Friday, December 30, 2011

You Tell Me

So you've heard about my favorite moments of 2011 this week. Now you share your favorite moments with me. If you have a blog leave a link, if you don't leave a comment and tell me what was your favorite part of 2011?

I thought this would be a fun way to get to know my readers and host a link party. I will read all the blogs that link and leave comments.

So let's hear it, what was your favorite moment of 2011?

Grab the code and put it on your blog post

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Review: Royal Wedding Mania

Everyone knows my true favorite day of 2011 but I had to share my other favorite non-personal day. The day of the Royal Wedding was amazing. The mania started the day Wills and Kate announced their wedding and built to a fever pitch the day of the wedding.

 I made fascinators with my friend Rachel and daughter Elizabeth while waiting for the wedding. We stayed up all night long snacking on some of the many gifts sent to me by friends around the world. YES, I got gifts for the Royal Wedding!Did you get gifts? That is how crazy things got for me.

 I was gifted a plate and mug, a Di ring reaction, a Big Ben clock, paper cups from Di and Charles wedding, two commemorative coins one from Di and Charles wedding and one from Wills and Kate's wedding. I was also gifted tea and cookies to eat during my party!

 We stayed up all night long and it was truly amazing. I was receiving texts and tweets from around the world. It was a worldwide party. Truly one of the best days of 2011.

 Here are some of my Royal Wedding blogs

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 in Pictures

A few months ago, Marty came to me and played this song from the Zac Brown Band "Free", he went on to explain that is how he feels now that he has been transplanted.

We were free of dialysis, constant phone calls from doctors and many of the burdens we had been facing. The first picture in the slideshow is pre-transplant since he lived 11 days on dialysis this year.

We were free as we will ever be and have the pictures to prove it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One of the Best Year's of My Life

2011 has flown by! Seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2011. The end of last year wasn't a good time for me personally. I was tired, weary and worn out. In fact, I broke a tradition and didn't write a end of the year blog as I usually do. I was so overwhelmed with life it probably didn't cross my mind.

2011 will forever be remember as one of the best years of my life. It broke a five year long streak of bad years and was glorious. The first 10 days really weren't great but the next 355 were wonderful. I would say we really started living again on January 11th when Marty got the call. We had stopped living life way back in 2006 and really never could get our head above water.

This year we LIVED! We haven't stopped going since the minute Marty left the hospital and especially since we came home on February 14th. We started biking daily, reconnecting friendships, eating new things, making new friends and seeing new places.

The Packers won the Superbowl, We once again  traveled to the Amgen Tour of California, I saw my first love live in concert, I started swimming again, Elizabeth did a triathalon, Marty stopped taking insulin, Conner played water polo.

Our highlight as a family was traveling to Georgia, seeing new places, friends and family. It truly was a wonderful vacation and getaway for our family. The kids and I traveled to Yosemite will our good friends Heather,Kenny,Chris and Chloe.

I don't want to be redundant, harpy or annoying. It has to be said, the impact has been too powerful and it really has changed our life.

NONE of these things wouldn't have happened without the choice of a complete stranger. A parent or family member on the worst day of their life made a choice. They made the choice to donate the organs of their child,sibling, friend. They made a choice to give something to a complete stranger. How many of us could do that? I have to say it, because it completely overwhelms me. I carry that with me every single day. Every time I laugh, take a deep breath and look at my husband, I think of this choice. I don't think any amount of preparation would have prepared me for this. I'm constantly overwhelmed with gratitude.

Soon I will let you hear from Marty. I think he will be making a guest blog soon and tell you from his heart how he feels.

If you would like to look back at past years New Year's posts, here they are;





2010: It was bad. End of story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

As long as we have been married and sent cards, I've written a Christmas letter. The last few years, I 've just posted the letter on the blog. I like having them all in one place. Here is the 2011 version:

D- is for donor. January 11 at 4:45 pm came the phone call we were waiting for. A donor that matched came available for Marty. Almost a month to the day that God had told Elizabeth the call would come. We rushed to Stanford scared, worried and excited. 8 am on January 12th Marty was transplanted with a new pancreas and kidney from a 18 year old donor.

Nothing could have prepared us for the changes and joy this would bring to our life. We are so thankful to all the people who prayed for us, waited with us, stood by and held our hand. This Christmas day pray for the donor family who will be missing their child. We are eternally grateful to them for giving the gift of life to our family.

