Thursday, May 30, 2013

Becoming 31

Today is my 31st birthday. Yep, its been an entire year since my 30th birthday and the completion of my 30 under 30 list.  Wow, how life changes in a year.

In the past I have always done a "birthday countdown" marking the monthly, weekly, and daily count til my birthday. This year I pretty much forgot about my birthday. What?! I have never done that before. LOL. I knew it was coming up, but yesterday someone mentioned it and I realized it was today. I must be growing up or something. :)

I am working a full day, which is the first time in my entire life I have worked on my birthday a full day. Last year I decided to ease myself into it and work half day, this year it's a full day of work.  School was always out before my birthday came (I graduated high school on my 18th birthday) and when I graduated college my birthday fell on a weekend or I took off work.  Oh well.

So, happy birthday to me.  I will be wishing myself many more birthdays in the future filled with family and friends nearby.  Thank you to everyone on FB wishing me happy birthday. :)

p.s.  Where is this guy on my birthday when I need him? LOL.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pure Healthy Eatery

This weekend I went to a great health food restaurant in the Woodlands called Pure Healthy Eatery on my way to volunteer at Ironman Texas 2013.  I searched for a healthy restaurant on and Pure Healthy Eatery showed up. 

I found it easily when I got to Research Forest (as easy as you can find anything in the Woodlands with all of the trees blocking everything) and went right in.

The menu has a great selection of all natural foods and organic fruits/veggies.  I had the Garden Roast sandwich with a side salad and the Can’t Beet It pressed juice.  The juice was blood red and very yummy, I felt like a vampire. ;)  I didn’t think to ask them to put it on ice though, so it was a bit warm.  On the way out I added ice and it was so much better!  The sandwich was good too; there were so many veggies in it that they all started coming out.  Yum.

The restaurant also had a bulletin board where you could put your business card or flyer about an upcoming event.  I saw a vegan food festival that is coming up in mid June that I can’t wait to attend.  Yay!

I would definitely recommend this place if you are in the mood for something healthy!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Volunteering at Ironman Texas 2013

On Saturday I traveled to the Woodlands to volunteer at the Ironman Texas 2013 finish line.  I originally wanted to be at the finish line when my friend Debra crossed, but she was injured about a month ago so she was not able to race this weekend.  I had so much fun volunteering that I might make it a yearly event…unless of course I decide to actually get off my booty and complete one myself! :) hahahaha.

My shift was from 1:30-5:30 pm to catch the athletes when they cross the finish line.  I had the hardest time parking so I was afraid that I would be late to my shift, but I got there right on time.  We got a free shirt when we checked in, and then we just all sort of hung out for a bit.   They gave us instructions on what to do, then let us take a break for about 45 minutes.  We hadn’t done anything to take a break from, but I think there wasn’t much for us to do so we just sort of hung out and cheered for the runners as they passed. 
At around 3 pm we all stood in line to start catching the athletes as they came in.  I was about 5 in line to catch someone, but there were 6 people that were designated to catch the top finishers out of the male and females.  Someone in the top 5 of each category would be drug tested for illegal substances, but the top 5 didn’t know which one would be picked.  So whatever the special catcher’s numbered athelete was, they would stand in line ahead of us to take them directly to get tested.   I’m sure the #1 person is always tested (both male and female) but I am not sure the other numbers that were tested. 

The first finisher was a guy from Great Britain.  We kept getting updates that he was 3 miles away and 1 mile away, then he was rounding the finish shoot.  It was pretty cool seeing him cross.  I think they said it was the first time he has ever won an Ironman.  After he crossed he gave an interview and they asked him about his race and everyone was congratulating him.

While I was waiting for my first ‘catch’ I saw the first woman come across the finish line.  Her name was Rachel and she was a rockstar!  She hardly looked like she had just completed an Ironman!  After she crossed she went back and hi fived the spectators down the finishers shoot.  She seemed really sweet.  Afterwards she came back to wait for the 2nd place female to cross and was just sitting there playing on her iphone like it was no big deal.  I would be asleep if that was me, not playing on my phone nonchantly…ROCKSTAR!! 

My first catch was a guy from Columbia named Andres who came in as the #9 male (I think that’s what his placement was), he was a professional athlete.  I walked him to get his shirt, gave him some water, made sure he was ok to walk and let him go.  He didn’t speak English very well I don’t think so I couldn’t talk to him as much as I did the others. 

I caught 6 or 7 people total during my shift.  At the end of my shift my friend Cindy and her husband came to the finish line to see if they needed any extra help.  I ended up staying with them for an extra hour before heading back to my side of town.  I had so much fun volunteering and I can’t wait to do it again!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Final thoughts and IAA

Here are all the blog posts that I have written in relation to my Kenya trip so that anyone traveling over there won't miss anything!  Enjoy.

