Bramell, Party of Five: 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

I Think I Might Be "Tech People" After All!

Last Tuesday, I attended the 2015 Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit, presented by the Bentonville-Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce and the NWA Tech Council. When I first heard about the event, I was sure that it was not a place for me. My mental image was that of people with pocket protectors and social skills akin to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. File me under "prone to stereotyping" again.  (shame)
The event was very well organized and full of more information than my non-techy self could process. It was great in every way! I was exposed to so many new ideas and lots of things that apply to my life: professionally, as a blogger and as a consumer. 
Nearly 1,000 people were able to come together and learn from people who are getting it right when it comes to blending technology with their businesses. People were welcoming and encouraged questions and offered explanations. I was able to join a group of my fellow Northwest Arkansas bloggers to help promote the event on social media in real time, which was also fun.
Professionally, I knew that I could take away some things that would certainly help me in my daily marketing duties...and boy, did I! Mainly, as much as the world has gone to digital and online shopping, there is still a place for brick & mortal retail in the world. People may go into a store only to pull up an item on their phone to purchase, or check out an item in person before they buy online. It's still our job, as sales professionals, to provide excellent customer service to earn the customers' trust and make them want to buy from us.
Customer service is universal in any business; in person and online.
Another big takeaway for me? The job opportunities! This gave me such hope for my kids' future! I got even more affirmation to challenge, encourage and show them the value of technology in their lives now and in the future. I want my kiddos to embrace it and go toward it. The possibilities are unlimited and will continue to grow as they do.  
Here are a few of my tweets from the presentations at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit.

The event will be coming back in 2016, so watch for information if you missed this one and might want to check it out! If I can learn from it, you can too! Let me know and I'll save you a seat.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What Does Leadership Look Like For Kids?

I am participating in a monthly awareness campaign with my fellow bloggers and friends in the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. Each month, we have a selected topic of focus to learn about, discuss and share with our readers. This month the focus is on leadership; particularly women in leadership roles and/or politics.
At this stage in my life, I think a lot about what leadership means in the eyes of my daughters. I want them to think, and to know, that they can do and be anything that they can imagine. I try hard to be a good example to them and to encourage them in every way. I want to introduce them to strong women who are doing good things in the world.
My older daughter is in third grade. I look around at the things she's already being taught in school, and I know she's way ahead of where I was at her age. Her school administration preaches the ideal of "I can't YET" instead of saying "I can't," when things seem difficult. It's written on banners in the school hallways and often recited aloud in the classrooms. I absolutely love this! So much so, that I find myself saying it at home when the kids want to quit or give up on a project, homework, a game, etc.
To me, that is perfect leadership. A leader is never a quitter.

Leadership didn't come easy to me, either. I was a shy kid. Like, super shy. I didn't really get my sea legs until the middle of college, when I was living in a house with 60 other dramatic young women. That will do it to you, for sure. I see a whole lot of myself in Big Sis: she's quiet, shy and just kind of blends in with the other kids. Gradually, she's getting more involved and interested in things at school and certainly in helping others.
This school year, Big Sis has joined Girls on the Run. It's an after school club for 3rd-5th grade girls, where they spend time learning about self esteem, self control, confidence and leadership. After the lesson, the girls hit the track to train for a 5K at the end of the semester. First, I'm thrilled that the school sees the importance of such a program that works on the mind, soul and body. Second, I'm beyond thrilled that Big Sis chose to be a part of it on her own, without my prodding! The 5K is coming up next weekend and I'm going to be her buddy runner.
Big Sis has learned so much as part of this group. In addition, it's given us the opportunity to talk about their lessons at home and lets me affirm to her how important all of these things are in her life.
To me, this is another example of perfect leadership. Girls need to know early that everything they do is important, whether it's related to their personal health or in the way they treat others. Affirmation = Confidence = Leadership. Right?
Here is a worksheet she brought home from Girls on the Run a couple of weeks ago. I want to frame it or maybe just hang it on the fridge...or on a billboard.
Just like any mom, I want my baby girls to grow up to be great. I want to see them be successful and happy, above all else. I can't wait to see what their future holds...stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That One Time We Went to the World Series!!!

Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing when a husband and wife share the same interests. You never know, it just might lead to a spontaneous mid-week road trip!
But first, let me start at the beginning. You see, I’ve loved baseball my whole life. In a state that bleeds St. Louis Cardinals red, I grew up rooting for the Atlanta Braves with my daddy, mainly because all of their games were broadcast on TBS. Easy access, you know. I was a fan way before Chipper Jones took the team to the top…back in the heyday of Dale Murphy, Ron Gant, David Justice, Fred McGriff and Brian Jordan. Oh, and I loved me some nutty John Rocker.
I was the girl who sat alone in the sorority house basement watching baseball playoffs in the mid-90s when the Braves were killing it.
Before inter league play, I barely knew there was an American League.
Fast forward some years when I met a guy who didn’t speak my language. You see, my boyfriend was an AL guy. Sheesh.  I even took him to St. Louis to a Cards/Braves game on one of our first dates, hoping to convert him. And what happened surprised us all…
I married him anyway and he converted me. It took some time, but I think I’ve turned into an AL gal. This guy who stole my heart also took me to Kansas City, to the most beautiful baseball stadium, to introduce me to his favorite team. Over the past 12 years, we’ve sat through opening day temps below freezing, we’ve been to games with more ushers than butts in the seats and we’ve dragged our three kids to a game that was standing room only (NEVER AGAIN).
Even better, we attended the 2012 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in Kansas City, which has definitely been the sports highlight of my life thus far. This was also Chipper’s final All-Star game, and I might have cried through most of it, but I can’t say for sure.
I might be a girl, but after getting to the All-Star Game, the biggest remaining thing on my bucket list was to get to a World Series game. I’m sure that we would have laughed if anyone had suggested, even five years ago, that the KC Royals would be in the WS, which would give me the most logistically convenient path to attending a World Series game. 
Being the most excellent wife that I am, I bought AL playoff tickets for Lee in 2014, because I knew he’d waited almost 30 years to see “his team” end their cycle of loserness. I was also happy to cheer them on, but I wanted him to soak in the moment. I gave up my ticket for mommy duty (regret), and he took off to enjoy a couple of days in KC gorging on baseball and BBQ.
So, when fate took the Royals back to the Series this year, we knew we had to get ourselves there. We debated all through the playoffs—to go or hold off for the WS?  We held off, in hopes that we could get a hold of some tickets—beg, borrow, steal or take out a bank loan. We talked ourselves into heading to KC for Game 1 vs. the Mets, but changed our minds last minute due to the awful weather forecast. Of course, this ended up being the game that went FOURTEEN INNINGS.  Sigh. Oh well. We made arrangements for childcare and I took two days off work so we could head to Game 2, WITHOUT TICKETS.  What???  I know, probably the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done, but so glad we did.
We got to KC in time to have a little tailgating time with several thousand other blue-clad, die-hard fans, most of them already having tickets in hand. Once our burgers were finished, with a pocket full of cash, we started the walk to the stadium in hopes that someone would have mercy on us. Let's just say, that mission was not accomplished. You see, the poor, down-trodden, overlooked Kansas City Royals from the past are none of that anymore. They are champions and the fans have multiplied! There were easily another several hundred other people with the same idea as us, and as unlucky as us. Nobody was selling tickets at all. We hung out until after the second inning then took off toward home. We stopped along the way to watch the game and have dinner and talk about what might have been.
We aren't sorry that we tried. We had a lovely adventure together and used the long ride home to plan our ticket procurement strategy for next year. Challenge accepted.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Conversation With My Kids

