Bramell, Party of Five

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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Do It For Your Family, Do It For Yourself....Just Do It!

We are about to get personal here, so get ready.
October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As many of you know, I worked for the American Cancer Society for seven years, so I came to know professionally and personally how important this month is for a woman's health.
Today, let's talk about mammograms.  The American Cancer Society, and my own physician, recommends that healthy women with no family history of breast cancer start getting annual mammograms at age 40. Actually, I had my first one at age 36 because my doctor wanted some images on file to compare with, when I did turn 40. I've just had my third mammogram this year.
Let me address the reputation of mammograms. I've always heard that they are painful and most women dread having one done. In my experience, this annual visit is no more unpleasant than a routine trip to the dentist. I've never dreaded it, or had a painful experience. Granted, with all the tugging and smashing, I'm sure it's a little more unpleasant for my smaller-chested friends. Bonus for the big-boobed ladies, I guess!
The whole mammogram visit literally takes about 20 minutes. It's over and done, with results coming in the mail about a week later. Better to get checked out than avoid it and have to find out about a problem when it's too advanced.
Which leads me to my next point. DO NOT PUT IT OFF! Ladies, I beg you. My sweet mother-in-law went for her very first mammogram when she was the ripe old age of 70. Yes, SEVENTY! And guess what they found? Breast cancer. She told me once that she never had a mammogram sooner because she didn't think she needed one. She battled that cancer on and off for seven years, before it finally got the best of her. I can't help but wonder if her quality of life would have been better if she'd had regular mammograms.
Here's one thing I learned from my work at ACS; mark your calendar for every October. Start your mammograms now, this month, so you will never forget. Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the month of your mammogram. Do it now, for your loved ones and for yourself. If you are afraid, call me; I will go with you.
Here is a great article called 7 Things to Know About Getting a Mammogram, that will tell you what you need to prepare for.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rockstar Kids

OK, let me be honest here. This is really a "back to school" post, but it's mid-October, and that would just be embarrassing at this point.

So, let me tell you about the kids' annual doctor visit yesterday instead. The doctor pointed out to me that we hadn't been in the clinic since our last checkup in September of 2015. Y'all. That's a whole year without seeing the doctor. I'm shocked and amazed. Then he proceeded to tell me that people with more kids are usually just too busy and tend to let the kids ride out their sickness. I'm sure I'm more guilty of that than them being well for a year. Ain't nobody got time to run to the doctor for every sore throat. 

They all checked out just fine, all in good health and growing like weeds. Then, this happened.

Before the appointment, I talked to them about the flu shot. In the past, they've always gotten the flu mist, but I knew that our clinic was no longer going to offer that option. Only the needle. So, I explained the vaccine--I gave them the pros and cons. I didn't take a position and let them make their own choice. By the time we got there, Big Sis and Boy Twin were on board with the shot. Surprisingly, Girl Twin conceded by the end of the appointment. They all chose to get the shot--without my encouragement---on their own. The doctor, nurses and I were all shocked. They took the shots like champs and never even flinched.

Now, if it will just do its job we'll all be happy. 

And here are those first day of school pictures that I promised, from August. :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Twin Tuesday Returns!

Twin Tuesday is here again! Isn't it great?

The kids turned six over the summer and are in the full-swing of first grade now. Which reminds me....I owe you a birthday post and a first day of school post. Since this is how my kids will have a record of their past, I don't want to forget these important ones. Did you know that I print out a book each year from the blog? It's my version of their memory books, that they will have to keep (or burn) when they are all grown up.  But I digress...

Boy Twin:
  • He's playing soccer and coach pitch baseball this fall--and doing great at both! We are so proud of him and how hard he tries at both sports. He is not ready yet to choose one over the other, so we are hanging in there for both.
  • He's doing great in school and seems to enjoy it a lot. Reading seems to be his strong area right now.
  • He is never, ever still. This kid will run, run, run all the time. They both come home from school and immediately go outside to play and ride bikes.

Girl Twin:

  • Oh, this girl is a hoot! Every day I find a selfie or a video on my phone that she's made. She is telling jokes or giggling all the time. It's funny that she's so happy because she was such a cranky toddler. (shhh!)
  • This one totally goes to school for the social life. She doesn't tell us much about her day, usually. We have to find out from her teacher that she had to move seats for talking in class! She loves her friends so much, and wants to be friends with everyone.
  • She is back in gymnastics and still loving it. Again, maybe for the social activity. But she is making great progress, too.

This is my favorite photo of them from our beach vacay this summer. Also, another post I need to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Well, hi there! Look who's come out of the fog>>>>>>>ME! It sure has been a while, and I'm ready to dust off the cobwebs and blog again. Pardon me, but I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Ten months of being unemployed tends to do that to a person, I guess.

If I'm being totally honest here, I've just been down. I don't want to write when I'm down, and there's been nothing worth writing about.

I spent the last 10 months applying for, and being rejected from, more jobs than I can count. I'm not joking. I quit counting after 45. I sat through interviews that I thought I nailed, only to find out they hired "a candidate better qualified for the job." Friends, through my top-notch investigative skills, I can tell you that means someone younger and prettier (and, in several cases, with less experience). Yes, I have hit middle age. Yes, it sucks.

