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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#MomInFront: How I Want My Children To See Me

how do i look

If I went back far enough, there are a bunch of random photos in my family’s albums. From my grandparents’ journey from Laos to my parents raising us four kids in America, I see a lot of other people and always wondered who’s behind the camera. Why did they take it? How are they related? How were they asked? My dad took a ton of photos of my mom with us it seemed. Never posed but candid ones of us watching TV or eating together. There are even ones of just her and I get to see my mom like I may not have remembered. With all this technology in 2014, I really want to make a point to step from behind the camera and in front.

I don’t care anymore when GH rolls his eyes at me when I ask, “Can you take a picture of me?” With motherhood, I was always embarrassed yet I never had this issue in my party days because liquid courage, amirite? Today, there’s this stigma of if you love yourself then you are conceited, vain, self-centered, and unapproachable. I really am neither of those things at all and would never want my children to think that of me either. In fact, it is the complete opposite if I want myself documented along with my children. In the rare instances I think of my self care, I am more confident, happy, and easy to be around therefore my family will get a confident, happy, and easy-to-be-around mother.

Look The Part This new goal also encourages me with looking presentable. No more un-brushed teeth and/or hair and less yoga pants. (I can’t quit yoga pants.)

Walk the Walk Rather than watching my children in their own world, I instead join them and try to document that best I can. Thank god for front-facing cameras.

Role Model These kids are constantly watching and copying me so I need to be a confident show.

Judging Panel There’s a little debate on makeup in a few parenting communities and I don’t claim that community. Makeup and clothes don’t make the woman but if the woman is happy then who gives a shit?

Creep Audience Not to mention that I will do my best to deter all the internet creeps to not use photos of my kids. If Mama Bear is in it, they might not find much use of it. Nasty ass creeps.

Instead of meekly asking GH, I’m just going to say, “Take a picture of the mother of your children, you fool.” Introducing: Mom In Front.

mom in front theek

GH didn’t catch the “shadow face” memo

Who takes your pictures so you can be in front?

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Should New Niche Stay Or Should It Go?

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Your typical, average Mom Blogger.

Just within the last month, I ventured into something pretty abnormal for me. It has been lots of fun and I’m teaching myself a lot but I have been hesitant to share it because I don’t know how. Let me rephrase that: I don’t know where* to share it. GH said, “You should make a blog about it.” Wait, why can’t I make the blog about it?

I love this blog. I love it because there’s no one else doing it. It’s not big, it’s not small, it’s nothing but something to me because it is me. It’s all my ideas, experiences, and voice. I make it a point to make sure you know I’m genuine when I share something with you. I’m not here to waste my time by being somebody else I’m not. I don’t want to waste your time to read inauthentic words either. I really don’t know what type of blog I have other than that Lao blogs are very rare as is, especially with a single author with many identities that I … uh, identify with. Since I kind of already renewed the domain purchase so I got to do something here, amirite?

So, what happens if there’s something that is a separate idea? Will it stick out like a random nub on a niche blog? The new adventure I’m on isn’t necessarily All Laotian, All the Time but it’s still me. It revolves around me being a mother and how to be myself while being a mother. So… I still don’t know.

If I were to make a separate blog:
– Too much time. I’m so lazy. And so tired. Lazy, tired mom.
– (Buying) A domain. I’m already shelling out money for this here WordPress-hosted blog and it’s so little freedom as is.
– A new, fresh start on a specific niche, for once.

If I were to add it on this blog:
– It would kinda, sorta fit with the current content. I’m still that Lao mom/wife/blogger/tweeter/bitch-friend.
– It would add more unique content to my site.
– It would save me time rather than devote to two separate blogs.
– It would still leave me as an Uncategorized Blogger because my content is all over the place.

At this point, I’m really too lazy and poor to devote to an entirely separate blog. Although I really do like the idea of a fresh, new blog to chronicle this new adventure and probably more audience-pleasing versus content-driven. Also, I really want to share with you because it’s been really awkward and funny and awesome all at the same time. Hey! Kinda like this blog here.

To fellow bloggers: When do you consider to start an entire separate blog? What criteria has to be met?

