Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's (semi) Official

Last night, not long after I got to work, my boss called me into his office to tell me that due to budget cuts, I will most likely be losing my job on July 1st. This was no surprise to me, as he had already put out several memos warning that this may happen and I am the least senior dispatcher in our center (at 2 years 4 months); the memos most definitely stated that there is a hiring/firing schedule in place in our contract, meaning that if a position has to be cut, the least senior dispatcher will be let go. He said the only thing that he could really see saving my job is if someone more senior leaves before July 1st, for whatever reason they may have to leave. And in this economic climate, I don't see that happening.

Thanks to the previously mentioned memos, however, I'm not too stressed out. I read those memos and thought, "Well, crap. That's me." And immediately started browsing/applying for other jobs. The three potential positions: a lateral (2 years experience minimum) position with Clackamas County Dispatch (C-COM), a lateral position with Eugene Dispatch, and a Young Life Area Director Position in Snohomish Washington (about 45 miles north of Seattle). As they stand right now, I had a sit-in in C-COM on Saturday while we were in Portland - which was a ton of fun, I think I'd really like it there - and am hopefully going to hear back from them soon on an interview. I received an email from Eugene saying that I'm scheduled to take the first round of pre-interview tests on April 9th; unfortunately, I work that day, so I'm waiting to hear back about rescheduling. I have a phone meeting with the Regional Director for the Snohomish area on the 7th, at which time I'll find out if I'm even what they're looking for and what kind of salary we're looking at.

In other words, between me losing my job and Nathan's job not bringing in nearly enough to live on, we will most likely be leaving Baker. Sad day, but despite that I'm pretty excited about the new adventure our family is going to experience. I have my fingers really crossed on the Clackamas position as we have several family members in that area (the dispatch center is only 15 minutes away from Nathan's Dad's house), as well as several friends on that side of the state. We'll miss it here, but us being in Baker was always suppose to be a temporary thing, a move we made in order to be with Marla during her last months yet turned out to be longer when she left us the house. At that point we stopped planning and decided to let God direct our path, and now, quite obviously, he's directing it somewhere other than Baker.

So we're asking for your prayers. I fully believe in the power of prayer and its ability to change lives and work miracles. So please pray that I will find another job before my time is up at this one, that we'll find an affordable place to live in a safe neighborhood and will be able to save up enough money for moving expenses when that time does come. And pray that we'll hear back from these positions and have an answer sooner than later, so this whole process will go as smoothly as possible.

Oh man, it's nice to finally be able to write about this on here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Banner

To be honest, I simply wasn't thrilled with the banner for my photography blog...it was boring. I don't like boring. I like simple, but interesting. So to make a long story short, I made myself a new banner. And here it is (click on it to get the full effect):



Also, I just went outside (8am, 27 degrees out) and played with taking photos of the light skiff of snow we got last night. That's right, it snowed last night. But now it's a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day. And yet again, I am going to have to stay up for quite a while to enjoy it...oh, and to take the boys to their appointment. As of this moment, I didn't manage to capture any photos that I'm in love with, but I'm going to walk away for a little bit and then see if any catch my eye later.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not Much To Report

Things have been pretty boring around the Labunski household. Well...as boring as life can be with 6 month old twins.

This morning before the boys woke up, I took the opportunity to sneak outside (8 am, 30 degrees out) and shoot some photos of the neighbor's rusty horse trailer and a couple other things. Here's one of the photos, and there are more on my photography blog.


This weekend, we head to Portland to visit family. It's going to be a whirlwind trip, complete with a date night on Saturday night for dinner and to go see Wicked! SOOOO excited! It's been...umm...at least three years since I've seen a professional play, let alone a musical, which is just wrong wrong wrong seeing as I have a BA in theatre. Not to mention that it's going to be incredibly wonderful to have a long date night with my husband. Major thanks to Kate, Eliot, and Jan for giving us this opportunity!

The boys have an appointment tomorrow with Smithson, it will be fun to see how he thinks the boys are coming along. Oh, and towards the end of next month, we'll be heading to Boise for the boys' NICU Follow-up Clinic, where they will be seen by a developmental pediatrician and an occupational therapist, who will take a look at how they are doing developmentally. I'm pretty excited about that and am hoping that maybe we can pop into the NICU to say hi to some of the nurses and doctors that worked on the boys during our month and a half there.

Ok, I think that's about it. Exciting, aren't we?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Big Boys!

Wow, that was a long day. Really long. But it's my own fault, I'm the one who couldn't resist going out into the countryside to shoot photos, I'm the one who wanted to feed my boys this morning rather than going to bed which caused me to have to stay up until their 1:30 appointment. I'm the one that added several errands onto our outing because I just didn't want to go home yet. It was simply too beautiful of a day. All in all, I was up for just shy of 24 hours straight...and then I slept like the dead for about 8 1/2 hours. And it was all worth it.

