Archive for the ‘mom’ Category

Math is relaxing!

September 28th, 2016

I'm bad with numbers. I have no idea how this happened. After ninth grade, it all went downhill for me.

I partially chose my career in communications by process of elimination, I joke. I know other journalists think the same way.

(2015) Words only, please. No numbers.

Words only, please. No numbers.

My daughter doesn't like math, either, but I'm not yet convinced all is lost. She's just nine. I hope she will embrace math more than I.

A scary-smart friend of ours  - a polymath, if you will! - totally can't relate to this attitude. "I find math relaxing," Derek shared, then said something that sounded like: "I love breaking down a long, multivariate polynomial equation down to just its rational coefficients."

Oh, sure. Don't we all?

As my friend Paul Drewes likes to say, we all have our "silos of knowledge." It's just that my silo burned to the ground and there's no money in the foreseeable budget to rebuild. The execs actually eliminated the funding for it.

My math silo was dragging down the P&L so badly, they razed it and rebuilt a shelter for wayward aardvarks in its place, because that is more productive.

My brain on math.

My brain on math.

I'm the person who recently confused what year we were in. When Claus told me about something he wants to do in five years, I said, "So, in 2031?" I was super proud of myself for calculating that in under a minute.

Then he gave me that familiar look of pity and love, the kind a Southerner gives when uttering the phrase, "Bless her heart," and corrected, "It's not 2026."

Or maybe that's not a math silo. Maybe that's just the black hole of my memory silo.

Shoot. Have I said too much? Did I scare off future potential employers?

I digress.

When the MatheMagic show came to Hawaii Theater, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser gave it such a good write up, my husband decided it would be worth a shot to show her how fun math is. Thanks a lot, John Berger.

Claus is hilarious. He's so strategic. Only, after 15 years of marriage, I see right through him.

First he suggested, "Hey! Wanna see a magic show?"

We said yes, and I asked, "Who? John Hirokawa?" That's the best known magician in the Islands.

Either that, or the huge ads for Magic of Polynesia on the Roberts Hawaii tour buses was money well spent. Someone in marketing needs a raise.

Then he simply handed the iPad to me to read the article. The first word was "Math." I rolled my eyes. I know when he's trying to manipulate us.

Again, thanks, John Berger.

Trying to be open minded, I said OK. After all, I probably will be the one who benefits most from it. Plus, he's just trying to do something nice for us.

MatheMagis show at Hawaii Theater

MatheMagis show at Hawaii Theater

We found ourselves down there one hot Sunday afternoon, and the show was OK. It was fun when he did the magic, but got a bit boring for me when he launched into an explanation of the pyramids' math. He is, by the way, a good showman.

It was cool and dark in the theater, and I was tired since I had spent the morning in the sun washing two cars and one dog. I got relaxed and then I started nodding off.

This was about halfway through the show. I slept through the rest of it.

Derek was right. Math IS relaxing!


How to drive your spouse crazy!

September 26th, 2016

I didn't clean my house for two years. Well, it's not that bad... we did the minimum.

We weren't living in filth. We just didn't deep clean.

I saw piles forming, clutter building, and stuff sprawling. I saw it and had no energy to do anything about it.

As I've been slowly finding myself again, I have had pockets of energy where I want to tackle some longstanding pile.  In doing so, I've found other things:

A long-dead big cockroach in my bathroom cabinet, that was crusty with white mold and dissolved into crumbs when I picked it up.

Enough fur under the couch to build a new large-breed dog.

My slipper that went missing for three months and drove me crazy looking for.

Pencils and coins under the sofa cushions (of course!)

Some school supplies (ruler, protractor, etc.) that, had I looked sooner, I wouldn't have had to buy. Murphy's Law.

A zillion missing halves of Olivia's earrings.

A school note that I was supposed to do something about. Last year.

Nine more beads from Olivia's broken bracelet that I had already restrung. They just kept popping up everywhere.

A bag of dead Funyons.


Look, my husband is awesome and domestic, but deep cleaning isn't his thing. I'm lucky he can and will do everything else.

Here's the thing. I'm a big pain in the butt now. I think my family's going to soon hate that I'm home all day.

("What do you mean by 'soon'?" quipped Claus, when I read him this draft.)

Good hubby.

Good hubby.

I've deep cleaned my personal spaces and I asked Claus to do his (the garage.) I had the nerve to sweep the whole garage and move his stationary bike trainer and extra wheels. "Don't move those," he said. "They're carbon fiber and they dent easily."

Then I asked him to please clean the garage shelving. "What shelves?" he questioned.

The ones above the washer. "What's wrong with them?" he asked.

"They are such a big mess of man junk," I pointed out. He gave me silence for a response.

We have a nine foot long kitchen counter and a dining room table. In my house, any horizontal surface is an invitation to put stuff there.

The counter and table were laden with things before. Anything and everything. Papers, shells, crafts, science experiments, candles, books, beads, massage oil, fishes, shrimp, picture frames, and so much more.

