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-one of fun & crazy

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Bo on the Go!

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

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

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

That would have been nice to know BEFORE SUNDAY!

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

My big one moved up in swim class!

My oldest moved up in swim class this week!

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

My shadow at one of my project sites.

My shadow at one of my project sites.

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

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

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

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

 HWYQUEEN

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

It truly makes me feel blessed.

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

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

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

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

Beautiful tomatoes from our garden!

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

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

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

salsa ingredients

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

Opened up the new watermelon knife this week!

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

 

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

Cutting the watermelon with a watermelon knife is incredibly easy.

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

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

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

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

Family time fun.

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

Keep it real friends!


Paving Another Road

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I have the best job in the world.

Well, it’s perfect for me anyway.

Shoes on ACI am a Construction Engineer.  My title is Resident Engineer because I get to stay on the project site when the Contractor works. (Hence the “resident” title, meaning “stay on-site.”  You can read more about my job here: I love my hamster wheel.

The project I have been on lately is all about paving a road.  I say that “literally” because I understand that the term “paving a road” can be used as an analogy for doing something new.  In my case, the most appropriate term is ‘overlaying’ a road, but that won’t get good search results in Google, so I went with the word paving.

The first thing that happened on this project was the grinding.  The job starts before I get there, as long as an Inspector is on-site to keep me updated and I am able to call the shots by phone and email.

A grinder grounds up the existing asphalt in a set distance so that we can match back to the bridge.

A grinder grounds up the existing asphalt in a set distance so that we can match back to the bridge.

We start out pretty early in the morning, although in California the rule is you have to pave Asphalt Concrete (AC) when it’s 50-degrees and rising and with the recent storms and fog, it’s been pretty cold in the morning.

The first day we paved, I met two men I have met on other projects, Dave and Craig.  They make the job fun and are two men that I describe in my previous post about my job, I love my hamster wheel.

 Men at work....In this photo, Dave, Craig and I (and everyone else not pictured) are waiting for the asphalt trucks to haul the asphalt from the production plant where it’s being made to the site.  This happens often when paving and the Contractor doesn’t over-hire trucks to haul the AC.

The asphalt is then dumped from the bottom of belly dump trucks into winrows.

As the “manager” for the Public Entitiy, I don’t do much other than check AC tags that come with the trucks and check the quantities.  Really my glamorous title of Resident Engineer is a fancy name for paper pusher, but I still love being on-site when I can.  I sit in my vehicle most of the day and get to view fields such as in the photo below.

A field of almond trees is my office view on this project.

A field of almond trees is my office view on this project.

Every once in a while I have to walk that field for a specific purpose, and I’ll let you use your imagination on what the purpose is.

Anyway, the paving machine picks up the asphalt in a device in the front of the machine called a “hopper.”

This is the paving operation in a nutshell.  The dump trucks dump the asphalt on the ground and the paving machine picks it up and lays it on the existing surface.

This is the paving operation in a nutshell. The dump trucks dump the asphalt on the ground and the paving machine picks it up and lays it on the existing surface.

We pave both sides of the road, one side at a time to allow the public to pass the working area on one side of the roadway.

This photo shows a winrow of asphalt concrete (AC) on the left and an already paved surface (the overlay) on the right.

This photo shows a winrow of asphalt concrete (AC) on the left and an already paved surface (the overlay) on the right.

 We do this all day long as long as there is daylight and it doesn’t get below 50-degrees.  The Contractor I worked with on this project is phenomenal, and I hope I get to work with them again.


One last photo for the record book –

My anthem is beautiful. So is yours. #30daysnomakeup on IG

My anthem is beautiful.
So is yours.
#30daysnomakeup on IG

The grinding machine operation is behind me on day one.  I read an Instagram post that immediately spoke to me and I have become a part of movement that I hope really catches on.

The photo above has become very important to me.  Until recently, I didn’t realize how unique I was in that I

(1) work around men who are under my supervision,

(2) don’t wear make-up on a regular basis, and

(3) didn’t think about what my position in society could mean to many other women.

I have this thing about myself that I can’t explain – I have an enormous amount of confidence.