We took the boys to their WIC appointment, where they got weighed and measured, and we got to sit in the WIC nurse's hot hot hot office (the boys were boiling, poor things) for about an hour because, as much as I love this nurse, she is a Chatty Cathy. She said the boys are growing wonderfully, especially for preemies (I have a hard time thinking of them as preemies anymore).
They both weighed in at 12 lbs 15 oz, just 1 oz away from 13 lbs, and they're both right around 23.5 in long. On Thursday, they have an appointment with our family doctor, so we'll see how much they grow in 3 days and hopefully we'll get a head measurement too. In case you're keeping track, both of the boys gained over half a pound in 11 days...Asher gained about 12 oz and Levi gained about 9 oz.

I'm feeling particularly uninspired in terms of writing at the moment, so I hope you'll forgive my lack of imagination. It may have something to do with it being 2:18 am and the fact that I just woke up half an hour ago. I do, however, still feel a very strong need to go shoot some more photos in the morning...I just have no idea where or what to shoot. And then there's that minor detail that it's suppose to be raining today, snowing tomorrow. Yuck. Give me back my spring weather, darn it! Plus my house is a DI-SAS-TER (the usual when I get done with my long work week) and the gal who cleans our house (still the best Christmas present ever) is going to be showing up tomorrow afternoon, so I have to prep for her arrival. Can't someone else take over the adult tasks in my life and just let me do photography and play with my boys?

Ok, I'm going to cue up ABC.com on the computer and watch the latest episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Dancing With the Stars, and Castle...for free. But first, let me tell you a secret:

I don't miss having cable. At all.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Teaser

Here's a photo I took on my photography outing this morning after work. There are 5 others posted on my photography blog, and I plan on adding more later after we take the boys to their WIC appointment and I take a nice long nap...you know, because I've been up since 4:45 yesterday evening. Mmmm, bed.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

According to Nathan...

...there's a little March Madness in all of us. Including Levi.


Personally, I'm just not feelin' it. I prefer football.

6 Months Ago Today

Six months ago, at this time, I think I had probably just arrived at St. Luke's in Boise via life flight, was highly doped up on magnesium, and was just about to or had just finished laughing in Dr. Lee's face when he told me he wanted to try keeping the boys inside me for another 24 hours to let the steroids take effect. Listen buddy, you have me on the highest dose of magnesium allowed and yet my contractions are getting stronger and closer together...please, check to see how dilated I am. Be my guest. What's that? 2 cm further dilated than an hour ago? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Six months ago, in only half an hour, I was laying flat on my back on the operating table, spinal in place (oh what a glorious feeling), happy as a clam because a) I no longer had that non-stop pressure on my stomach and diaphram from having waaaay too much in my tummy and b) I was no longer feeling the contractions. I had no clue what was going on south of the equator, I was just having a grand ol' time chatting up the anesthesiologist, asking if he had heard that hops was good for milk production. Don't blame me, blame the magnesium. And the lack of sleep. After all, I had been up for about 22 hours straight, no sleep what so ever. As far as I was concerned, all that tugging and pushing and pulling going on in my stomach region was just them examining me from every angle, to determine the best place to cut. I had NO idea the cutting had already taken place.

Six months ago, in just 58 minutes, Levi was born. And oh, how sweet his first cry sounded. It didn't occur to me to worry until Nathan said, "Here comes the first one" and I realized that meant my first son was being born, 10 weeks early, and we had no idea what shape he was in. At that first cry, I felt the tears start...ok, they came as close to starting as they possibly could have while I was in my highly drugged up and slightly delusional state. But that moment changed my life forever. And it meant that my baby was strong enough to cry.

Six months ago, in just 56 minutes (yes, time is moving, try to keep up), Asher was born. Again, a first cry, again the sweetest sound I'd ever heard. This time Nathan got to bring Asher over for me to see...he was so tiny, but I didn't notice that. I just noticed how perfect he was. I wanted to hold him so badly, but Nathan had to give him to the NICU team. And then they were gone, Levi, Asher, and Nathan, whisked away to the NICU for some TLC. And I don't remember anything else until my parents showed up in the recovery room...that's not to say I slept, I just was too out of it to remember anything. I remember Nathan coming in to say hi, looking worried but assuring me that the boys were ok. He definitely got the brunt of everything in those first hours, as the magnesium was saving me from being anything but totally and 100% relaxed.

After that, the nurse in the recovery room told me that I couldn't go see the boys until I could move my legs (which were still numb numb numb from the spinal), at which point I started working like crazy to move those dead weights. FINALLY I could go see my boys before they wheeled me into my room on the maternity floor. I honestly don't remember much, including how they got my bed into the boys' NICU room. I think I got to touch them, or at least one of them. At this point I'm not sure if it was the magnesium, the exhaustion, or the shock of seeing just how tiny my babies were that made my mind go blank...probably a combo of all three. Then it was off to my room to sleep...which I'm amazed I was able to do. Then again, maybe it's not so amazing. By that point I had definitely been up for over 24 hours and had gone through major surgery.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that recovering from a c section is NOT fun? Because it's not. The incision soreness, the catheter, the HUGELY swollen legs, the walking like an old woman from a combo of all of those things. Ugg. Yeah, I think I'm done having children.

