What I Learned This Week

I’ve had a busy, stressful couple of weeks. It seems like one thing piled on top of the next and before I knew it, the deck was stacked against me and I was facing one crazy thing after another.

Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning and things seem to be settling down a bit.

Bless it.

Here’s what I learned this week…

1. American Eagle now has a clothing line for dogs called American Beagle. One month ago, this fact would have made me roll my eyes. Now that I’m a dog owner though? Not so crazy.

What is crazy though, is that they haven’t asked my cute boy, Bentley to be part of their “Paw”some program.

2. I have almost put as many miles on the SKY in two years, as the previous owner did in five years.

3. “Potty training” a dog is harder than what I thought.

4. Alex has a pair of jeans, that in his opinion, “Make him look fat.”

Dear goodness.

5. When asked what he’d like for his birthday, my soon to be nine-year old always says, “A pocket knife.”

6. When ordering pictures from the Mart of Walls, you might want to double check that you are sending them to the RIGHT Wal-Mart.

7. When planning to meet a friend for Mexican, you should probably make for certain that you are clear about which city you are meeting in, otherwise, you may end up at a restaurant in one city and she in another.

8. Thanks to the “find my iPhone” feature on my beloved iPhone, McDaddy is able to find me even when I am lost and looking for a restaurant in another city.

9. The kid bagging my crap at the grocery store couldn’t care less about smashing my bread.

10. A ninety-minute voice memo will not transfer from iPhone to iTunes.

11. A three pound dog will gain a certain amount of confidence watching his three pound brother jump off of a couch.

12. White chocolate candy corn M&Ms are nasty.

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.

Easy enough?

GO forth and COMMENT! 

Totally Random Nonsense

It is with regret that I announce that I shot my wad on the SLIMpossible diet today.

While at the hospital for most of the day, I found myself with about six minutes to scarf down some “lunch”. I made a quick trip to the hospital snack bar and settled on a bag of Doritos and a chocolate pudding parfait, which I could not pass up because, HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE? And, in a moment of weakness, I swallowed four thin mints, almost whole.

On an unrelated note, who named those suckers THIN mints anyway? I realize they are THIN, but that’s the last thing anyone who eats them is going to be. (Especially when you eat an entire sleeve. * Not that I’ve ever done that! *

In my defense though, I did come home and spend an hour with Leslie Sansone in an attempt to work that parfait and the Doritos and those four measly 160 calorie THIN mints off.

For weeks (or maybe it’s been months at this point) my kitchen counter has looked like this because the screen on that pretty pink laptop decided to quit working.

Only, I did move the monitor and keyboard over toward the wall to clear up half the counter.

But alas, I am pleased to report that tonight I am no longer sitting on that HARD bar stool. Instead, I am blogging from the comfort of my big, blue, bloggy couch with a brand spankin’ new laptop with a screen that works.


And Amen.

My tailbone thanks you, McDaddy.

And I do, too!

I heard bad news today.

I mean REALLY bad news.

I haven’t been able to think about much else since I heard the news.

Can you believe that my beloved Maksim Chremkovskiy will not be on this season of Dancing With The Stars?

That makes me nine kinds of unhappy.

But seeing these at the hospital today sure made me smile.

Yes, those are tennis shoes.

The nurse wearing them explained that they are specially designed tennis shoes (called Z-Coils) for people with a bad back. I think they are super cool and really, I MEAN REALLY wanted to ask her if I could try them on. But instead, I just snapped a picture all secret-squirrel right in the middle of the E-R.

She bought them on a Canadian website and they were $240. And before you ask, for once I wasn’t the one asking nosy questions. My dad happened to be in the E-R with me and his nose is way bigger than mine! (Hi Dad!) He was asking her all kinds of questions.

[On an unrelated note: Since receiving a tablet for Christmas, my daddy has joined the ranks with LBF’s all over the nation. And you can bet the farm it is killing him not knowing what the heck an LBF is.

I do not suffer from back, joint or foot pain (but remember I still have butt pain from sitting on that hard bar stool!), still, I really want a pair of those shoes. They are cool and from what I understand very comfortable. Not to mention I am finding, at the ripe age of 39, that comfort trumps cute every. single. time.

