Monday, April 28, 2008

Post Rodeo Review

Happy Monday Friends!

Thank goodness the anticipation is the best part of any affair. Have I mentioned that Mason has wanted to ride bulls since before he turned two years old? Of course, this is one of those things we assumed would pass and when it seemed it wasn't passing, we told him he had to ride a sheep before he could ride a bull. The riding of the sheep is an event at many local rodeos for little kids called Mutton Bustin'. The little cowboys and cowgirls dress in their best western wear and compete for a "Best Dressed" award before they get in the chute to ride those sheep. Every Rodeo we've been to in the last two years had Mason in the stands crying in a fit that he couldn't ride the sheep because he wasn't four years old yet.

This weekend was the Auburn Wild West Stampede and Mason, being four years old, is qualified and registered to participate in the Mutton Bustin' contest. Over the last few months we've been practicing on his stuffed bull, watching rodeo on television, and we even watched clips on YouTube. Instead of his Wranglers and boots, Mason opted to wear a rodeo clown outfit. Saturday morning, our cheering crew arrived from Orangevale, Alameda, Clements, Clayton, Martinez, and Auburn. Signs in hand, we were off for this momentous occasion two-years in the making. Mason was gung-ho all the way up until the moment he was in the chute with that adorable little sheep. Only thing was, Mason didn't think this was such a good idea after all. With Dave in Mississippi on the cell phone, our clown with the smile painted on, wasn't smiling a bit! So, in the end, Mason didn't ride the sheep, but he did win the "crowd applause" to take the award for best dressed. Ultimately, I couldn't live with myself if I'd pushed Mason or belittled him for not riding a sheep. When he told me he was sure he didn't want to ride, I told him I thought he looked great as a clown, and I loved him with all my heart. He gave me a hug and then learned he won a prize (a pair of Justin boots and a pair of Wrangler jeans). Talk about Partak luck!

We watched some rodeo before heading home for our own rodeo barbecue in the backyard. It was a wonderful evening and wrapped up around the fire with wonderful drinks, s'mores, and great friends visiting and laughing. If it takes a sweet little boy wanting to ride a sheep to bring us all together for a weekend as wonderful as this one was, than I'll take it!

Today, I have the "Cowboy Code" by Gene Autry along with some pictures if you scroll down. Enjoy and have a great week!

* The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man or take unfair advantage.
* He must never go back on his word or a trust confided in him.
* He must always tell the truth.
* He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.
* He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
* He must help people in distress.
* He must be a good worker.
* He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.
* He must respect women, parents and his nation's laws.
* The cowboy is a patriot.

Rodeo Clown Pictures

All smiles, ready to go ride that sheep!

The practice ride was great. Technique, form, and still smiling,

Mason's cheering section. Mary, Keith, Cris, Lisa, David, Kelly, Taylor, Kane, Diana, Julie, Ken, Dahlynn, Stephanie, Vin, and Hayley.

I playfully thought of putting Velcro inside the seat of Mason's pants so he would stay on the sheep. In the end, it looks like I used magnets on the insides of his sleeves!

"C'mon little guy, just sit on him and see what you think." the cowboy in the chute was saying. "I know I don't want to ride a sheep!" Mason cried.

Talking to dad but holding his ground, "I just don't want to ride a sheep. I just want to watch bulls from my seat."

Mason getting his award for "Best Dressed" from our outgoing Miss Auburn Stampede.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More from Vietnam

Happy Chilly Monday!

I don't know about where you are, but it's nipply here in the foothills! I went to boot camp this morning and even working up a sweat, I'm still cold in my bones.

One of the things I brought back with me from Vietnam is the confirmation that being happy is a choice. After leaving Saigon, we traveled north to Hue, Danung and Hoi An. This was my favorite part of the trip. In Hue, on the Perfume river there are boat cities. The boats that congregate are not much more that what we would call a canoe. Just a stones throw from one of the floating cities, are two bridges. One of the bridges is illuminated with multiple colors, all at the same time, rotating position all the way across the river. Beautiful just doesn't do it justice. So here we are admiring the bridge from the balcony of our hotel room, and the people on the boats, barely lit, are as pleased with the show as we are. Being happy and seeing the joy in life is a choice.

This became even more apparent in the smaller town of Hoi An. This part of the trip was more of what I expected Vietnam to be. The town was very much a village, very small, but jam packed with everything you could ever need. Except a hair brush! (Laughing!) Yes, Teresa forgot her hair brush and we looked everywhere and couldn't find one for sale. We even tried to buy one from several hair salons. All they had were the ones they use on their customers and they wanted $5.00 for one that looked like it must have been 10 years old! Finally, in Hanoi, we found one at a flea market (sounds kind of risky,huh?). The young lady pulls it out of the bottom of a box and says to Dahlynn and I, "You will like." She goes on to show us that it's a hair brush on one side, and on the other she shows us that the surface is rubbery and nubbed. She puts it to her head and says "Good." We look a little closer and see it's a vibrator! We burst out in yet another case of the giggles and bought it for Teresa.

