achievement unlocked: diaper laundry bag

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yet another not-exactly-thrilling sewing project. i was not into sewing before ramona was born. if i had been, i probably would have gone nuts sewing her little outfits & making all her cloth diapers myself. but instead, we bought all that. my friend amanda gifted us a big waterproof drawstring laundry bag. it came in handy because diaper laundry can really smell (shocker), & cinching the drawstring tight contains the reek.

but two years of constant use was too much for the drawstring, & one day it just kind of disintegrated. jared tried to rethread it, but some key drawstring hardware component had disappeared, so it didn’t work. we tried just tying it shut, but obviously that was a giant pain in the ass. no one wants to have to tie a damn sailor’s hitch ten times a day when they’re not even on a boat, especially if they have poop on their hands. (it happens.)

i had been thinking for a while that a bag with a zipper would be a lot more sensible. it would be easier to use & it would contain the smell better. i added it to my ever-growing list of sewing projects, but you know. there’s a lot of stuff on that list. making a zippered laundry bag wasn’t exactly rocketing to the top of the list of things i was super-stoked to sew.

but when the bag we had self-destructed, i had to act fast. a toddler doesn’t hold its poop just because there’s nowhere to put it. i cut a length of viewfinder print fabric (in the pink colorway, which, upon reflection, is my least favorite of the three colorways, & therefore ideal for containing gross laundry) to the same size as the existing laundry bag, sandwiched a zipper between the fabric & the waterproof bag opening (because only the drawstring surrendered–the body of the bag is fine, & this way we still have leakage/smell containment), & sewed. then i sewed up the seams on the fabric, topstitched around the zipper, & done. really, the hardest/most time-consuming part was pressing the fabric & figuring out the proper dimensions for cutting it.

as soon as i was done, i took my temperature & it was 102 degrees. so that was the start of the pneumonia, & i think the explanation for why i was having such a hard time figuring out what size to cut a damn rectangle of fabric. this would have been a much faster, easier project had i been fully healthy & in command of my faculties.

oh, i also made a little loop from webbing covered in fabric, which i stitched to the outside of the bag. this is to loop the bag over the door handle. i don’t know why we do that. i guess just to keep the laundry bag in one place? i did break a needle sewing a box to secure the loop. which is crazy because i’ve sewn webbing twice that thick with no problems. maybe i was using a heavier needle? i did this one with just a universal needle.

we’ve been using the new bag for a couple of weeks now & i love it. it’s nicer to look at than the plain baby blue bag we had before, the zipper is way faster & easier to use than the drawstring, & it’s just pleasing to look around the house & see so many things i’ve made myself. it was also nice to whip up a quick project without having to buy any new supplies. the webbing was left over from a bag i made, the zipper was originally for a dress that wound up with an invisible zipper instead, & the fabric was just a length i had purchased with no specific purpose in mind.

in other news, has anyone reading this ever read any of the “scraptherapy” books? i think there are two. i read one the other day. the idea is that you cut up all your little scraps (quilting cotton, specifically, which is something i have a lot of) into three different sizes so they are all trimmed & ready to roll for scrap projects.

i’m thinking about trying it, but i’m nervous because i do a lot more with fabric than just quilting. i use scraps for muslins, piping, pocket linings, bindings, bias tape, paper-piecing projects, fussy cutting…i’m worried that cutting it all into a few pre-determined sizes will foreclose on some of what i do with my scraps, but i can’t deny that the idea of neatly trimmed & organized squares appeals to me much more than the crumpled mess of bits & bobs currently residing in my quilting cottons bin. i’m trying to figure out the smartest way to proceed. i’m thinking about going ahead & fussy cutting the fabric i specifically bought for fussy cutting, cutting the rest into a few pre-determined sizes, & making piping & bias tape from the little bits left over. & of course, leaving bigger pieces for muslins & pockets.

of course, it’s nice to fantasize about being so organized. who knows if it will ever come to pass. i’m exhausted right now because i think ramona is getting her two-year molars. she’s been chewing on her crib railing (i should probably make a cover for it) to the point that it honestly looks like it’s been attacked by beavers. last night she kept me up for FOUR HOURS singing & reciting her books. she seemed cheerful enough, but she just wouldn’t go to sleep. we were up from 1:30am until 5:30am. i wanted to cry. & also sleep.

