ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, DRAW

Call me lazy, but I often shy away from fancy crafts with my kiddos. Remember the easiest Valentine project ever? It’s not that I don’t appreciate exploring different media and investing time in a well thought out project, it’s just not always realistic for our every day. And there is something magical (and scary) about a plain sheet of paper. I can still be intimidated by starting from scratch myself. But I also know that the more you do it, the easier it gets.Jill-Smith-letter-writing-01So this summer I have found myself offering up thick white paper and markers to the kiddos more often than anything else. One day last week, I threw some easy snacks in bowls and threw out a blanket so we could draw. We seem to have a lot of friends with summer birthdays, so I asked my kiddos to draw some cards. It was good because it gave them a goal or at least a starting point for what to draw. And a nice stack of pre-drawn cards around here will cut down on me saying, “We have to leave in 5 minutes to get to the birthday party. Put on your shoes, brush your teeth, go potty, oh and draw a really meaningful card for your friend…you have exactly 43 seconds to do it!”

Simple summer drawing for the win!Jill-Smith-letter-writing-02Jill-Smith-letter-writing-03Supplies needed: Paper and any type of crayon or marker. We used some color-changing ones, very similar to these.
Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who makes a great pen pal.

WELCOME HOLT FISHER

Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-05On July first, I became an aunt again. This time to a little boy named Holt Fisher. I love being a mom, but Holt and his big sister Harper have shown me how much I love being an aunt too. It is such a fun bond.

Before Holt arrived, we threw a baby shower for him. My sister-in-law chose the most beautiful color palate of cobalt blue and purple. The whole day was gorgeous. You can see more of the party planning details on her site.1 horz 1 vertI designed the shower invitation, which I wanted to be completely personal and something that they could save for his baby book. We decided since we knew what his name would be that it would be fun to include it on the invitation. I hand lettered all of the details with brush and ink then scanned them in. I had them letterpress printed on a century-old press which added to the overall charm. The ink was mixed especially to match the cobalt blue on the fabric, and I chose a double thick cotton cover stock paper to print on so that you can see and feel the ink impression on the paper. I love how they turned out and feel they were a perfect first impression for guests.Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-08We had such a fun time celebrating (and attempting to get a photo of our little family of four…see the best we could do?! It’s imperfect silliness is just perfect to me.)Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-01

Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-03Welcome sweet Holt! You are already so loved.

Event photography by Elizabeth Messina.
Invitation photography by Rebecca Sanabria. (Event address changed to be an imaginary one.)

Food by Maili Halme, desserts by Solvang Bakery, fabric by Guildery, Flowers by Moon Canyon, Rentals by Found, tableware by Casa de Perrin, favor bags by Maika Goods.

Jenny from the Block - OH how I love this! Holt and big sis Harper are beyond precious, as are you and your sweet, silly family, and I **LOVE** the blue & purple baby shower palette. (Blue is my favorite color.) Beauty all around!

Jenny from the Block - P.S. I also love being an aunt to my two nieces-to-pieces. It is a role I cherish separately and distinctly from my role as mother to my own two munchkins!

Amber - Omg.. That’s so beautiful, I want you and Tiffani to be my party planners..lol. Jill, you really did an awesome job. The invitation was perfect too, everything came together perfectly. Best wishes and congratulations Tiffani, Holt & Harper are just adorable.

