Happy Birthday McDaddy!

One of the things that I’ve always loved about McDaddy is that he looks for every opportunity to help others. Honestly, (and I’m not just saying this because he is my husband) if more people were more like McDaddy, America would be a totally different place. I have said many times here on the blog that he is the type of person who does the right thing, even when no one is watching.

In other words, he is a very special person.

And by some strange twist of fate, this special, wonderfully considerate person chose me to be his. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world being married to him. For that reason, I wanted his 40th birthday to be really special.

McDaddy is not big on birthdays. He probably wouldn’t even celebrate if he had his way.

Me, though?

I’d celebrate my birthday for the entire week month of December if I could talk someone into it.

Especially, since this one coming up is a BIG ONE.

Two days before his birthday, I got the bright idea to give him 40 gifts, which at the time sounded like a great idea. It wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be to find forty gifts that he would actually use that wouldn’t cost a small fortune.

But, when I get something in this crazy head of mine, well, you know what happens.

I went to Target, Wal-Mart, Gander Mountain, Family Dollar, Dollar General, and The Dollar Tree.

Plus, I picked up a double-decker chocolate chip cookie cake from SAM’s (because he loves chocolate chip cookies) and then purchased a tube of red icing to jazz it up a bit.

After picking Alex up from school, we stopped to buy some balloons for the occasion. I had intended to tie the balloons to our mailbox, but the wind was blowing like crazy, so they ended up tied to the front door.

Now, just to be clear, McDaddy doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that he is forty. (Unlike *cough* others *cough* who will *cough* be forty *cough* very *cough* soon.)

It was fun watching him open 40 gifts.

It took quite awhile.

 I really hope he enjoyed it. The boys and I had a great time celebrating him and his forty years of life. If I could have, I would have wrapped up a Chevy Corvette and a six-car garage.

But alas, that was not possible.

We got him a really nice everyday watch (which he wanted!), car cleaning stuff, his favorite snacks, muscle rub and fiber bars (for his aging body and system!) things for the garage, a movie, a Matchbox Corvette, socks (which he needed!), and several other things.

Happy Birthday, McDaddy! We are so thankful that you were home to celebrate with us and not in Kuwait!

We love you so much!

What I Learned This Week – New York City Edition

If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I had a wonderful time in New York City with McDaddy for our 40th Birthday celebration weekend. My favorite thing (besides the Broadway shows) was the tour that we booked for Saturday where we learned LOTS OF STUFF about New York.

Here’s what I learned this week in New York.

1. On a chilly, windy day in New York, a $10 scarf from a NYC street “merchant” will be well worth the money.

2. According to one New Yorker, a kettle corn business costing $40,000. is a great investment because you will make your money back within the first year.

3. When crossing a NYC Street, you should never be the first one to cross or the last one to cross because the first one to cross and the last one to cross are the most likely to be hit by impatient NYC drivers.

4. The fine folks at US Air waived the bag fee on flights to and from New York City when McDaddy presented his military ID. Thanks US AIRWAYS!

5. If you are looking for discounted Broadway tickets, the TKTS booth in Times Square is the way to go.

6. If you are looking for discounted Broadway tickets, the scalpers around the TKTS booth in Times Square is probably not the way to go.

7. The Premium See It All Tour with OnBoard Tours is awesome. It is a great way to see and learn a lot about New York. (And in the interest of Full Disclosure, I am not being paid or compensated to say that.)

8. It takes a very long time to get from one end of Manhattan to the other by subway.

9. Yellow signs on a street pole or street sign means that a production company will be filming on that block in the next week and if you don’t move your vehicle by the date on the sign, your car or it will be towed.

10. Wall Street in NYC is actually an entire street. (Might sound crazy, but I never knew that.)

11. The smells from the street food vendors is straight-up nasty.

12. Central Park covers more than 800 acres and is the most visited city park in the United States. (More than 24 million visitors each year).

13. Although we spent most of our time in Manhattan, John F. Kennedy International Airport is in Queens, New York. I had no idea I was in Queens over the weekend.

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!



The Big Apple

This fella,

 

turned 40 on Thursday.

