One of my goals for 2018 is to learn new techniques, improve myself in photography.  With recommendations from a group of friends, I joined in this journey with P52clicks.  It is a community where photographers all over the world encourage each other to learn

12-months • 12-techniques • 1-photo a week • 52-opportunities for growth • for the everyday photographer • a new year, a new artist.

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Reflect…..

What is the definition of reflect?


To think, ponder or meditate quietly or calmly about…{something}.
To self-reflect is to examine one’s past, present and a look into the future.

Quite often, I reflect on the paths I have taken, where I am and where I want to be.  I have experienced hurts, pains, disappointments, betrayal but as equally I have received immeasurable love, support, and blessings from my family and friends especially of my husband for 11 years and my 4 blessings blooming.  The scars have shaped me, the hurt and pain have strengthened me and the blessings have pulled me through and through during my darkness and miseries.  God has graced me much more than I deserve to have such a beautiful growing family with a business that I’m inspired to grow one day at a time.  I have overcome many hurdles along my photography journey to get where I am.  I’m learning and pushing forward no matter what.  I know that there are people who believe in me, believe in what I do and so I’m focusing my energy on learning and creating beautiful images, and bringing beautiful piece of art and heirloom into homes and families.

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This year, I made a promise to myself to bring balance into my daily life.  Here are a few things that I am doing:

Personal Goals

  1. Read and reflect a bible verse each day
  2. Take care of myself so that I can take care of others especially my husband and my 4 children by exercising at least every other day, eat well and make myself look presentable at all time.
  3. Choose joy no matter what and always know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  4. Volunteer and do community service
  5. Develop professionally by keep on learning so I can grow my business and genuinely network with people.
  6. Let live and let it go
  7. Go out and meet with others
  8. Put myself out there and not be afraid of judgement.
  9. Enjoy beautiful things, sing a little, dance a little, laugh out loud and cry a little if I must.
  10. Last but not least, appreciate myself knowing that I DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Professional goals:

  1. Attend at least one photography state/national conference
  2. Complete my 365 days project (a photo a day) to push my boundaries and go out of my comfort zone.
  3. Document once a month my family via video using different techniques, post it on youtube and sending it out to critique via circle of friends, check out my January 2018 Video 
  4. Participate in monthly blog circle
  5. Participate in insta loops
  6. Lead a photography project
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This photo is courtesy of Jojo, my oldest son.

Thank you for visiting my blog, I’m excited to be writing and photographing about “REFLECT”  with a group of talented photographers as part of the blog circle of “Project Something Beautiful.”  My feature photo was captured using double exposure, and the last one was captured with a technique called freelense.  Check out Britney Wharton Photography for per piece on REFLECT.  See you next month

“THE FOUR HEAVENLY FOUNTAINS
Laugh, I tell you

And you will turn back

The hands of time.

Smile, I tell you
And you will reflect
The face of the divine.

Sing, I tell you
And all the angels will sing with you!

Cry, I tell you
And the reflections found in your pool of tears
Will remind you of the lessons of today and yesterday
To guide you through the fears of tomorrow.”

– Suzy Kassem –

 

2018 January

January Photo Gallery

I challenge myself to do a photo a day then published it in this gallery.  I have different prompts every day or at least every week so that I can get familiar with different techniques.

This month’s prompts: lowlight, freelensing, rule of third, compassion, lights and shadow, in the frame, self-portrait, teaching & learning together, brothers, out of focus, morning snuggle, step by step, celebration, season – winter theme, backlight, curiosity, negative space, what I see, imagination, bath time, play time, run away, reflect, double exposure.  So far my most favorites were lowlight, freelensing, teaching and learning, and double exposure.  Double exposure, lowlight were very challenging, freelensing is quite difficult too but I’m getting the hang of it.

Continue reading “2018 January”

Our family secrets of summer fun in Houston

June is the beginning of summer in Texas.  Most of the school is out by June and summer activities began.   By all mean, I’m not an expert for summer fun.  I’m only doing this to give my kids some childhood memories, teach them how to care for others and just simply enjoy being a kid.  I hope our activities will give you some ideas to do with your kids.  Please do share what you do with your kids in the summer so we can learn and maybe do it in the next summer.  We still have two more months to go.  This is only June activities, I have so much more but I will save it for the end of the summer to compile all of our summer activities.

1- Involve in at least one sport event:

This year both of my older kids were involved in the summer swimming league so most of my Saturday is consumed around swimming meets until 3rd week of June.  They enjoyed swimming, meeting new friends, hanging out with old friends, school friends and just have fun all together.

