Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

May the past be left behind, unless the memories are happy. May the future be bright, but not so shiny you forget to enjoy the present. Every moment we have with the ones we love is the real gift in this lifetime. I love these people so very deeply, I hope you get to be with your people tonight, too.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mason's Christmas of Love, 2018

Having a 15 year old is a challenge, especially during the holidays. Mason is completely normal and I am not complaining, its just that it's sometimes more difficult than others to turn the other cheek when they can't see outside of themselves. Mason has been all about what he wants, what he will be buying for himself, and so on. I asked him last week what he was thinking about for his dad. No answer. I asked again, to which he replied, "I'm giving him llooovvvveee! I'm giving you and dad love for Christmas." I love that! I told Mason that I appreciated that very much, my heart was warm thinking about a Christmas of love.
Mason woke up this morning to a half dozen packages of love. I printed some of my favorite quotes and laminated them after writing, "Mason's Christmas of Love, 2018" on them and I will punch a hole and thread a ribbon through them to be future ornaments for his Christmas trees. The first package he opened was this one, our holiday Christmas card with a note on the back . Then the rest followed. When Dave and I started exchanging gifts, I pointed out that Dave and I did not agree to the "love" for gifts, in fact, we get our joy from thinking of the other and how much they might like this gift or that. I explained that it would be awkward for us to bombard him with gifts if he wasn't finding the same joy in giving that we were, so we were respecting his wishes. The joy is in giving far more than getting.
By the time he got to love gift number 5, he was really getting it, and I could see the reality starting to hit him..."I'm getting nothing for Christmas..." he thought. Dave and I left the room and came back with all his wrapped gifts in a big Santa sack, he said he wasn't sure how to feel, he was glad he had real gifts to open but acknowledged he had been a real "Dingle."
I have to give him kudos, he kept his cool, he maintained a good attitude and ultimately, I think he got the message. He told me a few hours later that this was an awesome Christmas and how much he really loves his dad and I and the life we live. Mason is a good kid, he's completely normal and he's smart, funny, and quick. I think he got it. Merry Christmas friends,

Monday, December 17, 2018

Look Who's 52!

Today is my 52nd birthday! Yep, it's the one I've been waiting for all of my adult life. Why this one? I don't know. LOL! Because 52 is my number, it's the number I get when I'm in line at the DMV, when I have to check my coat at a formal event, or when I am waiting to have a sandwich made at my local deli, #52. Two years ago I set out to make an epic plan to go someplace tropical for my 52nd birthday, I figured two years was enough time to plan and save and get a group of people together for a few days of fun in the sun in December. I don't know what I was thinking! There is no way my Christmas Loving husband can be away from home for a week at Christmastime. I looked at the plans and saw that the plans weren't panning out so we made plans to spend a few days in Las Vegas with David and Lisa Anderson and I was good with that, in fact, I was excited about that plan. You see, Dave and I got engaged on December 14, 2001, way back when and to be in Las Vegas for that anniversary, with David and Lisa would have been great. Well, again, that wasn't meant to be. On Thanksgiving day I injured my right knee and just couldn't manage all the standing and walking so I cancelled Vegas and we stayed home. Dave planned a birthday party and gave me the BEST gift, he framed his favorite pictures of us, minus one he couldn't find (I'll find it and we'll put it in the middle).

It all worked out, Mason ended up having an audition that gave us some great time together. I always take advantage of the opportunities to be in the car with him for any significant amount of time, and the time to and back from San Francisco is just that. The auditions take no time at all, but we always spend a little time visiting a thrift store (something I like to do) and finding a good restaurant (something he likes to do). This time, because it was December we went to Pier 39 to see the holiday decorations and Mason had some fun with the camera on his new phone. He took a photo of me and posted this on his Instagram account -

"I love my mom so much, and I really don't say it enough, but mom I love you. I know the last couple of months have been a little bit of a struggle with High School, Jobs, and just life getting in the way. But this is my favorite picture of you, because you in this picture you are simply happy and in the moment, and that's how you live your life and that's how I wanna live my life. Mom I love you and there's no doubt about it, even when you're mad at me, or I'm mad at you you will always be my #1supporter and the love of my life because you out of everyone will always be there for me.💕"

What can I say, having Mason write something like this to me on his social media was the best birthday gift ever. He didn't write it as a birthday gift but It touched my heart that way. So here we go, I'm 52 and it's all good. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nostalgic December

Uh Oh! It didn’t look that big in the wild. Do you know a good roofer? Yes, Dave has our Christmas tree coming out fo the roof of our house. It's just one more fun idea he had and I love seeing him make his ideas real.

December is always nostalgic. When Dave was #deployed to Iraq in 2004 I made ornaments that were just photos. I sent him a little artificial Christmas tree and made him the same ornaments. That was the only Christmas we’ve ever spent apart. These are some of those ornaments. 

I'm supposed to be in Las Vegas this week celebrating my 52nd birthday with Lisa Anderson. The gift was being with her, not so much being in Vegas. Instead, I'm prepping for knee surgery after hurting my knee on Thanksgiving day. Yes, this is a bit of a pity party, but dang it, my 52nd was the birthday I was most looking forward to celebrating... Okay, enough of that. I will practice gratitude and a giving spirit today. I'm going to find ways to give of myself and anything I have not only today but every day. Happy Monday friends.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018

Life Has It's Struggles

As I'm struggling lately with the emotions I still sometimes feel about past betrayals, my feed today is filled with messages that remind me about the people who love me, of the amazing life I get to live, and how it doesn't matter how others have treated and hurt me, it's how I have not responded in a like way.

Though I am likely far more sensitive than people realize (they only see the tough, calls-it-like-she-sees-it, doesn't give a damn Kathy), I do feel confident that I do my best to be kind first, help without being asked, and ethical to the honest best of my ability.

When Mason is struggling with high school drama, I remind him that it doesn't end with middle school, or high school, or college, or the workplace, or, or, or... The fact of the matter is that there always will be people in this world that not only find joy in hurting others but thrive on chaos and pain. It's sad but true. I advise him to do his best to eliminate these kinds of people from his life and when he can't, he's best off to not engage in the drama. Be forthright, honest & practice the golden rule and things should work out just fine. Who was I talking to?

