Tuesday, January 29, 2013

14 Years Ago Today

14 years ago today, we packed up our little purple Saturn, put a 14 month old Conner in his car seat and set off up the 99 to Visalia,Ca. Marty and I both grew up in Southern California and never had lived outside of  the area. At the urging of my sister Kim, we decided to pack up and move to live closer to her. I had always wanted to move to Visalia. Growing up we came here often to visit our beloved great aunt Pat and her family. I had spent many summers here and always wanted to be closer to her.

With our new found faith, we took the leap and moved away. We left our family and jobs behind to see if we could build a life of our own. The internet was in its infancy, very few people had email, cell phones were a luxury item and we had no friends in the area. I cried every day for a year, I was so lonely leaving my friends, I made many teary calls home to my Grandma's and mother. We had to live with my sister and that turned into a nightmare three days in. We were twenty two years old and had a lot of life lessons to learn, some I really don't treasure but am grateful for every single one.

Our first family picture on the St.John's parkway January 1999

We found jobs after three very long months, lost a baby, and got our very first apartment that June. It was a very, very hard move. Not something that I look back on with particular fondness to tell you the truth. I remember the day my Disneyland friends came to visit giving me a much needed boost. I slowly started getting to know people at work and church. Life was hard but we were making a way.

I got pregnant with Elizabeth half way into that first year. She was born in here and  has lived here her entire life.  We moved in and out of houses, left jobs, started new jobs. Made many,many friends who helped us out along the way.

Our now family of three on our first trip to the Sequoia's

Marty went back to school, gained a career. I had many great friends and eventually we made our first goal of me being a stay at home mom. We left a church, stayed out of church and eventually found a church that we loved. That church became our family away from family and life really began for us. Conner and I became cycling fans in this town. So many things have happened here in this little town which isn't so little anymore.

Now we are following new dreams, leaving to make new friends in a new place. So much has changed since we came to this town. We made friends, lost friends, gained a child, gained two dogs, gained life lessons some harder than others. We came here young and naive, we leave older and much wiser. We leave with many wonderful friends whom we are deeply indebted to and will always miss them. 

This place will always be home to us. It took me many years to start calling this place home and now I realize how silly that was. I wonder how long it will take to call Knoxville home? I wonder who we will meet there? What we will learn? and experiences we will have?

I find it so ironic that 14 years almost to the day, we are packing up to leave this place and moving on to new adventures. Funny how life has a way of repeating itself?

Last night at our friends house, I watched their son Zach walk out to our old purple Saturn which is now his car. I told him ''14 years ago tomorrow, we moved to Visalia in that Saturn'' it was really one of those life full circle moments.

We left our home once, now we are leaving our second home. I never imagined life would take us where it has taken us. So thankful it has taken us together, older,wiser,stronger and as a family. 

Wonder where we will be in fourteen more years? I can't wait to find out.

14 years later, our last photo on the St.John's

A collage of the kids at the Sequoias throughout the years

Full circle. Conner and Zach by the purple Saturn

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Series: Happy Birthday Olga

Today is my dear friend Olga's birthday. As you know, each year I select a few friends to write birthday blogs for and this one is long overdue. I really couldn't have written it sooner since she never had a way to see it until I made her a Facebook page!

I met Olga in 1999 when we both started attending the same church. I remember seeing her pregnant in church and thinking she was beautiful, shy and quiet. Eventually through our kids, I got to know her as a fellow young mom. Her son Chase shares a birthday month with Elizabeth and is exactly twelve months older than Elizabeth and 18 months younger than Conner. So we were always in Mops together or picking up kids from the nursery at the same time.

Through our kids we became friends. We used to have playdates for the kids, go to the same bible studies and just chit chat. I went through a very hard time, a true testing of my faith and learning experience and when I did Olga was right there for me. That is when we truly became friends.

Olga is an example that beauty isn't just skin deep. She is the most beautiful person on the inside just as much as she is outwardly. I love her kind heart, willingness to listen to others, pray for them and encourage them. She has encouraged me countless times throughout the years. She has always been there for me time and time again.

We eventually became neighbors and our kids went out of each others houses freely. I often joke that her son Chase was my third child in the summer. He would always be at our house during the early weeks of summer vacation. Chase is like a brother to Conner and Elizabeth, they have all known each other their whole lives.

