Why Are the Ends of My Hair So Dry?

If you notice that your ends of hair are dry, you should know that there is a reason behind that kind of hair damage, and will need to be treated. But before treating you need to know the root cause of your problem. You can easily identify your root cause by looking at your routine when it comes to hair, and if the answer is not there then look at your nutrition.

Why Are the Ends of My Hair So Dry?

Causes of Dry Hair Ends

Most of the times dry hair ends are caused by a routine in daily or weekly hair care, which one may not have noticed that it is causing problems to the hair. The first and very frequent cause is the use of harsh hair products. You may like to use your favorite hair shampoo daily just because it leaves your hair smelling nice without knowing that it has sulfates that are harsh to the hair especially when used on a daily basis. You may also be using the best hair moisturizer spray daily and may be it has some harsh ingredients.

So if you experience dryness of the ends of your hair consider looking at the contents of that hair product that you use every morning.  The other very cause of dry hair end is lifestyle, you probably like to go swimming in the pool or in the beach then later take hours sunbathing. Just this activity alone has exposed you to two or more things that can damage your hair, namely chlorine in the pool or minerals in the hard water and excess sunlight. These are things that if exposed to on a daily basis will have adverse effects on your hair.

Why Are the Ends of My Hair So Dry?

Other factors

Other factors that can cause hair ends to dry include hair tools like the blow driers, curling and straightening equipment. There are many people who like to wash and blow dries their hair on a daily basis, thus exposing hair to excess heat every single day. Doing this eventually leaves your hair dry and damaged especially at the ends. You can avoid washing hair every day if you want to save your, if you are not comfortable having unwashed hair, you can try wiping the scalp using cotton wool so that you can wash your hair after at least every 3 days.

This will help in reducing dryness in your hair. The other factor that is rarely considered till the last minute is nutritional deficiency. This is lack of vitamin B7, which is also known as biotin. You can tell you lack this vitamin if your hair becomes dry and start to thin, and eventually split at the ends. If hair is not a good indicator that you lack biotin, then your splitting nails should be a good sign. All these factors can be fixed with simple routing changes and other helpful ways to fix dry hair ends before they get worse.

How to fix dry hair ends

The easiest way is by trimming the ends of your hair while at the same time eliminating the root cause of the problem, assuming that you will have identified the problem before looking for a solution. Trimming the ends will help remove the split ends which would have caused the hair to start thinning and will therefore allow the healing process to begin. If your problem was caused by lack of vitamin B7 then you should consider buying supplement for this vitamin and also add omega 3 and some anti-oxidants to your daily diet plan. This will ensure that you acquire all that your hair needs to remain strong and healthy.

Why Are the Ends of My Hair So Dry?

It is also important to consider reducing the use of heat styling equipment so that you can reduce the amount of heat that you expose your hair to on a daily basis. This will not only save your hair but will also help your scalp to stay hydrated for longer period of time. If you have to use the heat styling method then you should consider buying the heat protecting spray which will protect your hair from being damaged by the heat produced by the styling tool. Using the heat protecting spray should not be a green light to use these tools every day, it is important that you reduce their use to at most 3 times a week.

Avoid washing the hair on a daily

It is necessary to avoid washing the hair on a daily basis since the components of shampoo daily cause irreversible damage if not taken care of early. If the drying and thinning and splitting of the hair as a result of harsh components in the shampoo is not treated early, it may reach the balding stage which may be permanent. After washing you should not expose your hair to when trying to air or sun dry it, instead wrap it in the towel and let dry in there. Direct exposure to sun and air is also not good for your wet hair.

Learn to use cold showers

Instead of the hot water which also leave your hair dry and brittle. Alternatively wash your hair separately with cold water before taking your hot bath. That will reduce the damage caused of hair and will see your start to become stronger. Avoid using non natural oils and start using essential oils on your hair for example the rosemary oil, lavender, tea tree amongst others. These will give your hair a natural and soothing treatment which will be good for nourishing your hair and giving it a healthy look.

It is clear that the causes of hair ends drying are lifestyle related and have nothing to do with looking for the best hair moisturizer spray because all you need is a lifestyle change and you will be on your way to recovering your previous hair. So if you have dry hair ends, look at ,your life style focusing mainly on your hair routine and you will quickly know what the problem is, and make necessary changes immediately so that you can have your healthy hair back in no time.

What Should You Have in a Baby First Aid Kit?

Having an infant or a toddler at home means, your baby may require the immediate medical care for some times. So, it is essential to have the well stocked and the best baby first aid kit handy in the home. Actually, the perfect first aid kit may help you manage the basic supports to your toddler or infant, before having to go to the healthcare professional. These first aid kits for babies are specially made to aid parents to carry out the fundamental levels of medical care in which your baby may need. The first aid kits are usually a handy thing to have on in your home. There are many things available in this baby first aid kit such as droppers, nasal aspirator, nail clippers, rectal thermometers, etc. If a newborn is in your home, it is advised to have a handy first aid kit for them in the house.

