Preparing Part I

Happy Sunday, friends!

I hope you had a sun-filled, warm-hearted weekend! Ours was filled with finishing Orange is the New Black on Netflix (which totally spills smoke over your morals and values), a swift 10 mile training run, Taco Soup, chowing down candy while seeing the movie Divergent, and some baking.

Our move to Tanzania is about two months away. Because there is no Gap, Banana Republic, or Target in Tanzania, we have had to make a list of our wants, and needs, to decipher what not only our budget can handle, but what we can’t live without.

Here is exactly how we began to prepare:

1. Make a list. Don’t leave anything out, even if it is unreasonable. You never know if something as comforting as Essie fingernail polish can make being homesick go away.

2. Prioritize. Carry-on luggage, razor cartridges, skirts for me, and new running shorts for Patrick were at the top of our list.

3. Budget. I had a skirt envelope, we asked a friend if we could use his discount for our Osprey carry-ons, and instead of going to Sam’s to buy our normal Gillette razor cartridges in bulk, we looked for something more reasonably priced.

4. Purchase and mark off. As we marked off the items we bought, we have adjusted our budget to see if anymore of our needs could be purchased as well. An additional item we may consider buying are space bags to help take as much as possible without the extra baggage.

5. We also took inventory of the items we already have and discussed what we would take. Several kitchen items, like our French Press, are on that list.

Click the pictures to read the descriptions. ShaveMOB razors have been my favorite purchase so far! As long as I get to shave in warm water, life will be splendid!

You may ask- Okay, you’re going to a developing country and you are worried about your clothes and chocolate? Wow, shallow. Well, there are going to many comforts we are giving up such as always having water and electricity and hugs from our friends and family. Some items can make you feel a tad more at home.

Items that we already have are:

  • French Press
  • Nalgene Bottles
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle Opener/ Wine Cork (trust me, you always need these and never can find them)
  • Luggage
  • Rain jackets
  • Hammock
  • Picture Frames + Pictures
  • Converters (will buy more when we get there, if needed)

What things do you always like on your adventures? I am thinking of grabbing some small Bath & Body candles, especially a winter one!

Feel free to share any tips! I don’t want to regret not packing something.

Be prepared. -Scout Motto

xoxo

My Plea & Pet Peeve

The @EndTheWord or The R-Word Campaign is a movement encouraging society to truly think about the use of the word “retarded”.

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Today, March 5th, people all over the world are fighting, begging, and pleading for people to stop incorporating the word “retarded” in their slang vocabulary when describing a silly action, a stupid move, or something they don’t agree with.

Kelle Hampton over at Enjoying the Small Things explained it best on her Instagram attached to a picture of her baby girl who has Down Syndrome.

“Joining thousands of others today on Spread the Word to End the Word day. The low down on the word “retarded”: it comes from the Latin word that means “to make slow” In music, a variation of the word refers to beautiful “slowing down” of pace at the end of a composition. And, if you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, you’ll actually recall who won at the end. That said, the word retarded is commonly used today as slang in reference to people making stupid choices. “I didn’t mean it to make fun” is usually the case, but there is a societal link to cognitively delayed individuals that makes the careless use of the word sting. Catch yourself next time you hear it. Kindly inform your friends and your kids. Rosa’s Law removed the term from federal health, education and labor policies. It’s our responsibility to remove it from our everyday language.”

The well acclaimed magazine Parents wrote an article last year about 5 Things People Don’t Get About the Word Retarded. Please read it for more insight and encouragement to stop using the r-word.

“It’s being used as a synonym for stupid. And loved ones of people with disabilities do not want them associated with the word ‘stupid.”

And to avoid receiving a letter like this one from me, a parent, or a person with a disability, think daily about your language. 

“I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.”

I have let too many people slip this word by me. Now, as an active educator, I have to take a stand. I not only have to hold myself accountable, but others around me. 

I hope you take a pledge today to @EndTheWord.

I am taking the pledge to @EndTheWord for my students, who work hard daily at school, give me the best hugs, and will become a positive, active person in their community.

Did you take the pledge? Comment below, if so! 

xoxo

Becoming a Big Girl

Becoming a Big Girl or living the Big Girl, Real World Life have been used an obscene amount lately in my vocabulary.

I began my first full-time job this week. I learned more about insurance than I care to know. All I was worried about was how much are brand, non-preferred prescriptions aka my birth control. I also was informed about $20 a paycheck will be removed to pay Union dues. Okay, thanks. Lastly, it really is true, you must take the initiative in life to actually grasp expectations. There is no more hand holding.