Oh, and on the off-chance that the fine folks from Z-Coil end up here at From Inmates To Playdates, Inc., you should know that I would LOVE an opportunity to work with you on a review/giveaway promotion. Just have your people call my people and we’ll set something up!

And just like THAT, I realize the time on my laptop is an hour off.


Crazy random posts work for me!

Pep In My Step

It was a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

The good news is, it was a wonderful, beautiful, perfect for January 70 degrees.

The bad news is, this…

As much as I love have the JEEP in the garage on cold January mornings, I miss having the SKY here at the house for rare 70 degree days in January.

Aside from the beautiful weather, I spent much of the day trying to burn calories. I had plans to eat at Chilis with some girlfriends and knew I’d more than likely be ordering the chicken crispers / mashed potatoes / corn on the cob combo which has about a bazillion calories.

3,210 calories to be exact.

Let’s just say I didn’t exercise nearly enough, and I finished the day in the caloric hole.

But enough about calories, because tomorrow is a new day, right?

And I plan to do better.

The weather guy warned that we could have 60 mile-high winds tomorrow, along with thunder showers. The temperature is supposed to be in the 60’s. The rest of the week calls for snow, snow and more snow.

I can’t tell you how sad that makes me.

I long for the day that I can put on my flip-flops, drop the top, and drive around all afternoon blaring my SKY tunes playlist. But for now, I use that playlist when I exercise. Here’s a sampling of whats on there:

  • Rag Doll – Aerosmith
  • Give Me Your Eyes – Brandon Heath
  • Rolling In The Deep – Adele
  • City On Our Knees – TobyMac (did you know I recently got to meet TobyMac?)
  • There Is A Way – NewWorldSon
  • Have Fun, Go Mad – Blair (love this one!)
  • Play That Funky Music – Adam Lambert
  • Feelin’ So Fly – TobyMac
  • The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
  • These Thousand Hills – Third Day
  • Lose My Soul – TobyMac (My favorite of his songs!)
  • You Learn – Alanis Morissette
  • Poison – Bell Biv Devoe
  • Motownphilly – Boyz II Men
  • Fantastic Voyage – Coolio
  • Hold On – EnVogue (Can you tell I loved 90’s music?)
  • Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) – Us3
  • If I Had No Loot – Tony! Toni! Tone’!

If these songs don’t get you moving, I don’t know what will. They sure work for me when I’m trying to put some pep in my step.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for some fresh, new workout material. You know, down there in the comments.

What are you waiting on?

My New Pal

I cleaned like a crazy person today. Actually, I cleaned and danced like a crazy person today. I had some clutter to put away, three week’s worth of mail to sort through, and some decor to change out. I linked up my iPhone with the bluetooth wireless speaker that McDaddy got for Christmas, blasted some Third Day, Toby Mac, and Selah and I went to town swarping papers, cleaning countertops, putting dishes away and sweeping the floors. I danced and cleaned for 45 minutes. My heart was banging and I had sweat. So, that’s good, right?

It felt good knowing that I was cleaning my house while also getting in some exercise.

A few days ago, I asked for your help with finding a good calorie tracking APP. Several of you suggested My Fitness Pal, which I downloaded today.


I was thrilled that it was so easy to use.

When I ate two pieces of Pepperidge Farm toast for lunch, I was able to scan the bar code on the bread-bag and the APP spit out the nutrition information.

Boom, just like that.

And after I cleaned and danced like a crazy person, I input that information into the cardio tab on the APP and was surprised that the APP adjusted and allowed for more caloric intake.

Later in the evening I did 15 minutes of Wii Fit. The advanced step and free run was listed alongside of their calories burned info. It was quick and easy to put the info in.

There was just one slight problem.

My new Fitness Pal wasn’t so friendly on our first day as pals.

It appears that I shot my caloric wad by more than 400.

Looks like I shoulda’ cleaned and danced like a crazy person for about seventy more minutes.

Or skipped breakfast.


I was even more depressed when I put McDonald’s big breakfast with hotcake into the APP just to see how many calories it would cost me if I decided to go that route the next time I meet the girls at McDonalds for breakfast. As it turns out, they don’t call it BIG BREAKFAST with hotcakes for nothing. That little bit of greasy Heaven will cost you 1100 calories. Or in my case, just a little less if you forgo the greasy hashbrown.

