Merry Theeksmas from the Laotian Commotion and Co.

‘My holiday wish for you is to enjoy this Winter more than I am.’

Seattle weather can suck it!

Holiday #familyphoto @ old tree farm in WALove,

Theek, GH, and the Noys

Are you counting the days until Spring/Summer too?

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Only the Most Important Things on My Phone

I’ve been obsessed with the iPhone since I got the third generation back in 2008. Six years later, I don’t know if I can live without it. It keeps me “organized,” in touch, and keeps my selfie game in check. Finally figured out how to showcase only the important things on my phone: de-clutter with a whole lot of adorable.

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Just fucking kidding. I still am a hot mess.

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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.

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 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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View From Down There: Wake Up, Mama!

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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Ask GH: I am not a morning person. If I’m not getting up for work then I’m not getting up. No one needs to be up (without pay) so goddamn early in the morning, kids included. My kids are semi-morning people. They will get up but usually let me sleep a little longer. Humnoy will find his Lego blocks and build a Transformer/spaceship/Transformer-spaceship and let me be. My little girl is my little girl for a reason. Lanoy loves to sleep and enjoys the crook of my armpit right along her Mama and we are happy. There are some mornings where blissful sleep drift away like a dream through wide-shut eyes of a 3.5-year-old photog. This is his way of asking for cereal:

kid photog wake up mama1kid photog wake up mamakid photog wake up mamakid photog wake up mama 2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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Who wakes up first in your house?

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Kid Photog: A ‘View From Down There’ Photo Series

kid toddler photog series

When 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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When I had the idea to document what my kid photogs are documenting, I mainly had all Humnoy shots. He would have all these interesting shots of his shoes on the wrong foot or peeping Tom on the neighbor’s balcony. One day, I was winding down as I do at the end of the day to inventory photos and found a low-key gem by the other -Noy.

I love this hilarious cèlfie because it has both GH, Lanoy, and me in one shot going on our normal family happenings: cooking food because we love to eat. Too much actually. Still accurate is how Hum is not in the shot because he goes off into his own world trashing the living room. She was in her usual spot on the floor near our feet scavenging and begging for food as I’m preparing it. It’s usually there or she’s laying down in the oven drawer like she would be in a bassinet.
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To see her other hilarious internet picture, check out my Love You Forever post.

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

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Do your kids know how to work a camera?

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How All Your Family Photos Turn Out

the mom derp
taking pictures with kids

My White husband is just tickled about how Lao people take pictures. For as long as we can go back in my family’s albums, not a single person is smiling. Ever. They always have a stoic expression in any old black-and-white pic from Laos or the most recent Lao-lish wedding in front of the food banquet. Lao people just are not happily photogenic. Well, not I! Ever since I discovered social media a la MySpace, I have been taking my own selfies for years just with the surprise element of 35 mm disposable cameras! I just make sure I get to be in front from now on.

I always want my and my children’s personalities to show through in photos. It’s no coincidence all photos of my children seem to scream, “crazy! loud! toddling!” They can’t sit still long enough for me to capture the cutest new thing they are doing or how Humnoy is planting a sweet kiss on Lanoy’s cheek. So a lot of the time, I have to wrangle the beasts in and make them take a picture with their mother: physically holding them otherwise all the photos will be flashes of flesh from their escape out of the frame. Of course Unfortunately, a photographubby can step in or I accept the awful pixel quality of the front-face camera for selfies. -_______-

That’s not the problem because when I’m trying to look my best, i have no clue WTF the children are doing at the camera. They look so fucking adorable one second and the shutter speed fail shows major baby derp. By the time the kids have had with my bullshit, I wisely nod at the 2 dozen rapid fire shots I snagged before the kids slither down my legs. All that comes in where I finally see all the hard work of trying to take photos with your kids:

Then there’s one you just say, “Fuck it; that’ll do. the best one

How do you get kids to pose for pictures?

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Working With A Photographubby

photographubby

GH’s masterpiece: unfiltered, unaltered withe exception of watermark

There is an unspoken rule of thumb when girlfriends take each others’ pictures: make sure the other one looks good. Us girls know how important it is to look good in the photos because it will go through the Delete-or-Keep Process regardless. I also will not post any unflattering photos of my friends either. Never have, never will. So, now that I do not have the access to like-minded girlfriends anymore, my default photog is my husband.

I thought the model was supposed to be the diva. Why is it that you’d think that asking GH to take some shots of me is like asking him to give up Starbucks for eternity and forever. Complete with an eye roll and an under-the-breath huff, he’s all “one and done.” Don’t he know I gotta get at least 20 snaps before even getting the Female Stamp of Approval? This request is obviously 19 times too demanding. GH has finally warmed up to the fact that I am insisting to be in front of the camera from now on. He just really has no choice but to hop along on the happy wife, happy life train of thought. I’m grateful I have someone who’s passed kindergarten to take these photos I want but I just can’t help but be a little annoyed. It’s an iPhone, sure, but he did such a nice job at the home birth. Come the fuck on.

My photography rules are simple:

1) Make sure I look good.

