Sunday, August 31, 2008

Success in the Home

"No other success
can compensate for
failure in the home."

David O McKay
(LDS prophet, and president of the church 1951-1970 Learn about him here)

Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm having some trouble with formatting on this's making me crazy but I can't figure out how to fix it, so sorry!

So here is the post where I tell you about all the cool hair accessories that won't damage your hair!
The basic guideline for good accessories is this: it should not snag/rip/tear/pull out your hair. Ever. Simple enough, right? The thing is that many of the most common accessories do not follow this rule (a list of evil accessories is at the end of this post)
Here are a few specific hair toys that are long hair-friendly. You will notice that most of these happen to be good for holding up long hair, and may not be so useful for anything shorter than about shoulder length.
  • Hair Sticks--An updated version of chopsticks, they come in singles or pairs. I prefer metal, wood, bamboo, or bone, but they are also made with plastic, and many have beads on the ends. They are used by weaving them through hair that has been twisted or tucked up. They are snug while worn, yet slip out easily at day's end.
  • Forks--usually two pronged, although sometimes with three, a fork is used the same way as a stick (and made with the same sorts of materials) They usually do not have so much decoration on the top. I find the wooden ones particularly beautiful.
  • Combs--essentially a fork with more prongs... combs sometimes have short teeth and are good for pulling hair back, while the longer pronged ones are good for securing updos.
  • Slides/Stick Barrettes--a personal favorite, these have a wrapped front portion with a hole in each end, and it is secured by wrapping the front around the hair, then sliding a stick through the first hole, behind the hair, and back out through the other hole.
  • Scrunchies
  • Hairpins also called Amish Hair Pins, these are straight and U-shaped (like the fork shown, only small and metal...) they do not pinch, and secure a bun by weaving back and forth between the twisted part and the scalp hair.
  • Snoods--Seriously I love these, but Hubby doesn't so I don't use them. I like that you can just shove all your hair in it and what if your hair is a little greasy, or being weird and uncontrollable today...tuck it in and you're done. Fast, easy, and looks classy.
Here are a few etsians who sell happy hair toys:
Brigit: leather stick barrettes (shown at right)
Northwestgoods: metal , metal combs (shown above), metal stick barrettes (shown above)
Ettamae: handcarved wooden forks (shown above)
Archeress Arts: hair sticks
The Far Grove: bone hair sticks (shown above)
NightBlooming: hair sticks (shown at top)
Wenchie: hair sticks (shown at top)
American Carver: wooden forks (shown at top)
Gypsy Trading Company: hair sticks (shown below)
Isis Arts: hair sticks (shown below)

The following accessories are not bad per se, but they can be problematic if they are not chosen wisely and used with care.
  • Metal or plastic barrettes
  • Scarves or kerchiefs (just keep hair out of that knot!)
  • Claw clips
  • Bobby pins--these are the hairpins that have little rubber tips and are squeezed shut. They are great so long as the rubber is on...if the tip comes off, throw out the bobby pin. They're cheap to replace, but will be damaging without the tips.
  • Hair elastics--some are thin, some are thick, and so long as there is no metal joint on them, they should be fine if used with care...thicker ones are usually preferable
  • Elasticized Hair bands--just as with hair elastics, the wrong one can tear out your hair. So if you like them, great! Just pay attention to which ones you choose to use.

Here are a few accessories to avoid at any cost:
  • French Barrettes--these are the metal barrettes with the little springs...they were extremely popular in the 90s--usually with large bows attached. Thankfully they are not as common now, but are still too readily available. These will rip and snag hair like crazy.
  • Rubber Bands--yes, the actual rubber bands like from office supply stores. Don't ever let one touch your hair. Seriously.
  • Hair Elastics with the metal joint. Just don't do it!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

every once in a while... might be sitting at your computer doing bloggy stuff, and realize that you have spent too much time there today. You might realize this when, for example, your toddler marches in holding the toilet brush like a baton, and gleefully shoves it in your lap.
Not that I would know personally of course. MY toddler is arched across the arm of the chair doing upside-down nursing right now.
The toilet brush incident was almost 5 minutes ago.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Music Moment #1

In honor of the little Bear, who feels music like August Rush did, I have decided to start Music Moments (something I'd been considering for a while anyway...because we all know I need one more series on this blog!) So now and then I'll share a song I particularly like. Lucky you!

