navigating interfeminine relationships: the hair stylist

The typical hair salon provides a unique relational dynamic. At a highlight or other color service, two women who may not be more than acquaintances may chat for hours like good friends. A massage is usually much quieter, while a manicurist or esthetician’s work is much shorter.

I recently had this type of experience with an entirely new hair stylist. When I walked in, her rainbow colored pixie cut and obvious number of tattoos set the stage for a very interesting conversation.

Her opening subject is location. She inquires where I live; I answer (5 minutes down the road) and toss the question back. It turns out she lives an hour away, so we discuss highways and rush hour traffic and proximity to the mountains.

After a minute there’s nothing left to say about location, so she moves on. “So, do you work?” Is it kind of a loaded question, coming from a woman who, um, does – or is that just me? “No,” I respond, almost apologetically, “I’m just home with the kids.” Yes, deliberately downplaying what I consider my God-given mission in life. “Hey, that IS work!” she responds kindly, and then tells me emphatically that she could never be a mother.

A moment later we get back to the subject of my life. “How many kids do you have?” “Four…” I answer, resigning myself to the fact that the divide between myself and the hair stylist continues to grow. “Ah,” she replies, in a tone which reveals she has labeled me as a crazy member of the quiverfull movement. This assumption is proven by her next question, “Have you ever thought of homeschooling?” asked with a generous hint of sarcasm. “I… have thought about it!” I say uncomfortably, knowing this will only lead to the revelation that she wasn’t homeschooled, she could never homeschool, that maybe she has a (weird) friend that homeschools. Sure enough.

To fill the ensuing silence, I make a cheerful comment about the salon’s playlist. Since we’ve already established that I live in a cave, I point out that it’s difficult to stay on top of current music while living with small children. “I bet you hear a LOT of Frozen!” she laughs. I laugh along. I’ve never seen Frozen and neither have my children, but this is too shocking to admit. Let’s pretend we’re normal people, just for a few minutes.

I mention what a nice break it is to have an evening out. “Did you make dinner before you came?” she asks. Caught off guard, I have to admit that I did in fact make dinner for my family before heading to a 6pm hair appointment. I can’t think of a way to make that sound more relatable, so I come across, unfortunately, as far too superior. In a surprising twist, it turns out that my stylist doesn’t enjoy cooking. Odd, since so many working women do. She is a big fan of easy (fast) food options and recommends several for my future enjoyment.

And that’s where conversation disintegrates. My stylist, obviously an intelligent woman, can see that there is just nothing else to talk about. She is clearly a single, childless woman in her early 40’s (late 30’s?) who works a full time job and lives in Gastonia.  She’s kind of a rebel. She enjoys fast food and shopping at Walmart. In other words, we basically live on different planets.

Toward the end of my appointment, I compliment her hair cutting skills. Can’t go wrong with a compliment! We chat for a few minutes about hair care. This seems to be a safe subject. We find out that the rainbow pixie cut is a very tame look for this stylist. And on that note, I pay her and escape to my own home, where I live comfortably with my right-wing traditionalist beliefs.


Bartos family, State Park Project

morrow mountain / mother’s day

Did I ever think I’d be the kind of mom who went on a canoe trip for mother’s day? Absolutely not! But here I am today, and I’m loving it.

Having a fun family time and checking a park off our list sounded like the perfect way to celebrate mother’s day this year. I picked Lake James, which looked like the Nordstrom of state parks, and carefully watched the weather report all week, waiting for it to turn into a beautiful sunny day. Around Thursday, I gave up on Lake James and started looking for other options. We ended up with Morrow Mountain, one of the closest parks to Charlotte, where the forecast was better but still mildly terrible.

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fixing our eyes on Yeshua (from different directions)

I signed up for a women’s retreat this year, with a local messianic group. I loved the idea of spending a weekend praising God and studying the Bible with a group of like-minded women.

The retreat is a very well-planned event. It’s held at a beautiful conference center, tucked into the NC mountains, and the time is neatly organized into meals, sessions, and small group study. It was an amazing privilege to worship God through song and dance with more than 100 other women!

