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Buying the Freezer!

Recently we ran a successful fund raiser to sock up pantries and buy a solar powered freezer for our home, The Prancing Pony. I just received the latest quote and after speaking with the salesman on the phone have decided to make the purchase tomorrow. Below you will find the quote and a video to help visualize the freezer.  (Edit: Oops forgot to mention that we are buying the second option, the larger freezer.)

Thank you everyone who participated, we are about to return to the ice age. 



I have been a mom to a plethora of TEENAGERS now for over ten years... Let that sink in a bit. I have managed to raise seven grownups (some only just at age nineteen, and all of whom are in high school still).

With those seven young adults, I also have five adolescents, one pre-teen, one child, and one toddler...

Some days are not easy. Some days, the kids (all of whom are girls except one) are quite emotional. Nine of whom are not of my blood, but born of my heart.

It gets real around here. It really does.

Today was one of those days. Today was a day when one teenager decided she just didn't want to be spoken to. At all.

Another decided she didn't want to speak to me. At all...

It has been a day of making kids do work around the farm as 'discipline' because I have no other idea how to get them to understand that they must respect their parents even if they 'don't feel like it.'

So here I am, in my little lounge with one teenager an arms length away (because there is no escaping them, haha), writing this little blog to let you know that if your world seems crazy and out of control, and if you feel like a lousy parent despite having clocked over nineteen years of parenting under your belt... You are not alone.

You've got this. It is ok to make mistakes. Kids know when you love 'em. They know when you are trying your best.

So there. That is all I have to say.

I am going back to being an adult today. Love you all.


Our Dawn of the Ice Age fundraiser has reached %110! Yea!

Thank you to everyone who gave and shared this fund raiser. You helped us achieve what we could not on our own. It may be an overused phrase but, "many hands make a light load" is a true maxim. We have already purchased some food items for ourselves and one other household. One of my favorite things to do is buy food for hungry people. It is not a way to save them or rescue them from poverty, but it is a way to bring hope (and a bit of nutrition.) To know that someone, or in cases like this someones, cares enough to go out of their way and help you, restores hope that things can get better. Hope is one of the first steps for someone to be able to get out of poverty. With that hope, one can start making a life that is worth living. Without it, well it is then just easier to stay down and out. 

As for purchasing the solar fridge set up, we will wait until the excitement over the election dies down. Hopefully sooner rather than later, and then I, Johnny, will travel to Nairobi and make the purchase. Our plan, currently, is to use the same company that sold us the solar hot water heater (thanks dad,) and have them do the installation. I am hoping to haggle a bit on the price and save some money, which will then be used to buy more food for more hungry people. 

We will keep all of you in the loop with pictures and videos. 

Again thanks to everyone who gave and shared. Plus thanks to Bob who coordinated the whole fund raising effort. 

Election votes in Kenya are being tallied. People are tense, but things seem peaceful here on The Shire.

I read that several have died in other areas of Kenya over one candidate claiming a rigged election. But let us hope that things stay cool...

It is always tense during politically stuff, isn't it everywhere? I try to avoid this stuff...

Thank you for supporting us with encouragement and love. We adore our friends out there.

Our little fundraiser is still going on, too, so you know. We have 91% of our goal! Please help us share it around.

Almost There

I have asked the kids what they would do if they had a freezer. Of course the first response is ICE CREAM!!! Obviously having a freezer will change our lives, but honestly, the mom in me is just looking forward to buying food food food. 

Our campaign is doing well. Twenty two folks have given towards our freezer and food campaign. We have reached 85% of our goal!! 

I thought I would take a moment to explain the details of what this means. We are buying a small chest freezer kit that includes an inverter and solar panels to run it. We will have the ability to make ice and freeze butter, bread, meals, etc... The entire setup will cost between $2,500-$3,000 because that is how it is buying solar stuff, unfortunately. 

We are not getting a refrigerator at this time because it would cost another $3,000. However, we think the freezer will be adequate for now. With that said, the other $3k we are raising is for food. We want to prepare ourselves and other folks for potential 'lock down' in case there is conflict between local tribes after the elections. Already, tensions are high, but we hope for peace.

If you have any questions, we are always here to answer them!! Thank you for your continued love and support.


Dawn of the Ice Age

It has been more than three years since we last had adequate refrigeration. It has been tough going. We felt it was time to bring back the fridge to A Future and a Hope. We figured it was a good time to raise money to bring food to the hungry as well. We routinely feed hungry people, but this fund raiser will enable to spread the love on a bigger scale. 

