Bramell, Party of Five

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Take the Opportunity to Give

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Arkansas Children’s to support the 2018 Festival of Stars toy & donation drive. I am helping promote the statewide event as part of a paid promotional partnership. However, all opinions are my own.

With the busyness of the holiday season in full swing, I want to take a minute to offer up a simple way to share some goodness in your community. The Festival Of Stars toy drive for Arkansas Children's Northwest in Springdale will be next Friday, December 14. That means you have just over a week to run out and purchase a new gift or toy for a child who needs a brighter Christmas this year. There is a particular need for items for babies and teens, though gifts for all ages are collected. 

In Springdale, the collection will take place from 7am until 6pm, at the new hospital on Gene George Boulevard, just west of I-49. There will be hot cocoa, holiday music, snacks and special guests for people to enjoy when they stop to make donations on site.

Our family has a yearly Advent calendar that includes special activities and acts of kindness listed to complete each day. Many of our activities include an aspect of giving to others during this month. It's an easy way to help my kids understand that the holiday season is about so much more than them being on the receiving end of gifts. We donate to little free libraries, bell ringers and food pantries during this time. A toy drive makes a great addition to the list! 

Unwrapped toys collected on December 14 will be given to patients and their families who are staying in the hospital on Christmas. There are drop-off locations all over the state, and an online donation site for those who prefer to make a financial donation. Here are just some of the things that your monetary donation can help with:

In this season of giving, I encourage you to find something that makes your heart happy to support. Let us all remember others who are in need of a little holiday cheer.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Memory Lane

Today I'm participating in the #CheersToStorytelling Challenge with my blogging friends. Now, I know you are probably shocked to see a new blog post from me. Go ahead and pick yourself up off the floor.

For now, I'm going to share a story about the WHY and HOW I started this blog way back in 2007. I am what you might call a grandmother in blogging years--ELEVEN!! When we started, I'm pretty sure nobody read the blog except for my mother, bless her heart. Through this wonderful world of internet networking, I've come to meet and adore so many new people that I'm so thankful for in my life.

The original name of the blog was (creatively) named The Bramell Family Blog. (I know, I know.) The blog name is now Bramell, Party of Five so that should tell you a lot has changed. My husband and I actually created the blog together just about a week before our first baby was born. We did it as a platform for our large extended family, who is scattered around the country, to keep up with news and photos of our small growing family here. Oh, if I'd only known then what I know now....right???

I just took a look back to be reminded that the first few posts were actually written by Lee, which I totally love. We were so excited about the baby's arrival (aka now Big Sis). I'm including the first photo we ever posted, too.  It's a photo of our Boston Terrier, Fergie. Sadly, we lost her earlier this year, just shy of her 12th birthday.

This is also where I tell you that I'm likely the last old-school Blogger holdout in the universe. I have not made the switch to WP, and I'm not sure that I will. Mainly, because I'm not sure how much life this 'ol journal has left it in. My life is different now, I'm different now, and eleven years is a long time. I guess we'll see. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fran's Curried Chicken

This post has been swimming around in my head for a long time, so I thought now would be a good time to get it out there. It's really kind of funny, and won't surprise anyone who knows me, that I don't eat this meal. Yes, I'm sharing this recipe on my blog. And no, I don't cook it or eat it myself. Crazy, right?!

This family favorite is Francena's famous curried chicken. This is the meal that my husband's mother loved to cook for him. This is also the first recipe of hers that he asked me to cook after she passed away.....and I couldn't do it. I just don't like the smell of curry!

So, this recipe I'm sharing belonged to a very special lady. She was my mother-in-law and she loved to cook. I love that we have a big binder full of her handwritten recipes that we will always treasure. I love that you can see a dirty grease stain on the bottom of the card. I love that we make this recipe using Fran's old, well-worn giant stock pot to boil the chicken. I love that her other grown children also have a copy and make this recipe for their families, too. I love that every time we cook this meal, it sparks a conversation about grandma with the kids. Food really does have some nostalgic power sometimes.

In my house, my husband Lee cooks this meal. He loves it, and all of our children love it. I hope that some of you guys will love it, too.

The recipe is really pretty simple, and doesn't involve a lot of ingredients. Don't let the prep time scare you off; it doesn't have to take that long. We choose to boil a whole chicken and make another meal with the extra meat, but you could definitely cut down on cooking time by using a deli rotisserie chicken. Also, her version was always served over white rice, but we found that it works well to just mix it together into one pot, too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My High-Tech Day

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit and its partners, NWA Tech Council and the Greater Bentonville area Chamber of Commerce. I was invited to attend this conference in exchange for social media promotion of the event. All opinions are my own and recollections of the event are reflective of my experience.

I recently attended the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, which was held at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers. You may have noticed my Facebook and Twitter accounts blowing up with information during that time. This was my second time to attend, where I was able to learn about technology in the workplace and to share what I learned on social media.

I was not surprised to find out that the attendance for the event has grown from 400 to 1500; it was obvious looking around the main ballroom that people were excited to be there. This year, organizers even added two days to the event, to include a day targeted to women professionals in tech and another day labeled as a makers summit.

I particularly enjoyed the morning keynote presentation by Michael Troiano, who is the VP-IoT, of AT&T Business Solutions. He shared some interesting figures that really got me thinking about how technology, and specifically the internet, have such a big role in everyday life. In our personal lives, we are connected not only through our phones, TVs and cars, but now we are able to control our thermostats and view our home security systems when we aren’t home. City governments are improving efficiency by doing things like providing some workers with Wi-Fi in work vehicles and controlling street lights.

