Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bumbling Through Domesticity (and Domestic Help?)

I made the mistake a couple nights ago of visiting a self-help website about how to make and achieve goals, forgetting that it is intended for normal people who aren't full of hormones, inarticulable fears, feeling like a blimp full of monkeys with an inability to bend over to even reach my knees.

Somewhere between the "write out your goals for the next 90 days" and "what one word pops into your mind to describe yourself?" I found myself in tears. (Bedraggled? Terrified? Irrational?)

I talked to my Mom on the phone later and she attempted to reassure me. "It's the second baby that hits you," she said."The first one is like 'I got a pet baby!!' and the second one really makes you a parent."

Good to know.

The problems are several-fold. I constantly contradict and reprimand myself. I go from feeling like I don't have any help to feeling like there are too many people around getting in my business. I go from panicking about my lack of planning for next several months to the realization that there are too many unknowns to plan for. I go from waking up ready to accomplish great things to needing a nap after just walking to the kitchen for my breakfast.

The main issue that bothers me is this: MEN.

Let me explain. Generally speaking, I like men. Prefer them, even. However, in this situation they've doomed me.

First, there's the inevitable father tangle. My Dad was both a present and an active part of my childhood and beyond. One could say he loomed large (and not only because he's tall enough to play professional basketball). He was a...let's say...toughening influence on my life. There was no prissiness tolerated in our house, and while I was raised in a decidedly conservative environment, there was little distinction made for gender differences when it came to personal interaction, manual labor and discipline. During particularly difficult phases of my life, I have vivid memories of my father taking me aside, clearing his throat, and giving me speech along the following lines:

"Remember L, that you are very smart and very capable, and you come from a long line of tough, smart, capable women. Your female ancestors didn't need feminism to liberate them. Your great grandmother studied math in college before women went to college, and she earned a reputation as a glutton from her dates who didn't realize that she was so poor that when they took her out it was sometimes the only food she'd eaten that day. Another of your great grandmothers raised four children and ran a rice farm, including care of a large number of dependent laborers, by herself after her husband died. Women you are descended from were on the frontier of this country, working side by side with the men to establish homesteads, birthing children in the wilderness and chasing down smoke-house thieves on horseback, so that they could reclaim their stolen food (and use the horsewhip on the thief to boot). With that kind of blood in your veins, and with your talents you can accomplish anything."

No pressure.

Secondly, there's my darling husband, P. He's a horse of a different color.

I get morning tea in bed on a regular basis. It upsets him that I don't get more pedicures, massages and spa days. I get asked, "Baby are you ok?" about eleventy thousand times a day, because he really wants to know how I'm feeling. His answer to my overwhelmth is a speech along the following lines:

"Why don't you hire a nanny housekeeper?"

Because, P.    Because.

1. I'm cheap.
2. The idea of having a new person (female) in my house and in my business who looks to me as their boss is stress inducing, on top of all the stress I have about how I need more help. (Nobody said these reasons have to be rational).
3. What about the long line of tough, capable women? What about the labor pains in the back of a Conestoga wagon that can't stop because there are Indians circling and we have to make it to the mountains because the snow hits!? WHAT ABOUT THE FRONTIER!?

Then again...

I was talking to my brother, and he gave me a slightly different perspective. One most accurately categorized as "don't be retarded".

"Look," he said. "Do you think those women did that because they wanted to? Like, they woke up one day and said 'I know! Honey! Let's go west. I think it would be FUN to risk my life for a measly piece of  grassy plain.' No. They're up in heaven now, clapping and cheering every time P tells you to hire someone. That's what they did it for -- so you could have a better life. Plus, who knows, you might find Mary Poppins and she's not annoying and doesn't need anyone to boss her around."

But, I'm still cheap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Little Advice, or, How to Make a Round Crib Sheet

Greetings Bloglings,

It's been a while, but today I'm offering a throwback to the original intent of my blog, which is to offer some advice on how to bumble through domesticity. The first rule of bumbling is: be cheap. To that end, I present:


I realize this is a rather specific thing to be showing, but I couldn't find any special instructions online so perhaps I've found a niche.

So step one, obviously, is to locate the necessity of a round crib sheet. I found mine by way of a) getting pregnant and b)finding an awesome round crib at a local flea market for $125, thereby fulfilling the first rule of bumbling.

Step 2: Gather materials.

  • mattress that needs sheeting
  • 2 yards of cute, soft fabric for sheet
  • thread of appropriate color
  • pencil
  • about a yard of elastic
Step 3: Spread the fabric out and put the mattress on top toward one end. Enlist help if needed.

Step 4: Trace around the mattress with a pencil, making sure you leave about an inch of space extra for seam allowance.

Step 5: Move the mattress and cut out your circle of fabric.

Step 6: Measure the circumference of your mattress. This is easier said than done in my house, as my helpful toddler squirreled away all the measuring tapes sometime last week and they've yet to resurface. I just McGyvered it and used a long piece of ribbon.

Step 7: You're going to cut strips of fabric from that, when sewn together, will total the circumference of your mattress. So, in my case, (a 42" mattress), that meant three strips. Again, I had problems measuring, so I just divided my remaining fabric into thirds (hot dog style) and cut along those lines. They ended up being about 10" wide, I'm guessing. That's more than enough to encase a 4" deep mattress and allow for the elastic casing.

Step 8: Sew the strips together to make one long strip. Make sure the cute ("right", top or outside) sides of the fabric are touching (facing) each other so that when you open the fabric after sewing it you have matching patterns.

Step 9: Pin the long strip to the circle you cut out earlier, again, making sure cute sides are together.

Step 10: Starting about an inch or two away from the beginning of the strip, sew around the edge to attach the long strip. Stop an inch or two away from the end. This will leave the two ends of the strip unattached. That way, when you reach the end, you can attach them to each other and then finish up attaching it to the circle.

*dislaimer* I know Step 10 is a little wonky, but I have my reasons: because I'm not great at measuring, sometimes the strip comes out a bit long or a bit short, in which case giving yourself leeway is essential. When you reach the end of your strip you can determine for yourself if you need to trim off excess length or add on additional.

Step 11:  Turn the sheet right side out and double check it fits your mattress. It's pretty much done at this point, you just need to put in the elastic to keep in it place.

Step 12: Hem the raw edge of the sheet, I did mine about a 1/4"

Step 13: Pin the hemmed edge under again to create the casing. I did mine about 1" because I wasn't sure what elastic I was going to use and I wanted plenty of room. Sew the casing, remembering to leave a little bit open so you can get your elastic in there.

Step 14: Figure out how much elastic you need by getting hold of some elastic and seeing how short it can be while still comfortably fitting around the circumference of your mattress. This will vary with different elastics. Just hold on to one end of the elastic and pretend your putting on a fitted sheet with the rest. You want it snug but not impossible.

Step 15: Use one safety pin to anchor one end of the elastic to the casing opening. Use another attached to the free end of the elastic to make it easier to thread through the casing. After you've threaded the elastic all the way through, sew the elastic ends together and close the casing.