This gal,

will turn four *cough* zero next month.

That fella, decided to surprise this gal with a special 40th birthday surprise trip. He planned a whirlwind weekend trip to see a Broadway Show because I’ve always wanted to see one.

Then, he couldn’t decide which show we should see because he doesn’t know a great deal about Broadway shows, and he was afraid he’d pick a bad one.

We flew out of Charleston at 5:30 IN THE AM on Friday. Which, in case you were wondering goes against EVERYTHING I believe, because I am not wired to function that early in the morning.

Y’all.

We had such a wonderful time.

We hade the opportunity to see two [very different] Broadway shows.

 

My eyes were big as stars when we walked past this,

(even though he wasn’t filming while we were there)

and this,

 I’ve seen both of these on television my whole life an it was such a treat to see them in person.

McDaddy navigated New York City like he had been there hundreds of times. Which is wonderful because I lack a sense of direction AND the patience to figure out which direction I’m needing to go when there are 3,246,721 people going in four different directions – all of them – IN A BIG HURRY.

We nosed around in here and hoped to see The Donald.

We strolled through Central Park on a beautiful fall day.

We stood in awe of the 9-11 Memorial

And we felt patriotic when the water taxi that we were riding on approached this fine lady in the New York Harbor.

Isn’t she lovely?

Such a beautiful site.

This younger woman loves this older fella with everything in her.

Thank you for an incredible weekend, McDaddy! I will never forget it.

Well, at least I hope I never forget it. Who knows what might happen when old age sets in?

Eight Is Awesome

Dear Alex,

We just celebrated your eighth birthday.

EIGHT.

How did that happen?

Just last week, I was holding you in the labor/delivery unit wondering what in the heck I was gonna do with TWO stinky, smelly, peeing all over the bathroom BOYS.

Here it is, eight years later, and I am so stinkin’ sad that you are growing up so quickly because soon you won’t want to cuddle on the couch, and you won’t call me mommy, and you won’t tell me “I love you more, and that’s final” ever again.

And just like I tell you every single day, IT IS NOT final because I’m the boss of you.

But the truth is, I love it when you say that to me. I love it because it brings a smile to your face when you say it, and there are fewer things cuter than your sweet, toothless grin. That grin melts my heart every. single. time. and I think you know that.

You can match clothes and accessories better than most adults, and if you had your way, you’d have a pair of tennis shoes in every single color because, YOU ARE SHOE CRAZY.

You enjoy life.

And you are a crazy, fast, daredevil.

Tricks like this one?

Have made me gray before my years.

But I love that you are fearless and independent and loving and A MOMMY’S BOY. Can we just make a pact that you will be a MB forever? Pretty please? After all, you are sweet and impatient, with a side of stubborn, and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, YOU GOT THAT FROM ME, PAL. (And I turned out okay!)

I enjoy seeing the world through your eyes.

And I totally enjoy your random questions throughout the day, even though I rarely have the answers.

I am so proud of you for wanting an iPod, saving for it, and then buying it. Trust me when I say that you will appreciate things so much more when you buy them yourself.

Oh, and just for the record, I think you’re awesome, too!

Happy 8th birthday, sweet boy.

I love you more, and THAT’S FINAL.

Love, Mama

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History

I first started blogging to document all the crazy that happens in my life. I also hoped that I might get to eventually host reviews and giveaways of really cool products. What I didn’t count on was the friends I would make along the way. When I first made the decision to author From Inmates To Playdates back in 2008, I contacted two bloggers about blog design and hosting. Since that time, I have become FB friends with Heather and Jo Lynne and quite honestly, I consider them friends even though I have never met either of them.

Earlier this year, I received an email from a friend asking if I’d be interested in attending an Extraordinary Women conference in Roanoke, Virginia. When I found out that Third Day would be performing and Missy Robertson would be speaking, I said, “Oh yes, Sister, sign me up!”

