Week Fifty of Fun and Crazy

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It’s been a busy week.

Busy in the nicest sense of the word.

You have to remember something about me though – I am the tree-up after Thanksgiving, mamma of three little people, Christmas card sending, Pinterest freak of woman who loves the precious moments that don’t always get recorded.

But, with that said, here’s what we were up to this week –

Making Ninjabread cookies may become a new tradition in our house for Christmas.

Making Ninjabread cookies may become a new tradition in our house for Christmas.

Sunday was a typical “funday” for us.  After church we made some Ninjabread cookies.  I made the frosting with too much water, so the “white” did not show up but it was made out of powdered sugar, so it was still sweet.  I finished addressing all of the Christmas cards, and my husband and I finished up the monthly calendar.

Monday night was the first of the two Christmas musicals we are attending for our children this year.  My baby E had been working hard to get his moves right for the precious performance, and there’s nothing like children singing to brighten your week up.

Our youngest son is in the center of the sea of children.

Our youngest son is in the center of the sea of children.

On Tuesday I got the news that I was “officially” moving from Construction to Design.  I will be in the Special Projects section of the Engineering Dept. I work at, and it was partially a relief (because the waiting game is over) and partially sad, as I leave a season of my life that was exceptional.

I keep moving forward, as Walt Disney himself said. (I got that from the movie Meet the Robinsons.)

With that said, I was assigned a project relatively quickly to perform inspection on-site at a project at Millerton Lake. The only description I will give for right now is that I am blessed to have a job.  We’ll see how it plays out.

I’ve been told by many that this transition will probably turn out to be for the best.  I totally get that on a logical, brain-functioning level.  But my heart is still healing from the pain of being transitioned by forces that I cannot control.

Unfortunately, this is the government in action for you.

It affects people and you don’t even know.

I understand that some don’t care about me or my family because they’re too wrapped up in their own lives, but I also want people to know that I am a person with a life and commitments that make it so that I can produce three functioning members of society that will hopefully one day be paying taxes, helpful citizens of the community and dare I say, make a difference in the world, even if it’s in the lives of only a few.

Still – I’ll bet you don’t normally get a view like this for your job. Wed121015-Week50

But I digress.

Thursday and Friday both seemed to fly by.

My husband and I did our calendar planning for upcoming events and knew that Saturday was going to be a long day.

It didn’t disappoint though!

We had been planning a Star Wars Episodes IV – VI marathon for several weeks now at the church we attend.

As everyone knows, the new Force Awakens movie is going to start showing on December 18, 2015. No, we don’t have tickets for the first day but we are planning on going the first week it’s open.

We started out Saturday taking a photo in front of our tree, and yes, that’s a Darth Vader mask adorning the top of the Christmas tree.  I call this “the Force is with us” Christmas season.

You do not have permission to use this photo for anything.

You do not have permission to use this photo for anything.

I knew watching three movies back to back for anyone would be difficult, but I was glad we had twenty or so people who stuck it out the whole time we were at church to watch all three movies.Marathon at Church 2015

The main idea was to be together, and that’s what our family did.

I did have a brief argument with my husband about staying at the church for almost eight-hours, but we worked it out as we always do.

I’m terrible, I know, but I loved it!  I’ve never watched all three movies back to back like this before.

Sure, I’ve ran them back to back at our home, but I’ve never been able to watch them back to back.  There’s a huge difference there.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the new movie more than ever, and the thing I’m looking forward to the most are the things that make Star Wars enjoyable – good triumphs over evil, unexpected plot twists, and not knowing what’s going to happen next.  Let’s hope they keep those main things in the storyline.

See you soon,

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Craftsy


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.


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!


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!


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


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.


Week Two Round Up of Fun and Crazy

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It’s already the second weekend of the year and there is still so much to do.

My hope for you is that you feel like you’ve hit some marks getting towards your goals and you’ll see the next week through with the Lord’s guidance.

Here’s what my family has been up to this week.

It’s been a long week.  I am tired.  If I didn’t take a few photos and write a few notes here and there, I would have only remembered the last few days.

Starting on Sunday, January 4, my husband and oldest were the only ones who went to church.  We had been fighting pink eye this week and we didn’t want to give it to anyone at church, just in case so me and the two youngest stayed home.

Week Two of Fun and CrazyAfter church, my oldest asked to do finger knitting again, so he sat next to me while I crocheted a yellow hat for my youngest.  My youngest had been asking me for a Minion hat and I hope to finish it this coming week.

On Tuesday, I got the chance to journal a bit and I wrote out my favorite form of motivation.  After much thought, I realized that it is ‘seeing progress.’  The top three things that motivate me are (1) An organized system, or one that has been proven to work, (2) beauty in the system – meaning that when it looks simple and pretty (think gorgeous Pinterest pins and set-ups), and (3) accountability.  When I know that someone is checking on me, I get motivated to do what I was asked to do or supposed to do, such as an assignment at work or having the personal trainer ask me how healthy I ate during the week.

