Unexpected Perfection

Things have felt difficult lately. The kids are out of school and Camp Mommy is not going very well. I haven't been getting as much work done as I need to; Ry has had to do more than his share. Because we all do everything together – especially this summer – it has just been too much. It feels too hard. No one is having fun. 

"I need a break. We need a break." Every day, the same sentences.

And then came the holiday. Usually one of my favorites, but this year I just couldn't get excited about it. We let our plans go until the very last minute. "What do you want to do?" I would ask Ry and get the same question in response. Endlessly. 

But once in awhile, when I most need it and least expect it, something perfect happens. This time, perfection was made up of dozens of tiny moments, strung together into just what we needed.

It was taking the kids to the drive-in, hoping they would fall asleep before the second half of the double feature so that Ry and I could watch it – and they actually did.

It was the way that a day at the lake stretched into four days and three nights, because we just couldn't leave. 

It was watching T jump off the dock "all by himself" and not cry when he went under water.

It was hearing A say "Auntie La-la, can I feel the baby kick again?" 

It was sitting on the deck with four generations laughing, talking and remembering. (I won't mention the hair braiding and the ice cream truck, because then you will just think it was too perfect. And it almost was.)

It was sunset cruises on the pontoon boat, watching fireworks displays from all sides of the lake.

It was grandparents listening for little feet first thing in the morning, so they could wisk tiny humans away for breakfast before they woke up Mama and Dada. 

It was having no service on cell phones, being happily disconnected and unplugged.

It was seeing Ry relax and unwind, playing with the kids until their stomachs hurt from laughing so hard.

It was the way A tried to kiss the frog that Uncle Nick caught for her, and the way she proudly carried it around until it finally hopped away from her. 

It was watching the tiny humans play together, nicely, for most of the time.

It was completely disregarding bedtime, and being rewarded when they slept late the next morning.

It was being in the company of people with whom you can say anything or nothing at all and having both things be equally comfortable.

It was going to leave and having no idea where my shoes were, because I hadn't needed them for four days.

It was all those moments, and so many more. It was perfection. It was our much needed break. 

Tomorrow, we will go back to normal. I know there will be fall out of so many days with lax rules and nights with late bedtimes. But tonight – as I get ready to tuck them in for what I expect will the the easiest bedtime in recent history – it feels like it was worth whatever price they decide I will have to pay tomorrow.

 

How NOT to Mow the Lawn

For the first seven years of our marriage, mowing the lawn was strictly Ry's thing. Sort of an "anything inside the house is my responsibility, anything outside the house is yours" arrangement. Then one day, I noticed that the lawn was really long because Ry was out of town. And I realized that he would come home and need to mow it. So I did what any good wife would do – I mowed it.

Now, before you think I'm getting all up on my high horse and bragging about what an awesome wife I am, let me explain. I mowed the lawn so my husband would not have to mow it when he got home. But also so that when he got home I could throw the kids in his general direction and say, "oh they missed you so much they just want to play with you. Exclusively you. For at least an hour. While I lock myself in my room with a book and a glass of wine."

Ry was so relieved not to have to mow the lawn, I don't even know if he questioned why I did it. So the next time the lawn needed to be mowed, I just did it. Because here's the other thing I learned – if you volunteer to mow the lawn, you get at least an hour a) outside, b) listening to whatever you want, c) without responsibility of watching children and d) with a cool adult beverage either during or immediately upon completion. I wish the lawn would grow faster.

Except for this one thing. It turns out I know nothing about maintaining the lawn mower. So, I present to you, my tips for what NOT to do when mowing the lawn: 

  1. If you can't figure out why the mower won't restart, do not keep pulling the cord "one more time." You will get a bruise on your hand.
     
  2. If you decide that it needs oil, don't just keep adding more oil to the oil tank. I think you're supposed to measure it or something. 
     
  3. Also, if you decide that it needs oil, make sure the mixture you are adding to the oil tank is, in fact, oil. 
     
  4. If you call your husband from outside the house for help because the mower is smoking and he doesn't answer because he is nappng, don't continue to try to fix it on your own.
     
