Yesterday, I Got Rejected

Randy Jackson meme.jpg

Yesterday, I got rejected.

Cue Randy Jackson.

Every week, when American Idol aired from 2002-2014, you could hear Jackson’s uniquely monotone rejection voice crushing the hopes and snuffing out the dreams of many aspiring singers and artists on this very successful reality singing competition show.

But this post isn’t about him. And its definitely not about the amazingly hilarious memes that have been solely created in honor of these famous six words.

Anyway, let’s get back to my story. But in doing so, I must back up a bit.

Over the course of maintaining this blog, I’ve chronicled my journey towards becoming a published author. I’ve had to alter my language when speaking about my writing. I’ve adapted my words and have begun stating, “I am an author”!

Can you believe it? Well I hardly can sometimes despite the fact it’s true and despite the fact I have yet to be formally published.

To date, I’ve written three children’s picture books celebrating the African American experience and currently am in the process of shopping one of these books around to publishers. I guess three books under my belt is all the proof I need of being an author, right?!

Last summer, I sent a flurry of submissions to various agents and publishers in hopes of someone falling in love with one of my stories as much as I have. I’m hoping they’ll take a chance on me so I’ve been going for it.

However, I have yet to be so lucky as to have this happen and instead have received rejection after rejection.

Well, my rejection yesterday came in a sort of matter of fact way. My family was loaded up in our blue minivan headed down the highway to Nyla’s two month check up. I was in the midst of some pretty important Facebook stalking internet research to find the name of a person who I had a very encouraging conversation with the day before about my writing.

That was the moment the fateful email notification disrupted my hot pursuit of said individual. Surprisingly enough, I received an extremely polite yet very direct rejection letter from one of the publishers I sought out over the summer months.

The funny thing is I had actually forgotten about this publisher in particular because so much time had passed. In the publishing world, I’m learning that if more than three months goes by without a response, you can pretty much count your submission as a no-go. Most likely the publisher has moved on and is not interested in publishing your manuscript.

Truth be told, I’ve gotten pretty used to this. I’ve been at it since April 2014 and I know how the game goes.

But yesterday felt a little different.

In the mere seconds between seeing the notification pop up and opening the actual email, I already figured it was a rejection. This lack of hope struck me as odd but I didn’t linger there.

However, in the wee hours of the next morning as I sleepily nursed my eight week old, my mind went back to that instance of premeditated defeat. I had to tweeze it apart and find out what was really going on.

Hence the reason for this post.

I think what was at the heart of my assumed rejection before the actual rejection was the  fact that I’ve grown so used to this process. As I mentioned before, I’ve been formally writing for almost four years and am getting pretty familiar with the word “No”. The way I usually get it goes a little something like this:

“Dear Courtney,

Thank you for submitting your manuscript The Rumble Hunters, unfortunately we have decided not to pursue this to the next stage.”

…Blah, Blah, Blah…

And in those particularly exciting instances, there’s the all too familiar chirping of crickets I hear from non-responders altogether. *insert sarcasm*

I’m learning that along the road to success, rejection of some kind and in various forms is to be expected. It’s just apart of the journey. But for me, because I’ve experienced it time and time again, edit after edit, following late night writing sessions and early morning proofreads, its becoming normative.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel defeated. I don’t want to quit. If you would’ve checked in with me last spring, that might have been a different story. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I’ve found a way to get out of that funk.

What I am saying is that rejection is becoming something I expect. That may sound depressing. But its really not, just hear me out.

At some point last year when I was discouraged and feeling like, “What’s the point?”, my loving hubby and amazing sis encouraged me. They reminded me of the dozens of times J.K. Rowling was rejected before Harry Potter made the slightest splash.

JK-Rowling-2

This motivated me.

In the same fashion, the rejection via email yesterday motivated me once again.

The point of all this isn’t to celebrate my rejections. Rather, I’m celebrating the fact I still have the courage, endurance and motivation to scout out another agent or publisher, and open up The Rumble Hunters document in Word to have at it once again.

So here I go. I’m back at it today and am hoping for the best while bracing for the worst. And trust me, I’m gearing up to fully celebrate once I receive that needle in the haystack of good news when it comes through my email notifications.

And guess what, you guys will be some of the first to know!

Thanks for reading. And if you like what you see, go ahead and hit that follow button on the side. Who knows, if you don’t, you might just miss out on the chance to celebrate once my manuscript strikes gold!

