Archive for the ‘child’ Category

Explaining rejection to a child

May 6th, 2016

The letter came in the mail. We all suspected this was coming, but we all hoped - Olivia  most of all - that it would say otherwise.

She was not accepted to Kamehameha Schools for the fourth grade year. It was crushing.


We're crushed to see her crushed. I hate these moments as a parent.

We had prepped her that the competition was stiff, and that even with amazing test scores, the odds of its quota system were still high: 1,008 applicants, and just 64 openings.

That's a HALF A PERCENT chance to get in. Those are stupid odds. The only odds I've heard of that are worse are for CNN, which my friends in Atlanta tell me is a ratio of 1,000 resumes for every one on-air position.

It's a difficult place to be. In order to get her excited to do her best, we had to sell the school to her. Otherwise, she didn't want to leave her current school and friends. Ever since we tested in January, she'd been asking regularly when she'd know.

I understand the feeling. I recently attempted something I wanted badly, and though I tried to endure the process with detachment, it's hard not to get your hopes up. I couldn't explain the concept of detachment to an eight year old, so her process was even harder than mine.

She moped when she came home. She asked questions about why she wasn't good enough. Her dad gave her all the right answers and made her a smoothie. It helped, but still the long face.

I decided to show her something. I have saved most of my TV rejection letters since the start of my career. I say most, because there was a busy period where I know I forgot to save one or two dozen letters.


At first, it was just a way to track which stations I applied to, since most times they don't even bother to respond. That's how you know in TV news that you didn't make the cut.

Seriously, it's nice he even wrote back.

Seriously, it's nice he even wrote back.


So a lot of the papers are actually my notes and lists on when I sent in a resume, so that I would know to follow up. But let's just call them "letters" for short.


After a while, though, I decided to save it as a testament to perseverance; a symbol to myself that hard work pays off, that I needed to keep believing in myself, and that for every 20 no's there is a yes.

As I've blogged before, I knew I wanted to be a reporter, and that was that. I wasn't going to let a little (actually, a lot of) rejection divert my plans. This was the career I wanted, and I was going to have it.

Over the years, as I developed success and still occasionally filed a letter in the folder, I also started seeing it as a humility check. In a job defined by lights, cameras, and a high-profile, I never wanted to become someone who thought they were "all that."

Perhaps now, because I've been on air in this one town for over a decade, I have a modicum of name-recognition. I don't ever want that to get to my head.

I generally presume you don't know me unless you indicate you do. Not everyone watches TV, and not everyone has lived in Hawaii for years.

It's fun, and it's a privilege to experience, but the file takes me back to my beginnings, when doors shut on my face all the time. Remember who you are: you're just a person with a job.

But I digress. Back to Olivia.

She always tells me she thinks I have an amazing job. The entire time she's known me, I've always been an established newscaster. She has never seen the struggle.


I held her rejection letter in one hand, my file in the other. It's almost an inch thick. It's impressive! Her eyes widened when I presented it.

"Just because you didn't get into one school, it's OK. It doesn't mean you're not worthy. It just means you need to stick to your goals and try harder. Don't give up," I encouraged.

I explained to her that in my follow ups, I'd ask the manager what they didn't like about my resume and how I could improve. Then I'd work on that so the next station might want me.

I really appreciate any manager who took the time to give me feedback!

I really appreciate any manager who took the time to give me feedback!

"That's what you need to do. Keep being the best student you can be," I said. "Then next time you try for a school, you have a better chance. And always believe in yourself, because we believe in you."

The only handwritten rejection I ever received, and he was so nice. This is my favorite.

The only handwritten rejection I ever received, and he was so nice. This is my favorite.

It perked her up a little, but she said she was still kind of sad.

"That's normal. It's OK. You sit with that for a little while, but then you use it to make you stronger. You tried, you didn't get what you wanted, but you'll pick yourself up and figure out what you need to do to get what you want. Mommy and Daddy are proud of you for trying, and we're always here to help you dust yourself off and support you," I soothed.

That seemed to do the trick. She said seeing my file was both a shocker and helpful.

