Tuesday, August 11, 2015

To the man who just can't keep his comments to himself...

Cutest Bumble Bee I've ever seen!
Recently, Ashlynne had her very first dance recital.  I was on my way back from Texas from Mary Kay Seminar and burned back into town just in time to make it to the recital.  It was a nature themed recital and her class was dressed as bumble bees.  She rocked it out, and was awesome!  She was so proud of herself, as was I.  It takes a lot of guts to get up on a stage, in front of many people you don't know, and perform.  It takes an extra lot of guts to do so when you have a visible difference, and physically you don't move as well and aren't as flexible as the other girls on the stage.  After her performance, where she had A LOT of friends and family, just she and I were walking back to the car, where I was letting her know just how proud of her we all are.

Enter stage right:  The one man who has to make an ignorant comment.

"That's the reddest bumble bee I've ever seen!"

I had to have had the biggest look of disgust on my face.  I didn't respond.  I tried to just keep my conversation with Ashlynne going, hoping she didn't hear him.

"How'd she get such a bad sunburn?"  He was making sure he was being heard.  AND making sure we saw him staring.  Now it was my turn to turn red.

"She doesn't have a sunburn, she has a skin disorder."  Once again, trying to just turn my conversation back to Ashlynne, he interrupts again.

"Oh, but why is she so red? I mean, she's SO red."

What I really want to say is this:

"Yes, we have eyes too, we see that she is red.  And while she has a skin disorder, and has very red, dry skin, and limited movement, she also has ears.  And those work just fine.  And you are offending that sense in every way possible.  You are clearly, elderly, which means that you have probably seen many things in your lifetime, and if you have reacted this way to everyone you have come across that is different, I'm surprised your jaw isn't wired shut. You know when you're saying things like this to a child, you are chipping away at her confidence, and her self esteem.  People like YOU are the reason it is so hard for her to get up and do these things.  And then, when she does, and she feels great about it, you march right up and open your mouth and take some of the wind out of her sails.  Shame on you.  But I want to thank you for once again teaching me a lesson in self control, patience, and understanding, because everything in me right now wants to verbally assault you. But I won't, because you aren't the first @$$hole, and you won't be the last."
These girls did awesome!!

But what I really say is:

"She has ichthyosis.  That is why she is red, and her skin is dry.  But I think she's the cutest bumble bee I've ever seen."  And I take Ashlynne's hand and simply walk off.  But my daughter's spirit won't be broken.  She just made crazy faces to his back when he walked off, and laughed it off.  She just shook her head and said "Old people..."  She won't let people like that keep her down.  She is still going to do dance, she enrolled in Lyrical for this session.

One thing I will never understand is why some people feel that it's ok to make ignorant, rude comments to a child.  Think them to yourself, ask someone else, but she is a CHILD!  But something I have learned is this:  Common sense, and common courtesy... they aren't very common.  Maybe we should have an awareness month for that....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

To my ex on Fathers Day: Thank you

I have an amazing husband, and a pretty close to perfect dad.  But I also have a complicated little family unit.  Between my husband and I, we have four kiddos.  We have his, mine, and ours.  I have two children from before our marriage, he has one, and we have our explosive red head together.  I went through some tough times in my younger years.  I was married, and had Ashlynne when I was 20.  When she was a few months old, her father left.  At that point, I met Devin, over time became engaged to him, and had our amazing little man, Gavin.  After a few years, this relationship fell apart.  But his relationship with his son never suffered for it.

In honor of Father's Day, I'm going to do something most women rarely do.  Something I wish more moms took the time, and thought to do.  Something I wish more moms would do, while taking a step back and putting their anger aside.  I'm going to give a HUGE shout out to my ex. Because he deserves it.  Yes, I want to honor this man, that I couldn't make a romantic relationship work with, for the fact that he never took our differences out on our son.  Because of the love and commitment I see him put forth into being a dad, I admire him so much.  It wasn't always rainbows and roses, in fact, it was pretty rough for a while.  But over time, I have come to consider Devin one of my best friends.  We have one very important thing in common, Gavin.

