The 2012 Lyrebird Images Desk Calendar

It started in 2010 as a fun end of year gift for my co-workers and grew in 2011 into a solution for the large number of teacher/family/friend gifts that I need to cover.

All it took was the time to sift through 12 months of photographs and choose 12 seasonally-appropriate favourites(!), some gorgeous templates from Paislee Press (because I’m too lazy to design my own) and a wonderful local photo printer that produced quality prints at a reasonable price before they, sadly, closed up shop at the end of the year. (I’m devastated).

PLEASE share suggestions for equally great and reasonably priced printers in the Portland area in the comments!

The best part about this project is that it provides me with the perfect opportunity to get my photos off the computer and share them with family and friends. It also gives me a chance to reflect on my photos from the past year and see where I need to improve (take more photos of “things”) and how I can make the calendar even better in 2013.

So, here it is, the 2012 Lyrebird Images desk calendar.

Today’s Photo of My All Grown Up Boy

I had the chance to spend some extra time with Thomas this weekend and was reminded of just how much I love this kid. Right now, Thomas:

  • Is smart, curious and always learning new things.
  • When choosing prizes at the arcade at one of the birthday parties, asked specifically for the Humpback whale and the Orca from the bowl of plastic fish – and then had to teach the guy behind the counter which was which.
  • Has a girlfriend – not a friend who is a girl, a girlfriend. Her name is Sabrina and apparently it’s the real thing because he drew a picture of her on the first page of his “weather book” right next to the pictures of him and Samuel wearing capes.
  • Is now counting his girlfriends. Sabrina is his second – “Remember Elizabeth Mum? She was my first girlfriend.”
  • Is six (often have to remind myself of that).
  • Still has all of his baby teeth but we just discovered a “shark tooth” growing up behind his bottom front teeth. I don’t know whether to take him to the dentist or let nature take its course.
  • Spent most of the weekend playing Lego and superheroes with his brother, with just a couple of small breaks to attend birthday parties. Samuel spent Monday telling his teacher how much he loved playing with Thomas on the weekend.
  • Told me he would like to spend our special Mummy/Thomas day on Friday playing Lego. (hmmm)

Did I mention how much I love this kid?

Today’s Photo of a Warm Welcome

This is what greets me almost every weekday at around 5:00pm.

As soon as our big red car is spotted driving into the parking lot, Samuel will drop whatever he is doing and race over to the fence to give me a big smile and a hello. Sometimes he’s so excited that he’ll jump up and down with excitement. Almost every day, he makes me give him a kiss and a hug through the bars before I say a brief goodbye so I can go through the building entrance to the playground.

It’s the best part of my day.

I think we’ve turned a corner with Samuel. It seems that as soon as he hit the 3 and a half mark he’s been more consistently happy, less combative and generally just easier to be around. It’s been a welcome change and just one more sign that my baby is growing up.

Of course if I call him my baby I am quickly reminded by Samuel yelling at me that “I am NOT a BABY!!”

I didn’t say he was an angel and that everything is perfect – just much, much better. 🙂

Happy Australia Day 2012 (On Australian Time)

Today* is Australia Day, which means it is time for my annual “educate my American colleagues and friends about my home country” post. You can read last year’s post here.

I took this photo during our last visit to Australia almost two years ago. Thankfully we have another trip planned for a little later this year. Perhaps I should celebrate Australia day by purchasing a few plane tickets?

But I digress, back to the “educational” component of this post.

Following are some “real” questions submitted to, and answered by, the Australia Tourism Board. (note: source not at all verified, just cited on a few sketchy blogs. If anyone knows the actual source, please post in the comments).

Please read them carefully so you will be fully prepared should you ever decide to visit. Just don’t hold me responsible for the accuracy of the responses.

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles, take lots of water…

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilisation of vegan hunter gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which doesn’t … oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is… oh forget it.  Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Finally, I want to share a favourite clip that will clear up any of your confusion around the whole difference between Australia and New Zealand thing.

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!

I encourage you all to have a beer this evening to celebrate. I plan to celebrate by changing my outlook dictionary to Australian English for the day.

