Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Version...

Of the answers to the Christmas letter :)
** if you didn't get the original you-fill-in-the-blanks-card, that means we don't have your address, or I am just plain brainless :)  (If you do want one, shoot me your address and I can still pop it in the mail!)

Merry Christmas 2010!!

It has been quite an eventful year in the Brewer household.  We moved to a new house and put down roots in Rochester.  We've done much working, playing, and general frolicking.

We didn't add any new members to the family, but our children keep growing faster and faster every day!

Seth, our oldest by a whopping 3 minutes, turned 8, got Baptized, and is in 3rd grade.  He loves spies, ninjas, and anything to do with light sabers, especially those from Star Wars.

Sarah, also 8, like Seth got baptized at our family reunion in Wyoming.  She is a very talented artist and loves to play with her friends.  She and Seth play the violin, although they don't like to practice.

Ben, age 5, just started kindergarten and has discovered a whole new world now that he can read.  He recently started playing the cello.

Joshua age 3, is extremely active, and keeps mom on her toes with his various antics.

Elizabeth just turned 1, started walking, can scream like a pterodactyl, and loves to snuggle with her blanket in mom or dads arms.

Jerry has been working at Mayo Clinic for over a year, and is loving it!  He cuts out skin cancer, and has been known to slice off a mole or two on the side.

Jen is still teaching aerobics, writing a book, and most of all tending to her kiddos.

As this Holiday Season approaches, we are most importantly grateful for the Gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and hope that this Christmas Season finds you all healthy and happy!

Happy Holidays!

The Brewer Bunch

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We have never been accused...

... of doing things the easy way.

And Today was no exception.
Well, let's back up a bit first:
-- We have been in the house since April
-- With a 3 car driveway, we have said probably every month, "we should really get a snow blower before winter"
-- After our first storm last week and shoveling aforementioned driveway, again statement of, "ya know, we should really get a snow blower"

Fast forward to today:
-- Blizzard warning turns into a full fledged blizzard
-- we decide it's a great day for making some deliveries
-- only get stuck twice - one of those in front of our own house trying to get back into our (already shoveled twice and now showing no signs of shoveling) driveway

-- dig out, get the car in to have hubby say he is going to go finish up some more errands
-- me ask if he can just stay and do the errands on Monday (this statement did come back to haunt him)
-- me offer to help take the seats out of the van so he can get a snowblower (hint hint ;)  ).
-- hubby still unsure that we need one, says he's going to take the smaller car
-- me say probably not such a good idea, it's lower than the van and can get stuck easier

-- a few minutes later I look out the window to see hubby... in his car... right by our driveway... stuck

-- walk out to shovel out again and say, "the thing I want more than anything in the world for our anniversary is a snow blower"
-- we get the car unstuck and he's on his way
-- get a call a while later and hear, "I think I should have brought the van, this car is too low and gets stuck easy..."
-- starts getting dark - learned that all snowplows for the county have been called off due to the wind and blizzard
-- get another call:  hubby stuck at the base of hill
     (side note:  our house is at the top of quite a big hill - 2 ways to get here - both have quite a steep incline... so I guess you could say it really is "uphill both ways"... )
--- the good news is that he has a snowblower!
--- bad news - there is no way that the truck he got from home depot to bring it home is going to make it up the hill.
--- he tries the other hill.  Nothing.
--- we deliberate and decide to have me walk down the hill, walk the snow blower home while he takes the truck back to get his car.

