Monday, May 18, 2015

It's the 20th Monday of 2015

Welcome to the 20th Monday of 2015 (yep, I counted)! It's my last week of school and as usual, I'm bummed. I love being able to go to school and this semester has been more fun than most, I got to spend four days a week learning video production and editing. I produced and edited a 10 minute documentary about my journey with Mason and all his cooking antics. I don't expect this project will be anything that the masses would be interested in, but it will be something for Mason as he grows up and has a family of his own - it's really a high tech home movie. I'll post a link to the video next week when school is out and it's completely finished, you just have to remember, it is a student project so be kind!

Mason has 3 weeks of school left so that means I have a few weeks to start packing and get the house decluttered and cleaned. Dave and I have been house shopping and as much as I loathe the idea of moving again, I am excited to be in a place that is ours. For those of you wondering why we are moving again, we were planning to buy again last fall (2 years after the short sale of our previous home), but our landlords asked us to break our lease and move out earlier than scheduled so they could move into the house we were renting. Because we weren't quite to the 2 year mark, we had to sign another 12 month lease. So we moved in June of last year and will be moving during the summer of this year, too. Hopefully, we will be able to stay put until we revisit the plan to move to the east coast when Dave retires from the military in 4-5 years. 

Do you have big plans for summer vacation? Since we are buying a house and moving, we won't be taking much of a family vacation, but with the river just a few miles away, we can slip away to hike, float or swim anytime we need a break. If I haven't mentioned this before, buy a state park pass and you can visit so many cool parks and not have to pay to get it (or park). The California Poppy Pass is good at all state parks and is only $125 for a full calendar year, I say that's the best deal going! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

We went right from Home Show weekend into BerryFest weekend - 2 cooking demos for me and 7 cooking demos for Mason! I love to watch him when it gets busy like this because he gets good so fast. This is not to say there are not slip-ups because those are inevitable, it's just like anything, the more you do it, the better you get. BerryFest had Mason making strawberry waffles with berry butter for his 11 AM demo and strawberry balsamic chicken served with a homemade slaw for his 1 PM demo, both were delicious.

It's funny, the people at these venues range from completely ordinary to absolutely eccentric. We love them all and make small talk with all that are willing to stop for a bit and engage. Of course I hear all day long, "Is that your son? Wow! He's really something!" to which I always reply, "Yes and YES! He sure is something!' It's funny to me as they only see the on-stage Mason, not the real 11 year-old kid who is a total pain in my ass most of the time. I know, I know, it's his job and trust me, he does it well! I also recognize that he is really something, he's an exceptional speaker, he is articulate, he is kind, he stands up for the first graders he loves so much at his school (he sometimes helps in their class), and he is sometimes too smart for his own good while at the same time, a total dumb ass! Laughing! I laugh because every one of us can attest to living this same life at some point, clearly we had the intelligence to make great choices, yet we took the road of the loudest party, or plug in your not-really-the-best-choice-road metaphor. I can see it already, Mason's teenage years will make my Revlon 4R red hair turn gray!

Since we spent most of our weekend at BerryFest, we didn't have too much else on tap but because our days are longer and the weather was gorgeous, we made time to get to the river for a couple of hours each day - that, my friends, was bliss! I can hear it now, I hear it from many of you all summer long, "I hope you are using sunscreen, the sun is so bad for you!" Yes, I use mass amounts of sunscreen. In my humble opinion, the exposure to the sun is rejuvenating, it makes me feel inspired, creative, sensual and alive! I can spend just an hour or two at the river and I feel like I can conquer the world, or maybe rock my man's world! TMI? Nonsense! We need to find those things that turn us on - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and sexually. It's good on all accounts. In fact, here is a great story from Saturday at the river with Mason. I had Pandora playing in one earbud while Mason was stacking rocks on the beach. I said to him, "I hope you're not gonna be embarrassed because I really like this song and I'm gonna sing out loud." He replied, "Sing it mom!" I started singing "Nothing But a Good Time" by Poison and much to my delight, Mason started singing with me! A few people on the beach looked over at us and I thought they were going to stare but they smiled and gave us thumbs up while we sang out loud together. I was impressed he knew all the words.

Sunday night Dave and Mason made us homemade pizza and we spent some time eating and watching a movie. All in all, it was good weekend. I hope yours was as well!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Auburn Spring Home Show

We survived the Auburn Spring Home Show! Yes, it was the first cooking demos of the year and Mason and I each cooked both days, and I'm happy to say, Mason stepped up and did much of his own prep and even cleaned up the cooking stage. He must be growing up, if only just a little bit. Mason made Wonuts (a combination of a waffle and a donut) and I made a breakfast trifle (layered eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, potatoes, and onions with peppers). Yeah, not low cal but so delicious! One of my favorite things this weekend was when Gary got Mason on stage with a plate of chocolate covered Wonuts right in his face! The only downside is that I had already turned the camera off. Darn it!! But luckily, one of our friends did get a photo. 

