Judith

Judith

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

Good Tuesday morning!

Miscellaneous pics in the Gallery today. I just wanted to give you a head's up!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Guess what? I've waited until the last day of January to prepare my Paula Deen January Recipe. That's right. I'm shocked, too.

I left at 6:45 this morning and ran to the store to buy the ingredients which were missing from my pantry, and some time this glorious Tuesday, I will be attempting to make Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Cake "Benedict."

This recipe calls for a poached egg. I have never poached an egg. I have never even eaten a poached egg.

I like eggs. I like them scrambled, fried, hard boiled and over-easy. I guess because I like eggs served in the aforementioned styles, I've never felt the need to branch out to the "poached" version.

But all that changes today.

Yes. There will be pictures tomorrow.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I will also be unveiling the February Paula Deen Recipe tomorrow. The one that takes 25 hours of prep time. (I am NOT kidding!) The one that is listed as "moderate" in the difficulty rating.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew... literally!

RANDOMNESS #3 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - I tell you, I could write a book about this subject! Or a blog. Or a couple of paragraphs.

Driving - As most parents of teens, I dreaded the "learning how to drive" portion of this season of life.

As far as I was concerned, no one knew my teen as well as I did... and there was NO WAY that kid was ready to get behind the wheel of a car. NO WAY!

And yet, the 15th birthday and acquisition of the all-important "Learner's Permit" has come for all three of my teens. A rite of passage. A time of celebration in "Teen World."

A time of fear and trepidation for parents everywhere. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, one day you will, my friend. One day you will!)

Austin was a cautious driver. He was slow. He always had two hands on the wheel. They were white-knuckled, but they were both on the wheel at all times. He was law abiding.

He absolutely terrified me. Mikie was his "main" go-to parent for driving lessons... and that was fine with me.

Joshua was a confident driver. He did the speed limit or four miles above it. He had ONE hand on the wheel at all times. It was relaxed, fingers drumming, but it was on the wheel. He stopped before hitting the cars in front of him, but he wasn't in a big hurry to do so. His favorite phrase to use while I was in the car "teaching" him to drive was, "Relax, Mom. I've got this."

He absolutely terrified me. Mikie was his "main" go-to parent for driving lessons... and that was fine with me.

Roxie is an exuberant and eager driver. She wants to drive each and every day. She wants to drive everywhere we go. As I would have guessed having ridden with Roxie for 15 years in the passenger seat, she has a bit of road rage.

Too slow drivers, too fast drivers, too old drivers (50 and older), too swervy drivers, too cautious drivers... Well, let's just say they get on her very last nerve, and she likes to vocalize her feelings. A lot.

She absolutely terrifies me. Mikie is her "main" go-to parent for driving lessons... and that is fine with me.

As a woman who so wants the words "Utterly Awesome Mother of Teenagers" inscribed on her headstone, I do worry that because I was unable to teach any of my children to drive I will be disqualified from using the title.

I asked Roxie recently, "How does your Dad do when you drive?"

"Fine," she replied.

"I mean, does he ever yell or cover his face or pull his hair? Does he ever let a curse word slip? You can tell me. I won't tell a soul!"

"No. He's really laid back. I mean, if I surprise him, he might let out a little scream. But for the most part, he's a really good teacher."

"So he's a better teacher than me?" I finally just say the words out loud.

"Are you kidding? He is SO much better than you." And with those words ringing in my ears, I stop the inquisition. If I continue, it will only get worse.

Can someone legally have the words "Utterly Awesome Mother of Teenagers" on her headstone if she is absolutely the WORST driving teacher in the history of the world.

I'm going to have to make some phone calls today. I'll let you know the answer to that question tomorrow!

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

Okay. This recipe is from Pinterest... which was pinned by a girl who found it on a website... and the girl from the website found it on the Food Network website... and it is a Paula Deen recipe.

I made it EXACTLY like the Pinterest recipe, and it was very, very good.

You will need the following:

1 box Nilla Wafers
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
3 cups milk
2 small boxes instant French vanilla pudding
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 container Cool Whip, thawed

1. Line the bottom of a 13" x 9" dish with Nilla Wafers, and layer bananas on top.

2. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.

3. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.

4. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.

5. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.

6. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas, and cover with the remaining cookies.

7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Oh... my... goodness! It is so good, but very rich.

If it helps, try to remember this is basically a fruit dessert. Basically!

Have a wonderful Tuesday! I'll be back in the morning with Paula Deen recipe pictures, the February Paula Deen Recipe Reveal, Wednesday Wisdom and a Seasonal Tradition.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Remember... If you are unable to leave a comment on the blog (because you do not have a Google Account), leave a message on Facebook or via e-mail at mfaulkner1306@charter.net.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

Today's Mindless Monday is a little more mindless than usual. In other words, I'm a little muddled.

Tornadoes will do that to you. Even if you're not the one directly hit.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Bev and family have moved (and are getting settled) into a nice home ten minutes from their old home. It has a huge fenced-in backyard which is perfect for Rusty, or as I like to call him, Cujo. There is more than enough room for a family of five to live comfortably for a few months while new housing is being arranged. Although it has been a horrible experience, they have been blessed.

Tommy, my brother-in-law, left the following message on Facebook yesterday afternoon: "I saw Jesus today! Just like I have every day for the last four days in all of the people who have selflessly given of their time and energy to help my family and me in the aftermath of the tornado. We have been so blessed with a close family, REAL friends and a church family that lives what they believe. To all of you who have so generously given, and to those who may have wanted to but couldn't... thank you from the bottom of our hearts. GOD WILL BLESS YOU!!!"

It's true. In the middle of true destruction, God's love poured out.

Amazing!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - I told you I had learned many, many lessons over the last seven years of being a mother to teenagers. Some of the lessons have been funny... others painful. Many lessons have been too complicated for my simple brain. But the following lesson has almost brought me down on several occasions... because of my "planning" personality, you see.

Last Minute Plans - If you have known me two minutes, you know I am NOT a go-with-the-flow kind of chick. Go-with-the-flow absolutely flusters me to the point I cannot even enjoy the go-with-the-flow experience even if it is uber-fun and exciting.

I can never get past the part where the activity wasn't planned months in advance.

"Belinda. Would you like to go to lunch?" a friend will ask.

"Sure. Let me get my calendar. What day and time would you like to go?"

"Uh, I was going to pick you up in a couple of hours."

"Great. What day?" I continue to ask the pertinent questions.

"Today," my friend replies.

"Wow. Today?" I repeat to make sure I heard correctly.

"Yes. Have you got something else planned?" I have some good friends. They persist while others would probably have hung up three questions earlier.

Planned? Planned? Well, no I don't have anything planned. Tomorrow I have a dental appointment which has been planned for the past six months. Three days from now I have a breakfast date with Mikie which has been in the works five weeks. But today... Well, today I have nothing specific planned.

"I don't think I can get away today," I reply, slowly.

My friend, having known me for more than two minutes, comforts me in my time of "fluster."

"Okay. I know I sprung this on you at the last minute. I'll pick you up in two hours and 30 minutes, and we'll be gone 90 minutes. And we're going to eat at a place you like. I promise I'll give you more notice next time. Now will you PLEASE go to lunch with me?"

"Wow. This is all so sudden. But, yes. I will be happy to have lunch with you. Actually, I'm looking forward to it!" My friend knows this is not the case, but she is gracious and kind and still picks me up exactly two hours and 30 minutes later.

And we have a really good time... in spite of me!

The last minute plans of teenagers will be my final undoing, I'm afraid.

On Friday morning, I talk to or contact all three kids to ask about their weekend plans. MANY times, they answer with "I have nothing," or "I'm not sure yet."

Those two small sentences cause me great anguish. That means the weekend is totally left... UNPLANNED!

But I am forever hopeful. I plan and prepare a Friday night dinner (which can be refrigerated and saved for Saturday night... or Sunday lunch).

Roxie comes home. "I may or may not be meeting some friends tonight if it is okay with you and Dad."

"Who, when and where?" I ask.

"That's what I'm not sure of. I'll let you know when I get all the details."

Okay. That's LIMBO NO. 1.

Josh comes home. "I'm going to put in a couple of job applications and head to the strip mall to pick up (fill in the blank). I'll be home for dinner... I think."

Okay. That's LIMBO NO. 2.

Austin comes home. "I'm waiting to talk to Melia and then we'll nail down our plans. We may just stay over here and watch a movie, or we may go shopping or we may get a burger and go the movies. I just don't know yet."

Okay. That's LIMBO NO. 3.

All of these are fine. I want the kids to have friends and plans and weekend fun. I really, really do. That's what a mother of teenagers lives for... happy teens! It's our main goal because we know unhappy teens are hard to live with. Feel free to interchange the word "hard" in the last sentence with "impossible," "unbearable" and "miserable" as it relates to you and your teen(s).

As plans are being finalized, Mikie calls and asks, "What are we all doing tonight?"

I am unable to answer this question, and promise to call him as I learn more.

And this, my friends, is when I wish, wish, wish I was a go-with-the-flow Mother of Teenagers instead of an uber-structured Mother of Young Children... which do not exist any longer.

But God is doing a work in me... especially during the weekends of my life. The phrase, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," doesn't necessarily ring true in my situation.

At 50 years of age, I am learning new tricks. They are called "breathing techniques," "scripture memorization" and "Michael Buble CDs."

When I die, I want the following on my headstone...

"She was a fine Christian woman, an uber-fantastic wife and an UTTERLY AWESOME mother of teenagers!"

Because in the end, no one argues with a headstone!

Have a great Monday. I hope you have a truly blessed day. I'll be back tomorrow with a banana pudding recipe that is out of this world! I'm making my second one today. (The first one was gone in two days! Two days!)