FORTY

Jill-Smith-forty-musclesTwo weeks ago, I turned 40. And we thought forty trips around the sun deserved a party. But the idea of going clubbing or getting super fancy didn’t resonate with me, so we almost abandoned the idea of a party entirely in exchange for a little family celebration or a weekend away. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head. I want a kid’s party. Um, but with no kids. We would only invite adults.Jill-Smith-forty-holding-handsJill-Smith-forty-friendsThe only exception was that we did have our own kids here for the beginning of the party. I really wanted to celebrate with them and have them get to see our friends (and a lot of their friends’ parents) but after dinner, they went to my parent’s house for a sleepover ending their night with popcorn and a movie which was great because they were pooped.Jill-Smith-forty-laurieJill-Smith-forty-with-woochieThere are a few reasons why throwing a kids’ party was perfect. Together my husband and I have thrown 9 kid parties in our backyard. We’ve got it down. And we’ve been to a zillion kid parties, so we get to see all the fun but almost never get to hit a piñata or bounce in the bouncy house ourselves. I kinda wanted a turn.Jill-Smith-forty-invitationPlanning the details of this party was great fun. I hand-lettered an invitation that totally made me giggle.Jill-Smith-forty-inflatablesWe rented an inflatable slip and slide and a gigantic 75’ water obstacle course with a climbing wall, tunnels and a slide. I must have run that thing 97 times. It had 2 lanes, so we could race relays or just run next to a good friend and laugh the whole way.Jill-Smith-forty-two-slideJill-Smith-forty-one-slideWe filled up kiddie pools and ordered 1,000 water balloons. Years ago, we found a company that will deliver pre-filled water balloons to your doorstep and my fingers have been thanking me ever since.

We sprinkled our yard with all our fun toys like Spike Ball, a slack line, hoola hoops and pink polka dotted beach balls. Good friends brought more great games like Corn Hole and Beersbee. Some friends just opted for our good old-fashioned swing set.Jill-Smith-forty-foodThe Eatsie Boys food truck served up dishes with great names like “What the Falafel” (house-made fried chickpea patties, peace in the middle east salad and roasted garlic) and “Shazam” (grilled chicken breast, arugula, feta, tomato, avocado puree, tarragon mayo, chimichurri, ciabatta tzatziki sauce on a challah wheat bun) as well as trays and trays of smoked jalapeño and harissa hummus served on fried naan. The food was amazing.Jill-Smith-forty-drinksFor drinks, we filled galvanized steel buckets of ice with a variety of craft beer and wine. And we offered one signature cocktail, “A Pile of Pink”, from Bad News Bar which they kegged for us. I picked it because it was pink, but the bonus was it tasted delicious too. Dry gin, grapefruit, lime, acid phosphate, Herbsaint, Peychaud’s Bitters and soda. We garnished the glasses with grapefruit, lime and mint. And those glasses? They are plastic and I found them at Crate and Barrel. We can’t have breakable glasses at a kid’s party!Jill-Smith-forty-baby-photosJill-Smith-forty-chalkOutside of baby photos of me everywhere and fabric flags that my mom and I made, there was really no décor. We kept it simple with colorful napkins from IKEA and Bamboo plates and silverware. We did need some extra seating, so we opted to rent 6 wooden tables, which were really gorgeous. Instead of renting chairs, we found that we could purchase these from IKEA for less expense. And they will be nice to have for our next (real) kid party coming up before we know it.

Wooch surprised me with a cake from Acadian Bakers and a piñata that he said looked like me. Ha! I’m forty and a luau lady. Best day ever.Jill-Smith-forty-old-schoolJill-Smith-forty-jumpLastly, we are strong believers that the people make the party. Our group of friends was up for absolutely anything. They truly brought the fun out of the party. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who wanted a turn at being a kid again—a good reminder that age is just a number and growing up is optional.Jill-Smith-forty-cakeMuch went into this kid party that required adult preparation, so I am beyond grateful for my husband and all his hard work. Even my parents, who always threw great parties for me when I really was a kid, were hauling ice and stacking napkins like the pros they are. Thanks, Mom and Dad! And for all the loved ones that couldn’t be at the party but called, texted or emailed me on my special day, trust me when I say that I felt the love and hugs just as much.

Food by The Eatsie Boys.
Signature cocktail by Bad News Bar.
Cake by Acadian Bakers.
Water balloons from Filled Water Balloons.
Plastic wine glasses from Crate and Barrel.
Inflatables by Sky High Party Rentals.
Table rental from Darryl & Co.

Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who I just love being friends with. Thank you sweet friend for coming to celebrate with us.

Andrew - Ah, this is fantastic! You and Wooch have really made a beautiful family and it looks like you guys have a great life and great friends. Looking beautiful as always – 40 ain’t phasing you!

Send me a note sometime and lets catch up.

