Six

This is the story of a sweet little boy,

Who gets super excited when he opens a new toy,

He laughs, and acts silly and loves to have fun,

I feel blessed to be the mama of these sweet sons.

A house full of friends to help him celebrate,

As he blows out the candle on his cake.

Eating cake and ice-cream on his special day,

And then he gathers all his friends to play.

Happy birthday Alex, you fill my heart with joy,

Seems like just yesterday you were my ten-pound baby boy.

Invisible Empires

Y’all know I love music. My iPod is an eclectic mix of country, contemporary Christian, rap, hymns, R&B, and pop. I’ve got a little bit of everything on there and I typically crank up the volume (I like it loud!) hit the random button and go on about my business.

There are times though when I feel a need to worship. And sing praises. That was the case a few days ago when I was busy with domestic duties. I pulled out the newest release from Sara Groves’ titled ‘Invisible Empires’ and I set about doing all the things I am required to do to keep this place running smoothly. Sara’s soulful voice made my domestic duties less ridiculous because I was focused on the words of her songs and not the layers of dust that stick around no matter how often I try to run it off.

I was immediately pulled in by the first track, “Miracle” and the words spoke to me,

lay down your arms, give up the fight, quiet our hearts for a little while, things have been spoken, shouldn’t be said, rattle around in our hearts and our heads”….  “Let’s feel what we cannot feel, know what we cannot know, heal where we could not heal.”

The fact that God’s love can let us feel what we can’t feel, know what we cannot know and heal where we could not heal, makes his love a miracle. And I am grateful for it.

Her next track, “Obsolete” is a perfect example about the fear that many of us have of being “found out” that we are trying to be something we are not. A middle line in this song gave the album it’s title.

“Though I walk through these invisible empires you are always there to take me in.”

I am comforted by that fact daily and “Obsolete” reminded me of that fact.

My favorite track “Eyes On the Prize” begins with a full church choir singing and big church choirs make me happy. I was also struck by the final track on the album, “Finite”. It’s words ring true with me and probably with most of you, too.

“Fighting to stay younger, trying to stay thin and in control, searching for a magic formula, a thing to soothe our souls, wonderin’ where the peace went.”

Can I get an amen?

It was if Sara was singing directly to me with this one.

Invisible Empires, according to the singer, “acts as a process of sorting through layers of life, gaining a new perspective and finding truth” and those are all things many of us struggle with. I enjoyed Sara’s smooth voice and the simplicity of the album’s message.

To purchase your own copy of “Invisible Empires,” you can click here.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I received a complimentary copy of Invisible Empires to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.

My Words

I have no earthly idea how many words I say in a twenty-four hour period.

Thousands, no doubt.

I can guarantee you though that for every one word that’s spoken, there are at least 163 more running wild and crazy in my head that remain unspoken. And for those of you trying to figure out the true scope of that last sentence, save yourself some trouble and just know that there are A LOT of words I am not saying.

Which is crazy if you know me in real life, because I come from a long line of loud talkers.

It doesn’t always happen that way, mind you. There are plenty of days, actually there are plenty of times each day that the words come flying out of my mouth at lightning speed and the second they leave my lips, I’m standing there with a dumbfounded look on my face wondering why how in the heck that could have happened again.

Dear friends, believe me when I say I am a work in progress.

A big, complex, piece of work with a lot of words stored up.

Words are a huge part of my day.

And the fact that I breathed life to that sentence should tell you something.

Obviously, I use words to communicate with my three fellas (and Lulu too, when she’s awake). And I use words to talk to anybody and everybody I come into contact with. And then there are the words I text. Not to mention the hundreds of words I play each day on the Words With Friends (that might be a stretch, though I doubt it! Sweet mercy, I love that game.) And we can’t forget about the words I play on Hanging With Friends. And the words I use on the telephone, and the e-mail.

And of course there are the words that I record here for all of you to read (which as of this sentence are 372).

Just as it is with the spoken word, you should know that for every word I record here, there are plenty more that go unwritten and unpublished.

Some words never see the light of day on the blog because I decide I can’t make them all go together the way I want to. Others don’t make it out because they are not nice. (Yes, it happens.)

After three years of writing four to five days a week on this blog, I realize that I have actual, honest-to-goodness, living, breathing readers. Which still seems so crazy to me.  To think that complete strangers would be interested in my words is almost more than I can comprehend.