20160506- IMG_7223 Swimming Team Summer 2016

2- Visit Hospitals especially children hospitals:

Early part June, we decided to go visit some folks in the hospital, the first person we met was Ashley Johnson.  She’s currently going to school in California and came home for the summer.  You can follow Ashley’s Journey here on instagram, Ashley’s Instagram.  She’s a very sweet young girl.  In our conversation, we found out that Ashley was also a swimmer who got the chance to see Michael Phelps when she was little.   She’s also a friend with our team coach so the kids actually enjoyed talking to her. This is something we will be doing throughout the summer after our summer road trip.  20160607-IMG_0489 Jonah Jaden Ashley Johnson

3-Enjoy nature: 

There are so many things and places are free around you.  Take a stroll around your neighborhood in the afternoon/early evening.  Let the kids go outside and shout out to natures.  It is healthy for them, it is good for them to appreciate little things in their life.

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4- Some electronic time:

Although I’m not big with electronics, I would like to give them some electronic time so they can let loose and enjoy their own time, connect with friends from afar.20160529-IMG_9960 ThaiBinh

5. Library trips:

Go to the library, check out some books.  Let them open their mind with some imagination through readings.  The libraries usually have reading list recommended for all ages, you can find all kind of books for them to read during the summer.20160616-IMG_1502 VBS Decoration day

6- Volunteer:

Volunteer and involve in the community organizations, whether it is at church, nursing homes or at any food bank or anywhere that you are comfortable.  That’s when you get to meet people (interesting people), people from far away, people that you might never meet otherwise.  Open up their minds with the reality of world that there’s so much more than what they see.  This year we got to meet a young man who has traveled to US from France.  He’s one of the leaders for Vacation Bible School for our second baby.  A very nice caring young man.  20160623-IMG_1850 VBS 2016 at CTR B&W

 

I hope your family will have a fun and safe summer.

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Father’s Day – A special note to my partner in crime

To my children’s dad,

You are one of a kind.  I’m glad to have met you and together we created a family with three children.  Our kids are the most luckiest because they have the best dad in the whole wide world (I might be biased a little here but what can I say?)  The children adore you.  You have been there since day one and I have no doubt that you will continue to be this way with them even when they are older.  You show kindness, love, care and patience in everything that you do in our day to day.  I’m lucky to have a partner who’s as compatible or even more than me so we can share duties, love and laughters.

Today I have decided to document these special moments as a dedication for you as a dad. I love you to the moon and back and I’m sure our children do as well.

We started the day with our traditional breakfast in bed for all special occasions, this was more special with the assistance of our eldest.  He woke up early so he could help preparing this special meal for dad.  Then we headed out for church.  After church we were supposed to have lunch but spontaenousely we decided that it’s a “junky” day for dad so we broke all rules and got snacks instead.  Then we headed to our uncle’s house for a party to celebrate dad.

At the end of the day, he granted them “special visas” to sleep in our bed too… Now I’m re-thinking what I said earlier about… ^_^

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Our oldest woke up early to make special scrambled egg
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Our 2nd son and little daughter kept an eye on dad, making sure he didn’t wake up until it was time.
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He later admitted that the bacon smell woke him up 🙂
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Yes, corn was served for breakfast, one of his favorites.
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Then he had to share lol
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Everyone loved daddy’s breakfast.
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everything was gone in a matter of minutes except for the coffee, they all know they can’t have that just yet.
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Baby girl said she wanted a picture with Papa.
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Daddy walked in while she was putting her shoes on.
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Guess who helped putting it on for her?
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Then who else helped brush her hair?
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We are ready for our day.
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What mama saw and prayed for.
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Papa received a special blessing.  Her face though, I didn’t see it until I processed the photo
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walking hands in hands
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Baby girl shared her portion with Papa
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Papa is collecting his dues from the other two ^_^
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Papa enjoyed his special treats ^_^
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Yum yum!
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Oh yeah!

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What’s so funny Papa?
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He’s a wonderful son as well, not so much through words but through his actions.
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winding down for the day, when they announced their special visas to take over my bed hmmm!!!
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The day is done.

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Life as it is…

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This month on the blog for “6 on the 6th blog circle“, I’m writing about a man that I happened to run into.  After you are done reading my blog, please check out LoveMammarazzi to see what she’s sharing today on this blog circle.

