Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Naughty List

With Christmas fast approaching, I spent a recent night wrapping gifts. Lots of gifts. So many gifts that I didn't go to sleep until after midnight. I figured I'd earned the right to sleep in the next day, which happened to be a Saturday when Vince would conveniently be available to watch the kids. I left my wrapping paper and ribbon in a neat pile on the dining room table and retired to bed.

The next morning, I slept until the late hour of 8:00 am, took my time getting ready in the morning, and entered the living room refreshed and ready to tackle the weekend. This is the sight that greeted me:

Looks like someone's gonna be on Santa's naughty list, and it ain't gonna be the kids.

Perhaps this was Vince's way of discouraging me from sleeping in ever again? Who knows. Well, like the kids, it's a good thing he's cute, because I think there was enough ribbon left over to wrap around his neck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tulle Be, Or Not Tulle Be?

I'm not a girly-girl. Never have been. I'm not a big fan of ruffles, frilly undergarments, beauty pageants, or pink lip gloss. So I guess it's no surprise that my daughter would be the same. At the tender age of 19 months, Calliope already has a definite tomboy streak. Some might even say that her behavior at times is downright unladylike. Though I would prefer that she leave her pants on and refrain from using her breakfast as hair gel, and though sometimes I find that her stubborness borders on outright insubordination, I have to say that I love that my daughter is such a rough and tumble little girl.

Even so, part of me wonders what Calliope would look like with a poufy princess dress on. With her big round eyes, chubby cheeks and pigtails, she'd probably be pretty cute! So on a recent afternoon, I took her to the mall to find out. I found the biggest, poufiest, glittery-ist, most tulle-filled princess dress in the store and put it on her. Unfortunately, it didn't go over well.

Guess I forgot who I was dealing with here. :(

I realize that it's been almost two months since my last post. Yes, I feel really guilty about neglecting my blog. No, I haven't been spending all my free time torturing my daughter with tulle. I've actually been insanely busy!

For one thing, our dear friends the Ilardis came to town. As you can see, Benjamin was over the moon to see his love Kayla again.

On the days that Benjamin was in school, Calliope and Kayla had a chance to bond. I think Calliope really liked having a big sister to pal around with. And Kayla seemed to love having a little sis to take care of, too. Ahem, Marco and Sheila, I think your daughter may be trying to tell you something!

During their stay, we squeezed in a visit to Disneyland - and Calliope squeezed into a pair off too-small shorts.

My parents took a vacation and paid us a visit, too, though I'm afraid that with the amount of running around they did with the kids, it wasn't very relaxing.

The summer's been filled with birthday parties galore. It seemed that we had one almost every weekend these past six weeks. It's crazy how many kids had birthdays in September and August. Hmmm... Looks like the holidays were a popular time for getting frisky! ;)

Summer didn't seem heat up until after July, so we've been spending a lot of time at the pool...

...and at the beach.

You may notice that in all of these pics, Benjamin's mohawk is MIA. That's because he's decided that he wants hair "like Daddy's." What better way to get him Daddy's haircut than by taking him to Daddy's hairstylist, Chika Furumiya! Though Chika doesn't usually cut the hair of anyone under four feet tall, she agreed to make an exception for Benjamin. We had to improvise ways to keep him covered up while she was working on him, but the end result was well worth it. Look at that smile on the Boo's face! It says, "I'm so handsome that I'll never let you save money by cutting my hair at home again, SUCKAS!"

Though Chika didn't cut Calliope's hair, she did give her some uber-trendy feather hair extensions. They looked absolutely adorable - until Calliope ripped them out three days later. I guess hair extensions and tomboys don't mix.

To get some of that tomboy energy out (and to give her poor mother a break), Calliope is now in Mother's Day Out two days a week. One of those days she goes together with her brother. It's funny to watch them clinging to one another at drop-off, especially since by the time pick-up rolls around, they're pretending not to know one another. I suppose this is a preview of what high school will be like.

So as you can see, it's been a busy summer. But it's not just the days at the beach, trips to the pool, birthday parties, long days with the kids, commitments to the Playa Vista Moms Group/preschool/elementary school fundraising committee/Mandarin playgroup, or out-of-town visitors that have kept me busy. It's WORK.

I have been shooting up a storm these past few months. And though my eyeballs are dried out from editing, though I'm in a constant state of panic about keeping up with my clients and orders, and though some days my right hand feels like it's going to fall off if it has to click the shutter one more time, I am LOVING it. I get excited before every shoot, and as soon as it wraps, I can't wait to get home to look at the pictures.

Especially the ones of the kids! Photographing young children is exhausting, but no matter how worn out I am after a session with them, I always find myself sitting there with a dopey grin as I'm going through their pictures. Their enthusiasm and pure joie de vivre is contagious even through a photograph.

