RT

RT

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mercedes Benz Factory Tour Date

Good Sunday afternoon!

Once again, there are NO new Gallery Pics. I'll be adding new photos bright and early Monday morning.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Worship was very, very good this morning. A young couple from our church adopted two little boys from Uganda. We've been following their story, and we were able to meet the little guys in person today. This mother and dad already have three little girls, so their family has changed dramatically... and obviously for the better.

I cannot wait to watch these little ones grow up in our church as I pass them in the hallways on Sundays and Wednesdays.

RANDOMNESS #2 - As much as I love Yucatan Trading and the Butt Naked Candle, I have trouble remembering their hours of operation. If I am out and about on Highway 280 in the morning, it never fails I get there BEFORE 10:00 a.m. They weren't open the Sunday I stopped by either. However, Roxie and I left the house after checking the hours yesterday and they were OPEN!

We walked into the "candle room," and I instructed her to look for the ever-elusive Butt Naked Candle. No luck.

"I am NOT believing this!" I muttered.

A sweet lady who works there came into the room. "Can I help you?" she asked.

"Are you out of Butt Naked Candles again?" I asked.

"Oh, no. The girl who makes them changed the name."

"What do you mean she changed the name? Why would she change the name?"

"She does that from time to time. We don't ask."

Okay. There were Butt Naked Candles, but they had a new name. Only one question remained.

"What do you call them now?" I asked.

"Naked as a Jay Bird," she replied.

"Of course you do. Do you have two of them?"

"Why, yes. Yes, I do."

So instead of delivering a Butt Naked Candle to Mandi (who won the last contest), I will be delivering a Naked as a Jay Bird Candle... which smells exactly like the Butt Naked Candle. Divine. Simply divine.

Blog Linkage - I only have three links for you to check out today. Enjoy!

1. Go to www.designdazzle.blogspot.com and scroll down to the post entitled "Summer Camp Link Up Party" dated July 21 for tons of great summer ideas for you and your kids. I love this link.

2. Click on Nitty.Gritty. under My Blog List and scroll down to "The number of her days..." dated July 28. This is the tenth anniversary of Jody's loss, and this post is very sweet and poignant.

3. While you are visiting Nitty.Gritty., read "Three thousand, six hundred, fifty days..." dated July 29, 2011. Again, it is about the tragedy which struck their family ten years ago to the day and how they have coped. It is a must-read.

Mercedes-Benz Date

Experience the star-studded history of Mercedes-Benz, the world's premier automobile manufacturer. The story is chronicled in the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center, the first of its kind outside Germany.

Factory Tours are available by reservation. Please call in advance. (Tuesday and Thursday only at 9:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 12:45 p.m.) The tour fee is $5 per guest.

The address and contact number for Mercedes-Benz Factory Tours is listed below:

Mercedes Benz Factory Tours
1 Mercedes Drive
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35490
205-507-2252
888-286-8762

I haven't been on the tour, but again, it is one of those things I would have tried when the kids were younger. Be sure to take your date to a fun place for lunch after the tour. TALK on way to the plant. TALK at lunch. TALK on your way home.

And have a really good time!

Have a relaxing Sunday afternoon! I'll be back in the morning with Mindless Monday, and the beginning of a very structured week on A Simple Life (I hope, I hope).

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back-to-School Traditions

Good Saturday morning!

Since today is not a "normal" blogging day, I will not be posting pics in the Gallery. New photos will appear (as if by magic) first thing Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Fun fact for you... I am a Reality TV nut. Everything from Amazing Race and Survivor to 19 Kids & Counting... and all the crazy shows in between. I'll check out most reality television shows at least once.

Mikie called me into the den to see a commercial this morning. From the makers of Deadliest Catch (a very EXCITING reality television show, by the way), Whisker Wars is making it's way to prime time. Really? Whisker Wars? Really? Men with four foot frizzy beards talking about conditioner... for their face.

I will probably pass.

Who am I kidding? I've already set my DVR to record it... over and over and over again.

I smell an Emmy!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I was sitting in a doctor's office this week and I came across three HomeLife Magazines. It has been years since I thumbed through a HomeLife Magazine. I was very impressed with the new layout and everything this publication has to offer. I am becoming a new subscriber this week!

I especially loved an article on the last page by Ivey Harrington Beckman entitled "A Fresh Take on Faith and Family." I'm going to share an excerpt with you today...

"Take a moment to look at the door that your family uses to enter your home. Think of the many people who pass through it: your spouse and children, extended family, friends, people in need -- maybe even angels unaware. When others enter your home, especially your spouse and children, are you extending grace, acceptance and hospitality? Are you embracing opportunities to make them feel truly at home in the spirit of the God who welcomes everyone with open arms? I'm not talking about extravagant gestures, but genuine expressions that communicate "I'm so glad you're here!" It can be as simple as hanging up the phone and giving your weary spouse your full attention when he walks through the door -- along with a big hug. It can be as basic as sharing a hot cup of coffee with someone who needs to know how much you and God care. Or it can be as whimsical as a song you sing for your little one when she returns home from kindergarten.

"The door to your home is the everyday pathway to fresh takes on faith and family. So snap a picture of your family in front of your door this week. Put the photo on your fridge as a reminder that every day is filled with God-given opportunities to reach out, touch someone and make a difference."

Ahhh. Words to live by. Better than that... Simple words to live by!

Wednesday Wisdom - I don't even want to know what James Dobson thinks about reality television because I'm pretty sure we wouldn't agree. Actually, I think we would totally agree, but I would have to cut my reality television habit in half to feel better about myself. So I still don't want to know.

I've posted a couple of "family" quotes from Dr. Dobson today. (I totally agree with his thoughts on family and stress.)

"Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built."

"What is the biggest obstacle facing the family right now? It is over-commitment; time pressure. There is nothing that will destroy family life more insidiously than hectic schedules and busy lives, where spouses are too exhausted to communicate, too worn out to have sex, too fatigued to talk to the kids. That frantic lifestyle is just as destructive as one involving outbroken sin. If Satan can't make you sin, he'll make you busy, and that's just about the same thing."

That last quote hit me in the face... and the heart. "Busyness" is something I fight on a daily basis.

Back-to-School Traditions

One of my favorite scrapbookers, Ali Edwards, has a blog. And on her blog, she lists some fun back-to-school traditions. I thought I'd share these ideas with you today since "back-to-school" is literally around the corner!

1. Twelve Days Before Kindergarten - Have the kids hang their new backpack on their bedroom door 12 days before the first day of school. Each day put a little surprise in their backpack. It can be a picture book or supplies that are needed for school. (I thought this was a great way to get the kids excited about the first day of school. You could also put new "first day of school" clothing items in the backpack.)

2. Take a photo of your children on the first day of school, and then again on the last day of school... in the same outfit. You can celebrate how much they have grown in one year.

3. On the evening before school starts, host on your front lawn a neighborhood "YOU-SCREAM-WE-ALL-SCREAM-FOR-ICE-CREAM" Back-to-School Social. Supply the vanilla ice cream, bowls, spoons, napkins and have everyone else bring their favorite topping.

4. Gather as a family before bedtime and talk about the upcoming school year. Have the kids write down their personal goals (at least one, but no more than three) that they would like to accomplish in that year. Written on simple 3" x 5" cards, these personal goals were always confidential and sealed in an envelope only to be opened at the end of the school year. Follow up by a prayer and blessing.

Pretty good stuff, huh?

Have a great Saturday. I'm off to do housework... and take a picture of the Faulkner Five standing at my front door! They will be thrilled, I am sure.

I'll have Blog Linkage and a Date posted after church tomorrow. Come visit if you have a chance.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekend Happenings and Houseboating 101

Good Friday morning!

I'm finishing the week with two more pics from our Houseboating Adventure in the Gallery. As always, explanations are under the photos.

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - Please remember I will be posting this Saturday AND Sunday. This is an unprecedented event! Wednesday Wisdom and Seasonal Traditions will be posted this SATURDAY, JULY 30. Blog Linkage and Dates will be posted this SUNDAY, JULY 31. After this weekend, A Simple Life will be back on schedule which, for some reason, is VERY important to me.

ANOTHER REMINDER! ANOTHER REMINDER! - I will be posting a new Picture of the Day today, Saturday and Sunday. This year is almost finished! Can I do it? I think I can. I think I can.

Day Four - Housboating on Lake Lanier (Pros and Cons)

Okay. To finish our week of houseboating posts, I'm going to list the pros and cons, prices and websites, etc., etc. Are you ready? Have you got a pen and paper handy? Okay. Here we go.

Pros

1. Our experience was TOTALLY relaxing. I used the word "adventure" a good deal throughout the posts, but this vacation was anything but exciting. And that was okay. If your family enjoys water activities, fishing, picnics, late night movies, etc., this is the vacation for you.

2. Although we intend to go to Lake Lanier again next year, there are MANY lakes with houseboating opportunities. The websites are below. The possibilities are endless. You could go to a different lake every year if you wanted to explore.

3. Port Royale at Lake Lanier was brand-spanking new and beautifully designed. The staff was young (college-aged), but well-trained, courteous and polite. We couldn't have asked for better staff to answer our questions and help us on our first houseboating outing.

4. Although the houseboats were older, they were SUPER clean. Port Royale had bought the houseboats two months prior, and they are planning on completely re-doing the interiors this winter. Next summer, we expect the houseboats to be SUPER clean and much more updated.

5. We loved we were only 12 minutes from a town. We turned right on the main road and drove right into Gainesville. We didn't get lost. We didn't get confused. It was a very easy drive.

