Today, I turn 40 and 25….

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Birthday cake candles cake
Today’s my birthday.

I turn 40 years old today.  But more importantly, I turn 25-years old today as well.

Twenty-five years ago today, sometime before noon, I felt called to give my life to Christ through baptism.  It was during a period of time before everyone had cameras on his/her phones, and I didn’t wake up that morning thinking that I was going to get baptized so I don’t have a record of it except my memory.  I might have a bible with the date in it somewhere, but I also didn’t save many things from my youth so I would be surprised if I actually kept that.

I’ve haven’t shared my story of my baptism before, and I want my children to get to know their mama in every aspect, so I’m putting it in writing for the world to know that as I turn forty-years old, I am also turning twenty-five.


I was born and raised a Christian my entire life.

I knew nothing else.  I didn’t attend other churches of other faiths and thankfully, I’ve never known a life without Christ.

Even during some of my dumbest decisions, I know Christ was waiting for me, in the proverbial hallway, waiting for me to open the door I had shut very tightly and was holding closed by my own two hands.

I have a vivid memory of the day I got baptized.

My cousins joined us at church that day, and although we were always, and that’s always, late to church, I remember the Associate Preacher (or pastor) spoke that day.  I couldn’t tell you what the message was about, and I couldn’t tell you what the preachers name was either.  I feel like the Lord doesn’t want me to remember so that I can only give credit to Him for what happened next.

The Church I have attended for the majority of my life has always had a “system” that follows the basic outline:

  • The preacher preaches a sermon until about 1145 AM or so.
  • The preacher then asks the congregation if anyone would like to come forward to give his/her life to Christ or request prayers.
  • There is a song, followed by a baptism if applicable, and then followed by another song and a closing prayer and church is over by noon.

So on the day I got baptized, the preacher completed his sermon and asked if anyone would like to come forward.

The next thing I remember was sitting in the front pew asking the preacher to baptize me.

Just like that. Bible

Later as I recall the moment in time I “chose” to go up to the front of the congregation to ask to be baptized, I felt as if I was being pushed to go up there. I absolutely knew that I was supposed to get baptized that day.  Don’t ask me how, or why, but I truly felt called.

Now because I didn’t plan it, I didn’t have an extra set of clothes, or anything ready to get changed into prior to getting wet.  A few ladies rushed me in this back room behind the baptismal, gave me an adult sized white jumpsuit, and told me to change into it.

I was asked to confess that I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came to the world to save me from my sins.

After my confession, I remember not being able to breath.

The way another preacher described the moment later in time as I witnessed ten baptisms in a row was exactly how I felt that day:

I remember feeling like I died.


Now listen – I get it.

You may think that’s crazy, and maybe it is.  But that’s the feeling I had.

For the few seconds my body was in the water, something happened to me and the only way to describe it was that I truly believe my old self died.  I was lifted out of that water a new person, still imperfect, but made perfect through Christ.

After I was immersed, and got out of the water, the same ladies that asked me to change brought me a towel and my clothes and as soon as I changed I took my first communion.

I remember my mom crying and hugging me after I came out from the back.  The church had already ended for the day and a few members waited for me to come out from the back of the baptismal to hug me and congratulate me.

My mom, not being prepared at all, took us to Ole Fri-ole for lunch, even though now I know she really couldn’t have afforded it back then.

I remember getting home and calling my dad, and he was sorry he missed the event.  I told him I didn’t know I was going to get baptized that day, and I know he was happy for me.

Overall, I have very straight forward memories of the day.

I remember being tested in my faith soon after getting baptized, and failing those tests.

As I watch people getting baptized now, I recall that day, more than ever, as a time that I didn’t have control of.  If you know me personally at all, I DO NOT like NOT having control.  I can’t stand not knowing what’s going to happen next.

Now that I get to look back at it 25 years later, I realize I wasn’t in control, and I’m so glad.  I feel so blessed to be able to rely on the Lord for those eternal decisions, even when I feel like I made certain choices about it.

Hopefully you don’t read this blog post and think, “Oh boy – D’Andra believes in pre-destination….

No, I really don’t.  I do believe God has a plan.  You can quote me on that.

And I also believe that we as people make choices, whether right or wrong, that the Lord uses for his glory.

