Saturday, March 31, 2012


Brooks and I recently returned from New York City, a first trip for the both of us. It was a school trip, with several ensembles in the music department competing in a music festival at the famous Riverside Church. I've been aching to go so I pimped myself out as chaperone. It was a demanding trip (I'd be surprised if anyone got more than 20 hours of sleep over the course of four nights) but I'm sure I'll always remember it favorably.

One reason I wanted to go was to have some interesting culinary experiences. Sadly, several of our meals needed to be at places that could house our whole party of 250, so not all meals were noteworthy. We did manage to stop at the Magnolia Bakery right away after they dumped us at Rockefeller Center for some of their delicious cupcakes - chocolate with buttercream frosting for him and pistachio for me.

We stopped at St. Paul's chapel, where 911 rescue workers once sought rest and comfort. It serves as a memorial today and these origami peace cranes sent by Japanese school children and other groups are among the artifacts still displayed.

We made the usual stops - Liberty and Ellis Islands, Times Square, and here, the top of the Empire State Building.

I feel lucky that my kids have such a great music department to go through in our public school. The directors are tireless workers with high taste in the arts. I was reminded of what a special community we have for music students when our ensembles won every category in which they were entered at the music festival.

The festival provided all the participating schools a cruise around the Hudson with dinner and dancing. It provided the close of the trip (and the close of this blog post) with this beautiful view of the island of Manhattan.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Deluded Little Sprouts

Torn I am between feeling delighted at the strangely summer-like weather we've been having for the last week.... and fretting over it's implications. Mostly it's hard not to be delighted when it means we can enjoy time outdoors as a family before Little League makes us too busy to do so.

I gotta say, it was nice to do some clean up work in the yard before things got hectic. Raking out the flower beds, however, revealed some deluded little sprouts that may be in jeopardy later. Really, I don't need highs in the 80's from here on out, but if we have a freeze after all this warmth, it will have serious ramifications beyond backyard gardening. The apple trees in the orchard down the road are budding and we are all wringing our hands over their recklessness.
Over the weekend Michael, Ava and I rode our bikes into town to the Schwinn store for some new bike swag. It was a long ride for the first one of the season. Mike told me later he was exhausted when we were still a half mile from home. Ava was conking out, too, and with her on small wheels, she really had to pedal almost the whole way, while Michael and I did a fair amount of coasting while we kept pace with her.
On the bike ride we saw crocus and daffodils.... even a magnolia tree or two almost ready to burst. It was hard to feel worried amidst all the beauty. I tell ya, I have never had a St. Patrick's Day like that before.

Kiss me, I'm sunburned.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pincurl Tutorial

I started doing Sophia's hair in pincurls about three years ago, after I fell swinging from a rope swing like Tarzan and ended up with a bunch of broken fingers.

Sophia's hair has a texture that can be time-consuming to make attractive. We have to WORK to make it curly and we have to WORK to make it straight. I have suspected for years that her hair will get properly curly as she goes through puberty and I believe I see it happening before my eyes.

Pincurls were my strategy for organizing her hair during that time because my splinted, clumsy fingers made me slow and ineffective and our mornings were frenzied and chaotic while getting ready for school. With this method, I could take my time winding her hair after she bathed at night and she could simply take the pins out herself in the mornings and be mostly ready to go. Also, the pincurls made her hair look nice for a couple of days between settings.

After she washes her hair, we brush it free of tangles and part it where she likes it.

Sophia's hair is quite fine and of average thickness, so we take a section of perhaps a square inch. It seems like a comfortable amount of hair to pin.

I wrap the piece of hair around my finger to make the curl... I put one index finger close to her scalp and use the other hand to wrap the length of it around that finger. I've seen some online tutorials which "rolls" the hair from the ends to the roots - like one might roll up a length of ribbon. I find it needlessly time consuming, but it does make a differnt kind of curl. I would suggest experimenting a bit to get the kind of curl you like.

Next, I move on to the next square of hair, next to the first and still under the part. I work in rows as best I can. Heads are neither square nor flat, so I don't sweat about adding a bit more to a curl or fudging the rows as I need to.

This night, I surrounded the part with pincurls and worked my way down...

...until the whole head was covered.

This morning she got out the door for the bus before I could get a picture of the fresh ringlets. I'll look for an older picture to show you what the first morning looks like and update later.

This picture was taken after a day of school, a game of raquetball and being brushed out. It's basically what it looks like on Day 2, which I think I prefer.


1. I've got my pinning technique pretty well perfected. Now that I've figured out where to insert the pin and which direction to point it (but which I find I can't articulate in words), I generally only need one pin per curl, but if you don't trust just one, put a second one in so that it criss-crosses with the first, which will lock them both in place. (The pins need to grab both the curl and the hair underneath.)

2. Pinning wet hair and leaving it until it dries makes the tightest curls. Pinning hair that is already dry will make looser waves. (I even read one tutorial in which the woman said she only did pincurls a day after she shampooed because setting "dirty" hair gave her the kind of style she liked.

3. Likewise, pinning small amounts of hair makes tighter curls than thicker strands.