the convenience factor for me. We normally make lemonade with lemon juice and the Sunbeam brand of snow cone flavors is dye free. I was personally a little bummed to toss the butterscotch and caramel toppings, but I'll get over it. And who knows, maybe there's a 'clean' version. 

Oh, and just tonight I discovered that we can make our own jello just as quickly as with a box mix! Who knew?!  Apparently you just buy plain jello - which has no dyes or chemicals - and then add fruit juice. Unbelievable. Well, at least until I try it and it works. Then I'll be a big believer. :) 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Food Dyes

We are now a food dye free family. I'm adding my story here so that other moms searching for information will know they are not alone. Or crazy. I could not believe how many other kids behaved exactly like mine - that someone could describe an episode and it sounded like they were watching through our windows. Those stories gave me the confidence to trust my instincts.

I have four kids - currently ages 10, 7, 3, and 1. My oldest child, Brenna, has never shown any sensitivities to food dyes. At least that I can remember. Daniel, who is 7, and Carrie, who is 3, have the biggest reactions. Ben, who is 1, hasn't shown any signs of a sensitivity - but also hasn't been given a lot of dyed foods since he doesn't eat candy yet. 

A few years ago, maybe 3 or so, Daniel began to have, on occasion, a massive temper tantrum. He would tighten his arms to his side and yell so loud the veins in his neck would bulge. Then the tears would start and before long he'd be on the floor kicking and screaming. Sometimes this would go on for 15 minutes. These episodes were so bizarre compared to his normal behavior. They were awful to deal with, especially since at the time, we thought they were a behavior problem and treated them as such. I remember one in Target and another in a parking garage.  They happened relatively infrequently so by the time the next one happened I'd forgotten all them. After about 4 such tantrums, I started to ask what he'd eaten (thinking sugar at the time) and discovered that he'd had several packs of fruits snacks in one afternoon. As a guess, I banned them from our house and told everyone not to give him fruit snacks. I even remember asking my sister who is a pediatrician, if she'd ever heard of anyone having those kind of reactions to fruit snacks. She hadn't. 

In December of 2011, we planned a fun night of driving around looking at Christmas lights. We wanted to end the evening at Krispy Kreme. Daniel decided about 15 minutes into our trip that he was thirsty and he would not stop whining about it. Slowly it escalated to hitting the seats, thrashing, yelling, crying, kicking, and screaming. We threatened not to take him to get donuts, but that didn't even phase him. He was ruining the night for everyone. Finally, we drove home so that he and I could get out of the van and I could just put him to bed. But when I got out and opened the doors, he wouldn't come out. He just kept screaming and kicking and he had this wild look in his eyes. It was like a scene from the movies. I remember Michael getting in the van, but I can't remember if he was able to coax Daniel out or if he had physically take him out. When we got him inside, and Michael left with girls to go get donuts, Daniel got his drink. I gently said it was time to go upstairs to bed and he just walked right up and laid down. All of the fight was gone out of him and he was exhausted. I remember thinking that was really strange, but I knew he hadn't eaten any fruit snacks so I couldn't figure out why he would act that way. We've had maybe one or two episodes since then. Neither involved fruit snacks. 

Two weeks ago, the older kids all took swimming lessons. Their instructor let them pick out candy when they were finished each day. On Monday, Daniel chose airheads. He ate the whole bag on the way home and then we had lunch. Following lunch, I offered the kids a homemade yogurt popsicle. For some reason, Carrie had first choice and she picked the one with the blue handle. Daniel began to get mad because he wanted that one and, as before, his tantrum escalated. Before long he was screaming and writhing on the floor. My friend Sherri and her daughter had stopped by to pick up bread and they were watching this whole thing unfold. I was so embarrassed by his behavior. Nothing could get him to calm down. I couldn't get him to go to another room or anything. Finally, we all walked out to the front porch to talk, just leaving him on the kitchen floor kicking and screaming. After about 10 minutes of this, it dawned on me that he might have eaten something that triggered the tantrum. Michael found the wrapper in the car, and sure enough it had Red Dye 40 in it. Sherri works with a lot of kids who are not able to have dyes and very quickly we began to put the pieces of his puzzle together. Michael went back in to talk to him and once his tantrum was done, he was back to his normal self. They did some research together on the computer and then he calmly ate the other yogurt pop. 