Blessings,

Courtney

P.S. – Here’s the rejection letter just as a reminder of what my fuel will be for the celebration at my big publishing party.

img_3548

An Unlikely Call or Snow Day Musings

Snow day 3.7.18

Who would’ve thought it’d be snowing like this on a Wednesday afternoon in March?

Yet here we are!

In fact, there’s a lot of unexpected things I’ve been encountering as of late. Its been a while since I’ve updated the old blog but once you read this post, you’ll see why.

As of January 12th, we welcomed a new little cutie into the Dunlap fold and have been off to the races.

Nyla at birth

I jokingly tell friends who have been asking how we are doing since our daughter’s birth that this was all a set up! You see, its been nearly five years since the last infant graced our threshold and that little guy was the EASIEST baby you’d ever imagine.

Well, this new little one has surely been giving us a run for our money to say the least! But ya know what, its been a welcomed disruption as the days and weeks leading up to her entrance into this world were marked with difficulty, uncertainty and even unknown danger.

You see, she has multiple cysts on her right kidney which were discovered in utero. (Random little nugget here, but her oldest sis has the exact same condition and it was detected the same way!) So that threw us for a loop as we thought this pregnancy would be smooth sailing for the most part. So when God allowed this repeat of a condition, in a way, our hearts were already prepared, we just didn’t know it yet.

He’s so merciful like that, ain’t he?

To be honest, that wasn’t even the most concerning part of this whole birth story.

About 34 weeks into my pregnancy, at a routine ultrasound to continue monitoring the kidney condition, the doctor found that she had begun slowing down in her growth rate. The doc wasn’t necessarily worried but more so precautionary and wanted to to do another ultrasound the following week.

At subsequent appointments, another doctor found more of the same prognosis. In fact, his concern was so great that he was now talking to us about an induction in order to preserve our baby’s only functioning kidney. This troubling possibility was held in the tension of an awareness that I was not yet full term and the risk of having to care for a preterm baby with underdeveloped lungs was now on the table.

Talk about a “Woo sah moment”!!!

You know this is usually the part of my story where I start telling you guys how much I was freaking out and crying and praying and praying and crying and then freaking out some more.

BUT, God y’all!!!

Can we just take a parenthetical pause right here and have a quick two second praise?!

Let me tell you, the Lord really delivered on his promise from Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Am I saying I wasn’t concerned?

No.

Am I saying I wasn’t hoping for a good outcome?

Nope, not in the least!

Am I saying that I wished we weren’t at this point and really wanted to make it to my due date that was in three weeks, let alone the Milk & Cookies event we were planning with our friends as a sort of “un-baby shower, baby shower” that was only days away?

Absolutely not!

But what I am saying is despite all the mounting bad news, the worsening projections and worrisome possibilities, the overseer of my soul kept my heart still.

He was faithful to His Word!

Before I knew it, I was three weeks shy of our little love’s due date and in the path of a scheduled induction.

What else could go wrong?

Well, as it would go, induction day came and went. An unlikely uptick in impatient babies wanting to come that day caused a major back up in our hospital’s labor and delivery department. But by 6 am the next day, we were ready to go!

For the most part, the majority of my induction was pretty uneventful. I mean, minus the fact this was my third pending VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). As an aside, my oldest daughter was delivered via Cesarean but my second and third births were both successful VBACS. You could say this “return customer” was pretty comfortable with her midwife’s track record and was ready for round three!

I had labored through most of the day and spent it by watching movies, kicking it with my boo, entertaining myself on Facebook and participating in hilarious text threads with my friends. I was calm, cool and collected and things were actually ahead of schedule in terms of my labor’s length.

Yet, when it came time to push, fatigue, frustration and discouragement were beginning to set in.

The last hour before our baby’s birth was one of the most trying of all my labors. It was like a physical culmination of all the stop and go, great news and then sucky news, and worry and angst of the past month all wrapped up with an ugly bow!

I didn’t want to feel another contraction.

I didn’t want to push anymore.

I had mentally tapped out.

Thankfully, I’m married to a man who moonlights as a cheerleader or at least that’s what I’d like to think. He saw the look in my eyes and knew I was no good. His strong, calming and compassionate presence was what I needed to get me over that hump.

And so, with the Lord’s strength and of course one final push from me, Nyla Rose Dunlap made her entrance into this world!

