Friday, February 15, 2019

Month of Love Day 15 - Johnny

Day 15 in my Month of Love goes to my brother Johnny. He and I are closest in age in our family of 5 kids so it stands to reason we would be closer emotionally. Nope! Not so much! LOL! As young people, we had 5 years age difference between us him being older, so the last thing he wanted to do as a teen and young man was hang out with his little sister. In fact, like many big brothers, he would likely have rather eaten broken glass than hang out with me.

With that said, I do have a handful of funny brother/sister stories and I don't think he would debate or argue them. When I was 5 or 6, Johnny and I were messing around at home and he had an idea to give me a rocket ride. I didn't know what that was, but I was excited that he wanted to do anything with me so I said okay. For those of you who don't know, a rocket ride is where the bigger kid gets on his back and pulls his knees into his chest. The littler kids sits on his feet and he propels the littler one into the air for a "ride." I was the smaller one and I was so excited to be doing something with Johnny, I didn't even realize I was facing a wall as I sat on his feet. He propelled me right into the wall, he laughed and I cried! There was another time we were at a creek near where we lived and someone had tied a rope swing on the big tree. He and his friends were playing on the swing when I came over to play, too. His friends took off and he let me get on the swing, in fact, he helped me get on the swing and pushed me across the creek. Now, this creek was more than a little trickle of a stream, it was somewhat deep. He pushed me and then as I would come back to his side, he would grab the knot I was sitting on until I slowed down so much I was now just hanging over the flowing creek...and I caught on that I was stuck. He was looking at me snickering and I started to cry. That was more than he could take so he walked into the creek that was darn near waist deep and carried me out of the creek to the bank. He looked and me and said, "I don't know why you are crying, I'm the one that is soaking wet!" Finally, my favorite story he will get but it's likely you guys won't find as funny. Our dad worked from 4 PM to midnight so he would be home when we got home from school. When he didn't work, he would lounge on the couch and watch tv until he fell asleep. Johnny and I were having dinner while he was on the couch and he ripped a huge, loud fart! The two of us burst out laughing so loud, and he got mad, really mad! He did not think it was one bit funny, but the two of us could not hold our tongues. He sat up and sent the two of us to our rooms and we obeyed him, but only long enough to peek out our bedroom doors to make eye contact and start the uproarious laughter all over again! We were caught up in that laughter so much so, our dad got even more mad and stormed off to his bedroom slamming the door so hard it felt like it shook the whole house! We came out to finish our dinner and continued laughing.

Johnny and his wife Brenda live miles away like the rest of my family so we keep in touch on social media and an occasional phone call. Families are complicated and mine is no exception. I love that Johnny and I can talk on the phone and share our grown up adventures, his with his off-the-hook jeep, and mine with my little family and Mason's big life. He and his wife Brenda have started a new kayak touring company. Hopefully we can all get together soon and they can show us around their lake. I love you both! Happy #MonthOfLove 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Month Of Love Day 14 - Mason!

Day 14 in the Month of Love is pretty special, in fact, I think everyone thought it would be Dave but no, it’s Mason. I chose Valentine’s Day for Mason for a number of reasons, first, he was so wanted and conceived in love. I miscarried three times, once in Key West, before Mason “stuck,” that was no fun! So when we stayed pregnant, we were both over the moon. Secondly, Mason taught me that when I thought I couldn’t love any bigger than I love Dave, my heart grew fifty-two sizes! It sounds so cliche’ to say, “Just when you think you can’t love one ounce more, along comes your baby and WOW!” Finally, on this particular day, our society places so much emphasis on couples love, having another person to make you feel like you are not the fifth wheel, I want Mason to break free of those ideas and realize that he is whole just being him.

When you find a partner that you love spending your time with, enjoy all the holidays, have fun and celebrate with a kiss at midnight, flowers, cookies, dinner’s out, shamrocks, colored eggs, American Flags, pumpkins, turkeys, and Christmas trees. But even if you are not in love, celebrate those same things with your friends, even the kiss!! I want Mason to know that his sense of who he is, what makes him feel whole is up to him, he does not need another person to do those things for him.

