Understanding Mom

We had a great Sunday at the annual San Diego Fair for Father’s Day. We gorged on everything our nose led us to – BBQ corn (I am salivating just thinking about it), clam chowder, cream puffs, and corn dogs dipped into a  sweet potato batter.  We walked down aisles and aisles of “what should I buy this year”,  oohed and awed over  this year’s best of show, enjoyed lunch in the middle of the landscape and garden exhibit, and watched my competitive 5’4 father eagar to win us a giant size hippo with an odd-looking belly button (we got not one but 2) shooting hoops.  I know Kris.. shirt tight… could not make the ball in the basket… although you are 2x my father’s height.

My mom and Kris even checked out the minerals, jewelry, and gems at the Gem Faire. After spending some time with my mom, Kris felt like he starting to understand her.   He was understanding the words that were coming out her mouth!  Her accent is not very strong but she has her ways of describing things, places, and stories with sound effects, replacement words (nonsensical of course), and sometimes she may even act out a word here and there. I have caught him a few times during their past conversations with a blank stare. So he was excited to tell me that he could understand her.

“Sina, your mom was educating me on the gems and stones they had at the exhibit. She said the lighter the jade is, the more expensive they are.”

“Hmmm… interesting, I am pretty sure they are more expensive when the stone is darker.”

“She said the more lack in color, the more expensive it is.  Well.. Lack in color is less color, right?”

“I think she said, the more black in color.”

“But the stone was pink.”

“Yeah same thing, the more black in color. Dark means Black. Black is Dark”

Kris, please understand when the light is out, and it is dark all around you and you cannot see a thing, not even your white walls – it is black not dark.

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Flowers for Mom

It has been awhile since I wrote about my mom on here but I have to share this.

My father has not been able to catch on that you buy your wife something nice on V-day, to him its just another day. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.. well until my sister was born, they made more of an effort but they ran a 24 hour business so it was difficult. Now both are retired, and my mom reminds us of her upcoming birthday, mother’s day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year (in fact, she took the bedazzled party hats she received, and decorated her dining room table), Chinese New Year, Full Moon.. well you get the idea. These not so important holidays are now important, so how do you tell your husband?

You don’t. Every now and then, I buy her something nice to recognize these yearly holidays, even if there is one every month. It’s a reminder that we love her, care about her, and truly appreciate her.

But the best part… is this

She planted the calla lilies outside and left our card in the soil.

Sangria anyone?

Tonight, I decided to take my mom along with me to watch the basketball game at …. Hooters. And it was Bike Night at Hooter’s, where the girls are dressed in black leather and bikini tops. Yes guys, they were.

We sit down and a friend and I order a couple of beers to get the night started. My mom looks at the menu and is describing a drink with apples, oranges.. lots of fur-rooot. Sangria?

I order her a glass of sangria. She takes a sip. Oh Sinah, they put a lot of alcohol. We shuld tell dem not to put too much.

Is so’kay. Not too much ish okay. I drink a little.

Towards the end of the first quarter, I look over and she worked her way through half her sangria, eating the wings like there was no tomorrow, making comments and chuckling to herself.

Mom, slow down. Don’t drink too much if its strong.

Yeah, its strong and I think I der-runk. So’kay, okay, I finish all.

I had to stop her. Geez, mom, please do not down the rest of your sangria.

My mom does not drink very often but it was very entertaining to see her surrounded with my friends, watching the game and eating hot wings at Hooters.

Mom and Will

Happy Birthday Mom. You are Forever 21.

Its funny, most photographers (please have my back), ok as a photographer, I forget my family would probably like their photo taken from time to time or perhaps on their birthday.  What do you think?  Rarely, do I bring out my camera for family occasions, and maybe I might whip out my small 6.0 megapixel Canon point and shoot and snap a photo or 2.

If you knew my family, once the camera comes out, it can be chaos.  Sina, take your uncle’s picture who is visiting from Canadah.

Sina, you take good picture right?  I want to send to your family back home.

Ok, now take your 3rd cousin’s picture and his family.

And this is sometimes harder than photographing a wedding.  I know I sound a bit dramatic but it doesnt even end there.  Sina, did you make 5 copies of each picture.  One for each person in the picture.

So when it comes time to photographing my family, I actually have to schedule in a session for me to actually do it.

