A recap of our visit to the Big Island, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

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If you follow me on Instagram or know me on Facebook, you probably know that we were in Hawaii for eight days through Thursday of this past week.

This blog post is replacing two weeks worth of “Weekly Round-Up’s” – for weeks 33 ending on Saturday, August 15th and week 34 ending on Saturday, August 22nd.  I write this blog for my children, but if you’re interested in the “fun and crazy” we are up to on a weekly basis, here’s the link to the Weekly Round-Up tab of my blog.

I posted Instagram photos with the hashtag #BSinHawaii, where the “BS” stands for the first initials of the two families that went together.  (Ours being “Buchanan” and then the other families last name starts with an “S.”)  Feel free to look the hashtag up on Instagram to see what we were up to on a daily basis.


I took over six hundred photos while on this trip. That number includes photos from my Apple iPhone 6, my small Canon PowerShot A2300 camera, and my GoPro HERO4. All the underwater photos, and many of the beach photos were taken with the Go Pro. That camera and its’ Accessories was worth the price of it to have some of the precious memories of the kids playing in the clear water.  I tried my hardest to include only the best photos in this post, but if you really want to get a feel for our experience in a nutshell (just 22 photos,) go look up the #BSinHawaii hashtag on Instagram.

Sharka photo while shopping in KonaThis week was amazing and it felt like it would never end too.

But, as with all good things, they come to an end sometime. <Insert big sigh.>

If it’s any consolation, my children, husband and mother-in-law were all very happy to get back.

Me… not so much… but I did come back refreshed and ready to get back to reality.

We flew out of town on a Thursday and came back on a red-eye flight on a Thursday night/Friday morning.

It was my two youngest children first flights, and the oldest didn’t remember when his last one was so it was sort-of like his first flight all over again.

Each one of them had their own carry-on suitcase to drag around with them, as well as at backpack filled with a travel pillow, things to do (such as small books to read and a book to keep them busy,) a pen, my daughter had crayons that everyone was supposed to share, and snacks like trail mix, beef jerky, M&M’s and either gum or mints.  We also purchased headphones prior to the trip for everyone, although Delta charges for movies now.

It’s a five-hour flight from San Francisco to the Kona Airport, and a four-hour and forty-five minute flight from Kona to LA in California.  The red-eye flight back wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but the trip there was pretty difficult with three awake and antsy children who didn’t have a TV to watch.

My children were troopers after getting off the plane in Kona, waiting for daddy to bring the rental car.

My children were troopers after getting off the plane in Kona, waiting for daddy to bring the rental car.

There’s also a three-hour time difference between California to Hawaii, so even though my children usually go to sleep around 8 to 9 PM at home, it was actually 11 PM and midnight before they went to bed in Hawaii. This made the first night of sleep rough, but they got on schedule pretty quickly.

My oldest, my husband and I went fishing on the first full day (Friday), where we left the house at 6 AM to get to the fishing port by 7 AM.  We went on this trip with family who specifically told us that they didn’t want their faces or names mentioned in any internet post, so I took that into consideration every time I posted something on Facebook or Instagram.

The sunrise from the boat on Friday.

The sunrise from the boat on Friday.

The view from the boat was spectacular, and even though it was clearly overcast most of the time in Hawaii, over the boat it was gloriously sunny and all-n-all, a beautiful day.

But the fishing… not so much.

We spent six-hours on the boat and didn’t get even one bite.  It was tortuous. But it happens and that’s why they call it fishing, not catching.

My oldest was a trooper, even though we didn't get a bit on any of the five fishing lines the captain cast.

My oldest was a trooper, even though we didn’t get a bit on any of the five fishing lines the captain cast.

We drove straight from the port to Costco in Kona to get fresh fish (I think it was Ahi Tuna.)  We also purchased poke, which I found out I enjoyed that very much, especially considering I like almost any kind of sushi and sashimi.

We finished off the day cooking our Costco fish (our uncle is an exceptional cook,) the adults consuming large quantities of Mai Tai’s and Pina Colada’s, and swimming in the pool at the rental house.

Swimming pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday, the family piled into the rented mini-van and headed over to the local farmer’s market.  We got there pretty early, and we were so glad too because the humidity was almost unbearable in the sun.

Sat-Headed to the Farmers MarketIt was our first big day as a family unit and we hit the island’s tourist offerings pretty hard.

At a friend’s suggestion, we went to the Greenwell Coffee Farm for a tour in Captain Cook, HI.

It was fantastic.

Greenwell Coffee Farm

The family in front of a coffee bean plant at the Greenwell Coffee Farm, Captain Cook, HI.

They take the time to explain how the coffee bean goes from plant to your cup, and we were truly in awe at the length of time it takes for a coffee bean to become a useable substance that powers my husband and I throughout the day.

At least we know why good coffee is so expensive!

The last tourist thing we did on Saturday was go to the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. This wasn’t on our original list of things to do, but was recommended by a vendor at the Farmer’s Market in the morning.  It was right down the street from the coffee farm, so after a pizza lunch in Captain Cook, we headed for the 1 PM tour in the garden.

The children loved learning about the plants.  The guide was a kind man who pulled flowers off of plants for us to smell them, told us Hawaiian fokelore of various plant-life and described the different plants that were in the garden, including evasive species and local, native plants.

I remember smelling a Noni fruit, looking at two different types of flowers that have half of the petals on each of them (and it had a wonderful story of the two representations of people,) and smelling a tree bark that smelled sweet, almost coffee like, but wasn’t at all a coffee plant.

One of the things we did at the Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook, HI - smell the bark on a specific tree.

One of the things we did at the Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook, HI – smell the bark on a specific tree.

Saturday evening we watched the sunset at the Kua Bay Beach.  That beach has some of the most powder-like sand we found in Hawaii. We took epic sunset photos there, even though it was overcast.

Hawaii Sunset

On Sunday, we hit the Kona Shopping strip pretty hard, including shopping at a local farmers market in town and we just so happened to be there when they closed down Ai’i Street for street vendors.  It was pretty cool.

Donkey Balls Shop MarqueeSurfin' Ass Coffee Co.

 

One confession is that we purchased Donkey Balls from the Donkey Balls chocolate factory.  They were peanut butter – chocolate malt-ball flavored without the macadamia nuts.

One of the hardest things to get used to in Hawaii is the laid back attitude.  They actually call it “Hawaiian time” but when you’re from California, if you’re late even a couple minutes, it’s usually considered rude and frowned upon.  The shops in many of these places had opened signs with “be back in Hawaiian time” on them, and really that meant that you had no idea when the shop employee/owner was coming back that day.

Sunset on the wallThe oldest didn’t want to enjoy the sunset this time (we all saw it as a family on Saturday evening.)

It’s a difficult thing to describe how beautiful the sunset is in Hawaii.

There were many evenings when we didn’t get to see it due to rain (or what we thought was a torrential downpour.)

This is a precious photo to me. My husband is a patient father and he enjoys the simple things such as I, including a sunset in Hawaii.  Also, we didn’t know if we were going to get another chance to see a sunset due to strange weather conditions in the evenings.

