Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding the Beauty...

Guy has been gone to Port Harcourt for the last week, and the kiddos and I have had some ALOT  TONS of time together!!!  Tonight, as we ate dinner listening to the background  music of "Nuzzle and Scratch"( BBC CBeebies), we ate our dinner in perfect harmony.:)  As a matter of fact, I think I even heard the words, "I love you, Mommy!" uttered...without prompting.:) ( A miracle perhaps??? I'll look into it and get back to you later!) After dinner, Lizzy sat down and did what she has really liked the most these past days....she has discovered masking tape...and I am telling you...there is just no stopping her with the endless possibilities this tape has in store for her.  It has been everything in these last 2 weeks from bean bags (don't ask me) or a balloon???  I have no idea, but I can't help but smile when I see her in "the zone" with her tape!!  Finding the beauty in the little things is the key to happiness, right??:)

p.s. Kirstin, thank you for inspiring me to change up my blog's appearance...a new year calls for a new look, right!??:)

in "the zone"!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Separate Universe

Guy and I have started watching the series "Fringe".  It started in 2008, but we are a little slow on the uptake, and we are just now being able to find the time to really watch shows together again.:)  (Don't ask me about any new programs that came on television between the years of 2006 and 2010....I was too busy with a a few screaming toddlers!;))  For those of you who are not familiar with this series, it is a science fiction series based on weird and abnormal things which the FBI investigates.  These abnormal happenings are classified under "fringe science"... hence the name "Fringe".  One of the main plots is the idea that there are two separate but parallel universes.  The show goes on to say that we are living in one universe and another "us" is in the other universe.  The other universe is similar to our universe but slightly different. Although I know that this is pure fiction, I couldn't help but think of living here as like I was in a separate universe.   I have written about a parallel life I feel like I have since becoming an expat, but seeing this series has me thinking about it even more.
The feeling that I am in a separate "universe" immediately begins when we land in Lagos.  I look around and indeed we are in an airport....but it is not like any airport I have ever seen before.  People are pushing and shoving, the body odor is pretty bad, and usually you have to bribe the customs officers before they let you out the door.  Then, outside the airport doors is complete madness.  Horns are honking, people are yelling to you asking if you need a taxi, people are burning who knows what in trash cans...

The "me" in this universe doesn't drive...I have a driver.  That is something the old me never would have thought I would have...

Riding in the car down the streets, you can see shops...but they just aren't what I had ever seen before.  I have written about seeing a shop on the outside here and then actually going inside are two different things.  Sometimes, that's true...but's not...

In the other universe, I always took being American for granted.  Here, I am reminded I am American everyday by how much I didn't really know about the rest of the people who live in this huge world...

In this universe, I use cash cards are huge risk to use here.  I never thought I would practically be carrying a shoe box around for all the money you need to buy things here...

In the other universe, I never saw what utter poverty and destitution looked like until I came here.  There are poor people in the U.S. who I saw occasionally...but that is nothing compared to what I see on the streets each and every day...

In this universe, I realize that having electricity that works reliably is a luxury...and I so took it for granted in my parallel universe...

In this universe, my children find their fun playing on a tennis court, and not on playgrounds and parks with fresh green grass...

In this universe, my children are leaning about holidays like Diwali and the many different Eids celebrated by Muslims all over the world...

In this universe, Jeremy is learning French at school...I really don't know that that would happen in the parallel universe...

In this universe, Elizabeth loves this doll...
I don't know if she would in the other "universe"...

Some of you may know exactly what I'm talking about, and some of you may be shaking your head thinking this girl is insane. Living here is like a separate world apart from anything I have ever really does feel like we are in a different universe when I'm here. It has things here which remind me of my other universe, but they are slightly different in so many ways.:)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting back to Normal

Or whatever constitutes normal in Lagos.:)  This week was a busy one of getting back to school...FINALLY!!!  And, then getting fevers for both of them...ugh!  I started to help out again at Lizzy's school.  Today, the kids were feeling better, so, we headed out to the only open area we have for the kids...the tennis court!!!:)

the kids and their buddy, Erik
 They know how to turn a dull looking green space into something of beauty!!!;)    Maybe a future Picasso or Monet is in the future???:)  I just thought I'd share a few pictures of what's normal for us here.:)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


After late night talks on Sunday night, the labor unions agreed with Goodluck Jonathan's offer of 97 naira per liter for fuel. Click here to read an article about the ending of the strike.  Although when they accepted the offer the unions added that the president made a "unilateral decision". But for all practical purposes, the strike is over and Guy is resuming his work at his office today.  The schools will reopen tomorrow as a safety precaution to make sure roads are safe.  The strike involved more groups than just the labor unions and school officials want to make sure that other groups are not going to protest the outcome of the strike.  (Many groups wanted the price to be put back at 65 naira per liter.)  So, is it a victory for the labor unions or a victory for Goodluck Jonathan?  I don't really know.  What I do know is that tomorrow for the first time time in 10 days, I get to leave the compound!!!:)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Entering the second week of Wahalla...

