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It’s the end of a very long, tough week. One filled with immense sadness, but also with hope, courage and friendship.

Just over a week ago I volunteered as a photographer for the Children’s Cancer Association. They had a special event honoring some of the child heroes who struggle with serious illness. When we returned from our weekend away I had to finish editing the photos from the event. And while it was tough to sit down and focus on photo editing, the images ended up being a great reminder that, despite all the sadness in the world from things we can’t control, we are always surrounded by hope.

Broken Hearted

My plan was to come here and share stories of our wonderful weekend away with an amazing group of people but those stories have been pushed aside by a terrible, terrible tragedy. Instead of being filled with warm memories of new friendships, my heart is broken today while I think about a family that is suffering an unimaginable loss and our small community that is struggling to come to terms with it.

I took this photo over the weekend. It’s the only one that seems appropriate to post right now.

He’s Six! (Finally…)

For me, six came far too quickly, but for a little boy who is one of the youngest in his class, the journey to six years old was a long one. It didn’t help that we had his birthday party over a week ago so it made the wait for his actual birthday feel just that little bit longer.

At six, Samuel…

  • Likes to play in the rain (unless he’s being asked to play a game of soccer…)
  • Loves to read and has progressed from simple three letter words to entire books in the span of just a few months.
  • Is enjoying the second (or, quite possibly, the fifth) resurgence of Star Wars fanaticism in our house. He has seen movies 4, 5 and 6 (the originals).
  • Pushes his big brother’s buttons one minute and then can’t live without him the next.
  • Spends a lot of time building new Lego creations but mostly enjoys playing with the mini figures.
  • Still has all of his baby teeth – no wiggly ones in sight.
  • Says “WHATEVER!” that, for most kids, would be incredibly disrespectful but, for Samuel, means he is finally going to do what I asked him to do. Still, it’s something we need to work on.
  • Loves to write and draw. Lately, we’ve seen a lot of dragons, vikings and Star Wars characters.
  • Does not like to be upstairs by himself. Samuel needs someone around him at all times – not because he’s scared but because he doesn’t like to be left behind. However, sometimes being alone is the best thing for him.
  • Is smart, clever, funny, cute, stubborn, loud, gentle, a GREAT hugger and kisser and still my baby.

Six years has flown by. While I miss the baby he used to be, I enjoy watching him grow into a little independent boy. He and I are a lot alike which makes me incredibly happy and a little frightened at the same time. 🙂

Happy birthday sweet Samuel. I have the feeling that Six is going to be a great year.

Nicole Day 2014

A few years ago I decided that that best way for me to celebrate my birthday was to take matters into my own hands. I embarked on a plan to take a day off from work each year to do… well… whatever I wanted. It sounds easy, but there’s actually a lot of pressure to fill one special day with something meaningful and memorable. It’s not a day that I can waste sitting in front of the TV or (gasp!) cleaning the house. The weather plays a crucial role. Rain means fewer photos but more bookstore browsing. Sunshine can mean a day where I feel guilty for catching a movie. It’s a delicate balance.

Through trial and error over the years, I’ve created an unofficial Nicole Day checklist in my head and decided that the perfect Nicole Day has to include at least some, if not all, of the following:

  • Lingering over coffee and breakfast at a favorite cafe while reading a newspaper or book.
  • A pedicure
  • Browsing through the Powells photobook section
  • Taking photos in a previously unexplored part of the city
  • A visit to Blue Sky gallery (conveniently close to Powells)
  • Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
  • A perfect place for lunch, with a cocktail or glass of wine
  • Window shopping at a favorite non-kid-friendly store

You can see how I’ve developed my approach to Nicole day over the years by reading my posts from birthdays 3637 and 38. This year I added a few more activities to my agenda and decided to officially expand Nicole Day to two days –  since one day REALLY isn’t enough. And since my birthday was on Saturday this year, it conveniently pushed on into the weekend. Here’s a quick rundown of all that I accomplished.

Thursday

Coffee and breakfast Koalches at my favorite SE cafe. Massage. Pedicure. Window shopping at Anthropologie (ok, I tried a couple of things on). A browse through the Powell’s photography section. Lunch Bento from the downtown foodcarts – eaten in the sunshine on the park blocks. Photo art at Blue Sky Gallery. Read a book while sipping iced hibiscus tea at a pearl district cafe. Finished the day at home with glass of wine in my backyard while I enjoyed the 90 degree weather. 

Friday

Mexican Mocha at Blend cafe in North Portland. Yoga. Lunch on NW 21st street (with cocktail). Window shopping on NW 23rd. Salt and Straw salted caramel ice cream. Photos of the NW 23rd neighborhoods. Movie at Century 21 Theatre – Finding Vivian Maier. Home briefly before joining my family for dinner at Bollywood Theater.

So, you can see why one day was just not enough. On Saturday (my birthday) we headed out for an early soccer game (Thomas played against my Boss’ son) and then to Tasty and Sons for brunch (after a 2 hour wait).

It was perfect and relaxing and wonderful. The cherry on top was an amazing gift that my husband ordered for me which will arrive on Friday. More on that soon.

Here are a few photos I took of my adventures. I took a lot more photos on my phone than with my big camera because it’s a little less awkward when you’re on your own and taking multiple pictures of what you’re eating. I’ve also been feeling a little uninspired with my photography lately but I’m hoping my birthday gift will help pull me out of the rut.

Until next year – the BIG birthday. Best start planning now…