Monday, April 29, 2013

Mindless Monday, Blog Linkage

Good Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I think Austin's College Graduation will go down as one of my favorite "milestone moments."

The weather was perfect... cool, breezy and a little cloudy.

We had 20 family members and friends in attendance in our little section of the stadium to help cheer him on as he walked across the stage.

We had the BEST servers possible at Top of the River, and I was really pleased how fast everyone received their food, drink refills and anything and everything else we could possibly want.

Austin's cake/cupcake combo turned out very well, and everyone grabbed a cupcake as we left the restaurant... after 10:00 p.m.

Austin's cake was actually a brighter red, but I "photoshopped" the cake color to take some of the glare off.

All in all, it was a good... No. Make that "GREAT" evening, and one I will never forget.

We found out during the commencement speech Austin's graduation class was the second largest in JSU history. SEVEN HUNDRED SEVEN students graduated Friday night.

Dr. Meehan called out each and every graduate's full name... slowly and distinctly... with a five to ten second pause between each diploma recipient... which meant the list of names went on FOREVER.

Austin's name was smack dab in the middle, so an hour or so AFTER receiving his diploma, the last graduate walked across the stage, and we were free to be with our graduate.

I'll let the pics tell the rest of the story...

As soon as graduation was over, families start flooding onto the football field. More than half of our party had left earlier in the evening to wait at the restaurant, so we watched for Austin to "come to us" in the stands.

It wasn't long until Melia spotted The Boy/The Man.

It may be because I am his Mom, but The Boy/The Man kind of sticks out in a crowd, doesn't he?

And as he made his way to us, The Faulkner Five, it was evident The Boy had left the building.

Austin is a man now. A big, tall, strapping, good-looking young man.

He kind of took my breath away. Much like 22 years ago, when I held him for the first time as a 9 pound, 6 ounce big, long, strapping, good-looking bouncing baby boy.

Heavy, heavy sigh.

Do not get me wrong. I am NOT saying listening to the names of 706 students who were NOT The Boy was fun... but it was necessary.

And as we all know, when things aren't fun, The Enchanting Belinda tries to make it a little more bearable... by taking pictures in the stadium.

Roxie and Josh.

And because there was absolutely nothing else to do...

Katie joined the fun...

And finally, Zac.

DISCLAIMER - I think you all know, the only person really having fun taking pictures in the stadium was The Enchanting Belinda.

The kids cooperated, but let's face it. Their idea of fun and my idea of fun do not always agree.

I guess the sweetest moment of the evening (to me) happened when Josh jumped over the railing down to the football field to meet Austin as he walked toward us.

I don't want you to think Roxie wouldn't have been all over jumping the rail and greeting her brother, but her flowy dress stopped her in her tracks. (Well, the dress and my hand on her shoulder!)

Mikie took over my usual role as the WE-HAVE-TO-GET-TO-THE-RESTAURANT-AND-GET-EVERYONE-SEATED-IN-OUR-PARTY-AS-SOON-AS-POSSIBLE maniac, and I continued to relax and enjoy the moment.

You see, I've been the "maniac" for years and years, and I've finally come to the realization I cannot control the restaurant... or the workers... or the food prep... or the time we have to wait when our extended family goes out to eat together.

It has also come to my attention, there is no one in our extended family who will starve if we indeed do have to wait for a table or our food.

Within two miles of Top of the River are countless fast-food drive-thrus, and if the worse possible scenario plays out ("I'm sorry, folks. We've run out of all of our food. You'll have to leave the restaurant as soon as possible."), we will ALL survive until we are told to "Pull up to Window #1, please."

It's okay.

Austin and Grandmother.

Austin and Grandma. (Can you find the photo bomber in the picture?)

Amber, Austin and Jared... and do not forget Baby Mackenzie who will be arriving mid-June.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Lovely Melia. It was a huge night for her, too. She and Austin have been dating five years this May, and have been separated by the 90-minute drive to and from JSU most weekdays for the past four years. It hasn't always been easy, but they have made the best of the situation.

