Eden

Eden

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Quotable Quotes AND Grand-Totting

Good Sunday morning!

How is your December going?

Getting a lot done?

Every room decorated?

Shopping finished?

Presents wrapped?

Cards sent?

Baking baked?

Yeah.

Me neither.

And I'll even be super-duper honest and tell you I've let it get me down some this month.

However, this past Tuesday was the day I pulled out my most favorite book of the Christmas season (Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift) and read December 11 - The Red Rope.

Not only is it my favorite Christmas book, but December 11 is my favorite part of my favorite Christmas book. It is the part about Rahab who was "the girl who had done bad things but gave her heart to the one good God."

Listen to the way Ann Voskamp describes Rahab's ancestry in a way only Ann Voskamp can...

"Rahab, who had a baby boy who would grow up to have a baby boy who would grow up to have a baby boy who would grow up to have a baby boy -- who would become the king of God's people. Which means that Rahab would be the great-great-grandmother of King David, the greatest king of God's people -- and Rahab would be the many, many, many-times great-grandmother of the greatest and most perfect King ever: Jesus. Jesus, who painted a rope red with His very own love, with His very own blood, and gives Himself to you like a red rope, whispers, 'No matter what you've done, hold on -- I love you, and I've got you.'"

It's true, you know.

When I am on top of my game and everything is going to plan (my plan), I don't see Jesus as clearly as when I have muddled through another day wondering, "Why isn't this working? Why am I not feeling the Christmas Spirit this year?" and it hits me like a five-pound pigeon dropped from the sky on the top of my head. (Another story for another time.)

I'm looking in the wrong places for Jesus.

He's not in a stack of carefully wrapped gifts placed under a perfectly lit Christmas tree...

Or beside a plate of cookies warm and fresh from the oven...

Or in a beautifully decorated store with Christmas music playing in the background.

I'm supposed to be looking in the manger...

In a simple stable.

The older I get, the more I crave "simple."

Simple anything.

Simple everything.

And I may be wrong, but I don't think this craving comes from laziness or weariness.

I think for me it comes down to this...

In a crazy world where too much news causes too much anxiety...

And too many people who know Christ as their personal Savior are not sharing what they know with people who do not know Him...

And too many situations in our lives are complicated and messy and overwhelming and out of control...

The answer is simply Jesus.

It always has been, and it always will be...

And when I remember that one truly important thing and live accordingly, "simple" is so much more obtainable.

Not just in December, but during the other 11 months, too.

Quotable Quotes - "Love like there's no tomorrow. And if tomorrow comes, love again." Max Lucado

RANDOMNESS - Grand-Totting 101 - Last week, Mikie took off a day from work. It was a mild December day, so I picked up the Grand-Tots for some outside playtime with Pop and Nana.

Pop disappeared around the corner of the house after a few minutes of running around the front yard, and returned with an active leaf blower.

Let it be known here and now, active leaf blowers and an almost two year-old boy is NOT the perfect combo Pop had originally imagined.

It didn't cause tears, and it didn't cause him NOT to try to activate it himself a little later, but it will not be making an appearance at his upcoming birthday party!

Judith's reaction was much more pleasing, so I made a mental note that "almost four year-old girls enjoy a portable wind machine."

After three minutes of the leaf blower, Pop turned his attention to a giant leaf pile.

Much, much more Grand-Tot friendly.

















Have a wonderful upcoming week. I'll be back before Christmas with one more post which will hopefully contain something of substance!

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Humorous tidbits...

"Before I had kids I thought I had a great immune system, but it turns out I was just really good at staying away from the type of people who sneeze directly into your eyeballs while telling you a story."

Me in November... I will make a beautifully hand-crafted gift for everyone I love.

Me in December... I only love two people.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Quotable Quotes, Pinterest Stuff (Memory Making Christmas Traditions to Start with Your Family), A Zip Lining Story - Part Two AND Sunday Thanksgiving

Good Monday morn!

Quotable Quotes - I saw the following on Ann Voskamp's Instagram account this week...

And I loved it.

This is the year.

