Kids & Pets

“T” Time

If Teddy ever forgets what letter his name starts with, he now has a whole wall to remind him.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Sherry and I settled on a plan for a subtle accent pattern on the wall between the built-ins. Our original plan was to paint the Ts, like Sherry did for Clara’s raindrops. But after some of you suggested things like vinyl decals in the comments, we decided to give that a whirl instead. Vinyl has become a pretty mainstream option these days, especially for kids’ rooms. It’s removable and affordable, so we see the appeal. This tube – which is meant for Silhouette craft cutters – was $5 from JoAnn with a coupon. We don’t own a craft cutter, but that didn’t stop us from cutting simple line shapes by hand.

First we had to determine the size of our Ts. The wall space was around 88″ wide, so I figured some multiple of 4″ would make life easiest. But I mocked up two sizes with printer paper cut into 1/2″ strips – just to be sure that we both liked the 8 x 4″ version because it looked right (and not just because the math worked out). Thankfully we did.

With the size selected, next we had to lock down the arrangement. I cut out a few paper templates, taped them up, and we moved them around until we liked the layout. Happily, the pattern that we liked could easily fit into 4″ increments.

The next step was cutting a bunch of 1/2″ vinyl strips: some 8″ long, some 4″ long. I’m sure this would’ve been faster if we owned a craft cutting machine, but it wasn’t too hard to execute by hand. Here were our materials:

I started by making a simple guide on my board (three small pen dots on the wood at the zero inch, four inch, and eight inch spots). That way once the vinyl was rolled out, I could easily slice off an 8″ section.

With a 8″ section of vinyl cut and taped down on both sides, I used the ruler to tick off 1/2″ marks on both sides of the sheet.

Then I lined up the ruler to each set of marks and sliced through the vinyl (it took 2 passes – one to get through the vinyl, and one to get through the backing). Then I just moved down the sheet until the entire thing had been carefully shredded into 1/2″ strips. Making 4″ long strips meant following the same steps, and ending with one last cut down the center. I needed about 70 in total. It wasn’t particularly difficult work (sort of that auto-pilot, get-in-the-zone stuff).

Applying the decals to the wall was also pretty simple and repetitive. Since we were basically creating a giant grid on the wall, I knew that keeping things level and equally spaced was key. So I started at the top middle of the wall and worked in small sections, making pencil marks with a level and yard stick.

How I measured & marked the wall may be TMI for most people since it’s really specific to the shape/size of the decal you’re applying, but if anyone’s looking to recreate this look exactly, here’s the rundown. With my yard stick held vertically (and checked with a level) I marked the vertical spacing of each row – as seen below in the RED dots. Next I held the yard stick horizontally on each mark (again, checked by a level) and marked the middle and both ends of each T – as seen below in the BLUE dots. It sounds a lot more complicated than it was.

Then I used those marks to place the vinyl strips. You can sort of see my light pencil marks below, but I’ve added blue dots to help you see how they guided my placement of the 8″ strips. Once the long strip was placed, I used my center mark to add the 4″ vertical strip. I just eyeballed these since it was pretty easy to make such a short strip look vertical.

The vinyl was really easy to work with, so I’m glad we made that choice. It held tight to the wall with just a quick smooth of the finger and so far nothing has peeled up on its own (I started the project before Memorial Day and worked through last week, so some of the first strips have been up for almost two weeks). And just for kicks, I tried removing one to see what happened. It took a decent amount of work to get my nail under the edge enough to peel it off, and a decent amount of pressure to yank it off, but once I did it came off without damaging the wall. Initially when we considered vinyl vs. painting for the Ts, we worried Teddy might be able to peel them off when he’s older/more mobile, but I doubt Clara could remove one.

It was our first time working with self adhesive vinyl and I’m impressed with how crisp and grid-like the design turned out (something I’m not sure we could’ve achieved with paint alone). It’s nice to have some subtle pattern and interest between the built-ins. And the $5 price tag is pretty nice too.

We didn’t extend the T’s behind his crib, just because we thought the lines would look busy with all of the crib slats. But I did save some extra strips to add once he moves to a twin bed (we also have about a quarter of the vinyl roll left for backup). But let’s not jump that far to the future yet, okay? This kid is already 12 pounds. They really do grow up too fast.

I like that if we ever tire of it (or if Teddy requests something else down the line), we can just remove it and move on. Although it does make my geeky heart swell a bit to imagine what Teddy will see in the pattern besides his first initial. A bunch of squares for hanging his drawings? A bunch of cliffs for careening toy cars? A giant Plinko board?

Other than needing a light fixture overhead, I think we’re done in here for now. And you know we love a good before and after, so here’s a reminder of the carpeted pink-trimmed room we started with:

Did you guys finish up any projects this weekend? Or do anything outdoorsy? We squeezed in a few long walks and even slipped through a street festival on Sunday. Teddy loved the candied bacon on a stick.

Note: I spared you all from like two dozen T-puns that I was thisclose to unleashing throughout this post. Like how I think the wall fits Teddy to a T. And how I hope he thinks it’s T-rrific. And how I didn’t need a TI-82 to calculate the placement of my decals. Remember those?



Clara’s “Pink & Gold Everything” Party

This weekend our deck was full of people we love, gathered to celebrate this four year old bean of ours. It was pretty awesome to have so much connected outdoor space to party on (the sunroom-turned-veranda and our big deck that overlooks the grassy backyard felt less chopped up than having some people in the last house’s sunroom while others were on our two-tiered patio). And since our previous house is where we’ve hosted every other Clara-birthday since she was born (here’s the post about her first birthday, the one about her second one, and the one about her third) it felt both weird and wonderful to have our first big birthday gathering here. Most importantly, this girl had a blast.

