Archive for the ‘The X Factor’ Category

Losing heart: don’t do it, don’t you dare!

June 24, 2021

I was so taken aback, my jaw dropped. Just me? Has any of you ever found this kind of fortune in your Chinese take-out?

losing heart

Losing heart. What the hell?! Who gets a fortune like that? First of all, that’s not even a complete sentence. Secondly, …okay, I’m sorry, I’m back to what the hell?! again. It hits a little close to home.

I’m trying to remember that no matter how many times I have to climb the mountain in front of me, it’s going to stand there until I get past it. It’s my mountain, and it’s just my luck. Some people have their houses burn down. Some people lose their children, or lose parents at an impossibly early age. There are so many different kinds of trauma or hardship.

My mountain is my mountain. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it isn’t.

Don’t lose heart, Katie-girl. You can do this.

My best life apparently includes ALL the wildlife.

June 17, 2021

Today was a rough day. Like, almost throw up from the stress of it all kind of rough. Because no one likes surprises. Especially stressy, tough surprises. And not those surprises over and over again.

Honestly, yous guys, I feel like Wile E. Coyote a bit, because just when I feel like I’m getting back on track, rebuilding my best life, feeling great about who I am and where I’m going (except for one or two pins I need to fall into place), and then… KABLOOEY!!!

But! When I woke up this morning, I pulled up my Girl Scout socks and told myself that anyone who can find a bald eagle in the wild – a bald eagle nest, even! – doesn’t have anything to worry about. She’ll manage.

Of all the inspirational things I tried to tell myself, that was the one that actually stuck to the wall.

Because you know what? I DID see a bald eagle – a bald eagle nest, even! – in the wild! I’ve seen a mature bald eagle, majestic, breathtaking, damn near miraculous honestly. And I’ve seen two fledglings still in the nest (…who i maybe thought were part of the tree at first. Shhh! -don’t tell!). The fledglings were ginormous; nearly the size of their mama. They all just sat there, occasionally preening. Not much ado about anything.

How crazy is that? I’m a city girl. I didn’t roam out of the city…well, maybe a little towards the suburbs as we roamed the Langolier pole path, and sat by the sides of swamps. By “we”, I mean one of my uncles took me. He used to be an avid hunter, and for the past 15 years or so, he’s changed fields and now photographs (and sells prints of) New England wildlife. I had gone to his house to vent to him and my aunt about the newest surprise stress, and after I finished unloading, my uncle asked: “Wanna go look for some eagles?”

“Uh – YES!!!!!” was my reply. I think I had my shoes on before he finished turning around.

I’ve been asking him him he finds all of these animals; I know there are tracking methods I could just study, but my uncle’s talents are beyond that. He just happens about all kinds of things, like he’s a woodland magnet, or maybe a Disney animator with a magic wand.

Whatever it was, we saw the mama (or papa) eagle with the two fledglings at the first pond. Then we went to check out the owl tree – sadly, nothing doing there. I’m glad we went though, because he’s been telling me to look in the tree in the town center. I drove there and there are twenty trees in the little triangle of park! The owl tree he meant? Is across the street in front of someone’s lawn. But he made up for it – we went rambling down backroads, seeing the squirrels the size of cats; a deer ran in front of our truck thankfully when we were crawling along; there were red-wing blackbirds; crows the size of eagles; an empty osprey nest; and then my proudest moment: I asked what the bump on top of a telephone pole thingy was, and it was an Osprey sleeping! Mrs. Monopoli would be so proud of me!

At the next place, which was next to an adorable old-timey cemetery a few towns over, one I’ve driven past a hundred times!, we saw osprey in their nest with wee ones; Great Blue Herons stalking fish in the shallows; other Great Blue Herons in nests (like apartments) with fledglings; paired swans; Canadian Geese; duckies; and even muskrats swimming around! And then, as if that wasn’t enough Disney wonderland to lift anyone’s spirits, he pointed out a doe that was walking through the woods on the opposite shore. See what I mean about how he’s a woodland creature magnet?

All of that buoeyed me today. I hope the thought of it helps someone else, too. I’ve given Uncle John a new list that includes pheasants, bobcats, and a black bear that’s a safe distance away. (If football has taught me nothing, it’s: be very, very specific with your requests to the Gods above.) Oooh, and pheasants – I should tell him there’s been an update. I can’t add porcupines or anything else until we check some off. But it’s okay – I’m keeping track.

