Archive for August, 2010

I eat the frosting

August 20th, 2010

I have been hiding in shame in my own kitchen. I started this new, disgusting habit that I haven't really owned up to until recently, when Tai caught me.

I eat the frosting off cakes. Not only do I eat it, but when there's a lot of excess after I'm done decorating it, I save it in a plastic container and visit it when I'm having a hard day.

"Ribbon roses" made of fondant

"Ribbon roses" made of fondant

I, obviously, can get away with leaving a weird-colored container of goop in the fridge because, once again, I live with three (straight) men, and men don't notice such oddities. Men need help finding the butter. Oh, and Olivia, but she's too short to see all the way to the back of the shelf.

Up until she went to preschool, my life fell between tired and more tired due to the laborious task of homemaking and child rearing. I'm happily transitioning into the new stage, and still catching my proverbial breath. In other words I'm still a little beat down.

Olivia is three, which means some boundary-testing. One day, after a particularly bad combination of my fatigue and Olivia's misbehaving, I hit the Tupperware pretty hard.


I was hunched over the kitchen sink scooping pink fondant into my mouth and just wishing it was 7 p.m. so I could put Olivia to bed, when Tai walked in the kitchen and looked confused, then repulsed, by what I was stuffing in my face.

"You're... eating frosting?" he exclaimed with furrowed brow. The things you learn about people when you live together. This is an even weirder revelation for him, because he dislikes sweets.

"Wait, don't throw that away!"

"Wait, don't throw that away!"

My first reaction was embarrassment. I tried to deny it. I lowered the bowl into the sink, hoping he would not keep looking at it.

Then I was angry. Yeah, Mr. 10% Body Fat, I'm mainlining sugar. What's it to ya?

Then I was defeated. I drooped my head and tried to diminish the shame by saying, "Yes, but it's only a little bit at a time."

"Oh," he said, and walked out.

I felt like a total dork. But I haven't stopped.

What's your guilty pleasure?


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The nose knows

August 18th, 2010

My nose is excellent. It wasn't always. After I got pregnant, like most pregnant women, my olfactory exploded. The doctors say it's the hormones. It just never went away after I gave birth.

I can practically smell Claus' workout shirt when he's out in the garage and I'm at the opposite end of the house. He hates this skill. He wants to rent me to a perfume house to at least make money off something that has proven quite inconvenient to him.


When we fumigated the house for termites, I'm quite sure something larger died, like a rodent. I thought I smelled a faint, funky smell above the office for a week or so. It was trapped in between the walls where I couldn't find it. Was it outside or inside?

"Claus, come in here. Do you smell something weird? Is it coming from inside?"

"I can't smell anything."

"OK, come right here."


"Maybe sit at the desk. I smell it when I'm at the desk."


And thus it went each time, until the smell finally dissipated.

The other night we were sitting on the sofa watching TV when I smelled a fruity smell. Olivia probably put a half-eaten apple in her backpack. I didn't want that rotting and attracting bugs, or melting into a moldy mess for you-know-who to clean up. (Hint: "You-know-who" lacks a Y chromosome.)

"What's that smell? Do you smell that?" I asked Claus. Why I keep asking him, I don't know, because he has the same answer every time.

I was sniffing around the sofa for several commercial breaks and saying, "It's a sweet smell. It's right around here. Do you smell it?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I detected motion. I turned around and saw Claus waving his hand, pointing at himself.

I shook my head. So now he likes my sense of smell?

"I get blamed for every other odor," he said. "If this one's a sweet one, I'm definitely going to own that!"


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August 16th, 2010

Olivia started preschool, thank the maker. I initially wasn't going to send her to preschool this year, but I'm sure glad I did. Love her as I do, I was still getting burnt out from being around an energetic toddler who needs my attention full time.

Active toddler, terrorizing cat

Active toddler, terrorizing cat

Actually, Olivia's the main reason, but I also feel like I'm the house mother at times. My friend Cindy and I concluded that men think of themselves first, and women think of everyone else first and put themselves last. I ran that by my mom. She nodded and added, "Men think of ONLY themselves."

I needed a break. This is why I didn't cry when I left Olivia at school, though I did take a lot of photos to document this big moment. She did not care either, and was happy to meet new people and have cool toys.


I have a circuituous preschool story. When I was pregnant, I panicked a little about finding a sitter and a school, because I heard horror stories about how difficult it is to secure either one. For example, colleagues Russ Yamanoha and Trini Kaopuiki referred me to their daycare centers, but when I called, there were no openings.

