Monday, October 29, 2012

"The Date"

Happy Halloween!
I love, love, love this time of year. Pumpkins that make me feel like they are the gateway to the holidays; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the New Year celebration. Our family has seen some big changes this year and it feels so good to be in a new home making new dreams come true.

Dave and I celebrated our 11th anniversary a little bit early this year enjoying a lovely New England Prix-Fixe dinner at a local restaurant. We talked about a dinner we had in 2001in Mariposa. We had just started dating and spent a fun day tootling the little shops, buying unique gifts (some snowflake Christmas ornaments that we still have), and just being in love with each other. We went to Charles Street Dinner House for dinner an we talked about the day we just spent together, making plans for the coming weeks and months, and it became very clear during dinner that we were planning our lives together, not just dating, but married life. I can't say for sure what we looked like to the other diners in the restaurant, but here's what makes this story so significant; everyone in the restaurant came and went while we sat engrossed in our new love and the restaurant literally closed around us. As we looked at our check and mentally came back to the real world, all the staff working that night were sitting together at a table looking our way. We immediately hurried and apologized for keeping them and we were told with smiles that they didn't want to disturb us and they all chose to stay and wait as seeing two people so in love was magical. We giggled about it as we left holding hands, but 11 years later, it's amazing that a handful of people didn't rush us out so they could go home and let us live in that magic for who knows how long. We decided last week that this would forever be referred to as "the date" because it really was a prelude to the happiness we still feel together. Our anniversary isn't until November 9, but the fact of the matter is, we celebrate our marriage and family most every day.

Mason went to a Halloween Sweet Treats cooking class this weekend and made caramel for apples, and popcorn balls, well, the recipe is popcorn balls, but Mason made popcorn animals! He is also working on his recipes for the Mandarin Festival. He has one and is still deciding on a second one. His criteria is that it has to be something a kids would like, have mandarins in it, and have several skills he can show. My criteria is that is has to be relatively simple because as the sous chef, I have to do ALL the prep work, keep him working smoothly, have samples prepared and ready, and clean up. Ultimately, I love that he is so interested in cooking and baking, it's fun for all of us. For those of you who want to come see him do his cooking demo on 11/17, let me know and I will give you tickets.

Do you have a story that is epic for you like "the date" is for us? I would love to hear it. What an amazing gift those people gave us that night...all these years later, it still brings us so much joy. Enjoy all the little ghouls and goblins on Wednesday and Happy Monday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tornado Watch!

"It's raining it's pouring, the old man is snoring..." Yes, we are singing the praises of our first winter storm and is it ever a doozie! There are even talks of tornadoes later today. I am reveling in the luxury of being able to stay in, still in my pajamas doing homework. I felt guilty for just a moment that Dave had to go to work and Mason to school, but that silliness passed as I sipped my English breakfast tea and leisurely started my homework. I figured, it won't be long and my school days will be gone when I, too will have to go to work in cold, wet weather.
With that, I'm going to wish you a day when you can stay in and do what tickles your fancy on a dark, dreary day.

PS 10/23 - there were tornadoes! An F1 in Marysville, Elk Grove, and Lake of the Pines! WOW!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Busy Bees We Are!

Happy Monday!

Is there ever a week in the Partak household that is uneventful? Not usually! This week was no exception. Mason is winding down his first season of football and has it ever been fun. To be perfectly honest, I was not thrilled about daily practices and games every Saturday, but it might be safe to say I enjoyed watching him play football more than anybody. The first few games were comical, the kids were physically being picked up and put into position by coaches and referees, much like life-size chess pieces. Here we are just 8 weeks later and these young men are calling plays, motivating each other, and really playing football! The last game is this Saturday and it is also Mason's birthday. It will be a treat that the last game is a night game as all of the other games have been first thing in the morning. This works out famously for us to have Mason's birthday party Saturday morning. Yep, another jam packed weekend is coming up.

Last weekend, right after the football game, Mason and I drove to Lockeford to meet the newest Garcia, Jacob. Greg, Heather, and Josh welcomed Jacob in early September. He is a doll and our time with friends was wonderful. Dave was in San Diego Friday and Saturday and had training all day Sunday - his weekend pretty much sucked.

We're still getting settled in the new house but it's coming along...well, coming along. I like the smaller house but I don't like trying to make the puzzle pieces fit as to what will go where. Just when I think I have a system, a new something comes into play from a stack of boxes in the garage. UGH! It's maddening.Ultimately, I'm finding that I'm more inclined to just get rid of stuff than get creative to try to find a home for it.

