My Growing Party of Five


The world of television shifted for me in the mid nineties. A lot of things shifted during that time. I was eleven years old and feel good shows like Disney’s Kids Incorporated and Full House were ending their run. We quickly grew from a one tv household to a three tv household when my parents finished the basement and turned it into a hang out spot fit for a “pre-teen”and her gal pals. I had a one of those see through clear corded phones. When a boy would call the house my parents would say, “Julia phone call…..I’d yell who is it……A boy. ” And then my face would get all red. I was a walking 90’s cliché. And I remember loving all of it. 

It’s 1994 and one afternoon my mom picked me up from school in her wood-paneled station wagon and said she had a surprise for the family. A surprise, I thought?

But not just any surprise….. she said, it starts with a “C”.

A cat?

No, A computer.

I really wished it was a cat. It was the first time I was old enough to recognize that the world was changing. And so was I.

When I began to spend time in my “ pre teen” hang out spot I started to watch “pre teen” tv shows. It started with Beverly Hills 90210, but then FOX aired Party of Five in 1994. Party of Five centered around the five Salinger siblings raised by oldest brother Charlie Salinger.  He assumed the role of legal guardian when their parents were killed by a drunk driver. I tuned in every week and in no time began connecting with the characters and their relationships with each other. And how that relationship transcended to my own life.  In the age of reality tv we have grown so accustomed to today, I remember the age of tv dramas. And I particularly remember the Salinger’s. People started telling me throughout the years I look like that girl from Party of Five. You know, Julia Salinger. She had the same first name as mine and I loved it.

My husband always hated his name. He said he was named after a guy from his mom’s favorite Soap Opera. And he hated it. When I was pregnant and found out I was having a boy I threw out the name Owen. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was from Party of Five and belonged to the youngest sibling ,Owen Salinger. He loved the name Owen. When we moved onto middle names he wanted to use the letter “B” in memory of his dad. Naturally, I threw out another name I had long adored for either a boy or a girl. Bailey Salinger,  the second oldest Salinger. So there you have it. And our little Party of Five was born.

You can go through the top 100 popular baby names of 2015. You can name your child after a relative who has passed. An aunt you love. Your favorite flower, fruit or season of the year. When he grows up and inevitably  asks me why Owen, i’m sure he will respond with  “Oh mom.” But his name came from a time I remember with fondness. And a show that symbolized a turning point in my life and the world of tv. A world of television I dearly miss. 

Welcome to the world, Owen. And to our ever growing Party of Five. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The One Where Emma Cries

I have it on good authority that Friends was the best show to ever hit tv. And I still hold that to be true. I turn to Friends for many reasons: Comic relief, nostalgia, lazy Sundays, how to treat a jellyfish sting, channeling the power of Unagi and even how to tell if you are on a break or not etc. When I was five months pregnant I got the flu. Followed by bronchitis. When the doctor put me on bed rest for two weeks I did what anyone else would do. I watched the entire series of Friends.

After six months of marriage my husband and I learned we were expecting a child. I remember sitting in the  doctors office and when the midwife walked in and confirmed it I started to cry. I was going to be a mom and both excited and terrified in equal measure. When I left the office the midwife said, Congratulations. Last week at my six-week post pardum appointment I overheard her say “Congratulations’’ to another happy couple. I couldn’t help but think that was me not so long ago. The midwife sent me home and said “Congratulations”, only this time was different. And I think that is when it finally hit me I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And in a weird way that made me sad. This Congratulations was more of a good-bye.  And you can do this. And don’t forget to pay your bill as you leave. 

When the baby hit the six-week mark his cries became a little louder. His sleep a little shorter. And there was nothing I could do. Except turn to Friends “The One Where Emma Cries.”

Rachel says, “Oh god what am I gonna do you guys, I can’t even comfort my own baby! I’m the worst mother ever! It was an episode written for me.  So in an act of desperation I YouTube “ The One Where Emma Cries” and watched the clip of Monica picking up Emma, rocking her from side to side whispering “ Oh bouncy, bouncy, ohhh baby baby”  and I figured it was worth a shot. So I picked up my own baby and as I swayed him from side to side his cries became softer. His eyes grew heavier. When I ran out of lullabies I sang him “Call Me Maybe” followed by the entire Ace of Base CD. We both napped that afternoon. And I finally believed what the midwife believed all along. That I can do this.