But for the sake of the past six months, it was all worth it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Day Out

Yesterday Nathan had an appointment in La Grande, and I was fully prepared to beg him to let the boys and I come with him. It's been quite a while since I've gone anywhere that doesn't involve work or the grocery store, so it felt great to get out of town for a little bit, especially with how nice of a day it was yesterday. We managed to get to La Grande before the boys woke up for their second feeding of the day, so while Nathan went inside for his appointment, I stayed in the car and fed the boys. It worked pretty well just leaving them in their carseats while feeding them, and then taking them out one at a time to burp them. It was so warm out that I had to keep a couple of the car doors open or else the inside of the car got really stuffy and hot. It was fun to have it warm enough to hold the boys outside without worrying about them getting too cold...so excited for spring to be here!

After Nathan's appointment, we went to Wally-World (WalMart for those of you not in the know) to get the boys a new bathtub as their collapsible tub started leaking big time. While we were there, we found one of those Bumbo seats and decided that we could afford to buy it so the boys would have somewhere to sit without putting any pressure on the back of their heads. We were thinking we would want one for each of the boys, but I think we'll be good with just one. After WalMart, we grabbed some lunch from Nell's-N-Out, the La Grande version of In-N-Out, but better, and then headed home so I could get some sleep.

All in all, it was a fun day, and it was great to just spend some time with Nathan and the boys, especially out of the house. I've missed hanging out with my family since going on graveyard shift.


Asher in the Bumbo.


Levi in the Bumbo


The boys enjoying each other's company. Levi laying down, Asher sitting up.


All of those photos were taken yesterday. Oh, and I was going to upload a video of the boys being talkative in their bouncers this morning, and once again I was thwarted by the evil Blogger video uploader, which seems to believe that I should not share these adorable videos with you. If you have a better way of sharing videos that uploads faster, please let me know. I'm going to bed now.

PS. Tomorrow Levi and Asher will be 6 months old. SIX MONTHS OLD! Excuse me while I go cry.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hair.

Everywhere.

Our dog is shedding. It's like he thinks Spring has sprung or something. I would give just about anything to be able to give him his buzz cut now, but I think he would freeze still since it looks like we're in for another "Winter in June" year again.

I swept our bathroom, hallway, kitchen, and dining room this morning and I think I probably could have made a second small dog out of all of the hair. I am definitely feeling my fingers twitching towards those clippers. Yuck.

But the up side?

Levi is adorable.


Not sure what that has to do with dog hair, but it sure makes me feel better.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Photo Blog

You should go check it out. I've made a couple of changes a posted a cute photo of Asher, which I know you don't want to miss. I can post photos in a larger format over there because of the layout of that blog, so you can see him real up close and personal.

But don't take my word for it.

Go look!

Oops.

And I just realized that I wrote a big long email to my parents that included the latest update on Asher's hearing, but didn't write ANYTHING about it on the blog. Sorry 'bout that.

The boys had their Synagis appointment on Friday, poor fellas. At least they smiled at our nurse, Jacque, when they saw her. The good news is that they should only need one more Synagis shot next month and then we'll be done with those until next winter! When they were weighed in, Asher weighed about 12 lbs 3 oz while Levi weighed 12 lbs 6 oz, or somewhere there abouts. Jacque did take a look at Asher's ears and didn't see anything to alarm her. She said that since they both passed their hearing test in the NICU with flying colors and neither one of them have had an ear infection yet (knock on wood), there really shouldn't be anything to worry about. Evidently he does have quite a bit of wax in his ear, which we thought may be a possible culprit, but not enough to block his canal. So all in all, she said we really shouldn't worry, he's probably just practicing his male selective hearing early. Yay!

Other than that, the boys are definitely laughing, and babbling, and cooing, and giggling like crazy, and are incredibly ticklish. Levi, poor kid, inherited my ridiculously ticklish knees, which his Daddy uses to make him laugh like a fiend on a daily basis. They love sitting happily in their bouncers, playing with the toys across the bar. Because the bigger bouncer only has toys dangling down by the feet, I figured out that I could open up their little monkey gym mat and put that bouncer through it so whichever boy was sitting in the bouncer had toys to play with with their hands also. They've really started reaching out and grabbing things to play with on purpose, pulling them closer to them and giggling like crazy. So much fun. We've hung little toys from the handle on their car seats too, which they love.

Friday night was our Annual Young Life Dessert Auction, which is always a ton of fun. The auction went really well and the boys did great the entire time. They got passed around a lot between my Young Life girls, which was totally fine with me, I trust my girls completely. They were definitely a hit, as were their Thing 1 & Thing 2 outfits they were wearing. The poor things didn't get much sleep on Friday between their appointment and the auction, which explains why yesterday was such a sleepy, relaxed day for all of us. The highlight of the auction was getting to see Bill Rhiel, the area director I worked with closely while doing Young Life in Hillsboro, and and his wife Terri, as well as Steve Fox, who use to be our area director and who was on assignment team with me for a month at Wildhorse Canyon back in 2004. It's been years since I've seen either one of them. Needless to say, they were more than a little shocked to see the twins, although they both ooh'd and ahh'd appropriately.

