The other day, because A) she is awesome and B) she was sick and tired of hearing me complain about how the hairy gorilla look wasn’t working for me, my mother arranged for the girls to get distracted playing t-ball with Dave so she could grab Phoebe and me and drive us to the next town where she dumped me at a salon and took off with Phoebe for approximately one half hour so I could have my hair trimmed and my eyebrows waxed, which was exactly what I needed to feel a little less ho hum.

Thank you, Mom.

I was a bit sheepish going in as I hadn’t been prepared to leave the house and it’s physically impossible for me to feel confident while wearing blue sweatpants in public. And chin hair. Also, spit up stains on the shoulder of my shirt – well, technically, Dave’s shirt that I hijacked because I’ve outgrown most of my own. (Fat bottomed girl!)

I glanced at the clock. Ten ’til eight. “What time do you close?”

“8 p.m.” the girl said as she approached the counter.

I knew this whole professional hair cut thing was too good to be true, but I asked anyway. “Do you have time for a quick cut?”

“Absolutely.”

Aha! I pressed my luck. “And an eyebrow wax?” I raised the furry caterpillars above my eyes.

“Sure. Let’s do that first. Follow me.”

So I did. And she waxed my eyebrows. It took a long time and she had to start with a machete, but we were chatting and it was really pleasant, so I didn’t mind. We talked about our kids which I know makes me a lame morning show topic that ends with advice like, Read a book! Volunteer! Do anything else that might give you something to talk about instead of talking about your kids, you boring loser with no identity! But the thing is, I really like talking about my kids. And I like it when other people talk about their kids. I pretty much like talking with anyone about anything that makes their face look the way this girl’s face looked when she talked about her son. She couldn’t stop smiling. She had love bursting from her pores! And that’s not a euphemism for acne!

It wasn’t until the phone rang that I looked at the clock again. Almost twenty after eight. I pretended to cock my head to admire my new cut, but really, I was just trying to listen to what she was saying on the phone. I’m nosy. I also like to listen to gossip! (Shut yo mouth!)

“…soon. It’ll be soon. I’m not going to turn down a hair cut! I really want to do my best at this job. I’m almost done. Okay. Call you in a minute. Love you. Bye.”

“Sorry,” she said as she returned and switched the hair dryer back on and showered me with affirmations about the appropriateness of my new look.

She really did want to do her job and do it well – I could feel it. Our conversation was peppered with her enthusiasm for it. She’d told me, in passing, that this was her first job out of cosmetology school. “It wouldn’t look very professional if I just pulled my hair up in a pony tail every day. I’m a hair stylist now,” she’d said later. And she was much more caring and kind than most dealers of the $15.95 special.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find many people who take that much pride and find that much joy in their jobs.

“You know, I think it’s dry enough. And it looks great. I love it,” I said as I stood up. And I hurried myself out of there – she had a little boy waiting at home for her, after all – but not before I gave her twice my usual tip. She deserved it. And it seemed more appropriate than a hug. I really wanted to give her a hug.

Speaking of tips, are you supposed to tip delivery people? I mean, if you pay to have something delivered – like furniture – do you tip them, too, on top of the delivery fee? And what about drive-thrus? Not fast food drive-thrus, but the ones that sell milk and pop and beer and stuff and the person comes out to your car and everything? Do you tip them? Also, on hotels. Do you leave a tip for the people who clean your room if there isn’t a little envelope for it? If you clean hotel rooms, do you assume any money left out is for you? I’m really not clear when it comes to tipping in situations other than a restaurant.

It’d be really great if there was some kind of tip rhyme to help me out, like “Righty tighty, lefty loosey” helps me in screwing and unscrewing situations. Or that other one helps me remember how many days there are in January. Do you know a rhyme like that?

Have you ever seen a Lava Lamp and wondered how it worked? It’s all thanks to density!

Some liquids are denser than other liquids, which means they are heavier or contain more “”stuff” per unit volume. A Lava Lamp is filled with liquid and a layer of colored wax on the bottom. The light at the base of the lamp heats the wax. Drops of liquid wax are less dense than the liquid in the lamp. So, as the wax softens to liquid, it floats to the top of the lamp. When the wax cools and becomes solid again, it floats back to the bottom.

You can create a similar illusion using a few items from the kitchen.

Supplies:

Density's Dancing Drops Supplies

  • A tall, clear glass
  • Water
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Fill your glass two-thirds full with water.
  2. Density's Dancing Drops 1

  3. Add enough oil to form about an inch thick layer. Since oil isn’t as dense as water, it will float to the top.
  4. Density's Dancing Drops 2

  5. Add some salt.
  6. Density's Dancing Drops 3

  7. Watch drops of oil dance in the water as the denser salt sinks and carries drops of oil with it. When the water dissolves the salt, the oil floats back up to the top again, like a Lava Lamp.
  8. Density's Dancing Drops 5

Originally written for and posted on the now-defunct My OH! Momma website.

Her room was pink and pristine. My feet sunk into the carpet when I walked in, slowing my steps as I approached the most beautiful dollhouse I had seen in my seven years of living. It was simply majestic. The sun shone through the window and over it like a spot light. I thought that made it look like a gift from heaven. It was massive, definitely taller than me, with all the details of a real house, including a bathroom with a toilet. I reached for the dark-haired doll to march her up the grand staircase. Oh, she’d look lovely descending it in that red ball gown hanging in the upstairs closet! It’d be so dramatic, like that Gone with the Wind movie my mom liked. But before I could grasp her, a firm hand gripped my wrist and yanked it back with a blast of, “No!”

