Thursday, June 20, 2013

The mane attraction.

If your hair looks put together then most probably you will too. A lot of women and men spend long hours and countless dollars trying to get the right kind of hair/hairstyle. You kind of have to invest in hair - it's sitting on top of your head! I have had long hair my entire adult life mostly because I have developed an attachment to it and will suffer from separation anxiety if I cut it off.  Mine is straight and I like to style it in different ways. Here are some of my current favorite products and hairstyles.


- The sock bun. Perfect for those days when I have no time to style my hair any other way.  I just make a high pony tail and roll my hair inwards with the insert. Before the inserts became common I would literally use a sock but that never worked really well. Inserts are available at any accessory shop like Claire's, Icing, ULTA etc.

- Curls/waves. I use the old school hot rollers. Curling irons/rods are just not for me. With my long hair it would take me forever to sit and curl sections of my hair one at a time. Instead, I put on the hot rollers, do my makeup and take the rollers off- voila! soft wavy/curly hair with half the time and effort.

- Keeping things straight. The best style for your hair is the one you were born with. Since mine is straight anyway, I let my hair air dry, divide it in two sections (top and bottom, not left and right) and then quickly run a hot flat iron through it. Sometimes I use a protective, anti-frizz spray to prevent damage from the heat and keep the frizz out.


- I don't spend big bucks on salon brand shampoo and hair conditioners. I've tried them and haven't seen much of a difference between those and regular drug store brands so why spend more? I like L'oreal's Total Repair 5, Herbal Essences Hello Hydration and Aveeno's Living Color shampoos and conditioners.

-  L'oreal's Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm is great for weekly treatments to make hair soft, smooth and shiny. I noticed a considerable improvement in the shine and general health of my hair.

- Aveeno's leave-in treatment is good for those days when you haven't deep conditioned your hair and feel like your strands need some moisture. The only drawback with this is that I felt like I was going through the bottle very fast. Nevertheless, it's a good product.

- Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth Anti-frizz creme. Let me just say that it is not a great "anti-frizz" as it claims to be. So if that is your primary concern and you have thick and coarse hair, don't bother with this product. Having said that, it works pretty well on my long straight hair. It leaves it soft and smelling great, not sticky or greasy. It also takes care of a little frizz for me. I use it more as a hair refresher than as an anti-frizz cream.

- John Frieda's Frizz-Ease Heat Defeat Protective Styling Spray. Protects from heat of styling tools like flat iron and curling rods and controls frizz.

I don't know much about what works for curly or coarse hair so if you do then please share your favorites with us :)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Notes to and from a new mommy.

I still consider myself a fairly new mom because my son is only 21 months old and, just like him, I am learning something new everyday. Over this period of time I have learned a lot about myself, the baby, of course, as well as about adults who are eager to dish out advice; most well-intentioned and less judgmental than others.

Here are a few things I would like to say to people wanting to "help" the baby and the mother :)

-Keep your advice to a minimum. Offer advice when the mother asks you or when you see the mother doing something that could potentially endanger the baby's health (which is highly unlikely.) Don't blabber on about how you did a certain thing in your days. Gently offer your two cents at the relevant time but only if it will make a significant difference. 

- Inundating the mother with your words of wisdom could actually backfire. You could end up overwhelming an already exhausted individual.

- ASK what the mother (and even the father) need help with- don't assume. Everyone's situation is different. Maybe the mother wants a stretch of five to six hours of sleep at night. Depending on your relationship with the family, offer to watch the baby one night a week by staying over until the mother finds her bearings. If the mother prefers to watch the baby herself but needs help with laundry or cooking then offer to do that and do it graciously.

- Please, please, please offer to help mothers when you see them traveling with children and infants. If they don't want your help they can say no. It's a lot harder to ask for help and hear a, "No," than to offer help and hear a "No, thank you."

- If a mom is visiting you with a small child and you do not have small children to look after yourself then take some burden off of her. If her child gives trouble at night, offer to watch the baby one night. If you work, offer to help on a weekend. I have heard the argument that the mother has to watch her own baby and its her responsibility and that others shouldn't be expected to pitch in. My answer to that is that it's not about responsibility or expectations, it's about helping someone - everyone deserves a break and a new mom more than anybody else. 

- DO NOT expect a new mom to help YOU with something. I know it sounds ridiculous but I have seen it happen.

