Monday, August 29, 2011

Lazy River Saturday in Monte Rio, CA

Happy Monday! It's a beautiful day to start a new week. School is back in and that makes weekends feel special. Do you know what I mean? When the kids are out of school, all the days run together even though work doesn't give us the summer off, the weekends don't "pop" like they do when school is in session.

Saturday we got up early and headed to Monte Rio, CA to play on the Russian River for Diana's birthday. Steve and Ro rented a few kayaks and canoes for all of us to play with and as you can imagine, the pot luck lunch was great! Fresh salsa, caprice salad, deli sandwiches and plenty of fresh summer fruit. Dave and I had Mason and my nieces two kids with us and those extra smiles (well, mostly!) made for a fun family dynamic. We left the river about 3 PM and tootled through Calistoga stopping to buy a treat in the Snack Car, a candy store in a passenger train car. From there, we made our way around Lake Berryessa and had dinner in Winters. It was fun sharing the stories of my childhood camping at Markley's Cove, riding my bike with friends to the lake (yes we did!), and how much we loved to stop at the dam and look over at the spillway. We got home much later than we planned but it was a really fun family day.

Sunday we all did our own thing. I met my friend Deb at the river to color rocks and Dave stayed home to watch the race he taped from the day before. Mason and Dante split their time between driving Dave crazy and then coming to the river to bug me! Not really, just boys being boys. Dave made a delicious chili for dinner and that got me thinking how I can feel fall approaching. The smells are shifting from sweet summer scents to savory fall fragrances. The days are getting shorter and the nights are surely cooler. I can feel my energy start to vibrate in a way it only does this time of year. I love, love, love the fall season! This feeling I get as the summer season ends and fall begins makes me wonder if there is some kind of scientific connection to who we are as beings and the time of year that resonates most with us. Do you know?

So now it's back to school and work, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping and more. I hope you are well and enjoying your weekends, too. I want to leave you with a quote my friend Joel posted on facebook. Having all the kids this weekend and seeing how different they are, it's easy to focus in on what bugs us or what we feel they can improve on. This quote comes to me at the perfect time as a reminded to find their magic and foster it, nurture it, and help them grow it. Have a great week genius friends!

"Everybody is a genius. And if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
~Albert Einstein

Monday, August 22, 2011

Part II - Locked Out!

Last week I shared with you the story of Mason "walking away from home." That same day after delivering Mason to the Boys & Girls Club (where he would have been had we not had plans to go to LegoLand), Dave and I decided to take a drive up to Lake Tahoe and have lunch. The plan was to just spend the day together and drive home via highway 89 to 88 and back home on highway 49. We had a lovely time on our way to Lake Tahoe, we had a hamburger for lunch and then got back on the road for the scenic trip home knowing we had to be back to pick Mason up by 6 PM.

Other than some road work that had us sitting and waiting a few times, the drive was uneventful until we reached the summit and Caples Lake near Kirkwood. As we were getting out to go walk around the lake, I asked Dave to lock the car. He said, "Nah, we won't be here that long." I noted that I wanted to leave my purse in the car so as I got out of the car and Dave was already out, I hit the lock button and closed the door. The look of horror on Dave's face said it all! Not only was Dave not worried about my purse, but he left the keys in the car as well. He was thinking that we were going to walk 30 feet to the waters edge, and there was nearly nobody at the lake, so no big deal. NOT! I had my camera and thankfully Dave had his phone on his hip. I suggested he call USAA and he said it would take way too long and we immediately realized that the sunroof was popped up. We tried everything we could think of, we found sticks that we thought might be long and strong enough to hit the button to unlock the doors. Nope. The buttons require we pull them down, not push them up and with the access through the small space of the sunroof, we had no leverage the angle was all wrong, too.

Not long into our crisis, another couple pulled in dealing with a situation of their own. They had a tire that was nearly flat and they had hooked up a mini compressor to inflate it. I was sure if we had a wire hanger, we could get in the car. My thought was the flexibility and strength of a hanger may be able to pull the release on the lock or possibly hook the handle to actually open the door from the inside. The young man inflating his tire offered to call AAA for us and also offered to drive Dave to a local boat rental shop (that was ready to close - they knew because they had just stopped there themselves) to see if they had a hanger - they did! Dave finally called USAA and the estimated time of arrival for a tow truck was over 2 hours. This hanger was our only hope.