Melia's mom, dad and brother celebrated with us Friday night, too. And The Faulkner Five are looking forward to attending Melia's graduation next May.

The milestones just keep a-comin'!

RANDOMNESS #2 - I first posted this little nugget in May of 2009. I decided it would be okay to post it ONE MORE TIME.

The Gift of Austin

Ah... The Gift of Austin. Our very first gift. Our most anticipated gift. The gift we stared at for hours at a time. The gift we held for days on end (even though everyone told us it would spoil the gift). The gift we ran to whenever he made a sigh, whimper, sneeze, cough or coo. The gift we (I) blinded with the camera because every second of every minute of every day was worth recording for posterity. The gift we read to, sang to, played with, dropped everything we might be doing to fulfill whatever he wanted RIGHT THAT SECOND. The gift that never skipped a bath. The gift that never had a dirty face or nose or hands or outfit. The gift we practiced all of our new parenting skills on... and yet the gift survived and thrived.

I remember sitting at a band concert two years ago, and hearing Austin's name announced as the new Drum Major for our high school band. Mike and I were stunned (as was Austin). He was only a junior. He had no conducting experience. Mike and I did not know how to teach him this skill. What were we going to do? How was my little freckle-faced, green-eyed boy going to take on such a huge responsibility?

A short three and a half months later, Mike and I were sitting in the bleachers as a 6'3" young man in a white Drum Major uniform walked into the football stadium with the band following close behind. We watched him step onto his podium, call the band to attention and then direct the band. Was it a "perfect" first time? No. He had a little help from the band director's wife. Was it amazing to realize that my little freckle-faced, green-eyed boy was showing traits I had never imagined him having before? Yes, indeed. Who was this young man... so tall and self-assured (on the outside)? I had no idea, but I wanted to know him. Just like I had known the little boy before him.

The Gift of Austin has been talkative, self-absorbed (at times) and does not like to multi-task. The Gift of Austin has also been giving, trustworthy, hardworking, loving and a true homebody. He has taken his role of big brother seriously. (We found out how seriously when Josh became ill.) Does that mean I never get angry with him? No. Does that mean he takes out the trash without being told? NO! (When is that going to happen?) Does that mean he is a perfect teenager? Sorry... No such thing.

For a woman who lives for the "firsts" in life, I have loved sharing the majority of those with Austin. The "firsts" coming up in the next few days, months and even years are a little scary for both of us, I think. But Austin is up for the challenge (even though I may not be).

He is, has always been, and will always be, my joy.

RANDOMNESS #3 - I'll be speaking at a Faithful Moms group this Thursday, and I am pretty excited.

This is what my young friend, Kristel, messaged me about the meeting:

"The mommies chat in the kitchen/living room while the kids play inside/outside/all around us. There will be a light breakfast and drinks. Usually everyone eats and chats for the first hour or so, it's very casual. There is no specific topic. Our purpose is to encourage mothers as Godly women, mothers and wives, and also to pass down the truths of our beliefs to our children. Just so you know, the children at the meeting will be in infancy all the way to a few school-aged kids, they will be playing while we meet, so noise and interruptions are typically the norm."

Except for the "difference in age" thing, these are my people, and I cannot wait.

RANDOMNESS #4 - Mike and I attended our first Sunday School Social with our new Sunday School Class Saturday evening... and it was so much fun.

I think/I hope/I pray I made some new friends this past weekend.

Since Mother's Day is coming up (and since this story came up around the dinner table Saturday night), I decided to re-post it today.

A Mother's Day Tale

My very first Mother's Day. I remember it like it was yesterday... not 1991. Mike was determined to do everything the "right way" to make it a very special day indeed.

He knew I was supposed to have a corsage. However, when I was growing up, you wore a red corsage if your mother was living, and a white corsage if your mother had passed away. I don't know if that is a Southern tradition... or just practiced in my little part of the world. That being said, Mikie didn't know the rules.

