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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Newest Iddy Biddy Kenyan

One of the reasons that I try to post every day is because as soon as I take a one day break, it somehow turns into 3 days.  It’s very easy to just not post anything, to just sit on my laurels and relax and just forget about all of this Lenna Living Lightly crap.  But I stop and think of you, my dear, kind  readers (reader?) that seem to take some piece of enjoyment from this blog and I soldier on! Plus some boat was pulling into Mombasa (Kenyan coast) and apparently cut some internet line that runs along the sea floor or something even less technical than that sad explanation and it's caused extremely bad internet for the past 2 days.

Let me first start by sharing the news that my good friend Carly had a baby! After 40 grueling hours of labor – Little Eli Koinange was born at Aga Khan hospital in Nairobi.  One friend reminded me that 40 hours is the equivalent of a work week – Carly was in labor for an entire work week, yes that’s right.  If that doesn’t scare you out of having kids, I don’t know what will.  But Carly is strong like the ox and not more than 8 hours later she was on her feet changing diapers. Incredible. We brought her frozen yogurt and indian food as a trade for getting to see the new baby.  Here’s how it looked …I mean, not the birth – i was not there for that and don’t really think you want to see pictures of that anyways – I want to show you little ELI! He’s such a precious little munchichi – i get to see him again Wednesday.   

Mama and baby - about 10 hours old

Rose with Eli

Me with Eli

Proud papa and grandpa
 And since I never had time to blog about her pre-baby brunch that  we had…why don’t I just do that now! (I hope you are reading Carly – I haven’t shown you the photos yet!) Sort of backwards – I showed you the baby and now comes the pre-baby brunch…but think of it as a brain exercise: practice keeping natural order of events in your head despite what Lenna’s blog is telling you. 



9 months and waiting!
   
The brunch was at Riverside Cafe – Good cooking. And great company – there were lots of interesting friends of Carly and Karuga to talk to, some I already knew, some I didn’t. 

Okay so that is that. Now, since I think it’s too much to throw another  topic on for today…I leave you with a little humor.  So, I recently had a quick trip to Uganda for work and I had to stay in a small town called Gulu. At night, I went to check out my options for food at the small little guest house I was staying at and here’s one of the pages from the menu that I thought was a bit funny but very typical of small town Africa food descriptions in English (shit, even big town Africa).


My favorites are:
1) the Greek Salads (plural) that has carrots and mayonnaise and FRENCH dressing. If the Greeks find out about this, I’m betting that they will have worse riots than those they are currently having from the Euro crises.
2) African Tear Gas.  Do I need to say anything else? There must be some rule against naming food after riot control weaponry. And what are Threads?
3) A Flanny Avocado Salads.  It must mean something to someone. The description is painful as well.


And since I don't know what else to do with this photo – I’ll share with you pig transport in Uganda – You cannot tell but there were so so many giant pigs in that truck and the guys were just the second layer on top of them. You can see a pig arm on the left sticking out of the side– those pigs were packed so tight – that’s a lot of bacon right there! ew!
This little piggy went to the market....
bye!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little India in Nairobi Part 2

I don't do much (any) traditional shopping here. Streetwear type stores do exist - Two British chains you can find in most of the shopping malls -  Woolworths and Truworths - but the prices are so sky high for wal-mart quality stuff that it is just not appealing.  Anyways, for some reason I just don't have the urge to shop that sort of stuff here anyways - When you aren't bombarded by shopping centers and billboards all over the place and people dressed to impress constantly reminding you that you need to compete, you find that the desire to buy buy buy more cute tops and jeans and little cutesy dresses and 12 pairs of tennis shoes and 7 pairs of leather boots, etc begins to diminish. I've really enjoyed being away from all that - as much as I LOVE my trips to Marshalls and TJ Maxx in the US. (I'm exclusively a bargain shopper - even at home).

BUT! That does not mean I don't shop here - I go nuts with the cool hand made African and India creations - the stuff that is hard to get in the US or just tons more expensive - I have a small addiction to that stuff. In fact, I think at this point someone needs to declare a moratorium on my handicraft and ethnic clothing buying. Am I really going to be able to wear and use all this stuff when I move back?? Will it be okay to have a house (sorry, I mean apartment - for a second I forgot I'll be moving back to DC where buying a house costs you  half a mill) full of african masks, rugs, paintings, tapestries, statues everywhere you turn?? I'll have to stamp passports at the door - it's that bad.  Anyways, this is about India and stuff from India.