Guy and I were hopeful that the strike would be over today.  We thought that the kids would be back at school tomorrow and he would be back in the office.  But, when we woke up this morning and turned on the Nigerian news, the labor unions and Goodluck Jonathan have still not reached a happy compromise.  The head of the Labor Union for offshore oil production had threatened on Thursday to shut down offshore oil production as part of the fuel subsidy protest at midnight last night, but they didn't.  Maybe if they did, it would have put more pressure on the government to reach a compromise faster...  You can click here for more information on the continuing strike.  I think we are all getting a case of cabin fever...but we are doing pretty okay for the most part.  Thank goodness Guy stocked up on two weeks worth of water and food before the kids and I came back or I don't think I would be quite so complacent during this time.  But, the good thing is we are all safe and sound...we are just anxious to have an end to all of this wahalla!!!:)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 5th Day...

I haven't had Internet access on my computer since Wednesday, so I thought I'd take the few minutes I have access today to write a bit more about the strike.  The labor union leaders and Good luck Jonathan met yesterday to discuss a solution to the ongoing nationwide labor strike because of  Goodluck Jonathan's decision to remove the fuel subsidy on January 1st.  To put this in a better perspective, I read an article...not sure where head seems to be spinning from all the info.  Since gas is sold here in liters the price of gas here before Jan.1 was about 65 naira a liter ( about $.40) and it went up to about 130 naira a liter or $.80 per liter overnight on Jan. 1.  To convert this from liters to gallons it would be about $2.50( or a little more) per gallon without the fuel subsidy...
When you take into account that 70 percent of Nigerian make 2 dollars a day or less, this becomes a HUGE deal to them. ( Not to mention the rise in transport and food, and generator fuel).
This strike has entered its fifth day today with the head of the labor union for offshore oil production announcing yesterday that they would stop offshore oil production in Nigeria if the government does not return gas prices back to 65 naira a liter... ( Nigeria exports a lot of oil to the U.S.)
So far near our compound, it has been very quiet.  I took the kids out to the tennis court to play since school was cancelled for the fifth day in a row and Guy's office is closed for the fifth day due to the strike as well.  We could hear very distant megaphones of people leading protests over on Ikoyi.
Click here for a recent article from CNN about the Labor strike here in Nigeria.  This strike is very different from the strike my first year living here.  That strike was a union with the company Guy works for.  This strike is HUGE .  It is nationwide closing down stores and the airport.  We are all hoping and praying that this strike will end peacefully this weekend.  I think the kids have been inside too long...they are asking me to go to school!!!:)  To my friends and family, though, please know we are tucked safely inside the giant purple building!:)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This is a picture of what it looks like outside our compound...the streets are eerily quiet.  But, in other parts of Lagos, there are places that look like this.

I haven't heard officially yet, but it doesn't look like school will be open tomorrow.  We're doing okay over here so far.  It's kind of strange to travel across an ocean and not go outside the compound for three straight days... 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We made it back safe and sound on Sunday just in time before the fuel subsidy strike started in Nigeria at midnight on Monday morning. It is eerily quiet yelling vendors...just least near our compound. There is a nation wide Nigerian protest against President Goodluck Jonathan's decision to take away the fuel subsidy for Nigeria.  Nigeria pays billions of dollars each year for the fuel subsidy and this subsidy has kept fuel prices low for Nigerians.  Without the fuel subsidy, the cost of fuel will sky rocket for Nigerian people.  Since about 70 percent of Nigerian live on less than 2 dollars a day, this is a very significant increase.  Also take into account, many do not have a dependable power source and buy fuel for generators, this decision is impacting almost every single Nigerian.  Goodluck Jonathan wants to take the money being spent on the subsidy and put it into improving hospitals and schools (which definitely do need improvement), but in a country where so many people are so very poor, they are living day to day and are not thinking of how to make the country better 10 years from now.  several protesters have said that they don't think that the money would really be used for the country to improve. They believe that the money will be put back into corrupt politicians pockets. (Which is a very good point based on Nigeria's track record):)

So far, from what Guy and I have seen from watching the local Lagos news, the protests have been fairly organized.   the airports are closed down and there hasn't been school for two days. ( which has actually helped us to readjust to Lagos time from U.S. there is always a bright side, I guess).  Guy's company has advised everyone not to go out on the roads because it is not safe right now.  Happiness tried to come to work today to see the kids, but the bus she was on was blocked and forced to turn around.  Yesterday, there were protesters burning tires on Lekki expressway which is her route to come to work.