Last week we went on vacation and decided to keep it dye free, just to see if we could prove what we suspected. On Monday or Tuesday night (all the days run together), I was putting the kids to bed and an argument broke out over who would get to sleep with the top quilt. Daniel had said Brenna could have it, but then he changed  his mind and in no time he had descended into a major fit, just like the one over the popsicle handle. I tried to deal with it. Michael tried to deal with it. I walked back into the living room in frustration because he hadn't had any candy. But then I realized we'd had ice cream 3 nights in a row... sure enough Blue Belle ice cream has Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Bingo. When he calmed down, I hugged him and told him I was sorry I hadn't checked the ingredients. The ice cream had those dyes in it. And through tears, he said, "Mom, why does that stuff make me act like that but it doesn't do it to Brenna or Carrie?" I had to tell him I didn't know. But by the next morning, we'd discovered that it does do that to Carrie, too. 

Since arriving at the condo for vacation, Carrie had not slept through the night. She's been sleeping through the night since she was 8 weeks old so this was definitely out of the ordinary. Let me back up to say, that over the years, there've been times when she wakes up screaming but doesn't seem to really be awake so we just lay her back down and mostly she goes right back to sleep. In her own room, it hasn't ever been a big deal. I don't think it ever happened more than two nights in a row either. 

The first night of vacation, she woke up around 5 am screaming. She was sitting up, facing the wall and yelling/crying very loud. When I tried to touch her, she jerked away from me. When I asked questions or tried to talk to her she would not respond in any way. This lasted for about 5 minutes or more and then stopped - as if she'd woken up. By then everyone else was awake, including Ben so we just made the best of it and walked down to the beach to see the sun coming up. The next night it happened in the middle of the night. We quickly moved her to the living room, where she had her 5-10 minute fit and then very easily went back to bed. By the third night, I was really getting frustrated. I don't do well with interrupted sleep and I could not figure out what was going on. She woke up screaming again, staring at the wall, not letting us touch her, sometimes hitting her head against the wall, and not responding to anything we said. We let her finish in the living area and I asked her if she had to go to the bathroom. She whispered, "No. If we go in there we have to be very quiet because Grandma and Papa are sleeping." Michael and I just looked at each other dumbfounded. Seconds ago she was screaming her head off. I asked her if she had been crying and she said no. Apparently  she woke up and didn't remember a thing. It was so weird. Michael asked if she wanted to go back to bed and she said yes. Just like that it was over. But as they were walking out of the room, I suddenly had an epiphany and grabbed my computer. I spent the next two hours reading everything I could find on Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6. Turns out, what she had was called a night terror and yes, the dyes can trigger it. 

The next day we didn't give her any dyes. About two hours after she went to bed, but before the adults had gone to bed, she began to cry out again. I was bummed because I thought I'd figured out the problem. She wasn't quite as loud and she didn't bang her head. Still, she wouldn't let anyone touch her and she stared ahead at the wall. I asked my mom to come try to calm her down and that didn't work either. (But it was good for mom to get to see the episode.) Mom and I left the room and Michael stayed - planning to to bring her into the living room to try to wake her up. Instead, he asked her if she'd like to go to sleep and she willing laid her head down and went back to sleep. So it was a much milder episode that night. We attribute that to the dyes still working their way out of her system. She was completely fine the rest of vacation. Slept through the night without a whimper. 

We arrived home last night and this morning she and Michael were up before me. I have not had a chance to clear out my pantry yet and she ate cereal with the dyes in it. (Life, cinnamon) Michael went to church and I kept the little kids home. She was wild! She was aggressive with Ben. She was running everywhere. She was flipping her body all over the place on the couch. Head on the couch, feet in the air. I put her in time out. I fussed at her. She kept encouraging Ben to climb the steps. Even letting him go right past her while she just sat there. She yelled. She was just so hyperactive I was going crazy! When Michael got home, he kind of took over corralling her. Half joking, I finally said, in exasperation "What did you feed her for breakfast?" When he said cereal, I knew what had happened. Sure enough, it has Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Thankfully, right now she's sleeping it off. I'm praying it will be out of her system by the time she wakes up. 

I have read lots of articles over the past week and I am way overwhelmed. Here are a few things spinning in my head:

- The increase in the amount of food dyes consumed by people over the last 50 years is something like a 5 fold increase. 