The baby will cry again. And I may not know any other lullabies past ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. But that doesn’t make me a bad mother. I know that now. I like to think that he was watching Friends with me during my three-week battle with the flu. And maybe that is what ultimately made him stop crying. But, I’m going to buy a book of lullabies just in case.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m ready for school. Honey you are ready for the prom.

“I’m ready for school. Honey you are ready for the prom.”-Danny Tanner


Since I was a young girl I’ve always had the back to school jitters. At twenty nine the sentiment still applies. Back to school shopping symbolizes the end of summer. It is a tough loss.  Can I still wear white pants to class even though it’s after Labor Day? What will I wear? Will people like me? I seemed to have forgotten how to cut in a straight line this summer. Maybe I never mastered it. I’m dead meat.   I received this email from one of my professors last week:

“ On the first session I ask you to bring an “About me Bag.” Tell us your story and put the objects in a brown lunch bag.  Also be sure to bring the following to class.”



Sketch paper


Scotch magic tape


X-Acto Knife



 This looks a lot like my old grade school list. And I’ve also been asked to bring a bag lunch to night class. Is this   “About me Bag” a more adult way of saying  “ Show and Tell?” Is this ” Materials” list a more adult way of saying ” School Supplies.” Well let’s see.


1. Pencils

No. 2 Pencils                                                              Art School Pencils
2. Paper


3. Ruler


4. Pens


5. Glue


6. Scotch Tape

7. Cutting Utensils


8. Triangle


9. Pencil Case


10. Bag to Carry Supplies


I look forward to meeting you. Welcome to this course and see you soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Schmidt Happens

Tomorrow I’ll be twenty- nine years old. My mom told me the story. False labor twice and my dad was kind of tired. When she said “No really it’s time”, he said “are you sure this time?”  I think it’s hard to let go of a full nights sleep. I was born with a conehead and jaundice. My dad took one look at me and said “we will love her anyways.” Then put a hat on my head. And that is just what they did.

Through all the years they did. They loved me when I refused to line up during recess because I said my mom doesn’t make me line up at home. They loved me after my brother was born and I asked when he was going back to the hospital. When I walked through a glass door playing house with a station wagon full of groceries in the back seat. When I told a teacher I didn’t know women could be President. When I was worried about being blown away by tornados. Flying on an airplane and carbon monoxide poisoning. When I was chewing on a fourth of july glow stick and made my mom call poison control. I felt faint.  Did I mention the time I went to New York City with my dad’s emergency credit card and bought too many emergency things. When ever has a Juicy Couture track suit not qualified as an emergency? An emergency can be subjective depending on who you ask.  Or when I drove down to Florida on Spring Break with no oil and blew out my engine. There is more. Two letters a day my parents would receive from me about the tortures of overnight camp. A wake up bell. And a cold lake shower.  Being bucked off the meanest pony an eleven year old had ever seen. How much I hated the bus. How I never had anything to wear. How I bite my nails. My wall to wall Christian Bale collage. Hatred of bananas, tuna and meatloaf.  How much I loved Bert more than Ernie. And how the Wicked Witch of the West gave me night sweats. They called me anxious. I call it cautious. My motto has always been “the sky is falling.” I just like to be prepared.

Reflecting back these 28 years and in particular the last ten, I managed to graduate highschool. college. grad school.go back to school.fall in love.gain weight.lose weight. stay healthy. buy a dog. live in Chicago. drink copious amounts of happy. maintain  important relationships with friends both new and old. And build a great cookbook collection. I remember what my parents told me “we will love her anyways.” I think those who know me best would agree.

A couple weeks ago my dear friend wrote a blog about an Engagement Chicken. On my quest to become a great cook it dawned on me that I don’t know how to roast a bird. I’ve made it a point to go to Chicago restaurants featured on Top Chef. Next up eat at Grahmwich Chicago and meet Graham Elliot. And Gordon Ramsey. And Takashi.  I enjoyed my talk with Chef Beverly at Aria. A smile from Chef Heather at Sable. I thought to myself they probably know how to roast something as simple as a chicken. There was only one thing standing in the way of me and that bird. A proper roasting rack.