What Should You Have in a Baby First Aid Kit?

Best first aid kits for babies

Below are the lists of some first aid kits for babies that may simplify your purchasing:

Wallaboo baby first aid kit

It is one of the most comprehensive first aid kits that would support the parent during an emergency time. Each product in this kit has been carefully chosen to meet the baby’s needs. It usually consists of a pair of scissors, saline wound wash, a thermometer, adhesive tape and a pair of vinyl gloves, hypoallergenic plasters, alcohol free wipes and wound lint pads.

Bebe earth infant first aid kit in ambulance box

This first aid kit is especially for infants as well as toddler-friendly too. This kit consists of a huge 46 items such as three kinds of damages, digital thermometer with battery, adhesive tape, cotton swabs, wipes, gauze, emergency blanket, gloves, scissors, tweezers and ice pack and so on.

First year American Red Cross baby healthcare kit

This baby healthcare kit is a perfect toddler emergency kit; because it comes to you from the Red Cross who is always ready for emergent situations. The specialty of this kit is coming with a healthy combination of medical and healthcare equipment. It typically has a baby nail clipper, comfort tip spoon for medicine, a thermometer, a brush, finger tip toothbrush, a comb, a mirror and nasal aspirator.

Dorel safety first healthcare set

This first aid kit is one of the hottest selling infant healthcare kits that you can purchase in these days. This healthcare set actually comes with essentials like a syringe, spritzer, a hair comb and wipes, pair of scissors, medicine dispenser, nasal aspirator and nail clipper and so on.

Kid stat hospital grade kit

It is a top notch baby first aid kid and must have one for all parents today. This kit usually comes equipped to treat the sprains and aches, cuts and wounds as well as burns and bites. It has included all items such as hydrocortisone creams, gauze, scissors and saline dressing for treating aches, burns and cuts as well.

What do you want in your baby first aid kit?

When you are planning to purchase the baby first aid kit, you can ensure that it has everything you will want for your baby. This kit must have things such as nail clippers, emergency contact card, baby hairbrush and infant toothbrush, bandages, topical ointments and child thermometer. These are all essential things to keep in the baby’s first aid kit. Even you can also include many more things based on your baby’s needs. According to you as well as your baby’s specific needs, you can adapt the following lists of baby first aid kit that recommends from top pediatrician that includes:

  • Emergency contact card
  • Baby brush
  • Infant toothbrush
  • Child thermometer
  • Baby nail clippers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Medicine
  • Rubbing alcohol swabs
  • Topical ointments
  • Oral syringe
  • Tweezers
  • Eyewash
  • Nasal aspirator bulb
  • Bandages
  • Baby nose drops
  • Swabs and cotton balls
  • Sharp scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Soft blanket
  • First aid kit manual

What Should You Have in a Baby First Aid Kit?

Which first aid kit for infant is best?

The baby first aid kit consists of the complete essential items for your infant’s grooming and health. But, the material of all items must be safe and non-poisonous to use. You can always make sure to buy the baby first aid kit and is safe to use as well as consists of all you want. This is a perfect, convenient and compact kit to buy for your newborn in the home. Normally, this baby first aid kit is made from the top quality material and the tools made from plastic are very smooth and also free from poisonous chemicals. Thus, this first aid kit for baby is fully safe and healthy to use ever.

Where to shop a baby first aid kit?

When it comes to getting a baby first aid kit, there are so many choices available on the market. Whatever the choice you select, you can make sure to stock up on the essentials to take care of your baby at any moment. After getting this first aid kit, you can keep this kit accessible, so that it is very simple to discover for you and other caretakers like babysitter or grandparents. You should also need to make more than one kit. In this way, you can keep one kit at home and another one in a diaper bag or in a car as per your baby need.

Do you want more than one first aid kit for your infant?

If you want more than one for your baby, it completely depends upon your lifestyle and needs. You might also need a large first aid kit for home base and a small first aid kit for a diaper bag, purse or backpack. In times of need for this kit, you will make sure that your baby is safe.

Conclusion

Overall, the necessity of first aid kit for your infant is important to keep your baby healthy and happy too. You can also even customize a baby first aid kit based on your needs. Normally, this kit has sufficient space, where you can include other important things to the baby healthcare. Thus, all the top baby first aid kids provide best and instant help, when in need.

How to Use Beard Brush?

Beard hairs are more delicate and needed to be looked after more carefully, unlike the hair on our heads. The length and growth of the beard varies from person to person. the growth of beard depends on various factors like hormones, environment, products used, etc. the length and growth can be enhanced by following some tips like oiling your beard hair regularly, combing or brushing it with utmost care in proper direction, keeping it squeaky clean and many more.

How to Use Beard Brush?

