Bramell, Party of Five: 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Big Sis Likes Ham #sponsored post

#sponsored post. I am a member of Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. As part of my membership, I am sometimes given products for review and/or giveaway on this blog. All opinions are mine and are a result of products that I've actually tried. 

Last weekend we tried a couple of new things. We went on our very first trip with another family! We invited Big Sis's BFF and her family to join us for a weekend away at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. With both families combined, we had seven kids: six girls plus Boy Twin! We spent some time in the hot tub, watched golfers out our back door and played at a nearby state park.

When it was time to feed our crew, we split the duties. On Bramell night, I was very fortunate to have a brand new Petit Jean product to share with everyone. We got to try the new Petit Jean Spiral Sliced Honey Ham and it was delicious! When the ham arrived in the mail, I asked Big Sis if she would like to help me plan the menu for our trip. I wanted it to be kid friendly and easy for us to make away from home.

Menu Chosen by Big Sis:

Honey Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Mac & Cheese
Crunchy Salad from Trisha's Yearwood's cookbook (my choice!)

Since the ham is fully cooked, I followed the heating instructions on the package. It took about an hour to heat, which was enough time to cook all the side dishes.  Big Sis normally is my big helper in the kitchen, but with so many other kids around to play with, I couldn't keep her in the kitchen this time.

However, she was happy to eat the ham. She gave it two thumbs up!  This 7lb ham was more than enough to feed eleven of us, and I was thrilled to have some leftovers-- plus the ham bone to take home for a yummy pot of beans later in the week.

Here's a photo of our crew at the state park. We enjoyed some sunshine, threw rocks in the lake and explored the Nature Center.  What a great looking group of kiddos!

With the holidays coming up, you can score one of these new Honey Hams or any other Petit Jean product by shopping online at Petit Jean Meats. They will even ship your gift purchase right to the recipient for you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Goodbye Tonsils!

This week has been pretty hectic for us. Girl Twin had her tonsils and adenoids removed on Tuesday. We've known for quite a while that she needed the procedure done (see
this post last year), but it was something we kept putting off.  Frankly, I was terrified for my baby to go through surgery and a painful recovery.
I'm happy to report that she was a total rock star for the surgery! Of course, she couldn't have any food or drink after midnight on Monday...and she never even asked for anything when she woke up prior to surgery time. I was prepared for a fight! Whew.
She was very brave during the whole ordeal. We are so proud of her! She's mostly slept for the past four days, but finally woke up ready to eat last night. She is eating and drinking like she should, and we are on the road to recovery.
Here's a photo of her right after surgery. It wasn't easy for this mama to see her like that.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blogging With Big Sis

I wanted to do something fun for this post, so I decided to interview Big Sis. She's a smart kid, and usually very entertaining, so I knew this would be a fun task. She's seven years old, and in second grade.

Me:  What is mom's job?
BS:  You work on the computer. (partially true)
Me:  What is dad's job?
BS:  To sell houses.

Me:  What does mom do for fun?
BS:  Blog!
Me:  What about dad?
BS:  Play video games!

Me:  What do you like to do for fun?
BS:  Lots of things...color.

Me:  What do you want to be when you grow up?
BS:  I don't know, maybe a teacher.

Me:  What is your favorite part of school?
BS:  Recess!!  (obviously the best part for teachers, too)

Me:  What is your favorite food?
BS:  Chips & dip.

Me:  What is your favorite vacation we've had?
BS:  Disney!  (not Oklahoma)

Me:  Where would you like to go for our next vacation?
BS:  Disney!  (again, not Oklahoma)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Royal Gameday Treats

**Disclaimer: I am a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club. Through this affiliation, I get to sample products, try new recipes and share them with my readers. Sometimes I give my opinion on new products and packaging. My opinions are my own. I was given Petit Jean product in exchange for promotion in the following post.  **

The original title of this post was Football Fanatics. It's true that this time of year you would normally find me posting about Razorback football and all the fun that goes with it. In  fact, this post was going to be about kid-friendly Razorback tailgating treats. That was my plan...until our Kansas City Royals ended up in postseason play!

Suddenly, we found ourselves in the strange position of having a Razorback football conference game and Game 1 of the ALCS on the same day; overlapping times, even. We decided to go with a blue-and-white party to celebrate the Royals' success. My family managed to watch both games and cheer hard for both of our teams! 

