Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Snow of 2012!

And boy oh boy were Levi & Asher excited!

It only lasted for a few hours in the morning, and had completely melted off by the time we got home from church.  It snowed for a few minutes again this evening, but never really stuck.   The forecast is calling for a "big storm"...we'll see if that turns out to be a snow storm or just a bunch of rain.

Meanwhile, here are some photos for your enjoyment.  Our "big boy" camera has started seeing the light of day again, and I'm reminded of just how much better photos are out of a quality camera with a quality lens!




Asher with the lower half of Levi's face.

Asher giving Levi some direction in life.


Asher...seriously, try to tell me we don't have the cutest kids ever.

Checking out the mini snowman Daddy made.

The Mini Snowman relocated to the top of the car, where the boys could see it from inside the house.

Snow on my rhododendrons.

Snow covering our pretty!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What a blessed Christmas.

We didn't get all the Advent activities accomplished...not even half of them.  The house wasn't perfectly clean and decorated.  I still have some presents to wrap, since we still have some family members to "do Christmas" with this week.  And don't even ask me about all the clothes sitting in piles to be folded and put away.  The living room is tidied up (because my OCD just couldn't handle the clutter anymore), but there are still some presents to find homes for.  The garage is an absolute disaster of wrapping supplies, decoration boxes, empty cardboard boxes, and other such things.

But this has been, by far, one of the most enjoyable Christmases that I can remember.

Perhaps it was the fact that I gave myself permission to not have everything perfect.  Maybe it was that we decided to not fill the days with driving to/from a ton of different activities/gatherings.  Or it could be that both Nathan and I are more aware than ever of just how we have been blessed by the journey of the man who was born over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

We had an early Christmas celebration with Kate, Eliot, and James on the 13th.  They spent the night on their way up to the San Juan Island, and we had a pot roast dinner, opened presents, and battled getting the boys to bed for over 3 hours.  That was, by far, the most stressful event of the entire holiday season, simply because we wanted to enjoy some time with Kate and Eliot before I had to go to work and the boys just weren't cooperating.  But we made the best of a frustrating situation.

On the weekend before Christmas, my parents took the boys overnight while Nathan and I headed to Portland for a date night.  We are so incredibly lucky to have grandparents that are so willing and even eager to take the boys so that we can take the time to reconnect as a married couple.  I strongly believe that is very important, especially with me working shift work.  We had planned on going beer tasting at five different small breweries on the east side of Portland; we made it to two breweries and an amazing BBQ place before exhaustion and full tummies chased us back to the hotel room to collapse.  It was a great day, full of good beer and lots of laughs.

On Christmas Eve, the four of us and my parents traveled up to my grandparent's house in Welches for the day.  The Nichols clan (my aunt, uncle, two cousins, and cousin's wife) were all going to be there; it was the first time we were all going to be in one place since before the boys were born, so I was really excited about spending that time together.  It was also the first time that my uncle and one of my cousins had ever met the boys...what an event!  

The Nichols didn't get there until later in the evening, so we had a chance to spend a quiet afternoon with my grandparents.  It was much more relaxing than I expected it to be, seeing as how it was the boys' first time to their great grandparent's house, and I was so thankful to have the chance to enjoy that family time in the house I grew up celebrating Christmas in.  After losing Nathan's grandma this year, I have been reminded of just how blessed we are that my dad's parents are still so healthy.

We didn't leave Welches until almost 10 pm, not arriving home until after 11:00.  The boys slept the entire way home, and were back asleep within about 5 min of crawling into bed.  I wasn't far behind.  My parents arrived at our house at around 7:30 am, wanting to be there to do stockings when the boys woke up...the boys, on the other hand, slept until almost 8:30.  We didn't complain, since this allowed us to get the coffee flowing through our veins after the previous late night.

After stockings and some presents, we had a relaxed breakfast, finished opening presents, played for a little bit, had lunch, and all laid down for a nap.  Now THAT is how you do Christmas, lol!  Nathan's dad got to our house and commenced cooking the prime rib he brought.  Wow, does that man spoil us, it was delicious!  The evening was filled with good food, good wine, and great company.  It was so laid bck, with absolutely no stress to be had.  Once again, we were reminded of exactly how blessed we have been.

