Bramell, Party of Five: January 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Twin Tuesday!

This Twin Tuesday post has a video, y'all! 

It's been a while since I've posted a video, and I just couldn't resist this one. The kids have been making a "birthday cake" out of the giant Lego blocks. They carry it around and ask us to look at their cakes all the time.  The other night, it was my turn to have "birthday cake." What a sweet serenade it was...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pinterest Made Me Do It

Time for another edition of Pinterest Made Me Do It.  There's been a whole lot of cooking and crafting going on in the Bramell house lately. I find this odd for a few reasons: 1) I'm not really very crafty  2) How do I find the time to be in the kitchen when I have three little ones always calling my name and 3) It just makes me want to eat more and do more home improvement projects.  Go figure.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a couple of new recipes that we've tried recently.  First up, Balsamic and Onion Pot Roast.  It was a hit! Actually, I cannot take any credit for this one, as the hubby took care of making it while I was at work.  So, credit to the hubby and the crockpot!  To be honest, I was a little afraid of how this would turn out---I didn't want it to have an overwhelming taste of onions. (It didn't). Also, I didn't know what kind of flavor the balsamic vineagar would have. The only thing we'll change next time is not putting carrots in the crock; they tasted bitter and nobody would eat them.

Here's the final showcase:

Next up, our newest sweet treat addiction--the No Bake Cookie Bites. Don't let the name fool you; these are so much healthier than cookies. And what the heck is flaxseed? I was again afraid of the unknown....but another hit! I've made them twice and we can't stop eating them. One batch made about 15 cookies, FYI.

**Click on the links above to direct you to the recipes. Both of these I found on Pinterest.**

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January Day at the Park

We got lucky last weekend with a very mild January Sunday afternoon, and a long holiday weekend at that. Since the kids have already given up napping, for the most part, we decided to head to the park. We fed the ducks and geese some bread, which they liked. We did figure out that the water fowl did not seem to care for the popcorn we'd think they can't afford to be so picky.  Oh well, more for us to eat!  

After the feeding frenzy, we headed over to the playground. Of course, a few other families had the same idea. But the kids had a blast and wore themselves out with all the running, climbing, sliding and jumping. I got some great photos to boot!

Always, with the mouth open!

Sliding and climbing, over and over and over...

And my favorite part of the day? Boy Twin made a new buddy. He was so taken by this little pup that I was almost embarrassed. He just petted and loved on that pup for a long time.  I was afraid he was going to start licking him--Boy Twin kissing the pup, I mean!  It was the cutest thing EVER. And it almost made me want another one...a puppy, NOT a kid!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's Twin Tuesday!

Here's a new photo of my babies, who aren't really babies anymore. It just dawned on me this week.  I even asked Lee if maybe we should stop referring to them as "the babies," as we have for 2.5 years now. But what will we call them?
These two always want to sit in my lap at the same time, and sometimes with Big Sis, too.  The other night as they were elbowing and kicking each other for a spot, this is the conversation that happened.
Me:  Stop pushing! There was room in my belly for two babies, so there is room on my lap for you both.
Boy Twin:  (kicking sister) Move your leg!
Girl Twin: Don't be (his) mommy!
That girl. All sass, all the time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pinterest Made Me Do It

The Bramell family's latest adventure in Pinterest brought us to homemade fruit snacks. Yum! If you have ever lived with kids, you know that fruit snacks are like another food group. My kids ask for fruit snacks every day after we come home, and some days they ask at breakfast.

When I saw THIS RECIPE on Pinterest, I knew I had to pin it. It's so super easy---only three ingredients. I hit up the dollar store for a small candy mold or ice tray (without any luck), but then remembered the star shaped ice trays that my Nanny had given me a while back. They are a little bigger than I'd like to use, but they worked just fine. The trick is to only fill them enough to cover the bottom of the mold.

