Monday, March 20, 2017

First Week on Set

He did it! He got the lenses in.
It's been an exciting week, 3 days in a row on a movie set, watching Mason live my dream and can I tell you, I think it's better helping him succeed. I don't know all the way because I didn't get this far in my pursuit, but I also didn't start until I was 30. I had to figure it out, pay my own way, learn the ropes and then wouldn't you know, 7 years into that journey, I was a working actor and Dave and I found our love of a lifetime blossoming. It was a no brainer and here I am today not only living it with Mason, but giving him the gifts of an early start, knowing how to navigate these waters for him, and a love of the business that I see growing in his heart more each day. I'm just so full of gratitude and love, my eyes are welling. I just can't say "thank you" enough. So now he has homework, he needs to practice putting in creepy white contact lenses for filming next week. With his determination, I'm sure he'll make it happen. 


But now since I've been gone for 3 days, I have laundry to do, groceries to get, dinner to prep...laughing! All I really want to do is nothing, lie in bed, watch tv and doze off. Ah, but that is not to be, it's back to real life, which is pretty dang awesome, too!

Speaking of pretty dang awesome, my hubby bought tickets for us to see Beauty and the Beast this weekend. I was really excited and it was good, but I wasn't wowed. The cinematography was great and the CGI was state of the art, but I didn't like that they didn't stay true to the story. Okay, they did mostly, but they added songs, which was fine, but they changed up who Belle's father is/was, where he was going, and why. The fight scene at the castle seemed even longer in this film than it did in the original animation (which was too long in my opinion as well), and finally, the ballroom dance scene seemed to be downplayed. They could have made the dance more of a focal point and the fight less so. I don't know, maybe I'm just nit picking, but that's my two cents. Dave would be sure to add that I did sing along to all the original songs and I loved being there with him. So check this out, these are side by side images of the two of us when we got engaged in 2001 and our last family photos in 2016 - isn't it cool how much the same we still look? Okay, older for sure, but still happy. I think our love shows, don't you?

2001 and 2016

Monday, March 13, 2017

Moving Through the Stuff

Preston Castle - this is where the movie is being filmed.
This week has been busy, lots of doing and preparing for the coming two weeks when Mason will be working on the movie. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect and at the same time, I'm not sure at all. That sounds odd, I'm sure, but while some things are pretty standard in the process of movie making, other things are unique to a production. I'm excited for Mason to get to have a full experience. He is not simply a background actor or extra, he has a featured role, and though he does not have lines at this point, he will be required to shave his head, be pushed in a swimming pool (not for fun, for delousing) and have to swim to get out quickly. This pool scene by itself is considered a stunt. Who gets to do a stunt in their first movie? Mason does, that's who! This is a gritty, icky role and that's what will make it so much fun for him. It's these kinds of roles that actors live for and I'm so excited Mason is getting to do this. With that said, I have stuff I need to do to be ready to be away from home and work next week. Hopefully we will have good reception at the castle (doesn't that just sound cool, at the castle) and I can work while Mason is doing his thing. More on this as it unfolds, at least as much as I can share.

I don't have much more to share so we'll just leave it here until next week. Go out and do something that moves you one step closer to your dreams, and if you you're not currently dreaming for yourself, help someone else move a little closer to their dream. Yeah, that feels super good!

Monday, March 6, 2017

So Much BIG News!


Dave and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary last November 9th and Dave bought me Bon Jovi tickets. Not only did he purchase the tickets, he made plans for us to stay in Sacramento for the night. I was such a fun day and night. Some days I have to pinch myself to know my life is real. I am married to a guy who finds so much joy in surprising and spoiling me. I just don't have the words to express how grateful I am and how lucky I feel. I ❤ you David Partak, thank you for loving me like only you can. But wait! There’s more.

Dave didn't want our time "away" to end so he made reservations for Date Night at Bootleggers, one of our favorite local restaurants. Every Wednesday is “Date Night,” it’s $29 for two people, three courses. Ty Rowe dinner was off the hook! The tri-tip with chimichurri was mouthwatering and the chicken Marsala left me wanting to lick my plate - I didn't but that was only because Dave moved it out of my reach before I could. My only complaint is that when I ordered more Marsala sauce, there wasn't any!! 

