To Begin Again

I think, therefore I:

  • am
  • stress myself out
  • go down the rabbit hole
  • daydream
  • desire more of what makes me happyAbrewsterHeadshot

Writing for my blog used to be something I’d do quite consistently…about 4+ years ago or more. I enjoyed just taking a few moments to capture my thoughts on something, or share activities I was enjoying with my son, or talk about places I want to go or where I’ve been. And then “life” just got in the way.

Blogging became so tiresome and it just seemed like a LONG way to do something. Why write about it when I can tweet, snap, or Instagram it? I can still capture moments but only take a fraction of my time to do so.

But I missed the writing.

So I’m beginning all over again…sort of. I guess I can claim it was all just a really nice
break or sabbatical from my previous commitment. In that time, I got married, changed jobs twice (maybe even three times considering the time…), moved twice, had ACL surgery, went to some new places, and just decided I needed to do more of things that are ME.

I’m back on track, Jack. More to come with musings on life, raising a teen (a soon-to-be-famous comedy series), and the itch to travel.

PEACE.

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“I’m not dead yet!”

I couldn’t help but think of classic Monty Python lines when I started to remember my poor neglected blog. I might have tried ever so slightly to put it out to pasture in some ways…but in truth, it’s not dead yet. Nor should it be. But in the era of microblogging, it seems that I spend less time trying to say more with Twitter, Instagram, and on the rare occasion, Facebook.

But I still like the idea of blogging. I can say much, much more (which may be a good or bad thing).

To sum up the last few months since my post “recent” post, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of my life since May:

  • Caden finished elementary school…and I cried. Dang him, no matter how hard I try to sit on him he keeps growing up.
  • He also was a fabulous Romeo in his Sixth Grade play, Romeo & Juliet. He humored his mother and tolerated her pleas to grow his hair out long to play it with a little more authenticity (which was my excuse to play with his hair…oh, I need a girl).
  • Caden tried another new sport this summer – rugby. And it may be the last time he ever plays it too, as that was the first sport I ever saw a kid bust his leg in. Yikes.
  • I started dating somebody in early May. Still dating The Man. And it’s all good.
  • Went to Chicago for the first time for a conference in June. LOVED it.
  • Enjoyed the family cabin in Island Park over the Fourth of July.
  • Found out my sister Katie is going to have a BOY in early January (her husband, Dave, totally needs a buddy – he’s dominated by strong female personalities right now).
  • Caden attended his second year of football camp in CA and had another stellar performance.
  • While he was at camp, I played! Hit up Malibu, Santa Barbara, Dodgers game, shopping, running in Venice Beach…loved every minute.
  • Junior high started for C – ugh. How do I possibly have a seventh grader?
  • Found out Caden LOVES to play the trumpet. Hallelujah! After fighting for two years over piano, a year over violin, it’s so nice to finally find an instrument that he wants to play. His mother is determined he learns a little musicality.
  • Went back to Chicago with The Man. So much fun – Cubs game, boat tours, running through the city, spa trips, fabulous dinners. Totally spoiled.
  • Caden’s football team made the playoffs (thank heavens) but got squashed by a ginormous team. However, he had a very successful season – scored 7 touchdowns, including one kick off return TD. That was awesome. 🙂
  • Caden made the school basketball team as a seventh grader! He also made a new comp basketball team, Hustle, that is doing pretty well.
  • His soccer team took first place in their division this Fall. Tough to balance this sport with football but thankfully he has a great coach who understands.
  • Volleyball was a pretty darn good season this Fall for me – only two losses and some of my better performances in games this year.
  • Did the Bountiful Handcart Days Half Marathon and was literally sick for 8 miles of it. Thankfully, The Man did it with me and was kind and patient enough to do the slowest race ever because I had to stop every half mile and gag.
  • Also did something super crazy–The Tough Mudder. Don’t know what it is? Check it out here.

And that’s the quick rundown of the major highlights. Ta da.

This blog is not dead yet. Enjoy some pics over the past few months! You can find them on my Instagram account, username: angelbrew.

