Merry “Mad Lib” Christmas

For those here wanting our version of the Mad Lib Christmas Greeting: Here ya go!







It has been one crazy year in the Brewer household, filled with many ups and downs. We spent many hours together exploring different parts of the world.

In April, Jen dragged everyone to Italy to fulfill her dream of seeing all things Michelangelo. The littles chased lots of pigeons and we all ate our body weight in pizza and gelato.

In the summer, we drove to Utah and played with cousins. After a full day at the lake, we all ended up with sunburns! (much to derm daddy’s chagrin)

This school year, we added another school to the mix as the twins started high school. Between school, sports, and music lessons, Jen pretty much lives in the car.

This year we also entered the world of Taekwando. You know what they say, a family that kicks together, stays together.

Jen still likes to write books, and Jerry still likes to cut cancer.

Seth loves tennis, Sarah just discovered cross country and choir (Bella Voce choir – loves it!).

Ben caught the acting bug and Joshua became quite the lego master. Liz just started 1st grade and took up violin. Adam and Anna use the buddy system to gang up on mom during the day and can successfully un-clean any room in 30 seconds or less.

We hope this holiday season finds you healthy and happy. We love you!

The Brewers

Who are these people??!

You know, the new wave of the perfect pintrest picture people: the 30 second ‘make food mixed with beauty’ people. The Martha Stewart meets Julia Child meets tommy the tech guy.

You’ve seen the super snippets of food video that have taken the internet by storm. Those 30 seconds that lead to a fully cooked and decorated Thanksgiving meal, complete with homemade turkey name plates to greet each loving guest.

Usually I just bypass those with a smile. I truly am glad that some people have the talent to pull all of those off.

Usually I am not foolish enough to think that I can even play in the same city, let alone the same park at these folks.


But this Halloween simply snuck up on me. In a desperate attempt to find some sort of ‘my mom is so Halloween Cool!’ check mark in the kiddos eyes, I got lured into one of the ‘look how easy this is!’ video snippets. The one that made worms in the straws. Made form gooey gelatin that somehow magically pours itself into the straws, leaving no mess behind, then slithered out of it’s own accord, to mix gleefully with perfectly crunched oreos to create the perfect ‘ewwww, this is so creepy cool!’ reaction.

In trying to reenact this grand affair in real time, the only ‘quick’ thing about this endeavor was the realization that they left a few things on the editing floor.

Like, for starters, when pouring the jello mixture into the straws, how did they actually get it to stay IN the straw?? They left THAT little detail on the editing floor. Something that I realized, right about the time I remembered, ‘oh yeah, straws are made for liquid to PASS THROUGH… not magically fill up!’

Enter impromptu edit #1: the frosting fix!

thumbnail_img_7003Yep – that’s exactly what I did – opened the frosting and just dunked all the straws in there. You won’t see THAT on the pinterest board!

Next was the actual pouring. I don’t know how they did it so perfectly in the video, but I had gelatin goo EVERYWHERE. Between the straws, pooling in the jar. Even running down my arms! There is a reason why I moved away from the Jell-o state, and this brought it all vividly to my memory.

As the concoction sat in the fridge, I actually let my long-subdued wanna be crafty self submerge for a season of hope. This really could be the time it works! I really could be sending my kiddos to school with super cool halloween snacks after all! I went to bed last night with visions of wormy treats dancing in my head.


Which quickly turned to dreams about snakes eating my children. No joke. That probably had more to do with us taking our kiddos to the jungle over Christmas (a post for an entirely different day!), but I should have taken it as an omen nonetheless.

I got up this morning, pulled the straws out, and laughably thought this would be just like the video – the saintly fingers gently coaxing the perfectly formed worms from their hibernation.

Not so.
thumbnail_img_7005See these blood-red fingers?? That is NOT jello stain people. Those ridges on the flex straws HURT! Even as I type this, my fingers are still missing a few layers of skin on them.

