A Friendly Reminder

There is a lot going on at From Inmates To Playdates, this week.

We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with McDaddy’s family over the weekend, AND, we had house guests! The boys triple-loved their cousins staying here for a ‘sleep-over’.

I’ll post pics later because I’m up to my eye-balls in laundry, but for now, I wanted to remind you about the two giveaways I’m running this week…

Go here to sign up for 3 awesome Christmas CDs (Toby Mac, Mattthew  West and David Crowder) and go over here to sign up for a 3-month membership to Math Blaster.

You have until the weekend to sign-up, but really, why would you wait?

Math Blaster [Giveaway]

When I received an e-mail recently asking if we’d (my boys and I) like to try out Math Blaster, I chuckled because if you’ve spent any amount of time around here, you know that math is not my strong suit. Thankfully, Stevie got a math gene from his daddy because he loves math and he doesn’t struggle when it comes time to regroup a subtraction problem.

Me, on the other hand?

Well, I still use my fingers to count if that tells you anything.

He was eager to get started on the game because he loves a good video game more than anything in this world. Math Blaster is great because it is a fun arcade-style video game that incorporates math into its space-themed site. Funny thing is, I’m not even sure my kids realized that math was the focus because they were busy exploring the space port and raising their pets. In a nut-shell, Math Blaster is a futuristic online adventure site that is filled with wacky aliens, gadgets, and lots of math.

The Math Blaster Site says:

Once your kids are logged in and on board the spaceship to Math Blaster, they are able to design their own Blaster Cadet, a personalized avatar that will run, jump and blast through the Math Blaster spaceship. Using the Molecular Modulator, kids have their choice of different hair styles, eyes, mouths, heights and even species for their Blaster Cadet! As your kids progress through the game and tackle the math training activities, they will earn merits and achievements. When they earn merits, your kids will climb the ranks in the Intergalactic Space Patrol (ISP), and their Blaster’s uniform will be upgraded for all of Math Blaster to see!

What I loved most about the arcade-style math site is that my six year old enjoyed it just as much as my eight year old did, and I think this is largely due to the fact that it had a nice variety of math subjects with different levels of difficulty. Both were able to quickly navigate the site and they both LOVED creating their own avatars to play with. The whole space theme added to the fun experience. When I asked my eight year old what his favorite part of the site was, he had trouble choosing just one. He mentioned the power up park, the training center and the larvae den. His “most favorite place” though was the  Monster Mutt Dome. His favorite game was B Force Blaster.

I love that this “video-game” is educational, and I enjoyed visiting the Math Blaster blog to learn more about the game and the site. Stevie enjoyed looking at the blog, too.

*Knowledge Adventure’s Math Blaster is proof that video games can be educational and fun! As a parent, I love that.

Knowledge Adventure is the creator of award-winning educational products like JumpStart and Math Blaster and is trusted by over 20 million parents. You can find our virtual worlds online at www.MathBlaster.com and www.JumpStart.com. In the Math Blaster galaxy, kids can explore a futuristic world, voyage to strange new planets and discover wacky alien races, all while practicing their math skills. At JumpStart.com, kids can explore magical worlds, discover and unlock games, videos, and storybooks that teach everything from math to reading.

That’s what I learned this week! If you’re linking up to What I Learned This Week, you can do that at the bottom of the post.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The fine folks at Math Blaster have graciously offered to provide a free 3-month membership to Math Blaster online to one lucky FITP reader. To enter, simply leave a comment telling me the name and age of the child that would use the membership. I’ll pick a winner with the help of Random.Org on Sunday evening.

“Disclosure: I was provided with a membership good for Math Blaster and Knowledge Adventure at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.”

—-

EDITED TO INCLUDE WINNER:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

7

Timestamp: 2011-12-06 17:42:40 UTC

Congratuations to Paula who was commentor #7 – December 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm!

I’ll be in contact, Paula.