Bored Kids = Experimenting with water balloons

Not too recently, Caden and his friend Emma were bored on a Friday afternoon. School gets out early (1:25) and they came home to a somewhat chilly afternoon.

“Let’s play basketball!” said Caden, always up for some sort of competition or other.

“Nah, it’s too cold,” replied Emma.

“Let’s go play Madden 12!” suggested Caden, always up for an Xbox game involving some sport or other.

“Nah, that’s for boys,” replied Emma.

So they thought and they thought and they thought and they thought until suddenly they both had a great idea.

“Let’s have a water fight!”

But it was too cold to really have a water fight. Instead they grabbed balloons from Caden’s grandma’s stash and started to fill them up with very warm water – too hot, and the balloon would break. They filled each balloon as big as they could possibly manage and carried each one outside very carefully.

After changing into their swimming suits (a very practical idea), Emma said, “Why don’t we burst the balloons on ourselves?” Caden thought for a moment and said, “I know how we should do it! Let’s get a pin and poke a small hole in the balloon and see how long it takes for the balloon to pop on our bellies.”

“Great idea!” they both shouted and went in search of a pin.

Once two pins were secured, they grabbed towels to lay on top of the cold concrete (it was a chilly 55 degrees) and each placed a warm balloon on their bellies, ready for the Great Water Balloon Pop Experiment.

Most amazing – the balloon is gone but the water is still in balloon shape!

Warm water explosion!

Emma ready for first pinhole

Ready to make the first pinhole

Warm water explosion!

“Let’s pop one together!”

Warm water explosion again!

Valentines Sixth Grade Dance (Awww…)

Yesterday was probably the best Valentines Day I’ve ever had. It was a day full of fun, too many sweets, a great basketball game, and lots of dancing feet!

Caden’s elementary school hosted its annual Sixth Grade Valentines Dance and to date it was the most fun I have ever had watching him “perform” (even more than football…which is saying something). I still remember my sixth grade dance at the very same elementary – the dance cards, the excitement, my new pink Jessica McClintock gunnysack dress. I felt so grown up and it sticks in my mind vividly (and I totally remember my sixth grade crush…but I’m not tellin’).

I didn’t know if Caden would be so interested in a Valentines Dance because 1) he’s a boy and 2) he’s a boy. Most of his friends thought it was a little silly and they were terribly nervous to have to pair up with a girl and actually TALK to her instead of TEASE her. Caden? He was excited to show his moves. For the past two months the sixth graders had been learning new dances – waltz, swing, macarena (can we even call that a dance?), that cha-cha song where you clap your hands, the hokey-pokey, and the Miley Cyrus Hoedown Showdown. Yep, that’s right, the kids broke it down to that yee-ha song. And Caden had been PRACTICING. He was ready to hit the floor. He was also ready to look “really awesome” which meant wearing pink according to him (most of the boys had something pink on). I’m not one to put my son in a lot of pink but I do have to say he looked very handsome in his striped shirt and bowtie (made with love by his Aunt Miranda and shipped cross country for the dance!).

The dance was first thing in the morning and I had signed up to bring balloons and decorate the cafeteria. As I was separating out the balloons into groups of three to hand to a group of girls to distribute, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about my own dance as I over heard their nervous giggling and chatter.

“Oh my gosh, Hannah,aren’t you so nervous? I am so nervous for this dance!” “Your hair is so pretty! I totally love your shoes” “I can’t stop shaking my hands! I can’t wait to dance…do you think the boys will like it?”

Oh, dear sweet darling 11 & 12 year old girls. This is only the beginning! You have years of suffering and angst ridden dances ahead of you. 🙂

The kids all had dance cards they were required to fill up prior to the big shindig and Caden had the first dance set with Sydney, one of his long time girl friends (not to be confused with girlfriend) who lives just up the street from us. She is darling. And I just have to say that I hope they get married someday.

As these two got ready to kick off the dance party, Caden says, “Watch us move, Mom – we are the BEST at swing dancing!” To which Sydney replies, “Oh, yeah. We are smooth like butta!” I kept my laughter inside my head and just offered encouragement. “Okay you two, show me what you got!” The music started and away they went, laughing and having a good time.

