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Showing posts from February, 2011

Another Super Mountain Day

We Love Fresh Pow Pow

Today was a great day at the mountain!  It wasn't beautiful and sunny but the fresh powder was much needed and much appreciated!  My dad flew in last night and we love being with him.  Andy also flew home last night and it was nice to have our family back together again!

One Week From Today. . .

. . .we will be in Orlando. . .where the magic happens!  I just got this great picture of another fun princess I am very excited to meet!  Oh my!  The surprises just keep coming!  I cannot wait to relax on the Disney Dream!  But I am equally as excited to meet Auora or maybe Belle or maybe even Cinderella!  The excitement and the anticipation is killing me!  I feel like a kid headed to Disney for my very first time!

Rats & My French Speaking Son

Yesterday was parent teacher conferences at the elementary school and I was very excited for them! 

I knew Maggie would be doing well--I just wanted to make sure she wasn't being too silly in class.  And thankfully, she is behaving and learning at a great pace.  She has fallen in love with reading and that makes me and her teacher very happy!

I really wanted to talk to Dax's teacher about him getting bullied every day by this girl.  Sounds crazy that a girl is beating my son up, but there is blood or bruises nearly every day.  So, I brought it to the teacher's attention and hopefully it will be taken care of starting today.  Academically, Dax is doing very well and the teacher is doing great things to keep him challenged and interested!

I knew that Tiki's teacher and I would have a lot to talk about.  He is coming a long way academically, but still has a long way to go in order to catch up.  He is pushing boundaries in class with behavior and his teacher and I have bee…

New Header

You'll notice my new header!  What's with the Walt Disney font you are asking?  Well, the days until Disney countdown is so very on!  In ten days Braner Party of 7 will be on an airplane (or two) headed to sunny Florida to meet GoGo and Pops and Brady and Jennafer for a fun week of Disney adventures!  We get to cruise on the brand new Disney Dream for five days and we get to enjoy the parks of Walt Disney World for a few days!  We are hoping to meet a very special princess, too!  We absolutely cannot wait!  We don't know what we're more excited about: the family time or the new boat or the sun or meeting our favorite princess or the rides?  ALL OF IT!!!  Ten days and super counting!

Tweens & Money

Well, today we started a new "thing."  I have found myself head to head with Hays recently about all of the new gear he "needs" for snowboarding and I get so frustrated that I have to say no because of finances and I get frustrated that my no's frustrate him.  So, we came up with a plan and we are going to try it for a year and see if it works.  We are hoping to teach Hays the value of hard work and extra jobs and the value of money and what things are actually important to him in terms of the "extras" he needs and wants in his life.

I sat down and made a chart of what it costs annually to raise Hays. . .everything.  YIKES!  And I showed it to him.  Hays, it costs x amount for you to "live" each year.  Then I "took out" all of the things that we could "cover" as parents such as food and medical and clothing and Rec Center pass and Purgatory pass and stuff.  That left him with a rather large amount that covered the Snowboa…

A++ From Eight Children

Okay, so I must share this recipe with you all immediately.  I just fed eight children ages three to twelve and I got eight A++ on this meal.  I must warn you, when you read the ingredients, you may throw up in your mouth a little bit.  It sounds absolutely horrendous, but eight A++'s do not lie!!!


2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon poppy seed
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 8-ounce package light cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces linguini
1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese

(Can you see already why it sounds like the worst meal ever?)

Saute the turkey with green pepper, salt, and onion in a large skillet on medium heat until the turkey is no longer pink.  Add tomato sauce and set aside.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, except linguini and Parmesan cheese.  Cook linguini according to package.

Preheat oven to 350.

Drain past…

My Little Corner Of The World

The world is a big place and in the huge scheme of the world, I'm nothing but a minute (not even that, I suppose), but as you magnify in to my little part of the world I become more than just a minute.  I am a wife and a mom and a daughter and a granddaughter and a friend.  I mean different things to different people and as you, my readers, know, I'm figuring out what I mean to myself.

So, in this great big world, I have an itsy bitsy space.  In my crazy and chaotic life I have a little corner.  And here is my little corner of the world.  My side of the bed and my night stand.  I'm all ready for spring (even though I am wishing for a couple more feet of snow) and my house shows the spring.

But if you look even closer, it is precious "gifts" like the ones you see that make my little corner of the world so special!  A picture Dax colored me the other evening when he knew something just wasn't clicking right for mommy and my Valentine's Day letter from Andy …

Becoming Girls Who. . .

Maggie is involved in this neat little group (a not-Bible-Bible-study-type-of-a-group) called "Becoming Girls Who. . ."  It is really a neat idea that a lady in Durango wrote.  Each month they study a different positive trait such as compassion, friendship, talent, courage and so on.  I really appreciate Erin, the mom who hosts the group bimonthly for Maggie's friends.  I love it that Maggie gets to spend time with her girlfriends trying to become a better person! 

Last month was about courage and this month was about talent, so last night they put on a talent show.  I was pleasantly surprised!  LOTS of Justin Bieber dances and lip syncs and songs and so on!  Maggie read a Robert Frost poem.  One little girl ended the night with a "Sound of Music" medley and it was AMAZING! 

Below are my pictures. . .they are terrible.  I have this great camera and this amazing lens and I don't have the flash to support my lens indoors.  Someday I'll fix that! 

My favor…

Chicken Packets

Note:  this recipe does NOT work if you make it the day of!  It works so much better if you have only thawed it for a few hours, or if you cook it the day of, make sure the mixture is not hot and runny before you add it to the rolls.  FYI.

2 cups cooked chicken chopped
1 3-ounce package cream cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoons milk
salt to taste
1/2 cup crushed, seasoned crouton crumbs
2 8-ounce packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 stick margarine, melted

Combine chicken, cream cheese, chives, milk and salt.  Put in a ziploc bag and freeze until ready to use.  To prepare for serving, thaw chicken mixtures.  Preheat oven to 350.  Unroll crescent rolls and pinch together the triangle halves to make a rectangle. . .you will have 4 rectangles instead of 8 triangles.  Be sure and pinch the seams together well so nothing can seep out.

Melt butter.

Place chicken mixture into center of rectangle and then roll up making sure to pinch all openings so that nothing comes out.  P…

Hays Snowboarding

One of the team dads took a few pictures of Hays during practice and I wanted to share them!

Chili Verde

8 ounces dry pinto beans (I use 2 cans of don't-have-to-soak-overnight beans)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I double it)
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken broth (I use 4)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
I also add 2 cans of black beans

If you are using the old fashion soaking beans, then soak them over night after you rinse them.  Drain them and put into a crock pot.  Cook the chicken and then cube it and add to crock pot.  Add everything else to the crock pot and enjoy dinner tonight!

It calls to serve the chili served on top of warmed corn tortillas with cheese and salsa on top.  I've never tried it that way.  I just eat it as soup.  Then I have used the left overs for burritos (drained).  It is SO yummy!


I keep getting requests from you all for recipes.  I'll be happy to dish some out; however, please know that "Once A Month Cooking" is the cook book I use and it is great for more reasons than just the recipes!  It has shopping lists and everything and the part that makes cooking for the month a budget-friendly thing to do is the fact that when she asks you to use onions or peppers or whatever, you aren't wasting because while you may only use half an onion for one recipe, you'll use the other half fifteen minutes later for another.  I am willing to share our favorite recipes, but please go buy the book if you are going on the adventure of cooking for the month!!!

Cooking. . .Again!

I think I might be crazy, but I think I am going to do my cooking for the month this afternoon.  I haven't even gone grocery shopping yet.  I may be hating myself in about five hours.  Oh well.  I have been getting very lonely in the afternoon and evenings with Andy gone, so I figured this would for sure take my mind off of it!

So, I'm thinking I need to do a quick summary of how the last thirteen meals went for my family.  We rated them all so I will know what to cook and, more importantly, what NOT to cook next time.

French Bread Pizza          A (I have actually made it again since cooking day)
Chili Verde                       A
Wild Rice Chicken           F
Chicken Packets              A
Poulet de France              B-
Chicken Broccoli             A-
Baked Eggs                      F
Linguine a la Anne          B+
Calzones                          A (I have made these again already, too)
Mexican Stroganoff         B- (I hated it, but surprisingly, the kids liked it)

Gabby's Goggles

Gabby has been walking around wearing these goggles for two days.  She's just so cute, I wanted to share a picture with you all!

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday & Today

Yesterday I got to be the parent who stayed at the mountain until Hays was finished with practice at 4:00. Usually I take the tired ones home and Andy stays with the fun ones. But yesterday, I stayed with Dax and he was VERY disappointed. He had to wait on me and do easy runs and rest a lot. He put his vote in for Daddy to be the late person from today forward. The picture is a picture of him waiting on me. Poor guy has to tolerate his mother and her pathetic snowboarding skills. Not to mention, I was exhausted! I seriously could hardly push the gas pedal in my car on the way home!

Needless to say, Dax and Andy are at the mountain today while Hays is training.

Maggie and Tiki and Gabby and I are home cleaning like crazy! We are in the middle of what looks like will be about fourteen loads of laundry. So far we have five bags full of trash and nine bags full of "give aways" and that is just from the playroom and the girls' room. (I don't have the courage…

Family Date Night (in 3D)

We had a SUPER night tonight!  The new Justin Bieber movie has been on our calendar for months and the countdown has been on!  Today was the day!  We bought tickets several days in advance and counted the hours when we got up this morning.  (That may sound pathetic, but JB is one of the only things that all ages in our big family really love together.)

So, we headed to the movie after school this afternoon and it really was great!  The movie was super!  It was so fun to see the "behind the scenes" of the "making" of Justin Bieber.  I would love to meet his mom and his grandparents.  They seem wonderful!  Before the movie was even over, Dax leaned over and asked, "Mom, can we buy this movie when it comes out on DVD?"  It was a hit!  (And to be perfectly honest, I think I sang along the ENTIRE movie!)

Then we headed to East by Southwest for sushi.  I love it that my family loves sushi!  (Lesley, we REALLY missed you!)  I loved our night together!


Random Pics

Here are a couple of random pictures that I just found on my camera from last week. . .Tiki's school birthday party and Hays and Gabby on the mountain!

Cooking Flop

I just had my first (I think) cooking flop turned genius!  I'm shocked!  I was trying to make little personal-sized fruit pizzas for the kids' Valentine's day parties at school.  I put the cookie dough into cupcake pans instead of on a cookie sheet because I was wanting perfectly little round and flat cookies.

So, when the oven timer went off the first time, I opened the oven and this is the disaster I saw!  Big bloated cupcake cookies.  Bummer!  Well, they obviously needed more time to cook since they were still raw after ten minutes, so I closed the oven door and reset the timer.

When it "dinged" the next time, this is what I had instead. . .little sugar cookie bowls!  I couldn't have made sugar cookie bowls if my life depended on it!  What in the world!?!?!?

So, I switched my thinking a little bit and filled each bowl with cheesecake filling and then let Gabby add the fruit decorations on top!  I'm so excited about my sugar cookie cheesecake fruit bowl…

Love My Family

Well, it is the Valentine's season. . .heck, my house has been decorated for the LOVE holiday since the Christmas tree came down.  Tomorrow I have three Valentine's parties at the elementary school and today is Valentine's baking day (last night was Valentine making night).  So, I'm kind of in the red and pink mood.  So, I wanted to tell you all what I love about each person in my family.

Andy. . .he is my very best friend, he knows all of my yucky and still loves me.  He makes me laugh and he thinks I'm funny.  He works so hard and so diligently and he is always trying to learn new things.  He wants to be a better person and better dad and better husband and I can really tell when he is trying.  He is steady and patient (except with "dumb" drivers).  What I see is what I get with Andy and I don't have to guess.

Hays. . .he is sweet and thoughtful and compassionate.  His mind is so intricate.  He loves to figure things out in the most "engineer&q…

Counting to 20

Okay, you blog readers.  If you are a language or older child adoption or whatever expert, I need help and advice.  When I met Tiki, he could not speak any English EXCEPT he could say "Spider Man" and he could count to twenty in ENGLISH.  Now that Tiki is totally fluent in English he can hardly make it to ten and cannot get past twelve. 

He's a smart kid.  He just learned an entirely different language in less than a year and he is learning to read.  But this counting thing is frustrating me.  I realize that I need PATIENCE!!!  I am VERY AWARE of that.  But is this normal?  Any advice (besides the patience piece)?

Easy & Yummy

French Bread Pizza:

One loaf of French bread (from the bakery section of your grocery store)
Spaghetti sauce
Pizza cheese

Slice the French bread in half lengthwise and spread both halves with spaghetti sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese (the more the merrier) and then add pepperoni.  Broil about 6 minuets until cheese is melted.  Easy and yummy pizza that YOU MADE in less than 10 total minutes!

Who Am I?

So, today I was challenged to figure out who I actually am.  Andy and I were sitting in our counseling session (I know, hard to believe that we are not perfect like Adam and Eve pre-apple, but we aren't) and the counselor was allowing me to reveal (nice way to put it) how I am such a people-pleaser and how afraid I am of not being "good enough" and so forth and so on.  So with those revelations, he (the counselor) pointed out that no one knows the real me. . .and that I probably don't even know the real me.  I sat on that for a second and realized that that truly is true.  Who the heck am I?

