So you’re knocked up and nesting, and you’ve been convinced that you can’t be a Good Parent unless you buy a bunch of useless crap. I’m here to save you.
I get it. You’re about to become a Mommy and you’re going to make sure to assemble the perfect fairy tale nursery for your Precious Angel. This is perfectly normal. Also perfectly normal? Soon-to-be Parents suffer Pregnancy Brain, a condition of temporary insanity that causes you to forget things, drop things, and become easily duped into spending a lot of money on crap you don’t need.
Let’s say you’re a pseudo-hippie, Breast-is-Best-Even-if-They’re-Driving, pro-cloth-diaper, co-sleeping, sling-wearing, unschooling, tradition-bucking, naturalist mama. This really isn’t for you because as long as you (at least) live in a tent near a well and have a scrap of towel handy, you’re pretty much covered. Carry on.
But let’s say you’re only partly that. Maybe you want to breastfeed but you’d rather not wring poopy diapers into the toilet and carry them to the laundry room and you’d like to keep your bedroom all to yourself thankyouverymuch. Maybe you work or you’d like your partner to handle some midnight feedings. You’re gonna need some stuff.
What You DO Need (and What You Don’t)
1. A way to keep Baby’s nether regions clean.
Wipes or washcloths, cloth diapers or disposables. Pins if you’re using cloth. A&D ointment and little gauze squares if you opted to circumcise. Clean up the mess, lightly fan or pat Baby’s bottom for a couple seconds to dry, apply ointments as needed, and close it up. YOU DO NOT NEED a wipe-warmer, a diaper genie, or baby powder. You maybe need a garbage can with a stick-on air freshener nearby. You also don’t need a special baby bathtub, as long as you have a kitchen sink.
2. A way to keep Baby warm.
I like onesies because they keep everything contained in a neat little Babylicious package and Baby is less likely to wriggle himself into a position where his shirt is coming up over his face. Onesies and one-piece pajamas, appropriate to the season. YOU DO NOT NEED an entire wardrobe of Infant Couture. I mean, spend the money if you want, but if you register for it, pretty much everyone will think you’re an asshole.
They also need blankets, but not a million of them. Like, four, total. If they’re in pj’s and you’ve learned how to do the Baby Blanket Burrito, you’re golden.
3. A way to keep Baby fed.
Even breastfeeding moms find cause to give their babies a bottle at least once. You’ll need a few of those, and you’ll probably have to experiment a little with nipple shapes. Whether you’re breastfeeding, giving breastmilk with a bottle, or using formula, obviously bottles and nipples are a must-have. Eventually you’ll want a little spoon (soft-covered or not) when it’s time to introduce cereal and solids. YOU DO NOT NEED a bottle warmer. I swear, of all the stupid crap…
Listen. It takes less than 5 minutes in the microwave to boil water for warming up frozen or refrigerated breastmilk. If you don’t have a microwave, you don’t need a bottle warmer, you need a microwave. Mixing formula? TAP WATER. Turn it on, put your wrist under the faucet, and when it feels neither cold nor warm, it’s juuuuust right.
4. A place to put Baby down.
You need a crib with a nice firm mattress. Absolutely. Could be new, could be used, as long as it’s well-constructed and properly-assembled, you’re all set. YOU DO NOT NEED a crib that turns into a toddler bed that turns into a full-size bed that turns into an Autobot.
You also need a car seat for the car, a stroller if you like to go for walks, and eventually a high chair or booster seat.
To Sum Up:
There are a ton of things out there that are nice to have – Pack’n'Plays, baby swings, bouncy chairs and exersaucers, and gadgets galore – but don’t be fooled into thinking you need them. You don’t. Babies are easier and cheaper than the retail industry would have you believe. As long as your baby is warm, fed, dry and getting lots of love and interaction from you, he’s getting exactly what he needs.
It’s come to my attention that nobody cares about how easy it is to clean things with toothpaste and vinegar. This is because cleaning is boring and we only do it because we have to. Even I, the great and powerful Domesticrat, only clean when company’s coming. In the event that I want to take a picture of something, I kick the crap out of the way and make it look like things are neat and tidy. This has led to a number of unintended circumstances:
1. You people think I’m good at everything domestic. Trust and believe: you’re way better at it than I am.
2. I feel like I have to talk about cleaning and domestic productivity all the time, which I sometimes find interesting but mostly I don’t. Because it’s not.
3. Since I’m bored by the subject matter, I don’t write anything at all, because I feel like I’m supposed to be in this niche that sucks.
4. So I rebel against the niche by being all introspective, which is even more boring because of all the things people are not interested in, someone else’s long and winding journey of self-discovery is probably the biggest.
