Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Lesson 21: I hate styling the pixie while growing it out

I've been grudgingly living with an accidental pixie cut for the last two months and have come to the conclusion that I have absolutely no idea how to make it look cool. On most days, my hair looks decent at best. On bad hair days, I look like my grandma. When I look in the mirror, I beg the hair gods to make it grow faster. I don't think it's working.

I was warned about the inevitable mullet phase but didn't believe it could happen to me. Denial is part of the growing-out process, I guess, because here I am sporting that dreaded 80s longer-in-the-back 'do. It is the elephant in the room; my inner circle knows better than to point it out.

I've considered going in to have it cut off, but I cancel the appointment each time the date nears. At this point, cutting off any growth seems counterintuitive to me. I NEED that length for my sanity, no matter how ugly it looks.

So, I've experimented with a few products and hair tools to disguise the fact that my cut is a hot mess right now:

1. Tying up all the front and top shorter layers then using a straight iron to add body is definitely my go-to look. For some reason, my hair seems longer this way. Bobby pins or tiny clear hair ties are key.

2. Adding a few messy curls helps blend uneven layers. I had to switch to a 3/4 inch wand because the 1 inch was just too big for my short layers.

3. Headbands, bandanas or hair wraps work when pressed for time. It's not the cutest look but it's great to hide third-day hair or uncooperative hair. And they usually disguise the mullet!

4. Spray wax adds touchable texture and is better than hairspray or gel when creating a sophisticated slicked back look à la Scarlett Johansson.

My attempt at a sophisticated look in my not-so-sophisticated bathroom. 

When all else fails, makeup works wonders to distract from my hair! 

Feel free to subscribe to my blog for more updates on the grow-out process. Or, leave any questions or tips in the comment section.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Lesson 20: There’s a fine line between a pixie cut and “mom” hair

No woman goes to the beauty salon asking for "mom" hair; it just sort of happens.

Six weeks ago. . .

It felt like a bad dream. I watched my stylist's blade get stuck in my freshly highlighted blonde bob. He tugged at his blunt razor, and off came a long lock of my hair. I watched it gently fall to the floor before noticing a short, uneven half-fringe above my left eye where the hair used to be just seconds before. I held my breath and locked eyes with my stylist. I silently hoped this was part of his plan–a first step toward some awesomely cool, new haircut he had in mind. But this was clearly an accident.

He looked just as panicked as I did. He awkwardly, but quickly, moved toward the back of my head and tried his luck again with the dull blade. I should have stopped him but was frozen in disbelief. He worked swiftly as his hands shook (hoping I wouldn't noticed he was cutting way too much off) as he desperately tried to even out the back to match the accidentally choppy front. Long wisps of golden hair piled up at the base of my chair as I held back tears and resisted the urge to throw up.

First haircut. What is this supposed to be?
Trying to blend the short fringe.
"This can't be happening," I thought to myself. Just a few minutes later, he gave up and announced he was done with my cut–what could best be described as a cross between a pixie and a Justin Bieber bowl cut, better known as mom hair. GASP! Noting my quiet dissatisfaction, my stylist curled a few strands to mask the imperfections. I hurriedly payed and ran for cover in my car where I snapped 360 degree head shots to assess the damage.

I tried to learn to love it. But it was so uneven and unmanageable that I had to get it cut . . . again . . . to get a better shape. (Obviously not by the same person!) I was hoping for a style I could feel good about. That's when I officially and unwillingly entered pixie territory a few weeks later. I hated it! "It's just hair. It'll grow back," I kept repeating every morning while taming wild cowlicks.

Second cut. More manageable.

But who knew growing out a pixie would be so hard and take so long? Apparently, nearly every woman on social media. A quick search with keywords "growing out a pixie" led me to hundreds of hair tutorials explaining the arduous grow-out phase that can last an entire year. NOOOOOOOO!

Still too short. I want my bob back!

Needless to say, I've become a little obsessed with my hair fail. It's been my favourite topic for weeks now, and my husband and friends are getting a little tired of my rants. So, I've decided to document my hair journey, mostly for therapeutic reasons, on my blog. Who knows? Maybe I'll give some other gal in my shoes hope as she patiently waits for her locks to lengthen.