1Route to KilueauOn Monday, we headed to the volcano on the big island we stayed on.  We packed some snacks, water, and left the house around 7 AM to check out the black sand beach.

2a Beach signIt was the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park to be exact.  They have a reputation to have sea turtles come to the beach and even though we saw them in the water, they didn’t get close enough to get a good picture.  It was an experience that we won’t soon forget though, as I know I’ve never seen a black sand beach in my life, until now.

3Black Sand Beach4Mt Kilaueu SignWe had a great time checking out the Kilauea Visitor Center at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/images/CCR_map_1500.jpg

We took a drive around Crater Rim Drive and stopped at the Jagger Museum, the steam vents, the Volcano House and the Thurston Lava Tube.

Everything was open and was worth the two-hour drive from Kona.

The views were exceptional, and because it was overcast, there was an orange glow in the clouds above the opening of Mt. Kilauea.

5At the volcanoMy children really wanted to see the lava, and we tried to explain to them that the lava wasn’t visible from where we were standing or where we were going.

They enjoyed the walk through the Thurston Lava Tube and they also got a huge kick out of feeling the hot steam come out of the steam vents.  Those are obviously tangible things to help my youngest not only “see”  a volcano, but actually experience it.

This is the opening of the Thurston Lava Tube - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - DeAndrasCrafts.com

This is the opening of the Thurston Lava Tube – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – DeAndrasCrafts.com

And this all occurred within one day.

I didn’t even mention the cool place we ate at in Volcano, HI (actual town) and how we drove back through a cloud and a torrential downpour.

That was all very exciting.

We ended Monday with a swim and some adult beverages for the adults.

 

 

Tuesday, we took family photos on the Old Airport Beach in Kona.

Tues-pro photosThis is what I worked so hard for the past four months of trying to lose weight.

It was for this photo.  Of course the other side effects of getting healthy and all that were the uber-bonus, but I really was working toward these photos.

And I look fantastic if I say so myself.

This is something I recommend to anyone going to Hawaii, especially on the Big Island.

Get your professional photos done by David O. Baldwin Photography.

You will not be disappointed and all I can say is that it was worth every penny I paid.  He was a terrific man to work with and I was more than pleased with the hundred and sixty photos he took and released.

If you read this post David, thank you for the beautiful work.

The rest of the day was relaxing on the La’Aloa Beach.

Tues-La Aloa BeachThis beach is also called the “Magic Sands” or “White Sands” beach, because supposedly the sand disappears.  That never happened while were were there or while we drove by it so I didn’t get a picture of that event.

The waves are powerful and my oldest lost his goggles to the crashing waves today.  My husband almost lost his favorite “swimming hat” or so he calls it, but that floated on the surface of the water so it was retrieved by a lovely swimmer.

We worked on our tans today by applying 50 SPF sunscreen every two hours or so, and thankfully only my husband was only a tiny bit sunburned.

That evening we went to our first luau, and it became a torrential downpour in the last 15-minutes.  I could have stayed and watched the entire thing as the dancers kept dancing in the rain, but the kiddos were exhausted and didn’t want to sit in the rain, even with the poncho’s that were handed out to all the guests.  It was a fantastic show at the Marriott, known as the Island Breeze Lu’au.

On Wednesday, we drove a mile down the road to a shallow reef in the Kahaluu Bay.

The Kahaluu Bay ReefOur family members snorkeled, while my children and I used our goggles to look at the fish and the sea turtle up close.

Striped fish in the waters of the Kahaluu

As I have never done anything like this, I left with the feeling that I could do this all day.  Next time we go to Hawaii (and that trip is being planned with our friends,) I know what I’ll be doing on most days if I can – swimming in a reef/shallow area looking at the sea life.  Now I know what all the buzz is about.

But alas, we had to feed our children and ourselves.

We stopped swimming around 10 AM and headed up the hill to Waimea, to go to a restaurant called Merriman’s.  It was about an hour drive from our house, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a more delicious salad than I had there.

Pumpkin salad & mushroom soupThis is my photo of the Spiced Roasted Pumpkin, Hibara Farm Greens, Hamakua Mushroom Salad and Mushroom Soup combo.
It was the most beautiful and delicious salad I have ever had in my entire life. The soup was also delicious but I can’t say enough about the salad.

I hope you take the time to drive to this restaurant if you’re on the Big Island.  You won’t be disappointed.

In the evening my mother-in-law took care of all the kiddos and the adults went out for drinks (pia) to a local place called Bongo’s.  It surprisingly closed at 10 PM, so we were only there for an hour but it had a good calamari steak and I highly recommend the no-bone hot wings appetizer (pupu‘s!)

We woke up at 530 AM Hawaii time on Thursday (including all the kids) to get to a specific beach around sunrise.

Sunrise on ThursMy husband officiated a low-key vow renewal for our aunt and uncle on the Kukio Beach.

Renewal CeremonyOur family is relatively small, and this trip was a big deal for us all.  Our aunt and uncle made sacrifices to do this trip, in order to celebrate their 10-year anniversary, our aunt’s graduation, she also turns 50 this year and my mother-in-law beat cancer.

All that and it’s only August.

The boys underwater at the Kukio Beach.Because we woke up so early, I forgot to pack snacks for my children.  I made sure they got fed before we left the house, but we didn’t have snacks around 10 AM when my kiddos get hungry.

But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a beautiful morning swimming with fish including puffer fish, which I hadn’t seen since my Mexico trips.  It was very cool.  There is this large rock in the swimming area that you can actually swim through.  Although I didn’t swim through it, I did take a photo of the opening underwater.

Underwater swim hole When we got home from the Kukio Beach (about a 30-minute drive from our house in Kona,) we ate a chicken nugget lunch with the kiddos and all took a nap.
I packed first, because, you know I’m the mama – and when I laid down with my youngest for what was supposed to be a few minutes, ended up taking an hour-long nap.  I’m so glad too!

We left the house around 630 PM to get to the Kona Airport for our 9 PM red-eye flight. Most of Friday morning was spent traveling, and we got to our house after a three-hour layover in LA around 11 AM.

Everyone was so glad to be home and I think my children missed Netflix the most.  The dogs probably second.

My oldest slept off and on throughout the day, and then slept almost 12-hours on Friday night.

All-said-and-done, I don’t remember much about Friday evening.

Saturday came around and my husband planned a trip to take the Jeep out with the guys.  It ended up overheating before they got to far (thankfully,) and he towed it to a shop in town to get it fixed.

We planned a dinner and a swim with some friends of ours, and that kept the kids busy and they got some exercise.

I’m looking forward to starting the week, and I hope I can get back into a routine soon.  I’m already off Hawaiian time, and got up pretty early on Saturday to unpack and tackle laundry.

It’s coming together….

Mahalo ~ Thank you!

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My children and I wear clothing from oldnavy.com & Kohl’s.


How Hawaii has changed me….

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Hawaii SunsetWhat is it about going on vacation that can change how you look at things?