So today I celebrate my big love for Mason, who he is, what he brings to Dave and me in our family, and how proud of him we both are. He’s a normal 15-year-old kid, he plays video games, doesn’t think he should have a bedtime, is doing some things I don’t like, and feels like he is more grown-up than he really is. I remember feeling that way, I was sure at 16 I could move out on my own and make my own way. Thank God my mom dug her heels in and did not let me, I would have been back at her door with my tail between my legs in less than 30 days! Mason is far better equipped in many ways than I was, but he is still not as equipped in other ways. I love his sense of humor and how kind he is when it has nothing to do with me. Yeah, he is poopy to me, he rolls his eyes when I talk to him about anything, he won’t listen to me but if "his" people tell him the same thing, it’s gospel, and he gives me the “Big Sigh” as if I am irritating him by my very being. It’s not always fun, but it’s normal. What he doesn’t realize is that I talk to "his" people and I let them know what I want him to know, it gets to him even if not through me. Us moms & dads, we have our ways. He’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to see what he does with his life, I know it will be a sight to see. Happy Valentines Day Mason, you have my whole heart in a way no other human can. #MonthOfLove

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Month Of Love Day 13 - Julianne

Day 13 in my Month of Love goes to Julianne Paulsen. Our friendship is unique in many ways but mostly so in how we met. Go back to the early days of social media, not so much MySpace, but Facebook and Twitter as the two initial most well-known platforms. I was working for a pseudo-celebrity entrepreneur and Julianne and I came together on Twitter through this 3rd party's tweets.

She's in northern Minnesota and I'm in CA, who could have predicted the shenanigans we would stir up? There were nights we had Twitter parties that went on for hours, think back to the olden days when as a teen you would lie on the floor near the phone (attached to the wall with a cord on the handset) and talk with your bestie, well, this was what was going on on Twitter. It started out as Julianne and I and grew to a group of entrepreneurs and inventors that we are all still friends today.

Julianne was in college and I had not gone back yet, this was in 2008. She also was in the process of creating a new business using the in-home party sales model and I was on the brink of what I thought would be wild success with ZipperBack Gloves. We collaborated, shared leads for platforms such as QVC, HSN, and more. We connected with some super amazing people, but the connection we made with each other is still thriving today. Julianne came to CA for stay with us while she developed and fostered relationships and I traveled to Minnesota to do the same. In 2012 I took Mason on a surprise trip to MN because Julianne and I wanted our kids to know each other. It's difficult to really foster a strong relationship with so many miles between us, harder for the kids, but this woman, she is amazeballs!! We met in Las Vegas and women smoking cigars drinking Mad Housewife wine, well, there you go - shenanigans! Neither of us found the crazy success we were hoping for with our businesses, but the friendship, sisterhood we have is worth more than any monetary number you could ever conceive. I love you sweets and I think it's time I answer my phone, "Good evennnning..." I miss our late night talks and laughter about the silliest things. I know I can share my feelings no matter what they are and I can confide in you with the utmost confidence that you have my back. Even more than all of that, I love that my boys love you, too. Both Dave and Mason want to grab the phone and hog you when you call! That's the best and the worst all at the same time!! Happy Month of Love Julianne, I love, love, love you! #MonthOfLove

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Month of Love Day 12 - Me!

Day 12 Love goes to me! Yep, This last 5 days has been really weird. I had some blood work done in preparation for an upcoming knee surgery and when I got the results back a few days later there were a number of "flags" on some of the different points tested, one of the most noteworthy was my hemoglobin was 8 and through learning a ton in the last 72 hours, they start doing transfusions at 7.9. WHAT? Since it was over a weekend, I sent the results to Julie, my personal medical adviser (LOL!) and she had a gazillion questions, but ultimately pushed me to first check with my orthopedic doctor, which I did and second, to get in touch with my primary care doc. She also asked about family history and my brother had a blood disorder and my sister actually had a form of leukemia as well. That did not make Jules feel any better. My ortho started asking questions like, "Aren't you tired?" Uh, yeah, but that's middle age and menopause, right? He said, "No, like really tired, like can you walk a flight of stairs without needing to rest at the top?" No. I made an appt with my primary care doc but I woke up this morning feeling odd like I was woozy and kind of short of breath. Jules told me to get my butt to the ER so I did, reluctantly. Dave is also checking with Dr. Google and I've gone from completely healthy to severely anemic overnight. After a short stay in the ER and another blood test, there are zero flags on my results and my blood looks great! I sent those results to Jules who informed me why she was being so pushy about following up and going to the ER, one of the things that came back on the first report was a strong indicator for a fast moving, usually terminal leukemia. YIKES! Imagine reading that from your best friend of over 40 years! Jules kept her cool and worried for me, for Dave and Mason, all while making sure I was doing what needed to be done. I think they mixed up my blood in the lab and where I got results that were really bad, someone who is not well, got results that they are making a miraculous recovery! I've checked with the lab to ask them to look into it and ultimately, I will request they remove those results from my record.

