Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Birthday Tribute to My Dear Wife, Maura

Happy 28th Birthday, Maura….

Exactly 10 years ago, I took Maura out on a date for her 18th Birthday. We had a nice meal at Oliver Garden, then we drove to the Portland Temple, were we walked around the temple grounds. I gave her a beautiful gold bracelet and we had a long talk. 

Each year her birthday rolls around, I think of that particular birthday/date, one because it was the first we spent together, and second It is on that night that I fell in love with Maura Dunn.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Maura, I highly recommend you do. I’ve never met a more genuine, caring soul. She is not carnal in anyway and holds no grudges against others. She has absolutely changed my life and eternal existence. 

As a goofy and loud teen, she didn’t like me at first. I was a little eccentric, but she saw my potential. When junior year rolled around and I began to mature, she and I became friends. We enjoyed spending time together. We especially enjoyed long walks and talks. Though very shy at the time, she always had positive things to say. She let me do all of the talking mostly, which neither of us minded. :)

 Our love blossomed from there, and I cherish all of the wonderful memories and long talks we have had since then.

Maura has a deeply rooted testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are few people in the world that you can look at and say, that person will dwell in God’s presence one day. Though only 28, in my eyes, she is a women destined for heaven’s gate. She may be petite and soft spoken, but there is not a more faithful and valiant saint than my dear wife, Maura. 

Maura has an ability to look at others and see their greatness and potential. She took a huge chance on me, and has taught me to see my potential.  I can’t express enough how much I appreciate her for her faith me, especially at times when I lost faith in myself. 

Everyone knows that Maura is musical. It is a subject that gets her talking. Her eyes light up as she talks about a favorite concert or a favorite song. She comes out of her shell on stage where she unleashes a beautiful high soprano voice that stuns the crowd. She is very modest about her amazing musical talents, but she truly has a voice that would cause the angels in heaven to pause and listen. 

Maura has a deeply spiritual connection with music. She loves teaching the children music. In addition to the 14 private music students and 2 group music classes she teaches weekly, she is also the children’s chorister at church. She is in her “happy place” with that responsibility. 

As I said before, Maura is not carnal in anyway whatsoever. Maura grew up in a home of thriftiness and careful spending. I thank Maura’s mother for instilling in her that desire to scrimp and save for a rainy day. In our short time of marriage, we have experienced many rainy days. Recently it has felt like a monsoon, since I have changed careers. 

If everyone in this world could have a mother of choice, I would recommend Maura. Her children love her. There is no denying that. They trust her, because she would never do anything to harm them. I hope one day, when our children are grown and out of the house, they will hold great appreciation for the wonderful mother they had. I have those tender feelings for my mother. 

Having spent 10 birthdays with my Maura, I have only just begun to discover the heavenly child that she is. When I need someone Christ-like to follow, I look to Maura, because she is always looking to Christ. 

Happy Birthday, Maura. 



Sunday, June 30, 2013

May and June 2013

Wow! What a crazy few months May and June have been! Just for family journaling purposes, I'll outline the months here...

May 3:  5 Year Wedding Anniversary
  • Weekend getaway to Bend, OR. First time we've gotten away for a night since having kids! It was very fun! We experienced the downtown scene with an Art Walk, street music, and a delicious dinner! On day 2 we did a couple of hikes; one gaining elevation above ground, and the other going down under the earth in a lava tube cave! We took two different routes driving on the way there and back. Both drives were gorgeous! :)

