Cousins, Old and New

I am way behind on photo editing and, in fact, haven’t even pulled out my camera in a few weeks. Life has been busy as I embark on a new job and a new adventure but I hope to get back in the swing of daily photography again soon. I’m lacking inspiration and feel the need to read more photography books and walk around with my camera just to remind myself about why I love it so much. I know I’ll look back on this photography drought when I pull together our 2015 photobook and yearn for the photos that are missing. I can’t let that happen.

I’m going way back to April for this post when a new cousin (and another, more familiar one) came to visit. While they only stayed for a few days, I managed to squeeze in a lot of baby snuggling time – even taking a nap while he lay on my chest. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy the new baby months with the feeding and the crying and the sleep deprivation. I choose to remember the cuddles and the way my babies moulded with my body in a way that rarely happens with a squirmy toddler or boy. I’m so grateful for this short time with Max during peak-snuggle time so I could experience it once more.

The boys appreciated time to bond with their new cousin and share more playtime with Charlie. While it had been four months since we’d seen them in Australia, they managed to pick up right where they left off.

I think I caught these two in the middle of some sort of mischief.

Christmas Down Under

I know, I know… it’s been almost three months since Christmas but things have been a little nuts around here. The good news is the search for a full time job is well underway and, in the meantime, I managed to land some work through my brand new LLC, Lyrebird Images. Well, the Lyrebird Images part has been around for a while but today I made it official. AND we bought a new camera.

Next on the agenda? Business Cards.

But back to the purpose of my post. Christmas in Australia. It was warm, it was family-filled and it was fun.

There are few places on earth where a morning of opening Christmas gifts can be followed by a run down the slip-n-slide and I was so excited to be able to share this with my children. Sure, snow and ice can make for a pretty and cozy Christmas, but my childhood will always be filled with the memories of playing outside, cold drinks and icy poles on the veranda and cooking a hot dinner even when the temperature sometimes tops 40 degrees celsius (104F).

Of course, there cannot be presents without first leaving out the traditional beer and biscuits for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer. I just love all the fake smiles in this photo. It cracks me up every single time. Oh, and it should be noted that they’re wearing their new Christmas Eve pajamas.

On Christmas morning we opened stockings and tried to avoid stepping on the soccer cards that had mysteriously multiplied like gremlins.

And then “Santa” came out to open the presents under the tree and it might have been the best moment of the morning.

Negotiating the gift-giving strategy.

Uncle Jono received a new umbrella that came all the way from America with a side of campy photo opportunity.

The best part about the gift giving were the accompanying hugs.

And the candy canes that Santa left in our stockings.

This is, by far, my favorite photo of the day. Who else can boast a Clarke Griswold photobomb?

The boys received more than a few Aussie soccer-related items.

And Ben received this headband…

Mum received three bottles of Clinique lotion. She asked for it and we all delivered!

And then everyone checked out their loot and read the instructions…

…Until it was finally time to carve the roast beast.

A wonderful, hot and sunny Christmas Day to remember.

Wordless Wednesday: Keeping Classically Cool with the Slip-n-Slide

It seems ridiculous to be posting photos of slip-n-slides while a good portion of the Unites States is buried by snow. But, in fairness, these photos were taken only about 6 weeks ago and are a good reminder that the world has another hemisphere.

One thing I realized about the slip-n-slide is that it’s not like riding a bike – you CAN forget how to do it. After we’d finally worked out where to set it up (NOT on a downward slope), I tried once or twice with limited results and gratitude that no one else was holding a camera at the time. Thankfully Uncle Jono arrived a couple of days later to show us how it’s done. I’m not sure Charlie quite caught on but, clearly, it didn’t matter. Fun isn’t about doing it right.

Crazy Weeks and Hungry Hippos

It was just a week ago that I posted about wanting to post here more often and then, well, last week happened and it all went out the window. I spent the week up in Seattle working long days (and nights) and then we hosted a Super Bowl party on Sunday which meant the weekend leading up to it included a much-needed house cleaning. In short, the blog moved down the list of priorities but I am determined to get back on the train so I thought I’d drop by today to share just one photo and quick story from our Aussie adventure.

And the moral of this story is that you will not realize how noisy a game of Hungry Hippos can be until you give it to three rambunctious cousins. Just one of the many “quiet” moments of bonding between these monkeys.

It was a lot of fun to see how they interacted now that Charlie is old enough to communicate with the boys. Samuel enjoyed this brief period of not being the youngest, despite the fact that he and Charlie are the same size “and I’m three years older, Mum!” Thomas was there to impart some older brother wisdom on the young cousin who will soon become one himself. Charlie was just content to follow them both around and hand out icy poles (popsicles) on demand.

The best part about this whole reunion was that, as soon as they saw each other, it was as if they had not been a day apart – and the weeks of built-up excitement about seeing their cousin paid off in spades.

See? Just like peas in a pod, er, hammock.

When Charlie Came to Visit

I realized last night that I hadn’t yet posted all the photos from my Brother’s visit way, way back in February. I blame this oversight on my crazy work travel schedule, Spring Break and the allergies – oh, the allergies.

