Category Archives: Humor

An Overdose of Adventure

I was going to title this post “Let the Adventures Begin,” but since this journey began on May 23rd my friend Treena and I have had a little more adventure then even I like. Delayed flights (which resulted in missed flights) hours of  standing in line with very heavy bags, lost luggage, and so many carefully made travel plans ending up in the air.

But, as I’m typing this we are less than an hour from landing in London and since boarding our British Airways flight things have been lovely. We did make some new friends while standing in line for several hours: an au pair from Switzerland, a student from Arkansas, a lady from Spain, and a student who ironically is a freshman at the college where I graduated from. Such a small, small world. Around 10 pm, we all finally got our flights rearranged and then headed to another part of the airport to make sure that our bags would met us at the proper destination. Once that was out of the way we figured we should all grab something to eat together since most of us hadn’t eaten anything since 10 am. Our little band of travelers made our way through the JFK airport in search of the food court which we reached right as many of the venders were closing up for the night or running low on options. But after such a long day anything sounded good.

We thought about just spending the night in the airport since our flight was scheduled to leave early the next morning, but Treena’s husband called around and found us a hotel. By the time we reached the airport it was after midnight, and we needed to head back to the airport around 4 am. Needless to say it was a very short night.

So what started this mess? Things went fairly smoothly in St Louis apart from American Airlines charging me for a second bag after saying on the phone that it would be free. Our flight leaving St Louis was delayed, but not by much, and we had a long enough layover in Chicago to make up for it. Problems started popping up after we reached our gate for our flight to New York. The flight ahead of us was significantly delayed due to the plane’s PA system malfunctioning. Eventually they cancelled the flight in front of us but in the meantime our plane was left sitting at a different gate. When we did finally board, we spent a half hour on the runway before receiving news that the weather in New York city was too bad for us to receive permission to land. When our plane did finally hit the skies we had spent as much time on the runway as we did in the air. Our two hour layover was completely eaten up and our plane for London left before we were able to land.

Missing our flight to London produced a domino effect. We were bumped to a morning flight that arrived well after our flight for Munich was scheduled to leave. From Munich we had planned to travel back to London by train with a stop off in Paris. Sadly, that entire portion of the trip was now impossible. Our relatives at home spent hours looking into options to still make at least some of the Munich/Paris trip work but at such a late date flights and trains were either sold out or ridiculously expensive.

Treena and I have since learned that being “stuck” in London is not such a bad thing. Since starting to write this blog we have spent the last three days in London taking the Tube and seeing some of the city’s most beautiful sights. I must admit I did have a bit of a melt down on Saturday morning after realizing that so many of our plans had fallen through, learning that ticket refunds were out of the question for the majority of our tickets and only partial refunds for the rest, and just feeling plain tired, hungry, and exhausted due to jetlag.

Going outside made all of the difference. That and getting something to eat. People often talk about London being cold and rainy, but we were fortunate to have nice sunny days (a bit cool at times) but overall beautiful. Some of the highlights have been riding the Tube (mind the gap) Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, The Tower Bridge (formerly London Bridge) and the general friendliness of everyone that we have met along the way. We’ve also enjoyed our tea and a lovely English breakfast.IMG_6924 IMG_7209 IMG_7203 IMG_7177 IMG_7166 IMG_7161 IMG_7156 IMG_7145 IMG_7134 IMG_7122 IMG_7114 IMG_7113 IMG_7078 IMG_7074 IMG_7035 IMG_7022 IMG_7002 IMG_6999 IMG_6949

Right now my friend and I are leaving London behind as we are on a train heading to Edinburgh. People say it’s magical and from just the few pictures I’ve seen I believe it. So more to come (hopefully) unless we have more unplanned adventures.

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Filed under Contemplations, Humor, Photography, Travel

Foodie Wanna Be

There is something incredible about a well prepared meal- not just the taste but the color, aroma, and mystery of a well crafted dish. But, it’s even more than that. Food can invoke a memory and even help change a mood which is a big part of the reason restaurants are so popular—that and there are no dishes to wash afterwards.