And then it turned out the stressy thing went my way this morning and I have a month’s reprieve so I can show everyone that I really am trying to be the best Katie I can be. It just turns out that my action figure comes with a field guide and binoculars.

Even on a Monday.

November 2, 2020

It’s Monday. I’m trying to re-adjust to having time and space being a constant, definable construct for how I am in the world. …And so of course it so happens that it’s Monday.

Of course. I remember Mondays. I’m familiar with Mondays.

And today’s not just any Monday. It’s the Monday before the election. A stressful, tense, hold-your-breath kind of Monday.

But even in all of this, even though I recognize every hiccup that might bubble up in front of me, there was this thing that happened that made me more grateful to be right here than maybe anything else.

The girls reached out and texted me something. A small blip of a something, but it was something all the same. A big something if you’re sitting in my shoes. And so when I journeyed to the post office to drop off all of my packaged-up orders, I swung by the House-on-the-Hill and dropped off some Halloween plates.

Just a small, teeny-tiny little momentito in my day. But one that has me smiling, Monday and all!

Where she stops, nobody knows…

September 2, 2020

Remember the tiny metal-and-air merry-go-rounds we used to ride at the playground?

Not the fancy ones you might be thinking of – not the ones made of horses and dragons, ones that would go up and down, and parents would take pictures, and a grown-up would take tickets for admission. Oh no. These were no-frills metal playground equipment all the way. A circle platform of sorts, topped with metal pipes that came out of the center and divided the merry-go-round into 8 pieces, or there abouts. If the playground was fancy enough (and the equipment was new enough that the paint wasn’t worn through), the different sections of the platform would all be painted different colors.

Yes – those merry-go-rounds.

I feel as if I just climbed off, and my brains are still scrambling around, shrieking just like the kids would. And just as my vision adjusts and I have my bearings…I stand up, turn 90 degrees to the left, and plonk myself down again.

My brain isn’t scrambling anymore; my heart isn’t scrambling any more. I feel so absolutely different. And…at peace.

I just wish I could tell them that I’m okay. This fundamental shift is okay.

Good thing chicken soup comes in big batches.

February 20, 2018

My mom’s chicken soup is one of the few recipes I can make that tastes exactly like my mom’s. When you’re missing your mom, this is important. All those almost-right recipes are still tasty, but every once in awhile, you want something that tastes like home. Say, for instance, when you’re sick as a dog.

Yep.

Wednesday night it was Gracie. She went from slightly sniffly to so-congested-she-wanted-to-fall-over-dead in the space of a few hours. I checked her for fever a hundred-million times, but she wasn’t ever warm. I figured it was the bug that was going around, let her stay home Thursday and Friday, and by Friday night she was mostly better, Saturday she was practically cured.

Bee-girl pulled the same stunt Sunday night. She had been fine all day, and then all of a sudden, she said her throat hurt and that she had a headache and went to bed. Then she got up and asked for cough medicine. I let her sleep in on Monday, and when she got up, she said she had a headache. She also looked like she got hit by a truck. I felt her head and hooboy, yes, my baby girl was a little warm. I took her temp – 102.1°. Urgent Care had a two-hour wait, during which we both took a nap (and I prayed I wasn’t falling victim to the same flu) and then went in for confirmation.

Poor Bee-baby. If you know her, you know she bounces rather than moves, never sits sit, is always scheming and planning, and moving. Not yesterday. She laid her head on my shoulder (and baked me with her fever), laid down on the exam table, meekly submitted to the mask and 8034 hand sanitizer sessions. She was sick. But not with the flu, apparently. Her flu test came back negative, oddly enough. And this is not a girl who gets a fever with any other bugs. So they loaded her up with Tamiflu in case it was too early for positive flu results, antibiotics in case it was something else, and a school note to stay out all week if needed.

I was texting back and forth with their Dad and Stepmom while all this was going on. And don’t you know that they were both sick, too. The Ex was so sick that he ended up at Urgent Care later that night, but his flu test came back positive. We can’t catch a break!

So their house has become the quarantine facility. I dropped Bee-girl off after I got her meds and she went right to sleep. Gracie and I huddled at home, hoping we evacuated the outbreak monkey quick enough. We should move the girls step-sis and niece into Bee’s (freshly laundered and bleached) room until everyone is okay!