Which brings me back to my own two children.

I see them growing up, and I can't help but feel a pang. It's all happening too fast. Just four years ago, it was just me and Vince living alone in our home. Now we're a family of four. And wasn't it just the other day that I had two BABIES? Now one of them is making his own hairstyling decisions and the other is giving me attitude about what clothes she wants to wear. I love seeing them grow, but is it so wrong of me to want them to grow up just a little more slowly? I asked my mom if she remembered what it was like when my brother and I were this young.

She said that she remembered it all as if it were just yesterday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Itty Bitty Bootylicious

Just now, after Benjamin went to the potty and was putting his underpants back on (backwards, I might add), he bent over to inspect his posterior and said to me, "Mama, I have a little butt." I chuckled affectionately and said yes, he did indeed have a little butt. He then came up to me, inspected MY posterior, looked me dead in the eye and said, "Mama, you have a big butt." Oh, Benjamin... I have ended relationships over words less cruel than those. Good thing I'm legally stuck with you for at least another 15.5 years. Besides, I don't put much stock in what other people think.
Especially when the person in question has his underpants on backwards.

I realize it's been an age since my last post. Despite what my son would have you believe, it's not my lazy fat ass that has prevented me from updating this blog; it's the royal time suck I call Lily Chan Photography. But even aside from LCP stuff, a lot has happened recently, so I promise you I'll post again soon.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

LCP'ed to the MAX

Remember that "new baby" I told you about in my last post? The one named Lily Chan Photography? Well, like a real newborn, it's been a needy little thing. I spend so much time tending to it that it might as well have colic.

Someone asked me recently how much time I spend each day on LCP, and I broke it down like this: on an average day, I spend about two hours working on my website/marketing/answering emails, two hours on post-production, and two to three hours on research and education (be it on gear, technical stuff, software, or whatever). At this rate, I'm not even making minimum wage. It's a good thing that I am truly enjoying what I'm doing. And I really thank God that I have a husband that is so understanding. You rock, Vince.

And none of that time includes time actually spent on a job shooting pictures! Because of the Dirty 30 special I'm running right now, I've been able to drum up a fair amount of buzz. This is great because as a new photog, I need all the buzz I can get. This is not so great because other areas of my life as suffering. Well, maybe "suffering" is a bit harsh. I mean, eating leftovers three days in a row is hardly "suffering," right?

So just to give you an idea of how my new baby is faring, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into some of my recent photo shoots.

Yes, all of these shoots happened at different times within the two weeks since my last blog post. No, this isn't all of them. No, I don't know where I'm finding the time to do all this. Yes, my home is a complete disaster.

You may be wondering who some of my new clients are. Most of them are people I am either friends with or friends of friends with. A few are total strangers. All are pretty awesome for taking a chance by giving a newbie family photographer a shot.

Get it? A "shot"? If this photography thing doesn't work out, maybe I should become a stand-up comic. NOT!

Like I said, every one of these families is wonderful. It's been truly incredible having the chance to meet them and see them through my lens. I feel as though each shutter click is an opportunity for me to capture something that is here and then gone in just a blink of an eye. Like the fuzz on a newborn's arms. Or the toothless grin of a baby. Or the acne on a teenagers face. Wait, scratch that - my acne lasted for-EVER.

I have to give props to several peeps in particular - my good friends Julie, Lisa, Deb, and Clara. They've been so enthusiastic and supportive of my new endeavor and have helped in so many ways. Julie and Lisa with their expertise in the business side of things, Clara with her financial savvy (and her mass-mailing of friends), and Deb by sending me crazy hyper emails and texts filled with ENDLESS SMILEY FACES :):) AND CAPITAL LETTERS AND OUT-OF-PLACE PUNCTUATION THAT JUST SHOUTS HOW EXCITED AND PROUD SHE IS OF ME???!?!??! :):):) God, Deb, do your emails ever give me a headache, but I still love 'em. Keep 'em coming!!!! :):):)

And again, I must thank my wonderful husband Vince. He's been a veritable single dad these past few weekends, schlepping the kids around by himself while I've been off on shoots or mired in editing. I am so, so grateful for how supportive he is and how much he's encouraged me. Little does he know, all of this exposure to adorable little babies has been scratching my itch for a third little Chan to round out the brood.

Vince you're gonna get lucky tonight!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lily Chan Photography

You may have noticed that it's been a while since my last post. Did I fall off the face of the earth? Contract gangrene of the fingertips? Get really, really lazy? No, no, and maybe a little. The truth is that I've taken on a new project, one that has eaten up what precious little free time I have. I've decided to start my own business: Lily Chan Photography.

