Monday, November 16, 2015

I Think I Might Be "Tech People" After All!

Last Tuesday, I attended the 2015 Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, presented by the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce and the NWA Tech Council. When I first heard about the event, I was sure that it was not a place for me. My mental image was that of people with pocket protectors and social skills akin to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. File me under "prone to stereotyping" again.  (shame)
The event was very well organized and full of more information than my non-techy self could process. It was great in every way! I was exposed to so many new ideas and lots of things that apply to my life: professionally, as a blogger and as a consumer. 
Nearly 1,000 people were able to come together and learn from people who are getting it right when it comes to blending technology with their businesses. People were welcoming and encouraged questions and offered explanations. I was able to join a group of my fellow Northwest Arkansas bloggers to help promote the event on social media in real time, which was also fun.
Professionally, I knew that I could take away some things that would certainly help me in my daily marketing duties...and boy, did I! Mainly, as much as the world has gone to digital and online shopping, there is still a place for brick & mortal retail in the world. People may go into a store only to pull up an item on their phone to purchase, or check out an item in person before they buy online. It's still our job, as sales professionals, to provide excellent customer service to earn the customers' trust and make them want to buy from us.
Customer service is universal in any business; in person and online.
Another big takeaway for me? The job opportunities! This gave me such hope for my kids' future! I got even more affirmation to challenge, encourage and show them the value of technology in their lives now and in the future. I want my kiddos to embrace it and go toward it. The possibilities are unlimited and will continue to grow as they do.  
Here are a few of my tweets from the presentations at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit.

The event will be coming back in 2016, so watch for information if you missed this one and might want to check it out! If I can learn from it, you can too! Let me know and I'll save you a seat.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What Does Leadership Look Like For Kids?

I am participating in a monthly awareness campaign with my fellow bloggers and friends in the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. Each month, we have a selected topic of focus to learn about, discuss and share with our readers. This month the focus is on leadership; particularly women in leadership roles and/or politics.
At this stage in my life, I think a lot about what leadership means in the eyes of my daughters. I want them to think, and to know, that they can do and be anything that they can imagine. I try hard to be a good example to them and to encourage them in every way. I want to introduce them to strong women who are doing good things in the world.
My older daughter is in third grade. I look around at the things she's already being taught in school, and I know she's way ahead of where I was at her age. Her school administration preaches the ideal of "I can't YET" instead of saying "I can't," when things seem difficult. It's written on banners in the school hallways and often recited aloud in the classrooms. I absolutely love this! So much so, that I find myself saying it at home when the kids want to quit or give up on a project, homework, a game, etc.
To me, that is perfect leadership. A leader is never a quitter.

Leadership didn't come easy to me, either. I was a shy kid. Like, super shy. I didn't really get my sea legs until the middle of college, when I was living in a house with 60 other dramatic young women. That will do it to you, for sure. I see a whole lot of myself in Big Sis: she's quiet, shy and just kind of blends in with the other kids. Gradually, she's getting more involved and interested in things at school and certainly in helping others.
This school year, Big Sis has joined Girls on the Run. It's an after school club for 3rd-5th grade girls, where they spend time learning about self esteem, self control, confidence and leadership. After the lesson, the girls hit the track to train for a 5K at the end of the semester. First, I'm thrilled that the school sees the importance of such a program that works on the mind, soul and body. Second, I'm beyond thrilled that Big Sis chose to be a part of it on her own, without my prodding! The 5K is coming up next weekend and I'm going to be her buddy runner.
Big Sis has learned so much as part of this group. In addition, it's given us the opportunity to talk about their lessons at home and lets me affirm to her how important all of these things are in her life.
To me, this is another example of perfect leadership. Girls need to know early that everything they do is important, whether it's related to their personal health or in the way they treat others. Affirmation = Confidence = Leadership. Right?
Here is a worksheet she brought home from Girls on the Run a couple of weeks ago. I want to frame it or maybe just hang it on the fridge...or on a billboard.
Just like any mom, I want my baby girls to grow up to be great. I want to see them be successful and happy, above all else. I can't wait to see what their future holds...stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That One Time We Went to the World Series!!!

Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing when a husband and wife share the same interests. You never know, it just might lead to a spontaneous mid-week road trip!
But first, let me start at the beginning. You see, I’ve loved baseball my whole life. In a state that bleeds St. Louis Cardinals red, I grew up rooting for the Atlanta Braves with my daddy, mainly because all of their games were broadcast on TBS. Easy access, you know. I was a fan way before Chipper Jones took the team to the top…back in the heyday of Dale Murphy, Ron Gant, David Justice, Fred McGriff and Brian Jordan. Oh, and I loved me some nutty John Rocker.
I was the girl who sat alone in the sorority house basement watching baseball playoffs in the mid-90s when the Braves were killing it.
Before inter league play, I barely knew there was an American League.
Fast forward some years when I met a guy who didn’t speak my language. You see, my boyfriend was an AL guy. Sheesh.  I even took him to St. Louis to a Cards/Braves game on one of our first dates, hoping to convert him. And what happened surprised us all…
I married him anyway and he converted me. It took some time, but I think I’ve turned into an AL gal. This guy who stole my heart also took me to Kansas City, to the most beautiful baseball stadium, to introduce me to his favorite team. Over the past 12 years, we’ve sat through opening day temps below freezing, we’ve been to games with more ushers than butts in the seats and we’ve dragged our three kids to a game that was standing room only (NEVER AGAIN).
Even better, we attended the 2012 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in Kansas City, which has definitely been the sports highlight of my life thus far. This was also Chipper’s final All-Star game, and I might have cried through most of it, but I can’t say for sure.
I might be a girl, but after getting to the All-Star Game, the biggest remaining thing on my bucket list was to get to a World Series game. I’m sure that we would have laughed if anyone had suggested, even five years ago, that the KC Royals would be in the WS, which would give me the most logistically convenient path to attending a World Series game. 
Being the most excellent wife that I am, I bought AL playoff tickets for Lee in 2014, because I knew he’d waited almost 30 years to see “his team” end their cycle of loserness. I was also happy to cheer them on, but I wanted him to soak in the moment. I gave up my ticket for mommy duty (regret), and he took off to enjoy a couple of days in KC gorging on baseball and BBQ.
So, when fate took the Royals back to the Series this year, we knew we had to get ourselves there. We debated all through the playoffs—to go or hold off for the WS?  We held off, in hopes that we could get a hold of some tickets—beg, borrow, steal or take out a bank loan. We talked ourselves into heading to KC for Game 1 vs. the Mets, but changed our minds last minute due to the awful weather forecast. Of course, this ended up being the game that went FOURTEEN INNINGS.  Sigh. Oh well. We made arrangements for childcare and I took two days off work so we could head to Game 2, WITHOUT TICKETS.  What???  I know, probably the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done, but so glad we did.
We got to KC in time to have a little tailgating time with several thousand other blue-clad, die-hard fans, most of them already having tickets in hand. Once our burgers were finished, with a pocket full of cash, we started the walk to the stadium in hopes that someone would have mercy on us. Let's just say, that mission was not accomplished. You see, the poor, down-trodden, overlooked Kansas City Royals from the past are none of that anymore. They are champions and the fans have multiplied! There were easily another several hundred other people with the same idea as us, and as unlucky as us. Nobody was selling tickets at all. We hung out until after the second inning then took off toward home. We stopped along the way to watch the game and have dinner and talk about what might have been.
We aren't sorry that we tried. We had a lovely adventure together and used the long ride home to plan our ticket procurement strategy for next year. Challenge accepted.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Conversation With My Kids

I realize that I haven't written a post in over a month. I guess things got a little crazy at the Bramell house in October. The twins took their first kindergarten field trip and got their first report cards, then Halloween! There's a lot to catch up on.  All in good time...but first:
On the way to school the other day, Girl Twin wanted to talk about music.
Her: Sometimes songs on the radio make me cry.
Me:  Why?
Her: They are so beautiful, I cry.
Me:  Which ones? (I really wanted to know!)
Her:  Not the jammin' ones. Just the ones that sound like whistling.
OK then.
That girl. Sometimes she's still such a baby, and sometimes, she's so grown up. I am glad that she appreciates the beauty and emotion in music, even if she couldn't really articulate it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For the Love of Books

I recently spent some time with a staff member at the Ozark Literacy Council of Washington County. The gentleman actually called on me for a work-related meeting, but we ended our visit with my education about the organization and what they do for our community.
Since September is National Literacy Month, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to share what I learned. I was surprised to hear that the Ozark Literacy Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and it's the oldest council in the entire state. They primarily have focused on the education of adults, both native English speakers and ESL students, but are now seeing the increased need for addressing literacy in a "family approach." Tutors at OLC can teach basic reading skills or even with a specialized focus on reading for job applications, health or banking literacy.
I've also learned that more than 36 million adults in America cannot read, which is really a shocking statistic. This week is being recognized as Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to raise public awareness of the problem we face in our country. In addition, Friday, September 25th, is the national annual giving day that encourages people in the community to make a donation or even sign up to volunteer as a tutor at their local literacy organization. Please consider helping out in any way that you can.
The services that OLC provides are free. Ozark Literacy Council can be reached at 479-521-8250 or if you need help learning to read, want to make a donation or if you would like to volunteer some time to helping others.