Bear hums along with the buzz of my sewing machine. He dances to any and all music. He steals daddy's headphones and puts the on and runs up and down the hall in glee. He bops his head along with the beat. If I say 'ooo' to him, he will change his pitch to match mine. He is an extraordinarily musical child.
I typically don't like music on webpages or blogs (because I usually have multiple windows open so they all moosh together and sound terrible) so I usually keep the sound turned off on my computer. But this morning I happened to notice the song that was queued up on a blog, so I let it play...Bear danced and I sang along to him. I know this song is intended as a romantic song between adults, but really all but one line are beautifully applicable to mothers and children. So keep that in mind as you listen.

By the way, the music video is kinda goofy, Hubby doesn't like it at all; I think it's cute. Regardless, this isn't it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Growing It Out, Wearing It Long

So, having talked about how I love my long hair, I thought I'd take the time to post about some of the things one can do to grow out, maintain, and style long hair.

1--In order to have long healthy hair, you must begin with healthy hair, even if that means cutting it short. Damage begins at the ends but will travel up the hair shaft, so leaving even a little damage will affect more and more hair no matter how good your subsequent care routines are. For years I trimmed a little here and a little there. I went on 'search and destroy' missions, going through my hair little bit by little bit and carefully trimming individual split ends. It still looked frizzy and damaged--because it was. I had been treating my hair well for nearly a year with little effect, so finally, in early 2006, I had my sister cut of 2/3 off my length. That was when my hair really took a turn for the better.
By the way, after a major cut like that, it grows much faster.

2--Hair is delicate. If you want it to be healthy, and be able to grow long (or just to look good whatever length), you must handle it with care. Remember that it grows from the top, so the at ends of your hair are 1, 2, 10 or even more years old, and once broken they cannot repair themselves, they can only be cut off. Some longhairs speak of treating their hair like 'fine antique lace.' I found it helpful to understand the physical structure of hair. Here is an article about the biology of hair, and here is a closeup photo ------------>
As you can see, each hair has small overlapping scales, and when brushed/smoothed one direction (away from the scalp) they are fine, but if you brush/tease/rub your hair the other way, the layers peel apart, literally splitting the hair and causing irreparable damage.
Here are a few specific tips on handling hair with care:
  • Never ever brush it when wet. Use a wide-toothed comb. Some choose to never brush at all, and use combs exclusively. (Combs-only has made a huge difference for me)
  • If you ever take an accessory out of your hair, and find it has pulled out hair with it, then don't ever put it back in your hair. Throw it away! I recommend investing in a few hair-friendly accessories, such as hair sticks, ficcare clips, or classic hair pins. I will talk more about those in a future post!
  • If your hair is long, wear it back or up to protect it from being caught and broken in doors, seatbelts, jewelry, and other things.
  • Protect it from chemicals such as chlorine--fully saturate it with clean water before swimming, and consider putting it in a braid, bun, or under a cap for further protection.
  • Braid it (or wear a cap) for sleeping, and avoid static-causing pillowcases. Don't laugh! We can do a lot of damage to our hair while rolling around at night, especially if you share a bed with someone!
  • Avoid products such as sprays, gels, or dyes, and DO NOT USE HEAT (blow driers, curling irons, etc). Many longhairs refer to blow driers as 'blow fryers'!
3--Hair is at its most fragile when wet, so take extra care with it. Never twist it when wet--only squeeze. Never rub it with a towel--just place it between two layers of towel and gently pat or squeeze. Avoid piling it on top of your head or rubbing it around while washing--put the products in, gently massage your scalp, and comb or finger comb it through the length, then rinse out.
4--To stimulate growth, stimulate your scalp. Gently massage it with the finger pads (not nails) while shampooing and any other time you feel like it. After washing your hair, rinse it with cold water--as cold as you can stand. This stimulates growth by rejuvenating the scalp, and also protects existing hairs by helping tighten up the scales on the shaft.
5--Don't wash it so often. Washing strips the natural oils (sebum) from your hair, causing it to dry out. Ironically that dryness also causes the head to produce extra sebum, so your hair will be dry but look oily. Sebum protects hair better than any conditioner can--it's what it was made for! If you are not using products in your hair, you will not need to wash them out, so all that's left is a little dust/dirt/dead scalp skin and you can get that once a week or so (don't be grossed out, we get dead skin everywhere silly, and that doesn't mean it's dandruff!) Start by going one day longer than normal between washings. After a few cycles your scalp and hair will adjust, and then you can go a day longer than that. Not everyone's hair will prefer the same timing as mine, but for healthy long hair you should definitely not be washing more than twice a week. I do recommend an occasional deep conditioning--that will also be covered in another post.