As I mentioned before, yesterday was a lazy, sleepy day. I'm fighting off a slight cold, so I ended up sleeping all night Friday night (ahh, NyQuil) and took two naps yesterday. The boys slept for almost 11 hours on Friday night, took several long naps yesterday, and yet still managed to go down to sleep last night by 11:30. This morning we'll be going to church and then I'm sure we'll be lazy yet again. No complaints from this peanut gallery.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Praise

Ever since we brought the boys home, I've felt like I've been swimming in medical bills. Every week, it seemed, I would be receiving a new statement, a new explanation of benefits from the insurance company, a new bill. Finally, one by one, they all started falling into place until we were only down to three, two of which we had figured out a payment plan for and were sending in monthly payments. Thank God for great insurance. But then there was St. Luke's.

Holy mercury, I've never jumped through so many hoops in my life! I initially placed a call in to their billing department, thinking that I would be able to set up a payment plan in about 5 minutes like I was able to with Emmanuel in Portland. No dice. Their idea of a minimum monthly payment was almost $200, not something we can afford while paying other medical bills. In order to possibly get a lower monthly payment, I'd have to fill out an application, get copies of varies peices of paper like bank statements, pay stubs, W2's, etc, and send them all in to be looked over, after which we would be informed within 3 weeks as to whether we qualify. Fine, send me the paperwork.

A week and a half pass by, no papers. Finally I received a bill from St. Luke's stating that our $2000+ payment is due NOW, check or visa, thank you very much. I call the billing department again and ask the gal, very nicely, what the heck they're thinking. Sure enough, my request for the application was noted, but the paperwork never sent out. Never fear, she says, I'll send it right out, call me if you haven't gotten it by Monday.

Get the paperwork, fill it out (pain in the BUTT, they want a detailed budget of ALL of your household spending, debt, income, etc...thank goodness I already have this calculated out thanks to Dave Ramsey), collect all the other miscellanious paperwork they want, fax it in, and just KNOW that for some reason we aren't going to qualify. Oh me of little faith.

Day before yesterday, I get a letter in the mail from St. Luke's.

"Dear Lindy Labunski:

Your account has been reviewed for possible financial assistance. After review of the submitted financial documentation, it has been determined you do meet eligibility guidelines for partial fanancial assistance on the accounted referenced above."

Yadda yadda yadda.

Oh my heck! Not only did we qualify, they slashed just under $2000 off of our bill, leaving us with just under $500 to pay off. Keep in mind that these babies, and everything surrounding them, ran up a bill of over a quarter of a million dollars at St. Luke's alone.

Because of this and our steadfast determination to follow a strict budget, I've figured out that we should be able to pay off all of our debt except the house and student loans by the end of this year, if not sooner (barring any major life changes). That's only 9 months away! I can't even tell you how much I've felt God's blessing on our attempts to be better stewards of our money, and how many times He's provided for us financially. It's amazing to me how little money we really can live on. People give me funny looks when I pull out my wallet of envelopes, not to mention when we pay with cash, but I don't care. It's all worth it and we're never going back.

It's Happened.

I've gone over the edge and created myself a photography blog. Kid you not. It's pretty boring right now as I don't have access to Photshop at the moment, so don't judge me. I figured I needed to stop taking the attention away from my poor children and husband, yet I love sharing what I've learned in my experimenting with my camera and Photoshop. So here we have it folks:

Lindy Labunski Photography

I've even managed to copy and paste my recent photography and Photoshop posts over there. So for those of you who want to keep up with my fumblings in the photography world, head on over to that blog. For those of you who are just here to get the latest update on the Labunski family and don't give a flying fart what I'm pointing my camera at, you're in the right place!

Cheers!


PS. I've also added a link to the photography blog to my "Other Blogs I Love" list on the right, which will tell you when/if I've added anything.

PPS. I've joined the Mission 24 blog, which is basically a blog that gives you a weekly photography assignment and then you have 24 hours to do the assignment, edit it, and post it. It's pretty fun and I think it will be a way to push myself, even if other people's comments are more along the lines of "Great photo!" rather than constructive criticism. Your harshest critic is yourself, right?

My Boy-o's

Ok ok ok people, I'll satisfy your need for Levi and Asher pictures. This one doesn't really show their faces, but I love it anyway. They both fell asleep during tummy time and can I just point out that they are in the exact same positions (head, arms, legs, everything) only mirrored. Gosh I love these boys.



I read a blog tonight about a little baby named Gracie who was born March 20, 2008 with a heart defect that caused her left ventricle to be to small to work. So they did open heart surgery on her only a few days after she was born in order to make it so her right ventricle would do all the work. Unfortunately she ended up needing a heart transplant, which her body ultimately rejected and she passed away just 11 days ago, 18 days shy of her 1 year birthday. Needless to day, I was in tears...quietly, since I'm at work. Do yourself a favor...unless you feel like crying or have some exceptionally happy things to cheer you afterwards, don't read this blog. I will have to say, however, that this family's unshakable faith is a strong testament to me of the strength God gives us in our hardest of times.

