Wednesday, May 25, 2011

37

When my parents met at church camp in west Arkansas they were awkward teens from small communities. Buddy and LaDonna grew up a few miles from each other around Malvern. Neither family was wealthy or famous. His dad was retired early from Reynolds and her Mom was a nurse.
LaDonna had one ambition in life: marry a pastor and be a pastor's wife. Buddy was an eager pastor-to-be. They were married as soon as she was out of high school. He worked as a pastor for little money, sometimes holding part-time jobs.
Two years later their first son was due. They returned to the camp where they met --bun in the oven.


Thirty-seven years later, my parents are still married and in ministry together. They face their rough spells, but get through it. Despite their downs, my parents have demonstrated the kind of love and commitment that holds families together. They have loved each other and their kids without condition or pretense.


37 is an important number. Here's to 37 more.
Happy anniversary Dad and Mom!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Vacation, Baby!

Hello, world.
Sorry I have been absent for the last, ahem, week.
I've been busy.
What else is new?

What is new is we are going on vacation.
So, if another week goes by, and you still haven't heard from me, no need to notify the local news, or the national guard.

I'll be on the side of a mountain in the middle of Virginia with my inlaws. Loving life.

Until next time.
Dana

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Prom Night

In the TV news world, well, not just TV news world, in the Washington news world, the yearly White House Correspondents Dinner is known as "Nerd Prom."

And that's just about right.
A lot of nerdy, smart reporters, dressed in prom dresses and tuxes mix it up with some random celebrities and have small portions of food, take lots of pictures, and try to act like they know about pop culture.

At least, that's how I try to act.
Sadly, I'm such a pop culture dropout. I don't recognize many of the actual celebrities. I can spot low level White House staffers, and Members of Congress like a champ though!

One of my favorite things about WHCD weekend is I always have a hotel room in DC.
And my favorite thing about that hotel room, is that this guy is there!
We make the most of the stay. We make it romantic. And memorable.
So, while it's not really a weekend away, we're able to fake ourselves out, like it is! :)

I'm not the girliest of all girls, but the day of having my hair and makeup did is fun.
And, it's nice to see my co-workers all dressed up, too.
This is my News Director, Rob. He is a great boss!
This is my co-worker, John. The man behind all those tied ties! And my steady correspondents dinner date these days.
And more co-workers, you should know my White House Correspondent, Jennifer by now. And that's my Bureau Chief, Robin. Another great boss!

Our table guest this year was Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) and his wife, First Lady Maureen McDonnell. I gave her a new name, FLVA. That's FLVA for First Lady of Virginia. Pronounced "Flava!!" Seriously, how fun is that title?? She loved it.
I think the most memorable part of Saturday night this year was our faux motorcade experience.
We were riding in a black SUV, right behind the Governor's SUV, and the Gov's SUV is fitted with blue lights, motorcade like blue lights, you know, because he's got places to go. So, we hit some traffic congestion on the way, we were following behind the Gov's SUV, so when they put the lights on, our driver just drove real fast, real close behind, and we were at the Hilton in no time. Jennifer and I were holding on in the back! What a thrill!
This year, I hardly had any celebrity sightings, at all.
I did picture crash one picture of Amy Pohler. I'm sorry, I still haven't googled her name, so I don't even know if I spelled that correctly.

I did see a lot of actual White House reporters there, which is good. I was particularly glad to see this guy, an old co-worker, a good friend, and White House briefing room buddy, Joe!
President Obama and Seth Meyers were both really funny!

A lot of people ask about how close we get to the President at this dinner. The answer is, not very close at all! I come much closer to him, at work, when I'm covering events at the White House, than I do at this dinner. It's a huge room, and we sit in the back, usually. So, I just watched him on the screen.It was a fun night. The whole walking-on-the-red-carpet thing is kind of surreal. I always come right back down to reality. 24 hours after this, I was watching a group of teenagers play Jenga at church. Such is life. And that is a good thing!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dropping Some Journalism Knowledge

Recently, I had the chance to drop some knowledge on some college students from William and Mary, who are in DC for a semester program. I spoke to them at a reception at the National Press Club.

I got a little swag bag and everything.
Here's the thing.
I do not consider myself to be some Queen of journalism expert.
On any level.
I do consider myself to be a lover of this business, a hard worker, a smart networker, and very blessed in my career.

I'll share with you now, by request, my tips for succeeding in the biz.

Tips for new/aspiring journalists:

1. Pay attention to the news

-Read the “paper,” watch TV news, start now.

When I was in college, I started reading 4-5 newspapers (at least scanning them) a day. This is a lot easier now that we have the internet. This is key. It will teach you what is good writing, opens your eyes to slants in stories, and trains you to take in a lot of information, quickly. Now I can do this on the train on my way to work, all from my iPhone. I still watch 2-3 network newscasts each evening. Same principle applies.

