Clara turned three on Tuesday (Threesday?) so we’ve spent the last few days marveling at this wonderful little lady before us and wondering where the heck the time went.
And just like we did for her two previous birthdays, we marked the end of another 12 months by customizing the fabric backdrop for her photo project. You might remember that this tradition started on her first birthday, when we used my handwriting to create a pattern that we printed on fabric using Spoonflower (here’s how we did that).
Spoonflower came to the rescue again last year, but we took advantage of Clara’s artistic abilities and converted one of her scribbles into the fabric that time (here’s how we did that).
Last year’s fabric turned out a bit fainter than we would’ve preferred, so this year we knew we wanted to (a) involve Clara again and (b) make sure it came out bold and colorful. So we decided to just unleash Clara on the fabric itself…
Since it promised to be a messy project (if all went as hoped!) we headed to the new house where there were lots of big, not-too-precious spaces (like the deck) and taped down a drop cloth. Then we taped the cotton fabric down right in the middle of it.
For the paints we went with these little pots of Crayola Kids’ Paint (from Target) because it’s what Clara’s used to and it’s washable and non-toxic. We contemplated using some sort of fabric paint so her masterpiece could be preserved, but ultimately these kid-friendly paints were better suited to the free reign we were able to give our budding 3-year-old.
She chose pink first and basically just went to town pouring it right out of the bottle and smearing it with a foam brush.
Here’s a quick video of our painter in action.
She even added some hand prints and footprints. They’re our favorite.
It took about 30 minutes or so for her to fill the whole two yards of fabric with paint splotches. Right as we were wrapping up we got the idea to let her paint her shirt, right where we typically would photoshop the circle with her age on it. We figured why not give into the theme, right?
So with the paint still wet and Clara still a mess, we dragged the whole drop cloth over to the side of the house where we could tape it up to create a spot to shoot her photo.
Despite being dangerously close to losing all light (and losing the patience of a girl who was so far doing a very good job listening) we managed to snag this shot at the start of a jump. Jumping is kind of her default motion these days, so it was perfect. You can read how we add the number to her shirt in photoshop here.
We also caught a bunch of pretty hilarious outtakes, which you can browse over on Young House Life today. Sherry calls this her Stomp The Yard pose.
And with that folks, we’re calling it a wrap on her monthly pictures. I know it would be fun to keep them going, but we think she has started to outgrow enjoying them (read: it’s becoming more challenging to convince her it’ll be more exciting than doing whatever else she’s doing). So rather than force it, we’ll use this as a natural stopping point – although we’d still love to break out a new fabric for each birthday – and maybe even for her half birthday – depending how she feels.
The 25 pictures above are the ones that we took between age 1 and age 3, and the 52 weekly photos that we snapped during her first year are below. You can see all 77 of them at full size over here.
Oh and speaking of photo traditions – Clara’s also lucky enough to have spent all of her birthdays (including her actual birth date) with three of her grandparents. Our favorite thing about studying those photos is noticing than each adult re-wears the same shirt at least once.
Is anyone else out there making their own fabric? Wrapping up a photo project? Letting your kid loose with little pots of paint? Happy weekend everyone!
Happy birthday to your little girl! Love the paint project and paint shirt! Couldn’t help but notice that your mom’s long hair looks great! Enjoy your weekend and Clara’s birthday party!
Haha, I thought the same thing–got through the whole post and my key takeaway was “Damn, who did Sherry’s mom’s hair this year and can I get their number??”
Haha! We joke that she’s Benjamin Button in these pictures (getting younger).
Justynn Y says
THAT WAS MY FIRST THOUGHT. “Damn, Sherry’s mom looks amazing.”
Kristin H. says
And John’s dad pretty much takes the cake for happiest smile ever!! Makes you smile just to look at him :)
Your mom is getting younger in each picture! Her hair looks amazing too!
Hahaha. I literally just said to myself, “wow, Sherry’s Mom looks like she’s getting younger in each photo!” How funny!
