Raising a Second Generation Canadian

This was me in second grade bragging about losing my tooth:

“Look Mrs. P, my tooth fell out yesterday!”

“Oh wow, did you get money from the tooth fairy?”

“The what?”

“You know, the tooth fairy? You put your teeth under your pillow and you get money.”

“Oh yeah…I knew that!”

I had no idea what or who the tooth fairy was, but I was good at pretending to know things early on during my childhood. To fit in and to not stand out as one of the few Chinese kids in town, there were many moments where I pretended to know about Canadian culture, where in fact I didn’t.

Immigrating to a small Alberta town at a young age, I sort of hated being Chinese and I certainly wished my parents understood Canadian culture better.

I wanted to be the kid that knew the words to all the Christmas carols, and all the words to the NKOTB songs. I wanted a normal Christmas tree like I saw on TV, not some giant plant with red pockets as ornaments.

I just wanted to be a white kid living with a white family.

My brother and I posing in front of our Chinmas Tree on Christmas Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
There were times where I didn’t want anything to do with my Chinese culture, and I wanted my family to adopt to this Canadian culture as quickly as possible.

It’s funny how perceptions change.

Looking back at it now, I feel the complete opposite. As I mentioned before how incredible it was for my immigrant parents to give me the ultimate Canadian birthday party, now I am proud of my culture, and I am proud to be the Hong Kong family that moved to rural Alberta.

So as we just finished celebrating the Lunar New Year, I started thinking:

How much of my Chinese Culture will I imprint on my daughter?

Should I enroll her in Chinese school? Make her watch Chinese cartoons? Only speak to her in Cantonese? I’m really not sure.

On one hand I do not want to impose and overwhelm her with the culture. I don’t want to cause her to feel singled out or embarrassed by it. I mean she’ll face enough embarrassment with me as dad as it is. 

My Daughter Watching Doraemon in Our Native Tongue: Cantonese

On the other hand I don’t want her to miss out on what makes having dual-cultures so great.

A Digression

 

Take for example: Food

I love the fact that part of my upbringing exposed me to both Chinese and Western foods.

I once proudly said to my wife, “Man I love the fact that I’m Chinese. Can you imagine not eating Hong Kong Style cafe food?”

(When you know someone for close to 20 years, you’ll talk about anything, including Chinese food . 😂)

For the uninitiated, HK Cafe food is basically North American diner food with a Chinese twist.

The lemon tea, and milk teas are as staple as an espresso in any Italian cafe, or a coffee is most North American coffeehouse.

Baby Udon Noodle Recipe Bring beef broth to a boil Add veggies and other garnish Add tablespoon soy sauce Add premixed baby powder and baby oil Stir all ingredients and let it simmer for 5 minutes Add milk as required Serving size typically for 1-2 adults. *no babies were harmed in the taking of this photo*😂

A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

It goes beyond food too as both my wife and I speak Cantonese fairly fluently. It’s our helpful tool to use when we’re travelling abroad, or secretly commenting on other people, or negotiating a big purchase. That’s right, whenever you see an English speaking couple quietly speaking another language, they’re either talking crap about you, or trying to plot something sinister.

End of Digression

 

Our heritage and culture is very much of our daily lives. But what if I don’t teach her well enough? It’s like the movie Multiplicity each copy just gets worse. (Yes that was a 90s movie reference starring Michael Keaton) My knowledge of Chinese culture is basically a crappier copy of my parents. Will she embrace this condensed and dumbed down version of Chinese culture?

Our cultural knowledge will just get worse and worse.

My parents exclusively spoke to my brother and I in Cantonese, and that’s one thing I disliked when I was younger but now appreciate so much. Sure, it didn’t exactly help me with learning English early on (Shoutout to ESL), but now that I am older, I’ve managed to learn the English language pretty well (Lingo dead? Lingo is dead).   Prior to having her, when my wife and I had those pre-parenting negotiations, I agreed to be the parent that solely speaks Chinese to her. This was based on a study that said that in order for a child to pick up on the second language, one parent must exclusively speak to them in that language so that they see it as a necessary means to communicate. So far that hasn’t really come to plan. Instead, I throw around the occasional Cantonese phrase, along with some Chinglish.

