Top 10 Posts of 2013

When I first started this blog back in November, 2008, I kept a pretty close eye on the analytics. Now, I just take spells (I’m starting to sound like my granny!) where I’ll check on them every now and again. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from WordPress called “Your 2013 Year In Blogging.” I thought it would be fun to share the results of who’s showing up here, what they are looking for, and where they are coming from.

So, this is what my year in blogging - here at From Inmates To Playdates – looks like.

Top 10 highly trafficked posts for 2013 

  1. Bus Trip Games (April, 2010) – If you know me, you know I love to organize games and prizes. The ladies group at my church takes frequent bus trips, mostly to conferences. I am ALWAYS in charge of planning games and prizes for our trips. My favorite bus-trip game is “Pass the Gift” which is actually a poem I wrote where a door prize (in a gift bag or wrapped) is passed up and back, side to side on the bus several times before it finally lands and is given to a person on the bus. This post is so popular, I often receive e-mails asking if I have more games that I haven’t shared on the blog. The answer? Yes!
  2. Crescent Roll Chicken Casserole  (March, 2012) – Y’all, I am no culinary genius, but every once in a blue moon, I find a recipe worth sharing. This one? Definitely worth sharing. It is yummy and EASY! And I guess it never hurts to pin a recipe post on Pinterest, either.
  3. Teacher Survival Kit (August, 2012) – I always say, you can NEVER be too nice to your child’s teacher. (Apparently, there are all kinds of people who feel the same way.) At the beginning of each year, I make a teacher survival kit that includes all kinds of goodies. A few of them include - Orange slices: orange you glad for Fridays? – Stick of gum: to remind your students to STICK TO IT when things get tough - and hand soap: to remind you that I’m here if you need a hand.
  4. Teacher Appreciation Week (May, 2011) – As President of the PTA, it was my job to organize teacher appreciation week at the boy’s school. Did you hear me when I said, “You can NEVER be too nice to your child’s teacher?” Well, I meant it.
  5. What I Learned At The Funeral Home (June, 2009) – Ok. So if you’ve spent any amount of time around here, you know that I am different weird. When I mentioned to a funeral director friend that I have always wanted to watch an embalming, he told me he would call me sometime. I was shocked when he actually DID IT. Watching an embalming was, um, definitely a learning experience. (And according to my site stats there are lots of people out there who are just as crazy as I am!)
  6. The McFamily Christmas Letter (November, 2009) – I have searched for Family Christmas letters on more than one occasion because I am one of those people who write an annual family Christmas letter, but I try really hard to make them fun. The last thing I want to be is a Braggy McBraggerson.
  7. Really Cute Homemade Valentines (February, 2012) – I found a really cute Valentine idea online years ago. It looked complicated so I decided it would be too much work. The next year, I was determined to make them. They turned out really cute! If I can make them, YOU CAN TOO!
  8. Over My Dead Body (November, 2011) – One of my favorite posts of all time! In my quest to be organized to the very end, I have outlined plans for my funeral. Crazy? Yep! But since this post came in at number eight, that tells me that there are lots of people out there researching funeral planning. (Which also explains the casket in the post picture.)
  9. Bag Lady (February, 2011) – One of my best tips ever posted on the blawg. A great, compact way to store dozens of plastic grocery bags. I keep one under my kitchen sink. One under my seat in the car. And one in our camper. (What are you waiting for? Get over there and check it out!)
  10. McFamily Christmas Letter (December, 2011) – Oh look! It’s another Christmas letter post. And apparently a hot topic! Just in case you’re interested in family Christmas letter ideas, you can see most of them, here and this year’s letter, here.

 Most Commented Post of 2013

So, there you have it. My 2013 From Inmates To Playdates year in review.

Here’s to another year of excitement here at From Inmates To Playdates!

This Too Shall Pass. Or Not.