A few days ago I volunteering at the school. I was in the workroom with several other mothers and I mentioned to my friend that McDaddy and I had gone out on a date. Another mother spoke up and said, “Oh yeah, I read that on you blog.” I stopped dead in my tracks and thought to myself, “Oh shoot! People really read that mess.”

Wow. I really need to watch what I say and who I say it about because you never know who might be reading your words.

Of all the words you could be reading, thanks for reading mine!

I appreciate each of you more than words can say.

Just Some Cute Stuff

Hi bloggy friends!

This week’s You Capture challenge is cute.

It’s times like this that I wish I had an infant in the house.

Instead of a rodent.

 

Not that Lulu is not as cute as can be. It’s just that you can’t really cuddle her. Or dress her in fabulously cute clothes.

Except she wasn’t so cute when I discovered that she was on the loose.

In the house.

Not cute. Not cute at all.

And speaking of cute. (Lame transition, I know.)

Just look at these cute little pumpkins that are on our front porch.

One of my favorite cutie patooties,

in his new glasses.

And just because I know y’all have come to expect it… wouldn’t I look cute driving around in this cute car?

Yes, I think so too!

Courageous

McDaddy and I are busy people. He is busy with work and I am busy with all manner of stuff and people and organizations. I was thrilled when he lined up a sitter for Alex and a ride to scouts for Stevie so we could spend an evening together, on a date.

We shopped for Alex’s birthday present, had dinner at Olive Garden, shopped for some pants for Alex, and then we did something wild and crazy.

I smuggled two drinks into a 9:30 PM showing of Courageous (the Christian movie from the creators of Fireproof that focuses on fatherhood). We were the only TWO people in the theater and McDaddy joked that he had set up a private showing of the movie especially for me. We shared popcorn and held hands.

As I watched the movie, I thought about my daily job as Stevie and Alex’s mom. It is the most important job I will ever do, yet, there is no instruction manual and a 100% chance that every single thing I do today will effect their lives tomorrow. And next month. And next year.

That is a scary thought.

There is a scene in the movie where the daughter asks her daddy to dance with her. Her dad declines but watches his daughter sway and twirl in an empty field. It made me think about the number of  times I have declined invitations from my boys to play, or dance, or run, or read a book, opting instead, to cook, fold laundry, blog, or look at Facebook.

I cried crocodile tears when he returned to the empty field to dance.

Without her.

Oh my sweet mercy, such an emotional scene. I hope I don’t ever have to endure the agony of losing a child.

The movie made me think.

And I resolved to do better. 

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I strongly suggest you grab a box of tissues go see it.

What I Learned This Week [On The Baseball Field]

Yes, the title says On the baseball field. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Last spring, Stevie and Alex told us they wanted to sign up for baseball. Based on their ages, Stevie played “coach-pitch” and Alex played “T-ball”.  We made a trip to the Sporting Goods store and spent a small fortune bought all manner of baseball equipment. We spent evening after evening at practices. The baseball field was a huge mud-pit, and I spent lots of days in the laundry room fighting stains and scrubbing cleats. Before the season even got started, I might have whined to McDaddy that the whole thing was ridiculous, and OH MY GOSH WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO?

As I sat and watched the very first game of the season, I was bit by a nasty bug.

A great big baseball bug.

I whooped and hollered and jumped around like a crazy person. And when Stevie got his first hit ( A DOUBLE!!!), I might have dribbled just a bit. (And I’m not talking about a basketball).

Before I knew what hit me, I turned into “that mom”.  Each week, the kids showed improvement, and I showed up excited to cheer our boys on. I spent many a Monday morning in the laundry room, and it became my goal to get every last stain out of those white pants. The season seemed to fly by and I was pretty excited when Stevie said he wanted to sign up for fall ball.

Before the season started, his coach asked if I would “keep the book”. I’m guessing he thought keeping me busy with the book would mean he wouldn’t have to hear me screaming like a crazy person in the stands. (And it worked, for the most part.) I had not the first clue how to “keep the book”, so I did what I always do when I need to learn something.

I hit You Tube.

It was a rough couple of first weeks (both for me and the book, and for the kids because it was the first season of “player-pitch” for several of them). My OCD makes it very difficult to keep the book because the game does not stop for me to make sure the book is neat and tidy. It was a fact that took some getting used to. Still, I enjoyed the book-keeping gig, and the season was a blast because I really got to know the boys. I learned what a full count is, and learned that there is rhyme and reason to the line-up.