He called our local florist in Cullman and asked for a corsage for a "first time mother." (Code for BIG!) The florist asked him, "Is the mother living or deceased?" This totally threw Mike.

He thought she was kidding, so he responded, "Now, why would I buy a deceased mother a corsage?" The florist was not amused.

"I'll take care of it," was all she said.

When Mikie went to pick up my Mother's Day corsage the afternoon before Mother's Day, he picked up the biggest orchid corsage (with matching ribbons) I had ever seen. I shouldn't have been surprised thinking back on my giant homecoming mum, but I was.

"Wow. That's quite a corsage," I said weakly.

"Yeah. The florist was a nut though. She kept asking me if you were dead or alive. But in the end, she did a great job, don't you think?" he asked, pleased. (To Mikie, bigger is always better in the corsage department.)

I didn't even ask what he was talking about because I had started wondering what to wear with the giant purple orchid. What I had originally picked out was a floral dress which would have looked wonderful with a small red corsage, but not with a giant purple one.

I finally settled on a celery green dress (solid), and while it might not have been the BEST color choice, Austin was only three months old. (Code for I DIDN'T FIT INTO ALL MY OLD CLOTHES YET, SO IT WAS THE ONLY OTHER CHOICE!)

The flower was so large, I couldn't hold Austin on my left hip because his face and head kept getting buried in the flower. Plus, he kept grabbing for the ribbons. (The only thing worse than a giant purple corsage is a dead giant purple corsage.) I balanced him on my right hip for most of the day.

A few days later, I explained the tradition to Mike. "When they were asking if the mother was alive or deceased, they meant MY mother," I explained.

"Oh," he said. He paused, thinking. "I liked that you were the only one wearing an orchid though. It made it more special." (Code for I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU A PURPLE ORCHID EVERY YEAR FOR MOTHER'S DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!) And he has.

In the year 2009, I can count on one hand the corsages I see on Sunday mornings... even on the older women. But you can always spot me. I'm the very proud Mom wearing the slightly smaller (NOW) orchid corsage in the upper right balcony.

It's fun. It's tradition. It's a story to tell. And I love it!

Blog Linkage

1. Go to eighteen25 under My Blog List and click on today's post entitled "Mother's Day Gift." If using twine is your Mom's thing, this would be a great gift for her... or a birthday or Christmas gift for a different female family member.

2. Do you like no-bake desserts? Well, I do. Especially if chocolate is involved. Go to Six Sisters' Stuff under My Blog List and click on today's post entitled "No-Bake Reese's Fudge Bars." I haven't made them yet, but it is only a matter of time. ("Time" meaning this evening!)

Have a most wonderful Monday. I'll be back Friday with... Hmmm. I don't even have a clue!

This could be interesting.

Take care, and I'll talk to you the end of the week.


The Enchanting Belinda

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Happenings, Blog Linkage

Good Friday morning!

RANDOMNESS - The Boy is graduating from college this evening. (Wow. That sounds weird.)

The College Graduation is very different from the High School Graduation (for me). Unlike four years ago when I was in the "depths of despair," today I am excited, happy and looking forward to this momentous occasion. (Wow. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder, doesn't it?)

And I'm not kidding. I'm not sad. I don't see this milestone as a bad, sad event that tears my baby boy out of my arms and throws him into the abyss... also known as "college life."

He's worked hard. He's learned life lessons, as well as classroom lessons. He has thrived in the college environment.

He's not a kid any more.

But I'm still his "Mom."

My life lessons will continue. Being a "Mom" to a young man is very different to being a "Mom" to a little guy.

The love continues, but the advice will only need to be given when asked for by The Boy... not any time I feel the need to share my wisdom. (Weird, weird, weird.)

And I guess for accuracy sake, I need to change his blog nickname from The Boy to The Man.

And Mike will no longer be referred to as Mikie, but instead The Slightly Older Man and Father of a College Graduate.

Luckily, my blog nickname will not be changing.

