Category Archives: Babes Around the Beltway

Today’s Topic: Summer Hair & Express Blowout Give Away

Spring 2011-iphone 134

We are mid-way through this brutal summer and if you are anything like me, you have crazy lion hair in the DC humidity, so in the spirit of “I am moving so you need to bear with me and accept re-posts of old posts” – today I am reminding you of this totally amazing post from last summer – complete with tips from one of DC’s best hair stylists, Denise Sharpe (and full disclosure, my hairstylist), including lessons with a flat iron and a chance to win an Express Blowout with Denise’s trained protege, Paula, or get a discount with Denise for an Express Blowout just because you love moi and you read this post. So read on, kittens.

If life’s lessons begin and end with an episode of Sesame Street , then I’m pretty sure this video wraps up how I don’t feel every summer about my hair, but really want too. In my head, on the beach or by the pool, I look like a sexy summer goddess.

Exhibit A:

Isn't this how you look at the pool?

In reality, well, quite the opposite.

Realizing I couldn’t face another summer of bad hair, I sought out some advice from my beloved hair stylist, Denise, of Denise Sharpe Hair, located in Bethesda. Denise has been a stylist for over 20 years and is also a mom to 3-year-old twin girls. So like us, she’s busy but stylish. Read on for invaluable hair and time-saving tips.

First, let’s talk about hair cut and color trends for the summer. Tell us what styles are popular right now, what looks will keep us from having bad mom hair, and what the color trends are hot for the spring and summer?

For the classic mom, a soft and side swept graduated bob is very popular, with some choppy layers to emphasize the texture of her cut. For the trendier mom, I’m doing more fringe and heavier bangs . The inception of Keratin Complex Treatments is making this style more accessible to women with wavy and frizzy hair because now they can have the fringe and the sleek bangs without the risk of too much frizz and curl. For the funkier mom, the glunge look is more popular.

Glunge? Do tell, I’ve never heard of it. Are we talking hair bands? Brett Michaels meets Kirk Cobain?

Yes! Glunge is the marriage of glamour and grunge. 80s hair band meeting 90s grunge band is spot on, but let’s think of attractive females as our visuals here, not unkempt dudes. Think Drew Barrymore meets JLo, so a loose messy tousle and this style hides kid puke and yogurt stains pretty well. Often this hair style looks unwashed, though it usually isn’t, with the help of synthetic products like pomade and dry shampoo .

So what about color trends for this time of year?

Michelle Williams’ icy blond look is very popular for blondes but it is high maintenance. It requires color about every 3-4 weeks. For red heads or brunettes, Drew Barrymore’s “St. Tropez” highlights work well for the summer. In that look, her scalp is a richer color and the ends are lighter. Also for red heads or brunettes, Kim Kardashian’s “Root Beer Float” highlights are very trendy, meaning she accents her rich dark brown color with warm reds. What’s important is to use a sulfate free shampoo on any of these treatments for maintenance.

Excellent. So moving on to the inevitable bad-hair day or when we are short on time, what is a busy gal to do?

Dry shampoo is the first thing I reach for on a day when I don’t have time to shower or wake up with bad hair. It helps revive the blowout from the day before, and I’d like to point out that it’s best for your hair if you don’t wash it every day.  Another quick fix is grabbing your child’s leave-in detangler. If you have longer hair, a side-swept braid is a good way to mask unwashed hair. A cost-effective way to clean up unwashed hair is using corn starch or baby powder. Think Julia Child and just grab a pinch of it, and you will notice how it absorbs oils and then use a wide tooth comb or paddle brush to brush your hair through. And finally, there’s always our friend the flat iron. The flat iron is perfect for working through random bed-head fly aways but also helps your hair not look so contrived; you can keep it loose and playful with the flat iron.

I’m glad you raise the issue of the flat iron. I routinely bow to the Gods who invented the flat iron. But how do I know I have the right flat iron for my hair? And are all flat irons created equal, do I really have to spend a mint because I bought mine at Target for $19.99.