And so tonight after I make chicken for dinner, I’ll pull out the giant soup pan – see! we even call it the “soup pan”! – and make some chicken soup. We only make it in the giant pan, so it only comes in giant batches. Sometimes it’s annoying because we can’t finish the soup, but I don’t think that will be the case this time.

Chicken soup to the rescue! Maybe I should mix the tamiflu right into the pan. Yeah?

It’s going to be a very long month.

July 11, 2017

It’s only been three days. Wait, no – scratch that. Two days. I saw the girls the day before yesterday. But two days feels like three days; it feels a long longer than even “just” three! The girls are spending their month of summer visitation with their dad, and it feels like an eternity.

When the girls were little – those late toddler years and early school years – July was a much needed respite from broken nights of sleep and exhausted late evening hours filled with whining and bickering. I could sleep in sometimes as much as 45 whole minutes on work mornings if I didn’t need to drop the girls off at daycare, or, later, twenty minutes if I didn’t need to drop them off at Stepmom’s. I could spend evenings hanging at Crisanna’s pool, or on my own patio in a lounge chair reading a book. I could cook grown-up meals with herb-crusted chicken and asparagus or mac&cheese that didn’t involve shapes. It was a delirious month-long staycation, even though there was still work and responsibility. I still got to see Bee and Gracie for dinner two nights a week, and I still got to keep my weekends, and that was just enough time to enjoy fun summer activities, but take a break from each other so we could leap into each others’ arms and finish off the summer with gusto and renewed appreciation for one another’s company. And that’s just how it worked out.

But then this thing happened when my daughters morphed from little kids with all the trappings of early childhood (tantrums, stubbornness, grouchies, minds of their own, the Up And Down Bedtime Brigade, , vivid imaginations in the middle of the night, picky appetites…) into imaginative and delightful kids in the thick of middle childhood, and then Young Adults and burgeoning Actual People who I would be honored to call my friends. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m their mama, not their friend. I am not afraid to pull rank or put my foot down. I set the rules, and I expect them to be followed. Without fail. There are consequences for rule-breakage. And there are rewards when toes stay on the right side of the line. And for the most part, that’s how it goes, generally. I have good kids. Kids I enjoy spending time with. Kids I like watching – and discussing – movies with, or participating in readathons with, or going adventuring with. It’s fun! It’s not fun all the time, but enough of the times.

Enough of the time for me to feel it keenly this year. More this year than other years. Because my house is really empty this year. This year there is no boyfriend or boyfriend’s extremely willful kindergardner-who-acts-like-a-toddler. This year there is no puppy-dog to hang out with, or cuddle with, or talk to, or go on runs with. It was more than two years ago when I picked out the boyfriend, and more than three years ago when I adopted the puppy-dog, and that long ago the girls were still in the blossoming stages of middle childhood. Young enough that I still needed the break. Long enough ago that things were different.

And so July is passing by turtle slow. There are 90 minutes left before I’ll see the girls again and enjoy my mid-week sleepover. A week-and-a-half before my next weekend with them. Seventeen more sleeps before vacation. And after vacation, July will be over and I will have survived it for one more year! And, if my memory serves, almost immediately after that, there will some sort of incident that comes with an inevitable rock re-entry that will make me wish we were still back in July.

But that, like July, will pass. My girls will be home and all will be well.

All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Or, so I’ve been told.

My best of times, worst of times Mother’s Day.

May 15, 2017

Mother’s Day is never an easy day for me.

I’m filled with gratitude for this amazing village that surrounds me, helping me to be the best me – as they step in to designate hit for me when needed – and helping to raise my girlies for me. I have great sisters (birth sisters and accumulated sisters), cousins, friends, and the best dang stepmom I could have dreamed of. So many people help keep us upright and I am blessed!

But even with all of that happy, there’s the reality of my own mom. Mother’s Day goes in both directions. And my mom is…not how I remember my mom. But I still need to honor Mom as she is. I called her and let her talk for as long as she could. I talked to her about what was going on with us, and she didn’t have much to add from her end. But I know it meant a lot to her to hear from us. Kim and Rhi were there, so I felt like I was, too. Talking – even when she’s obviously having a bad spell – is good for her.

But it wrecked me. Seeing Mom be Not-Mom is always a gutpunch. On Mother’s Day, even more so.

So.