Nyla Rose

Yet, unbeknownst to me, my hubby, and even our docs was a ginormous (is that a word?? I don’t know but let’s go with it okay) knot in Nyla’s umbilical cord!

What an unwelcome surprise!

We had had absolutely no clue. It wasn’t detected on any of the ultrasounds and it sure as heck was the furthest thing from our minds when it came time to induce. And still, this unseen threat was literally blocking the life my daughter was destined to have even before she took her first breath.

Knot in Nylas cord
This knot is CRAY right??!!

It’s funny how in the weeks leading up to Nyla’s birth, I found myself meditating on Matthew 6:25-34. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t shake it.

What I didn’t know was it was exactly what I needed. When it came time for me to implement Jesus’ mandate to not worry, there was Matthew 6 holding my frayed heart together. It was keeping me from going down the crazy rabbit trail of what else could be lurking around the corner.

This whole ordeal encounter with God’s Sovereign hand will forever be etched on my heart of pure evidence of His love for me and care for my family.

To be quite frank with you, this pregnancy was a lot. It was almost too much! Although it was planned, it turned out to be more than what we bargained for. And more than that, since having Nyla, her presence in our family has been a welcomed disruption. In my heart of hearts since delivering her, I’ve had thoughts about how her cute little face has changed up everything, never to be the same again.

For about a good month after her arrival, I wasn’t feeling what this newness was bringing.

You see, we had had a good thing going for about five years. We were settled into a groove of life — a rhythm really.

I don’t know why but if the craziness of her birth is any indication of what else is in store, I must admit that I’m going to need more than just a couple of scriptures to keep me sane. I’m going to need the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word, His Holy Spirit and lots and lots of grace to make it through!

And you know what, that’s okay! I think that’s exactly right where God wants me to be really. Isn’t that what he requires of all of us who call ourselves believers?

Unabashed childlike faith that is full of dependence on Him and His Word!!!

And if you have found yourself in a similar place of uneasiness, disrupted by life’s curve balls, what I will say to you, weary one, is He too calls you to this same place. I implore you to wholly throw yourselves upon the Savior’s love and entrust yourself to Him.

He is faithful to His Word. He can and He will uphold you!

God bless you, thanks for reading! Until next time…

In total surrender,

Courtney

 

 

 

Hesitant Reader No More!!!

girl-reading-in-grass

Guys its here!

The day has come!

Hesitant reader in my house??!!

…Pssssssh!

NO MORE!

I don’t know if I could necessarily nail down the exact date my middle daughter went to bed a hesitant reader only to wake up a blossoming one. But one thing’s for sure, she is hesitant no more! I cannot begin to express the joy, pride and relief I feel even writing these words. So much so I couldn’t sleep and had to get up at 6am to pen this post!

It also feels anticlimactic for my soaring six year old to make such huge strides in her academic progress and I not share it with the world!

READ Blocks Cropped

Her hard work and perseverance deserves no less! But how was she able to do all this you may ask.

This is why I write this post.

Today, I’ll switch gears from concerned mama and let you see things from the side of a teacher determined to make a difference in her pupil’s life. We needed a fresh approach…a sort of happy medium. The all or nothing kinds of full on phonics or sight word only reading programs never quite clicked for my girl.

In fact, my last post was all about things coming to a head and my decision to chuck it all! And if you go back to January 2017 when I first realized I needed to have hope for the hesitant reader in my home, you will be able to appreciate this post even more!

Hence, the second reason I write this post.

I’m happy to say we’re now at the end of Week 5 of our most successful approach. By God’s grace, I figured out a way to marry the two previously insurmountable concepts.

Here’s my method:

1.) File Folders for Focus:

Using simple file folders, I devised a Five Week “trial period”. I labeled the folders by the week: “Week 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9” (FYI, by the time we switched approaches, we had already completed four weeks of school).

5 Week Trial folders

Each week, we’d focus on two word families and no more than two to three sight words.

Word families group similar ending/rhyming words together and sight words are the immediate identification of words you aren’t able to sound out. Together, these early reading skills are supposed to ease the reading process.

However, this, ladies and gents was the root of all my daughter’s troubles! She wasn’t connecting the fact that when she read words from say Dr. Seuss, she was in fact simply reading word families and sight words.

This kid knew her letter sounds. Yet, her knowledge almost seemed to be a crutch. It kept her from really excelling. She was sounding out EVERY word! Even if she read something like,

“Dot hops. Hop Dot hop.”