I've always loved taking pictures. I got my first camera when I was 11. It was a blue plastic point-and-click from K-Mart that used 110 film. Remember those? These days, I shoot with the humble but perfectly serviceable Canon Rebel XS outfitted with a 50mm 1.4 lens. One day, I hope to graduate to the Canon 5D Mark II (or even III). I say "one day" and not "next week" because the 5DM2 doesn't come cheap. It costs the same amount as several pairs of Loubotins. Or a large Louis bag. Or 850 Coffee Bean chai tea lattes (note to self: stop buying chai tea lattes from Coffee Bean). Vince, if you're reading this, don't freak out - I promise I won't dip into the kids' college fund to pay for it. Instead, I'm hoping that my new business will take off enough for me to finance the new toy. Or, if that doesn't work, I'll sell myself on the corner of Hollywood and Vince. There's gotta be a market for aging moms of two, right? KIDDING.

So, like I was saying, I have always loved photography. I loved it so much that I chose it as an area of concentration in my studies as an art student at UCLA. I lived, breathed, slept, and ate photography until the day I received my diploma. And once I got it, guess what happened? I'd become so sick of it that I tossed my enlarger into a dumpster the week after graduation. But then, Benjamin was born, and with him, so was a renewed love of photography. Sure, I'd take snapshots between college and kids, but it felt different now. There is something so special about shooting children. I think it has to do with the fact that they change so damn fast. Those chubby cheeks and gummy smiles are there so briefly, soon to be replaced by skinned knees and gangly limbs, which then metamorphose into broken curfews, cheap Wet 'n' Wild kohl eyeliner, and a bad attitude.

Until recently, my portfolio consisted largely of shots of my own kids. As adorable as I think they are, I realized that in order to successfully market a family photography business, I would need pictures of families. Other people's families. Luckily, my good friends Clara and Eddie agreed to be my first Lily Chan Photography clients. We met at a local park, and I snapped away for about an hour.

My first official LCP session was so much fun! Still, it was not without its challenges. For one thing, it was as hot as hell and the light happened to be super harsh that afternoon. What happened to June Gloom? And then there were environmental concerns, mainly phantom puddles of peed-on grass to skirt like squishy landmines. At one point, I flopped my whole body down in the grass only to realize that I was in a giant puddle of-- I don't even want to think about it. Luckily, the resulting shot was pretty durned cute (above, top left).

All in all, I would say the shoot was a grand kickoff to the start of Lily Chan Photography. Many thanks to Clara, Eddie, and baby Brady for being such a pleasure to work with! I have a few more gigs coming up, so keep an eye out for those pics soon. I'm also in the process of getting a website up, but until then, I'll have to harangue my blog readers with LCP crap here. Right now, I'm running a grand opening special that I'm calling the Dirty 30. Why "dirty"? Because it's rhymes with "thirty" - DUH! Anyway, here's the Dirty 30 in a nutshell: you get a 30-minute session, an online gallery for proofing, and 5 digital negatives to keep for $50. Steal!! See the fine print below* for more details. If you have more questions or want to book me for a shoot, then contact me. Thanks, and stay tuned! Viva LCP!

*The fine print: The Dirty 30 is a limited time offer. To take advantage of it, your session must be scheduled before the end of July. I have a limited number of spaces available. Once all slots are filled, the offer will end. The Dirty 30 includes one 30-minute session at an outdoor location of your choice within 5 miles of Playa Vista (90094). If you are interested in setting up a slightly different package (such as a longer session, an indoor shoot, or a location outside of the 5 mile radius), let me know and we'll work something out. Email lily@lilychanphotography.com for details and booking. Thanks!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

She's Got Style, She's Got Grace, She's a Winner...


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bento Blahs

You may have noticed that it's been a long time since my last bento post. You know why? It's because I'd been hit by a serious case of the bento blahs. It seemed that almost every bento I packed included a PBNFSM (Peanut Butter Nutella and Flaxseed Meal) sandwich. BOOORING! Thankfully, I discovered a new way to get some grains into the Boo's bento boxes: onigiri, AKA, rice squished together into a little ball (or fun shape) to be picked up with bare hands and popped into the mouth. I'd included plain onigiri in Benjamin's bento before, but they were met with little enthusiasm. I decided to add some flavor by quickly frying the sides in a mix of olive oil, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce, which he seemed to like. I'm sure the cute heart shapes appealed to him, too.

Benjamin liked the savory onigiri so much, I put a sweet spin on things and made some strawberry-flavored ones. I did this by making a ball-shaped onigiri, creating a little divot in the center with my fingers, spooning in a bit of strawberry preserves, and reshaping it.

