Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Lake (Tips and Tweaks), The Shortest Beach Trip EVER

Good Wednesday morning!

ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! ANNOUNCEMENT! - Beginning NEXT MONDAY, August 5, I will go back to the Monday AND Friday ONLY posting schedule.

I had a lot of catching up to do, so I broke my own rule and posted throughout the week.

Again, beginning MONDAY, August 5, I will only be posting Monday AND Friday!

But until then...

RANDOMNESS #1 - As the last 21 days of Summer heats up, I realize even though it has been a "different" kind of Summer for me and mine, we have still been able to check off a lot of activities from our Summer "To-Do" List.

Of course, I'm in panic mode now. I will be trying to cram in as much "family" as I possibly can between Austin's crazy two and three job work schedules, Josh's work and "moving to Hanceville" schedules and Roxie's "I have to be with my friends every minute or I will absolutely die," babysitting, dog sitting and Summer Reading schedules.

For those of you with small (or smaller) children, let me just tell you now... It gets a little more complicated as the nest begins to empty.

You might want to think about hiring an assistant.

Or joining a spa.

Or moving to a beach house for six weeks of every Summer.

(Because if you have a Beach House... they will come.)

RANDOMNESS #2 - The Shortest Beach Trip EVER - Mike and I decided Friday of our Lake Vacation to go to the beach for a VERY short amount of time. There was an opportunity. There was a place to stay. The kids weren't free to go, but we were.

We made arrangements to leave Thursday morning and return Saturday morning July 25 through July 27).


Believe it or not, Friday was perhaps the MOST beautiful day I've ever had on the beach. It wasn't hot and muggy. The water was completely and incredibly clear. Our private beach wasn't crowded at all.

If you had to pick one day in 2013 to go to the beach, Friday, July 26, 2013 was definitely THE day.

Today and tomorrow, I'll post the pic/narrative thing for ya!

Since it was technically a one-day trip, I won't scrapbook it chronologically. I organize it by subject matter...

Me and Mike
Sea Birds
Beach Umbrellas
Restaurants We Visited
Things We Didn't Do (But Maybe Next Time)
Things That Caught My Eye

I'll be sharing the Me and Mikie Section now...

I know there is only one picture of me, but you'll have to be satisfied with the one!

And now for the mesmerizing Beach Umbrella Section...

I bet you're feeling really good about your vacation pics right about now, aren't you?

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to share Sea Birds and Things We Didn't Do (But Maybe Next Time).

Yep. That sounds good to me!

Tips and Tweaks for the Lake Vacation

While the Annual Lake Vacation totally worked for Mike, Austin and Roxie, Josh and I need a little tweaking to make it TOTALLY work for us, too.

1. While the days were much more laid back than anything at home, I still did laundry and cooked dinner. It wasn't too much or anything like that, but the definition of a vacation for a Mom is usually "no cooking and no laundry."

To tweak this tiny detail, next year Austin, Josh and Roxie will all be given a night to cook.

Mikie will grill two nights, I will cook dinner one night and we will go out to eat one night.

Everyone will need to give me their menus and grocery lists before we leave on the trip, and I will assign them a night to prepare dinner.

Everyone will also be assigned ONE laundry day. On Roxie's laundry day, she will be responsible for gathering and washing ONE load. Drying the same load. Folding and putting away the laundry on or before midnight of her assigned day.

Austin and Josh will be assigned a laundry day, too.

See... It's already looking more like a "Mom Vacation."

2. We had days with guests and days without. I wouldn't mind adding another day of guests. Entertaining on the Lake is very, very easy. (We had hoped Bev and her family could come up one more time, but their schedule didn't permit... so maybe next year.)

3. Josh and Roxie need a little "Town Time," so next year, they will be encouraged to get out and explore. They can check out Guntersville, Boaz, Albertville, Huntsville and Scottsboro. They are the kids who actually get antsy if they have too much down time. Austin is the only one in our family who can instantly and totally "chill" for any length of time you give him. It's a gift.