I like to cook, but would not call myself an accomplished chef or anything like that. But, I like to play around. Part of this last year’s adventure for me (living in a partially finished apartment) has been learning to create appealing meals without an oven or stove. Tricky? yes, but for Christmas my younger brother bought me an amazing free standing electric skillet. It has become my favorite cooking buddy, and last week my dad finished putting in the apartment’s counter top which has been wonderful. No more balancing three plates on unstable surfaces. Yes, there have been some casualties. I still miss my snowman mug. All the electrical outlets are now in as well  which means no more blowing the breaker by using the microwave and toaster at the same time. I am still hoping for a stove, but I can see it in the near future.

But, in celebration of surviving an interesting year of learning to cook with limited resources (and a tight budget) here are some of my more successful experiments.

Basil Chicken- a quick and tasty dish. I love rice, and chicken breast are so easy to thaw in the microwave and cook in my trusty little skillet. The secret to this dish is butter and some dried basil. Simple, but it smells amazing when it is cooking and tastes pretty good too.

I love Saturday morning breakfast. I like to scramble up some eggs and then add tomatoes, spinach, and cheese. The best part though is homemade chai, but I drink that everyday and usually a couple times a day on the weekends. Special thanks to my Kenyan friends who keep me well supplied with tea leaves. I am not an addict or am I? I just know that chai makes every day just a little bit better.

A quick snack- salsa, spinach, and cheese. Microwave and then top with some sour cream because sour cream improves everything. I like to cut mine into pizza slices, but it’s good rolled up too.

Indoor picnic- Bratwursts, corn, and tomatoes. I like to fry the frozen corn up with the bratwursts after they have cooked for a while. It gives the corn a nice roasted taste.

The best take to work lunch. Slice up left over bratwursts with cooked bow tie paste, mayo, spinach, and tomatoes. Don’t forget the best part, lots of parmesan cheese.

On the go breakfast- Avocado on pumpernickel toast. Salt the avocado, and it makes a delicious spread.

What are your favorite quirky meals?

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Filed under Home Improvement, Humor

Do I Really Want to Grow Up?

Do I want to grow up?

I realized the other day that I’m getting old. I know 25 isn’t really that old, but what I mean is I’ve had a shift in the way I think, what I talk about with my friends, and how I spend my free time. A couple weeks ago, I was genuinely excited about having an entire Saturday off so that I could paint my kitchen. I think that’s when it hit me that I’m more of an adult now than I am a kid. I also get excited over certain birthday presents (like say a vacuum), enjoy taking a good nap once in awhile (something I said as a kid that I would never enjoy) and intentionally add spinach and other grown up foods to my dishes. Weird, I know who would have thought.

Change is a funny thing when it happens so slowly that you don’t even realize it is happening. I’ve been blessed/cursed with the fact that I look much younger than I am. People tell me all the time that I look 16 which most would think is a good thing, but it gets annoying when people treat you like you’re sixteen long after high school is starting to become a fading memory.

About a year ago, I was out shopping with a friend of mine, who also looks much younger than she is, and the young guy behind the counter started bending over backwards to help me. “He was so flirting with you,” my friend told me after we left. “I know, I told her. “Maybe after he finishes high school and then college we can talk.”

I felt old over Labor Day weekend when we stopped to pick up my sister from the college she is attending. It was about eleven at night and there were kids everywhere laughing, screaming, jumping off walls, and just being goofy. I couldn’t wait to pick up my sister and head away from the mayhem. Then I got to thinking it wasn’t too long ago that I would have felt right at home on that very same campus. What happened?

Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m done with all-nighters, loud dorms, and freshman drama. I loved college while I was there, but each stage of life is fun in its own way. Not all parts of growing up are fun. I was reminded of that fact on Wednesday when a short visit to the clinic cost me 93 dollars and 60 cents, yuck. While it’s not fun paying rent every month and doing your own laundry, I love cooking my own meals, having the freedom to pick unusual paint colors for my walls, and not having to be home by 10 p.m. I guess, growing up has its perks.

It’s easy to want to live in the past thinking “yesteryears” were so much better than what is here today, but part of that is because when looking back, it is easy to forget the challenges and only remember the good memories. Today is here. It’s not always perfect, but it’s not all bad either. I love growing up, growing older, getting to see new things, and having new responsibilities. Each new day brings an adventure, and I don’t want to miss the good times that I can have now by wishing that things would go back to how they were.

