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In: Nicola's Blog

January 18, 2016

Curly Girl

The majority of people around me have pretty straight hair. Maybe with a slight bend in them. Straight, sleek hair is desirable and all hair products try to help with that. And that’s why most of the curly humans amongst us only know the straight way to treat hair. Just like I did up until last year.

You have to brush it is what you learn as a kid. You have to straighten the waves first, and then curl them properly, that’s what hair stylists have been telling me. But go figure, that’s just not how curly hair works.

Beforeandafterhair

This is a short story about how the Internet helped me convert my scraggly waves into healthy curls and I am planning on spreading the word. Everybody needs to know this – straight haired mom’s of curly girls, traditional hair stylists who want their curly clients to come back. If you know a curly person, you have to get your friend to try it. Not because how you look is everything that matters, but feeling good about yourself does make a difference. And many curly people do not feel good about their frizzy pouf, but instead fry or brush their hair straight every day.

I’m gonna try to boil this curly recipe down to the basics because there are plenty of other detailed resources online that are all linked to this wiki. Here it goes – Three basic principles of treating wavy, curly, or coily hair better:

  1. Moisturize the crap out of your hair.
  2. Shape those ringlets.
  3. Preserve that shape.

 

Moisturize

  • Use sulfate-free shampoos. Sulfates dry out the hair a lot and remove all natural oils, causing the scalp to produce even more oils. It takes a few weeks for the scalp to regulate, but afterwards you will get at least an additional day out of your hair without it getting greasy.
  • Some curly people even just scrub their scalp with a light conditioner instead of shampoo. It’s called co-washing. Personally, I alternate sulfate free shampoo and co-washing.
  • Because sulfate-free shampoos can’t fully remove silicones from the hair, now you’ll also have to find all silicone free hair products for conditioning and styling that rely more on natural oils.
  • Use lots of conditioner on the length of the hair. Like tons. So much that your hair feels like slippery wet seaweed before you rinse it out.
  • Don’t use a terry cloth towel to dry the hair because it removes too much water. Instead, just blotting it for a minute with a microfiber towel or your husband’s old T-shirt works well. It should still be pretty wet for styling.
  • After washing and conditioning, the moisture needs to be locked into the hair. This is where every hair has different needs and you’ll have to find out by experimenting what combination of product works for you. I add leave-in conditioner, and then lots of strong hold gel, because my hair is super porous and otherwise gets very frizzy quickly.

Shape. A.k.a don’t brush!

  • Curly hair should never ever be brushed. Especially not when wet or before styling. Wet hair breaks too easily and dry brushed curly hair looks messy, frizzy, and big:

IMG_1037

  • Curly hair naturally clumps together in strands, don’t try to fight it. Even the artificially curled hair that everybody wants looks like that. See:

artifical curls

  • So, don’t try to separate the clumps. There is absolutely no reason to do so. Instead, detangle your hair while you wash it and it’s smothered in conditioner. At that point it doesn’t take more than gentle finger-combing to get any tangles out.
  • In order to form the clumps, just gently scrunch your completely wet hair with a cotton T-shirt after the shower. Don’t dry it too much. As long as there is still moisture, hair naturally clumps together in strands.
  • Again, don’t separate those strands. Apply styling products only by smoothing over the hair and gently scrunching in. No raking or combing in.

Keep the Shape

  • Now, to set the curls, I like to wrap my hair in a plop while I’m getting dressed and make my face presentable.
  • Afterwards, air drying is usually best.
  • When it’s too cold to air dry, you can use a hairdryer with a diffuser to avoid head freeze. The diffuser slows down the air stream to keep the curls in shape and you can apply the warm air directly to the roots to give them extra lift.
  • After the hair is 100% dry and depending on what product you used, the hair might be stiff and crunchy from the gel. It looks weird, feels weird, and is weird:

IMG_6301

  • But that’s how gel works. It forms a cast around the strands to seal the moisture in while it slowly dries without getting frizzy. Then you just scrunch the crunch out and the results are shiny and soft curls.
  • Now, the only downside of nice curly hair is that you try to avoid anything that could mess it up. Like wearing hats, or laying down for naps. But sleeping is inevitable and what works great for longer hair is to put it in a pineapple above your head over night:

IMG_6292

  • Happy second day hair, happy husband, happy new year:

IMG_6162

 

February 7, 2013

Money Doesn’t Make Babies

Being a mom in the US and having had to deal with an inferior governmental support system to raise my kids, a current debate in Germany has caught my attention. What can the government do to turn the declining birth rate around that is threatening to lead to a collapse of the social system and lack of qualified workers in the future?

