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Showing posts from May, 2010

Neighborhood Picnic & Barn Dance

Last night was our 10th Annual Neighborhood Picnic and Barn Dance! I cannot believe we have been here for ten summers! Time flies! We had a great turn out for our picnic. . . probably about 125 neighbors from Bayfield and Durango showed up. It was great! And then after most of them left, we headed to our big old barn for our dance. The fire was burning in the fire pit and the barn was dressed up with rope lights. It was great!

My kids had a blast! Hays is proud to claim that he danced with 14 different girls (including his mother)! He was the cutest! Maggie got in a couple of dances before she headed back to Tulsa with BeBe and PaPa. I finally even got Dax to dance with me about half way through the night!

A Very Merry UN-Birthday!

Yesterday we headed up to Andrew's Lake for our annual family picture and staff picture. I cannot believe that this is the 10th year! Crazy!

We celebrated Tiki's UN-birthday yesterday, too. Why his UN-birthday? Right now his birthday on his birth certificate is June 1, 2003. The nuns made up this birthday when he arrived to the orphanage, so it isn't actually his birthday in the first place. But, since he is being held back in Kindergarten again, I just feel like it would be best if we made him younger before he gets older. So, in changing his birthday (to February 3, 2004), we actually "missed" his birthday this year, so I thought yesterday at Andrew's Lake with the staff would be a fun time to do it. (And, we aren't sure if the judge in Missouri will approve the birthday change, so right now, every day is his UN-birthday.) So, Tiki, a VERY MERRY UNBIRTHDAY TO YOU!

Andy's parents and his aunt and uncle are in town for the weekend also. We ha…

Last Day Of School

Thursday (I know, I'm a little behind) was the kids' last day of school. I am so thankful that they are finished so that I can stop being 1/2 at camp and 1/2 at "life."

Hays ended fifth grade (and elementary school) on a big high. I am so proud of him this year. He left home and friends and everything he was used to and came to Durango and jumped in physically and emotionally. He made some good friends this year and a very special best friend in Kenna. I heard (via an unnamed source) that he bawled his eyes out. . .he told Kenna that he had the best year and that this had been the best school. He was just so sad that this great year was over (I wonder if some of the tears were pre-middle school nerves?). But, it made this momma so happy to know that the move didn't ruin her boys' life.

Maggie ended in typical Maggie fashion. . .no tears and no emotional drama! She headed to a friends' house to spend the night. She did great this year, too. She d…

Three Days In A Nutshell

Tiki learned how to ride his bike yesterday! That is big news (and I have NO pictures of it). He was SO proud of himself. . .he found each person in the family (and each manny) to show them. It was so cute.

Yesterday I sent cupcakes to school with Maggie and Tiki. . .for their "summer" birthdays. (Note, that Tiki's birthday may not be in the summer next year. . .). They were both so excited--Tiki for sure was the most excited! Everyone was hugging him and saying "Happy Birthday, Tiki!" He's a rock star at school and he loves it! I loved seeing him beaming when I picked him up. He has looked forward to being the birthday boy for months and yesterday was his day. SO CUTE!

This morning at breakfast I took all five kids to McDonald's. We are out of food in the house because we will be moving out to camp completely tomorrow afternoon. So, we're all sitting there and Gabby and Tiki start arguing about how to say "donkey." Tiki (in his…

My New Mannies

Well, many of you have been asking how my new babysitters are gong this summer. . .I have two guys and they are wonderful! Dalton and Chase. The kids are so happy and both "mannies" are so eager to please me and they are so amazing with the kids! It has been fun to watch them from afar. I am so excited about this summer and how much fun my kids are going to have!

Chase & Tiki

Dax & Dalton

Dax & Jake. . .each summer we think "this will be his last" but he is still hanging on. He, like the kids, is so happy to be at camp. . .all these people brought here just to rub his belly! :)

Hays, Maggie and Tiki have one more week of school before we move out to camp full time. They hate it that we have to leave camp and all of the great people and go to school. I must admit that I, too, will be excited to be finished with school for the year so that we can be out at camp 100% mind, body and soul!


I think Tiki's best friend in the orphanage was Joseph. Tiki mentioned Joseph several days ago in passing and we all kind of let it go, but on Thursday he chatted about Joseph the whole car ride from camp to our house. He says that Joseph was his best friend in Africa and that he was nine. That is pretty much all we got as far as details, but Tiki's face totally lit up when he was talking about him. Hopefully someday we can get a picture of Joseph. . .I would like to have one just for Tiki's file. I have so little (okay, nothing) about his childhood before becoming a Braner and I would love to at least have a picture of his best friend.