Then it was back to her smoothie, which in its own way was just as wonderful a Band-Aid as my pep talk. There ain't nothing a lovely dessert can't cure, right?

...How have you handled your child's rejection? What did you tell them? (Give me more tips for next time, because I know there's got to be a next time down the road!)



A coloring book for women to relax and recharge

May 4th, 2016

My daughter and I are into sketching. Actually, it was she who got me into it, as I like to try to partake in the activities she likes. I ended up liking it way more than I expected.

It seems like the adult coloring book craze started a couple years ago. I've seen a handful of news stories about how coloring is relaxing and meditative.

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

When the makers of the coloring book Inkspirations for Women ( offered to send me a sample, I agreed to give it a try.  It's a natural extension of my interest in art on paper.

Believe it or not, scientists have studied coloring, and they've found that it quiets your mind, calms your thoughts, reduces stress, and allows you to simply be. Research shows that coloring can induce a kind of 'flow,' or active meditation, during which you lose your sense of time and your brain waves fall into a calming rhythm. As a result, worries fade away and creative blocks can become wellsprings of ideas.

I looked in the book, and I love the quotes and designs! So uplifting! Here's my favorites:

IMG_0601 IMG_0600


I guess Marci Shimoff know's what she's doing. She's a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a transformational teacher, and says she's an expert on happiness, success and unconditional love. Among other things, she co-authored six titles in the Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul series, and is a featured teacher in The Secret.

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

I'm totally looking forward to coloring this - and I might not even share with my kid!

A piece of art only a mother could love

April 29th, 2016

Parenting, as you know, is so totally subjective. Everyone thinks their child is the best, smartest, funniest, most talented, etc, in the world. ...Well, Claus and I know Olivia's not a prodigy, but we do rank her #1 in many superlative categories.

From the start, every little artistic creation she has brought home from school meets with a shower of compliments. We love that she made it with her own two little hands, and that she gives it to us with all of her heart. She's the sweetest.

The other day, she brought home a glazed ceramic the art class had been working on for a few weeks. They molded the clay, designed their sculptures, painted it, and then brought it home after it was fired in the kiln.

"Here, Mommy," she said as she nonchalantly plopped a rat-unicorn hybrid ("a raticorn" I was informed) on the counter. She's eight now, so sometimes it's not such a big deal to give your parents gifts.

I turned around to receive it. "Oh! That's nice, Dear! What is it?"

She said what it was, which I think is weird- but I rationalized it within seconds that it's just her brilliant expression of creativity. It's actually odd looking but if Olivia made it, I love it.

And then she said she didn't make it! "It came from one of the other girls in class. She didn't want it. She gave it to me."

Duh, she didn't want it. It's ugly.

"Oh. Where is yours?" I asked. "You should give this back to that girl. Her parents probably want it."

"Mine's in the art show," Olivia explained. "And I like this. She gave it to me, she doesn't want it back, and I'm going to keep it. Let's put it here on the counter."

"Actually, no. Put it in your room if you insist on having it. A rat with a horn is kind of scary," I admitted.

Olivia stopped to put it together. "So... why'd you say you liked it when you thought it was mine?"

"Because it's special when it comes from you. You're my kid," I explained.

Later, Claus and I compared notes and apparently, he had a very similar conversation with her about the raticorn.

Funny, isn't it, that within seconds one's whole perspective on something can change based on a little piece of knowledge? It's still the same sculpture!

By the way, I lost that fight. Somehow the dang uni-mouse found its way to my bedroom nightstand where Olivia likes to play with it before she tucks me in.

Expert at ignoring

April 6th, 2016

Now and then, because this is somewhat of a jujitsu household, I practice some of the arts on my husband. Sometimes I sneak up on him and put him in a chokehold. I'm not that spectacular at it, but I try.

He became a second degree black belt while I hung up my brown when I started my current early morning schedule. Everything is so calm for him.

When I try to foot sweep him or surprise choke him from behind, he brushes me aside or keeps reading his iPad as if swatting away a fly. If it weren't so amusing it would be defeating.