--- tell kids I'm heading down the hill and will be right back.
--- walking down hill and into the wind and freezing snow gives me a whole new respect for the pioneers.
--- get to the truck to have both of us realize there is no way either one of us can lug the 100+ pound snow blower up the hill.  load it back in the truck, Jerry heads back to home depot.
--- I walk back up hill to home, only to find that within the time frame I stepped out, Joshy has clogged the toilet and water has flooded the bathroom, hallway, and halfway into the kitchen.  (seriously??!  Enough with the water issues already!!!)
--- clean up water (and kind of sort of lose it with the kids, who all just stood there watching the water getting spread farther and farther without putting down a single towel), get another call...
--- hubby tried a different plan (other than the one discussed about parking at gas station at bottom of hill and walking up, because the car wouldn't make it over the drifts, which now reached about knee height in the middle of the road)... and was stuck half way up hill.
--- after trying for quite a while, finally unloaded the groceries he had in the car, and walked the rest of the way - kids all bundled up and run out to meet him and help carry bags.
--- we all head back to car (yes, even 3 yo and baby are bundled up.
--- all kids in stuck car, us trying to shovel, push, rock and move car any which way.
--- sweet soul with snowblower comes and blows us a tire path up rest of the hill - we make it to the entrance of cul de sac.
--- get stuck.  again.
--- shovel.  again. thinking, 'wow, this would go so much faster with a snow blower... which we now own... that at one point in time was oh so close to our house... but is now sitting back at the store...'
--- another sweet neighbor takes pity and comes out with another shovel in hand to help dig path through the road and into driveway... then helps us push and shove and maneuver the car sliding and slipping
--- finally getting it into our driveway and garage
--- backwards and crooked
---  but in.

Nope - never accused of the simple, logical way of doing things.

...P.S. as I got in, defrosted, and opened the mail, this picture pours out of one of the envelopes...

Yep, true story.  Irony at it's best.  (Doncha just miss Minnesota like crazy, Marissa??!)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Law of Natural Consequences...

... are beautiful when it helps to teach the children a lesson...

... like this morning, for instance, when I sent the boys up to shower
     (after Seth whined about having to take once, since 'we took one yesterday!')
... and they asked if they could take a tubo tub
... and I relented (something I would live to regret)
... and as I sat emailing friends trying to work out a babysitting swap to volunteer in the kids classrooms
     (see?!  that's what I get for trying to volunteer!)
... Sarah brought down Elizabeth, who was sopping from head to toe in her pj's after just walking by the bathroom
... apparently from the 'tidal wave' that was coming from the bathtub of the boys...
... and I walked up to find not simply a turbo tub... but a whole bathroom sized swimming pool
   (are you feeling a little de ja vou-ish about now... wasn't my last post about something to do with waters and bathrooms??!!)

... instead of ranting and raving, this time I simply had the boys get towels and clean up their own mess, every nook and cranny of their mess
    (okay, so I still ranted and raved a smidge while they were cleaning up their own mess... )

... but that's not the law that really sunk in with Seth.
... nope, the beauty of it came back in the way that because of the extra clean up time, we were late getting to school    (okay, true confession, I took my time a wee bit getting the little ones ready to make sure that we would be a little late, just to drive home the lesson... hey, I never said the law of natural consequences couldn't use a little help every now and then!!)

... and this child HATES to be late, especially to school. 
... as in, he would rather stay in the car and hide all day then have to walk in late to school 
   (... those of you know know me, know for sure that this trait came straight from his dad!!!)

So as we pulled up late to school, I simply said, "well, the extra clean up time made us late for school... I guess you'll think twice about making such a big mess in the tub next time."
Judging from the look of horror on his face as he made the walk of shame to the school door, I think for once he maybe kinda sorta learned the lesson :).

Child mess: a little inconvenient  
Motherhood moment of triumph: priceless!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There is a special spot in Heaven...