A huge expo of vendors from India was in Nairobi for 10 days and somehow I found myself waiting at the doors for the place to open on opening day. It was like black Friday at Target for me! I was literally one of like 6 people like standing there staring at the gate watching the clock.  Finally they let us in and it was a STAMPEDE..of 6 people...I'm trying to make it more dramatic.  The vendors weren't all set up yet but I still managed to buy a couple of tops in the 15 minutes I had during my lunch break. I decided to just leave after that and come back once everyone was set up. I was a bit nervous about this since I had to take a three day trip to Uganda for work and I was unsure if people were going to come and buy all the good stuff before I got back - but it was all still there and I scored some great finds – there are a few things I’m actually annoyed at myself that I did not buy – ugh. Here's all the awesome stuff I saw (much of which I ended up buying):
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I ended up buying the orange on on the left side of the photo
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Beautiful saris
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They had these beautiful lambs skin purses - so I got one. So cheap!
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These are the ones that i wish i would have bought but didn't. He wanted $20 for these HUGE saris. They were gorgeous so detailed and awesome colors. I could have done something super cool with these - curtains or something. Damn. They are much more expensive at Diamond Plaza for nice ones like these.
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Love the colors - didn't buy.
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Loved but didn't buy.
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Loving this top - just need to find the right fancy pants
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For most proper Indian women, pants are worn under this - but not for hoochie American lady!!
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I just had this one tailored to be a bit shorter so that it's not such a gown.
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I go back and forth on loving this and hating it. But it's mine that's all that matters.
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I bought this really cheap beautiful sari material. I figured I can make a table cloth for xmas or something cool like that with it.
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Yes, I do have worker man hands. And it looks like arthritis or something..but it's not. I'm trying to show you the jewelry here!
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LOVE ALL MY NEW International Flair!  And so cheap – that’s the best part.  Cost me way less than a trip to Marshalls or TJ Maxx normally would for all  that I bought. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Long Distance LOVE - Keep it together People!

Long distance communications has come a looong way in a short time - which has proven priceless for thousands (millions) of couples on this planet to stay close while living far apart. We have cheaper international call rates, smart phone messenger services that work across the world, skype chat, skype call, skype video call, email, snail mail and even you tube for those performers out there.  Even with allllll those communication options that help keep you together, there will always be a huge gap that can stress a relationship - there is still no way to feel a hug or a kiss or a handhold from that special someone. You really have to do all you can to keep your relationship alive and developing without being able to be physically there.
Sergio lives thousands of miles away from me - and it can be a real roller coaster of emotions - sometimes you are fine, sometimes you can fill your schedule with so much stuff that you don't have to dwell on it, but sometimes, most of the time, you just wish that person was there - right up in your face. Sergio is my best friend and now that he's away - I would trade a day of taco bell feasting or a shopping spree at Marshalls just to hold his hand or make him coffee or sit next to him in the car.






So, since I know quite a few people that are in the same boat as me - I thought I would prepare a little list of ways that we try to stay close and connected even though we live far apart. And this isn't the first time for us - we've done this international long distance thing before we were married and made it work. There is lots of hope as long as both people are FULLY committed to each other as their one and only. (no room for wondering eyes!)

1) Daily communication. Even when you are busy and feel like you have nothing to say. Still touch base.
2) Send stuff to each other. These days there are countless ways to do that - For Valentine's Day I sent Sergio breakfast from IHOP using Dr. Delivery. Almost every major city has this - Even Nairobi has Mama Meals on Wheels! Amazon ships to many places. It doesn't have to be something big - it could be something silly like a hot wheels of his favorite car or a gallon of Worcestershire sauce - doesn't really matter what it is - it's just fun to receive stuff and it lets you know that you are important.
3) Skype video - it's nice to have a real time visual of your main squeeze.
4) Try and do some routine things together. Like make a grocery list or something that is sort of normal and domestic and makes you feel like your households are connected (since you have 2). Wow, that was a very boring recommendation..make a grocery list??? But you get the idea right? I'm sure you can think of something better.  Okay, how bout a master to-do list? eh. getting there.
5) Use smart phone messaging to send daily photos of things you are doing or seeing. Sergio and I do a sort of photo journal thing where we send weird or funny photos of stuff as we experience it so you can imagine the person in whatever element they are in. Bathroom photos are not acceptable.
6) Have an end in sight. You must know when the next time you will see each other will be. There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel or you will feel hopeless and discouraged. Plan your next visit during your current visit so it's on the calendar.
7) When you talk, try not to brag about how much fun you are having or how awesome the party you went to on Saturday was.  This just leads to insecurities and fighting..which leads to my next point....
8) Try to not fight! Fights are bound to happen in every relationship but fights that happen when you are living away from each other can be even more discouraging and frustrating -  so bite your tongue more than you normally would and don't make an issue out of small things - if you know you are in a bad mood, do not have a phone call at that time. It's hard enough as it is without grumplestiltskin taking the mic.
Love my byu


Love is worth fighting for but you have to work at it every day (long distance or not!) and be willing to make compromises that will put you together in the end.
Hope this helps all you long distancers out there.

