Picture Perfect Valentines

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My youngest son's Valentine's for his class....

My youngest son’s Valentines for his class….

My daughter and my youngest son both wanted specific type of Valentines for their friends at school.

Being the crafty mommy that I am, I used a program called Pixlr and found photos online to use for her and his Valentines this year, and so far, it has been a huge success!

Similar to an Instructable I published here, I used photos I found online to write words on, print out at my local Walgreens Print shop, had my children sign their names to the cards, stick on a candy on it and “Whew!” All done.

I got the BB-8 with Kylo Ren photo from here: Game Informer dot com site.

My daughter wanted to make separate cards for the boys and girls.

We got the Monster High photo here: Oh My Fiesta in English – Monster High Link

The Minion photo came from the same website, but at this link: Oh My Fiesta in English – Minion Link

Again, I use a free program called Pixlr to add words to the photos, but it can also be done on Microsoft PowerPoint, and even in most standard Paint programs.  Pixlr allows you to add all kinds of other enhancements if you need a program to make memes and such….

Monster High Valentine Minion Valentine BB-8 Valentine

Here are my full-resolution cards for your use, and the only thing I ask is to give me credit on your website if you use them.  I printed them into a 4 x 6 version from our local Walgreens Photo Center, so the cost was minimal for my daughter’s 30-person class and my son’s 15-child class.

My children are usually good sports about signing the cards.

TFA Valentine-writing nameMy youngest son is turning five, so he was unable to use the hole punch without my help lining it up, but my six year old daughter was able to do that part by herself.

Minion Valentine-hole punchingThe only other thing we did was place one of the Cherry Tootsie Pops on each card, and for the BB-8 ones, my son placed a piece of tape on the back of the card to tape the stick down.

TFA Valentine-adding a lollipopAfter placing the lollipops, the envelope stuffing seemed to take the longest time, and of course, was the most boring.  Because all the cards are the same, I placed the cards into Ziploc bags labeled boy and girl for my daughter.

MH Valentine-Lollipop addedHomemade Valentines can still look cool and be special with just a little work.  And now that my children are old enough, I don’t hardly have to do any of the work!

Thanks for reading.  I hope I can get my oldest son’s Valentines up for everyone to see and use.



Breaking Down My Goals – Spiritual

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When I first wrote out my twelve goals of twelve this year, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish some of it.

This goal is the one I should be tackling first as there is nothing more important than serving the Lord and how to serve Him better, yet I admit that I have a hard time “scheduling” a devotional time.

This post goes over my plan to devote time to prayer.

A gift never used for the greatest gifts given to meMy first child was born in 2005, shortly after the date of this note that was written in the book, “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian.

This book was a gift, and as many times of life happen, I didn’t open the book to read it (or I don’t recall opening it) until January 2016 – just over ten years after receiving it.

Judge me if you will, but now is the time.

My goal this year in this “category” is to pray twelve intentional prayers.

By just skimming the contents of this book, it appears there are at least 31.

As this book is on my list of books to read this year, I will be selecting twelve of the prayers, or perhaps fewer, to write out and read over again and again.

I plan on trying to schedule my devotional time during my lunch hours at least two times a week.  I also want to get into a better habit of reading on Sunday nights, and this book will be one of the first on that list.

My goal will be met on a tangible basis by intentionally writing out twelve prayers in a notebook to look over, and write notes on if those prayers get answered, and if not, know that it’s all in God’s timing anyway.

I am in constant prayer for my children’s safety, health and overall well being, but I know I could be both praying more for them, and for more specific things that so many others ask for, when they reach out to ask for prayer.

That’s what I intend to accomplish this year.

Do you have any spiritual goals you’re working on?  Any devotionals that seem to be calling your name for the year?

I would love to know.

Thanks for reading as always,

Name for Blog Posts


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!

Name for Blog Posts


Goals for 2016 – My year of Twelve’s

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2016 Goals - My Year of 12'sI know, I know, you’re thinking “Twelve’s? What’s that all about?  It’s two-thousand and SIXTEEN!”

It just hit me one day in late December.

I announced to myself in my head “This year I’m going to do 12 of each thing!

“What does that mean exactly?” I had to ask myself.


Last year, I tried to read twelve books throughout the year.  I only got to eleven but that “12” number really stuck with me.

I remember when I first met my husband – he and I couldn’t believe that our favorite number was 12. Meaning, individually, but shared.  (You know, those dumb little things you talk about when you’re 18-years old and dating.)

One could say that the number twelve just has meaning to me.

There’s 12-months in a year, so why not set up twelve tangible goals?

I based this list off of a prompt from Rachel Cruze’s website: Seven Areas to Focus your Goals.

