Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

On Friday Dave and I worked at Mason’s 7th grade Renaissance Faire. It was really neat, the teachers that organize this each year do a really great job. It is their intention that it be as authentic as possible, they even make it clear that if the kids do not put together a real costume (not a hoodie that says, “this is my costume.”), they cannot attend. My space was the pouches booth in the merchant’s row. They had pre-sewn pouches that the kids had to string twine through the tops and make a double closing draw string. I had two 7th grade interns in the morning, and two in the afternoon after lunch. The kids had to come early and get their training and then they had to help their classmates with the instructions to complete the task. There was a flower head-wreath booth, in addition to jewelry making, braided fabric belts, and embroidery. I was impressed with the games, stilt walking, real chainmail vendors, and jousting! See the photos, it was a really awesome event for everyone who attended. 

This was year 5 for Mason to be cooking at BerryFest. It was great because it wasn’t too hot, but the weather was nice enough that families wanted to be outside. Since it was Mason’s fifth anniversary, he demonstrated how to make strawberry cream and then showed the audience five different recipes they could make with it. The five recipes were, a parfait, little strawberry pies, a trifle, brownie cheesecake bites, and strawberry shortcakes. He sampled out the trifle that he made with the strawberry cream, fresh strawberries, old fashioned donuts, and whipped cream. It was really good! You can see a bit of his demo on my Facebook page, we did some of it Facebook Live. Oh, and another cool thing, Mason did his first radio interview to talk about BerryFest. They liked him so much, the host coming on after his interview asked him to stay and to do another interview. Not bad, I've always told him he has a face for radio! HaHaHa!
So my Mother's Day was pretty ideal, I slept in a little, I did a bit of light housekeeping, Dave brought me coffee and then Mason and I went to BerryFest. When we got home, we dropped Mason off to play racquetball and Dave and I went to Petes for a drink. After Pete’s, Dave made my favorite dinner, it seems it’s becoming our traditional Mother’s Day dinner, barbecue crab, steamed asparagus, a lobster cake, and a cocktail. Mason finished it off with a strawberry shortcake zested with lime and he added caramel. #SoGood.

Funny story, while eating dinner on the patio an old country song came on, one of our favorites from the day and I grabbed Dave to dance with me. We were doing the horseshoe and Gunner was having no part of it! He was jumping on me and pushing Dave away from me as if to say, "No! She's mine!" We laughed, like that laugh that you share with few people in life. Magical, really, the stuff that makes life amazing. However, the morning did start with Mason being so eager to give me my gift that he was barely able to wait for me to finish shaving my legs! Happy Mother’s Day.

Mason on the Pat Walsh Show

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nature vs Nurture

I’m not sure what turns on reflective thoughts, but I’m finding myself thinking about what makes this this, or makes that that. It’s rare that a week goes by that someone doesn’t tell me how polite Mason is, or they ask how it is that a 13 year old boy is so grown up. I rarely take the credit, although if Mason were an ill-mannered brat, people would hold me responsible for that for sure! The truth for me is this, it’s a combination of upbringing and character genetics, yes, the old nurture versus nature. 

I can look at many families, my own included and see two parents who raised 5 kids and we couldn’t all be any more different. Same parenting (mostly), same sociological environment, yet you have one child who is quite codependent, two who are felons, a fourth who is successful as middle class Americans go, and the fifth who is independent and outgoing more than anyone else in this family. Why is that? Same mom and dad raising all of them. Then you have a smaller family, two kids, one is a scholar, happily married, two kids, who are also thriving. The other is struggling to understand how to adult, that there are consequences and boundaries to their life choices. Number two has five kids with four different partners and is now married to another and parenting their kids. The last two of five are being raised by grandma and grandpa. How are those kids so different? These are just two examples of why I don’t take credit for who Mason is, and why I won’t feel totally responsible if he were to take a turn for the worse. To a large degree, and especially as he grows into an adult, he has a character imprint that makes him who he is. I see my job as creating situations that he can grow in and learn from, putting him in environments that will positively influence him, and doing my best to spot the teaching moments and make sure that the wounds & scars are less than the lessons he can move forward with.