He didn't seem terribly excited about the strawberry onigiri, so I made some with Nutella filling instead. I first tried it with plain Nutella, and when that went over well, I mixed in some flaxseed meal to give it some more nutritional oomph. I was worried that the texture of the flaxseed meal would turn him off, but Benjamin didn't seem to notice. His Nutella and flaxseed meal onigiri bento came back looking like this:

Mmmm! I don't know if you can tell, but it appears that he ate through the onigiri until he got to all the chocolate stuff. Smart kid, that Benjamin! Unfortunately, those smarts were stumped by...

I'm assuming that note was not written by Benjamin himself, but was dictated to his teacher Ms. Gisele. The kid is smart, but not that smart! Even so, I was surprised to receive that note. I mean, the kid can do this...

...but he can't figure out how to use his lunchbox? I'd like to think that the reason why is because he is driven witless by his excitement to eat the delicious lunch his mama packed him!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Diminutive Daredevil

The weather was sunny over the weekend, so we took the kids to the pool. It was only Calliope's third time in the water, but you wouldn't know it by watching her.

Lord, help us all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mama's Day 2011

Ever since Benjamin and Calliope came along, most holidays have lost their sheen. Christmas? It's for the little ones now. Birthdays? Bah! Valentine's Day? Too much trouble. But Mother's Day? Well, Mother's Day is what it's all about. It's the one day I get to bask in all the glory that being a housewife, homemaker, and full-time mommy gives me. Yes, I realize that sounded delusional. Sleep deprivation will do that to you.

I kicked off Mother's Day 2011 with a Mother's Day tea at Benjamin's preschool. Ben Ben and I sat with friends Nolan and Julie, and we dined on cucumber sandwiches, tiny cakes, and yes, tea. I was surprised to see that the tea was being served in actual teacups. I was even more surprised to see how delicately Benjamin handled that porcelain teacup.

He wasn't quite as delicate when it came to stuffing his face with madeleines and brownies, though.

As a touching surprise, each student had drawn a portrait of his or her own mommy. Benjamin's rendering of me brought to me tears. I loved how he had carefully layered orange and yellow watercolors to create a sunny background for my portrait. I loved that he had drawn eyes, a nose, a mouth, and limbs and had placed them all in the right places. I loved that he (probably subconsciously) obeyed the rule of thirds when it came to the composition of his masterpiece. And I especially loved that he made me look so damn skinny. Thank you, Benjamin. You really know how to make Mommy happy!

That evening, I went to an intimate baby shower dinner for my friend Brooke, who is due with her second baby in just a month. I didn't get a chance to snap any pics at dinner, so this image of the card I made for Brooke will have to do:

Yes, that's Brooke's face on Demi's body, but if you ask me, Brooke's preggo figure is much more fetching than Demi's was. Just ask the peeps in the cardio classes she continued to take into her eighth month of pregnancy. Yes, her EIGHTH month! I think the only exercise I was doing when I was that far along was attempting to have a bowel movement once a day.

We had plans to visit friends in San Diego on Mother's Day itself, so the day before, the kids and hubby treated me to breakfast at Nichols. After that, we strolled around Century City Mall. As an early Mother's Day gift, the kids behaved themselves during the car ride there.

I awoke the next morning to the words no woman wants to hear from her baby daddy on Mother's Day: "I'm sick. I can't do anything today." Noooo! That meant that not only would we not get to see my friends in San Diego as planned, but I wouldn't get a free pass out of mommy duty for the day, either. Isn't it ironic that what almost every mother wants on Mother's Day is to forget that she's a mom? Well, head cold nothwithstanding, everyone still made me feel special. Benjamin and Calliope presented me with gift cards to Amazon and iTunes.

And later, we went to Third Street where Vince bought Calliope and I matching Toms shoes and treated us to dim sum at an Asian fusion place. Actually, what I should call it is "dim sum-thing-else," because I don't recall ever being offered a complimentary bottomless Mother's Day mimosa at any dim sum place I've been to. So though Vince's inconvenient cold may have stuck me with mommy duty on what was supposed to be my day of relaxation, I did find a way to relax.

Three ways, rather.

Oh, come on, Calliope, don't look so horrified. Sometimes, mommies need their special mommy juice. One day you'll understand.

So although our original plans got scrapped, I still had a wonderful day filled with the things I cherish most: presents, shoes, and booze. No, no, just kidding! What I cherish most are Vince, Benjamin and Calliope. And as far as the presents are concerned, though the gift cards and mimosas were nice, the one that I will treasure the most is the most humble one of all: my sweet little boy's portrait of me.

Is it just me, or do I see a touch of the artist himself in this rendering?

I hope all my mama friends out there had a wonderful day, too. Happy Mother's Day to you all!