Archive for the ‘mom’ Category

The newsroom is blue

October 22nd, 2014

This is Olivia's impression of me on the news: "Hi. I'm Diane. Welcome to KHON2 News. What day is it Ron?"


Came the question: "Mommy, why do you like your job?"

I thought she felt miffed that I am often wiped out by the time she's done with school and not that playful. She wasn't.

"Because you always come home happy and you leave on time every day. I wanted to know what you like about it," she explained.

How cute that she noticed! Though, how she knows I leave on time is a mystery since she's usually zonked out when I leave in the 3 o'clock hour.

"Well, I love seeing my friends at work and I love what I do. It involves reading, writing, and talking- all stuff I'm good at," I said. "It's important to love what you do because that's where you spend most of your day."

I asked if she wants to do what I do. "It doesn't look interesting to me," she said, and parroted me on the news.

"You like coming with me to work. Why?" I asked.

"Because! The newsroom is blue!" Olivia answered in a "duh-isn't-that-obvious" tone.

Maybe she'll be a painter when she grows up.

Kalei's interview

October 13th, 2014

Olivia had a family tree homework assignment, and part of it included interviewing a family member. Her calabash aunt was over, so she decided to interview Kalei.

Here is where differences start to show in our personalities. The question was, "What are a couple major events happened in your early life?"

I kept offering things that I know happened during Kalei's life: Reagan assassination attempt, Chernobyl meltdown, Berlin Wall crumble. Always a journalist, I guess.

Claus suggested, "What about a fishing trip your dad took you on that meant a lot? What about a family tradition you really love?" Sentimental.

Kalei's stream-of-conscious vetting of answers is comically adult-rated. "What about the time my parents disowned me when I was 14? Or when I was suspended from school for smoking in my uniform?"

"No. That's not really second-grade appropriate," I laughed.

Artist rendering of Kalei.

Artist rendering of Kalei (standing between waterfalls.)

"OK, then there was the time I went to Sea Life Park to pet a dolphin and was freaked out by it and have not liked fish ever since," she recalled.

While we were debating the child-friendliness of this answer, Olivia went ahead and wrote it down, and drew a photo of Kalei to go with it.

This is Kalei's version of events. I probably should have just made the effort to call my 85 year old Auntie Roz instead of asking my hilariously sarcastic thirty something gal pal:

I think we were in two different places because I recall it went down like this:

Liv had a school project to interview someone, so she interviewed me.

The first question was "When is your birth date?" so I replied "None of your business," to which Di said that was an inappropriate answer for a school project, so I gave it up.

The rest were weird questions like "What elementary school did you go to," "Where were you born and raised," "What were your hobbies when you were my age," "What were your chores when you were my age," "What could you buy with five cents when you were my age," "How much is it now," then the last question was "Tell me a story or something important that happened when you were little."

My first answer was, "I was attacked by a border collie so I'm still working out my issues with dogs." Di said it was not seven-year-old material, then my next answer was, "When I was in Japan I asked my grandma to get me a baby chicken; it bit my face and then died, so I'm scared of chickens." Again, Di said to mind my audience.

So then I said, "I moved out when I was 14 to live with my best friend because I grew up in an unhealthy environment." Di said definitely too deep for a second grader's project.

So my final, edited, and approved answer translated by Liv on paper is "Sea Life Park pet a dolphin now scared of them."

Note how I said "approved" answer, because this was not an interview. It was a collective storytelling of my life as edited by the peanut gallery of Diane and Claus. You call yourself a journalist?

Guest ringmaster at the circus!

October 10th, 2014

The Moscow International Circus came in for a weekend, bringing its high-flying, huge-energy, heart-pounding acts to Honolulu audiences. I had the honor of being a guest ringmaster at one of the performances!

Me as guest ringmaster!

Me as guest ringmaster!

I showed up an hour early to make sure I was in place and knew where and when to walk. I had a little script that I memorized, including the exact wording of the all-important roll cue "on with the show," so that the director knew when to dim the lights.

photo 1

I was allowed to mingle backstage with the glamorous performers, which was definitely a highlight. I sat in the ladies' dressing room for half an hour learning a little more about their backgrounds and their passions for the circus.

photo 1

Olessya from Kazkstan, Olena from Ukraine, Ana from Brazil.

Ana, who hangs by her hair, among other acts.

Ana, who hangs by her hair, among other acts.

There's Ana from Brazil, who hangs by her hair and swings around in the air. "It is very painful. You learn to tolerate it but never get used to it," she revealed.

Ana, flying in the air!

Ana, flying in the air!

There's Olena, the hula hoop master from Ukraine.

The Mongolian Angels trapeze duo.