Speaking of the straws – what they forgot to mention in the video was that this project is NOT conducive to the cheap-o walmart ‘extended flex!’ crap. They meant for you to use INDUSTRIAL strength, non-stick polymer-filled straws (probably available by special order from martha…). thumbnail_img_7006

these ones had worm gust squirting out from all sides. I got so desperate, I even tried my hubby’s (trying not to giggle while he offered) advice to ‘run them under hot water then just blow them out. Yep tried that. Nope. Doesn’t work. Great, now I have raw fingers, AND a ginormous trying-to-blow-up-way-too-small-of-balloon headache!

Son #3 comes down the stairs, so I’m desperate to get SOMETHING in the bowl (the kids have been anticipating this since they saw the crazy contraption in the fridge! Plus, I have NO plan B for Halloween food-fedishness, so I have to make it work somehow!)

I squeeze, I tug, I rub my fingers raw.

and from the huge bundle of straws, THIS is what I end up with:thumbnail_img_7007

So, I do what any dietitian-mom would do:

Add Oreos.









Because, at the end of the day, oreos really DO make things better!

And THAT, my dear friends, is how NOT to follow a ‘oh, this is super easy, even a non-crafter can do it!’ video.

Happy Halloween…

If you need me, I’ll be munching on some worms.

that I purchased from the store.

for .99.

What’s YOUR specialty?

I’m not sure about you, but I tend to swim in the big gully of guilt on a daily basis in this life called mommy hood. Add to this the critisizing comparisons that we seem to find in social media and suddenly we have a war zone of helicopter vs free-ranger, with a side of made from scratch vs boxed lunches, followed by a stay-at-home/work-at-home/work-out-of-home all out brawl and you have yourself a community of moms who, instead of relishing one on others uniqueness, spend untold hours trying to make everyone else just like us so we won’t feel so guilty for not doing what they are doing.

Can’t we all just relish and cherish each other’s strength and specialty?

This, coming from a person who has spent YEARS trying to talk myself into a mold that I just, well, don’t fit. At least not in the ‘perfect molly mormon mom’ mold that as a teen I thought would be the end all to existence.legacy-sprague-lc-rappaport-type-stethoscope-adult-black-10-420-020-lr

Let me give you an example… and please pardon my over-use of the medical field – it’s what I know, and one that has helped me come to a light bulb moment about myself to help ease the guilt (at least a little bit!)

A tiny background on medical training. My hubby grew up wanting to be a doctor. He didn’t know much more than that – just he wanted to be a doctor, knowing vaguely (thanks to his MANY trips to the ER as a youth) that they work in the hospital and help people. Pretty noble ambition, right?

Little did he know before entering med school that the term ‘Doctor’ is so vague and general that it doesn’t even begin to describe the profession. These people spend two years studying general medicine, and then the next two years they spend “touring” (side note, hubby would HATE that description, because it was ANYTHING than a vacation – it was hard work!!) the different specialities out there. You see, when you get into medical training, the question is no longer, “so, you want to be a doctor?” it is now, “What is going to be your specialty?” After 4 years of medical school, they then go to a residency in which they spend anywhere from 3-10 (yes, TEN!) MORE years, studying their specialty. Sometimes they THEN do a fellowship where they get even more specialized.

Like all doctors, there are some specialties that my hubby loved when he did his rotation with them.  There were others where he couldn’t finish the rotation fast enough! At the end of the day, the hope is that the doctor has been able to not only be a doctor, but be able to specialize in his or her passion. When they hit that sweet spot, man, they are like a kid on Christmas going into work! It’s a beautiful thing. It’s even more beautiful when you have seen them go through training for a specialty that they just don’t like at all. The difference is night and day.

My hubby did an extended stint (called internship year – I won’t go into details explaining this mode – just to let you know that it was a year long) in internal medicine.

