I am not cut out for do-it-yourself projects. Never have been; never will be. I’ve heard it said that the healing process can begin when you admit your shortcomings, so I’m going public with my admission.
My inability to do-it-myself once again became crystal clear while designing my own graduation announcements for our oldest child’s graduation in June. I saw the prices for the announcements through the school’s vendor and thought, “That’s too expensive! I’m creative, I can do this myself.”
That statement, right there – “I can do this myself” - is the slippery slope that leads me to the DIY trash heap, resulting in wasted money, time and effort.
Here’s what happened. I scanned pictures, I placed the pictures using the handy online tool and chose the kind of card stock I wanted to use for the invitations. I added the information about the graduation party we’re planning with three other families, and clicked ORDER.
Then two days later I realized I had ordered 75 invitations for the WRONG DAY.
Forty-eight dollars later, I placed my re-order for the very same invitations with the correct date. See how I saved us some money there? Yeah, me neither.
I wish I could report that this if the first instance of my DIY projects going awry, but my son would be the first to tell on me and my history of DIY nightmares. Sadly, he’s been the brunt of most of these.
Exhibit A: The Great Home Haircut Nightmare of 1998: By the time Natty turned two, he already needed monthly haircuts, which added up quickly. It was a simple haircut, so I naively assumed “I can do this myself!” and bought some hair clippers at WalMart. I didn’t read the instructions because “I don’t do instructions” (another article altogether) and instead pulled out the clippers and started “trimming.” Instead, I shaved a strip on the back of his head bald before realizing that there were attachments for how many inches you want to cut off. Craig came home, gently took the clippers out of my hands, and said, “Please just pay for the haircuts.” I’ve never seen those clippers again.
Exhibit B: The Great Halloween Costume Debacle of 1999. Natty loved the Veggie Tales videos as a child, so for his third Halloween I decided he would go as Bob the Tomato. Sure, they sold costumes, but they were ridiculously overpriced and we were on a tight budget so I thought “I can do this myself!” I found an orange felt pumpkin costume on clearance at Kmart and bought some red spray paint. I decided I would spray paint the orange pumpkin to make it red, put some cut-out felt eyes and mouth on it and – voila! –our very own Bob the Tomato costume. Well, I’m here to tell you that spray paint does not go on felt smoothly, which made him look a little like Bob the orange/reddish squash. Then it started raining while we were trick or treating, so the paint started running down Natty’s legs. The next year, I bought a costume.
Exhibit C: The Great Birthday Cake Apocalypse of 2002: I’m one of those people that see a picture in a cookbook and think “I can do this myself!” True, most of my baking does TASTE good, it just ends up not looking even remotely close to the picture. I tried to do a Star Wars cake for Natty’s sixth birthday and … long story short … ended up at Fred Meyer Bakery that morning buying a sheet cake in time for his party.
In a few short weeks, Natty will be picking up his graduation gown and mortar board, but I’ve been thinking that those would be super easy to sew myself. I mean, I took a sewing class in the seventh grade, so how hard could this be?
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Eileen Burmeister is a Winchester-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.