  5. If Google tells you to siphon the mystery liquid out of the oil tank, do not try to fashion an implement for this purpose yourself out of a bulb syringe and a drinking straw held together with electrical tape. 
     
  6. When you go to the hardware store to get materials to fix your mower, do not pretend you know what you are doing. It will save time for both you and the hardware store guy, because he will immediately direct you to a small engine repair shop instead of trying to tell you how to fix it yourself. 
     
  7. Do not try to fit your lawn mower in the back of your SUV while your children are still in their car seats to bring it to aforementioned repair shop. There is not enough room in a Kia Sorento for children and a lawn mower. Shocking, I know.
     
  8. Do not ignore the "flash flood warning" alert that the National Weather Service sends to your phone as you are leaving the house. They mean it. No one at the small engine repair shop needs to know what color bra you have on under your tank top, but they will after it pours buckets on your head as you unload the mower and walk it inside. The good news is that the initial $50 quote will somehow end up just being $17 for some reason.

So now, I find myself at a crossroads. Am I the kind of wife who will persevere through this little setback, or will this forever be known as the summer I flirted with being the kind of wife who mows the lawn? Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe the fumes from all that attempted siphoning have gone to my head, but as soon as this rain passes, I think I'm going to finish mowing the lawn. Hopefully Ry will get me a beer. 

Update: One more thing – do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to take the lawn mower out of the car after it visits the repair shop unless you want your car to smell like eau de gasoline. Will this lesson NEVER END?!

I Can’t Be Good at Everything

I have been doing kids' activities for over five years now. First, there was baby yoga. Not mommy and baby yoga, where you integrate your baby into the poses, or mommy yoga where everyone totes a sleeping baby in a bucket seat into the studio and lines them up along the wall while they work out. This was yoga for the baby. (Are you imagining about a dozen new moms, equal parts awed and shellshocked by their teeny tiny humans, totally DYING for adult interaction? If so, you nailed it.) I, obviously, wore my yoga pants anyway, in solidarity with the baby.

Then we did Music Together. We still do Music Together. I have been to so many sessions of Music Together that I have long since memorized every song in every collection. When our music teacher tries to hand me the new music and CD at the beginning of each new semester, I stare at her with dead eyes and say "Really? Do I have to take another copy?" This usually gets a few gasps or dirty looks out of the newbies in class. Soon enough, ladies, you'll feel my pain. My "JohnTheRabbitPlayingInTheKitchenSheSellsSeashells" for the millionth time on repeat pain.

We briefly did gymnastics. T was "that kid" in class – he didn't listen, he had to pee six times during the 45 minute class, he distracted the other kids. So the day another kid jumped directly on top of his head in the ball pit, I figured that was as close to a neck/spinal cord injury as we needed to get and left in the middle of class. Never to return again. I think I heard cheering from inside as we made our exit into the parking lot, but I can't be sure. 

And not to be outdone by T the gymnast, A became a tiny dancer this year. We got to class more weeks than not, not always on time but always appropriately attired – hair up and everything. After enduring several months of ballet with about a dozen other 2-4 year olds, we were "rewarded" with a ballet recital that was equal parts adorable and disturbing.  

Most recently, Ry and I were so convinced of our proficience at kids' activities that we I volunteered us to coach t-ball. While that could be, and likely will be, a post all its own, it is worth noting that everyone had "fun" and no one ended up in the ER. So there.

Anyway. The point is – I am not new at kids' activities. This is not my first time. Obviously, I can take on another activity – a two on one activity, even. Which is how I found myself with two children enrolled in kinderswim. How hard could it be? You show up, hand the kids off to the swim instructor and Instagram observe them for half an hour. Then you collect them, dry them, and go home. Right? RIGHT?!

WRONG. You have NO IDEA how wrong.