& she just came in & threw herself down on the ground in tears because i was not reading a mo willems book to her. so i guess i will go tend to her with the knowledge that lunchtime & then blessed, wonderful NAPTIME are happening within the hour…

achievement unlocked: sewing bench cover

my new sewing cabinet came with a lovely matching bench with a lid that lifts off to provide extra storage. the problem is that it‘s way ugly.

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not only is the color hideous, but it also has a weird plasticky feel. i have no idea what it‘s made from. in any case, i knew i was going to cover it, & i decided to make some hexagons from various scrap fabrics, just to see how i felt about sewing hexagons.

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much better! i guess this photo makes it look pretty loud, but it‘s such a small piece of furniture, i really feel it just brightens things up rather than overwhelming the eye.

i already wrote a lot about the construction in my last post…such as it is, anyway. i mean, i just sewed a bunch of hexagons together, gave it a pretty basic hem, & stapled it to the underside of the bench with a staple gun. i bought the staple gun this morning, which involved taking ramona to the hardware store. that was fun. nothing like taking your two-year-old to a giant dusty building full of loose nails & saws. (our local hardware store is over one hundred years old, & really looks it.) there was also a dog there for some reason. it was giant & elderly, but ramona was all, “puppy! i want to pet the puppy!” luckily, it was also pretty friendly.

now that i have a staple gun, i can also get moving on the giant pressing board. for a minute, i thought about piecing hexagons to make the cover for that too, but…nope. i really want the pressing board to be a quick & easy project, & piecing hexagons is a real time commitment. i’m still daydreaming about making a grandmother’s flower garden quilt, but it would have to be something i work on gradually, with the hope of maybe finishing it in 2016. if i’m lucky.

i thought about starting a new sewing project today…i’ve had a dress pattern & a few yards of catnap print fabric that a friend sent me for christmas sitting out, waiting to be cut, for weeks now. i’m just dragging my heels because i don’t want to make a muslin but i know i don’t really have a choice if i want to come away with a wearable garment. it‘s time for me to bite the bullet & learn how to do an FBA (full bust adjustment). i’ve just been fudging it because i’ve been scared to cut apart my pattern pieces, but…let‘s be real. there’s a seven-inch difference between my high bust measurement & my full bust measurement. (it might be worth mentioning that i lost twelve pounds while i had pneumonia. all my measurements except the full bust are smaller now. there probably wasn’t such a large discrepancy between high bust & full bust before.) once i master the FBA, i bet i will enjoy my self-made clothes a lot more.

but instead of sewing, i read “the new yorker” cover to cover while ramona napped. i was just tuckered out because we’re trying to get ramona into the idea of potty training, & that involves sitting next to her & reading her books for literally an hour at a time to convince her to sit on her potty. by the time she was asleep, i just needed to collapse for a while.

in other ramona news, today she sang her own version of the alphabet song: “A B C D E F G, H I J K elephant bat!” elephant bat instead of L M N O P! there was a weird genius to it.

& in a follow-up to the question of how we’re going to resolve the computer charger/iron issue…we actually already have an adapter with multiple outlets. my charger used to be plugged into that, but one time i moved the charger into the bedroom so i could watch netflix in bed, & then i was too lazy to plug it back into the adapter (which is stored inside one of those plastic boxes designed to hide all your unsightly cords & outlets, meaning there’s a whole lid that has to be taken off, etc etc….ugh, so much work!). so everyone that suggested that: you under-estimated our collective laziness. sorry!

goodbye, february

god, this month flew by. & i accomplished next to nothing, because i was sick literally ALL MONTH. i have recovered from my pneumonia, but i’m still not firing on all cylinders. i took ramona to toddler gym the other day, which is usually about a ten-minute walk from the house. this time, it took me twenty minutes, & i got less than a block away from the house before i was huffing & puffing & basically using the stroller as a walker. because i spent all month with fluid in my lungs! ugh.

i have mostly finished a new cover for my sewing stool, which i will blog once i get my mitts on a staple gun. i might have one in the basement? left over from my “posting weird anarchist street art in the middle of the night” days. but i can’t go look for it myself, because spiders. i know it’s wintertime, but kansas spiders are pretty tough. i don’t want to chance it, & i’ve been too lazy to ask jared to go look for me.

