Friday, March 29, 2013

Confessions of a Messy Moose

I was a naughty, busy little girl, who was extremely curious and mischievous  In addition to those traits, I was extremely uncoordinated and clumsy. I ran into walls, fell and got hurt constantly....and we aren't talking your regular scrapes and bruises, we are talking gashes and stitches. This prompted my parents to start calling me "Messy Moose",( I was messy too, really messy) for most of my childhood.

My first accident was jumping on my parents waterbed at 18 months old, that led to stitches in my forehead. You can still see the scar when I laugh or make certain faces. Then there was the night at dinner, when I was sitting at my little wooden table next to the big table. I was pushing my chair back on the legs while eating and fell backwards, the issue was I had the fork in my mouth and stabbed myself in the back of the throat. I still remember my mom putting a towel to my face as blood came running out.

I put my cat in the refrigerator( they kept hearing him meow, I finally told them " I put him in the fwidgerator'') he never liked me again? I was only two, not sure what possessed me. I bit my sister when she came home from the hospital, I stole her bottle. I was a bad seed, a very bad seed.

There was also my childhood drinking problem, my Dad thought my mom was drinking wine all day and she kept denying it. Then they finally found me with the door pulled just so sitting on the bottom shelf drinking wine. Oh and did I mention the I had my first hangover at three, I guess that at my aunt's wedding, I went around picking up drinks off the tables. I told my mom the next day, ''Mommy, I have a fuzzy head." No wonder that I have never liked to drink, I cured myself of that.

Then I moved on to the harder stuff. One sunny Saturday morning, my parents were mowing the lawn and I was playing on the lawn. I thought the gasoline for the mower was lemonade and drank it, my Dad turned around just in time to see it. I don't remember getting my stomach pumped, I do remember Bernie giving me an Ernie doll after my hospital visit. Sadly, I didn't learn my lesson and drank kerosene from a little glass mouse oil burner months later. My parents always say, back then if CPS had been around, they would have been in big trouble.

I was a bit like Elmyra from Tiny Toons, I loved my animals sometimes too much. I accidently loved my guinea pig too hard and he died. I love the cat mentioned above, not sure why I did what I did. I loved my parakeet Duke, I thought giving him salted sunflower seeds would be a treat? I guess not.

They kept having my eyes tested and knew something wasn't quite right. Finally in elementary school they found out that I had under developed motor skills because I never crawled as a baby. I skipped the crawling and just walked. So I had to have therapy for under-defined motor skills during my elementary school years.....I was special indeed.

I have recently been asked about a picture that I included in my cousin Andy's birthday blog. It is a picture of me watching Andy blow out his candles with a head bandage on.

Well, there is a story and of course it involves me being clutzy. I had my childhood friend Christena over to visit one day after school, this was a big deal since my parents worked and I rarely got to bring friends home. We had just finished watching our favorite movie "Nadia" when my friend called us to come outside. I was running down the hallway to the staircase and tripped....putting my head through the wrought iron banister. My head was stuck and I had to have it pulled out of the bars. 

I split my lip in two and had a huge goose egg. The hospital said everything was fine, stitched my lip and sent me home. After my stitches were removed, they realized my head was still swollen and discovered a hematoma. I had cracked my skull and had bruising between my skull and skin. My sisters never ate grape jelly again because they watched them cut my head open to remove the hematoma! My head is still misshapen in that area.

It's a wonder that my parents survived my childhood! Mainly after that incident the worst I did was sprain my ankle yearly in my tween and teen years. Well, there was the one time when I jumped from a moving car and got pretty skinned up. I was mainly messy in those years, always spilling something on my clothes and the like. 

 I am still not graceful by any means but I don't get hurt often any longer. I am very neat however, I really detest messes and like order. People wonder where Conner got his curiosity and I always tell them it was my payback. My poor parents, I totally understand, I totally understand.