For some reason, I am physically unable to do the following seemingly simple things:

  • Arrive On Time. It is summer in Maine. What does that mean? Road construction. Where does it mean that? EVERYWHERE. A drive that should take 15 minutes can easily take 45. You know what happens in that magical 30 minute fluctuation? YOUR KIDS MISS SWIM CLASS. 
  • Dress Appropriately. It is "summer" in  Maine. What does that mean? That it is still, on most days, jeans and long sleeved shirt weather. Except inside the pool area, which is a balmy 140 degrees Celsius. Okay, not really, because I think that is biologically impossible but it's really freaking hot. It's like a sweat lodge. 
  • Dress and Undress Them Appropriately. Usually, we arrive with tiny humans already in swimsuits. Half the battle, right? Absolutely not. Trying to corral two children out of the pool area, into the shower (without them streaking across the locker room), into a dressing room, and into clothing and shoes is im-freaking-possible. You have NO IDEA. I know the parent to child ratio is only 1:2, but with all the changing into clothes while mostly still wet and trying not to flash all the other kids and parents and whathaveyou, it feels like 1:20. It's like I'm Michelle Duggar all of a sudden. And because of all the sweating (see above) my hair kind of looks like hers.
  • Keep My Cool. The sweating (me). The orders (me). The ignoring (them). The threatening (me). The crying (everyone). It is wicked, wicked stressful. By the time we make it to the parking lot (a full 15-20 minutes after the other students and parents), I fully expect a police officer or someone from DHS to be waiting to take the kids away from me. "No way you are the mother, ma'am. This is clearly your first day with these people. They don't even look like you."

But the worst part about it? In all those other activities, I may not be doing the best job but I am never doing the worst job. I always have it a little more together than someone. In swim class, I am the worst by a wiiiiiiddddeeee margin. And it is not. Getting. Easier.

Don't worry. I have a plan. And no, it doesn't involve drills where we practice showering and dressing and not flashing people in a timely fashion, gracefully and without perspiring. Next semester, I am going to sign them up for the late afternoon session. So when I get home, I can cool myself off with a nice cold adult beverage. I totally earn it.

 

Come on, Mamas

My sister is working on this project. This project to help us mamas celebrate ourselves. She is trying to put together this slide show with pictures of mamas with a quote saying what they've learned about themselves over the past year. As women. As mamas. As guardians of tiny – or not-so-tiny – humans. To lift us up, during the one time each year that we allow ourselves to do that.

Here's the problem: we're not worthy. We don't think we're worthy. What do I mean? 

My people – my people who are my go-to people, the ones who I call sobbing because I'm sad, or I'm frustrated, or I dyed my hair bright freaking red – are silent over this request. And, when I press them, they say "I just don't know what to say. I don't have any good photos of myself." What I hear is "I'm not enough. As a mama, I am never enough." 

I know this because my own photo isn't done. Because I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I am never doing a good enough job with these tiny humans who have been entrusted to my care. I am failing them. Every. Single. Day.

But if you asked me to do this for any of my people, I would be able to give at least five reasons why they are a great mama. Five things have learned from them over these last twelve months about being a mama. So, anonymously, I say these things to them, my favorite people in the world. They know who they are.

  • One of you learned that sometimes doing the right thing by your kid means that you move to a better school district, you make the best of what turned out to be not what you thought, and you try to move again really quickly before your kid notices just what kind of place you ended up moving to. 
  • One of you learned that sometimes life can change in an instant, and you end up feeling so grateful that it ended up being okay after all. But you hug your kids and especially your husband a little tighter every day, just in case.
  • One of you learned that you can do really hard things. Like be a "tough mudder" and put on a brave face when hard things happen – like losing your family pet or your kid breaking a bone. Because when you tell them it will be okay, your tiny humans believe you. And that is amazing.
  • One of you learned that the third baby is not "one more." It is a LOT more. It is EXPONENTIALLY more. Even so, you are now a "party of five." And it is perfect.
  • One of you learned that being a stay-at-home mom is harder than you thought, and kind of lonely. And you miss your extended family, especially your own mom. But you are rocking it anyway. 
  • One of you learned that you're going to join this crazy ride that we call motherhood, and I know you're going to be a natural at it. 
  • One of you learned that sometimes you have to stop making sacrifices for other people and do what is right for you. Because at the end of the day, if the mama isn't happy then the tiny humans aren't happy. They know. They always know. 

But still….I don't know what I will say on my own photo. But I imagine it will be something like this.

