Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall and Winter Collide

Happy Monday,
The storms have passed but boy were they fun. Dave and I took an opportunity to get away for a few days and headed to Lake Tahoe Thursday and Friday nights. We stopped at Apple Hill on our way up and took in some of the flavors of fall. It didn't take long to start seeing snow along the side of the road and it was just what I needed to feel some holiday spirit. We checked in to our condo (we were offered a friends timeshare) and made a reservation to have our belated anniversary dinner. We gambled a little bit and made our way back to snuggle up in front of the fireplace. On Friday, we slept in, Dave until 10 (unprecedented!) and then we spent the day tootling historic towns in Nevada. One of our favorites was Genoa where we really enjoyed The Genoa Bar, Nevada's oldest Thirst Parlor, Thirst Parlor! Don't you just love that? It was exactly as you imagine, old timey to the hilt! We made our way back to Tahoe, browsed the shops in South Lake, played some cards and then headed back to the condo to sit in the hot tub under the stars, we ate dinner in and watched a movie. It was a lovely two nights in Tahoe but we didn't finish our time quite yet. We took Hwy 88 home and stopped in Amador County to taste a little wine and bottle a case of our own and have lunch. It was so interesting to go from lots of snow to fall colors and green pastures. It really did seem like we drove off one winter wonderland movie set and on to a fall day in the country. It was just what this old married couple needed to recharge our batterie. 

On Sunday, Mason cooked on ABC 10 morning news for the Mandarin Festival that is coming up this weekend. He is cooking all three day in addition to working his own Mason Made booth. It will be here that he will launch his new line, Mason Made Products. It is a line of marinades and sauces that he has been developing recipes with. The two that he will be cooking with at the Mandarin Festival is the organic Ginger Citrus with a Kick sauce and one of his favorites, Asian Fusion Grilling Goodness. Now he can do a cooking demo, share the recipe and sell some of the products for people to take home and make themselves. He's not so sure about the business accounting, but that is what I am most excited about (for him). What to buy, how much it costs, how to price it, sell it, figure out taxes and then profit. He is initially earning money for his 8th grade field trip to Washington DC, that way we don't have to do all the fundraising at the same time all the other 8th graders will be working on it. I'm either going to be very proud, or sorry I agreed. Laughing!

After the tv stuff, Mason went to a birthday party and while it stormed outside, I made 43 jars of mandarin marmalade, I made mandarin fig (20 jars), mandarin pepper (9), and mandarin pepper with all the seeds (14) because Dave says he wants more heat. I'll let you know if leaving all the seeds in gives him the heat he is looking for. Now it's time to enjoy the Mandarin Festival and get ready for Thanksgiving, we absolutely have plenty to be thankful for. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Anniversary and So Thankful

Happy Monday!

It's a glorious day, it's finally raining, really raining. This weekend was jam packed, what else is new? On Friday night we got to go see Elf the musical in Sacramento. Our local newspaper ran a contest for kids to write a short essay about what they are thankful for. I encouraged Mason to enter so we talked about what he would write about. He told me that he loves that he gets to decorate for halloween and Christmas with his dad and that he and I cook and bake together. I noted that it sounds like he is thankful for our family traditions and he agreed. He wrote the essay and he won first place! He won not only two tickets, they gave him four. We went as a family and took one of Mason's friends from football, we had dinner out and then enjoyed the show. The seats were great and all in all, it was an awesome night out. 

Saturday Dave and I spent the day looking at more houses and still have not found something we like as much as the house we are waiting on approval for. It was fun to look, but it's still stressful to not have a firm plan while the clock is ticking on our move-out date. I have faith it will all work out. We joined my good friend Jen for dinner and drinks for her birthday before coming home to cuddle up and listen to the rain. Sunday I did homework while Dave watched football. The fun thing about Sunday was my radio show aired on a Sacramento classic rock station, 96.9 the Eagle. Earlier in the week I was contacted by one of the DJs at the station about coming in to guest host the Sunday show. Having listeners in is part of the stations 25 year anniversary and an attempt to get their listeners involved in what they do. I recored the show on Wednesday and can I say, IT WAS SO FUN!! My next career will be in radio, for real, it will. 

