Follow by Email

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Day, Another Gymnast?

Photo Credit: Gabrielle Grafrath
"I think it's stupid that I have to smile, even if I don't feel like it." 8-year-old Daphne, on her gymnastics performances.


It's happening again. The same comments I got when D was about Mal's age I'm now getting about Mal: "When he gets older, he needs to be in gymnastics." For some reason, my kids were apparently both born with a sense of balance, agility, and athleticism that I do not have.

Daphne was just under 2.5 when she started a little tumbling class at a community center in Las Vegas.

Sorry for the blur;trying not to flash in her face.

D was in the class for about two months before we moved away, and her teacher, who had been a gymnast in Russia, told me, "You need to be sure she gets into a gymnastics program wherever you move."

Sitting om her circle.
So we did. And she was in the same gym from the time she was just pre-3 until the summer we moved, when she was just pre-11.

Today, not for the first or second or even third time (I guess I've lost track), someone told me that I needed to get Mal into some sports program "like gymnastics." People usually start the conversation after watching him scramble up a slide or jump around on the trampoline with no characteristic toddling. When I say he's 20 months, they're shocked (also, he's really big for a not-yet-2-year-old; like, I need to get to get some 3T clothes because his 2Ts are getting way too short-waisted) and mention that he is going to be some kind of athlete.

So today, I started thinking forward to when Mal might be old enough to start a class. Right now, he can't follow instructions (an email I got on development recently said that one way to avoid stress at this age is "don't expect your child to do what you ask... but keep asking, anyway." So he's right on track). When he can, it'll be fun to see what he can do. He accidentally did a somersault the other day, and James just went crazy because it was such a shock. So Mal decided to "flip" again, by putting his head down on the ground and kind of falling over to the side. Every time he did it, he'd expect us to clap and cheer just as enthusiastically as when he'd really done it. But we do know he has it in him.

When D was in gymnastics, I read Little Girls in Pretty Boxes and Chalked Up and they kind of run together in my memory, but I think it was Jennifer Sey who talked about how girls kind of age out of competitive gymnastics by the time they're 16 or 17, but because of how males develop, they don't really hit their stride until about then. She mentioned the competitions where there would be a bunch of 14-year-old girls and 22-year-old men, and I was glad Daphne wasn't on track for the Olympics.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how naturally powerful Daphne was, and how she made up in force what she might have lacked in finesse. She had to work very hard to get the dance portion of the sport down, and until today I don't really think I considered the difference in how men's gymnastics and women's gymnastics are scored. When I got home, I looked it up and couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. But what I read did talk about how women's floor routines include more dance moves and jumps whereas men's floor routines have more gymnastic skills.

But even without it in writing, Daphne got a few messages about aesthetics: 1) Smile, always. Think about it, the girls in the national competitions do it, too. Smile and wave and be adorable. That's part of women's gymnastics. Daphne believed, even if she were never told this directly, that points would be deducted if she did not smile at the end of each "thing." 2) No one can be able to tell that you're wearing undergarments. Daphne told me that if their bra strap showed or you could see any bands or whatever that there would be deductions taken, too.

Okay, both of those: How effing stupid. Seriously?! A girl just tumbles her heart out and if she doesn't look like Little Miss Sunshine at the end, she's not going to be judged as "good" as someone who cheeses it up convincingly? Do you see men grinning like giddy kids when they do their gymnastics? Then why should girls have to? Did she do the skill? Then she gets the points. I understand aesthetics like control of fingers, toes, legs symmetrical, etc. I get maintaining a tidy posture, graceful, even. But to feel like if you wear adequate support and someone can tell, you're not going to place as high? What the heck?

I told Daphne that she should be glad she did gymnastics when she did, because if the smiling thing were actually written down somewhere, today I'd probably lead some charge to have it removed.