Gavin and his Rad Dad 
I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but we have a pretty good set up.  Devin and I truly do get along amazingly well.  This was something that took my husband quite some time to figure out.  We couldn't be together, yet when it came to our son, we were rarely apart.  I can see how from the outside looking in, it is a strange set up.  No, we don't live together, but he was over for every holiday, first days of school, birthdays, and any other important date.  He still comes to my parents house for holidays, and stops by my grandparents' house just to say hi.  And why not?  Isn't this best for Gavin?  It's not "my time" or "his time" with Gavin, it's Gavin's time.  He offers things that Russ and I can't, and vice versa.  He knows that if I make any suggestions, or express any concerns on anything going on with it comes from a genuine place, and the same goes for me.  We are doing everything we can to try to make the lives of Gavin, and the other kids, the best that we can.  He is still very active in Ashlynnes life, and he and Logan are buds too.  If he is going to take Gavin for ice cream, and Breckyn wants to go, he takes her too.  If he is going swimming and I can't take the other kids, he loads them all up.  In fact, Breckyn loves him! That's "her" Devin.

He had one doozy of a life.  An absent father that was never in his life, and a mother that passed away when he was 13, left him with little guidance.  He was a wild child, and made a lot of mistakes.  As far as a positive male role model goes, I guess you could say he didn't have one.  But the day Gavin came into this world, he started turning his life around.  He was not going to repeat the pattern or let history repeat itself.  So the same went for he and I.  When we split, he was a big part of breaking the cycle of those typical nasty relationships where people use their children as weapons. It took a lot of work, on both of our parts, but when we split, after both of us trying our butts off to make it work, in very short order both of us realized we didn't want it to be ugly.  Those things are hard enough on their own without creating more complications for the other person.  Neither of us needed that, but more importantly, neither did our son.

So this Father's Day, I want to give him props.  Thank you for proving everyone wrong!  Thank you for being such a good friend to Russ and I, and a good buddy/ family member to the other kids, and an AWESOME dad to Rad Dude.  While our romantic relationship didn't work out, I'm still convinced I couldn't have picked a better dad for Gavin.  And I couldn't have picked a better friend.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, May 29, 2015

ALS: Are you aware?

As many of you know, May is Ichthyosis Awareness Month.  Every year I flood people's time lines with info about Ichthyosis, and pictures, and facts.  I do my best to help educate.  This has been a cause close to my heart for 12 years now, my soap box if you will.  But nearly five years ago, another disease struck close to home and it shares its awareness month with Ichthyosis. This disease is ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  I don't know much about the physiology of it, and what exactly it does to attack the body.  All I know is how it affected a man that I cared very much about, and how it devastated my best friend's family.

David was a great man.  Growing up, Alexis's house had a revolving door for all of us loud, obnoxious girls.  With her mom and sister coaching our softball team, we were constantly running in and out before and after games and practices.  We would take over their entire house for a sleepover, and were never turned away, regardless of what else was going on in their life.  David had 2 boys of his own, and all of a sudden, he had about 10 of us girls thrown at him.  Never once did I see him lose his patience with us.  I remember his sitting in his recliner, in his work clothes, laughing as we would run through the house with our shenanigans.  He never told us to quiet down, go home, or go outside.  He took it all in stride.  He even started helping coach our softball team.  He did however stop coaching first base when I put him on his butt with a foul ball....

About five years ago, some weakness started in his legs, and he thought it was his back acting up again.  After several trips to the chiropractor, and a couple of falls, he made a doctor's appointment.  I remember before his appointment, his daughter, Sara telling me that they thought they had it narrowed down to 2 things, and they were hoping for M.S.  At their appointment, they got the news they didn't want to hear.  It was ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  A death sentence.  And he was at his grandson's t-ball game that night.  That was in June.  He was at every ball game that summer.  He was at the fair, and by the time the demo derby rolled around, which is a big deal to his family, he was using a walker.  I had done some research on it so I wasn't completely clueless as to what was going to happen, and I was in shock that it seemed to be happening so fast... and still in shock that it was happening to them.

