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


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