Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Art of a Brush

It was time.

Actually, let's be honest, it was past time... by about 3 years. The last time I got my hair cut, I was standing in my own living room, head upside down, instructing my very nervous husband exactly when and where to snip. I was trying a little trick I learned on YouTube the previous day and, let's just be brief by saying, it ended badly. I tried to convince myself that mullets were coming back in - and that girls could sport them. But who was I kidding! Over the course of the next three days, we hacked away at it a little here and there until I felt a little more willing to show my face in public. Enter in the pony-tails and that's about where we've been for the last two years.

I guess Brian got a little tired of me complaining about my hair (or perhaps he got tired of looking at it) because a couple of weeks ago he excitedly mentioned that he had set up an appointment for me at a nice salon in the mountains. I was leaving the next day, kid free, to spend a few days with him. Relaxing in his apartment, touring the awesome city he lives in, reading during the days while he was working, and now... getting my hair done. I actually don't like getting my hair done. I'm not very good at small talk, plus I feel nervous about providing an adequate 'happy' reaction when the final look is presented. But, as Brian knew, I'd be happy once it was over.

I walked into the salon with my long hair in a thin pony-tail, dangling down in it's usual pattern and said hello to my stylist, Brett. Permanent smile, twinkly blue eyes, and a thick, stylish, sandy brown mohawk bleached blond at the tips. Yep, I thought to myself, he fits the part of a stylist. Warm and friendly, Brett put me at ease quickly - not unlike how I imagine I would feel around an older brother if I had one. He sat next to me and we talked for a while about what I was looking for - I showed him pictures and he gave me some suggestions...

"Alright!" he said, "I've got the look for you! Do you know how to use a brush?"
Odd question, I thought. Who doesn't know how to use a hairbrush? But his tone was serious, as if it wouldn't be weird at all for me to say no. My ego boosted. "Yep," I said. I use one every day! Why, I used one this very morning to put my hair up in this ponytail.

Soon my nostrils filled with the scent of hair color as the foils and highlights were painted, strip by strip, into my drab hair. An hour later, I looked like a frizzy martian as I sank into the cushions of a bay window to read my book, watch the people walk by, and wait for the highlights to do their damage. A wash, a rinse, and then clumps of hair - my hair - hit the ground with finality. I watched every move in the mirror in front of my chair, and I was happy with what I was seeing. The blow-dryer whizzed into action and a large, round brush came out of the drawer next to Brett's arm.

"Now we just blow it out with the brush!" he said. He set to work pinning up portions of hair to dry others. Some he curled under, some he curled over, some he didn't curl at all. I found myself studying his moves, questions filling my brain. I started to ask them, but then I remembered... Do you know how to use a brush, he had said.

Oh dear.

It was too late now. Besides, what would I say to him? So, do you remember that time you asked me if I knew how to use a brush? Well, you see, I thought you meant a regular hairbrush - of which I know all the rules - start at the top and move to the bottom, you know... I felt like an idiot. Of course he didn't mean a regular hairbrush! Who doesn't know how to use a regular old hairbrush?! But this... this thing he was using looked much more complicated.

I watched and searched for answers to my own questions in his work. How hard can it be, right? My hair looked awesome for two days - but then it was time to wash it. And dry it. Dry it. With that thing. I tried, I really did, but I only have two arms, and I'm pretty sure you need a third in there somewhere to help out. Plus, that round brush seems to have a mind of it's own on whether or not it will actually hold the hair I intend it to, and sometimes it decides to curl only the top half of the lock and leave it sticking out like a bad case of bed-head. Other times it curls it violently, leaving me with poofy anchor-woman hair.

Well, I've done it four times now, all by myself (thank you), with varying degrees of success. All I ask is that, if you see me walking around town with a funny looking curl in the middle of my head, just don't say anything.

It's not my fault... it's that blasted brush. (That's what we who are in-the-know call a round brush these days.)

I could be wrong, but...

...this seems to be a bit more deliberate than simple toothpaste splatters on the mirror...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birthday Eyes

It's all in his eyes. Big. Beautiful. And sometimes the only clue I have into his little heart. He tries to mask his feelings - but those pesky eyes, they never lie. Not to me. When he's happy they sparkle, even when he hides his smile. When he's sad they droop, even when he holds his tears. When he's sick they're flat, even when he's bouncing. They squint when he's confused, open bright when he's excited, dart when he knows he's in trouble. When they catch the light just right they pierce my heart and my face melts into that puppy dog gaze as a reaction to the paradoxical pain that comes from beauty and love. He might just kill me with those eyes.

He seems sure that he turned five last week, but does he look five to you? Because I'm pretty sure someone snuck a couple of years in there while I wasn't looking. We had to be a bit creative with his birthday pictures because he seems to think that shards of glass will shoot out of my camera lens if he glances at it. I decided not to torture him on his big day, so I left my camera home. His birthday was complete with food, friends, fun ... and some of the brightest eyes I've seen on him for a while. Thank you to his best friend, Parker, an awesome sticker, and the museum of life and science for entertaining my child and making him feel like I'm the best mom ever. I'm also the best mom ever because I let Chick-Fil-A's play place take the lunch hour away from us (read: no mess for me to clean up), then I let them trade in their happy meal toys for ice cream (read: no cluttery toy collection to worry about), and we brought free balloons home (okay, this was pretty awesome of me because I hate balloons. Really), where I let them play away the afternoon in front of Mario (read: where I put my feet up and took a nap). I'm getting the hang of this mothering gig.

