Bramell, Party of Five: 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry Christmas to All--I'm Outta Here!

I've decided to take my first blog vacation.  Basically, it boils down to this:  I'm cold, tired and have three kids and a job that need my undivided attention right now.  That leaves little to no time for blogging and little to no time for sleeping, unfortunately.  I'm going to take a break for the rest of December and maybe until mid-January.  During this break, I'm gonna do some shopping, wrap some gifts and eat way too much junk food.

I'm also hoping to do a little blog makeover and learn how to do some "tech" things that I've been neglecting to do with the blog.   Check back in January and make sure I've survived.

Until then, Happy Holidays from our nut house to yours! XOXO.

--Mama Bramell

Monday, December 2, 2013

So Very Thankful

I am thankful.

1.  We spent a very relaxing, non-traditional Thanksgiving in Branson with family.  We ate our Thanksgiving meal at the Dixie Stampede and everyone enjoyed the show.  I am thankful for my children behaving well.

2.  We enjoyed spending time with my mom and my sister and her little family.  We especially enjoyed our time loving on baby Piper.  I am thankful that mom, Tracy and Jonathan were able (and willing) to watch my kiddos when Lee and I headed back home so I could work.

3.  I am thankful for that Petit Jean ham we took to Branson and cooked on Friday. That delicious smoked ham provided us with enough food for three meals and counting.  But, wouldn't you know, I didn't take any photos of our meal?  Even when I was planning to blog about the ham.  So is the life of trying to cook a meal in a condo kitchen when everyone is starving! 

4.  Lee drove me back home on Thursday afternoon so I could work overnight on Thursday and Black Friday.  I stayed up all night and worked about 15 hours before heading back to Branson.  I am thankful for my hubby who chauffeured me and thankful for having a job.

5.  We left Fergie with a friend the first night and boarded her two other nights.  I am thankful for friends who volunteer to help us out in a bind and never think twice about doing so.  We appreciate you, Jean Ann!

That just about sums up our holiday week. I am thankful for these and so many more things.  But this, this just makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Petit Jean Ham Winner Announcement

#Sponsored blog 

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. Through this affiliation, I get to try out products, and give my opinions on new products and branding for the company. My opinions are my own and honest reflections of how I feel. I was given product for this giveaway, so that I could also give away a smoked ham on my blog.

Congratulations to Lara U. on her big Thanksgiving win! She will be feeding her (large) family a tasty, spiral cut smoked ham for the holidays.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment and played along; there was a great response.  And thanks to Petit Jean Meats for sponsoring this great holiday giveaway.  Please go like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.  Also, don't forget that you can shop Petit Jean Meats online for some great holiday gifts to ship to friends and family anywhere!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Night With Justin Timberlake: A Review

My review in a word? WOW!  

But, one word will not do this justice, so I will attempt to color a picture of the fantastic night I had with JT.  Well, with Lee, but you get the idea.  

I bought myself two tickets for the Tulsa show back in May, for Mother's Day.  Because dammit, I deserved it.  Then I just had to wait six months for show time.  By now, I'm totally wishing I had sprung for the lower level seats because dammit, I deserved them.  But, alas, I got the mid-price tickets and got stuck in the upper deck where for most of the night JT appeared to be about six inches tall.  But, you know what? It really didn't matter because I still enjoyed every single minute of the show.  Now, for the Top Ten recap:

1.  That dude has some energy with a capital E.  Three solid hours of singing, dancing and chatting up the crowd with only a ten-minute break.  For real, he played over 30 songs! Definitely got my money's worth and then some.

2.  I loved the Tennessee Kids, his (very big) jazz band, being on stage the whole night! I mean, who has their own jazz band? Maybe it's just the band geek in me, but it was so fun and added so much.  I'd much rather hear the horns than an auto tune synthesizer any day.

3.  Tons of dancers and backup singers.  Lots to look at and take in.  And, it wasn't half-naked trashy girls dancing.  It was fun to watch.

4.  I was relieved to see that the average age at the show was probably in the 33-35 area.  We saw very few kids and teenagers.  Lee's observation:  "This place is full of (expletive) middle-aged women!"  However, I did overhear some 30ish dudes dressed in black suits and ties talking, "Let's see how many numbers we can get tonight!"  Lame.

