Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birfday Thursday {Debbie Arnold}

We are on week 3 of Birfday Thursday.  I've been so excited to host my friends Laurie and Rhonda and today I welcome another new friend from my new life in NWA and blogger world.  I "met" Debbie through Arkansas Women Bloggers (yes, the one where I'm playing the role of Miss April).  When Rhonda came back from the AWBU conference in 2012, I was so jealous of all the ladies she got to meet in real life and once I determined I was going to join her in 2013, I decided to start stalking following some of these amazing ladies she kept talking about.  Debbie Arnold was one such lady.  A former teacher and current home cook (among other amazing titles), I was enamored with her travels and the food discoveries she made along the way.  I not only loved looking at the recipes she was sharing, but I even more enamored with the stories that they bore.  August of 2013 came and the first person I laid eyes on once we finally arrived at "camp" was @diningwithdeb.  She was gracious, she was courteous, she had the most heart warming smile and she said "get ya a plate".  We were instantly connected.  I've adored getting to know this sweet woman over the past year.  I'm grateful for her online encouragement and the words of truth she speaks into my life.  She gives great hugs and always lifts your spirits.  And, beyond all that, she inspires me so much in this world of writing, blogging and is gifted at mentoring the rest of us who are still learning!  (must be the lifetime teacher!)
I promise you her blog will not disappoint, her recipes will please your family and her stories will warm your heart!
If it’s April, It Must Be a Birthday

By Debbie Arnold of DiningWithDebbie

My family broke the record when it came to April birthdays.  There’s my crazy cousin Libby (don’t worry; I call her that to her face), Uncle Raymond, Libby’s dad, 

and  my niece Tonia;

Oh and there’s Ryan, and Seth, and Kyle – all brothers whose mother just happens to be crazy-you-know-who.

My mom whose birthday fell on April 15, tax day, bless her heart. 

Uncles who live around the world in places like Guam and  Australia that you’ve mostly never met except to exchange  birthday greetings.  They  may seem like strangers, but they’re not.  They’re family.  Nothing breaks those ties that bind  here in the South.
Let’s not forget Cousin Chaz’s hubby Nick and their daughter --- they belong in April as well.

Those cousins twice and triple removed and far too numerous to mention lest you get slap-dab bored and leave before I get around to the real birthday story.

You see, my dad turned 90 years old on April 12.  Yes, ninety.  The big Nine O.  In my mind, that’s a pretty big deal.  And a reason to celebrate. Really.

My dad is the oldest son, the third child of seven, and is one of two still living. When he quit school in the 8th grade it was to go to work and join the Army and become a man.  He’s. a veteran two times over, most of which he won’t talk about even to this day.  Many who know him would say he’s a self-educated man.   He’s loyal and faithful and honest and he loves his family.   For the most part, he survived, relatively unscathed, the tribulations of raising two daughters born five years apart which, of course, means puberty hung around our household for quite a long time.

The two granddaughters and one grandson introduced four great grandsons and one great granddaughter into his life, most of whom came to help him celebrate his special day.  What made it even more special was that he shared his celebration with his great granddaughter, my granddaughter,  who is another of those April birthday babies.  Only she’s turning seven, not double-digit ninety --- a span of 83 years made incredibly small by the bond of family.

Perfect Girl. is as absolutely sweet and genuine and caring as they come.  When asked, she’ll tell you that she wants to be a mommy and a cheerleader. She leaves most  sports to her big brother whom she adores, although she’ll take you on at tennis or swimming any day. She’ll entertain you with violin or piano recitals and meet any challenge given to her in gymnastics.  Curly headed like her momma and Nana, she sometimes prefers pigtails over bows and is just fine with that.  PG doesn’t get to spend much time with her great grandfather.  The distance between and the demands of what just is makes it a two to three times a year encounter.  And when you’re 6, the grasping of all that lineage, who is who, and how they came to be family, is just not something to be understood or remembered.  Except you can just know that it’s family, and that it is important for you to know that.

