7
conversations from a marriage

The city has been repaving the roads in our neighborhood. Cheaply. They lay down some tar, then a layer of little black pebbles, and the pressure of the cars driving on the road is supposed to press the pebbles into the tar. I guess regular old cement is so 20th century.

The thing is, there are parts of the road, like corners and edges, where the cars weren’t able to do their job of pressing the pebbles into the road. Sidewalks and driveways end up littered with these little black pebbles, just waiting for a kid to wipe out on a bike or scooter. So on a walk, when we came to one of these corners that was littered with little black pebbles, Christian called a halt.

“Time to turn around!” he called, gesturing to lead his pack the other direction.

So I was like, “What? Why?”

And he said, “There’s rocks all over the sidewalk!”

And of course the kids had no shoes on, because we never really meant to go on a walk, but sometimes you’re just eating popsicles in your driveway and the next thing you know, you’re trekking across the neighborhood.

So I said, “Oh come on. It’s just a few harmless pebbles. You never walked around barefoot as a kid? Back in our day, we only put shoes on to go to church!” If even that! Okay, I lie. I grew up in Dallas, where we practically wore heels to bed.

And he was all, “Things are different now! More dangerous!”

And I kinda looked at him like he was kinda maybe getting a little irrational, “…Like the rocks are sharper?”

In the end, the kids traversed the perilous rock garden of 2014 with only minimal fanfare, and we all made it back home with our feet in tact. Sometimes Christian actually does have me partially convinced that he never a) went anywhere barefoot, b) played with dirt, or c) did anything gross or boyish or wretch-inducing.

Although he does have mighty soft feet.

 

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10
no camp for you!

Last summer we added up the cost of putting all three girls into a week-long summer camp, and then quietly closed our laptops and acted as if was perfectly normal for a sane, loving family to pay that much money for a week’s worth of activities.

Long story short, there was no camp last year.

It’s not that I want to get rid of my kids for a week. It’s just that we don’t often get to place them all in activities because the cost gets so high with three kids. And since summer gives us a break from paying for preschool, I figured it would be fun to give them SOMETHING to do besides hanging out with me all day. Every day.

Did I mention all day? And every day?

This summer, I was looking through the YMCA catalog and declared how inexpensive the camps were for members, which we are, because the pool is awesome and sometimes you just have to have somewhere to take your children for two hours while you exercise or read a book or do whatever it is you do with your spare time. I can’t judge because I’ve been known to look at the clock after my workout and say “Hey! I’ve still got 30 minutes!” and then sneak around to the vending machines for some important post-gym social media time. Luckily the kids love it in the daycare, where they take part in activities that they never get to do at home, like color and play with brightly colored plastic toys.

Anyway, I scoured the YMCA online catalog for camp weeks that a) had 2 spots available for the twins in Theme Camps, and had a spot available for Zoe in Kinder Camp, b) were held at schools in our area, and c) weren’t completely lame. Since the Theme Camp and Kinder Camp were in no way aligned with similar themes in the same weeks, I had Rachel and Claire heading to Art Camp! while Zoe would be attending Camp Snooze. Or Zoe could go to Swim Camp! while the twins went to Camp I Want to Go Home.

Honestly, they would have had fun no matter which theme we picked, so I bit the bullet and chose something that I thought they all would like, and I started the registration process, where I quickly learned that there would be a $30 registration fee. Per kid.

Why they don’t just tack on $30 to the camp fee, well that is one of life’s great mysteries. What does it all mean? $30 to print my kids’ name on a list? $30 to pay for your internet connection for the instantaneous delivery of my online forms? The registration process itself was just short of traumatizing, with all the invasive questions like “What is your child’s middle name?” and “What is your child’s birthday?” and so on and so forth. So I’d like to think that *I* should get $30 back in my pocket.

Once I got everyone’s camps and registration fees into the online cart and looked at the total, I figured I should just kind of give a little heads up of sorts to Christian that I was about to blow our monthly grocery budget so I could have a little alone time. I mean, you can’t exactly put a price on sanity, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

And he immediately nixed that idea, because well, we would rather spend that money on some weekend trips we have planned, and I supposed we do need groceries more than I need alone time.

So if you need me on any given day, I’ll be “on the treadmill,” which is code for hiding in the YMCA bathroom with my book.