Eleven friggin’ hundred.

OUT OF 1500.

Which means I’d have to eat two cheese slices for lunch and a two bananas for dinner.


The BIG BREAKFAST with the hotcakes is history.

If you’re on My Fitness Pal, look me up. I suppose it would be fun to add friends, so long as My Fitness Pal doesn’t offer up my three numbers or rat me out when I fall off the biggest la-ooser wagon and eat a sleeve of thin mints.

I suppose My Fitness Pal worked for me!

Works For Me Wednesday – Christmas Card Party

I am blessed to have lots of great girlfriends.

It is not uncommon for me to receive an e-mail that says something like, “Thinking of taking an overnight road trip in two weeks. I’ve got four seats open. Let me know if you wanna go.” Or one that says, “Going to breakfast on Friday. Who’s in?”

A few weeks ago, my friend Christina sent a text that said, “Card Addressing party at my house. 10AM. I’ll have finger foods and drinks.”

Have I mentioned I have great girlfriends?

Sometimes we don’t even need a valid reason to get together.

I attended Christina’s Christmas card addressing party just days ago, and as always, we did more eating and talking than we did card addressing.

Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself, here. (And I can tell you this much, for some odd reason, we didn’t even get a group picture this year.)

I love any reason to drink from stemware.

Even if it is pop.

Or as you fancy high-faluten’ folks call it, soda.

Christina put out a spread. There were dips, veggie trays, cheese trays, and fancy colorful holiday chips.  There were Sharpies, stamps, address books, and glue sticks. And stories.

And as you might guess anytime six women come together, there were also lots of laughs.

My seemingly endless stack of Christmas cards was no match for the four hours I spent at Christina’s card addressing party (mostly because I insist on hand signing and hand addressing each and every single one) but I sure had fun.

And just a few short days later, two special little elves (and McDaddy, too!) helped me attach return address labels and stamps to complete this year’s Christmas card extravaganza.

And that, as they say, is that.

Time with girlfriends works for me!

Christmas Letters

I am one of those people.

And if I’m being honest, I have contemplated not being one of them this year.

As best I can calculate, I’ve been one of them for the past thirteen years. And after thirteen years, I think you have to ask, is it time?

 Is it time to ax the McFamily Christmas letter?

I’ve written poems. I’ve used numbers. I’ve written from Alex’s perspective. I’ve used a multiple choice quiz. I’ve used the Merry Christmas down the side of the page (which has a name, but for the life of me I can’t think of it), and I’ve used the plain letter.

I’ve been thinking about the letter for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m stuck in a non-creative and non-humorous rut. If you’re one of those people who send a family letter, or if you are thinking of sending one for the first time this holiday season, here are some helpful hints and ideas to remember when writing your annual Christmas letter.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I absolutely love receiving Christmas letters, and cards, and holiday pictures. In the mail. As in the U.S. MAIL. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts about the Christmas season.

1. Don’t be a Braggy McBraggerson. Seriously, your child is not the next Nobel Peace Prize winner.

2. Stay positive. – A fun, positive letter is so much more enjoyable than the depressing, boring one.

3. Keep it short and sweet. Or at least all on the same side of the paper.

4.  Use big words sparingly. Your friends and family don’t want to hear from an English professor, they want to hear from you.

5. Don’t brag.

6. Proofread the letter twice three times before sending it to print.

7. Pick a font and stick with it. As much as I love fonts, the Christmas letter is not the place to go all crazy with several different ones, or one that is difficult to read.

8. Pictures add so much. So long as they are clear.

9. This is a biggie – DON’T BRAG.

10. Target your audience. Will the general readership be able to understand the content? If your husband is a rocket scientist, you probably shouldn’t go on and on about the aerodynamic characteristics of his aircraft.

Is there even such a thing?

See what I mean?

11. Make stuff up. Sometimes, the best Christmas letters have a little bit of fun sprinkled throughout the madness. Part of the point is asking your readers to figure out which parts are made up.