I leave you now with some photos and many wishes for blessings upon your family in the coming year!

The Labunski family at the Janzen Tree Farm, getting our Christmas Tree.  The farm is owned by friends of ours from church, and is a great place!

Nathan wearing the Dino Tail that Auntie Kate made for the boys for Christmas.  This may or may not have been after a large glass of bourbon stout.

Bath time for all three cousins!

Bedtime story after opening presents with Auntie Kate, Uncle Eliot, and Cousin James.

Date night at Hair of the Dog brewery in Portland.

Hair of the Dog tasting flight....mmmmmm.

Tasting flight at Lucky Lab brewery.

Amazing food at Russell St BBQ.  Best pulled pork sandwich I've EVER had!

Mt. Hood on the drive up to Great Nana and Grandpa Morgan's house.

The boys showing off their goodies from "Aunt" Kathy.  They made out like bandits!

The annual Christmas Day photo of Papa napping with his mouth open!

I love my boys!  On Christmas night.

Future OSU football stars.  Go Beavs!  (Levi left, Asher right)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gearing Up for Advent

For the past few years now, I've found myself less able to answer the question of, "What do you want for Christmas?"  Sure, there are always those dream items that we really can't afford (new laptop, dress form, serger, etc) but I'm taking more joy out of giving gifts than receiving these day.  I guess that's why the Advent Conspiracy really spoke to me this year.  Our church has played videos from this movement for the past two years, but this is the first year that it truly resonated with me.  For those of you who haven't heard about the Advent Conspiracy, here's the video our church showed this year.  It's by far my favorite one.

In that spirit, Nathan and I decided that we are going to cut back on the gift buying, the stress, the consumerism...we have decided that we want to raise our sons to know the TRUE meaning of CHRISTmas.  Not saying my parents did anything wrong in raising me, but seeing as how we weren't Christians for a majority of my childhood, Christ was pretty well absent from the celebration of his birth.  Christmas was all about the tree, the cookies, and the presents...lots and lots of presents.  Looking back, I can honestly say that there weren't many Christmas mornings that I would look at the pile of gifts surrounding me and feel satisfied.  Even then, I think I knew that something was missing.

I don't want my sons to feel that way, ever.  I want them to great each Advent season in the humble knowledge that Christ left Heaven and his Father to be born in such a humble way, knowing full well the pain and scorn he would have to endure for our sakes.  I want them to know that they've already received the best gift possible, and that everything else pales in comparison.

With that in mind, I set out to create a new family Advent Calendar.  Nathan got me a Silhouette SD machine for my birthday this year, and I have already used the heck out of it.  Using that, I put together and decorated the below calendar.

I had so much fun putting it together.  I feel like kind of a fraud, talking about wanting to avoid the consumerism and yet here I am gushing about my Silhouette.  But really, it's AWESOME!  I've used it for a ton of different kinds projects and the level of intricacy it can manage is amazing.  Even Nathan was impressed.

Anyway, I wanted to make this new Advent calendar all about family and giving.  Each day would have an activity we will do as a family.  Some of them will be things around the house, others will get us out of the house and giving back to the community.  With help from Nathan, friends, family, and several different blogs, we put together the below list of activities.  Feel free to steal ideas if you want, I quite obviously don't have the copyright on this idea.  ;-)

1st- Send Operation Christmas Child shoe box
2nd - Make scrabble
3rd - Decorate house
4th - Put up lights on outside of house
5th - Make paper snowflakes
6th - Write letter to soldier
7th - Buy gift for Angel Tree
8th - Get new Christmas CD
9th - Get Christmas tree from Janzen farm
10th - Decorate Christmas tree
11th - Make cookies
12th - Sponsor World Vision child
13th - Buy toy for Sheriff's Office toy drive
14th - Go to small group Christmas Party
15th - Have pancakes for dinner (in shape of Christmas trees!)
16th - Make salt dough thumb print ornaments
17th - Take box of needed items to Ronald McDonald house, then to Mt. Hood to visit Nana & Grandpa and go sledding
18th - Have dinner with Gigi & Papa
19th - Have big breakfast as a family
20th - Make hot cocoa with all the fixings
21st - Make special gift for Daddy
22nd - Get cocoa at Dutch Bros and go on a Christmas light drive
23rd - Read the Christmas story
24th - Have a Christmas movie party in new PJ's
25th - Go to Christmas service, then celebrate Christmas Day with the family!

