Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oahu: TuTu's Burial

My TuTu is buried at Puowaina Punchbowl Crater National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a cemetery in the crater of an extinct volcano on the Hawaiin Island of Oahu that was used first for the victims of Pearl Harbor, which my TuTu witnessed. She is buried with my grandfather, near the front entrance, the red circle you see in the lower left area of the photo above. In the background are the buildings of Waikiki and the extinct volcano Diamond Head.

The cermony was brief and a balmy breeze blew like a caress on my skin. I swear I could feel my TuTu in that breeze. Directly after, the lightest mist of a rain you can imagine fell, something that is considered very good to a Hawaiian. It was very hard to feel sad when surrounded by such beauty. Pictures do not even come close to doing it justice.

TuTu and Pa's (what we called our grandfather) grave has a plumeria tree above it so it always smells absolutely heavenly. Below is a picture of what they look like on the tree. It's a sort of bare tree at this time of year, like magnolias when they are bare. The scent of these flowers is my favorite scent in the whole wide world, followed the the smell of fresh basil.

I wore the muumuu my TuTu bought for me, years ago, on the day of her funeral.

This cemetery doesn't allow anyone near the grave when the casket is placed in it and buried so we came back the next day to place flowers and visit the graves of other family members.

This is the next day, me, sitting in the plumeria tree, where TuTu often sat to talk to her husband on their anniversary. She never missed a year in 18 years.

Also in this cemetery is an area showing the names of all the unknown soldiers lost in Pacific campaigns. There are 71 steps, for the 71 Pacific military campaigns fought, leading up to the statue of the mother, who represents the weeping mothers who lost their sons. Beneath is a quote from a letter from President Lincoln to a mother who lost four sons in the Civil War. The letter is on display at Cambridge University, I believe, as an example of the finest use of the English language. I've left this image rather large so that when you click on it, you can read it easily.

My plane was delayed four hours, but we weren't told until we got to the actual GATE! Fortunately, my cousins were at Waikiki, or just at the Diamond Head end of it, and came back to the airport when my Aunty called them to tell them. We stopped at Walmart and I bought a bathing suit and was able to swim. I was so glad. It didn't feel right leaving the island without cleansing myself in the Pacific Ocean.

This beach was right up against the War Memorial Natatorium, a memorial pool that filled with ocean water that my TuTu spent years compaigning to save and restore because it is a memorial and she was a lifeguard there. The goverment let it fall into ruin. Even last Memorial Day 2007, TuTu gave a speech there at the annual ceremony. One of my cousins will be taking over giving the speech this year and swore to take up the cause in TuTu's place. This view is from the outer wall looking in. Yes, I did take my digital camera into the water for this shot and the following one.

Last, this shot of my cousin's children, who are absolutely aloha children. It didn't take me long to realize that my little daughter will fit right in with her cousins, looking more like them than me. My cousin's wife said that they are probably not done having children which made me super happy since that means Apple might have a cousin around her age.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy Hat Dance

My Aunty is in town as we are leaving tomorrow for Hawaii for my grandmother's burial. It's taken this long because she's being buried in the national cemetery at Punchbowl, where my grandfather was laid to rest, and they don't do burials on weekends or holidays and this was the soonest they could do it. I'll return Sunday.

Tonight we shopped for my aunty's grandchildren who live in Hawaii, and when we got to Babies R Us, this outfit I've been wanting and saw yesterday at full price, finally was on sale. Bad news, it wasn't in the size I wanted, but, the far away store did have it. I had it put on hold and we raced down, 25 miles or so, and while there, I also checked out the sale racks, then the sale accessories rack. Then I saw it... The hat that I knew had to exist that matches the outfit with the white overalls and ribbon embroidery. I was so excited! It wasn't as much as that I got the hat, butt hat my designer instincts told me that one had to exist, and it did! It's quite cute. I'll post a picture later and one of the new outfit when I return.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Now Leaving the Biological Perspective...

Last October I posted this about when my due dates would be if I was pregnant when I had my first agency appointment or from when my dossier was logged in with CCAA. Well, if I'd conceived on my LID date, today would be my due date. Two weeks from now, when I'd be considered by western doctors to be "over due," I will finally have left any semblance of human biological procreation, at least in the time-line department. I feel like I should have a sign that reads, "Caution: Now entering the Elephant Stage."

Interestingly enough, I often wear my hair braided like this Midge doll.

This Midge is THE controversial pregnant Midge doll whose belly, complete with a little baby inside, attaches to a flat tummy with magnets. I often played that my Barbies were pregnant and had to use cotton balls up a loose jumper dress to make them look pregnant. I didn't really play out the birth part because I didn't know much about it beyond where the baby came out. The controversy among the "attachment" parenting group was that they didn't want their children to believe birth was as easy as removing a plastic tummy, or, they felt it supported and/or encouraged cesareans.