Wow! Happy Birthday to Clara! Your photo project is beautiful!
Chasity Grome says
I would love to watch the cute video you posted, but it says that it’s set to private! :(
So sorry, it’s all fixed! Usually if that happens and you refresh it should be all better :)
Happy Birthday Clara! This is all so adorable! I love the painted fabric and she is just the cutest thing ever. It’s crazy how fast they grow. Our little girl is going to be 2 in a few months and we are wondering (as you probably are too!) where the time has gone! Hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating (and putting in floors, haha)!
Haha, thanks Andrea!
This is all so adorable! I love the painted fabric and she is just the cutest thing ever. It’s crazy how fast they grow. Our little girl is going to be 2 in a few months and we are wondering (as you probably are too!) where the time has gone! Hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating (and putting in floors, haha)!
OH MY GOSH! That compliation of the 52 weekly photos is the cutest thing I have ever seen (and I have seen alot). Almost makes me want to have another kid just to do that project (almost). ;)
Happy birthday to your little sweetie.
Not gonna lie…this makes me so sad!! I love these photos :)
Sherri J. says
I like this idea to create a photoshoot. I’ve been toying with the idea of using one room in my basement as a “color room” for a similar project. Just inviting people over as friends and allowing them to do whatever they want on a white wall.
Wow…Sherry,your Mom keeps looking younger and younger!
Happy Birthday to the Bean! My son will be 3 in July. I can’t wait to see pics of her party! They are always adorable and you have great ideas.
Our little guy, Will, turned 3 last Thursday. It was a really happy day, but so crazy to see how much he is growing up. But so far I’m finding this stage to be tremendously fun. Of course he never wants to do anything when I want him to do it. The battle of wills has begun.
Happy birthday to Clara. It’s especially fun reading about what Clara is up to, since her and Will are so close in age.
She is ADORABLE!!
Happy 3rd Birthday, Clara!!!
[email protected] says
Oh my goodness! Happy Birthday to Clara! I can’t believe she’s 3 already!
Seriously, Nonna?! She gets even more beautiful every year! How is she doing that?? Such a lovely family.
Happy birthday sweet Clara!
Haha! In a few years she’ll be younger than me!
Love the grandparents picture! I might have to steal that idea. :) How is it possible that they all look younger?!
I love this one!! I did a little photo shoot like this with my nephew when he turned two. We let him go to town with paint on a bunch of large sheets of paper (I work for a commercial printer). I used some of the photos for the invitations and adhered them to cards I made using the paper he painted on (the footprints and hand prints were our favorite parts too). Kids + paint = my jam!!
Happy birthday, Clara!!! :]
Such a cute idea!
What an awesome way to look back at the memories! I love that you let her go crazy and paint the fabric. SO sweet! Happy Birthday Clara!
Totally misty eyed and sniffly. Can’t believe she’s 3 already! Such a sweet beautiful little girl. Happy Birthday Clara :-)
Happy Birthday Clara! She’s such a sweet girl (with such sweet parents!)
Christina @ Homemade Ocean says
I am so sad to see these photo projects disappear….but I really don’t know how you have done it this long!!! Kudos to you for all the hard work that goes into every shot :)
AND HAPPY BRITHDAY LITTLE CLARA BOO…it’s crazy to have watched you grow from a little belly bump to such an adorable little lady!!!!
gah! i may have to paint some fabric for my own bday photo this year ;) super cute! i think going to once a year at this point is more than sufficient to ‘document’ her growth & changes (moreover its not like the formal bday photo will be the ONLY photo of her throughout the year). happy cake day to C!
Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms says
What a fun idea with the painted fabric! I look forward to seeing how you make that project into another one! Happy (belated) birthday Clara!
wow can’t believe she’s 3! it has been an absolute pleasure watching her grow since the very beginning. (i am a looooong time reader. basically since you did that upholster your own headboard post, i have been hooked!) Happy birthday little lady!
