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June 2011

Hawaiian Antiques

I was looking for something in mom's closet and found these awesome antiques! (Click all for bigger pictures.) Dig the old phone numbers and I wonder if any of the addresses still exist or if they are all big hotels now.



My grandmother must have made off with this next one. You can still stay at the Royal Lahaina resort, but I bet their hangers are not this cool.


Personally I love this one: Banzai! "We'll get your clothes clean or die trying" (okay I made that up and it's probably really wrong of me.)


Another nice Honolulu hanger:


Here's a bonus round quiz for you Honolulu folks: Name the store this came from!


Big Island Adventure With My Other Great Aunt

Wednesday night I flew to Kona to spend the night at my Auntie Martha's and to ask her the same questions I asked of Auntie Sally. (They are sister's-in-law so the stories I knew would be a bit different.) Auntie Martha is my grandmother's sister and the youngest of the four in her family. She's 90 but you would never guess it. And I realize I didn't take a photo of her! Mostly because we were talking so much and suddenly it was time to go and meet my stepmom for brunch on Thursday morning! I had to bolt.

Auntie Martha's stories were really good fun and I got great details. We also went down to her workroom where there are all the old photo albums from her childhood (she was born in 1920) and also her parent's (my great grandparents) albums. Amazing old photos from old Oahu and Kauai.

I love seeing Auntie Martha and I especially love being at her house above Kona. It's in the middle of their ranch land and is very quiet and dark at night. Excellent get-away and so beautiful. I take photos of it every time I go there! Let's take a tour, shall we? (As ever, click all photos for bigger if you like.)

Main house (Garage to left connected by the breezeway).


Guest house (Across the driveway from the house). It's two bedroom, one bath with a little kitchenette and a lanai on the back.


My room for the night. The other room is similar but blue. Cozy.


The bedside table had 5 gardenias in a vase. MMmmmmm that gorgeous smell just drifts you off to happy dreamland.


The main house is wrapped on three sides by huge lanais and every time I've visited, we only ever sit outside. This is where we talked on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. We did go into the kitchen to eat dinner Wednesday night. This lanai looks out to the front pasture and down onto Kona.


This is to the left of the above photo and faces the driveway.


This is the entry to the kitchen. We had lunch out here last October when Kurt and I came with my mom to A. Martha's 90th birthday.


There is an actual inside living room but I've never sat in it. I'm sure it gets used when the weather is really really bad. The green bed looking thing is either a punee or a hikie'e. Apparently a punee is moveable but a hikie'e is not.


The kitchen has a fabulous view.


The kitchen also holds a treasure - have you ever heard of a Brisker?? My grandmother had one too. It plugs in and keeps things crisp. It's where you store your crackers so they don't go stale in the humidity. No need for one in LA, but perfect for Hawai'i. I've never seen one except at my grandmother's and A. Martha's. Here is their website.


It was a great fun visit with Auntie Martha and hearing about her life in Honolulu as a teenager. She and Auntie Sally are true treasures and I'm so glad I spoke to them both and recorded our conversations!


Maui Adventure: Cock-a-roach Edition

Well, it took a week, but it happened. The GIANT creepy crawly in the shower! Here's the story:

There I am, happy after a lovely walk on this fine Maui morning, going to rinse off in the shower before the later morning adventure of going to the recycling center and Costco. Clothes are off and I reach into the shower (NEVER step into a shower naked in Hawai'i) and look in and there is what looks like a giant dead cockroach near the drain. Hmmmm. It's big so it will need at least two kleenexes to pick it up. Of course I have to yell out the door to my mom "Hey! There's a big dead cock-a-roach in the shower!" Mom laughs. So I go back to the shower with the kleenex and look in (still not stepping in) and huh, did that antenna move? I throw the kleenex on it and reach down and DAMN if that sucker doesn't have a second life and he's running for all he's worth!

So I shriek and yell back to my mom "IT'S NOT DEAD!!! NOW WHAT??" (such a mainland haole now). She goes to retrieve the kitchen tongs and hands them to me. "Use that." "How?" "To squish it then throw it in the toilet." I opt to keep the kleenex as part of the deal and while Mr. Two-Lives is hunkered in a corner, I throw the kleenex on him and reach down with the tongs and he RUNS!!!


Of course I'm laughing the whole time because it is quite funny that I'm naked and chasing after a giant cockroach with kitchen tongs.

But he's not going quietly so I consider the options. Option #1 - Mom! Bring me the bug spray! (so I can at least slow him down.) But then I figured toxic fumes + enclosed space ≠ good idea for a pregnant person. So Option #2 seemed better -- squirt shampoo on it to slow it down.

