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Stalking is a Strong Word…

On my way home from the school run I saw what looked like a cat being walked. On a leash.

I whipped out my phone to take a picture, but couldn’t quite get a good shot of it.

The dog that thinks its a cat

The dog that thinks its a cat

The owners are an older couple. They’re walking their dog which appears to be dressed up as a cat. I drive slowly behind them to try to get a clearer shot. The blasted trees are getting in the way, thankfully no cars are behind me. They keep walking, I drive up some more, now we are near the junction and I don’t know if they’ll be turning left or right. So I slow down to a crawl. I reluctantly admit to myself that I may have stalking tendencies. Then again don’t we all? I say a silent prayer that they turn left since that’s the direction of my house. They turn right. I turn right too. Now this road is one if those thoughtlessly constructed ones where the trees separate the sidewalk from drivers trying to get a good view. It’s even harder to take a pic unless I come out of the car and walk behind them. But I can’t find a parking spot. Eventually I find one far ahead which means I have to wait for them to go past. I pull up, starting to get rather annoyed with this couple. You’d think they knew I was stalking following them because now they are deliberately being difficult.

So I come out of the car, it occurs to me it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a shot from the front as well as the back. But we’re the only ones in the area and it’ll be hard to conceal taking a photo of them. I also have on red loafers, I ditched the boots to get spring to hurry up and come. Do you know anyone who hasn’t had enough of winter? Even those in tropical countries are just about done with it. At this very moment I ask myself how exactly I got to this juncture in my life. That I am chasing an old couple and their dog? I start to contemplate simply asking for a photo of their cat dog. But what if they say ‘no’? I know there’s no way I could live with myself after taking a long detour and risking arrest for stalking while dealing with a migraine- if I don’t come away with my picture.

They’re getting closer.

Deep breath! I put on my “trust me I’m harmless voice” it comes out a bit higher pitched than I intended.

“Your dog is so cute! What’s his name?” Dumb question Toks, that’s the question you reserve for strangers’ babies.

”Cindy”

”Wow!!! What sort of dog is she?” Again too enthusiastic, tone it down sister. I suspect she’s a corgi, but just in case I feign ignorance. Telepathically I inform them she is so pretty she looks better than whatever her actual breed is which is why I don’t recognise it.

”An American corgi.”

”So adorable!” Wrong answer again Toks, get with it.

”What sort of dog do you have?”

”I don’t have one yet, but my children want one, however I grew up with dogs” I announce proudly, to let them know I belonged in their circle. That  I too, was a dog owner. In the past.

I quickly go back in time to Benin City where we had Scooby, Scrappy and Snowy. I don’t know what sort of dogs they were because in Benin they just call them dogs, except they are German shepherds or Alsatians which I know quite well that ours weren’t. I hope they don’t ask, I can’t just say local dogs now, can I?

They advise me that this dog who used to be a show dog is quite difficult to maintain and requires 2 hours of coat brushing daily. So to think twice before I get one for the boys.

“Can I have a picture?” I blurt out. ”Of your dog?” Bated breath. She looks surprised- or is that suspicion? She looks at her husband, he looks puzzled, or is that pride that their precious dog is so beautiful that strangers want a picture?

Meanwhile I’m wondering, why the hesitation? it’s only a dog! I understand the dangers of babies pictures circulated on the internet, could they also share that apprehension?

”Of course you can, sit Cindy”!

Cindy.  Former Show Dog

Cindy.
Former Show Dog

Isn’t she beautiful?

But now we have a problem. Because the whole thing that got me embroiled in this malarkey started with what Cindy looked like from behind. And I still don’t have that picture. I find myself at another crossroad for the second time this morning. I realise I can still save myself. I have a good life. Besides the weirdness that comes with being a parent, some may even say my life is perfect. Why would I destroy what was once beautiful? How would I explain myself to my dear parents who worked hard all their lives to give my brothers and I the best life they could afford? I can hear people discussing my ‘plight’; ‘And she seemed ok o, we heard she became a dog chaser, stalking old people in her neighbourhood”. I could see myself on TV and in the Voice newspaper.

