Hmong

Nou & Soua’s Baby Shower

So excited and yes – definitely can’t wait for Soua and Nou’s baby. The baby’s due in February so yesterday we had a baby shower for them. I got them a diaper bag and filled it with goodies and boy did I have a ball when I had to go out and shop for the baby. Made me all “mommy” happy, so I can imagine how crazy I will go when it’s my turn (in the far future).

There were games and more and then into the night we started talking about the Hmong women in town and how it would be great to have a small group since we need each other in more ways then we can imagine. So it is – we’re starting a group. A part of the group will consist of a sewing Saturday (for the most part I can make unless I have a wedding), and the other part is a small membership fee that will just ultimate go to use for paying for the misc. things that we need for the holiday parties we always throw. Can’t wait for 2010!

The 2009-10 Hmong Missoula New Year Celebration was a Blast

I’d like to thank this year’s sponsors again for their support. NorthWestern Energy, Jim & Mary’s RV Park, Rick’s Autobody, Thai Spicy, Missoula Cultural Council, Nkauj Ntsuab Designs & Photography, and Pure Trophies. Without their support, the event wouldn’t have been possible. Visit http://hmongmissoula.com for more information on the Hmong people and our sponsors for this year’s event.

Behind the scenes; every member, whether young or old, of the Hmong Missoula community also donated $5 for the celebration. $5 goes a long way, it helped pay for the food and drinks for the event. That’s the super cool thing about any Hmong community all around the world, there’s this deep connection between everyone that draws us close to each other no matter what. On top of the donations, everyone volunteered their time in many creative ways to help make the event possible too and I’m just so grateful to be apart of such a supportive community. I will say that I had my doubts in the beginning because things weren’t getting done but a lot of that had to do with my own planning but the follow through the Hmong community was awesome.

I want to say thanks to all those who attended and made the celebration a warm and welcoming event. I will say that any event will seem dull if there are not many attendees and boy was I blown away. It was kind of cute how (yes) I assigned several Hmong teens to head up a “ball tossing crew” who had to be there in the Hmong clothing as a mandate and toss ball. And by doing so several other people showed up and joined in the ball toss games; so definitely a note worth taking down for future planners.

The food was amazing! I think my favorite unique dish this year was the pumpkin curry. I didn’t get to thank my brother-n-laws for the big game meat they donated during the ceremony but yes, I wanted to thank Lue Yang for his elk meat to make the Laj and Chia Yang for his moose meat to make the stir fry. Yum yum.

Now on to more exciting highlights about the celebration itself… Blown away by all the performances planned for this year. For those of you who didn’t stay until the fashion show and a little after – you missed out on some of the best performances. Yes, all of the performances were fun and very creative but I’d like to personally say that I enjoyed the fashion show and the Missoula Hmong Line Dancers. Those two groups were made up of older Hmong couples in the Missoula community and it was a wonderful sight to see because they definitely put a lot of effort into putting it together because they had to work around all their schedules and all their children’s schedule.

 The entertainment for the evening was provided by the party people from Thai Spicy and boy I just could not thank them enough. They were really the life and backbone of the whole day with being the sound guys in the morning into being the music guys in the evening. I didn’t even have to worry about anything because they had it covered from dedications to the dj mixes for the youth and the Lao/Hmong music for the oldies.

 Last but certainly not the least, Kou Moua – Art Director at the Missoula Independent was our Master of Ceremonies for the celebration and he did an amazing job. Many people think it’s an easy job to be an Emcee but not for the Hmong New Year, this person had to coordinate all that they said into a formation where both Hmong and American people could understand them. Bravo!

 We ended out night a little earlier than usual but it was just perfect. The party til midnight thing that we’ve done several years in a row just got people tired and running home so this year Ber and I decided to end it at 10:30 to 11 and that was just perfect. Everyone was still there to see the close and help clean up. It was kind of like just giving them enough and having them want more!

 No I will not consider running next year’s new year celebration. Thanks for asking but I have to now focus on flourishing Nkauj Ntsuab Designs & Photography, if that’s the correct way of saying it. AND I’d also want to give this great opportunity and experience to someone else.

 Now – I have some tallying up to do and some last loose ends to tie before I hand it over to the hosts of next year’s event but look forward to seeing what will happen next year! *_^ tired.

