It was a good week. Cupcakes were eaten.

I haven’t been blogging as regularly this week.

Alas, there has been too much going on (in real life)!  And the Husband is working on a new blog / blog design which means that this little blog will be moving soon, again.  Although, unlike past moves, the content will be moving over as well.  Just a new name.

Enough of that administrative crap stuff.  All of the cool kids are talking about what they did this week.

So here’s a quick glimpse at what I’ve been doing:

week

1.) Volunteering!  This week some girls from my church group went to a homeless shelter to sort shoes for a few hours.  Trying to search for matches in thousands of shoes strewn about the floor, tables, shelves… it’s harder than one might think.

2.) Wearing yellow.  Is this an activity? It should be because I’m wearing the same cardigan today as I wore in the above picture (taken on Tuesday).  It’s ok to wear the same cardigan to work a few days per week, right?  I say yes, I’m hereby giving myself permission.

3.) Brunch with friends!  Well, this is technically from Sunday, but you get the idea.  It was fun, lots of fun.  We went to Sable and it was delicious.

4.) Bachelorette Party!  I went to a bachelorette party last night and we decorated cupcakes.  I ate all three of mine. There was one chocolate, one vanilla, one red velvet… I don’t even like red velvet but I ate it like a champion.  The frosting was delicious.  Seriously, so good.  Then all 20 or so of us ladies went out to the bars. This morning I’m regretting all things ate and drank last night.

I’m pretty sure my body wasn’t made to digest copious amounts of cupcakes, hard cider, and champagne.  Man up, body!

I have very few links to recommend today, but quality over quantity, people:

A great post on the pursuit of happiness.

I wish I had read this post sooner.

I hope everyone is having a most-fantastic week!

Volunteering turned out to be the very best way we could have started our marriage.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out, the Husband and I returned from Tanzania/Istanbul safe and sound and are now in the process of adjusting to ‘normal’ life.  It’s awful (the adjustment, that is).  The trip was absolutely perfect.  Well, except for the flight home from Paris… Delta received a scathing email from me today.  But moving on to the more positive things, it was most-definitely the second best vacation of my life (after my wedding week) – and for once I’m not exaggerating or being overly dramatic!

Our first week of the trip we spent volunteering in a town near Arusha, Tanzania.  It’s hard to tell people about the experience because it really is one of those things that a person has to experience to understand.

I’ll leave you with a not-so-brief summary of our time volunteering:

We stayed in a volunteer house with 15 or so other volunteers.  The volunteers were young and liberal and free-spirited and lovely and we had a good time getting to know them.  I even went boxing with a few of them at a local gym that was probably 30 ft by 15 ft.  We ate ciapatta and chai every day. We snacked on pineapple 3 meals a day.  The pineapple was the sweetest and juiciest fruit I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  We commuted to the orphanage an hour each way on a crowded van.  The rides cost 300 tsh each and we paid the conductor with coins.  The vans (dala dala) were packed with people and the smell of sweat and bodies was super overpowering.  More people fit in those vans than I would have thought possible.  The back seats were the best because if you sat near a door more people would crowd in and stand in front of where you were sitting or squeeze on your bench.  The language was Swahili and we loved learning it.  We arrived at the orphanage around 9am and we taught classes in English.  The students were mainly 6-10 years old, but there were some older and some younger.

Joy,

Joy.

There were openings and bars instead of glass in the windows.  There wasn’t enough chalk and no one had pencils or notebooks.  We taught simple words and grammar and a lot of math.  We taught English words for the parts of the body and learned that corn cobs are used for hygiene in Tanzania.  Recess sometimes lasted 1 hour and sometimes lasted 3 hours, depending on if the teachers wanted to teach that day.  It was so hot in the sun, but the students wore sweaters anyway.  Every day the children wore the same outfits, no matter what the temperature or weather.  The Husband taught them ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ and they loved the song (but didn’t understand the game).  The students loved our skin and fingernails and quickly found that they could see our veins through our whiteness.  White people (or really foreigners in general) are referred to as ‘mzungu’ but the students usually called us ‘teacher’.  Goats and cows came to graze in the school yard in the afternoon.  The boy who was in charge of grazing the animals was around 6 years old.  The students brought water bottles to class, but sometimes they didn’t have water from home.  The poverty was incredible, but seemed almost normal in our surroundings.