6. We loved we had cell service anywhere on the lake or on the shore when we beached the boat. We could call anyone at anytime or vice versa. We never felt isolated from family or the Port if we needed to ask a question.

7. We packed ALL of our clothes (for five people) in one large suitcase. We lived out of the one suitcase.

We packed four food boxes and one large cooler. We went home with two food boxes and one almost empty cooler.

We packed two toiletry boxes which we placed on the bathroom floor. When someone was finished using something (deodorant, toothpaste, hair dryer, etc.), they just placed it back into the box. On the last day, we put lids on the two toiletry boxes and they were ready to go.

8. No one ever said they were bored on the trip. I think if we had stayed longer, we might have encountered that word from at least one of our kiddos. Mikie and I both agreed going into town one night for dinner and a movie kept things interesting, too. It was a nice little break.

Cons

1. Although our houseboat "slept ten," we all agreed ten people would have been pushing the limit as far as "moving around" space was concerned.

2. In my mind, our kids were the perfect age for the houseboat. I would have been nervous taking young children on the water for that length of time and keeping up with them... especially during the night. Although the doors had locks, they were easy to open.

3. If you are a camper, the close quarters and the RV toilets will not be a problem for you. If you have never camped and never used an RV toilet, I suggest you try both before going out on the water for several days in a houseboat.

4. While a three-night, four-day stay may not seem like a very long vacation, we all agreed it was the perfect amount of time for our family. Every family is different. You might need a little less time, or you might do well with a little more time. It's your call.

Cost

This vacation was a little more expensive than we usually take for the amount of time. Depending on the size of the houseboat you rent and where you rent from, the prices will vary.

Also, gas is not included in the price of the rental. Gas in Georgia for the houseboat AND the jet ski was over $4 a gallon. The price could be lower or higher next summer. Who knows.

We used less than a half a tank of gas during our stay. We used a tank and a half on the jet ski for the one-day rental.

Since two out of three of our kids are working, we let them all help with the jet ski rental. We think it is good for them to know how much "life" costs... and the best way to teach that lesson is to let them pay for things now and again. It really makes them appreciate things more. (Kind of like chore lists!)

Websites

I went to www.houseboating.org and used their website information to book our trip to Lake Lanier. There may be similar or better websites, but this one worked great for our first experience.

To specifically check out Port Royale at Lake Lanier, go to www.bestinboating.com and click on Port Royale.

Questions and Answers

Question - When you say you had a "perfect" vacation, do you really mean "perfect?"

Answer - Mikie is 50. Austin is 20. Josh is 17, and Roxie is 14. I am a 49 year-old menopausal nightmare. When I use the word "perfect," I mean we did not ONCE try to kill one another. We're a family like any other. We had a few skirmishes, but for the most part, we did very well in our close quarters.

Question - You keep saying "RV toilet." What does that mean?

Answer - The toilet is regular-sized. However, you have to use the toilet paper the houseboat provides (1-ply), and you have to add water before you flush. (We used a plastic coffee cup to pour water into the toilet prior to flushing.) It is not gross or dirty or too little. You just have to do a little more work flushing than you would your normal household toilet.

Question - You never mentioned a dishwasher.

Answer - That's because we didn't have a dishwasher. Unless you call Mikie a dishwasher... and I wouldn't recommend doing that to his face.

Question - Is there comfortable seating for four or five adults to sit down and watch a movie together?

Answer - The couch seats three comfortably. There were two padded bar chairs and plenty of white plastic "outside" chairs. We were comfortable, and we took turns sitting in the bar chairs and the "outside" chairs.

Question - You said there wasn't a lot of water pressure. Did your hair look bad?

Answer - The one time I actually fixed my hair, it looked fine. Am I one of those people who doesn't care about water pressure? No. I LOVE water pressure, but the lack thereof didn't present a problem.

Question - Would you recommend vacationing with another family on the houseboat?

Answer - I would recommend vacationing with another family if they RENTED their own houseboat. That would be so much fun!

If you have any other questions regarding the above, feel free to drop me an e-mail, or try to leave a Comment if you have Google Account.

Weekend Happenings

We have a crazy, "nothing special" kind of weekend ahead of us. Anything could happen... and probably will.

Roxie is going to a church painting party tonight, so we'll have a new masterpiece hanging in our home tomorrow.

The guys have cut grass ALL week, so their weekend does not include any kind of yard work. They are thrilled... as they put on their "Johnny Cash-type" uniforms to go to work at the Chick.

I'm hoping Sunday is a family dinner kind of day. We'll see. We'll see.

I hope you and yours have a fun summer weekend. It is hard to believe summer is almost over. Make these last few days count!

Take care, and I'll talk to you TOMORROW.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Houseboating 101

Good Thursday morning!

Day Three of our Houseboating Adventure fills the Gallery today. I told you I had a ton of pictures. And lucky for you, I'm only sharing one-fourth of them!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - As I told you yesterday, Wednesday Wisdom and Seasonal Traditions will be posted this SATURDAY, JULY 30. And Blog Linkage and Dates will be posted this SUNDAY, JULY 31. This is totally unheard of around these parts, but it will get A Simple Life back on schedule which, for some reason, is VERY important to me.

Day Three - Houseboating on Lake Lanier

The Top Ten List seems to be working for my brain this week. I'm thinking about everything in terms of Top Ten Lists... Top Ten Things I Want to Accomplish Before School Starts, Top Ten Chores I Need to Finish Within the Hour, Top Ten Reasons I NEED Another Pedicure (Even Though My Current Pedicure is Still Beautiful), and so on, and so on.

So...

1. After our "houseboat boy" drove us out of the marina, we decided to explore Lake Lanier for about an hour. I think it would take days and days to go around the entire lake in a houseboat, but we liked what we saw. Beauty abounds at this Georgia lake.

2. We were all in "chill" mode, so the little ride was enjoyable. Mikie stopped the houseboat in the "middle," and Roxie and Josh jumped off for a little swim. However, for some reason the current was incredibly strong our third day. Roxie held on to the ladder, and when Josh swam out to retrieve a noodle, we were all surprised how far away he was when he turned around to swim back to the boat. Very strong current. Mikie made a captain-like decision to find a cove to see if we would be able to play in the water without being carried a mile or so down river... or down lake? Which is correct?

3. We found a perfect little cove with three or four empty beaches... and no current. We decided to beach the boat for a little while and just swim in the peaceful water. A better decision has yet to be made. Our private little beach and beautiful swimming hole was perfect... for the entire day.

4. Ducks and ducklings were everywhere we went on Lake Lanier, and this little spot was no exception. A mother and her ducklings spent the day with us, and when it looked like they might leave, we quickly and shamelessly fed (Code for BRIBED) them to stay.

5. While the kids napped, sunned and read during a two-hour period in the afternoon, Mikie and I floated in the amazingly clear, cool water until we were "pruney." It was wonderful. (Not the "pruney" part. The two hours alone "talking, floating and talking some more" part.)

6. Again, dinner was an easy meal. I made Bear Creek Vegetable Beef soup and we ate on the front of the boat with the lake as our scenic backdrop. Lovely.

7. Since our "spot" was so pretty, I asked Roxie if she was up for a photo-op. After a few minutes of hesitation because she wasn't sure she wanted to spend the time getting dolled up, she decided it would be a good idea. Our picture-taking time was fun and she was happy with the results... so I was happy with the results!

8. It was getting close to dusk, so Mikie and Austin tried their hands at fishing. There are no pictures of this activity because Austin decided to fish in his pajama pants... and that's all. I'm telling you, if the Faulkner Five were ever shipwrecked on a REAL deserted island, I don't think grooming would ever enter our heads. EVER!

9. As usual, Mikie caught four fish... and Austin caught nothing, but the laid-back vibe of the trip continued and Austin shrugged his shoulders and said, "Oh, well," before heading back to the boat for a little television time.

10. A thunder/lightning storm made it's way around the lake which was beautiful to see, but it never rained or came to our little part of the world. Although we had cloudy weather off and on, we were very fortunate weather-wise. (If and when a storm does come up, the marina advises all boats to dock.)

Okay. That's Day Three summed up in a neat little list. A more boring list you will probably never read. I am wishing I was on that little island again as I type the post this morning. But, alas. It will be 359 more days until we see Lake Lanier again. Heavy, heavy sigh.

Have a wonderful, wonderful Thursday. I'll be back tomorrow with pros, cons, costs, etc. for you to plan your own Houseboating Adventure if you feel so inclined. I'll also have Weekend Happenings and a few Reminders.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Houseboating 101

Good Wednesday AFTERNOON!

I have a few more Gallery Pics from our Houseboating Adventure today.

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - Since this week has been so CRAZY, I'm going to post Wednesday Wisdom and Seasonal Traditions Saturday morning. That way, we won't be too behind.

Also, I will have to say yesterday and today have been incredibly busy. That is why the posts have been so late. I hope to have a morning post tomorrow... but I am NOT promising!

Day Two - Houseboating on Lake Lanier

1. We rented a jet ski from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday (our second day on the lake). The rental of the jet ski was "extra." At least one of the Faulkner Five stayed on the jet ski every minute of the eight hours we had it. However, when we go back next year, I think we'll rent it for a half day our second day and a half day our third day. If Mikie and I hadn't taken the last 90 minutes of the rental time, it would have been wasted. Eight hours of solid jet skiing wears five bodies out!

2. Although only one of us had every driven a jet ski before, it was beyond easy... even for me. You had to be 21 years-old to drive the jet ski OUT of the marina, but only 16 years-old to drive it around the lake. Since you also had to be 21 to drive the houseboat, Mikie had to stay on the boat, and Austin and I went to pick up the jet ski. It was amazing how fast I picked it up, I tell you. And if Austin tells you he has whiplash... Well, he's just a big fat liar!

