Monday, December 30, 2019

It's the Eve of New Years Eve

Another new year is upon us, and I know they must really be going faster when my now 16 year old son is noting how fast 2019 went. Christmas was a whirlwind and it was less fun than years past because it seemed as if there was all the same amount of stuff to do only not as much time to do it all.

Of course I knew this would be the case when we decided to take a 15 day cruise from December 3rd to the 18th, but I don't think I really knew how much there would be to do. More so is the pressure I tend to feel because I am the only one in my family who does not truly enjoy all the store bought gifts that make up the bulk of the holiday for most people, including Dave and Mason. All of you who know us, you know Dave is a shopper, Mason is a kid (Christmas = gifts), and I would rather tap into all the feels of the season. Some of those feels can be a gift, but more so for me it's the baking, the decorating cookies, making ornaments, decorating the tree, watching the Hallmark Christmas programs, and trying to find a gift or two that will really touch the recipient, maybe even evoke some real emotion. What happens is, we gather around the tree on Christmas morning and there are easily 5 gifts for me, 5 for Mason to every 1 gift for Dave - it feels awful! Dave says he doesn't care but a day or two later he will talk to the dog (with me sitting right there with them) and say, "Papa didn't get any candy in his stocking..." Grrrr! He says he doesn't care, but he does.

I made it clear a number of years ago that I just financially cannot keep up with the gift-giving rivalry and that I didn't want to even try. Mason gives us a list and more often than not, one gift will wipe out the gift budget and there likely is not money to buy 2 or 3 of his suggested gifts. I stopped hounding the boys to not shop for themselves after Halloween (for fear that I already purchased a gift and then they would purchase it for themself and spoil my gift come Christmas) and told them that I would buy them something if it really spoke to me for them or I would give the way I want to give... and sometimes that gift may be the gift of nothing. Yes, it's a real gift!

I can't tell you how many times I've purchased fun little things for Mason only to find them in his garbage can or the box to donate to Goodwill a few weeks after Christmas. Really?! The last two years I bought Dave really thoughtful gifts, things he had mentioned on numerous occasions he would like to have, one was a metal detector and the other was for his birthday the following June, 2 fishing poles. The metal detector didn't come out of the box until after his birthday, and that was when I gave him the fishing poles. He has not used the metal detector yet (Mason took it out of the box), and the fishing poles are collecting dust in the garage. He will argue that he doesn't have time to use them but it's common knowledge that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and Dave no longer works full time. Does this hurt my feelings? A little bit, but it more so validates that we don't need all the things and in fact, we don't even really want them. We think we want them, but truth be told, what Dave spends his time doing is socializing with his friends, he spends his time at Pete's watching football with the other fans, and the same when Football is not in season and NASCAR is on. We have a full bar at home with a kegerator and the NFL ticket. He's hungry for the social time, the comradery, and even the rivalry between teams and or drivers.

Isn't it ironic that I want to celebrate Christmas with my people doing the things that we have come to love about the season (holidays) and he wants things, though he doesn't use the things because he wants to spend his days with his people sharing the things that they love about the season (football/NASCAR)? For the record, Dave gets really meaningful and thoughtful gifts, he just typically gets so many of them! LOL! This year he bought a recreation of my favorite dog Riley... it's strangely awesome. I went to WalMart and bought Dave 5 boxes of Mike N Ike Sours and even though they weren't in his stocking, he seemed pleased to have his own candy. It's a small price to pay to make my man happy and now we can put Christmas away for another year.

In other fun news, the film Mason shot over 2 years ago has finally been released in theatres across the country, APParition is a thriller based on the true story of the events at Preston Castle in Ione, CA. Seven boys went missing and Mason played one of the boys in the reform school. We've been able to see it in a few early premieres and it's really something to be proud of. I don't think Mason will keep working in the film industry, but this film gave him a real taste of what that looks like. I'm glad he got to have the opportunity, it was fun for all of us.

I wish you a happy new year and smooth roads to whatever goals or resolutions you may see for yourself. I know I have big plans for myself in 2020 and us Partaks have some pretty exciting things on tap as well. I'll share more about all of that in January. Welcome 2020!

Monday, December 23, 2019

It's the Eve of Christmas Eve

This has been the craziest holiday season ever! Having been gone December 3rd -18th has left Dave and I only 5 days until Christmas Eve, only 5 days! I would like to have been more prepared prior to December 3rd, but no, work schedules were just not allowing for time to prep for Christmas. I was literally working up until we got off the Bay bridge in San Francisco to be dropped off at the pier to board the ship. Thank goodness for hot spots so laptops work in the car.

The Hawaiian cruise was lovely, but truth be told, it was too long. Maybe I feel that way because it was the two weeks before Christmas, or it may be that I am not a Sailor, I don't love being on the water for extended periods of time. I have friends who live on a sailboat, others who vacation every year on sailboats in the Caribbean, and of course those who love the cruise industry. We did a Disney cruise a number of years ago and I loved it! It was only 4 days so there was just enough time to really discover all the things to do on the ship and then we were back in Florida ready to do a little more Disney with our land-legs. In any case, I'm glad we went, being on 4 islands and all 4 beaches in 4 days was bliss. The 5 days back to the states created forced relaxation for Dave and I, we slept late, watched movies, read magazines and books, and even napped during the day if we felt like it.

