Monday, February 8, 2016

Chicago Was A Blast!

Mason and I have been in Chicago for the last four days and we've had a ball. I can't share all the details yet but suffice it to say, we have more excitement on the horizon. Mason participated in a cooking competition of sorts and when we weren't working, we got to visit the Shedd Aquarium, did some shopping on Magnificent Mile where Mason purchased some cool gold football cleats, we had two kinds of deep dish pizza, and we visited a ramen restaurant off the beaten path - it was phenomenal! Speaking of the pizza, we all know that Chicago style pizza is heavy on the toppings and deep dish style but what I didn't realize is that the crust is croissant like. It's lighter, flaky and quite buttery. My next question to the locals was, "Do Chicagoans eat cold pizza?" I'm thinking no because it's so thick, it would be like eating cold lasagne, just too much cheese to eat cold. The only thing that could have made the trip better is if Dave could have come with us.

I keep thinking what a gift it is that Mason's culinary talents are taking him on these awesome adventures, and he's only 12 years old! He's been to NYC, CT, IL, and of course many counties in CA. I have no doubt he will see the world because of his ability to cook and entertain.

Now I have to see what I can get unpacked and put away before we take off for Lake Tahoe this Friday. Happy Monday!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Boxes Everywhere!

We. Are. Exhausted. We spent this last week and weekend finishing our move from the rental to the new house. Why is it when you move that the last day it seems like there is more little stuff than what fills the whole house? The last bits of paper, rags, cleaning products, yard tools, and more. More what? I ask because I wonder if I even need this stuff. It doesn't matter, now I need to focus on all the boxes that are surrounding us in the new house and start figuring out what of our old stuff works in the new house.

In addition to unpacking, Mason and I are preparing to leave for Chicago for a cooking competition and then we will return home only to visit Lake Tahoe the next weekend. The question is, will be we able to relax and unwind knowing we have so much to do at home, home sweet home.

Monday, January 25, 2016

We Moved!

Yep, we did it, we spent our first night in our new home on Saturday and though we moved all of the big stuff, we still have some work to do. Of course there is lots of unpacking, sorting, organizing and putting away that needs to happen, but I still have plenty to do at the old house, too. Oh, and if that isn't enough, there is a new project on Mason's horizon that has decided to come to fruition this week. I can't share the details yet, but it wasn't suppose to happen until the first week in February and now they want to start this week. Okay, we are a "roll with the punches" kind of family so we will make it happen, but the timing is certainly not ideal.

On other fronts, Mason is working on a speech to deliver to local service clubs about his culinary journey and winning Chopped Junior. We are testing the waters on what a speaking career might look like. He loves performing but doesn't love the idea of learning someone else's lines. He told me he may have to give up a dream of acting and I suggested he make a living being himself, it's served him pretty well thus far, don't you think? He didn't reply right away and pondered that for a minute and said, "Tell me more, like what do you mean?" I noted Ryan Seacrest, Mario Lopez, and Phil Keoghan, host of the Amazing Race. These men are spokesmen, they get paid to speak, host events, do radio in Ryan's case, and endorsements as well. They are entertainers for sure, but for the most part, they get paid to be themselves, the public likes them so there is a draw. I think Mason could have that kind of appeal, too. He is quite articulate, certainly entertaining when he plugs in, and he's not hard to look at (I know, I'm a bit biased!). I'll be sure to record his speeches and you can give him some feedback. We are working on not saying um and uh, and learning o strategically pause and smile. Stay tuned!

I'll post photos soon, but for now I have to try to get this house in order before the company gets here. Have a great week and be sure to make someone smile today, pay a compliment or two, it costs nothing and builds value in the world tenfold.

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Finally Here!

We close escrow on our new house this week. If all goes as planned, we will have the keys on Thursday, Friday at the latest. This is happening a year later than we had hoped, but it's finally time. I've been packing, my house is a wreck, I don't have the things I need and I don't need the things that are not yet packed. It's just one big mess. But there is lots of good going on all at the same time. We are purging, getting rid of lots of minutia and crap that has stayed with us for more years than necessary. I'm in a space to let go and when that happens, I have to take action. I won't be able to go through everything before we move it, as I have boxes packed from when we moved out of the Aeolia house in 2012. I can hear you now, "If you haven't needed it in 3.5 years, you don't need it." Well, that may be true, but until I can open those boxes and see what I have room and use for in the new house, I won't know. I'm sure I don't need all of it, but some of it I simply love. I have a hand painted pitcher and set of 4 glasses that Julie gave me for a wedding gift in 2002 that I don't need, but I love it. I also have several sets of dishes that I did not have room for in the two smaller rental houses we've been in the last 3 years that I'm sure I have room for in the new house.