To appreciated readers: What would you consider as the niche for what you read here at TheLaotianCommotion.com? Mommy, cultural, lifestyle?

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“Theek Noy” And Other Lao Names Revolving Around Me (As It Should Be)

The first time my grandfather laid eyes on Humnoy, my family’s first great-grandchild was endearingly referred to as “Theek Noy” because of a striking newborn resemblance.” If you’ve been following just recently then you know it literally means “Little Theek.” Also, if you you’ve been following since the very beginning then you’ll know Humnoy is a boy and I, myself, am not a boy. Growing up Lao, I was constantly referred to as some relation to another person. So Game of Thrones of us, right? If my Lao moniker was not used, it was always “Eldest Granddaughter of Khene” or “Eldest Daughter (That Made It To College) of Nang.” It always traced back to an original person that connected the subject of conversation to a link somewhere in the generation. Much like all the sets of parents before me, I am that start of the next generation as it freaking should be. You’ll need to understand pregnancy pain and an annoying spouse to see why.

The kids are still called “Humnoy” and “Lanoy” by close family members but sometimes that is not common knowledge to everyone who hasn’t met them so it’s just easier to call them something entirely technical and less personal. For my -noys, they are called Leuk (Ee) Theek which literally means “Child(ren) of (The Girl) Theek.” The same goes for the other important person tied into all of this: GH. How hilarious would it be if the Lao people called him Gym Hottie like y’all do? lulz. The word for “husband” in Lao is puah and since he’s clearly not Lao, he definitely has his own made-up name. A few have been a little racist albeit still technically correct. Buk Kow literally means “White Boy.” I mean, like I said, accurate.

This has been done for as long as I can remember so let’s see all the names I’ve donned over the years:
Theek Noy Bébé Theek
Leuk Mek Daughter of Mek
Leuk Gkoke (like “coke?” I think) Eldest Child
Mae Buk Hum Mother to Hum
Mae Lanoy Mother to Lanoy

As a Lao parent now, I see it. I see how and why it’s been done this way. I see how it makes much more sense to connect a couple generations in a single conversation. What better and more honorable way to pay tribute to your parents than be forever known as their child? If you’d like to be associated with them, that is. I really feel Westerosian though now that I’ve sat and explained this because I had never ever sat and explained this. I am mama to my babies and my babies are from to their mama. Here are my Theek Noys:

20140518-021815.jpg theek and noys theek noy noys husband of theek

*POP QUIZ* What would GH’s title be as my husband?

Lao Motherhood Across The Years, Generations, and Oceans

Now you all know how I got here in the first place: Humnoy was born and all I could think was to do the absolute best to maintain my culture for him so that began this blog. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’d really even care about breastfeeding or elimination communication if it had not been my entire existence in the first place. If it were not for my mother and for my mother’s mother, I literally would not be here today. I would not be the woman, the (shitty) wife, the mother, the friend I claim to be today. Just peep my grandmother’s prop in the slideshow below and you’ll know why I’m much more alike than different than a refugee matriarch. Even if it weren’t for that Laotian Village that is woven into my culture’s sense of community, I still wouldn’t be half of those identities.

I am fiercely proud of being a Laotian mother only because I’m trying to make my truest inspiration, the Original Laotian Mama, proud as if she could still see me being a mama if she were alive today. My Mae Tao raised and transitioned four living children from a war-torn country to America. My own Mae not only had to adjust to a whole new culture but also birth and be a parent in this entire new culture. I would just like to say I ain’t shit compared to The Original Laotian Mamas:

1979: The year the first living grandchild was born to my aunt in a refugee camp and also the year my family traveled to America.

1986: The year the first American-born grandchild was born. Moi!

1987 – 1993: In just 5 more years, my mother had three more American-born children, including one with special needs.

2000-2007: I am a rebellious and free-spirited teenager and my mother does not know what to do with me.

2008: My mother cleans toilets to put me through college.

2009: My Mae Tao suddenly passes away.

2010: I am unknowingly pregnant the same week I graduated college with the first great-grandchild just nine months after my grandmother’s death.

2013: I am a mother to two under two.

