A Brief History Of My Hair


I never said these memory posts were all going to be serious, did I?

Back When I Was A Blonde: Birth-Two Years Old

Yes, my friends, despite being solidly in the brunette camp now, when I was a toddler I was blonde.   A picture in case you don't believe me:



When people wonder where my kids got their blonde baby hair, I can say for certain that it was from me.  I don't remember what it was like being a blonde.  Did I have more fun back then?

The Brunette Phase: Three Years Old-10 Years Old

My hair changed rather suddenly to a light brunette when I was three years old.  It still changed to blonde in the summer when the sun would bleach it during all those hours outside, until I was in first or second grade - then I was solidly a brunette, and it's only gotten darker since then.

The Frizzy Phase: 11 Years Old-14 Years Old

Ah, puberty.  That was a rough hair time for me.  Something about the hormones made my hair want to try to turn curly, but it wasn't quite succeeding - I ended up with a semi-wavy frizzy mass.  I am quite thankful for my mom during this period, who tried to help my hair situations with different anti-frizz products she would buy for me.  But my hair just refused to decide if it was going to be semi-wavy, or sort of straight, or full-on curly, so it was a confusing time.



The Curly Phase: 14 Years Old-16 Years Old

My hair finally curled up enough for it to actually look like it was on purpose, and we found some decent products.  Still, I had a hard time accepting my wavy/curly hair.  The preferred hair style in the culture at that time was definitely sleek and straight, and my hair was just...not.  I always felt like it was a little out-of-control, and it was hard to get my curls to look right because they were still half in the "wavy" category.  (I'm still not sure how to deal with my curly hair au natural, to be honest).

The Straightening Phase: 16 Years-20 Years Old

I finally got a hair straightener and started using it more regularly.  I found at this time that I liked my day three hair the best.  The first day I washed and straightened it, it would still be on the frizzy side (I'd try to wash it on days we weren't going anywhere).  The second day, the frizz had calmed down some.  By the third day it actually looked pretty smooth!  But by then it was time to wash it again.  I wrestled with my hair in this manner until my 20's.

The I've-Got-It-Figured-Out Phase: 20 Years Old-Present

I got married and started working at a real job (and hence earning my own grown-up paycheck) at 20 - which gave me a lot more wiggle room to try out different products.  And what do you know, I finally found THE product that would make my hair cooperate! Sexy Straight Hair (that's what the product was called).  I even had the courage to try growing my hair long once I found this lifesaver.



It didn't last long, I think I'm more of a bob kind of girl.

I eventually switched to a Chi straightener (game-changer) with the Chi Shine Infusion Spray (which is pretty similar to the product above, just easier to find), and that's what I use today.

I do have one regret about the different stages of my hair up to now, and that is the fact that I have never figured out how to wear my hair curly and like it.  I am not sure if it is because of the semi-traumatic experience of having my hair go rogue at a stage when everything else was changing too (oh, puberty), or if I internalized too much of the straight-hair-is-better message of that time when my hair was changing, or if I have just never found the product that would make my curly hair manageable enough to suit me.  

But I do wish I could have figured out how to make it work and love it, because I would love to be an example to my daughters in that way - I'd love to teach them to embrace the unique beauty of their individual hair types, like my mom tried to do for me.

Maybe that will be the next stage of my "hair evolution" - The I-Finally-Get-My-Curls Phase.

Do any of you have wavy/curly hair?  What products do you use?  Did you ever figure out how to tame the curls, or do I just need to learn to go with the curly-hair flow?


When Encouragement Comes From A Stranger

(Written last Thursday.)

As I am typing this, my kids are sitting on the couch across the room, watching Rio.  I don't typically let them watch a full-length movie in the middle of the week, but this was been a particularly long week, and a particularly long day near the end of a particularly long week.  I decided I'm allowed.

Though the day was busy and a bit exhausting, it was good too.  We went to our mom group this morning, and as I picked up the kids from their classes they handed me their crafts.  "This is for you, Mom", they always say, and I grin and say I love it, even if it's just a paper with stickers on it.  It's sweet that they want to give me presents (even if I sometimes suspect it's just to get me to hold said crafts and papers for them).