So now it's back to packing and hopefully unpacking very soon! Happy Monday, make some magic this week, it will make you happy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exploding Septic Tanks and First Heartbreaks

Mason is just 12 years old, but he is wise beyond his years in some respects. A few nights back we had minor disaster in our master bedroom - the septic backed up in a major way and my master bath and bedroom carpet were horribly soaked in waste. I cleaned it up as best I could shampooing the 4X4 foot section of the carpet three times and the final time dousing it with vinegar. If it wasn't really smelling like an outhouse (that may have just been burned in my olfactory nerve) it absolutely smelled like wet carpet and I had to sleep on the trundle bed in Mason's room. Dave is away in Arkansas with work, so it was just the two of us.

It was fun, kind of like a slumber party. I was wrapping up some email on my laptop and he was on his iPad. I told him he needed to say goodbye to his girlfriend he was messaging with on Instagram and he was taking longer than I wanted him to take. I pushed and he got mad at me, he said, "Mom, she is trying to tell me something, can you give me just another minute?" I was playing hardball as it was really late and when he finally signed off he made sure to inform me that she just broke up with him. Ouch! I felt like a total schmuck.

Keep in mind that he is only in the 6th grade but he and this young lady have been courting for a couple of months - that's a long time at this stage in life. I had my laptop off and was lying in the dark listening to my boy cry. It felt horrible and I was so grateful when he started talking. "Mom, L and J knew, they were so happy today at school, they were laughing when I walked by and I just know they told N to break up with me. Why would people be happy that someone was going to be hurt?" What do I say to that? I said the only thing I could say, I told him that there will always be people in life who will take joy from other people's pain and in middle school, it's probably as bad as it will ever be. I went on to say as young kids, they all don't know how to reconcile these grown up situations and when someone is getting hurt, it's scary. It's easier for a young person to act tough and like they don't care than it is to show real compassion and empathy.

I don't think he liked my answer but I followed it up with what I thought was sound advice. I told him to not feed into any drama that may be at school the next day. I said that middle school age is the introduction to relationships and how you start out handling things will help how you handle things as you go through high school and college. The best thing to do is to hold you head high, do your own thing and ignore any remarks that try to pull you into the blacktop drama. I did my best to convince him that he should leave girls alone and just be a kid, don't mess with "girlfriends" right now. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I'll keep trying.

How many mom's get to be present when their son's first break up happens? Not many I would imagine and I was so honored that Mason shared his feelings with me. What an amazing gift, seriously, it was a priceless, wonderful gift.

Next week we are scheduled to close on our house, we finally get to be homeowners again! In light of the current septic situation in our rental, taking possession can't come a moment too soon. Oh, and check this out, a local blogger wrote and awesome article about Mason. Check out her blog, she is doing great things in addition to supporting Mason.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome 2016!

The first Monday of 2016 just happens to fall on January 4th and that also happens to be my sister's birthday - Happy Birthday Terry!

Through the years we've celebrated the new year in many different ways. We've bought pricey tickets to fancy parties, worn formal clothes and fancy jewelry, and we've celebrated in pajamas with a few dime store hats and party horns. A few years back, we hosted a party for the kids, inviting Mason's friends over to play games, eat snack food, roast smoshpellows to make smore's using leftover Christmas cookies, and drink kid champagne, aka sparkling cider. It's always memorable and we try to have something for everyone. This year Mason had a mini party with his good friend Kyle, they played video games, Monopoly, watched a movie, and ate crap food. They are at an age now that they can be home alone as long as we are not too far away. Kyles folks had plans with friends nearby and Dave and I went to play poker with some of our local friends. We all had a great time and Dave and I were home in time to hoot and holler with Kyle and Mason when the clock struck midnight.

