Friday, January 23, 2009


I'm two days out from covering the Inauguration, and my mind is still spinning. What a great time to be in TV news! Here's a rundown of my exciting experience:

We stayed in a hotel about 6 blocks from the mall, because there was no way we could get in and out of DC and make deadlines. On Tuesday morning, I woke up about 1:30am to finish writing an early-morning story previewing the day. I sent my voice track via laptop and my producer and I headed out to wait for a car service to take us to our camera. Because we were on the north side of the parade route, we couldn't cross over.

The car dropped us as close as he could - about 6 blocks from our location. Walking, it was interesting to see all the people, and their kids, camped out in the cold, waiting to be let loose on the Mall!

I barely made it to my camera in time for a 4:30am Early Today show hit. My co-worker was originally supposed to do it, but she got stuck in the security sweep.

At 5am, the most amazing thing happened: people started RACING onto the mall in droves. And I do mean racing! For almost two hours, I watched this unbelievable spectacle of people running for blocks, trying to get the best spot. I don't think I'll ever forget the older lady I saw (about 70) pushing her walker across the grass in the dark, trying to keep up with the masses.

By daylight, the 4 blocks in front of me and about 7 more behind me were full and shut down. People were singing and trying to stay warm in blankets. What really made an impact on me was the cheerfulness of this crowd. They'd been up all night, now standing for hours in the cold. And everyone was smiling!

I did live reports off and on until about 9:30am. During the actual Inauguration, we were right in the thick of it - taking pictures and interviewing people in the crowd for our afternoon story. The sheer emotion of it was overwhelming. I spoke with a woman from Texas, a soldier, who'd been sick, but made the effort to get to DC because she believed Obama would bring her fellow troops home from Iraq. I talked to another man who was so overcome with emotion when Obama took the oath. He said he felt he could do anything.

I had many friends and relatives who came for the event. We tried to touch base via text or cell, but finding anyone in that crowd was nearly impossible.

I put together a story on the crowds for afternoon newscasts and did live shots from the now-empty mall until about 8:30pm. Then we walked back to the hotel.

What a day!

Friday, August 29, 2008


I'm winding up my week at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I'm exhausted but SO glad to have been here. You really get the sense of what it's like being part of history. I wasn't alive when Kennedy or MLK were shot, and don't remember when man went to the moon. So I've never been able to answer those "where were you" questions about some of the most important events of our time. But when my kids ask me: "Mommy, where were you when the first African-American was nominated for president?" I can say: "I was RIGHT THERE!"

I didn't get to Invesco field because of my work schedule. The overnight reporter recaps for morning and midday news shows what happened the night before. So unless you stay up 24/7 for a week, we miss the evening events. I watched them on TV, like you, from my hotel.

That scene at Invesco was beyond words. It WAS like a concert, except that you knew people were there for more than just fun. They were looking for inspiration. Some of them found it in Obama.

The lines to get into the stadium were incredible. I was headed OUT of the area six hours before Obama was to speak and saw lines several blocks long, two and three deep, waiting for shuttle buses to take them over. It was HOT! It amazed me the sacrifices people were making to see him in action.

If you've never seen what the "media village" looks like at one of these large events... well... it's incredible. Tents, equipment, satellite trucks, platforms 2 and 3 stories high, miles and miles of cable, people everywhere, food (we're trapped for days - they have to feed us!) - a real controlled chaos.

Our media tent is in the parking lot of the Pepsi center. We call it our "workspace." It's 6,000 square feet, carpeted with astroturf and tables, phones, computers and editing equipment everywhere for us and our affiliates. You can't go anywhere without a credential, and if you don't have the right TYPE of credential, you may get stopped.

The catering tent is next door. We get four meals a day. The theory is that people are working such odd schedules, they offer meals at times so everyone can get at least one or two. The food's been great.

Now that it's over, security's pretty much gone - but there's a MASSIVE cleanup job here. My division alone filled a 58-foot trailer with equipment. Black cases are everywhere, packed and stacked on flats to head to St. Paul for hte RNC next week.

