Peace Out Yáll

I am so glad to have a blogging break, this NaBloPoMo started to be taxing at the end but I made it and another year under my belt.  Next year will be the final NaBloPoMo for me and it is definitely time to move on from this.

Still I am glad that I did it and marked another year of milestones for the family including my 10th Blogaversary.

Thank you all for reading, I couldn’t or wouldn’t have done it without you. I love hearing your feedback and what you think of each blog. It means the world to me.

I appreciate you all and will see you soon. Now I am going to rest my blogging fingers for a bit.

Obsessive Ornament Placement Disorder

Today I put up my Christmas tree, I always decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving so I have plenty of time to enjoy the holidays. This year, I bought a real tree and shatterproof ornaments at Costco which are surprisingly nice. Who knew I would like a themed tree? E said, ” see what happens when you open your eyes to new possibilities?”


This Christmas marks an occasion that I wish wasn’t being marked. Ten years ago next month, I spent my very last Christmas at my Grandparents house. We went down for a Christmas break to spend time with Grandpa and Grandma. We had such a great visit, truly one that would have to last me for the rest of my life.

I took this off the cuff picture of the Gold Standard of Christmas trees. The best and the one I judge every other Christmas tree on. It was her last and one that I can look at over and over, in fact I do look at it often.


After my grandparents death, my Dad could not be brought to put the tree up again even though he had the tree and many of the ornaments. He gave his ornaments to me so I could put them to use and they now hang on my tree. Which is why, I don’t want to put them on my tree with this crazy cat this year until I train her not to touch the tree.

Our family loves Christmas, that is proof because over 90 blogs on this blog are about Christmas. We love Christmas music,which now I am able to listen to without bawling for the most part ( read the link to find out why it makes me cry). There are a couple songs that get me, Rudolph usually is the one. I wrote a great post about holidays past, you can read that here.

Christmas reminds us of Grandma, we carry on her traditions including obsessive ornament placement disorder which we all have and I am probably judging your Christmas tree with that eye. No going to even lie about that.  Poor E tried to help today, she placed one and saw me twitching and sat down. She did a good job prepping the ornaments though, I couldn’t have done it without her. She helps by telling me from behind where the holes are.

I spent time talking to Dad today, he shared something exciting that shows that time marches on and we eventually heal. He had been telling my aunt Maggie, how it bothers me he won’t put up a tree. He lives in a tiny home perfect for him so a tree just won’t fit. That being said, his mother is likely twitching in her niche, she would want him to have a tree. So my aunt ordered him a tree that is mounted on a pole, all you have to do is put up the pole and drop the tree over. He has a pre-decorated tree now and my heart is happy. Thanks Auntie Mags


I love that we carry on and traditions keep us close even far away. Sure is hard to believe this marks our 9th Christmas without Grandma. I love knowing she is behind every tradition we have and keeping her memory alive.

I look forward to judging all of your trees on FB. So far everyone has great trees and I haven’t had to mentally move too many ornaments yet!

Some Christmases past






2009-12-06 07.13.11


Best Game of the Season

College Football season is coming to an end. I didn’t grow up a college football fan, we only watched Packer games growing up.  When Marty had his transplant at Stanford, we decided that would be our family college team and we would all root for Stanford.

Then we moved to the heart of the SEC and Vol country. If you live in Knoxville, TN…you don’t have much of a choice but to be a Vol fan. It’s our family team and we enjoy rooting for the Vols.

Of course, football season is all about keeping up with Mr.Fitz and his teams. He loves to catch me out when I am least prepared to discuss football. We have a lot of fun each week jibbing and jabbing via text across the country.

Tonight, we texted the Stanford and ND game, our teams finally meeting up to have the best game of the season. It was so much fun to watch together and text. His Ducks beat Stanford last week and The Cardinal beat his ND this week.

On to bowl game and playoff time!

I Can Make It

I am burned out on daily blogging, writers block with no ideas except that I know that I need to blog.

Today was a lazy leftover day for our family, we had a nice day of doing nothing. Ate leftovers and then watched the Macy’s day parade today.

I took a nice nap on the couch and then E and I decorated for Christmas while listening to Christmas music.

One thing this weekend, I had a tablecloth on the table that Max ripped a hole in and today we found his stocking. We are missing him at the holidays but E said it best today,  this holiday would have been a whole lot worse without Susan.

She has kept us on our toes this Thanksgiving and we know she is going to go crazy for Christmas stuff. She already has been dragging an angel off the centerpiece on the table.

Hope you all had a nice day today too! Only a few more days of this blogging business.

All the Stuffing is Made on The Table with Care

It’s almost like the night before Christmas in our house. Stuffing is prepped on the table, sausage chilling in the fridge and all the side dishes made or started. Now making this large meal is so much easier with the kids being older and our borrowed kid home from college.

Our friend Ross is here for the holidays home from college so we have some extra hands. He was marveling at the large portions that I make because I only know how to make for twenty people. The recipes I know, I only know if large portions.