2014: I survived being a mother to two because of the Original Laotian Mamas.

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Happy Mothers Day to you and your Original Mamas!

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?

Pii Mai Lao 2014 With The Laotian Commotion Family

As much as I hate visiting my family, the food and reasons we usually get together make
up for all the crazy Lao-ness. Pii Mai Lao 2014 was an obligatory event where I must exploit my children to such culture so off we went for the entire weekend. It will forever be something that will be a tradition no matter the hassle and no matter the unworthiness of the time and energy. This year was just as nuts and we didn’t even get to do a water fight.

Now that I’m rocking the Two Toddlers At A Time life, it’s even more Lao’d and crazy. Throw in even more Lao’der and crazier family members and I am ready to drive five hours back home. The festivities were pretty timid on Saturday and we were exhausted just from the day and I’m not talking about going to the Wat (Lao Buddhist temple). My family is just e x h a u s t i n g. So, we drove five hours just to go to the Wat and eat overpriced Laotian pho. It was a stark contrast to the first few years of Lao New Year.

Lao new year 2011 humnoy

Pii Mai Lao 2011 was Humnoy’s very first New Year. He was barely a month old and I drove my crazy postpartum ass down there just to start this tradition to be a part of my cultural renewal process for my mixed family. It’s that important to me and I have done so ever since. I did it the following year when Humnoy toddled and danced around. The next year was when our family added a new member to celebrate the New Year. Lanoy was a little older than Humnoy was at his first Pii Mai.

This year. . . This year was nucking futs. Have you ever had to disarm wide-eyed destructo-ddlers from touching Buddhist relics? Well, it’s not only embarrassing but pretty fucking low key damning. Lao people love money and Lao New Year is no exception. Money is blessed and then donated to the Wat, monks and, in turn, the community’s only religious mainstay. You know who else loves money? Lao toddlers so they can try to rip it because paper. Please do check out GH as the Token White Guy Getting Buddhist Blessings.

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I love it all though. Lao’d and crazy and all. It’s the perfect and most annoying excuse to be with family. Lao New Year is all about family to me especially now with my own and I’m just going to continue on the crazy train.

Sabaidee Pii Mai, y’all. Sa. BAI. Dee.

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Does your family drive you Lao’d and crazy too?

Motherhood Myth #618: You Won’t Be Needing Your Young and Hot Wardrobe Anymore

all my outfits
Nearing the Danger Zone to pop out my first child, my nesting included prepping clothes for the pending child soon to take over my life for the next many years. I washed, prepped, folded (ha!), and organized all the tiny little articles of clothing for Humnoy. Nesting is the phenomenon of pregnancy where your body jolts you into severe prep mode. Not just for the baby but for myself too. All my life I noted how pregnancy forever changes your body so you know what I did? Crying whilst I got rid of all my tiny clothing as a 24-year-old mother-to-be fresh out of college because I’m gonna be forever pregnant, right?

Humnoy is born and I’m a mother. A tired and exclusively breastfeeding mother. Not anyone– no one told me the toll breastfeeding would take on me. Actually, it’s because I did not have anyone in my life that told me about breastfeeding. As an American-born, Laotian, I saw zero breastfeeding in my community. Sadly, the refugee generation was subjected to the medical model of parenting and we all know that’s not very child-friendly. So, essentially nobody told me nothing about nothing. Everything I learned, I did by instinct and the Interwebs. This particular group of nobodies definitely did not tell me about the physical toll breastfeeding takes on your body.

Just the other day, I was coming home from work and GH pointed out something about my body that not only embarrassed me but made me angry all over again. Well, not my actual body but how my body does not fit my clothing well: my work pants were so ill-fitting that it took my husband, The Man Who Surface Cleans And Calls It Good, to notice. I no longer could fill out my work pants that I’ve had since college, which is also the last time I went clothes shopping. I eat like a caveman and have been breastfeeding straight through for the last three years. It’s gotta be that, right? Do I have tapeworm?

