Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Things 2012 Edition


How was your Christmas?  Did you survive?  We had a great time that I'll recap later but man, we had a lot going on!  Lots of family, friends, Jesus, presents, and celebration!  And we continued the tradition of our family getting sick over the holidays too, all of us this year!  So not cool.

Since we've all been sick, I've been able to catch up on our DVR while folding laundry, disinfecting everything, and "resting" while listening to my child cough a lung up.  I can't express how happy I am that Oprah did a Favorite Things this year, and for military spouses, tears the entire episode!  So, of course, I'm continuing my tradition of My Favorite Things!  There are no giveaways but my list is so practical!  Here are my lists from 2010 and 2011, always a good read!

I've listed items in no particular order, I promise!


1.  Leggings:  So cute, versatile, and they go with everything!  I love pairing my leggings with a cute flat or boot with an adorable top!  Love!  Please fashion kings, let leggings stay forever!

2.  Pilate's and Working Out:  Since moving away from our beloved Katy YMCA, I've had to adjust my workout.  Apparently the Y in Katy is one of a kind because there is nothing like that here in Kansas.  Price-wise, class-wise, childcare-wise, children's classes-wise, etc.  How I miss my some Katy Y!  I did find a Pilate's class that I really enjoy, I started doing Jillian Michael's 30 day shred (maybe I should actually do it though?), and I have a Groupon for a Pilate's place close to my house.  I will get back into the swing of things as soon as we're all healthy, I promise!

3.  My Household Binder: Love, love, love it and don't know how I would organize everything without it!  I hate filing and when we were moving, I couldn't carry with me a filing cabinet, but my household binder was there with us through every step!  I have added a new binder for bills and our budget, too many papers and clutter in my original household binder!

4.  Kids Teachers and Schools:  Have loved all of our kids teachers, we have been truly blessed with educators dedicated to teaching, knowing our children, and pushing our children to the highest potential of learning!  Our new school is great and our kids have made the transition from "new kids" with ease!

5.  Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste:  I have sensitive teeth and Crest Pro-Health toothpaste has saved me and my teeth!  I can enjoyably brush my teeth without any pain or discomfort!  Sensodyme is great too but costs a lot more, Crest Pro-Health does the same thing as Sensodyme, which makes me happy!

6.  Wine:  I love wine!  It makes me happy, taste delicious, and such an adventure trying new ones.  I look forward to one or three glass at the end of a crazy.  Thank you wine!

7.  Breaking Bad:  Eric and I are usually a few years behind the coolest things.  I-phone, Eric just got one and I still don't, we joined Facebook a few years after it was cool, got our Wii last year, what is my point?  Yes, Breaking Bad.  Eric's brother Todd told us to watch Breaking Bad and so we did and fell in love with the series!  Holy wowzers!  Such an intense, deep show that Eric and I both enjoy! I truly didn't think I would enjoy the show, but I love it!

8.  Pinterest:  Can I be more obsessed?  Wreaths, dinners, decorating, birthday parties, holiday ideas, I think you get the idea!  LOVE IT!

9.  Hot Glue Gun:  Sort of goes along with number 8!

10.  Blue Valley Rec and Johnson County Parks and Rec:  Both organizations have so many wonderful sports, activities, and events in our community and all for a reasonable price or free!  Gymnastics for Molly, basketball for Jack, soccer for Will (should be adorable), and Touch-a-truck, plus future swim lessons and baseball!

11.  HEB:  I can put HEB on here one last time and if I were ranking things, this would be for sure number 1!  How I love and miss the HEB!
Dear Grocery Stores that are not HEB,  please go the HEB and do exactly what they are doing and change everything in your grocery store just like HEB.

Thank you.

12.  Chapstick:  An essential, everyday in my life.  I have chapstick in my purse, kitchen, car, and in my makeup bag.

13.  Old Episodes of Friends:  Friends makes me so happy and I love every episode!  And guess what I'm watching right now!

14.  Friends:  All of our new friends and old friends, from church, school, neighborhood, playgroups, and all over the country, love you all!

15.  Eric:  I love this guy so much!  He is truly my rock, best friend, and strength.

16.  My Kids:  These three are the best kids, and they are also my rocks.  My life is complete with them and I'm honored to be their mom!