Internal medicine is extremely important to the overall field of medicine. Many people love this field and flourish in it. My hubby is not one of those. He came home so many days saying, “man, if I had to do this my whole career, I would die!” It was evident in his energy level and <lack of> excitement throughout that year that, though he was a doctor, this was definitely not an area that he enjoyed. However, it’s important to note that he didn’t just sit in the corner and sulk either. He didn’t say, “well, this isn’t what I like, so I’m just not going to do it!” He worked hard, he excelled, and he helped many many patients throughout that year.

His true niche, I daresay his calling in life, is truly with dermatology surgery (skin cancer guy). After days that he spends in surgery, I love to hear him recount his activities and see how giddy he gets describing the intricate cuts and flaps, and twists it took to rebuild someones nose (or ear, or even eyelid!) once he got all of the cancer cut out. He truly is in his mode when he is doing mohs (skin cancer surgery).

I am the first to admit that this specialty is not for everyone either. One of my good friends, upon learning about my hubby’s specialty said that her hubby really tried to like dermatology, but just hated it. He chose radiology instead and still loves it.

Here’s the kicker. Although my hubby has found his niche, he doesn’t go around saying how everyone should love dermatology, and how if anyone doesn’t love dermatology, then there is something wrong with them. In fact, if they dare love internal medicine, then they are just selfish, horrible doctors who really don’t care about patients at all. (can you see where i’m going with this??!)

Here’s the thing: they are all doctors. They all have different specialties. They don’t spend their time poo pooing other peoples chosen specialities. They simply work in their realm under the ‘doctor’ umbrella, and let other specialists work in other realms under the same ‘doctor’ umbrella as well. They don’t distinguish one specialized doctor as a ‘good’ doctor, nor another one as a ‘bad’ doctor. To put it in simple terms – they all play nicely in the sandbox.

Okay, are you still with me here?  I know that was a long worded set up – but let’s transfer this to motherhood.

First point:  let’s say that once my hubby had become a doctor, the only thing that he was given the option to do was be in internal medicine. And then he spent all his time either trying to make himself love this specialty when he clearly didn’t, and fighting within himself wondering why, although he loved being a ‘doctor’ … he didn’t really like being a ‘doctor’ (in the internal medicine sense).

On the same token – I lived my whole growing up years wanting nothing more than to be a mom. it’s all I talked about, planned for, and dreamed about. Now I am in the thick of it.  And though I love being a ‘mom,’ there are, quite frankly, some parts that I really don’t like about being a ‘mom.’ A lot of time in the past few years has been wasted by me trying to cover my guilt over this realization. I couldn’t understand why, when I had finally been able to fulfill my dream of being under the umbrella mom term, I could feel so completely unfulfilled at the same time.  Then I sit in church lessons, or hear other women talk about how much they love being a mom and my guilt got multiplied.

A year ago I finally came to one thought that started to set me free of my guilt: I realized that in admitting that I didn’t necessarily feel fulfilled in motherhood, that didn’t mean that I didn’t love my children any less. I had a light bulb moment of thinking that my Love for my children and being a mom to my children wasn’t synonymous with the love of motherhood. In fact, it was very freeing to think that I did all of the daily ‘mundane’ motherhood acts not because I loved the acts themselves, but because I loved my children and those mundane motherhood acts just may be in some way my ‘internal medicine’ training time. This helped me look at my life as a mother in this stage in very different eyes. Instead of beating myself up because I wasn’t finding pure joy and fulfillment in every single tiny moment, I relished the fact that I did these things because I loved my children dearly and want them to have the absolute best that I can give them.

You know the irony of this? When I freed myself up to look at my motherhood stage from this angle, I started enjoying so many more mother hood moments then I ever had before. I have started to actively look for the mothering moments that truly do take my breath away and make me want to push pause and keep my kids in this phase forever.

The other overall point from this (way too long) analogy is this: why do we as mothers, spend so much time comparing, contrasting, and criticizing (the great and dreadful triple C!) each other for each person’s chosen specialty? Can’t we just relish one mom’s specialty without taking away from our own interests? Why do we put such judgmental labels out there like those ‘selfish’ moms who want a career in addition to their kids, or those lazy moms who just let their kids roam around the backyard… alone *gasp*!

