Archive for June, 2012


June 18th, 2012

One day I came home from work and told Olivia I had a little gift for her. "Tengo un regalito para ti!" I said.

It's been five years and Claus and I have picked up each other's language by dint of repetition. I can understand most of the Danish commands he gives her (so if lost in Denmark, I can request a diaper or milk), and likewise for Claus with my rudimentary Spanish (he can avoid a time out or ask for ice cream). I know some words, and what I can give her, I'd like to give her.

He must know what "tengo" means. He was thinking about "regalito."

"Is that a cookie?" he guessed.

Actually, the gift was a cookie, so at first I was thrown off. Then I realized he was trying to learn Spanish.

"It's a gift," I said. "Actually, it's regalo. You add -ito or -ita as a diminutive form to indicate smallness or affection. Like, Carlo becomes Carlito."

I continued in the theme. "While we're talking about endings, adding -ote or -ota indicates contempt or large size."

He thought about this for a while.

Hawaii State Representative Ken Ito

Hawaii State Representative Ken Ito

"I'm sure this is not what Ken Ito had in mind for his name," he said dryly.


Zing! Ridiculous husband.

Mike Prickett's Reel Life

June 15th, 2012

A Hawaii water cinematographer is the subject of a new special web video series, photo gallery and community web site on, the philanthropic media organization and multi-media arm of the Annenberg Foundation. The stories chronicle the extraordinary life, work, and current struggle with paraplegia of world renowned ocean cinematographer Mike Prickett.

On March 14, 2012, while filming underwater on location off the coast of an atoll in French Polynesia, Prickett saw a diver below him in distress. Acting instinctively, Prickett helped the diver make an emergency ascent but in the process was partially paralyzed from a severe case of the bends. While the man he saved was ultimately able to walk away from the incident, Prickett was told he may never walk again. His doctors say it will take six months to find out how well he will recover.

Struck by his incredible work and inspired by his resilient, can-do attitude, founder, philanthropist, and friend of Prickett, Charlie Annenberg Weingarten challenged the cinematographer to turn his journey of recovery into a source of inspiration and education. The result is a new web video series that will chronicle Prickett's journey as he attempts to walk again. is also teaming up with Prickett for an ongoing blog to showcase his amazing body of work-and the work of his colleagues who have collectively revolutionized video standards in the underwater and surf industries.

The new web video series premiered in May. New webisodes will be released every Wednesday throughout the summer. Go to

"Aside from the fact that Mike is considered one of the best underwater cinematographers in the world, he is surely an incredible human being who, even through this tragically challenging time, is showing immense selflessness," said Charlie Annenberg. "Courage has always been in his DNA and we are all inspired by his willingness to share this experience with people everywhere."

I found the videos touching - beautifully shot, of course - and beautifully edited. It reinforces my respect for the ocean, and for this man. All the best to Mike Prickett in his recovery.

Posted in Career | 1 Comment »

Swim team

June 13th, 2012

When I was seven months pregnant, I went swimming with sharks. It was in the cages on the North Shore. I always remember how a woman on board said the baby inside would love the water, too.

Di and Joann

Joann and me

Five years later, and we've signed up Olivia up for a swim team. She has always taken to water, even as a baby. We often take her to play at the beach and at various pools, and a couple summers ago she took a class at the YMCA.

She is comfortable in the water, but not a proficient swimmer as compared to some of her preschool friends who have a pool in their yard at home. Her friend Amanda is a real fish.

Recently, I saw a flyer for a summer swim team that starts at age five, so I brought her to try outs. I wasn't sure if she would make the cut because she can be shy and uncooperative with new people, and she might also dislike the cold water.

She did better than we both expected! She swam for an hour, going all the way to the deep end with the coach's encouragement. She was so cute to watch, I told Claus I wanted to call out to her and wave as she passed us.

"Don't," laughed Claus. So I restrained myself.

Then on one lap, Olivia actually yelled out to me and waved. I was really happy and waved back excitedly like some sports fan. "Hi Hon! Hi! You're doing great! I see you! Good girl!" It was all I could do to not jump up and down.

In the following lap, she was getting tired and only was able to stick her hand up (not even her head) for a few seconds. But it was so cute!! I can't believe I'm excited about this. I am such a goofy mom!

I'm sure it'll get old, but the first time you see your kid do anything, you get excited, right?

When it was done, Coach invited her to join. He said she took direction well, which is a key quality at this age.

As we left, Olivia said a few times that she wants to return and do it again, which was very thrilling for us to hear. So yes, looks like we can sign her up for swim team.

I've heard other parents semi-complain or warn that I should choose her sport well, because I will be spending hours there during practice and games, watching and waiting. If it has to be swimming, I guess we mind less as we are children of the water ourselves.