A few days before the conference I was talking to McDaddy and mentioned something about returning on Sunday. He was confused (it doesn’t take much when you’re dealing with me) and told me he thought that we’d be back on Saturday. When I looked up the conference online I wondered what the heck was happening to my mind. Not only was McDaddy correct about me returning on Saturday, BUT ALSO that the conference was in Roanoke AND HOLY CRAP THAT’S WHERE HEATHER LIVES!

I contacted Heather on Facebook and said:

So…. I will be in Roanoke for Extraordinary Women on October 4-5. Any chance you’ll be there, too?

She replied minutes later with

I’m working it – the Spirit FM booth – Need a place to crash? I have plenty of room! But yes! We MUST get together!

So.

In a matter of minutes, a perfect stranger who I had only talked to online had invited me and three of my girlfriends to spend the night in her home. She messaged me her phone number and asked if we’d want to meet her and some friends for coffee and doughnuts after the conference and/or dinner after the conference on Saturday night.

I was going to Roanoke with three girlfriends. I texted them to ask if they’d like to go for doughnuts after the conference on Friday or dinner on Saturday with a friend of mine. I might have neglected to mention that I had never met my “friend.” While we were at the hotel getting ready, I mentioned in casual conversation that although I had been “friends” with Heather since 2008, I had never actually met her.

There was some silence.

Some bugged out eyes.

A look of ARE YOU CRAZY?

And a look of WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING?”

And it dawned on me that this whole thing probably sounded crazy.

Still, I was excited to meet her!

Once we arrived at the arena (and waited in a ridiculously LONG line to get into the conference), I texted Heather to let her know I was there. She texted back to say she’d be there to meet me as soon as she could get away. As I waited for Heather on the concourse, I felt like I was on a blind date. The crowd in the arena was crazy and it was hotter than you-know-what in there. Within minutes, I was face to face with my friend and we hugged like sisters separated at birth. After five years, I was face to face with my blog designer, Heather.

I could tell immediately that we would be fast IN REAL LIFE friends.

Because she was actually volunteering at the conference, we weren’t able to talk long. We talked long enough for me to find out that her friend Cheryl – who was also at the conference – was a fan of my blog. It took me a second to process that. After writing this blog for five years, it is easy to forget that actual living, breathing people who I DO NOT KNOW stop in here day after day to read this mess, especially given my excessive comma usage and my flair for the dramatic. Only thing I can figure out is that my crazy makes your crazy seem less crazy. I told Heather that we’d love to meet her and her friend for doughnuts and coffee after the conference and we parted ways.

And then I giggled out loud thinking about the fact that I had a fan.

The conference was jam-packed. Unfortunately, so was the friggin’ parking lot. There were cars everywhere and not a one of them was moving. After the conference we sat on that stupid parking lot for 35 minutes, which might have been enough to put me over the edge because I hate to wait – especially at a stand still – but thankfully, when four women get together almost anything can make them laugh. Especially something like this:

It still cracks me the heck up thinking about the license plate and the whole “well-behaved women” thing. In fact, it was an on-going joke the entire weekend with my girlfriends.

And just for the record, there’s a pretty good chance I might make history someday.

Because it was midnight before we moved off of the arena parking lot, we decided that it was too late to go out for coffee and doughnuts, but agreed to go to dinner after the conference on Saturday.

Y’all.

Dinner was, um, an experience.

Heather told us about a nearby Mexican joint called El Rodeo. I was a little leery because let’s face it, Mexican restaurants can be a crap shoot, and when I order my “Chicken Fajita Chimichanga without guacamole anywhere on the plate” I have high expectations. Heather and my fan her friend Cheryl were already at the table chowing on the chips and salsa when we arrived at the restaurant. The waiter showed up at the table almost instantly, and before I knew what had hit me I was blushing and speechless because our waiter was off the hook. If you know me IRL you know that it is difficult to embarrass me and that I am rarely ever speechless.

In his defense, the six of us were more than any one man should have to handle by himself. He rose to the challenge. When my friend Jessica – while looking at the menu, mind you – asked “So, what’s good?” ol boy didn’t miss a beat when he responded with, “Me!”

Y’all.

I about fell out of my seat.