"This year, I learned to breathe more. To yell less. And to wake up tomorrow and try again. And again. And again. It never gets easier, but I am learning to go easier on myself and on my tiny humans." 

So, if I asked you to participate in this project, and you didn't think you could – please reconsider. And if I didn't ask you, please leave a comment and tell me you want to join our little project.

Because if you care enough to think you aren't enough, I am willing to bet that you most certainly are. Xo.

 


 

In honor of Mother's Day and this project, I am going to do my first giveaway. The ROPES Maine was kind enough to send me a couple of their bracelets to help promote the blog. Obviously, I was over the moon.

One, because this is my first giveaway. Two, because bracelets from The ROPES are on my very short list of absolute favorite things. I have many, and my wrist feels naked without at least one. And three, because any time I can talk about Maine and the awesome things Mainers do and what a cool state we live in, I want to do that.

Here's how this first giveaway is going to work. If you submit a photo (via email to alwaysperfectlyimperfectblog@gmail.com or on the Facebook page) for the Mother's Day project, you are entered. If you leave a comment below (you don't have to be a mama to comment!), you are entered. (Up to two entries per person – one for a photo, one for a comment.) The giveaway ends Monday at 9 pm EST, and I will send the winner the green and gold bracelet show on the far right.

If you don't want to take a chance that you're going to win a ROPES bracelet here, or you want one in time for Mother's Day, there are some great local shops selling these. My favorite is spaces kennebunkport. They have a phenomenal website, too, in case you aren't local. 


UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!

A sincere thank you to everyone who participated in the Mother's Day video project. The final product is located here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jC7Vr_5ge6k&feature=youtu.be

Also, congratulations to Layne Woodward, our ROPES bracelet winner! Xo.

Itscocktailthirty On the Go Edition

Let's play a game. I will show you a few items that people have – in the past month – said made them think of me. When we are finished, there will be one multiple choice question to answer.

1. Adult Sippy Cup: 

There are so many times when I would love to have a glass of wine for outdoor itscocktailthirty but it is just not convenient. Problem solved. Although if the outside were opaque this would be even handier. "Wow, Leah ALWAYS has a coffee with her, doesn't she?" Ah, yes, I just love my "coffee." 
 
2. The Wine Rack:

This little gem actually solves two of my problems in one, theoretically. According to the Amazon description, it can "turn an A cup in to double Ds and sport your favorite beverage for yourself and your friends." Yes, because I'm sure friends will want to sip a beverage from a communal spout that has been warmed by my breasts for the past several minutes. Also, am I hoping that everyone is so intoxicated by the time we are finished sipping out of the "wine rack" that they don't notice the rapid deflation of my chest? Worth checking out for the tongue-in-cheek reviews alone, although I think some of them are dead serious. 

3. Wine Purse: 

Okay, in fairness this isn't actually marketed as a purse. But come ON. It is totally a purse. AmIright? It is also interesting to note that this was sent to me by multiple people. Apparently both wine and purses just scream "Leah" to my people. They know me so well.

Now the question and answer portion – 

From these product suggestions, should I expect:

a) To purchase one or all of these items for the upcoming summer months?
b) These items to arrive in the next month as birthday gifts?
c) To arrive home from my next girls' night out to an intervention because of a & b have occurred?

* Product credit to my partner in itscocktailthirty Steph, my good friend Marge and my hilarious cousin Courtney for being the first to call my attention to the above items.

 

For Boston

So, Boston. I've been keeping quiet, not watching the news, turning down the radio – basically burying my head in the sand over Boston. I claim Boston as my own the same way many of us do. I arrived in Boston when I was 18 and left when I was 24, and in those six years some of the very best times of my life happened. 

I feel the way about Boston that I bet many people do about home – the ones who don't return and settle a few towns away like I did. I don't visit enough, but when I do I feel like I'm reconnecting with something that I've lost track of, and I promise to come back sooner the next time.

This thing that happened hurts my heart. And I've decided that I'm going to let it. I don't want to get over it, not yet. I don't want to just be grateful for the fact that no one close to me was hurt or killed even though a few were thisclose. (But I am grateful. So, so grateful.) I want to acknowledge that a lot more was lost that day than lives and limbs. What happened Monday will change that city and that marathon forever. 