Because our family lived away from our extended family there were many holidays that Olga invited us to spend with her family. From Memorial day and Fourth of July bbq's at her mother in law Pam's to Thanksgiving with her family in her home. She always cared if we had somewhere to go and checked in to make sure we had plans.

Through Olga, I learned many lessons in friendship. She taught me what being a good friend is and how to listen and pray for someone. We have taken many long walks on the St.John's parkway behind our houses. Listening to each other along the way while the kids got their energy out. Truly something I will always look back on with fondness in the years to come. I am crying as I type those words because I know this is something that I will miss dearly. Another reason to love the picture on the top of this blog, it is a place that I spent many days walking alongside a friend.

In recent years, I have been able to become friends with Olga's daughter Mackenzie. I truly hope that I can learn from Olga how to raise an incredible daughter. She is truly a reflection of her mother as a person of kindness and beauty on the inside.

My kids never could say Olga when they were little, they called her "Oga" and we still do refer to her as that in our house at times. She has been a second mom to Conner throughout the years, I know he will miss her just as much as I will.

Thanks for being my friend through the good, the bad and the sometimes really ugly. Thanks for being my shoulder to cry on, my prayer partner and my sister of the heart. As the years have passed by, I have treasured every moment and will for years to come. I will miss you more than words can say but know that I am never far away.

I will always be here when you need me, I am just a phone call away and maybe I can find someone in Visalia to call to tell you to get on Skype! ( Kenzie sometimes messages people on FB trying to get her mom to get on Skype!)

I love you Olga and I am so very thankful that God blessed me with you as a friend.

Thankful our kids are friends

The path walked with a friend is never lonely at all

We need a new picture

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just Ask Jules Series Two: ''How Do You Meet These People?"

I asked a few blogs back for people to send me questions to answer. I got a few questions but the same one kept coming up over and over. The second question is one that has been asked a couple of times on Twitter in the past day or so.

The first question is one I hear over and over:

 ''How do you know all the people you know?'' or ''I don't know how you keep track of so many friends?''

Well, I really don't have a good answer for that. I just meet people, it blows my mind as I get older how small the world really is. Seems like somehow we truly are all connected in some way or another? Funny story that happened today. A couple of years ago, I started a twitter to talk pro cycling with other fans around the world. One of the first people I met was Anita, she introduced me to many people. Turns out, I am moving near Anita and her family now. She introduced me to a lovely woman named Emilee who recently  introduced me to her niece via Twitter. Her niece lives in my new town in TN and we've been chatting back and forth.

Today the niece asked me, "Do you know Lee?'' she had just interacted with my friend Lee and has been to his store before. He mentioned to her his friend was moving from California to work with him. It turned out to be me! Such a small world.

It is hard to keep track of so many friends. The good news is social media makes it easier than ever and having a super memory doesn't hurt! When I moved to Visalia, email was brand new and really rare. It was so hard for me to leave and I felt isolated. Thanks to social media, I have tons of ways to talk to my friends and friends across the globe. The move to Tennessee won't be as lonely as when I moved to Visalia because everyone is in the computer no matter where I go!

The second question comes from Twitter;

 "What NKOTB shows are you going to?"

the answer is none! It is the story of my NKOTB fan life. Everytime they announce a tour, my life is in upheaval and I cannot go. This time I am in the middle of planning a move to TN. Now Marty is a patient guy and is used to my crazy Lucy ways but this time its a no go. We are moving, starting new jobs and now isn't the time for spending lots of money on shows.

Thankfully, I had two wonderful New Kids experiences last year that were dream come true scenarios. I really feel that I could never top either and am happy with them. If I get to go again someday, I will but it isn't a priority to me.  I just happen to talk to a lot of people that are really into that and I love listening to their stories and adventures. For me, I just have so many things to do and want to do many things spread over all my likes.

Good news, I get to see cycling in Chattanooga in May! I also am pondering running a 5 k with Jill and Kate in Nashville in April. Plus hoping to make time to explore my new area and see other friends I never have met or never get to see.

That's all for this edition of Just Ask Jules! Keep sending questions and I will do another round in the future.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

" You Gotta Accentuate the Positive''

Yesterday I shared on Finding Purpose in the Pain about my struggles in the past with worry and negativity. Since Marty has been well, I have struggled less and less as time goes on. This move has brought some of that back to the forefront and I have been fighting the urge to worry about it all. This year my goal is to focus on the positive and eliminate the negative just as the song says.

