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Growth

Disclaimer: While it may appear I’m trying to shove down an epistle of the last 3 months down your throats or minds as it were, this isn’t my intention.

Child #3 made £6.00 yesterday. He also got to sign autographs. I’ll explain.

We were invited to a photo shoot by The Voice newspaper for mothers day. It was to be a picture-led feature, lots of pictures and an interview. I’ll point out that I behaved in a dignified manner throughout.

Child #1 got some telling off from me because I insisted that he dressed formally, with a shirt and cardigan and chinos. No jeans, no T-shirts and certainly no hoodies. I got irritated with him as it was the umpteenth time (ok actually the 4th) I had addressed his dressing as it relates to race and stereotypes which he still doesn’t fully get- or rather he chooses not to understand.

Child #2 was elated. He has always considered himself a fashionista. This shoot to him had nothing to do with mothers day, (after all his mum knows he loves her) and everything to do with the catwalk. It was his moment. Finally his opportunity to become a model despite the fact that mummy said ‘over her dead body’ (whatever that meant).

Child #3 was as cheerful as ever. We were served chocolate drink with chilli pepper (no lie) and some moreish brownies. Child #3’s telling-off needless to say came down to; ‘stop stuffing your mouth!, ‘ come on! wipe those crumbs off your face‘. ‘you’ve had enough‘. ‘Anyone would think we were starving in our own home’.

Child #4. The one called Josh. This one, my conversation with him boiled down to; ‘stand still‘, ‘smile‘, ‘look at the camera‘, ‘no MacDonald’s for you when we leave this place’. ‘‘That’s it, no x-box either’. ‘In fact you’ll be facing the wall once we step indoors‘.

Each threat to my boys was accompanied with my already big eyes widening and my mouth twisted in more ways than I could count. It was important to me that we were seen as refined, well-groomed folks. I don’t know how well it went down with Child #4’s answer to the question; ‘what makes a good mum?

His response; ”A good mum lets me watch TV”.

Child #3 made some money because he told his friends he was featured in the papers and they didn’t believe him. So the savvy business man-child that he is, made bets with his friends and promptly asked them to pay up once he produced the newspaper the following day. He hasn’t stopped smiling.  He decided to stretch the truth by telling them he would be starring in a movie. His classmates (who by now believed every word he said), proceeded to ask for his autograph. Which he gave.

He isn’t starring in a movie, but he did do an audition (another gist which I will share).

I got an email from a casting agency looking for 9-10 year old boys of colour for an upcoming movie, a biopic of a Motown singer. Like any other mother who wants their child to go far in life, I quickly suggested my son (with pride and confidence as the boy is talented- like all our children are). I have learned to GRAB opportunity with both hands when I see it. We were asked to send in a single recording of him singing. As far as hubby and I and even his god-mother is aware, the boy has an angelic voice, he can sing. I hasten to say but between you and me, when he did the recording, it wasn’t the same voice. Lets just say I became increasingly uneasy as we recorded song after song after song. I am yet to hear back from the agency. ‘Nuff said.

The children are on Easter break. I warned them from the start that it would be an ‘indoor break’. No going out for us as it’s just too cold and I’ve reached my quota for cold days in 2012/13.

Talking about cold, I organised a seminar. It was to be a relaxing brunch with about 6 to 10 friends at my house, and a speaker sharing some wisdom with us. But it grew out of my home and into a lovely hotel close to where I live. I got into event-planning mode and very excitedly had it all down to a T. I had room for 30 and sold all 30 spaces with a couple on the waiting list. On the morning of the event we awoke to heavy snow. I had just enough time to cancel and inform all the guests. The postponement and my ensuing reaction showed me how much I’ve evolved as I was not in the least bit disappointed. It had crossed my mind to pray for the snow to stop, but I felt the Lord telling me to use common sense instead. I am glad that I did. I’m glad that I did not fret or panic, I’m glad that I saw the weather as something outside my control and therefore not to be angry at, I am so glad I made a sensible decision without dilly-dallying. For you it may be the norm, but for Toks, trust me, it’s a sign of growth.

Thanks so much for keeping up with me, I’m working on growing in frequency of my blog posts!

I also blog at http://www.inspiremeinc.wordpress.com. A blog for the faint-hearted.

This, That and Part Deaux of Church Wahala

It would suffice to say that the reason for a 2nd part to an April post is of course, my dealing with more church wahala. But I’d be lying, and as I already shared the lie I told in part one, I shall refrain from telling any more. Today’s thoughts and musings are enough to account for my er…intermission.

What hasn’t gone through my mind today? That’s like asking which models of cars drove during rush hour Third mainland, Brooklyn or Tower bridge. It has been a traffic jam of thoughts all day.

The four boys and hubby have decided to come down with a cough and cold, no doubt getting it before me so I’d be the one to nurse them all. I went from feelings of despair at the thought of waiting hand and foot on five men- little ones and large ones- to feelings of joy that I’m the presiding queen blessed to have them all in my life.

A friend changed her facebook profile picture to one taken back in her school days, I marvelled at how pretty she was then and still is. She appears to have perfect features- she’s from the Ashanti tribe in Ghana and has such a beautiful smile! Shout out to you Harriet O!

Son #2 found an unopened sanitary towel in the bathroom, opened it and brought it downstairs to ask what it was. After years of telling them it was part mummy’s make up kit, I told him what it was, straight-up! He knows all about the birds and the bees but I had omitted the towels part.

There are four people in my household who now use mobile phones, we also use the same chargers so there is sometimes a scramble for one. It is both disquieting and satisfying. On the one hand my babies are growing up too fast, the day is coming where we won’t be a young family any more- who am I kidding? The day has come. Son #4 thankfully anchors us to the coveted category of ‘young family’ as we sometimes go out with just him in tow, leading people to think he is our first- we love that. Yes hubby (not me) can be a fraud sometimes, he pretends to have just started a family. The thing is he looks like it too. On the other hand, it is satisfying because this is how it should be, things are progressing in the natural order. Babies should grow and one day turn into adults.