-Andrew

Rebecca Kahlden - Awesome party!!! I threw myself a huge 40th party as well.1975 themed with a taco truck, kegs of beer, games, fancy drinks but with kids since I don’t have any. It was the best birthday EVER. I had so much fun and felt like a kid too. Happy belated birthday, good to see you are doing well and welcome to the Fabulous Forties!!!!
Rebecca

Alyssa - This is so cool Jill! I love love love it! What a way to bring more PLAY! to the party!

Jen Quinn - Best “kid party” I’ve EVER been to! Never grow up, Jill-Jill!❤️

THE ART OF FUN

Jill-Smith-papercity-dutch-doorPaperCity magazine recently did a feature on our home and family in their July 2015 issue. Wooch and I looked at each other and laughed initially when they asked to come shoot our home because we’ve seen many of the past interior features, and we felt that our home and style didn’t exactly fit in. We are and our home is such a work in progress. Because there are many projects we still want to do sometimes we forget that what we have done so far is pretty darn cool. Having a team come in with a new eye made us see the big beautiful picture all over again. This is an inside look into our sweet, silly family exactly where and how we are now. It captures our daily lives. How we love mixing work and play. Mixing indoors and outdoors (natural light and natural wood are a big yes). Mixing a good amount of art and sometimes a good amount of mess. Wooch and I are both very lucky that the jobs we chose allow us a flexible schedule and loads of time at home. We can hop over to a park to meet friends in the middle of the day or decide to pitch a tent in our own backyard. Our home is far from ‘perfect’ or ‘done’ but it is soooo perfectly us in a nutshell because we like to play as much as possible with our kids.

Here are a few excerpts from the July issue, as well as bits of the interview that didn’t make the cut. All questions posed by Steven Hempel for PaperCity.

Jill-Smith-papercity-nook1 horz 1 vertTell me about how the home came about.
Jill: We were renting and had considered moving out of Houston a million times. But once we had our first kiddo, we realized how nice it was to be in a big city that wasn’t crazy expensive, had arts and culture and diversity and an airport with such a wide reach, so here we are. My parents are also here, which is huge for us. We bought a home with the intention of remodeling, but after much debate, we changed our minds and built new.
Wooch: We worked with architect Joe Milton of Milton Architects, who has a Clint Eastwood squint, a John Wayne swagger and is as easy as Cool Hand Luke. He was great for us and patient with the initial idea of renovating our 1942 home. Five bids later, we learned it would be foolish to spend that much money to renovate this particular house if we planned on staying for long. So he took what we liked most about the home and accentuated it in a new design that retains much of the character of the original home.

Jill-smith-papercity-stairsWhat did you know you wanted to incorporate from the beginning?
Jill: From our first meeting with Joe, we knew that we wanted to do some really fun and different things, like incorporating a fire pole from the second floor down to the first, and installing a slide on our stairs. We like playful things, and we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. What we didn’t know is how hard it is to do fun and different things when building a home! But Wooch found some very nice firemen (seriously) and got some great information concerning our fire-pole installation. And we found artist Sam Jones, who built our slide, which is my favorite permanent fixture in our home. It’s made of old bowling-alley floors that Sam carved and sanded to fit perfectly. It’s truly amazing. And every morning, our kids go down it in their pajamas on their way to breakfast. My father, who is a retired landscape architect, came up with a brilliant idea of a 360-degree pass-through area behind secure gates for safe play, protecting peace of mind, dogs and kids.

Jill-Smith-papercity-daybedJill-Smith-papercity-giggleYour thoughts on parenting…
Jill: I love being a mom. It sounds cliché, but it is so true. I love spending time with my kids, playing with them, sneaking glances at them when they’re sleeping and getting to experience everything with them. That’s not to say that sometimes they can be little twerps and make me question if I’m doing a good job or not!
Wooch: And I love being a dad. It’s by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it truly has the biggest return in joy. As a parent, I’m reminded everyday to be patient, kind and honest. This, along with Jill telling me to “be patient, kind, and honest.” Often.

