Monday, July 31, 2017

The OC Fair and SweepsCon17

Last week was pretty epic. Mason and I took a road trip to Southern California where he was scheduled to cook at the OC Fair and we were both booked to speak at the SweepsCon17, a convention for people who Sweep (enter lots of sweepstakes). The drive was long, both ways, but it was so much fun. 

Mason rocked three cooking challenges at the fair, cooking against a MasterChef Junior contestant Sean Le making the best burger, a 4H Master Food Preserver Isbella Vegh making garden omelettes, and Mason teamed up with Liam Waldman finalist from Food Network Star Kids and French Pastry Chef Stephane’ Treand to make the best macaroni and cheese. Talk about a jam packed day! We made time to go with the kids to ride some rides and play some carnival games but then it was time to head back to the room to get some sleep. 

On Friday, Mason and I got to the convention and had a blast sharing our stories. Mine were all about the crazy ways I’ve won so many prizes on the radio through the years, and Mason shared his tips for winning in the culinary arena. Mason has won recipe contests, cooking competitions, and of course, competitions on television. People are always so blown away when they hear Mason speak in front of large crowds. It seems the number one fear for most people is public speaking, and it’s clear that Mason does not suffer from that fear.

On Saturday, Mason and I took the day to just have fun and headed to Venice Beach. It was lovely! It was just about 80 degrees and the water was really warm. Mason had a blast riding in the waves and I just took in some sunshine and the smell of the salt air and the sea. Being at the beach, an ocean beach is just what I needed to rejuvenate my soul. In fact, the long drive home on Sunday was filled with so many ideas for things I want to create and some of the projects Mason and I have been working on for him. And speaking of Sunday, we had to get home because Food Network moved up the air time of Mason’s Guy’s Grocery Games. It aired on Sunday and it was really fun to watch Mason compete. All of those kids are incredible and it’s just such a cool life that they are getting to live. It tickles me pink for Mason to have these experiences at such a young age. Some day he will look back and realize how lucky he really is. All of this speaks to my post last week about getting in the game. If you don’t play, you can’t win, and sometimes winning is simply that you are playing.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Say Yes, Play!!

I won Disneyland Tickets
I’m fine tuning my speech for SweepsCon17 where Mason and I will be speaking later this week. I’m not going to share all of it here, but while preparing this talk, I realized something about the way I live my life. Here’s a little snippet of my speech, see if you can see where I’m going with this. 

Everybody here is a winner so I’m sure you've all been asked, “How do you do it? How is it you're so lucky? You win all the time." You've also all heard, "Oh, I never win. I don't win the lottery, I never win raffles, I don't win anything." You've all heard that right? Well I know I have, and my very first response is "Do you play?" It makes me chuckle, how can you expect to win if you don't play? I won my first contest when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was listening to our local radio station and the DJ said be caller number nine, and I grabbed the phone and I called, and I was caller number nine and I won a cassette tape. Yes, it was that long ago. But what happened that day set in motion a lifetime of winning for me. An opportunity to win was presented and I took it, I played. What was most important about that win was that it was effortless. I heard the announcement and made the instant decision to win the prize. It just takes one win to see that you can win, you do win. From that day forward I was a winner.

But back to the question, “Do you play?” I know you all play when it comes to a sweepstakes or contests, but do you play in life? We all say yes to that entry, or mail this many cards in, or set reminders to enter once each day online…but isn’t life more fun when you play? I say yes! In fact, I say yes a lot. I say yes when invited to a party where I don’t know anyone other than who has invited me, I said yes when asked if I wanted to fill in for someone who got sick and couldn’t go to Vietnam for 2 weeks, and I said yes when my son asked me if he could raise $25,000 to improve his school kitchen when he was just 9 years old. 

To live a full, happy life, I believe you have to participate. Saying yes, accepting invitations, calling the radio station to try to win the prize, jumping off the rock into the lake, agreeing to go on a blind date, renting the bikes to ride, and any number of a gazillion other things that might enrich your life, if even just a little bit. The truth be told, being willing to play will enrich your life by leaps and bounds. Go ahead, say yes and play!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy July 3rd...

Tomorrow is July 4th and it will be something special, or specialer for Mason and I. Mason has been cooking at the Napa County Fair for the last 4 years on July 4th. We get up early after staying up late doing lots of prep, we drive to Napa, Mason cooks, and then we drive home. We typically leave by 8:30 and get home around 4:00. We are not going to Napa this year, instead we are still getting up early to go our on our boat! 

We made plans with Jen and Dan to meet early and spend 2-3 hours on the water, and get the boat out of the water before the masses are trying to launch their boats. We will come home and have the afternoon to do whatever, lounge, cook, clean, watch television, whatever! We have several options for nighttime fun, but I think we will go to Theresa's place for dinner and then meet Jen and Dan at the courthouse to watch fireworks. I'm excited to not be spending the whole day driving, but I am sad to not be in Napa. The people who run the fair there are just so nice, and they were bummed Mason wasn't going to be there this year. They said they will be sure to invite him back next year, so we'll see. 