After Dave and I had such a great date night with Bon Jovi, we've decided to go on an overnight once a month. Sacramento, Apple Hill, Nevada City, Alameda, San Francisco... just something different, and away from the distractions at home. Don't get me wrong, it's really good at home, but plugging in to us is important and it's more fun on an adventure. So now we get to have fun deciding where we should go. There is a treehouse place in Northern CA, and the Safari spot in the Sonoma area... it will be fun, to plan and go! Remember, the best gift you can give your kids is happily married parents. And we stay happily married when we spend a little time without our kids. ❌❤⭕❤❌❤⭕❤

I get pretty consistent requests for Mason to donate a cooking class from different organizations and service clubs. I've always said no because I didn't know if he could actually do it. Since he turned 13, I finally agreed and on Saturday he taught his first cooking class to nine kids.

He taught basics, knife skills, misen place, clean-as-you-go, baked chicken ziti, salad, strawberry roses, a mocktail, and ice cream in a bag. He had a special needs child who he handled like a pro, and got all the kids to eat things their parents assured us they would not eat. It was unbelievable what that kid did. I was pretty blown away.
I was also tired. The class had me donating $40, 23 hours of my time and over 100 miles traveled. I'm not complaining, just evaluating how this all pans out for the future.



So now the big news, Mason just got cast in his first film role! Sally at Forcier Casting, has given Mason an incredible opportunity considering he really has no real film experience. I would say this is what we call in the business, “a big break!” Her coaching and guidance have been invaluable to Mason and I'm certain she and her team are contributing to his success in a big way. John Howard Swain and Marsha Mercant, I’m not leaving you guys out! You two are the voices in my head that Mason gets to hear once in a while, too. Okay, all the time, but he may only listen once in a while. This is very exciting on so many levels, I can’t wait to write this journey as it unfolds. 


With all of this cool news, go out and get one step closer to making your dreams come true. Seriously, it feels amazing when things come to fruition. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

You Just Can't Plan For Those Unexpected Events


This is as close as we got to the snow.
Well, for all best laid plans, we didn’t get to Truckee. Mother Nature got the win on Tuesday. We were turned around at Nyack and hung out at The Monte Vista for a few hours. The beer battered fries are killer but getting to the snow would have been better. We decided to go home and look to Wednesday. I emailed the owner of the house to see if it was available on Friday and we could still get our 3 days in, Dave and Mason could ski, and we could be home in time for our Mardi Gras party on Saturday. Later Tuesday night, Gunner started with “the symptoms.” Are you frick’n kidding me?! Yeah, it got worse and Dave took him in to the vet at midnight. 

Well, if road closures and weather weren't enough, the dog was admitted, Dave came down sick, I was informed the power was out at the Truckee house, and it was not available to extend until Friday. We all concurred that it was not meant to be this time. Well, Dave and I concurred, Mason was not happy, but we all ultimately agreed there was just too many reasons not to go. As bummed as Mason was, I assured him that this was so not the end of the world and things are fine. In fact, I told Mason that it was a situation very similar to this one that brought Dave and I out of the friend zone and ultimately where we are today. I had won a trip to Mexico and wouldn't you know, none of my friends could go - not one! Dave was my last choice (it just seemed complicated to go on a vacation, in one room, with the guy-friend). I totally expected him to say he couldn't get time off work or no money, but no! He said yes. We were on the plane on the tarmac when the captain came over the intercom saying there was a hurricane that had changed course and we could not go. We waited a day and the next day, more of the same. We decided to go to South Lake Tahoe and it was on the drive up and the three or so days we spent there together that things changed. Who knows how it all would have played out had we made it to Mexico right then (we did eventually go, it turned out to be our honeymoon as we had secretly married). Adapt and Overcome, it's a good thing. So I told Mason, the Truckee door has closed, turn around and see what good is behind the doors that may be opening now.

We decided to call it a staycation and Dave and Mason kept their plans to ski on Friday. From the vet on Thursday, "It seems our options are to keep waiting (but he's not eaten for over 2 days), do surgery, or euthanize." WHAT?! Euthanize? “NO!” I shouted. She went on to explain that there was no judgement, she understood that there are people who just can't deal with a dog like this and their money means more to them than their animals. Uh, no, that's not us. Our animals are as much our family as our people...we made a commitment to Gunner when we brought him into our family and we do not renege. Gunner had surgery #3 Thursday night. 




Saturday was super fun, we got all dolled up and went to Gary and Michael’s Mardi Gras party and when I say they go all out, I’m not mincing words, they go ALL OUT! Rachel and Ryan came up and we cleaned Mason’s room so they had a place to stay and didn’t have to drive home. We had a ball, so much fun, that Sunday we all moved somewhat slowly. Laughing! 

