Thursday, November 18, 2010

Family Room

We moved into our apartment 11 years ago when Ryan was one and a half, and Jared just 6 months old. Needless to say we were too busy with the babies to have much energy to deal with home improvements and decorating. In fact, we did not even paint the place, just did some built in storage cupboards and in we went! As our family grew, we find ourselves outgrowing the space, especially where books, toys, and study area are concerned. And did I mention boys are not very neat creatures (lego is a huge culprit)!

With very tiny bedrooms, everything spilled into our living room. Of late we had been thinking about moving but a larger place would be out of the question with the current sky high property prices. Alternatively we looked at apartments that had an additional small room for use as a study/playroom. Finally dh sat me down and asked "how do we want to live?","how do we want our home life to be like"?","what are our objectives for our home?"

The answer surprised me! We came to the conclusion that even though our living room is constantly messy and cramped, we like that everyone congregates here, because the toys and board games are kept here, all our books and bookcases are here, the TV, computers and internet connection are here, so is the dining table, study table, and even the piano! This is where family life happens for us! It wasn't planned, it just evolved that way.

There are some deliberate decisions, like not subscribing to wireless, and keeping the only internet connection in the living room, so that the boys can only surf the net where we can see them. And some enforced impact, for eg, when one or both of the boys are doing homework or studying for exams, nobody else can watch TV and usually some classical music goes on and all of us sit down to read/have bible study, etc. Love that!

We decided this kind of family time is what we want to keep at all cost (especially as they enter teenage years and the impending leaving the nest that follows!). The Family Room is here to stay! We will simply make improvements to make the Family Room more able to accomodate our needs.

So we have decided to renovate! Last two weeks we had been pouring over home magazines, design books (titled along the lines of Living in Small Spaces, Compact Living, etc, lol) meeting contractors, interior designers to get quotes,... it's very exciting and I'll try to document the process in layouts and post them too. We are likely to end up with floor to ceiling book shelves, two work tops to accomodate the two computers and two laptops, cupboards for toys, displays for toys (completed exorforce, lego star wars sets, etc), a more streamlined dining area that doubles up as study table, and finally, a new coat of paint :)

Well with all that happening, you can imagine not much scrapping was done, but I have this layout done in May, following Ali Edward's A Week in The Life of project - documenting one week in our lives in 2010! I was happy to do this since I took a break from last year's 365 project - you should really consider this if you find 365 for a whole year too daunting!
                                     (click on image to see larger image)
You may recognise that this layout is from a template set I made for the Everyday Life Kit that is being given away by The Daily Digi as part of their subscription gift for subscribing to The Digi Game!
Here's my contribution:
And here's the entire kit!
Get Your Digi Game On
I love The Daily Digi for featuring both well-known and new or relatively unknown designers, and they gave me a huge opportunity last year which was a great honor. Love the monthly Digi Files too, always a great bargain and a chance to try out many designers that we would not otherwise have a chance to!

Now to some great stuff! I've always admired Tawn's creativity, eye for color and balance, and fantastic photography, and this time she's topped herself. She said she did close to 60 layouts in two weeks, I am officially GREEN WITH ENVY, I mean, look at these layouts!!!

How do you do it, Tawn?? Love them all. For more creative goodness, check out her blog - Homemakin' Girl

You know, I really want to catch up on my scrapping (I am one of those who scrap ALL of my photos). And Tawn has inspired me. I am seriously going to start USING my own templates for my layouts, instead of creating every one of them from scratch. Unless I hate the process, I will stick with this plan for a while, it should help me catch up! That would mean a lot less new templates will be created, but I'll make sure one or two is shared at least every month with you here, and we'll see how the plan goes.

Finally, one last created from scratch layout/template to share, here's us snow-mobiling in Sapporo, Hokkaido!!
This template is now available as a set in the store HERE

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mark of a Man

Last week was DH's birthday and I made him a photobook! I titled it "The Mark of a Man'' to commemorate and celebrate how I feel about where he is in his life right now, in my opinion he embodies what a man should be, I may be biased, but that's surely how I feel! :) I concentrated mainly on describing what he means to our family as a father and a husband, and also in his profession as a teacher. Of course there was a lot more I could have included, but this was manageable and so meaningful to us. Oh did I mention he absolutely loved it!!

I thought of the title first, then tried but was not eloquent enough to put into words what I meant. So I googled and found this fantastic quote from Elisabeth Elliot's book The Mark of a Man (she is one of my favorite authors, I have read many of her books, including Let Me Be a Woman, but did not know of this one!):

The Mark of a Man:
The world cries for men who are strong: strong in conviction, strong to lead, to stand, to suffer... glad to shoulder the burden of manliness. Characteristics of manhood that were exemplified in the life of Christ. Responsibility, sacrifice, courage, obedience, initiative, forgiveness and endurance...
by Elisabeth Elliot

Wow.. what do you think of that?
To me that is absolutely beautifully and meaningfully put. And indeed the world cries out for men like that! I know there are some differing views, as indicated in the reviews of the book on amazon, mainly regarding the strict views of manhood that Elisabeth Elliot lays out in her book. But I'm totally sold.