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7
june

It took me a whole month, and I’ll be the first to admit that I struggled in the beginning, but I think we’ve finally hit our summer stride. The fighting has lessened, and I no longer get the shakes when I think about taking the kids anywhere. Next time I blink, school will be starting, and I’ll be crying the tears of missing my girls and having first graders and practically being an empty nester. But then, you know, quiet house for a few hours and all.

Here’s an extremely photo-heavy rewind into our June, if you’re the type who likes to live vicariously through other people’s somewhat average lives.

mortified ATX

Some friends and I went to see Mortified ATX, and it was amazing. Basically, people get up on stage and read from their adolescent and teenage journals. It was moving and hilarious, and really made me lament the fact that I didn’t keep consistent journals growing up. In fact, one of my goals this year was to journal more. Right under that, BUY JOURNAL. Seriously.

If you can’t catch a show in your area (they sell out!), then you MUST watch the documentary Mortified Nation on Netflix. Such an experience.

photo

Great Wolf Lodge 2.0. In our second year of what we hope to be an annual tradition around my niece’s birthday, we learned a few tricks about visiting this place. Like skip the dinner buffet, unless you enjoy being out $100 on mediocre food. And take a tip from the lady I saw in the arcade who was carrying a plastic cup around, and every so often would remove a can of beer from her bag and pour herself a cold one.

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I didn’t think much of it growing up, but my parents pretty much live in a perfect neighborhood. Huge trees, lush, green lawns, lots of newer families and 1970s tract houses that are now worth an amount that made me choke on my Starbucks.

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Oh don’t worry. That ridiculously clean house isn’t mine.

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We had the chance to visit SeaWorld San Antonio as a family while I attended the AdventureCon Conference. It was a fantastic opportunity to get away, take part in some really fun activities, and learn a little. I didn’t meet nearly enough people there – always my weakness – but we all had a great time and got to see some cool behind the scenes stuff.

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Waiting for the Shamu “One Ocean” show. Splash zone ain’t no joke. And yes, that IS a white shirt I’m wearing.

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Snapped this one and quickly put the phone away, because I swear we were the second most heavily soaked section in the arena. Those poor souls in the most-soaked section, who floated by me on our way out of the place.

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So one of the many perks of this event was that while we were conferencing on Sunday morning, the families got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium and get front row spots at Dolphin Cove. Kinda bummed I missed that!

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After the conference was done, we spent the rest of Sunday at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park. Among all the pools and slides, the best part by far was the stingray pool. Feeding them was so weird, as they sucked the fish out of your hand like a creepy little vacuum cleaner. Next time we’re going for the full on interaction, where you can actually get in the water with them.

And of course when we got home, the kids were still so fascinated about the stingrays, we had to research them on the internet and be all nerdy and stuff. Anything that encourages my kids to learn is fine with me.

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We checked out a museum on the UT campus, then paid a visit to the little turtle pond. I tried to explain that this was where mommy went to school, but not like kindergarten, but it’s called UNI-VER-SITY.

“Oh, just like Monsters University!”

Yes. Just like that.

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And, yeah. This is pretty much how I end every day. BEAT.

Hope your June treated equally well.

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12
you have 23 seconds

So I was formulating this post in my head, all about how summer is killing me, my house is a mess, and I have absolutely no free time, but I was like, Hey, wait. I’m going to sound like a whiny little snot, because I just wrote about summer the other day and how much it was exhausting me. And then I realized that that post I “just wrote” was THREE WEEKS AGO.

So yeah. Summer! *jazz hands*

I don’t know how to explain all of the complicated thoughts and feelings that go along with having my three children home with me all day, every day. I mean, I’ve done this before. But they’re all so loud, and need all of the things, all of the time. So mainly I think “HOW IN THE HEAVENS DID I DO THIS FOR 5 YEARS?”

About 2 weeks into summer, the girls finally learned to sleep past 6:12 am. They usually play in their room for a while, which lets me doze a bit. Sometimes they’ll come tell me they’re hungry and want breakfast (every day with the breakfast!), but if we have bananas, I can stretch that doze out another half hour or so. Basically I’m setting myself up for a very rude awakening once late August rolls around. Look, schools, if we can put “make your own breakfast without dumping Cheerios all over the floor and then crunching each and every one of them, and please don’t spill the milk, thank you very much,” on the curriculum, I would totally sign off on that shit.

