Just Because…

This was a long, busy week and next week is looking just as busy and perhaps even longer. It’s 10:30 on a Friday night and I just finished a few things for work, so my weekend is just beginning and I plan to make the most of it. And by making the most of it I mean trying to do as little as possible – and sleeping as much as possible.

In celebration of the weekend, I’ll kick it off with a few sparkles. Happy Friday!

Iron Bartender 2010: A Brief Recap

When my friends and I began planning the Iron Bartender event way back in April of 2009, I doubt many of us fully appreciated the magnitude of the task ahead of us. This was one of the more challenging, but also one of the most rewarding (and fun) experiences of my life.

A few highlights from the evening:

  • Renting every last remaining shot glass in Portland for the People’s Choice cocktail tasting.
  • Looking out over a crowd of about 250 people packed into the Jupiter Hotel Dream Tent.
  • Reading through the contents of each of the deluxe raffle “baskets”, but disappointed at not winning the instant wine cellar for myself. 🙂
  • Experiencing the excitement in the room when an auction for two of the competitor’s drinks topped out at the $1,000 mark.
  • Raising more than $20K for Children’s Relief Nursery and helping set them up for an equally successful event in 2011 – although they will likely need a bigger tent.

And of course there was the opportunity to take photos. Although I was “working” for the entire evening, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the night. You can also view the full album here.

A few of my partners in crime – Dana, Ali, Laurie (who is a ROCK STAR. The event wouldn’t have happened without her) and Karen.

The husbands showed their support by attending and…uh…drinking.

Elizabeth Markham – one of the competitors and the one who can proudly brag about the most expensive drink.

The judges.

Competitors in action.

My husband posing for the camera.

Bidding on the drink auction.

The announcement – winner Evan Zimmerman from Laurelhurst Market.

The four competitors – all great friends.

You can read more recaps of the event at the following blogs (and both of them feature my photos – yippee!).

Love Letters From My Child and Other P365 Adventures

Sometimes I really wish I was in Australia for the beginning of project 365. I really miss the natural light in this dark, dreary Portland winter. I leave for work in the dark and I get home in the dark, so I consider myself lucky if I am able to catch a worthwhile picture or two in between. Good thing I have a persistant attitude and plenty of stubbornness on my side.

Thomas brings home a ton of papers each week. Some of them are just tracings of letters (English and Japanese) while others are works of art worth keeping in the special portfolio that we bought for the purpose.

And then there are the few pieces of work that deserve pride of place on my cube wall at work. This one is officially the first love letter from my four year old, complete with hand-drawn love heart. Of course when I asked him to read it to me, he explained that he was most proud of the penguin sticker in the middle.

On Sunday we searched for things to do outside the house during the seemingly endless downpour. Sadly, hanging out at the mall was the only thing we could come up with that was free and, at the same time, allowed us to run a few errands. This little guy is one of the resident dogs that sit in the counter at the place where I get my shoes repaired. He was cute and the kids loved him. I am still resisting adding a furry addition to our family though. Stay strong Nicole.

Kei I bought a light reflector with part of the gift certificate we received from his sister for Christmas (thanks Mary). I won’t go into detail about how much effort it took me to get Thomas to stand next to the reflector so I could take a test shot. Let’s just say that four year olds are not the most cooperative of photo subjects – I think I may have even bribed him – and I didn’t even try it with Samuel. It was good test nonetheless, but I think I’ll save future use for objects other people’s children.

Tonight at bath time. I was home by myself and grateful that the boys were enjoying each other’s company. In fact they were having so much fun that I eventually had to drag them out of the bath. I won’t even begin to explain the trauma I went through to get their pajamas on.

Oh, and on the winter darkness depression thing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve booked a trip home to Australia – and one with a wedding no less. Can’t wait for the photo opps!

At 20 months Samuel is…

…stubborn, demanding, frustrating and loud. But he is also adorable, chatty, smart, funny and affectionate. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the latter when he’s driving me crazy with the more challenging aspects of his personality. I can definitely say there is never a dull moment with Samuel around. Just a few things I want to remember:

  • Kisses – He LOVES to give big wet sloppy kisses and ‘uggs (Hugs). I love it that he won’t let me leave the house in the morning without a kiss.
  • Words – Samuel has a LOT of them. Tonight he said “Thomas! Brush. Teeth. Now.”
  • Adoration – for his big brother Thomas. He now asks (OK, demands) Thomas to play with him. It’s adorable.
  • Independence – I know he probably gets it from his mother but it can be a little much sometimes – especially when I am trying to brush his teeth.
  • Cheekiness – The kid knows how charming he is, and plays it to his best advantage.

I played around a little with textures for the latest challenge for

I don’t use textures very often, but I really like the effect it had on this photo. Ignore the obnoxious hat. I was hoping it would disappear after Thomas was done with it, but it’s amazing sometimes how lost items resurface when you have two curious boys despite your best efforts to hide them.

Car Boot Diaper Changes, Old School Buses and a Grown Up Night Out

This week was busy – crazy busy. For 7 months I have been on the planning committee for the 2010 Portland Iron Bartender Event and our hard work all paid off on Thursday night. I will have more photos to share as soon as I have a moment or two to edit them.

But before the Iron Bartender, I had to get through the week… Here are my P365 photos.