I used most of the Petit Jean Deluxe Sampler to create our game day menu. There is so much food in the sampler, that I just couldn't prepare it all at once. And, I have to be completely honest, the bacon never even made it to the table. We had it for breakfast instead of putting it in our game day spread! When it's that good, you just can't wait for it.
Lee really enjoyed the Petit Jean Smoked Sausage; it was the first time we'd tried it. I cut it into bite sized pieces and simmered it on the stove in BBQ sauce. The kids like eating anything using toothpicks, so this was perfect for them!
I used Petit Jean hot dogs to make pigs in a blanket. The rest of our menu consisted of bologna bites, mini ham and cheese sandwiches and a snack platter with Summer Sausage, sliced cheese and crackers. All of that, combined with a fruit plate and some fresh popcorn, set us up for excellent game day snacking.
With the holidays coming up soon, you can find a great variety of gift baskets and samplers at the Petit Jean Meats website

*This is a sponsored post.

Check out the photos of our yummy game day feast!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Disney Memories aka Why Our Kids Hate Us

As we traveled to Grand Lake this summer, dear Lee noticed that we were going to be traveling really close to Disney. In fact, close enough that we could take a slight detour on our way back to Arkansas and spend a little time there.  As we packed up to leave the resort, he started to tease the kids about going to Disney on the way home. Now, if you are a parent, you probably spend approximately 70 hours a week listening to your kids talk about Disney: going to Disney, dreaming about going to Disney and begging to go to Disney. Or is that just my kids? Either way, I knew this would not end well.

Here is our family photo from our (very brief) stop in Disney. You can tell by looking who was amused by this little trick. It is not one that will soon be forgotten, thanks to our souvenir photo!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Family Adventures

I have come to realize something after looking through the files on my camera--I'm really bad at putting everything up on the blog. So, with that said, I now bring you memories of our first trip to Grand Lake in Oklahoma. Since we didn't take a big vacation this summer, we decided to take a few long weekends close to home. Our first trip was Memorial Day weekend; Fergie got to go with us, but we boarded her in Grove. The trip is under two hours for us, so I know we'll be going back.

Grand Lake is definitely a summer tourist place, as it was filled with families with boats, skis and flip flops. We went out to the marina and looked around, attempted to go fishing before the rain blew in, and spent lots of time in the resort's pool.  The resort was very nice and the kids wouldn't have cared if we did nothing but swim in the pool and play in the hot tub. In other words, it was perfect!

We did find the Bernice State Park that was near our resort. There were lots of people camping there, but we found a nice playground and walking trail. The kids threw rocks into the lake and we introduced the little ones to honeysuckle. We went into the park's Nature Center to see fun things like a working bee colony, live box turtles and a few snakes in cages. The kids even got to play some games with the park workers.

This is my favorite photo from the whole weekend! Daddy and his baby girl on the walking trail.

We got a little surprise visitor on our 2nd floor balcony one night--a little frog! 

This is the resort where we stayed; Wyndham Grand Lake. We will be going back for another visit soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pardon Our Mess...

Thanks for stopping by! Bramell, Party of Five is in the process of a makeover! I'm so excited because I've been trying to get around to it for a long time. While I'm sad to leave the screaming lady graphics behind, I'm looking forward to something fresh that will equally capture my personality. 

Keep checking back and don't give up on me. It probably will take forever, but I'll keep posting in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Twin Tuesday

So. It was bound to happen sooner or later, really. I'm not at all surprised by what I witnessed over the weekend.
The weather was very nice on Sunday; the kids were playing in the backyard and the windows were open. Girl Twin came inside to do something. Next thing I heard...
"Brother! Get your ass back in this house!"
Oh dear. She got reprimanded, of course...right after I stopped laughing.

*This is also our first day of Pre-K photo post. They are going to a M/W/F half-day program this fall. I hope she doesn't cuss at school.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pinterest Made Me Do It