I miss my mum. Very much. She is an amazing, kind-hearted and selfless woman, it appears she has lived her entire life for us her children, and even now still places us ahead of any and everything else in life. I can only hope I do nearly as good as she does as a mother, if I do I’ll win a prize for the world’s’ greatest mum.

I spent Saturday evening with my dearest friend and sister, we watched the movie, Think Like a Man, and then gisted into the night. There is something about having a transparent conversation with a fellow sister that you really click with. I am so blessed to have a number of friends that share a connection with me on an unimaginable level. These are sisters I can comfortably call in the middle of the night without needing to apologise that I disturbed their beauty sleep. I am blessed to have some friends who are selfless and would go out on a limb and for me; and I’ll willingly do the same for them.

I have a half-finished post on the business blog, it remains half-finished because I started by talking about one thing, digressed and lost my way. With that admission, you obviously know where today’s post is going. Nowhere.

So to part deaux of my church wahala. Since the gist is stale, I’ll round it up by saying they incessantly texted and called us inviting us for one event or the other.

One day hubby ran into the man and he declared his undying love for us, shared how broken-hearted they were that we didn’t warm up to them. Don’t you feel the same way for us that we feel for you?’ He kept asking. And if you knew my hubby, he is not the touchy-feely type, Christian brother or not. He’s more like Jack Nicholson in the movie something’s got to give. We are friends, but no strings attached. So imagine his horror when this man went on and on, and in front of the shopkeeper too. Have we offended you? What if something happened to us, you would never have known. You didn’t even check on us. I will not yield to the temptation to type out the myriad of borderline expletives that went through hubby’s mind. Thankfully he didn’t yield either so they remained unspoken.

That’s been it, I am so glad to be back on Pawpaw and Mango- and yes I agree no one drove me away in the first place. I am excited about some help I’d be getting at work which should free me up to do what I love doing, writing.

Thanks so much for reading!

In the Village of the Blind..

The boys and I went with our beloved dog to visit my cousin, Jumoke. Biola was also present and we had a really good time. When it was time to return home we managed to get lost and found ourselves in what seemed like a run-down coastal village. People were milling around rather aimlessly, it was getting dark and the water drainage system didn’t seem like it was functioning for there were puddles everywhere. The women looked weather-worn and poverty-stricken, but happy in their own way. The happiness seemed contained, as if they were only happy so long as they were in that environment. The men walked around in small groups or alone, they wore well-worn clothes, unbuttoned shirts and trousers rolled up to their knees, presumably because of the puddles.

I made a U-turn right by the edge of the river which left me feeling unhinged. The whole scenario unnerved me and I couldn’t wait to get us out of there. I came out of the car to ask a lady for directions and she leaned over and whispered urgently “You’re in the village of the blind, the villagers are all blind and the most wicked on earth, you want to get out of here as soon as possible” Strangely enough she didn’t seem perturbed that she was a seeing-woman in a village of violent, blind people. As I turned to go back to the car, the boys had already come out of the car and child #1 was chasing our dog who had managed to get off his leash. I was so angry as I ran after them screaming and asking him why he let go. The dog found a round pipe and ran inside it. We chased after calling him but he seemed to think it was all a game. As we approached the house where the pipe lead into, I noticed an old man sitting inside right by the window, filing his fingernails. I asked him nicely if he wouldn’t mind passing our dog to us and he responded with “no.” He didn’t even look up and he didn’t stop filing his nails. I noticed he had two opaque eyes, each sunken in their own socket. He’s face was tanned and etched with 8 to 10 deep lines. He looked and felt very diabolical and evil seemed to emanate from him. It was as if he was the very embodiment of evil. My heart started to pound as I realized I had come face to face with one of the most wicked people on earth.  Then I saw our dog being humped by the man’s bigger dog, we started begging for our dog and our poor, previously un-humped dog ran upstairs to escape. I stopped child #1 just in time as he made to go in through the pipe. I resigned myself to the very real possibility that we would be leaving without our dear, dear dog whom we love so much and is a member of our family. As I turned to gather my boys, I noticed child #4 had been snatched away  and they were now trying to take child #3. I blacked out, and saw nothing but white light. It was the sun streaming in through my window, it is morning and I’m awake, safe and sound and so are my children. We have no dog.

I can’t help but ponder on the meaning of this dream, not all my dreams have meaning but this one was so poignant. For one I am so thankful for God’s protection over us. That we are safe, the children are free from danger.

I wonder if it has something to do with spiritual blindness. That being blind means being in danger?  What if we could see into our future, what effect will that have on our decisions today? What if we had eyes on both sides of our faces as well as in front and at the back? Besides looking hideous I think that we would do much better in possibly all areas of our lives. What if  like Google earth we had the ability to zoom in and out?

At the moment I feel very overwhelmed, I have a lot on my plate- mostly good stuff but find that I can’t exactly enjoy them yet, as I’m either trying to do all of those things at the same time, or I am paralyzed, wondering where to begin. I know that if I am able to stand all the way back, I’ll have a clearer picture of what needs to be done, and even allocate timelines for each item. I’ll be able to connect the dots to form a nice, chaos-free picture. When you are in a situation that is usually all you can see just like when you zoom in at street level on google maps you only see a few streets. You can’t see the train stations and public buildings unless you move around or better still zoom out.  If you keep zooming out the full picture becomes clearer until you see our beautiful planet earth.

So today I think I’ll put pen to paper and zoom out, start with the finished picture and slowly zoom back in, connecting the dots until I finally find my way around. I’m learning to live by having faith in my vision, i.e the outcome and not getting stuck on how I’ll get there.

I with you a fruitful and productive week, thanks so much for reading!

The insanity test

Dear Rosemary,

It is 8:43am. I very nearly forgot that I need to pick child #3 up from his sleepover at your house.

