Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brander Family 2010

Hopefully you came prepared with a cup of cocoa and a few minutes to spare, its been a wild ride at the Brander house again this year! A few times I thought to myself that if we were a reality show it would be called Four Teens and a Toddler! This year was filled with a lot of changes at our house....we will start right off with the kids!

Caila started off this year with turning 16 in February! We have a driver YEA! It been great to have one less child to chauffeur around! She is pretty busy and this year was no exception. She finished off her sophmore year at Cornerstone with a performance in Madrigals and a good season for track. She spent the summer helping with the driving when she wasnt at various youth conferences or missions trips. She got a shock when she found out at the very last minute that she and Nick were accepted into University High School. They both had applied in the spring but werent accepted. U-High is the labratory school for Illinois State University, and only takes a certain number of students from each school district based a combination of a lot of factors including your race and its really tough to get in! It was especially tough for Caila because someone had to leave UHigh for her to get in as a transfer. She dove right in head first and was running varsity for Cross Country and made the Varsity Cheer Squad. She is planning a trip to New York City with the Choir in the spring as well. I'm sure there will be many more good things to come as she finishes her junior year...prom is right around the corner!

Nick had an exciting year as well! He decided last fall to apply to the People to People program's trip to Europe and went to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in June. The picture is him scaling a castle wall. He learned a lot about Europe, living away from home and had a ball shopping with different currencies (and his own credit card!). He was really excited to get into U-high and immediately signed up for Engineering classes and got himself to football practice with the Pioneers! He had a great freshman year in football and is currently working on his football skill in Wrestling. Its definitely not his favorite sport but his coach assures him it will make him a better football player. Drivers ed starts in January...and in October we will have two drivers! So far U high has been a great fit for Nick and theres no end to the opportunities that he has there.

This year Ben tried out soccer in place of football. Last season he took a lot of hard hits and with Ben's track record of injuries we didnt need one that would take him out of sports for good. He took to soccer easily and although the team had a rough season he really learned a lot about teamwork and soccer. He currently is playing basketball for the 6th grade boys team at Cornerstone and enjoys it. He will go back to soccer again in the spring. He is also playing french horn with the band again this year and although he isnt crazy about it, his teacher says hes doing well! This coming year should give him a lot of opportunities to get involved in missions trips and youth conferences with the church, including the trip that he is taking with his Dad and Maren to Haiti this spring break. Surprisingly Ben will be involved with helping in a soccer camp for kids....funny how God worked that out!

Maren has become our resident photographer and substitute Mom to Eliana when I'm not home. Both seem to come naturally to her and she enjoys both of them! As you can see in the photos of our family posted here she has a great eye, and there are so many more that I cant post here. She has been busy this past year with volleyball, cheerleading, youth group leadership team, and maintaining a constant presence on facebook (any of you who are her friend on facebook know what I mean!). She also is looking forward to her trip to Haiti in March and I know she will be like a magnet to the children there.

Eliana has transformed this family into jabbering goofballs who will do anything for a laugh. Curious, independant and fearless are words that describe her everyday antics. Her pace is fast forward and loud is her volume. She loves to laugh, to imitate videos, to play on the ipad (yes she really is only 2..I'm not describing a 12 year old). She has recently discovered dress up, and high heels, and is real sight when she tries to run in them! She keeps us all laughing and tired! This year we hope she learns how to use the potty and increases her vocabulary. Especially with Please and Thank you! Its hard to imagine this family without her!