With that I got in my car, turned around and headed home.

Now what dog do you suggest I get for the boys? And please don’t say a local dog.

Crazy, Ditzy, Cool

Crazy, Ditzy, Cool

Crazy

I owe The Wordsmythe an apology- and that’s putting it mildly. I stole her fiance. In the dream she was getting ready for her traditional wedding. There wasn’t going to be a white one, she was marrying  Chief Muyiwa, a semi- illiterate man. I don’t know how and where my obsession with illiterate old men came from to the point that I have now started to dream of stealing someone else’s own. Nkem, forgive me, I’m baffled myself. Anyway, in the dream I positioned myself for a hostile takeover of her husband-to-be but pulled back just in time. Needless to say her aunties were not pleased. I have no idea how I got from the village to Kent but I’m glad I did.

Today I’ll be explaining Apartheid to #4. That’ll be a challenge as I don’t want him looking strangely at our caucasian friends and questioning if they have any desire to rule over his family. He is likely to do that. The thing is he would start his sentence with ‘my mother said…”

Hubby, I have had to ban from grocery shopping. In a bid to cut down on my workload I shifted the weekly shopping responsibility to him. The man buys premium everything. I walked in to find a pack of Andrex-quilted-scented-premium-luxury-limited-edition tissues in the kitchen. I had one question. ‘Why?

However there are some things I won’t compromise on, like cotton buds. It has to be Johnson’s. Add cotton wool to the list too as the last one I bought appears to be polyester instead of cotton- completely useless at removing nail polish. It glides all over my fingernail as though the polish is the one trying to take the cotton wool off.

Talking about nail varnish, I am currently obsessed with glitter polish. I used one the other day and referred to it as glitter burgundy. My friend asked; ‘Is that burgundy? It was a simple question yet I spent the remaining part of the week staring at my nails  asking chanting; ‘burgundy or purple? burgundy or purple?

Ditzy

I was invited to the launch of BMW’s first electric car. It was a very posh event. Posh because of the canapes and ‘very’ because of their size. Seriously. The whole evening was spent trying to figure out how on earth the canapes were made. Even with tweezers it would have been quite a task to layer one itsy-bitsy shred of slow-roasted beef over a crouton piece of pastry drenched in half a drop of sauce. Every so often a waiter would show up with a teeny wooden platter and 8 pretty ones perfectly arranged for presumably 8 people. He would begin the spill; This is french Pain de mie with slow roasted pheasant and a single dried olive dipped briefly in a 200 year old rice vinegar, drizzled with  olive oil and a hint of mild Japanese black pepper’. By the time he finished I’d have popped two or 3 in my mouth. How some people were able to bite into them is beyond me. I didn’t want to appear any less dignified than I already did by also taking a photo with my blackberry, but they were the size of #4’s thumbnail. Then there was the small matter of the verbal faux pas. When a representative told me the staff each had a company BMW Toks of course forgot herself and asked if they had vacancies. Half jokingly, half serious. He looked at me quizzically, no doubt wondering why one who couldn’t drop £100k for a car was doing in their Park Lane, Mayfair showroom. We were looking at the i8 due out later this year. I noticed Helen take 2 steps away from me, denying that she even knew me. I heard Aji’s thoughts as she wondered why her friend would embarrass her in that manner.

We’ve had some big changes on the business side. Very exciting indeed. Now I go to the website and spend about 5 mins smiling in sheer admiration. And another 5 wishing I had spent that time working instead. I’ll be writing a book on our business experiences. Crazy customers featuring will include the one that told me he wasn’t excited about the pregnancy since his wife had STDs.

Cool

I have been invited to speak at a major event at the NEC in Birmingham. This is huge. So understandably I spent the first 2 weeks waiting for the email to tell me they were sorry- it was sent to me in error. Consequently I haven’t prepared yet. And mild panic is starting to set in.