Steps to follow while combing and brushing your facial hair

  • Step 1: Choose the right comb with the right alignment of teeth. The spacing between the teeth should be dependent on the thickness and density of your beard. The edges of the plastic comb are static due to which they are rough and delicate enough to get twisted in one or two glides. Choosing the best quality teeth can make or break the shape and texture of your beard.
  • Step 2: styling your beard should be done by beginning from lower to upper, in an upwardly position. The detangling issue would be solved if you start from the neck portion to the cheeks and then to the chin. Separating your hair strands is also important.
  • Step 3: the snags caused in your hair during the gap in combing, maybe overnight, might be stubborn but it is advised to not pull them with friction. Instead, slowly detangle them inch by inch cautiously. If they are too much crossed over each other then you can use nice beard oil to smoothen them.
  • Step 4: after all this, start combing your beard downwards to do the desired styling. You can now start the use of the brush. Brushes with soft bristles are known for superb styling and removing the frizz present in your hair.
  • Step 5: combing the mustache is the step often forgotten by men. It is too, important, as it is also counted in styling your facial hair. Comb and keep the hair of your mustache aside from your lips.
  • Step 6: do not go aggressively and put too much friction in your beard hair. Gently comb your mustache with a specialized comb for mustache.

Following the above-mentioned steps while combing your facial hair will not only detangle them but also helps in styling them.

How to Use Beard Brush?

Materials used in making beard brushes and combs

Brushes are basically made from hairs of animals such as horses or boar. Beard brush is known to be the one made from the bristles of boar’s hair as they are more appropriate in usage because they reduce frizz in a short time and spread the oil more efficiently than the brushes with horse bristles.

Combs are manufactured by the raw materials like wood (sandalwood and pear wood), metals, rubber, cellulose, silicone, plastics, etc. they are more durable and lasting than the brushes, I.e., they have a longer shelf life as compared to the brushes.

Beard combs are portable, I.e., easy to carry, but beard brushed take a lot of space to fit in. you can put your comb in the pocket of your pant but you cannot do this with your brush.

But it is one’s personal choice to choose a beard brush or a comb. Each one has its own pros and cons.

Pros of combing or brushing your hair

  1. Creates symmetry: beard combs or brushes help you attaining the desired style of your beard. They also make your face look perfectly aligned. They make the jawline look sharper.
  2. Hygienic: when you eat something, it generally struck into your facial hair. A comb with a narrow gap between teeth can help you resolve this problem. It will remove the food particles that are stuck into them. This creates a proper hygienic and clean environment and prevents health issues.
  3. Moisturizes: applying beard balm or beard oil every day before taking a shower is highly suggested for a great texture of your facial hair. They keep your beard hair strong and healthy too, by making the underneath skin moisturized. Specialized balms or creams are available for beards that are thicker as compared to the face or skin creams, as they need to penetrate the facial hair to reach into the epidermis.
  4. Gives a classy look: it gives a fine look when someone uses brushes to style your hair as per their requirements. If you really want to notice the changes, stop combing your beard for a few days and the detangling process will begin to start. Then you will know the value of beard oils and combs. Combing your beard twice a day is recommended to every man out there.

Things not to do with your beard

  • Do not use plastic combs.
  • Do not comb in the wrong direction.
  • Never use regular head combs.
  • Avoid putting extra friction.

What is the suitable time to use beard comb and brush?

Time matters in respect to combing your hair. Brushing or combing them right after you have taken a shower is said to be the best time to comb it. But first, let the facial hair air-dry for some minute. Combing in wet hair is not at all suggested as, at that time your hair is in their most delicate and weak condition, thus they might get breakage if done even gently. This will cause hair fall conditions to start appearing as well.

How to Use Beard Brush?

Tricks to comb style your beard

  1. Tap a dry towel over your beard on extremely wet hair, after a shower.
  2. Then let it air-dry for a few minutes.
  3. Put some beard oil and gently massage your beard and mustache.
  4. Run a nice wooden beard comb with wide spacing teeth.
  5. Style them by a brush with soft bristles.

How many times you should style or comb your facial hair?

Using a combing your hair for detangling your beard hair once a day is normal. While brushing them three to four times per day for styling is known to be okay. But when this activity exceeds this standard time, then it might weaken your beard hair and can cause hair damage. To prevent the condition of hair loss, you should carefully do this process.

How Often to Exfoliate Body?

New skin cells cannot increase to the surface and dead skin cells trap oil and dirt in your skin. This can lead to a duller looking skin tone, acne, rough, dry, oily or dark spots.

Exfoliation includes by hand removing dead cells from the skin. This can be performed in a number of ways. One way is with abrasive substances or tools, the other way is chemically. Exfoliating tools consist of loofahs, brushes, particular wash clothing which are created to exfoliate as they clean. Abrasive substances are typically emollients with something coarse included which will scrub off the dead cells. Typical products used consist of salt, sugar, crushed apricot kernel, almond shells, and jojoba beads.

How Often to Exfoliate Body?