I am, and forever will continue to be, "enchanting."

Everyone knows, "enchanting" just gets better and better with age.

Lucky 2013!

Austin had to leave at 8:00 this morning for graduation practice, so he took everything with him to beautify before the ceremony. Thankfully, he has access to friends' apartments, showers, etc. today and this evening.

This is a picture of Sparkle the day Austin left for college four years ago.

This is Copper four years ago. Dejected and forlorn.

This is Sparkle TODAY! I couldn't even find Copper to take his pic. He's off chasing a squirrel or something. I think they can sense my mood. Pretty amazing difference, huh?

Blog Linkage - Go to Big Mama under My Blog List and scroll down to the heading "Previous Posts." Click! Read her blog post entitled "The ladies' special" and enjoy! She and I are in total agreement about exercise.


Weekend Happenings

After graduation tonight, we'll be feasting at Top of the River in Anniston with about 20 family members and friends.

We'll be eating the cutest cake ever. (I'll show you Monday... and just so you will not think otherwise, I DID NOT MAKE THIS CAKE! That is why I referred to it as "the cutest cake ever.")

And then we'll be driving home.

The Brothers and Brad are supposed to be going fishing in Guntersville with their guide and friend, Alex, Saturday and Sunday, but it looks like rain might postpone their trip. (This is the trip Bev and I gave the guys for Christmas. If it works out well, this could be a gift we give EVERY Christmas. I think it might be a keeper, but we'll let you know.)

Saturday night, Mike and I will be attending our first Sunday School Social with our new adult Sunday School class at one of the couples' home. We had been in the Youth Department for six or seven years, so when we started looking for a new Sunday School home about a year ago, it wasn't as easy as you might think.

Conversation with a room full of adults is a little different from greeting and meeting teenagers every week, and it took us (which means me) a little time to adjust.

We visited several classes, but decided to join a new 8:00 a.m. Sunday School class a few weeks ago... and let me tell you, it feels pretty good.

Mike and I are pretty much right where we need to be as far as our age, age of our children, stage of our empty/emptying nest and other things that bind the 50-something crowd together.

And that's a good thing.

Plus, several of the couples in this room are starting to get grandbabies... which doesn't matter so much to Mikie as it does to me. I could look at pictures of grandbabies and listen to stories about grandbabies all day long.

And that is not an exaggeration.

As Phil from Duck Dynasty says, "It makes me happy, happy, happy."

Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back Monday with graduation pics, a story or two and more.

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


Always and Forevermore... The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mindless Monday

Good Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - As predicted/hoped/prayed for, after four long years The Boy came home from college!

Not surprisingly, Austin walked past the balloons without a response.

"Did you like your balloons?" I asked after several minutes.

"Oh. I wondered about those. Those are JSU colors, you know?"

"Yes. Yes, I know. That's why I bought them, and Roxie and I decorated... to celebrate your homecoming from four years of college."

"Well, that makes sense. I kept wondering why you had balloons on the front of the house in JSU colors."

As you can imagine, it was the beginning of a good, good weekend.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I took prom pictures of Katie and Tim at Vulcan Park Saturday night... and we had the best time.

Here are just a few...

How handsome is this couple?

I know Katie belongs to me and mine, but is she or is she not the most gorgeous Senior chick you've ever seen?

Do you see what I did there?

I put the word "Senior" in the question, and that will keep me out of trouble when the most gorgeous Sophomore chick reads this post.

I am a genius!

But, back to Katie and Tim. Vulcan Park is "their place," so they wanted their prom pictures taken there... and it was a perfect choice. We practically had the Park to ourselves. No other "prom people" showed up until we were leaving.

It was a beautiful day for a prom.

NOTE - I keep thinking the Birmingham Zoo would be a cool place to take prom pictures, but every time I mention it to someone, they roll their eyes into the back of their head.

Is it just me, or would flamingos, elephants, giraffes and zebras make really fun backdrops for two high school kids in prom duds?

Could I be wrong?

No. I didn't think so either.