I love my job. I have now worked 1.5 days and know it is where my heart and soul belong. My Nalgene has had others’ lips on it, boogers are on my clothes, and I re-direct behavior quite a bit. Oh, and my ears were ringing on my drive home today.  However, I got big hugs on my first day, they sometimes listen to me, and we are all learning.

I am anxious to dig into curriculum and social skills. I am anxious to learn more about the students so I can meet their needs. I am anxious to learn, be pulled, stretched, and challenged.

I decided today I will eat in the teacher’s lounge. I also decided today I will not partake in degrading students while I am in the lounge.

Our classroom has this anthem posted and it has become part of my teaching philosophy.

The Teacher – An Instrument of Power
by Haim Ginott

I have come to a frightening conclusion.
I am the decisive element in the classroom.

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

As a teacher I possess tremendous power
to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture
or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response
that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated,
and a child humanized or de-humanized
.

This gave me chills. I have a choice. I must choice to inspire and uplift my students.

Other news: We are officially leaving for Tanzania June 4th from Tulsa, OK! My last day of work is May 30th. Patrick will spend the month of May completing some writings and research on-campus, as well as packing and moving our crap to a storage unit. May 31st, we will have our clothes and pup and head back to the 918 for a few days.

Because of assuming (yes, thanks to Driver’s Ed, I know what assuming means), we are no longer able to make our way to OK for Spring Break. Pat’s SB is in March and mine is mid-April. Insert potty words here. We are bummed and upset, but then again welcome to the real world! So save your hugs for us in June!

What is one thing you have learned by becoming a big girl, or boy? Or what do you hope to learn?

xoxo

Becoming Humble

I graduated in December with not just my bachelor’s, but my master’s as well. I traveled to England to student teach at a United State Department of Defense School. I worked hard as a graduate assistant. I challenged myself. I deserve more. Blah. Blah. Blah.

All these little humongous, foggy messages filled my brain the month of January as I applied for jobs, received a job, and was told I can’t begin until mid-February due to waiting for Board approval. Umm, hello, but I haven’t received a paycheck since June 2013 and needs some cash ASAP. Umm, hello, I’m ready to start now. Umm, hello, can’t you just fix this? I need to start now.

Despite the frustrations, there are always lessons to be learned. My lesson? Humble yourself. Unfortunately, I did not learn this lesson until my last week of being a nanny when I read this:

“You don’t need permission or position to be great. God created you to do great things.” – Christine Caine 

I just paused after reading this.

Permission. I don’t have to let others tell me which professions and people get the title great or worthy. I don’t need someone else explaining to me just because I watch one babe, right now, I will never rise to be something. I don’t need permission to push pass the fact that I am not quite doing what I crave, yet I can still give it my all and be great. I can still help this child learn, grow, move, question, and be loved. I can be great, if I believe I am.

As a nanny I had absolutely no position. I was making $5 per hour. Yes, you read that correctly. Granted, I got a two-hour paid break everyday, so maybe I was making about $6.40 an hour, but still. It stings a little. I wasn’t supervising eight resident advisors and ten desk clerks, speaking with parents, administration, etc. (even then I didn’t have much position, but an amount I was comfortable with).

Although I did not have position or permission while making $5, I still did it. I had no pride in the beginning. I wasn’t happy about my job and wages. My first week I cried during my commute. However, when this chick began to voluntarily hug and give me besos, when she smiles and told me gracias as I walked out the door, when she started to stomp both feet, instead of just her right, I became humble.

Your paycheck doesn’t define you. You opting to move past your pride and be great at whatever comes your way, defines you.

One other thing to note. Finances. Although I made a mere $800 in four weeks. Ouch, stings again. It is $800 more than we would have had if I would have just chilled at home with Zoi. Humble yourself. If you are in financial pain, do not let your pride get in the way of paying your bills. $5 an hour is better than $0 an hour. Oh, and I had  nice little bill of $400 from the dentist last week, thankfully I made a tad bit of money to pay for the lovely charge. We are strict followers of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system. Despite having student loans, we have zero debt. We are able to accomplish many things because we cook dinner at home most nights, we pack our lunch, we get about one new article of clothing once a month, and I get in trouble if I forget to turn off the staircase lights. We are intentional.

“You don’t need permission or position to be great. God created you to do great things.” – Christine Caine 

Please don’t let pride soak in, like it did in me. Become great, or find a job you can become great at, just as God created you to do. Don’t let your college degree, status, or paycheck define you.

Humble yourself.

xoxo

January’s Milestones

January’s Milestones Failures, Pick-Me-Ups, and Forgiving Moments

January flew by awfully quickly. January might have been was my toughest month I’ve had in a long time. With that being said, it was probably Patrick’s as well. Change and transition are a tad more difficult than I had imagined.

