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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Easter Week!!!




This past week has been crazy busy.:) We have been getting ready to go out of town ,and I am subbing at Jeremy's school both today and tomorrow. We leave tomorrow for about 11 days and head to Italy to meet my parents there. It has been crazy packing and teaching, and of course, going on an Easter egg hunt last weekend.:) Both Jeremy and Elizabeth had a great time.:) Happy Easter to you!!!:)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ishayhayi Beach






Yesterday, the Ishahayi Beach School Foundation took a trip out to the beach school. I always look forward to going out to the school because I love to see all the children with their beautiful smiles.:) When we all first got on the boat to get out to the beach we had to to don our beautiful face masks. The harmattan ( which is supposed to be over by now....mentioned in a post several months ago) is very think right now. The dust in the air is just hanging there and it is like a blanket keeping any other pollutants in the air as well. so, the ride was really interesting while we were all wearing masks an life vests to get out to the beach.

When we got there, the children were so excited to see us as was Lady Salami and all of the teachers at the school. We brought first aid supplies. There is a nurse on the foundation who was going to give a lesson on first aid for cuts and wounds...but she was sick yesterday. So, I volunteered to teach the teachers at the school what to do to take care of cuts if they happen at school. I couldn't believe how much fun i had. There were a few teachers who brought in notebooks and took notes on what to do. It was so humbling for me to listen to questions the teachers asked and realize they did not know how to handle situations that you and I would take for granted...but they really didn't know what to do. I really felt like I helped them yesterday. Lady Salami was so grateful to us for bringing the supplies that she had a few children from school cut some mangos down from the mango tree nearby and she also had a few boys us machetes to cut coconuts for us to take with us. ( I hope the first aid kit won't be used too soon!!!) On the way back home on the boat, some of us were talking about what a great visit we had out to the school. One of the ladies brought up the fact that it was so neat for the children to see that Lady Salami gave us the mangos and the Coconuts because they could see that the first aid supplies were not a hand out...but that they could also give us something. When I got home yesterday, I realized that the children had given me a happiness that can only come from doing something for another person...and I hope they could see that seeing them smile made me smile also. And everyone knows that a genuine smile is something that is priceless.:)

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lagniappe

A little lagniappe for you (for those of you not familiar with New Orleans..this term means "something given by way of good measure. " However , I always thought of it as a little extra information.)

Jeremy: He was on the phone with my mom tonight telling her about things he had done today. We had just brought out our box of Easter decorations and the kids had been playing with the plastic eggs. He told her about the eggs. She asked him if there was candy in them. He said, "No...no candy.....mommy said they have too much salt . Elizabeth and me just play with the eggs."

Elizabeth: We took the kids to the pool this afternoon, and they were both playing in the small pool. Guy and I were talking and as we were talking , Guy noticed that Elizabeth had taken one of Jeremy's Crocs and dunked it under water. Some of the water was coming out of the shoe....but the the rest of it was going into her mouth...yes, she was drinking POOL WATER OUT OF A SHOE!!!! That is my little genius.:)

A Run Towards the Cure





Yesterday, at Jeremy's school, there was a race/ walk for Breast Cancer. Cancer in general was a word that didn't really mean much to me until five years ago when my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Since then, I have known two other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the women I know is a mother of a little boy who is in class with Jeremy, and the other one is a dear lady i taught kindergarten with. I decided that this year I would participate in a cancer walk to help raise money for cancer research. I had never done a walk like this before, and it was so inspiring to see everyone there gathered for one important cause. It was a breast cancer walk, but the real purpose was to raise awareness of cancer...and to help women in early detection. I put my grandma's name on my t-shirt and the name of another woman who has breast cancer as well. My grandma may not have breast cancer, but she is a woman and all women need support for what they are going through.:)

A Birthday Present?





So, On Friday, there was a spouse's coffee morning at one of the lady's homes. I was particularly excited about this coffee because there was going to be a professional Nigerian head wrap artist there. I was a little embarrassed about how excited I was. I felt like a little girl who was going to get to put on make-up for the first time. I have been looking at the Nigerian women who have these beautiful head wraps on when they are walking down the street. It almost made me wish that it was a typical thing to have head wraps in the U.S. I have to admit, though, when she was wrapping my head...it felt like my head was the gift and it was being wrapped like a present.:)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What was that??