Now we're home, the tree is not all the way decorated, my cookies are not done, I still have shopping and wrapping to do and who knows if it will get done. I'm feeling the pressure of our differences in what Christmas looks like, Dave and Mason love our traditions (as do I), but they love the gifts aspect of Christmas way more than I do. I don't buy gifts out of obligation, I want to buy a gift that speaks to me for you... not a candle or a bottle of body wash because I can't show up empty handed. Let me show up empty handed and let my gift be my presence, our time together. I know it's the gift for me, to get to spend time with you.

So here we go, I am doing some baking today even though I know I won't be able to decorate my cookies before Christmas. It's okay, I'll decorate them between now and the new year and it will be just fine. And with that said, let me share a cookie making tip with you all, I can't believe it took me this long to figure this out! Merry Christmas...

If you like this tip, subscribe to me on YouTube and follow me on Instagram for more useful information coming in the new year. Big smiles!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Mason Made Desserts for Dutch Bros. Holiday Party

I couldn’t be more proud of Mason! He did the desserts for the Dutch Bros holiday party tonight, he did it completely on his own and did the Dutch gingerbread as a bonus gift to Heather. I love that she trusted him with something so important, I hope she was happy. It all looked great and though I’m not home to taste any of it, I know his truffle recipe because it's the one Dave uses that originated with our friend Theresa. Finally, the orange-cranberry cupcakes are my recipe so I know they are good. He even sugared fresh cranberries!

Though I'm sorry I'm not home to help Mason with his Dutch Bros order, I've had the time of my life on this trip with Dave, Lisa, David, and Lisa's mom and her husband. I'm so inspired to make 2020 crazy amazing along with Jennifer Smith Taggard. It's time to see some of those bright ideas to fruition. With that said, I am ready to be home with Mason and the dogs and enjoy the rest of the holiday season as we see 2019 off and ring in 2020. What about you, what are you looking forward to in the coming weeks?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Our Hawaiian Cruise

We made it on the ship and ready to set sail! I have worked so diligently and hard for the last two weeks leading up to set sail today. If I could work like that every day, can you even imagine what kind of life I could be living? LOL! Frankly, if I worked every day like I’ve been doing, I would have no time to enjoy my life and my people. Not to mention the pace I was keeping was grueling. I’m not sad to be through that almost impossible list of things to do. It did remind me however what I am actually capable of. In any case, we are here and I’m ready to have some fun and get to vacationing.

The first 4 days on the ocean, we were rocking & rolling pretty constantly since we left San Francisco and I'm not talking about music. Jules would have been in heaven while I would like a break from the Princess (Cruises) Ride! I didn’t get officially seasick, but I was eating Dramamine a bit like candy. I should have planned better and purchased it at less than $8 for 6 tablets. 

We did have plenty of fun participating in the activities and games on the ship. We not only played music trivia, but we also gambled in the casino, we both played in tournaments, Lisa and I played in a slot tournament and Dave played in a blackjack tournament, and of course, we saw some shows. We’ve won two of the music-trivia contests, the 80s and Country Music. There's more than one way to drink free on a cruise! #freechampagne #prizeisabottle The Anderson's have been our partners in crime winning the trivia games!

Coming into port early morning at sunrise, I was so ready to feel my land-legs! 
Most of the sunsets were spectacular! This photo from Oahu has no edits or filters. The iPhone 11 Max Pro is amazing! In fact, I tagged Princess Cruises on social media and they asked to use the photo on their social media, website, and marketing, how cool is that?! I’m loving the camera on my new iPhone 11 Pro Max, seriously it changes the phone-camera game. 

Then there was the fall that made my already “not pretty” legs, even more, “not pretty!” Talk about embarrassing... my pride hurt more than my leg. Oh, and for all of us parents that tell our kids peroxide doesn’t hurt, LIAR!! LOL! And yes, it’s been washed with soap twice and the dirt and gravel are ground in for now. I’ll wash, scrub, and disinfect several more times while drinking shots of tequila.

*Island hopping was the best part of the trip and frankly, 15 days was too long for the trip. The 5 days it took to travel from the mainland to the islands and back was just too much time at sea for me. Sailing is not my idea of the ultimate vacation and our Disney cruise was so different than the Princess trip. In any case, I loved the time with the Anderson’s and celebrating Lisa’s and my birthdays were epic. I love those people so very deeply and as some of our very best friends we just don’t get as much time together as I know Lisa and I would like to have. 

*Updated after returning home so the trip is documented in one place, for the most part

Monday, December 2, 2019

My People!

Last Tuesday was amazing! I spent the whole day just hanging out, talking, laughing, dreaming big, solving world problems, being grateful, looking at pictures, hugging, loving, and just being with Michael J. There was also time with Sari, & her mama, and daddy, some of my favorite people - my people. The 23rd was Michael's 29th birthday and he and his new bride are planning to move to Chile in just a few weeks so I made plans to fly to LA and spend a whole day with them. It's only a day, but it's all we can do for the moment. Can I just tell you, it really was an epic day!