I was just like, “Well, alright! This cat is crazy as we are!” and I kinda figured the El Rodeo hadn’t seen this much excitement in a very long time. Our waiter, who I learned, was named Dennis (which cracks me up, because how many Mexicans do you know named Dennis?) was great. The chips and salsa were some of the best I have ever had  and my chicken fajita chimichanga (which I have never seen on a menu) was yummy. I would suggest you skip the “cheese sauce” though, unless you like more mayonnaise than you do cheese or sauce.

As we were diggin’ through our purses for money to pay the bill, I remembered that I had a pile of pennies in my wallet. I couldn’t resist leaving our new Mexican friend, Dennis a message (and no this was not his only tip) on the table.

Don’t ask me why I left the word H-O-T. It could be because I only had 33 pennies and couldn’t think of anything better. Or it could be because Dennis kept using the word “caliente” and it only seemed appropriate. Whatever the reason, he seemed embarrassed when he went to our table to retrieve his tip.

That’s Dennis there on the right.

He probably thinks we are a bunch of crazy lunatics.

And he is half-right.

I had so much fun this past weekend. I REALLY enjoyed Third Day, Tim Hawkins and Missy Robertson. But more than that, I LOVED meeting my friend, Heather.

And my new Mexican friend, Dennis.

Summer Fun

We have three iPods, one iPad, one iPhone AND an alarm clock in this hotel room, yet still somehow managed to oversleep and miss the FREE breakfast at the hotel?

Irresponsible much?

Dang. Embarrassing.

Luckily, the gas station beside of the hotel sells Krispy Kreme donuts, and of course, the boys felt like they had hit the breakfast jackpot. As much as I love a good donut, I don’t like eating them for breakfast. It seems irresponsible to start your day and your metabolism with a big bunch of sugar.

But enough about my irresponsible self.

I took some time yesterday to upload all of the pictures from my SD card to my laptop, and also charged my camera battery. As I watched the pictures upload, I was reminded of the fun we have had this summer.

S is for sweet smiles from the back seat en route to our next destination.

 

U is for unruly children at the hotel pool

 

M is for magnificent views in the Amish Country

 

M is also for memorable summer nights with friends.

 

E is for excitement about new bedding

 

R is for relaxing on the beach

 

T is for tax-free shopping in New Hampshire

 

I is for ideas on Pinterest (for after season baseball parties)

 

M is for messed up hair while riding in the SKY

 

E is for exciting weekends with scout friends.

 I am so sad for summer 2013 to come to an end. It has flown by.

Twelve more days until me and my alarm clock go round and round.

Well, provided I remember to set it.

The One Where I Meet Toby Mac

Y’all know I love a good story.

THIS will be a great story.

A year or so ago, I ran into a childhood friend at the Wal-Mart. I hadn’t seen Scott since our 10 year reunion in 2002, and it was great to see him and meet his wife. While we chatted, I mentioned seeing pictures on him on his Facebook posing with Christian music artists. He went on to tell me that he is the tour manager for Skillet, and that he is friends with all of the artists in the pictures.

Well, sweet holy Moses.

I probably went on and on about loving Toby Mac and listening to his music all the time and blasting “Made To Love” and “Lose My Soul” in the car every chance I get.

After I got this mouth to slow down, Scott said, “The next time Toby’s in town, I’ll try to arrange for you to meet him.”

And to that I said, “Holy crap, that would be awesome!”

Or something to that effect, because who can really remember what they said over a year ago?

I didn’t think much more about it after leaving Wal-Mart.

Fast forward to November 24, 2012 when I received a Facebook message from Scott saying he remembered how much I liked Toby Mac and asking if my fellas and I would be attending Winter Jam 2013. After I confirmed that we were planning to attend, he told me that he might be able to arrange for us to meet him.

Y’all.

Do you know how many kinds of crazy that is?

ME?

Meet Toby Mac.

Where do I sign up?

Winter Jam 2013 kicked off in Charleston on Friday evening. Hours before the show, Scott called me with the details.