3. Since the lake is SO big and none of us were familiar with the water, Mikie and I made a rule for the person or persons on the jet ski to NOT go behind any islands. In theory, that should have been enough of a rule to keep everyone in our sight while they were out for their turn. However, after five minutes went by without sight nor sound from Josh, I began to have a "mother come-apart."

"Go find him," I instructed the Cap'n.

"Belinda. I don't need to move the boat, AND he could be four miles away from us by now. I would never be able to find him using the houseboat." Fun fact for you... Houseboats are S-L-O-W!

In the real world, Mikie was correct. In "Hysterical Mother" world, not so much. However, we decided to wait. And we waited... and we waited... and we waited. I felt sure we waited for 23 minutes, but Mikie insisted it was more like 90 seconds. Josh had followed the rules and not gone behind any islands. However, because of the massive size of the lake, just going straight out from the houseboat at 45 mph made him just a spot on the horizon in less than 30 seconds.

Since tragedy had been averted, we made a new rule. Whoever rode the jet ski had to be able to see US. The Mister Twain. Houseboat Number 8. After that rule was established and set in stone, we had a good ol' time.

4. On our second day, I planned on all of us going into town for dinner and a movie. Although Lake Lanier is 39 minutes north of Atlanta, it is only 15 minutes from downtown Gainesville. Our only prerequisite for a vacation meal was something "local." When we asked our "houseboat boy," Zac, if he had any suggestions, he quickly said, "O'Charleys. I LOVE O'Charleys." We smiled and nodded politely, but we did NOT go to his chain restaurant suggestion.

5. We did go to a local pizza joint in Gainesville called Atlas. It was small, fun and really, really good. While we waited on our pizzas and calzones, we played darts and shot pool. The service was great. The atmosphere was fun. The food was delicious. Although the restaurant served alcohol, it didn't have a bar or loud music, and there were several families there with small children. It was a nice family joint. (And we took home LOTS of leftovers.)

6. We also asked our "houseboat boy," Zac, about the movie theater in Gainesville. He described it as a little "shady." He said there was a much better movie theater in Dawsonville which was over 30 minutes away. We didn't want to go 30 minutes away. And since we are regulars at the Dollar Theater across town, we knew the Gainesville Theater couldn't be any "shadier" than the one we always attend.

Imagine our surprise and delight when we walked into a huge, nice, clean and very "un-shady" theater in Gainesville. We later learned Zac had a brother who installed home theaters. He was accustomed to the best of the best when it came to movie-going... in his very own home! He might have been a little prejudiced.

7. We docked the boat at the pier, and since we knew we would be so late coming in from town, we told the rental people we would just sleep at the dock the second night. That worked out great because we hooked up to their power and water (meaning we didn't use any of the gas for our generator OR clean water out of our tanks). We saved a little money the second night!

8. We discovered there was much more movement when the boat was docked at the pier than beached on an island. Enough movement to rock us back and forth, back and forth, until we were sleeping like babies.

9. At 9:00 a.m. the next morning, our "houseboat boy," Zac, returned to take us out of the marina, and we began our third and final full day on the water.

10. Fun fact for you... Although the people "teach" you how to drive and beach the houseboat, they do not let you bring it in OR out of the marina. Trained staff takes care of that little task for you.

In fact, if you get within a certain distance from the port, a little motorboat comes out to the houseboat. A "houseboat boy" hops off and tries to take you back to the dock. It doesn't matter if you're swimming or fishing or just reading a book. If the back door ain't locked, a young man in a Hawaiian shirt will come in and try to take over your boat.

We learned that the hard way.

I'll have another Top Ten List tomorrow. I know you can hardly wait.

I hope you had a great Wednesday. I had an appointment this morning, and then went to Roxie's Volleyball Camp... which ended with a Volleyball Tournament... which resulted in the Junior Varsity girls being named CHAMPIONS! That's right.

So after we left the tournament, we went to eat lunch with some other chicks, and I got in around 4:00 p.m. Long, but productive day.

Take care, and I'll be back in the morning. (I'm not going anywhere!)

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Ever-So-Late Belinda

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stone Fruit Preserves and Houseboating 101

Good Tuesday EVENING!

When I said I would be posting by 2:30 p.m., I had no idea it would actually be 6:30 p.m. Long day, but as promised here is Tuesday's post!

The Gallery Pics continue the theme of Houseboating on Lake Lanier. Explanations can be found under each picture.

I've decided the best way to tell about our Houseboating Adventure is to use the old Top Ten List. If I type everything that is in my mind about the trip, I'm afraid it will come out a rambling mess... unlike everything else I put on the blog.

Day One - Houseboating on Lake Lanier (Top Ten List)

1. After becoming acquainted with our boat, and Zac (our houseboat boy) giving Mikie driving instructions, we were on the lake (on our own) by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. That means we had four or five hours of good playing time. Swimming, sliding, hot tubbing, diving, tanning, etc. It was lovely.

2. Because I knew I wouldn't want to cook a big meal our first night there, I ended up fixing a Stouffer's Lasagna with garlic toast and sweet tea. It was filling, and it definitely hit the spot. I started cooking the lasagna about an hour before we "beached" the houseboat. I also brought a cake pan full of yellow cupcakes and two different kinds of icing... already made. That dessert lasted about two days, and everyone was happy. (Not an easy accomplishment.)

3. I was mistaken when I thought we would just drop anchor in the middle of the lake each night. Houseboats are too big, heavy and cumbersome to anchor. Zac (our houseboat boy) taught Mikie how to "beach" the boat. It entailed finding a beach area (of which there were many), and driving the boat directly onto the sand. Austin and Josh were ready and waiting as soon as we "hit" shore to jump off and tie the boat securely to two different trees on the beach. It was easy breezy. Even for beginners like us. (We noticed another beached houseboat nearby. The people on that boat had brought horseshoes and were playing a game. There were also fire pits on every beach. Next year we are bringing horseshoes, matches and s'mores fixins'.)

4. There was a gas grill on the front of the boat, so we could easily have had grilled chicken, hamburgers or hot dogs one night. (Again, live and learn. We'll do that next year.)

5. There were three dining areas on the boat. One on the upper deck; one on the front of the boat; and one inside by the kitchen. For convenience sake, we didn't carry food to the upper deck, but we ate lunch and dinner on the front deck and breakfast inside. And guess what? We didn't use any bug spray and NO ONE was bitten by a bug. It could have been our odor, but we prefer to think it was just another part of a pretty perfect vacation.

6. We decided our first night would be our Faulkner Family Movie Night, and we watched one of our own DVDs. There was a microwave for popcorn, but we were still stuffed from lasagna and cupcakes, so we saved it for another time.

7. When we went to bed, everyone was worn out. We thought the boat would have more movement than it did, but it was very subtle and everyone slept very comfortably that first night.

8. We packed pretty light. Everyone's clothes fit in one large suitcase. JUST ONE! We each had an ironed short outfit for the ride to the houseboat, and an ironed short outfit for our second night "out on the town." Everything else could be categorized as "ultra" casual clothing. (Bathing suits, t-shirts, gym shorts, etc.) If you wore something twice (or even thrice), you were my favorite Faulkner that day!

9. Although the rental place provided life jackets, we had brought our own knowing they fit us perfectly. We also brought three noodles and two blow-up rafts from the Dollar Store. The water at Lake Lanier is extremely clear and clean, but also extremely deep. Life jackets and floatation devices were a must... not an option (even for semi-adult people).

10. It was a near-perfect first day. All three kids liked it. Mikie liked it. I liked it. It was almost too good to be true. We had planned on the second day being our "jet ski" day. Roxie was the only member of the Faulkner Five who knew how to ride/drive a jet ski, but I had a feeling everyone was going to enjoy that activity, too.

Tune in tomorrow, for the Top Ten List for Day Two - Houseboating on Lake Lanier.

Stone Fruit Preserves

I found this recipe in my new Southern Living Magazine. I have NEVER attempted preserves, jams or jellies. NEVER. But what the heck! Let's try something new together.

You will need the following:

4 1/2 cups peeled and diced peaches (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin

1. Stir together all ingredients in a 4-quart microwave safe glass bowl.

2. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes (mixture will boil).

3. Stir mixture and microwave at HIGH 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. (You are going for the consistency of pancake syrup here. The mixture will thicken to soft-set preserves after it cools and chills.)

4. Cool mixture completely (about 2 hours).

5. Serve immediately, or cover and chill preserves in an airtight container until ready to serve. store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

I have two observations regarding this recipe.

1. I think I can actually make preserves now. I am excited!

2. I really like the word "pectin." I always have for some reason, and this week when I make my homemade preserves, I'll be able to use it over and over again.

I hope you had a wonderful Tuesday. I'll be back after 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. I have another early morning task I must complete, but I really will be back around 2:00 this time. No, really. I promise! (And I am SO SORRY about today's late post. You have no idea!)

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow afternoon.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Ever-Apologetic Belinda

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mindless Monday and Houseboating 101

Good Monday morning!

I've been gone for a few days, so it feels good to return to the normalcy that is "the blog."

The Gallery Pics for the next few days will be from our Lake Lanier Houseboating Adventure. We had a wonderful time (all five of us), and I'll be sharing some houseboating tips for those of you who may be wanting to try this kind of trip with your own family. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday's posts will be full of pros (and a few cons) of our trip. We learned as we went along, but we all want to go back next year.