Later in the week, we were preparing for Thanksgiving, which if you recall we celebrate on Saturday instead of the official turkey day which is Thursday. Diana arrived in Sacramento on the real turkey day and she, Jenn, and I went wine tasting on Friday. We had such a good time girl-talking, laughing, singing along with the radio, and of course, tasting wine at Runquist Winery in Amador County. We ended the day with a group of us having dinner in Grass Valley and then enjoying Cornish Christmas before calling it a super-fun-filled-night!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Happy Birthday Michael J.!

29 years ago this amazing man was born. I was not married, though I loved his father so deeply. It was not a good relationship and I knew he and I would never create a good place for a child so I placed him with people who I thought would provide him with the things we couldn't.
In April of this year, he called me and wanted to know our story, his story. There is nothing he can't know but what I wanted him to know more than anything else was that he was loved on 11/23/91 and every single day after that. When we met, I gave him a box I kept for him with our bracelets from the hospital, a baby bottle, and one Christmas ornament that was part of a set of 3. The other two hang on my tree every Christmas. Additional items in this box were letters from his adoptive mom to me while I was pregnant, photos and a stack of birthday cards that I wrote to him each year we were not together. 

Today I get to write him a birthday card with all new meaning. We've spent time together over the last 6 months, we talk on the phone frequently, and Dave, Mason and I got to attend his wedding. It's been the most wonderful reunion and I am validated every day, but especially today that I knew having him was the right thing to do. Happy Birthday Michael J, you are an amazing human being and I could not be more proud to call you my son!!

In other news, Sunday was a Partak sweep at the Mountain Mandarin Festival. Mason won Best sauce (Mandarin Pepper Sauce) and Best Breakfast (Mandarin Parfait). I won Best appetizer, which was the Mandarin Pepper taco, oh and the taco won the Snow's Citrus Court award. My cookie won best cookie and also won the Grand Prize, can you even believe it? Where were you Rachel Griffith?

Monday, November 18, 2019

This One's From Dave -

I just wanted to give a public shout out to my wife, Kathy Partak She is always saying complimentary things about me and rarely am I on Facebook so I wanted to return the gesture.

She has always been there for Mason and I and done good wifely and motherly things for the two of us, but I really noticed the other day that she is really busting her derriere helping others selling and buying their homes. Kathy doesn't want to be a top producer but wants to have her clients feel good about their transactions. She goes way beyond what usual realtors do. She tells her clients that they get "her." Getting "her" means that they deal with Kathy from start to finish and they are not fawned off to other processors that most realtors in big firms will do. She is also always available no matter the time of day or where she is. Many a time, dinner or vacations go on a temporary hold while she helps her clients and her laptop is with her whenever we travel. The great thing is that she gets a lot of her business from referrals which means she did a good enough job that her past clients are willing to recommend her.

I know this may sound like an endorsement or ad for Kathy, and it is not meant to be, but hey, as they always told us in business, "ask for the sale." She helped me get through to retirement when at times I wanted to just quit. I am glad she got me to the finish line. Now it's my turn to support her and her passion. To her, it's a passion and not just a job and that makes all the difference.
Thank you Kathy for all you are doing for us, we love you!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Happy 18th Wedding Anniversary Flower Dave

Saturday was our 18th Wedding Anniversary. I love this man and the life we have created together more than words could ever express.
I grew up in a home where my mom and dad never showed affection for each other, I wasn’t even sure they liked each other. The idea that I could have a storybook romance and live a life full of so much laughter and love with a man who shows me every day how much he loves me was inconceivable. I thought those relationships were only stories told on television or in the movies. In my 30s I met Lisa & David Anderson and Marsha Mercant & John Howard John Howard Swain and saw that truly happily married couples exist!
I Fell in love with my friend Flower Dave because he was kind, he considered how I felt and what I wanted in every decision he made pertaining to us and the things we would do. We were platonic friends for six years before we got married and I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, Dave proposed to me on 12/14/01 and we were married on 12/17/01. Some might think, wow! That was fast. And for a marriage, it was but I will tell you it was the easiest decision I’ve ever made, the best decision I’ve ever made, and to this day, marriage has not been hard. Have there been a few bumps in the road? Yep, but as a whole being married is not work. Checking in with each other before making plans isn’t something we have to do, it’s something we want to do, it’s called being considerate. Respect plays a big role because when you respect somebody your decision making reflects that. I’ve always been called lucky because I win things, and winning the heart of my guy and living this life with him is the best prize ever. Happy anniversary Flower Dave, thank you for loving me!

Monday, November 4, 2019

I Love My People!

You know what? I want to see you succeed. Not just reach the goal, reach far beyond what you can even imagine is possible. You see, it's not you OR me, it's you AND me, there is more than enough for all of us.

Enough of what you ask? Enough jobs, enough opportunities, enough open doors, enough leading roles, enough first places, enough abundance, enough prosperity, enough money, enough friends, enough party invites, enough love.

It is not necessary to tear down those around you who are seeing success, stand up and cheer for them! Maybe if you stand up for them, you can stay on your feet and take the action you need to see what you want come to fruition. If you do, I'm already standing, and taking action, but I will cheer for you, I will cheer as loud as I can and say, "I'm so glad you are making this happen for yourself."