I am blessed to know that I’ve had it since I was in high school but I can’t directly tell you where it came from.  I think it came from a lifetime of being told by my mother that I was “better than that” and being able to convince myself that I was going to be different from both my parents, no matter what it took.

I write this blog primarily as a means to communicate to my children (and even my future self.)  I hope I get the confidence thing passed onto my children somehow.  It’s a gift I’ve been given and I don’t know what I’d do without it.

The thing I do know about confidence is that it’s all about you.  It’s not something that someone else can give you.

For me, it comes from the Lord who gives me everything.


Coffee keeps me going.  I have two cell phones on me everyday and I wear and purchase clothes for myself and my children from Old Navy.  Please feel free to browse advertisers I purchase products from.


I Love my Hamster Wheel

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I’m posting today about my little world.

Here is a link to one of my favorite celebrities recent posts on Facebook – Mike Rowe.  It truly gives perspective into my little world and the article itself really spoke to me.  It’s really long, but it’s a really good read in my opinion.

Mike Rowe – Off The Wall Stephen Adams, Auburn, AL “Hi, Mike…..

Why would I post about this you ask?

Well, because you asked….

 I love my hamster wheel.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects.  I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

This is a photo of me in the early morning sun on one of my projects. I joked on FB that I knew I had a halo around my head and here was the proof.

By my definition, a “hamster wheel” is the little contraption that sits in a hamsters cage so that the hamster can get exercise.  But the exercise it gets, never takes it anywhere.  It’s still stuck in a cage, still keeps running in the same place but works extremely hard, even if it never gets ANYWHERE.

The analogy of a “hamster wheel” is one that can be used for people who feel that they are constantly working with no result or not getting anywhere in their place of employment.

There are SO MANY BLOGS written by and about people who couldn’t stand working for someone else (and hence not going anywhere with his or her career/life) and “got off the hamster wheel” by either starting their own business or chasing after their dream of becoming a  _____________________ (you fill in the blank.)

Then there are people like me.

I love my hamster wheel.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love everything about my job, but I do love the job itself, I love the sense of accomplishment it brings me and I enjoy (for the most part) working with the people I get to work with.

So what do I do for a living that I love so much?

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno.  They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

Photo of men working on a box culvert in the County of Fresno. They are pouring concrete into the base of the new culvert, or water diversion system.

I am a Registered Civil Engineer that works for the County I live in (a government agency.)  My actual title is called a “Resident Engineer” but people are more likely to understand “Construction Engineer.”

I oversee the construction of projects by Contractors, ensuring that the plans and specifications are followed.  My duties include being a paper pusher, a manager, an Engineer, an advice giver, a listener, and an ambassador for Christ while working with men who need all those things in their lives, even if they don’t know it.

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

This is a paving machine at work in the hot sun. DeAndrasCrafts.com

Many of these men go to work with little complaint.  Oh how we could learn from them.  They make great money but to much expense to their bodies and sometimes families.  They work in the hot sun, in the cold days and sometimes nights, bend their backs often, work around loud equipment and breath in fumes that would make any asthmatic person run away with screaming terror.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp.  He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

This is a construction worker cutting a sidewalk to improve it with a handicap accessible ramp. He is using a sawcutting machine, that is extremely loud and makes you very dirty.

But you ask many of them ~ and I have ~ and many of these strong men will tell you that they love their jobs too.

Oh how people complain when we work.  We disrupt their lives with our construction signs, our noises, our fumes and our traffic control to keep the public safe.

But these men are building bridges, putting in wheelchair and handicap accessible ramps, improving your roadways for a better driving experience in your vehicle and doing what needs to be done to complete a project in a specific amount of time, with a specific amount of money all the while trying to keep you (the public) safe from harm, sometimes harming themselves in the long run.

This is a bridge deck being built up.  There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

This is a bridge deck being built up. There is a concrete pumper in the center of this picture and the men are stepping on the rebar portion of the deck while the concrete is being poured.

I want to give a plug to Mike Rowe and his new show on CNN called “Somebody’s Gotta Do it.

I don’t have cable so I watched the first episode on the website link above.

The name of the show is exactly how I feel about my job and the people I work with.

I hope to enlighten those who don’t know what its’ like to work hard and still love his/her job.

It happens all the time.

People can love their job.

I love my job.  I hope you do too!


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