I confess: Sometimes I complain about people who don’t have kids.
“Why are my childless friends always late?” I recently griped to a child-free friend. “I’ve got three other people to get ready, and still manage to get places on time.”
The friend complained right back, “Why do parents use their kids as an excuse not to go out on weekends. Get a babysitter!”
“Tell me this!” I argued. “Why are you people tired all the time? You can sleep whenever you want!”
“Oh yeah?,” he retorted, “Why do parents talk incessantly about POOP?”
Well. He had me there! We breeders DO love discussing poop, especially when it comes out of the behinds of our little darlings. We don’t naturally love excrement, but we spend a big part of our days either cleaning poop, helping someone poop, or finding poop in unexpected places.*
Case in point: One of the guests at a friend’s birthday party told a delightfully graphic story about a kid who forgot to wipe her butt for a whole day. My pal Jessica wandered into the conversation and proudly declared, “In MY family, we ALWAYS wipe our butts.” I laughed and added, “You should put that on your family crest.”
Jessica can always make us laugh. But suddenly last week she was in need of some serious cheering up: Jess’ cargo bike (essentially a two-wheeled minivan) was stolen, just a couple of months after she’d sold off the family car.
This was devastating. When she’s not at Movie Trivia night, Jess can be seen herding about a half dozen children: three handsome boys of her own, plus handful of other people’s kids for good measure. Somehow she also finds the time to do craft projects, foster dogs, organize (really fun!) school fundraisers, and generally make our little world a better place. Here is a pregnant Jessica using her charm to get a hold of Mayor Emanuel’s top secret plans for Chicago:
And somehow, Jessica makes it all look easy. Glamorous, even.
Now it was my turn to make her smile. I couldn’t replace the cargo bike, but I did have a pretty clever idea for a family crest! Before we get started, remember this: When making a poop-themed Family Crest/ Toilet paper holder, the number one rule is: KEEP IT CLASSY.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Hunk of wood
Toilet Paper Holder and Roll of TP (2-ply)
Primer, Paint and Polycrylic
Jigsaw, Sanding Block, Paintbrushes and Old Rag
Restless 3-year Old
Loads of Class
STEP ONE – SAW: I grabbed scrap of wood leftover from various projects, and jig-sawed into a regal crest shape. Do a Google Image search for “family crest” to get some ideas.
Sand the raw crest down to a smooth finish with a sanding block, paying special attention to the rough edges and not-so-graceful curves.
STEP TWO – PRIME & PAINT: For the background, I chose a four-panel diamond pattern in white and yellow, because it felt bright and cheerful; also I have a lot of yellow and white paint (I dismissed Scott’s not-so-classy suggestion to use yellow and brown – the palette of human waste).
First, put down a layer of oil-based white primer, to even out the dark tones and help the paint adhere. Note that I didn’t waste a paintbrush on this step, I just dunked a (clean) rag into the primer and smeared it on, then tossed the rag.
After the primer dried, I traced my diamond pattern in pencil, and then painted one section at a time, using masking tape to protect the other sections and keep my lines straight.
PRO-TIP #1: If you use cheap, disposable brushes to apply oil-based paint, try giving your brush a quick “haircut” before painting to get that perfect angle.
STEP THREE – APPLY YOUR MESSAGE: In the name of Keeping it Classy, I decided to translate “We Always Wipe Our Butts” into Latin, cause everything sounds more serious in a dead language only spoken by the Pope.
I took four years of high school Latin, but now I don’t even recognize those strange words on the back of a quarter. So I got some help from my smarter friends.
Chris T. suggested: Nostrum clunes semper detergemus, which means, “Our buttocks are always clean.” Close, but not specific enough.
Then Gareth N. contributed: Semper emundabit culus, which translates to “Always cleanse your anus,” a little more…um… clinical in tone than I needed.
In the end, I chose Julie V.’s phrase: Semper extergunt tibus nostrum.
I tried to paint the family name directly on the top of the crest with a clean, modern san-serif font of my own design:
After screwing up a few letters, I tried mask my mistakes with some camouflaging serifs, which only made matters worse. YIKES!
In a panic, I primed a piece of balsa wood and wrote the family name in permanent marker:
Using the balsa wood, I wrote the latin phrase in a “banner” shape, and per Scott’s suggestion, drew it as a flowing roll of toilet paper. However, I couldn’t quite get the shape right, panicked, and then just made Scott cut it out for me:
I gently sanded down the areas where the banners would go, and used wood glue to stick them to the crest.
STEP FOUR – FINAL TOUCHES: Since the crest would (ideally) be used in a bathroom setting – in close proximity to many acidic fluids – I gave the whole crest three thin coats of Minwax polycrylic clear finish in spray form. This is the first time I’ve used aerosol top coat – I found a can among dumpster full of half-used spray paint and decided to give it a try.
PRO-TIP #2: Shaking a can of spray paint for two minutes is a very boring, but totally necessary step in many projects. Instead of wasting two minutes of your valuable grown-up time (when you could be thinking about fiber, taxes or real estate), let your three-year-old do the hard work for you. The average preschooler has nothing better to do (he still thinks orange is a letter); and shaking a can with a marble inside will provide valuable stimulation, improve hand-eye coordination and build both fine and gross motor skills.
When the finish is dry, screw some mounting hardware on the back – Remember, this is a practical, useful gift.
Finally, install your toilet paper hardware and spring for a fresh roll.** I recommended two-ply for maximum butt wiping resistance.
STEP FIVE – PRESENTATION: Gather up the girlfriends and head to Movie Trivia Night at your local theater. Sit silently for an hour sipping your beer, because you can’t even remember the title of the movie you watched two weeks ago, much less the name of Meatloaf’s character in Rocky Horror. Present the gift to your friend. She doesn’t even remember saying “We always wipe our butts,” but you get a smile out of her anyway.
* Did you know that every year the average human being produces about 1,200 pounds of feces and urine combined?
** You weren’t really gonna put a half-used roll of toilet paper on there, were you?
I like the toilet paper scroll detail! The translation’s good; I’d have gone for less precision and been satisfied with clunes nostra semper pura, myself. Nothing like a Catholic education to really embed that Latin into your subconscious…
Tsk. I don’t know – gentrification of a blog! I remember the days when you would go to the thrift store to get a discarded shield, reusing someones lost hopes and dreams.
Only redeemed by scavenging the spray can from the bin! ; )
My childless (intentional) friends try to up the anti on poo talk when we are found discussing it. Never works – their imagination can never compete with what we deal with on a daily basis.