Maasi Mara Kenyan Safari

So, all work and no play makes Sandi a grumpy person, LOL. I told our trip organizer, Natalie, I really didn’t want to go to Kenya without adding a safari in. That’s like coming to South Florida and not going to the beach! So our lovely host, Roberta, planned us a safari. And WHAT AN EXPERIENCE IT WAS!!! We did a 3 hour evening safari, spent the night in tents and then a 3 hour sunrise safari. Most pics are mine (taken on my iPhone 5) and a few belong to Natalie and Maya (both of whom had real cameras on them, lol) I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

CHEETAH

CHEETAH

BEAUTIFUL LION - WE SAW A MOMMA AND 3 CUBS THE EVENING BEFORE.

BEAUTIFUL LION – WE SAW A MOMMA AND 3 CUBS THE EVENING BEFORE.

ZEBRA... SEE THE BABY?

ZEBRA… SEE THE BABY?

STUNNING

STUNNING

AFRICAN BUFFALO

AFRICAN BUFFALO

YOUNG GIRAFFE

YOUNG GIRAFFE

CHEETAH

CHEETAH

GIRAFFE

GIRAFFE

LION

LION

OSTRICH

OSTRICH

I JUMPED OUT FOR A QUICK PIT STOP, MAYA CAUGHT ME... ZEBRA AND WILDEBEEST IN THE BACKGROUND... AMAZING!

I JUMPED OUT FOR A QUICK PIT STOP, MAYA CAUGHT ME… ZEBRA AND WILDEBEEST IN THE BACKGROUND… AMAZING!

I TOOK THIS WITH MY iPHONE... SUNSET

I TOOK THIS WITH MY iPHONE… SUNSET

PUMBA AKA WART HOG

PUMBA AKA WART HOG

THE WILDEBEEST WERE FUNNY. WE WOULD DRIVE UP ON THEM, THEY WOULD RUN A FEW YARDS AND THEN TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT US AS IF SAYING, "YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME??" ... TOO FUNNY

THE WILDEBEEST WERE FUNNY. WE WOULD DRIVE UP ON THEM, THEY WOULD RUN A FEW YARDS AND THEN TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT US AS IF SAYING, “YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME??” … TOO FUNNY

ZEBRA... ONE OF THE NEATEST THINGS WAS EARLIER IN THE TRIP, WE SAW ZEBRA HANGING OUT ON THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY GRAZING WITH THE COWS.

ZEBRA… ONE OF THE NEATEST THINGS WAS EARLIER IN THE TRIP, WE SAW ZEBRA HANGING OUT ON THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY GRAZING WITH THE COWS.

A mission to Kenya

I had the opportunity this month to travel to Nairobi and Sakwa, Kenya on a mission trip with Mission:Hope, an organization headed by my friend from all the way back in middle school, Natalie West Evans. Natalie is also the wife of the pastor at my church.

I invited Maya Bond-Duarte, a graduating midwife student from the school I was teaching at, to come as well. WHAT.A.TRIP!

We arrived in Nairobi very late in the evening, and were greeted at the airport by Roberta Peterson, our host for this trip. She is an incredible woman from NC that has a heart for Kenya and lives in Sakwa doing amazing work! We showered and hit the sack after 19+ hours of flying. Up early and a hearty breakfast and off on a 6 hour, bumpy ride to Sakwa. On the way we stopped at the Great Rift Valley viewpoint. What views we had!

Natalie, Roberta, Me, Maya and Petranila

Natalie, Roberta, Me, Maya and Petranila

We had two main objectives on this trip. To provide educational seminars and a clinic to the women of the community and to spend time with the children at the Hope Educational Center, where Roberta is the Matron.

Roberta

Roberta

We held our seminar at the church. Words cannot even begin to express the joy at seeing 170+ women sitting in that church listening to health education seminars. We spoke on the importance of care during pregnancy, breastfeeding, family planning and HIV.