12. Have fun. – If you had fun writing it, chances are, your readers will enjoy reading it.

I’d love to hear about the best and worst Christmas letter you’ve ever gotten. And if you happen to be on my Christmas card list, would you care to share which one was your favorite. Or least favorite?

Was it the one with MERRY CHRISTMAS down the side?

The one about the FAQ’s?

The one written to the tune of Twas The Night Before Christmas?

The one that Alex wrote?

Or my personal favorite and the one I can’t find right now because it is nowhere to be found on the blog, Our year in numbers?

Aw yes, the year that Stevie swallowed the penny and Alex fell into a cactus.

And what a year it was….

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Teacher Survival Kit

School started here in our district two weeks ago. We are almost back in the up early-homework as soon as you get home – early to bed routine. Though, for the record I HATE getting up early.

My ideal school day would start at 9:00 AM, but unfortunately I didn’t get to vote.

But alas, I will survive.

And speaking of surviving…

Before school started, I put together a Teacher Survival Kit for Stevie and Alex’s teachers.

  • Extra Gum – because you go the extra mile.
  • Batteries – for when you must keep going and going and going.
  • Bath & Body Soap – to remind you I’m here if you need a hand.
  • Rubber bands – to help you hold it all together.
  • Sponge – to remind you that little brains are like sponges.
  • Peanuts – for when you’re going nuts!
  • Lifesavers – for when you’ve had one of those days.
  • Cup – for when yours is running over.
  • Pipe Cleaners – to remind you that flexibility is important.
  • Stickers – to remind you that we can all stick together.
  • Orange Slices – Orange you glad for Fridays!
  • Stick of Gum – to remind your students to STICK TO IT when things get tough.
  • Notepad – for making lists
  • 100 Grand Candy Bar – Because we can never pay you what you’re worth.
  • Erasers – to remind you that we all make mistakes.
  • Almond Joy – there is JOY in teaching.

To make your own teacher survival kit:

1. Purchase a cheap basket. (Mine is from the dollar store.)

2. Find items to fill your basket that inspire ideas about children and teaching.

3. Type up a list of survival kit items, explaining each one.  Use scrapbook scissors to create a decorative edge. Attach list of items to a straw and allow plenty of room for the list to be seen.

4. I also typed up “Mrs. Soandso’s Survival Kit” and used the scissors to create a decorative edge. I then attached “the flag” it to a straw.


I’ve Never Been Good At Following Directions….

As a child, I was never good at following directions.

Funny thing is, I’m still not.

A week or so ago, I made a trip to the Wal Mart. It’s not often that I get to leisurely walk around the store and actually shop without kids begging to go look at toys, anxiously needing to pee or pestering me about leaving. On this particular trip, I had peace and quiet and time to look.

Among other things, I was shopping for a can of jewelry cleaner because my silver jewelry was in need of a good cleaning. I looked over the choices and chose this.

I returned home late that evening to a quiet house. All three of my fellas were in bed and I had quite a few groceries to unload and put up. I took the jewelry cleaner into the bathroom and dropped three pieces of the sterling silver jewelry I was wearing into the cleaner. I returned to the kitchen to put up the remaining items. After that, I checked facebook and read a little before making my way to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I went into the bathroom and saw the jewelry cleaner on the counter. It dawned on me that I had gone to bed without removing the jewelry from the cleaner. I quickly unscrewed the lid and retrieved the white plastic pan from the liquid. My beloved sterling silver Tiffany’s bracelet now looked like an old nasty piece of chain that had been out in the sun and rain for lots of years. My stomach sank and a single tear fell down my cheek.

How could I be so irresponsible?

The other two pieces didn’t look great, but they were cheaper, less sentimental pieces that could be easily replaced. The Tiffany’s bracelet was a gift from McDaddy several years ago, and I wear it almost everyday.

I snatched the can up and read the instructions on the back of the container. In bold letters, the instructions plainly state to drop jewelry in the cleaner for NO MORE than ten seconds at a time.

My jewelry, sat in that can, captive for about ten hours.

I was sick, people.

And I had no one to blame but my stupid self.

I had a good cry.

I sat down on my bed and did what I do when I need to do something. I called the number on the back of the cleaner.