Don’t you see the repetition in this sentence? Well, for some reason, my lady love didn’t.

And don’t get me started on sight words! For my little literal one (and trust me, I mean this literally! lol), sight words

Just   

Didn’t     

Make  

Sense! 

She was so bent on sounding out each letter that by the time she made it to the sentence’s end, the meaning was lost and she was frustrated beyond belief.

To remedy this, we focused on the folders. In them, I placed a book featuring word families from that week, related worksheets for each day of the week and instructions for a possible craft or activity.

2.) Youtube Playlists:

I created a Youtube playlist for each week’s set of word families with no more than five or six videos. On Monday, she would tune into that particular playlist to build a familiarity with what we were trying to accomplish that week.

Here’s an example of one video from the Week 8 playlist when we covered “at/op” words:

3.) Read the House:

Then we moved on to an activity called “read the house”. I forgot to mention that my mother who is a proud 40 year teaching veteran from the public school system was my secret weapon in all this. She suggested this simple yet effective activity.

For Week 5, (the first week), I wrote as many words I could think of related to the two word families on sticky notes and posted them all over the house. I also included the sight words I had chosen as well. We then went on a mission to “read the house”. We used this funky pointer stick she loves to point with that has a weird plastic hand on it (don’t ask, lol) to read the words out loud.

Read the house

For subsequent weeks, my daughter was tasked with the responsibility of making her own sticky notes and posting them throughout the house and completing this activity.

4.) Worksheets CAN Work!

We then moved on to the set of worksheets I previously selected for that week. After reading the directions together, she completed it independently.

This day, or any other in that week we also got out a related easy reader stashed in her week’s folder. We then plugged away at it for the rest of the week until we had read it all. A sampling of some of our books:

5.) Games aren’t just for playing:

After a day’s work, my daughter then played a game related to the word family. One game consisted of her standing at the bottom of our steps. I’d call out words from the walls and she had to spell them. A correctly spelled word meant she could hop up one step. The goal was to make it to me at the top for a hug or high five.

Another game all my kiddos joined in to play was this one:

ABC Letter Game

She was also able to get in on some online gaming action too. My girl loves to play games on sites like Starfall, Abcmouse, Abcya, Teach Your Monster to Read and PBSkids. I preselected games focusing on the word families and copied and pasted their links into a Word document I had created for the weeks’ activities. Under each day, I pasted a link to one of the games. Playing it was  her reward by the end of her lesson.

For instance, Week 5 was all about “an/en” words so she played this game on Starfall:

Make a Word: EN

6.) Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!!

Each week, we continued in a similar rotation in which we reviewed the word families, completed worksheets, played games, and read related books. But, MOST importantly, we celebrated! We were sure to celebrate even the tiniest milestone!

Layla progress

She received stickers, hugs, small pieces of candy and even got to FaceTime with daddy when he was at work to tell him about her success.

But you may be asking, “How’d it REALLY go?”

As far as her progress went, the first two weeks seemed rather routine but something clicked somewhere into Week 3. Like I stated earlier, I don’t know when exactly or how but there was a day I can remember distinctly in which the kid went from sounding everything out to simply saying the words with ease. Compared to five weeks ago, her pace, her flow and her confidence are like night and day!

Honestly though, after Day 1 of Week 1, I did feel a change in the air. I even remarked on the refreshing feeling our school atmosphere had when my husband got home that night. There was a sense of relief and enjoyment in both of us. But by Week 3, there was no denying that this new approach really was working!

So now at the end of Week 5 (and the formal end of my trial period), I am beyond thrilled to let you all in on my excitement. I’ve been bursting for weeks!

Here’s a link to how each week was specifically mapped out:

Five Week Reading Trial

As I close, I hope more than anything that this is not just a braggy post. I mean let’s face it, I HAVE to brag on my girl because I’m so proud of her! But more than that, I hope it gives you a sense of the reality that homeschooling succeeds when it’s flexible. Likewise, if you’ve got multiple children, what works for one may or may not work for the others.

My little love bug couldn’t afford for her mommy to give up on her. I had to be in tune with how she best received information. I especially had to know what didn’t work for her. Had I not taken the time to become a student of my student, we’d still be banging our heads against the wall!

If you are at your wit’s end, my prayer for you is that this post will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in the saddle. Your hesitant reader is counting on you!

YOU GOT THIS!!!