How to Exfoliate Your Body The Proper Way

We typically consider exfoliation as being simply for the face, however the rest of your body needs exfoliation, too. The question is what to use: Is an exfoliating body scrub the response? A loofah? A body brush? We discuss the do’s and don’ts of body exfoliation, and discuss why the very best body exfoliator is one you leave on your skin.

Advantages of Body Exfoliation

You may be questioning why we need to exfoliate. With age, built up sun damage, and particular skin concerns, skin’s natural capability to undetectably shed dead surface cells ends up being defective– often stopping entirely. The outcome is an accumulation of dry, ashen-looking skin that can make your arms, elbows, legs– practically all over– look dull, unequal, and older than they really are.

The Very Best Body Exfoliator Tool

The cosmetics market typically provides one kind of item as a service: body scrubs. You’ll find scrubs which contain different kinds of exfoliating components, from polyethylene (also called plastic microbeads, which are being phased out due to ecological issues) to walnut shells, pumice, ashes, sugar, and sea salt. Which scrub is best? Remarkably, none! The very best body scrubs are the ones you do not use.

How Often to Exfoliate Body?

Why prevent body scrubs? 2 factors:

With extremely couple of exceptions, practically all body scrubs are too abrasive. They exfoliate at the expenditure of triggering small micro-tears, which slowly deteriorate your skin’s protective barrier, resulting in dryness, level of sensitivity, and other issues.

Body scrubs also are typically extremely fragranced, consisting of with necessary oils, and these cause additional problems that can activate inflammation (although they do smell excellent, which does make them appealing).

The Advantages Of Exfoliating Before Tanning.

There are various manner ins which technology of today day has made beautification efforts more streamlined, structured and simpler to achieve. One such fulfillment can quickly be found with indoor tanning beauty parlors. Such locations bring in males and females from all strolls of life who are merely attempting to make their skin look more appealing.

If you are not correctly exfoliating your skin prior to making that trip to the tanning beauty salon, you may not really be getting your complete money’s worth out of such beauty ventures. The good news is, there are some simple and affordable manner ins which you can exfoliate your skin prior to another experience in tanning.

Can avoid your skin from becoming too dry

Among the most crucial advantages found with exfoliating your skin before tanning is that it can avoid your skin from becoming too dry. The ultraviolet rays that you will be exposing your skin to are almost similar to those that are produced from the sun. By exfoliating your skin prior to that trip down beauty lane, you can get a much deeper and more lively tan without drying your skin while doing so.

You’ll also wish to ensure that you use a high quality exfoliating soap, shower gel, or body wash before totally exfoliating your skin in preparation for tanning. Search for soaps that are hypoallergenic which do not have any extreme components or scents in them, however that will exfoliate your skin while you are bathing.

If you choose to eliminate calluses with a pumice stone, you ought to also remove what triggered the callus to develop in the first place. This might indicate getting a sole implant for your shoe, using different socks or getting a new shoe entirely. Make certain your shoes fit correctly.

Despite what part of your body, exfoliation is important to eliminate dry, flaky, and dead skin. Removing dead cells from the skin enables it to breathe and shine with health. Exfoliation followed by a hydrating cream or cream will ensure that your skin ends up being smooth, soft, and conditioned.

Use whatever manner in which works best for you

Whichever way you pick to exfoliate, understand that you need to know your body and use whatever manner in which works best for you. All bodies and skin types are as unique as the individual themselves, so treat your body kindly and carefully and it will reward you with healthy, radiant, glowing look. Exfoliation will make your body feel great, which in return will reward you psychologically and mentally. If you have diabetes, or other conditions that trigger circulatory issues or feeling numb, consult your health professional before attempting any of these treatments for calluses or corns.

How Often to Exfoliate Body?

A simple way to really exfoliate your skin before you tan can be found in a variety of spray-on exfoliants that you can find at most supermarket, drug shops, or perhaps beauty supply shops. These items tend to be extensively available and really budget friendly. Most indoor tanning beauty parlors sell them. You just shower and after that spray them on to the areas of your skin that you intend on exfoliating. Enable them to work their magic previous to that tanning consultation and you can prevent dark lines or dry skin.

Calluses typically develop when your skin chooses it needs to secure itself from damage, such as wear from a specific spot on your shoes. Do not use the skin in these spots away entirely-this opens your skin approximately infection and prospective blistering.

Conclusion

You will also wish to check out some valuable exfoliation tools which can be bought at most shops. A couple of great ones to think about consist of: body loofahs, scrubbing sponges and exfoliating gloves.

I am Health Care

As a kid, I never dreamed of being a doctor.

I moved to California at the age of eight, when my dad (a PhD biochemist) was asked to work for a biotech company that, in 1987, thought they may have found a cure for HIV. (Spoiler alert: that didn’t pan out.) I didn’t understand the temporal bravery of the scientists working on what was then thought of as a homosexual disease, but I was so proud to know that my dad went to work every day trying to save people’s lives.

