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Archive for July, 2010

I went Brazilian

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Last week I told Hubby #1, “I’m getting a Brazilian Blowout.”
He looked at me with a goofy grin and giggled.
“Northern Brazil, not Southern,” I corrected. “It’s a hair straightening thing.”
The goofy grin went away, the giggling stopped, and he rolled his eyes.

That he didn’t care much that my hair would be transformed from its natural, wavy-frizzy state into a sleek, smooth, perfect coif didn’t deter me. I was quite excited. I knew lots of people who’d had it done, and everyone (everyone) loved the results.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t deterred, but I was definitely apprehensive. As we all know, decisions make me nervous and even though the style only lasts a few months, the semi-permanence of it was definitely freaking me out. I mean, what if I didn’t like it? What if the next day I decided that huge, curly hair was the look for me? After countless days of wonky bangs after having been in the pool though, I decided to be brave and go for it.

So, I scheduled the appointment with a highly recommended man named Gui who actually came from Brazil. To him, this was just a regular old blowout I told myself. It was going to be fantastic. Then, Sunday morning, moments before Gui arrived at my house to perform the transformation, Hubby #1 asked me the fateful question:

“Have you done any research on this?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I know lots of people who’ve had it done.”
“But have you done any research? A woman in Brazil died.”

What was this? Opposite day?? It was ME who was supposed to be afraid of everything and Hubby #1 who was supposed to be the voice of reason. It was ME who refused to let us brush our teeth with Crest because I once read online that it caused cancer and HE was supposed to be the one who told me not to worry. Panic grabbed my heart at the exact moment the doorbell rang. Gui was here, it was too late…I was about to have beautiful hair even if it killed me.

I texted my BFF (and Brazilian Blowout survivor) the entire time and she reassured me I would be fine, but I couldn’t calm down. I think I was probably having a mild panic attack for the entire procedure which was exacerbated by the panic that it was the formaldehyde fumes killing me and not plain old fear that were responsible for my sweating palms, racing heart and spinning head. I managed to get through the process without anything tragic happening, and when Gui left me with instructions not to wet my hair for two full days, it really did look extraordinarily glamorous. I, however, was unable to enjoy the glamour because I felt quite certain I could feel the formaldehyde soaking into my head, through my skull, and embalming my brain.

That night, I was afraid to go to bed for fear that my Brazilian Blowout would kill me in my sleep. Instead I stayed up ridiculously late reading every Brazilian Blowout horror story the internet had to offer. In reality, there weren’t that many.

Monday morning, I woke up feeling slightly more relaxed, but I’d made a decision. The Brazilian Blowout had to go. So, a full 24 hours before Gui had instructed me to, I washed my hair. I washed my hair in lukewarm water with all doors open since the woman who died in Brazil was supposedly killed by formaldehyde fumes in her hot, steamy bathroom days after her blowout was done.

The result is that my hair is slightly sleeker and smoother than before, but a bit of the wave has returned a bit limper than it was before. Although I am well aware that I literally washed hundreds of dollars done the drain, I’m feeling more relaxed about the chemicals seeping into my brain. My Brazilian Blowout was beautiful while it lasted – about 22 hours. Yes, that’s a bit shy of the 2-4 month estimate, but in reality, I think one day of terror-inducing glamour is probably all I can take.

I am a cheater

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I am completely ashamed of my behavior, but I have to admit – I am a cheater. The cheatee is the lovely esthetician who has been dying my brows and lashes from their natural translucent blonde color to a more visible brown for almost two and a half years.