How do you explain something to someone if they haven’t experienced it?

I’m going to attempt to do just that.

Hopefully at the end of this post I have described how going on vacation to Hawaii made me a better person.

Did it have to be Hawaii?  The answer is of course “no,” but it’s my experience and this is my blog and maybe somewhere in my words you can feel the undeniable reality that I have experienced by going on a vacation of a lifetime.


One of the hardest things I struggled with on this trip was trying to deal with the obvious entitlement issues my children displayed.

There were multiple meltdowns by the oldest, who has an empathy gene that I can’t even fathom and at times, can’t deal with, which leads to lots of crying for a boy at the age of nine because his mom doesn’t know what to do for him except try to ‘hug-it-out’ and talk about it.

My youngest was surprisingly the easiest to deal with, and I suppose at four years old he really had no choices but to go along with whatever mom and dad were doing.

And then there’s my little girl, who is, well, a little girly-girl.  She cries almost every time she doesn’t get her way, and that happened often when plans were made without her consent and she didn’t like what we were doing including going out to posh restaurants with menus that had to rival any French establishment.  Thank God they had white rice for her at those amazing places to eat.

In the end, my children literally told me that their favorite things about the trip were things we could have experienced closer to home, (visiting family, going to the beach and swimming in the pool) and although that was disappointing, I can’t expect a child (or perhaps my children) to understand how amazing and wonderful this trip was or what a privilege it was.

With all that said, the poor-raised child inside of me was screaming with joy almost the entire trip.

My uncle made reference to that when other friends came and said multiple times D’Andra “has a joy that’s always there no matter what we’re doing.  I love hanging out with her.”

Those words will stick with me forever.  It’s a compliment my mother received throughout her life and as far as I’m concerned, I’m doing something right if someone else can see that in me.

We went on this trip with my husband’s uncle, aunt and children, who have kids similar in age as ours, but who have completely different personalities.  I won’t go into details, but I’ll just remind you that I recognize more now than ever how entitled my children seem to be.  We’re going to start working on that.

The next thing that really changed me was how I felt about mid-vacation about my place of employment.

Notable author Jon Acuff wrote a book called “Do Over” and I follow his blog posts.  One of his recent Facebook posts stuck with me as the caption in the meme said:

Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/authorjonacuff

In my bosses defense, it wasn’t him that I’ve heard this from.  (I’ve just heard it before by other ‘in charge’ people.)

In fact, as he is new to the specific governmental agency I work for, he said he makes less money here (than his last governmental agency job) and has way more work.

When he said that statement out loud to his employees, I thought to myself, “How is that supposed to motivate us?”

I’m just going to come out and say it: Some people are not meant to be in charge.  Take that statement for what it is (or read into it more) but it’s just the truth about the reality I live in, and lately I have been very disappointed in decisions made by people in charge.

BUT –

And that’s a really big but….

Hawaii changed me from being “disappointed.”

I stood on one of the many beaches we visited, looking at some of the most beautiful water I have ever seen (only Cancun, Mexico rivals it in beauty so far,) and I realized that this trip would not have been possible if I had given up on the job when things started going downhill.

And I’ve considered it going downhill for years now so that’s saying a lot.

I prayed on that beach in Hawaii as I watched the sun set.

I prayed for my children, my bosses, I was thankful for my mother and the Lord spoke to me on that beach as I prayed.

Whether or not you believe in that sort of thing, I do and I heard His whisper loud and clear: I will take care of you.

I gave any and all self-proclaimed “control” of the insane job situation to the Lord that day.

Yes, finally.

It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it, but it’s another thing completely to actually feel it leaving your shoulders and neck and back and heart.

I go back to work on Monday after taking my kiddos to their first day of school for the new year.  I’m looking forward to the day.  Very much.  Which includes going back to work.

I haven’t said that in a while.

Come check out some of our pics from Hawaii by following me on Instagram, or just searching for the hashtag: #BSinHawaii.

Mahalo!

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Week thirty-two of fun and crazy

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Another week to find the glory of the Lord everywhere!

As I personally know how hard it can be to conceive a child, and keep a child alive in your body, these precious ones are just that – precious gifts.

IMG_4726 My husband took the oldest to cub scout camp on Sunday through Tuesday.

Me and my little ones.This meant that I took care of the youngest two at home, along with my dad, their nanny while I’m at work.

This is my friend, SASSHOLES (on Instagram.) I don't make this stuff up.

This is my friend, SASSHOLES (on Instagram.) I don’t make this stuff up.

I had a secret meeting on Tuesday at work that I wasn’t looking forward too, so I invited my younger-than-me friend to come over for some drinks and a time to swoon over Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy.  She let me tell her all about my problem, and I was reminded how wonderful it was to even have this problem.  I am so thankful for her!  She blessed me when I needed it.

My love and my oldest boy came home on Tuesday, and I got to tell my husband the crazy news that I had to justify my position at my workplace.  We were given one week to respond to the Director of the Department.  After meetings with the fellow Resident Engineers who were going to be affected by the possible change, we agreed on a game plan and on Friday, I sent my letter to the Director to keep my position.  I have no worries at all about losing my job, just my arbitrary title (hence position) in the workplace.

At the end of this mess, I’ll still be an Engineer, I’ll still have a job, and I’ll still be the person the Lord meant for me to be, a mommy of three beautiful children which is way more important than working for a place that can’t see the value of their college-educated Resident Engineers.

But I digress from the crazy week….

peeling carrotsWe pulled about six carrots from the garden, three of which were my princess’s carrots she planted with her pumpkin plant.  I taught her how to use a peeler, and she reluctantly ate her carrots with a good helping of ranch.  I think I ate the majority of them in my salads throughout the week.

My beautiful table-ruined! My princess thought it would be good to stamp my white table on Wednesday.  MY WHITE TABLE! ARGH!

Thankfully though, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does much of what it says – including get stamp ink off of painted white table tops.  A picture of the cleaned surface is below.

Many things happened on Friday and Saturday.

My oldest made Star Wars binoculars from Legos.

My oldest made Star Wars binoculars from Legos.

I placed my dried pepper seeds into packets to plant next year.

I placed my dried pepper & chile seeds into packets to plant next year.

Homemade pizza sauce using fresh roma tomatoes,  oregano & thyme from the garden was made for the zucchini crust pizza.

Homemade pizza sauce using fresh Roma tomatoes, oregano & thyme from the garden was made for the zucchini crust pizza.

A picture of our zucchini crust pizza.  Alas, I did not grow my own zucchini this year....

A picture of our zucchini crust pizza. Alas, I did not grow my own zucchini this year….

I had collected pepper seeds from store bought green and red peppers, jalapenos, and homegrown chilies given to us.  I let them dry for about a week on a paper towel, and printed out seed packets to keep them in until next year.

 I also used this recipe to make zucchini crust pizza and homemade pizza sauce.

I had to modify the recipe slightly because our oven doesn’t go up to 550-degrees as the recipe calls for, and I added almond flour instead of regular flour, due to my low-carb eating habits.