It's no secret that I like to cook. It's also no secret that Pinterest has been the cause of many of my kitchen experiments  in recent years. Chicken & Dumplings is one of those recipes that seems impossible to perfect. I'd always used my family recipe for the dumplings, which are made from (gasp!) flour tortillas. I love the recipe because it's easy and pretty fool-proof. If you've been reading here long, you know how my family cooks--pretty much without a recipe for anything, just guesswork.  Remember that time my mom tried to tell me how to make dressing? Pretty hilarious.
Over the years, dear hubby has experimented with different ways of making homemade dumplings, but we haven't been blown away yet. When I found Cracker Barrel Chicken & Dumplings on Pinterest, I knew I had to try them.   
The ingredients are simple: flour, milk, baking powder, broth, butter and chicken, of course. Hint: always keep the broth from boiling your chicken, too.
Mix all the dry ingredients first. Then add the milk and stir with a fork to make a dough.  Roll the dough onto the counter and cut into strips.  Drop the strips of dough into boiling water/broth combo.  Cook for about 20 minutes, then add in the cut up cooked chicken. There you go! It's even easy enough for a weeknight dinner; just be prepared for a little floury mess.  See the exact recipe in the link above.
Home. Run. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

You Might Be From Northwest Arkansas If...

This morning, we were driving through downtown Springdale on our way to the kids' preschool Open House meeting.
As we drove down Huntsville Road, we pulled out in front of a live chicken-hauling semi truck, or a "chicken truck" as we call it. If you live here, you know what I mean.
Girl Twin:  EEEWWW, there's a chicken truck!
Boy Twin:  Don't get behind it, it will POOP on us!
*hysterical laughter from the back seat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Second Day Sweetness

I am the mom who doesn't have any pictures of the first day of school. Let's take a look back to understand why.

In 2012--Kindergarten--I had to nearly drag Big Sister into her school, where I left her in tears and scared to death. I may have also left in tears and exhausted from the whole ordeal. There were not any great photo opps, so we chose to wait for a "second day" pic that year, when I got plenty of smiles.

In 2013--First Grade--She was much more excited about the school year, but still very timid and clingy. She looked at me with tears welling in her eyes and said, "Mama, can you stay a little while?"  Again, no first day photo. But I did get a mid-day message from her dear kindergarten teacher letting me know that she had personally checked on my baby and found her smiley, happy and doing A-OK.

In 2014--Second Grade--This year, she was only a tiny bit nervous, which she told me as we walked up the sidewalk to school. I begged for a first day picture, and Miss Can't Be Bothered sighed a big sigh and said, "ugggghhhh."  As I walked away from her classroom (with absolutely no tears--hers or mine), I made her promise me one picture of second day. And I got it!  I also got a sweet text from her first grade teacher (who now lives out of state) letting me know that she had checked on Big Sis the night before and got an excellent report from her new teacher after the first day.

How lucky we are to have such amazing teachers in her life that love her like we do! I know you both read the blog, and I am serious about the lasting impact you've made in her life. Thank you for that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back To School Blues

Today was the first day of school for us. Back to early bedtimes and nightly routines, yay! But this morning, none of us were very chipper to greet the day. In fact, here was my first Facebook post of the morning.

After a rough night, I decided to count my blessings to feel better.
1--We got to school on time.
2--No tears at school, and she wanted me to walk her in.
3--I can get photos of the second day because she wouldn't let me today.
4--She wasn't too mad at me because I, her terrible mom, forgot that she was on TV this morning...hence, we didn't even turn the TV on and missed her big debut. Ugh.
5--So very thankful for dear, old sorority friends like Heather Judd who offer to babysit my little ones when we are in a bind.
6--The twins didn't flinch over being left with someone they'd never met before this morning. In fact, I don't think they would have noticed if Freddy Krueger came to babysit, as long as he didn't try to take their Kindles.
7--Thankful I have a job to come to, so I don't have to sit home and look at my messy house today.

*                *                     *                          *           

So, you wanna know why our night was so crummy? It went a little something like this.

11:15pm  Mom & Dad in bed

12:00am  Big Sis woke me up because (oh my!) it was thundering. I sent her away to the couch to sleep. That leaves one empty bed in our house.

1:00-ish  Big Sis again was at my bedside nudging to get in my bed.

1:01-ish  OH! There's Girl Twin, too! It's a party!

I put Big Sis in my bed with Dad. I took Girl Twin to the couch, where I slept on one end and she on the other.  That leaves two empty beds in our house.

3:15am  I hear giggling and loud talking coming from my bedroom, where it seems now that Big Sis and Boy Twin are having a party and Dad is not very happy about it.  There are now three empty beds in our house.

3:30am  ALL FIVE OF US ARE WIDE AWAKE.  And yes, remember that the first day of school starts in approximately 4.5 hours.  Sigh.

3:45am  Everyone seems to have settled down. Boy Twin has been deposited in his bed again. Big Sis is again in my spot in my bed. I'm back on the couch with Girl Twin. Why? There are still two empty beds in our house.