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - Remember... If you need anything from the 650 or so posts on A Simple Life (located at the FIRST address), I haven't been able to move everything to one spot... yet! I'm still working on it. You can still log on to that first blog by going to www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com.

You'll be the first to know when the move takes place. I promise.

RANDOMNESS - I still love the website www.1000awsomethings.com. It makes you open your eyes and actually look for the LITTLE things that bring a smile to your face. Here are a few more awesome things to think about today.

448. The smell and feel of bedsheets that dried in the sun. (Love this one!)

447. Walking into a crowded party and locking eyes with someone you know across the room.

446. When your plugged up nostril just suddenly opens up with no warning.

445. Pulling a weed and getting all the roots with it.

444. Driving over a small hill in your car. (Love that feeling when your stomach jumps a little.)

443. Looking up while underwater.

442. Figuring out how we got on this topic.

441. The point on a road trip when you’re really far from where you started and really far from where you’re going.

440. Correctly guessing an old password you haven’t used in a while. (Eureka!)

438. Your "Almost Name."

437. Seeing a plane from another plane.

436. When the subway doors stop right in front of you. (I don't know about this one personally, but it sounds good to me.)

Day One - Houseboating Adventure on Lake Lanier

Today, I have given you specifics about the houseboat itself using the pictures below.

On Tuesday, I will give you more details, PLUS a story about our adventure.

Wednesday morning, I will give you the final details (including cost, pros and cons, etc.)... and one or two more stories. Pictures will be plentiful the next three days, I promise.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me OR Facebook me. Some of you with Google Accounts will be able to leave a comment. I'll answer or respond to any comments.

Have a wonderful Monday. Summer is quickly winding down, so I am in panic mode trying to squeeze in every bit of "summerness" I possibly can before the school year begins. Wish me luck!

I'll be back Tuesday morning with a recipe, Randomness, houseboat pics and tips and more, more, more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Good SATURDAY morning!

The Gallery Pics are from Day One of our Lake Lanier Houseboat Vacation. I'll be adding new pictures Monday through Wednesday or Thursday from the rest of the trip. I have too many to post in one day... finally!

We had a very good time, and I'll be sharing details (pros and cons), as well as a few stories as we get back in the swing of things on A Simple Life next week. ALL of the kids want to go back next year, so all in all I consider the trip a huge success. However, there are some things which need tweaking.

There will be plenty of time for all of this beginning first thing Monday morning.

Weekend Happenings

We arrived home from Georgia around 2:30 p.m. Friday... and everyone except Mikie had plans for the evening. Austin and Melia had a date. Josh spent some time with friends. And Roxie and I had an annual Cousin Girls' Night Out scheduled at Amy and Monica's house. (Barbecue, swimming and Pictionary... a very enjoyable evening.)

Don't feel too badly for Mikie. I think he had a lovely evening relaxing in his recliner holding the remote and napping. (It was a much needed quiet evening after spending the week playing "Cap'n Mikie.")

We heard through the grapevine our area of the world had a little rain this past week. (No rain in Georgia, by the way. Thank goodness.) That means today is a grass-cutting kind of day for all three of the guys. Vacation is officially OVER.

Sunday is going to be a particularly busy day for Josh and Roxie. Other than attending church, Josh will be heading to Six Flags for the day with his Chick-Fil-A team. He is ready to ride as many roller coasters as he possibly can... and I'm glad I will not be standing in long lines in Georgia shoulder-to-shoulder with other sweaty parents and kids. So glad.

Roxie and her volleyball teammates begin Camp tomorrow. She is ready to get on the court and start practicing for the upcoming season. And if Roxie is happy... Well, you all know how that sentence ends.

Mikie and I are planning on a low-key Sunday afternoon and/or evening date. We haven't decided on exactly what we'll be doing... just that we will be doing something together and by ourselves. No teenagers or twenty-somethings allowed! (That sounded a little harsh, didn't it? Almost like we needed some time away from our offspring. Yep. That's how I meant for it to sound.)

That's it in a super simple nutshell for the Faulkner Five. I hope y'all have a wonderful summer weekend with your family and friends. I'll be back Monday morning with more pics and some details from our vacation.

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics tell part of our weekend story. As I predicted, it was a Work Weekend, but everyone did a great job. Lots of yard cutting, Chick shifts, dog washing, furniture moving. You name a job, a Faulkner did it this weekend.

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - I’m taking a much needed blogging break. I’ll be back Saturday morning, July 23, so don’t think anything is wrong. My mind is just a little fried, and I need to take a few days to get a fresh perspective.

RANDOMNESS #1 - In other news, our houseboat trip is looming in the not-so-distant future. I’m thinking we should definitely name our vessel. Something fitting. Something unique. Something totally “ME.”

I’m thinking “Fred.”

I’ll wait until I actually stand on the deck before I decide though. I’m taking a bottle of Sparkling White Grape Juice to christen the vessel. That should be fun. And maybe, just maybe, we won’t be fined for breaking a glass bottle on the side of the boat on the lake.

I’ve picked out my “going on shore” outfit for our one night out on the town, and it is pretty cute. And I’ve decided that my nickname while on the boat will be “Skippy,” and not “Mom,” “Enchanting” or “Babe.” I’m going totally nautical.

I’m also planning on getting some air on the jet ski. It will probably be a complete accident, but I’m pretty sure I can do it.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I don’t know if you are officially counting down the days until I am 50 years of age. Perhaps you have your own life! However, the time is fast approaching. Only 40 more days to be exact.

It is a very daunting number… and a very daunting decade. If I think about it too long, I ultimately have the beginning of a migraine.

I take care of the migraine with a Mountain Dew and a migraine tablet. These two things combined take care of the impending headache, but usually make me very jittery, and I tend to start rambling.

The rambling usually causes the glazed-over eyes of my kids or anyone else who might be in the vicinity when I start thinking about turning 50... get a migraine headache… and medicate myself with tons of caffeine.

Fifty is going to be a really good year. I can already tell. I have such a good attitude about it, and all. Just saying.

Have a memorable Monday. I’ll be back Saturday morning with Weekend Happenings, photos galore and a fresh view of all things “simple.”

Take care, and I’ll talk to you in a few days.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda (a/k/a Skippy)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

I have Good News/Bad News in the Gallery Department today. Are you ready? (I always want the Bad News first... and then I hope the Good News will fix it. Sometimes I am sorely disappointed.)

Bad News - The Gallery is lacking today. I know that. I am so sorry the Faulkner Five are SO un-photogenic this week. So, so sorry.

Good News - The next two weeks of Gallery pics should be awesome. I mean really, really awesome... and very plentiful. And that's all I'm going to say about that!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - I'll be taking a few days off next week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, to be exact. But I will most definitely post MONDAY and FRIDAY, so be sure to visit if you get a chance.

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Big Gold Van has been in the shop this week. I have missed her. I have had to drive whatever vehicle has been parked in the driveway for errands and such. Thankfully, the boys' work/social schedules have not overlapped very much, and I haven't lost too much road time.

However, driving around in Josh's smaller car has made me painfully aware of how much I like to be UP and LOOKING DOWN on other vehicles when I drive. I like it a lot. When it is time for the Big Gold Van to go to Big Gold Van Heaven (which, let's face it, could be any time now), I know I'm still going to want a vehicle with some height.

A three-bedroom RV or an 18-wheeler cab comes to mind.

I mentioned this to Mikie (again), but he just shook his head and walked away. I think he wants to buy me a moped, which will be fine for tooting around the neighborhood. But he and I both know, in the end, I'll probably end up getting a newer model Big Gold Van! That would make me very happy.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I found the following in my blog travels this morning, and I totally related to some of the things listed. See what you think.

Ten Ways to Know Summer Has Gone on Too Long
By Cheryl Moeller

1. You let the kids play with the water hose... in the living room.

2. Mom and dad are doing full-out cannon ball dives at the community swimming pool. That is, until they are asked to leave.

3. Bedtime is now 7:30 sharp... in the morning.

4. You roasted s'mores with the kids over an open fire last night... right after the marshmallow caught fire on your stove top.

5. You make truckloads of lemonade for dinner... using the water from the fire hydrant.

6. You call your friends and tell them you're calling from seaside at Martha's Vineyard. Actually you're sitting in a very small plastic wading pool.

7. You contact Carnival Cruise Line on-line and ask if they will sell your family one-way tickets.

8. You tell your husband you're having "shrimp on the barbie" for supper. This is your way of telling your husband your five year-old daughter left her favorite doll on the gas grill.

9. You call your favorite baby-sitter and insist tonight she read a story and make macaroni and cheese... for you.

10. Mom finally takes a nap, and doesn't even notice she's under the sprinkler.

Weekend Happenings

We'll be working this weekend. Working at the Chick (Austin and Josh), cutting yards (Mikie & Sons), washing vehicles (everyone), washing dogs (Roxie), doing laundry (GUESS!), cooking, etc., etc., etc.

Not exciting, but definitely needed. Of course, there will be some fun thrown in here and there for good measure.

All work and no play makes the Faulkner Five exceedingly grumpy.

Have a lovely weekend. I hope all your plans come to fruition (good word). I'll be back bright and early Monday morning with Mindless Monday.

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Bama Belle Date

Good Thursday morning!

I have added some flower shots to the Gallery this morning. These flowers do not belong to me. You can tell because they are living, thriving plants. They belong to my friend, Dee, who has a very green thumb. In comparison, my thumb must be black.

RANDOMNESS - As I've ranted and raved all summer long... this summer has been different. So different, in fact, Mikie came up with a new tradition to start with our two guys. Of course, he's trespassing in my territory, but it was a good idea so I didn't disregard it. And I'm giving him all the credit, because I always say I will do that... and he will tell everyone if I don't.