We had a few errands to run, and I felt like we were a bit of a mess, as I usually do.  When I take all the kids into a store - especially a store with no carts - I feel like it's a constant stream of "Come here {insert child's name}", "Don't touch that {insert child's name}", and "Don't lay on the floor {insert child's name}".  People ask me how I do it with four (soon five) kids, and the truth is that when we are out in public I try my best to keep my kids close by me and not breaking anything, and I feel like we are a mini circus.  A happy, adorably cute circus, but a circus nonetheless.

Sometimes I even feel a little sheepish, like we are a bad advertisement for a big family.  But today the cashiers smiled at me and told me how adorable my kids were, even when I was too busy wrangling them to properly respond.  I kick myself for that now.  I've gotten used to not-quite-positive-not-quite-negative comments from strangers, to which I usually give a closed-lipped, nondescript smile, but the comments today were sweet and encouraging and deserved a big grin.

I was getting the kids packed back into the car when a lady came up to me.  

"I just wanted to say, you are amazing.  I have trouble with two kids, and you have four!" she said with a smile.  I laughed and said "Well, thank you! I feel like we're always a bit of a mess."  And she said, "No, you are doing an amazing job.  Your kids were so well behaved."

I thanked her again, and I guess I am thanking her a third time here.  I doubt she even realizes that her words will be remembered, but they were what I needed today.  Sometimes an encouragement from a stranger can make you see yourself in a better light, and sometimes in the middle of the minutia of motherhood you need that.  I looked at my kids and realized they really were quite well-behaved, despite my constant stream of directions that felt so chaotic to me.  They listened well, overall.  They walked in a row, like little ducklings, to the door.  They climbed in the car and got so excited over the clementines I gave them for a snack, patiently waiting while I peeled them.  

They really are very cute, and very good kids.

During a week when I am feeling overwhelmed and when I feel like I'm failing at this whole motherhood thing, I needed that reminder to step outside myself for a minute and appreciate my kids for the little people they are, the people they are becoming, and to comprehend the role I am playing in that. To look at the day, and my whole mothering journey, with fresh eyes.

I am thankful that God let that lady cross my path today, and I hope immortalizing that brief little encounter here will help me remember to refresh my eyes on rough days in the future.

I also want to remember it here, because maybe it will remind me to offer encouragement to a stranger myself sometime.  If I notice someone doing something well, or even just trying their best, why not offer a word of encouragement?  The gift of fresh eyes can so often be given this way, and it is worth a lot.

Has a stranger ever encouraged you when you needed it?



Update On My 31 Day Challenge



Time for a quick check-in on my 31 Day Writing Challenge!

This is the first year I have done this, and since I decided to join in literally the night before it started, I didn't have much of a plan.  After winging it all week, I decided to try to set something of a writing routine for myself for the remaining three weeks.  Here is what I'm thinking:

Sundays will be a little open.  I may post a schedule of posts for the upcoming week, or I may share something different (all depends on how much time I have the rest of the week).

Mondays will be for a "daily snapshot" of our lives right now.  (Full disclosure: this snapshot may or may not be actually written on Mondays).

Tuesdays will be for a personal childhood memory (I'm going to be using writing prompts from a few books I have for these).

Wednesdays will be for book-related memories (because I obviously like to talk about books, and I think a lot of you do too!).

Thursdays will be for pregnancy updates, and other family-related memory keeping.

Fridays will be for the practical side of how I attempt to keep our memories.

Saturdays will be a look into the archives of this blog (I've got a lot of interesting posts hidden way back in those archives).

This is what the schedule looks like for the upcoming week:

Monday: When Encouragement Comes From A Stranger
Tuesday: A Brief History Of my Hair
Wednesday: What Made Me A Reader
Thursday: {To be determined}
Friday: How I Organize My Photos
Saturday: Derek And Callie - The Early Years

Now would also be a great time to ask my any getting-to-know-you questions you have, because I'll incorporate the answers into some of the memory-keeping posts this month!  
So if you want to know something, ask away (I could also really use the material).



