Disney - Fall 2014

October 29th, 2014
By

Fall break for Olivia arrived, and we found ourselves at Disney theme parks for the second time this year. As I read over what I wrote, sounds a little crazy, considering we fly up from Hawaii to go to the theme park - but it makes Olivia happy.

Mid-October at Disney is a great time. The weather is cooler than at spring break, and the lines are shorter. If you go at the park opening, you'll encounter a long line at the gate, but few lines at the rides for the first couple hours. Terrific!

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We spent two days at the parks - one at California Adventure Park, one at Disneyland. We got so lucky because it was fairly overcast on the second day so we weren't scorched. We chose to spend the third day at my good friend Joann's house in Irvine just hanging out.

At California Adventure Park, Olivia wanted to ride Tower of Terror first. It's my favorite adult ride, so I was game. She rode it for the first time in March, and claimed it was her favorite - but when we entered the spooky lobby, she changed her mind.

"Too late!" we told her. She enjoyed it less this time around, but perhaps a day later it then became her favorite ride once again. I think it's the mark of being a big girl.

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We also took her on California Screamin', an inversion roller coaster, and Cars, which was the longest line we encountered - an hour and 45 minutes for a fast spin around a track. It was all fun.

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We had to get up at 6 a.m. the next day to get ready for Disneyland. The plan was to make sure to see the Frozen princesses.  We tried the day before but learned the tickets are all gone within the first 30 minutes or so of the park's opening.

Disneyland entrance, 7:59 a.m.

Disneyland entrance, 7:59 a.m.

When we lined up at the front gate, people were counting down the seconds until the gates opened. The lines were about 50 people deep by the time we got there, but it didn't take us that long to get in.

I saw people running at full speed once inside, so my Type A personality ramped up and I grabbed Olivia's hand and ran to Fantasyland. Here is how it works: it's so popular to meet the Frozen princesses, you have to line up first thing in the morning, present your park pass, and have the entire party present to receive a number.

At the front, a staffer gives you a ticket of when to return for your 20 minute window. You have to present your Frozen ticket and your park passes when you return, then you line up again to meet them. You cannot line up earlier than your window, and you cannot miss it.

Hugging Anna

Hugging Anna

I had 90 minutes from the time we got the ticket, to the time our turn was up. I looked at my watch like my life depended on it. Like I was Brad Pitt in World War Z trying to catch my chopper to safety. I would never hear the end of it if we left Disneyland without meeting Anna and Elsa.

Olivia & Yulia

Olivia & Yulia

As I said earlier, the lines were short to non-existent, so Olivia was able to ride the Mad Tea Party a whopping 14 times without waiting in line. The first four times, she would exit the teacup and run back into the line. After the fourth time, the attendant told her to just stay in the cup.

Early on, Claus and I (otherwise known as Old People) chose to abort the cup because all that spinning made us dizzy, but young people are so much more durable, so she loved it. By the 10th time, we noticed she was stalking another little girl (doing the same thing, just sitting in the ride consecutively). She walked over and let herself into the cup, and they became friends for the rest of the morning until the girl had to leave.

We also walked right into Peter Pan's Flight, which appears to be one of the more popular rides in Fantasyland. There was absolutely nobody in line and nobody in the cars. I haven't seen that in ages.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

We probably rode about two dozen rides at Disneyland - amazing - but Olivia's favorite was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, because it was fast enough to rate as a Big Girl ride, but not scary.

On our third day we just hung out with a dear friend Joann, who is Olivia's godmother. I love that feeling about good friendships - that there can be time and distance in between visit, but the same closeness remains. I fell in love with her two year old, Jake.

With Jake and Joann

With Jake and Joann

This boy! Oh, my heart!

This boy! Oh, my heart!

 

It was a quick but easy trip. I have a park credit for about $100 that I have forgotten twice now this year to bring along and use. It's my excuse to Claus to return. In the woman's mind, it makes total sense, right, to return to Disney again soon just because I need to use this credit? LOL

Mr. Victor

October 27th, 2014
By

My family traveled to LA for fall break so Olivia could visit Disneyland again, and so we could see our good friend, Joann.

On the airplane, we sat in the middle section, lined up like such: Claus, me, Olivia. In the empty seat, a large man sat down.

He had a warm smile and kind eyes, but Olivia is shy, so she smooshed herself into me and whispered that she wanted to exchange seats with me. We were taking off, so I told her to just stay put.

Victor Clore

Victor Clore

I introduced myself to the young man, whose name was Victor Clore, and confirmed for Olivia that he doesn't bite.

At some point very early into the flight, there was a pink sweater and a dark blue shirt on Olivia's seat. Olivia asked me, "Whose is this?"

I didn't recognize it, so I said, "Maybe it's Mr. Victor's?"

Victor looked down. "This pink sweater?" he exclaimed and held it up.

Victor's pink sweater

Victor's pink sweater

I clarified I meant the blue shirt, at which point Claus claimed it. That was the ice breaker, though. Victor became our friend after that.

