Bramell, Party of Five

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Future is Now for Springdale Students

#Ad Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, for which I have been compensated.
There’s something special going on in the Springdale School District, and as my children get older, I’ve started to pay a little more attention to it. I’d watched the recent construction of the new Don Tyson School of Innovation in east Springdale as we’ve traveled to soccer games, but didn’t know much about the school itself until recently. As it turns out, I have a friend whose children, Breana and Tanner, both attend classes there. I caught up with them last week to find out more about the campus and what it offers for their family.
The Don Tyson School of Innovation welcomed its first class in 2014, but opened a brand new campus this past fall. By 2018, it will house a full enrollment of 8th-12th graders. The school offers classes and programs that are project-based and focused on the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and math). Curriculum was developed by teachers and business leaders in order to have the students both college and career ready upon graduation, with students having the opportunity to earn concurrent college credit.
Our friends are a busy family with three active children. When the school announced its initial enrollment in 2014, Breana immediately signed herself up for classes. Her mom laughs because she never even saw the forms that were sent home! When younger brother Tanner had the chance, he decided to join his sister at DTSOI.
Here are some questions I had for the family.
What is your favorite thing about your school?
Breana: I like that we have a little more flexibility than traditional school. We have open classroom environments. We also get to travel to the junior high and high school for activities like sports, choir or band.
How does your experience compare with the more traditional school setting?
Breana:  The work is more self-paced here. We have more time when we need it.
What are some of the classes that you take?
Breana: Chemistry, History, English, Geometry and Entrepreneurship
Tanner: Physical Science, English, Math, Health, Careers and East
The Don Tyson School of Innovation is open to any 8th-12th grade student living in Arkansas. They offer on-site and online classes, or a combination of both.  The school is currently enrolling for next fall.
I know that I will be keeping my eye on the Don Tyson School of Innovation as an option for my kids in the future. I especially like that it offers the STEM focus, with fun areas of study like robotics and drone piloting. To find out more about the school, visit their website.
* Photos provided by Don Tyson School of Innovation

Monday, February 27, 2017

Can We Talk About...

...spring pictures at school?
  • Seriously, this has got to be one of the most stressful times for a mama. Tomorrow is our picture day and none of my children have pants that cover their ankles! Fall pictures aren't that bad because the clothes are new and still fit. Fast forward to late in the school year and growth spurts have kicked in. It wouldn't matter so much if they were only doing yearbook photos, but they are also taking class photos. I'm heading to the store this afternoon to buy Boy Twin some jeans because Lord knows if I don't, then he'll be sitting in the front row with his pants up to his shins for all the world to see. The girls will be wearing dresses because I don't have the time, energy or cash for a shopping spree right now. Anyone feel my pain? And don't even get me started on why they even take school pictures twice a year! Why?

...packing lunch boxes?
  • Totally over it. I'm tired of packing them and they're tired of eating them. They don't want anything we have in the cabinet, except for chips.

...everyone's favorite little Boston Terrier, Fergie?
  • You know how they say old dogs can't learn new tricks? Well, ours can! Lee has taught her what "kitty-cat" means. She will now run to the front window and prop her paws on the windowsill to look for the neighborhood cat. Our usually non-barker will also bark her head off when looking for the "kitty-cat." It's really funny. that are growing up too fast?
  • In light of the above mentioned growth spurt, Big Sis has asked that I take her shopping at Aeropostale. I blame You Tube. No more Children's Place for that girl, I guess. Sigh.

...Girl Scout cookies?
  • I was so excited that my girls wanted to join a troop this year! Yay! However, now I'm on the hook for delivering over 260 boxes of cookies next week. I suddenly realize how my mama felt all those years with mountains of cookie boxes stacked in our dining room. Oops.

I'm sure there are more things I'd like to rant about, but that's all the time I have now. Let me know what's on your mind, maybe we can do a collaborative list.  In the meantime, you can look at these cute, growing kids of mine.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Twin Tuesday: A Tale of Two Breakfasts

Even though these two shared a tight living space for nearly nine months, that's where most of the similarity ends. From the beginning, they have had their own quirks and habits that make them special.
For example, Girl Twin has always been the boss--and that hasn't changed. She could tell her brother what to do (and he'd do it), even before she could talk! Boy Twin has always been the more expressive one--fussing, crying or needing attention--where she reeks of quiet mischief. Remember, she's the one who has always been a hoarder of food and hider of things in the house. To this day, if something is missing, we all ask sister where she put it.
There is something else about them that made me chuckle the other day--their breakfast habits! I know, such an odd thing to notice. Girl Twin likes her breakfast. When the kids wake up, I usually go through the list of breakfast options for them: cereal, waffles, toast, fruit or Pop Tarts. Girl Twin likes her breakfast so much that she can't choose just one! She will often ask for cereal AND toast, or cereal AND a waffle. This may be one reason why I can't keep her in clothes that fit!
Boy Twin, on the other hand, can take it or leave it when it comes to breakfast. Where the girls want to eat as soon as they wake up, he will often wait until the last minute before school. On the weekends, he sometimes won't eat breakfast at all. You know, those days when you wake up late and it's past breakfast time but not yet lunch time....those are the hardest for Boy Twin. This happened one recent Saturday, where he didn't want breakfast when he got up. However, when it was time for me to make lunch, he freaked out. "But I didn't have breakfast yet," he cried. I told him that it was OK to skip breakfast and just go straight to lunch food. NO! He wasn't having any of that! So, at 11:30am, he had to eat a bowl of cereal before he would eat the lunch I made. Isn't that quirky?  Truth be told, he gets that from his daddy. :)
Do you know anyone with breakfast quirks, or is it just a Bramell thing? You should know that as I write this, Lee is eating a bowl of cereal at 11:05am. See? I told you he gets it from his dad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Twin Tuesday: Feel The Love

These two. I swear, sometimes I want to strangle them. Other times I want to put them in my pocket and keep them there forever. Just like any siblings, they fight and bicker a lot. They also love as fiercely as they fight; I suppose that's a good thing. One day they will realize just how lucky they are.

