A Few Recommendations

Every so often I find myself in entertainment nirvana, when I have the urge to recommend nearly every little piece of pop culture that I’ve consumed. I’m in that nirvana-ish place right now so please forgive me while I share a few things that are making me happy right now. And, of course, please share your own recommendations to help me get through this long dark winter..

LISTENING

The Moth Podcast: Fat Girl Interrupted by Lisa Lampanelli
It’s rare that I find myself gaffawing while I’m driving to work by myself. This woman is amazing and you may even learn a very valuable lesson whilst being thorougly entertained.

This American Life Podcast: Three kids of deception
Worth a listen just to hear Fred Arminsen do his Ira Glass impression, but make sure you stay for Act 2 about a black attorney who went undercover at an all-white country club and Act 3 where David Sedaris shares his experience being mistaken for a french pickpocket by a couple of Texans on a French Subway. Listened in shock at the first one and laughed out loud at the second.

WATCHING

Sleepwalk with Me
Based on a true story that was first shared on an episode of This American Life. It would be an ordinary story about a relationship if it weren’t for all the sleepwalking.¬†(And I realize this puts me in danger of looking like an NPR geek but I can’t help it). The best part is that it’s streaming on Netflix right now.

Downtown Abbey
Yes, I’m on the bandwagon (a proud early adopter) and, yes, I cried like a baby last week. No spoilers here but if you’re not watching then you’re missing out on one big emotional roller coaster ride.

READING

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
A modern day guide to feminism and what it takes to be a woman, while respecting a woman’s right to choose whether or not they really need a brazilian wax. Funny and thought-provoking.

And because every post needs a photo…

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Cargo PDX: The (Other) Happiest Place on Earth.

The boys and I took full advantage of our MLK holiday, first by sleeping in and taking our time getting dressed, and then with a no stress trip downtown. While our ultimate destination was Powells (by popular demand), I decided to take the boys on a little side visit to Cargo. They were hesitant at first but as soon as we walked in it was like angels started singing – or perhaps Buddhist chants would have been more appropriate as you’ll see below.

Thomas took it upon himself to try on every hat in the store, as well as a few masks, and then request a photo.

I think this one is Samuel although, honestly, it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart even without masks on.

Then they both proceeded to pray to every single Buddha in the store. Yet somehow I missed getting a good shot of them both in action – blame low light and fast-moving kids.

Although there’s something I love about this photo of Thomas.

Cargo is not all about hats and Buddhas. It’s like one massive treasure box. Every corner you turn brings new surprises – furniture, toys, mirrors, Kimonos, lanterns, fake birds in cages…

The kids had fun but lacked the stamina to stay as long as I would have liked – especially not after I mentioned the word cookie.

So much fun, and we didn’t have to spend a cent… well, apart from the cookie.

View From the Top: A Hike Around Powell Butte

Today has been a strange one to say the least. Half of my family is sick at home while I’m navigating work craziness. It seems the only person who is even close to normal right now is Samuel and that’s saying something.

As for the weekend… well we had a great Australia Day on Saturday and it went a little downhill from there, complete with some flooding in the basement thanks to a blocked drain. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed but just enough to push a good weekend into not-so-good territory.

So, while I work on uploading photos from our eat-our-way-through-Australia-day, I’ll cheer myself up by sharing some more photos from Powell Butte. Yes, it was weeks ago and, yes, I’ve already posted my photos of Mt Hood from this location, but it’s always a good idea to post photos of a sunny winter adventure when you need a pick-me-up.

It’s also a reminder that blue skies always return eventually.

Not the best photo of Thomas but I like it because he resembles Bigfoot.

Note to self: remove the camera bag before taking a shadow self-portrait.

 

 

Today’s Photo of Two Boys Getting Along

Back to work today after a relaxing long weekend that included swimming lessons, a day at the outlet mall where I didn’t buy anything at all for myself (we took some of Kei’s international colleagues) and a nice, relaxing MLK day with my boys.

I captured this photo while we were out for dinner on Sunday night at a very nice Portland restaurant. It was the type of place where we prepped the boys beforehand about there being no yelling, running around or otherwise drawing attention to themselves. And they both behaved beautifully, even after one of our phones ran out of battery and they were forced to share.

I asked them afterward what they thought about the restaurant. Samuel said the view of the city was the best part. Thomas liked that the servers dressed in suits and ties. When you live in Portland, that’s something you don’t see every day.

The Blahs

It seems I’ve hit that time of the year that I refer to as “the blahs.” I think the darkness sucks up every little bit of motivation that I might otherwise have to leave the house and… do something.

So, this weekend, I spent a lot of time indoors doing laundry, cooking and otherwise just wasting time. It was not at all productive and now I feel guilty and like I wasted a couple of days when I could have CHANGED THE WORLD. Not really, but leaving the house for more than grocery shopping may have helped my state of mind a little. I am grateful that I still had a teeny little burst of motivation when it was time to take down the Christmas tree last week otherwise I’m pretty sure it would have stayed up until May.

Not that the weekend was a complete loss. The boys started swimming lessons on Saturday. Thomas took to it again like a duck to… well, you know. Samuel surprised me by actually staying in the pool, the entire time. We last attempted swimming lessons with him about 18 months ago and gave up after a few lessons because it felt like a waste of time and money for him to sit on the edge of the pool and watch the other kids swim. This time he seems a lot more motivated and, although he didn’t participate fully in the games, he did stand in the general vicinity of the other kids and may have even listened to the teacher a few times. Baby steps.

The boys also spent a surprising amount of time outside on Sunday afternoon despite the freezing temperatures. I’ll never take a frozen puddle for granted again. That, and digging a hole in a pile of dirt, kept them occupied for hours.

This week, my goal is to get rid of the blahs. I have a ton of work to do at my day job so I’m not sure if that will help… but I am determined to take out my camera at some stage and capture a little more of our lives right now and I may even do some (gasp!) exercise. It’s about time I started using that gym membership. The more I exercise the more motivated I will be to exercise, I just need to get started.

To close, I’ll share a photo I took on another frozen weekend. Samuel found a piece of ice in the backyard and declared it the “BEST DAY EVER!” I wish I had this kid’s enthusiasm… and fashion sense. Bathrobe and gumboots = awesome!

A Familiar Sight

It would be interesting to go through all of my photos and see just how many times I have photographed Mt Hood – and from how many different viewpoints. It would be interesting… and very time consuming so likely not going to happen.

This view of Mt Hood captured from Powell Butte on a sunny Portland Winter’s day.

Best Face of 2012

When you have two children, how do you choose a best face for the year?¬†This was the dilemma I faced when searching for a photo for the latest I Heart Faces challenge. It seems unfair to make me choose, but if I must…

I chose this photo of Samuel because it reminds me about how much fun it is to have a four year old in the house, even if it can be really tough at times. It reminds me about the value of imagination and how 2012 was the year of superheroes and ninjas and magic and trolls. It reminds me that, while I often wonder about how different my life would be with a little girl in the house, I am so very very lucky to be the mother of two fun, smart, creative boys.

Photo Challenge Submission