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


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.

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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


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!


What a week to be thankful!

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The thing about thanksgiving that I always want to remember is no matter how insane, how much work or how stressed out I get, I am thankful, for so many things.

As so many people would agree, not all those things, are well, things.

This year was an exceptionally crazy week to be thankful.

Thanksgiving Quote - Joyce Girard

Last week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was two days after her 14-year old beloved dog crossed over the rainbow bridge.

This week, I had to take the week off (thankfully my project was also not going to be worked on this week) to take care of my children while they were out of school.

I had planned a fun filled week of movies, making crafts, desserts, and I was even planning to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I don’t have issues with that kind of thing.

We saw a movie in the theater (Big Hero 6 and I highly recommend it,) went to see my dad twice in the past three days at his rehab facility where he is recovering from the open heart surgery, and got to see some cousins.

I took my youngest this week to see his new daycare facility, and he will be there from 715 AM to 330 PM three days a week, and not being taken care of at his home for the first time in any of my three children’s’ lives.

The tree hasn’t gone up (but it will soon) and I spent an entire day helping my sister-in-law with her two-year old triplet children while my brother took his brother-in-laws, including my husband, shooting guns.

It’s been an emotional, stressful, crazy-filled couple of weeks leading up to this week.

Every once in a while, the Lord blesses me with an experience or two during my “Oh-woe-is-me” weeks (or month.)

I was blessed to see another family in action and be glad that I have the children I had and the husband I had.

My husband took the time to go see my father, because he knew I was stressed about it and it relieved me so much for him to be there.

I have been blessed by my mother-in-laws attitude.  She has been rock solid for her grown children through all that has been happening and I remembered how strong of a women she is.  I’ve seen this side of her before and even with all her beautiful feminine traits that I envy, she shows a strength that I’ve only seen my stoic paternal grandmother show in times of great stress.  It’s pretty amazing.

Remember how blessed you are this week.  Health is such a blessing.

For today, I will be eating, drinking and being merry, as well as giving thanks for so many blessings, as well as the trials.

I am one who just doesn’t see the blessings without the trials.  I wish this wasn’t true, but I am thankful that this is all I have to deal with.


Walgreens Holiday Savings | Gift Guide


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!


Royalty-Free Images @ iCLIPART.com


Yoda Purse – An upcycled story

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Yoda Purse w-VansMy love for Star Wars has come to the point where I made myself a Yoda purse.

If you came to find this blog because of this purse, let me assure you that I absolutely love this purse and use it.  And no, it is not for sale.

Showing off my Yoda purses.

My own husband photo-bombed my special moment of posing with the two purses I created.

I hand drew this purse, based off of an image I found on the net.  I made this one for myself (instructions below) and then one for my friend.  Her purse is pleather (or fake leather) and I used the same process here with a couple more steps.  You can see those instructions here: Yoda Purse – Upcycled It Is

I found the Fossil brand name purse at the Flea Market with the specific purpose to draw Master Yoda on it.  I paid $5 for mine (real leather) and it was really clean on the inside. The Fossil purse I found at the Flea Market.

I used drawing items similar to the following:

Pitt Artist Pens – Wallet Set of All 4 Pen Styles in Black

Sanford Sharpie Permanent MarkersPilot

Gold and Silver Metallic Permanent Markers

I also copied and pasted this drawing to have a copy of.   The copy of the Yoda image I found off the net.

First of all, I simply cleaned the purse using a dry paper towel to wipe up any loose particles of dirt or grime. I didn’t rub the paper towel too hard either, as I didn’t want the leather to get anymore scratched than it already was. img_4576

As this was a previously used purse, you can see from the photos that the corners of the purse were already discolored from use. img_4574

I tried using a pencil to sketch the lines out for the Yoda, but it didn’t work. I ended up free-hand sketching the lines with the black art pens. img_4585 img_4587 img_4588I started at the top of the head again and drew the ears, forehead details, eyes, nose, mouth and chin/jawline, in that order.

Next I colored in the details of the hair and eyes with the silver and gold permanent markers. img_4592 img_4594 img_4596

I highlighted his facial features in a green permanent marker, to give some depth to the black lines. img_4601

I colored in the robe with a brown sharpie marker. img_4603 img_4606 img_4610

Lastly, I gave some additional highlights to the face and robe using a wide-tipped gold scrapbooking marker I’ve had for years. img_4615

I DID NOT spray the purse with any acrylic spray, although I will admit I tried it on the bottom of the purse to see what would happen. Just as I suspected, the spray turned the purse a darker color.

The permanent marker has not smudged (yet) on the purse and I don’t expect that it will.

Overall, I love it. I have gotten photos taken of it by complete strangers, I have been asked more times than I can count if I hand drew the pattern and where I got it, the list of questions goes on and on.

0Both Purses

Thanks for reading this! I hope you try to upcycle a purse in the near future too!