One afternoon, right after I failed again at my subterfuge, Olivia then started nagging away about wanting a playdate or some such (though she'd already been told no.) He casually ignored her, too, reading on as if nobody were in the room.

I laughed at this spectacle of Claus sitting oblivious in the middle of all this agitation around him. "Where do you think you honed this skill of ignoring annoying things around you?" I asked. "Husbandhood or fatherhood?"

He actually paused, looked up from his table, and smiled, "Yes."

College tuition scares me

April 4th, 2016

In just ten years, my daughter will be (hopefully) headed to college. It's something we want and expect for her, as my husband and I both have university degrees. Actually, my mother and I both have a master's degree, and my father and Claus both have a bachelor's degree.

I remember university being expensive when I was 18, but it sure is heart-stopping now. A November 2015 TIME magazine article found four years of private college with room and board costs, on average, $176,000. By contrast, it says four years of public college is $38,000.

The concept of paying for university is, well, foreign to my husband, a Danish national. The government of Denmark pays for all citizens'  education, even advanced degrees.

This is actually why one of his compatriots is moving away from Hawaii this summer and back to Denmark with his family. It's a similar setup as us: Danish husband (Keld Christensen), American wife (Sandy), dual citizenship children (Viggo, Danika). Keld is tired of paying for private high schools and balks at the idea of paying for eight more years for his children's college education.

The Christensens. Courtesy: Sandy Christensen

The Christensens. Courtesy: Sandy Christensen

(You can follow their adventures in Denmark at Sandy's blog,

I would love for Olivia to have the quintessential university experience romanticized by movies in which a young adult goes off to college out of his or her home state, enjoys a personal journey towards adulthood and independence, and is able to forge lasting friendships and memories. I think of The Social Network and Legally Blonde.

I left home at a young age and lived in other states, and know the satisfaction of evolution beyond comfortable boundaries. I appreciate how that's shaped me into the person I am today. I would like Olivia to have a broader world view.

But will it be affordable? With more Americans suffocating under crushing student loans, and the current crop of politicians once again bringing education reform to the fore, I wonder if the educational entitlement of my generation is shifting into past tense.

When I was in high school, it was cool to think about going away for college and having some freedom from one's parents. I wonder if many in Olivia's generation will have a different vision of college: simply being able to pay for it; gratitude if they can get through four years of public university without repaying loans until their middle ages.

(By the way, Claus adds, this dream of college as a defining moment is uniquely American, because in liberal Denmark, a lot of that wild and crazy stuff is done in high school. "By the time people go to university in Denmark, people are very serious students. It's competitive to get in even though it's free, and the master's degree is generally the norm, not just a bachelor's." It's very possible we might move to Denmark before the decade is up.)

With this in mind, coupled with that fact that I am, admittedly, deeply attached to my little girl, I suggested to her she stay here in Hawaii and attend UH Manoa. That way, I cajoled, you can see Mommy all the time. (I only half mean this. The other half of me wants her to spread her wings.)

"Unless you do something amazing and get into Harvard University," I said. "Then Mommy and Daddy will pay out the nose for you." I'll probably have to sell a few organs. I'd sell some eggs, too, if I had any left, which I won't.

"Where is Harvard?" she inquired.

"Far, far away, on the East Coast," I answered.

I really thought that would be a deterrent. Right now, she misses me when she sleeps at any friend's house which is more than five miles away from home. Her separation anxiety is proportional to the distance from me.

Imagine my surprise when she exclaimed, "OOH! Yeah! I'm in!"

I silently pouted, though my husband knows me all too well. "It's OK. We will go up there all the time. Monthly," he chuckled.

"Olivia, I could buy you a car if you want to stay home and go to UH," I bribed.

"YEAH! A car? Can it be a red one?" she asked.

"Sure!" I said, and looked smugly at Claus.

"Way to negotiate with an eight year old," he congratulated.

Empty nest and empty bank account. What a downer. Think happy thoughts: She's cute and she's all mine for another decade.