4. While the cabin we stayed in was very nice, it had tiny, tiny bathrooms. We looked around when we were in the boat, and found another VRBO in the same area. It is a little larger, has two screened in back porches (and I'm assuming a little larger bathrooms).

We're checking into renting that specific house for our Second Annual Lake Vacation.

Other than the above-listed items, it was a really good way to spend a week.

Here are a just a few "tips" that work for The Faulkner Five.

1. We made muffins AND biscuits AND gravy every morning. You could choose between three different kinds of muffins, biscuit and gravy OR biscuit and jelly, three different kinds of Pop Tarts or four different kinds of cereal.

Since everyone gets up at different times, they can pick and choose from the above menu and easily warm their breakfast in the microwave, if necessary.

2. Lunch consisted of sandwiches, fruit and leftovers. When Mike grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken, we made sure he grilled extra, and I kept those items front and center in the fridge so they would be eaten quickly.

We ate lunch and dinner together.

3. I made one-pot meals for dinner, and instead of cooking several vegetables and bread, I served two or three different fruits and sliced tomatoes with each meal.

Sunday - Grilled Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Monday - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Tuesday - Go-Out-to-Eat Night
Wednesday - Grilled Chicken/Loaded Baked Potatoes
Thursday - Baked Spaghetti
Friday - Chicken and Dumplings

Oh, and I promised to give you the Final Official Fish Count today, didn't I?

Mike - 19
Austin - 8
Josh - 2 (Remember... He had to come home earlier in the week.)
Roxie - 3

TOTAL - 32

Not bad!

I'll be back tomorrow morning with Part Two of The Shortest Beach Trip Ever and pics.

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


The Enchanting Belinda

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lake - Day Seven, Quotable Quotes

Good Tuesday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Well, it's official. The kids ARE indeed trying to kill me.

Would it have been too much to ask of Josh NOT to sit grinning like an idiot as we finalized his apartment move-in date? Would it?

He practically skipped to his truck after all the papers were signed.

And in the name of all that is good and pleasant and right in this world, would it really, REALLY hurt anything or anybody if we TOTALLY did away with high school registration altogether? Would it?

These are the questions I am throwing out today.

I already know the answers, so do not feel obligated to reply.

In case you're wondering, The Man/The Boy did NOT take a job in Alaska... so at least one of my kiddos loved me yesterday.

One out of three ain't bad.

RANDOMNESS #2 - I broke down and bought Greek Yogurt a couple of days ago.

While I have always been a lover of the "sugared-up" yogurt, I am not a yogurt purist. I like flavored yogurt... and yogurt with sprinkles... and yogurt with chocolate chips... and yogurt with caramel... and very flavorful yogurt that helps with regulation.

If you give me a cup of "real" yogurt and "real, unsweetened" fruit to eat... How can I say this?

I'm going to give it right back to you!


The last two or three years, I have watched the Greek Yogurt craze grow with interest.

It's more expensive.

It's a larger portion.

And John Stamos is the spokesperson.

To be honest, John Stamos is what finally tipped the scales. I've loved Mr. Stamos since he was Blackie on General Hospital. And please, do not get me started on why I still watch Full House episodes. (HINT - It isn't because I'm a big fan of the Olsen twins. I'm Team Uncle Jesse, all the way!)

Let's get back to the Randomness at hand. I bought four Greek Yogurts, all different flavors.

I have tried three of the four, and to be honest, I am a little nervous about trying the final flavor.

I do not like Greek Yogurt.

There. I said it. I feel better now.

And because I do not mind receiving constructive (kind) criticism, I would like to offer my Greek friends the following "tips and tweaks" for their namesake yogurt...

1. Add sprinkles.

2. Add caramel.

3. Add chocolate.

4. Lots and lots of chocolate.

You don't have to thank me. Remember, I'm a giver!