First, he got us early admission. The concert started at 6:00 PM. We were permitted to enter at 4:30 with the couple hundred people who purchased the early admission tickets. I spazzed out when I saw how many people were in the line, because we hadn’t purchased tickets, and I wasn’t sure if we needed them before getting in the line, or if we’d be able to buy them at the front of the line. I sent a frantic text to Scott.

In the meantime, a guy who called himself “Mr. Talkbox” was mingling in the crowd posing for pictures. I heard him tell the gal in front of me he was Toby Mac’s back-up singer. Seizing the opportunity, I hurriedly explained that I had a friend named Scott who was Skillet’s tour manager, blah, blah, blah.

Y’all.

Mr. Talkbox whisked us to the front of that line and stopped at the table where we found out that we were on Toby Mac’s V.I.P. list. They gave me an envelope with my name on it and said everything we needed was in the envelope.

There were four Toby Mac wristbands.

And this message:

I stood there all dumbstruck.

The boys and I hurried into the arena and snagged four seats in row six.

ROW SIX.

We had almost two hours until the start of the show, so Alex and I went off to look for a bathroom. And I wasn’t sure if Toby would sign autographs for us, but on the off-chance that he did, we picked these up at his table.

And yes, I am totally throwing around the name Toby as if we are BFFs. But dang, we were on Toby Mac’s  V.I.P. list and had six row seats FOR FREE, and were waiting to meet him at Winter Jam 2013. Surely that gives me a right to call him Toby, right?

And did I mention that we were sitting on the sixth row?

This was the view from ROW SIX.

And yes, that fire was just as hot as it looked.

Sidewalk Prophets

Matthew West

And sweet, delightful Jamie Grace

At 7:10 PM, we made our way to the right side of the front of the stage. The security guard who was standing at the back-stage entrance looked at that little slip of paper and almost laughed in our face. She said she nothing about that slip of paper or meeting Toby Mac and couldn’t allow us to come through. Shortly after, another family showed up with the same slip of paper.

Because I am nosey, I asked how the other family got their little slip of paper.

Apparently, the lady was the high bidder on two front row seats and backstage passes to meet Toby Mac.

It was us against the crazy security lady.

Within a minute or so, a gentleman came to the gate and asked to see our arm bands. He quickly whisked us backstage and led us down a corridor and asked us to wait against a wall. Just seconds later, we saw Matthew West walking toward us.

He was so kind. He shook our hands and posed for pictures with the boys.

Would you just look at that.

I handed my camera off to “Led us backstage guy” and explained how to use my camera. He playfully snapped pictures of me looking ever so stupid.

Oh dear lord.

And wouldn’t you know as I was busy looking like a crazy person, Toby walked out of the same room that Matthew West came out of and saw this. (See that blue plaid jacket on the right side of the picture? That’s TOBY for crying out loud! And see the crazy person making a “C” with her fingers? That’s me!)

It took everything in me not to bust out dancing and singing, I don’t wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul, but somehow I managed to keep my crazy self under control.

And just look at this.

Holy friggin’ cow. That right there is Toby Mac, McDaddy, the boys and me.

Two days later, I can hardly believe it.

He was so gracious and kind to my family. It was an honor meeting him. And now, when I’m exercising with his music blaring from my iPod, I will smile knowing that we are friends.

Or something like that.

It was a wonderful night and a wonderful experience. It couldn’t have ended any better than having 4,382,184 pieces of tissue paper dropped on us.

Seriously, THE SIXTH ROW was nuts!

It is only fitting to thank my friend Scotty Rock for making absolutely all of this possible. I am so grateful to him for going out of his way to arrange all of this. I could never thank him enough.

And also, a big shout out to Toby Mac and Matthew West (on the off-chance that they ever find their way to a little blog called From Inmates To Playdates, you know, because it’s what all the cool kids are reading), I’d like to say thank you for being so kind and gracious to the McFamily from Charleston WV 2013 Winter Jam. You guys made the experience so special for us and we will never forget it!

For tons of more pictures (FROM ROW SIX) you can visit my Facebook page.

2012 Year In Review

2012 Recap Carnival with Musings of a HousewifeWhen I saw on Facebook today that Jo-Lynne was hosting her annual Blog Recap, I knew I wanted to participate. Oh how I love to look back on our year, and remember the fun times we’ve had as a family.