- The European Union is banning the food dyes. Many companies make a dye free version of their food that they sell in the European Union, but they will not remove the dyes for us here in the States. 

- The FDA does not believe that there is a strong enough link between food dyes and hyperactivity in kids (or any other negative reaction) to ban the dyes. 

- A lot of the time, the dye is put in the food to make you think there is real fruit or vegetable in it, when there's not. Basically... it's there to fool you. 

- Some foods (I think chocolate pudding was one - it would be green) would be a whole different color and not appealing if they didn't dye it.

- There are so many different ways the 'reaction' can manifest itself. I've seen everything from hyperactivity, to bed wetting, to asthma, to tantrums and night terrors. Even allergic reactions.

- The dyes are in lots of things you don't expect. Like toothpaste and vanilla ice cream.

And so much more. The truth is, the dyes probably affect all of us and you as well. If we paid attention, we might discover a lot about what causes certain moods/feelings/concentration issues/or hyperactivity. These are really an unnecessary additive to our food and I hope the FDA will ban them. Soon. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Well, It IS a Little Odd I Guess...

Last week I let the kids watch a movie I shouldn't have. It seemed educational and historical. I did a little online research and decided it would probably be ok. After all it was a made for tv movie from 1974. And likely Daniel wouldn't pay attention anyway. Right?

I'm not entirely sure how The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman ended up on our Netflix queue. My guess is that its nine emmy awards made it stick out one night when I was adding random movies to the list. At any rate, that was the movie we had the night Michael wasn't going to be home and I was desperate for something to keep the kids occupied.

The story, which spans from slavery in the south just after the Civil War to the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, began and sure enough we lost Carrie and Daniel within ten minutes. I considered turning it off, but Brenna seemed interested so I didn't. Eventually I had to put Carrie to bed and that settled Daniel down almost immediately. He began to pay attention. And I began to have concern.

I stopped the movie twice to explain words we don't use and to give a little historical context to the events. They were both proud of Miss Jane for drinking out of the white water fountain at the end of the movie.

When Michael came home I told him what they'd seen and suggested we do a little post movie discussion the next day. So at lunch I asked Daniel to tell Daddy about the movie. In typical boy fashion he immediately described a bus crash (a burning freedom riders bus), which was probably about 6 seconds of the whole movie. So minor in fact, that it took me a while to even remember what he was talking about. Phew! If that's what he remembered, I was relieved. Although it was horrible, I knew he didn't grasp the extent of the situation.

And then the following conversation took place:

"Hey Dad! Did you know that in the old days when someone died they put the body in a box and buried them in the ground?! Isn't that funny?"

Silence. Michael and I exchange looks. Shoulders begin to shake as we tried to hold back laughter.

"They still do that."

More laughter...

"Yep, what did you think happened when someone dies?"
"They get taken to the hospital."
"Well, yes, but once the body is dead, we bury it."
"So when Caramel Pap gets shot we're going to put him in a box and bury him????"

[Caramel Pap is my grandfather. This is where the "uh oh" set in. I realized Daniel was remembering the scenes where a young black activist angered the white folks in town who in turn found a crazy man to shoot him, point blank along a deserted road. His funeral had followed - hence the box and burial.]

Me:"Daniel, Carmel Pap isn't going to get shot!"
"But he might die soon."
"Well, not everybody dies by getting shot! There are lots of ways to die. You could have a disease, or an accident or you could just get old and your body gives out. Most people don't get shot."

Uneasy laughter from the adults as the kids jumped topics and asked for seconds. I guess it's a good thing we set that straight but yikes! Next time I'll do a LOT more research before I throw a random movie into the DVD player. That one ended up being educational all right - just not the way I expected. Lesson learned.

Friday, February 01, 2013

40 Things I Learned In the First Ten Years of Parenting

A friend recently asked me what I have learned from kid one to kid four. I didn't have a good answer right away but as the week has worn on, all sorts of things have come to mind. Some more significant than others. Before I knew it, I had a list of forty!

1. In 0-3 month pjs, zippered is highly preferable over snapped.
During those first three months before the baby is sleeping through the night, it is much easier to zip pjs in the dark than to correctly snap them, especially if you have to create both legs with snaps. Heck, that's truth night or day.

