Haircut!

When little man was born, he had a head full of golden-red hair. We all joked about the color and how it seemed to turn a deeper red in the sun and I loved every strand of it. It fell out in the weeks following his birth and he spent the first year of his life with blonde whisps. Most people thought he was bald in pictures because of how little hair he had.

Soon after his 1st birthday, his hair started growing in a white blonde. Still thin, it continued to grow and seemed to become lighter over time.  Somewhere around the time he turned 18 months old, I was able to begin styling it. Sometimes we styled it upwards for crazy hair days but mostly I worked the curls in the back. He has not always loved having his hair brushed so I was nervous about the day we would cut it. I wanted to wait until he was 2, just because. We decided a few weeks ago it was time to cut it but ran out of time because of vacation. 

Today though, we ventured out. Googling a local kid specific shop, we walked in to find it filled with toys, tvs and even little cars for the kids to sit in. It was perfect! Jacob did amazing. He barely noticed that his hair was being trimmed as he turned the wheel of his car and shouted out the colors of the different cars. We asked him where he was driving to and he told us the beach and “wa-wa”!

It was over quickly and he trotted off to play with a train set. Looking like a true little man, I grabbed some of his hair and took the “first haircut” certificate while wiping tears from my eyes. Tonight, I will pick a picture to print and place with his certificate and put a lock of his hair in the keepsake we were gifted at his baby shower. A small milestone, yes, but one I will remember always.

Learning fashion

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The fashion gene skipped me. It’s never been my strong suit and I often rely on my sisters and friends to help me pick out clothes.

I’m slowly learning to venture out of my comfort zone and try new things when it comes to fashion. Sometimes it’s a new style shirt, maybe boots that I’ve been eyeing or skinny jeans (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit how long it took me to join in the skinny jeans fun).  I’ve only recently rediscovered dresses and I’m sad that I ignored the dress rack for as many years as I did.  More recently, I’ve rediscovered hats and scarves as a fashion statement – and dual purpose head warmer during chemo.

So now that my hair is growing in, I’m excited to try different styles that I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try before (my fingers are still crossed for a pixie cut in July!). I have worn headbands here and there in the past but it was infrequent and always mixed in with a head full of hair.  I decided it was time to have a little fun with my new locks and turned to Etsy to help me find what I was looking for. Etsy rarely disappoints and my new headbands arrived yesterday. The seller that I chose picked the colors and patterns for me based on my favorite colors and my hair color.  I’m excited about the mix of simple and fun that I received!

So today, I ventured out of my hair comfort zone and tied one on. I am not entirely sure how to tie it (seems simple, right? 😮😶) but I’m happy with the outcome of my first try!

So tell me, what fashion tips or tricks have you recently discovered?!

A shape up!

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In anticipation of the week ahead, I decided it was time to tame the craziness on my head a bit.  My hair is (thankfully!) growing in pretty quick and it needed a bit of a touch up.  I don’t have enough hair for a full on cut and style but I was excited, and a bit nervous, to have my hair trimmed up so it looks purposefully short.

We ventured to a local shop that Joe goes to regularly. The owner came in just for us (closed Sundays normally).  With Joe watching and Jacob playing around the chairs, the buzzer was brought up to head. It’s an odd feeling, having the buzzer so close to your ears that you can feel them vibrate. It kind of makes my ears itch. Anyway, a few minutes of edging mixed with laughter and some gel and I have a no ‘do!

It’s quite an incredible feeling, to have come so far that I had enough hair for a little style today. This moment seemed so far away for so long.  Oh, the little things in life…how good they feel.

So I have a question

Yesterday after treatment and an appointment, I stopped into a salon and had my eyebrows done. This is something that I normally would have considered inconvenient, especially considering how tired I was, but I was excited. It is the first time that I have needed to have my eyebrows touched up since beginning treatment last August. That means that I have enough hair growing to require it – yay!

