Archive for April, 2010

Bachelor Town

April 30th, 2010
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While I was off discovering California's theme parks, playing in places like Disney's Fantasyland and Legoland's Explore Village, my home was being turned into Bachelor Town.

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I came home to find worms growing in the bottom of the dog's water bowl, and one fish bowl as fuzzy as a tennis ball due to the algae. A guppy had died and was not taken out. The baby guppy bowl had a third of the water left and they were swimming in algae and their own filth. The bed sheets had not been changed, and they were dotted with blood stains from Claus' various wounds. (See Claus' fall blog.)

Photo by Olivia!

Photo credit: Olivia!

What the heck?

Oh, Husband. Looks like he had a pretty good vacation, too.

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Bye, Bulletin

April 29th, 2010
By



I'm sorry to hear we're probably going to be a one newspaper town. I suppose it was a long time coming - another symptom of the troubles of the media industry as a whole - but still, I'm sentimental. In fact, my first ever media appearance was in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin!

I was going through some old photo albums recently and came across this: me at the State Farm Fair. I remember the moment fairly well.

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We were with Auntie Bobbie, Uncle Warren, their two kids Shari and Mike, and their niece Melissa. Maybe Auntie Pat, too. In those days, we spent a lot of time with Auntie Bobbie.

We were milling around when a photographer came up looking for a shot. He asked Shari and Melissa to hold each end of the squash. Shari would not. She was - and probably still is - quiet.

I remember adults trying to coax the girls into a moment of fame. I think Melissa wouldn't either, because that's when he turned to me and asked if I would hold it myself.

I was pretty shy, so that began a new round of parental coaxing. "Yes, do it. It'll be fun! Just hold it!" I finally gave in and said OK. I remember feeling self conscious and goofy.

It was on the front page, and my mother bought a dozen copies. I also remember looking at the photo thinking what a dork I looked like!

This was a coincidence. It did not spark an interest in me to work for a news organization. That came a decade later. But, I think it's a fun thing to look back on.

Do you have any personal memories - or favorite memories - of either newspaper?

SPEAKING OF THE STAR BULLETIN...

Thanks, Erika! I'm headlining her Buzz today.

http://www.starbulletin.com/business/20100429_emmys_are_bittersweet_for_former_anchor_ako.html

The Emmy committee surprised me by asking me to be a presenter. They specifically said they knew of the mass lay offs, and as the only staffer from the old newsroom who is going to the dinner, they thought it'd be a sentimental gesture. I am humbled by the fact that they'd even take that into consideration. It's a really classy offer. I will be honored to do it! KHNL representin'!

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The end

April 28th, 2010
By



I ended up coming down with a mild cold on Friday, which was the same day Olivia bonked her head. We got home from the ER early Saturday morning, and we were tired. We decided to stay in at Karen's in the morning while everyone else went to Griffith Observatory. Which, by the way, they really liked.

At Karen's

At Karen's

I, however, am glad I did the disciplined thing. We were both sick and tired, and I ended up giving us both a nap in the afternoon, before Val and family returned and we headed home on an evening flight.

I had a very nice time. I would do it again. Val and I both breathed a sigh of relief that it all went well; it was our first time traveling together, and you never know how you'll mesh in different settings.

Luckily, it was free of emotional drama, though we were surprised and amused to see that the two youngest ones, Olivia and Carson, got so comfortable with each other, midway thought the trip they started fight. All the time. Pushing, shoving, taking, grabbing, name calling- everything but biting (thank goodness.)

Olivia and Carson

Olivia and Carson

It's nice to go as a group; you share resources and discounts. You split the costs. You share the chores. You help mind each other's children.

What I also learned was how completely different it is to travel with a gaggle of children. There just isn't time to talk to each other. Days are spent making sure nobody is getting run over by cars, or stolen at crowded parks.

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Aunty Diane and Carson

In fact, there was one day when a miscommunication led to some panicky moments of what we thought was a lost child. Now that was not fun. I was constantly counting heads to make sure we had everyone, and I'm sure the other adults were too.

Autopia licenses

Autopia licenses

Because we kept such long hours, by nightfall, I'd be too tired to call home. Olivia and I would leave the park at around 8 or 9, and after eating dinner at Denny's next door, then showers and toothbrushing, it'd be 10 or 11 by the time I was ready to think about calling anyone.

Actually, I got her ready first and then put her in bed, on speakerphone with the grandparents or her dad. I'd warn them that I wasn't there to assist the conversation, so if there was a silence on Olivia's part, just work around it. Then I'd continue my own bedtime routine.

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When I finally would call Claus, we'd talk for about three minutes. I started the habit of texting or e mailing Claus during the day to share updates or fun moments (photos included) so that I wouldn't actually have to speak to him. My dad isn't as tech savvy, so I would just call home and let my worry-wart mother know we were safely in bed before hanging up.

