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!


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.

Happy Weekend!

We’re looking forward to one last long weekend before school starts. On the agenda:

  • Adding final editing touches to some special wedding photos
  • Organizing a few small sections of our house – I’m tackling it bit by bit
  • Hanging some art. I purchased a couple of prints from a local artist and plan to buy some frames this weekend and then work out where to hang them. I am also determined to finally print some of my own photos to fill our blank walls. We’ve only been here almost seven years, it seems about the right time to decorate
  • Visits to Target (for school supplies and 7th birthday presents) and Ikea (likely for a bunch of stuff we don’t need, oh and frames) – thrilling, I know
  • Catching up on season 1 of American Horror Story before season 2 begins. Looks creepy and weird which is right up my alley but I’ll definitely have to wait until the kids are in bed
  • A get-together with new school friends and old school friends and their parents
  • And, I hope, lots of gardening and playing and popsicle-eating.

What’s on your weekend agenda?

Last Days of Summer

It’s been over a week since I last posted for one simple reason – we’re busy! The new school year is almost upon us and, for the first time, both Thomas and Samuel will be attending the same school. You’d think that would make our lives a little easier right? Nope. Thanks to some issues with after school care, we’ll be juggling car pools and alternative childcare. I’m also a little worried about how my brain is going to retain school information for two children. It’s a new world.

Sure, it hasn’t started yet, but we’re already neck deep in paperwork and school supply purchases and orientations. Oh, and did I mention that I don’t have childcare this week? That’s right. I managed to do some creative child-swapping to cover a couple of work days and took two days off. In short, I’m exhausted and it’s only Thursday.

But, enough of my whining. We’ve also been having some fun in the midst of the craziness. A few highlights from my iphone…

We rode our bikes to the farmers’ market on Saturday. Soon after we arrived, batman was spotted running across the quadrangle.

And climbing the play equipment.

Thomas shot a couple of hoops

A friend joined us yesterday for a trip to the Rose Garden playground.

Taking a break…

A little stop on N Mississippi on the way home included lunch, frozen yogurt and a browse through a couple of shops. More pleasant than you’d think with three kids in tow. It was fun looking at the quirky objects for sale in the stores. I also enjoyed having a girl around so we could marvel at frilly vintage dresses together.

On the way home we happened upon some filming taking place in the next street. Of course I had to go over and take a closer look. As suspected, they were filming a little TV show that I won’t name here as I may give away a plot point or two. Hint: Thomas said it wasn’t very nice of them to be making fun of Portland.

I had four kids today, including my own, so we took a trip to the zoo.

We saw Pygmy goats!

and Beavers! (points if you can spot the Beaver)

and Cheetahs!

and Lions eating Buffalo!

Apart from the fact that I almost lost one child to an eagle during the “Wild” show, it was a very successful adventure and a great way to enjoy the last days of Summer before the real work begins after Labor day.

You can view my iphone photo stream on my Tumblr account here: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/nicoleishida or follow me on instagram, username nicolei.

A Stroll Through the NY Public Library

I took a lot of photos in NY (A LOT!), so expect them to appear here over the next few weeks.

I happened upon the gorgeous NY Public Library building quite by accident during my walk around midtown. While it was on my list of things to see during my visit to New York, I didn’t expect to bump into it while I walked blindly through the city on my first day. It was one of those wonderful discoveries that can creep up on you – one minute you’re navigating your way down streets lined with skyscrapers and then you turn a corner and happen upon park that covers two city blocks and, arguably, one of the most famous landmarks in the world (only partly due to Ghostbusters).

P.S. As  much as I enjoyed a peaceful walk through the library, a small part of me wishes I had the good fortune to visit on this day.

When Life Gives You Birthday Rain, Make Rainbows

I had big plans for my birthday. I took a couple of days off work to enjoy some relaxation, photography and a little alone time. I mean, it worked last year so why not?

Torrential Portland rain, that’s why not.

So, instead, I worked around the rain and made the best of it. I still managed to do a few things on my checklist (Powells, a brief photo walk, karaoke) and also received a few unexpected surprises (cake!).

Here is my (very long) birthday weekend in photos – part 1.

THURSDAY (my birthday)

9am. Amazing Mexican Mocha Coffee with a ham and cheese croissant. Also managed to read an entire Willamette Week article from beginning to end.

11:00am. Head downtown to return some items at Banana Republic. Contemplate parking at Pioneer Place and consider walking around but decide against when a hurricane begins to blow in (only a slight exaggeration).