I got a great response to the blog right away in the morning and went off to work. Then I came home and started packing some more. I really was on cloud nine and then the phone rang, I really am beginning to hate the phone. My friend and new boss Lee called to say his Dad didn't know we had dogs and didn't want to rent to us. We were pretty upset and scrambling to find a new rental with our move coming up in less than two weeks.

Lee felt awful and stayed up late to help direct me to rentals. I stayed up late searching online and trying to find something suitable. My first instinct was..........worry, after all my writing and promising I went back to worry. 

I spent a lot of time in prayer and meditation last night. Thinking back on the past and how everything has always worked out for our family. I was pretty teary today as I worked, praying the whole day for peace and calm. Being in that place of worry that I had let go of wasn't a good feeling. It felt awful and I realize just how bad it is to worry. My faith was being tested and put to the test, was I willing to stand behind what I wrote and put it to the test? It is hard but the only thing to do. I cannot worry about tomorrow or the future. 

Everything has always worked out and we've never had any reason to believe otherwise. Came home, got ready to focus in and make headway and the phone rang. Lee called with good news and bad news, I said give me the bad news first. Bad news our rent goes up, good news we get to rent the house!! 

Relief with a capital R! I also got leads on other rentals in case anything else comes up or we find something better. I am so thankful to have that off our plate and have a place to go.

Now I am back to my learning not to worry. I surely don't want to feel the way I did today and remember why I don't like that place. Everything always works out in the end.

Focusing on the positive is so much better than worrying. Cutting out the negative makes such a difference and is worth the effort. Doing it is hard but worth it in the long run.

Today I've been singing this song in my head. Truly a favorite and my mantra for 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finding Purpose in the Pain: Worry is Like a Rocking Chair

Finding Purpose in the Pain: Worry is Like a Rocking Chair:  Worry is Like a Rocking Chair by Julie Timms They say worry is like a rocking chair, it gets you nowhere fast.    I’ve stru... Click on the link to read more of my contribution to Finding Purpose in the Pain today.

Learning not to worry is my plan for 2013 along with positivity. I would love to share any positive stories you may have on Just Jules this year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tennessee or Bust 2013:Controlled Chaos

We are very simple people who live a very simple life. We are homebodies who love being at home with our family occasionally traveling to visit family or friends. We love when friends and family come to visit us and have been told they love coming to our peaceful home.

Lately life has turned into controlled chaos. The kids are teenagers loving to bicker, Max our eleven year old neurotic dog is anxious because we are packing. I am packing, making phone calls, keeping on top of homeschooling, making appointments and trying to make arrangements for our move. On top of all of that, Marty and I are both working full time plus to fund the move. Life is really chaotic.

My parents barely saw me at Christmas, I worked their entire visit. My cousin Sarah came to visit and I had to work the whole visit. This weekend our friends Lindsey and Rob came to visit, I had to work around their visit. I think everyone now can see, it is time for us to move and simplify once again.

Really looking forward to the actual move itself. Taking the kids on a cross country road trip is a dream come true. I grew up making them with my family and cannot wait for Marty and the kids to have the experience. We are making a couple of stops along the way to see friends and some important sites.

Most of all I am just ready to be done with it all. The move will seem like a breeze compared to the planning stage. Excited to finally quit talking about it and just be done with it.

We got some great news two weeks ago, just so happens that my friend/new boss Lee found a rental for us. His Dad's renters are moving out just two weeks before we are moving to TN. It is a great location and exactly what we were looking for! On top of that, we got a notice that our Landlord here has been foreclosed upon and we are getting paid to move out. The amount was the cost of our moving truck! Everything is just falling into place. I have stopped worrying because I know everything will work out and so far it has!

Now the hard part begins, trying to see our close friends and family before we leave. Saying goodbye to our church family and co-workers. You can guarantee that I will have a very teary next three weeks saying goodbye to everyone. We will never be ready to say goodbye and particularly E is sad to leave her friends behind. We even took a farewell trip to the Sequoias with our friends Lindsey and Rob.