He passed away the following June, after ALS ravaged his body.  He was able to give Alexis away at her wedding, and he and his wife, Linda, had a dance, all done from his wheelchair.  These wedding photos would be the last family photos they would all have together.  He left many, many people behind who loved him, and who were devastated to see this happen to him, and all of those who loved him.  It was a terrible disease.  And for me, it was a terrible year, watching it destroy these people that I love and have considered family for so long.  I watched it take an emotional, physical, and mental toll on not only David, but the entire family.

This is the face of ALS... This is David
This past summer, something went viral that many of you may have heard of, or even participated in.  It seemed that everyone was talking about it, and strategically planning who they were going to nominate to do it next.  The "Ice Bucket Challenge" swept the nation, and the purpose was to raise awareness, and money for ALS.  It raised millions of dollars, and raised A LOT of attention for a disease that is rarely in the news.  A lot of people admitted to participating, but not knowing what it was necessarily for.  And because of this, it received some back lash. Well I just want you to know, that David, and the others robbed of their daily functions and lives, is who it was for.  We did it for all of those families out there who are currently watching it destroy one of their loved ones, hoping and praying that there is a cure before their "David" take his last breath.  And someday, with all of the people devoting their lives to research, there will be a cure.  There has to be, because too many people believe in this cause.  Some of the greatest people I know hold this cause very close to their heart.  And they have a reason to.  They personally watched its affects on a person they loved very much.  A person that can never be replaced, but will continue to impact their lives with the love he showed, and the legacy he left for them.  ALS, took his body, and his physical presence, but it can never erase the memory we all have of his smile.
Ride on David...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Did you really just say that?!

Engaging in conversation is an everyday aspect of my job.  In fact, it's a HUGE part of my job.  Because of that, and the multiple conversations that are had daily, I have many "did she really just say that" moments, from myself, as well as my clients.  Here are a list of some of my most recent favorites...

* "Man, do you know how dirty balls are?" - A school principal talking about sports practices and the risk of spreading the flu via basketballs.  I think she realized what she said at the same moment I did...

* "I can't do anything too crazy with my color today, I just started dating a guy who is ex-Amish."  I'll try not to scare him.  That was a first for me.  Luckily, it was one of my good friends, and after it came out of her mouth, we were both laughing so hard we were almost in tears!

* "Just a hair off", - Sometimes I don't know if people are intentionally making a joke while saying this, or if they are just using the figure of speech, but it makes me "hee hee" inside every time someone says it.

* When a bald mad walks by the salon, stops, and asks for a perm.  Clever.  And stylists NEVER hear that one (insert sarcasm here).  Working in a high traffic mall, I'm surprised if I don't hear it at least once a day.  However, we appreciate you trying to make us laugh.

* "Do you guys do haircuts here?" .... well what do you think she's doing to that girl in that chair over there?  They aren't making dinner!

* When ringing a customer out and you tell them how much their haircut is going to be and they say "Dollars??"... well, yes.  I don't take payments in Hershey Kisses.

* A single guy sitting in my chair "I've sworn off dating hairdressers, they're all crazy".  Yep, we are, and I'm holding very sharp scissors very close to your head... Need I say more?  I have all the control here.

* I did a tight fade on a guy the other day with a hard part shaved in... while leaving he says "I'll be honest, this turned out way better than I thought it would when I walked in here".... I didn't even really have a response.,.. Thanks, I guess...

*And the worst, and probably the most offensive.... When someone of a different ethnicity walks into the salon, looks me up and down, and asks me if I am capable of doing their hair.  A couple of weeks ago, I literally had a guy walk into the salon, while the salon was packed with customers, and ask "Do you guys do dreadlocks in here?"  As soon as I opened my mouth to answer him, he yells "Who am I kidding, ya'll white girls don't know how to do my kinda hair!"  So. Rude.  That is something I would NEVER do to someone, nor would it be even remotely acceptable if the tables were turned.  If I walk in somewhere that I don't feel comfortable getting a service done at, I leave.. without making a scene.  Believe it or not, not all of my clients have the same kind of hair texture as I do.  I have worked with every type of hair texture, and am capable of doing anyone's hair.  However, if you don't trust me to do it, don't make a scene, don't be rude, just don't come to my salon!  If you don't think I can do your hair, that's fine, call around to salons, and find someone who you feel comfortable with.  But don't belittle me just because my hair texture isn't the same as yours.  It doesn't make me incapable.

