Hair Extensions and Object Complement Nouns

I had the hair-brained idea to get extensions (literally I guess). Sometimes I worry my thought process runs on a permanent slippery slope fallacy.  I start out thinking about homemade kefir and somehow end up eating store bought ice cream. In my head the transition is always seamlessly logical.  I barely even notice going from kefir recipes, to raw milk sources, to researching ice cream makers on Amazon to settling for Trader Joe's coconut milk ice cream, to "Oh, well Walmart is closer and I'll buy the stuff with real cream and sugar" to "oh hey, sale on the store brand."  Ho hum. 

Some people are born with the ability to know what's socially acceptable and some people have to make themselves a spreadsheet and flowchart to know whether or not it's ok to shave your legs...but not your arms.  Or fake fingernails are ok, but not fake fingers. Push-up bras are fine, but fake boobs are suspect. For whatever reason, it's perfectly acceptable to color your hair, but not add fake hair. As someone with naturally curly hair, this has never really kept me up at night until recently when I was diagnosed with a subset of health conditions that has resulted in less than stellar locks. 

So I did what any normal person does and went straight to Amazon, then coerced a sister into installing my newly purchased 100% Human Hair Remy locks.  After I had an ethical crisis imagining some sort of Gift Of The Magi situation,  I pictured myself sauntering around looking like this. 

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Instead I ended up more looking like this: 

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Pros: I had more hair than Ariel, Elsa and Rapunzel put together (Ok, maybe not Rapunzel).  It braided beautifully, went up in a messy bun like I was born to be a nonchalant movie star with over-sized sunglasses, and my kids kept staring at me and backing away slowly.   

Cons: It clumped up and wouldn't blend with my regular hair, itched terribly, and I couldn't sleep. For those who don't like Jamberry or other sticker nails because of the way it feels like wearing a maxi pad on your finger... skip hair extensions altogether because that's exactly what it felt like, but on your head. 

Also, note to self: If the price is too good to be true, it will probably melt like green plastic army men. 

I stubbornly stuck with it though. My fake clumpy hair extensions were fabulous. I discovered a newfound appreciation for runway models, people with naturally long/heavy hair, and anyone else who has to endure weirdness in the name of aesthetics. I was trying to teach my 9yr old the difference between a direct object and an object complement noun and after the third time picking long stray hairs off his face, he said "Mom, I can't even take you seriously right now.".  Fair enough.  

So after a day of Jordan Petersoning all of my life's goals and taking a good hard look at my narcissistic tendencies, the hair extensions went back in the box and I resumed the normal pinned up and glasses look I've been sporting for years. It's fine. Better this way. On Mondays I teach a bunch of cute little preschoolers/kindergartners, and on Wednesdays I teach a bunch of equally cute but rather tall jr. highers, so channeling my inner Professor McGonagall instead of Trelawney is probably the better way to go. 

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Next I plan to shave my head and wear a different wig for every day of the week (I kid, I kid...maybe).  

Oh, and if you're in the same boat with the whole teaching nouns thing.  And "No No D.O (direct object), label verb transitive" is a common refrain in your house. You might also try "Replace? Yes. Amen, label O.C.N. (object complement noun)" or "Describe? Yes. Hooray, label O.C.A. (object complement adjective)". 

 

The Samson Toddler

My childhood brain nearly imploded once when I overheard a learned adult hypothesize Samson was actually a scrawny guy. Blasphemy! Didn't they see the super accurate pictures on my Sunday School coloring page? But in a way, it kinda makes sense. Would everyone have been amazed by his strength if he looked like the Hulk with muscles rippling out like four Dwayne Johnson's stacked two high and two wide? Or would they have been more shocked if he had the typical dad-bod yet could swing a lion around like a small cat and go on a mass murdering spree with nothing but a donkey jaw?  