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda and UTTERLY AWESOME Mother of Teenagers

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are action shots from last night's basketball game. We won, by the way! It was a good night.

RANDOMNESS #1 - Today is the deadline for turning in a Senior Quote and baby picture for Josh's High School Annual. These were some of Josh's favorites...

1. "Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, and I thought to myself, 'Where the heck is the ceiling?'"

2. "Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." Douglas Adams

3. "Everyone has photographic memory; some just don't have the film."

4. "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not." Mark Twain

5. "He who laughs last didn't get it."

6. "I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them." George Bush (Josh LOVES George Bush.)

I don't know what he'll choose, but I personally like Number 5!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Don't forget to watch The Pioneer Woman's new cooking show. It is on Food Network at 9:00 a.m. CST Saturday morning. Good stuff!

RANDOMNESS #3 - I visited my 2009 Archives and found this little bit of wisdom from January 27 of THAT year. Becky Freeman is one of my favorite Christian authors. She's funny and real... and I love the following:

Pint-Sized Psychology

No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.

If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.

Never ask your three year-old brother to hold a tomato.

You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

A pencil without an eraser may as well just be a pen.

Never hold a dustbuster and a cat at the same time.

Words to live by, Folks!

Weekend Happenings

I think our weekend will revolve around anything Bev and family need to finish the moving process. I am waiting for a call as I type, and we'll take it from there.

The kindness of Tommy and Beverly's church has been amazing, and the members of their Sunday School class have put hands and feet to their ministry.

These are some of the other unbelievably "good" things which have come about since Monday of this week...

1. A woman Beverly knows only as an acquaintance called Tuesday and GAVE them a car, complete with new tires, a fresh tune-up and cleaning. She brought it by Tuesday evening.

2. Brad has worked at the Trussville Chick-Fil-A for several years. Brad and family were given free Chick-Fil-A food when needed throughout this entire week.

3. Two of Bev's friends have dedicated their time this week to looking at rental houses. Not an easy task!

The list could go on and on.

The only thing CERTAIN on this weekend's list is a trip to the Dollar Movie tonight with Zac and cousins... a trip to Krispey Kreme AFTER the Dollar Movie... and homework. (Some things never change!)

I hope you and yours have a fabulous January weekend. Try to find some joy in each and every day. Write it down if you have to!

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thrift Store Date With Your Mate

Good Thursday morning!

The Gallery Pics are miscellaneous for sure. Tomorrow I hope to have some method to my madness... or maybe not!

RANDOMNESS #1 - If you've known me two minutes, you know I love all things Pioneer Woman. I love her recipes. I love her photography. I love her red hair. I love her cooking show.

And I love her twitters. (Is that right?)

The Enchanting Belinda does not twitter. The Enchanting Belinda does not expect to EVER twitter. However, The Enchanting Belinda DOES read the Pioneer Woman's twitters which are posted on the sidebar of her blog every day.

I loved this one.

"Sometimes when I'm hit with a sudden urge to rearrange furniture, I just part my hair on the other side instead. Much less danger of hernia."

Is it hard to see why I love her so? I know. She just makes sense!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - The list of "Things I've Learned" is growing, but my goal to post one a day has hit a brick wall.

I'll post them when I can. (All 132 of them!)

Teenager Facebook Etiquette - You might think a 50 year-old mother of three would not need to be schooled in Facebook etiquette. In fact, you might be under the impression that as the mother unit, I would be the one teaching the children about Facebook etiquette.

But you would be so wrong.

I am on Facebook to keep up with the kids. I openly admit it. Living in the advanced technical age of 2012 (and being severely technically-challenged), I use every tool at my disposal.

Facebook is a tool.

While I am "friends" with several of the kids' Facebook "friends," I was "asked" to be their friend. I did NOT ask them. Until one day...

I was reading Facebook, and "C," one of Roxie's friends, had posted something very amusing as her status. "C" and I weren't Facebook friends, but I wanted to respond by hitting the "Like" button... and I couldn't.

Without thinking about the aforementioned "DO-NOT-ASK-TO-BE-THEIR-FRIEND... WAIT-UNTIL-THEY-ASK-YOU" rule, I sent a Friend Request to "C."

She accepted immediately.

I hit the "Like" button under her status.

I heard feet running through the house. Fifteen year-old girl feet. Angry feet.

"Did you just ask 'C' to be your friend?" she asked, breathless.

"Yes. Oh, I forgot the rule. I'm sorry. But she accepted immediately, and all I did was hit the 'Like' button." I explained my action with a smile.

"The rule is there for a reason," Roxie explained. She leaned over me, hit a few keys and deleted "C" as my friend.

"How did you know we were friends? It happened 30 seconds ago!" I asked.

Everything was happening so fast. My head was spinning. I wanted to pick up a real telephone receiver and dial a real telephone... not a push button. I wanted a cord between the receiver and the actual phone. A short cord.

I didn't want it in the car with me. I didn't want it in the store with me. I didn't want it in my blue jean pocket. I wanted it attached to the wall.

And I wanted it to be light blue in color.

Roxie patted me on the shoulder, and turned to walk away. "She texted me," she said over her shoulder. "No harm done."

Wow. "C" had ratted me out. But she had accepted my Friend Request. I didn't know what to think.

And then, there was a flash on my computer screen. Someone had sent ME a Friend Request... and it was "C."

I accepted her friendship.

I heard feet running through the house. Fifteen year-old girl feet. I assumed they were once again "angry" feet.

"Okay. Did you get her Friend Request?" Roxie asked as she ran into my room.

"Yes," I answered slowly.

"Okay. Did you accept it?" she asked as she leaned over my shoulder.

"Yes." I had no idea what was going on.

"All right. You're all set. Now remember. Do NOT talk to them. You can press the 'Like' button, but only for really good things. Not every time they change their status. You can answer direct questions to you. And never, ever send an e-mail. I would die! I would literally die!"

"Can I send them a 'Happy Birthday' message?" I asked, meekly.

"Yes. But only on their actual birthday. Do not send it a day ahead trying to be the first one to wish them 'Happy Birthday.' That can look a little stalker-ish."

"Okay. I think I've got it now," I mumbled.

"It's a lot to take in," Roxie said as she patted my shoulder and kissed me on the cheek. "I think you're doing great!"

I hope Roxie has five children one day. And I hope all five them turn into teenagers!

RANDOMNESS #3 - I know. I know. I haven't made my January Paula Deen recipe... yet. I have until Monday, January 31 to make Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Cake "Benedict." AND I WILL COMPLETE THIS TASK! I WILL!

Because as I skip ahead in the calendar to the February recipe, I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm not going to tell you the name of the dish, but I will give you a head's up.

It takes 25 hours of prep time, and is described as "moderate" in difficulty. (That's right. Twenty-five HOURS of prep time! If February's recipe turns out well, I can assure you NO ONE will be eating it. I'm going to shellac it and use it as a centerpiece until I'm 80 years-old. And I'm not kidding!)

Blog Linkage - I only have two today, but they are definitely worth reading.

1. Go to BooMama under My Blog List and scroll down to her post entitled "Well, Hello There, Yosemite" dated January 25. Funny and light. I needed that this week!

2. Go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and read their post entitled "Mailboxes for Valentine's Day" dated January 26. I actually bought these mailboxes at Target last weekend (see Gallery below), and beginning February 1, The Faulkner Five and Melia are going to start stuffing them with sweet notes and treats to open Valentine's Day. I just have to decorate a little, as you can see!

Thrift Store Date With Your Mate

Before the big day (Valentine's Day), spend an hour or so on a Saturday or Sunday and find the perfect gift or gifts at a local thrift or antique store. Set a $10 or $20 limit, and use your imagination to find the "perfect" gift for your mate.

Did your Valentine love comic books when he was a kid? Antique stores have lots of old comic books.

Does your wife like a cup of hot tea in the afternoon? There are tons of AFFORDABLE and beautiful pieces of china in thrift stores and antique stores.

Divide the store in half. You take the right side. Your spouse can shop on the left.

When you are ready to purchase your item(s), text your date you are heading to the cash register at the front of the store. Make sure the store clerk double bags the items. No peeking allowed.

Make sure you have a few red or pink gift bags at the house to make wrapping an easy task, and exchange your thrift store gifts on February 14.

Oh! And since you didn't spend time TOGETHER in the thrift store, head to your favorite coffee "place" and/or bookstore, and spend an hour together before heading home to wrap the gifts

Fun, different and memorable. Now that's a good date!

Have a terrific Thursday. I'll be back in the morning with Weekend Happenings and basketball pics.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Disaster Relief... Helping Others as a Family

Good Wednesday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from the past weekend, anniversary and a trip to Whole Foods, and my sister's house which was hit by the tornado early Monday morning.

Wednesday Wisdom - I just picked two quotes today, and guess what? They are about storms.

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." Louisa May Alcott (I love this one.)

"Storms make the oak grow deeper roots." George Herbert

Disaster Relief... Helping Others as a Family

I'm listing today's topic under Seasonal Traditions. Unfortunately, Alabama does have a "season" for tornadoes... and it came a little early this year.

I just want to mention something I saw yesterday which was SO helpful, and it is definitely doable.

Around 11:30, a woman and her two grandchildren walked slowly down the street. One girl was pulling a rolling cooler filled with ice and soft drinks. Another girl carried around six boxes of Little Caesar's pepperoni pizzas. The grandmother had a bag on her arm carrying snack bars and napkins.

They stopped in front of each and every house. You could see men climbing off bulldozers, heavy equipment and roofs. Families stopped what they were doing and gathered around them. Everyone took a minute or two to enjoy a slice of pizza and a cold drink before getting back to the daunting task of cleaning, sorting and moving debris.