Quotable Quotes - I saw this quote on my blog journeys this morning:

"It takes a long time to grow an old friend." John Leonard

True. True.

The Lake - Day Seven

Day Seven... our last full day at the Lake.

Gloom, despair and agony on me.

I wanted the last day to be the best day, but because Josh was already gone and The Lovely Melia and Sweet Taylor had to leave mid-afternoon, that was an impossibility.

What do I do when things don't go as planned?

After a necessary (and rather long pouting period), I start working on Plan B. Plan B was simply "to fish."

And fish we did.

The Chick can catch a fish or two.

And she always tries to take it off the hook by herself.

This was declared the "lucky lure" for the day. I liked it because it matched Roxie's shirt.

Austin caught his fair share of fish, too. (I didn't want you to think he was just another pretty face.)

Except for the red sun spot on the edge or Roxie's cap, this would have been a great silhouette.

Four out of five Faulkners... boating off into the sunset.

And speaking of sunsets, we saw some beautiful examples of God's handiwork each and every night. (Mikie and The Brothers saw a few sunrises, but I have to admit I missed those.)


For some reason, I am drawn to birds and bird pictures. We were obviously fishing near a crane habitat because there were four or five different cranes watching from the shore as we fished.

Pretty cool, huh?

Have a lovely Tuesday. I'll be back Wednesday morning with my "Tips and Tweaks" list for an annual week-long Lake Vacation with the fam, the final Fish Count and a little something I like to call "The Shortest Beach Trip EVER" (narrative AND pics).

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


The Enchanting Belinda

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mindless Monday, Lake Vacation - Day Six

Good Monday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Roxie left me last night. That's right. She left... for six nights... and six (almost seven) days... to go to the beach with a friend.

I am beyond devastated.

Six (almost seven) days is just too, too long for a 51 year-old Mom to be separated from her 16 year-old Chick.

Plus, she's missing Junior Registration tomorrow, and it was going to be the first time since I've been a Mom (22 years) I did NOT have to go to registration and stand in the non-air-conditioned high school in long lines for hours and hours.

And now I have to stand with her poor friends in the lines because the only way she gets a locker beside her friends is to register in line beside her friends.

And I know as much as her friends love me (and they do), they would rather register without a Mom present. Even if it is The Enchanting Belinda.

And as much as I love her friends (and I do), I would rather they registered without THIS Mom.

I've decided to make the most of it. I've called all the Chicks and I know what they're wearing, so I can pick out my outfit tonight, too.

It appears Nike shorts, t-shirts, flops and straight hair will be the outfit for the day.

And then we're all going to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch.

It's going to be wicked cool!

RANDOMNESS #2 - As if Monday couldn't get any better (dripping sarcasm), Josh and I are also headed to Hanceville to sign the papers for his apartment.

Get this...

He's going to move in August 9.

That's like... 12 days away.

That's like... not even funny.

I think the kids are trying to kill me. I really do.

If Austin comes in tonight and tells me he's moving to Alaska to be the Voice of the Wasilla Warriors High School Football Team, I would not EVEN be surprised.

Devastated, but not surprised.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Today's Copper Update will be brief and to the point.

He is alive.

He is well.

He is still living with us.

I can actually see him from where I am sitting now.

He has not "run away" in the past TWO WEEKS.

It is a little sad that two weeks is our best record to date.

RANDOMNESS #4 - Mike and I had an opportunity to get away for a couple of days last week. It happened very quickly, and it was so enjoyable.

We were without kids.

We rode to the beach Thursday... stayed on the beach Friday... and drove home Saturday.

Just the two of us.

I'll have the story and some pics about that little trip later in the week.

Lake Vacation - Day Six

Day Six of our Lake Vacation would have been perfect if Josh could have been there (instead of working), but we decided to make the best of it.

Of course, there was the tubing and boating.

Austin and Roxie discussing...

Hmmm. I don't know what they're talking about it.

I'll need to ask them and find out if they were talking about me.