My sister came into town for my mother’s birthday and it was an opportune time to dress up and take a few photos together, and of course we couldn’t have done it with my diva partner in crime and sistah, Teena (giving credit where credit is due.  Holah).   When it was my mother’s turn, oh I’ll just type out her dialogue:

No Si-nah! I don’t need a picture.  Is ok. She is still in the bathroom fixing her hair.

Si-nah, what do you think about red?  You have to wear red on your birthday for good luck.

Ok, how about gold?  If you wear gold on your birthday, the Buddha say you will have lots of money for the next year.  Okay I wear gold.


We also had to take a few photos by the cacti. I like it. Its so booom. Thats her sound effect for its so big.


Here, Lin-dah, hold some flowers. It look nice. Don’t hate on the infamous green socks. She says it will make you lucky when you wear bright colors.

Being goofy is what we do best. Tell us how to pose and we become awkward.


Thanks to our glamorous photographer, Teena.

I did get my door shot even though she did not understand why I would want her by an ugly brick house and a big door when there are so many flowers and cacti around us.

I know I have said this before, I rarely push when it comes to posing. The image I choose of myself is the moment in between the “please look here and smile” and “the hand on your back and stand up straight.” But don’t get me wrong, I will still make you do awkward poses, its fun.

My mother, she is a natural. She poses the way she wants and her smile always comes out so beautifully. She turned 57 this past weekend and she still looks amazing.

Celebrating another New year.

Sin-ah?  You want to go with me to the Thai Temple up on the mountain.  Is so much fun, si-nah.  They have so much food.  A lot of  food, you will like it.

How is my mom going to entice me with food?  She does this all the time.  FUN = Lots of FOOD.  Especially when its free.  2 of my favorite words.

I didn’t want to go at first.  Thinking.  Its far.  I will be so tired from the mud run.  My scheduled diet is to start on Sunday since I couldnt start it the day of the mud run (huge food/beer garden fest.  Why is there always a fest of some sort).  Last week, I was treated to a carbo-fest of more seafood tacos.

It is Cambodian New Year (Thailand & Laos also celebrate this as their new year) and my diet is suppose to start on a Monday anyways.

Okay, mom.  I’ll take you.

Ask Shella and Quoc and all your friends.  They will like it.  Tell them, a lot of food for them to eat.

She was even more excited when I took my camera with me to document the event.  I forget my family appreciates a photo or 2.  I need to get better at that.


Si-nah. Here take my picture by the monk house. And show the mountain in the back.

Uh.  Mom, you are sorta crooked… nevermind.
Did, I ever mention that growing up I had no idea how to match my clothes.

When I photograph my family, rarely do I tell them how to pose.  Well, for one, my mom knows how to pose.  And two, I want to capture it the way they are.

I don’t know about your family, had there been flowers, she would have pulled the flower closer to her face and smiled for the camera with the flower right next to her face.








Happy New Year everyone. Happy Cambodian, Laos, and Thai New Year!

Mom’s Lasagna

Sinaaah.  Come try my lasagna.  You try it.

First bite, not bad.  pretty good.  Second bite, hmmm.. shitake mushrooms.  Third bite, leftover grilled chicken pieces from Rice King.  Fourth bite, is that a ravioli from Chef Boyardee?  Fifth bite, crunchy carrot pieces.

I helped myself to seconds.

Chinese New Year is here

{In this Moment :  Mom swears…}

First I have to say, convince everyone, that I do love my mother. It doesn’t always come off that way.

Its the first day of prayer, food, tea and shots of Henessey are displayed on the kitchen table with burning candles and incense sticks. The problem, I am not there to help. Of course, my cell phone is going off and I know better. Don’t pick up the phone, not yet. I’ll call when I am ready to talk.

An hour or 2 passes, I call her and she is screaming at me (sometimes, this is her normal talking voice) “Where are you? You know you have to help! Oh, when I was a kid, my mother never asked me to help. I come help, I cook, I clean. Come here now!”

“Mom, I’ll come soon, let me just finish…”

“No, you come now!”

“Alright, please stop yelling. This is why I don’t pick up my phone.”

Well, that was not the smartest thing to say. She started to go on about her own childhood and being the perfect daughter to her mother. “Your kid, he going to be like you, he hear you and he talk sh*% to you cause he hear you talk sh*%. You better not-ah talk sh*%, you hear me!”

Mom, when did you learn such a bad word?

I felt so bad, she’s right. I went there immediately. Its Chinese New Year. Sorry great grandmother, great grandfather, great uncle and great aunt, will you forgive me and bless us with good health, prosperity, and longevity?

{Friday.  February 12th, 2010}