Most of my friends and acquaintances think I'm a totally together, organized person, who would completely control my kid's educational future. They teased me about being the mother who would have a three-ring binder with divider tabs to collate complete research on the best preschools island-wide.

They assumed I'd analyze Olivia's personality as compared to the preschool style, and factor in the school's perceived status as a "feeder" school for  the elite grade schools. That could not be further from the truth. I guess I should be flattered they think I'm totally on it, but I am so not.

I was so tired, I just figured I'd ask around for some good ones in my neighborhood, and apply there. So, none of the schools are elite, and I ended up applying to three preschools. I did this when Olivia was one year old.

The process is so intense, that people apply when the kid's still in utero! Still, I applied for two schools. The third, Kamehameha Preschool, is a little different in that they operate by lottery (versus first come first served), and you either make it or you don't for this school year. She did not, and is waitlisted for next year.

I applied in January 2009 for the two other, unnamed schools. I took notes because, well, that's what I do. I'm a reporter at heart. And I know I will forget if I don't, so I write it all down. I followed up with the schools in February 2010 and April 2010, respectively. They were supposed to call me, but both did not... because they both misplaced my application.

I am totally disgusted by that, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised since School #1 was especially terrible about returning my phone calls and e mails. When I followed up in person, they couldn't find my application for ten minutes, and finally dragged up their wait-list.

It was all secretive and they wouldn't tell me how many kids were on it, but I could kind of see through the paper that was a long list - maybe three dozen names? They wouldn't assess Olivia's chances of getting in either, saying it varied widely year to year.

I think there was some kind of management communication issue because a few weeks after I talked to the preschool director, I got an e mail from someone else at that office confirming that they received Olivia's application. You know, the one I submitted in January 2009, with confirmation coming now in April 2010, 15 months later.

My experience was School #2 was less terrible but still unacceptable. They changed their application procedure and had mailed a letter to all the parents to re-apply. They had new questionnaires, and application fees. Except they overlooked me.

When I politely (gotta be polite in case you end up sending your kid there, right?) questioned this, the staffer said, "It's a moot point because we still have a few openings left, so why don't you just fill out the new application, send in the fee, and we'll get her in for this year." Not if they're so disorganized!


I had decided to just keep her home with me. I am unemployed, no big deal. There are people who can help when I have the occasional freelance job. Then, one week I was walking around my neighborhood and remembered about another small school. I looked online and saw they had a few openings left. I applied and got her in.


I have been completely impressed with this school, and I liked what I saw on my visits. It's clean and neat, and other neighbors have good things to say about it. The staff remembers me, and lots of details about, say, my application and what I have or haven't submitted yet. They're totally on it and very friendly.


So thus it changes in my household again. The nanny moved his morning hours to afternoons, though we're all still adjusting to the change. It's not a bad change, but it takes a few days to find the rhythm. We had to wake up earlier to get her ready for school. I forgot to pack her lunch the night before, so I rushed on that in the morning. I still forgot to put her drink in her lunch box.

We are all still getting used to thinking in terms of new hours. I have things planned for the rest of my week, and I totally forgot I have more free hours in the day to get stuff done. Most of my appointments are built around her old schedule, so a lot of my afternoon appointments are either kid-friendly, or play dates just for her, which I can now change.


Sleeping habits change too. She likes 11 or 12 hours, so we have to start getting her to bed earlier. This morning when I woke her up she was Super Grump, to which Claus said, "She's YOUR daughter. She likes to sleep and gets cranky when she can't." I guess so.

We're learning, too. I know nut allergies are the big thing now, but I didn't realize I can't pack peanut butter in the sandwiches unless it's an "alternative" peanut-free peanut butter.


I came home to a quiet house. People were still in it, but they were all grown up. And still sleeping, as a matter of fact. I really enjoyed the change of pace and the freedom.

I have yearned for a while to just sit and relax quietly. I couldn't, actually, because I had to take my dad to medical appointments, and in between, work on some freelance articles and cook dinner.

But the hour or so that I was able to veg out was splendid. I relished the calm, the fact that nobody was asking me to make a snack, the silence where there would normally be PBS Kids as my background noise.

I could love this, I thought. I could drop her off at school, take a yoga class, cook dinner, bake cakes, see girlfriends, read a magazine, clean my house, and then enjoy her when she comes home from school in the afternoon.

