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.

(more…)

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.

20160529-IMG_9902 ThienAn Anvy & Jaden

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.

Signature

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… ^_^

20160619-IMG_1540 2016 Father's Day Papa
Our oldest woke up early to make special scrambled egg
20160619-IMG_1541 2016 Father's Day Papa
Our 2nd son and little daughter kept an eye on dad, making sure he didn’t wake up until it was time.
20160619-IMG_1542 2016 Father's Day Papa
He later admitted that the bacon smell woke him up 🙂
20160619-IMG_1546 2016 Father's Day Papa
Yes, corn was served for breakfast, one of his favorites.
20160619-IMG_1548 2016 Father's Day Papa
Then he had to share lol
20160619-IMG_1553 2016 Father's Day Papa
Everyone loved daddy’s breakfast.
20160619-IMG_1556 2016 Father's Day Papa
everything was gone in a matter of minutes except for the coffee, they all know they can’t have that just yet.
20160619-IMG_1595 2016 Father's Day Papa
Baby girl said she wanted a picture with Papa.
20160619-IMG_1605 2016 Father's Day Papa
Daddy walked in while she was putting her shoes on.
20160619-IMG_1607 2016 Father's Day Papa
Guess who helped putting it on for her?
20160619-IMG_1603 2016 Father's Day Papa
Then who else helped brush her hair?
20160619-IMG_1613 2016 Father's Day Papa
We are ready for our day.
20160619-IMG_1632 2016 Father's Day Papa
What mama saw and prayed for.
20160619-IMG_1641 2016 Father's Day Papa
Papa received a special blessing.  Her face though, I didn’t see it until I processed the photo
20160619-IMG_1658 2016 Father's Day Papa
walking hands in hands
20160619-IMG_1667 2016 Father's Day Papa
Baby girl shared her portion with Papa
20160619-IMG_1668 2016 Father's Day Papa
Papa is collecting his dues from the other two ^_^
20160619-IMG_1669 2016 Father's Day Papa
Papa enjoyed his special treats ^_^
20160619-IMG_1670 2016 Father's Day Papa
Yum yum!
20160619-IMG_1673 2016 Father's Day Papa
Oh yeah!

20160619-IMG_1674 2016 Father's Day Papa20160619-IMG_1675 2016 Father's Day Papa20160619-IMG_1677 2016 Father's Day Papa20160619-IMG_1679 2016 Father's Day Papa

20160619-IMG_1703 2016 Father's Day Papa
What’s so funny Papa?
20160619-IMG_1707 2016 Father's Day Papa
He’s a wonderful son as well, not so much through words but through his actions.
20160619-IMG_1742 2016 Father's Day Papa
winding down for the day, when they announced their special visas to take over my bed hmmm!!!
20160619-IMG_1747 2016 Father's Day Papa
The day is done.

Signature

 

 

 

Life as it is…

12932772_10153840362757550_4089211076817372555_n

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.

 

20160519-IMG_8949 Human project Jose20160519-IMG_8955 Human project Jose20160519-IMG_8951 Human project Jose20160519-IMG_8948 Human project Jose20160519-IMG_8956 Human project Jose20160519-IMG_8960 Jose

 

Signature

 

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!

Signature

20160602-IMG_0142 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0145 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0150 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0154 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0155 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0156 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0159 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0161 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0178 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0168 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0167 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0185 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0189 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0198 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0202 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0203 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0204 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0205 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0206 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0209 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0212 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0210 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0213 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_2817-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_2839-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_2864-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_2867-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_2870-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_3012-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_3017-2 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0220 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0228 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0233 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0234 day in the life - self portrait documentary

20160602-IMG_0238 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0239 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0243 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0253 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0255 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0256 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0258 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0267 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0268 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0277 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0296 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0303 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0305 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0312 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0317 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0319 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0321 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0322 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0345 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0367 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0373 day in the life - self portrait documentary20160602-IMG_0375 day in the life - self portrait documentary

Flying with Toddler

It is that time when you are ready to take your toddler to see the world or to visit families and friends.  Before booking that flight, read on these tips to help you prepare and make the trip as fun and enjoyable for you and your toddler.  Here are some tips that I came up with after flying with my toddler.

    1.  Booking the flight:
      • Book either an early or mid afternoon flight, around their nap time is best.
      • Nonstop flight if at all possible.
      • If your toddler is active and likes to move around, I’d choose an aisle seat.  This will allow your toddler to walk around if need to.
    2. Getting prepared for the flight:
      • For young toddler that are still on bottle, bring a bottle of milk so he/she can suck on during take off and landing.  If your toddler is still breastfeeding (yay for breastfeeding babies), you know what to do mom.
      • Be prepared for security line.  Bring an umbrella stroller or a stroller car seat so that your toddler can rest in it.
      • For older toddler, bring lollipops or something to chew and swallow during take off and landing.
      • Bring a few favorite books, coloring books and some crayola and a few favorite small toys, and ONE favorite comfort thing (blanket… etc).  Be careful with comfort thing because you will have to make sure you don’t lose it or you will be miserable for the rest of the trip.  I let my kids use multiple blankets so there’s no one comfort.  We can take any blankets with us and it’s no issue to replace them.
      • I don’t use tablet but there are people using them to entertain their kids (music/movies/games) and it’s fine.  The reason I don’t use tablets is because I want to teach my kids to travel light and enjoy things around them such as art galleries at the airport hallways or making conversations with other travelers.
      • Separate your things in plastic ziplock bags so you can see them easily.
    3.  Day of travel:
      • Get to the airport early.
      • Car seat and strollers are free luggages.  Be sure to bag them so there will be no damage.
      • Be prepare for security line: Let them know if you have to bring milk/water/juice bottle in.
      • Don’t forget to bring all those items you prepared in #2
      • Bring some snacks for yourself and your toddler (let it be chip, crackers, or fruits), the airport allows you to bring those.
      • Let your toddler run around.  If it’s too crowded at your gate, find another corner that has space for your toddler to run around or you can take him/her up and down the hallway enjoying the art galleries  or looking out the windows to see planes landing and taking off.
      • Time to pull out those activities book, reading.  One thing at a time so you don’t have a cleaning chore when it is time to take off.
      • Take your time, and use flight attendant and your fellow travelers as your allies.  You can ask for assistance to put luggage onto the overhead bin.
      • As much as we all like to board and settle early, I would take my toddler in as late as possible.  If you are traveling with your spouse, divide and conquer, let your spouse board first with all gears, then you can board with your toddler later.  This will allow toddler some wiggly time out in open space.
      • Bring a surprise toy in case for calm down period.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask a stranger to act as an aeroplane police if needed.  Sometimes a stranger’s voice is louder than parent’s voice.

image3

 

 

I hope you enjoy your first flight with your toddler, it will be fun.  Key is to keep them entertained and their brain intrigued.

 

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.

 

Up ↑