I look at Mason’s early years and I did things much differently than my mommy-peers. Keep in mind that I had Mason at 37 years old and my mommy peers were typically younger women. Does that matter? I can’t be sure, but I suspect yes. Mason was on a schedule from the time he was born. He had regular meal times once he was outside of 3 months, we had a routine for our day and especially our evenings. He had dinner, we would play or cuddle and then it was bath time. After bath time we played a little more and then it was bed time. Mason slept in his own bed from day one. Now, I don’t believe in co-sleeping as I’m of the mind that mom and dad sleep together, that is their intimate space and when kids are there, well, other things fall off the radar. Granted, we are all pretty exhausted when a new baby enters our lives, but hey, the best gift you can give your kids is happily married parents. How do mom and dad stay happily married? They do the things they do in bed without kids! I had another reason for not sleeping with Mason and it was this, Dave deployed when Mason was just 3 weeks old. If I were to sleep with Mason and then work to get him to sleep on his own 18 months later, I thought he may feel displaced by Dave and then possibly harbor some kind of resentment. I don’t know why I had that forethought, but I did. Mason has always been a good sleeper and to this day, he is fine sleeping away from home and Dave & I.

The other thing I did from the very start is I, “said what I meant, and I meant what I said.” If I stated a consequence for an action and Mason took that action, the consequence was imposed. There was no question, no second chances, just the consequence. This has really served Dave and I as parents, Mason is now 13 and he knows we say what we mean and we mean what we say. Back to the DNA imprint, even though that “nurture” training has been successfully programed, the “nature” in the kid will still make a poor choice and have to endure the consequence. So with all of this said, I believe all kids deserve a nurturing and loving environment to grow up in. That means punishments as well as lots of joy and rewards. But a great environment is not all it takes, and frankly mom and dad, it’s not all on you! Kids are little humans, they will start making their own decisions earlier than you think, and they won’t always be to your liking. Love them, guide them, scold them, teach them, and love them some more. What I find is the most important part of nurturing our kids is being a good role model and setting good examples. That way, when they do make poor choices, they can’t come back to you and say, “Well, you did…” 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Happy Easter

I'm out of sorts. Mason, Gunner and I made the long drive to Utah to see my family. My mom has been declining in the recent months and it was just time to get there and see her. My mom waited for me to get there and then today, took a turn for the worse. Even though death is expected as our parents age, it brings out questions of mortality, and all kinds of emotions that are impossible to articulate. What's the point to working so hard for this, or making that just right? We're all going to die anyway. Of course, the point is that we make the most of each day that we have so when our time comes, we don’t look back with regret. We don’t wish we had tried harder, or done more. I know that I live out loud and I’m coaching Mason to do the same. It doesn’t matter if you step up and fall flat on your face. In fact, if that happens, it will be an epic story for years to come! Step up again, and again, and again. Learn to play the guitar, be an actor, skydive, take a cake decorating class, write a blog - make it you life story so your family has it when you’re gone, learn to dance and then go invite someone you don’t know to dance with you, the list could go on and on. Ultimately, make the most of today - no, every day. 

Tell those you love that you love them. Let the little shit go. It seems the disagreements only matter if we think we can continue arguing our point. What if you are walking away for the last time? You can't talk about it any you still want to be right? Even if you are? It's all so surreal. Faith really helps those that believe there is a home, they're going home to family and father. I get that, even if it's just for the comfort that there is something more, or better. What will it be like for our kids to have to say goodbye to us? That makes me even sadder.

It was a long drive both ways and an emotional trip. I want to thank my sister Teri Cartwright for taking care of my mom as she gets ready to transition to whatever is next. The job of the caregiver is not an easy one and my sister is the strongest, most giving person I know.  

Sunday was Easter. It was a lovely day. We all slept in, Mason got to hunt for eggs that all had scratchers in them and ended with his basket that contained the entire series of The X-Files on DVD. He was over the moon! We watched tv, laughed, sat in the hot tub, and Dave made a traditional Easter dinner while I made brownies for dessert. Not a chocolate bunny in the house. It was so nice to just live the ordinary with my family, these are the moments that ultimately will be the most special memories, wouldn't you agree?

Monday, April 10, 2017

That's A Wrap!