Simple over stress.
Wonder over worry.
Holy over hype.


Also, if you haven't already read her book (Unwrapping the Greatest Gift), it would be one of the best things you ever did this Christmas season.

Pinterest Stuff

NOTE FROM ENCHANTING BELINDA - Always remember, when you see a "Pinterest Stuff" header, that means everything under the header was found on Pinterest. It is not my original idea.

Memory Making Christmas Traditions to Start with Your Family

A Spin on the Santa Claus Letter

This is a super fun Christmas Tradition for starting out your holidays. The gist of it? Santa sends a letter to your house asking the kids to help out the North Pole by donating toys they don’t need anymore so there are enough toys for Christmas. Not only does this get your kids involved in the true spirit of Christmas, but it helps you to declutter and get rid of things you don’t need before bringing new toys into the home. My husband’s rule at our house is, “for everything you buy, you have to get rid of at least two things.” He hates having too much “stuff.”

Children's Christmas Tree and Wrapped Christmas Books

A few years back, I babysat for someone who had a neat Christmas tradition, and I decided to carry it on in my own little family. They had a separate “mini” tree for the kids. They were welcome to decorate and re-decorate it over and over again.

Underneath the tree were Christmas books all wrapped up. Each night the children got to pick a present to open, and we read that book as a family that night. This tradition kept the kids from messing with the decorations on the larger tree because they had their own, and it also kept them from getting into the presents under the big tree because they were able to open one every day from their own tree.

A Spin on Matching Christmas Pajamas

I know of many families who do this, one and have decided to do it myself. On Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and Santa’s elves secretly leave new Christmas pajamas for everyone. This always makes for fun pictures.

A Spin on Magic Reindeer Food

Leave carrots or oats outside for Santa’s reindeer. Leave whoppers or chocolate-covered raisins on the ground so the kids can see proof that the reindeer have been in the yard!

NOTE FROM ENCHANTING BELINDA - As a Mother of boys, I get the "whopper/chocolate-covered raisin" humor. Very funny.

A Spin on Chinese Christmas Eve Dinner

I have a friend whose family goes out for Chinese in their Christmas pajamas every Christmas Eve. Christmas traditions like this are fun because the kids look forward to it every year and the pictures are priceless.

Reindeer Names

This is a fun way of tagging Christmas gifts. Rather than put the child’s name on each present, assign each child a reindeer name. This keeps the children from running to the tree and pulling out all of the presents with their name on it. No one knows what their Reindeer Name will be until time to start opening the gifts.

Service

Although it usually happened a few days before Christmas, my Mom would usually try to arrange a service for us to accomplish to help us understand the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes this was volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting a retirement home, playing “secret Santa” to another family or singing to a group of kids with special needs.

RANDOMNESS #1 - A Zip Lining Story - Part Two - Okay. So this part of the story is all about our two guides, Ross and Drew.

Each group had two guides, and at any given time during the two-hour zip lining experience, it was not totally uncommon for one or more zip liners to come into contact with one or both of the guides...

And when I say "come into contact," unfortunately I mean full body contact...

At ridiculously high speeds.

Before you actually climbed a tower, tackled a swinging bridge or jumped off a zip line tower, you first had to complete a zip lining safety course.

During the course, you were instructed by a young male guide (somewhere in the 20-to-25 year age range) about how to avoid turning backwards on the zip line, flipping upside down on the zip line and the distance your voice carried in the trees when zipping down the line.

The next thing we learned in the class had to do with where your hands should go during "zipping."

Your left hand was to hold onto the top of the main zip lining pulley. The left hand also kept you from turning totally backwards because you steered by turning the pulley slightly to the right or the left which theoretically kept you "straight."

I say "theoretically" because while I didn't turn entirely backward, I did tend to turn to the right each and every time I stepped off the platform. I never could stay completely straight, but I wasn't going for perfection. I was simply trying to survive.

With your right hand, you were supposed to hold the yellow rope in front of your face. This rope was connected to one of two ropes which hook onto the main zip line. If one rope ever failed, you had a Plan B rope.