Countdown to Kenya Post
-Medications for Kenya
-What I am packing for Kenya-Snacks
-What I am bring to donate to the kids
-File Folder Games I brought to Kenya

While in Kenya

-Meet Jacob
-Day 1
-Day 2
-Day 3
-Day 4
-Day 5
-Day 6
-Day 7
-Day 8
-Day 9
-Day 10
-Day 11
-Traveling to and from Kenya

Final thoughts and IAA
I have been thinking how I can wrap up all my Kenya experiences in one post, but I don’t know that I can find the words!  It was a life changing trip and I feel like I got a lot out of it. Life in the USA is so different from life in Kenya.  I am sure if I go to other places outside my safety bubble of Houston, TX I will see that.  I am blessed to be an American, very, very blessed.  God made this great nation of ours blessed and most of us don’t realize it.  

I was taught to appreciate the things I have.  

Appreciate the variety in my daily choices.   I have a million options of where to shop for clothes or food.  I can watch tons of different channels on tv, I can surf the internet for hours.  Choices are everywhere here, but when you are on a very limited budget you don’t get the luxury of going to a huge grocery store and picking out what you want.  If you are from a nation like Kenya and don’t make tons of money you have your garden (if you are lucky) to eat from or the side of the road to shop from.

Appreciate that I have a say in my government.  I won’t be gunned down because I oppose the government and our judicial system.  In the US it is ok not to like the politics of the current leader (but you should still respect his position), but in Kenya it could be deadly to have an opposing view.

Appreciate that as a woman I have a voice in my community, whether I choose to or not.  Women throughout the world are property, just sold for 10 cows because they are of age.  In America I am free to choose my own husband, my own job, and where I live.  I can speak my mind and not be told to sit down because I am a woman.  I can do anything and be anyone that I choose to be.

Appreciate the fact that I have a wonderful job and make a good living.  The average middle class person makes $100 a month in Kenya and upper middle class makes $200.  I spend that much each month frivolously (trying to cut back though) on things I do not need, I cannot imagine living on that each month.
Appreciate the fact that I can see my family anytime I choose to.  I can hop in a car or plane at anytime and see them without having to beg for a ride or walk for two days to get to them.  I don’t have a job that keeps me stuck there for months until I save enough to get home.

Appreciate the fact that AIDS won’t wipe out an entire city (village) nearby.  AIDS is out of control throughout Africa and it is heartbreaking to hear the stories of little girls who have been raped by older men because they heard a rumor that if they have sex with a virgin then their AIDS will be cured.  Or another story that women believe that they can catch AIDS by cutting their husbands hair.  Rumors and mistruths run wild in Africa because they don’t have the education on how to prevent these diseases from spreading.
Appreciate the fact that I can turn on a faucet and drink from it without the threat of it being contaminated by Typhoid or another illness.  I can just go to the fridge and pull out a clean bottle of water and drink it.
Appreciate the fact that I don’t have to worry about my electricity going out at random times because electricity isn’t too reliable there (for the most part).  Even while we were shopping in a town the electricity went out at the power company! LOL.

Appreciate the fact that when I was a small child my parents were not killed by disease, government, another tribe, or each other.  There are orphans just living in the streets and in homes throughout Kenya that can be helped by places like Into Abba’sArms.  I also appreciate the fact that there are many US donors that donate to IAA to keep the children safe. 

Appreciate the fact that there are Americans like Jane who create children’s homes throughout the world to help the children of tomorrow.  These children will be the leaders of their countries one day in the not too distant future; do we want them to grow up educated, loved, and appreciated?  Or do we want them to grow up like they were thrown away and not cared for?  I want each child to know that they can have a better life, but until they are told that and shown the way, how will they understand?

I have learned more throughout my trip but these are the things I wanted to say the most. ^^^^That’s a lot of words! :)  I am very glad that I had the privilege to travel to Kenya for two week in April.  I am very honored to get to know the children and staff at Into Abba’s Arms and I hope to be able to go back soon and to bring many people with me to see what I saw. 


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Traveling to and from Kenya

We travelled on KLM airlines totaling 22 hours each way.  We left Houston around 3 pm Houston time (11 pm Kenya time) on Monday the 15th and returned around 1 pm Houston time (9 pm Kenya time) on the 14th.  I will just say that I loved traveling on KLM Airlines!  I have never been on a plane that long and wasn’t sure what to expect.  KLM had friendly staff and lots of options on the plane that I you don’t get on shorter flights.  Every time I have been out of the country it has been a short flight, so I was worried about the 22 hours of traveling.  I had googled KLM to see what they were like and what sort of food to expect, but there wasn’t much out there so I thought I would write about my experience.

My sister and my nephew Cole dropped me off at the airport around 12 pm after we had lunch at Pappasito’s.  I knew I wouldn’t get Mexican food again for a few weeks so we went there for my last pre Kenya meal.  They dropped me off and I was a bundle of nerves about the plane ride, the trip, my safety, and tons of other things.  I met Tarin and her husband Bill when I got there and we checked in together.  We got there in plenty of time to relax before our flight, so there was no need to rush.

The First and Second Legs
On our flight they gave each of us a blanket and pillow when we first sat down, along with a set of headphones that went with the free in-flight entertainment system.  The kids each got some sort of kids game set, but I didn’t see what was in it because I didn’t have any kids on my row (thank goodness!).  I did have a few screaming kids on all four legs of the trip though, that was pleasant.

