Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
With Guy's company, every expat family receives a new car. Until the new car arrives, you use a "pool car". Some families wait a long time for the new car...in our case, we waited about 18 months...and in a country where nice new things are really hard to come by, it is a big deal for the drivers to be able to drive a brand new car. So, when Happiness came to me the other day and told me that Fatai was going to "wash the car with minerals". I thought, "That's great...they don't even use the hose water to wash the new cars?? They have to use bottled mineral water!" I was wondering how much it would cost me to buy the mineral water to wash the car every time it was dirty. When I asked Happiness about that...she started laughing...and I immediately knew I had gotten something wrong...
Before I explain what " washing the car with minerals" really means. I have to explain that words here are different than what I think they mean at times. The official language here is English ....British English and tie that in with over 400 tribal languages spoken in Nigeria...it can lead to some confusion. So, when I hear the word biscuit..I think of my mom's awesome buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven with melting butter....but here, when someone says biscuit...it means a cookie or sometimes crackers. If someone says nappy...it doesn't mean a short little nap...it is a diaper. If someone says they need a packer...it isn't a man coming to pack my house up to move...it is a dust pan. A jumper isn't a little dress my daughter would wear...it is a sweater. This is one that has gotten me a lot of weird looks especially from the guards on the compound......elevator. Here, the elevator is always called a lift...and many Nigerians don't have a clue what I am talking about when I say elevator. Of course there are also Nigerian words like okada ( motorcycle) and waholla( big problem) and others I can't think of right now...but I know you get the picture. Same language...different meanings...
Now, back to the "washing of the car with minerals". After Happiness was done laughing at me, She said "No, Madame, he isn't going to really wash the car." I looked at her really confused. "Washing the car means he is going to have a party and pass out soda to everyone." she said. Okay..I completely didn't get that one. Washing is the party and minerals means soda. So, I gave Happiness money to go out and get the supplies for a "car washing". I found out it has been a tradition on our compound for the driver of a new car to share "minerals" and "biscuits" with the other drivers and have a really happy " car washing". So, even after living here for 18 months...I am still learning something new.:)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It was interesting today that I was really feeling guilty that I sent her to school every day so early, and then I got an e-mail from a dear friend of my mom and dad's. She was an expat wife and totally understands what it is like to move with young kids. Her children are in college now, but she always drops me a line every now and then to let me know she is thinking of us over here and offers her support. Today she wrote me that she always felt like she was living two separate but parallel lives. One of her lives she said is that of a "suburban mom" and the other is that of a " nomadic expat". I thought that was very interesting to me and suddenly a light bulb went off in my head. That was exactly how I feel. Yesterday and today I have been thinking, "Who was that girl who got in her car and drove to the store herself? Who were those kids who were able to play outside in dust free air and play on a great playground? Who were those people who could take walks on safe streets without worrying about being robbed or hit by a runaway okada?" Of course, it was myself and my kids in our separate universe of "suburban life". When I come back here, it is really crazy to me how well the kids adjust to living their nomadic life. They don't ask questions about why we don't drive ourselves anywhere or why there aren't any other parks to play at or why we don't go on walks here. It is just their "life" here. I thought to myself today, in my parallel universe in the U.S., where would I be taking Elizabeth? Probably to library for story time or to the children's museum or the zoo. I certainly wouldn't put her in school every day at only two years old. Part of me feels a little guilty that I can't take her to those places like I did with Jeremy when he was small, but my friend's e-mail made me feel okay. She told me that her boys really have great memories of living all over the world. Elizabeth may not be doing the things I could do in the U.S.,but she is learning about a different culture and acceptance of people from literally all over the world who make up her class(as is Jeremy). So, maybe living in parallel universes isn't so bad...we can have the best of both worlds.
Monday, January 24, 2011
"You are welcome!" was a phrase I heard alot from many of the Nigerians I saw today around our compound. I know I wrote about it when I first arived here, but it always strikes me so funny to hear them say that. I immediately want to ask them" Did I say thank you?" but, the phrase literally means " YOU are WELCOME" as in "welcome back". The kids and I did indeed arrive back to the "Centre of Excellence" ( as you can see by the license plate on our car) last night.
I do have to say that with the exception of a DEF CON 4 meltdown at the security line in San Francisco ( Elizabeth, not me) the kids did a really good job on the flights back over here. The seat I had which attached to my carry on was absolutely a life saver with Elizabeth. It worked so well that i was just planning on rolling her right onto the plane in Atlanta to go to Lagos. My plan was foiled when the gate agents told all the passengers they would have to check all roller bags for the flight. I am still trying to figure that one out...but can't come up with a rational or logical conclusion. I always prepare myself for the craziness which ensues when we land in Lagos...I was unprepared for the craziness to begin before we even boarded the plane. So, I had to unhook the "ride on carry on" and carry it ( in my hands ) onto the plane while my roller bag was checked...other than that...that seat was a lifesaver!!!!:)
Friday, January 21, 2011
Today is the final day to be in fresh air and beautiful scenery.....tomorrow I fly back to the dust and harmattan of Lagos. My dad and I took a bike ride today...our usual route through the vineyards nearby and of course the destination was....a winery!!!:)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
On our flight over here from Lagos, we fly coach and we get meals and pillows and blankets. But, when we flew our shorter flights from Atlanta to Houston and Houston to Chicago and Chicago to San Francisco, you don't get things like that. Elizabeth was so confused. When the flight attendant walked past she yelled " That lady has my blanket!!! That lady has my pillow!!" When they were passing out drinks she said " Where's my food??" I told her I had gold fish for her and she said " No, that lady has my food, where's my pasta??" It is always funny to see what is going through the mind of a two year old...and I guess for all of her life...she has been on long flights where she gets those things...We'll see what happens on Saturday on our "short" flight from San francisco to Atlanta.:)
As I sit and write this post, I am psyching myself up for the long flight back on Saturday. We leave here at 2 p.m. local time and arrive in Lagos on Sunday at about 4:30 p.m. local time there. All in all, the total trip time from leaving my parents home to getting to our flat in Lagos is about 23 hours. ( That also includes layovers) Let's just hope I can keep my sanity...all prayers for that are welcome!!!:)
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
He did have a little time to relax....but, he was put to work helping to cook the turkey....