Along the way, I'll share tips and tricks for styling the many awkward stages and the pros and cons of each phase. I'd also love to hear from anyone who is growing out their pixie! I need all the advice and support I can get. I'd be happy to answer any questions about the whole process.

In my next post, I'll talk about the inevitable mullet phase. Embrace it? Or chop it off?

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Lesson 19: Even a little change is good

It's easy to get stuck in a routine.  I think that's especially true when you are raising kids.

We are all guilty of cycling and recycling the same handful of meals for dinner.  Who hasn't had days, weeks or even months of rocking a messy bun because it was faster to do than a full blowout? Even those date nights with our partner can fall into a monotonous lull; snuggly movie night on the couch loses its appeal when it happens week after week.  I often get bored of hearing my own voice bark the same phrases to my kids daily:

Close the door.
Flush the toilet.
No, you can't have another lollipop.
That's enough Minecraft for today.
Don't hit your brother.
Yes, you have to wear underwear.

Family life, especially in the burbs, is conducive to routine.

The last year was hard and boring all at the same time.  I wanted to shake things up just a little; I was starting to feel like the wife in Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road (minus the desire to bleed to death in my living room).  I needed to feel less robotic and I needed to get my endorphin levels back up. Coffee could have done the trick but my five daily Nespresso capsules were costing me a pretty penny.

What I did was far from mind blowing or dramatic.  There was no skydiving or repelling from a rock face mountain.  I didn't trek through Europe.  I didn't go back to school.  I didn't have an affair.
Instead, I did a bunch of stuff I had put aside for years.  I went to watch movies alone.  I started reading again.  I returned to freelance writing.  I got spa treatments.  I took time to eat my breakfast in the morning while gazing out the window.  I allowed myself to nap when I felt tired.  My husband and I agreed to make time for monthly dates.  I tried new restaurants.   My favourite treat was buying bright lipsticks at the pharmacy.  I am usually a lip balm girl but decided life is too short for a colourless pout!

As ridiculous and trivial as some of these things may sound, they make me happy.  They get me through the inevitable hardships in life. And trust me, there were more than a few trying times in the last few months.  Those f***-my-life  moments are what inspired me to get out of my rut and indulge in life's little pleasures.  I even took a break from blogging.  I had lots to share, but my motivation was gone and the words just didn't come to me.  I spent many nights just staring at the flashing cursor on a blank page.  Nada.

People kept asking if I was still blogging.  The answer was always, "Yes, but not right now."

"Maybe you need more life experiences," said my mom bluntly one afternoon.  We were on the phone shooting the breeze when she decided to explain my lack of new posts.

But she couldn't have been more wrong.  In fact, the opposite was true.  Since my last post, my life has been nothing but a whirlwind of experiences, weighed down by the sameness of daily family life. It made me tired, left me feeling vulnerable and beat down to the nub.  The last thing I wanted was to expose my every thought on the Internet.  I was feeling as though I had lost myself, as though I didn't recognize myself as a woman, a wife, a mom.  I needed time to find myself before I was ready to share with the world again.

And yes, lipstick helped.  And reading new novels.  And writing for money.  And actually dating my husband again.  Now I'm back, feeling good as new . . . and a little less bored too.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Lesson 17: Breaking up is hard to do.

It's the end of the school year.  The weather is warm, book bags are empty, and students are itching for that last bell to ring.  Parents everywhere are scrambling to write thank-you notes and deliver gifts to the teachers who worked tirelessly all year.  

I am no exception.  This time of year is like the Christmas rush for me.  With so many teachers to thank, I end up spending a week each June shopping for presents, craft supplies and gift cards. This year I made five DIY gifts – one for each of the special ladies teaching the first grade.  I stayed up all night yesterday snipping, gluing, assembling and wrapping personalized goodies. 

I groggily packed them into my car this morning, and delivered them all to school along with some floral arrangements.  My heart ached with each gift and each goodbye hug I gave out.  I left the school heavy-hearted, empty-handed and alone.  It felt like I had just been through a bad break-up. It always does.  The start of summer vacation is bittersweet for me.  