This kid is going to grow up confused. Instead of best of both worlds, she’s going to benefit from the mediocrity of both.

I guess the point to all of this is, I need to do better for her. She may not use the language when she grows up, but in the event that it ever gives her some sort of advantage it’ll be worth it. I have to make the effort to try as a parent. Right?

Going back to losing my tooth as a child: I may not have received money under my pillow the first night. But interestingly  enough, after telling my mom about the whole tooth fairy thing, I mysteriously received 25 cents under my pillow the next morning.

And I didn’t even put my tooth under my pillow!!

The Chinese family that I hated so much to be a part of, was actually pretty willing to adapt to and embrace Canadian culture. I just didn’t know it or understand it at the time. I mean, my parents did had to at the time: assimilate to a brand new foreign culture, get a job, learn a new language, and raise two boys. Maybe figuring out these weird Western nuances weren’t on the top of their list of to-dos. Perhaps I should have given my parents a lot more credit; because of them I ended up getting the best of both worlds.

Or maybe, this was their plan all along and they Jedi Mind-tricked me like crazy. They somehow knew that 25 years later their youngest son will have a realization that they did a pretty awesome job of exposing him to both cultures.

Now that I’ve thought that out loud, I’m just going to shut up and teach my daughter everything that I know about our Chinese culture – especially when it’s so much easier to do so now.

It’s not like back then when my folks needed to import Chinese laser disc movies from Hong Kong; or drive out three hours to Edmonton to buy asian animal crackers.

Now it’s as easy as turning on YouTube and choosing a catalogue of uploaded Chinese cartoons; or driving ten minutes to Walmart to pick up the same asian snacks my parents painfully went through to get for us back then.

I really don’t have any excuses not to teach her – I need to do it for her, and more importantly, I need to do it for my parents.

.

.

.

.

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 5.52.21 PM
GINBIS Animal Crackers were bomb.

 

Growing up in a small town, I wanted so much to be whitewashed and Canadianized. But as I grew older, I slowly became more appreciative of my Chinese culture. I hope as she grows up I’ll expose her enough to our culture and traditions. And maybe she’ll be able to appreciate what I’ve learned to appreciate. Happy New Year! A post shared by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Run to the ROM Contest

If the $20 off ROM coupon code (use the code: ‘HOLIDAY’ ) wasn’t enough in my last post. I’m currently running a Instagram contest to win a free ROM Family/Dual membership.

If you’re interested, hows you can below:

 

1) Follow me on Instagram @snappingus and ROM @romtoronto.

2) Leave a comment on this post by tagging one friend:

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve partnered up with @romtoronto to giveaway a Family/Dual Membership. Membership is valid for a year and here’s how you can enter to win: 1) Follow me on Instagram @snappingus and ROM @romtoronto. 2) Leave a comment on this post by tagging one friend. 3) Multiple entries ARE allowed as long as you tag a different friend in a SEPARATE comment. Contest closes on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2017 at 11:59PM EST. 1 Royal Ontario Museum Family/Dual membership (Approximate Market Value $149.00). This contest is open to legal residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. Contacted Contest Prize Winners must answer a skill testing question in order to claim their prize. No purchase necessary. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associate with, Instagram, nor is Instagram liable for any actions of this contest. For full contest rules, please visit http://dadmodeon.com/index.php/rom-contest/

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Note: Multiple entries ARE allowed as long as you tag a different friend in a SEPARATE comment.

Contest closes on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2017 at 11:59PM EST.

1 Royal Ontario Museum Family/Dual membership (Approximate Market Value $149.00). This contest is open to legal residents of Canada only, excluding Quebec. Contacted Contest Prize Winners must answer a skill testing question in order to claim their prize. No purchase necessary. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associate with, Instagram, nor is Instagram liable for any actions of this contest.

 

Full contest details can be found here: Run to the ROM – Contest Rules

ROM for the Holidays!

My wife and I are big fans of museums. From learning about Thor in Reykjavik, to re-living the Night At The Museum in New York, we always plan a trip to head to the museum, whenever we visit a city.