While I was there, I asked about eventually getting my hair cut. I’m not quite ready to cut it but I was curious about the length and how long to wait before having it done. It was nice to talk about the future potential hair cut that I will receive. I may need to start pinning some styles on pinterest!

So today, as I sit here receiving my Herceptin dose, I glanced at Joe. He recently cut his hair and, dare I say, I think my hair is almost longer than his. Mine isn’t styled today (or ever, ha!) but I think I might have him beaten in length.

So, friends, what do you think? Whose hair is longer?!

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Growth

Though I often post pictures without a hat or a scarf, it’s rare that I leave the house without one. When I first shaved my head, I wore something on it constantly because I was afraid of the looks that I would receive. I didn’t want to be looked at with sad eyes and I didn’t want to be self-conscious. I became accustomed to wearing them and it became a second nature to put something on my head, similar to the way I grab my glasses in the morning.

The challenge with wearing a hat regularly, is that it’s hard to dress up. Scarves help this some, but I worry about them coming undone, especially if I am spending a few hours out and about. In the winter months, I wore a sparkly warm gray hat or a knitted had that matched my clothes. Now that the days are getting warmer and I’m no longer restricted to just button ups, it’s become challenging to match my clothes with a hat. I often want to dress up when I go out of the house (even just to the doctor) but end up not doing so because I feel limited.

At home I typically go bald and most of the times when I am over someone’s house, with the exception of when my head was cold or if we were outside (I don’t want to burn my head!). Now that I have some hair growth though, I’ve been excited for the moment that I start to go hatless.

Well, I did it for the first time last week when we went to Disney Live. Being there with close friends and surrounded by strangers focusing on the show, I felt brave. Plus, it was incredibly warm in the building so it was too hot to keep the hat on. No one seemed to care and I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I had been holding.

Next, when Joe & I dropped little man off at daycare last Friday I went hatless. They all know me and the battle that I have been fighting, so knowing that they support me in that manner helped me to feel at ease. I received bright smiles when I walked in, just like I would any other day.

Having a meal out that same day, I whipped my hat off and enjoyed the meal comfortably. The response was comments about how nice my hair looked growing in and how my smile lights up a room. My heart warmed and my anxieties eased each time I went without.

On Sunday, when we went to the bridal shower, I wanted to dress up to celebrate the occasion. Prior to leaving for the long drive (other side of the state), I picked out my dress, my jewelry and my makeup and then stared at my collection of hats. Sure, I have some super cute ones that would look adorable with the outfit but once inside, they would be too big, too much. Besides, it was time to go without. So knowing that we would be nowhere near home, I didn’t pack one. I had resolved myself to not wearing a hat and instead rocking this awesome hair growth that I am incredibly excited about.

Of course, slight panic set in once I arrived at the party all dolled up. I beat cancer, I don’t want to be looked at like a cancer patient anymore. What if people stare? I don’t know most of the people here, what if I make everyone uncomfortable? I know these thoughts aren’t rational but they can’t be helped. Despite how brave I may seem, I was scared and nervous. Knowing it was too late to change my mind, I took a deep breath, walked up to the front door and knocked.

And you know what happened next?

My dear friends greeted me with a huge smile and big hugs. I heard them say repeatedly how happy they were for us to come celebrate and how nice I looked. They introduced me to their friends & family and I shook hands, hugged family members and chatted away instantly with the lovely women who were there.

No one said a word about my hair, with the exception of my friends after the party who commented on how much it had grown since January! There were no stares, no side glances and no one seemed uncomfortable. I focused on enjoying the party and the day with friends. It was wonderful. It felt so good.

This may seem small but it was so important to me. It is yet another part of this battle, one that I didn’t realize was there until it arrived, that I have pushed through and overcome. So now, I am rocking this. I am wearing my new hair like a badge of honor. After all, I am so incredibly proud of how much I have grown.

Bald…again?

