Hug Your Babies

I just found this blog about the Whitt family yesterday. The same day that their precious baby, Tuesday, died from cancer. Please hug your babies and remember how precious they are. How fleeting childhood is. How quickly life can change. Forget about the messes they make. The days they don't nap. The temper tantrums they throw. Just love them and hug them and cherish them while you have them and they you.


I've mentioned Matt's blog before but today's post was inspired by his recent post so I thought I would mention him again. Matt's beautiful daughter Madeline was born last March. His beautiful wife Liz died suddenly 27 hours later. Before she ever held her baby girl. It breaks my heart. And even though I've never met them, I think about them a lot. About how it should be. Whenever I visit the blog, I find myself crying, sometimes sobbing. But Matt has a way of working in a little humor into nearly every post. So last night as I sat sobbing, thinking about how Liz should be there with them right now, a few brief sentences about Matt's snorkeling experience made me laugh out loud. He is a talented writer and is an inspiration.

Matt's description of snorkeling reminded me of my own Mexican snorkeling adventure. Puerto Vallarta. March 2005. 3 months pregnant with Big One. Lots of free alcohol and drunk friends. Virgin daiquiris for me.

Most of our time was spent enjoying the resort, but we decided to go snorkeling one day. Have I mentioned I can't swim? How I arrived at the decision to board a boat, bound for the OCEAN, and jump off the boat into the ocean, I'll never understand. But I did and lived to tell about it.

The weather in Puerto Vallarta was beautiful. And then we boarded the boat. We all nearly froze on the way to the snorkeling spot. We finally arrived and our fearless leaders gave us some important snorkeling information. This is what stuck out the most:

There was an unusually high number of jelly fish in the area that day. But no worries. They had a topical cream available should we be stung.

What?!?!? I'm going to jump off of perfectly safe boat in water cold enough to make polar bears happy when I don't know how to swim AND I may get stung by a jellyfish? At this point I knew I was insane. But I didn't spend $150 to sit on the boat and watch others snorkel.

Obviously, swimming skills are not required for snorkeling. But severe humiliation may result if you don't know how to swim. On our trip, we were divided into 2 groups: swimmers and non swimmers. I, of course, joined the latter. Along with a bunch of kids under the age of 10. While the swimmers sported the little inflatable snorkeling life vests, the non swimmers securely strapped giant orange life vests around our waist. You know the ones. Wearing it around your neck while snorkeling will apparently prevent you from sticking your face in the water. So waists it was.

One other member of our group (who was above the age of 10) was supposed to join me in the non swimmer group. She chickened out and stayed on the boat. She may have been the wisest of us all.

All of the swimmers jumped off the boat first (I suppose they didn't want the slow non swimmers holding them back as we embarked upon the snorkeling expedition). It was finally my turn. I jumped into the frigid water and had to catch my breath from the cold. I clung to my orange life vest for dear life. Yes, it was strapped to my waist. But I wasn't taking any chances. Not only was the water full of jelly fish, it was choppy as heck. I bobbed along in the ocean, clutching my orange life vest, trying to avoid crashing into the 10 year olds next to me.

I did put my face in the water once or twice. Once I stopped hyperventilating, it was actually kind of cool. We didn't see a lot of colorful fish or anything but it was still a fun experience. I wish we had pictures. I know we took a bus to this Mexican Walmart to buy an underwater disposable camera...

... but I don't remember if we ever had the film developed.

So would I snorkel again? Most likely yes. It was a fun experience. You know, outside of the orange life vest, frigid waters, and jelly fish dodging. But, for the most part, I like to keep my feet securely in the sand...

And enjoying a beautiful sunset.

How Do You Like Your Potatoes?

We are big fans of the potato here at our house. Mashed and grilled are at the top of the list when it comes to potato preparation. But I think there may be a new #1, at least on my list.

