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Saturday, April 30, 2011


Today was a day that sparkle and magic were in the air.:)  Some of you who know me may also know just how much I would wear a tiara everyday if it was socially acceptable.  I love to read about kings and queens and princes and princesses.  I love to read fairy tales to my children and see their eyes light up with wonder.:)  Yes, and sometimes, I do wish Elizabeth had adult size dress up dresses so I could dress up right along with her. (Yes, I can hear you all laughing!!!!) So, if you are not interested in a frivolous post about royalty in another country, you should probably stop reading right now...

However, if you are a little like me, you will totally understand my excitement about today.  I have to start with saying that I was in kindergarten when Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married.  I still do remember seeing snippets of their wedding replayed on television all those years ago.  So, you can imagine my excitement at the wedding of Prince William and Kate!!!!
 It was so nice of them to have their wedding on the same day and time as our monthly spouses coffee!!!!  Wouldn't you know it??? Lagos and London are in the same time zone!!!:)
 Yes, these are grown women all crowding around a television to watch the wedding!:)
 Yes, that is even a wedding cake!!!:)
Maybe it is the fairy tale; maybe it is the magic of a prince getting married,; maybe it is the appeal of the history of the monarchy in England; maybe it is the escape from all the tragedy and turmoil the world is going through lately. Whatever it was, it turned me right back into the five year old girl who watched a prince and princess get married almost 30 years ago!!!  And you know what, I think I saw that same sparkle in the other ladies eyes, too.:)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Food for Thought

While I was waiting outside Elizabeth's classroom to pick her up, I overheard some of the other moms talking about different foods here in Nigeria.  My ears perked up a little more to hear what they were saying because I have to admit, I really haven't had any of the "Nigerian" food here. Well, I have had suya ( chicken or beef which is marinated with zesty spices and then grilled on a skewer) which is really good.  But, beyond that, I haven't really ventured to try any other authentic Nigerian food while I have been here.  It was an interesting conversation these moms were having.  They were talking about how good yam was if you cook it the right way...

Below in the lower right hand corner is what Nigerian Yam looks is absolutely huge.  It isn't what you would call a yam in the states.  The yams in the U.S. are very yellow or orange when you cut into them.  The ones here are huge and for the most part pretty white when you cut them open.  They are also fairly really hard before they are cooked.

Yams at Lekki Market

One of the moms was saying that if you bake it in the oven with some tomato sauce it is really good, and her kids love it.  Another said that it is a really good source of folic acid.  Then, another one said that it is loaded with estrogen.  Yep, that's right...estrogen.  Then, another one said that was why there is such a high incidence in twins here in Nigeria.  After that, I was intrigued.  I had to come home and look this information up to see if there was really any truth to it at all.  I checked out a health website and it did say that yams/ cassava / and sweet potatoes have been used "for ages" to boost estrogen and that it is believed by some African tribes that these items can increase fertility. Another website which is actually another blog written by a woman who is a writer for Twins magazine had some information on the subject as well. She wrote that researchers have long thought that the diet rich in cassava ( a type of yam) has been the reason that the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria has the highest twin birth rate with 45 set of twins per 1000 births being twins.  Which means that almost 1 in every 11 Yoruba is a twin.  (To put it in perspective, only one in 33 births in the U.S. is a set of twins).  But, the author does go on to say that the women in the Yoruba villages who experience the higher incidence of twins eat cassava every day of their lives .  You never know...there may be some truth to it!:)

I just thought I would share this information with you as some food for thought.  Maybe we should try some of these yams in our daily diet...right Guy!!!! ha ha ha!!!:)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Whenever I come back to Lagos after being gone for a while, I usually expect to see certain things when I come back...
Man sleeping on side of road

Garbage men loading trash into garbage truck with old tarp

giant sea horse decoration in the middle of a roundabout

Okay, so that isn't really expected, but finding something odd here really doesn't surprise me much anymore.:)
Okada drivers waiting to give people rides

But the one thing I didn't expect today was for Guy to come home with a package from a friend from Houston.:) Usually, I know when to expect a package for a birthday or Christmas, etc.  My friends usually let me know when something is coming. But, I wasn't aware of anything coming in the mail.  I was so surprised by what Candice sent to me...
Reusable baggies
She read my blog when I first arrived in Lagos in July 2009 before my shipment came and I couldn't find Zip Loc baggies anywhere.  She said she had always thought about that and now she makes reusable baggies!:)  They are so cute!! You can wash them just like washing clothes or just wipe out the inside with a clean cloth if you need them sooner.:)
outside is cloth and inside lining is vinyl

On a day when I thought I knew what to expect, I have to say I wasn't expecting such a sweet gift.:)  Thank you Candice!!!  That was so sweet , and what a great idea!!! Why can't I think of things like that!!??:)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sweet Memories

Ago! ( Hello!) Ekaasan! ( Good afternoon!) We made it back to Lagos last night, and the governor elections are today. The streets are quiet again, and we are locked in the compound today. It was so nice to experience freedom to walk around and explore (not to mention try all the fantastic food, wine, and beer!) while we were in Germany.:)