I realize that I haven't written a post in over a month. I guess things got a little crazy at the Bramell house in October. The twins took their first kindergarten field trip and got their first report cards, then Halloween! There's a lot to catch up on.  All in good time...but first:
On the way to school the other day, Girl Twin wanted to talk about music.
Her: Sometimes songs on the radio make me cry.
Me:  Why?
Her: They are so beautiful, I cry.
Me:  Which ones? (I really wanted to know!)
Her:  Not the jammin' ones. Just the ones that sound like whistling.
OK then.
That girl. Sometimes she's still such a baby, and sometimes, she's so grown up. I am glad that she appreciates the beauty and emotion in music, even if she couldn't really articulate it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For the Love of Books

I recently spent some time with a staff member at the Ozark Literacy Council of Washington County. The gentleman actually called on me for a work-related meeting, but we ended our visit with my education about the organization and what they do for our community.
Since September is National Literacy Month, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to share what I learned. I was surprised to hear that the Ozark Literacy Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and it's the oldest council in the entire state. They primarily have focused on the education of adults, both native English speakers and ESL students, but are now seeing the increased need for addressing literacy in a "family approach." Tutors at OLC can teach basic reading skills or even with a specialized focus on reading for job applications, health or banking literacy.
I've also learned that more than 36 million adults in America cannot read, which is really a shocking statistic. This week is being recognized as Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to raise public awareness of the problem we face in our country. In addition, Friday, September 25th, is the national annual giving day that encourages people in the community to make a donation or even sign up to volunteer as a tutor at their local literacy organization. Please consider helping out in any way that you can.
The services that OLC provides are free. Ozark Literacy Council can be reached at 479-521-8250 or if you need help learning to read, want to make a donation or if you would like to volunteer some time to helping others.

My favorite super reader!

I have been reading for as long as I can remember; it has always been one of my favorite things to do. I am fortunate that my children also have the same passion for books as I do. In fact, the annual book fair is going on at school this month (Coincidence? Maybe not). The kids have pulled out the flyer and put an X on nearly every book for us to purchase. I think books are definitely our thing--and Shopkins--but that's for another blog post.

Happy Reading, y'all!  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

#ad It's Funday Sunday Time! {sponsored post}

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.

If you need some fun entertainment for your family this weekend, I have the perfect suggestion for you! This Sunday, September 20th, is Funday Sunday at The Jones Center in Springdale. This is the day that the community can visit and use selected amenities for FREE!
Funday Sunday is a monthly event at The Jones Center, and activities vary from month to month. The designated activities for September are FREE skating at the ice rink and FREE access to the swimming pool. As you know, my family has spent a lot of time doing both of these activities over the past year.
I can't say enough good things about The Jones Center and all of the fun family activities that they provide for our community. If you've never been, I encourage you to visit on a Funday Sunday, or any other time when you only have to pay a small access fee. The membership fee is really reasonable, too. Fitness classes are even included in the cost!
If you can't make it this weekend, there are two more chances to attend Funday Sunday this year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