5.  I generally don't do well with heights and our seats would have normally made my skin crawl.  But, again, just darn happy to be there.  At one point, part of the stage lifted up in the air and moved over the top of the floor seats and all the way down to the opposite end of the arena.  Much closer to us! We could see him (and the dancers) really good for about five songs, then it moved back up to the stage.  Very cool move, though, so that everyone got a good view at least for a while.

6.  Not directly related to the show, but I wore my Ariat cowboy boots from Country Outfitter for a total of 10 hours that night and my feet never hurt.  AT. ALL.  I freaking love those boots.

7.  Favorite performance of the night:  What Goes Around Comes Around.  He played an acoustic guitar and did the song much, much slower than the normal version. There were no backup singers, dancers or any special effects; and no high falsetto.  Just pure, raw singing talent. He blew it up.  

8.  Runner-up performance of the night:  Cry Me a River.  This was the last song of the first set, before his break.  I don't think I can even describe how fantastic it was.  I didn't want it to end.

9.  The "He's Not Too Old to Dance" performance of the night:  A cover of BBD's Poison from the 90s!  He let the backup singers take the lead on most of the song so he could dance.  I mean, really dance!  Again, no words to describe the awesomeness.

10.  He opened with Pusher Love Girl and ended with Mirrors.  I included this because it's what I like to know when someone else goes to a concert that I don't.

My hubby is a trooper for hanging with me, although I'm sure he was ready to leave after about an hour.  I, on the other hand, could have stayed three more hours!  The show was over at midnight.  It took us about 30 minutes to find where we'd parked the van and get going ( was only 33 degrees with snow flurries).  I crawled in bed at 3:00am and woke to my alarm at 6:00 for an early morning work event.  

As some of you know, I'm totally spoiled on concerts.  This was the first ticket I've actually paid for in probably close to 15 years because of working in radio and still having lots of connections to help me out.  It was hard to fork out the money, but I would do it again...and pay double for the floor seats!  It was my first show at the BOK Center in Tulsa (nice place) and my first big arena show in a long time. I forgot how fun it is to dance and sing with about 20,000 other people.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving Giveaway: Win a Petit Jean Ham

#Sponsored blog 

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. Through this affiliation, I get to try out products, and give my opinions on new products and branding for the company. My opinions are my own and honest reflections of how I feel. I was given product for this giveaway, so that I could also give away a smoked ham on my blog.

As you may already know, the Bramells are big fans of Petit Jean Meats products; you name it: ham, sausage, bacon, hot dogs...all of it!  That's why I'm so glad to be able to do another Petit Jean ham giveaway on my blog this week, just in time for the holidays.
I will tell you that I'm cooking our Smoked Ham (bone-in) for our Black Friday meal this year.  Well, my mama will be cooking it this time, but that's a story to share when the time comes!  I prefer the bone-in smoked hams because you can make two delicious meals with it ; I made the best pot of white beans after Easter using the bone from our Easter ham. 
Here is my post on our Easter HamI used Trisha Yearwood's recipe for glaze and it was fantastic.  I'm going to suggest to mom that she use it, but she might have her own ideas.
So, who wants to win a FREE Petit Jean Ham?  Just comment below with your name and email address to get yourself in the drawing.  Let me know:  Would you choose a smoked bone-in ham or spiral sliced one?  Regular or Peppered?   
Don't forget you can shop online at Petit Jean Meats website.  They have amazing gift baskets and bundle packs that make holiday shopping a breeze. They can ship your gifts for you, too!
Deadline to enter this giveaway will be Sunday, November 24 at noon.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Big Sis = Trouble

Yesterday Big Sis came home from school with a doozy of a story. Lee called me at work to see if I had heard anything about "this crazy story" she was telling him.

She was very matter-of-fact in her rendition of the details that her teacher said she didn't have to come to school today.  In fact, she swore that her teacher told her to stay home.  Now, I had heard nothing of this.  Big Sis explained that all of the kids in her class had been assigned a classroom "job," and that hers was to be on vacation and take the next day off. Now, that's some clever homework! I want that assignment!

For the next few hours, she kept insisting that she was correct in her understanding of the assignment.  So, being the high-tech and connected mom that I am, I sent her teacher a text to get the scoop.  She replied to my text immediately with several "LOLs and HAHAHA's."  Apparently, Big Sis got some of the info correct, but not all of it.  With 20 kids in her class, there were only jobs for half of them (line leader, pencil sharpener, door holder, etc). Big Sis didn't get assigned a job this week; therefore, she was on "vacation," and would get her turn at a job next week.  