Check out the campaign by following this link:


If you would like to give via PayPal use afutureandahope@gmail.com and include a note that it is for this campaign. 


Motorcycle ride in soysambu 055I can remember the early years when every sound, smell, season in Kenya seemed so foreign to me. Kenya was different than what I was used to. We would post blog articles about how it made us feel, and the struggle was real. It took years to get to a place where we felt less like foreigners and more like we belonged. We helped the process by making our own traditions and morphed culture. Christmas is hot and a time for swimming for example. 'Summer' is cool, rainy and grey.

Twelve years is a long time to live somewhere. We had committed to living in Kenya for 2 years, but it took us that long to find our place and our way in which we could help. In fact, we are still finding our way. We must adjust to the needs that present themselves and to our knowledge and understanding of the culture we are trying to aid. We are not here to produce 'little Americans,' but instead are trying to help people where there are gaps.

Taking in orphans and being family to them is our story for the last ten years. We are still in the midst of it, and always will be even when they grow up and out over the next five years or so. We still have to get them from high school to tech schools or college, and then off to finding jobs. 

1912072-Chickens-on-Bus-1But that is not what this article is about. I was just realising that I don't think about the 'odd' things of Kenyan life anymore. I don't notice the plethora of cattle crossing the highway or the way the buildings are designed differently than in Texas. I think of Kenya as home. Thousands of chickens strapped to the top of a bus? That is normal now. Fish hanging off of the front of a vehicle? Also normal. No longer do I tote my camera snapping photos of things to try and make sense of my oddness in a country that is not my own. Now, I am one of them. I am integrated. 

My skin though will always be an issue. My heart, my soul, it is here. I know the streets, the people, the language. But I will always look foreign. It was a hard lesson in our third year of living in Kenya when Johnny told me that no matter how hard I try, I will not integrate completely. I nearly cried. I will always look like the 'rich westerner.' Sadly, he is right. My biological kids who are Kenyan by birth and know nothing else are always greeted with, "Welcome to Kenya!" by well-wishing citizens. But it is our norm, and we have gotten somewhat used to it.

However, with that said, making friends is not that easy. There is an aid culture here. Many people from the west come to Kenya for a few weeks/years and bring aid. It is great, except that local people know how to work the system so making friends as someone who 'helps' people is not always straight forward. 

It wasn't until we moved to The Shire that we actually started to find friends, oddly enough! We had no idea our little farm in the middle of nowhere would bring us to a place where there are people who are like us. We don't get out much, but it is nice to have a few folks with whom we can connect.

Zebra painting 097Which brings me to what I was going to share... for the first time ever, one of my children is attending a summer camp! Today Emma is going off for the first time away from home for longer than an overnight. She is going to pony camp. No cell phone, no contact with me for five or six days. For those of you who support us, thank you for your understanding in this matter. I feel this is a colossal thing for Emma. Having a pony has opened doors for her to make friends. She is excited. I am happy for her, but I have separation anxiety, ha! Emma was born in Kenya and finding other people she can be friends with is a must for my social 10 year old. I am so happy for her. A sweet lady is actually loaning her a pony so that we could afford to send Emma. Transporting hers to the venue is expensive at $3 a mile. (We could import a used horse trailer for that price, and we jolly well might in the future!) So send your thoughts this way as Emma Caite is off far away at camp on horseback! 


*all photos belong to Makena Brooks except the chickens on the matatu one. I borrowed it. Thank you whoever took that one!

Care Packages

It has been a long time since we had an article about care packages, and it has been ages since we received one! Granted, they do charge us at the post office a percentage of the amount written on the customs form, but some things we just cannot find in Kenya, and we would love to have them. Here is our wish list! For my friends with horse connections, finding some items are quite difficult. We are extremely happy with used items as long as they are in good condition. I will post the horse items here first because they are difficult to find in Kenya, but if that is not an area of interest for  you, please keep scrolling. We really miss certain things like ranch seasoning packets!

Horse stuff: (I am posting links to products so you can see what we are needing, but if you have used items in good condition, we are happy to use those!)

