Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tuesday Talk: ‘Are you gonna have a toilet there?’…and other musings on Africa from the minds of children

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Last week I had the exciting and heartbreaking job of telling all 200+ of my students that I am not coming back next year, that I am moving to Africa to work with the Peace Corps. Some said they felt like crying (I said ‘me too’), some looked a little mad, and others wrapped around me in group hugs. Through all of this I, of course, received some interesting and thoughtful questions, comments, and connections. I always love getting glimpses into how a kids’ mind works…and I thought you might too! Without further ado, I present: child’s musings on Africa!

Connections:

“My mom did Peace Corps in Namibia. When kids were late for school they had to stand outside with a brick on their head.”

“My cousin lives in Africa. She brought me a beaded purse.”

“When I went to Africa, I went there to comfort the people.”

“Ms. Cece, when I went to Disneyworld, I stayed at this resort and there were giraffes and everything right outside our room! That’s the same as where you’re going!”

“I went to Africa once when I had a day off of school.”…..does this count as a connection?…

Comments:

When showing pictures of schools in Mozambique, I asked students what they noticed that was different than our school:

“They are all a different color than us.”

“Their recess looks more fun…they get to spin in circles.”

“They have no walls and any rain or anything could just come in.”

Then I explained that many students don’t go to school past 8th grade in many places in the world, because it is expensive. I asked them how they would feel if school ended after 8th grade:

“I would probably be less socially active, because I wouldn’t see my friends every day. I would be at home in the fields or doing work that had to be done.”

“I would miss out on a lot of knowledge.”

“I would be bored”

“Good!”

Misc.:

“Did you know that cheetahs die if they run for more than 10 seconds?”

“Did you know that the most dangerous animal in Africa is not the lion, it’s the elephant?”

“I wish I was from Africa or could go live there.” (to which I replied ‘maybe you can join the Peace Corps someday!’ 🙂 )

“Whale sharks have no teeth.”

Questions, with answers in case you’re wondering too!:

“Can you use American money there?” > I will use the Metical when in Mozambique, so I will have to go to the bank when I get there and exchange my dollars for meticals.

“Can you say something in Portuguese?” > Eu nao sei (I don’t know) or Eu gosto de macas (I like apples.)

“Why do you want to move there?” > Tricky one….For my own personal growth, I want to move there to see what it’s like to live in a different culture, to live how many people in the world live -without running water and electricity-, and to learn what I can learn. I also hope I can teach people there new things about school and healthy lifestyles. One of my jobs there will be the share my knowledge and new things I learn with other teachers, so they can be more effective with their students.

“You’re going there to take them money, right?” > No

“WIll you be able to wear your normal clothes there?” > I will be able to bring clothes from here, but I will need to make some adjustments, like making sure my knees are covered and not wearing tank tops with thin straps.

“Are you going to start a library there? How would you get the books there?” > Maybe. I would have to probably raise money to have the books mailed there.

“If you don’t have electricity, how will you wash your clothes?” > With soap and water in a bucket.

“If you don’t have a cell phone, how will you talk to us?” > Email!

“Will Peace Corps make sure you’re germ free and healthy before you come back?” > Yes! I will have a medical examination before I come home to test for any weird stuff I may have caught there.

“If you don’t have a refrigerator, what about meat?” > Meat will probably be sketchy business in Mozamibique…I probably won’t eat much. But I might eat it if I am in the city at a restaurant with a refrigerator.

“How will you keep your food fresh without a refrigerator?” > I will probably go by the local market on my way home from work each day and get what I need, instead of going once a week like I do here.

And the most asked-about thing of all:

“Ms. Cece, what about going to the bathroom?”

“If there’s no running water, how will you go to the bathroom?”

“What about drains?”

“Are you gonna have a toilet there?”

>

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And just for the sake of ending on more pleasant note, a few pictures from our last trip to Kenya and Tanzania!

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Tuesday Talk: The Big 3

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Are you getting excited? Are you getting nervous?

I have been hearing these two questions here and there lately, and I awkwardly stumble over my reply: “Yes! I am excited…kinda nervous..for what? Which? What thing?”

Most people, I find, are showing interest in our big upcoming transition into the Peace Corps. As a girl who attempts to organize life through compartmentalizing sometimes, it seems like there are 3 big Transitions coming up in the next 4 months.

Right now, it feels like we are barreling head first into the first big Transition: school ending! There are 10 days left of school, lots of excitement, lots of stress, lots to get done, and lots to soak in. When school ends, our whole pace of life changes; summer life is so different than school life that it really does feel like two realities! And this year, we really feel that sense of wrapping up, of things truly ending here (for now :)). So our first excitement and our first feat is to get used to complete and total FREEDOM…sounds hard, right? 😉

After we enjoy our mountain summer of hiking, biking, doing whatever the heck we want, it will be time for big Transition number 2: moving out of our apartment, and leaving the lovely Grand County. Once we go through the large task of deciding what of our stuff to keep or get rid of, pack it up, move it Denver, and probably have a few good cries, we will be ready to begin our  month and a half (ish) of gypsying around: more camping, some weddings, a possible canoe trip to Yellowstone, and few weeks of family time in Denver. Thus, our second excitement and feat will be to really say goodbye to this place we love.

Finally, when Fall starts to roll around we will really be getting ready for big Transition number 3: leaving for Mozambique. Yes, there will be lots of logistics to think about: packing and repacking, making arrangements for plane tickets, and savoring lots of yummy American food. What makes me nervous about this big Transition is thinking about leaving our families for a while…that’s pretty much it, and it’s a big one. I don’t feel nervous about much else… yet :). What makes me excited is to think about doing something so new and different, getting deep into another culture, meeting people, learning a new language, sharing this time with our families, and just getting lost in the world in a whole new way. When I think about this transition, I think the big feat will be….hmmm…not freaking out 🙂

I am grateful to have these three distinct ‘phases.’ Of course, they are all related…but somehow distinct in my mind. I find comfort in knowing that these three things won’t happen in a matter of days, but over the course of a few months, giving me time to enjoy, reflect, and center myself amidst all this change!