So, we figure that my kid is either very literal in her comprehension of things, or worse, she's got a little Bueller in her.  If she's already trying to skip school in the first grade, at least we'll know to watch her close in high school!  I'm sure she takes after her dad. Bueller?  Bueller?  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Super Halloween

As we've done for the past two years, we went with yet another group theme for the kids' Halloween costumes. I swear I'm going to do this until they are too old to let me get away with it! I love it!  Going with a group theme just makes the whole process so much simpler.

This year they were all super heroes.  Even with a theme, they all chose their individual costumes.  The past two years, I was able to make most of the costumes handmade, but this year I just couldn't swing it.  But I'm certainly not disappointed.

Boy Twin, the little Web Slinger, in action.

Super Twins!  Sis is "Miss America," who we found out was a comic character in the early '40's.  Her super power was levitation, which is pretty cool.  

Edit: Husband has informed me that I got it wrong on Girl Twin's costume.  She is, in fact, "American Dream," who is the daughter of Captain America.  Her powers are super strength and a proficiency in martial arts.  In my defense, I did look at a "Miss America" costume for her, and it was eerily similar.  There.

And, of course, our Wonder Woman!  She was working it, for sure.

I had to work at Malloween on Halloween, so I made sure that Grammy could come help dad out to get all the monkeys dressed and ready to go. Since it was cold and rainy, they went to dinner in costume, then headed up to the mall to get some loot there. Thankfully, they weren't too worried about getting a lot of candy...they were just happy to wear their costumes.  

Here are some memories from Halloween 2011 and 2012.  And yes, I already have  a theme picked for next year, so get ready!

Seriously, this is the best photo I got from 2011.

Halloween 2012 rocked! My favorite so far.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Down on the Farm

A couple of Saturdays ago, we made our annual trip to the corn maze and pumpkin patch.  There is no shortage of fall activities and/or pumpkin patches around here.  Over the years, I think we've tried out three or four different places.  We've always been a big fan of McGarrah's Farm in Pea Ridge, but since this new one opened up closer to home, it's our choice.  It's just a little easier for us, and I'll do anything when it's easier for us.

Last year and again this year, we went to Farmland Adventures to have some fun celebrating the arrival of Fall.  There's a big corn maze, pony rides, a tractor hay ride and feeding cows and a small petting zoo.

I didn't get any photos of us in the actual corn maze because I was toting one kid or another on my back most of the time.  What a workout!  I had to bring the little ones out through the short cut so Big Sis and Lee could finish the big maze. 

Here are some pics of our fun (but cloudy) day on the farm.

Here is last year's post about this adventure.  I like to look back and compare. The twins were too little to ride the ponies last year, but they sure enjoyed watching Big Sis ride. Never mind that Big Sis wore the same shirt for both trips...oops.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Big Sis Bragging

It's time for some more bragging on our big girl.  The first report card of the year came home last week, and we couldn't be more proud of her.  She got an E (the best) in Reading and all S's in the other subjects.  She does need to work on her handwriting a little bit (S-) and work on keeping her desk area cleaner.  If we were grading her cleanliness at home, she would get an S- or worse.
She's not had any behavior problems this year and she's doing great socially.  The teacher had nothing but great things to say about her progress!
I'm really the most excited about her reading. Like me, she loves to read! Yay!  I love that she really tries hard and sounds out the words that stump her. She is determined and very interested in learning.
Here is a photo of her reading to me a couple of weeks ago before bed.  I am so super proud of Big Sis.  She's kicking 1st grade's butt.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Twin Tuesday (on Wednesday, of course!)