He felt like a king when the friends came over and he pulled out his new Star Wars encyclopedia. He can't even read, yet he pours over this book every night before going to sleep. The boys in the house were magnetized to it. These four specifically sat here for over half an hour turning the pages, gasping, cheering, and booing at all the pictures.

Then we pulled out the cake... I really outdid myself on this cake *squirm*. Ice cream, frozen in three cheesecake pans, plopped on top of each other, with star wars characters plunked on top. You know what? It tasted awesome. And the kids kept asking for more.

I learned a little something - the amount of time and preparation you put into your child's birthday really is no indication of how much you love them. And, it's not really an indication of how much fun they're going to have, either. Carson's birthday happened to fall in a season where I could give very little of myself into making it special for him. There was no formal party, no special outing... there wasn't even Daddy except for a few minutes through the computer screen. But it was full of his favorite day-to-day things, packed to the brim with hugs and kisses, and at the end of the night when I asked him if he'd had a good day, he looked up at me with those eyes - so big... so beautiful - and I saw my very favorite look flash through them. That look that comes one tiny second before he says my four favorite words,

"I love you, Mom."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I think. Tomorrow is a new day and tonight's sleep will reboot my system. But that blasted tomorrow keeps becoming today and, for some reason, today hasn't been going very well lately. My batteries are empty, and my recharging stations seem to have lost power. Brian's residency program has stolen him away from me - literally - and placed him in a city three and a half hours from our home. He's been gone for 4 and a half months now (you read it right) coming home every-other weekend when he's not on call. And on the other weekends, I pack the kids up and make the long drive out to spend some time in his tiny (tiny) apartment. We miss him. We miss him a lot.

It's our anniversary today. It's hard not to cry when I think about it, though. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and longing for the little things that are hard to appreciate until you miss them...
* his 6'4" frame that can change the light bulbs without dragging stools all over the house
* his smile that is always on his face as he walks in the door
* his happy disposition that lightens the mood in our home
* his playfulness that pulls the kids to him
* his muscles that could easily unscrew the bolts under the sink when it's clogged with mud
* his nightly snacky-appetite that drives him to pop popcorn for us, or heat up some chips with cheese melted over, or dish up bowls of ice cream
* his consistency in mowing the lawn before it starts sprouting
* his willingness to fix the master toilet when it sprays water up to the ceiling every time I flush, or the kids' toilet when it won't stop running
* his help in decorating the house and wrapping presents for our child's birthday
* his remembering to wheel the garbage out to the corner every week
* his attention to my emotions and insistence that I take a little break when I need it
* his efficiency in whipping the house into order when dishes, clothes and toys threaten to eat our children
* his love of a house full of sleeping children, two spoons in a carton full of our favorite ice cream, and our feet propped up in front of our current favorite show
* his calm reminder that life is to be enjoyed

I'm not quite the same without him. I'm still trying to figure out how I can feel so busy and so lonely at the same time... We only have two and a half weeks left until he comes home for good, but I have to be honest in saying I'm a little concerned about the state he'll find our home and family in at that time - hopefully today is no indication of how things are going to be then: this is night four of Miles sleeping in just his diaper because he has no clean pajamas, my kitchen floor hasn't been mopped in so long I'm afraid there might be mold growing in the food spills, the toilet in the hall is currently running - it's probably an easy fix, but I just have no energy to stand up and lift the lid to see what the problem is. The phone has been ringing off the hook, and I have cried to four different people through the receiver. Four people! I've had four extra kids in my home for the past three days - so you can imagine the state of the playroom. Two kids decided to wash some 'rocks' in our bathroom sink, which really meant filling up buckets full of mud and dumping them down the drain until no more water could travel down and the whole thing had to be unscrewed to get the mud out - which left a bucket full of muddy water that was later stepped on and spilled across the entire bathroom floor, leaving a 1/4 inch of muck in the bath mats, across the floor and in the closet. The end of today found me on my hands and knees, sopping up the mucky water with quiet tears dripping from the tip of my nose.

And then I felt my children. My sweet, sweet, wonderful children wrapped their arms around me and McKenzie and Carson cried silently with me for a minute. I hugged them tightly and told them just how much I love them and thanked them for being so caring. I assured them that my tears were not a result of anything they had done - just that I missed Daddy and it had been a hard day. Minutes later I went to get another towel and passed McKenzie talking to Miles on the couch, "Mommy is having a hard night, Miles," she explained. "We need to be nice to Mommy. Can you be nice to Mommy, Miles?"

Tonight showed me that, though my family life is anything but stable right now, we are pulling through it. My children love me - and I love them desperately. When Brian found out about the day's frustrations he lent a listening, caring ear - and when I mentioned, at 6:15pm, that I hadn't even thought about dinner yet, he sat in his apartment 200 miles away and ordered a pizza to be delivered to my home.

Thank you, Brian, for finding ways to take care of me. My life is so much better with you in it, and I miss you. Today was a bit rough, but tomorrow, tomorrow is a new day and tonight's sleep will reboot my system. And if nothing else, it will bring me one day closer to having you home with me again. Happy anniversary, dear. I love you.

And now, at 11:30pm, on to figure out that running toilet, wheel the garbage out to the corner, sweep the crumbs from the kitchen and the dry dirt and pebbles from the bathroom, throw the sopping towels in the washer, start the dishwasher...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011