Goodbye 38…..*gulp*…..Hello 39

Every year, I write myself a blog for my birthday as an introspective on the last year of my life and my future goals. This evening, I have spent some time reading back on my birthday blogs starting in September of 2006, my 30th birthday.

I want to start back 14 years ago, I went to sleep a young person excited for her 25th birthday and woke up to a terrible tragedy in our country that would take me ten years to come to terms with. 9/11 changed me as a person as it did many in this country. I learned that the world was not about me and I was a tiny piece of the puzzle of the world.

I was 29 years old when I started this blog and so many things in my life have changed. I have grown a lot as a person in ten years. My first birthday blog was on my 30th birthday, 2006 was one of the worst years of my life but I was looking forward to next year already. I have grown so much in 9 yrs, the day I wrote that blog I had no clue the darkness to come was deep and dark.

Now my 30’s are coming to a close, one more year to embrace them and enjoy being 30 something. My biggest change is that my worrying has really subsided. Last summer, I spent the summer in a tizzy of worry and this summer, I just lived and didn’t worry. One of my long term goals has been to worry less, I finally am realizing that things always work out.

This past year has been a year of professional growth, focusing on my work life and career. That is what I came to TN for and things are looking really good. I have learned a lot and am continuing to learn every day.

I am trying to enjoy each day with the kids as I know my time with them is fleeting. This is our last year of homeschooling Conner and only three more years with E.

One of the best parts of this year, I made new friends in TN. My circle of friends has grown and now TN feels like home. I no longer feel like a stranger here and feel like I have a safety net again.

There are always lessons to be learned, I am a person who tries to learn from her mistakes and better herself each day. I fail just like everyone else but celebrate the small achievements when the happen.

Truthfully, I am kind of looking forward to being 40, I hear it is quite the awakening time in a women’s life where she learns to not sweat the small stuff.

This year I am celebrating with my mom, the kids and Marty. Enjoying a week of vacation from work, renewing my mind, spirit and body.

I still have those books to write…….someone yell at me next year if I haven’t got a manuscript.

Here is a look back at the last ten years:

2007 Funny kid stories and the first time I ever shared that Marty had Renal Failure

2008 Peaceful Easy Feeling

2009 I was in the throes of Marty having renal failure

2010 The birthday Marty was removed from the transplant list

2011 The year that John Ritter’s widow helped me overcome

2012 My favorite blog, written for me by my cousin Andy. A MUST READ

2012 The Year of Jules, a great year for me!

2013 Transitions

2014 Sharing the book that changed my birthday blues

2014 Looking back on why birthday’s are a big deal to me


The Music That Takes Me Back Series: ” Let’s Put on a Show”

Those words rang out many times in my childhood, my sister, cousins and I loved to put on ”shows”. Where we stood in front of someone’s fireplace or TV, while singing and dancing to our own self styled choreography in dress up clothes. It was one of the staples of my childhood, something that makes me smile to this day.

The other day, I was driving down the road and ”Gloria” by Laura Branigan came on, it reminded me of a show I put on for my Aunt Pat while visiting her home in Visalia when I was younger. She talked about that show for the rest of her life. My sister Carrie and I put oleanders in our waist bands and danced in front her her fireplace singing ”Gloria”. She LOVED it and always talked about it. She always laughed that we put poison flowers on out of her yard though!

The day of the show with my Great Auntie P Stevens



Then there was my Aunt Jeanette’s 40th birthday, where we cooked her dry chicken and danced to ”Tiny Bubbles” and ”Hukilau” in our dining room. I told her that next year when I turn 40, she is dancing for me in my kitchen!

The most famous shows have to do with my cousin’s Brianne, Rissa, and Sarah along with my sister Carrie. Our favorite show was to play Kids INC., where we fought over who got to be Stacy or Martika, nobody ever wanted to be Renee. We would stand in front of our grandparents garage rehearsing the opening credits from the show over and over.

