Thursday, November 26, 2009

9 Things To Be Thankful For in 2009

#1 IT ALL WORKS OUT: Although it may not be the best idea to have an estate sale in the middle of November from a third-floor apartment with only 3 days notice – it’s not the worst either. You all were great to come out!

#2 CRAIGS LIST: What could be better than free want ads you can post instantly online? We sold our baby dresser (to a friendly, pregnant Papillion teacher), bedroom set (to someone we realized is a friend of a friend of a friend – thanks blogger), and high chair (to a Russian bride) –all perfectly random, nice people...that did not appear to particularly want to slit my throat any time soon (I've read the Craigs List horror stories too).

#3 BARNHART BOXES: I am truly in love with Barnhart Press boxes and would probably marry them if I hadn’t committed to Karl previously (they donated 100 boxes to our move – and I have to say these boxes are perfect in every way). If you need a local printer, this company is the BEST:

#4 MOVING FORWARD: We’ve sold most of our lighting, of all things, which makes this seem like someone else’s apartment (lighting really effects me). I am surrounded by price tags on everything I own (my own personal in-door garage sale - kinda like a home on CRIBS, but not) , and nearly all of my clothes are hanging from a 12 foot soccer goal in our dining room (very odd). I feel like I’m living someone else’s life at the moment – but life is good – it’s all moving forward (literally). We are moving in with our parents on Saturday (to get help with Karl's back surgery on Monday). Both sets of parents are AMAZING and have worked tirelessly to help us. We are so grateful to them!

#5 SIMPLIFICATION: There is something very refreshing about downsizing your life to about 5% of your former possessions (although coats are still my weakness – is it wrong to keep 15 if I am giving away 30 – considering I’m moving to a Mediterranean, sub-tropical location? Should I even be admitting this?).

#6 EMME HAS SKILLS: Our sweet Emme! She can go from laying down to sitting up (see video to right or visit for larger video) and has recently started the “Vietnam one-arm, rice paddy crawl.”

#7 JENSEN LOVES PINK: Pink tutu, pink walls, pink bed - perhaps a slight overdose on pinkness - it's better than a 3 year old into "grundge," I suppose (see video to right or visit for larger video).

#8 ONE FABULOUS MAN: Karl is the best. For Thanksgiving he got up early to feed Emme, and I slept in till 10 am. I haven’t done that in years! I couldn’t ask for a better husband.

#9 1621 – The year of the first Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday (who doesn’t love the only holiday built in with a 4 day weekend that includes the best meal of the year?). Wikipedia says Thanksgiving is “historically a religious observation to give thanks to God.” Not a bad idea, I say. Not bad at all.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Micro, Micro and More Micro

I met a loan officer from Uganda last week at an open house for Opportunity International. Their 3 tiered approach to micro-finance is impressive!

MICRO LOANS: A typical first point of entry, the Trust Group brings together 10 to 30 entrepreneurs who elect leaders, receive training and pledge to guarantee each other’s loans. Because the group guarantee replaces the need for collateral, credit becomes available to those previously locked out from formal financial services (98% pay back rate).

To provide savings accounts to people who have never had access, Opportunity is building a network of scalable, sustainable and accessible banks throughout the developing world. Savings bring stability and a means to move away from subsistence living. Interest-bearing savings accounts provide a secure, convenient way for clients to manage money and prepare for a crisis or a business opportunity. Medicine for a sick child can be purchased with a few dollars in the bank.

MICRO INSURANCE: Opportunity’s MicroEnsure, the world’s first and largest microinsurance broker, provides protection against the many risks faced by those living in poverty. Innovative products cover policyholders with crop, loan, health, life and property insurance – offering clients a safety net when an unexpected hardship or disaster occurs.

How cool is that?

Check out more info on Opportunity International!

Want to PERSONALLY give someone across the globe a micro-loan RIGHT NOW? View profiles and photos, hand pick your entrepreneur, and get paid back. It's not a hand-out! See

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Only Hair

The many phases of my hair...some more brutal than others.

Please vote in which "Hair Era" you met me.

The Piggie Era (2 1/2 years old)

Au Naturel (what can I say? I was 5)

First Perm (wow - there are no words - I was devastated)

Jr. High Perm Continued
( clearly not devastated enough to get off the perm-crack habit -
I think I had a perm for 10 straight years)

Sr. High Big Hair

Longggggg College Era
(there's still just SO MUCH of it - had I not heard of sissors?)

Jett Black
(dyed it in France at the end of my self-inflicted Euro tour)

Platinum Blonde (it's a bit more fun)

Brown (back to the basics)


Red (so I wanted to be a red head)

Make that a bobbed red head

Matchy-matchy -but not


Short, brown (I hate to say it - mom hair - but I love it)

That about sums it up!
Please vote for the "Hair Era" in which you met me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

10 things we need to do before we go…

#1. Get visas (the B1 84 VISA specifically - this is basically “permission” to enter the country granted by South Africa – a long 8 step process, including a police report proving our lack of criminal activity - think they'll let Karl in?)

#2. Finish our immunizations (we’ve gotten so many we couldn’t even tell you what’s left)

#3. Obtain an international driver’s license (this in no way helps with the ability to actually drive on the other side of the road)

#4. Finalize health insurance (maternity? no maternity? adopt?)

#5. Pick seats for the 24 hour flight through Amsterdam to Cape Town (attempt to be as kid friendly as possible to avoid handing out our “airplane parent apology cards” - yes – we really do have these).

#6. Put together a pre-school curriculum for Jensen (today she saw the number 3 and said "that's MY number" - she can count to 10 - if you don't take into account the fact that she's anti #8)

#7. Back Surgery (Karl has a herniated disk - good times)

#8. Divide up all possessions (between “store,” “sell,” “give away” and “take to Africa" – holy array of decisions!)

#9. Move in with parents (with Karl’s surgery, he’ll be out of commission for weeks and I’ll need help,...we’ll toggle between both sets of parents – trying to stay long enough to have good quality time but short enough to avoid completely wearing out our welcome and causing them to wish we would leave for Africa MUCH sooner)

#10. Celebrate our 8th year anniversary (best decision I ever made was to marry Karl Ostrand)