But let’s rewind. The girls and I were having an epic, wonderful weekend. We had a dance party on Friday night, and then after we wore ourselves out with wii-dancing, we played board games and talked and talked and talked. Everyone got along and it was great!

Saturday was the same. The girls went on errands with me without complaining, we went summer clothes shopping for Gracie (who has outgrown all of her clothes since spring), and Bee found a thing or two. She had more that she had picked out, but when I would point out that they wanted $20 for a tank top, she decided herself that it was ridiculous. Watching her carefully weight wants and needs, and the spending of my money, it was glorious!

After shopping, Bee knocked out her project and did it with minimal fuss. Gracie ran out grocery shopping with me, like she does, and I only had minimal grumbling when I made her. She put away the groceries when I got back while I helped Bee finish her project. Bee even wielded the hot glue gun all by herself! And the project was AMAZING:

Bee made the house and lined up the cotton and grapes. It was my idea to do a beginning, middle, and end slide on a rolling paper background, wrapped around two pencils to wind and unwind the paper scenes. (I am so frickin proud of my idea to mount the pencils on push pins that I super-glued to the base. The pencils went onto the push pins with the eraser. That way the bottom was attached firmly, but the pencils could still twirl. Genius, right?!) And then Saturday night the girls kept asking to do something as a family! Something as a family! Please? So we watched movies and had make-up tutorials that we re-enacted on ourselves. Don’t ask me how late I let them stay up! Because they weren’t arguing and we were having fun all together.

And then actual Mother’s Day showed up. Bee decorated all my usual seats with scarves, to make it fancy. The girls got ready for church and gave me a million hugs and told me how much they loved me. It was lovely.

After church, they came home and we opened cards and…no gifts. The cards were nice – don’t get me wrong! But – and here’s where I feel like a horrible person who’s a little materialistic, but let me explain how it’s not – I know I shouldn’t take how my Ex sees my value as a mom by him helping the girls get me a gift for Mother’s Day, but I do. I know he appreciates me – we get along so much better now and we’re honest to god friends, like I was at one point afraid we never would be. I’m close with his new wife, the girls’ stepmom. We call ourselves sister wives! ha! But I can’t say the lack of gifts didn’t hurt a little. I felt like I wasn’t worth the effort. My sister Kim helped the girls get me something, just in case, and it was lovely. Bee picked out a season of Victoria, that she and I could bond over together. (Kim’s right – time period costuming is definitely in our future!) And Gracie got me a bouquet of roses that she arranged.

But, after Gracie arranged the flowers and I got big hugs after church….everything went downhill in a hurry. The girls bickered all afternoon. They entrenched themselves in the living room and turned into zombies, playing Minecraft. I had to do laundry. I had to load the dishwasher. No one wanted to do anything fun with me. My afternoon of watching Victoria wasn’t realized. They were busy. No one wanted anything to do with me. I had my heartbreaking conversation with my mom and the girls had their turns talking with her. And then they went back to…not me. Which, I could have handled in small portions. I don’t expect every single moment to be devoted to me. I just wanted some sort of acknowledgment that it was Mother’s Day and I mattered. That they liked spending time with me. Without me asking. Just one activity together. Like the rest of the weekend!

Dinner was more of the same. Bee asked if she had to make dinner. Why couldn’t I do it. (Sigh.) They watched me set the table. I finished first and rather sit and talk to them at the table while they ate, I just got up and left. I shut my door. You’d think they’d realize I was hurt. They definitely got it when I came out, hours later, and was crying. I had to clear up the leftovers. The girls went right back to Minecrafting in the same seats they had been in since they got home from church. I told them through tears how hurt I was and how they had ruined my day, since they only came to talk to me when they were complaining and tattling about their sister.

So, no. Mother’s Day wasn’t my favorite. So many things went wrong. And no one took any trouble to make it right.

I could have kept quiet. I could have just sighed and hoped next year would be better. But I decided to write about it because this is the truth of what happened. It might hurt some people’s feelings. I don’t mean it to. I just needed to write it out, to purge my hurt feelings.

And maybe things will be better.

Teenagerhood is coming. It is coming.

January 18, 2017

<….sound of goblin drums…>

<Oooh, wait…maybe of Twister violins….>

Because it’s already here!

Yes, go ahead and ask me how my day was yesterday. Oh, I’m so glad you asked! My ex-husband called last night. On the home phone, no less. We never use the home phone any more. The only peeps who use that are my parents and telemarketers, neither of whom usually call that late. (It wasn’t that late, maybe 8ish?) I don’t know what made me look at the home phone, because I never do that any more either. But I did. And it was my Ex. So I answered.