You see it has been a blissful week. Child #2 went on a school camping trip on Monday and only returned yesterday, Friday. Five days with 3 children has had hubby and I wondering what life would have been if we stopped at 3. Of course we love all our sons equally and life would have been lacking a ‘certain something’ if we had just 3, but boy!  People ask me how I ‘do it with 4 boys‘, ‘boys’ is always emphasized. They think I’m superwoman. Or suffering from madness. Or both. Those who tend to accord me these laurels usually have one or two children and naturally find things very hectic already. My response is always the same. “When you have 3 children, adding 1, 2 or 3 more really makes no difference, so please leave them, I’ll be more than fine”,  I respond dismissively. The other mum will then look at me in awe, no doubt wishing she had my powers. Or mental condition. Or indeed both.

Well all that has now been proven to be inaccurate.  In the last one week, the scales have had a recalibration. Stress levels, down. Shouting frequency, down. Accidents, greatly reduced. Even whining is on the low.  On occasion hubby and I find ourselves calling one or all of the remaining  3 just to see if they are still in the house. Yes it is that blissful. This serenity isn’t being enjoyed across the board, i.e  in other homes that have one less child I mean. While the parents waited outside the coach seeing their children off, there were tears, lots of them. I didn’t see ours off, hubby did. He saw some mothers crying hysterically. Some trying to console their friends, all were about to suffer the same demise for a week. Hubby was baffled. In our house when one child goes away for a short period, we don’t cry, we laugh.

So Friday came and child #3 was off to his sleepover at your house- as you know right after school. We even had the privilege of a 1 hour window with just 2 children as #2 didn’t get back home until 4:30pm. Consequently we were granted an extra night as parents to 3 boys.

Clearly I am getting used to this. I love my sons and love them being around me. But are you sure you said one night and not two? Just asking. Sometimes I do get my dates muddled up.

Thanks so much for keeping our Zack, I would love to return the favour someday but you’ve pretty much just told me that I’m not superwoman. And that I’m mentally stable. I can’t promise anything, but er, ‘we’ll see’.

Yours most thankfully & worrying-about-life-going-back-to-normal-ly,

Toks

Thank you for reading, do come back.

Balloon Boy 2

After my last post on Balloon Boy, I felt a pang of guilt as I had judged the family without any evidence. It didn’t help that a Christian channel had portrayed them as innocent- at least they didn’t suggest that The Heenes were guilty of fraud. Afterall the only thing we had to go on was the body language experts analysing of the size of the sweat beads and how fast they fell from Mr Heene’s forehead.

Well all my fears were laid to rest today (or was it yesterday?) when Mrs Heene admitted to the incident being a hoax. I still feel sorry for them for as Michael commented they were driven to desperation. I agree. Desperation can drive one to do all sorts of things which is why as I raise my kids I enforce boundaries around them. Even on days where they are perfectly well-behaved, I don’t say yes to everything they request- harmless requests included. Like today child #3 asked for cookies. There was nothing wrong with the timing, it was midday. He was neither full-up nor hungry but he had eaten so it was actually prime time for cookies. Plus he was well-behaved (relatively).  But I said no. He asked why and I explained to him that in life you don’t get everything you want.

He did get the cookie later, but only after I had made sure there was no sulking and he was happy not to have received it. It is very hard to pull that one on toddler J. He would scream the house down and I hate noise- all kinds. Perhaps what I should do is say “no” and run outside so I don’t hear his cries.

My prayer is that I raise my children to have a realistic view of life and an unwavering faith in God. That way the chance of ever being analysed by body language experts remains nill to nada.

Toks Reborn.

I hate to budget. I don’t like to pre-allocate my funds before it is spent. It makes me feel restricted, caged even. That’s just how God made me. Hubby on the other hand is all in favor of budgeting, I can’t understand it.  He likes to know what’s going to happen before it does. To me that’s like watching a movie backwards. God made me adventurous and full of fun, I like the spontaneity life offers. 

So when I recently faced up to the fact that budgeting was essential in order to move forward, it felt like the death of  Toks. The realisation came when said subject’s life was haphazardly spinning out of control. I mean its one thing for things to spin out of control, It is quite another to not even know where it is spinning towards. I am not a big spender, but I always happen to find things  I need and  possibly can’t do without.  When I look at my purchases, not one was unnecessary although I’d admit to some being impulsive.

It’s the same with time. I start my day on an excited note usually. I have my quiet time and then get the boys off to school. Afterwards I excersise- today I went jogging. Okay it was fast paced walking. Then I shower and have my cup of extra strong coffee while reading an article from Success magazine. I always read something inspiring, could be a devotional or a newsletter from someone like Dan Miller (48 Hours). By this time I am so revved up, you would think I can physically move mountains. I get really pumped up as I have my first treat of the day- checking emails on my Blackberry. The Blackberry thing deserves a post all by itself, coming soon. I go through my emails, there are those that are important but not exciting, and then there are the exciting but unimportant, still there are the emails that are neither. Like the company in China offering to sell me a container load of baby furniture. Which ones do I address first? The unimportant ones, yep because they are exciting. As if the inspirational cocktail I just consumed was not enough. These emails I describe as my hydra ones since they grow in many different directions. A simple email like this will lead me to a company that sells beautiful products, then I begin negotiations with them, bear in mind that all of this is unplanned. We go back and forth negotiating and then we reach an agreement. I am still excited. I open up an account, and that’s when the hard work begins and pauses to be revisited sometime in the future. Anyway, that was so not on today’s list. I have new accounts that are yet to be touched because I did not allocate time for them. So why do I then go in search of more work? I tell you that is how God made me.

 One phone call to Virgin Media to set up a direct debit will ensure I am not paying £10 every month in late payment charges. A quick call to Vonage will make sure I am on the right tariff and not paying more than I should on my home phone line. £6 in an envelope and given to any of the boys will eliminate the nagging headache that promptly appears after school hours, that is when I tend to remember I haven’t paid the contribution towards the mathematics software subscription.