One night in late December, my husband and I sat down together after the kids went to bed and brainstormed our yearly goals.  Truth be told – up to that point in our marriage, I don’t think we’ve ever done this.  Sure we talked about things we wanted in life, but we never came up with goals.

We talked about everything from the garden, the children, financial goals, certain areas of life that are more important than other and certain areas of life that need to take priority.  It was awesome.

Out of that brainstorming session, I gathered my thoughts into the groups listed on Rachel Cruze’s site.

  1. Intellectual
  2. Physical
  3. Spiritual
  4. Family
  5. Social
  6. Career
  7. Financially

DeAndrasCrafts Goals for 2016

  • Read 12 books this year.

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

  • Lose 12 pounds.

  • Publish 12 blog posts a month.

  • Plant/maintain 12 different types of plants this year.

  • Drink 12 cups of water a day.

  • Save $12,000 this year.

  • Plan 12 intentional events with the family.

  • Write out 12 prayers based on the bible.

  • Tackle 12 crocheting projects, either started or new.

  • Create 12 handmade gifts.

  • Complete 12 home improvement projects (of any kind.)

The key to this list for me is to remember that small accomplishments are big ones.  For example: Twelve cups of water a day may not seem difficult, but I don’t track my intake of water.  I want to change that habit and KNOW how much water I’ve consumed in a day.

Over the course of the next month, I’ll be writing about HOW I intend on tackling this list.  My-actual-doing-things.

It sounds impossible, I know!  But this year, I’m making things Intentional, and for the purpose of giving the Lord all the glory for the talents and gifts he’s given me.

I hope you’ve come up with your list of goals.  It’s not too late to start.  Whenever you read this.

Name for Blog Posts


2015 Year in Review

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2015 Year In ReviewThis year has brought it’s ups, downs, and everything in between.

Much like a Facebook and their version of a “Year in Review” I tried really hard to post photos and memories of my life in this blog.  It ended up being like one of those generated memes of expectation vs. reality….

My Recap:

Blog Wise ~

I posted seventeen (17) blog posts.

I began (drafted) four (4) blog posts that didn’t get published.

I posted seven (7) Instructables this year.  You can also see these on my Instructables tab.  They are shown from the most recent published.

Family Wise ~

My mother passed away in January.

My father successfully recovered from his open heart surgery in 2014 and was able to take care of his grandchildren once again in late February of this year.

My mother-in-law went through her cancer treatments and beat cancer.

My children began swim lessons this year and my oldest ~almost~ passed the highest level (Level 10.)

We went to Hawaii as a family this year.

Our youngest had the last adorable season of youth-soccer, where they don’t keep score and we’re just out there for fun. <Sigh.>

Kids playing soccer just for fun....

Intellectually ~

I read a total of eleven (11) books this year!  Three of them were non-fiction.  My goal was twelve, and I really wanted to count the Rainbow Magic Fashion Fairies that I completed with my daughter, but I didn’t.

Five books completed from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’

The Silver Chair

and “The Last Battle

With my oldest I read a fun book called “The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes.

We completed “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien this year, and we started on the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring in the beginning of December.

As a family, we read “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl.  That book is VERY DIFFERENT from the movie.

I personally finished the book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze called “Smart Money Smart Kids“.

My trainer gave me a book that I enjoyed reading (a health book!) by Dr. Kelly Starrett called “Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally.”

Lastly, I read a book with fellow believers from our church.  That book was “Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint” by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  It was…interesting and overall, a good read but it’s not for the new Christian in my humble opinion.

Health Wise/Physically ~

The biggest thing that happened this year was that I was able to lose 31 pounds in seven months.  I’ve gained about four of those pounds back, but I’m on the way to getting those holiday pounds off by continuing to run.

I’ve managed to avoid taking cholesterol medication that the doctor was going to prescribe me.

I’m also grateful that I’m completely recovered from my knee surgery back in August 2014.  The left knee though….  We’ll just have to see what happens next year.

And Career Wise ~

This is where the “adulting” part of life gets tricky.

I am so grateful for the job I have.  It pays well, I get to leave everything at the office and not take work home with me, and I have great co-workers.

The upper management people are …

well, they are …

hard to deal with to say the least.

As this is a public blog, I will put it like this: follow me on Instagram, and you can get an idea of my life on a daily basis.  I used the hashtag #DsLastProject and there’s 19 photos that will show you how much I loved the job I used to have.

As of January 11, 2016, that will be changing permanently and I will be permanently assigned to a desk job in the Special Projects Section of Design.

A government worker at her finest.

Yup.

