Farewell January…

…it was nice knowing you, but I can’t say I’m sad to see you go.

Oh, there were good moments like Kei starting a new job, an end-of-month girls weekend at a spa (more on that later) and some great progress at the swimming pool for our five-year-old (head  fully under water!). But there were also quite a few challenges like Kei starting a new job (bye bye reliable schedule), a plague that swept through our house and took down Samuel and me at the same time, a workload that threatens to pull me under and, of course, the endless dreariness of a Northwest winter.

I’ve been feeling tired, uninspired and generally crabby –  but the optimist in me hopes that a new month and the promise of only a few more weeks of winter will help pull me out of this funk.

Thankfully my two year old seems to be coming out of his. The past week or so has been an enormous improvement in terms of behaviour and general attitude. He yells less, laughs more and has fewer tantrums. He’s also more likely to wake up in the morning on the RIGHT side of the bed. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I feel like I may be getting my happy baby back.

Which brings me to my I heart faces photo this week – best face photo in January. It’s not a perfect photo by any means, but it’s a wonderful memory of a nice, relaxing bedtime without arguments, challenges or screaming – a routine that is become more common as my little boy grows up. And how grown up he looks!

So goodbye January and hello to a February that promises more photos (with some new equipment), new eyes (hoping literally as well as figuratively) and the possibility of a little more sunshine.

Australia Day: What You Need to Know

Australia Day is the official national day of Australia, commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and our separation from England (oh, wait…).

Of course if I were in Australia right now I’d be celebrating with beer and a BBQ, but since we are yet to have the President proclaim the day as a national US holiday (I’m working on it), I will take this moment to share a few educational facts about the country of my birth.

  • We pronounce it AL-U-MIN-I-UM because we spell it that way. Same goes for AEROPLANE.
  • The toilets DO flush in the opposite direction, the moon appears upside-down and summer is in winter.
  • THONG is not a dirty word. (Please check in with me if you would like to be schooled on words which are, in fact, considered dirty in Australia but perfectly acceptable in the United States).
  • There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia and only around 20 million people.
  • In 1954 a man named Bob Hawke made it into the Guinness Record Book for downing 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob Hawke then went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia. (true story)


Missing Out

I enjoy participating in the I Heart Faces photo challenges each week – mostly because they give me a blog topic and a reason to dig out photos that may otherwise be forgotten. And every once in a while these challenges spark a thought or reflection that may otherwise have slipped by.

This week’s challenge, “Innocent Wonder” sent me digging through photos from the past couple of months until I stopped at this one.

The obvious connection to the theme is the memory of a day with friends at the science museum. A rare opportunity spending some time with my boys as they explored with their eyes and their hands. In this photo Samuel is digging into a sand bath with his friend Patrick. Every so often he’d find a plastic animal and ask me what it was before burying it deeper under the sand or finding a suitable rock to rest it on.

But more than just a photo, this shot makes me think about moments that I am missing. When Thomas was Samuel’s age, I was blessed with a four day work week and the attention span that comes with having just one child. Thomas and I would visit the science museum at least once a month to play in the toddler area where I basked in the wonder of his learning and development and enjoyed that short, but significant, time we had together – just the two of us. I worry that Samuel is missing out on that same experience and, OK, I worry that I am missing out on it more.

I doubt there is any one person who feels as though they couldn’t do with just a little more time. My fear is that I haven’t been using mine wisely. Kei is in charge of pick up and drop off for Samuel so I took on the duty of putting him to bed each night for a little bonding time. Lately, however, I have been more worried about getting him to bed quickly and without too much frustration, rather than enjoying the short time we have together each day.

He’s only going to be two years old for a few more short months and I realize that I am missing this most precious period when his language development and curiousity for life is at its most powerful. This photo made me realize that I need to pause and take the time to bask in the wonder a little more and worry about bedtime a little less.

Wasted Weekend

The MLK long weekend had so much promise. 3 days to recharge and relax, get some things done around the house and spend a little fun family time together. We had plans for sledding, we were invited to a sushi party at a friends house, I was going to be ALONE on Monday. Yes, it definitely had promise.