I only made one batch to make sure we'd like them. I personally liked them better than store bought.  And the kids didn't complain any either.  Today, I bought more supplies so we'll make two or three batches tomorrow.  We are hooked!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Conversation With My Toddler

There is a house with a pasture right next to our daycare.  In the pasture is one lone brown horse.  Every day since July, we've seen the horse and talked about the horse. We talk about what the horse eats (grass) and if the horse is hot or cold, and where he sleeps. It's riveting conversation, let me tell you.
Recently, we named the horse Bullseye (Toy Story).  It's really fun for us to wave and yell "good morning" to Bullseye as we drive past. Every. Day.
This morning I said to the kids, "What does Bullseye eat?", and I hear this reply from the back seat.
"Bullseye eats CHILI!"  Thanks for the laugh, Girl Twin.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Big Sis Bragging

I just needed another chance to brag on my big girl.  Report cards came home earlier this week, and she did fantastic!  What's funny is that I had the 'ol report card anxiety all day on Monday.  This is strange because, for one, it's not my report card and, two, she's in KINDERGARTEN!  It's not like she's going to flunk out or anything.  Old habits die hard, I guess.
This was the report card for 2nd quarter.  She scored the same or higher than 1st quarter in every category: reading, writing, math, PE, music and maybe something else.  Her highest score is in math---whose kid is she, anyway?--in which she got an 'E' for excellent. 
Her teacher wrote some really nice comments on her card, like how Big Sis is a hard worker and that she is fun to watch.  Every day I'm thankful that she has a great teacher and that we've had no major issues with our "big school" experience.
We are all excited that she has started bringing home short books to read for her homework this week. The instructions say she must read them to us, without our help.  Every night, we ask her to read to us separately, so she gets to read the books twice for more practice.  The girl has always loved books, see this picture from 2008, so I cannot wait until she can enjoy reading them!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pinterest Made Me Do It

It was hard for me to choose the title for this post, as I had thought of several.  Some of the alternate titles to this post:

Pinterest is Making Me Fat  
Damn You, Pinterest

Anyway, it seems like we've been on a Pinterest binge here lately. Honestly, I don't spend a lot of time on there because I don't have a lot of time.  As for recipes, I tend to fly through the boards and pin things willy-nilly, and go back later when I'm making our weekly meal plan.  I've gotten really lucky with the last few things we've tried.  All home runs, actually.  And now, I will share with you.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread--I got this recipe from blog-stalking Reba at Cooking with the Clouds, who got it from Pinterest, here. I like to plan my meals for the week, and on her blog she does the same thing. So I let her do the work for me!  Ha, ha just kidding....sort of.  Whatever, the bread is freaking fantastic!  It was very easy to make and I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already. The hard part was waiting until breakfast the next morning to slice it.  Two thumbs up!  And I'm making a double batch this weekend.

Photo credit: ate ours too fast for a photo.  Oops.

Pepperoni Quesadillas--Are you kidding me?  I've been making quesadillas for years and never thought of this!  Just like it sounds:  pepperoni and shredded mozzerella between two tortillas.  Use pizza sauce for dipping. Genius!  Again, no photos.  But here is the link to the recipe with a photo HERE.  Tip: I used the mini pepperonis and it worked great. I also made a few with the sauce inside, which was fine, but a bit more soggy than I like.  I know Lee liked this dinner because of his reaction:  "These are awesome. You should blog about it!"  

Monster Cookie Dough Dip-- Just a warning: if you make this, be prepared not to stop eating until it's gone. OH. MY. GOSH.  Seriously, I made it for our Christmas festivities and then again for a potluck at work this week.  The recipe just happens to contain a few of my favorite junky snack treats--chocolate chips, M&M's and peanut butter.  Oh, and we ate ours with pretzels, but I bet graham crackers would also be a tasty dipping partner.  Here's the recipe and here's my photo:

This is my photo, as I'm sure you guessed. Not a professional.

I think I will probably make Pinterest Made Me Do It a regular feature on the blog. This is a fun way to share recipes and document other projects that we are doing (ex: the advent calendar).  Leave me a comment to let me know if you like this idea.  Or if you just want to share in my love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Big Sis Bragging

Now it's time for me to do a little bragging on Big Sis.  You can see that she's lost her first tooth, and let me tell you, that was a big ordeal.  You would have thought the kid was dying when that tooth fell out. And that was in October, I think.  I probably should have written that down somewhere. Oops.

Anyway, back to bragging.  I am super proud of my baby because she has just come home from staying in Wynne for FOUR nights by herself! We were there after Christmas and she decided to stay since she didn't have school.  Big Sis stayed one night with Nanny, two nights with Grammy and one night at Pop's house.  That's the longest she's been away from us.  I really wasn't sure we'd get her to come home; I think she really liked being the center of attention.  She didn't have to share hugs, toys or anything else with the twins for four days.  She stayed up way too late every night and got to spend New Year's Eve with her great-grandma.  Who could blame her?  And the rest of us got to spend a few days as a Party of Four, which was nice, yet kind of strange.