Austin and The Lovely Melia.

Taylor and Roxie...


And again...

And again.

Austin and Melia taking a turn watching for tubing mishaps.

Happy Roxie.

Then there was the Austin/Melia photo shoot.

And then I took some pics of Roxie and Taylor goofing off.

Except for dinner and watching a movie while sitting on the sectional, that was pretty much Day Six.

And it was good.

Have a tremendous Monday. I'll be back tomorrow morning with the final installment of the Lake Vacation... And everyone said, "AMEN!"

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


The Enchanting Belinda

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Lake - Day Five

Good Sunday afternoon!

I believe we're on Day Five of the Lake Vacation...

And if I remember correctly, Day Five was the day Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner (Mike's parents), The Lovely Melia and Sweet Taylor came to visit.

Mr. and Mrs. Faulkner and The Lovely Melia arrived at about the same time...

Just as Josh had to leave to go to work...

And Austin had to leave for an unexpected interview in Anniston.

Mikie grilled chicken, we made homemade ice cream (again) and visited with Mr. and Mrs. F until about 3:00 p.m.

Austin came back from his interview (and everything went very well) around 4:00.

Sweet Taylor arrived for her visit around 4:30.

If you haven't already figured it out, the Gardendale Revolving Door apparently followed us to the Lake... and that was okay with me.

Not only was it the fifth day of our Lake Vacation, but it also happened to be Sweet Taylor's 18th birthday.

We decorated a little with balloons, streamers, gifts and brownies (made by Roxie), and had a very festive dinner and sunset boat ride to celebrate.

It was a busy day, but not a big "picture" day. People were coming and going so much, I didn't have a lot of time, you see. (And for the record, everyone was pretty happy about the lack of picture takin' that took place.)

I didn't keep the pic because the fish was SO tiny, but Austin actually caught one right before the sunset cruise.

You may or may not have noticed I didn't go on the boat ride. After such a busy (but fun) Lake Day, I found myself needing a little time to myself.

Time to reflect.

Time to ponder the many happenings of the day.

Time to sit on an air conditioning vent.

Have I mentioned how hot it was at the Lake?

Have I?

Since I'm still playing catch-up from "computer issues," I'll end today's post now.

Here are a few things you can watch for in coming days (other than a fascinating narrative and pics)...

1. I want to talk about how Mom (that would be me) planned and cooked a big, filling dinner every night (except one), and was able to still call it a vacation.

2. I want to talk about how we're going to tweak the Lake Vacation process to make it even better next year.

Tomorrow, Monday, July 29, I will post Lake Vacation - Day Six, pictures, Randomness about Josh, Randomness about Roxie and a Copper Report. I would post a recipe of two, but I haven't been cooking much the last few days. I hope to remedy that by Friday.

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


The Enchanting and Soon-To-Be-Computer-Tech-Graduate Belinda

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Good News, Bad News

Well, hello!

Bad News - I was supposed to post Friday and Saturday, but I had computer problems... again.

Good News - I know what the problem is, and I can fix it!

Bad News - It's too late to post anything tonight (Saturday, July 27) because I am already tired.

Good News - I don't mind posting tomorrow after church. I don't mind at all!

Bad News - I know y'all are tired of me and my computer problems. A new computer is exactly what I need.

Good News - I'm planning on purchasing said new computer in 2016!

Bad News - It will be here before you know it.

Good News - It will be here before you know it!

Talk to you tomorrow, Sunday, July 28!


The Enchanting and Unusually Befuddled Belinda

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Lake - Day Four

Good Thursday morning!

Let's get right to it, shall we?

RANDOMNESS #1 - On Day Four of our Lake Vacation, Austin received a call from a friend... and the friend told him to expect a call from a radio station... because there was an opening, you see.

The radio station was located in Anniston (about 90 minutes away), so Austin spruced up, became "interview-worthy" and headed out the door.

Long story short, Austin will be the "Voice of the Donoho Falcons (a high school team) this Fall.

