24 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Sarah is doing Kin-Christmas right (stay tuned for documentation).
We are Southern-Hemispher-ing it up in Cape Town.

Wishing you a lovely holiday, wherever you might be.

In the clear, cold waters of Boulders Beach, Simons Town, South Africa.  A bit pricey, but there are penguins!

Oh, beautiful burgers at Royale in Cape Town.  Mature cheddar my soul.

Zam-buk.  The real Makoya.

Fishing boats.  Kalk Bay.  Get your fresh yellow tail here.

Oh, Dixie's.  Large breakfasts.  Mussels.  Right down the road. Yum.

Mid-day, post-beach, couch naps.  
Papa windbreaker.  Long Beach - no frills, not fancy, just our style.

15 December 2012


There is a really great word in French: Déranger.  People use it all the time around here.

This verb means "to disturb, bother, mix-up, trouble, mess."  

Related, le dérangement means "trouble, disorder, disturbance."

It's a great word for this week at Mama Congo, Kinshasa, the U.S., and the world.

Photo from here.

Don't worry - we are safe and sound.  

We will be back with posting quite soon.  Thank you for your patience.

8 December 2012

Friday List!

It's that time of year again when I start googling places in the world we can live where it's cold for the 2 weeks around Christmas and then nice and tropical the rest of the year. This climate exists somewhere, right? I want Christmassy weather without the SAD until February.

Cranking up the AC is no substitute for cold weather, but maybe the smell of these baking in the oven might help.

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies by Smitten Kitchen

Our best friend, Joanna (okay, we've never actually met her) has been keeping a nice collection of gift guides this season. Ideas for mom, dad, sister, husband, best friend, favorite mom bloggers in Congo...

Felt mistletoe from catbirdnyc.com

Or become the gift and tie your hair in a bow. Has anyone in real life ever done this?

Ordering our Christmas cards from Pinhole Press. We like to patronize them because they happily pull our order to specially put the trema in Annaïs’ name. Who does that to their child? Apparently no one

Ultrathick pinstripes make up for missing Christmas, right?

And to commemorate our first Christmas in 8 years in which we will wake up in our own beds (or country in which we reside) I'm going to ask our favorite wood workers if they can make one of these. If you don't have your own personal atelier. You can get one here

A gutschein adventskalender from klotzaufklotz.de

Jill's List:

Step away from the $84 candles.  Step away from the $84 candles.  (But they possess the ability to make Congo smell like Christmas...)

I have recently developed a Pinterest obsession.  It started out as an innocent way to promote this blog.  Now, I find myself craving $84 candles.  Check out this article about the power of Pinterest and Glossi. 

Don't tell me that since hearing the happy news, you haven't indulged in a little lunchtime People Magazine online browsing.  For example: "British Royal Maternity Fashions."  I mean, I certainly would never do such a thing...

I started my New Year's Resolution early.  I'm reading Trollope.  On the heavy recommendation of some of our dearest friends (Thanks Bethany & Peter!), and despite an earlier false start, I'm far enough into the first book of the Palliser Novels to feel super impressed with myself AND the prolific postman who wrote these stories...

Making these cookies for the sixth time in as many weeks.  So amazing.  (And, a testament to the fact that sometimes things that would normally be expensive can be randomly found in Kinshasa for not much at all.  Example: saffron.  But forget it if you want to find laundry detergent for under $40 a box.)

Our perfect, packable, Christmas tree: from Virginia to Kinshasa to Cape Town for all your decorating needs.  And, it's true what it says on the box:  "Will not lose needles!"  But, thank goodness my six-year-old is an assembly whiz.  This one was a doozie.  Maybe he has a future at Ikea...

And, way to sum it up, Dan. Feeling a lot of Seattle pride this week.

6 December 2012

Color Virgin

It's that time again.  Let's talk about Jill's hair.

Maybe I need a wig.

I'm sure Mamas Vida or YouYou would be glad to take me wig shopping.  It was be hysterical.  And such good blog material...

Remember how I said I was going to get my hair trimmed in Cape Town?  Well, I also asked for a "color consultation."  I don't even know if that is an actual cosmetological term, but it sounded like an official thing to request when booking my appointment.

You see, I don't know these things because I am a color virgin.

"Color Virgin" IS, in fact, an actual technical term.  At my last South African haircut, the guy used it repeatedly to describe me to his colleagues.  They thought it was absurd.  But it's true.  I've never highlighted, frosted, dyed, bleached, or otherwise chemically altered my hair.  Except for an awesome perm I got as the best 6th birthday present ever in the history of the world.

Instead of Kinshasa wig-shopping, I am asking for a "color consultation" and considering loosing my color virginity.  Why? Because the gray is sneaking in, folks.  Nothing too crazy yet: some patches that I wish were dramatic white stripes and predictable temple graying - yawn.  If I were actually prematurely grey/white - that would be exciting enough to wear proudly for shock and beauty.  But, I'm just run-of-the-mill dark-haired 30 year-old who exclaims, "Oh, my! I'm starting to go gray." Boring.

But, I'll admit that it does bother me a bit when groups of my 7th graders exclaim, "OHMYGOD! Ms. Jill has GRAY HAIR! OHMYGOD! You guys HAVE to see this!"

I think this quote aptly describes my feelings:
But that is the problem with hair once it starts to turn gray: there is no version of invisible. There is always the tell. To dye one’s hair is to confess to caring, to fighting age: it fools no one, although it reveals the effort to do so. It only tells the viewer that I am someone who is unwilling and unready to give in to the physical symbols of aging, which is its own social signaling. But not to dye one’s hair is to make a whole other statement: I am someone who does not care. And I am not ready for that one, either.
So - I've decided that Craig (at the Lobby) and I will have a little color consultation.  "Consultation" insinuating that there's no pressure to commit.  I could get a little color and at the same time, do a little cover-up operation.  But, if I decide I'm not ready, it's all good and nobody gets hurt and I can save myself for later, when the time is right.

