cute big easy updo

I really enjoy wearing my hair up, but I really don't have time to primp. That's why finding easy ways to make my hair look like I put an hour into it make my heart flutter. 

I really love the look I wore yesterday so much that I wanted to post instructions and pics here.
This is so easy you won't believe it. 


Step one: Depending on how long, thick your hair is, you may need something like a Bumpit. Dumbest name ever, but it's a handy little product. Mine isn't that long right now, so I used two of them on the top.

If your hair is a bit longer and thicker, all you need to do for step one is tease/backcomb your roots, flip your hair upside down, spray, spray, spray with a high hold product--not so high that you get hair glue though--, let it dry, and then pull a section of your hair forward to "store" it for a sec. Pull another section of about two inches diameter from just past the front, the middliest middle, and twist it into the puffiest, biggest bun you can gather...a bun like this one, which can be achieved by twisting a sock into your hair or just poofing the crap out of it.

For me, I pulled the first section forward, then stuck a Bumpit further back on my head because I was going for a thickness near the back of my head. You can even using a second Bumpit, or a third, if you are going for a Marie Antoinette kind of deal.

Step two: Brush the hair from the front very flat, pulling it as wide as possible. Brush it over you bun or bump, then as you pull it behind the bun/bump, give it a little forward push for some extra volume, then bobby pin into place. You may also need to pull hair forward over the bump, but cover the bump as much as possible.

Step three: Leaving the sides out, pull a second small pony directly underneath your bump. Repeating the process above, make a thick loose bun, pull taught while pushing upward, and spray like a bitch.

Step four: In varying medium to small sections, using a smooth brush, pull sections of your hair across and over the bumps, brushing them flat as you go, pinning them into place.. Mix it up by throwing a loose braid or twist in there every now and then....not too many...and above all, spray the crap out of your hair.

Voila. You have an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.


how to get the perfect shade of lighter pink, lavender, lilac, blue, et cetera, for you hair

Maybe it's all the Rainbow Brite and Jem and My Little Pony schwag I consumed in the 80s as a genX child. I love coloring my hair unnatural colors. I've recently gone back to a more vivid pink, knowing that it will very soon fade into a pretty pastel. If you've ever done the Manic Panic thing, you probably know that pastels are really difficult to accomplish on your own...if you want true pastel highlights, you are almost better off shelling out the cheese for extensions. But if you want to cheat, do what I do between visits to my lovely friend and family stylist of about twelve years Corie Butler. Take a bottle of the bright color you want--I usually use two or more shades to get a kind of ombre effect, dying the ends first--and  mix with conditioner until you get a pale version of what you are going for. Pinks last the longest, but all pastels will require upkeep between visits. I go in for my next appointment on Saturday, so we'll see how it looks before it's total hair makeover time.

By the way...if you adore funky hair but hate the idea of bleaching the sh+t out of your hair, Corie says you should try using oil pastels for a no-commitment color that will take over darker shades and light ones. Who knew? I can't wait to go all rainbow one day just for the heck of it.

And yes, I am the only pink-haired English teacher at the college...that I know of, at least.


Love letters to strangers

I love writing because I love words. I love words because they mean something...they are useful tools with limitless power that when wielded can destroy or create.

Words are magic.

That's why I fell in love with this website. Hannah, the site's owner, is on a mission: writing love letters to people who need them in a world where love can be hard to find.

I am one of those crazy teachers who thinks she's in Mona Lisa Smile or Dead Poets Society. I can't help myself: if I ever dreamed I could change the world one sweet word at a time, this delusion was solidified when one of my former students held my hand as the doctors cut through the donor tissue that makes up my abdominal wall to bring my daughter into the light and her first breath of air.

That's why when I first came across The World Needs More Love Letters, I knew this would totally make its way into my classroom. When I told my super awesome film student friend Jabari Jackson about my assignment, he decided he'd do me one better: he's going to use his talents to get some footage of our experience. I'll be rolling out the writing project this week for my Comp I and Comp II classes.

Here's the assignment. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!


I really love this little list I found on Pinterest. The original source is attributed on the list. I need to meditate on these things this week. When everything I do seems to go into the universe and never make its way back, I need to remind myself it's not about me.


let's stay together

If you know me or have read my blog much at all, you know that my husband and I have been together a long. mother. effin. time.

