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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving !!


Happy Thanksgiving to you all! It doesn't really seem quite like Thanksgiving over here since the weather is so hot, but we are going to have some turkey today. Some friends of ours on our compound have invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. Jeremy has been learning about the first Thanksgiving at school and he wanted to show off his Pilgrim hat. He is excited for the feast...or as he calls it...the big party!:)

The Harmattan is Coming...




Can you see it in the pictures? It kind of looks like a fog or a haze. You can't quite see the ocean anymore from my front doorstep. What is Harmattan you may ask? Well, according to Wikipedia online it is "a dry, dusty West African trade wind which blows from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and the middle of March. When it blows hard, it can push dust all the way to North America." Yes, that's right, it is dust and sand blowing in from the Sahara desert. I guess that is the technical definition, but to me it is a pain that will be here until the early spring. It is causing Elizabeth to have yet another runny nose and cough (ugh!) She has really developed some allergies since we moved here. But, on the other hand, who would have thought that I could walk out on my patio and step in dust from the Sahara Desert?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Real Performance

Today was the carnival at Jeremy's school. His class performed their little dance to "See Me Beautiful". There were so many people there that I couldn't get up too close to the stage, but at least you can see how they did for the "big day".:)
video

Jeremy's Rehearsal

Here is a quick video of Jeremy's rehearsal with his class for their performance at the school carnival. The name of the song is called "See Me Beautiful". It goes along with the theme of the carnival "Bright and Beautiful". Hopefully, you can see him. He is in the front row.:)

video

Monday, November 16, 2009

How much is a turkey going for in Lagos?


About 45,000 Naira or $250 U.S. dollars!!!! I am not kidding. At a local grocery store here in Lagos, which imports many of its groceries, it is selling turkeys for $250. I am really glad we brought our Butterball from Houston in our suitcase ( now in our freezer, of course).:) Maybe I can scalp my turkey here on the compound.:) Ha ha

The Beach "Road"


Last week, we went to another compound a little ways from our compound to see some friends we have met here. Since the traffic is so bad on the road we usually take, Fatai took us on a short cut on the beach road. I have to say the use of the word "road" to describe what we drove on should be used very loosely. We basically drove right on the beach. I know this picture doesn't really do it justice, but I wanted to show you some idea of what we were driving on. Thank goodness for four wheel drive, or we would have still been pushing ourselves out of that sand.:)

Learning to Swim


Last Thursday, Jeremy had swimming class at school along with 25 of his classmates. They started swimming about a month ago, and Jeremy is getting a little better each time. I had to take a picture of him "floating" in the water. This is the most relaxed he has been in the water so far.:) He was so proud of himself.:)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Secret to Living in Nigeria

I think I have discovered one of the many secrets to living in Nigeria ( I am not sure what the other secrets may be). Anyone who knows me also knows how I thrive on routine and having a schedule for everything. It was a way I think I felt I had some kind of control over my life. In Houston, most of the time I could get everything done that I had planned on doing. Somehow (miraculously) most of the time, I was able to take care of everything throughout the day ( cleaning, laundry, kids, errands, etc.). For some reason, while I have been here, I find myself tired all the time, and I haven't been able to figure out why. I have my stewardess/cook/nanny to do the cleaning, cooking and help with the kids. I have a driver to take me places. Yet, still the day seems to go right past and leave me wondering what happened....not to mention how tired I feel here all the time. But, now I think I know why I have felt so tired. I am trying to do everything I used to do in a day , but I am in a third world country. Even with help, the smallest things can be the biggest head aches. Last week, I stopped at the grocery store after picking Jeremy up from school to get some juice. I am not kidding when I tell you we were stuck in gridlocked traffic for an hour and half...and all I had to show for it was three boxes of juice!!! That is when it kind of hit me. One of the secrets to living in Nigeria is not to expect to get so much done in a day. This secret has been good for me in a strange way. I am learning how to go more with the flow and learn that things can change very quickly around here....and letting go a little bit of the control I thought I had in my day. Maybe that is why most Nigerians don't really think about what will happen tomorrow...they only worry about today. Thank goodness for the help I have because I can't imagine dragging Elizabeth and Jeremy all around Lagos in the traffic...not to mention me driving the streets of Lagos!!!! Now that is a scary thought!:) Talk about not having control over anything!:)