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Finishing my first 6 treatments was exciting for many reasons. One of those reasons is that my hair will start to grow back!

Since shaving my head in September  (ironically my busiest blog visitor day!), my hair has slowly been growing in. It’s not the typical hair growth though. It’s been patchy, with a few completely bald spots right next to patches where hair was growing at a pretty good pace.  My head has had a mixture of baldness, peach fuzz and 1 inch strands for a while now. The day of my last treatment I could even feel pieces of hair blowing in the wind when I moved my head around.

While the hair growth I’ve had has been welcomed, I have learned that it is best to shave your head again about a month after the last (aggressive) treatment. This is mainly because the hair that’s been growing is contaminated with the treatment drugs and can grow in a little crazy and a bit wirey.

So, it was time for a fresh start! Joe shaved my head again today.  There was actually more to shave than I realized.  The red strands clumped together on the floor created a bigger pile than I anticipated. I’ve heard post-treatment hair can grow in differently than the hair that came before it, so I’m curious to see what the weeks will bring in.

It was a good feeling to see my freshly shaved head today.  I’ve seen the patchy strands for so long that I just assumed my head would look like that for a while. Imagine my surprise when the shave revealed that my hair has filled in almost every where and is actually quite even across my head now!  My dream of rocking a pixie cut at my baby sister’s wedding this summer may become a reality after all.

Happy Saturday, friends! Enjoy this beautiful day.

New traditions

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Over the years, Thanksgiving has taken on many different forms.  When I was a child, my family would sometimes spend the weekend in Rhode Island & Connecticut with my father’s side of the family. All of the cousins would stay up late the night before, sharing stories and giggles. We would sleep in on Thanksgiving morning and wake up just in time for appetizers at noon. The adults would sit at the main table and the kids would have their own table or two.  We would eat all day, having second and even third dinner, with naps & snuggles on the couch in between.

Other years, my family would spend the day with my mother’s side of the family. We would all gather at my grandparents house for dinner promptly at noon. There were so many aunts, uncles and cousins that we ate buffet style. We would line up with our plates and serve ourselves heaping helpings of food and then sit wherever we could find the room. Sometimes the table, sometimes the couch and sometimes the stairs going up to the second floor.

The first Thanksgiving after I met Joe, he wasn’t planning on celebrating the day because his family was in Florida. Him and his roommate were going to stay home and order a pizza. I immediately invited them to my grandparent’s house and after a little hesitation, they both agreed. “The Joe’s”, as my uncles called them (something they laughed at for years), were welcomed into my family gathering without question.

After moving to Florida, we spend the first few Thanksgivings at my in-laws, with the exception of the year we bought our house when we hosted for the first time ever.

The last four years though, we have taken on a new tradition that has been named the Brown-Hall-Rivers-Thanksgiving-Extravaganza. It started with my younger sisters coming to spend their first Thanksgiving in Florida with the windows open and wearing tank tops. This first year was also the infamous year that I dropped the freshly baked apple pie that my little sister made for dessert. The following year, we decided to head to Georgia and experience a cooler fall Thanksgiving, where we were able to bundle up and snuggle to keep warm in the chilly air.

Last year, my baby sister and her (now) fiance traveled back to Florida to spend little man’s first Thanksgiving with us. Jacob, despite only eating milk at the time, was the head of the table (something that seems rather fitting!).

This year, we caught an amazing sale on plane tickets early in the year and we are back in the beautiful late fall that Georgia offers. Though, instead of celebrating today, we are waiting until tomorrow so that my soon-to-be brother-in-law can join us. Today, he is in uniform protecting this wonderful city.  Tomorrow ee will join his aunt & uncle, who are kindly hosting us in their home for a feast and celebration.

