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Monday, October 31, 2011


whew!!! What a weekend is all I can say today!  I don't think I have ever had a busier Halloween weekend than this one.:)  I am pretty sure our flat won't be touched by any "evil" spirits this year with all the costumes and partying that went on here over the weekend.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  I think i was caught somewhere between a fairy and Cinderella this weekend...and I think I even saw Michael Jackson and Steve Jobbs back from the dead!!!:)

The weekend started Friday with trick or treating at Jeremy's school

dressed up as Ben 10

Rapunzel and Ben 10 ready for our Halloween party on Saturday:)

Barbie,Ken, a random priest, a Nigerian woman, Steve Jobs, a fairy , Michael Jackson and Rapunzel ( minus the hair)

Fairy, Barbie, and Nigerian woman:)

who knew M.J. could boil up some shrimp??!!

Toasting farewell to a friend!!

Sunday: a Czar, Cinderella , and Rapunzel

trick or treating on the compound:)

Cinderella, Luigi, and Pirate

Kids running around the building for the Halloween "parade"

Needless to say, we had a great time and the kids have more candy than we will ever know what to do with!:)  All the "ghouls" and boys scared all the mean spirits away this weekend...until next Halloween!:)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Seems Like Yesterday...

This week and next week, I am helping at Elizabeth's school while one of the teachers is away.  I have formally been out of teaching for five and half years...but every parent knows, you are always a teacher once you have children.:)  At first when I agreed to come in this week and next week I wasn't sure how I would feel.  I was a little nervous that maybe I had forgotten everything I had done for the seven years I was in the classroom. Not to mention, the children in Elizabeth's school are younger than children I had taught before.  But, I have to say all of that nervousness went away once I was in the classroom and interacting with the kids.  Dare I say that becoming a parent has helped me to be a better
teacher?  I don't think I completely understood children until I had my own.  These past few days have been really fun...and exhausting.  It seems like only yesterday I was in a kindergarten classroom teaching 24 students.  I really couldn't believe how quickly everything came back to me.:) I never realized how much I really liked singing about almost everything throughout the entire day (and the kids never care if I am singing on key)!:) This time back in the classroom, I now have the perspective of a teacher and a mother.:)   I'd be lying if I said we didn't have a ton of fun!:)


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Ready...

The weather outside may be in the mid 80's with 200% humidity, but this week, we have been getting ready for that fall holiday when you can be whoever you choose....

 We have been getting ready for Halloween over here in Lagos along with our other "little" friends.  Pumpkins( which you can buy under the Falomo Bridge here in V.I.....surprise!) have been decorated, and decorations have been hung...( of course, the moms are responsible for the wine bottle in the picture...hee hee!)
But, you'll have to wait 'til the big day to see what the little "ghouls" and boys are going to be:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wild Ride

I have taken a small "blogging break" these past few days. Please bear with me on this post as I have no idea where my thoughts will take me...

It all starts with the old saying "Good things happen to good people".  I have been pondering that quote wondering if there is any truth in it. I thought about it long and hard and realize that good things do happen to good people ( and "bad" things, too), but usually the "good" things we really want are the big things and we usually don't take the time to notice all the little things which happen around us every day.  But, it's those "big " things which pull at our heart strings and can make us leap with joy when they actually happen or knock us flat on our butts when they don't.    And, my heart is breaking for someone who didn't get the "Big" thing she was waiting for...

When I first moved here, I was wide eyed, nervous and scared.  It was all kind of like an adventure in an unknown far off land.:)  After all, none of my family was ever going to come and visit us it really is a kind of far off land in their eyes.  I remember trying to figure things out and seeing everything with fresh eyes.  I saw all of the need on the streets while sitting in my air conditioned car.  My eyes were wide and my heart was aching for the people I saw who really had nothing...

Then, I moved into the "realization phase".  Which is to say that I realized I really lived here.  This was not a long vacation or  some dream world (or nightmare...depending on the day).  I was the new oyibo and was taken advantage of  a few times.  I realized that  I. lived. here.  I joined some charities to help people in need here. The groups I work with are wonderful at giving supplies and teaching those in need how to better themselves.  I felt (and still do feel) like I am helping here.

Now, I am realizing that no matter how much you help here, there is a culture which makes Nigeria all its own.  There are different views on many different things.  I realize that when I  came here, I was trying to teach people in need the way we think in the U.S. and the way we do things in the U.S.  But, I was forgetting their views and their way of life.  Family structures are different, and the value of human life is different. But, that is part of what makes Nigerian culture beautiful in its very own unique way.  I started to feel that there was a thick line drawn between my way of life and the life of people from this land.