I was always very sensitive to the messages Daphne was getting from gymnastics, as I knew the horror stories of body-shaming, berating, negativity, etc. And we were SO fortunate to find a place that was completely absent of any of that. It was a fun place, and they had the girls' whole-person formation as the priority instead of just doing well at this sport and looking nice doing it. It was treated like a genuine sport, not a beauty pageant plus some tumbling, and as difficult as it was for Daphne to make friends (she was always quite a bit younger than much of the team), the fact that it was a safe environment for her to learn was never something I took for granted. (Shout out to Gymnastic Sport Center in Sherman!)

As an aside, I remember a radio disc jockey in Las Vegas saying that anything that has to be scored subjectively isn't a sport, so that basketball, football, soccer, and hockey are sports, but that gymnastics, ice skating, cheer leading, and even boxing if it's not a KO or TKO. But I digress. You can discuss that amongst yourselves...

So, the sexist reality is that I don't have any of those fears for Mal if he ends up competing in gymnastics. Some things are just easier for boys.

I'll probably wait until 2017, and maybe even until he's 3, then see if he wants to take a beginner class. Until then, we'll be at My Gym a couple of times a week, brushing up on those core skills.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Day in the Life

Hi, guys. This is my horse. I'm the one on the horse. That's me, Mal. Pretty cute, right?

I'm twenty months old today, and I thought you might like to know what my days are like. I'll tell you one thing: When I'm in charge, it'll be a lot different. Right now, I'm captive to the whims of my mom, who doesn't like to have as much fun as I do. Apparently, at some point, she tires of picking me up to look at air conditioners. Someday I'll be tall enough to see myself, but you want to know a secret? I'll still ask her to pick me up. See that face up there? She can't resist it. Until her back starts hurting.

So here goes... I usually start waking up as soon as the light starts to peek over the horizon. I require a lot of milk during that hour or two. I'm ready to get out of bed before my parents are, so I crawl all over them for a while, trying to wake them up. Mom sometimes has to go to the restroom before I'm ready to let her go; how rude. Then she heads into the kitchen to start coffee (yuck!) for Dad, so I usually ask for Bee.

Fortunately, my mom knows that "Bee" means what they call the "computer," for some reason. My favorite thing to watch is videos from Little Baby Bum, but I also like Starfall. We can only do Starfall if Mom doesn't have too much to do because she has to press the buttons for me. I try, but when I bang on the keys, it just messes up the screen. Stupid Bee.

After a while, we usually go into my room and I play with my stuff. I have a lot of cool things, and sometimes I just like to take inventory of several drawers or my closet by pulling everything out. Also, there are cool fake food things in my play kitchen, and I quiz my mom by asking her to name them all. Every day. She does it, too! I like to tell her the colors, though. I am not sure whether the corn is yellow or green. Can it be both?

I have a ball pit, a table and chairs -- ooh! If I climb up on the table ("Use the chair, not the cushions!" my mom always says. She can't even handle the slightest goose-egg on my forehead! She should get used to it.), I can see the air conditioners under my window. Whenever I hear the a/c come on in my room, I scramble up and look. That fan goes around and around! Sometimes I see squirrels and bunnies. Sometimes people are walking their dogs.

Also, sometimes in the morning, if it's nice outside, we sit on the patio. I can pull the top off of my sand box now, but I keep forgetting to put it back on and Carol pees in my sand! Oh, and we have these really thick bubbles that don't pop as fast as the ones we had before. I like to chase those down.

Usually, if we don't go anywhere, I also want to walk up to the office before lunch. They have a neat work-out room and a big bowl with hard candies Mom calls "Jolly Ranchers." I get one every time we go, so it's pretty important to go every day. There's also a red felt table with very heavy balls that make a loud noise if you drop them on the ground. They have fun long sticks you can use as vacuums. In back, there's a big pool of water in the ground. I take off my shoes and sit on the edge so I can soak my feet on days we don't swim. There are a lot of air conditioners by the office, so we have to go there, too. They're tall, and Mom has to pick me up or I can't see the fans going around and around.