We are glad to have her home because we missed her so.  And now, we are trying to get back into our regular school routine.....that's making us all tired!

Edit:  Grammy reminded me that it was indeed Nov. 1, 2012 when Big Sis lost that first tooth. It just fell out while we were brushing her teeth.  Another cool thing? She put together her first 100-piece puzzle (by herself!) at Grammy's house after Christmas! That seems like an important milestone to remember for some reason.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Twin Tuesday

Oh my gosh, aren't they so cute?  But they are stinkers.  And starting to get quite funny little personalities lately.  Girl Twin has two modes:  giggling or crying, that's it.  Boy Twin has two speeds:  running and running fast.

They have a new game they play with Fergie. They chase her around the house while giggling and yelling, "Give me that pillow!"  I have no idea where this comes from. The dog never has a pillow to give.  But apparently they find it hilarious.  Fergie, not so much.  Poor dog.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Perspective

It's no secret that I'm a worrier. I spend a lot of time worrying about things....some are important, some are not.  Some are legitimate issues (Is my kid's cough just a cold or should we go to the doctor?) and some are stupid things (Maybe I should mop the floor in case someone comes over).

With the new year, I'm really trying to get a handle on things.  The last three years have been pretty tough, I'm not going to lie.  Being overwhelmingly pregnant with two energy-zapping humans and exhausted with a toddler, then having two infants plus a toddler at home and now, having TWO rowdy two-year-olds with a kindergartner is enough to make this worry-wart mama crazy. And tired.  And all this while working full-time outside the home!

I started making a list of the things that "keep me up at night," as they say.  Here it is:

1--My dieting/exercising/losing weight---or lack of it.  It's hard to believe I used to be a gym rat.  Religiously, every day.  I was still going to Body Pump classes and lifting weights when I was seven months preggers with Big Sis.  I miss it. Since the twins came along, I've started and stopped exercising a hundred times.  I've tried walking with and without them, going to Zumba classes and even 5:00 am workout videos in my living room.  I just can't make it work. I'm tired and I just don't have time. I don't get enough sleep as it is, and the kids need my attention when I'm home.  I got a treadmill a few months ago and it sits in the living room just staring at me.  Sometimes I get on it, and sometimes I don't.  I try.  In fact, the other day I was on it and Boy Twin flipped the power switch to 'OFF' while I was jogging, and I almost broke my neck.  It's impossible! For now, I'm going to give myself a break---do what I can, when I can and not beat myself up over it.

2--Feeding my kids healthy food.  Every time I read something about food, I worry. Are they eating too much processed food? Is milk going to hurt them? Should I spend more and buy organic?  Eat meat, not eat meat? What about preservatives and food dyes? It's very confusing to figure out what's right.  I don't want my girls wearing B cups when they are 10 years old, but how can I control their diets enough to avoid it?  Finally I just decided that I'm doing the best I can.  I'm not giving them sodas and french fries every meal (hardly ever, actually), and we cook for them nearly every night--and not food from a box or fried in grease.  They eat some vegetables and quite a bit of fruit.  They are very active kids and beg to play outside. They are healthy and rarely get sick.  They are going to be fine.

3--Finances.  Ugh.  Again, will there ever be enough money? Probably not.  Freaking out over every penny we spend certainly doesn't help.  There will always be the crappy things that happen like the major car repair that popped up right in time for the holidays.  Chalk it up to bad luck.  I'm just thankful that we have everything we need.  We have a great house that's been an unexpected blessing to our growing family and a vehicle that can tote us all at once. We are able to keep plenty of groceries and feed our bunch.  Yeah, we have a "wish list" of things we'd like to have.  I know the new carpet and bedroom furniture can wait for a while, but sometimes I just want it!  I promise for the new year that I'll be happy with what we have instead of always wanting more.

I've basically just decided to LET IT BE.  All of it.  It is what it is, and it's the best we can do.  I want to roll around in the floor and color with my kids. I'm going to keep the clothes washed, but ignore the baskets of clean clothes waiting to be folded.  And who really enjoys mopping anyway?  Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Super Duper Anniversary Planning

So, the Hubby and I have a big milestone coming up next year--our 10th anniversary.  With it being just over a year away now, we've already started talking about how we should celebrate.  We've already established that we definitely want to take a vacation alone (shhh, don't tell the kids).  

You may wonder why I'm trying to plan so far in advance.  First of all, I'm not really planning. I'm just starting my list of potential vacation spots to explore.  Secondly, we need to have a plan so we know how much money to save.

