Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Step Children

When blogger friend Jennifer suggested I join the Design Carnival hosted by her friend Mary at Not Before 7, my staircase of family photos immediately came to mind. This once neglected space is now a feature wall showcasing my children's baby photos. Our photographer framed the three square baby panels, so I chose silver frames and white mats at a craft store to coordinate with the professionally framed pictures. I wanted to create a cohesive grouping with the photos, so I arranged them on the floor before hanging them on the wall. I hung the bottom pictures first, then worked my way up the wall, careful to keep the perimeters of the grouping straight. A little removable putty tucked under the corners of the frames keeps the pictures from shifting, and I have trained the children to hold the banister when using the stairs to keep fingerprints to a minimum.

The top row of photos are hung, left to right, from oldest to youngest child. We lived in another state when our first child was born, so he was photographed in a different studio than our other three. Since I didn't have the same portraits for each child, I did some creative planning to make sure all were represented equally. One of my favorite photos is the second one on the second row. This photo of Carson with a blanket draped over his head was taken at a discount store photo studio. I loved Carson's expression in the photo, but was horrified that nearly half the 8" x 10" was a ratty blue bath mat. So I cut the photograph down to a 5" x 7", and now this humble photograph fits in nicely with our more formal portraits.

My middle two children, still 3 and 5 when I hung the pictures, watched with interest as I shuffled frames on the floor to find the perfect arrangement. They loved hearing how special each photo was to me. And when I was ready to hang the frames, they were eager to help. I can still remember watching them at the base of the stairs, beaming with pride as they clasped their 1-year-old portraits.

"Mom says this is one of her favorites," Christian said sheepishly. "She says I look like an angel in it."

"Well look at mine," Mary Ashley responded. "Mommy says I look like a princess in this one. I'm holding my dress like a lady."

The photo above may not convey the size of this grouping, but it is actually quite large. At its maximum expanse, the display is more than 6 feet tall and more than 5 1/2 feet wide. The lowest photos nearly touch the baseboards of the staircase, while the highest extend above the nearby door frames. My husband was unsure about this arrangement at first, but now he appreciates its impact. Whether you are walking down the staircase or standing on the floor below, there is always something to appreciate at eye level -- even for our littlest ones.

Our "step children" remind all of us how precious our family is. The children feel so special seeing their photographs prominently displayed on our wall of fame, and Joe and I are reminded each time we take the stairs how far we have come in raising them thus far.

Photo by Nathan Prichard

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