I thought it was great idea.

My sister lives at the end of a very long street, so I'm assuming they started out with more than ten boxes before they began walking through the devastated neighborhood. By the time they walked to the end of the street and started their way back to their car at the other end of the street, they only had two-thirds of one pizza left.

They met a need. Anyone could do this or something similar. The grandmother was teaching a very valuable lesson to her granddaughters. One I don't think they'll ever forget.

As a family, you could even start a Tornado Envelope and begin saving a specific amount of money each payday ($10 or $20) to specifically use when something like this happens in and around our community.

DISCLAIMER - There are always, always many opportunities to help during these times. Sorting clothes at a distribution center. Picking up debris in yards. Helping people pack their belongings for moving to storage. The list goes on and on and on. I just thought if I saw something different during the next week or so, I'd share it with you.

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage, a Date and maybe some more new ideas (to me) about helping others during such a time as this!

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cream Cheese Cake Box Cookies

Good Tuesday morning!

Because of lack of time this morning, I picked one photo from this weekend for the Gallery Pic today. (I'll have more tomorrow.)

Mike and I celebrated our 24th anniversary as a married couple Friday and Saturday although our actual anniversary date was yesterday, January 23. Yes. We picked the month of January to become husband and wife. Fun fact for you... Of all 12 months of the year, January is the least chosen by brides and grooms for marriage ceremonies.

But I like January. It just fits my mood!

We also went to Washington, D.C. for our honeymoon. I'm not a sand and sun person by nature. I'm a snow person.

And the whole time we were tromping around D.C. in January of 1988, there was a 4" blanket of snow on the ground. Perfect!

RANDOMNESS #1 - This is a super quick post. I'm off to Clay to be with family today. Bev and family will probably be staying in a hotel for awhile, so packing up the house is on everyone's To-Do List.

Continued prayers for EVERYONE affected by Monday morning's tornadoes are on top of everyone's Prayer List this Tuesday morning, also.

Josh plans on heading to Bev's after school each day this week to help with debris, cutting trees into pieces, etc.

Other than that, it is going to be a day-by-day "thing." Planning what to do a week in advance will not work here. The rest of the Faulkner Five will be jumping in this weekend.

I received a couple of telephone calls yesterday from friends who have "been there" when loved ones lost their homes and vehicles in a tornado. The practical advice given was much needed and immediately passed on to Bev and Tommy.

I know several other people who were hit by the storm, and are working on the same issues as my sister and her family. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of them.

Their stories are similar, but the best part is each of these families are praising God no one was injured.

And again, on the top of most people's Prayer List in this area are the families who lost loved ones or know someone who sustained injuries.

There's an old hymn I love from my "growing up" days, and I wanted to share some of the lyrics with you this morning.

When the world that I've been living in collapses at my feet.
When my life is shattered and torn.
Though I'm windswept and battered, I can cling to His cross
And find peace in the midst of the storm

There is peace in the midst of my storm-tossed life.
Oh, there's an anchor, there's a rock to cast my faith upon.
Jesus rides in my vessel, so I'll fear no alarm.
He gives me peace in the midst of my storm.

RANDOMNESS #2 - My topic for January ("Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience") is still in the works... just not today!

Cream Cheese Cake Mix Cookies

This is a little variation of the original Cake Mix Cookies. I found it on Pinterest, of course. I am of the opinion cream cheese makes everything a little better. Don't you agree?

You will need the following:

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup add-ins (flavored chips, candy, nuts, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cream together butter and cream cheese.

3. Add egg and vanilla and mix until well blended.

4. Stir in cake mix a little at a time until it's all blended. Then add any chips, candy or nuts.

5. Bake for 10 minutes.

Yum!

Have a really good Tuesday. I'll be back with more tomorrow. (I don't know how much more... but definitely more!)

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mindless Monday... Maybe Tomorrow

Good Monday afternoon!

Mindless Monday has been postponed due to the storms early this morning.

Family and friends are all safe and accounted for, but damaged homes, cars and neighborhoods are heavy on my mind.

I don't think it would be appropriate for me to write about my weekend when so many have lost so much today.

So, I'll just say I'm thankful for God's protection over my sister and her family and many, many others. I'll be on my way to see them in a little while.

I pray you and yours are safe and well.

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

Sincerely,

Belinda

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Happenings, Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt Date

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are of my new mattress and bedding. Many, many pillows still need to be bought, and I am thinking a dark, chocolate brown throw spread across the bottom of the bed would be very pretty. But even without these finishing touches, it is a lovely, lovely bed. Ahhh! I cannot wait until bedtime!

RANDOMNESS - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, "I'm going to be sharing a few of these 'things' over the next week or so. I'm not saying I have this teenage thing figured out. It's a process. One in which I am sure I will not have conquered until the last teen has left my house... and by then I will either have forgotten what I've learned, or it will no longer pertain to my life as a self-proclaimed 'Baby' Mama!"

Bedtimes - When the chicks were small, nap time and bedtime were events I looked forward to... a lot!

Even a self-proclaimed "Baby Mama" needs quiet time to regroup, unwind and get ready for the next round of bottom wiping, toddler moods and sibling squabbles. Many times, the thought of the "8:30 bedtime" was all that got me through the day.

The kids went down at 8:30 and we, the parental units, had about 45 minutes to an hour before we, too, passed out. Ahhh. Good times. Good times.

Now the house is full of teenagers. Teenagers do NOT go to bed at 8:30... but parental units really, really want to go to bed at 8:30. But we don't. We stay up. We stay "present." We wander in and out of the den, the kitchen, the various bedrooms. We talk if the teens want to talk. We watch a program with them if they want company. And by 10:00 p.m., we are more than ready to call it a day.

Teenagers... not so much.

The female teen of the house is tired because of basketball practice, so she spends an hour or so getting ready for the next day. (Yes. I said "an hour or so." She doesn't realize it now, but she can look absolutely fabulous by wearing a cap with a free-flowing ponytail and little or no make-up. That fact will hit her in the face when she turns 40. Until then, I'm not saying anything!)

The male teen of the house doesn't go to bed before 11:00 or so, and gets up 45 minutes before it is time to leave for school. His prep time for the next day consists of brushing his teeth, and when his head hits the pillow, he's out for the night!

When Austin is home during the weekend, Josh and Austin enjoy staying up to the wee hours of the morning watching movies and playing X-Box together. (And when I say "wee hours," I mean WEE HOURS.)

So, more often than not, Mikie and I go to bed so the kids can have some much-needed unwinding time from their hectic, busy day.

Our roles have totally reversed in this category.

And I don't think it will be long before Mikie and I are eating dinner between 4:30 and 5:00 in the evening to give everything time to digest before we "hit the hay." Oh. And the teens will survive and thrive just fine on midnight pizza.

I'm telling you, it's just a matter of time.

Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt Date

The Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt is great because it can be as versatile as you want to make it.

Divide the kids with your spouse.

Go to a local mall.

Each "team" should have a digital camera.

Team One should begin at one end of the mall and Team Two should begin at the other end. (Or if the mall is two stories, have Team One stay on the second floor and Team Two stay on the first floor.)

You have 30 minutes before meeting in the Food Court to add up the points... and have a snack as a family!

Make it simple. Take as many pictures of the following as possible!

1 Point - Heart pictures
1 Point - The words "Valentine's Day"
1 Point - Heart-shaped balloons
5 Points - Cupid poster or picture
5 Points - Picture of anyone wearing a Valentine's Day t-shirt or sweatshirt
10 Points - Picture of someone kissing

The winning team gets to share a small box of chocolates!

Use your imagination... and have a good time!

Weekend Happenings

It's a monumental weekend. I don't usually say that. I usually say "busy" or "hectic" or "fun." But "monumental" is a word which definitely fits this time.

Mikie and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary tonight... although our actual anniversary is January 23. (Who wants to celebrate on a Monday? Yuck!)

It has been our tradition for the past 23 years to spend our anniversary with a Gift of Time to each other. We don't BUY gifts. We simply go out to eat, shop or go to a movie and stay at a nice hotel in the area.

I have to admit, this tradition was not my original idea. When we married 24 years ago, we went to the Tutwiler Hotel in downtown Birmingham after the wedding. We didn't leave for our honeymoon until early (EARLY) the next morning.

The Tutwiler gave us an old-fashioned key when we checked out. Imprinted on the key was the year "1988" (the year we married). The clerk told us if we came back to the Tutwiler on our first anniversary we would be able to stay in the same room for $19.88. It was a little wedding gift from the hotel... and we loved it.

One year later, we stayed at the Tutwiler on our anniversary date for only $19.88... and a tradition was born.

We have gone out of town to celebrate the ten-year anniversaries (Gatlinburg and Charleston), but next year is the BIG 25, so we're going to be planning a little trip for that occasion.

But this weekend, we stick to the original plan... a Gift of Time.

Mikie's going to have a GREAT weekend because he gets TWO Gifts of Time. The kids and I gave him three tickets to see Ricky Skaggs this Saturday night. Mikie, Austin and Josh are going to enjoy dinner and a show. Roxie and I have a mutual aversion to all things bluegrass, so we'll be doing something we enjoy... maybe shopping and pretzel eating.

Because the upcoming weekend is filled with a lot of "Good Stuff," I think Sunday will be one of those church/Sunday lunch/nap kind of days. (I'm hoping, hoping, hoping!)

Have a lovely weekend. I'll be back with Mindless Monday. My 1,000th Blog Post Contest will be here before you know it... and it's going to be BIG! BIG, I tell you! I'll more info next week.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Extremely Well-Rested Belinda

Thursday, January 19, 2012

JUST Blog Linkage

Good Thursday morning!