I am a huge proponent of the "Plan B rope."

After learning the hand placement, they taught us how to slow down when approaching a platform.

You would simply take your right hand, place it above and behind your head on the steel zip lining cable and apply gentle, yet consistent pressure on the cable...

Thus, slowing yourself down to a less deadly speed.

The instructor explained to us if we did "come in too fast," one of our guides would get between us AND the quickly approaching tree.

Basically, the guides didn't want to be hit by flying people at speeds up to 30 mph (and faster), but it was part of their job NOT to let any of us faceplant into a tree.

By this point in the class, my mind had started to wander, and retaining valuable information was just not happening.

Roxie and I had signed up for the Level One Course which consisted of a series of nine zip lines. The two of us were at the rear of our group. One of our guides, Drew, went across first and then our other guide, Ross, sent the rest of us across one-by-one after Drew gave the "all clear."

When it was my turn to cross, I was more or less terrified. Thankfully, peer pressure played a big part of what I ended up accomplishing on the zip line. I didn't want to be the reason ten people I had never met before, (PLUS ten more people in the group behind us) were held up in the trees while the 57 year-old Bucket List Lady was slowly lowered to the ground and picked up by a 4-wheeler to be taken out of the Georgia woods...

Forever labeled a FAILURE!

Nope. Not I!

I took a deep breath and stepped into air...

Just air!

Since I didn't run or jump off of the little platform, AND I'm a little heavier than the average bear, my backside hit said wooden platform...

With a resounding SMACK.

You would have thought that would have slowed me down, but I must have caught a tailwind because I picked up speed very quickly. Before I knew it, I saw Drew holding up both hands. For some reason, I couldn't hear anything except the "zipping" sound I was making, but I could tell by the wideness of his eyes I was coming in "WAY TOO FAST."

I pinned Drew to the tree, and while he took it like a champ, I could tell I had knocked the wind out of him a little.

Maybe even a lot.

"You didn't use your right hand to slow down," he wheezed.

"So you think I came in too fast? Is that what you're saying?"

"Yes. When I held up both hands and screamed, 'TRY TO SLOW DOWN,' and then 'STOP, STOP, STOP,' that is exactly what I meant."

"Okay. I've got it now," I reassured him, and waited for my turn on the next line.

And I meant it...

Kinda…

But I had to admit, it was definitely more of a mental "having it" rather than a physical "having it," because once again, Drew found himself squashed like a bug between me and a tree.

His eyes were definitely watering this second time around, and I tried to convince myself it had more to do with the cold wind in his eyes than actual pain.

He patiently went over the "slowing down procedure" one more time, and I was impressed with his composure and courage as he zipped effortlessly along the third zip line of the day knowing quite well I was probably going to kill him before the end of our two-hour course.

Poor, poor Drew...

And as the zip lining continued and my slowing down failed to improve to any great degree, that is how Roxie and I both started to refer to him.

"Poor, poor Drew is very pale, isn't he?"

"Poor, poor Drew can't seem to catch his breath, can he?"

"Is that a bone sticking out of poor, poor Drew's right leg?"

It wasn't until we reached the seventh zip line that I showed any significant improvement, and whether it really didn't hurt him when I came in OR he was just numb from a lot of nerve damage, I guess we'll never know.

The eighth zip line (which was the longest, fastest and most difficult of the course) was perhaps my favorite. I was no longer afraid of stepping off of the platform, and the bond Drew and I had formed, along with the trust I had placed in him to keep me safe no matter the cost to his own personal health and well-being, was very freeing.

As I glided through the tops of the trees in the beautiful Georgia woods on an equally beautiful autumnal, golden day, I enjoyed every moment of the eighth line from beginning to end.

And as I stood on the final platform before finishing the ninth zip line, there wasn't a doubt in my mind this would be my final zip lining adventure.

It was everything I thought it would be and more, but it was time for me to move on to the next items on my list...

Parasailing and swimming with dolphins.

And if something were to go horribly wrong during the parasailing experience, I might very well get to swim with dolphins all in the same day.

Here's hoping for a twofer!