That sums up how I feel about my two year old right now.  He's a bit tiny for his age, although he does actually grow occasionally because I noticed recently his belly was starting to stick out of his 9-12 month shirts (which is unacceptable because we don't allow immodest crop tops in this household, so I promptly took it off and let him go shirtless). But despite having three other boys whose antics were very similar, I can't seem to help but marvel at the sheer insanity that is me trying to keep up with my youngest. But since we wrote down his older siblings' stories it would be remiss not to also chronicle his shenanigans: In a way, he's both easier and more difficult than Jamie was. Easier because I already survived one child who never sleeps and climbs everything, so I can sit this one out from the lofty towers of complacency. But it's harder because I don't have the time, energy or desire to train this last one or work as hard as I did with the first one. It really is true the youngest is more spoiled. I thought maybe it was just my jaded perspective as a firstborn, but unless everyone else is doing a much better job with their caboose child (don't answer that), I'm thinking this can safely move from theory to fact.  

When Jamie climbed out of his crib, Jim and I waited in the dark below his crib, rose up and went all Walking Dead whenever he attempted to climb out.  That didn't work so well with William because a) it kept his brothers awake more than it served as a compelling reason to stay in his crib  and b) like all strict parenting books tell you, you CAN train a child to be obedient, but while he did eventually learn to go to bed at bedtime, that didn't stop him from getting up in the middle of the night and raiding the pantry and fridge like a raccoon. c) no amount of training kept him from getting up for the day at 4:30/5:00 am.  

So we bought a sleep tent for the tidy sum of $100 (which I blogged about before) but was guaranteed to give exhausted parents a safe place to put their child during sleeping hours.  Within a week he broke the front panel out...just pushed his finger through the rip proof nylon until he got enough of an indentation to get a good grip, rip it open and emerge victorious in the baby game of Survivor.  We fixed that which earned us a whole month of sleep before he figured out how to wiggle the zipper down enough to make quick work of the rest (if he was smart, he would have figured that out first).  We used a carabiner after that to lock the zipper shut and that got us all the way to last night when Jim and I had just settled on the couch for a relaxing evening of Sherlock, bourbon and sewing projects when we heard a suspicious amount of bumping and activity going on in the back bedroom.  Jim went to go check and discovered our small son razing havoc like a small Tasmanian devil ping-ponging around the room.  

We assumed he'd just busted the carabiner lock (which had happened before), but no...he had ripped the entire tent off its base.  I assume, judging by the five star reviews, that this is not a common occurrence for other owners of this tent. And he seriously looks too small to do anything remotely that powerful, which is why I'm henceforth dubbing him my Samson toddler.  He may not talk very well, and he may not be super well behaved, but just to be on the safe side, I'm going to lock up the donkey jawbones.  

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It's a good thing children look so angelic when they're sleeping? 

Lentils, Insanity and Dinosaur Trains

I used to hate it when my parents sat us all down for a "family pow wow".  They were epic come to Jesus talks that usually ended with us all getting up early, doing more chores and sorting out whatever major attitude problems were shaping up into WWIII.  I loathed them so much, that early in our marriage when Jim casually mentioned "let's pow wow" I broke out into a cold sweat and treated the poor man like he'd just suggested a flogging post and torture rack.  

Now I have four kids, and although the word "pow wow" is still strictly forbidden, I realized I totally do the same thing.  Negotiating with a two year old is a slippery slope where you think peeling a banana a certain way or watching a show in the morning is not a big deal, and then before you know it you're standing on your head, holding your mouth a certain way and angling the banana so it correctly lines up with the earth's magnetic field as you peel it at 5 am while you watch the same dinosaur train episode.  ...and you don't even know how it got this bad.  

Multiply that by four, throw in the end of CC and state testing and it's no wonder people commonly burn out this time of year.  

So I sat all of the kids down and told them we were having a week reset of absolutely no fun (you have to set the standard super low so something like playing math bingo feels like you're getting away with murder). We're doing nothing but learning poetry, reading books, doing math and re-learning how to play nicely with our siblings. I cleaned up our food while I was at it, because I figured you might as well bum everyone out with one swift kick in the pants.  Our diet had slipped from pizza occasionally and cold cereal as an emergency backup to such a high level of consumption that they need to come up with a new scientific classification of consumers for us: Herbivores, Carnivores, Omnivores and the Junkavores. 

It had gotten so bad even Jamie was craving healthy food.  He's become so big and responsible this year (mostly) that he can babysit for short periods and go places independently. So when he kept bugging me and bugging me for lentil soup, I finally just handed him my card and told him if he wanted it that bad he was going to have to do it himself.  