On Tuesday, we were taking Jeremy to play with a friend on Ikoyi and as we were driving, Fatai said, "Madame, did you see that?" I said, "What?" and he said " the woman driving the okada!" I looked out my window and sure enough...there was a woman driving an okada!! I had not seen a woman driver on an okada ...and it is not very common around here. I told Fatai to slow down and he did ( he is used to me wanting to take pictures of everything.:)), but by the time I had my camera ready, he had already passed her. So, I asked him if he could pull over so I could take a picture of her out the window. She had stopped about 50 yards behind us at a fruit stand. I tried to zoom in to get a picture of her...but we weren't close enough. So, Fatai backed the car up a little bit so I could get a picture.:) I did get a picture (although it still isn't very good), and the woman was laughing at me. You never know....you may only see one woman okada driver around here every ten years...so I had to get the picture.:)

Something You Don't See Everyday


I was on the way home from Elizabeth's playgroup yesterday and was surprised to find this sight. These men were outside one of the embassies we passed by, and you might be wondering what they are doing on the side of the road. I wondered that also ...until I saw one of the men with a camera. They were taking passport photos right there on the side of the road; complete with a white background and a man holding an umbrella to block the glare of the sun! That is definitely something you won't see everyday!:)

An Unusual sign


I was in the car the other day after taking Jeremy to school ,and I noticed this sign. ( Just in case you can't read what it says, it says "No Trading, No Refuse Dumping, No Littering and No Begging") It has probably been there for a long time..but I had not noticed it before. It is definitely something I wouldn't find in the U.S. I just had to take a picture of it to share with you.:) The picture of the "No trading" and "No Begging" was what struck me as much different from signs you would see in the U.S.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Big Party













On Saturday, we had a Prncess Party for the little princess who turned two.:) We invited some little girls from the compound to come over and wear their princess costumes. The girls had a ball making tiaras, puting on make-up, pinning the crown on the princess, looking for the "poison" apple, and passing around the glass slipper.:) Jeremy was so cute. He asked me every day starting on Wednesday if it was Elizabeth's birthday. He was so worried he would miss the party. I think he enjoyed the party even more that she did. I am sure he also enjoyed being the only boy at the princess party.:) The little princesses feasted on hot dogs, french fries, and chocolate cupcakes which they decorated themselves, and also pink vanilla ice cream. I think they all had a "royal" time.:)

Do you see a difference in these pictures?



The top picture is a picture of a one year old on Friday night and the bottom picture is a picture as a two year old on Saturday morning. I put a one year old to bed on Friday night and she woke up a two year old on Saturday....my little girl turned two.:) Happy Birthday Sweetheart!!!!!




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Deaf and Dump

Today I was feeling a little bit down about missing my grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousins. I was in the car with Fatai when I looked out the window and saw a man standing next to the car in front of us at a stop light (yes, the cars actually stopped at a stop light today). He had a sign tied with a rope around his neck. I couldn't really see what it said from our car. He started walking towards our car...I had to look at the sign twice to really believe what it said. It said,"I am deaf and dump". At first I wanted to laugh.... I just couldn't believe that someone would put that on a sign...let alone wear it around his neck. Then, I thought about getting out of the car and at least correcting his sign. Then, I thought..that is really pitiful. Then, I contemplated taking a picture of the man because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. But, I decided against it...that would be too mean. Finally, I thought to myself," I thought my day was bad...at least I am not deaf and dump."

More Random Happenings

Here are a few things the kids have done in the past few days:

Elizabeth: Last night the kids were getting ready to take a bath. Jeremy was already in the tub. Guy was in the bathroom to give them a bath. I was in Elizabeth's room cleaning up from the day and putting toys away in her room. I had just dressed the doll she got for Christmas. She came in and gave me her doll and said, "Helpy!!!" as she tried to take the dress off the doll herself. I helped her take the dress off, and next she said," Shoo Shoo!!" So we took off the shoes and the diaper. Now, the doll was naked. She left the room with the doll. In the back of my mind I thought," I hope she doesn't put the doll in the tub." Just as I finished that thought, I heard Jeremy say, "Mommy, can the doll go in the tub??" Guy didn't even catch her put it in the tub...she was too quick. She looked at me with huge eyes because she couldn't think what she did wrong (I have to add that the doll was a Bitty Baby from American Girl..with hair)..so the doll was not cheap. I looked at the doll floating in the tub and then looked back at Elizabeth...and I just couldn't be mad at her. As I was brushing out the doll's hair so it would dry...I thought to myself...what a smart little girl I have.:)