O-Old. Conner is now 14 years old and in 8th grade. He played Water Polo this summer and loved it. He enjoys watching Cycling, going to pro-cycling races and riding his bike most of all. He is always making us laugh and a very handy young man. He can fix almost anything around the house and is a big help. We find it very hard to believe we are parents of a teenager who will be able to drive in two years. Makes us feel very old even though we are still very young.

N- Normal. We just love normal everyday life. I can never get tired of saying that life is boring, normal,mudane and slow. We don't miss the dialysis, worry, sadness, dark times at all. We enjoy each and every day Marty is well.

A-A new endeavor. I ( Julie) have recently started swimming with a local swimming club. This all started after meeting Janet Evans on Twitter. Her endeavor to return to the Olympics at 39 inspired me to get fit. I get up every morning workout after Marty leaves for work. In the evenings I go swim with  kids that are 12-15 years old. I have been enjoying being back in the water and working out.

I've also been working very hard on turning this blog into a job. Inspired by a friend who blogs for a living I have been trying to follow her plan to gain advertising. So far its a lot of hard work that I hope soon pays off. Now that life has changed I have several goals and plans for myself to accomplish. I feel as if life is a blank slate and I can do anything I want.

Another highlight was seeing my first favorite band Tears for Fears in concert on my birthday. I had waited 20 plus years to see them live. It was such a magical, happy moment.

T- Travel. Oh how we love that we can travel. We now understand why we couldn't travel before, we had to get to Stanford as quick as we could. We lived at Stanford for a month, then traveled once a week for a month, once every two weeks for a month, then once a month until August. In October we took our first family vacation in 7 years.

We traveled to Texas,Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Colorado. We had a great time seeing friends, family and new places none of us had ever been. It was so fun to be free with not a worry in the world. Marty's favorite part was the Georgia Aquarium, Elizabeth's favorite part was the Georgia Aquarium, Conner's favorite part was seeing Hincapie sports and World of Coke, Julie's favorite part was seeing her friends, Sarah,Kim, Melissa, Danielle and her family in Tennessee.

E- Elizabeth is 11 years old and in the 6th grade. She competed in her first triathlon in May something she decided to do all on her own. I helped her train and she did great on the big day. We couldn't have been more proud of her. She also played tennis throughout the summer something she really enjoys doing. She loves to read books, hang out with her friends and baby our dog Oscar. She is a very creative young girl with a sharp wit. She comes up with the best one liners!

L- loving life. We are just living life to the fullest. Again, it may be repetitive, redunant and get old but I will NEVER stop enjoying saying it. We are trying new things, going new places and planning for the future. The minute Marty got sick our life changed. Suddenly we realized that in the past, we had let little things bother us and steal our joy. Now that Marty is well, we don't sweat the small stuff and just enjoy each day.

I-in March Marty and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a trip to Stanford for Marty's monthly check. We did go out to dinner and had Pinkberry for dessert though.

F- Family. We've been able to see our family more this year. We were able to see Marty's aunt Sheila for the first time in 5 years and meet her new husband Rick. We were able to travel down to Southern California just this month to see our family there. We've also had several visits from Marty's mom this year.

E- Every time we are happy, we remember that this is a gift from God and the kindness of a stranger. If you have never thought about being a organ donor we encourage to think about it. We cannot give back enough or say enough about how it has changed our life. We look forward to becoming ambassadors with Donate Life next year. We also encourage you to visit and register to become a donor.  We hope someday we can help another family like someone helped us.

We wish your family a very merry Christmas. This year our family will have a VERY merry Christmas celebrating the gift of Jesus, the gift of life and the gift of love.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Liebster Award

Yesterday I got a tweet from my friend Stacy from Finding the Purpose in the Pain. She had received this blogging award and shared it with me also.

I was really touched and even more excited to pass it on.

Here is what she says on her blog about the award "The Liebster award ("Liebster" is the German word for friend or love) originated in Germany. The aim of the award is to bring attention to blogs with fewer than 200 to 300 followers."

 To accept the award I am supposed to also honor 5 blogs (with less than 300 followers- and a couple just because I wanted to)

So please check out these blogs and help them grow!

C from ( What a beautiful story of a wife's love for her prodigal husband)

Bethany from ( What a great new friend made through Stacy. This girl is going places)

I just love Becky Jane from What a amazing lady. I am thinking of asking her to guest blog soon. She is so close to 300 followers. Maybe this will push her over!

I love this girl Felicia. She is a great commenter and even joined up for NaBloPoMo this year. Definitely a funny blogger with a witty sense of humor.