2. Be a stalker

-Note the names of people you look up to, the people around them, and check out their background. News is a small business, and people move around a lot. Once you’ve been in the business for a little while, you’ll be surprised how the people who know the people you know, may be able to help you out.

-Make contacts and mentors through every way you can think of. Facebook. Phone calls. E-mails. The Press Club. Keep in contact. It’s actually a great ego boost for a working journalist to help a younger journalist, because it makes them feel accomplished.

-Be persistent with your contacts when asking for an interview. Go to coffee, lunch, etc. Building these relationships goes a long way!

3. Chase the “crack”

-Figure out what makes your adrenalin rush, and do that thing. If you get a rush out of long, investigative pieces, write those. If it’s sports, do that. If you love politics, chase that. Because if it’s “crack,” you’ll want to cover it, your job won’t feel like work, and the fact that you’re making 60% less than your friends won’t matter as much.

4. Be a quick learner and a utility player.

-When I worked in local news, I worked as an assignment editor, a show producer, a researcher, a video tape editor, a graphics artist and I shot high school football on Friday nights. Not all at one time, all the time. Working in a smaller market, we didn’t have the staff, so we all had to juggle many hats, but this teaches you invaluable lessons. You’re able to fully understand what putting a newscast together takes, and when you move on to a bigger market, or a management position, being able to relate to all of those jobs is key for being a good leader.

-Whether you’re a general assignment reporter or a newscast producer at a small local TV station, or covering the White House, I’ve found that being a quick learner really helps. So does coffee. Obviously, this will help you in school now, too! Build your skills of knowing which facts are most important, first. Because one day, you’ll have to be the expert on where the school district lines lie, and the next day you’ll have to be an expert in nuclear proliferation. It happens. Don’t be surprised. Because you have to at least seem like you know what you’re talking about.


5. Ask for it.

This tip goes back a long way. It’s even in the Bible! Ask, and you shall receive. I will never forget when I learned this. I was just out of college, and I was producing news on the weekends, then filling in where I was needed three days a week. The 5:30pm producer left. I wanted that 5:30 show so bad! But, I just knew, or I thought I knew, that I wasn’t qualified. Then, one day, I got some guts, went into the News Director’s office and told him I wanted that job and asked him what I needed to do to get it. He told me he was just waiting for me to ask.





Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life Lately

Okay.
I'm going to be straight with you.
Anyone who reads this blog and/or knows me, knows I'm obsessive about making lists, and checking things off.
Truth: I have a list of blog topics to write about.
Truth: Some of these topics are getting stale.
Truth: I kind of think of this blog as a little scrapbook of our lives, so I like to put pictures and what not up here not so much to entertain you, but so we can look back and remember what our days were like.

Keep that in mind as you read this post and the randomness that it is.

There have been so many little things I've been wanting to tell you about.
Like this little book of questions my good friend Mariesa sent to us.

It's by the "Love Language" folks, and basically, it just gives you and your spouse a chance to talk about things you might not talk about otherwise. It's been fun so far, getting to know this stuff about each other.

My answer to this particular question: a trampoline. My brother and I asked for it every birthday, and every Christmas, and always got the same answer from our Mom, "Lawsuit."

I also wanted to tell you about an awesome meal I made recently, which involved salmon...
And a salad topped with fresh strawberries...
But, alas.
I can't remember what I did to these things that made them so good.
I've been on a "freestyling" kick in the kitchen lately.
It's been fun, and good.
But I haven't been paying attention to anything I've been making, so who knows if I'll ever be able to re-create any of this stuff!

I wanted to show off this bread because it was my best bread yet!
The trick was putting it in a slightly smaller pan! And freezing after baking, oh, how I recommend that. I was worried about how it would taste after being frozen, but it's delicious! And easier to slice :) Yum. I can't wait to make some more. Don't know when there will be time for that though, so right now, there is some store bought bread in our pantry.

I also wanted to share with you an honor I received at work:
Employee of the Month! It meant so much to be to be recognized by my co-workers. I have the best co-workers on the planet. Just sayin'. I thoroughly enjoyed the little shopping spree my Employee of the Month loot provided.

Did you notice my new glasses?
I was finally able to get new glasses and contacts, thanks to our tax refund.
Thank you, Jesus.

Michael and I are really, really enjoying each other lately. Not that we haven't always enjoyed each other. That's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying we are seriously best friends. Best friends who enjoy lounging together in sweats...
and getting outside in this beautiful weather, too!
Easter Sunday, Michael DRAGGED me out to the court yard to enjoy lunch after church. I went, kicking and screaming, because I'm not a sit-in-the-public-courtyard kind of girl. I'm fine at the pool. But sitting in the courtyard, even though I guess that's what it's there for, seems weird to me. But M knew I wanted to get some sun. And he knew if I just started cooking and cleaning, I wouldn't get to do that. So, he dragged me, kicking and screaming. And we ate leftover salmon and had smoothies, right there on the lawn. I got my first sunburn of the season!
We took the doggies out there, too.
They were getting a little hot.
They're not used to the sun anymore!
Somebody (shockingly) was being ALL DRAMATIC...
Mmm. Hmm.
He's seeking some shade.
Oh, Brokaw.