I’m thinking it may be time to throw in the towel on this-here blog. As much as I love this family-friendly – daily rambling about my faith, my family, and my love for the Saturn Sky – I think the time has come to put it to rest.

And write a medical blog instead.

This is no lie – and I wish that I had exact numbers here, because I would never want to be known as one who embellishes a story - but, I’d be willing to bet that out of the 189 days so far in 2013, at least 150 of them have been spent dealing with hospitals, Doctors, medicines, lymphoma, orthostatic hypotension, kidney stones, lithotripsy, ultrasound, X-rays, insurance billing, oncologists,  pre-authorizations, peeing problems, CT Scans, lungs, diagnosis, tests, procedures, PleurX drainage catheters, cardiologists, side effects, medical supplies, home health, urologists, neuropathy, diabetes, ureters, orange pee, surgery, urinary tract issues, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, narcotics, antibiotics, Toradol, dizziness, antibody treatments, scheduling, fevers, chills, or medical appointments.

Seriously, it has been one medical problem after another for my grandmother, my mother, and me.

And while my grandmother and mother are far worse off than I am, I am choosing to share only my medical drama because, well, that’s their business, and this is my blog.

You may recall – or probably not, Lord knows I ramble on about so much – that I had a kidney stone in March. The first pain hit my right kidney while I was sitting with my mom IN THE HOSPITAL. I ended up in Emergency Room of that same hospital a couple of hours after the onset, thinking I might die while I was there.

Mahogany casket, here I come!

I passed that stone the next day and prayed to the Good Lord that I would never have another one. It was my second stone in ten years, but unlike the pain of childbirth that everyone says you’ll forget (I wouldn’t know I had two C-sections!) the PAIN FROM A KIDNEY STONE is never ever forgotten. And the next time you’re all sitting around a table looking for a topic of deep discussion or entertaining conversation, have someone mention the words kidney and stone and I can almost guarantee if anyone there has had one, you can bank on hearing the words, worst, pain, I, ever, AND, had.

Have you heard the saying ”A healthy kidney is a happy kidney?”

Apparently my kidneys are neither.

Because LO and BEHOLD three short months later I found myself pacing the floor, holding my lower right back, same as I did three short months ago in Room 418 at Charleston Area Medical Center – General Division. I would try to describe the pain, but honestly, aside from A RAGING BULL COVERED IN SAND PAPER ROLLING AROUND IN YOUR LOWER BACK nothing comes to mind.

But wait, there’s more!

This time?

This time!

This time, I ended up going to the Emergency Room at Charleston Area Medical Center – Women & Children’s Division. I was in total and complete agony and again, crying like a crazed lunatic for the first thirty minutes or so. And then, just like magic, a full three minutes after the Toradol was injected into the IV, I was ready to run a marathon.

Or sleep like a baby.


I don’t know who invented the Toradol, but God bless ‘em because it is the MACK DADDY of kidney stone medications. I opted for the CT Scan this time because LET’S GET THIS THING A MOVIN. After the size and location of the stone were confirmed, I was given five (FIVE!) prescriptions and sent home with instructions to follow up with my Doctor.

As always seems to be the case with me, this thing wasn’t going without a fight. My Doctor called to inform me that the stone was stuck in my ureter, obstructing my bladder, and OH, let’s just do surgery this time. I could hardly contain myself. Surely I could pray this thing out of me. After all, the thought of a perfect stranger exploring the business end of things while I am drugged up and OUT OF IT on a cold operating room table doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. But then, neither does painful pressure of “my parts” before, during and after peeing. Not to mention the CONSTANT URGE I felt even when I was only good for three or four drops.

Let’s see.

An exploration.

Or a urination aggravation.

Stay Tuned….

I think we’ll call this The McMedical Mini-Series.

Searching For Something?

Y’all know that I can relate to the crazy. Some of these people though? They take crazy to a whole ‘nother level.

Have a look for yourself….