Do you see why I need to budget my time and money? I am an effervecence junkie addicted to being high yet I have a sneaky feeling I just might enjoy this budgeting thing. I started by creating a meal plan on excel the other day. You should see me staring into space daily as I wonder what to cook for dinner. I was brought up to not have the same meal back to back from one day to the next, so I guess Mom is to blame for all this. Like the need to have rice on Sundays, bless her heart. Well all that staring into space has been eliminated now,thanks to my time table- oh and it’s rice today.

There are some changes I will not be making though, like the need to post on Pawpaw and Mango Blog whenever the heck I feel like it. I should be busy packaging a Magic Mushroom Lamp for a customer in order to keep within our prescribed “5 day delivery” promise, but blog I must- first. Then I’ll budget. He will get the lamp on the 4th day.

Autumn…

I even like the way the word is spelled. It is in a class all by itself, no other words rhyme with Autumn, aka Fall. This is my favourite time of the year. It is the various shades of brown, red, orange, copper and gold. The fact that the leaves fall down slowly, sometimes doing a twirl as they descend steadily. I love the leaves being blown around by the wind. I don’t even mind wet leaves blown on my face in the fall, so long as they are brown, lol! You will most likely catch me wearing brown, orange or green clothing or accessories. Green became my favorite colour years ago when I discovered celery green. The other green- bottle green, I still don’t like. It reminds me of beer bottles and long, boring childhood summers.

At this time of the year I usually scurry around, buying candles, cushions, throws and anything to make my home cozy. Needless to say the colours tend to be warm colors of browns, reds and oranges. I think of  scented candles with fragrances like mulled wine, hot chocolate or baked cookies. I fill my freezer with all kinds of treats as food and comfort go together. I don’t really like to go out in the Autumn, prefering instead to stay indoors drinking hot cocoa, reading a good book and watching those leaves fall from the trees. I love the sight of the squirells doing the same thing, scurrying around filling their homes with nuts before they hibernate. About now I burst into homemaker overdrive, making sure every need is met, the house is warm, smells nice and is good enough to eat.

The fact that it gets dark early only makes it better. It reminds me that I have a roof over my head. I also realise that having a house isn’t necessary having a home. A house you buy or rent, a home you create using ingredients of love, joy, peace, gratitude…

I have no idea what this autumn holds in store for me. There is so much I will be doing without this year, its hard to imagine any semblance of my autumn. However I do have a major ingredient I have never used before- a new attitude filled to the brim with gratitude, joy and peace. I am truly grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with regardless of my list of wants. I choose to be thankful for what I have and not whine about what I want. 

I pray your autumn is filled with all the goodness God has for you, Amen.

He loves me!!!

Ps 139 has become one of my favorite passages of scripture. It talks about God’s perfect love for man. I love the part that says; “your thoughts towards me are precious- so many, more than the sands”. Each of God’s thoughts towards us is precious. Each one of those precious thoughts is like a grain of sand- more than all the sand in the world. So that even if you could count all the grains of sand in the world, God’s precious, loving thoughts towards us is more than that. (v17, 18)

Another verse says; “you have hedged me behind and before, and such knowledge is too wonderful for me (v5, 6). Even if I make my bed in hell, you are there”. God is ALWAYS with us, even if I make my bed in hell, he is there (v8)

Dear Jesus, I thank you so much for loving me and hedging me in with your love and presence. I thank you because I am no longer in darkness. And if I were in darkness the darkness would be light to you, (v11, 12) so I am never, ever hidden from your view. Every thought you think towards me is precious. There are no angry thoughts, or thoughts of disappointment, malicious, irritating or negative thoughts. Only good precious thoughts (Jer 29:11). The reason there are no negative thoughts is because your ways are not my ways and your thoughts compared to mine are higher, even than the heavens (Isaiah 55:8). For that, I bless you- always.

Love, Toks

Why did I do that?

You may have heard the story of the woman who was asked by her daughter why she always trimmed both ends of her joint of ham before she cooked it. Her response was, ” Well, my mother always cooked it that way,  we’ll ask her why”. Grandma’s answer was the same, her mother always cooked it that way too. Luckily great-grandma was still around so they asked her why. Her reason? She didn’t have a pot big enough to cook a whole joint so she had to reduce the size.

A long time ago my cousin told me she didn’t sleep with pillows. That was the weirdest, coolest thing I ever heard. So I started to leave my pillows on the floor, suffering greatly before common sense prevailed.

Another time I noticed a friend wore her wristwatch on her right wrist. Of course by the next day Toks was doing the same.

These days I ask myself why I do the things I do. Sometimes I ask just before, at other times it’s a little too late, but I ask anyhow.  Why did I snap so loudly at my son when he was acting up? Was it to promptly correct him or was it to show the other moms that “I don’t take nonsense”?

Why did I accept that friend’s request on Facebook when I don’t care a hoot about them? Was it because  they are friends with the others in my connection/circle or was it because I’d like to rekindle a relationship with them?

Why did I agree to the hairstyle  my stylist suggested? Was it because I didn’t want to say no or because I was willing to try something different?

Why did I ask for that lady’s phone number at church? I know I won’t be calling her anytime soon!

Dear Jesus, I thank you for making me the beautiful woman I am. Help me to accept my imperfections as tools to make me more like you. I love you Jesus and I thank you for making me love me too!

Empty Vessels

I have missed Pawpaw and Mango. It has only been 4 days since I posted but it seems so much longer. In the last four days I have:

Built a website for my dad, dealt with enquiries and orders from Greece, the UK and the States, went through the bureaucracy of the British customs agency and all their fees and forms for importing goods, begged a friend to come around and work for peanuts, “returned” the kids back to school and had a killer migraine.  Writing pawpawandmango has revealed to your’s truly, the things that matter to her. Food and comfort. I make a lot of reference to food and I hate discomfort. Hence my previous whinge about my sore throat and my upcoming one about migraines.