The real kicker to the recipe is the sauce.  Except for using small Roma tomatoes, I used all the other ingredients, including fresh thyme and oregano.  It-was-amazing.

Our oldest remembered that we saved a hot wheels track in the garage - so we pulled that out to play with this weekend.

Our oldest remembered that we saved a hot wheels track in the garage – so we pulled that out to play with this weekend.

I tried out a new crochet pattern to use up some yarn I have laying around....

I tried out a new crochet pattern to use up some yarn I have laying around….

We save many toys in boxes in the garage.  For some unknown reason, the oldest wanted to play with the hot wheels track set he got years and years ago.  It’s probably been in the garage for at least two years.

We took the box out on Saturday and it has been well used for the past couple days as I write this post.  I’m glad we saved it.

I also tried a new crochet pattern to use up some yarn I have laying around.  I was very grateful to find a pattern on Ravelry (become my friend there!)  The pattern itself is called The Wool Eater Blanket by Sarah London.  It works up pretty quickly and I’m using Sensations Beautiful yarn with a size K hook.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with it once I’m done, but that’s not why I crochet anyway.

The last exciting news I have to show you is my daughter’s pumpkin plant.

This is what it looked like last week, vs. this week.

Saturday, August 1, 2015 pumpkin

Saturday, August 1, 2015 pumpkin

Saturday, August 8, 2015 pumpkin.

Saturday, August 8, 2015 pumpkin.

I had no idea what to expect.  I have never grown pumpkins.  It’s getting big, it’s already beautiful, and I pray every day that one of the critters we’re fighting for our food won’t pull it out for itself.

Have a great week coming up friends!


August Goals

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Welcome to my first post about goals since January.

I re-read that post and am pretty happy with this update!

Here are the goals listed in the January post:

My one word is:

gifts.

What I really want in 2015 is:

go to Hawaii.

What I really need in 2015 is:

to organize and simplify my stuff.

What I will share in 2015 is:

my talents and gifts.

In 2015 I will succeed at:

reading 12 books.

Here’s my update:

My gifts as a mother who loves her children and uses Pinterest to cook is still going strong.  I also started a garden after my mother passed and it’s feeding us and our friends plenty of tomatoes and a few carrots.

Carrots & August GoalsMy gift of compromising for the sake of others “feelings” is also going strong.

My gift of crocheting is being underutilized right now, but I sent one blanket to a charity and got rid of some yarn in the process.  That’s a solid win in my opinion.  I still want to get some U.F.O.’s done though.  That needs to finish up the rest of the year for sure.

I can report that I have organized my craft room!  Simplified?  Bah!  At least I can say that I don’t go to the craft store every week like I have in other years.  Another win!

Finally, my main concern in the January post was about reading twelve books.

With this blog post, I’m summing up the books I’ve read this year, and yes, I know I have some work to do for this goal.

With my nine year old child, we completed together the following books from The Chronicles of Narnia Series – “The Boy and the Horse,” “Prince Caspian,” “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” and “The Silver Chair,” all written by C.S. Lewis.

My oldest and I read the first two books last year, starting with “The Magician’s Nephew” and then “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  (I’m not counting those for the year’s count, of course.)

The entire Narnia Series is amazing.  I have been not only engaged, but have cried with my son, been able to explain things that I as the parent need to explain, and have a new found appreciation for books that have been on my own list to read, but had no idea how beautifully well written they could have ever been.

My favorite out of the entire series has been Prince Caspian, as the book has a depth of love, trust, faith and hope that abounds through the pages.  We are currently reading the last of the seven books, titled The Last Battle.  The entire series has been magical, and I look forward to re-reading them to my two younger ones when they get older.

Another book I count as read this year, again with my oldest, is titled The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. 
A very simple, realistic type book, my oldest was probably a year too old to have this book read to him, but it was certainly a fun book to read because it was such a sweet, normal-child type of book.  The book reminded me that it’s in the daily life that we really have adventures.  We, as a people in general, don’t look at them that way though.  We think that getting a babysitter or going out to dinner couldn’t possibly an adventure, but in reality, it’s how we look at the experience as how exciting and fun it really can be.  My oldest was able to take an AR test (something our school system uses to get children to read more) and got 100% passing after we finished the book.  An awesome bonus.

My total of books read all the way through with my nine-year old is five (5).

FIVE BOOKS! YAY!  While that may not seem like much to others, I am truly excited to be able to report that.  We’ll be kicking out the last Narnia Series book probably within the month, and have to agree on what to read next.  I’m leaning toward the Roald Dahl Collection, but we MIGHT give the Lord of the Rings Series a try next.  I’ll talk about it with him as his next school year starts in late August and I think he’ll get more out of the Roald Dahl books than the Lord of the Rings in fourth grade.

I’ve been working on a book for over a year now as it takes space up in my crochet bag to read at swim lessons and other waiting rooms of the sort.  I have Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze’s Smart Money Smart Kids book that I’m just over three-quarters of the way read.  The book reads pretty quickly, but I’ve crammed other important books into it’s place over the past eight months of the year.  I looked back to when I reported first reading this book, and I’m slightly embarrassed to say it was the first week of this year.  Oh well, that just tells me that I have some more reading to do.

One of the books that has been crammed into my crochet bag was given to me by my trainer, titled Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally, by Dr. Kelly Starrett with T. J. Murphy. 
While looking at the book (when writing this blog post,) I gave witness to the fact that if I just put in about one more hour of reading on it, I’ll be done with it and can utilize the exercises in the book to help me run.

Goal No. 1 for August: Finish reading the book, Ready to Run.

Lastly, just this last Sunday prior to this post, our teaching minister challenged the congregation to read one or more books as a “book club” for the entire church body.  I picked up two books that day, one titled Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren.  I haven’t opened that book as of this blog post, but the title intrigues me and I certainly want to learn more about it’s tag line of “Christian identity in a multi-faith world.”

The second book I picked up was recommended by one of my friends, and reads more like a novel than a “church” book.  It’s titled Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, and this book is not for the new Christ follower.

I’ve been a believer in Christ my entire life.  The author of the book Pastrix has a surprisingly similar upbringing in the Church of Christ, as I did, but that’s where the similarities end.  She has a funny, explicit, and often sad way of looking at things, but then again, don’t we all….

As I write this post, I am almost done reading the book Pastrix.  I picked it up on and it’s Wednesday.  I will finish it by next Sunday.  It’s that good.  It’s that well written.  And then I’m going to read it again and highlight all the points I agree with and may bring up in a future book club discussion.

Goal No. 2 for August: Finish the book, Pastrix.

Goal No. 3 for August: Begin the book Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?

Goal No. 4 for August: Continue to pray for good weather and safe passage to and from Hawaii.

I won’t be sharing when we’re leaving, but this is the month to get the one “goal” I listed as “what I really wanted” this year crossed off the list.

And finally, Goal No. 5 for August: Post at least five blog posts this month.

I feel like I’m cheating on this one a little, because I’ve already written two, (that’s including this one!) but it’s still a mighty goal for a full-time working mommy who does this for fun!