17.  University of Kansas:  We love our Jayhawks, love being close to the KU, and seeing so many other Jayhawks around!  Is was so cute when we first moved here, the kids were so excited to see so many Jayhawks!

18.  Our Church:  We had an amazing church home in Katy, I couldn't imagine a better place!  Now that we have a new home, we are still in search of a new church home.  We are praying to find one that our whole family loves!

19.  Coffee:  The only reason I wake up in the morning, and I'm so serious!  I can get through potty breaks, breakfast, getting everyone ready and out the door because I know I will soon be drinking coffee.  I love me a few cups of coffee, and on a nice day, I may even get to read the paper and enjoy my coffee.  Crazy!  As a special treat, I go to Starbucks and either get a Skinny Vanilla Latte or Caramel Brittle Latte!

20.  A good deal:  This is very vague, but I love me a good deal on a great find.  I got a great pair of black boots for $10, my floor pouf for $30 marked down from $70, I've found adorable shirts at Kohl's for less then $5, saving money on groceries, coupons, anything where I can save money makes me happy!

Thanks for the inspiration Oprah!  What would you put on your list?

Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Many Christmas Blessings!  Joy to the World, Our King is Born!  

Merry Christmas!

Love, The Brew Crew

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We Caved In

There has been a trend that we refused to give into over the past few years...The Elf on the Shelf.  I've seen those pictures on Facebook and Pinterest, read the blogs about the crazies, and just really didn't feel like doing one more "thing" at Christmas.  Plus, I have a hard time with all the lying towards my kids about Santa and felt as though the Elf was just adding to the lies.

And, we got away with not doing The Elf on the Shelf for several calm years!  Whew!

Enter 1st grade and Jack's 1st year teacher.  Jinx the Elf is staying in Jack's classroom until winter break.  She sent home a note introducing Jinx and his role in their classroom.  Jack was excited and told us all about Jinx moving around the classroom all day, can you believe it, he only moved when they were away!  I started getting a knot in my stomach knowing what Jack was going to ask.  And he did.

"Mom, why hasn't an Elf ever visited us?"
"Um, I think you need to write a letter to Santa asking for one."  Here I am, lying to my child.
"Oh, lets write one right now!"  Gets out paper, pen, and starts writing his little heart out.  He even mailed it.

So, I go buy an Elf, not THE PREMIER ELF, but a cute one, a cousin of Jinx, since they don't look exactly alike.  The first day our Elf appeared, he brought with him Christmas plates and bowls, along with a note from Santa.    The note is one I found on Pinterest duh and tells more about why we have Christmas, Jesus' birthday, and being like Jesus through the holidays and all year!  Ding, ding, ding, ding!  Exactly!  We named our Elf Elliot the Elf and I hear the E.T. voice every time we say Elliot and the kids are liking this new adventure.  Not sure if it's really working in behavior areas, but Elliot is not a miracle worker!



The kids thought he was the coolest ever being up there!  Dinner was interesting because they kept wondering if he would jump down!
Hanging out by our sink today and doing some stretches!  Oh Elliot!
Eric promised to help me and has done a great job moving Elliot nightly!  We are not going to have a naughty Elf, that's just too much!  Now, who has any ideas about where to move him next?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Calendar Ideas

The Christmas season is in full swing at our house!  Almost every room has some sort of Christmas decor, which I love and seriously want Christmas to get here NOW because I think I'm more excited then our kids!  I love seeing their excitement and joy with every holiday song, book, card, present, and movie (we're a little addicted to Christmas movies here!).

The one thing I'm lacking on this year is our Advent Calendar.  Last year, I did awesome and had an activity, present, or something special for each day of Advent.  Not so much this year.  I had good intentions but in addition to my excitement for Christmas and the holiday season, life is crazy and doesn't seem to give you a break when extras are added on!  We're still changing the day on our Advent Calendar and we'll do extra fun things, but I'm not doing something everyday, just can't this year!  So, I'm going to share with you what we did last year!

