28 February 2009

I Dream of France photoshoot

I am as pleased as Punch (but without any of the violence) to be able to offer my photos to the I Dream of France catalog. Here are a few detailed shots of some of the items offered:
IDoF shoot 2

And here are a few of the photos of A2 modeling an outfit:
IDoF shoot

There were a few outtakes. I think A2 is doing the obligatory lifting of the shirt to show you his six-pack, as any self-respecting male model would do.
IDoF outtake 1

That's quite a nostril flare.
IDoF outtake 2

The proper way to end a photo session: plop yourself down onto the concrete and look really sad.
IDoF outtake 3

26 February 2009


There was a time when I imagined this would be a place to post about my craft and sewing projects. That time has passed.


I think photography works so well because it's something I can do with the kids, whereas it's not possible to sew unless I'm away from them. And I'm not really in the mindset of wanting to be away from my kids, you know?

25 February 2009

New habits die hard

I took this photo about two or three days after I started using my dSLR for the very first time. And while it's impolite to toot my own horn, I have to admit that I rather enjoy this image from my earliest moments as an avid amateur. Baby is perfectly content and mama is jubilant (I was just introducing her to wrapping). Plus, I hand dyed that hemp/cotton stretch wrap and then painted the shimmery metallic swirls as a center marker. It's olive green for the colorblind among us. ;)
first attempts

Over time, it seems like I've settled into a bit of a rut. I have quite an obsession with babies looking directly at the camera and mamas looking directly at said babies. I honestly didn't know that I had such a leaning until I went through my past photos to find a few to post on my Facebook page.
later attempts 1
later attempts 2
later attempts 3
later attempts 6

I've posted these two photos before, but I thought I'd show them again since they so keenly demonstrate my complete lack of originality emerging aesthetic style.
later attempts 4
later attempts 5

24 February 2009


What kind of brazen megalomaniac quotes herself? The kind who's too tired to generate new content, that's who.

My apologies to those who have previously read this note on my Facebook profile:

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people, then click publish.)

1. I've been tagged 9 times and have ignored it thus far because I already feel like I talk about myself a lot. A whole lot! I don't know that I can come up with new and exciting tidbits because my life is as exciting as plain oatmeal. Plus, I hate tagging other people because it feels like such an imposition and I really, really don't want to be a burden on anyone. That's why I tend not to complete those email chain letters either. So I'm adding those who tagged me (so you can see that I actually followed through!) and few folks who might like to read this...but please don't take it as a request to compose your own 25 Things list...unless you want to. In which case, I'd love to read your list!

2. Brevity is overrated. Why be succinct when you can go on and on and on. And on.

3. I'm pretty out of sync with popular culture. I have never texted before and will probably never text in the future. I've also been inside of a Starbucks only once in my life. It was for a job interview; I didn't take the job. I mean, who meets potential employees at a Starbucks? That's just weird. And I don't have a TV in the house, but that's common knowledge because I like to tell anyone who's willing to listen. And maybe a few folks who aren't so willing to listen. But then I think that maybe I'm imposing too much. Are you sensing a theme?

4. I am pathologically prompt. In fact, I'm often early. I have absolutely no problems when others might show up late--you just never know with kids, traffic, or other mishaps. But if someone is pathologically tardy, that just drives me batty. I mean, if you're ALWAYS 20 minutes late, then start 20 earlier and you'll end up on time. It's just the courteous thing to do.

But I'm Asian and tardiness is a way of life in my extended family. It's called Rubberband Time because it stretches, twists, and contorts. I don't know how to reconcile the discrepancy between the reality of my life and my personal feelings.

Oh, and that potential employer who set the meeting place at Starbucks? He was half an hour late.

5. I had a foster sister whom my parents intended to adopt but then she turned 18 and instead, we just regarded her as a family member without the legalities. This must be some kind of Third World remnant because my grandparents did the same thing with a woman who is my mother's "older sister".

6. I was never a fan of cheese or chocolate until my 1st pregnancy. They used to make me sick--I couldn't even swallow. Um...that's not so much the case now.

7. I had a pet rat in college whom I adored. When he passed, I got another rat. But I never loved the second one as much. I've always felt guilty about that.

8. If I count all the sips of champagne from weddings and all the liquor that I've added to my cooking/baking, I would probably total about 10 servings of alcohol my whole life. I don't have any moral stance again drinking, I just never acquired a taste for it.

9. I don't talk too much about politics so many people don't know that I'm fairly conservative in many ways.

10. I love to write and take pride in my written work. I love words in general. I used to read the dictionary as a kid and occasionally still do so online. But I'm sort of a Grammar Nazi. Which is odd. Because I always have incomplete sentences. Like this.

11. In this world, people are generally categorized as cat people or dog people. I am a dog person. Cats are usually so independent and aloof. Who needs those qualities in a pet? They're supposed to be adoring and faithful. And frolic. Okay, so maybe kittens do frolic...but then they grow out of it.