When I was in my early 20's, a friend from Boston was killed in a car accident. He was nineteen, and he was one of the best human beings I had ever known. It was a profound loss. The day of his funeral was a gorgeous sunny day, and that really pissed me off. In fact, everything that day pissed me off because the world didn't stop. Most of the world didn't even know  what it had lost. How dare the sun shine, how dare the world not stop when his life did?

I wonder if people feel that way in Boston. I cannot begin to imagine what the victims of this horrible thing and their families are feeling like, but I bet some of them feel like I did then. 

If I were still religious, I would pray but I think I've forgotten how to do even that. What I did instead, when I realized that this Boston thing was making me cry and lose sleep and not feeling better as the days go by, was go to the beach with the tiny humans. I don't even know if I realized why I was going until I got there. I could breathe easier. I could be quiet, and still, and figure it out.

And what I figured out is that to feel better, I've got to feel bad. In solidarity with my city, the city who gave me so much and made me the person that I am. I know Boston is strong. I know something like this can't break a place like that; but it can irrevocably change it. And that's what I'm most sad about. Boston is a city steeped in history – and this is a chapter that it just didn't need. Boston, you deserved so much better. 

I'm going to cry and be sad a little longer. Then I'm going to be brave and make plans to take the train into the city with the tiny humans. It's been too long since I've been "home", and something like this isn't going to keep me away.

 

 

To the 4C With Love

Our closest city is Portland, Maine. We've got a lot going on for a little city, but I generally have to travel out of state for "big" concerts. So when an artist whose entire collection I celebrate decides to grace the 4C (that's the Cumberland County Civic Center, for the non-Mainers) with a performance, I try to be there. 

Last night, we hit up the Carrie Underwood / Hunter Hayes show. And I could not help comparing this show to the last time I went to a show at the 4C, in 2003. Let's see…

Things that Have Changed: 

  • I am someone's wife. And also two someones' mom. Eek.
  • The seats are better when you have a grown-up budget instead of a college student budget.
  • I call it a night earlier. Refer to the first bullet point. I also leave before the end of the show because encores stress me out. We all know you're coming back out to sing your latest hit, why are you making us work so hard for it with all the extra standing and clapping? Geez. 

Things that Have Not Changed: 

  • I make friends in the line for the ladies' room. Maybe it's because I'm a Mainer. Maybe it's because a couple of adult beverages make me think I am a scintillating conversationalist. Either way, I do it every time.
  • I complain when they stop serving beer. If an artist is still on the stage, I want the option to still have an overpriced beer in my hand. Is that too much to ask, really?!
  • I think it's MY concert. Oh, you thought we were going to the concert to hear a famous person sing? Because I thought we were going to the concert so I could have a loud singalong with a famous person. Sorry about that.

I am always thrilled to get out and spend a night in Portland sans tiny humans. But possibly my favorite thing about this particular night out is that it was a last minute decision to treat my mom to the show for her birthday. It reminded me that she's to blame for my ladies' room chattiness and complaining about the lack of alcohol. But the whole leaving before the end of the show thing? That's ALL my dad. Perfect balance. I hope Ry and I can do as well by our tiny humans. 

Supermarket Saturday

Being self-employed, I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule than most people. There are ups and downs but the balance, thus far, has been favorable. I don't think I fully realized how favorable until this past Saturday, when I happened to swing by the grocery store around 8:30 am.Supermarket Saturday Shopping

A typical trip to the grocery store for me happens around 9:30 or 10 on a weekday morning with A, because that is when we have time. We grab a cart – which A generally refuses to ride in somewhere between root vegetables and protein bars – and wander up and down the aisles. We stop for the complimentary cookie in the bakery, we give a shout-out to the lobsters (poor guys) in seafood, and we usually throw down over candy or stuffed animals at the "seasonal items" endcap (see photo). A often makes friends with our elderly coshoppers or loudly asks me why the baby behind us in the checkout line is screaming so loud. (Yeah, like we've never been there. HA.)  It takes an hour, minimum, but most days we don't mind.