As always, I know I’ll get many things accomplished along the way this month and keep trying to complete projects.  But at least I’ve spelled them out!  Keep learning friends.  I hope you can check out many of the books I’ve been enjoying this year!


Week thirty-one of fun & crazy

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Bo on the Go!

We start out with last Sunday, when we had the triplet cousins over the house for the weekend.

That day, I found out my brother’s suburban that he left me to take the triplets to the church LOCKED when all the doors were closed and the keys were in the ignition.  The car was ON, running with AC, so don’t think I’m a bad auntie, but it was a terrifying 20-minutes waiting for triple A to show up. The triplets seemed fine.  I almost vomited.

My brother picked up his kids, and let me know that he keeps a key hidden under the vehicle because he’s done it before too….

That would have been nice to know BEFORE SUNDAY!

Anyway, the entire weekend was great being with them, and they watched Bo on the Go from Netflix.  (How can one NOT have Netflix nowdays?)

My big one moved up in swim class!

My oldest moved up in swim class this week!

 Monday’s are swim class for my two oldest.  The biggest of the little people got moved up to another class, which also means I had to change the time.  Oh well, at least he knows how to swim.  They have this neat ritual where the swimmers who move up in their levels get a medal and ring big bells.  It’s all very exciting and a good way to celebrate in a 30-second time frame.

My shadow at one of my project sites.

My shadow at one of my project sites.

I took this photo on one of the roads we were chip sealing.  I put this photo on Instagram, where I go into detail about how my job is probably going to change.  It was hard at first to grasp this possibility, but as the week went on, people were praying for me, and I kept analyzing it and mulling over the possibilities, I’m ready for a big <secret> meeting next week that will be a change in my life, no matter what the powers that be tell us.

I am a realist you know.  This is as real as it gets.

To my children: Jobs don’t stay still.  You need to acknowledge that people who run businesses and are in management can do what they need to survive and thrive.

I just hope it’s the right thing to do.  That’s where I’m struggling.  I don’t trust the management where I’m at.  I don’t leave though because the job is a good one, and I don’t need the drama of changing things, unless I can’t handle the people that I work with.  So far, that’s been a blessing.  The people that surround me are reasonable and decent.  Management, eh, that’s just a different story all together.

 HWYQUEEN

I think one of the coolest things about working in the field is to meet very interesting people.  The owner of this license plate is a female traffic control person, who stands at the beginning or end of a project and helps direct traffic.  She stands almost all day in the hot sun, and I can’t even imagine the stories she would have to tell of her adventures as a female in a male dominated industry and she’s not even an Engineer!  At least I get to go home every night.  On this project, she and her fellow crew members live in hotels during the week, something I DO NOT ENVY at all.

It truly makes me feel blessed.

My oldest left us for the first time ever with his grandma to go see his cousins.  I only have the one photo that was sent to me from grandma.  These are the times though that I know he won’t forget.

Breakfast with the cousins away from mom & dad. =)

Breakfast with the cousins away from mom & dad. =)

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

These beauties came off our Roma tomato plant in our urban garden from our backyard.  I planted our seeds late for our San Marzano plants, but this was a purchased organic plant from the store.

We made my mom’s recipe of salsa, which I haven’t made in over a year, at least.

This is another one of those things I hope to post on the blog someday, but until then, here’s photos of some of the ingredients.

salsa ingredients

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

I finally opened up my new watermelon knife I received as a prize from Instructables for winning a contest last year.  (Don’t judge me for not opening it.)

 

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

I tried making watermelon jelly, again, and it still came out runny.  I will get this recipe right before the end of the summer!

I give props to the makers of watermelon knives.  You don’t know how nice it is to have one, until you have one.

As for the jelly, well, I’m still working on it.  The recipe seems so easy, yet I can’t get it to stay solid for the life of me and I think it’s all about the reduction of it.

The last thing we did for the week was go to my uncle’s house for a family get-together.  Like my husband reminded me, we will not regret spending time with family.  He’s so wise.  Even if there’s ten-million other things to do.

Family time fun.

Having fun with the family is time we will not regret.

Keep it real friends!


DIY Mosaic Pendants

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DIY Mosaic Pendant

 A couple weeks ago, I posted about week twenty-eight of fun and crazy.  In that post, I shared that one of the things I did that week was have a great time with my girlfriends making Mosaic Pendants.

Crafting with my friends in my newly finished craft room.

Crafting with my friends in my newly finished craft room.

This was a very enjoyable project to do with many people in a matter of a couple hours.

This was a very enjoyable project to do with many people in a matter of a couple hours.

As promised, here is the tutorial so you can make your own, and I saved an idea sheet at the very bottom of the post of many of the pendants made that evening.

Materials & Tools Used (all links take you to Amazon.com to view costs):

Glass pieces to cut into shapes to fit into pendant were used.

You’ll need glass tile pieces to cut into shapes.

Tile Cutters

Tile Cutters

Pendant & Necklace

Pendant & Necklace

Tweezers

Tweezers can be used to place the tile pieces into the pendant if needed.

E6000 glue sets up pretty fast and adheres the tile to the metal pendant.

E6000 glue sets up pretty fast and adheres the tile to the metal pendant.

Regular tape.

Regular tape.

We used a pre-mixed grout in Delorean grey.

We used a pre-mixed grout in Delorean grey.

 

One of my friends brought her tile-pieces the evening of the party.  (She’s the real mosaic queen.)

I picked out pieces that evening to work on my pendant when I got the chance, as I created pendants for my friends who couldn’t make it to the party.

The tutorial you see here is of my personal pendant.

My friend, who co-hosted the party with me, purchased four lots of 10-pendants from Amazon.  We had twelve ladies make at least two each, and some made three pendants.  I made a total of four.

The links for the pendants and necklaces are:

10 Square Pendant Trays – Shimmering Silver Color – 1 3/16 Inch – 30mm – Pendant Blanks Base Cameo Bezel Settings Photo Jewelry

Wadoy 10Pcs Black Leather Necklace Cord String with Lobster Clasp

The links for the glue, tile cutters and grout:

E6000® Craft Adhesive 3.7 oz

Goldblatt G02007 Glass Tile Nippers With Pro-Grip Handle

Custom PMG165QT 1-Quart Simple Premium Grout, Delorean Gray

As you can imagine, the basic premise was to cut the tile into small pieces into a pattern that you either planned in your head or just *knew* that was going to be the way you wanted it.

These were the original pieces of tile I had.

These were the original pieces of tile I had.

What you don’t realize when you start a project like this, is how hard it is to get smaller pieces from big pieces of tile.  It’s obviously possible, but it takes patience and time.

I knew I wanted a checker board look to this piece.

I knew I wanted a checker board look to this piece.

1Cut pieces1

1Cut pieces 1st (2)

This was the design in my head, and here it is unglued.

This was the design in my head, and here it is unglued.

Place two pieces of tape together, slightly overlapped, wide enough to cover the pendant.