Put differently: one night, Claus and I started a phone call in which he told me he was spraying some cabinets for termites. Then I had to hang up because it was time for Val and me to walk down and get our laundry. On the way down, Val asked what's new. I relayed the termite information.

"You should tent the house," she advised.

When I called Claus back some 15 minutes later, I told him what Val said, with a revelation: "By the way, that's been our only scrap of adult conversation on this whole trip."

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In Captain Eo

That's not much of an exaggeration. Most of the times that words came out of my mouth, it was to issue commands at short people, or to communicate with military-efficiency about our daily agenda. There just isn't the energy to sit around and converse.

It's actually easier to watch Olivia at home, because here, aside from having some sitter help, she will take naps, in which I can have one blessed hour of peace and quiet.

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At Reagan Museum

Previous trips for me have been about relaxation or exploration. Relaxing, it absolutely wasn't. Exploratory, it kind of was, for Olivia and I were able to discover new common ground with our relatives, and explore a deeper connection with family members we love.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

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Also reach me at DianeAko.com

ER visit

April 26th, 2010
By



We ended our eight day vacation to LA with a late night visit to the West Los Angeles emergency room. The story starts Friday evening, when the Lees wanted to go to Trader Joe's. I put Olivia to bed and left her home with Aunty Karen. This was at 8 pm.

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When we got home at 10, the noise and lights woke her up. It was my fault, but having three cousins darting in and out of the room didn't help. I couldn't close the door because the women and some children were sharing a room. The kids always want to play, so in pretty short order, she woke up and they were bouncing around the bed. We were sharing a bathroom so there was a line while people prepared for sleeping.

Minutes before it happened

Minutes before it happened

She and Carson were on the air mattress on the ground, taking turns pushing each other down onto the bed and slapping each other's butts. Harmless enough. Except, this air mattress was six inches away from the real bed, and the kids were at the foot of the bed.

Air mattress was here

Air mattress was here

When it was Olivia's turn to get slapped down, she was in the process of moving around, and Carson didn't realize it. He slapped her back, and she lost her balance and fell down. She tried to steady herself on the edge of the bed, but being an air mattress, it collapsed. I have very little experience with air mattresses, but in the two nights I slept on it, I myself fell off it twice because I went to sit at the edge and it gave way. So I know it's totally unstable.

Head hit this corner of bed- where I pulled up the bed skirt

Head hit this corner of metal frame- see where I pulled up the bed skirt

Unfortunately, she fell down, and the left side of her face hit the corner of the metal bed frame. To make matters worse, the frame was not flush with the box spring, so her head was more able to connect with the metal. If there was a box spring there it might have been more of a barrier, you know?

I saw the whole thing. I was too far away to catch her. I suspected she would hit the metal. And in the split second later when she did hit, I heard the thud, and knew it was bad. My heart sank.

Head injury

There was a pause, and then major crying. I ran over to pick her up, and saw the gash was white. I cussed and picked her up. I ran into the living room where the adults were. "I need a bandage and some ice," I said calmly, while inside I was crying. The gash was bleeding big drops of scarlet down her face. Head wounds always bleed a lot, I told myself. Don't freak.

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We iced her down and wiped the blood off. She was whimpering a lot. The other children were crowding around trying to be helpful with offering tissue, holding her hand, or just rubbernecking.

The bleeding didn't stop. We called my friend, who's a nurse. She looked at the photo we e mailed over but couldn't tell how deep it was. She advised us to go in to the ER.

So at 11 o' clock on a Friday night, three women and a toddler checked into the West Los Angeles ER. Pat stayed behind with the other kids. Val drove and Karen navigated. "Karen," I said, "Now you can tell your coworkers you had a wild weekend that ended with a trip to the emergency room!"

It was a fairly quick visit. The doctor, who happened to have worked on Oahu and wants to leave LA for Kauai (can't blame him!), said I could give her stitches or Dermabond. I thought the glue would be less traumatic. We were out by 1 a.m.

Olivia hasn't forgotten about the boo-boo, but it became a source of attention for her. I let her eat chocolate for breakfast. The other kids made a fuss over her. We called it her special Disneyland souvenir. I think she got over it pretty quickly.

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Chocolate

You wanna know what's more of a lasting trauma? I stepped on the hospital scale while we were waiting and saw that I had gained five pounds over the trip. AAAAACK. I knew we were not eating healthy, with a steady staple of snacks, desserts, and theme park burgers. I tried to fight it but after a while, I got tired, and plus, everyone else was doing it, so I caved to peer pressure. And now, I pay the price.

Why I gained weight!

Why I gained weight!