It’s my hope that you know the Lord loves you so much that he sent his only Son for you.

It’s my hope that you devote your life to Christ even though you know you are imperfect.  That’s why I need Him.  Because I’m so very imperfect.

I’m so glad I got to be picked to be with Him for eternity.  I hope you make that choice too.  If you have and/or when you do, it’s how you know you were picked too. 😉

Be blessed today.  I’m being blessed because it’s my birthday.  I get to celebrate two birthday’s today and for that, I am eternally grateful.

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Bucket List Check – Half Marathon Before 40

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DeAndrasCrafts finishes her halfUp until recently, I hadn’t had a bucket list.

Like, up to ~ last year ~ recently.

I knew I wanted to accomplish things, and many of those things had consisted of items most female Americans want like purchasing a house, marrying a great man, and having children.

But to say that I knew “what else” I wanted to do with my life ~ those moments of clarity didn’t come until my mother got really sick.  (Feel free to read the “Bucket List” post.  That’ll tell you more.)

But I digress.

I checked off one of my bucket list items recently and that was to run a half marathon before I turned 40-years old.

Done. DeAndrasCrafts Finished

Checked.

What’s next, right?


Well, let me tell you, if you haven’t read this blog before and you don’t know me personally, I’ve been training for running this race for 12-weeks. Feel free to read up on my running plan here: January Run Goal Update.

I’ve been waking up early to get run time in.  {See the hastag: #DsHalfMarathon on Instagram for my training progress in photos.}

I’ve been seemingly (at least it felt like I was) putting off everything else until I got this race done.  Blog posts, namely….

And now….

Now I’m writing a blog post to remind myself what I had to do to get this far.

I guess this blog post should be titled

Things people never tell you when you prepare to run a half marathon.

1. Be in the phase of learning again.

This is one of those things that is very telling of how you understand life.  It doesn’t matter how you learn, i.e. reading/writing (visual), audiotory, or tactile, “learning” the ins and outs about running is key to running and enjoying it.  Without learning about it, you may hit the wall hard, and not be able to recover from it.  Just remember this: If you don’t like something about it and don’t learn what to do to change it, there’s nothing that can help you.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

I spent the past 12-weeks teaching myself how to endure over 2-1/2 hours of running. Of how to eat.  Of how to step on my feet as I run.  I even had a time where I ran for the first time for 13.1 miles, just to get a feel for how it was going to be.

2.  Learn to wake up really early.

The moon is 'setting' on one of my early morning runs.

The moon is ‘setting’ on one of my early morning runs.

Whether you like it or not, running in the morning is way better than running at night.  Unless you don’t have a full-time job (I do) and can run during the day (I cannot) then running in the morning was so much easier than I anticipated.  I’ve done it both ways and learning to run in the morning is not only extremely efficient, but gets my day started, almost before I’ve truly woken up.

3.  Learn to go to the bathroom, really early.

This is something no-one may ever tell you.  It’s not “taboo” per-se, but nobody likes to talk about it either.  Being in the middle of a “long” run and having to go to the bathroom, like REALLY GO TO THE BATHROOM, is not only horrible, but could have been a deal breaker for me.  I mean like, I could have been traumatized by results of having to go number 2 if I didn’t learn how to do this.

4.  Your toes will look hideous.

Here are my bandaged up feet before the half marathon. Definitely something nobody told me about before I trained for a half.

Here are my bandaged up feet before the half marathon. Definitely something nobody told me about before I trained for a half.

Again, not something people normally share with you when you’re a runner.  I love me some pedicures, but after I began running, pedicures became a true necessity.  To pamper my feet and give myself some grace when it came to comfortable shoes was very new to me.  Flip flops now hurt to wear.  My callouses are starting to be noticeable.  I’ve given up “cute feet” for runners feet, and I’m okay with it.

5.  You may or may not lose weight.

I’m still working on this one.  Before I began training for the half marathon, I was running up to 6 miles and losing weight pretty steadily, about a 1/4-pound every week.  When I started doing my high mileage runs (7-miles or more at one time), I had to eat more (see the learning comment above) and I gained about three pounds back.  Mentally, this was difficult to take in at first.  I really wanted to see my high–mileage runs be a benefit to my weight loss, but that just wasn’t the case for me, and again, that’s okay.  I finished a half marathon and will be working on getting into a smaller size in the future.