It's not only my close friends, but I have the most amazing clients as well, all of them! It's hard to believe that in a group of amazing humans some can manage to rise above such an already high bar. The last few weeks, Michael and Brieanne Weaver have gone above and beyond as sellers and today, Mike showed up with class and kindness in a way that just made me so proud and honored to be his friend. Thank you Shane and Jen for introducing me to your tribe and allowing me to do business, laugh, and play with all of you. I don't have a photo of all of us, so guess what needs to happen very soon?! GROUP PHOTO!! 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Auburn Ghost Tours

Auburn has an amazing history and we want to preserve all of it for all generations, including that of our dearly departed souls who have stayed on in our little town. Every year we all can’t wait for October! One of our good friends Melany Hall was born and raised in Auburn, she left when she became an officer in the US Army, she traveled the world and came back to Auburn where she is raising her family. She started the Auburn Ghost Tours to share Auburn's rich, spooky history. This year, Dave and I got to participate by telling another part of Adolph Webber's story and I helped by sharing some of the spooky stories of more present day oddities in one particular building in Old Town Auburn. If you are going to be in our neck of the woods in October, try to get tickets and do the tour, it's incredibly interesting and so fun. Even more fun, Mason helped do makeup this year! I so love our little town!

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Best 16th Birthday Ever!

Mason's 16th Birthday Weekend

Happy Birthday, Mason! It was yesterday but it was epic. Let's look at this and tell the whole truth, Mason was not all that excited leading up to his 16th birthday. History has shown that we Partaks travel during the month of October and it's typically been a vacation that Mason would love. A few of those recent past-years vacations have been -

2018 - North Carolina where Dave and Mason went to a Panthers/Bucs game and Nashville. 
2017 - Orlando and Tampa where Mason and Dave saw a Bucs/Panthers game at the Bucs home stadium in addition to Universal Studios for 2 days & Volcano Bay water park.

2016 - Chicago and then Southern CA and an NFL game watching the 49ers/Bucs play.
2015 - San Antonio, Sugarland & Houston where we had so much fun.
2014 - 4 day Disney Cruise to the Bahamas and then we spent a few extra days in Orlando. 
2013 - 3 days in Disneyland staying at Paradise Pier, a Disney Hotel.
2012 - Earlier than his birthday (August) he and I went to Minnesota for a week - EPIC!

The birthdays prior to these he was littler and enjoyed a party at Old Town Pizza, several years at our local Community Festival that had bounce houses, food, crafts, and live music, and of course at our house. The point is that the last 6 years have been big family vacations and there was not such a trip planned this year. I was thinking it may involve a car but Mason has not been all that interested in even getting his driving permit so that idea seemed kind of silly. He mentioned having a party and I loved that idea. I asked him when, and what he was thinking for the theme (as a 15-year-old boy thinks about those things) and he never brought it up again. Of course, Dave and I talked about birthday dinner and we got him gifts, a very expensive high school letterman jacket that he took possession of before his actual birthday and he also opened the Amazon box that had his fun gift in it before I could wrap it up. I advised him not to, noting that he would be bummed if he didn't have gifts on his actual birthday but he assured me, he didn't care. The few days before his birthday he made it very clear that this was shaping up to be the worst birthday ever - clearly, he cared. I had to laugh and asked, "How can this be the worst birthday ever if it hasn't happened yet?"

Later that same day Hotty Roddy called to see about stopping over while he and Cat are traveling the country in their RV and that set in motion a chain of events that I don't know if I could have planned. We all got together late in the afternoon and it went into a night of lots of old stories and laughs when Rod said, "What have Greg and Heather been up to? I sure miss them and want to see them." Mason was at the homecoming football game on Friday night so on my way to pick him up, I called Heather to see if they could come and hang out with us on Saturday. Saturday we got our day underway and Greg, Heather, and the boys came to Auburn to play with us. We had a great day and then night eating, drinking, and laughing out back with a fire in the chiminea. Jennifer came over as well. So. Much. Fun! Now I know you are probably thinking, "Who's 16th birthday is this anyway?" Yes, Sunday was Mason's birthday and with our longtime friends that we don't get to see often enough sleeping over, sharing stories of Mason being little, and all the fun of what's to come, even Mason finally conceded that it was "THE BEST 16TH BIRTHDAY EVER!" Mason played with Josh and Jake, talked culinary skills with Rod, opened a few presents that though none of them were car keys, were still pretty oaky. I made him a scratch banana cake with Nutella frosting (as per his request) and our neighbor Jen made him a brownie with coffee ice cream cake! Yeah, it was SO GOOD! This was not a birthday of jet-setting or Disney cruising, but it was a birthday of love and family and friendship. I hope Mason will look back and realize that it really was the best 16th birthday ever! I'm bummed that the photo of Cat, Rod, and Mason is not so good, but it's all I have so it stays.

If you are interested in more, here my annual birthday post for Mason...

Happy 16th Birthday Mason!
Through the years I’ve written to you on your birthday so it’s safe to say that you know about the day you were born, the weeks leading up to that day, and of course the year and a half after when your dad deployed to Iraq. On your 16th birthday, I’m going to simply tell you how much I love you, and how proud of you I am.