Well, my daughter will get to play with pregnant Midge, her husband Alan, their son and grandparent dolls along with a ton of little kid Barbies of all sizes, boys and girls and other adult Barbies, also ethnic ones, that make up a whole realistically representative Barbie world community. I was even thinking that I have enough little kid Barbies that my daughter could even play "orphanage" if she thinks of it, and that it'd be a good way to find out what she thinks and feels about it by how she plays it out.

January Sales Final Fashion Show

This set is from 2 different Babies R Us, the brand is Koala Kids. They have good clothing sales even though the quality isn't the highest. The first store had the overalls and jacket and the second had the blouse (bodysuit), socks and bib. The sweater and top are 100% cotton and the overalls are 70% cotton / 30% polyester soft knit cord. I bought all the pieces in size 12 months except the jacket which is size 18 months so it'd fit comfortably over everything.

All of this is from the Carter's Outlet. The yellow dress in the middle also has little panties. All are size 9 months, but rather large. This store allows unlimited returns, even if the items have been washed and are two years old. I will not remove the tags and will keep the receipt, until I get my referral, in case I do return them. I figure I'll bring these to China as the Guangzhou outfits. In China everything given to the laundry service is washed in very, very hot water. I won't mind if these things get washed and, perhaps, ruined a bit, by washing in such hot water, but I wouldn't risk it with my nicer brand stuff. I have jackets and sweaters already that I'll add to this when I pack.

Of course, I don't know what province Apple will be coming from, or what season it will be, so don't know what I'll be bringing for the first week's worth of clothing.

I Finally Understand Retail Therapy

It's what I did for one week straight to keep my mind occupied with happy thoughts and keep my mind off grieving, which hits me off and on in quiet moments. I had to go by the mortuary to finish up some paperwork today concerning my grandmother and felt great going in, but the smell of the airfresheners is torture for me and just being there triggered something and as I left, my grief came up a bit.

The post-holiday sales have been phenomenal, I had no idea! Old Navy had the best deals, not necessarily the best quality, but a discerning shopper can really make out well there. Here's a list of the places I hit:

Old Navy - 3 different ones
Gymboree - 2
Nordstrom Rack
Carter's Outlet
Target - 2
Children's Place

I didn't set out deliberately to go to several different Old Navy stores or Target stores, but they are everywhere so if I was at, say Mervyn's, then I went into the Old Navy nearby. If I was at Carter's, I went next door to Old Navy.

I have been having a feeling that I needed to buy smaller things, so at the Carter's outlet today I bought 9 months sizes, which are still rather large, even accounting for shrinkage. I can return the items at any time if I change my mind, even two years from now, even if I've washed them. However, I'm leaving the tags on everything so I can return or eBay them, if needed, once I get my referral. I was buying at Carter's mostly with Guangzhou's hot, humid weather in mind. I'll post pictures later.

Oh, I wouldn't have gone to Carter's except I'm on the email list and have been receiving coupons for a few months now and figured I'd use one. Same with my very first Gymbucks, made me go back for more. Yes, the marketing experts at Gymboree are good.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Found This Advice Stopper

For all the moms who are sick and tired of insensitive or just plain nosey or ignorant comments and advice, here's something new to try:

It can be purchased in pink or blue HERE.

Been Shopping - Love Those Sales!

Whenever I go to the store, I always look at the baby things and this time, being Christmas and New Year, the sales were fantastic! I had no idea because I usually shop for used things. All the things in the photos look better if you click on them and view them larger.

It's amazing how my taste has changed now that I'm shopping for a little Asian girl instead of a Caucasian. I'm definitely more into reds and a little more funkiness. I have rather classic tastes but have always loved the European bright colors and playfulness.

I also bought some things for my sister, who is having her first child, a boy, in April. I won't post them until next month, after her shower, in case she reads this.

This first set will be coming to China with me unless my daughter is very tiny. I'm so glad to have found a panda themed set that I adore. It's from Gymboree and it was on sale, but only the first round of discounts, so I still paid quite a lot. I earned a lot of Gymbucks, though, so I'll be going back in a week. This is also the first blanket I've bought for my daughter.

The next two pictures are things from Mervyn's. The brown pants and floral top are a generous size 24 months. The stripey legging sets have an 18m top and size 12m and 18m leggings. The pants seem to always run big compared to the tops so I was sure to cover myself. The knit pieces in these two sets were $4.99 and $5.99 and the brown pants were around $8.