May 9: 10 Year Anniversary of our first date!
  • Can't believe its been 10 years! You can read a version of "our story" on this blog post.
  • We can't wait to see what the next 10 years brings! :)
  • Also took the girls for Dr. appts this day. Got a great new Dr. here in Vancouver who will be wonderful to help us with the next steps for Alice.
May 12: Mother's Day
  • So nice to be here in the PNW where BOTH of our mothers are!
  • We love the mom's and women in our lives! (Read last year's Mother's Day post here, and Ben's most recent tribute to his mother here.)
  • Had a 'farewell' dinner at Mom and Dad Brewer's house for Aaron and Hoku, who started their big move to Ohio that next week! (We miss you guys so much!)
May 16-21: Trip to Utah/Training for Maura/Alice Turns 2!!
  • Flew to UT with both girls. Girls were pretty good for the most part. It is hard to keep Alice contained/still for ANY amount of time, so considering the circumstances, she did really well!
  • Maura trained to be a Sound Beginnings teacher on Friday, the 17th. She is excited to add this class to her music studio as well as start teaching Let's Play Music in the fall!
  • Alice turned 2 on Saturday, May 18!! We had a fun little picnic/party at the park for her and it was great to see Matt, Melissa and kids, Grandma and Grandpa Brewer, Adam and Kylie and crew, and Aaron and Hoku + their girls there!
  • We now have a 2 year old and a 3 year old! Busy, Busy!
  • Visited with family and friends, went to BYU to reminisce and had a wonderful time! (despite the NW rainy weather...really!?...we must have brought it with us)
Our little 2 year old!

May 24: Brewer Music Studio Playing Party
  • My private students played for each other at my house! Had a great time and enjoyed some refreshments afterwards.
May 25-27: Memorial Day Weekend
  • Just took it easy. Went to the park, went on walks and just enjoyed time with our little family! :)
May 31: Merrilee LOVES goats! (Who knew!?)
  • Went to some friend's house for dinner. They own some goats and at first Merrilee was a little nervous, but after checking out the situation, she jumped right in and started feeding, petting, playing with, and hugging the goats! SO CUTE!
  • This coming from a girl who freaks out and cries when she SEES a cat, dog, or most any other animal.
  • Big breakthrough!
Hugging the goat!

June 1-2: Matt and Jeralyn came down to visit!
Strawberry pickin'!
  • Went strawberry picking, played Wii golf, let the cousins play together, and had a nice family dinner together!

Cousins playing together...

June 8-9: Clark College Chorale Concert
  • Maura has been a part of the Clark College Chorale (Community College community choir) since we moved here.
  • Had a fabulous concert of show tunes and Broadway, including Les Miserables! Maura accompanied "You'll Never Walk Alone" on the piano with Janet Reiter (4-hand accompaniment).
June 16: Father's Day!
  • Maura gave a talk in church about inviting the spirit into our homes.
  • We love the Fathers in our lives! (Read Ben's most recent tribute to his Dad, here. )
  • Went to Maura's parent's house for dinner...Yum!
June 18: A BIG change!
  • Ben quit his job in Portland to help run a startup company here in Vancouver!
  • Really Exciting! His dream job! :)
  • Go check out Oakiwear!!
June 24-25: Scout Camp
  • Ben was called to be the deacon's quorum advisor (teach the 12-13 year old boys at our church)in our ward back in April.
  • Ben went to the first 2 days of scout camp to go support the boys in their efforts!
June 28-19: Family Camping!
  • Went camping as a family with some other families to Cougar Campground near Mt. St. Helens.
  • 1st camping trip of the summer! Lots of fun and PERFECT camping weather.
  • Girls were great! (They both had lingering coughs/colds from earlier in the week...they both slept REALLY well, but Ben and I didn't because their snoring/coughing kept us up!
  • Played in the lake, ate yummy food, Ben went fishing, we went to Ape Caves and Trail of Two Forests
  • We were all beat, but it was a great way to kick off the summer! Looking forward to more camping this summer!
Throwing rocks into the lake
Games in the tent
She loves the outdoors! She cried because she didn't want to leave. :)

We've just been loving life around here! :) Looking forward to lots of fun this summer!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Father’s Day Tribute to my Dad

Earlier this month I wrote a tribute to my mother for her birthday. It was a neat experience to take the time to ponder deeply the things I love about my Mom. It was even sweeter to place those thoughts into writing.
It’s only fitting with today being Father’s Day that I write a tribute to my dad, Michael Clark Brewer.

It is difficult to know where to begin. I will start with my earliest childhood memory. I was three years old. It was the Portland Temple dedication in 1989. I remember holding my father’s hand and walking through the temple with him. I probably talked loudly the whole time, and my dad was probably very patient with me. My earliest memory is one of my favorites of my dad. I also remember when my dad baptized me, ordained me, and crying his eyes out when I left to be an LDS missionary. 