Women's Health Seminar

Women’s Health Seminar

Maya, Evelyne and I saw about 50 women for various and assorted ailments in the church, while Michelle (part of the NC team) saw women in an outer building for HIV testing and family planning.

Maya, Evelyne and I saw about 50 women for various and assorted ailments in the church, while Michelle (part of the NC team) saw women in an outer building for HIV testing and family planning.

Evelyne Osano is an amazing woman. She lives and works in Kisii, Kenya. She is a registered nurse and her husband is a pastor. They have a beautiful little girl named Blessing. Evelyne works full time at a local hospital and then comes home and runs a clinic, financed with her own money. She loves her community THAT much! It was an honor to meet such an amazing woman. She inspires me to do more!

Evelyne and Me... Love this amazing woman!

Evelyne and Me… Love this amazing woman!

Me, Evelyne and Maya

Me, Evelyne and Maya

Showing Evelyne the medical supplies that I collected and brought with me. Donations provided by many of my midwife friends and the birth centers they work at.

Showing Evelyne the medical supplies that I collected and brought with me. Donations provided by many of my midwife friends and the birth centers they work at.

The next day we got to spend time with the kids!!! Oh my, what wonderful kids! We read to them, sang with them, were welcomed by them, made rainbow faith bead bracelets with them and danced with them!

This is Natalie with the kids :)

This is Natalie with the kids πŸ™‚

Me teaching the kids the Hokey Pokey!

Me teaching the kids the Hokey Pokey!

I love this photo of Maya!

I love this photo of Maya!

Me reading Bugs, Bugs, Bugs to the kids.

Me reading Bugs, Bugs, Bugs to the kids.

Reading to the kids.

Reading to the kids.

Natalie and I on Field Day with the kids.

Natalie and I on Field Day with the kids.

Maya tying the bracelets on the kids. Natalie read the story of how Jesus is our friend.

Maya tying the bracelets on the kids. Natalie read the story of how Jesus is our friend.

I even kicked a GOAL in a soccer game!!!

Goal!

Goal!

We had AMAZING food at our host home in Sakwa!!

This lunch was provided by the local ladies on our Women's Health Seminar day... YUM!!! Goat, greens and ugali... Mmmm, Mmmmm!

This lunch was provided by the local ladies on our Women’s Health Seminar day… YUM!!! Goat, greens and ugali… Mmmm, Mmmmm!

This little man stole my heart. On the day we were doing the Women’s Health Seminar he approached shyly and asked if I had a pen he could use for school. In 4th grade they stop using pencils and use pens instead. I gave him the pen I had brought from the States. He goes to the public school in town. As the days went by, he showed me each day that he still had my pen and let me know he was using it in his studies. On the last day we were there, he and other public school children were standing outside the Hope Educational Center watching the children put on a presentation just for us. As I left, he gave me a hug and said, “Thank you my friend, for the pen”. My heart melted! On our journey back to Nairobi I asked Roberta what it takes to sponsor a child to go to school at the Hope Educational Center. $60 pays for a years tuition, uniform, satchel bag and some supplies. YES, THAT IS SIXTY U.S. DOLLARS, A YEAR! A hundred dollars will help sponsor a kid and supply the school. I will sponsor this young man for many years. He will forever hold a place in my heart ❀ If you are interested in more information, you can contact me privately at sandiblankenshiprm@gmail.com.

I left part of my heart in Sakwa, with this little guy!

Here are more pics of the kids… lots more.

Maya reading with one of the wonderful teachers watching.

Maya reading with one of the wonderful teachers watching.

My naughty boy

Saying goodbye

The walk home

Walking home

Tomorrow… the Safari. πŸ˜€

Ciao!

On My Way, Home Sweet Home

I’m sitting in the airport hotel, dressed, packed, phones charged, coffee in hand excited to be going home.

It’s been a fantastic work trip that included some play time. Two adorable baby boys born 2 weeks apart in China, time spent getting to know 2 more families who I will love and cherish… So blessed to have been welcomed into their homes and be with them while experiencing the beauty of birth. It never gets old for me, no matter how many times I’m present at a birth.