After the “official” last game, the coaches told the kids they had scheduled one more game against a team that could be in the World Series.

What he didn’t tell them was that the team “could be in the world series” because they were old.

He also failed to mention that they are slow.

The kids had no idea they were playing their last game of the season against the [old and slow] parents.

The parent/kid game was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I learned more in one day on the ballfield than I learned in two seasons.

1. First base is a busy place.

2. The distance between home and first is a lot farther than what it looks.

 3. Throwing that ball just a few times can cause the arm muscles to ache the next day.

4. There is more than one way to ensure the runners don’t get on base.

5. Even utter chaos can be fun.

6. It’s hard to hit the ball when the coach grabs your bat.

7. This baseball thing is much harder than it looks.

8. The hokey-pokey is not what it’s all about…

9. But makin’ memories is.

10. Some parents were more talented than others. (GO MCDADDY!)

11. The kids enjoyed the opportunity to talk smack to the coach.

Fun memories and good times!
Family time works for me!

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For complete carnival rules, click here.

1. Any time this week, publish your What I Learned This Week post on your blog.

2. Within that post, please mention the What I Learned This Week carnival and link back to this post here at From Inmates To Playdates. If you don’t know how to link, feel free to ask me.

3. Then link up with Mr. Linky down below.

4. Visit the other participants and see what they learned this week. Then leave a comment because comments are fun!

Just A Glimpse

I had a fabulous weekend even though it started out pretty rough. I am tired and sore and ready for bed, so I don’t have the wherewithall to put it all down on the blog right now, but here’s a glimpse into some of the things that happened.

  • Had a balloon blowing-up dilemma.
  • Got a blister on my finger.
  • Broke McDaddy’s air compressor, or at least rendered it useless.
  • Put plan B into motion
  • Liked plan C a lot better
  • Surprised myself
  • Uploaded 200 images from my camera to my laptop.
  • Got a blister on my foot from my fabulous, but uncomfortable orange shoes.
  • Uploaded 200 images from my laptop to facebook.
  • Was relieved when McDaddy fixed his air compressor.
  • Went to bed early.
  • Yelled so much I am hoarse.
  • Got aggravated while uploading 95 pictures from my laptop to Rite Aid.
  • Had dinner at Chilis (Chicken crispers, in case you’re wondering) with good friends.
  • Washed dishes.
  • Cleaned a hamster cage
  • Lulu got loose.
  • Freaked the heck out.
  • Hollered for McDaddy who was in bed.
  • Located Lulu
  • Spent some time getting my heart-rate back to normal.
  • Went to the grocery store and Rite Aid
  • Had three glorious hours by MYSELF on Saturday
  • Currently have an unexplained pain in my hand.
  • Placed a 31 Order
  • Praised God for a beautiful weekend
  • Wondered how my hands got sore.
  • Cleaned out my purse
  • Enjoyed a great Sunday School lesson.
  • Bought 72 cans of pop.
  • Decided I needed a haircut.
  • Planned Alex’s classroom fall party
  • Talked smack to some of the boys on Stevie’s baseball team
  • Baked 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies.
  • Made spider cookies
  • Bought pumpkin pie candles from the Yankee Store.
  • Discussed Alex’s birthday menu
  • Got all teary eyed.
  • Hurt my knee. Again.
  • Took two aspirin.

What did you do this past weekend?

Everyday Is Payday

Before we got pregnant (and by we, I totally mean ME, except that it was a decision we made together), McDaddy and I decided that I would quit work once our baby was born. It was an easy decision, still, I knew it would take some getting used to.

When I worked at the jail, I shared an office (in a large cinder block room with a really comfortable swivel desk chair) with three co-workers that I liked very much. I considered them some of my closest friends, and I knew they had my back. We enjoyed laughs and jokes and even prank calls to my granny pretending to be calling on behalf of the Republican National Convention, just for fun. (I know it sounds bad, but it was all in fun, and you just have to know my granny).

We celebrated milestones. And did lunch. We shared recipes. And met after work for dinner on occasion. We laughed more than we should have at things we shouldn’t have. And we were the dream team.

I enjoyed my job and my co-workers. And there are days that I miss them very much.

Still, I knew that staying home with my baby was the most important thing that I would ever do.

