Five Things Friday: Reads From My Nightstand

P.S. Nightstand = bedside table for my Aussie readers.
P.P.S. Is it rude to begin a post with a P.S.?

I love to read.

Of course I have two children, a full time job and a very busy life so it takes me a lot longer to get through a book these days than in the time BC (before child). (Note to authors – short chapters make my life so much easier). Oh, and I’ve just started watching True Blood from the beginning so I think that may take up some of my precious reading time for the next few months.

At any given time, I have 5 to 10 books sitting on my bedside table just waiting for me to read them. Sometimes I start a book and then leave it to focus on another for a while, so you can find me reading 2-3 books at the same time (well, not at exactly the same time, but you know what I mean…).

For this week’s five things Friday I thought I’d share five books that are sitting on my bedside table right now.

1. At Work by Annie Leibovitz

This book has been on my wishlist for a long time and finally caved and bought it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve made my way through three chapters so far and I’m really enjoying it. Easy to read and the perfect mix of history, biography and photography.

2. NutureShock: New Thinking About Children by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman

I started reading NurtureShock soon after we had Samuel in the hope that I would better understand the sibling relationship and avoid many of the parenting challenges that come with having multiple children. I haven’t picked it up for a couple of years but I think that now may be the perfect time to crack it open again given issues we’ve been having with our youngest child. I’ll take all the advice I can get.

3. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Started reading a few months ago after a friend’s recommendation. Couldn’t really get into it back then but I think I’ll try again after I finish…

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I actually have the whole trilogy sitting on my bedside table and have just commenced book 1. Thoroughly enjoying it so far and doubt I’ll have any trouble finishing the first book before the movie comes out in a couple of months.

5. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
I’m not a big reader of self help books but this one sounds intriguing. Of course it’s been sitting unopened for at least a year and a half so I have no idea if it’s worth reading but I have every intention of reading it cover to cover… after I finish The Hunger Games trilogy.

Also on my nightstand:

  • The Marilyn Monroe issue of Vanity Fair from earlier this year (or maybe it was last year…)
  • The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly
  • A large selection of random childrens’ books

What’s missing? I would love some more suggestions.

Like Selling Ice to Eskimos?

The Portland weather finally gave us a little break on the weekend. And when I say break, I mean that it stopped raining for the the first time in about nine months. I know, I know, talking about the weather is incredibly boring but, when you live in Portland and really look forward to the fabulous summer through a miserable, dreary winter and IT DOESN’T ARRIVE, I think you’re entitled to a little complaining. It’s either that or move to Vegas.

And besides, I’m sure this makes my family back in dreary Melbourne feel a whole lot better. See? I’m performing a public service.

When I first suggested to Mayumi that we take a trip to the Japanese Garden,  I was a little embarrassed. I mean, isn’t EVERY garden in Japan a Japanese garden? Ha! See what I did there?

Of course not all gardens in Japan are as beautiful as the garden we have here in Portland and ours has views of Mt Hood. So, after Mayumi assured me that she wanted to see it and she had research the garden on the intranet as a place she wanted to visit, we decided to take the whole family.

Visiting a Japanese garden can be a very peaceful affair – water fountains, delicately raked stone gardens, immersion in nature. Of course, visiting with three small children in tow, it is a completely different experience. God thing we had a little scavenger hunt to keep them busy – at least for a while. The person at the garden who thought up that little activity is a genius.

Here’s Samuel checking out the scavenger hunt pictures. He insisted on wearing his Buzz Lightyear hat for most of the morning.

Each time I visit the gardens my goal is take photos that share the beauty of this wonderful place. That’s always my goal but, with kids in tow, it’s a challenge. So I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got home and uploaded my photos from the day. I won’t share them all (because there any MANY) but here are a few of my favourites.


The next photo was taken right before Samuel’s meltdown – an event that severely undermined everyone’s Zen. It’s become a daily occurrence – so much so that I may never feel Zen again.

And then to finish our day off in true Japanese fashion, we grabbed a little rotating sushi for lunch. Oishii!

Finally Hot Enough for a Little Water Fun

We had such a wonderful, busy, productive weekend and I have so many photos to share. Of course I need to edit them all first (I’m a little OCD on that front) so, in the meantime, I’ll share a quick photo for this week’s I Heart Faces photo challenge of “Water”.

To be honest, when I saw the challenge subject last week I was a little skeptical that I’d actually be able to take a photo this year that fit the bill. While the rest of the country has been baking, we in the Pacific Northwest have been enjoying an extended spring. What that means is rain, lots of rain. Quite frankly, I’m a little tired of the rain. OK, that’s an understatement.

So, when the sun came out this weekend we did what almost every Portland family does at one time or another, we (actually, I) blow up the wading pool and let the children play while the parents relax on their brand new deck.