He suggested Austin and Josh start going on an annual "Bro"cation every summer. (Get it? "Bro"cation instead of Vacation. The name was my idea.) Just the two of them. Austin is 20 and Josh is almost 18, so a trip like this would be fun. Or so we thought.

"Have an adventure! Go somewhere different. Do something you've never done before (that the parental units approve of). Have a great, great time!"

The boys just looked as us blankly.

"You want us to leave?" Austin asked. "I haven't been home that long, and I have to report to Band Camp on the 12th."

"No. We don't WANT you to leave. We're giving you this opportunity to start a life-long tradition with your brother. No matter where life takes you, you'll always have your summer 'Bro'cation to look forward to being together."

"Where would we stay?" Josh asked. They were NOT understanding this concept at all.

"In a hotel. Mom and I will pay for a two-night stay at a VERY reasonably-priced hotel."

"Oh. Austin, do you want to go to the La Quinta for a couple of days?"

"Yeah. That sounds great. We can order in pizza every night."

Heavy silence in the room. (For those of you not familiar with our area, La Quinta is less than five minutes from our house.)

"Guys. Listen. The hotel isn't the adventure! What you do outside the hotel is the adventure!"

Heavy silence in the room.

"Well, we need to think about where we want to go. We can't decide right now."

"I agree," Mike said, sounding relieved. They were getting it!

That was four days ago. They still haven't decided where to go. And whenever they walk past me or Mikie, we're almost sure they are mumbling "La Quinta! La Quinta!" with big smiles on their faces.

It's getting a little annoying.

Stay posted. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Blog Linkage - Okay. I used one of today's links for yesterday's post, but I'll put it up one more time in case you're just visiting today. I also have three more "go and see" websites for you to check out.

1. Go to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman under My Blog List and click on Confessions at the top of her page. Go to the July 11 post entitled "Summer Reunion." I used it as my Seasonal Tradition yesterday, and this post (with pics) is very motivating.

2. Go to Nesting Place under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Plastic Spoon Laurel Wreath" dated July 10, 2011. Is this not the cutest little wreath? And it looks easy, too. Who thinks of these things?

3. For a creamy, non-churning homemade ice cream recipe (S'mores), go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and visit today's post entitled "Please Welcome Our Guest." I've never made homemade ice cream without churning... and this looks delicious!

4. Go to Nitty.Gritty. under My Blog List and read Jody's post entitled "Summer Days" dated July 13. The ten-year anniversary of her tragedy is fast approaching, and this post on living life with grief is very eye-opening.

The Bama Belle Date

This is another date I haven't tried, but "back in the day" I would have been all over it.

The Bama Belle is a modern-day replica of the grand paddlewheel riverboats which graced the nation's river ways in the early 1900s. Today, you can experience the same magical, nostalgic celebration of the American spirit on The Bama Belle... Alabama's grand new attraction!

When I called to get prices and times for the riverboat cruise, the offices were not open, so I will continue to call until I get ALL of the info. As soon as I talk to a real person, I will be posting an update.

The address and phone number are below:

The Bama Belle
One Greensboro Avenue
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
205-339-1108

Oh. Plan on going to lunch or dinner with your little one at Mellow Mushroom after your cruise... only .4 miles from The Bama Belle. (I KNOW you'll like that part of your date!)

Have a tremendous Thursday! The weekend is right around the corner... which is a very good thing. I'll be back Friday with Weekend Happenings and a few announcements.

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friend Reunion

Good Wednesday morning!

Slim pickins' in the Gallery today. My camera will be hung around my neck all day in case I stumble upon something photo-worthy. (My neck will be killing me in the morning.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Today's post is completely and utterly inspired (copied, lifted, etc.) by The Pioneer Woman. Wednesday Wisdom AND the Seasonal Tradition come straight from her blog. I enjoyed them, so I assumed you would, too.

And I didn't take credit for them. No, sir. If anything, I would like for you to take some time every day to enjoy her blog and pictures... just as I do.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Yesterday, I shared some insights I have gained this summer from having practically grown and teenage children coming in and out of the house through an invisible revolving door.

I wrote about (Code for COMPLAINED ABOUT) how different things were this summer, and how difficult it was becoming to schedule family time with the ENTIRE family. Today, as promised, I will share two more Insights and two more Semi-Solutions I am working on as this is going to press!

It ain't easy, and take these comments for what they are worth... A self-described "preschool" Mom's attempt to SQUEEZE as much family time out of a quickly-emptying nest as possible.

Wish me luck!

Insight #5 - Not only do I want our family to stay close, but I really want the siblings to stay close as they enter adulthood... and beyond. All three of them are at such different stages in life. All three of them can easily become so wrapped up in what is happening in their own little world, it would be easy (and normal) for them to forget "the other guy."

Semi-Solution - If only two of the kids are home during the lunch hour, I either suggest they go out to eat together OR I make sure they eat lunch at the kitchen table together. No texting. No earphones. Just the two of them... talking.

If only two of the kids are home after dinner, I suggest they go to a movie together. The best part of this plan is they usually call their two cousins and have them meet at the theater. Cousin Time!

You may think this sounds a little expensive, but everyone is working this summer, and everyone has their own stash. This is a time in their lives when they can afford a movie and popcorn with siblings and cousins at the spur of the moment. Not ten years down the road when they have a mortgage and three kiddos at home.

Insight #6 - I am not the only Mom who feels this sense of loss, or "What's next?" or "How do I slow this "time thing" down a little?" Nope. I am in very good company.

Semi-Solution - Spend time with a friend or friends who are going through the same stage of life you are. I did that for a little while yesterday, and while my kids didn't revert back to cute, chubby, freckle-faced little toddlers while I was at lunch, it was comforting to know I wasn't "THE ONLY ONE."

Wednesday Wisdom - These nuggets came straight from The Pioneer Woman's Twitter account. (No. I do not Twitter. However, The Pioneer Woman's Tweets show up on her sidebar.) Usually, the Tweets are pretty funny or informative. Today, they hit the nail on the head... for me.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Stretching feels so much better at 42 than it did at 24. It's almost medicinal. (This is SO true. Stretching is my favorite part of Body Pump. A good stretch can make me smile for almost 30 seconds straight.)

If food were people, my best friend would definitely be chuck roast. (My best friend would be the Great Wall of China Chocolate Cake from P. F. Chang's. Just saying.)

Friend Reunion

There are people who actually do this. After 20 years, I decided to start calling some of my old work buddies, and we have enjoyed several lunches together... and I hope we'll enjoy many more.

But The Pioneer Woman is consistent, and I like consistent even though it is a trait that slips through my fingers from time to time.

I also enjoy looking forward to a fun annual event.

Below is an excerpt from The Pioneer Woman's post dated July 12.

"Every summer, my closest, oldest friends descend on the ranch for a weekend of food, fun, and frivolity. And fellowship and Fritos and freedom.

"Girls come from far and wide – California, Wisconsin, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Washington – and it’s always so much fun when everyone arrives.

"If you have the occasion to get together with old friends, even if you haven’t seen them in years, can’t imagine you have anything in common and don’t think you have anything to talk about, give it a try. Twenty years passed after high school before my friends and I started getting together every summer.

"And now, not one of us can imagine how we ever lived without it."

It doesn't happen by itself. Someone has to be the first one to call, text, e-mail, Facebook, etc. But it is so worth the effort.

And it is something you could actually start TODAY!

Have a great Wednesday. I'll have a date and some Blog Linkage tomorrow morning. (No surprise there!)

Take care, and I'll talk to you bright and early Thursday.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

White Chocolate Pecan Pie

Good Tuesday morning!

The Gallery Pics are of Roxie AFTER Boot Camp. We did not go out of town for the day, but now I really wish we had. This chick is totally drained.

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - I know some of you are having trouble leaving a Comment. I've sent a formal question to my server, but as far as I can tell, you have to have a Google e-mail account or your own website. There doesn't appear to be a way to leave an "Anonymous" Comment. However, I have very limited knowledge about such things, so hopefully "The Powers That Be" will answer my very simple question.

(They did such a great job helping me post on my ORIGINAL blog address a few weeks ago! Remember?)

RANDOMNESS - Since I have now named this summer break "The Dislocated Summer of 2011," I will now share some of my insights about trying to spend family time with the following:

1. A husband who has a June 30 deadline each and every summer.

2. A 20 year-old son who has come home for the summer from college and works part-time at the Chick and cuts yards.

3. A 17 year-old son who is now a Senior in high school and works part-time at the Chick and cuts yards.

4. A 14 year-old daughter who is a Freshman in high school and is training for the Junior Varsity Volleyball and Basketball teams while attempting to stay as socially active as Paris Hilton... back in the day.

5. And me. A weary 49 year-old wife of one and mother of three who desperately longs for the days when the kids fussed about getting out of the pool, naps for the kiddos were the highlight of the day, the Summer Reading Program at the local library was a huge summertime hit and children ran through sprinklers in the evening and caught lightning bugs before coming inside to get ready for bed.

Insight #1 - Waking up LATE on a summer morning and wondering out loud, "I wonder what we'll do today," is no longer a reality. It is a thing of the past. Like the dinosaurs. It no longer exists at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842).

Semi-Solution - You must have a plan... written in ink... hanging in a prominent spot for all to see. You simply MUST! Write down all the things you want to do as a family unit. All of them. You will NOT check off everything on the list. It will not be possible. Heave a heavy sigh, and get to work!