Anyway, since this post seems to have a serious lack of direction, I’ll talk about my own serious lack of direction. AKA I can’t figure out how the hell to arrange my days so that I a) get all children fed, clothed, and maintain the appropriate balance of educational stimulation and brain rot, b) keep the house from imploding in a heap of haphazardly strewn couch pillows and mildewy beach towels, and c) get at least 5 minutes in which no one is touching me, calling for me, or even thinking about touching or calling for me in any form or fashion. Writing is at a minimum (it’s 11:24pm and I have an early doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so I hope you are enjoying this ridiculous post). By the end of the day it’s all I can do to stare blankly at Facebook or say, “Sure, honey. Let’s watch three episodes in a row of Breaking Bad.” And then I hit the sack and read a book or play Two Dots on my phone until the book or the phone hits me in the face, and then I turn the light out and fall asleep within 3 minutes.

So, I don’t know, if you have any fool proof methods for, you know, getting shit done when you can’t focus on anything for more than 23 seconds, well, I hope you can tell me in under 23 seconds. Otherwise, I may just see you in September.

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10
signs of love

I don’t do many sponsored posts here, but every once in a while I come across a company that allows me to make sponsored posts fun. Thank you to easybanners.com for sponsoring this post. And thank you for supporting the sponsors that help make this blog possible.

 

The great thing about kindergarten is that they teach your kids to read and write. We’re in this strange reading limbo, where now they realize that this crazy symbols they’ve been seeing everywhere actually mean something, and I can no longer tell them that the sign says “DON’T TOUCH! NOT FOR KIDS!” when in reality it screams “FREE CANDY!”

We worked all year on writing and sounding out words. I relaxed my type A neuroticism on spelling and allowed them to spell phonetically, which is entertaining and anxiety inducing. Ninja becomes “nenga.” Apple becomes “apul.” But wuns yu get the hang uf it, it’s kindu freeng, yu no?

And then they started making signs.

This parenting milestone kind of snuck up on me. I remember making these types of notices and sticking them on my door. But somehow they left this out of What to Expect When You’re Raising 3 Kids Less Than 2 Years Apart. Because the signs are not exactly of the “welcome” variety.

signs banners kids

 

The sign that started it all. I’m impressed by her fortitude to tell us she needs some alone time, perplexed by the “be positive” stationary, and cracking up at the spelling.

 

signs banners kids

 

Because I asked that they NOT paint their faces in the fashion of Native Americans with Hello Kitty nail polish.

 

signs banners kids

 

Because her sisters kept getting ahead of her while riding scooters around the block. Totally my fault.

 

signs banners kids easybanners.com

 

“Do not cum in Claire you ar ating like a sad (?) baby.”  I’d just be a bad parent if I didn’t keep this for posterity, right?

 

signs banners kids easybanners.com

This one’s probably my favorite. “You do not at like a mom. Love, Rachel.” Because I wouldn’t let her watch Netflix 5 minutes after walking in the door from a 2 hour movie at the theater. I don’t know if it’s the “Love, Rachel,” or the white picket fence, but she doesn’t seem too strong in her convictions here.

But more often than not, I find piles and piles of drawings of little girls (them) and an enormous figure (me, obvs), adorned with “I love you, Mommy,” and “You are so nis and prete.” Each one makes my day and gives me hope that I may actually be doing something right around here.

signs banners kids easybanners.com

Let’s just pretend that someone didn’t go back and scribble out “I love Momey” when I wouldn’t let them spray the cat with OFF.

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4
some stuff

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I NEED THIS.

some stuff

Oren Miller of A Blogger and a Father writes openly and beautifully about his recent shocking diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer. I’ve read Oren’s blog on and off, and we’ve communicated via social media the way bloggers sometimes do. And since the world is much smaller than we think it is, it so happens that Oren’s cousin Ilene is a friend of mine here in Austin, a blogger, and creator of BlogathonATX.

Sadness is inevitable–I’m only human, and trying too hard to rise above it only hurts more. But I do accept. I accept that life is finite, and I accept that my time will come soon. I accept that my life had been and still is a gift, and I accept the likely possibility that I won’t see my kids grow older.

