Archive for the ‘dad’ Category

The dance recital mom

August 15th, 2016

Kids' recitals are funny, because all rules of traditional decorum go out the window. Olivia dances, and at the shows, every single song is punctuated by excited family and friends screaming out their dancer's name.

So it is with me. At the last many performances, I wave wildly from my seat, hoping to catch her attention. Last spring, she actually didn't see us, and she met us with indignation backstage after the event.

This time, I added yelling into my repertoire. Darn it if she's not going to know we're there. That and... I get such a thrill seeing her do her thing!

When her number started, I frantically shook my husband next to me as if he wasn't right there seeing the same thing. "Look! Look! LOOK!"

I've mentioned before that Claus is the calm one. He always just sits there quietly. I think he might wave once. He does the Queen wave. I do the Tom Hanks Castaway wave.

I let out a whoop. "Woooo! Yeah!!! OLIVIA!!! OLIVIA!!!" and gesticulated with the fervor of a person trying to make it off a desert island. Every time the lights got a little brighter, I folded a white paper in half and used that to hopefully catch her attention better.

I was so pleased with her. I'm always proud of her, but this time she really seemed to step up her stage presence and her dance moves. She is finally finding her groove in this class.

Inca, wearing the lei I made for Olivia for the show. Dog= not too happy. Child= loved it.

Inca, wearing the lei I made for Olivia for the show. Dog= not too happy. Child= loved it.

When we met her after the show this time, she said with half-amusement, half-embarassment, "Yes, I saw you waving. And waving. And waving. I was thinking, 'Mom, stop distracting me,' but I couldn't do anything because I was dancing."

"Sorry. I just get so excited! Did you hear me calling to you, too?" I asked.

"Yes. I heard that. You know, you can just tell me your row number and I'll find you. I always do," she suggested. Well, except that last time because we didn't tell her our row number.

"Uh, OK," I acquiesced. Claus shot me a side eye and snickered.

I feel like I now need to practice to be an audience member because it will take all I have to sit on my hands and shut my mouth.

Life, summed up by four scraps of paper

August 12th, 2016

My life - actually, my husband's and my life - as of late can be summed up by four scraps of paper. They're hastily scribbled names and numbers of Olivia's new friends on torn bits of whatever was handy.


Sometimes the parents wrote the information. Sometimes the kid wrote it. Sometimes Claus had to revise it with his own clarification of what was written, or who this person is.

I was (finally) cleaning off my section of the table that we have ended up dumping all our junk on. I used to be tidy, but in the last months of anchoring the morning show, I gave up. I was too tired to care.

Now I'm getting around to restoring order and I find these notes. They were collected in haste to invite to Olivia's birthday party.

I'm Virgo-organized and I normally would have immediately transcribed this contact information into my phone's address book, but this was Claus' doing. Other than not being Virgo-organized, bless his heart, he was essentially single-fathering it for the first half of 2016 while I sat catatonic on the sofa after work (or after quitting work.)

I laughed out loud when I discovered how he did it. You will never find little crumpled up snippets of paper in my purse. This man cracks me up. After it was written, he stuffed it in his pocket where it got bent and disheveled, possibly even laundered.

But he did it, the friends came to the party, and I appreciate his work. Our differences of style just amuse me.

Claus happened by as I was snickering at the notes. "We can throw those away now," he said, explaining what they were. He knew I'd never seen it before and he thought I was deciphering the scrawl.

Wait, I said. I wanted a photo first.

A photo? For what? he asked.

"Because I want to remember that this is who we were for the first half of this year," I laughed. "Torn, disheveled, disorganized, used up, barely making it."

He laughed too. Then we gladly threw the papers away.

Stay-at-home dad

August 8th, 2016

For a brief while, my husband was a stay-at-home dad. It was a lovely thing for all of us, because I really liked coming home to a clean house, completed chores, and a hot dinner. Thankfully, Claus is an excellent cook with long-stymied culinary aspirations.

I came home one day and the dryer was tumbling, the living room was photo shoot-ready, and the kitchen bar counter was just one beautiful, ten foot long streak of black granite, no longer interrupted by piles of papers, toys, food wrappers, and other domestic detritus.

When he walked in the door, he said he had been at yoga, swimming, then a social lunch. I praised his work and we both marveled at the rare sighting of our countertop. Of course, as soon as Hurricane Olivia barreled through the door that afternoon all his work came undone in about ten minutes.

I knew Olivia and I would appreciate his home-work, but Claus says it surprised him that he liked being a house dad so much. He thought it would be more boring and small.


The idea of a Mr. Mom is fun for us, but apparently, jolting to others. Olivia's adorable friend Kiryan came over one weekend and, after Claus served them mac n' cheese for dinner, remarked with wide-eyed wonder, "Olivia! Your parents are so interesting!"

I asked, "Is it because he cooks?"

"Yeah!" she exclaimed. (pause) "This is very confusing to me."

I love this kid, but Claus and I had a good laugh in private and are now thinking about having him wear an apron and start baking brownies next time Kiryan comes.

Truth be told, we're not fully pranking her. He really does make awesome brownies. Just not with an apron. We're saving that one for Kiryan.

Family photo

August 5th, 2016

Every year at the start of the school year, there is a homework assignment that always requires Olivia to glue a family photo to a little poster. It's along the lines of an "All About Me" paper, in which the kids share a bit of themselves.