I put an order in for an All-Clad roasting rack, the same one the pros use. A pre birthday splurge.  As I anxiously awaited for the one thing standing in the way from me and that bird come close of business it never came. Fed Ex assured me it was delivered.  Had Fed Ex dropped the ball just days before my birthday?  Are they the reason that I’ll be eating fish tacos tonight instead of a succulent bird with a side of my mom’s famous rosemary potatoes? Or am I the reason. Is this someone’s way of telling me to roll with the punches? Or that Schmidt Happens.? At twenty nine, is this really still a lesson I have never been able to learn? That there are things out of your control and not worth getting upset over. And could this be one of those things?

My friend said an Engagement Chicken is almost a rite of passage into adulthood. That this dish is something an adult would know how to make. Maybe I’m just not ready for an Engagement Chicken. And I don’t need to beat myself up so much about that. Maybe someday I will be ready, but for tonight we are making fish tacos. And they will be delicious.

           I made a wish. But I can’t tell you or it won’t come true.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lucy, I’m Home


In the aftermath of last week’s brutal murder of an innocent animal by a man who parents trust with their young children I can’t help but think that I hear this tale more often then I can stomach. And wonder if it will ever end.  I have decided to write about someone closest to my heart. My dog, Mollie. She isn’t perfect. She doesn’t like to sit unless I have a treat in my hand, sleeps on my boyfriend’s pillow while I’m at work, and chases after squirrels like it’s her job (which it kind of is). I bought her a chew toy squirrel instead which she happily chews away on the decorative Anthropolgie pillows on my bed .  She  growls at delivery men and strange noises in the hallway.   But who is perfect. Certainly not me.


     I adopted Mollie in April of 2009 after a long relationship came to its end. I think that the thing you miss most about a relationship is having someone to care about. And having someone care about you back. Though getting a dog was a purely selfish reason on my part, because a dog comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility, I was ready for this new chapter. My roommate came with me to the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society on the search for my new best friend. For those of you animal lovers out there you know that rescue shelters can be bittersweet. You know you are going in for one, but in the end, you wish you could take them all home with you. I saw my future friend sitting in her cage and when I went to take her out she wasn’t hyper like the other ones. She kind of just sat in my lap. I had found my perfect Breakfast in Bed, Beverly Hills 90210 marathon running kind of companion. I said I’ll take her.

When meeting with the adoption counselor she told me Mollie was a puppy mill dog from Tennessee.  She was a year and a half old jack russell mix, not spayed, socialized or trained. Following a ten hour rest in her new dog bed after being spayed she put her front paws on the side of my bed giving me a “ hey I’m up and your bed looks comfy” kind of a look.   She cuddled up next to me. I hadn’t been that happy in a long time. Based on her life before me I bet neither had she.


Mollie and I have a special kind of relationship. There are those out there my age, older and younger, who have children. I don’t have any authority on children. I just have a dog. Some people post pictures of their children and the cute things they do  on Facebook. I  obsessively post pictures of my dog . I talk with my coworker about her dog. And my dog.  About how we should set up a dog play date. We share our dog stories. Talk about how our dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, vacuums and hairdryers. People who own dogs talk to other people who own dogs at parties. We talk about our dogs and sometimes they even attend these social gatherings. This happens more then you think. Mollie is a part of my family. And I am hers.

My grandfather who lives in France lost his sixteen year old dog last month. I was young when they bought Nelson but I would enjoy my summers with him in my grandparents garden. It was his favorite spot. My grandparents always owned hunting dogs and Nelson was pure bred to be one.  But he did no hunting. I was told that when my grandpa tried to take Nelson into the woods he would give him this “only if you go first” kind of a look back.  He became just a family dog.  I remember one summer coming back from my uncle’s house and Nelson had torn up the entire basement bedroom. He chewed through a bed, sofa and chair in the matter of hours. My grandpa was mad and Nelson knew it. But as with anyone you love you, especially a member of your family, you are inclined to forgive and forget. He was my grandpa’s best friend for sixteen years. Until I had a dog of my own I didn’t realize what an important relationship that was. I cried when I heard about Nelson. I realize most dogs won’t outlive their owners, but I was sad for my grandpa. Who would fall asleep under his chair when he took naps in the garden now?