If you are waking up in a bed with a roof over your head and your own clothes to wear, you are already blessed beyond measure. So my melancholy mood was rectified with lots of love from my friends and a big pot of homemade chicken veggie soup. Being in the south over the last week was just pure joy, lots of smiles, kind "hellos," and people are in the holiday spirit. Lots of street decorations already up and lit, cool, crisp days with stores not only playing Christmas music but so many of them have homemade hot chocolate and cider to sip while you shop, it's such a far cry from smoky California. My soup has my house smelling delicious and next up is cookies! Having Diana here for Saturday Thanksgiving was the icing on the Turkey Cinnamon rolls! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mandarin Festival Madness

Mandarin Festival 2015
Through the years, you all know how much the Partak family loves the Mandarin Festival. My first festival was with Mason in 2003 who was just one month old. Dave was training to deploy to Iraq so he was in Fort Lewis, WA. Through the years, because of the relationships we've made with the people at the festival, Mason and I were able to do live cooking demos, I got to run the cooking stage for a number of years while the woman who had done it had to be home with her family, and of course, we have all had so much fun participating in and sometimes winning the recipe contest. I can't be sure off the top of my head, but Dave, Mason and I have all won 3rd, 2nd, and 1st places in all categories, Mason, Dave, and I have all won the Snow's Citrus Court Award, and Dave has won the Best in Show Grand Prize as well. The last two years between running the cooking stage and life getting so busy with Mason becoming a teenager, I've been less plugged in to the time it takes to develop and create winning recipes. So much of my process to develop a recipe happens in my head. I process ingredients, techniques, and how it may look on the plate over and over before I ever try to make it. I've been doing this for the Mountain Mandarin Festival recipe contest since 2009, that's 10 years! Granted, I did not participate one of the two years I ran the cooking stage, but Dave and Mason did. With all of that said, I think we have a cookbook worth of mandarin recipes!
Mandarin Brown Sugar Ham w/Ham Sauce

Here we are in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the festival and the 10th year the Partak's have been participating in the recipe contest and I’m still in shock. This year the recipe that I developed in my head was a brown sugar mandarin ham with “ham sauce." Have you ever heard of "ham sauce"? Me neither. Sunday morning when I got up to get  things together for my ham, I decided at the last minute to make a mandarin upside down cake. I had thought about it, and I was enamored with how pretty I thought it would be. I had time and thought what the heck. I entered the ham and the cake and I won second place and $50 in the main dish category with my ham, but I won Best in Show and the Grand Prize with my cake! I seriously could not believe it. My take-away from winning the big prize is that I need to recognize that I do better when I don't over think things and when I don't try so hard. Seriously, I thought it was pretty and just whipped it up looking forward to how pretty it would be. I'm just over the moon, I have so much to be thankful for and I can't wait to be with all of our friends for Thanksgiving. 

Grand Prize Mandarin Upside Down Cake

Monday, November 12, 2018

Vacation in the Smoky Mountains and Nashville, TN

Gorgeous fall colors and 100-mile views. The weather is spectacular and of course, my people are my whole ❤️ He’s been making me laugh for more than 20 years. It’s our anniversary month and I couldn’t love him more, except tomorrow, I’ll love him more tomorrow, and the next day, I’ll love him even more then.
We have been having such a wonderful time. Only in the south can you sit and watch an outdoor show in individual rocking chairs, play hillbilly golf on the side of a hill with an elevator kart that takes you up to play, oh, and a hole with a Plinko board! Of course, you can’t leave out if I had a nickel for every time I heard “Y’all” and “Bless your heart.”

Waking up in the arms of crazy fall colors and light rain is just like our wedding day 17 years ago in Nevada City. Happy Anniversary Flower Dave, I love writing our story and can’t wait to see what’s next. As a little girl a love like we have was truly only in fairytales, thank you for showing me a new, incredible reality. Nashville, here we come!
Nashville was a hoot! We needed more time, but we ate wonderful food, went to Music Row, and spent several hours at Opryland Hotel that was all decked out for Christmas. It’s tough catching a crazy early morning flight home. It sucks waking up in the middle of the night, but we will be home early with the time change and still have some daytime left. Another epic vacation in the books.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Happy Anniversary Month!

Happy Anniversary Month David Partak! I still marvel at the idea that of all the fun things and experiences I've won on the radio through the years, the most meaningful would be you (Circa 1996)? As we approach 17 years married, we are going to spend our anniversary in Tennesee while last night, you had so much fun hosting Trick-or-Treaters here at home in Auburn. We were both so exhausted come bedtime that I think I was asleep before you, which in and of itself is unusual. We plan busy days, juggle schedules, and laugh a lot, that's what we do, we laugh about silly stuff, like "Free Jesus" pizza, and how middle age has our middles expanding! After a night of laughing, the next morning we will often still be giggling through sleepy eyes - yes, we really do wake up laughing sometimes. The bumps in the road are so few, they are not even worth talking about. Our love and marriage has been easy as far as the marriage gauges go, wouldn't you agree? Way more laughter than tears and even some of those tears have come with belly laughs and a little pee, too! I am grateful every day for you, our marriage, our family, our life, and I'm the first one to say, "I won the lottery when I won this guys heart." November 9th. 

We arrived in Charlotte to have issues with my debit card, the rental car reservation and had to taxi to the hotel, where we had to pseudo hike from the street due to road construction. It’s frustrating, yes, but we are in a luxury hotel, safe and together. Tomorrow everything will work itself out. And tomorrow we will also get an hour back, so there’s that bright side, too. Sweet dreams... 💤
It appears Team Partak is back in the game. We got our rental car, went shopping for more Carolina Panthers swag than any one fan needs (WalMart baby!), and it seems we have worked out the debit card issue.