So, yes, as things start changin’ as they do, I am a little nervous and mostly excited! Transition 1: commence! We are ready for sunshine and freedom 🙂

Mixed Berry ‘Health’ Scones

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As Alex left for an early-morning walk on Sunday, I climbed out of bed to mix up some scones and surprise him with breakfast when he returned! Something about the rainy, foggy morning put me in the baking mood, and a French cafe mood…whatever that means 🙂

I don’t think I’ve ever made scones before, and I’ve always thought of them as being difficult, but they really weren’t. I put on some French cafe Pandora, and had finished mixing and forming the scones within 15 minutes.

I based my recipe off of this one, from my favorite food blog, Begin Within Nutrition.

I  made a couple of changes: I used real butter (we didn’t have coconut oil or vegan ‘butter’ on hand), I used berries, omitted lemon, and used almond milk in my glaze instead of lemon juice.

When Alex returned, I opened the door and welcomed him to ‘France.’ Clearly, being cooped up during mud season causes me to loose my mind just a little bit!

He peered into the oven to see what was bakin’.

“Those look like health scones,” he said, warily.

“They’re gonna be good!,” I assured him. “I used real butter.”

Having just rearranged some furniture, I took advantage of some new space in front of our tall front windows and set up a little table and chairs for our cafe.

Alex made delish lattes, and we enjoyed these hot fresh scones while we watched the rain fall. It was a pretty idyllic Spring morning if you ask me 🙂

Mixed berry scones are perfect quick and easy weekend treat!

Mixed berry scones are perfect quick and easy weekend treat!

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup oat flour (made by grinding old-fashioned oats to a flour in the blender or coffee grinder)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

1 TBsp chia seeds

3 TBsp butter, cold

1/3 cup vanilla almond milk

1 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen

For the Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 and 1/2 TBsp vanilla almond milk

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together.

Step 2: Cut in the butter until the dough is flaky.

Step 3: Add the almond milk and mix thoroughly. Knead until smooth.

Step 4: On a floured surface, press dough into a circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut into 8-10 triangles.

Step 5: Bake for 18-20 minutes. While the scones bake, mix the ingredients for the glaze. Glaze and serve hot!

Enjoy 🙂

So glad I live with a homemade latte master!

So glad I live with a homemade latte master!

Welcome to cafe Romanyshyn :)

Welcome to cafe Romanyshyn 🙂

Tuesday Talk: It Floats!

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Last weekend we were taking our last snowboard turns for the year, and probably for a couple years to come. This weekend we took our new [to us] canoe out for its maiden voyage! Being able to do both of these things in the course of 7 days exemplifies what a Colorado mountain springtime/ mud season is like.

We were pleased to find that our canoe does indeed float! You can never be quite sure until you give it a try, right?

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We spent some time floating around, experimenting (“Let’s see how long it takes to go straight across.” “Let’s see how long it takes to go around close to the shore.” “Let’s switch places.”…”Let’s switch back. This isn’t working!”), enjoying a bit of sun, and dreaming and scheming about our upcoming summer. With 4 and a half weeks left of school, we are antsy for a change of pace and looking forward to another mountain summer before we head off to Mozambique in September!

On our maiden voyage, we discovered that we can paddle half a mile in about 13 minutes…on perfectly still water.

So, if we want to complete our big dreamin’ schemin’ plan of paddling around Lake Yellowstone at the end of August, it would take us about 48 hours total at that rate, so probably about 10 days if we paddle for 5 hours a day. Whoa…hefty goal! And yay for dreamin’ and schemin 🙂

We’ll see what the summer holds. And we’ll hopefully have really beefy shoulders and a couple good canoe trips by the end of it 😉

Wrapping up ski season on closing day at Winter Park, Sunday, April 26!

Wrapping up ski season on closing day at Winter Park, Sunday, April 26!                                                                 

Beginning our summer shenanigans on our new canoe, Sunday, May 3!

Beginning our summer shenanigans on our new canoe, Sunday, May 3!

Mud Season Mudslides

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The ski resort is closed, things are melting, afternoon rainstorms are replacing snow, and there are approximately 5 cars in the grocery store parking lot at any given time.

It’s officially mud season in Fraser.

This is the season in the mountains that falls between ski season and hiking season. I hesitate to even call seasons by their real names anymore, as the above seem to be more fitting. Mud season generally comes with increased inactivity and melancholy; gloomy skies that Coloradans aren’t used to, coupled with muddy trails means that we find ourselves staying in a bit more, being lazy, cooking and eating and drinking, and trying to enjoy this season of down time.

So, in the true spirit of mud season boredom, we were driven to inventiveness in the kitchen this weekend, which resulted in Mud Season Mudslides.

Instead of using vanilla ice cream and vodka paired with Kahlua, Bailey’s, and cream, we picked ingredients for a dairy-free (Cece approved!) mudslide, and used cafe latte-flavored ice cream for an extra coffee-flavor kick. Here’s what we did:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIngredients:

6 ice cubes

6 scoops of coffee-flavored ice cream (we used Cocunut Dream Cafe Latte)

2 cups almond milk

3 shots Kahlua

2 shots white rum

1 square dark chocolate, grated or shaved

Makes 2 Mud Season Mudslides

Step 1: Blend all ingredients. Top with shaved chocolate and enjoy!