Watching you grow up there are lots of things that I love about you. I love how you embrace life, I love how you are willing to do things by yourself, you don’t need other people to enjoy a movie or go to a water park - not many kids have the self-confidence to venture out on their own like you do. You are so strong yet you have such a tender heart, you care about people on a level that I don’t think I understood until I was well into my late 20s. You have a wicked sense of humor, you’re talented in so many ways, and you work hard if you decide the work is worth doing. But the thing I’m most proud of you for is your ability to communicate so effectively. Not only are you articulate, but you can keep your cool and find words even when emotions are running high, either angry, sad, or frustrated. You say how you feel with kindness and conviction.

You are wise Mason, you have good instincts and I am sure you have crazy success in your future. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I love you son, your dad and I are both so proud of you. Happy Birthday! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Power Is Out

If you don't live in California, you don't know about Pacific Gas & Electric and their planned power outages, yes, planned power outages. PG&E has been found responsible for the Camp Fire a year ago in Paradise, CA and I believe the fire in Santa Rosa 3 years ago. It's a long story, but the gist of it is that PG&E cut costs 20 years ago and let go of their crews of employees who job it was to clear their power lines. Over time, the overgrowth combined with aging equipment and infrastructure we've had several super fires. PG&E is a conglomerate that has such a monopoly on electric service, that even when someone installs solar on their home, they still have to have PG&E and be tied into them to manage their power, it's total BS. With that said, we had a 3 day stretch of no power and then another 2 day stint. Greg and Heather loaned us two of their generators and to say we were grateful is a complete understatement. We were able to loan one to our neighbors so we could all keep our refrigerators running, our freezer food frozen and some of us may have plugged in our television sets. I'm really only writing about this so it's documented, and because if this is to keep up, I suspect the already masses that are leaving California will have more company. As a real estate agent, homes will become difficult to sell as people have to deal with outrageous fire insurance and now scheduled, days-at-a-time power outages. Even though this is a real pain in the butt, we tend to keep our sense of humor. Here is a fun video good friends of ours produced, it pretty much sums it all up.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Orange Roads

Isn't it crazy how life never seems to follow the direction you planned? We find ourselves at crossroads every day. Some are simple little decisions that barely cause a ripple, where others are life changing. I am careful not to make decisions that I believe I will regret and in general I'm happy with my life. My hope for you is that you feel that way as well.

I've had a number of things I wanted to be when I grew up starting with an Actor, then a Florist, and back to an Actor, then to an Olympian who would ride/compete in the 1994 Summer games on my horse who was in no way, shape, or form that calibre of horse, a cake decorator, and back to an actor. Yes, I always wanted to be an actor so when I turned 30 I started to take acting classes and became a working actor. Let's be clear, that is a far cry from a famous actor, a working actor is one who makes a paycheck here and there from auditioning A LOT, and booking a job once in a while. Through all these life experiences I found a love of writing, storytelling, and speaking. One of my orange roads in life has been the road to public speaking. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a women's expo in Sacramento and wouldn't you know, it was another defining moment in my life. It was a moment when I had to walk my talk and follow through in a really uncomfortable situation. Here's the short story...

The first lesson that I learned is something my public speaking mentor talks about at length and that is naming your speech. Mine was titled, “Let’s Be Frank. How to have tough talks with confidence and ease.” All that was printed on the program was, “Let’s Be Frank.” As if people not fully knowing what to expect from me wasn’t enough, the woman who was speaking before me brought in a full-scale Hollywood production crew to record her talk. We had a very strict 30 minute time limit and she spoke for 50 minutes And then her crew seemed to be in no rush to break down the sound and lighting equipment for me to speak after her. Needless to say, for the couple of people that were in my room waiting for me, they got to see me in action have a tough talk with two grown men. I very directly, though kindly told them that they needed to move their equipment out of the room and break it down in the hallway. I was not the last speaker of the day, however, to the two people that were in the room with me (both people I know) I delivered my speech as if it were to a packed house. “Thank you, thank you very much!”
I’m sure the title of my speech on the program in addition to all of the activity outside the door of my room contributed to me having nobody from the expo hear me speak. However, I am not one to cry over empty chairs. This is going to make an epic story in 10 years when I have a gazillion speaking engagements under my belt. I’m going to be able to talk about the day nobody showed up to hear me speak and yet I spoke anyway! LOL!

Those detours in life, when we find ourselves traveling a road we didn't plan to take, I call those the Orange Roads, the roads that we would never plan when taking a trip because they are not the direct route. I don't know that I know anyone who has set out to just travel where the road takes them, to purposefully travel without a destination in mind, or at the very least, a timeline for when the trip will end. As I've grown and paid more attention to the little things in life, I can see that there need not be a destination or even a timeline for a journey, that to just pick up and go somewhere is a wonderful idea. The roads in life that are not the planned route may not be the shortest, they likely will not be less expensive, and they may or may not be the most scenic. What I have discovered is that they are almost always the roads that will take us to our dreams. ~ Kathy P.

Monday, September 23, 2019

I'm Speaking At The Women's Expo

Guess what? I will be speaking at the Women’s Expo in just 3 weeks! I'll be sharing how to have tough talks with confidence and ease. Yes, you can do it, too! 

I would love one of my media friends to come to video my session, who's available for an hour or so?

Want to attend? I have a couple of tickets... :)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Dave here, Let Me Tell You About Kathy...