2. Babywise works.
    I've done it four times, twice with a girl and twice with a boy. No child took longer than 11 weeks to sleep through the night. Feed Wake Sleep. And feed every 2.5 to 3 hours. It just works.

3. Swaddle. Double swaddle when necessary.
     Babies like to be secure. Think about where they just came from. If you've give birth to a Houdini capable of busting out of the swaddle in less than five minutes, double swaddle.

4. Make your own baby food.
     I cringe at all the money I spent on jar food. Use the jar food for back up and for when you don't have anything baby friendly at the house. But other than that, feed them what you're eating or make it for them. And never buy a jar of bananas.

5. Much of the 'equipment' they market to new parents is unnecessary. And takes up lots of space.

6. Sometimes babies cry and there's nothing wrong. They just need to cry.

7. The more parts there are to a toy the less you want it in your house.

8. Until about size 2T, kids go through clothes really fast. Don't spend a lot of money.

9. Keeping a written log of whatever you're struggling with will help you see the progress instead of just the frustration. (crying before falling asleep, # of ounces taken/feeding, times they get out of bed, potty training, forgotten items for school, etc.)

10. Be an advocate for your child - but that's easier to say than it is to be.
Whether it's at school or the church nursery, sometimes you just have to politely advocate for what your child needs. Our systems are set up to teach to the middle and if that's not your kid, you have to ask for more.

11. Naptime becomes room time and no kid ever out-grows that.
Because parents need a break too.

12. Kids are not "mini - me"s. I think I thought they would see the world just like me, react just like me, and like what I like. They don't. I'm glad. 

13. Even a toddler can help unload the dish washer or the dryer, help sort laundry or put toys back in a box.

14. "Cutting the apron strings" is important in raising independent self-sufficient kids. This happens in small steps all along the way so that it's not an abrupt drop when they go to kindergarten. Or overnight camp. Or high school. Or worse, college.

15. It will eat you up when (and they all do at some point) your kids have a social problem at school.

16. Phases. A lot of it is just a phase. Be consistent (ignoring it, disciplining it, calling attention to it, undoing it, pretending you don't notice, whatever). Despite how it feels, it won't last forever.

17. It IS possible to raise kids that don't whine. Just don't tolerate it.

18. Baby equipment takes up a lot of room.

19. Diapers are expensive. Potty train early. Between 18 and 24 months. Even earlier if you can manage. (and yes, they can do it - despite what the AAP says.)

20. Never judge another parent with a tantruming kid at the store. You will be in their shoes someday.

21. Your kids will surprise you with what they can handle sometimes if you just give them a little freedom to show it off. (Seriously. Two Sunday mornings ago, Daniel, age 6, made his own scrambled eggs. I didn't exactly give him permission to do that - I found out after the fact, but I sure was impressed.)

22. Family traditions are important to kids. (and moms too)

23. Teach your kids manners and to be respectful. That alone gives them a huge advantage wherever they go.

24. Another family that's a few steps ahead of you can be an enormous resource. They are far enough ahead to have gotten through it, but not so far that they've forgotten how it felt.

25. Trust your instincts. Even as a first time mom (or dad), you are very often right.

26. Sometimes, the doctor is wrong.

27. Kids are hungry after school!!

28. You'll need lots of excuses for why the tooth fairy didn't come. (It's so easy to forget. yes, even consecutive nights. Our current record is 4.)

29. Decide what works for your family and then do your best not to worry about what everyone else is doing. It's hard not to feel pressured to keep up or compare, but each family is so different.

30. Kids go through a lot of shoes.

31. If you have hats, gloves, snow pants, and boots that properly fit each one of your kids in any given winter, there will be no significant snowfall that year.

32. When you know better, you do better. Sometimes we just have to adjust and not look back.

33. No one really knows how to discipline and raise kids. You make it up as you go.

34. Anticipate their moves - proactive is better than reactive. Be prepared for anything.

35. Sometimes lightening the mood is better than making a point.

36. Putting kids in close confines (like sharing a room) often leads to a closer relationship between them (though not always).

37. Kids do better when the expectations are clear. (and the consequences too.)

38. Kids can do just about any chore you really dislike. :)

39. Overstimulation is a major cause of babies not being able to sleep.

40. Finally, you can't parent perfectly and you can't parent all by yourself. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Can I Not Find Peace With The Hair?

