Tag Archives: United States

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to school they go.

Watching my two sons go off on their first day of school left me a mixed bag of emotions including being happy, sad, nostalgic, thoughtful, nervous, excited and a bit worried.

I spend a lot of time with kids in general and I get sort of attached.

That’s probably natural, right?

I wonder, however, where is the line between being and adult and a kid, a teacher or a parent and a friend.

My mom always said I was like a  mom to her. Ha ha ha. Yes, we are today very good friends. But crossing that line at times from being the parent or the teacher to being a friend is a very fine line, delicate too.

Perhaps what is best is to find a good balance and some days be friends when you are out having fun, say at a park or something, or other times, be the parent or teacher when it’s time to talk seriously.

It’s hard for me to fathom the school system now here in Italy as compared to what I’m used to in sunny southern California.

That’s why I love it. It’s SO different than the United States’ school system. God Bless America.

God bless the world for that matter.

The main difference is that here there aren’t lockers, sports events, dances associated with schools that I know of.

Did you read that?

Here there aren’t lockers, sports events, dances associated with schools that I know of.

I cannot WAIT until the ipod is diffused and my kids can stop hauling 20 pound backpacks full of text books back and forth. I’m exaggerating for literary purposes because the truth is that they only occasionally bring their books back and forth depending on if they have homework. I think the teacher keeps them on shelves. I cannot remember.

When I taught, the older kids in secondary school, jr. high, middle school and high school, the students had their backpacks, rucksack, on the floor near their desks and their pencil cases open on their desks. Except for the time the one girl whipped out her camera and thought it would be funny to post pictures on facebook. Still happens.

I’m off topic.


What surprised me living here in Europe was to learn that my kindergarten through fifth grade teacher for my son was the SAME TWO TEACHERS from 8a to 4p every single day for five years.

Some parents like that. Obviously it depends on if you like your teachers or not. We liked ours. They have both changed this year after the first four years so my older son, who is 10, has two new teachers.

I don’t know about you but I’m fiercely protective over my children. I asked how school went. I heard that the teacher said the kids were grounded during break and had to do make up exercises for summer homework.

Say what?

That just about sent me to the Principal’s office. Okay, these are kids reporting but I do know from first hand experience that grounding kids during break is used as a punishment, but NOT ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. Are they out of their minds?

Of course, it was only partially true. It was more like, a minute to review homework.

But I’m watching them like a hawk. I heard my son got reprimanded because he put his hand on the window to touch hands with his brother. WHAT? Again, my blood started to boil. I mean, reprimanding someone for brotherly love? But then I thought, okay, you or I weren’t there, we don’t know what happened, and perhaps it was disturbing the class or at an inappropriate moment.

No, it happened while waiting for lunch. Okay, I don’t like kids touching my windows either.

I need to take a serious step back however because I have to let my children go and live their 0wn lives, at the same time trust that the teachers know what they are doing.

I know that the teachers have their work cut out for them, that teaching is one of the most difficult, challenging and rewarding jobs there is.

Unfortunately our educational system and national budget cuts have been effecting the school systems’ ability to thrive for years.

I did have a sweet moment however with my son this morning when he said he is worried about his new teacher being mean. I just said, Well, then you be nice. She probably needs it.

I asked him, You know how I get mad and angry sometimes? It’s only because I’m going through a rough time.

I asked him if he could try to see a little bit beyond just someone being mean and realize that perhaps she was that way because she had problems at home, or something. We don’t really know, do we, what problems someone is going through?

As my one friend, B says, don’t think it’s different out there for someone else. Everyone has their problems and worries.

Well, there you go. Off to a new start. Hope it is a good one. Sure of it. I plan on doing a list of goals. I’ve got a rough draft.

How about you. I’m so sorry. I went off on my life and schools. How have you been? Are your kids getting back to school? What do you think about parents and teachers being friends? What do you think about having one teacher for many years as opposed to having many teachers?

Thanks for dropping by. It’s nice to see you.


#6 My Amazing Friends also known as MAFSS guest M. Risser

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Running side by side friend.

Run the Hill by guest blogger Michele Risser

Run the hill is a phrase I use when things get hard. Run the hill is focus. Run the hill is determination. Run the hill is tenacity, strength and endurance. Running the hill is the thing you have to do to become a better runner.