I finally got around to cleaning it all off. We see the counter again in all its granite glory.

We paid a lot for that. Might as well be able to look at it.

Claus had the habit of claiming one end of the counter as his "desk." I claimed the other counter. (Even though we have separate home offices.)

"If I have to move my stuff, you have to, also!" he complained. So I did.

The next day, a small pile was back on his corner. "Hey!" I noted. "Your stuff can't live there anymore!"

"Just leave it for now," he growled. "When are you getting a job, again?"

"Do I make you crazy?" I laughed. I got raised eyebrows for a reply.

"But you know I love you, right?" he added.

"Sure," I said. "But if you loved me, you'd clean the garage shelves."

Posted in dad, family, mom | 4 Comments »

To have or not have a baby?

September 23rd, 2016

I know I got your attention with that headline, but this isn't about me. I'm not asking if we should have a second child.

Olivia 2008

Olivia 2008

We have the one, and we're good with that. One and done.

This is inspired by a conversation with two friends in their late 30's wondering if they should have a child. They're on a fence: they like their yuppie lifestyle, but they also like the idea of a family.

I get that. We asked ourselves that same question before we took the plunge.

Claus and I shared our thoughts on what can be a very difficult question to answer, and it just got me thinking about this nearly decade-long journey of parenthood.

Olivia 2009

Olivia 2009

Our short answer is: yes, have a kid or three (if it's just a lifestyle question, money notwithstanding.) They're fun, and they change your life for the better.

Very hard work. Very big reward.

I don't think I would have known what I was missing if we didn't have a baby, but I'm glad I did. I feel I'm a better person for it because it's changed me on the inside.

I don't think I was not good before, and I'd have been perfectly happy to have lived my carefree lifestyle centered around my husband and our whims. I would have stayed caught up on all the current trends, events, movies, music, and restaurants.

Peru 2005

Peru 2005

We would have been to another 10 countries by now if we continued on our previous travel track. My world would have stayed a tidy, orderly place where I never forgot to pay bills or put money in the account before the check got overdrawn.

Italy 2004

Italy 2004

I would have always had the time to see my esthetician and hair stylist every six weeks. No roots. No messy brows.

I cannot tell you how many various layers of stress having a baby has brought us. Maybe you think about some of the obvious: having to use your sick day if your child is sick. School applications and tuition. Vacations only in developed nations now. Weekends dedicated to their activities and playdates.

I'll be honest. It can get monotonous.

Every school day is the same thing because only routine can tame the chaos. There are periods in which I just want my time for myself, and it's frustrating.

Some people say "You can keep living your life. You make the kids adjust to yours." I respect that everyone's attitude, situation, finances, and experience is unique, but I totally disagree. It may work for some, but it didn't for us.

For instance, I found that forcing Olivia to stay out late because it suited my travel schedule, or forcing her to sightsee for eight hours in Paris simply ended up backfiring on me. She slept in the stroller and when we returned to the hotel dog-tired, she was wide awake and wanted attention.

I could go on and on about the ways I've adjusted my life around mothering. Work schedules. Priorities. Travel plans. Hobbies. Everything. This whole blog is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

On the other hand, I really like being a mom. I'm in love with her, and more every day. I had no idea that was even possible.

I look at her sleeping and love to nuzzle in her hair and whisper that I love her. I love how she puts her arm around me and tells me how much she loves me.

Romantic love is great, and you could say all that about your spouse. But, in ways I found tremendous, overwhelming, beautiful, and inexplicable, it's so different with my child.

It's softer, it's deeper, it's bottomless. Even if you think your spouse walks on water, it's still just... more with your child. She's my favorite human in the world.

I get excited to see her after school. I love to talk to her and share her world. I love to make her happy with little gestures and gifts.

I take her to a movie date for Girls' Night Out and she's so happy. It never gets old. Then she brags about it at school, which I think is cute.

I love marking her change and growth, and watching her blossoming intellect and personality. I love when she finally gets a concept we've been working on.

I see the world differently. I'm much more patient, compassionate, forgiving, and nurturing. She reminds me to appreciate what really matters: the connection.

She told me recently she didn't care what we did for our next Girls' Day, as long as we are together. She said we can just take a walk or play at the beach, and that it doesn't need to involve anything fancy or expensive. She's so cool.

16-7-31 Mommy Livi hold hands

I love her, and I love being her mother. I'm grateful that I took a leap of faith and had a kid, because it's been a good journey so far, and I like who I've become, simply because I am learning more each day to see the world through my heart.

So that's my opinion... what advice would you give to someone unsure about having a baby?