I checked out the Pioneer Woman Cooks the other day and found this recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes. They are SO yummy. They take a bit of time to make but it's not difficult by any means. You basically boil red potatoes, smash them slightly, brush with olive oil, season, and bake. They're cute little bundles of crispy potato-y goodness. If your family likes potatoes, I definitely recommend trying it! I'm looking forward to making them again. Hope you are too, Hubs!

Lessons Learned & Top Posts

Another week full of life lessons has come and gone. Here are some of the things I learned this week.
  • When you use the last of the shampoo and condition, replace it right away. By the time you take another shower in 2 or 3 days (of course I shower daily....sometimes), you'll forget until you're already in the shower and soaking wet. You'll then be forced to use your husband's Suave for Men shampoo. You'll smell like a dude the rest of the day. A clean dude, but a dude nonetheless.
  • Write down your favorite recipes. If you don't, you'll never find them again. You'll forget which website you found the recipe on or your computer will mysteriously delete all of your bookmarks (this has happened to me, although not this week). Then you'll be stuck choosing some random recipe that won't turn out as well. And you'll be disappointed.
  • When your husband says, "The baby has been falling asleep easily at bedtime lately" right before he leaves for an evening out with friends, give him a swift kick where the sun doesn't shine. He'll deserve it. Because as soon as he walks out the door for a night of fun and freedom with friends, the baby will suddenly decide that it's the perfect night to NOT go to bed easily. She'll scream. She'll cry. She'll flip herself over and get her arm stuck in the side of the crib. You'll have to go in her room multiple times pulling every trick in the book to get her to fall asleep. And you'll have to leave your 3 year old unattended in the living room. Which brings us to our next lesson of the week...
  • Never leave your 3 year old unattended in the living room. This one doesn't really need any explanation. Because anyone in their right mind who has spent any time with a 3 year old knows it's never a good idea to leave them alone in a room full of electronics and fun couches on which to jump.
  • When your 3 year old yells, "Don't worry, Mommy. I'm just practicing my pillow fights" it really means "Hey, Mommy. I'm having a blast beating everything in the living room with this pillow while I jump up and down on the couch, which I know I'm not supposed to do, but you're stuck with the baby so what are you going to do about it?"
  • Nothing is more infuriating than a 3 year old laughing at you while you're yelling at him for being naughty (see previous lesson), particularly when you've already had a pull-your-hair-out-of-your-head day with the kids.
  • Bedtime stinks!
And now on to the top posts of the week, as decided by me!

What Every Single Conversation is Like Around Here: I can definitely relate to this. Kids have a way of stalling, particularly when you really have to be somewhere on time. I blame the kid for us always being late.

Christy got an adorable hair cut. I think we can all relate to that brand new look feeling. And I'm so glad that Christy is back to blogging after a short break. I missed your posts, Christy!

MckMama has a great post on toddler tantrums, complete with video. It is absolutely hilarious!

Jessi and her family are enjoying the sunny weather in Texas. And I'm jealous. So I have to revisit her post about the weather to make myself feel better about the snow that just won't stop here in Iowa!

There were lots of other great posts this week but Little One has figured out how to roll/scoot herself across the floor and is pulling on a cord she shouldn't be messing with (don't worry it's not plugged in). Big One is doing a semi-tackle/wrestling move to stop her so I think it is time to intervene. Especially because Big One, "told her 10 times not to do that. It's not a toy." Gee... do you think he's heard that a few times from me?

Happy Sunday!

Mall Play Area Politics

The mall play area. Breeding ground of germs, head lice, and bullies in the making. What's not to love? With few choices in the winter, Hubs and Big One headed to the mall play area Thursday night. Big One was able to burn off energy. I was able to put Little One to bed without a screaming 3 year old in the next room. And Big One was able to avoid all of the little germs and bugs that infest the average mall play area.

The bullies? Not so lucky. How does a young child learn to be a bully? Apparently another little boy claimed the tree slide as his own. Big One unknowingly encroached upon his territory. The little boy shoved Big One off of the stairs. OK, so it's only 3 or 4 stairs high. And the floor is soft. But still!