On that note I’ll stop for now. What have you been up to?  I’ve missed you!

Operating Manual of Number 4

”I can’t wait to meet #4” He is so cute!!

I write a lot about #4 because, well I figure that by the time he’s old enough to read my blog the world would have moved on from blogging to another oddly-named fetish, yooking- or some other term- unintelligibly sounding, yet life changing on a global scale. It’s not like we knew twittering would ever become a verb used by humans.

I feel sorry for those who have expressed innocent interest in wanting to meet #4. Like Kemi- formerly justjoxy’s friend but now mine. She kindly invited us to her daughter’s birthday party and ended her invitation with; ”I can’t wait to meet #4”.

Let this be a quiet, but sound warning to all who wish to meet him.

1) He would not ‘greet’ properly. It’s not like I haven’t tried with him. Now he says ”Good afternoon, evening” but he doesn’t look up when he does. Unlike Tolu’s boys. Those boys can greeeet!!!

2) He hates being woken up every morning. He rants and raves about how his day has been ‘ruined’ by the one who woke him up. ” You have ruined my day”. ”Now my day is spoiled”. One day I picked him up after school and he asked; ”anything fun after school today mum?” He looked so hopeful, his deer-like eyes staring expectantly at my hardened ones. I replied with a steeliness that matched my eyes; ”no, we’re going home”. His response? Flaps arms about in frustration and says; ”you ruined my day in the morning, in the middle it was fine, and now you ruined it again at the end”. I had to call a friend to share this episode, it was too much for me to handle on my own

3) He believes blood comes from the devil. Because it hurts when he bleeds. Our most recent conversation on blood went something like this;

”What happens to Batman’s blood when he gets cut with the silver thing and he doesn’t bleed? Mum, why did God make blood then? How do you make silver? Like batman’s silver? How do you make gold? I know, you make lellow (yellow) dark and it becomes gold”. As you can see it wasn’t a conversation as such, I could barely get a word in. Okay truth be told, I had no answers for the child.

4) He is incredibly good with words.  A little wordsmyth he is. He makes up words too like putted. ”I putted it in the kitchen”. And inexpection. All my friends play football, inexpection of George. He likes Tennis”.

5) He wants another brother. Three is apparently not enough and his mother is clearly a child making machine. A Factory.

6) He is irresistibly cute and knows it. Be prepared to be extra affectionate with him. Bear in mind that giving affection to him will not result in you getting any back- in fact you wont even get an acknowledgement. To be completely honest your affectionate moves will be met with deep frowning and resistance. Ignore it all. That’s just how the child chooses to show love.

7) He loves his teacher. This one is quite annoying- and I can feel myself getting rather annoyed as I type this. He honours his teacher’s words above mine. If I tell him to do his homework on lined paper for instance, my request will be met with first an incredulous glance, then a condescending look as he shakes his big head stating the words; ”that’s not how you do it mama, my teacher said…”

I was going to carry on but don’t want to ruin any chances of actual adoption of this child. Unlike #3 who has so won the hearts of the Family *Smith, they literally beg to take him home constantly. Like here. We have been known to forget him with them and I am now certain the reason they bought a larger car was for #3. And that one knows how to charm the socks off them. When we pick him up he walks out with words of praise bathing him; ”He is incredibly polite, he is so sweet”.  ”He loves the baby”. ”The dogs just love him”.

Today is going to be a good day, I can just feel it. I might even come back and add another post that’s been brewing!

Have a lovely Sunday and thank you for reading.

May I shamelessly beg that you add a comment in the box below? It helps me to breathe easy 🙂

Daddy.

When I grow up I want to be like my daddy. My daddy is the best father in the world. He has always been dependable. I remember as a child one evening while he was going out, I felt the need to say something more than just “Bye dad” so I said; “daddy buy me a book” and he did. I didn’t really want a book, it was a flippant request, more like an afterthought. That book became my favorite book for years. I don’t remember the title but it was a book with two stories, that was my introduction to stories with a twist at the end. I cannot even remember what it was about only that I read it over and over and over without ever getting bored.