Mason has been cooking up a storm. Yesterday he made Firehouse Chili from scratch - blanched the tomatoes, chopped the peppers, and braised the beef for slow cooking. It really turned out great, but who knew one little tiny jalapeno (no seeds) would create so much heat? Whooo-Wheee! We also created a video for an upcoming contest with Buitoni pasta, he's quite the little showman. For those of you who missed it, Mason has been invited to do another cooking demo, this time at the Mandarin Festival in November (17th). If you have any interest in coming to spend a fun, fall day in Auburn, I am happy to get you tickets. I'm not telling what he is making, but I can tell you he is developing the recipes himself. Enough of me bragging on my kid (though I am pretty proud), I hope you are having as lovely a fall as we are, a nice mix of warm and cool and our colors are just starting to show. Have a great week and I'll have plenty to share next week as we say farewell to football and my baby will officially be a 9 year old!

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's Important to You?

Happy Columbus Day! It may not have been a holiday for you, but us Partaks had the day off. We took the opportunity to head up to Apple Hill thinking it's Monday, there will be no crowds. We'll have the place to ourselves. Absolutely wrong! Apparently everyone else who had the day off had the same idea. It really wasn't so bad, lots of people but a gorgeous fall day. As we hopped from farm to farm, we landed at Jack Russell Brewery where we ran in to one of Dave's good friends who he served with in Iraq. Through a number of life twists and turns, they lost touch and each time we talked about how we might reconnect I would always say, "We're going to run into him when you least expect it." Yep, that is exactly what happened today!

Listening to the two of them reminisce made me think about how important it is to share things with each other. There are little funny things and certainly more significant memories that could possibly change the course of our kids lives. Even as I write the words I wonder if I am being a bit dramatic but in fact, I don't think so. I asked Dave what three things does he want Mason to know - either about how he feels about him or life experiences he had as a kid. This is not a question that is easy to answer, but Dave came up with, "When you find what you love to do, do it! No matter what, don't put your dreams on hold." Hopefully, he will think about this some more and write a few things down. My Monday Motivators serve as an amazing journal for Mason, add to that the photo journey of homemade scrapbooks and Mason will have a darn good history of his family.

When I think about what I want him to know, I think about the little things like the fact that Sara Evans song "Could Not Ask For More" still makes me cry every time I hear it. While Dave was deployed, I fed Mason in his room in the black rocking chair and this song played every morning at 2:13 AM on his radio. My tears fell on his little head as I loved him and missed his dad. I felt for the first time, and I guess the only time in my life what true longing was. Feeling what it was like to miss his dad so much that it physically hurt while oddly, at the same time feeling completely blessed to be his mommy. So I'm feeling a little emotional today, not in a bad way but in the kind of way that makes me want to tell the people in my life how much they mean to me. I am spending a little extra time hugging, holding on for just that moment longer and really looking people in the eyes when we smile to say hello or good-bye.

Think about this a little bit and tell me what you want your loved ones or kids to know about you...maybe you and them, or how you feel about them. I would love to know what is important in your eyes. Sincerely, with love. Kathy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October!

Welcome to the last quarter of the year 2012. It's Monday and it's a new month. This last weekend was more crazy-busy fun. Mason and I did a cooking demo at the Auburn Home Show for the First Annual Fall TomatoFest. Let me be more specific, Mason did the cooking demo, while I assisted him. This kid never ceases to amaze me, who knew he wanted to teach people how to cook?

Several months ago, I saw a post on Facebook about the launch of the TomatoFest at the home show. I reached out to the organizer and asked about a recipe contest and the reply I got was, "No recipe contest, but how about you do a cooking demo for us?" Cool! I shared the news with Mason and he lit up, "I want to do that!" I said, okay, you can help me and he said, "No, I want to do it." That is how it started. The organizer agreed and off we went. Mason practiced his Funky Spaghetti recipe and created one called, "Eeets a Funny Leeetle Peeeza!" Basically, a croissant with sun dried tomato and basil string cheese rolled up with some pizza sauce. I helped out with a peach-tomato salad while his peeezas were baking. Some of his friends were there with their families and his principal came, too! When it was all said and done, the organizer handed him an envelope and said, "Mason, you did an amazing job. This is for you, not your mom, you." Mason opened it to find an invite to do a cooking demo at the upcoming Mandarin Festival in November! Pretty cool, huh?

Now while Mason is working on mandarin recipes, Dave and I are doing homework, working on unpacking, and yes, getting ready for the holidays. Our new neighborhood is lovely and our neighbors have been really friendly. All in all, things are working out just fine and we are looking forward to lots of good things to come.