Birth Story Memories

(This photo is from way back, from my maternity photos with Gwen.)

I'm getting to that stage of pregnancy where my mind is going to labor quite often.  First I found myself getting a little nervous when I think ahead to labor...mainly because I plan to go without the epidural again, and I remember the pain well enough to make me a bit nervous.  But as I've been thinking about how everything went with my other kids' births, I'm remembering that I just took it like it came with my other labors, and I can do it again.  I'm about as prepared as I can be for this, and  I'm just praying for peace and fortitude for this baby's labor too, when it comes.

Since I seem to have labor and delivery on the brain these days, I thought I'd take this Saturday morning to reminisce a bit about my previous birth stories by re-sharing them here.  Who doesn't love a good birth story, after all?  And some of you may not have been around since I started having babies, so this is a good chance to catch you all up.  Enjoy!

Wyatt's Birth - Born at 37 weeks, because of pre-eclampsia.  My pre-eclampsia induction story.

Gwendolyn's Birth - Born at 39 weeks, with a fast-moving labor.  My didn't-make-it-to-the-hospital story.

Clyde's Birth (And Part Two) - Born at 39 weeks, after a night of violent vomiting.  My slightly traumatic, back-labor, partial placental abruption labor story.

Clarice's Birth - Born at 40 weeks 3 days, when I was so ready to meet her!  My pretty-dreamy-labor story.




Three Everyday Photo Ideas For Memory-Keeping


My sister has this crazy ability to remember events exactly as they happened.  Sometimes we'll be talking and she will casually mention something we did when we were kids, and I realize that I literally haven't even thought about that event for years.  It makes me sad sometimes that I have all these memories locked away in my brain that I won't remember until someone else brings it up.

As an adult I have realized pretty quickly that if I am going to remember something, I'm going to have to have some record of it.  Maybe that's part of the reason blogging has stuck, but to be realistic, I can't sit down every evening and write out every detail of the day.

This is where photos come in.

The say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that saying has lasted so long because it's true!  When I have a picture of something we did together, it's so much easier for me to remember all the details of that time in our lives.  Photos are a quicker, easier record to take than writing out my thoughts, and I've relied on them even more as a mom.  How else am I supposed to remember the face my babies make when I tell them to say "cheese"?  How else am I supposed to remember the way their hair curled before the first haircut, or how their faces have changed year to year?

So photos have become a really important part of my memory-keeping, but I do have a tendency to only take photos when we are doing something unique - like when we are on trip, or celebrating someone's birthday.  I'm grateful for those occasions because without them I might go too long between taking photos with my "good" camera.  But I make it my aim to take pictures between those special occasions too.  These are a few examples.

Unique Details

Each kid has some thing that they do, some physical feature, or some interest that makes them unique.  Does my child have a special blanket or toy?  Are they really into Hot Wheels cars or legos?  Do they scrunch their nose when they smile? Does their hair curl just right, or am I always getting comments on their impossibly long eyelashes?  I try to take pictures of those things!

Doing Ordinary Things

It's easy to pull out the camera when we are doing something Facebook-worthy, but I love the images of us doing everyday things even more, because they help me see the beauty of these ordinary days.  I've ben told too many times how it goes by so fast and how I'll miss this stage someday.  So I want photos that help me remember what our day-to-day was like.  I might take pictures of the kids eating cereal (or watermelon, which was a hit last summer), Wyatt working on his schoolwork, or the kids digging a hole in the yard, for example.  

Places We Visit All The Time

It's fun to sometimes think a little outside the box and take pictures in places we often frequent.  Examples would be the place you stop for coffee, the grocery store, or the library.  Is it a little awkward to pull out your camera in a public place?  Yes, but those photos are some of my favorites to look at!  (I really like Alex's documentation of a visit to Aldi, for example).

On my list of things to improve...capturing more of these kinds of photos, not just of my kids, but of my husband too!