See more photos of the Hmong Missoula New Year Celebration 2009-2010 here.

some of my memories of my pog koob (great grandmother)

…pog koob gave birth to my grandfather who married my pog (grandmother) who gave birth to my father who then married my mommy who gave birth to me.

if it wasn’t for this string of events, there would be no me. she is the eldest living person to stand in the family family tree. she has seen her own children and some of their children die by the hands of war and have lived to see change beyond her mind could have ever imagine. i believe is to be about 112 or somewhere in her hundreds but i could be wrong, the elders do not know for sure, the youngers just do not know, and she can only tell that she was born in the harvest season because back in that time, time wasn’t a big matter. as long as there was enough to harvest that year, her parents were happy… and they were most happy of course that the harvest season also brought them a child. the old way of life was simple, that’s why the call the war “the time when the world exploded” (lub sij hawm ua teb chaws tawg).

pog koob was always full of live and always willing to lend a hand even though she wasn’t needed. i remember as a child that she would come and offer to help out on the preparations of many things like the food, helping clean, watching us children, and more – even though she didn’t need to. i remember eating her sweet ncuav (rice patties) made from sticky rice. i remember her sweet smile as she would tell us stories of her days. i do not remember the stories. i was too young for one and careless of the world aside from myself for two.

she was perhaps in her 90′s as we continually visited through out the later years of my life when my family had relocated to new york, and later colorado. my grandfather’s brothers still live in california with pog koob, and we made it back often to see them for the Hmong new year celebrations. i remember even in her 90′s, like i said, she would wake up early in the morning and cook us breakfast. she was a healthy little old lady.

upon visiting her, she would smile and greet all of us great grand children by name. she was never forgetful. ‘mis ntsuab, koj tuaj los. ohh, ua cas koj loj zoo nkauj ua luaj li lawm os..’ she would say, and of course say the same thing to my sisters and so on. i remember one time i was in rush to head out to the new year and she insisted i stayed for breakfast and eat some of her ncuav. i am guilty because i threw half of one away because i was in such a hurry. i regret not finishing it now.

when she’d heard news that my husband and i were getting married she flew all the way out to colorado for the tshoob even though she didn’t have the strength. i took a couple of pictures with her then but those were all lost in the hard drive crash of 2008. i know… what a horrible fate. it’s ok, the memory is all that matter. i remember that pog ntxawg and pog koob were on thier way to the house when i was still getting ready at one of ber’s cousin’s house and they insisted to stop by because they knew they wouldn’t see me until later. so i met them outside in the car… pale old pog koob, just smiling to see me dressed up in my hmong cloths and as a beautiful naim tsev to be. i gave her a big hug and she patted me on the back and said “kuv zoo siab heev rau koj os mi ntsuab. koj mus ua tau neej zoo lawm ces kuv zoo siab heev.”

i don’t want to say it but.. i think i may have been her favorite (ahaha). i know there are the other great grand kids that live in cali with her and the grand kids too who she may spend more time with through the last years but i know that she never forgets me and her gesture for showing up to my tshoob is more than any great grand child can ask for. it was a joke that i use to say to her during our visits to california as a teenager. i would talk to pog koob and say “koj mus tsis tau qhov twg nawb… nco tsoom tias koj tseem tau tuaj saib kuv thaum kuv yuav txim nawb..” and she would reply “kuv yeev tsis mus os, tos kom koj mus ua tau neej lawm tso mas..” and smile. she did. she lived up to her promise of coming to my tshoob.

one time during our visits to cali, my little niece had come along with my brother and sisternlaw as well and we took perhaps one of the most amazing pictures. i just have to find it some where but it was a picture of my pog koob, my pog (my father’s mother who now has returned to laos), my mother, my sisters, my sisternlaw, and her daughter. it wasn’t professionally done or anything, just a family point and shoot (film.. so if i can’t find the photo, will just have to find the film… so thankgoodness it didn’t get lost in the hard drive crash). but it was still just so amazing to have 5 generations under one roof.

pog koob blessed a couple of sisceebs (the strip ribbons that go around the black turbans that hmong women wear) for all her grand daughters and great grand daughters a couple of years back and said that it would bring us good luck and fortune and for us to hold on to them. every time i stumbble upon it in my “big box of sweet memoirs” i always think of her. reminds me of my mommy’s mom. she left us in 2006 and for good luck a golden dollar was blessed at her funeral for us to keep too. everytime i run across it, i think of her too. i’ve been beginning to think that i should get a bigger fire safety box so that i can throw some of the more precious things like that in it instead of that old shoe box. hehe.

