Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Nativity - A Proclamation

As I started thing about what I'm doing for presents this year, I remembered that I never did get around to posting this project I did last year for my mom and mother-in-law.

I knew I wanted to make a nativity, but I rather than just have it be a rendition, I wanted to find a way to help it to mean more. I thought about how the family featured in the nativity is the perfect example of a family, and what better way to represent them than by adding what we believe a perfect family should be.

We asked one of our "mature friends" at church for the use of his scroll saw (I cut out an extra so I would have one to experiment on, which turned out to be integral when I messed up the stain on one). 

To apply the text I used this tutorial for transferring text to wood using an acrylic gel medium (and printing the text mirrored). But I discovered that when they say leave it overnight, they mean it:

The longer I gave it to set the better it turned out. The hardest part is definitely rubbing the paper off after it's applied, that took me a couple of hours each.

I found that the stain turned out funny if I did it after the application (and highlighted any areas I didn't get the paper off well enough), but looked really beautiful when I stained them before adding the text. I also used modge podge to seal the ink, rather than wax, which worked fabulously and added a glossy look.

Hopefully that helps you with your ideas for meaningful gift-giving this Christmas! And now I need to get back to work on my plans for this year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Faux Military and Hotel-Living

We're finally getting settled into our new "house." It's actually not a house or an apartment at all, we're essentially staying in an extended stay hotel. This rotation Cameron is at the Air Force Academy, so we  (through the assistance of a pair of temporary IDs attained at great length) are living on-base in the TLF (temporary living facility).

Both the faux-military lifestyle and living in a hotel are new experiences to us, so in addition to the abundance of airplanes to point at, here are a few of the awesome and not so awesome things we are looking forward to for the next three months:

Our place is fully furnished with a stocked kitchen
Awesome: We didn't have to get a truck, troll craigslist, or include a kitchen in our baggage this time. Also, we've never had a TV before, and we now have three. With cable. With ESPNU. Football season isn't over just yet, and basketball is coming.
Less Awesome: Apparently everyone is not as versed as we are in what constitutes kitchen essentials. According to our experience, a cookie sheet is essential... a corkscrew and two can openers not so much.

Wireless and Utilities are included
Awesome: We didn't have to set them up as soon as we got here, and it's going to be 78 degrees in here all winter!
Less Awesome: Did I mention we don't have an address? It's true. Apparently they don't expect that people will live here long enough to have mail sent. Please send any Christmas cards c/o an immediate family member of ours, and I'm sure we'll get it sooner or later.

We have a dishwasher, washer, and dryer IN OUR APARTMENT for the first time in our marriage. Awesome: No negatives here! Note my above comments about our utilities. You better believe I always have a clean spoon for cereal.

Room service.
Awesome: Who's not taking out the trash, making the bed, or cleaning the bathroom for three months? Cameron. But I don't have to pick up his slack either. They also change the toilet paper and refill the soap.
Less Awesome: They're not allowed to touch personal items so we have to be on our game. My motivation looks like this: If I put my clothes away instead of leaving them on the bed then someone else washes the sheets.

Hardwood floors
Awesome: Bring on the potty training
Less Awesome: Footie pajamas

Apparently the base is home to an abundance of wildlife including deer, bear, cougars, and elk.
Awesome: Wes has been thrilled to spot deer outside the last two nights
Less Awesome: There have been deer in the road the last two nights. Also, the possibility of being eaten.

The base has stables just a few blocks away.
Awesome: Horses are awesome
Less Awesome: They don't have any giraffes (I'll let you guess who was disappointed about that)

There is a playground next to our building
Awesome: It has a "really fast"twisty slide
Less Awesome: The next building over is the Child Development Center with an even sweeter playground and lots of "friends" that we can hear having a great time, but because of our faux-military status Wes can't go there (believe me, I tried). We also can't buy things in the stores on base, or use the gas station.

We get to live in the secure part of the base:
Awesome: Cam has essentially no commute, and I've never felt safer in my life.
Less Awesome: The "threat level" on base is posted on every building. Generally it's Alpha. If it's ever Beta, we can't enter the base (go home) since we only have affiliation with the base as visitors. So if I were to be say at the grocery store and it changed... it would be a long day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Moving by Car

Between getting acquainted with Dawson and squeezing in hanging out with all of our Oregon friends, the last three months sped by. And another three months means that we've moved, again.

This time our move was to Colorado Springs, so rather than flying and taking just three suitcases, we opted to drive and just took what fit in the car. 20 hours. With a 2 1/2 year-old and an 8 week-old. The implications of course are that Wes isn't a fan of car trips, and we could only go a max of 2 1/2 hours before we need to stop so Dawson could eat.

We decided that it would be best to get everything packed up and moved out of or old house Wednesday, spend the night at my parents' so we would have the Thursday to focus on loading the car, getting trip food etc. Then we would leave Friday morning and take three days to get there, staying at my Dad's cousin's at the Idaho border the Friday night, and then at Cam's brother's in Utah Saturday night.

The first part at least went according to plan. Packed up, moved out, and got to my parents' house. After dinner we were sitting on the couch watching the news, and the weather man said that there was going to be a storm rolling in the next afternoon. We verified on several websites that there was a storm  moving just fast enough that it would leave snow in the Blue Mountains just before we got there, make roads icy in Idaho, and dump snow in the pass through the Rockies as we headed through... assuming we made it that far.

So we made the stressful decision to leave the next morning rather than take a day to prepare. We stayed up late packing, called everyone to tell them we'd be a day early, and I got up early to get food. I got a call from my Dad's cousin that her kids had been throwing up all night. So we called a friend of Cam's near Boise and asked if we could stay...that night. We started loading the car up just to realize that Wesley's car seat was in my mom's car from the night before, and she had already gone to work. So I made that hour-long detour before we hit the road as the rain started.
It only took us an hour to get ahead of the rain. It caught up during our first stop for lunch, but we managed to get well ahead of it and over the Blue Mountains as it started to get dark. Since we had to get all the way to Boise it got dark 2 hours before we got to our stop, so thank goodness for glowsticks (thanks Michelle!) and Cam strapping his nexus to the back of his seat so Wes could watch a movie.

Travel day 2 was the hardest for Wes. We woke up to clear skies and piled in the car as the clouds started to appear in the distance. After only an hour and a half, Wes hit a wall and we had to take the next exit which fortunately had a park. When we stopped there was no wind, but by the time we were leaving it had picked up quite a bit. Wes finally crashed while playing with Dawson's burp rags (we're good parents)
We made it to Cam's brother's just as it started to rain on us.

I need to take a quick second to give Dawson a shout-out for his exceptional traveling. We would stop, feed him, burp him, and stick him back in his seat. He would play for a few minutes and fall asleep and not wake up until the car stopped. I am grateful we got the baby we did.

That night we realized that we might not be able to outrun the storm any longer. We went to bed with the understanding that at 7 the next morning we would make the call to either break for it or have to wait it out. The next morning we found out that there would be "blizzard conditions and blinding snow" in the pass, so we finally got that rest day that we all needed, and Wes got a tour of our Alma Mater (can you tell he likes that sweatsuit?)
The next day Cam insisted we leave at sunrise so we'd hit the pass in daylight. Of course, what we didn't anticipate was that the sun would be in our eyes the first two hours. Wes isn't a fan of sun in his eyes, so here's the cave we made to keep him happy (he's wearing brown sweats I promise).
It was sunny and warm all through Utah, and the ice and snow had all melted by the time we hit the pass. We made it safe and sound to Cam's sister's house in Denver... with at least 15 hours before Cam's first day of his rotation!