  On Easter as we were walking to the park for the kids to have their goodie hunt, we spotted a restaurant with a little play yard, and Jeremy was so excited.  He asked us if we could have dinner there that night.  So, we went back for dinner and the kids ran to the play yard before we could even sit down.  I looked at Guy and said, "Well, I guess they have a kids menu or they wouldn't have this play area." Sure enough , there was child friendly food.  And, I have to say it was the quietest dinner Guy and I had had together in a very long time.  The kids were totally entertained by the play area and the trains going by ( this was another restaurant along the railroad tracks), and Guy and I could enjoy a glass of wine and sit along the Rhine River for our last night in Germany.:)  

We were watching the kids play when Guy said, "Do you realize that tower is about 500 years old and our kids are playing right next to it?" I realized that it was an original tower along the city wall of Bacharach.  How cool is that?? A playground right next to a piece of history??:)

kids ran to play area before we could even sit down.:)

tower next to the play area

I will probably be in a little bit of a funk after being in such a wonderful, beautiful place with great food and so many things for the kids to enjoy.  But, we are left with sweet memories of visiting our friends in Stuttgart.:) ( Thanks again for such a great time!!!) and memories of our family enjoying Germany together.  If anyone is thinking of a vacation in Europe and you have small children...I would definitely recommend Germany.:)   Of course, Germany is great even if you don't have kids!:)

Okay, more unpacking to do ....and more memories to think of about our lovely time in Germany.:)

Kids' souvenirs of Germany.:)  Promptly named Rapunzel and Eugene:)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Frohe Ostern!!! ( Happy Easter!)

Sign in Pharmacy Window

Happy Easter to you all!  I have to say Easter in Germany is beautiful!  The weather is so nice...not the 200 percent humidity and heat we have been used to from Lagos.:)  We woke up, ate breakfast at our hotel and headed off to church...

Guy and I read the sign for mass wrong...and realized that the priest who does mass at this church was actually doing mass at another church in another town.  So, we headed to another church in town...

Lizzy and me

No dice here either.  We decided to stay here for a little bit....we did TRY to go to church today.:)
Kids looking for their goodies

So, we headed back to the playground by the river and had the kids got for some Easter goodies.:)
It looks like they found 'em!!:)

This is our last day here in germany and we are going to enjoy every minute of it.  the kids are napping right now, and I thought I would put a few quick posts up for yesterday and today.:)  ( If you haven't checked it yet, please check the previous post about Burg was an amazing experience!)  

I asked the kids what they liked the most about Germany, and both of them answered , "THE CASTLES!!!!"  I was even able to keep Elizabeth awake in the car one day before nap time telling her to tell me each time she saw a castle...that's how many there are in this area!:)

I will miss the gorgeous spring weather and the beautiful scenery, and I am sure Guy will miss the same.  I hope you all have a very Happy and Hoppy Easter!  Next time I am on the blog, I'll be writing form Africa.  I am so glad Kirstin and the hotel we stayed in had good internet access.  It was so nice to be able to write about each day right after it happened so I wouldn't forget anything.:)  Until next last time to say this from Germany, Auf Weidersehen! :)

Burg Eltz

Burg Eltz

Yesterday, we drove about an hour and a half to visit a 12th century castle called Burg Eltz.   Here is a bit of history for you. It is in the hills above the Moselle river( a tributary to the Rhine) near the town of Koblenz, Germany.  It is one of the only castles in Germany which is furnished with many of the furniture pieces you would have seen 500 years ago.  It has 80 rooms, 40 fireplaces and 20 toilets!!! Yes, even that long ago there were toilets in this castle!!!( They would even flush sometimes with rainwater which collected on the roof of the castle)  It is actually owned by the original family line 33 generations later!!!  It was home to three lines of the Eltz family and there were three separate living spaces with the families sharing the courtyard area and the surrounding grounds.  They also could use the fortifications of the castle in case of attack.  But, this castle never really saw any battles.  The Eltz family was able to use their political and social connections to avoid major conflict on the castle.    I have to say, that all that history is wonderful, but actually going inside and seeing the castle furnished and the bed from the 1500's and a fireplace which has been used literally for centuries is amazing!:)  Not to mention the beautiful scenery around the is truly breath taking. (  The picture above shows the castle.  Right now they are doing some repairs to the outside of it.)
Elzbach River  surrunds the castle.  It feeds into the Moselle River.
Jeremy and me waiting for the shuttle to take us back up the hill.:)
I wish I could have taken pictures for you of the inside of the castle.  It was amazing!  But, since it is still owned by the original family, and they have many of their one of a kind pieces inside, we weren't able to take any pictures inside the castle.  But, if you ever get a chance to see definitely should take the chance!:)
Okay, now my pictures got a little messed up and out of order.  So, I'll try to narrate through them for you.:)

picture of another castle on our way back to Bacharach
People were hang gliding along the Rhine River. It was a gorgeous day!
Another castle on our way back to Bacharach
We took a ferry boat back over the Rhine to Bacharach....the kids loved it!!!
Guy took me wine tasting in Bacharach after the kids napped.:)