...and I was surprised he called my bluff, but he did. He walked to the grocery store and asked someone where the leeks and lentils were located, used the self checkout and was home in ten minutes total. Jim and I teased him later that the only reason someone didn't get him into trouble was because they probably had never met a potentially troublesome sixth grader shopping for lentils and leeks.  Ahem.

 I wonder sometimes if other families have to go through the monumental, boot slogging task of feeling like they have to troubleshoot every.single.area of their kids' lives. Oftentimes it seems like my kids only struggle struggle struggle, and never succeed.  Everything needs extra work and effort, nothing comes easy.  We were back to forming ABC's today like we're in Kindergarten to fix a bunch of letter reversals that have been cropping up lately. William probably needs speech therapy too, but there is a limit to how many "therapies" one can juggle in a week, and his issues are mild (in comparison).  But see? It's a constant state of triage on who needs the most help.  Of course after three kids who needed speech therapy to even start talking, I feel like at this point I should just write my own.   "Speech Bootcamp For Stubborn Toddlers: The at home guide for parents who want to hear something other than 'EEEEEEEEGHH!' all day" 

But hey, two days in and everyone is doing a lot better (food wise, school wise, and behavior wise) so maybe my parents were on to something with their "pow wows".  And honestly there are worse things than sitting home all day eating watermelon and homemade beef jerky while you build epic train tracks and read Laddie aloud.  But in defense of electronics and Netflix...  Jamie said there wasn't one thing on his common core state test that wasn't in Wild Kratz and Magic Schoolbus. So there. 

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That time you almost screw everything up...

14 years and a few weeks ago I was desperately trying to buy a plane ticket.  It was one of those Gift Of A Magi moments with the hair combs and watch chain where Jim was trying to fly to CA to surprise me, and I was trying to fly to Ohio to surprise Jim.  Our engagement story might have been a lot different if I'd been successful. 



Nineteen year old me was fantasizing about a Lord Of The Rings wedding where everyone dressed up as Elves and Hobbits and we passed out copies of the Silmarillion as favors. ... or a Gone With The Wind theme... or a  Monty Python Theme.  It's a miracle we didn't consider a Star Wars theme.   

Indubitably we have made it happily thus far due to our awesome tastes and the twin influences and patterns of both sets of our parents.  Not only did our parents' stay married, I think they actually legit were/are still super into each other.  I always took it for granted, but I don't now. May we see another 14x3 years of saying "Yes".   *clinks glass*

 

The kids were looking through our engagement photos (digital photos were so high quality back then) and they asked "who's the boy with mom?".  Of course Jim and I both took that as a compliment. lol 

 

The 80/20 Beauty Rule

You know what sounds like a fabulous idea?  Taking economics and turning it into a (likely untrue) hypothesis about how to stay beautiful.  

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity)[1] states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “...the 80/20 rule…” in a podcast, I would have enough money to buy myself a bottle of gel polish (or half a sheet of jamberry).   So it was only a matter of time before the light bulb went on and I realized what a gold mine this term was.  Mostly in validating...exonerating (?) my extremely complicated beauty regime.  //cough cough//

So here goes…

 

Your beauty products should work for you, not vice versa.  

If you’re spending 45 min doing your hair, but you live in a climate where it takes less than 3 hours before it looks worse than when you started… then the 80/20 rule is here to save your life (or at the very least give your more time in your day).  Currently, the trending beauty wisdom revolves around specific tips, but everyone is different, so the 80/20 rule is a system wide perspective vs a detailed one.  Pick the hairstyles, hair colors, makeup etc based on the intersection between your personal values and effectiveness.  Your body knows this even if you don’t, so listen to it.  Also, if you find yourself always skipping over a certain eyeshadow or mascara or lipstick, but you keep thinking you’ll still wear it?  Toss it or put it in a separate bag reserved for costume parties and small children.  You’ll have fun scrubbing off of the walls at some future point.

I ignored this to my detriment last week when I spent an obscene amount of time beating my hair into submission for a family portrait session...at the beach.   Poseidon in all his fury wrecked havoc on my wanna-be Repunzelness in less than five minutes.  ...it may have been a record breaking 30 seconds, but I was in denial.  