The other day my co-worker Joey and I were having a disagreement over which channel Kids Inc. originally appeared on. Turns out we were both right! I told him don’t test my expertise of Kids Inc!



We had an entire dance routine to ”Surfin Safari” and ”Opposites Attract”  by Paula Abul. We had sleepovers and there was always a show to be had. Our parents sat through many an off key performance filled with fighting over who was doing what!

My dad and our grandpa would empty their pockets into a jar for us to have a party every labor day weekend. The famous back to school party, where one year we dressed up like our favorite performer and put on a giant show with individual routines. By that time I was in high school and decided to be the emcee so I dressed up as ”Downtown Julie Brown”. Somewhere there is a video of that day.




On Saturday, I was driving around and heard ”Circle in the Sand” and at one point did one of the moves to my cousins routine. Brianne, Jillie, Caiti, Sarah, Rissa and our neighbor Ariele had a routine to that song and I can still see them dancing it in my head. I did the clap at ”Waves Crash baby don’t look back” and my family laughed so hard.



I love hearing the songs on the radio that we used to use for our shows. Such great memories come back to me and maybe a few moves too. I love seeing videos of the next generation dancing and singing in front of the fireplace. Definitely the music that takes me back and makes me happy.


The Music That Takes Me Back Series: ”The Chipper Chicken”

Years ago, I started the Music that Takes Me Back Series ( if you click on that title it will take you to my first post) as a way to deal with 9/11 PTSD  surrounding that day, which is also my birthday. I used to write the whole month of August as a way to stop my fixation on fear, worry, dread and anxiety. The past two years, I have been busy working at my job with little time to blog.

The series has been a way to pay homage to friendship and the music I love. My co-worker Joey said a week ago, ” I am sure Julie doesn’t know that song, she seems more like a James Taylor type” ………I think those loyal readers, friends and family know he could not be more wrong.

Last week, I was thinking about a couple of songs that I would like to write about before my birthday. Then last night as I was watching My Best Friend’s Wedding, I heard the song that has a story. Fitting since the first post of this series ( link above) is about the two song my Dad sang to us in the rocking chair.

”The Way You Look Tonight” is the song I danced with my Dad to on my wedding day. Nobody knew the story behind why I chose that song.

My love of weddings goes back to when I was five years old and watching Princess Di walk down the aisle of St.Paul’s Cathedral. Everyone knows that story and if you don’t, you can read it here.

Christmas Break 1991, my Dad and I went on a father daughter date. He took me to see Steve Martin in Father of the Bride. I remember watching that movie together, thinking someday that would be him and I. I remember seeing tears in his eyes at one point, little did we both know that day would be five years later.

My love of Father of the Bride is legendary….everyone knows that I watched that movie obsessively for about ten years, now watching only once a year. I can quote it with the best of them, I can do Franhnk better than Martin Short himself.

So when it came time to pick a song to dance with Dad to I picked ”The Way You Look Tonight” the theme song to the movie. It reminded me of that Father/ Daughter date just a few years before. Now everytime I hear that song, I think of my emotional dance with my Dad on my wedding day.

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Just the other day my friend Danielle texted me that she was making ”the chipper chicken” because she knows my love of the movie.


Oh yes, I had a wonderful wedding cake because ”the KaKH decide the whole theme of the wadding”

Thankfully my Dad gave me a wonderful wedding and acted nothing like George Banks. Just a little of the music that takes me back.

If you would like to read the entire series:



Tears for Fears


Beach Boys


Welcome Back Kotter


The Muppets

The House that Built Me

Goody Two Shoes


Reality Bites

Come on Eileen

Jack Johnson


The Cure was Morrissey

Please Dont Go Girl

The Monkees ( Cortney’s birthday Blog) 

Jesus Freak

Just a Girl, My No Doubt Story

The World According to Betty Brown

Today would have been my Grandma’s 90th birthday, I miss her every single day and wish that I could call her up to hear her voice. Recently, I have been talking about her often with my co-workers when I do something she would have done. Even they know my life is lived by, ”What Would Betty Brown Do?”