La Fayette, Georgia arrived on “What I Learned at the Funeral Home — From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for live embalming process.

  • Hey La Fayette, I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. I have no idea why you’d be looking for “live embalming process” unless you’re as crazy as I am. I had the opportunity to watch an embalming, and I can tell you that it is not for just anybody. If you have a weak stomach, gag easily, or just plain don’t like blood and gore, a live embalming is probably not for you. Me though? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, as a matter of fact, I am a crazy person.

Schenectady, New York arrived from on “Bus Trip Games — From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for game ideas for bus trips for quilters.

  • Well hello Schenectady quilting club! I can’t think of any other time a quilting club showed up on my doorstep. Anytime I go on a bus trip with my gal pals from church, I’m in charge of games. I think I’ve posted quite a few so hopefully you found some fun games to help you out. Oh, and on a side note, my fellas and I visited Schenectady this past summer. I don’t think I could ever live there because I can’t pronounce it (or spell it for that matter!), but I appreciate you stopping by and do hope you’ll come again soon!

Excelsior, Minnesota arrived from on “50 Things I Will Never Do — From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for 50 Things I’ll Never Do.

  • Welcome Excelsior! If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to never ever say NEVER. You really don’t know what you might do until you get there. But that’s just me. Thanks for stopping in!

Mission Viejo, California arrived from on “Really Cute Homemade Valentines — From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for valentine inmate.

  • Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo, I need you to listen very carefully. RUN RUN RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. The last thing you need is a man who is stuck in jail. Go find you a good man who is FREE AS A FRIGGIN’ BIRD to take you to dinner and a movie on the weekends. Trust me when I say, very few of them are innocent. You’re welcome!

Tucson, Arizona arrived from on From Inmates to Playdates by searching for intimates to playdates.

  • Tucson, you little rascal. This is a family blog. I do not talk about intimate topics here, but I appreciate you stopping in to find out for yourself.

Norfolk, Virginia arrived from on “Fashion – From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for cyber predators.

  • Norfolk, how are you? Um, why the heck are you searching for cyber predators, and what makes you think you’ll find any info about them, here? This is a family blog where I talk about motherhood, PTA, Shemar Moore, our hamsters, and The Saturn Sky. No predators discussed here. Like I said, “whole ‘nother level!”

Orland Park, Illinois arrived from on “Inmates Embalming, and Minding Your Own Business – From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for inmate blogger.

  • Hi there Orland Park! I am a blogger who worked in jail before becoming a stay-at-home-mom. These days, though? I am just a stay-at-home-mom who rarely stays at home with a blog. Sorry to disappoint, but you should find lots of crazy jailhouse stories if you stick around here long enough. Thanks for taking the time to look around.

Des Moines, Iowa arrived from on “What I Learned at The Funeral Home – From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for mortician wire jaw shut.

  • Des Moines, you have found your people! I too, was understandably concerned when I discovered that during the embalming process your mouth is wired shut for all of eternity. In case you didn’t know, eternity is a L-O-N-G time, and I can barely stand the thought of it. When I watched my mortician friend (Bryan) embalm a body, I asked him not to wire me completely shut, and I am trusting that he will honor that request because OH THE HORROR.  Anyway, I hope you found what you were looking for! If you have any other embalming questions, I’d be glad to answer them.

Chesapeake, Virginia arrived from on “Thursday Thirteen – 13 Vehicles we’ve Owned – From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for bell biv devoe back in the day.

  • Hi there neighbor! Before I get started, I have to ask this… do folks from other areas ask if you live in Western Virginia? It amazes me at the number of people who have no idea West Virginia is a state. And on the off-chance that you are reading here today and are finding out this information for the first time well, SHAME ON YOU. West Virginia is not the same as Western Virginia! Now, as far as the Bell Biv Devoe back in the day thing, can I just say, I love Bell Biv Devoe! They sing one of McDaddy’s favorite songs. Perhaps you’ve heard the one that goes, ”Never trust a big butt and smile, that girl is poison!” And yes, you can take that advice to the bank. You’re welcome!