RANDOMNESS #3 - During our Sunday School prayer yesterday morning, the gentleman who was praying began by saying, "Good morning, God."

Then he prayed the rest of the "beginning of Sunday School class" prayer.

I thought, "What a sweet, sweet relationship he has with God to be able to talk with him in that way. So sincere. So relaxed. Just like he was talking with a member of his very own family."

And then my thoughts came back and hit me on the forehead when the realization set in I could have the same exact conversation with my Heavenly Father. The only thing stopping me... was me.

I have always loved hearing small children pray, too.

"Thank you for our concrete driveway."

"Thank you for my new shoes that light up when I run really, really fast."

"Thank you for Poppa and Nanna, but not Tyler because he hit me on my arm when Poppa and Nanna turned around, and when I told on him he said I hit him first, and I think Poppa and Nanna believed him instead of me... and now I wish I had a different brother."

So sincere. So relaxed. Just like they were talking with a member of their very own family.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I talk to God in "list form."

"Thank you, God, for ____________, ____________, ____________, etc. Forgive me, God, for ____________, ____________, ____________, etc."

And other times I pray in "memory form."

"Our Dear Most Heavenly Father. I come to you today to ask ____________, ____________, ____________, etc."

I need to stop and remind myself to talk to my Heavenly Father just as if I were talking with a member of my very own family.

Because I am a member of His family, you see.

And I should never, ever take that for granted.

RANDOMNESS #4 - I was reading my newest copy of Family Fun Magazine and it was the Travel Awards issue.

Maybe it is just me, but it's a little depressing how few of these TOP TEN FAVORITE FAMILY DESTINATIONS we have actually visited:

1. Yellowstone National Park
2. Acadia National Park
3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
4. Grand Canyon National Park
5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
6. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
7. Yosemite National Park
9. Glacier National Park
10. Pearl Harbor Visitor Center

It doesn't help we live at least 10,000 miles away from most of these "destinations."

I am happy to report, we did a little better when comparing our travels with the TOP TEN MUSEUMS, ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS.

1. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (Mike and I visited this Museum on our Honeymoon, and Austin and Mike visited during Austin's Senior Trip to Washington, D.C.)
2. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
3. Saint Louis Zoo
4. Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
5. Museum of Science (Boston)
6. Steinhart Aquarium (San Francisco)
7. The Field Museum (Chicago)
8. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)
9. Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (Read 1. above!)
10. Tennessee Aquarium (Yep! We've all been to this Aquarium... TWICE!)

See what I mean. THREE out of TEN. Much, much better.

However, the next list is where my family really shines. TOP TEN AMUSEMENT PARKS.

1. Disney's Magic Kingdom Park (CHECK!)
2. Disneyland
3. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
4. Islands of Adventure (CHECK!)
5. Disney California Adventure
6. Cedar Point
7. Disney's Epcot (CHECK!)
8. Disney's Animal Kingdom (CHECK!)
9. Hersheypark
10. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon (We didn't actually go there, but we were within five miles of this park... so I'm going to count it! CHECK!)

That's it for today, Folks. I'm working on four different scrapbooks which must be completed by May 15 (of this year), and I didn't gather any useful information this past weekend to share with you.

I'll try to do better Monday through Thursday of this week.

I'll be back Friday morning with lots of Graduation Celebration News, I am sure.

Take care, and I'll talk to you the end of the week.


The Enchanting Belinda

In all the kids' scrapbooks, every time we visited Vulcan Park, I would always post a picture like this on the last page and write "The End."

Is it just me, or is that still hilarious?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weekend Happenings, Blog Linkage, Brown Sugar Cookies, Friday Afternoon Tradition, Birthday Traditions, Fun (AND SIMPLE) Summer Activities for Little Guys and Girls, Quotable Quotes, Mom Tip

Good Friday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Boy is coming home today.

And not just for the weekend.

He's moving out of the dorm.

He's bringing his college recliner and his mini-refrigerator and his television/television stand/DVD collection HOME!