That’s how it went for the next hour, Caden moving on to his next dance partner and me trying to get every shot possible and soak in the moment so it’s never lost from my memory. I was really proud of the fact that every time he faced a girl (waltz and swing), he talked to her and asked her questions instead of just looking around and not saying anything like most of his friends. And after each dance was done, he thanked the girl for the dance and went in search of his next dance partner.

The parents lined the walls of the cafeteria with all sorts of devices in their hands – cell phones, camcorders, Flip cams, iPads – no one wanted to miss a single moment.

Several of the moms and I would chat and say, “Can you believe they are this old? Weren’t they just in kindergarten? They look so grown up!” Every parent had a smile on their face watching their kids have fun and interacting on a more adult level than they ever have before.

Dance partners

By the way, his dance partner Isabelle? She and Caden will be playing opposite each other in the sixth grade Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet; he’s Romeo, she’s Juliet (and guess who was super excited about that?). All of his dance partners were so cute and it was hard not to remember them from kindergarten. Marijke was his kindergarten and first grade “girlfriend” (which meant calling a girl your friend and “claiming” her at that age) and Becca has been in every class since he was in kindergarten. Darling, darling girls, all of them!

I think many of us parents were quite sad when the teachers announced, “This is the last dance! Everybody get ready!” It was the classic group dance, the bunny hop, and it wound around and around the cafeteria. Once it was done, all the parents clapped and the kids cheered and confetti fell from the ceiling and the mayor presented a key to the cit …oh wait, not that. It just felt like confetti was falling down on this happy little bunch. 🙂

The boys couldn’t wait to change out of their clothes but most of the girls kept on their dresses and skirts for the day (which made it really hard when I hosted a game section in his class later that afternoon and I had the kids do “Junk in the Trunk” from the Minute-to-Win-It game).

The class party was fun and sugar filled and later that night, Caden and his basketball team wiped out another opponent 45-25 (with Caden scoring 28 points). He was so excited because he was six for six on his free throw shooting. We ended the night at Robintino’s – pizza, sarsaparilla, lasagna, and salad with a Mrs. Backers cookie for dessert. Seriously, it was one of those “best days ever” and I am so glad I got to be there to experience it all with him.

Enjoy a few of Caden’s “moves”! {video coming soon}

Miss this face

Found this picture today. Could not stop looking at that cute smile tinged with hot chocolate. Love the still youthful “roundness” in his six-year-old face.

Awwww…

Such innocence.

Of course, look how the expression changed a day later (this was all at his Aunt Miranda’s wedding festivities).

Just a tad bit more confidence in that expression. Still makes my heart melt.

Dang kids. They grow up too fast.

The Girls of Summer, Part II

I don’t mean to go weeks between posting…but lately I have been. I would like to say that the reason for this lack of consistency is due to the fact that I “have a life” (an excuse I’ve heard from people who say they don’t read blogs). Nah, I just forget. And I get distracted. Otherwise this blog would be overflowing with daily posts and I might just prevent you from “having a life”. 😛

Back to the summer getaway (now months removed) with the sisters…

After Caden wrapped up his football camp, Natalie, Katie, and I packed him in the car and headed south to Disneyland. It felt like deja vu for me as Caden and I had just been here a mere 7 months prior during our Great Road Trip 2010. I hadn’t planned on coming back so soon but when the opportunity presented itself, how could I say no to laughing/whirling/cheering/oohing-ahhhing/eating/walking with my sisters?

We had one rule with Caden: NO WHINING. Guess how fast that rule was broken…

Happiest Kid on Earth

One thing I knew I had to introduce my sisters to was the fine dining at The Blue Bayou over by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. About five years ago, I decided to try it out as I’d always seen the restaurant, heard it had great food, so I made a reservation (absolute MUST before you go!) a couple of weeks ahead and have been a fan of their Monte Cristo ever since. Seriously, this place just feels magical the ambiance of the “fireflies”, lantern lights, and great food pretty much justify the cost. But go at lunch – because dinner ain’t cheap.