Gracie was insisting she had to bring her lunch to school the next day (today). Did I know anything about that? Uh, no. But yesterday was her first day back to school since the weekend. So maybe something popped up? Oh, but she was refusing to tell him why.

Oh, yes – you read that right. Refusing to tell him why. REFUSING.

You can see why steam was pouring out of my ears.

Anger wasn’t even my first response though. I was so happy my Ex had called! I love this whole Pull Together, Win Together thing. It bodes well for the next few years. You know, the Tough Teenagery Years that were suddenly dumped right in our laps.

After I cheered a little in my head, I moved right on to confusion. Because Gracie hasn’t once ever pulled anything like that. She’s a goody two-shoes. She might whine when she’s in A Mood. And yeah, there was the whole “lying about texting her friends” thing. But one bump in all the tween years we’ve braved so far? Not bad. So what was with the sudden obstinence? And how the heck were we going to deal with it?!

I told my Ex that I would call her (he was out with Bee), and see if she would talk to me, and get back to him. So I called Gracie-girl, who sounded as confused at a late-night call (I never call either – we’re a texting family) as I was. I explained what was going on, using my best concerned voice, and she still sounded confused. And maybe a little whiny. She had told Dad, she said. She hadn’t refused, she said. She told him she wanted to take her lunch to school, just because. Not that she needed to take it.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she just kept saying she needed stuff from the store to take for her lunch, and when pressed for a reason she said just because, and the manner in which it was delivered came across as less than straight. Or if her version of what happened was completely different from what actually happened. I have no idea. And that’s between my Ex and Gracie.

However: I explained to Gracie that she can’t ever not answer, if that’s what happened. I patiently explained to her that her dad must have been so worried and concerned if he called me. She seemed to understand. I told her that if it’s a want, not a need (language we use frequently at home), that she can’t expect her dad to drop everything to go to the store if he doesn’t want to. That it’s selfish to even get whiny about it. She could negotiate it, ask nicely, trade chores, whatever, but it’s not something he has to do. And that she probably owed him an apology when he got home. That they needed to talk it out.

I called my Ex back and told him what I had found out. He said he would talk to that Gracie-girl of ours.

And I spent much of the night texting my bestie whose (amazing) daughter is a senior in high school. They have had a very similar relationship as Gracie and I. I knew she would have ninja mom answers for my new teenagery kiddo issues. She not only had all the answers I needed, but she immediately asked the obvious question that I had completely overlooked: was Gracie feeling left out, or was she being teased for buying her lunch? Which, dude, would explain so many things. Kathy gave me the best advice, talked me off the ledge (with a later assist from my sister Rhi), and made sure I was able to sleep instead of mulling over the problem all night long. AND Kathy did it all in the late hours of Eastern Standard Time, and I know she’s not a night-time person. Because I needed my friend. And my sister finished up our talk with the magic good-night tradition – a magical incantation she would say to everyone every night before bed when she was a teeny tiny toddler. Those magic words actually were just what I needed to hear before bed, and I didn’t even know until I heard them. My village is awesome, you guys!

So, I guess Gracie and I will be having a conversation tonight. I don’t care if she takes her lunch every day or some days or whatever – as long as I’m not making it! All that matters to me is that she eats, and not just junk food. If she’s being teased for buying her lunch because she’s the only one, then she can take it. That’s never been an issue. I just want her to be honest with us. And for sure she needs to answer when we ask questions. Or some poor pitiful penguin with be without a phone for a certain length of time. Not answering is a no-go.

The teenagery years. I thought I had more time. But at least I know I’ll have a lot of help as I muck my way through them!

Growing up is hard to do.

September 20, 2016

Does it seem to anyone else as if our children grew up all of a sudden? Like they were Lost Boys and Girls and the spell was cast and all of a sudden we have tweens in our houses? One day Gracie’s living it up in large sweaters and size 12 jeans off the rack; by the end of the summer, Miss Thang is all hips and stuff and we’re having to try on every pair of pants from the juniors section because she needs a different size in every brand. (Welcome to our world, sweetheart! It sucks!) Oh, and she’s buying shirts and dresses in the Women’s section. I’m not ready for that!! (But I did it anyway, because the alternative was for Gracie to walk around sans clothing. Clothing is good.)