So much going on, little time to blog, call friends or even text. Bear with me this next month or so, if I seem distant it is just because I am overwhelmed.

Looking forward to a simple kind of life in Tennessee!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Postcard Sending Pastor

Two days ago, I recieved the above postcard from my Pastor. It says

" JT! I tell you what; If the Niners win, you stay in Visalia.....If the Packers win you can move closer to Green Bay...Deal?''

Sorry PR ( my nickname for Pastor Ron) no deal. If the Niners win, I will stay in Visalia for three more weeks how about that?

Pastor Ron is a treasure. He is what everyone person dreams of in a pastor. A true shepherd who loves his flock and knows them all by name. Ten years ago, when Conner was four and Elizabeth was two; our family joined Parkside Chapel and Ron became our pastor.

We are so thankful for his great bible teaching, for being a shepherd to our family through dark and light. For teaching and mentoring us as Christians. I am especially thankful for his taking me under his wing and helping me achieve goals in my personal ministry.

Many of you don't know this but he is the reason that I am Julesmpg. Six years ago, I wanted to start a mother's group and couldn't decide on the name. He came up with "Mom's Pursuing God" so that he could call it MPG for short. PR like myself has a penchant for nicknames hence the reason he calls me JT. Little did he know, I would build this blog and my social media presence with name Julesmpg. 

Jules, mom pursuing God. 

We are truly thankful for Ron and the church family at Parkside Chapel. As I have been packing to move, I have found hundreds of these little cards from Ron. He sends them to everyone with encouragement, congratulations or even in my case to get in on the football trash talking. I will miss getting these little postcards but know for years to come I will find them amongst our things and look back fondly. 

Thanks PR for being the best pastor ever. Someone in TN sure has big shoes to fill. At least I know you're just a phone call away. I know you are secretly glad that I won't hold up your communion services with my long speeches anymore. You've been a wonderful champion for this family and we will miss you dearly.

Year Two: Embracing Life While Dreaming of the Future

One year ago today, we traveled to Stanford for our normal monthly appointment. We celebrated one year with the doctors who saved Marty's life. We called our transplant social worker and handed her a letter for our donor family. We always knew that someday we would know our donor though we knew it was a longshot the family would reply.

Just over a month and half later, we spoke to our donor's mother Debbie on the phone for the first time. What a long emotional conversation that brought such peace and completion. We no longer have wondered who our donor was? We know his name was Jerry and he was 18 years old for 24 days. His final act in life was that of hero, he saved this family of four and showed thousands that miracles do happen.

Bolstered with those facts, this last year has been a year of planning and dreaming. I remember when Marty first got sick, one of the first things we realized is that we had wasted so much time. Yes, we had lived a very full and wonderful life. We had wasted so many years of our twenties worrying about things that weren't important. We spent so much time focused on jobs and money that we had wasted away some of the really great days of life with worry.

When Marty got sick, I realized the foolishness of my ways and set forth to no longer worry. Of course, that was difficult when he was sick and I had some really bad days. When he got well, the new struggle was to not worry about rejection and our new found freedom being taken away. We spent  year traveling to and from Stanford only once really worried.

As the first year passed and the completion of knowing Jerry brought life full circle. We set out to achieve our dreams born from adversity. These are dreams to live big, dream big and achieve things we have always wanted. These dreams are ones we refuse to worry about instead embracing our precious gift at a second chance.

We are fortunate to have this second chance as a family. So many people die waiting for transplant and never get this second chance at life. We have it and are going to use it.

So I sit in a house littered with boxes, lists galore as we plan to drive off east to Knoxville,TN next month and put this new life to use. We have to do this, for us, for our kids and for Jerry. Life is short, too short to just sit on our dreams.

Marty is healthy, still no complications. Everything is going well and for that we're so thankful. We are looking forward to having a transplant center to visit in our new town at the UTenn. It will be nice to not have to travel 660 miles round trip to see his care team.  Just another one of the reasons we are moving.

Thank you all for being there, listening, reading along and supporting us along the way. We're always grateful for the support.

Thank you Debbie and Jerry, our lives will always be lived for Jerry. So thankful for the gift you gave our family.

