Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Cousin Series: Happy Birthday Jillie!

Wait for Baby, Jill is bringing up the rear in the cousin series. She isn't an orphanage anymore, finally she gets her birthday blog. I had to add some favorite family sayings in to the opening, only family will get them and soon I will blog on what they mean.

Ah Jill, another of the ''J'' girl cousins. Jill is number ten in the cousin line up, definitely not last or least. Jillie was truly, the cutest little girl you've ever seen. She had the cutest little face and personality as a little girl, one of my favorite memories is her singing ''Little Ducky Dawdle'' as a little girl.

Jill and her sister Caiti

Jill, Julie, Carrie,Brianne, Rissa and Andy being Andy

Jill often got called by my name and I've often been called by her name. We both are swimmers, though she is a far better swimmer than myself. We both swam competitively in high school.

One my wedding day, my feet hurt so badly in my wedding shoes and at the time Jill was about the same size shoe. So she gave me her shoes to wear around so that my feet wouldn't hurt. The funniest part about that story is at the time she was 11 years old! she had normal size feet and I was still wearing kid sizes at the time.

I moved away and rarely got to see Jillie. Thankfully Myspace was invented and that is when I really got to know Jill. We both love to read and have bonded over our mutual love of classic books. I love talking with Jill, she is so intelligent and we just understand one another. It's been awhile since we've talked and I am missing her writing this blog.

My favorite thing about Jill is her fun bond with Elizabeth. They are both a lot alike and just clicked when E was very young. She LOVES seeing Jill and talking to her. They both love cartoons and reading amongst other things. Jill once wrote a story using E's nickname of "Bibbeth'' and actually created E's own special nickname from her. 

Elizabeth had a pair of purple pants that were hand-me downs from a friend. She wore them to a family function one time and Jill told her ''Those are your amazing purple pants'' and kept the joke running about E and her ''amazing purple pants''. She actually had my mom buy her a pair of purple pants this year because she didn't have a pair. It's a cute little running joke that has endeared Jill to E, which everyone will tell you is no easy feat.

Jill is also a red head like myself, as our aunt Alison always tells us ''you both were meant to be red heads'' and we both enjoy it. This is one of my favorite pictures taken last year

Jill, it's so nice to have a cousin who just gets me and I get her. I love the fun bond we share and am sorry that I've been MIA recently. I miss our little chit chats and look forward to catching up soon. You truly mean the world to me and I am thankful for you.

Cousin Series:
Jillie; this blog

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy 13th Birthday Snookadoodle

My baby is a teenager today, how is that even possible? Seems like just yesterday Elizabeth Helen came screaming into the world. Named after our paternal grandmother's on our father's sides, she came into the world with a big name and an even bigger personality.

E and her best friend Chocolate the dog

From the moment she came into the world, she let us know what she liked, how she liked it and how wrong we were doing it. She has kept us on our toes ever since.

From the moment she was born, she's been the girl of many names. Conner called her ''little bit'' because he couldn't pronounce Elizabeth. That morphed into ''bibbeth'' for the same reason and then things just went crazy from there.

Finishing her second triathlon

E is her online name given by me. It's easier to type E than to type Elizabeth, so many people now call her E when they meet her. We don't call her E ourselves, if we call her by name it is Elizabeth or Elizabeth Helen.

She loves her ''Moo Moo"'

She's been B.A. ( bad attitude), then that morphed into ''Stinky'' because her attitude stunk. That morphed into "Stinkadorfulus'' for awhile. We've called her ''pookie'' which turned into ''snookie'' BEFORE the Jersey Shore ruined it.

With her best friend Huntar on moving day

Marty turned pookie into ''POOHHHNNKEY" which is mainly what he calls her these days. Lately I've stuck with ''Snookadoodle'' or ''Stinkadoodle''

with Crazy Rachel on their birthday last year

My Mom calls her Beth, My Dad calls her Liz and recently her friends started calling her Lizzie. Funny enough; with all these names when someone calls her Lizzie, it throws me for a loop.

Our beautiful girl!

