Friday, February 14, 2014

A ruler growth chart for our growing family

Life is about to get more crazy wonderful - we are expecting a new addition to our family in April! Soon our family of three will be a family of four. What a miracle children are - to in an instant have a new little soul entrusted to your care. To both bring life into the world and forever have your life changed by it's blessing.

Our days of late have been filled with baby preparations and spending quality time with our toddler before his little life is forever changed. As you may have noticed by the lack of posts, in recent months my blog has had to take a backseat to, well, life. 

Another thing consuming my time is an uncontrollable urge to tear apart the house and get it in tip-top shape before the baby arrives. You know what I’m talking about: nesting. From re-organizing our son’s closet (which he will soon be sharing with his baby brother or sister) to finishing long-forgotten crafts and tackling big projects like replacing sliding doors, I am driven by what seems to be an internal hamster on speed.

One of the projects I recently crossed off the craft list is a ruler height chart for our soon-to-be growing family. I’m so happy with how it turned out and the best part is that the supplies were virtually free. Now comes the tough part – finding a way to mark it up and actually use it after all that hard work.

If you're looking for an attractive, low-cost way to record your children's growth milestones, this project may be for you. Read on for simple steps to make your own ruler height chart.



Giant Ruler Height Chart

  • Wood board: Ours is about 12'' x 1'' x 5', but you could also use an 8'' width board and/or get one closer to 6' long (if you plan to take height measurements well into the teenage years!). My husband found this one laying around at his winery so we got it for free. If you buy one it will cost about $10-$20, depending upon the type of wood. 
  • Sand paper
  • Stain
  • Ruler 
  • Steel Square
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Sharpies (thin and thick)

1. Sand your board to a point where it is smooth to the touch. Little hands will be coming into contact with this so you want to make sure there are no jagged edges or splinters. As you sand, go with the grain to prevent sanding marks. As our board was in awful shape (who knows how many years it sat outside in the elements), I had to break out the big guns and use a power sander.

2. Stain the board. I had a few old  cans of stain in the garage so I tested each on the back of the board to find the best look. I used walnut. Use an old rag to apply the stain, again going with the grain. I used only one coat as I didn't want the board to be too dark.

3. Using a ruler or yard stick, make small 1'' tic marks with a pencil on the side of your board that will have the ruler lines.

4. Decide where you want your chart to start - i.e. will it hang 6 inches or 1 foot off the ground? This will tell you how to place the numbers on the chart. Ours starts 6 inches off the ground.

5. Make the ruler lines. There are two heights of line that I used - the short ones are 1.5'' and the long ones are 3''. There is a repeating pattern of 1 long, 2 short, 1 long, 2 short, etc. all the way up the board. A tool like a steel square will help you keep your lines straight. (Thank goodness my husband has a well-stocked tool bench!) Using those 1'' tic marks in step three, I marked my lines first with pencil, and then went over them with the thick Sharpie - all the while repeating to myself, "You are using a permanent marker. You are using a permanent marker." I'm just the sort to accidentally wave my hand with a Sharpie in it and then curse myself when I ruin a project.

6. Add the numbers every 12'' (depending upon where you start your ruler). I originally bought stencils and then realized I didn't need them. Back to Home Depot they went. Instead I printed 3'' numbers in Times New Roman on regular printer paper. Then I placed the sheet of paper on the board and traced each number with a ballpoint pen (using a LOT of pressure). What was left was a light outline of the number on the board. I used my thin Sharpie marker to trace the outside of the number, and used the thick marker to fill it in.

7. Our board is HEAVY. It's also slightly bowed. To hang it securely to the wall, I enlisted my husband's expertise. He used two "keyhole" hangers placed about 6'' from the top, which sit on screws anchored into the wall.

8. Done! On my son's second birthday we marked his height - for now with masking tape.

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