One year ago today, I registered online along with a dear friend of mine to be an organ donor. I had done it through the DMV but have been told the best way is to register through a donor registry. We are huge supporters of the work being done through Taylor's Gift. Todd and Tara Storch donated their daughter Taylor's organs and then have gone on to promote organ donation in her memory. We love the work they are doing on behalf of those waiting for organs. Please visit their site and register to be a donor.

Their slogan is " Be a Hero, Outlive Yourself' " click on the picture to be directed to their site.

A/N; I have chronicled our journey with transplant on this blog. You can read the entire story by clicking on the tab titled "Marty's journey with renal failure and transplant''  above

Friday, January 11, 2013

When the Phone Rings.....It Can Change Everything

Sometimes I am jumpy when the phone rings. I know all too well, that a phone call can change everything..........I still am on edge with the phone all these years later. I don't turn it off at night, though the feeling of waiting for that call has long passed.

A balmy May evening, a Wednesday evening to be exact we got a phone call that turned our lives into upheaval. Marty had see the doctor the day before and his blood work wasn't good. They wanted us to come in the next day. The next day, they diagnosed him with End Stage Renal disease, kidney failure.  He was thirty one and felt his life was over.

The next call was to tell us that Marty was listed for a dual organ transplant at Stanford University. The told us the wait would be one year. We thought it may come that fall and told everyone we couldn't do anything. I remember everyday past that one year mark felt like torture.

Once Stanford called on New Year's eve  to check in...........I remember my heart was racing and we thought this was it. They just wanted to check over everything and let us know they remembered us.

Then on my birthday weekend in 2010, Stanford called to tell us they were removing Marty from the transplant list for being "non complaint" because his doctor had a bad day and wrote that in his chart. It was a short battle to get him re-listed but horrifying none the less. Marty felt he had been handed a death sentence.

Two months later, the first glimmer of hope came when Stanford called to tell us Marty was second on the list and a backup for the transplant happening that day. It wasn't his turn that day  but he was next in line.

Twenty two days later,Two years ago today,  the phone rang at 4:45 p.m. on 1/1/11 and it was "The Call" and our lives were turned upside down. I shoved the kids out the door to Heather, called my friend Di to have her update Facebook and Twitter. Took the 99 to the 152 praying the whole way. It was a clear January night, we headed in the pitch black to the unknown.

Here we sit two years later, our lives have changed for the better. We were given a second chance at life that so many don't get. We had a positive outcome and now can live our dreams, take chances and embrace that second chance. Three months ago, we got another phone call of the very best kind and now are headed to TN to chase our dreams.

Bad phone calls can bring your worst nightmares alive. Good phone calls can turn that all around and bring glorious things you never imagined to reality.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guest Blog: Another Ski Season Begins

      One of my new found Twitter friends and fellow homeschool mom Teri shares about ski season in their house. Teri is a wonderful woman that I had the pleasure of meeting at the Mixtape Festival this summer. I am so grateful to know her and call her friend.

I never dreamed I’d live in a house where skis criss-crossed the floor, boots lay in piles and wet winter gear was draped over every available piece of furniture.  However that’s exactly what has happened.

     Ski season is beginning for us and my three children are slope junkies. As Homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to form or join ski clubs. These clubs meet at our local slopes, in our case Perfect North Slopes, once a week for a full day of skiing and snowboarding.

    Some moms ski, some don’t. We fellowship and play cards or board games. Many work on lessons or grade papers from the classes we teach in our local co-op. There are scrapbookers, stampers, knitters, cross stitchers, and a fair number of laptops scattered throughout the lodge loft. Most of all there are friends, tables full of them.

    Dozens of people camp out in the upper level of the lodge. The owners are business savvy. Getting these kids hooked on the sport at an early age and at a cost the parents can afford, virtually guarantees them customers for years to come.

     The cost of feeding everyone for an entire day of skiing would be prohibitive to say the least; therefore we are permitted to bring our own food.  Did I mention the owners are business savvy?  This translates to slowcookers at every electrical outlet (we regularly blow the fuses), coolers and snack bags. Various soups, stews and barbeques simmer, filling the place with delicious aromas. 

One week during the season we make hot sandwiches on a griddle, courtesy of my own BFF Laura. We also have waffle day which features homemade waffles and fresh fruit. Everyone feeds any chilled and hungry skier as they wander around while taking a break from the powder.

