2013 Year In Review

When I saw on Facebook today that Jo-Lynne was hosting her annual Blog Review, I knew I wanted to participate again. I love to look back on our year, and remember the fun times we’ve shared as a family. (For that reason, I won’t be posting What I Learned This Week, but, I am adding a linky, so that you can link up your end-of-year posts, too.)

For years, I scrapbooked 73% of our lives. Sadly though, life happened and it became more important to live it, than it did to scrapbook it, so I haven’t done that since 2008. I recently decided to start making photo books on Shutterfly, so hopefully I’ll get caught up that way.

Until then, I’ll have to rely on my Year In Reviews here on the blog.


Our year started off with a bang, when my sweet little family had the privilege of meeting TobyMac and Matthew West.

Also in January, I signed up to compete in a Biggest Loser Challenge.


With the exception of exercising daily for the Biggest Loser challenge, the month of February was pretty calm… Until the 26th of that month, when my mom left work because she was dizzy. That was the last day that she walked unassisted, and the start of life-changing events for my family (which is also the reason my daily blogging became more like weekly blogging).


With only ten blog posts during the month of March, there’s not much to write about, except that McDaddy passed a very important test required for military promotion

and that I spent A LOT of time trying to trust and clinging to God’s promises. OH, and how could I forget that March was the start of a whole string of kidney-stone related problems that would take me FOUR FRIGGIN’ MONTHS to get over.

April and May

I ended up losing 8.2 pounds in the biggest loser contest, but lost 20 more pounds after that thanks to the flu, the kidney stones, and worrying about my sweet momma.

AND! I could barely kuWait to share the news that came this month, after finding out that one of McDaddy’s co-workers was selflessly taking the six-month deployment to Kuwait originally assigned to McDaddy. Folks, it felt like we hit the lottery, because that meant that this guy

would be with us for all of our birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve and Valentine’s Day.  So yes, you could say EXCITEMENT!


My sweet ten-year old baby boy graduated from Elementary School because our stupid school board thought it was a grand idea to send our fifth graders to our Middle School four years ago.

But I’m not bitter.

Our other sweet boy, Alex decided to be baptized.

And how could I not mention the one year anniversary of bringing my dream car (THE SATURN SKY) home from Kentucky.



July, was a doozie.

I had a whole slew of medical problems that I turned into a medical miniseries and I briefly contemplated turning this family fun blog into a medical blog because OH MY WORD, THE MEDICAL PROBLEMS!

Plus, there was the whole “Alex made ALL-STARS” thing” that was so friggin’ exciting, you would’ve thought my kid was playing for the Yankees.


My heart ached as I watched my sweet boy walk into Middle School for the first time.

I found a post from 2010 noting 40 things I’d like to do before I turn 40. It was fun to revisit that post and provide an update.


Oh look, it’s another medical issue.

McDaddy celebrated 22 years as a member of the West Virginia Air National Guard.


October was a crazy, busy month.

I met my long-time bloggy friend, Heather at an Extraordinary Women conference.

In true dramatic Julie fashion, I came *thisclose* to losing my life when the drive-shaft fell off of the Jeep while driving down the interstate.

By October, my mudroom was slowly coming together.


And it just dawned on me that I haven’t posted a picture since we got the new flooring down.


It became evident in October that I was having trouble sleeping (which also translates to McDaddy said I was keeping him awake snoring.) My family Doctor prescribed a sleep study and it was off the hook.

A few days later, McDaddy and I enjoyed a Jeep Jamboree weekend in Williamsburg, Kentucky with friends.



The craziness continued in November.

First, (and on the first) our sweet Alex turned eight.

For my 40th birthday, McDaddy took me on a surprise trip to New York City.

But McDaddy turned 40 before I did. We celebrated by giving him FORTY gifts.



After months of dreading it, I finally come to terms with and embrace TURNING FORTY. And my sweet boys hosted a 40th birthday party for me.


And the next day, Stevie turned 11.

Christmas is always a fun time around here.

We are so very blessed.

Tonight we look forward to ringing in the New Year with our family (lots of them!) here at the McResidence.

While I have no idea what is in store for my family in 2014, I am sure of God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

Happy New Year!!!


Wanna link up?

It’s simple.

2013 Blog Recap Carnival

1. Publish your 2013 recap post on your blog.

2. Link to your actual 2013 recap blog post, not your blog’s main page.

3. Somewhere within your post, please link back here at From Inmates To Playdates so everyone can join in on the fun.

A Little Christmas Tour

Even though Christmas is over, I have decided to leave my Christmas décor up another week. I have heard that taking your tree down before New Year’s is bad luck, but I don’t believe for one second that my luck for the upcoming year has anything to do with when I take our beautiful, rotating, nine-foot pine down and cram it into a box. It makes me smile even though 1/5 of the lights decided they were on strike this year. (A big thanks to McDaddy for pulling several strands out of the loft because you know, I HATE TO WAIT on anything!)

