Happy Weekend!

We’re looking forward to one last long weekend before school starts. On the agenda:

  • Adding final editing touches to some special wedding photos
  • Organizing a few small sections of our house – I’m tackling it bit by bit
  • Hanging some art. I purchased a couple of prints from a local artist and plan to buy some frames this weekend and then work out where to hang them. I am also determined to finally print some of my own photos to fill our blank walls. We’ve only been here almost seven years, it seems about the right time to decorate
  • Visits to Target (for school supplies and 7th birthday presents) and Ikea (likely for a bunch of stuff we don’t need, oh and frames) – thrilling, I know
  • Catching up on season 1 of American Horror Story before season 2 begins. Looks creepy and weird which is right up my alley but I’ll definitely have to wait until the kids are in bed
  • A get-together with new school friends and old school friends and their parents
  • And, I hope, lots of gardening and playing and popsicle-eating.

What’s on your weekend agenda?

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Last Days of Summer

It’s been over a week since I last posted for one simple reason – we’re busy! The new school year is almost upon us and, for the first time, both Thomas and Samuel will be attending the same school. You’d think that would make our lives a little easier right? Nope. Thanks to some issues with after school care, we’ll be juggling car pools and alternative childcare. I’m also a little worried about how my brain is going to retain school information for two children. It’s a new world.

Sure, it hasn’t started yet, but we’re already neck deep in paperwork and school supply purchases and orientations. Oh, and did I mention that I don’t have childcare this week? That’s right. I managed to do some creative child-swapping to cover a couple of work days and took two days off. In short, I’m exhausted and it’s only Thursday.

But, enough of my whining. We’ve also been having some fun in the midst of the craziness. A few highlights from my iphone…

We rode our bikes to the farmers’ market on Saturday. Soon after we arrived, batman was spotted running across the quadrangle.

And climbing the play equipment.

Thomas shot a couple of hoops

A friend joined us yesterday for a trip to the Rose Garden playground.

Taking a break…

A little stop on N Mississippi on the way home included lunch, frozen yogurt and a browse through a couple of shops. More pleasant than you’d think with three kids in tow. It was fun looking at the quirky objects for sale in the stores. I also enjoyed having a girl around so we could marvel at frilly vintage dresses together.

On the way home we happened upon some filming taking place in the next street. Of course I had to go over and take a closer look. As suspected, they were filming a little TV show that I won’t name here as I may give away a plot point or two. Hint: Thomas said it wasn’t very nice of them to be making fun of Portland.

I had four kids today, including my own, so we took a trip to the zoo.

We saw Pygmy goats!

and Beavers! (points if you can spot the Beaver)

and Cheetahs!

and Lions eating Buffalo!

Apart from the fact that I almost lost one child to an eagle during the “Wild” show, it was a very successful adventure and a great way to enjoy the last days of Summer before the real work begins after Labor day.

You can view my iphone photo stream on my Tumblr account here: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/nicoleishida or follow me on instagram, username nicolei.

Zen-ing

Zen-ing: The Ishida answer to “planking“, but with a lot more Inner Peace.

I swear I did not set these up. Every now and then when we’re out in public, I’ll turn around and one, or both, of my children will be sitting in a meditative state. It has something to do with Ninjas or Kung Fu Panda or Kung Fu Ninjas…

Highlights From a Crazy Weekend

This weekend was BUSY – but busy in a way that allowed us to catch up with friends, watch a few sporting events (well, for the boys anyway), enjoy a little perfect Portland Summer weather and, amazingly, get all of my laundry done.

Here are a some highlights from Friday and Saturday – with just a few photos. I’m still working on the photos from Sunday. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up my camera. I think the thousands of photos I took in Australia caused a temporary burn-out so it feels good to be getting back in the habit again.

  • Fun sleepover on Friday night during which I watched Happy Feet for the first time (guest’s choice). Samuel insisted he didn’t like the movie but somehow managed to sit like a zombie through the entire thing.
  • Skipped Kei’s work picnic on Saturday morning after realizing the distance to the park would mean they would only have 30 minutes before they needed to leave again. It was a Superhero themed event so we had one slightly disappointed Batman on our hands.
  • Attended and photographed Matt and Paul’s beautiful wedding (still working on the photos) and couldn’t help thinking that anyone opposed to gay marriage would change their minds if they sat through an actual ceremony. In fact it should probably be a requirement. There’s nothing more romantic and natural than two people declaring their love and commitment in front of their closest friends and family, regardless of gender.
  • BBQ with friends gave the kids a chance to run around with their friends and allowed Samuel to eat his weight in Watermelon. Shirtless, of course.

  • Walked home through the park just as the sun was setting at 8pm – the perfect time to practice some ninja moves, apparently.

  • The boys only needed a little convincing to let me take a photo of them together (i.e. bribing with the promise of more ninja photos).