If I had any sense whatsoever, I would also print out a scrapbook just after I do this recap each year over at one of the photo book companies while it’s still fresh in my brain, but I keep telling myself that I am going to pick up my scrapbooking habit and start right back at 2008 where I left off.

TIME, I NEED SOME TIME!

Before I get started, I’d like to announce that honorable mention goes to: both boys playing spring and fall baseball, Stevie getting braces, both boys playing basketball, me being team mom for two more of Stevie’s baseball teams, and of course, lots and lots of summer travel with McDaddy on business … but let’s get down to the good stuff, shall we?

January

In early January, I shared some of my favorite photos from 2011. And now, here it is the end of 2012 already. Man, how time flies.

Y’all know I love a good story! I was thrilled to learn that RJ, a high-school classmate of mine and McDaddy’s would be competing in the second season of Faceoff. He made it all the way to the finale and got robbed of the grand prize. Our little town is so proud of him, and I enjoyed watching him claw his way to the top each week.

Later in the month, I take you hour-by-hour through a stress test on my heart after learning I have a bundle branch block on the left side of my heart, as a result of self-diagnosing myself with near-death after a Mirena IUD just about did me in.

February

With my 20th reunion just around the corner, I take a look back on the last 20 years of my life.

And also, I searched the mall over looking for a nice watch to buy for McDaddy for Valentine’s Day. I told the story of probably one of the funniest things that has ever happened to me, in a post titled Watch You Say?

March

In March, I spent the weekend with my girlfriends, and Anita Renfroe in Louisville, Kentucky.

March was a great time to remind McDaddy that I STILL wanted a Saturn Sky!!!!

After allowing a RODENT to live in our home only six month prior, our boys were so sad when we lost our sweet hamster, Lulu.

April

I was honored to have two tips featured in Kristen’s e-book That Works For Me! (Tip #596 was a Lego cleanup tip (Dear Lord, help me!) and tip #627 was a deployment tip our family used while McDaddy was deployed to Cuba.)

Also, in April, we welcomed two little dwarf hamsters – Duke and Apollo – into our home.

May

McDaddy and I celebrated 14 years of marriage, and I talk about living our Happily Every After every single day.

June

My favorite day of 2012 happened in June. After five years, countless conversations, much negotiation, months of research and searching, and lots of prayer, I, (and I still can’t believe it!)

GOT

MY

DREAM

CAR!

McDaddy made me the happiest girl in the world when he bought me a beautiful chili pepper red Saturn Sky!

And the same day we brought the car home, McDaddy and I attended our 20th reunion!

And did I mention we drove my dream car, the Saturn Sky?

Our family travelled quite a bit with McDaddy on business over the Summer. We enjoyed Christmas in July at Santa’s Village in New Hampshire.

August

On August 1st, Alex sliced his knee open on a banquet table in our basement resulting in a trip to Med-Express and five stitches.

September

In September, I wrote about a bad day to go topless.

McDaddy and I attended our first Jeep Jamboree in Farmington, Pennsylvania. And I’m quite sure it will not be our last.

October

October was the start of a stressful time for our family.

Nevertheless, I know that I hit the jackpot when I married McDaddy. He is… so many things to me.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I felt obligated to share on the blog that McDaddy was being activated for his second deployment in four years. If you remember, would you say a prayer for us in the months ahead?

November

Alex turned seven!

And six days later, McDaddy turned the big three nine.

And the day after that, I celebrated my four year bloggy anniversary!

December

A big gas-line explosion happened less than three miles from our house ON MY 39th birthday.

And the next day, my sweet Stevie hit Double Digits!

And we also celebrated Christmas!

And there’s really nothing I’d like more than to share pictures of our after-Christmas trip in Florida, but I’ve been busy enjoying this time with my fellas and my in-laws and haven’t had the chance to upload the pictures yet, so…. they will just have to wait. Tonight, we are going to Blue Man Group and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with a bunch of blue men.