Within months of our cross-country move, my mom got a job at Stanford University Medical Center making sure insurers paid the hospital and the hospital paid the docs and the university…blah…blah…blah…accountingcontractsnumbersmath…so that, ultimately, the many thousands of patients – HUNDREDS OF WHOM I PERSONALLY KNOW – could get the best health care on the planet. I don’t understand accounting but I am so proud to know that my mom goes to work every day to make sure Stanford (and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital) can deliver the highest quality care to my friends, neighbors, family, and the many people who come from across the country and around the world to seek health.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I worked in Stanford’s heart and lung transplant department (with the father of heart transplantation) where I met donor families, people waiting for a donor match, transplant recipients, nurses, doctors, office staff, schedulers, and yes even accounting folk who came to work every day because together, as a team, we saved people’s lives. Some of the most fulfilling “work” of my life happened when the nurses who supervised my clerical/office tasks asked me to go hang out with the younger transplant recipients – kids who were stuck in a hospital for weeks on end with no one but adults with whom to interact. I wouldn’t trade those conversations for the world. (You don’t know humility until you hear it from an adolescent fighting for their life.) I was invited to witness an organ harvest (sorry, technical term) and heart transplant all in-house (which does not often happen) and it ranks right up there with birthing my two sons on my list of top life experiences. I may not have understood why transplants worked, but I was so proud to work with a remarkable group of people who, with an astonishing amount of regularity, resurrected life from death. [PSA: if you’re not already, please learn how to register to be an organ donor.]

I moved on from my high school and college clerical jobs and pursued a Masters degree in Public Policy from Georgetown where I took classes from amazing professors who taught me the policy and politics behind our most important health laws. (I mean, for reals…I took Politics & the Media from Paul Begala while he was still appearing on the (good) Crossfire. Could life have been any better for a policy/politics dork like me?) I began to understand that policies enacted by our government can truly impact people’s lives. I was so proud to have chosen a profession where I could – in my own, passion-driven way – help people live healthier, more productive lives.

Since I graduated from grad school, I have had the honor to do work – on my own and in my career – on behalf of the people like my dad and my mom and my coworkers and the many hundreds of thousands of people in California and across the country who go to work every day to try to make people’s lives better by optimizing their health.

Policy-making isn’t always pretty. Politics certainly isn’t. Medicine is often as much of an art as a science. And though I don’t always understand the science part of medicine, I am so proud to be part of a community of people who I KNOW strive to enhance, improve and save lives EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

 

***Disclosure: I’ve acknowledged, both in this post and on my “My House, My Rules” page, that I work for health care companies. That being said, I’ve not been asked to write this post, nor have I been compensated for it. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and only mine and do not reflect the views of my employers, colleagues or clients.***

Friend. Protector. Family.: RIP Mater

***This post began as a comment on Facebook in response to the notes I received after I posted the status update and pictures shown below. But in typical FB fashion, it was being a punk and in typical Emmie fashion, I was blabbering on and on. So I dusted off this blog and decided to just post this here. Thanks for coming back to visit.***

Friend. Protector. Family.: RIP Mater

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. All of us are taking this very hard. For those of you who asked what happened, all we really know is that Mater got sick and went downhill fast. The very long version is as follows:

Mater vomited once on Saturday morning. We withheld food, figuring it was a stomach bug. He threw up a small amount Saturday night and then was fine until Sunday night when he vomited water. We came home (we were in the Bay dropping off the boys for camp). By Monday night, he was perking up a bit…asking for food, following me around the house close to normal. I fed him a small amount of rice. He kept it down all night. I gave him a bit more the next morning (Tuesday) but when we came home from work we found he’d thrown it up in his crate.

By that point it was clear that Harley hadn’t contracted whatever he had (they always share little stomach bugs so that was unusual) so I was no longer inclined to think it was something that simple. I called our vet who was closing for the night. They sent us to the emergency vet. (Side story: Just before we left, I took Mater into the backyard. Our neighbor’s dog was out and they did their usual tussle at the fence. Normally I’d shush him but something told me to just let him have his fun while he could. Yesterday morning, I heard the neighbors’ dog outside waiting for Mater like normal. It broke my heart.)

I got him to the emergency vet. He was solemn but wagged his tail when the tech and the vet came in. At this point, everyone thought it was an obstruction…that he’d ingested something he shouldn’t have and that it was lodged in his digestive system somewhere. X-rays indicated that was unlikely. Blood work showed his liver values were through the roof. The ER vet said his levels looked like those of a dog who ingested something poisonous. We couldn’t think of anything he could have gotten into. I told her I needed to know if he wasn’t going to make it. That I had to go get my boys who were two and a half hours away.