Columbus, Ohio arrived from on “Who Do We Have Here? From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for Amish ear candles.

  • Hi there, Columbus! Let me save you some time and money and tell you that regardless of their claims, Amish Ear Candles do not work. They are neat and you can hear stuff poppin’ and crackin’ in your ear, but really, it’s nothing more than a crazy person holding a paper plate with a candle sticking in their ear. Actually just looking at the picture cracks me up, because HELLO, WELCOME TO MY CRAZY! (Oh , and in an unrelated note, McDaddy never passes up an opportunity to sing about the Witch Doctor anytime he hears someone talking about them.)

Claremont, California arrived from on “Along Came a Spider – From Inmates to Playdates” by searching for black licorice spider.

  • How’s it going, Claremont? I do not like spiders. Well, unless they are made out of Oreos and M&Ms. That is all.

I’d love to hear where you came from today?

At The First Sign Of Trouble

On a terribly boring day, I sit here, laptop in hand (or on my lap, as it were) attempting to come up with something thought provoking or amusing to write about. On a good day, I come here already knowing what it is I’m going to blog about and sit here with my fingers on the keyboard waiting for the post to pretty much write itself. And on a really good day, I get here, get my laptop turned on, go to the internet, click on my blog, finally arrive on my dashboard (where I write blog posts before publishing) and I done went and forgot what in the heck I had planned to write about.

Getting old stinks.

Excuse me while I go drink my Ensure.

And before you go and get your panties in an uproar, you should know that I don’t normally go around saying stuff like “done went and forgot”. I just like to shake things up here on the blog from time to time.

For the past month or so, I’ve been experiencing some lightheadedness. Or dizziness as it is also called.

When I google lightheadedness or visit DiagnoseMe dot com, I find all sorts of symptoms and causes and oh my word would somebody please remind McDaddy that I’ve outlined instructions for my funeral here on the blog on the off chance that this is it.

What? You don’t visit DiagnoseMe dot com?

I can’t say that I blame you, because the first thing any medical professional will tell you when something is wrong is to stay off of the internet. Though, had I listened and never visited a medical site, how else do you think I might have learned about Pott’s puffy tumor?

So, for me, visiting Dr. Interneticus is generally what I do at the first sign of trouble.

It all started the day of Christina’s card addressing party. One minute, I was sitting there stuffing some 200 Christmas cards, laughing, eating, and sharing my Facebook Yardsale success story, and the next minute I was in the bathroom trying to make for sure that I wouldn’t hit my head on the sink if I passed out on the toilet. 

True Story.

I quickly packed my things and came home to lay down because I was sure I was about to pass the heck out, and the last thing I wanted to do was add a head injury to my medical history. Or my obitiuary. The lightheadedness was pretty serious for about three days, and then it eased up some. Several weeks later, it is much better but still rears it ugly head from time to time.

Rears it ugly head! I crack myself up. 

When I put the words lightheadedness and dizziness into the search box on the medical site (which is admittedly no substitute for a visit with a quailified, licensed health care professional) , I am presented with several possible reasons for my newest diagnosis.

The first possibility is sinus trouble.

I am a nose-blower. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. My nose is a hot mess. Still, my nose has been that way for 38 years and it’s doubtful that it is the source of my dizzy spells. The site suggests the use of a neti-pot to ease sinus pressure and trouble, and I do have one, but Dr. Travis Stork (The Doctors) mentioned that neti-pots are killing people because bacteria grows in the pot, and then people pour the bacteria straight into their noses, and yada yada yada, that just doesn’t appeal to me, so I vowed never to use the neti pot again.

Wonder if I could sell the thing on the Facebook yardsale site?

The next possible source of the lightheadedness/dizzy spells is inner ear trouble.


I am the poster child for inner ear mess.