So today I love me, I love the woman I have worked really hard to become and keep becoming, I love my life, my little family, my best friend, our dogs, my tribe, the kitchen, my bed, oh, and my cookie cutters. LOL!! You get the point, I am incredibly grateful for this life experience I get to have with all of you! Thank you for being with me in this crazy little thing called life! #Monthoflove #SelfLove #LoveThisLife

Monday, February 11, 2019

Month of Love Day 11 - Steve and Ro

Day 11 Month of Love goes to Steve and Roberta. Steve and Ro have been friends of our family since before we were a family. Dave and Ro met through a newspaper singles ad, they met and liked each other, but not like that. I know, so many of you are still back at "newspaper ad!" LOL! Ro met her hubby Steve not long after meeting Dave and there were her sparks.

I met them when Dave brought them to a Grand Poobah when it was still a day event. In fact, the three of them came to spend the day with us, but since they were coming from San Jose, they made it a camping trip and Dave immediately suggested we make Poobah a camping weekend and the very next year, we were camping!

Steve and Ro have been awesome friends, we've been camping, river rafting, Oh, camping on the river! Now there's a story! We've spent Saturday Thanksgivings together, been to Lake Tahoe (again, you guys made that possible), Halloween parties, birthdays, and always made time to meet for drinks when Dave's mom was still living and we made more frequent trips to the bay area. There are absolutely more fun times than just what I've listed.

Let's go back to that river camping trip... we had talked many times about camping right on the river so we finally made plans to make it happen. We paid the small fortune to get a waterfront campsite, sort of, and got set up to relax. Two things happened on that trip that made it one of our most memorable life experiences. While we were relaxing after dinner, we noticed some activity down by the water. We went to see what was going on and there were some CalFire (I think) employees doing rescue training drills. Not only was it incredibly interesting to watch, Ro and Jules got in and played patients! Ro, did Steve participate as well? I can't all the way recall but I remember it being pretty exciting! After all that fun, we made our way back to the campsite where we were hanging out talking at the picnic table and fire when all of sudden we heard screams from a few campsites over, and then the site next to them and then the site next to us, and then... we saw a skunk running through the sites and I totally bailed on all of you!! Riley was crated and I left him to the skunk, Mason was sleeping on the cot next to Riley, I had zero regard for him, and I think I even grabbed Dave's hair to climb over the table to get as far away from Pepe Le Pew as I could! That poor little skunk just wanted to get where he was going as after us, the next campsite screamed, and so on! Dave and I still laugh about that when we drive through Coloma.

We are so happy to call you friends and have a reminder of how much you love us every day when we love on our Pencer Po. You guys are always there with a, "How can we help?" or just a funny card that comes because you are thinking about us. We are not nearly as good a friends to you, but please know that we love you and if we are invaded by skunks, Dave will absolutely stay and make sure you are all good. LOL!! Love you guys and hope to see you very soon! #MonthOfLove

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Month of Love Day 10 - Ty Rowe

Day 10 Month of Love goes to Ty Rowe. Ty is an Auburn local whose family roots run deep. He grew up here, graduated from Placer High School, left home and went to the Culinary Institute of America in NYC. He graduated and traveled the world before settling back in his hometown of Auburn opening one of our most favorite restaurants in 1994, Bootlegger’s Old Town Tavern. It was the place you went when you had a birthday, anniversary, or after a long weekend of moving and you just needed a great meal. Most people would not go to Bootlegger’s dressed in dirty clothe’s after moving, but we did. We did because we knew Ty and he just wanted us to feel welcome, eat amazing food, and go home happy. He didn’t care what you were wearing, what you did for a living, or where you lived, he just wanted to take care of you and have you leave your time with him feeling better than when you met. Okay, that was most of the time, because there were times if he thought you were full of shit, he would tell you to your face. If you didn’t like that and popped on Facebook to bitch about it, he would tell you publicly, too. It was not always easy but you knew where you stood with Ty.

