Another haircut adventure

It had been too long.  One of the great things about wearing my hair long-ish (I can’t think of it as “long” because this is nothing compared to the waist-length hair I had in my younger days) is that I can get away with an incredibly long time between hair cuts.  My first experience getting my hair cut in Austria did NOT go well, so after that, I waited and got it cut again when I was home in the States.  That was great, but I haven’t been home in over a year, and it was (past) time.

So, I decided to be brave and try again here in Vienna.  I asked around and got three good recommendations.  Unfortunately, I ignored all of them.  Instead, I went to a place I found on my own.  They sell the (ridiculously expensive) hair products that I like, the salon is clean, busy and professional, the owner speaks English well and was nice enough to give me a consultation free of charge.  So, I made an appointment with her.

I thought, “This will be great!”  I knew exactly what I wanted — a haircut I’ve had before.  I brought pictures.  Pictures of ME with the haircut from before.  That has to work … right?!?

What I wanted

What I wanted

The haircut I wanted was a pretty drastic difference from what I’ve had recently — chin-length instead of long.  My hair, which is usually easy to maintain, does not like the water here (great for drinking, tough on hair) so I just wanted to chop it off and make things simpler.  Besides, this way, I didn’t have the uncertainty of “will that look good on me” because I’ve had it before.  I know it works.

I was so hopeful.

My experience in the salon was great.  They were (of course) right on time, and I talked to the stylist, who was surprised at how much I wanted cut off, but who chopped off most of the length anyway and sent me off for a thorough (American style) shampooing.  In fact, the salon was very reminiscent of fancy salons I’ve been to in the US — they even offered me espresso or prosecco while I waited!  When my hair was all clean, I had another great talk with the stylist (the owner) who really seemed to get what I was asking for.  She cautioned me about all of the things I knew to be true about the style I was asking for — I wouldn’t be able to put it back in a ponytail, she’d have to cut out a lot of the fullness in my hair to keep it from being poofy, etc.  I was ok with all of it — that was what I wanted.

She cut and cut.  It took a while.  It really looked promising.  I felt like she was leaving the front a little long, but I was even ok with that, because the back felt short enough.  She finished the cut, blew it dry, and cut some more.  But when she was done, it just wasn’t right.  It was still way too long, and, despite her warnings, it came out pretty fluffy anyway.  I was kind of hoping that when I came home and did it myself, it would look more like how I wanted it, but no luck.  It’s too long.  It actually reminds me A LOT of the failed haircut I had here 2 years ago.  It’s like the standard-issue Austria haircut for Americans.  I don’t like it.  Seriously — why is this so hard?  I see Austrian women on the street with good hair . . . where do they get it cut?!?

What I got

What I got

Alas, no luck again for me with Austrian haircuts.  Still, unlike my first haircut here, I feel like it looks better now than when I went in, it’s just not what I asked for.  I’ve learned my lesson.  I’m going to wait until I’m home to get my hair cut.  And if I *do* decide to do it here again, I’m definitely going with a salon recommended by a friend with great hair.  No more being clever and adventurous for me again . . . at least, not with my hair.

Getting ready for school

I still have lots of stories to recount from our recent trip to England, Scotland and Ireland, but I’m taking a break from that today for something much more immediate — school starts again next week.  For Liam, this will be his first time going to school, but I suspect that his experience will be very unlike Benjamin’s.  (B struggled through the first weeks and even months, taking a long time to adjust to being away from me.  I give Liam 3 days before he’s running off without looking over his shoulder.)

They are both so excited.  B can’t wait to see his friends and teachers again, and he is so excited to be a Vorschule Kind (kindergartener).  Liam can’t wait to go to school “with Benjamin” (even though they will only see each other every so often, since they’re in different classes — I’ve tried to explain that to Liam, and I hope he understands).  We’ve been busy with all kinds of preparations for going back to school, and this is the kind of stuff that’s always an extra challenge to do in German.