This will be a different kind of post. I made some plans last night which have me leaving the house in 45 minutes... hopefully clean and coiffed.

Thus, I'll only be posting Blog Linkage this lovely Thursday.

Friday's post will be busy, busy, busy and include Weekend Happenings, the Date, Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience and pics of my new mattress.

That's right! The mattress is here, and Mikie and I slept very, very well last night. I don't know if I feel 20 years younger and more refreshed, but it is still a great mattress.

Blog Linkage

1. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "(past projects) Valentine's Day" dated January 17. There are some very cute crafts to make with your kiddos.

2. Stay where you are, but scroll UP to the post entitled "Today's Guest - What the Teacher Wants" dated January 18. I LOVE this post and website. These teachers take a great children's book and give you craft and snack ideas to go with each book. What a great way to spend a cold, rainy afternoon with the kids in the house. I would have done this with my chicks back in the day.

3. Go to the anderson crew under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "featured sponsor -- hayley morgan" dated January 17. Great post.

4. Go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Lucky in Love" dated January 19. Cute idea to let your hubby and/or kids know they are special and loved during the month of February.

There may not be much to read on A Simple Life today, but I think I've made up for it with excellent Blog Linkage. Enjoy!

Take care, and I'll be back tomorrow with everything that was missing today!

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Annual Snowman Party

Good Wednesday morning!

Wow! Wednesday already. How did that happen?

The Gallery Pics are miscellaneous to say the least, but noteworthy. At least I think so.

RANDOMNESS #1 - My new mattress will be delivered today. I am dancing a jig, I tell you!

Sometimes it is the "little" things (or the "size of a mattress" things) that bring the most happiness.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Things I've Learned While Raising Teens... A Humbling Experience - I'm going to be sharing a few of these "things" over the next week or so. I'm not saying I have this teenage thing figured out. It's a process. One in which I am sure I will not have conquered until the last teen has left my house... and by then I will either have forgotten what I've learned or it will no longer pertain to my life as a self-proclaimed "Baby" Mama!

I've said it once, and I'll say it again (and again)... I'm a Baby/Preschool Mama. That was, and is, my comfort zone.

Give me a tiny, sleepy, poopy, precious bundle any day of the week, and I will scoop him/her up, kiss him/her on their fat, red cheeks and feed, rock, bathe, powder, moisturize, change, etc., etc. him/her all day long.

I could do the above forever. I am confident in my "Baby" Mama abilities.

I approached the Teenage Years with fear and trepidation. I WANTED to be a good Teenager Mom, but I was afraid the skills just weren't there.

And I was right.

I had to start from scratch and LEARN how to be a Teenager Mom. (Notice I didn't put the word "good" in front of Teenager Mom. I'm still working on "good." Still working hard!)

Today, I simply wanted to talk about one of the differences of "then" and "now."

Laundry - I've been starting each day with laundry for about 20 years now. And if I'm perfectly honest, I'll be ending today with laundry, too. It's a fact of life. Five people create large amounts of laundry.

However, when the kids were little, the laundry was filled with little items. Little underwear. Little socks. Little jeans and tops. Although stain removal was a huge part of my laundry time, the number of loads wasn't overwhelming because I could fit so many "little" items into a load, you see.

Teenager laundry is different. Teenager laundry consists of lots and lots of adult-size jeans, sweatshirts, t-shirts. The bedding, which was once no larger than twin-size, is now queen-size times four.

I will admit that although guys will wear the same thing 24 days in a row (if you let them), the teenage chick in the house will try something on, wear it for 18 minutes before changing into something different... and it ends up in the dirty clothes pile.

Since I am a little "brain-cell deprived" these days, I simply cannot remember if she actually wore all 14 items in the dirty clothes pile in one day or not. So I do laundry.

Please do not look at this as complaining. This is simply life as I know it. Life as a Teenager Mom. It's not a hard life. It's just the life I'm living out of my comfort zone. WAY out of my comfort zone. But I'm doing the best job I possibly can!

Tomorrow's topic... Bedtimes, or lack thereof!

DISCLAIMER #1 - Yes. The teenagers know how to do their own laundry. They wash, fold and put away when instructed and/or time allows. I didn't want you to think they were incapable of helping out, because they will tell you, "We help out A LOT!"

DISCLAIMER #2 - One of my main goals in life is to be a Good Mom. Not just a Good Baby Mom or a Good Preschool Mom, but a Good Mom... all across the board. I'm just letting you know, the last few years I've really, really had to work at it!

Wednesday Wisdom - I bet you thought I had found a quote about a good mattress, didn't you? Close, but no cigar!

"There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"
Ernest Hemingway

I don't know if I'm missing the "deeper" meaning, but both of these quotes made me smile this morning.

ADDED LATER IN THE DAY- I started wondering, "Is there such a thing as a 'mattress' quote?" And guess what? There certainly is!

"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable." Maya Angelou

And it's a "deep" quote, too. Who would have thought...

Annual Snowman Party

This idea comes straight from Family Fun Magazine and the Sikes family of Dennard, Arkansas. (I've added a couple of things at the bottom, but this would be a great January party to throw each year.)

Every January, we throw a Snowman Party for our extended family. We transform our house into a winter wonderland by stringing lights and putting out lots of decorations, and we enjoy a day of snowman-themed food and games. Whether there's real snow on the ground or not, we always look forward to some frosty fun.

We decorate by displaying our snowman figurines, then we hang up crocheted snowmen, paper snowflakes and blue and white lights.

We serve a meal the way you build a snowman... backward. We eat dessert first (Rice Krispies snowman bars are a hit), then dinner, which might be a snowman-shaped meat loaf or meatballs on rice. Last, we almost always serve a "melted snowman" appetizer (creamy potato soup with raisin eyes, peppercorn buttons and a carrot nose floating on top).

And to drink? White hot chocolate, of course!

We've played Pin the Carrot on the Snowman and staged a mock game show based on snowman trivia. One year we held an indoor scavenger hunt, racing to find the various parts of paper snowmen hidden throughout the house.

ADDED BY THE ENCHANTING BELINDA - Since "the weather outside is frightful," it can be a movie or board game kind of evening, too.

Your devotion for the end of the party can be taken from Isaiah 1:18. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Have one of the adults at the party read the verse and simply talk about the meaning.

What is another word for "scarlet?" Red.

According to the Bible, what washes away our sins? The blood of Jesus Christ.

What color is blood? Red.

What do you think this verse really means? Jesus was sent to die on the cross for our sins. His blood was spilled for each and every one of us. Our sins can be forgiven if only we ask!

Finish the short devotion by saying John 3:16 aloud and in unison. "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Have a wacky, wonderful Wednesday. Don't try to contact me after 8:00 tonight. As soon as church is over, I'll be going to bed on my brand new mattress. I'm hoping to sleep for ten straight hours in uninterrupted bliss. (We all know this will NEVER happen, but a girl can dream... especially on a new mattress!)

I'll be back in the morning with GREAT Blog Linkage, a fun Date, MORE Things I've Learned While Raising Teens and some pics.

Take care and I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. If you are unable to leave a comment on the blog, feel free to contact me via Facebook or e-mail (mfaulkner1306@charter.net).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spicy Pop Pulled Pork - Pioneer Woman Style!

Good Tuesday morning!

The Gallery Pics this morning are STILL from Katie's 18th Birthday Celebration. (I've learned on SLOW picture-taking weeks to "hold" a few photos from the past weekend... just in case.)

RANDOMNESS #1 - Speaking of SLOW picture-taking weeks, but busy, picture-worthy weekends, I have one of those coming up! I'll talk about it more Friday, but Mikie and I will be celebrating 24 years of wedded bliss this coming weekend.

I am so looking forward to our anniversary. It is one of the highlights of my year!

RANDOMNESS #2 - As I said yesterday, I wanted to see I Bought a Zoo. After checking the computer TWICE for the correct showtime at the theater of my choice, we arrived and discovered the computer was WRONG! The "theater people" had decided NOT to show I Bought a Zoo, but had failed to change the computer info.

Devastated was I. The guys... not so much.

Especially when I mentioned having lunch at Mugshots instead.

Mugshots is one of those words that instantly brings a smile to our faces. Yes. I ordered another Peanut Butter Burger, and I cannot say enough about how good (not gross) these burgers are. Austin and Joshua went with more traditional burgers. You know... lettuce, bacon, cheese, mayo, ketchup. In other words... BORING!

I'm telling you. They do not know what they are missing.

As it turned out, it was a good thing we didn't go to the movie. I wasn't quite over the Sunday migraine, and just being in a light, noisy restaurant almost started the whole thing again. I think a movie would have been too much.

But I'm still going to see it. I have a feeling I'll be seeing it at the Dollar Theater, but I AM STILL GOING TO SEE THAT MOVIE!

RANDOMNESS #3 - I read something this past weekend, and while I would usually share it with you Thursday under Blog Linkage, I think it needs to stand alone.

It is a wonderfully sweet birth story. Go to www.kellehampton.com. Scroll down her post dated January 16. At the bottom of this post, you will notice several little boxes. Double click on the box entitled "Nella Cordelia: A Birth Story."

Nella is almost two now, and I love to check this blog from time to time to see how she and Big Sister are doing. Kelle takes the MOST wonderful photographs to go along with every post.

Read it. I think you'll like it!

Spicy Pop Pulled Pork

As indicated in the title (and yesterday's post), this is The Pioneer Woman's recipe. And an excellent recipe it is!

I made this for Sunday dinner after watching her cooking show on Food Network Saturday morning. Easy and delicious.

