Monday, December 29, 2008

Where were you on April 29th?

I dont know where I was either...but my daughter was born that day in China!!!!! News and a photo to come!

We are getting close!

I just wanted to share with everyone to be in prayer about our adoption this week, because the internet is abuzz with news that China has completed matching children with families who have their log in date of 2/28...ours is 2/27! Hopefully we will hear from our adoption agency this week....keep you ears posted to this blog!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brander Family Christmas Letter 08

Where do you begin with all thats gone on in a year? Our initial months of 2008 were faced with packing up our lives at the Linden House, and remodeling at our current home on Washington Street. As some of you may know, the house is over 100 years old, and the extensive remodeling (plumbing and electric) were already finished by previous owner. We needed to renovate the original servants quarters on the 3rd floor and add a shower to the bathroom on that floor. We also had to rebuild the fireplace and remove a bunch of wallpaper. We moved in at the end of February, and it has felt a lot like putting on your favorite pair of sneakers. The house just fits.
Tom has continued keeping up with his busy practice, and the increased activity level of the kids (more on that later). He and I both find it a challenge to have a conversation without an interruption, or to find a few hours alone to talk about something other than the schedule. We have found that most of our conversation some days is relegated to text messages, but at least we are on the same page!
I am busy most days trying to keep up with the laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping. I have also tried to get myself back to my desk and try to get the creative juices flowing with my Stampin Up business. I dont do workshops any longer, but take orders and make custom cards as time allows. Tom and I have also begun working out with a personal trainer a few times a week and it has been fun as well as challenging.

Caila is almost 15 and a Freshman at Cornerstone this year. She had a terrific spring track season going to state for Long Jump and accomplishing her personal best at 14 feet 9.5 inches. She spent a month of the summer serving at Life Action Family Camp where our family goes for a week every summer. This fall she played volleyball for the JV team and at the end of the season went up for a spike and landed on the side of her ankle. She has been going to therapy now for about a month, and just last week dropped a 25lb weight on the other foot breaking her toe. She manages to get around quite well, and is still able to cheer at the boys basketball games! She is an excellent student and will be going to Guatemala this January for her Winterim class in Spanish.

Nick is 13 and in the 7th grade, as well as managing to pass me up in height. He is playing basketball again this year for Cornerstone and has now gained the reputation as "The Beast under the Basket". He's gaining skill and stamina for the game and is fun to watch. He has also taken off in his guitar skills as well...electric that is. I can recognize some of what he is playing ! I just wish that the floor didnt vibrate whenever he practices. Nick had a great fall playing football for the McLean County Cougars and played defensive tackle and left tackle.

Ben also played his first year of football with the McLean County Cougars. He is 11 this year and in the 4th grade. He played running back for his team, and learned how intimidating it can be when you have the ball and a wall of tackles is headed right for you. He got a lot of bruises but never lacked enthusiasm to jump right back in and practice the next day. He is doing well in school and often has us laughing with his latest antics. I imagine he will eventually take up some form of Drama in junior high because he is always doing something crazy.


Maren is 11 and in the 5th grade. She made the girls cheer squad for the 5th and 6th grade, and the year of cheer classes has really paid off. She looks great and knows her cheers! You can tell when she is out there how proud she is to be cheering on her school. She has been busy this year adding people to her facebook page, and you can usually find her chatting online with her friends or on the phone....and sometimes both. Shes a perfectionist about her schoolwork, much to Ben's dismay! She also has a dramatic streak in her and tried out and made it in a part in the christmas program again this year.

Well if you were paying attention to all the details above, we have a high school cheerleader, a 7th grade ball player and a 5th grade cheerleader. Thats a LOT of basketball games! Ben has become my shotgun passenger in the car lately shuffling people from one practice/game to another. He wont be alone for long because we anticipate in January or at the latest February to recieve our referall from China for our adoption. It will be 3 years in February that we have been waiting for word to the child (most likely a girl) they have matched to our family. Why so long? No one really knows, and I would need another blog to explain it...but make sure you keep up with us here to get the latest. We may all be traveling to China together to go get her this spring! I guarantee our letter next year will be a lot more fun! Have a warm and loving Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Some musings on Christmas....