Grandma and Grandpa

In honor of Grandma, I thought that I would write a blog with the whit and wisdom of Betty Brown.

On parenting:

The first time I called her when both Conner and I were sick,; ”You’re a mom know, doesn’t matter if you’re sick. Get over it.” and I did. She taught me that being a mom meant that I was second and my children were first. She lived her whole life for her kids and grandkids.



On potty training and bottle weaning; ”He isn’t going to go to Kindergarten wearing a diaper and carrying a bottle.” basically stop worrying about it and it will happen. She was right.

On gift wrapping, ”Are you going to iron that ribbon before you put it on that package?” and she made me do that.

On being a hostess: The door is always open, just walk on in and be sure to treat your guests like family. Someone doesn’t have a family? take them in and make them your family. That was the hostess spirit of Betty and it lives on in this house.

Don’t let anybody see your house dirty and you better clean like the dickens when they come over. Also, if you want it done right, do it yourself.

On Everything Else: if you can’t do it yourself, sit right behind the person and tell them how to do it. My Dad and his brother are VERY good at this and their children will often say, ”okay Grandma”

On being sick:  ” get one of grandpa’s socks and put Vicks on your throat, safety pin the sock to your neck..” or ”gargle with some salt water”  while singing, ”Button up your overcoat, eat an apple everyday, take good care of yourself, you belong to me..”

On sibling rivalry:” Well, your sister really did never like you” ”work it out amongst yourselves”

On life: ”Faith, Hope and Love” and the golden rule.

On doing things you didn’t like to do: ”That will be another rose in your crown in heaven.”

On Christmas: A Christmas tree must be perfect, no holes, it may take two weeks to find one and that is okay. Blown glass ornaments are best, smallest to largest in the perfect placement. It is completely acceptable to re-arrange the ornaments after the first placement. Tradition is everything


On being upset and whining: ”If your mad, you will get glad again..” ”Would you like some cheese with that whine”

On manners: ”Tables are for glasses not for little asses”’ but under the table is a great place to play.

On resting: A good nap makes everything better. Grandma was a firm believer in naps and I still take a nap at least twice a week!

She wasn’t your typical old lady grandma, she wasn’t huggy and lovey, she was a grandma with an edge and wit. She was always there when I needed her, just a phone call away. She loved me like nobody else in life but she didn’t molly coddle me or sugar coat anything. She was a good listener and gave the world’s best advice.

She worked hard for her family and made a nice home for them. I learned so much on being a wife, mother and friend from her.

In the years since she died, which is fast approaching ten, I have written so many blogs about her and share her wisdom, she was larger than life ( though, she was only 5’1 and 3/4, yes that 3/4 was important)  and one of a kind.

Once, while in her yard together, a butterfly landed on my shoulder, she told me that was good luck. Twice in the past week, a butterfly has landed on me. My grandma is in heaven but it was a little reminder of her here on earth.

Happy 90th birthday to the incomparable Betty Brown!

Grandma and me


Happy 30th Birthday Christopher!

Something many people may not know is that when I was eight years old, I became an aunt to a beautiful bald baby boy Christopher. Now for the entire time his mom, my older sister was pregnant, we thought he was a girl alas we were wrong.

He came home to live with us July 13, 1985. I will never forget his bassinet next to the t.v. as I watched the entire day of the Live Aid broadcast. Maybe that music filled his soul as later he would become quite the free spirit in life.

I remember counting all his fingers and toes that day, looking him over in awe and wonder. I loved holding him and rocking him to sleep. What many don’t know is that along with my mom, I helped raise him, the first fifteen years of his life.



In my heart, I always think of him as my own, I often will tell people in a lot of ways I became a mom at eight years old. He wasn’t mine but I cared for him as my own. I walked him to school in Kindergarten, baby sat him after school until mom came home from work.



In high school, I picked him up from school everyday and helped him with his homework.  I snuggled with him and loved him as my own.