I could go on and on with some of the moments where I have to hold back laughter or sarcastic comments, but I'll leave it there.  To my other stylists, I'm sure you can relate to some of these scenarios.  And to my clients, keep the material coming!  Love you all!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Update: Mom's Road to Recovery

Since March 2 life has been crazy.  As many of you know, my mom was in a serious car accident involving a semi losing its load of steel beams in front of her.  She was very lucky that her life was spared, and that she didn't have life threatening injuries.  I was so relieved when I got the news that it was "just her leg and foot" that was injured.  No big deal, right?  I couldn't have been more wrong.

The past 9 weeks have basically been a living hell for her.  Several hospital stays later, she spent a combined total of 34 in Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, KS.  Eight surgeries later, the bones are fixed in her right heel, foot, and ankle, and the heel on her left foot has healed.  However, lately it feels that if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all.  Bigger problems produced themselves in the form of fracture blisters on her right foot.  These blisters showed up immediately, delayed one surgery, and have worsened over time.  After her fourth surgery, they ended up having to remove some of the dead tissue, leaving a hole in the side of her foot down to the bone.  They put a wound vac on it to keep infection down, and sent her home in the care of home health.  With each subsequent surgery, the dead tissue has spread, and the hole has become significantly larger, covering the entire side of her left foot, and stretching to her ankle.  At this point, they called in a plastic surgeon to do a muscle and skin graft.

Muscle was removed from her abdominal area, and skin from her thigh to try to cover the hole left by the dead tissue.  The night of the graft, she was rushed back into emergency surgery because there was little to no blood flow to her foot.  They implanted a sensor to alert them to low blood flow in the foot, and after flushing the veins and arteries to make sure there were no blockages, they have not had the same problem since.  However, through all of this we discovered that there are 3 major blood vessels that feed blood to your foot, and mom only has one functioning that was damaged in the wreck.  So needless to say, the muscle graft and skin graft rejecting, resulting in another surgery to remove the work they had done.

After the failed graft, the surgeons in Wichita sent her home, saying they didn't feel there was anything else they could do to help her.  They told her that they want her to have the best possible chance at keeping her leg, so they set her up with a referral to KU Medical Center in Kansas City.  Her consultation is today at 1:30.

So this is where we are.  Eight surgeries and several hospital stays later, the bones are fixed, but other problems have made it unsure as to whether or not she will be able to keep her leg.  The possibility is there that she may not.  However, my mom is a fighter, and she is not emotionally ready to give up.  So she has our full support, and instead of Wichita, we will now be hitting the road to KC.

They didn't know this would be their last goodbye
But that's just the physical part.  For me, the anger has set in.  Her life is altered forever.  The things that this wreck, her immobility, and her time holed up in the hospital have taken from her are some things that can never been replaced.  She missed Easter with her grandkids (which is a very big deal to her).  She has missed all the activities she used to do when babysitting Breckyn.  She has missed weddings, and birthday parties.  But more importantly, she never got to say goodbye to my grandma.  She was coming home from caring for her when the wreck happened.   My sister got her up there once to see her, but when Grandma went downhill fast, Mom couldn't get to Topeka.  And no one can give that back to her.  Someone else's negligence robbed her of that.