Of course, "home" will soon be a relative term. Austin will be going on job interviews here and there and everywhere. I don't know God's plans for his life, but I do trust and believe with all my heart His plans will be best.

But today... Today he is coming home.

And I am incredibly happy.

But sometimes,I still miss this little guy.

Heavy, heavy sigh.

RANDOMNESS #2 - The next week will be very eventful because it will be Graduation Week for our family. Austin's graduation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Friday, April 26.

A cake must be ordered.

A new tie must be purchased... JSU colors, of course.

I need another pedicure and about two hours in the massage chair, thank you very much.

I don't have to shop for a graduation gift because it was decided long ago Mike and I would be giving The Boy his college ring and having his diploma and a beautiful picture of Jacksonville (given to him by The Lovely Melia) framed and ready to go by the time he has an office or an apartment... whichever comes first.

I also have a surprise for him, but since he stops by A Simple Life from time to time, I will have to tell you all about that at a later date.

After graduation in Jacksonville, we (family and friends) will be heading to Top of the River for a Fried Fish Feast of epic proportions.

And I will now commence with my breathing exercises.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Last weekend, Roxie and Friends decided to make tie-dye t-shirts in the driveway.

It's only a matter of time before BIG HAIR makes a comeback... and I cannot wait!

Quotable Quotes - I found a couple of quotes about laughter... and I took some pictures of laughter... and I thought I would share.

"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it." Bill Cosby

“The earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (I love this one.)

Blog Linkage

1. Go to www.thehouseofhendrix.com and scroll down, down, down until you see the April 11 post entitled "20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday."

While you're scrolling down, down, down, you might want to look at some of her other posts, too.

The chick has some great ideas.

Brown Sugar Cookies

I haven't had time to try these, but I've promised to print this recipe for the last three posts. If you get a chance to make these before I do, let me know how it turns out!

Oh... And it's a Pinterest recipe.

Cookie Recipe

You will need the following:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour

1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, Karo, sugar and egg until very light and fluffy.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat together until well mixed.

3. Roll into golf-ball sized balls. Place 3 cookies on each cookie sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 10 to 13 minutes, or just until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Icing Recipe

2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple extract
2 tablespoons dark Karo syrup
1 tablespoon milk

1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.

2. Spoon into a Ziploc bag. Snip off the corner of the bag and pipe onto slightly warm cookies.

3. Allow to set for 20 to 30 minutes before packaging up cookies.

Mom Tip

Here's a Pinterest Mom Tip I found yesterday. I liked it!

Mom Tip for getting the house picked up! Using ping-pong balls, play the Clutter Busting Game.

Each person chooses a ball, completes the task written on the ball and then chooses another ball.

After 30 minutes, whoever has the most balls gets a prize. It could be a "no-chores" day or the child gets to pick the Family Movie for Movie Night that evening.

The Enchanting Belinda Says - I think this would be a great Friday Afternoon Tradition. It would help the family get ready for a fun weekend!

Birthday Traditions

These ideas also came from Pinterest.

1. Build the excitement with a COUNTDOWN. There are many ways to do this. This week we counted down with a chalkboard.

2. Decorate the bathroom mirror with a BIRTHDAY MESSAGE. Use a window marker, dry erase marker or lipstick.

3. Window marker your car with “Honk! It’s Lily’s 10th birthday!” This has delighted my children for years. With every honk, we all cackle with joy. (You can buy them at Michaels for $2.99).

4. Candles in their breakfast.

5. Put water balloons in their bath.

I shared the inspiration for these ideas under Blog Linkage today. (There are 15 more ideas on this page alone!

Fun (AND SIMPLE) Summer Activities for Little Guys and Girls

1. Glow sticks in the bathtub.

2. Writing your ABC's with licorice strings.

3. Fossil Digger. They have dino bones at The Dollar Tree. Bury them in the sandbox and get your paint brushes ready to dust away dirt.