I had totally forgotten how the other half lives, so I thought I'd make a quick trip to the store before I started work on Saturday. Ha. HAHAHAHAHA. I walked in expecting a 20 minute "supermarket sweep"-esque experience; I walked out wondering where my freaking medal was for surviving that fiasco. Those people – those Saturday shoppers – are intense. You have to watch out for: 

  • Exercise Girl: It is Saturday before 9am, but she has already been to the gym. (She has the stretchy pants and gym hair to prove it.) Maybe she's tired, maybe she's hungry, but she looks like she will bite your hand if you get in front of her in the organic produce and smoothie section. Play through, exercise girl, play through. We both know my yoga pants haven't been to the gym in awhile and you could totally kick my ass. As an aside, though – wouldn't you be more comfortable in Whole Paycheck Foods? They have an entire organic smoothie bar. 
  • Couples: Ry and I haven't grocery coshopped since…um…EVER. So these people are completely foreign to me. I mean, on the one hand it's cute and I'm happy for them. On the other hand I feel the way about this that Harry feels about bringing someone to the airport – clearly the beginning of the relationship. (Please, please, puh-leeze tell me you are familiar with Harry.) And they are kind of a hazard. They only have eyes for each other – not for the people who are trying to get around them in the aisle. 
  • Ms. Efficient: This lady is all business, from the mom jeans to the sensible flats. She has scheduled this visit down to the minute, her grocery list is organized by section with corresponding coupons and she has those super handy grocery totes in the back of her car. You know, the ones that keep the stuff organized and prevent it from sliding all over the place. After this she has to go to the post office, the library, and the dry cleaners before she spends the rest of the day shuttling small people around to extracurricular activities. Stay out of her way. She will run your foot over and not look back – not because she's mean, just because she's on a schedule here.
  • The Mom With Kids: Ah, a fellow mama, who for whatever reason has to shop on the weekend with her tiny (or not so tiny) humans. I sympathize with her, and I am betting that she is here first thing on a Saturday morning for three reasons: 1) She has been up for many hours already so it's not "first thing" to her, 2) She has these people to herself – possibly by herself – all weekend and needs to get this part over with because 3) She will be harrassed all weekend because "they're hungry." Again. If she's behind me at the checkout, I'm paying for my box of wine and leaving it for her. 
  • Teenagers: Of course, the only teenagers who are up this early on a Saturday morning are the ones who work at the supermarket. And they. Are. EVERYWHERE. At every register. They giggle. They flirt. You know what they don't do? Pay attention to their customers or do anything particularly efficiently. (Yes, I know how old this makes me sound. But I was very nice and I did not complain to a manager or anything, because I realized that would officially make me old.) But it could have been worse. They could have called me "ma'am." 

When I finally emerged, I was grateful. One, that I had survived and managed to get everything on the list. And two, that I hopefully won't have to shop on a Saturday again for another six years. But if I do, I am pretty sure that whatever they charge for Pea Pod delivery is well worth it. 

 

Love is Love

Last Election Day, I wrote a post about marriage equality. It was a big deal to me, especially because the Maine legislature had already voted in favor of same sex marriage in 2009 before a ballot referendum resulted in a "people's veto" of this important law. It felt like our state's second chance to do the right thing.

Now that the issue is on a national stage, I feel much the same way, which is this:

I remember when I was growing up, I thought it was incredibly odd that my parents remembered segregation and the civil rights movement of the 60's. I was all, "dude, you guys are super old. That was, like, ages ago." Except that to them, it really wasn't. And in the grand scheme of American history, it really wasn't. Now, in 2012, on a day where I cast my vote in favor of a second term for our first African-American president, I want the same for my kids.
 
Here's what I mean. By the time my kids are in grade school, I want them to think marriage equality is a given. I want them to make snarky comments about how archaic and antiquated the thought process by which you tell Americans who they are and are not allowed to marry is. I want that so badly it hurts.
 
I generally do not talk politics socially – I do not think it is polite, and I am not particularly passionate or well informed about many political issues. But this marriage equality thing doesn't feel political – it feels like a human rights issue.  (You can read the rest of the original marriage equality post here.)
 