On Sunday we made a pilgrimage to the Japanese grocery store to stock up on noodles, sake, saba (mackerel) and natto. I would have loved to take some photos of the rows of shelves stocked with my favourite foods but a little sign out front said no photo or video and I’m too chicken to break the rules.

Instead I resorted to a picture of Samuel waiting in the boot (trunk) of the car for his diaper to be changed while I was rained on. The trunk of the car seemed more practical than squeezing myself into a public bathroom that may (or may not) have had a changing table. Samuel didn’t seem to mind.

I spotted an old school bus after my impromptu playground photo session on Monday. It gave me the perfect opportunity to play around with a few vintage photo edits.

Have I mentioned how much I love Ikea? One of our latest purchases was a couple of ghost night lights – so cute!

I pick Thomas up from school every day and every day we make the same walk down this long corridor to the car. It’s where we begin our “tell me about your day” conversation that often continues in the car. My commute home each day takes a long time now that I make this extra stop – anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes – but I never get tired of the extra time that Thomas and I have together.  The way he talks sometimes is so grown up that I forget that he has only been on the planet for four years.

One of the Iron Bartender competitors from Thursday night. It took me a long time to choose one photo from the 300 or so that I took over the course of the evening, but this one captures the vibe. So much fun! I’ll post more photos from the event soon.

Samuel got an owie at school yesterday, right above his eye. He has been so clumsy lately that I suspect he is having a growth spurt. Samuel is taking it in stride but I am a nervous wreck.

Playground Mosaic

Today is a holiday. A REAL holiday which means that I am at home and the boys are at daycare. I should be cleaning the house or doing something equally productive. Just waiting for the motivation to kick in.

After I dropped the boys off this morning I walked home through the park. The sun was out – calm after a wind storm – and the playground was empty of children. I took the rare opportunity to play – not on the swings but with my camera. It reminded me how much I miss taking photos outside during the winter months and how nice it is to be able to take time for photos, instead of a moment or two between “stop that” and “come here”.

It was ironic then that I focused on the playground instead of a more adult location for my impromptu shoot.

A Family Portrait

This week’s challenge for…

is “we are family”. Sadly it made me realize how few photos I have of my own family – well, all of us together anyway. That is definitely something I’ll have to work on in 2010.

So I chose one of my favorite client family photos from last year. I was incredibly proud of myself for being able to get everyone in the same photo. I love that they’re all doing their own thing but that the littlest boy is the center of attention.

P365 Days 11 through 16

I begin today’s P365 post with another plug for the Iron Bartender Charity event

The event is next Thursday, Jan 21st. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I have it on good authority that there are some fabulous raffle baskets up for grabs. You can buy tickets at the door if you attend. I’m talking about Sunriver vacations, a starter wine cellar, a kayaking trip and some swee-eeet Blazers tickets (my husband will definitely have his eyes on those).

You can purchase tickets here. Plug over. 🙂

I took this P365 photo at our last meeting at the Doug Fir bar in Portland. Very low light so my ISO was cranked way up and it resulted in a lot of camera noise, but I think it’s pretty nonetheless.

Avert your eyes if you’re uncomfortable with potty talk. Yes, we have begun potty training with number two (no pun intended). He said he wanted to pee and then went and sat down and…well…did. Two nights in a row. He was so proud of himself, although he hasn’t done it since. I have my fingers crossed that the second child really is more advanced with this particular skill.

Samuel enjoying an afternoon snack. This kid spends a lot of his time eating so you’ll likely see more of these types of photos during the year. I like how it looks like he was caught in the act.

A little naked playtime after bathtime. Boy, Samuel is really going to hate me for this post in a few years.

Happy year of the tiger. We enjoyed a little taiko drumming and traditional mochi pounding (pictured) at an event at Thomas’ school. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know that mochi was made out of just rice and water until a couple of nights ago. I still don’t like it although, with the speed that Thomas swallowed the mochi sample, I predict a visit the Japanese grocery store in our future.

And then today. This was the calm before the storm when the boys enjoyed a rare moment of playing nicely together at Barnes and Noble before we took a trip to doctor’s office. I took them for their swine flu vaccination and let’s just say that the older and more aware they get, the harder it becomes to jab them with a needle. Thomas insisted that Samuel go first – and then he cried. Loudly. Then it was Thomas’ turn and who can blame him for not wanting to endure the same experience. Nevertheless, I held him down (yes, traumatic for mama) and he was jabbed. And then he cried too until the nurse gave them both a cookie to help ease the pain. After the tears had subsided a little, Thomas declared that he didn’t want to go back to the doctor ever again. Good thing his birthday and annual checkup is not for another 9 months.

Supporting Haiti

I was listening to NPR this morning on my drive into work and the stories coming from Haiti had me in tears – particularly those of children without parents and parents without children.

Mercy Corps is an organization that Kei and I support – as does the company I work for. The vast majority of the fund they raise goes directly to relief efforts and they have a proven history in supporting women and children – something I am passionate about.

I also sent $10 to the Red Cross this morning just by keying a few numbers into my AT&T phone. T-Mobile and other carriers are offering the same. It will show up on my phone bill next month and I doubt I will even notice the extra charge.

These are just a couple of things that we plan to do to help. You may have other organizations that have special meaning to you. A donation as small as $10 can go so far.

Something to consider on a Thursday morning…