SPOTLIGHT: A trip to Kenya

Holy cow, it’s been FOUR MONTHS since I last posted.

Yikes.

But I’m back with important news, friends! I’m heading to NAIROBI, KENYA in March!!image3

I’ve wanted to go to Africa for many, many years. The first chance I had to go was over 10 years ago, when a friend at church was putting together a trip that happened to fall on the same week as our annual family vacation with my parents. So I (heartbreakingly) opted not to go, which was actually a blessing because I found out I was pregnant with Cameran shortly after and I would have been due the same week.

But ever since then I’ve been dreaming of how I would get there. I’ve been relentless with my dear friend Sarah (of JabuAfrica, you should check them out here) to take me with her and the stars just haven’t aligned.

Until now.

My friend Cindy (the same friend who was taking a group from my church 10 years ago) invited me to travel with her on a vision trip for Kenya Mercy Ministries to a slum of Nairobi called Kibera. Kenya Mercy Ministries (KMM) exists to financially support the Mamlaka Foundation whose mission is to serve the urban poor in Kenya, under the direction of Imbumi and Martha Makuku.image2I have heard the Makuku’s speak a few times and they are truly amazing people doing amazing things for God’s people. Here’s an excerpt about them from the KMM website:

In 2002, (Imbumi) began the Kibera Reformed Presbyterian Church (KRPC) in the poorest section of the Kibera slum, Silanga Village.

Since then, the Makuku’s ministry, under the Mamlaka Foundation, has expanded to include a school, feeding program, and health education outreach at the church, as well as the purchase of land outside the slum that includes a guest house, the Shunem Family Home (a place where they could safely house children, mostly girls, who were in extremely bad situations of abuse or abandonment), a ‘farmhouse,’ vegetable gardens, livestock, gristmill, and most recently, the Hope Community Church.

The ministry is not an easy one.  Imbumi describes Kibera as “degrading, undignified, and having no privacy. It is the rape capital of Kenya. Sin is out there in its raw form. It is not hidden. It is all there right before your eyes. If God is not with you, you are a ‘sitting duck’ for Satan. The enemy will get you very, very quickly. Ministering in a slum as a pastor is not easy. It can be very lonesome. The opposition from the enemy is very, very fierce. It is Satan’s domain where he rules in all his power and where as you enter in, you feel very oppressed. Even after being in the slum for only a few hours, you come out feeling like you have been in a boxing ring. You come out very physically and spiritually drained. It is because Satan will not let his people, his captives go very easily. He will do everything possible to make sure that those people do not come to Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the world.”

So why Kibera? For some reason I’ve always felt a pull to Africa during my adult years. I think it’s partially because I have a heart for people who are screwed by their history, whether it be crappy parents or a corrupt government. And those kids’ faces, they just put a smile on my face and an ache in my heart. And I want to help them.image1So that’s what I’m doing. Our team is going to Kibera to work with the Makuku’s to figure out how to send the kids in their lower school to high school. Kibera is one of the poorest communities in Kenya and education is one of the greatest keys to breaking the cycle of poverty. In addition, high school is up to three times as expensive as the lower school, which could quickly become a financial burden on KMM  – something we don’t want to happen.

I can’t wait to tell you their stories. Show you their faces. Figure out how to fund high school education. (Isn’t that crazy?! That we’re having to FIGURE OUT HOW TO FUND HIGH SCHOOL for these Kenyan children?! Did you know there are over 80 high schools just in Indianapolis alone? I’ll gladly take my school choice problems over Kibera’s education problems any day.)image4

Want to help? One way you can help is by directly sponsoring a child through KMM by clicking here. It’s $30/mo and $27 of that goes directly to Mamlaka Foundation for the school. There are about 20 kids who are in need of a sponsor right now.

Or you can support my trip. I’m hoping to raise $1,800 to fund the trip. Thanks to a surprising and generous donation of $1,000, I have $800 left to meet my goal. You can email me at katieunscripted @ gmail.com if you’d like to support me financially. And our team would LOVE your prayers – for safety, clear guidance, patience and extra love and grace for the children and the KMM team already in Kibera.