First, our Advent Calendar from my mother-in-law!  I think it's adorable!
Last year I printed off these tags and on the back wrote the fun activity, book, or special treat! The kids loved seeing what their surprise was each day!
Here is a list of what we did or plan on doing in the future!  (I kept my list from last year in hopes of repeating, next year, I promise!)  We really do try to keep the focus on Christ and His birthday, by giving, doing things of service and helping others, but we also mix in Santa!

*Read The Christmas Story
*Bake cookies for our teachers:  Preschool, Kindergarten, and Sunday School
*Dance to Christmas music
*Feed the ducks because animals need special treats too!  May head on over to Deanna Rose for this one, the kids love going there!
*Picnic dinner in front of the tree or fire place (my kids LOVE this one!)
*Make our gingerbread house or trees (love the trees, so easy!)
*Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn (Polar Express, Elf, and Mickey's Christmas Carol are popular favorites, but Jack loves Home Alone!)
*Make cards for our teachers
*Create Snow (the kids loved this but now that we're in a colder climate, we'll just play with snow when it arrives!  Hurry up and snow!)
*Make snowmen with shaving cream
*Eat dessert 1st for dinner
*Candy cane name craft
*Invite a friend over
*Write letters to Santa
*Act out the Christmas story
*Unwrap a present early (this is for Christmas Eve, they open pajamas)
*Make reindeer food~oatmeal and glitter mixed together!
*Bake and decorate cookies
*Drink hot chocolate by the fire place and retell our favorite Christmas memories!
*Look at Christmas lights!
*Pay for a strangers meal, drink, or gas
*I wrapped up our Christmas books and let them randomly pick a book to unwrap and that's the book we'll read at bedtime (they love this!)
*Make Santa Snack Mix (don't do it, it's so good) or Christmas Trail Mix (I maybe ate all of this last year!)
*Make our neighbor gifts, this year I'm leaning towards homemade hot cocoa mix! (Hope our neighbors don't read this and can you tell we like our new neighbors a lot?!)
*Pick out annual Christmas ornaments (Eric grew up with this tradition and I love it!  We take the kids to Hallmark and they pick any ornament (within reason)!  They love seeing their ornaments they collected throughout the years!
*Make ornaments!
*Operation Christmas Child (LOVE THIS!  Fill a shoe box for a child, my kids use their own money to buy things for kids their own ages.)
*Adopt-a-family in need
*Make Nativity pictures, usually with stickers!

Ideas for Houston:
*Fulshear Cowboy Christmas Parade, sad to miss this one!
*River Bend drive-thru Nativity (they do an amazing job!)
*Outdoor movie at La Centerra, one or two Saturday's in December
*Monday's with Mommy with Kindermusik with Kathy and Friends (always will hold a special place in my heart!)
*Second Baptist Christmas puppet show, we didn't go last year because they sold out of tickets but this is an amazing show!
*Winter Wonderland near College Station
*Ice Skating
*Visit Santa at Bass Pro Shop

Ideas for Kansas City:
*Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum, Molly went with Eric's mom last week and she loved it!
*Crown Center and Union Station~both have amazing decorations, trains, Santa, Winter Wonderland, and tons of activities for the kids!  Plus lunch at Fritz's will be a hit by all the kids!
*Christmas lights at the Plaza!
*Drive-thru Longview Lake, one of my favorites!
*Santa at Bass Pro Shop, a tradition we can continue!  Yay!


I'll admit, we haven't done all of these things, but I love all of these ideas and hope to mix it up yearly!

Here are some of the activities from last year!

Making snowmen or snow scenes with shaving cream!

She loved it!

He did too...eventually!

I think he was in shock that I wanted them all to get dirty!

At first he was hesitant, didn't want to show me his smile, and thought this was for "babies"
 One more...fun night!

A little blurry, but hot chocolate and glow sticks by the fire!

 After writing this, I'm more excited for Christmas! Didn't think that was possible but I'll take it!  Here's to a wonderful Advent Season!  What does your family do to celebrate Advent and get ready for Christmas?



Friday, November 30, 2012

A Tree Skirt...That I made!