What makes or breaks a good flat iron is really the edges. You want beveled edges, which means rounded, for smooth styling. If you hair is short or medium length, the beveled edges should be about an inch thick with a thin plate inside. You are looking for a square plate for hair that is longer than shoulder length. For blondes with the flat iron, keep it at the 350 temperature because blondes have delicate hair. Brunettes and natural red heads should put the flat iron temperature at 400-450 degrees. Remember that “slow and steady” wins the race with a flat iron. If you race through it at too high of a heat, you might have to repeat the process. And yes, you can purchase an inexpensive flat iron at Target or the grocery store, but it might need to be replaced in a few months whereas a more expensive one will last longer.

So what should we all have in our hair survivor kits or purses?

Depending on your hair style and length, you should pick from any or all of these 10 tips: non-elastic scrunchies like Goodie brand from the pharmacy aisle, non-butterfly flat clips for drying hair or styling hair, Bobby Pins complimentary to your hair color or hair pins to loosely pin back pieces, Rat Tail comb for sectioning or combing fringe, a thermal round brush for volume and flip, a diffuser to embrace your natural texture or curl, a blow dryer with a nozzle, pin curl clips for side swept bangs or to train new growing-in bangs to sweep over between haircuts, dry shampoo and a restylizer such as Wen lavender replenishing mist , Catwalk Curls Rock Curl Booster , “It’s a 10” miracle leave-in or Arrojo Hydromist .

Now tell me how I can possibly not have lion hair all summer long. I’ve tried every product under the sun; I spend gobs on product every summer trying to beat back the inevitable frizz and chaos that comes with DC humidity and I can flat iron to no avail, the minute I walk outside, I look like I’m wired for sound (perhaps the real reason I’m called Wired Momma…)

There are two things you can do, the Express Blowout or the Keratin Smoothing Treatment. The Express Blowout takes just under an hour, lasts for 4-5 weeks and costs between $99-$150 depending on the length of your hair. You do not need to use certain products after you get the Express Blowout, you just can’t wash your hair for 8 hours after. Some women wait a few days to wash their hair because they believe it makes the treatment last longer. But this is how you beat the humidity and keep your hair looking sleek in the summer. It’s really a perfect solution for the busy mom; you spend less time managing your hair and less money because you don’t need all the product. If you’d like a treatment that lasts longer, the Keratin Smoothing Treatment lasts 3-5 months, takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on the length and density of your hair, and costs between $350-$500. For both of these treatments, you can get color at the same time.  One client told me that her hair was having an identity crisis after the Express Blowout because it really did stay smooth and sleek despite weather conditions. Look, why not have sleek hair and bodies all summer long, right?

Can pregnant or nursing moms use this treatment?

No. For pregnant or nursing moms or women who are environmentally conscious, we can do the Research in Beauty treatment. It is a keratin gold retexturizing treatment, free of formaldehyde and aldehydes. It lasts about 2-3 months and costs between $350-$500.

Update from Monica:

As soon as I heard about the Express Blowout, I was willing to kick an old lady down to get to the salon fast enough to try out this treatment. I had it done, waited about 12 hours to wash my hair and never believed it would work. Almost five weeks have passed and it is defying all the odds, my entire family is wondering where their mocking hair jokes have gone for the summer because I am still looking sleek and stylish – this after runs in the humidity, hours on the beach, even just walking outside. It is a summer miracle.  Also, I’ve not used any product or the flat iron because I haven’t needed too. Am I breaking up with my flat iron for the summer? I am ready to now sing “I love my hair”.