Over the past years the German government has shifted more and more tax money into making having kids affordable. Let’s start with maternity benefits.
There is a freaking designated law protecting mothers!
  • They are not allowed to work 6 weeks before estimated due date until 8 weeks after birth.
  • During that time they are being compensated for their income loss at 100% of their net-salary.
  • They have the right to leave their job for up to 3 years with the guarantee to be able to go back to the same job afterwards.
  • They have the right to be able to work part time during the first three years of their child.
  • Pregnant women are forbidden from working jobs that could harm the baby or mother and the employer has to give them a different task for the duration of pregnancy. During this time they also cannot be laid off or fired.

Beyond that, the so-called “Parent Money” is paid to parents for up to 14 months after the birth of a child as a compensation for lost income if one parent is staying home and caring for the child. It is generally 65% of your net-income. Then there is also the “Children Money”: In Germany every family gets 184 Euro ($246) per child per month until the child starts to have an income or turns 25. No conditions or income limitations tied to it.

Daycare and preschool are heavily subsidized, or even free in some communities.
But apparently all that massive spending is not working. It might make parenthood more affordable and easy on the parents that have kids anyway, but the money does not magically make people reproduce.
“Money doesn’t make babies” was a headline in the German news that caught my eye and made me start to think about what a government could do to convince me to have another child. To be clear – I am done with having kids. The certainty of this decision rose from 99% right after Felix birth to 100% as of right now. Having done the first two kids completely without any financial support from the government, you would think that money could make a difference to me. What if I had an extra $500 a month? Or $1000 or $2000? I would probably find a thousand other ways to spend that money on my existing family rather than on a new baby. Felix could go to daycare so that Linc and his parents get more work done. Milo could do more extracurricular classes. We could start saving for their college funds, etc., etc. In short – the government couldn’t pay me enough money without going broke to get me to make another baby.
So now the German politicians and anybody else involved in the debate are looking into other ways to facilitate reproduction, particularly among young and educated citizens. The compatibility of raising kids with having a career is being brought up a lot. Childcare options need to me more widely available, work hours more flexible, pay rates and employment opportunities equal between mothers and child-less people.
Well, Germany, I can give you that perspective as somebody who is working with a highly progressive company in a very flexible job that allows me to raise children while having a perfectly fulfilling career: It doesn’t make me want to have another baby either. Babies make the same job exponentially harder, regardless of how flexible it is. Sleep deprivation, distraction by sick children or other parental concerns, make it really hard to focus sometimes and you have to push yourself way harder to get the same results as back in the days when you were well rested and all that mattered was yourself and your own pleasure. Maybe if I had the right to be able to work part time, it would make life with children and career easier. But I still wouldn’t have another baby because of it.
In my eyes what it all boils down to is that a government can do whatever they want and it won’t change people’s attitude towards having children or how many they want to have. Some people want 3-4 kids and they will do it regardless of any circumstances. Some people want only 1 or 2 kids, and nothing can change their mind. The reality is that more and more people move over to the 1-2 kids spectrum, rather than pursuing the big family model.
Without quoting any studies or other scientific backup I’m gonna go ahead and use my own opinion to explain this phenomenon. Young people today want to fulfill themselves. As freely and long as possible. We have an abundance of different career paths, opportunities for great life experiences, travel, etc. We delay having children as long as possible.
What if being a mother is part of your need to fulfill yourself? Then you have satisfied that longing after one child. Maybe, only maybe, you will have a second baby to give your first child the opportunity to experience siblinghood. But anything beyond that would restrict your and your family’s opportunities unnecessarily. Everything would get more expensive, traveling and luxuries not longer affordable in the extend that we like, and life just more complicated and restricted. Three kids outnumber the parents. Three is the magic number when everything gets out of balance. When you have fewer hands than kids to handle.
It’s not for me. And nothing can change that.

May 28, 2010

Oh du dicke Freude!