I try not to be the hovering mom. And generally I'm more worried about Big One accidentally bumping into someone else or not paying attention to what he's doing. And there was the one time when he called some other kids Stinkers. He got in trouble for that too. But I try to stand back and let him handle things himself. But as boisterous as he is, his feelings are easily hurt and I can't help but be there to pick up the pieces. I was not there but Hubs just steered Big One to a different part of the play area.

So how do you handle situations where other kids are aggressive toward yours? Hubs said the child's parent didn't say anything. So either he was there unattended, the parent wasn't paying attention, or the parent just didn't care. Do you say something to the child? Look for the parent? Let it go? I have a feeling had I been there I would have told the little boy he needed to move so my son could go down the slide. I wouldn't have lectured him but I would have said something about letting other kids on the slide. I'm not so good at biting my tongue when it comes to my kids. I'll go all Mama Bear if the situation warrants. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience and how you handled it. I know kids aren't perfect (I have the bloodshot eyes and gray hair to prove it). But I make sure Big One knows he won't get away with treating others poorly. Thoughts?

Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake

I rarely try new recipes because I am married to quite possibly the pickiest man ever, at least when it comes to his food. (I haven't shaved my legs in a month so apparently he's not picky in ALL departments. Sorry for the horrible image that is probably now in your head.) With the exception of small children, I have yet to meet a pickier eater than Hubs.

I, on the other hand, love trying new recipes. Last week I used a can of Del Monte tomatoes for something and noticed an interesting (read: easy but still tasty) sounding recipe on the can. I went to the Del Monte website and found lots of really easy recipes. So I decided that Big One and I would start trying new things at lunch.

Now this is a stretch for me. I don't mind cooking but the thought of doing tons of cooking at lunch time isn't appealing. If it can't be served cold, microwaved, or heated in the oven, it usually doesn't make it to the lunch plate. But I finally went back to writing out menus this week and yesterday in the lunch square, I found "Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake". Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake violates many of the rules Hubs has established when it comes to acceptable meals. Here is a short list of its offenses:
  1. It's a casserole.
  2. It involves more than 1 ingredient being combined.
  3. It has ground meat in it.
  4. It has tomatoes in it.
  5. It has cream of mushroom soup in it.
  6. It has melted cheese on top. (He doesn't like melted cheese. Except pizza is one of his favorite foods. What? Yeah, I know. But if you ask him he'll claim he doesn't like melted cheese. I think someone needs to tell him all that white stuff covering his pepperoni is MELTED CHEESE.)

So I decided to try the recipe yesterday at lunch (see below). There are only 4 main ingredients (plus cheese on top).

It goes in the oven....

And comes out delicious!
I made a few modifications to the original recipe. I used ground turkey in place of ground beef and I only used 1/3- 1/2 lb (not sure exactly but it wasn't more than 1/2lb). It would be fine without meat at all if you prefer. I also only used about 2/3 of the can of tomatoes because it seemed like it was getting really tomato-y.


6 oz. uncooked penne or other tube pasta
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) DEL MONTE® Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano
1 can (10-3/4 fl. oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Brown meat in skillet; drain. Combine meat with pasta, tomatoes and mushroom soup; place in 11x7-inch baking dish.
  3. Cover and bake at 350°F, 25 minutes. Uncover; top with cheese. Bake 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

The World According to Big One

Three year olds have a lot to say about the world. And Big One has been busy this week sharing his knowledge with us. In case you were wondering...

  • Blue and red make "papamarine" (aka aquamarine), not purple as previously thought by... every living human being. So how is purple made? Well, with yellow and green, of course. He will be disproving commonly believed theories for the rest of his life, I'm sure.
  • He loves going to our old zoo so he can climb through the tunnel and see "prairie dolls". A distant cousin of the more widely known prairie dog, perhaps?
  • "Park the Herald Angels Sing" is still one of his favorite songs.
  • The toilet is quite possibly one of the coolest toys ever. Still. At age 3. It just never gets old.
  • The one wearing the Superman pajamas gets to make the rules. Daddy learned this lesson last night at bedtime when Big One announced, "I'M the only one wearing Superman pajamas so I can do whatever I want."