Place two pieces of tape together, slightly overlapped, wide enough to cover the pendant.

Place the tape over the design to keep it in place.  This works great for small pieces!

Place the tape over the design to keep it in place. This works great for small pieces!

Peel off the tape so the glue can be placed on the pendant.

Peel off the tape so the glue can be placed on the pendant.

The next step is to glue the pieces down.

I used tweezers to realign the pieces to make them even.

Place glue on pendant base.

Place glue on pendant base.

Tweezers can make the placement of small pieces easier to move around if needed.

Tweezers can make the placement of small pieces easier to move around if needed.

We waited about 20-minutes for the glue to dry during the party, and had snacks and talked, or just got another pendant done while waiting.

When I did this by myself (for this tutorial, I waited about an hour for the glue to dry.

Contrary to popular belief, if the glue isn’t dry, the grout will not keep the pieces in place.  It’s all about the glue.  Just a hint!

Once the pieces are dried, it's time to grout!

Once the pieces are dried, it’s time to grout!

I’ve done mosaic pieces before, and given many tips along the way in my tutorials.

See my Instructable for a Mixed Media Mosaic for more mosaic tidbits!

 The most basic key to grouting is to have the time to do it.

Don’t pick it up thinking that you can be done in 10-minutes, unless you’ve done it before.

You’ll need a wet towel, a dry towel, and I used paper plates to keep my work space clear.  My mother-in-love posed for me in some of these photos where you see a different pendant.

One cloth was wet down and then the water was squeezed out, and the other cloth is dry.

One cloth was wet down and then the water was squeezed out, and the other cloth is dry.

My mother-in-love and neighbor came over to grout their pieces with me.

My mother-in-love and neighbor came over to grout their pieces with me.

We used tape to tape the top part of the pendant so it wouldn't get grout in it.

We used tape to tape the top part of the pendant so it wouldn’t get grout in it.

2No GroutOne of the things we did to keep our pendant hole clean from any grout residue was to tape it up.  When the grouting was complete and dried, about a day later, we removed the tape.

Because these pieces are so small, it takes a matter of minutes to grout them, but the key to getting them really beautiful is cleaning them after the grout is placed.

Add a couple fingers-full of grout to the top of the piece.

Add a couple fingers-full of grout to the top of the piece.

Press the grout into the holes in between your tiles, using your finger.

Press the grout into the holes in between your tiles, using your finger.

Let the grout sit for a minute, and continue pressing if your spaces are small.

Let the grout sit for a minute, and continue pressing if your spaces are small.

After about a minute, initially wipe the grout off the tile pieces using your finger.

After about a minute, initially wipe the grout off the tile pieces using your finger.

 

I placed the excess grout on the plate. Now it needs to be cleaned.

I placed the excess grout on the plate. Now it needs to be cleaned.

Using your moist cloth, rub the pendant in big sweeping motions to get the grout off the top of the tile.

Using your moist cloth, rub the pendant in big sweeping motions to get the grout off the top of the tile.

Continue to wipe the pendant until the majority of the tile is clean on the surface.

Continue to wipe the pendant until the majority of the tile is clean on the surface.

You may need to place additional grout in a spot or two if the first placement didn't get into the small nooks and crannies.

You may need to place additional grout in a spot or two if the first placement didn’t get into the small nooks and crannies.

After wiping the grout off the top of the tile, take the dry cloth and continue to wipe the tile.

After wiping the grout off the top of the tile, take the dry cloth and continue to wipe the tile.

 You may have to repeat the wet-towel, dry towel process to get the top of the tile pieces completely cleaned. At some point, hopefully you will be satisfied with the cleanliness of the tile and let it sit to dry for at least a day.

2Make Pendant-End

My finished pendant without the embellishments.

 2Grout Pendant1

My pendant seems pretty plain so I added some bling.

My pendant seems pretty plain so I added some bling.

One of the last things I did was add some scrapbooking jewels to the tops of the black squares for extra depth and sparkle.  I liked the sparkle of the pink tiles and I think the jewels add flair!

I hope this tutorial sparks your interest in both making mosaics and possibly making these little gems.  They would make personalized Birthday/Christmas gifts or anytime gifts for that matter.  My mother-in-love gave two away, just because!

Here’s the finished products of our Pinterest Party Mosaic Pendants in PDF form.  Thanks for reading!

Mosaic Designs


Week thirty of Fun & Crazy

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So week thirty started out in the Huntington Lake Campground (where we hope to stay again) and ended at home with a total of six-children in our house!

We had a fantastic Cub-Scout camp at Huntington Lake where the boys earned a couple badges and worked on a hiking requirement. My oldest also earned his credit for “making a fire.”

Kids on rock at Huntington CampgroundFrom Cub Scout camp, my husband and my oldest headed over to Yosemite Bible Camp (YBC) in Oakhurst, and I proceeded to take my two youngest home to drop off clothes and bedding.  I ended up being completely exhausted (of course) but felt like eating a good cheat-meal, so I took them to John’s Incredible Pizza.  Yes, this also means I was all by myself during the week taking care of my two little ones.

My kiddos on the Frog Hopper ride at the Pizza place.

My kiddos on the Frog Hopper ride at the Pizza place.

Before leaving the house, I made a small game plan of what I would prepare for dinner for myself.  My husband is the chef in the family so I use recipes from the internet, usually pinned ones from Pinterest because I can’t just throw things together to save my life.

I made a recipe from my Healthy Eats Board, called Avocado, Chicken and Walnut Salad from Kayotic Kitchen.  I didn’t buy the parsley, but other than that, the recipe was a TOTAL SUCCESS! Definitely a Pinterest win.

Avaocado Chicken Walnut SaladI think one of the best accomplishments of the week was completing the Instructable for my Darth Vader Purse.  I ended up finishing the purse in one night during the week and wanted to enter the Fandom Contest over at Instructables.  (Shameless plug: If you’re a member and have a minute, please vote for me!)

Watermarked purseOther awesome stuff that I learned about and that happened –

I made bacon in the oven for the first time.  I couldn’t believe that I had never made it that way before, even though I heard about it.

Oven bacon in ovenOven BaconI almost feel sheepish about writing it on the blog, because I know many people have always cooked bacon that way, but hey, this is reality and I just learned to do it this week.  You better bet I will only cook it this way from now on.  I got my recipe from Pinterest (of course) from the site: Today’s Mama.

I made watermelon jam (it looked more like jelly to me) this week to use up my frozen watermelon juice.  I got the recipe from Blondie’s Cakes.  It only took four ingredients and I’m all about simple jelly’s or jams. I’ll be making it again, basically because I love things that are both tangy and sweet and this watermelon jelly has a hard-to-describe flavor.

Watermarked Watermelon JellyI learned that there are auctions on Instagram where you can bid on things so people can raise money for certain causes.  I bid on one such auction a couple weeks ago and opened up one of my packages from Kiwi and Hope. The owner, Kiah, is one of my internet-friends that I met in a mutual group of bloggers & hustlers that get things done.  If you have time, stop on over at her shop to see some of her latest purses and clutches, as she donates a portion of her sales to orphan care and adoption causes.  I won this adorable pineapple purse and key-fob, as well as a delicious organic chocolate, that I confess I ate the entire bar in one evening.  Kiwi and Hope auction giftThank you for allowing me to give you some internet love Kiah!