6.  The mental game is real.

IMG_7184[1]Oh my goodness can I attest to this.

No one ever told me how hard it would be to convince my brain that I could push through the 9th-mile, let alone the 11th.  The best way to describe this (for me) was at the first half marathon race I ran, I hit the wall at mile nine.  You can see my splits and just know that my mind told my body I couldn’t do it anymore.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to stop running and just walk.  I did stop running and just walk several times in the last four miles.  But I still finished, and will be working on getting under two and half hours for the next one….

7.  Finishing a half marathon is much like having a baby.

In my humble opinion, of course, this is probably the best way to describe running a half marathon and here’s why: I’m not sure I want to do it again. 

I got my moment of glory after I finished the race.

I “gave birth” (if you will) to my goal and not only were my expectations met, but they were exceeded by the challenge I was looking for and the pride that I wanted to feel after it was all done.

I’m not quite looking forward to the next one, yet.  (You probably understand this if you have at least one child.)  I’ve done it, and I’m not ready to commit to training for another half marathon.  I haven’t signed up for one, yet, and I haven’t really said that I want to do it again, yet.

I’ll be nursing my love of running for exercise for a while and maybe in the future consider “going for another one” – another half marathon, that is.

I’m sure I could add at least five more things to this list.  But, I’ll spare you the crazy and just let you know that I am so glad I did it!

I’m on day two of recovery and have a short run scheduled for myself tomorrow.  I need to learn to stretch better prior to and after a long run.

This "One Tough Mother" medal is also a wine cork! How cool is that! Click on the link to find out how you can get one!

This “One Tough Mother” medal is also a wine cork! How cool is that! Click on the link to find out how you can get one!

My next virtual race scheduled for late April is the One Tough Mother Run by Virtual Strides.  I’m dedicating this mother’s day themed virtual race to my mom.  I know she would be so proud of me!

I just signed up for another virtual 10K (6.25 miles) race today for the end of May.  Sheesh.  Who am I and what have I done with the old D’Andra?

Thanks for reading!
Virtual Strides


Breaking Down my New Year Goals-Physical

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2016 Started off Right!I have extremely ambitious goals for 2016.

You wouldn’t think I was ambitious as 2016 came into our home at 9 PM Pacific Time on December 31, 2015.

Our kids were in bed before 9:30, and I went to sleep before 10:30 PM.

This is what it’s like in my late thirties baby!

But….

The first thing I did on January 1, 2016 after I woke up and got ready was go for a run.

Overall Goal: Intentional Living

See the post about my goals here: Goals for 2016 – My Year of Twelves

This is the second post about how I intend on tackling my goals.  The first post was for my intellectual goals.

So my pattern for describing how I plan on tackling my goals for the year are the classic formula of who, what, when, where, how, and why, but not described in that order.

My What –

Out of the twelve goals I set for this year, my physical ones include:

  • Run 12 – miles a week until the half-marathon.  Then walk/run 12-miles a week thereafter.

  • Lose 12 pounds.

  • Drink 12 cups of water a day.

My How, Where and When –

  • Exercising two or three times a week at home using Amazon Prime videos or You Tube Videos.

  • Run at least three times a week around my home or on the trail nearby my home.

  • Losing weight while I run will be the bonus.

  • Set a reminder four times a day to remind me to drink my water.

Currently, I run and exercise in the evenings after my children go to sleep, when I wasn’t at the personal trainer.

Backstory – I had a personal trainer for the past two years, and it worked well because I was able to go right after work and come home early enough to feel like I got time to be with my children after 5 PM.

With my new position, I have to work 8 to 5.  (Recall ~or know ~ that this position was forced upon me.)

The plan now is to PERHAPS run in the morning (especially when it gets warmer) and exercise in the evening.

Other than continuing to eat low-carb as my “new normal” eating habits, I don’t plan on changing my diet.  I learned so much over the past year about eating healthy, that the only major change is that I will be running on a regular basis.

As far as the water is concerned, I only plan on setting my timer for the first two months of the year.  I’ve already put them into my IPhone, for 9 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM and 5 PM.  It’s for every day.