We have not heard any more word about if school will be open tomorrow or not, but from what I have seen o the news, the Nigerian people are VERY serious about protesting the taking away of the fuel subsidy.  To read some more about this nationwide strike, click here

We are safe and are hunkering down in our compound.  Jeremy and Elizabeth's friends also came back this weekend, so they are catching up with their friends after not seeing them for a month.

  I will try to keep updating as I find things out, but we have had very spotty Internet service since the strike started.  Please know we are safe and sound.:)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bittersweet Day

I couldn't believe we were in January!!!! The temperature was 70 degrees Fahrenheit!!!!! Yep...I said it!!! 70 degrees!!!! It was great! We met my dad for lunch ,and then, Mom and I took the kids to a park near their home.  The weather was gorgeous and the kids had so much fun running and climbing and jumping everywhere!!!
swinging with Grammy

I hope the kids had their fill of running and climbing and jumping in fresh , harmattan free air.  We're heading back to Lagos tomorrow....the bags are packed....

I am writing my blog while sitting int he kitchen talking to my mom and smelling her awesome oven barbecue chicken!!!!! yum!!  I have a pit in my stomach and I am dreading the flight and bus ride back to our flat.  the bags have been weighed  and filled with all of  our U.S. treasures, and we're ready to travel tomorrow.  We have had a FABULOUS time back in the U.S. and I think my batteries are recharged again to head back to Lagos.  I just hate having to say good bye.  I am sure there will be stories to tell in the coming week of the nationwide union strike which is going to start in Nigeria on Monday.  Stay tuned and I'll fill you in!  The next time you hear from me, I'll be on the "other side of the pond"!:)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas in January?

With all the visiting with family and friends this Christmas, the kids and I didn't really have much time to sit together and make something really creative for Christmas this year.  I thought today would be the perfect day to make a gingerbread house with the kids.  I had always wanted to attempt this before, but was never sure about it.  I am NOT very good in the kitchen, so it was a little daunting...but I think we all had a lot of fun!!!

setting up the house

eating ALOT of frosting!

it's starting to come together:)

the decorating kept them really busy

It's done!!! Can we eat it now??

 It turned out really cute...but I have to be honest.......I cannot tell a lie!:)
We used a gingerbread kit my aunt  and uncle bought for the kids for Christmas (Thanks Mary and Dave!) is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!
 It came with so much candy and was great.   I haven't turned into Martha Stewart.....nor will I ever attempt to.  But, it was really fun doing this activity with the kids...and it almost felt like it was still Christmas.:)

Out with the Old and in with the New!!!

The new year that is!  Happy new year to you all!  We had a wonderful one here...the only thing missing was Guy.:(  But, we'll be seeing him again soon next weekend when the kids and I return to Lagos.  We've been keeping busy around here.  Mom, Dad, and I took the kids to the Magic House Children's Museum in Saint Louis.  All I can say is OH MY GOSH!!!!!! there was so many things for the kids to see and do.  They LOVED it there.:)  Mom, Dad , and me were very tired when we left ( four hours later!) but it was definitely worth it.  I can't even begin to describe everything there is there.. so I'll let the pictures do the "talking". I went here on field trips when i was little and I will say that this place has changed alot!  But, it is just as fun as I remembered!:)
riding in a horse drawn buggy!

engineer for a locomotive

abstract art?

little artist at work!

digital kaleidoscope

three story "vine" to climb down to the other levels

there he is!

Lizzy wasn't sure about being the next president

Bobcat driver:)

working the excavator

I remember this when I was little!!!:)


and more magnets

making music

bubble organ...J's favorite!:)
 And, this new year brings another wedding anniversary for Guy and me.  Thirteen years today!!! Wow!!!  Thirteen years ago today, my dad was driving myself and my bridesmaids in my matron of honor's dad's four by four truck (thanks, Jen!) down a half closed interstate 74 into Champaign ,IL in the middle of the worst blizzard anyone had seen in that part of Illinois in years.  We thought we wouldn't even make it to the church...but we did!!!! They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck.....maybe a blizzard is the BEST luck.:)  I don't know, but we've made it 13 years...and that's saying something!:)  Guy sent me flowers today...very sweet!!  I love you, and I can't imagine my life without you !!!! It's been a wild ride, and I wouldn't have it any other way!  Happy anniversary.:)