~ In Summary ~

  • The first part of the year sucked.
  • My mom went to be with the Lord and the best way to describe how I feel is by repeating what someone told me: Grief comes like a thief.  It steals your joy when you least expect it, despite how well you seem to be doing.
  • No truer words have been spoken to me about my mom’s passing.  I am grateful of everything she taught me, and I know where she is but boy does it suck sometimes not having her around.
  • In April 2015 I made the decision to follow whatever my personal trainer told me to do.  My number one goal was to lose as much weight as I could before I went to Hawaii.  I did it.  I think I lost about 25-pounds before we left in August and when we came back, I began running to hit my next year’s goal – running and completing a half-marathon race.
  • We went to Hawaii in August 2015.  What a place.  We will be going back.
  • Children’s birthday’s and the year-end holiday’s have gone off without a hitch.  (Knocking on wood and praising the Lord right now!)
  • My husband and I have written goals down for the upcoming year, and I have lofty goals for 2016.

I say bring it.

I hope you bring it too.

As always, thanks for reading.

Name for Blog Posts


Make Memorable. Create a photo gift.


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,

Name for Blog Posts

Craftsy


The Changing of the Times of Life

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The Changes of the Times of LifeAfter I wrote this post, I realized that it might speak to others as it did to me while I wrote it.  Be assured that I wrote this blog post to myself, to get things off my chest, but if it speaks to you, more power to you as well.


“I am who I am.”

The Lord said this to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (NIV).

I’ve been reflecting on this for the last few days.

Moses asked the Lord what he was supposed to tell the Israelite’s when they questioned him about who he spoke to on the mountain.

How was Moses supposed to tell people who haven’t heard the Lord’s call that he was sent by the Lord himself?

I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like.


As you can potentially theorize, I have been questioning who I am lately.

The Lord never questions who He is.  He’s the Lord.  I get that.

I understand and know I am child of His.  I understand that I was placed on this planet to serve Him.

But what about the in-between?

I figured out today that what I have been questioning about myself lately is not “who” but “what.”

What is it that makes up the person that I am?

That, is where I am struggling.

Aside from the truth that I know I am a child of the almighty king and that will never change –

I challenged myself to come up with a general list of things that I enjoy doing and of things that are important to me, that I can refer back to the next time I question what makes up this woman whom the Lord blesses on a daily basis.

  • I am a wife.
  • I am a mom.
  • I am an Engineer.
  • I am a crocheter.
  • I am a crafter/maker.
  • I am a sister.
  • I am a daughter, niece, aunty, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law.
  • I am a sister-in-Christ.

I typed those up just as they came to me.  My therapist would probably tell me that I prioritize my life by this list.

It seems simple right?

But I have been questioning lately what SHOULD BE on that list.

Here’s the things I thought of next –

  • I am a runner.
  • I am blogger.

The second list is more telling of the things I want to be better at.

The first list makes me nervous.  It forces me to analyze what I have been prioritizing in my life.  My husband and I are “those people” who most friends don’t know how we do it all.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how we do it all except that we have more than our share of people who help us daily.

So what does all this mean to me and why am I posting such a random blog post about myself and my life?

Because of the title of this blog post –

The Changing of the Times of Life

My mom passed away this year.

I began a journey of self-discipline and pushing myself to complete running a half-marathon before I turn forty next year.

My “day job” description will be changing soon.

My children are growing up…. And the list could go on and on.

Supervisors have come and gone at work and rules have been set up as well as ideologies that I don’t necessarily agree with.  As I spend about sixty percent (60%) of the waking hours of my day getting ready for work, driving to work and at work itself, it leaves approximately seven (7!) waking hours for everything else.

Work is a big part of my day.

Exercise and meal prep is a big part of my day.

Reading to my children, getting the next day prepped and hanging out with my husband (to do whatever grownups get to do together) are a big part of my day/evenings.

As I write this, I’ve convinced myself that it’s no wonder why I feel like I’m just-barely-making-it on a daily basis.

But is it really any different for anyone else?

I’ve made the choice to be in a high-stress job, that comes with the income and benefits as well as potential job ideologies that I don’t agree with.  I know I can get another job and am choosing not too.

I’ve made the choice to live a healthy lifestyle (especially compared to how I used to eat) and to do meal prep and include exercise.

I choose to read to my children in the evenings rather than sit and crochet/craft or blog, and I choose to be with and talk with my husband about life after my children go to bed.

I choose to sleep for at least seven hours.

I watch one show a week for one hour a week and try to crochet when I get the chance literally midst making dinners, prepping lunches and cleaning up the tornadoes that happen with toys and clothes on a daily basis in my home.

I may not be in control of everything I’m involved in, but I’m in control of some things and this post is to help me remember what those things are despite the changing of the times in my life.

I also am who I am.  I know because of the Lord I can handle it.

Whew.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Onward!


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!