Jeremy: Guy went in to check on him after he was in bed last night. Jeremy told him, "Daddy, I am praying to God." Guy asked him what he was praying for. Jeremy said,"I am praying that Elizabeth doesn't pinch me, and I pray that Elizabeth doesn't pull my hair." Guy said, " You can also thank God for things." Jeremy looked at him and thought for a minute and said," I Thank God for all of my toys."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Waholla

Waholla......what does that mean??? It is a Nigerian term for big trouble. I heard Fatai use that word today when we were driving in the car. There had been an accident (not us) in front of us. Of course many Nigerians are drawn to a confrontation ...so for no reason at all...several other drivers proceeded to get out of their cars and approach the driver who was at fault. This resulted in about 7 cars without drivers who were blocking the road. About 10 minutes later and a few shoves and pushes.....the drivers all returned to their vehicles. Fatai honked at the driver in front of us getting back into his car...and the other driver flipped us off!!!! I couldn't believe it....it is not just a U.S. thing. I mentioned it to Fatai and he said, " I know ...he was shaking his finger at me." and he put up his index finger to show me. I knew that wasn't the finger that was used...and had to laugh quietly to myself. As we approached the bridge...there was a "go slow"
(traffic jam). The public works people decided that it would a good idea to go out and change the light bulbs in the street lights during the day when the traffic was so busy. Fatai was funny. He said," They are only changing the lights now to show that they are working." I had to laugh because I am sure that is exactly why they were doing that then. They could have done it at night when the traffic isn't so bad. Finally, after we crossed the bridge, we were stopped by a man in the middle of the road with a flashlight. He put his hand up for us to stop and then took the flashlight and aimed it to the sky as if he was looking for something...but of course there was nothing there! He wasn't a police officer...just a mad man! So, that was my experience with waholla! What a day!:)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time




Time is such a strange thing. When you want it to pass...it seems to go by so slowly. When you want it to slow down...it seems to slip buy too quickly. Last week, if I could have made time stand still, I would have. I could not have asked for a better week. It is a week that I will tuck away in my most precious memories of my life. The fact that I was able to spend an entire uninterrupted week with my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents and my grandmother in particular was such a gift...there are no words to truly describe how special it was to see her with my children and really get to enjoy them. Time is always the constant in life...there is no way to speed it up or slow it down. But, we can choose how to spend our time and I have to say that last week was the best way I could have ever spent my time. We never know how much time we will be here...so I always have to remember to tell people I love them and let people know I care. My grandma is a true inspiration to me...she has battled ovarian cancer for five years and she still faces every day as a gift...I guess that is why I have heard that it is termed "the present".

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where in the world Am I??

