A Compassionate Plea

As is always the case here at From Inmates To Playdates on Mondays, I am playing along with MckMama’s Not Me! Monday carnival. I have found that confession is good for the soul and is also cheaper than therapy. In fact, there is a lot more to this bloggy thing than what people might think.

Consider for instance, a mommy blogger, (a very well known mommy blogger in fact) gets the bird-brained idea to raise some money for Compassion’s Child Survival Program in an effort to “Wag More, Bark Less” in her walk with Christ. She heads to her local Apple store and purchases a brand spankin’ new iPad. Her intention is simple. She makes a compassionate plea for her readers to donate for the cause. For every person who donates $5.00 to Compassion’s CSP program in the next 24 hours, they will receive one entry for the the iPad giveaway. Her family will in turn give $1.00 for every person who donates.

Her hope was to raise $2,000.

The giveaway ran for 24 hours.

Within the 24 hour period 873 people donated to Compassion’s cause.

Within the 24 hour period those same 873 people donated a whopping $30,332.

$30,332. – All through a bunch of mommy bloggers.

Unstinkinbelievable.

I was honored to participate in this endeavor. God took a measly iPad and blessed and blessed and blessed.

So, when I say that there is more to this bloggy thing than what people might think, you should totally believe me!

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And no, I did not tear up while typing this post thinking of what God can do with a bird-brained idea. Awesome. Just awesome!

This past week, it most certainly was not me who spent nearly twenty minutes looking for keys that were apparently left in my front door ALL NIGHT LONG, just after spending fifteen minutes lecturing my two sweet boys about the importance of keeping up with their belongings.

This past Thursday, it was not me who completed a Thursday Thirteen post but neglected to post it.

Sheesh.

I am one of those mothers who never allow her children to play with sharp objects, so there is  NO WAY that I turned around in church to discover my sweet Stevie playing with a small pocketknife that belonged to his papa. It was very small. But still.

And speaking of knives, it was not me who sliced her stupid finger while attempting to slice a piece of ham. Couldn’t of been me because surely I have more sense than that.

Because I am the queen of organization, I definitely DID NOT spend precious time making a three-page-long “To Do” list, only to lose it an hour later.

Likewise, it was not my organized self that e-mailed the Vice Principal at Stevie’s school inquiring about the date and time of a planning meeting for the school carnival to discover that the meeting was the day before.

Dang.

What about you? What sorts of things have you NOT done this week?

Party At My Place!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. If you are one of my eight loyal blog fans, I appreciate you and hope you learn something about me you don’t already know. If this is your first visit to ‘From Inmates To Playdates’, I sure welcome you to visit any ole’ time. I just love having company. There’s copious amounts of Dr. Pepper in the fridge and there just might be a hidden box of Tagalongs in the corner cabinet.

For starters, I started blogging in June, 2006 for myself and 200 of my closest friends on mySpace. After deciding that me and this bloggy gig could be a happy couple, I decided to take the bloggy plunge and join the blogosphere. That whole Inmates to Playdates title? Well, let me just say that my title has nothing to do with me finding love in jail. Before hanging up my handcuffs to be a stay-at-home-mommy, I spent my time walking the hallowed halls of the Regional Jail as an inmate counselor.

I am 36 years old and I am married to McDaddy who happens to be the most patient man on the planet. He is a control systems genius engineer and also a member of the WV Air National Guard. He was recently deployed for six-months at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he diligently protected our butts, our freedoms and whatever else needed protecting . I talk about him often here at Inmates and I am so proud to be his wife. Oh, and did I mention he is hot? Because, clearly, he is.

I have a seven-year-old son named Stevie. He is a cool kid who loves Lightning McQueen, Monster Trucks and his beloved DS. He is one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever known and I’m not at all just saying that because he is mine. He is thoughtful, polite and loving. (He’s also very smart but I don’t want to sound like one of those mothers).