2012 has been a year I will never forget. Our family shared some great memories and endured loss and pain that has changed us in ways I don’t even want to talk about. Through it all though, God’s grace has been sufficient and I have no idea where I’d be without that assurance. I am actually dreading 2013, and would love nothing more than to skip the year altogether. The deployment is weighing heavily on my mind, and my granny is facing a battle with cancer, but I know that no matter what, God’s mercies are new every morning and I am clinging to that. I am a blessed girl and I feel privileged to share my life with three wonderful fells. I am also thankful for this little blog and the joy and friendships it has brought to my life. I appreciate each and every one of you!

Happy New Year!!!!

The Crazy Is Back

It’s been a week since I last posted some crazy. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone since I started this blog back in 2008. My friend Becky Facebooked (is that word?) me this morning to ask when I’d be posting again, saying she has missed my crazy.

And before you go and get it in your head that maybe the crazy took a break, rest assured, there has been plenty-o-crazy round these parts.

The week before Christmas, both boys came down with the crud. What started as an innocent cough in Alex on Monday, resulted in both boys being prescribed Prednisone, Albuterol inhalers, and Tamiflu by Wednesday. I was straight-up scared crazy, mostly because I watched it get worse hour after hour, and also because McDaddy was working out-of-town that week, which means he wasn’t around to talk me off of the ledge that I end up on anytime I face a crisis by myself.

For the better part of five days, I administered five or six medications, and breathing treatments round-the-darn-clock. Which also means I got way far behind on Christmas shopping, wrapping, BLOGGING, and laundry, which wouldn’t have been a big deal had we not been planning a day-after-Christmas-trip to Florida. I remember sending McDaddy a panicked text asking if it would be possible for him to come home early. My marbles were all rattling around in my head and I was concerned I might go off the deep end if I woke up one more time in the middle of the night to a 102 degree temperature. Once McDaddy walked through the door two days early from his business trip, it was like a load had been lifted from my shoulders. He knows I am emotionally needy and highly dependent on him, so I suspect he figured for the sake of everyone involved he better get his hind-end home before I lost what little bit of sanity I had left.

By Thursday the boys were better, but still not allowed to go to school because THE STUPID FLU. That means they missed all manner of parties and cupcakes and hot chocolate and pajama days. I was moved almost to tears when Alex’s teacher stopped by our house to deliver the snacks and treats he missed at his class Christmas party that day. I thought she went way above and beyond her teacherly duties and I feel blessed that he has such a caring classroom teacher.

It is now two days post-Christmas, and I am preparing to sign next year’s Christmas cards.

Yes, you heard me right.

I made a trip to the Mart of Walls to find their Christmas Card shelves picked clean. A trip to Target though resulted in me finding just enough discounted cards for next year. I thought that I’d get ahead of the game by signing them so I’ll have less to do next year.

In unrelated news, we are headed to Legoland tomorrow and the boys are super excited. There’s a good chance I’ll lose my ever-lovin-mind over the next week because I made a grand announcement a few months back that I would not allow one more single solitary Lego to enter our home.

I’m eating those words tonight because between the Lego Superhero sets they purchased this evening at Downtown Disney, they are adding 842 pieces to their already massive collection.

You only live once, right?

Anyhoo.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite and NOT SO favorite Christmas memories from 2012 (mostly because I can’t get enough of the Photo Collage APP on my beloved iPhone!)

 

From left top to bottom right: my beautiful nine foot rotating Christmas tree amongst a blue million presents, my sweet boys (at 10 and 7 mind you) talking to Santa Claus, our Elf on the Shelf – Louis Hamilton perched where else? high on a shelf, an easy “cookie” or whatever you want to call it recipe I found on Pinterest – I call it quick and easy, and lastly, brightly colored wrapping paper is one of my favorite things about Christmas. (And just in case you have a crazy sharp memory, you should know that I purchase a three set can of mixed nuts at SAMS every year to give to my dad just so that I can have a beautifully wrapped, ribbon-tied present under the tree each year.