Three little words about three little words – Love is Love.

 

That Time I Learned About Stripping

(I wrote this post for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week's sentence is "One time, when I was bored out of my mind, I…")

I am pretty sure the terms "cabin fever" and "stir crazy" were invented in Northern New England during a winter like the one we are having. It has been snowing for months. And it just. Won't. Stop. I don't even check the weather anymore. That way, if the sunshine makes an appearance it is a really lovely surprise.
 
It is March. It is officially spring, says the calendar. A quick look outside affirms that we are actually stuck in some bizarre Groundhog Day in mid-January. Snow, ice, COLD. Repeat.
 
We have done snowmen, and snow angels, snow balls, sledding and snow shoeing ad nauseum. We are tired of hot chocolate. We hate snow pants, hats, mittens, boots – the whole thing. We want to go outside and play, and we'd prefer it if we could throw on just a light jacket to do so. We want to open the windows and air out the lingering winter cold germs without risking hypothermia.
 
To say we are bored would be an understatement. Which may or may not excuse what I did a month or so ago. It went a little something like this.
 
Me, on the phone with my best girlfriend: "I'm so bored. I need a change. I think I should cut my hair or dye it or something. Maybe I should dye it red." (My natural color is dark blonde, but it hasn't been without highlights since I turned fifteen. So – blonde hair to red.)
K, best girlfriend: "Ooooh, do it. I just dyed mine black. Don't be a weenie." (She actually said weenie, I am totally not making that up.)
Me: "Okay but I think I'm going to get a box dye. So Ry will know I'm committed to our New Year's budget resolution." 
K: "You can do this. Call me when you're at the store." 
 
I did it. I changed my blonde hair to red. But not quite the Marcia Cross red I was going for. More punk rock Manic Panic red. I group texted out a photo, and God love my girlfriends, they were supportive(ish). My kids insisted that I looked sort of like Merida and sort of like Ariel. My husband just shook his head and said, "that's going to wash out, right?", then"why would you try to do something like that yourself?"  
 
The longer the color was on, the worse it got. I sent an SOS to my friend Deanna, who is a hair stylist turned stay-at-home mom. She has saved me when I desperately needed highlights and again when A gave me lice. She is also the most stylish mama I know, so I do what she says. This time, she said "I can fix it, but you've got to strip it. You need to get as much of that color out as you can so I can correct it and get it back to normal."  
 
So I spent 24 hours with Google learning how to strip…my hair. Here's what I learned. You can strip almost anything out of your hair using any or all of the following methods:

blonde hair to red

  • Baking soda mixed with clarifying shampoo. I shampooed with this somewhere between 12 and 20 times. Not kidding.
  • Dish soap. 
  • Hot oil treatment. I used olive oil on the stove but Deanna says that avacado oil would have worked even better.
  • White vinegar. Something about restoring the ph level after the other stuff. 
At this point it was pink (photo, bottom right). I looked like Strawberry Shortcake. Deanna let me hijack her Sunday morning with her family (including her in-laws) and spent FIVE HOURS fixing my hair, reversing the process by which my blonde hair turned red. During which I was definitely not bored. Now I know:
 
  • Box Dye is Not for Beginners. Or for people who are trying to migrate to an entirely different color family. Or for women in their thirties who are bored and/or trying to prove a commitment to a budget.
  • I Am An Excellent Stripper. Of hair. In fact, because I was so maniacal efficient at getting most of the red out, we saved several hours of chemical stripper that Dea says smells like rotten garbage. 
  • Best Girlfriends are the BEST. I love K for talking me into taking a risk. I now know that I will try red again, with professional help from Deanna. I love Deanna for talking me off the ledge and getting me back to blonde. 
  • Dramatic Change is Not a Cure for Winter Boredom. Winter makes people do crazy things. Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining. 
  • There Are Better Ways to Budget. Like clipping coupons. Or less online shopping – I'm looking at you Zulily and Gap Friends and Family. Or eating out less. Just not dyeing blonde hair to red using a $10 box solution. 

Finish the Sentence Friday