Please note, adventure doesn’t mean you have it all together and life is easy-peasy. Actually it’s kind of like raging cramps, an ice storm, “go-to-hell” looks, and tears.

However, in my first full month in Columbus, with my husband, there have been milestones, fun times, and new… adventures.

1. We have official word now that we will be heading out to Tanzania around the first of June. We are attempting to play our flight miles just right so we can afford to fly back for Christmas!

2. After applying to 13+ jobs, I can now successfully write a cover letter and feel confident about it. Now, I am in the process of applying for three different teaching jobs in Morogoro. Thanks to my friend, Sasha, for all her proof-reading and suggestions!

3. We have mastered driving in the snow. After having six inches of snow and still have school, it becomes normal.

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4. This chocolate is the most delicious combination you’ll ever try. I feel sorry for those who do not have a World Market close by to purchase this goodness. If I find it somewhere else, I’ll be sure to let you know! We also found pickles in a jar with the least amount of ingredients at WM. WIN! We go through a large jar a week!

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5. We made tofu for the first time at home. Splashed with soy sauce and mixed with spices, corn, carrots, and avocado- it tastes like meat to me. If you want to adventure out and try tofu Pioneer Woman’s Tofu Lettuce Wraps is the recipe to try!

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6. Patrick signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon and I signed up for the Half in Cincinnati, OH this May! We will be hoping to reach our time goals. I am looking forward to running with my BFF, Kristen! We are hoping to get a marathon, or two, in while in Tanzania. Running around Mount Kilimanjaro and in Nairobi, Kenya are on our list.

7. I get to shop at the best grocery market, Lucky’s. It is small, but full. They have the most delicious local bread and sweet treats. Their prices are more reasonable than Whole Pay-Check and Sprout’s. I haven’t been to a Wal-Mart in a long time, and love it.

8. We celebrated my twenty-fifth! Although our plans to go skiing got rained out, it was a perfect mixture of exploration and being still at home. Sometimes just hanging out is the best way to celebrate. We ate at a local restaurant called Cafe Bella. They only use local food. You have to make reservations and there is no menu. When you call they ask you your food preferences such as veg or vegan, etc. You show up and magically, your food appears! You bring your own wine and drinks as well. We also drank three-buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s, consumed local beer, and saw a couple of movie’s.

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9. We try harder to stay connected. When you are miles away from home, it just feels good to talk to family or your friends. I honestly talk to them more now than I did when we lived an hour and a half away. The conversations mean more.

10. I learned I need to be more patient and bigger eyes. I guess I don’t deal with change very well. Even this morning I was acting like a pissy 14 year-old who didn’t get her way. In order to have these adventures we crave, I need to be more accepting of the things I can’t fix and move along for the ride. Our budget isn’t always going to be dead-on and our sheets may go one week longer than they should before getting washed, but we are going places. I’m good with that.

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What adventures are you planning? Any suggestions on facing them head on?

Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. -Helen Keller

I would love the suggestions!

xoxo

the complexion of your pigment

As I watched Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ performance at the Grammy’s on Sunday evening, a different line that you would expect, in their song Same Love, hit me.

the complexion of your pigment

Yes, I’ve heard Same Love a handful of times, but hearing this line made me stop and think. Pigment has always been an uncomfortable word to me.

As many of you know, I am partial albino, meaning I only have pigment in different parts of my skin. The areas where I am missing pigment, my skin is as white as snow, or powdered donuts (when I’m ashy), or clean fresh socks. You get the point.

So why has pigment made me feel uncomfortable? I was always different, people continuously stared; I made others feel uncomfortable because the spots on my legs and stomach, and my white hair was new to them.

My biggest fear going different places and trying new things is not because these adventures are thrilling and the unknown is unexpected. My biggest fear is explaining to people why my hair is white, what partial albino is, and that I don’t have a contagious disease. The conversations, the stares, the comments.

However, just like Macklemore is singing about hope for marriage equality and equal rights, I have experienced the hope in the world a great deal lately. There is hope.

Here is why:

1. Although questions sting and make me feel uncomfortable, it is a moment of education and opportunity. I have a chance to make them feel more comfortable with people who look, or act, different. I have an opportunity to answer a question, so in the future they will know the answer. Kids are the best because they have a genuine curiosity. They are asking because they want to know why they don’t have it. Please understand, it  hurts a lot less when people ask versus pointing, staring, and whispering about something unusual. People are asking. It’s acceptable to ask.