I find myself asking if we are raising our boys to be men as so defined. We fuss over their studies, over the right influence they are getting through media, books, friends, over their health, diet, and so on. Again I'm reminded on the main objective of our parenting role, to guide them to know God and love Him for themselves, and to be like Christ. And hopefully responsible, strong, courageous, .. men.

Obviously we need to ground them in God's word, and show them by example how to walk with Him. And thankfully (as I said in my book for dh), they have their father as an example. Are there other things I can do to train up men, as a mom? For a start, i'm ordering the book to read with them! And do you think my 'training' Ryan to carry heavy loads for mommy will help in some way ...? (smile)

Much food for thought indeed. And much prayer required too, of course, as we parent sons. Do share with me if you have similar thoughts!

I'm excited to show you all the book! I chose to do it in a 8x8 format, photos on the right pages, and journalling on the left pages, with a couple of full page photos to complete it. Below are the inside pages.
The pictures above are of Ryan when he was one! He was once a chubby baby! And noticed dh has not aged at all in the last 12 years??
That's baby Ryan on the left and baby Jared on the right, oh how I miss them as babies!
And can you tell which is the photo from our honeymoon?
This time, due to the limited time in which I had to pull it together in time for dh's birthday, I did not have time to send the book to the US for printing, but instead printed it locally at FotoHub, it was beaufitul, printed on thick photo print paper, and opened flat, cost about US$54 for 30 pages, (much more than it would on shutterfly if I had a discount) but I got it in three days(!)

And you can find all the right side of the albums as a 10 page template set available in the store

Now I've pulled out two more 8.5x11 layouts that I love from the past, which I'm now progressively getting ready for printing into a book(can't wait!), have put them into templates for you below :)

Actually I've really been productive, 3 more layouts from Hokkaido trip have been completed. All snow, snow, and more snow days spent last december in Otaru and Niseko, it was as we planned, 10 days of non-stop snow and winter wonderland for us tropical folks, we totally soaked (or was it froze) it in!
 (click on image to see larget view) 

This template is now available as a set in the store HERE

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Praises makes a difference

It's final exams period here, Jared has just completed his, but Ryan has two more weeks to go. Thankfully it's not the other way round, because it would be impossible to motivate J to press on if his brother was all done and relaxing, like J is now!

As usual it was a struggle with J through the past two weeks of intensive revision. He tends to be inconsistent in his daily work, so there were a lot of tears (him) and incessant nagging (me) while we help him catch up. But interestingly (and thankfully) he is more matured this year, and now has the desire to do well (he wants to enter his brother's secondary school). Except that the spirit is willing but the flesh is still weak (!) So I had to be his study buddy and sat with him all day and revised with him. Needless to say, he did not enjoy my company very much, lol!

I'm not sure if I'm the norm or not, but I'm guilty of scolding more than praising my children on most any given day. There's so much I can find to nag them about, lol! The situation got far worse the past few exam revision weeks, naturally.

So it was time to apply the 'home training lesson' I took home from Bible Study Fellowship entitled "Amazing results will happen when children hear positive words and encouragement from you". It suggests that we need to practise praising at every chance and even listed a compilation of phrases like:

"I'm so impressed! I really like that! You amaze me! I thank God for you everyday! I'm glad you thought of that!"

I came up with some praises of my own:

"See, you did it! Great task completion! Good attention to detail! You're so creative! Nobody can do that in our family except you! I'm glad you took the initiative! That's very thoughtful of you! I love your attention to detail! Great job tidying up! I could tell you put in a lot of effort! That's impressive, you know, ..."

It was easy to come up with praises once I got going. The boys responded so differently to praise compared to nagging..haha..Hate to admit that I needed a simple reminder to practise what I always knew was so important. And so I'm now happily practising finding every opportunity to praise my kids (and hubby too!). It's definitely rubbing off, on them and me. Pray I keep it up!

11 X 8.5 Layouts
In the comments to my last post, a question was posed asking it I would ever consider doing 8.5 X 11 templates for those who prefer that format? Well, as you know I only want to make templates from layouts I make for myself, but guess what? When I started out digiscrapping, I made layouts in the 8.5 X11  format so as to be able to print them out on my home printer. And I've been wanting to go back to update and complete the layouts from our trip to New Zealand in 2005 for a photobook. Your comment encouraged me to start working on them and I'll post the templates too!

Here's the first two layouts I dug out, they were both on a flat blue (photoshop color-filled) background (did not have access to much scrapbooking supplies then), which I decided now to discard, in favour of my current favorite white background. I was already using the linear style then! And ever since, double pages! Haha!
I can't get over how tiny the boys were, just 5 years ago! Jared just sat beside me and told me some of what he remembers from that day, he was six then. We huffed and puffed, coaxed and cajoled the boys up the hill, and I remember how proud and exhilarated we all felt when we got to the topafter 5+ hours. And that amazing, breathtaking view!