Dave tried to slide the hanger in under the window, he attempted to go in through the sunroof but nothing was working and that's when I had an idea. I climbed up on top of the car and on my belly I attempted to reach with the hanger into the car and hook my purse that was on the passenger side floor. Dave said, "No way. The hanger is not strong nor long enough." He was right about it not being long enough so I told him I needed a string. I asked him to take the neck strap off my camera and hand it to me. He handed me the camera strap and asked, "Who do you think you are, McGyver?" I tied the strap to the hanger, wedged my hands in under the sunroof as far as they would go and went fishing. Dave guided me noting that not only might this work, but all the other teams had left and we were now in last place, to which I replied, "Let's just hope this is not an elimination round."* as I hooked my purse and slowly lifted it up, up, up and it dropped! I hooked my purse again and this time I got it all the way up to my hands where I could grab the handles and get inside. Dave was nervously chanting, "Don't drop it, don't drop it." My hands were falling asleep and I couldn't find my keys in the bag. I pulled it through the small space as much as I could and in the end, I ripped that purse to shreds but finally grabbed the car keys and we got in the car. The couple who helped us out stayed and shared a picnic saying they just had to see if my plans were going to work.

I was able to call and arrange for Heather to pick up Mason and by the time our adventure was all said and done, we had stuck together, kept our cool and most importantly, kept our sense of humor. The reference to other teams and an elimination round was referring to the reality television program The Amazing Race. Based on the events of this day starting with Mason walking away from home, I would say Dave and I have what it takes to win the million dollars. We finally arrived home sometime near midnight and the bruises on my forearms have finally faded. To say it was a day to remember would be a understatement and ladies, it has not gone unnoticed that when I suggested we call USAA it didn't happen but when the young man offered to call AAA, Dave noted that calling road service might be a good idea. So typical! :)

Locked Out Photos

So once we locked the keys in the car, we figured we might as well take a picture while we're stuck here. It's very pretty!

Phone calls were iffy, but we did manage to get Mason cared for as it was becoming very clear we would not be home by 6 PM to pick him up. And Dave did later call roadside service with USAA.

If you look through the back window, you can see the stick Dave was using to try to pop the lock. Though it was long enough, it just wasn't strong enough.

Yep, that's Lady McGyver with her wire hanger, camera strap, and willingness to shred her purse to bits to get at the car keys. Isn't it ironic that I locked the keys in the car to keep my purse safe and ended up destroying it to get back in the car?

Success at last!

Our lakeside friends.

We stopped in Volcano to wash up (I was covered in dirt!) and eat.


It was an adventure and though we could have been bickering, blaming and fighting, we kept our sense of humor about the whole nine yards!

Monday, August 15, 2011


What a wild ride it's been! We were supposed to be in LegoLand last weekend but my not-so-sweet son could not seem to get his behavior on track so we didn't go. As I'm sure you can imagine, when you cancel a trip to LegoLand, there are some repercussions. From my perspective, I would have liked to see some remorse and a correction of said bad behavior. Nope! Instead what I got was a note from Mason stating he thinks I don't love him so he is walking away from home. Keep in mind, I got this note on my pillow at bedtime and he had just crawled into his bed as well. I went to his room and asked him why he was waiting until tomorrow to "walk" away from home - most kids "run" away from home. He replied, "What's the hurry? And mom, if you have any last words for me, see me in the morning."

The next morning, Mason followed through on his plan to walk away from home, but he didn't walk, he took his scooter. He packed three bags and his pillow and as he set out, I asked him to please pick up the dog poop first. He looked at me and asked, "How can you be thinking about a thing like dog poop when I am leaving you?" I told him I was sad to see him go, but the dog poop needs to be picked up. He put his bags down and picked up the poop. Dave followed him outside to see him repacking his bags, clearly three bags was just too much stuff for one little boy to walk away from home with. Dave started taking pictures and when Mason realized this, he turned to him and said, "What do you think this is, a happy occasion?"

Dave followed Mason down our street and into downtown when Mason stopped at a bench in front of the theatre. He took his pillow out and took a rest. Dave all the while is behind him snapping pictures of his journey. Mason spotted Dave and got mad, put his pillow back and got back on his scooter headed for Old Town. Dave followed and finally when Mason settled in at the park next to Tsuda's, Dave told him enough and to get in the car. Mason did as he was told and informed Dave that though he wasn't ready to come home, he was glad he didn't have to ride his scooter up the hill.