You will need the following:

2 onions (peeled and quartered)
1 whole pork butt (pork shoulder roast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 11-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans soda (Dr. Pepper)
4 packed tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Start by placing the onion quarters in the bottom of a pot. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper, and then place on top of the onions.

3. Pour the chipotle peppers over the top.

4. Crack open the cans of pop and pour them over the whole thing.

5. Add the brown sugar to the liquid and stir.

6. Cover the pot. Put in oven and cook for at least 6 hours, flipping the roast 2 or 3 times during the cooking process. When it's done, the pork will be dark and weird and wonderful. It'll also be fork-tender.

7. Remove the meat from the pot and shred completely. Then return the meat to the pot and keep it in the juice until you need it.

Guys, this was SO good. This would make a great "company" dish because there is so much meat. I may make it for my 4th of July Family Celebration this summer.

I know what you're thinking. "Isn't she supposed to be cooking a Paula Deen recipe every month for a year? Why is she cooking Pioneer Woman recipes INSTEAD OF Paula Deen recipes?"

May I remind you, I still have 14 days to prepare Paula Deen's January recipe, Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Cake Benedict? That's right! Fourteen more days!

I have got to get busy!

Have a fantastic Tuesday. I'll be back in the morning with a Seasonal Tradition, Wednesday Wisdom, Randomness and pics (of something)!

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from Katie's 18th Birthday Celebration, and a little "this" and "that" from our weekend.

RANDOMNESS #1 - I remembered to DVR The Pioneer Woman's new cooking show Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. It was great, and I immediately planned on making her Spicy Pop Pulled Pork for Sunday dinner.

I did, and it was delicious! (Pictures below. Recipe tomorrow.)

I'll be making her Au Gratin Potatoes soon... but not the coleslaw. Nope. Not the coleslaw.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Our weekend went according to plan.

NOT!

1. The Friday night basketball game for Roxie was cancelled because there were no refs. (Major disappointment.)

2. The Saturday morning breakfast date for me and Mikie was cancelled because we discussed it, and we decided we both wanted to sleep in a little Saturday morning... so we did.

3. The deer hunt went as scheduled, but no deer was shot, bagged, run over, etc. (Everyone still had a good time.)

4. Roxie was pooped Saturday, so we didn't go anywhere ALL DAY LONG. It fit our collective mood.

5. Katie's Birthday Celebration was attended by all, but a nasty migraine started building during the festivities.

6. All the guy cousins came to spend the night, play X-Box and eat. Thankfully, they are all practically adults, and after I ordered the pizza, set out the snacks and crawled back to my bedroom, they took care of themselves.

Even with the minor changes here and there, it was still a lovely weekend. I just had to decide what to look for in each day.

Cancelled basketball game OR dinner with Mikie, Josh and his friend.

Going shopping with Roxie OR staying home in our pajamas all day long.

The guys getting a deer OR the guys getting to spend the whole day together in the woods... and declaring it fun (deer or no deer).

Having a migraine Sunday afternoon OR being thankful it didn't start until after church services and Katie's Birthday Celebration was almost over.

Yes. It is definitely an intentional decision to choose the "good stuff," and not get bogged down with the "what ifs." And more times than not, I get bogged down.

Here's a little hint for you. It helps me to write it down. If I see something in writing, I tend to believe it!

RANDOMNESS #3 - My MamMa gives her grandchildren a dinner in January as a Christmas gift. She's been doing this for several years now.

The cousins love it because we get to see each other and visit in December AND January.

MamMa loves it because it is something extra nice she can do for all of us, and she sits right in the middle and enjoys the visit.

I've talked about it before, but MamMa is a FANTASTIC role model for a mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. She loves us all, and if someone isn't able to come to the Palisades Christmas Celebration or her January Out-to-Eat Party, she'll say, "We were all there except for _________."

And it doesn't matter if it is a grandchild she's known all their life or one she met a few months before a wedding took place. It's still her grandchild.

I love that about her.

She's a Naomi, and one day, I want to be a Naomi, too.

Have a memorable Monday. Austin and Josh are going to the movies with me. I can't wait any longer to watch I Bought a Zoo. (They may bail at the last minute and watch Mission Impossible, but as for me and my popcorn... Well, we're watching the Zoo movie!)

Take care, and I'll be here tomorrow with The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Pop Pulled Pork recipe. If you're having company in the near future, this is a big easy, breezy dish to make.

I'll talk to you in the morning.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekend Happenings, LEGO Date

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are simply from dinner last night. I was a little more tired than normal (if you can even imagine), so I made my new favorite Pinterest recipes (side by side) in the oven. Thirty minutes later... DINNER! (Hootenanny and Baked Bacon. Only one cooking dish to wash. Brilliant!)

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Pioneer Woman's new cooking show will be on the Food Channel in the morning at 9:00 a.m. I think she taped at least six more segments. If you're a fan, set your DVR tonight and enjoy the show sometime this weekend.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I read an article written by John Croyle yesterday, and, as I usually do whenever I read something Mr. Croyle writes, I wanted to share some of it with you today.

Quiet Conversations With Our Kids

You and I have a choice everyday to either bless or curse our children just by our conversations with them. We make our children feel really good about themselves or we make them feel like a piece of road kill lying on the side of the road.

Never underestimate the power of your words, your tone of voice, inflection, attitude and facial expression.

You can rationalize your choosing to continue using poor communication skills with the excuse of "They know I love them," but the damage is still the same and will cause irreparable destruction of you and your child's relationship.

God says, "Ask anything according to my will and it shall be done." I am extremely confident the Lord wants our words to be wisely and lovingly delivered. Ask Him to help, and I promise He will be there.

As always, words to live by!

Blog Linkage - It was a good week in Blog World. There were many, many ideas out there, as well as posts that make you say, "Hmmm." (I like those the best!)

1. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "This Year's To-Do List" dated January 9. I love this idea.

2. Go to The Dating Divas under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Photo Love Notes" dated January 11. They always have the most "doable" ideas.

3. Go to anderson family crew under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "Featured Sponsor: Casey" dated January 9. Read Casey's post about "love languages." It is eye opening.

4. Stay at anderson family crew and scroll UP to the January 11 post entitled "Valentine's Day DIY - Mailboxes." I'm planning on making these mailboxes and putting them out the first day of February. I know I'm going to be stuffing them with notes, small gifts and sweets... and I hope the rest of The Faulkner Five will do the same. We'll see.

5. Go to www.imperfecthomemaking.com and scroll down to the post entitled "Creating Family Rhythm" dated January 9. I LOVE the subject of Family Rhythm and have long been aware of the different rhythms a family goes through over the years.

Start reading!

LEGO Date

This is something I would have attended with Austin and/or Josh back in the day! The LEGO Brickfair!

Birmingham Bargain Mom has this to say about the event...

Join us at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama! LEGO models, displays and LEGO games will be brought together by adult fans and artists from across the country.

We are excited to present this festival of LEGO fun. It will be a great time for the whole family!

Vendors will be offering all things LEGO... shirts, hats, build-mats, custom mini-figures, custom-molded weapons and more.

Original LEGO creations will be on display and cover 37,000 square feet!

The LEGO Brickfair will be held Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. The entrance fee is $7 per person 4 and above. Three and under are FREE!

Tickets will be sold at the door only. The entrance fee is good for one day. We do not sell two-day packages, and we do not offer discounts.

Whether your child is "into" LEGOs or not, it is always fun to see what people can create with these tiny blocks.

Weekend Happenings

We have a grand weekend planned. Well, not really "grand" as much as "enjoyable."

Let's break it down, shall we?

Friday - Mikie, Roxie and I will be doing the basketball "thang." I hope, hope, hope we start the weekend with a win.

Austin and Melia are having a date night.

Josh is hanging with a friend.

Saturday - Mikie and I are planning on having one of our infamous breakfast dates at Cracker Barrel. (The kids gave us a Gift Certificate. There's nothing better than a FREE date!)

Mikie, Austin and Josh are leaving around noon to go hunting Saturday afternoon with Uncle Guy.

Roxie and I haven't decided what we'll be doing. I'll either be taking Roxie and friends somewhere or we might just go shopping, eat pretzels and hang. Who knows.

Sunday - After church, we'll be celebrating Katie's 18th birthday at my sister's house. Cake, ice cream and some reminiscing. That's a good way to spend a Sunday.

Like I said before, not grand, but pretty enjoyable, I think.

Have a great LONG weekend. I'll be back Monday morning with Mindless Monday and a little more.

Take care, and I'll talk to you next week.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And In Unrelated News...

Good Thursday NIGHT!

I know I usually give you a 24-hour warning when a post is going to be late (or missing), but today was one of those unusual days that just didn't go as planned.

Everything's fine, but it was NOT a regular Thursday.

I had SIX unusual events during the day. SIX!

And some of them turned out to be very enjoyable.

I won't bore you with a lot of Enchanting Belinda Details, but I will tell you Roxie and I unexpectedly spent most of the day together and we had a late lunch at Newk's. I've never eaten at Newk's before, but I have always heard good things.

But Newk's... Well, Roxie has found her special "place." She had loaded potato soup and a wedge of caramel cake. She was in Loaded Potato Soup/Caramel Cake Heaven... and I took a bite or two (or three) and joined her there. Very, very good.

I ordered my usual (toasted pimento cheese sandwich), and it was to die for, Chicks. To... die... for!

Okay. So what about Blog Linkage, Dates, Randomness and pics?

Friday is another day. It is usually JUST Weekend Happenings Day, but tomorrow it is going to be Weekend Happenings, Blog Linkage, Dates, Randomness and pics.

If you stop by in the morning, plan on staying awhile!

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MORE Gifts of Time

Good Wednesday morning!

