{CLOSED} Laotian Entertainment: Family Movie Night w/ “How to Train You Dragon 2” & Giveaway

TheLaotianCommotion.com: Have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsored

I can’t tell if motherhood has really screwed me over (more than it has) or if family movies have really stepped up their emo game. I have cried at commercials, sure, but an animated, action-adventure movie? This latest movie was seriously no exception because not only did wet, hot things roll down my face (again) but the kids and I were cheering on the characters. Seriously, the last time we did were all rooting at the screen characters was *cough* kidsstayupwatchingTheWalkingDeadwithus *cough* In “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (HTTYD2), we got all of it: action, friendship, and heroism. I especially loved the reunited love story the mostest. I’m such a sucker for reunions because I hate losing things, ‘know what I’m sayin? Ugh. You also can’t go wrong with dragons. DRAGONS! And especially, widdo baby dragons. So kewt.

Enough of the movie, let’s move on to the the best part of movie: snacks. The good people over from DreamWorks basically tossed us the awesome gift of calories and sugar, which I have never been mad at someone for doing so, for my family to enjoy while watching one of the best films of 2014. We got to nosh on buttery popcorn and candies like Red Vines and Sour Patch Kids (which are VEGAN, wut), along with some longer-lasting goodness in the form of the newest addition to our bare feet grenades toy family: Toothless action figure! Toothless is the dragon companion to Hiccup, the protagonist of the HTTYD movies, and he’s one of those cute dragons I was talkin’ about.

If you haven’t seen any of the films from the HTTYD franchise, go-go-go now and enjoy a family-friendly animation that will have you cheer and/or cry from start to finish. Yes, I cried at the old love reunion! I recommend this particular film because dragons are so in right meow and if you aren’t on that dragon bandwagon, this is a great way to get the whole family started! Also, it’s really fun animation with really memorable characters and that’s probably what you’ll get out of it rather than dragon pop culture. So, this will be a family favorite, for sure!

Continue reading for a special surprise just for my beloved Laotian Commotion readers…

TheLaotianCommotion.com: How to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsoredTheLaotianCommotion.com: Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsoredTheLaotianCommotion.com: Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsoredTheLaotianCommotion.com: Click to have your own relaxing #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsoredTheLaotianCommotion.com: Click to have your own #HTTYD2 movie night! #sponsored

Haven’t seen “How to Train Your Dragon 2” but want to experience the animated adventure with dragons and their trainers in a faraway place?

Well, I’m hosting a DreamWorks giveaway that includes:

1) your very own copy of the Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital HD movie

2) a Toothless action figure to call your own

Here is how:

  1. Subscribe to TheLaotianCommotion.com on the sidebar all by entering your email. Don’t worry I’m too busy with life to blog everyday.
  2. Comment below on this post with your email and favorite movie time snack of all time. If it’s quinoa cakes, you might just be disqualified. Jk.

Giveaway ends Sunday, 12/14 11:59 PST and I will choose a random winner with details on a subsequent blog post so please subscribe, tweet, and instagram me!

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View From Down There: The Back and The Buggy

kid toddler photog seriesWhen you Google the terms “kid photography,” do not be surprised when you see a bunch of images of kids and not photographs by kids: a kid-kid photographer, who takes photographs. I keep track of my children’s development by Googling all sorts of shit yet Google did not tell me what age children know how to take selfies, choose filters, and change shutter speed. All things that my toddler and not-in-preschool preschooler know how to do when they jack my iPhone and leave little kid photog gems. Using kids’ unedited imagination, feel free to see and add your own mini photog’s #viewfromdownthere to show the world through their eyes.

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The grocery store with two kids under the age of four can be absolute horror if you don’t plan your time or aisle routes well. I truly despise grocery marketing tactics when they place brightly-colored sleeves of candy at toddler eye level so I, the already flustered mom with two kids under the age of four, would have to deal with toddler meltdowns. My tried and true strategy has been The Back and The Buggy: one kid in the Ergo carrier, one in the shopping cart.

kid grocery cart pic kid photog grocery shopping~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Here’s where you can view the rest of the series: Kid Photog Series

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How do you run errands effortlessly without alcohol?

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When You Miss A Breastfeeding Session or Two

I did what any breastfeeding mom going back to work would do: get an expensive breast pump with full intention of using that expensive breast pump. When Lanoy was 10 months old, I went to my first day back in a classroom. I asked the original teacher if there was a place I could pump during the planning and/or lunch to which she, of course, noted the nearby germ playground kindergarten bathroom or the classroom with the door locked. Few hours pass and before I know it, I am picking up crayon wrappers after the kids have left for home. I did not pump at all that day and my body hated me for it.