A/N After publishing this blog, many stories have been left out. My childhood friend Christena mentioned one in a comment on FB. In memory of her grandma Ilene, I must share:

Ilene was my babysitter one year in elementary school. After school one day,  Christena and I were in the kitchen. Her neighbor Lonnie called from his house for us to meet him at the bottom of Christena's backyard which was an orchard. I got so excited, that in my excitement I grabbed a whole bottle of dish soap and poured it in my hair. I needed to wash my hair before we saw Lonnie, or so I thought. Her grandma Ilene was so angry, it took her all afternoon to get the soap out of my very long, thick hair.  Christena has NEVER let me forget this story. I laugh so hard thinking about it still to this day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Help Rissa's Student

 My cousin Rissa is helping a teenaged student of her's get read for prom. I told her she could use Just Jules to get her message out to family and friends since as a teacher she isn't allowed to use social media. Here is the story and info if you want to help:

Hi Friends and Family,
Some of you may already know I have a student who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. As I was talking to her during her first round of chemotherapy last week, she expressed her excitement about being able to go to prom, which happens to also be her birthday weekend. After extensive treatment over the next few weeks she will not have to undergo treatment that week but will most likely not have hair for prom. She is an amazing individual and her strength has me in complete awe. Her treatment plan as of now will take place over the course of 2 years. To help her and her family I want to purchase a wig for her and I want to do so before prom. Because she will need a wig for some time, after some investigation I realized that they are quite expensive. I am seeking financial contributions to assist with the purchase of a wig and any other unforeseen expenses her family may encounter.
The following is a link to give donation via paypal if you are interested.
Thanks so much for your help!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I've been married how long?

Today is our 17th anniversary, I have been married as long as I was single ( I started dating Marty when I was seventeen years old) and it hardly seems possible that it has been that long. We have really been through  so much in those 17 years. We've loved, we've lost, we've moved, we've survived. Time really does fly by and I have a feeling it will only go faster. Happy Anniversary Marty, love you.

Here's a look back at the anniversary blogs throughout the years:

10 years ( 2006): I was pretty excited on our 10th anniversary, Marty bought me a new wedding ring that year:

11 years ( 2007): Little did we know that Marty didn't have a cold like we thought. He was in renal failure and we had no clue how sick he was: 

14 years ( 2010): It was a very dark time. Truly in sickness and darkness, I couldn't even write but I shared a song:

15 years (2011): Marty had just received his transplant and I made him a slideshow of our years together:

16 years ( 2012): Thinking of Jerry and his mom, thankful for the gift of more time:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Monthly Post on Finding Purpose in the Pain

Here is this month's post on Finding Purpose in the Pain. I share about when I started to panic and worry right before our move to TN. Check it out:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just Jules 100,000 Page View Giveaway

Never in a million years did I ever imagine that this blog would be viewed 100,000 times! The number has approached at a fast pace this last year. Mind you, it took six years for me to hit 10,000 page views  and much less time for me to hit 100k.

Thank you readers, friends and family for sharing my blog with others, for reading our story and supporting our family through good and bad. It means the world to not only me but my family as well. Lately the blog has become a platform for others to share their stories as well. I love being able to share stories from other woman who inspire, encourage and promote positivity. I hope as time goes on to share more and more inspiring stories from others aside from myself.

I wish that I could give all of you a great big hug! Alas, I cannot do that nor can I send all of you a gift.
Instead, I am hosting a humble giveaway of some great items I selected from Fig and Company, my new workplace. It is my way of saying thank you and trying to give back.

As this giveaway has approached, I wanted to give things away that meant something to me. Of course, not everyone wants Nadia ( the movie), Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen or Twilight books! So I found a few things that I thought were cute but very me.

One lucky winner will receive this gift bag


A handmade reclaimed wood and Upwords tile sign saying ''tweet tweet''- Yáll know I am a Twitter addict

A Journal with the words ''Every journey begins with a step'' on the front ''take a step'' on the back. I love writing my thoughts and prayers down. Mostly I journal on this blog but I have kept a journal of my prayers for years. I love looking back and seeing how I've grown and answered prayers.

One burlap bag with a bicycle printed on the front. Everyone knows I love all things cycling and bikes!

Two Seattle Chocolate bars, all natural, made in Seattle. The Lemon Drop and San Juan Sea Salt are my favorites. Definitely yummy!

