I can't wait for Christmas this year with Mace. She's super into dinosaurs right now and currently owns just one pair of shoes that fit her - so they'll be a high concentration of those items.

A lot of these other gifts are selfish; The Hungry Hungry Hippos game, The Skip-It, and Pippi Longstocking are all things I liked when I was little. So much for not pushing my own agenda onto my child.

Anyone have any other good ideas? Specifically for dinosaurs? Help me out if so! 

Happy Early Thanksgiving. I'm thankful to be spending this evening catching up on Homeland! I'm pretty sure this next episode is the one where Quinn is going to jump out of the television and do me. Too aggressive? I'm gonna stand by the statement.

Happy early Turkey Day!




The best part of my trip was, hands down, being driven around Kruger National Park in hopes of spotting "the big five"; lions, leopards, elephants, rhino, and buffalo. More often than not, the weather was cold and rainy but the minute we spotted something, we became numb to the conditions, because we fucking spotted something and it was so so exciting! (It didn't help that I packed mostly sleeveless shirts because, ya know, I thought it would be HOT in AFRICA....silly me.) 

One of the things that surprised me, though it makes sense if you think about it, is how many animals we saw that were injured. For example, not sure if you can tell by the pic, but this poor guy was limping. I also saw a giraffe with a knee that had been chewed on.  I saw an impala who was bleeding from the eye. This wasn't the zoo. These guys were fighting one another to stay alive and had gaping wounds to prove it. 

Get in the f@cking van Raymond!!! 
(Our crazy tour guide.)

If you know me in IRL, you likely know my brain is constantly on overdrive and I run on a hybrid of coffee and anxiety. This particular day, when this particular pic was taken, I was the most serene and relaxed I can remember being in years.

Breakfast du Jour - packed by the lodge we were staying at. 
Cheese, lettuce, &mayo sandwich, (#cultureshock), with a hard boiled egg and peach.

'Lil Suzy, a 20 something from London, snappin' a giraffe. It was just her and I that had booked our specific Intrepid trip - but the lodge we stayed at hosted guests from various tour groups. So while it was just Suzy and I during the day, it was fun to return to the lodge at night to see what newcomers had checked in and would be joining us for dinner and drinks that evening.

My very last day, we went on a "bush walk" around the lodge property as opposed to Kruger Park. As the name suggests, we were walking as opposed to cruising in a open van. While zebras, giraffes, elephants, etc. are peaceful and won't bother humans unless provoked, there were FUCKING LEOPARDS around that aren't as chill and I was convinced that I'd get eaten accordingly.


For those of you who care, I'll do one more post about the lodge I stayed at later this week with pics of my impromptu birthday celebration! #shots But, the holidays are upon us kids! Ship shape!  Tomorrow I'll start a string of Greetings from Texas holiday gift guides, starting with Mace's wish list so see you then! Bring your wallet!

P.S. Go check out Julie's blog. She's hosting a super cool yoga event for one of my Mad Meg client's at Revolution Studio in two weeks. You must come!



Greetings from Jo-Burg!

Remember that one time I had a mid-life crisis and booked a ticket to Africa? 

I've been back for 48 hours and part of it seems like it was just a vivid dream. Now that I'm unpacked, cuddling with Mace, and burning a Christmas candle - it feels distant and secondary to how good it is to be home.

The other part of me wants to go back asap.  Not to Jo-burg (definitely not to Jo-burg, we'll chat) but to the road and who I am (and who we all are) when we travel; humble, brave, a perpetual student. Traveling allows you to be inspired, excited, and return with pen pals from around the world. Hi Bror!

But how bout I get on with it and show you some pics?

My favorite thing I did in Johannesburg was go to the weekly Neighborhood Market - a tip I picked up from a NY Times JoBurg travel guide and it didn't disappoint. 

I was TERRIFIED to go though because, well, Jo-burg was scary and shady as f@ck.
Upon leaving Houston I wasn't scared. I'm well traveled, my brother had given me a low down on the South African economy (if you know him, you'll understand this), and I'm a former city girl, how bad could it be?  Immediately upon boarding the plane and telling my two seat mates (both native "African Americans") that I was rolling solo, however, their nervousness for me was palpable. 