Its that time of year....and it started earlier than I remembered in the past. I know I saw christmas items being set on shelves when I went to buy halloween candy. Somehow every year it seems to fly past me quicker than the last. I was recently thinking too about the underlying ideas we have about Christmas. Not about the cutural traditions we have like trees and gifts. More about how realistic I am about Christ's birth. I don't think I have really thought about what it meant to really be born in a stable. To be born at the time of the census. Thousands of people were converging on a tiny city. There were probably many people without rooms for the night in that stable with Mary when she was giving birth. She didnt have her mother, or aunts with her to help her in childbirth...let alone a doctor. This was her first child...and she was sharing a stable with strangers and animals. Oh...and the animals! I have never set foot in a barn or stable yet that had animals living there and smelled good. They have often been dusty smelly places with mice and cats and ...well it was enough to make me want to go home and shower later because I still smelled the barn on me later. Mary had no place to shower or wash her face, much less Jesus. Yet this is how God chose to come and live among us. Not in a palace on a hill or as a ruler..but as a baby, born into chaotic times, to a young inexperienced mother and a timid new father. Among His creation, and with His creation, as His creation. It makes me wonder what God really thinks about this world and what we perceive as "ideal". God's perfect plan was not our idea of "ideal", and yet it was. God with us. Emmanuel. Right in the dirty dusty chaos of our lives and hearts, to give us hope and love and life. When you think of the story of Christmas this year remember who it was that came and how he came to save.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Favorite time of year....

I just love the fall, the trees are gorgeous of course....but there's something in the air. Its like nature is slowing down, you notice the wind more because you see the leaves blowing. You notice the sunlight because it bounces off of the colors. You feel the cool air and snuggle deeper into your jacket. Maybe I love all of the things that lead up to winter and crawling into my cocoon of a blanket with a warm drink and a book by the fire. Whatever it is I know that it feels good to have the changes and look forward to what is to come. Maybe that's why I like it so much, because the prospects of something different, of a glimpse of hope that things will always change and grow. Or maybe its anticipating Starbuck's new fall drinks? Thats got to be it !

Sunday, October 5, 2008

To live in the moment....

Hopefully this post wont be too philisopical or heavy, its just been one of those weeks for me. When you start to think about whats really important and grapple with whether you are actually doing what is right and what is real. My aunt is dying. She has been pretty sick for a long time with Emphysema and on oxygen 24/7 for years but she has always been the cat with 9 lives. We have joked about that with her, that when we got "the call" from my uncle that she was in the hospital again she would somehow get better when no one thought it was possible. This last visit though brought her to a crossroads. She needed surgery and if they put her on a venilator for the surgery they probably wouldnt be able to take her off. Did she want that? No, so the decision was made to put her on hospice and have her go home. She in many ways was more like a mother to me than an aunt, because at a young age she was my mother. My sister and I were staying with her when my mother was killed in an auto accident the week before my third birthday. She took my sister and I in when my father and his second wife divorced a few years later. She was someone that saw the YOU in everyone regardless of the skin they were in or what they had done. You were a person of worth and honor in her eyes because you WERE. We were all sweethearts in her eyes. So in thinking about Aunt Andi, and all is and has meant to me, I look at my own life and I living my life truly in the moment? I know we all say savor the moment, but do we really live like that? How would our words be different if we were really looking at our last conversation with one another? What things would we be doing? What thoughts would I be thinking? I'm starting to think that in order for me to truly live in the moment I need to live in the end. The end of my days that is. Instead of taking for granted another day, another week, another year...I need to shorten my perspective and think about this day, this hour, this person in front of me now and be real and LIVE in this moment with no regrets, no falsehoods, no shame, no judgement...only love, and humility and God's grace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What can I say...I have an amazing husband?

This is the view I get to see when I wake up on the morning of my 40th birthday....and Tom arranged it all for me. I have already been here for three days but it feels like a week because its a perfect combination of what relaxes me....the sound of the waves, warm 70 degree days, no agenda, and terrific food. I love the ocean breeze on my face and hearing the sea gulls and seeing the pelicans dive for fish. I love reading a book in the warm sun while sipping a cup of coffee and napping if I find myself dozing in a chapter. It has been an amazing few days and I am so blessed. If you see Tom tell him how much I love him and how blessed I feel.
If you ever get the chance to visit San Diego it rivals my all time favorite place...St John in the USVI. We are staying at the Del Coranado Hotel on Coranado Island. Check it out

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Got my baby fix!

I spent this past weekend helping my sister care for Jackson...her little 5 week old son. What a sweetheart...I miss him already. I also got to watch some tv and saw amovie...all from her couch while giving my sisters arms a break. Those things are a real treat for me. I cant wait to see all of them when they come out for a visit in November.