Lastly, and keeping in mind that I was by myself on Friday and half of Saturday, I took on the task of helping my brother and sister-in-love out by taking their triplets for a few days for them to get away with their friends.

On Friday we had nachos as shown here, which no-one, including my own children, really enjoyed.  They all wanted chips with no sauce.  Ugh.

Triplets at our houseWe had them all the way through Sunday, and I was very glad when my brother and sister-in-law came to get them.  I love these children more than anything, but it’s a great reminder of how blessed I really was to be given three souls to take care of!

I leave you with a picture of my daughter’s pumpkin plant. Of all the things I’ve grown in gardens in my relatively short lifetime, I’ve never tried to grow pumpkins.  Here’s to the amazing world, and I pray this pumpkin grows big for her.  She’s worth it!

Princess Pumpkin072415


How We Made Our Fairy Garden

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DIY Fairy Garden for moms & daughtersOn my best days, I do crafts with my children.

Some crafts, as we all know, require patience, time, and a certain amount of creativity – but this is especially true when working with children.

My daughter is five years old as I write this blog post.  She and I spent some time together planning, finding pieces for and putting together the Fairy Garden pictured in this blog post.

As with most things, she had asked me weeks ago to create a fairy garden with her and in my kind-of “oh I hope she forgets about it” attitude, she continued to ask me to make one with her and in a slow work week, it finally happened.

My first stop (as with most projects) is Pinterest.

I think on a Wednesday evening, I sat her down at my computer and typed in “fairy garden.”

I ended up pinning a link from Homedit: Magical Fairy Garden Designs.

On Thursday we went to the craft store and picked out various odds and ends for the fairies to have as part of the little garden area.  The store I took her too had a huge clearance on Spring items, so the most expensive thing was the birdhouse she picked out for the fairies to live in.

She painted the birdhouse with her favorite colors and of course, “colors that the fairies like” as she told me.  I have glitter paint from a previous project, and she added that over the dried colors over the next couple days.

Painting the fairy house At some point in the week I took my daughter to the local garden/hardware store and purchased a small six-pack of Scottish Moss.  I re-used an 12-inch diameter pot that I had been keeping around and we already had the soil.

Moss & Pot

We started the process by adding the painted fairy house to the dirt area first.

place the large objects

Next we placed the moss around the house.

remove the mossplace moss

My daughter used her fingers to dig up a spot for the moss prior to placing it.

The next step was to place the odds and ends we found at the craft store.

The fence was placed first, around the house.

The fence was placed first, around the house.

My daughter placed the other accessories for the fairy garden in various places, including an ice chest (my favorite) and a lantern.

My daughter placed the other accessories for the fairy garden in various places, including an ice chest (my favorite) and a lantern.

I think the best thing about my daughter placing all the accessories was that her idea of what a home would look like came shining through.  She didn’t want bugs or butterflies per-Se, but she liked the ladybugs on the teeter-totter. She also liked the ice chest and picked out a ceramic fairy so that the “real fairies” know it’s safe to go in there.