RANDOMNESS #2 - Sunday Thanksgiving - Right before my Mother died almost two years ago, she wanted us to rent a cabin at The Palisades in Oneonta for our family Thanksgiving...

AND she wanted to rent it on the Sunday before Thanksgiving...

AND she wanted us to do everything we always did at her house, but at the cabin.

So that is what we did that Thanksgiving, and a few days later she passed away.

Beverly and I decided to have Thanksgiving in a cabin at The Palisades from now on because no matter how much our family grows, there will always be plenty of room, a fireplace and two working bathrooms.

That's a pretty good combo.

Here are just a few pics from this year's celebration.








Every centerpiece on the three long tables is made up of Mother's Thanksgiving decorations.

Bev does the centerpieces.

Turns out, "centerpieces" fall under the category "NOT BELINDA'S THING," and I'm okay with that




Austin.


Austin, Zac and Josh.


Katie, Roxie and Zach.


Meet our newest addition (Brad and Stephanie's little girl), Carly Beth.

She also served as one of our centerpieces.


Aunt Ro and RT.


There are two very nice playgrounds at The Palisades, and since the weather was extremely nice, we took advantage of all they had to offer.


Sawyer.


This one's a rebel.


Melia, Austin and RT.


Katie and Zach.


Carly Beth, Brad, Sawyer and Stephanie.


Bev and Zac.


Courtney and Judith.


Aunt Ro and Judith.


The "old" babies... Roxie and Zac.








Tom and Bev.

Y'all have a wonderful week. I'll be back soon with some Christmas stuff to share.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. As has become the norm, please enjoy the "Things I Found Humorous This Past Week" below:

"I am a person who wants to do a lot of things... trapped in the body of someone who just wants to sleep."

"Stop editing your pics. What if you go missing? How can we find you if you look like Angelina Jolie on Instagram and a potato in real life?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sweet Potato Crescent Bites, Pinterest Stuff (16 Experiences to Give Your Kids), A Zip Lining Story AND Let's Play

Good Tuesday morn!

Ready for a really easy, really delicious sweet potato recipe? Are ya?

This popped up on my Facebook feed last week, and Roxie made it for our Sunday Thanksgiving this past weekend. Try it! You'll like it!

Sweet Potato Crescent Bites

You will need the following:

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pound), scrubbed clean
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (8 ounces) refrigerated Crescent Rolls
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
24 whole pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Pierce sweet potatoes 3 to 4 times with a fork. Place potato on microwave-safe plate and microwave 15 minutes. If your potatoes aren't fork tender after 15 minutes, continue microwaving in 30 second increments.

3. When potatoes are cooked through, scrape filling into a large bowl and discard skin. Using a potato masher or fork, mash sweet potatoes until smooth.

4. Add brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and whisk to combine.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams. Cut into 24 squares and place in muffin tin cups.

6. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of sweet potato mixture into each crescent square, then top with mini marshmallows and bake until crescent pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.

7. Add a pecan to the center of each bite and bake 5 minutes more. If using, brush pecans with maple syrup before serving.

Pinterest Stuff NOTE FROM THE ENCHANTING BELINDA - One of my favorite parts of Pinterest would have to be the multitude of lists it offers for EVERY subject. Lists are a wonderful thing!

16 Experiences To Give Your Kids

1. Amusement Park Tickets - My kids get tickets to our local amusement park each year from their Grandma, and it has given them more memories than any toy ever will.

2. Movie Tickets - A favorite family memory of ours is going to the movies. Who doesn’t love popcorn and candy and a big screen? (Did you know you could buy movie gift certificates right on Amazon?)

3. Sporting Event Tickets - We are a sports-loving family. If your kids love watching, go see it in person!

4. Pottery Painting - We did this over the summer and the kids are still so proud of their masterpieces.

5. Spa Day - My little girl adores heading to the salon for a hair cut and big “princess curls."

6. New Family Friend (dog, cat, lizard, hamster) - I know you’ve got to have a certain mindset to do this, but our new family puppy has been so good for our kids. All the memories of growing up next to a puppy are priceless.