4. Shave with daddy. Use popsicle sticks, of course. Use LOTS of shaving cream! Take LOTS of pictures!

5. Pick an Animal Day. Pick ANY animal and teach them everything you can about that particular animal. Draw it. Color it. Act like it. Watch a movie about it. Visit it at the Zoo!

6. Grab your nets and go Creature Catching! See how many creatures you can catch in one outing.

7. Make an obstacle course with crepe paper streamers. Use your hallway. They crawl and step over all of it while trying not to touch the streamers.

8. Mini Marshmallow Construction. Give them toothpicks and a bowl of colored mini marshmallows and you've got a good hour of down time.

Weekend Happenings

I have three things "on the book" for this weekend.

1. I'm going to be photographing Katie and her handsome date, Tim, in their prom attire at Vulcan. (I cannot wait!)

2. The Brothers will be cutting yards.

3. Mike and I will be attending the 17th Annual Garden Art Party Live and Silent Auction benefiting Alzheimer's of Central Alabama. This event is so much fun.

All three of the happenings "on the book" for this weekend take place Saturday.

Unless I come up with some good ideas, Friday and Sunday could be very, very quiet around here.

I'm thinking I may NOT try to have any good ideas. A quiet Friday and Sunday do not sound bad to me.

Not bad at all.

Have a cool, breezy Spring weekend. I'll be back Monday with prom pictures (Katie), Welcome Home pictures (Austin) and pup pics (Copper and Sparkle). I hope I'll be trying a new recipe to share, and I'm working on a kid party with a Christ-centered devotion. (I may or may not have that finished by Monday, but I'm a-tryin'.)

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


The Enchanting (and Soon-to-Be Mother of a College Graduate) Belinda

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mindless Monday, A Spring Break Money Saving Plan, Our Family's Continuing Story - The Journey to Good Mental Health

Good Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - The Boy left yesterday evening for another week at JSU. His LAST week at JSU. It's been four years, and on Thursday, April 18, 2013, he will have completed his Bachelor's of Science Degree in Communications.

On Friday, April 26, 2013, he will graduate summa cum laude (which means he maintained good grades), and we (his entire extended family) will eat at Top of the River to celebrate.

I know Top of the River probably isn't the fanciest or most obvious choice for a graduation celebration, but we have history there.

Over the past four years, we've met there on his actual birthday and other days in between to slow down and catch up... because weekends are crazy, crazy around here, you see.

I've come to terms with celebrating at Top of the River because...

1. The Boy loves Top of the River.

2. I don't mind smelling like deep-fried hush puppies as long as everyone around me smells like deep-fried hush puppies.

3. They have plenty of room for the 20 or so people we are expecting to celebrate this milestone.

4. And the clatter of platters and the family-friendly atmosphere will absorb any and all noise we could possibly make during this joyous occasion.

RANDOMNESS #2 - The kids attended the Tim Hawkins Concert Saturday night and absolutely loved it. They came home retelling each and every one of Tim Hawkins' "bits" in between bites of Chocolate Cobbler and Chips Ahoy Pudding Cake. (For the record, I also had a Mixed Berry Cobbler, but the kids weren't having that. No, sir. Chocolate or bust!)

I asked Austin to buy the most recent Tim Hawkins DVD, and The Boy remembered! YES!

We watched it last night during our Bible Study, and we laughed out loud... or as the kids say LOL.

It was a good way to end a hectic weekend.

RANDOMNESS #3 - My niece, Amber, had a wonderful baby shower yesterday. She looked so pretty and she has the craftiest family and friends. (I took a few pics so you could see.)

Mackenzie's nursery is going to be pink and green paisley... decorated with hoot owls. Too cute.

I loved this. After we signed in, we had to put a green thumb print on this picture to hang in Mackenzie's room.

See the thumb print closest to the baby owl? Do you?

That's Great-Aunt Belinda's thumb print... right next to Mackenzie!

One of Amber's peeps actually made this wreath. How pretty is this?