So today, though we won’t have turkey and fixings, we are thankful. We are thankful for all of the amazing Thanksgivings that we been blessed to have, for the incredible family & friends who love and support us more than we could ever have imagined, for it being a “good” week that allows us the ability to travel and eat well, for this gorgeous fall weather, for each other and for each year that brings a new spin to our Thanksgiving traditions.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy this beautiful day with loved ones! I’d love to hear what traditions you share!

A girl needs to have a little fun!

A few months ago I purchased an eyebrow conditioning serum to help with my thinning eyebrows. When it arrived, I excitedly opened the package and read the instructions  (yes, I do that!). The fine print stated that it had not been tested for use by patients undergoing chemotherapy. Sigh. Not wanting to take the risk without asking, I emailed my oncology nurse. She stated she needed to do more research and asked me not to use it for now. She also shared with me that there is a program called Look Good, Feel Better that would help me learn how to do makeup while undergoing treatment. It would also help teach about how to wear head wraps and wigs. I googled and read about the program and decided to sign up.  I am not a fashionista by any means, so I need all the help that I can get. Especially now!

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending. I had anticipated that it would be a room full of people and not a whole lot of one on one time. My goodness, was I wrong! There were 3 of us lovely ladies, a cosmotologist who has been volunteering with the program for over 17 years and the coordinator. We were each given a bag of goodies, filled with makeup for each step of the makeup wearing process (apparently there’s an art to this makeup wearing stuff!). We were taught, hands on and even with demonstration help, how to apply all of the makeup. The cosmotologist gave us tips and explained why we should do certain things a certain way (like only using disposable tools while in treatment to avoid infection while the immune system is down).

The makeup bags fit our skin tone (light for me, please!) and a lot of the goodies forced us out of our comfort zone – like wearing lip liner and pink lipstick, something I would never be brave enough to do on my own.

After the makeup fun, we were taught how to easily tie some head wraps and how to bulk them up to make them look like an accessory and not a cover-up.  Next, was wigs. We all had some fun with wigs and totally ventured out of our comfort zones.

It was a great experience and a lot of fun! It was more than I ever expected from the event. And while the free goodies and wig were awesome, the best part of the experience was spending time with these women.  The 3 of us each had cancer of varying forms and stages but we didn’t need to talk about that. We learned about how to feel better about ourselves through the art of cosmotology. We didn’t talk about the side effects in a negative way but instead focused on how to help those side effects by using things like moisturizers and foundation. And we had fun!

This is a nationwide program and is FREE to anyone currently undergoing treatment for cancer. I strongly encourage anyone undergoing treatment to look into this program in your area and sign up if you can.  The time spent with these ladies was priceless!

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Wig-a-licious

Wig-a-licious

When getting ready for work this morning, I debated on whether or not I wanted to wear a wig, a scarf or go bald. It was a bit freeing to go bald all day yesterday but I thought it might be nice get a little dressed up today so I opted to wear a wig. While the color is darker than my hair normally is, the style is similar to the short cut I’ve had recently. It lacks my normal curls but prior to my recent cut, I had been straightening my hair pretty consistently anyway. So the style and the feel of the hair felt relatively normal.

The wearing of the wig itself was a bit odd throughout the day. I could feel the elastic, which was a little bothersome but I imagine it is something that I will eventually get used to feeling. I had a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to wear my glasses. I tried under the wig at first, but that put too much pressure on my head. Wearing them outside of the wig and resting them on my ears was more comfortable but didn’t feel quite as secure. I adjusted them more than usual to reassure myself that they were staying put.

My head definitely didn’t get cold like it did yesterday, but wearing a wig didn’t help my hot flashes either. It was a little warm under there a few times throughout the day. Thankfully, the heat of summer is quickly disappearing. I am not looking forward to sporting a wig on a hot summer day in Florida! (Does anyone else recall the Sex & the City episode with Samantha giving a speech in her wig?)

All in all, I’d say my first wig wearing experience while being out of the house was a success. I will admit that I took it off the moment that I walked into the house and felt relief – and a bit of coolness too.