Archive for the ‘mom’ Category

A day in the life of a morning anchor

November 14th, 2014

The question is often asked of me, What is your life like with an early morning job? It's different, I'll tell you that.

Di & Ron, KHON2 Wake Up 2Day anchors

Di & Ron, KHON2 Wake Up 2Day anchors

I wake up around 2:30 a.m. for a shift that is officially weekdays, 4 a.m. - noon. I say "officially" because it can go longer depending on what news breaks after the show.

Screen shot solo shot

I do my own makeup and hair, and while we have a dressing room at work, I prefer to do it at home. Once I get in, I read through the scripts (which is a lot for a three hour show) and help write any unwritten parts. There is always something to write.

Wake Up 2Day's executive producer, Chanel, with Ron and me.

Wake Up 2Day's executive producer, Chanel, with Ron and me.

Wake Up 2Day producer Adam, me, Wake Up 2Day producer Lance, and photographer Terry.

Wake Up 2Day producer Adam, me, Wake Up 2Day producer Lance, and photographer Terry.


We have three producers and an associate producer working behind the scenes. They start as early as 11 p.m. the night before. They find the content for the show by updating any big stories from the night before, and by looking at what's making national headlines.


Once we're in the show, it moves pretty quickly, especially if there is breaking news or many in-studio guests. It's fun and it keeps us on our toes. In this age of social media, part of our job is to keep the social media pages updated as well, so we post Facebook and Twitter updates during breaks, particularly if it's news people really need to know, like a major traffic accident and road closures.

Di interviewing guests outside the studio.

Di interviewing guests outside the studio. Carlson on camera.

It is critical that an anchor team get along well in order to make the show run. I am lucky in that I joined a well-oiled machine with a terrific group of professionals. We all get along on and off air, which is such a blessing.

Jai Cunningham, Di, Ron at Shriners Ice Challenge.

Jai Cunningham, Di, Ron at Shriners Ice Challenge.

I'm fortunate that I clicked with my co-anchor Ron Mizutani immediately, and that within a few days of knowing each other, it felt like a long and comfortable friendship. One can't fake that kind of energy - nor predict when it will happen - and it does come across on air.

Di & Ron

Di & Ron

After the show, the entire team meets to debrief what went right with the show, what can be improved, and what's coming up tomorrow. Ron and I then immediately go to our desks to start writing any elements that we can for the next day's show.

Most morning anchors in television news are required to get off the set and file reports from the field, which will air on the evening news. The entire on-air staff leaves the meeting and goes into reporter mode after the morning news. There is always a story that I'm researching or working on. If I have a shoot that runs late, I stay until the story is filed.

Around 1 p.m. I usually get tired and need a nap! When your body is not in sync with the sun's rhythm, everything is thrown off. I could easily work a 12 hour day under "normal" circumstances, but because I get up so early, I get tired much faster.

I choose this shift because I have a second grader, so I can pick her up from school and spend time with her after work. I may be a bit of a zombie, but at least I see her, and it's worth it to me.

Mommy & Olivia

Mommy & Olivia

I go to sleep at 6:30 p.m. Other people work out their schedules different ways, but I like eight hours a night, so this keeps me fairly balanced. It is, sadly, too easy to slip back to "regular" life after the weekend, which makes Mondays hard. Therefore, I don't like to stay up past 9 p.m. even on a day off. Consistency is key.

I have to pick out my outfit and prepare my food for the next day before I go to bed, because that saves me valuable minutes in the morning. I feel like I'm in elementary school when my mom made me do this the night before!

I have no social life. I cannot tell you how many evening activities, parties, and events I've turned down because of this.

The crew!

The crew! Emi, Moose, Lance, Adam, Jai, me, Ron, Jared, Taizo, Kelly, Chanel

However, I love and need it. I love the energy of the newsroom, the type of work I do, and the passion it fulfills in me. I have known since I began this career right out of college that I loved it, and I consider myself lucky that that passion has not diminished over the years.