In other super cool news, Finally! I get to share that Mason will be competing on Food Network again. A special episode of Guys Grocery Games is scheduled to air on Sunday, Aug 13th. It was SO fun watching him compete and I can't wait for it to air. I hope you all can tune in or at least DVR it. There is one more opportunity that Mason has in his possible pipeline as a kid cook, can you believe he is aging out? Yep! At 13, that's the top age for most of the kid competitions. There was an episode of Chopped Junior Champions, but he wasn't chosen for the 4 episode special. So what's next? There will still be more cooking demos, but Mason is getting excited about his plans to start an Entrepreneurship Club at his middle school. He and I have been working on the curriculum and trying to work out how best to roll it out and maybe make it available to other middle schools. More about that later. 

Happy July 4th! I hope you have lots of fun planned.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Dave!

Happy Birthday Dave! You've had some pretty epic birthdays, last year it was a puppy, and this year a boat! Our lives together just keep getting better, don't you think? I love you to the moon and back, have a great birthday! #55 #lovemylifewithyou 

Some days I feel so sentimental, emotional, grateful, and just overwhelmed with the love and abundance in my life. How did I get so lucky to get to live this amazing life with such phenomenal people? I don't know, but I am thankful! I look around and see a man who loves his family, a son who is excelling at a young age, and friends who would be at my door if they even had an inkling that I needed them. I've always been grateful, at a very early age when I was invited to a friends cabin to ski, or along for a camping trip that my family would never have taken, I was so appreciative to get to go. I hope Mason has this kind of gratitude as he grows, though he has so much more than I ever had. This is not to say I was deprived, I had what I needed, I just didn't live with any kind of luxury. My family traveled very little, and our vacations were local weekend jaunts. There is so much more to that story, but not now, my point is simply that I wake up every day and say, "Thank you." It is my wish that Dave loves our life as much as I do. I am grateful to get to travel this journey with him and I can only hope that at the end of my life, I gave more than I took. #Schmoop

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tough Decisions

So when writing a personal blog, I sometimes am faced with whether or not to write my truth (knowing it may hurt some and certainly not show some in their best light), or find something nice to say and omit how it really went. The something nice is not a lie, but it's also a far cry from the truth. What do you think, write it nicely or write it how I experienced it? The other option is to write both and publish them at different times. Write the nice version now, and how I really lived it later.

Many believe that just because I write about my experiences, that does not give me the right to write about other's lives. Hmmm, that's seriously deep! I get it, but how do I tell my story if I can't write about those who are in my life or my daily interactions? Be a writer who is creative and smart with my choice of words I suppose.  So the anonymity cannot be protected. And yes, truth is perception and with that, there are situations or a collection of situations that most all involved have agreed on what occurred. In this case, my mother in law just passed away and hers was the only funeral I've ever been to where I didn't cry. She didn't like me and did really mean things through the years. At the service, listening to a number of people talk about how generous, kind, and loving she was, left me empty. The only thing I may have teared up about is that I didn't get to know those things in her.

She loved Dave and Mason but was just fine when I stayed home. Sharing on a private page is safe as those who may be hurt aren't my "friends." And to be clear, there is a message and lesson in the story. Not only is it the real experience of my life, it's made me realize what I need to know for my future relationship with whoever Mason chooses. How would you behave differently if you knew it were being documented (this person did)? Either via social media or film? Would you make different choices? In my case, I think the subject person was really only nasty toward me, so they may not think they needed to behave any differently - but even if I am the only person sharing those misdeeds, would you want them made public? Would it be okay to stand up at your funeral and tell the truth? I think this is the message I want to share, I want people to feel free to stand up and tell the truth about me, and if I misbehaved, I hope they spoke up in the moment and gave me the opportunity to say, "Yes, I meant that and this is why." or, "I'm so sorry, this is a misunderstanding and this is what I really meant to say." One friend noted that not everyone who interacts with me wants our relationship plastered on social media. Why not? If you behave in an honorable way all the time, who cares if it's shared? And if it's a misunderstanding, I'm not likely to share and throw one under the bus. Their reply was thought provoking and completely valid, "It has nothing to do with honor. I may be a very private person who doesn't want the things I say and the interactions I have with someone else spread across social media. There could be a myriad of reasons, none of which have to do with my behavior but merely my desire to not be discussed in a public...or, for that matter, private forum. Plus, you are sharing from your perspective. You can call it truth all you want but it can only ever be your perspective and not necessarily the other person's truth. If you have something that needs to be said to a specific person, seek them out and with love in your heart, express your needs, boundaries, desires, hurt or whatever you feel you need to say. But do it in private. Don't expose those who, given the opportunity, would choose to not be dragged thru a public forum. I believe THAT is real honor and respect for another's feelings. There are a million reasons someone wouldn't want to have their feelings and behavior "outed." I think that is a personal decision that each individual gets to make on his/her own behalf. No one should make that decision for you and worse yet, act on it by printing unwanted information in a public forum."

 What do you do? Even if you don't write in a public forum, do you keep your mouth shut just to keep the peace? Certainly, there are times that don't matter, but what about those other times?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dreams Do Come True!

