Bramell, Party of Five: August 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

When was the last time YOU did something important?

Friends, I want to take a minute to let you know about this amazing opportunity we have coming up in Northwest Arkansas to do something BIG.  I mean, something really important.  Actually, something that could have historical impact.  Interested yet?

First, a little self-disclosure.  As you may know, I worked for the American Cancer Society for eight years, and just recently left there.  For the past three years one of my main projects was working on the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3).  I headed two enrollments in Fort Smith and started this one for Northwest Arkansas before I left.  I'm happy to say, in Fort Smith, we successfully enrolled over 370 people into CPS-3.

Now, from September 17-20, there will be one last chance to enroll in Northwest Arkansas.  The CPS-3 is a long-term national cancer study that will last about 20-30 years.  To qualify to enroll a person must:

--Be between the age of 30 and 65.
--Never have been diagnosed with cancer (some types of skin cancer are OK)
--Willing to commit to the long-term study

THAT'S IT!  We want to enroll 500 people in Northwest AR, but there are plans to have 300,000 nationwide.  This is a study that will be conducted by the American Cancer Society's national research department. You can be part of real, live research that will impact generations to come!  It's a BIG DEAL.

The first study done like this found the link between smoking and cancer.  The second study found the link between obesity and higher death rates from cancer.  We are anxious to see what this, the third study, will find.  It's FREE to participate.  I am enrolled, won't you do it too?

What is involved?  It's very quick and easy.  You go to to choose your enrollment location and a time.  This will ensure that you get a spot and eliminate time waiting in line.  This will also allow you to complete the bulk of the questionnaire online at your convenience.  On the day you choose, you come to the designated location to complete some additional paperwork, have your waist measurement taken by volunteers and then give a small blood sample which will be frozen.  Everything is anonymous and no information will be shared.  After that, you will receive questionnaires to update your medical information about every other year. These must be completed to remain in the study.

Rather than make this a huge post, I'm attaching a photo of the informational flyer.  You can click the photo to see a larger version. It has all the options for locations to enroll in NW Arkansas; in Fayetteville, Springdale and two locations in Rogers. 

I hope you will decide to enroll in CPS-3.  It's free, it's easy and it might lead to finding out something new about cancer.  Wouldn't you like to do something important today?  Please sign up now to make sure you get a spot.  And please share this information with your friends and loved ones.

These are answers to some of the most FAQ's that I get:

--Doesn't matter if you are pregnant; you can still enroll.
--Doesn't matter if you smoke; you can still enroll.  No one is going to try to make you quit or judge you.
--Doesn't matter if you have other medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol or blood sugar, etc.  Non-diagnosis of cancer is what matters here.
--The blood sample is not for diagnostic purposes; no one will tell you if you have the above mentioned conditions or anything else.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Conversation With My Kids

It's been a while since the last CWMK, and I just happened to have the funniest conversation with them the other day.  We were on the way home from a birthday party for Big Sis's BFF.  These kids make me laugh every day!

Girl Twin was snoozing in the back seat, so she missed out on this one.  It went like this--

Big Sis:  I wish I was Dahana's sister so I could live with her.

Me:  You want to go live with her?

Big Sis:  Yes!  

Boy Twin:  (sadly, to Big Sis)  But I love you!

Me:  (to Boy)  Do you want to go with her?

Boy:  Yes!

(And I thought he was on MY side)

Me:  You guys would leave me and dad and go live with Dahana?

Big Sis:  Open the door! 

Me:  No way.  I cannot believe you.

Big Sis:  You can pick me up in 100 days.

Obviously, she felt sorry for me there.  Those kids.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Twin Tuesday

It's time for Twin Tuesday again!  Let's start this one off with an update on the twins from their 3-year well visit this morning with the pediatrician.
Both kids are hitting all their developmental milestones right as they should be.  Boy Twin is showing "average" on both the height and weight charts, but Girl Twin is "above average" on height. I'm A-OK with all of this.  They are healthy, growing and developmentally awesome.
Now, onto something fun for Boy Twin.  Soccer has started! Let the world rejoice!  Last week was our first practice, and the boy freaking loved it.  Poor sis will have to sit out while the collarbone heals, but hopefully she can get in there in a couple more weeks.
Let me tell you, this kid was in heaven!  And, I have to admit, it was so fun watching one of my kids (finally!) actually get out there and participate.  We've tried Big Sis in both soccer and t-ball, but had no real participation from her.  I didn't know what to think about the boy!  He's got some skills!  And every day for a week, he's asked to go back to soccer.  Thank goodness today's the day.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Welcome to First Grade!

