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?”

 

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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.

 

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:https://maxtheevilgenius.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/this-is-why-we-cant-have-nice-things/

 

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: http://www.young-williams.org/


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

 

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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!


A Nerve Wracking Place: Transplant Update 2015

We scheduled Marty’s annual visit with UT transplant center a few weeks ago. Also scheduling the dreaded visit to his nephrologist as well.  We put that one off because our past history with the nephrologist visits are usually laden with bad news. Of course, things have changed since his transplant but still the memories remain.

After being rescheduled two weeks straight due to snow and ice, we finally made our way twenty minutes down the road to the University of Tennessee medical center. It never gets old that we can drive twenty minutes to see his medical team. After years of driving 300 miles one way to Stanford, it is nice to stay in our own city for medical care.

We arrive to an office full of elderly people, they stare at us and wonder why young people are in the office? if they only knew our story, I think we should have t-shirts made for these visits. I think the older people would be amazed. It’s tough sitting in the nephrologist office, usually you’re seeing really sick people suffering. It brings feelings of unease and fear. On the drive down, we got a little snappy with each other, it was nerves and we knew it.

Once led to the examining room, Marty sits in a chair right under a sign for Peritoneal dialysis. We look at it and Marty says, I don’t even want to think about that right now. If you want to know our lives for two years, read this blog.

Our new nephrologist is night and day from our last doctor. Our last nephrologist was a great doctor with no bedside manner, who mumbled and grumbled. This doctor smiles,and friendly, he was thrilled with Marty’s numbers and we got a good report. He said Marty’s kidney is working wonderfully and he is hopeful for a good long time with the kidney.

After the appointment ended, we had to wait for some papers. I sit down next to a man in the waiting room. He made small talk and I said, ”This is kind of a nerve wracking and stressful place, isn’t it?” and he said,” Why? I’m not sure what you mean by that? ” and I just looked at him. He must have not been there for renal failure if he had no clue why I would say that. You wonder why I share our story? because of people like him….

As we were walking out of the office,  immediately we both let out a sigh of relief and relax a bit. We can keep enjoying life and living dialysis free, while we had no reason to think anything was wrong, it is always in the back of our mind. Everyday we are thankful for the gift of life.

Four years and going strong! Thanks Jerry and Debbie for giving us this precious gift.


Two Years

Two years ago today, we left California behind and drove across country to our new life. We had no clue the challenges we faced and the blessings to come. We just knew we had to go and find out what awaited us on the other side of the country.

Starting over is never easy, we have done it twice in the last nineteen years. You leave behind your family, friends and support system. Jumping out of the safety net you create around yourself is tough.

Exploring new cultures and areas is fun. We have loved learning the southern culture, becoming Vol fans and making good southern friends.  If we had never come here, we would never have met some wonderful friends who have expanded our world and become our new safety net.

Marty and I both love our new jobs. Definitely the right decision for both of us career wise to move here and we are now very close to being debt free. The cost of living in TN is so much less than California and we’re close to making the same income.

It’s time for Marty’s yearly transplant checkup. It is nice driving 25 minutes down the road instead of driving 3hrs and 300 miles each way to see a transplant doctor.

Elizabeth has made new friends and this journey has grown her a lot as a person. She has faced some tough battles that have been hard on all of us. We are proud of the progress she has made and excited for things to come.

Conner is thriving, he loves his new role in our city and is working hard toward his future career. He has made great new friends.

We have faced things not working out as planned and some things turning out better than planned.

Homesickness has been hard for the kids and I. We miss our good friends and family we haven’t seen in two years. New babies have been born, that we have never met and we have missed out on a lot back in California

We have been able to see our family here and meet the new babies here. We have been together for big family events and it is nice being with our family here. We have also made some wonderful friends whom we cannot imagine our life without.

We are thankful we made this choice. We took a leap of faith and grew our wings on the way down. The future looks very bright.


A Beautiful Story of a Beautiful Miracle

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

Four years ago, Marty and I were living at Stanford after his transplant. We fondly look back on those days of our little apartment that we lived in for one month. One of my cousins brought my kids up to see us, a seven hour drive from the LA area.  During that visit, on this little balcony, a journey of prayer was began after a deep conversation.

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My cousin shared that her deepest desire was to become a mom. She was okay with where her life was but she wanted to be a mom, more than anything. So I told her, ”let’s pray about it.”

I told her the story of my dear friend, who was a single mom with a son and how happy they were together. I encouraged her in her desire and really deeply felt this was God’s will.

One night during this journey, I had a dream where I saw a round headed, baby boy with dark hair. I told her, I had a dream, I saw your baby and he is a boy. She laughed at me and didn’t believe me at all.

For the next two years, we prayed together for God to bless her with a baby. There were so many tear filled conversations. Discouragement and trials ensued, the day I left California, we sat on the floor of our aunt’s living room, deeply devastated at very bad news.

One morning, the phone rang in TN. It was her on the other end…….she was pregnant!! Our prayers had been answered. The tears of joy that ensued were something I would never forget. Our prayers had been heard.

A couple of weeks later, she told our family the news. They said, ”You better call your cousin Julie and tell her..” She told them, ”She already knows.” as nobody knew the journey we had been through together.

I told her it was a boy, she didn’t believe me. 9 mos later she gave birth to a beautiful boy with a round head and dark hair. He is such a miracle,  a blessing, a beautiful story of faith, courage, hope and miracles.

He turns one today, I was telling my cousin last night that two years ago, this didn’t seem possible and now it has happened. This morning I told her, I had to write this story down to encourage others and share her journey in the most private/public way possible.  Funny how our miracles are tied together by major dates in our lives.  So thankful to have walked through this journey with her and been allowed to share her burden. Truly one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

Happy 1st birthday to the miracle boy and his momma!

 

A/N: I asked permission to share this story to encourage others who are praying for miracles and facing trials.