Denise is offering 25% off to all Wired Momma readers who want to try the Express Blowout. All readers are eligible for the discount, just  mention this post to Denise when you go for your treatment. One lucky winner is going to win an Express Blowout with Denise’s protege, Paula. Entering to win is two-part: first head to the Wired Momma Facebook page, hit “Like” and either Like or comment in my post….then part two:  head over to the Denise Sharpe Hair Facebook page and hit “Like.”  The one lucky winner will be announced on Saturday July 21 on Facebook and the give-away winner can only redeem her Express Blowout on a Monday between 10-4 or  a Thursday between 11-7pm. Don’t forget, for everyone else, just mention this article to Denise to earn your 25% discount on the Express Blowout! Follow Denise on Twitter @sharpedenise for easy access to great haircare tips!

Happy summer . . . love your hair. . .

Godzilla meets the Lion Tamer…an epic tale of surviving summer break

In prep for schools letting out in the next two weeks….I offer you a retro WM post….my piece to mark the beginning of summer break last year and a retrospective on surviving previous summers….it covers kids of a variety ages so you probably will find something for yourself in here and I also get to my fav summer accessories:


This week marks the end of school. The beginning of summer. What better way to kick it off than with a walk down memory lane?

First Summer Home with 2 kids: Sink or Swim?

My baby morphed into Godzilla that first summer....

Spoiler Alert! I sank. I didn’t even have a chance. I was drowning, I was gasping for air, I hated that summer. DD1 was 3.5 and horrible. DD2 was 6 months old and suddenly gained her mobility and morphed from sweet drooling baby into Godzilla, a super human creature who’s only purpose in life was to mercilessly terrorize every Little People village her sister had carefully arranged, chew on each book her sister wanted to read and destroy any block tower that might have just been assembled. It was war. I lost every battle.  And to boot, one of life’s great unsolved mysteries emerged: exactly how does a 6 month old crawl so quickly and why are they magnets for elder sibling’s toys? So I headed into the next summer with a whole new plan, armed with tactics, prepared to win and enjoy the summer. This battle worn soldier couldn’t lose again.


Summer 2 home with the kids: Life vest

Spoiler Alert: my life vest mocked me. All summer long.

This time I boarded the ship prepared. My life jacket purchased in the form of 4 beautiful words: CAMP. Lots and lots of CAMP. But see, what I failed to anticipate was that much changes in one year of the lives of these little people. My wounds were still open and fresh but the children had moved on. How could I fail to realize that Godzilla can’t really survive for one year with an older sibling? Think of the eldest like a lion tamer: breaking the beast, taming the savage soul and maybe assaulting them a few times. Godzilla morphs into a different kind of species when she is 18 months old. True, a child

Can anyone else relate?

headed straight for the 2s is still part-human, part-beast but at least they have more control over their motor skills when lingering around block towers. And the eldest is more adept at handling younger sibling assault on their world. Another lesson for me:  3.5 year olds don’t stay that miserable argumentative nasty way forever and as it turns out, at least chez moi, 4.5 year olds are fun and fabulous companions. So there I had shipped her off to various weekly camps only for me and DD2 to look at each other, and wonder where our playmate was, especially DD2. I had naively shipped off the companion who kept the 18 month old entertained, busy and tired her out for naps. I PAID to send away our buddy. What the? My life vest deflated. I was beat again. When will I not suck at anticipating how to manage for a great summer home?


Summer 3 home with the kids: Lifeguard

And so begins summer 3 home with the kids. We’re off to a good start, we are miraculously diaper free chez moi, they are now 2.5 and 5.5 (have you seen the new spring in my step as I bypass the diaper aisle at Target with an extra $20 to blow on something dumb?) and after my steep learning curves the past two summers, dare I say I am heading into this summer with an all new plan: the pool. We are super camp light and planning on lots of pool time. But will I fail to anticipate again? So far, I have a huge ding against me because DH is headed off to a new job that puts him in San Fran 4 days of every week through the summer. I wasn’t counting on that when I signed them up for basically no camps this summer . . .Will I sink or swim this year? Stay tuned, you know you’ll be hearing about it.


Until then, let’s cover what accessories  a gal needs to survive the summer.