I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip. :) I’ll be returning 2 months from today!!!

Chicken Pomodori Panini and a giveaway!

Last week, I was invited to Indiana’s first Corner Bakery Cafe located in Carmel at Clay Terrace to see the space and eat some delicious food. (And it *was* delicious.) The cafe just opened mid-August.CornerBakeryCafe_National_Logo

A quick disclaimer: I don’t make it up to Carmel very often. I really only go there when I’m visiting or meeting friends. It’s a good 30 minutes from my house without traffic, so I generally stay closer to home, though each time I make the trip I marvel at the beautiful green spaces, the clean and pretty retail centers and grocery stores and simply at the sheer MULTITUDE of cool shops and spaces that we don’t have in urban Indy.

But my jaunt up to Corner Bakery Cafe (during rush hour even) was worth it once I arrived. With a ton of windows, I was loving all the natural light immediately as I walked in and it’s very family-friendly. And then the food arrived.

Since I’m gluten-free, I was a bit nervous about what I might be getting into since the menu isn’t very GF friendly at first glance. But make known that you’re gluten-free and there are several substitutions that will leave you full and happy with your meal.

I sampled the Anaheim Scrambler (eggs, bacon, tomatoes, green onions, cheddar cheese and avocado) with fresh fruit and it was wonderful, light and seasoned perfectly. The cafe brings in over 40 fresh fruits and veggies each day – and I could taste and see how fresh the ingredients were.

And then I ate the most amazing sandwich I may have ever tasted: the Chicken Pomodori Panini. It’s traditionally served on sourdough (which holy cow, looked amazing) but mine was served on a gluten-free wrap. And I loved it. (I was trying to figure out some better, more elegant way of stating that, but I just couldn’t. I simply loved it.)

Chicken Pomodori Panini pic

Here’s the second to best part of my visit to the cafe: they gave me the recipe for the Chicken Pomodori Panini to make at home! And… to share with you. :)

Chicken Pomodori Panini from Corner Bakery Cafe

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of Sourdough Bread (or any other bread or wrap of your choice)
  • Butter
  • Garlic Butter
  • 4 slices of Provolone Cheese
  • 3 oz. of Sliced Chicken
  • 1 oz. of Roasted Tomatoes
  • 3 leaves of Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 oz. of Fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 oz. of Pesto Mayo

Instructions

  1. Butter both slices of break on the outside and brush the inside of the bottom slice of bread with garlic butter.
  2. Layer two slices of cheese, chicken, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and spinach.
  3. Add the last two slices of cheese and top with the second slice of bread.
  4. Grill to golden perfection on a panini grill, adding the pesto mayo just before removing from the grill.
http://katieunscripted.com/2015/09/chicken-pomodori-panini/

The recipe is so simple and you could easily prepare the sandwiches at home and take to a tailgate and heat on a charcoal grill instead of a panini grill for a tasty and different addition to traditional tailgate fare.

But here’s the best part of my visit to Corner Bakery Cafe: they gave me $25 in gift certificates to give away to one lucky reader! All you have to do is comment below and tell me your favorite Corner Bakery Cafe menu item OR your favorite tailgate food (since it *is* football season after all).

Want a second entry? Share this post on Facebook or Twitter then come back and leave ANOTHER comment stating you did so. (Make sure to leave a link to the share or tag me in it so I can see that you really did share it.)

Now go visit the Clay Terrace Corner Bakery Cafe! (And invite me. :) ) Did I mention they have free wifi? ;)

 

Giveaway Details: This giveaway will run through Sunday, September 27th. One winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. The winner will have 24 hours to reply to my email or another winner will be selected. No exceptions.

20 years a carney.

