beauty · Jewish · slice of life

Hair for the Big Day

Isabelle wears her hair in two ways: completely down and in a ponytail. Occasionally, she’ll let me give her a French braid, but she doesn’t like the time it takes for a braid. I am her at-home hairstylist since her curls are too much for her to handle.

Yesterday morning, she decided that she was going to wear her Halloween costume to our synagogue’s Purim Carnival.

“Nice to give me zero notice about this,” I remarked.

“So?” she asked.

“Your wolf ears headband only stays on your head if your hair is pulled back in a ponytail when it’s wet the night before.”

She shrugged.

“Look in the mirror and tell me how I’m supposed to get your hair into a ponytail.”

Isabelle peered at her reflection. Her curls were wild. Sure, I could tame them, but not enough to create a ponytail.

Isabelle gave me a lip-service apology and asked me if I could try.

“I can’t do a ponytail, but how about we try your hair half-up and half-down. I can use bobby pins to keep it in-place like Krystle showed us at your last haircut.” (Her hairstylist showed me how to pin it back half-up and half-down to give me an idea for Isabelle’s Bat Mitzvah, which is a few months away.)

“Okay,” Isabelle said. “Let’s try it.”

I did my usual wet-down-and-apply-conditioner routine to Isabelle’s hair. Then I twirled sections of her hair and pinned it back. Finally, I put the wolf ears headband in place so she could wear her wolf costume to the carnival.

Isabelle returned from Hebrew school and reported that the headband didn’t stay in place during the Purim Carnival. Isabelle must’ve liked her hair like that since she said, “Can you do my hair like that for school tomorrow?”

“I’d be happy to so long as you’re ready to go by 7:25 AM. Otherwise, I won’t have the time to do it.

Isabelle was ready by 7:20 AM, which was shocking since she moves like a turtle after eating breakfast most mornings. I met her upstairs and started the wet-down-and-apply-conditioner routine. Then, I retrieved the bobby pins and created a partial up-do again. She looked in the mirror and seemed delighted.

“I think we have a winner of a hairstyle for your Bat Mitzvah,” I told her.

She agreed.

Now all I have to do is learn to hide the bobby pins in her hair and find her a beaded wire kippah between now and the big day.

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beauty · raising strong girls · slice of life

Embracing Her Curls

About a decade ago, I laid a stake in the ground — publicly — and embraced my curls. In fact, writing about my decision to stop straightening my hair was one of the first posts I wrote on this blog. While I have been known to blow out my hair occasionally in the wintertime, I have been getting curly cuts for over a decade. Therefore, it has pained me to hear Isabelle declare that she wishes she had “straight hair like everyone else” this school year. (Ah, sixth grade. The time when many kids start wishing they looked like anyone else.)

Saturday was a rainy day that kept us indoors. By nightfall, I offered Isabelle to straighten her hair. She was bored and agreed to sit for it — no matter how long it took.

52 minutes (i.e., three styling products, a hair dryer, and a flat iron) later, her hair was “straight.” It was straight, in that it wasn’t curly, but it didn’t look good. It was poofy since she was unable to tolerate the heat from the blow dryer close to her head. Her hair is WAY curlier than mine and I didn’t have the arm strength to do the job a professional stylist would do. To quote Ari, “You look like a lioness, Isabelle.”

As I was taming her curls, Isabelle saw how much work it took me… and how much time. She did NOT enjoy sitting in one place for that long. By the end, she decided a five to ten-minute investment in getting her curls to look polished was better than 52 minutes any day of the week.

But what hurts my mama’s heart the most is that Isabelle, despite my efforts for the past decade, still believes straight hair (i.e., straight blond hair, if you really press her) is better than what she has. While I know most of us would prefer hair that’s different than our own, I am concerned this comes from what’s valued as beautiful in our society. Like all parents, I want my child to believe that she, too, is beautiful especially if she doesn’t look like everyone else. Being confident in one’s own uniqueness is attractive.

But she’s in sixth grade. Perhaps that’s more than I can hope for. Maybe this will have to wait another decade…

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activities of daily living · beauty · slice of life

Sometimes Mama Know Best

I barely had my towel wrapped around me after my shower last night when Isabelle, dressed in a fuzzy robe and a turban towel, demanded a ponytail.

“Could you give me a minute to dry off?” I asked.

“Sure,” she replied.

She left the bathroom for a few minutes. When I called her back in, I said, “I will put your hair in a loose bun, but I’ll need to finish it up once you’re in your PJs.”

That was fine by her. Or so she claimed.

Ten minutes later, she walked into Ari’s room with her hair looking like this:

No way could she sleep like that with a bun off to the side of her neck. OUCH!

“Let me redo your hair before I tuck Ari in.”

“No, it’s fine like this,” she replied.

“Your hair is disheveled. It’s going to be a frizzy mess tomorrow morning. Are you going to do it yourself when that happens?” I asked. (She never does her own hair. It’s tricky given that it’s extremely curly.)