With that said, I have to share what a great feeling it's been to watch Mason move through the activities of this trip like a full blown adult. I sent him to check bags while I sat with mine and Dave's while Dave parked the car. He navigated the kiosk, got the tags on the bags, took them up to the counter and laughed with the agent, thanked the man and shook his hand before coming back to sit with our carry-ons while I went and checked my bags. He's growing up and he is so very able. It made me smile and so proud to see him taking care of himself and being good to the people he was interacting with. If you have young kids, let them do as much for themselves as they want to do. Don't worry if it takes longer or they make a mess doing it, it's okay. They will realize they need to plan their time and if they make a mess, they get a bonus life-lesson about how to clean it up. It pays off and I am sure it will give me a little added peace of mind as he heads out on his own more and more. 

Sunday we wrapped up the week at the Carolina Panthers game where they hosted the Tampa Bay Bucs. It was epic! I arranged for Dave to participate in the Salute To Service program getting to carry the flag on the field to open the game. As if that weren’t cool enough, Mason was on the Bucs side and not only got a pair of Mike Evan’s gloves, he got an official practice ball! Our trip is going great and we have barely started. å

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mason's First Movie Premiere!

I am so excited to share with you all that we went to a special screening of APParition last night at the IMAX theater. This is Mason's first film and screening. I'm not a fan of horror films, but whatever, I couldn't wait!!  Seeing Mason on the big screen surrounded by so many amazingly talented, creative people was indescribable. A defining moment in both of our lives for completely different reasons for sure. Thank you to Sally Forcier and Mark S. Allen for giving Mason the opportunity of his life, sincerely. The only thing that put a damper on the evening was that Dave got pretty violently ill just before we were supposed to leave the house and physically couldn’t come. 

I'm sure it was also intentional that the screening is just days before Halloween, that makes complete sense. Other than decorations for the house, we don't have much else going on. We are leaving for vacation on the 2nd of November and are looking so forward to visiting North Carolina and Tennessee. For now, we will revel in the premiere of Mason's first movie and get ready for lots of little ghosts and ghouls coming to trick or treat!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Happy 15th Birthday Mason

15 years ago Mason Bonham Partak came into this world, immediately placed in his daddy's arms, he smiled. Well, I don't know if he smiled, I was knocked out and filleted like a fish, but I will tell my tale as if he did. 🙂
This kid has been strong-willed from day one, smart, funny, kind, and a pain in our asses from the time he realized he could be. He is courageous, he takes chances, he seems fearless (well, except for that time he insisted on riding the sheep, but then got in the chute and cried to not have to ride the sheep!), and he has already made a huge impact on this world in more ways than one.
Mason, I am not loving your teenage years - you test me, but you still make me proud. You make me cry, you make me laugh, and you practice some serious dumbassery. I do my best to not kill you. But no matter what you face in the coming years, I will always love you. I am so thankful that you are my son, you are the best of your dad and I and you are a rock star! Set this world on fire kid, you have work to do and it will all be noteworthy, I just know it. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Good Bye Ty

You know, I'm sitting here crying thinking about Ty Rowe and his family and our town and how polarized this world is right now. The fact of the matter is that we as people and a community are allowing the politicians and media to divide us. Why? We don't hate, we don't judge before we help, we are not the political agendas of those who live their lives for personal gain. Our family has been treated badly by a select few in this town and it's so sad to me that people feel the need to be mean simply for the sake of being mean. Ty, I can hear you telling me today like you've told me so many times before, "Fuck 'em, Kathy. You and Dave are amazing people with a family and life that most would kill for. Keep being awesome you and fuck 'em." People, choose your words carefully, they are powerful, they touch people deeply, be kind.

Ty passed away after a short illness and I am simply devastated. He mentored Mason in the world of food and he was a true friend to Dave and I like few other people. Rest in peace Ty, you will be missed more than most. You touched lives deeply, mine for sure. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Reality of Mid-Life As a Woman

We all have those moments in life when we are hit with the reality of something, in fact, most of us have several of those moments in our lives that can be very profound, maybe even life-changing. For me, they have been coming like rapid fire. Several of my dear friends have been very ill or passed away and it's made me see my own mortality coming sooner than I'd like to admit.

I've mentioned menopause here several times in the recent past and indeed it has been a major life event. Outside of the things you hear about like hot flashes, weight gain, and moodiness, there are a number of things that nobody tells you or really talks about. Maybe because the connection is not made or the women experiencing it are too embarrassed or frightened to tell anyone. Let me share a few of the "little known" menopause symptoms, some I've *personally experienced and learned that a number of women in my secret group on FB have experienced as well.
  • *High blood pressure
  • *Panic attacks
  • *Anxiety
  • Vertigo
  • *Debilitating joint pain
  • Hair loss (all body hair)
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Sexual aversion (more than lack of interest)
  • All kinds of skin rashes
  • *Depression
  • Emotionally numb
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • *Periods (erratic) that stop, start, go for 20 days, stop for 2 days, go for 9 days, etc.
  • *Body odor (horrible body odor)
  • *Bad breath
  • *Rage/Grief
  • The sense of pending doom
  • *The sense of imminent death - this one for me came in my dreams almost every night for more than a year.
  • Age Spots
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Dental pain/teeth breaking
Most women start menopause (peri-menopause) in their late 40s, early 50s, menopause is typically in her 50s and runs on average for 10-15 years. Sit with that for a minute, 10-15 years!!! It started for me at early 48 and at almost 5 years in, it's not as bad as it was, the hormones have alleviated the hot flashes, anxiety/panic attacks, rage/grief, and I am taking a low dose of blood pressure medication. I don't love that, but I'm not sure what to do with that for now. The body odor, bad breath, and my periods are just a matter of diligent management. I've not had dreams of imminent death since we moved into this new house in January of 2016 but once or twice, so that's been an improvement. 