When I became a grown up, I inherited a few items from my parents to kick start my life...some furniture, dishes, and Christmas items.  Most of the things I inherited are long gone or tucked away high in a kitchen cupboard, except for those Christmas items.  A lot has been added to our Christmas decor over the years, but I still bring out those things I inheritered, most from my childhood,  that I love to display around our house.

Except for the Christmas tree skirt I inherited.  Up until two years ago, I loved it! The tree skirt brought back so many memories and I loved the old fashionness of it!  But, I began getting sick of seeing it and really, the tree skirt was not aging well.  Last year, after another Christmas of thinking how ugly that tree skirt was, I went on a mission to find the perfect replacement on clearance!

FAIL!  Could not find one I liked, so, I figured I would find the perfect one when all the Christmas decorations came out to the stores.  Fail again!

Hello my obsession Pinterest!  I found these inspirations



Courtesy of The Crafted Sparrow!  LOVE THIS!

And they were no sew!  Yes!  I figured I could recover our old skirt!  

So, off to Joann's I went and fell in love with all the fabrics and really want to start up sewing again and picked the perfect fabrics! I picked four fabrics, one yard of each, obviously any fabric and color combos work...the red, white and blue tree skirt had felt and she said that was hard to work with, so I didn't go with the felt.  Then, I gathered my supplies...

The 90's called, they want their tree skirt back!

The flip side, so outdated!

Say hello to my little friend!  WARNING:  A lot of glue sticks will be used! Is it sad I want more glue sticks for Christmas?  
Then I cut my fabric into strips, I just followed my tile table lines, seen above.  Very technical I know.


Very technical!

Cut up until all the fabric is cut, there will be extras and that's OK...I promise!  Then, glue away!  You might have a zillion glue strings on you, but that's OK too!  I just made the fabric into ruffles, I started off having the ruffles super close but a little further apart worked too, and I think looks a lot better!

The first layer!  Love it!

See...a little too close together!  Oh well, I seem  to like to learn things the hard way!

Second layer...this is what happens when you don't "exactly" measure everything the same! Good thing it's multi-layered!


The first two layers done!  Love how it looks!
 About halfway through, nap time was over, the kids were home from school, snacks, homework, and dinner had to be made, so I have no more pictures until the final...and here it is!!!
Yay!  I made it!  The top doesn't really lay flat, but it doesn't matter!

So pretty!

Around the tree!  It looks so pretty but wow, I need some pictures on my wall!

A close up!
Thank you Pinterest, The Crafted Sparrow, and my family for letting me finish and understanding that Buffalo Wild Wings served a better dinner that night!  What have you made for Christmas around the house?

Linking up with A Bowl Full of Lemons



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2012 was a success, especially because I had a stomach bug Tuesday and Wednesday...I managed to make the food, no one got sick, and I didn't get sick at all on Thursday!  Yes!

Eric's parents, sister Katie, brother Todd and grandma Mogo came, along with my parents, brother Matt, grandma Nita, Aunt Kim, Uncle Tom and cousin Chris came too!  Whew!  Big group, but a lot of fun!

Eric smoked a turkey and I cooked one in the oven, and both were delicious!  Eric's mom made her famous and delicious cranberry sauce...let's pause a moment to reflect on the wonderful flavors!  They the rest of the traditional Thanksgiving items, I think next year I might make a corn relish or mix in a new recipe!

Moving on...I only took a few pictures but it really was a fun day!

Dessert...Will and Molly wanted ice cream, why kids, why when there is pumpkin pie?!

Watching football or eyeing the dessert table, you pick!

Will with my only cousin Chris

I move chairs!

And Grandma moves kids!

Eric's brother Todd waiting on his turkey to smoke...he smoked a 22 lb. turkey so he could have his own leftovers!



Will asked for a bowl of cool-whip, how could I say no?
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  What a great way to kick off the Holiday season with great food, family, naps, and leftovers!

Happy Birthday Mogo!

Whew, what a crazy last few weeks but I love the holidays and having parties at our house!  We kicked off the holiday season early by hosting Eric's family for his grandmother's 86th birthday party!  Mogo, as everyone calls her, wanted to celebrate and have a big family dinner, but didn't think her house would hold several adults and children!

So, Eric and I said we would host and we are so happy we did!  Our house was full of great conversation, laughter, and family togetherness, plus we all got to know each other more because a few additions were made since the last gathering!