Insight #2 - Work/athletic/social schedules between four adults rarely, if ever, coincide. (I didn't include myself in the mix because all I am trying to do this summer is coordinate. If I have anything on the calendar, it just makes things more difficult. I'll get my eyes checked and go to the dentist after school starts.)

Semi-Solution - Once you, the Mother Unit, have checked everyone's schedule for the day, if you see a two- or three-hour space where no plans have been made, make a Family Announcement. It should go something like this:

"Do not... I REPEAT... Do not make any plans between 7:32 and 9:34 tonight. We are going to watch a movie as a family. Everyone should report to the den by 7:30 p.m. No excuses!"

This may or may not work because if your guys have been working ALL day long, and they get invited to do something fun, you want them to be happy and enjoy time with their peers. Be prepared to be flexible.

Insight #3 - On the night you think no one is going to be home for dinner, put a large roast in the crockpot, prepare four side dishes and bake a dessert. Plans will be cancelled, sons will be sent home early from work and everyone will be walking through the door around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. wondering, "What's for dinner?"

Semi-Solution - This is a sure thing... like washing your car on a day when there is a 100 percent chance of NO RAIN.

Cook the roast! And if there is any time whatsoever left after dessert before everyone scatters again, play a game of Farkle. Do it, and do it fast!

Insight #4 - The perfect family vacation for five very different individuals with five very different interests and five very different personalities can be tricky at best. At worst, it can be a nightmare!

Semi-Solution - Immediately remove the word "perfect" from the phrase "perfect family vacation." Now you've got something to work with. Even if it is just a meal, make sure there is at least ONE event during the vacation everyone can look forward to. (Our "sure thing" is one movie/pizza night. It works at home, and it works on vacation.)

That's all I'll be sharing today. I'll post two more Insights, two more Semi-Solutions and a copy of The Faulkner Five Epic Summer 2011 List as a go-by tomorrow. Of course, if you have suggestions and/or ideas that work for you and yours, please, please share.

On to today's recipe!

White Chocolate Pecan Pie

Guess what? Today is National Pecan Pie Day. That's right. It's practically a law to eat a Pecan Pie today... or at least a piece.

I have previously posted my favorite Pecan Pie recipe on this blog. It is the Southern Living Pecan Pie, and Roxie and/or I make it on occasion. It is not difficult, and it is always delicious.

However, since today is a national holiday, I will add one more easy Pecan Pie recipe to the blog. The title says it all. The only ingredient that could possibly make a regular Pecan Pie better is chocolate! Am I right?

You will need the following:

1 pre-baked pie shell
2 cups pecans
2 ounces white chocolate
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dark Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate over pre-baked crust.

2. Whisk remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Pour over nuts and chocolate.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (until filling has set).

I'm going to give it a try today. I still have a little Pineapple Upside Down Cake left for dessert, but only two-fifths of the Faulkner Five are enjoying that experiment. I know at least three-fifths will try this new recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out.

NOTE - The recipe doesn't say how to prepare the 2 ounces of white chocolate, so I am going to attempt the recipe by using white chocolate chips. I know I can sprinkle those.

Have a lovely Tuesday. Tomorrow morning I'll be sharing Wednesday Wisdom, a really great Seasonal Tradition and this, that and the other. I hope you'll be able to stop by some time during your busy summer day.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

I've already been all the way down Highway 280 and back. I've already left the Big Gold Van at the mechanic's for a tune-up before we leave for our houseboat trip. I've already had breakfast, washed a load of clothes and said good-bye to The Boy as he heads to the Chick to feed the multitudes.

It is 10:00 a.m., and I am tired.

However, the blog must go on!

RANDOMNESS #1 - After a week of NO Body Pump and NO walking, I am starting back today at noon. I am nervous. It is unbelievable how easy it is for the body and mind to become accustomed to NOT exercising. I was very happy last week... but also more jiggly. It's a trade-off, I'm afraid.

This week, I will not be as jiggly, but I won't be as happy either. Heavy, heavy sigh.

And I know you are all wondering if I bought my new $213 workout shoes. No! But I'm hoping we have a different instructor just for today, and I'll have my new NOT $213 workout shoes by Wednesday. It's a goal!

RANDOMNESS #2 - In just a few days, we will be heading to Lake Lanier, Georgia to live on a houseboat. We are all SO excited. We have extremely high expectations, and who wouldn't? We have a jet ski all day Tuesday. We're going to dock and go into town Tuesday night for dinner and a movie. However, the rest of the time, we are going to be on the water. Totally, on the water.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the hot tub, the slide AND the jet ski. I've never been on a jet ski before, so I'm going to get to mark it off my list. The kids all have their list of things they are anticipating. Mikie can't wait to wake up extra early and walk on the back deck and fish, fish, fish. (I can't wait to hear about it!)

Oh. And it will be more than a little documented camera-wise. Me on a jet ski? With non-jiggly thighs? That's Christmas Card Gold, I tell you!

The Gallery Pics tell some of our weekend story. I'll fill you in on the rest as the week progresses.

I'll be back Tuesday with a recipe, Randomness and a few more pics. I have no plans to go down Highway 280 again this week. That being said, I'll probably go back every single day this week for some reason or other. Yuck.

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

I have no pictures of The Boy today. He got in after I had put my camera to bed. However, I did take a very nice photo of some hobos. Enjoy!

RANDOMNESS #1 - JOSH IS COMING HOME TONIGHT! I'm a little excited... and relieved... and ready. The two kids still left at home are slowly sucking the life out of me. Did I say slowly? I meant rapidly! If you are contemplating having two kids versus three kids, I highly recommend the number three. They kind of bounce off of each other before bothering (I mean, "coming to") the Mother Unit.

Three is a very good number, and tonight I will have my three again. YEA!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I saw Larry Crowne yesterday. I didn't wait on reviews, comments or suggestions. Roxie and a couple of chicks wanted to see Transformers 3 (2 hours and 30 minutes of clanking robots... not counting 30 minutes of previews).

In my heart of hearts, I know I would have enjoyed Transformers 3 very much, but the time commitment was so huge, I had to let it go. I mean, I don't drink anything during a regular-length movie so I can make it through without a bathroom break. I would have had to stop hydrating the night before to sit through a 3 hour movie. I'm not being negative. I know my kidneys!

However, as luck would have it, Larry Crowne was playing in the same theater, but it started 40 minutes after Transformers. PERFECT! Because, you see, Larry Crowne only lasted 1 hour and 39 minutes (with 30 minutes of previews). (Fun fact for you... I love previews almost as much as the movie itself. The more, the better.)

I went in after the girls were settled, and came out 20 minutes before they finished their movie.

Larry Crowne was very good. It was not a laugh out loud (LOL) kind of movie, but it was a story movie. Several times I found myself just sitting there with a smile on my face, which is almost as pleasant as going to a LOL kind of movie.

There were three or four "inappropriate for kiddo" scenes, and one curse word that came out of nowhere. It didn't fit with the situation. It didn't fit in the conversation. It didn't fit the character. It was blaring... which lets you know, Hollywood will do anything to push the limits as much as they possibly can whenever they possibly can.

It was a movie where you lived for the kiss at the end. I love movies where you live for the kiss at the end.

It was a kiss worth living for!

I think the reason I like Tom Hanks so much is because he looks "normal." He is charming, a great storyteller and a normal-looking guy. I like that in an actor!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Don't forget to check Belinda's Project Life under My Blog List. A picture a day for a whole year... and that year is winding down. It has gone by unbelievably fast. I'll be adding pics tonight, Saturday and Sunday.

Weekend Happenings

Tonight, Roxie, Mike and I are going to pick Josh up at the camp. They put on a big concert, and we get to bring him home after the entertainment. I will be taking pictures tonight, because those will be the only pictures taken from this week-long experience... since he lost my digital point-and-shoot camera during his LAST TRIP! (Still a little bitter. Can you tell?)

Austin is working at the Chick this weekend, and trying to get a date for a couple of his college buddies to visit in the next couple of weeks. That is always a fun time.

Mikie is finishing his work deadline this weekend if all goes as planned.

I am cooking, cleaning and hauling Roxie here and there. (And don't tell Roxie, but she's giving the beagles a bath this weekend. A much needed bath, I might add.)

I know what you're thinking. This is almost too much excitement to put in one post. Just seeing it in writing takes my breath away!

Actually, I'm just trying to get the Faulkner Five back in the same county at the same time. That's it. My only goal for the weekend.

I hope you have a great weekend, too. I'll be back Monday with camp pictures (Josh), Farkle pictures (me and Austin) and Roxie pictures (Roxie, Roxie, Roxie).

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Montgomery Date

Good Thursday morning!

I have more pics from the 4th of July in the Gallery today (if you can imagine). I'm taking some Austin pics today. (He's not going to like it, but he owes me. You know. Because he weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces when he was born... and then he went away to college and all. Yep. He owes me.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Josh has been gone since Monday. It is now Thursday. It is time for him to come home. Like TODAY! Like NOW! Austin and Roxie are trying to kill each other. The third kid acts as a buffer, and when the buffer is gone... Well, it ain't pretty.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Roxie thought today was her last day of Boot Camp. I knew she would be beyond tired when she climbed into the Big Gold Van, but I assumed there would be a smile upon her face because IT WAS OVER! I was wrong.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

And in a monotone, slurry, too-tired to enunciate voice, she said, "Since we didn't have Boot Camp Tuesday because of the 4th (HUGE PAUSE), we have to go back next Tuesday." Too tired to sigh, she just looked at me. "Can we please go out of town next Tuesday?"

Looking at her exhausted little body, I gave in. We're going out-of-town. All the way to Leeds. We'll be gone all day, so don't try to reach me on my cell phone because I'm pretty sure we don't have service in Leeds.