After all the years I've known Dave, long before he and I were us, he wanted a boat. A number of times through the years he's come close to a great deal, or taking the plunge and taking on another monthly payment, but he didn't pull the trigger. Once we were married, we've also had different times in our life together that it would have worked out to make the purchase, but we still didn't do it.

I'm a firm believer in things happen when they are suppose to happen. Well, it happened! Dave bought a boat. It's a 2000 Ski Sanger, the price was right, no monthly payment, we just paid cash. And about timing, it's really good. I am working and making good money, Mason is old enough to really learn the ropes, drive the boat, and have fun with his friends on the lake. We live just 7 miles from Folsom Lake and with a season pass to the parks and boat launch, there is lots of daylight left after work to put the boat in the water and enjoy the lake for a few hours.

The first dream come true was the Bernese Mountain Dog last year for Dave's birthday, this year, the ski boat...what's next? And will it wait unit next year? Happy Birthday Dave, so glad you finally got your boat!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Saying Goodbye

Life is tricky sometimes. Relationships are complicated and not always easy. We recently laid Dave’s mom to rest and to say we had a complicated relationship would be an understatement. Dave and I were friends for many years before we got together in a romantic relationship, but it wasn’t until we were together that I started to get to know his family and as far as I knew, we were all getting along just fine. Dave and I married, we had Mason and Dave’s mom came to stay for a week or 10 days after Mason was born. It was awkward for me and I tried to talk with her about it. One morning I was making coffee and I said, “This is kind of awkward, us not really knowing each other and now related?” She replied, “Oh? Do you think so?” I went on to say, “Well, yes. Even though Dave and I have known each other for six years, you and I don’t really know each other at all, and here we are with a new family. I hope we can all be really happy together.” She didn’t say anything. I thought things were good. Dave deployed just a few weeks later and I made it a point to travel with our baby and dog to San Jose so Dave’s family could see him and spend time together. I did this at least once a month, in addition to sending cards and photos for the full 18 month deployment. 

Things went along pretty happy-go-lucky as far as I was concerned until Dave was home and we were celebrating Thanksgiving at our house. All of Dave’s family was there and we were going around the table sharing what we were grateful for and when I shared my gratitude, Mary rolled her eyes and looked away from the table. I couldn't believe what I just saw, and felt! I stopped in my tracks and in an instant, I had the experience that people talk about when they say, “my life passed before my eyes!” I was flooded with moments when I had offered a gift and she rejected it, or things she had done for Dave and Mason and purposefully left me out, in that instant I realized she didn’t like me. I let here know right then that I didn’t appreciate her being disrespectful to me at  my Thanksgiving table. She laughed and told me not to be so sensitive, that was her go to answer if anyone called her on being mean, “You take things so personally.” Or, “Don’t be so sensitive, it was just a joke.” Or my favorite, at Easter and Christmas she would shop at See’s Candies. It was tradition to her kids a chocolate bunny or Santa and when grandkids came, they got one, too. She never got me one, not one. One year Dave asked her as she gave him and Mason the Santa’s, “Do you have one for Kathy?” She opened her eyes really wide and looked at me, shocked, “Oh, did you want one?” How does one respond to that? The next Easter we were sitting down to dinner, she always made a rack of lamb, one of Dave’s favorites! As we all began to eat dinner, Dave spoke up that the lamb was tough and overcooked. I tapped him on the leg and said, “Dave! Your mom made that especially for you, say thank you.” She about came out of her chair and scolded me, “He can say whatever he wants, don’t you tell him what to say to me.” Wow, I was surprised that he being critical and when I defended her, I was the one that was not practicing good manners. It was at this point that I had to make a decision, this was not going to get any better, and after thinking about things I decided that I was going to simply remove myself from the situation. I didn’t put Dave in the uncomfortable situation of having to fight for me or “choose,” I simply let him know that I would not be going to celebrate holidays, I absolutely wanted him and Mason to go, but I would not be going with them. This was the way it went for the next 12+ years and you know what, to this day I still do not know why she didn’t like me. Dave tried to talk to her, and she simply would not acknowledge that there was an issue. I think she simply liked the arrangement with me not attending her holidays and life went on.

I share all of this for a number of reasons, first and foremost this situation has made me acutely aware that I do not want a situation like this when Mason gets married. I will do the best I can to be supportive of his relationship even if I have to perform an academy award winning performance. The other reason I share is to hopefully create some self reflection in others about how they live, and here is the question I’m posing, “If you knew your life was being documented, either via the written word or video, would you behave differently?” Most people I ask this question say no, but I bet the real answer is yes. It’s similar to knowing something is wrong, but contemplating getting away with it if you are 100% sure you will not be caught. Finally, The Monday Motivator is my story, it’s a weekly post about my life and the way I see it. My experiences with Mary are mine, viewed through my lenses and felt with my heart. In any case, this for me was a life lesson for sure. I’m proud of the way I handled it, but it was also sad that hers was the only funeral I’ve ever attended that didn’t make me cry.