We moved in together after the spring that I turned 21. I will turn 36 this next spring.

We did not put a lot of time into thinking about what we were doing, a luxury of youth. Time was on our side. If things didn't work out, I would still have time to move on and enjoy a lovely, optionally promiscuous rest of my twentysomethings. But things did work out. When you think about how young we are, it's hard to believe. We were really young. It was so long ago that--

1. We used to ask for Sunday nights off so we could watch the X-Files in its first run. Justin's big brother Brendan, now known as the Sarge, would leave his 101 dalmatian pajamas all the way in OKC to drive out to watch it with us. I was obsessed with the show. I had the book companion...it was my first foray into dorkdom. Ahem. Into fandom.

2. Justin had a bucket of quarters and a pager; I had a landline. Cell phones were still really big and most people didn't have them until a few years later. I used to accidentally wash his pager in the laundry. He would get super pissed and tell me how expensive it would be to replace; fortunately, it was nearly indestructible.

3. We had a waterbed with black satin sheets and thought this was awesome. It turned out to be less awesome as time went by. I am pretty sure time will tell that waterbeds are terrible for our spines (and romantic lives, but I don't really want to get into that).

4. I was thoroughly impressed by Justin's extensive CD collection. I was still mainly listening to cassette tapes.

5. I was also thoroughly impressed when we got the Internet. Before I moved in with Justin, I thought the Internet was something government agents used to communicate top secret info and break down spy rings. Of course, like everyone else, we had a dial-up connection. I would wait, wait, wait, for it to connect listening to the horrible worse-than-nails-on-a-chalkboard sound and finally the page would start to load and some jerk would invariably pick up the phone and knock us offline. I used the Internet to plan our wedding a few years later and thought it was the most amazing thing ever, and that was still when the web was pretty deep discount looking.

So that was a long time ago, right? I've seen lots of couples get together and break up and been to many weddings only to later be a victim of the brutal ceremonious friend division that comes with a breakup. Sometimes I wish more people would ask how we stayed together so long in an age where almost no on stays together. My cousin and her husband, who we lost earlier this year, seemed to have it figured out, and I know that will bring her comfort the rest of her life and be a blessing to their children. Our friends Melissia and Keith seem to have figured it out. Kate and Chris from St. Louis seem to have it figured out. Everyone else is still getting there, so we'll have to wait and see.

Here are some of the things I believe have kept us together. This is geared towards marriage, but of course could apply to any relationship. Good luck! The world needs more love in it.

1. Annual vacations. Every year we take at least one vacation and as many weekends away as we can. The first year we went to San Antonio, and we've gone someplace at least once each year. Even if you can only get a weekend away, think of it as an investment in your marriage. It's a way to hit the pause button on your life, and getting caught up in all the chaos of your life is what often makes us forget to prioritize our loves.

2. Taking a few minutes each day to talk. We don't always get to but when we can we do.

3. Prioritizing intimacy. If you don't connect physically, your emotions start to follow suit. Then you detach. Sex should be a place to put everything else aside and just connect on the most basic chemical level and is very important in a marriage.

4. Realizing that if there is some stuff about them making you crazy, guess what? There is some stuff about you making your partner crazy. This is normal. It's understanding that you have to put up with a certain amount of another human being's annoying qualities to be in a long-term relationship; you just have to ask yourself if your love for them outweighs your irritation. This is a question you ask in the beginning; you don't get to change your mind after ten years. I promise you, if it bugs you in the beginning, you won't train it out of them and it's not going to get better. If you make a commitment to be with someone, this is part of what that commitment means.

5. Understanding there are some battles you will never win, you will find yourselves having over and over and over, and that doing the same thing over and over and over with the same negative results reinforces bad energy in your relationship. Have a sense of humor about it, but pick your battles. Just be happy he is so handy with tools he can replumb the house, fix the washer and dryer and central heat, build a dollhouse, and deal with his inability to prioritize changing the bed linens. It's not going to happen so get over it. It's not worth wasting minutes of your life you'll wish you had back at the end of it.