Dressing Herself











One of Elizabeth's new hobbies is putting on at least 8 or nine different pairs of shoes a day. My friend in Houston gave me shoes that her little girl has grown out of before we moved over here. it now seems that all the shoes ( I am not kidding...there are at least 50 pairs) are on a constant rotation on Elizabeth's feet. The other day, she discovered the ruby slippers and she has been wearing them almost everywhere with almost any kind of outfit....even pajamas! She is definitely her own person.:) I just had to throw the pic of her wearing the boots in because she wouldn't take them off with that outfit....I don't know if I will be ready for her teenage years!:) ha ha

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Marine Corps Ball












Last night, Guy and I went to the Marine Corps ball. This party happens every year to celebrate the birth of the Marine Corps. This year, the Marine Corps, is celebrating its 234th birthday. It was fun to get dressed up and go out for the night with people we have met here in Lagos. The Lagoon Restaurant was decorated very nicely, and the food was surprisingly good also, considering we are in Lagos. In true Nigerian fashion, the power went off when we were in line to get food. It was so funny, because the man carving the goat ( yes, I said goat) just kept on carving like it was nothing. In about two minutes the power came back on and everyone was acting like nothing had happened. It really is an experience to live here. Anyway, the Ball was very fun, and I thought I would share a few pictures of Guy and myself, some of the people we know and the ceremony before the Ball started.:)

Soccer Pictures







Yesterday, Jeremy's team had pictures. I thought I would share them with everyone. Also, I bet you didn't know that Elizabeth is an honorary member of the team. Well, not really, but she really wanted to have her own picture sitting on the step like the older kids, so the photographer let her come on up. She always wants to be just like the big kids.:)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ishahayi Beach School












Yesterday, I went out on a trip to check on the Ishahayi Beach School at Ishahayi Beach. I am a member of the non-profit organization who aids this school. We raise money through the selling of the book, Nigerian Gems, to help purchase supplies, fuel for the generator ( this school is not hooked up to regular electricity.), etc. Lady Salami is the head teacher at the school. She is a missionary who started a school in this Yoruba fishing village. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes by boat to get to this village ( there are no roads to access it). She has worked very hard to provide an education for the children in this village. She gets on her boat everyday and picks up children who live in nearby villages as well to bring them to school at Ishahayi beach. ( The beach foundation is helping to supply life jackets to the school. The children were riding on the boat without life jackets.) This is my second trip out to the beach school to see how it is doing. When Ishahayi Beach School Foundation first started, the foundation helped Lady Salami build an actual building for her school. She was teaching the children outside without a structure to house them in. Since that time, the school now has 6 classrooms. One for early primary, a room for primary 1, a room for primary 2 and 3 , a room for primary 3 and 4 and a room for primary 5 and 6. I was able to talk to the teachers who are doing the best job they can do with very limited supplies. There are as many as 37 children in some of the rooms that are about as big as a modest size American kitchen. The ages in each grade vary as well . In early primary the age range is from 2 years to 8 years old. This is due to the fact that some of the older ones in this class have not been to school before. There are also some 8 year olds in primary 3 and 4. It just depends how quickly they are learning. There are some 18 and 19 year olds in primary 3 and 4 also. Primary 5 and 6 ( equivalent of 5th and 6th grade) is the smallest in number with just 6 in primary 5 and 12 in primary 6. The reason for this is that as the children get older, the culture of the village is that they need to start working and provide money for the family. The value of education is very different in this part of the world. It is so humbling for me to go out to the school to see the children there. They all always have smiles on their faces even though they may not have shoes on their feet. Some of the children have tribal marks on their faces ( The picture above of the little boy shows the tribal scars on his face. I had talked about tribal marks in an earlier post on this blog.)The tribal scars indicate which tribe a person is from. It is really exciting to see them learning ( even though it is not the same way of learning that I am used to). The children are usually copying letters or multiplication tables from a chalk board ( very reminiscent of 19th century education in America), but there is learning going on. There is also singing in the classrooms which is so important to learn early elementary skills. The children seem happy, and they are able to get a meal at school for 20 naira each (about 5 cents). Each day, one of the women from the village makes food for the children and brings it to the school. It is usually mostly rice with a little sauce on it. Lady Salami is always grateful for anything we can provide for her school. I realize how privileged I have grown up after seeing the children and adults in this village. I just wanted to share this small part of the world with you, and show you a place that is very close to my heart.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What do you do the day after Halloween???