Shampoo squirted and he was covered in goo. Kleenex goes on, tongs grab hold, just enough squish to know it's toast and whip that buggah into the toilet and FLUSH!!!!!

Crisis over. But you bet your bippy that I let the water run a bit before stepping in to the shower. Who knows who else might be lurking in the drain!

Now for you doubters about how big this thing was -- I stopped long enough to get my camera.


Here's a close up. Each tile is a 4" by 4" tile. You do the math.


Honolulu Adventure Into History

ASallyPart of why I'm home in Hawai'i is to do some family history research and look at some historic buildings. I went to Honolulu last Friday and spent about an hour with my Auntie Sally. She is my grandmother's sister in law and she is 97! She is also hilarious and sharp as a tack. I tape recorded our conversation with specific questions I had for her about growing up in Honolulu in the 20's, 30's and 40's. She had some great stories, but nothing toooo dishy. (dang!)

After our nice visit, mom's friend Jackie (I've known her my whole life) picked me up and we went up to Nu'uanu to have a tour of the historic home called "Lihiwai". This was built in 1927-1929 for Territorial Governor George R. Carter. It is HUGE. There are 40 rooms and it's got three levels. It has been on the historic landmark register for a while (both Hawai'i and US) and was recently bought and is now being renovated. Another friend of mom's knows the owner and the architect so we got to come over and tromp through the place. It's been under renovation for quite a while now (about a year) so the visit was more about the scope and a few fun old details.

"Lihiwai" is two words: Lihi meaning 'near to' or 'at the edge of' and Wai meaing 'water'. Nu'uanu stream is right next to the house so "Lihiwai" is "near the water". Or in LA real estate parlance "Water Adjacent." You can read a bit more about the house here.

The estate used to be all alone among ten acres, but the land was sold off over the years, as were parts of the buildings on the estate. There is the main house, the guest house and the garage. The guest house and garage were sold away seperately years ago. The new owner was able to buy back the guest house but not the garage, which is too bad.

Here is the front of the house with the curving wall that used to be the porte-cachere. It attached to the garage building in a lovely curve way back when.

Here is the garage building to the left of the main house (now it's a private residence.)


Here is a sketch by Huc Luquiens from the 1930's on how it onced looked:

To see more fabulous Luquiens sketches and artwork of Hawai'i, click here.

We walked in the house via the lanai (not the grand entry way). The giant living room opens right out onto this spot (doors on the left) so think of the amazing inside/outside parties.


In the dining room, the original details and colors are still there. The details will hopefully remain, but the colors, probably not!


I would kill to have this as a breakfast room! (I would kill to *have* a breakfast room!) That's Jackie posing with the hot wheels being stored inside!


When you come into the foyer, you are met with the grand staircase. (Sorry I didn't get Jackie in for scale, but trust me it's grand.)


There being three levels (basement, first and second) of course you would need an elevator! And of course it would have to have the theme colors...


We went down to the basement next and the very nice construction foreman gave us a HUGE flashlight as all the lights were not on down there. The place was HUGE and stored tons of stuff.

There were old giant electrical panels that looked right out of a Frankenstein movie. (Hard to get a good pic as there was a mesh fence surrounding it and it was dark.)


Some of the storage had the original bath fixtures...oh those colors!


We went back upstairs and to the second floor. Lots of space for servants to live as well as big family living spaces. There were TONS of closets -- linend and otherwise and all were lined with cedar. And that cedar was still going strong.


There was, of course, the upstairs lanai. Doors opened from bedrooms out to it. Except for some trees, there is a pretty nice view down to the ocean. (To the right of this picture.)

We also noticed a really really cool feature of the old iron windows: sliding pocket screens! Windows closed - no unsightly screen to mar the view. Windows open - the screens slide out to protect from mosquitos and what have you. The ones we tried were pretty much frozen. I hope they fix them!


Other details around the place were prett cool. Most of the rain spouts had this decoration on them:


But this was my favorite -- a light fixture out by the guest quarters. There are lighbulbs behind it. It was the only one we saw like it.


I hope when the house is done (in a couple of years) we get to go back and tour it again!

Later Jackie and I had lunch at the Outrigger Canoe Club -- it's right on the beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki. Very old school Honolulu. I didn't take a photo because I was famished and we were yakking and yakking.