What made you realize you were growing up?

What do you like most about your current stage in life?

Is growing up overrated?

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Filed under Contemplations, Home Improvement, Humor

Weaving Through the Chaos

I came home to find my kitchen had been moved into my living room: dishes, stove, refrigerator, the works. I suppose one of the drawbacks of having your dad as your landlord is that you don’t get a lot of warning when major construction is about to take place. On the up side, my dad and brother installed a beautiful new floor in the kitchen, and having all the appliances moved provided the ideal time for me to paint. Now just the ceiling is left to do before the refrigerator and stove can return to their happy home, and I can hopefully go back to having a little more order in my life.

Mornings have never been my thing so trying to make breakfast in the middle of a maze of extra appliances has been interesting to say the least. I set my coffee mug on top of what I thought was a stable shelf. It spilled and while I was cleaning up that mess, I managed to dump the sugar canister over as well. What can I say, I’m just talented like that. Thankfully, I had room to maneuver the vacuum cleaner and didn’t manage to spill anything else before making it out the door for the day.

Life can be chaotic. Sometimes it’s little things sometimes bigger things. Sometimes it’s a domino effect that threatens to mess with your sanity. But as the saying goes, things often get worse before they get better just like with my kitchen which now has a fresh coat of paint and a brand new floor. But, it’s not a fun place to be in the middle of all the construction juggling tools and trying to scrub all the paint off at the end of the day. It’s messy and frustrating but then again so are people some days.

It’s work living in the in-between whether that be living in the middle of a construction project or waiting to see where a relationship goes or living in-between two jobs. Uncertainty can throw a person off causing frustration and even anxiety, but it’s a stage, a phase, a little segment of a much bigger picture. Sometimes you just have to hang in a little bit longer and pray you survive.

It will be nice having this remodeling job finished. I’m looking forward to returning to semi-normal life. Although, the whole experience of living in an unfinished apartment is one thing that started this blog see Bucket Head and Camping Without the Stars.

I’m not a neat freak, but I do like being able to find my dishes and make a cup of chai in the morning without having to vacuum half a cup of sugar off the floor. But, after having to live this way for awhile, I’m sure my living room will feel huge once all of the appliances are put back where they belong.

Life and its stages can be quite the adventure but as C. S. Lewis said in his book The Voyager of the Dawn Treader, “Adventures are never fun while you are having them.” While this maybe true, how boring would life be without a little adventure? As long as you survive the adventures, they make for some great stories later on and act as a measure for future challenges that come along. Survive it, and you’ll be ready for the next “fun” challenge that comes your way.

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Filed under Contemplations, Home Improvement, Humor

Let Me Be

Everyone is an expert, or at least it seems that way sometimes. It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re doing taking a picture, raising a child, running a business someone (often a complete stranger) will have an opinion on how you should go about your task. Of course they mean well, but in my head I’m thinking, “I didn’t ask for your help. You don’t understand what’s involved here. Please just let me be.”

Please don’t get the wrong idea. I’m often very grateful for advice especially from someone in the field who knows what they are talking about or from someone who knows me and understands the situation, but those people who just like to point out mistakes and put in well over their allotted two cents really get on what’s left of my nerves.

I’m sure you’ve meet some doozies. Most of us have like the elderly lady I made the mistake of sitting in front of last weekend while covering a local graduation. Every time I took a picture she looked over my shoulder and told me I needed to get closer. I thanked her for her advice and tried to explain to her that I was happy with the picture and planned on cropping it later on the computer, but that didn’t stop her. She continued to tell me who she thought I should take pictures of and when. The frustrating part was that her prattle made me lose my concentration and almost miss an important shot. Note to self- if there is a beautiful open seat in the front row next to a slightly exocentric looking lady there is probably a good reason no one else chose to sit there. Find a different spot.

Friends of mine who have kids tell me they run into these “experts” all the time. Even through a stranger, or sometimes a well meaning friend, barely knows the situation they think they have the right to give all kinds of advice on pregnancy or how to properly raise a child. My advice, spend at least a month with someone before you start telling giving them advice and even then- do it sparingly.