Gracie’s in junior high now and everything is changing, not just the clothes. Although I am glad that she’s all about shopping now instead of “Just grab me something!” while she lounges at home. I am not interested in going back six times to find pants that fit. So there’s the shopping need that suddenly appeared, and the social butterfly aspect to joining ALL THE THINGS!!! (Ugh. Which means all the driving for the parentals.) She hangs out with all of her friends, and if she isn’t at their house, it’s a good bet that she’s Facetiming with them. Jeff grumbles from time to time that she’s getting unlimited technology time, but I see it as being on the phone. Most of us were spending oodles of time on the phone with our friends when we were in junior high. I’m glad it took so long for it to finally hit her, but here it is. She’s starting to explore the mall with her pack of buddies, without the parents being right there with them, and it delighted her. She was still surprised when she tentatively asked if she could go to the movies with some friends without grown-ups and I told her of course she could – she was in junior high. As long as she stayed in one place, that was more than okay. All the freedom! Okay, not really – a little bit of freedom to start teaching her how to do it responsibly.

Which brings us to the make-up dilemma.

Let me first say that I am not a big make-up person. My mom never wore any make-up ever. Naturally, she didn’t teach me anything about it – the little I learned, I learned from my friends. I didn’t have older sisters or cousins who could teach me. I never thought to ask my aunts. So my friends were there. And even still, I’m very basic. A minimum amount of eyeliner, mascara, and some concealer under my eyes. Done! I can teach Gracie and Bee the basics, but the plan all along was to take them to Ulta or a spa or somewhere to get makeup lessons. And Gracie gets it already – she shows me pictures on her phone of twelve-year-olds (or younger) all done up ridiculously and scoffs at them. She rolls her eyes at people trying to be who they’re not. And Gracie is very basic. I don’t have to worry about her right now. She’s pretty basic herself. She’s part (mostly?) tomboy. She’s not gonna go overboard yet. Maybe I’ll have to worry later, but she’s fine right now. And she wants to wear mascara.

The question came more as, “Mom, when can I wear make–up?” I had been thinking about the question because I knew it was going to come up soon. She is in junior high. Even my conservative dad let me wear make-up (mascara and lip gloss) in junior high. So I asked Gracie if her bestie Millie wore any. Millie’s mom has very similar parenting styles to ours, but is a leetle bit more conservative. Millie can’t sit in the front seat and has stricter policies about when she needs to be home with her family. I get it, it’s all cool, I just wanted to see where she stood on the make-up front. If she was letting Millie wear mascara, I was probably correct in leaning towards saying Gracie could.

And here’s why – light mascara makes very little difference. Yes, Gracie could pile it on, but we’d see that. (Unless she took it off. And if we’re going down that path, we have to admit if we say no, she could put it on and take it all off before we see her. So…) You can’t see mascara really unless you wear eyeliner behind it to make it pop. I think it’s a good stepping stone for Gracie. Like training wheels. She’ll feel more confident about herself without big, scary results.

The problem is that her dad isn’t really fond of the plan. In fact, he shut it down cold. He thinks it would be better to wait for Gracie’s birthday. He said he could live with it if she was thirteen. And I get that argument – it does sound bad if you look at it like 12 year olds wearing makeup. But if you think of it as a junior high kid wearing make-up, it doesn’t sound as bad. And that’s what she is. I didn’t turn thirteen until the end of the summer after 7th grade, and I got mascara.

I presented Gracie’s dad with my reasons why I think she should be allowed. I let Gracie try it on and took a picture to show how little difference it makes. It will really just make Gracie feel better. More grown up. More confident. More like she belongs. Yes, deciding to allow make-up so Gracie feels like she belongs might seem like a silly reason, but it’s monumental to her. And junior high is so crazy to begin with. I want to save my “no”s for bigger, more important things.

What do you guys think? Should the measuring stick be set at junior high? Or 13? Or something else entirely?

In which we make our hair hijinx come true.

May 31, 2016

If you’ll remember, one of the things we planned to do over our Memorial Day weekend was to dip dye Gracie’s hair, and oh by the way, her friends were coming over to take part in our adventures, too.Eesh!