Guy knows me too well.  he decided to take me wine tasting at a small winery in Bacharach.  it was so much fun to taste all the different wines made right here.:)  What do you do with your kids when you and your husband are wine tasting???
Keep them busy with their drawing, of course!!:)

After wine tasting ( and buying a few bottles) we went to have dinner at one of the German restaurants in town.  The kids got frankfurters, I got cured ham with eggs, and Guy got the award for the most unusual dinner selection...wild boar aspic!!!  My grandma ( who made tomato aspic) would have been very proud of him.:)  He said it wasn't really too bad...but it may have been the wine carousel we shared of 15 different wines that was talking.:)

More pictures from the day:
view of the countryside
picture of forest
more forest:)
beautiful field of yellow flowers
Guy pulled over so I could get a better picture of the fields.  We both agree, these fields of yellow are beautiful.)

Another castle on our way to Burg Eltz
road sign
We hiked a long way from where we could park our car through the forest to get to Burg Eltz.  The kids did really well.  I have to admit, it was a long walk and mostly downhill...but it was long.:) 

Guy and kids in front of Burg Eltz

castle courtyard

We had a great Saturday exploring more of Germany thanks to my wonderful tour guide and trip planner, Guy.:)  Our visit to Germany has been wonderful and the kids have really enjoyed all the parks and playgrounds and food.  It will be hard to say good bye to Germany and head back to Lagos on Monday.  But, we are so thankful we have the opportunity to come and see this great country!:)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Burg Rheinfels

Yesterday, we went to Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar.  We had seen it from afar on Wednesday and went back to actually tour it yesterday.  Guy and the kids were pretty excited about going to see it, but I think I was actually the most excited about going to see a "real castle".:)  This castle was built in the 13th century.  Later the castle was fortified with the outside walls and it was the only castle along the Rhine that was able to stand the attack of Louis XIV...

View of the castle from the bottom of the mountain

I am so glad Guy decided to drive us to the top to see the castle.  I don't think either of our ears could have heard Lizzy tell us her legs hurt anymore.:)
View from the castle down into the Rhine Valley

The Maus Castle...across from Rheinfels Castle

Walkway around the castle

One of the castle towers

entering inside the castle

ruins from part of the castle


Castle wall...It is huge!!!

The picture above isnt very good, I know, but I had to take a quick picture before the man working could tell me not to.:)  The rock you see in the center of the picture is a tombstone which was in this same place 400 B.C.
This was a picture of one of the towers which is still standing:)
Jeremy could climb some of the steps which were still left in the tower.:)
Elizabeth coming out of the old tower

one of the original castle walls

Here are some pictures in what used to be the castle gardens.:)

Here are some catapult balls used in war time in the middle ages.  In one of the guide books I read, it says that the soldiers actually went out to retrieve them after they launched them because they were so expensive to produce.
The well for the castle compound

Highest tower still standing at the castle

Family picture at the top of the tower

view from the tower

view down into the castle from the tower

Here is an entrance to one of the old mining tunnels in the castle. They were extremely small...but, Guy and Jeremy were brave enough to venture a little of the way into them.  Guy was prepared with a flashlight.:)

Elizabeth wasn't sure what to think of the tunnels

Jeremy going into one of the tunnels

Elizabeth went a little ways in

One of the tunnels we went in led to a dead end with an area with steps leading up to it...maybe a living area for a soldier or two???

Castle walkway

Spiral staircase leading down into darkness

Elizabeth wanted to stay upstairs where there was more light

Above is one of the 6 dungeons which were used in the original castle.  The prisoners were actually lowered in from above and then wooden planks were placed above the floor so they could sit there without sitting in their own filth.  They were only given bread and water and the longest surviving prisoner lived there for 2.5 years....I don't think that anyone would want that life!!!

Above is the castle cellar or pantry (kellar in German).  In here all the provisions for the castle were stored.  During peacetime there were about 400 people to provide for who lived inside the castle walls but during a seige, there were 4000 people who live inside the castle walls.   That meant there would tons of food needed to supply food for all those people, and take into account, they wanted to be ready in case of a 6 month seige.  No wonder the cellar was so huge!!!

Couldn't get this pic to rotate, but it is the men's urinal made to look like a guillotine.:)
This castle was so fascinating to explore because I really couldn't wrap my head around how big it truly was.  A castle was so much more than a living space for kings and queens.  It was actually a compound complete with its own bakery, pharmacy, slaughterhouse, cellar, vegetable gardens and so much more.  It was like a self sustaining city.  Today, we explored another castle a little way away form Bacharach.  It was a completely different experience, and I can't wait to share it with you.  The kids love going to the castles,  but Jeremy said that Burg Rheinfels was his favorite because it had tunnels to go into.  I'll share our other castle experience with you tomorrow.  Until then, Gute Nacht! (Good night!)