On a long stretch of highway you can see the hill, ahead in the distance waiting for your arrival. There are certain things you must do as you approach it. You must unclench your fists and relax your shoulders. You must straighten your back and expand your chest. You must raise your head. Most importantly, you must turn up your music.

Stay focused.

As you begin the ascent, you must find a point just ahead of you to become your mini goal. It may be a crack in the road, a sign or a post, a tree or a flower. All you aim for is that next little goal. It is very important not to look, glance at, or focus on the top of the hill, it is overwhelming.

You must stay focused on your mini goal until you pass it and then hone in on the next crack, tree, post or flower until again you must select a new one.

As your music keeps your pace, as your eyes look forward, as your chest expands to receive oxygen and your head is held up to supply that oxygen, you begin to realize you are running the hill. Little by little, breath by breath, one leg and then the other stepping up, up, up. You are running the hill.

Jumping over obstacles.

Those things in life which are the hardest to do are the things we must do. They make us stronger, more patient, compassionate, they improve us.

They give us the experiences in life which require focus, determination, tenacity and perseverance.

Doing hard things helps us to grow. At times those hard things may seem overwhelming and so you set a mini-goal.

Perhaps solving one problem at a time, improving a fault little by little, mending a relationship, gaining knowledge, overcoming pain, hurt, anger, depression or addiction. One hour at a time, one day at a time, one lesson at a time, one achievement at a time.


When you reach the crest of a hill and you know within a minute you are will be at the top, you must push with that one last burst of energy that is hidden deep inside of you, but is always there.

For a brief second, just an instant, you are able to see the view from the top of the hill. The view is glorious, spectacular, breath taking and not because of what you may see, but because of what you feel ~ your moment of triumph.

You will feel your strength, your determination, tenacity and endurance, all of the those characteristics that helped get you to the top of the hill.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Then, you begin to run, down, down. No longer is a mini goal needed. Your breath begins to relax, no need to concentrate on the song to keep pace.

For a moment you have a repose, a rest from the intensity of pushing yourself, from doing something physically and mentally challenging.

Even though you know that there will always be another hill, you immerse yourself in the glory of running without effort. You feel light, you are floating, you are free from the burden of climbing the hill and all you can do is look in wonder and gratitude at what is around you.

You feel like you can fly.

Becoming a stronger you.

We cannot avoid running the hill, we must run it when it is there before us. We must not be discouraged if it not our best run, or our strongest, or fastest or our most successful. Running the hill will be different every time, because all hills are different. The constant lies in us and the tools we use from experience, to make the run bearable, to finish. Remember that each time you run the hill, you become a stronger you.

Run the hill, run the hill, run the hill. It is what I repeat over and over in my mind as I make the climb, both in running and in life.

If you’d like more information about Michele and running you can leave a message here below, contact her on twitter, or contact her on facebook.



Some people have asked if they can send me a gift — are you freakin’ kidding me? Of course you can. Gifts are always welcome and greatly appreciated. New gifts will support: 1) Kiva 2) Me getting out to see my family 3) New paintings 4) You! Because you are awesome. Choose between: She’s funny $10 She’s freakin’ hilarious $20 She’s inspired me $50 Just for fun. $100.00 USD I’ll have what she’s having $500 I’ll drink the koolaid $1,000 Thanks!


Click on card, it’s free!

The week I met Tom Cruise — before he was famous.

Me working with Tom Cruise – 1980

If you look really closely you can see me walking in the background.

My husband is impressed by the fact that I worked with Tom Cruise in a film in 1980 before Tom made Taps, when he was still unknown.

Not  only did my husband ask me to buy the dvd, he took out all of the connector cables from the garage so we could watch me up close on our wide screen TV.

When Tom and I met on set, he told me that a friend had got sick so they called him in as a last minute actor. He told me he had recently moved to New York to get into acting. The film we made was his first film although it was probably his worst film ever. It was really bad. It was called Losin’ It.

On our paycheck stubs the production company was called Tijuana Summer. Ha!

I think I was 16 and he was 18. He told me he had quit high school to act and his name wasn’t Tom. He told me I could call him by his real name or stage name. He was really nice and down to earth. Wikipedia says his real name is Thomas, but I swear he told me another name.

Even my two kids were pointing: Look there’s mom.

My girlfriends in high school can attest to this, although I continue to have a hard time believing the story myself!

I’m going to get the video up of it so you can see it and laugh with me and if you’d like. I will take a picture of my diary I wrote on the day we met by request.