Auch das zweite Trimester der Schwangerschaft ist nun erfolgreich überstanden. Langsam werde ich echt gut darin, schwanger zu sein. Das fleissige Studieren zahlt sich aus. All die Veränderungen im Körper und in der Babyentwicklung sind so spannend, dass ich kaum aufhören kann darüber zu lesen. Ich will immer ganz genau wissen, was gerade da drinnen abgeht und hab sogar eine Application auf meinem Iphone dafür. Die vergleicht die aktuelle Größe meines Babies jede Woche mit einem Gemüse und erzählt mir davon, wie er mich jetzt hören kann, immer neue Gehirnwindungen formt und warum ich trotz Noch-Minibaby 10 Kilo zugenommen habe. (more…)

P1050109

So, das erste Trimester ist gut ueberstanden und im vierten Monat geht es deutlich gesitteter zu. Die naechtlichen Klobesuche bleiben, aber sonst hat sich alles ausreguliert. Mein Verdauuungstrakt verhaelt sich so unauffaellig, dass man kaum merkt, dass er noch vorhanden ist. Gelegentliche Kopfschmerzen sind fuer mich ja auch nichts besonderes und die Muedigkeit ist auch endlich wieder auf Normalniveau angelangt.

Mir ging es in den letzten drei Wochen so gut, dass ich kaum merkte, dass ueberhaupt irgendwas in mir passiert. Alle Symptome waren weg, der Bauch wuchs aber auch noch nicht und zu spueren war gleich gar nix. (more…)

February 25, 2010

Too much information

P1050012

Hier in den USA (= United States of America) ist es sehr beliebt, Abkuerzungen fuer von vorne herein unnoetig umstaendliche Begriffe in der Alltagssprache zu benutzen. Zum Beispiel PDA = Public Display of Affection = Austausch von Zaertlichkeiten oder Kuessen in der Oeffentlichkeit. Oder FYI = for your information = nur damit du bescheid weisst. TMI = too much information = Sachen, die man lieber nicht wissen wollte.
Langsam lerne ich immer mehr dieser kryptischen Buchstabenkombos. TMI habe ich im ersten Trimester meiner Schwangerschaft gelernt. Waehrend ich schonungslos ueber alle Vorgaenge in der Bauchgegend redete, war das fuer manche hier ein bisschen mehr Information, als sie wissen wollten. Aber fuer mich gehoert das eben alles dazu, das sind ganz natuerliche Ablaeufe wie Verstopfung, Duennpfiff, Blaehungen, Uebelkeit, und Harndrang, die die ersten drei Monate einer jeden Schwangerschaft bestimmen. Manche mehr, manche weniger. Und ich blieb immerhin komplett von der Kotzerei verschont, sondern hatte nur ein klein bisschen Uebelkeitsgefuehle, wenn ich zu wenig gegessen hatte. Aber ansonsten das volle Programm im Unterleib. (more…)

October 30, 2009

Voll der Herbst!

Da bin ich wieder. Hab die dritte und letzte Hochzeit lebendig
ueberstanden und kann nun endlich das ruhige Eheleben geniessen. Die
letzen zwei Monate waren offensichtlich extrem stressig – ich hatte
nicht mal Zeit eine einzige Email zu schreiben. Nach der Durststrecke
im Sommer ging es dann ab September ratz fatz und mit Vollgas durch
den Herbst. Es gibt mal wieder in allen Bereichen Neuigkeiten und das
Leben scheint einfach nicht zur Ruhe kommen zu wollen. (more…)

February 19, 2009

Hohlbauweise

Mein neuer Job: Meine Firma heißt greeNEWit und wurde vor ca. einem Jahr von drei hypermotivierten jungen Typen gegründet. Josh ist der Business Manager, der alles finanziell zum Laufen bringt. Jason ist der Marketing / Verkaufstyp, der jedem alles aufschwatzen kann. Matej ist aus der Slovakei und für alle technischen Fragen zuständig. Alle drei sind zwei Jahre jünger als ich und ziemlich cool. Wenn sie mich nicht eingestellt hätten, wären wir mindestens Freunde geworden. Von daher ist das Arbeitsklima schon mal ziemlich genial. Ich kann meine Zeit mit gleichaltrigen und gleichgesinnten Menschen verbringen und das nennt sich dann Arbeit. Ich bin deren erste Angestellte und mittlerweile schon voll ins Geschäftsleben integriert. Meine Meinung zählt genau so viel wie die meiner drei Chefs/Kollegen und ich habe im ersten Monat schon einige Arbeitsprozesse umgekrempelt. (more…)