I also traveled to Jinan, China (near Bejing) to teach staff at the hospital there about the importance of water birth and breastfeeding. Beautiful city, lovely people!

I also was part of a month long virtual race in June. Held by fellow blogger Tatjana, the Midsummer Sun Kilomathon was a great way to get in that much needed exercise. It was HOT here in China and Hong Kong, but I did it. In fact I completed 107 kilometers which is 66.5 miles!

I finished off the trip to Asia with a 5 day trip with my friend Lillian “Alice” Sanpere to Ubud, Bali. We stayed with Robin Lim who runs Bumi Sehat, a non-profit birth center where care for the locals is free. What a giving, loving, honorable woman. Doing so much to ensure that babies enter this world gently. Alice and I were invited to be part of a birth there and it was magical.

So, I’ll let the photos do the talking. I’ve got to call for the bell cart to get my stuff over to the airport.

Ciao!

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Dukan Diet – Update

I can’t believe it’s been 13 days since I posted. Caught another cute baby and did tons of clean eating and exercise while in Shanghai.
Still on track, down 11 pounds!!!
Just spent two days in Hong Kong with my friend Alice…

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And found a lovely running path this morning in Shenzhen…

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Pleased with my progress!
How are your summer plans going!?
Ciao!

Dukan Diet Redo – Day 4 & 5 – PP/PV

I’ve had a busy first few days in Shanghai getting settled in, meeting new people, finding the grocery stores, etc. I am staying with friends of the couple I am here to assist and they are all lovely. On Wednesday I got to hang out with the awesome kids at Amy’s house and then came back to the flat I am staying in and met a pretty awesome 5 1/2 year old… she thought I came to Shanghai to be a “wife” for Amy, too stinkin’ cute.

Day 4 Food:
Breakfast: 2 tea eggs
Lunch: salami (yes, I know that the fat is too high for Dukan, but it’s what was available, lol) and 2 ounces of low fat cheese
Dinner: Beef stir fry
Snack: FF Greek yogurt with flax seed
Water: 1300mL
Exercise: Walked around all day and didn’t calculate that, but did an intentional interval walk: 1.9 miles

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View from the balcony of the flat I’m staying in. It’s been around 70 degrees and hazy since I got here Tuesday evening. The sun peeks through the haze every once in a while πŸ™‚

Thursday was Day 5:
Breakfast: 2 fried eggs and a sausage link
Lunch: Iced coffee and FF Greek yogurt
Dinner: Cauliflower stir fried with ginger and spicy something!! Yum and some beef stir fry, as well. So yummy!
Snack: FF Greek yogurt
Water: 1500mL
Exercise: 2.2 interval walk + walking around all day.

I have my blue tooth keyboard hooked up to my iPad so typing is so much faster and easier!

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It’s Friday afternoon here, just found out the Miami Heat lost to the Spurs… argh… they need to get it together!!! I’m off to explore the streets!

Ciao!

I Get Paid to Do This!

Birth is in my blood. It permeates my life. It makes me whole. I feel immense joy in assisting others in the birth of their babies. I got to do that in the wee early hours today. In paradise. I witnessed a family of 4 become a family of 5. A gorgeous, quick, blessed water birth here in St. John, USVI.

Cassie & Ethan about 30 seconds after he was born into his mommy's hands in the water.

Cassie & Ethan about 30 seconds after he was born into his mommy’s hands in the water.

Birth is about intuition. About listening to the mother and listening within you to make the best choices. This birth was all about intuition. Going with the gut. Knowing all was well. And it was. A juicy 7 lb baby boy, a full pound bigger than his sisters!

Me & Ethan after I completed his newborn exam.

Me & Ethan after I completed his newborn exam.

I still have 6 days in paradise… I see some beach time in my immediate future!

Life.Is.Good

Ciao πŸ™‚

 

Radio Show Tonight

I have the opportunity to be a guest on the Maternally Yours radio show tonight. I am super excited. I am a guest with two of my heroes, Robin Lim (who won the CNN Hero of the Year award in 2011) and Robbie Davis-Floyd, who’s research and writings has led to an awakening among many people… midwives, doctors, women. Her work is important. I feel humbled to be invited to be on a show with them.