Blessings,

Courtney

Hope for My Hesitant Reader – a follow up

Black Mother And Child Doing Homework

Some months back, I wrote a post about the hesitant reader living in my home. It was hard but also encouraging for me to list the ways in which my girl was on her way to reading, though not yet fluently.

Well here we are, a good deal later and she’s still not fluent. She’s much further along but just not quite there yet. So I felt the urgency to keep it real and share what’s been happening over the course of time but also share the hope I have for her and what she WILL be able to do with ease one day.

Two weeks ago, I was at my wits end!

I had had it with the reading program we were using. It wasn’t clicking for my remarkable six-year-old. You see, she’s really intelligent. And I don’t say that just because I’m her proud mama. I say that because it’s REALLY true!

This kid is so smart!!

We practice the Charlotte Mason Approach in some areas so when it comes to narration (basically your kid/s retelling all they’ve heard and remember from an oral reading), let me tell you, this girl can go on and on! She remembers every single nook and cranny of the reading. There’s times my mind wanders while listening because she hasn’t skimped on any details.

CM

Not only that, she is witty, hilarious even and it comes so naturally. For someone not even able to always lace her own shoes it’s a wonder to me she picks up on punch lines and humor and quirky observations that can be transformed into stand-up comedy.

Any who, with all this in mind, I was confounded as to why whenever it came to picking up where we left off with our reading program it was a fight, push back was always present and amnesia from what we studied the previous day was her modus operandi.

Honestly, I have spent countless hours in prayer when it comes to this school year. I’ve felt like a major failure when it comes to teaching this particular middle child how to read. I didn’t go through the same battles with her older sister. Academics and the like come differently for her and that’s okay. But for my poor baby who so desperately wants to read, I was feeling the pressure of teaching her and badly wanting her to experience success.

Not to mention the anxiety I feel whenever she is around kids her age and sometimes even the casual four-year-old who’s already reading with ease. To be honest, I felt defeated as not only her teacher but also as her mother. Here I am participating in an unconventional form of home education, yet, with nothing to show for when it came to what my kid could do.

The ugliness of how much selfish pride oozes from that statement is almost too embarrassing to write.

But its real. 

At the end of the day, I was worried about her. But beyond that, I was worried about ME.

How would people view ME?

What would people think of ME?

…and ultimately,

What, if any good was I if I couldn’t even teach my own daughter how to read?

addiction-selfishness

So about two weeks ago, I made a decision to change. I had to change up our whole approach. I mean, the curriculum. The staleness of it. The way it didn’t mesh or connect with her personality. But most importantly, my heart posture towards my own abilities and the lack there of. As well as I had to change my mind about my need for my Savior to intervene in this seemingly non-spiritual issue that had become the ultimate issue of my spiritual life.

Would I root my identity in my performance as a homeschooler and hers as a student? Would I insist on disciplining my daughter for her short comings? Would I allow her the freedom and relief from the pressure I was applying? And would I endeavor to teach her how she would best learn the information?

The answer is yes!

Yes to ALL of that!

ProjectConfidence_SayYes

After one particular time in prayer, I literally jumped up from the kitchen table, began grabbing many of the supplies and resources I already had on hand and began busily hammering out a whole new phonics and reading “trial” curriculum. I say this because I wanted to test this new approach for five weeks before committing to it for the remainder of the school year.

I can truly say this was an answer to prayer! What I had been stressing about over these past few months and worrying and praying and worrying some more over, God answered me that day.

We started this new approach on October 2nd and I could already tell the difference of how refreshing it felt after only day one. Tears were shed by me on Thursday the 5th but that comes with the territory *shrugs shoulders*.

All that to say, we have been on an upward trajectory and I can do nothing but thank God for his intervention in my daughter’s academic life. But even more meaningful to me was his intervention in my heart as it related to seeing Him as primary for all my needs. Even my needs as a homeschool mom.

Over these last two weeks, this scripture encouraged me and I pray it does the same for you…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

humble-pie

I’m looking forward to sharing what exactly we are doing in the coming posts starting tomorrow. But I had to share this confessional sort of post first and foremost.

Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Courtney

 

Allow me to (re)Introduce Myself!

tumblr_ndyo61huJj1qke12no1_500

All I can hear is the first line of that Jay-Z song as I title this post! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, its cool. 😉

For a while now, I’ve toyed around with the idea of changing my blog’s name to more accurately associate it with what I’m most passionate about. Writing is still my thing. Hence the reason behind the creation of this blog to begin with. But as my time as a blogger has evolved, I’ve found my posts to be less about my writing journey and more about my life in general. It’s only fitting to have a blog name that depicts that, right?