The next two are just for me personally. I love these ladies and they are synonymous with me and blogging. I  can't do something like this and not share it with them. They are my sisters of the heart, fellow Breakfast Club members and dear friends.

Of course, I think everyone should follow my friend Di from she is a crazy lady, a sister of my heart and one of the reasons I blog. She was one of the first blogs I read and I wouldn't be where I am today without her encouragement. I want to be her when I grow up.

That being said, THE reason I got into blogging and hands down the best blog I read. My dear friend and sister of the heart Andrea. She is the best writer I know, she is practically a inventor of blogging and always writes the most amazing posts. This blog wouldn't exsist without her. She will probably hate me for doing this but its a must read blog:

Thanks Stacy for such a nice honor and for being my long time friend.

 Here are the guidelines (I got from Finding Purpose in the Pain) for accepting the award:

 Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. Post the award on your blog. Have fun and share the blessings! Save the Liebster image to your computer and upload it to your blog.  Anyways you get the idea! Just a fun way to introduce my readers to new blogs and encourage the above bloggers to keep writing and sharing. What are your favorite blogs?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parenting Through Crisis

One question I frequently get asked is how did we guide the kids through Marty's illness? Now that things are better I can blog about this topic and share our advice.

We were honest from the very beginning. Elizabeth was 7 years old and Conner was 9 when Marty was diagnosed. We explained in terms they could understand. Their first fear was that he would die. Of course, we couldn't promise that wouldn't happen but explained we had to trust God for everything.

I remember spending a evening with them in my bed crying. It was tough for them to process at first and we did a lot of praying. As time went on they as well as we accepted the diagnosis. We adjusted to our new life and took it all in stride.

There were times they worried, when they did they came to us and we prayed together. I think hiding things would have compounded the issue. That way they knew nothing was being hidden and they didn't have to hide their feelings from us.

Constant dialogue and open communication is key. They went with us to appointments, helped with keeping dialysis supplies stocked and understood times when we had to go away.

Truthfully, the hardest part wasn't until the very end. When Marty was transplanted and they had to stay away from us for a month. That was the hardest part and the thing they struggled with the most. Thankfully we had many family members and trusted friends who were there for them during that time.

Prayer, honesty and open communication are key. Hiding and sheilding them would have only compounded issues. It was something God ordained in our lives and they had to learn at a young age to trust in him and walk through difficult times.

I hope this serves them well later in life. I think they both will handle tough times in stride and weather storms a bit easier. They've learned life lessons that most kids their age haven't. They are still just kids who love to be kids. They just understand how to deal with difficulty situations when they arise.

Maybe this will help others facing trials and tribulations. We did the best we could under pressure and the kids seem to have survived just fine. We directed them to our heavenly Father and taught them he is sovereign and in control.

"Train up a child in the way he should go and he will never depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just Jules Fitness Goals

So as everyone knows I've been working out recently. The main reason for working out is to improve my health and to do something for myself. I'm not doing it for anyone but me. I've been enjoying challenging myself and inspiring others to do the same.

I decided to set some goals for myself to focus on. One goal is to lose 50 pounds by August 12th which is the end of the Olympics. My workout out buddy Janet is trying to go to the Olympics and so I thought my goal would be to lose weight by that time.

I would also like to lose 70 pounds by the end of 2012. That will be one year from starting this challenge. Another goal is to compete in a triathlon by the end of 2012. I am going to search to find the perfect one for me. Since I already cycle and swim, I think that I can add running into my training and get ready to do a Tri event.

I hope this time next year, I can blog that I achieved these goals and set new goals for 2013.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Celebrating my 20,000 view!

I am a lover of numbers and stats. So it was a very exciting moment to hit 20,000 views on my blog tonight. Thankful to my readers who read along and share in our family's life. I thought 10,000 in June after five years was a big deal. So 10,000 in 6 months just blows my mind. Thanks everyone for reading along!

A funny Conner story

It's been a long time, I rarely blog Conner stories anymore. He's growing older and still just as fun but I don't want him to get mad at me for oversharing. I know everyone loves a good Conner story

We were driving to Southern California last weekend, I was driving and Marty was reading our mail. We had gotten a Roger's Jewelers ad in the mail. Jokingly Marty says "You're getting a Pandora bracelet for Christmas. I know you've always wanted one."

No offense but they aren't my cup of tea. So I said, " I don't like the Pandora!"

Conner pipes up from the backseat, " You don't like Pandora? I LOVE Pandora."

Marty and I both say, " Buddy, you don't know what we are talking about!"