We met when Mason wanted to put the new kitchen in at Alta Vista Community Charter School in 2013. Someone suggested we reach out to Ty to not only help guide us on how to do that, but also how to start fundraising. Ty met with Mason in late 2013 and asked him how much money he wanted to raise, Mason replied, “Enough to put the kitchen in at Alta Vista.” Yes, the simplicity of how a child thinks. Ty told Mason to get to it, start planning and talking about what he wanted to do and Ty said, “We’ll kick it off with a fundraiser at the restaurant. Let’s think Valentine’s Day, you sell tickets and we’ll plan a great meal with chocolate for dessert.” Mason and Ty were on a mission and though I said yes to Mason in terms of pursuing the project, Ty was one of the first “other adults” who said yes, too. The fundraiser was a lovely night raising over $2000 for the kitchen project, but even more than that, it started a friendship that became very meaningful very quickly. In July of 2018, he taught Mason to flambe’ for an upcoming cooking demo, Mason knew how, but it was not consistent. Ty got with him and said, “No dude, you need more alcohol, lots more alcohol! Rookie.” LOL! That was the last time we saw Ty.

Ty worked with Mason on recipes, he came and spent a whole day with him teaching him tips & tricks before he competed on Chopped Junior, and continued to be a sounding board for Mason when he needed time away from Dave and I. What I loved most about Ty was that he was true to himself, he would tell you to quit being a pussy, or that you were straight up wrong if that’s what he thought. He and I did not always agree, but he always made sure I knew he loved me…that I was wrong, but he loved me, LOL! He just made sure that we were 100% aware that he was there for us, day or night, no matter what. Dave and I were going through a tough time when his mom was sick and I popped into Pete’s after getting a text from Ty. “What’s up girl?” he would ask as he engulfed me in a hug. I told him I was sad, that Dave was struggling and I didn’t know what was happening. Ty laughed and said, “You cannot be worried about you and Dave.” I didn’t answer and he kept talking, “Dave loves you like there is no tomorrow. Don’t ever try to convince me that he has eyes for anyone else, it’s you girl, only you.” Yeah, he tuned in and made sure we knew it.

The beauty of this post is that so many people will say these same things about TY, not just us Partaks. I love how he loved us, I’m so grateful for the time he spent with Mason and how he made Dave and I feel like family. ‘Love you girl” is how he ended every phone call or when he left me when we were together. It’s hard to accept, even 6 months since he’s passed that he’s gone…our little town and even this small world are not the same without him. Ty left this world way too soon, but thank goodness he was here and we got to call him friend. Ty, you are an example that so many could learn from, you were an open book, “what you see is what you get” in the purest form. I love you man, I miss you every day, and I hope they have the finest dining, the best wine, and acres of God’s country for you to farm and grow your own amazing food in heaven. #Monthoflove #gonetoosoon

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Month of Love Day 9 - My Tribe

Day 9 Month of Love is a little less specific but not one bit less important. Today I want to love on my tribe, a group of men and women who are not always in the daily mix of my life, but they are absolutely there when I need them. I could name many of you, but I'm not going to because I don't want to leave anyone out. It's also because this group of people are people that I may have included or will include on an individual basis through my Month of Love. 

With all of that said, it takes a village to live in today's world, especially if you have kids. Even if you don't have kids, there are still times you need someone to meet a utility worker because you can't get off work, or you may need a ride home after dropping your car off at the mechanic. Kids make things exponentially more challenging with school schedules, sports, and other activities, medical appointments and sick days. I only have one kid and a husband who is in the mix ready to help, but there are still times we need help. I'm not sure how you all do it with 2, 3, 4, and more kids! And some of you do it with multiple kids and no significant other. We need each other, it's that simple.

I feel so very blessed that I have amazing friends, both men, and women who happily step up to help me and my family. It can be something as simple as grabbing a box from our porch so it doesn't get stolen to staying over in our house with our dogs when we vacation so they don't have to be put in a kennel. This post could be really long with all the examples of how I feel like the people in our lives step up and help keep us moving forward but I'm going to just leave it with the message that I am so unbelievably grateful for every one of you that show up in my life. If you show up for a minute and hold a door for me when my hands are full, or show up continually for years I feel like that is a wonderful gauge of wealth and prosperity. We've had lots of money, and we've been so broke we had to count change to put gas in the car. Money comes and money goes, but having real people who will help you roll your pennies is what life is really made up of. I love you guys, all of you even if for the fact I know I can call you if I need to. Happy Month of Love to my Tribe, I'm your tribe, too!