Wendy @ New Moms Talk says
Thanks for the reminders of what can be done!
I’m working on something sego lily based for our girl for her birthday, as Susanna means “lily” and she was born in Utah. (Utah’s state flower is the sego lily- a gorgeous flower!)
Perhaps when she’s a bit older we’ll use a homemade sego lily stamp for a special birthday bit.
I had a dream the other day that you guys got so big in the biz that your videos were like full on movie sets. Clara was a teenager and she looked exactly like she does now except teen size. In the movie two guys are in love with her; the guy that she didn’t pick was so heart broken that he ended up jumping into the ocean. Then the other guy felt so bad that he went in to rescue him. Quite the drama she caused and not house related at all. haha. Have a great weekend, guys!
Oh my gosh! So much drama!
Happy birthday Clara and I hope you enjoy your dragon party.
Sherry, please don’t take this the wrong way but your mum looks like she is getting younger as the years have passed. Good genes for you!!!
I keep asking what her secret is but she just laughs and says “coffee and gardening!”
Y’all have the cutest parents ever. It’s so great that Clara gets to grow up with them being such an active part of their lives.
Happy birthday, Clara!
…an active part of HER life. (Sorry, haven’t had coffee yet!)
Sherry, how old is your mom? 35???!!! The math doesn’t add up. Happy Birthday to your little girl!!! What a beautiful family.
Haha! She says she’s 82. She’s hilarious about age. Embraces the heck out of it. Maybe that’s the secret?
Ok first Sherry do you mean you grandma is 82? Because there is no way that lady in the picture is 82 I thought at first it was your sister or cousin or something!!! If so man you got some great genes. Is every women in your family so gorgeous!!??? Lucky ladies.. And second do you guys realize the movement you and pinterest created with these pictures. It is every where every one is doing it they are even selling the onesies with the numbers already on them or selling the iron on’s to put on the onesies. I think of you guys every time I see it. :) When you started the blog did you realize the impact you would have?
She jokes that she’s 82! Shes not really 82, but she’s completely not afraid of aging, which I love. And as for the numbered onesie thing, we think it’s cool! I don’t think it was all us though since they have been making shirts with labels and ages on them forever, so we just did it in photoshop instead ;)
paint and kids is a truly wonderful thing. Especially if you can give them completely free rein. There is just something so very tactile about paint. It’s bliss.
We have spent many hours painting with the kids: from collage type things, to jackson-pollock splatter painting (we did a series of four – one for each family member – as a sort of ‘house christening’ present to ourselves), to a collective footprint painting that we made for father’s day a few years ago (that was a blast: take three bit sheets of fancy paper from Michael’s – probably about $5/sheet?; tape down a drop cloth, tape the sheets on top. Put one colour paint in a big 9×13 pan for 1 set of footprints. Then put a second colour in another pan for a second set of foot prints. Tell kids to be careful as it is slippery and then have them walk across the paper several times, using both colours individually at first, and then the blend that results from the mixing of the two. Then pick your favourite two sheets and frame them and hang on the wall.
But I haven’t done fabric. Our kids are older so we could probably unleash them with fabric paint. Methinks this could become a fine duvet cover for my younger, colour-obsessed child…. plotting and planning…
happy birthday, clara. May your days be filled with creative messes. the best kind.
Okay, first two years John’s mom holds her, the next two it’s John’s dad; to keep the pattern going, for birthdays 4 & 5 Nonna needs to be holding her. :)
John noticed that too! So funny!
I noticed the same pattern, but Clara is going to be bigger than Nonna by then!
Chelsea in Richmond says
I was coming here to post the very same thing. Sherry’s mom totally needs to be the one holding her next time! :-)
Just a coincidence to stop at 77 photos?? Lucky number 7?
Isn’t that amazing how it worked out?!
From the first picture in this post (with Clara’s profile) and the instagram photo on your sidebar with Sherry’s mom, I think Clara is starting to resemble Sherry’s mom. Who do you you guys think she looks like?