He replies, " Do I need to whip out my tablet?? I have lots of stations and listen to it all the time."

Elizabeth, Marty and I were hysterical. He totally didn't get we weren't talking about the music streaming site. Marty handed him the ad and said, " read this, you will figure it out."

Oh Conner! Always a source of a good laugh.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Check out my guest blog on Swanky Baby

Once again this week I did a guest blog for I wrote about making Christmas cookies which is a family tradition that has been passed down. I also wrote about how I put a educational spin on it in the past.

Swanky Baby is a great blog for mother's of young children, she posts the latest news in child rearing, baby fashion, toys, advice. All geared toward parents of babies and toddlers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Need Prayer?

The last couple of days I have felt a heavy burden on my heart to have a prayer request blog. This time last year, I could only pray for my husband and our family. His health was in bad shape and a donor was desperately needed. So many prayed and lifted up our family.

This year, our life is pure joy and happiness. I praise God daily for the gift he gave our family and spend more time in that part of prayer.

Lately, I have had a couple of friends enter the hospital, one getting a heavy diagnosis and the other getting surprising news. I have been praying for the donor family, my friend Janeen who lost her husband the day Marty had surgery, my friend Fanette who lost her mom yesterday and my dear friend who said "goodbye" to her grandmother.

As I spent time praying this morning, I felt that I should open it up to others. After my morning workout, I do my devotions and pray before taking a short nap. I would love to add you to that list. You don't have to leave your name, my anonymous comments are enabled and God knows who you are. Just tell me pray or what to pray for and I will.

Giving back feels great and I love to lift my friends up before the Lord. I know so many have done it for me time and time again.

Phillipians4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Julie The Fish Designs

A couple of months ago, my friend Viviana asked me if I was the Julie in my town that made these cute custom necklaces? She is from Ohio so that surprised me that she asked. She had bought a gift for her cousin as a baby gift and thought she did a great job.

Of course, I am not that Julie! I am so not crafty at all!

When I needed a special gift for my cousin's baby shower I looked her up. She has a great store on Etsy with all kinds of custom stamped keepsakes. Of course, I had put things off until the last minute and missed the deadline for ordering before I needed it.

She rushed the order for me finishing it well before I needed it. She allowed me to pick it up locally instead of shipping it. It came in the cutest bag, wrapped in tissue and in a darling gift box. It was very well packaged and a great value.

Julie was so friendly, gave great customer service and provided a excellent product. My cousin loved the gift and I hope she wears it often. I most definitely will be shopping with Julie again and hope that all of you do also. She did such a great job that I told her I would most definitely write a blog promoting her business. It's hard to find great customer service these days and when you do, you should talk about it!

Julie's Etsy store :
Julie's blog:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Two Things I Never Thought I Would Do!

Swim with Janet Evans and put a picture of myself in a bathing suit up on this blog! Today I did both!

Last year while visiting my Dad in the OC, I read a story in the Register about Janet Evans making a comeback for the 2012 Olympics. I thought that was so cool and didn't think much more about it. Growing up in Orange County during her Olympic reign she was the hometown hero. I was a swimming for our high school and of course she was a inspiration. It was great news to hear she was going for it.

 During our Atlanta vacation in October, I told the kids the story her passing the torch to Mohammed Ali as we passed the Olympic Park. The kids didn't know who she was but I showed them a video because it was a goosebump moment in Olympic history.

Recently a twitter friend Melissa was tweeting about her love for swimming. We both are pro cycling fans and the season was over, she warned us she would be tweeting about swimming...A LOT. I said that was fine that I didn't follow swimming but used to swim myself. Then I said, " How is Janet Evans doing with her comeback?" and she promptly tweeted that I should follow her and included her twitter handle. I was floored when Janet tweeted back to us.

We had a few back and forth exchanges which led to me telling her " Us OC girls gotta stick together" and she invited me to swim with her. I told her I didn't live there anymore but maybe someday would take her up on that.

As I wrote before, she inspired me to start working out and doing something for myself. She has encouraged me and I like to encourage her. We both rise early for different reasons. Her early rising and working out has led to me working out instead of going back to bed. She is my workout buddy in the mornings!

So this weekend when I mentioned I was in So.Cal for a family function Melissa immediately tweeted Janet and I to ask if we were going to swim together. My first instinct was "NO! I am not ready for getting in a bathing suit in public." Melissa got Janet in on the tweeting and before you knew it, I agreed.