So allow me to (re)introduce myself…

Welcome to Able to Teach!

IMG_1434

Don’t worry, I’m still the same old Courtney.

Silly. Energetic. A lover of art and exploring new things. Excited about teaching and learning. In love with my three crazy kids aka my rabbits. Head over heels for my boo-thang, my main man, the Mr. to my Mrs. and Passionately committed to Jesus.

But as for this blog, I’d love for you to be crystal clear on what the content is you’ll be reading. And to date, its been about simply that, my motherhood experience and the crazy-fun homeschooling journey I’ve been on the past five years.

My passion is to teach my children. But more than that, it’s my desire to inspire any and everyone who’d ever say, “You know what, I think I am too!” So though the blog name “Able to Teach” is new to you, its been stirring in my heart for some time now.

So keep riding with me folks, we’re in for a good time!

Thanks for reading and following me thus far! I look forward to many more good conversations ahead.

Here’s to our newest journey…together!

Blessings,

Courtney

5 Ways Africans Impacted the Age of Exploration

back to school. color pencils

Well its finally here…

The first day of school that is! At least for the Dunlap Homeschool Academy. We had a blast yesterday and are ready for more! Check out our Facebook page to see what we’re up to and then meet me back here!

This school year, we’ll be plunging into the Age of Exploration, the dates encompassing roughly 1400-1600. It was the time period in which Europeans began exploring the world.

6180486

As I’ve approached this huge chunk of time, I’ve found myself aware of the fact I’m raising three African American children who are not ignorant of the strength in legacy they’ve been given through our African heritage. So, I plan to continue bolstering that as they learn about their world and the contributions others have made in it as well as those made by folks who look like them.

My hope is that this blog post will give you some ideas for how to explore this exciting time for those who lived it with a mind towards still celebrating the contributions of people of color.

Here we go!

1.) Exploring the explorers

The year was 1527. Five Spanish ships were preparing to set sail to a new land, America. One brave sailor on board was named Esteban Dorantes. Born in Morocco, he was later captured and brought to Spain. His captor was also making this particular excursion. Through a series of dangerous events, Esteban soon became more than just a slave. He was essential to all his fellow travelers! Read more about his fascinating life in Five Brave Explorers by Wade Hudson.

9780590480321

2.) Bartolomeu Dias’ Whirlwind Trip to the Cape of Storms aka the Cape of Good Hope

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to sail at the time of the explorers, then you should ask Bartolomeu Dias. Portugal wanted in on this great Age of Discovery and entered the race to see the world through the likes of Bart Dias. You can hear more about his landmark voyage in this very cute child created and kid narrated animation here:

When you’re finished, head on over to Nat Geo Kids to learn some pretty amazing facts about South Africa in general. You’ll gain a greater appreciation for what was still a mystery to the rest of the world in the days of Bartolomeu Dias’ expedition.

3.) Africans in Europe?

Believe it or not, Africans integrated the Christian and European worlds quite early, before the 15th century in fact and dating back as early as Roman times. The African presence in Europe was such a normal occurrence, some Africans in Europe were even elevated to the status of nobel men and scholars!

Take the Duke of Florence for instance! Read more about his life on this highly informative blog post as it introduces us to some more of these influential Africans in Europe.

220px-Allessandro-the-moor

Too much info? Don’t tune out just yet, catch a shorter highlight of the life of Alessandro de Medici better known as the Duke of Florence here:

4.) Prince Henry’s West African Explorations

Prince Henry the Navigator, Portuguese prince, explorer and soldier was not necessarily known for his own personal travels. Rather, he literally put Portugal on the maps in terms of opening the door of exploration to the West African Coast.

Henry_the_Navigator1

Though not necessarily a friend of the people on the continent of Africa, his accomplishments are worth mentioning given what he contributed to the art of mapping and African exploration itself.

In fact, Portuguese explorers were the first to sail to The Gambia River. You can learn more about his exploits here.

If it weren’t for Prince Henry, who knows when Liberia would have been made known to the rest of the world?

henrynroute

And based on my earlier post about Liberia its a pretty cool country, so we have Prince Henry to thank for exposing its treasured existence to all of us!

5.) Long Live the Queen!