Today is Monday, November 9 and that means it is our 14th wedding anniversary. I love being married. When I hear people say marriage is hard, it takes work, lots of work every day, I don't understand that. I can only surmise that if marriage is hard every day, it must not be the right combination of people. Or maybe Dave and I are just really lucky to have a pretty easy time being married. Sure, we have had some challenges in 14 years, but not daily difficulty and strife. 
We were advised before we got married to always be respectful, to not make jokes at the other's expense, and before we act, to always think with,"Is this kind? Is what I am about to say or do loving?" I've found this to be the very best advice I've ever received and it may be the secret to our happily married life. I love you Dave, and I don't just love being married, I love being married to you! Happy Anniversary.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Fun

Despite our current housing issues and the struggle to buy a house, we had a blast over the weekend for halloween. As much as Dave loves Christmas, I believe he loves halloween more. This year we dressed with a circus theme, he a fortune teller, inspired by Zoltar from the movie Big and I went as the circus ring master. Mason made his costume, he did not follow the circus theme, instead he dressed as one of his video game characters. We had friends in town, Steve and Ro and we went out both Friday and Saturday nights.

Friday night we attended James and Lisa's annual halloween party and let me assure you, they leave nothing to the imagination when in comes to decorations, their house looked amazing! After their party, we popped into our local bar to do some more dancing and before we called it a night, Dave won 3rd place in the costume contest!

Saturday night was actually halloween and while Mason was off trick or treating with friends, Dave, Steve, Ro and I sat out on the deck and had dinner while enjoying all the halloween decorations and a roaring fire in the pit. Having rocked our Friday night costumes already, we pulled together new costumes from our massive stash (yes, it's massive!) and I wore my witchy woman costume and Dave pulled together a witch hunter get up. Steve wore our King Tut get up and Ro went as a kitty cat. Wouldn't you know it, as we were getting ready to go out, the septic system backed up and created a mess that had me on the phone trying to see how soon someone could get here to figure it out. Of course I called our landlord and of course she noted we clearly did something wrong. I'm not going to belabor that point, but suffice it to say, this put a bit of a damper on Saturday night. Here we are on Monday and the plumber said there was no clog and it must be something with the septic system - and those guys can't be here until tomorrow. My landlord has instructed us to not do laundry, no paper in the toilet, no dishwasher, and to go easy on #2. How do you "go easy"? When you gotta poo, you gotta poo!

So that's it, our halloween was mostly fun, until shit happened!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Difficulty with Landlords

It's almost Halloween and I'm excited!! I don't know about you, but some years I am more in the holiday spirit than other years, this year I'm feeling in the mood. Dave, Mason and I have been working on our costumes for several weeks now and it's looking good. I'll post photos next week.

In other Partak family news, we are feeling in a bit of a pinch these days as we have not had such good luck with landlords. When we short-sold the house on Aeolia the woman who rented to us asked if we wanted a two or three year lease, we told her two. We went on to explain that at two years, our lease would be up on 8/31 and we would be eligible to purchase again on 9/24 - just 24 days. We noted that we would like to go month to month and we would start house shopping over the summer. She said that would be fine. Come May of the second year, Dave and I were getting our ducks in a row for our loan and thinking it was time to start shopping when we got the call from our landlord letting us know they would like us to break our lease so they could sell the house they were in and move into the house we were living in. I reminded her of our situation and she said she was sorry, but they were afraid if they didn't put their house on the market before we were ready in the fall, they would miss out on the prime listing/selling season. There was no offer of paying us to break our lease (which is the deal, if we break, we have to pay for the remaining months and if they break, they pay the remaining months), and we didn't play hard ball and require it - being the nice guys that we are. So here we are, so close to being able to purchase again and now we have to be out July 1st...fat chance we will find someone to rent to us month to month.