I had a migraine. I can ususally smell this from afar and have reinforcements ready and waiting before it hits. This time was no different, only it lasted four days. On the evening of day three I went in search of a late night pharmacy for some real medication. Not the Mickey Mouse stuff like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen et cetera, but something with some strength. After selecting my drug of choice, the pharmacist suggested I try Imigran. I was made to fill out a questionnaire and I started to get really excited about this super-duper drug. Especially when the till came up with £8 ($14). It better start to work before I even open up the pack. Imagine my horror when I found out it ony had 2 tablets in it? I nearly drove back with the intention of ramming my car through the glass window of that nice smelling pharmacy. This Imigran had better start working before it gets to my throat; I thought as I gulped down my Tango. My drive back home was peaceful and serene as I listened to an audio book by one of my favorite authors- Valorie Burton.  I wondered what was going on behind the walls of the homes I drove past. I thought of happy and sad relationships, tasty meals and burnt dinners, children who were being abused and those who were having a childhood that the other group could only dream about. This drug better kick in or else I’ll kick someone’s behind! My thoughts turned to my dear friend JK who recently started blogging. She insists it has something to do with me, I’m not so sure. My thoughts go to her because she recently put up a post about Scrabble. And I’m thinking of Scrabble because it was a major part of my childhood. I am blessed to have had a happy one.  Jk is talented, a naturaly gifted writer and I hope she knows it.  Just as soon as she gives me the go ahead and teaches me how to do the blogroll thingy, I’ll direct you to her blog!  The pharmacist said not to use Imigran and the other painkiller together. What he should have said is; “don’t use Imigran. GlaxoSmithkline however accepts your donation of £8, with thanks”.  After all the filling of forms and dancing through the hoops, it was all for nothing. They say empty vessels make the most noise. Nuff said. Thankfully my headaches have ceased and I’m back to normal. But I ain’t sharing that info with hubby as I risk losing the pampering, or as Valorie would say pamperizing! Thanks as always for reading.

Life, Actually

The common cold. It sure ain’t common to me, especially as it knocked me for 6 yesterday. You may have read an earlier post where I chronicled my pet peeves. Sore throat I think was number 3 on the list. It is a simple ailment that everyone gets from time to time, but when Toks gets it, it is no longer so simple. It affects my mood. It affects my energy levels. It keeps me irritated. It ensures I look only to self, thinking that self is going through the ringers, all for a sore throat. I want to stop ALL activity, hide under the covers and place myself on propofol (tasteless I know, couldn’t resist).

It is the same way with a pebble in your shoe. You have a head (hopefully just one), shoulders, arms, knees, feet and everything else. Yet one pebble touching just one of your ten toes on one of your two feet, which is one of your many body parts can cause you to stop your journey, sit down and work at dislodging that pebble.

A similar scenario is this journey called life. An annoying pebble finds it’s way into our grand big plans and throws us off course, causing us to sit still and take the time to make the journey less tedious. Sadly by the time the pebble is removed, we’ve missed the bus of opportunity. We catch another one but it takes us somewhere else, not to our dream destination but an alternative- one that “will do”. Some even forfeit the journey altogether and go back home, to the job they hate or the relationships that hinder.

Meanwhile there are those other travellers who are just like us  but in unlike some of us they have no shoes and are used to walking on, in and around pebbles. Every step they take is bound to be taken on pebbles. Yet they keep going because they know they will get there and they also want to, at any cost. And they arrive at their desired destination reaping the rewards that come with persistence and hardwork.

Can you ignore the pebble in your shoe today? It will not kill you. I ignored my sore throat for what might possibly be the first time in my life yesterday because I am self-employed and can’t afford to take time off work. I actually survived the day, surprise, surprise! Yesterday came and went, I worked through it all and today I am fine. I shall not spend the evening even thinking about buses I’ve missed. Thank God for countless second chances in Christ.

What’s your pebble?

Success at any cost?

I work very hard on the business, not because I want it to generate an income, rather I want it to be hugely successful.

A while ago the boys and I visited my cousin who had just flown into London from Chicago. While we chit-chatted with his host -a really nice man, the said host suddenly appeared on TV. He was being interviewed, something that regularly occurs because of the nature of his job. I pointed him out to the boys, It was hilarious the way their big eyes darted first to the T.V and then back at the man, over and over again, mouths wide open as they peered to make sure it realy was him. Perhaps they didn’t believe me. Perhaps they wondered how he could be in their midst, in a house and at the same time on the T.V?

This man is a human rights activist so needless to say our conversation turned to the “plight” in Gambia. First of all I didn’t even know Gambia had a “plight” I tried hard to feign interest while all I really cared about was getting PP on TV. “How, oh how do I bring up my concerns about exposure of my business purely for profit making while we discussed the exposure of the atrocious Gambian president- without branding myself as insensitive?”

I left really pleased about my education on Gambia, Nigeria and other African countries and what Amnesty international is doing to help. I left considering my own selfishness in my own little world and how we all have a part to play in assisting the other man or woman beside us. I was also glad that my quest for success had not yet seared any feelings of benevolence and that it was not too late to start.

Lord I thank you for the many gifts that you have placed within me. I pray that I use them selflessly to glorify you and to bless the people around me, for the gifts are not mine to keep, but to pass on. Amen.

The Lady, Du Pain & The Perfect French Manicure

So there I sat on the Eurostar excited about my very short break away from normal life. The last time I was in Paris was on my first wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were so shocked and disappointed that everything was actually in French. The knowledge that they are French people did nothing to soothe us as we listened to the 60th re-run of CNN in our hotel room- the only TV channel in English. It annoyed us to see blockbuster Hollywood movies voiced-over in French. How dare they? Eventually common sense reigned and we agreed to enjoy our holiday so we did. Lots of french bread (du pain), ham and cheese, but we did.