There’s a Give Forward page set up for friends and loved ones to donate to the Miller family. And to show how awesome the blogging community really is, within just a few days the page had raised over $9,500 of its $10k goal. I refreshed the page a few hours later, and the amount raised exceeded $14k. Seriously, y’all. Awesome.

If you’d like to help support the Miller family, you can visit their Give Forward page here. If you want to stick to prayers, good thoughts, and support, that’s wonderful too. Really, anything is needed and appreciated. I’m finding out just how easy it is to hurt for someone I’ve never actually met in person.

And this is why I don’t think I could ever step away from the blogging community.

some links

Libraries Now: A Day in the Life

On having to write

I’m obsessed with NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.

My parents are dead, and my sister is disabled.

This awesome performance:

Eye candy lawn service - Oh, Austin.

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at what you love.”

Finally, I just cannot get enough of this song by The War on Drugs. It makes me so damn happy. Naturally, when I play it, Claire orders me to turn it off because “it’s making her angry.”

 

Happy weekend!

 

 

 

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9
summer just started and I’m already exhausted

So it seems I may have forgotten what it’s like to have three very loud, very rambunctious, and very activity-switchy children in the house all day? Maybe? A little? I’m not really sure what happened, but by bedtime I thought I was going to die, and then I looked at the clock, and it wasn’t bedtime at all, but a mere 12:47 pm.

Because by 12:47 I had already:

 

Consoled a crying child about a toy that she mysteriously misplaced while she was sleeping (6:03 am)

Attempted to coerce three children back to their beds because really? I have to drag you out of bed at 6:45 during the school year, but now you just pop right up like a summer-crazed jack-in-the-box (6:14 am)?

Thanked the Lord for my husband, who got up and fed them breakfast while “I slept in” (7:42 am)

“No, you can’t play in the sprinkler yet.” (8:21 am)

“No, it’s too early for the sprinkler.” (8:33 am)

“NOPE.” (8:40 am)

Said yes to tablet time (8:41 am)

Showered (9:01 am) (and you’re welcome)

Repeated “get dressed,” “can you get dressed?” “seriously, get dressed,” about 7.5 times. We won’t talk about the shoes.

Arrived at the library (10:02 am)

Wrenched Claire away from a poor woman and her 1 year old (10:11 am)(10:14 am)(10:19 am)(10:23 am)(okay, pretty much the entire time we were there)

Listened to Rachel read an entire Gerald & Piggy book to me (10:38 am)(also…reading!!!!!)

Checked out approximately 37 books (10:56 am)

“Shoes and toys don’t belong in the middle of the floor!” (11:13 am)

“Yes, please, go outside.” (11:17 am)

“Close the door.” (11:18 am)

“Close the door.” (11:19 am)

“CLOSE THE MOTHER@&$^ING DOOR!” (11:20 am)(expletives optional)

Made lunch for 3 cranky children (11:31 am)

You need snacks? Didn’t you just eat like 10 minutes ago? (11:41 am)

Wrenched a despondent Claire from her bed with promises of the water play I’ve been putting off since 8:21 am (11:50 am)

Wait, I should be a parent and make them clean up some of their messes before playing outside (11:52 am)

“Yeah, there’s still a lot of crap laying around…there…and there….and there…” (11:56 am)

“Okay fine, GO FORTH AND RUN THROUGH THY SPRINKLERS.” (12:01 pm)

Oh, heavenly, quiet-ish bliss. (12:02 pm)

Oh, look. They’re playing in the mud. That will be fun to clean up later. But still. HEAVENLY QUIET-ISH BLISS. (12:09 pm)

Zoe Of The No Body Fat has declared water play over for herself (12:10 pm)

Yeah, that mud’s getting a little out of control. (12:27 pm)

But I’m gonna sit here and eat my lunch, fully aware that the mud is getting a little out of control. (12:29 pm)

Oh yeah, that’s going to be hard to clean. (12:33 pm)

Showered, dressed, and brushed muddy kids. Soaked self in process. (12:40 pm)

Turned on all the blinky, internetty things because it’s almost over, right??? (HAHAHAHAHA it’s 12:47 pm)

 

We’ll either never survive this summer with our sanity intact, or we’ll just do what normal people do, and give up on any and all activities and just resign ourselves to some good, old-fashioned brain rotting.

