Friday, July 24, 2009

Beach bumming it...

Oh, how that girl loves the beach.... A girl after my own heart.
And oh, how she loves her Daddy.
"look at these guns !!!"
"Mommy, Daddy won't smile..."

The water was just perfect. You couldn't ask for a better beach day.

Sand castle building... not so much my specialty. I should get an A for effort though :)

Ta Da.... That's the extent to my sand castle repertoire.

Yeah, I'm a rockstar !!!

4 going on 14.......

Could it really be true?? How could she be four already. It seems like she just came home yesterday. Already all the funny little things she used to say have changed.... now she's speaking so much like a mini adult. It's really funny how this little bitty person can be so mature. I already miss the two year old that I met in China. Toddlers are so much fun. I just want to freeze frame her like this.....

Izzy requested a "Princess Crown Cake" for her birthday. And thank God for Hobby Lobby and our sweet friend Sheri that made it for me.
Yes, Momma I am Batro. Her version of Quatro :) Too much of Dora around here.
She wouldn't let us sing Happy Birthday in Mandarin this year. She asked for the "American" song for her birthday. I'm thinking you want us to sing the Pledge of Allegiance???? She said "no, silly, the other American song.....Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you". Oh, of course. Silly me.
She loved her mosaic hand mirror that her Nini made her.
And I loved the mosaic cross Nini made us :)

"my new best friend Ava".... She doesn't understand the word cousin yet.
Of course every little girl needs her own pirate ship...
Hours of fun in this thing
"No, Daddy it's my turn"
Arhhh, Arhhh, Arhhh!!!!
Izzy and Jie Jie, Jessi.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aunt Izzy...... What??

Oh, yes. That's right. Izzy is going to be an Aunt. We've known for a few weeks, but the shock is finally wearing off to the point that we can now embrace the idea and are actually getting excited about it. Our daughter, Jessi is having a baby. She is due January 23rd. The only issue we're having now is that there is no way in the world we're old enough to be a grandparents. And the thought of being called Grandmother, Grandma, Gran, Maw Maw, Gramps, Paw Paw, Grandpa whatever.... is a bit hard to swallow right now. So, Rob and I are trying to figure out what the baby is going to call us. We've come up with a few things that to be honest sound quite ridiculous, but are so much better than Maw Maw and Paw Paw. And Izzy for some reason doesn't want to be called Aunt Izzy. She said the baby has to call her Isabella Ting Braniff or she isn't going to answer. Well, excuse us!!!
Never a dull moment at The Braniffs. Izzy is turning four next week, I'm pregnant myself (so to speak), Ryan is in boot camp and now Jessi is blessing us with a grandchild. Uh, is the glass half full??? You betcha !!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

He is faithful !