I have to work for four hours tomorrow, so the kids will be manning the fort until I get home at noon. I love that they are ready for that challenge.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Time Machine Tuesday

I am worn out today, very stressful day at work. So it is definitely a Time Machine Tuesday day! Click on the dates to read the posts.

11/23/2003– It’s not today but it is one of my first blogs. I have come a long way as a person and a blogger.

11/26/2006– This is a funny blog about being accosted at the park by a woman that asked me all sorts of personal questions.

11/23/2007– I still dread Christmas at times. This year because it will be the 10th Christmas since Grandma got sick. Most Christmas music doesn’t make me cry anymore but ”Rudolph” and ”Here Comes Santa Claus” when sung by Gene Autry will make me ball like a baby.

11/23/2008– I took a day off and did nothing. If you know me, you know this is a big deal

11/23/2009–  Elizabeth’s birth story

11/22/2010– I still wish the same thing, I think about it all the time but I can do nothing to change the way others react.

11/24/2011– Still Thankful for all of these things and more

11/22/2012– Another Thanksgiving post, all the things I am thankful for still

11/24/2013– 11 Things About Me

11/24/2014– Leapin’Lizards, I still love Annie

So writing this blog, I found out something disturbing about 11/24, this is the day that I have forgotten to blog a FEW years. Something I or others never caught. Some of the 11/24 posts were dumb, so I shared posts from a surrounding date. Thanks for reading along!

The Ringleader

Today at work, someone was talking about their family and cousins. I heard someone say they only had one cousin, I heard someone else say they had five cousins. Then I chimed in, ” I am the oldest of fourteen grandchildren” to which I got a incredulous stare. Tonight, while working somehow it came up with my co-worker Ahmad that I was the ringleader of the cousins. I was the oldest, the Pied Piper of sorts. I held incredible sway on those kids and had fun exercising my authority.

I was kind of a mischevious imp as a child. I always was curious and eventually had playmates to encourage to join my mischief. First came my sister Carrie, then we gained our cousin Brianne, then Sarah, then Rissa, then Jessie and we had a lot of fun together. Can you imagine there were seven little girls running around until finally we got our first boy cousin. Out of 14 only three are boys.



Nearly every weekend was a sleepover at our grandparents or someone else’s house. We had the best imaginations and could make the best fun out of nothing. One of my favorite stories is the time I convinced them all to move our grandmothers heirloom dining room table out of the way and roll up her rug under the table so that we could pretend to ice skate around the dining room. I now can laugh at the wrath of our Grandmother which was NOT funny at the time. I don’t think that is the day she kicked us out of the house, that came later.


Then the time our grandma gave us money to walk to the store to buy breakfast? We came back with complete crap and our Aunt Maggie sent us back to buy ”decent food”

Then there is the infamous hill rolling incident at Penn Park. We went to roll down hills one day after school and then I nearly killed us all when my brakes went out as we went down hill. Then we drove home with no brakes. On the eve of our cousin’s wedding, we went hill rolling together once again taking my children and our younger cousins. I once again was ringleader forgetting that the Bride had a broken neck….whoops.


We put on shows for our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles. Dancing, singing and playing dress up until I was a teenager. We always had a New Years eve party, that ended the next morning with me waking up my cousins to force them to watch my beloved Rose Parade with me! I remember one year making them wear paper crowns and dragging them around in a wagon pretending they were Rose Princesses.

We truly have a one of a kind unique situation in our closeness as not only cousins but the best of friends. We fought like siblings at times but the minutes somebody tried to come at one of us, you got all of us backing the other. The are my very best friends in the world.

My kids got to grow up with my younger cousins and our cousin Jessiça’s son. They didn’t get to have the same experiences but have some fun memories together.

Now there is a set of TN Brown cousins, the younger kids look up to Conner and Elizabeth loving when they come to visit.

Now there is a new generation of cousins in California, in the last four years there have been five new  new babies born to that group. One of my greatest fears is their kids won’t know me since I live so far away. My cousin Rissa has sent me pictures every week for the first year her kids were born. My cousin’s Sarah and Jill send me baby pictures all the time making sure I see their kids grow up.( Potato, just so you know, you can thank your sister for setting a high bar of expectations)

A few weeks ago, I was Facetiming my cousin Sarah and her son Noah. I was showing him our animals and chatting with him.

Last night, I called my Dad at Sunday dinner, a weekly gathering of my family at different people’s houses. We were Facetiming when Noah came up to the screen, looked at me and said, ”Cat?” I nearly broke down in tears, he knew me!! Later I found out from his mom that she asked who my Dad was talking to and he told her, ” Julie!” and ran off to talk to me. I was so excited and happy, their momma’s do a great job of making sure they know me.

I count my blessings and one of the things that I am most thankful for are my cousins. In growing up in a large group of people, you learn a lot of life lessons on how to treat others, your place in life and how you aren’t more important than the next guy. You learn that people get mad but they get glad again and conflict resolution is important. You learn to share your things and space. So many lessons, stories and adventures to cram into one blog.