Cello & Choir Concert

Last night was Hays's concert. . .cello and choir. It was fun to hear the improvement since the last concert. Hays did a super job and I am so proud of him!!!

Happy Anniversary!

This is my favorite picture. My dad built that chapel for my wedding (maybe a little bit so we wouldn't elope in Switzerland. . . ?). I felt so happy and loved and beautiful that day. The fun thing now is that whenever Gabby sees these pictures she says, "Mommy princess!"

My cake. . .my favorite part. You can't see it very well in this picture, but I loved my cake!

My family. I can't believe how young the men in my family look in this picture! And you can't see my mom very well in this picture, but she looked AMAZING at my wedding! I think she was the prettiest person in the chapel!

Andy's family including his Grandma Audrey.

My bridesmaids! Such fun girls and neat friends! Thanks for standing by me that day, girls! I love you all!

My dad and my "British Dad," Lyndon, married Andy and I.

I love this picture of my dad and me. I love him so much and I know that a wedding is a hard time for the father of a Daddy's Girl. Even though he love…

13 Years Ago Today. . .

Andy graduated from Baylor then hopped on an airplane with his family and my bridesmaids and headed to Branson for our rehearsal dinner. (I, too, graduated from Baylor thirteen years ago today, but I didn't make my graduation. . .I was too busy cutting all of the thorns off of hundreds of white roses!)

I remember thinking that I couldn't believe that I was actually at my own wedding rehearsal and that I was actually marrying that guy. I felt so lucky at that moment. I do remember that!

I don't remember what was said to make my mouth so huge, but I have a feeling it had to do with the "you may kiss the bride" part of the ceremony. I was so mortified at the thought of my dad being the one to say that and I'm sure one of my bridesmaids caught on to that and said something funny. . .that is my huge I'm so nervous that I'm laughing mouth (huge, I know)!

My Uncle Bob, Lyndon Bowring and my Dad and I at the rehearsal dinner. Lyndon is my "British Fath…

17 Years. . .

Our 13th Anniversary is just around the corner, so I made a little slideshow of the past 17 years of our friendship. I cannot believe that I have known Andy for almost 17 years. It is amazing the way God puts people into your lives at such important times.

1993: We met and immediately became best friends
1994: We fell in love, but the timing wasn't right
1995: I ran to Switzerland to get away...& Andy told me that he loved me
1996: We got engaged
1997: We got married
1998: Hays was born
1999: Carolin lived with us (our wonderful German exchange student)
2000: Nothing happened when the New Year finally turned
2001: Maggie was born
2002: "Drought, plague, fire & mud" at KCO
2003: Very sad ectopic pregnancy...but somewhere in Rwanda Tiki was born
2004: Dax was born
2005: We started the adoption process (China)
2006: Our paperwork made it to China
2007: Gabby joined the Braner family
2008: Decided to send our paperwork to Rwanda for an older boy
2009: We moved to Colorado & T…

Little Top In Cambodia

The little guy sitting here with Andy (in Cambodia in 1994) is Top. I was flipping through years of scrapbooks and I found this picture and I couldn't help but think of how much Top changed our lives and the lives of so many others. One little street child in Cambodia changed the course of our lives in more ways than I'll ever know.

For starters, Top helped Andy and I fall in love. We were in Cambodia together in 1994 and the crazy combination of Andy and I playing with orphans and street children mixed with this terribly horrible stomach virus we both got somehow turned both of our hearts from friends to somewhere-down-the-line-there-is-a-future-for-us. I was pretty much already to that point, but the trip and the events of that trip made Andy realize that he loved me and he wanted to marry me. Nothing came of those feelings for ten months, but they rooted themselves in our time in Cambodia. Thank you, Top.

Then, I think Top ultimately played a huge role in our adoption…

Hot Springs

Mother's Day ended a little better than it started. Andy took us to the hot springs and we had a really great time. The weather was perfect and the kids were great!

Pardner's Birthday

Today is Pardner's birthday. Pardner is my great grandmother and she lived to be 100. I adored her so much! I am so fortunate that I was blessed enough to have wonderful memories of my Pardner. My most fond memories are from when I was a camper in cabin one at K1. Pardner would water the flowers at camp each morning before the camp woke up and I would wait for her in my bunk with my nose pressed against the screen window. I loved being able to see her each morning in our "secret" special way while everyone was sleeping. Pardner had so much life and lived and loved so big! So, today, I think of you, Pardner. I loved you. Thanks for teaching me how to love others so outwardly and selflessly.