Here we are, it’s Monday and all is well. Gunner is home and doing better, tomorrow is my mom’s 87th birthday, and all I can think about is how lucky we are. We are a strong, happy family and even when life challenges us and negative circumstances pile up, we pull through. We pull through by sticking together and finding humor somewhere. Sometimes it’s in the kitchen making dinner, sometimes it’s in a few drinks and stupid invention ideas at our local watering hole, and other times it’s all of us, cuddling in one bed watching a movie. We have love, lots of love, and there is so much power in that, in us as a family.

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's Almost Time to Snow!

Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese having been interned in America, it’s been all over the news with comparisons to President Trump enforcing immigration laws. I have to wonder why there is no news of Americans who were interned in other countries at the same time? My grandmother, mother, and aunt were interned in ShangHai at this same time. My mom and Aunt Jeannette wrote a book about it, you can find it in a print-on-demand format here if you are interested, but it makes me wonder, why no talk in America about the other side. I posted this on my Facebook page and almost everyone who commented noted that it never occurred to them that this was happening elsewhere. It’s no secret that our history classes do not teach real history, well not in the sense that they leave SO much out! It’s as if somewhere, someone decided what the highlights were and that is what was to be taught to future generations. I get that history is vast and it can’t be covered in the lower grades the same way it can in college, but there are things about American history that high school students really should know. I’m not going to delve into all of that here, but this anniversary for Japanese Americans is also an anniversary for American Americans. Is that a thing, American American? 


Tuesday we get to go to Truckee for a few days and boy are we looking forward to it. I don’t like to be a downer, especially in a weekly column called The Monday Motivator, but there are times that things are not happy. Life gets hard and when I can remedy things, I certainly make that effort. There are other times that we have no control over the behavior of others, all we can do is respond with our own actions. In this case, I would like to remove the source of angst, but even that is not possible right now. It’s an unusual situation and a sad one. It’s one of those times that someone irreparably damages a relationship and there is no making amends. Some will say to forgive and forget, but where forgiveness will certainly set the victim free, forgetting is just foolish, not to mention impossible. Can one really forget the lies of another, especially when they have come numerous times? Yes, there has been a willingness to let it go and give another chance, more than once and now the time has come to simply say, “This is not a feel good relationship anymore. Even though I have asked you for respect, you continue to lie to me and I’m simply not willing to invest anymore of me, or my family in you.” I’ve been trying to guide Mason through this difficulty and my life lesson for him has been, “It’s not about what the other person does or does not do. It ultimately is about how you respond. Because someone lies, judges, or criticizes you does not give you permission to retaliate in the same small-minded way. This is your opportunity to rise above their deceit and be the better human.” So that is what we have to do, we have to be kind and get through this, always checking to be sure we are being the best people we can be. I know this is a challenge for me, I’m not always making it happen, but I will continue to put my best self forward, especially after I slip and behave badly. Our time in Truckee is some time away to be “just us” and to play in the snow. The dogs both love the snow as well, so this will be a good few days for all of us. Enjoy your holiday today and hopefully I will have fun in the snow photos to share next week. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Never A Dull Moment

EV Cain Dance on Friday night.
It’s been quite the week. Let’s see, it started with getting to visit with Cathleen and Rod on Monday, it was too short a visit, but I will take an hour or two over nothing every time.  It is the effort to make the little visits happen that really say, you are important to me, to us, don’t you think so? Tuesday Mason had an audition for a film that will be shooting in the Sacramento area next month. I got the call over the weekend that the role is for a young boy, but they need one who is a little older as the role is very graphic and mature. The casting director wanted to talk with us about it before she scheduled the audition. Well, graphic and mature are mild descriptions of this part. As an actor, I would LOVE a role like this (and Mason feels the same), but as a mom, it would be hard to watch your kid in this role. With all of that said, I was so pleased that Mason would have the opportunity to audition, but with no life experience with this kind of anguish and pain, and no real acting experience to speak of, I didn’t expect anything to come of it beyond the audition. Wrong! He got a call back, the director noting that he loved Mason’s fearlessness and willingness to go all in. Holy cow, Mason listened to me! They sent more direction and a different scene and asked that a I send them a recording. We did and now we wait. The way I see it, it doesn’t matter if he is cast or not, he has something and if not this time, next time. I’m totally surprised and even more pleased for him. 