I tried to snap a quick pic of the kiddos this morning, but they weren't having it.  So this post will just not have any photos. However, I do want to share a couple of funnies from last week.
This happened as we were driving home from daycare one day last week.  We drove over the interstate and Girl Twin had a much better view than I did, as I was looking in front of me.  She excitedly yelled out, "Look! The popcorn truck!"  I clearly did not see a popcorn truck.  But, as I looked down at the cars passing below us, I did spot a semi truck with the Target bullseye on it!  Way to go, Tar-jay.  The kids know you and love you for your delicious bribery popcorn. 
The kids are old enough now that they really pay attention to our surroundings when we are driving (see example above).  I've started giving them little "tests" to see if they know how to get from Point A to Point B.  Usually, it's "Which way do we turn now?" type of things.  So, as we were heading home from daycare again, we stopped at the stoplight near our house.  I asked the kids, "Which way is our house?"
Boy Twin knows the answer!  "Turn that way to go to our house," he said proudly, pointing in the correct direction.  Then, "Turn the other way to go to NOT our house."  HAHA.
These guys. At least they make me laugh sometimes.  It helps to balance out the crying (mine, not theirs).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pinterest Made Me Do It

I just realized that I never made a post to document the loft bed that Lee built for the girls in August.  And really, Pinterest didn't make me do this one, but did inspire us to talk about him making this.  Same thing, really.

I'd like to say that I helped make this awesome thing.  Truth is, Lee did it all by himself.   We found an inspiration photo on Pinterest (they wanted $6,000 for their bed!) and he created the entire plan from scratch--and it only took him about two weeks.  I did help move the monstrous thing from the patio to the bedroom, and that was no small feat. It's a good thing my hubby didn't marry a sissy woman.

I was going to do a photo collage here, but decided to show the photos in order.  You can also see more detail this way.  And more naked Girl Twin.

We are all so happy with how the bed turned out.  The kids can definitely use this for many years to come; I'm sure it will get passed from kid to kid as they get older.  We are still using the temporary rail until we decide if/how to put on a permanent one.  With the landing of the bed being so much larger than the size of the mattress, that is making a rail design more difficult.  And, oh yeah, the second step is hinged to open up as a storage area for toys! 

And now for my favorite photo throughout the whole process:

  (no kids were harmed in the staging of this photo)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Welcome Baby Cousin!

Well, I'm an aunt! Yay!

When my baby niece was just a couple of weeks old, my sis brought her little family up the hill for a visit.  Of course, Big Sis and I had already meet Baby P shortly after she was born. But this was the first time the littles and hubby got to meet this beautiful little baby.

Just look at these kids! The pictures say it all...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommy Tip #724

I have a pretty cool idea to share with you today.  Well, I think it's pretty cool.

If you ever find yourself staying in a hotel room without enough beds, do not fret.  Here's a little trick for you.  We've been doing this since Big Sis was a little tot, and it works perfectly.

Most hotel rooms have a table and a couple of chairs.  Push the chairs together to make them into a chair bed for your littlest tot!  See demo by Girl Twin below.

With a family of five, it's hard for us to all fit into two beds.  This is my solution! And it works for now while they are still small enough.  It must have been pretty comfy because she slept all night.

You're welcome.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More KC Pics

Here are a few more pictures from our recent trip to Kansas City. I usually have a hard time taking lots of photos because I just don't have enough hands to carry everything else with a camera, and hold hands with kids.  Surprisingly, I got several pics this time.

The kids' area at Kaufman stadium is very nice. There is a carousel, a mini golf course, playground, batting cages and a place for kids to hit and run the bases.  Since we didn't have seats for the game, we spent a lot of time in the kids' area this time. 

The kids wanted me to take their picture with the "big ice cream." It was out in front of the ice cream stand at the stadium, naturally. Boy Twin really just wanted to lick it. Good luck getting them to all look at the camera.  Ewwww!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Travels

Last weekend, we took a quick trip to KC for one night. It was the last home stand for the Royals this season, and there were potential playoff implications at stake (I know, crazy!).  After soccer on Saturday morning, we hit the road and headed north.

Lee and I have always loved going to  KC, that's no big secret. We've taken Big Sis a few times, but this was the first time for all five of us to go together. The little ones were quite excited.  Girl Twin asked repeatedly if there was a beach at "Kansasth Thity." Sadly, there is not. But our hotel had a cool waterfall.

Long story short, the game was sold out--never, ever, ever in a million years has that ever happened to us in KC--so we missed the free fleece blanket giveaway. If you know Lee, you know that us not walking away with five blankets was enough to ruin the weekend. Period. We had to get standing room only tickets, which meant we watched the big screen in the kids' play area for most of the game. The kids had a blast, and didn't even know what they were missing, sadly. However, by the mid-7th inning, we were able to find seats in the handicap area and they were in awe of the "bigness" of it all.