I stood perfectly still, scared to move, careful not to “make a mess” or disrupt anything after her mom bustled out of the room, probably to disinfect the air where I had exhaled.

“You can sit here,” she said, patting the space next to her on the daybed. But it was all so white and the pillows were lined up just so. I could still feel the impression of her mother’s hand around my arm.

“That’s alright,” I said and dropped down on my knees. I stared longingly at the dollhouse. “Do you ever get to play with it?”

“Sometimes.”

“Why aren’t you allowed?”

“My mom says it’ll get ruined.”

I never went back to her house. It was cold and weird and no fun at all. And even at my young age, I knew her mom didn’t think I was good enough to play with her dollhouse.

Recently, I’d read this quote from Dee Hock the founder of VISA: “Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.” I thought it’d be a fun little project to make those lists. So many people have been creatively kind and loving toward me in my life and why not give them a nod? And the negative stuff had the potential to be HILARIOUS. But whenever I’d try to start, I couldn’t get past that dollhouse. Probably because most of the things people have done to me that I abhorred have been a variation of this theme. And the hurt I felt at seven is the same now when someone asks me not to use their “good” furniture because they want to “keep it nice.” The difference now is I have tools to lessen the sting. I can just eat a doughnut. Or nickname them “Nigel” and trade quotes from this scene from This is Spinal Tap (at the 1:05 mark) with Dave.

“Don’t touch it! Don’t touch it!”

“I wasn’t going to touch it. I was just pointing at it.”

“Well don’t point, even. It can’t be played.”

“Can I look at it?”

“NO! No. You’ve had enough of that one.”

When I think about that dollhouse, I feel all that hurt. There’s no buffer. And I really hope I have never made anyone feel the way that woman made me feel.

I wonder what would compel someone to act the way she did towards me. Maybe she’d never been made to feel so worthless. Perhaps she had been made to feel that way a lot. Or I guess it could just be a raging case of assholism. All I can say is this: if I invite you to my house, you can play with all the toys and use all the furniture. You’re even welcome to use the “good” stuff. (Although, there is no “good” stuff at my house, really. There’s just stuff. We use it all. Because that’s what stuff is for.) I promise to be kinder to you than I am to my furniture. I can replace broken furniture. I can’t replace your heart.

Doing Her a Solid

by Leslie

Phoebe is the first of my three girls to make it through the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding. Both Julia and Lucy started with rice cereal at four months. (Based on the doctor’s recommendation! He’s an expert! Don’t yell at me!) But during the past two weeks, it had become increasingly obvious that Phoebe was ready for something more. She’d been interested in everything we ate and pursued any and every food item like a zombie after a living brain.

“Ahhh! AAAAHHH!” (That’s the noise she would make. You know, the zombie noise.)

Yesterday, she got her first taste of rice cereal.

First taste of rice cereal

What do you think, Phoebe?

What do you think Phoebe?

She’s not sure.

Thinking about it...

Giver her a minute.

Yum!

Okay. Yum.

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing. But she never said that she’d stay forever. I’m paraphrasing Taylor Dayne, of course. I have to borrow the words because I just can’t find my own to express how I feel about losing Stella. Except that I didn’t exactly lose her so much as give her away. Well, I didn’t give her away. I got money for her. Getting a discount is the same as getting money, right? Okay, stop looking at me like that. You can’t make me feel any worse than Julia did when she pulled at her clothing and screamed, “Stella! Stella! NOOOOOOO!” outside the car dealership where we traded her in.

“It’s okay, Julia. Vehicles aren’t meant to last forever.” I tried to sound casual, but the truth is, deep inside, I was pulling at my clothing and screaming, too. I mean, it was Stella we were giving up. Stella! She’s been under my butt for the large part of four years. We’ve had ups and downs. And ups and downs. Mostly because she had a broken spring and that makes the ride pretty bumpy. It probably had a lot to do with being under my butt. Because it’s large. And probably capable of breaking a spring and forcing a strut through the frame. (Have I told you my fat pants are once again my regular pants?) Oh, what that vehicle endured for me! Stella!

Julia sniffed, “Maybe another family will get her.”

“Sure…yeah. Parts of her, I’m sure.”

“But no one will ever love her like we did.”

“That’s true, honey. But now, we have a new van! Look! She’s got back doors on BOTH sides. And hey! All the speakers work. Wanna listen to our ‘Aweome 80s’ cassette? Oh! Jules! Automatic windows and locks! Want to press that button? Go ahead! Press the button!”

“I’ll never press that button. I’ll never like this van. EVER.”

So she said. But three rides later, she’d discovered she had her very own light and adjustable vent above her seat and soon it was, “Stella…who?”

Julia was even the one to name her, which was decided via a random draw of more than eight names submitted by the family which included Eva, Delisa, Snowball (seriously, Dave?) and Courtney. And the winner was….Vanessa.

Vanessa

Say hi to her. She’s cute. Isn’t she cute?

Now, she’s not new. Obviously. But she’s new to us. And while she may be the same year that Stella was, it’s clear that Stella was basic. Because Vanessa? Vanessa has extras. Like a super-cool storage net between the front seats. And tinted windows. Also, flip down mirrors WITH LIGHTS! And you know how sometimes the sun gets in your eyes and you’re like, “God, I wish his visor was just an inch or two longer?” Well, Vanessa has this little extend-o piece that grants that wish. She’s pretty amazing. Birds drop dead at the sight of her! Or, rather, they fly right into her. It happened during the test drive and again my first time using her to take Julia to school. My mom said, “Maybe it’s an omen.”

“Nah, it just means she’s awesome.”


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