Words are hard for my mouth. I say "hot" for "hot," "on," "off," and "light." Usually, Mom and Dad get what I mean. I say "hot" a lot when we're walking back from the office, because I want to see all of the air conditioners. I know where they are. Every one of them in this whole complex. There are twelve buildings, and some of the units are hidden behind hedges, but I have seen them. I climb through thickets if I have to. Those things are fascinating. My parents seem to have a weird thing about climbing into bushes outside of neighbors' windows, but come on... they can't even see me, so I don't care.

For lunch, I usually just eat whatever mom is eating, which is usually pizza, plus some fruit. I love fruit. I love all of it. I will eat it all right now. Just kidding I saved you some. But not much. My favorite foods are blackberries, grapes, bananas, fruit snacks (as in "we'd better not run out or there will be scream/crying"), soda (some people think this make my Mom a bad mommy; I think it makes her a GREAT mom. Plus, I think she's just too tired to fight me on that one). I like string cheese, but only if Mom cuts it into chunks. If it's whole, I will play with it but not eat it.

We usually play some more in the apartment before my nap. You never know when I might go to sleep. It could be noon; it might be three. It could be never! Ha ha haa!

We read books I pick out. I usually know within a few pages if we need to abandon it or if we'll be reading it five times in a row. And my tastes change from one day to another. Loved the book yesterday, will fuss if you insist on reading it today. I'm fun like that.

Used to, when I was a little kid, I didn't like it for my mom even to go into the other room to throw away my diaper, but now it's kind of fun to play by myself. I can pretend I'm cooking something, or that I'm playing a concert with my ukulele and amp. In fact, sometimes I'll leave the room she's in just so I can have some privacy to play. And poop. Not on the toilet, though. I don't like that at all. Well, I like to sit on it because it's fun to throw the toilet paper into the potty. But I don't actually use it in there.

When I go to sleep. I usually stay asleep for just under an hour before I need help getting back to sleep for another hour... Or I might just be awake after that. OR I might nurse for a full hour, fooling my mom into thinking there is more nap to follow. Heh heh.

In the afternoon, I like to watch videos when I'm relaxing, or sometimes, like today, I ask to go to the gym. I can't say that yet, so I just pantomime jumping on the trampoline and dancing to music, and Mom knows what I mean. We communicate great like that. When we go to the gym at 3, no one is there because they're picking up their brothers and sisters from school. I can do whatever I want! Whenever I see other kids on the things I want to use, I don't hesitate to tell them to get off. That makes Mom frustrated, and she keeps saying something about how everyone gets a turn, but I don't believe that's how it works.

When my sister is awake, sometimes she hangs out with us in the living room and I show her all of my neat tricks. She acts unimpressed, but I know she's secretly loving it. She's going to be so proud of me!

I can tell it's about time for Daddy to get home when mom starts putting dinner together. I usually eat some fruit or sample what she's making for dinner because by the time Dad gets home, it's pretty late and I'm running off the rest of my energy for the day.

A lot of times, we go downstairs and walk around to look for my Daddy, like this. <<<That's a video.

My Daddy hurt his feet and sometimes we walk around after he gets home, but sometimes we drive around and I get to steer. I show him the air conditioners, too, since he's not here during the day when I show Mommy. Sometimes we see doggies, which I like, but mostly from farther away.

When we get home, it's time for dinner. I don't enjoy sitting down much, so while my family eats, a lot of times, I'll climb on my slide or play dinner music. After dinner, Daddy and I jam together.

At some point, my mom arbitrarily decides I need to go to bed, and I am not a fan. It takes me a long time to wind down. I usually get out of bed at least once or twice after she lies down with me. The other night, I brought her a purple block from the living room. She didn't want it and tried to give it back, but I wouldn't take it. Instead, I ran back into the living room and got another block. I brought it in and put it on the bed. Then I ran back into the living room and got a third block and put it on the bed. Eventually, I had lined two edges of the bed with more than thirty blocks, running back and forth for each one, before the block box was light enough just to bring the whole thing into the bedroom. Mom helped me clean up the blocks, and I'd used up the remainder of my energy so was able to fall asleep.