Then we popped up to Jackie's house for a minute and I got to see her spectacular view. I mean holy cow and wow! If you don't recognize Diamond Head from this angle, that's the back of it. Waikiki is to the right. (She's having work done on the deck, hence the guy...)


To the left of the above view:


Just amazing. (You can click all images to make them bigger.)

Friday was a fun day and I look forward to going back to Honolulu to look at more big old houses and get more history. I love my home state!






Quick Thoughts For Your Hawai'i Vacation

1) When staying with friends and/or family, remember to open bathroom cabinet doors and drawers slowly and don't reach in immediately. This is Hawai'i and you never know what kind of creepy crawly might be waiting to exit said cabinet. Especially if said cabinet has not been opened in while! (Luckily this has not been an issue for me--yet.)

2) Why do I bother to blow dry and style my hair like I would at home in LA? As the tradewinds and humidity take their toll, it's as if I just stepped out of the shower and let it air dry anyway...!! I forget how much wave I have in my hair until I get home!


So Yeah, The Pregnancy Thing!

In which I will talk about what's been going on with the pregnancy -- not too many gory details, I promise, but it still might be TMI for some of you. But hey, it's my life and I'm going to write about it and I haven't been able to for MONTHS! You must understand how hard that is for a blogger!

Also, this blog post might be TLDR for some of you... I understand. (TLDR= Too Long Didn't Read.)

There is so much on the internet about being pregnant. I mean, honestly, wow. Some of it is very helpful, some not so much. Everyone gets to do it differently, that is the most important thing to remember.

First I'd like to dispel a myth about us being pregnant. It's a myth I'm way more sensitive to since we started the adoption process: We did not get pregnant just because we started the adoption process. Yes, there are many stories about people adopting (or who are in the process) and then getting pregnant. But in the last year and a half I've met many people who have adopted or are waiting to adopt who have not been able to get or stay pregnant. When you meet someone who is adopting, try not to tell them "oh you'll adopt and then get pregnant, it happens all the time." I know I'm guilty of having said this in the past. It stings.

We are fortunate (knock wood) that things happened this way and so far so good. I believe the real reason we got pregnant is because an egg made it's way down my fallopian tube and was met by a sperm and they hooked up just at the right time. It's called biology. It took two years to get here and surprisingly it did not require any medical intervention at all. I think my body finally clued into what we were trying to accomplish and got the factory slowly cranked up to produce. Sadly there was a false start last December.

And because of that miscarriage, the first trimester was quite stressful. When you've had a miscarriage and you are 44, it's hard not to prepare for another. But at the same time you just keep moving forward because it could work out just fine. Or not. But probably fine. Maybe. It's scary. Does my back hurt just because my muscles are stiff or is that cramps before a miscarriage??

May was then really stressful because that's when I started spotting and was scheduled for the CVS test. (More on that later.) This was about week 9 1/2. (My miscarriage had been at week 11.) Went to the doctor, all looked just fine, blood work and progesterone levels were perfect. She ordered bed rest and I did so. I'm so grateful that I didn't have to be at a job just then.

A week later, the spotting was reduced, and then we went to get the CVS. CVS = Chorionic Villus Sampling. When you are of "Advanced Maternal Age" or AMA (35 years and older) getting genetic testing on the fetus is recommended (but not required) to see if your dusty old eggs have left out any chromosomes. The test will show if there is Down Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. Most of us have a 95% chance of it being totally normal, especially if there is no family history of any knod of genetic abnormality. I know two women who were AMA who have perfect kids and they both opted not to do the CVS test. I was on the fence because there is also a slight chance of miscarriage as a result of the test. But very slight. But when you've had a miscarriage, that chance seems HUGE.

One of the pros of getting the CVS test is that you get it between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. If the results are very bad, there is still time to decide if you want to terminate the pregnancy. This is a decision so intense that I'm really glad we didn't have to make it. Kurt and I discussed the procedure and I called a friend who I suspected might have had it, but she hadn't. So we forged ahead. I do like to have all the information in front of me, so it made sense to have the test.

And we live in Los Angeles which means we were referred to one of the leading experts of this procedure. That is Dr. Williams at Cedars. He's done tens of thousands of these over the last 25 years. We were in good hands. But first you wait. They warn you that you may have to wait a few hours, but the procedure itself takes mere moments. We settled in at the Prenatal Center at Cedars and Kurt was so stoked to find out they have snacks and juice for all the expectant moms. I grabbed a few for him. Hey, he's expecting too!

For a full description of what a CVS procedure is all about, click here.