  • lead ropes (seriously, we have broken most of ours!)
  • 4 hackamores (bitless attachment so our horses can be ridden without bits) see this link or this link
  • 1/4" or 6mm thick parachord 100 ft long for making our own halters preferably turquoise or black, but not really picky!
  • 20 pieces if possible 1" Stainless Steel O rings to make our own bridles
  • 3 crops
  • 3 or so (because they break over time, but one will do!) lunge whips
  • bean bags (very important for our therapy sessions!)
  • plush dice
  • game idea books for horsey games (just search for some on Amazon) We aren't picky, and I don't have any!
  • cones
  • reins
  • breast plates (3 ponies, one horse)
  • Stirrup leathers 
  • stirrups
  • helmets
  • Rope halters
  • saddles obviously not easy to mail so designated funds to buy them here- $400 or so? I found one I really like! 
  • extra money for hay (it is tripled in price at the moment, so we need about $400 for 100 bales)
  • hay nets
  • speakers and ipod for music for therapy. Our speakers are not loud enough.


  • Nyquil
  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen
  • Children's meds ages 1 year and up
  • vitamin C chewables
  • pepto
  • sore throat meds
  • allergy meds
  • bug bite meds
  • antibacterial cream


  • Mr. Clean erasers
  • hand towels
  • wash cloths
  • silicone Popsicle molds
  • LED solar twinkle lights (all sorts, these are fun!)
  • flashlights
  • hair bows for baby Starlette
  • hair brushes (remember, we live in a country where we are the minority so finding good hair brushes is difficult)


  • Ranch
  • TexJoy
  • butt rub
  • seasoned sunflower seeds
  • pistacios
  • pecans
  • almonds
  • marshmallows (both large and small)
  • hersheys
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter chips
  • m&m's
  • Reese's cups

school supplies

  • Pens
  • crayons
  • coloring books
  • erasers
  • pencils
  • paint brushes
  • watercolor paper
  • glue
  • notebooks

Pet Supplies

  • Dog sweaters for up on this cold mountain Size Great Dane
  • Dog leashes
  • Chew toys
  • Flea control
  • Dog bed


Blustery day!

Blustery dayIt is an extremely blustery day! On The Shire we have a 'windy' season. Lately the gales are so strong, they blow off the neighbor's roof on occasion.

We are frantically hoping for rain. I remember a time in my life when talking about the weather was 'small talk,' but now that my entire life revolves around the weather, it has become THE talk. Greeting friends in Kenya, we almost always ask, "Have you gotten any rain?"

The rains were misleading, starting on time, then suddenly stopping. Everyone planted, including us, with the assumption that the rains would do their normal thing this season.

Sadly, we are using every drop we harvested from those initial rains to water our garden. We have maybe one week left of water, if that.

This is not just small talk, this is us realising how important WATER is. This is us being mindful of how much we use to wash our hands, shower our bodies, pour on our plants, and use for drinking and giving to the animals. This is us collecting grey water in our banana circle to grow things.


Water is life.

Food Stock Up

Ok, enough 'horse' talk. It is not ALL we do at A Future and a Hope. We still are parents to our beautiful kids we birthed through our hearts and our hips.

School fees are paid for this middle term, and that is fantastic! What a huge relief.

We also are trying to get extra funds to stock up on food for our house, the girls' house, and several other homes as well because we have an upcoming election in August.

Our experience in 2007/8 was ca-razy. We had 35 refugees in our home and town was on a lock-down with it being somewhat of a 'war zone.' Getting food was a risk of one's life, so we hope to be a bit more prepared this go 'round just in case things go south.

We are hoping everything is peaceful through the election process. Past experience has made us a bit concerned, and there is tension, but we want to encourage peace among the various tribes of people. Love one another, k? Seriously. We are all just humans trying our best to do what we think is best so let's get along, alright?

Lack of rain this rainy season hasn't helped people's moods, and sky-rocketing food prices aren't helping either. It is worrisome.

Personally, we'd like to stock up on food for our animals and people, and some families in need, but we don't have a freezer for ourselves, so... that might be part of the need as well?? I don't know. I always feel guilty when we 'purchase' big items. We really try to be efficient financially by living with our minimum needs, but I do think that a freezer solar system would save money in the long run by giving us the ability to store things that go bad quickly, and therefore preventing so many long trips to town during the week.

Anyway, this is just a bit of info of what is going through our heads at the moment.

We are extremely grateful to those of you who love our little family and continually encourage us. You are a huge part of us buried deep in our souls. Love to you all my sweet friends.