Break time was not such a break for volunteers!

Break time was not such a break for volunteers!

I firmly believe that every person should spend time volunteering internationally.  In my opinion, it’s the only way to truly learn about another culture, as well as our own.  The perspective I’ve gained about my own life through volunteering in Central America/Africa is priceless – and I was only able to do it in short stints.

Plus, (and trust me on this) if I can manage to survive without cheese and hot showers and western toilets and air conditioning and all other things we take for granted in the USA but are not common in other countries, you can too!

Even the cookies know we’re traveling and expect great things.

Generally I’m a fairly anxious person – but around vacation time I turn into a true mess of nerves and emotions.

Luckily, the Husband handles this super well and while I’m busy pacing (because this is what I do when I have too much nervous energy) he finished putting all of my piles of clothes into a suitcase.  And he did it well.  All of our stuff for 2.5 weeks into a single suitcase and carry-on.  Packing success!

Ah, another reason being married is awesome – maybe your significant other will love you enough to pack for you.  Or maybe it’s another reason that living with a person who will pack for you is awesome.  OK, it’s basically just another reason that I’m continuously glad I had the good sense to marry the man I did, either way, I’m thankful!

Anyway, we were out to eat last night (Chinese food, because it will be hard to find Chinese food in Tanzania, we’re assuming) and our fortune cookies calmed me down substantially.  I wasn’t calm enough to stop pacing, but I was able to sleep!  I also ate some chocolate in the form of a cupcake – so that probably helped, too.

These were our fortunes.  And we only had to open one cookie each to find them (the clarification is necessary in case there are skeptics out there who think we opened 80 cookies to find these amazing fortunes.)  Fitting, no?!

fortune cookies

I hope you’re right little cookies, I hope you’re right.

The next adventure (or two): Volunteer Honeymoon

As if getting into this whole ‘marriage’ thing wasn’t adventurous enough, we’re also leaving for Africa in two days.

WHOA, 2 days?!  That definitely came up fast.  I didn’t realize it until I just typed that sentence.  Allow me a few moments to recover.

Anyway, we’ll be volunteering at an orphanage/school in Morombo, Tanzania.  From everything I’ve heard.  It looks like it will be quite a challenging and rewarding time!  If you would like to donate, please do.  (Not to us, we already paid to volunteer and all of that ‘stuff’ but we would love to accept your donations for the school to give them while we’re there or upon our return).

So why are we volunteering instead of sipping cocktails on a beach or on a hotel rooftop in some faraway city?  Well, I can’t think of a better start to a marriage than to spend time serving others together.  Plus, I think it’s great to remind myself what is really important every once in a while, and also what I constantly take for granted – like indoor plumbing and clean food and water.  I’m hoping this trip puts some things into perspective and allows me to think about my blessings even more.  Plus, we travel all of the time and no trip is as rewarding as a volunteer trip.  At least in my (limited) experience.

I volunteered in Nicaragua in 2008 during my spring break senior year.  It was amazing.  And challenging.

4th graders in Nicaragua!

4th graders in Nicaragua!

The things I would have done for a hot shower at the end of those weeks…

Anyway, this time it’s Arusha, Tanzania (Africa) and the Husband’s coming along, too.  I consider myself super blessed to have a husband who when I said ‘hey babe, let’s volunteer for our honeymoon,’  immediately and enthusiastically agreed.

Other things we’ll be doing on our honeymoon… going on a safari and camping.  Yes, camping.

I’ve never gone camping in my life.  This, however, did not deter the Husband from suggesting it as a very viable option in the Serengeti.  He actually thought sending me a picture of the ‘accommodations’ would convince me that camping wouldn’t be so bad.

Our fancy honeymoon suite.

Our fancy honeymoon suite.

Needless to say, his plan backfired.  Did you notice there are two cots?  No, we will not be pushing these together… I have a feeling that hearing lions outside my tent is not going to induce any sort of passion in my heart or anywhere else!  Speaking of which, we have heard stories from friends who have gone on safaris (and survived the camping) that entailed lions sleeping literally right next to their tents.  How’s that for comforting?

I’ll be writing more in the next few days as my stress levels rise.  Stay tuned  🙂

(And once again, if you would like to donate to the children we’ll be teaching on our trip or other causes we deem to need assistance, please do)