Archive for the ‘dad’ Category

Burying Kona

March 23rd, 2015

I drove around with a dead dog in my car for weeks. That's not as gross as it sounds. The dog was cremated, and in a box.

Six years ago, I put down my beloved Kona, a wonderful yellow Lab who brought me 13 years of joy. She was the best.

Kona, 2003

Kona, 2003

I mourned her for a long time. I still tear up if I really stop and think about her.

Olivia was a year and a half old when Kona died, but she actually still remembers her. I like that.

After she died in 2009, I intended to bury her one day, but was too hurt to do more than put the ashes in the living room and glance up at the box once in a while. After a year, I brought the box down from the shelf, but it still hurt to actually hold it and think about parting with her.

I decided to let it go and when the time was right, it would come to me.

Years went by and my life has taken some ups and downs; the normal progression of any life, I suppose. My husband and I are mired in parenting, work, elder caregiving, and just life in general. I eventually forgot about Kona.

Last fall, in what was the hardest year of my life, I noticed the box of ashes again, and decided it was time to bury the past - literally and figuratively. My plan was to take Kona to her favorite haunts before putting her in the ground in my yard.

Of course, time moves both quickly and slowly when you're at this stage of life - working full time and raising a young child. I feel like I'm constantly tired, always busy, and often forgetting.

I took Kona off the shelf and put the ashes by the front door, to remind myself to schedule time to execute my final plan of action for her. Fall became winter became spring, and only recently have I gotten to acting on it.

Jen and the dogs, 2004

Jen and the dogs, 2004

One Saturday, Olivia and I made time to drive Kona to my friend Jen's house. Jen and her three dogs were a big part of Kona's life. For years, the six of us would spend our days off together. Two of Jen's dogs died last year, too. Jen and I reminisced and cried.

Flower dog, 2001

Flower dog, 2001

The next day, we took Kona to the beach. Kailua Beach was her favorite, and it was also where she served as flower dog in my wedding. My daughter and I walked for a while along the shore with Kona's ashes.


Back at home, we decided to bury her in the front yard, her favorite place to hang out because she could see all the action on the street. Claus dug a small hole and Olivia poured the ashes into the ground.


It wasn't heart wrenching because I was finally ready. It's a little scary how strongly humans form attachments, that it took me half a dozen years to be ready to bury a dog.

We told her we loved her and that she would always be with us. That was that.



Until we all meet again at the rainbow bridge.

Kona's paw prints

Kona's paw prints

Common Core Standards

March 6th, 2015

I can't do Common Core math for second graders. I feel totally lame saying this, but I've come to realize that I'm not alone.

I've complained about this randomly over the past year and I'm always met with sympathetic frustration from other mothers who also feel the exact same way.


Math is my weak point to begin with. Sometime early on this school year, I had no idea how to help Olivia with her math, because instead of doing it the way I learned in school, they do something that involves boxes with tens and ones and carrying stuff over.

One afternoon, I actually saw Claus helping Olivia and I had no idea what was going on. I should mention that I do wake up at 3 a.m. so by the time we're at the homework stage of the day, I'm kind of brain-dead and can't focus very well.

I asked Olivia to teach me what she was doing. I had to do a couple of examples to get it right. And I've certainly forgotten the lesson by now.

My husband is good with math and apparently he learned it this way in elementary school in Denmark, so it was not a mystery to him. Those Scandinavians are so advanced.

One week, he went on a trip and I had to do the math with her. I can calculate the problems, I just can't do it the way the teacher wants it done via Common Core methods. I actually wrote a note to the teacher, "I can't do Common Core math, sorry." She wrote back the next day, "It's OK! I'll help her."

Probably a good thing I'm paid to read and write. My kid, by the way, reads two grade levels above her grade. So I can still help her if it involves letters and not numbers!

How are you with Common Core math?

The short, sacrificial life of a pet fish

March 2nd, 2015

We would have a memorial service for Olivia's three pet goldfish, but we can't find them. They died sometime in the last month, and there is nothing in the tank that even resembles fish carcass.

There might be corpses on the floor around the tank, but her room is a mess and a cursory look yielded nothing so far. One day, I'll be startled by a desiccated fish or two among the piles of crud on the floor.

These fish lasted three whole months. I'm surprised. The last time she had fish, she overfed them, and they polluted to death. This time, she ignored them, and they starved or committed piscine suicide.

I know trusting a seven-year-old with the care of another life is a faulty proposition, but you know that whole thing about teaching responsibility, yadda yadda. To her credit, she was very responsible for weeks.