I write because I find the actions of this young man so sad it makes me want to cry. And after that I feel angry. Shame on you. They trust you. You are their voice!  It makes me so sad knowing that this young puppy will never have the love that my dog has. That Nelson had. Or that I know that special member of your family has.

When the Chicago Blizzard hit a couple years back that didn’t stop us from taking our night walk down Printers Row together. When my boyfriend left for Thailand for five weeks this past winter some of my  Friday date nights quickly turned to pj movie nights with the pup as I let the heater run high. She made great company. On horrible days at work and stressful night classes there is one thing at home that will always put a smile on my face. And her name is Mollie.

Mollie, I’m home.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Would I still date these 11 men in 2012

In June, I wrote a blog called 11 Men I’d date if it were 1990.  Here is my follow up.  Would I still date these 11 men in 2012.  or Would you?

______________Have Mercy

_______________ I don’t think so.

_______________How you doin’

_________________ Cut it out.

_________________ No sweat, my pet.

(1). Sam “Mayday Malone”


From 80’s hunk to silver fox.

(2). Alex P. Keaton


Lets talk about stocks and bonds!

(3). Uncle Jesse


(4).  Michael Seaver


                                                   show me that smile again?


                                                           Eh, I don’t think so.

(5).  Zack Morris


                                                        1502 on your SAT’s?


                                                        Eh, I don’t think so.

(6). Ted McGriff


                                                          Hey Dude,

(7). Dylan McKay

(8)  Jake Sommers


California Dreams?

Eh, I don’t think so.

(9) Shawn Hunter

You think I have a thing for Topanga ?

(10) Gilbert Blythe


Can I still call you Carrots?

Eh, I don’t think so.

(11)  Jordan Catalano


Wait, so you still can’t read?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sorry, We are Closed


A couple years ago I made the not so difficult decision to exit a crummy job. Maybe you have found yourself there before. But hopefully not. What I bet you didn’t know is how I spent my first three weeks of unemployment. I watched Cheers. Let me re-phrase. I watched eleven seasons (272 episodes) all day and all night for three weeks of non-stop Cheers. And now you know.

Hindsight should I have been making contacts or stressed about where I would come up with the money for next month’s rent. Well, yeah. I probably should have been doing a lot of more productive things with my time like updating cover letters and other relevant work experience. I did neither of those things.  My friend said I didn’t come out of my room for weeks. And she was probably right.

Cheers first aired in the early 80’s and centered around a bar in downtown Boston. Sam “Mayday” Malone former Red Sox player and recovering alcoholic owned Cheers. He had great full set of hunkish 80’s hair and a five year long love-hate relationship with know-it-all Diane Chambers. The show revolved around the relationship he built with his employees and the customers who came into his bar. Customers who were more like friends and where everybody knows your name ( a popular 8th grade graduation song).  I had a place like that too.  There is something comforting about a local bar. I never found it in my new neighborhood. There are plenty of bars in Chicago that serve vodka sodas. But only a handful out there where they don’t need to ask what you are having. They just know. In college we would spend many nights at the local bar shooting darts, drinking a pitcher and reading for class the next day. My drink of choice was a Miller light with green olives. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it, Chicago.  I do realize the more conventional method of studying would be to hit up the library. However, we all went on to graduate and build up successful careers.

The series finale ended where it began, and where it had been for eleven seasons, at Cheers. Sam is torn up about what he wants to do with his life. He is alone, not married, no kids. He just has this bar. In the final scene Norm says “Sammy you can’t leave your one true love”. Sam looks confused and Norm responds with “just think about it”. Norm walks out of the bar and Sam turns off the lights. He knows who his true love is. It is Cheers.

A man knocks on the door of the bar.


Sorry, we’re closed. Series ends.