The last thing I want to tell you about is that I joined a virtual community called Run the Edge.  My husband and I are participating in a challenge called 2016 miles in 2016.  The idea is to run 2016 miles in 2016.  It sounds impossible, but you can have a team or in my case, my husband and I both joined.  The idea is to have a total of five miles a day.  They also are totally okay if you count those miles as walking miles.  I don’t plan on running everyday!

I’ll keep you posted on how we do throughout the year!

My Who & Why –

My husband wants to go with me on some of my runs.  He’s done this before and when my amazing mom-in-law is able to take care of the kids, it’s almost like a mini-date!  It’s been so fun.

Other than the sometimes-I-get-to-hang-out-with-my-husband, I have an additional reason of why taking care of myself is going to be a key component in 2016. In 2015, my mother passed away from diabetic complications, including heart disease. I know that her diseases were preventable, or at least, could have been better maintained.

My real reason “why” these goals are so important to me are because I can control what I eat, how and when I exercise and overall, know that I did my best to show my children that they were important enough to me to take care of myself.

These could potentially be some tough words for some people to read.

I get that.

I have no magic formula to convince you to make a few changes.  But I do want you to know that you are loved, and you do have control over some things, including how you take care of yourself.

Peace to you this week and stay tuned for how I’m going to tackle the next goal – Spiritual.

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Breaking Down My Goals – Intellectual

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Simply put, I am doing many of my goals for 2016 as realistically as possible.

If you read my first post of the year, about how I’m calling this My Year of Twelves, you might have thought to yourself that it’s impossible.

No one can do that many things.

Well, that just tells me that you don’t know me personally.

And that’s okay.

I thank you for finding and reading this blog.

Out of all the goals I set for myself, I really think the hardest will still be to read 12 books this year.

I read a total of eleven last year, and I’m barely imagining to exceed that number by one. Heh.

What I think might be the most interesting piece of this equation is how I find myself wanting to strive in this area, but not finding the time to do it.

Well ~ we’ll see what the new year brings.  This year I’ve declared that it will be “Intentional” and I’m not going to back down.

The question remains to be answered: Who, what, when, how, where and why is the goal to read 12 books this year going to be accomplished?

My Who, What, When & Where –

The following books are currently in my library and I hope to either start or finish them.  Maybe this list is a little short, but I intend on making the best of the things I’ve got this year, which includes not purchasing more books until I’ve read these listed! 2016 Books

  • With my oldest son, I am currently reading the Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The three books are titled “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers,” and “The Return of the King.” (We read “The Hobbit” last year and it was phenomenal.)
  • Last year, I bought a book called “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” by Brian D. McLaren that our church pastor recommended.  I started it, but admit-tingly, the language is not easy to follow for me and I only got to chapter seven.  (Does everyone know what the word “ecumenical” means? Page 37….)  Anyway, I plan on finishing this book this year.
  • I inherited two books from my mother that I am now ready to read this year.  One is “Sit, Walk, Stand” by Watchman Nee, and the other is “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops” by Laura Story.
  • A book that got recommended to me by a co-worker is by Gerald Durrell, called “My Family and Other Animals” to read with my children. The title is just intriguing and I hope it’s as good as she says it is.  Hopefully I’ll get to it after the Lord of the Rings series, or use it as a small reprieve between the Lord of the Rings books.
  • I’ve had a book on my shelf for a while that I literally had to wipe the dust off called “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Susie Omartian.  This is a book that will also cross-over into my personal Spiritual Goal Challenge as I intend on reading through all of it and doing the prayers in the book.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss was recommended by my personal trainer and I’m all over learning new ideas to get things done more efficiently.
  • The last book shown in the photo and on my list to read this year is “The Lando Calrissian Adventures” by L. Neil Smith.  I started this book many years ago and never finished it.  As a Star Wars fanatic, I love the world created between the time when there wasn’t any movies made after Return of the Jedi.  I’ve read several books and have two more lined up in my library if I get through this one this year.
  • The first book I might actually complete this year is by Roald Dahl, called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I purchased a Roald Dahl Collection Boxed Set last year, and this will be the second book we complete as I read it aloud to my family on a weekly basis.