Grayson and Mason (don't mind the makeup residue)
Mason is done shooting the movie. This has been an epic experience on so many levels, mostly because Mason got to see that so many of the things I’ve been saying to him are true. I’ve shared with him how casting works, what producers and directors expect from talent, and proper etiquette through the casting process and on set. This shoot was not a big budget production, but it was big enough for Mason to note, “If this is how it is making movies, I want to make movies for a living!” I assured him there are all kinds of opportunities and sometimes the smaller productions offer more to new talent. I think that was true in this case. 

Even more interesting, Mason got to see what happens when talent behaves badly. I’ve worked diligently to impress upon him to be on time (early), to be willing to do whatever it takes, to listen more than he talks (we both struggle with that one), and to bring light and positivity to the set. Not only did we see someone “released” from the production, but we also met someone who everyone loved! Grayson Russell is a talented young actor (started at 8 and just turned 18) and to say he was a joy to meet and work with wouldn’t do him justice. You might know Grayson from his role as the young son of Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, or as Fregley in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films. He was just so polite, friendly, and genuinely interested in every one he met, including Mason. An amazing role model for sure! Good job mom, although I know, some of it is what we do, and some of it is the character of these amazing people we call our sons. 

This impressive and spooky castle is the location where Mason had the experience of a lifetime, Preston School of Industry in Ione, CA. We met amazing people, he got to do a stunt, he had to shave his head, and he got to be made up by real Hollywood makeup artists. I've expressed my gratitude every step of the way and I still feel like I need to say thank you a million more times. I know Mason will make more movies and I can't wait to continue this journey with him. He's a good kid and makes his dad and I proud every day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Happy 50th Birthday Jules!

Happy 50th Birthday to my most longtime best friend! I can't believe I've been able to be on this journey with Julie for darn near 40 years. To be her best friend since fourth grade, well, to say it's an honor would be an understatement. I'm so glad so many of her friends joined me on Saturday to celebrate her, her life, and the awesome woman she is. So glad to call her, and all of you friends!

Julie’s birthday is March 30th, but to celebrate on April 1st (yes, April Fools Day!) with a “theme” that combined Steampunk, Pirates, Mardi Gras, and Disney, well, it fit Julie to a tee! Almost everyone dressed up and the food was off the hook. If this party did not make Jules feel loved, well, I can’t imagine what would. She is loved and I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years holds for us!

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's Inevitable, With Life Comes Death

Dave's dad is home and back in his own house. I'm sure we are all happier, but the stress was crazy heavy. Him being gone left me feeling happy and exhausted at the same time. Couple that with Gunner heading back to the vet with all the signs he's ingested something yet again, and I learned this week that both Dave's mom and my mom are both starting hospice care. We knew it was coming, it's not terrible, but it's all so emotional. Mason and I are still back and forth between Auburn and Ione while he is still shooting the movie and Dave is leaving this weekend for two weeks. 

Yes, my mom is dying. It's not terrible, she's lived a long life - it's time. I called her and we talked, I asked her how she felt, if she was excited to see my dad, granny, and grandpop. She told me she is. I asked her if she is afraid, and she said no. Mason was sitting on the floor of my office listening in and thought I was crazy (insensitive) to be talking about death with someone who is so close to crossing over. No! To allow my mom to share with me how she feels and where she is going in this next phase of her existence, I see it as a gift. Not many people agree with me but I don't care, it's she and I and it's real. I had a similar conversation with my granny years ago. She was more and more frequently wanting to talk about when she dies, and family would hush and poo-poo her, they would say, “Oh granny, we don’t want to talk about that.” But she did, so one day we were having tea, that’s what we did, we had hot tea (with milk and sugar) with dry toast and cheese and she brought up what she wanted when she dies. I asked her to tell me. She talked about her things, what she promised to whom and then she asked me what I wanted. I was inclined to say nothing, but there was something, I wanted her plants. Her eyes got big and she looked very surprised, “My plants? That’s what you want?” Yep, my granny and I both love house plants and she had a green thumb like nobody I’ve ever known. I got her plants and through 16+ years and many moves, they have not all survived, but I do still have one. 

Death scares me. I think it's because I still have life to live and things to do, and the idea of leaving Mason before he is grown makes me shudder. I hope when I'm old, I'm ready and not afraid. And I hope Mason will talk with me about these things... Love you mom, when you are ready to go, go, it's totally okay…but like I told granny, when you're dead, be dead, no showing up as an apparition, that would scare the bejesus out of me! I’ll be making plans to go see her and in the meantime, we’ll talk some more.

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