Whatever her name may be, Elizabeth is grown into a beautiful young girl. It's been a tough move for her, she's missed her friends so much. She loves doing triathlons, being with the dogs is one of her favorite things to do and she recently told me she would like to become a librarian. She loves to read just like her momma though she refuses to read any book I like. She loves 1D, joking around with her Dad, fighting with her brother and listening to Toby Mac.

We love you Stinky, we hope you have a wonderful 13th birthday today!

Happy Birthday Friend Series: Our Crazy Rachel

The summer of 1991, I begrudgingly marched into a classroom at Buena Park High School to re-take Algebra 1. It was summer, I should've been swimming in the pool but instead I was sitting in a classroom. Twenty years later, I tell you  "Thank goodness I failed math!"

That fateful summer, I met one of my life long friends Rachel.

Summer after summer for three years straight, Rachel and I took summer school math together and forged a life long friendship. In high school, we weren't particularly close. We had many friends in common, shared the love of the color purple, loving to talk and being rather boisterous.  Other than summer school math, we didn't spend much time together outside of school. After high school, we lost touch and remained out of touch for over ten years.

During the advent of Myspace, we reconnected online. It was during this time that Rachel's high school BFF Lori died of lung cancer. Her sudden death prompted a very heartbreaking time for Rachel and many other of our classmates. It was during this time our true bond was forged.

Rachel like myself is a night owl, many nights after Marty went to work at 10 pm, she and I would get on the phone and talk until one or two in the morning. It's no secret, Rachel and I both LOVE to talk  and never run out of things to talk about!

After a few months, Rachel surprised me by stopping by my house to visit. She was driving through my area and wanted to visit. It was the first of many, many visits and it was on that visit we discovered that Elizabeth and Rachel are birthday buddies.

Rachel's first visit 09' ( Conner was 11, E was 9)

During the darkest times of my life when Marty was sick, it was Rachel who helped keep me going by coming to visit. She was that little piece of home when I couldn't go home and see my family and friends. She kept our family cheered up along with my cousin Sarah who also visited often during that time.

Birthday Month number 1

We stink at math
Rachel and E's birthday 2010

Visiting Facebook in Palo Alto

Our self made fascinators for the Royal Wedding

Somewhere along the way, during a car ride with Rachel my kids started calling her "Crazy Rachel" because she loves to sing in her purple car "Bianca" while honking and waving at people. They loved going places in the car with her. She is another step in "aunt"' to my kids and they love her dearly.

When Marty was transplanted, it was Rachel who drove my Dad and the kids over 8 hours to see us one weekend. I cry just thinking about it, she didn't have to do that but yet she did. How did I get so lucky to have such a wonderful friend? Even my Dad loves ''crazy'' Rachel.

When the Royal wedding came along, Rachel drove up to spend the night with me and watch the festivities together. We even made our own fascinators!

This year, it just seems weird not having seen her this birthday month. Yes, you read that right ''month'' Rachel has taught Elizabeth that their birthday is a month, not a day. She celebrates the entire month with friends, events and activities. Many years, we had a birthday celebration for the two of them and this year we are missing out.

Rachel went back to school, got her degree and found happiness in the last couple of years. We spent many,many years praying over so many things together. So wonderful to see those prayers be answered in unexpected ways.

Rachel, you've shown me so much with your friendship. When we talk, it feels like we're still those two girls sitting in math class together. It's like life has never skipped a beat, we haven't grown older and we are just the same. Thank you for not only loving me but loving my entire family. You truly are a fourth member of the T family. We love you so much and miss you terribly. Your happiness makes us so happy, we can't wait for you to come visit us in TN!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Donate Life Day 2013: A Tale of Two Families

September 23,2010 A family in California is in the midst of a dark valley waiting for a much needed kidney/pancreas transplant for their father and husband. In Texas, another family is in the darkest journey of all, struggling through grief after the loss of a child.

That afternoon, while I was on Facebook, a link to a video was shared with me, I watched it and sat weeping. The Storch family from Texas meeting the recipient of their daughter Taylor's heart. In March they had donated their 13 year old daughter's organs after her death in a skiing accident. I anxiously awaited Marty's return home from work to watch the video together.