My favorite thing is that when it’s dark, the tree shines in three windows all at once, our bay window, the huge window behind the tree and our sliding glass door behind our dining room table. I love it!

Here is the bay window – full of snowman – with the tree reflecting so that you can get the full effect.

And since we’re talking about my tree, have I mentioned that after years or research, shopping and searching I found a snowman tree-topper at Cracker Barrel?

I just can’t explain how cute it is.

As you can tell by my bay-window, my tree, and 80% of the Christmas décor in the McResidence, I love snowmen.

And I might have already mentioned this (and shown you, too!) but every year McDaddy’s parents buy us (and lots of others) a white-house ornament. The ornaments are beautiful and delicate and I just love them.

After seeing McDaddy’s great aunt’s white-house ornament tree in Florida last year, I started on the hunt for one. She bought hers at Pier One and probably paid an arm and a leg for it. I’m actually quite fond of my limbs, so I was delighted to find one in a magazine for the low-low price of $14.99.

It’s not as tall as I would like, but like I said, I enjoy all four limbs, so….

Instead of piling pictures of my boys with Santa over the past ten years on this sofa table, I decided to do this instead:

I just love the way it turned out. (Obviously I’m talking about the table and not the horrible photographic evidence.)

I had no idea this post would turn out to be a tour of my Christmas décor, but while we’re at it, I want to show you the lighted garland I bought for my loft this year. It is so fancy and beautiful that sometimes I just turn the lights out and stare up at it.

I will be so sad when it all comes down next week. I’ll be even sadder to have to do the work it takes to get all this stuff put away. But I’ll worry about that next week.

Just a few more days in 2013. Make ’em count y’all.

Christmas At Our Place

We had a wonderful Christmas here at the McResidence. Here’s what Christmas was like at the McResidence….

We ate too many of these,

We said good-bye for another year to our elf, Louis Hamilton,

We watched this (and Home Alone) approximately, 419 times.

I watched this beautiful tree spin around and around night-after-night in amazement, because I am a like a little kid when it comes to all manner of Christmas.

These two were wishing and hoping for an Xbox 360.

Santa came and brought this stuff,

Which means that these two got what they were hoping for,

And I spent about five hours last night signing [next year’s] Christmas cards with this beautiful array of awesomeness which McDaddy had packed carefully in my stocking.

And once I again, I was privileged to spend Christmas with these three beautiful people. I love them to the moon and back.

And that, as they say, is that.

What I Learned This Week

I am so sad that it is Christmas Eve.

I am not ready to say goodbye to our elf, Louis Hamilton and I am nowhere near ready to put our Christmas decorations away for another year. Because Thanksgiving was a week later than usual this year, we lost an entire week of enjoying the Christmas season.

And that makes me so very sad.

In other news, my address book is a hot mess now that the emergency service department in our city and several surrounding cities have assigned new addresses to approximately 80% of the people we know.

Additionally, when 80% of the addresses in your address book are wrong, you should count on several of your Christmas cards being returned.

That’s what I learned this week.

Now, what did YOU learn?

To join in on the What I Learned This Week carnival, simply follow these steps.

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

2. Link up with the Mr. Linky form down below. Please put the link to your POST, not the front page of your blog.

3. Then visit the other participants and see what they learned this week.

Alrightythen. Ready, Set, GO!

50 Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Last year, I finished up my Christmas shopping in early December.

Then, on Christmas Eve, I discovered that I hadn’t bought nearly enough stuff to fill the stockings. I decided that wouldn’t happen this year.

Oh, no ma’am.

I started picking up stocking items way back in November, and this year, I will be a stocking-stuffing fool come Christmas Eve.

Remember, I have two boys, so, you know, BOY STUFF.

  1. Fun Gum (Big League Chew)
  2. Batteries (for electronic games)
  3. Reading light
  4. Pringles
  5. Tree ornament
  6. Chap stick
  7. Toboggan
  8. Whoopee cushion
  9. Phone charger (can you ever have too many?)
  10. Shoe strings (What exactly do they do with them, anyway?)
  11. Hershey kisses
  12. Sticky hands, feet, or bugs.
  13. Silly Putty
  14. Slim Jims
  15. Slinky
  16. Gloves
  17. Twizzlers
  18. iTunes Giftcard
  19. YoYo
  20. Toothbrush (I know, I know!)
  21. Snow Ball maker
  22. Glowsticks
  23. Rolos
  24. Magazine (My oldest loves Car & Driver)
  25. Beef Jerky
  26. Rubik’s Cube
  27. Harmonica
  28. Bookmark
  29. Hot Wheels
  30. Gift card to Pottery Place
  31. Skylanders
  32. Earbuds
  33. SkipBo or Uno cards
  34. Mini Etch-A-Sketch or Mini Magnadoodle
  35. Small foam football or basketball
  36. Origami Paper (Stevie’s newest hobby)
  37. Jacks
  38. Mini Mag-Lite
  39. Pop Rocks
  40. $5.00 DVD from the movie bin at Wal-Mart
  41. Arcade (or Chuck E. Cheese) tokens
  42. Bubblebath
  43. Silly String
  44. Madlibs
  45. Laser Pointer
  46. Lego Minifigures
  47. Any Legos for that matter
  48. Those crazy, expensive tall athletic socks
  49. Mega Reese Cup
  50. And finally, MORE LEGOS.