On New Years day, Kyle's mom took the boys skiing so Dave and I took the opportunity to just unplug and slow down. We slept in until after 10 AM, we got up and had breakfast, Dave put on a pot of split pea soup, we watched a movie, went for a walk with Spencer to our local pub and had a beer with friends, and came home to just lounge on the couch watching TV. Mason came home and we all had soup and toasted French bread for dinner and we were all in bed by 9 PM. It was a great way to ring in the new year, doing just what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it.

Now it's back to work and school, Dave is in Arkansas training and I am packing our house to move sometime around the third week in January. I'm looking forward to living in a house that is ours, and a place that has more space for us to coexist without being on top of each other. It's going to hopefully be a fresh start and a healing can really happen with regard to the previous losses regarding "home" and the many complex meanings it holds for each of us.

Happy New Year friends, I wish you love, good health, adventure and success - plug in what each of those things means to you and go for it!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Farewell 2015

Every year has it's ups and downs, life is bound to bring challenges and we've certainly had our fair share. Looking back to 2011, it seemed like things were as bad as they could get, we were facing the fact that we had to short sale our house, our glove business was not going to fly, we had exhausted our savings and it just all felt so unfair. I'm not going to recap the whole painful scenario, but suffice it to say, some things take longer to resolve emotionally than others.

It's been just over three years since we moved out of the Aeolia house and have lived in two rentals since. That story is another bit of "life's not fair," but whatever. During Christmas 2014, Dave's mom's health took a turn for the worse and that set in motion a whole other set of stressful circumstances that had to be dealt with. What I'm trying to say is 2015 was a very uncomfortable culmination of some old wounds that never quite healed mixed with new, raw emotions and our family was put to the test. Look back through this blog and you will see, our life has been pretty darn good, Dave and I have had an easy go of being married (at least as I can tell from hearing people talk about how hard marriage is - I haven't had that experience). Some of you have noted that I must sugar coat much of what I post here because, "Who can have it that good so much of the time?" We do!

For the two of us, Dave is not as optimistic as I am and he doesn't move on and bounce back from adversity as quickly as I do. It takes him more time to process what has happened, why or why not, and I've found he typically decides how he feels and stays with that decision. He was mad as hell that we had to short sale our house in 2012 and he stayed mad. Maybe I should analyze things more, but I live in the camp of what's done is done, if I can't change it, why sit and ponder it? Sure, I've looked back and wondered if I could have done things differently, or should I have taken this chance or that chance to see a different outcome, but I don't spend much time in those scenarios. I'm more likely to look ahead at what I want to be creating and manifesting for our futures. All the stress that came with Dave having to take care of his mom forced his hand to confront some longstanding feelings that had not been resolved. We had some explosive moments, we said things we didn't mean, Mason learned what it was like to see and hear his parents really fight, and he even shouldered some harsh words that really weren't aimed at him at all.

I'm sharing all of this for a number of reasons, but most noteworthy is that this blog is the story of my life and I always want to look back and know it is my real life that is written here. 2015 was a really hard year for our marriage & family and we have some work to do to get back to who we were, if that's possible. Maybe it's not necessary, maybe we go forward stronger because we weathered the storm. We made amends and continue to work to rebuild trusts that were damaged. Mason saw us fight and more importantly, he saw us make up, say we were sorry and share (as was appropriate) with him why some of our reactions were bigger than it seemed they should have been. I think that is the most valuable thing to come out of trying times, understanding the importance of saying you are sorry, admitting you were wrong or that you over reacted, and sincerely taking responsibility for your part in the pain. We've done that as a family and I hope Mason sees that difficult times come and when they do, how to get through them and resolve them so all parties feel safe speaking their piece, feel like they have been heard, and hopefully understood.

Of course, 2015 was not all bad, we vacationed in Texas as a family, Dave got to take a solo east coast vacation, Mason and I got to go on a New York adventure where you all know he won Chopped Junior, Mason did 23 live cooking demos in 2015, all three of us got to appear in an episode of Carnival Eats (out in May 2016), and before the year was out, we had our offer accepted on a house we will be moving into in January of the new year. See, I can't focus only on the bad, there was too much good to ignore.

I wish you all love, joy, and happiness in the coming year, but when strife arrives, work through it, try to be kind, and take responsibility when making amends. We are all imperfect beings, feeling safe and understood are two of the greatest gifts we can offer each other, don't you think? Welcome 2016!