Weekly Lessons & Top Posts

Whew! We survived another week. Warning: I'm very tired tonight so my lessons of the week may not be all that exciting. Here it is anyway.
  • Facebook can be addictive. Use with caution!
  • Think twice before introducing your husband to Facebook (see above).
  • You know it's time to step away from the junk food when your son exclaims, "WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Mommy! You're jeans are big, big, big!". Great self esteem booster.
  • If you want to have a witty list of "lessons learned" from the week, it's best to write them down when they happen. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with only 3 items on your list, even though many other things were learned along the way.
And now for a few recommended blogs.

Martini Mom has a good lesson for all of your husbands. They definitely need to read this so they won't make the same mistake!

Lucky Me shares some fun homemade Valentine's Day gifts.

Check out matt, liz, and madeline to find out how you can donate to a great cause. Do it for the love of Liz!

If you need a good laugh, visit Musings of a Barefoot Foodie to read about Brittany's trip to the OB... with her 2 young kids. Fun all around!

If you've ever considered cloth diapers, check out Esther's post at The Mommy Diaries. She gives lots of great info on cloth diapering. Little One is cloth diapered and I love it.

And now I must finish my weekly menu planning and my letter E week activity planning. I am determined to get more organized!

What If?

Big One asked if we could make popcorn today about 30 minutes before I usually pull out the dino shaped chicken nuggets and goldfish crackers cook a nutrition lunch from scratch. Initially, I said no but then decided why not? We have a stir crazy popcorn popper and he loves watching it. As we sat cuddling on the couch eating out popcorn, I started thinking about how my day would be different if I had gone back to work after Little One was born.

  1. I would have showered by now.
  2. I would be wearing something a little more stylish but not nearly as comfortable.
  3. If work was anything like the last few months I was there, I would be trying to look busy by scrounging up any busy work possible. (Boring)
  4. I would be staring at pictures of the kids instead of staring at (and cuddling) the real thing.
  5. I wouldn't be stressed about our health insurance situation.
  6. Big One would have social interaction with kids his own age. But he would throw huge fits every morning, insisting he wanted to stay home. Little One would be held and rocked by someone else. I would miss them even if the social interaction was good for them.
  7. When I picked the kids up from daycare, I would hope to not see yet another sign disclosing a contagious disease that has infested the daycare. (The amount of time I spend googling the symptoms of random childhood illnesses has drastically decreased!)
  8. I wouldn't have the freedom to schedule my day as I see fit.
  9. I would have had to park at the top of the hill so I could even get to work. Then I would have had to drive on snowy streets that either aren't yet plowed or were plowed by someone who really didn't care if he did a good job or not. I hate driving in snow!
  10. I wouldn't have to look around and see the mess that never disappears at our house!
  11. I wouldn't be listening to Big One blowing air through the straw from his juice box even though I've asked him to stop no less than 10 times.
  12. I would be listening to arrogant coworkers, some of whom actually clip their nails at their desks. Gross!
So what's the verdict? Where would I rather be? Right where I am, of course. That's not to say there aren't trade offs (see # 5 and 10). I've never questioned my decision. It felt right from the beginning (even when the kids are driving me nuts and I want to curl up in a ball under the covers). But I think no matter what decision you make in the stay at home/work at home/work outside the home dilemma, there are benefits and sacrifices.

And now my random thinking is done for the day.

Wordless Wednesday: Playmates

Check out 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesday.


WARNING: Contents of this post may cause derailment of any and all New Year's resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, cut out junk food, or generally live a healthier lifestyle. I take no responsibility for what happens should you continue reading!

This seemingly innocent pan of delicious treats will end any diet at the first taste. It contains quite possibly the two best desserts ever: brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough. I found the recipe on Bakerella although it's so simple that you don't actually need a recipe. Enjoy!