When I returned on Tuesday I was sent into full fall schedule. Caila has already had two volleyball games. They won the last one and lost the first. Its great as a mom to see your child's skills develop and allow them to do things that really impact their lives. She has been able to jump in and play with the varsity team and has developed some great friendships through trying volleyball.

Nick and Ben have begun their first weekend of football games. Today Ben had his first game, and had a great 45yard run. He came home telling me all about how everyone on the other team was chasing him. They played the toughest team in the league and got beat, but you wouldnt have know by the look on his face. Nick plays his first game tomorrow. He was named offensive left he's feeling the pressure and smiling big as well! Lets hope that the quarterback does well tomorrow!

Maren is plugging along with her cheerleading practice and being my buddy while we drive all around to everyone else's far she hasnt minded. I think she appreciates the quiet when everyone else is busy. Too bad she's not old enough to drive....I could use her help!

On a more somber note, my sister had to say goodbye to her long time friend and traveling companion Mac. Mac was losing control of his back legs and when I left he was also losing control of the front, even with pain medication you could tell that he was trying to put on up a good face, but it just became to much after a while to try to get him outside anymore...and when you cant get a big guy like Mac out to do his gets hard to do hospice care anymore, especially with a new baby.
We love you and miss you Mac...thanks for taking such good care of Ang from one coast to another!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jackson Taylor has out girls!

My sister and her husband are the proud new parents of this handsome little guy. Congratulations Angie and Perry! Isnt he just gonna melt hearts? He's already melting mine. I get to go see him over labor day weekend. I cant wait!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Its not everyday you see your family covered in mud..and they chose to do this. Its just one activity of many at family camp.
We go to Life Action family camp every summer for the past few years and its always a great time....notice Maren and I arent pictured...? We also weren't muddy! Hey...someone has to take pictures!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Summer Begins!

I sit here in our new house, on the last day of school for the kids...just thinking about how much of my personality and nature cringes at the thought of change..upheaval..uncertainty, and yet that is exactly where I have been walking with God in the past 10 years or so. The picture is our pug Bella...and yet it reminds me so much of myself...keep looking up!
The more I say yes to God an no to myself the more twists and turns and adventure happens in my life that I would have never imagined. I honestly don't know how I manage the blessed hum of life around here. I know some of you look at my life/schedule and think its crazy...but that buzz is what God uses to keep me dependant on him for every step. When I say step I mean step...because it has been two years now that I have been hobbling around with plantar facitis. First in the left foot and now in the right one. If it were up to me, I would be about 3 sizes smaller right now and lounging at a pool in my bikini...but getting through the day and obeying God means that my reality is there are 6 kids in my house eating pizza and watching movies and I am sitting with my sore feet up with a snoring pug at my side, and it is so good.
I have learned this past year how God meets the desires of your heart even if you don't voice them to anyone...God sees you...not just your life, and circumstances...but the inner part of you that not even your closest friend or spouse sees. Its terrifying because some of those parts of me are ugly and shameful and you dont want them seen by anyone, but God has had to scream his love out to me in only ways that I would see it, and in ways that only He would know...and I see that no matter how much I dont meet my own expectations...or dislike where I am or who I am...that I am precious in his sight and He sees the me inside me.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, we should hear sometime in the next 6 months or so about our daughter in China. When we felt God urging us to adopt again two years ago...well I never would have believed we would be waiting this long. Our family will have a new baby in the house and our youngest are 10 years old...why the gap? Am I ready for the middle of the night wake ups and the energy of a toddler? How am I going to manage the schedules of a high schooler, a junior higher and two elementary students with that of a baby? I have no idea, but I do know that the God who sees me has it all figured out and I am going to keep looking up, saying yes and smiling back because I know who knows ME best.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We're Home!

We did officially move in...and we are all unpacked...and in the process of trying to get organized. Its not easy doing all of those things with a full schedule of basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and track! Speaking of track...Caila is going to state! She qualified in the long jump with a huge leap of 14 feet 91/2 inches. I think her angel lifted her up and boosted her forward...cuz she shocked herself!

School is out for the kids in 23 days...I'm not counting they are! Although a few days without driving them somewhere at 7:30 am sounds really nice right now. It should be an interesting summer...there are a lot of kids in our block...and they all congregate around our new basketball hoop. I will be trying to get organized with a new baby coming...we dont have any official word yet..but the rumor is that we should be getting a picture sometime in August or long as the olympics dont interfere with getting things done. You never know one way or the other. As soon as we get some information I will post it here!