After explaining my stupidity to the receptionist, I was transferred to a gentleman in customer service. I cried as I explained what I had done and asked if there was anything that could be done to restore the luster of the metal. He asked what type of jewelry I had placed in the cleaner and I told him about my beloved Tiffany’s bracelet. He said something about Tiffany’s putting a special coating on their jewelry to protect it and probably what I was seeing was a reaction to the coating and not the metal. I hoped with everything in me that this cat wasn’t feeding me a line of bull. He was a kind gentleman who quickly took my name and address and said he would send me out some products that should help.

All I could do was wait.

Two days later, I received this in the mail:

and also this:

I sliced that box open and pulled the jewelry wipes out of that container. It took a SWEET FOREVER, but eventually my Tiffany’s bracelet was shiny once again. I then took the wipes to the chain and the silver key charm that had been in the cleaner. To my surprise, they were both restored, as well. I have since used the wipes and the cloth on the jewelry that I wear every single day.

They all look wonderful.

GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE works for me and so I just had to share this. The events in this post happened exactly as I have reported them. I was not asked or compensated in any way to write this post.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday over at We Are THAT Family.

A Sweet Treat

One day while snooping around on Pinterest I found a neat teacher appreciation gift. I am proud to announce that with two days left in the school year, our three teacher appreciation gifts are ready to give.

Here’s what I purchased today.

The three cans are actually clear paint-type cans that I purchased at Michael’s.

As I began to fill the cans, I discovered that I needed more items to fill the can because I wanted the candybars to keep their form in the cans.

So, I searched our cabinets to see what else I had on hand.

I held the first can on its side. Starting on the flat side, I placed the candy bars side-by side until I covered the flat side. Then, I started to fill the middle. Once the middle was full, I placed the remaining candy bars around the top and kept filling the middle so that the candy bars would stay in place.

And then, I typed up a little story on the computer, leaving a couple of blanks because I wanted the kids to fill in the story to make it personal. (Unfortunately, I used my phone instead of my beloved Canon Rebel, so the lighting, or the color, or whatever is shot.)

Because Alex’s Kindergarten room is called Rainbowland, I changed the colors on his letter.

I think Alex’s teacher will smile when she reads this.

They turned out really cute.

 This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Going Bananas

If you were around here on Monday, (or if you follow FITP on the Facebook) you might remember me mentioning that Stevie and McDaddy won first place in the father/son cub-scout bake-off.

This win marks their third trophy in three years, but their FIRST first place award.

I’d say these two make a pretty good culinary pair, wouldn’t you?

And before you ask, the trophy he’s holding is not a solid gold dancer. It’s actually a chef.

I started researching recipes at the nail salon one day and narrowed my search to three cakes. When I got home I asked McDaddy if he’d like to see the choices. He simply replied, “You can just pick one.”

So, after school that day, the boys and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for the cake that I chose, based on the list of ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe. As we made our way up and down the aisles, Stevie mentioned that he’d “Really rather make a cake with bananas in it because you really can’t go wrong with bananas as your main ingredient”.

I can only imagine he said that because of the hundreds of banana cakes I’ve made throughout his nine years on this earth.

Or maybe because he comes up with some off-the-wall stuff sometimes.


I pulled up the banana cake recipe I had looked at the day before and started reading off the ingredients.

I said to Stevie, ” Well, if you lose with this cake, it’s all on you.”

To which he replied, “But if I win, it’s all on me, too!”

Well alrighty then.

So off we went, in search of buttermilk, lemon juice and baking soda. Among other things.

(Absent on picture day: bananas)


Best Ever Banana Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 ½ cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice (sounds nasty, but stay with me!)
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Garnish: Chopped nuts


1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
2. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan
3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside
4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
5. In a large bowl, cream ¾ cup butter and 2 1/8 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp. vanilla
7. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
8. Stir in banana mixture.
9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes ut clean.
10. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
12. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
13. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth and spread on cooled cake.
14. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top of the frosting, if desired.

Slice and enjoy.

As it turns out, there are at least six other people who agree with Stevie’s opinion that you “Can’t really go wrong making a cake with bananas as the main ingredient.”

And on his dresser, there is a solid gold dancer statue to prove it.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.