Also, I want to mention something else I loved about the shower. On the back of Amber's invitation, this little poem was added.

One small request
that won't be too hard.

Please bring a book
instead of a card.

Whether Cat in the Hat
or Winnie the Pooh,

You can sign the book
with a note from you.

Baby Mackenzie will become
very smart indeed.

If we start early,
she will soon learn to read.

Needless to say, Mackenzie already has a very well stocked library awaiting her arrival.

RANDOMNESS #4 - I was blessed and honored to teach a Sunday School class yesterday on "Parenting God's Way - Birth to 5 Years-Old." (It was a one-time thing.)

It is one of the sweetest times in life... beginning a new family.

I think I may have made some new best friends. Yes, I was just a wee bit older than they were, but I think we bonded in such a good way.

You see, they are still "making" newborn babies... and I am still head-over-heals in LOVE with newborn babies.

We had so much in common it was a little scary!

RANDOMNESS #5 - "Our Family's Continuing Story - The Journey to Good Mental Health" - I read the following blog post this week, and I don't want to just suggest you read it. I want to URGE you to read it.

Go to www.aholyexperience.com written by Ann Voskamp. Scroll down (FOREVER) until you see the post entitled "What Christians Need to Know about Mental Health" dated April 8, 2013.

Here is a tiny excerpt...

"There’s no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don’t shame cancer, you treat cancer. You don’t treat those with hurting insides as less than. You get them the most treatment."

NOTE - Ann's post is specifically about depression. Our family's personal story revolves around OCD and panic attacks.

Please read the post in it's entirety. Please.

I'm starting a new heading for future posts today. It will simply be called "Our Family's Continuing Story - The Journey to Good Mental Health." My prior posts regarding this subject have been called "Josh's Journey" and "Panic Attacks" (and you can read those posts any time by clicking on those headings under "Labels" in the sidebar).

You can also go to www.belindafaulkner.blogspot.com (my first blog) and click on the same headings for even more posts regarding our family's on-going struggle with mental illness.

I have to admit, I've been discouraged when it comes to talking about mental illness, but after reading Ann's post, I am reminded and encouraged to not be silent.

Being quiet will not help.

Being quiet will not heal.

Being quiet will never help another.

Being quiet may seem easier, but in the end it is just more painful.

Don't worry. I do not intend to be a "Debbie Downer" kind of blogger... and if your name is Debbie, I apologize.

However, when the subject comes up around these parts, I will address it!


To be honest, I thought I saw this on Pinterest, but I cannot find it anywhere.

So let's be clear. This was NOT an original idea.

I don't know where it originated, but be assured it was not in my head!

That being said, it is a good one!

1. Get a manila envelope and place it in a drawer.

2. Beginning the first Monday in January (and continuing every Monday for the entire year), you will put the dollar amount that coincides with the number of weeks into the envelope.

Week 1 - $1
Week 2 - $2
Week 3 - $3
Week 4 - $4
Week 5 - $5...

I think you get the idea.

By the time you get to the 52nd week of the year (and you put $52 in the envelope that week), you will have saved $1,138!

At least I think it was $1,138. That's the number that is stuck in my head. I don't really feel like doing the math this morning, but trust me...

There will be over $1,000 in the envelope at the end of a year.

This is something I am looking forward to starting January 2014! And I can't wait to spend on something special Spring Break 2015!

I hope you have the best week. I really, really do. I'll be back Friday morning with a new recipe (Brown Sugar Cookies), SPRING pictures, a new date and a little more. (Well, that's the plan. We'll see. We'll see.)

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


The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Since this post was a little serious today, I thought I'd leave you with some pictures from a year ago... just to get your Spring Fix!

I've been "best friends" with Ree (a/k/a The Pioneer Woman) for a year now. Can you believe it?

And when I say "best," I mean we met briefly at her book signing and I was so starstruck I couldn't even say, "Hi!"

An Easter pic...

Another Easter pic...

A fun photo shoot with these two...

And a crazy Copper pic... for good measure!
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