I realized today that it has been over a week since I have done a post on the blog. I didn't even have a lot of time past week to say that I was going to be out of Lagos all this week. I am in Michigan with the kids visiting my very strong, very brave grandmother in Michigan. Yes, I made the trans-Atlantic trip from Africa to Atlanta with a stop in Detroit and finally landing in Kalamazoo , Michigan with a four year old and an almost two year old all by myself!!!!:) It was the first time I made the trip with the kids all by myself straight through to the states. I have to say that I was a little nervous about travelling alone with both the kids the whole journey...but I was pleasantly surprised that both of them did really well. The bus ride to the air port last Friday was okay. Lizzy pulled Jeremy's hair a few times and then had to add a pinch in here and there...but nothing too bad. When we arrived at the airport, I never knew it could be so unbearably hot in one building! Of course, there is not a rhyme or reason to the way they have things set up...it is always different. But, I did figure out what line I needed to be in. There was a line of people 6 deep I was standing in waiting for officials to rifle through our bags and see what we had all packed. I was standing there and just sweating...i had not been that hot...at least I can't remember being that hot...not event the weekend of small world.:) My shirt looked like I had gotten out of the shower and I looked at Lizzy and her hair was wet and standing up all over the place. Jeremy had trickles of sweat coming down his chin. I decided about 30 seconds into waiting in that line that I didn't care if the kids crawled all over the Lagos airport floor as long as they didn't start screaming and crying...I could get through this.( Afterall...isn't that why God invented sanitizing wipes??) I was thinking it was just me being one of the only oyibos in the airport that couldn't take the heat until I heard a Nigerian man say to the officials looking through the bags," Could you hurry this up...we are toasting in here!" Amen to that!!! Then, I knew it was HOT!!!! I am not kidding when I tell you it took about an hour just to have our bags checked...then, I had to go to the ticket counter...by this time...my mascara was running down my face...not from crying...from sweating. I had never seen a ticket attendant move so slowly..but we did get our boarding passes. Next, we went through the security gate and had our carry ons x-rayed and went through the magnetometers. Jeremy is so good about taking off his shoes and putting his back pack up to get checked. Finally cleared through all of that. I realized I didn't bring the ham and cheese rolls I had Happiness make ..so I went to one of the few restaurants in the Lagos airport and they had spaghetti. I was happy because I knew the kids would eat spaghetti. I ordered and the man told me " Sorry, no spaghetti sauce." I knew I wasn't getting them anything to eat there that night. I had granola bars and goldfish and that was our dinner. Since the security is such an issue, we arrrived at the airport early at about 5 :10 p.m. ...but our flight didn't leave until 10:30 p.m. so we had a lot of time to kill. The kids played with toys in their backpacks and Lizzy made friends with a lot of Nigerian ladies. We went to sit at our gate at about 8 p.m and at about 8:15 the lights all went out...so we were sitting in darkness. Very typical in Nigeria. Jeremy was a little scared...but we sang some songs and after about 45 minutes and a few Nigerian airport workers yelling at each other...the lights came back on. At about 9:15 they made everyone get back in lines to recheck passports and boarding passes and then to go through our carry on luggage again and then to pat our bodies down...I also had to remove my shoes again!!! The kid and I went to get on the plane and the doors were literally chained shut. I was talking to another man there and asked him if he knew why they searched the bags since they had already been through the x-ray machine and why they do a body pat down again after we went through the magnetometer. I should have known the answer. He said that the magnetometers don't work at all and that the x-ray machines are not that good. But, he didn't have an answer as to why we couldn't get on the plane yet...I can explain it " That's Nigeria!" Anyway, we did get to board and then we were all settled in ...at about 10:20 the pilot came on and said we were all ready to go...but the plane didn't have enough fuel..there was an automated refueling machine...but of course....do you think it worked??? Not a chance in *&%$!!!! So, the only other logical thing to do was to shuttle the fuel in in trucks. So, the kids and I sat in the plane until 12:30 am. until the plane was fully fueled and we could take off. I will say that both the kids were very well behaved and slept most of the time...thank goodness!! However, I did miss my connection in Atlanta and had to take a later connection to Detroit and then finally to Kalamazoo where my sweet Aunt, Uncle and cousin were all waiting for us.:) It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good to see them! I felt pretty good after the flight which surprised me......and I was so happy the kids did so well.:)
Now, why am in Michigan? I brought my kids to see my grandma. She has battled ovarian cancer for five years now, and although she is still fighting this terrible disease, I just knew in my heart it is time to bring the children back to see their great grandmother. She has been a very important person in my life....she has given me advice on friends, life, and she has even been on the other end of the line to hear me cry about a terrible haircut.:) You would never know by looking at her how much she has suffered and fought through this illness...she is not the type of person who wants any sympathy.....and she doesn't have sympathy from me...she has all of my love and admiration. It is a blessing she has been able to fight this disease for five years...she has really beaten alot of the odds some doctors had given her at the beginning. That is why when my daughter was born...there was no question that her name would be Elizabeth (after my grandmother). I was told I had a less than one percent chance of ever becoming pregnant...and my Elizabeth is here. These two Elizabeths are very strong girls!!:) I wanted my children to spend time with their great grandmother, and for her to enjoy them. And, I have to say that both my grandparents have laughed and had so much fun with the kids. And, to me, that makes this whole trip worth it. We are only here for such a short time, and it is so important to let the ones we love know we cherish them. In the upcoming days, I will share some pictures of the children with my wonderful Grandmother and Grandfather. There aren't too many people I would fly half way around the world for...but Grandma...you are definitely one of them!!!:) I love you!:)