Our view of the field once we found seats. And, look at my baby boy! He never took his eyes off the game! Didn't even notice the guy next to him with a blue face and mohawk...

We ate lunch at Fritz's Railroad Diner and had our food delivered to our table by a mini train. Huge hit. We explored for at least an hour in the Crayola store, which blew Big Sis's mind. We walked around Union Station and saw the model train exhibit, which took up a whole room. Then, we walked across the bridge just in time for a real train to drive below us. In 24 quick hours, we crammed in a lot of fun!

My Crayola kids

And, we boarded Fergie for the first time ever. What a diva dog! I think we were nervous to leave her, but she did just fine. It was only for one night.  It was a good test to see how we'd all manage on a weekend fun trip. It clearly wore some of us out.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mommy Confession Time

I'm just gonna go ahead and get this out there.  I've committed Parenting Sin #1.  Yes, The Daddy of Them All.  I let my children get in a vehicle with strangers.  There, it's out.  I am not the Mother of the Year.
Thank goodness the story has a good ending, but I still keep thinking about that day.  It was the day that Keisha and I were driving to Little Rock for the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference.  We were taking my girls to hand off to my mom in Conway.  Along about Morrilton, out of nowhere, the ole minivan started acting up and smoking from under the hood.  Since it was between exits, I just pulled off the side of the interstate as far as I could go.  I turned off the engine and Keisha and I, being experts in car repair, sat and discussed what might be wrong with the van.  Before KP had that AAA card out of her wallet, the smoke and stink got worse. The girls were crying, so we took them out of the van and into the ditch (safer than a van on fire, right?)  Very quickly, we noticed a blue truck had pulled over and was backing down the side of the interstate to us.  This is when you have about three seconds to decide whether to be thankful someone is stopping to help or scared that someone is about to chop you up into a million pieces.

To our relief, a very normal looking man hopped out of the truck and came toward us.  As the afternoon traffic zoomed past us at 70mph, I decided it would be safer to put my kids into the man's truck with his wife.  My shy little girls who won't talk to anyone!  I just knew I'd caused some permanent scars there.  But, heck no.  THERE WAS A PUPPY!  Now, it's all "Mom who?" while the nice man is looking at my van.  He said it would be OK for me to drive the van on to the next exit where there was a gas station and safer for him to work on it.  So, I let my kids ride in his truck--with strangers---while they followed me.  I'm not completely crazy, though.  I made Keisha ride with them, too! I wasn't letting my babies go alone.

Long story short, the couple lives in a small town about 15 miles from where I grew up.  They were traveling home from a funeral and he was wearing dress clothes; he even ruined his shirt checking the fluids in my van.  Mom was able to drive on to Morrilton and  tear the girls away from the puppy get the girls.  He found the problem with my van and Keisha and I soon hit the road again.  It was a crazy fluke involving a loose dipstick that made me lose all the transmission fluid.  No repairs needed, whew.
Ms. Fix-It Keisha doing her thing.
This incident got me thinking about another time I needed a stranger's help, when the twins were babies.  We were at Silver Dollar City; the babies needed a diaper change and the double stroller wouldn't fit in the bathroom door!  So, I took Girl Twin back for Lee to hold and trekked back to the bathroom with Boy Twin.  After I got him changed, I realized that I needed to use it as well.  There was a normal-enough looking woman washing at the sink. I totally asked her if she would hold Boy Twin so I could pee.  I never even thought twice about it! She was thrilled to hold a baby and I was thrilled to empty my bladder. 
Am I just too trusting of people?  Do you think I'm crazy? I think having more kids than hands has just forced me to ask for help when I have to. If you are reading this, I have probably asked YOU for help at some point.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twin Tuesday

Here's the scene from last Saturday's soccer game.  They are not playing soccer, they are sliding down the hill.  I had so much hope for these two! Of course, Girl Twin was hurt for the beginning practices, so she had to watch. But brother jumped right out there and did so great at practices.  It took him getting knocked down one time during the first game, and he was done.  Finito.  When Girl Twin was healed and ready to play, she excitedly took the field.  Finally, what I was waiting for!  Oh, but no.  She decided, "I don't want the blue kids."  Translation: she didn't want another team out there.  I guess we forgot to explain how a soccer game works.

