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, September 16, 2019

Chasing The Bright Side

Good Monday Morning Friends! I'm reading an advance copy of Jess Ekstrom's new book Chasing The Bright Side and I am loving it! I know, you all will say I don't need to chase the bright side, I live on the bright side! You're right, and I'm able to live on the bright side because I will forever look for and find the good in people, situations, and life. That's what it's all about, believing that even though horrific things happen, good is always possible. I got my first, "NO WAY!" on pg. 13 so I'm pretty sure this will be one of the books that ranks in my top 10 for many years. 

Go pre-purchase it, it’s out to the public on Nov 5th, it will come just in time to get you through the holiday madness and it will inspire you to start the new year off chasing the bright side!

Monday, May 6, 2019


Before I get into this, let me preface that I wrote this last year when something happened and it felt, at that moment like the worst thing ever! I wrote this to post on social media and then did not hit "post." I did think enough of what I wanted to share to copy it and save it for a later, today is that time.

At what point in our lives do we recognize that there are good days and not such good days in our lives? Of course, we know that logically, but there are times when shit happens and we can't get out of the mindset that it is "THE WORST" thing that could happen. 

When life beats me up, I try really hard to allow myself to feel whatever is appropriate at the moment, but ultimately to try to move out of the really bad feelings, I remind myself that Mason is alive and well, Dave and I are being granted the privilege to grow older, and everything else is the stuff that we have to do our best to deal with and get through. 

Look at really old people and how they stay calm and encourage us to enjoy the people around us, work in our gardens, paint the picture, bake the cake and then eat some, and just know it will be okay. It may not be the same, but it will be okay. My granny is in my ear today, "Kahty, (that's how she said my name) this too shall pass. Here, let's have some tea and toast." And she would make me tea and sing a little song while she did it.

And before I get beat up for not fully understanding how bad it really is, I am writing this for me, to process my feelings, not about anybody else. I still feel bad about the way things go sometimes but I just can't stay in the, "how bad this is." Ask my husband and son, I prefer to look for the rainbows and butterflies that seem to surround me wearing my rose-colored glasses. I'm okay, just working through life stuff, I will do what I can to repair and or rectify the situation and then I have to release it.  

Friday, March 8, 2019

International Women's Day

Speak your love today and then speak it again everyday❤️🗣. To those women I know and get to surround myself with; I celebrate you, your hard work and your determination💪 For showing up and giving yourself to others each and everyday. When you thought no one was watching, I saw you😉. I learned from you. I continue to learn and be inspired by you. On this International Women's Day, I speak love to you!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Month of Love Day 29 - Juli and Preston Marx

Day 29 Month of Love goes to Juli and Preston Marx III. Juli and Preston are two of my favorite people on this planet. Like all my other amazing people our meeting comes with a humorous story. 

I purchased some readers from Juli on the yardsale page and she offered to deliver them to me. I gave her my (then) office address and she came in to see me. A little time later she sent me a message on Facebook and asked me about real estate and that conversation lead to another private message asking if we could talk. We did and she, in her sweet yet confident voice said, "Here's the thing, there is this house I want to see but my husband, Preston, he's a lawyer and very involved in our community and may have other friends who may want to be our Realtor. I can't promise that it would be you when it's time to buy, but do you think we could go see this house together?" I had to chuckle and I absolutely appreciated that she was honestly putting her cards on the table.

We went to look at that house, and then another house, and then several more houses! It was so fun shopping for their next home sweet home. They had a very specific set of criteria like all home buyers do and I was doing my best to find as many, if not all of the things they not only needed but wanted. I told them what I tell all of my buyers, "You have to see houses in person, you have to feel them. When you find the right one you won't need to compare what works and what doesn't. You will both agree that it is the right house and the things it needs or doesn't need won't matter, it will be THE house." I don't know how many homes we looked at when I got the call. Juli said, "I think we found our house! We want you to come to see it, will you meet us there?" Yep! I met them there and when I walked in I said, "I would have never even thought to show you this house!" Very little about this gorgeous home met their need/want criteria. 

I tell this story to almost all of my buyers because it is such the epitome of home shopping, maybe of life in general, the things we think we want are not always the things that we get and love. 

Juli and Preston have become two of my dearest friends. We went through withdrawals after their escrow closed because we weren't talking every day, that was especially hard on Juli and I. But we worked through it and we have been able to hang out when we get it on the calendar and don't allow other things to creep in. I got to celebrate a huge accomplishment in Preston's career by helping with the food, and Juli and the kids came over to help me put together bookcases when Dave and I moved into our new home. 

Both of these individuals are such giving people, they chip in and make our community a better place at every opportunity. They are like you and me in that they are super busy professionals and parents who make time when their friends need help. I love you guys, I am so happy we have each other and Juli took a chance and reached out to me...and for the record, we would still be friends even if Preston had promised the home-purchase stuff to someone else. :) MonthOfLove

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Month of Love Day 28 - Brandi Matteoni

Day 28 in my Month of Love goes to Brandi Matteoni. This girlie came into my life quietly, but that doesn't mean her impact has been any less profound. Our first date outside of seeing each other at Pete's was a project in my backyard. I was laying pavers while Dave and Mason were out of town for a long weekend. I take on these kinds of projects while they are gone so I can do it my way. Dave doesn't always believe me and he absolutely cannot see my vision of our household projects. Yet, when I get 'er done, he's usually pretty pleased. Brandi and I got it done, and talk about girl power, we even ran into Therese Beechler at Home Depot who helped us load more pavers in my car.

Brandi and I have had some fun! We've taken on weekend projects, filled orders for lots of t-shirts, she's taught me how to use my vinyl cutter, we've made gorgeous cookies, played poker, shopped for her store, and made super healthy meals, and some not so healthy ones, too!