That said, I do have differences with the theology of this group, and their teachings + practice made me, as a Torah-observant believer, slightly uncomfortable at times. For example, the ladies had a havdalah service right after dinner on Shabbat, but I believe that we don’t tell God when Shabbat is over – He tells us, using a huge fiery orb. 😉

Since the retreat, I’ve been wondering how theology affects friendship. In this case, one person’s freedom in Yeshua is another person’s disregard for God’s holy Torah. And how do we address – specifically with our children – those who use the messianic label but do not view the Torah as a covenant obligation?

In any relationship, I think it’s possible to stay on common ground and generally avoid conflict. I have several good friendships at this congregation and hope to keep it that way! What are your thoughts? Do you have any friends that have a different faith?


Bartos family, State Park Project

jordan lake

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area was on the schedule for this weekend. There are at least 8 parks in (or through) the greater Raleigh area, and this was our last one. Goodbye Raleigh! Even though I’ve always thought Charlotte should be the state capital, Raleigh is a very nice place too and we’ve enjoyed driving through there several times this year.

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Bartos family, State Park Project

william b. umstead & medoc mountain

Ever since we started the State Park project, Medoc Mountain has been our nemesis. Located in a remote section of the state, frustratingly far from any highway except Hwy 95 (ew), and a solid 4 hours from Charlotte, we just didn’t see a good way to get out there and visit without spending the entire day in the car. Recently we took another look at the map and decided to try leapfrogging through the Raleigh-Durham area, then going out to Medoc Mountain, and stopping through Raleigh again for dinner to break our drive home. This plan sounded like it might work.

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Bartos family, State Park Project

falls lake & kerr lake

Our first taste of summer! We visited two recreation areas this weekend and brought our total parks for the year up to 16 (out of 41).

A few of the state parks are recreation areas. These are typically around lakes. If you picture a park, it’s mostly land, maybe with a river winding through it. The recreation areas are the opposite – they are large water areas with land around the edges. They offer recreation like swimming, fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, and trails for bikes, horses, or walking. They have many access points, spread out over quite a distance.

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Bartos family, Food, Squicciarini family

keto-friendly burger bar

It was my turn to host mom’s birthday this year (we rotate around) and we came up with a fun burger menu. I’m posting it here to remember all these ideas! My parents follow the ketogenic regimen, which is a high-fat, adequate-protein, very low-carbohydrate diet. I’m still learning how it all works, but this menu was definitely a crowd-pleaser.

  • Appetizers / chips & guacamole
    Whole Foods just started carrying these grain-free chips made by Siete Family Foods. We tested the sea salt flavor and loved them!
  • Burgers / beef (look for grass-fed organic)
    We have a burger press that makes it quick and easy to form perfectly round patties. For the birthday party we made a bunch of 1/3lb burgers using kosher ground beef from Trader Joe’s.
  • Hamburger buns / almond flour recipe from Maria Emmerich
    My mom uses this bread recipe to create a fantastic keto-friendly bun. She divides the dough into buns and adds minced onion + dill to give it a savory flavor. 
  • Condiments / ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, avocado
    Watch out for sugar in your condiments! Look for a low-sugar ketchup and sugar-free pickles. We didn’t use cheese because we separate beef and dairy, but otherwise it would have been fine. 
  • Sides / green beans, salad, & french fries
    We served green beans but roasted asparagus or broccoli would also be great low-carb sides! For the salad, stick to veggies like spinach, kale, and cucumber. The fries were definitely not keto-friendly but very kid-friendly! I added them to our menu for the potato-lovers (ahem, Greg). 
  • Beverages
    Skip the beer (too many carbs) and go with a red wine. 
  • Birthday cake / recipe from Tasty Yummies
    This is a paleo cake, minimally sweetened and grain-free. Personally I like natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar) better than stevia, so this cake was a good compromise. It was just as delicious as it looks! However, I couldn’t find the Spectrum palm shortening and ended up swapping in a different frosting since I was afraid of ruining the one Beth uses. I definitely want to try hers the next time I need a dairy-free chocolate ganache!