When I cleaned out my desk, I cried like a baby. In my seven years there, I think I kept every single piece of paper that ever came across my desk. My files were neat and orderly, and they were filed by last name and then by date. I was a meticulous record keeper and my desk was rarely ever cluttered. I had a Longaberger address basket and a picture of McDaddy (in a plastic frame of course) on my desk. Our pens had to be accounted for and I used the same pen every single day.

I can remember the exact location of every single thing on my desk. And there are days that I miss it.

There are days that I miss getting up and getting dressed to go to work. I miss the adult conversation, and the laughs that we shared almost hourly in that crazy place. I miss planning where and what we would eat for lunch, and I miss carrying a walkie-talkie. I miss punching a time-clock, and I miss the clipboard that often held more papers than it was supposed to.

I miss being paged on the intercom, and I miss the clanging of the light blue metal bars as I walked through the secured area. I miss scheduling contact visits and I miss the rolling file cabinets in the booking department. I miss getting paid on the 15th and 30th of each month, and I miss the huge gold keys used to open up the tower doors. I miss knowing the details of the criminal activity in our little town. (Crazy, I know.) And I miss having a mailbox. Still, I know I am where I am supposed to be.

I don’t punch a time-clock, but I am on duty 24/7.

The only meticulous records I keep are the ones involving medical bills.

My kitchen counter is rarely neat and orderly, but it is the hub of our living area.

I do not miss getting up early because I still do. Only instead of getting dressed for work, I’m getting two boys dressed and out the door for school each day.

I don’t get paged on an intercom, but I get paged often to right the wrongs of a brother scorned.

 There are no rolling file cabinets in our home but the boys get on a roll reading books.

And that clipboard that I carried? Now, it’s stacked with drawings of Lego Star Wars and Sonic the Hedgehog.

And even though there are days that I miss the job, the paycheck, the adult interaction, and the crazy, I know this is the most important thing I will ever do.

I am a stay-at-home-mom who rarely stays at home. I don’t receive a paycheck, but everyday is  payday.

Thursday Thirteen – Watch This!

Yes, you read that right. I decided to resurrect Thursday Thirteen, mostly because I am at a loss about what to blog about, but also because my friend Becky has been waiting for months for me to bring Thursday Thirteen back.

I had originally thought a Thursday Thirteen about the newest edition to our family would be fun. But I’d like to wait until I have some really good pictures of her before publishing the post, so stay tuned for that. It promises to be a doozie.

Instead, I thought we’d talk about my favorite television shows.

Sweet holy Moses I hope you’re not in a hurry to get out of here because y’all know that I am a television junkie, and I could go on and on for days.

Seriously, if I had an addiction, television would be it.

And Dr. Pepper.

Oh, and Words With Friends, too.

But today we’re talking about me and my television habits, so I’ll stick to the plan.

My thirteen shows are presented in no particular order.

1. Desperate Housewives – I love this show, probably because I am one. I can relate to each of the housewives in one way or another. When I’m wearing my three inch black Tommy Hilfiger boots, I feel like Gabby, but when I’m tripping over my own feet I feel like Susan. When I’m baking McDaddy a batch of chocolate-chip cookies, I’m doing it Bree style (Bree style! I crack myself up!) only without half the etiquette. And of course, in my everyday life, I am crazy, hair-brained Lynette.

But at least Tom’s a hottie, right?

2. Grey’s Anatomy – In my humble opinion, Grey’s Anatomy has some of the best writing on TV. I say some because there is one story line I could do without. I read somewhere that the medical conditions presented on the show are honest-to-goodness conditions that have recently been presented in some of the finest hospitals. And since I’m always in the market for a diagnosis of my latest medical malady, watching Grey’s surely can’t hurt. Plus, how can I not love a show that features a McDreamy, and a McSteamy. The only thing I can’t figure out is why Justin Chambers hasn’t been given a McName. He totally deserves one, but it can’t be McDaddy because that name has already been taken.

3. The Young and the Restless – I have been a faithful Y&R viewer for most of my life. I first remember watching Y&R when I was in the 6th grade. Don’t judge. I recognize that I was more than a little young for all of that. The good news is that I was limited to summer viewing because at that time the show wasn’t important enough for me to record it on the VCR. (For you young guns, the VCR came just before the DVR).  For more than 25 years I’ve been tuning into the happenings of Genoa City, Wisconsin. I’ve been to every one of Victor and Nikki’s weddings, and I even remember watching Katherine Chancellor’s on-air facelift back in 1984. Still to this day, I am a huge fan and I tune in daily.