Target was my next shopping stop after seeing the following things on one of my daycare kids. I got them in size 18m and another white sweater and heart top in size 5. The Gymboree pants from the panda set actually go great with the heart top. The pants have tiny multi-colored dots going around the ankle of the legs. This top also looks great with jeans and an assortment of leggings.

Favorite Tree Ornaments

As promised earlier, here, finally, are some pictures of my favorite ornaments and my tree at night. This was the first year my tree was by the window and it made photographing it very difficult regardless of the light.

My ultimate favorite is my flocked mouse. I've had it for years and I'm in love with its darling expression. The doll I made years ago by hand on a flight to Germany. The egg ornaments are ones I made by blowing out the insides of real eggs and using ribbon, glue, paint like puff paint, and a motif cut from fabric.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Universal Shift

I feel like the universe has turned 180 degrees around. Life as I know it has ceased to exist. The rut I've lived in for 15 years is gone and now nothing in my life is at all predictable. It began with small tremor when my White died almost three years ago and finished with a huge shift with TuTu's passing. It's not a positive or negative thing, it's just the way it is now. I feel it does have something to do with preparing for my daughter's entry into this world and into my life, but I can't begin to say how and I know that's only a small part of it.

Please pray for me and my aunty as we prepare to attend TuTu's funeral on January 25, and also for my aunty that she will be able to be surrounded by peace as she attends to TuTu's estate. I won't post details, but all is not peaceful and loving in my family and there is potential for great hurt concerning this.

I am slowly getting into a new routine, daily work with the children, which is natural and easy, catching up on New Conceptions work, which is taxing on my brain, fencing, which was hysterically funny yesterday when, at my lesson, I could hardly remember anything and felt stiff and clumsy. Granted, it's been a month since I've fenced, but I've got over 6 years experience. Fortunately, my coach understood and didn't mind having to reteach me. I'm sure it will come back to me once I can focus again.

I've been in touch with my agency just to bring myself back into focus on the practical aspects of Apple's adoption. There's nothing for me to do for several months, and then I'll have to renew my CIS paperwork.

I plan to use fabric from some of TuTu's clothing in my 100 Good Wishes Quilt and will make some baby clothes from some of them, too. I'll be sure to post before and after pictures.

I am grieving, but in a healthy way. It's in my quiet moments, like driving my car, when my mind is less occupied, that my thoughts turn to TuTu and I miss her. I've decided what to do with the few items of her clothing that are here. I'm going to use some in my 100 Wishes Quilt and use others to make some outfits for my daughter. I'll be sure to post before and after pictures. I admit that I've been avoiding people who will "put their condolences all over me" with hugs and tears. I'm very grateful to all the emails and comments I've received from all of you and my closest friends. I share a special bond with all of you. Your words have touched me deeply and I re-read them now and again and feel good. I'm grateful to be a part of such a wonderful online community.

Friday, January 4, 2008

My TuTu Died

My TuTu passed away early this morning (Jan. 3) in her sleep. I was sleeping right beside her on the bed and didn't know it until I suddenly awoke this morning several minutes before my alarm was due to go off. It took me a few minutes to be sure she'd died because she looked so peaceful and had good color and was warm, but then I knew she was gone.

I'm so happy for her that she's finally with family and friends she's not seen in a long time, my dear grandfather, her son who was killed in the Korean Conflict, her parents and sisters, etc...

I spent a quiet day calling people and making arrangements as needed. My Aunty drove up from Fresno and was with me shortly after noon. I didn't move TuTu until she arrived and then after some time we changed her clothes from her pretty nightgown to what TuTu called her "travelling clothes," black slacks and a velour top she loved to wear.

It wasn't until 5pm that I was ready to let her go. For me, the hardest part was letting strangers come and take her away, but they were a nice couple, LDS as a bonus, and they came in a white van. They put the gurney just inside my front door and said they'd carry her out and place her on it but my Aunty had suggested earlier that she and I carry TuTu out ourselves. (My apartment hall is too small to allow the gurney to fit through to the bedroom.) So, Aunty and I carried TuTu out and placed her on the gurney and wrapped her gently in a white sheet and placed a pretty burgandy velour quilted canopy over her. It had rained earlier but there was a break between storms when TuTu had to go. I helped wheel her to the van and get her inside which eased me a lot, like I was sending her on the first leg of her journey rather than feeling she was being "taken".

On Saturday, I'll go and dress her with the help of a cousin. It's particulary nice to note that TuTu will be wearing a white dress that my Aunty sewed. I thought it perfect that she will be buried in a dress her daughter made with her own two hands, stitched with love and care.

I'm doing very well. I'm sad and already missing her, of course, but I'm happy for her, that she's passed beyond this world and into the next. I'm very, very glad to have had this magical time with her these last couple weeks, feeling pure love like never before.