Archive for the ‘mom’ Category

Custom curtains

March 27th, 2015

Olivia said she's tired of her green walls and asked me to paint her room pink. I said no.

It took me three years to paint the chalkboard wall. She might get pink walls by graduation. By then her favorite color will be blue.

I told her the next biggest thing we could do the change the room would be to change the curtains. She has drapes that are 80 inches long, so it practically takes up the wall.

She was excited, so I brought her to the fabric store to pick out material. In my mind, I envisioned super cute tokidoki curtains. Maybe, for variety, three different backgrounds but all fitting the same character theme. (Sanrio set me up well to become a fan of tokidoki.)

I remember when I was a child, my tastes ran so counter to what the adults liked. When I crafted with my mother and aunts (which was constant), I always thought their suggestions for my projects were so boring. Now, I'm that boring adult.

The first thing she asked for in the store was a fuzzy rug material that was neon green and fluorescent pink. <?!?> For curtains?? No.

Also, knowing that she changes her mind every other week, I told her it would have to be fabric on a budget. I gave her a price limit of $4 a yard, though I ended up giving in and letting her go up to $6 a yard.

To my amusement/ horror, she wanted three different materials for the three separate curtain panels. Olivia has always been really colorful so it wasn't a total surprise, but none of her materials match. I pointed that out, but she didn't care.

Then, the project gets more elaborate. She saw the notions section with all the sequins, ribbon roses, and lace, and asked me to embellish the curtains.

The chosen fabrics and notions.

The chosen fabrics and notions.

"Honey, this is rather complicated for Mommy. I'm not the best seamstress. I'm a desk worker," I pushed back.

"But! You ARE THE BEST seamstress! You made me that skirt! Please?" she said sincerely.

And visions of Super Mommy danced in my head. I acquiesced. "OK. Pick out the decorations."


I walked out of the store having spent double the money and committing to double the work.


Two weeks later, I finally finished the curtains. Naturally, it took even longer than I thought because half the notions needed to be hand sewn.

Hand sewn ribbon roses and sequins.

Hand sewn ribbon roses and sequins.


Good grief. If I was more experienced I could have realized that in the store and rejected it.

They are pretty cute, though when taken as a collective, so mismatched!

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

Taking the Right Precautions For A Family Member With Dementia

March 18th, 2015

Not every person struggling with dementia lives in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. In fact, more than 15 million Americans – usually family members or friends – provide unpaid caregiving to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a 2014 report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

My mother has Alzheimer's Disease and in the early stages of her diagnosis, she was living at home. These are some of the considerations my father had to make to keep her safe.

Although it’s wonderful so many are willing to assume that responsibility, it’s also important they take steps to make sure the home is a safe place, says Kerry Mills, co-author with Jennifer Brush of the book “I Care: A Handbook for Care Partners of People With Dementia.” (

Part of that is to focus on potential hazards. The concept is not unlike new parents making a house “childproof.” Many of the concerns are similar, such as stairs, electrical sockets, sharp objects and swimming pools.

At the same time, it’s easy to go too far, Mills said. Ideally, the environment for the person with dementia should be as unrestricted as possible. “For example, if your loved one enjoys cooking for a hobby and can safely cut and peel vegetables, then by all means, encourage it,” Mills says.

Mills suggests several ways to make a home safer for someone with dementia:

• For the front and back doors. Use bells on the doors, motion sensors that turn on lights or alerts, or other notifications that make the care partner aware when someone has gone out. Add lamps or motion-activated lighting so people can see where they are going when they are entering or leaving the house.

“Another way to discourage someone from wanting to leave the house is to make sure that he or she gets plenty of outside exercise whenever possible,” Mills says.

• For stairways and hallways. Add reflective tape strips to stair edges to make stairs more visible. Remove obstacles, such as mats and flowerpots, to minimize risks of falls on or by the stairs. Also, install handrails in hallways and stairways to provide stability, and install a gate on the stairway to prevent falls. Improve the lighting around hallways and stairs by installing more ceiling fixtures or wall sconces.

• For the bathroom. Install grab bars and a raised toilet seat to help both the individual with dementia and the care partners so they don’t have to lift the person on and off the toilet.
Add grab bars inside and outside the tub, and a non-skid surface in the tub to reduce risks of falls. You can also add colored tape on the edge of the tub or shower curb to increase contrast and make the tub edge more visible.
Lower the water temperature or install an anti-scald valve to prevent burns, and remove drain plugs from sinks or tubs to avoid flooding.

• For the possibility the person becomes lost. Provide your loved one with an identification or GPS bracelet in case he or she wanders. Label clothes with the person’s name, and place an identification card in his or her wallet with a description of the person’s condition. Notify police and neighbors of the person’s dementia and tendency to wander.

Making marble magnets with kids

March 13th, 2015

I'm always looking for a fun kid-friendly craft. If it's too difficult, Olivia will end up losing interest and making me do it, so these cute little marble magnets were a good choice.


Often, we play weekends by ear, partly because we are so tired during the work week that we can't think that far ahead. Other times, though, we wait to see if the neighborhood kids are out and about, or if some adult will wake up Saturday with the energy to call another adult to schedule a playdate.

Failing all that, Ben Franklin Crafts Hawaii is on my regular list of fallback activities.

So here's what I bought:

Flat Marbles
Flat Disc Magnets
E-6000 Glue
Really cute craft paper with hearts and words on it (you could just use pretty pictures from a magazine)


You'll also need a scissors and some newspaper to work on in case you drip glue.

There's more than one way to do this, but this was what I did - considering I had two impatient seven-year-olds to oversee.

Find the desired section of the paper and glue the flat side of the gem onto it. Let dry. Cut the marble off the paper. This will probably not look perfect, but if you're doing this for fun, it won't matter. Use E-6000 to glue magnet to back of glass gem. Allow to dry. Attach to any metal surface and enjoy!


You could absolutely buy these, pre-made, for less at the store, but think of the ten whole minutes of fun you have just bought yourself. Until they start bickering over who has the glue or who is hoarding the prettier paper.

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?