It's back to school time here.  Big Sis is now officially a first grader!  How did this happen?  Not too long ago, we were nervously awaiting the start of kindergarten.

Our little Nervous Nelly was not exactly looking forward to another "first day."  She told me more than once that she was nervous, and had a little trouble getting settled down for bed the night before.  At Open House night, she cried the whole time so we didn't stay long.  That only made me dread the first day more.

I left her sitting at her little desk as tears welled in her eyes the first day. But by noon, I received a message from her kindergarten teacher (aka my spy) who said she was all smiley and happy.  I only had to walk her in for the first three days, at her request.  After that she went willingly on her own.

Just so we can compare--we don't take photos on the first day because of tears--

Kindergarten Second Day:

And, 1st Grade Second Day:

We are now on our second week of school and she's doing great.  Of course, I knew she would.  The funny thing is that today she got in a little bit of trouble for TALKING!  This is totally ironic to me since she didn't even open her mouth to speak to her teacher while I was there!  This is just another sign that she's going to be A-OK.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Again

Here it is, Sunday again.  And here I am again, feeling guilty.  This is something that happens roughly every seven days.  Let me explain.

Every Sunday I have an internal struggle about taking my kids to church or not.  Before you start judging me, hear me out.  You see, we have a great church that I love.  We just don't go very often.  I joined this particular church when I was 21 years old, fresh out of college.  I've learned a lot and met lots of great people there.  I totally enjoy the pastor that we have and love our close-knit "smallish" congregation.  But, here it is--taking three small kids to church is just plain exhausting.  That may sound selfish, but keep reading.

When Big Sis was little, it was a whole different world.  Mainly, there was just ONE of her.  But also, because she was so quiet and still that nobody even knew she was there.  Easy peasy.  Fast forward a few years, and there are three kids.  When the twins were babies, of course, it was harder to get out of the house due to naps, feeding schedules, our attendance was mediocre, at best.  Then, it got to where I looked forward to Sundays so I could drop them in the nursery and have a couple hours off from diaper duty (sorry!)

Now, in this season of our family, the twins have "aged out" of the nursery.  This means at age three, the kids are no longer able to go to the nursery.  They are expected to sit with parents during the service.  When they turned three, I thought we'd give it a shot.  Um, lesson learned.  Mama cannot handle three kids in church!  There are not enough sippy cups and crackers to help this situation.  I tried to adjust the arrangement several times by splitting up; one Sunday I'd take  only the girls and leave Boy Twin at home, other times I'd only take him.  

My next attempt was to start attending the earlier, contemporary service with the kids in tow.  They like the praise band music, and they don't have to be as quiet and still.  And, there are donuts!  This was an acceptable arrangement for a while.  Until we started potty training.  The last time I took them to church we left the service and went to the bathroom SIX times, we spilled a cup of juice, the girls crawled under two rows of pews and Boy Twin talked during the entire sermon.  I was embarrassed, sweaty and tired after an hour.  That's when I decided we needed a real break.  It's not worth going if I only hear 1/10 of the sermon.  And I can stay home and clean up messes on my own carpet.

I know I'm the mom. I should be able to "make them" behave. But it's not that easy.  I can't make them be still or listen; I can't make them not have to pee.  It's hard to get them up and dressed, keep them clean and make the nearly half hour drive to our church.  People always comment "how cute" they are, but nobody ever says "how good" they behave...or not.  In reality, they probably aren't bothering anyone but me.  But isn't that enough?

I didn't grow up in church, so I have no real grounded reason for this Sunday guilt I feel.  I went to church with my friends for the social time.  But I want my kids to have the opportunity; I want them to learn the stories and songs, and have church friends.  But for now, maybe the teaching at home will have to tide us over until we are in the next season.  I'll try again in a few weeks, and then again a few weeks after that.  In the meantime, we have to do what we can to make our life less stressful and easier in whatever way we can.  That, and I'd rather my kids not be the reason our 100-plus-year-old church building falls down.

Can anyone relate?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Twin Tuesday: Broken Bone Edition