Later he moved close to us in Visalia and he babysat my kids for me as I went out and did things. We grew up together, we had our ups and downs, not seeing eye to eye and sometimes not speaking.




Then he became a Dad as well, to a little boy who looked just like him. Now he is a wonderful father to his two boys, raising them pretty much on his own. I am proud of the hard working dad he as become.



It is hard to wrap my mind around being the aunt of a 30 year old father of two. Man, that makes me feel so old. In a lot of ways he is still my little ” Chrissy”, I see his face in the face of his son every time I see a picture.

Happy 30th birthday Chrissy, I wish you peace, love, happiness and joy in your 30’s and always. I will always love you, no matter what. Auntie is proud of you.

Full Circle

Three years ago, we were getting ready to move to Tennessee. It was a sudden change that wasn’t planned. We had planned to move to the south but the plan was Peachtree City, Georgia.

After my trip to the Mixtape Festival to see NKOTB for the first time in 23 years. Marty dropped a bomb on me, he wanted to move to TN. Queue the screeching record, ”Say what?! NO! We are moving to Georgia” fight.

I prayed and talked to a friend in Knoxville, that led me to a job opportunity and plans for our family to move. Thankfully I had a family of Twitter friends that lived in the area aside from my high school friend. So I didn’t feel completely alone but was scared to move to a place where I virtually knew nobody.

My sweet blockhead Twitter friend Lori heard about my move and immediately tweeted a friend of hers on Twitter to introduce me.



Abbie told me that she didn’t live in Knoxville but immediately added my name to a tweet with two girls who did live in Knoxville. She tweeted two friends of her’s, Melani and Sheree. Immediately we started a tweet exchange that lasted until we finally met up for lunch at Pei Wei, after I moved to Knoxville.

My first NKOTB show in the south, I went alone ( shout out to my seat friend Christina, who I met that night) but that was okay because Melani and Sheree came to check on me the whole show.

They took me out to lunch for my birthday at a beautiful restaurant. We sat on the patio having a very tough but heartfelt conversation about our current situations. It was during that conversation they mentioned their company was hiring, I had heard them talk about work before but had no clue where they worked or what they did? I knew it was a good job because of all the opportunities that had been afforded to them.


Two weeks later, I was hired at my current job that has opened so many doors for my family. Melani and Sheree are amazing friends, they have helped our family find a safety net here in Knoxville. They have helped out in so many ways and we have become family. Sheree would maim anyone that hurt my family, she amuses my kids greatly. Melani and I are so much alike, she is such a beautiful soul.

I finally met Abbie in person at Christmas time, we sat down over lunch and had the best time. We are both talkers and could probably talk for days without getting tired. She is a true lionhearted person, such an amazing friend to anyone that knows her and again, someone I know would drive across this state if I needed her. A few months ago, I tweeted something about a doctor’s appointment for Marty and she immediately texted me telling me what to do. She and I share a love of our dogs, she loves Oscar and she was a friend of Max.

Abbie and I connect on a level of deeper understanding that not many understand, we share a bond in life. A couple of months ago, she adopted me as a sister of the heart? how about that? usually I do all the adopting. I adore her and would drive across this state if she ever needed me.

I have seen NKOTB enough and had experiences some only dream of having. I really wasn’t planning on going to a show this year. My friend Lindsey even invited me to a wonderful opportunity in San Francisco and I turned her down.

Alas, I had a dream of sitting next to Melani and Sheree to see NKOTB sitting together. So when Melani texted that her friend Susan was buying tickets to Atlanta, front row…I couldn’t say no. Plus, I did almost move to Atlanta, I never pass an opportunity to see one of my favorite cities.

So last night, we went to finally live our dream of seeing a show together. I messaged a few friends that I know that go to Atlanta, to be sure I would see them. Of course, I messaged Abbie, hoping that she would have time to at least hug.