In the meantime, I did a lot of substitute teaching to keep my mind sharp. I fell in love with some Pre-K kids that I colored with, read stories to and helped put together puzzles. I got lots of hugs, high fives and beautiful artwork given to me.

I also got to spend all summer with my own children! When has that ever happened? NEVER. I'd like to say it was glorious, and it mostly was, but the summer of 2016 was not our best. I can sum it up with two words, basically: HEAD LICE. Y'all. It was awful. For 30 days, yes THIRTY, we washed, combed and picked for hours and hours. All three kids and myself were infected. We cancelled a lot of summer plans, sleepovers and play dates. It pretty much sucked.

There were some bright parts of the summer---vacation--that I'll share in another post. But, mostly, our summer was a bummer. Alas, blogging was not to be.

Fast forward to now: I have two jobs through contract work, allowing me to work from home. Kids are doing great in school. Summer is behind us, and I think my creative juices are flowing again. Welcome back, my friends. I hope you keep coming back for more.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Cure For Summer Boredom {sponsored}

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.

Here we are now, about a month into summer vacation. If your kids are like mine, you've gotten to the point where the excitement is starting to die down. I'm starting to hear grumblings of "I'm bored," and I'm having to work a little harder to keep them entertained. 

Lucky for us, The Jones Center has a few ideas to help us out. In case you missed it, The Jones Center has been hosting Free Movie Nights for a while, but the June schedule is particularly strong. I'm sure a new schedule will be coming out soon, but here's the one that runs this week, Thursday through Saturday. All movies are free and suitable for all ages. Call ahead or check their website if you have questions.

The Jones Center has just recently announced a new activity that is sure to get parents and kids alike excited. I know we are! We've been spending a lot of time this summer at The Jones Center at gymnastics and swimming in the pool. Now, we have a new option just for the kids!

First Friday Kids Night is a new addition to the activities at The Jones Center. This sounds like like every kid's dream: games, inflatables, pizza and a movie! For a family with three kids, I'm thrilled that it's so affordable to us. It's $15 per kid for the first kid and only $10 each additional kid (price is slightly higher for non-members). What a great way for mama and daddy to enjoy a date night! The bonus is that my kids already love The Jones Center and will have no reservations about hanging out there without us for a while. Speaking of reservations, make sure you make yours in time to save a spot for your kids. Here's all the info you need below, or click the link:

Remember, if you aren't a member of The Jones Center yet, I highly recommend you check it out. It's a great value and they have a ton of activities and amenities available for all ages.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rest and Recovery

I've just reached the five-month mark of unemployment. That is surely something I never thought would happen. Let it be known that I'm still actively looking, but haven't found the right thing for me yet.

Now, if you know me well, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I am freaking out right about now, with a capital F. However, I'm really not. I'm really OK with waiting for the right job to come along; I don't want to settle and be unhappy.

What's interesting is that, over the past few months, I've seen a few friends that I don't see often. Each one commented to me in some way that I "look so relaxed" and seem so "refreshed and not stressed out." This really got me thinking about how I usually appeared to people--friends and strangers. Yes, I know I was uptight, stressed out, overworked and tired all the time. And guess what ? Now I AM NOT! I think I needed this break more than I could have imagined possible, and now I'm thankful for it. In 20 years, I've only had extended time off for having babies--and we all know that's no time to relax!!

Sure, there were some things that had to change due to tightening the budget, but it has all worked out.

1. We had to cancel our scheduled Spring Break trip to the Smoky! BUT, we got to spend a few days in Yellville with Lee's brothers and sister, who we rarely see. In fact, we had 15 people packed in the house and shared a lot of food, laughs and funny stories. The kids enjoyed seeing Uncle Rob's animals, riding the ATV, playing with little Pugsley and taking a hike around the Buffalo River.  Here are a few pics that I borrowed from Lee and his sister, Dee.

2. I got to be home for my kids. I've been home when they get off the bus, which gives us extra afternoon hours to play, watch movies, take walks and do homework before dinner.  I got to volunteer at their school, help with classroom parties and eat lunch with them, which would have been difficult if I was working. I've been able to get to all the 5:30 ball games without having to rush from work. What a blessing!

3.  I hate winter! And you know what? This winter, I didn't have to get out in it traveling back and forth to work. I got to stay home in my sweat pants. So, there.

4.  I was able to substitute teach in Springdale during April and May, which helped our bank account and helped me exercise my brain a little. I made some new teacher friends and spent many days with some sweet little pre-K kids that stole my heart.

5.  We had to delay putting new carpet in the house until later this year, but even that's OK, too. 

6. I got to attend a Moms on the Farm tour, which I've always wanted to do. The tours are always on weekdays, which is hard for a working gal. Even better, my mom was visiting and got to go with me! We had a blast and enjoyed the tours so much; we went to an operational dairy farm and a beef farm. If you are in Northwest Arkansas, I highly recommend this fun, free and educational activity.

In case you're wondering, I've had a couple of really promising interviews recently. I'm waiting to hear if I get called back for additional interviews or an offer. Stay tuned! I may be working soon, or I may be spending the summer at home going on adventures with my monkeys.

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