[deep sigh] i’ve just been worried about pog koob since i heard the news that she got a stroke and is left with her whole left side paralyzed and is now laying in the hospital. i can’t help but wonder what will happen next and i don’t want her to go but i know that that decision is not mine. i just keep praying that she is well and that perhaps ber and i could still go visit. my father just visited this past weekend and called me yesterday to let me know that she’s doing better than when it first happened but is not at all well. please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

this is my memoir of the happy days with pog koob. the only picture i could find tonight (not that much searching effort and i know i do have more) that i posted with this post is of pog koob when i was seven. we took this photo with a series of other photos to keep as a memory because that was when my family left california to head to new york. she is a strong woman. good night and good thoughts. kuv hlub koj os pog koob.

IF – legendary

Hmong girl. Random white hmong outfit. Legendary? Well not really – just her form and the way her cloths swirl around her body makes it look magical.

Hand drawn with pen. scanned. i haven’t had much inspiration to color and not much time because of the many events coming up but i sure will touch it up more once i get the chance. for now, enjoy.

44 for life long change!

Obama’s inauguration speech was amazing. Although I didn’t do the research, a girlfriend of mine from work said that from what she’d read about Obama, he is a writer too and that his speech writer and himself collaborated on the things to speak about. That’s kindda cool to hear since I know that many people in those ranks rely solely on a speech writer to write their pieces. I think that if there’s one thing I can’t really stand about a man in power is one that doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Not speaking about anyone in particular but hey – even my husband leans on me. I wish that sometimes he would learn from his speech mistakes and try not to repeat them… that and grammatical errors… that’s a big pet peeve of mine.

OooOo, you know what eles I think is super cool is that the inauguration happened the day after MLK’s birthday. This is such a memorable day in history. Many years from now (the same way you have grandmas or elders tell you about where they were at during the death of JFK) we can share with our children where we were in this date in history. Of course – mine wasn’t that interesting but on it’s own scale – it is. Since the only TV in the building was down in the news room – instead of trying to steal what bandwidth was still available to view cnn.com – we all stood by and watched in the newsroom. I hope that we don’t have to count that towards our pto?? hehehe… It’s ok – I think his speech was only like some 18 min long so I can just take a shorter lunch later or tomorrow.

Which by the way – back to my point about MLK day. What is up with that? Many people don’t celebrate it anymore, or that I see. When I was growing up in California – we had some great celebrations for the day and even back in New York when I lived there. When I moved to Colorado and now that I’m older I have come into crowds where I will sing “We shall over come” at rallys and what not and no one would know the words… I wonder why the mid west doesn’t celebrate it as much as the coasts do? Even black history month goes by like a breeze here…
Well, I guess it is all a preference thing since some people still celebrate Columbus day and others fight to defend the fact that homie caused a genocide to the natives living here… Everyone forgets when Asian History Month is – no doubt. I know that in some of the more predominantly mixed areas (on the coast) they are celebrated but culture here is a smear of color on the canvas.

Still a great day – Perhaps in the next couple of elections, we’ll see a woman president. I remember as a child how my parents, being immigrants to the US themselves, would talk about how great it would be some day to see an African American or Asian American president. Well the day has come… “Too bad” they still say because me, my older sister and brothers were all born in Laos and Thailand. My luck citizen baby sisters happen to be apart of the newer Hmong American youth who barely speak Hmong and/or strive to work hard to get ahead in life because things were handed to them on silver platters… grr. It’s really ok but that just brings me to another point and that is that with a dying culture like that of the Hmong people – and NO country to preserve it – if it should disappear in the future – it is because of people’s own desire not to want to learn about it… in my family of 7, I think myself and my oldest brother are the only two who know how to read and write Hmong fluently. eh..

Well, lets see if we can get out of this mess? He still hasn’t found a job, our mortgage has risen, and bills, bills, bills and more misc bills. Lets see our hope overcome fear and not just a bunch of suicides off wallstreet or my street. ahaha… (I’m serious)

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