i decided to experiment with hexagons for the cover. i’ve never sewn hexagons before, & people kind of treat it like this sewing thing that is OMG so hard & intimidating. it did take me a little while to figure out how to cut out hexagons, but i figured it out before long. i was thinking about stitching them by hand, but i didn’t have the patience for it. i haven’t been sewing much lately & i really wanted to bask in the glow of a fast finish. i’ve read that you can sew hexagons by machine if you mark the stitching lines & mark the start & stop points, but…i didn’t have the patience for that either.

so i just eyeballed it. & guess what? it was pretty easy. i’m not going to sit here & pretend that it turned out flawlessly, but i think it came out very well for a first try. when i got about halfway through, i started daydreaming about making a grandmother’s flower garden quilt…& then i kept sewing & started to hate it. sewing hexagons is really tedious. you have to stitch every single seam individually & clip the threads & press the seam, blah blah blah…i mean, maybe there’s a faster, cheater way to do it. i was just kind of winging it, & i undoubtedly would have enjoyed the process more if i had steeled myself for taking my time. but my sewing bench is pretty small & i did not expect it to take me three days to sew enough hexagons together to make a new cover. (i used small hexagons.)

& i’ve done practically nothing else in the last few days. i’ve just been sewing hexies & hanging with ramona. & ramona has been in rare form lately. when we were at toddler gym, a slightly younger kid came over & tried to steal some of ramona’s crackers. i happen to be acquainted with this kid’s dad & i super-super-hate him. like, SO much. so it was kind of awkward because we had to interact when he came over to pry my daughter’s crackers out of his daughter’s hands, ugh. ramona was talking about it later, as she always does, exclaiming, “the baby touched ramona’s crackers!” i said, “yeah, that baby is a jerk,” which, for the record, i don’t really believe. i don’t know her, but she’s a baby, she can’t be that big a jerk! her dad is a total douchebag though.

anyway, ramona started saying, “that baby is a jerk. that baby is a jerk!” over & over. a friend came over to hang out with us & ramona said, “that baby is a jerk!” & my friend was like, “WHAT did she just say?” & i was like, “yeah. exactly what it sounded like. i’m a terrible parent.”

luckily, she hasn’t said it in a few days. she does still talk incessantly about the baby that dared to touch her crackers: just today, she said, “the baby touched ramona’s crackers & the baby was wearing a shirt with stars on it.” yes. accurate. weirdly accurate. but no more mentions of the baby being a jerk.

she’s also really into pretending that she is characters from her books or acting out scenarios from her books. jared got her this insane book about a garbage barge that apparently gets mixed up with the mafia & the poor garbage barge captain is turned away in every community where he tries to leave his garbage & then has to call his mafia contact, who is all, “i got a guy…”.

so yesterday ramona sat on my back while i was laying around in bed & announced, “i’m riding on mommy!” that’s fine, she does that all the time. then she added, “pretending i’m on the garbage barge!” harsh, dude.

she also really likes to stuff her ceramic hedgehog nightlight or her sippy cup down my shirt when i’m trying to get her down for a nap. i do not love it. that hedgehog can get pretty chilly. but it brings her so much joy, i’ve just stopped fighting it.

& here’s a dilemma jared & i are having: i like to charge my computer overnight so i can sit in the kitchen with it (unplugged, there’s no plug near my desk in the kitchen) during breakfast & read the “new york times” & stuff. i usually use it until the computer dies & then i go plug it in again. very often, jared gets up in the morning & irons himself a shirt for school. we use the same outlet for both the iron & my laptop. nine million times out of ten, he forgets to plug my charger back in after doing his ironing. then i plug my computer in to a charger that isn’t plugged in, & i don’t notice right away because i’m not the one who unplugged it, & therefore my computer does not recharge, & when i go to look at my computer again, it’s still dead.