And now I just have to get something off my chest. I have several LDS friends, all of whom I have the utmost respect for. And through those friendships, I've come to wonder why it is that those of us Christians who are not LDS hold such a negative view of Mormons. As in, we can be downright nasty and hateful. Why? No, I'm not going to convert to Mormonism, so quit asking. My way of celebrating and growing my faith is working just fine for me, thank you. Carly has been good enough to answer some (I must admit, pretty dumb) questions for me, simply because I'm tired of judging in ignorance. My discovery; there are a lot of traditions that we "non-Mormons" believe the LDS church practices that are completely bogus. Yes, maybe they do have some beliefs and traditions that some of us don't agree with or believe in, but how is that any different from any other tradition-based Christian religion?


One of the more ridiculous claims I've heard is that Mormons believe that, when they die, they will be given their own worlds to populate, which is why they have so many kids here. Oy. Yes, they believe that families are eternal...but come to think of it, so do I. I sure as heck want to believe that my husband and sons will continue to be my husband and sons once we reach Heaven.


So here's my proposal: back off. Rather than judging, use that time reaching out instead. The same can be said for other denominations as well. There's only one really important thing that marks you as a Christian, and that is the belief that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, the one path to God. Where in there does it say, "Thou shalt judge and disdain all Christians who do not follow the same traditions you do"? How about showing a little love? You know, the proverbial, "Why can't be we be friends?"


Ok, I need some more chubby cheeks.


That's better. Asher on the left, Levi on the right, being goofs together. I can't wait to see these two get old enough to play together, I think it's going to be so much fun to watch. Either that or they're going to be running circles around me. Either way, I'll take it, as long as it means they are happy and healthy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh My-Lanta

Ok, I couldn't stop. I have a problem but I don't think there's a twelve step program for this one. Plus laying down did not feel good, at all. Yuck. On top of that, I have a ton of phlegm in my throat and my head hurts...stuff you always wanting to know, right?

Anyway, I've played with my watermark some more and I think I like how it's turned out. Now it's just a matter of seeing what you folks say about the font. Oh, and there's this website...called Totally Rad Actions...the name isn't lying. I emailed the guy and automatically got sent some sample actions. There's this one called...something about Ninja...I dunno. Anyway, look what it did to my wine glass photo!


The crispness, oh the joy! Please, feel free to compare.

Wait...was this suppose to be a blog about the boys? About my familial going's on? Maybe I should start a blog devoted to my photography/Photoshop adventures, so you don't have to keep logging on to this blog and being disappointed over seeing yet ANOTHER photography post.

Sorry 'bout that.

Ick.

It's 4:22 am, and I'm home sick. I feel nauseous and after sitting at my computer at work attempting not to throw up for an hour, my partner sent me home. Unfortunately, the combo of having slept all day and not feeling real great is leaving me sleepless, so it's back to my old friend Photoshop. This time I found some fun actions for free online, so I tried out the watermark action, which is something I've always wanted to have. Before making my watermark, I tried to think of a creative "studio" name. Ah heck, Lindy Labunski Photography sounds just fine to me. I'm down to a few watermarks that I really like, but I can't decide which font fits my style the best, so it's now up to you to give me your feedback.

Here's Number One:


This would have to be in my top two. It's simple, yet with a little bit of flair to it.

Number Two:


I like that this one looks a little more modern and clean. This one is in my top three.

Number Three:


This one is quite similar to Number Two, but slightly different.

Number Four:


This is a font that my friend Carly, who is a wonderful professional photographer, used for a font a little while back, and I just fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. But I feel a little bad using the same font, even though she's not using it anymore. Opinions? I also like that this one doesn't have any capitol letters in it. Definitely in my top two, but again, I'm kind of being a copy cat. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery?

Number Five:


I can't help but feel that this one is a little over the top, but maybe that's just me.

And last but not least, Number Six. (Sorry to give you so many choices, I'm indecisive like that.)


Not real thrilled with this one but I felt like throwing in something completely different. It kind of makes me feel like a little kid, not exactly something I'm going for in my photography.

Ok, there you have it. I really would like to settle on one so that I don't have to keep resetting my brushes and recreating watermarks, which is kind of a pain in the butt, let me tell you. I'm sure there's an easier way to do it and rest assured I will be asking Nathan tomorrow...if I remember. So now it's your turn. This is your opportunity to have an opinion.

And now I'm off to attempt some sleep. Hasta.

PS. Don't pay any attention to how light or dark the watermark is, I can always adjust that according to the photo it's being placed on.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh D70, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Or rather, for the past 3 years.

My senior year was, for me, a very discouraging year, photographically. I had, what I thought, a great photography professor, and yet my photo skills were not increasing. I've just started to realize that all of my frustrations have stemmed from one simple problem:

I never bothered to learn how to take my camera off of automatic and actually BE the photographer. I always relied on my automatic settings, never forcing myself to learn how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all go together. It made for a sad, bleak world.