School Is Cool

This week marks the 4th week of school for my kids, so I thought it would be a good time for a quick update on how it's been going.
For me: It's going surprisingly well. This mama shed no tears at all when the littlest ones went off for their first day in the big, scary school. This was a relief, after spending all summer in a tizzy about the "to separate, or not to separate" internal tug-of-war concerning the twins. I discussed it so much with them, that when drop off day finally came, I hardly even  got a wave from either of them. I comforted myself knowing that they could play together at recess every day to soothe their lonely, broken, separated hearts. HA! That lasted all of ONE DAY. For real, I've asked them every single day if they play together at recess--and every single day the answer is "No." So, what shall I worry about now?
For Boy Twin: After the 3rd day of school, he retreated to the couch to cry every morning because he didn't want to go to school. His complaint: "School is too long. Why do we have to go EVERY day?" That pity party didn't last long when I told him that's the rules and I don't make the rules. Why else would I go to work every day? For fun?  By the 3rd week of school he was excited to tell us about all the new words that he'd learned to spell in kindergarten; words like "P.E." and "D.J." (his new friend in class). 'Atta boy!  Also, not to brag or anything, but he's been blowing me kisses every morning as he walks up the sidewalk to school. I'm sure the other moms understand and are not mad at all that we hold up the drop off line every day.
For Girl Twin: This girl is like a steel vault; she won't give us any information about what she's doing or learning in class. Either she's really bored, or she is running the show and doesn't want us to know it. (I think I know which.)  Either way, we are thrilled that she has the same teacher that Big Sis had in Kindergarten! It's a little different, though, because she is teaching a K/1st split class this year due to enrollment being high in both grades. Yes, the class is half kindergarten and half first grade. Girl Twin is doing great in there and we're excited to see her learning. I guess hanging out with the first graders is really advancing her skills because last week she told me: "2 + y = 30" in a very factual manner. I had no idea they were learning algebra already! She also instructed me to stop putting "love notes" in her lunch box, which nearly broke my heart.
Big Sis:  This girl is loving 3rd grade. She's in the class with some of her favorite kids, and seems to be doing great. This year, they have to read five chapter books per quarter and be tested on each one for a reading grade. Challenge accepted! The kid just finished her 3rd book last night. Now, if we can get her that fired up about math...
We are in a great place right now. We love our school, love all of our teachers and love learning all the new things. There is a strange peaceful feeling in our home that I haven't felt before. Is this what it feels like to not have babies anymore? Big kids rock!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Conversation With My Kids

These two. I swear, it's a laugh a minute with them. It's even funnier that most of the time they don't even know they are being funny. It's funnier than that when they don't know we're listening to them.
The following conversation was overheard in the kitchen, when they looked out the window and saw our neighbors' dogs outside one night after dinner.
Her: Hey Brother! Come outside! Heidi and Zodie are outside and they're sniffing butts!
Him: That's just how they say hello.
* photo from a day trip to Eureka Springs 6/15. They were in awe of the "giant Jesus."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mirror, Mirror

Lately it seems like we can't go anywhere without someone commenting on how much my girls look like me. It happens all the time. It's true, they do look like me; I can't deny it. But it does seem to really impact those people who've known me my whole life when they see Big Sis, particularly.
We are also seeing this a lot in my sister and her daughter, too. I suppose our genes are strong. (I'm just hoping they didn't inherit our slow metabolisms, too!) Grammy got to digging around in old photos and sent me a couple of myself at Big Sis's age. I know she looks like me now, but seeing photos of myself at her age was almost eerie. We both got a good giggle out of it.
Here are a couple of comparisons of us at the same age.

Anybody disagree?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gone Fishin'

At the end of the twins' Grammy Camp, Big Sis and I headed east to pick them up. We had a nice, long-weekend visit and got to relax a bit, too.
The twins were super excited for me to go swimming with them once I arrived. Grammy had taken them swimming every day of their week at Grammy Camp, and they have both become quite the little fishes. We headed to the pool so they could show off without floaties on! Boy Twin is best at swimming under the water and Girl Twin is best at swimming on top of the water and floating. I couldn't believe their progress in just a week's time! I'm thinking by next summer, the floaties will be gone for good.
We got to spend some time at Pop's, too. The kids played with Allee and Kai, and we got to see the newest baby in the family.  But the highlight of the trip, without a doubt, was Boy Twin catching his first fish!
Uncle T and TP took Boy Twin down to Pop's pond, where they quickly caught a boat-load of fish....see what I did there? This is one happy and proud dude--and Boy Twin was pretty happy, too.
We were just sad that Lee wasn't with us, but he got to hear all about it at home. 

