Another Edition of Thursday Thirteen

I attended a Christmas Card addressing party on Wednesday, and my friend Becky asked if I had given any thought to reviving Thursday Thirteen (through the alphabet) during the six months McDaddy will be deployed like I did last time. Actually, I have thought about it, and I’ve decided I probably will do it because 1. it provides a great way to count down the 26 weeks of deployment, and 2. it’s totally random and fun.

And speaking of random and fun, I thought I’d revive it for today and play 13 things I did today –

This one’s for you, Becky.

1.  Filled out Stevie’s birthday invitations – how is it that my sweet son will be in the double digits in just 12 short days? It seems like just yesterday I was whining all sprawled out on a day-bed in our great room whining (in my 4th week of bed-rest! whining) waiting to meet this sweet baby boy whining.

Not that I whined or anything. 

2. Watched Shemar Moore Criminal Minds - Ok, so the truth is I started watching Criminal Minds years ago because of Shemar Moore, but it really is a great show. And it would be with or without Shemar. Don’t you love how I just throw his name around like we’re pals? I just wish they’d bring Gideon back.

3. Cracked myself up when I referred to Apollo and Duke (our dwarf hamsters) as “Brothers of the wheel”.

4. Went to Reeds Jewelers to have my wedding ring cleaned and also to see if this set was a third of the size as it appears in the advertisement they sent to my house today.

On the off-chance there are three of you out there who are looking for something to buy me for Christmas, look no further. I love all three of these pieces, and was surprised to find out that they are almost true to size as pictured. My preference, in order would be, necklace, ring, earrings. Oh, and as it turns out, I got so excited about this set, I totally forgot to have my wedding ring cleaned.

5. Saw this family picture on the JEEP Facebook page. I took a screen shot to show McDaddy – a great idea for a future family Christmas picture. (Photo credit: Sharper Photography)

6. Managed my Facebook yardsale inventory -  y’all, it is a job keeping up with those items and comments and private messages and meeting times. I keep a page in my memos specifically for my FBYS “business”.

7. Visited with my granny - She is my last living grandparent and I enjoyed spending most of the day with her. She asked me if I had any idea what “that whole tweetering thing is all about.” (And in case you’re a Tweeter, you can look me up – I’m JulieatInmates – though I don’t get on there much anymore.)

8. Had dinner at Chilis with friends - and as always, I ordered my usual, chicken crispers with mashed potatoes and corn on the cobb. After making myself half-sick on chips and salsa of course.

9. Moved Louis Hamilton, our Elf on the Shelf - which is really a stupid name, because OUR elf? Well, because he never just sits on a shelf.

This was Louis Hamilton a few days ago spreading the good news.

10. Laughed hysterically when I read this e-mail from a sweet blog reader: You don’t know me, but I have been following your blog for quite some time now… I actually wish you would print a recipe book of the meals you cook (I’m sure you’re laughing about now, but I’m serious) because, like you, I prefer recipes that have 5 or fewer ingredients! – Oh dear goodness. I’ll give you all some time to process that last statement.

Never in a gazillion years would I ever think of writing a COOK book.

Me? A recipe book? Me? The same someone who baked a marble cake for Thanksgiving dinner and thought she got jipped out of the marble because the cake was just plain yellow. I had no idea that marble was in its own separate packet.

Me? A Cookbook?

Such kind words. Thanks Wendy. =)

11. Prepared two breathing treatments for my sweet Alex.

Don’t ask why he has that goofy look on his face, because I have no idea.

12. Ordered Poptropica for the DS. Actually, I ordered two copies because I figured it was worth the extra $25. for each kid to have their own copy, and thought in the long run it might preserve some of my sanity.

13. Got myself in gear to kick off Santa’s Workshop tomorrow – I am prepared for a fun week. It is a lot of work, but the kids love it so much.

What did you do today?

Oh, and it just dawned on me that it’s now after midnight, which also means that it’s Friday now.

I suppose I spent way too much time thinking about the whole Me? and Cookbook? thing.

Another Clever Christmas Letter

If you happen to be on our annual McFamily Christmas card list, this would be a great time for you to click that little red “X” up there in the corner of your screen. Otherwise, you might ruin the mystery and suspense that surrounds our annual Christmas letter when it arrives in your mailbox. 

Either way.

Your decision.

I always feel a sense of relief when our annual Christmas letter is done. I had come *thisclose* to not writing a family Christmas letter this year, but decided that there are at least four of you out there who would have missed it. And even after deciding I would write one, I first offered the job to McDaddy.

I swear I saw him roll his eyes before he simply said, “No.

I thought briefly about asking Stevie if he’d like to write this year’s letter, but I suppose I’ve waited much too late in the holiday season for Chatty McChatterson to compose the letter in a timely fashion. After all, he learned from the very best.

So… without further ado, here is the official 2012 McFamily Christmas letter.