And if anyone wearing a Boot Camp t-shirt asks, we've been planning this "vacation" for months and months!

RANDOMNESS #3 - I have a huge desire to see the new Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts movie. HUGE! I love Tom Hanks, and while I haven't watched EVERY movie he's ever made, I do enjoy his romantic comedy work... especially with Meg Ryan. You've Got Mail is my all-time favorite movie! (I do not count Joe Versus the Volcano. I do not think anyone should count Joe Versus the Volcano as a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. It wasn't so much a movie, as just a big cinematic mistake. A mistake which I forgive them both for making.)

If any of you blog readers have already seen it, let me know what you thought. Is it worth $9.50. (Is any movie worth $9.50?)

I'm eagerly awaiting your input here, on Facebook or via e-mail. Thank you.

Blog Linkage - I have four links for you read today. One is NEW... and so very, very good. I think it is going to become one of my favorites.

1. Click on Nitty.Gritty. under My Blog List and read the post entitled "It's never the best photo" dated July 5. Jody talks about letting go of the idea of the "perfect" family photo... and really gives you something to think about in the process.

2. Click on eighteen25 under My Blog List and look at the post entitled "(Past Projects) Kid's Crafts." I love this post because it has craft ideas AND links to other blogs with craft ideas. I KNOW you can find something fun and doable for a rainy summer day in this post.

3. Click on Confessions of a Pioneer Woman under My Blog List. At the top of her page, click on Photography. Enjoy the post entitled "Your Fireworks Shots." There are some really beautiful photos.

4. Go to www.noahsdad.com and meet a precious little guy named Noah. Noah was born with Down's Syndrome, and his Dad posts a one-minute video EVERY DAY of this sweet boy. His Dad is showing other parents what it is like raising a child with special needs... and he's doing it in the MOST excellent way!

A Montgomery Date

The Montgomery-based MOOseum opened in 1995, and offers a fun and interactive way for people of all ages to learn about Alabama's beef cattle industry.

I have never been to the MOOseum, but it is definitely a place I would have visited if I had known of its existence when the kids were small. The following is a review written by a family from Texas:

"For a museum about cattle, this is definitely the best I have ever visited. (This is also the only one I have ever visited.)

"There are two main sections, a lobby and a store.

"One section (the History Room), is full of history, some artifacts and information about cattle. (The writing on the timeline could be in better shape. Some was illegible.)

"The other section (the Play Section), has a lot for the little ones to play with. It is also a great place for them to really learn about the cattle industry. Some highlights in this area were stepping on the scale to see how we measure up to cows, dressing up like cowboys and cowgirls, pretending to partake in a rodeo, learning all about ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) in the kitchen area and reading the little facts spread all over the place.

"The lobby has some informational packets to take with you.

"This little museum is what you make of it, and we had a ton of fun exploring, learning and playing." (I think this could be said about most things in life, don't you?)

After a quick telephone call, I also found some more pertinent information!

1. The MOOseum is FREE.

2. The Gift Shop has items for sale beginning at $.25 and going up to $12 for t-shirts. (They also have cowboy hats for sale starting at $25.)

3. You don't have to make a reservation, but it is relatively small, so if a tour is ongoing, you just have to blend in with the group.

4. The MOOseum is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. (They are closed for lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m.) The entire "tour" takes about 40 minutes.

5. The address, contact number and website for the MOOseum are below:

Cecilia McDaniel
The MOOseum Coordinator
201 South Bainbridge Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36102
334-265-1867
cmcdaniel@bamabeef.org

DON'T FORGET! DON'T FORGET! DON'T FORGET! - Since you are on your way to Montgomery, it would be a shame not to stop at Peach Park in Clanton on the way down or on the way back (OR BOTH) for homemade ice cream or barbecue. (Did you know they have great barbecue?) Just saying.

Have a tremendous Thursday. I'll be back in the morning with Weekend Happenings, Randomness and pictures... of something!

Take care, and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rainy Day Box

Good Wednesday morning!

I’ve added the rest of our 4th of July pics to the Gallery this morning. I’ll move on to a different “subject” tomorrow. I may check on the caterpillar tree to see if any progress has been made. (With my luck, the butterflies flew away… yesterday. We’ll see.

AND THE WINNER IS… MANDI ADAMS! That’s right. MANDI has won the second Butt Naked Candle Contest! I will be delivering her Butt Naked Candle to her home sometime this weekend. I may even take a picture of her accepting this AWESOME prize. You just never know.

Congratulations!

RANDOMNESS - I looked in my July 2009 Archives, and found this little nugget about Summer. In lieu of anything exciting to exaggerate about this morning, I thought I'd re-post. I do that from time to time. I forgot I wrote it, so I assume you forgot, too.

Well, we skipped through Spring, and now we find ourselves in the throes of Summer. Personally, I am no longer in the Summer is my Season of Life. However, it was an incredible season.

I married Mikie at 26 and had the kids at 29, 33 and 35. Starting my family at the beginning of Summer was definitely exciting and wonderful. However, as everyone knows, your Summer energy level is definitely not the same as your Spring energy level. At least it wasn't for me. By the time Roxie arrived, I could tell a HUGE difference in how I kept up with two little boys and a baby girl, and how someone ten years my junior did the exact same thing. (Code for THEY WEREN'T COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS, MINUTES AND SECONDS FOR NAP TIME EVERY DAY!)

As much as I love Autumn, I know in my heart of hearts Summer will always be the Season of Life I cherish and remember the most fondly. It's the season in which I was able to do what I think I was meant to do... become a wife and a mom (with much smaller kids, of course).

My Summer was exciting, exhausting, exhilarating and so much more fulfilling than my Spring. Now, if I could have gone through my Summer and kept my Spring body... that would have definitely been a plus. But, that's not how it works, is it? Well, not for me, anyway. (Add a note of bitterness to that last sentence.)

Looking back, I know how quickly Summer flew by. You hear it every day during a regular summer season. "Summer is so short." "Summer doesn't last as long as it should." "I didn't get everything done I wanted to this Summer."

It's just another reminder why "moments matter," and why time spent with the people you love is the MOST important time of all... no matter what Season of Life you are currently going through.

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3-4.

Wednesday Wisdom - During Sunday morning’s sermon, our pastor shared some quotes from this country’s Founding Fathers which were very moving. I thought I’d post a few of them this morning, plus a few others I found as well.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?" Thomas Jefferson

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religious, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.” Patrick Henry

We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.” James Madison

And although he wasn’t a Founding Father, I believe he knew what he was talking about when he said the following:

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under." Ronald Reagan

I often wonder what these men would think if they could read today's newspaper or watch a couple of hours of CNN News. I imagine there would be a great deal of sadness and disappointment in their hearts.

Rainy Day Box

I found this idea during my wanderings on the Internet… and I liked it.

The author suggested having the kids decorate a fairly large plastic box and lid. After the box is decorated, it is Mom’s job to fill it with books, craft projects, DVDs, books on tapes and a new game or two.

The next rainy summer day that comes around, you don’t have to be worried about entertaining little ones all day. Just pull out the Rainy Day Box and pick one or two things out during the day for the kids to enjoy.

I used to do this for the kids when they were sick. I kept a Sick Box filled with a new coloring books AND crayons. (New crayons ALWAYS make you feel better.) I also kept a few new books and a video or two the kids hadn’t watched for awhile.

But I like the Rainy Day Box idea, too.

I was window shopping at Homewood Toy and Hobby Shop recently, and I couldn’t help but notice what a unique variety of craft kits and toys they offer. They had kits I had never even thought of before. And they weren’t too pricey, either. Something totally different and unplanned for a rainy day would make it a very fun day, too. (I may make a Rainy Day Box just for ME!)

NOTE - Don’t forget to make a giant fort in the den with blankets, chairs, pillows and such for the book reading part of your Rainy Day Celebration. Reading in a fort is always more fun than reading on the couch. Just saying!

Have a fun Wednesday. Encourage someone today, by word or by deed. I’ll be back in the morning with Blog Linkage and a fun summer date.

Take care, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

THREE Slow Cooker Recipes

Good Tuesday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from yesterday's 4th of July festivities at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842). We didn't have fireworks, but because of several thunderstorms throughout the day, we did not feel like we were missing out on anything!

CONTEST! CONTEST! CONTEST! - Today is the LAST DAY to enter the Butt Naked Candle Contest. Leave your name in the Comment Section of the blog, on my Facebook page OR e-mail me at mfaulkner1306@charter.net. You have until midnight tonight, Tuesday, JULY 5!

The winner will be announced tomorrow morning, JULY 6. Don't forget! You know you want a Butt Naked Candle!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Our 4th was wet, but still very celebratory. Mikie was able to cook out before the first thunderstorm came through, so we feasted on hot dogs, hamburgers and sausage in our very cool dining room! (I mean "cool" in the literal sense. I really turned the air down!)

After a rip-roarin' game of Bunco with my sister's family, Grandmother and MamMa, we were ready for homemade ice cream. And for some unknown reason, 95 minutes later, it was ready! I am glad to report it was worth the wait.

We didn't have any pool time this year, which was a little disappointing to three out of the six cousins, but we still had a very good time.

I'm thinking we need to shake things up a little next year, so I'll be looking for a few new activities/games/etc. to try our next 4th of July holiday. (Tommy and Mikie are shaking in their flip flops as they read this!)

Tommy and Mikie (and Austin) put in their suggestion for a "Male Nap Time," but I quickly nixed that idea. When I think of the word "celebrate," the word "nap" doesn't normally pop up in the itinerary for the day. Now the day after... that's a good nap day!