For your additional education, here are a few links:
Long Locks--this site primarily sells hair sticks (really fancy expensive ones), but she does have some nice pages on braiding and "the ultimate guide to growing long hair."
Long Hair Community--if you are serious about hair health or length, these forums are a wealth of information, support, and inspiration. If you care to join, I am 'brightonwoman' there. Come look me up!
Long Hair Loom--information and discussion forums with styling tips, growing helps, and more--includes a section specifically for teens and pre-teens!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


With Bear's current vocabulary explosion, we are all saying new words to him in the hopes that he will say them back to us. Even Wolf is in on it, as today I heard them in Wolf's room learning important boy words:
Wolf: Can you say shark?
Bear: [ignoring him as he plays with the toy shark]
Wolf: Shark! Say shark!
Bear: Buh!
Wolf: Can you say laser bazooka?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Vacation

Hubby blogged about our trip here (with lots of pictures).

I just wanted to add a few things I learned (or re-learned) about road tripping with kids:

1--let the dog sit in front with the kids. They entertain each other.
2--let the baby have root bear. He loves it
3--root beer will stain the sippy cup.
4--one skittle at a time can help keep a tired baby happy when you need to drive for just one more hour...
5--from Skagway, AK to anywhere is a really really really long drive.

If you'd like to see our route, it was something like this (if you scroll down you can see it in map form...yes, that's correct where you see over 100 hours of driving, and about 6000 miles. If you count in all the little side trips, we drove well over 6000 miles). I should mention that there are also two days of ferries on either end of this trip. Pelican to Juneau is a 6 hour ferry, and Juneau to Skagway (the next day) is about 4 more hours.

By the numbers:
1 green mini van
2 parents
2 kids
1 dog
6 weeks
6000 miles driven (not counting miles in ferries!)
104 + hours in the car (that's such an underestimate!)
2 countries
9 states/provinces (Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta)
4 border crossings (those stress me out every time)
5 ferries (we split up at one point and some family members were on one ferry and some on another)
4 National Parks/Monuments
13 relatives families visited (I have no idea how many actual people that is!)
1 very massive yard sale
1 baptism

1 family who had a great summer, but is happy to be home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let Kids Be Kids

Where have all the children gone
This was an extraordinary post, and expressed many of my own feelings about parenting. It is a difficult conundrum: trying to protect our dear ones, but seeing them want to be independent, and knowing that they need to grow up.
I believe in being very attached with infants--breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, and responding to them whenever they cry. Experience and observation (of my own children and others) suggests that while these attached children may seem 'clingy' for a year or two, they end up being more confident and adventurous than less-attached children, because they know that mom/dad is there if needed, and they never worry about being left or alone, so they feel free to explore without fear.

Look out, I am about to wax philosophical!

At the same time, we need to allow our children to grow up--at their pace, not ours. Climbing and exploring and doing things that are 'too hard' are natural parts of expanding their horizons, and if children are never allowed to try things, they will never learn to accomplish them. I have found that most children are far more capable than their local adults want to believe. While I do not push a child to sleep in their own bed or stay with strangers before they want to, I also do not hold them back when they are ready. I am reminded of a college roommate who couldn't handle the responsibilities of independent living. For example, she liked to eat chicken but refused to touch it raw (to trim/prepare it)--she expected me to do that for her. She was clueless about the value of money, having never held a job in her life; she went out late on weeknights and neglected her homework, then skipped classes (damaging her grades) because she slept through them or was not prepared. She had no job and lots of free time, yet never seemed to be able to get to homework, or the minimal household chores that she had signed up for. She had been babied and watched over every second of her life by protective and concerned parents, and had essentially never moved beyond toddlerhood. Living with me was a rude awakening for her: first she complained that I was treating her like a child (I pointed out that she was acting like one and that I had merely fallen into the natural mothering role she was pushing me into). Later (meaning years later) she thanked me for helping her grow up. I don't know that I did it in the best way, but I'm glad that someone did. Better to grow up at 20 than not at all...but better still to grow up long before then.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why I Wear My Hair Long

(Yes, both photos are of my hair, it's just that the lighting in my bathroom is apparently vastly different from the lighting in my hallway! Also, it is extraordinarily difficult to take a photo of one's own hair!)