If I’m able to get through the above books, I will have read a total of eleven.
I have a couple stand-by Star Wars books that I could delve into, but I also have a list a mile long of books I want to purchase and read when I can.

My How & Why –

I enjoy reading.

The hardest part for me is scheduling it “in-between” things.

One of the things that I recall from my childhood was my mother reading books aloud to my brother and I.  My mother read aloud to my brother well into the seventh and eighth grades, and I remember being “too cool” to listen to my mother reading as I was already a freshman or sophomore in high school.

As much as I regret not sitting by her as she read to my brother, she taught me the importance of reading and how valuable the time spent with my children will be to them after they grow up.

I use my children as an excuse now to read books that I didn’t get to read when I was younger.  This was the case with the Narnia series last year, and will be the case for the Lord of the Rings Series I hope to finish this year.

I also like to improve myself.  I like having control of things and it seems that while I realize the more I try to have control on things, the less control I actually have, there are areas of my life that can be controlled – such as diet, exercise, water consumption, and the knowledge I choose to incorporate into my life.  That last item is where reading really comes in.

Out of the eleven books I listed above, five of them are non-fiction.  I’m excited about that!  Three of them are listed as “devotional” but none-the-less, they are about self-improvement, and that’s the purpose of reading them in my case.

I’ll get those devotional books read, sometime, and somewhere.  It will be intentional, that’s for sure.

Do you have any books that are on your must-read list this year?  I’d love to know about it if you do!

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My 2016 Word of the Year

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My 2016 Word of the YearMany times in 2015, my husband and I felt like we were surviving.

There was much joy throughout the year, but there was also great sorrow and loss.

Read back to the past two posts and you can get a feel of what I’m talking about.  I’m not going to rehash them again.  There’s no need.

It’s time to move forward.

My husband and I really put our heads together to get our lives into more of a thriving mode for 2016.  When I look back on this post, I hope and pray that it’s a redeeming time for us, that we are able to say,

“Look what we’ve accomplished….  Look at how the Lord used us and our choices were more about Him, not us.”

  • I am going to be more intentional with my time.  This for me means less phone screen time.
  • I am going to intentionally pray for things when people have needs and especially when they ask.
  • I am going to be more intentional when I’m with my growing children.  Even if it means playing on the floor or playing a game I really don’t want to play.
  • I’m going to be more intentional with my goals.  I plan on breaking them down into small pieces (just like how everything else gets accomplished) and be realistic when it comes to what I can do with my time.
  • I’m going to be more intentional with my health, exercise, and eating habits.

This is my year of being more intentional.

What’s your word for the year?

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My 2015 Goals Wrap-Up

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2015 Goals Wrap-UpOn December 31, 2014, I wrote a relatively short blog post on my 2015 goals.

Here on December 30, 2015, I’m writing my notes-to-self about the success of my goals.

My 2015 Goals:

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.

So how did I do?

In August I gave a brief recap in this blog post: August Goals.

The first goal: Go to Hawaii.

  • Check.

The second goal: Organize and simplify my stuff.

  • Not checked off and we’re going to move on from this one….  It’s being added as a more trackable goal in 2016.

The third goal: Share my talents and gifts.

  • This one is hard to put into a check/not checked category.
  • Over the course of the year, I think I did pretty well with using my talents and gifts although I admit that I used up most of my superpower when my mom passed away.  My brother and I threw her a fantastic memorial service, what I believe of “just like she would have wanted” and that time of my life took a toll on my capabilities.
  • My husband and I felt like we survived throughout this past year more than thrived, and again, that’s something I want to change in 2016.  Stuff got done, vacations were taken, children had birthday parties, no body got seriously hurt, and that in itself, takes talent.

The fourth goal, and what I thought was going to be the hardest: read twelve books.

In my previous blog post to this one, I described the eleven (11) books I read throughout the year.  So I didn’t hit the twelve (12) number, but I also didn’t include the five or so small books in that total that I read with my daughter from the Fashion Fairies Series.  They’re cute for her age, but really, I just couldn’t bring myself to count them as part of the total.

I’ve got big dreams for this next year.  Stay tuned for more goals/dreams/aspirations for 2016 and I hope you will join me!

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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.


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!