It is a very relaxed atmosphere, one that I now look forward to each year. I never dreamed I’d live in a house where skis criss-crossed the floor, boots lay in piles and wet winter gear was draped over every available piece of furniture, but now, I can’t imagine it any other way.  

An ''Ahhhmazing" Golden Man

Today California lost a golden treasure, Huell Howser. For those of you outside of California you may be wondering, "Who is this Huell Howser?" that you're hearing about on Twitter and Facebook today. He was a piece of California television gold that no other state in the nation could replicate. As I read through my timeline on Facebook, I realized that everyone loved Huell!

Huell hosted a show on California PBS stations called "California's Gold"( I dare you Californians to say that without Huell's twang) since the 1990's. We actually never watched Huell until we moved to central California. We didn't have much money and PBS is free so we quickly became Huell fans. Every afternoon after Conner and Elizabeth woke up from their naps our family would sit down and watch California's Gold together. Today even E was sad to hear Huell had passed away. Some of our greatest family memories are our times watching all of Huell's shows ( he ended up having about five or six different shows at one point)

In the series, Huell and his trusty cameraman ''Louie" who was actually Louis would traverse the back roads of California digging up "golden" bits of California history that may be overlooked. He didn't go to Disneyland or Hollywood, he went to places like the Livermore Fire Station to see the 100 year old lightbulb. He would go to San Francisco and climb the TransAmerica building tower with " Louie" in tow. He taught Californians so much about our state.

We often would try to go places Huell had been. My particular favorite was when we went to Griffith Park to see the Disney Train barn and ride the 1/8th scale trains after we watched an episode of California's Gold. Once we went to Cambria on a camping trip, all Conner could talk about was going to NitWit Ridge because he had saw Huell Howser go there. I remember it was closed and I think Conner is still ticked to this day.

I can tell you that I learned more about California history from Huell Howser than I did in school. I loved his simple way of talking to a subject, he always said the same things over and over. He wasn't a flashy, smooth talking man. His southern charm was really what made the show great. From his "Are you getting this Louie?" to his famous " Isn't that Ahhhmazing?" line. You just would smile,laugh and have fun watching one of his many shows. He wasn't even a native Californian, that was the best part of it all!

Most of us loved watching Huell because he was funny. His over excitement about the simplest of things was often hysterical. He was a bit of a simpleton and often repeated the same questions from show to show. I found this hysterical Funny or Die clip mocking Huell in a uncanny impression.

Here is a great tribute to Huell posted on Youtube this afternoon. Gives you a great idea of the funny nature of his shows

So many were saddened today to hear that Huell had died. He was truly beloved by his fellow Californians and the state has lost its biggest fan. Kind of funny this happens; as our family is  preparing to leave California and move to Huell's homestate of Tennnesee. I really hope that Chapman University takes the gift Huell gave them and puts his shows online for the world to watch. California would continue to benefit from the great gift Huell gave this state.

Goodbye Huell, I hope those Golden Gates open up for you!

A great interview with the famous "Louie" tonight on So Cal Connected here

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Flashback Friday: Conner and Elizabeth Videos

Yesterday, I stumbled upon two videos of Conner and Elizabeth while searching through old pictures. I never knew these videos exsisted and had completely forgotten about them. Which is rare in my case because I usually forget nothing long term.

My cousin Sarah and I sat watching them. I had tears running down my face watching my babies once again. We didn't really take home movies when they were little and so these videos are wonderful glimpses back into time. So funny, that I remember living in that house waiting for our life to really begin, I remember the kids being so little but really didn't remember what they were like?

This video is Conner and Elizabeth dancing to "What a Wonderful World" and is so sweet. It reminds me of a time when they had fun together and enjoyed spending time together. These days they are two teenagers who love to bicker and stay away from each other. Truly was a wonderful world back then and I miss those days.

The next video was taken at the same time in the same house. We obviously had just moved in and things were a mess. Elizabeth was being five, cute and sweet while singing me "Hollaback Girl" and Conner...well this video is classic Conner. Some things never change and this is proof of that. You can hear Conner during the whole video whispering to E. I laughed so hard watching this video this morning and so did Marty.

Kids grow up so fast. You don't really realize it is happening while they are young and need more. I remember being so tired and overwhelmed during those days. In the midst of it all the kids grow up, life gets easier and then you miss those days. I remember so many moms saying that but never really understood until it happened.