Christmas greetings we send, a brief holiday message to write,
I could finish this much quicker if the kids would not fight.
The perfect little Christmas letter, no doubt would be great
If I don’t get off of Facebook, this letter just might be late.
Our house is often messy, the kids are rarely still,
You see, in this year’s Christmas letter, I’ve decided to keep it real.
These two crazy boys are loud, and they sure love to run,
They have races, play the Wii and build Lego creations for fun.
Alex turned seven this year, and Stevie will be ten,
And for the fourth year in a row, we’re doing cub-scouts again.
First place trophy McDaddy and Stevie took, at the father/son bakeoff
Oh look! The boys are shooting Nerf darts from the railing in the loft.
A busy calendar rules our life, and the laundry is never done,
During little league baseball and basketball seasons, our little family stays on the run.
McDaddy still travels for Honeywell, and does his thing at the Guard.
I miss him most at homework time, because holy cow, 4th grade math is hard.
We received news of an upcoming deployment, we weren’t one bit happy
Six months of separation, that’s depressing and it’s crappy.
We’re in this thing together though, our little band of four,
We’ll call, Skype, and pray our way through, yet another tour.
While running through the house one day, Alex sliced his knee wide open
Six stitches later at the Urgent Care, Yes, for a cool scar he sure is hopin’.
To our 20th high school reunion this summer, McDaddy and I did go
He and I will both be forty next year, say it isn’t so.
Stevie got some braces and we added two little hamsters to our fold
We didn’t camp as much this year, and the minivan, we sold.
Julie is thankful to be a stay-at-home mom, but runs the roads most days,
She is the bookkeeper of the baseball team and screams like a maniac at the games.
It’s almost time to wrap this up, cause shorter is always better,
We’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas before closing out our annual letter.
And in this final line we write, and take this chance to say,
May 2013 be the greatest year, with lots of blessings each and everyday.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

What I Learned This Week

The last time I checked in here, I gave you a list of things I was thankful for.

I should have included electricity on that list.

At 8:42 AM on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up to discover that our electric was off.

The turkey had been cooking in the oven since 6:00 AM, and I was flip hoppin’ mad. And, in case you’re wondering, that is one step past hoppin’ mad. Our electric flickers almost daily, but this was different. After making a call to American Electric Power, I did what I do when I don’t know what else to do. I cried. And yes, it was as crazy as it sounds. We were hosting eleven people for dinner and I had no idea how we were going to be able to do it without electric. On top of that, I had just days earlier spent a load of money at SAMS restocking our fridge after the great Halloween snow storm of 2012 knocked out our power for three days which required me to dump the contents of the fridge and freezer.

After deciding we would move the contents of our freezer to my mom and dad’s freezer, and have Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant, a power truck was spotted on our road. Thankfully, our power was restored a short eight minutes later.

Poor McDaddy probably thought I had lost my darn mind.

Besides being thankful for electricity, here’s what else I learned this week:

1. I fret more about school projects than the kids do.

2. It is tough to see Apollo and Duke when you switch from white bedding to brown bedding.

3. After writing thirteen annual Christmas letters, it is tough to come up with a unique idea.

4. After searching the internet for Christmas letter ideas, I discovered that an overwhelming majority of people hate Christmas letters.

5. Fancy new appliances make me smile.

5a. I AM OLD.

6. New fangled appliances have all kinds of instructions.

7. It is A JOB keeping up with that Elf on the Shelf every night. A JOB I tell you.

8. Stupid computer viruses make me crazy.

9. It has become necessary for me to keep a running list (complete with reminders!) of things that are important.

10. No matter how old I am, our Christmas tree delights me every single year.

That what I learned this week. Now what did YOU learn?

I’m So Thankful

I have cooked all evening.

Well actually, I have cleaned all evening. For the past several years, it has been a day-before-Thanksgiving-tradition that my parents come over to our house, and we spend the evening preparing a lot of the food for our Thanksgiving feast. Tonight, we made most of the desserts, the turkey, the dressing, the yams (that’s a crazy word!) and a cheeseball. You know, because its not Thanksgiving without a cream-cheese and onion blob rolled in shaved beef. (And yes, it is much better than it sounds.) My job during this process is to keep the dishes washed, and the counters cleaned off. It is a job I take very seriously because I am a fan of the immediate gratification, and the clutterless countertops. My OCD and I jump right in and keep things movingrightalong. It is a system that works very well for us.

And then, once they leave (I’m blessed that they only live about 10 miles away), I prepare the table, sweep the floors, clean the bathroom, and this year, I also cleaned the hamster cage because I couldn’t remember the last time I did so. I am headed to bed here in a bit, but wanted to check in here first and count my blessings.

I am setting the alarm on my iPhone and for the next five minutes I will be sharing the things that I am thankful for as they randomly pop into my head.

Off we go,

my parents
McDaddy’s parents
our home
beautiful sunsets
my girlfriends
the invention of TiVo
travelling with McDaddy on business
my SKY
my twin brothers
mrs. H and miss P (great teachers)
our church
mcdaddy’s family
a good sale
our neighborhood
our health
our medical team that takes such wonderful care of us
my granny
our nieces and nephews
our bed
comfortable shoes
food in our kitchen
the blog
dr pepper
weather people
my little Pioneer class
ice water
clean water
great music
beautiful sunny days
my camera
words with friends
the Bible
hot bath
road trips with the girls
mcdaddy’s job(s)
the off button on the alarm clock

Phew, that was fun!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

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.