Two Car Family Once Again

I was talking to my friend Ginni about being transparent on my blog, how sometimes I share things I really don’t want to share in hopes of encouraging someone else with my honesty. In reality this is really a long story that I would rather not share but it involves having a trusting faith in the midst of trials.

Not sure where this story really begins, I think it begins ten years ago, on my 30th birthday when our family car broke down which ended up causing a ten year series of events regarding our car situation. We moved to TN with two cars, one we owned and one we had to finish paying off and then we would be completely debt free.

We had plans to keep one of the cars for the kids, repair the other and buy a newer car for me to commute. I’ve never had a car of my own choosing and it was my turn to pick. We were two car payments away, so close…….

One June day, Marty and the kids were out running errands when that car broke down. I was trying to get to rescue them and thought I was putting coolant in my car, only to find out I was putting a coolant and oil mixture that had been drained from our other car. I only made it so far and broke down, I called my co-worker Melissa who rescued my entire family as both cars had to be towed home.

We got my car repaired and running again, when then very next day Marty was driving home from dropping Conner off at work, he got hit by someone who pulled out from a two way stop near our house. He was able to avoid hitting that car but my car was totaled as it came to a stop hitting another car. Thankfully, my good friends Melani and Sheree had just brought me their second car Gertie to drive while the truck was in the shop.

It turned out, my car was totaled and our truck needed repairs that were over what we wanted to spend while still making payments. So we had a rental car from the insurance and Gertie for awhile, Marty was out of school and thankfully only I had to work.

During this time, I felt a strong peace. God was telling me, it was going to be okay and turn out to be a blessing. My car was needing a lot of repairs and truthfully wasn’t the safest car in the world, nobody really liked me driving that car.

We got a check from the other insurance, I went to Carmax and got a wonderful 2013 Dodge Dart with all the bells and whistles for less than the payment we had on our truck. We paid the truck off with that money as well.

Bad news is, we needed to buy another car but at this point our savings was tapped and we knew that we could sell our truck for a good amount of money even needing repair, after it was paid off.

We gave Gertie back to Melani and Sheree once school started, my supervisors worked to change my schedule around so that I could pick Marty up on my lunch hour and ride share. We have been ride sharing since August with one car and its been okay, except for the high amount of mileage we put on my new car. We have two teenagers with busy schedules, two working parents with busy schedules, Marty and I have spent the last five months on burnout.

There have been blessings in those five months, it worked out with me working some long days I could stay and hang out around work and taking a longer lunch.

I got news that my schedule would be changing and the hour lunch would no longer be an option for me, in reality, I could have  panicked and freaked out but after five months of blessings, I knew it would work out.

Marty’s friend Ray mentioned he had a friend with a car lot and took Marty down there. We were able to sell our truck to him for exactly what it was worth unrepaired and buy a nice truck for Marty with four wheel drive, something we need when I have to commute to work in the snow this winter.

We are very thankful that God turned the trials into blessings and joy. Both cars replaced after struggling through and after many years of being in a tough car situation. Funny enough, both cars equal the payment that we had on our truck, so we are spending no more money than before and we are still fairly debt free.

It has been a very long five months but we have seen so many blessings in this situation and God has worked it out for the better.We are so thankful for everyone that has prayed and helped out in the last five months, you’re all blessings to us.

Passage of the Torch

A few months ago, E approached me about starting another blog. She had blogged a bit when she was 10 on Blogger about being a younger sister but quit as most ten year olds with a passing fancy. She told me that she wanted to start a blog about her love of all things nerdy and baking. Personally, I thought it was a great idea especially because she was carrying a huge burden that we had hidden from everyone.

E was suffering from crippling anxiety that started when we moved from California to Tennessee and was excerbated by getting braces. Last winter, I was terrified as a mother only confiding in a couple close friends about what was happening with her. We were at our wits end trying everything except the strong medications used that have serious side affects. They were something we didn’t want to explore without trying all other options.

She opened a WordPress blog and built it herself, taking her own pictures and doing all of the set up. Then she wrote her first blog and I was blown away, my daughter can write! She has a natural talent that reminds me of a good friend of mines writing. It is witty, candid, self deprecating and transparency all with great style and structure.

To say I am proud is an understatement, the torch has been passed and this blog has been surpassed. She has friends who beg her to write new installments and she has touched many hearts sharing her painful struggle with anxiety publicly for the first time.

She’s written a bit about baking instead transitioning into sharing her own personal journey. Now she is getting ready to fight her anxiety by traveling on a mission trip to Nicaragua. She has assured us, that she is not going to let her anxiety win and she wants to go experience another culture.

We are so proud of her decision and told her that we would fully support her decision despite our own fears and anxiety. Scary to send your teenager off to another country especially your teenager with anxiety. We have faith that she will be fine and trust in her faith decision to go.

You should go read her blog, it is good stuff and I am excited to see what she writes next. She was only five years old when I started blogging and grew up watching me post, I love that she has chosen to take on my hobby and write better than her mom. Proudly passing the torch to the next generation blogger in the family.