Brandi texted me asking about backpacks for our local kids heading back to school. She spearheaded a drive to set kids up who might otherwise have to start school without the supplies they need. She organized it and made her shop downtown available for donations to be dropped off and also for parents to pick them up. It seems to me that it's often the people who don't have nearly as much themselves step up to give to those who have less. 

One of my most favorite stories of this friendship is the night she helped me administer an enema to Gunner. LOL! Yep, we believed he had ingested something he wasn't supposed to eat and I was determined to do everything we could do to avoid a vet visit and another possible surgery for Gunner. I tried feeding him the soup that would make him barf and he was not having it! I googled if it was safe to give a dog an enema and the answers were mixed... I tried to go to the store to get a suppository but they didn't have them. All that was left was the put-it-in-his-pooper and fill him up with the stuff! LOL! Brandi held his hair (LOL! I can't quit thinking that holding his head was the equivalent of holding his hair) and I did the dirty work. We expected an immediate and explosive reaction and it didn't happen! DOH! Now, this poor dog is not feeling good AND full of enema solution. I did the only thing I knew to do and that was to walk him. It didn't take long and he relieved himself. I had to go back with a flashlight to inspect and make sure there were no toys or socks involved. I still chuckle when I think about this night not only because Brandi stayed by our side, and because of what I put that poor dog through and he had not ingested a foreign object.

You all know about our escapades on the lake and the boat, we love our sunshine and summertime. If you get to spend time with Brandi and she tells you she doesn't cook, understand that "doesn't" is not the same as "can't." This girl can cook, but she prefers that you do it. ;) I love you girlie, I'm chomping at the bit for longer days with lots of sunshine and lakes that are full to the brim! Happy Month of Love!

PS This is not my last post, I still have some love to share with some super important people! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Month of Love Day 27 - My Mom

Day 27 in my Month of Love goes to my mom, today would have been her 89th birthday. She passed away a year and a half ago and we absolutely miss her. I’m the baby of five kids and my mom always joked that I was an accident. She would tell me how my dad went crazy yelling and screaming when she told him she was pregnant but then when he passed away, I learned he was over the moon to have me. Go figure!

Growing up, my mom and I were very close. I would say that being the last of five kids, she relaxed a lot and parented with more of a “go with the flow” attitude, in addition to wanting to do more with the last child because they are just that, the last one. I had a number of interests as a young girl and my mom supported most of them, mostly the ones she felt like she could support. I played little league baseball, I roller skated, rode horses, but more than anything, from the time I was eight years old, I wanted to be an actor. This is one she had no idea how to help me do so she told me I didn’t have what it would take to succeed in that industry. Before you judge my mom for not being supportive, let’s keep in mind, this was the 1970s and the women who were the ideals in the industry were Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Tiegs, and Christy Brinkley. I was a young tomboy, chubby, not so tall and nothing about my look indicated that I could make it in show business.

My mom grew up in Shanghai, China and spent several years in the Japanese internment camp as my grandfather was American. My mom met my dad, who was also an American Soldier and that is how she came to America. My grandmother and grandfather followed her immigrating to the US through Ellis Island. My grandmother and mother were so proud to become Americans, my grandmother was primarily Russian but also had some Polish heritage. From what I can tell, the immigrants of years ago wanted to be American, they didn’t want to reference their heritage. This doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate Russian Easter or have decorations from their childhoods, but they wanted to be known as Americans, they loved this country.

Though my mom did not have the wherewithal to help me break into show business, she tried to help me in other ways. When I wanted a horse, she told me if I saved enough money to pay for half, she would pay the other half. She never expected me to earn all that money over the course of one summer, but I did. Once I had my horse, she worked and saved her money to buy me the saddle I wanted. Yep, my mom’s full-time job paid for me to do the things I loved. Now before you go pointing the “spoiled brat” finger at me, know that at 14 years old I worked, too. I had to work at the ranch where my horse was boarded cleaning stalls to pay for her board, and the cost of a horse meant I didn’t have the latest and greatest when it came to clothes and shoes, I understood lay-away from the time I was old enough to understand that I tried on clothes that I didn’t get to take home.

She did the best she could. My dad and she were married to the day they each died, but they were no Ward and June Cleaver. LOL! She was, for the most part, a single parent in terms of us kids. She took us camping with her best friend and our neighbor, we took day trips to Mt. Diablo, San Francisco, Frontier Village, Marriotts Great America, Marine World, and she even took me to Hawaii and New York. It is still an oxymoron to me that she made some pretty amazing things happen in our life but always told me, “Kathy, there are have’s and have-nots in life. We are have-nots, we don’t have money to do the things your friend's families have.” I heard her but I didn’t believe her. I recall a Saturday morning that I got up early and had my mind set to go get a job. She asked me where I was off to and I told her, she replied, “It doesn’t work that way Kathy, you have to go fill out an application, turn it in, wait for a call back, go interview and then if they like you, they will call you to offer you the job. It takes weeks.” I looked at her with a blank stare. I went downtown and was home less than an hour later with my first real job.

Holy cow, this is a long post! My mom was something else, she loved her kids to a fault and I mean that sincerely. She blurred the lines in an all-out effort to keep the peace. This was not always a good thing, in fact, it bit her in the butt more than once. I think I am such a stickler about telling the truth because I saw how her “white lies” hurt her and our family. I would rather know the truth even if I don’t like it than have someone lie to me. I know she meant well, she just never really learned that lesson. Happy Birthday mom, I love you and I appreciate all you did for us, and how much more you did for me. #MonthOfLove