Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All my bags are packed...

Well, the time has come! In two days, I will be stepping out of a jet plane onto the real African Plains for quite the adventure. Not only will I be able to check another item off the bucket list (granted I do make it back), I will also get to see my sister, who I haven’t seen for nine weeks. Can you find her among the students?

She has been student teaching life skills at a secondary school in a small village in Kenya called Kabula. Google it – I think the population is under 100. Three of us will be traveling two days to visit her. When we finally get to the village, we will hang out, work, cook, play for three days, then travel to Nairobi to go on safari in the Masai Mara. Her stories along with pictures and phone conversations have had me on the edge of my seat for quite some time, and I can’t wait for it all to officially begin (I could say it began on the day of my shots. OUCH!)

Right now, I am taking a break from packing to update my blog before I leave. I will not have access to internet while I’m there, so this will be the last post for a couple weeks. One task Haley has placed we American travelers with is collecting and packing the donations she could not fit in her bag when she left. Along the way, we have collected others to bring with us as well. I am blessed to have friends and coworkers with the biggest hearts! Their giving nature and attitudes cannot be beat. When I asked for a few shirts - they gave bags full. When I asked for a few pens and pencils - they gave their entire-life-collections. I have already stuffed one large bag with clothes and still have notebooks, pens, pencils and more clothes donations to pack in one other. Hopefully Jeremy and Tyler – my travel mates – will have more room too! Here are some of the items I’m taking!

Pens and pencils. During school, the kids go through a pencil every two days. They do not have text books, so they hand write everything.

Notebooks. These are the empty text books they write themselves.

Clothes. Many families are too poor to buy their own clothing. Majority of families make their own clothes or rely on donations.  Look at the clothes below.  ISU college  FACs students sewed dresses for the kids in the village. 
There is a picture of the student seamstress who made it in the front pocket. Such a great idea!

Paperback books are like gold over there.

Haley also asked me to bring marshmallows, pumpkin seeds, pudding, mac and cheese, pancake mix, beef jerky, and cigars.  These are unique gifts that cannot be found in Africa.

And now for some of MY essentials!

Toilet paper. Where I am going, no one – except the American volunteers – use toilet paper. This is a necessity for we travelers who don’t feel quite right using our left hands.

Malaria meds. Those mosquitoes can be vicious. Gotta be ready!

The Megan "plane ride" essentials. My coworker, Megan hooked me up with a mosquito net, crossword puzzles, fiber bars, and an electronic fan. (and I cant forget the parachute safari animals!)

The Jane essentials. Jane hooked me up with a travel bag, chapstick and another VERY important item...

Shelia essentials. Shelia hooked me up with pencils, candy and gum. I will only be sharing half a stick though - total Shelia style.  Let me not forget, Shelia's daughter, who generously donated her entire pencil donation to these kidos.  Thanks Alexandra!

Kwaheri (Goodbye in Swahili) for now friends!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Half Marathon..Check!

This weekend, I was able to check one more thing off my bucket list.  I successfully completed 13.1 miles of glory bright and early this morning.  The Indianapolis Mini Marathon - the largest half marathon in the country - brings over 40,000 runners to take over the streets of Indianapolis (and the Speedway track) as the city gears up for its Indy 500. And I was one of them.  I finished in 2 hours and 22 minutes.  And by the way, I am NOT a runner.  Before the training, I had not run more than 3 miles at a time in my life, so this was quite an accomplishment. And believe me, if I can do this, anyone can do it. Like I said...I am NOT a runner..and neither my knees nor my toenails think so either.  I will probably lose both of them as a direct result of this race.

The people running along side of me, even though strangers, kept me going. They were an inspriration in itself and watching them helped me keep going...runners pushing wheelchairs, runners in their 70s, runners with disabilities. It was amazing to see them all.  The moments of this morning will be stuck in memory, but it would have been nice to capture a few other things with the Nikon...

1) The sweatshirts thrown off in piles on the side of the track.  Runners start off running with them and strip them off when they get too hot.  I found out later, that volunteers will pick up the shirts afterwards and give them to a charity.

2)The mass amounts of people running in front of me and behind.  At some points during the race, I would look ahead and just smile and shake my head in disbelief at the MASSIVE amounts of people in this race.  Wow! No word to describe.

3) The 50 year old woman pushing another woman in a wheelchair..while running!   or the few 70+ year olds and the runners who complimented them on the way. Simple pats on the back and "way to gos" were heard quite often - stranger to stranger

4)  The runners coming onto the speedway track as we were leaving the track and vice versa.  Another reminder of the amount of people running this race.

5) The thousands of cups thrown on the ground after runners took a quick drink.  This is the one time, I felt ok about throwing my cup on the ground if necessary.    

6) The local bands and entertainment lining the streets.  Over 80 bands came out to entertain the runners as we passed.  Many hand claps, fist pumps and YMCA dances happened during my race.

Here are some moments I was able to capture this morning. Thanks goes to my mom, who also helped me capture many of these.

My Supplies

Traffic from 40,000 people = insane!

Bananas at the finish line!


Getting ready to kick this mini in its rear!

The runners

I finished!

The sign Jaimie and Robin made

Hometown peeps, Kasie, Phil and Mark..all finished!

I think I deserved the pimp cup tonight

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Two thoughts on a Tuesday

My grandpa once told me that when I recieve something meaningful, be sure to share it with others, so they can receive the same joy/knowledge too.  Tonight at bible study, two statements stuck out to me...

...One person decided to bring up the age-old debate of free-will vs. predestination. yay! (with a little sarcasm thrown in). The discussion became more one would suspect. Chiming in, one gal said what needed to be said quite clearly, "Act as if it's up to you, pray as if it's up to God and you'll be covered."  Amen Sister! I loved it - and so did everyone else!

