Review Wednesday- Timeless Skin Care


This year I turned 40 years old.  It should be no big deal, right?  I mean, Jennifer Lopez is over 40.  Eva Longoria.  Drew Barrymore.  Amy Adams.  Eva Mendes.  Cameron Diaz.  These are all gorgeous women.  I guess the problem is that I don’t compare 40 year old Karmen to 40 year old Cameron Diaz; I compare 40 year old Karmen to 25 year old Karmen.  Ok… I am certainly a much better person now.  But those years of laughing and crying; the years of smoke-filled bars listening to local bands play; and the years of sun damage (I grew up in the pre-sunscreen age before we knew how important UV protection was)…  The person I see in the mirror now is not the person I see in my head.

This new reflection is much older looking.  My face is filled with wrinkles and age spots and… time.  It’s filled with time.  Enter Timeless Skin Care.
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Review Wednesday- Caboo Paper Products


When Caboo contacted me to try some samples of their products, honestly, I had to look up what they sold.  I had never heard of Caboo.  Turns out, they are a paper products company that produces sustainably produced household paper products made from bamboo and sugar cane.  These products are free of dyes, inks and fragrances.  You can find Caboo products at select markets around the country such as Ingles, Whole Foods and Wegmans. Continue reading

Keeping School Records


Since we’ve moved into the new house I have been trying to sort through things and get more organized.  A couple weeks ago I cleaned out the schoolroom closet and pulled out piles upon piles of schoolwork from this past school year and the year prior.  At that point as I was drowning in the heaps of paper I could only wonder what was expected of me in terms of keeping school records.  I mean, we don’t really do grades; there are no quarterly report cards; there is nothing specific to indicate what, if anything we have done for the school year. Continue reading

Corn and Peanuts (Africa Week 6)




This is my last normal week for awhile. We go to the coast to pick up Erik’s parents, brother, and his nephews. While they are here we won’t do school so I’ll actually be able to spend more time in the bush. Then after they go back I’ll have like 6 days or so until I go back! It will be fun at the coast and I think we will go on a canoeing trip.

These are some of my friends in the village. Bacari is the one all the way on the right and he is the one I hang out with the most. He is actually kind of a jerk, but he speaks good english and takes me to play or watch futbol so we are cool. And no that guy has no idea what that shirt means and cracks me up every time he wears it (don’t look it up mom).  Also African men do this thing where they will hold your hand. It is a friendship thing if you are walking together. Lemme tell ya if there was a video of the first time one of the African guys tried to do that to me it would be worth watching.
The other day we got to shovel and take 5 tractor loads of manure to dump on the corn fields.  Corn and peanuts always get the best land and the most resources because corn is their favorite grain (besides rice) and peanut is their cash crop. Sorghum and millet take the backseat for the most part even though that is what they eat for most of the year. Yes Mussa and me are standing on the hitch of the tractor going 30 mph with a few tons of manure behind us. The first trip was a little terrifying not gonna lie, but it is sort of something you become desensitized to. I can tell you from experience a west african thunderstorm makes the trip even more interesting.
Speaking of which the thunderstorms are ridiculouussss. This is my backyard after about a thirty minute storm. You might be just working in the bush. A few clouds here and there, but it is sunny and hot. Then all of the sudden it gets really windy and the dust goes everywhereee for about a minute. The next thing you know you are drenched and covering your ears because the rain stings so bad. If you forgot to bring a plastic bag to put your phone in it is a lost cause and in 10 minutes the streets are completely flooded. The wind occasionally rips a few roofs off. It is insanneee. One time when I was sick I HAD to poop in the middle of one. It was a memorable experience……
There is a “video club” in the market. You pay 15 dalase (about 30 cents) to sit in a room with one working tv to just drip with sweat with a ton of Africans to watch a futbol game. But I get to hang out with a lot of the younger/middle aged guys and watch the euro cup which are both fun. Also one of the fans sometimes spins at about 1 revolution every 3 seconds so that is good too.
Those things hanging from that tree? Yeah those are bats…. It is hard to tell in the picture, but they are massiveee. You kind of get used to them though.. If I am in my backyard without a light they will fly less than 6 inches from my face and they are frequent visitors in my room.Things to pray for:
1. I feel so much better! God is so good! Update: I felt better for a long time, but Friday Ele made some bad chicken and now I’m verryyy sick haha. Hopefully it will pass though and I’m on an antibiotic in case it isn’t going to just stop.
2. The only crops that I haven’t seen planted are peanuts and rice. I’d really like to be able to see at least peanuts before I leave.
3. The younger guys are a slightly rougher crowd than the men Oseman or Erik hang out with. There are a lot of good opportunities to say why I do what I do. Why I don’t fast during Ramadan or why I to leave the states to come here or why I won’t be sleeping with one of their daughters. People are pretty open to talk about religion (because they want you to be muslim) so there are a lot of opportunities.
4. Similarly because I can read I am often charged with reading and interpreting the Quran or muslim blessings. I’ll explain to them what it is saying and I will usually talk with them about what the similarities and differences are in the Bible. Ironically interpreting the Quran for them is the time I get to talk about my relationship with the Lord the most.