I will never forget sitting on our couch that afternoon, watching the video together and weeping. This family had lost their child and yet given a tremendous gift to others at the same time. It brought home the price that would be paid for Marty to live a new life. Our son Conner was almost 13 at the time, the same age that Taylor was when she died. It was just too close to home. During this time, Marty had been recently re-listed on the transplant after huge misunderstanding with doctors and we knew his time was coming near. It brought reality, so close to home. Four months later, Marty received a life saving Kidney/Pancreas transplant.

We found out her parents had started an organization to raise awareness for the need of registered donors. I started sharing their posts on social media as often as possible. Who does that? Lose a child, donate and give life and then starting a foundation? Todd and Tara Storch, that's who. These amazing people in the midst of dark grief gave so much. It inspired us with hope, they became our donor family in a way, donor's of hope. We don't know them but we feel such a kinship with them.

This week, I picked up the new book written by Todd and Tara sharing intimately their journey with losing Taylor, organ donation and the donor's stories themselves

I started reading yesterday afternoon after Marty and I came home from a Nephrologist appointment at the University of Tennessee. We were there to check on his new kidney and make sure everything is as it should be. We got a great report and that always makes me think of Jerry, his mom and the Storch family. Where would our family be without organ donation?

The second chapter of the book is a look into the life of the recipient of Taylor's Kidney and Pancreas. The chapter gave me the chills. It was an honest look into life before transplant of a Type 1 diabetic. If you ever want to know all of the things I've never shared, read this book. It shares in detail many scary experiences that Marty and I ourselves lived with low blood sugars and other things. I couldn't have written it better myself.

I couldn't put down this book and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning reading it. Our stories are so tightly interwoven in the dates. During the time they were grieving their daughter, we were in the darkest time of our lives. So many of the dates mentioned in the book that they were struggling, our family was struggling as well in a very different way. Something that really hit home, this is the journey of donor and recipient  We trade places in suffering. 

The pain of losing a loved one is forever, while the pain of waiting for transplant is temporary. Thankfully our family always had a good perspective on this. The minute we were told our donor was only 18 years old, the wait meant nothing to us. Our donor died in a horrible way but in his very last act on earth, he was a hero to a family of four.

We are so thankful for people like Todd and Tara. Our family tries to give back by supporting their foundation in any way we can. Today is Donate Life day but it also is Taylor's birthday, she would've been 17 years old today. Instead of wearing the traditional blue and green today, our family has chosen to wear Taylor blue in her honor.

Elizabeth, Marty ( Kidney/Pancreas recipient), Julie and Conner with love to the Storch family

Her life has impacted our lives in a huge way, we never knew her in life but in death she has given our family so much hope. Reading the book and hearing about her personality, she was very much like Conner and I as a person. She was the friend to the friendless, lover of the underdog and champion of the unseen. In her death, she has really changed so many lives and will continue changing lives as the years go on.

Please go out and buy Taylor's Gift the book, register to be a donor on the foundation's website: www.taylorsgift.orgbuy a Taylor's gift shirt ( I love mine, you can see it on my Twitter avi and I also make a guest appearance wearing it on the Taylor's Gift site as well) or donate to the cause!

Thank you to everyone who has registered to be a donor, to the family's who've donated and never heard from the recipients, we thank you. To the families who've made the selfless choice to donate, thank you. Thank you Storch family for making a difference and helping to promote organ donation. To Debbie, our hero mom, we thank God for you and Jerry every single day.

A/N as you know, I am a Twitter/cycling Junkie. When I started my cycling twitter, I just so happened to become tweeps with Jonathan Finger one of the recipients of Taylor's kidneys.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Finding Purpose in the Pain Devotional and Giveaway

A while back, my friend Stacy from Finding Purpose in the Pain told us she would be writing an e-book devotional about her experience with chronic pain. I was inspired that she would take on such a huge task an idea that I've been toying with for a while now.