On my birthday! I love these guys! Jai Cunningham, Ron, me, Kelly SImek, Taizo Braden.

On my birthday! I love these guys! Jai Cunningham, Ron, me, Kelly Simek, Taizo Braden.

I also love and appreciate that from the minute I walk into the newsroom - pre-dawn, mind you! - that I'm happy. I so enjoy seeing my friends here. It's amazing that we are joking and chatting before, during, and after the show - and a nice validation that we like one another and the product that we collaborate on. This feeling is not something I take for granted, and is another big reason why it's well worth it to me.


I love my job. How many people can go to work and say that?

Math homework

November 12th, 2014

Olivia writes her homework on a tablet that the teacher assigns. Every day, either Claus or I checks it and does it with her when she comes home.

Usually it's the child who makes the mistakes with the homework- doesn't copy the assignment down, doesn't want to do it, forgot the books at school, etc. Today it was the parent!

It was Claus who took charge on this day, and since we are often tired by 5, he misread the pages assigned for math. He jumped 20 pages and some three weeks ahead in her curriculum.

She struggled through the work, but with his help, finished it without complaint. When he went to check off that box on the homework list, he said he realized his mistake.

Discreetly, without letting her know he messed up, he then opened the math book to today's homework and had her finish that as well.

Now there's a piece of paper tacked to the bulletin board at home with a finished assignment, and in a few weeks when she gets to that page, she'll be pleasantly surprised to see she's already done it.

I just hope she doesn't figure it out and scold Claus for his mistake! Ha!

Whose workplace is more fun?

November 10th, 2014

I took Olivia to work at KHON2 with me recently because there was a day of no school. She's been there before for half a day, but this was the first time she came at 4 am with me.

She really, really wanted to come with me, and I warned her she couldn't complain about the early wake up. She was a very good girl and woke up promptly.

I laid out a sleeping bag at my desk and she snoozed for the first half of my show. Then, around 6:30 a.m., she woke up and wanted to sit in the studio with me.

Sitting on my lap at the anchor desk.

Sitting on my lap at the anchor desk.

She sat quietly without complaint, playing video games and talking to Kelly in between Kelly's weather segments. I told her I was proud of her for being so good.

Olivia and Kelly

Olivia and Kelly

After the news, I took her to Kissaten Cafe for breakfast and cheesecake. The owner was nice to her and gave her ice cream.

After the day was over, we drove home, and she admitted she was tired. "Now I know why you're tired all the time, Mommy. And now I know why you like your job so much," she said. I thought that was cute.

On the floor by my feet.

On the floor by my feet.

"I want to come to work with you every day!" she continued. "Please can I come tomorrow?" She likes that everyone's so nice to her, that we eat at Kissaten, and that she can watch me live instead of waving at the TV in the mornings.

I told her she could come back the next time there's no school, but it also depends on what I have going on at work. She might have to go with Daddy to his work at Moanalua Mortuary, if I'm too busy.

"I like your workplace way better! Please?" she begged.

"What's wrong with Daddy's place?" I asked. I think there's nothing quite as exciting as a newsroom, but I was curious to see what she thought.

"Well, for one, most everyone's dead there," she explained.

So, I thought I was such a cool mom, but maybe the bar is lower than I thought if my competition are people who are no longer drawing breath.

Tooth fairy strikes again

November 7th, 2014

Olivia lost another tooth. She insisted we pull it out because it was all wiggly and she was too impatient to wait any longer. She looked like a prizefighter just out of the ring with her bloody, toothless smile.

That night, she wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy to please leave the tooth so she could bring it to show our friends who we were about to see in California, then to school for Sharing Day. She decorated the area around it with ornaments.

It is her first dental activity since starting second grade. It's a moment of pride, you know.

I love the note. It's so cute. Here it is. I love that she still believes.

photo 2 photo 1


I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving

November 3rd, 2014

I saw my mother at the care home. I had to find professional care because my husband and I both work and are raising a young child.

