Monday, July 31, 2017

The OC Fair and SweepsCon17

Last week was pretty epic. Mason and I took a road trip to Southern California where he was scheduled to cook at the OC Fair and we were both booked to speak at the SweepsCon17, a convention for people who Sweep (enter lots of sweepstakes). The drive was long, both ways, but it was so much fun. 

Mason rocked three cooking challenges at the fair, cooking against a MasterChef Junior contestant Sean Le making the best burger, a 4H Master Food Preserver Isbella Vegh making garden omelettes, and Mason teamed up with Liam Waldman finalist from Food Network Star Kids and French Pastry Chef Stephane’ Treand to make the best macaroni and cheese. Talk about a jam packed day! We made time to go with the kids to ride some rides and play some carnival games but then it was time to head back to the room to get some sleep. 

On Friday, Mason and I got to the convention and had a blast sharing our stories. Mine were all about the crazy ways I’ve won so many prizes on the radio through the years, and Mason shared his tips for winning in the culinary arena. Mason has won recipe contests, cooking competitions, and of course, competitions on television. People are always so blown away when they hear Mason speak in front of large crowds. It seems the number one fear for most people is public speaking, and it’s clear that Mason does not suffer from that fear.

On Saturday, Mason and I took the day to just have fun and headed to Venice Beach. It was lovely! It was just about 80 degrees and the water was really warm. Mason had a blast riding in the waves and I just took in some sunshine and the smell of the salt air and the sea. Being at the beach, an ocean beach is just what I needed to rejuvenate my soul. In fact, the long drive home on Sunday was filled with so many ideas for things I want to create and some of the projects Mason and I have been working on for him. And speaking of Sunday, we had to get home because Food Network moved up the air time of Mason’s Guy’s Grocery Games. It aired on Sunday and it was really fun to watch Mason compete. All of those kids are incredible and it’s just such a cool life that they are getting to live. It tickles me pink for Mason to have these experiences at such a young age. Some day he will look back and realize how lucky he really is. All of this speaks to my post last week about getting in the game. If you don’t play, you can’t win, and sometimes winning is simply that you are playing.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Say Yes, Play!!

I won Disneyland Tickets
I’m fine tuning my speech for SweepsCon17 where Mason and I will be speaking later this week. I’m not going to share all of it here, but while preparing this talk, I realized something about the way I live my life. Here’s a little snippet of my speech, see if you can see where I’m going with this. 

Everybody here is a winner so I’m sure you've all been asked, “How do you do it? How is it you're so lucky? You win all the time." You've also all heard, "Oh, I never win. I don't win the lottery, I never win raffles, I don't win anything." You've all heard that right? Well I know I have, and my very first response is "Do you play?" It makes me chuckle, how can you expect to win if you don't play? I won my first contest when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was listening to our local radio station and the DJ said be caller number nine, and I grabbed the phone and I called, and I was caller number nine and I won a cassette tape. Yes, it was that long ago. But what happened that day set in motion a lifetime of winning for me. An opportunity to win was presented and I took it, I played. What was most important about that win was that it was effortless. I heard the announcement and made the instant decision to win the prize. It just takes one win to see that you can win, you do win. From that day forward I was a winner.

But back to the question, “Do you play?” I know you all play when it comes to a sweepstakes or contests, but do you play in life? We all say yes to that entry, or mail this many cards in, or set reminders to enter once each day online…but isn’t life more fun when you play? I say yes! In fact, I say yes a lot. I say yes when invited to a party where I don’t know anyone other than who has invited me, I said yes when asked if I wanted to fill in for someone who got sick and couldn’t go to Vietnam for 2 weeks, and I said yes when my son asked me if he could raise $25,000 to improve his school kitchen when he was just 9 years old. 

To live a full, happy life, I believe you have to participate. Saying yes, accepting invitations, calling the radio station to try to win the prize, jumping off the rock into the lake, agreeing to go on a blind date, renting the bikes to ride, and any number of a gazillion other things that might enrich your life, if even just a little bit. The truth be told, being willing to play will enrich your life by leaps and bounds. Go ahead, say yes and play!

Monday, July 17, 2017

What If Every One Could See The Real You?

I will never understand mean people. How it makes one feel good to belittle and degrade others is just out of my scope of reality. I certainly am not perfect, and I have made a snide remark or comment, but not in a long time. I have become acutely aware of my word choices and the effects they have. I remind Mason and Dave often that no matter what, even with an apology, they cannot unsay something. 
I also wonder about life and how would people be perceived if the way the really are and act could be transparently seen by others. What I mean is, if you are mean and nasty at home and with people who serve you, would your clients buy from you at work if they knew that? Interesting to think about.
I want a life surrounded by people who lift each other up, celebrate all successes, and have kind words when we fail. What an amazing world it would be if everyone felt this way, and what a great gift we would give our kids if we could minimally all just do this at home with each other.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Poker at the Partak's

Dave got a super cool poke table for his birthday and we have been having fun once a month with poker games at our house. This girl just won with 4 aces!! Heather and Tracy took the game splitting 1 & 2, and Lo and Campbell took home 3 & 4. Mason played his first full game and went out 6th, he did great. Super fun night with friends!

If any of you recall, in 2004 when Dave deployed to Iraq and Mason was just a baby, when I couldn't sleep, I would watch the World Poker Tour on TV late at night. I learned to play poker and really enjoyed playing. I would sometimes play online in free games and Mason would watch me and ask, "Good plop mom, was that a good plop?" I would smile and say, "It's the flop Mason, not a plop, and yes, it was good." When Dave came home, we started playing with a group of friends and that was when Dave really started plugging in and enjoying the game. I love that we all enjoy this and can host a monthly game for our friends. It's pretty cool that Mason is interested and enjoying playing with us as well.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy July 3rd...

Tomorrow is July 4th and it will be something special, or specialer for Mason and I. Mason has been cooking at the Napa County Fair for the last 4 years on July 4th. We get up early after staying up late doing lots of prep, we drive to Napa, Mason cooks, and then we drive home. We typically leave by 8:30 and get home around 4:00. We are not going to Napa this year, instead we are still getting up early to go our on our boat! 

We made plans with Jen and Dan to meet early and spend 2-3 hours on the water, and get the boat out of the water before the masses are trying to launch their boats. We will come home and have the afternoon to do whatever, lounge, cook, clean, watch television, whatever! We have several options for nighttime fun, but I think we will go to Theresa's place for dinner and then meet Jen and Dan at the courthouse to watch fireworks. I'm excited to not be spending the whole day driving, but I am sad to not be in Napa. The people who run the fair there are just so nice, and they were bummed Mason wasn't going to be there this year. They said they will be sure to invite him back next year, so we'll see. 

In other super cool news, Finally! I get to share that Mason will be competing on Food Network again. A special episode of Guys Grocery Games is scheduled to air on Sunday, Aug 13th. It was SO fun watching him compete and I can't wait for it to air. I hope you all can tune in or at least DVR it. There is one more opportunity that Mason has in his possible pipeline as a kid cook, can you believe he is aging out? Yep! At 13, that's the top age for most of the kid competitions. There was an episode of Chopped Junior Champions, but he wasn't chosen for the 4 episode special. So what's next? There will still be more cooking demos, but Mason is getting excited about his plans to start an Entrepreneurship Club at his middle school. He and I have been working on the curriculum and trying to work out how best to roll it out and maybe make it available to other middle schools. More about that later. 

Happy July 4th! I hope you have lots of fun planned.