we CANNOT come to a solution for this incredibly lame problem. i told him that we were going to have to go on “judge john hodgman” to settle it. his argument is that i should check to see if the charger is plugged in when i want to charge my computer. i say, he’s the one that unplugged it, he should make more of an effort to plug it back in! he says he always checks to make sure my charger is showing a green light, indicating a 100% charge, before unplugging it. however, all the green light indicates is that it is plugged in, not that my computer is fully charged. topping the whole thing off: 1) when i point out to jared that he again forgot to plug my charger back in (& seriously, it happened literally EVERYDAY last week, it’s not some unusual occurrence), he gets offended & insists that somehow it’s all my fault for…not checking to see if the charger is plugged in or something? but then how would i have known to bring it to his attention? & 2) when he’s home, he uses my charger. & if i’m sewing & i plug in the iron to press something & don’t plug the charger back in when i’m done, he gets so huffy. even though he does it to me EVERYDAY!

but it’s such a dumb problem. obviously we should just start using a different outlet for one or the other device. it would be slightly inconvenient, but not a huge problem. but at this point, we are both entrenched. clearly jared is wrong, but he will never admit it. never!

achievement unlocked: my new sewing area!

this is a little overdue, since i got sick pretty much two seconds after we finished, but: for valentine’s day, jared helped me finish up my sewing cabinet!

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i had a cuter photo, with ramona sitting on one of my fabric bins, but then i rearranged things to be a little more user-friendly & was not adorably photobombed when i took the new pictures.

i had been working on an eight-foot buffet table we found in the basement. i stored boxes of fabric underneath & kept my machines & boxes of notions & patterns on top, wherever i happened to find room. we have a small portable ironing board that was brought out as needed. i often found myself cutting fabric on the floor or the dining room table (neither of which are at a back-friendly height, obviously) because i didn’t have enough room on the table, with all the pattern pieces & notions & scraps & manuals all over the place.

exhibit A:

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it was so confusing to me that i never had enough space despite having a giant table at my disposal. & my sewing set-up was permanent. a lot of people work on their dining room tables & have to clear their projects away multiple times a day for meals.

i wanted a table in which i could recess my sewing machine & a cutting table of an appropriate height, & now i have them! let’s go on a little tour…

the cutting table is a solid wooden butcher block on locking casters, found at the antiques mall. it has a drawer, in which i have stored my patterns. (i’m contemplating better pattern storage solutions. right now they’re all just kind of loose in there. some are in an accordion file.)

i have a big space underneath, where i have stashed most of my fabric. i sorted through all my fabric one day around thanksgiving & organized everything according to type (bemberg, flannel, wool, lace, muslin, fleece, jersey, etc). then i organized all the quilting cotton by color & print. which took about one thousand years. actually it only took four or five hours, but the ENTIRE HOUSE was covered in little piles of fabric while i bundled like with like & sorted & stored. right now i have one big bin for quilting cottons, & one for apparel fabric. muslins, linings, & lace are in the blue suitcase, & various works-in-progress are in a cardboard box. the other cardboard box is nothing but viewfinder print fabric. i told you i bought a lot of it. it actually requires its own box!

there’s a little shelf on vhe side of the butcher block that is the perfect size for extra serger thread, my spray bottle, & the iron.

the table all the way to the right is just a random end table we had laying around. we used to use it to store board games, but had to stop once ramona got old enough to potentially open a board game box & eat a pair of dice. it was by the couch until we got ramona her own little table & chairs & put that next to the couch instead. it was next to my desk in the kitchen for a while, but we never really used it for anything except piling it with random clutter we were too lazy to immediately put away. i knew i needed some kind of elevated surface on which to put the white shelf, because i didn’t want to give up any real estate on the cutting table for it, & i couldn’t keep it on the floor because that’s just too tempting for toddler terrors. oh hey! how ’bout that really nice end table we don’t use? perfect!