On May 19, 2016, after meeting with a friend for lunch, I was in a hurry trying to get home in time for the kiddos to be home from the school.  It was pouring outside.  As I was entering the freeway, I noticed a man with plastic bag over his head trying to run but I could tell he wasn’t strong enough to make a quick run for such rain.  I slowed down, rolled down the window.  I was going to give him my umbrella but when I saw his face with a big smile, I immediately knew that I had to give the man a lift.  I asked where he lives and he said it was just down the street, the man pointed ahead saying it’s only a few blocks away and that he’s fine just walking.  I told him to hop in and I’ll give him a lift home.  He introduced himself as “Jose”.  I asked who he lives with and he said “nobody”.  He said that he’s staying in the shed with a family and that he has no family.  He finds jobs here and there to make a living and that he took the boat, the train and car to get to Texas.  He always had a smile on his face.  He asked what is it that I do.  I told him that I’m a photographer.  He asked me if I could take some pictures for him, then he said not right away because it is raining right now.  When I got to where he stayed, I asked him if I could take a few photos of him and where he lived, he was excited about that.  As soon as I saw where he lived, this overwhelming feeling came over me.  It’s truly not a living condition.  Although his living condition isn’t ideal, Jose always showed a great smile on his face.  He told me that nobody ever took pictures of him.  He never had any pictures taken when he was a little child either.  Even with the rain pouring down, he offered to walk me to the car.  I told him not to worry about me, I can get to the car by myself.  Jose’s living condition reminds me of how fortunate my life is.  I sometimes complain about little things that do not go my way and they are not even that important after seeing him.   He’s a pure example of “happiness is within,” it is not materialistic, it is something that you must recognize and that even under the worst circumstances, happiness can be found.  Jose, it was my honor to meet you and for gifting me a valuable lesson in life.

 

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Day in the life – Self Documentary Portaits

So it finally happens.  Today was the last day of school.  I have been excited but worried at the same time.  I’m excited to get to spend the time and make memories with my little loves.  I’m worried that I don’t have enough things for the kiddos to do or keeping those growing brains busy enough but I’m leaving it up to the guy upstairs to help me having a great summer with the little kiddos and the family when we have our road trip.  Inspired by the idea of documenting “day in the life” by some friends in the Clickinfriends, I’ve decided to use this day to document what’s going on in our life.  This is not only for me but it’s also for the kiddos to see years later.  The difficult part of this challenge is to be in the frame at every photo.

The past year has been great for both school kids, they start to find their own interest and what sparks their little growing brains.  As a mother, each day away from them is a day of many worries but I place my worries in the hands of the Creator because there’s nothing I can control.  I can only control what I’m teaching my children.  Before sending the boys off to school, I try to remind them of the following hoping, praying that when they grow up, they will become useful individuals for their own family and for the society as a whole: “My sons, remember: always listen and respect your teachers (and any adults). Help your friends especially those who are not as fortunate as you. Treat others just like how you want to be treated. Study hard so you can play hard. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. Love your youth because it only comes once. Watch your surroundings, pay attention to strange signs and strangers who you feel not belonging. Always say sorry, thank you and please. Be ready to forgive at any given time. Life is too short to hold grudges or let sadness take over your life. Always have the desire to learn new things, to meet new people and to make new friends. Remember that it’s important to have happiness but it’s even more important to bring happiness to others because ultimately that happiness will come back to you ten folds. Eat ice cream, read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, enjoy simple things in life. One thing I’m still learning is to listen, learn to listen before you get to my age. Treat elders with grace, passion and respect because you will be old one day too.  Always treat the ladies right because like your mom, they bore and gave births as well.  Remember to pray and count your blessings everyday. I will Pray for your safety and protection from God Almighty.”

Overall it was a great day.  Other than the usual happenings everyday, I was at the school with the kiddos for their end of the year parties, I visited my mama and was reminded how spoiled I am.  She made me green mustard kimchi, my most favorite and barely mentioned it at family gathering on memorial day that I was having a craving for it.  A few days later, here it is.  We celebrated end of the year as a family, the kids got rewarded for doing well in school.  Because it was raining, there were a few photos were taken with my phone.  I’m a little (just a little) disappointed that my bus stop surprise was not as good as I planned because of the rain.  I wanted to spray the kids with crazy strings when they got off the bus but it started raining so I squirted a few, grabbed the camera, the umbrella to hurry home so the kids and the camera do not get wet – well the camera mostly because the kids really they could play in the rain ^_^.  I’m glad to have had this challenge and had so much fun doing it although it was a bit tiring.  The picture of me hugging my husband at the end of the day was just how I felt.  I wanted. to. crash!  My most favorite photo was when the kiddos pulled out my oldest’s first year album and started admiring the places he got to go, things he did.  We had a good time looking through the photos with a few good good giggles.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Summer is officially here, we would like to wish you and your family a great summer, safe travels and make great memories with the ones you love!

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Bluebonnets of Texas

The updates of bluebonnets locations are at the end of this post.


So what’s the big thing in Texas during late March and the month of April?  Bluebonnets!!!

Bluebonnets (AKA Lupinus subcarnosus) are wild flowers which only grow in Texas.  As historian Jack Maguire put it “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat.”  He also affirmed “The bluebonnet to Texas is what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”  Although it’s been told that it is illegal to pick the bluebonnets in Texas, it isn’t.  On March 7th, 1901 the Twenty-seventh Texas Legislature adopted the bluebonnet as the state flower.  In 1930s, the Texas Highway department began a landscaping and beautification program and due to this program’s efforts that the bluebonnets now grow along most major highways throughout the state extended all the way to Mexico.