The last three weeks have been crazy. I was very sick for an entire week – in bed for three days straight with a high fever and awful cough which led to laryngitis and no voice for two days. Adam and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on the same day that we closed on a new house. Alaina was hit by a car the following week and then turned 13 two days later. (What?! That’s crazy. I agree.) Then Isaac woke up in the middle of the night Sunday night with a 103 degree fever that stayed around too long and hives all over his body and ended up being diagnosed with Roseola.

Because the three weeks leading up to Roseola weren’t enough.

So I’m pretending the last three weeks didn’t happen, which takes us back to my beloved Indiana State Fair. (Of course it does.)Main Street

I’ve shared so many times that I love the State Fair. A friend asked me this year why I loved it so much – and I just kept rambling on about the diversity, the animals (and the baby animals), the people-watching, the food, my kids’ pure enjoyment while we’re there.baby pigs and mama

But I then realized that one of the biggest reasons I love the fair so much is because my dear friend Will Tolbert lets me work at The Stand. The Elephant Ear Stand.

I love it so much. Getting to share my love for the fair with the thousands of people who order elephant ears and funnel cakes makes me so happy. They make me laugh and they join in with me. They irritate me and they’re rude to me sometimes too, but that’s what makes the fair so great. The diversity.

But I realized this year that I’d never work at any other stand at the fair. Because as much as I love the fair and working at the stand, it’s not just being a carney that I love so much. (Okay, so maybe it’s that a little bit…)

It’s the people and the fun and the love that’s INSIDE The Stand that makes it so wonderful. And it’s only that way because of the culture and space that my friend Will began creating 20 years ago. (Working at an elephant ear stand, even for only 17ish days a year, for 20 years, pretty much qualifies you as a for-real carney, am I right?)

Young Will

Young Will

I think he said it best: “20 years at the State Fair. It has been an amazing journey with a lot of my best friends and family. People often ask why I keep working… for me it’s because it’s a chance to spend time with some of my favorite people.”

A peek inside The Stand

A peek inside The Stand in 2015

I have met some of *my* favorite people because of The Stand. I get so excited to reconnect with my fellow stand carneys each year. I smile and laugh so much each night I work during the fair because of them. Will introduces me to new music (because I’m old and not cool anymore) and my very much younger “coworkers” try to keep me young by keeping me out till 5am after a night in The Stand. (It actually does the opposite. Do you know what being out till 5am does to a 37 year old mother of 4? Don’t find out. It now has a name – “The Island Fever.”)

So instead of reliving the last three weeks, I’m going to take a trip down State Fair memory lane and think of my happy days visiting with the kids and my fun, heart-warming nights in The Stand.Isaac

Where else do kids get to fire rifles?

Where else do kids get to fire rifles?

Come with me next year. And every year after. Soon enough, Alaina will be taking over for Will and me in The Stand. Because carney is a gene.

Alaina in 2011

Alaina in 2011

Thankful. And a plea.

I’m finally sitting down tonight with a bowl of ice cream and a beautiful cupcake delivered to my doorstep by dear friends this morning. It’s time for me to exhale and to process today and ice cream and chocolate cupcakes help me do that.

If you follow me on social media, you know that our oldest daughter Alaina, who turns 13 in just two days, was hit by a car while riding her bike to school this morning. She is okay. Banged up and scraped up with a black eye and really sore. But ALIVE. By the grace of God, she’s ALIVE and not seriously injured.Alaina ER

Ever since 7:43 am my mind has been racing with “what could have happened.” Getting a call that your daughter has been hit by a car makes for a daunting 6 block drive to the accident scene. Pulling up to see police cars and an ambulance is even more daunting. Seeing your daughter sitting on the sidewalk, beaten up, but ALIVE, is a breathtaking thing.

I don’t need to list the things that could have happened to Alaina that rolled through my mind today. You know them all. She had been wearing a helmet and following traffic signals as she should have been. But a driver, who was going to be late for work, was more concerned about making up time than fully obeying traffic laws and turned right on a red light without stopping, right into her at a busy intersection.