...When discussing the responsibilities of being a disciple and responding to our calling, a kind man in our group said something that struck me...he said, "We go through life accepting the gifts and abilities He gives us, but sometimes we forget to say thank you - And thanking Him means using those abilities for the reasons He gave them to you in the first place."  very well put and a point well taken.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Some may complain..others will improvise

The run tonight was going to be perfect. Jaimie was free to run. The weather was PERFECT all day. Three miles was the simple goal.  One mile in. The storm clouds roll in.  The drops fall.  They fall harder. We laughed, took some pictures (yes since blogging, I have been Nerdo with a camera) and finished our run despite the rain. We were thankful we started when it was sunny.  We probably would have never taken the first step if it were storming, which means we wouldn't have had that great talk was a much-needed one too! 

And it's here!

After the run, I was starving and excited to get home and make a nice supper (yes I call it supper, not dinner. In my book, "dinner" means "supper where you have to dress up"). 

Let me preface supper real quick.  My refigerator may not be stocked at all times (hardly ever), but if nothing else, I am guaranteed to have spaghetti sauce in that fridge.  And if it's not in the fridge, there is a spare jar in the cabinet. Guaranteed. period. exclamation point. Spaghetti is one of my favorites, because it's so EASY, hence why I stock up every time I go to Aldis. 

Well, don't you just hate when you start cooking part of the meal, run to get that special ingredient and then realize it is nowhere to be found? Well, that happened to me tonight.  No spaghetti sauce. Rats! And the noodles were half done.  What to do, what to do? I could make butter I dug around. Thank goodness for 6-month-old past purchases!  In my pantry I found diced tomatoes...hmmm.  I also had chopped onions left over from pizza night....and...the chef hat goes on.  I started cooking the tomatoes, added the onion, some garlic, italian seasoning, hot sauce and basil...

...completed it with parm cheese.....and Walaaah!
I'm going to toot my own horn a little bit, since you can't taste this for yourself -  man it was GOOD!
Cooking off the cuff and impressing myself once again.

"Beware of those who stand aloof
And greet each venture with reproof
The world would stop if things were run
By men who say, "It can't be done."

now...on to this mini marathon in 5 days.... :(

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ten things I learned this weekend

1. There is no need to carry pepper spray with you when running at dusk in the country. The only culprits you find are....

2. Grandma's molasses cookies are always worth the extra calories.

3. Mom will always be a better cook than me no matter how hard I try (see..Mo thinks so too).

4. Andrea can, indeed, cook....and Saturday morning it was coffee and muffins. So proud.

5. Beer tastes just as good in the morning - especially when it's freshly tapped at Andrea's house.

6. Even on dreary, rainy days, mom's flowers are beautiful.

7. According to my dog, Mo, dead squirrels on the side of the road are definitely worth dragging two miles home during a seven mile run (I'll spare you the squirrel).

8. Mustard weed covering a field is pretty even if it is just a weed.

9. Dave Ramsey is a lifesaver. My April budget left me with a chunk of cash to put towards my college loan debt. Over the course of the class, I have paid off about 1/5 of my college debt. Baby steps ya'll!

10. Something I often forget - Giving is one of the most important things you can do in your life.

Two women and a charcoal grill

Dad was heading out for the night, leaving mom and I to cook together and eat a yummy dinner together. Our goal - beef kabobs on the grill. Mom and I are very capable women, so we could handle it.

Dad, anticipating a wrong move, kindly pulled the grill out of the garage, filled it with charcoal, set out the lighter fluid, and gave us strict grill instructions before driving away for his stag party.

Why do men think we women are incapable of grilling? I just don’t get it. I always hear men saying things like, “Yeah, I can grill a meaaann steak” or “Grilling is the man’s job, ho ho ho,” or “You gotta have that charcoal juuust right.” Ok, boys, just so you know – we know your secrets. And today, I’m going to reveal them to all my fellow women followers. Listen up girls, because this man-only knowledge is rarely revealed and it’s also quite technical...

First, find yourself a nice charcoal grill

Second, open the lighter fluid (this is a CRUCIAL step – some men can’t even figure this out)

Third, pour lighter fluid on the charcoal (no rhyme of reason. The more fluid the bigger the flame)

Fourth, light the charcoal with a match

Fifth, wait until it turns white (we do know what white looks like guys)

Sixth, lay the food (usually prepared and seasoned by the wife, girlfriend or butcher) on the grill. And yes, it will be OK if you open the lid a time or two to check on it while it's cooking.  This does not ruin the meat.

Seventh, when it's done cooking, take the food off the grill

Eighth, eat the food

Mom and I figured out these secrets without a hitch and lemme tell ya, these were the meanest kabobs I’ve ever had! Try for yourself:
Sweet Soy Marinade
Soy Sauce – 1/3 cup
Granulated Sugar – 2 tbsp
Cooking oil – 2 tbsp
Worcestershire sauce – 1tbsp
Garlic clove, minced - 1
Red wine vinegar – 1 ½ tbsp
Pepper – 1/8 tsp

Beef steak cut into cubes.
Use the veggies you like best. We used: Zucchini, red onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and red peppers.

Combine the first 7 ingredients. This makes around ½ cup of marinade for the meat. Soak meat for around 30 min. (We did 6 hours for ultimate yumminess!)

Throw ‘em on a skewer, throw ‘em on the grill, brush the remaining marinade on the skewers and enjoy!

....It is pretty close to rocket science, but I think we ladies can handle it.
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