Have You Heard The One About the Elephant?

Big One is really into telling jokes right now. It's hilarious to listen to him tell a joke. By the punchline, I'm nearly rolling on the floor. But it's not because it's the joke of the year. In fact, I still haven't figured out the punchline of his usual joke. It's the way he tells the joke and starts laughing so hard before he even finishes. It usually goes something like this...

Big One: Hey, Mommy! How do you get an elephant in the refrigerator? (At least I think that's what it is... he's usually already laughing hysterically at this point.)

Me: I don't know.

Big One: Say "How?".

Me: Ok. How?

Big One: With a (peanut butter?) and a (jelly?). (laughs hysterically)

I think it's something about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or peanut and butter, or butter and jelly, even though none of those make sense. He's even creative enough to switch it around using different animals and refrigerators belonging to other family and friends (How does a giraffe get into my cousin Andrew's refrigerator?) Tonight he had a new one.

Big One: Hey, Mommy! How do mermaids get bigger.

Me: I don't know. (Not realizing it was a joke and I was supposed to say "How" instead of "I don't know")

Big One: Say "How".

Me: How?

Big One: In a hole! (again with the hysterical laughing)

What the? I don't get it but I was laughing harder than I have in a long time. It truly is all about the delivery.

Health Insurance Frustrations

Before I quit my job to stay home with the kids last May, we were on my health insurance. It offered great coverage and was actually affordable. Losing that benefit was the one thing that made the decision to stay home the most difficult. In the end, I decided staying home with the kids was more important.

Hubs works for a small company so I understand that costs will be higher. They don't pay much toward the premium. And every year it goes up significantly. This year it's going to be $130 more a month. That's an EXTRA $1560 a year in health insurance premium alone on top of the already high premium. We'll be paying over $700 a month on health insurance premiums. Honestly, I don't know how our bank account will survive that much more gone each month.

So we're stuck.

Do we stick with it since it's a group plan? Do we try to find an individual plan? Do we consider a health savings account? I'm so frustrated. I don't want to make the wrong decision. A health savings plan would mean less premium but more out of pocket at the doctor's office. That's fine as long as we all stay healthy. But then there's the maternity issue. There are no plans to add another baby to our family but little surprises do happen. Most individual plans and HSAs only cover complications or cost a lot more to add maternity.

So I'm looking for advice. Suggestions. Pros and cons to any of the above options. Anyone have experience with a health savings account? Will we have a waiting period for preexisting conditions? I know I shouldn't complain because at least Hubs has a job and we have the option of health insurance. It's just frustrating to see the premium go up by so much every year.

Hubs is meeting with our insurance agent so we'll see what he has to say. This just seems like such a big decision. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate really big decisions? I need chocolate!

Glittery Weekly Recap & Top Posts

A few of the parenting lessons I learned this week...
  • When you shake the bottle of taco sauce, be sure you haven't already loosened the lid. This is particularly important if you plan to turn the bottle sideways or upside down to shake it.
  • If you insist on shaking the taco sauce with reckless abandon, storing the car seat, baby's coat, and diaper bag right next to the counter in the kitchen is not a good idea. It may result in a diaper bag full of taco sauce.
  • When attempting a project involving glitter with a 3 year old, having a few drinks ahead of time is advised. That way you won't want to cry when this happens...
(the photo doesn't really do it justice... we had one heck of a glittery mess)
  • Never breathe a sigh of relief when you open a bottle of glitter and find that it does indeed have a convenient shaker lid with little holes. Chances are, when your 3 year old shakes it violently to get the glitter to come out faster, that little snap on lid won't hold up. (see above picture)
  • Placing a pan under your glitter project is a good idea. Just don't use a good pan. And don't expect any future baked goods to be without an extra sparkle.
  • Unless you're looking to start a new fashion trend, it's best to move your shoes away from the vicinity of the glitter explosion before attempting to clean it up.
  • It's impossible to clean up every trace of glitter. It's probably best not to roll out the dough for stromboli on the same counter where the glittery explosion occurred. Unless red glitter is your preferred stromboli seasoning.
In all of your spare time, these blogs are worthy of a visit.