I turned off my computer and the harsh reality hit that I was not only jobless but clueless. I had spent four years at an expensive liberal arts school studying political science, two years at a well paying paralegal job with benefits, and I ditched that to spend the next three weeks of my life watching a t.v show that had already been off the air for twenty years? I never told my parents. But then it hit me, I knew what my true love was. I had known it all along but was afraid to actually hear my self say it outloud. Or think about the financial repercussions to come. I think deep down we all are.  Days later I applied to go back to school to be an Interior Designer and have gone part time for two years. I will graduate next summer.   I went across the street to my Cheers bar to tell everyone the good news.

Nooooooooorrrm!                                            How you doing today Mr. Peterson?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swoon there goes your boyfriend

It all started when I was eight years old. A boy used to tease me at Sunday school. After church we would go back to my grand-parents house and I remember telling this to my grandma one afternoon. She goes Julia, boys tease the girls that they like. He likes you.

In college my dating life consisted of a twin size bed, brunches and a heavy night of drinking.  Late night pizza was often involved.  I even had a guy tell me that for Valentine’s Day he was going to drink with his buddies and proceeded the to ask me what time he should stop on by after. Just what every girl wants to hear. I slept with the dorm phone to my ear that night. I didn’t want to take any chances. Swoon.  I thought back to the lessons of my grandmother, but she wasn’t around to ask. I decided he likes me. He showed up around 3:00 a.m that night. When I sent him an “email” saying I think we should become exclusive, aka please just acknowledge my existence in front of your friends, he goes I kind of like what we have built up right now. I enjoy being single it’s fun. Built up here? I mean, what does that even mean? In the words of Cher….  “I feel like such a bonehead.”


My parents are about to cross their 30th wedding anniversary this week. They met in the pre technology age or the “less ways to get mad at your boyfriend and let him know it” age. You could only yell at him when you saw him, and by the time you got to his place, you might have gotten over it. Today there are several ways to let him know within seconds: email, text (a personal favorite), voicemail, twitter, this blog, or in an extreme situation “defriend”  or write an ambiguous status update on facebook. That outta show him. My mom told me they never fought and had better things to do. She says, “Julia when you get mad take a step back, don’t react emotionally”. Mom, but I totally paused! I don’t see my mother back in her early twenties laying with her cell phone against her head waiting for her boyfriend to come over. She still doesn’t have one. She said that when they were dating he called her up and they went out. They went to the zoo and took weekend trips up to Door County. He was actually pretty sweet to her. They had bbq chicken at his place. This doesn’t seem to correlate with what my grandma said. Isn’t he supposed to tease her if he likes her. I explicitly remember her saying that.

My boyfriend was the first guy to ever buy me flowers . I remember thinking who is this guy and what are these strange courting rituals. I was out with some girlfriends and when I came home my roommate was like these came for you today. I looked at the flowers and smiled, but the thought “is this guy psycho” ran through my head a thousand times. I turned to my roommate and said but do I have to call him. And she said god Julia, yes. He is being nice. He is a nice guy. I called him up said “thank you. they are beautiful”. We have been dating ever since.   He never teased me. He always acknowledges me. He is really nice to me. Grandma, I hope this means that he likes me. Several months later I told him no one had ever bought me flowers before.  I think that he was surprised, but kind of liked that.

My friend and I have spent many years laughing at the past. At all the “swoon, as if” people that have come in and out of our lives. Why did we do it? It’s hard to really know. What we agree on today is that it should be simple. It should be what my parents have had for the last 30 years and what my grandparents had the last 60. These days the only teasing that goes on in my home is about my mom not having a cell phone. She says her cell phone is on the wall. You will find my mom at yoga Saturday morning and my dad at the library reading a free copy of the Wall Street Journal, followed by a trip to the farmer’s market.  He brings her home flowers. I often catch them early in the morning talking on the patio with their morning coffee .  And sometimes they sit in silence. If my mom is mad she will let him know before she tells Facebook. Actually, she doesn’t have an account either. As If!