12:00pm. Settle for lunch at Violetta which was decadent and delicious. Grateful for my Kindle which enabled me to read and eat at the same time without the pages turning with each gust of wind.

Took a few stealth photos of the city while I protected my camera from the elements.

1:15pm. Drove to the Pearl District with one goal – to browse the Photo book section of Powells. Managed to leave having spent only $13 total for two second hand pocket-sized books. Must be a record of some sort.

2:00pm. Rain stopped for a short while, allowing me to walk around a little. It wasn’t part of the plan, but I decided to step inside Cargo Imports for the very first time. (Look at me being all spontaneous).

A friend mentioned to me a long time ago and, OMG, why didn’t I check it out sooner? Oh, right, probably because it would be a lot less fun saying “don’t touch that” and “stop running” and “look out” every 10 seconds while trying to take in the goodies around every corner. Seeing it on my own was the perfect thing to do and something I plan to relive when I have more than 20 minutes left on the meter.

2:50pm. Made it back to the car with minutes to spare before I was forced to donate to the Portland Parking fund. Headed home for a little downtime (like my entire day hasn’t been downtime).

4:30pm. Collected one of the children from daycare and then kept an eye on him through the door while he watched the neighbor kids throw a ball around in their front yard. Birthday dinner consisted of whatever I could find in the fridge (for me) and canned pasta (for him). I was pacing myself for a big weekend.

Deepest apologies to the neighbors who’s flowers also became a gift for me on the weekend. We put a stop to it as soon as we knew where they came from.

I asked Samuel to let me take his photo as a birthday present to me (I’m not afraid to play it). He gave me this. Love that kid.

Kei and Thomas arrived home a couple of hours later – bringing cake and the promise that I could open the birthday present that the UPS man kindly delivered to my door the previous evening.

Hello, my precious…

FRIDAY (day after my birthday but stopping before Karaoke because it needs a post of its’ own)

I don’t have many photos of Friday because, well, it wasn’t very exciting. It was raining again so I made the most of it with some indoor activities. Yoga in the morning followed by a couple of hours of catching up on some TV and then a lot of tidying up the house before my cleaners arrived.

4:00pm Left the house in the midst of a crazy downpour to pick up one child and then drive to meet the other.

1.5 hours later – finally arrived at the dinner destination about 10 miles away from our house. Thank you Portland traffic that can’t deal with rain even though we drive through it EVERY DAY.

Dinner consisted of reasonably priced, yet delicious, gourmet hot dogs.

After dinner we stopped by a special Art Show for Thomas’ after school program.

Kei took the kids on a (very quick) tour of the candy bus while I quickly headed home to be there in time for my Karaoke carpool.

Apparently I missed seeing the Llama and still only made it back about 10 minutes before the rest of the family. I’m a little sad about that. A Llama would have been a good addition to my birthday story.

OK – even I’m getting tired of the photos at this point so I’ll come back tomorrow to share some more highlights from the weekend. Hint: it includes a lot of singing, a delicious dinner and watching some heroes save the world (or New York, at least) from the front row of a movie theater.

Here’s a sneak peek.

Back soon.

On Being Inspired and Feeling Vulnerable: The TEDx Portland Not-Quite-a-Recap, Recap

I’m traveling again this week, this time to Seattle (well, Bellevue) for just a couple of days for a work event. I’m coming off a busy weekend during which I photographed the TEDx event in Portland on Saturday, trimmed a massive hedge down the side of our house in 85 degree heat on Sunday, spent Monday editing photos from Saturday and then Tuesday getting work done for my real job before watching Thomas test for his Karate yellow belt. And now I’m here in Bellevue.

So that’s my roundabout way of explaining why I haven’t posted in a while. I keep waiting for life to slow down…

I’m working on a recap of some of my favorite talks from Saturday’s TEDx event but I figured it would be much more meaningful if I could actually link to replays, so it may have to wait for a few weeks until they’re posted online. Needless to say, I left feeling inspired and challenged. Nothing like a day of intelligent people talking about amazing projects to get the creative juices flowing.

I can share one presentation from the event right now. It was a replay from another TEdx event that they showed on the screen and, honestly, I felt like this talk was being delivered directly to me. Brene Brown, a researcher in Social Work, talked about the power of being vulnerable (something I struggle with as most of my close family members will attest) and how opening yourself up to vulnerability can open yourself up to so much more of your life. It was funny, poignant and very close to home.

Back soon with more photos and stories. Until then I’ll continue trying to keep my head above water.