How to Enter: You must use this format to be entered.  You use the rafflecopter to enter the contest. You must leave a comment on the blog to gain one entry on the Rafflecopter. You can gain more entries by using Rafflecopter to tweet the entry or by liking my Facebook page via the entry form. The contest will end after my page hits 100k or by next Sunday 3/24/12. 

Good luck and thank you for reading my blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Remembering Auntie P

A few weeks ago, my cousin in law Karen asked if I would write a blog about my Aunt Pat in honor of her birthday. I never thought about it and really wondered why I hadn't sooner? My Aunt Pat was one of the biggest influences in my young life and truly a wonderful role model.

Aunt Pat was my mom's aunt, her father's sister and one of the only living relatives on that side of the family. After my grandfather's death when I was five, she was the only member of his family we had left and our only link to his family. We often made trips up to Visalia to visit her and her family for different events or as a pit stop on family vacations.

Years later, I would wear the same pearls for my senior picture

Aunt Pat was born to Edwin and Ruby Davis. Ruby was full blooded Cherokee Indian and their children were raised to revere their Indian heritage. Unfortunately Edwin left Ruby and their small children  to fend for themselves. The best way for Ruby to care for the children was to give them to family members with no children. Aunt Pat went to one aunt and uncle while my grandfather went to another. It was very devastating for the family to be ripped apart. Aunt Pat and my grandfather developed a very strong bond after these events, a bond that lasted for a lifetime.

My "Kankad' his mom and sister Pat

I love how she is holding her brother's arm in this picture. She loved him so.

Later as adults, they were separated by geography when Aunt Pat moved to California with her husband Bob. After some time, my grandfather found work in California and the two families moved in together. My mom has always talked fondly of their time living with Aunt Pat and Uncle Bob. My grandparents bought a house in Whittier while Pat and Bob moved a few hundred miles away to a small town in central California, Visalia.

Aunt Pat, My Gramie, My Mom and I think Unky ( he was the uncle who raised aunt P)

As I grew up, we often went to visit Aunt Pat and her boys. As I have shared before her sons were like brothers to my mom and were a huge part of our lives. I loved going to see their family and hang out in their small town. I spent many summer months with her and her husband uncle Bob. I always dreamed of someday going to live with Aunt Pat and going to college in Visalia after I got out of high school.

My Sister and I with Aunt Pat. Loved this weekend, I danced on her fireplace with those flowers singing Gloria

Auntie ''P'' as I called her worked as a aide at Redwood high school helping with ESL students who had emigrated from another country. She touched countless lives with her gentle spirit and kindness. She was one of the best listeners I have ever met. Always she had a ready ear, good advice and kind words.

Aunt Pat and I together.

She lived in her Birkenstocks, loved hamburgers and always had candy bars hidden away. She was a Type 1 diabetic who suffered greatly from the insidious disease. She had a very tough life but you would've never known that. She was essentially orphaned, lost all of her family members before she was fifty, buried a son and dealt with  many other tough struggles in her life.

Yet, she always maintained a bright smile, a sense of humor like no other, always had a kind word and could make you feel like a thousand bucks.She was my hero, I looked up to her, revered her and loved her greatly. I even wrote an essay very similar to this blog on her during my senior year in high school, I gave it to her and she knew how I felt about her.

When I graduated high school, she gave me the pearls she wore when she graduated high school. I wore them in my senior picture and on my wedding day.

 Eventually, I made the move to Visalia with my young family to live near her. For almost a year, I got to live near  my aunt Pat and it was a dream come true. She was my rock during that time, the same time that saw her lose kidney function, end up on dialysis and lose both legs. I am so glad that I got to spend the last 12 months of her life with her and will never forget that precious time.
Conner in Aunt P's kitchen while she and I talk

Auntie P holding baby E

For years, I would often drive by her house and wish I could go in to see her. I have tried to honor her memory by loving her sons, trying to be the kind of person she was and loving God. My aunt Pat loved God and never gave up her faith even in darkness.