Possibly, Craig will convince me that a really great deep conditioning treatment is just as good and much more reasonable for someone who only sees a hairdresser twice a year...plus gray is the new awesome.  

Or something like that.

4 December 2012

Tia Foin: Lose That Collarbone Today!

Did you happen to see these popsicle people last week? Well one has caused a bit of controversy in the Sensamaust household.

Mama Youyou gently brought me Mamitsho’s popsicle and danced around for a bit with the French equivalent of, “Madame, umm, hmm, well… Have you seen this photo of Mamitsho? Well, hmm, has she seen it? Is she okay with this?”

I told her I thought it was a lovely picture of Mamitsho and in fact everyone who’s seen it comments on how nice she looks. (In retrospect, I guess it was only Americans giving the compliments.)

Well, Madame it’s not a good photo. She looks skinny. It must be embarrassing for her. You can see her (and then she yell-whispered) collarbone!

So I had to promise Mama Youyou I would check-in with Mamitsho regarding the obviously humiliating display of her protruding collarbone.

It’s true, though. There’s no need to step on a scale on the continent of Africa. I know I’m gaining weight when I start getting compliments on my appearance. More specifically, my butt. 

One must have lots of meat on their bones. For example, remember that time Mama Youyou had to remind us to feed our children?

There’s a whole phenomenon in Congo called Tia Foin. The Congolese ideal is a nice, rotund, well-fed figure. More specifically, big butts. So much so that women now take supplements or injections that were formally used to beef-up animals, literally.

Think: Tia Foin ≠ Jenny Craig.

"Venus Hottentot" and the phénomène Tia Foin as reported in the Kinshasa glossy, LOOK'in Magazine
A lot of people I've talked to know of at least one person taking supplements and participating in the phénomène Tia Foin

As for Mamitsho, I'm happy to report she won't be taking injections to get rid of her unsightly collarbone anytime soon. She was unembarrassed by her photo. 

And I'm planning on showing Mama Youyou all the pictures of myself I'm unhappy with so she can shower me with compliments of how well-fed I look.

2 December 2012

Friday List!

Jill's List:

Discovered this magical blog from Cape Town...and immediately booked an appointment for that awesome first-hair-cut-in-six-months at The Lobby.  Can't wait. 

Trying to book a ticket from Kinshasa to Accra, Ghana is way more difficult than one would expect.  Flying East in order to fly West.  Overnight stays.  Tight connections on tiny airplanes in tiny Togolese airports with stops in Libreville and Lagos along the way.  I am convincing myself that a little accidental overnight due to a missed flight in Lomé would be just delightful...right?

Still keeping tabs on Goma - now via the Menno-chain, thanks so the Tweets of Michael J. Sharp who is out East and sending out 140-word updates via the interwebs.  (Don't worry, Jason Stearns, you are still Mama Congo's main subject of Congo-expert-adoration.)

Photo from Al Jazeera English.  Waiting to cross the border from Goma to Rwanda.

The rhume is hitting TASOK hard.  We're all hacking and coughing and sounding just horrible.  Students, babies, mamas, papas, and even the nurse! (My boss definitely told me I sound "consumptive" yesterday.) I'm thinking some of this sounds perfect:

And finally, I keep coming back to this article and accompanying photographs of the 100-year-old artist Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht.  Her story is fascinating.  And her home in Amsterdam...well...

Image from Freunde von FreundenGo to this lovely site for more photos that feature interactive descriptions of some of the incredible items in this home.

Sarah's List:

Surely you've seen this, but just in case you haven't here's what happens when Africans start caring about Europeans: Radi-Aid. Wish I would have recorded Tchic and Mama Youyou's reaction to watching this. Their laughs would have gone viral too.

From AfricaforNorway.no

Who knew the light microscope could make art. Nikon's Small World Competition. These winners are pretty amazing. I've always wondered what the blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo looked like.

The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo, by Jennifer Peters, et al.

Friend of a friend makes a beautiful film. See it. Donate. Ananse's never looked so good.

Finally an expensive city list that includes us. Even if we're called "Kinshaa." You mean I could save money living in New York City or Seoul, but they're probably cheaper and have great modern conveniences. What's the fun in that?

And here's a list DRC didn't make. Shocking. The Where-to-be-Born Index. Ah, to be a white man born in the United States in 1930. Or a baby born in Switzerland in 2013.

From the Economist, Nov. 2012.

In honor of the end of NaNoWriMo, check out this competition for the worst opening line of a novel.

From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages — which are sometimes called boudinnoir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone would refer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place — but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food.
- Jack Barry, Shelby, NC

Remember these guys and their 60 Minutes fame? We went to a concert last weekend. Here's a link to the video we shot of their encore. Be sure to keep watching for the dramatics in the end. Wow, what a show!

29 November 2012

Shoe Trying.

I remember when I learned to tie my shoes.  It seems to happen at the same time as learning to snap, whistle, and blow gum bubbles.  Six is developmentally monumental.

So - Elias can technically tie his shoes.  He's been able to for awhile now.  But, he hates to do it.  So - his method is to triple-knot the laces and slip them on & off - pre-tied - each day until they eventually loosen to the point of tripping.

Then, he must tie them again.

And, this is how it goes:

Shoe Trying Part 1

Shoe Trying Part 2

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