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!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mason Won Chopped Junior!


Mason won Chopped Junior last Tuesday night on Food Network!
As you may know Mason, he's the kid who raised $26,052 to put a culinary sciences lab in his elementary school in Auburn and along that journey got the school district to update the school kitchen and hire a lunch lady who cooks hot, real food lunches. They also put in a school garden as part of his efforts.
He's also the kid who does live cooking demos at fairs, festivals, home shows, private events, and on television. Now add to his CV, at only 12 years old, Chopped Junior Champion!
He won $10,000 (more than half went into a trust for later) that he spent on a few special toys, some new clothes, and he started his own business, Mason Made Products, it's a line of marinades and sauces.
I can't wait to see what 2016 will bring for this bright young man, but I'll be sure to share his journey with you. You can also follow along on Facebook at Mason Made.
I took copious notes and lots of personal photos and video that I want to do a whole post or series of a couple of posts about our trip to NYC and the Chopped Junior experience. I usually just write from my perspective, but this time I plan to include Mason and his perspective as well. I'm excited to share some of the behind the scenes things about the show and some of the footage that didn't get aired.
I will say, when your kid wins $10,000 before Christmas, it sort of takes the magic out of the shopping experience for mom and dad. Most of the toys that Mason wanted that would have been great "Christmas morning surprises," he bought for himself. Oh well, I suppose there are far worse problems we could have, right? Mason was frustrated that I made him put $6,000 in his trust, but in reality, he will thank me later. Us Partaks know how to make fun and I'm pretty sure Dave and I will find a way to make Christmas magical, for me, it will have nothing to do with material gifts.
Merry Christmas friends, we wish you love and laughter today and every day.
Here is the link to Mason's recent ABC10 appearance yesterday morning http://www.abc10.com/media/cinematic/video/77664542/chopped-junior-champion-visits-abc10/

Monday, December 14, 2015

'Tis the Season to be Busy

Yes, we are all so, so busy with preparations for Christmas and for me, work is crazy. I have four transactions in different states of progress so there is little time for anything else. I'm done shopping but I need to wrap gifts and finish decorating the few cookies I baked.

In other news, Mason's Chopped Junior episode airs tomorrow night on Food Network. It's on at 8 PM east coast time so check your listings so you can watch or set your DVR to record it for when you can watch.

I will leave you with what I call Kathy's Curls of Wisdom "Wouldn't the world be a better place if instead of just making love, we put more effort into making love last? With family, friends, lovers, coworkers - make love last!"

Monday, December 7, 2015

Festival of Lights Parade

Happy Monday!

Last week was a bumpy ride for sure. As you all know, Dave and I are house shopping and really trying to find that perfect place we can be excited about buying and living in. We are feeling pressured because we need to move out of this house. You can't buy a house under pressure. We may end up having to move twice (rent for a while longer until we find our next, real Home Sweet Home), although neither of us wants to do that and in fact, I'm not even sure we could find a short term rental. 

We found a house that was great, nearly new, all new amenities, a gorgeous kitchen, on almost an acre, but the location is darn near on Hwy 49. We thought, we can fence it, we can do this, we can do that, and we wrote an offer. They accepted it but we weren't excited. I didn't sleep all that night, I was worried, what if Spencer gets out and finds his way on to Hwy 49? Mason can't come and go as he gets older, who let's their kid ride a bike on a Hwy? Dave got up to go to drill the next morning and as soon as I knew he was awake, I told him I was worried. He paused and said, "We're on the same page. I have been awake all night feeling a sense of foreboding about this house. What if Spencer gets out and runs onto the Hwy?" Boy, those intuitions can sure come on strong when one is trying to sleep. I emailed the other agent and told him we can't buy this house. Back to the drawing board.

Saturday night was Auburn's annual Festival of Lights parade and I have to say, it may have been the best one I've ever seen. We were invited to a party at a friend's home who lives right on the parade route, it was awesome, good food, lots of people and front row seats. 

Sunday was work, work, work! I showed houses to some of my clients who recently accepted an offer on their house. It's a tricky dance to sell and buy, and this one is a little more so as their adult daughter is helping them in preparation for what may be down the pike with her having to help them as they age and eventually likely sell the property. As tough as it can be to have so many cooks in the kitchen, I applaud them for thinking ahead and taking action to try to make things easier later. As you all know, Dave and his sister are dealing with his moms declining health and it's harder than hard. They feel like they don't know what to do, or who to call for answers. It seems as if every one who might have answers has an agenda or an interest in how or who they refer us to. It's awful to feel so helpless and know that you absolutely have to take action at the same time, what is the right thing to do? And for Dave, each time he's set forth a plan that would seem to be the right road, something happens and the plan gets nixed...back to square one, what is the right thing to do? I'm not in their shoes but I can only imagine that I would trust that I was making the best decision possible with the information I had and do my best to keep my faith that it will all work out along with my sense of humor. 

This is the last week of school and I'm ready to be done. You all know I love being a student, but the last few weeks with my work schedule being so busy, have been a real challenge. It's by no means what Dave is facing, but it's stressful nonetheless. I hope your holidays are shaping up nicely and you are feeling the magic of the season and not the stressors of other life events. Happy Holidays!