But then the other night at work, at approximately 3 am when absolutely NOTHING was going on, I 'snuck' onto Pioneer Woman's photography site and read through her tutorials. They managed to teach the basics of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO without being too overwhelmingly technical, yet without sounding like she was teaching a 5 year old.

So tonight, after my eyes started twitching from staring at the computer screen for too long, I dug out my Nikon D70 digital SLR and spent a good hour just fiddling with the controls. Oh my heck, it's like a whole new world has opened to me. I remember playing with my dad's old film SLR (I can still smell the film scent, Lordy how I miss that...where the heck is that camera Dad?) and always working on manual with that one because, well, it was old. And there was no such thing as an automatic SLR back then. Right Dad? But since receiving my Nikon N75 (film SLR, not old, automatic w/ manual option), I became lazy.

But never again! The closest I will ever come to putting this camera on manual will be the Aperture or Shutter Priority, which allows you to manually select the aperture and then automatically selects the 'best' shutter speed, or vice versa. But here's the thing that I've just learned...not all cameras are prefect. My camera, for example, shoots dark. So when I look at the exposure meter inside my view finder and adjust my shutter speed to match the aperture, the exposure is dark. So I have to adjust a couple of shutter speeds slower. Whew.

Let's just say I'm hooked again.

A week ago Sunday, I was watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (a weakness of mine) and the "hero" they were building a house for was a lady who did photography of preemies. She would go into the NICU and capture a family's moments with their preemie baby or babies, often times being there to share the child's only hours on earth. That spoke to me, having been through the fright of premature babies, yet I immediately dismissed it, not wanting it to be yet another thing that I become passionate about and then fizzle on in a matter of months. Plus there's the minor problems of a) we don't live anywhere near a NICU at the moment and b) I didn't think I had the skills necessary to take photos in the sometimes very dim light present in a NICU or hospital room setting.

But now...maybe...if we move somewhere with a NICU someday. Maybe this could be my way of giving back. Who knows. I guess we'll see.

What Can I Say?

I'm bored.

It's 3:30 am, Levi is asleep in the swing because the little stinker adamantly refused to sleep anywhere else. As in, he fought going to sleep in his crib for two hours, despite a clean diaper and a full tummy. Even after putting him in the swing, he cried for a good ten minutes. Yeesh. He hasn't fought going to sleep like this for months. Hopefully tomorrow night will be better.

Anyway, to pass the time, I'm playing with, you guessed it, Photoshop. Again. I found my photos from Ecuador, which I haven't looked at for ages. So here we go. A photo I took of a cross in the old Hacienda we stayed in, with some beautiful pink flowers in front of it. First is the photo in full color.


Now we do the photo tinting again. Utilize the burn tool over the entire photo (darkens the photo a bit without losing any of the color).


Love it. I think I'll print this one...someday...

Speaking of the burn tool. Next is a photo I took of a native Mayan woman in a small market. I just think she looks so stately. So...I'm not sure what word I'm looking for, but she captures my imagination.


Unfortunately, the color is pretty washed out, and the statues on the table in the foreground kind of takes the attention away from the woman. Bring in the burn tool, run it across her and the statues in the foreground, without touching the great color in the tapestry behind her.


Suddenly she becomes the focus of the photo again. She looks even more like the matriarch that she first struck me as.

Burn tool officially earns a Yum.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of Things Not Photoshop Related

I was going to add some videos onto this post, but for some reason they won't upload. I'll try again later.


Until then, more cuteness.

Story time. Asher left, Levi right.

Dur! Levi being a goof.


Levi's first time wearing jeans. Asher was wearing some too, but he was taking a nap and Daddy forgot to take a picture after he woke up.

Asher was trying to roll over but Levi got in his way. They stayed like this for about 5 minutes.


Asher sound asleep.


Oh, and I've finally uploaded all the photos to the boys' albums. Check out their 5th Month and the new 6th Month albums. I'm also in the process of uploading ALL the boys videos to YouTube. It's a lengthy process, so have patience.

Christmas/Birthday List? Already?

I've decided that the Photoshop CS4 upgrade is on my birthday/Christmas list. That will probably make Nathan cry, as he would just love to have all of the Adobe (the company that makes Photoshop) upgrades so he can play with the CS4 version of Illustrator and Dreamweaver, but beggers can't be choosers. And we do be beggers. At least in this instance. Especially considering the fact that a Photoshop upgrade is $400 less than the entire Adobe Creative Suite package upgrade. And that's just because of a limited time offer. Normally it's a $600 difference. Yeesh.

...I felt the pucker factor on that one, folks.

Anyway, if there's anyone who would like to to donate to the cause, I'll set a tin cup outside of our door. All donations are tax deductable.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fun With Photo Tinting

Usually when I come home from a graveyard shift, I stay up for an hour or two in order to wind down, and also to give Nathan a bit more time to sleep before I crawl into bed and wake him up. During that time, I've started playing with different aspects of Photoshop, as is demonstrated by my banners, backgrounds, etc. While browsing through some tutorials, I found one on photo tinting. Combine that with my love of macro photography, and we have magic, people. Pure bliss. Observe.

First we have a white tulip with some of the yellow pollen that has fallen off into the center of the flower.