Love you all,

Canning, Freezing, and Preserving


When I was growing up I spent many an hour stringing and breaking green beans with my Nana.  She canned quart size mason jars of green beans by the bushel.  And honestly, there was absolutely nothing more wonderful than sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and eating freshly canned summer green beans.

The last bit of green beans my Nana strung and broke were imaginary beans as she was coming off morphine after a series of small strokes.  It was funny to watch Nana break those beans, but also very sad.  I know it was something she enjoyed doing and in the 11 years since she has not had the pleasure of eating fresh green beans except possibly a handful of times. Continue reading

Unfinished Curriculum


Every year we spend several hundred dollars on curriculum for our homeschooling needs.  Starting in about March of each school year I begin thinking about the next year, exploring new curriculum options, thinking about what to add, what to change, what to do differently.  All year long, I am exposed to homeschooling friends’ curriculum choices and curriculum collections.

But three years into homeschooling and we have only managed to successfully complete one curriculum during a school year.  So, what do I do? Continue reading

Celebrating the End of Ramadan (Africa Week 5)

Week 5

As an American guest here I am always given the seat of honor. It doesn’t matter who’s house I walk into they will get up to sit on the mat and ask me to sit in the chair (there usually is only one). The time I felt most uncomfortable was at a wedding ceremonies where they took me to the middle to sit with elders of the village. During the ceremony the elder’s speak things over the bride’s life in serahule while one of the Imams chanted things from the Quran (who was also sitting with us). It is kind of a constant reminder for me of all the things I have in Christ. The promises God makes in Romans 8 makes me feel a lot an english speaking, white twenty year old sitting with the elders of a serahule village. I wrote this at a relatively difficult time in my life, but I looked for it again the other day when I was thinking about all this.
“Sometimes I think of the wedding feast. The many finely dressed believers showing up laughing; talking about all the Lord did in their lives.  One by one they come in.  Each one of them welcomed and some given seats of honor, but all joyful to be there.  After most of the seats are filled and it is time to start the feast, a ragged looking, scarred boy hobbles into the room.  It seems a wonder that he is still standing, and at a second glance someone is holding his bloodstained arm.  At a third glance this person is practically dragging him along.  The boy has a crooked smile on his face and he is looking adoringly up at the man guiding him there.  Jesus leads me to my seat and I do not care that I am the only one wearing rags.  I do not care that I am bruised, scarred, and broken.  All I care about is that I am at the Lord’s wedding feast and I am His bride.  I unknowingly continue to wear my childlike expression as the Lord sits me down and smiles much more pleasantly in return.  The people around don’t even notice my ragged appearance because they too are infatuated with their bridegroom.  He sits at the head of the table and raises His glass of wine to begin the feast and I don’t care.  I don’t care that I was broken into an innumerable number of pieces.  I do not care that I am scarred, bruised, and bloody. I do not care that I am not like the rest because I am here at the wedding feast and I am the BRIDE.”