With all of that said, why isn't more of this information mainstream? This is not just my experience, this is thousands of women around the world! Our medical community is not serving women once we are outside of our childbearing years, and it is simply not acceptable. We need to speak up and step up to be heard. We also need to speak up and step up for other women. I am doing that here, I want women who have not reached this age yet to know when (and if) their time comes, what is happening, and to know, not only is it normal, it will be okay. Estrogen, progestogen, and testosterone are decreasing and our bodies are adjusting. It will be different for each of us so just know, as the time comes, tune in and expect the unexpected, ask questions, don't be afraid to talk to the women in your life, and insist your doctor test your blood for these hormone levels. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quotes That Resonate

"If you have lost confidence in your ability to win, make a list, not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you. Your inner power will reassert itself and lift you from defeat to victory." Norman Vincent Peale
I posted this a year ago on my social media feed and it could not be truer today. I had lost confidence not only in my ability to win but in my ability to show up. I revisited this and practiced what I believe, not what I was feeling. Menopause has been the hardest thing I have gone through in my life, but through some trial and error with my amazing doctor, we have found a good combination of hormones and I am feeling so much more like myself, except for the weight gain, that's nothing like me, it's awful! LOL! I'm not sure what to do about that, I mean, I know you will advise me to eat "right" and exercise but I'm doing that and I'm not only not losing any weight, I'm gaining more. It's humbling to be in this situation and to hear my doctor tell me I am completely healthy, not to worry about it.
"You just keep getting fatter, don't worry about it."
I don't want to talk about that, I will stay the course, keep eating right, going to the gym and see where this goes, but if my weight gets to 200 lbs, I'm going back to the doctor and letting her know it's not okay and I am worried about it. Come on inner power, I'm counting on you!

Monday, September 24, 2018

I'm Scared.

Why? Why am I scared? What am I scared of? Is scared the right word? It feels more like terrified. There are so many things I want to do and I have things I want to say, things I feel are relevant but when I stand up to say them I become paralyzed. I am overcome with insecurity and I think, why does anyone care what I have to say? and I immediately sit back down. That last sentence was a metaphor because all of this happens in my head, I don't even really stand up. Who is this person? I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this because the reactions when I broach the subject range from, "What?! You?!" to, "Whatever! Not you, you are the most confident person I know." How do I continue to talk to people who can't even comprehend that the most outgoing, confident person they know is currently terrified of her own voice right now? In fact, I think that's it, it is so uncomfortable for the people close to me to see me weak and broken that they don't know what to do. How can they know what to do, I don't know what to do.

Flowers on the first day of fall is a family tradition.
I will say this, there is one person who is showing up, asking me to share, wanting to know how I feel and allowing me to feel whatever it is I may be feeling and that is my sweet Flower Dave. Dave has been buying me flowers on the first day of fall for as many years as I can remember, it's my favorite time of year. This year he did not buy me a bouquet of flowers, he bought me a bouquet of flowers for every room in our house! I'm not kidding! Look at this photo. Is this a gesture that says, "I see you, Kathy, I see you and I love you. Flowers make you happy and I want you to be happy." See that Coke bottle? That is for scale to give you an idea of how flipp'n big that middle bouquet is! It's huge, or as I call, "Soap Opera" sized. LOL! If you watch soaps, you know what I am talking about, the flowers in the entryways of the homes (sets), are crazy big, like no normal person has flower arrangements that big in their homes, well, at least not people I know.

It's interesting, through the years Dave has said he thinks of me as his best friend but I have not always thought of him as my best friend. Before you get up in arms, yes he is my husband and I love him with all that I am. I think as young girls we have best friends and if we are lucky we stay friends into adulthood, you all know how lucky I am, I have both of my childhood best friends Julie and Lauren. As I've matured I've come to believe that it is silly to think that we have a single best friend, we have people in our lives that fill different needs and some at different times, some through all the times. I don't share everything with Dave because he already thinks I talk too much and he's not interested in everything that goes on in my life and relationships with the women in my life. If it comes up, I'll share, I have nothing to hide, I just don't share all of it. I had a realization the other day that even though Dave does not like to hear my long-winded stories, and we do not always agree, he really is my best friend. He is the one person who sees me when I am not at my best, he doesn't tell me I'm all that but he tells me I'm something super special when he sees it. He gets that I can handle a tough conversation but I don't ever want to hurt someone with my words. In fact, he sees that I am far more sensitive than many people will ever know. I'm part of a group of women who are going through menopause and it is amazing how many of those women's spouses/partners are leaving them. WOW! It's shocking to me that as soon as this craziness is setting in, marriages are ending. Dave has never made me feel like our marriage may be on the rocks while I'm going through this difficult time...and let me say, this has been the most difficult time of my life - hands down, the most difficult!

I feel like I've gone off rambling here but welcome to my new world. I hope I don't have to live here for long, but the point of my post was to say it out loud, I'm feeling insecure, my body is HUGE!! It's bigger than it's ever been not pregnant, my clothes don't fit, clothes that do fit look awful and feel awful, my body hurts, it smells bad (yes, I said smells bad, why?), I am eating well and very little and my weight continues to creep up...up, eating less and my weight is going up. I have been reading crazy amounts about menopause and weight gain, specifically the belly fat. I understand it but I don't like it. I am staying the course, I am continuing to eat good healthy food, trying to stay motivated to go to the gym, drinking lots of water, and just praying that my body will adjust to the lower levels of estrogen and let go of the excess fat that it seems to feel it needs right now. Back to my feelings of fear, I need to get back to doing sit-ups, or at least crunches. I say crunches because I don't think I can do a full sit up, my belly is so big right now (it measures a full 40+ inches around) it may be akin to doing a sit up while 38 weeks pregnant. I am going to record myself doing the crunches from day one. I don't know if I will post it initially, but I will have the documentation for when I see some real progress. I want to face this feeling of fear and overcome it, I want to do the things I want to do and not allow menopause to steal me from me... I don't like this me and I don't think my people like this me either.