I invite you to listen in… it took me 3 days to decide to share this post, because to be honest, I’m nervous as ALL GET OUT about being on the radio. But I am prepared πŸ™‚

Here’s the link:Β http://maternallyyours.blogspot.com/2013/08/episode-100-pregnancy-and-birth-ritual.htmlΒ  The directions for hearing the show are listed there. The show begins at 6:00 p.m. EST.

Here I am… rockin’ my inner Ghandi… Praying for peace and wisdom… Hope to see you there!

meCiao!

 

What a Week and a Half

It’s been 10 days of up and downs, but things are improving!

Last Sunday a bike ride after church and then a drive 70 miles northΒ to Melborne to visit Nick in the hospital. Very sick, my boy 😦  He had surgery for this unknown infection in his left leg at 0700. Ask for prayers for healing… so many responses… THANK YOU!

Monday drive 70 miles south to job at the birth center. Call on my drive home, Nick being rushed back into surgery after spiking at 104.6 temp.

Tuesday drive 70 miles north to see Nick. Things not looking good. Surgeon says he may have to amputate to save Nick’s life. Lots and lots of prayer and healing energy, lots of emails and messages on facebook… my friends are AWESOME! Still no work on what this infection is.

Wednesday. Drive 70 miles south to birth center drive. In the late afternoon we’re told that it’s Group G strep… I’ve never heard of it. Conversation with my friend Julie so positive and full of light. Great suggestions! She also sends texts which I forward to Nick. I go to my Wednesday night bible study and everyone asks how Nick is… prayers said, uplifted by everyone’s spirit and positivity. Go to wifi cafe to read up on this G strep and it doesn’t look good. The first study I read 1 in 5 die. 2 of the 4 that survive have amputation. I decide to meditate on his leg and body being WHOLE. I went home, tucked Sydnie into bed and went for a 45 minute run… forgot to set the RunKeeper, but think it was about 3 miles total.

Thursday… NO IDEA WHAT I DID… LOL Oh wait! Tiffany and I ran the billing business all day… sheesh, I have NO BRAIN! Nick got his PICC line. That is an indwelling catheter in his subclavian artery so they don’t have to keep poking him for blood draws and resticking for IVs every 72 hours. Nick will be receiving long term antibiotics through this port for approximately a month.

Friday… Drive 80 miles to my college teaching job. Had a GREAT class. I really, really love teaching midwifery. LOVE IT. Then 10 miles north to the birth center to hook up with my girls and a 180 mile drive across the state to the west coast to see the mother of US midwifery Ina Mae Gaskin’s film premier and a meet and greet with her. Thank you boss lady, Miriam, for the trip… you’re the best… I still think the highlight of the trip was the stop at the TACO TRUCK in the middle of nowhere (South Bay) on the way over. FYI: I only ate the pork with the onions and cilantro… yum!!! Then 180 miles back to the birth center, where I spent the night, exhausted!

Saturday… Drive 70 miles north to home. Catch up on housework, saw the grandkids, did a nice bike ride. Nick improving. Doc cautiously optomistic. No temp over 100 for 3 days!!! Woo hoo!!!

Sunday… rode my bike to church 4.25 miles. Then rode it home, but took the long way…

Gorgeous day for a long bike ride!

Gorgeous day for a long bike ride!

My butt hurts, LOL. But it was a GORGEOUS ride! Lots of time to think and not think and just enjoy the wind in my hair. Nick update… surgeon says Nick is doing so well, he MIGHT go home this week! Last Tuesday he told him he’d be in hospital for at least 3 weeks! He will keep his PICC line in and continue on the long term antibiotics, but be at home. This is awesome news!

Monday… 70 mile drive to birth center job. It’s EARTH DAY and we’re celebrating. So much fun! Nick is still doing well and is waiting on news whether he gets to go home this week.