No Spill Paint Cup @ Her Cup Overfloweth: I love this idea. Big One loves painting so we may have to try this idea for keeping the paint contained.

So Weird @ The Little Things in Life: Jolene is the authority on "dumb pandas" according to Google. Why in the world is anyone googling that anyway? Jolene is very funny and this post will give you a laugh.

This Happens to Us in the Winter... @ The Mommy Diaries: This is a hilarious Muppets clip and so true. This is us this weekend since we're snowed in! Anyone who lives in the Midwest or other snowy climates will appreciate this.

My Mother's Daughter @ Musings of a Barefoot Foodie: I can relate to many aspects of this post, particulary the dull razor blade, hiding the loofah, and the transformation. Very funny post.

Free Suze Orman Ebook @ "Deal"icious Mom: This post includes a link to Oprah's website where you can download a Suze Orman ebook for free.

Ooblek @ Lucky Me: This is a fun activity to do with the kiddos. This stuff is very cool. I made it several years ago when I ran an after school program and the kids loved it. After our glitter explosion this week, I think I need a break from messy activities so we may hold off on this one!

The Magic Touch

When it comes to his baby sister, Big One has the magic touch. Little One's first glimmer of a real smile came at 5 weeks as she stared intently at Big One. She does adore her big brother. He adores her just as much. I never would have imagined how special the sibling bond could be until I became the mother of 2 children. I have a brother and a sister myself but there is something different about seeing the bond from a mother's perspective.

Tonight, Big One proved his skills with his sister once again. They were both in the bath and he started tickling her feet and saying her name over and over again while grinning right in her face. To me that would be annoying. But to her it was the funniest thing ever. She laughed her first real, out loud laugh at his antics. Up to this point, she had only done a silent sort of laugh. It was so funny to finally hear her laugh. And to watch the two of them interact. It never gets old.

Weekly Recap and Top Posts

It's Sunday again! The last 2 weeks have really thrown me off with Hubs being home. Of course I've loved every minute of the family togetherness. I'd just like a bigger house to spread out all of the togetherness a little bit. :-) Here are my thoughts/reflections/lessons learned from the past week.
  • You can lead a baby to her crib but you can't make her sleep. Little One is vetoing nap time. And, based on the screaming that is still taking place at almost 10pm, she also is now objecting to bed time. I'll give her one thing, the girl's determined.
  • You can't judge a book by its cover. Or a hairstylist by his mohawk.
  • I really hate hearing my children cry. For many reasons. Can you tell how hard I'm tapping on the keys right now? Probably not. But let's just say, the previously mentioned screaming from Little One's room is doing a number on my nerves right now.
  • Just when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and change on you. Motherhood is difficult. Rewarding but difficult. They really make you work for the rewards. I suppose that's what makes them so, well, rewarding.
  • Someone told me this week that babies who are difficult tend to be easier when they're toddlers. Let's hope. Because Little One has been much more difficult than Big One was as a baby.
  • I'm noticing a trend here so I'll conclude with one last thought of the week. I love my children to pieces. And even when they're screaming at 10:20pm, I would never trade them for anything in this world.
And it wouldn't be Sunday without the top posts of the week.

St. Jude's Card Recycling Program @ Fiona Foo: Until I read Christy's post, I was unsure of what to do with the plethora of Christmas cards we received. She shared all the details of how to send off your cards for the St. Jude's recycling program. I'm still trying to decide what to do with all of those photo cards we received!

Menu Planning Free Download
@ Her Cup Overfloweth: I go through phases when it comes to meal planning. For a while, I'll be really good at planning a menu and sticking with it. I'm always happier on those days because I don't have to stand in front of the cupboards waiting for culinary inspiration to strike. (Does Kraft Mac & Cheese count as culinary inspiration?) I like this weekly meal planner because it has boxes for all meals and snacks. Sticking to this could definitely help out at the grocery store as well!