No family gathering would be complete without beer pong! 

Yay!  Mom finally let us play with the kitchen toys!

Starting them young...did Eric's mom win?!

BBQ, yum!  That's a lot of people in my kitchen!

Thanks Wal-Mart of the cupcake cake!  Adorable!

Singing "Happy Birthday" to Mogo!  Apparently no one wanted to be in the picture, but there were a lot of us, I promise!

Some excited kids!  And a handsome cake holder!  

What a special lady!  
After cake, we played Apples to Apples, such a fun game!  Eric and Jack rocked it!  I did not.  Such a fun night and we are excited for the next family gathering!

Happy Birthday, Mogo!  

Monday, November 19, 2012

So Thankful...


Welcome to one of my favorite weeks of the year!

Only two days of school and a FIVE day weekend!

Thanksgiving on Thursday!  What's not to love?  Turkey, potatoes, cranberries, green bean casserole, and pie!

Reruns of Friends Thanksgiving episodes, only the funniest show ever!

Lots of shopping deals, bargains, and crazy to people to watch on Friday (or Thursday night, whatever floats your boat)!

Christmas decorating!

Lots of time with family!

And can I add that the weather her is BEAUTIFUL!  60 degrees at the end of November, yes please!

I tried my hand at a Thanksgiving mantel this year, and I've seen some beautiful mantels on Pinterest or other blogs, and mine is not Pinterest worthy, but a start!



I found the banner at Target but I think I'll go the burlap route next year..we'll see!




The kids and I made a Thankful Tree and I love it!  We collected sticks from the bike trail by our house, put them in a vase, tied a beautiful satin green bow around the vase and attached "leaves."  The leaves are ones I cut out and the kids told me what they were thankful for and put on the leaves.

Molly is thankful for...

...Birthday parties, her preschools (old and new), making her bed, Princesses, and her alarm clock that lights up!

Will is thankful for...

...fire trucks, sharing a room "with my brother," and Miss Lisa and Gavin from speech!

Jack is thankful for...

...his new school and teacher, all of his friends, and our new house!

We are all thankful for...

....our friends and family, here in Kansas, in Texas and all over the world!

....Ethan, our neighbor across the street (we like the rest of his family too)!

....and celebrating the holidays closer to family now!

What are you thankful for?!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pivot!

On Monday, we sold a chair and couch on Craigslist, yay to new furniture arriving next Tuesday and a huge room for the kids to run around in!  Our basement is open with one Elmo chair to sit on and it's not very comfortable to be quite honest!  Come on Tuesday!

Getting the chair out was super easy, the couch was polar opposite!  We had to take down the railings, all the light fixtures, and the walls were scratched going up...and eventually the couch was stuck in the stairs, so not kidding!  So, Eric and I would go back to the bottom of the stairs, start a new plan, with Eric saying, "this is going to work" and then get stuck again.  At one point, Eric was telling to just move the couch a little, "try turning it."  There was so way to "turn" the couch in the narrow staircase, so I reply sarcastically "you mean pivot?"  "Exactly!  This is going to work!" All I kept thinking was this....
Pretty much sums up our attempt to move the couch together, minus Chandler, I was more the Rachel (of course)!  When the guys came to move to couch they just stared between the couch and the stairs.  About an hour later, the couch was loaded onto their truck and if I truly knew how difficult it was to move the couch out, that couch would still be in our basement!  Not quite sure how our movers moved it down there but they did awesome!  Now, it's time to put the railings and light fixtures back on, speckle and paint and wait for our new couch!  We choose a couch that is a sectional and it will look fabulous in our finished basement!

And remember...PIVOT!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

St. Louis Weekend Fun!

Last weekend, we ventured on over to St. Louis, MO to meet my dear friend Betsy, her fiance Peter, and her son Brighton!  Betsy and I became instant friends when she started at my grade school in 7th grade in Davenport, Iowa.  Sadly, a year later I moved away to Kansas City, but we remained friends all these years!  The last time I saw her, I was pregnant with Molly, and even though we always talked about getting together, life happened...we moved to Texas, her life had a few ups and downs, but now that we live closer to her in Chicago, we decided to meet in St. Louis and finally meet each others kids and Peter (by the way, he was awesome, so happy they're getting married!  And I'll rock being a bridesmaids in their wedding, just like Betsy did in our wedding!  She had just had Brighton, her son, two months before and she looked amazing, so happy she was there with us!  I'll just be awesome, no baby or bump, just awesome, as usual!)

