Our Year In Review

Reflecting back on 2011, my little band of four was blessed beyond measure.

Here’s a look at our year…. in pictures!


You know who had to shovel MORE snow than she’d like to talk about, which is still NOWHERE NEAR the amount that McDaddy shoveled.

I attended Becky’s second annual soup swap.


Stevie competed in the Pinewood Derby.


Our sweet boy made the decision to be baptized.

McDaddy and Stevie placed third in the Father/Son Cub Scout Bakeoff.


Both boys played Little League Baseball for the first time ever.

A certain little boy registered for Kindergarten.


Alex graduated from Pre-School.

And of course, Mother’s Day.


Swimming lessons for both boys – BOTH are now swimming! YAY!

Stevie had a bad bike wreck while we are on a camping trip that resulted in his passing out in the middle of the road and causing his mama to spazz out a trip to the ER which resulted in our discovery that he has an extra speen.

And of course, Father’s Day.


Although I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up being a den leader at Cub Scout Day Camp. It turned out to be a wonderful week even though it was hotter than all get-out.

The boys couldn’t have cared less about the heat.


McDaddy sold his beloved Heap, ahem, I mean, JEEP Cherokee, and we bought this much cooler Jeep.

I finally got a fancy DSLR. I decided on the Canon Rebel.

We spent two weeks beach bummin‘ in Florida with McDaddy’s family.


FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. Alex starts Kindergarten and Stevie in third grade.


 Both boys played Fall Ball Baseball.

Alex got some sweet new glasses.

And we adopted Lulu!


My sweet boys enjoyed Halloween!

The blog went berzerk and I was at the mercy of my bloggy friend, Cathy to get it up and running again.


 Alex turns six and celebrates with a SONIC birthday party.

Basketball season starts for Alex. His first time playing.


December is my birth month (as if it’s not already busy enough), as well as Stevie’s birth month.

Julie turns 38! (Sorry, no pictures available) on December 11th.

Stevie turns NINE on December 12th.

Alex learns to ski!


My sweet boys all dressed up in their Sunday best for their handbell performance at church.

And, sadly, I still don’t have one of these,


Still, it was a wonderful year that I was blessed to share with my family. Believe me when I say I could have posted about 42,371 more pictures. I just figured y’all might have something else to do today besides sit and stare at pictures of my year in review.


I’m busy preparing for a house full of folks tonight, which means I’m cleaning and swarping and hiding stuff in closets.

For now though, I’d like to bid farewell to 2011 here on the blog, and say how much I appreciate you stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere each day.

See y’all next year! 


This post is linked to Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop and 12 things 2011.

Behind Bars – Like A Caged Animal

I have often talked about my time in jail here on the blog.

Recently, it dawned on me that another member of our household spends the bulk of her time behind bars. 

Like a caged animal, she gets out ONLY when one of us I let her out.

As you might imagine, she loves to be ON THE LOOSE, in that ball, rolling around the house.

[This is the point in the post where a picture of her in her pink exercise ball would have been a marvelous idea. That would require quite a bit out of me at this point, and well, I’ve been tearing down the Christmas tree all evening, and haven’t the energy or the patience required to do that.]

 As you might imagine, she LOVES to be paroled.

We assumed custody of Lulu in September.

It is safe to assume I had a moment of weakness. And a very strong feeling from the Lord that we were supposed to take her. (Because y’all know I am deathly afraid of rodents.)

As strange as it might sound, I have come to care about Lulu.

When we first picked Lulu up to bring her home, I was nervous. And hopeful. Nervous that she would get loose, and hopeful that I read enough on The Google to keep her alive. And caged.


It’s been three months, and I am happy to report that Lulu is alive and well.

Even though there was an accidental dropping of the recliner on her ball that resulted in her first escape from the exercize ball, and even though she has somehow wiggled the lid off of that stupid exercize ball, not once, but THREE times.

I am quite proud of myself.

I thought it might be fun to share some of what I’ve learned along the way about hamsters. You know, on the off chance that one or two or ten of you are considering a hamster as your next family pet.

1. Hamsters are nocturnal. [Lulu wakes up around 9 PM. She can often be heard going about 312 MPH on her wheel. At 4 AM].