Then, yesterday, I realized that one need that every culture has is the need for comfort, acceptance, and understanding.  Just a simple hug, and a smile can mean the difference between a day full of tears and a day full of hope. I have been on this "wild ride" of feelings since moving here, but I am realizing that the basic needs of people here are the same.  There isn't a black line drawn on the ground but more like a smudgy gray line where you can't really see where it begins or where it ends.  So, at this point in time on this wild ride, that is where I  am...somewhere in the shade of grey.

Since I moved here, when I see stories on the news of people from this part of the world, I realize that they are not so different and those lands aren't some far off place.  Things aren't so scary.  The people I see have the same needs as myself, my husband and my children.  Everyone wants "good" things, everyone wants to be happy, and everyone wants comfort and acceptance...even my friend from this far off land.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy in the Moment

I have been hearing alot of different phrases related to this ,and seen alot of people talking about being "happy in the moment" lately.  I know it isn't anything new, but it is as if people are having a new awakening to this idea of being happy no matter where you are.  Along this expat journey, I always worried about the kids being happy and if they would be okay living in another country away from everything they knew.  When, the truth was, it was me who was afraid of leaving everything I knew. If only all the world leaders could be a fly on the wall at Jeremy's school to see how children from all parts of the globe interact with each other each and every day, I think we could all gain a new and refreshing perspective on how to be happy wherever you are no matter what religion you are or what country you come from.  Last Friday, Jeremy was "Star of the Week" in his class.  He had to make a poster to tell about himself.  So, along with my help, he wrote and drew pictures of his favorite food, favorite drink, favorite place to visit, etc.  It was displayed all week for the other children to see it.  On Friday, he got to bring in his favorite treat to share with the children in his class.  I asked him what he wanted and he told me cheese ( his favorite) and apples (his second favorite).  I asked him if he was sure he didn't want to bring in cupcakes or cookies.  He told me, "No mom, there is a friend in my class who is allergic to cupcakes and cookies."  I smiled because I remembered there was a little boy who couldn't eat a cupcake at Jeremy's birthday at school because he is allergic to eggs.  In my mind, I thought, "Now that is an example of acceptance and understanding.":)  So, we cut up some cheese and apples and brought them to school. Guy and I were able to come to watch him present his poster and answer questions from his classmates.  There were the typical," What is your favorite toy?" , and "What is your sister's name?".  Then, there was "Where were you born?" to which Jeremy answered ," Guatemala." very matter of factly. (We have always been open with him about his being adopted and who his birth mother and foster mother were). Then, there was THE question," How did you get your name?" from a sweet little girl in his class. Jeremy looked at her and then looked at me because he really didn't know.  I had told him before but I don't think he remembered.  I took a deep breath and explained that Jeremy was born in Guatemala to a birth mother who named him.  When Guy and I adopted him, we liked the name so much we decided to keep that name and that is how his name is Jeremy.  And....that was questions about what a birth mother was or why he was born in Guatemala or why I wasn't his birth mother.  It was just total acceptance of his story and that was it......amazing!!!

This past month for me has had some ups and downs, but I can see how there are so many signs and ways to be happy right where you are.  I see it everyday in my kids and how they interact with their friends...we can learn an awful lot from them.:)

A dear friend of mine gave me a quote before I moved away from the U.S.  It says:

For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am focusing on that quote now and remembering that I have a living example of how to be happy each and every day.:)

working on computers when we arrived in class

presenting his poster

sharing his treat

Just thought I'd throw this one in....he is starting karate:)

and he LOVES Michael Jackson:)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


 This weekend was a busy one...we Guy unpacked our shipment and put it all away.  Thank goodness for his great packing skills!  Of course, the kids had fun with the boxes.:)
 Then, there are the hawks who are continually circling our building and landing on the balcony outside of Jeremy's room.  I really can't believe how big their wingspan is!!
Then, it was girl's night out with a friend for her birthday!:)

Picture from the restaurant.  I couldn't believe that I could see the moon here.:)
 On Saturday, we were up early for Jeremy's soccer game , and then we went with some friends to the Lekki Conservation Center.  There aren't really too many places to take the kids to explore nature here, but this place is pretty nice.  This area has been left to grow with its natural vegetation.  There are different animals to see also...
shedded snake skin

not sure if peacocks are native to Nigeria??

Lizards are:)

not sure about tortoises either...
 The kids were really excited to see the tortoises.  They have actually dug a nest in the dirt and one of them sits on the eggs while the other stands guard outside the nest...