Mason's Strawberry Rose
Not only did we have lots of prep with the home show, we also had a wedding in Sacramento on Friday night, Mason did a bonus demo making strawberry roses, we had a cinch de Mayo party in Orangevale, and I checked out equipment to record cooking demos and interviews for a documentary I'm producing for my video classes. Yes, I'm tired but I feel like I've lived this weekend to the fullest.

Did I mention that I was tired? I was standing at the kitchen sink after putting away all the food and tools from the cooking demos, I did the dishes and was cleaning organic strawberries and I fell asleep! OMG, seriously, my eyes closed and I wobbled on my feet. As I started to lose my balance, I woke up and immediately started laughing wondering if anyone saw me. This must be what it's like for babies who fall asleep while eating, playing or potty training. Still chuckling to myself as I think about it.

Oh the glamour of it all!
Now I have school, work and a final this week, in addition to getting Mason ready to do 4 cooking demos this weekend at BerryFest in Roseville. Have an awesome week and don't forget, next Sunday is Mother's Day so get that card in the mail! :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Being Validated Feels Pretty Darn Good!

I've been writing this weekly blog since 1999, that's a long time! The reach is not far in terms of numbers of people, but it seems the actual number of people who read my Monday Motivator is not as important as the one person it impacts with light and joy. Last week I wrote about an unhappy mindset, someone who lives not allowing themselves to live in the good that surrounds them. I got an email from someone I've known since high school (a long time ago!) who is one of the relatively few people who read my blog, here is what he had to say and a brief exchange:

*Hi Kathy,
Just wanted to say thanks for sharing gems like this. I've been amazed at how dedicated and persistent you've been in sending out these weekly motivational messages and just how bright a star you really are. Your efforts to reach beyond your immediate circle, beyond family and close friends, to share warmth and inspiration to anyone who wishes to receive it, attest to your superb character.  
You deserve, at the very least, to know the impact you've had on this reader.
I'm very much a private person. I'm meditative and introspective. This works for me, but at times means I suffer from living too much in my own head. It can create a debilitating isolation at times. Your messages are therapy. They break through and allow me to break free.

WOW! I'm not sure what to say, this email made my day. It's super crazy because I was thinking about you this week, just 3 days before getting this email. I was reminded of working for Lucky in RC and was sharing some stories of our time in Orangevale. It got me thinking and wondering how you are and what you look like. I know, what you look like? Yeah, I was wondering. I smiled and headed into class. 

I hope you are well and thank you again for writing to me, I will save this email and if it's okay, I may even post it (without your name, of course). Have a great weekend!
Big smiles! Kathy

*Big smiles back, Kathy. 
Of course you can use my email anyway you like. It's small reciprocation for all you've done. How I look, huh? Well, let's just say I haven't aged as well as you. Judging by your profile pic, you're as stunning as ever. I think it has as much to do with what shines from within as from your physicality. Let me add to my previous sentiments about what impresses me about you... I love the family life you've built and nurtured. Your writings convey just how much you, Dave, and Mason love and support each other, and it's so encouraging to see this kind of family bond, through the good and the not so good. I would say that you're lucky to have such a family, but I think you'd agree that you've created your own luck. 

Pretty cool, huh? I'm humbled and it makes me feel super, crazy good to hear this. To know I make a difference in someones life is pretty much what makes life worth living, wouldn't you say? Today reach out to someone who touches you like I've touched my friend. I guarantee you, it will make their day beyond their wildest dreams!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thank You Barilla Pasta!!

This is a little bonus post, you all know I had a blast being a part of America Cooks with Chefs back in December and January, right? Well, a few weeks back I got a BIG box in the mail and it was chock full of all kinds of fun pasta stuff. Check it out, a Calphalon pasta pot, lots of Barilla pasta including some of their special collections, a lovely pasta serving bowl, wooden utensils, a pasta tin, a cheese grater and a spoon rest. Oh, and lest I forget, a years supply of Barilla pasta! Yes, 52 free boxes of pasta! That's alotta pasta.

Some of the things I learned through my time with America Cooks and Barilla is that pasta will not make you fat, excess calories will. Pasta is a good complex carb food. When you pair pasta with high fiber vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats, you get a healthy, filling meal.

Pasta is good for you and the planet. Plant-based foods including pasta have a lower environmental impact. Barilla pasta is non-GMO, I know this is important to many people.

As soon as I opened my box, I immediately decided we were having my favorite pasta recipe for dinner, Mason's Funky spaghetti but I make it a little differently than he does. We used the bucatini which is like a thicker spaghetti noodle and it has a hole in the middle, yes, it's hollow!