2) Nobody likes a blurry pic.

3) Make sure I look really good.

4) Don’t make me feel bad for wanting pics taken of me.

5) Make sure I look really damn good.

Is it the photographer or the equipment that’s at fault?

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This Babywearing Photo Carries Many Emotions About Life In Laos

As much as I tout Lao culture being the best thing about my identity and how Lao food is an underrated ethnic scene, I actually have never stepped foot into my motherland. My mother hasn’t either since 1979, the year she escaped war-torn Laos with her younger siblings and parents to seek refuge in the United States. My grandfather, my mom’s father, was a farmer in Laos as are most poor families in the land-locked country in Southeast Asia sustaining their own food system to survive. As the oldest female child in each of our families, my mother and I do share one thing: a burden only an older child has.

In honor of International Babywearing Week (yup, totally a thing), I started out looking for images to highlight the ancient and cultural practice of babywearing, the act of wearing a child in a cloth carrier of some sort. I mean, Laos is the home of one of the original “crunchy moms.” Sorry, you’re not that crunchy. Not sorry. I found plenty of beautiful images of fresh-faced moms and sleep-drunk babies on their backs but the photo pool shifted my focus to a more specific theme: children and babywearing. Yes, actually babies wearing babies. Why is a child wearing a baby almost the same size?

As any able-bodied adult may be equipped to pitch in, both parents in Laos tend to the now-yellow fields of rice to prepare for harvesting. *Many farm fields are actually far, far from home in behind mudslides and atop mountains. As a Laotian-American, I cannot recall the age of my earliest babysitting of my three younger siblings because I was that young. Young as in my parents trusted me to have a responsibility to make sure these kids were safe, if that can be appropriate for a child in elementary school. In Laos, this isn’t shocking, it’s necessary for burdens to bear on the entire family, no matter the age, in order to survive. A child wears a burden and keeps a younger sibling safe, warm, secure. All the things every child needs. Ironically the very thing the care-giving child desperately yearns for but suppresses for family duty.

babywearing in Laos

“A young pub thawj girl takes good care of her baby brother while Mum and Dad are out on the farm in the mountains near Luang Prabang, Laos.” – Paul Wager Photography from Facebook

*This scenario is actually very rare as many mountainous peoples’ homes are near the farmlands, even in the mountains. It is unlikely that nursing mothers were that far away from their infants this young. The children were nearby for this reason but out of the actual fields where the others would tend to the fields.

About Paul Wager: “Paul Wager gave up his life of photo journalism in Australia to venture into the ethnic diversity of Laos.” You can see more beautiful and haunting photos from Laos at Paul Wager’s website and Facebook.

How did you celebrate babywearing this week?

You can find me tweeting my hatred for pants on twitter, filtering the shit outta mom lyfe on Instagram, pinning food I’ll never make on Pinterest, and being a SEO creep on Google+

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My Luck with Birth Photography

Not only do I get to add a doula (and free encapsulated placenta) to my birth team, I may be able to get what I think every birth should have. Just as I thought I’m just the luckiest pregnant woman in the world with my run of free shit, I get another stroke of luck. After my not-that-boring pregnancy update stemming from my last appointment, I got some amazing info from my midwife. As my doula and I were chatting in the waiting lounge of my birth center, my midwife rushes out relieved to see I was still there. She brings up a previous client, who is interested in an upcoming birth. It turns out that this client is a budding photographer who is building her birth photography portfolio and willing to be on-call to come to my birth, you guessed it, for free!

The only reason I teared up at this chunk of news is because I literally have a handful of nice birth photos of Humnoy. Also, there is no way we could afford a professional photographer. Lack of Humnoy’s birth photos was a bit upsetting because it was such a big event. First-time pregnancy attempting an unmedicated birth in a hospital is kinda a big deal to me. I achieved what many people scoffed at me for, told me I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do, and it was the day I became a mama! All I had were poorly angled photos of me in labor (courtesy GH) and a few photobombs of a bewildered me behind my family showing off hours-old Humnoy. Other than that, I literally don’t have a thousand words to put to my 8-hour labor, except my birth story.

natural hospital birth

I contacted the photographer and she was very enthusiastic about birth photography. The only hangup is that the most ideal situation for her to attend my birth must be compatible with childcare for her infant. The ideal situation is after hours Monday through Friday (her husband’s work hours) and the weekend, of course. We both lamented how birth is unpredictable and that it could be literally anything. I joked that Humnoy chose a Sunday ultimately choosing his own name and Bébé could follow suit. Although, Humnoy’s birth was a 9-5 gig, which could be the problem if family birth patterns exist. The photographer did say she could swing it with her spouse’s schedule in order to attend my home birth so that is more reassuring to me to know I’ll be able to have (HD) memories of a possible last pregnancy and birth. I’m just so beyond grateful for all the kindness and generosity in the birth and motherhood community I’ve seen thus far. Here’s to hoping my streak of good luck doesn’t run out come that first contraction, eh?

Of course, here’s my Pinterest board of birth photography. It makes my uterus act up, for sure!

-Pinterest ideas for birth photography

Did you have birth photography?

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