Christmas Cookie Exchange

I had every intention of coming back here to report on my friend Becky’s annual cookie extravaganza.

Because of our ski trip, I had to choose a cookie that I could bake within the time constraint I was under. In other words, after our three-hour drive home, I would have no more than three hours to bake seven dozen cookies.

After scouring the internet and Pinterest for a cookie that fit my criteria (quick, easy, fail proof) I settled on the Andes Mint Cookie Recipe. I did a test run while we were on our Ski trip.


  • 1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package of Andes  Mints

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together.

Drop small balls of dough onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes.

Do not over-cook. Take cookie sheet out of oven and place 1/2 an Andes Mint on top of each cookie. Within minutes, the mint will melt. Use a sharp knife to swirl the mint around on the cookie like icing.

Be prepared to make friends and influence people.

And I’ll just tell you now, they are best served hot and gooey.

And it helps if you like mint.

Within an hour, my cookies were done and my kitchen looked like a cyclone had gone through it.

For as many years as I have attended Becky’s annual cookie extravaganza (which at this point I think is eight or nine) I have taken my cookies in a beautiful Christmas Longaberger basket. I decided that my beloved Longaberger baskets have not brought me any luck in winning the crown in the past, so this year, I decided to take my cookies in a Dollar General cardboard Christmas container.

I used red sprinkles on this batch to make them more festive.

Remember, presentation is everything.

Or something like that.

This was the official 2013 cookie exchange extravaganza spread.

It always looks so fancy.

(My cookies are just above the white platter in front.)

After catching up talking smack and filling up on this mess,

we all gather round the cookie table to eat A BITE OF EACH COOKIE. (This is the point where I start praying that MY COOKIE WILL WIN!) It may sound crazy, but, THERE IS A CROWN AT STAKE, and y’all know how I feel about a crown. Not to mention bragging rights for the entire year.

So, imagine, if you will, thirteen women gathered around a table getting pieces of each cookie.

And then getting a sugar high.

Once we have a sample of each cookie on our plate, we gather in Becky’s living room for the official vote.

We close our eyes (at least I guess everybody else does!) and Becky calls out each cookie. We vote by raising our hand and we get to vote for two.

When the voting was completed, Becky announces there is a three-way tie.


Sweet hallelujah. I can’t believe it.

Because Becky only has one CROWN, we had to vote again.

This time there was a two-way tie.



This was it. The final vote.

After counting the votes for a final time, Becky announced the winner.

It was not mine.

As it turns out, I lost by ONE vote.

Which means I was the runner up first loser for the second time in three years.

Meet this year’s winner…. Lee.

She made some nutty Mounds bar, which for the record wasn’t really a cookie.

The only thing I went home with this year was a prize for the cookie with the least amount of ingredients.

So at least there’s that, right?

Next year, though? IT. IS. ON.

Be warned, girls.

What I Learned This Week

I am currently enjoying a short vacation at a ski resort.

Only, I’m not skiing.

My fellas are skiing, and so are several of my in-laws. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I have been busy doing other things. Things that do not include spending the better part of thirty minutes putting on 19 layers of clothing, gloves, scarves, toboggans, face masks and socks. Oh, and did I forget to mention ski boots and SKIS? Because the last thing this ol’ girl wants to do is put “all of this” on two skinny skis and go flying down a hill.


Instead, I’ve spent my days attempting to complete a digital scrapbook for the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am an over-achiever.

And also W-A-Y behind on my Scrapbooking endeavor.

Sadly, I haven’t had much luck with the digital scrapbooking process. Nor did I realize that it would take EIGHT FRIGGIN HOURS to upload 180 pictures to a digital scrapbooking website. Instead, I am 32 pages into 2008 on Shutterfly and I wish I could say that process is going well.

Because clearly, it is a complicated process.

That’s the first thing I learned this week.

And now, may I present, all the other stuff I learned this week:

1. It is dangerous to go to Lowes by yourself without a list. I should know. I went in after a vent cover for a bathroom vent that was cracked. Came out with two vent covers, new bathroom vanity knobs, seven pieces of adhesive tile, some cook-top cleaner, and a bottle of water.