It's cool enough as it is, I guess. A little blurry except for the fallen pollen. (Hee hee. Fallen pollen.) And it's honestly not all that exciting. Take the same photo, however, turn it into black & white, bring the yellow of the fallen pollen back, and we have something more exciting, more enticing. Suddenly the blurriness of the rest of the photo isn't as apparent and your eye knows where to rest.



Next we have the inside of a pink tulip. Pretty cool, but notice the center. Looks pretty bland next to all that hot pink, doesn't it? Not much color variety to it, and it's definitely not what draws your eyes.



But what if we were to get rid of the hot pink?



Suddenly there's a rainbow of colors within the center of this flower. It's amazing what happens to the boring girl when the show off is removed from the equation, no? I just want to note that I did NOTHING to enhance these colors. All I did was take away the color to make the entire photo black & white, and then erased the black & white adjustment from the center. It's a lot more complicated than that, but that's what happened in layman's terms.

Sigh...I love Photoshop. Now if only the magical Photoshop Fairy would put a copy of Photoshop CS4 under my pillow...we're currently running on plain ol' CS, which is only 3 versions old. Ah well, I work with what I'm given.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Look At Me!

Ok people. We have a problem. The only child in me is screaming to get out; that part of me that begs for peoples' attention and approval, the part that I have been attempting to beat into submission for years and years.

The object of my Only-Child Syndrome angst?

No one has said a single thing about my phenomenal blog banner, the one that I slaved over for way too long in the wee hours of the morning after a 12 hour graveyard shift because I wanted to let Nathan sleep until the boys woke up. The banner which I, myself, am incredibly enamoured with.

Why?! Why is no one satisfying my need for affirmation? And don't say you're doing it for my own good, I don't wanna hear it. Yes, I'm begging for compliments and I'm not ashamed.

Ok, I'm a little ashamed. But not enough to stop me from posting this.

See?

*click*

What A Journey

Tonight, to fight off the boredom, I went back into our blog archive and read the boys' story, from the day they were born until shortly after we brought them home. What a blast from the past! Here are some of the things that struck me:

  • The boys were tiny. And by tiny, I mean TIIIIIIIIIINY. No two ways around it.
  • Ridiculous as it might seem, I still feel a touch of guilt when I look back at the pictures of the boys right after they were born. They were so tiny, so helpless, so...not ready to be out in the world yet. I would have withstood twice as much pain as I was already in, if it had meant being able to keep them inside me just a while longer.
  • And yet, despite that, here wasn't a single day that I posted anything negative about the boys' development in the NICU. Every single day was something positive. Really and truly, they did nothing but improve and never once had those backslide days that we were warned about. What a miracle!
  • It's easy to forget just how much went into getting them ready to come home, and how much exhaustion we experienced.
  • For example, I had pretty much forgotten the nights after we brought the boys home, when neither of them would sleep unless they were in their carseats and we took shifts sitting up with them all night in their nursery. Thank goodness for Hulu!
  • Or as another example, I think I had repressed the memory of the nights we spent with the boys in the room-in rooms in the NICU. I shudder to remember those nights. If I never have to go through that again, it will be too soon. Needless to say, having the boys sleeping in a seperate room is a gooood thing...they're noisy little sleepers!
  • We have it SO easy now! I don't think either Nathan or I have come close to the complete meltdowns that we had early on after bringing the boys home. And a big part of that, I believe, is the fact that the boys are still sleeping 7-9 hours every night, non-stop. It's heaven, I tell you. Heaven.
  • There has been no greater adventure in my life than being Levi and Asher's mommy. And it's just beginning!

I just realized that I haven't posted any updates on Asher's hearing. Since writing that initial post, we've noticed Asher reacting to other things, but they usually have to be pretty loud. We're wondering if perhaps his ears are slightly plugged with wax, as both he and Levi produce a TON of wax on a daily basis. I did call their doctor and talked to the nurse, who asked if we'd be ok with the staff nurse, our friend Jacque, taking a look at him when we take the boys in for their Synagis appointment in a few days. Since another couple of days really isn't going to make any difference, we figured that would be just fine. So we'll keep you posted on that!

The only other thing I have to say:

Thank goodness my shift is over in an hour!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thing One & Thing Two

The boys received these onesies back when they were born, and let me tell you, they looked HUGE compared to the boys back then. And now look at them!



Eat your heart out, Sr. Seuss!

As with the order of their birth, Levi is Thing One and Asher is Thing Two.

And Random

As you can tell by my second blog banner, I'm in denial about there being 4-5 inches of new snow outside.

Blech.

On A Slightly Lighter Note

Levi left, Asher right.



video
Levi being Spoonman.