The recipe is super simple, lots of color cherry tomatoes, olive oil (just a splash), fresh chopped garlic, basil, salt and pepper. In Mason's version, he crushes all of this together with his hands. My preference is to give it a few whirls in my food processor, I don't like it puree'd, but a more fine, consistent chop. I add my hot al dente pasta right from the water into my tomatoes and mix it all up with a bit of the pasta water - it's SO good! I eat it for dinner hot and then I dream about having lunch the next day and eating it cold.

Finally, our little family of three does not need all this wonderful food so we gave some of the coupons for free pasta to our local food bank and we put together a lovely Barilla Pasta basket for Mason's fifth grade class at what else, his schools annual spaghetti feed fundraiser! The basket brought in almost $80! Thank you Barilla and America Cooks with Chefs! I am just 7 lbs away from my weight loss goal with Weight Watchers and I love that I don't have to eliminate pasta to get there, I do however have to keep my portions in check. It's a small price to pay to be able to eat my favorite comfort food.

You can learn more about America Cooks with Chefs and Barilla Pasta by just clicking on the links. What is your favorite pasta recipe, I would love to know!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happiness, It's a Choice!

Last week I shared that Mason was struggling with a strep infection and some side effects that were not adding up. He's been on antibiotics and feeling so much better! It's tough to see your child sick and this last week I got a taste of what it might be like to have a child who is not well. It was awful! I am not usually one to take for granted the things in my life that are good, things like our health, we have jobs, our family is happy, we love the community we live in, and so much more, but this little scare reaffirmed all that I am thankful for every single day. 

We all have had crap that has made us sad or mad. Life experiences that have in some cases deeply affected who we are, but they are not forever - unless you choose to keep them alive forever. Continuing to focus on that which we don't have, past hurts, and the continual pity party that life is about a shitty job, stupid people, not enough money, blah, blah, blah just breathes new life each day into all those awful things. Be done already! Choose to be happy, and look at all you have that is joyous around you, I assure you, there is SO much to be thankful for if you will just choose to look. Do you struggle with letting go of the negativity in life? 

I made a decision many years ago to not be a victim. I learned what it meant to take full responsibility for my life, and that meant understanding that where I am today is because of something I am doing or not doing. Not because my job sucks. Not because I couldn't catch a break to get my education earlier in life. Not because of any single thing someone else has done. I can recall darn near the exact moment this change happened for me and I was scared, I remember thinking, how can I control what other people do? If someone does this or that to me, it's not my fault. What I discovered is that it just plain does not matter what anyone else does, it only matters what I do - and don't do. I learned to not participate in illegal activity (seriously, that one was a no brainer!), I learned to get clear about what I wanted in life and I took steps to move in that direction. What I really learned is that other people don't really matter at all as long as I am clear about who I am, what I want, and how I want to get there. I found that by taking responsibility I had the power and control to make things happen, stop or start something, and make changes. As long as you live your life saying, "It's not my fault." "I didn't do it." "Not my job." you will never take control of your life, you will always be living your life at the mercy of other's choices. 

On the other side of this are the circumstances of having people in your life who can't let go of all the bad and you simply cannot disconnect from them. Again, I come back to what I know - it is up to me to see the joy, to point it out and revel in it. Ultimately, there is a profound sadness that I feel for those who live like this; heavy, sad, mad, when really there is so much joy and light all around them. Who knows who may be there at the end of their lives, but I suspect they will wish they smiled more, looked to possibilities instead of disappointments, and spent more time with people they love instead of thinking of the things they still don't have and likely never will...not because they can't, but because if they make it happen to have it, they won't have the evidence of the disappointment to fall back on when they need to reference their list of all that's been sucky about their life.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Feeling Under the Weather...

Things are a bit unsettled this week. Mason has been experiencing an odd set of circumstances that we originally thought he was having an allergic reaction to a number of bug bites. We are seeing his doctor again tomorrow and hopefully we can nail this down and get him feeling better.

*That was last Monday and after several more medical visits and blood tests, here is what was determined; It went from the allergic reaction idea to dehydration, to the idea that there was possibly something else going on. He was experiencing headaches, dizziness, joint pain that was moving from one joint to the next with some of them swelling immensely. The long story short is that he had a severe strep infection and his primary care doctor was concerned that #1, the severity of the strep infection showed no other signs, no fever, no lethargy, no pain when swallowing, no loss of appetite, just the high level of infection that his body was having a hard time fighting. #2, an untreated strep infection can lead to rheumatic fever, which I have learned involves joint pain and swelling (his left ankle swelled up so big he couldn't walk for 3 days), headaches, and heart problems. We are following up to be sure all is well, but since he started the antibiotics he is doing so much better. I will be more aware of the signs of arthritis and appreciate what we typically take for granted with healthy kids. 

*Edited with the update 4/12/15