My favorite ride at Disneyland? The Haunted Mansion. My favorite ride at California Adventure? Soarin’ Over California…where you can buy cool caps like this one:

It was actually walking over to Soarin’ Over California that Katie all of the sudden started freaking out, “There’s something in my hair! There’s something in my hair!”

Natalie: “Well, stop swatting your head and let me take a look!”

On closer inspection, well, we actually didn’t need closer inspection because it was pretty obvious what was in her hair:

Me: “Awww, what a pretty colored beetle…”

Caden: “Oh cool! Can I have it?”

Katie: “Get it out! Get it out! Get it OUT!”

It made for a nice diversion as folks passing by probably thought we were putting on a little show. Caden couldn’t stop giggling at Katie’s slight hysterics.

That night we enjoyed the boardwalk lights and got ready to enjoy World of Color (just as amazing as the first time I saw it last November) in a prime viewing spot thanks to tickets we had from a special meal deal you can order online ahead of time.

The absolute BEST experience came on the Tower of Terror ride. Neither Katie or Natalie had been on it and Caden was doing his best to make them nervous before the ride.

Caden: “This is such a scary ride, you seriously will feel your heart in your throat. And you might throw up.”

Katie: “What? You mean I could throw up on this ride?”

Natalie: “Whatever, I’m game. You can’t scare me, buddy!”

Katie: “Yeah, I bet you’ll be more scared on it than us.”

Caden: “No I won’t! I bet you I won’t scream at all. And they take your picture so you can see.”

(in the background you can hear the screams of all the riders, some enough to make me get a tad nervous)

Katie: “All right, Caden, if you can keep a totally straight face when the picture is taken – and you HAVE to look like it’s the most boring ride EVER – Natalie and I will pay you $10.”

Natalie: “What!? Ten bucks! What are you roping me into this for?”

Katie: “Come on, there is no way Caden is not going to scream like a little girl.”

Caden (smiling at the thought of more $$ to burn in his pocket): “Okay, you got it. Ten bucks that I won’t look scared or smile or anything!”

We get in the line and wind through the creepy hotel into a small space where they tell you a spooky story about what happened at the hotel – it’s all very Twilight Zone-esque – and then you head up to the area where you will board the “elevator”.

I admit, this ride can definitely make me nervous. But it’s such an adrenaline rush that I always scream my head off and have a great time anyway.

As we board the ride, Katie is definitely looking nervous but she leans over to Caden and whispers loudly, “Ten bucks!” All I have to say is don’t ever bet my kid anything because if you promise him money, this is what will happen:

Guess who collected $10?

And guess who laughed and laughed and laughed at Katie’s, um, reaction? Yeah…it was awesome.

The next day we spent mostly at Disneyland, partying hard from the moment it opened until 1 a.m. in the morning. Knowing that we all were going home the next day (Natalie and Katie left early…Caden and I had a night flight), we just couldn’t seem to want to leave and go back to the hotel. We wanted to stay and play forever.

We left the park at 1 a.m., walked  over to Denny’s and had a nice late night/early-early-early morning breakfast, and then walked back to hotel and slept for about two hours before I had to go drop Natalie and Katie off at LAX. Thankfully, I had arranged a late checkout so I could come back and sleep in until about 11:30 a.m.

But before we had to head to the airport, Caden and I just had to hit the beach one more time.

Sigh…can’t wait until next summer!

The Boy Loves His Football

If you ask Caden what his favorite sport is, you’ll only have to wait a nanosecond until he replies “football”. If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll quickly respond “NFL player”. He can recite to you the stats and performance of his favorite player, LaDanian Tomlinson (who used to play for his favorite team, the San Diego Chargers). He sleeps with a football…on football player sheets…under a football blanket.

It was because of his love of football that I decided to send him to a camp in California I had read about, the QBR Camp. It’s specifically for quarterbacks and receivers so it’s a non-contact camp. For three and a half days, Caden practiced routes and ball security and had a blast hanging out with a bunch of boys.

He was the youngest person at camp but he made an impression. The kid hates to let a ball drop. He will dive and make all kinds of spectacular plays to not let that football hit the ground.