I just wanted to give a public shout out to my wife, Kathy Partak She is always saying complimentary things about me and rarely am I on Facebook so I wanted to return the gesture.
She has always been there for Mason and I and done good wifely and motherly things for the two of us but I really noticed the other day that she is really busting her derriere helping others selling and buying their homes. Kathy doesn't want to be a top producer but wants to have her clients feel good about their transactions. She goes way beyond what usual realtors do. She tells her clients that they "get her". Getting "her" means that they deal with Kathy from start to finish and they are not fawned off to other processors that most realtors in big firms will do. She is also always available no matter the time of day or where she is at. Many a time, dinner or vacations go on a temporary hold while she helps her clients and her laptop is with her whenever we travel. The great thing is that she gets a lot of her business from referrals which means she did a good enough job that her past clients are willing to recommend her.
I know this may sound like an endorsement or ad for Kathy, and it is not meant to be, but hey, as they always told us in business, "ask for the sale". She helped me get through to retirement when at times I wanted to just quit. I am glad she got me to the finish line. Now it's my time to support her and her passion. To her, it's a passion and not a job and that makes all the difference.
Thanks Kathy for all you are doing for us.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sunset On The Lake

Dave planned a sunset trip on the lake tonight. Ladies, I have to say, I make no secret about how lucky I feel to have a guy like Dave who makes grand romantic gestures like the one tonight. It's his love language. My parents were not happily married but they stayed married until the days they both died. I didn't see affection between them, in fact, I saw the opposite. To think that I could grow up thinking that true, happy love was just created by writers on television and then marry a guy who proves me wrong even today, almost 20 years later, well it's really a gift that I sometimes don't feel worthy of. I've said it many times, I'm not sure what I did to deserve him and the way he loves me, but I am so glad he's mine and this is our life. To my single girlfriends, don't settle, if he wants to be with you, he will make time, he will go out of his way, and he will travel long distances just to have coffee with you. I promise, this I know. Thank you David​ for the most magical evening tonight. Even the mosquitos didn't spoil it!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Nothing But Jam!

Dave and Mason are at Pacificon
 and I had big plans to hunker down and write. I sat down and I had nothing, not one thought or idea that was worthwhile. Of course, I had a topic planned, but when it was time to clickety-click-click-click, nothing! So instead I made jam, LOTS of jam. I made Cherry Fig Christmas jam, Spicy Plum & Fig jam, Cherry Amaretto jam, Strawberry Jalapeno jam, and Strawberry Jalapeno barbeque sauce. And I still have fruit I need to process! This photo is just a small fraction of what I made.

I really want to write this weekend before the boys get home so send me lots of inspiration to make that happen. Please?

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Great Hack on Netflix

Who has seen “The Great Hack” on Netflix? Was I not talking about this with Common Core in 2015? Certainly the data collection with common core in our schools is on a smaller scale, but the sale of personal data be it adults or children should come with full consent and permission. 

Currently, we do not have rights to our personal data unless one has never been online. If you have purchased something or participated on any social media platform, your data has been collected, if even on a minimal level. If you’ve seen the documentary, I’d love to hear your thoughts and discuss. It"s difficult to wrap my head around. Part of me wants to get off social media altogether (if even just on principle alone) while the other part thinks, the damage is already done, what does it matter? I think it does matter, but I’m not sure a handful of us boycotting social media will change anything. Too many people are addicted to their phones and social media, in fact, I’m seeing that even my kid has more “virtual” friends than friends IRL (in real life for those of you who do not speak text-hand). I just read a quote that said, “The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of doing something and failing.” It stopped me in my tracks not only in the context of voting or boycotting something but in investments, planning for retirement, teaching our children to speak and do for themselves, the list goes on. 

Something will happen that will force our hands. Far too many of our daily processes and payments are online so I don’t see us going back to a time without this technology, even American currency is being considered cumbersome and obsolete by some businesses, but maybe? Then the question was posed, can we truly be manipulated or do the majority not care if their data is made public? One may not care if their data is public domain, but the fact remains, we can and are being manipulated, even many who are highly educated. The human psyche is far too complex to be funneled down into simple A or B categories. If you have not seen this film, check it out, the more we know the easier it may be to take action. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

More Lake! More Summer! More Friends!

Remember my post about not being ready for summer to end? Well, I meant it! LOL! I'm still soaking up the sunshine (lots of sunscreen!) and love the time when our friends come out on the boat with us. Of course, lots of people say they want to join us but can never seem to make it work when we put the invite out to them. It's okay, the people who really want to come, make it work. It's interesting that some people would never imagine asking us if they can come while others will text us regularly asking what the boat schedule is for the week.

Dave has a hard time telling people they can't come, but I don't. It's just that there are times we have plans to be on the boat with a specific group of people and they expect that they will have time with us without the company of someone they don't know. I just let those people know, we already have plans with others but we'll be sure to make it happen another time. I think I'm just too old to play games and have to worry about keeping quiet or being careful that someone who wanted go didn't get to, and then they see that we were out with someone else and might be upset that we told them not this time. It makes me laugh, it's our boat, we do not need to be emotionally wrangled by an acquaintance. In any case, it's 100% true that 95% of the people who say they really want to go, don't really want to go. They like the idea of going more than actually doing it. For those who actually come with us, it's so super fun! We might bust out the big floaties, or a tube or one who wants to wakeboard or wake surf can partake in those as well. For me, I prefer to just float and bob! I know we have another month or two but schedules get busy so we end up spending less time on the boat and lake.

