Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2012! This is the last Monday of the year, and to say 2012 was a year of growth and change would be a gross understatement. Our family saw some huge changes, challenges, and difficulty but along the way, we had some great fresh food, made some new friends, had lots of laughs, and ultimately got the message that it is not the things we have that make us happy, it is the time we spend together. Yes, we went through the short sale of the house and a painstaking IRS audit, but I want to talk about the bright spots that in my opinion, outshine the difficulties.
I thoroughly enjoyed all my classes at school and am grateful every day that I have this opportunity to be able to get an education. Dave took a vacation to Virginia for a historic civil war reenactment while Mason and I took a "Surprise Vacation" to Minnesota. Leading up to the surprise vacation, Mason did several things to earn some money including painting a gorgeous rock that I photographed for him and he was able to make nearly $130 from the sale of images, note cards, the rock itself, and three more rocks he was commissioned to paint!

Speaking of Mason, he continues to amaze me with his zest for life, the way he is fearless in his pursuit of life-experience, and his viewpoint that he can do anything. Many people have commented that it is unusual for parents to facilitate opportunities for their children like Dave and I do for Mason. I don't know that I agree we are so different. Certainly, I am (we are) very plugged in to Mason's life but he is an only child, I am not a mom who has to work at a j-o-b full time, and finally, as an older mom, I think I understand and appreciate that sharing this life with him is my only shot. As a younger woman, I don't believe I would be the mom I am at this point in my life - I really love watching him live a life with unlimited possibilities. Working with Dave to help Mason realize his dreams, it reminds us to keep our dreams on the life-radar, too. We are planning to move to the east coast in the summer of 2015 when Dave gets his degree. We can't plan for where there will be an opening in the National Park Service so we don't even know where we will go, but I assure you, we will go and there will be a job for him in the vicinity of where he wants to ultimately is my intention and so it will be. My dreams include public speaking and public relations, how that will manifest later this year, I don't know, but like a winding country road, I can't see what is around the corner yet I continue to hold steady on the accelerator. I have one more semester of school to earn my AA and from there I will work on my BA more slowly, but absolutely surely.

All in all, time will continue passing whether we are taking action or not, the next twelve months will pass like the last twelve months did. It feels wonderful to know that individually and collectively as a family, we are growing and making strides to improve our overall condition - fitness, weight loss, lots of locally grown, seasonal food, I got to get back in front of the camera doing a few local commercials and even better, I got to share that passion with Mason! There is certainly more that happened in 2012, but these are the highlights for sure.

Here we are on the brink of 2013 and there are already exciting things happening. Mason has almost a half a dozen cooking demos on his schedule, a television appearance coming up this Friday, and a newspaper interview that should be out any day. I have a job possibility that has me excited, and Dave is keeping his eye on the prize of getting his degree so he can start living his dream life as a park ranger - yeah, he doesn't love on line classes, but he loves that we are really moving toward making his dream a reality.

As I wish you all a happy new year, let me leave you with this lovely Christmas quote that I feel expresses our Christmas perfectly, "The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree, the pesence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." Burton Willis

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Annual Christmas Wish

This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forgive an enemy.  Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Think first of someone else. Be kind and gentle. Laugh a little every day. Laugh a little more.  Express your gratitude. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hi Friends,

Last week was hectic and I failed to share with you the magical night we had in the Festival of Lights Parade. It was suppose to be the previous weekend but the crazy storm that came through postponed it to the following Saturday. In any case, we worked with the team at Sierra Brokers and entered a float with the theme, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" supporting our troops. It was a 6 X 12 foot trailer that we divided in two; the front 6 feet were a living room with a Christmas tree in the center and the back 6 feet were set with army trunks and duffel bags. The idea was that Dave was home with Mason and I for Christmas while his comrades were still deployed eating cookies from a care package and reading letters from home. I have never worked on a parade float before and I have to say, we did an amazing job! The float really communicated what we wanted to say and people stood up and cheered along the parade route. If you don't usually visit my blog, this would be a good time to pop in and see the photos, it really was a special night.

So here we are, a week before Christmas and I am as ready as I am going to be. I have all my cookies decorated and packaged, my cakes and pies baked, and I mailed packages today. I need to wrap gifts and deliver some more local goodie baskets, all in all, I'm in good shape. Today is my birthday and I was showered with wonderful birthday wishes via phone calls, e-mail, cards in the mail, and Facebook. The local newspaper was out yesterday to interview Mason about the cooking demos he's been doing and at the same time, a local news station called and wants to book a cooking segment with him as well. They say things happen in threes, so it is no surprise that I got an e-mail asking Mason to do a cooking demo at the Strawberry Festival coming this spring in Roseville. He seems to really be digging all this cooking & baking, especially the developing of recipes to demonstrate - the performing part is what is exciting to him. Today we shot a few of his ideas about kids planning for holiday parties, making snacks and in true Mason form, he included a kid cocktail. Shooting videos with him today and now watching the classic White Christmas with Dave is the perfect way to spend my birthday.