Auntie P was a rare gem, truly a wonderful lady. It has been 13 years since she's been gone yet she has never really felt far away at all. She lives on in my life, as I wrote this blog I could see her impact on my life in clearly defined imprints and I think you will too. Words could never bring her to life or do her justice, at least I could try to share a bit from this wonderful woman's life to inspire as she inspired me.

Aunt Pat loved all of her grandkids, great nieces and nephews!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

When a Friend is Meant to Be: Happy Birthday LL Fancy

Sometimes in your life, you just meet someone and immediately click. You don't know what the connection is or how it happened? it just happened. One year ago next month, I met a fabulous woman named Lindsey in the most random of way. Then months later realized, it wasn't so random at all. Sometimes a friend is just meant to be.

A year ago next month, my dear friend and chief sister of the heart asked me to come watch her run a marathon. It was a day that forever changed both of our lives in a major way and we didn't know it at the time. That day we met some ladies who asked a simple question, a question that led us to some wonderful ladies.

On Twitter two ladies invited my friend and I to be their guests at a special NKOTB event. We met two strangers and had the time of our lives. Lindsey and I met our tween hearthrob together for the very first time and cried tears of joy together. That first night, I sat with Lindsey and our friends in a hotel lobby and it was instant connection over a cup of tea.

A few phone chats and a couple of months later, Lindsey and her husband Rob met up with my family and I for dinner. It was such a wonderful moment and so special to our family that they took the time to see us. 

Then we went to Hershey,Pa for a girls weekend that was truly one of the craziest times of my life. It was my first time doing such a thing and I couldn't have asked for better friends to do it with. Lindsey and I had so much fun that weekend and it is where she gained her nickname. Lindsey is English and always says, ''fancy'' when she does or doesn't want something. I kept asking her if she wanted something while eating and she kept saying, '' I don't fancy that.'' I will just leave the first L explanation at that is stands for ''Licking'' and the other L is for Lindsey. She became LL Fancy forever that weekend. I always have to nickname my friends and she now is stuck with that moniker.

We finally got our first picture with Joey Mac together. Truly a dream come true for both of us and it came true together. So special and exciting.

One of the most special moments of my life happened in a Cracker Barrell in PA. As Lindsey was leaving to catch her flight, she layed her head on my shoulder while hugging me fiercely and bawled. It was a moment that I will never forget. A moment of unspoken words and understanding that immediately bonded us as sisters. 

A few months later, she and her husband Rob came to spend the weekend with my family. They wanted to see us before we left for Tennessee. They put up with my crazy dogs, kids, half packed house, snowman dishes and crazy work schedules.  We went and explored the Sequoias together, ate dinner and shared many laughs. I love the way she and her husband are with my kids. 

Sometimes you just meet someone and click. It is unexplainable to anyone on the outside and sometimes even you don't understand it yourself. In one moment Lindsey became a sister to me, an aunt to my kids and family. I truly feel undeserving of such a wonderful friend and feel like I could hardly be half the friend she is to me. She cries with me, something she rarely does on her own, she laughs with me, she listens to me and she loves my kids. 

So thankful to have met you LL, you bring so much to my life. I truly am so thankful for your friendship and friendship to my family. It is hard to believe I've know you less than a year. Wishing you a happy birthday today, hoping today blesses you as much as you bless others.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Unpacked and Finding Our Way

I have been so busy lately, there has been little time to be online,making phone calls or writing blogs other than birthday blogs.  We are enjoying our new life in TN, everyday it becomes clear that we made the right choice to move. This is where we are supposed to be, there isn't a doubt about it.

Today that was all the more clear. We got up and drove twenty minutes in heavy rain to the University of Tennessee medical center. Normally we would've had to get up at four a.m. to drive 330 miles to Stanford for our 8 am appointment. We quickly arrived at the UT medical center and were blown away at the size of the campus. It is large with many buildings, we searched for parking and set out to find our destination.

Walking inside the hospital, we immediately were amazed. Very newly re-done and updated facilities, clean and bright. Stanford is large but very outdated and often dingy in places, so this was amazing to us. We got registered, labs done and then went to find the transplant clinic.