-It is nice to visit the mother and baby and I am sure they would appreciate the company...for a little bit. All I wanted to do with any down time I had was to sit there silently and do nothing. I just wanted to relax by myself. So don't plan a day long expedition  unless you are going with the intention of helping and not just entertaining. Send the mother for a nap, put the baby down for a nap and sterilize the bottles- that is how you help :)

I had a very difficult time with my son for the first six months because he had severe acid reflux, constipation (which caused gas) and he started teething early. All those led to him being very restless and he would wake up every two hours at night and napped for 30 minute stretches during the day. Nursing was also very challenging for me. To top it all, we had moved to our new house the day before I went into labor so most of our things were still in boxes when I brought my son home. I had never been so tired as I was in the first six months after giving birth. Maybe I needed more help than an average mother because of my particular situation; everyone's situation is different, so ask the mom/dad and help!

Few things new mother's need to remember which might help them deal with their new (adorable) situation a little better:

- People forget how hard it can be to take care of a child- don't hold it against them. You'll forget too unless you make a note of it (like I am doing here.) Even mother of several children forget once the children have grown up.

- Everyone was not created equal- you are a unique individual and so is your baby. Your babies growth process will be different from other babies and the way you handle your child will be different from other mothers. Follow your natural instincts - don't sweat it.

-If you can't handle something at a given time- ask for help, don't feel like you must deliver all the time. Even those around you might not know what you need until you ask.

- Nursing is NOT EASY. It is supposed to be the most natural thing but, in the first few weeks, I felt it was the hardest thing I have ever done- harder than natural labor! It is important that you make it your priority and try and get yourself and the baby comfortable with the process so your baby can benefit from the milk made especially for him/her. However, having said that, you can only do what is "humanly possible," as my best friend said. There are many other aspects to being a mother; nursing is just one of them. Do your BEST and if it doesn't work, supplement with formula and be satisfied with whatever you did and focus on your child's other needs. My other bestie (I know I have smart friends :)) said that in the big scheme of things it is more important how you raise your child than if you nursed them or fed them formula. You are not a bad mother if you didn't nurse your child for a certain number of months. 

If you have a great mom then learn from you mother like I have but at the same learn from your child as well - let him/her guide you on your journey to motherhood. Trust yourself; you are the mother and you know best. You will always put your child's needs first because, after all, there is no ME in motherhood :)  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Make room for room service

I was instantly saddened after I read the first few lines of the NY Times Article saying that the New York Midtown Hilton was doing away with its room service. As a frequent traveller, I think it is a bad move and a very inconvenient one for a lot of us. My big fear is that trends set in New York are picked up fast by other cities and that will just be sad, and, let me repeat, INCONVENIENT. Here are a few reasons:

-It affects mothers or anyone taking care of small children. I have a very personal example; I was actually staying at the Seelbach Hilton in Louisville last year and ordered room service twice in my three days there. Sure it was expensive but the convenience factor and the quality of the food made it worth it. I ordered in because my husband was at meetings and my son, 10 months old at the time, fell asleep at an odd time and I was hungry! I didn't want to disturb him because he was off schedule anyway. Another time it was pouring and I didn't want to push a baby in a stroller in the rain. The article says that food can be delivered to the room from an outside restaurant but has to be picked up in the lobby. Am I supposed to lug my sleeping son (at the risk of waking him up) into the lobby and then carry him and the food back up (with a potentially screaming and mid-sleep awoken baby)? I don't think so. I'll stay at a hotel that offers room service. Since I am not the only mother in the world I am sure a lot of people can relate to this scenario.

- People staying at a nice hotel for business, vacation or to spend some quality time with their honey really count on room service. You probably want to relax, chill, rest and rejuvenate. Maybe you don't want to run around town dining. Maybe you did it all day long or your were stuck in meetings all day and now just want to sit and eat in your bathrobe in front of the TV.

- There is definitely a charm to the waiter arriving with a cloche on your food and knocking on your door because, like most people, I don't have a butler roaming around with a tuxedo in my house. If I wanted my food to arrive in a paper bag; I would have stayed home and ordered Chinese.

- Don't even get me started on what will happen without room service breakfast.... 

I agree that room service is ridiculously expensive but as a hotel guest you always have the option of not ordering it. Hilton has used that argument to abolish room service - the say that it costs them too much to have a standing staff and food when very few people order it. I am skeptical about that - room service food prices are inflated by almost 200% and they still can't afford to keep it going? What's next? I'd have to make my own bed because maid service is costing the hotel too much? I think I'll choose another hotel.

I don't want an end to this!