Monthly Archives: July 2015

Cage the Beast (or, “make your own baby gate tutorial”)

Lately 2.0 has garnered the new nickname of “beast”. Perhaps “Juggernaut” would be more appropriate, but “beast” is easier to say, and it rolls off the tongue more quickly when calling out to a child who scales wide open stairs with reckless abandon. He’s unstoppable. Last week Captain Laser Pants and I were standing in the kitchen while he played by our feet. We talked over coffee, saw him walk off, and thought nothing of it. Ten seconds later we heard an unmistakable rattle of the baby gate at the top of the stairs. He went from kitchen to playroom in less than twenty seconds.

The gate at the top of the stairs is built to withstand some shaking, kicking, and general toddler/ child interaction. It has a lock/ lift mechanism that requires some mental faculties that a baby doesn’t typically possess. It’s between two walls of sheet rock at the top of the stairs, and it works well for its place. However, at the base of the stairs, it would destroy the wood balusters. ¬†Enter the PVC and fabric baby gate idea.

A few years ago I saw this idea on Sew Many Ways but I never had need to make one of my own with Mini Gwinn. Then 2.0, excuse me, the beast, came along, and he is nigh unstoppable, and something had to be done.

PVC measured and cut with 4 90 degree elbows

PVC measured and cut with 4 90 degree elbows

I went to Home Depot and gathered supplies I didn’t already have on hand. I bought two 10 foot PVC pipes, 3/4 in, and asked a nice employee to cut them in half for me. I also bought 4 90 degree elbows and 4 small carabiner clips. The total cost was something like $11.46.

Once 2.0 went down for a nap, I measured the height and width of our staircase and cut the pipe down with a mitre saw in a mitre box. The pipes aren’t perfectly identical, which is ok, because the elbows add some safety in the measurement. I ended up with a gate size that’s just about equal in width as the staircase.

Hot gluing fabric to the pipe

Hot gluing fabric to the pipe

For this there are two options, one is making a slip cover or envelope style of fabric, and the other is what I did, which is just gluing the fabric directly to the PVC piping. On the Sew Many Ways tutorial, she sews a slip cover. Since I don’t sew, my way worked just fine for me and didn’t require an insane amount of accuracy. The fabric I used here was a torn bed sheet that I was saving for a project (always finding a way to re-purpose stuff to save cash, heh) like this one. I covered both sides to give it a bit more substance (because I forgot a middle bar and a T joint, oops).

Basic gate finished

Basic gate finished

At this point I could have been done with a basic gate. I probably should have ironed the sheet. Whatever. Mini Gwinn is demonstrating the height, which I like a lot. But, because complexity is one of my seventeen middle names, I added a few more steps to jazz it up a bit and to add more security in case the beast figures out he can slide it out the side of the iron spindles.

The clips and grosgrain ribbon, with key rings

The clips and grosgrain ribbon, with key rings

clever, eh?

clever, eh?

On the back of the four corners I attached grosgrain ribbon with a key ring. The key rings attach to the carabiner clips, which in turn attach to the iron spindles for some extra insurance.

Bad quality, idea comes across though

Bad quality, idea comes across though

So to make this just a little prettier than an old bed sheet, I used some left over fabric I had from making our kitchen curtain. Gambit decided he needed to take a nap on it while I was gluing the edges. Thanks, bud.

Gambit isn't bright.

Gambit isn’t bright.

He was super into helping me. And by helping I mean asking me why he couldn't sit on my lap while using a hot glue gun.

He was super into helping me. And by helping I mean asking me why he couldn’t sit on my lap while using a hot glue gun.

I’m pleased enough with the end result, considering it took about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish. Let’s see how 2.0/ beastie handles it when he wakes up from his nap and gets veto-ed when he tries to go upstairs solo!

finished product, ta da!

finished product, ta da!

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Responses to “You Have Your Hands Full”

Last May, when I went to my ob-gyn for my four week postpartum follow up, an elderly woman watched me struggle with a screaming newborn and a precocious three year old. I balanced my wallet on top of the stroller as I swiped my card at the hospital ATM to have cash to pay for parking. Mini Gwinn was trying his best to sit patiently on the bench while 2.0 wailed his banshee scream. She stood silently for several seconds before saying, “My, you have your hands full.”

We’ve all heard that, at some point or another. Our hands are, quite literally, full, as we toggle the weight of 60+ lbs. of human beings in our arms, grocery bags, an inevitably ringing cell phone, and a surprise poop wafts in the air. The stares of single women bore into the backs of our heads, and their thoughts are broadcast on their faces. And we want to say something to defend ourselves, to give ourselves some credit as the mom- world collides with the real one, but we’re sleep deprived and juggling lives and food, so we chuckle nervously and agree. Some of us dwell on what we should have said.

I suppose it’s a sentence of good intentions. At least that’s what my mom says. ” They’re just trying to think of something to say.” My ungraceful response to the elderly woman mentioned above was, “And you have on a red shirt.” And that was that. I didn’t smile, I didn’t say “thank you,” and all my Southern manners flew out that hospital parking lot window, because my life doesn’t need a commentary when I’m having a rough moment(s). In this instance if there isn’t anything immediately kind to say, don’t say anything at all, especially “you have your hands full”. We all already know.

But people still say it. Just about every time I am out with my kids. So instead of replying with something obvious about their appearance, e.g. “your shoes are brown”, I’m coming up with a list of responses, some more gracious than others.

“Wouldn’t it make you uncomfortable if I told you I was pregnant with twins?” – bonus points for grinning madly

“I can’t think of anything better to have my hands full of. Except maybe donuts.”

“These aren’t even my children!”

“These aren’t even my hands!” – cause, why not be extra weird?

“I have even more stored in the car, in case of an emergency.”

“If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.” – I read this from another blog, but I can’t find it, otherwise I would cite it appropriately. Sorry!

What do you say when you’re confronted with badly worded “kindness”?