Cousin P didn't want to be left out of the fishy fun! She cracked us up when she grabbed hold of the fish and took off. There may have been some tears when her daddy took it away from her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Twin Tuesday: Not Babies Anymore

It's another Twin Tuesday, and I'm feeling particularly anxious this week. Maybe it's because we bought their first round of school supplies and my babies are going to kindergarten open house tomorrow night.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not sad about them starting school--no way! Sometimes people expect me to be sad because my babies are not babies anymore. Heck, no! We've done our baby duty and are ready to move on. I'm ready for a regular schedule and ready for all three kids to be at the same place together all day long. And, above all, I'm ready to stop paying for daycare/babysitting/preschool! Yay for FREE public school!
I'm just feeling a little off kilter. Sometimes I look at the twins and literally cannot remember how they got to be five years old. The time between their birth and age 5 seems like a blur of feedings, diaper changes, crying, tantrums, butt wiping, messes and baths. And now, it's so different. They are riding bikes, writing their names, roller skating, hitting baseballs, playing video games and excelling at NEVER BEING QUIET. Mercy, the talking!
We have decided to split the twins up for kindergarten, which wasn't really a hard choice for us. My primary argument is that these kids have spent 24 hours a day together for nearly their whole lives. Don't we owe them each a little "me time?" I'm hopeful that spending the day apart will make their time at home together more peaceful and happy. In addition, because one of the twins is excessively dominant (not naming names), this will give Boy Twin (oops!) a chance to let his own light shine and speak for himself on occasion. Poor kid, it must stink having two mamas sometimes. 
I am a teeny bit worried about how they will handle the separation, but a level headed kindergarten teacher advised me this week not to sweat it--if the first few days are a disaster, we can always put them together. At our school, the kindergartners aren't assigned a teacher until the 5th day. They spend the first week just shifting kids around in different combinations, with different teachers, getting to know everyone. I didn't like this process for Big Sis, but I think it will be great for the twins to get used to being apart.
Here's to new beginnings, growing up and having a SUPER school year x TWO!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Big Sister's Travels

It's summertime and that always means a trip to Grammy Camp for each of the kids. Honestly, I don't know who looks forward to it more--the kids, Grammy or Lee and me. HA! I think we all enjoy it for different reasons.
Big Sis took her turn at Grammy Camp first this year. She was gone for EIGHTEEN days, y'all! I wasn't sure if she'd ever come home. I think someone was truly enjoying her freedom of being an only child and getting all the attention. That, and sleeping until 10:00am, apparently. Can't say I blame her on that one.
This time Big Sis and Grammy kept the road hot during her stay. They took a day trip to Little Rock and an overnight to Mom's family reunion which included staying in a cabin and a side trip to Mammoth Spring. And if that wasn't enough, they went with TP to her favorite swimming hole and then Big Sis spent a couple of days hanging out at Pop's house.
Mercy, that's a lot of activity for one eight-year-old!

These are photos from the family reunion trip. Big Sis and Uncle Bret got tangled up in a pretty hot game of Go Fish. Then, on the way home, Grammy and Nanny made a stop to cool off at Mammoth Spring. I haven't been there in many years, but I remember how pretty it is and how much I liked it. I knew Big Sis would, too.

These are pictures from the trip to the creek near Blanchard Springs, which is TP's favorite summer swimming hole. She was excited to take Big Sis there again. Aunt Pam, Nanny and Val joined them on this trip, too. And Val's sidekick, Jazzy.
It was a fun time for them all and obviously wore out Big Sis and her cousin Piper. 

I am so very glad that mom takes the kids for Grammy Camp every summer. These are the days that I know they'll never forget. They have made so many sweet, special memories, just like the ones I made with my Nanny when I was Big Sister's age. I can remember playing Slap Jack for hours, Nanny making Cheerios and crispy bacon for breakfast and taking me to work with her at the motel where she worked. I'm thrilled to know that my kids will also have their own sweet things they will remember about Nanny and their Grammy.
Grammy Camp is good for us all. But it also makes each homecoming a little sweeter when my babies are all back under the same roof.  The twins leave for Grammy Camp later this week, so I can't wait to see what shenanigans Grammy has in store for them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So this is 40

Well, here I am. Halfway through 2015 and staring right into the eyes of 4-0. Do I feel any differently today? Older? Not really. I felt old two weeks ago, and two years ago...and when I had to become responsible for three small humans. So it's been going on a while,