How can you just walk away from a relationship with someone who has been responsible for your child for 10 months?  Given my son's special needs, I rely on his teachers to be my eyes and ears in the classroom.  They shape him, guide him, advocate for him and help him overcome his challenges when I can’t.  They become my partner, working with me daily through phone calls, notes and meetings to make sure his needs are met in order for him to succeed.  Then summer arrives, and it's suddenly over.  

The weeks until September are long.  Worries swirl through my head.  Will his next teacher be as supportive as the last?  How easily will my son adapt to him/her?  Will he/she be willing to communicate openly with me regarding his progress and needs?

And when autumn finally rolls around, a new relationship begins.  Bonds are steadily formed.  And the pain from the last breakup slowly fades.  Yet the memories of those wonderful teachers are never forgotten.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Lesson 15: Don't be ashamed to talk about your post-baby body.

According to most celebrity magazines, I was supposed to bounce back to my "sexy" self only months after giving birth.   I mean, Heidi Klum had four kids and she was able to strut the runway just six weeks after giving birth!  The truth is, many celebrity moms have probably had some sort of medical intervention to get back their beach-ready bodies.  Of course, most of them won't admit it.   But who'd want to watch celebrity gossip shows or read tabloid magazines if the women in them were just like the rest of us ordinary folk?

A few months into motherhood, I realized I hated my post-pregnancy body.  I couldn't get used to the way my stomach looked.  Sure, I'd lost the weight, but that didn't help my ripped abdominal wall or floppy belly.  My midsection was as deflated and as puckered as a day-old birthday balloon.  All that loose skin was not going to miraculously retract.  I'd come to the depressing conclusion that my pooch was permanent.  Even my doctor admitted no amount of exercise could ever get rid of it.  

Until recently, I'd hide my naked body from my husband, finding clever ways to drape sheets and PJ's over my midsection during intimate moments.

Getting dressed in the morning was draining.  Even in the crippling summer heat, I 'd layer a gut-sucking camisole under all my tops to avoid revealing the bulge.  Pants were always baggy at the butt because I'd buy a larger size to accommodate the extra skin uncomfortably tucked into my waistband.

After my showers, I'd longingly poke at the skin and pull it back tight enough to give me a flat stomach, even if only for a few seconds.  I wish someone had told me I'd never see my belly button again after 2007.  I would have paid more attention to it while it was around.

I am proud of my body and grateful it gave me two energetic, sweet boys.  There are rare moments when I feel beautiful because of all my body has accomplished.  Yet the battle scars bruised my self esteem, and I wanted them gone!  I've already put my career on hold, sacrificed part of my sanity and given up my full nights' sleep for my family.  But I wasn't ready to surrender my body!   So, after two years of planning and scrimping, I had a tummy tuck.

It's been three weeks and I'm still sore and swollen.  Nonetheless, even this look is better than my pre-op pizza dough belly.  Am I shallow and vain?  Some may think so.  Yet for the first time in nearly a decade, I feel like my old self again.  Goodbye elastic waistband pants and granny panties! Hello jeans, and bathing suits and slim-fit tees.  My confidence is growing, and I know I can resume my mommy role with more self-assurance.  A happier mommy makes for happier kids.  Everyone wins.

Here I am on my honeymoon... with a belly button.   

 Fast forward six years.  That same stomach is holding a nine pound baby.

Before surgery.  Where did you go, belly button?

After surgery.  There's a flat tummy under that T-shirt!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lesson 14: I have more celebrity crushes now than at 13.

This post is dedicated to my husband, my real-life hunk, who didn't think my last post was snarky enough.  

Joel McHale.  Joel Kinnaman.  Ryan Gosling.  Channing Tatum.  What do these men all have in common?  They're hot.  They're rich.  They're unattainable.   Best of all, I'll never have to raise their children or cook and clean for them.