The greatest tribute to my dad is this: He taught me to be a man and he taught me to serve.

My dad has been attending early Sunday church meetings since before I was born. He is faithful in EVERY church duty assigned to him. Growing up, whenever there was someone in need, we were there. We moved people, fixed fences and roofs, shoveled driveways and moved some more. “The Brewer Boys” were always there. Were we excited to help? Not all the time. But my dad was. He taught us how to work, serve, and be men of God.

My dad, has had ups and downs all of his life. He has worked extremely hard, even to this day, to support a family. My dad is a man of little words, so I will share some of the things he has shared with me over the years, so you can get to know the greatest man in my life.

He worked at JC Pennys as a manager for many years. He had many difficult bosses, many who didn’t like the fact that he had six boys. My dad told me that there were many hard days where he would leave the sales floor and go back to his office, ready to give up. Completely. Completely give up. These are the words of an almost defeated man. Almost.

My dad said of these difficult days, “I would look at the pictures of my six sons sitting on my desk, and I would then have the strength to continue on one more day.” This continued on for 16 years.
Most fathers would love to come home after a long day and rest. My dad would come home to six boys. Resting was impossible. J He played with us, and must have crashed the moment we went to sleep. When the weekends came, we were helping someone move. Sunday came, and my dad was at the church before I was even awake. Monday came, and my dad was off to the office, before I was up for school. As you can observe, my dad is pretty amazing, but there’s more.

Despite Saturdays full of sports and other activities, my parents were able to slip away and visit the temple. They found great solace there. They would always return refreshed and renewed. This example of temple attendance was very powerful on us boys. We were not financially well off, but my parents always gave a very generous Fast Offering. When one of my brothers was being set apart as a missionary, our bishop made a very spiritual and inspired comment. The bishop said, “he was inspired to tell us that the reason our family was so blessed with righteousness amongst us boys was directly related to my parents giving overly generous Fast Offerings for many years.” I’ve never forgotten that experience.

After a recent blessing for my dad who is having pain in an ailing arm, he made some special comments that I will never forget. He expressed that he has always felt a little less than others around him and that he is not a man of many eloquent words. He described how he often felt like an outsider at the work place because of his beliefs and the fact that he had a large family. Many thought he was crazy for having so many kids.

Let me begin by saying I believe my dad is greater than all those around him. I think he is a man of wisdom and requires only a few words to make his point, while it takes others paragraphs to do the same. I thank my dad for having so many kids. I love my brothers, who all received our eagle scout award (with a double case of “boot in the butt” from our parents) we all served LDS missions and we are almost all married with children. My dad may feel small in this life, but I can’t think of a more giant of a man. I can’t think of any who is loved by God more than my dad. He has given everything, literally everything, to his family. My dad gave up golfing 30 years ago to raise a family. He was pretty good. Now he is relearning the game, from his sons.

My Mom and Dad have earned the right to enjoy the twilight years of their lives. I wish to build them the biggest mansion on the highest hill overlooking Vancouver. Funny though, my Dad would be happy living in the simple home where they raised six boys; the very boys that kept my Dad going one more day, so many years ago.

I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day. I hope to celebrate you for many more years.

Your Son,


Monday, June 3, 2013

Tribute to My Mother

Today my Mom turns 55 years old. 55 years is a long time. My Mom isn't old. In fact 55 is the new 40. :)

 In all seriousness, I wanted to take some time to write a tribute to my mother, Ruth Ann Brewer. As many of you know, my mom was blessed with six boys, no girls. We were a lot for my Mom to handle. I am not sure how she would get through each day with us boys, well, being boys. It's quite a miracle to be more exact. I am not sure how she did a lot of things. My Mom made sure that we had a good hearty meal every night. Family dinner was important to her. She rarely made something we didn't like. She took great pride in having a delicious meal ready for my tired, worn out dad (he is amazing too, but he doesn't get a blog post till Father's Day).

I've heard that angels walk the earth. I believe that statement to be true. I was raised by one.

