Why Soccer is Better Than T-Ball (Photographically-speaking)

While Thomas played T-Ball last year, I managed to capture many photos of him in the midst of the following activities:

  • Running to First Base
  • Holding his bat
  • Occasionally hitting a ball
  • Standing
  • Waiting
  • Waiting
  • Waiting

And all through a fence. It’s safe to say that you have the t-ball photo opportunities pretty much covered after game 1.

But get me next to a Soccer field on an unusually sunny September day or evening (thanks crazily unseasonable Portland weather), and the possibilities are endless.

Lots of kicking…

Plenty of running…

Mid-air shots – they rarely happen in T-Ball.

I know this one is out of focus but… GOAL!

Sure, there may be a little waiting around…

and a few quiet moments with the coach…

…but there’s a lot more of this.

and this…

and this…

and, thanks to Little Kicker games at sunset, even a little of this…

Yes, I think it’s decided. I much prefer being a soccer mum than a t-ball mum, photographically-speaking anyway.

Five Great Aussie Children’s Books

It’s been some time since I’ve posted for five things Friday. It’s also been some time since we returned from our visit to Australia. So it seems appropriate that this Five Things post features goodies that we bought back from our trip all those weeks ago.

I really should take an extra suitcase just to carry all the books I bring home with me from Australia. Many of them can’t be ordered through Amazon and those that you can buy in the States are “translated” to American English. I prefer to pay good money in Australia to see a “u” in favourite and read words like petrol instead of gas and torch instead of flashlight.

But, I digress. On to the list.

1. The Rainbow Serpent by Dick Roughsey
Note: you can buy this book on Amazon in the US for about $100 but I recommend getting an Australian Pen Pal to send you one. I paid about $15 Australian.

Thomas became very interested in Aboriginal culture during our latest trip home so, when I spotted this book that I recognized from my own childhood, I just had to add it to our already too-heavy luggage. The Rainbow Serpent tells an aboriginal dreamtime story about how the earth became populated with animals. There are a number of versions of this story available but I love the traditional aboriginal style illustrations in this one. A true classic.

2. Queen Victoria’s Underpants by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

I am a huge fan of this Author-Illustrator team (see also Peet the Sheep-Sheep, Diary of a Wombat and Too Many Pears), so I was thrilled to spot this book about a lady who made the very first pair of underwear for Queen Victoria. It’s fun, it’s funny and the illustrations are, of course, adorable. I think I may like this book a lot more than my children do.

3. The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

This book is a little strange but in the best way possible. The artwork (yes, artwork) is incredible and so detailed that I know the kids and I will be finding new hidden treasures in the images for years to come.

 

I recently ordered Tales from Outer Suburbia to put aside as a Xmas gift for the kids and, if I’m being honest, it might be more of a gift for me than for them.

4. Wombat Stew by Marcia K Vaughan

This is another book that you might want to get from an Aussie friend ($350, seriously Amazon?). A fun, classic story about a Dingo who is looking forward to a meal of Wombat Stew but is outsmarted by a bunch of other Aussie animals that come to the wombat’s rescue. It reads like Stone Soup but with a much less happy ending for the Dingo.

5. Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley 

I realize that this is yet another Jackie French/Bruce Whatley entry on the list, but this one had to be included. It’s not the happiest of stories and probably won’t be one that the kids want to read again and again but it’s a piece of art. Flood tells the story of the 2011 Queensland floods from the perspective of a cattle dog that has been separated from his family. It’s moving and sad and beautiful. You’ll notice that the illustrations have a much different feel to other Whatley-illustrated books that I’ve shared and that’s because he decided that, for this story, he would paint in watercolor and with his left hand to provide a unique, melancholy look. Incredible!

(Please excuse my badly painted toes in this photo. The book refused to stay open on its own).

So, there you have it. A collection of new books that are apparently way more expensive to buy in America than I had anticipated. If you have to have one of these books and  don’t have a friend in Australia to send you a copy, you should either a. find yourself an Aussie friend (I have it on good authority that Aussies are awesome) or b. consider purchasing from Readings, one of the best independent bookstores in Australia. They ship internationally for a flat fee.

Let me know if you have any of these books and what you think of them. And, please, share your own favourites in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for great children’s books and, with Christmas around the corner, I have the perfect excuse to stock our library.

On My Happy List

I’ve been traveling back and forth to Seattle this week so my schedule is a complete mess, I’m tired and Thursday feels like it should be Saturday. I’ve also been spending a lot of time in airports and in the air (many on stand by for flights I will never board), which allows me the opportunity to stop thinking about all of the things I should be doing at home (laundry, cooking and…uh…more laundry) and instead catch up on a little reading, watch a TV show or two, listen to some music and get through my list of podcast downloads.

Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying this week:

Book: Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and tend to avoid the self-help section of the bookstore so I surprised even myself when I pre-ordered this book a few months ago. It’s all about embracing vulnerability and how it can help you become engaged with your life. I’m only through the first couple of chapters but I’ve already highlighted many, many paragraphs on my kindle.

TV: The Daily Show
A must-watch during election season, although I often find myself yelling at the TV – not at John Stewart, but rather at the stupidity of others that he highlights most hilariously.

Podcast: Pop Culture Happy Hour
Love this podcast that features a roundtable discussion with NPR entertainment, book and movie editors. The “what’s making me happy” segment at the end of the show is helping me build my Amazon wishlist.

Music: Pink – The Truth About Love
I have loved Pink since she released her first album way back when I used to go to nightclubs, wear hot pants and dance into the wee hours of the morning. While my hot pants wearing days are way WAY behind me, Pink’s music just seems to be getting better.

Movie – New: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Kei and I both enjoyed this documentary portrait of a Sushi chef in Tokyo who has spent his entire life perfecting his craft from a tiny little sushi shop in the basement of a train station. I’ll never look at a nigiri sushi in the same way again.

Movie – Revisited: The Duchess
I caught this movie on cable the other day and was reminded about why I loved it so much the first time around. I’m not a huge Kiera Knightly fan, but I have to admit that she is perfect in this story about a woman who had the misfortune of being born in a time when women were rarely able to path their own destiny.

Coming soon…
I have more than a few things on my wishlist for the next few months. Musically, my Brit Pop cup (or my ipod) will runneth over, while I’ll also have the opportunity to put a little vampire saga to rest at the movie theater.

I’m heading to Seattle again tomorrow so suggestions for podcasts and music most welcome. And because I can’t have a post without a photo, here’s our view from the soccer field last week. Enjoying these beautiful warm almost-autumn evenings while they last.

Seven

Amidst the back-to-school, start-of-soccer and general-life craziness, I completely neglected to wish my first born child a public Happy Birthday. Or maybe it’s just that, subconsciously, I refuse to accept the fact that I am now the mother of a seven year old. It’s likely I’ll have a breakdown when he reaches double digits.

At seven, Thomas:

  • Is not too old to want lots of cuddles (and even holds my hand every now and then).
  • Can switch from serious to silly in a matter of seconds.
  • Loves to sing – his favorite songs right now are Life’s a Happy Song from the Muppet movie and Call Me Maybe (the second one pains his father, I’m sure).
  • Is addicted to Avatar: The Last Airbender and is enjoying a revival of Star Wars now that his little brother is watching it for the first time.
  • Loves playing with his little brother (except when he’s bickering with his little brother).
  • Enjoys playing Soccer – and scored a goal that his mother managed to capture on video during his first game – which also happened to be on his birthday. (please ignore my screeching voice on the video).
  • At school – enjoys Math but gets frustrated with reading and writing (although loves being read to).
  • Reads and writes Japanese in a way that makes me fear the day when he and his brother will be able to speak to each other without me understanding a word of their conversation.
  • Prefers to wake up in the morning by having his head stroked until he opens his eyes and gives you a big hug.
  • Is still my baby…although this photo of him seems to contradict that. He looks like such a boy.

And one for comparison…

Off to cry into my coffee now.

Not Quite in The Swing

This week has been just a little insane.

A quick recap:

  • Thomas went back to school on Wednesday and declared his first day to be quite a lot of fun (apparently they were allowed two recesses). I asked him on Thursday if he’d made any new friends and he promptly told me that he already made friends with everyone on Wednesday (accompanied by a big eye roll).
  • Samuel went to pre-k for three hours on Thursday. Drop off only took 5 minutes which is pretty amazing for the first day of school. I expected more clinging and crying but, although he was a little shy and nervous, it only took a few minutes for him to give me a kiss and send me on my way. First day was a big success and he’s excited to go back for real next week.
  • Soccer began this week. Kei is coaching Samuel’s team and, between the two boys,  we have three practices and two games each week. I’m a little exhausted just thinking about it.

The rest of my time has been about juggling school drop offs with work and having one child at home declaring “I’m boooored” every few minutes. It’s been rough and, frankly, I’m exhausted.

This weekend is going to be about celebrating someone’s 7th birthday (crazy!), a little bit of Soccer and a whole lot of recharging before school really begins next week. I think I might also find some time for a nap.

Also, a big happy birthday to my Dad today!

And because I can’t post without a photo, here’s one I took a couple of weeks ago, of the boys enjoying a Summer frozen yogurt treat with a friend. It’s going to be 92 degrees today so I suppose Summer’s not quite done with us yet.

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com

Photo Challenge Submission