I also have a four-year-old son named Alex. He has two speeds. Asleep. And wide open. It is comical to watch him in action. He loves to run, jump, climb and bulldoze. He also likes Lightning McQueen, Monster Trucks, Tom & Jerry, and any little trinket he can carry around in his hands all. day. long. He is sweet, independent and cute as a button.

My boys are the joy of my life and I am thankful for the privilege of being a [stay-at-home] mother. Even though I always thought I would have a daughter, I am thrilled that my boys are the best of friends and wonderful playmates.

As my tagline says, I am a self proclaimed princess who gave up a career in corrections for stay-at-home-mom royalty. I have a truck-load of quirks and I am gifted in the art of conversation. Just ask me. I enjoyed my time in jail very much but I enjoy motherhood even more. I love the Saturn Sky, Reality TV, and Dr. Pepper. I am also a Longaberger consultant and scrapbooker.

This blog is like a bag of chex mix. Sometimes you get a boring ole raisin and sometimes you get a M&M. Either way, when enjoyed together, it is a great mix.

I have talked at length about my funeral, watching an embalming and even pap smears. Some days I talk about my sweet boys, my hubby or my Jesus.

I host a fun bloggy carnival on Tuesdays called What I Learned This Week. I’d love for you to join me sometime.

 

Although I realize you have a lot of stops to make, I invite you to nose around and enjoy my daily dose of crazy. Believe me, there is plenty to go around.

Thanks for stopping by From Inmates To Playdates! And thanks to the gals over at 5 Minutes For Mom for hosting this soiree.

Oh, and I almost forgot about the hundreds of prizes being offered at the party. Hear me, I said hundreds!!!

My top three prize choices, in order of preference are:

1. The Grand Prize offered by 5 Minutes For Mom – A Toshiba Satellite Laptop

2. #39 – Be My Guest Certificate – Good for $250.00 (2 night stay) at Hilton Garden Inn – Provided by The Hilton Garden Inn.

3. #63 – Razor Rip Rider provided by Busy Mommy Media.

Here’s a list of some other really great prizes that I would LOVE to win!

40, 46, 11, 6, 68, 72, 75, 76, 101, USC 3, and USC 13.

And if I’m being honest, winning ANY of the prizes would thrill me!

A Few Of Her Favorite Things

You may recall reading about a blog swap I was participating in. The swap was hosted by Our Dandelion Wishes and basically, we were instructed to purchase a few of our favorite things, wrap them up, and send them ‘apackin’.

Well, technically we weren’t instructed to wrap them up, but wrapping the items makes it a bit like Christmas.

Packages were to be sent out on Saturday, March 6th and so this whole week packages have been arriving on doorsteps all over the country. My package arrived on Monday!

I was paired up with a sweet gal from Wisconsin- Sherrie over at  My Life With Boys. I’ve enjoyed getting to “know” her through her blog prior to sending the package.  As you can imagine, I was like a kid in a candy store ripping that box to shreds. I did pause just long enough to take a picture before blowing through Sherrie’s favorite things like a tornado.

 And now, let the fun begin.

1 & 2. Matching plates and napkins for my next get-together.

3. Lipton Green Tea to go (Cherry Blossom)

4. Trident Layers Gum (Green apple and Golden Pineapple)

5. MAC Pigment (fuchsia) that can be used as lip gloss or eyeshadow

6. Bath and Body Super Indulgent Pear Glace Bubble Bath

7. Some cute little furry chicks

8. A hand written note from Sherrie 

9. A beautiful Christmas Ornament

10. Long pink and white candles

11. Live/Love/Laugh Black and Thank You Cards (which I love by the way!)

I can’t be sure if lime green and pink are Sherrie’s favorite colors, but my OCD smiled when I saw all the matching items. And for the record, I am a fan of lime green and pink, too. 

I love, love, love this Christmas ornament.

Sherrie, I will think of you and your family each year I hang it on my tree!

My boys wanted a piece of this the moment I opened it. I would never have imagined that any kind of apple gum would be good, however, it is pretty good stuff.