The first is the appropriate pool or beach bag and that bag is the Scout bag. This bag changed my pool/beach experience because it’s stylish and has 6 pockets around the outside of the bag. Never has it been so easy to store sunglasses, iPhone, camera, sun block, kid’s trash,  snacks, water bottles and actually FIND these things with ease. Naturally the bag was created by a local DC mother who has 4 kids, so it’s no wonder it’s a miracle worker.

Speaking of miracle workers, what I need is the right swimsuit. I tend to go for halters but is this really a good idea when children are climbing all over you and creating multiple chances for a wardrobe malfunction on any given day? My youngest likes to shove her pool toys down the suit as if it’s her own personal pocket.  Does style need to be compromised in favor of practicality? Have you found the perfect swimsuit that is stylish but functional? I’m desperate here, friends. Speak up. Links encouraged.

And my final summer survival necessity for those of you who are beach bound but don’t live steps from the beach: the Wonder Wheeler Deluxe (WWD). The minivan of beach carts, this thing screams dork, flashes parenthood in bright lights, earns you mockery from teens for being  lame, but when a beach trip heads south (and really, how often do they not), you can toss all your gear and chairs and umbrellas into this thing (and sometimes I think a few kids) and clear the beach in record time.

So with that, what are your plans for summer survival? And did you find a great suit? Let me know.

For more fun, survival tips and accessories gossip…..”Like” the WM community FB page.

Summer Travel Tips…”Vacation with Kids”

As part of the Wired Momma series featuring local DC mom experts, today’s topic is travel, as we stare down the July 4th holiday. We all can agree that traveling with kids, especially young ones, rarely qualifies as vacation. Often I’ve thought of it as “vacation.” Usually I have an entire staging area that consumes most of my bedroom, as I plan and organize for weeks leading up  to the trip (do I maybe have a problem?). Today’s expert is the lovely Elizabeth Thorp, founder of Bethesda-based Poshbrood and mom to three girls. She’s here to offer us some invaluable tips on surviving summer vacation and give us some great ideas where to go, or where to have a “staycation” right here in DC.

Eizabeth has traveled extensively with her brood and is a lifestyle and travel writer for Momlogic and Huffington Post among other publications. Her company, Proshbrood, evolved out of her own frustration with a lack of resources to find non-Disney vacations. Being so well-traveled, she was already armed with a large dossier of current hotel reviews and with the urging of many friends who relied on her advice and reviews before traveling with their broods,  Thorp decided to start her own site. Ultimately, Thorp realized that the best family properties are recommended by other moms and the bulk of family travel is planned by moms, women who are already grossly short on time. Poshbrood’s site caters to the time limitations of busy moms, her site is intuitive, clearly broken down by type of destination you are seeking, and she doesn’t waste your time with unwanted ads or pop-ups.

What services do you provide for families?

We’ve found that people easily spend hours online searching for hotels, exotic destinations, and kid-friendly resorts. Our site offers Poshbrood-tested and approved reviews of hotels, resorts, and villas with the discerning eye of a mom who likes style and luxury, even with the tykes in tow. Our reviews are snarky, irreverent, funny and honest. Did a kid puke all over the lobby of the Four Seasons? If so, we’ll tell you what matters most to parents: how the hotel staff responds. We also have experts in other countries and can access insider tips on kid-friendly activities and hot new attractions. Additionally, Poshbrood recently partnered with SmartTravel , a New York City based travel agency. Not only can we book your travel arrangements for free, from wheels up to car seat and car rentals, we can also secure discounts, complimentary upgrades and other perks, like early check-in, the panacea of travel perks for those traveling with babies or toddlers on nap schedules.

What is a hot tip for a nice family vacation, departing from the DC area?