 Remember back in January when I set some goals for myself? This is probably a good time to check in and see how I'm doing.  Here's the post.
  • The blog makeover: CHECK--I'm still really happy with this one.
  • New furniture: CHECK--I'm happy to report that we did buy a new couch and ottoman during a Memorial Day sale this year. YAY! We still have some more pieces and a new rug to buy, but this goal is mostly complete. Let me say that again: I have a new couch for the first time in my adult life!
  • Get in shape/lose weight/run a half marathon: Ummm, notsomuch.
You see, this is where the whole turning 40 thing is getting in the way. That, and forty-eleven days of rain this spring.  Tara and I decided not to run/walk the LR Half this year because we were both not ready. She started a new job and is now the boss of the world, so she got really busy and quit training. I have been having pain in my feet for over a year, but it's finally under control.  I've been exercising more, but I have decided that I'm just not a runner. That will have to be OK. Forever. I'm still working on the whole "get in shape" thing. I'm eating less junk, eating more veggies, not drinking sodas and trying to do all the right things.
I may not be out running marathons at age 40, but let me tell you what I am doing. I'm riding bikes and taking walks with my kids, and playing in a kickball league. Last Saturday we went roller skating and the very next day went ice skating. I'm doing all the fun things; I'm not sitting down and letting the fun pass by.
Of course, I'm also doing the not-so-fun things that come with getting older. I got my teeth cleaned yesterday (no cavities!) and made an appointment for a mammogram and a physical. I'm being a good, responsible adult. Adulting is hard, y'all.
Well, here's to 40. Bring it.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Vacation, Part II

In addition to our fun at Silver Dollar City, we did a lot of other things that were great for the kids in Branson. And, of course, we shopped a little bit and ate a lot.
More Silver Dollar City photos:

I took the girls for a special date night to see the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid--that was my surprise treat for them! We met my cousin Cody and his family at the show and had a great time visiting with them afterwards. While the girls watched the show, the boys played some mini golf. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of either!
We spent a small fortune at The Track letting the kids ride go carts for the first time. We also had a big splash in the bumper boats and lots of giggles in the bumper cars.
Ironically, after all the activities and all the money spent, the kids' most favorite thing to do is just swim in the pool. We could have skipped everything else and they would have been just as happy! Our condo has a great outdoor pool--that we always had to ourselves--and a huge indoor pool/hot tub combo that we visited late one night. Midnight swimming on vacation is the best!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Vacation, Part I

Last month, the Bramells hit the road for a little family togetherness. We decided to keep it close to home and easy on the wallet this year, so we headed to Branson. Surprisingly, we figured out how to pack a whole lot of fun into just a few days.
Knowing that we weren't planning an extravagant vacation this year, we bought the kids season passes to Silver Dollar City earlier in the spring. We spent a day and a half there--the second day we stayed from open to close! I'd say we've already got our money's worth. We figured out that our kids looooove to ride the rides. Luckily, since most schools had just let out, it wasn't very crowded and the lines were short.
Big Sis has always been a fan of the Thunderation roller coaster, but this year, prepped herself for her first ride on the big daddy Outlaw Run. And once was enough, but she was a trooper! The twins were finally big enough to ride Thunderation with Dad and they both loved it, too. They are pretty adventurous little turkeys, but they each found a ride or two they didn't like.
On our first day in the park, we went on the tour of Marvel Cave. Of all the years going to SDC with my family, I don't think I've ever been in the cave. It was fantastic! And it's free (included in the park price, that is). I totally recommend taking the cave tour if you haven't. It lasted about an hour and held the kids' attention really well. Make sure you wear good, sturdy shoes and take a potty break before starting the tour.
Here are a few photos of our fun day at SDC. I have lots more to post when I get caught up.

 I know that this won't be our last trip to The City this year, so we'll definitely get more use out of those season passes. Stay tuned for more posts about our Bramell Family Fun.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Holy Bike Riders, Batman!