We're pretty darn excited about this list, and I'm actually looking forward to this Christmas season for a change.  I have a lot of my Christmas presents make, with just a few more to go.  My goal is to get them all done by the end of the first week of December, so that I have the rest of the Advent to focus on family.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Page Chrysanthemum Tutorial

I'm kind of obsessed with mums right now.  Not all types, mostly the really delicate, thin-petaled ones.  This was brought on by the absolutely beautiful mum in the bouquet my mom brought to our house from a dinner they went to.  It's been sitting on our dining room table for the last couple of weeks, and I absolutely love it.

I couldn't find a single tutorial for a paper mum, no matter how long I looked.  So I decided it was time to just wing it, using several techniques from various other paper flower tutorials I've followed in the past.  After posting a picture of my first finished product on Facebook, it was recommended that I write my own here we go!  I'll be using book pages from the hardback book I made into a purse a few days ago, because, honestly, who doesn't love book pages?!

First, cut out the pages of the book using an razor.  If you press hard enough, you can get through several pages at once.  I cut out 10 pages. 

Using a round object, trace a circle on each page.  I used one of those small pyrex bowls, which then served double duty to hold my mod-podge for the next step.  Cut out ten circles.

Using a foam brush, apply two layers of mod-podge on each side of each circle.  Apply one layer to one side, allow to dry long enough that it isn't tacky anymore, apply a layer to the other side, and allow to dry enough that it won't stick to your work surface.  Repeat on each side, for all ten circles.  I allowed them to dry overnight, but a couple of hours would probably suffice.

Cut each layer into increasingly smaller circles, making each one about 1/4" smaller than the one before it.  To make it super easy, I traced the circle I just cut onto one of the original-size circles, then cut just inside that line.  Repeat for all 10 circles.

Next, you're going to cut each circle into a type of fringe (aka petals).  Make sure not to cut in too far, or you will cut some of the fringe off.  And definitely don't cut all the way through your circle...that would be sad.

To make the previous step easier, I folded the circle in half, gently creasing each end to mark the mid-points.  I then cut up the line of each crease, approximately 1/2" from the center.  Repeat so that you have cut the circle into quarters.  Use those lines to guide the cuts you make to create the petals.  Keep in mind that you don't have to make them perfect.  Not being precise about it makes it look more natural.

Go around and round off the edges of each petal.  Again, doesn't have to be perfect.  The sharper the scissors, the easier all of these cutting steps will be.

Pinching each petal between the pad of your pointer finger and your thumb nail, gently curl the petal upward.  This is basically the same technique as when you curl ribbon with scissors, using your thumb nail as the "sharp" object.  Don't pull or pinch too hard, or your curl will be too tight and/or you'll rip the petal off.

 The finished circle should look like this.  Repeat for each layer.  If you've cut your circles correctly, the layers should nestle nicely.  Place a small amount of hot glue in the center of each layer, then place the next layer on top, until all of your layers are assembled.  

And here's your finished product!

At this point, you can play with how the various petals are laying to make it look more life-like.  If you look at a real mum, the petals in the inner layers are really tight together, then they get further apart and slightly messier as you move out, until they get downright lazy on the outer layer.  The first mum I made was using cardstock with only one layer of mod-podge, which worked just fine.  The book paper, however, requires more layers of mod-podge to make it moldable because it's thinner.

Have fun and be creative!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Who Doesn't Love A Good Deal?

There's this website.  It's called Pinterest.  And it's A-MA-ZING!!!