I didn't plan on swimming so I had to buy a new Speedo,borrowed towels and a backpack from my Dad. My cousins Alex and Randon swim so I borrowed a cap and googles from them. I actually was able to wear a Stanford cap that I had bought them while there for Marty's transplant.

I was nervous about the whole thing until I met Janet, she put me right at ease. I cannot tell you enough about how lovely,humble and graceful she is. It was one of those moments in life when you know that you were meant to know someone. She is my kind of gal and I just absolutely fell in love with her personality today. I think I made a new friend today.

 I had nothing to be nervous about at all! What a wonderful feeling to swim like that after 15 years of swimming for fun. It was the best workout that I have had in years. It felt so good to be in the water it was like the spark was re-ignited. Janet told me to get out whenever I wanted. I swam in the lane next to her and watched her pass me over and over. I enjoyed swimming next to her. What a great motivator! I swam for about a hour not sure the exact distance because I wasn't paying attention. Then I got out and watched her swim.

I am so glad that I listened, so thankful for this opportunity. Something I never in a million years would have thought I would do. I am actually sad I can't do it again tomorrow! I am on a mission to start a Master's club in my area now. I've been wanting to join one for years and was unable to. Then when I finally could there isn't one in the area anymore.

Today was one of those days when I realized my life is back in motion. My close friend Gaby said " You look so happy" in the picture and I told her " I am happy, I finally have my life back". Last year when everyone said this would be our year, I didn't believe them. Now you can all say " I told you so!"

I look forward to working out and meeting my goals for myself. I am also looking forward to seeing Janet accomplish her goals also. I can't wait to watch the Olympics this summer and cheer her on. Thanks Janet for being who you are and encouraging me, it really means the world to me!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guest blogger: Aida Brassington author of Between Seasons

Last fall, a Twitter friend of mine asked me to be a pre-reader for her new novel. I was thrilled to be asked and enjoyed the experience. At first, I was nervous because I generally don't read mysteries or ghost stories....ever. I fell in love with this story and the main character Patrick. Today I am pleased to have the author Aida as a guest blogger.  Be sure to go buy and read this book for yourself  details are included at the end of her post. 

The first really important musical moment in my life was when I was five years old. This dates me quite a bit, but my mom gave me Shaun Cassidy’s album (yes, on vinyl) for Christmas, and I played the crap out of that thing on a tiny cornflower blue record player. I was in love with Shaun Cassidy. To this day I can tell you exactly what the album cover looked like and sing every word to every song.

When it comes to music, it’s usually a part of the big moments in everyone’s life: first crush, first love, marriage, funerals. It also figured prominently in my novel, Between Seasons – both the writing of it and in my main character’s life.

Patrick Boyle, the main character, dies in 1970 at the age of nineteen. I don’t know many nineteen year olds who don’t really love music, and Patrick is no exception. As a way of setting Patrick’s character, choosing the music he listened to was critical – what he liked defined him. Now, Patrick is guy who dug The Doors and the Rolling Stones and The Guess Who. He would have been a much different character had he preferred Tom Jones, Elvis, Neil Diamond, or The Zombies, you know?

It doesn’t spoil the plot to tell you that Patrick becomes a ghost in his parents’ house, and he spends forty years alone in that house. How would you pass the time in this kind of a situation? In Patrick’s case, he reads the books he’s hidden throughout the house, and he sings – the music he knows is comforting. It’s one of the things he misses the most: being able to listen to music.

Who can blame him? I’d go crazy if I couldn’t sing in the car or block out other people on the subway or bus with the help of my mp3 player.

Obviously, music is peppered throughout Between Seasons, but I listened to music – the same music Patrick loved – while writing the novel. The really exciting part of that is I was able to include more contemporary music, too, since Sara Oswald – the woman who moves into Patrick’s house in 2010 – also loves music.

So what songs are on the Between Seasons playlist? “Through Glass” by Stone Sour captures a lot about the way Patrick feels throughout the novel. “Touch Me” by The Doors is on the list, which is sort of a funny shout out to the fact that Patrick is a ghost. Poe’s song “Haunted” is on there, as is music by the Stones, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan. More contemporary choices are Counting Crows, The Postal Service (“This Place is a Prison”), and Eminem. And when you get to a scene in the novel that references Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away,” do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube or Spotify or something – listen to it while you’re reading the scene. I heave out a dreamy little sigh just thinking about that song and that scene.

What about you? Do you listen to music while you read or write? If you write, do you use musical preferences to help you define a character?

You can purchase Between Seasons at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and you can find Aida on Goodreads,Twitter , and her website