PS If this post makes no sense, it's okay, it's where I am right now. I'm hopeful it will all come together and I can be back to being me again soon. I hope.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mason's First High School Homecoming

Mason has his first high school homecoming. He went with a group of friends and had a really good time. I love seeing him grow into a young man and having these life experiences. He and his best friend Dylan are really good boys, I hope they continue on the path of honesty and don't find themselves questioning what's right. 
Dave, Jen and I went to see Clay Walker Sunday night in Folsom. It was so much fun! Thank you Clay Walker for yet another great show. The memories from yesteryear are priceless and the new ones we made last night are invaluable. ❤️
Finally, there are SO many reasons CA is not where we will live out our lives, but today, hearing that I cannot buy my favorite holiday baking spice because cinnamon is now on the Prop 65 list (oregano is new to the list, too), well, this state is batshit crazy. Yeah, this is not breaking news, I know, but WTF, how is it I am still alive according to the "we have to save the world one dragee' and teaspoon of cinnamon at a time" legislators?
Warn me, put the label on all the things that will contaminate our water, make us infertile, and help to kill us faster, but don't put the small businesses making the products have to fight you in court to be able to sell to us. I don't have every detail of how that works, but it's safe to say my info sources are those little businesses who are being hurt, and not just in CA.
Here's just one simple explanation of this ridiculousness - Comparison of the Prop 65 Standards vs National Standards
Let’s use lead as an example. Lead is a naturally occurring element that is found in the environment, including soil. According to the EPA, natural levels of lead in soil can range between 50 parts per million (ppm) and 400 ppm. Human-spread lead contamination widens this range, of course, with reports of over 10,000 ppm in certain types of areas, such as industrial facilities. [Source 2] International standards for lead in dietary supplements and food are often set at no more than 5 ppm. The Prop 65 Safe Harbor Maximum Allowable Dose Level for lead is 0.5 micrograms per day, meaning that a person may not be exposed to lead above this amount, by any product, without a Prop 65 warning. Setting aside the difficulties of translating this exposure level to a concentration level in a specific product, applying this standard to herbs and supplements means that lead content levels would need to be many times lower than federal levels in order for a product to be sold without a Prop 65 warning. Above the Safe Harbor Levels, a Prop 65 warning must be given to avoid lawsuits and potential liability.
When grown in soil with a relatively “low” lead content (500 ppm), spinach and radishes can have lead levels that exceed 3 ppm, while beets and carrots can exceed 6 ppm. [Source 3] Also, herbs may contain over 90% water by weight, so lead levels in dried herbs can be up to 10 times higher than their fresh counterparts. In addition, it is difficult to get root crops entirely free of the soil they are grown in. Under these circumstances, it is easy to see how it might be difficult to keep lead levels low in natural herbal products and especially in herbal root products.
For comparison, Lead Prop 65 warning required at 0.5 micrograms/serving and higher
FDA tolerable daily intake level
Adults: 75 micrograms
Children: 6 micrograms
A 4oz. serving of nuts, Brussel sprouts, or spinach can deliver up to 10 micrograms of naturally occurring lead. Indeed, virtually all foods contain lead and other heavy metals. In a study by the European Food Safety Authority the estimated mean lifetime dietary exposure from all sources [Source 5] to lead was estimated to be almost 50 micrograms per day in the overall European adult population. This is 100 times the Prop 65 limit. As you can see the potential amount of lead exposure from herbs and spices is at most a small amount of the total exposure to lead for the average person.
When manufacturing herbal products, it is often impossible to meet Safe Harbor levels. When Safe Harbor levels cannot be met Starwest applies the appropriate Prop 65 warning to its labels.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Happy Birthday Hotty Roddy!

Happy Birthday, Hotty Roddy! I swear, I do not know what it is with my brain, but I ALWAYS think your birthday is 9/20, why? I don't know, but can we change it? LOL!

Happy Birthday, friend, I love you to the moon and back. Some of my favorite memories with you are ice skating on my 30th birthday in San Francisco, traveling to S. CA visiting a banana farm and buying an apple, and in my defense, it was a passion fruit apple, and, "the doctor said no country!' I love that you love Mason and he loves you and I am so happy for you and Cat and I can't wait to see you two again.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Giving Back Feels So Good

I found out that someone I know has been really struggling professionally. This is someone who really helped me when I was first learning the business and trying to build my own clientele. I had a listing come my way and without thinking twice, I referred it to her. Little did I know, that listing was the first paycheck she had closed in over 7 months and getting paid allowed her to sponsor a young speedway racer in our town who also desperately needed new racing leathers. Man, that felt so good! #GivingBack #NotOnlyChristmas

Other than giving back, I planted a whole bunch of succulents and I am loving them! They just look so pretty and they somehow showcase the pots they are planted in. Finally, the late summer produce is off the hook! There is nothing like a BLT with homegrown tomatoes. I can't eat tomatoes from the grocery stores out of season, even though they are imported from countries where they are in season. Whatever! I'm loving them, here and now!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Personal Responsibility Life Lessons