I have the photos from this journey, but they are on my laptop which is being serviced for a virus. When I get it back, I will post a few of them. Mason is still sure I don't love him, after all, I didn't let him pack all the food in the pantry, "Mom! I can't believe you want me to starve!" No Mason, I do love you. I am teaching you that you have to take care of business before you leave (picking up the poop), and once on your own, you have to buy your own chow. There hasn't been any more talk of walking away from home but lots about how unloved and deprived he is. Let's all hear it for Mason, "Ohhhh! Poor boy!'

Next Partak Adventure - Dave and Kathy locked out of the Subaru at 8000 ft! Caples lake is gorgeous, but not when you are stuck there!

Walking Away From Home Photos

Mason heading out after picking up the dog poop.

"What do you think this is, a happy occasion?" He asked Dave while repacking his three bags to one.

Down the hill (our street) he goes - he calls this "Walking Away."

On his way into downtown. Tango was closed so he kept on moving.

He stopped to take a rest (pillow and all) in front of the Theatre.

He spotted Dave taking his pictures so he got back on the road.

Mason landed at the park next to Tsuda's Market

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gifts to the River

Happy Monday! In light of the current events, our economy, and our current credit rating as a country, it's safe to say we've seen better days. If we want to look at a brighter side, the weather this summer has been heavenly! I know, that's a big jump from a serious subject to the weather, but it also speaks to how far we have to go to choose to see the bright side.

School starts next week for Mason and the following week for me. Dave got back to school last week and in true Hero form, he's been working hard all summer long! As for fun, well we've had our fair share of good times this summer. Most of which have been low to no cost, like spending time at the river. We live just a mile and a half from the confluence so to pack a little lunch and our sunscreen is super simple. Mason and I have been spending lots of time building dams, skipping rocks and something unique - giving gifts to the river. We take colored Sharpies and decorate river rocks with messages like "Peace," "Love," and one of my favorites that Mason made, "Summer Rocks" which provides a double meaning. When you place them back in the water, the colors light up, they are just beautiful! We leave them there when we leave and it's a wonderful feeling to hear the squeals of joy when a group comes in behind us to swim where we've just been. I don't know if people take them or toss them in the deeper parts of the river, but when we've returned the next day, they are gone.

Though summer is winding down, we have many days of sunshine and gorgeous weather left. I was just telling a friend that we have been swimming in the river the Sunday after Thanksgiving! It won't be long and the days will be short and the nights will start cooling off, so make the most of what you have today! Happy Monday!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finding Balance and Gratitude

There really is something to letting go of the things you find yourself attached to. Be it the outcome of a big business deal or someone you love who doesn't love you back, letting go seems to be the only answer. I suppose to clarify that statement just a little further, letting go may not be the only answer, but it is the only answer that will allow your blood pressure to stabilize and your perspective to focus in on all that is good and going well. Continuing to invest all of your energy in the one thing that is not going as you want it to simply keeps you running on empty.

I can't quit pursuing the things I believe in and love to do, but I can find other ways, Orange Roads as I call them, to get where I want to go. When I let go of what's not to be, other ideas are free to surface and I can see them. Let me repeat that, "And I can see them." Yes, it's tough to not get that job, not make that sale, have that someone you want in your life, not want to be there, but there are other jobs, sales to make, and people who do want to share your life with you. Yes there are!

I'm looking for the good today. With a happy glimpse back over the weekend in Alameda, we had such a good time. Home away from home at the Anderson's sea side slice of heaven is always a great place to recharge our batteries. Al took some family photos of us on the beach and do they ever look great! Greg, Heather, Diana, and Mike added to the great company during dinner on the deck. Although I think Lisa would argue that the time in the kitchen preparing the feast was equally enjoyable! It's not very often we get to see my sweet husband in his element like he was Saturday night. What fun! Today I have Mason still sleeping after a really fun weekend, much softer feet (especially my heels, the summer sun and sandals wreak havoc!) after a few days of treating them with a wonderful balm, fresh summer fruit for breakfast, a lunch date with my friend Debbie, and so much more.

With all of this to be enjoying and grateful for, I almost forget the stuff that still has me a little down. Not all the way though, knowing what didn't work is paramount to where I go now and what action I take next. Knowing what didn't work and why doesn't have to consume me in the present, in fact. I don't want any one thing to consume me - I want to be diversified in my daily life thus hopefully finding a nice balance in self, family, love, work, and friendship.