We've actually really been enjoying more and more time outside!
I finally swept off our back porch.
We lost a hanging basket over the Winter.
Who knows where that ended up.
I want to get some more plants.
Poor plants.
I feel like when they see me coming at Home Depot, they should run and hide.
Because they're going to be executed.
Maybe I can find some suicidal plants.
I took Brokaw for a long walk one day last week to tire him out.
I think it worked.
On me!
Princess and Michael just chilled on the porch.
Yes, he's panting.
Wimp.

I've also wanted to share with you this book we've been reading over breakfast. "Hope for Each Day," by Billy Graham. It's simple. Yet wonderful. And it's perfect for framing our minds around what is really important first thing each morning.
Let's see, what else has been going on lately?
Oh, yeah.
Some people got married.
Ah, yes. Will and Kate.
Congratulations to them.
Good for them.
But you know what?
You want some real honesty?
Michael and I weren't really into the wedding. We were annoyed by all of the "news" coverage leading up to the wedding. But, we are up at 4:00am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays anyway, so it was on. Fine. It is history. So, I thought, I'll leave it on.

The thing is, Friday morning, at about 5:00am, Michael is finishing up going to the bathroom, and I'm in the bathroom helping him clean up. Quite frankly, it really is gross. It has gotten A MILLION AND A HALF times better than it used to be, but there is still a lot of febreeze spraying going on if you catch my drift.

So.
Yeah.
Skinny, beautiful Kate in the background becoming a Princess, while I dealt with that shtuff was not cool at all.
It made me cry.
And I don't cry all the time like I used to.
So, that sucked.
I kept telling myself to stop comparing this to the Royal Wedding day.
No, it's not fair. But that's not a fair comparison. So, I tried to re-route my comparison to our wedding day, because that day, was grand. And beautiful. And it felt royal.
Much more royal than taking care of bathroom stuff.
So, I missed the actual ceremony.
Oh well.
We already have a Princess around here anyway.
That morning, I guess in some feeble attempt to make myself feel better, I tried extra hard to look "cute."
This involved a headband and a scarf. The headband made me feel a little bit like a 10 year old. And the scarf made me feel like I looked like a flight attendant.
In the end, I was horribly late for work. And I decided after that, I'd rather just be me, and be on time.
Cheers.

On Getting Help from Friends


I've been meaning to post this for, I don't know, weeks.

I don't know about you, but I have a bit of a problem asking for help.
Actually, a big problem.
I hate it.
Which is funny, because I love to help other people, and I don't think it's pitiful or needy when someone else needs a helping hand, but my prideful self absolutely DETESTS needing anything.

I also hate it when my husband needs anything. And I mean anything.
And this is a bit problematic, because, well, he's a quadriplegic.
I forget that, all the time! Oops.
It's so bad... my hatred of help... even to the point that I get mad at him if he asks for help. I'm ridiculous, I know.

But, I'm working on it, okay?

Recently, a big victory, and a small one. Both of which I'm going to share with you now.

First, the BIG victory.
I went out of town, for one night only, to New York.
Our friends, Danny and Nassika, had invited us over for dinner.
But, since I had the work trip, I couldn't go.
My first thought was - oh, we can reschedule.

Then, something remarkable happened!
The far fetched thought that Mr. Wonderful could go by himself! What, he can leave the apartment by himself??? Amazing, right?
I'm horrible.

It was so great. While I was in New York, realizing I had forgotten my pants, and interviewing Donald Trump, the Mr. was here, having fun (and an excellent meal) with good friends.
Doesn't that make you want to DROOL?
They were kind enough to pick Michael up, take him back home, and help him get into bed that night.

Admitting we could use this help was a good thing because it gives that friendship room to grow, and that's where the real good stuff is.
I'm so thankful for good friends.

The small victory was this --
Ah, yes, a whole pile of tied ties.
My friend and co-worker John, who ties the best of ties, tied each and every single one (and some bonuses!) of Michael's ties. So I don't have to next time he wears one.
Trust me.
This is good for our marriage.
Because one of us gives annoying instructions and the other one does not particularly enjoy following directions.

Funny - as I write this, I'm struggling with this same issue again. I'm heading out of town for another work trip tomorrow. These friends will be helping Michael again. And while I am incredible grateful for their friendship and their help, I still hate it. Just a little bit.

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