The gorgeous Mongolian Angels trapeze duo Oyungerel Davaatseren and Davaasuken Altantsetseg


They were Olivia's favorite act!


There's the Mongolian Angels, a trapeze duo who started touring with the circus at age 14. They train and workout a few hours every day.

Relaxing before the show

Oyungerel relaxing before the show

I was amazed to learn many of the performers are born into the business and are family acts, but those that aren't often start training very young (pre-puberty) and are ready to tour by their early teens. Such a thing exists as circus college, where one can learn balance, gymnastics, acrobatics, high wire, trapeze, gymnastics, and other skills for this industry.


Susanna Seafire, from Maui.

Susanna Seafire, from Maui.

Me with two Hawaii residents!

Me with two Hawaii residents!


Many of them have been doing this work for a couple of decades.

The Amazing Raymond, another local.

The Amazing Raymond, another local.

They tour for about 10 months a year so they become each other's ohana. "I love these people. I don't have a wife and children and these people are everything to me," affirmed Cornell "Tuffy" Nicholas, the show producer, a lifer in the biz.

The youngest performer is age four. She has so much stage presence and charisma! As a mother, I fully realize now that one is either born with it or not. This little girl just went out and wowed the crowd.

I appreciate the joy and laughter these hard-working folks bring to audiences around the world, and a tiny part of me was tempted to want to run away and join the circus too, because it looks like fun. However, I could not imagine touring for 90 percent of the year.

Some of these people have children at home waiting for them. That part would break my heart. This is certainly not a job, but a lifestyle.

My walk from backstage to the ring.

My walk from backstage to the ring.

When it was time to open the show, I donned a sequined jacket and walked down a long carpet into the ring as announcer Al Waterson introduced me. My job was to get the audience excited. I had a very short script that presented the show and the real ringmasters. It was brief but so much fun!

The show itself was amazing. To be clear, no animals were in the show. This circus is more like the Cirque acts in Las Vegas, than the flaming-hoop-jumping-tiger deals of yesteryear.

For most of the two hours, I literally had my mouth agape with wonder, fear, or a little bit of both, as the acrobats executed the most precise and incredible acts. Sometimes it was, *gasp* Is he going to fall? Is she going to catch her trapeze partner? Sometimes it was, How does she do that?!

My daughter loved the clown acts interspersed in the show. At seven years of age, her sense of silly is at its ripest.

There was also a high-stakes balancing act, an illusionist, a contortionist, jugglers, and much more.

My daughter was thrilled to attend. Before we went, she was expecting the traditional circus that her storybooks illustrate - you know, Dumbo and the like. After we left, she exclaimed, "I loved it! Can we go back?"

I'm dreaming of the circus...

I'm dreaming of the circus...

The circus has packed up and left for now, but the next time it's in town, I know where we're going!

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

October 8th, 2014

Did you know that one in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing or mixing up similar words? Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and contrary to some beliefs; it is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn.

I've met or known people with dyslexia over the years, but the challenge really hit home when one of my best friend's son was diagnosed with dyslexia. Because I talk to her frequently, I get an up close look at the many issues the disability presents and the ripple effect it has on their family's life.  I also know the boy, and know how smart and funny he is - so my heart goes out to him to see his frustration at learning the conventionally-taught way.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, a non-profit, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia as well as related language-based learning disabilities, dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels.

People who are very bright can have dyslexia.vThey are more often capable or even gifted in areas that do not require strong language skills, such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales and sports.

Dyslexia is not simply “reading backwards.” Some of the warning signs associated with dyslexia include:

• Difficulty learning to speak
• Trouble learning letters and their sounds
• Difficulty organizing written and spoken language
• Trouble memorizing number facts
• Difficulty reading quickly enough to comprehend
• Trouble persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
• Difficulty spelling
• Trouble learning a foreign language
• Difficulty correctly doing math operations

Parents who suspect that their child might be exhibiting signs of dyslexia or another language-based learning difference are encouraged to take action as soon as they suspect a problem. The earlier a child receives intervention the sooner he or she can get on the path to successful learning.

What to do if your child is exhibiting signs of dyslexia:

• Contact your child’s teacher, head of school, guidance counselor or pediatrician and express your concerns.
• Request a formal evaluation of your child by a professional or request a referral for testing to confirm a diagnosis of dyslexia or another language-based learning difference.
• Visit the International Dyslexia Association’s website for an online screener, fact sheets and helpful resources for parents.
• Be an advocate for your child. If your child is diagnosed as having dyslexia, fight for proper accommodations in his or her current school or look into specialized schools or tutors. Information and resources can be found at
• Keep a positive attitude. A diagnosis of dyslexia or another learning difference is not the end of the world. Children with dyslexia are bright, capable and able to go on to college and successful careers. If your child has dyslexia it simply means that he or she learns differently. Many top CEOs, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs have dyslexia.