We started him on antibiotics and fluids and the emergency vet kept him overnight to run some more tests. In the middle of the night, she called to say his liver wasn’t producing the proteins to clot his blood (which meant they couldn’t get a biopsy of his liver, the next step in diagnosing him along with an ultrasound). He could suffer from internal bleeding at any time. The nurse caring for him said he “looked worse” in the morning. The radiologist that reviewed the film confirmed that obstruction was highly unlikely and said his liver looked smaller than it should be. The vet informed me that it would be extremely difficult to figure out what was going on and likely significantly harder to fix it. She explained the procedure for euthanasia.

At first we asked to move him to his regular vet. But as we thought about it, we wondered whether we should just keep him there so as to avoid the anxiety and discomfort of a car ride. I called our vet to tell him our concerns but he pushed hard to evaluate him himself. “He’s my patient,” he said. “Let me try to save him.” I couldn’t blame him. (In case you question his motives, he offered us a break on the expenses and was significantly cheaper than the emergency vet even without the discounts. He’s a good guy.)

The car ride over was awful. Mater cried the whole time, like I’ve never heard him cry. He threw up as we pulled into the parking lot. I got help getting him inside and talked with the vet. He ran a couple more tests (it wasn’t parvo but he had bacteria in his stool) and asked for two days to try to treat him with antibiotics. Scoot went to get the boys so they could see him that day (Wednesday) just in case. He rushed down to the Bay, told them Mater was really sick and that we wanted to give them a chance to see him, and they headed back. While they were on their way back, I got a call that Mater had a seizure. He wasn’t responding to the antibiotics (now on hour 18). I asked the vet to keep him comfortable and told him that the boys would be back in about two hours.

I went to lay with him while we waited for the boys. When I arrived, his eyes were fixed. The vet had to sedate him and he said he thought Mater was blinded by the seizure. I put my face in his. His nose twitched. He knew I was there. I talked to him, told him
how sorry I was, that we all loved him, that the boys were on their way. I wondered whether I had time to bring Harley over, thinking maybe she could bring him comfort that I couldn’t. He adored her. But I knew there wasn’t much time and my priority was to make sure he wasn’t alone. I got all the arrangements handled. We moved him to an exam room where he was able to lay comfortably on a blanket.

The boys arrived. How they felt is their own story to tell. I, however, have never felt as terrible as a parent as I did when they walked in and said their goodbyes. Mater dragged himself into Bop’s lap as Bop sat in my arms on the edge of the exam table. It was such as juxtaposition to the early days when the puppy Mater and 2-year-old Bop wanted little to do with each other.

The boys went to the waiting room with Scoot while Mater left this world. I stayed with him, nose to nose. The end was peaceful and merciful.

Meanwhile, the boys chose the inscription for his urn: Mater Johnson. Friend. Protector. Family. September 29, 2008 – August 7, 2013.

He wasn’t even five years old.

Mater was supposed to be our way of helping the boys deal with Harley’s mortality. He was supposed to comfort them and snuggle them when she died of old age. He was supposed to be here to greet them when they walked home from school by themselves for the first time. He was supposed to hang out with them while they played video games. He was supposed to be the playful peacemaker after enduring the yelling of fights between adolescent boys and their parents. He was supposed to get in the way when we were trying to take pictures of the boys on their way to prom. He was supposed to cry at the door when DJ went off to college. He wasn’t supposed to be a distant memory by then.

Instead of enjoying all of the “supposed to”s, I’m left to mourn. To comfort my husband and my kids as we all struggle with this complete and sudden shock to our lives. To second guess every decision we’ve ever made about him and his care. To wonder what would have happened if he’d been seen sooner. To research the chicken-or-the-egg cycle that is liver failure in a fruitless search for an explanation. To question my natural inclination to plan out everything in my life. To get smacked in the face by the reality that there is so much beyond my control. To try to envision my kids’ future without him in it. To answer my boys’ questions – some of which are unanswerable. To know when to let tears flow and when to dry them. To forgive myself for my role, however big or small, in his demise. And, ultimately, to have faith that none of us will feel this way forever.

I’ll miss you, my little snuggle bug.

Friend. Protector. Family.: RIP Mater

Friend. Protector. Family.: RIP Mater

Can We Have Take Your Classmate to Work Day?

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about Facebook, questioning why in the world they’d want to be in touch with their entire high school class and I understand why some folks would say that. But I see it differently.

Facebook has allowed me to not only reminesce with the people I grew up with but to see what interesting people they’ve become as adults. I have to say, I’m pretty proud to have known so many awesome people. Many of them are doing really cool things. Below, I highlight three women I grew up with who have started their own businesses following their passions.

Live in San Francisco and own a dog? Then you should get to know Fetch in the City. FITC is run by my best friend from junior high, Jessey. She offers play groups for dogs as well as customized pet sitting. Her playgroups, which have a maximum of eight dogs each, get their exercise off-leash at Fort Funston. Anyone who knows Jessey knows she has a passion for animals. She nearly got me killed riding a horse once (ok, not killed…we were in a ring and the horse was barely trotting but it scared the snot out of me anyway), but I still love her.