You see, lately I've been binge watching a lot of TV shows and movies on Netflix while falling in love with the leading men. Why?  My theory is simple.  The guys on the screen don't ask anything from me.  They are simply there to entertain me, to serve as eye candy, and to help me escape to a world where I am their sexy, carefree, childless costar.  I'm not alone. The thousands of hunky celebrity meme's on Pinterest prove it. (My favourite is the Gosling "Hey Girl" series).

Last night, I dreamed I met RoboCop (played by Kinnaman) at Walmart after purchasing milk, toast and Lucky Charms for my kids.  He told me he was surprised to run into me.  He was worried about me beacuse I hadn't been attending the Spanish class were both enrolled in at a local school.  I told him I was busy with mom stuff and couldn't make the class often.  

He then went on to say he was he interested in applying for a job at L'Oreal Canada.  He wanted to try a safer line of work.  Fighting crime in heavy armour was getting too risky. I admitted I had applied there about 10 years ago, and that it seemed like a great company to work for.  RoboCop seemed shocked.

"You applied ten years ago?" He asked in disbelief.  "You were like what then, 13?"  

I giggled and blushed like a little school girl.  RoboCop thought I was only 23!  Extra brownie points for him!

But what was supposed to turn into an R-rated dream suddenly fizzled out into a G-rated Disney movie, minus all the singing.   After RoboCop and I exchanged pleasantries at Walmart, he took me back to his place.  We were only hugging in the bedroom when I began to feel guilty about cheating on my husband and destroying our family.  Not only that, I also felt sorry for RoboCop's real life sweetie, Olivia Munn.  I didn't want her to feel jealous of us romping in his fancy apartment.  

And then I woke up to reality.  Before I could even get to the bathroom for my morning pee, I heard my kids fighting in the kitchen over who drank their milk the fastest as my husband coaxed my eldest out the door for school.  I closed my eyes, trying to conjure up sexy RoboCop again but all I could think of  was the pile the laundry and dirty dishes waiting for me downstairs.  Ah motherhood.   You can never truly escape it.  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Lesson 13: How to make a no-sew knight costume

I'm taking a beginner sewing class.  It's on Sunday afternoons with the talented quilter and owner of Deux Petites Souris.  My original motivation for enrolling was a desire to escape my family once a week.  Learning to operate a sewing machine was an added bonus.  

But after just two classes, I have to say that I'm enjoying sewing more than I thought I would.  It is strangely satisfying and addictive to be able to create something with my own two hands.  

Armed with my amateur skills, I set out to make my youngest a simple knight costume this morning. His daycare is hosting a medieval ball on Friday and the children will be dressed as knights, lords and princesses. I have to admit, I did not actually use any needles and thread for this project, but my newly acquired measuring and cutting techniques did come in handy.  (In my defence, I don't own a sewing machine yet, nor did I feel confident enough to attempt sewing something without my teacher's supervision!)

With a little patience, scissors, felt and adhesive, anyone can make this easy tunic and shield.  

I started with a piece of black felt I purchased at the fabric store.  My son is tiny, so I cut a 24 by 40 inch rectangle to make the tunic.  (It's enough to cover his torso and his bum when finished.)  Then I folded the felt in half and cut out a circle to slip his head through.  Easy!

Next I cut a small crest shape onto a grey piece of felt. I used iron-on hem tape to fasten the crest onto the front of the tunic.  My son wanted a fierce, yet sparkly lion on his crest.  I found a lion image on the web and traced it onto some red glitter felt.  Then, I carefully cut it out and used hot glue to attach it to the crest.  Why didn't I just iron it on with the hem tape?  Well, apparently sparkly felt immediately burns upon contact with high heat.  I learned this the hard way when I tried to iron on my lion and melted it to a shriveled clump instead.  Wanting to avoid a potential fire, I chose the glue gun on my second attempt.  Although, a needle and thread could have worked for this step as well.

I used foam board for the shield.  I cut out the shape I wanted and covered it with silver glitter foam (Yes, my little one is obsessed with glitter.)  I cut out red foam strips to make the decorative cross.  Last, I added foam letters to spell out his name.  Did I mention they had glitter on them?  My lord is now ready for his ball...