If I had to miss the first week of school, this was worth it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It's just before 7am, and I'm freezing and quite sleepy, high above the convention floor at Denver's Pepsi Center, site of the Democratic National Convention.
I'm covering the morning/noon shift, reporting for NBC affiliates across the country - which means my work and sleep schedules are pretty much opposite the rest of the world this week. My reports start at 2am local time (Hawaii's 10pm news) and go through 1:30 pm (Portland, Oregon's midday show). We've been doing about 25 live and 30+ taped reports a day.

Here's my schedule:

Wake up at 8pm to watch the speeches, write and record my voice track. Go back to sleep for about 30 minutes (if I can), then get dressed to ride with my overnight colleagues to our workspace outside the Pepsi center, about 20 minutes from our hotel.

Security's tight. We park about 1/4 mile from the site and go through 3 security checks to get in. Our workspace is a 6,000 square foot tent - it's actually quite nice. What's amazing is to see the massive amounts of equipment that was shipped and set up here. It's like creating an entire TV station!!!

Since I'm on the early shift, we recap the night's speeches and preview what's coming up today. I'm watching news events feed in live, writing, and doing taped and live reports about 13 hours a day.
By early afternoon, we head back to the hotel and try to get a few hours of sleep before starting all over again at 8.

Grueling, but fun! Who could complain about being in the center of history!

One thing that's tough is not being "in the middle of the action." When the convention hall is filled with cheering supporters, I'm asleep or in my hotel room watching. When it's empty, I'm at work reporting on events from the day before. Still, it's exciting to be here.

Super-sleepy... with 6 hours to go. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Welcome to my first official "on the go" blog! I'm riding through South Carolina headed home from a family trip. We sat on the interstate for about an hour due to a really bad tractor trailor accident - one of three we saw in just a few miles. It got me thinking about how much time we spend on the road.

My commute's about an hour a day driving, almost two if I use public transit (which I actually prefer). It's always interesting when I visit friends in small towns, where 20 minutes is considered a REALLY long commute! I envy all the extra family time they have, getting off work at 5 and being home by 515.

I was recently in Atlanta, and for all I've heard about the horrible traffic there, we got from downtown to everywhere we wanted to go in under 30 minutes - much less in some cases. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Several things to share today. Perhaps most importantly:
In the process of researching a story today on Vitamin D, I ran across info on a government web site that indicates breastfed babies are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to "rickets" -- which is basically like osteoporosis (fragile bones) for kids.

Apparently of all its benefits, breast milk has very little Vitamin D, compared to what the government and the American Academy of Pediatrics say children need. AAP actually recommends Vit-D supplements for babies. Who knew? I never remember being told this by a pediatrician with any of my children.

Warning: before you go popping vitamins in your baby's mouth: ASK YOUR DOCTOR!

In other news:

I recently read a really interesting article in the Washington Post which I thought was well-written but failed to address the underlying problem. The Fairfax County, Virginia school board has decided to spent $60,000 to put cameras in its high schools to discourage students from stealing food! According to the article, the district lost $750,000 in 2001 from students pilfering extra cookies, another burger, etc. from the lunch line.

I'm no proponent of stealing by any means, but these are KIDS... stealing FOOD. Did anyone consider the fact that maybe they're HUNGRY? I mean, who wants to snag a chicken wrap and let it get all soggy in your backpack, just for the fun of it. I'm thinking most kids who swipe the food EAT IT! So what gives?
  • Are teens not getting breakfast, leaving them super-hungry by lunch? If so, why no breakfast? Are their families unable to afford it? Have they not been convinced of the importance of good nutrition?

  • Are teens snagging a snack for later, because they don't have enough money to buy something to eat after school, or because there's nothing available between noon lunch and the end of football practice at 5:30?

  • Are portion sizes appropriate for growing teens? Are we giving them skimpy meals, leaving them with growling stomachs during 5th and 6th period? Does the district need to revisit its lunch servings and perhaps shell out more to keep these 17 and 18 year olds nourished?