Important questions to ask about this picture: Is this a cover to a well 50 feet deep? Yes. Did I know this was a cover to a well 50 feet deep? Why yes I did. Was the cover always broken? No it was not. Was it broken before I chose to sit on it? Also no. Did I almost die? Wellllll… Yeaaaahhhh…..


I got to use the planting machine… I was pretty excited hahaha. Why they don’t fix a small tiller to the front of this and just clear the rows only the Lord knows. It would work so much better and take soo much less effort.
image2.jpegIf you are a vegetarian I’m sorry. This is actually a really rare event. Like once a year kind of event because they are celebrating the end of Ramadan. The whole village pitched in to buy this cow. Goats, cows, chickens, and donkeys are everrryyywhereeeee. The chickens lay the lamest eggs that no one eats, no one milks the goats or the cows, and eating a goat or a cow is only for a very, very special occasion. Most of the animals are taken care of till they die. It doesn’t make any sense haha. The donkeys are the only animal that is actually used in any kind of productive way on a regular basis….I will never understand it.
image1.jpegimage2.jpegHomeschooling is going great! I am a baller teacher (baller=good for those of you over 30). We are in our space unit at the moment which is my favorite. Since starting the space unit Khara has decided she likes to say “johnjagtheastronaut” over and over again. image1.jpeg
You know what is in that box on the back of that motor bike? Yeah. That is my poop going to a lab cuz I’m still sick. And yes. I’m for real. It is in a cooler strapped to the back of a motor bike. Ten years from now I’m still gonna think this picture is hilarious.
image1.jpegimage2.jpegIt was the end of Ramadan this week (finally food during the day….). At the end of Ramadan is a holiday so everyone dresses nice. So Mariam came in and made me put this on. Mayncha in the first picture is one of the kids that follows me around everywhere. Oseman is the guy who’s house I’m staying in. Yes I am trying my absolute best not to bust out laughing because Oseman is being completely serious in this picture and he just had help me tie those pants on.
Things to pray for:
1. I am very tired of being sick. I don’t want to be sick again haha. Update: since writing this we found out I have e coli! So they can give me medicine for that now. If I was in the states I’d probably be getting a call from the cdc about now, but since it’s Africa nobody cares.
2. That in my last month I wouldn’t just build relationships, but look for opportunities to share the gospel. Yaya of Zachariah is the prophet you may know as John the Baptist. He is also in the Quran so that has been my best conversation starter thus far.
3. Because I’m here in the rainy season I’ve learned soo much about the way they farm. That is more of something to say thank you for, but I’d like to learn a little more about the way they cultivate so hopefully I’ll get to be a part of that.
4. Continuing to pray for Oseman and his family. I am pretty close with them and have become the universal reader of all important things and phone fixer for them. They are very kind to me and I am really praying that the Lord would move in their hearts.
5. For the kids. Africa is… different haha. Even the best families here would be reported to child services in the states. Some of isn’t bad, but what sucks is watching the kids listen to the parents talk about how they hate Africa and how nothing will ever change or seeing them watch their uncles spend all their families money on a hope that they will get to Europe. It hurts a little to see the older ones begin to adopt the same attitude.
6. Most importantly I heard on the radio here that Messi is going to jail for 21 months for tax evasion. Someone needs to email me to tell me if that is true.
Love you all!
Yaya Konte

Our Veggie Garden: Plethora and Drought


Here it is August and I had really hoped to be drowning in produce.  Cooking, canning, freezing, preserving, even giving away fresh produce that we grew in our garden boxes.  Ok, I at least wanted to cook ONE meal of freshly grown foods.

To date I have harvested a total of 5 bean pods:  2 black beans and 3 pinto beans.  They weren’t even really healthy bean pods. Continue reading

Exploring the subtleties of homesteading in an unlikely way

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