A Whole Lot Of Awesome [Music Giveaway]

A few weeks ago, I received a blog-pitch asking if I’d like to review three new Christmas CD’s from, get this… David Crowder, Matthew West, AND Toby Mac.

And I said something like, SIGN. ME. THE HECK. UP.

That is a whole lot of awesome right there.

When I ripped the package open, I was like a giddy school girl.

Now that iAddicted to Apple products, I rarely ever purchase a CD anymore, which is unfortunate because that also means I rarely ever see a CD cover or get to leaf through the little lyric/thank you booklet included in the record. (Am I the only one who reads those things?)

ANY. WAY. Back to the music. I love the way that each of these artists breathed new life into ages old Christmas carols.

Now, just for fun, which one do you think I fought with for seventeen minutes because that wrapper is a pain in my behind ripped open first? (What is up with that?)

If you guessed Toby Mac’s Christmas In Diverse City, you’d be right!

Y’all.

Toby does not disappoint. You’ll hear rap, disco, traditional, and straight-up funk, all wrapped up in one hip-hop package. The first half of the album features Toby Mac doing what he does. The second half features Diverse City’s band singing some seriously unconventional Christmas music. Still, I enjoyed it. My favorites on Toby’s record are Christmas This Year and O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Next, I busted out some Matthew West.

His first Christmas CD (The Heart Of Christmas) can be summed up with two words.

Awesome. Ness.

With a mixture of swing (Jingle Bells), emotional (One Last Christmas) and traditional, along with performances with Mandisa, Vince Gill, and Amy Grant, Matthew’s record offers something for everybody. The opening track, One Last Christmas, has inspired a made-for-television film premiering December 4th on GMC entitled The Heart Of Christmas. My personal favorites on Matthew’s record are O Come, All Ye Faithful and Jingle Bells.

I’m seeing a trend here with O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Lastly, I gave David Crowder’s record Oh For Joy a whirl.

In true Crowder band style, David Crowder’s Christmas record is everything you would expect an album of his to be. His unique voice, paired with his unique style makes classic Christmas carols seem not so classic. Crowder’s entire album is comprised of popular Christmas carols, though he spruces them up with acoustical and bluegrass (Angels We Have Heard Oh High) performances that include a banjo and a fiddle.

My favorite, Go, Tell It On The Mountain is a new-improved, souped-up version of the original and I really like it, which is weird because I’ve always thought the whole “Go Tell It On The Mountain” thing was a bit weird. Still, I appreciated that it made my least favorite chore of dusting a little less ridiculous because I was dancing around like a crazy person.

And speaking of housework, today, I should be hollering singing, “Go, Tell It On The Mountain” over the hills and eve-ry-wh-ere, Go tell it on the mountain, I have a big mountain of laundry over there. But you didn’t come here to read all about my laundry pile, right?

I didn’t think so.

Can you believe that Media Collective has graciously offered to give this same set to one lucky reader here at From Inmates To Playdates? To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite Christmas song is. I’ll be choosing a reader at random on Thursday morning using Random.Org, so get to it!

I don’t normally do this, but I love these records so much I want to spread the word… I’ll give extra entries for posting the giveaway link on Facebook or Twitter. Just be sure to come back here and leave another comment letting me know that you shared it!

—–

In the interest of full disclosure, and to keep the FTC off my back, be it ye known that I was sent two sets (one to facilitate this review and one to give away) of the above mentioned CDs. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

—-

UPDATED TO ADD TWO WINNERS:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

4

Timestamp: 2011-12-06 17:34:38 UTC

Congratuations to Amy who was commentor #4  – November 28, 2011 at 1:54 am

AND, because I am nice and all that, I’m going to also give my set of CD’s to a lucky winner. Let’s try this again!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

29

Timestamp: 2011-12-06 17:37:53 UTC

Congratuations to Sara who commented on December 1, 2011 at 7:09 am!

I’ll be in contact with both winners!

 

A Thankful Heart

Thankful for so many things today.

Earlier this week, I had a humbling experience that brought me to tears. It made me stop and REALLY think about all of the things in my life that I take for granted.