Well, after six+ years of parenting, it has finally happened.  I have been expecting this; I have waited for this day.  We have our first broken bone, people....I just didn't expect it to belong to Girl Twin.
We were at the Naturals baseball game on Thursday night, sitting on the grassy hill behind the outfield fence.  The kids were rolling down the hill, running and generally acting like wild heathens.  They were having fun, but the worry wart that I am, I fussed at them to "Stop!" and "Slow Down!"   As the kids were running down the hill for the umpteenth time, I turned around to look back over my right shoulder. That's when Girl Twin was THERE.  Right on me, and crashed into me, shoulder to shoulder.  I immediately saw stars had watery eyes, so I knew she was hurt.  Not to mention, she hit the ground and thrashed around screaming.
After we got her calmed down, we could assess the situation. I figured her arm wasn't broken but she still wasn't moving it at all.  We went home, got a bath and got her Tylenoled up.  Then we debated on going to the ER or waiting for office hours on Friday.  Long story short, she rested well overnight so we headed to the pediatrician first thing in the morning.  After X-rays, he told us it was a clean break on the collarbone.  No activity for 3 weeks, then we have to repeat the X-rays.  Poor kid will miss the start of soccer, but she's doing OK otherwise.  There's no treatment other than ibuprofen and rest.  And lots of cuddling from mom and dad over the weekend.
Here's a picture from last week.  We got some lollipops in the mail and these kiddos were in Heaven!



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vacation Memories

Here are the last of our beach vacation photos.  It's only been a month since we were there, but it feels like much longer to me.  Now, our summer is over. We have been experiencing fall-like temps for the past couple of weeks and Big Sis is about to head to 1st grade tomorrow.

For her summer assignment, she is supposed to write about something she did over summer break.  Much like her mom, she is turning out to be a procrastinator.  So today, she will be writing that paragraph.  Maybe she will write about how our family just cannot seem to take a decent vacation photo.

This is our condo, where we stayed on the 17th floor.  Great view of the Gulf!

This shark was outside of Sharkey's, the restaurant where we ate our first night there.  We didn't take photos then, but stopped on our way out of town.  Girl Twin begged to stop every time we passed by!  And, of course, what you do for one kid you have to do for all three.

Now THIS.  This is the most awesome vacation picture ever.  Right?  I love those family photos when everyone dresses in white and khaki and poses all pretty on the beach.  But that's not for us.  This is what we get.  Note to self: remember to bring the kids' sunglasses to help keep the sand from blowing in their faces.  I suppose we'll never be asked to model for any travel magazines now...

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Vacation Fun

Here are some more pictures from our vacation.  We spent one great, sunny day on the beach playing.  The other really nice weather day we had, we went on the Pirate Cruise.  It was something I'd read about online and in travel brochures. Most of the comments said this was a "must do" and well worth the price of tickets.  It was a two-hour cruise with lots of sight-seeing and activities for the kids.  I also say it's a "must do!"  Once the kids got over their shyness, they loved it! And they even participated in most of the activities.

Grammy and Girl Twin with their toes in the sand.

Big Sis is too cool for school!

Off to the pirate cruise we go!  This photo below was right before the
water gun fighting began. 
For the entire two hours, the crew kept the kids busy so the adults could relax and enjoy.  There was a story below deck, followed by a treasure hunt using clues from the story.  The kids got face painting and tattoos, they played a mean game of Limbo and danced the Chicken Dance on deck.  You can see Boy Twin mopping up with the other boys after the water gun fight; the girls were in the galley getting face paint.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vacation, Part II

So now I feel guilty.  Apparently after my Facebook posts and my one vacation blog post, it seems that I've made our beach vacation sound like a total bust.  I really didn't intend that; we did have some fun.  It just wasn't all listening to the waves, reading on the beach and sipping cocktails kind of relaxing.  It was busy. And tiring.  But so is everything else, right?

After giving it some thought, I decided this vacation was a lot like having a baby.  The more time that passes, the easier it is to forget the crummy parts.  That's why women keep having babies...and that's why we'll keep having vacations, too.

The weather was hit and miss the whole week, but we did manage to get some good beach time.  It was the twins' first time at the beach, and they were super excited about digging in the sand.  Lee was happy to assist with the obligatory burying in the sand antics.  This, of course, was hilarious to the kids.  

With there being double red flags the whole week, we really couldn't get in the water very far.  And really, I'm OK with that. Both girls seemed to like the water but Boy Twin wanted nothing to do with it. He said it was "too loud."  I think he just wanted to dig anyway.

We woke up to rain on the second day of our trip.  We hung around the condo until it let up enough to get out.  Then we ventured on down to Pier Park, which is the popular shopping/dining area in PCB.  We didn't dare look in the shops because of our three grabbers, but we were able to stop at the carnival rides in between rain showers.  I think Big Sis rode almost everything, including that crazy Sea Dragon thing (then nearly barfed).  The little kids would have ridden it if they could.  They obviously don't take after me.

We finished our rides just in time for an afternoon downpour, when we ducked into Pompano Joe's for some lunch and ten trips to the restroom.  The food was excellent, by the way.  The restroom was small.

I have more pictures to share, but it will take me a while to get them all posted.  I know you will all be anxiously waiting some more of our family nuttiness.
Blogging tips