I got home, popped that girl on a tit, and pumped out the other side as she nursed and I got about enough milk for the village. This is my breasts’ way of getting really angry with me for messing up the flow of things. My body was all, ‘Bitch, where were you for your noon feeding? Oh, you were leading an art lesson? Okay” and decided to open the milk flood gates to rebuke career duties. The awful part was when an elementary schooler’s big head would bump into my chest for the side-hugs-only contact and I felt like I was going to fill the classroom with letdown and fore milk. Lest us not forget lunch; my boobs went go-go-gadget when it’s being nourished. I can feel my boobs swell up a notch with each bite of food next to ancient teachers, who probably did not understand my face of breast discomfort. Not a lot of teachers pumped that I knew of.

I then made the decision to not pump for my toddler. After a while, my body adjusted and my breasts weren’t so painful if I nursed Lanoy right before I walk out the door. They weren’t ‘so painful’ where I couldn’t not work so I kept trucking on. This went on for six months while I was teaching part-time this school year. It would totally be different if I was in a classroom full-time and eight hours a day. On a few occasions, I run a bit late to nurse my sleep-through-the-night toddler before leaving, come home after a full day, and the first thing thing I say to GH after he asks about my day is:

breastfeeding boobs on fire

*For some tips for pumping, go see How To Get More Milk With A Hand Pump

When do your boobs get on fiyah?

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That Damn Children’s Book That Made Us Cry But Not From Reading It

For three years since we were gifted a children’s book by a dear friend, GH and I had never been able to end the reading with dry eyes. For me, I blamed it on hormones— pregnancy, breastfeeding, or my cycle. As for GH, I don’t know what’s up with him but he cries every single time he reads the book “Love You Forever“. Each time we are near the book, we unofficially challenge each other to get through the book without crying. I have won each time because I am a cold-hearted woman; GH is very sensitive.

The most recent “Love You Forever Challenge” (LYFC) happened when it was Lanoy’s turn to choose a book. She randomly chose Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever,” written by a Canadian whose wife experienced two stillbirths. The premise of the book is about a boy and his evolving relationship with his mother from birth to her old age. If you haven’t read it, it’s a cute and creepy book. Not even gonna lie to ya. I also won’t lie that even I, Cold Woman, have had warm, moist things well up my eyeball sockets by line two.

Tonight though, tonight was a different type of cry: I wanted to document my LYFC opponent’s impending defeat so I snapped a bunch of photos to document that grown men let go of their thug at this book. So, per usual, GH was bawling by the second-to-last page and I’m crying because he’s crying but he cried first so I technically win and that was that. Later that night, I sent GH the endearing photos of him reading with his kids and this is the photo that made us cry even harder:

{TheLaotianCommotion.com} #parentingmeme that we need to spread near n' far.

#mememonday

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What’s a favorite children’s book that you cannot get through?

My Lao Village: 20 People Who Helped Me Survive A(nother) Year of Parenting

Lao-Americans celebrate everything and I mean everything basically the same way: with Lao food, with alcohol, and with an entire community. If you’re an outsider, you would not be able to tell apart if the goat feast in the backyard is celebrating a Lao wedding, a Lao housewarming, a Lao funeral, or a birthday. No age of birthday is safe from such a drunken atmosphere, even little ones’ own days. I think the Lao have the right idea by celebrating a ‘village’ rather than focus on a single person. Many coo over the precious Bébé yet very few actually consider other people, especially one of whom whose hoo-hah was deeply affected by such existence, that all helped raise a child. Yes, sure “happy birthday” but can we give it up for everyone else?First birthday

20. Birthday Kid We sang her a song, baked her a cake, and made that day all about her. Lanoy gets her day and a shout-out because she is a sweet baby girl, who makes me proud every damn day to be her mama.

19. Mama I think it’s safe to say none of us would be here if it weren’t for a womb of steel and mighty loins doing the hefty work. So, I am giving myself a huge ass pat on the back and a strong ass cocktail.

18. Dada It takes two to tango-parenting? Here’s to Gym Hottie for kinda, sorta helping out in the year that was the first year of Double-Trouble Parenting. Kinda.

17. Big Bro I cannot be any more proud yet guilty of Humnoy being thrust into this role. He’s shown us how much he’s grown when he tries to soothe his sister or when he tackles her for touching his toy. Seriously, Dude’s getting huge.

16. Grandparents GH and I would like to give a major shoutout to my and his parents for being the best grandparents many, many, many miles away. Our kids might not recognize you on the street but they love all the love you send anyway.