We left Saturday morning and of course had to stop for breakfast at Chick-fil-a, the kids were in heaven!  By the time we made it out of the Kansas City 'burbs, everyone was starving, of course!  Once they had their third meal of the day by 9:30 a.m., thank God for Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered pretzels, goldfish and raisins, our drive was pretty smooth, I even got to take a nap!

We made it to our hotel after eating lunch at McDonald's (healthy eating was NOT on the agenda for the weekend), the kids loved our view of the highway, really they just love Drury Inns!  After we destroyed our room, we drove to the St. Louis Zoo to meet Betsy, Peter and Brighton!

If you ever get a chance to go to St. Louis, it is a wonderful city for families, lots of free activities, museums and the zoo!  Free!  Well...mostly!  We paid to park because all of the free spots were taken and paid for the train ride!  It was a really busy day, but it was also 81 degrees in mid-November!   The best part, and so bummed I didn't get a picture, were the penguins!  Loved all of them and so did the kids!
Jack and Molly at the hippo exhibit, you can kind of see it between them! Those things were huge! Will freaked out when the hippos swam by, I don't blame the kid, from his perspective everything is huge!
Very hard to see, but that's Eric and the kids next to the zoo sign as we were leaving! The parking lot is right next to the highway, hence the huge semi!  Eric has the same picture with his sister and mom from years ago!
After the zoo, we headed back to the Drury Inn and enjoyed their free happy hour!  Hot dogs, nachos, chili, potatoes, and three free drinks, we'll take it!  We watched the Aggie's beat Alabama and enjoyed our yummy dinner!  We then all changed into our swimsuits and went swimming in the indoor freezing pool!  Molly, Will, Betsy, and I hung out in the hot tub while Brighton and Jack switched between the two!  Peter and Eric talked as though they were long lost friends until Eric took Molly and Will upstairs to our room for bedtime!  I stayed in the hot tub with Betsy and Peter and 100 preteens at the hotel for a sleepover, so not ready for Molly to get to that age!  They were so sweet and then so mean, trying to look like adults but so not ready to, yuck and got to know Peter and caught up with Betsy!  So great having a friend all these years like her!  

We finally went back to our room and Jack was asleep in 0.2 seconds, poor guy was so tired!  

The next morning we ate another free meal, breakfast!  Biscuits and gravy, eggs, waffles, doughnuts, yogurt, granola, Lucky Charms, pretty much anything one could dream of and we ate it all!


Waiting in the hotel lobby!  I think they're pretty cute!

We headed down to the Arch, which everyone in our family loved, Betsy's family was a little nervous by the swaying of the Arch on the windy day!  There was also a neat museum to look at too, a very fun experience for kids and grown-ups!
The boys and I outside of the Arch, Molly was jumping on the rocks near us!
Beautiful!
Inside the capsules that take us up and down the Arch!  They LOVED it!
Inside the capsule going up to the top!
All three kids looking outside and down below...they loved seeing how tiny everything looked!
The Mississippi River and Illinois!  Eric has a great picture of St. Louis and Busch field on his phone!
Molly outside the Arch after our journey, she was holding the souvenir bag, two cups for her and Will, Jack decided on a pen!
Betsy and I, wish I could turn the picture the right way!  See you in July for a fun wedding! I'm so happy we finally saw each other after so many years!
After the Arch, we all had to head home, so we said good-bye to our friends, Jack's new best friend is Brighton, the two boys had a great time together!  We stopped in Columbia, MO to say hi to Eric's youngest sister who is going to MU (sad, I know).  She showed us her apartment, how to juggle, and we all hula hooped!  We finally got home and went to bed after a fun filled weekend! 

What a wonderful weekend trip!  We're excited to go back and see more of St. Louis!  Any fun weekend trips you have been on?!