The last day of camp, Natalie, Katie, and I went and watched their three hour practice as it was kind of a “let’s show ’em what we’ve learned” day. Every time I saw Caden run a route and catch a ball, I heard one of the coaches yell, “Way to go, Utah!” Later Caden explained to me that every kid got a nickname in his group and his was “Utah” because he wore a University of Utah football camp shirt the first day of camp. There was also Big Boy, Clifford (always wore red), Jonesy, Scoot, and Lil J. Lil J and Caden were the same age and the only two 6th graders in the receiver group. They roomed together and Caden told me they were best buddies.

Overall, Caden had so much fun that I think I will send him again next year. Plus, it gives me a great excuse to organize an annual Girls Trip!

The Girls of Summer, Part I

Way back in July, many moons ago, all my sisters and I (excluding Allison who was still Hermana Brewster at the time in Panama) headed down South to Cali to enjoy a much needed break. It all got started when I signed Caden up for a football camp in Thousand Oaks. I thought I would just head on down with him, hang out at the beach or go shopping while he did his camp for three days. But then Katie mentioned she had a plane voucher that was set to expire in October and what could she possibly do with it?

Come with me of course!

However, we needed to bring Natalie along because if two sisters were going to Cali, we sure as all heck couldn’t leave another behind. And thankfully, Katie had another voucher meant for Sammy that was transferable! So in the matter of four days we had all the details put together, flights booked, and we were planning on having some awesome girl time without kids. Well, technically Caden was going to be in CA but he would be at camp most of the time…although when we flew in at night we did a quick turn at the Queen Mary in Long Beach (so many Tobias jokes from Arrested Development can be inserted here).

The first morning before I could drop Caden off at camp, I really wanted to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library as it was only 10 minutes away from Cal Lutheran University. Maybe it’s because he was the first president I remember and the only one I’ve ever met in person (in Jackson Hole…coming out of Haagen Daaz – so awesome!), but I have always held a fondness for dear old Ronnie.  Something about his cowboy spirit is endearingly intriguing to me.

One of the coolest things about the library right now is that it houses the actual Air Force One jet he used for most of his presidency. WOW. Totally amazing to walk through! You weren’t allowed to take pictures when going through it but I was a bit surprised by the width of the plane. Probably because all the movies make Air Force One look ginormous.

Piece of the Berlin Wall

Once we dropped Caden off at camp (the awesome QBR Camp – I will totally be sending him there next summer), Katie and I decided to drive down the coast and we ended up at the Santa Monica Pier just before twilight. We walked up and down the pier, along the beach, and had a delicious dinner at Cha Cha Chicken – coconut fried chicken!

The Santa Monica Pier is also the end of the famous Route 66.  I learn something new every day…

The next day, Katie and I picked up Natalie at LAX and headed straight to Universal Studios. We rode pretty much everything (except for me – I chickened out totally on the Mummy ride…and the Simpsons ride looked claustrophobic). After a fun filled day, I told the girls we needed to hit Trader Joes and Pinkberry (two stores that are desperately needed in Utah) which happened to be just around the corner in Universal City.

As we were sitting in Pinkberry, enjoying our delicious frozen yogurt, a group of people sat at the table right behind us and Katie’s eyes got wide.

“Angie, guess who is sitting right behind you?!?” she whispered forcefully. I shrugged, shook my head, and asked, “Who?”

“It’s Jennifer Love Hewitt!”

Natalie glanced over quickly, trying to stealthily view her face but couldn’t see it. So, she decided to walk outside and LOOK IN THE FRONT WINDOW to see her face. I almost busted up laughing because I thought it was so hilarious. Within a few seconds she came back in with a smile on her face, nodding her head, and then whispered to me, “Yep, it’s totally her!”

Pretty soon we started rolling with Jennifer Love Hewitt jokes like how we would approach her. “Um, I totally loved you in…movies.” Couldn’t really think of a good one. 🙂

But we had our celebrity sighting! Check off that box on our “To Do” list. We tried to get a picture as we left but I felt like a total stalker as Natalie and Katie kept asking me to drive by the front window over and over so they could try and get a shot with their phones. After about the fourth attempt I told them, “We’re done! I feel creepy so that’s it, we’re outta here.” I think Natalie got a shot…of my nose covering J-Lo-Hewitt’s face. We giggled all the way back to the hotel. 🙂

Overlooking Universal City

 

Enjoying super long Twizzlers at the Water World show!

