Failures in Parenting: A Tutorial In Removing Vaseline From Hair

This has been a trying week. Our septic went out. Juliette mutilated my glasses. Then she used her nap time to smear vaseline all over her hair. Later that night, I spilled a tiny bit of water on my i-phone and the speakers stopped working. The next day, Juliette used her nap time to scale her bookshelf and, at the same time, our pool lost prime indicating a problem there. It took all that I had not to move out of my house and run off on an adult-only vacation involving the sipping of multiple frozen cocktails.

Fortunately, I now have quite a few new tricks up my sleeve and I can share them with you.

How To Remove Vaseline From Hair


Vaseline aka petroleum jelly is hydrophobic (repels water) and insoluble in water. It also has a melting point of 99 degrees so water cooler than that will only worsen your troubles. Wish I was thinking rationally about this before I put my screaming daughter in the bathtub. Doh! If you did this also, don’t worry. Just skip down a few steps. It will all work out eventually.

Step 2: Use a comb and paper towel to remove as much petroleum jelly from the hair as is possible. This may be a two-person job if you toddler is kicking and screaming as they sometimes do.

Step 3: Soak up as much of the remaining vaseline with a dry powder. I used corn starch but dry shampoo and talcum powder have also been suggested by some.

You should take a picture at this point. Here is J at her Albert Einstein best:


Step 4: This is the part where you get to wet the hair with your chosen medium for petroleum removal. I tried nearly all of these solutions at least once. For each of these, it is helpful if the medium is already warm and once you soap it up, rinse with the hottest water your child can stand. Lukewarm or cold water turns the vaseline into a white goop. Not helpful.

Dishwashing liquid containing grapefruit: We have the Kirkland environmentally friendly brand so I tried this following my first cornstarch application to wet (oops) hair. Her hair was not much cleaner after several applications, but then again it was a whole jar of vaseline. Child will likely be screaming at this point due to the combination of dishwashing liquid in eyes and hot water. J kept saying “I do not like this Mommy.” Mommy did not like it either. I tried several methods to keep the soap out of the eyes, but it was nearly impossible.

Dawn dishwashing liquid: I strip my diapers with Dawn for its degreasing power, so I should have thought of this without the internet prompting me. On day 2, we followed a dry cornstarch application with 2-3 washes with Dawn. My results were just slightly better than on day 1.

Baby shampoo mixed with 1 tsp of baking soda: Let mixture fizz and then apply to hair. The good news is that baby shampoo does not burn the eyes, so you have only the hot water to upset baby. Hair was slightly better at this point, but greasy enough that I still felt the need to cover it with a headband and hat when we out lest someone think I do not bathe my child regularly.

Clarifying shampoo: I bought Neutrogena’s anti-residue shampoo, which is something I myself used to use once per week to remove product build-up and gunk from my hair. We had the most success with this method. Several washes on day 2 and one wash on day 2 and 3 and hair was noticeably better. This picture is from day 2.


Olive Oil or baby oil: Apparently clowns wear make-up that is waterproof and they use baby oil to remove it or olive oil, if there is no baby oil available. From what I read, you saturate the hair with the oil, squeeze as much out as possible and then follow by washing with dishwashing liquid, clarifying shampoo or baby’s regular shampoo.

Step 5: Condition, condition, condition. Many of the above methods will strip your child’s hair of its natural oils in addition to the vaseline. Of course, you will not care at the time but I have noticed my J’s hair is still greasy in some areas and dry in others. A good conditioner should replenish some of that moisture and your child’s hair will recover in time. At the very least, the whole ordeal should cure them of ever smearing vaseline in their hair ever again. I cannot rule out other substances for certain.


Me Do It!

That is a phrase I hear from my fiercely independent toddler a gazillion times per day. She says it while I am trying to teach her how to brush her teeth rather than suck on her toothbrush. “Mommy stay here,” she cries as I review the steps for going potty like a big girl. “No me,” she insists as I buckle her into her carseat.

I am trying to channel all that energy and independence into learning new skills. My sister-in-law is a montessori teacher and left me a long list of suggested activities. One of the items on the list was to make dressing frames. Dressing has been a skill we have been working on for some time. J has had some success putting on shoes and socks and threading her arms into her shirts after I help her to pull it over her head. She has recently gotten pretty good at pulling her pants up/down to use the potty. She has long mastered taking off shoes, socks, pants, diapers- usually at the most inopportune times!

