Baby Steps

Crawling to standing to walking to climbing… such exciting yet saddening milestones as we watch our babies gain their ever growing independence... and need mommy just a little bit less.

At this time last year, 17 other mommies and I planned a combined First Birthday Party for our little ones. I recently wrote about the party hats we each made for our baby (I made Myla an Owl Party Hat) and along with that we each picked a name of another baby in the group for whom we would buy a present for (I picked Colten). I couldn't really decide on something to buy so I chose to make a present instead.

Since all our little babies were about to walk if they weren't already, I thought a personalized step stool would be a great gift and something that would grow with him. Plus, I knew I always wanted to make one for Myla and this would serve as a good practice run. Since this project involved power tools for cutting the wood, I knew I would have to ask Justin for help and it was a great excuse to get creative with my hubby. We found some ideas online as a place to begin and we worked together to design how we would put it together. Justin even suggested to use his router to curve the outside edges which was an excellent design idea (I just love when he gets creative). After assembling the step stool, except for the hinged lid, and giving it a good sanding - I began thinking of themes and drafting designs. I decided on Race Cars. What little boy doesn't love cars? Plus, it's a theme that will grow with him for the next several years as he uses it at the sink, climbing into bed, or helping mom in the kitchen.

I really wish I had taken more photos during the process and of course, a better "finished" photo (please excuse the photoshopped background - my messy table didn't make a good backdrop). Anyways, here's a few helpful hints for a design like this. 

  • I used red acrylic paint with a foam brush and really worked it into the wood. I even rubbed with a towel so a little bit of the wood grain would be seen through it - almost like a stain. I used Martha Stewart's paint from Michaels - it's really some of the best acrylic craft paint I've come across.
  • I used painter's tape to mask off and create the lines down the center top/front and for the checkered pattern on the sides - although only for the white part. I used a ruler to mark off the black squares and carefully painted with a flat, square brush. I also continued the double white lines on the under side of the lid to add some interest when the lid was opened.
  • I traced the circles for the number using a few different round objects and carefully painted them making sure to also cover the pencil lines I traced.
  • I printed out Colten's name and the Number "1" on my printer (after choosing a racing font). Once I had the size just right, I flipped the paper over and outlined it pressing hard with a pencil. Then I flipped it back over and taped it into position on the stool and outlined again on the right side. This allowed the pencil marks on the back to transfer to the stool. Then, I removed the paper and carefully painted it - the same flat, square brush I used for the checkered pattern worked perfectly for this font.
  • I gave the entire stool two coats of a clear spray finish to help protect the paint.

We finished the stool off by attaching the lid with two hinges and I placed very small felt pads on the front corners so when the lid slammed down (as I can picture any toddler wanting to do) it would help protect the stool itself, as well as mommy's and daddy's ears.

And just for fun, here is a picture of our 18 babies all lined up as we sang Happy Birthday! Still can't believe we managed to get a few pictures like this.

Having many other creative mommy friends, it turned out I wasn't the only one to make a gift for another baby at the party. That other handmade gift gave me creative inspiration to make one for Myla - and I figured Justin would get a chance to use his router again. I'll blog about that in a future post… as well as Myla's step stool.