I need to do that more often.

I also need to be thankful for all of the goodness in my life.

From the McFamily to your family, Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Cryin’ The Blues

Hi friends! Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, You Capture is posting a day early, so I thought I’d play along as I watch the Dancing With The Stars Finale even though my boyfriend got booted off last week.

And yes, I have been cryin’ the blues to anyone who would listen since then, because 1. Maks is hot and 2. because Maks is hot.

His hotness and my crazy would make a fun, fabulous pair. Wouldn’t you agree?

And THIS, my friends is what happens when I’m feeling fun and fabulous.

 

Blue has always been one of my favorite colors. That fact is evidenced by the TONS of blue in our great room. In fact, this accent chair is my all time favorite piece of furniture, mostly because of the beautiful shade of blue against the yellow.

And see the yellow door back there?

Close your eyes and count to three.

Abracadabra Alakazam.

Voila.

How cool was that?

Don’t you wish all of your painting projects were as easy as that one?

Oh, and speaking of easy….

Lame transition, I know.

How easy would it be to fall in love with this blue sucker?

The only time I’d cry the blues in this sexy ride is when it rained.

And when it was time to pick up the kids from school.

Have a great Thanksgiving y’all!

What I Learned This Week

It’s that time again, folks.

Here’s what I learned this week:

1. When you receive a letter in the mail regarding a school meeting, perhaps instead of throwing it in the trash because you have it on your calendar, maybe you should READ IT on the off chance that you are receiving the letter because the meeting date has changed.

This next one is a doozy.

2. Antivenom is a biological product used in the treatment of venomous bites or stings. Antivenom is created by milking venom from the desired spider, snake, or insect. The venom is then diluted and injected into a goat, horse or sheep. The subject animal will undergo an immune response to the venom, producing antibodies against the venom’s active molecule which can then be harvested from the animal’s blood and used to treat envenomation.

3. The spring cookie dough fund-raiser at the boys’ school, was NOT a fluke. As it turns out, having the sale in the fall yields the same profit result.

4. Having unexplained question marks splayed throughout your blog might be enough to make you crazy crazier.

5. It is virtually impossible for me to recite “The Pledge Of Allegiance” without crying since deployment.

6. People actually read this blog.

Such was the case over the weekend when hubs was talking to a mother at basketball practice. After realizing he was married to me, she exclaimed, “then that makes you McDaddy!”

7. Those who get less than seven hours of sleep each night, are three times more likely to develop symptoms of the common cold than those who slept eight or more.

Or so Stevie says.

8. Flossing your teeth can add 6 years onto your life.

It’s a wonder I’m not already dead.

That’s what I learned this week. What did YOU learn?

——

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!

Causing A Scene

Welcome to Not Me! Monday, where I share a few things I might or might not have done this week.

“Why,” you might ask?

Well, because it’s cheaper than therapy.

I never, ever, dance around the house (in my underwear) singing Adele at the top of my lungs while getting ready.

Now, that would be a scene, wouldn’t it?  In case you’re wondering, I cannot sing, and I most certainly cannot dance.

It’s not me who goes to an outlet mall with three girlfriends, but prefers to shop alone because I enjoy taking my time and shopping at only those stores who have things that I like to shop for. I also don’t take breaks from shopping to use the bathroom and check Facebook.

Nope, not me, because I never check Facebook while doing my business in the bathroom. Ever.

And speaking of business, it wasn’t me who stood her ground at the ‘Under Armour’ store when the manager person refused to honor a 20% off sign because “um, that sign should have been removed from that rack yesterday, but I got busy”.

Couldn’t have been me, because I would never cause a scene over a  $20.00 savings. Nah, never.

I did not get excited when I discovered that we have You Tube on our fancy new digital TiVo. Nor did I sit and giggle about some of the “most frequently watched” scenes videos for more than an hour the other day.

And finally, I would never ask McDaddy if we could go ahead and put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I never, ever, rush anything.

Ever.

In fact, you will never find a more patient person than me.