You can download both templates here

And I've happily completed more Hokkaido trip layouts. We arrived in Niseko train station enroute to the Niseko Ski resorts. It was a one carriage train that fetched us away from the city into the country, stark and completed snowed out, so utterly beautiful.
Credits: foliage by Elisas bits, paper by Cinnamondesigns, and alpha by Krista Hartley and word art by Paislee press.

Now this Onsen experience is quite another story, after much deliberation, we decided we just could not bring ourselves to join in the public onsen (bath) so we spurlged on one night in a room with it's own onsen pool! It was an experience alright, the water was lovely with a faint mineral scent and color, but I couldn't take the heat and felt faint after 20 minutes (lol). We thought the boys would not go near it, but they loved it!
Credits: petals by Ajay Abney designs, word art and backgroun paper from rejuvenate by sahlinstudio, paint splatter from Cafe J.

And the next two layouts are just us trudging around in the abundant snow the next morning, making our first little snow man (we had not imagined it was so hard to make him big and round!)

 Credits: word art by Ali Edwards, snow flake and 'snowball'by Dani Mogstad, blue paper by A Victoria
This is now available as part of Template Pack 7 in the store. Thanks for your interest!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moving on & Simplicity

Wow it's been longer than I thought since I last posted! Don't worry, we are very well. I've just been caught up with regular life, in particular work. Some updates: I've moved onto a new job just about a week ago. Have prayed about this move for nearly 6 months and seen God's clear Hand guiding me in this matter, and left with mixed feelings (terribly sad but also eager to move onto something new after nearly ten years doing the same thing). Worked long hours in the last few weeks to ensure proper handover, and now at the new place, taking more time to familiarise myself and settle in, and for those reasons could not keep up with my usual daily scrapping!

Here's a layout I made of 'moving on', took photos of the farewell cards and gifts as well as stuff that I took back from my old office, all the memories and momentoes!
Just want to share also, what I've learnt through this whole period, that no matter where I work, whether at familiar old responsibilities or at exciting new opportunities, it is God who gives me security and hope, stability and peace from within. God is so good.

I did a lot of clearing out the the last two weeks, my stuff accumulated over 9+ years at my old office (imagine!), and also took the chance of a few days break to clear out at home my closet, shoe cabinet, bookshelves, and drawers and shelves. How much we accumulate! Although some of the stuff have sentimental value, there is so much that just goes unused. Managed to give pack bags of clothes and stuff to a Home nearby that runs a thrift shop and felt so much better after! The sentimental stuff I took photos and promised myself to scrap the stories behind them, and that helped me discard more stuff. See, another great reason everyone should scrapbook! :)

Where scrapping is concerned, I'm catching up on my 2010 layouts, what I'd like to call 'Stories from our 2010'. Still some more to go, here are the ones I have completed, all 12X12, in simple (simplicity applies in scrapping for me too) linear style, love how quickly I can put them together!

Here's us playing Bang! The Card Game. We are competitive, and always have lots of fun with games. Great story of our everyday life! I've made the Template 219 for this layout for you, the download link is at the bottom of this post.
Here's a layout of the wonderful times I spent with Dh at the free concerts at our Esplanade - performing arts centre.
And get togethers with old friends and meeting the newest family members and seeing how all the children have grown!

And I found these series of photos of Jared playing with bubbles from last year, that begs to be scrapped. He is still terribly fond of playing with them, no matter that he is nearly twelve!!
The chinese rock concert by the May Day group that dh brought me to - I did not attend any such concerts until I was in my thirties - I'm a late bloomer!
And here's us at our favorite weekend eating place - the japanese Manpuku - we are there 70% of all saturdays for the good spread of cheap good food - we are very much creatures of habit :)

And this from the day spent at the beach on our National Day - more layouts to follow!

Have put together 10 of these linear layouts into this template album set, available in the STORE Thanks for looking!

My feature at Shutterfly was such an honor and so much fun, it's over now, but if you had missed picking up the mini kit and the template 213, here they are:
You can go to Shutterfly Celebrations Blog to download, or you can go here for the papers, here for the elements. I do not design kits anymore, these were put together from old stuff I made long ago. Hope you like them!
These photos were all taken by Jared when he got to attend the full dress rehearsal of our National Day Parade. All primary 5 students in Singapore gets to attend as part of National Education program - he totally enjoyed it, and his photos were awesome! When Jared got home and said he enjoyed the National Parade tremondously, we asked why, and he said, "endless, countless tanks of all shapes, guns, and sizes rolled past us!!" The next day, my girlfriend whose daughter also attended the same Parade told me she did not find it great, why? "There was nothing but tanks!" LOL! the boys and girls experienced it so differently!! I guess the gender-blurring we so often hear about has not happened to these two :)
This template is now available as a set in the store HERE
And finally, download Template 219 here. Love to hear from you!


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