They call us in and we go through my medical history, blood pressure, etc. Then the sonographer comes in to do measurements and check the wee one's position to better prepare the doc for the CVS. Kurt and I had already seen the wee little smudge and heartbeat on the gyno's sonogram about three weeks earlier. But this sonogram was awesome! First of all they have HUGE monitors that are super hi-resolution so watching is easy. The sonographer has her monitor then there is another up on the wall so we, me reclined in the chair, Kurt sitting next to me, have a perfect view. So she gets the image going and damn if there isn't a little, almost (but not quite) baby looking thing in there. AND IT'S WIGGLING AROUND LIKE CRAZY! HOLY SHIT! Kurt and I are quiet while the sonographer points out feet and hands and umbilical cord, then she takes measurements, prints up a couple pictures for us, then leaves. Kurt and I look at each other and go "DUDE! That was crazy!!"

Then the doc and a nurse come in and we all prep for the procedure. I asked about his background with this procedure and he tells us the history of it, then tells us his experience and practice and then we start talking about Hawaii and pretty soon the whole thing is done and it didn't take long at all. In fact, the general prep on my cervix, etc, took longer than the cell collection itself. Cool. DONE! He and the nurse gave me the post procedure instructions, what to expect, etc, and we left.

More bedrest. And all this bedrest is in the lying down position, not just off your feet. So I couldn't sit up and use the computer. Mostly I lay on the couch and watched tv or I read. I was allowed to get up and pee but that was all for the first 24 hours. Then three days of taking it really easy. I basically kept myself on modified bed rest just out of pure nervousness. Spotting was expected, post procedure, as the test was done vaginally (sometimes they do it through the abdomen.) But after five days I was still spotting so I went to the OB at my gyno's office and she said more bedrest and let's check the progesterone. Progesterone was good, but she said to take progesterone supplements (vaginal suppositories, yay! Oy.) for a week. That seemed to do the trick and the spotting was gone. But that was three weeks of bedrest. It's hard and I can't imagine women who have to do it for months. Much respect.

With the CVS you can get results back normally in two weeks or you can pay extra ($400) to get express results in three days. please, I'm scared shitless! The procedure was done on a Tuesday (my week 10 mark) and I was expecting a call on Friday. Thursday afternoon I got a voice mail message saying "This is the prenatal center and we have good news, call us!" And the nice lady said all was perfect.

Now, since this test is all about genetics, they also know the the sex. But we didn't want to know. Being in the first trimester there is still a greater chance of miscarriage and we didn't want to connect to a boy or girl yet. So we waited.

In the meantime I found a new OB/GYN who I really like. At my previous doctor's office, there were gynecologists, but they were not OB's. Because of the early spotting, I saw the OB at the same office. She's fine, but was more of a default for the time. I wanted to find someone I really connected with and I did through a good friend's recommendation. Bonus points: the doctor is about 12 minutes from our house, in Beverly Hills. It is just her and another OB/GYN in practice. The office is relaxed and everyone is really nice. Easy parking and not a lot of waiting around. They deliver at Cedars Sinai, which is about 20  minutes from our house, max. All very good!

Finally at my OB check up at 13 1/2 weeks, we asked for the sex and found out it's a girl. Then we started telling people over Memorial Day weekend and are now public!

Whew! Okay that is some of the story of Mai Tai Frey off my chest. It's been so hard not to write about things as they happened.

There is plenty more to come -- things like fruit comparisons and unexpected things your body does when pregnant. Stay tuned!





Hawaiian Vocab For Today: Hapai

Hapai means "Pregnant" and that is what I am!

So now you know why it's been a bit quiet around here these last three months. Things were a bit stressful. (I'll save that for another blog post.) Also you might have noticed I stopped tracking my weight. Now you know I didn't just succumb to my love for pizza and ice cream!

It's almost 4 months now and all is well. It's a girl and she's due around Thanksgiving. We are working on names, but that will be withheld until the wee one arrives later this year. For now we refer to her at Sweet Potato Frey. (Thanks to Grace!)

I thought about posting a photo of me showing my "bump" but honestly? My "bump" just looks like my belly with too much lunch in it at the moment -- not that impressive or interesting! I also thought about posting a sonogram photo from about 13 1/2 weeks, but if you've ever seen one, that's what ours looks like. You can google "baby sonogram 15 weeks" and you'll see what ours looks like!

We are still on the adoption lists and will continue with that process as my eggs and I are not getting any younger.

The secret is now revealed! We are excited and happy though it's mostly a bit unreal still. I know that will change soon. More to come as things progress...