I did a little research on montessori dressing frames. You can see some of the pages I pinned  for inspiration here. I also did a search on Amazon and found that you can buy individual dressing frames for about $10 a piece. I am far too thrifty (read “cheap”) for that so needed a different option. That is when I remembered that I am a Physical Therapist in addition to being a mom. Technically, activities of daily living  (or ADLS as we like to call them) fall under the umbrella of Occupational Therapy, but we PTs do our fair share of helping patients relearn life skills. I peeked into the OT closet at work and hit the jack pot- wooden frames with fabric stretched across them and a variety of fasteners including buttons, snaps, zippers and belts. Some one had hand-made these frames, and it looked as though some light sewing was involved. I wanted to make this project as cheap and fast as possible. All the other posters had used $1 wooden frames. I couldn’t find any that cheap so ended up settling on these $2 wooden boards from Hobby Lobby. I got a variety of shapes and sizes as I didn’t know what would work best.


Then I hunted through a pile of clothing Juliette had outgrown. Clothing in the 9-12 month range provided the best fit for my boards. At first, I carefully scrutinized the clothes not wanting to damage perfectly good clothes that could be passed along. But I was also determined  to make these dressing frames without any sewing or cutting.  I used upholstery tacks to fasten the clothes to the boards. The tacks can be pushed in by hand or hammered if not cooperating. I recommend a hammer or rubber mallet but must admit I used my meat tenderizer (don’t worry, it was clean!). The best part is that the tacks can be easily removed if need be. Total time commitment <5 min per frame.

I made one frame for buttoning:

IMG_5874 IMG_5876One frame for snapping:

IMG_5880And one for zipping:


J is making excellent progress with zipping. She can operate the slider and just needs help to seat it in the bottom stop. She can align the snaps together and just needs to put a little more muscle into her snapping action. Buttons are a bit tougher but I think she’ll catch on pretty soon. I have approached the learning from a rehab stand point as that is what I know best, but there is a good tutorial on the montessori approach found here. I plan to add frames for buckling, hook and eye fasteners, lacing and tying when appropriate. I’ll post pics when I do. Thanks to Debbie for the idea!

This Old House: Dressing Up the Exterior


To set the scene, I must replay the story of this home purchase. We were happily living in our first home. We had not quite outgrown it yet, but were keeping an eye out for something with more land- something that is scarce within the city limits. I came across the listing for this house and we were wowed by the pictures, spend all of 20 min looking at the home and immediately submitted a bid.  I am not the least bit impulsive.  In fact, the Libra in me usually has me agonizing over even the smallest of decisions. My husband is the impulsive one, and usually I consider it my duty to interject with some sound reasoning lest we act too hastily. This is the one time I went along with one of his spontaneous plans, and I think it is because I was impressed by the possibilities of this house.  I didn’t have the big vision. That is all Dean. But I could immediately tell you what I liked and did not like. And I can tell you that upon moving in, we both had a little buyer’s remorse because one of the things we did not like was the look of the house itself.

Upon closer inspection, you can see why:


First of all, the house itself is limestone, which I like, but laid out in brick rather than flagstone style, which is not as charming. Worse, the gutters and trim were printed red and the fascia burnt orange. True, we are home to the UT Longhorns, but I see no reason to drag your house into it. The existing limestone walkway was showing its age and the hedges had long become unmanageable.


Probably our least favorite part was these massive stone columns, which obscured a good part of the front windows.

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The trees provided a lot of charm, but the landscaping left a lot to be desired, and there was an awful lot of grass beyond that to mow and water.


We decided that we wanted to tackle the landscaping in the fall.  We had some experience transforming a blank canvas in our previous home, but had never attempted such a large project. We decided we would seek help with the landscape design and implement it ourselves over time. What really happened is that we fell in love with the design and wanted to see it come to fruition a little sooner than we could manage. I love gardening so it killed me not to get my hands dirty doing it myself, but in the end, we decided to have Sagebrush Landscaping implement their design and boy are we glad we did.

At the same time, Dean was adamant that we needed to do something about the orange and the unsightly columns. We came across this house on one of our weekend rides in the TX Hill Country , and he became convinced we could achieve a similar look. In fact, that is how we found Debbie of Sagebrush. She did the landscaping for this house also. Notice all the texture she creates by mixing mulch, gravel and decomposed granite beds with the grass providing a pop of color in between.

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First up, our trusty mason Juan of CM Masonry took down the original columns and replaced them with more eye-pleasing tapered columns with stacked stone. Our carpenter, Jonathan, gave us a nice vaulted cedar ceiling and rustic cedar shudders. When the original stone came down, we discovered the house was held up by twigs (I’m exaggerating but not my much), so we were glad to know something more structurally sound took its place. The results far exceeded my expectations. As Dean says, “I don’t know why you ever doubt me.” Good eye, Dean. Good eye.