Jessey and I both were soccer players throughout high school and a teammate of ours, Naomi, is also running her own business in San Francisco. Sweet Buds Floral designs beautiful bouquets of flowers and delivers anywhere in San Francisco for $13. They also deliver for weddings and events throughout the Bay Area and into wine country. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill carnations, these designs are breathtaking. Order your Mother’s Day bouquet today!

In addition to beautiful flowers, what better gift for mom than a way to stay fashionable while she’s serving as the hostess at her dinner party? Look no further than Smocks Design. When having company over, no one wants to ruin their good clothes while preparing dinner, but aprons can be so blah. Kelley, who I went to elementary, junior high and high school with, and her mom have you covered…literally. When Page Six Magazine decided to cut back to publishing quarterly, Kelley, who served as the mag’s fashion editor, went to work on creating her own company which promotes “the art of entertaining” by bringing high fashion to the apron-wearing set. They purchase remnant fabric from designers, so not only is the cut stylish and flattering, the fabric is too. While Kelley’s not kicking off new business ventures, she and her mom also search for style and substance together on their blog, Cuts on the Bias. It’s a daily read on my netvibes page.

I admire all three of these women for taking risks and following their passions. Go check out what they have to offer and I’m sure you will come to admire them too.

My Kids Are 5 and 2 But I’ve Got Empty Nest Syndrome Already

Friday night last week, our 6 month old puppy Mater was in the backyard acting weird. I saw him looking up at one of our trees going ape shit. He actually tried to climb a 6 foot tall wood fence to get closer. Because we live in a new neighborhood with new trees, we have no normal suburban wildlife (like squirrels) so I didn’t really think much about it and went on with my evening.

The next (beautiful!) day, we spent the entire day doing yardwork. As I was cleaning up the back corner of the yard, I remembered Mater’s behavior and decided to take a look. Sure enough, right at eye level there was a nest with two little baby birds looking at me with their beaks wide open. I stared for a few minutes and then realized that their mom and dad were in my neighbor’s tree watching me and those chicks looked hungry, so I left.

I know absolutely nothing about birds. (I think they may be Western Meadowlarks or Lesser Goldfinches but I could be wrong.) But, man, their behavior was so interesting to me. All weekend I was drawn to this little bird family. It ends up there were not two but four. And they were growing by the day!

It’s no surprise, really, because that mommy and daddy bird were busy! Their routine was something like this: Mom & Dad (making assumptions here…since I know nothing about birds I’m assuming they are in a heterosexual relationship…no clue if that’s right) fly into the area together and make a few circles around the tree where the nest is. They’re checking out the territory and making sure everything is ok. They’re very vocal. One (I like to say Mom but I really don’t know) swoops into the tree to a chorus of baby chirps while Dad hangs out in a high location nearby, presumably keeping watch. Then once Mom is done, they switch places and Dad feeds the babies. The chicks are instantly calmed and Mom and Dad fly away noisily. The chicks curl up together and take a nap and the cycle starts all over again.

D, our 5 year old, witnessed this routine as well and he had a lot of questions and since he still believes that I know everything I narrated the show to the best of my abilities. What was so remarkable, to both of us, really, was how familiar this pattern of parent/child behavior was. Now, if I’m remembering the one day I didn’t cut freshman year biology correctly, the feeding is done when the Mom and Dad regurgitate whatever they found on their hunting expedition for the babies to eat. I’ve never done that, though I did chew food for my kids a few times when they were just starting to eat solids. I’m also pretty sure that if I had left my kids all by themselves in their cribs when they were days old, CPS would have been over to visit with a quickness. But all-in-all observing their behavior was yet another reminder of how natural parenting is for many animals, humans included.

It reminded me of an incident that happened the summer before we moved from DC to California, when I was about 7 months pregnant with B. We had a little townhouse with a little yard and in it we had a blue tarp. We went to clean up the yard before we put the house on the market and realized a mouse (or rat?) had made the tarp its home. We scared it away but realized a few minutes later that there was an entire litter of rodents left behind. I called the local animal services people and the woman on the phone said, “Rodents are mammals. Mammal mothers don’t abandon their babies. She’ll be back.” I burst into tears. The sappy, can’t explain to your husband when he asks what’s wrong kind. (Hey, I was pregnant. I blame it on the hormones.)

My point is that motherhood, parenthood, is not just about procreation. It’s about so much more than that, for wild animals and humans alike. It’s about the things that Mom and Dad bird did to put food in their kids’ bellies. It’s about the pain that we feel when our kids are hurting. The sacrifices we make to keep a roof over their head (or a nest under their bum, as the case may be). And the heartbreak we go through when something goes terribly wrong.

I was so drawn to those four chicks over the past four days that my heart broke a little when I came home this evening and the nest was empty. Of course, D and I celebrated that they had grown up and moved away, lest I discourage him from doing the same thing some day. I just hope they come back to visit and know that when they do, they’ll find their bedroom just as they left it.