What happened to the freedom for a little trial and error? Maybe I should have gotten closer to take that picture, I don’t know. Let me figure that out on my own. It will mean more in the long run. It is important to keep in mind that people have varying styles and approaches to life, and that’s a good thing. Just because I’m not doing something the way you would do it doesn’t make my way wrong.

I love photography because you can play with angles and distance to come up with your own style. The same thing is true with writing and even parenting, I think. If you don’t like my style that’s fine write your own book, take your own pictures, but please leave mine alone. I want the freedom to experiment.

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Filed under Contemplations, Humor, Photography

Cardboard Shelves

I finally have a little reading corner set up in my apartment. Even though I’ve lived here for six months now the place is still under construction, so I am not ready for any permanent shelving. But, I’ve really missed my books. Just seeing them out again helps me feel more settled. For my beloved books’ temporary home, I created some cardboard box shelves (covered in newspaper for a more finished look) and unpacked and dusted off some pictures to put on top.

Now my little corner, which is actually more like a section of the wall, is cozy with some color sprinkled in. I’m slowly starting to feel slightly more attached to this place. I’m not sure when I’ll have time to actually sit down and pick up a book, but I just feel better knowing that I can if I want to. Now maybe with my French books out in the open I’ll be more motivated to pick up them up once in awhile too.

I love reading corners, porch swings, and hammocks because they represent a place of rest, not sleeping per say, but a relaxed state of peace. Those moments can be hard to find in the midst of life’s demanding schedule, but they’re there. Eventually the clock reaches quitting time, chores and errands are finished, and it’s time to relax. My favorite part of the day is night time. Everything that had to be done is done and if not it will keep till tomorrow. I love the feeling when everyone else is asleep, the TV is off, and it’s just me and my thoughts. I hate going to bed because I want to hang on to that feeling as long as possible. I know it can’t last forever, but it is so satisfying while it does. The longer I linger the closer morning gets, so I finally let go—almost ready to face another day. At least I know it won’t last forever, and when it’s over my reading corner will be there.

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Is This Home?

Sometimes Facebook threatens my sanity. When I click on my profile page a little blue box with a world map tells me to, “Add your hometown to stay in touch with friends from home.” I’d love to. I really would, but I don’t really know where I’m from.

I suppose that is the ever present dilemma for missionary kids (MKs), military kids, or anyone else lumped into the third culture kids category. We don’t really know where we’re from. I stalked some of my MK friends to see what they put as their hometown. Some put the town they live in now, others put the town where they lived the longest as a child, many others just left it blank.

The oh so popular “where are you from” questions usually leaves me stammering some vague response as I try to determine if the person who asked (what they thought was a simple question) really wants to hear about the three countries I’ve lived in or if I should go with the simple solution of responding with the name of the town where I currently reside. This presents a problem when people from the town I live in now ask me the question knowing that I didn’t go to kindergarten with their grandchildren.

Where am I from? I don’t know; pick a place. I’ve move 13 times. I’d like to say Rethy, Zaire. Although Zaire is no longer a country. It is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Facebook doesn’t seem to recognize Rethy as a legitimate place it be from. So I leave my hometown blank. But, can I really claim Rethy even if Facebook did recognize it? I left when I was almost nine. My Swahili has gotten very rusty, and my blue passport clearly says American.

I don’t mind being a confused MK. My first airplane ride was well before I turned a year old. I’ve gotten to see things that some people only read about or see on TV. I have friends from six different continents (sadly no one from Antarctica yet), and I’ve gotten to eat some amazing food and meet some incredible people. Would I trade it—not for a second, but I would like to know where home is. If you are an MK, how do you answer the where are you from question? What makes you feel at home? For me it is chai, being on an airplane, or wearing a Kikwembi. If you’re not an MK and you ask someone where they are from would you suggest they give you the long answer or the short one at first and then a longer one later? I had someone tell me that MKs can be hard to get to know. If you feel this is the case, I apologize. We DO want to get to know you it’s just that sometimes we have trouble just figuring out who we are. Please don’t give up on us.Image

Self Portrait: The African Side

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