This is why when The ROM invited my family and I to go see the Chihuly exhibition, I jumped at the opportunity.

When we arrived at ROM yesterday, we quickly made our way to the Chihuly exhibit. It’s on the level B-2, so if you get there early and plan accordingly you can just beeline down there to beat some of the crowd.

I didn’t know what to expect, but the moment I saw the first display, I knew I was in for a treat.

As we progressed through the exhibition, each display became more impressive than the next. My favourite one was this one which looked like something straight out of an anime.

Like an energy blast from Dragon Ball

The crowd pleaser was probably this one where we were treated to a lightshow colours and patterns.

She Really Liked This One, (As did the gentleman behind her)

Overall we had a pretty awesome at the Chihuly Exhibition, but what I really enjoyed was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.

As a photography hobbyist and fanatic, it was truly a treat to see amazing photography on display. The exceptional timing and composition of the photos were breathtaking. I know there’s a debate of “what makes a great photo?” After seeing the works of the finalists, there’s no question in my mind that their really can be a separation between a good shot, from a great shot.

As photos were not allowed at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit I can’t post anything here. But this is all the more reason to head to the ROM and check out the display With a Family/Dual membership, access to the CHIHULY and Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibitions are free with membership.

Just Cruising at the ROM

In the meantime, if you’ve somehow stumbled upon this post, you’re probably looking for coupon code for a ROM membership. Well you can use the code: ‘HOLIDAYbefore December 31st and save $20 on the Family/Dual Membership (Visit rom.on.ca/membership and enter the code.)

Stay tuned as I will be running a contest for a FREE Family/Dual Membership!

The First Night From A Year Ago

With my daughter just turning one yesterday, I had some time to reflect back on what a crazy first night it was when she came into this world. Behind this confident looking dad constantly posting Instagram photos of how wonderful being a dad is – lies a memory of a traumatic, life changing first night at the hospital. A night that has forever shaped this dad, and is now in the back of his mind whenever the inkling of having a second child comes into conversation.

The dad is more impressed with the lights than the baby.

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


You know when you buy Ikea furniture and before you build, you go through the instructions and feel a little overwhelmed? That’s kind of like becoming a parent. You know what the end product looks like, but the process of getting there is what’s confusing and intimidating.

Babies: Assembly Required

You realize that the end goal is you becoming a competent and loving parent, but in order to become that, you need to go through so many confusing and trying steps.

That is what I realized that first night when she arrived.

I remember that the first night after she came out, when her mom was recovering and I was lying with her skin to skin on a makeshift couch bed, she was so tiny and so delicate.

I thought to myself:

“Oh sh*t, I have a daughter. Oh sh*t, I’m a dad now.”


That moment, I felt like everything that I had prepared myself for was useless.

Skin to Skin and Sing to Sing

I envisioned how I would be as a dad, and I envisioned how it would be like to have a baby. But when it finally happened, I never actually thought about process of become a dad.

Basically, for those first early moments, I just did stuff I saw on TV and movies.

Seriously, at one point in my hysterical mindset I thought, “Oh I must sing this song to her so that she’ll have an emotional attachment to it and be calm in the future whenever I sing”

I talked to her and told her how everything was going to be fine and life is going fantastic.

That was all a lie of course.

I mean can you imagine sleeping peacefully in a warm toasty bed only to be forced out to the cold winter streets – wet and naked?

I’d be pissed and freaked out.

For the rest of the night I remember her waking up and crying every one and a half hours. And I remember getting up each interval changing her diaper and bringing her to mom for feeding.

After the feeding I would put her in a loose swaddle and rock her so that she would fall asleep.

It Ain’t 5:05 In The Afternoon

All that crying. 

It sounded like they cross-bred one of those rubber chickens with a pterodactyl.

What a truly terrible sound.

I felt bad that she was crying and disturbing her mom, so I just started walking around the maternity ward shoeless with a tiny baby in circles.

At one point I even thought, maybe if I walk her over to the nurses desk, they’ll see how distraught I look and help me hold her for a bit.

Nope.

They just politely smiled and gave me a “your-wife-just-went-through-labour-and-you-better-hold-on-to-that-newborn-look.