He'll go to Anniston on Friday afternoons, cover the game, stay the night and produce the JSU football games Saturday from campus.

Both of the positions are part-time, but we like to think of them as "foot-in-the-door" type jobs.

Either way, it is football and The Man is happy, happy, happy.

The rest of the week, he'll be working at the Chick.

Chicken and football...

Life is good.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Copper is still with us. He hasn't left the property/house in nine days. (I think that may be a new record.)

We continue to be vigilant, and instead of Copper being a "watch" dog, The Faulkner Five have become very good "watch" people.

The Lake - Day Four

I know what you're wondering.

You're wondering when The Lovely Melia and Sweet Taylor make an appearance.

Alas, you'll have to wait one more day. Melia and Taylor arrived on Day Five and stayed through Day Seven... so their pics will be showing up on the blog Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

And I've got some good ones, too.

Tuesday was another Faulkner Five Day. It was also our go-out-to-eat and see-a-movie-at-a-local-theater day.

We made the most of it by TUBING... AGAIN!

Everyone starts out solo, but it's a little more difficult to hang on when you're riding with someone else.



Roxie and Josh. Josh believes in the "every man for himself" system of tubing. Basically, Roxie is on her own.

On the other hand, Austin believes chivalry isn't dead and will risk life and limb to keep everyone on the tube.

Either way, Roxie is worn out when the "fun" is over.

We all got dolled up (the only day I wore make-up), and ate seafood at Wintzell's Oyster House in town. We had never eaten there before, and it was very good. Roxie and Austin ordered Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, and it was delicious (according to the other shrimp eaters at our table).

I stuck with my usual Fried Crab Claw Appetizer... and I was happy.

We wanted to see a movie while we were in town, but our landlady AND our waiter both said the Boaz 9 (which was only five minutes up the road) was not a very good theater. They even wrinkled their noses when they talked about it, which led me to believe it even had a bad odor.

Our other movie theater choice was 50 minutes away in Huntsville, and I'll be honest. I just didn't want to drive that far.

We called Boaz 9 and listened to a recorded message telling us about all the digital improvements they had recently made.

Mike and I reasoned if they had spent the money to make "digital improvements," perhaps they had done something about the smell, too.

We threw caution to the wind and decided to try it.

As you can see by the picture, it is the cutest yellow and purple theater EVER. And guess what? When you walk inside, they have new carpet, new bathroom floors, new theater seating (shaped in a crescent), etc., etc.

Guess what else? Lots and lots of families were watching movies that night. It wasn't sketchy or smelly or yucky at all.

It was delightful.

And it was SO nice to drive only 15 minutes and arrive at our little "home away from home" late that evening.

Because of yet another busy day, I'm going to sign off now.

I'll be back tomorrow with Day Five of the Lake Vacation, pics and Weekend Happenings.

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


The Enchanting Belinda

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Lake - Day Three, Another Copper Story

Good Wednesday morning!

RANDOMNESS #1 - Apartment hunting in the monsoon-like rain went well yesterday. Josh and I found a complex we both like, and now Josh, Mike and I are just trying to figure out the many, many details.

My mind hurts.

And my heart ain't feeling too well, either.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Austin/The Boy/The Man interviewed and got a part-time radio job last week. I'll be telling you more about that tomorrow.

If you are keeping track, he has TWO part-time jobs in his major (Communications), he's sill working at the Chick AND he is still cutting yards.

He's looking forward to football season, because all of his part-time work has to do with football in some way or another.

RANDOMNESS #3 - Another Copper Story - Forgive me if I've already told you this story. I would look through the Archives myself, but it would take a little thing called time, and I'm a little strapped for time this morning.

That's two mornings in a row if you're keeping count.

On one of Copper's "adventures," he once again left the safety of our fence at dusk.

We searched high and low... and other places, too.

We would come in for awhile, and then head out again looking for our little lost beagle.