You may recall I was diagnosed a year or so ago with eczema of the inner ear. Folks, you talk about a great big case of aggravation. Eczema of the inner ear is it. I am forever digging, scratching, or applying my “special salve” as McDaddy calls it to my inner ear with a Q-tip. So, it is totally possible that eczema of the inner ear is the culprit of the dizzy spells. And yes, I am well aware I should not be sticking a Q-tip in my ear, however, the ear/nose/throat specialist I went to suggested a Q-tip is the best way to get the suave way back into the inner ear to ease the itch.


You can imagine the dilemma with my ear.

When I finally got in to see my medical Doctor’s partner, he did several tests. The first test was to determine if I had suffered a stroke. I’m guessing the fact that I have high blood pressure, coupled with the revelation that I have been taking 320 miligrams of blood pressure medicine instead of the prescribed 160 miligrams might have thrown up a caution flag, because overmedicating is also a symptom of lightheadedness.

Don’t even ask how this happened.

The truth is I have no idea.

The only thing I know is that I WAS WELL AWARE I was taking 320 miligrams. And the Cigna pharmacy home delivery people were well aware because they were sending it. The two medical professionals in charge of prescribing the medication, however? Neither of them could figure out how/when/or why I was on the larger dosage. The even funnier part of this story is that when I receive my medications, I pour them all into one bottle because one bottle takes up less room than three. One of the bottles I threw away was the bottle for the 320 mg blood pressure pill.

It’s a miracle of sorts that I’m even alive.

My Doctor advised against this practice and strongly suggested I keep all medicines in the appropriate container for the life of the prescription.

Next up was an EKG.

An EKG that appeared to be abnormal until he asked if I had a bundle branch blockage.

You may or may not remember that I had an EKG about a year ago when I was having serious issues with my blood and its pressure. As a result, I discovered that I have a right bundle branch blockage in my heart. [Try saying that fast three times.] And apparently I should have had a complete cardiac evaluation after that discovery. Instead, I had nothing.


I was referred to a cardiologist for a complete evaluation, which may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with my dizzy spells.

The cardiologist called yesterday to remind me of an appointment today at 10:00 AM. The only problem is I make popcorn at the boy’s school every Thursday. When I called to reschedule, the receptionist totally understood the importance of the popcorn mom at a school and gladly rescheduled my appointment for three weeks.

With a little luck my heart will hold up that long.

Especially now that I’m taking the right dosage of blood pressure medication.

And drinking my Ensure.

Have a great Friday, y’all.


I came *this close* to titling this post, Popping Corn and Popping Pills because I knew the search engines would send a lot of crazy people searching for ‘popping pills’ my way.

Then I thought better of it.

Saturday Evening Post

I don’t usually post on the weekends, but writing a post sounded like more fun than finishing up my laundry, so just for fun, I thought I’d write a really long run-on sentence share some facts about this here blog.

For starters, I giggled when I typed this post title.

I love writing fun games! This post is the one most visited by Google visitors and gets at least two or three hits each day.

Searching for information on kisses, this post was the one most recently visited (thirty-three minutes ago) by a random person on Google.

Nederland, Texas is the home of the last reader that visited From Inmates To Playdates. And while we’re talking about Playdates, you’d be shocked at the number of people who show up here searching for ‘From Inmates To Playmates’.

I am always shocked when someone out there searches for the information included in this post. It also happens to be one of my favorites.

If this post doesn’t prove I’m crazy, I don’t know which one does.

Hoping to be ever mindful of the thousands of families dealing with this beast, I read this post often myself.

As of 10:51 PM EST, I’ve had 165,406 visitors to this blog. Folks, that is A LOT of crazy people.

One of my most controversial posts was this one. Not sure how there is SO much information out there I know NOTHING about.

And finally, one of MY MOST FAVORITE posts of all time. I’m hoping to have a follow-up post called HOW I ROLL very soon.