Post-Holiday Monday and Karaoke for the YWCA

It’s the Monday after the holiday weekend. The day when you look back on all the fun you had and just wish you could go back and do it again instead of sitting in front of a computer. Although I have to admit that sitting in air conditioned comfort is a nice change of pace.

Although how can I really complain after an epic weekend that included a 4th of July party with Hawaiian music and hula dancers, fireworks (of course), a fun afternoon at the swimming pool, gatherings with friends, and sunshine, PLENTY of sunshine.

And, because I had such a great weekend, I haven’t had time to edit any photos (not that I took many amidst all the fun). So instead, I’ll share photos from a  different type of light show.

I was recently asked to volunteer as photographer at a Karaoke fundraising event for the Portland YWCA. The event itself was so much fun (seems to be a theme for this blog post) and raised a lot of money for this very important cause. I recommend every non-profit organization consider a little Karaoke in their fundraising plans. The key is to line up a few amazing singers in advance to get the party started, although I was a little too intimidated by their incredible talent to get up on stage myself. Sometimes it’s best to make the call to stay behind the camera.

The event was held at Refuge, an event space on the SE side of Portland. That American flag in the photo below is on the side of one of the trains that passed by every hour or so. The noise added to the party vibe but I’m not sure it would be as pleasant for a wedding.

Don’t be fooled by the costume, her singing voice was amazing.

Despite the tricky lighting, I’d be more than willing to volunteer for this event again next year. Great music, fun people and a fantastic cause – three key ingredients that make me one very happy photographer.


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.

Housekeeping: Contact Form Working Again

I just discovered that my contact form has not been working. My apologies if you’ve been trying to reach me and your emails were left unanswered. If that’s the case then please send me another email using the new form on my contact page.

Thank you.

And, of course, nothing says sorry like a picture of a fluffy white chicken. (I’ve been waiting for just the right time to share this photo).

Commercial Shoot: Voicebox Karaoke

I mentioned previously that I was insanely busy before vacation. Amidst the general packing, preparing (and cleaning) involved in a visit from the parents and a major road trip, I also had TWO photo shoots – one for a friend’s sweet 1 year old (which I’ll share soon) and another for Voicebox Karaoke. Yes, my go-to Portland Karaoke destination!

I was thrilled when they contacted me after seeing the latest in my series of ode-to-Karaoke blog posts and asked me to take some similar photos of their guests for use on their website and other promotional materials. Dream job!

I spent about three hours moving from room to room – trying to blend into the background – while I took photos of people singing everything from Beyonce to David Bowie to One Direction. The groups ranged from tween girls, families and work groups, to a karaoke session with songs in Japanese (a flashback for me) and, of course a Bachelorette party. Everyone was asked to sign a waiver up front, so they were all willing participants and, for the most part, LOVED having their photo taken.

Thanks to all of my “models” for being such great sports and to the wonderful staff at Voicebox.

Here are some of my favorites.

Ten Favorites From TEDx

All of my TEDx Photos are now posted on the official TEDx Portland Flickr feed. However, I realize that not everyone has the time to browse through nearly 200 photos so I’ve narrowed it down to 10 of my favorites here on the blog.

Kate Bingaman-Burt was an incredible speaker. I was inspired by the fact that she didn’t discover her love for illustration until she was well into her twenties and now it’s her passion and her job. She was genuine and hilarious.

Ben Huh spoke on the topic of immigration – a subject that is very close to my heart. I shed the first of many TEDx tears during this moving presentation.

Not the greatest photo in the world but it’s Tom Brokaw. 🙂

Capturing photos of people laughing is my favorite.

As I mentioned, you can check out the rest of my photos on Flickr. And that’s a wrap for TEDx PDX 2013.

2012: A Quick Look Back (Part 2)

Part two of my look back at 2012. Part 1 ended in June while we were in Australia. It was a long trip (6 weeks) so July picks up right where we left off.