the shelf itself holds all my storage reference books & drawers full of thread, bobbins, needles, assorted machine feet, bias tape, lace trim, snaps, scissors, buttons, etc etc. all of that stuff is mostly organized-ish, but could use another once over & a bit of pruning. i somehow keep acquiring old spools of bias tape & it’s kind of taking over all my notions storage. my friend rebecca also talked me into buying an entire huge ziplock bag full of various spools of thread, which takes up a lot of space. i thought about maybe getting some pretty glass jars & making one of those displays of old wooden spools of thread in jars, but…i’m not actually a huge fan of knickknacks, & that kind of thing ain’t nothin’ but a knickknack. i’m a lot more likely to just use it. maybe someday if we have a bigger house & i have a little more space for uselessness…

the sewing table itself was also scored at the antiques mall, for a mere $20. & it came with a pretty gorgeous vintage sewing machine. i am not especially interested in learning a vintage machine right now though, so i took it out & we installed a plywood platform in the opening on which to rest my modern machine. for christmas, jared ordered an acrylic insert to fit the remaining gap between my machine & the opening in the table. it’s about an eighth of an inch off being a perfect fit (my fault, i did the measuring & misgauged the diameter of the curves around the opening), but it’s close enough to work.

to make the platform, we measured the inside opening & had a piece of plywood cut to fit. we then had to cut a rectangle out of it at home to accommodate the table’s knee pedal press function. jared used a circular saw for that, with…satisfactory results. we measured the height of the platform, which had to be pretty exact so the machine would sit at the right height to be flush with the acrylic insert. that took a lot of trial & error. finally jared just laid under the table & held the platform & i put the machine on top & we shifted until we got it right. jared drew a line all around the platform & we decided we’d sink some anchor holes & hope for the best.

we used 2.5″ L brackets & the screws that came from the package. we had to use shorter screws in the front of the table because the wood there is a lot thinner. jared put anchor holes in the platform & put in the screws & drilled anchor holes right through the holes in the brackets to place the platform inside the table. we had a few misfires as far as thinking we’d put the brackets in upside down, & taking them all out & turning them around, & then realizing we were right the first time, but we got there in the end.

the bench came with the table. the lid lifts off so there’s storage inside. i’m still trying to figure out what the best use of that space is for me.

the art on the walls is by ramona.

future projects: i’m planning to sew a new cover for the bench. i’m also planning to make a pressing surface that is the size of the top of the cutting table, just from plywood & a towel covered with pretty fabric. it will make pressing yardage prior to cutting SO much easier. i’m thinking about painting the cutting table & sewing table. i will almost certainly paint the cutting table at some point, because it’s just plain untreated wood. the cabinet however, is antique & solid wood. i kind of feel like it’s a crime to paint it, but…we’ve already altered it by drilling it full of holes. i also accidentally put a big scratch in the top with a metal file. & it’s mine, so why shouldn’t i paint it? we’ll see…

i’ve sewn one project with the new set-up so far (the day i got sick–by the time i was done, i had a 102-degree fever) & i think it’s going to take a little time to adjust to the new space. but i’m really excited about it!

bonus photo of ramona (on her way to hogwarts, thanks to harry potter night organized by the library a few weeks ago):

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there was william henry harrison. he died in thirty days!

i have pneumonia. i’m on my sixth day of constant fever. i’m on my third day of coughing fits that leave me wheezing & gasping for air. i’ve seen a doctor & have been prescribed various drugs that are supposed to open up my lungs & suppress my cough, but they don’t seem to be terribly effective.

right now i’m doing okay. if i just sit still & read or watch TV (i’ve watched eighteen episodes of “hoarders” in the last two days, which wasn’t a great choice because that show just makes me want to clean), the coughing isn’t as bad. but sometimes jared has to go teach & we don’t have anyone to help out with child care, so…that’s an adventure.

ramona was also sick for most of the week. so we spent a lot of time curled up in bed together, looking at picture books or just hanging out. she’s doing a lot better now, which is great for her but exhausting for me. jared had to teach this morning, so he brought me coffee & toast in bed. ramona was in the living room looking at books, & i could see her from the bed, so i just stayed put. at some point she got up & decided to “help” by closing the bedroom door. (she is like her mother in that she can’t stand for doors, drawers, cupboards, etc, to be left hanging open, or even just not firmly closed.) in attempting to muster the strength needed to get out of bed & open the door…i fell asleep. not sure how long i was in the bedroom asleep while the two-year-old roamed the house with no supervision. probably no more than half an hour. & truthfully, no part of the house is off-limits to her. we let her have the run of the place & anything dangerous is inaccessible to her. but still! not an ideal sitch.