I digress, the simplicity of life in the smaller towns made me acutely aware that these people realize they don't have all the creature comforts we do, yet they're happy. They were friendly, lots of smiles, and so eager to please us. I took a bag of my laundry to a little shop. The lady hurried out to me and took my bag. She held it up, weighing it, and told me "Oh, you like my work, seven dollar, you come back tomorrow." I said "Seven? That's too much." With a big smile, she went on, "No-no, 's good price. You travel, need nice clothes. Come back tomorrow, you no like, you no pay." "Okay, do I need a ticket or something so you know what is mine?" I asked. She handed me her business card and smiled. I asked her again a little worried I may not get my clothes back, and she said, "No worry, no worry, you come back tomorrow." A lot worried, I left. I went back the next day and there she was, happy, happy, happy to see me. She ran in the back room and came out with my bag. My clothes were clean, not a wrinkle to be found, folded, and they smelled more wonderful than any load of laundry I've ever done. I asked her what she used to clean them and she simply answered "soap." Laughing! I happily paid her seven dollars and went back to the hotel. Again, proud, happy people. Happy to wash my clothes. Happy to see me happy. Are we really so different? No, but I think we are pretty spoiled. We work hard, but we expect things to be done for us to make us happy, instead of looking to our own good deeds and simply choosing to see the good in every situation and circumstance. Even if the good is the ability to grieve and have that experience.

So there you go, find the good. There is so much to be grateful for in every single aspect of our lives. As my favorite artist Mary Engelbreight so eloquently says, "Bloom where you're planted." Have a great week!

Pictures from Hue and Hoi An

These are some of the larger, nicer boats in the boat city.

This wonderful monk was the epitome of joy! He never stopped smiling and showing his love for every person he encountered.

We didn't get to interact with too many of the older Vietnamese people so this opportunity to visit with this woman living on her boat was exceptional. Dahlynn commented that the rooster must be her alarm clock!

This is the perfect example of the purity of these children. So happy!

The skill of many of the people we met was incredible. These fishermen were so happy to show us how they make their living. I tend to think in their case, they make more money from tourists paying to see them throw net than they do actually fishing!

Yep, they caught fish! The eyes on the boats are to watch out for evil spirits. The eyes apparently help the God of River and the God of Fish!

Sunset and the end of the workday for people fishing on the river. This couple is moving a load of bamboo walking alongside their boat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Autonomy in Marriage

Hi "Ah-Choo" Friends,

Seesh! I don't know about you, but I am having an awful time with allergies this year. The news is reporting that tree pollens are worse than they have been in years. I have to believe it, not only because I am suffering, but also because Dave was suffering, too. Dave has never had allergies before. He's in Arkansas now, and as soon as he was out of northern California, he was clear. How are you? Do you suffer from seasonal allergies?

As you all know, Dave is gone and Mason and I are finding our rhythm without him. I know as soon as I get my systems in place, he'll be home and we'll have to adjust again. I will say this though, I think spending time apart is one of the secrets to being happily married. Dave and I are very independent individuals and marrying a little later in life, we respect each others autonomy. Doing things on our own or with our friends keeps our marriage interesting. We have stories to share with each other along with being able to laugh about the times we we spend together. We certainly spend more time together as a family, but life's little side trips on our own keeps things balanced. What do you think? Do you think it was odd that I went to Vietnam without Dave, or that he is traveling for two weeks this summer without me?

So off I go to a very busy week. I have a long list of things to do for the house, another one for me personally, and yet another one for our invention (which by the way, I think I can tell you all about next Monday!). Have a great week and get back to me on the autonomy in marriage (or relationship, you don't have to be married). Lots of love!


"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in all the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual."
John Steinbeck

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy April!

Hi Friends,

There's so much going on, I just don't know where to start! The weather is gorgeous and my list of spring cleaning is getting longer by the moment. I cleaned the house yesterday and noticed all the things I want to do. I want new window coverings on the living room windows, I want a new kitchen, I want the guest bathroom completely updated, I need to update most of the pictures in frames throughout the house, and on, and on, and on the list goes. In reality, just cleaning the house made me feel good. The other stuff will come, for now, the stuff we have is clean.

I love pink trees! It's one of my favorite thing's about spring. What's your favorite part of spring?

Dave leaves this week for Arkansas for five weeks. He's going for training for work, so Mason and I will find a rhythm while he's gone. I'm planning to get some of my personal projects done while he's gone. It's funny to me that I feel like I can do certain things while he's gone when in fact, I can just as easily do them when he's home. It's all how I think about it, I guess.

So off we go to another work week. Make it great, get lots done and if you're not working, have a blast in this warm spring sunshine!

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." Anne Bradstreet