As it just so happened a house down the street from where we had to vacate was coming available to rent. I asked the owner if they would rent to us month to month, explaining the situation of what had just happened and she said no, she would require at least a one year lease. We reconciled that we would just get through the holidays and again, start shopping in the spring for a summer purchase. Here we are again in March of the following year and our landlord proposes that we talk about the possibility that we purchase the house we are living in. Though we don't love this house, I propose to her that we pay $20K over the high comp, I will handle the paperwork and the money that she will save in commissions will put it at value. She dragged her feet and basically came back to say that she felt she could get more for the house and that decision priced us out (we wouldn't have paid what she thinks she will get anyway). Back to house shopping, we found a house that is a short sale and though it is not in Auburn, it is just outside of Auburn and the house is pretty awesome. We put in our offer and let the negotiations begin! While we work on this and knowing it will take some time, I let her know where we are and what we hope will happen. To my news, she countered with that they found something they want to purchase and their offer was accepted so she has to give us a 60 day notice to vacate. WHAT?! Are you kidding me, you want us to move out a week before Christmas? So here we are, waiting on an acceptance or counter offer from the bank on our short sale and our landlord is calling almost daily with, "We need to meet the painter" or "We plan to remodel the backyard, can you please keep Spencer in?" and "Can I just come in for a minute to look with...?" It may not be intentional, but it's pressure and it's uncomfortable. The first landlord did not want to miss out on the hot selling season and for some reason, this landlord thinks Christmas week is a good time to list. Maybe it is, inventory will be low, but I think buyers will be sparse as well.

In any case, this has been difficult. I am 100% sure we will be able to purchase the house we are wanting, it's just a matter of timing. This compounded with Dave's moms declining health and pressure at work (for Dave) it's not always easy to see the bright side. I try to stay positive and be understanding but it seems we should have asked the first landlord to pay to break the lease and in this case, I have informed my landlord that we have no where to go and if our escrow does not close before 12/15, she will have to issue us another 30 day notice to vacate and we will do the best we can.

On a super bright note, because you know I have to have one, check out Chopped Junior on Food Network this Tuesday at 5 PM (PST). Mason was selected to compete and though tomorrow's episode is not his, it's the premiere of the series and all these kids are amazing. I don't know what date Mason's episode will appear but I will let you all know as soon as I do. Isn't this the best news? Have an awesome week and help me remember, "I can't always control what happens to me, but I can absolutely control how I react to and handle it."

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's My Life

Happy Monday! This week has been trying on a number of levels, mostly because we are trying to buy a house and as we navigate the short sale process and how long it takes, we got a 60 day notice to vacate our rental. Doh! Nothing like having to be out a week before Christmas. This is all compounded by the fact that Dave has military obligations for a week in December as well. I know it will all work out because so far in my life, it's always worked out. Some things have had better outcomes than others, but hey, that's just life and we're still in it together. 

Speaking of life, more often than not, mine is pretty magical. Tomorrow one of the brightest spots in our lives is turning 12 years old, 12 years old! Where did 12 years go? So many people tell new parents, "Don't blink, they will be gone before you know it." It's true. With that, I want to share what I love about our son Mason. Most of all, I love that Mason has such a strong sense of self, at only 12 years old. Mason knows who he is and he is not afraid to be that quirky kid. Mason will wear wacky clothes, color his hair blue, red, green and gold, he will speak up and ask questions - in depth intelligent questions, he has an unusual confidence for such a young man. Another thing I admire about Mason is his courage, he will take on a challenge and put himself out there in situations that would terrify most adults. Mason has accomplished so much in terms of public speaking and presentations and already overcome some really embarrassing public situations. He has a natural way of keeping his cool under pressure and pulling off an amazing performance no matter what obstacles come his way. This isn't to say he doesn't sometimes lose his cool and cry, he does, but he will pull himself together and get back on track to accomplish what he sets out to do. Mason is a mix of strong willed, pain in the ass, and a leader who will step in and stand up for the kid who is being picked on. Dave and I are both incredibly proud of the young man Mason is becoming and we certainly attribute some of that to our united front as his parents. With that said, we can't take credit for the person he chooses to be each day, those are choices he has to make in a world where we can't always be with him and so far he is doing a great job. I can't wait to see what this year holds for Mason, I know it will be an adventure and I am not going to miss a single minute of it. Our family song is, "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins, it's a reminder to not shrug off the annoying kissy face, pass up the chance to sit out by the fire even if he has nothing to say (which is rare), or get too caught up in all the drama that is a short sale and a notice to vacate a rental. I love my life and I feel totally grateful to be able to be Mason's mom and still so in love with Mason's dad. It's my life, and it's a really good one. Happy Birthday Mason!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are You Ever Going to Answer Me?

After last weeks post about embracing a slower pace and the way technology is affecting us, I was asked what my thoughts were on people not responding to a message, text or email, considering with most forms of technology, we can see when they've been received/read.