 I have no earthly idea what I’ll do with these little boogers, but they are just adorable. My seven year old went on and on about how cute they were. Any ideas for their use? I’m thinking they would look cute in a small easter baset.

I especially loved the plates, napkins, and long pink candles. I am in the process of planning a shin-dig so that me and a few of my closest friends can get together and use them. Did I mention that I love get togethers?

Sherrie, It was so fun shopping for you and getting to “know” you through My Life With Boys. Truly, we have a lot in common. Thanks so much!

And here are a “few of my favorite things” that I sent to Sherrie in Wisconsin….

 I’m very loyal to my favorite things, so I was happy to share them!

As is probably evident, Mamarazzi’s Blog Swap 2010, was a huge success! You can head over to Dandelion Wishes and read about all of the favorite things that were swapped!

Hot Diggity Blog

When I first started this bloggy gig, I contacted a blog designer by e-mail. After a few e-mails back and forth, I kicked it into high gear and sent a list of questions that probably had her questioning her decision to work with such an incompetant client me. My questions ranged from ‘Why is a hosted blog better than an un-hosted one’ to ‘Which one of these blog titles do you like best?’

I knew what I wanted but I had no idea how to make it happen. My URL friend, Jo-Lynne and my other URL International friend, Cathy over at Desperately Seeking WordPress are the brains behind this operation. I guess you could say they make me look good.

Since that time, I’ve learned a little bit (a big emphasis on little bit!) about Widgets, Themes, HTML code, headers, Plug-Ins, and blog design.

If you are attentive to detail, and you notice a few changes here at From Inmates To Playdates, you should know that it is not my doing. I know only enough to be dangerous. Basically, I just e-mail my latest, greatest request to Jo-Lynne or Cathy with a message to ‘send me a bill’ and days later I show up on my doorstep and smile because I know they’ve been in there playing around.

For instance, Cathy changed my font last night.

And made a few changes to my theme (the layout of the page) and my widgets (those things in the side-bars like my picture, my blog button, and the calendar).

At this very minute, (or maybe not) Jo-Lynne is designing a new twitter button, subscriber button, and e-mail button because I saw snazzy new buttons over at her place and inquired about them. And before I knew it I was begging asking for them, too!

So, for today’s Thursday Thirteen, I thought it might be fun to feature some bloggy friends and facts since starting this gig back in November, 2008. The statistics are courtesy of Google Analytics.

1. Cathy – “The geek behind the beauty” at Desperately Seeking WordPress – Can I just say that Cathy is a bloggy genius. She is also “really artistic, nerdy, and nice!” She can fix what is broken, and coincidentally, she can fix what I break, too!  Which happens more often than you know. You should visit her place if you are in the market for a blog. DSW also hosts my blog which means my stuff is stored on her server somewhere.

2. Jo-Lynne – The creative owner of DCR Designs. – If you scroll through her designs, you’ll see my current blog design, as well as my old one. She is very affordable and easy to work with.

3. Over the past year, the post, It Was Me, Wasn’t It had the most page views (1000+).

4. Christmas Tour Of Homes yielded the second highest page views.

5. 12% of my new visitors over the past year came from MckMama.

6. 8% of my new visitors over the past year came from We Are That Family.

7. Google is responsible for approximately 9% of my traffic.  5% of that traffic is searching for wet t-shirt contests.

8.  Besides the words From Inmates To Playdates in some form or another, the words Preparing For Deployment were the most googled words landing people at my place.

9.  60% of my readers use Internet Explorer.

10. The average time spent on my site per visit is 1 minute 15 seconds.

11. The average reader reads 1.5 pages in that 75 seconds.

12. 12% of my readers over the past year were from West Virginia. Next was Texas, and then California.

13. And just for fun, my favorite blog is Big Mama.

And that, as they say, is that.

Hope you enjoyed my bloggy bidness.

Swapping Stuff

Last year, I read about a favorite things blog swap over at Mamarazzi’s place. It was a lot of fun receiving my box from Jessica. I was like a kid at Christmastime.