6. Disallowing certain things. Don't ever talk about splitting up unless you are having a serious heart to heart in which it's an actual possibility...don't just throw it around. Don't call each other names. Don't give in to anything you'll regret later. This is a person you love and have committed your life to. Remember that you don't want to hurt them, even if you think you do at the time.

7. Disallowing jealousy. Jealousy is poison. If you have to go through his/her cell phone or email messages, you shouldn't be together. Period. You cross that line and you've brought something ugly into your home that will slowly poison your relationship. If another girl smiles at him, flirts with him, be proud that a man so fly is going home with you. If he smiles and flirts back and you know he's a cheater, why the heck you with him in the first place?

8.  Find time for joy. We have been to hundreds of movies together and almost 300 live music shows. Dance, have fun, realize how short life is.

9. Don't reprogram your life for a person. If you find your friends, taste in music, taste in everything has changed, your relationship probably won't last forever and you're going to feel pretty empty when it's over.

10. Don't talk bad about that person to your friends when you are mad. Respect the special bond you have by keeping the trash talk out of it. Trust me, you'll regret it and your friends/family will never look at him the same way again.

11. Remember why you loved him/her in the first place. Write love letters or send texts reminding them of this. People step out because they aren't getting something at home. Make your home the center of love and joy. It should be the place they can't get enough of.

12. Have a short memory. Forget about why you were mad easily and never drudge up things that have long passed. You'll  both be grateful.

13. Admit when you screwed up at least some of the time.

14. Laugh. A lot. Mostly at yourselves.

15. Love your children with all your hearts, but don't let them get between you. You and your husband/spouse should be at the center of the family. You are its foundation, its heart. Be committed to making that your biggest priority. You are modeling love for your kidz and every relationship they have will be based on how they see you interact.

16. Be affectionate. Don't be afraid to kiss in front of the kidz. It will give them security to know that you are in love with each other.

17. Celebrate your love as often as possible.


random downtown

views from my office building


party of five

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, our little nephew Noah has come to live with us for a while. I believe it took his parents a great deal of courage and faith in us to ask us to take him into our care, and we consider him as much a part of our family as Lu and Arthur whether he's living with us or someplace else. He is a wonderful boy with a smile that could melt any heart and a light, gentle but robust sense of humor. Going from three to five in six months has been a challenge, but we have always loved a noisy and happy home. Noah has some challenges of his own to face--he is showing symptoms similar to those of Reactive Attachment Disorder, although there could be any number of diagnoses, and his official assessment is still two weeks away. He needs extra special and constant attention, a very tightly structured schedule, and disciplinary methods which might at first seem counter-intuitive (e.g. "time-ins" as opposed to "time outs"--sitting near him and using calming techniques to get him to talk and open up; meditative techniques [closes eyes, imagines an ocean and counts to five]; remaining emotionally neutral in reaction to an outburst). But this family is like the Marines: we leave no man behind. We're all in this together. His parents and family friends are helping us build a support network for him, and I am amazed at how well he's doing.

(Isn't he the sweetest?)

I plan to blog more about cousin's condition and diagnosis in the future to help other caregivers.

One really cool thing about being a party of five is that game nights and movie nights are way more fun. I love being a mom, always have, but as much as I love the sweet baby snuggles and indiscernible ravings of toddlers, I have always looked forward to the excuse-for-a-second-childhood stage of my children's lives. You know, the part where they can play games and enjoy watching all the shows you grew up on and they're brand new to them!!! The part where their toys are so freaking cool that playing with them is a blast, and you totally want to cut work to hang out with your home skillets. Anyway, we've made it through the first of the Lord of the Rings (Arthur has a Frodo costume) and one Star Trek series (Frodo can name two captains), played some serious dress up, had some messy art parties, and played some awesome new puzzles and games (I am SO hooked on University Games!):

Paul Frank bingo. Easy picture bingo for little kids. We played the heck out of this at El Guapo's the other night!

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. AWESOME!!!

And Eric Carle's ABC game (We love the Wii ABC game by the way).

Everything is at once a bigger hassle and a bigger blast. I was really quite proud of myself when I mastered getting three kids organized and out the door by myself for the first time for Philbrook's Festival of Trees. Turns out the more you practice, the easier it becomes.