Annual stepping stone footprints

image“They grow so fast.” How many times have you heard a thoughtful grandmother share this precious truth with you? I even find myself saying it now. We have baby books, first pieces of hair, mementos, and billions of pictures of our children as we desperately try to savor each valuable moment of their childhood before it slips away into the past. It’s easy to get caught up in clutter as we try to save things from our child’s childhood, so today I’m hoping to share a useful idea with you that will still be precious and meaningful for years to come—you don’t even have to keep it in your house! :-)

 

imageThis is the third year my children and I have made salt dough footprints in the hopes of making a stepping stone path someday when we live in a house long term. At first I thought I probably wouldn’t stick with it or I’d forget each year, but it has been so easy and fun that I don’t forget! We do it about the 3rd week of August since that seems to be a good time for us as the summer winds down and we get ready for another school year.

I use basic salt dough. Nothing special. Depending on the size of your stone, it’s roughly 1 recipe per stone.

 

The first 2 years I used this recipe:

1 cup salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup warm water

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

This year I used this recipe:

1 cup white flour

½ cup salt

½ cup water

1 tablespoon oil

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

Just to give you a heads up: It took us 8 hours to bake ours this year!

Both recipes are fine (and there are many others out there) but I really liked working with the recipe that includes the oil. They, by far, turned out to be our best stones yet. That said, they are a bit darker than in the past.

This year I put parchment paper on the cookie sheet before baking, and other than a slightly reveled affect on the back of the stones, I LOVED the result. No sticking and perfect stones! I write each of the kids’ first initial and the month and year so we can keep track easily without it taking away from the footprint.

The size is up to you. When we first started, my son was 22 months and my daughter was only 5 months, so my stones were very small. I guess the growth factor didn’t occur to me. Last year, I made the same “mistake,” so this year I’ve decided that my stones will just grow each year with my son’s feet, and I’m okay with that. I actually think it’s kind of cool to have growing stones!

It has become a special tradition to pull the stones out each year and look back at how much each of the child’s feet has grown and remember their year. Someday, when I’m old and gray and my children are grown, I will be able to look back at many years of footprints and remember the years they were so small.

 

-Lydia

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