I was a little unsure at first, and so I tried to scuttle our plans: I made Gracie research school policies, thinking her ambitions would be thwarted by the conservative school system. Nope. Hair had to be neat and presentable and not a distraction in the classroom. (You know – for the last half-day of school that her hair would be dyed.) Then I made her thoroughly research what we would need to do, and what we would need to buy. And that is how the Kool-Aid dip dying system was planned. All we needed was Kool-Aid…and maybe some lemon juice to lighten Gracie’s hair. I also made Gracie inform her friends that their moms had to text me their permission to dye their hair – I wasn’t gonna get in trouble because someone forgot to ask! After that, we were Go for launch.

One friend wasn’t able to come over after Bee’s swim party (Gracie got to bring two friends), so it was down to Gracie and her bestie. We stopped to grab Kool-Aid packets in the colors they wanted, and set about making this happen.

Hair

First, we boiled three cups of water for four packets of Kool-aid. We added the color after the water was boiling, waited for it to dissolve, and then shut the water off and waited for it to cool. Gracie set the table with piles of old towels, just in case we made a mess, and found two bowls the girls could use to soak their ends.

Hair2

The girls created a tower of buckets to prop up their phone, on which they watched video after video while soaking their hair. 50 minutes later, Audrey had bright red ends (from her purple packets!!), and Gracie had…nothing.

The girls did some quick research and we tried soaking Gracie’s hair in lemon juice and one tablespoon vegetable oil for 30 minutes, and then 30 more minutes in the kool-aid, this time in the purple. Still nothing. I swear I had a picture of the After shots for Audrey, at least, but I think we were so busy that I forgot to have Gracie send me one.

Gracie spent that night researching other options, which mostly ended in her whining and asking to have her hair professionally colored. And nope. That would cost a hundred million dollars all for vanity hair ends. She didn’t have enough money for that and I certainly wasn’t paying for it. Auntie Rhi came to the rescue and said there was hair chalk at Ulta that might work. Gracie was afraid that it would be temporary and only last one day, but it was something.

So Sunday we trucked out to Ulta and got hair chalk and the wonderful assistant there showed us Splat hair dye. In alllllll the colors. And you guys – only ten dollars! Totally doable! The girls each picked out a hair chalk (in case the dye didn’t work) and a hair dye. Gracie went with purple (probably she thought that would result in some color after seeing what happened to Audrey), and Bee went with red.

So! Sunday afternoon was Take 2!! (You guys, I am an awesome mom. I really wasn’t planning on spending my entire weekend doing everyone’s hair.)

The kits came with bleach to help strip dark hair. Another reason I was glad we were just dip dying the ends – if all else failed and we ruined it, we could always cut them off! I mixed the bleach and applied to Gracie’s hair. It said it could take up to 50 minutes before it “took”, but after just 10 minutes, we had this:

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It was working! The next step was rinsing, and then blow drying her hair. Here’s where I missed Audrey – the girls had had so much fun helping each other and tending to each other’s hair the night before. On Sunday, I was the one who was doing all the rinsing! Although Gracie managed the hair drying:

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Then we had to actually apply color and let that sit for 30 minutes. Which we did, and I decided not enough color had set. After 20 more minutes, we rinsed her hair (ugh, ultimate mess!!) and ta da!

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I won all the mama awards! Gracie-girl was SOOOOOO happy! She flounced and pranced and studied herself in the mirror all afternoon. She now has colored hair to match her bestie for the last day of school!

Then it was Miss Bee’s turn. She wasn’t as easy to color – she kept complaining that her neck was cramping and started crying and really wasn’t as sold on the “It hurts to be beautiful” mantra that Gracie had wholly bought into. But after just 30 minutes of color (and a lot more hassle rinsing), we had this:

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Yeah, that’s what happens when you convince your mama to dip dye your entire pony tail – a girl on fire!

I loved the results as much as the girls did, but I did have one awful, terrible moment that filled my insides with ice water while I was blow drying Bee’s hair – I forgot to run the dip dye scheme past their dad. Shit. I would have been pretty upset if he did this without checking with me, and here I had done the same thing. I was so worried about whether the schools would allow it that I had forgotten to check with their dad! Not okay. Thankfully, after I texted a very sincere apology, he was okay. But seriously – the most almost-trouble I’ve been in in awhile. Silly Katie.

Other than that scare, I think the girls’ hair adventures came out wonderfully! We’ll see how long the dye lasts. I’m sure I’ll get requests again as soon as it’s gone. My girls love love love their colorful hair!