I’m Either Raising a Master Manipulator Or I Suck As A Mother

While we were on our vacation in Michigan, D (our 5 year old), asked Scoot, “Daddy, will you stop being on the computer?” He then repeated the question to me. The next day, the two of us had a conversation about it and decided that while we’re not on the computer all that much, if our kid is mentioning it to us then perhaps we should cut back. Problem solved.

Until last night.

While driving home from registering D from his first soccer league, I mentioned to him that I have a soccer game at 9 pm tonight. His response: “Mommy, I don’t want you to play soccer any more.”

What? Why? I play one game once a week and it’s one of two outside-the-house activities I do (the other being the neighborhood association board which meets once a month for two hours).

“Because I want you to have fun time with me.”

OK, kid, so why don’t you break my heart while you’re at it? Am I really that bad of a mother?

I’ve always been proud of myself for not participating in a lot of non-kid activities. Though Scoot and I both work fulltime, we spend as much time as possible with our children outside of work hours. We put them in daycare near our work so that we could spend extra time on our long commute together. I can count on one hand the number of times they’ve been watched by someone other than one of us…IN 5 YEARS!

So now I’m vacillating between thinking I’m a horrible mother and thinking I’ve raised a total manipulator. Does he know that when he says stuff like that he’ll get his way? Even if “spending fun time with me” means he’s playing in his playroom while I’m doing the dishes or changing his brother’s diaper?

Don’t think I’m being too harsh on the kid…he really does know how to work it. A couple weeks ago he wanted to get “biscuit” (Lucille’s BBQ) for dinner and Scoot was ready to make a meal at home. D turned to his daddy, and said something along the lines of, “Daddy, can we please have biscuit? I’ll be so happy” and then gave him a kiss. Game. Over.

But even so, if a kid says they want more time, even if they get as much of it as you think you can give, shouldn’t you listen? Is spending a few hours a month on your own activities selfish? I’m so confused. Halp!

A Satisfied Mind

Six years ago this spring, my Grandma Johnson died. My heart broke for many reasons: I was pregnant with my first son and I knew she and my kids would never know one another (a loss for them both); her death was sudden and so came as a bit of a surprise (although she was still 83 years old) and I was totally unprepared; I was on an airplane on my way to say a last goodbye when my dad called to say that she had passed away and so felt I had missed out. But most of all I was heartbroken because the love of my Grandfather’s life, the woman who he had spent the last 63 years with, was gone and he was left alone.

And so, for the past six years, every time I’ve heard Randy Travis’ Satisfied Mind, I’ve bawled my eyes out. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it includes these words:

“He said I ain’t afraid of dying ‘cause I know there’s something worse,

When you have to see your reason for living go first

And you get left behind.

Some can’t think of nothing better than to live this life forever,

I never wanted no more than was mine

And to lay down some day and go home with a satisfied mind.

He said don’t look into the darkness if you wanna see true black,

Look into the morning’s brightness at love ain’t coming back

And you will find right there the darkness that blinds.

And don’t think wealth is ever having all you want all to yourself.

It is found when you are giving what you have to someone else.

The only difference in the rich and the poor is a satisfied mind.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, Grandpa has been fortunate to be surrounded by family, as he has children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who live in Michigan, some of whom eventually came to live with him in his final years. But ever since Grandma died it’s been clear that a piece of his heart was missing.

This is the only tragedy surrounding his final days on earth. In fact, Grandpa always used to say that when old people die, that’s not a tragedy. He was proud of his old age, and he embraced it like no one I’ve known.

When I was in college he asked me once, “Why would I fear death? Do you remember what it was like before you were born?” “No,” I replied. “Did God hurt you or let you be hurt by others?” “No,” I repeated. “So it must be when you die,” he said. Simple logic to be sure but Grandpa had a way of taking all the stress and worry and other emotions out of aging and death and strip it down to a very simple, very understandable truth. We are born, we live, we die.

He was successful with this philosophy in large part because he had an unbelievable sense of humor and was always able to laugh at himself – even last summer when he walked out of his bedroom, to the bathroom and back before realizing he didn’t have on any pants. He was a joy to watch age in much the same way that a child is. On that same visit last summer, Scoot and I walked into his room and found him watching Coyote Ugly. He developed a crush on Jennifer Aniston and owned every season of Friends on DVD.

When my dad called to tell me the news of his passing early in February (he had fallen a couple days earlier and broken his leg so it was not a huge surprise), he told me that my aunt and uncle had just left him with some magazines to read and he was talking to the nurses and he just died. Now, I’m sure there’s more to the story than that, but I don’t want to know it.

Because in my mind, I have this perfect image of Grandpa lying in his hospital bed, reading a People Magazine with Jennifer Aniston on the cover, flirting with the nurses who are doting over him, a smile crossing his face and then him going home to Grandma. And there could be no more apropos way for him to leave this world.

It was an honor to know him, to love him, and to be loved by him. He and Grandma are both sorely missed.