14-9-22 Mom

She has Alzheimer's but still remembers Olivia and me very well. The rest of our conversation is a short, endlessly looping script about the time of breakfast, where is my dad, and asking to go to the bathroom. I will catch her up on our lives, but she sort of zones out and doesn't seem to understand.

When I leave, it's always the same: "Don't go. Stay with me," she pleads. I always stay for a little bit more, but then I have to go, and it always tears at me.

The challenges of Alzheimer’s disease—the physical burdens, financial costs, emotional turmoil and family strife—can reduce our loved one to a “he” or a “she,” a person almost devoid of humanity. Though I'm not caring for her at home, I know most caregivers' lives revolve around the basics, like doctor’s appointments and dressing, feeding and cleaning up after loved ones.

But who are they now that this disease has taken over? And just as important, who are we? In I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving, dignity-in-caregiving advocate Frances H. Kakugawa presents a new vision of caregiving.

Art courtesy: Watermark Publishing

Art courtesy: Watermark Publishing

I Am Somebody is a reminder that both loved one and caregiver deserve compassion, respect and a life with dignity. As a caregiver for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother for many years, Kakugawa often felt embattled and at odds with her mother. Through writing, she had a revelation.

“I wrote a poem, from my mother’s point of view, imagining what she would say: ‘When I soil my clothing, or do something absurd, / Do not tell me, “Why didn’t you?” / If I could, I would.’ This idea came to haunt me and became my mantra whenever I wanted to shout in exasperation, ‘Why did you?’ or ‘Why didn’t you?’”

In poetic voice, Kakugawa explored further what her mother might have wanted to say: “Speak to me, for I am still here. I understand hugs and smiles and loving kindness. Speak to me and not around me. I am not a she or her or even a room number.”

Having put herself into the position of patient—a label she eschews for the negative attitudes it engenders—Kakugawa discovered her attitude toward caregiving had shifted. “Once I embraced this new person who was evolving before me, once I let go of the person I wanted my mother to be and instead let her be herself, caregiving turned into a freer flowing river.”

I Am Somebody offers guidance in using poetry and journaling to become a more compassionate caregiver. It is a therapeutic tool providing advice and insights in the form of poems and journal entries from twelve individuals—men and women with a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, ages, faiths and education who have cared for mothers, fathers, wives and husbands—who have made this difficult journey.

Kakugawa and her fellow caregivers paint a vivid picture of the caregiving journey and all of the attending struggles, triumphs and deepest fears. I Am Somebody gives voice to the caregiver experience, allowing unspoken feelings to be expressed and caregivers the space to explore what their loved ones might say, if they could.

Caregivers will find this assemblage of experiences resonant, while those who are more peripherally involved, such as non-caregiving family members and medical professionals, will gain new insight into the daily caregiving experience. Kakugawa opens each chapter with advice directed toward both caregivers and those in their support circle.

I Am Somebody is Kakugawa’s fourth book on caregiving. Her previous works include Watermark Publishing titles Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry and Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, a children’s book about families living with grandparents with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses (a Mom’s Choice Award® Silver recipient), and Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice from Willow Valley Press of California.

The award-winning author of twelve books and “Dear Frances,” a monthly advice column for caregivers in The Hawai‘i Herald, Frances H. Kakugawa conducts workshops and lectures nationwide. Through her writings, workshops, school visits, readings and speaking engagements, she helps others embrace caregiving and, through their writing, discover their own humanity. Kakugawa was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in Kapoho, a plantation village covered by lava flows. During her years as an educator, she taught in Hawai‘i, Micronesia and Michigan and lectured at the University of Hawai‘i. She is the recipient of the Hawai‘i-Pacific Gerontological Society Award for her work with the elderly and appears in Living Legacy: Outstanding Japanese Women of the 20th Century in Hawai‘i.

I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving (ISBN-13 978-1-935690-59-7) is available in softcover for $16.95 at bookstores, other retail outlets and from online booksellers, or direct from the publisher at