“I will,” she said.

“Then that’s fine. You can keep it like that. But don’t come to me tomorrow morning begging for me to do your hair because you didn’t want me to put it up [in a high bun] tonight.”

“I won’t,” she stead in a tween voice.

Yeah right.

This morning, I walked downstairs and noticed a bush of frizzy curls sprouting from Isabelle’s head. I couldn’t resist. “Nice hair,” I said after I said good morning.

“Yeah, I know. It’s a mess.”

“You should’ve let me redo it last night.”

Isabelle nodded solemnly.

“Good luck getting it done this morning.”

Isabelle’s eyes widened in disbelief that I was actually going to make her do her own hair.

I was finishing breakfast when Isabelle reemerged from attempting to put a ponytail in her hair. It was a HOT MESS. I knew she had a Zoom speech therapy session at 8 a.m. Even though she’s had the same speech therapist since she was two, I didn’t think it was necessary to make Isabelle get on a screen looking like she didn’t groom herself.

“Do you want me to redo your hair?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Do you think you should’ve let me put it up in a high bun last night so it would’ve been easy to put in a ponytail this morning?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Isabelle said.

Sometimes mama knows best.

Left: This was the ponytail Isabelle created after attempting to do her hair this morning. Right: The sleek ponytail I created after wetting her hair and brushing it out.

I doused Isabelle’s hair with water from a spray bottle. Once it was wet, I brushed it out. (Note: NO MATTER WHAT: NEVER brush curly hair when it’s dry!) I was able to pull it back into a sleek ponytail. Isabelle seemed satisfied when I was finished since she looked like her well-groomed self again.

Going-forward, I’m pretty sure she won’t resist a hair redo at night!

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beauty · slice of life

A Sprinkling of Kindness!

Earlier this year, I changed hair stylists after having been with my previous stylist for over a decade. My decision had nothing to do with the stylist, but with the COVID-protocols (or lack thereof) my former stylist’s salon was taking.

Like many salons, even the new salon lifted its mask mandate in late June. I was concerned about bringing Isabelle — who is unvaccinated due to her age — in this fall for a haircut. Our new stylist agreed to add Isabelle’s curly cut on to the end of a weekend day so we’d be the only ones in the salon.

Two days prior to the haircut, I received a confirmation for an earlier arrival time. I called the salon to find out why that happened. Apparently, things got mixed up and we were moved to an earlier time, which didn’t thrill me since we were supposed to be arriving when it’d just be us at the salon. I told the receptionist I was concerned that Isabelle would be in the salon with a lot of unmasked people. The receptionist told me she’d chat with our stylist and would call me back later in the day.

When the receptionist called me back, she told me to still bring Isabelle in at the earlier time, but promised me that everyone in the salon would be masked. I was skeptical it would be possible to ask all of the clients in there to wear masks. However, I figured it was worth trying. Worst possible case scenario: we could leave if there was someone hacking in another stylist’s chair.

Isabelle and I walked in at precisely 2 o’clock. Once I hung up our coats, I looked around. The receptionist, both stylists who were still there, and each of their clients were wearing masks. Tears began to well up in my eyes. Isabelle went to the bathroom and I grabbed the receptionist to thank her profusely.

After Haircut

She shrugged it off. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“No, you don’t understand,” I continued. “Everything for the past 19+ months has been complicated. Everything we do is a calculation of how much risk I’m willing to take. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me.”

I could see her smile through her mask. (It is possible to see someone’s smile even when they’re wearing a mask!)

I’m eagerly awaiting the FDA’s decision about vaccines for children ages 5-11 since I am hoping this will lead to our family being able to return to some semblance of normalcy. While I’ve committed to homeschooling this school year, I am planning to have the kids resume activities like Hebrew school, art classes, and museum visits. Heck, I just want to be able to take my kids to the grocery store again without worrying whether a quick trip inside will be a grave mistake! (NOTE: Like many Americans, we live in a place with high transmission and no local mask mandates.)

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beauty · COVID-19 · food · slice of life

My Allegiances Have Changed

Recently, Marc and I took our kids into one of the local Giant grocery stores since we needed several items that couldn’t wait for the big Sunday shopping. (If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, then you know I’ve been a loyal Giant customer ever since we moved to Central PA nearly a dozen years ago.) Moments after walking into the store, Isabelle and I spotted three people without masks and several more who were wearing them incorrectly. At every turn, there were noses and mouths in our line of sight. Seeing as my kids aren’t vaccinated, Isabelle and I split up from Marc and Ari so we could get what we needed as quickly as possible and get out of the store.

Now, you might think, just call the store manager. Well, I’ve done this at more than one of the local Giant grocery stores. Nothing seems to change. Things have gotten worse ever since the vaccine came out. Therefore, when we needed more deli meat this morning, I told Marc, “I’ve had it with Giant. I’m going to Stauffers today and I’m going to buy several kinds of turkey for you to try. I refuse to put the kids at risk for a preferred brand of deli meat.” (We’ve been discussing the deli dilemma for a while so this announcement didn’t come as a shock to him.)