Put up our Christmas tree , of course.:) My darling husband absolutely loves Christmastime. If he had it his way, we would put up the Christmas tree right after his birthday in September. But, we compromised and I told him he had to at least wait until after Halloween. He said if we put the Christmas tree up early it makes Christmas seem to last longer.:) And, who doesn't love a Christmas tree???:) By the way, what do you think of Jeremy's ensemble?? It is so fun when kids decide what to wear on their own, isn't it???? ha ha ha

Halloween in Lagos







Halloween in Lagos...just saying that sounds a little strange to me. It is so hot here right now....it just doesn't feel like Fall. Although, in Houston, many times, it wasn't too cool at this time of year either. But, something about being in Nigeria for Halloween is a bit odd.:) I really do like Halloween. For one day a year, everyone can use their imagination and pretend to be someone else. It is also a holiday that doesn't require a lot of gifts...people can just have fun together. But, of course....there is always the candy. The candy has always been my favorite part of Halloween...especially the chocolate.:) Jeremy dressed as a pirate and Elizabeth was a fairy princess( thank goodness I found that costume in Amsterdam, too) Both the kids were so excited to wear their costumes.:) Our compound had a small costume parade also so all the adults could see all the cute costumes the kids were wearing.:) Then, we were off to trick or treat. I will tell you that trick or treating here requires a whole lot more effort than in Houston. We started in the low rise where there is no elevator and to get to the top floor flats you walk up 52 steps....ugh!!! Not too fun when you are carrying a 19 month old also. But, we made it, and it was so worth it to see Jeremy and Elizabeth say trick or treat and get their candy. Of course, Elizabeth didn't understand that you wait to eat the candy until you get home. She cried to have her candy opened every time someone put candy in her bucket. There were so many pieces of candy with one bite taken out of them in her pumpkin. I definitely got my work out in the low rise. When we got to the high rise, it was a welcome relief....we could take the elevator.:) When we were done, Jeremy told me that his bucket was "too heavy". It was funny to go through the candy when we got home. You can tell everyone packed Halloween candy in their shipments because all the candy is melted and reformed inside the wrappers.:) Later on, we went and shared some of our Halloween candy with the children who live in the staff quarters. They were really excited to get sweets as they call it. The Nigerian children don't really celebrate Halloween, but I am sure they love to see all the crazy Americans come out in our costumes every year.:)

Oh...Elizabeth!!!


This week Elizabeth hasn't been feeling too good. I took her to the doctor on Thursday, and she is on antibiotics for another sinus infection. She is acting fine, but she is so congested and the doctor said that her throat was inflamed. It hasn't stopped her activity level, though. On Thursday night she was running around the flat chasing Jeremy when she fell on her cheek right onto the corner of the coffee table. I don't know if you can really see the bruise on her left cheek in this picture....but you can definitely tell she is full of spunk!:)

Halloween at School






On Friday, Jeremy's class celebrated Halloween. Jeremy was a pirate this year for Halloween.
(I had totally forgotten about Halloween when I was packing my shipment. So, I was so happy when I found a costume when we were in Amsterdam. The pirate costume was the only one I could find...so it was so good when Jeremy seemed excited to be a pirate.) The festivities at school started with a costume parade in the courtyard of the school. Then, all the students were able to trick or treat in a few of the classrooms. It was so nice to see how kind and loving the older kids were to the little ones as they passed out candy to the children. After trick or treating, the children changed back into their uniforms ( which went much more smoothly than I expected,,,there were no tears). Since I am one of the room moms, I stayed to help with the Halloween party. The students were able to decorate a pumpkin (which I was so happy about....the tradition of decorating a pumpkin at Halloween for Jeremy hasn't been broken yet. Who knew we would be able to find pumpkins in Nigeria???). It was so neat to have them hold and touch a pumpkin because this week they had learned all about how a pumpkin grows. The kids had a great time drawing shapes for the pumpkin faces. After we decorated pumpkins, the children were able to decorate a Rice Krispie treat with orange frosting and some chocolate chips for the face. They all had a great time. it was worth it to see how happy they looked!:)