We usually do a little party prep post before the big “after the event” rundown (like this one, this one, and this one) which is where we share details like her invitation, but this time we figured we’d toss everything into this full-monty post and call it good. This is the invitation that we sent out to friends and relatives after Clara decided she wanted her party to be “all full of pink and gold everything… with glitter.”

But the theme wasn’t “pink and gold with glitter” for long – it kept evolving. The description quickly morphed to include nearly everything in her world. Soon Clara was calling it a “pink and gold flamingo, fairy, princess, lego, glitter, flower, cupcake, pez, castle, polka dot, treasure, bubble, water party” – which we shortened to her “pink and gold everything party” since it included everything but the kitchen sink.

It was fun to embrace all the things she loves. We pulled out existing items that fit the theme (like old paper lanterns and floral tablecloths from parties past) as well as grabbing some fun new items that tied in (like a few dollar store flamingos, some gold tinsel to make a glittery table runner, and some polka dotted balloons from Target).

For added seating in our not-really-furnished-yet former sunroom, we brought out an old pedestal table and our wicker dining chairs (they’re actually outdoor chairs, so they worked really well) as well as breaking out some fun stuff for the kids like our water table (and the one we borrowed from Grammy and Tom-Tom) as well as a bunch of toys, bubbles, and even the sprinkler for down on the grass.

We’re so grateful for the weather. It was sunny and warm enough for the kids to play with water in the sun, but nice and cool in the shade (we didn’t even turn on the fans!).

We kept the food casual as usual, with some pink and gold favorites like watermelon, chicken nuggets, sliced peppers, caramel corn, chips & salsa, as well as a few pizzas since they’re always a crowd pleaser.

We even worked in some grocery store blooms and a few gold mason jars (from JoAnn) full of pink & gold twizzlers.

These little flamingo glasses were dollar store finds, and the chocolate coins and pink jelly beans were pretty much gone before the pizza was even touched.

We also grabbed five flamingo stick-balloons at the dollar store (who knew they were such a treasure trove of flamingo memorabilia?) that we stuck into the the potted ferns around the deck. Kids loved them so much they asked to take them home at the end of the party.

Easily the most exciting thing were the cupcakes, which were made by our sweet friend Justine. After we had Teddy she asked if she could bring us a meal and we kept saying “you’re too kind, but we’re all set – seriously our freezer is full” which somehow turned into her offering to make cupcakes for the party (she loves to bake, and her stuff is so delicious we couldn’t resist). She fully embraced the pink-and-gold-fairy-princess-lego-castle-glitter-etc theme and made adorable toppers for each cupcake, including a few “fairy Clara” toppers with her face on a glittery winged body along with everything from a lego head to a pink glittered castle. There was an audible “oooh!” when we brought them all out.

Here’s one of “Queen Clara” wearing a big dress (girl loves a big dress, especially of the pink and gold variety). Justine seriously went above and beyond.

Later when we asked Clara to name her five favorite parts of the party, the very first thing she said was “MY CUPCAKES!” (which oddly enough was followed by “when Sam hit me in the face with the beach ball”).

Everyone hung out on the deck and ate and played with the water tables for the first half of the party (there were around a dozen kids and twenty adults) and then some of the kids started funneling down to the grass to play with things like the sprinkler and the bubbles.

First we set up a little bubble blower…

… and then John broke out the giant bubble maker, which had everyone in awe of his skills. Until several kids made bigger bubbles than this on the first try.

The sprinkler was especially funny to watch since it was a bunch of kids standing around filling various cups and containers with water.

The water tables were also pretty constantly in use, so it was nice to have a few “stations” for kid activities while the adults chatted nearby without anyone being out of eyeshot.

Teddy didn’t get in on the water table, bubble, or sprinkler action, but he did woo his fair share of party-goers. Here’s John’s mom in her flamingo headband. Gotta love a lady who commits to a party wholeheartedly.

We kept the favors pretty simple too. Since one of the things in Clara’s longest-party-name-ever was “Pez” I found some dispensers at the dollar store for these pink & gold containers (30 cents each from Target) and tossed in a few other treats.

We also bought this pinata from Target but almost forgot to break it out. Some folks had already left when we ran in and got it, but the lingering crew had a ton of fun with it. Check out Louie with his gold chain and sunglasses on the right. Dude had moves.

It took about 100 swings, but it finally exploded and the kids scrambled to grab as much as they could.

As is the tradition, we also took a family photo, which is a pretty rare event for us (one of us is always holding the camera). In this case it ended up being even more momentous than usual since it’s the first photo of all four of us. Only took us a month…

Can we just pause for a second to soak up little Teddy. He’s so sweet I could eat him. But I won’t. And don’t even get me started on that little lady in John’s arms. When did she get so big? I tell her she’s not allowed to grow anymore but she just doesn’t listen.

Did you guys have any gatherings this weekend? Have you ever thrown a bunch of parties at one house over the years and then moved and marveled/feared making a new place work? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a house never feels homier than it does when it’s full of the people you love. In some ways even though we’ve almost lived here a year (how did that happen?!) this house didn’t fully feel “broken in” until Saturday. Just looking around seeing everyone out on the deck and our kids running around in the grass… well, it was pretty great. Even if there were giant piles of laundry lurking inside.