 They loved to be able to feed the tortoise and watch him eat...but we made sure to stay a safe distance away.:)
The peacocks came over looking for food too

walking along the boardwalk through the conservation center

The monkeys were literally swinging from the trees.  I was able to get a picture of this one, but the others were up in the trees.  It was a little eerie because you could here the trees rustling and something jumping, but you couldn't see them.  They followed us along the boardwalk watching what we were doing.
 Then, the skies opened up, and I think all the rain in the world fell on us.:) We were SOAKED!!! But, the kids were great about it and loved walking through the rain.  The adults absorbed some of that energy and found that it was pretty enjoyable to watch the rain from a shelter we found along the way.  It did help that none of the kids were upset!:)
But, one did have to potty!:)
It was a great weekend spent with a great husband, great kids and great friends.  There is one thing to say for was busy!!:)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This week has been full of remembering our great time in Germany and Austria, unpacking and early mornings getting the kids off to school...or at least one of them.:)  Lizzy's school flooded this past weekend , and there has been so much water damage from all the rain that school has been cancelled for her though today.  The picture of the okada driving through the rain water at an intersection near our compound gives you an idea of how much it has been raining here over the past week...

I am feeling better since our "Getaway" trip last week.  I think the change of scenery, change of pace, and reading a hilarious book a friend lent to me really helped.:)  If you haven't read the book Bossypants by Tina need to go out and buy a copy!!! Seriously, drop whatever you are doing right now and get out and buy it!!!! I have never laughed out loud so much reading a book in my life. I am not kidding...even Guy thought the parts I read out loud to him were funny.:) 

We are all glad to see Happiness.:)  She always misses us when we are gone...but especially the kids.  They each gave her a special bracelet they picked out for her in Germany.  Things are still pretty much the same, but things just feel a bit lighter now.  It's amazing what  a short break can do.  I guess everyone needs a break from some things in life..and when you come back you feel a little more energized.:)

Our shipment has been in customs for about three weeks now...and today, I got the call that it would be delivered!!!! Yay!!!!  And wouldn't you know really did show!!!:)

So, that is where it is sitting right now.  The drivers are waiting for the off loaders to show up...and they haven't arrived yet.  The driver went to get something to eat, and if the off loaders show up soon, no one can unload the truck because only the main driver can use a hammer to break the lock on the truck to get our stuff off. ( Standard procedure here.) But, that's no big least our things are here....even if they are locked up in a truck in the parking lot of our compound.....we're 50% closer than we were just yesterday!:)

I couldn't think of the right word to describe things here in Lagos...and then, today driving back over the Falomo Bridge, I saw it...
I had to smile when I saw this van.....that is kind of how to describe things here.  It's not's not great, it's not even terrible. You just experience things here that you wouldn't get to experience anywhere's just peculiar.:)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Back to Germany

Here's a picture from lunch today...I'll explain how we got here...
It seems like we have been bouncing back and forth over the German/ Austrian border like a ping pong ball these last few days and it has been so fun!!!  Yesterday, we did our last "bounce" over into Germany, and this is where we we will be staying until we head back to Lagos on Sunday.  We arrived in Stuttgart to visit our dear friends, The Hoffs, for a few days before we leave.:)  It seems strange that we have seen them more in the last year living in different countries than we saw them when we were living in the U.S.!!! They moved to Germany last year, and since we LOVE to travel to Europe for our "getaway" trips from only makes sense to come and knock on their door.:)  We were here in April. Click here to see a post from our visit then.:)

Passing through the tunnel into Germany 

The kids were extra excited to see their friends, and the only logical thing to do when we arrived was head straight to the local Biergarten ( right?!) to let the kids run off some energy and for the adults to flex their biceps drinking some great wine.:)

not too used to scooter riding:)

playing on slide at Biergarten:)

The four "kinders" and their ice cream:)
 Last night, my sweet friend, Kirstin, and I had some great wine and sat on her back porch listening to the rain and cool breeze through the trees.  I had forgotten (or maybe never realized) how much I really enjoy chilly weather ( notice I didn't say cold?)  Like I said in my posts from April, we may not see each other often...but we can always seem to pick right up were we left off.:)

Today, we headed to a local restaurant for a great lunch:)  Pro Arte is a great restaurant in Stuttgart with some fabulous Mediterranean food...the kids loved it!:)
Picture by Lizzy!!!! Can you believe it!?

where are the kids?:)

Lizzy and Kirstin at lunch:)
 After lunch (and dropping the kids off back at the house with Guy..thank you, Guy!!!) I rode bikes with Kirstin to the local fresh market.  I have read about this market on her blog before, but it is so different when you get to go and experience it for yourself.  There are so many fresh cheeses, pastries, breads, olives, spreads, name's probably there and more fresh than if you lived on a farm yourself!!!!
 Then, it started raining and I got to experience riding through the rain home from the fresh market.  It was cold, but the good thing is everything is so close to where you live. So, the bike ride was wet and cold, but I was back at her house before I knew it!:)  Thanks so much for having us again and for showing us some more of the charm of Stuttgart which has become your home.:)  You are the epitome of Southern hospitality...all while speaking German!:)