I thought the meals on the plane tasted ok, but some people don’t like them.  There was several items that seemed weird to me, but in other countries it was probably normal food.  Each flight we had two meals, a snack, and beverage service several times.  It always seemed like they were giving us something.  Plus, we got a hot towel several times throughout the flight. <--Which I thought was weird, but apparently it is normal!  Overall, the food wasn’t bad, just some parts but that is what you should expect for being miles in the air.  

The first meal was dinner and it was chicken nuggets, salad, roll, crackers, cheese, and a cake.  The only thing I remember about this meal was the nuggets tasted weird and the salad had some odd ingredients (odd but tasty).  The cheese and cake were great!  I think I had wine for this meal, but I didn’t drink a lot of it since I only like sweet wines and this was chardonnay I believe.

The second meal was breakfast, but I was still sort of full from the last meal.  I do remember that this meal was gross so I didn’t eat much of it.  It was a sandwich, fresh fruit, blueberry muffin, and strawberry yogurt.  The sandwich was terrible, I only ate the bread and the yogurt tasted like diet yogurt with a weird aftertaste.  I saved the fresh fruit for another time, but never ate it.  Maybe the yogurt tastes normal to other people?

We stopped over in Amsterdam for a 4 hour layover.  I updated FB saying that we had made it to Amsterdam for my families’ sake since I couldn’t call, but after that I didn’t do much except watch tv with the Boston Marathon news coverage.  We landed and all the tv’s were covering a news story about Boston, but we hadn’t heard anything while in the air of course, so it was quite a shock when we landed to hear that one of the most famous marathons in the world had been a target of crazy people.  I was half way around the world and I couldn’t contact anyone.  

We got back on the plane for another long flight.  This flight left around 11 am from Amsterdam and was flying in to Nairobi, Kenya.   This flight gave us the same service as the last one, just with different types of food, including ice cream!

The first meal was lunch and it had rice, chicken with terrikai like sauce, crackers, cheese, salad, roll, and a creamy pastry dessert.  I loved this meal!  The salad had pineapples and some other odd ingredients, but it was still tasty.  The pastry cream dessert was my favorite thing I had on the entire trip!  Seriously, so good.  I asked for ginger ale on this trip, but they said it is only offered on flights to and from America. :/  Boo!  Oh well, give me ice cream!

The second meal was a pizza wrap/rollup thing, salad with pasta, fresh fruit, and cookies.  The pizza wrap was a bit tough to cut/chew, but it was tasty.  I have never had a salad with pasta in it, but it wasn’t bad, I liked it.  The cookie that they give you is a famous Amsterdam cookie that I actually bought a box of when I came back through.

We landed in Nairobi with no problems and found our driver to take us back. I will say that the Amsterdam airport is very nice and organized, but the Nairobi was needed some remodeling.

The Return Trip
Coming back from Kenya seemed to take forever.  I didn’t get much sleep on the entire way home, maybe a hour or two, even taking sleeping pills!  It seemed longer because I was ready to get home, back to my routine, my family, and my Jabba the Hutt. <-- I missed that bratty boy.

We got to customs and checked our bags.  In the US, once you get through security you don’t have to go through another one or get your passport checked, but in Kenya and Amsterdam we had to show our passport constantly.  It got annoying.  I bought a few postcards for the boys with animals on them to mail before I left.  They just got the ones from Kenya this week, but didn’t quite understand the purpose of postcards.  Oh well.

I didn’t take pictures of the food on the way back because it was the same as when I came over, minus a few exceptions.  I do remember that the chicken on the first meal was much better than the chicken on the way over, other than that I don’t remember what the differences were.

The layover in Amsterdam was about 4.5 hours this time so we walked around for a bit.  I had some extra Kenyan Shillings that I needed to get rid of so I converted it in the terminal. Tip:  Do not do that! I  lost about $20 total converting it over at the airport.  I didn’t have a choice so it didn’t matter, but in the future either spend it before you leave or convert it before you get to an airport.  

At the Amsterdam airport I shopped for a few things for the boys, bought some chocolates for my work, went to the art museum, and almost got a fish pedicure.  The art museum was free inside the airport, which was cool, but I didn’t see any ‘famous’ artists in it.  I am not an art lover so I couldn’t tell you if they were famous, but the artists I have heard of were not there.  We also saw a royal motorcade leaving the airport.  A local guy said that the royals have their own license plates and they had passed by the windows in a huge group.  That was cool, especially since the queen was passing the crown on to her son that day.  We also almost got a fish pedicure where you stick your feet in a big fish tank and the fish eat the dead skin off your feet.  Gross but cool.  It was really expensive (like $50) so I didn’t try it, but I wish I would have.  Maybe when I go to LA I will.

We got back into Houston around 1:30 pm and I collected my bags.  I said goodbye to Tarin, Bill, and Jane with promises to stay in touch. :)  Laura and Cole picked me up and took me back to their house for me to take a nap.  I slept basically from 3 pm to 6 am the next morning, with a few hours wakeup in between.  So tired!