Oh well.  Lesson learned. They just aren't ready yet.  And we'll be saving that $60 bucks next spring.  As I always say, it's a good thing they are so darn cute.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Slapstick Comedy Hour

Or, alternate title:  The Day My Kid (almost) Ate Poop

First, let me say this:  I don't really like taking my kids to the park. Before you shame me, let me explain.  The park is hard work, y'all!  Sure, the kids like to run and play and climb.  But who really does the hard work? The grown-ups, that's who.  ME.  Oh, I'd love the park if I could sit down and leisurely read a book while they play. But, no.  I have to push the swings (x 3) until my arms turn to jelly.  I have to run from the rock wall to the 8-foot-high ladder thingy to make sure one of my kids doesn't break (another) bone, and I have to make sure the bigger kids aren't being too rough with my little ones.  Three kids climbing on three different contraptions is tough.  I have more fun when Lee comes with us, if only to have two more hands and eyes to keep watch.  But I usually end up taking the kids to the park on Sunday afternoons when Lee is working at open houses.  It keeps me from strangling them at home.  


So, off to the park we go yesterday. The weather was perfect and I needed a stop at Sonic's happy hour.  Which brings me to another issue that we have.  My kids absolutely cannot, EVER--I repeat, EVER handle a Styrofoam cup.  It's borderline ridiculous. 


All the way from the van to the playground, I instruct the kids to be careful not to drop their drinks...because someone always does.  Every. Single. Time.  Boy Twin knows I speak the truth, so he just surrenders and hands me his slush to carry for him.  Smart kid.


Sometime right after Big Sis said to me, "Is that your phone in your shirt?" and I assured her that I didn't have a rectangle boob, she fell down.   Yes, from a standing still position. Just fell flat to her butt, knocking over her nearly-full orange slush.  The lid popped off and it spilled everywhere. But being the crafty mom that I am, I brushed off her butt and secretly poured some of brother's orange slush into her cup.  All good.


After our hour of play time is up, we head back to the van.  Along the way, we stopped for an impromptu photo shoot in a cool-looking tree.  Girl Twin, also knowing how clumsy she is, said "I'm gonna put my Sprite down over here so I won't spill it."  Then, approximately 30 seconds later, she proceeds to walk backwards over it.  Crushed the whole cup.  Thank you, Sonic happy hour. Now I've only wasted two bucks instead of four.

I get Girl Twin directed toward the trash and herd them all to the parking lot.  Here's where it gets real.  As I'm buckling the other kids into their seats, I can't find Girl Twin.  After I yelled her name, she pokes her head into the van, licking her fingers.


Now, I know I didn't bring any snacks to the park this time.  I'm all, "Hey, what are you eating?"  She answers, very calmly, "Chocolate" and holds up her dirty brown fingers for me to inspect.  Oh yes, like you, I'm immediately thinking she's just eaten some poop.  "Sissy, where did you get that," I asked.  "Down there," Big Sis answered for her.  "An almond," Girl Twin also supplied.  


I'm holding my breath as I round the front of the van to the other side.  I need to know what exactly she just put in her mouth.  And, for once, thank GOD she was right.

But yes, she did indeed eat melted chocolate off the parking lot of the park.  And yes, there were almonds.  The end.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pinterest Made Me Do It

In a noble effort to avoid a dinner rut, I'm always looking for recipes that I think Lee will like.  He is a much more adventurous eater than I am, and he's usually willing to try just about anything.  He likes foods with gravies, sauces and lots of spices; I do not.  But I do like to cook.  I don't mind making him something that I won't eat because I'm usually trying to count calories or eat a light dinner anyway.  

As I was pinning like a madwoman one night, I ran across this Spicy Sausage Pasta recipe and immediately knew he'd love it.  Also, the girl who posted the recipe said her husband loved it, too.  And supposedly it was an easy, quick recipe to make.

The main ingredients are smoked sausage, onion, garlic, chicken broth, Ro-Tel, cheese and heavy whipping cream.  I even got to use the ole iron skillet, which I'm sure will make my mama proud.  You basically brown the sausage with the onion and garlic, mix everything together and bake long enough to melt the cheese.  It didn't take long at all!