Fair enough.

Basically I was so tired and overwhelmed, and I thought:

Shhhhhhh*t I have a daughter now, and thiiiis is how it’s going to be?


I really didn’t think it would be that hard.

But it was.

And it’s something that I’ll never forget.

Ever.

Of course things got better little by little as each day passed. And when we finally were discharged from the hospital, we felt relatively confident that we were able to do this.

And we were right.

As the weeks turned into months, and the months now became a year life is pretty sweet.

“Don’t drop baby, don’t drop baby.” 🙏😂

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on


As I write this, my daughter is quietly taking a morning nap, and last night I even slept for 7 hours!

Life is good right now.

Really good.

Yes, there still are tough days and tough nights. But nothing can measure up to that first night.

I think the experience I gained on that first night was exactly what I needed to prepare me as a dad.

And that’s the thing about becoming a parent, you can read all the books, go to the pre-natal classes, or talk to seasoned parents about their experiences. But when the moment comes and a life is gifted to you, you forget everything just learn on the fly.

And you’ll never forget. Ever.

Once assembled, babies are great.

 

A Dad’s Review of the FujiFilm X-T2: Great Camera, Also Great with Kids

Last month, I mentioned on my Instagram feed that I had a new toy to play around with.


Since then I wanted to take as much time as possible before writing this review.  Between the nighttime feeds, and the daytime emergency baths due to explosive poopy diapers, I’ve snuck in some hands on time with the new FujiFilm X-T2.

I’ve basically taken this camera with me wherever my daughter and I go – restaurants, supermarkets, walks, malls, you name it – it’s with me. To the annoyance of my wife, carrying it wherever we go meant stuffing an already overfilled diaper bag.

I’m also a very forgetful person, so to add insult to injury, there were some multiple times where we were all strapped in ready to go in the car, only to have me say…

“Hun, can you go in the house and get the camera??”

It’s not that I forced myself to take this camera out for this review or anything, I genuinely want to bring it out because it’s so fun to shoot with. Plus the fact that when you’re a parent, you need to multitask as much as possible; I learned that time is no longer on your side and you must combine leisure and work as much as possible.

I don’t think you realize how much free time you had prior to being a parent until you have kids. Thank goodness I can combine my photo taking hobby with my journey as a dad.

There just aren’t too many hobbies that are conducive to raising a baby…like say…..skydiving, or drag racing, or knife juggling, or watermelon tossing. 

Watermelon Tossing is pretty similar.

Actually…watermelon tossing might work…I mean they are roughly the same size and weight. Hmmmmm…

Before I digress any further, some of you may be wondering: “How did this guy get a chance to test out such a rad camera?”

Well, FujiFilm Canada stumbled upon my previous x100T review, reached out to me, and asked if I wanted to test drive their flagship mirrorless camera.

They saw that I was less that satisfied with the X100t’s autofocus. So they offered to let me test the new X-T2’s capabilities.

You see? If you work hard enough and complain about stuff objectively, sometimes the right people will listen.

(Dreams do come true kids!)

If you’re reading this you probably have your mind set on purchasing this camera anyways, but why not get a little more insight, perhaps a different perspective.

A Dad’s Perspective

 

Yep, we have a security system.

Unlike the other reviews that you’ve already read around the internet, this review is solely from the perspective of a parent who wants to use the X-T2 to take pictures of his kid. You probably do not need to be convinced that the X-T2 is a fantastic camera.

But the question here that I’ll try to answer is, “Is the FujiFilm XT2 good camera for kids?”

Let me start off by saying that I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review. I do not gain or lose anything from either praising or critiquing the FujiFilm X-T2.

As always for those who don’t like to read  essays, here’s the TL:DR version of this review:

If you have the money, get the camera and pick up a fast prime lens. The kit lens is a little slow in terms of focusing, but a fast prime lens would do you wonders when capturing your kid….and beyond.

For those who wants a little bit more detail, let me continue with talking about the autofocus.

Autofocus

Okay, so let me just start by saying when I was sent the camera I was provided not only the X-T2 camera and XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM kit lens, but I was also sent the (35mm equivalent) XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens.