Well, I don’t know how this happened. When it happened. But it seems like all of a sudden (I know intelligently it wasn’t) but it seems like all of a sudden my baby boy is all grown up. From bottles to boot camp. I’m a little overwhelmed today at the thought of it. First of all, I’m missing my boy so bad. I didn’t even think that I would. Not really, I knew I would miss him just not this much. Right before he left he was being a bit, well… let me just be frank with you. He was driving me absolutely nuts. Rye is 18 which is the equivalent of a 15 year old girl. And let’s face it 15 year old girls can be just awful. When our daughter was 15 we thought for sure that either we would kill her or that she would kill us. It was certain. And we know how slowly boys mature, so Ryan had been acting like a hormonal, “the world is against me”,” my parents are stupid and don’t know anything”, “and I know everything” kind of a teenager. So, when we got the date for him to leave for boot camp it was bitter sweet. Part of me was excited that he was finally getting to do what he has dreamed about. What I had heard all about since Junior High. And part of me was relieved that he would finally go “grow up” a bit. I knew that when he left he would leave here a boy and he would come home a man and that sounded so good to me. And it still does, but today I’m missing my little boy. I miss opening the pantry door and fussing because he’s eaten everything that I bought at the grocery store the day before. Yes, I really miss that. I miss hunting through his room for dish towels and missing bowls and glasses. I must be losing my mind right now because I can’t even believe what I’m typing. Maybe I’m hormonal??? Oh, I’m sure this will pass. But today, I would love for him to have fallen asleep on my lap at church and drooled all over my skirt. Yep, I’m a goner!!!! :) Well, I had the great blessing of FINALLY hearing from him. Three weeks ago, he sent a letter to our house addressed to his girlfriend Kayla for me to deliver to her (She lives across the street). Then his dad called me to tell me that he got a letter for Father’s Day and read me the brief but really sweet note that he had sent him. So, I’m thinking my letter will be here any day now. A week goes by and I’m thinking “what am I, chopped liver?” I’m just his MOTHER, and he can’t even write me a letter. So I started brooding about it. Nine months I carried him around. Then I remembered, No, you didn’t just eight months. But I did lay in the bed in the hospital mind you for thirty days preterm labor. That should count for something. My feelings were hurt and I was getting pretty ticked off. Then I got a letter. FINALLY. And two days later I got a phone call and two days after that I got another letter. So, he was off the hook. What struck me so odd was that he sounded both in his letter and on the phone so completely different. In just a few weeks, he was a different person. It was “yes, Maam”, “no, Maam” to every question on the phone. The manners were just shocking. And the most incredible thing had happened to him as he explained to me “ I found God again, Mom”. When I read it, I just wept. Before Ryan left for boot camp, I couldn’t even get him to come to church. This hadn’t always been the case. He was raised in church. Came to know Jesus in seventh grade, the year I homeschooled him. He always went to church with us, especially when my husband became one of the pastors of our church. He was in the youth group, was in countless church programs, but in the last couple of years he had drifted away from church. Teenage years are tough. I wish that we could just skip them all together, but there is also so much that they and we have to learn through those times. And Ryan wasn’t always the kind of kid that got into a lot of trouble although in the last year he had been making up for it. Academically was another story. I have been in parent teacher conferences since kindergarten. Which really makes me crazy considering he took the ASVAB test for the military and scored exceptionally well. Go figure!! Anyway, it was the most incredible thing to hear him say that “He found God again”. Then he went on to say that he met some really awesome guys that he goes to church with on Sunday and that I would love the contemporary service, it’s really cool. And this just blew me away; he told me he was in a prayer group. A prayer group???? They meet every day and pray for each other. It’s what gets him through. Whoa…. was all I could say. Then in his second letter he told me that he thinks boot camp was an intervention or something like that for him. He said “I honestly think I was supposed to be here to turn my life around and I think it’s why I have embraced the Lord”. To hear my son say words like “embrace the Lord” is so foreign and bizarre, but it is so like our heavenly Father to blow our minds this way. Talk about turn things around. In my Beth Moore study of Esther we’d been studying divine reversals of destiny. And through the book of Esther there is a huge reversal of destiny for the Jews in Persia at that time. And not that Ryan was in the middle of some horrible situation that needed a drastic turn around. He was certainly tracking in the wrong direction. He may have only been a little off course, but it’s interesting to me that he knew it. At 18 he knew it. So, the Lord picked him up and turned him around and set Ryan’s focus back on Him. Wow, God is so good. He closed the letter with “Mom, it comes down to this… There is no power greater than His. No weapon stronger than His will. There is no Army stronger than His followers. No armor stronger than His love. With Him I will never falter and I will not fail. In Him, I am victorious.” I don't think there could have been any sweeter words. And I told him just that in the letter I immediately sat down and wrote to him. He couldn't have written those words about me and it been sweeter. If he had told me every wonderful thing I had done for him, it wouldn't have meant to me what those words did. I tried to pour the Lord into Ryan in the best way I knew and my God was faithful. All that I could think of was Proverbs 22 (I think it's 22) “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” and I cried.... again. That's happening a lot these days. And I thanked God for His faithfulness. He is faithful. His word says so and He has proven it to me time and again. And not that He owes it to me. He doesn't have to prove anything to me. It is the kindest, sweetest thing though for Him to show me. And this Mama needed it so badly.

It has not been easy to go from this sweet little boy

to this young man, but Wow, it is so worth it !! I know now how our heavenly Father feels about us when we finally "get it". His word says, that there is rejoicing in heaven when we come to know Him. And as much as I'm rejoicing as a Mama that Ryan has figured it out; there are a host of angels rejoicing in heaven. And that is beautiful to me. Who thought that boot camp would bring such a revelation to my son AND to me. I just thought he would go "grow up" a little. I didn't know that I would "grow up" a little too - spiritually speaking :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Your phone is full, lady !!!

That was the message from my I phone today when I synced it. Apparently, I haven't deleted anything from it since February. So, I started cleaning it out and I came across some of the funniest and strangest pictures.....

I guess I thought it was funny that she fell out in the middle of dinner.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Queen of England or so she thinks ...

Completely incensed that I don't think cookies are a good idea for dinner. I thought Raising Cane's for dinner was a great idea.

Her rendition of a Daddy long-legged spider :)

Manners out the window

Super Ducky !!!!
I have no idea ...

Izzy and Crash have been at war over that pink couch.....

I really think Crash is trying to make a point

Now, they're ganging up on her

Surgery on the mouse.... that was the week she wanted to be a doctor. This week she wants to be a cowgirl.