2. People are becoming more accepting and not asking. Huh? Kali, you just said to ask and now you are saying people aren’t asking. Let me explain. I was nervous about traveling to Europe because I would be explaining myself to administration, cultures, and students why I had spotted skin. Guess what? Not one person asked me. Moving to Columbus made me timid in meeting new people. Guess what? I have been the only person to bring it up. Children are being raised in homes where differences are what make you, you and there is no need to ask because that’s just who they are.

I had seven job interviews at the beginning of January. Telling future employers why my hair is white is typically the numero uno item on my checklist I want to scratch off because I don’t want them to think I’m a crazy, wild woman dying my hair all sorts of shades. Well, every time I brought it up the responses were accepting.

How awful of me to assume people think person A with dyed hair can’t be a professional educator who changes students’ lives. How sad of me to think I need to justify my appearance.

The world is changing and unfortunately I wasn’t changing with it. I was still ashamed. But, our world has hope and I am discovering its’ beauty.

I encourage you to reach out to others more. Whether their pigment is different, they are missing an arm, or they have different views, find out why if you need to, or just simply accept who they are. Take an opportunity to learn, or teach.

A few pieces of advice when reaching out:

1. Don’t assume. Two questions I get daily 1. Do you know who Rogue is? Did you get in a fire? Yes and no. When you assume and ask a yes or no question, you are missing out. I don’t want to be associated with X Men and every time I think about being burned in a fire, I cringe. Be open and ask an open-ended question Do you mind if I ask why______? This makes me feel as if you are asking because you actually want to know more about me.

2. Allow questions. Although I’m not a mom, I have one piece of mom advice. Let your kid’s ask  questions. Don’t palm their mouth in the grocery aisle or respond “that’s rude” if they blurt it out. They are simply verbalizing what they know and see. They truly can’t develop unless they get educated answers. The more aware they are, the more accepting they will be.

3. Don’t sympathize, empathize. First, make sure you know the difference between the two words. You don’t need to feel sorry for someone who looks unalike or has a disability. I’m happy with who I am. Yes, I have struggled, but haven’t you? Offering sympathy makes me feel like a lesser person. Emphasizing makes me I believe I can trust you because you have pushed through tough times as well.

Every time you get outraged with our government, your students, your family, etc, find the hope.

There is hope.

A friend shared this story with me, another example of hope in our world.

xoxo

Momentum

You thought we were having a Baby Bell, didn’t ya? Sorry about that.

Although, a baby could ( teeny chance) happen, because we will be taking malaria medicine for about 14 months, which counteracts my birth control… don’t get your hopes up though, there are other forms, ya know.

So what do 14 months, malaria medicine, and momentum all have in common?

My husband is rockstar a freaking, rockstar prodigy.

We were porting from our cruise several Sundays ago and our phones were all chiming with updates as we turned them on. We were getting breakfast and all of a sudden Patrick just stops. He is looking at his phone, holding up the line behind him (which if you know Patrick, e-mail and social media never distract him). Finally, he looks up with the biggest smile and whispers “I got it”. “You got what?” as I am trying to push him along.

My freaking, rockstar husband received the U.S. Borlaug Fellowship in Global Food Security.

 The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand the pool of U.S. food security professionals who have the scientific base needed to effectively study and manage the global landscapes in support of sustainable food systems.

After countless drafts, reference letters, and patiently waiting for four months, receiving this news was a breath of fresh air.

What does this mean for us? Well instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions this January, we are leaping forward and making plans.

This means we will be moving to Morogoro, Tanzania for approximately 14 months this summer!

The Uluguru Mountains, where Patirck's research will be

The Uluguru Mountains, where Patrick’s research will be.

Patrick received enough money to implement a new project, based on his research, in Morogoro. As many of you know, Patrick’s PhD requires him to be there every summer. He will still be continuing to do so, before and after, his Borlaug Fellow research.

In 1970 Norman E. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry world. Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, perhaps Dr. Borlaug’s greatest achievement has been his unending struggle to integrate the various streams of agricultural research into viable technologies and to convince political leaders to bring these advances to fruition.

His budget was approved and now we are ready to find a home, buy a car, and get plane tickets, all with Morogoro in mind.

This is an incredible opportunity for Patrick professionally. After traveling Europe for three months this past fall, my travel bug is thrilled as well! We made friends and became beyond comfortable last summer, so we are looking forward to our next adventure. We have been presented many wonderful experiences and keeping the momentum going is a part of our plan.

We finished our night eating at the Oasis Hotel and played the card game Estimate.

Good times to be had.

Ohio to Tanzania

Ohio to Tanzania

As the New Year moves on and we learn more, we will definitely share. We appreciate the love, support, and prayers.

xoxo

The Bell’s