Not all students who have difficulties with these skills have dyslexia. Formal testing of reading, language, and writing skills is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.

The IDA operates 42 branches throughout the United States and Canada and has global partners in 20 countries, including Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Ireland and Japan.  Its website has links to Hawaii resources as well as occasional Hawaii seminars and workshops on the topic.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

October 6th, 2014

Olivia and I saw the screening for Disney's new movie, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which we enjoyed very much. The movie is about a boy who wishes his perfect family would have just as bad a day as he often has. When his wish comes true, he learns a lesson about love and why the bad days aren't so bad after all.

There's a lot of children's movies that are fun, but enough that are really boring for adults to be dragged to. I know. I subscribe to Netflix and when it's Olivia's turn to pick a movie I secretly play on my smartphone when people aren't looking.

It's silly and clean fun, and we both laughed a lot. I loved the cameo by Jennifer Coolidge as the severe DMV license tester. The funniest part for me, though, was a scene in which the boy (Alex) accidentally tattles on his dad for losing his baby brother in the mall for 45 minutes.

Alex said something about, The store manager wanted to call the police but Dad said not to. The mom character raised her eyes with a mixture of concern, panic, anger, and relief.

I know that exact feeling because my husband lost our kid at the mall for about 40 minutes. It happened last September, when I was in the middle of an all-day interview to join the Pacific Century Fellows (PCF.)

I was required to show up early in the morning (maybe 8 a.m.?) at a conference room and went through a three-part process that lasted me four or five hours. Other people had different interview times and so some stayed for a total of about eight hours. But that's another story. I was really stressed out because the competition was stiff.

I put my phone on silent, and when I saw it ring at lunchtime with a number I didn't recognize, I sent it to voice mail. I probably would only have taken a call from Claus, and only because he knew I was in this interview, so he wouldn't call unless it was an emergency.

I forgot to check the voice mail when I finished the day because my brain was shot from too much thinking. I got home and Claus totally acted like nothing happened all day. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "How was your day, Honey?"

Claus: "Great. I took her to the mall. We had a yogurt and went into a few stores."

Me: "Thanks for taking Olivia all day. You're not too tired?"

Claus: "No, it's all good. But... funny thing happened at the mall. She wanted to go into this store and she went to the Hello Kitty section while I looked at another section of the store. I thought I could see her out of the corner of my eye but somehow she walked past me and out the door."

At this point my heart rate is starting to accelerate because I realize what Claus has done is, in journalistic terms, bury the lead.

Claus continued: "So I walked outside and she was nowhere to be found. I walked around and around and didn't see her."

Me, suppressing small panic attack. It's like the movies where you know the ending is OK (she's home, she's safe) but the storytelling arc is so compelling you still freak out anyway as you listen to the drama play out.

Me: "YOU LOST OUR CHILD????????"

Claus: "More like temporarily misplaced. I brought her back in one piece. It's the end result, right?"

Me: If my eyes could roll further back in my head they'd have done a 360. "No. YOU LOST HER FOR 40 MINUTES???????!!!!!!! ...So then what happened?"

Claus: "I went into every store and I was calling her name, and she was nowhere. After 10 minutes I started to panic."

I am a super Nervous Nellie and even when she's here at home I peek out the window every ten minutes to check on her even though I know she's with the neighbors and it's a safe street. I am SO NEUROTIC.

This pretty much tripped all my sensors. As a barometer, when the incredibly laid-back Husband is nervous, it's serious.

Claus: "I called mall security, and they said a lady had reported a lost child outside the yogurt shop. So the guard took me to the yogurt shop where Olivia was sitting on a bench waiting for me. The lady was nice enough to keep her while Security looked for her parents."

If I had a bottle of Valium I would have swallowed more than the recommended amount. Child abduction is my worst nightmare. I CANNOT BELIEVE he lost her for 40 minutes.

After I completed my breathing exercises to calm down and retracted the wife-daggers back into my eyeballs, I hugged my daughter so tight she complained. Then I hugged her tighter.

At some point much later when I noticed that I had a voice mail, I listened to it. It was the security guard from the mall, looking for me. So that was the number I did not recognize! Olivia had only memorized my phone number, not Claus' (which is something I immediately rectified after this mini-crisis.)

It's probably lucky for Claus that I didn't retrieve this in the middle of my day or before he could ease into the confession himself because I would have been a fuming mess walking into my house.

You can bet when she's on his watch now, I'm checking in every half hour to see if she's OK. I should require him to send a new photo every quarter hour, standing next to today's paper, just to prove he's still got her.