40 thoughts on my  40th birthday

Every year, I write a blog on my birthday. I almost didn’t this year because I almost didn’t remember my password!

This year leading up to my birthday was great. I was on severe exhaustion and burnout from work. I decided to go home to California to see as many of my family and friends as I could. 

Also, my friend Melani had invited me up to VA to spend this weekend with her and our friend Sheree. Sheree had given me a time limit to get up there before she just took me.

My whirlwind trip home took the place of my annual “Music That Takes Me Back” series. I didn’t have one minute of birthday depression this year at all.

I got to have a Disneyland reunion with my dear Disney family.

A Hilltop reunion with my Hilltop guys to celebrate turning 40.

I got to see Fuller House tape and my dear friend AB

My family surprised me by turning their normal Sunday Dinner into a 40th party with a couple of dear old friends invited including my oldest friend.

I went to our old hometown and ended up being driven by my sister of the heart Olga to see our friend Alyce in the hospital battling Leukemia. 

I spent precious time with both parents 

God orchestrated this trip, from the money to go to the exact dates.

During the trip, as my family gathered to celebrate my birthday, I got the call Sheree had passed away suddenly during a nap. God gave me the peace to still enjoy my party. 

I came home to travel to VA to say goodbye to Sheree on a beautiful blue day. Then this Thursday God decided it was Alyce’s time as well. It’s been a quiet day reflecting on life and love.

 It’s been a huge reminder to just embrace and live life.

1. Life is too short to be unhappy 

2. Spend the money and if you don’t have it, find it.

3. Just do it

4. If people walk away, let them and do t chase after them.

5. Friends are precious make time to be with them. 

6. Every minute with my parents is precious

7. Beauty is from within

8. Never forget, I’ve learned to start my day watching the memorials and then shut off the tv. I used to spend days watching specials and that wasn’t good.

9. Some people are just mean, what a waste of time and energy

10. Enjoy the sunshine

11. Take time to tell people you love them

12. Look for the positive in everything and everyone 

13. Don’t get so wrapped up in yourself that you don’t see people needing you

14. Be someone’s sunshine 

15. Work hard

16. Don’t work too hard

17. Take a leap of faith

18. Don’t live in the past

19.  Stop and make the time

20. Say I’m sorry 

21. Gods grace and mercy are amazing 

22. Listen to that small voice, that’s God and he might be saying something important 

23. Answered prayers come when you least expect them

24. Family is everything 

25. I have the best cousins

26. My grandparents left an amazing legacy that is still blessing people today.

27.  I’m blessed to have a job that touches lives daily

28. I’ve got some amazing co workers

29. Twitter changed my life and is the reason I have said job

30.  Don’t take anything foregranted

31. Parenting teens and young adults isn’t easy nor for the faint at heart

32. Time with your kids is precious, they’re so important 

33. There’s no place like home

34. I’ve got amazing friends who are extraordinary people 

35. Sometimes you fail and that’s okay

36. Pick yourself up and keep going

37. I’m strong

38. Looking forward to a bright future

39. See the world, learn other cultures and be accepting of people where they’re at. Love people for who they are.

40. Worrying is a waste of time and energy. This is one I’m still working on.

I’m hoping the next 40 are just as packed as the last 40, Jules

It’s a Small World After All

I grew up in idllyic suburb of LA, the town of Whittier. My Grandpa owned the liquor store, my grandparents were card playing buddies who were from Kansas and went to the same Catholic church. My parents grew up knowing each other and everyone just kind of knows everyone in Whittier.

My little elementary school Scott ave is where I met some of my favorite fellow ”townies” as my cousin Andy calls Whittierites. My childhood best friend was Christena, she is your classic townie and knows everyone. My parents and I eventually moved outside of Whitter, but our family stayed.

My parents divorced and Whittier became my place during my Dad’s weekend visitations. On Friday nights, we would get Little Ceasars pizza and watch TGIF with my aunts, cousins, grandparents and uncles. Such great family memories around the tv on Friday nights.

Every weekend, my cousins and I would walk to Whittwood mall to hang out or I would walk there to meet Christena or walk to her house.  Christena and I had many fun weekend adventures. One week she called me in high school in 1991, would my Dad drive us to LA to attend a taping of Full House? She knew Andrea, who played Kimmy Gibbler. So one Friday night, my Dad, Andrea’s Dad, Christena and I set out from Whittier to Burbank.  I first met my friend Andrea on the set of Full House, she showed us around and we saw a taping. Such a fun memory and one of my favorite teenage memories.

Full House has great childhood memories for me as it does many people. Later in 1996 while working at Disneyland with my friends April and Becky, I read an article about Candace Cameron getting married at 19 just like myself. Eventually that led me to her website and forums. I found a prayer thread and wondered, ”who prays for these prayer requests?” and kind of made it my job to make sure the Full House fans prayers were being prayed. That led to me meeting a girl Stacy, a fellow Christian on the board and we eventually asked Candace if we could led bible studies on her board. I ended up meeting so many Full House fans who became friends along the way and helping Gemma from Australia manage the forums on the site.

I reconnected with Andrea online, where we realized, we know so many of the same people. Andrea is a townie just like Christena and I, our families are connected six ways to Sunday. Her brother was my grandparents lawyer, the above mentioned April is her friend now too, etc. It’s kind of comical really, the amount of people we know in common. Plus, I now had a Full House connection of my own, knowing so many of the Full House super fans who eventually became friends.

I have met so many people through Full House, in some roundabout way. Andrea  once said, the Full House world is a small world. Last night, my high school friend Ruben, tagged me in a picture on Instagram about Full House. It was a post by my friend Lori, who I met on Twitter via Andrea, who introduced me to too many people to count. Later, my friend Fannette in France comments on the same picture that she follows Lori too. I just laughed, that is how small this world is!

It has been an emotional week, seeing something go from a idea to reality has been amazing. To see your friends succeed is wonderful and to see people outside of your circle talking about something so important to you is amazing. I am so thankful for growing up in a wonderful town that brought so many wonderful people into my life.

PS Catch Fuller House on Netflix, its amazing. My favorite episode is six, filmed on my birthday and is Gibblermania:)


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.