Other than that....Tom and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in Kiawah Island, SC. It was a great week without kids and an agenda! If you havent been to Kiawah..its on my list of must visit places. We also were able to go to Maui for a meeting in February with Eliana and loved it. I could pack my bags and move to either place permanently! We dont have any big plans yet for the next year, but we are learning that nothing stays still for very long in this family so there should be plenty of things to post next year! Have a blessed Christmas with your loved ones!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Its been almost a year since we were in we approach the kid's spring break vacation I'm brought back to the anxiety that I faced last year at this time trying to get our congressman's office to urge USCIS to move along in granting our third clearance so we could go and get Eliana. Needless bureaucratic nonsense...but necessary!!! If you didn't know or don't remember...we got our clearance and had less than a week to plan a trip for all 6 of us to travel to China. It was chaos...and I know God carried me the whole way..because just trying to get our family out the door for school every morning is monumental..but going halfway around the world with a week to prepare is nuts!
Its a blur now...and our latest challenge is what to do with the sweet little chatterbox who wakes up at 1am every night to carry on about who knows what....and she prefers company to sit with her while she chatters to you! No sleep at can sleep after 40? That will put you to your knees! Yes they know my face at our local Starbucks drive thru! This too shall pass I keep telling myself! She is adorable and the light in the eye of everyone in this me...all of the kids rush to see her after school! We cant imagine life without her...or what sleeping thru the night was!

Friday, January 1, 2010


One year ago we first saw the sweet chubby face of Eliana, and today she has become the biggest joy in our family. We have just returned from three days in LIfe Action Family Camp for their first annual Resolution camp. We played in the snow, read, were challenged and made personal resolutions before God for 2010. What a great way to start a new year. May God be Glorified in all we do in 2010!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wow...I need to post!

If youre still reading our posts...thanks! August hit the map and I cant believe how much time has flown by! We literally got home from Michigan and started football for the boys and volleyball for Caila. The picture is Eliana at the park while we waited for Ben to be done with his practice. She now can spot anything park-like from the car and starts shrieking. She has a favorite word too...Up, and it literally means...up, or down, or help, or please. Its a universal plea for something. I really should be in bed, but when I looked at the blog and realized it had been so long I thought I better say something! I will try to be better about posting!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This crazy life

I'm sure that you have heard the term " You only have one life, so make it a good one " , well one thing about following God's leading for your life is that you never know where he is going to take you....and its usually places you never dreamed you would or could go. I never dreamed I'd have a masters degree...much less live in a 100 year old house of my dreams and have 5 kids! God is giving me the strength, patience and enough insanity to cope with the demands that are placed on me...and when people ask me (and I have been asked how I do it) I often say I have no idea. That's because its not my life! I know that people look at my life and think she has got to be crazy, or what was she thinking? But that's it....I wasn't! Giving God complete control over every aspect of your life doesn't look "normal". Our normal and God's aren't the same. We are all too often lured by our culture to think that certain things in life are worth aspiring to. Comfort, wholeness, peace, security, these things all sound good, but the problem is that we will pursue these things for our entire lives and never attain them on our own. These are all things that man has tried to pursue since Adam and Eve and to my one has ever achieved it! Its mans natural tendency to want those things but only God can truly give us the comfort we crave, the wholeness we desire, the peace in the midst of a storm in our lives and the security that there is a plan. I may not have a road map to my life, or even for my day. But I know that having the creator of the universe writing my life plan is a whole lot more comforting, peace giving and secure than I could ever hope for myself. God promises to make all things new and in his plan I know that in the end I will have compete Him, and that all the whys and wondering will be answered from His wisdom..not my little brain. Is it scary...sometimes...its like riding that rollercoaster with your eyes closed and knowing that you are slowing climbing the hill and peeking right before you plunge into the dive, but in the end you loved every minute of it, and want to go back and do it again. You trusted that the ride was safe and that it was designed for you to have the thrill of your life. Trust God to do that for your matter how crazy it seems to others. You have all eternity to reflect on it and rest knowing that the ride was well worth it!

P.S. Just in case any of you try to contact me at home...we are in Michigan til August 1st. So email me at!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


In case you are looking for an Emily update...go to
You can get info there from today as well as info about sending her an ecard !

Monday, May 18, 2009

Website created for Emily Henrichs

I have created a website to update friends and family who are praying and supporting Emily and her family.  Please pray and subscribe the blog so that you can be updated on any changes.  You can find a link to her blog in the right hand corner of this blog.  Please continue praying.