Do you take pictures to keep memories?  Or are you more like my sister who can remember everything without photos?





The Belly Has Dropped - 34 Weeks (Baby #5)



We've entered into the phase of pregnancy where I am an emotional mess.

The last couple weeks I have been sensitive and irritable and overwhelmed and crying about stupid things.  I can't decide if it's related to being tired, or hormones, but it's probably some combination of both.  I feel bad for my poor family, and I'm trying really hard to lower my expectations so that I don't get so easily overwhelmed - this would be a good thing now, while my hormones are a mess, and after baby, when my hormones will still be a mess!

I have crossed a couple more things off my baby to-do list, which is satisfying.  I've also added a couple things (like beating out our living room rug before winter).  I was hoping to get my hospital bag packed before my appointment this week, just in case, and I'm about halfway there...I have a bunch of stuff in a pile waiting to be packed.  That counts for something, right?



As far as baby goes, she is still moving like crazy, and she lets me rub her little feet through my skin now without trying to kick my fingers away.  She hiccups all the time, which makes me happy because it means her lungs are maturing.

Also, in major news - BABY GIRL HAS DROPPED!  This is always exciting to me, because it means my ribs hurt a little less, and it means baby is less likely to flip.  You probably can't tell very well in these pictures, but trust me, the belly is definitely lower.



My body seems to be getting ready for labor a little more - I have definitely had more Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last couple of days, and there were a few days last week where my hips hurt so badly from loosening up to get ready for delivery.  Thankfully the hip pain has subsided a bit, and I am generally feeling pretty comfortable.



Tomorrow is my 34 week appointment, and probably the last appointment I will bring my kids since they'll start checking my cervix at the next appointment (37 weeks).  I want to enjoy their little reactions for this last time they'll get to hear the baby's heartbeat.  They always are so interested to hear what she's up to in there, and every one of them seems happy and excited about the baby.  It's making me more excited to have her here, and to have our whole family together on the outside!

(I've been trying to get a picture with each of the kids during these little bi-weekly photo shoots.  This week was Clyde's turn!)




The Four Tendencies Review

(Affiliate link below.)

You get a bonus book review today!  As you all know, I've been on a personality kick lately, and one of the personality books I picked up was The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.  I haven't read anything else by her, but I've listened to a couple episodes of her podcast, and I heard her talking about this concept.  It seemed interesting, so I was excited to read the book!

In The Four Tendencies, Rubin presents a theory of how different people respond to expectations, both internal and external.  We have the Upholders (who respond well to internal and external expectations), Questioners (who resist external expectations only), Obligers (who resist internal expectations only), and Rebels (resist both external and internal expectations).  She argues that a person's "tendency" affects how they respond to everyday situations and interact with other people.  If you know other people's tendencies, you can present things in a way that will make sense to them and let them respond positively.  If you know your own tendency, you can implement strategies that will make it easier for you to form good habits.

I am a little skeptical about some of Rubin's claims (like tendencies being part of our personalities from birth - I don't know that there is a way to prove that), but the more I read of this book, the more her overall points made sense.  She covers each tendency in detail and gives examples of difficulties and strengths related to each tendency, how to relate to different tendencies, and how to improve your own life by working with your tendency instead of against it.

I learned that I'm an Obliger, and I'm pretty sure Derek is a Questioner - so we keep each other on the straight and narrow!  I kind of hate being an Obliger, as the tendency that has trouble saying no and can tend to run ragged and get resentful of all the external obligations that "must" be kept.  I had started to recognize this about myself even before I read this book, and it confirmed to me that for my tendency, it's a really good thing to be setting boundaries around my time and energy (as I've been trying to do this year), so I don't go into "obliger rebellion" as Rubin calls it.

Anyway, if you struggle with setting good habits, have conflicts with those in your life about what "should" be done, or just want to understand yourself and others a little better, this book was interesting!  This is a secular book, so not everything in it is something I'd condone or agree with, but overall I thought Rubin had some interesting things to say.  I'd recommend it for personality junkies for sure.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.
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