Mason started high school this year and he’s loving it. He’s loving the open campus, his teachers, and the freedom at lunchtime to go out to eat. I’ve been encouraging Dave to back off and let Mason start really stepping up and taking responsibility for getting up on time, working with his teachers, homework, etc.
Our neighbor takes her son to PHS on her way to work and invited Mason to ride with them. She said, “I can’t be late so the latest I ever leave at 7:35, you need to be outside waiting for me.” I told Mason you need to be outside at 7:30 and ready to go. The first day she called and he ran outside. The second day she called and he was already out the door but she hadn't seen him yet. The third Day she left without him. Perfection! Things had been going well until yesterday when before bed I said to Mason, “Your dad does not have to work tomorrow and I don’t have to be up early so be sure to get yourself up and get outside to ride with Jen in the morning." He said Okay.
This morning I didn’t hear any activity but I stayed in bed. Finally, I heard him up and moving and thought oh good. As I heard him run down the stairs and the front door closed I looked at the clock and it was 7:36. I wondered, "Did he make it?" Nope! I heard the door open and he came upstairs and he busted into my room and he said, “Jen left, it was only 736!" I said, "Oh that sucks." He left our room. As Dave and I lay there I wondered if he would ride his bike or what he might be doing. Dave asked me if I was going to take him to school and I noted he didn’t ask me to take him. Dave said he’s going to be late for school and I agreed, "Yeah probably." A few minutes later, really more like 20 minutes Mason came in and said, "Mom are you going to take me to school?!" I said, "Oh do you do you need something?" Exasperated, he said, "I need a ride to school, you know that!" I said, "I don't have to go to school. You didn’t ask me to take you to school. Exasperated he said, "It’s implied. I need to get to school." I said, "You have legs, you have a bike…" He left the room and immediately came back in and in a very fake polite frustrated voice said, "Mom, will you please take me to school?" I said, "Oh you need a ride to school? Okay let me get up and get dressed and brush my teeth, I’ll be ready in a few minutes."
I took him to school and on the way, I said, "Look, here’s the deal, Jen said she can’t leave one minute past 7:35 which means you need to have your happy ass outside at 7:30. If you were getting out the door at the very last minute and you have a car and a job and your car doesn’t start, will it be implied that someone is taking you to work? Um, no. You need to take responsibility to make sure you get where you need to be and you get there on time." Later in the day, Dave added, "If you miss your ride, you better get on your bike and hustle to school. Be sure your bike lock is handy and ready to go. It's called a Plan-B."
It will be interesting to see how next week goes, but suffice it to say, he's getting some real-life lessons in what it means to be responsible, and to take responsibility when he's not making the grade. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Whole New Life - No Thank You!

In May of 2015, I had an incident while I was at school. While sitting in a video editing class viewing other student's projects, I started to feel strange, like a tingling in my knees that was moving up my legs into my torso and I felt like I might faint. I excused myself and very intentionally made my way to the health center where I asked if someone could take my blood pressure. They said something about a form, and my student ID and I said again, "Can someone please take my blood pressure?" There was more talk about the form... I interrupted and said, "I'm going to pass out" and I looked for a chair. The next thing I knew paramedics were there, my BP was really high and I was taking my very first ride in an ambulance. The ride was just 15 minutes and by the time I arrived in the ER, everything seemed to be fine. My vital signs had stabilized and my BP was much lower, still elevated, but not like it was. Some tests were run in the hospital and it was determined that I hyperventilated. What?! That sure did not resonate with me as to what had happened, but okay, I was feeling better and I went home.

The following weeks I had several occurrences of that same kind of what I determined was anxiety-like episodes and one really left me shaken. I took a quick trip to CVS Pharmacy and when I came out the doors, I did not know where I was or why I was there. I had a sense that I was in a familiar place, but I did not know where my car was or even what I was driving. I stood there for what seemed like a long time and started to walk into the parking lot looking for a car that I hoped I would recognize when I saw it. I did. I got in and sat there for again, what seemed like a long time. I finally felt like I could drive and I drove home like nothing had happened. When I got home I took my blood pressure and it was slightly elevated but I attributed that to the scare I just had. I stretched out on my bed and started to cry. What was happening to me?

I had several more anxiety attacks through the summer but for the most part, things seemed to normalize. It wasn't until December of the same year that I woke up with a horrible headache. A headache like I've never experienced, I had to guess it was a migraine. I had plans that day to have lunch with a friend but between the headache I had and the crazy weakness I was feeling, I canceled. I took my blood pressure around 1 PM and it was elevated, but not more than usual, 140/90 if I recall. I was expecting friends that evening and I didn't want to cancel because they were coming to watch Mason's episode of Chopped Junior and they had gifts for him. They came and we had dinner while we watched his episode and here it came again, that feeling in my knees, up through my legs, into my torso and suddenly I felt like I couldn't breathe. I asked Mason to get me the BP cuff and here we went again, 180 over something...but I knew I needed to go to the ER. My friends took me in and by the time we got there I was feeling like I was fighting to stay conscious. I was rushed right in and spent over 6 hours there. The ER doc had this to say, "WOW Mrs. Partak, you are healthy as can be, I can't find a single thing out of line, but what is up with this blood pressure? Did you take too much of your thyroid medication?" Nope. "Did you drink some coffee or take some kind of stimulant late today?" Nope. "Well, I'm going to prescribe you some regular blood pressure medication and askt that you follow up with your regular doctor." Great, and I headed home.

I started taking the medication and things seemed to settle down. I had a few more episodes of what seemed to be anxiety attacks, the sense that I might faint, and weakness, but each time it happened and I checked my BP, it was normal. Fast forward to early 2017 and I find that I am really struggling to keep the pounds off. The things I could do with my diet and exercise were not working and guess what else? The hot flashes started. I didn't initially connect the things that had happened in 2015 with the onset of menopause, but you know what, that is exactly what was happening! The more I read and the further I am getting in this process of the life change, it's exactly spot on. Here I am today not so much with the blood pressure episodes, but I am up 30 lbs and I cannot get the weight off. I have severe joint pain to the point I don't want to stand up in the morning and hold my own weight, but it hurts to keep lying in bed. I walk like I am an ill 100-year-old woman - I add ill because I don't want to be disrespectful to those fit and spry 100-year-old women. My emotions are a mess, I cry, I'm sad, I'm mad, I snap at Dave and Mason, it's awful. I'm sure you are reading this thinking, Oh, Kathy, just get this XYZ herb, or this supplement, or get to the gym, you need to exercise, or this diet is just what will help you, Fast, it's just what your body needs, it helped me... I hear you, we all want to help, but I have to tell you, if I wasn't experiencing this and know on my honor that it is the way I'm sharing it is, I don't know if I would believe me.

With all of this said, I am doing my best to know this too shall pass. It will not be forever even though ten years feels like a lifetime. I know I am not defined by my weight and body size, but yeah, I kinda am. Our society does not see what is really happening, it sees that I let myself go, that I don't have the willpower to not eat the cookies. For those of you who know and admire my optimistic outlook, you would be surprised to know that I cry every day, that I don't want to leave my house because my clothes don't fit and it hurts even more to buy BIGGER clothes. Going to the gym is a double whammy - not only does it hurt physically, like real constant pain, it hurts to see how big I am in all the mirrors. I don't want to go out with Dave because I am embarrassed about what I look like and how that may make him feel. I'm really more miserable than I've ever been and I'm not sure how to get through without major repercussions to my relationships. I wrote to my doctor today letting her know how extreme my feelings and emotions have become and she will be seeing me this week.