Why do I mention this?

Because sometimes I write stuff down, and it’s not necessarily in the blog format.  I carry around with me a journal of all types, the one seen in my lap while I crochet.  There are crochet patterns in there, notes to self, random brain dumps, to-do lists, etc. all just to get it out of my head.  I need it and it works for me.

I wrote a blog post on Tuesday, just because I felt like it.  It’s call A Day in My Life – Lately. Over it I go over what seems like the mundane things, but why they are important.  I know I have an affect on others lives.  I am privileged to know so many people and want them to know they are important.  This is something I hope to pass onto my children – that they are here for a purpose, even if it was to put a toilet seat on their mothers potty or take photos of a roadway.

Wednesday was where it was wonderfully calm.  I was still stressed out but my children and husband needed me and I was there for them.  I don’t even remember what happened that day.  That in itself is pretty sad but at the same time, I am glad for the mundane.

Thursday the 8th we had a Cub Scout Den meeting after work.  Oldest at a Bear Den Meeting - Req. 5aWe covered two parts of Requirement No. 5, part a, do a poster on your favorite animal and part e, name and talk about an animal that is extinct.

My oldest has always enjoyed learning about the caiman.  He’s written papers on the caiman before and today was no exception.  Below is a close up of the poster and I posted this particular photo on Instagram.

Caimans - Look at the drawing!Look at that drawing!  I just think it’s so wonderful that he put so much detail work into his caiman picture.  I didn’t notice until we got home that he even turned the letter “c” in the name of “caimans” to make it look like another caiman by drawing legs on it.  Where does he come up with these things?  Children are just amazing.

We’re planning a Den outing on January 19th to go to the zoo together to meet another couple requirements for part 5.  I’m looking forward to it.

Friday came and I had planned to work out in the field again.  I left the office in my truck around 830 AM and was at my destination by about 9.  I spent all morning in the field and got a phone call from my mom at 1055 AM.  She sounded exhausted and told me that she had fallen and couldn’t reach the phone until just then.  I told her to call 911 to go the hospital because she mentioned that she thought her hand was broken.  She asked me if I could come pick her up and I told her that by the time I got back to my car and switched it out, it would be at least an hour.

This was my mom's hand on Friday in the hospital.  DeAndrasCrafts.com

This was my mom’s hand on Friday in the hospital. DeAndrasCrafts.com

Long story short.

My dad ended up going over there to pick her up.  After refusing to go the hospital at least three times, my father told her that even if she went to dialysis, they would have sent her to the hospital.  She finally went and was at the ER before 1230 PM.  She didn’t have a broken hand – it ended up being a really bad bruise and given her complications, it will look like that for quite a long time.

She had spent all morning on the floor, not near a phone.  It’s terrifying to me and I wasn’t even there.

We are praying that the Lord guides my brother and I as well as the doctors to do what is best for her, obviously trying to grant her wishes.

This is why I am tired.  She spent over 24-hours in the ER.  Did I mention she went to the ER last week?  I found out this makes hospitals look bad.  You know, when patients go back to a hospital because of the same exact thing that happened a week before.

She couldn’t get up from a fall. 

Her potassium levels are too high for her to get out right now.  I am grateful the doctors and nurses are taking care of her.

Seriously though.  This is emotionally exhausting.  This is what reminds me that I can’t do it all.

I’m going to go see her tomorrow.  I also took off next Tuesday just to take her to an appointment, assuming she’s out of the hospital.

This was part of the crazy week I had.

Again, it wasn’t all bad and exhausting.

Saturday I went to a day long ladies retreat and left feeling spiritually alive.  I was still exhausted from spending the night-owl hours in the ER with my mom, but I felt better and know that God has a purpose and a plan for everything.  My wonderful husband took care of the kiddos that day and they went to a birthday party.

I came home and found out my mom was still in the ER. As I write this it’s Sunday the 11th.  I’ll post more about the day itself next week but I will say my mom now has her own room and will be there through Monday.

I hope you had a great week.  I’m going to try to go to bed now. Big hug!


Week One Round-Up of Fun & Crazy

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Round Up Week 1

Our #scarfie photo only took four tries to get right! I made the kids scarves and am wearing one I made for myself too.

Week one for me “ends” on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

And it has been a really rough start to the new year.

My mom went to the hospital on the first day of the new year with pain in her legs and was unable to walk around herself.  She needed an extra dialysis, which is becoming a more frequent need in her ability to function.

My father, her estranged husband who is a better grandfather than he ever was as a father, has been helping me out while I take care of my children and try to continue to keep a job and be a wife/mom/daughter/sister, etc. and this is during his own recovery from open heart surgery in November.