Happy 30th Anniversary Mom & Dad. May we all the see world as you do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think I might be the Voice of my Generation. Or a Generation

Back in college I was asked to write a piece about myself in my creative writing class. I titled it “the Game“. I didn’t quite know where to start, so I started from the beginning. I had a fortunate upbringing, took family vacations and my mom made my bed. And packed my lunch for school. So I wrote about that. I wrote about how that sheltered life shaped me. How college had changed me. I wrote about how the guy I met at the bar called me, the girl with bleach blonde highlights, exotic looking as I french inhaled a cigarette and ordered another miller light on tap in a frosted glass. I wrote about what an independent woman I had become. How I abandoned that sheltered lifestyle and grew into my own person. And how I hadn’t felt this liberated since my parents sent me to overnight camp in the sixth grade.  I submitted the composition for critique in class. A girl raised her hand “It was good. But the character wasn’t likeable.”  I thought, wasn’t likeable? We are talking about my life here. The character is me.

I’ve been out of college now for over five years and think about that essay. I believe I earned a B+ on the overall composition.  I look back on my college days with fondness and nostalgia. Only I wasn’t independent. I thought I was, but the real world isn’t about that. I thought being away from my parents for four years was my independence. That drinking beers made me an adult. However, it was the challenges I faced after college that have changed me and given me my real independence. Today, I’m unlike that girl that I wrote about. But sometimes I miss her.

I have recently started watching Girls, which is a show on HBO. Hannah is twenty four years old and has just learned that her parents are cutting her off financially. She pulls all the stops to ask her parents to reconsider. I think she even tells them that she will be all right financially just as long as she doesn’t eat lunch. I think at one point in my life I had said the same thing to mine.  Hannah says, “I’m the voice of my generation”. Hannah, get in line.


There was a time I was Hannah. Which is why I find her character so hysterical and relatable. Maybe at times even unlikeable. Today I don’t use my “buy now pay later” card. I drink wine when it’s accompanied by dinner, on occasion without. I don’t use alcohol as a social lubricant to talk to men. I rarely wear heals. I pay bills on time and have to make sacrifices when times are tough. The earrings I’ve been eying at Anthropologie will have to wait. I have failed more times than I like to admit.  I don’t like to settle or blame others for my shortcomings.  I think about the food I eat before I eat it. And I enjoy cooking. As long as the sacrifices are not my health, family, and my friendships with the people that I love I know that anything else thrown at me I can handle. A bottle of wine might need to be accompanied with, but nonetheless, I can handle it.

If you still don’t find my character likeable that’s okay. I hope we can be friends someday.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ross is Wearing Leather Pants

There is no denying it.  This  has been a record breaking June/July in Chicago my friends. My gal pal went into work the other day with pants on, she goes Julia, I feel like that Friends episode The One with all the Resolutions,  where Ross wears leather pants to go out on a first date with Elizabeth Hornswoggle . And he is hot. And his pants have suddenly shrunk and stuck to his body. I am hot!  I couldn’t agree with her more. I am more of a skirt/dress person than a pants gal, but the heat has posed some challenges for this skirt lover as well. I miss the days of walking to work without feeling like my legs are sticking together. Or my bangs stuck to my forehead, because  I actually did take the time to blow dry my hair this morning. And my bangs were  most certainly dry when I left the apartment.


Don’t get me wrong I love the summer. And the beach. And love time spent on decks with a grill, baseball games, and outdoor concerts. I know that come November when Mr. Tom Skilling announces the expected 3-6 inches of snowfall that will fall, I’m going to long for those 100 degree days of hot beach sand between my toes. Or drinking a Summer Shandy outside of Corcorans. Even taking Mollie for a nice long walk by the Chicago Historical Museum where there are plenty of squirrels for her to go around. . However, just not today. Today I’m just hot. I’m like my friend, only in a skirt. And like Ross. Sorry to my boyfriend, but no hug for you today.


Ross: They’re still, they’re still not coming on man and the lotion and the powder have made a paste!

Joey: Really?! Uhh, what color is it?

Ross: What difference does that make?!

Joey: Well, I’m just—if the paste matches the pants, you can make yourself a pair of paste pants and she won’t know the difference!

Pass the lotion please. And the powder. My skirt is stuck and it’s like a volcano in here. Hope they make grey paste to match my skirt.  Stay cool out there, Chicago!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment