Sunday, September 14, 2014

Throw Back to Missouri

When I was playing catch up on my blog yesterday, I realized that I hadn't even posted about my trip back to Missouri.  I kind of think I didn't blog about it because it was very emotional for me being back for the first time since my Gran'ma died.
I got to spend time in my Gran'ma's home.  This may seem weird to many--it is where I stay when I go home, so that's why I was there.  It was so peaceful.  I loved begin there.  That wasn't the hard part.  I loved being at home in her home.  I loved being in my "safe" place and I realized during this visit what a safe place her home truly was for me.

Picking up my kids from camp was so great!  A month is a long time!
Cousins and third cousins!
 We had to say good-bye to Chaco.  That was a sad day.  He went to a much better place (truly he did, we didn't kill him and just tell the kids that).  He is on a bunch of land in Oklahoma where he is king of 100 goats and pigs.
And my dad made the cross country drive with us again this year.  It was fun to have him in Durango.  The kids loved the time they got to spend with him!
We got to spend the day with the Carpenter family.  They are wonderful!  Krickett (who is one of my new friends I'm so thankful for now) and her hubby wrote "The Vow" and it is their book (based on their real life) that inspired the movie.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Playing Catch Up

Oh my goodness!  What a whirlwind these past few weeks have been!  School starting (have I mentioned four different schools this year?), and activities (tap, football, volleyball and golf), family reunion in Phoenix, Gap Year Class of 2015 in town, games, tournaments, practices, cooking, cleaning, working, fun. . . . WHIRLWIND!

Braner family reunion in Phoenix was fun--it was HOT.  Never go to Phoenix over Labor Day if you can help it.  But it was fun being with family for a couple of uninterrupted days!  The kids loved it!  And my cousin, Chelsea, and her kids crashed our party one morning and we loved that, too!
Football season has started and it is hysterical.  The coaches and the parents are hysterically annoying for sure.  You would think that the NFL scouts were at every game and every practice.  RIDICULOUS!  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Dax was not really cut out for football, but Tiki was.  Wow!  He is a warrior at heart and he loves to hit and he thinks and follows the ball.  He really could be great!  Today he had several fantastic tackles!
Gabby being their only cheerleader!
Dax's teacher from last year (who is becoming one of my favorite friends here in Durango) came to watch the boys play last week!
Hays has been on the "Devo" golf team for two years, but last week he got to play with the team in two tournaments.  The one the camera made it to was a deluge.  It was raining so hard and it was so cold.  For sure not the PGA weather one sees on TV!!!

 Maggie has been playing volleyball again.  She loves it, but this year has been all about character building from not making the A team to girl drama to a pretty bad high ankle sprain.  I'm so proud of what an amazing 13 year old she is.  Wow!
The Gap Year Class of 2015 came to our house for dinner a couple of times while they were in Durango for their orientation weeks.  So fun to have so many kids with us.  This is going to be a life changing year for them!
 Andy has been taking the kids golfing with him in the afternoons when he waits for Hays to finish with practice.  He says that taking Tiki and Gabby is like playing "Whack a Mole" but they have fun together!
Baylor and his toys.
Andy pitching in and unbraiding Gabby's hair!  I could get used to that!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Word Problem

I thought I'd honor the first day of school with a word problem:

Jamie has 5 kids.  It is the first day of school and the afternoon looks intimidating. Jamie needs to allow 20 minutes to get from her house to town.  Here are the times her kids have to be places after noon today:
     Hays 12:00 School Starts, 2:25 School Ends, 5:30-6:30 Golf
     Maggie  2:20 School Ends, 4:00-5:30 Volleyball
     Tiki  1:30 School Ends, 5:15-7:30 Football
     Dax 3:35 School Ends, 5:15-7:30 Football
     Gabby  1:30 School Ends, 2:30-4:30 Tap
How can Jamie and the kids spend the least time in the car this afternoon?

Hehehehe.  That was fun.  I (heart) math!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chore Chart Failure

I am a chore chart failure.  I really am.  Each year I come up with a great plan for chores.  I come up with a great reminder system and a great payment system and we're lucky if we make it until October until it all falls apart.

So this year I have another one in place.  Yea me!  We'll see.

My kids have "rent" chores.  These are daily chores they have to do and their payment is their room and board and insurance and such.  These are just chores they get to do as a member of the Braner Family.  Then they have new nightly chores that they will rotate throughout the week.  And they have a "big" chore they will do on the weekend.  These night and weekend chores are their "allowance" chores.

Where I struggle the most is the check and pay part (my chore).  My kids do pretty great with their chores, but I do pretty crummy with my chore (check and pay).  So, I'm going to work on that this year.  What is your system for paying your kids?  Hays is easy, I direct deposit into his account monthly.  I need to figure out how to pay the rest of kids without having to have cash on me at all times.

Friday, August 22, 2014

This Fall. . .

This morning we rolled out of bed and headed to school to meet the teachers (the three littles).  School starts on Monday and I cannot believe that I will have a Sophomore, an 8th grader, two 4th graders and a 2nd grader.  Wow.  Each of these grades, for me, were very memorable.  When I was a Sophomore I got my license; as an 8th grader I "went out" with my first boy (what does that even mean) and got dumped by that same boy; 4th grade was wonderful with Mrs. Frazier and it was the first grade where I didn't feel like a little kid because she made us feel responsible and fun; and in 2nd grade I had Mrs. Orth and that is when I realized that I was smart and I really liked it!  So, here my kids go--their own adventures in the even grades.

I'm excited for what they get to bring to school with them this year.  I'm excited that when they have to do a writing exercise about "what I did this summer" it will be full of adventures and stories!  I hope they never loose Africa!

They are all involved in an activity this Fall and each one of them is passionate about his or her chosen sport.  That is really fun!  Hays is playing golf and getting better every day!  He had a personal best on the course and came home so proud of himself.  Maggie is playing volleyball and although she didn't make the A team with her best friend, she is still practicing hard every day and having a fantastic attitude and I admire her for that!  Tiki and Dax are playing football and it is hysterical!  I love seeing the BRANER boys on the field together!  They love football (except for the drills part according to Dax)!!  Gabby is taking tap again this year and she really has found her athletic passion.  It is so fun to watch her thrive!  She taps everywhere and she is excited for tap to start!  My car is full of backpacks and golf bags and volleyball bags and football bags and dance bags; cleats and athletic shoes and tap shoes; dreams and goals and laughter.  I'm lucky to get to be a mom to these five kids!

Andy has so many fun irons in the fire this year and I am so excited to watch him follow his dreams.  And he is being an amazing husband who is striving to understand all of my complexities and love be well.  I'm thankful! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One (or Two or Ten) Too Many

Normally this is how I roll.  I can spin multiple plates at once and I do it well.  I love high stress and emergency situations.  I love to have a ton going on.  I love that I'm good at spinning many plates at once.
However, I am feeling a little more like this these days.  I crawled into bed the other night and told Andy that I felt like I had one too many things going on and he couldn't even believe that those words came out of my mouth.  Me neither!

I'm a tad overwhelmed with all I have going on!  I have my jobs (yes, plural), my kids (5) and their schools (3) and their activities (5--we only let them do one activity per "season"--thank goodness), my husband, my Masters. . . .  And then on top of those biggies, I have tons of emotional stuff going on and that alone seems like several dozen plates all by itself.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, sometimes I feel exhausted (mentally and emotionally), sometimes I feel like nothing is going to get finished, sometimes I feel like I need to just finish one thing well and forget about the rest, sometimes I want to just quit it all and occasionally I feel like I'll manage just fine.  But lately I just feel behind and that everything I am doing is a knee jerk.  I'm too busy to even plan ahead and too busy to follow that plan were I able to plan ahead.

Andy asked me (during a teary moment the other day), "when do you take time for yourself?"  And my answer was that on Mondays (during the school year), I try not to go to work so that I can do all of the laundry and clean the house.  He laughed and told me that doing the laundry and cleaning the house wasn't exactly the "time for yourself" he was meaning (especially since neither one of those tasks bring me joy).  I don't know.  When do I have time to take time?  I think that was the answer in my head while I allowed the tears to stream silently down my face.

I just need a better plan.  School (my school) is much more time consuming this year and in the last 12 months I have acquired several page additions to my job description at work and I have all of this emotional stuff boiling to the surface all of a sudden and I'm stuck or something--stuck doesn't seem to be the right word.

I'm not sure why I'm blogging. . . maybe because I don't want to write one of my five papers that is due this week or maybe because I am putting off finishing all of the accounting work I have to do for camp or maybe because I am procrastinating writing the three syllabi and course descriptions for the gap year classes I am teaching next week or maybe because. . . who knows!??!

All of this to say, right now I don't feel like a beautiful and graceful acrobat of China spinning dozens of plates with a smile on my face and a perfectly placed bun on my head while doing the splits on my friend.  Right now I feel like the frazzled mom above (she has to be a mom, right?) who is spinning and dropping and yet still spinning the plates left to be spun with messy hair, no make up and a smile on her face so that her kids don't know she's totally loosing it!

I'm a wreck.  Oh my!  There it is.  I. Am. A. Wreck.

Thankfully, my husband listened to me through my tears.  He heard what I was saying. . . better than that, he heard what I was trying to say.  And he is being so good and supportive and encouraging.  And I said all of this several days ago and he is still engaging with the wreck that I am--he hasn't forgotten that I am feeling this way.  I'm thankful--so very thankful--for his love and support.  I'm blessed.

So, if you hear a loud crash, it is probably just another plate being dropped by me.  No worries!

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Personal X Factor

I just returned from Vegas where I got to dive into new information about these health and wellness products I am using and sharing.  It was a super weekend with fun friends, great information and the tools to make my dreams come true.  I really want to share with you all!

1.  The company.  It is amazing!  The priorities are right on target.  God first.  Family second.  And so on.  The people are amazing.  They are genuine.  I was blown away by the people from corporate I got to meet and the executives I got to know.  I love this company!

2.  The products.  I already know that I love the products.  My life is completely different because of them and my family is on a path to health that I could not have gotten them on before.  (I'll post my story at the end of this post in case anyone doesn't know it.)  This weekend they introduced a new product for rest, relaxation, calming, anti-anxiety, insomnia and more.  I've tried it and I love it, too!

3.  The friendships.  I have made the best friends working for this company.  I think that is what made this weekend so much fun.  I get to work with people who have become some of my best friend.  I get to work with them and travel to exotic places with them.  So fun!

4.  The compensation.  This company has the best compensation plan I've seen.  They are so generous with compensation, with bonuses, with super trips and rewards and with fun cash prizes at their conventions!
This is the President, Mark Walker, congratulating me for how hard I've worked!
A little bit of my story:
I’m so excited to share with everyone I know because I know personally that this works! My story in a nutshell: In three weeks I lost 24 pounds and 18 inches. My migraines are gone, my joints don’t hurt and I have unbelievable energy! (To date I’ve lost 40 pounds.) But my favorite part is how amazing my mood and overall outlook on life is! Indescribable!
Andy lost 11 pounds in the first 8 days. He is loving the products for his work outs and recovery.
Hays and Maggie are seeing great benefits in their puberty hormonal mood swings (they’re gone)!
Tiki has had the same success on several of these products for his ADD as he did with his prescription meds. And he is off his Adderall, too!
And the flu came knocking this year and was not invited to stay!!! These products are helping my family feel better and be healthier!
Another great benefit is that I have replaced my income from camp—and I did that in just three months of working the business. This compensation plan is the best I’ve seen!
This weekend the company introduced a new product for rest and relaxation that helps with anxiety and insomnia. I have tried it and I love it!!!
This video is about the products. The video focuses on weight loss, but it is SO MUCH MORE than weight loss. It is a true health and wellness lifestyle change!
How can I help you?!??!?!
Go to for more info or email me and I'd love to answer all of your questions!