Next week is Christmas Eve and time to look ahead to the New Year. It is becoming clear to me that there is lots of exciting opportunities on my horizon, but they are not necessarily the things I thought might be coming - but alas, isn't that the way it goes? Indeed, indeed it is. With love to you and yours this Christmastime.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Rebel

It's two weeks before Christmas and everyone is busier than ever. Today has been a little overwhelming for me, I really don't like all the focus of the holiday season being about buying stuff/gifts... specifically, "I want this, and this, and this, and that." I find very little joy in buying items off a list. First of all, there is no surprise factor and secondly, it's not a gift I chose for you. The flip side of this struggle for me is, sure, these are the things you want, but here we are, "things you want - things I want," where is the "gift" in that? I think of a gift as something I really thought about choosing for you, our relationship, how it will make you feel today and for years to come...maybe it's just me, but I don't find any Christmas joy in buying stuff from a list that would mean just as much as if you had purchased it yourself on some idle Tuesday.

So what am I to do with this? I can rebel and do what I want to do which is give gifts I've baked and canned, and write a heartfelt note to those who make my life so rich in love and friendship. Is that really so rebellious? For some, yes and for others, they will see my gifts as a moment of holiday fun when they comment that my cookies "might" be too pretty to eat, or send me a handwritten thank you note sharing that my apple butter is the best they've ever had (Yes, John Howard Swain, your note will forever hang on my office bulletin board!). My sweet husband, though he gave me a list, is in the kitchen as I write this post making chocolate truffles (thank you Teresa Tjaden!) for his friends and I guess it must be true, from the heart and of ones hands must be the best gifts, at Christmastime and all year long.

As we wind down 2012 and look forward to a new year, I am resolving to have more, meaningful experiences and nurture the relationships I cherish.
Merry Christmas,
Kathy "The Christmas Rebel

Monday, December 3, 2012

To Believe or Not To Believe?

In the beginning....that is a pointing finger, not picking!
The sun is shining today! We were hit with a crazy-windy-wet storm over the weekend, nothing compared to what our east coast neighbors weather, but big by California standards. Most all of the fall color is gone and it is beginning to feel more like Christmas. The cookie factory is open and the living room has been prepped for the tree. When do you put your Christmas tree up? Growing up, my mom put our tree up on my birthday, a week before Christmas and we took it down on New Years day. I married a man who would put the tree up on Thanksgiving day and leave it up through January if I would agree. Talk about a tale of two worlds!


This year we are watching Mason struggle with the idea of Santa and is he real? He is 9 years old incredibly smart, but he is also all about the magic and "anything is possible." We put the Advent calendar out and on the first day he asked me, "Mom, tell me the ultimate truth, the total real truth, did you put the treat in the box?" I honestly said I did not put the treat in the box. Mason nodded and said okay, but he wasn't convinced. He asked me again and I sat with him to talk about this with no distraction. I confirmed that it is not elves that put goodies in the calendar boxes, it is actually dad. He nodded. I treaded lightly when I said, "Mason, you are a smart kid. Do you really think it is possible for one man to fly all around the world in a magic sleigh, with reindeer that fly, in a single night?" Without missing a beat he replied, "Oh yeah! I totally believe in Santa! Oh yes I do. It might be dad putting candy in a calendar box, but Santa is real!" Ugh. I back-pedaled and said, "Great! You better be good if you want to stay on the Nice list." Dave come home later and Mason informed him that he knows he is the "elf" that leaves the daily treats. Having not been informed of the events of the day, Dave was aghast! Mason filled him in on the details and basically threw me under the bus for trying to tell him Santa wasn't real. Laughing! How the heck did that happen? Dave teamed with Mason and off to bed we all went. Fast forward to last night, while we were rearranging the living room to make room for the Christmas tree, Mason announced that he knows Dave is Santa. What?! Where did that come from? Dave was pretty heartbroken, but hid is pain as he changed the subject. Mason and I were in the kitchen and I asked him why the change of heart to which he replied, "Mom, I know. I just really like Santa." My heart melted at his honest admission of his struggle to want to believe so badly. I shared with him that Santa is real, Santa lives in me, his dad, and him. Every time you give a gift, do a kind deed, and help the magic live a little bit longer in the eyes of a little boy or girl, that is how Santa is real. I got a smile and a hug and I made sure to pass those on to my husband, who is still feeling the sadness of a childhood milestone finally come.

From believing in Santa to lots of cooking, Mason is having a ball baking and creating a YouTube channel of tutorials for kids. He is calling it "Kids Can Cook!" and it includes things like how to properly measure flour, how to know when to sift it, "Do You Know What These Are?", how to make icing and decorating videos are coming this week. Here's the link to his YouTube channel, please click and view his videos - comments are welcome and share! Click here.


Who knows how long this will hold his interest, but I am sure having fun on this journey with him. Not to mention, he is learning some incredible skills in the kitchen. I made him a photo book of his cooking journey for Christmas, I'll post the link on my blog if you want to take a peek. (MyPublisher is having a web issue, I will post as soon as it is available)
I am practicing the piano today as I have my final exam recital on Thursday. I am not sure I am going to nail it, but I will show up and try. I also have pies to make and cookies to decorate. Just another busy day, but a busy day in an amazing life! Happy Holidays!