Another flower that blooms at the same time with bluebonnets and compliment them so well is Indian Paintbrush (AKA Castilleja indivisa).  You can find these two flowers either grow blending amongst each other or in separate fields.  The vibrant orange color of Idian Paintbrush and the blue/white of bluebonnets make the drive in Texas beautiful during March and April.

While visiting the field of Bluebonnets, please keep in mind not to destroy these beautiful delicacies, many stories go around the bluebonnets and a lot of them are unpleasant.  A few things to keep in mind:

1- Do not pick or step on the bluebonnets: Some said it is illegal to pick the bluebonnets (however it isn’t) but it is also a nice courtesy to allow others enjoy the bit of nature in the beautiful spring of Texas who come after you.  It’s not first come first serve, it is let us all enjoy what nature provides us.

2- Do not trespass people’s private property: Jumping over someone’s fence is trespassing and IT IS ILLEGAL.  Please respect people’s wishes.  It is their private property, it is their bluebonnets they grow.  Having bluebonnets in their private property doesn’t warrant you access into their backyard/frontyard.

3- Be Safe: I have seen people just stop along the state highways or interstates so they can take out all of their kids for photos.  Please be sure to park in a place where cars are away from the high speed highways.  The little ones are quick and sometimes it only takes a few second for them to lose their mind and run off.  Please please be careful.

 

Here are locations of the bluebonnet sightings 2016 as of April 13:

  • Highway 281 & CO Rd 103
  • We highly recommend ‪#‎FM1431‬ west of ‪#‎MarbleFalls‬ to ‪#‎Kingsland‬ and on to ‪#‎Highway29‬.
  • Kyle, TX on fm 1626 by Plum Creek division
  • Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival
  • We highly recommend ‪#‎FM965‬ north of ‪#‎EnchantedRock‬ State Park in the ‪#‎TexasHillCountry‬.
  • Eleanor Tinsley Park on Allen parkway, Houston, TX
  • Hwy I-20 and Wheatland Rd (DFW)
  • Terry Hershey park in Houston (it might not be available this week)
  • #‎Killeen‬ Peeps! Y’all still got bluebonnets on Stan Schlueter Loop
  • Texas Hill Country: HW 16 between Goldthwaite and Fredericksburg, HW 71 between Llano and Brady, CR501 between Pontotoc and Lometa, and CR574 west from Goldthwaite.
  • Texas Hill Country: If you’re in the ‪#‎TexasHillCountry‬ and looking for a ‪#‎bluebonnet‬ field instead of roadside bluebonnets, ‪#‎TurkeyBend‬ Recreation Area off ‪#‎Fm1431‬ is a sweet, little field.
  • Mansfield Tx in the Lone Star Exit
  • For those in the ‪#‎Brenham‬ area trying to avoid the crowds, give this area a try. It’s outside the Bellville area, SW of the Brenham area, FM 2754 at 159 (159 runs between Bellville & Industry)
  • In Ennis, TX off of the Bluebonnet Trail off of Union Hill Road
  • Tigerpoint Road and FM389
  • behind Philips Veterinary Hospital
    5375 US-290, Brenham, TX 77833
  • Along Legacy Dr near Dallas Parkway
  • Pace Bend Park
  • Round Rock
  • Hope y’all enjoy, I will try to update the list one more time in the coming week.

 

Thoughts behind this blurred image…

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Ever since I learned photography, I have always been taught to get the images as sharped as I can.  The best images presented by the best photographers are always very sharped.  So over the time, improving this skill has always been my top priority.  Today I would like to present to you an image that’s captured by a technique that normally general publics do not approve because it might appear as an error or a technical issue.  It is not just the foreground or the background being blurred, the entire photo is blurred.

This image was captured with intentionally blurred (AKA OOF = out of focus), it’s a technique that I have watched and learned through the photos captured by Shannon Kathleen Photography.  I have been following her for awhile and all of her intentional blurred photos have a fun inspirational story behind it.  The more I read about these blurred photographs, the more I was intrigued by this technique.  This photo was taken a few weeks back when I was standing from a far observing the kiddos running around and played at the pond.  In my mind, I wanted this image to be in my brain forever and ever.  I immediately thought of Shannon and her intentionally blurred technique.  Although in real life, everything is sharp and nice, but I wanted this photo to be blurred representing what I saw as a memory, a beautiful memory  of my precious little ones with some mysterious sensation.  It was what my mind experienced at the time the frame was taken.  I felt so excited to be able to put this image into a photograph, a memory that only I can understand and belongs to just only me.

Today, I’m excited to find out that this photo was featured at Reflections – Capturing Life in ART – photography/forum.

Thank you so much for the feature.

 

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