15. Aunts, Uncles, and Other Obscure Family Tree Members I can’t tell you how many “aunts” and “uncles” I had growing up. Get this: my mom only has three yet only two non-estranged siblings but I have 30 times the amount of “cousins” through various family-friend connections. My real-real family are the greatest people I’ve ever known and the -Noys’ Aunts and Uncles: The Next Generation.

14. Neighbors Living in apartments, we get to be really close but not all our building mates are all who we (want to) interact with. The kids (Hum since little toddlerhood; La since birth!) have a strong connection with our apartment home community office girls. Yes, even Clingy McClingerson.

13. Ergobaby You have carried me through two kids and I don’t know how I could have been a mom to a toddler and a newborn if it weren’t for the carrier. It’s old and worn now (label fell off) but I got it in the perfect color: Black (aka Stain Disguise).

12. YMCA Daycare Confession: I haven’t been to the gym in months but it’s nice to know I can drop off the kids to go “work” “out” “in” “the” “gym.” The option is good for a mom mental health day. Me, in the gym in 50 years

11. Fast Food Worker Man, not only do you give me hot, weird-for-you food but you do so with a sympathetic ear. Speaking of ear, sorry for the shrieking children from the backseat but I gotta make sure we eat before grocery shopping. Never Go Grocery Shopping While Hungry.

10. Asian Wax Salon I love that they always try to convince me to cut Humnoy’s luscious locks every time I’m in with the kids, which is always because my lip and underarm hair grows like a muth. I also love that they accommodate my kids with lollipops and comfy chairs as I accommodate the shit out of that hair.

9. Random Old Ladies Thank you for commending how well-behaved my babies are as I’m trying to get the fuck out of the store before these well-behaved babies aren’t so behaved. Don’t tell these sweet little old ladies, but I bribe the shit out of my kids.

8. Grocery Bakery Does your grocer’s bakery give out freshly baked cookies as you’re shopping? Our favorite one does and this helps my bargaining leverage so I can have those well-behaved babies every old lady notices.

7. Little (Big) Kids How adorable is it when big(ger) kids try on the Mommy or Daddy role and try to take care of little kids? Our community has elementary-aged kids at our playground and they love the -Noys! I’ll just be over here Instagramming tweeting.

6. Supervisor Huge appreciation to you giving me a job that is flexible around my schedule and availability. Also, thanks so much for providing a justified (and paid) break from motherhood. That shit be so nice.

5. Public School Students I mean, if it weren’t for these kids, I wouldn’t have a job. After a day teaching though, I run with open arms to the Double-Trouble Team back at home. Hormones on a prison schedule makes toddler tantrums sound like a melodious chart-topping hit rather than a banshee.

4. Real-Life Strangers I don’t know you and you don’t know me but I really appreciate you not acting like you do on the Internet out here in real life. As long as you don’t helicopter my ass or harass my family, you can judge my parenting at a glance all you want.

3. Internet Strangers Huge, huge shoutout to the fake friends that I made online (<— hahaha, like I’m making paper dolls or some shit) and the trolls that proved to me that I do not need to feel validated in others like you do to be comfortable in my own skin and voice. Bye, Pholicia!

Bye Bitch Pocahontas funny gif photo ByeBitch.gif

2. Third-World Parents I used to turn to Facebook groups and online discussions but I now ask, “what would my grandmother do?” and I know the answer. Thanks for always being with me and the children long after you passed.

1. You Yes, you. Thank you for being there on the other side of this screen reading these words. Thank you for being interested in my culture, my family, and myself even when it’s not popular. Again, thanks for acting like you do on the Internet. Keep that shit up.

Happy birthday Parenting Survival Anniversary!

Who’s in your village?

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Season 5 ‘Archer’ Invasion: 6 Things You Need To Know To Appreciate Laos and The Series

Just two episodes into the 5th season, FX’s Archer still got me locked in. The spy animation comedy did the normal run with forever favorite one-liners and crazy longing for Super Agents Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin; Bob’s Burgers) and Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler; Talk Soup, Ghost Whisperer) to just have sex already but also revealed an otherwise special location plot. It wasn’t until the very end of the premiere episode (“White Elephant”) where Archer is envisioning the only viable direction to go is to “Go Vice” thus revealing where in the world the ISIS crew Sterling has haphazardly landed; a place that is very dear to me and the inspiration of this blog: Laos!

archer in laos
I am not saying that Laos will cover the rest of the season or if Archer will be in Laos for more than an episode but it got me all fan-girl over the mention of the motherland. What I am most excited to see is how Laos will be portrayed geographically, culturally, and linguistically. I can only hope the designers for Season 5 did the Land Of A Million Elephants some justice so here are some things I noticed from the Archer premiere about Laos:

1) Lao Leader

archer invades laos 1 leader
Instead of Whore Island, it’s just Laos (Landlocked). It looks as though Archer is leading a band of brown men again much like in Season 3’s piracy vacation on Pangu Island. With Chi (Chi Duong, yeah, I know) and what looks like Laotians by his side, Archer is leading one group of brown people to blow up another group of brown people. Where else in history have I seen this?