How about we look at this as a community, all working together under the same ‘mommy hood’ umbrella, while carving out our own specialty version of what fulfilling motherhood is to us? How about we even go so far as to really enjoy and admire other mother’s specialties, without feeling threatened that in so doing, we would somehow take away from our own motherhood strengths? Just think how freeing it would be to help each other on this journey instead of ‘ts, ts-ing’ one another’s shortfalls. I think it is possible, and I thing the prospect is beautiful!

So, whether you are an elf on the shelf superstar, or a tooth fairy failure, let’s let go of the triple C and come together to cheer one another on in this great mommyhood marathon, however we choose to run.


Mom down! Mom Down!

Warning: do NOT try this at home (get sick, that is)… this mom is a not-so-professional-in-training. Read on and learn from her mistakes before making them yourself!

Wow, what a difference one letter makes. In the regular world, the phrase “MAN DOWN!” is enough to stop all activity for miles around, and inspire everyone around to drop everything and come running with the ever-common question on their lips, “How can I help??”


Change one teeny, tiny letter… and about the only question that is spewed forth from the ‘oh you’re sick? That’s too bad’ crew members of the household is, “So mom, what’s for dinner?”






Add this to the fact that the past two weeks have been certifiably insane around said household, as schedules, science projects, germs, and hubby having more late nights then usual have aligned to put the entire hub of activity into overhaul as this mom has been running to and fro, picking up, dropping off, wiping noses, dosing medicine, dolling eye drops, and oh yea… trying to keep her kids engaged in the whole ‘kids in the kitchen’ movement.

((notice how i slipped the science fair pics in here??  I have to prove somehow that there HAS been some sort of productivity before today!))

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Before you harbor any sort of jealously as to how the kids cooking program survived, let me go ahead and burst that bubble right now. That was the first thing to go.  In fact, in the past 2 weeks, I have pulled every single ‘get-it-on-the-table-quick!’ trick.  Cereal for dinner?  Yup – so much that it is now all gone (oh, did I mention that grocery shopping beyond the ultra essentials from the gas station milk and bread dept was the second thing to fall by the way side??).  Pancakes from the ready mix?  Did that.  Egg sandwiches?  twice.  pb&j… more fill in times than I can count.  We even did a macho nacho night!  (If you name it something super cool, then somehow it transforms into more than just slapping cheese on chips, right??!).

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My point is, that the idea bag is out.  The only saving grace is that we happen to live with superman dad, who cooked up an entire mongo batch of gnocchi on Sunday, and we have been slurping from it’s left overs ever since.

Back to the mom down… let me just come clean and say that there are those moms who completely coddle under-the-weather children and say such phrases as “oh, baby, I so wish it could be me instead of you!”  not this mama.  Nope.  Of course I’ll do the snuggles, and the care-giving… but truth be told, the main thing through my mind is “wow, I’m so glad I am the care-giver and not the care-receiver.”  You see, when kids are down, it means that I suddenly have an excuse to not leave the house, and the torrents of clutter that have built up can finally be tackled.

Which is exactly what happened earlier this week.  Toddler took a nap (cue heavenly angels!!) and I tackled not one, not two, but FOUR rooms of outer darkness!  It was epic, I tell you what.

And then the aches set in.

I have absolutely no doubt that there is a karma god circling our house at all times, and the minute I am less then empathetic towards any given child’s plight to try to get a day off school, stating what I would frame pretty ‘weak’ symptoms… I give them a hug pat their head, and send them off to school (with the promise that they can call if they really go down hill).  I can now almost guarantee that if said experience ensues at our house, I will wake up the next morning with the exact same “weak” symptoms (even down to the ‘I get a little dizzy when I walk.’) one.

Karma Gods.  Lesson learned.