12. I have a long history of failure when it comes to musical instruments. I never practiced piano as a child so I never got good at it. I started dating my guitar instructor so that was the end of that. I got too involved with school to keep up with the zither. But I console myself with the knowledge that I can play Mary Had A Little Lamb on the flute, cello, and harmonica. And kazoo.

13. Wowsers. Halfway point and I'm already having such a hard time digging up stuff.

I got my ears pierced when I was a baby--in the hospital right after my mother delivered me! But it's totally wasted since I rarely wear earrings. Or makeup. I really don't exert a lot of effort toward my physical appearance. Hm...maybe this is why I'm on time everywhere I go.

14. Most folks know I love 80s music but don't know that I love the Eagles. I have all their songs/albums and all the sheet music as well. I'm not sure why, given Random Thing #12.

15. I'm kind of a sucker up against peer pressure. I fold pretty easily. Take this list of 25 Random Things, for example. I wasn't intending to do it all, thank you very much, Wendy. :)

16. I've always had the need to brush my teeth before bedtime. Sometimes I've accidentally fallen asleep only to wake myself up and drag my groggy self to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

17. Speaking of sleep, I fall in and out of it a flash. I could be mid-conversation, mid-sentence even, and zonk out. And if you were to call me at 3 am (not that I'd pick up at this point in my life because we don't have a phone in the house and I never carry my cell with me), I would answer all bright and perky as if I'd been up for hours.

18. I get horribly nervous in novel social situations, like when I'm first meeting someone. With age and practice, I've gotten better at masking it, but I'm still all knotted up inside. This is not true in professional situations where I'm meeting a patient for the first time. I feel completely comfortable there.

19. Since we're on the topic of professional situations, I might as well add that I love neurotic people. At my last job, we would sit at our staff meetings and assign new cases and I would always jump at the ones with Personality Disorders attached. Not that I had to jump that high to be noticed...these aren't exactly the cases for which clinicians are clamoring. But there's something so rewarding about finding a way to like an unlikeable person--and getting them to like themselves as well. There is the added bonus that I'm strangely calm in the face of Borderline tendencies.

20. I feel like my 25 Random Things list has gone astray that makes me self-conscious because I have a need to entertain and please others. Again, only in social settings, not professional ones. You know, that's probably part of why I miss working (not that I would willingly give up my time with my kids). I was always on much surer footing in the therapy room than I am in my own life. I probably shouldn't admit that.

21. I love taking pictures. Okay, okay. That's not exactly news. But I'm on #21. Gimme a break!

22. I applied to only one college because I just knew it was where I wanted to go. When I didn't hear from them, I got nervous and called. It turns out that my paperwork was considered incomplete because it was mistakenly filed under 2 different names (my middle name, Nguyen, is a common last name and is, in fact, my mother's surname). They convened a meeting to assess my file for admission. Looking back, the possibility of my not starting undergrad right after high school is startling and terrifying. Seriously, would it have been much effort to apply to Riverside as a backup? (My deepest apologies to those whose alma mater is UCR for that ridiculous insult!)

23. Since we're on the topic of last names, I'll mention that my husband and I share the same one. It was his idea. He gets calls from professional Asian societies looking for speakers or offering membership. I tell him that he should take them up on it and then stroll on in to their get-togethers just to see their reactions.

24. My pinky is abnormally small relative to the rest of my hand. I share this trait with my mother's side of the family...and my younger son. I sometimes attribute my musical failure to my pinkies though the real defect is probably in my ears. That and not having the diligence to practice.

25. It took forever for me to join FB, and even after I did, my profile just sat there since I mostly came here to play Scrabble (remember the "exciting as plain oatmeal" thing?), but I'm really glad I got more involved because I got to reconnect with someone who is so dear to me that it's unfathomable how we got disconnected in the first place. You know who you are! ;) So to my new and old friends alike, thanks for reading this lengthy, egocentric journey of mine.

Oh, and I know you're shocked, but I'm going to sneak in a few photos of the boys playing with their lightsabers.

22 February 2009

365 Photography Project, Week 5

This week, I present 7 wholly uninspired, shoulder-shrugging, sigh-inducing images. Next week, I'm going back to snapping what grabs me instead of forcing a theme.