May I say again, that the backyard deck is possibly the best invention known to man? We tried it out this weekend and it offered everything we had dreamed about and more (more, meaning a lot of mud thanks to a grassless patch of ground where we set up the wading pool).

Mayumi said it best when I offered her a glass of white wine while we sat and watched the children as the sunlight filled the yard – “I am very happy!” Me too, Mayumi. Me too.

Five Things Friday: A Little Light Entertainment

It’s been a busy week – one that began on Monday and feels as though it should have ended at least a couple of days ago. I took a TON of photographs for work and now have them sitting on my computer ready to edit. Sadly, I have not had the time (or frankly, the weather thanks to the never-ending Portland rain) to take many personal photos but I hope to rectify that over the weekend with a few sightseeing adventures around town.

So, as a lead in to a (hopefully) relaxing weekend, today’s edition of five things Friday shares a few random, whimsical fun websites/articles/blog articles from around the web, including one that literally made me cry with laughter.

1. The top 15 most popular damn you auto complete texts of all time.
Not appropriate for children but will make adults cry with laughter (well, this adult at least).

2. A Popsicle roundup
I’ve been meaning to make Popsicles all summer and this list makes me feel like this might be  the weekend to do it. Now to locate those popsicle thingy’s in the basement…

Would love to create a photo story like this one day. It’s why I have such a passion for photography – sharing stories about real people with amazing images.

4. TESCO virtual supermarket in train station
I could do with one of these in my living room now that New Seasons no longer offers online shopping.

5. Hypothetical Wes Anderson film festival
Love the design elements, right down to the fake movie trailer.

I hope to be back on Monday with  stories and pictures from our upcoming weekend adventures. Until then, I leave you with a group portrait from last weekend taken in a wonderful old window in the Portland Pearl district. Kei wasn’t left out on purpose – he was at home painting our back room which is now ready for furniture (hooray!). Just a few short hours until I park myself on the new deck and settle in for a weekend of fun. Enjoy!


He’s Trying to Break Me.

I’m convinced my three-year-old is trying to break me. Underneath that cute exterior is a diabolical mind that is just trying to see how far he can push me until I crack.

Take this morning for example:

I walk into to the bedroom and open the blinds. Child greets me with a big smile and then puts his head back on pillow. I leave room to get dressed. 5 minutes late, same child is in a mess of tears and whining calling for me to come back. I walk back into the room and following conversation take place:

Mummy (M): I’ll get your clothes
M: Ok – then you get your clothes. I’m going to get dressed (leave room).
M: (grabbing clothes from closet)
M: OK – how about these clothes?
(scene continues for about 10 minutes while I go back and forth between my room and his. Child is finally carried down the stairs to breakfast.)
S: Mummy – may I have a banana for my breakfast please? And some cereal? I love you Mummy.
M: Thank you for asking so nicely. I’ll also get you a spoon (consciously grabbing the spoon with the blue handle).

I won’t bore you with the rest, but let me assure you that this continued for another 30 or so minutes before I was able to leave the house. Of course when we got to school he refused to go in and after we eventually made it to the classroom, I had to peel him off  my leg so I could leave. The whole way down the hall I could hear him screaming “I WANT YOU MUMMY!”.

On the one hand, it broke my heart to leave him in such a mess. On the other, I was grateful that I had this option for both our sakes. I wish this was a one-time event but, sadly, it was the continuation of a rough weekend.

I know he’s going through a lot right now – becoming the middle child overnight must be tough – but where do you draw the line between pandering to a three year old in an attempt to be compassionate and keep the peace, and finally deciding that enough is enough?

And it rained all weekend in Portland. I need a vacation.

Today – I’ll be taking a bunch of pictures and video for work (a good thing) and, apparently, working on my attitude so I can make it toFriday. Wish me luck.

Five Things Friday: The Happy Edition

The sun’s out, the weekend is about to commence – it truly is a happy Friday. Here are five things that made me smile today – including one that should be preceded by a chorus of Angels.

1. Boys who insist on wearing one gumboot and one sneaker to school – and Mums who let them because it’s truly not worth arguing about and, hey, it’s cute. (P.S. Socks are mismatched too)

2. Pixar characters in real life (seen on the way to school)

3. Cuteness that comes in pairs

4. Buskers that literally make you want to dance in the street (I think they were called The Glue Horses but I can’t find them online. Fantastic bluegrass-style. Please leave a comment if you know who they are).

AND, FINALLY (this is where the choir of angels comes in)…

5. A finished deck that’s just inviting me to come and take a seat with a nice glass of wine. (still waiting for the elves to come and finish painting our back room).

Plans for the weekend include more sightseeing around Portland with our Japanese guests – The weather will decide whether we make it to Powell’s or the Japanese gardens – or maybe we’ll be adventurous and try both.

Hope your Friday is as happy as mine.