We are, however, overwhelmed with the love and support we have received from family and friends.  People stopping by to check in, family members coming to stay to help out, cards, flowers, and prayers.  She has seen how many people care about her and it is very heart warming.  People keep asking if there is anything they can do to help.  My answer is this:  Most importantly right now, she needs the good thoughts and prayers.  We're hoping to get some good answers from KU, that they can help her.  Right now, she refuses to look at any other option.  So keep the prayers coming, for her, for the doctors, and for her spirits.  She is strong, the strongest person I know, but there is only so much a person can take.  Just pray that this time around it is good news she is taking in!!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our Jouney with Ichthyosis: 12 years later

I started out on this journey just over 12 years ago, a scared, overwhelmed 20 yr old girl. The fork in the road of my life took me down a path that I never envisioned for myself.  I was never supposed to be a single mom to a special needs child with a rare skin disorder.

Ichthyosis... Never heard of it? Neither had I up to January 13, 2003.  But the next day my entire world was turned upside down when my daughter was born with this very rare, very severe skin disorder.

I remember the first few years being filled with countless appointments, blood work, physical therapy, and terms being thrown at me that I had never heard before.  It was a complete flurry of chaos.  And sadly, I look back, and I remember pain.  A lot of pain and a lot of heartache.  This wasn't part of my plan.  This wasn't how I had dreamed of my life to be.  I'm supposed to look back at my life and remember that white picket fence, and rainbows, and Ashlynne chasing butterflies.  But that wasn't how it turned out at all.  I don't remember a lot of the milestones that I should remember with my daughter, because life was so overwhelming for us.

Ichthyosis used to completely run my life.  Get togethers with friends, family vacations, even trips to the store, EVERYTHING was based around whether or not it would be bath or lotion time, or whether or not the weather would allow for Ashlynne to go.  I even used to stay away from certain social gatherings if there were a lot of people I didn't know, just to save us all from the stares.  And trips to Walmart? Forget it! It was miserable with all of the comments and finger pointing.  If you ever want to truly test humanity, step foot into Walmart with a child who is visually different.  It's a real treat, let me tell you.  Whether or not my day was good or bad was based on if Ashlynne was having a good or bad skin day.  It was exhausting, isolating, infuriating, lonely, and just plain unfair... To both of us.

The tipping point for me was on one of those fateful trips to Walmart.  I was standing in the checkout line, Ashlynne sitting in the cart, when out of the corner of my eye I see two women pointing at her.  I had had it for the day.  I spun around on my heels, with a glare that could have cut those women in half, and I see them smiling from ear to ear.  SMILING... Then I looked at Ashlynne, and she was smiling back at them.  One of the women looks at me and said "Your daughter has the most beautiful blue eyes and blonde curly hair!"  "Thanks" was all I could muster.  I seriously almost launched on that lady that just so happened to see the true beauty in my daughter.  If she was able to look past Ashlynne's skin, then maybe there are others like her.

Why should I keep all of this joy to myself?

So I decided to drop my guard a bit.  I started getting more involved with the amazing people at FIRST and met other people associated with Ichthyosis, and my confidence slowly grew.  I knew my daughter was beautiful, if others couldn't see it, that was their problem.  I stopped letting her hide behind me, and started showing her off to the world.  Why should I get to be the only one to enjoy this amazing little person?

Now I find myself at peace with all of it.  The anger and the inner struggle of trying too hard to make her life "normal" has dissipated.   Twelve years ago I wanted so badly for everything to be perfect.  Now, I realize that isn't a reasonable dream for a parent with a typical child.  They're going to have dirt and grass stains to accessorize their outfits, and dirty Doritos fingers.  We just happen to have aquaphor stains on our clothes and a few extra skin flakes hanging out. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What every hairdresser wishes you knew

So many times I hear people say "My hair will never look like this again" or "I can never get my hair to look like it does when you do it" when I am done doing their hair.  A big part of  styling your hair is the products we use.  We don't make a killing off of these products.  And if you use the right products, you really don't have to do as much to make it work for you.  I want to sell you the right products, because I want you to be able to trust me.  I want you to come back, and I want you to come to me with any problems you might have.  Each product serves a different purpose. Some products are for volume,some are for smoothing, some are for hold, and depending on what look you are going for determines the product I use.  If you want to try to duplicate that work, using the right products correctly are a big first step.  And also, professional products really do make a difference.  They might have a higher sticker price, but they are more concentrated, they have less alcohol (which is drying) and a majority of them tend to be color safe.  They contain less of the harsh chemicals that can be damaging to your hair.

