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!❤️

all things birthday » Jill Smith - […] year, one of my favorites is the party flag bunting. We’ve hung them for every single party (and my 40th birthday party too). In 2009, I convinced my mom to help me make 85 million yards of them. I only know because she […]

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

Kendra Perry Russell - Jill

Do you and Brady still polka like you did in college? SFA orientation dances were the best when you two polka together!!

Linda Taylor - I love the slide! What is a 360-degree pass-through area behind secure gates. Do you have a picture?

admin - I don’t have a photo, but it just means that we have a partial front yard that is behind a gate also!

Amy - Hi! I dream about making a slide for my daughter in house.
Your slide is so beautiful and lovely! How did you make it? Do you have any tips on how to find something similar? Mine would be steeper, I have a loft and the level below where the side would go is maybe 4m
Best, Amy
Sweden

X - Pity not credited…

https://instagram.com/p/BK78D4JjAsk/

admin - Agree! I wish they credited both our home and the photographer when they shared our slide on their account. Thanks for sharing!

admin - Hi Amy! Thank you for the kind comments about our home. We had an artist custom build the slide for us on site. He used wood from a bowling alley that had been torn out. We love it, but I’d recommend getting someone out to look at all the pros and cons with you at your home. Our slide is not too steep, but still very fast! All the best to you!

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Blanket Fort?

JS098When I was a kid, I used to gather tons of sheets and pillowcases and section my room into a million little cozy spots. With wooden clothespins and every sheet I could find, I would spend hours creating different rooms to play in. It would slowly transform into my very own make-believe house.JS118Our kids now often do the same, taking every sheet and pillow off every bed in the house to create anything their silly heads dream up. Forts are always popular. As are the “pillow pools” in my studio where they jump off the drafting table into their poofy pillow piles. We also make “burritos” where I roll them up together in a down comforter with only their little noggins poking out. Then I roll them down the hallway, pretending to try and eat them. When Daddy gets involved, the materials grow more adventurous. Our living room has been completely covered in tarps and duct tape courtesy of my husband trying to create a circus tent. Our kids loved it, obviously, but our poor dogs just wanted to know how to get back over to their snuggly dog beds.

Recently I made the simplest spot for my sweet and silly 3-year old. It took a little imagination and just a few minutes of my time, but the reward was huge. He was cozied up in the hallway with one sheet and one comforter as his enchanting blanket fort and absolutely loved it. It was his very own spot for the entire afternoon, complete with plenty of books and a huge flashlight. He had the sweetest little grin on his face the whole time he was in there. And of course, so did I.

JS115JS114JS108JS106JS105JS102Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who had to learn the secret password to enter the fort.

Alicia@ Eco Friendly Homemaking - Oh this is so sweet! Our children use to love to do this!

Leslie - Dear Jill, What a wonderful family you’ve made. My wish is that ALL new parents read your blog for inspiration. Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if all children were as happy as yours?! I noticed that even when your child wasn’t smiling, his eyes were!
I’m a calligrapher (wedding envelopes) and was surfing websites for envelopes and came across your blog…I’m glad I did…made me smile! Leslie

SEALED WITH A SMOOCH

xoxo
Valentine’s day is a great excuse to wear red and pink together and to send out cards saying “You are super.” Because you are.

My Valentine photo card collection for Tiny Prints found here. Classroom cards for the kiddos here.
Valentine stickers here. (I ordered the little cutie monsters for my real life little cutie monsters.)