Happy summer!

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7
slow your roll, kids

…And then, all of the sudden, they were done with kindergarten, and I was like WHOA. Where did the last 9 months go?

Thursday night I held a crying Claire as she sobbed and blew her nose on my shoulder, sad that she was going to miss her teacher. Nine months ago, I was doing the same, only she was sobbing that she didn’t want to go to school because “kindergarten is sooooooo long for mommies and daddies to come back” and she missed me too much.

Oh, how far we’ve come.

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I’m sorry, who is that kid on the right?

No one told me that the last day of school would be so emotional for me. Everyone conveniently saved that little tidbit for after I got home and was lamenting my graduated children. “Oh, I cry every year!” they said. “Unfortunately it doesn’t any get easier!” they said. “Thanks for the f—ing warning, friends!” I said.

I’ve  been conflicted about my kids aging. When they were babies and toddlers, we naively wished their babyhoods away. “It’ll be so much easier when they’re 2, 3, 4…” we would say. Not that we didn’t relish those years and all of the sweetness that comes with it, but having two babies/toddlers/preschoolers is HARD. “At 3 we’ll be able to reason with them better,” or “at 4 they’ll be able to entertain themselves better,” and “at 5 they’ll be big kids…” Ah, first time parents-slash-idiots.

When we started kindergarten I feared that I was losing the child in my girls. I pictured them in school all day, studiously reading, writing, doing serious work. Throughout the year I was ecstatic to learn that they really were still maintaining a lot of their little kid-ness. Claire loved forcing boys to play her husband in the home station. They brought their favorite lovies to school and had a Teddy Bear Picnic. They made Native-American costumes out of paper sacks for Thanksgiving. They brought home drawing after drawing after OMG drawing of their friends.

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STOP IT.

This afternoon I rushed to meet them at the local park after a morning of grocery shopping and one last lunch with Christian before everyone came home and I was resigned to almost never leaving the house with 3 children. I showed up right as they were packing up to head back to the school. They were glad to see me, but disappointed that I hadn’t gotten there earlier. And I was too. In general, I wish I had given more of my time for class parties or lunches at their school. I did what I felt I could at the time, but I could have done more.

Next year I’ll know better. But next year won’t be kindergarten.

At home I tearfully read the teachers’ comments on their final report cards. I hugged the girls and told them how proud I was of them. We chatted excitedly about what we wanted to do this summer, like go swimming, invite school friends over to play, go swimming, eat ice cream, and go swimming. I’ve looked forward to having my girls home this summer.

And then five minutes later Zoe was screaming that her sisters wouldn’t share the bubble blower, Rachel was digging in the pantry for snack #5 in the past hour, and Claire was beckoning me to come wipe her butt.

This is what it’s all about, folks! Yay summer!

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6
in which I talk to you about my hair

I stalk curly hair. Put me in a room with a bunch of women and I will analyze and obsess each of the curly girls, following them around, trying to resist the urge to touch of paw at their locks and asking them what they use (case in point, Francesca Serritella, who spoke at Erma). It’s only slightly creepy.

Curly hair is a blessing and a curse: a blessing because it’s full and bouncy and everyone seems to love it, and a curse because it’s fickle and can turn on a dime from luscious to major afro if there’s so much as a drop of moisture in the air.

But as a mom to three curly-headed girls, it’s important to me to teach them to love their hair the way it is, as opposed to trying to make it something it’s not. And that means I need to learn to love mine.

 

I’ve been through lots of hair phases.

Bangs (thankfully I have no photos of the “power bang” phase). Blonde. Straight. Curly.

hair collage

For years I brushed, straightened, flat ironed, and basically cursed the unruly locks I had been born with. It kills me now to see my girls already wishing for the smooth, straight hair some of their classmates have.

When the twins were born, I had to abandon my straight hair for its more low maintenance curly cousin. Prior to having kids, my curly hair was my “weekend hair.” It was wild and unpredictable, and I had a love/hate relationship with it.

When Zoe was about 2, my curls decided to abandon me. I blamed an over processed highlight job that turned my full head of bouncy ringlets into a dried out mass of straw that bent any and every which way.