The other night, Boy Twin must have been doing some deep thinking during bath time. He came out into the living room and this happened:

Him: Mom, can twins be married?

Me: (confused) Do you mean to each other?

Him: Yes. Can me and Girl Twin get married?

Me:  No, baby. You cannot marry each other; you will grow up and find different people to marry.

Him:  (Deflated) Awwww, man!

I love his innocence. I love his heart. And I love that I have to repeatedly tell him that he can't marry his sister.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Recap and Reset: Hello 2017!

Happy New Year! As usual, I get refreshed after the holiday rush and feel like blogging again. The cobwebs are gone and I'm ready to face 2017; I mean, it's got to be better than 2016, right?
Since October, I've been participating in a (mostly) daily exercise in practicing gratitude with one of my friends from Arkansas Women Bloggers. How does that work? We exchange a daily email with a list of three items that we are thankful for that day. I tell you, I think it's really helped me keep things in perspective. Where I used to get down and angry about things, I'm now trying to stay focused on even the small, happy moments in every day. They are there, I promise. Sometimes you just have to look deep for them. I highly recommend having a gratitude partner and giving this exercise a try.
In December, I set a physical challenge for myself. I set a goal to walk at least 25 miles for the month--and I DID IT--thanks to inspiration from my friend Alicia at Simple Words By A, who has been smashing her own mileage goals. Because of the mild weather, I was able to do a lot of outside walking. On the cold days, I walked inside to my Leslie Sansone DVD.
The kiddos enjoyed their long break from school, no doubt. We spent a lot of time cooking, watching Christmas movies and crafting. Lots and lots of crafting. It's funny, actually. Big Sis is at that age where she wants to try ALL THE CRAFTS. We dabbled in coloring, painting, making rubber band bracelets, bead bracelets, latch hook, finger knitting scarves and cross-stitching over the break. Add to that list some very basic acoustic guitar lessons from You Tube. Mercy, that girl keeps me busy!
I've also mentally prepared myself for broken bones in 2017 for a Bramell or two. Due to Christmas, my children are now the proud owners of a trampoline, three pair of Heelys (shoes with wheels), a pogo stick and a Ripstik. That is surely asking for trouble, and I'm not sure what Santa was thinking!
All this to say that we survived a pretty rocky 2016 here in the Bramell house and we're ready to move on. Let's do this.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fun Music For Kids Makes a Great Holiday Gift

{Sponsored post}  Alright guys, I have to disclose the business first. I was given a CD from a Northwest Arkansas recording duo, momandpop, in exchange for my honest review on the blog. I was also given a second copy to give away to a lucky reader. (sponsored)

Momandpop are a husband-wife duo who live in nearby Eureka Springs, who have recently released their debut album. I have connected with Virginia (the mom) who was kind enough to send me a CD to let my kids try out. We've had it about a week now, and played it every time we've been in the car. My kids are BANANAS over this music!

It's actually kind of a funny story. My kids are ages 9, 6 and 6. When I first played the CD for them, the 9-year-old pretended to be too cool for "kid music." She said she didn't like it. Well, by 10 minutes into the CD, she was singing right along with the littles!
In short, we give this CD a glowing review. The lyrics are creative and catchy, and simple enough that we were singing along by the second chorus of each song. I personally appreciate the smart lyrics and punchy humor. We all have our favorites now, with these tracks being our top three:
1. A Week In the Life (the littles' choice)
2. Roy G. Biv (the big's choice)
3. Take Care (my choice)
I will be giving away a copy of this CD to one lucky person next week. To enter, please leave a comment on this post. Make sure you leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win. Deadline to enter is 5:00pm CT on Tuesday, December 13th. I will have it mailed to you before Christmas.
I've decided this CD would make a great stocking stuffer for any kid---it's not too late! I think it would also make a great gift for a teacher, especially in daycare/preschool/elementary school.
To read more about momandpop, visit their website here. And, here is the link to purchase their CD, with 13 tracks of upbeat, positive and fun music for the whole family. They are very active on their Facebook page, so you might want to check them out there, too.


Monday, October 31, 2016

This Mama's Heart

Last Thursday, sitting in Big Sister's gymnastics class, I almost lost my mind. I had an overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to just ball up and cry. Yes, right there in the gym.
I'm not sure when exactly this nine-year-old grew up on me, but I just noticed it. Right then and there. BAM! It hit me as I watched her nail round offs, one after the other. My clumsy, awkward little girl suddenly is graceful and growing legs for days. 
This kid. She is so smart, strong, beautiful and confident; and she doesn't even know it. I watched in awe of her with tears in my eyes. She has the world at her fingertips, and she doesn't even know it yet. Every decision she makes from today forward will shape her heart and her life ahead, and she doesn't even know it. The sky's the limit with this girl, and I've got to figure out how to help her understand that.
This kid. For years, I've urged her to try new things, speak up and not shy away from talking to new people. I can't really blame her because I was just like her as a kid. But now I know how much I missed out on because of my shyness; I don't want that for her. She shocked us when she told us last week that she'd auditioned for a part in the school program next month. Not just that--a speaking part AND a singing part! Hello? What? Since I didn't have the courage to do that until I hit my senior year in high school, it seems that she is already many miles ahead of me at that age.
This kid. Maybe it's all in the approach. I stopped putting my expectations on her, and just let her be in charge of herself. She's doing great in school, makes friends easily, looks after her siblings and knows what she wants to do. I guess I'll just shut up and hold on tight.
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