My favorite super reader!

I have been reading for as long as I can remember; it has always been one of my favorite things to do. I am fortunate that my children also have the same passion for books as I do. In fact, the annual book fair is going on at school this month (Coincidence? Maybe not). The kids have pulled out the flyer and put an X on nearly every book for us to purchase. I think books are definitely our thing--and Shopkins--but that's for another blog post.

Happy Reading, y'all!  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

#ad It's Funday Sunday Time! {sponsored post}

This is a sponsored post. I am currently serving as a blog ambassador for The Jones Center, who has compensated me for such. The photos and opinions are real, and are my own. This is a reflection of my family's personal experience as members of the facility.

If you need some fun entertainment for your family this weekend, I have the perfect suggestion for you! This Sunday, September 20th, is Funday Sunday at The Jones Center in Springdale. This is the day that the community can visit and use selected amenities for FREE!
Funday Sunday is a monthly event at The Jones Center, and activities vary from month to month. The designated activities for September are FREE skating at the ice rink and FREE access to the swimming pool. As you know, my family has spent a lot of time doing both of these activities over the past year.
I can't say enough good things about The Jones Center and all of the fun family activities that they provide for our community. If you've never been, I encourage you to visit on a Funday Sunday, or any other time when you only have to pay a small access fee. The membership fee is really reasonable, too. Fitness classes are even included in the cost!
If you can't make it this weekend, there are two more chances to attend Funday Sunday this year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

School Is Cool

This week marks the 4th week of school for my kids, so I thought it would be a good time for a quick update on how it's been going.
For me: It's going surprisingly well. This mama shed no tears at all when the littlest ones went off for their first day in the big, scary school. This was a relief, after spending all summer in a tizzy about the "to separate, or not to separate" internal tug-of-war concerning the twins. I discussed it so much with them, that when drop off day finally came, I hardly even  got a wave from either of them. I comforted myself knowing that they could play together at recess every day to soothe their lonely, broken, separated hearts. HA! That lasted all of ONE DAY. For real, I've asked them every single day if they play together at recess--and every single day the answer is "No." So, what shall I worry about now?
For Boy Twin: After the 3rd day of school, he retreated to the couch to cry every morning because he didn't want to go to school. His complaint: "School is too long. Why do we have to go EVERY day?" That pity party didn't last long when I told him that's the rules and I don't make the rules. Why else would I go to work every day? For fun?  By the 3rd week of school he was excited to tell us about all the new words that he'd learned to spell in kindergarten; words like "P.E." and "D.J." (his new friend in class). 'Atta boy!  Also, not to brag or anything, but he's been blowing me kisses every morning as he walks up the sidewalk to school. I'm sure the other moms understand and are not mad at all that we hold up the drop off line every day.
For Girl Twin: This girl is like a steel vault; she won't give us any information about what she's doing or learning in class. Either she's really bored, or she is running the show and doesn't want us to know it. (I think I know which.)  Either way, we are thrilled that she has the same teacher that Big Sis had in Kindergarten! It's a little different, though, because she is teaching a K/1st split class this year due to enrollment being high in both grades. Yes, the class is half kindergarten and half first grade. Girl Twin is doing great in there and we're excited to see her learning. I guess hanging out with the first graders is really advancing her skills because last week she told me: "2 + y = 30" in a very factual manner. I had no idea they were learning algebra already! She also instructed me to stop putting "love notes" in her lunch box, which nearly broke my heart.
Big Sis:  This girl is loving 3rd grade. She's in the class with some of her favorite kids, and seems to be doing great. This year, they have to read five chapter books per quarter and be tested on each one for a reading grade. Challenge accepted! The kid just finished her 3rd book last night. Now, if we can get her that fired up about math...
We are in a great place right now. We love our school, love all of our teachers and love learning all the new things. There is a strange peaceful feeling in our home that I haven't felt before. Is this what it feels like to not have babies anymore? Big kids rock!
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