And then I missed her. I thought about what she might be doing in class now, and missed that she wasn't asking me to make her a snack or interrupting my space with requests to play. I hate being tired, but I did miss my girl. I was happy to note that the end of the school day was just half an hour away.

It's the irony Paul Drewes warned me about ages ago when I was still pregnant. "You spend your whole day with them and you just want some time to yourself, and the minute you get it, all you do is think about them," he said, describing how he and his wife would have the occasional dinner date, and end up only talking about the kids.


I drove down to get her. She was napping. I was excited to see her, to be in her class. I took her photo while she was sleeping. I took a photo of her cubby. It's all so cute.

Cat thought bubble: "I miss being tortured by Olivia."

Cat thought bubble: "I miss being tortured by Olivia."

I was also amazed that the teacher could get her to nap. At home, she began resisting naps and quiet time in the last month, so rather than get frustrated I just stopped trying. The doctor said it was normal.

The music was kind of blaring. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe it was too quiet at my house for napping.

I woke her up and she was bleary eyed. "Hi, Honey," I said. She stared at me groggily.

"A bird flew into the class and the teacher said it was OK," she responded. Not Hi Mom or anything like that. Just the bird.

She gathered her lunch box and we went home to an excited audience of babysitter and grandparents who wanted to hear all about her first day.

"Did you miss Mommy?" I asked.

"No," she answered, before discussing some other important topic like popsicles or loving the color pink.

Ow! Maybe I should have thought twice about sending her to preschool!


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Termite tenting

August 13th, 2010

Have you ever termite tented your house before? I had not, and it was long overdue. I had a small infestation of drywood termites in my kitchen cabinet (which I later learned ate into the wood that supports the kitchen faucet, making it loose now - darn it). It made for a terrible weekend.


After getting some quotes, I went with a company that was rated A+ by Oahu's Better Business Bureau. They weren't the cheapest, but they weren't the most expensive, either. I bought peace of mind, though, because I keep hearing how one's home is ripe for the picking when it's being tented. I wanted reputable workers.

I realized the red tent around the house is a big bullseye for aspiring thieves to come on in, 'cuz nobody's home! What I didn't realize was that you leave all the windows and glass doors open, making a slash and enter quite easy. Yikes!

I keep a pretty neat house. I try to keep clutter to a minimum. I like to throw stuff away. Still, there was a lot more stuff to pack up than I thought. It took five hours of preparation to bag up perishables and toiletries, move out the valuables, and pack for a hotel. I don't think I can ever move out of this place. I have too much junk.

When checked into a Waikiki hotel, making this the first time in perhaps 15 years I've stayed in Waikiki! We thought it would be fun, but it was not. We were poorly planned, so there was a lot of waiting around involved (for various people to show up).

This impacted our meal schedules so we were either super hungry, or we had one meal within an hour after the first meal. Ridiculous.

The hotel, which was nice, tried to do us a favor by upgrading us to an ocean view. Except, it was above a bar, so for what seemed like a couple hours after we went to sleep, we still heard music and cheering. We had the window closed to dull the noise, but then it was hot, because the air conditioner was slow to chill.

I feel busier now than ever - which is really funny since I have no job. In the morning I had a playwriting class, and in the afternoon I had a birthday party for a good friend. We never even took advantage of the hotel's pool, which is the big reason we chose that property. Aww.

When we dragged our tired selves home, there was another five hours' worth of cleaning and unpacking. This time I was smart and enlisted the help of one of the housemates. To be fair, it could have been half the time, but I took the opportunity to deep-clean a few select areas since we were at it.

Now there's a slightly funky smell in the ceiling above the home office, so I think a rodent died where I cannot get it. Lovely.

It's a necessary evil of living in the tropics, so I am glad we did it, but I am not looking forward to the next fumigation.

Any experiences, suggestions, or referrals for next time?


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Keep it up and you won't have any friends

August 9th, 2010

The familiar refrain in our household is "Keep it up and you won't have any friends." Various adults tell that to Olivia when she's doing something inappropriate, like refusing to share, hitting, or being ill-mannered in some way.

I think my parents started it and the rest of us picked it up organically. Now that I think about it, it does sound like something I recall from my own youth, that my mom and her parents used to keep me in line with.

The other night, my mom and Olivia were reading a book on the sofa when my dad came over. He walked in the house and burped loudly. Without missing a beat, she looked up from her book and said with a serious face, "Keep it up, Kung Kung, and you won't have any friends."

He regarded her with amusement and burped loudly once more.


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