... just waiting for me if I can get through this day and not inflict bodily harm on my child...
...  who asked if he could watch more TV (after watching far more than he should have already, mind you...)
... and was told, "No, too much TV will turn your brain to mush"... (a comment that once had Sarah in a fit, asking me every 3 minutes if her brain was getting mushy yet...)
... so went to entertain himself while mom experimented with a soup that she is supposed to take to a leadership training meeting on Saturday
... and somehow got upstairs without mom knowing (where baby was napping), and effectively turned the upstairs bathroom into his own personal splash park
... which gushed through the living room ceiling speakers and fell steadily onto the floor (which mom thought was just him washing his hands in the downstairs bathroom, so didn't think a whole lot about it while in the middle of attempting a roue for the soup, and without checking, simply hollered, "okay, Joshy, that's enough, you can turn the water off now"... only to hear his little voice a bit too far away to be in the next room...)
... and effectively formed a wading pool on the living room floor, and also into the bathroom
... which leaked through the fire alarm into the basement
... and could only be classified as Rochester's finest 3 story waterfall...
... and then said child went in to 'comfort' now awake and screaming baby sister
... with a balloon (you know, the type that if a baby pops and swallows will effectively cut of all air circulation, making even mouth to mouth resuscitation impossible...)
... while mom ran around like a crazy person trying to figure out which 'fall' to dam first
... and telling said mom ever so proudly, "I did that!!" as he squishes through the wet carpet leading out of the bathroom.
... then strips down, grabs a sprite can, and when mom (not quite so gently) yells his name, jumps and drops said can, which then pops open, spraying sugary liquid all over the kitchen floor.

... yep, a special spot in Heaven

Has My name on it.

In Gold.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


True Dedication at it's finest.  Robin, you are amazing!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Lizzy :)

I can't believe that just one year ago I was trying to convince hubby that I was really in labor...

and then an hour later trying to convince the nursing staff that I was in labor...

and then an hour later hearing someone say, "Call Dr. Angstman, and tell him to RUN!!"

and as he and hubby were getting suited up for the delivery, the nurse and I were 'gently' yelling at them to hurry because this baby was coming NOW, with or without their gowns and gloves on...

and come she did...

right into our lives, our home, our hearts.

... and now, one year later, she is more full of life than I could have every imagined!

... she took up walking by storm about a month ago and has been a pro ever since, 
finding a whole new world at her reach... 
(much to mom's chagrin!)

She was just a little freaked out by the sounds coming from the 'noisy' wrapping paper,
until she realized it was a doll... one that didn't care at all when she pulled it's hair and poked it in the eyes, and even giggled at motion... what more could a girl ask for ?

(... and mom has only been freaked out a couple of times when getting up in the middle of the night only to walk by and 'activate' the baby giggles...)

Her favorite present of all, however, was a little grocery store find - her own 'talking' cell phone!  She has even relinquished her constant quest to find mom's cell phone and do funky things to it.  Wahoo!!

How can you have a first birthday post without the smooshy-cake picture?! only took her about .5 seconds to get the gist of the grab and go eating style that is offered on this day only... and boy did she dig in!

Happy Birthday Little Lizzy - sure do love ya!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Let the festiviting begin!!

... or not...
On the way to the first trunk or treat, Josh and Liz both zonked out...

... but the others didn't let any afternoon tiredness overtake their candy-gathering efforts.

... and Josh was not too happy to learn that he had missed all of the action

 ... but never fear!  The beauty of having lived in 2 different wards in the same town is that we claim the right to double dip anytime fun activities come about...
like another trunk or treat that just happened to be scheduled a few hours later

(after the twins violin recital... how crazy is that?!  ... At least they got to dress up for the recital!)

... and liz discovered pretty quickly that it was much easier to just stay in our trunk and go for the goods there than make the trek to the other cars...

... and Josh got his trick or treating fix in...

... and even met up with his preschool buddy/batman twin for some fun treat tasting...

... and his sweet tooth lived happily ever after :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

My ensign moment...

All through my mission, when I would read the things that ubber creative moms did with their families, I would pull out the pages of their stories and began painting this utopia picture of my future husband and myself surrounded by our little perfectly-dressed-not-a-hair-out-of-place children as the Heavenly Angels sang in the background and we participated in all of the cutesy little enriching family activities.

... Fast forward 5 kids and 8 years of still trying to get my footing in the whole family/home/church/social/work/cooking/cleaning/teaching/crying/laughing/and just plain surviving...

... and, well, those 'ensign' moments kinds of flew by the wayside. 