I needed to do this with her.

~~~ I just didn’t know I needed to do this with her until after it was complete. ~~~

Fairy House Close-UpWe added the sign that fairies were welcome into the moss so it could stand up on it’s own.

I am so thankful that I took the time to create the garden with her.  She’s five.  It’s a hard thing for me to remember in my late 30’s what it’s like to be with my mom, let alone remember when I was five what it was like to be told “No, sorry honey. We can’t afford to do that” or “I don’t have the time.”

I made the time to do this with her and I’m so glad I did.

Blessings to those who read this.  I hope you can make your own. 😉


Week twenty-eight of Fun and Crazy

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Crafting with my friends in my newly finished craft room.

Crafting with my friends in my newly finished craft room.

Oh what a wonderful week it’s been.

It’s a been a while since I posted on this blog and I think I finally figured out why.

I’m a person who “does things.” Out of the five love languages, mine is “actions” and to me, I am really happy and have joy when I have accomplished something, made something, and something got done that may not have if I didn’t put the effort into it.

A blog is an interesting mix of “doing things” but not seeing (or touching, or feeling) the results of it.  I try not to be obsessed over it anyway.  Sure there are ways to see traffic to the site, look to see if people bought anything from affiliate links, and how many people engage your content, but the tangible result is difficult to feel the love that I pour out into the pages.

But -Here I am.  Posting for my children because they are my ‘Why’ I do things that I do anyway.


My theme for the week: I learned quite a bit about myself and my life.

  • I learned it’s really hard to work from the house.  My husband works out of the house and as many times as I have been secretly jealous of him, It’s difficult to do on summer break when my kids are home.  I tried it this week, and let’s just say, it’s hard for me to get anything productive done.
  • I learned my daughter’s love language this week.  It’s ‘touch.’ I have no doubt now if I did before.  She hangs on my husband and I like we’re monkey bars.  She tried kissing me on my arm and even though she’s my daughter it totally gave me the willies.  Ya, now I know.
  • I learned that my husband is an amazing meat-cooker.  He won a meat contest over at Instructables for the best rib recipe and I am excited about getting shipped meat from Pat La Frieda Meat Purveyors.  We’re kind of nervous about the meat being shipped to California from New Jersey, but here’s hoping it’ll make and I’ll keep you posted.
  • On Sunday the 5th, I re-learned how to jog in my neighborhood.  My personal trainer told me to try jogging for 30-second bursts, walking a bit, and the jog again for 30-more seconds.  In the beginning of my first mile, when I tried to run, it felt like my feet were lead.  I jogged and walked for a total of 45-minutes, for a distance of 3.2 miles.  It was difficult on my lungs, my legs felt like jello when I got home, but at the same time, I did it and it felt great.

So many things happened this week, as they usually do.

My husband cooked a tri-tip in the Traeger smoker overnight.  It was surprisingly good.  It was covered in sage and a few other spices, as we are on a low-carb eating plan right now.

pre-smoked tri-tip on the Traeger

Pre-smoked tri-tip on the Traeger

overnight smoked tri-tip

Overnight smoked tri-tip with sage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My kiddos had a great week making crafts, going to swim lessons, and we went on a spur-of the moment trip up the hill to try out the Jeep. (More on that below.)

DeAndrasCrafts Kids Making crafts

DeAndrasCrafts Kids making crazy glove people crafts.I lost another pound, bringing my total for the past 14-weeks to 23 pounds lost.

On Thursday, I had a few of my friends over to make some mosaic necklaces.  I hope to get that up on the blog soon!

My princess painted her fairy house for her fairy garden.  We finished that on Sunday and you can see the result here: How We Made Our Fairy Garden.Mosaic Necklace w Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We ended up going on a four-wheeling trip with some friends on Saturday.  A spur of the moment trip for us is anything planned in a week.  We went up a run called Bald Mountain and you can see Shaver Lake from the top of the run as shown in one of the photos.  It was awesome and feel free to follow me on Instagram to see the longer captions of some of the photos below.

The kids (my three plus one extra) played on rocks as the vehicles got unloaded from trailers.

The kids (my three plus one extra) played on rocks as the vehicles got unloaded from trailers.

 

As the Jeep sits in the background, my oldest shows me the difference between deciduous trees and coniferous trees.

As the Jeep sits in the background, my oldest shows me the difference between deciduous trees and coniferous trees.

You can see I'm wearing one of the pendents I made at the party! We took this selfie as the first time breaking the Jeep in for our family.

You can see I’m wearing one of the pendents I made at the party! We took this selfie as the first time breaking the Jeep in for our family.

On the Bald Mountain Run, there is an area people stop to see if they're vehicle will get up V-rock.

On the Bald Mountain Run, there is an area people stop to see if they’re vehicle will get up V-rock.

The top of Bald Mountain 4-wheeling run is an amazing view!  Shaver Lake is in the background.

The top of Bald Mountain 4-wheeling run is an amazing view! Shaver Lake is in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here’s the thing about our weekly round-ups – it’s the best memories.  That’s what I want my kiddos to remember when they’ve grown.  If there’s one thing I learned from my mother passing away, it’s that I remember <almost> all the good things.  You don’t think of that when you have to go through the bad stuff, but when you have good things in life, I really believe you have to remember them.

Maybe the hard stuff teaches us, but the good stuff is what needs to be remembered.

My hope is that when my children are old enough to read this blog, they realize how fun their childhood was.  How special little events were (and are as they are happening.)

A certain amount of family togetherness happens that’s hard to describe quite frankly, when you don’t have TV or the internet to rely on.  I’ve talked about this before when going camping, and going 4-wheeling is just about the same thing.  It also opens their world to new people that they wouldn’t have another opportunity to come in contact with unless they share a common thing like 4-wheeling.  All this stuff is learned somewhere, right?

I hope everyone has a great week coming up and as always, thanks for reading!

I get all my jeans and my children’s jeans from Old Navy.


My Bucket List

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bucket list pic 3-2015You know those blog posts that start off with “When I was a little girl…?”

This is one of those blog posts so get ready –

When I was a little girl, I would dream of marrying a rich man.

No kidding.  I knew I would work, I knew I wanted to be a mom of two boys, I knew God and my mom loved me. (And yes, that means I really wasn’t sure about my dad or my brother, but that’s another story.)

I would tell my mom that he would be tall and handsome, and he would be wealthy so I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again.

Those truly innocent dreams of my 5 through 9 year old self were a reflection of how I envisioned my life to be easier, not to have to worry like my mother, and to have a man who loved me and took care of me.

The last one in that list was an actual thing that I could see my mom struggling with. My father didn’t spend quality time with us the way fathers are supposed to, and I am the classic-text-book case of not having a father that loved his wife, did not take care of his family and was only there part-time because of selfishness and insecurities.

I could have written that textbook of the problems that come from not having a father around, but, as I’ve stated in previous posts, he’s gotten better the older he gets and will do almost anything he can for his grandchildren.

To quickly finish the story, my husband is the man of my dreams.

He and I got married young (19 and 20 years old,) and we first lived in a one bedroom studio apartment with second-hand furniture, a 16-inch black and white television, and a card table that we used to eat on.  Those were some of the greatest memories of my entire life.  I remember eating lots of potatoes, because I am not a great cook and because they were so inexpensive and I remember the love we felt back then between us because we didn’t have anything else.

My husband and I both graduated college, got good jobs, have purchased homes and he does well selling rubber stamps on remarks.rubbermarks.com.  Please feel free to check them out for custom rubber stamps of pretty much anything you could imagine.  We are very proud of that website and they are having a give-away this week with ten (10) ways to enter! Update: The giveaway is over, but check them out anyway! 😉

Remarks GiveawaySo that intro brings you to where I am at now.  When I was little, my bucket list consisted of marrying an amazing man, owning a home, having children and serving the Lord.

What happens when you do all that?

What happens when you try to plan?

What’s next…..


This entire subject is a bit difficult to talk about for me.
At the end of her life, I would often ask my mom the question: “What did you expect?” and that question would come when she and I were at an impasse of how I had to take time off from work to take her to a doctor’s appointment, or to the store late in the evening when I wanted to be at home with all three of my kids and my husband.  I would usually ask her that question after she told me that she was “sorry” I had to take her places.

She never actually answered that question.

I kind of wish she did.  I would have been blessed by the answer to know if she planned to marry another man, if she wanted to get back together with my father, or if she really thought her children would always take care of her.

I would tell her often, “This is the way it’s supposed to be” and I would tell her that because I believed it, and I knew if she heard me say it, it was going to make her feel a little bit better about her need for someone to take care of her.

<Big sigh.> I miss that woman but I’m glad she’s free.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:4-5

The bible tells me that the Lord has plans for us, and I truly believe that.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalms is my favorite book of the bible because of its wisdom BUT it also has a ton of warnings.

Psalm 94:11New International Version (NIV)

The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.

I think one of the hardest things to do as I have gotten older is to begin dreaming again.

Many times as a believer I’ve been challenged with the choice to do one thing for myself or do something for someone else in need and one of the greatest examples of this for any parent is usually things you do for your children.

And those are the moments for me that the Lord whispers in my ear that he is my parent too.  He wants me to feel the love of a parent sacrificing everything and anything so that I can enjoy this life.  I now know, and feel that it’s okay to dream again.

I’ve gotten better at dreaming and my screen shot above is my proof.  I started a bucket list on my cell phone. (I can’t get the credit for doing it as it was a friends idea first.) 

There’s a few more ideas in my head, including seeing a volcano and lava flow in real life, which our family hopes to accomplish in August in Hawaii.  I also want to start a Pinterest board with my bucket list items, including ones we accomplish.

My understanding of “bucket lists” is to think of things you really want to do before you leave this earth.  There’s a tinge of excitement that I have when I see this list, but with all the cautiousness of a well-trained Christian woman who knows that our time is short and we do not know when the Lord will take it from us.

I’m not writing this blog post for other people to read and have some profound moment of clarity.  I’m writing it for myself and my children, so that they know that if I make it to retirement age and beyond, I did everything I can to 1. serve the Lord, 2. take care of them, and 3. enjoy the life I’ve been given.  Three things my mom taught me and personally lived.

I believe there is a balance and I know the Lord wants us to enjoy his creation (lava flows), what others have done through his/her talents (Michelangelo’s art), and being a steward of the money we earn that is really His to begin with (hence, giving, giving, giving.)

With however much time I have left on this earth I want to live it to the fullest.  I pray and hope continuously that my family and I get the chance to do the things that please the Lord, as He is what it’s all really about anyway.

Is there anything on your bucket list?

Do you or did you have a hard time making a bucket list too?

Have a great week and continue to be and feel blessed friends.