All he had to do was come to a complete stop at the light. It was red. All he had to do was stop as he is supposed to do by law and he wouldn’t have hit her. He was late, misinterpreted the situation and blew threw the light. His mistake could have taken my daughter’s life.

We’ve all been there. Running late to work or school or dinner and we quickly scan the traffic and make snappy decisions. The problem is that often our scanning of a situation is incorrect. We don’t see that person out of the corner of our eye. Or the car who has the right of way pulling out in front of us. OR THE CHILD ON THE BIKE RIDING TO SCHOOL.

My plea to you is to SLOW. DOWN. Please please please. I promise you that being 3 minutes late to work is better than being an hour late to work, being in trouble with the law and replaying the memory of you hitting a child with your car over and over in your head and having no idea if that child is okay.

Even if you don’t think you’re near a school, kids walk and ride bikes to school from a mile away each and every single day. Every single intersection is an intersection that a child might be going through on the way to school.

To the gentleman who hit Alaina this morning: we know you didn’t do it on purpose and we forgive you. It has placed a fear in our home that we won’t soon be rid of and a pit in my stomach that I won’t likely stop feeling for a long time.

And to the gentleman who was behind the driver who hit Alaina: thank you for stopping and being a witness and telling the police what happened. And for trying to be helpful to the kids who were riding with Alaina.

And to all of our family and friends who have come over, texted, emailed, responded over social media and to our school and school family, who showed up on the scene and texted me all morning – we feel so so loved and cared for and supported in ways that have far exceeded our expectations. We love you all. And couldn’t have made it through today as amazingly as we have without your support.

And God is good, friends. He protected Alaina and for that I am thankful.

We’re moving north!!

If you know me at all, you know that for the last 3+ years I’ve been searching for our next home. Not just a house even, but really trying to figure out where we belong in this city we call home. Where we feel God is calling us to live and love.

Many houses have come and gone. Really amazing houses and neighborhoods where I imagined us living and growing. Contracts signed and everything. And then something would happen and the contract would fall through. None of those houses worked. Some of those houses even came around for second tries and didn’t work again.

I was getting frustrated. Feeling like we wanted something cheaper (we bought this house when we only had Alaina and maybe would have one more… hahahaha…) and something that fit our (bigger than planned 10 years ago) family better but nothing panning out. I prayed and prayed and felt led every time and every time questioned what the heck was “THE” plan if this wasn’t it.

Well my friends, I now know. We’re buying a new house, closing in just 11 short days (fingers crossed) and I can’t wait to share the journey with you! Here’s a picture of the house we’ll make our new home.New House BEFORE

Want to know where it is?

Right next door. To the north of our adjacent lot. :)

It’s perfect. We get to stay in our neighborhood that we love and we get to keep our yard that we love by swapping the fence to the other side of the yard.

I’ll share more about the details of the house and our plans shortly, but I wanted to give you a quick insight into one reason why I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

And now I’m off to bed so that I can spend tomorrow at the State Fair. It’s the most wonderful time of year…

So on to tomorrow…

I guess I took a sabbatical. Yeah, let’s call it that.

It’s been three months since I’ve written. Not purposefully. I mean, a little bit on purpose because I wasn’t going to post just to post. So here I am really just posting to post. Heh. ;)

I’m going to start writing again. Instead of starting posts in my head and not following through, I’ll at least attempt to write them down here. I stopped writing because I was doing just that – starting to write, but then it wouldn’t flow and it sounded trite and forced so I clicked “x” and went back to Facebook.

It’s crazy to think how much has happened in the last three months. School ended. Which is totally crazy in itself, not because it’s over, but because this year I’ll have three kids in school (Lucas is starting pre-K!). And even crazier is that next week I’ll start calling HIGH SCHOOLS to set up shadow dates for Alaina. HIGH. FREAKING. SCHOOL. I’m not old enough to have a high school student, right? (Tell me I’m right or never read this blog again.)