This year, I finally decided to take a little step and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we had a Family Home Evening Lesson on being thankful, and started a thankful jar:
... along with 100 strips of paper that we get to write what we are thankful for each day, with a goal to fill in all 100 strips before thanksgiving.  (with a reward of a family outing once all 100 are filled...c'mon you know that I'm not above a little bribery :)  ).

... and I did have to laugh at the way that the kiddos dove right in... thankful for everything from family, to Santa, to  the TV...  

  I realize that for most of you, this is old news and you probably have huge elaborate activities that you do with your kiddos, but just this once, give me my ensign moment... a little late in the making, but here nonetheless :).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hand-me-down mommy

I recently dug this fun sweatshirt out of our hand-me-down box...

For it's newest owner, Joshua.  As I was rolling the sleeves up to fit his still-too-tiny-arms and assuring him that it would be fine, "you'll grow into it" and then watched how he looked at it in awe and told me about all of the parts of the firetruck (that he had learned from his two older fire-truck-loving brothers), I couldn't help but think about something else that has been brewing in my mind for the past little while...

**Waring, random ramblings about to erupt... feel free to exit the blog at any time... :)**
There, consider yourself warned...

I have been thinking lately, ya know, in all of my 8 years of mommy-hood experience ;), that I can feel myself slowly 'growing into' the mommy role.  

-- I find myself more content with little things.
-- Less flustered over the bazzilion schedule changes during the course of a 24 hour day.
-- Less likely to be mortified at the site of some of the outfit choices of the kiddos (and even secretly glad that they chose a certain outfit *insert purple wizard costume* and that they don't really care about molding to the general regular-clothes-wearing population)

-- Not quite so anal about scheduling every minute of every day
-- Able to choose my battles a bit more (or less, as the case may be)
-- And in general just loving being around my children.

Are things perfect?  Not by a long shot.  But they are better.  Not because the kids have changed, but because I find myself changing... morphing... molding... into this thing called "Mommy".  More importantly, I find myself loving the role, and finding the fit to be bit by bit more comfortable as the years go by.

As I have thought about this little inner discovery, I started to think back to how I have come to be where I am now on the mommyhood journey, and where I have learned the many (unpublished) mommyhood lessons from the (undocumented) mommyhood manual.  

And I have realized that I am, in fact, a hand-me-down mommy.  

So many lessons that I have applied, and am now trying to apply in my little mommyhood universe have been taught to me by so many incredible mothers that I have been surrounded by my entire life.  So many of you out there have handed me down so many mothering moments, and I thank you for that.  There have been so many of you that have helped me on my path to mommyhood (and continue to help me on my path) that I don't even know how to begin to thank you all and let you know some of the gratitude that I feel for the teeny-tiny lessons that you have taught me.

A few that for some reason have been hitting me a little harder lately come from those of you in my own family.

... *Warning, cheese factor about to get turned up a notch... go on at your own risk!*

I have, hands down, the most incredible examples of womanhood and motherhood in my immediate family.  I am the youngest of 7 kids, with 2 older sisters and 4 older sister-in-laws (Chelle - you count as older because you just morphed into Brians age category when you got married!). Plus a mother in law, and two more incredible sister-in-laws on my hubby's side.

We are one of those cheesy families who actually like getting together.  A lot.  
And when we get together.  I watch.  and I learn.

First of all, my mom.  
What can I say about her?  She is the epitome of motherhood.  
There is not a day that goes by where I find myself thinking, 'what would my mom do?'  I think it's safe to say that her kids are her life, and she did so many thousands of tiny things day in and day out to make our lives wonderful - things that at the time I had no idea how inconvenient it was for her.  She just did them because, well, she was the mom. 
   Like the time I moved suddenly from dorm room living to apartment living, and called her crying because I was having a hard time adjusting, and within 24 hours she was knocking on the door with a box full of pots and pans to help in my transition.  
   Or the countless games of various sports that I could look up and see her being my #1 cheerleader in the stand.  Home.  Away.  Hot.  Cold.  Early.  Late.  She was there.  (I have to admit, this thought was about the only thing that kept me in my chair on the sidelines of my own child's first freezing cold soccer game cheering away...).  I think deep down, she doesn't even really like sports (though she would never admit it openly to our sports-obsessed family!).  That act alone has built at least one floor in her mansion in heaven, I'm sure of it!