4.  Dancing With The Stars – I’ll give you three reasons why I love this show. 1. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, 2. Derek Hough, 3. Mark Ballas. But mostly just Maks. Not sure who came up with this concept, but I’m thankful. And did I mention because Maks and his booty is on there?

5. American Idol – I love everything about American Idol, but I mostly love the coverage of the audtion weeks. McDaddy and I get into this big discussion every season about how they just like to embarass the contestants that really can’t sing. I say if you’re dumb enough to audtion with a nasty, raspy, out of tune voice, then we should get to watch it.

6. The View – I know. I know. This one is bad. I said I KNOW. Still, I tune in everyday, mostly so I can keep up with Hot Topics. How could I not love listening to five ladies try to talk over top of each other. Barbara gets on my last nerve pretty often, but there’s one in every bunch.

7. Mike & Molly – It is refreshing to see “normal” people on television. Plus, Molly is hysterical.

8. Toddlers & Tiaras – This one might be worse than The View, but I can’t stop watching it. A few, Some, Most of those parents are off. the. hook and living in a dream world.

9. Wheel of Fortune – I don’t watch this one very often because I don’t normally watch television at 7PM, but, in all honesty, years of watching Wheel of Fortune probably explains why I enjoy “Hanging With Friends” so much.

10. Criminal Minds – This one should be a no-brainer, seeing as how I worked with hardened criminals and shady convicts. Still, I rarely figure out who the “unsub” is until the BAU (Behavior Analysis Unit) has them at gun-point. McDaddy though? Nails it everytime.

11. Body of Proof – Dana Delaney is a surgeon turned medical examiner, and just like Criminal Minds, it shouldn’t surprise you.  

12 – Amazing Race – McDaddy and I were faithful viewers of Amazing Race until we repeatedly missed 94% of the show because Sunday night football took over the spot on the DVR where Amazing Race should have been. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, so I just removed it from the DVR docket. Problem solved.

13. Undercover Boss – Not sure if this one is even on the air this season, but I never watched one single episode without crying. What can I say, except that I’m a big cry baby. I loved watching the transformation of the bosses and hearing the stories of their employees. Kudos to whomever came up with this idea.

And there you have it. My thirteen favorites.

I’m sure that Becky is somewhere smiling behind her laptop. (Call me Beck, we need to do breakfast!)

Happy Thursday, y’all!

Rebel With A Cause

I have been wanting a DSLR (digital, single lens reflex) camera for quite sometime. And then my boys signed up for baseball, and the best picture I could get from the stands with my point and shoot was one like this,

Which is fine if you have no desire to see your kid’s face.

Or even know if it’s really your kid you’re taking a picture of.

So, I did what I do when I am in the market for a big-ticket item.

I whined hinted to McDaddy.

For months.

I also called my professional photographer brother-in-law for his opinion on the Nikon/Canon war. In his humble opinion, the Canon Rebel is considered the “soccer mom camera”, while the Nikon is apparently considered the “professional photographers of America unite” camera.

Or something like that.

He strongly suggested I get the Nikon. First, because it’s his personal favorite. Secondly, he could show me all the bells and whistles it has to offer. And thirdly, because I could borrow his lenses. He also suggested I purchase a used body from eBay and use my money for a really good lens.

I wasn’t too hyped up on the used body thing, but I was willing to take a chance.

That is, until I went on a pricing mission one day. I ultimately ended up at SAMS and couldn’t believe the “deal” they had on the Soccer mom Canon Rebel T3. Even though neither of my boys play soccer, I couldn’t pass up the deal.

Just look at this beauty.

And yes, the telephoto lens IS the bomb diggity.

Because now, I can sit way up in the stands, and watch the dust fly through my lens.

And see the surprised expression on MY kid’s face!

And if that’s not enough…

Remember the beautiful beach pictures from this past summer?

You can blame them all on the Canon Rebel because seriously all I did was push the shutter.

Except in the case of this picture,

because my sister-in-law, Stephanie  pushed the shutter.

But still, a beautiful picture.

The Canon Rebel works for me!

***In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been compensated in ANY way for the personal opinion expressed in this post. I happen to be a satisfied customer who can now take beautiful pictures, and I know there are others out there in the market for an easy-to-use, wonderful camera.***