I wear my hair long.
It is not for religious reasons (although the New Testament does suggest that a woman's hair is her glory and her covering). It is not particularly because my husband wants me to--although he does like it. No, I wear my hair long for me.
There is something elegant about long hair. Obviously it should be healthy hair, not ragged and damaged and unkempt, neither does it have to be knee-length, thick, curly, or any other specific style. I like my own hair at least to my waist, but to each her own. I can see the beauty in most lengths of hair, with the exception of those short cropped cuts--especially the ones where I have to stop and ask "so is that a woman or a man..."Why do I feel so strongly about this? Well, I was raised in a household where "girls have long hair" and that was the end of that. I had long hair, we trimmed the split ends but otherwise did nothing special. I learned to make braids and buns but knew very little of how to best care for my tresses.
I have always felt that long-haired women seemed to age more gracefully. Do you remember the scene in "Anne of Green Gables" where Anne is crying in the night (I believe it's after Matthew's death), and Mirilla comes up the stairs in her nightgown to comfort her...Mirilla has a long grey braid down her back, and I always thought wow, she has such grace, even in her nightgown. There was a woman at our church when I was a teenager who wore her grey hair in a long braid looped around her head--it gave her an air of childlike wonder and perfectly matched the twinkle in her eye. There was another woman at church who had snow white hair and wore it in a tiny tidy bun on the back of her head. There was yet another lady whose hair was mostly grey with a wide streak of white on one side, and she wore it in a simple braid down her back. One week she appeared with very short curly hair, and with that haircut, her face seemed to age 15 years. If ever I were to consider cutting my hair short, I need only to remember her, and my desire to preserve my youth will surely keep me away from the scissors!

It is not just a matter of aging well. There is something in long hair that captures the epitome of femininity and womanhood. I have relatively thin hair, but my length allows me to create the illusion that it's not (as in the photo above). Long hair is also infinitely more versatile than short hair--I can do anything from a plain braid to a practical bun to an elaborate updo. The shortest I can ever remember having my hair was just below my shoulders, and I can tell you that waist-length is much easier to care for than shoulder-length. I wash it less often, need no styling aids, and can style it just as fast (if not faster). I wash my hair about once a week, so even with the length I'm guessing I use less shampoo than most short-haired ladies. I usually only spend 5-10 minutes styling in in the morning, so there again I think I have the upper hand. My hair was not always in good condition, but in recent years I have learned how to really care for it, and, as the top photo shows, my hair is as shiny as the shampoo commercials--and I'd venture to say it's a whole lot healthier.
Feeling as I do about long hair, I thought I'd share some of my favorite resources here--information about how to get (or keep) healthy hair, styling tutorials for those who think that long hair is just too complicated, and some tips for getting long hair if it's something you are interested in too.
With my hair long I feel pretty.
I feel graceful and delicate.
I feel elegant and sophisticated.
I feel strength and wisdom.
I feel like the goddess I know I can be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Go Hug a Lefty

Today is International Lefties Day.
I should start of by sending a little digital ((hug)) to all the lefties I know, and particularly to Mae, who made me hyper-aware of just how right-handed this world is. I have two grandfathers, two siblings, and two former roommates who are all lefties, so I have learned a little of what they face...
Grandpa always has to sit at the end of the table at family gatherings so that he doesn't bump elbows with people.
My other grandpa was forced to learn to write right-handed because the school system didn't accept his natural left-handedness (thankfully educational philosophy has developed a little since then!) He is actually completely ambidextrous because of that forced training.
Most scissors are right-handed, as are most kitchens (think about which side of the sink has the dish rack). Manual automobiles are right-handed everywhere except the UK. It's difficult for a left-hander to learn to write from left to right, as their hand is always covering the letter they have just formed...this means many of them struggle to write straight, or have slow or sloppy writing--it has nothing to do with intelligence, it's purely mechanical.
This article talks about some more of the complications (and benefits) of being left-handed. I just thought it was interesting.