Monday, August 12, 2019

This & That

There were a couple of other things that were special last weekend while we were in Southern California, one of them was that Dave participated in a salsa making contest at the OC Fair and took second place! It was live on stage and he made us proud! LOL! Okay, it's not some epic thing, but I love that he participated. What was especially funny is how many people thought I meant a Salsa Dancing contest! 

The other thing that was great was that Mason and I took another photo on the beach being "Open" to all the universe has to offer. This one is being compared to last year so the difference is subtle, but you can see that Mason has officially passed me and is absolutely taller than I am. It's okay, I knew it was coming but in the 10 years that we've been doing this, it's super cool to see 2009 compared to 2019. 

This week was busy, I had lots of adventures in real estate. I am working with a family who has an uncanny knack of wanting to see properties that go beyond the north 40! We have been through national forest land, off-road for more than 5 miles, and one property was not only off-road, but it was way up a hill. I could swear I heard banjos when we looked at the last one! Sunday was a l-o-n-g day! We looked at a property that was what felt like at the end of the earth, and then 4 more not so "far out!" I got home in time to get Dave to work as we are currently sharing one vehicle and then to put this lovely little “SOLD” sign on my property closing this week. Next, I got groceries, and then home to grab Mason to go with me back to where Dave is working so he could walk home with me since it was then after dark. The bonus was that we walked the dogs tonight. Work is still not done but I’m tired so, sweet dreams!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Southern California With Family

 I am so overwhelmed with incredible good emotions. When karma serves us a blow we know it’s for some sort of thing we’ve done as a consequence (bad). What is it when karma serves us up a plate of, “This is incredible!”? It must be that thing when you’re getting a pay back for the good you’ve done. Friday meeting Michael and Sari for lunch was a quick stop, but a great meal with lots of smiles. Then Saturday we spent the day at the OC Fair and as usual, it was so well done, the grounds were clean and manicured, and the exhibits are top-notch! Mason only had one cooking demo and we all got to meet Sari’s parents, they are just the sweetest, most sincere people. Patty and Robert love Michael like their own son and you can see it in the way they talk to and even look at him. The day was absolutely off the charts awesome. So much love, so much joy, so much gratitude. How did I get so lucky to get to have all of this come my way? And ultimately to look at my marriage, Dave is somebody who welcomes all of this, and Mason as an incredible kid... I just don’t know. It’s almost beyond my realm of comprehension that I could be so lucky. I’m grateful and appreciative, and whatever the other words are to express my joy are, I’m them, too. 

Sunday Dave, Mason and I all went to Los Angeles where we each had something we wanted to do. Dave wanted to visit the Drumm Barracks, a Civil War site, Mason wanted to go to the Rip N Dip and Supreme flagship stores, and my stop was to have lunch at the Original Farmer’s Market. Dave and I did not shop with Mason but I think shopping was the hi-light of Mason’s trip. Back to the Drumm Barracks, did you all know about the Camel Experiment during the Civil War? I didn’t and it was the most interesting part of the tour! I’m not going to write a whole bunch about it, but if you are interested in what I think are some little known facts about the Civil War, look up the Camel Experiment. 

Early this morning Mason got up and met Michael and they headed to the beach to go surfing. Dave, Sari and I met them late morning and it looked like they had a great time. It was fun to see both of them surfing, hanging out, laughing, it was just good. We wrapped up at the beach and had lunch before heading back up to Glendale. We had dinner in China Town and it was just good family time. I hope it’s time together that is the first of many adventures. If you know me, you know that I find so much joy in the every day, the normal, the mundane, I believe that the memories that we will look back on and enjoy the most are the everyday interactions.

The weekend was really good, in fact, it was better than good. 
It’s just all so much, so much to comprehend and process. I’m happy, complete and content, and more happy.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Goodbye July!

This was a busy week and I can't believe that July is already over. We had fun at the State Fair, spent lots of time on the boat, I taught a kids summer acting camp, and  I managed to squeeze work in as well. Now we are moving nicely into August. I'm super excited because later this week we are on the road to Costa Mesa where Mason will cook at the OC Fair and this year, not only is Dave going with us, but we have time scheduled in to spend some time with Michael J and Sari.

We will travel south on Friday and meet Michael and Sari for lunch at Real Food Daily. I can't wait for Dave and Mason to taste vegan food that tastes amazing. After lunch, we will head to Costa Mesa and check in to the hotel. Saturday Mason is scheduled to cook and Michael, Sari and Sari's parents are coming to see Mason perform and spend some time with us at the Fair. Sunday night, Michael and Sari will come back down to Costa Mesa and on Monday, Mason and Michael are going surfing together. I am tickled that the two of them will be spending some time together, just the two of them. I know that this is really weird for Mason so the two of them having opportunities to talk and get to know each other I think will help ease the odd feelings. I'll let you know how it all goes next week.

