I actually remember about a year and a half ago while sitting at the neighborhood park watching the kids play, our friend Tom mentioned to me that his wife Daris was applying to be a Fulbright Scholar to teach in Tanzania and if she got it they would be moving to Africa for the next year.  I remember thinking right then (knowing how awesome Daris is that she would get the grant) that while I was not bold and brave enough to pick up and move my family to Africa perhaps this would be a unique opportunity to visit and be able to get some cultural experiences that wouldnt normally be available with a standard tourist visit.

A few months later the Hale family was off to Makumira University in Arusha Tanzania.  Following along with their adventures in the Whaleherdienda Chronicle I was more convinced that I wanted to visit.  It is important to me to expose my children to the world and it's cultures, differences, and beauty.   We couldn't really fit all we wanted to do during school breaks so decided to wait until summer to go.  We wanted to go and visit the Hale's so we could learn about all that they were doing there and learn about the Tanzanian students and people and hear all the great stories.  As it turned out we decided to time our visit to be able to attend the semester end concert for the music students at the university, what a bonus!

Planning a trip to Tanzania, we decided you can't go halfway around the world and not head out to visit all the incredible beauty that exists in this comparatively untamed part of the world.  Mike's brother has a good friend who lives in Tanzania and runs a Safari company there.  We found out that Ngomi just lived about an hour away from Arusha in the town of Moshi.  We booked two weeks of traveling with his company, Makasa Tanzanian Safaris.   We scheduled visits to a Maasai tribe village, Oldupai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Zanzibar, as well as a day to spend with Ngomi in Moshi.    We booked plane tickets, got required immunizations and medications, applied for tourist visas, shopped for comfy safari clothes, and upgraded camera equipment in preparation.

After anticipating the trip for months, finally the day came.   The entire trip was just perfect and unbelievable.  Every single day I learned something, did something, saw something, or met someone I had never before.  Even the parts we were kind of dreading (for example 30 hours of travel there and back) went fine.  The kids never complained about any of the long, often loud and rough travels between destinations and adapted easily to the varying levels of accommodations throughout the trip.   I am going to try and capture some of the magic of the trip in my journal to have as a memento for myself and my family and to tell the story to others.  It may take a while as I am still unpacking, time shifting, sorting though thousands of photos, and getting back into work and life here.

Crazy Races

Last weekend I completed my first half marathon ever!   It was tons of fun.

I've been trying to work on my schedule for what races and triathlons to do this year.   I love the splash n dash series, and will try out the new Pflugerville series that are similar.  Something that has caught my eye is all these non-traditional races, that have obstacles, mud, and general craziness components to them.  I'd like to try a few!

I signed up with my childhood best friend Becky to do the Warrior Dash up near Dallas http://www.warriordash.com/  on April 16th.
There's also
http://www.lungusa.org/pledge-events/tx/austin-climb/   (stair climbing race to the top of Frost tower)
http://www.urbanassaultride.com/ (did this one last year, I think we'll do it again!)

Have any of you tried out these kind of races?  They look fun.
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yay calvin

I've been missing you LJ!

I havent posted on my journal in almost a year. I miss it. Yes I will admit it has been replaced with facebook which with it's attention deficit quick updates fit better with my life. I could check it for 2-3 minutes many times throughout the day while resting my feet for a minute, where I tend to spend a larger chunk of time composing an entry for LJ.

I am going to try and get back to posting here! My youngest child started elementary school today. I now have something called time! It's been a while since I've had that, it seems foreign to me.   Today was my youngest's first first day of elementary school and my oldest's last first day of elementary school.  Tracy is in 3rd grade.   This year I think will be fun and special being the only year of their lives where all three will be at one school.

My son is now the big man on campus at the elementary school. Seems time has flown from this day http://dragonbec.livejournal.com/2005/08/17/ until now!    From gangly redhead to... well, gangly redhead.  Eh, some things never change.
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    cheerful cheerful
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I went to look through my journal and realized I've been so busy living and having fun that I havent bothered to write about it. I dont think that's a bad thing but I do like to have my yearbooks of all the fun things I get to do with my family and friends so I am going to go back in time and do some summaries of what I missed writing about!