5:00am  Dad has slept through his alarm and is late for work! I happened to wake up on the couch and notice the time. I went into the bedroom to find him frantically getting ready for work. He called to let his supervisor know he'd be late. But, guess what? The supervisor was apparently on vacation today and was greeted with a wake-up call from the hubby. Surprise!

5:05am  I push Big Sis out of my spot in the bed and crawl in beside her. I quickly realize that the 5:45am alarm I'd set is not happening. I reset the alarm for a much later time and decide that I can skip washing my hair in order to sleep longer. After I thought of a few other things I could skip, I was back asleep.

7:00am  Big Sis excitedly awakes to turn on the local morning news to see her big TV debut.  "Is this the right channel?," she asks.  Uh oh.  The segment aired in the 6:00am hour.  Oops.

7:30am  Rushing around the house getting the kids' teeth and hair brushed, begging Big Sis to eat breakfast and yelling at everyone to PUT ON SHOES....all Big Sis could say is, "Why are you rushing me?!?!" in a very impatient tone. 

7:50am  I got that child to her classroom with the little ones in tow. Hugs, kisses and definitely no pictures of her on the first day. That is NOT allowed. If someone is in a decent mood, maybe she will allow photos tomorrow. 

8:00am  Herd the other two back to the van after a little Frogger-style car dodging in the parking lot. It's humid, I'm sweating and I just want a gallon-size Dr. Pepper, for goodness sake!

How was your first day?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our Summer Fun Place {#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.
This summer my family has spent a lot of time at The Jones Center, in Springdale. It's close to home and offers so many fun things for the whole family to enjoy. While we have gone ice skating and played some basketball in the gym, the awesome indoor pool is hands down our favorite part of the whole facility. In fact, the kiddos beg us to go swimming on a weekly basis! 
If you aren't familiar with The Jones Center, let me tell you what you are missing. It's a community center that's available to anyone via memberships or a daily use fee, based on the activity you choose. They have a basketball gym, a workout facility, ice rink, indoor pool area with a kiddie pool and huge slide, along with an Olympic lap pool.  They host various community events and meetings throughout the year as well. On top of that, they offer swimming lessons and gymnastics, too. Right now, we are mostly using the pools but I am thinking of putting Big Sis in ice skating lessons this fall, as she really enjoyed getting out on the ice this summer.
Here is the slide that we all love--adults and little ones, too.  

Girl Twin has turned into quite the little fishy this summer. The Jones Center has implemented a new required swim test before the kids can get into the water. The swim test determines their swimming capability. We take our own floaties for the twins, but the Center does provide life jackets for the kids who aren't independent swimmers yet. 

This little boy is not scared at all. No sir!

Big Sis passed her swim test on the first try and I think she's told everyone she saw this summer about it! She is one proud little swimmer.

We have really enjoyed our summer of fun at The Jones Center. We have even taken all of our summer visitors there with us! We were able to go swimming on a rainy day when Grammy and TP visited us, and again when Aunt Dee and Jen visited last month.
If you haven't been to The Jones Center yet, or if it's been awhile, go check it out. It's a great place for some family time, with so many activity choices that everyone will be happy for sure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Grand Lake Vacay

As per my current pattern of blogging, this post is long overdue. I suppose there is a silver lining to my tardiness; the fun of the summer will carry on long after it's over as we relive the memories here.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we made a trip to Oklahoma to use our timeshare condo there for the first time. We were at Grand Lake, which is near the town of Grove. It reminded me a lot of the many trips I took to Heber when I was a kid--mostly a "lake town" with not much else to do.  It was heavenly! We visited the State Park nearby, where we walked a trail, played on the playground and hung out in the nature center. It was nothing fancy and kept us entertained for half a day or so.  Most of the weekend was spent in the swimming pool, because that's really all my kids are interested in. We also took them down to the lake, where they "went fishing" for about five minutes.

At the State Park, where we picked up rocks and introduced the kids to honeysuckle.

Love this sweet daddy-daughter moment!

In his happy place.

Checking out the toad that we found on our balcony.

And finally, to cap off our weekend...we took a little side trip to DISNEY! The kids were obviously less than thrilled when they found out it wasn't that Disney.  Yes, it was a mean trick but it was hilarious and a memory that this family will never forget.  I had no idea that we live only about 1.5 hours from the real Disney! Maybe we can go back next year, too.

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