I have to say, that I was not too impressed with the kit lens, in terms of capturing my moving blob of a daughter. I initially thought that I had it in the wrong lens settings or profile, but after checking all possible areas, I came to the conclusion that the kit lens was not providing what I needed for what I wanted to shoot.

I don’t want to discredit the lens, as it does work wonderfully for wide and landscape shots. It is a very capable lens for other tasks, but if you’re chasing a baby around with this camera, I would highly recommend shelling out the cash for a prime.

The Fuji colours straight out of the camera

Actually, I think you absolutely should pair this camera with a decent prime.

As I mentioned above, upon request FujiFilm sent me the XF23mm F/1.4 along with the X-T2. Most of my time with the camera had this lens mounted on it.

The combination of this lens and the X-T2 body is simply perfect. I won’t bore you with the specs and details, but what I will say is the image quality that this lens produces is simply fantastic. Combining that with the way the body processes the images, you get a wonderful combination.

Okay, enough gushing, how was the autofocusing?

I can happily say that it was on point, and accurate almost 90% of the time. As I also shoot with a Canon DSLR and their 50mm and 85mm prime lenses, I have a pretty good sense of how it feels to shoot with a camera that is able to autofocus properly. I am happy to say that the AF on the X-T2 felt just as good.

The sharpness of the XF23mm Lens

The X-T2 with the XF23mm lens is one incredible combination and is an exceptional pairing to take in focus shots of your constantly moving child.

Size and Handling

I think I have pretty average sized hands. While this camera is not as small as the Fuji X100T, it is still manageable when trying to shoot with one hand and strap. This is where we get into the Mirror vs. Mirrorless camera territory, and what I can say is, size and handling is really where a mirrorless camera shines over their mirrored counterpart.

Comparing it to my Canon 6D, when you think in terms of image quality per handling, the X-T2 is easier and smaller to handle.

Sizing up the two Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF23mm

With that in mind, (and with chasing around a kid), the smaller body size is certainly helpful. As parents, we really do need to grow another hand and arm, but until we’ve mastered appendage cloning, we need our tech devices to be as easy to handle as possible.

The FujiFilm X-T2 isn’t without it’s faults of course. At the end of the day, packing it away in a diaper bag can take up quite a bit of room. At least the x100T was fairly flat and rectangular going into a bag. With the X-T2, especially with a lens mounted presented some difficulty when we tried to close the bag.

Image Quality

As I already gushed about in the earlier parts of this review. The images this camera produces is simply incredible.

As a parent and photography fanatic, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to shoot with this camera. Some of the photos that I took with it will be future “keepers.”

At the end of the day, this is all that really matters: The photos.

I can go on about colours and megapixels, but simply as a dad I am so happy that I was able to capture great candid moments of my daughter that will now last a lifetime.

But I can happily say, as an Instagram user, not having to dump your photo through Snapseed and posting directly straight out of the camera is a time saver. And even when I process a photo, they are minor touch ups.

Video Capabilities

This is kind of a new area for me. But I was able to test of some of the 4K capabilities of the FujiFilm X-T2 and I must say that with the XF23mm F/1.4 lens mounted, I shot some pretty sweet footage. Again, with a quality lens you’ll get quality shots, and this is no different when shooting video.

Here’s a short clip I made of my kid sitting at a restaurant:

Conclusion

Okay I know what you’re thinking: for $3000 worth of camera gear, you better get everything you need in a camera and lens. The thing is the FujiFilm X-T2 with the XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens will fulfill most of your child taking photography needs. Having this camera to chase around my almost one year old daughter was an absolute pleasure.

The gripes that I had with the autofocus on the the x100T do not apply to the X-T2, but then again this combination of body and lens is twice the price of that camera. I had very little issues capturing my daughter as she was either crawling towards or away from me.

If you’re a parent who is solely using this camera and lens to take photos of your kid you will certainly not be disappointed.

With that said, only if you have the budget for it, I highly recommend getting the FujiFilm X-T2 and XF23mm F/1.4 prime lens as you will certainly not be disappointed.

 


I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing more XT-2 photos or my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.

 

Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. 🙂