Which leads me to my next point.  

It’s ok to have long hair that you only wear down when the President comes to town.

 Maybe this is dumb, but it was an epiphany to me.  It’s ok to have long hair you wear up 80% of the time.  Historically/anthropologically etc this wasn’t so unusual (You wouldn’t want to get suckered into weaving gold or anything because you forgot to put your cap on), but these days it seems like you need to defend long hair otherwise the temptation and pressure to cut it off gleams like shiny green grass on the other side of the fence.  So in case you needed an excuse for keeping your hair long even if you normally keep it in a ponytail or messy bun: It’s just the magic 80/20 rule at work.   
 

Only abuse your body occasionally

I love high heels, feel comfortable in high heels and would wear them all of the time if I didn’t live barefoot 80% of the time (are you catching a theme?).  I've noticed though, that feet tend to take on the shape of whatever shoe you force it to live in.  They’re like an old married couple where they gradually look and act so much like each other, they start to resemble each other. So don’t wear the same shoes all of the time unless you like pointy shaped feet with bunions.  Mix it up, go barefoot or wear something something structurally healthy.  And then wear killer high fashion whenever you feel like it...make that 20% count.  You win. Your feet win. Everybody wins. The same goes with your skin.  It's hard to keep your skin happy when you're constantly slathering it with dozens of products containing everything from ground wart hog eyelashes to the dw off the newborn skin of an endangered Colombian newt.  So you end up with the same dilemma: use organic makeup that costs twice as much (and you're pretty sure is just campfire soot mixed up with coconut oil) or feel guilty for ruining the environment and polluting your body's biggest organ (your SKIN! in case you missed the memo).  But feel guilty and stress out no longer.  With the 80/20 rule, feel free to go minimal and satiating most of the time and pull out the polyjuice potion for the 20%.  Ensure your face lasts a good 30 years longer.  Make your 20% work for you.   

 

(The 80/20 rule is one of those things you see everywhere once you know about it, so feel free to enlighten me.   I'm sure there are many more shortcuts to add.)    

 

Maybe being a medieval peasant wouldn't be so bad...

We just recently switched to a once a month grocery shopping budget and I feel a bit like a 17th century sea captain stocking a giant barquentine.  Granted my chicken these days comes pre-neck-wrung and sometimes even precooked by Squire Costco, but the modern trade off means I don’t spend my days tearing my hair out getting enough food for my family, instead I tear my hair out trying to make sure they’re literate and well educated.    

For kicks and giggles I added up our monthly food consumption:

58 lbs of Grains

186 lbs of Dairy

63 lbs of Meat

83 lbs Vegetables

61 lbs Fruit

9 lbs Fat

Total- 460 lbs of food

Which came out to be 2.5 lbs of food per person in our family (per day). That seemed like a tremendous amount of food to me, but according to the national health statistics the average American eats 4.5 lbs of food per day. However since we aren’t wasting away I have to assume we make up the rest in eating abroad. Also, that number is the mean average for our family, some of us consume far less...or more than others (Jamie...cough...Jamie).  

According to the FOA, the world average is 4 lbs/day, which is why America is a bit on the hefty size.  It’s intuitively obvious that height averages increase when there’s a max amount of minerals and nutrients being absorbed...but interestingly if you go too far over onto the obesity side of the graph, average height starts dropping again.   A lot of research suggests this is not because fat makes you short, but that the high processed diet making you fat, also makes it difficult for your gut to absorb any minerals and nutrients from your food.  

In further randomness, the average prosperous peasant in the Middle Ages ate 2-3 lbs of bread a day, 8 oz of meat/dairy and 3 pints of beer.   

 

I fully endorse this being the next new diet craze after the Paleo one dies out...in fact I may be already on it.    