And here you thought I was kiddin’ about the crazy.

top left to bottom right: The ridiculous collection of medication required to treat the flu, a wrapping paper roll sword fight between McDaddy and Alex, the cookie display at Becky’s cookie exchange, Alex’s second chest x-ray in three months to check for walking pneumonia, and lastly, our friend Terry and his kids at our annual Christmas party where he won a gift card for creating the best looking Christmas tree – while holding his hands and the paper over his head.

I didn’t include any pictures from Christmas morning because those pictures are on my big camera and that would require me to actually get up and move, and well, it’s two days post-Christmas and I might step on a Lego. But I promise to post those later.

Merry two-days-after Christmas, y’all.

And if I don’t talk to you for another week, Happy New Year, too!

There’s A Crown And You Can Win It….

Every year at Christmastime, my friend Becky hosts a cookie exchange. This isn’t just an ordinary cookie exchange though, because Becky’s cookie exchange awards the baker of the best cookie with a COOKIE CROWN that they get to keep for an entire year.

Not to mention bragging rights and a picture on this here blog.

And speaking of making the blog, that’s Becky holding the cookie crown so that I could get a good shot of it, since in all probability, I won’t get to take it home.

So yeah, like I said.

It’s a BIG. FRIGGIN. DEAL.

Each year I spend several hours scouring the internet for the winning cookie recipe. I was confident with last year’s entry because it was a really good cookie. But this year, I wasn’t so sure. This was Becky’s tenth cookie exchange and the eighth one I’ve attended. Through the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the cookie exchange.

The cookie exchange always proves to be a great night of fun and entertainment, and maybe even some whining if a certain Princess doesn’t win the crown.

Actually, the whining is expected.

Here’s the battlefield.

Um, I mean the cookie display.

My cookies are in the Longaberger basket on the right side of the table.

As you can tell by the display table, Becky does this thing up right. In addition to the beautiful cookie display, she also cooks up a storm the day of the cookie exchange because everyone knows it takes a lot of energy to sample twelve cookies laced with all manner of sugar, flour, nuts, peanut butter and icing.

Next year, she should offer shots of insulin along with each sample plate.

And before you say anything, I should tell you that I hardly put a dent in this sample plate because HELLO, THAT IS A BUTT-LOAD of sugar.

Pun intended.

Oh my heck, I crack myself up!

I really thought my cookie entry would win last year. It was a REALLY GOOD cookie and I even voted for myself at the cookie exchange. I wasn’t quite as confident with this year’s cookie though, even though it was a Paula Deen original. It was a good cookie, but it tasted a lot like a cake ball.

I should know by now that the winning cookie almost always has peanut butter in it.

Or is a Pillsbury Cookie Bake-off winner.

Facts that I swear I’m going to remember for the next year. Except, only I don’t.

I made Paula Deen’s Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. (Thankfully, the cookies turned out better than these pictures did.)

And here’s what you need to make these suckers.

[NOTE: This picture was taken from the test batch that I made.]

When I made the batch for the cookie exchange I used a devil’s food chocolate cake, which, by the way, tasted much better than the dark chocolate cake mix mess.

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Directions

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and “gooey.” Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

The biggest difference between the batch of cookies Paula made on her show and the batch of cookies I made on my show, is that Paula’s were much prettier than mine. And because I didn’t win, I’d wager that her cookies tasted better than mine, too.

Becky’s sister Megan won the cookie exchange for the second time in three years, which begs the question… is this thing rigged?

I’m kidding.

Sort of.

Look, anytime thirteen ladies gather to compete in a baking competition, I think you should expect some trash talk. Especially from one that writes a blog.

All I know is that there was a crown and I didn’t win it. (Which reminds me of the song “Little Is Much, When God Is In It” that goes,

Little is much, when God is in it,
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you’ll go in Jesus’ name.

And so perhaps that was my problem.

I should’ve prayed first.

And went in Jesus’ name.

Which I will definitely be doing next year.

Until then, ENJOY THAT FRIGGIN CROWN, Megan! Your cookie was wonderful! And because it was a Pillsbury Cookie Bake-Off winner, I suppose it should’ve been.

But know that next year… I’m coming for that crown.

In Jesus’ name.