The Gallery Pics are a few miscellaneous shots from December and January. The basketball game was cancelled last night. So were my hopes of new action shots in the Gallery this morn.

RANDOMNESS #1 - After missing four consecutive Body Pump sessions in a row, I was able to attend yesterday afternoon.

But I didn't miss because I wanted to quit. Other "things" got in the way, and when the basketball game was cancelled yesterday, I had no reason NOT to go. No reason at all.

Thus, this morning I am more than a little sore in some places, and tight in others. I slept like a brick last night, but I am blessed because I tend to sleep like a brick every night.

Will I miss tomorrow's class even though my exercise buddy, Cam, cannot attend? Will I go alone? What is wrong with me that after 13 years of exercising, I simply CANNOT or WILL NOT walk or go to class alone?

I don't know. But I will say my "Exercise Mason Jar" is motivation. And since I can see the bottom of said jar (from lack of quarters, you see), I am going to try to go tomorrow afternoon... ALONE.

I've put it on the blog using cyperspace as a kind of "accountability" partner. (Southern Baptists LOVE "accountability" partners.)

We'll see if it works.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Roxie and I watched the Season Premiere of Dance Moms last night. You can sum up this reality show with one word... DRAMA! Over and over and over throughout the show last night, Roxie and I asked ourselves, "Why don't they just leave her studio? Why do they continue to stay?" But we also knew the answer.

They are on a really popular reality television show, and whether or not their daughters make it to Broadway one day, they'll already be rich and famous... which seems to be the ultimate goal.

My goal for Roxie was chosen when she was born.

When I was pregnant with Roxie, an older lady at church walked up to me and asked if I knew what I was having. I replied, "A little girl."

"You know what you need to do, don't you?" she asked.

I listened attentively for more "New Mom of Girl" advice, but this was a little different.

"When I was born, my Mama gave me my Proverbs 31 verse. If your little girl is born on the 11th through the 30th day of any month, that's her verse."

"I don't understand. What do you mean?" I asked, trying to process this new info.

My birthday is May 12. My verse is Proverbs 31:12. 'She brings her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life.' I'm a good wife."

"Oh. I see." And then I started trying to figure out how to skip days one through ten of September so Roxie could have a Proverbs 31 verse. Somehow, we did it!

Roxie's Proverbs 31 verse is Proverbs 31:25. "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."

It's not Broadway, but it is a noble goal, I think.

Wednesday Wisdom - January is our anniversary month. Mikie and I will celebrate the big 24 in a few days, so that is where my mind is right now. And these quotes about marriage "fit my mood."

"Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day." Gene Perret

"We're all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness - and call it love - true love." Robert Fulghum

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years." Simone Signoret

"Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate." Barnett R. Brickner (I think this one is my favorite.)

MORE Gifts of Time

We talked about this a few years ago on A Simple Life, but as the kids have continued to grow up (totally against my better judgment), Gifts of Time have become more and more important to me as a mom and a wife.

We have FOUR Gifts of Time we give annually.

1. I make a Day After Christmas Movie Stocking for each member of the Faulkner Five every Christmas. (Movie ticket, favorite candy, sucker, etc.)

2. Mike and I go to a nice local hotel every year for our anniversary and eat at a nice restaurant. We don't buy other gifts. Just this annual Gift of Time.

3. Roxie and I get a manicure/pedicure together Christmas Eve. It's time to relax, soak and get pretty... together.

4. When Roxie became too old to go to the Father/Daughter Banquet at church, she and Mike continued dressing up and going out to eat one night during February. Another Gift of Time.

I talked to my friend, LeAnna, after Christmas and discovered she gifts annual Gifts of Time, too.

1. She gives her boys Gift Certificates to play paintball at Fort Red Rock with cousins and friends each Christmas.

2. She gives her boys (including the hubby) a Gift Certificate to go to a local shooting range each Christmas.

We all know how difficult it is to think of a GREAT gift or surprise as the kids get older. They want electronics, clothes, gift cards and money. I love that her family has not one, but TWO Gifts of Time every Christmas morning. LOVE it!

My challenge to you today (and to myself) is to try to think of ways to give more and more Gifts of Time throughout the year.

Austin gave Melia "imaginary" Wicked tickets for her birthday in November. The tickets didn't go on sale until recently, but they are going to see Wicked in February. A Gift of Time.

Austin, Josh, Roxie and I bought Mike a Gift of Time for his birthday last June. We gave him THREE tickets to see Ricky Skaggs this month. Austin and Josh are going with him. I started a money envelope a few months ago so they could have a nice "manly" dinner before the concert, too. (Roxie and I do NOT like Blue Grass. We're going shopping. Don't worry. I have an envelope for that, too!)

Valentine's Day is coming up... and right after that we have Easter. Either of those special occasions would be wonderful to give (or receive) a Gift of Time.

Or just pick a Tuesday... any Tuesday. How fun would it be to give a Gift of Time to someone you love on a Tuesday?

Start thinking! If need be, start saving, too.

It will be well worth your TIME!

Have a fantastic Wednesday. I hope all goes well with you and your family. I'll be back tomorrow with Blog Linkage AND a fun Date.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Feel free to leave any comments or ideas of Gifts of Time via Facebook or e-mail me at mfaulkner1306@charter.net. I'll be sure to share your ideas and thoughts!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops

Good Tuesday morning!

I have a few more London pics in the Gallery this morning, and I hope to have more than one basketball pic to add Wednesday morning after the game this evening. (I'm going to have a little talk with Mikie... and it will not be pleasant, I'm afraid.)

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - My picture-of-the-day blog, 50 is Nifty, will be UP-TO-DATE by 5:00 this afternoon. Check it out if you get a chance.

ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT! ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT! - My 1000th blog post will be here before you know it (less than nine weeks). I'm going to have a GIANT Contest, so be watching for details in February.

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - If you are new to A Simple Life, there are hundreds of OTHER posts located at www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com. (For some reason, the original blog wouldn't let me post after June 13, 2011. So I had to start anew... kinda.)

If you haven't read the posts yet, I urge to go to my sidebar and read Josh's Journey, Camp Week, City Adventures and Austin (1/3 of an Empty Nest).

Again, that's only if you have NOTHING else to do today!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I am probably the only human being in Alabama who did NOT watch the ball game last night. My favorite part of a football game is the fourth quarter, and I didn't even watch that.

I know I will receive some negative vibes from the rest of the residents of my fair state today and tomorrow, and I am afraid I do not have an acceptable excuse...

Except Julie and Julia was showing on a cable channel last night the exact same time as the game... and even though I've seen the movie a dozen times... and I own the movie... and because I watched Julie and Julia I missed the GAME OF THE CENTURY... I still have no regrets. Go figure!

It's a lovely movie with lovely music and a lovely story. It made me happy.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I read a post on Kelle Hampton's blog yesterday, and while I enjoy the ENTIRE blog, one thing stuck out.

She had an entire section entitled, "Today, I loved... ," and then she proceeded to list all the small things she loved yesterday. Nothing monumental. Nothing earth-moving. Just the small things.

I wanted to try that, too. However, I'm a day behind, so I will call it...

Yesterday, I Loved...

1. Drinking hot chocolate and talking with Austin before he left at noon to visit with friends. One-on-one with no interruptions.

2. Doing FIVE loads of laundry. YES! That felt good!

3. Finding three "hard-to-find" puzzle pieces in our LATE Christmas puzzle.

4. Talking to a friend, and finding out God answered a prayer with a big, fat "YES."

5. Finishing my two-page To-Do List.

6. Watching Julie and Julia propped up in my bed with a dozen or so pillows.

As you can see, it was kind of a NOTHING day until I broke it down and looked for those small things that put a little smile on my face.

Would my list of "Yesterday, I Did Not Love..." be a little longer? Maybe. But I'm not even going to start that list. Perhaps that's the key!

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops With Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and two people I know have actually tried it... and loved it. It's on my Pinterest To-Do List this week. It comes from a blog called www.chef-in-training.blogspot.com.

You will need the following:

6 pork chops (1/2" thick)
1 packet dry Ranch Dressing Seasoning
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
4 pounds peeled and cubed potatoes
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

1. Place pork chops, Ranch seasoning and soup into a medium-sized crock pot over high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6 hours.

2. Place potatoes in large pot of cold water. Place on stove top over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

3. Drain. Mix on low until potatoes are mashed.

4. Add butter, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt and pepper. Season to taste if needed. For thinner mashed potatoes add more milk... slowly, until you reach the desired consistency.

5. Scoop mashed potatoes onto serving plates and top with pork chops and soup gravy from crock pot.

It doesn't get much easier, Folks.

Have a lovely Tuesday. I'll be back in the morning with Wednesday Wisdom, a Seasonal Tradition, Randomness and pics.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from London AND Matthew's 4th Birthday Party. As you can see from the Showcase Pic, we had a special guest.

RANDOMNESS #1 - In Pinterest news, I've got several projects on my list this week.

1. Clean my microwave with 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Zap the mixture for five minutes on high and wipe the microwave clean. (I can most definitely do this one.)

2. Make Crockpot Ranch Pork Chops for dinner one night.

3. Make Roasted Potatoes, Zucchini, Baby Carrots and Sweet Potatoes the same night.

4. Make Chicken and Apple Salad. (If Mikie is reading this, "This is for me. You don't have to eat this. I promise.")

I've also added three new Boards in the past week or so.

1. Cakes I'll Never Be Able to Make - I'm not kidding. Even if I took "Make a Hard Cake" classes, I would not be able to do these cakes justice. I know my limitations... and baking perfect cakes is definitely one of them!

2. Things That Make Me Say, "Ahhhh!" - These pictures and places make me instantly relax when I see them. The stress fades away. (I look at these A LOT!)