She's in the fourth grade, so you'd think I'd figure this out by now, but every year it takes me by surprise. I have about a week to get the photo printed, and yet, I never manage to do it until the day before it's due.

My thoughts are a never-settling swirl of flakes in a snow globe. I've been waiting for nine years now to "get it together."

This year, Olivia wanted to include the dog and cat in the picture, not just separately printed, as I've done out of convenience in previous years. OK, we have a week to do it. Every day I reminded us that TOMORROW, we need to take a family photo.

The last time we had a professional family portrait taken with the pets was four years ago. In his own version of survival parenting, my husband replied, "Can't we just use one of those (old ones)?"

by Sisto Domingo

by Sisto Domingo

Thursday morning came, and Olivia woke me up. "Mommy Pastrami. As you can hear (from the meowing), I trapped the cat on the porch so we can take our family photo. Tomorrow is Friday and we have to take the picture now."

I get up and organize this effort. The Virgo perfectionist in me died a long, long time ago. I set up the iPhone's selfie mode and timer. It took a few tries, but it's done.



The photo has no flash, is grainy and backlit, on a sofa that hasn't been tidied up. Claus didn't have his morning shower and his hair is askew. I have no makeup on save that lipstick, and I don't even care.

Black Inca blends with Claus' grey shirt, so if I had thought this out, Claus should have worn a lighter color. It goes without saying that nobody is wearing a fancy or matching outfit.



I laugh so hard when I look at it. It's not even level. And I look like a giant next to my husband, when I'm really not.


There really is no great excuse for photography this poor, considering I spent a year as a news photographer and nearly 20 in that visual medium. The photo is so crappy, it's awesome.


If a picture tells a thousand words, this one is saying we're busy parents just trying to keep it all moving forward. Maybe if I start now to organize us for a beautiful portrait, we'll be ready in time with a really nice one for Olivia's fifth grade year.

A boringly teachable moment

August 3rd, 2016

When I was young, I lived in Connecticut for four years. I spent a ton of time with my best friend, Steph, whose mother would occasionally take us to museums and the like, for educational experiences.

Steph, Robin, me

Steph, Robin, me

She would always make us pay attention and read the placards, threatening to quiz us after on what we learned. Steph and I never listened.

You know when you're nine, the world is your playground if your friends are around. It was always her little sister, Robin, who paid attention and got the answers right. No surprise Robin now has her PhD from Columbia.

Robin and me

Robin and me

As much as I thought it was a drag back then, I've become that mom. I take Olivia to witness what I do for work, because it feeds her bank of experience.

Olivia watching ukulele player Tamaine Gardner.

Olivia watching ukulele player Tamaine Gardner.

She's watched the morning newscast in the studio, been on air with me during a pet segment, accompanied me to my reporter beat checks at the courthouses and police station, and visited me when I reported from a politician's headquarters so she sees what election night looks like. She's wandered around the back-of-the-house at the hotel.

Olivia and Claus at KHON2's riser. Primary election night 2014.

Olivia and Claus at KHON2's riser. Primary election night 2014.

I'd do this in whatever job I work. If I were still in PR, I'd take her with me to a function to see how fancy events go, and what the staff does behind the scenes to keep it smooth.

None of these things, I was exposed to as a child. My dad was a computer programmer and I went to his office once. It was boring to look at a cubicle farm.

I had other learning opportunities, though. My mother was a housewife, which was a wonderful thing for a child to have.

May Day at Royal School. Mom came to all my events because she could!

May Day at Royal School. Mom came to all my events because she could!

So I give Olivia what I can. Recently, a Japanese fashion magazine, Precious, interviewed me for its regular column on businesswomen. I brought her to the photo shoot because I wanted her to see how these go.

Precious photo shoot

Precious photo shoot

She can easily see production shots online or on TV shows, but experiencing things in person is different, and I wanted her to grasp what kind of thought and detail goes into a photo shoot.


Olivia and her dad sat on the side while the team went over wardrobe and locations with me. She watched as they took multiple photos in one area, reviewed it, and then repositioned me for better lighting or framing.

This isn't just some iPhone photo taken in one minute. This is a process. Like anything else - the newscast, or the  events I worked in PR - there is a lot of effort in the end product. This is what I hope to impress upon her.

With Aya and Pakkai of Precious.

With Aya and Pakkai of Precious.

I knew she was bored watching this. When I caught up with her later, she tried to be polite about it, but Claus confirmed it.

But it's OK. One day, when she's older, she'll remember these things I forced her to accompany me to, and hopefully, appreciate it.

Plus, these experiences she's had are fairly uncommon, given my lines of work. I never saw any of that until I was actually working in the news, or working in PR. Heck if my parents were going to take me to a $100 per person function.

I know all the things Steph's mom forced me to read (ha ha) inform me now as an adult. When New England comes up in conversation, or in the news, it's not just a place on a map to me. It's a culture I lived, enjoyed, and relate to, more so because I was exposed to some of its history.

It also enhances my understanding of the world as a global community, rather than seeing disparate geographies as separate from mine. It adds to the concept of universal oneness and that we are all on this planet working towards the same goals of happiness. It erodes the notion of Self vs. Other.

...Wow, I got all of this from Mystic Seaport?

Oh yeah. And about that pop quiz Steph's mom conducted on the car ride home. There were 13 colony states, Mrs. Surwilo. I paid attention... sort of!


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