Archive for the ‘mom’ Category

Disney - Fall 2014

October 29th, 2014
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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
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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.

The newsroom is blue

October 22nd, 2014
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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
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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
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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.

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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.

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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

Angels

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!