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
First, for the Love letter. I received this beautiful letter from Jeremy today. He is getting really good at sounding words out for himself and he gave this letter to me this morning because he said, " I love you so much!"
Now, for the lagniappe. Yesterday, the kids, my mom and myself all went to the mall so I could use a gift certificate for Victoria's Secret ( only for some comfy p.j.'s.....nothing x-rated here.):) By the way, Victoria's Swecret is not conducive to strollers either...I think I hit almost every panty table on on my way back to the comfy p.j. section. As I was walking to the back of the store, Elizabeth yells, " Look, mommy, all those little dresses....are they for me?" She was pointing over towards the wall, and when I saw what she was pointing at, I wanted to burst out laughing....but I didn't want to in front of her. She was pointing at all the little teddies hanging up. I told her, "Well, they do look like they are small enough to fit you, but they are for bigger ladies." She looked at me and was a little confused and then she laughed at me and said "You so silly mommy...those are for me....you buy me one?" In my head I said " NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!" but outside I said, " No, not today." It just wasn't the right time to start explaining all that to her.:)
Today, the kids and I went with my mom to her doctor's appointment for her leg ( it looks like she will need another hip surgery in the near future). The kids were really good while we were waiting for the surgeon to come back in the room. Meanwhile, a technician came in and took my mom for an x-ray. Not two minutes after my mom left the room ( I was reading a magazine...the kids were coloring...which never happens) Jeremy yells, " Mom, I think she's gonna do it!!!" I looked over in the corner and there was Elizabeth. She walked over to me and said " I pooped my pants." I just looked at her. As I was wishing I would have just broken down today and put her in pull ups...I asked her " Why did you do that?" She looked up at me and said " I dunno?" and put her hands up by her face. I wanted to keep a straight face but I just couldn't....I really don't think she knows.:) So, I was taking off her panties and put her pants back on her when I heard someone coming from outside in the hall. I quickly dumped the poop in a Zip Loc bag and put it in the garbage can. I put the panties in a Zip Loc for my diaper bag. ( Zip Locs are very handy to have on hand) As soon as I closed the trash can, mom and the tech came back in. My mom immediately looked at me and grabbed her nose when the tech turned around...she mouthed " Did she poop?" I said yes....she mouthed, " Where is it?" I pointed to the trash can. We both started laughing. After the tech left, I took the baggie and properly disposed of it in the bathroom.:) While we were still waiting for the doctor, we talked about Lagos and everything we would do when we got back. Elizabeth said very matter of factly, " Yeah, Jeremy has Legos....he plays with them." So, there you have it ....Lagos, Legos....barely a difference.:)
After the appointment, we took the kids to the park to play , and you guessed it, she did it again!!!! My mom and I just looked at each other and laughed. I guess that is a good life lesson...poop happens......and you just have to keep cleaning it up!!!:) Just remember to laugh alot while you are cleaning it up!:)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
I haven't purchased a pair of you in quite a while, so I was so excited this afternoon when my mom was able to watch the kids so I could go out and find the perfect pair of you. I searched through the store and found the cutest pair of you I could imagine. I couldn't wait to try you on in the fitting room. I thought I was was doing so good and that you and I would be best friends....but I could not have been more wrong. I was able to get you over my hips and thighs...but after I buttoned the top button, you gave me the WORST gift ever....the MUFFIN TOP!!!! I think I stood there staring at myself in the mirror for what seemed like forever. How could you be so unforgiving!!!! How can you be so cold!! I thought we have always had such a good relationship!!! I'll show you!!! Gone will be the holiday treats I have been snacking on since I got to my mom's house and gone will be all the second helpings of my mom's fabulous cooking ( God, please help me show some restraint!!). I am going to come back and find another pair...a more forgiving pair that will make me love jeans once again!!! The worst part of the whole thing is that at the same time I was standing in the fitting room hating you.....there was a 4.1 earthquake right here near my parents' home that I missed because I was too distracted by the bakery item appearing across my middle!!! We will meet again ....and next time I will win!!!!
very insincerely yours,
p.s Don't go on going on sale when I come back to find you...I'll be looking for another pair!
Friday, January 7, 2011
little toys, I consciously told myself that I need to remember times like these when they think something worth 10 cents is a treasure. All to soon, they will be coming to me and asking for money to go out on a date or for gas. One goal I have for myself in this new year is to pay attention to the moment I am in instead of always looking ahead to what is going to happen next. I have found myself doing that too often. It will be a hard goal for this type A planning girl to achieve, but I am going to try. I have to say it was a really nice day spent watching the kids have fun...and I wasn't thinking about what would happen next:)