How is it that women all over the world can be feeling this way and there is not more being done to help? There are only 1100 doctors that are fully educated and certified to treat menopause, only 1100 in the United States. There is a sense that once we are past childbearing years, we become obsolete, no longer needed. I am absolutely sure most will disagree with me, but again, this is where my emotional state is right now, this is how I feel. I want this documented why? I don't know, I just want to be able to go back and connect the dots because I'm sure my memory is not getting any sharper either. I hope you all are aging more gracefully than I am, really, I do.

AARP Article

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Letter To My Son As He Starts High School

Dear Mason,

This letter is long and it is somewhat as much for me as it is for you, maybe more for me. You’re outgoing, smart and social. You work hard, set goals, and meet them. You make consistently good choices, except when you won’t write a book with me because you want to play video games. You have a compass suited for self-direction. You’ve grown taller than me. You’ve even grown away from me - pushing back, questioning - becoming an individual with thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and experiences separate from your dad and I, and I love it. All of this, as hard as it can be to face, which is the point of raising children - to guide you growing up, send you out and watch you make your way, making this world a better place. So, we start the great journey of high school soon, the final frontier between childhood and your future.

This is new territory for me and I'm excited for you because I know what's coming. I'm also sad because I have to let you go… tomorrow, you will embark on a new, life-changing chapter that will mark your path into adulthood. It seems like yesterday I was rocking you and penning Monday Motivators, which by the way, I am way behind on. And in the blink of an eye, we’re already here. You are a high schooler.