Think of it as a bunch of cork boards that you can designate for different categories: decor ideas, craft tutorials, clothing tutorials, printables, etc.  Pretty much anything that inspires you.  You then take a picture of that thing, and "pin" it to that board.  Only, these boards are all virtual, and the photos that you pin to them will take you directly to the original website that you found it at.

The reason I love it so much is because I am constantly searching through craft and decorating ideas, looking for inspiration, and I've been in search of a good way to keep all the things I someday want to do in one place.  And the price is sure right...totally, 100% free!

Here's my home Pinterest page, with all my boards (so far).

Doesn't it must make you giddy with organized-ness?  Ok, maybe that's just me.

On a different, but related subject, I recently had the chance to return to my favorite Goodwill in Forest Grove.  Many hours were spent searching for treasures in that particular Goodwill while I was in college, and no other Goodwill store has ever measured up.

Well, on Friday, I met Aunt Diane in Forest Grove to join her on the trek to Tillamook to pick up her new puppy from the breeder.  Little Miss Roxie is absolutely divine, with such a sweet temperament;  I'm so glad Aunt Diane now has her in her life!  When we got back to the Grove, I took the opportunity to check out both the Restore and Goodwill in Forest Grove, hoping to find some treasures needed for projects I currently have pinned on my boards.  Boy, did I make out like a bandit!

First, at Restore, I found a great side table for only $5!  Right now, it's a dark green with a lot of scratches and stuff.  But soon, all those scratches will be sanded out, and it will be refinished with a distressed white.  Here's the table, pre-refinish (cause I haven't finished the darn thing yet!).

I also found a milk vase - you know, one of those old fashioned white glass vases - for only $0.99.  I had been looking for one that didn't scream "way too out of date", to be used in the below tutorial.

This is my version: vase from Goodwill, stick from the tree in our backyard, yarn from my sizable stash.  Total cost: $0.99

There are three other projects (besides refinishing the table) that I have most of the supplies for, which I got at Goodwill for under $8.  I will post those as I finish them.  Gotta love decorating on a budget!!!  I'm so excited about getting our living room all painted and decorated, I think it's soon going to be my favorite room.  I'm drawing all of my inspiration for the colors from a great painting I found on sale at Fred Meyer's a few weeks ago.  I absolutely love the style and colors, and I think it's going to make a great centerpiece for the room!

Oh the joys of finally being in a house that we (believe) will be in for years to come, and can decorate however we see fit, because WE OWN IT!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Warning! VERY VERY long photo post!

Levi (left) & Asher enjoying their wagon in the backyard...our grass isn't that green anymore. 

Newberg ladder truck helping control the Burn to Learn. 

Three generations of Labunski men! 

The boys fishing with Daddy and Papa for the first time.

 Gigi helping Levi fish.

Lazy morning in the Labunski household. 

My first fondant cake for Fourth of July. 

Levi rockin' the sunglasses. 

Levi with his new baseball glove. 

Asher with his new baseball glove.

As a reference, the fireplace before.

After Nathan pulled off all the nasty fake rock facade.

Nathan and his dad after pulling out the fireplace.

The hole in the wall, where the fireplace and some really pieced-together drywall use to be.

 The filled hole, just waiting for taping, mudding, texturing, and painting.

The tv mounted on the wall after Nathan and his dad got all the wiring done. 

 Levi at the Air Museum playground.


The barn just down the road from the house I grew up in. 

 Elkhorn Mountains from the Interpretive Center, after my mostly uphill 5k.

 Our house with the beautiful rhododendrons out front.

 Sweet Baby James on his first birthday!

Luminaria at Relay for Life for Marla and Uncle Denny.

 Enjoying the fountains at Discovery Meadows park.

Chowing down on hamburgers on the patio.

 Asher (left) and Levi with their new tape measures.

Boys' first sparklers on Fourth of July.

Levi's first Dilly Bar.

Asher's first Dilly Bar.

On the beach at Arch Cape with Papa and Gigi.

Playing in the sand. 

Dancing with Gigi & Papa to the live band at the potluck we went to at Arch Cape.

 Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park (if you couldn't tell).

Ok, I promise I'm done.