Loved having a peek back into those days and wanted to share it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Lacey!

The first installment in 2013 goes to one of my younger cousins Lacey Jae. I remember when Lacey was born in the beginning of 1991. I was in high school and remember being excited that we had a new baby cousin. She lived far away and we didn't get to see her for a really long time.

My memories of Lacey are of her sweet, cherubic face. She was the cutest little girl!
Our own little Shirley Temple

Lacey and Barney
Lacey on my wedding day

Lacey on her first day of school

Lacey sitting on Sarah and Brianne's lap

Age and distance really prevented me from really knowing Lacey well until the invention of Myspace. Lacey and I have gotten to know each other via the internet as adults. We both love to read and had our very own Twilight book club via chat. We love to talk about music and tend to like the same kind of music. It has been fun becoming friends and knowing each other better. 

As Lacey gets older, she looks more and more like my Grandpa's family. I think out of all of us cousins she looks the most like a true Brown. I even was showing my cousin Sarah pictures this morning while writing up this blog and she couldn't believe how much Lacey looked like our Grandpa's sister Leona

Our Grandpa's sister Leona.Crazy resemblance to Lacey


She looks like my Grandpa's sisters especially Leona and Eloise. Really amazing when I look at the pictures to see how strong our family genes are.

Lacey on the left

It's been fun watching Lacey grow up and turn into a lovely young woman. She is a very talented cake decorator and just a joy of a personality. She makes me laugh all the time with her witty ways.

Happy birthday Lacey, I cannot wait to move to TN and get to know you even better. Much love, Julie

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dreaming Big in 2013

As you know for several years, all Marty and I have talked about is leaving California. We thought that Georgia would be our destination but plans changed and Tennessee is our new destination. As we start the New Year, we start with a plan. February 4th will be our last day in our current city of Visalia. February 5th or 6th we will leave California forever.

14 years ago this month, we packed up our one year old son Conner and moved to Visalia for a new life. We have loved living in this little town, we learned many life lessons, gained a daughter and many life experiences. We came here with nothing, no jobs, no friends, no careers and gained all of those things in spades. It isn't going to be easy to leave but we know it is the best choice for our family.

We know this decision isn't popular with some who are family or close friends. We have thought long and hard, planned fastidiously and researched our options. We aren't doing this rashly and have thought it out. We live four hours away as it is and it is only a four hour flight. To us and for us, nothing will change. We are saddened at the anger but understand it is your right to be angry. We have to live for ourselves and our kids, maybe someday you will see this was a good choice. If we fail, you can tell us "Told you so"

We are choosing to be positive, trust God and not worry about every little thing. Lee has been a good friend to this family. Starting with being Julie's friend, to supporting Marty and I since we were dating and being a pseudo crazy uncle to our children. We have been thinking on this verse;

John 15:13 " There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." 

 We are willing to go and help our friends in need. They need help and we are so excited to go help them while they help us realize our dreams also. We are honored they chose us and are helping me start my career. I am also starting my own social media consulting company : check it out here

It has long been one of our desires as a family for me to start my own career. We have planned this since before Marty was sick and then put it on hold. I plan on attending the University of TN to further my education at the same time. 

Also, we will have great medical care for Marty at the University of TN. A transplant care center in our own city instead of driving 600 miles roundtrip for care. That is a huge burden lifted off our shoulders.

We have faith everything will work out. We are starting  out in a much better place than when we moved here.  We have so much more than we did back then. We have life experience and knowledge that things always, always work out.

We could chose to make others happy by living in this box we are in currently. Instead we are choosing to follow our dreams, live outside the box and put this second chance at life to use. So many die waiting for transplants or from complications. We know so many who would've loved a second chance. We got that second chance, we can use it or just squander it. We are choosing to use it and live big.

This is scary, exciting, nerve wracking but we have complete peace this is what we are supposed to do. We would appreciate support, prayers, encouragement and good wishes as we try to live our dreams.

We are choosing to dream, live the dream and take a chance. We happy and hope you can respect that. It is either do it or quit talking about it and live with regret. I was raised to live with no regrets.

We promise to help our loved one's and friends travel to see us. Usually this doesn't matter since I am always the one to head to So.Cal myself. We will still come to visit just as much as we do now.