The sisters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing Summer

I may have a few posts to catch up on…like some that I should have posted in July…and August…and September. I am waaaay behind in keeping this updated! But I need the outlet so I should keep much better track of my goings and comings on this site (I should…but I don’t).  Don’t be alarmed or wonder where all these late posts are coming from. Just know that I am getting my schtuff together and clearing out the SD card in my camera!

First up: Caden’s 11th birthday.

(don’t you love that hamburger cupcake cake? easy to split up into pieces – and very tasty)

Do you know where the most awesome place to go and celebrate a birthday is in the Salt Lake Valley? Cowabunga Bay. Like, totally, duuude. It’s a waterpark that’s only been open for a couple of years and it’s already become one of my favorites. Why? Clean, not too big, clean, decent food, clean, great birthday party rates, clean, and cabanas. Oh, and it’s clean.

This is the second year in a row that Caden chose Cowabunga Bay as the place for his friend birthday party and I was all too excited to go back. First because the price is great on birthday parties, and second because I get to enjoy a cabana at a greatly discounted rate with a birthday party booking.

If you have never experienced the joy of relaxing in your own private oasis, where a server comes and meets your needs at every beck and call, then you are not living! I get one time a year to enjoy this private pampering and it is TOTALLY WORTH IT. The boys go off and play and it’s easy to spot them, and I sit on a chaise reading a fabulous book or float around the Lazy River a gazillion times because the water is PERFECT. Love, love, love this place.

This year everyone was in town (minus Ben & Hilary) as Allison was returning home from her mission the same night as Caden’s party. So yay! More cousins to come and enjoy this festive place! And we just so happened to run into another cousin of mine, Merrilee, and her cute daughter Victoria. This little birthday party became quite the family affair.

Summer weather is gone now, but the many memories of Cowabunga Bay remain. Can’t wait until next season!

Taylor - the cutest, messiest face there

Cousin kidlins loving the Cowabunga Beach!

Da party boyz

Little Scout

Last night, Caden received his Webelos badge and his Arrow of Light award in Cub Scouts. For any parent that has had a son in scouting, you know the time and effort it takes to achieve these awards. For me, it has meant a summer full of “what do you have left to do?” reminders to get Caden focused on completing his Webelos and Arrow of Light requirements. And we did a lot of work. A LOT.

I can see why mothers are rewarded with a special pin as part of the award ceremony…because any chance a child has to draw blood from a parent… As Caden was putting on my two pins (one for Webelos, one for AofL), I had to remind him, “You better not stab me…or else somebody’s walking home from the church.”

 

It’s hard not to just beam with pride when your child accomplishes something great, something that challenges them beyond their normal comfort zone. In this world of cell phones, iPads, Wii’s, and all other forms of electronic entertainment, scouting provides a bit of solid structure and real life applicable skills. I’m grateful he has great leaders who invest so much time in the boys to help them develop positive character traits at this young age. Well, “young” is a relative term for Caden these days; he prefers to be called “pre-teen” (since he’s eleven now). I told him “pre-teen” is just another term for “pre-brain damage” so he shouldn’t really be excited to use it.

Ah, this kid. What would I do without him?

One side note: his leader shared an analogy of a squash and the seeds it contains and how much good someone like Caden could accomplish in their lifetime. She held up the squash and asked, “Could you count all the seeds in this vegetable?” Caden nodded and then she held up a single seed. “Now, could you count all of the vegetables or fruit that could come from this single seed?” Caden shook his head. “That’s just like you. You have the ability of this seed to do so much good in the world that we wouldn’t be able to count it or predict it. Scouting helps you plant yourself in the right way so you can grow yourself just as you would this little seed.” I thought it was a very cute analogy and a nice lead in to his Arrow of Light presentation. 🙂