Abbie is a busy girl but she went out of her way to find me last night and spend time talking with me. In probably one of the most beautiful moments in my life, I am crying tears typing this sentence, the most wonderful thing happened.

To me, the biggest sap in the world, this picture represents a full circle. I nearly bawled and my heart was exploding. These beautiful, strong, intelligent, hard working women changed my life and I will be forever grateful.



After that everything was icing on the cake. I had such a great trip with Melani and Sheree, getting to know their childhood friend Susan too. These girls know how to see a show and it was such a great experience. Of course, Joe Mc Intyre singing ”Please Don’t Go Girl” to me, made my twelve year old heart explode. Poor Melani heard that video twenty times before bed last night.

I just kept looking at Melani during the show, we were singing together. It was so fun to be at a show together and experience all we talk about in her corner office together during my breaks at work.

Dreams do come true. I loved seeing NKOTB last night, it never gets old and every show is special but for me, it is and will always be about being with my friends and spending time with them. I have met the band twice and really am fine with never meeting them again, I love the fan friend part of it and seeing my fan friends more than anything.

It was such a beautiful experience and my heart is forever grateful to Lori, Abbie, Melani and Sheree. Your tweets changed my life. I always tell people that Twitter and five boys from Boston, changed my life in some really great ways.



Our during the show selfies!

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This is sweet Sarah, we met on Twitter before Mixtape. Met up at Mixtape, she came to check on me at the first Atlanta show and we finally got to see each other again last night. She came up right at the right time to take my full circle picture. Thanks Sweet Sarah!



A/N there are four more people that if ever the chance, I would love to see a show with and Lori is one of them. Let’s make it happen Lori!

Mother’s Day

I know, I know…I haven’t been writing a lot lately. Going back to work has taken a huge chunk of my blogging time. When I am home it is time for the family and short blips on FB, Twitter and Instagram. This blog has been swirling around in my head for a long time. Finally putting it on paper.

My mom stayed home briefly during my formative years. She was always a working mom, teaching pre-school while my sister and I were in pre-school, working at a tire re-treading company and finally Disneyland. She worked hard to help provide for us.

Her sister was a hard working corporate secretary. I always remember my aunt working hard M-F at her job.

My Gramie took care of my siblings and my cousins during the week. She worked at home so her daughters could have careers. Gramie was our stay at home mom.


My Grandma Brown was a hard worker. She worked for Alpha Beta grocery company until I was in high school. I always thought it was odd that she worked at night, I remember everyday she laid down for a nap before work. She worked hard to provide for her family and was a dedicated employee.

I totally understand why she worked at night now, guess who works the same shift for the same reasons as she did? Thougth she has been gone almost ten years, I feel closer to her than ever working at night.

My Aunt Patty is a hard worker, I really hope someday she can retired and enjoy her family. Never seen a harder worker.

Aunt Donna is a hard worker, working hard to provide for her family.

I grew up thinking I would always be a working mom. I never dreamed of being a stay at home mom, the women in my family worked aside from my Aunt Alison. Staying home was a privilege that I only thought would be a pipe dream.

My Aunt Maggie and I had kids around the same time. Both working mom’s until around 2005 when we both became stay at home mom’s. A rare thing in our family, we quickly learned staying at home is just as hard as being a working mom. It is a privilege but it is hard work that you just don’t get paid for except in hugs and kisses. It is a rewarding job and I am so thankful for the seven years I was able to stay at home.

It was during my time as a stay at home mom that Marty got sick. We were faced with thoughts of the future that may not include him. One of things that ate at us during his time sick was what I would do if he didn’t make it? It was his great desire that as soon as he was well, that I start making a career for myself.

That was one of the reasons we moved to Tennessee, so I could have an opportunity to have a career to support myself if I ever needed. So I have gone back to being a working mom trying to juggle it all. I am thankful for the job that I am in and the opportunities it holds for me.

I see my cousins working hard as mom’s too. All of them except one are working mom’s taking after their mom’s and grandma too.