Ahem!

What kinds of stuff did you NOT DO this week?

Over My Dead Body

I spent yesterday sitting around my dining room table with three PTA volunteers from Stevie and Alex’s school. We closed out a fund-raiser and had the tedious task of processing the orders and counting all the money. As women often do, we talked about a wide variety of topics. At one point, we even talked about funerals. It reminded me of a post I wrote early on here on the blog. I dedicated an entire post to my funeral.

Yes, I said funeral.

And yes, I am crazy.

And as if that’s not enough, I am a control freak. (I am a joy to live with. Just ask McDaddy.) So, while I’m still living and breathing and controlling stuff, I thought Id take another opportunity to outline my wishes for my funeral.

It will be one final attempt to have full control over my life. Even if I no longer have it.

That, and because one can never be too prepared.

Oh, and in case I kick off, could one of y’all remind McDaddy about this post?

First, I want the best coffin money can buy. Mahogany, perhaps?

Expensive?

Well sure but, look at it this way. My coffin will be the absolute last gift anyone will ever buy for me. Ever. So, why not splurge? Especially when you consider that it will be my final resting place.

Sounds final, doesn’t it?

My first choice would be a Longaberger Basket Casket, but if the Longaberger’s haven’t created that bad boy (which makes no sense, because y’all know they would sell!) a top-of-the-line solid mahogany casket will be fine.

This one is perfect.

Keep in mind, I said solid and mahogany, not pressed and wood.

When it comes time to order my flowers, I prefer brightly colored gerber daisies. Lots of them! And as an added bonus, be sure to stick a candle down in the middle of the flowers so that the area around my solid mahogany casket will smell good. (Preferably Cranberry Chutney from Yankee Candle).

When picking out my “burial suit” (as my granny calls it!) keep in mind that I want to look good while I’m displayed in all my glory. I think red would be the perfect choice. If I am to have all manner of friends and family weeping over my dead body, it is important that I look good. And just before the festivities kick off, give me a couple squirts of Romance – my favorite perfume – by Ralph Lauren.

I DO NOT WANT TO SMELL LIKE CORPSE.

Now, this next one is a biggie.

Please, please, please whatever you do – do not display me in a funeral home where it smells of flowers and musk. I worship at a wonderful church with my family. I am respectfully requesting that you haul my hind-end out Route 21 and roll me right up the middle of the sanctuary. Our church has ample parking for the huge crowd that will surely be there and it is a beautiful place that is special to me.

I have already talked to Bryan (my mortician friend) and given him strict instructions to please NOT wire my mouth completely shut. I watched an embalming one time and I made it clear that I needed a little bit of slack in that wire. The thought of having my jaws wired shut for all of eternity is more than I can handle. In high school, my jaws were wired shut for six whole weeks. It was not pretty, my friends. Not pretty at all.

Because I want attendees to be relaxed and comforted, the musical selections are very important. I would prefer piano (playing classical hymn selections) or saxophone (Kenny G) music played during my viewing. Something to sooth the mind and the soul. During the actual funeral I would like for our choir director (Chris) to sing, “It Is Well With My Soul” because, well, IT IS WELL! Then, as people are making their way to the front of the church for one last look at me, I would like for Chris to sing “I Can Only Imagine,” because one can really only imagine what they will do when their day comes. I can’t imagine what it will be like; all I know is that I’m ready.

For good measure and because I want to drag this thing out as long as possible, I would also like for someone to play Selah’s version of Take My Hand, Precious Lord and Lead Me Home. And if you’ve never heard that song, you should go find it right this minute and listen to it.

Good ahead. I’ll wait.

As mourners are walking out of the church, “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” should be blaring (from my favorite movie, Dirty Dancing) because anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve had a good life.

Now, for the burial. To insure that mahogany casket doesn’t get all water-logged, it will be necessary to spend a little extra so that I can have a place in the wall.