So here’s what’s gonna happen now. I’mma eat this box of loaded fries from Checkers, and drink this giant Coke, and spend today being fat and sassy. Later, I’ll dye my own hair and go with my 58-year-old mother to see Magic Mike (because there’s no such thing as too much shirtless Joe Manganiello), and then maybe I’ll clean something.
But probably not.
Yesterday, I turned 36. Happy Birthday to me! It was supposed to be Zero Day. As in Zero smoking, because I’d cleverly, mathematically, cut down from a carton a week to 5 packs in a week, over a week, till I woke up with zero on my birthday.
And I caved after 33 hours of not smoking. So it goes.
I’m trying again, right now, because I intend to have this crap taken care of before the end of the month. I’m going to have to attack it from all sides, including playing my own Quit Smoking Counselor who knows and understands all the Psychological Reasons for why I feel like smoking even though it’s a stupid, stupid thing to do. I am not getting patches, I am not getting Chantix, and I am not getting that disgusting gum.
I am not going to be “replacing” smokes with some other crutch, like gum, candy or cigarette-sized straws. I want to be as NONsmokery as possible, and I don’t know any nonsmokers who shovel gum into their faces on an hourly basis.
I invite anyone who wants to join me to hop on board. I’m starting today with my regular 2-pack on-demand habit and going down from there over the next 19 days. The last 5 days will allow for one cigarette per day only.
I’m going to skip over the justifications about why I screwed it up this time, and the ones about why I think this will work. It doesn’t matter why I think any of that, just that I did screw up and I WANT to not screw up and I’m DECIDING NOT TO SCREW UP.
I’m going to leave that picture up on the Domesticrat Facebook page forever, so if you want to…look it over, make one that fits your ideal dates and start later on…go for it. Good luck to all of us.
I love the hell out of Facebook, but I prefer to be the one in charge of deciding what I see on my newsfeed. I make use of the preloaded Close Friends and Family lists, but you can make your own custom lists as well. Here’s how:
Near the bottom of the left column, find Interests and click on “Add Interests.”
On the Add Interests page, click on “Create List.”
Start adding pages you want the list to include.
Give it a name.
See it appear in your left column…but the magic doesn’t stop there!
There’s an invisible Edit button hidden in the white space…find it, click it, and put that list up at the top!
Woo! Give yourself a high-5 because you so friggin’ awesomely defeated the evil machinations of Facebook!
Hey, if this is useful to you, consider giving me a retweet, repin, share, +1, or whatever the heck it is you typically do with awesome stuff you find on the internet. Thanks! Now, go like me on Facebook and add me to your list!
TL;DR version: English, for better or worse, and I should have known that all along. Readers who actually prefer to go on a graphics-free, 800-wordcount journey, please follow me…
Yes, all 15 of you. Look. I know you’ve come to expect certain things from me on this site, primarily handy cleaning tips and irregular musings about a variety of irregular topics, with the occasional foray into piano-nerd-fangirlishness and no small amount of me bemoaning my inability to settle on an academic major so that I can get on with my life and have a career and all that before I’m old enough to retire and/or die. The bad news is: this post is more of that. The good news is: I’m done with the exploration and wondering, because I finally, really, truly, for the last time, have figured it out. What follows is the long, but ultimately liberating process that led to the END of this godawful exercise in self-torture. It is “writerly,” because that’s how I write when I’m not trying to write something that will result in a good response on Pinterest. Here goes.
Part 1: Things I Truly Love
Regardless of Talent, Training or Expertise
- Music, Irrespective of Genre or Intent
- Stories, Fiction & Non, on Pages, Stages & Screens
- Colors, Shapes & Lines
- Contrasts, Repetitions, Alignments & Proximities
- Surprises, Subtexts, Twists & Revelations
- Domestic Everything, Even Cleaning & Weed-Pulling
Part 2: Natural Behaviors
Regardless of Usefulness or Marketability
- Autodidactism, Hyper-Analysis & Tangential Oversharing
- Writing: Letters, Lists, Instructions, Stories & Reflections
- Doodling: My Name, Hearts, Faces, Cubes, Asterisks, Daisies (and also Swirls, Curlicues, and the number 8 )
- Aimless Wandering & Local Adventuring
- Planning without Acting & Acting without Planning
- Listening Repetitively & Looking Closely
- Connecting Seemingly-Unrelated Items
Part 3: Connect Love & Nature
Perhaps NOT an Exercise in Futility & Self-Torture
I get it now. I was right in high school, when I was determined to become a Writer-with-a-capital-W and I declared, long before graduation day came, that I was going to be an English major.
I was right at Marycrest, when I added English as a second major to Graphics and joked about becoming a Professor of Pop Culture.