And then my sisters.  The best.  Ever.  (Well, I can say that now that I am no longer subjected to 'prickly pear cactus legs' or the pinch of death, or forced to sleep on the 'dracula' side of the bed!)

Each of my sisters is an absolutely amazing mother.  Seriously.  As in, the type that when I visit, I take a step back at each of their houses and think, "when I grow up, I want to be a mom like that!"  (and then I remember, oh no, I'm already a mom!  I'm already behind!)

Janie - I won't even talk about the fact that I'm a wee bit jealous that you could give birth to 7 children (yes, that's right, folks, SEVEN), and still be the skinniest one of the bunch!  But I also stand in complete awe at your ability to organize all of the children, serve as Relief Society President, And run a bazzilion ballroom programs, simultaneously.  I get dizzy just thinking about that schedule!
  -- with all of your many accomplishments, however, I do have to say one of the absolute most impressive to me is when I get to visit and see the day to day interaction of the kids.  These kids (remember the SEVEN kids?!).  All get along (and the majority of them are in the thick of the pre-teen to young adult age span - yes, the age span where most siblings hate each other).  Not only do they get along, but they genuinely like and care for one another.  
 -- case in point:  this last visit, I got the chance to stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking to a couple of the kids - ages 19 and 16.  I loved talking to them, but more importantly, I loved watching how they would talk with one another.  As we discussed different boys and girls, they would tell each other, "oh, I don't like him for you"  or "yes, you should go out with her, she's great."  Or even, "No, you shouldn't go out with her, she's mean to me"... and he would truly listen to her and take the insight to heart.  Amazing!
 -- to me, that speaks volumes to mommyhood - and that is one hand-me-down that I would love to grow into as my kids reach those points in life.

And then there is Julie...  the family firecracker.  (Seriously folks, if you have a party and she's not on the guest list, you may as well just cancel the party!  She's awesome!)  Just being around her makes me smile.  I secretly stock her blog just to copy some of the incredibly cute things that she does with her kiddos and make-believe that I am as creative and talented as she is :).  (C'mon, anyone who would orchestrate her husband into making real-not-cheap-plasticky bows and arrows as party gifts for their son's 'robin hood' birthday party is up there for mother (and father!) of the year award!).
... but the thing that impresses me the most is hard to put into words.  Julie is the essence of motherhood. Whenever I see her with her kids, I have the thought, "wow, I want to be a mom like that."  You can tell that she truly lives motherhood as she puts her kids needs above anything else in life and is really there for her kids, both physically, but also mentally and emotionally. 
Case in point:  Julie is a phenomenal ballroom dancer (as in touring the world in college type of dancer!).  She gave that all up in the pursuit of mommyhood.  When her oldest got into elementary school, she started a childrens ballroom program.  Not for her own benefit, or to further her own ballroom career, but to have a team for her daughter to learn the skills that she loves so much.
But that case in point doesn't even truly describe what I'm trying to explain - she just oozes motherly love, from being there at every moment that her kids need her physically, to giving her kids the comforts of life, not only temporal, but also emotional,  even at her own sacrifice in so many ways.

That is a hand-me-down that I am trying to do more of... invest not in just physically being a mom, but capturing the essence and spirit of mommyhood.

There are so many more examples I could give - from sister-in-laws, to dear friends, to casual acquaintances, of little lessons in mommyhood that have helped me to grow into this role that hopefully someday, will fit me just perfectly.  
For now, I will continue to mold and morph, roll up the sleeves when they get a bit too long
And continue to watch and learn and grow

from all of you.

Thank you so much for your hand-me-down ways of mommyhood :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Humpty Pumpky...

Sat on a wall

Humpty Pumky

Had a great fall...

All the moms toothpicks, and all the mom's hands...

tried to put pumpky together again...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Active days of Activity Days...