i can’t wait to start feeling better. today i combed my hair for the first time in a week. it took nearly half an hour. i almost don’t remember what it feels like to be adequately hydrated. last weekend, jared helped me finish putting together my new sewing area as a valentine’s day gift, & i’ve barely had a chance to use it because i’ve been so sick. right now it’s all just heaped with coats & laundry.

someday i will be healthy again.

achievement unlocked: black & red striped dress

okay, before we start: the other day i got literally hundreds of hits on an old post from 2009 the other day. hundreds! i average about 150 hits a day…not 800! so this was quite unusual. i went back & looked at the post to see if there was anything especially incendiary or relevant in it, but it was just a boring “here’s what i did today” post. i couldn’t find anything in my (admittedly very low-tech) stats analysis software indicating where all these visitors were coming from or why. i can only assume the post was linked somewhere, but where, & more importantly, why? if anyone reading this can clue me in, i’d love to know.

moving on! here’s a dress i made in august & have literally never worn.

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pattern: mccall’s 6754. fabric: some random striped ponte on sale for like $2 a yard at hancock fabrics.

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sorry these photos are kind of blurry, but honestly, the most beautiful photos in vhe world wouldn’t really help this dress. i made this pattern before, with short sleeves, from a blue floral jersey. (see here.) i didn’t love how that one came out either, for pretty much the same reasons: the neckline is way too big, & it came out kind of baggy under the bust. i wondered if it was just a question of the jersey being really stretchy & difficult to work with. like maybe i over-worked it & stretched it out too much. so i decided to try again with this fabric, which is a much heavier, more stable knit.

& i honestly think this one came out even worse! i’m starting to wonder if i just made the wrong size altogether. it just seems too big. i hate the excess fabric in the upper arm & the giant neckline. i think the princess seams fall too far to the sides. i did make alterations (lengthening the front, shortening the back), but i suspect i added too much length to the front & took away too little in the back. here’s the rear view:

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oof. yes, i am standing up straight in this photo. my right hip is considerably higher than my left hip due to a weird misshapen vertebrae issue i was born with. you can really see it in this photo. i still don’t really know what alterations to make to try to correct for this. surprise: the sewing blogger community isn’t overrun with tutorials on how to do a “i’m so misshapen that maybe i should just give up & live in a french cathedral” adjustment. if you need an FBA though, they have got you covered.

& to top it all off, the fabric i used is just subtly itchy. it seems okay when you first put it on, but then it slowly becomes more & more aggravating until you just want to tear all your skin off.

oh, &, i pretty much never wear red. i don’t think it suits my coloring. so i really don’t even know why i bought this stuff. i must have just been hypnotized by the sale price. but guess what? even cheap fabric isn’t a bargain if you’re never gonna wear/use it!

so you see why this languished in my closet for six months before i finally got around to writing up this post. it’s possible that the “too big” factor could just be a matter of built-in ease. but the dress i created doesn’t bear much similarity to the dresses on the models on the pattern envelope. maybe i made too big a size, maybe my alterations wrecked the design lines. who knows? at the end of the day, i doubt i will try this pattern again. i like a nice knit dress–especially in the summer (& note: the heavy knit & long sleeves makes this definitely NOT a summer dress, & makes the giant neckline even more impractical because how the hell am i supposed to layer under that cut?). but i’m not loving knit princess seams. i’ve really liked the way princess seams look on me in woven fabrics. but i don’t think this is working.

so, all around, i’d call this one a fail. at least my hair looks nice in these photos.

the flu & feminist parenting

i got the custom insert for my sewing cabinet last week. it’s maybe 1/16″ off of being a perfect fit, but i think it’s good enough. i was looking forward to taking some time this weekend to build a platform for my sewing machine & get the new sewing area set up. jared even moved out the jogging stroller & swept the no man’s land that laid beneath. but i started getting a scratchy throat on friday during ramona’s nap. i hoped i was just a bit dehydrated, but i woke up on saturday fully sick. & within a few hours, it became clear that i actually had the flu & not just a bad cold.

so, i was sick in bed all weekend & most of yesterday too. if i didn’t have a toddler, i’d probably still be in bed. i’m operating at maybe 55% today. but toddlers roll around on the floor screaming for oranges no matter how shitty you feel, & jared has deadlines this week, so i told him to go to school & i’d just do my best with ramona.

we didn’t get to work on the sewing area at all. jared wrangled ramona all weekend, while also keeping me stocked up on tylenol & chicken broth. so we still have a cutting table taking up valuable real estate in the kitchen.

such a bummer, because it was well over 60 degrees all weekend. i’d been thinking that we could build the machine platform & maybe i’d even have time to paint the new furniture during ramona’s naps or something, since it was warm enough to do so outside & let everything dry in the sun. the cutting table is plain, unfinished wood, so it would be easy to paint, but the sewing cabinet is varnished or something. i could strip it, but i’ve never done that before & it seems like a pain in the ass. i read up a bit on chalk paint or plaster paint. do any of you know anything about this stuff? supposedly you can paint it over any surface, without having to do any sanding or stripping or priming or anything. the problem is that nearly every example i have seen online of the finished product is made to look “distressed”–ie, the paint is rubbed off on places, like you just got the furniture out of an old barn or something. to be honest, i do not care for that look. i like saturated colors & full color coverage. is it possible to get an effect like that with chalk paint over a varnished surface?

this is probably a project best left until spring when it’s consistently warm & i can work outside anyway.

i’ve kind of been putting off jumping into any new sewing projects because i keep thinking my new sewing area is going to be ready to roll soon, but it’s taking longer than i anticipated. jared said we can probably find an evening this week to get the supplies we need to build the platform, so maybe it’ll be done this weekend? but i’m still sick, & jared has a bad cough, & ramona has the worst diaper rash of her life. not sure what’s going on there. this may be TMI, but i’m kind of proud of myself, so i will share: i’m treating her with breast milk because i still produce it even though i weaned her eleven months ago. i mean, it’s pretty weird. am i just going to lactate for the rest of my life? but it’s also kind of like a cool superpower. (okay, that was totally TMI. i’m not thinking clearly because i’m still feverish.)

while i was sick in bed, i read a few books, including this book called redefining girly, about trying to raise a daughter without allowing the patriarchy to stifle her spirit (or something). the author talked a lot about how when she would point out the gender discrepancies in baby clothes & stuff (like pink bibs that say “born to $hop”), her friends would scoff & call her a “feminazi”. um…really? you need new friends, lady. when i shared this with jared, he said, “if your friends are calling you any kind of nazi… [*serious dad look*] they’re not your friends.”

she also wrote about putting together her daughter’s nursery (which, ugh) & how she had it all finished just how she wanted except for a cute light switch cover (double ugh). so she & her husband went shopping for one, but all the “girl” designs were princesses & pink, & all the “boy” designs were animals & spaceships & stuff. she was all outraged & her husband was like, “so what? just pick one you like, regardless of if it’s ‘for’ a boy or a girl. or get a plain one & decorate it yourself if you don’t see any you like.” two perfectly reasonable suggestions, but she was like, “there should be more choice!” which, okay, fair enough. so her solution was to go home & start a business that sells gender-neutral baby stuff. i mean, mostly just t-shirts. with “empowering” slogans on them.

i don’t know. it was just kind of disappointing. like she’s thinking, “how can i make a buck off this problem?” i don’t at all disagree that the gendering of small children has gotten completely out of hand. but this also isn’t something i just noticed once i had a kid, & it’s not something i have found all that difficult to handle thus far in my parenting life. keeping all licensed characters & brands out of the house helps immensely. we still don’t expose ramona to any TV or mainstream media, so she doesn’t beg for any of that stuff or recognize it when she sees it. (there’s a mickey mouse doll at the library & she is convinced that it’s a panda bear.) we dress her pretty much exclusively in hand-me-downs & stuff from the thrift store. she wears some girly stuff, like pink pants with bows on the ankles, pink sweaters, dresses with flowers on them. & she wears boyish stuff, like button-down oxfords & argyle sweater vests. *shrug* she likes baby dolls & fire trucks. i don’t know. maybe all of this will get harder as she gets older. maybe it would be harder if we had another kid in the mix. maybe i’m just not finding it as challenging because i am bringing twenty years of prior militant feminism to my parenting. none of this crap is new or surprising to me, none of it is stuff i hadn’t already thought about long before i had a kid.