I was right to keep writing in my LiveJournal all those years, I am right to feel incomplete because I have not written anything truly vital in the past half-decade, and I am right, right now, to stop searching for The Right Thing when I was right all along.
I can entertain notions of myself as a therapist, a counselor, a teacher, a coordinator, a concert promoter, a painter, a decorator, a housewife, a talent manager, a graphic artist, a program manager, a video editor, and a hundred other things. But I cannot envision a life in which I am not writing. I cannot see myself being decisive without first writing a many-page introspective, getting through a day without a list of things to cross off, going from sun up to sun down without updating the world as to my every thought and notion, or at least putting it down privately for my own comfort (even if I do ultimately delete it once it’s out of my head). I cannot see myself as a non-writer, or as someone who only writes when absolutely required.
I’ve written very little of import or worth, but I have written. Every day of my life, I have written. Breathing and writing are the only things I have done consistently…even eating and sleeping have been less regular. And yet somehow I forgot that I had a calling, even though it’s been calling to me every day in the forms of humor, solace, diversion and daily life. I just stopped recognizing it. I stopped valuing it.
It’s no wonder I’ve played such hell trying to figure out who I am and what I should be doing. How could I possibly have expected to get through the next 60 minutes, much less the next 60 years, doing anything other than writing? I do need to continue with school. I need to know what I’ve been ignoring all this time. I need to study and practice and fail miserably and succeed spectacularly and earn a Bachelor’s degree—maybe even a Master’s degree—and it all needs to be based in the study of English and Writing. I know what I can do with it and what I can’t, and I know that what I can’t do, I don’t really want to do, because I don’t want to put 8-12 hours each day into something that doesn’t have me writing, or at least reading. I don’t need to decide what I wish to be because I already am that. I need practice and purpose, not a suitable alternative.
I do not wish to be a writer. I AM a writer.
PS: So there it is.
PPS: Not that I'm going to stop writing about cleaning or anything. Just so you know.
In my ongoing quest to purge excess stuff from my life and never spend money on boring things ever again, and also honorable pursuits like green cleaning and emulating my adorable grandmother (in terms of knowing all the secret home remedies for things, anyway), I’ve discovered that I don’t actually need an entire walk-in closet full of tools, products and solvents for cleaning. I don’t even need a dedicated shelf, really, because everything I could ever possibly need to clean an entire house is already on a shelf in my kitchen (with the exception of one thing, which I found in the garage.) Can I get a witness:
Seriously. WD40 is the only thing that’s probably not already in your kitchen…check under the sink, though, because that’s where I have mine. It gets crayon off the wall like magic.
Listen, I once decrapified a little jar thing that had stuff stuck inside in an impossibly unreachable place. I put in a little water and regular table salt, screwed the lid on, and shook it like a Polaroid picture. Crap disappeared in an instant.
3. White Toothpaste
Perhaps you remember that I recently showed you that you can remove marker from the wall with white toothpaste? I have also been successful in removing SHARPIE marks from wood floors and my beloved walnut dining room table this way.
4. Olive oil
Not too much necessary. Mixed with vinegar, you have a rocking wood cleaner/polisher solution.
When in doubt, water (alone, or mixed with any of the others) will get pretty much anything clean.
6. Baking soda
Removes odors, and mixes with vinegar to do the most awesome things ever. Baking soda-plus-vinegar brightened up all my stainless steel, made my disgusting carpet look brand new, and “bleached” my porcelain sink.
The most magical of all. Listen, I know…it’s smelly. Cut in a little lemon juice or your favorite smell-good essential oil if you must. Straight, it made stains and rust completely vanish from our toilet bowl. Mixed with this/that/the other, it will clean abso-frickin-lutely everything (check out the handy tips here for recipes and particulars.)
This is it for me, household cleaning industries of the world. No longer will I fall prey to your empty promises and hollow half-truths. Dish soap not withstanding (really, the cheapest of the cheap stuff is fine, because hot water and friction are what really makes the dishes clean), I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy “cleaning products” ever again.
This afternoon, I was freaking out over how to get marker off the wall because my go-to cleaning solution (vinegar) was getting me absolutely no where. I posted a plea for help on my Facebook wall and watched the recommendations for Magic Eraser roll in…
…even though I knew perfectly well that white toothpaste would do it. Duh. When I finally remembered that I’m not a moron, it dawned on me that maybe all these Magic Eraser folks would like to know that they don’t necessarily ever have to buy a Magic Eraser ever again, because…toothpaste. Look!
I’ve used this method to remove Sharpie marks from wood, but I didn’t count to 100. I let it sit while I watched Gossip Girl, and magically erased it afterward, when I discovered my Hulu queue was empty. So, while I can’t tell you scientifically how quickly it works, just know that it does, and you don’t have to spend $2.99 on a one-note chemical cleaner.