2. Putting your hamster in an empty bathtub is a great way for your children to be able to watch her walk and play without the fear of her getting loose in the house.

 Because IF she gets loose in the house, she has been told, that IT. IS. ON.

3. If you place your hamster in an exercise ball while cleaning her cage, you might want to place a rubber band around the ball, OR ELSE, you might turn around to discover she is ON THE LOOSE. IN THE HOUSE.

4. A small piece of paper towel can provide lots of entertainment.

5. Hamsters love carrots and celery.

6. If you place your finger in front of the hamster’s face, she will assume your finger is food.

7. The hamster cage will need to be cleaned every other day, or at the very least every three days.

8. When your hamster fills their cheek pocket with food for the first time, you might think it is a tumor.

9. Hamster pee is nothing more than a squirt of liquid. [Gross, yes, I know.]

10. It is not necessary to bathe your hamster. [Thankfully, Lulu bathes daily.]

11. It takes very little food each day to feed your hamster.

12. It might be necessary to check the metal bars from time to time, especially if your hamster likes to gnaw on them.

[She reminds me of the guy on Shawshank Redemption. I often wonder if she is gnawing on those bars with the thought that one day when we least expect it, she might escape from her cage.]

 13. If there are steps in your house, you should always block the steps before putting your hamster into her exercise ball and onto the floor.

I never thought I would say this….

14. It is possible to care for a three pound (?) caged animal rodent with crazy eyes.

15. It is also possible that I’ve lost my ever lovin mind.

Happy Thursday, y’all!


It’s been a busy, fun few days. I didn’t really mean to take an all-out bloggy break because I had planned on giving you a play-by-play of our Christmas morning, but in all honesty, I have been busy living. Living and enjoying life with two excited little boys, and a sweet husband who will be in all-out travel mode in just a few weeks.

Instead, I thought I’d offer up some excuses as to why I haven’t checked in here at From Inmates To Playdates, Inc. over the past few days.

You know, on the off chance that any of the eight of you, actually care.

  1. I got an iPad a few weeks back and haven’t really had a chance to sit down and install APPS on the thing. Until yesterday.
  2. My little one has a constant bark that requires round-the-clock breathing treatments, Tylenol, cough medicine, and TLC.
  3. I’ve gone back and forth between putting Christmas decorations away and leaving them up another week. And putting them away. And leaving them up another week.
  4. I made the mistake of loading Angry Birds on the iPad, and of course I’ve been obsessed with trying to beat the stupid thing all over again.What is it about those birds that is so stinkin’ addicting?
  5. Soon, I hope that McDaddy will get started on my new mudroom, so of course I felt it necessary to research mudroom configurations on Pinterest.
  6. Made the mistake of making not two, but three batches of the white chocolate heavenly crunch, and eating myself into a frenzy.
  7. Trying to keep the laundry current. And failing.
  8. Of course, Words With Friends.
  9. And Facebook.
  10. Trying to keep some semblance of order in the house, which is tough when you consider the amount of Legos, Nerf Guns, and Sonic paraphernalia that’s been added to this place in the past three days.
  11. I’ve been plotting with Jo-Lynne about designing a new header for the blog.
  12. And of course, fighting the mob shopping the post-holiday sales for wrapping paper (which by the way I can’t wait to use because it is all so pretty and bright!), and cards. OH, AND, as an added bonus, I have SIGNED my cards for next year already becuase I am an over-achiever who has vowed to have every gift purchased and wrapped, and all cards mailed by the first week in December next year. Amen.

Now, how’s that for a list of excuses?

We Are Rich!

The gifts are wrapped.

We’ve visited Santa.

We’ve enjoyed Louis Hamilton.

The snowmen are on display even though it has been warm enough to wear short sleeves for the past two weeks.

 Our house is festive.

We’ve welcomed family and friends into our home for holiday get-togethers.

The nasty burnt stinch is gone from the house thanks thanks in part to Yankee’s Caramel Pecan candle.

McDaddy is off for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which means lots of family time.

I am so thankful for all of the good in my life.

My kids are well and healthy.

McDaddy is not deployed.

We have a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and warm beds.