Austin went on a long drive when he came home from work, and he was also unsuccessful.

At 11:00 p.m., I went on Facebook to see if anyone had seen a wayward beagle, and much to my surprise, I had a message...

From my friend, Stephanie...

Who lives in Warrior...

Far, far away from my house.

Someone else had posted a picture of a beagle they had found (Copper), and Stephanie recognized him from previous "lost and found" pics.

I got in touch with Stephanie around 11:15. She sent me the picture. I confirmed it was Copper. She sent me a telephone number. At 11:30 p.m., Mike left a message on someone's answering machine asking them if they had our dog.

The only reason we called so, so late was because in one of the pictures, Copper was sitting in the front of the van... in front of a clock... and it was almost 11:00 when they posted the picture.

Within seconds, we received a call from a young man who lived a mile or so from our home saying he had Copper, and we were welcome to pick him up because he and his wife were still awake.

Copper's new friends told us the following story.

They were running on the outside track at Gardendale Civic Center when a sweet beagle (with a limp) joined them in their run. He made it around one time, and then it was time for the couple to go home.

They petted the little beagle on his sweet head and opened the doors of their van.

Copper jumped in the passenger seat.

They photographed him and posted his picture on Social Network.

And then they took him home.

They already have three dogs, and when one of their pets came out of his house to check out the new guy, Copper took the opportunity to make himself at home.

When we arrived, Copper was asleep in a strange doghouse, in a strange house... and was content.

The sweet couple woke him up and brought him to the door.

He made a wide circle AWAY from Mikie and headed straight to me (which was extremely good-thinking on his part).

We were thrilled to have him home (again), but now we were concerned because he was crossing Highway 31 which has very heavy traffic.

Keeping Copper at home and safe has turned into our family's number one goal.

So far, today has been a good day!

The Lake - Day Three

Day Three of our Lake Vacation was spent fishing... just The Faulkner Five.

Mike and Josh went on an early morning fishing trip.

Mike and Austin went on a mid-morning fishing trip.

Mike went on an early afternoon fishing trip.

Mike and Roxie and Josh went on a late evening fishing trip.

When they weren't looking for "honey spots" on the boat, they were fishing from the pier.

Mike and the kids caught several fish in our pier area.

This was the biggest fish Mike caught all week. He estimated it to be around 4 pounds, but because I'm a good wife, I'm going to say it weighed 6 pounds... at least.

The total fish count for July 15, 2013 is officially Mike - 4; Roxie - 1; Josh - 1.

I know what you're thinking.

She kept an official "fish count" for each day of vacation?

Yes. Yes, she did.

I also kept track of visitors, dinner menu (Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta and Fruit), family movie choices (Karate Kid II), family game night choices (Poker), etc.

At the end of each and every day, Mike and the kids had to rate the Lake Vacation on a scale of 1 - 10.

Monday, July 15 received a 9 from Mikie and the kids.

Josh and Roxie coming in from their evening fishing trip. (We did catch and release, so I didn't get a picture of their fish before they set them free. I did, however, hear they were scary big.)

Austin taught us how to play Texas Hold 'Em. I started to understand the game toward the end, but I still need a lot of practice.





Yep. Roxie was the picture of a gracious and classy victor.

(She gets that from her Mama.)

Our landlady met us at the cabin the first day, and she said, "Remember. Monday is Garbage Eve. You'll need to take the cans out to the road Monday night because the garbage truck comes really early."

I thought this was hilarious.

Garbage Eve.


So I took this picture of St. Josh with the big white bag of garbage slung over his shoulder on his way out the door to celebrate Garbage Eve.

Mike and the kids failed to see the humor.

I'll be back in the morning with The Lake - Day Four. Don't worry. It will include the daily Fishing Count, Family Movie Choice and Family Dinner Choice. And pics. I still have 1,000 or so pics.

It will be totally riveting, I tell you.

Take care, and have a great Wednesday!


The Enchanting Belinda
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