I don't really like going to get my hair cut. I've been thinking about why that is and I've come to the conclusion that I'm irritated by the fact that I have to pay $40 for my hair to look like it's supposed to for ONE day every 8-10 weeks. I want more return for my money. I mean if it's going to look like a squirrel's nest all the time anyway, what's the point? Every time I go, I get my hopes up that THIS cut will be the one that works. The one I can manage and duplicate every day. And every time, by week 2 I've already landed in the pit of hair dispair.

Such is the curse of wavy-not-curly-not-straight hair.

Once my hair reaches a certain length, it becomes too heavy to wave. That's how I know it's time to make another appointment. A few chops here and there bought me a couple of extra weeks this time, but even Michael's 1/2 inch cut around the bottom wasn't enough to stave off the salon. And when I had no choice, I had no choice.

But logic seemed to say that if it's going to look bad anyway (and this is no reflection on the stylists by the way - it's not their fault) why pay so much? And so I found myself on a chair in the front reception area of a national cheap-cut chain. I had brought Brenna along for a trim as well. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. All the chairs were full and three stylists were working, but no one said a word. Only the country radio station playing broke the silence.

Since I had checked us in online, we had barely a minute's wait and the next available stylist called me back. She draped me and began squirting water on my hair before she even asked what I wanted done. As I talked she sprayed, not caring what she hit so that before long water ran down my cheek. She began cutting, never pinning anything up out of the way. She asked, "long layers or medium?" and other than, "look down" and  "is that better?" when she was done, she really didn't say much of anything. She took the razor to the back of my neck at the end and I had to fight the urge to scrunch my shoulders up tight and protect my skin. Razor burn. I was glad to be finished.

Brenna hopped in the chair for her spray down and got a similar wordless treatment. "An inch off?" was all she said and then she combed hair over the face and down the front hard enough to hurt. Nose, ears, forehead were apparently all in the way. As she worked, the man next to me began to get impatient for his turn. He took the ladies to task for allowing Brenna and I to go ahead of him. Another stylist patiently explained that we had checked in online but he wasn't buying it. He told her he worked in customer service and first come should be first served. She apologized for his wait and assured him he was next, but he was still very agitated.

Shortly after, Brenna finished and I stepped up to pay. $24. Total. For BOTH of us. (Plus razor burn, comb marks, the silent treatment, and grumpy customers.) And the woman finally smiled as she explained that there are coupons on the back of the grocery store receipts for $7.50 cuts.

Brenna made me promise not to take her back to that national chain. I think she'd rather I trim her split ends, than have her face combed off by an angry stylist. I guess I understand. It was quite the experience we had. In fact, I've decided to go ahead and start making my next appointment. Eight weeks from now with a friend who works from her home and cut my hair for ten years before we moved to this house. I think I miss her. Even if my hair is going to look like unwound thread nine of the ten weeks between cuts, at least she makes the actually cutting experience enjoyable.

After our cuts,  we walked next door to Kroger and I let Brenna pick out what to have for dinner. She chose kale, cottage cheese, and little smokies. I'm not kidding. 

Nine Hundred Eight Through Nine Hundred Nineteen

On the homestretch to 1000! But knowing His gifts will never stop, and smiling because of it.



908. babysitters my kids love

909. new friends

910. a new beginning with fresh hope

911. two beautiful days in the middle of January, where the windows can be opened and the house aired out

912. Benjamin sitting in the front of the Target cart for the first time

913. letting Brenna pick out all the parts of a dinner meal at Kroger

914. learning new tricks for wheat

915. that my cold isn't too severe and didn't bring a headache or sinus infection

916. new understandings of Scripture

917. quilting

918. snow days

Monday, January 14, 2013

Eight Hundred Ninety Five Through Nine Hundred Seven

It seems monumentous that I've crossed the nine hundred mark. On my way to one thousand and giving thanks.



895. The way Benjamin pulls the fabric of his pjs to his mouth as he gets ready to go to sleep

896. The Proper Pie Company

897. Teaching Carrie dot to dot

898. playing fun games at the table during dinner

899. when Daniel cracks himself up

900. sharing Bible study with Brenna

901. teaching Brenna about current events (whatever they're talking about on WRVA) on the way to dance class.

902. the rainbow seen all over the city this morning

903. my new boots

904. smoothies

905. being busy at work and actually feeling like I helped someone

906. finding out you're not alone in something

907. finishing a book