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I may have forgotten to mention, that we have an orange roof made more orange by the burnt orange fascia. I actually took a shingle over to Sanders at Roosters Paint and Decor on South Congress. He came up with a list of his top five brown paints that would downplay my roof and we ended up going with Benjamin Moore 1232 Fresh Brew, which is a chocolate with red undertones that looks great with the white limestone. Love that Sanders.


Benjamin Moore Fresh Brew



Debbie was no slack herself. Her crew worked its magic over the period of a week creating a front yard oasis, all while working around our septic tank and leach fields (with which I was a bit obsessed not wanting to end up with poop backed up in the front yard and all).

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We now love the rustic charm of our updated house and hope to enjoy it for many years to come!


Foreign Exchange Part II

This post was supposed to follow shortly after my Sharing the Thanks post in November. Since it has already been well established what a horribly infrequent blogger I am, I’ll skip the excuses. Instead I’m going to take full advantage of the fact that my daughter is sleeping and husband is out of town to make up for lost time.

The original Foreign Exchange, hereafter known as Part I, remains one of my most popular posts (popular being a relative term when you blog mostly for your sanity and not an audience). I think the majority of visitors are looking to pilfer images via a google images search. However, for this little exercise, I am going to pretend that the real attraction is the content- namely, the excitement of a new experience or new product in a country not your own.

This time the Brits and Dutchies visited us on our home turf. We welcomed them with these three Tex-American gems:

1) Hop Doddy’s, Austin, TX


Nothing says American food quite like a burger. Hopdoddy’s is no exception. The writing on the wall states, “Hopdoddy was created to express the perfect union of burgers and beer: Handcrafted Beer (Hop) + (Doddy), the nickname given to the native cow in Aberdeen, Scotland.” Burger and beer- double score!  Bonus point for representing the UK in the name. Niels, who has visited quite a few countries, calls this the best burger he has ever had. Whoa. That is quite an endorsement. They should seriously put his picture on their website.

2) The Salt Lick, Driftwood TX


You cannot visit TX and not have BBQ. That would be sinful. We like to drive our visitors out to the Hill Country to the dry town of Driftwood, where you get to bring your own beer to go with your brisket. You can sip your Shiner’s while you bask in the aroma of mouthwatering ribs, sausage and brisket coming from the open fire pit.  With your belly full, you will think you have just about died and gone to heaven. Then, they break out the peach or blueberry cobbler for dessert. Heck, you might as well try both. Lucky for us, Andy is a cardiologist.

3) The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema


The Alamo Drafthouse is a cinema pub. I’ll admit, I’ve only been to one other cinema pub prior to moving to Austin, but I think the Drafthouse gets it right. The food is usually delicious- I recommend the green chile mac and cheese and the chocolate peanut butter shake- and you can chow down while you are enjoying your flick. This is quite a time saver, especially when you have a sitter on the clock. In this case, we enjoyed the new James Bond movie.  I  think our friends are plotting European franchises as I type this.

In exchange for our fine hosting abilities, we were bestowed with the following gifts.

1) Nestle Smarties

Nestle Smarties

At first glance, these look like tiny M&Ms. But they are soooo much better. Seriously, I do not know if I can ever look at an M&M the same way again.  Juliette was immediately hooked and we do not give that child candy but if she’ll go poo poo on the potty, I’ll import a whole bag from the UK for her. They are really that good.

2) Stroopwafel


A Dutch treat, a stroopwafel is two thin layers of baked batter glued together by a caramel-like filling. I like to pretend that they are a breakfast food rather than a dessert. I often forget about stroopwafel when making my request list for Niels and Minna. Fortunately, they have my back on this one. Totally worth the visit to the Netherlands just to try one.

3) Sinterklaas Candies

Sinterklaas snoepgoed -2

Sinterklaas, who might actually be the precursor for our own Santa Claus, is a jolly old fellow who lives in Spain. In November, he makes his yearly trek to the Netherlands by steamboat rather than by sleigh and stays for three weeks, culminating in a family celebration on December 5. During that time, children leave their shoes and stockings by the fireplace to be filled with treats including chocolate letters and my favorite, kruidnoten and pepernoten (addicting little ginger cookies). I am only sad that Niels did not actually put my candies in my shoe.


Another successful exchange was had. We have been doing this for a long time and there is always a new (and usually tasty) surprise. Can’t wait for next time. Already planning our trip.