Today, Mamarazzi announced she is hosting another swap. I’m excited to participate again and hope I make the cut.

A blog swap involves shopping for my favorite things, filling a box with my favorite things and mailing it to my bloggy swap partner. In turn I’ll receive a box full of someone else’s favorite things. Then, in fine blogger fashion, we will both take pictures of the whole sha-bang and post it here for the world to see. This swap thing is right up my alley because the possibilities are endless.

Head over to Mamarazzi’s place – Our Dandelion Wishes to join in on the fun! Act fast though because space is limited!

Thanks for hosting this again, Mamarazzi!

Your Title, Is Um, Vital!

For this week’s edition of Works For Me Wednesday, participants are supposed to share a blogging tip.

I am going to offer a few tips that have worked for me!  And a few that work for me as a reader, too!

1. Your title, is um, vital. A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled Wet T-shirt Contest. That post has sent tons of visitors my way thanks to Google.  In addition to the whole Google title tip, I have to say that I am more apt to click on a catchy title than something ordinary. A catchy title is more apt to catch the attention of readers, especially if your post is featured on Blogher. I’ll click on a catchy title every. single. time.

2. Comment frequently – I’ve never met a blogger who didn’t welcome and appreciate comments. In addition to getting comments, it is important to GIVE comments. Commenting is a great way to make URL friends and I’ve found that responding to comments is a great way to engage with your readers.

3. Keep a running list – Sweet mercy, the list has saved me time and time again. I have so much running around in my head, the blog fodder often gets lost in the madness, so I’ve found that making a note of the idea is always a good idea.

4. Turn the music off – I’m not a big fan of a music box on a blog. When I’m reading a blog, the last thing I want to hear is some 80’s mess playing in the background. Or 90’s for that matter. It’s distracting to your readers if you ask me.

5. Post Links – When your daily dose of crazy involves watching an embalming, or your child swallowing a penny, you should link back to it every now and again. Visitors and new readers to your blog will enjoy older posts that perhaps they wouldn’t take the time to scroll through otherwise.

Thanks for stopping by From Inmates To Playdates! I hope you have a lovely Wednesday. Visit THAT familyfor more bloggy tips!

It’s In The Bag!

I was making my morning blog run when I stumbled upon a post over at Chic Critique called What’s In Your Make-up Bag?  From there, I visited a few of the gals linking up to the carnival and the next thing I knew I was searching for my camera to join in the fun.

Then, I discovered that my camera is missing.

Now if I’m being honest, actually it’s McDaddy’s camera that is missing because before the deployment, the boys and I got McDaddy the camera for Father’s Day. Only McDaddy pretty much said he liked my camera better because it was smaller, and told me I could have the new one. And now there is a running joke at the McResidence about his camera being my camera. And, unless you’ve been taking copious notes throughout this paragraph you probably have no idea which camera is mine and which is McDaddy’s.  To make a miserably long story short, the fact is that I could only find one camera and basically I’m letting McDaddy know because he will wonder how the pictures of my make-up bag and its contents found its way onto his camera in the midst of pictures of the heap (ahem! I mean JEEP), the truck and all the other car parts that are for some reason stored on his SD card.

Anyway. On with the make-up bag post.

Meet my make-up bag,

And it’s contents,

There are actually a few other items in the bag, but since I don’t use often, I didn’t allow them to take part in the what’s in the bag make-up post.

Nor am I showing the blogosphere the bags under my eyes. (ahem!)

It hadn’t dawned on me that most of my make-up is Arbonne because I have purchased it one or two items at a time from McDaddy’s sister over the course of the past year. She is, by the way, my sister-in-law, but for the sake of clarity I thought I’d call her McDaddy’s sister).

Sheesh. How do I get so far off topic?

The details.

That’s whats in my bag! What’s in yours?

I’m off to find my McDaddy’s camera.

How I Roll

After years and years of debate the debate rages on.

Many a marriage has suffered due to the debate. Or something like that.

Head over to my Review Page to enter to win a Cottonelle Gift Basket from Mom Bloggers!