Contentment

There is so much in our life that is up in the air these days, some of which I can't really write about yet. There's uncertainty about jobs, about the economy, about our new President, the list goes on. And yet, despite all of that, I am more content where I sit now than I ever remember being in my entire life.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I had a few days where I mourned my carefree lifestyle. Yes, we had planned to get pregnant, but I don't think I had really realized what becoming a parent meant. After all, I had graduated from high school, went to college, met Nathan, graduated from college, got married two weeks later, and moved back to Baker to be with Marla. Who then left us her house. And here we are. Thanks to my parents' love of traveling, I've been many different places, several of which aren't exactly on your list of "Top 10 Places to Visit Before You Die" and yet have turned out to be amazing adventures. And yet, in my entire life, I've lived in three places; Elgin Oregon (current pop. 1,654), Baker City Oregon (current pop. around 10,000) and Forest Grove Oregon. I felt I still had some wild oats to sow, that I wasn't quite ready to give up the fun I had in my college days. I feared that I would resent the restriction becoming a mother would put on me.

And yet....I don't miss any of it. I love being a mom to my sons, a wife to Nathan. More than I possibly could express, more than I possibly could have imagined.

As for the rest of the things going on in our life, I've discovered that I am happy to wait on God. Whatever he brings our way can only be a hundred times better than any plan Nathan and I could cook up. Not to say that we are sitting idly by waiting for something to drop into our laps, but we are content in the knowledge that if it is meant to be, God will open the door. And if it is not meant to be, that door will close and something even better will come along. What a great way to live life. What a weight off of my shoulders.

I've had several times in the past few months, especially since the election, when I've been tempted to allow myself to get pulled into the discontent, or better yet, the hatred that has seized so many people. On a daily basis, I am faced with people who bring their children along on drug runs, men who rape women, drunks driving down the street, abuse, addictions...it's a pestilence. I see people losing their jobs to downsizing, a government spending more than it has in centuries despite being ridiculously in debt.

And yet.....it brings me a sort of peace, if I allow myself to remember one thing.

God is coming.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare that I believe that we live in the End Times. Scoff if you will, but I just don't see where our world can go from here. We, as humans, can't make it better. Any attempt we've made on our own has failed, dismally. I could lie and say that I wish that weren't the case, but, yep, it would be a lie. I long for that day, the day when the end of all the pain, the hate, the evil in the world will begin.

You may argue that there are great leaps being made to improve our world. Tell me, why has drug use risen exponentially? Why are we treating human life as if it were our play thing? I saw a blurb on the news the other day about being able to design your baby. Have we become so full of ourselves that we think we have the choice, nay, the right to take creation into our own hands. It's sickening. Our world is broken. Humans are broken. And we can't fix ourselves. Only God can.

Call me a conservative, call me intolerant if you will, but I'm done being luke-warm.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Photoshop Happiness

I have never professed to be a Photoshop guru. In fact, if I were to step into the ring with this program, it would probably win 9 times out of 10.

(For those of you who don't live with a graphics/photo nerd like I do, Photoshop is a program where you can edit photos, create awesome graphics, etc.)

Seeing as how I am now, this very night, forcing my body back into the graveyard sleep schedule, I decided to dive head first into designing my own blog banner and background using said Photoshop.

Three hours, several mild expletives, and some very sore shoulders later, I now have designed my very first blog banner (which you see above) and an incredibly simple background using the same digital scrapbook goodies I downloaded from the Shabby Princess website. Overall, I'm pretty excited about how it turned out, especially since I had to re-size and place each individual letter in the title. Oh, and the fact that I taught myself primarily through the trial and error method, with one or two photoshop tutorials thrown in for good measure.

Speaking of the title, I'm pretty happy about that too! I've been beating my head against the wall trying to come up with a blog name that is a little more creative than just "The Labunski's", which always made me feel mildly blasé. And that, my friends, is a gross understatement. I'm pretty sure I'm relatively correct in using the term "degree" instead of "power". I'm not a math wiz, so I'm just going to pretend I'm right. Don't correct me on this one, it will just force me to start from scratch on the banner, and I really don't want to do that right now.

And now, since it is currently 3:32 am and my shoulders are beginning to mutiny, I believe I will retire to the recliner, where my book (6th in a series of 12 that I started back when I was on bedrest...yes, I'm a glutton for punishment) is calling my name. I hope you are all thoroughly enjoying your respective beds at this ungodly hour...I shall definitely be enjoying mine as soon as the boys wake up for their 7 am feeding, at which point Nathan will be taking over baby duties and I, feeling ill and like I've been run over by a Mac truck, will be able to snuggle into the warm spot he so recently vacated.

Wait. You're telling me that's still 3 1/2 hours away? Not cool man. Not cool at all.

Now I have to make myself feel better.


"Get out the way man! Can't you see I'm driving here?!"

Ha ha, hee hee, ho ho. Ahem. That worked. And no, that was not taking place while the vehicle was moving, so no freaking out. We were parked in the Best Buy parking lot in Nampa, ID during a feeding break for the boys and Asher was checking out the lights of the cars driving around the area. By the way, in case you have never had the pleasure of trying to feed your baby (or two babies) in a car, at night, while there are a bunch of lights going by, I highly recommend it. It's an exercise in patience, especially if your baby, like ours, is instantly hypnotized by lights. The last thing on the little punks' minds was food.


Did I say my book was calling my name? Oh yeah, that's right. Ok, I'm off. Night all!