DC notables like Claire Shipman and David Gregory travel to Round Hill in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with their families. You can travel to Montego Bay direct from BWI on AirTran. And what people don’t realize is, luxury is accessible, just not always during peak season. The villas in Round Hill, during low-season (beginning April 15) are affordable. If you share a four-bedroom house with another family and you have a full kitchen, it’s an affordable, but still luxurious, vacation. And the best part, no matter how many kids you have in tow, you can hire a trustworthy nanny for $10 an hour to watch the kids and enjoy some adult time.

The economy is still dragging, gas prices are soaring, so for families who are looking to stay close to home, what are your top “staycation” tips for DC area families?

One resort that many people don’t think about is the Omni Bedford Springs in Pennsylvania. Located about two hours from DC, the resort is newly remodeled, surprisingly affordable, the food impeccable and the service is on par with the Homestead or Greenbrier. The other place that surprised

The Thorp Poshbrood at Hotel Hershey

and delighted us was the Hotel Hershey:  the rooms have just been redone, the staff extremely friendly and the onsite activities plentiful. Even if the park is closed, there is so much to do. If you want a true “staycation” in DC, then I’d suggest booking a room in the kid-friendly Kimpton Hotels, either the Helix or the Palomar  . The rates are reasonable, they offer a free wine and champagne hour every day, free coffee, and bunk-bed suites for kids complete with a curtained bedroom area to give the parents some privacy.

As a seasoned traveler with three girls, what are your top tips for traveling with kids?
First I’d say that kids are like horses, they can smell fear. If you are anxious going into the trip, they are going to feed off your anxiety. So relax and head into it prepared. Always pack a ton of snacks, especially because you never know when or if the airline will offer any snacks, and a hungry kid is a cranky kid.

Second, unless you are Amish, pack electronics for entertainment. And as I’ve learned the hard-way, don’t leave husbands in charge of AV because they are likely to forget to charge the electronic devices, and then everyone’s angry.

Third, don’t forget about trains. Kids love trains and we so easily overlook them as a traveling option. My family lives in the Chicago-area and we’ll take the overnight train to Chicago over Thanksgiving. We avoid crowds and bad weather, the train leaves Union Station at 4pm and arrives in Chicago at 8am the next day. It’s really a fun experience for the whole family.

Update from Monica:

Continuing with the “staycation” theme, I recently heard from the Lorien Hotel in Alexandria, another local Kimpton property, that they are offering a special “Kids Camp Out” special. The hotel will provide tents and sleeping bags and the kids can camp out on the hotel terraces while the parents can enjoy some time to themselves in their rooms. The hotel is offering a special kids camping room service menu, including hot dogs, popcorn, s’mores and more. Use the code PCAMP if booking this special.

And I also recently learned that the Omni Bedford Springs in Pennsylvania is offering a similar form of luxurious camping (which frankly is my idea of camping). Billed as the “Family Glamping Get-Away” and available through Labor Day, the deal is good for a family of four and includes two hours of activities like fishing, a S’mores kit, but still the comforts of a luxurious room to sleep in. Again…my idea of camping.

Thanks to Elizabeth for giving us some great tips and be sure to sign up for Poshbrood’s free weekly newsletter for tips on smart family travel from this local mom and expert.

Confessions of a Stroller Addict

Almost six years and four international partners later, I am still seeking my perfect match. Each exotic and foreign mate has been cast aside, kicked to the curb, collecting dust in my house. Is it me? Or is it them?

Clearly my addiction is out of control

Let’s face it, I am a stroller whore. I own four. And yet that’s not enough. With my wandering eye, I stare down other people’s strollers on the street, I study them, and I covet them. Would they want to trade, I wonder, as I’m willing to kick my stroller to the curb on a whim. Like old boyfriends, each of my strollers serves a specific purpose but not one is the perfect match. Is it really ever me? Isn’t it always them?