I was a middling swimmer who more enjoyed the feeling of water than the competition. I spent hundreds of hours in the pool over my school years, but it wasn't a defining commitment in my life. Still, I'm a strong swimmer because of it, and a love of the water has led me to enjoy other water activities like getting my SCUBA certification, surfing, kayaking, and a general comfort with water sports.

Me and the Rocky Hill Sea Lions swim team

Me and the Rocky Hill Sea Lions swim team

Claus pursued this with a passion for half his life. He moved to a larger city while in high school to train with a better club, earned a scholarship to the University of Hawaii for swimming, and paid it forward after he graduated by coaching the UH swimmers for the better part of a decade. He still swims for exercise and fun, and he's an excellent windsurfer as a byproduct.

The point is, it's nice to nurture a skill that can pay dividends through your life. I thought about engineering her athletic and corporate career by handpicking scholarship or boardroom sports like golf and tennis, but that didn't feel sincere.

Ultimately, I think it's kind of a guess as to what one's child might stick with. I am going to consider it lucky if we match her with a sport that she will play for years. Actually, for a five year old, I'm going to consider it lucky if she will consistently do this all season long!

What's your take on signing up kids for sports? Any stories on what to expect as a swim team mom? Or on other activities that might come down the pike?

Dead roach

June 11th, 2012

Comical things happen around my household multiple times a day. Either it's an absurdly funny situation, or an actual attempt at humor by me or my husband.

I am not sure why, but this one had me laughing out loud for a while the day Claus said it, and days after the fact, it still provides me an occasional laugh out loud. So I will share:

I killed a small roach in the garage. Not even one scream from me. I am toughening up.

I hit it with a slipper (how else is it done in Hawaii?) and the body fell onto the railing. I didn't clear the body away right away.

A little while later, when Claus and I were going into the house together, I had my hands full. He was about to open the screen door for me.

"Oh, first, can you flick that guy off?" I said, nodding my head towards the roach. He knew about it since he complimented me on my fearless kill just minutes earlier.

He gave it The Bird.










Posted in dad, family, mom | 3 Comments »

Sea Life Park's Dolphin Experience

June 8th, 2012

Swimming with a dolphin is an unforgettable experience - so I wanted to give that to my daughter for her fifth birthday. I booked a Dolphin Encounter at Sea Life Park on Oahu's east shore.

5-20-12 Kissing Dolphin- smiling

"From a waist deep platform, participants observe the dolphins while they perform high-energy behaviors. Dolphins play, kiss and even 'dance' with the guests!" describes the website. Each child 1 – 7 years of age must be accompanied in the water by a paying adult who is 18 years or older, so Claus was the lucky adult.

5-20-12 Dancing Dolphin

Naturally, my parents wanted to see Olivia's reaction to the encounter too, so the three of us watched from land. My advice to you if you go in the popular summer months: wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock.

Dolphin Cove

Dolphin Cove

After a safety and educational briefing, the group filed out into Dolphin Cove, where they stood on a shallow platform for half an hour and met and petted a dolphin. The dolphin swam past the line of humans many times - enough that everyone definitely got to see it and touch it up close.

When it was all done, I asked Olivia how she liked it. "Great!" she beamed. She had been looking forward to it - enough that she agreed to go to sleep early the night before because we had the morning slot - and said it was even better than she expected.

How does a dolphin feel, I asked. "Soggy. Rubbery," she answered.

Dolphin show at Dolphin Cove

Dolphin show at Dolphin Cove

Since we were all in the park (to observe the dolphin swims still requires park admission), we decided to make a half day of it. Other attractions we saw:

Dolphin Cove Show
Kolohe Kai Sea Lion Show
Sea Lion Feeding
Penguin Habitat Trainer Talk
Pirates Lagoon Hawaii
Adventure Kids Play Zone
Seabird Sanctuary
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Lagoon
Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat
Aloha Touch Pool
Hawaiian Ray Lagoon

Touch pool

Touch pool

So, nearly everything. Good fun!

Olivia's favorite was the playground- I'm sure other parents are also rolling their eyes thinking, What did I bring you here for?? - and the Dolphin Cove Show in which four beautiful dolphins and a world-famous wolphin spun and leapt the crowd into oohs and aahs.

Sea lion show

Sea lion show

By coincidence, a year ago, a friend gave me a book about the history of Sea Life Park, written by its first dolphin trainer, Karen Pryor. I found Lads Before The Wind a fascinating read and can highly recommend it, not just for the history of this important part of Oahu's visitor history, but also for the insight it gives into the interesting work and methods of these animal trainers.

We all had a great day. When it was all done, I really thought Olivia would be tired out from the sun and the stimuli. It turned out to be me who needed the nap!

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