A few famous lefties:
Leonardo da Vinci (who wrote lengthy diaries in 'mirror writing'. Reading/writing either direction is a skill often found among lefties, who seem to utilize different parts of their brain), Michaelangelo, Julius Caesar, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Colin Powell, Mahatma Ghandi, Helen Keller, Jack the Ripper, Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, Jay Leno, Buzz Aldrin, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein,
Fred Astaire, Chewbacca the Wookie (or, at least, the actor who played him!), Charlie Chaplin,
Robert DeNiro, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt,
Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Whoopi Goldberg, Hans Christian Anderson, Goethe, Lewis Carroll, Celine Dion, Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog, and Bear in the Blue House (yes, he made his puppets lefties too!)
This site has a fairly exhaustive list (I know Mae, you've probably already seen the site, but hey, you're a pretty lefty-conscious-lefty!)

So, Happy Left-Handers Day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Bear is talking more and more every day. As he acquires new words he uses them in a variety of contexts, presumably trying to narrow down what the word actually means. For example, he learned ‘abbow’ (apple) and now applies the word to all food items—both solid and liquid.
Bear: “Abbow!” [pointing to the box of crackers]
Me: “Do you want an apple [pointing] or a cracker [pointing]?”
“Abbow!” [grabbing his sippy cup and taking a drink]
“Did you just want a drink?”
“Abbow!” [dropping cup and running down the hall]
It used to be “mama” which meant both mommy and nursing, as well as any other food he wanted. Thankfully now ‘mama’ is only me. Well, ok, sometimes ‘mama’ means daddy too. Or grandma.

He has also been learning about ‘no.’ In his vocabulary, it is not a retort or an angry word, it is more an explanation. For example, the other night I came around the corner to find Bear with a handful of everyone’s toothbrushes. He saw me coming, grinned, and held out all the toothbrushes and said “no no no!” As in, “yes mommy, I know I should not be playing with these!” He does the same thing with the remote control.

“Buh-bye” means ‘goodbye,’ ‘goodnight,’ and sometimes ‘I can’t see it’ (usually followed by “[peek-a]-Boo!”) It also sounds dangerously close to “buh-buh” which is ‘diaper’ (or sometimes ‘bottom’).

I love kids.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Today is 8-8-08, the beginning of the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

They say the date has to do with 8 being a lucky number in Chinese tradition...that's all well and good, but I have my own theory. After all, some countries write dates in month-day-year format, and others use day-month-year if one chooses the date of 8-8, well, there's no confusion, and everybody shows up on the right day, no matter where they're from!

(these characters are the mascots of the Olympics)

My in laws are in Beijing right now teaching English at a women's college (and also working with humanitarian projects doing things like delivering wheelchairs and building school libraries). They are working as volunteers in the Olympic village--I believe they said they're working at the water polo venue, probably doing all of the non-glamorous things like sweeping and cleaning bathrooms. But they are THERE!
They said that Beijing is a dirty polluted city, but that in the year they have been there, they have seen an amazing transformation--the government has put millions of dollars into beautifying Beijing, including such drastic measures as planting fully grown trees along major streets! My in laws (who are certified master gardeners) commented that the trees were too large to transplant and probably will die next year...but hey, it looks good for now!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Family Travel Log

Some folks collect postcards, or spoons. We collect magnets. And yes, we usually have them in use to hold stuff up. This arrangment was for photographic purposes only.

from top right: Oregon Coast, USS Arizona Memorial Monument (Hawaii), Mount St Helens (Washington), Seattle/Space Needle (where Hubby proposed).
second row: Zions National Park (Utah), Mesa Verde NP (Colorado), Yellowstone NP (Wyoming), Redwoods NP (California), Jade City (British Columbia)(that's the little green B.C. shaped one), Arches NP (Utah).
third row: Olympic Rainforest NP (Washington), Bryce Canyon NP (Utah), (yellowstone, redwoods), Yosemite NP (California), Crater Lake NP (Oregon).
fourth row: Stanley Lake (Idaho), Maligne Lake, Jasper NP (Alberta).
fifth row: Norway (flag), Jackson Hole/Grand Teton NP (Wyoming), Payto Lake, Banff NP (Alberta), Canyonlands NP (Utah), Mendenhall Glacier (Alaska), Glacier NP (Montana).
bottom row: Moraine Lake (Banff NP, Alberta--one of the most beautiful places on earth), Capitol Reef NP (Utah), San Diego Zoo (California), Trinity College Library (Dublin, Ireland), Yukon Territory (it's a gold mining pan).

Obviously we have not gotten very far east yet. That is planned for coming years. But I thought I'd share the fridge so far...and additional magnets will need to be photographed separately because if I add any more to this setup you won't be able to see them at all! (Let me know if you'd like to see a closeup of any particular one!)

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