 

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

We go through a gallon of yogurt a week.  Those cute little individual yogurts became a joke a long time ago and we switched to the grimmer “family size” pints that come in two awe inspiring flavors.  Strawberry and Vanilla.  My kids felt like this was the yogurt boneyard as there were no bouncing rabbits or superheros promising half sugar and healthy bones...but alas, my offspring punished me by consuming more yogurt, not less.  Our yogurt consumption got so out of hand I had a yogurt maker in my Amazon cart and was researching urban cows, when the ever classy Walmart answered all my yogurt dreams and started selling massive containers of the healthiest, plainest, fattiest, thickest yogurt I’d ever laid eyes on. I thought maybe my kids would turn up their delicate noses at it and I wouldn’t have to consider getting stock options in the dairy market, but instead they like it MORE.  (take that Mr. Rabbit)  

And this is what my gourmet cooking hobby has devolved into… freezer, crockpot, costco and hurling massive globs of soured milk at my children while I rotate long division, phonegrams and the principal parts of verbs (and that’s on a good day).

I lost the baby tonight. I was making dinner and thinking wispy nonsensical thoughts when it occurred to me I’m not usually allowed such luxury.  I was missing my stalwart sidekick. The (normally) naked one who dismantles the Tupperware cupboard and starts a rock band in the pots and pans… he wasn’t with any of his brothers and I checked the house twice before moving on to the backyard and garage.  I was telling myself not to panic and that he had to be around here somewhere when I was casually informed he’d gone out the front door “to look for dad”, which was a big problem considering dad wasn’t home.  After running up and down the street debating whether I should start hollering like a madwoman in hopes I could enlist some neighbors, I decided to check the house one more time.  Of course I found him… happily behind my bathroom door with a palette of last year's Halloween makeup which he was dutifully painting all over himself and everything else .  He jumped up and down with excitement flapping his arms and jabbering in what I could only translate as “Look Ma! I’m going to be the next Rembrandt!”.  

We’re reading “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll for book club, and I’m having a strong case of nostalgia.  That same feeling you get when you hear an old song, or smell something that reminds you of your great grandmother’s pot roast.  Unfortunately, my 2016 middle aged brain is a little horrified my seven year old self was in love with a book written by a creepy mathematician who was so obsessed with three little girls he wrote out the story he’d been telling them.  One of the questions for our book club is “ Do you consider this book to be an adult’s view of childhood, or a child’s view of adulthood?”  and the question contributed not a little to the aforementioned lost baby episode.

 

As an adult it seems surely the book had its origins at Burning Man or something, but I also distinctly remember consuming the book as a child and thinking it made perfect sense…. Which makes Mr. Author Man a bit more creepy, not less...hmm.   It has very little in the way of plot (like most Romantic Era books. cough cough), but lots of pretty words.   I still have the same, beautifully bound hardcover that captured my attention as a child, so I strategically left it out today for my own children (to see if it would capture their attention), but the only comment I got was, “Oooh, we can use that book to hold down the corner of our fort!”. And thus it went back on the shelf to continue its Velveteen Rabbit existence.  
 

...maybe in a few years I’ll give it and my cookbooks another shot?


Thoughts On Kids Starting School

If I got a nickel for every time someone stopped me in a store, surveyed my passel of man-cubs and told me to “enjoy this stage...it goes so fast”, I would be a wealthy woman.  But apparently unlike the rest of the interwebs, this phrase doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact I always thank the person while agreeing profusely and sometimes...when you know they’re of the race that knows Joseph...we see something in each other’s eyes and we nod.  It’s like a secret handshake.  We know.  

(this was just a year ago!)

What is it we know?  I have no clue.  But it’s all of those indescribable things that go into parenthood and can never be summed up no matter how many scarymommy or huffpo articles we all share.

I like to blame my parents (in a good way) for this.  As someone with siblings 16 years younger, I was a parent myself while my parents were (are) still parenting.  And while older sister status is definitely not the same as mom and dad status, it’s definitely a front row seat...on a roller coaster...in the splash zone.  And I would happily, happily add gnawing-limb-from-bear-trap to the usual getting up every night with a teething baby, a puking toddler and a nightmare ridden grade-schooler over dealing with some of the stuff my parents have.  Any day. In some ways, I’m sort of like a pre-loaded pessimist for teenagerdom and so please do stop me and tell me your best parenting advice because I love all of the thoughts and feedback from the women who have gone before me.  

But really I just wanted to say. I’m loving all of the back-to-school pictures, it’s one of my favorite seasons on social media. Your kids are all freaking adorable. And so I say this seriously and yet somewhat tongue-in-cheek… Enjoy this stage.  ;-)