On the Dukan front… I’m eating very well, but my weight isn’t budging. I was starting to get VERY discouraged, but had a pep talk with myself. I know the Dukan Diet works… I mean everyone that follows this blog knows that. I also know that stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which makes it difficult to lose weight… I’m thinking my cortisol levels are through the roof this past week and a half πŸ™‚ My weight is 164. I’ll take that, for now. I’m focusing on my boy and that’s what is important. I’ll just keep eating right and it’ll happen.

So that’s the update. Waiting on word on whether he is going home today. My mom and sis are on the way there now. I’ve been skyping him on days I can’t be there. And I am so grateful for the technology that we have!

Skyping with Nick

Skyping with Nick

My bike... a gift for which I'm grateful :)

My bike… a gift for which I’m grateful πŸ™‚

Ina Mae Gaskin at her movie premier.

Ina Mae Gaskin at her movie premier.

So that’s my week… what have you been up to? How is your exercise and food choices going?

Ciao!

Australia Wrap Up & a Dukan Update

So, we’ll start out with my wild adventure down under πŸ™‚

I stayed 3 full days after the baby was born. On Saturday I went snorkeling with a group from MeetUp.com. And had an awesome time. Great way to wrap up 4 weeks in Adelaide.

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I then rented a car and started out on the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne. It was a long, but lovely 700 mile drive.

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Fun things to see…

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Then I got to Melbourne and stayed a few nights with Kay. A Scottish midwife I met in Abu Dhabi. We went for a long walk and lunch down by the water…

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The second night we met Melissa a Kiwi midwife I met in Abu Dhabi and Jax, a friend of a friend for a Thai fusion dinner…

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Then it was off to Malua Bay to see Gen, Dean and Gracie. I met this lovely family in Abu Dhabi, as well…

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We hiked, went to the zoo, BBQd breakfast at the sea, hiked some more, burned a bonfire, FUN!

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Then off to Sydney to meet up with Gail. Gail was my trainer in Abu Dhabi and my neighbor. And she is one of the funniest people I know. She invited me up for “tea” one night and so I ate dinner and went up to her flat only to find that “tea” is dinner. She’s called me Dickie since then… I’m sure it’s derogatory, but she says it with sarcasm and love at the same time πŸ˜€

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We drove from Sydney to The Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, in 16 hours… Long ass day, but wonderful company! She lives about 30 minutes from Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo!! We went with Gail’s daughter Olivia and her wee little man, Angus. What a fun day!

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And after cuddles and see ya laters, it was time for my 6 week Australia Adventure to come to a close. I flew out of Brisbane with ZZ Top, no kidding. On my second favorite plane…

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And, no, I didn’t get pics of ZZ Top, I try to think how I’d feel if people were interrupting me for pics.

And now I’m home a week. It’s Easter. I had a lovely day with my mom and Tiff, Joey and ALL the grandkids at church and then a wonderful dinner at Jenni and Chris’ house.

Now my update. I’ve gained 18 pounds since I’ve come back to the States in September. 9 of them in Australia. The first 9 creeped up. I’m freaked out. My clothes still fit, but are snug. I noticed my undies were snug last week and couldn’t imagine what was up. Then I got on the scale. I have stayed gluten free. In Australia I logged more miles on my RunKeeper app than any other 6 weeks in the past year. I hiked almost every single day! i swam and snorkeled. I climbed a freaking mountain!!!

I’ve done a few things that I need to rein in… 1. Too much full fat cheese. 2. Replacement foods (in Australia I splurged on GF pretzels, muffins, crackers… One night I ate GF crackers with organic honey!!!) 3. Wine. I’ve had a couple glasses a week, which is a lot for me. Moscato… Damn you, Cathy Cook! LOL

So, starting tomorrow, I’m doing 4 days of attack and then alternating PP (Pure Protein) and PV (Protein Veggie) days until it’s off. And I’m going to blog EVERY.SINGLE.DAY… To hold myself accountable and to get the support I need from all of you.

So, I’m back… Daily posts. Looking forward to getting back on track!

Ciao!