7. Dress-Up Clothes - My little ones are growing up together with fond memories of dressing up together and putting on hilarious shows. There is nothing more special in their childhood than them giggling in their bedroom together, picking out different things to wear and what song to sing next.

8. Music Lessons - Let your kids explore their creative side with piano lessons, guitar lessons or any other fun instrument they want to learn.

9. Trampoline - If there is one thing we have bought that has given our kids tons of laughs, fun and exercise, it’s our trampoline.

10. Pool Passes - We love spending summers at the pool. Not just during summer, but during the winter at the local YMCA indoor pool.

11. Zoo Passes - Visiting a zoo during the year and seeing your favorite animals up close is so fun.

12. Trampoline Parks Passes - Any jumping place is a blast for kids.

13. Vacations - Big family vacations are my most favorite childhood memories. However, the small vacations are just as good! Find some places within a couple hours and find all they have to offer. (If you want to help your family out, grab a Southwest Airlines gift certificate or one for Hotels.com they can save).

14. Rent a Boat - Spending a day or two out on the water will fill the kids with so much joy and memories.

15. Train, Hot Air Balloon or Helicopter Ride - Self-explanatory!

16. Items for a New Family Hobby - Get supplies for something the whole family can do together all the time! Maybe binoculars for bird watching, bikes for bike riding or a compass for geo-caching. The opportunities are endless!

RANDOMNESS #1 - A Zip Lining Story... (or should I say THE Zip Lining Story) - A couple of weeks ago, Roxie and I went on our first ever Mother/Daughter Trip. We spend a good amount of time together, but a one-on-one weekend getaway had never really been attempted. I was a little apprehensive as to how the weekend would unfold. I didn't know if my "old woman ways" would get on her very last nerve. I hoped it wouldn't be an issue, but those of you who have been around me know my "ways" (while charming and funny to me) can cause others to openly gasp and gape.

That's right. I said it. Gasp AND gape.

I had no doubt I would love every minute of the weekend. The Chick is a lot of fun and good company 92 percent of the time.

Of the two of us, I was most definitely the "wild card."

All of the above being taken into consideration, I had to plan carefully. In order for this trip to be successful, it had to meet the following criteria...

1. It had to take place in the Fall. Hot, hot weather tends to make my "old woman ways" more pronounced. Plus, I look better in Fall clothing. It's the whole bulky sweater vs. bathing suit scenario. Bulky sweater wins every single time.

2. It had to be less than three hours away from home. Neither one of us felt like driving ALL DAY LONG! We wanted to get there!

3. Good food was also a must.

4. As was a fireplace AND a big, cozy bed.

5. And finally, we needed a fun-to-both-of-us activity.

As some of you may recall, Roxie jumped out of a flying airplane, swam with great white sharks and seals AND bungee jumped off the highest "bungee jumping off" bridge in the world this past summer. I wasn't trying to "beat" those moments because that would have been impossible.

But I did think long and hard about this specific part of the trip, because when it was all said and done, the activity was going to be the memory we both would carry away from our trip. Not the fireplace, bed or food.

Nope.

It would be that all-important activity a 57 year-old woman and 22 year-old daredevil could agree upon. Not so tame as to bore the 22 year-old, but not so dangerous as to break any 57 year-old bones.

That's when it hit me. I had always wanted to zip line!

And when I Googled "zip lining resorts" a place called Banning Mills, Georgia popped up on my computer screen. Not only did it have world-class zip lines, but it had good food, a fireplace AND a big, cozy bed.

I checked with Roxie, made the reservations and could hardly wait until November 10 when we were scheduled to embark on this new-to-us journey. We arrived after dark Friday night, so we weren't able to check out our surroundings very well. Our room overlooking a large creek was rustic and super clean. The main lodge was beautiful.

And our zip lining experience was set to begin at 9:30 sharp the next morning.

Roxie was excited, but I was becoming more and more anxious.

By the time Saturday morning arrived, I had left "anxiety" and had moved quickly to the "terror" portion of the trip.