I love cherry blossoms but hate that they’re slowly trying to kill me with their beautiful pink blooms. If I weren’t so vain, I’d skip the mascara in the morning and rub my eyes all day crying “WHY ME!!!” I know there are far worse ailments but, honestly, right now I feel like gouging my eyes out.

Sorry – sidetracked. Back to February.

My brother, Ben, his wife Emma and two-year-old Charlie came for a long weekend visit in the middle of their multi-city US trip. It was wonderful to see them and Portland did it’s best to make them feel welcome by raining buckets and buckets. I think it was nature’s way of saying “I know I’m having a great time ensuring Australia dries up into a shriveled prune, but look what I can do on the other side of the world! I’m multi-talented.”

Still, we had fun finding ways to keep three boys entertained. We dug the Toy Story box out of the basement, planned a trip to the indoor playground, saw the Lego Movie, did some shopping downtown and took a break for some ice cream on Mississippi. This wasn’t Ben and Emma’s first time to Portland so we didn’t feel the pressure of showing them the sights. Instead, we were able to relax and let the cousins get to know each other a little better. Thomas relished his role as the big kid, Samuel enjoyed not being the youngest for a change, and Charlie? Well, Charlie just followed them wherever they went and laughed at all their jokes. Friendships were definitely forged.

If all goes according to plan, we hope to get these boys back together again soon.

They’re all waiting to jump out and scare Kei.

Friday Flashback: Baby Brother’s Birthday Edition

Feeling nostalgic on the Eve of my baby brother Jonathon’s 34th birthday.

I call this one “Deer in Headlights”.

(side note: My other brother, Ben, had very pink cheeks and I really wish my hair had remained that thick and shiny)

And this one I’ve titled “unfulfilled musical dreams.”

Bonus points for the circa 1980 Bonds Wondersuit. I don’t think they make them in that color anymore.

And, finally, “End of Summer Glow”.

This one just screams Aussie Kids. I don’t think there can be any mistaking where we came from.

Happy birthday, Jonathon. I hope you celebrate just like we did in the good old days – with lots of food, lots of fun and a nice long nap at the end.

Sledding! In Portland!

Gosh, it feels like a lifetime ago that we had snow here in Portland. In the two weeks since the snow let up enough for the kids to go back to school, I’ve had a near-miss teacher’s strike (glad I didn’t have to manage the logistics for that one), guests for a long, rainy weekend and then, this past weekend, photos at our school auction and a great Karaoke night. In the midst of it all the whole family attended a Zentangle class at the local library and made some wonderful artwork.

Sound random? How about a trip to San Francisco tomorrow to mix it up just a little bit more. Yes, life is flying by at an alarming rate.

So let’s step back to a day when we had no choice but to let it all go and focus on the moment – mostly because everything else was closed due to the snowstorm. I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the snow. On the one hand it’s messy and annoying and, in Portland, a little treacherous, but on the other hand it forced us to let everything go for a few days. It was wonderful to see the entire neighborhood out enjoying the weather without the pressure of work or sports or even a trip to the grocery store. Sure, I was ready (REALLY ready) for the kids to go back to school on Tuesday, but a weekend of being snowed in may have been just what the doctor ordered.

This is not my child – just a friend who joined us in a very freaky hat.

Samuel is somewhere under that snow. The kid had a ball.

I know it’s blurry, but I love it.

And, finally, putting all vanity aside and to prove that I was really there, some video evidence. That word I’m saying at the end is “Pole!”

Digging Out

Thankfully we’re no longer digging out of the snow, but I’m trying to get things back in order after a couple of very busy weeks that have keep me from posting. Last week was the snowstorm (sledding pictures still to come) and then my brother, sister-in-law and nephew came to visit for a weekend filled with restaurants, movies, indoor play structures and rain (SO much rain!).  They left on Tuesday and I’m grateful that we avoided a Portland Teacher’s strike which has allowed me to get back to my day job, but it looks as though the craziness will continue for at least a few more days with a school fundraising auction, karaoke with the girls and a business trip early next week. The fun never stops!

I hope to get back here soon but, in the meantime, I’ll placate the grandparents with a couple of photos of our special guests. We miss them already.

Friday. Snow Day.

It doesn’t snow very often in Portland – we’re lucky if we get one decent snowfall a year. So, when the snow comes down like it did yesterday, the city stops. Schools and public buildings are closed, public transport is crawling and the highways are almost empty. We’ll be spending the day hunkered down at home, venturing outside every now and then to enjoy this rare event (I’m sure I’ll be taking some photos).

Samuel and I took a walk through the park yesterday. It was about 25 degrees fahrenheit (-7 celsius), with wind gusts that blew snow across the park and made me lose all feeling in my face. The weather is going to last through the weekend and then Portland will warm up again. I’m going to try and enjoy it, knowing that it will be over in a couple of days. Although, by this time tomorrow, I predict some cabin fever will set in.

Samuel kept stopping to eat the fresh snow. Thankfully he knows to stay away from the yellow stuff.

And he also stopped to write his name in the snow more than once.

Thomas joined us for about 10 minutes before he lost his sense of adventure. (or maybe he realized how crazy we were)

This was just the beginning. We accumulated about 4 inches by 8:00 last night.

One more reason not to get a dog…

mmmm – tasty.

Looking forward to more adventures today.