I don't remember much about when I'm sleeping, but Mom complains all the time about how I wake up something that she calls "half a dozen to a dozen" times a night. I am not sure she's telling the truth about this. If it were real, why wouldn't I remember it?

Oh, goodness. I didn't even talk about our cats, or how I help Mommy do chores, or any of that. We'll have to save it for another time. That's my average day in a nutshell!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

There are days, and I'm having quite a few of them lately, when I am profoundly disappointed by my inability to make close friends in Austin like I did in Sherman, and like I thought I did in Las Vegas (but after I moved realized I really hadn't).


There is definitely something to be said with being so very comfortable with a group of people that you know and who know you so that you don't have to explain things. Inside jokes and obscure references and all that.

For example, a few months ago, D and I were talking when Mal got upset and started wailing (remember: he doesn't have a "middle," he only has glowingly cheerful or full-tilt breakdown). I could see D blanche and start to head back to her room.

I hollered after her, "So you're just like Voldemort?"

Grinning, she said, "Yes. Exactly that."

Then more recently, I went into Mal's room to tidy up and saw some plastic change from his cash register sitting on the floor. I picked it up, opened the register, and called to James, "I'm afraid this register till is going to be our smiley face mushroom." James laughed from the other room, and my heart fluttered.

It's so centering to be able to throw things out and just have them "gotten," and then to feel gotten myself. Home is the most important place, and I'm so blessed to share my home with people I actually enjoy as people. They make up for everything else that I might feel tugging at my heart sometimes. 

So... There's a line in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, just as, in a flashback, Voldemort is about to try to off Baby Harry, that says, "He did not like it crying, he had never been able to stomach the small ones whining in the orphanage—" And that's how D is like Voldemort. Well, that's one way.

The other thing is a lot more obscure. 

First: Mal has a cash register. When we were setting it up, there was some disagreement about how to put the money in the drawer. My inclination was to put it with the big bills and big coins on the left, going down to the pennies and one dollar bills on the right. It seemed like that's how we did it when I was a cashier. James' inclination was to do it left-to-right like you'd write numbers 1, 5, 10, etc. I looked it up and, yeah, the proper way to do it is how I wanted to do it. This pretty much never happens with numbers and me, especially when James is involved.

However, James still likes it the other way better, even knowing it's not the way a standard cash register would be set up. Consequently, almost any time he's alone with Mal playing in Mal's room, he will rearrange the money in the drawer. Then I have to re-rearrange it correctly when I notice this.

Second: Go WAY back in time to high school. I often peppered my notes with smiley faces (actually, I still do this). My smiley faces are just two vertical lines for eyes and a half-circle for a smile. Like this...

Well, one of my friends like to do this thing. He'd add three lines to my smiley face, thusly...
Then turn it upside down and, voila:


Don't ask me why, because I don't have an answer, unless it's that I was a hormonally-charged teenage girl, but his defacing my smileys made me inordinately angry. It just miffed me to bits, and I would blanche and get really hot and bothered and seriously, if I want to do it, I can mentally go back there and kind of feel the dark cloud gathering above my head. 

Thank God I'm so mature now, though, right?

But my point is this: James knows my stories. I think he knows all of them. I get so sad sometimes (again, lately I've been pretty maudlin), wishing we could have been together all of this time -- especially on days like today when I decide that the bb cream I'm using actually accentuates my pores and wrinkles and I wish James had had years to look at my face back when my freckles were still flat on my face and my skin was all one consistent color.

However, we must have gotten something right, because I think we managed to tell each other everything and catch up on twenty years before we had Mal. That's a good thing, because we barely finish sentences anymore, much less whole trains of thought. 

There's not really a point to this post; just wanted to remind myself now and in the future that I have good teammates on this journey. I'm so glad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Growing, growing, growing

That kid. Oh my goodness, he's learning at an astonishing rate.