Fast forward 12 years and I wasn’t too keen on the sights, I just wanted to see my friend whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years and enjoy my VERY MUCH needed break. Alone. Deciding I would need a dictionary, I wondered why Costa Coffee didn’t sell them, it was the only shop without a queue. I ignored the fact that the French customs sign at St Pancras Station in London was written in French first and then English. I even pretended not to notice that the announcements in the train were in French and then translated into French-English. What I could not deal with was the newsagents who had a section for foreign publications, aka English. That was way too much to bear. All was forgotten though when I checked into my hotel, kindly assisted by Ganiyu, the cheerful Nigerian who spoke Yoruba (yo-hu-ba) with a French accent.

I had asked for a single bed- when they said single bed, it meant single-side-of-your body only. But it was my room and mine alone. It was blissful, clean and smelt nice. All TV channels were in French without the luxury of CNN this time. But it was fine. I had an attitude as I went for a walk to the market and in search of MacDonalds, wondering why I felt so superior to the French that I was unprepared to sample their cuisine. For some reason I didn’t even try to speak the language, I couldn’t be bothered and had a strange feeling they should concede to me. I guess it was my irritation at the bewildered look on their faces when I asked where the nearest MacDonalds was. It’s no wonder they are not fond of the Brits. Or the Americans.
At the nail bar the entire pricelist was in French. Surely a French Mani/Pedicure cannot be that pricey, they are the originators. Wrong! these folks charged me 67 Euros! That’s $95 dollars y’all. When she told me the price I quietly prayed she meant 16 Euros. My prayer was ansered, answer- “No, it is 67 Euros!” The mani/pedicure was PERFECT.

On my way back to the hotel I decided against listening to music so I could soak in the sounds, scenes and culture of Paris. I enjoyed doing so. It felt surreal that I was in another country, surrounded by strangers yet was so peaceful and filled with joy. I thought it’d be nice to have some French food for dinner after deciding there may be French word for Chinese which I didn’t know. On my way to the French restaurant, the smell of something familiar wafted up my nostrils. Minutes later I was in the hotel room, watching a movie on my phone and eating the best kebabs ever, served by the friendliest Turkish guys… oh well, French cuisine will have to wait!
And then Shade and I met up, but that’s another story 🙂

Thank you very much Lord.

A little while ago I thought to myself what a blessing it would be to have a people-in-business think-tank. Small business owners cannot always afford the luxuries of having key professionals in place. Experts that will no doubt propel your business forward while building you up. An SEO expert, Tight-Wad Accountant, Knowlegeable Legal Team, The Talented Copywriter, Organised Administration, Red Hot PR, The Big Marketing Firm, etc. I don’t remember praying about it but I thought about it. A few of us getting together to share our knowledge without the price tag would be of tremendous help to each of us- A few days later I got a phonecall from a dear friend, she wanted a date to meet up with another friend in business. In a nutshell, our little think-tank was born.
Years ago, I was lamenting to a friend that I hated wearing glasses. At the time laser surgery was probably still a concept in someone, somewhere’s mind. He said; “do you believe God can heal your eyes?” My evasive answer, “er…yes”. That was it. Maybe he prayed for me, maybe he didn’t but the reading on my eyes began to improve. The word says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. God gave me the desires of my heart without my praying for them. I just desired, and He granted. This warms my heart so much, the knowledge that the Lord loves me the way He does. And to add to that, He lets me know daily. Like the day asked the Lord for direction with PP. I was spreading myself thin and every task was as equally important as the next so the word priority was useless to me. I got a call from an organisation appointed by the government to give help to small businesses- for free! Or the other time when I prayed and asked the Lord to help me get organised. I did not inherit mum or dad’s organisational skills, LOL! I was overwhelmed with work and ideas and about to purchase my 6th notebook, I think that was the “marketing ideas” notebook. And the Lord promptly blessed me with a filofax.

Lord I thank you so much for loving me the way you do. I thank you that I never have to worry about my needs being met, ever, you are always faithful to deliver. So today I sit back and watch expectantly as you make my life so beautiful that it becomes a song of praise to you.

Personalised Birthday Cakes for Cats & Whatever else goes on in Harrods

Still on my the-sky-is-the-limit-and-I-can-SO-reach-it quest, the boys and I took a trip to the Natural History Museum- and ended our day out in Harrods. I explained to them just how expensive this store was- simply because they love to amass facts and I wanted them to be more knowledgeable. What I didn’t plan for was Child #2 to ooh! & aah! very loudly at the price of EVERYTHING. “Aaron, come and see this!!!! Mom, just look at the price of that”. My efforts to try and blend us in as regulars failed miserably. Especially when #1 and #2 started their loud squabble about who knows what. They wanted the cute kitten that was going for £750. They went on about the lift- saying it’s made from “real copper man”. But we all had fun on the 4th floor. Even baby J was facinated by the life size stuffed animals. I had no answer for them when they asked why any one would bake candy-stripe sugar cookies for dogs and personalised celebration cakes for cats. Its not like dogs can tell colours or cats can read.

All in all, it was real good fun and my morale for the day to the kids was; “regular shoppers in Harrods are just like us, we just won’t spend £500+ on a miniature sleigh bed for a dog or indeed shop at the pet deli counter”. I said we can, but we wont. Amen.

Verbal Dyslexia

I get that from time to time but tonight it is because the 9 year old is asking me questions such as “What happens if I drink food colouring?” , “Have you heard of a banana slug mum? What would you do if you saw one?” Did you know that snails are not slimy, they are slippery and slugs are slimy? He is telling me such interesting facts like the breathing hole of slugs, what DNA stands for, etc.
While this is going on, the 6 year old is going on about the plane he’ll be building. He has changed his mind, it will now hold just 4 people. Himself, his best friends Daniel and Kiki and spidy- the 16 month old teddy who never wears his spiderman outfit.
Lets not forget the baby saying “wap-wap, wap-wap”. If you have not figured, that is baby-speak for Wrapper- I want to get on your back. The 8 year old is quiet. That’s never good. Especially as he’s just got a new experiment kit, he’ll take things beyond the kit.