When I take away the need to keep everyone happy and when I take away my constant fear of not being good enough (what does that even mean) for anyone (even myself?) it leaves me with what?  What do I like to do. . .really?  What would my day look like if I lived for me (in the healthy way, not in the selfish-me-first-pleasure-seeker way)?  What is my real personality like?  Who a…

Bieber Fever

Well, the Braner Family has it! We love Justin Bieber. The kids know EVERY word to all of his songs that we own. They sing them, they dance to them. . .it is probably the thing that makes me laugh the hardest (seeing Dax be JB and hearing Gabby sing). Justin Bieber is the one thing we can all "relate" to. I love it. So, I have had this Friday night on our family calendar for a LONG time. . ."Never Say Never," the movie comes out and we cannot wait to go see it!

And then I ran across this (on Andy's blog, click on the word "this" to get there) and it made me so much more excited! Justin's mom has a "discussion guide" for the movie. It seems like it is a leaders' guide to the movie for Bible Study leaders of junior high girls. I LOVE THAT! So, for those of you out there leading a small group and feeling bored or lost or dry. . .go to Andy's blog and about 70% of the way to the bottom of the post is a "discussion gu…

Dax & the Half Pipe

Andy just posted this picture on Twitter of Dax finishing up the half pipe! Wish I were at the mountain today (instead of at home cleaning and cooking for the Super Bowl party)!

Happy Birthday, Tiki!

Oh two, oh three, oh four (02/03/04).  That is Tiki's new official birthday which makes my boy seven today!  He is so excited about his new birthday and he is even more excited that he gets to changes ages this time!  Last summer (when we celebrated his birthday on the "old" date), we didn't have him change ages and he said to someone, "I am six again.  I do not know why."

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIKI!  You have been in our home for nearly 16 months and my how you have changed everything!  You are the happiest child I have ever met and you are so optimistic about everything!  All things are new and exciting and interesting to you and I know that I do a terrible job of letting your mind explore out loud.  You're a super friend and a good little and big brother (most of the time).  You are loving and sweet.  You are eager to please, but starting to go heavy on the deceitful side these days.  You're pushing your boundaries after a year, but in a way (small…

Did It Myself

So, I'm not very crafty and I seem to be getting less and less crafty as the years go by (I'll blame it on the five kids). However, I made this!!! I am so excited!

Maggie has been nominated for Junior Snow Queen for the Snowdown Festivities in Durango this weekend and she has a pagent/interviews (or something) tomorrow afternoon that will determine who is the Snowdown Junior King and Queen. Well, there is NO shopping in Durango and we're on a pretty tight budget right now, so I didn't really want to spend money on a new outfit. So, she is wearing her big puffy red tule skirt that she has had for years and then I made her this shirt to match! I saw it in some catalog (probably Chasing Fireflies) and it was $68 and I thought, "I can make that." Well, the shirt I saw had the entire heart filled in. . .with a pink row or two. . .and that was my plan. . .until just the outline took over two hours. . .glad I didn't start in the middle (and, Gabby won'…

Soul Food

Oh (said quietly with a big relieved sigh). Tonight was so much more than I knew I needed. Last week a girl that I sort of knew through our adoption fellowship group invited me to a Bible Study. And against all of my insecurities about going to a strangers house to spend the evening with a bunch of other strangers who all knew each other, I went. My spiritual journey has been SO DRY here in Colorado and I was so desperate that I put aside my insecurities and just went. . .I actually almost ran. I was desperate for the fellowship and for the teaching (it is a Beth Moore study and I already knew that I get tons out of her studies).

So, on top of the refreshingness (is that a word? I don't think so.) of having girl time and a Bible study, the icing was that the study just made sense. It hit home. It struck a cord. The clouds parted and the angels sang down. However you want to say it. . . . It was so what I needed to hear!

And here is some of what I learned:

From my distress…

Happy February!!!

It's February.  Part of me cannot believe that it is already February; however, Cabo seems like a lifetime ago, so it seems like February should be here!

It is definitely starting out with a crazy bang this first week, but then it will slow down some!  We have Tiki's birthday this week and "Snow Downs" which is basically Durango's Mardi Gras from what I hear.  Maggie has been nominated for Junior Snow Queen and Hays has a snowboarding competition and a pasta dinner fund raiser before the parade.  Crazy week.  Stay tuned for stories and pictures!

Andy will be traveling to the Southeast later this month (he'll be spending Valentine's night with a group of teens from Orlando and then with my brother and sister-in-law as a matter of fact).  I have made sure that he is home on the weekends to spend time with the kids and with me.  I have definitely become a HUGE fan of our family days on the mountain!

And then the last weekend of the month I have a HUGE surpr…