Jill Smith papercity fly1 horz 1 vertFavorite things to do as a family? Favorite places to visit?
Jill: We play Uno and poker, build train tracks, bike around our neighborhood, dance and eat pancakes on Saturday mornings, take vacations and read stories. A favorite place to visit is California, because we have family there. Our kids would probably say their favorite place to visit is an ice cream shop.
Wooch: Can’t leave out sidewalk-chalk body outlines and Big Wheel race tracks. We enjoy lots of board games, putting puzzles together, and we definitely love to travel together.

Jill-Smith-papercity-porchI’d like you to give me some thoughts about the ‘fabric’ of your neighborhood as well?
Jill: I feel like there are a wide variety of people in our neighborhood, but we all value the trees and the space. It’s small enough to feel cozy but eclectic enough to be interesting.
Wooch: We find the neighborhood peaceful, eclectic, and appealing within the realms of the big city. It is a community of passionate people old, young, gay, straight, family, and single who find value in their environment. We like green spaces and more often than not, we like each other.

Jill-Smith-papercity-snugglePlease give me your thoughts on family in general…I know it is a big priority in both of your lives.
Jill: Family is everything, I’m grateful for my parents and my family that I had growing up, and I’m grateful for the little family that we’ve made.
Wooch: Ditto on what Jill said. We are family, and we feel everyone contributes to each other’s well-being. It is important for us to take care of each other, and we are fortunate to have some pretty amazing role models to follow.

Importance of structure (or lack of) for the day…
Jill: We have a fluid schedule, and I like to let the kids help choose what they are in the mood to do. But at nighttime, I can be a strict one. Sleep is important, and I love to go to bed early. Thankfully our kids do too, then they wake up at the crack of dawn, smiles on and ready to go.
Wooch: Well said! I believe sleep is one of the most important gifts we can allow for our children.

Jill Smith papercity YAYA few words on balance…for the body, the mind, the family.
Jill: I am no where near qualified to tell people what to do, nor do I feel perfectly balanced. But I AM happy, and I know that in life we evolve and go through different stages. So right now I’m embracing the “do a lot of laundry and clean up a lot and laugh a lot and realize that it really is great” stage. I’ll try to keep looking at the big picture. And to not to complain or make mountains out of molehills. I think my parents are a wonderful example of balance and happiness, so I’ll look to them.
Wooch: Uh huh

1 horz 1 vertWhat is your favorite Karaoke song?
Jill: Trust me on this one, you never ever want me to karaoke for you or anyone else in a 5 mile radius of me and a microphone.
Wooch: “What Does the Fox Say?” by Ylvis

Who is the better dancer?
Jill: Wooch. Dammit.
Wooch: Jill taught me everything I know. We love to dance!

1 horz 1 vertWho cooks?
Jill: The lovely take out chefs at Coltivaire, Down House and Revival Market. Kidding (sort of!) I’m the one who gets food to the table, yet neither one of us are great cooks. I joke that I curate meals like an art curator brings art together in an exhibit, I bring healthy, whole and simple food items to the table together and we eat. It’s like a simple picnic every night for dinner.
Wooch: I grill and she curates…

Jill Smith papercity kid room

Jill-Smith-papercity-pillowsThe lessons you have learned from it all.
Jill: I’m definitely still learning. I think it is important be patient and be kind. Think about how other people feel. And humor normally helps everything. Laugh at yourself and tell silly stories.
Wooch: You never stop learning, and realizing our kid’s best education is how we treat each other daily and the people in which we surround ourselves. Humor is always good as well as being self-deprecating.

1 horz 1 vertThank you to Steven Hemple, Michelle Aviña and the team at PaperCity. You made it so fun and are welcome to come over and play anytime.

Art direction by Michelle Aviña.
Photography by Jenny Antill Clifton. Assisted by Maggie Cheatham.
Hair and make up by: Tonya Riner.
Architect for our home: Joe Milton Architects.
Interior design for studio: Ann Wolf.
Artist who created our slide: Sam Jones.

April Bryan - Jill – Nick and I enjoyed reading this and seeing how blessed you and Wooch are. We miss you both and wish you the best. Such cute kids

Camala - I am obsessed with your fun house! What a wondefful house to grow up in!!❤️

paul - Love, love, love it!

Holly Rice - Loved reading the article about you guys and the house. Look forward to seeing you in NB. Love Holly Rice