2) Lao People

archer invades laos 2 bomb
It will be interesting to see why Archer is leading one pack against another. Mainly, I’m interested in seeing how physically similar the characters resemble any family members of mine. (The kids’ Lao Grandpa, ahem) It’s not a deal breaker for me if I can’t recognize anybody I know used as a visual model.

3) Chi

archer invades laos 5 chi
The last time we saw Chi was in 4.9 (“The Honeymooners”) playing the oh so stereotypical manicurist for Archer in the Tuntmore Towers Hotel, where he joined Lana as pretend-newlyweds (we all wish!) to stake out the North Koreans. In the premiere vision, we now see Chi as Archer’s Asian sidekick.

4) Lao Language

archer invades laos 4 chi
I’m not exactly sure what Chi was saying because it did not resonate as any part of the Laotian language to me. I’m no linguist but trust me when I say I understood not a damn thing. Sure, it could be another one of the four specific dialects in Laos but I’m still not so sure. Wait, the visual model/designer is Vietnamese, not Laotian. Ruh-roh.

5) Lao Landscape

archer invades laos 6 tiger
Lao looks legit, I guess. It reminds me of Predator more than rice fields and mud roads. Okay, I had never been over to Laos so I don’t have much to say other than “Look! A tiger!” Here’s to hoping the landlocked country’s lush floodplains and high atop mountains make a cameo.

6) Lao History Lesson

archer invades laos 7 go vice
If you are a huge U.S. history buff then you may know that the Lao Secret War was a horrific moment in the small country’s history and a shame on the United State’s. It would be neat if the show led into a history lesson of how damaging the Vietnamese invasion was to the neutral country of Laos. Oh, wai– you didn’t? Well, now you know.

Watch Archer on Mondays, 10 pm on FX

Do you watch Archer? What do you know about Laos?

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What Should I Do If I Leave The Worst Tip Possible? {POLL}

Good on ya, Gramps.

The day’s perk I looked most forward to was definitely hitting up Denny’s for my free Grand Slam Breakfast. I also realized my birthday fell on Denny’s “Kids Eat Free” day and I called, confirmed it was true that I could 1) Bring in valid ID to get a Free Grand Slam and 2) Kids eat free from 4-10. I was for sure going to be there with bells on from 4-10 pm. Of course, when I get there solo with two little kids, I notice the teeny tiny print that the Kids Promo is valid only through the purchase of an adult entree of $4 or more. So, that’s not what the dude said on the phone and it just gets more annoying for everyone.

I know Denny’s isn’t some hottie tottie palace of foodie haven but it’s still an eating establishment with good workers and honest patrons. I respect that and just made a plan to pay for the kids’ meals since I’m getting $8 of my bill free. After some notable horrendous service including asking for stupid crayons for the fourth time to appease the trampoline toddler in the booth and banshee baby in the chair, I finally made my way up to the server to request my check because the last time I saw her was plate delivery. The kids played, they ate, they were also ready to go. The check had the kids meals as free but the birthday meal charge. I hand the cashier my drivers license while redirecting a toddler and holding a 20-ton baby-child, who is a bolter.

Between the toddler whining for money to feed the stupid, stupid Claw Machine and a baby who wants to run into the Denny’s kitchen, I’m trying to listen to the cashier as he lectures me that my birthday comp usually should not cover the kids promo, which I admittedly knew since the fine print but am shocked anyway. He did me a solid by saying “this birthday” will be free but next year, I won’t be so lucky as I try to distract Humnoy from his favorite Disney character in the plush toy pit. I escort the kids out in the wind and rain and make it home safe. Phew. Birthday accomplished, I’d say! Kinda.

We bounce into our home and I get interrogated with “Did you tip the server?” by GH.

Oh.

Shit.

My kids and I enjoyed a free meal and I did not think to do the basic 20 15% and tip the staff, as shitty as they were! This may sound like I forgot on purpose but honestly forgot not on purpose! I felt so bad and insisted we need to go back and anonymously drop off some cash… but to whom? Which shift? Would they even welcome me back into there? I didn’t catch either of their names because I only saw them once at our table. I really have never done this and feel really, really bad and basically:

What’s your tipping rule?