I was raised by a mother who had endless amounts of patience. It's impossible to keep six boys quiet, so she would play with us, and read to us and lived the old adage "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." We in turn would clean for her and sew with her (good times) and plant her flowers for her. We would also ruin all of those flowers by playing basketball in the front driveway. :)

I was raised by a mother who stood by my dad through thick and thin. Not many marriages have that type of strength now days. They honored each other, and I have no memory of them fighting or quarreling in front of us. I think the love they showed to each other made us boys feel secure in our home.

I was raised by a mother who maintained a spirit of love in our home (though at times we would fight her to the death). My Mom would always prevail. If it wasn't a song my Mom would sing after each quarrel, she was calming telling us to get along, or we would have to wash dishes. :)

I was raised by a mother who introduced me to music. I believe that love of music is what led me to my wife Maura. We now like to make beautiful music together, thanks to the influence of my mother. My Mom loves to sing, and knows more songs than what's in the music dictionary.

I was raised by a mother who carried no pride of her own, but held and holds a great deal of pride for her six boys (now men). These boys all received eagle scouts, all served two-year missions for the LDS church, 5 are now married with nearly 14 grandchildren between them and many more are on the way.

I was raised by a mother who is more like Jesus than anyone I have ever known. She exemplifies the spirit of love, humility, meekness and kindness. She doesn't seek after worldly gain. We grew up under poor worldly circumstances, but I think we were the most spiritually rich people in town, thanks to my righteous mother.

I was raised by a mother, and I am all the better for it.

Happy Birthday, Mom. We hope you have many more to come.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Settling In

Wow. So, its been a LONG time since we updated! We didn't send out Christmas/New Year cards or letters, and a lot has happened in our lives lately...I think its about time to update this thing!

So, We moved again! This time we moved out of Ben's parent's basement into our own space! We were looking to buy a home, but the market here, during this time of year is just pretty much dead. We also were just sick of the whole process. After looking at dozens of homes, making 4 different offers on different homes, and coming up short, we decided to just rent for a while. I think all the road blocks were meant to be, because now we live in the most perfect rental house! Isn't it funny how the Lord answers our prayers in ways not expected? It is way nicer and bigger than any of the homes we were considering buying, and it is in the area we wanted/felt like we needed to be in also (Salmon Creek/Mt. Vista area). We moved in at the beginning of December and we're just now starting to feel "settled in", slowly, but surely.

Anyways, we are so happy to be on our own, not in an apartment complex, not in someone's basement, but our own space. Our house is actually a townhouse, but the only attached wall is the garage wall attaches to the next door neighbor's garage wall, not even noticeable!

As we've been 'settling in', I started teaching again at the beginning of the year! I am teaching private piano and guitar and my private student time slots are already full! I am excited to also start teaching Let's Play Music, and Sound Beginnings in the fall.

Ben has been enjoying his PR job and his bus commute to Portland, where he has time to read, ponder, or watch the crazies on the bus. He's also taken on a few other side PR ventures in his spare time. He's been staying active by joining an indoor soccer team with Aaron and Hoku. Its been fun to see the Brewers totally kick butt on the field! We also have a babysitting arrangement with Aaron and Hoku every other weekend so that we can go out on dates. Its been SO nice to get out together on dates, and also fun to spend time with Aaron and Hoku and their girls before they leave us in a couple months. :(

I'll play a little catch-up, since I've missed posting about some major holidays and some major cuteness going on!

--Halloween activities and fall fun!


--Maura's Birthday, Thanksgiving, Jesse's Wedding in LA, Alice finally starts walking (17.5 months old)!

--Move into new house, Christmas
We went with Ben's parents to get their Christmas tree at an AWESOME tree farm in Washougal. The girls were very good helpers.

 Merrilee was the 'Angel' in the Brewer family Christmas program

--Ben's birthday, Maura starts teaching studio business

Snow on New Year's Eve!

We love Portland!

--Merrilee turns 3, feeling settled in.
Merrilee's 3rd Birthday was really fun. We had both sets of grandparents over and Aaron and Hoku with their girls. Merrilee loved having everyone there! She was so excited about all of her presents too! So excited, in fact, that while opening one of them, she had a pee pee accident! Yes, we are still in the throws of potty training with her. Its been a long, hard battle, but things are getting a lot better now on that front.