3. Things I Want to Buy - I try to be realistic with my Boards. I don't like to "pin" anything I would never attempt. I don't want to "pin" unrealistic places to visit. (Paris is a real longshot for me, so I keep my "pins" located in the Continental United States and Canada for the most part.) So, as you can imagine, I don't have any really uber-expensive or unobtainable items on my Things I Want to Buy board.

Just a little ol' muffin mix squirter (it squirts out the same amount for each muffin) and a beautiful glass drink dispenser to serve iced tea when I have company. (Love it!)

I think Pinterest is a good thing if you actually "do" what you "pin." And I'm trying. Really, really hard.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Matthew's Birthday Party was a huge hit. He is a die hard Mickey Mouse Club fan this year, so he had a Disney theme. Brandi (my niece) found a Mickey Mouse AND a clown to come to the party, and they were wonderful.

Mickey stayed about 30 minutes and talked with the kids, posed for pictures, etc., etc., and they loved him.

Sparkles, the Clown, was also very entertaining. She made everyone balloon hats and toys (fishing poles with fish, swords, monkeys in trees, etc.) The kids were the perfect age to stand around her and wait their turn while she talked and performed her balloon magic.

Oh, and she did the face-painting thing, too. Puppy dogs, butterflies and Spiderman were just some of the faces she was able to paint.

I was in charge of taking pictures with Brandi's camera while Jared, my nephew, Brandi's husband and Matthew's dad, was in charge of video.

Can I just say I was in Preschool Heaven for a little while? So much fun.

Oh. And Lauren, my NEW great-niece, was there, too. She was beautiful in a stylin' pink and brown bell-bottom pants outfit. (I didn't ask Roxie, but she was a newborn fashionista with her pink satin shoes tied with pink satin bows. I may not be a "boot" expert, but I know my baby wear, and this little chick was working it!)

RANDOMNESS #3 - This will officially be my first "normal" week since the holiday season began. Austin leaves for school tomorrow afternoon to start the Spring Term. Roxie plays basketball. Katie turns 18. Mikie and I get our new mattress Thursday!

Thursday night, we will sleep like well-fed, burped and newly-diapered babies! (I think Thursday is going to be a good day!)

And, yes. That is a pretty normal week for me! Exciting, isn't it?

RANDOMNESS #4 - Pastor Kevin preached a wonderful sermon on "Forgiveness" yesterday. I always need to hear the "Forgiveness" sermons because I have a little problem with letting go of grudges and such. (I know. You're shocked, aren't you?)

I can forgive when someone asks, and I make it a point to do so right away, because when I ask for forgiveness, I don't want to wait a long time to be granted the forgiveness. I mean, it took a lot for me to ask! I want it on the spot, Baby!

My problem comes when I feel someone has wronged me, but DOES NOT ask for my forgiveness.

And they go along their merry way, totally oblivious to the fact they have hurt me horribly... terribly... deeply. I wait and wait and wait for them to make it right. And they never do (because they don't know they did anything wrong, you see).

And then bitterness takes root. In the end, it doesn't hurt anyone but The Enchanting Belinda.

All that to say, I needed to hear the "Forgiveness" sermon ONE MORE TIME.

At 50 years of age, you would think I knew that sermon by heart, wouldn't you?

Have a magnificent Monday. It's a "laundry/cooking/putting-away-kind-of-day" at Faulkner Farms (circa 1842). I'm not feeling the Paul Deen Recipe Challenge today, but you never know. I might change my mind around noon.

I'll be back tomorrow with a Recipe, Randomness, pics and a little more.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekend Happenings

Good Friday morning!

The Gallery Pics are from LONDON! I know you are thrilled. Especially since I have no idea what most of these pictures represent. I'm going to amaze you with everything I do NOT know about England!

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Paula Deen Recipe Challenge did NOT happen last night. I was busy making a big Welcome Home Dinner for The Boy, and I decided to stick with all of his favorites. (However, the peas are cooked and ready to go. If I have eight minutes sometime today, I may do the "Prep Work.")

RANDOMNESS #2 - The Boy's Welcome Home Dinner was a success... if you do not count The Boy NOT eating anything but a roll.

I took him to lunch at Jim & Nick's (because obviously restaurants in London aren't known for their Southern barbecue). He ate and ate and ate. And he started "fading" right before my eyes.

By the time we sat down to dinner, his eyes were glazed, his speech was slurred and his appetite was gone. Jet lag! It's a real condition!

To be honest, I think I had "sympathy jet lag." (If I see a picture of a sleeping baby, I have a strong desire to curl up in the fetal position for two, three or four hours. I'm sensitive to others that way!)

Everyone else seemed to enjoy the Welcome Home Dinner. I think they're ready for Austin to take another trip.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Carpooling Article - Part Two - Today I'll share the second half of this article (first posted in 2009). This is the part which will stay with you and make you think, think, think. Read yesterday's post for Part One.

Years before, I'd prayed that God would give me a grand purpose in life. He answered by giving me two daughters and a set of car keys.

"Drive," He said.

So drive I did... and became known among the other moms as Transportation Central. And I loved every minute of it.

It actually proved to be quite educational. I learned I could be invisible. The girls would all pile into my car and start talking about stuff girls talk about, which meant boys and other girls. As if I wasn't even in the car (hence the invisibility factor) they would start dishing the dirt.

You can learn a lot by being invisible, and as I listened to their conversations, you can bet I prayed as I drove!

During my years of driving girls, my car was used as a cafeteria, a beauty parlor, a dressing room, a last-minute study hall, a laundry hamper and a place to take a nap.

It was also at times a confessional and a sanctuary. Something amazing happened when my little red Tempo filled with girls.

God entered.

Sometimes I wondered if those girls in the backseat realized His presence. I think maybe they did, because every once in a while (when they would acknowledge my presence) they would ask me questions about Buddhism, paganism and Marilyn Manson. Sometimes I was able to pray out loud for them.

It was all so very natural. It was mundane and ordinary, yet incredibly holy. Now that my daughters are grown, I actually miss those days.

At one time I'd wanted to be somebody important, to do great and grand things. I ended up driving girls. It wasn't what I'd envisioned, but for a good portion of my life it was what I'd been created and called to do.

As I talked to Kelly's mom, I remembered that Kelly was one of the girls I not only drove places, but listened to, prayed for and loved. God used me to share Christ with her... and she died loving Jesus. I realized that for all those years behind the wheel of my car, I had no greater purpose.

I had asked God to give me a grand purpose, and He did.

While driving girls all over central Florida wasn't lofty, it was heavenly. And although it wasn't what I would have chosen, it turned out to be what I will always cherish.

Isn't that an amazing article? Food for much thought. As I said yesterday, this article was taken from Today's Christian Woman and was written by Nancy Kennedy... a very wise mom.

Weekend Happenings

I'm going to do the list thing. It's not a super busy weekend, so it will be short and sweet.

Me and Mikie - We're buying our mattress tonight, and hopefully having it delivered tomorrow afternoon. (I hope, I hope!) Which means we'll be going to bed around 7:00 p.m. Saturday night and sleeping 12 hours. (That's our goal!)

Saturday (early afternoon), we'll be attending the 4th birthday party of Matthew, great-nephew extraordinaire... and holding Lauren, precious great-niece. I'm really looking forward to Saturday (early afternoon).

Sunday we'll be going to church, and Sunday afternoon is an "up-in-the-air" afternoon. (I'm thinking a nap on the new mattress.)

Austin - The Boy is working a couple of shifts at the Chick before heading back to school next Tuesday. He's still struggling with a little jet lag (as mentioned above), so I think his weekend will be pretty laid back.

Josh - He's making plans, but I am not privy to them at this time. He's going to attend Matthew's party, but the rest of his weekend is up to him. The holidays are over, and I'm taking a couple of weeks off from major planning.

Roxie - Read the above. Exactly the same.

I may have the busiest weekend ever, and I just don't know it's coming.

If it is indeed the busiest weekend ever, I will have a WONDERFUL new mattress to "recuperate" on during the nighttime hours. (I'm expecting to look at least ten years younger in a week or so after I "sleep the correct way." I hope I won't be disappointed.)

Have a great January weekend. I'll be back first thing Monday morning with Mindless Monday and pictures of our mattress (100 or so).

Take care, and I'll talk to you next week.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Well-Rested-To-Be Belinda

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Friday the 13th Date

Good Thursday morning!

REMINDER! REMINDER! REMINDER! - Before A Simple Life (www.belinda-asimplelife.blogspot.com), there was A Simple Life (www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com). And then one day, the original A Simple Life would not let me post anything. I tried for days and days to get help, but no one from Blogger came... or called... or e-mailed.

So I had to start a new A Simple Life, and hope that my old readers would find me, and new readers would still come.

The old A Simple Life is still at the old address (www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com). There are 679 posts over there, so if you're new to A Simple Life and you want to check out Seasonal Traditions, Parties, Dates, Recipes, etc., you can visit the old... but don't forget to come back to the new!

Also, I have THREE picture-of-the-day blogs.

1. 2009-2010 - Belinda's Project 365

2. 2010-2011 - Belinda's Project Life

3. 2011-2012 - Fifty is Nifty... And Other Urban Myths. (This one is the most current!)

I hope that wasn't confusing... but I'm sure it was. (I even got lost a couple of times.)

The Gallery Pics are from The Boy's Homecoming last night. It was wonderful. I surprised him with Melia! I picked her up around 9:00, and then we waited until 10:30 or 10:45 when he walked through the door. He was a little loopy from lack of sleep and the six-hour time difference, but we visited for about an hour before Melia went home and Austin passed out.

Roxie tried, but she officially welcomed him home this morning. (The chick needs her beauty rest.)