I, mom down, swear that I will henceforth and forever believe said symptoms in children and not only keep them home, but will coddle, coo, and spoon feed them ice cream.  Please, please, just take this curse of the ‘weak’ symptoms away!

Through the night last night, I knew I was slipping.  I was slipping quickly.  When I looked over to the latest child to succom to the germ fest, my first question was – “wanna stay home?”

His look of utter shock that I would actually give in without the typical grilling of the issues quickly gave way to his brilliant brain, and he took me up on that offer post stat.

As do began the day of mom down.

Or rather “mom slipping.”

“mom fading”

“Mom’s going fast!”

Now, before you get all up in the air saying that people are, indeed waiting right in the wings, ready to rush onto the stage and help out (as what happened with my teaching partner from the gym)…

… nor is this in ANY way meant to be a bash on men, dad’s, boyfriends.  There are some rock-star men who power through when they are sick.  I am not saying they are any weaker than their female counter parts (I let the other plethora of posts on said subject poke that hive of hornets!!)

I’m simply putting forth that there is a definite conundrum of ‘mom down.’

Most of the circle of moms consist in – shocker – other moms.

Other moms who truly will bend over backwards to help out a fellow mama in avery which way.

… except the way that would entail bringing a new and vicious set of germs home to her own brood.  The only thing worse than one mom down, is another mom down from trying to help the first!

There is an unspoken code of motherhood help, and it goes like this, “I pledge that I will not ask you to watch my snot-spewing, eye swelling child, which I fully recognize would be akin to handing you a spray bottle inoculated with every nasty germ under the sun and then ask you to please spray it on every surface of you home.”

So, when mom goes down amongst the troops, there is nothing to do, but grab the blankets, hunker down for the long haul.

… and as you hunker down, you realize that this was probably not the best idea.  Apparently your lack of movement created a smooth dance floor upon which the invading germs could shimmy, shake, and … ahem… replicate.  What you thought was just a soar throat and congestion quickly turns into body aches, fever, and chills.

You may try everything to beat the chills.  You look at the fire place.  You schlep over and camp out in front… only to realize that the campfire rule hangs true – you end up frying on one side, while turning pop cycle-like on the other side.  You try to cover yourself with blankets.  Nothing.

Then you realize that in the hospital you get freshly WARMED blankets… so you do the next best thing – you start the dryer with the clothes that have been in there for waaaay too long, hoping to warm them up enough to get the chill out.

Sweet – you can get warm, and actually be a little productive at the same time as you picture yourself folding toasty warm clothes.

Incidentally, there is a reason why this technique is not listed on the ‘life hacks’ website.  Not only does the warmth go away, but when it does, you are faced with and even colder cover.  Plus you’re covered in still-unfolded laundry.








And you almost jump up with your spidey reflexes as you see your toddler running full speed for your finally calm baby… spewing forth his snot font every which way as he sprints.

Except that you sadly realize that your spidey senses have now been overrun with the ‘prolific germinating germs’ and you are instead forced to squeak out a feeble, “come and see mama!”

To which he surprisingly accesses, turns mid squirt, and runs, runny nose first right into your cold, unfolded, now re-dirtied laundry.  Which was okay, because right before this incident, you were faced with the realization that your detergent may not be all that its cracked up to be as the cooling effect also brought the vivid ‘musk of urine’ to the forefront.

So you throw your ‘I’m going to be a good mom and only let the sick ones watch one movie, after which they will happily read for the rest of the day until my calvary (read, middle school babysitters) make it home’ plan to the wind and shout out, “hey, who wants to watch ANOTHER movie??”

Well, your kids have never been slow on the uptake, so they grab the remote and are suddenly engrossed in the next netflix flick, to which you stroke your guilt mode with the thought, “Hey, it’s a cartoon about animals… I’ll call that educational input!”

And you let the laundry slide (literally!) as you think you have just earned yourself at least a 22 minute nap.

At which exact time you hear the ‘lunch time!’ cry of the baby-who-could-care-less-what-is-wrong-with-her-food-supply-mom.