This week, her devotional has released on Amazon in e-book format. You can follow this link and buy it there, it is a great deal at only $3.99

I've known Stacy since March of 2003, we met in a prayer forum online. She was fresh out of college, I was a young mother of two. We bonded over our shared faith and grew into friends, eventually leading bible studies on that site for women around the world. 

During this time, I learned of Stacy's debilitating struggle with Fibromyalgia, it was hard to fathom this young twenty something girl, struggling with severe and chronic pain. We prayed together so many times for her to be healed. Her pain only got worse and worse as time went on.

In the opening of her book, she shares a candid moment that took my breath away. Her pain had grown to the point she was anguished. In the last year, she has gone off all of her medications and has been doing really well with essential oils. It has been amazing to see prayers answered and Stacy thriving.

This devotional helps anyone whose ever been in a tough place whether it be with pain or trials. She brings the focus back to God and his word. It is a great devotional for any one actually, whether you're struggling or not.

Stacy has agreed to give away a copy to one reader of Just Jules. Simply leave your name in the comments and I will use a random picker based on the number of comments.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Floater

The floater floats around the room, talking to everyone gleaning little bits of conversation from here and there. Floaters notice the person in the corner, instead of walking past, the floater approaches them with confidence and ease. I am the floater.

I think it is safe to say, that I march to the beat of my own drum. When I titled my blog ''Just Jules", I meant every meaning of the saying. I am just me with no inclinations to conform to any patterns of this world, I just want to be the best me possible instead. Here's the thing, I know that I am different but I like being different!

Truthfully, it wasn't until I slammed into the adult world in my 20's that I started to realize that I was different. Socially I have tons of friends ( too many if you ask those closest to me, they have given up trying to keep up) and never thought that socially I was different.

It wasn't until I was in a small setting that I realized.........I don't like groups of friends. I am fine if you're in a group of friends, I just don't like the trying to fit into the group part. I am more happy to watch groups of friends do their thing but will never push to be a part of the group.  Once in my twenties, I tried to worm my way into a group of friends with disastrous results. Actually, I think the results aside from the bad parts were good for me. I then realized, I like being the floater.

As I started to talk with my high school friends as adults, I realized that I knew far more people than others. It was then that I realized the benefits of my floating ways, I get to know more people outside the scope of a circle and broaden my horizons. Maybe at one point, I was on the outside wall but instead decided that floating around worked better than standing around?

It's not always easy being the floater, sometimes I struggle with it. Especially when I see groups planning fun gatherings or meet ups. I am never one to invite myself and would rather miss out than doing so. We always have something to work on as humans and this is one thing I should work on. I always feel like a pest or beggar when I do, I really have no desire to be either of those.

Floating has brought me much happiness, many gems have come from dancing around the room unaware of the groups within. I meet so many wonderful people that way, talking, listening and sometimes scaling the walls of people who are socially uncomfortable. I prefer one on one conversation, I don't like having to talk over others. One of my acquaintences always tells me, " you're deep water'' and that is the truth. I prefer the heavy duty conversations. My odd sense of humor isn't the norm and is often lost on others, so I prefer to stay deep, I like deep and know it well.

 I truly doubt, that I will ever give up my floater ways and conform. I like being the floater even though, sometimes its hard. Really, I like doing my own thing which is often doing things with Marty and the kids instead of trying to do things with others. That's another blog for another day......

If you want to find me, I will be the one flitting and floating around. I am always easy to find!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One Boy Scout Mom's Wish!

My dear Twitter friend 1Lavishone has offered to help me out. I am suffering from a bit of writer's block, I am reading old blogs and trying to not repeat myself. Thankfully, she has hopped in and blogged about some of her most hilarious tweets this week. 1Lavish is a dear, she has been a rock for many of us the last few months and we love her dearly.

So, this week I've been asked by my lovely friend Jules to share a few thoughts about things that I'm thinking about?

First, my son is in Boy Scouts which is a great thing. Except when my husband is out of town and I'm the one forced to go to the meetings. Let's just say, I'm pretty girly  I loathe camping and the idea of doing any of that outdoor hiking crap is just not appealing to me at all. Frankly, my idea of roughing it is watching black and white t.v. 

