Kids & Pets

Teddy’s Photo Project

A lot of you have been asking if we’re taking weekly photos of Teddy, like we did with Clara for the first year of her life (you can read more about that project here, here, and here). The answer is yes! Although we had some fun putting a slightly different spin on it this time around. Here are his first two weekly shots:

Note: the number font is called Sullivan and the “weeks” font is called Big Mouth.

While we were tempted to do something entirely different for Teddy, we didn’t want to completely reinvent the wheel (when it came down to it, we really liked how Clara’s project turned out). So just like Clara’s project, Teddy’s has the same core elements: baby + fabric + photoshopped age.

But the two tweaks we made for his project were:

Teddy already has a more diverse wardrobe than John does (true story) thanks to hand-me-downs, gifts from relatives, and some serious sale rack stalking by yours truly, so coming up with a different outfit each week shouldn’t be too rough. Those suspenders above were brought back from London by my mom (is he not the most dapper two week old you’ve ever seen?). And in the background department, we decided that instead of using 52 fabrics throughout the year, we’ll cycle through around eight fairly simple ones – so we don’t distract from (or clash with) the clothing too much. These are all from JoAnn, except for the quilt I sewed him.

We’ve taken his first two photos in the same spot that we took most of Clara’s first pictures: on the daybed that used to be in our first home’s sunroom, which now acts as Clara’s big girl bed. Her room gets pretty awesome afternoon light, so it’s a great spot for them. Especially because Clara likes to help/coach/jump into a few random shots. And John’s Christmas reflector/diffuser has already come in handy for evening out any shadows.

And while we’re on the topic of documenting a baby’s growth, this seems like a good moment to share the pictures that we took throughout my pregnancy, which has been another frequently requested topic from you guys. We didn’t really share a lot of bump pictures as my first pregnancy progressed (they just showed up on the blog later in a grid like this), so we decided to do the same thing this time around – collecting them all and then making one grid of them at the end.

Actually John made the grid (you know he loves a good infographic) and it was also his idea to take my picture in front of the same bush in our backyard during each season to capture the ever-changing background as my belly grew. The bush exploded with pretty blooms on just about the exact day that Teddy was born, so that last photo was taken when he was just six days old.

But perhaps my favorite photo taken during this pregnancy is this one (blue trim and all!) – just because it was a Christmas miracle that Clara stood still enough for this long of an exposure.

How do you guys document your pregnancy? Do you get portraits taken by a pro? Cast your belly with plaster? Snap a series of photos in the same spot? And do you take weekly or monthly photos of your babies? When we started the project with Clara we weren’t sure if we could keep up with weekly pictures for her entire first year, but it turned into something that we really looked forward to, so I’m hoping we have as much fun with Teddy’s. So far, it has been a pretty great time. You should hear Clara coaching him from the sidelines. Might have to get that on tape…



More Room For Grumpy Snowman

Clara’s at an age where she beams with pride whenever we display her art. Nearly every painting, drawing, and stickered or glued creation that comes out of her school bag is met with the question “Can we hang this on my bell-etin board?!” (that’s how she says it). So we hooked her up with this.

The “bell-etin board” that she used to be referring to was this smaller fabric-covered cork board that hung in our office for the last eight months or so (it was originally made by Sherry for our old closet) – but it had been getting pretty crowded. And the patterned fabric mixed with her colorful creations made for sort of a busy look instead of letting Clara’s art do all the talking.

Sherry had the idea to turn things up a notch and take that cork board from window-to-window so that we’d have more room to display stuff – and so that it would more clearly define that little section of the room as Clara’s (and eventually Teddy’s) work space. So we started by hanging a thin wood base for the cork squares to be adhered. Not only would this make the squares hang more securely than individually tacking them up, it would solve a slight problem of the existing board: some of the pushpins poke all the way through the cork and into the wall, which would mean a plethora of wall holes over time from window to window if we skipped the backing.