Our review:  I, of course, did not eat it.  I know, I know.  Lee really liked it but did offer one nugget of advice for next time.  He thought it was a bit too spicy, as did 2/3 of the kids.  Next time, I will make sure to buy the MILD flavor Ro-Tel instead of the regular; I think that will make a big difference.  Otherwise, make sure you have a gallon of milk and some Tums on hand for a chaser to this dinner.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What I Learned at Camp....and Other Valuable Lessons

Over the weekend I made my second trip to the Arkansas Women Bloggers conference.  This year, we met at Ferncliff Conference Center and Camp, outside of Little Rock.  First off, if you've never been there, WOW! What a beautiful place!  It was smack dab in the middle of the woods with lakes, ponds, cabins, chickens and goats....can't beat that.  However, I was caught a bit off guard when we discovered that our room did not have a TV--you could have told us that up front, Stephanie!
Since I loved every minute of the conference last year, and soaked up so much useful info, I begged forced encouraged my blog sista Keisha to join me this year.  We hit the road on Friday full of excitement and with a van full of snacks, my two girls and a CD of toddler nursery rhymes.  Welcome to my world.  
The plan was to meet my mom in Conway to hand off my girls and get to the opening reception of the conference on time....but if you know me, you know things often don't go as planned.  More about that later.
Dipstick.  Ladies, when you travel, please make sure the dipstick is where it should be.  Apparently a loose dipstick causes transmission fluid to leak out of your moving vehicle.  This leaking causes smoke to pour out of your vehicle, after which you need to pull over on the side of the interstate.  This causes you to have to depend on a stranger to fix your dipstick, then wasting an hour of precious time at the Walmart auto center and being TWO HOURS late to your conference.  Sadly, this also makes you  miss hearing P. Allen Smith speak at said conference.  Lesson learned:  Keep the dipstick in tightly.
Masterpiece.  Thanks to BooMama, we learned the importance of this word.  See also, validity.  Our blogs are valid and they are a masterpiece, no matter the subject. Be purposeful in your writing and on  your blog.  This is something we all struggle with, and even knowing that is comforting.
Relationships.  I'm not the only one to feel this or say it.  But these girls at the conference...they are something. They are all special, fun and enthusiastic.  These are my people.  I know that's totally cheesy, but we get each other.  I'm a word nerd and THAT'S COOL.  Which directly relates to the next theme.
Community vs. Competition.  In a room full of 100+ bloggers, with so much in common, there is also so much individuality and creativity.  Sure, there are "categories" we can put ourselves into:  lifestyle bloggers, fitness bloggers, foodies, business and mom bloggers.  But we all have a different story to tell.  We are all going to make an effort not to compare ourselves with each other; we are instead going to be a support system and cheer the other on.  Hooray!
And, finally...
Poop.  Because, isn't it a normal thing for grown women to sit and tell poop stories?  This really needs no further explanation, if you were sitting on the porch with me on Saturday night.  Thanks for sharing your stories and thanks for the laughs, ladies.  You know who you are.

In my next post, I'll share more links to my bloggy friends.  Some old friends from last year and many, many new ones.  Look at me, making friends! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I decided to participate in Throwback Thursday on the blog this week.  I'm taking you back to a post from November 2008.  I have *this* pegged as the start of what we are dealing with today---slamming doors, talking back and generally acting like we are stupid.  And she's only SIX!  (and yes, she still makes this face)

Buckle up, baby.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

The transformation has begun...

This is our sweet little Becca dressed in her jammies. This is the good girl who minds us and reads books all day long. This is her sweet face.

This is Miss Independent Becca. Miss "how-dare-you-tell-me-no." If she doesn't get her way, this is Miss Mean Face. Just try to look at her and not laugh. I dare you.

Oh, dear. It is true. We have somewhat of a drama queen on our hands. She is wanting to do everything by herself already, including use the spoon, which does not have a great outcome--especially with oatmeal and applesauce. The good news is that Becca keeps us laughing most of the time. And, her vocabulary is moving right along. New words: "good girl" (which actually sounds a bit like "doo doo" but who cares), "bath," "meat" and "apple."
I also got the potty out a couple of weeks ago for her to look at. The first few times we sat her on it (clothed even), she had a hissy. But now she will sit on it and smile. Still no potty action, but at least she's not afraid of it.
Sorry it has been so long since we blogged. Had a rough couple of weeks. We'll do better, though. Enjoy the new festive look of the blog. Until next time...

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