  • Animal fix at the Melbourne Zoo
  • A most sophisticated afternoon tea with the ladies
  • Inspiration overload
  • Boomerang training
  • Kid-free in the city
  • Adorable animal overload
  • Bringing some Australia home to Portland


  • Eating his weight in watermelon
  • Random moments of zen
  • Seattle-bound
  • Visting the Star Wars lego window display (an annual Summer tradition)


  • First day of 1st Grade and Pre-K (and the first time with two boys at the same school)
  • Seven years old
  • Soccer season part 1
  • Soccer season part 2
  • Lingering days of summer light


  • School performance by little bunnies
  • Apple tasting
  • A close encounter with a Big Friendly Giant
  • Bring on the rain and the beautiful colors of Autumn
  • Ninjas, Wizards and Jedi’s.


  • Leaf joy
  • Fiery foliage
  • Discovering Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
  • Quiet moments at Powells
  • Thanksgiving soccer games with friends
  • All aboard the Polar Express


  • The countdown to Christmas
  • Christmas Tree hunting
  • Christmas adventures in the city
  • Peacock Lane
  • Family fun
  • Ready for Santa
  • Saying goodbye to 2012 at Zoolights

So, with that, it’s farewell to 2012. It was a good year for the Ishidas and I just know that 2013 is going to bring more joys, challenges and, above all, fun.

Happy New Year!

The 2012 Lyrebird Images Desk Calendar

It started in 2010 as a fun end of year gift for my co-workers and grew in 2011 into a solution for the large number of teacher/family/friend gifts that I need to cover.

All it took was the time to sift through 12 months of photographs and choose 12 seasonally-appropriate favourites(!), some gorgeous templates from Paislee Press (because I’m too lazy to design my own) and a wonderful local photo printer that produced quality prints at a reasonable price before they, sadly, closed up shop at the end of the year. (I’m devastated).

PLEASE share suggestions for equally great and reasonably priced printers in the Portland area in the comments!

The best part about this project is that it provides me with the perfect opportunity to get my photos off the computer and share them with family and friends. It also gives me a chance to reflect on my photos from the past year and see where I need to improve (take more photos of “things”) and how I can make the calendar even better in 2013.

So, here it is, the 2012 Lyrebird Images desk calendar.

Welcoming the Year of the Dragon

As I return and recover from a quick trip to Las Vegas during which I I walked about 30 miles of the CES floor, I want to share a few photos from our weekend visit to the Japanese garden to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

Of course a Japanese New Year leads to reflection of each of our own birth years – what they mean and how they may have shaped our personalities. A quick critique of my year – the year of the Rabbit:

  • Usually generous, friendly and tranquil by nature. (ummmm…ok…)
  • Rabbits like everything to be low key and even tempered and are anxious if forced to take risks. (that’s fair)
  • They enjoy paying attention to detail to create an ambiance in their lives. (I have no time for details)
  • Rabbits most often prefer the easy road. (OK, now we’re onto something…)
  • Rabbits are suited to careers in literature, art, design, public relations, counseling, advisory occupations and law. They also make good secretaries. (Stop right there! Secretary? I would be a terrible secretary. And where is Photographer?)

Regardless of the inaccuracies in my own zodiac, I am looking forward to the Year of the Dragon and I’m grateful we were able to welcome it in style amidst the beauty and tranquility of the Japanese gardens.

Thomas and his friend Camille jumped at the opportunity to practice their Japanese calligraphy. Thomas tried his hand at some Kanji…

…while Camille worked on a Dragon.

And then we watched the professionals create their own amazing works of calligraphy art.

With REALLY big brushes.

Wishing you a very happy year of the Dragon.

5 Things Friday: Star Wars Fever

Star Wars has been a rather large obsession in our house for a few years now. We have the Legos, the costumes, the Wii game and the action figures that have all threatened to take over our house. But, for the last couple of months there has been a shift in playtime priorities. Somehow Luke Skywalker and Han Solo have been put back into the toy box while Spiderman, Batman, Spuerman, the ridller etc. etc. take over our lives.