Last week, for the first time, he started being territorial with the toys at the gym. He was going up the slide and another kid was going the opposite way. Mal held his hand out and said, "Na na na na na na na." That's me, I'm afraid. When he's doing something and I want him to stop, I notice that I repeat, "No no no no no!" really quickly, I guess to get his attention.

Also, in the past week, kids have twice pushed him off of things. He's looked at me both times like, "What just happened?" but moved on. As opposed to when a kid starts to use something he wasn't even interested in before but now wants, in which case he starts to throw a fit until I point him elsewhere.

Actually, a kid hauled off and hit Mal, too, but Mal didn't really notice. The kid's mom was mortified, and kind of chased us all around the gym, demanding that her son apologize, which he did not. It was... Well, I would have handled it differently. Anyway, no harm, no foul.

Mal doesn't always "obey." If he'd rather do something besides what I'm asking, he will often carry on. However, more and more, he *is* doing what I ask, even when he doesn't like it. He will typically respond now if I call out (in a pretty stern voice) in a parking lot. Actually, if we're walking in our complex and I say, "There's a car," he'll come stand next to me until it has passed.

A couple of times last week, he obeyed but wasn't happy about it, which was adorable. One time, we'd just gotten home from the store and he wanted to walk around the parking lot but I had an armful of bags. He was motioning that he wanted to go up to the office for a Jolly Rancher, and I said, "Mal, we can't go right now. I have to take this stuff upstairs. Please come this way." He started bawling and yelling, but came with me. I'l take it! It's progress.

I was thinking about it, about how now it's developmentally appropriate for him to start understanding and sometimes bending his will to mine and wondering: Would he have gotten it any sooner if I'd punctuated my requests with swats when he didn't comply, or some other form of "discipline" to get his attention? I don't think so. And I think our relationship is stronger for not having had to resort to those things.

Also, yes, I do expect him to run full out into traffic next time we leave the apartment, now that I've waxed philosophical about that.

In the past couple of days, he has cracked me up so much.

The day before yesterday, I had gotten an outfit to put on his baby doll. He didn't want her dressed, so he took it from me. I said, "Mal, she's half naked and the elastic is worn out of her drawers. She wants some clothes!" So I picked the outfit up again. He took it AND the baby that time. He then went on to play, and I was going to put the outfit back into the drawer. When he saw me pick it up, he shook his head, took it, walked across the room and put it down on his couch, where I couldn't reach it, and went back to what he had been doing.

Yesterday, we were getting ready to go to the gym. He hates wearing clothes right now. I don't blame him. It's already hit the 90/90 death zone at least once... 90 degrees, 90% humidity. Take me home, Jesus. Anyway, he had his shorts on but had decided to go play with his kitchen instead of putting on the shirt. I followed him over and put one arm into the sleeve of the button-up you see in the picture above. He pulled the shirt off and threw it down. I picked the shirt up and tried the opposite arm, then he took the shirt from me, shoved it up under his arm so he could keep track of it, and continued to play.

That kid cracks me up.

He will pretend to be asleep, too, when he's nursing and I mention either his changing his diaper or that I need to go to the restroom. Suddenly, he's in sleepland and I guess none of those awful things are going to happen. But if I say, "No no! Don't go to sleep!" he'll start grinning, which isn't a great thing to do when you're nursing, if you're at all interested in your mother's comfort. But it's on me for cracking HIM up, and it's so cute, I still do it.

He's fallen asleep twice this week shortly after nursing, but not with the milk dispenser in his mouth at the time.

He is increasingly interested in his dad, and spent a whole hour with him last night while I ran to the grocery store for snacks. He didn't even notice I was gone until I was on my way home. That is the first time I've left him on a weeknight like that, and the first time I've gone to the store alone since he was born, and the first time I've been out of the house at night alone in like two years. So it's a pretty big deal.