Our relationship began days before Baby #2 was born. I needed a brow and lash tint ASAP so that I would look presentable in the post-birth photos that would grace the pages of our family album for all future generations to see. I certainly didn’t want my great, great, great, great-grandchildren gasping in horror at their brow and lashless ancestor. When I called Salon #1 to make the appointment, but my usual esthetician, Girl #1, was not available. While I am normally a patient person (yeah, right), the baby was coming and I didn’t have time to wait for her…so I took an appointment with Girl #1A. I didn’t feel guilty of cheating at this point because I’d only been to Girl #1 a few times, plus she was the owner of the salon so she’d still be making money from me whether or not she was the one to actually do the job. Perhaps this was the wrong choice and perhaps karma really is a bitch because the appointment did not go well. Some sort of a snafu/misunderstanding with the brow dye left me with heavy, dark, Graucho Marx brows.

Girl #1A felt horrible and swore that the dye would wash off my skin in a couple days. Horrified, but maintaining my composure, I headed home hoping that Baby #2 would wait to make his entrance into the world until my face situation was under control. That night, when Hubby #1 got home, I showed him the disaster that were my brows. (It should be mentioned at this point that he is not, nor has he ever been, in favor of my monthly dye job, claiming that he prefers my au naturel face…ahhh, so sweet…but get real!)

“The brows aren’t really that bad,” he said, sounding uncharacteristically sympathetic.

“Really?” I asked feeling hopeful that things really weren’t as bad as they looked in the mirror at the salon.

“But your lashes are horrible. They’re blue.”

“What?!?” I shrieked and ran to the bathroom.

Sure enough, there were navy blue lashes framing my eyes. I had been so distraught over the dark brows that I had failed to even notice the lashes. My whole face was a disaster, the baby was days away, and all future generations would think they came from clown stock. The situation was so bad that I, Queen Wimp, called the salon the first thing the next morning and insisted they squeeze me in for whatever correction could happen. Thankfully, by the time Baby #2 arrived, I was in okay shape.

So, you would think with all that happened that I would have taken it as a sign from the Salon Gods that I should return to Girl #1, but I didn’t. I decided that I liked Girl #1A. She was so nice and apologetic about the mistakes that I had no choice but to forgive her, and then prove to her that she really was forgiven by going back again and again. We never had another issue…the color was perfect from then on…and all was well.

Then why, you ask, would I go behind her back and cheat on her? Well, it comes down to laziness. Our move last October shifted me a whopping 6.2 miles from Salon #1. I made the trek for almost eight months, but it was starting to wear me down. Then I got a postcard in the mail for a new salon, Salon #2, that is a much more manageable 3.01 miles from my house. I know! I’m a whore to save three miles of driving…although, it’s saving six miles roundtrip – I’m just saying. And, I hate to admit, I really do, but I’m happy at Salon #2. (I hate even more to admit that Girl #2 does a better job for for less money.)

I wondered if I needed to officially break-up with Girl #1, but because I am Queen Wimp, I will forever avoid the official relationship ending conversation. I do feel really guilty though! She’s so nice and she always did such a good job (from the second time on). Honestly, I think she would understand because she’s THAT nice. I hate that she’s being punished because I have an aversion to traveling outside a five mile radius from my home. Really, it’s not her, it’s me! I am a dirty, rotten, no-good cheater…with beautiful brows and lashes.

I am the good cop

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

There is a tricky dynamic at play in our home. I can’t say for sure if it’s man vs. woman, mars vs. venus, evil vs. good, or simply Hubby #1 vs. Kirsten, but what it comes down to is that under our roof, there is a bad cop (Hubby #1) and there is a good cop (yours truly). This means that if there is a misbehaving child, I negotiate rewards for good behavior and get no reaction, and he can scowl slightly and suddenly rooms are clean, teeth are brushed, and all arguing ceases. Sure there are times when I wish I wielded the power of being the bad cop, but inherently, I dislike the confrontation and I hate to disappoint anyone.

99% of the time, the balance works well. Occasionally though, the system fails miserably. This week was a system failure.