The kids and I arrived at Stauffers and were greeted by this sign at the entrance:

I had heard Stauffers of Kissel Hill, which is a local grocery and gardening store chain, has been strict about masking in the supermarket during Covid. In fact, the couple of times I’ve been there in the past year, I always noticed how clean it was. But they don’t carry our preferred brand of deli meat, which is why I haven’t shopped there consistently.

I looked at the sign and declared to the kids, “This is my kind of grocery store.”

As we walked inside, I cleaned my cart (pulling from the ample supply of cart wipes) and walked to the deli with the kids where I proceeded to buy multiple kinds of turkey breast for Marc to sample at lunchtime. Then, we moseyed around the store since people were following the masking guidelines. Imagine that!??!

* * * * *

In the late afternoon, I went downtown to a new stylist for a haircut. NOTE: There was nothing wrong with my former stylist. She’s given me great cuts for the past decade! However, she works in a salon that’s located in a health club where masks are optional. Last fall, I told her I needed to find somewhere else to get my hair cut until I was vaccinated and the case rates came down. (I didn’t want her to think it had anything to do with her on a personal level.) She understood. I saw a new stylist in November who worked in a salon that’s Covid-safe, but the cut she gave me was mediocre and the one she gave Isabelle was dreadful. Therefore, I made an appointment another stylist, but I had to wait five months to get in!

This afternoon, I donned my mask and drove to downtown Lancaster for a fabulous curly cut. Before I sat down in the new stylist’s chair, I told her who’s been cutting my hair for the past decade and why I made a switch because of the mask-optional building she works in. She seemed shocked since she, too, didn’t feel that masking in an indoor space should be optional during a global pandemic.

I got a precise cut that brought my curls back to life. Once I was out of the chair I made an appointment for Isabelle to see this new stylist in late June. I’m confident she’ll work wonders with Isabelle’s curls too.


The grocery store in the early morning and the haircut in the last afternoon have me rethinking my allegiances. And while it may seem like a no-brainer to some people, this has been hard for me. I’m a brand loyal person. (I haven’t willingly used anything other than Colgate toothpaste since I was old enough to make my wishes known to my Crest-loving parents as a young child.) However, the pandemic has made me put health and safety first. While I’m vaccinated, I am unwilling to take unnecessary risks since I understand one could still get coronavirus, albeit less severe, after vaccination. Plus, it’ll be months before my kids get their vaccinations. Therefore, I’m choosing to support businesses that are doing their part to keep me and my family safe.

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beauty · Jewish · slice of life

Manicure in the Morning #SOL21

It’s 12:30 p.m. and I have still have more cooking to do for Passover today. So far, I’ve made charoses and matzah balls. This afternoon, I’ll make a flourless chocolate cake. Also, I need to roast a chicken and some broccoli for tonight’s Shabbat dinner. It’s madness, yet I’m enjoying it! I’m thankful I can stand on my feet again. On this day, last year, I was only able to bear 2/3 of my body weight on my foot while on crutches since I was recovering from foot surgery. This year, I’m able to do it all. However, I know I have to pace myself so I’m taking a break at my desk and leaving some comments on other Slicers’ posts before I start on the chicken, broccoli, and the cake.

Before I began cooking this morning, I did something that didn’t have to be done today, but it mattered so much to the ten-year-old girl in this house. I offered to give her a manicure. I made her an early-morning deal: “If you can get washed up, dressed, and make your bed in the next 15 minutes, then I will do your nails.” Seeing as she’s only had nailpolish on her fingernails three times in her life, she raced through her morning routine and beat the timer, like I knew she would, so that she could get her nails done.

Isabelle picked out a pink bottle of Zoya nailpolish from my nailpolish drawer. I grabbed the Midrash Manicure nail art decals, bottom and top coats, and an orange wood stick so we could get started.

Five of the ten biblical plagues are on her right hand and the modern plagues are on her left hand.

After I applied the polish to Isabelle’s thumb I asked her, “Do you like the color?”

“I love it!” she replied.

I could see, on her face, that she felt like a grown girl getting her fingernails painted.

I took out the nail decals after the two coats of pink polish dried.

“Would you like to do one hand of biblical plagues and one hand with modern plagues?” I asked.

“Yeah, that sounds good,” Isabelle said.

Together, we picked out the decals that would go on each finger. As I applied each one of the modern plagues decals — which included French fries (for unhealthy food), a Like icon (for social media), a coffee cup (caffeine), mosquitos (for mosquito-borne illness), and a fidget spinner (for distractions) — to Isabelle’s nails we talked about how these are more relevant to our times.

Once we were finished, Isabelle couldn’t wait for her nails to dry since she wanted to show them to her teacher via Zoom. At 8:55 a.m., she ran upstairs to sign onto her remote school day early so she could share her manicure with her teacher.


Okay, back to cooking now!

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