29 of 365: The house is in serious need of an exterior paint job.
29 of 365

30 of 365: When A1 received this wagon for his 1st birthday, I couldn't have imagined that he would be pulling his little brother in it within just a few years.
30 of 365

31 of 365: "Soccer Mom" is often used in a derogatory fashion. I take it as a compliment. And a high compliment at that.
31 of 365

32 of 365: I wasn't in love with the photos in the first part of this week (I suck at photographing inanimate objects because I can't connect to them) so I went back to what I know, namely plant photos. At least I stuck with the self-imposed color theme of the week. What the heck is going with the surreal lighting in this shot?
32 of 365

33 of 365: Unripened loquat; okay, I sorta like this picture. I usually use the aperture-priority setting so that I can control f-stop & ISO, allowing the camera to set the shutter speed, but I wasn't getting the exposure I wanted so I went fully manual here. It's my goal to go fully manual some day. Some day.
33 of 365

34 of 365: Mushrooms on the counter. That is all.
34 of 365

35 of 365: This is my sad, desperate violet offering. It's the boys' parachute toy. Wow, I gotta say, I'm pretty displeased with this week's pictures.
35 of 365

21 February 2009

San Diego Zoo

I have become an unrepentant light snob; I can't stand taking photos when there's no open shade. As a result, there are very few pictures of our otherwise wonderful trip to the San Diego Zoo today.

First, I made the boys sit in direct sun:

Then I took virtually no photos of them except for when they sat on some bizarre aluminum bear.

We were actually there to meet one of James's dear childhood friends from New York. All three of her children were sweet, funny, and very well-behaved!

I think A2 had a little thing for the girl.

Can you blame him? Just look at all that cuteness!

Oh, and I suppose there were animals there too. Actually, it was an amazing and educational adventure, so don't let my single animal photo fool you.

And there was also a sky gondola ride which scared the pants off of me.
As seen above, the Kramers (and their nanny whose name I've completed spaced) didn't mind it one bit--they actually enjoyed dangling precariously mid-air as such. I believe I was the only one who characterized the trip across the sky as a terrifying nightmare.

20 February 2009

Peanut butter, this town ain't big enough for the two of us

There are a few dishes that I always make from scratch because they fulfill my criteria of quick, cheap, and easy. Among these items are pancake and waffle batter, fruit compote, and whipped cream.

Hummus will now join the ranks. But next time, I just might follow an actual recipe because I was rather heavy-handed with the tahini. It was so nutty in flavor that I had no choice but to make hummus and jelly sandwiches. Yes, I'm one of those mothers who cuts sandwiches into shapes. And yes, that IS a toddler-sized bite stolen from one of those perfect rounds!
hummus & jelly

Golly gee, I'm out of content again. I'd better post some pics of the boys! ;)
A1 1
A1 2
leaf face


I often catch A2 mid-sentence these days.
mid-sentence 1
mid-sentence 2

This is a pretty serious look for someone whose head sports more fuzz than hair.
intense A2

19 February 2009

Brief Q&A

I will paraphrase:

Q: Jennifer challenges, "Bi-yatch, you be lie-telling cuz there ain't no way you take 10 minutes to write each post."
A: Well, technically, you're right Jennifer. But I do have a stockpile of pre-edited (cropped, sized, etc.) photos that I can immediately upload if they are germane to any given entry. Also, I tend to work in 10-minute increments--often on a few posts at a time. On many occasions, I finish multiple posts simultaneously so I space out their (automated) publication. And Jennifer, why do you talk like a gangsta? Maybe it's because you were hardened by all those years of having to defend your yummy yummy delish cream cheese/lemon curd elixir of the gods. Ooh, that sounds good!

Q: Linda wonders, "It's not like I've heard you call them A1 and A2 in real life. Why bother to call them that here?"
A: I once read that it's dangerous to personalize children's backpacks with their names--I mean that in the large and glaringly obvious way (versus small print on the inside). A stranger can call out that name and pretend to be someone who is familiar to the child and...well, you can only imagine the rest of the potentially horrifying story. A1's given name and A2's nickname are both uncommon and if someone called them out, the boys would certainly assume familiarity.

Q: Ivan observes, "Taking pictures compromises the present experience of a moment!"
A: Initially, the camera did get in the way, but I've found that in the past few months, it's less and less of a contrivance and more and more a part of me. The photography is a distillation of my total experience into small relevant pieces--pieces that I might have otherwise missed if I weren't forced to focus on them (literally!) through the lens. I once heard that a camera is a mirror with a memory, and I totally agree. When I post a photo, it shows others not what I see, but how I feel about what I see; it really is a reflection of myself and what is important to me at any given moment (Heh, who loves expository text?). That's probably why I have a gazillion photos of the boys.

Speaking of photos of the boys (smooth segue, eh?), here are a few recent ones. This is A2 just waking up from a nap. You can see my laptop at the bottom of this first photo...I was probably either blogging or Facebooking while he was sleeping!
waking up 1
waking up 2
waking up 3
waking up 4

I used to love perfectly focused photos of the kids, centered in the frame and smiling at the camera. Because the kids rarely offer that view, I have learned to take and enjoy what I can get. And in the process, I am capturing much more of who they are.
silly guy 1
silly guy 2
silly guy 3
silly guy 4