President Olivia

September 19th, 2016

Olivia and her friend Kiryn were trying to talk about the Presidential election, which led to a discussion about what they would do if they ran the country. The following is their list of laws if they were POTUS:

  1. No school on Tuesday (the other days are fun)
  2. Free ice cream every day
  3. Driving allowed at age 13
  4. Bedtime can be 10 p.m. for nine year olds
  5. Free iPads for all kids and all people except old people (30 and up)
  6. Paint the White House pink
  7. Mom and Dad can stay in any room we want in the Pink House
  8. Homes for homeless people (aww, sweet)
  9. Friends come over/ sleep over whenever they want, and no adult supervision
  10. Cake for dinner every night
  11. Pets for everyone
  12. University is free, and the classes can't be too hard

These are my suggestions if I were POTUS:

  1. Nobody works weekends
  2. Outlaw traffic jams
  3. No using weedwhackers or leaf blowers during nap times
  4. Apple will come up with a voice silencer for whining children
  5. Paid maternity and paternity leave for one full year (this is a reality in Scandinavia. So advanced.)
  6. Mandatory daily naps
  7. Naked travelers, so we can get rid of those long TSA lines. Nothing to screen! (Brilliant: everyone will exercise to get in shape, and it will lower medical costs!)
  8. No more wars. World leaders will win decisions via bake offs


We all sat down and drew our campaign posters. The girls said I have to choose an animal to represent our campaign, and bunny and dog were taken (doh! but what else is there now?!?!) and they wouldn't help me pick an animal because we're opponents, so I came up with panda all on my own. Then they said I had to draw it on my campaign poster; please don't laugh at my horrible job.

IMG_1627 IMG_1628

We then drew straws to decide the order of speeches. Claus was told he would be the voting bloc. Hawaii should take a tip and instigate mandatory voting, so we wouldn't be embarrassed year after year with low voter turnout numbers.


I pulled up my iTunes and we picked introductory music for ourselves as we walked up to the podium (a repurposed stool.) I was not only a Presidential nominee, I was the a/v technician.

If real campaigns were run like this, the media would have no scandal to dig into regarding campaign spending. We spent not one dollar on advertising, convention halls, decorations, staff, or even wardrobe. I think Olivia was wearing one of her cousin's hand-me-down shirts.

There was a little bit of concern from the other candidates that the voter might be biased because I'm the voter's wife, and "everyone knows the moms are the bosses. Is he going to choose you because he has to?" So I gave Claus a Presidential nominee pardon for this one exercise.


The girls wrote campaign speeches but I winged it because I felt 20 years of newscasting prepared me for this moment. "No fair, you know how to do that!" came the howls of protest.

Hey, life isn't fair. This is politics, baby.

Our combined speeches took ten minutes. Everyone ran a clean campaign; no mud slinging. I was proud of us.


The media would be so sad if this were real life. How would we go wall-to-wall with coverage for 12 hours? Who would buy election ads?

In the end, Claus would not pick. He decided it would be a draw. He pointed out this would be a great new way to govern, because we can share the responsibility.

The voter

The voter

When the girls are in school, I can be President, and when they're home and I'm tired, they can do it. They thought that was bogus, but I thought that was an interesting solution.

Then the co-Presidents got tired of this; the smaller ones moved on to Shopkins and the grown up one started cooking dinner. If you think about it, the real politicians could learn a lesson from the kids.

Keep it short, keep it tight, play fair, and then move on to something else productive.

Miss Ocho goes to school

September 9th, 2016

Once again, the annual trotting out of the family cat occurred at Olivia's school for Sharing Day. I packed up the cat up and gave her a pep talk about how exciting this was going to be for her.


"I hate every single one of you."

She goes out once a year and therefore this little outing prevents her from qualifying as an official shut-in. Besides, this is how she earns her keep.

She is 13 so she really doesn't hunt birds or cockroaches anymore. In fact, the birds come into our garage to wait for her breakfast leftovers.

I think they're actually friends now. At the very least, they have come to a detente.

The understanding is they ignore each other. I don't appreciate this. I don't like birds in my garage.

It brings Olivia and her classmates much joy to have a kitty in class. It's OK as long as I come and go with the cat as soon as the show-and-tell is over. Cat can't hang out all day.


"Hands! Hands! So many hands!"

I put a pretty pearl necklace on Ocho for her big moment, and brought a bag to hold her in. We didn't let the cat out of the bag.

Olivia proudly stood up in the front of class and recited a few facts about her pet, and answered some questions. Claus was there too, and we were proud of her for speaking loudly and clearly and not being shy. It make us happy to see her so happy.

Afterwards, the children lined up to pet her. This went over quite well.

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

"Deep breaths. Deep breaths. This too shall pass."

Ocho is a very good kitty and didn't struggle or complain. She didn't love it (you don't say!), but she tolerated it well.

Claus and I brought her home and took bets on where she'd run first: the yard for freedom, or the attic, her "safe place." He won.

It's the little things. I like that the cat is my main drama and gossip for the day. I like that the classroom constitutes a large part of my social life for this week.

The cat's happy too, now. She can go back to her normal pattern of eat, rest, repeat for the next 364 days. I hope that's enough recovery time for Ocho.

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