But alas, Samuel’s illness that began Thursday night turned into a five day event, taking me down for a day and Kei for a few hours in the process (he got off easy in my opinion). Thomas seems to be the only one unaffected so far (banging very hard on the closest piece of wood I can find). I am starting to feel almost back to normal today, although a little weak and out of breath. Samuel woke up chatty and happy – a far cry from yesterday when he lay on the couch for hours, even while the TV was turned off.

So, needless to say, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for blogging and taking photos between loads of laundry (about 10 loads since Thursday), looking after two boys and trying to squeeze in a little of my day job. Oh, and Kei is in week #2 of his job so him taking a day off to balance the childcare has not been an option. Feeling sorry for me yet?

OK – enough complaining. I am going to power forward and make it to Friday and then I am going to collapse in a heap. Good thing I have a girls spa weekend away in the not-to-distant future. I seriously am counting the days.

And since I haven’t picked up my camera in a while, I only have a few iphone photos to share. The boys and I managed to venture into the front yard on Monday for about an hour while the sun was shining. That 60 minutes may have been the only thing to preserve my sanity.

My Baby As He Should Be

Samuel is sick. Not “slight sniffle and a little cranky sick”. Nope. He is “barfing until the pile of laundry hits the ceiling” sick. Thankfully we seem to have some temporary relief from the carnage and he is sleeping soundly on the couch right now. He didn’t get to sleep until 2:30 this morning and was up at 6am so he has some catching up to do. Come to think of it, so do I.

Looking forward to the next few days when (hopefully) my baby is back to his normal self. In case you’ve forgotten what that might look like, I share with you a quick modeling session that Samuel and his Daddy blessed me with a couple of weeks back.

Show me happy!

Show me thoughful!

Show me surprised!

Show me angry!

Show me scared!

Now please get well soon so I can see happy again.


Say Cheese!

I need to take more photos – at least that’s the conclusion I came to while sifting through recent photos for this week’s I Heart Faces photo challenge. I find winter in Portland to be such a tough time for inspiration. On the rare occasion that the sun is shining, I usually find myself driving in the car or sitting in a cubicle. Of course my christmas present should help get me out of this rut – but first I need to learn how to use it.

Thankfully I found one little gem that was perfect for this week’s challenge. I took it a week or so before Christmas. I know the cheesy smile is frowned upon in many photography circles, but this face means that Samuel actually wants me to take his photograph – and Samuel is usually very clear about where and when he wants his photograph taken. The kid definitely has the attitude of a 2 year old.

2010 A Look Back: The People I Love

3rd and final post in my attempt to wade through thousands of photos and choose my favourites from the year. It began with “The Places I’ve Been“, then “The Things I’ve Seen“. This post will share a few of my favourite photos of “The People I Love”.

2010 was a great year for family bonding. We managed to see almost every single member of our immediate families – both Kei’s and mine. With my family in Australia and Kei’s spread between Ohio and Japan, this was no easy task.

In just twelve short months we:

  • Were witnesses to a beautiful wedding in Melbourne. A wedding that has resulted in the promise of a new little addition to our family in May (nephew #6).
  • Caught up with Aunts and cousins from across Australia, many of whom I hadn’t seen since my own wedding over 11 years earlier.
  • Sent our children off with the grandparents for  their very first overnight stay without us and we all survived the separation -even the grandparents.
  • Watched my three nephews experienced the Pacific ocean for the very first time, all while trying to come to terms with the fact that I now have a nephew in college.
  • Stood back and observed while a twelve year old bonded with his four year old cousin over Star Wars.
  • Traveled back to the place where we first met to visit a mother-in-law who we had not seen in over 12 years – and then marveled at how quickly it felt like no time had passed at all.
  • Felt immense relief and joy when a five year old boy literally jumped into the arms of the grandmother he had never met.
  • Caught up with a long lost brother and his young family – nephews #4 and #5.

Sure, it was expensive and, at times, exhausting, but the one thing that I think about when I reflect on the past year is how incredibly fortunate we are to have a family that remains connected despite the enormous distances that keep us physically separated. Here are just a few of the many photos that I took celebrating this connection.

And finally, our little family on January 1st as we look forward to making more connections in 2011.