We had our only summer vacation. We spent an amazing week with family and basically family and I’m so thankful that we get to go on a beach vacation each year.IMG_7897GirlsIMG_7916IMG_7928IMG_7814

Except it ended with Isaac in the ER in Myrtle Beach on our last night there, requiring 10 stitches. So there’s that. 10418866_10152999104092199_4480955861232987440_n

There’s only a month left until school starts again and that seems scary. Again… HIGH. FREAKING. SCHOOL. shadow appointments.

We’re also in the middle of trying to buy a new house. If it works I’ll give you more details. Pray it works. This is the third house in as many years that we’ve tried to buy. I felt right away that this house was the reason the other two fell through. But it’s never easy, right? ;)

So on to tomorrow. And I’ll be writing more. Because it’s good for me. Tonight I actually thought I’d write about how horribly hard today was with the kids and how I texted Adam at one point and told him that I was “done with all of our planned children.” Instead I got to scroll through the pictures I haven’t looked at for a month and watch “The Bachelorette” and write to you. I mean, what’s better than that?

I am a free-range parent.

We live on the north side of downtown Indy. There are builders selling $600k+ homes on my block. There are thriving schools in my neighborhood. A street scene bursting with trendy, small, local eateries and businesses.Pretty neighborhood

There is also a Pathway to Recovery house in our neighborhood. There are strangers walking the sidewalks all day and all night. Sometimes they even knock on our door at night or rummage through our trash cans for things that aren’t trash to them. I have called the police to report expected drug sales in one of the apartments in the house north of ours. I have heard gunshots more times than I can count in the almost 10 years we’ve lived in this house.

We chose to live here because it’s diverse. It’s urban. It’s close to work and school and friends and fun. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable. That’s a good thing.

We let our kids walk to the park. Without us.

We let them ride their bikes around the block. Without us.

We let them play in the backyard for hours. Without us.

We let them ride their bikes to school. Past a run-down Dollar General, an even more run-down Family Dollar and don’t forget the corner liquor store. Crossing three busy streets besides the five normal city streets on the way.

And let me tell you, if someone EVER calls CPS reporting my children doing any of those things, I will fight back with everything I have. I’m warning you now. BRING. IT.

Let me repeat that we CHOSE to live in the city. Where it’s diverse and different and not perfect. And since we’ve made this choice, we’re also raising our kids with street smarts that most children significantly lack these days. I’m not talking inner-city, ghetto street smarts. I’m talking the street smarts we all grew up with that used to be NORMAL. No one called our parents “free range” back then.

Remember when we played outside till it was dark? Alone? Our parents didn’t even really know where we were, just that we were in the neighborhood (because that was our boundary area) and we’d be back by the time the street lights came on. We made friends with the kids riding their bikes through our streets and could tell if they were “good kids” or “bad kids” all on our own. No one was calling CPS on any of us for being out alone.

I can’t wait to see the young ladies and gentlemen that my kids become! Because they are being raised as independent kids who understand living in a diverse area and are learning how to have fun without me (GASP!) and be smart about and kind to the people in our ‘hood (GASP!) and get dirty in the dirt (GASP!)Dirty and climb to the top of the playset and go down the big-kid slide before they’re two (GASP!) Top of the slideand they can get dressed by themselves and put on their own shoes and can actually carry on a REAL! LIFE! CONVERSATION! with an adult!

My kids don’t need me (or for that matter, want me) to hold their hands all the time. They have a kind of independence that makes them feel confident in who they are and where we live. We aren’t dumb – we know there are dangers in our community, just like there are in yours. (Can you even believe that a teen was stabbed in Fishers?! And you thought that only happened in the hood right by mine, didn’t you? ;) ) That’s why we teach our kids to stay together and to know the signs of things that aren’t safe.

But tonight, my 8 year-old chose to hold my hand walking into Walmart. She knows what to be scared of.

Plus, who has the energy to be a helicopter parent anyways? Phew. I’m tired enough letting my kids do everything on their own…