My hairdresser suggested that it was probably age, that our hair can continue changing up to 2 years after having a child. “How old is your youngest?” she asked the first time I went to see her.

“Uh, two,” I answered. Hm.

No curl product worked. Praying didn’t work. I washed, conditioned, rinsed, and then applied another smidge of conditioner in without rinsing just to give it a little moisture. Now instead of dried out non-curls, I had limp greasy mop of shame. I was in hair hell.

So I chopped it all off in hopes of getting rid of the badly bleached hairs. It took a few cuts, but finally all of the color was out. I loved the low maintenance short ‘do, but when it came down to it, it never really looked that great on me. I’ve always been a long hair girl, and I just didn’t look or feel like myself with a bob. Plus the shorter length did not coax my curls back like I had hoped.

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Few things are worse than trying to grow out your highlights when you’re too cheap to dye over them.

When I started to let it grow out again, I was disappointed to find out although the bad highlight job was gone, my curls still weren’t returning. It looked like my hairdresser might have been right about this just being a natural change in my hair.

I needed to conquer these damn curls. If my daughters had any hope of loving their mops, I had to learn to love my own, and that meant I needed to figure out how to care for it, and show them in return.

Thus began the stalking of the curly girls.

An old high school friend swore by the Ouidad line, including getting a specialized cut at a Ouidad trained salon.  A few months later, another curly friend piped up and suggested Ouidad. And another. They used the words “life changing.”

I looked up the products and almost hyperventilated at the cost, which honestly isn’t too terribly expensive, but when you’re used to paying $4 for crappy mousse, jumping up to a $23 bottle of gel is kind of anxiety inducing. Last summer, I took the plunge.

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I call these “face-down on the chiropractic table curls.”

Know this: Having curly hair doesn’t necessarily mean I can just wash and go. It’s still a process, and there are entire YouTube channels dedicated to styling curly hair. Prepare to enter the rabbit hole. You’ve been warned.

Turns out it’s part process, part product (although I will always swear by the product). It took me months – MONTHS! – to figure out exactly what method worked for me to get my hair looking it’s best. I finally settled on the following:

1. Exit shower

2. Squeeze as much water as possible out of hair. Do NOT towel dry or even wrap up in a turban. Keep as wet as possible without dripping all over yourself.

3. Spray with Ouidad Botanical Boost

4. Comb with wide tooth comb (if necessary; I often just finger comb in the shower)

5. Apply Ouidad Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel. If you can get by with a nickel-sized drop per the instructions, then I bow to you. I have a lot of hair. I use about fifteen cents’ worth.

6. Rake, shake, and scrunch. As opposed to deliberately separating sections of hair as shown in the videos, I just rake my fingers through large sections of unseparated hair and shake gently. Then I spend several minutes scrunching and scrunching and scrunching and scrunching, careful to protect the locks that have banded together as curls.

 

Now for day 2, since you know we don’t get to shower every day, I have a few options:

1. Ponytail

2. Tame with Botanical Boost Spray (works short term, but not for the whole day)

3. Wet hair down and repeat above process

 

Now that I’m used to this process and it’s proven great results, I’ve fallen back in love with my curly hair. My curls have definitely changed. There are fewer ringlets and more loose curls and waves. But I no longer get anxious when styling it. It’s more predictable now; it cooperates more. I still stalk women with fabulous curls and ask them what they use. Because who knows? Maybe I’ll find another magic product.

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Amazon links are affiliate links, but make sure to check the Ouidad site as well to compare prices. Amazon’s not always cheaper, and Ouidad often offers great specials, free shipping, and samples with purchases. I’ve also tried the Curl Quencher Moisturizing Shampoo, the moisturizing conditioner, and the leave-in conditioner, all with great results, but not enough to commit to full time use.

So now. Go forth and curl!

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2
some stuff

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you have a great day with family and friends in honor of those who have served.

american flag

some links

NOPE

It’s like Pinterest for cute animals

Americans in Paris – Very interesting episode of This American Life featuring David Sedaris on living as an American in Paris.

Things I’ll Never Get Used To

Listen to Your Mother raised over $26k for our local causes! Here in Austin we raised over $800 for Hope Alliance Crisis Center.

Have you checked out my Reading tab yet? Keep up with what I’m reading and  leave me suggestions!

 

 

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