So because her great grandfather was turning 90, and not because it was her birthday as well, she came to celebrate.  She came to craft birthday cards, to set the tables, to align the forks and plates just so, to fill the cups with ice or center the plates of food properly on the serving tables as only she can do.  To help because being helpful is something she enjoys

And she came to take her great grandfather by the hand and help him cut his birthday cake because birthday cakes are very important.  When you’re 6 or even when you’re 90, they’re important.  And they are even more important when you get to pick the color (pink, of course) and the flavor (strawberry, of course) with real chocolate-covered fruit (strawberries, of course) because you just know in your heart of hearts that pink and strawberry are absolutely what Pa wants for HIS birthday cake.  And, as usual, she was right.  Pa, had he been given the choice, would have most certainly made those very same choices.
Because, well because.  That’s what families do when they come together across the miles of time and space to share in celebrations of lives well spent and lives becoming.  It’s what is important whether you’re 90 or 7.  It’s a hug and a smile and a knowing that you are loved.  

Instagram (diningwithdebbie)

I get to spend part of my birthday weekend with my Papa.  I think I might hug him a little harder after this one!  Thank you Debbie

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Birfday Thursday {Rhonda Bramell}

Second week of Birfday Thursday, I'm hosting my gal pal Rhonda.  When I tell you this gal is funny, I'm not using my usual means of sarcasm.  Rhonda was one of my first northwest Arkansas friends.  We worked together when I first moved here and she quickly reached out to me in the way only a kindhearted, concerned person can.  She spoke early truth to me, taught me the importance of setting boundaries, then she started telling me stories and our friendship has never turned back.  She is the kind of friend that lets you show up unannounced on a Friday night and invites you in to her back yard cook out.  She is the kind of friend who lets you pour too much coolants down her car pipes when your stranded in her mini van on the side of the road.  She is the kind of friend that lets you do the ugly cry at her desk and kindly offers a Kleenex and she is the kind of friend who lets you love on her zany babies when you need a kid fix! 

I promise if you will make Bramell, Party of Five a regular "drop by" to your week, you will be sending me flowers and Sonic gift cards in no time!

Birthdays: The First Ones are the Best

Hi, I’m Rhonda!  I live in Springdale and blog over at Bramell, Party of Five  where I chronicle all the crazy that goes on in my household.  I have a really bad memory, and no time for making cutesy baby books, so my blog helps me with both of those things.  I have a first grader (Big Sis) and a set of mischievous twins (Boy/Girl Twin) to wrangle.   I’m excited to share a few of our birthday memories with you in honor of KP’s big birthday month.
When I was growing up, birthdays weren’t really a big deal in our house.  Of course, there were the huge milestone ones with big parties and gifts, but for the most part, we were a “card and favorite dinner” kind of family.  And I never really thought much about it.  Fast forward to having my own kids.  Oh dear! With my three, we are constantly talking about birthdays---where to have a party, who will come, what gifts they want—it’s a year-round obsession.
I have to say that my favorite birthdays with each of my kids were the first.  There is just something you cannot explain about seeing that little angel face looking very puzzled at the cake in front of them, right before diving head-first into it.  Here are some photos of my kids’ first birthdays, which we celebrated at home each time.  It was nice, small and easy.  And it’s probably the only time it will be that way.
Now, I don’t want to deprive my kiddos of any birthday experiences, but I also need to keep things manageable.   In our family of five, our birthdays all fall back to back—May, June, July and August.  That makes for a busy (and potentially expensive) summer.  Up to this point, we’ve been able to have one party for all three kids to share and it’s worked beautifully, especially since the families we invite usually have kids that fall into both the age groups.  The way I see it, I’m saving us all the trouble of going to an additional party!

Really, it doesn’t matter if you do birthdays in a big or small way; just do it the way that works best for you.  Take time to enjoy the day with friends and family, or do something nice for yourself.  And, if you have little ones, I hope the first birthdays provide you with the kind of happy memories and a full heart like mine did for me.

About Me:

I live in Northwest Arkansas with my husband and three kiddos. I work full-time in retail marketing.  In my spare time, I write at Bramell, Party of Five (link:, where I’ve been blogging for seven years.   Life with twins + 1 is a crazy, busy life but definitely provides me with lots of creative inspiration.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Birfday Thursday {Laurie Marshall}

I'm starting my Birfday Thursday April celebration with my new friend Laurie.  I met Laurie through another awesome friend you will get to meet next week.  But, Laurie hates cancer too and was an awesome champion for us last summer when we enrolled over 250 folks in Northwest Arkansas in our Cancer Prevention Study-3.  She is a cool mom, super creative, very giving and somewhere in the midst of all that seems to always have herself pulled together and her beautiful red curls tamed to perfection. 