Queen Nzingha the mighty warrior queen of Matamba was not someone to mess with! She defended her people against the threat of Portuguese colonization in the late 1500s. Her people were forever indebted to her for her bravery, cunning wartime strategy and unyielding desire to see her people thrive in the face of adversity. If you don’t come away from her story inspired, I’m not sure what else to tell ya!

I know, this clip was too short! Didn’t it leave you wanting more? Never fear, you’ll get the full story about Queen Nzingha’s life through Desree Crooks’ beautifully illustrated book, Nzingha: The Great Warrior of Angola. 

51JTegESkYL._SR600,315_PIWhiteStrip,BottomLeft,0,35_PIStarRatingFIVE,BottomLeft,360,-6_SR600,315_SCLZZZZZZZ_

I’ve got some bad news for y’all…that’s all I’ve got for now. But lucky for you, there is some good news! We’ll be studying this thrilling time in history all school year so check back in with us from time to time and see what else we’re uncovering.

Thanks for reading! And if you haven’t done so yet, go ahead and hit that “follow” button so you won’t miss our next adventure! See you then.

Blessings,

Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Went to Africa – Travel Series! (Part 6)

40847c79f72115ef2abe6599523c299a

We. Went. To. Africa…Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo style

(Part 6)

Woo! What a summer!

Can you believe that in only one day, September 1st will be upon us? Well you know what that means. Soon we’ll be seeing yellow school buses and flashing lights, feeling the crisp air on our faces for our morning commutes and taking in the sights of brightly colored foliage for miles and miles.

In all this pending change, I’ve wanted to continue with our Africa series for sometime now. Good new folks, you’ll have to wait no more…here it is!

Heads up, make sure you keep up and stay with the group, this is gonna be a quick trip!

Trip #1: Cameroon

Meet your tour guides:

Welcome back travel buddies! You’re in for an exciting time as we explore the beautiful county of Cameroon located in Central Africa. If you’re a bit hesitant to dive in, relax, our tour guides have got it covered. Meet teenagers Louise-Marie and Elodie as they introduce you to what they enjoy most about their country and the hopes they have for what it can be in the future. Check out more of their tour.

Louise-Marie and Elodie will leave you wanting more so be sure to explore the rest of what this website has to offer here:

cameroon

That’s some wild wildlife!

Cameroon is home to screaming red and green monkeys. With this in mind, I thought it’d be interesting to hear from the howler monkey (found in southern Mexico to northern Argentina) who proudly holds the title of loudest animal on earth! That’s wild! Find out more about these amazing creatures here:

And then swing on over to your local library and grab this fun book!

61z8DI8zKfL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

A Tricky Folktale!

You know a trip to Africa wouldn’t be complete without a tale of trickery and wits. Here’s one you’re sure to enjoy!

51AFKQM4EBL

Sense Pass King, A Story from Cameroon by Katrin Tchana

Sense Pass King tells the story of a clever little girl named Ma’antah. Witty, resourceful and full of confidence from birth, Ma’antah is given a new name, Sense Pass King and becomes the ire of her king. Over the course of several adverse circumstances he puts before her, she proves successful over them all. Find out how she outwits the king and leads her kingdom to a bright future.

Trip #2: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Welcome Center!

You’ll find out all you need to know about the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DR Congo for short) right here on the Our-Africa website! The DR Congo and the Republic of Congo could easily be confused. When I first heard about them, I definitely was! But as this site explains, they’re often referred to as the Congo Basin. Phew! That makes more sense! Explore this site to learn more.

cb0221cdde11e846c32a4b5dc25d6dda.jpg

Grab Your Gear!

If you’re feeling frisky, grab your gear and get ready to hike the world’s most dangerous volcano, Mount Nyiragongo! If you’d rather go the safer route, check out the trek a few daring souls were willing to brave on their hike to Virunga’s most popular tourist attraction.

Nyiragongo-Volcano-Congo.adapt.945.1

Raging Congo Creatures

As we end our journey to the DR Congo, we must make one last stop at the mighty Congo River. Its raging waters and formidable creatures have forged some of the most uniquely adapted fish and animals. Catch a glimpse of what it has to offer.

** NOTE: For sensitive young ones you may want to skip this video and head on over to this one instead:

60 Seconds of Life on the Congo River

Thanks for trekking with us! We hope to see you back real soon for another installment of the We Went to Africa Series! And if you’ve missed any of our other trips be sure to check them out here: We. Went. To. Africa Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Blessings,

Courtney