It’s a nice change of pace – although I admit that I am getting a little tired of hearing the Spiderman theme song. One thing I have noticed, however, is that Superheros don’t inspire as many fun (and crazy) online discoveries.

So, in recognition of the phenomena that is Star Wars, I present you with five of my most fun, strange and simply crazy Star Wars-related internet finds.

1. Light Saber Train Handrails
Let’s ignore the fact that George Lucas is doing this to squeeze even more money from dedicated fans and just marvel at the pure genius of Light Saber handrails. If we had sen these when we visited Japan last year, then I think my kids heads would have exploded.

Via cnet.

Who doesn’t love a little Weird Al (in small doses of course). I think this is his best Star Wars song, set the the tune of “Lola”

If you like that one, then I would also recommend “The saga begins” set to the tune of “American Pie. Sidenote: Does Weird Al ever age?

3. Yoda Pie Chart
Someone shared this on Twitter last week and I love it!

Via Garr’s Posterous 

4. Scandinavian Retro Star Wars Posters
Stylish and informative. Could definitely see myself hanging it in my kids bedrooms – that is if I were the sort of person to hang things on walls (it’s shameful).

Via Ohdeedoh.

5. And finally, from classy to a little crazy – Star Wars French Ballet Disco.
I think this one speaks for itself.


This weekend looks like it might have to be a quiet one. Woke up with a nasty head cold this morning (I’m blaming my husband for passing it on) so I think I’ll spend the weekend sipping tea and lying on the couch. I’ll also be praying to the weather gods that we get a sunny day on Monday for the TeeUp for Down Syndrome golf tournament. It’s not much fun photographing golfers in the rain.

Photo by me. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this quick trip into Star Wars fanaticism. Happy Friday.

Friends? More Like Siblings.

The photo in this post is my entry for the latest I Heart Faces photo challenge, “Friendship”.

It’s interesting to look back over the last month and see how things have changed since Mayumi and Karin first arrived.Karin is not a shy child so, from the very first moment they stepped off the plane, she seemed comfortable in our house and with our children. But being comfortable and feeling at home are two different things and I think we can now safely say that Karin feels right at home.

This past weekend was the first time that Samuel and Karin really connected. And when I say “connected” I mean fought like siblings. Until now, Thomas and Samuel have kept up their constant bickering but Karin has largely stayed out of it. Now she is right in there with them, sometimes purposefully causing problems between the boys or trying to play on her cuteness. And I see this as a good thing. It means she’s comfortable. It means she can be herself with us, which I love.It means she treats our boys as she would a brother.

The challenge, however, is that the same rules don’t apply with Karin as they do with other children. When Karin takes a toy away, I can’t just ask Samuel to tell her how he feels and ask for it back because she doesn’t understand him. Of course the same is true of Karin – when she is upset she has trouble expressing her feelings in words unless Mayumi is close by to translate. Unfortunately it has resulted in a little more frustration and sometimes they act out that frustration by hitting. Still, I see this as a good lesson in patience (theirs and mine) and communication techniques when words don’t work.

So, where’s Thomas in all this? Well, he’s experiencing his own frustration. He doesn’t like it that the two little ones copy everything he does or when they take things away from him. He’s also having trouble finding his own space which is something we need to work on.

At the end of the day, though, the first thing Thomas and Samuel say when they get home is “where’s Karin?”. And Karin is all smiles the moment they walk in the door and they’re pretty much inseparable from that moment on. Maybe it was just a case of too much time together this weekend. Or maybe we just all need a vacation (coming soon!).

One thing’s for certain though, they are going to miss each other like crazy when Karin and Mayumi head home. Maybe, by then, I’ll manage to get a picture of the three of them together without the funny faces – or maybe this photo is a better reflection of real life right now, just a little bit crazy.