I learned that he was a defensive lineman for the UH Warriors from 2006-2009 (sorry, I guess I should've known) and now lives in Oklahoma, working as a personal trainer while his new wife attends school.

I also learned he grew up in Kaneohe, playing football for Castle High School before walking on to the UH team. "It was a struggle for me to make ends meet," he recalled, "but I love football and so I stayed with it. I learned life lessons on the field: teamwork, discipline, friendship. I use these lessons today."

What amazed me most about Victor, though, was his challenging life story. "I grew up poor with nine siblings and a single mother. We lived on food stamps and got a lot of donations. My parents divorced when I was six and didn't really keep in touch with us, and I spent the next four years angry at being abandoned."

He says two of his brothers chose to drown their sorrows in drugs, but he never wanted to do that "because I didn't want to disappoint my mother." It was the harder road, but he took it, and he's happier for it.

Victor had no money, and with no UH scholarship, there were times he ate raisins for dinner and had no breakfast. He slept on the floor of a teammate's apartment. Sometimes he slept three hours a night because he was juggling work, school, and football. He doesn't regret it, he said, because he can look back on a college football career - memories and experiences that poverty can't take away.

Because of these early hardships, Victor now wants to dedicate his career to helping underprivileged youth find their way. "I can relate," he said. "I'm passionate about helping children."

I think he's an amazing person to overcome difficulty then use his life experience to benefit others. What a kind heart.

If Olivia is any indication, the children will really like him back. He has a light and sweet personality, and we conscripted him to play with us.

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We had an art contest, in which Victor and I were assigned a toy to sketch, and she judged who the winner was. We trash talked each other during the contest. "Look at how you're holding that pencil," I sneered.

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"Nobody plays to come in second place," he taunted back, the old football mentality coming out.

"Whenever you want to give your concession speech, feel free," I retorted, not easily intimidated.

When it was finished, Olivia issued a tie. "I, your mommy, am not getting first place?" I stuttered.

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The judges reconvened to reconsider... and declared Victor the winner. "Him? This guy who you met two hours ago? Not me, the mother who gave you life and takes care of you every day?" I gasped. The judge was immovable. I'm sure there was a hanging chad somewhere.

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Victor held up his index finger to indicate he's Number One (whatever!) and posed with his winning sketch. I told him I was pretty sure the vote was juiced and it's on if we ever meet in a flight again.

When the plane ride ended, Olivia hugged him and asked him to come see her in Hawaii for a tea party and a swim. When we left the airport en route to Anaheim, Olivia looked up at the evening sky and saw an airplane taking off. "Bye, Mr. Victor!" she said.

It's nice, sometimes, the people you meet in random encounters. Life is beautiful that way. Good luck, Victor. And don't forget I'm totally up for a rematch.

Handcuffs

October 24th, 2014
By

I regularly visit a few places that require visitors to undergo a bag scan (like the scanners at the airport.) I am, therefore, familiar and friendly with the guards.

At one place recently, my jewelry set off the alarm, so one guard used the wand to inspect me. While he was showing me which pieces of jewelry were making the wand beep, his friend over at the X ray machine said, "So, it's not these handcuffs in your bag."

I thought the guy was making a joke, so I said, "No, it's not my handcuffs," and I gave him an exaggerated wink.

He said, "Can you show me how they work?"

I was amused but surprised because these guys are usually a little conservative, so I laughed and said, "Sure, but not during work hours." I think his colleagues thought this was a joke, too, because we all chuckled.

He persisted, "But I see something round in your bag. How does that work?"

Then I realized what he was seeing. "THAT!" I exclaimed. "You must not be married. It's a purse hook. All the ladies carry one."

I took it out and demonstrated how it hooks the purse to a table top or chair back. It really would make the prettiest handcuff.

We al had a good laugh, and before I left the screening area, the female guard said, "Next time you come back, put a feather boa in your purse."

 

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The newsroom is blue

October 22nd, 2014
By

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.

Local designer partners with boutique hotel chain to offer totes

October 20th, 2014
By

Local business owner and designer Tamar Wong partners with hotel chain Joie de Vivre Hotels’ to offer in-room totes for guests to use- perfect for things like beach days and shopping trips.

Courtesy: Joie de Vivre

Courtesy: Joie de Vivre

The bags will be sold at the chain's Hawaii properties, Shoreline Hotel Waikiki and Coconut Waikiki Hotel. Wong's Oahu-based brand, Happy Town Hawaii, adds this to an existing series of bright, cheery canvas totes.

Encouraging guests to carry the spirit of the islands with them, the ethically-minded bags are available for purchase at either property. Exclusive to Joie de Vivre Hotels, the 100% recycled cotton, customized canvas totes reflect the look and feel of the respective hotels.

Designed, dyed and printed in Hawaii, the reusable totes marry style with earth-friendly materials. Guests of the two Joie de Vivre Waikiki hotels can buy their Happy Town Hawaii totes for $12 (usually sold for $22-28).