Troiano told us of a study that says by 2020, there will be more than 35 billion devices connected to the internet. Guys, that’s four times the number of people in the whole world! Can you imagine? 

As I looked through the agenda (online, of course!), I found it really hard to choose which breakout sessions I wanted to attend. Now, more than ever, I realize that it’s important for me to keep learning new things to improve my job skills and be more marketable as a potential employee.

One of the sessions I attended was a panel discussion led by three women in the tech field. They each spoke about their careers, how they came to them and how they continue to change. The women stressed the importance of getting girls interested in technology early in life. In fact, studies have shown that girls are equally as interested in technology gaming, building and designing as boys are. Girls do think math is fun and cool, despite the old stereotype we know. The problem is that at a certain age, most girls decide that they don’t want to show that enthusiasm or interest in math in front of boys. One of the panelists said this is a reason that some schools are starting to separate classrooms so that boys and girls won’t be distracted or influenced by the other. I’m not sure my opinion on this, but it’s certainly worth reading about.

I had a great experience at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit this year. I’m super proud that I have so many friends involved in the planning of the event, and who support the event. I’m even more proud of the girlfriends I have in the technology field. They are all doing important work and being strong role models for girls just like mine.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Is...

Kansas City Fun

Grammy Camp

Moving Day for Family! 

Birthday Celebration 

Birthday Kids: Look Who Turned SEVEN!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Welcome To My House (sing it)

We are deep in the heart of summer break here at the Bramell house. In a nutshell, it looks like this: school is out, bedtime is late and the house is a wreck. And with the exception of my birthday beach trip, it sure beats the heck out of last summer (battle of the head lice).

As an adult, "summer" has always just meant hot weather to me. I've always been envious of my children, work from home folks and those professionals who get an extended summer break from work. However, this marks the second summer that I've been home with my kids and now I see the light. Sure, it's mostly great, but there is a lot of not-so-great that comes with it. You might be wondering:

  • The constant slamming of doors as the kids run in and out ALL DAY LONG. It's like Saturday, but every day.
  • The never-ending demands for food! With so many kids, someone is always hungry. I did not sign up to be a short order cook for three meals a day. Nuh-uh.
  • Hearing the cries of boredom. Why?! Why?! With a house (and yard) full of trinkets and toys, why is there never anything to do? I would LOVE to be that bored. Cry me a river, kiddo. 
  • The noise level in my home. In addition to the TV and other electronics, there are usually one or two extra neighborhood kids over throughout the day. While I appreciate the kids who keep my kids entertained, the noise level just wears me out.
  • Because I'm home, I notice the chores that need to be done. When I was working in an office, I didn't see the dirty dishes or pile of laundry all day. Now I just spend too much time doing chores when I should be doing work I'm paid to do.

Family Day at the Bramell house with a visit from some of our favorites! 

All of this bellyaching to come to this's summer. If you come to our house, know that it will be messy and loud. But the good news is that you will have plenty to eat and lots of kids to play with. And, if you get too bored, you can help me with chores. It may not be the perfect summer around here, but it's pretty darn close.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wonder(ful) Woman Indeed

We took the family out to see the new Wonder Woman movie this week. As I sat  there in the theater next to my kiddos, we were all wiggly with excitement. Within the first half hour, I knew I was going to deal with some major feelings this movie was stirring around in me. And I sure didn't expect that. Now that I've had a couple of days to process my thoughts, I'm ready to share. 
First, I promise no spoilers. I watched enough episodes of Wonder Woman as a kid to know her history, but I wasn't sure how the filmmakers could make it updated and realistic. Done. Also, Gal Gadot was a perfect choice for the role. Of course, one cannot deny her beauty, but also cannot deny her healthy, strong and muscly body appearance. She's no frail waif of a princess. Right on.
I never wanted to stand up and cheer in a theater as much as I did during her first real fight scene. Without giving too much away, she was being escorted through the front lines of a war zone. She saw women and children crying for help in the midst of explosions and dead bodies. The men with her seemed cold and blind to the sight, content to press on toward their business at hand. She, however, called them out on their BS. She said, "This is wrong and I will fight for them." And she did, while the men watched, and I was teary  the entire 10 minutes. I couldn't help but think of the symbolism, while intended or not, that she represents so many women who keep fighting through BS every day to get their job done. It might be at home, in a workplace or in fighting for the rights of others. Instead of walking away, she fought because she believed. She stood her ground, and that is what I sat there and hoped my kids were understanding.
If you don't know, this movie is about a princess. But she definitely doesn't need a man to rescue her. The men clearly followed her lead, even though they didn't understand her motivation or her thought process. I haven't seen a movie like this in a long time, maybe ever. This is the kind of role model I want for my girls. The entire movie, she said (and showed) in many ways: YES I CAN, YES I WILL and I'M IN CHARGE.  She was strong, determined and confident. My response to this? More, please!! We need to see more movies just like this. Women can save the world, too!
After the movie ended, I questioned my girls a little bit to see if they picked up on some of the themes. I told them how rare it is to have a strong, female hero in a movie. And on top of that, this movie has a female director, which I told them was also rare in Hollywood. I don't think the importance of it really clicked with them, but they are young. One day I hope there won't be a need to have that discussion with them, that it will be a non-issue in the world.
I've been asked a few times if the movie is appropriate for kids, since it has a PG-13 rating. I will say that we probably let our kids slide on PG-13 more than we should, but this one is totally fine. There is no foul language at all, and the rating is likely for the war/fighting/battle scenes. This movie gets a big 10 thumbs up from my family.
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