See Laurie write....about birthdays!

When I turned thirteen my step-mom turned the birthday celebration up a few notches to celebrate my entrance into my teen years. In addition to the standard cake and ice cream, I received a satchel packed with gifts wrapped in tin-foil, and labeled with a tag that said “Teenage Survival Kit”. The tin-foil hid Clearasil, a Seventeen magazine, and assorted other accoutrements of girls in their teens (in the 70s). There was also a note with instructions leading to a full-length mirror. 

It seems silly to think back on that kit now, but let me tell you, that full-length mirror was awesome! This was pre-cell phone, pre-computer, pre-pretty-much-every-thing-13-year-olds-have-today. No cell-phone cases or iTunes gift cards… no video games or mani-pedi treats. It was harsh. 

(by the time I was 15, I was pretending that
birthdays really didn't matter. Silly teenager.)
When my brother was preparing for his daughter’s 13th last fall, he asked for advice from me and my sister, and I told him about the kit. But things are sooooooo different in 2013 compared with 1978. OMG. (For one thing, no one spoke in acronyms.)

I listed the things I could remember from the kit, and one by one they were all deemed to be anti-climactic to a 13-year-old girl living in today’s world. Clearasil has been replaced by Proactiv, and girls have been caring for their faces since elementary school. My mom bought me my FIRST MAKEUP for my 13th birthday. My niece, on the other hand, has been wearing makeup since she was nine or ten. Next.

Seventeen magazine is not the magazine I used to read. When I received that copy for my birthday, Brooke Shields was on the cover, and there was a fashion spread full of models wearing cute, age-appropriate clothing while roller-skating. Today’s Seventeen is definitely more appropriate for girls who are actually 17. Or 21. (And here is where I begin to feel like an old lady.)

Full length mirror? Pssshhhh. Again, she’s had one for years. Next.

My sister and I finally did give my brother some appropriate and, I hope, creative ideas for a 13-year-old of 2014. Probably, my sister did a better job. Thinking about how times have changed definitely set me back on my heels a bit. My sister wasn’t even born yet when I turned 13, so she missed the late 70s. They were good years – apart from the unfortunate truth that was naturally curly hair pre-Aussie Sprunch Spray. (Thank god it came along in the next decade so I could have a relatively enjoyable early-20s.) 

My birthdays today are not quite as anticipated, nor are they elaborately celebrated. A nice dinner out, a movie that I get to pick, a few cards from friends and family, and Country Living has replaced Seventeen for my evening reading material… And that’s just fine with me. I chalk it up to being old enough to appreciate the days as they come and to avoid spectacles. Or maybe I don’t want to know what’s in the “Over the Hill Survival Kit”. 

Make sure you check out Laurie's blog - See Laurie Write - Facebook and Twitter.  Her wit and wisdom will keep you inspired!  And, if you ever need a great freelance writer or someone to work with on some creative brainstorming with, holler at your girl! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

wordless weekend {kate was here}

Make sure you come back by tomorrow to meet the first of my Birfday Thursday guests!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's April, I'm a fool

Its April, one of my favorite months of the year. 

It's the month of my birth!

Its the month of my cancer diagnosis anniversary.

The flowers finally bloom.

Snow is usually over with.

My calendar gets really busy with lots of fun things.

Relay For Life season kicks off !  (tis the season means something totally different in my book)

And this year....well, you will just have to wait until later in the day for that one.  Make sure you watch twitter. 

To help me celebrate all these awesome things, I've invited some of my favorite bloggy friends (and yes I even know all of them in real life) to stop by every week for what I'm calling "Birfday Thursday".  So, every Thursday this month (and even a bonus Monday treat), you will get to meet one of the ladies that I admire in bloggy world and enjoy spending time with in real life!  Double Bonus!!!!  They are funny, good cooks, creative, hate cancer and are super witty.  All the good basis for a great friendship!

So, stick around, stop by....if for no other reason on Thursday's just to meet them.

Oh and I'm not in to practical jokes, so be nice today!

Don't be a fool!

And, if you really have something mischievous up your sleeve, we have a war going on with the LSU Relay For Life - we are trying to beat them in income this week.  you are welcome to help me with the Beat Down!

Keisha's U of A Relay For Life Donation page