In his trailer on se
From the audition on Tuesday afternoon, we headed to the bay area where Mason was competing the next day in a kids cooking competition. People always ask me, “Did he win?” My answer is always the same, Mason won by being selected to compete. Being in the company of other great kid cooks, television crews, producers and sometimes, Food Network Stars, to me is a win. Oh, and yes, there is an official winner in cooking competitions, but I’m not telling because this one will be televised and it will hopefully be a fun one to watch. All the kids did amazing things and frankly, they all could have won, they were that good.







At the Twenty One Pilots concert

We got home Thursday and got back to school and work. Friday night I had the honor of chaperoning a dance at Mason’s middle school. That was something! It’s amazing how little some of those kids look and it seems to me we were taking more responsibility when we were in middle school…maybe it’s just my 50 year old eyes seeing things differently and I’m sure my 50 year old memory is not as good as it used to be. In any case, it was fun. Saturday night, Mason and I went to a concert, Twenty One Pilots is Mason’s favorite band and I got him the tickets last summer to give him for his birthday. I didn’t have high expectations for the concert and boy was I wrong! It was a GREAT show, I would even go as far as saying it was epic, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. 





Sunday Dave came home (from training in Camp Roberts) only to be activated to the potential failure of the emergency spillway of the dam in Oroville, CA. He reported only to be sent home on stand by while we wait for the next round of storms to come through later this week. They evacuated 188,000 people! The good news is, they were able to release enough water quickly enough that it looks like we will be okay. Now we are looking ahead to Valentines Day and then Mason’s winter break from school. We are heading to Truckee to play in the snow and ski. We can’t wait!

Monday, February 6, 2017

You Still Win When You Lose

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday and what a day it was! Of course, if you saw the game, you know what I’m talking about, but that’s not all I’m talking about. Mason had two spots yesterday morning on Good Day Sacramento where he was to share snacks for the big game, and the second spot was food for a crowd. The difference this time is that Good Day came to our house! Well, that made it easier to do the food, but that also meant cleaning, and being camera-ready to go live at 7 AM. Saturday we spent prepping, food and the house. Dave did the majority of organizing a creative menu and so much of the prep on Saturday. Mason helped, but truth be told, Mason didn’t have a fighting chance this time, Dave got so excited about game day food and being on the news, he totally commandeered the whole project. Mason sous-cheffed and showed up to be the front man when the cameras were rolling and I might add, did a fabulous job on both accounts. As you can see from the spots I’ve linked here, we had a massive amount of amazing food. We took much of it to Pistol Pete’s where we watched the game with our friends, it was a fun time, but after a crazy busy Saturday and a 4:30 wake up on Sunday, we were all pretty tuckered out by the end of the game. Congratulations to the New England Patriots! They were down 28-3 with just 20 minutes left in the game and came back to win in historic overtime. As I watched the game, I said to Dave, “Can you imagine how tough it is to keep playing a big game like this while you are having your butt handed to you?” Yeah. I was rooting for Atlanta because they’ve never won a SP, but I kept thinking, come on New England, don’t give up. Tom Brady proved what a leader he truly is yesterday, he didn’t let his team quit and by pushing them, he took them to the win. The Falcons came so close, but they didn’t appear to be over confident, but they just couldn’t match the experience of Brady and a team the the New England Patriots. I can’t say what’s happening in the Falcon’s camp today, but disappointment has got to be running high. 

Watching Mason train for and compete in cooking competitions, I see these same kinds of situations, okay, not the same as the Super Bowl, but significant to Mason and when Mason doesn’t win, he’s not happy. If I could bring the Falcon’s together today, I would tell them what I tell Mason - you won when you got to the game. In the big picture, you were better this year than you were last year so you know you can do it. Will you let this loss make you better or will it make you bitter? This is your choice, and it is a choice. The Falcons lost to a team who has played in more Super Bowls and won more championships, and if you’re going to be beat, be beat by the best. There is a lot to be proud of when you lose, and if you find the lesson’s in the loss, you didn’t really lose - look up, look ahead, and be better. 


With all of this said, Mason is heading into another big competition this week. I can’t share the details yet, but I’ll be sure you all are the first to know when I can. Mason has been studying and practicing and he has what it takes to win. Will the stars line up for him? We’ll see! Happy Monday and I want to leave you with a quote from my hubby this weekend as he was watching Mason practice cooking, “Instructions are for people who lack creativity.” I would have said, “Recipes are for people who lack creativity” as Mason rarely uses one, but either way, Mason is crazy creative and I hope he never loses that electric color of his.