All summer I thought of this, without tears, only the logic of being a mom. You, my son, are just ready. Like you were ready to go to preschool at two years old like you were ready to play with the kids at the hotel pool in Windsor, “I hear fun! Hi, I’m Mason, M-A-S-O-N!” and you jumped right in the pool to play with the kids, you have never been afraid. I always found comfort in that you are always just ready to take on the world. Even if heading into this new chapter means it ends that much quicker, it is exciting for all of us.
But recently, as the start of the school year draws near, I feel myself hesitating. I have so much I want to say, or maybe I’ve said it all, but I want to be sure you know, make sure it’s all in one place. So here I go, writing it all down so you don’t have to remember, you can come back and look at it. Now I’m asking myself, “Have I said everything that I need to say? Has he heard me?“ I feel so good about the foundation your dad and I have laid for you and feel proud of what we have done, how you have grown and the potential for all the success I see coming for you.
But still, I think of the barriers, the blocks, and the challenges to getting you on the other side of these next four years - happy and whole.
Here I am, your dad, too, we are here for you, with all of our hearts, our loyalty, and our relentless commitment to parenting you. And of course, all the other stuff I know and want you to know, that even listed here, still doesn’t seem like enough. There is more I want you to know. But I’m sure it will feel like that for the rest of my life so I’ll just need to stand with you while you live it now in high school, and in the background, once you are on your own, and then a phone call away while you are creating your own family.
As you enter high school, I have some last minute, but timeless advice for you. I hope you look back at this letter and see that these points are valid and will not only serve you now but all of your life. Dad and I won’t always be there at every turn or place of challenge for you, but we can share some of our best advice as you enter this new stage–because we’ve been there, too.
So, as you enter high school here are some of the many things I want you always to remember…
#1.  I started with my handwritten card encouraging you to learn to write nicely, cursive if you are so inclined, but learn to hand-write with your own style and flair. No matter how you choose to express yourself, you will want to write a love letter or two in your life. When you are famous you will need a flash signature, not a printed one.
#2.  We’re more alike than we’re different. We are all a little nervous showing up. On day one as you walk on to campus, you will be faced with guys who are way more developed than you. Guys who could be GQ models, with cars and girlfriends… This may be a little intimidating, but don’t let it hinder your confidence. Don’t compare yourself to others now or ever. Be patient and kind to yourself & others and know that high school is just one stepping stone to the rest of your life. You will look back and see that even the model guys were insecure and worried about being liked and fitting in. We are all more the same than we are different.
#3.  Don’t lose "you," in our eyes, there’s no one who can equal who you are. You’re smart, kind, a hard worker when you want to be, and your love for life keeps my heart happy. You have certain gifts and uniqueness’s that no one could match, and we love that about you! Please don’t try to change who you are just to impress others or make more friends. Find your identity and fight the temptation to change who you are to please people. You are an amazing soul – exactly the way you are, don’t apologize unless you’ve wronged someone - not for being you, for telling the truth, or for standing up for the underdog.
#4.  Be a good friend. Even if you have just a few close friends who really get you, that’s success. Having lots of followers and “likes” may work for some people, but when it comes to real friendships, real-life relationships, a few are superior to many. There’s nothing better than looking back at your life and having a couple of friends who have been witness to your memories. Be a good friend to have good friends and be kind to the people you encounter, not just now, but always. #KindnessRocks #ThinkOfMax
#5.  Be the guy who is respectful to the new kid in class, to the substitute teachers, and say hi to the kid alone in the cafeteria. Be the guy who stands up to the bully and if you can’t stop him or her, get someone who can. Remember the Go Giver? Be the guy who gives and all you want and need will come back to you.
#6.  High School is a great time to learn about relationships of all kinds and that includes girls. Don’t allow that one part of high school to direct the rest of your life. I really can’t stress this one enough. High school is a time to discover who you are, have a ton of fun, work out your insecurities, laugh, and so on. Please don’t let a girl(s) stress you out. As you already know we can do that, young women are learning to figure this stuff out just like you are, most times, letting things cool off and a little time pass is the best course of action. That time will help you respond to and not react to a situation. I hope you have lots of girls who are friends, but seriously, now is not the time to get so focused on a single girl. High school is a great time to learn how to treat young women with respect, honor, and kindness, please don’t forget that.
#7.  Get good grades. They matter not just to get you into the college you want to go to, but because they prove your ability to meet deadlines, do superior work, and take direction. It feels good to get good grades just like it feels good to finish a project, or put in a hard day’s work and get paid. Your grades are your paycheck for the next four years.
#8.  Don’t wish this time away. Right now, you’re probably excited to start on this new journey, planning what to wear the first day of school, and thinking about who you will see from EV Cain, and meet from Bowman, but all that will soon fade and you will be up to your eyeballs in homework and upcoming projects. You will have to write essays, do research papers, midterm exams, and you will just want it all to be over. It will suck! Trust me, don’t blink, it will come and go so fast, and you will look back, five, ten, twenty-something years later and see those were some of the best years of your life. Please enjoy the journey, the good, the bad, the ugly, the fun, all of it, it will go by so fast. Remember, each experience is shaping who you are and the adult you are going to be.
#9.  You can always talk to me, or your dad…or me - ALWAYS! I’m so glad you talk to me about your feelings. You’ve always come to me with body stuff, girl stuff, and the stuff that makes you feel like you need to stand your ground. Keep it up! High school may feel different, you may not want me to know what you are thinking or planning, but please, if you are scared, think you may be in trouble, or just need me, speak up. You may find yourself in a situation that I won’t like, and you might be right, but you can still come to me. The consequences will always be less if you come forth with it and let us get to work on solutions than if you lie or keep quiet, they are often one in the same by the way. These years will make up some fun and exciting times, but they can also be confusing, too. Your heart isn’t ready for all that may be coming. Remember when I told you I wanted to be selective with whom I handed your heart to? That’s still true, I will be very careful and even then, I will still hold it safely in mine. I got you fam. ;)
#10.  There is no one-way, there are lots of ways. Take as many orange roads as you can, they will lead you to new adventures, new friends, and more opportunities than you can ever imagine. Listen for the pieces of life that excite you, that make you feel full and engaged and go towards them.
Intentional Winning In Life
#11.  Play. Join. Volunteer. Work. Help others. Try new things.
#12.  Think carefully about how you talk to and about others. Think about what you say and how you say it. You cannot un-ring a bell and you cannot unsay words. You know this, you can say you are sorry, but that is not always enough. Think, say what you mean and mean what you say. The wisdom of meaningful words is powerful. Only second to the power of silence, choose carefully.
#13.  Be good to people. All people. See the best in them even if you have to look really hard.
#14.  Be proud of yourself, your family, your friends, your school, and your community. Be proud of how you have contributed already and that you are a Chopped Junior Champion. Play to your strengths until you find you are strong in other areas, too. Try out, participate, play, compete, sweat, learn to win and lose, just show up and play the game. Tune in and love how it makes you feel and learn about yourself and life along the way
#15.  Be a serious student, not just in high school, but in life. You were given a creative, sharp, and curious mind. Challenge it. Ask questions. Think critically. Cultivate a love of learning and life will instantly become more fun because you want to, not have to.
#16.  Build relationships in abundance, every time you meet new people, new orange roads present themselves. Every new introduction is a new opportunity to build your network, ask questions, learn about people and they will want to know more about you.
#17.  Be safe. Please don’t drink or use drugs. You are so amazing without those poisons. Your brain needs more time to develop, let it do its thing without altering it and possibly hurting you or the people you are with. Wear your seatbelt, don’t text and drive, and don’t get in cars with people who you KNOW drink or use drugs. You do not have to chug things and participate in competitions about who drinks the most, smokes the most, or does the most whatever of things. Tide pods are not candy and you can’t swallow a spoonful of cinnamon. Call me. Call me. Call me. Text me 52 and I will call you to tell you I need to come get you - it won’t be on you, it will be on me.
#18.  Wait for sex. Please. You have an amazing life ahead of you and not only will the emotions of intimacy and sex complicate your life, a baby will change the course of your future completely. It will not end your life, but it will close so many doors. If you find yourself in love and unable to wait another minute — know consent means two people verbally, deliberately, clearly saying the word “Yes.” If you are not sure, wait! If you are sure and so is she, wear a condom. Every damn time, no matter what she says, you take responsibility for your actions - wear a condom. Babies & STIs — they’re real and they CAN happen to you.
#19.  Save your money, for every dollar you make, save .40 cents. If you can manage to save and invest just $100 a month for the next 8-10 years, you can have millions when you retire at 62 - think about that, just 10 years of investing and you do not have to invest or save again, that money invested will take care of you later.
#20.  You can say no to anything at any time. Your body, your mind, your heart. Never forget you have choices. No is always one of them. Unless I ask you to write a book with me or do the dishes. That’s different.
#21.  Take risks and mess up - FAIL. Preferably in a typical, correctable, healthy, learn-from-your-mistakes kind of way. Still, be vulnerable and brave enough to always reach and grow and stumble beyond what you thought you could do. Laugh at yourself and roll with the punches, but learn from your mistakes. And remember, if your friends are going to do something stupid, and you can hear me or your dad in your ear, listen! You will be on the news as the kid cook who got arrested. If nothing else, that kid cook thing can be your out when you are feeling peer-pressured to do something you know is not right.
And if you remember only one thing, let it be this: Whether you do or you don’t — our love for you is not conditional, not measurable, not connected to the outcome of your life. We will feel proud and we will feel disappointed. We will be certain and we will be afraid. We will know some things and there will be other things we won’t know. We are still growing and changing and figuring life out, too. Underneath all of this life we are living, all of this life we are trying so damn hard to get right, our love for you runs steady and unchanging. Even in the messy emotions and my infinite offerings on how to live fully, my love for you and your dad is the only thing I know for sure. It is my only guide.
So go forward and do your thing, with hair-flips (stop the damn hair flips), crazy socks, and voice cracks. Embrace it all. Just be you. It’s the best way to be. 
Love, Mom and Dad

Thank you to Janell Burley Hofmann and  Jenna Orme for the inspiration when I knew I wanted to pen this letter but just couldn't seem to put it all together on my own.