Version 1: A little too serious

Version 2: A little too fake

I have no idea what is going on here…

Headed home after a quick run to burn off some birthday cake.

All in all, a perfect Saturday. Of course I left out the part where Samuel was forced to spend at least 30 minutes crying on the front porch in his underwear because he refused to apologize to Thomas for telling him he didn’t want him to be his brother anymore… Perfection is hard to achieve with a four year old.

Cue the beautiful sunset…

Swimming

Settling back into real life following our trip to Australia has been a challenge. We’re back to juggling work and childcare and household chores and I feel as though I’m swimming in circles, just trying to stay afloat.

It’s been hot this week – hundred degree days followed by 80 degree nights. It’s not the heat that bothers me so much, it’s the sleep deprivation which is exacerbated by my neighbor who insists on running his noisy sprinkler outside our bedroom window until 1 in the morning.

But that doesn’t explain all of my crankiness. I blame it on simply being overwhelmed by change – hiring a nanny for the first time over the Summer, returning to work with a new boss and big changes to my team, mentally preparing myself for Samuel’s first day of school (and the crazy childcare logistics that go along with it). While the majority of these changes have been good, adjusting to them all at once has been a challenge.

I’m afraid this weekend isn’t going to provide much time for contemplation and recharging.

  • Tonight – we have a couple of extra kids for a sleepover, Kei is taking the older kids to a soccer game while I’m planning a movie night with the two younger ones.
  • Saturday – Kei is taking the boys to his company picnic (Superhero themed) while I prepare to take photos at a friends’ wedding. They’ll then meet me at the church for the wedding later in the day. All this will be followed by a BBQ with friends who are celebrating their birthdays this weekend.
  • Sunday – We’ll all attend a kids birthday party in the morning and then Kei is driving the boys down to Salem to see a baseball game.

And amidst all of that I need to find time for grocery shopping, laundry, sleeping and eating. Phew!

I think I may need to borrow Samuel’s outfit just to make it few the next 48 hours. It might help me stay afloat.

10 Things I Love About Northern Victoria

I’m back in the U.S., back at work and feeling like I never left, so I need to keep posting photos and stories of my vacation just to remind myself that I did recently spend 6 weeks in Australia.

I grew up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne  and my parents moved to Northern Victoria after I moved to the states, so I have only recently had the experience of living in a small country town. While we spent a lot of the time camping in and around small towns as I was growing up, the experience of actually living in country Victoria is still foreign to me. There are a few things that are tough to get used to – bumping into someone you know (or my parents know) every time you head to the grocery store, limited restaurant options and 45 minutes to the nearest movie theatre come to mind – but there are also many wonderful things about country Victoria. Here are 10 things that I appreciate about living in the Aussie outback, not that I plan to move there anytime soon. I’m pretty sure I’ll always be a city girl at heart.

1. Plenty of room to explore, play and run around
Perfect for two active boys. The swing with a view is an extra bonus.

2. Wineries
And wine tasting, of course.

3. Frosty Mornings
Yes, it’s cold, but the best thing about a frosty morning is that it promises sunshine later in the day.

4. Wildlife – in the wild
Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne, it was a rare event for me to see Australian animals in the wild. If we were lucky we might spot a wombat or a Kangaroo while camping, but, most of my Australian animal encounters occurred at the zoo. So, you can imagine my excitement when the boys and I spotted a herd of Kangaroos eating grass by the side of the road, or my insistence that we walk the golf course at dusk for the express purpose of capturing a few photographs of the elusive creatures. And, yes, we also saw our fair share of the less fortunate animals who failed to look both ways before crossing the street. RIP.

5. Birds
You hear them first – the magical songs of the magpie, the painfully loud squawking of the cockatoo and unmistakable laugh of the kookaburra – then you see them and you can’t help but be amazed by the diversity and adaptability of nature.

6. Afternoon Tea
I shared photos of my very high class afternoon tea at The Windsor hotel previously, but there’s nothing quite like the classic Aussie country afternoon tea. I was fortunate enough to witness one after photographing a concert put on by my Mum’s choir at the local Uniting Church. More people turned up to the concert than expected so the church ladies went home to pull more food from their freezers. Just the sight of jelly slice and a few lamingtons transported me back to childhood vacations with my grandparents. A good old country afternoon tea is just not the same without Jelly slice.

7. That feeling that you’re alone in the middle of nowhere
No traffic noise, not a building as far as the eye can see. Just the sound of birds and the feeling of being completely alone in the world – well, except for a couple of noisy children.

8. The sky at sunrise and sunset
No two days are the same.

9. Clouds
While I realize that clouds can be found everywhere, there’s nothing quite like looking up and seeing them within a bright blue, enormous Australian sky. Yes, I took a LOT of photos of clouds.

10. Gum Trees
Unmistakeably Australian and, with about 1,000 different varieties, never boring.

And now I’m feeling just a little more homesick…