Now we’ll only have a few screws to remove if we ever want to take this down, and a few small holes to fill – as opposed to a swiss-cheese-like wall full of divots.

The wood backing was made of three 2 x 4′ sheets of 5mm underlayment from Home Depot. All of them needed a little trim to fit the 43″ wide gap between the windows. I clamped them together tightly and cut them all with one slice of my circular saw.

Starting from the windowsill, I attached each board with a few 2″ wood screws each, using my stud finder to be sure they were going securely into studs.

We wanted the third board to stop just slightly below the window for a stepped-down inset effect, so Sherry stepped back and eyed things so I could mark where it needed to be cut with a pencil. I also sliced two thin strips of wood to act as a basic molding for the top and the bottom, just to give it a more polished look so the cork didn’t just end.

With the boards all cut and attached to the wall, we could start attaching the cork squares. We used this Loctite Spray Adhesive, since the back specifically said it worked for bonding cork to wood. It suggested spraying both surfaces, but since I didn’t want to spray indoors – I just spayed the back of the cork outside and Sherry carried each square in and stuck it up. Seems to have worked just fine so far.

Tiling the wall was pretty straightforward (read: it went really fast), especially since we could use full squares for most of it and we were tag teaming things. We did all of those first before doing any partial pieces.

Sherry marked the partial squares with a pen and a ruler and then we just used regular old scissors to cut them. We discovered that making small cuts (rather than using the entire length of the scissor blade) helped keep the cork from cracking, which made for a cleaner edge.

Here’s the finished cork board. Ideally the seams would be less visible (we even considered covering it in fabric or painting it a pattern, or just the plain wall color) but ultimately decided that once art went up the lines would be a lot less noticeable. So since we both liked the natural color and texture it added to the room, we opted to leave it as is for now.

Sherry literally sprinted to arrange Clara’s current body of work on the board the second we finished hanging it (picture her rubbing her hands together and whispering “faaaavorite part starts… now!” Clara helped with choosing what to put where, and after a few minutes of shuffling things around, we ended up here. The artist herself was also quick to assume the role of producing more stuff to hang, although we’ve explained that even with a bigger board, we’ll still need to switch things out to make room for new stuff. So far she’s cool with it. She even seems to like the challenge of choosing what to remove to make room for her newest creation.

As for the rest of her art, we have a box full of other paintings/drawings/crafts that we save, and Sherry has a new app on her phone called Artkive, which she uses to take/store photos of it, with the intention of making a photo book full of her creations someday. We think it’ll be really fun to look back on (both for us, and for Clara).

We’re really happy with how our new cork board is adding some personality and color to the office, and Clara couldn’t be more proud. We’ve realized it will get in the way of any curtains we might have hung, but we’ve been thinking about doing some inside-mount roman shades for the room anyway.

Oh and those felt name banners are a little homemade surprise that a sweet reader sent us (thanks so much Jes!) as a welcome/big sister gift for Teddy and Clara. I like that it sets the stage for Clara that she’ll eventually be sharing her gallery space. Although I’m sure we’ll have a tough time bumping some of her stuff up there. We’re especially enamored with Grumpy Snowman.

A clear family favorite is this drawing that came home from school one day last winter, where Clara had drawn a portrait of her soon-to-be-bigger family. She did it shortly after we told her that Sherry was having a boy, so it was a huge relief to see her embracing the idea of having a brother so quickly. Especially since she almost immediately started calling him “my baby.”

We’re also pretty big fans of this bear-on-a-stick that she made at school. It shows the evolution of her people drawing skills, since they went from just having heads to suddenly having bodies. Although some people still don’t get a torso, so this bear was pretty lucky.

You may have also noticed that our repurposed Campbell’s soup cans (the limited edition Warhol ones from this old project from two years ago) are still going strong.

The rest of the office still hasn’t made much progress, but with Teddy keeping one of us occupied pretty much at all times, there isn’t really a rush on getting the double-desk thing going just yet. For now, Clara will just have to be our most productive office-mate.