So with all of this going on simultaneously, how would I not have verbal dyslexia? I am somehow supposed to respond to each child articulately at the end of their questions or comments instantly, and without being partial. As usual I have about 4, no 6 thoughts unrelated yet by default going on in my head that need to be sorted out and acted upon. We haven’t even talked about the mutating laundry basket, I swear I saw it’s new arms move.
The Lord is indeed my strength, I’m still smiling and i’m genuinely happy.

I do respect you but…

I’m worried that my dentition is slowly changing- I am hooked on Alpen. I don’t know how it started, niether can I pin-point the genesis of it, but for a while I have become quite partial to this cereal. I warm the milk only slightly so my Alpen remains crunchy. I love all the nuts and oats and totally love the raisins. I’m thinking about Alpen now. I should be busy preparing work for Mitul to carry out tomorrow, especially as he’ll be on holiday for 4 days next week. He is off to his village for a celebration- the birth of Shree Krishna.
I prayed with Mitul a while back to give his life to Christ so when he mentioned Shree’s name I was perturbed. I asked if he still believed Jesus was the only way and the only son of the heavenly father, to which he replied; “yes of course. I respect all gods”. How do you share the love and incomparable greatness of God almighty without being condescending to an Indian god decked out in bling and wearing bright pink lipstick?

Why My Rice is Never Soft

Today’s dinner was Jollof Rice, Turkey, Fried plantains, Coleslaw/Potato salad and a glass of coke. I tend to cook my rice just done, not soft. I like the grains separated and chewy, not sticky and …whatever the word is- you know what I mean. I wasn’t raised on chewy rice. On the contrary mum’s rice is quite nice and soft.
It all started in boarding house when Toyin and I went with Mariam to visit her mum. Mariam’s mum made this yummy jollof rice with carrots, all separated. Each grain of rice was coated in its own sauce, same as the carrot pieces. So if you’ve ever eaten at my home and wondered if I simply couldn’t cook plain old rice, be rest assured, I can. It all started years ago when I visited Mariam’s mum…

What turning 30 did for me…

That was 6 short years ago, the effects of which I still enjoy today. My chat with dear friend F (happy 30th!) brought this to the forefront of my mind. I have always loved the end of the year. Mum used to get my brothers and I together to pray into the new year. At the time dad was a socialist- referred to in a newspaper article I read as a child as the marxist, military doctor. So church was out of the question for him, he found it funny when on mum’s insistence we’d invite him to church 3 times a year- easter, christmas and new year’s eve. Anyway mum’s annual new year’s eve prayer amongst many others would be “Lord God, please let 1986 (or whatever year we were in) go with all its bad luck. Let all the bad things that happened this year NEVA, NEVA repeat itself again, AMEN!!!” Amidst the new year’s festivities, riding our bikes, climbing trees etc, she’d shout at us if we were being over exhuberant or naughty and say “IN THE NEW YEAR??? You’re already being naughty??” So the start of the year has always held a major significance for me. I have always seen it as a clean new slate, old things have passed away, all things have become new and don’t stain the new with old, bad habits.

When I turned 30, the same held true for me. I’m an April girl so it was a 2nd opportunity for a new start. I decided to take stock of my life. I’m an adult now, I told myself even though I’d been for all of 9 years- 7 in my parents eyes as I became an adult only when I got married. I looked back at my life and noted the things I loved about me, from my handwriting through my hair to my personality. My handwriting isn’t all that by the way but it is mine- it’s always been with me and I love it! I love my life. I love my friends, I love my family. I absolutely love my childhood and every memory I have. I of course noted the things I wasn’t so fond of. There were a few of them. I tend to procrastinate. I am not confrontational. In fact when I turned 30 I realised I could be quite a pushover- not very attractive. So I made a decision to turn things around. I started saying “no”. Like being in church and the pastor tells you to “write this down” or “underline that scripture”. Half the time I don’t want to because I want to underline what speaks to ME at the time I read it in my quiet time, also I hardly ever go back to read the notes I’ve taken. Then I end up with a stack of notebooks cluttering my bedroom, and feeling guilty if I attempt to throw them away. God showed me that I was free. Free to make my own decisions based on the wisdom He gave me and not based on the opinions of man- not even a man of the cloth.
I have always been an avid reader but at 30 I started to read with purpose. I read books that will bless me and not simply to have another gist for my girlfriends at our next buzz session.

At 36 I still say “no”. I say it gently but firmly. I make decisions based on how it blesses me and mine and the persons involved, not simply to fulfil the status-quo. I get tested everyday. At the hairdresser’s 2 days ago I fought the urge to hold a conversation with my stylist when all I really wanted to do was catch up on my reading. It still feels akward sometimes, the need to make conversations that end up being peppered with pregnant pauses.

I pray I don’t stop being the sweet girl I was while growing up. Cynicism sometimes tries to usurp that sweetness but I have Christ in me.

Dear Lord, I thank you for creating me, just as I am. I love the work you are currently doing in me, making me more like you daily. And Lord I pray where I have lost that gentleness as a result of life simply happening, replace it with your fragrant presence. Lord I also pray that my life will immensely bless all those I come into contact with, in Jesus name Amen

Thanks as always for reading!

Longer Days & Shorter Nights

I try to avoid posting while working but I had to get this off my chest. I had a customer looking to buy a bed. That always makes me happy so of course I am pleased. Then she emailed to say she’ll buy it if I could give her a discount. We have some discounts floating around some sites so I give her a code. Doesn’t she call me back to ask for free delivery because other companies offer that too? About now I was ready to offer her the bed for free and ask the delivery man to smash her head with it once he got there.

The flip side is though if you don’t ask you wont get. And that’s what the bible says, ask and you will receive. So irritated as I am I do admire this lady who couldn’t care less that she might have come across as cheap, and why should she? It’s not like we know each other or I pay her rent. I’ve taken a leaf from her book today and will be sure to ask for a discount even when one is already being offered. The worst that will happen is an irritated call handler on the other end wishing the delivery man would smash my head.