School starts for Mason on the 13th of August and I'm glad to get back to a routine, but I am not ready for summer to be over. I need more time on the lake and boat, I want more sunshine, and I love the long days and warm nights. I've not slept outside as much this summer, and Dave and I have not gotten around to finishing the deck (we need to stain/seal it) so that means we have not set it back up. We got Mason a new bed so the trundle bed is out there but it's not a real living space. Maybe that will be a project I can do while Dave and Mason are at their game conference on Labor Day weekend. We'll see. Until next week, happy Monday!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Parenting is SO Hard!

Being a parent is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's also been the best, most rewarding, and emotional journey I've ever been on. It seems to me as we head into the eye of the teenage storm that there is no right way, this is the "you just can't win" phase of parenting. If you are an absent parent, a parent who is more into yourself than you are into your kids, or the parent who is technically there, but puts yourself first in terms of things and experiences, your kid as a teen will recognize that they are not your priority. Of course there are people who struggle with addictions or other issues that limit their ability to be the best parent they can be, even if they want to do better. There are parents who are overbearing, abusive, and crazy overprotective. Even for parents who make their kids their priority, they provide them with opportunities from a very early age, they participate in a healthy home life with relationships that support teamwork, travel for personal growth, sports, success, and fun, and lift their kids up with affirmations of all they can do and tell them daily they love and are proud of them. The teen will of course easily recognize the less plugged-in or abusive parents as those who don't care, they may feel not loved or even that they don't matter at all. We can all see that, but what about the latter group of parents? For me personally, it's been a rude awakening that there is no winning when young humans reach this particular age range and time in their human development. For those of us who have spent the last 15 years encouraging our kids to try, to do things that scare them, to foster a healthy self-esteem while also teaching them to be humble and kind. How on earth do you not cry when your child shouts at you that you are holding them back? When you voice that you think they would be crazy good at "fill in the blank" and they gasp with, "Why do you want to put me in your box?" What box? I'm simply noting that I believe in you, sharing ideas for how your personal strengths can work into different career paths. It's been so hard to not cry when your child who used to hold your hand, wanted to cuddle on the couch, and share their ideas with you only wants to get as far away from you as they can. Just a parents mere presence in the same room as said teen will elicit eye rolls and a heaviness in the air that just sucks. I know it's normal. I know it's just a phase and all the time we spent encouraging them and lifting them up will come more clear to them as their brains fully develop. In their 20s they come back around and acknowledge that they love us and appreciate all we've done, but until then, this really sucks! sigh...

Monday, July 15, 2019

My Bad Day is Not So Bad

Today has been a day! Lots of juggling, details rapidly changing, people agreeing to one thing and then changing their minds and deciding not to keep the commitment. Buyers who are NOT my clients (I represent the seller) calling me to discuss the house, what? I had to shop for a new dryer when the dryer that I am replacing is still new in my mind, only 3 years old. That presented challenges that are just too bizarre to even spell out here. I went to get the dryer and wouldn't you know, I blew out my flip - flop! All of this is a nuisance... but it's like being pecked by a chicken, not deadly, but painful! Too much is just too much. I want to be a good person, I want to help not only the people I love, but anyone who needs it and I have it to give. It gets harder and harder when agreements are not kept. I know this sounds like complaining but it's really more an acknowledgement of how good I have it. I have close friends who are dealing with serious cancer diagnosis, others who are barely surviving each day because of chronic pain, depression, and suicidal tendencies, and others who are working SO hard, sacrificing everything to get the education to start the second half of their lives. I am lucky, my bad day is a walk in the park for anyone in fear for the lives of their loved ones. Tonight I am going to sleep thankful. Thankful for so much including the friend who has my back, who bridged the gap between my current financial situation and my next escrow closing so I could get a new dryer, that my hubby and son are on vacation together at a national game convention, thankful that all my people are healthy.

I really am grateful, and I will keep being me no matter how others show up or don't show up. How I behave speaks to who I am, how others behave speaks to who they are... I say this to Mason all the time, so I will start my day tomorrow taking my own advice. Sweet Dreams friends, there is always something to be thankful for. Oh, and on the note of my flip-flop breaking, there was a thrift store right next door so I popped in and got these little lovelies for just $5 each! BRAND NEW! How's that for a way to turn this day around?

Monday, July 8, 2019

Congratulations Jennifer!

Huge CONGRATULATIONS to one of my best friends Jennifer Taggard who graduated with her Bachelor's Degree today!! This woman has come such a long way since we met at Sierra College a number of years ago. She is a phenomenal woman, a force of determination, loving, compassionate, funny, strong, and a bright light in my life. Jen, this degree is certainly an accomplishment, but you already are and have been so much more than enough even without the piece of paper. Love you girl!

I’m completely pooped out! This week I was teaching kids acting camp, and then in the afternoon, back to back cooking demos at the State Fair. It was all about "Fun with Food" and cooking with kids. Homemade ranch dressing, salad on a stick, no bake cheesecakes with fresh fruit, English muffin pizza, and a banana smoothie. My feet are throbbing and my knee is aching but it was a phenomenal day and week of acting camp!

On the motivational note, words are not "just" words or sounds. They have meaning, not only in the words themselves but in why you choose them, how, when, and where you deliver them, but most importantly why. Are you communicating to make yourself feel better, to create effects on someone else, or to really elicit positive productive change? Ask yourself next time you have an important conversation, "Why do I want to say this?" You might be surprised how often you choose different words, or even to not communicate at all.