We were greeted by D whom I had spoken to last week on the phone. She was so friendly and personable, chatting our ear off immediately. She told us they are a family there and she knew it was hard for us to leave our Stanford family. They want us to feel welcome and like part of the family. WOW is all I can say to that, it was so comforting and nice.

We loved all the staff we met today. As you all know, we loved our surgeons at Stanford and were very fond of them. The surgeon we met today was very young, very friendly and personable. He listened to us,asked questions and told Marty " it was nice to meet you, I want you to go out and live your life."

To have quality care close to home is amazing to us. A couple of days ago, I met someone in the marketing department of the hospital at work. She wanted me to call her after our visit and wants to make sure we are happy there. I am sure she had a hand in our warm welcome today.

It took us twenty minutes to drive home. No more 660 miles round trip to see the doctor, no more worries if something happens we won't have top of the line care. We have a team of transplant physicians that can care for Marty full time now. It was one of the major factors that was behind our decision to move. When Marty was on the wait list for transplant, we would hear stories of people in the south waiting 2 weeks, 2 months, 6 weeks and so on. The average wait time in California is seven years, the average wait time here is under two years. It was hearing that during our wait time that helped us start looking to moving to the south.

We are living life finally. After Marty's transplant, we were able to live but had this huge decision weighing on us. Now we are free of those weights, we can fully live life and enjoy it. Settling in has gone fairly smoothly, we've had lots of help from friends, really just two more major items on the to-do list and we will be completely settled.

The kids have found a youth group on Wednesday evenings to meet with and are really enjoying it. We haven't been able to meet up with the homeschool support group yet. Hopefully soon we can meet some other homeschooled kids in our area.

I love my new job at Fig, it is nice helping my friends with their store. I am really enjoying the challenge and learning something new. I have also been busy in the evenings working on learning Wordpress for my first client for Julesmpg Social Media. It has really been a huge challenge that is pushing me beyond my comfort zone. That is a whole other blog in itself.

Everyone keeps saying they can sense my peace, they can sense that I am lighter and happier. It is true, having overcome so many challenges in the last several years, I do peace. Knowing we are living our dream, following God and starting anew is a wonderful feeling. Like the doctor said, we are getting out and living life!

If I am quiet, don't worry, I am just a text,DM, phone call or email away. I haven't been able to be online much for myself since I am busy working online for others. Please don't hesitate to shoot me a message, I will always get back to you.

As Auntie Mame says, " Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live! Live! Live!'' I am off to live!

PS the doctors are still pouring over Marty's records from Stanford which weren't faxed ahead of time like they ought to have been. URGH! But the bloodwork today looked good and they are still waiting on one lab to come back.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Ben!

Second to the last in the series is lucky number 11, Ben. He is the second boy in the gaggle of girls and our grandpa's namesake. Ben has a hefty weight on his shoulders being the only grandson with the Brown name. I remember the excitement when he was born, another boy to add to the mix. Three grandsons out of fourteen grandchildren isn't many, so the boys were always special to all of us!

Ben was a rambunctious little boy, always into something and on the go. I remember him always with a scrape on his eye or some story of him doing something crazy. He was our little Bart Simpson of the family, cute blonde but a handful.

What a face!!!

Ben lived far away and we only got to see him every once in awhile. I never will forget the many trips to visit his family in Arizona. We always would go to the London Bridge and hang out. Ben and Lacey would give me tours of their house and room. 

As time passed Ben grew into a quiet young man of few words. Our Grandpa was a man of few words himself. I think it is so fitting that he is quiet like our Gramps, he may look  like his other grandpa but his personality is that of our Gramps.

A few years ago, Ben stayed behind to work and live on his own in Arizona while his parents moved to TN.I was so impressed that he stayed and lived on his own with his sister. 

He eventually followed his family to TN. He and his sister Lacey have both acclimated so well. Ben is a hard working young man who has even bought his first house already. He is polite and friendly, I just love listening to his TN twang. I look forward to knowing him better now that we are living in the same state.

Happy birthday Ben! I hope you have a great day filled with happiness and joy! Thankful to have such a great cousin to know. I look forward to knowing you better as the years go on.