By the time breakfast was over and Roxie and I were instructed to head over to the official Zip Lining Class, "terror" became "acute deafness." While I nodded and repeated everything I was asked during the class, I knew I was retaining NOTHING.

The instructors then told us step-by-step how to put on our harness, helmet, gloves, etc. and when they came around to check, I discovered I had done everything correctly because they cleared me for take-off... so to speak.

During our hike to the 100-foot tower (which, by the way, had no working elevator), "acute deafness" turned into "dry mouth" and "numbness in the extremities."

Roxie and I climbed the tower and then crossed a very unevenly built bridge. (I don't want to exaggerate this point. The bridge was safe in that it was very sturdy AND we were hooked onto a zip line the entire time for safety sake. However, it was definitely built to move and sway. Toward the end of the bridge, it went almost straight up a tree, but it wasn't ladder-like because we couldn't bend down and climb like a ladder. We had to hold onto the wires and climb until a guide could grab us and hoist us onto the platform.)

I'll be honest with you. I don't personally know of a 57 year-old woman who wants to be hoisted by anyone EVER in front of anyone EVER!

I am no exception.

You will see a picture below of about one-fourth of the bridge.

Thankfully, the Level 1 Course had only two bridges (one short and one very long) and one tower. If we had added the Level 2 Course on top of the Level 1 Course, there would have been extra towers and a total of SIX bridges.

Just so you know, I was limp after conquering the bridge and we still had not zip lined. Also, just so you know, The Chick was surprised at how difficult the bridge was, too, so it wasn't just little ol' me.

As I stood on the platform mentally preparing for my first of nine zip lines, one of our guides announced, "That was the hardest part of the course. Now we're going to have fun!"

Relief flooded over me.

Don't get me wrong.

There was absolutely no doubt in my mind zip lining was not going to end well for The Enchanting Belinda, but we had come for an adventure and NOTHING was going to stop us from having one...

A great one!

There is more to this story, but time is of the essence this week, so I am going to ask you to be satisfied with the above for just a few more days.

I haven't even begun to talk about the guides (two of my favorite people on the planet now), the food or the final overall rating of our trip...

So please enjoy the pics and wait a few days more for the rest of the story!
















Roxie loved the giant leaves...


As you can tell from these three (out of 132) pics.


Absolutely loved.


Isn't she lovely?

No need to respond.

I already know the answer.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Let's Play - Melia was off work for Veteran's Day, so she and I took RT and Judith to Let's Play for a few hours thinking it would be a fun way for them to burn energy on a cold, wet November day, AND it wouldn't be very crowded.

At least we were right about the burning energy part.






RT enjoys taking the occasional "rest" break here and there...

But don't we all?


This was one of their favorite places on this particular day. You climb in the padded circle, brace yourself and wait as it slowly turns.


RT joined Judith after a few seconds of watching and decided he liked the padded circle.

He liked it very much.

Please notice the "big" kid leaning against the circle.

Okay. Now you'll see two "big" kids, one on either side of the padded circle.

What you cannot see is the "big" kids bending over and talking to Judith and RT, three, four and then five times.

As best I could tell, they were trying to convince the little guys it was their turn in the padded circle.

The Grand-Tots were not intimidated in the least and stayed in the padded circle for a couple more minutes before moving on to the next play area.

Had they stayed in the circle an unusually long period of time?

Nope. Barely three minutes total.

Did the big kids enjoy the padded circle when the time came for them to play in it?

Nope. They were WAY too big.

And just a reminder...

I am a lover of all kids (big and small).

The older guys weren't mean. I just told the story because I enjoyed how RT and Judith handled the situation all by themselves.

The way both of them tuned out the bigger kids was epic.

They are going to be great teenagers one day!





I hope you and yours have a most wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Talk to you soon!

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. Hope these little tidbits taken from Facebook/Instagram/Church Signs, etc. will make you smile!

"Two year-old referred to her coat pockets as 'snack holes, and that is what I shall forever call them."

"I have a bumper sticker that says, 'Honk if you think I'm sexy.' Then I just sit at green lights until I feel better about myself."
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