Tom and I worked five days together.

Usually, when I tell my Tom Cruise story people are surprised.Now unfortunately, I think the kids in school like other actors too,
although I’m convinced Tom Cruise has a fan or two out there.

There’s no doubt in my small mind however that Tom is incredibly talented. If you caught him in Steal Magnolia’s I think you just might agree.

As always, I apprecite your comments.

What my I wish I knew when I was 20.

I’m in my 40s now.

It’s been a good ride. I’ve had some good years and some difficult. The way I say it is that my life has been a bit of a ride uphill, sort of like going up a ski lift, and from now on out, I’m expecting to slalom down softly.

I don’t think I’ve learned too much along the way. In fact, the more I know, the more I realise the less I know. But there some things I wish I knew when I were younger. Here they are.

What my current self would have told my younger self.

The friends I made when I was young are going to be the same friends I have now. I didn’t know that. I’ve made quite a few friends a long the way but I truly count my closest friends on one hand, okay two. I met them when I was in University, and even a couple in high school and I consider them to know me better than anyone in the world.

That growing up where I did was awesome.

I didn’t realize it at the time but I am now realizing how lucky I was to have grown up in Southern California. When I left it, I was quite certainly ready to move on. But somethings remain. Things like having to have studied at some of the best schools, the privilege to have gone to University in Silicon Valley and riding my bike to and from campus, the privilege of meeting my best friend there.

I realize now that I was privileged to have things like having a swimming pool, tennis court, baseball and football field around my high school. These are all things I took for granted.

I believe that striving towards excellence in academics and sports were the two most important decisive factors on who I believe I am as an adult. My father told me a little competition is good for you.

My friends and I all started on the swim team around eight years old. I swam all through high school. J9, can you still smell the chlorine and remember how red our eyes would get? I was also a huge fan of my brother playing baseball and basketball and spent a lot of time cheering for him.

One of my favorite parts of high school was taking the stats for the Junior Varsity and Varsity basketball team. I knew more about free throws, rebounds, three point shots and assists than the players themselves. I am speaking strictly from a statistical perspective. Scouts would come and ask me who was the best and I could rattle off averages.

My little awards sit in a jewelry box. Little remnants of honors and achievements.

Other things I wish I knew.

That one day I would have decided to move to Europe. If I can think of one riveting moment in my life it was the day I decided I wanted to live abroad. It wasn’t actually a moment but a progression of choices that paved my path. I feel so blessed to have lived in both Europe and USA. What a fantastic education. Moreover was the choice to be able to go back and forth, not at a whim, but as parter of a bigger plan.

There is no other place I’d rather be than right here right now.

I didn’t know

That my children would speak Italian. I never thought I would have Italian speaking children. It’s quite adorable actually. They speak English well too. Believe me, I insist ~ not all of the time, but a lot of the time.

I think the ONE most important things I have learned as an adult is the capacity to give. For some reason as a child I just felt like I wanted material objects. Maybe I felt this way in order to compensate for the attention I felt I needed but didn’t get. I don’t know.

Now I just want to give. I heard so many times the more you give the more you receive but I think I didn’t believe it. It’s true.

I learned to trust the Lord. It’s not an easy road to give in to His will. In fact, it’s quite a daily struggle but I have learned He does provide, is a loving father and has given me more than I feel I deserve. For that I am truly thankful.

Hope this post finds you lovely and in love.



Pre announcement: I’d just like to tell my loyal blog readers that I’m busy organizing a painting give away. I’ve painted about six paintings and I’m getting them ready for a showing and give away on my blog probably by the end of the week. Wish me luck as it’s a bit confusing to sort out the details. xo Julie

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. ღ Friedrich Nietzsche

Everything you can imagine is real. ♡ Pablo Picasso ♡

Everything you can imagine is real. ♡ Pablo Picasso ♡

Buy the ticket, take the ride. ॐ

❀ I believe in you. ❀ I do. ❀ I do. ❀

I believe in you. I do. I do.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. ॐ

whoosh and it’s all new, she said.

Thank you dear Lou for the image.

♥ sweet read?, short story єzmє ♥ by J.D. Salinger

Woke up this morning a new fresh person. Today is a new day. It’s a calm day. I’m not the same person I was yesterday and nothing is quite as it seems. Isn’t it all an illusion, anyway?