I’ve been going through a lot of asking today- I haven’t been asking (that much), its the boys. Mom can I have a biscuit? Mom can we watch a movie? Mom where are we going today? Mom where are we going tomorrow?
I know they love me so I’ll ignore warning signs that those boys are out to get me. All my plans to let them stay up as late as possible so they get up late the next morning have backfired on me, big time. They stay up late and wake up early so its truly longer days and shorter nights in our home, bless them.

And now, let the weak say I am strong…

Somebody help me. I am suffering from a complete paralysis of creativity, i.e the ideas are there. The plan is in front of me. I’m even fired up to go onto the next step with my newly acquired accounts. I should be excited, I am. I should be putting my head down and working my butt off, I can’t. And no, there was no red bull today either.
Common sense tells me I need to sit back and re-fuel self. I need to pick up my bible, and let the water of God’s word wash over me so I am refreshed and energised. I just heard my mind say to me, “no Toks, you can’t, you have too much to do”.
The Holy Spirit just replied, “Yes Toks, you can. You make the decisions, it’s your life”
So it ends here. My life being run by circumstances. It’s now the other way, the way God intended it to be. One of my favorite scriptures is “I am come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” I love and receive the promise of abundant life daily. The promise of a life free from slavery, slavery to self, slavery to circumstances. The promise of a life full of hope and dreams regularly coming true.
Another scripture I love says I walk by faith and not by sight. The Lord (Himself) taught me what that means. Though your eyes can see the exact opposite of what you have prayed for, though you may be weak from ill health, though your account balance shows a negative, don’t walk (make decisions or come to conclusions) by your natural senses (sight, hearing, feeling). Instead walk by faith in His word. Walk in and by God’s promises for your situation- let the weak say I am strong.
I am strong today, real strong. Thank you Jesus!

Quiet Anxiety

That is what I feel presently. The boys broke up from school today. Its six weeks of being at home with them, six. What didn’t help was the way they rushed in expectantly today screaming, “school’s out mum!” They are so excited. The energy in the house has reached a fevered pitch. The holiday has not even started but I have started to panic, big time. How Lord how do I keep 4, no 5 energetic boys occupied and satisfied for six weeks? Their cousin is visiting with us so it is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Good because their eyes are off me some of the time. Bad because I hate noise.
I have laid down ground rule 1. Do not, I repeat do not touch my laptop.
Baby J has learned how to scream. He screams for everything. Today he screamed because he wanted me out of my swivel chair so he could push it to the kitchen. He screamed at the shops because he wanted to push the trolley and he couldn’t reach the handlebar. Then he screamed when I took him into the ladies fitting room to teach him how to scream with his inside voice. I had a pink blouse for decoy. It was a size 10. I was a size 10 a few years ago.
Prayer:
Dear Lord, you know I am not supermum. I need you to draft a watertight plan that will work for all of us, so that at the end of 6 weeks, I’ll still have my sanity and my children would have grown big and strong, more knowledgable of life and more in love with you Jesus, amen.

Misery loves company…that’s why she hangs out with pessimism

A lot of my favorite quotes are by Winston Churchill, like “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” and “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem”

So there I was working diligently on the business and not giving up despite the Global Financial Crisis and other factors pressing in. My eyes are on God from where my help comes. I know I am the head and not the tail when the phone rings. Someone was calling to…encourage me. Here’s how it went;

HER:So how’s business?
ME: So-so, okay
HER: I hear things are quite bad for retailers, how are you coping?
ME: Yeah, its the survival of the fittest
HER:So how bad are things for you?
ME: As bad as it’s going to get, we can only go up from here.
HER: No,Toks I heard its going to get worse
ME: Well even if it does, it’ll get better.
HER: But I heard it won’t be better for at least 3 years!
ME; (Where is this broad from?) I don’t think so, you see ev..
HER:Don’t be fooled! It WILL get worse, ALLLL the financial analysts have said so…
ME (Desperately trying to change the subject):So how’s work?
HER: O.K. Everyone is holding unto their jobs no one wants to be fired.
ME: Thank God for Jesus, he’ll never leave nor forsake us
HER: Hmmm. So what are your plans?
ME: Plans?? (Who is this woman??)
HER: Yes, you have to have a plan B now?
ME: Shut up heifer (only kidding!)

Words are powerful. After that phone call, my peace was indeed disturbed. I was well aware of the state of the economy prior to the call. And I was fine and happy to work harder to counteract the challenges. Now it felt like I had just been informed for the 1st time that things were bad and businesses were suffering. I sat haunted by those words. I prayed and was revived, praise God. Now I know to pray before I speak to her and not after. When her number comes up I plead the blood of Jesus on me, focusing on my ears. I also know that in the course of our conversation, once I bring up the name of God, my friend flees the scene of the crime, ha ha!

There is a recession yes, but I refuse to wait for it to pass. It is perfect timing to strike out and make something beautiful of our lives. My sun is shining so I’m off to make my hay:)
Night night!

Lazy Thursday

I had an evening nap. That’s enough reason to call it a lazy day. The boys had their sports day at school- they were supposed to. It was cancelled because the school authorities thought it would rain. It didn’t. The fear of the unknown is indeed one of the most common reasons we miss out on opportunities. Sadly the thing we fear usually doesn’t come to pass. I look back at chances I didn’t take because I feared the outcome. Relationships I avoided. Advertising I didn’t pursue in case they were only after my money and there were no results- I’m not a big fan of print advertising. Trips to the park I didn’t take my children to in case it rained. Business opportunities I did not snatch up in case it failed. I think the sports day should have gone ahead.  If it rained, the kids would simply have gone back into class. They had a plan B but went for it prematurely, why didn’t they simply go for A and then fall on B if needed? Lord help me be brave enough to go for your best, every time. I know that if I fail, you’ll pick me up again!

Hello Good People!

Welcome to my first post. I am so excited to put my thoughts out as there’s plenty to say about me! I am a born again christian woman, in my 30s, happily married with some really adorable children. I wouldn’t do much of an introduction as I hope you’ll come back again and again to get a glimpse into my wonderful world!