I’m sure we all remember the Great Dining Room Table Search of 2009-2010 and the resulting game of table delivery chicken with Gerard* from Crate and Barrel. Well, I’m happy to share that at long last we decided on a table. Well, what we actually decided was that our ideal table wasn’t out there, so we had it custom made. I know, we’re nuts. And just because we were no longer limited by the design specifications of tables already in existence, didn’t mean that the table acquisition became that much easier. In a way, it made it more complicated. Suddenly we were being confronted with needing to decide details that are already made for you when you buy a pre-made table. How high do you want the table? Uh, regular height. How wide? Um, wide enough to fit pretty centerpieces but not so wide that you have to yell to have a conversation with the person across from you. At long last, after multiple discussions with a furniture maker, one detailed drawing from Hubby #1, and three wood color samples later, the Table of our Dreams was complete.

I arranged for it to be delivered on a Monday (when Hubby #1 was at work). Right on time, the furniture maker and his son arrived at my house. Unfortunately for them, it turned out the be the hottest day of the year. To say the men struggled to get the table up the ten stairs between our driveway and our front door would be an understatement. Each step was agony to them, and I don’t think I’ve seen two people sweat so much before. They carefully placed the table in our dining room and I have to say, I was in awe. It really was everything I ever wanted. It actually made me quite emotional as I explained, with tears in my eyes, to Baby #1 that this would be the table we would be celebrating all the important events of our lives at for ever more. She didn’t seem to get why a piece of wood with legs was so special, but I knew that when Hubby #1 got home that he would share my sentiment. I mean, isn’t having a big dining room table for family and friends to gather part of the American Dream?

Instead, when Hubby #1 got home, he spent about three seconds feeling the love for the table with me, then became fixated on a slight ridge in the table’s finish. After some squinting and adjusting my head, I could see that it was true. With the light a certain way, and holding my head at a certain angle, I too could see the ridge, and I could feel it under my fingers.

“You need to call the furniture maker and ask him to come back and look at this,” Hubby #1 told me.
“What?!? Why me?”
“Because I’m swamped at work all day and you’re here,” he answered.

Crap. He had a good point. So, the next day I called the furniture maker and explained the problem. Then I arranged for him to come back on Saturday, so that Hubby #1 could be there to show him what we were talking about.

On Saturday, he came, and Hubby #1 showed him the slight ridge. He said the only thing he could do would be to take it back to his workshop and refinish the tabletop.

My answer was a resounding, “No, no, no…it’s not that big a deal. We love the table. Thank you for making it. I’m sure we’ll be by to buy lots more furniture from you in the future, and thank you again for coming by to look at it. Would you like a glass of water?”
Unfortunately, before I could get that out, Hubby #1 said, “When can you pick it up?”
“Monday,” was the furniture maker’s answer.

Crap, again. Monday meant that Hubby #1 wouldn’t have to be there…I would. That Monday turned out to be the second hottest day of the year. The furniture maker and his son didn’t seem to have any easier a time getting the table down the ten stairs than they did up. To make matters worse, I had to move my car across the street to clear the driveway for them and as a result, by the time I came back they had started to move the table down the steps which meant that I was trapped in our driveway with nothing to do but stand there watching them struggle and sweat. My guilt was huge. Here I was, the good cop being forced to carry out the bad cop’s orders!

The good news is that I insisted that the table had to be redelivered when the bad cop was on duty. And as luck would have it, I was out getting a lash and brow tint when it came so I didn’t even have to see the furniture maker’s sweaty face. Although, it was a considerably cooler day.

Now, we finally have our beautiful table – although I actually think that minus the ridge it was a tiny bit more beautiful before. Hubby #1 pointed out that I could call the furniture maker to come back and re-do it, but I think we both know that there is no way on earth that that is going to happen – it’s just not what the good cop does.

I have a confession

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I realize that I am probably going to find myself in front of the firing squad for this one, but here goes…I hate Costco. I have known this for quite some time, but for some reason, every few years I find myself wondering what it is I hate so much about the warehouse store that everyone else seems to love and so I re-visit, only to reconfirm what I knew all along. Costco is a hellhole.