I will say once I arrived at the market, and the other handful of destinations I visited, it was fine and I could breathe deeply. But from what I saw in the backseat of the car that I'd hired through the hotel, I was scared. Before I'd leave for the day I'd take my case off my iphone. My money out of my wallet. I'd prepare to be mugged and only brought what was truly essential - yet ample enough for my prospective mugger (that son of a bitch) to have something to "take" and not search me for.  

It wasn't just me. For a quick while I was with a trio of strong, Aussie, sailor "mates" in their 20's and their precaution was equally strong. (Hi Matt, Matthew, and Nick!)

The market though was FANTASTIC. The first floor had different types of food from around the world while the second level had a bar and a handful of artisan booths. 


This seems weird.

Even weirder.

I have no idea who this guy is but he seems awesome. 

I was assigned a white ticket.

Apartheid Museum entrance. 

I was in Jo-burg for three days so I'm not about to pretend like I'm an authority on race relations there. I'll just say it I felt uneasy about it and during  "the bush" part of my trip I learned firsthand (well secondhand I guess) about the inequality of pay between whites and blacks doing the exact. same. job. We may have a gender pay gap but its way less overt then what's happening in South Africa.

Let's end on a high note though - The Salvation Cafe. The food and ambiance there, and the entire 44 Square warehouse block in general, was worth the 16 hour flight.

Tomorrow I'll post my safari pics because that's the good stuff. 
Back to the grind for me. =(



Announcing a Blogger Safari - May 2016

For the last three months I've had the pleasure of calling Mefi Alapat of Journey to Africa a Mad Meg client. From our very first meeting, we became obsessed with each other (or was that just me?) and she's been a joy to work with ever since. Our first order of business was to, ta-da, build her a brand new website and now we're working on some PR initiatives.

Journey to Africa's new site, designed & built by yours truly

So without further ado, it is my pleasure to announce a 10 Day Blogger Safari departing end  of May - beginning of June 2016.  

"WTF is a blogger safari?" you ask. 

While all of Mefi's safari packages are custom created by her, a native Tanzanian, (is it bad that I'm not a newly wed but still want to go on the honeymoon safari? And I got to take Mace on the family safari. ) the blogger safari was planned with bloggers in mind. This means we'll have a full-time photographer joining us so bloggers can truly live in the moment and not worry about documenting the trip yet still come home with great shots. 

It means that we're offering tiered pricing for the trip. So the more readership and social media following your blog has, the less it will cost you.

It means that we'll be spending time at the Maasi tribe "fashion house" learning how these women are being empowered through their amazing jewelry designs.

Left: The Maasi Tribe    
Right: Mefi, back home in the states, but wearing her necklace made by the tribe

Lastly, it means we're offering help and guidance to any blogger interested in offsetting some of the cost of the trip through third party sponsorships.  

Not a blogger but still want to go? That's cool. Are you a blogger that doesn't live in Houston but still wants to go? That's cool too. You don't have to be a blogger nor reside in Houston to enjoy the trip. We're simply taking the first 12 girls who sign up. Mefi's trips are led by her and her friends and she finds that the more intimate the group, the better experience she can offer.

One of the places we'll be staying at. NBD.

So what do you do if you're interested and want to learn more about the blogger safari? You can check out the itinerary here but you'll definitely want to attend the informational meeting Wednesday, December 2nd from 6:30-7:30pm. Mefi will present the trip over Tanzanian tea and treats and answer any questions that you will surely have. RSVP to her by emailing her at mefi(at)journeytoafrica(dot)com. 

tuta onana baadaye! - (which means see ya later in Swahili.)

(But in the meantime, start following Journey to Africa on the gram for blogger safari updates.)



Scorpio Birthday Wish List

I'm getting old! It's not cute! I consider myself a late bloomer and I love the confidence, wisdom, and sense of self that comes along with aging but MAN do I need an IPL photofacial! Like, stat.