Our wealth cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Rather, our riches are measured in the love and contentment found in our home, and in our hearts.

And for that, we are truly grateful.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Louis Hamilton

Today I’d like to introduce you to the newest “member” of our family.

Meet Louis Hamilton, our “Elf On The Shelf”.

Or in this case, our “Elf On The Bathroom Sink”.

I had never heard of the whole “Elf On The Shelf” thing until this year, but according to a lady in the ornament shop, its been around for seven years. And I had to wonder how in the heck I missed this. I run around like a crazy peson on sterroids most of the time, so for me to miss this whole elf extravaganza? Well, lets just say I am disappointed in myself.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Christmas is not just a day at our house. It is an event. And I am all about anything that involves traditional family fun with a side of crazy.

Several of my Facebook friends have an “Elf Of The Shelf” and there are fewer things that motivate me more than to think I’m missing out on some crazy. You know, because there’s not nearly enough around here already.

My first thought was, “Wow, why would ANYONE have a creepy little elf sitting around?”

And then, I began to read about the crazy antics of my friend’s elves and I was all, “Well shoot, where in the heck do I sign up?

As it turns out, you can sign up purchase the “elf on a shelf” at Books-A-Million.

The elf comes complete with a box and a story book that explains how the elf works.

Now before you go on a tirade about how creepy the elf is or that I am encouraging magic and lies and alibis, you should know that for us, this elf is nothing more than a fun holiday tradition. I mean, he’s not quite a tradition yet because he has only been around for six days, but I forsee us having fun with Louis Hamilton for many years to come.

Simply because he is cute.

And because the boys can register his name and do all kinds of fun stuff at www.elfontheshelf.com.

Not because he possesses the ability to fly to the North Pole AND BACK every single night to give the feller (yes, I really do say feller) in the red suit an update on how we are all behaving around here. I can’t imagine that either of my boys really believe that this handless, footless elf is really capable of such nonsense, but they enjoy looking for him each morning.

And, even if they do believe it?

Well, they are nine and six, and that won’t last forever, right?

For now, we are having fun with Louis and his antics. Just this morning, when Alex ran into the bathroom to find the toothpaste “L” on the sink, he immediately said, “Well, apparently Louis doesn’t know that he is supposed to respect all property.

No, I guess he doesn’t.

Because if he did, he would know that cleaning toothpaste off of our bathroom counter has become a daily job thanks to two little boys who somehow manage to string toothpaste for miles.

But they are nine and six, and that won’t last forever, right?

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Me? I’m scouting a new location for Louis to hang out tonight.


Just to be clear, this is not a sponsored post and I am not being compensated to talk about the “Elf On The Shelf”. The truth is I just like the little booger and have fun choosing a new spot for him each night.

You Capture – Festive

I love this time of year!

Festive. Fun. Family.

F is for fun wrapping paper.

E is for the extra special ornaments that mean so much to me.

S is for SNOWMEN, of course!

T is for our beautiful nine-foot rotating tree.

I is for I love spending time with my family.

V is for natiVity.


E is for Santa and his elves,

who will hopefully bring one of these to mama.

The Sky’s the limit!

For more merry festivities, visit I Should Be Folding Laundry.

Proof That I Am A Hot Mess

I attended Becky’s annual cookie exchange this evening.

You know, the cookie exchange with a CROWN at stake.

(My cookies are in the Longaberger basket in the lower left corner).

I started looking for a recipe weeks ago, and I did a trial run of my [THREE STEP] cookie this past weekend. I was sure this was going to be my year because this is ONE GOOD cookie.

I knocked the vanilla over and it ran all over the counter and into the eggs.

I strung confectioner’s sugar for miles.

And I burnt my finger.

I am a hot mess in the kitchen.

Which was evident as I cooked dinner today, and I came *this close* to burning the house down.

Oh yes I did.

In case you’re wondering, this is what happens to an individual serving of instant macaroni and cheese when you forget to add water.

And now, my house smells like a nice shade of burnt.

The only reason I even bought these stupid individual servings of mac & cheese is because the boys asked for them. You can rest assured I won’t buy them ever again.