The Reliable, Loyal Boyfriend

I have a bulky and heavy red Peg Perego, complete with a bassinet which folds perfectly flat and is wonderful for a fussy newborn.  Initially this stroller gave me hours of peace, as the only way my first-born would settle into a nap in those early months was propped on her side, in the stroller. We mind-numbingly walked the streets of my neighborhood for hours. As I slept-walked through life, this stroller was a constant for me. But as baby grew, and I gained the confidence to travel beyond walking distance from home with her, the stroller became too cumbersome to travel with; he got cast aside. My needs were changing and well, he couldn’t adapt. Ciao, Italian.

The Thin, Nimble Metro sexual

Next came the Maclaren umbrella stroller; the metro sexual of strollers. This one was ideal for my sturdier baby, and perfect for chic on-the-go urban escapades or quick maneuvering through bustling airports. Naively thinking it would be my final stroller, I kept waiting for my child to cross that threshold into a walking kid but five years in, she still rides when she can. Ultimately, this metro sexual expired in its usefulness because I was having my second baby and he came prepared only for travel for one. Cheerio, Union Jack.

The Attractive but Unreliable Boyfriend

With the arrival of our second child and the non-walking reliability of my eldest, clearly I needed a double stroller, except from the perspective of my frugal and practical husband. Who doesn’t need three strollers, I reasoned. Like a lion stalking its prey, I patiently waited through the first few winter months with my newborn, using only my original two strollers, waiting until she was sturdy enough to sit up, to pounce on the double stroller idea. I knew the real victim here was my husband (and our bank account), not my strewn-aside, dust-collecting old strollers.  I had to wait until the need was clear to him to get my way. Plus, I wasn’t stalking just any prey. I didn’t want the bulky, hard-to-fold double wide of strollers. My needs were now more sophisticated, discerning and specific with the growth of my family. I needed: agile, compact, and adaptable to fit my hectic life. With two kids, suddenly I didn’t have the luxury to stroll the streets because older children have to go places; school, ballet class, playdates, birthday parties. Along with functionality, I needed style, of course. With the first early warm spring day came my opportunity to pounce, posed as an innocent question: Precisely how we were going to walk them both the park?  Despite my months of stalking other moms walking double strollers, sizing up their choices and weighing them against my needs, clearly the first time this truly occurred to my husband was on that warm day. How shocking . . .

 Off we went to Buy Buy Baby, me realizing the entire time that I was going to come home with the Peg Perego double stroller , back to my first Italian love. Anyone could have read my husband’s mind in the store as he painfully added up the collective price of our three strollers. And in that moment, our eyes locked and we both knew this wasn’t the end. There would be more. I always had a reason. I always found a flaw. Like a true addict, however, I delivered a convincing soliloquy on how this was my last stroller. My insatiable thirst was quenched, my wandering eye was retired, no more children, no more strollers, we were done.  In my lust for a non-Semi-sized double stroller, what I failed to anticipate was that the ever-growing weight of my two children, bearing down on the small, nimble wheels of the lightweight Peg Perego, would ultimately render the stroller useless on long walks. It was like pushing an elephant up a sand dune. Arrividerci, Italian lover . . .

The Meathead Boyfriend

So, I caved. I had to get a bulkier, bigger-wheeled double stroller. I justified it by making it my first purchase off Craig’s List. Staying true to my commitment of avoiding the double-wide, I went for the native to Australia – Valco baby single with toddler attachment – the size of a single with the functionality of a double.  With Crocodile Dundee at the helm, I was paying for his strength and his off-roading wheel durability to ease the weight of my girls as I pushed them effortlessly through the streets. But like all the others, the meathead still isn’t perfect: He’s smart enough to carry them easily but dumb enough to always get his wheels twisted up and turn in only one direction. G’day mate.

Perhaps it’s trying to transport two children peacefully and without drama that is the crux of my problem now, more than the stroller.  Maybe it’s about them, not me, or him.

Sadly, my quest for the perfect stroller mate is still unrealized.  So now I cruise around with a red wagon, a good old American classic.

Is it a conspiracy among stroller manufacturers to keep us purchasing? Have they really not figured out the perfect, most amazing stroller? Maybe it is them . . .