I'm celebrating the big day by taking an abbreviated "eat, pray, love" trip to South Africa where I'll explore Johannesburg and then go on a 4 day safari. If anyone has been to Johannesburg, please give me some tips as my knowledge about the city begins and ends with the leg-less Olympian who killed his model girlfriend. I did try watching Mandela last night on Netflix but it was pretty slow. I'd recommend it only to those of you looking for an organic alternative to ambien.

Happy birthday my fellow Scorps!  

*You an purchase the We're all Connected Tee here.



Transgender Children in the Classroom; An interview with my friend Jill Jacobson

I don't know about you guys but the Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner forever changed my life. That's really dramatic. It didn't change my life necessarily but it did open my heart to the transgender community. In my opinion - Caitlin Jenner is today's version of Rosa Parks. (Is that dramatic too? I'm not sure.) The transgender community is our generations' civil rights movement that I hope y'all are as passionate as progressing as I am. While I don't have a particular horse in the race, meaning I don't have a loved one or family member thats transgender, my vested interest is leaving the world a better place than I found it - an interest I'm sure we all share. #kumbaya

Today on Greetings from Texas, I'm proud and honored to interview 3rd grade teacher, Jill Jacobsen, who currently has a transgender student in her classroom. Jill was my sorority sister at Augustana College and remains a great friend to this day. Normally in a situation like this I'd go on to tell you about all the trouble Jill and I have got in over the years with photo evidence to supplement but because Mrs. Jacobsen, as her students call her, is now the inspirational, well respected educator that she is today I will refrain from doing so, tell you that we hung out in the library on Saturday evenings, and pass the figurative mic to her.

photo credit

Name: Jill Jacobsen
Grade you teach: 3rd
Amount of years you’ve been teaching: 12

You’ve had hundreds of students at this point in your teaching career. How is having a transgender student different - or is it different? What needs do they have that your other students don’t?  
All students have the same need to feel accepted and cared about. All students want to be liked by their teacher and peers, especially transgender students. Every educator that I talk to is starting to see transgender students come through the school system now. It is becoming increasingly common, probably more common than people would think. Since this is the first year that I have had a transgender student, I received some training before the school year started to be sure that I was ready to answer parent and student questions and to provide me with resources to create a safe learning environment and ensure that all students see themselves reflected in my lessons. It is important for teachers to have a gender inclusive curriculum whether or not there is a transgender student in their class. I embed diverse literacy in my lessons, and I teach my students that it is important to be unique.  I talk about how lucky we are to live in an ever-changing world where everyone is different. We not only accept each other’s differences, but we embrace and celebrate them. I am so proud of all of my students. It gives me hope for the future to work with them each day.

How do your students respond to their transgender peers? Are they open and accepting? Do they fully understand? Are there mean kids? What about the teaching staff and administration?
My heart swells with pride and hope when I think about how accepting the other students have been and how overwhelmingly positive the reaction of the entire school community has been. Since I teach in a small community, the transition of a transgender student is quite apparent. As I said, I have been trained on how to answer student and parent questions. I was prepared to explain to third graders that some people may be born one gender, but their brain is that of the opposite gender and we must respect that and call the student by the pronouns and name they feel most comfortable with. I was prepared to tell concerned parents that it is every person’s right to use the restroom of the gender that they identify with, and if their child is uncomfortable with that, their child is welcome to use another restroom in the building. However, I haven’t had a single question about it. Not a single comment has been brought to my attention. Kids are surprisingly accepting of others. It doesn’t matter to them. I’m not saying that the road ahead for these students will always be easy. They will most likely have to deal with some type of bullying, but so far, the most discussion I have heard on the topic was an innocent question such as, “Are you a boy or a girl?” The answer was clear and unwavering, so the discussion stopped there.  When a child can be confident about who they are, others are more accepting.  

Obviously Caitlin Jenner has brought a tremendous amount of awareness to the transgender community. Because she’s a founding member of Kardashian culture, however, people tend to roll their eyes. I’m interested in your perspective given your vantage point.