Some could say “crazy” is my middle name.  This week proved that I can tackle crazy like a boss.

Here’s the weekly round up of fun and crazy in the life of DeAndrasCrafts.com:

Monday - December 29 - Thank you!

Monday – December 29 – Thank you!

On Monday, I went to work and didn’t notice until almost 1015 AM that I had the “Thank You” sticker my youngest son put on me from the local supermarket.

I sent the photo to the left to my husband and told him I felt like a true mommy today!

He told me to own the sticker like a boss and continue to wear it.  I did for a while, but chickened out around lunch and took it off.

Tuesday and Wednesday (December 30 & 31) were great.  I worked out in the field on those days, something I didn’t think I was going to be doing much since going back into the office a couple of weeks ago.

I took off part of the day on the 31st so my husband could go to the doctor.  He was diagnosed with a slew of ailments, one of which was bronchitis, and was put on antibiotics with icky side-effects.  He also took it like a boss.

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My daughter's Hello Kitty head is finished - direction are from the Book Hello Kitty Crochet by Mei Li Lee

My daughter’s Hello Kitty head is finished – direction are from the Book Hello Kitty Crochet by Mei Li Lee

In the afternoon of the 31st, I began working on my daughter’s Hello Kitty crocheted stuffed animal from the Hello Kitty crochet book I got for Christmas.  The pattern is definitely for a seasoned crochet-er and I’m going to have to purchase pink brads for the cheeks and some pink tulle.  I almost can’t believe I don’t have any pink tulle (for the ballerina dress, page 16) lying around….

We stayed up with the two oldest until 9 PM on the 31st, and I rang in the new year in tired mommy and daddy fashion of staying up until about 10 PM and going to bed.  My husband was in bed before I was and the only reason I stayed up was to read a chapter of Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze’s book, “Smart Money Smart Kids.”

I’m trying to read twelve (12) books this year as part of my goals, and I chose this one as the first one to complete because I’ve had it for a while and it is SO IMPORTANT!

Thursday was the day my mom went into the hospital.  She ended up getting additional dialysis, and that made her feel much better.  My father was instrumental in getting her over there, and helping me out on Friday evening when she got out.

The first of the new year wasn’t fun in our house as we are still dealing with pink eye that my youngest son brought home with him last week around Christmas.  It’s been difficult to say what the worst thing has been about the experience of pink eye – it’s either the giving-your-child-eye-drops or the fact that it doesn’t seem to go away!  Ugh.

This is my "Do Over" plan for the next 10 days.  I am planning on reconnecting with my family through writing, journaling and blogging.  #DoOverBook by Jon Acuff

This is my “Do Over” plan for the next 10 days. I am planning on reconnecting with my family through writing, journaling and blogging. #DoOverBook by Jon Acuff

The evening of Thursday, January 1, 2015 I began a 10-day challenge from the author Jon Acuff.

You can read more about this here: 10-day Do Over Challenge

So far, so good in my “Doing Over.” As I write this post I am three days into the challenge and I’ve got a game plan for blogging about our family’s weekly events, good or bad.  I’ve also started an enormous list of “To Do’s” that I plan on organizing and separating by month, by need, by want and by importance.  My Type A brain is so excited about getting organized and hopefully in the process a little more simplified (hitting those 2015 goals!)

On Friday, the two oldest and I learned how to finger knit.  I think the hardest part for me was watching and listening to my 3 (almost 4-year old) complain that he wasn’t doing it.  After working with my five year old daughter, I’ve determined that finger knitting is definitely for children ages (mature) 5 years old and up (at least in my family.)

We used Lion Brand Homespun yarn. – Click on the link to look at it on Amazon.

RUW1-Finger KnittingThe 9-year old was able to catch onto the pattern of wrapping the yarn around the fingers easily, something the 5-year old wasn’t able to grasp as easily and I had to watch her wrap the yarn around her fingers so she wouldn’t miss a loop.  We watch a video by Fiber Flux on You Tube, and although the oldest admitted it was cool to learn, he was done after about 15-minutes or so.  The five year old spent a little more time with it, but she too was done after 20-minutes.  We were all trying to keep our hands to ourselves (so the pink eye could stop being spread around) and I was hoping this was going to take more time up during the day.

Oh well.

I was blessed Saturday morning by my children not getting out of bed until 7 AM.  My coffee was hot and I turned on the fireplace to blog by the fire.  It was a day of taking down the Christmas tree and putting all the Christmas stuff away.  It seems bittersweet but like we tell our children, it’s all about making Christmas a special time of year.

For next week: I am hoping and praying for normalcy to resume in our household once again next week.  It was a productive week though, despite the unfortunate interruptions of having to get my mom from the hospital and dealing with a sick husband and pink-eyed kiddos. I’m hoping to start my goal board this week and get the kids excited about doing life together.