Last week’s hate confirmation was spurred by the fact that I was hosting a party. My BFF, a loyal Coscto member, convinced me that one trip to the great Coscto would make the entire party planning process a cinch. I fell for it. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, and were pleasantly surprised that we quickly found a parking place only a half-mile across the parking lot. After picking up our double-wide cart, she flashed her membership and we were granted access. Almost immediately, my reasons for disliking Costco came back to me, but we were there…and truth be told, I needed the party planning to be a cinch, so for the moment, I kept drinking the Kool-Aid.

We made our way past the tvs and the engagement rings heading towards the booze. I got briefly waylaid by the books table and picked up a paperback en route to the alcohol. Once there, I loaded enough beer for a fraternity party into my cart. On we went, putting massive amounts of food and drink into the cart as we went. Around each corner, we were met with sample stations peddling bite-sized portions of highlighted items. We snacked and strolled. The whole place was at the intersection of fascinating and horrifying. I mean, it’s incredibly cool to see a vat of mayonnaise big enough for my children to swim in, but you see something like that and the cold, hard reality of why Americans are so overweight hits like a ton of…well, mayonnaise.

“This place is a hellhole,” I confirmed to my BFF as I loaded twenty pounds for $10 of the dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets I usually buy my children for $7 a serving at a local restaurant.
“What are you talking about?!? Look at all the great stuff you’ve gotten!” she motioned to my cart full of beer, chicken nuggets, a barrel of hummus and a crate of raspberries.
“Okay, fine,” I conceded. “For having a party it’s okay…but for real life, it’s ridiculous.”
“No, no,” she insisted. “It’s great. I only have to buy toilet paper twice a year.”

This was her argument? For me, buying toilet paper isn’t that big of a deal. In fact, I kind of like it because it’s an excuse to go to Target and buy cool stuff that I don’t need. If she told me that coming to Costco meant that I would only have to shave my legs twice a year, I’d seriously consider membership, but simply to buy a massive amount of tp? No thanks.

“Seriously?” I asked her, giving her a chance to come up with a good reason.
“What about the samples?” she challenged.
“You’re right,” I conceded. “If you want a slice of free sausage, this is the place to come.”
She remained loyal, and continued on the defensive. “If you have eight kids, you have to shop here,” she told me.
“Do you know anyone with eight kids?” I asked.

We stepped up to the check-out and got at the end of a line worthy of a Disneyland ride. At last our turn came and we heaved our super-sized selections onto the conveyor belt. Once again, she flashed her membership card – God-forbid somebody sneaked in and tried to buy seven thousand olives without having paid the $50 annual membership. I swiped my credit card through the machine…but there was a problem. It turned out that only the member was allowed to charge things at Coscto. So, BFF, stepped up and slipped her Amex into the machine. My items were loaded into cardboard boxes and we headed towards the exit past offerings of garage doors and caskets.

I realize I’m alone. All my friends are card carrying members. They all gush on and on about the wonderful deals on high quality products. Blah, blah, blah. Even Bethenny, my newest reality tv obsession had an on-air love affair with Costco! But seriously, we’ve all seen her apartment. Where is she going to store a million rolls of Charmin and ten gallons of hearts-of-palm?

“Admit it, you had fun,” BFF cornered me as we filled the trunk of my SUV.
“Of course I had fun,” I had to be honest. “Who wouldn’t have fun where you can buy a swingset, lobster tails, and tampons in the same place?”
She looked triumphant.
“But I’m never coming back!”
She looked deflated.

Whew. There it is. The truth is out and it’s like a weight has been lifted off my chest. I know what you’re thinking…hating Costco is un-American. It’s like hating apple pie (which I’m really just so-so on) or hating butterflies (which I actually do like – I swear). I’m sure in a couple years I’ll start to doubt myself again. By then, I’ll probably be out of dinosaur chicken nuggets, and maybe by then the almighty Coscto will have stocked up on some industrial sized product that means I’ll only have to shave my legs twice a year…and that’s when I’ll join.