What a fun night of Activity Days.  We had a Daddy Daughter Date night, which we dubbed:  Father's Fall Foose Ball Festival.  Oh yea.. you can never get enough F's in one sentence! (or enough of blatantly stealing great ideas from ubber-creative cousins!  Thanks, Sarah, for the inspiration from your own Activity Day's activity!)

We had the girls carve pumpkins with their dads and then bring them to the activity for part of the decorations, then did a hay-stack dinner, took daddy-daughter pictures by a little fall backdrop, played some human foose ball (hilarious!), and decorated pumpkin sugar cookies.  All of this in (just a teensy bit over) an hour... whew!

This slide show is for you mom's out there who couldn't open the link that I sent - it also has pictures of some of our other activities - a flair for hair night, and water kick ball (... so sad to see the summer-running-through-the-sprinkler days are now a thing of the past!)...

I love my activity days girls!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The pumpkin patch...

The nice days are getting to be fewer and father between...

... and the blue skies are about to give way to the gray days of winter...

... and beautiful, warm sunshine

... is about to become a faint memory...

... we have to suck the marrow out of each fleeting day of fall...

... so today we made our way to the fun pumpkin patch at Sekaaps orchard for our annual pumpkin outing of the season...

... and took our annual still shots in the middle of all of the pumpkins...

... and this was about as still as I could get Joshy to be at any given point in time...

... and this about the only way I could get Liz to stay in one place for more than .2 seconds...

... I love Fall!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gentlemen, Start your engines!!

... Well, first, you better cut, sand, and paint your engine...

... then molten the lead for the engine... 

... and add the weight pellets to the engine...

... then line the cars up and listen to the last minute talk about sportsmanship and an "it doesn't matter who wins..." and secretly pray that your sons car at least won't come in last...

... and as you watch your little one's face, the anticipation about kills you...

 ... and your heart melts at the way your daughter turns class A-1 cheerleader...

... and then get to see this face...

... as the 'big blue' car wins again...

                             ... and again...

 ... and again...

... and get to have your son take home this... and can hardly keep the smile off his face...

... which can hardly keep the smile off his mama's face   :)

... that is until we got home and realized that with three boys, each spaced just under 3 years apart means we will be re-creating this moment again...
and again...
and again...
for the next decade.

wish us luck.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ta Da!!!

If any of you have had any type of conversation with me in the past couple of years, you know I have a huge thing about giving people "Ta Da's"  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, give me a call, it's obviously been too long since we have last talked!... or just tell me to explain myself and I'll write a whole post about it... yes, I feel that strongly about the Ta Da factor!)

... anyway, when Ben came home from his 3rd day of school with his first art project and walked around with me to find the 'perfect spot' to hang it up, I thought, "He needs his Ta Da moment"  

... and as we were walking around, I suddenly noticed how barren this wall looked:
 ... and how much it was just screaming for a little spice in life.
... and then I thought, "hey how about a Ta Da WALL??!  (with 5 kids, we've got to think global here, folks... no piddly pin up board is going to hold all of the masterpieces that grace the threshold of our household!)

... So after a bit of research, and a great big deep breath, I dove in and started...

and quickly got a little scared to see the BLACK magnetic paint all over our once beautifully neutral walls, and suddenly panicked, thinking this may be one of my (many*ahem*) hair brained schemes that looks a lot better in my brain than it does in real life...

... but we forged ahead... through all the layers, spills, and smells...

to give birth to the "Official Ta Da" dwelling in our home.
... so if any of you are needing a little recognition, pat on the back, or any other form of Ta Da... send it here... we'll put it up in your honor :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

You would think

that our kids have never seen this stuff before...

because early this morning we woke up to shouts of glee as the kids bursted into the room
saying "it's white all over the ground, mom!"  

and quickly got on some snow gear and headed outside to play
... which only lasted a few minutes, as the sun quickly burned off the early frost...

(much to moms relief... who is so not ready for another long stint of being buried in this...

Long live green grass and family bike rides!!