Color Catastrophe

Just because you can do something yourself, does not mean that you should.  For some people, that means home remodeling.  Plumbing and drywall come to mind.  For others, it applies to sewing or baking.  I’m thinking wedding cakes.  In my case, I’ve learned that I must never again try to color my own hair.

As I neared the age of 40, I noticed the roots of my hair turning gray.  At first, I tried to yank them out one by one.  Each time I saw a gray, I would pull out the trusty tweezers and give it a yank.  After a while, there were just too many for me to handle.  Once I started seeing scalp, I realized that I was losing that battle.  The one thing worse than a gray head is a bald head.

I decided that I would have to color over the gray.  How hard could it be?  Based on the enormous selection of hair color that I see at every CVS, Target and Kroger store, millions of women must do it.  The girls in the L’Oreal commercial never seem to have a problem.  

I went to my local Walgreens to find my perfect match.  I was certainly overwhelmed by the array of choices, but finally settled upon a medium brown shade. I then headed home to wash that gray right outta my hair.

My sister helped me apply to color and reach the tough spots in the back.   We followed the directions to the letter, set the timer, and waited for the magic to happen. 

Thirty minutes later, I rinsed out the color and all seemed fine.  It wasn’t until my hair dried that I realized we had a problem.  My medium brown was now a brassy shade of copper.  I was one shade darker than Ronald McDonald.

Maybe it will look better in the sunlight, I assured myself.  Nope.  The natural light only enhanced the brass.

I Googled brassy hair, and realized that I was not alone!  Plenty of women with brown hair also suffer from penny head.  Maybe I should have done this research before I applied the color.

The web recommended other shades that might cover the damage, but warned me to wait a few weeks before coloring again.  Of course, I ignored that advice.  By the end of the week, I had about four layers of bronze on my hair.  More shades of orange than a large box of crayons.

Desperate for help, I called on the experts!  My hairdresser said she could help, but we would have to wait a while!  What!?  No, please!  I tried to bribery, but she wouldn’t budge.  It must be some professional oath.  Or, maybe that just want to make sure we amateurs truly learn our lesson.

She would see me in a few weeks and try to cover the damage.  In the meantime, frequent washing might help the color to fade.  I shampooed morning, noon and night, but sure didn’t notice any dulling. I think it got brighter! 

Years later, my hair has been restored to a more natural brown, and I am committed to professional products and a skilled hair dresser.  I call that period my orange phase, and consider it a lesson learned.

But now, the gray gets worse with each passing year.  Like a lawn full of dandelions, it’s taking over the entire area.  Of course, that more frequent (and pricey) visits to the salon. 

Take my advice ladies.  Start saving while you’re still young.  After you’ve established a college savings account for your kids, and fully funded your 401k, you might want to set up a savings plan for all the coloring in your future. 

The retirement savings experts never mention this, but someday you’ll thank me.  Start saving now before the gray has taken over entirely!

If you’re naturally blonde or black, you may have an easier time coloring your own hair.  This will certainly save you some money. 

But, if you’re a brunette,  learn from my mistakes.  Do not try to color your own hair. Like plumbing, or auto repair, or juggling knives…hair color is not as simple as it seems. 

Kids Say Some Crazy Things!

My favorite part about being a children’s author is reading and sharing my stories with kids.  I am often invited to schools as a “visiting author”.  My audience can range from preschoolers to middle schoolers.

Each group is unique.  I love to watch their reactions, hear their laughter, listen to their connections and field their questions.

Their question are always genuine, often very insightful, and occasionally very funny.

I start writing down some of my favorite remarks. 

First of all, kids always ask me how old I am.  I always try to deflect the question, but they typically won’t take no for an answer.  A few boys have said they expected me to be older, so I guess that’s a good thing.

One day I was telling a class that it took me well over a year to write my book.  A boy exclaimed:  “Your hand must have been really tired!”  I started to explain that I wasn’t actually writing for that entire time, but then I just let it go.

One little girl wrote me a thank you note after my visit and asked if I was a teenager.  That letter has been framed and hung it on my wall.