I don’t know enough about Caitlyn Jenner to know if she is a good role model, but at least it was a jump start to giving the transgender community more exposure.  She is bringing attention to this really important issue and sending the message that it is ok to be yourself, which I think is positive.  Caitlyn is also an example of how when you are not true to yourself, it can lead to a life of 
unhappiness, but it’s never too late to change paths.
Cailtlin Jenner and her daughter Kylie Jenner

Anything else you want us to know about transgender children?
One thing that is not widely understood is that gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Children do not have a sexual orientation until puberty, but they are able to understand their gender orientation from as young as a toddler.  It is also important to understand that gender orientation is not black and white. It is more of a spectrum, and children can be somewhere in the middle. Transgender children may grow up to be gay or straight, so you can’t assume that being transgender is related to being gay. Finally, it is important to realize that these children are born this way. No one chooses this path in life, and it is a difficult one at times. Anxiety, depression, and suicide rates are higher in transgender people, and that’s why it is so important to provide these kids with resources, and ensure that they know it’s ok to be themselves, and it is perfectly normal to feel this way.  When people validate their feelings, and really see them for who they are, you can see these children light up.

Perhaps there is a parent reading this that thinks they have a transgender child or is dealing with issues like these at home. What would you say to that parent?
I would encourage them to educate themselves. Even if you don’t think you have a transgender child, it would be important to educate yourself on the topic, because most likely your life will cross paths with someone that is transgender at some point. It is so important as parents to model love and acceptance of others. I would also say that it is important not to dismiss it as a phase, which is what many parents tend to do. Of course, what your child is going through could be a phase, and it is normal for children to explore different types of toys, clothing, TV shows, and role playing. However, if this has been going on for years, it could be damaging for a parent to brush it off. The child may feel as if they aren’t being heard and seen for who they are or that their feelings are not valid. Parents often try to guide their children towards the easy path in life, but for a transgender child that is like trying to guide them to be someone that they’re not, and it makes them feel awful inside, like their skin is crawling. Know that the younger the child is, the easier the transition is to go through, but you shouldn’t work this out on your own. Reach out to a professional in the area and explore some of the resources below.

George by Alex Gino is a fictional book in children’s literature geared towards middle school students (but I loved it myself) in which the main character is a transgender student.

Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt is the true story of identical twin boys at birth, one of which transitions to a girl.  Her parents also won the lawsuit that set the precedent that transgender children do not have to use a separate washroom in schools.  

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel is a picture book geared toward younger students that explains the true story of Jazz, a transgender child, in an easy to understand way.  Jazz also has her own TV show, and has become a spokesperson and role-model for transkids.

When Leonard Lost His Spots by Monique Costa and My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis are two other excellent pictures books on the topic.





Don't have a boyfriend? Don't bother. Just get a boyfriend blazer. They're way better anyway. For starters, you can have TONS of boyfriend blazers and instead of being labeled a "hoe" or my personal favorite derogatory put-down, a "SLORE" - you'll just be known as "stylish".  

Boyfriend Blazers also excel at the cliche things boyfriends typically struggle with.They love talking about where your relationship is going for example.  Me and this boyfriend are getting super serious. We say "i love you" I am taking him to Julie's book party on Tuesday. 

He does have a TINY TINY TINY......bit of stretch to him. 
So he hugs you but is still professional enough to wear to the office.

I was out with my boyfriend yesterday (as pictured above) and he let me go on and on about all the things I wanted. Instead of fantasy football or the new Kung Fury movie (dumb) we discussed how Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are now a couple?? (Talk about a show-mance - it will never last.)

And when I told my b-friend blazer, "three of my friends just found out were preggo" he didn't run the othe way but rather engaged fully. "Will they be birthing vaginally or via c-section?" he asked. Love him! But don't hate the player - hate the game as I've also been scoping out this blue boyfriend from Banana.  It's a little rich for my blood but as my dad says, "it's just as easy to love a rich man, as it is a poor.

Boyfriend blazers. Get yourself one. Or two. Or if you think you can handle it - three.