It's not totally her fault, though. Her grandparents came for their annual snowbird visit from Denmark, and for six weeks, she was kicked out of her room. Since I wasn't entering her room either, I forgot to remind her to feed the fish.

After five weeks, it occurred to me that nobody's been feeding the fish. I know one might assume the residents of the room would oversee the task, but one would assume wrong. They didn't offer and we forgot to ask, so the fish suffered.

I went to check and found one lonely guppy, kind of pale, still hanging in there. Those guppies! Darwinism at its finest!

"Are you done with having fish now? Can I put this guppy in the outside pond?" I asked Olivia. She said yes.

These kid phases are so brief. The poor goldfish who sacrificed their lives so Olivia could satiate her "pet fish" phase.

The next day, I made sure to scoop him out and release him into our yard fishpond. It's a much, much nicer environment for him, with dozens of brethren, partial sun, and lots of hapless bugs to eat. "You deserve this, Buddy," I told the guppy as he swam out of the net.

Of course, my kid's always on a mission to get another pet, and lately the request has been for a puppy or kitten (despite the fact that we have a dog and cat.) If the former fish are any indicator: NO.

Chalkboard paint

February 23rd, 2015

When you walk into my house, there is absolutely no question a child lives there. Other than the fact that most of the time, Olivia's toys are scattered throughout all the common areas and several rooms and bathrooms, we now have a big chalkboard painted on the wall at the entrance.


It's something I've seen on restaurants, offices, and stores, and have been meaning to do... for three years. I got the can of paint immediately after hatching this brilliant idea. It just took me some 1,000 days to crack it open. Ha!

Meya and Olivia breaking in the new chalkboard.

Meya and Olivia breaking in the new chalkboard.

It happened one weekend when my friend Kalei came to visit and then got bored sitting around. Kalei is Type A, needs constant motion, but hates the outdoors.

"Do you want to do some craft project? We can go down to Ben Franklin and find something to make," I suggested.

"Crafts? No!" she rejected.

"Do you want to walk or hike?" I offered.

"No!" she said.

"Do you want to go to the beach or pool?" I said because I was getting desperate.

"Diane. Do you even know me?" she asked.

Then I remembered about the chalkboard wall. "Do you want to help me paint my entrance way with chalkboard paint?" I asked.

Kalei got excited, and that became our afternoon project. Claus supervised and mixed up the paint while we cleaned, taped, sanded, and painted the wall. We thought perhaps he assigned himself the good job as supervisor. I'm grateful to Kalei because if it wasn't for her, I know that we never would have done this.


I felt kind of guilty because Olivia would want to paint with us, but I've learned as a mom that my energy and time is unpredictable, so I have to strike while the iron is hot.

Olivia was out with the babysitter, so I texted the sitter: "The foyer paint is wet. Don't tell Olivia we did this without her. Tell her the Paint Fairy came."

Two coats later, it was done, and it works like a charm. It was covered with chalk drawings within five minutes of me declaring it dry and peeling the tape off.

I thought our family could use it as a little message board (one that doesn't get covered up with clutter or blown away in the breeze) but I see it's found a primary home as an art surface. And that works, too!

Chinese New Year's bottles

February 18th, 2015

For Chinese New Year, Olivia and I made our friends bottles. We bought teensy little bottles, colored sand, twine, and shells at the craft store and made it at home.


It is the perfect project for a seven year old. I don't know about your kids, but mine loses patience and interest very quickly with any kind of detail work, so something that requires just mixing together a few simple ingredients is perfect.


I sometimes bead, so I happened to have little blown-glass sheep charms that I could wire wrap and attach to the outside of the bottle like a charm. This is the part where Olivia abandoned me to do all that tedious work.

Olivia enjoyed putting it together, though I was amused watching her as she started playing with the sand. I gave her a funnel to pour the sand into the bottle, and she experimented all kinds of ways with putting the funnel upside down, or filling the funnel all the way up and stopping and starting the flow of the sand into the bottle. Kid stuff - funny. Table was a little messy after, of course.

My bottle!

My bottle! My charm is a slipper.

The last step involved cutting out little strips of paper. The intention is that you write your new year's wishes on the paper, roll it up, put it in the bottle, and let it serve as a reminder to you all year long to achieve it. Kind of a Western version of a daruma doll.

I got excited about this craft project, so in addition to making mine, I asked Claus if he wanted one. He quickly answered no. Clutter and girly charms are not his thing. Then, Olivia decided she wanted to make one for Daddy, and he was all in. Cute.

So I've got my beautifully decorated new year's bottle, and I'm super excited about the Chinese New Year. 2015 so far has been fantastic, and I have high hopes it will continue through the Asian calendar!

Happy Chinese New Year!