During a classroom presentation, a preschooler raised his hand.  “Is your book available on Amazon?” he inquired.

“Yes,” I laughed.  “How do you know about Amazon?”  

“My Dad says that Mom has an addiction.” 

While reading to a kindergarten class, I asked the kids who has a dog.  Most of them raised their hands.  One little boy blurted out “My dog died.” 

“I’m so sorry,”  I responed.  “Was your dog sick?” 

“No.” he replied.  “He was hit by a comet.”

“That happens sometimes,”  I told him.

Kids like to blurt out random things. “Do you like Luke Bryant?” one boy asked.

 “Today is my birthday!” a little girl once proclaimed.

“That’s why I’m here”, I assured her.

I was asking one group about the difference between an author and an illustrator, when an impatient boy blurted out: “Did you draw the pictures?”

“No.” I responded.  “I wish I could have, but that isn’t my talent.”

He replied: “You could have just taken an art class.”  Why didn’t I think of that?

One day I was visiting a school to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Suess.  A boy asked me if I am friends with Dr. Suess.  “No,” I replied.  “Dr. Suess has been dead over 25 years.” 

He still thought we should be friends.

When I was explaining part of one book where the older sister is rather bossy, one 5 year old raised his hand.  He admitted:  “I’m pretty bossy.” 

I told him it’s good to be self-aware.

My Dad talks about a TV show he used to watch called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. 

I love how they freely speak whatever comes to their mind.  They never consider whether it might sound strange, or be embarrassing.

It seems to be around age 11 or 12 when we become more self-conscious of what we say.

 I suppose it’s good to filter our words to some extent, but I do love listening to little ones as their  thoughts flood out of their mouth like an open tap.

I wouldn’t want it any other way! 

Why Can't all the Leaves Fall Together?

Among my favorite things about Upper Arlington are the beautiful, mature trees.  Those majestic trees bloom with color in the spring and provide refreshing shade in the summer.  They even look beautiful for a few weeks of fall.  After that… it’s all downhill.   I’m talking about the endless piles of fallen leaves!  It gives new meaning to the expression buried alive.

In our yard, the leaves start to fall around Labor Day.  The problem is that they don’t stop until nearly Christmas.   We have to be careful to not get tangled in the Christmas lights as we are rake.   Couldn’t these trees come to some agreement about when they will fall?  Must they spread it out over 4 months?   The maples want to go early, the oak tree prefers to stay late…and so on.  Must be poor communication.   

At least the lawn companies benefit from the endless leaves.  It sounds like an angry swarm of bees when the lawn guys descend on our neighborhood.  It’s loud enough when they fire up the mowers and weed whackers in the summer.  Once you add the leaf blowers in the fall, it’s time to break out the ear protection for the entire family. 

In UA, the leaves are enormous!   I bet we have some of the biggest (and heaviest) leaves in Central Ohio.  Where’s the award for that?  We could have a contest.  Bexley, Clintonville, Grandview, Olde Town, Worthington, etc.  could all present their prize winning leaf.  Hopefully, no one would try to scrub the results. 

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful curb-side leaf service.  The leaf trucks are a welcome sight, but they always seem to collect the leaves on my street the day before we rake.  We get that giant pile of leaves amassed at the curb, but then wait days on end for the truck to return.  All week, I cringe as every gust of wind scatters the leaves back across our yard.  I do give lots of credit to the people who vacuum the leaves.  Are they called leaf suckers?  Anyway, they have a tough job and they do it well.  My nose starts to run just thinking about it.

My 12 year old son asked me why we can’t just wait to rake until all the leaves have fallen.  I begin to rant about dead grass, and too many leaves for the trucks to pick up at once, and being a good neighbor until I realize that he has a point. 

I decide to go with the standard mom response: “If you’d stop complaining, we’d almost be finished!”  We all know that’s not true.

Happy fall and happy raking to all my Columbus neighbors.  If you are like me, you might want to stop by the pharmacy and pick up some Claritin before you get started!