James has always wanted to practice his guitar "more," and one great thing about Mal being so into his daddy is that Mal asks to play with him a lot, and James has gotten back into it. Mal has a ukulele that he plays while his dad works on songs he used to know, and scales, and learning new stuff.

Mal loves to sing and play and wants music going pretty much all of the time. In the gym, between songs, he always looks at me and signs "more." It's like he forgets that they always follow one song with another song. But I'm glad he's into music. Maybe he'll like it enough to want to learn to play an instrument or two, unlike his mom and sister.

Because he'd had a very late three-hour nap yesterday, Mal didn't go to sleep until ten. Consequently, I didn't go to sleep until midnight, knowing I'd regret it today. Of course, Mal woke up earlier than usual, as he always does when he goes to sleep late. It's weird. His "normal" bed time is 8:30-9:15; in that case, he typically sleeps until 6:45-7:30. When he goes to sleep after 9:30, we can pretty much know we'll be up before 6:30. I guess he just misses one whole sleep cycle in that case.

Well, I was so sleepy this morning, so I got up and moving. Because Mal was in such a great mood, I was able to dust the house, do "deep" vacuuming (where you move everything but the biggest furniture), get a chicken ready for dinner, empty the dishwasher, get the recycling ready for pick-up (we had a couple of Amazon deliveries, so there were boxes to break down, etc.), do a load of laundry (that's still in the dryer because I'm on break, dang it), and clean up where my sweet boy soiled the carpet (but at least we saved a diaper, I suppose). That was in addition to watching some music videos together, playing in his room, reading some books, having breakfast, and wrestling on the bed while he wound down for nap. And I got twenty minutes of sleep at the top of his nap!

Now I need to go do some retirement stuff for my hard-working man...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ridiculousness with medicine!

It's been a while since D has had a well checkup. 12.5 years, if you're counting, which I wasn't until the PA asked, and then I felt a little sheepish. Anyway, it seemed like the time was right (and ripe?) to get a full physical and blood panel, just to make sure everything is going well in adolescent land.

The physical was great, and we have an appointment to go back in three weeks to discuss the results of the many many blood tests.

I was really impressed with Austin Family Medicine, I have to say. The PA was great, we were in and out fast, and it was nice not to have to be around sick people just to get a physical, honestly.

I prepaid for all of the labs, most of which were in the $20-40 range. There was one that was closer to $500 that they said I could opt out of, and then I had to sign a paper that said I understood I was going to be billed for another test, but it would be $125 maximum. And that's where this gets interesting and stupid.

Today, I had a voice mail. If you ever call me, I'm sorry. My phone is usually silenced, and I almost never answer it. But I do return calls (or more likely text back), so when I saw this message, I listened. Here is what it said:

"This is Jake from Boston Heart Diagnostics, calling for Daphne. Please call me back at..."

I was actually in our complex clubhouse when I got the message. Mal wanted something, but I shushed him and opened my notes so I could write down the number and the reference. I called immediately, my imagination already going. The diagnostic center doesn't call you... unless it's something serious.

As it turns out, our friend Jake is from the billing department, a fact I feel he purposefully neglects to include because he thinks people wouldn't reach back. That's the first crappy thing.

Jake had apparently called to get my insurance information, which I don't have since we don't have insurance. I explained that I was cash pay and was trying to pull up my Google Wallet so I could pay off of the info on my phone, when Jake came on the line to inform me that the cash pay amount for the test was $2200.

I said, "I was told that the only other test would be $125, max."

He said, "Oh, yes, one of the tests is $125. But we ran all of them and here are your options: You can fill out a form and see if you qualify for assistance, based on your household income and the number of people in your home. You could qualify for 50% up to 100% of the cost paid for." (I guarantee we qualify for nothing.) "You can work out a payment plan, so you can pay a little bit a month. Or you don't have to pay, and we just won't send the results to the doctor."