I had a near-death experience

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

My get-in-shape plan has, quite literally, not been a downhill climb.

As I’ve mentioned before, we live at the top of a fairly steep hill. I have had the misfortune of walking up it a few times (refer to the I hate it when my kid calls my bluff post from February 20, 2010), and each time I’ve been met with a sharp, stinging sensation in my chest when I breathe. For some reason though, after doing the Body by Bethenny DVD once (and still having sore muscles as a result), I thought that, perhaps, I was now in good enough shape to hike our hill. Seriously, hike is the proper verb – “walk,” doesn’t properly explain the incline I’m talking about.

I decided to get a second opinion before I did anything rash.

me to Hubby #1, “Do you think I’ll die if I push Baby #2 up our hill in the stroller?”

Hubby #1 (quite confidently), “No.”

Okay, there I had it – reassurance that my life was not at risk. So, this morning I loaded Baby #2, a big bottle of water, my iPhone, garage door opener, keys, and a cup of blueberries (for him) into the stroller and got ready to head out. I just want to be very clear at this point that the kid, the stroller and all the stuff meant that I was heading out with about 50 lbs. in front of me. The first thing I realized was that getting the stroller down the hill was harder than I had expected. I had to hold on really tight and it forced me to walk in a gait that made my feet feel like they were going to shoot through the fronts of my cute pink Nikes. I tried to hold the leash like strap that is attached to the stroller handlebar, but the stroller kept veering off to the side and bumping into the curb when I did this, so I had to risk my shoes and just hold on. We got to the bottom of our hill in one piece. So far, so good.

It was at this moment that I made what I believe was a potentially fatal mistake. Instead of going left, where the walk would have been slightly uphill, I went right…and therefore kept going downhill. I kept going down, enjoying the lovely walk until I got quite a long way down and realized that now I had a long, long way up to go in order to go home. I felt a little panicked and tried to figure out my options. Call Hubby #1 at his office to come pick me up (afterall, it was sort of his fault that I was in this predicament)? Ask one of the many gardeners I passed to give me a ride? Make Baby #2 get out of the stroller, abandon it at the side of the road, and make him walk himself home? None of the options were good…Hubby #1 wouldn’t have come, I was too embarrassed to ask a gardener, and Baby #2 wasn’t wearing any shoes. I had no choice but to suck it up and go the distance.

I’m not going to lie to you…it was extremely painful. My legs, still sore from Bethenny’s workout, were in agony. My chest stung with every breath. The stroller seemed to be getting heavier and heavier. And was it me, or did the temperature suddenly go up 15 degrees? Finally I made it up the hill. For a few brief moments it was touch and go. Most of the way up, I cursed Hubby #1 for letting me believe that I could do this. I also wondered if, perhaps, he’d taken life insurance out on me. I worried that when I passed out that the stroller would roll back down the hill and that I, with my right wrist securely through the leash strap, would be drug along behind it.

At last, we reached home. The final leg of our journey – our own hill, being the steepest and most difficult part of the climb. Adding insult to injury was the fact that when we made the final turn to go up our hill, Baby #2 recognized his surroundings and started complaining that he did not want to go home. He whined about it the entire way up our hill. When we finally made it to our house and I pushed the stroller inside the garage, he refused to get out, demanding, “Again!” and “More walk!” I was seeing yellow and orange spots in front of my eyes and was breathing so hard that I could barely swallow the water I was drinking. Instead, I turned into one of those marathon-running fitness freaks who spits water out. In reality though, his refusal to cooperate served me well because it meant that I could sit down and rest for a few minutes before climbing the ten steps to our front door.

At last, he gave up and I regained enough energy to make it inside, completely debunking the myth that exercise energizes a person and giving me serious reason to doubt my whole “get in shape” plan.