Ah, October was a crazy one for sure!

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Monte at the Beacon

There is this woman who lives in Georgetown that set up her own music venue in her backyard. It's a fun, intimate music venue. She made it to help out musicians and help promote them and to give people out in Georgetown a place to go for some good music. It's called the Beacon. The owner Carla is friends with Monte so she was able to book Monte Montgomery out at her venue. Mike and I decided to go because it was sort of a unique place to see him and we are of course some of his biggest fans. Totally worth it, we had a great time and he put on a great show of course.


Mike and I having fun at the show.

They had a meet and greet after the show. We got CDs and posters signed and a photo with the band. I felt like such a squeeing teenager, minus the actual squeeing.

Monte played a lot of the favorites, tore it up with his Little Wing rendition (the song that is on the Grammy ballot this year), hit Sara Smile, 1st and repair, etc but he also did a lot of other stuff that just cracked me up. People were yelling out joke requests and he just started doing them. One person yelled out "Manilow!!" and Monte busts out and plays Mandy. Holy cow I was laughing so hard. He totally knew the song and all the words. I didnt record it because I was just enjoying the moment so much and cracking up and didnt think to get out my camera. Well then someone yells out "Freebird!" and "Stairway to heaven!!" and Monte just makes a funny face and says, "Let's just get this over with and do it!" He proceeds to play a hybrid of the two songs where he plays the music for one and sings the words to the other and then switches in the middle and then ends it with Stairway to Freebird. I decided to record that because I thought it was hilarious. Here's "Stairway to Freebird"



Sunday was the Burnet Tri-Hard.  A fun, small, low key triathlon at Inks Lake State Park. 1/2 mile (800m) swim, 18 mile bike, and 3.1 mile (5k). Our group noticed the swim seemed to have been a bit long and the bike a bit short but close enough!

I really enjoyed this tri. It was relaxing and fun. It was a great time having all the trizones team support and camaraderie! It was so awesome to see so many of the trizone women get medals on sunday!
My stats
Place in age group 10
Place overall 61
SWIM: rank 9 time 22:13.2 pace 27:46/K
T1: rank 7 time 2:00.6
BIKE: rank 15 time 1:05:51.7 pace 16.4MPH
T2: rank 9 time 1:29.7
RUN: rank 10 time 32:20.9 pace 10:26/M
Total time: 2:03:56.1





Full set of tri pics here!   http://www.flickr.com/photos/9559457@N03/sets/72157622325571499/
Three kids


Sept 20 I had a triathlon out at Inks Lake State Park. What better excuse did we have to break in the new RV! I had reserved a spot months ago for the night before my tri so that we could just stay at the park and I could get up and race in the morning. We ended up getting a spot that was just a few hundred yards from the transition and race start/finish so it was very convenient for me to get set up and for the family to get up and come cheer me on! It was also right on the water so the girls could swim and I could watch them from the campsite. We had a great time camping at the lake. The kids didnt want to leave on sunday, I literally had to pull Tracy and Loren out of the lake at checkout time after we were all packed up and about to drive away. Good thing they could change in the motorhome!


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New to us RV!

Our trusty old motorhome that we got about 5 years ago finally bit the dust when the insurance company decided to total it due to interior water damage and exterior hail damage. We used that as an excuse to upgrade to a slightly larger and newer motorhome. We were looking for a specific layout with a bedroom in the back with enough beds for all the kids and it's not a very common layout. We wanted to find one used and not spend three times the amount on new one. We found one but it was located in Florida. On Labor Day weekend Mike was heading home from a business trip friday so instead of flying home he flew to meet the owner in Florida. He checked it out and bought it saturday morning and started the long trek home. He got home sunday afternoon with our new RV! It's a 29foot Fleetwood bunkhouse model Class C motorhome. It's much newer and nicer and fits our family a little better than our old one that we bought when we only had two kids.

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