Branching off of that, learning how to use a round brush can change your life!  It can reduce the amount of time that you are curling and flat ironing.  It can be tricky, but as long as you keep pulling the brush from the scalp out to the ends, you won't get it caught in your hair.  NEVER spin without moving the brush outward.  Larger barrel brushes produce volume, smaller barrel brushes produce more curl.

You know that little button on the front of your blow dryer?  That is a cool shot.  Heat opens up the cuticle of your hair, which helps shape it during the styling process.  However, cool seals it back up and locks your style in.  So, when using that round brush, after you have that volume or curl in your hair, push that cool shot and lock that style in.  It also gives some more shine to your style.

Conditioner is soooo important.  Just like that cool shot seals your hair back up, so does conditioner.  It protects it from heat, UV rays, and harsh elements.  I have heard people say that conditioner makes their hair too heavy, or they are already greasy, so they don't need conditioner, but you do.  It's just like with skin care, if you don't moisturize, your skin will over produce oil, so will your hair.  Its also vital to take care of your scalp to maintain healthy hair and conditioner is a big part of this as well.  Your hair and scalp will be healthier in the long run, and will thank you.

Every stylist has a different way of doing things.  Your last stylist may have cut your hair before the color, or may have waxed you before the cut.  And I may do it the opposite way.  She may have cut the layers first, then done the ends.  She may have done the base color first, then the hilites, where as I do them in one step.  I can assure you that there is no right or wrong way to do hair.  And you reminding me the whole time that I am doing it differently that the last lady is not going to accomplish anything.  I will still do it my way because it is the system I have worked out over time.  Questioning your stylist the entire time they are doing your hair does nothing other than make it obvious that there isn't a trust built, which is very important.  It can make for a very long couple of hours for the both of you.  Asking questions is fine, but repeatedly comparing me to your last stylist is borderline insulting, considering I don't go to your job and question you.

If you're not happy with your color or cut, we WANT you to let us know so we can fix it for you.  You are walking advertisement for us.  A referral is the best compliment you can give us.  Therefore, we want you to be happy, and spread our name all over the place.  The last thing we want is for you to be UNHAPPY and spread our name that way.  I never get offended by a client calling back and asking me to fix something.  Sometimes things lay differently when styled at home, and sometimes there is just a flat miscommunication.  Let me fix it for you, it's my job.  Remeber, anything is fixable, and you're never married to it.

It really is easier to book your appointment ahead of time.  Sometimes, we can stay late, or squeeze you in.  But other times I might have a family function that I can't be late for. Sometimes, you get lucky and you can get in with us for a cut and color on Saturday.  But other times, I might be booked out for two to four weeks, and by then your color and style will be long overdue.  It is easier for us to keep up on your style if it doesn't get way grown out.  Blending is easier for color, and growing length is easier because we can ensure that the hair is staying healthy.  Don't know your schedule that far out?  We can always call and confirm with you ahead of time and change some things around.

No show appointments, and late appointments really do mess up our entire day.  Every appointment is booked based on the appointment before or after it.  Most of us have ourselves booked down to the 15 minute increment.  And being 15 minutes late can cause a snowball effect for the rest of my day,  and potentially cost me clients and a lot of money.  And not showing up without a phone call is just rude.  That can equally mess up our entire day, because who is to say I wasn't counting on that money?  A phone call is only courteous.  We realize things come up, and sometimes you have to cancel.  I have never been upset with a client for cancelling, but no show make me furious.  And I am far less likely to attempt to squeeze a client in or stay late for one that frequently no shows me or is late without any sort of call.  That's just bad manners.

These are just a few tips to help understand the world of a hairstylist.  As a stylist, we trust our guests as much as they trust us.  I have known some of my clients longer than I have known my husband.  And I am truly convinced that I have the best clients in the world.