*sigh*

But on a  serious note. I was really upset by the laceration. I know it was totally an accident and I don't blame anyone. I know every child will get some bumps and scrapes, and this is really just a minor incident. But as my first real mom-trauma, it did affect me.

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To complicate things, I was just entering an emotional part of the month. We were at the Ronald Reagan Library that day, and I was tearing up at the beauty of his patriotism. Hello? I'm not even Republican. So this sets the stage. I did what I needed to do but I was weeping inside.

Because of my years of reporter training, I'm excellent at compartmentalizing. I am task-oriented and can get through the crisis, and then fall apart later. Not that I fell apart over news stories, but I've had to use this skill several times during my aging parents' medical issues in the past few years. I found my dad in a diabetic coma and instead of panicking, I did what needed to be done, and then cried later from the stress.

I'm still upset by it. The doctor put a bandage over the wound so that she wouldn't touch it for a few days, and I stalled in removing it. "Aren't you curious to see what it looks like?" Val asked. "No. It hurts me to see it," I responded.

Finally, on the fourth day, my nurse friend told me to take off the bandage to make sure the wound was healing properly. It hurt me all over to look at it.

It's funny, how I thought I was such a tough chick who could handle just about anything. Claus takes all kinds of spills and I tend him. My parents have health crises and I manage that. All those gory news stories. Helping with the corpse cosmetology at Claus' mortuary. Nothing really bothered me. I'm quite matter-of-fact.

Then this. My little girl gets hurt and cries big tears and it just kills me. I remind myself that the guy in the next room at the ER had cut his thumb off in a work-related injury. The adult in me appreciates that perspective. The mom in me doesn't care; all I know is that my baby is hurt and I want to make it better.

"Well, get used to it. There's going to be more bumps and falls in the coming years," Val warned.

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If this is any indicator, oh man. Will *I* make it through?!?

***

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Ronald Reagan Presidental Library & Museum

April 23rd, 2010
By



Nine year old Donovan picked this one, after doing a school project on it. He wanted to see the Ronald Reagan Presidental Library & Museum. A library?, I thought. But it turns out Presidential Libraries aren't actually libraries. They're archives and museums, preserving the history of our presidents.

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It started with President Roosevelt. He raised private funds to build a library, which he gave to the US government through the National Archives. It's so that we can explore our country's heritage by looking at the documents and artifacts that make up our President. There are 13 in all across the country.

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So now I've learned something new.

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This museum opened in 1991 atop a mountain with gorgeous views of Simi Valley, clear to the Pacific Ocean. It's 100 acres, so allow for at least half a day to meander through the building and grounds, especially if you're going to drive the 45 minutes from LA.

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It's pretty much set up like a museum, with rooms that guide you through Ronald Reagan's life, starting from birth. While looking at his old high school photos, I heard a lot of people remarking how handsome and athletic he was. Next, a series of photos and artifacts about his Hollywood years, during which he met Nancy Reagan. Then, visitors can follow his campaign trail, from two-term Governor of California, to 40th President of the United States.

Diane as White House Press Secretary?

Diane as White House Press Secretary?

There are rooms dedicated to historic periods in his administration, like the Cold War. You can look at his motorcade. You can even tour Air Force One. Yes, there is an ENTIRE JUMBO JET in the building!

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No flash photography is allowed, so pardon the yellow and blurred quality of my photos. No photography at all is allowed in Air Force One.

I was very curious about it, having covered many Presidential visits in my time as a reporter. I always wondered what it might be like to be the press on board, but that was always for the national media.

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Sept. 8, 2007

I finally found out. They have a room at the very, very end of the plane. Still, looked pretty comfortable to me. I'll take that over commercial coach any day!

SPECIAL EXHIBIT

The press conference room!

The press conference room!

We were lucky to catch a traveling display of the world-famous White House Exhibit, a 20 foot wide by 60 foot long dollhouse of the White House. It's a one inch: one foot scale. Amazing.

It took John and Jan Zweifel over 600,000 hours to create, and it's a replica of the entire house and grounds, from the Lincoln bedroom to the Oval Office. It's only there for a year, so it leaves in March 2011.

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BERLIN WALL AND SOUTH LAWN

There's an actual piece of the Berlin Wall, which was presented to President Reagan on April 12, 1990. The Wall is outside, sitting in a reproduction of the White House South Lawn - except this lawn has great vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

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We played out there for the better part of an hour, and this ended up being my favorite part of the tour. There is a little grove of well-manicured trees, which ladybugs apparently really like. The children found them, and we all ended up huddling around the base of the trees to count and admire them. There were dozens on and around each tree.

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We met up with a friend, so in all, there were six kids, and I think they needed this outlet. They were starting to bounce off the walls of the museum.

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I'm glad I went. It was a compelling, educational experience!

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http://www.reaganlibrary.com/

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