--Alice and Merrilee both get big girl beds (they were sleeping in a pack and play and a crib mattress on the floor). They both love playing the piano and singing all the time. Here's a funny video of their rendition of "Happy Birthday to Everyone".

We do miss some things from Utah, but we have felt so incredibly blessed these last few months since we've moved back to the Northwest! We are grateful everyday to be close to family, friends, and the luscious green NW scenery! Hopefully we can get back to keeping this blog updated more often from now on (no promises, though)!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We moved! Finally an updated post.

Well, it has been a whirlwind these last couple months! I finally decided it was time to update this thing! We decided to leave Orem only 2 weeks after we decided we would be moving in mid-August. Those 2 weeks were crammed with packing, procrastinating, more packing, tieing up loose ends on all sorts of things, packing and cleaning. We made some visits and said some goodbyes. We didn't get to visit/say goodbye to everyone we wanted to, but oh well...these days, is there ever really a goodbye with how connected we can stay with technology? One of the hardest goodbyes was Grandma and Grandpa Brewer. They became our best pals and our favorite people to visit while we were in Utah! We already miss them dearly.

We packed up everything into our Budget truck with the help of the Elder's Quorum from church (Thank You!). It was really strange seeing our little basement apartment all bare, and realizing how much STUFF we had accumulated! When we moved in, we had been married just over a year and didn't have very much. By the time we left, our family had doubled and so did our stuff! We had some really great memories there, but now its time to make some new memories in a new place!

Ben's Dad came down to Utah and drove the truck up to WA while Ben and I drove with the girls in our ONLY car. We sold Ben's commuter car before we left, so now we are down to a one car family. (Thank you Dad B! It was so nice of him to do that for us!) So far it has worked out really well! :)   In fact, Ben's parents are so extremely generous that they are letting us live with them until we can get into a house! We are hoping to be able to buy a house in the next few months.
Cost of living and housing/rent are so much higher here than in Utah! It is crazy that it is cheaper for us to buy a house than it would be to rent a decent place! We've been going through the process of getting pre-approved, taking homebuyer's education courses (really helpful!), and looking for homes! We actually put an offer in on a house a couple weeks ago, but got outbid by a cash investor! Grr! Those cash investors are smart investors, but sure are frustrating when families like us are trying to buy homes! It is way more of a seller's market up here in the NW than it was in Utah. Oh well, something will open up for us soon, I'm sure! (We are trying to put a bid on a foreclosure house as I type this!)
Ben is loving his new job and is glad he made the decision to go with this job rather than the Utah job he was offered around the same time. Since we are down to one car, he's been taking the commuter bus from Vancouver down into Portland. Its been working out nicely for him because he doesn't have to stress over driving in traffic, and he gets some time on the bus to read or do whatever.
The girls have been keeping me busy and it has been nice to be close to both sets of parents and spend time with family. I'm antsy to get into our own place so I can start "home-making". These 'crafty and cozy' seasons are just killing me thinking about all the cute stuff I could be doing/decorating if I had my own space to do it!  Once we get settled into a place, I also look forward to setting up my music studio again and getting some private students and some students for Let's Play Music classes. In the mean time, I've started singing with the clark college chorale to keep singing and music a part of my life.
Ben and I have callings in the ward, even though we are temporary. I am a primary worker teaching the 6-7 year olds. My class is 7 boys and 1 sweet little girl. Its been fun. Ben is the 14-15 year old sunday school teacher. It has been interesting trying to trade off and juggle Alice around during church while we are trying to do our callings. She turns 18 months mid-November, and will (age wise) be old enough to go to nursery, but she is still not walking, so we are working hard to get her walking before nursery age! (She's making some great progress on the walking though! She'll probably be running around in circles in the next week or two!)
Here are some fun pictures of the girls since we've moved...they are best friends! So cute. There are a bunch more that we want to share, but they are on Ben's phone, so those pics will just have to wait until we update again. Enjoy! :)