Austin's Over-the-Pond Adventure... The End

That's right. The End. He had a great time, but all good things must come to an end... and it was definitely time to come home.

I will be posting some of the best London pictures over the next few days, but I have to say, there are a ton of good pictures. The Boy did me proud!

I went to bed last night with a smile on my face knowing the Faulkner Five was sleeping under one roof in the great State of Alabama.

It is EXCELLENT to have everyone in the same state again. EXCELLENT!

RANDOMNESS - Carpooling Article - I loved this post in 2009, and I love it now. For all of you moms out there still hauling kids to and fro, take a minute to read some very wise words.

My Mom gave me a copy of Today's Christian Woman which contains an article she wanted me to read. I loved it, and I wanted to share it with you in two parts this week. It is called A Purpose-Driving Life by Nancy Kennedy. I'll warn you... it's an eye-opener!

Years ago someone asked me what I wanted on my tombstone. I replied, rather flippantly, "She drove girls."

At the time, I had a 1989 red Ford Tempo with 189,000 miles on it, of which I was sure 188,000 of those miles had been used to drive girls... to the mall and volleyball practice. To softball games and the mall. To the mall and church youth group. To the beach. To Taco Bell. To school. To the mall.

It was either drive them or risk them finding rides with someone's sister's boyfriend. As long as my daughters and their myriad of close, personal friends were in the backseat of my car with me at the wheel, I knew where they were. It's a control thing, but a common sense thing, too. Although I didn't realize it at the time, it was also a ministry thing.

Not too long ago, Kelly's mother called to thank me for what I'd done for her daughter, Kelly, who had died from leukemia at age 21, and had been my daughter Laura's childhood best friend.

At first I thought she was thanking me for reading something I'd written for Kelly's funeral, but I realize now she'd meant something else, which brings me back to my purpose-driving life.

As Paul Harvey would say... "Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story."

Blog Linkage - I have some really good links for you to check out this morning.

1. I love the Anderson Family Crew blog, so I have added this blog under My Blog List on the sidebar. Go to the anderson crew under My Blog List and scroll down to the post entitled "a new year, a new adventure, 12 years of moves and babies" dated January 3. Get ready to take a nap. The past 12 years have been exhausting... and it ain't over yet!

2. Next, scroll UP to the post entitled "goals, words, resolutions, oh my" dated January 4. Emily is deleting her personal Facebook page. She gives the reasons why... and it makes really good sense.

I am all for deleting my personal Facebook page as soon as the kids get a little older. At the teenage stage of life, Facebook is one of the many ways I keep up with what is going on in their world. And it is helpful.

But I can definitely see the benefits of NOT "doing" Facebook one day.

3. Go to Nitty.Gritty. under My Blog List and read the post entitled "On the eve of another big day..." dated January 4. Wyndham is having a birthday, and once again, Jody's post is wonderful and insightful and hopeful. Loved it.

4. Go to Big Mama under My Blog List and read "How funky is your chicken?" dated January 5. Who would have thought a story about trying a new chicken recipe could be so funny? Excellent post.

5. Go to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and read "The Best Slumber Party in the Whole Wide World" dated January 3. I enjoyed the whole post, but I love the GIANT Ice Cream Sundae Platter. LOVE IT! I told Roxie to get some girls together... I will supply the ice cream, toppings and the hot pink spoons!

Friday the 13th Date

This January has a Friday the 13th. Plan a very FUN date with 13 different activities.

Get 13 envelopes. Write an activity on a slip of paper and place it in an envelope. Seal the envelope and number them in the order you want your child to open them.

Depending on the age of your child, the activities will vary. (If you have a preschooler, you have a longer day for the date. If you have a school-age child, the date begins at 3:00 when you pick them up from school.)

Here are a few ideas for your envelopes:

1. Pick an after-school snack of your choice (milkshake, ice cream, French fries, etc.)

2. Go to the local library and pick out a book and/or DVD for later in the evening.

3. Take a walk around a pond and let your child take pictures of the things that interest him/her.

4. Go to the local zoo.

5. Get your nails done.

6. Go the Dollar Theater to watch a movie.

7. Let the child pick a place to eat out for dinner.

8. Have a favorite craft activity ready to go when you arrive home.

9. Slip into your pajamas as soon you as walk into the door.

10. Build a quilt/pillow fort in front of the television in the den.

11. Eat dinner picnic-style in the fort.

12. Play your child's favorite game... more than once.

13. Play your child's favorite Wii game... more than once.

You get the idea. No one knows your child like you do. Plan 13 fun things to do on Friday the 13th and spend that time one-on-one with your child.

If there are siblings involved, make plans for them to spend the night with grandparents or cousins, if possible.

The next time Friday the 13th rolls around, have a Friday the 13th Date with a different child.

Have a tremendous Thursday. I know I will! The Faulkner Five rides again! I'll be back tomorrow with Weekend Happenings, London pics, my Paula Deen Recipe of the Month description AND pics, Randomness and a little of this and that.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting and Quite Content Belinda

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January Calendar Traditions

Good Wednesday morning!

"Mikie. Please take five GOOD pictures during the basketball game. I cannot take pictures when I'm helping Julie with the book."

Those were my exact words... and Mikie failed me. When I looked at the pictures later in the evening, there was a photo of the ref, the back of my head, the big "G" in the middle of the gym floor, the back of the cheerleaders' heads... You get the idea.

But there was ONE of Roxie running, dribbling, pony-tail swinging, and I had to be happy with the one. I am sharing it with you today.

RANDOMNESS - Mikie and I are mattress shopping. I know. You're probably thinking, "Thanks for sharing."

But, I will tell you this... As far as shopping for things that aren't really pretty (mattresses, dishwashers, air conditioners, heaters, commodes, etc.), mattress shopping is by far the most fun. Or should I say relaxing?

We made the mistake of trying the Tempur-Pedic mattresses first. Once the mattress conformed to my body, I told the salesperson to wrap it up and give Mikie the ticket. We were taking that baby home!

Of course, the $4,999 price tag made Mikie jump off that particular mattress and proceed to try every other mattress in the entire store... while I napped on MY new Tempur-Pedic.

As if I wasn't already sold on the comfort and pleasures of a Tempur-Pedic mattress, the salesperson made me sit up and put a LARGE metal ball between my back and the mattress.

I could not feel it. At all. And I'm like the Princess and the Pea. I can't even sleep on a wrinkle! I settled in for Snooze Number 2 while Mikie tested the other poor unloved mattresses.

The salesperson interrupted me a second time showing me the hand-held device which lifts your head and your feet so you can watch TV comfortably without actually moving anything but your thumb. Loved that feature, too!

I settled in for yet another little Snooze-Fest.

"Belinda. Wake up. We need to go home and talk about which mattress we want. It's closing time, and we can come back tomorrow."

"I know which mattress I want. Tell them to turn the lights off when they close up because I'm staying tonight. You can come back in the morning with all the money, and we'll take this sucker home... where it belongs!"

"Belinda. You're not allowed to spend the night in the showroom. We've got to go home. We've got to sleep on 'Lumpy' one more night." "Lumpy," of course, is the name of our old mattress.

As he dragged/pulled/walked me out of the showroom, I yelled over my shoulder, "I want three of those special pillows, too. You know... the $200 kind. Oh, and do you have a mattress with a heater in it?"

Mikie and I finally agreed on a mattress we both liked, but will not require Austin to drop out of his last year of college to allow us to pay for it... which is a good thing, I think.

I'm already feeling more well-rested just thinking about getting rid of "Lumpy."

Austin's Over-the-Pond Adventure

Austin boarded an airplane at 3:45 this morning (Alabama time) and is now flying home over the pond. He'll go to Chicago before heading to Atlanta, and then he'll be "Home, Sweet Home" around 10:00 tonight. I am SO excited.

Yesterday he rode The Eye (and enjoyed it), and he visited Harrod's and some other places on his "list." Oh, and he ate at McDonald's.

He has experienced so many new and exciting things, I cannot wait to hear all about them... and see ALL of his pictures.

I'll be sharing some of those on A Simple Life in the morning.

I know you are beyond thrilled, too. I can sense these things!

Wednesday Wisdom

"If you're not in the parade, you watch the parade. That's life." Mike Ditka (I am so happy Austin was able to BE in this particular parade!)

January Calendar Traditions

I love the Calendar Traditions because they are easy, fun and a little crazy sometimes. (And you can easily pick one or two and do them every year from now until the kids leave home!)

The Second Week in January - Letter Writing Week - This one’s pretty self-explanatory... Have everyone sit down and write a letter to a relative, an old friend, a new acquaintance! I LOVE getting real letters in the mail.

January 8 - Bubble Bath Day - Obviously, this will be fun for everyone! Buy a great-smelling bubble bath at Bath and Body Works, and let everyone take their time soaking in a nice warm bubble bath.

January 15 - National Hat Day - Have everyone wear their favorite hat during dinner. Be sure and take a picture.

January 19 - National Popcorn Day - This could become an annual Movie Night, too. Because everyone knows it is more fun to eat popcorn while watching a good movie.

January 23 - National Pie Day - Okay, Mom. Get busy. Why not make more than one or two different pies so everyone can have a choice.

Or better yet, START dinner with dessert (a piece of pie) and end with a bowl of soup or salad.

Or serve pie for breakfast! That would be a great way to start the day!

January 27 - Chocolate Cake Day - Read National Pie Day. Do it again, only with Chocolate Cake.

Have the most wonderful Wednesday. I'll be back in the morning with pictures from Jolly Ol' England and The Boy's Homecoming. I'll have a date for you and your child to try. Oh, and some Randomness.

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

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda
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