Over the weekend, we went shoe shopping — along with what seemed to be every other parent in Vienna.  The shoe store was crowded with impatient parents and busy salespeople, and kids were leaving with lots of shoes.  (We saw one girl leave with shoes, house shoes, rain boots, snow boots and socks.  Busy day!)  We were all a bit frustrated at the wait, but the kids were excellent.  Once we’d gotten their feet measured, they each tried on just one pair of shoes they wanted (B chose his in the first minute we were in the store, while Liam had to consider the selection for a few moments) and declared themselves satisfied.  We also got Liam his first pair of house shoes!

001Today was for hair cuts.  B is a seasoned expert, but it was Liam’s first salon haircut . . . and the English-speaking stylist was out, so we did it in German.  B did great, selecting his desired hairstyle, climbing into the seat and sitting peacefully for his haircut.  I was nervous about Liam — worried the stylist would cut off his curls, or that he’d become unruly and have to be left partly finished, or worse, that he’d squirm or thrash and get hurt.  He was awesome about it, though — he sat quietly, followed instructions, tolerated the hair clips she used (to protect his curls!) and actually almost fell asleep near the end.  The only person to get scolded all day was actually me — the stylist said, “Mama, nicht schneiden!”  (Mom, don’t cut!)  I’ve apparently been cutting the sides of his hair a bit short, and she’d like to let it grow out a bit.  (No problem — I’m more than happy to retire my scissors.  I’ll be the first to admit that I was unqualified, and also probably the most relieved.)

006Over the next week, preparations will continue — we need to get house shoes for B, pack up ALL of the stuff for the first day (extra clothes, sunscreen, hats, diapers for Liam), choose outfits for the big day, and continue to prep Liam for the experience (both with regular information like how the day will go, plus a crash course in basic survival German).  We’ve got a lot to do.

I’m excited because they’re excited, and because I truly believe that this is a great experience for both of them.  B gets to be back with his friends, this time as one of the biggest fish in the pond, and learning more than ever.  Liam gets to embark on a whole new adventure of friends, school, German, and playing outside . . . but all of it without me.  I’m a little excited to have some free time for myself each day — not having to schedule my showers for only the hours when Dan is home, and being able to run errands unencumbered — but mostly, I don’t know what it will be like to be without either of my boys for part of the day.  I’ve never done this since I’ve been a mom.  It’s a strange sensation, and I’m hoping that a little more free time will be good for me (and thus, good for all of us).

015It’s strange, too, to think about how different this week would be if we were living in the States right now.  B would have gotten on the big, yellow school bus yesterday to start full day kindergarten (in English) while Liam stayed home with me.  Having B at school for only half a day, with the same friends and teachers he already knows, feels right.  Liam getting to go to school and experience this part of life in Austria, learning German and making friends, feels right, too.  Right now, I think what we’re doing here is best for us.  But for me, although getting some early “time off” will be nice (I didn’t expect to have free time until Liam starts kindergarten, in 2016), I doubt it will be as nice as spending the day with my little ones.  I’m going to miss my guys.

Haircut time!


Liam, before

I think it must be innate — the weather gets warmer, the flowers bloom, and everyone decides they need a haircut.  (I think maybe it’s like shedding, for people.)  Dan has been talking about needing to cut his hair for weeks, I’ve been deciding if I want to brave getting my hair cut here again, and Liam’s hair has been starting to get too long even for my taste.


Liam, after

The day before yesterday, I decided to tackle Liam’s hair (again).  I’ve cut it a few times before, under the general assumption that it’s hard to screw up curly hair too badly, but with my dual goals of keeping it out of his eyes and keeping the long curls, it has starting looking a little mullet-like after my attempts.  Before he starts school in the fall, I’ll probably resort to having him trimmed by a professional (which worries me, because I’ve had bad luck and heard bad stories, and I worry about his curls) but I decided to do it again this time, with a little more research beforehand.  As a result, I left the longest pieces on the top of his head pretty much alone and focused on trimming the pieces that fall in his eyes, as well as the long parts in the back that don’t really curl anyway.  I’m no stylist, but I think this was my best effort so far.