Cheers!

*Australia Day is actually on the 26th of Jan but since it’s already the 26th in Australia, it gives me one more full day of celebration.

Today’s Photo of Wonder Woman and Batman

Wonder Woman and Batman. Wonder Woman tiara and bracelets designed by Thomas (cut out and stapled by me). The purple ribbon is a Magic Lasso. Angry expressions are part of the character (apparently Super Heroes are always angry/intimidating).

Here they are in the invisible jet – not that I can see them of course. I was instructed to take a picture of the empty “sky”.

 

Today’s Photo of Help on The Way

I’m trying to get back into the groove of the office after being away for so what felt like forever – first on vacation and then back-to-back trips to Las Vegas and Seattle. I’ll be spending the day trying to dig out from under my massive to-do list.

Our weekend was quiet, but productive. I spent most of it catching up on laundry while the boys played well together (for the most part). Samuel spent most of the weekend as Wonder Woman, complete with home made tiara and magic bracelets. Thomas built cities out of Lego and blocks. It rained a lot and we barely left the house. Thankfully, our friends dragged us out of hibernation late yesterday afternoon with a football/Karaoke get together (football for the boys and karaoke for the girls). I feel like I’ve been out of touch with everyone for weeks and I’ll be grateful to start getting back into some degree of normalcy.

Before I head off to tackle my pile of work, I’ll share a couple of quick photos that I took during the drive home from Seattle last week. If only they made snow plows that would help dig through to-do lists…

Today’s Photo of a Storm Brewing Over Seattle

If you’ve been following my whining on Twitter, you’ll know that I found myself stuck in Bellevue, WA (just outside Seattle) for a day longer than I anticipated. Thankfully we were able to drive home yesterday during a brief break in the snow and freezing rain. I hear that I-5 is now closed halfway between Portland and Seattle – at the same location where we stopped briefly for lunch, the power went out and a tree fell across the freeway onramp, all within the span of 20 minutes.

So, I count myself lucky that I didn’t find myself spending the weekend. As much as I love Seattle, I love my family more and I was VERY tired of looking at the walls of my hotel room while ice literally rained from the sky.

They were warning about snow when I took this photo of Seattle from the windows of our Bellevue office on Monday.

Today’s Photos of Not Quite a Snowstorm

It’s nice to look back at these photos I took on Sunday and laugh at the innocent naivety of children who think they were actually experiencing a snowstorm.

No kids, that wasn’t a snowstorm.

A snowstorm is what your mother is experiencing right now as she sits in an office in Bellevue, WA, obsessively watching the weather reports for signs that the roads will clear up just a little so she can return home today.

Of course if I lived in Ohio right now I’d be saying “that’s not a snowstorm…”

Today’s Photos of a Teeny Tiny Karate Kid

This year we decided to enroll Thomas in Karate lessons. The lessons fall during his after school program at 2:30pm so it has been difficult for me to get away on a Friday and watch him in action. Thankfully he has been very willing to show us his  moves at home, but still it’s not quite the same as seeing him in full “Gi”, the official name for the white shirt and pants. (It’ short for “Karatagi” – I had to look that up).

One thing that was apparent as soon as I started taking photographs is how very small he is when you stand him next to a couple of 4th grade girls.

I supposed it’s a good thing he’s developing a few self defense moves if only to protect him from giants.

Thankfully there are some kids on his level.

Thomas has told us a few times that he wants to quit Karate. The problem is that it’s during his after school care time and going to Karate means that he misses out on snack time and outside time and basically anything-that’s-fun time.

 

It’s only once a week (although for 90 minutes) and I plan to keep encouraging him to stick with it for a few reasons:

  1. It’s good discipline and encourages concentration and focus
  2. It will help him feel as though he can stand up to giants if the situation ever presents itself. (self defense only, of course)
  3. It’s a wonderful way to connect with his Japanese culture and the rituals that surround it.

Of course, the only thing that’s motivating Thomas right now is the promise of a yellow belt at his first belt test and a new fascination with Ninjas.