Some of the details you might need to know:  our anniversary is in March, typically the week of Spring Break for the public schools.  Also, we own a timeshare so we have a lot of options where we can stay--and   the cost of lodging won't count in our vacation budget (woo hoo!).  Finally, we probably need to stay with domestic travel for convenience and cost-efficiency.  Mainly, because we are poor.

I've asked the Bramell, Party of Five Facebook fans for some suggestions to get me started.  I'm getting lots of favorable comments on San Francisco, Las Vegas and NYC.  Hubs and I have been to Vegas a few times and we love it there (and the resort where we stay is freaking fantastic), but probably won't choose that.

This is our 2006 trip to Vegas, BC (before children).

With it being in March, I'm sure we need to take into consideration what the weather conditions will be like wherever we choose.  Right now, I'm leaning toward Hawaii.  Go big or go home, right?  But I'm also not a huge fan of being on a plane for six days or whatever it takes to get there.  But I'm sure I could manage. I've also never been to NYC or Chicago (March weather?).  Honestly, there aren't many places that I have been to; I'm just not a very experienced traveler.  

If you have had a kick-ass vacation experience, please comment below and share. I'm taking all suggestions.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I've got a new baby!

HA! Gotcha, didn't I?

It's sort of a new baby.  I just launched a Facebook fan page for this blog.  Isn't that exciting??  Well, I'm excited. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but you know, I just don't have enough time in my day to get it all done. So I accomplish things in tiny little bits; baby steps, if you will.

Having a Facebook page for the blog will allow me to do lots of things.  I can have more "discussions" with my readers, I can introduce more people to my Party of Five and I can communicate with people who aren't my friends in real life (meaning, people I don't know).  The Facebook page will also be handy when I have a giveaway or important announcement to share.  Or maybe, just maybe, someone in Internet Land will stumble upon all this bloggy goodness and offer me a big fat paycheck for writing.

So go ahead and look me up.  You'll find the new page Bramell, Party of Five on Facebook.  Go "Like" it.  Now.  Or else I will yell at you and make you go to time-out.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Home for the Holidays 2012

I am back from my blogging hiatus. Don't get too excited, y'all.  I was off work for 13 days straight,counting the weekends. It was glorious, for the most part. I had so many things I wanted to get done, including blogging and working on a new blog design. Very little of it got done, if any. It's odd how quickly 13 days can pass when you have children around needing your attention---and cookies needing to be baked (and eaten).  It also didn't help that I got a stomach bug for the first two days; then it took another couple to fully recover.

Anyway, here's a brief summary of the past couple of weeks in Bramell Land:

--I went to help with Big Sis's kindergarten Christmas party at school.  Learned that I'm thankful that I didn't choose teaching as my profession. Her teacher must have the patience of a saint.

--Stomach bug, two days.  Sick mama on the couch. Luckily, kids were still in school and daycare for the worst of it.

--Sick Girl Twin for a whole day. This required constant holding and snuggling. And cleaning vomit.

--Final Christmas prep--wrapping, fretting over gifts and how to do last minute shopping since I couldn't leave home, if you know what I mean.

--Holiday meal planning and shopping.  We went with an Italian Feast: chicken parm, spaghetti, lasagna and linguine with Alfredo sauce.  Totally yummy and worth being in the kitchen all afternoon.

--Load up and travel to Wynne for a few days after Christmas.  More on that in another post.

Here are some photos of the kids getting their loot. Why the heck didn't I brush their hair? I should have known to do that, because my mother has years of Christmas photos showcasing my childhood bedhead, too.  

Above:  Big Sis's very favorite gift from Santa--it's a Disney Princess art/activity set. She colored, drew and painted for four days straight. No lie.

Below:  Boy Twin's favorite gift---a Spiderman Stunt City toy.  It has a Spiderman figurine that can climb up the wall of the building! He loved showing it off to daddy. I think daddy kinda likes it, too.

Below:  Girl Twin's favorite gift--Minnie Mouse Bowtique on the Go Fashion Show.  Girl didn't put it down for days!

Above: Big Sis checking out her stocking loot.
Below:  I swear the twins aren't drunk, it just looks like it.

The best part of Christmas?  The kids played and SHARED so nicely all day!  The dad and I got to spend some time on the couch together and I got some relaxing time snuggling my baby girl.  I love it when Santa gets it right.
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