Healthy Recipes @ Little Birdie Secrets: While we're on the topic of cooking, Little Birdie Secrets has some healthy recipes that look delicious. They also have a link to the eatbetteramerica site, which I'm definitely going to check out. (I included that just for you, Jessi!)

Crazy Faces @ Lucky Me: If you resolved to do more crafts with the kids this year, this Crazy Faces activity looks like a fun one.

We're Outta Here @ My Charming Kids: Earlier this week, I posted about Baby Stellan and his recent trip to the hospital for RSV. He improved very quickly and is now at home with family.

New Year's Resolutions @ The Mommy Diaries: Esther has a great list of goals for 2009, most of which I could adopt as my own. She also has her weekly list of top posts so check them out!

Little One is so far beyond crying it out it's not even funny. So I'm off to her room for probably the 100th time tonight. Someone get me a beer!

Out With the Old, In With the New

Hairstyle that is. Thanks to Chad, I have a new hairstyle. Who is Chad? He was the man behind the scissors that took me from this...

... to this...

The pictures aren't the best. But this isn't really so much about how my hair looks as it is about how my hair got to that point.

When you think of a male hair stylist, how do you picture him? I'll admit, I think of a petite, effeminate man with a spring in his step.

Chad is the complete opposite. He stands well over 6 feet tall, has tattoos covering his arms, and sports a mohawk. I went to a walk in salon so it was the luck of the draw. And I drew Chad. I was actually a bit excited because I hoped he would have creative vision that the others lacked.

I sat down in Chad's chair and gave him an idea of what I wanted. I wasn't completely sure myself but I assured Chad that I'm not emotionally attached to my hair, so he need not worry about scaring me.

Chad apparently took that as a challenge.

He grabbed a section of hair and started chopping. You know how most stylists carefully cut your hair, one snip at a time, combing and making sure it's straight? Not Chad. He just started whacking, much the way an inexperienced and uncaring person would do to their enemy's hair.

I admit I suddenly got nervous. I regretted giving Chad free reign of my hair. I tried to hide my panic. I'm not sure if I did a great job.

"If you're sitting there thinking, 'I look like shit', don't worry. I'm just getting rid of the unnecessary length."

Whew. I think. I was still a little uncertain of Chad's less than conventional techniques. But I didn't have much choice but to go with it. After getting rid of all the unnecessary length, he asked how short I was willing to go. I gave him an idea and then asked what he had in mind.

"Nothing in particular. I'm not going to shock the shit out of you. I won't give you a pixie or anything."

Whew. Because I can't pull off a pixie cut.

The conversation with Chad wasn't your typical hair dresser conversation. Chad's a straight shooter. He won't sugar coat it. And he didn't mess around with small talk. I like that. One of the most stressful things about a trip to the salon is digging through my brain, attempting to scrape up something that will make a suitable conversation. These days, a trip to the salon is one of the few times I am away from my two very loud children. The last thing I want to do in the chair is hold up my end of a conversation, intellectual or otherwise. So thank you, Chad, for not expecting me to chat about the weather, my kids, or my career path.

Chad finally found his artistic inspiration and he pulled my hair together in the end. He even took particular care in ensuring that both sides were the same length, something that many hair stylists don't seem to care about. Sure, it felt as if he was pulling my hair from the roots when he thinned it. And he came close to gouging out my eye a few times with the scissors and his fingers. But in the end, I was happy with my hair cut.

On a side note, I'd love to know how much you tip your hairstylist. That is my least favorite part of going to the salon (well, after the small talk anyway). I always worry that I won't tip them enough. So I add an extra dollar or two on so they won't complain about me after I leave. But then the next time, I feel obligated to tip at least that same amount. And it's usually more than I really want to tip them. Thoughts?