Raising ‘Em Lao: Letting Your Biracial Kids Dance With The Other Culture

Perhaps the biggest perk of being raised bi-culturally is that it is double the fun. Lao culture has a strong footing in how I would like to raise the -Noys to experience the world but lest us not forget the other identity:

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Humnoy and Lanoy are half-Caucasian (or white, whichever PC term you prefer) and I cannot forget that. I once heard that “Asian genes are strong” and I was vainly excited because that part of my identity is so strong for me. It has influenced every bit of life I intentionally plan for my kids down to their names. We live in America, the kids will have American friends, and we dominantly speak English in our home. If I wanted the kids to hear full conversations in Lao, we’d need at least another Lao-speaking person in the household. If I wanted the kids to learn to write in Lao, I’d need to have my mom teach them. If I wanted to let the kids embrace the songs of my people, I would need to stand through Lao lam (pronounced ‘lum’), a form of Lao folk music, and admittedly not particularly my favorite aspect of the Lao life. I just had to let it happen and it did in one moment with their dad.

What happens is a show of what I stereotypically place on the spectrum of “shit white people like.” I didn’t even realize that the Other Culture’s appreciation would come without such effort until one quiet evening after dinner when GH entertained the kids long enough for me to clean up. All GH did was turn on his white guy playlist to see first-hand how The Other Culture is strong:

Which aspect from which side of family is the strongest for you or kids?

For further reading, please go laugh and laugh at this Yahoo Answers thread: “White people songs

Lao Women Make It Look Sew Easy: My First-World Handicraft Fail

lao weaving loom

Photo: Amy Kitchener

My Lao homies over in the motherland are weaving gorgeous tapestries and works of silk-woven art and I’m over here struggling with a straight stitch on my sewing machine. Did you know that the elaborate tradition of Laotian hand-weaving was practically faded out with its Communist rule in 1975? Enter refugee camps and it seemed the centuries-long craftsmanship was no longer necessary to culture or country. Recently, that has changed thanks to tourism and the rightful desire to reclaim the intricate culture of the hand-woven trade, which dates back to the 14th century. I’m truly inspired by that rich history through one piece of cultural connection to me is the sinh, a silk tubular skirt commonly worn by Lao women. So when I received a hand-me-down sewing machine, I made the naive assumption that sewing would be easy with a machine. “Hey, weaving is in my blood, right? What can a sewing machine do to me?” Well, roles switched and the machine is making me into something.

First: Excited! First, I was super excited to do all sorts of cool shit: fix shit up, make shit for people, any kind of shit I can add on top of my Pinterest.

“WTF is this?” I did the honorable thing and took the time to get familiar with it before diving in. I read the manual, checked the parts, and even looked up YouTube reviews. I had a doozy trying to figure out what to type in Google how to use the “mini pizza cutter thingy.”

It’s called a hand-me-down for a reason My mom’s co-worker was retiring and gave away a Sears Kenmore Model 385. I couldn’t locate the year in the manual but it’s pretty ancient judging by the old ass diagrams. Plus, there weren’t any touch screens so I was all, “I’m out.”

I had one job The very very very first thing before firing off all these projects is, of course, threading the needle. I can’t even do that. I did the bobbin, easy. When it came time to wind the top thread, I could never get it to be taut so as I was winding, it would just keep pulling from the spool and look like a limp ass.

top thread too loose

Unraveling confidence I wanted to get to the projects I had in mind but I can’t properly thread it right for some reason. When your ‘practice stitches’ look like a preschooler’s craft-gone-wrong, your craft ego will plummet quicker than winding a bobbin. Just when I thought I threaded it right finally, my machine tells me, “not so much.” Literally tells me because it made this scary noise when it jammed!

sewing machine jam

Money down the drain I’ve just about ruined the few fabric scraps I had laying around and I can see how costly (and addicting) this can be! I just want to…

sew all the things.jpg
Final: Scrap it all! I’m just ready to give up until I can find out what exactly I’m doing wrong. I have no clue what I’m doing wrong. It’s 2013! Am I that far behind in self-sufficiency that I can’t operate a machine?

fuck you sewing
Help My aunt, who lives locally, has offered her help and she’s made cool shit. The lady has made several hooded towels for the kids as baby shower gifts! It took me a few days of seamstress fail after fail to appreciate the practical gift. I remember my little cousin, who made her own skirt, was taught by her mom and my cousin is like a baby so, help me!

You can follow my sewing pins here: She Sew Cray Cray

Have you taken up a handicraft and failed?