Okay, so NOW I get it: This place ran more tests than they were authorized to run because they assumed I'd have insurance, so it'd be paid for, even though it wasn't ordered. Then when they find out I'm cash pay and realize I might not want to fork over $2200 when I'm worried absolutely zero about my daughter's cardiac health (not that I'm not concerned, but I have no reason to be worried that it's vulnerable), since they've already run these big expensive tests, they'll just hold on to the big expensive results. That's the second crappy thing.

Well, second and third. Second is running the unnecessary tests under the assumption that it'd be covered because what insurance company is going to question it? And third is basically trying to extort money out of me for results they already have and might as well just zip 'em over to the office. Jerks. Stupid, money-grubbing jerks.

I'm GLAD I don't have insurance and they won't be repaid for their time and effort and whatever they used in testing. I'm sorry someone else is probably paying for it through their own payments or insurance premiums or whatever. The whole thing is ridiculous.

This raises an ethical question: What if there were something amiss, like a congenital defect or something we didn't know about, that came up as a result of this testing? Are they liable for not mentioning it, even though I didn't pay to see the results?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Six weeks... that was all I could take!

After having made it to the "half way" mark of my eight week trial run with no shampoo, I was starting to crack.

My hair felt, not oily per se, but just like it had conditioner in it at the scalp and for the first four inches or so, all of the time. On the upside, it made my hair a lot thicker. The sock bun was a lot easier than it had been when my hair was finer. I liked it that there was some unexpected wave coming out... Like this:

Apparently when my hair isn't weighted down by gunk, it's actually kind of wavy. I hadn't figured out how to use that to my advantage yet, but it helped hold wavy curl like this style for a few days.

However. I was so tired of always having to strategize my hair. I couldn't shower and just leave it. I had to blow it out a bit or it'd just lie flat on my head. I couldn't just get up in the morning and brush it, because it would adhere to itself, leaving big gaping holes at my scalp (something I promised myself I'd never let happen, as I used to tell my Mema, "Get a mirror and look at the back! I can see your naked head!").

I'd scratch up around my scalp, and my fingernails didn't look oily. it wasn't oily. It was just... icky. And I was getting tired of messing with it. It wasn't getting worse before it got better; it seemed to have stagnated at four weeks and it seemed that was as bad/good as it was going to get.

But while the top looked like this, my ends were getting strawy. They needed some love, and, dang it, that sebum wasn't getting down there. I'd tried coconut oil and cocoa butter, but both weren't much for leaving the ends brush-through ready. It made THEM clump together, too.

So, what's a girl to do?

I took to the internet. Again.

The reason my hair was dried out and was because of my messing with the pH balance using the products I was using, right? So, I wondered (and James and I talked about it) what is the pH of your hair? This article from Wikihow is pretty interesting. I wasn't sure where to go from there, but I knew I wasn't up to buying strips to test cleaners.

Fortunately, this person did that for me a few years ago. Actually, she called manufacturers. Then she also made this list of the gentlest to harshest sulfate-free shampoos, pointing out that the gentlest cleaned the worst.

But the thing that made the most sense to me was this "ask the stylist" blog entry about not using shampoo. It's really good. Even if you skipped the other links, if you're interested in "no poo" and why it might not work for you like it didn't seem to work for me, it is a wealth of information.

So I took her advice and looked around the Kevin Murphy site, then found Angel.Wash and Angel.Rinse, specifically formulated for fine, colored hair. I love how they list every ingredient (or "key" ingredients) and why they're in there. I called around and found The Beauty Store Salon and Spa had it, but only had a couple of 8-ounce washes left, so we hurried over Saturday after breakfast.

First off, cute store! I want to go back when my husband and baby aren't waiting in the van, because they have some neat Austin memorabilia and gift-type things. Second, I went ahead and got 8-ounce washes and rinses, because I want to make sure they're going to work with my hair. They were $27.50 each, and so will be much "cheaper" if/when I can buy the liter bottles for $69.

I didn't have time to mess with my hair this weekend, so mostly rolled it up in a bun. But yesterday... I was done. 

Yeah. I don't wear hats. So this morning...

Will let you know how it goes!