Maybe I should go all Yentle like, cover myself with boys clothes, and change that one tiny letter???

I’m baaaaack (said in the weird poltergeist voice!)

wowza – what a ride this life is!  I have taken a HUGE hiatus from the blogging world for a while as I have been working on focusing in on what my top priorities are.  I made a big shift as to things that were essential and things that were nice to have.  The blog… well, that got put on the ‘nice to have’ list and as such, got moved down on the ‘to-do’ list further and further.

Don’t get me wrong – I have different blog post ideas swirling around in my head constantly… right next to the book ideas that are also swirling… which are right by the Facebook posts that are swirling..

Is it any wonder why I am frequently feeling dizzy??

Here’s the bullet point update on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness… or at least the pursuit of sane-ness ;).

— new baby born (wahoo!)










— book sales and speaking gigs going well (wahoo!)

— started masters program in school and community gardens (wah… what??!  yep.. after years of teaching people to eat closer to the farm, I decided I should take the leap and add that last piece to teach people how to grow the farm.  Only problem was – I didn’t know a THING about gardening.  So I jumped in with both feet and have been working in our elementary school and YMCA gardens with the kids. it is AWESOME!!)

— shifted the masters program (I know, I know, I just started it one bullet point ago!) to include international gardening efforts

— oh yea… the pregnant part – had ANOTHER baby (wow – I really have been in a blogging hiatus for a LONG time!). Total kids in family now = 7.  Total alone minutes I get on a daily, weekly, monthly basis = 0.  (seriously, folks, not even a trip to the ‘potty’ warrants the coveted alone time!  I tell you, you have not lived until you have had to fight your two year old who is wanting desperately to help you ‘wipe’!  We are living the glamorous life around here – I tell you what!)








— birthed another book (well, almost – my part is done… now it’s just waiting in line at the publishers – release date set for August – double WAHOO!!).

— almost moved to the country to give kids more space (5 acre plot!)… but couldn’t stomach the huge house and price tag that came along with it, so stayed put. (how many toilets can I realistically keep clean, even with the help of the little ones??!)

— almost moved across the country (well, I think ‘almost’ is a bit of an exaggeration… my dream location tried to whew hubby away from his job.  It was right in the middle of my beloved western mountains.  I could almost taste the endless weekends of skiing with the kids in the winter and hiking/camping in the summer, not to mention being SO close to family!!  But when hubby spends 8+hours a day at work, and knowing that the job itself would even hold a match next to his current job… aka dream job of the universe… I knew it was kind of a pipe dream.)

— took a trip out of the country.  We took the olders on a humanitarian aid trip to Guatemala (my hearts home!!) I headed up the agriculture committee to help them learn how to grow community and household gardens while hubby spent all day, every day doing surgeries (in the craziest of surroundings!  on top of tables, in tents, in dark corners of steaming hot building, etc).  Almost died a few times.  Got stranded on a mountain road.  Took a ride on a motorcycle with a total stranger as I tried to get to little city to get some requerdos of Guatemala for the kiddos.  Not one of my smartest moves, but did make it through the whole ordeal unscathed (perhaps being 6 months pregnant and looking completely desperate helped a little??)


we got to tour the inside of one of the homes – a bamboo hut!




yes, we rode in the back of cattle trucks to get around!


— added yet another to the family (in the canine version).  All I can say is, don’t ask me what I was thinking on this matter.  He’s cute, and sassy, and BIG.  Fun addition.  But again, don’t ask me what I was thinking when I agreed to this addition!!

— started a new cooking program with the kids (will expand on this in later blog posts)  now going on three weeks and still going on!  That is a huge accomplishment for me on this type of program – I have started this many years in a row and have never made it through the first few days.  I’m feeling a new trend come and it is awesome!!













— living, loving, freezing and defrosting – many times on a daily basis as we continue on this great roller coaster of life!








It’s good to be back!