Anyway, my point is this: Don’t throw out all your clothing and budget some money to buy brand new clothing so you don’t look like you are wearing your husband’s pants. Also, breastfeeding does fickle shit to your boobs so plan to buy tops and good nursing bras from said budget. Plus side, I got to go shopping for <emmyself in many, many years. I don’t even know what’s hip or hot anymore but I tried my best and got to finally have some flattering clothing for once. #Breastfeedingfriendly, of course.

*stay tuned for all the pants that I could fill out in tomorrow’s post* Go to the blog sidebar and click ‘FOLLOW’ so the blog is sent straight to your inbox 💋 breastfeeding extreme weight loss

Are skinny jeans still hip to the hop? What about ones with faux zipper pockets?

Back-to-Back-to-Not-Back Pregnancies

23 months apart siblings.jpg According to a fancy website, my date of conception was anywhere between June 16-24th and second time around was May 11 to May 19 and … in 2012 when I was the mother to just the first conception baby. Yesterday, Lanoy the Second Conception turned 14 months old and I remembered that she is the same exact age as her older brother when we got surprise pregnant (again). Humnoy was just closing in on his 14th month of life when Bébé #2 was conceived. Whoops. We were in the middle of moving to the other side of the Cascades to Seattle from Spokane so clearly were pretty ahem excited for all this change. I mean, we wanted change and we sure got it. She was born February 5th, 2014 in a place where we had only been for less than two years.

Life has been much easier now that La has been a wee more independent with my working. Humnoy and Lanoy are more engaging with each other. For us, ‘engaging’ ranges anywhere from sharing snacks to tolerating each other long enough so I can go poop. Given the past dozen months of fun sibling love and reliving all the best newly-toddler moments, I’m still not trying to repeat no back-to-back pregnancy again. Hell no. It was so hard. It is worth it but so. damn. hard. So, for sake of known patterns of fertility I’m congratulating myself for not getting pregnant again at this time. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Happy Sunday. Oh, and happy belated monthday, Lanoy.

Are you able to pinpoint when you conceived?

Pii Mai Lao, No Twitter Lao

laotian meme

It’s that time again. I get drunk and I want to wipe my existence off social media again but good news, I’m not drunk (why not, right?) but do I want to wipe my face off of social media again? I’m back on Instagram but still am very uninspired from that so I’m still figuring that out. Still no Facebook because fuck Facebook. Then there’s Twitter. Oh, Twitter. Now that IG is on my shitlist, Twitter is my favorite form of #socmed because I learn a lot and I laugh even more. There are so many clever, hilarious, and very smart people #onthere from (literally) all walks of life. I’m not joking, look at my list of followings and you’ll see a variety of parents, activists, and more cool Lao people I did not know existed. It has ignited the activism bone that I always had but never knew how to express. Seriously, Twitter is awesome.

It is so awesome that I want to be a better twit …. terer. Sometimes I really think it’s great to walk away from something you love so you can step back and love it even more. Now that April is here, I have that excuse more now. April is the month of Pii Mai Lao (Lao New YearApril 13ish-15ish), which is arguably the biggest celebration of the year for Laotians, and I guess this would be the exact equivalent of “out with the old, in with the new” sentiment. Water is a huge symbol in celebrating Pii Mai so, for the month of April, I’m dousing the shit out of my twitter to take a hiatus from my favorite platform.

That’s where I feel guilty: the Lao online community is already so limited that I feel like I am removing another unknown perspective. I’m quite possibly many people’s only source to a Lao-American perspective in modern parenting, interracial marriage, refugee experiences, public education, and anything else you didn’t know Lao Americans were a part of. As sad as I am to leave this month, I know you’ll be in good hands. To follow the Lao Twitter experience while I’m gone, please check out @thaoworra‘s Lao Voices and Nicky Chaleunphone‘s Lao Community for fellow Laotians online.

If you want a visual reminder then my Instagram can showcase the Lao American experience in a few filters. If you need more details with lots of frilly word vomit, my blog has that tiny little unknown Lao voice so you won’t ever have to say, “No, I don’t know a Lao girl who writes about motherhood, marriage, and the world around her. Never. Nope.” because you’s a liar since I’m still here.

Am I the only Lao person you ‘know?’ Online or otherwise?

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