My immediate thought is that from a technical communication viewpoint, good communication would be a reply to minimally acknowledge the communication. We all lead busy lives and there are times when a communication comes in and it's not a good time to send a well thought out reply but does it take any time at all to write, "Got it, I will reply when I get home" or something like that. The trick with this is that then you must follow through and remember to write that well thought out reply.

We can all speculate what it means when someone doesn't reply to a message, but it's important to note that you are communicating volumes by not communicating at all. If people you are reaching out to are not responding you have a number of ways you could respond; you could reach out again asking if they received your initial message (you know they did), or you could note, "Hey, I see you read this on (date), I'm sure it just moved off your radar, so what do you think..." If there is still no reply, it would occur to me that they do not want to communicate with me.

I'm a firm believer that more communication is better than less in most cases. As I get older, I am also learning that there are times when saying nothing is the better course of action. If someone I care about is not responding, I would likely reach out via a phone call and see what's up, if something is wrong between us or just in general. Beyond that, there isn't much you can do except realize you need to do what you need to do with or without the input of this other person. I would also note that their unwillingness to communicate speaks volumes about who they are and that would be noteworthy for me moving forward in future interactions with them. What are your thoughts? Is there an acceptable time frame for someone to reply to a communication? I tend to think within 24 hours...but maybe you think longer is okay. Do tell!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Working to Embrace a Slower Pace

There is so much going on in our world today that seems so far away from real life. I understand that real is relative and perception is reality, but with all the technology, immediate gratification, a super fast way of life and mega stimulation, life is getting away from us. It just seems so far removed from a time where we grew our own food, cooked at home, kids played outside without a parents fear of them being did we get here?

Our society has seen dramatic increases in mental illnesses and medicating adults and children alike with prescriptions that alter who we are as beings. We have become so politically correct, it is nearly a crime to say what you see, certainly if you are not cited, you are absolutely judged. All the gadgets and technology that were touted as the answers to our problems, that were suppose to make our lives easier are ultimately hurting us. Social media has opened the floodgates to reuniting people and allowing people who we would have not otherwise had an opportunity to meet to become "friends." The stress and pressure of maintaining so many relationships is just too much. I'm not saying this is all bad, what I am saying is we may all have too much on our plates. At some point, we have to make a choice about what is most important to us and unplug from all the rest.

When I want to speak up and share my opinions on big issues like gun control or immigration, I'm stalled. I'm finding that I get stuck in what feels like a spider web sticking to me from all sides. What will he/she think? Say? What will the reaction be? Will my truth be seen as more or less serious than I see it? Will a dialogue be had or will judgment be cast without understanding? If judgment is cast, what will that mean? Will I lose my power if I'm perceived as weak or broken, say in the workplace? All of this is plain and simple fear, but at what point is fear healthy and sane? It's easy to advise someone else that no matter what the fallout might be, that honesty is the best policy. Would you tell your boss you had a prescription drug addiction or even that you were on medication that is controversial? Ultimately I ask myself, does my opinion really matter? Sure, it may be that I want to engage as I find these conversations stimulating, but in the end, I typically skip it - it really isn't that important.

The trouble with the truth is it can be dangerous. This all goes back to what I said a number of years ago about public persona versus what's real. Is it better to simply deal with what is real and do what you can to make right what is wrong - getting really honest personally? Seeking help and confiding in trusted sources may be better than opening Pandora's box for the world to see. From my perspective, once the world sees it, each person is forced to do something with it...from simply dismissing the knowledge (who cares?) to being rocked with fear not knowing what will happen next (something ones young children might feel). I suppose it all depends on what needs confronting and only the individual person can decide what the right thing to do is. I'm feeling that getting honest is a good thing, but doing it in a responsible way is equally important. Addressing issues with only the people who need to be involved and working to feel less fear and shame is really the goal anyone who wants to come clean is looking for, don't you think? I really do want to know what you think of this topic.

In the meantime I am working to embrace a slower pace, to spend more time unplugged with Dave and Mason and our friends in close proximity to where we live. Yes, I want to see all of you  who don't live near me, but again, focusing on the here and now. 

I'm feeling like we all need to embrace a slower pace, look around at where you are right not and enjoy it. If you are at work at a job you dislike, enjoy that you are employed. If you are at school dreading a test, enjoy that you are getting your education. I bet wherever you are and whatever you are doing, there is something there that is worthwhile, just look and see if you can find it. Happy Monday!