Please leave comments with any additional ideas! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crap you can buy on the side of the road in Nairobi

I’m pretty sure Nairobi was using drive thru’s before McDonalds was even a dream in the mind of Ray Kroc.  Seriously, you don’t even have to leave your car to buy a hot meal, get groceries, furnish your pad, choose a pet, accessorize your outfit, etc if you do not want to.  All you have to do is sit patiently in traffic or know which street to drive down for whatever commodity you are looking for. I’m not sure how some of these vendors decide what they are going to sell. You’ll see a guy that is selling like dixie cups, paper clips, and kitchen knives. I just don’t get how he came up with that selection?!  Here are just SOME examples of how it's done here that I was able to snap photos of without getting my phone ganked out of my hand through the car window. (Fair warning, if you have a soft spot for little furry friends, the photos at the end are sad)
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Here's what it looks like as you sit in traffic - people come out of the woodwork and sell things up and down the roads between the lanes.

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Perhaps you need a wire Christmas Tree or some beautiful dresses?
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Or a beach ball
 
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I was just thinking...I wish I had a pinwheel, a furniture duster and a bandana right about now.

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Oh I like these things - they are those string balls that hang over your lightbulbs..pretty.  And you can see all the furniture they make and sell there as well as birdcages.

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You can find some really nice stuff actually - These basket drawer sets are not cheap. I've been bargaining for something like that for 2 years now..can't get them below $60!
 
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Me Likes. Me Wants.
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They have flowers like you have never seen here. And they are cheap. No excuses men! The stuff in the back are banana leaf baskets and Christmas tree ornament hangers and wind chimes.
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Roses are red, violets are blue, buy my flowers or the wire motorcycle the guy behind me is selling.

byu signs
This guy sells signs painted on crappy plywood - but I love how colorful everything is. We had him make us a giant black, white and red Nairobi sign and we have it hanging in our kitchen. Cheap art with a vintage feel.

 byu signs 2
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The Nairobi Optical Gallery/Khalil Eye Care (Uncle Mike/Sam, you guys have a Nairobi affiliate when you're ready to branch out)
 
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Phone credit - this one is standard and useful.

Then there is the SAD stuff – there is one road specifically for puppies and bunnies and kitties. It’s called Peponi Rd but I call it Poopy Puppy Rd.
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Little kitties in a box
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Puppies
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awwww..how sweet are they?? It breaks my heart to see how they keep them in tiny little plastic boxes
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Said boxes...
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Poor poopy puppy  - he's tied to the fence and can't even move. I hate it. But this is life here -  making a buck is first and foremost and I get that ..but it would be nice if they could at least be a bit more humane at the same time. 

If I was a street vendor, I would sell toilet paper, double (and tripple) A batteries, and toothpaste and maybe tomatoes.  So, what would you sell if you were a street vendor? What are those key things that you feel like people always get home and think “Damn! I forgot to buy _____!”.  Perhaps for you it’s beach balls and sunglasses…if so, you are covered here!

Monday, February 20, 2012

For My Mom, on her Birthday.

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On a day like today, it’s important to say,

how important my mom is in so many ways.

I wish I could be there and say face to face,

you deserve a Happy Birthday and state my case.

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I was blessed with a mom that’s unlike all others,   

She's dedicated her life to me and my brother. 


 She gives and she gives and then she gives more,
 to the ends of the earth she would go I am sure.

P9040007 

She’s funny, she’s smart, and so well informed – she can argue on Palestine or whether earth has warmed. 

 

   And man! have you seen her? your jaw would just drop,

she’s spunky and fit and makes the men want to stop.

 

 Me and momThe qualities that I love the most about her,

she’s unpredictable and extraordinary, for that there’s no cure. 

 

 She’ll bleach her hair with whitening toothpaste,

then drink 10 cups of green tea to slim her waist.

mom 

She cooks like a pro and mixes it up,

not once have I seen her use a measuring cup. 

 

She’s a dreamer, a poet, authentic to the core,

she’s been there and done that and is ready for more. 

 

If you don’t know her, you should, she’s genuine GOLD –

            her name is Joy for a reason, 

may the world be told.

 

Happy Birthday Mom.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Best FREE at home online workouts

I've been in high gear lately trying my best to drop my extra weight without distraction. So, I've been trying to keep things new and fresh so I don't just get discouraged by trudging away on a treadmill or elliptical every day.

Some of you may remember my post about bodyrock.tv. (Fitness on the road).  Well I'm still using bodyrock.tv but there has been some major changes. The two people that ran the site got divorced - tragic I know - so the husband continued making the videos with his brother and his brother's lady friend and though I did love the original chick (Zuzana), the new crew is great and they are putting out new workouts daily. They are usually from 12-20 minutes and they are INTENSE. Usually you will need a sandbag for the workouts - but no worries, I have shown you how to make your own right here.  The workouts are sort of cross fit meets boot camp.  And best of all, you can access them from AFRICA! Unlike exercise TV or a lot of other workout sites.