Eleanor’s Fifth Birthday Party

We had two birthday parties on Sunday. The first was for Eleanor’s friends, and the second, later in the day, was for our family and also celebrated Brandon’s birthday. We tried this last year, thinking that it was a good way to separate the events but still have everyone involved, and it went well. This year? It felt kind of bananas. But it went well too, so yay? (We were tired that night!)

Happy Birthday Sign on the Fireplace

We had a dozen five-year-olds in the house, and the party was fast and fun. I snapped most of these photos after they had left, but before our family came by.

Paper Lanterns and Horse Lights

Birthday Party, Dining Room

Hey look, a sneak preview of the books on the shelves! With a weird, giant horse balloon.

Horse Balloon

And more use of those giant balloons… There were three in all, and the kids loved carrying them around the house. (Brandon had them filled at the grocery store for $2/each with heart-shaped weights. The party store quoted $7/balloon with just string.)

Silly Baby Photo

That photo of E from when she was six months old still cracks me up!

The kids at the party spent most of their time up in the playroom, playing with Play Doh, using the toy kitchen, and trying on dress-up clothes. We didn’t want to interrupt them and steer them toward activities (like Pin the Tail on the Pony) that they might not really enjoy when they were already having fun, so we went with the play that was happening naturally. At one point, Eleanor and some of the other kids formed a marching band and they went through the house making a jolly racket, and my favorite getup was the girl who paired leopard-print kitty ears with black glasses and bongos. I like your style, young lady.

Pin the Tail on the Pony

(Eleanor was kind of bummed about not playing the pony tail game with her friends, but we did do it later when our family came over. The adults were all pretty sure the older kids cheated, because their tails were all right on top of each other in just the right spot.)

We put down a plastic tablecloth and rounded all the kids up when the pizzas we ordered had arrived. To keep them busy in their seats while we got the food ready, we had markers and pre-cut circles of paper that fit my button making machine. The kids ate while Brandon made their designs into magnets, which they took home at the end of the party along with their goody bags.

Kid-Made Magnets, and Goody Bags

After pizza came the birthday cake. I didn’t get a great shot of it because Brandon and I were both busy keeping up with all of the kids, but the cake looked similar to the one in my post on horse birthday party inspiration. Instead of bunting, I made some big paper hearts to go behind a toy horse.

But oh! The look on Eleanor’s face, and her friend’s hand on her arm. Love this shot.

Birthday Cake

And thus went our birthday celebration weekend. I don’t know if we’ll divide the parties up the same way next time though — we were all exhausted! I’m curious… do you combine the kids and the family into one party? Have them on separate days? Just do one or the other? We might need to rethink our approach.

The Built-in Bookshelves and Rolling Ladder in the Library

The library project is done! The shelves are in! The ladder is up!

Built-in Library Bookshelves and Rolling Library Ladder #makingitlovely

Well, it’s 95% done. Those three panels beneath the window seat are placeholders until the ones that match the rest are ready, and we need a cushion for the bench top. I haven’t decided whether I’ll add hardware to the doors yet (they have magnetic push latches inside), and I’ll probably switch out the outlet covers for wooden ones. The important thing though is that the shelves are in! The ladder is up!

Built-in Library Bookshelves and Rolling Library Ladder #makingitlovely

Our carpenter did great work and has solid craftsmanship, but I made some stupid mistakes by not being as hands-on during the design process as I should have. It was not a fun learning experience. I can get nitpicky and tell you what I don’t like — mainly proportion/scale issues that I should have been more mindful of — but overall I’m happy.

The rolling library ladder was provided by Custom Service Hardware, and it definitely makes the shelves. Brandon and I love it! Even our carpenter was impressed by its quality. The wheels brake automatically, and each kids’ weight is enough to engage the mechanism. August likes rolling the ladder, but he won’t climb. Eleanor would go to the top if we let her.

It arrived in pieces and unfinished (in our choice of wood, oak), but smooth and ready to finish. Those pieces, along with the rest of the wood for the library, were stained with Minwax Wood Finish in Early American to match the home’s existing trim.

Unfinished Wooden Ladder

I chose vertical roller brackets so that the ladder’s hardware could be supported by the vertical supports of the bookshelf, since the shelves are all adjustable. For finishes, I was between the hammered antique brass and oil rubbed bronze options. Brass would have been a better match to the existing metal finishes in the house, but I’m not a big fan of the hammered look so I went with bronze. Mixing metals doesn’t bother me when they’re complementary, and I think the almost-black color looks nice and is more understated than brass may have been.

Rolling Library Ladder Hardware

Our ladder is nine feet tall. It doesn’t stick out too far into the room and I like the look of the ladder in the climbing position, but its rolling hardware gives us the option of storing it upright when not in use.

Rolling Library Ladder Hardware

Rolling Library Ladder from Custom Service Hardware

The shelves were finished on Friday and on Saturday morning, we quickly unloaded about 40 boxes of books onto the shelves. We had two parties this weekend so I haven’t had time to take more photos yet, but just like that, this house felt much more like our home. I’m so glad we put these shelves in, mistakes along the way and all.

Paper Flower Wedding

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