Bliss And More

Bloggy friends from all over the US will converge on Nashville the first weekend in February to attend Blissdom, 2010. Blissdom is a blogging conference (fabulous, no doubt) that allows bloggers to meet face to face, share fresh, new ideas, inspire each other and share fashion tips, eat, laugh every other thing women do when they get together.

I would like to be among them, however, the ticket price, transportation, and hotel totals a bit more than the mad cash profit I make from ye olde blog, so instead I am writing this post in an attempt to win a conference pass to Blissdom 2010 offered by Kimberly of Mom In The City. She is not able to attend due to family schedules and whathaveyou, but she is graciously giving away a Blissdom conference pass so that SOMEONE ELSE CAN GO.

How generous is that?

The theme for Blissdom is “Follow Your Bliss!”

“Following Your Bliss means dreaming impossible dreams – and then making them possible through creativity, passion and direction.  Blissdom 2010 is your space to make this happen.” (Blissdomconference.com)
 
Before starting From Inmates To Playdates, I spent a year blogging on mySpace just to make sure I would actually stick with it!. During that time, I also visited blogs of all kinds, and kept a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for my blog. (Yes, actually I do keep a running list for just about everything!) I wanted this blog to be a place where I could empty my brain’s crazy contents on a daily basis (and believe me, the crazy abounds!) in a creative way. I wanted it to be a running record of my life. I was passionate about eventually bringing some gals along on my journey. Gals that would enjoy visiting my little crazy corner of the blogosphere. And, with a little luck, and direction, I had hoped to make enough money from the blog to support my bloggy habit.

The blog has allowed me to meet many URL friends.

Friends who supported and encouraged me during my hubby’s seemingly impossible six-month deployment. Friends who have given me hair product advice. And friends who share my love of shoes, Jesus and, the iPhone.

Attending Blissdom would make them IRL (in real life) friends.

Meeting these gals face-to-face.

Learning from them. Laughing with them. And linking to them.

That, my friends, would be BLISS.

Martha Would Be So Proud!

Today’s Works For Me Wednesday is supposed to be centered around your best gift tip. Unfortunately, I don’t consider myself to be too creative. The scope of my creativity involves those really pretty green, blue, or red glass ornament bulbs from Michael’s (like  the solid red or green ones in the picture) and a fat-tip silver or gold Sharpie marker.
I had fully intended to run to Michael’s to purchase two sets of said pretty green, blue, or red ornaments before today, but you know what they say about intentions. Well, actually I don’t know what they say about intentions, but it sounded like it was going to lead up to something profound. Anyway, as I was saying, I’m not real creative, but thankfully, I have some friends who are and so I’m going to share a craft project that we did at our fall ladies retreat.

First, you start with a clear candle holder / coaster from the Mart of Walls. (I think they are $0.96.) Next, you can either purchase flower petals from Michaels or Oriental Trading, or you can purchase small silk flowers and pull the petals from them to use. (We used the flower petals from Michaels.)
 
You will also need 12 drops of casting craft catalyst and two ounces of casting resin. (For every 6 drops of catalyst, you will need one ounce of resin.) Mix the catalyst and resin together in a small cup.
 
Arrange the flower petals on the coaster / candle holder. Next, pour the concoction over your flowers filling the candle holder to the brim. Quickly pop any bubbles that you see and smooth them over.
 
Leave the candle holder alone for approximately 18 hours to give the glaze stuff ample time to set up or else you will have unwanted finger prints within your flower design (ahem!) and you will wish you would have followed my directions. After the candle holder/coaster thing dries, you can either display it with a candle or a cup, or purchase a metal easel to display the masterpiece or give them away to twenty of your closest friends.

Here is the finished product.

 

 Visit We Are THAT Family for more gift tips!

If you have really pretty hand-writing (which thankfully is one of my best qualitites!) you can make and give a meaningful keepsake by writing a name, adding dots to highlight the name and then drawing snowflakes or decorative lines around the top and bottom of the ornament.