I just need to take a minute to brag on my kids. Over the past few months, they have all upgraded a size on their bikes and really gotten good at handling them.

Back in the fall, when we knew Boy Twin was ready, I found a used 12" bike at the Goodwill store for $5.00. This was his first move to a real bike with pedals and he mastered it in no time at just over age 4. That little red bike was the best five bucks I've spent ever. Girl Twin was still using her balance bike but didn't like it at all that brother had one-upped her. It didn't take her long to catch up, when he would give her a chance to practice on his bike.

Also in the fall, Big Sis decided she wanted to move up a size. I found a used 20" bike for $15 at the Rhea Lana sale and she was all set! By spring time, Boy Twin was ready to move up to Big Sister's old 16" princess bike and Girl Twin was riding the Goodwill bike.

I'm so proud of the little ones riding big bikes before age 5; it took Big Sis until almost age seven to ride without her training wheels. With the little ones, we skipped training wheels altogether. And I'm so glad we did!

At Lee's insistence, we bought both little kids a Strider balance bike when they turned two. He did a lot of research that led us to the purchase. The bikes have no pedals--kids just push with their feet. The concept is that they learn to balance quicker and not rely on training wheels. Thus, we were able to skip training wheels and just go to a big kid bike. Now, I'm not getting anything from Strider for this post. I just want my friends to know that the price tag of a balance bike is WELL WORTH IT! I was hesitant mostly because of the cost (of course, we were buying two), but we found a great closeout sale on them and saved a few bucks. The bikes are durable and they rode them for over two years. Overall, it was a great investment for our family and a great learning tool for the kids. I never dreamed they would be riding bikes in preschool with such ease!
Now we are at another crossroads. We are shopping for Boy Twin his own 16" bike so Girl Twin can have the princess bike. We have to get something "for boys" he says. 

I got my first bike for Mother's Day and I'm ready to hit the trails with my family this summer!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Birthday Happiness!

Today is the day--these kids are FIVE!

I love these kids with all my heart. They challenge me, frustrate me and make me yell. They run, giggle, fight and make the biggest messes.

They love each other and they love me. Our house would be lonely without them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What's Old Is New Again...or something like that

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I took a trip to Oklahoma City to spend the evening with the New Kids on the Block. We took a night off from kid duty and enjoyed our view from the lower level seats. We had a great time, saw a great show and did a lot of reminiscing and a little booty shaking.

Let's just get one thing out of the way, because I know what you are thinking. YES---the median age at the show was likely 37 and it was very obvious. It was a middle-aged, cool mom party. And I'm not (very) embarrassed.

Let me share some thoughts with you about the experience.  You see, this isn't the first time we've seen The Kids.

1. The first time I saw NKOTB, I was 14. My mom drove us and some friends to the show in her minivan. This time, I'm (almost) 40 and I took two days off work and drove myself. However, I did leave my own minivan behind. But from the looks of the parking lot, the minivan club is thriving.

2. This will make you think--when my mom took us to see NKOTB, she was THIRTY-FOUR. Yes, she was younger than the age I am now. She and my dad also took a group of about 6 of us and slept with us on a cold, hard sidewalk overnight in a less than cool part of Memphis to score those tickets.  You know, back before you could just get them online.
3. We drank some beer at the show. Because we could.
4. The New Kids guys are roughly my age. They don't look as old as I feel, let's just say that. I'd take off my shirt, too, if I looked that good. Wowza.

5.  I can't help it, I'll be loving them forever.
6.  Nelly was supposed to open the show, but he couldn't make it. Seems 'ol Nelly is doing most of his rapping in jail these days. We were pretty bummed.
7. However, TLC did a fantastic job opening the show. As you know, it was only T and C but they both looked and sounded great, though a bit tired at times. Hip hop is hard work when you're 40, y'all! I loved hearing so many of their songs from my teen years that I'd already forgotten about.

8. Glad to have shared the fun with my best sister! I'm sure my mom would have gone with us but she was home taking care of all the grandkids....haha.

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