When I was nine years old, I became an aunt which I truly consider my first role as a mom. I got the chance to help raise my nephew Christopher. I took him to school, helped him do his homework, watched him after school and for a long time helped my mom fill the role of mom for him.

Then I became a baby sitter to Kevin and Caiti F., getting to help take care of them as babies. I loved them like my own.

I always wanted to be a mom, it was a dream come true when I had my own children Conner and Elizabeth. I will never forget the first time my Grandma Brown reminded me, my life was not about myself anymore.

Being a mom in whatever role requires putting yourself aside and giving focus to people who need you the most. Being a mom is not easy, working or non working. You have people depending on you to show them the way and guide them. Somedays you feel like you’re failing miserably and other days you feel like you’re winning.

I am thankful for all the women in my life that showed me the way. So many different women I have learned from, I am thankful for all of them in my life.

So for all the mom’s out there, whatever that role may look like for you, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s days.

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Happy 15th birthday E!

Today my baby turns 15, where does time go? Seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting her birthday. So many people were thrilled that day because she shares a birthday with quite a few people in our life.

The last year has been a tough year for Elizabeth. Getting braces turned out to be rough and a long battle ensued. She also has learned to let go of her life in California and embrace life in Tennessee, something we learned together.

She has a wonderful new best friend Miranda, she is a talented baker with amazing skills in the kitchen. She is thoughtful and a girl of grace, she really has a deep faith.

The most exciting thing for this momma, is finally we share something in common. She is an anglophile too!!! Oh how I waited for the day to have something in common with her! Of course, her’s is all about Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Now we talk about the future and where she is going, it’s not about stuffed animals and AWANA anymore. It’s fun to see her going to bridal showers and weddings for youth group leaders and slowly merging from childhood into the adult world.

Happy birthday E, we are so proud of you!

A look back to the baby days!

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Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Elizabeth turns 10Create your own slideshow - Powered by SmileboxThis free slideshow design customized with Smilebox

Goodbye Max

Today with great sadness, we put Max to sleep. He is a social media legend, famous around the world. His legend and stories will live on forever. Our family had a real live version of Snoopy, he was our owner and he knew it.

He could be a real jerk, doing what he pleased. He hasn’t been himself for months and we decided it was time for him. Our head said one thing and our heart said another.

I have written over on Max’s blog sharing two last classic Max stories, don’t worry, there is a laugh in there.

In Loving Memory of MaxCito Burrito Man Old Man Manno Timms 03/30/01-04/02/15:


If you would like to make a donation in memory of Max, please donate to the Young-Williams animal center who provided excellent end of life care for him today:

Treasures from the Cedar Chest: First Anniversary Card

On our first anniversary, my mom gave us a card. I remember at the time, the sentiment didn’t make a lot of sense to me. 19 years later, I understand the sentiment completely




After 19 years of marriage, we have built a bridge together. We have overcome so much together and achieved more than could be imagined. I think many people on the day we got married, thought we wouldn’t make it.

A nineteen and twenty year old, working at Disneyland on minimum wage. Both from broken homes, living with Marty’s dad. All we really had was our love, family and friends.

19 years later, we built a bridge over death, sickness, financial woes, parenting two kids, a crazy dog, moving first 300 miles and then 3000 miles away from our family. Friends and family have come and gone, here we are still standing together.

We are now at an interesting place, on the cusp of middle age with an almost 18 year old and fifteen year old. Lately our talk is more of traveling in a few years when the kids are grown, what the kids are going to do with their lives, tough talks about aging dogs and the future ahead.

We know there are tough times to come, we will face them together as a team, like we always have and we look forward to the good times to come. Someday being in laws and grandparents are high on the list of things we look forward to someday.

Teamwork, fierce determination, hard work together have built the bridge. I saved this card for 18 years and it finally makes sense.

19 years, I’ve been married as long as I was old at the time of our wedding. Half of my life, pretty amazing feeling. Thankful to have had a wonderful partner along the way. Happy 19th anniversary Marty!