We found a few photos of me at age 3 and we look a lot alike (and my mom and I look alike too)! We also see John in there too though!
Girlfriend just gets more and more adorable.
Reshma Sanjeev says
Happy Birthday to Clara ! Love the painted fabric.
Happy 3rd birthday Clara! It goes so fast doesn’t it? My son just turned 2 a couple weeks ago and my daughter is going to be 9 next week, where does time go? I love all these pics, they make me smile! After seeing Claras weekly photos I did something similar. I knew I would never be ambitious enough to find amazing fabric for every week so instead I laid Camden on that useless but cute quilt that comes with the cribset. It was neat to see how he grew week to week. Thanks for the idea, those are some of my fav pics, especially now that he never sits still and runs around like a maniac. ;)
That’s so sweet!
What a special project, way to see it through three years!
I had a small paint project making ninja headbands using a paint marker to add ninja font initials on jersey fabric for my son’s 4th birthday party tomorrow – his birthday is today! The headbands are so cute and the stretch of the jersey makes them comfy too!
Julia @ Chris Loves Julia says
I regret not doing something like this. Although, we have A LOT of photos of Greta. This is really something special. I recently came across these birthday photos of a 5 year old girl and I had to share them:
Really cool project and so inspiring!
Happy 3 years to Clara! She’s speaking so clearly these days, especially compared to the one video of her chatter as she wanders through the house. Her picture looks very “Hooray for 3!”
Jebber Jay says
Ummmm …. Where is her right leg in the photo of her painting her shirt? ;-). Adorable post, on so many levels. :D
Melanie Kostrzewa says
This is my favorite one!! What a way to end something that will provide so many fond memories for you guys. I’ve been following since Clara was 20 weeks or so, so it’s been fun to see these pop up! Too bad it’s washable paint, would be fun to use that fabric in her new room somehow. Maybe in dad’s shed/garage? Well done with this project! LOVE IT.
Whitney Dupuis says
Love the fabric idea! Happy birthday Clara!
I haven’t even met you all in real life but I got kind of misty reading this. Wasn’t she just a baby five minutes ago?
Anyway, happy birthday Clara! I love the bold painted fabric/shirt/knees/etc!
Kate Ross says
every time y’all post a monthly picture, or a clara video, or basically talk about her, I’m reminded what precious and awesome parents you are. what a beautiful, adventurous and exciting childhood you are gifting her! You guys are an inspiration to my husband and I. Happy 3rd birthday, Clara!
This is so messed up…that almost made me cry. I think it is a painful reminder of how all too quickly childhood flies by. My own daughter is 12 1/2 and fighting all the pre-teen impulses (like hating us), where did the time go?
I always tell new parents to prepare, because time speeds up once you have a little one. I like to dish out unsolicited optomistic advice like that.
Happy Birthday Clara, it has been a joy watching you grow on the interwebs!
Kristin @ bliss-athome.com says
I love it! She’s such a cutie! xo Kristin
Happy Birthday Clara! That photo is the essence of being three (we have one here too – he is all about jumping, hiding and collecting interesting sticks). Best wishes to the birthday girl all the way from Western Australia
Your fuzzy-headed baby is becoming quite the young lady!
Full of spunk and sass! Who does she get that from?
What a fun way to capture the monthly milestones of young Clara’s life. Thanks for sharing!
Adorable video. What great pics to have all the grandparents together each year for Ms. Clara.
Crystal @ 29 Rue House says
LOVE IT!! I saw the picture the other day on here and knew she had to have made the masterpiece!
The grandparent pictures are so sweet. I love that both sides are together!
Rebecca S says
Happy Birthday to Clara! Tuesday was my birthday too actually. My 3 year old son kept asking me if I was 3 like him. I told him that I was 32…so three – two. He took that as “three too” and was very excited that we were the same number. So cute LOL.