Anyway, I take my son to the meeting (after frantically packing his special backpack for inspection - but that's another story). We get there and one of the patrol mom's starts talking about something. I saw her lips move, but all I heard was a buzzing noise that went to the center of my brain and died there. All I could think of was PLEASE STOP TALKING.

 Now I'm sure she's a nice person, she's just infected with the Boy scout fever. Her excitement over the upcoming hike bordered on religious fervor. It was...unsettling.

I sat at this meeting thinking you know what would make this meeting better? Wine. Sadly there was no wine to be found. Or cake either. I spent a whole hour praying for wine and cake. Best news of the night came when hubs called from the airport saying he was ready to be picked up. We got in the car and floored that puppy!
I drove to the airport to pick up my husband. 

Which leads me to my next rant. People, if you are going to turn, USE YOUR SIGNAL. I don't have ESP and I have no idea if you are planning on turning. How about if you help a sister out her and let her know what the plan is? Honestly, almost nothing is more irksome than finding out someone has decided to turn at the last minute almost causing you to have an accident.

  I wish people who didn't use their turn signals could be shamed in some way into doing it. It would make the roads much safer and less irritating. This rant is in no way related to the rant about old people and stoners forgetting to turn their blinkers off. That's a story for another day......

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mother's Day Gift Idea

My friends at MailPix are giving my followers 40% off Photo Books in time for Mother's day. Be sure to order now and treat your mom to something special. Just click on the ad to get the discount, really easy and simple gift giving.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy! Happy! Happy!

 Lately this seems to be the words I hear more often than not.  No, I am not referring to Duck Dynasty, I am referring to comments people keep making to me.  Everyone keeps telling me, that I seem so happy and look so happy.  This move has been very good for us, we are very happy we moved and I guess it shows.
 We truly are "Happy!Happy! Happy!" as Uncle Si says.

Fourteen years ago, when we moved to Visalia,CA from the O.C.; I was so lonely and isolated, twenty-two years old and my first time away from family and home.  I cried nearly everyday for months on end though I had family nearby.  I missed my friends, my job, my family and the place I grew up. As the years went on, I made friends, got great jobs, learned to be happy in my surroundings and adapted.  It was so hard but worth the life change it brought about for me.

We lived a very rough, long stretch of life for many years.  My Grandparents passing away, then both parents struggling with health issues and ultimately Marty's renal failure and transplant.  We missed out on many years of living life while waiting for his transplant.  Our plan to move came about during his waiting period and gave us hope that we could start again.  It was the fuel that kept us going along with many prayers from our support system.

We agonized over leaving our family and friends once again.  This wasn't an easy decision and very unpopular with some close to us.  I spent many days crying after hearing how upset some were that we were moving.  It wasn't easy but we knew it was time to go.

As we were driving out of California, Lizzie turned to me and said, '' I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest." and that is how we all felt.  We were following our dreams as a family, taking a chance and a leap of faith.

We are so happy to have made this move.  The overwhelming peace we feel is truly amazing, undescribable, and long awaited.  Truly for the first time in years, we are really living life in a big way.  We are meeting new friends, reconnecting with old friends and finding our way.  We love exploring the area and finding new treasures along the way.  We love our new little rental house, it is really nice and cozy.  Soon we plan on looking for our own home.

This week I talked to three of my SOH's Olga,Tammy, and Heather all in California.  They all said how amazed they were at everything happening.  I also had two surprise visits from Twitter friends at work this week; Mary, Jane and Jeff all stopped by and gave me hugs.  Next weekend I get to see my dear friend Kim in her beloved Pigeon Forge, a six year dream come true!  I haven't felt alone or isolated this move at all, so very different from the first time around,

Thanks for all of your support along the way.  The emails, phone calls, texts and tweets have kept me going and encouraged us.

Our family loves TN

My new friend Flavia

Happy C and E at Cades Cove

TN cousins sleepover!

From my front porch

Even Max is happy
E enjoying our front yard with the dogs