Got the fresh American coffee in my Italian garden while kids are busy running back and forth inventing new imaginative games. It’s lovely.

Picture deep green garden, flowers on the well, fluffy white clouds in a fresh blue sky.

I walk around the lawn barefoot. It’s a dream come true to me actually. I remember years back when house shopping I told my husband I wanted a garden with a kids’ pool and he laughed. How we laugh now.

We get a lot of compliments on our garden because it’s a group project although the lines aren’t always severe.

More or less, I’m in charge of flowers and the lawn and my husband handles the vegetables and the trees.

The plants are showing signs or regrowth. Isn’t God amazing. I like to say some things just grow out of nothing ~ like friendships, children, diamonds, songs, and ideas. Or? What about you?

I’ve also got the dark violet berries nearly dripping off the vines. Unbelievable to pop into your mouths. Move over vitamins in jars, you’ve been replaced. The kids ask ‘Can we pick some tomatoes?’, ‘Oh, yes, please do.’, I smile.

What do you think about me going out and collecting some of these berries and figuring out how to make jam out of them? I can ask my neighbor who I adore.

You guys who follow my blog know that after dinner at sunset I like to go for a nice country walk. Well, I’ve met a farmer who one day asked me if I liked onions. Now every time I come home, I have bags of fresh produce. Magic.

Thank you so much dear Lou.

♥ think simply ♥ now

I’m not a HUGE peach fan so I don’t know what to do with the couple dozen peaches in my fridge. Any ideas? I’m on a permanent diet so nothing with sugar, please. Honey, yes, I’d be happy to hear of a honey peach cobbler type of pie.

Just remember, I’m in Italy, so I have no pre prepared pie crusts at the market. Also I’m not so handy with messes or dough, so make it simple.

Hope this post finds you lovely, happy, blessed and appreciative of God’s many blessings. You’ve all been just a wonderful audience to write to. I’m starting to get a huge crush on you and I don’t know where to put it.

For the time being, I’ll be out in the garden watching da boyz play on this glorious day.


How to be successful without even trying.

Mimi Weddell Blogger

Develop a love for learning. ♡

If we can all agree that we got here now today thanks to the support of friends and loved ones I think we can also agree that it is also thanks to people who have motivated us.

One of my favorite teachers whom I’m grateful to is a man named Mr. Phil McGreevy. For some reason when I was going into high school I was told there was an experimental math class where ‘bright’ students were going to be experimented on. Like little hamsters. I still consider myself to be lucky that I was chosen to be in this class because the 24 of us had the honor of having the same students with the same teachers for the four years of high school.

Consistency, Relevancy and Going the Extra Mile.

Mr. McGreevy was a great teacher for so many reasons but mostly because he took the time to slowly explain everything from the start to the end. I always felt I could ask him at any time any question with out him getting angry. I loved the way he wrote on the blackboard because he had nice writing. He was consistent because he did things like draw squares around the answers. He also seemed to choose relevant homework.

Even though I had him for four years I remember one day when he asked who was interested in getting straight As – he was offering a Saturday workshop. Like most of my students they’d LOVE to have straight As but for various reasons their grades are all over the board. Most of them do follow what Mr. McGreevy called the Bell curve where he demonstrated that most students lie somewhere in the middle. I always wanted to be one of the students with the As. Maybe if I just did that little bit extra it would pay off.

Pay attention ~ here’s the key.

I attended his class and after doing various exercises and reading he got to the point of the argument. He said,




If you want to get straight As then all you have to do is develop a love for learning.

I was shocked. I was little bit disappointed because I thought he was going to give me the answers to that Friday’s test. I had to love learning?

Who loves learning? We only went to school because we had to. Love learning. That was the key. He was right. I don’t care how many times my mother could tell me about the starving children in Africa who didn’t have shoes or school it still didn’t make me want to study.

I don’t actually remember doing homework although I do remember it was assigned. I’m pretty certain I did it either during another class or before the class started. I’ll have to check with my classmates on that one.

I do agree that the key to learning is to develop a love for learning. I since have gone on to become a teacher. I found something even more important and that is the love of teaching. I truly love being infront of the kids and seeing them smile. I feel like it is an enormous privilege and honor to have this responsibility. I try to do my best with it.

One day I’m going to retire from teaching and just be an American living in Italy with her family and garden. God willing. In the mean time, I’m going to love learning.