As the smoke rolled out of the microwave, McDaddy came into the kitchen rambling on with something like, “Hey, something’s on fire over here.” I spun around to see what was going on and I was seriously afraid the microwave might be getting ready to explode or catch fire. The smoke was thick and the stinch was unbearable.

[And I seriously hope our Home Owner’s Insurance agent doesn’t stumble across my blog or else they might charge McDaddy for the major liability he has in the kitchen.]

SO. You can imagine my surprise when this cookie:

was the RUNNER UP cookie in the contest.

Which means I went home with absolutely NOTHING.

Except a stomach ache because I sampled each and every one.

And because I laughed until I cried.

Tanna took home the cookie crown.

And next year, IT. IS. ON.

Dolphin Tale

I was recently contacted by Grace Hill Media about the release of Dolphin Tale on DVD. With an all-star cast (Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr, Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson) Dolphin Tale is a wonderful heartwarming family movie appropriate for folks of all ages.

Oh, and did I mention Harry Connick, Jr. stars in the movie?

Inspired by the amazing true story of a brave dolphin, Winter (who stars as herself) struggles to survive after being caught in a crab trap that severely damages her tail. She is rescued and taken to the Clearwater Marine Hospital where Dr. Clay Haskett (Connick, Jr), his father (Kris Kristofferson) care for her. Without a tail, Winter’s prognosis is not good. The cast of characters (marine biologist, a prosthetics doctor, the Doctor’s daughter, Cozi and her new friend Sawyer) band together in hopes of saving her.

Connick, Jr’s daughter, Hazel (played by Cozi Zuehlsdorff) makes her movie debut in Dolphin Tale and I immediately liked her. She is chatty, independant, smart (did I mention chatty?) and also cute as a button. She becomes friends with a shy 11-year old boy named Sawyer Nelson (played by Nathan Gamble) who was abandoned by his father, and he begins skipping school to visit Winter. Eventually, Sawyer’s mother (Ashley Judd) joins in Sawyer’s plight and realizes the importance of his work with the Winter. The dolphin responds positively to Sawyer, and so the two become fast friends.

As a military wife, I appreciate the sub-plot: Just as Winter is being taught to swim with a prosthetic tail, Sawyer’s swimming-champ cousin (Kyle) turned Iraqi war vet must also learn to adjust to life after returning from Iraq with leg injuries. Winter, of course, is an inspiration to Kyle and it is refreshing to watch a movie with so many valuable lessons intertwined in its storyline.

Dolphin Tale is rated PG, runs almost two hours and can be purchased on DVD staring today.


In the interest of full disclosure, and because I have no desire to go to jail, I was given a free copy of the Dolphin Tale DVD to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

What I Learned This Week

Some things I learned this week.

1. Purchasing Christmas presents on-line at the K-mart is easy. Picking them up after 10 PM is not so easy.

2. Purchasing Christmas presents on-line at the Wal-Mart is easy AND means that you WILL NOT have to wait in the three-mile long check-out lane.

3. It is liberating to get rid of clutter.

4. The Baja salad (without guacamole) at Wendys is pretty good.

5. Guacamole reminds me of baby poop.

6. Almond bark is $1.00 cheaper at Wal-Mart than at our local grocery store.

7. Committing to an “Elf on the Shelf” takes some work, but the kids will love it.

8. Eating Funyuns at 11 PM is never a good idea, but especially not for someone with heartburn.

9. I always get aggravated when I let the laundry pile up for days, yet I do it week after week.

Not really sure what I learned there in that last one, I think I just needed to vent.

What did YOU learn this week?


Did I Really Say That?

Welcome to another version of Not Me! Monday, where I share several things I most certainly did NOT do.

For starters, I did NOT take 117 pictures on Sunday between basketball and two holiday performances at church.

I also did not cringe when I saw this picture and was faced with the reality that my boys are growing up right before my very eyes. WITHOUT my permission.

I did NOT yell like a crazy person at the basketball court this weekend either.

Because I try to keep to myself.

I also did not readily admit to a room full of people that “If i’ve been to your house, I’ve probably looked in your medicine cabinet” during a holiday party game where I was asked to share a weird fact about myself.

Nope! Not me!

For more Not Me! Monday posts, visit McMama’s place.