  • Are prices too high for kids who are hungry to buy a second sandwich?

I am NOT making an excuse for stealing. It's flat out wrong. But when people are stealing food, you've gotta assume it's because they're hungry, and deal with that issue.

MY latest school issue isn't nearly so weighty.

I've been on the hunt for a Princess backpack for my second-grader. OMG - I've been to 10 stores! There are plenty of backpacks, but they're too small or thin for the THREE INCH BINDER on my 7-year-old's school supply list! She's like a "baby tween" - old enough to need a big kid backpack -- but young enough to still want the cute (and tiny) character ones.

I finally settled on an American Princess backpack that she can pull if that huge binder gets too heavy in 3 months when it's full. Took me forever to find a once that's cute, sturdy and roomy. There's a butterfly on it - no Cinderella or Snow White - but it says princess, so I'm hoping she'll buy it.

If not, too bad - I am NOT going back out into that school shopping madness!!!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


While (nearly) all my co-workers are off eating Moo Goo Gai Pain between live shots, halfway around the world, here I am at home facing my own Olympic trials --

the kids' closets!

Spring cleaning has morphed into "end of summer" cleaning for me. At 1am, I'm sitting in the middle of the floor of my five-year-old son's room trying to figure out which clothes he'll still be able to wear in December.

It's a Herculean effort. You see, my friends and I have a massive "hand-me-down" habit - which is wonderful, because kids grow so quickly, many clothes we buy are barely worn. The other day, one mom in the group sent me home with two huge - I mean HUGE - bags of clothes. With my son out of town with his grandparents this summer, I'm trying to "guesstimate" his sizes, so I can have the closet cleaned out, organized and ready when they return just before school starts.

So my conversation with myself, sitting here on the floor at 1am, goes like this:

"This SAYS size 4, but it's huge - and he doesn't have pants that color. We'll try them - in the drawer they go."

"This size 5 shirt should fit, but it looks short. Back in the bag."

So here I am, surrounded by chinos, last year's uniform pants, summer T-shirts, winter boots, etc. etc. It's really a blessing to have so much to choose from. But I'm also trying to figure out which friend's child is the right size for OUR hand-me-downs.

Of course, that's the boy's closet. The simplest one.

For my daughter, there are fewer clothes, but more decisions. It's not just about can she wear it, but WILL she wear it. At 7, she's hit that age when she doesn't want to look like a baby, but I'm not ready for her to turn into "Second Grade Spice" overnight. So cleaning her closet, my conversation with myself is more like this:

"Cute dress. But those puffy sleeves look too kindergarten. To the giveaway pile."

"I love that sweater, and I just bought it at the end of last season. She'll wear it, if I have to drag her to school in it. Back in the closet."

It's really kind of fun, in a way. If you think about it, you're watching your kids grow before your very eyes. Clothes that fit just a few months ago are either too small, or no longer appropriate for their age. Last year it was Thomas the Train - now Batman. Not long ago, she was Dora. Now princesses. I am NOT ready for Hanna Montana!

My babies are growing up - and between tears, I think I'm handling it quite well.

Give me the gold!

Monday, August 04, 2008


No, not the anti-segregation kind... the "should my 5-year-old ride" kind.

My son's headed to kindergarten (yeah!), and I have not a care in the world about him hopping on the school bus. Which is wierd, because when my daughter started two years ago, I was totally against it. My biggest fear was that she'd get off at the wrong stop and get lost.

Now, I'm actually looking forward to seeing Andrew hop on with Mr. Manny later this month. He's so excited. But so was Anna.

Why am I feeling so much less angst? Is it because I'm more familiar with the school, the route and the driver? Or -- might I think that because he's a BOY, he can take care of himself? Not consciously, but it is interesting that my husband - who wasn't concerned about Anna - has already decided to drive Andrew. He thinks Andrew may get lost and not be able to find his class once he arrives at school.

Deja Vu!