Because I can’t bear the thought of being lowered into the ground, I’d like for you to slide my fabulous mahogany casket into the wall, preferably at eye level so that my name-plate can be read easily. And as an added bonus, I will forever be comfortable – cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

I’ve lived a good life, have wonderful friends, an awesome family, and I am ready to meet my maker. What more could a girl ask for? As you stand over my dead body which will be sprawled out in that fabulous mahogany casket, enjoying the smell of my sweet perfume, I want you to think about our good times.

In other words, celebrate me!

You can even cry if you want to. But just know that when you get to Heaven you can find me at the Emerald Fountain (in my glorified body MIND YOU!) eating a swiss cake roll.

I’ll be the one dressed like an angel, singing like a song-bird, organizing the next block party.

Hope to see you there!

I Kiss Better Than I Cook

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love to have fun.

I make sure my everyday normal life is fun because life is short. Even for a princess. For that reason, I sometimes wear this around the house just because I can.

And just to be sure you understand my brand of royalty, have a look at my hot chocolate mug. 

The McPalace is filled with all sorts of fun things.

Take this sign for instance,

And yes, before you ask.

It. is. true.

And even though I obviously didn’t take this one, I think you’ll admit it screams holy cow look at her wrinkles fun.

And speaking of fun, y’all knew this was coming… No You Capture post of mine would be complete without this FUN ride,

See that minivan in the background… Would y’all join me in prayer that someone WOULD BUY THE SUCKER.

Pretty please.

That is all.

Have a fun Thursday, y’all.

Christmas Card Extravaganza

The Christmas card extravaganza is a big deal around here.

And I say extravaganza because that is exactly what it is.

I start early, usually sometime in November. I hand-sign approximately 200 cards with fine-tip Christmas Sharpie, and write a personalized message in each one. After that, I sit down to write one of those dreaded a Christmas letter with a twist of humor.

All of this, AFTER I get my people dressed in coordinating attire, threaten them with bodily harm if they don’t “give me your best smile and keep looking straight at the camera until we’re done” and hold my breath that my hair will cooperate through it all. Because the biggest wild-card of the day?

My hair. By a New York mile.

Don’t ask me why I used the whole New York mile thing, because as far as I know a New York mile is the same distance as any other mile. It just sounded fancier than a plain mile.

ANYWAY.

While we were at the beach this summer, I got my people dressed in matching attire and we headed to the beach for a few spur-of-the-moment-spontaneous beach pictures. I was thrilled when I looked back at the pictures to find out that my hair was as close to perfect as it would ever get. And I made the decision at that very minute to use that set of pictures for our annual Christmas picture instead of getting my people matched in matching Christmas attire and spending the better part of an hour hounding the children to SMILE in my brother-in-law’s photography studio.

In light of my almost perfect hair day, you can imagine how excited I was to receive an e-mail from Shutterfly giving me 25 free Christmas cards.

Once I got started, it took me approximately 93 hours because I am indecisive, but just have a look at this bad boy:

Y’all.

This card makes me smile.

It makes me smile because THE BEACH. WE’RE ON THE BEACH.

Shutterfly’s Christmas card selection is massive. The good news is you can narrow your search depending on the number of pictures, orientation of pictures, color of card, style of card, and on and on.

See?

Lots and lots of choices.

I actually designed another Christmas card because I am the kind of person who delights in designing cards that allow me to arrange pictures and change fonts. Yes, I said fonts. I liked this one too, but I couldn’t size the “foot picture” to fit the square and my OCD wouldn’t allow me to order that one.

They also have some really cute Christmas invitations if you’re in the market for those. It makes me want to have a Christmas party just so I can design some fancy invites.

I spent quite a bit of time looking at the photo gifts and then I got all stressed over which one to buy and which picture to use and then it was time to pick up the kids and I decided I’d have to come back another kind of day. You know, when I have another 214 hours to spare.

If you’re looking for a quality Christmas card with a fun design, you should pop over to Shutterfly and have a look.

After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday.

—–

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given 25 Christmas cards in exchange for an honest review about Shutterfly’s 2011 holiday collection. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.