Benjamin, before (please ignore the dinosaur)

B decided last night that he, too, needed a new haircut (perhaps inspired by Liam’s new style? . . . probably not) so he & Dan went to get their hair done today.  I was kind of surprised by how short of a style B chose, but he likes it a lot and I think he’ll be cool and cute for summer (it’s also the most popular style with the other boys at school, so I’m not THAT surprised).So now it’s just me! Maybe it’ll be my turn next . . .  Happy spring haircut season!


B, after


I just found my first gray hair this morning.  I know, I’m incredibly lucky that it’s taken this long.  I’m sure there are others in there somewhere, but they’re tricky to distinguish from the blond ones, so it’s possible that I have a ton of them (maybe my “blond” hair has just been progressively becoming grayer over the years, and I’ve never noticed).  I doubt it, though.  My dad is still really blond, so I suspect it’s just good genes and I’m just exceptionally fortunate.

I’m not traumatized at all.  I actually like it.  Not only is it pretty and kind of sparkly, but I really have no issues about getting (and looking) older.  (Maybe it’s because I’ve always looked relatively young?)  I think I would be bothered if I looked older than I am — for any reason, hair color or otherwise — but as it is, I don’t mind my gray hair.  In fact, I  have this image of myself, one day in the future, much older, with a long gray braid — and I’ve got to start somewhere.  (I hope that works out for me, eventually.)  I tried to point it out to Benjamin this evening.  He was unimpressed.

I’m a mom.  I’m 35.  Life is good.  I don’t mind looking like all of those things are true.

I’ve been thinking about getting my hair highlighted for years, but I’ve just never gotten around to it.  My hairdressers and my more fashion conscious friends have assured me that it would be flattering and make me look more youthful.  Maybe I’ll get around to it one of these days, but I’m certainly not going to do it now — it might cover up my gray hair!

Bad hair day

005I haven’t had a hair cut since before we left for Austria.  Back when my hair was really long, I would routinely go a year (or longer — yikes!) without getting it cut, but I’m quickly learning that it doesn’t work well with shorter hair.  My recent haircuts don’t always seem to grow out gracefully.  I’ve been struggling with what to do about my hair:  I loved having it short when I was pregnant, but lately, I’ve kind of been missing having it long.  When my hair was really long, I wore it up almost all the time, but I knew how to wear it up in a way that I liked.  With my current hair, I have no idea what to do with it.

This morning, I went to get it cut.  I had a good consultation with the stylist, and she started cutting.  All seemed to be in order.  Then, at the end, she styled it.  I hate it.  She made it big, fluffy and frumpy.  I think it aged me at least 5 (maybe 10 years).  Yuck.  I honestly had no idea I could look that old.  It’s my first experience ever walking out of a salon and feeling worse than when I went in.  I’m hoping (praying) that when I wash it and “style” it (I use that phrase loosely, since mostly I wash it and towel dry) that I’ll like it more and look more like myself.

This stylist did Benjamin’s hair a few months ago, and she did a great job, so I’m a little surprised that it went so badly.  I think, first and foremost, I’m getting older.  I don’t mean that I’m “old”, but this stylist is probably at least 10 years younger than I am.  To her, I am pretty old.  I have two kids, I’m married.  Her major pastimes (I asked) are going out and partying.  She probably doesn’t see anything wrong with a 35 year old mother of two looking old and frumpy.  I’m sure she thought it’s what I should look like.

It’s amazing how much of a cloud it has put over me to have a bad hair day.  I’ve found myself irritable and grumpy since getting out of the salon.  I finally gave up and pulled my hair back to at least get it out of my way (and now it doesn’t look or feel so fluffy).  I was expecting to come out of my appointment feeling cute and, at worst, lamenting that I probably wouldn’t be able to make it look as nice myself.

Sigh.  Another Austrian challenge:  find a new hair salon.  On the plus side, it’s actually refreshing to have a bad experience that doesn’t seem to come from a language or cultural barrier.  This is a “normal” problem, that I could just as easily have at home (but have just been lucky enough not to have ever experienced).  Bad hair is bad hair, even in Austria.