2. After spending the day there, Shutterfly makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. With a fork.

3. The fingerprint feature does not work on an iPhone 5S while crocheting. According to my sister-in-law, Michelle, crocheting for any amount of time makes an indention in your thumb which apparently makes it difficult for the iPhone 5 to recognize your print.

I say it all the time, people, this blog is about so much more than just cheap entertainment.

4. I think it might be quicker to complete a 2008 scrapbook the old-fashioned way than it is to do it online. In fact, I think it might be quicker to do almost anything than it would be to do any type of digital scrapbooking online.

5. It will take more than eight-hours to upload 200 pics to a digital scrapbook site.

6. By the time you spend all day arranging and captioning your year (2008) in pictures, your eyes will be too tired to share more than six things you learned this week.

That’s what I learned this week.

Now, what did YOU learn?

To join in on the What I Learned This Week carnival, simply follow these steps.

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

2. Link up with the Mr. Linky form down below. Please put the link to your POST, not the front page of your blog.

3. Then visit the other participants and see what they learned this week.

Alrightythen. Ready, Set, GO!

Forty and Fabulous

I had a fabulous weekend.

On Friday, McDaddy hosted an open house birthday party to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was an enjoyable evening full of laughs and thankfulness.

I have the best friends and family.

My friend, Linda brought me this lovely bag full of awesomeness.

I absolutely love it.

    • Some people say that turning 40….
    • is a sticky situation – post-it note
    • is rough – nail file
    • is sweet – Lindor truffles
    • stinks – a candle
    • blows – bubble gum
    • sucks – candy canes
    • is golden – goldfish
    • drives you to drink – bottle of Coca-Cola classic (Because that’s what I drink)

My sweet friends, Gannett and Katheryn gave me a yummy candy bouquet, a Yankee red-velvet candle and this hilarious card.


Oh my sweet mercy, I crack up every single time I see this card.

Y’all know I love bling, right?

And I also love baseball.

My sweet friend, Jessica, brought this perfect gift.

That, my friends, is a rhinestone MOM baseball bracelet and a rhinestone baseball ring.

It is fabulous.

My friend, Becky, brought another snowman to add to my collection.

And, as an added bonus, she filled it full of chocolate.

And speaking of chocolate, I found these on Pinterest and thought the kids might enjoy them.

They were a huge hit.

In addition to a wonderful evening of laughing and visiting,


and sharing memories, my wonderful friends brought a variety of gifts that I absolutely loved.

I have a whole new outlook on turning forty.

I am thankful.

I am blessed.

And I had a happy birthday.

And from the looks of my kitchen, I think our guests did, too.

I say it all the time…. I call myself a Princess, because I am married to a Prince.

Of course at forty… I suppose it may be time to upgrade my Princess status to Queen.

 Oh, and I almost forgot that McDaddy surprised me with these beauties,

Thank you, McDaddy! For the party, the trip to New York, for the sandals, and for loving me.

I am truly a blessed FORTY YEAR OLD.

My First Born

Dear Stevie,

This time 11 years ago I was hopped up on adrenaline and magnesium. (ELEVEN years? How is that even possible?) I had just been presented with the most beautiful being I had ever laid eyes on. Within minutes, they whisked you away because you were born pre-maturely at 36 weeks.

We had your name picked out before we even found out we were having a boy, knowing that we would name you after daddy. The third. Your name is so fitting because, you, my sweet child are exactly like your dad.

At 11 years old your baby face is gone. Your little-round glasses are gone, and as of two weeks ago, your braces are gone. You have a beautiful smile that makes me happy on my worst day. You still play with that little tuft of hair and it rarely ever lays down on your four head as it should because you have twisted the life out of it.  That fact doesn’t seem to bother you one bit. Your face is shaped just like daddy’s and sometimes when you smile I catch a glimpse of that little piece of bone that sticks out ever since when you fell on the concrete stairs in Florida.

You talk loud and you talk a lot. It is one of the few traits that you took from me. You are methodical and analytical, and your mind amazes me. At two years old, you could name every make of vehicle on the road. At three years old, you could recite the entire Liberty Mutual diabetes commercial, word-for-word. You still have a wonderful memory, and I am thankful for that. I suspect you will never pass up an opportunity to ask a question, and I love that about you.

I am thankful that you are a great student. I am proud that your teachers brag about how respectful you are. And I feel blessed that you enjoy school so much, you never complain about getting up in the morning or doing homework. I love it when you reach up to push my hair behind my ear, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when you jump up upon my lap to cuddle. I realize probably won’t happen much longer so I am trying to appreciate every single moment of it. And I won’t even get started on the MSAT (which is how I refer to your Middle School Attitude) because I’m trying to keep this light.  Stevie, you are such a delight to parent. You are growing into a thoughtful, respectful boy and I couldn’t be more proud of you.

Happy 11th birthday, my sweet boy. I love you more than you will ever know.