RANDOMNESS #2 - For the first time ever in the history of 4th of July Celebrations, one of the cousins wasn't in attendance. Josh signed up for a week-long music camp (guitar) sponsored by the Methodist Church. When I first looked at the information, I noticed the camp started on the 4th, but I talked to someone who mentioned sign-in was in the afternoon. That was fine. No problem.

But as time drew nigh for this camp, I received e-mails that indicated sign-in was at 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the 4th. WHAT?

So Josh was excused from attending the holiday with much sadness, gnashing of teeth and moaning from the Mother Unit. But I wanted him to have a wonderful week at the camp, too, so there was minimal sadness, gnashing of teeth and moaning in front of him. (Most of it took place after he pulled out of the driveway!)

However, I do hope he's making many new friends and enjoying his time doing something he loves to do. (That's what a good Mother Unit would say, isn't it?)

THREE Slow Cooker Recipes

Today seems like a slow cooker kind of day, doesn't it? Well, as a little gift, I'm sharing THREE recipes for you to use this very day. Two are tried and true, and one is new to me, too.

Slow Cooker Lasagna (NEW TO ME, TOO!)

You will need the following:

12 lasagna noodles (uncooked)
1 pound ground beef (browned and drained)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup water
1 carton (16 ounces) cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese (grated)

1. Break noodles in half. Place half of the noodles in the bottom of a greased slow cooker.

2. Stir Italian seasoning into the meat, and spread half over the noodles already in slow cooker.

3. Then layer half of the sauce and water, half of cottage cheese and half of mozzarella cheese over beef.

4. Repeat layers.

5. Cover and cook on low heat 4 to 5 hours. DO NOT cook more than 5 hours.

Mama's Italian Chicken

You will need the following:

4 frozen chicken breast halves
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 can (14 ounces) chicken broth

1. Place chicken in greased slow cooker.

2. Sprinkle with salad dressing mix.

3. Pour chicken broth over the top.

4. Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours OR on low 8 to 10 hours.

Favorite Barbecue Chicken

You will need the following:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle (16 ounces) barbecue sauce

1. Place chicken in greased slow cooker.

2. Pour favorite barbecue sauce over the top.

3. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours OR on low 8 to 10 hours.

All three of these recipes came from my 101 Things To Do With a Slow Cooker cookbook... and as I mentioned the last two have been served at Faulkner Farms several times to rave reviews!

Enjoy!

Have a relaxing Tuesday. As I might have mentioned above, I have found the "day after a holiday" is usually a good nap day. (But I have yet to find a day that was NOT a good nap day!) Unfortunately, there is not a nap in my foreseeable future today. Heavy sigh! I'll have Wednesday Wisdom and a Seasonal Tradition first thing in the morning. Oh! And I'll be announcing the winner of the Butt Naked Candle Contest. Tomorrow will be a good day... for at least one person!

Take care, and I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - I still haven't moved all of my old posts to this new address. If you need to look up something from the original A Simple Life, go to www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com. I keep hoping something miraculous will happen and I'll be able to post using my old address... but it doesn't look like that is a realistic "hope." I'm going to work on moving everything this week.

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning, AND HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

The Gallery Pics tell the story of our weekend. There are no pictures of Roxie spending the night with the cousins at Grandmother's... or the Faulkner men heading out to see the new Transformers movie... or a myriad of other small events which made up our weekend. However, it's enough to get you started this busy holiday morn!

CONTEST! CONTEST! CONTEST! - Enter the Butt Naked Candle Contest today, JULY 4, by leaving your name in the Comment Section of the blog, on my Facebook page OR e-mail me at mfaulkner1306@charter.net. You have until midnight, Tuesday, JULY 5.

The winner will be announced Wednesday morning, JULY 6. Don't forget! You know you want a Butt Naked Candle!

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing a fantastic recipe, Randomness galore and pics from our family's 4th of July celebration. It will be a blog worth visiting, I tell you.

Take care, and have a happy and safe 4th. I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Highly-Patriotic Belinda

Friday, July 1, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from a day at the pool. There's nothing unusual about the photos... just the same things I've always seen at the pool. I'd miss them if they were gone, I think.

CONTEST! CONTEST! CONTEST! - Today's the day! Enter the Butt Naked Candle Contest beginning today, JULY 1, by leaving your name in the Comment Section of the blog, on my Facebook page OR e-mail me at mfaulkner1306@charter.net. You have until midnight, Tuesday, JULY 5.

The winner will be announced Wednesday morning, JULY 6. Don't forget!

RANDOMNESS - The Faulkner Five Epic Summer is so different from any summer we've ever experienced before. It's not bad. It is just totally here, there and everywhere.

For those of you not yet living with teenagers, I thought I'd take the time to post a "Top Ten List of Things You Do During the Summer When All of Your Kids are Teenagers or Young Adults." (I know. It's a ridiculously long title, but I'm working on less than six hours of sleep this morning. Work with me.)

10. You make lots and lots of plans to spend quality family time with your teenagers and young adult children. They, in turn, make lots and lots of plans to spend quality time with their friends. Although you have your plans written in ink hanging on the refrigerator for all to see, their plans are somewhere in cyberspace and they use words like "hang out" and "see you this afternoon" and "later." NOTHING has a specific time attached to it. NOTHING!

9. Because some or all of the teenagers and young adult children are working shift work, one or two will be leaving when one or two are coming home. You will immediately have to wash the uniform of the arriving worker, knowing you will have to do another load as soon as the other worker arrives home eight hours later.

8. Supper is always up in the air. Who will be sitting down at the table? Who will have already eaten? Who will be eating later? Rule of Thumb... The bigger the dinner you cook, the less likely anyone will be home to help you eat it. My Suggestion... Just bake a chocolate pie for supper. I know I'll enjoy that!

7. Because you never know who will need to get their car out of the driveway at any given time, only two cars can go into the driveway. All other vehicles have to park in front of the house. It looks messy, but there's no way around it... literally.

6. Teenagers and young adult children do NOT go to sleep before midnight if there are no specific plans the next day. It goes against everything in their being. They watch movies, wrestle, play X-Box, read and talk. Because of the energy and activity in the house between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and midnight, as a parent of teenagers and young adult children, you feel the need to participate in some of their late night activities. Last night, I played Farkle with The Boy at 11:45 p.m., and when I finished, I walked into my bedroom where Mikie and Roxie were watching ONE MORE episode of NCIS. Austin and Josh then watched a television show together before heading to bed around 1:00 a.m. Mikie and I went to bed, but Roxie was at the foot of our bed finishing her detective show until 12:35 a.m. (Mikie and I are NOT getting much sleep... and he is half a century old now... and I'm fast approaching that age, too.)

5. One of my teenagers isn't driving yet, but she is incredibly socially active. That means she still needs me, but only for my Big Gold Van. This doesn't hurt my feelings. I accept it and am thankful for the "need."

4. Teenagers and young adult children do not eat lunch during the summer. They have breakfast between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Thus, they want dinner around 5:00 p.m. If you haven't fixed anything by that time, they make other arrangements.

3. Teenagers and young adult children do not put on "real" clothes, shower or brush their teeth before noon if there are no specific plans for earlier in the day. I won't sugar-coat it. It is gross.

2. Teenagers and young adult children may not finish all of their chores before 4:00 p.m. (and that includes making their beds). It's okay though. I take what I can get.

1. Teenagers and young adult children do not like to play in sprinklers any longer. When they do, in fact, go outside, they are showered, dressed and holding car keys in their hands. The urge to run through a sprinkler is gone... and will not return until they are around 50 years of age. (I rarely pass up a sprinkler these days.)

These are the facts. They aren't meant to discourage you or warn you. It is what it is.

If you have little ones, enjoy your summer! And if you have teenagers and young adult children, go ahead! Enjoy your summer, too!

Weekend Happenings

It's the 4th of July, so holiday preparations will be made at some time during this weekend. EVERYONE is pitching in. EVERYONE doesn't know it yet, but I'm sending out a memo as soon as I finish posting. They'll be thrilled, I am sure.

Tonight, we're doing the drive-in thing with Roxie to watch Cars 2. I cannot wait! I haven't been to the drive-in this summer, and I love watching movies in the great outdoors.

Josh is working tonight and going to the movies tomorrow. Austin is going to the movies tonight and working tomorrow. (It's hard to get them on the same schedule lately.)

Sunday, Josh will be packing for a church camp his high school choir teacher recommended. He is VERY excited, and I'm happy for him. I'd be much happier if he had a point and shoot digital camera to take with him to document his week at this camp, but as we all remember, he LOST that camera on his last church trip this past week. (I know I still sound bitter. It may be because I am. I'm going to try to get over it in the next year or so.)

On Monday, we'll be celebrating the 4th of July at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842) AND Grandmother's birthday. Actually, her birthday is today, but she changed it a few years ago to coincide with our 4th of July celebration. Her theme is usually "Red, White and Blue." This year is no exception. Roxie and I are making a cupcake tree with red, white and blue decorated cupcakes, and we're going to use lit sparklers instead of candles when it's time to sing "Happy Birthday."

As is the norm, we'll try to spend a couple of hours at the pool, then head back to the house for homemade ice cream and a fast-paced game of Bunco! Good times. Good times.

I hope and pray you and yours enjoy your holiday weekend. The Faulkner Five will take time to thank God for the men and women (and their families) who have fought, and are still fighting, for the freedom we enjoy in this country. It is not to be taken lightly, or taken for granted.

Take care, and I'll talk to you Monday morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda
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