Another time daddy had planned a surprise birthday party for mummy. It was at a banquet hall and all day there was a lot of ferrying of food from the house to the hall. On the final trip as daddy as leaving for the party, I hid in the back of the car. I could have made it all the way to the party but I announced my presence just as he pulled out of the gates. Daddy found it hilarious! He said; “if you were dressed properly I would have taken you”. He didn’t yell at me for slowing him down or making him turn around to take me back home. That’s my daddy.

He also has the greatest amount of confidence in me, he is absolutely certain that I can be anything I want to be in life, I believe him.  He allowed me to browse through his gory medical books, while mummy tried to stop me as she felt it was too much for a little girl to see pictures of abscesses and strange diseases. The skin ailments fascinated me the most. To think that a human skin could mutate into a mass of puss-filled rash always left me in wonderment. The stomach ulcers and the tumours on organs didn’t hold my fancy for that long, I guess because I didn’t see the inside of the human body regularly so there was nothing to compare it with, but the skin I did. There was one series of pictures that had the stages of an appendix from initial stage to it being burst. Fascinating!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

Daddy used to tell his friends that his only daughter would win the Miss world contest. He said it so often and with such conviction that I accepted my fate. Mummy on the other hand frowned at such suggestions. She didn’t appreciate the thought of her daughter strolling up and down some stage for men to look at. Lai-lai!

My daddy is very accomplished. He retired in his forties to do his own thing, when asked why, he replied that he had reached the pinnacle of his career and had to move in a different direction in order to keep growing. This is true- see post on alligator here

Can you see why I want to be like my daddy?

Did I mention it’s his birthday today? Please wish him a happy birthday, you should see him. He looks 20 years younger than he actually is. Happy birthday daddy, I love you!

Have a lovely day and thanks for reading 🙂

If My Mummy Was Your Mummy…

You’ll have a very good life. It’s her welcoming face. Her cheerful demeanor. The comfort that resides in her voice. When she smiles her eyes sparkle, maybe it’s the tears in them. She’s very tactile so you’ll have to get used to that. Sometimes it is to stroke your face in love, other times its just because. Mummy is very cuddly so you will get lots of cuddles. She says she’s fat and needs to lose weight. We tell her she’s filled with love and needs to remain that way. Mummy has had her share of struggles, notice how I avoided the use of the word “fair”? Mummy is the definition of one who feels hungry just before you do, or the one that feels chilly when you’re about to become cold. Mummy loves sacrificially. You will never want for anything if you are her child, she’s the one who warned me about being too close for comfort with a particular boy.  When mummy warns you about being bad, her eyes tend to grow big and her voice forceful, but somehow it exudes all the love in the world. With each challenge you’ll ever face, you can be sure she’ll feel the pain more than you. If you happen to go to school 10 hours away from home, mummy will brave the elements and bad roads to come and spend your mid-term with you. She’ll arrive with home cooked meals- I can’t tell you what she’ll cook since I don’t know your favorite meal- but she’ll cook it to perfection. She will fuss over you and worry that your skin looks dry which is why she showed up with jars of cocoa butter along with all that food. Convinced that you don’t eat properly she’ll attempt to fatten you up in the 3 or 4 days she spends with you. Her parting words will be a desperate plea for you to eat, after all you are so thin there’s nothing left to lose. Her fussing will carry on until the end of her days. It will not stop when you get married, or become a parent, or become a grandparent even. She’ll always be on “worry alert” just in case something comes up that needs worrying about and while she’s doing that, she’ll be busy praying for God’s protection over you. Meet my mummy, her name is Joy.

Playing God

The whole timetable thingy has been a huge success. You may remember from a previous post where I finally admitted that I needed to budget my time and money. So I started with a weekly meal planner which features my family’s favourite meals. On each day I have about three options- hard, not so hard and dead easy to fit in nicely with my mood or energy levels for the day. I shop for the week knowing exactly what we’ll be eating throughout the week.  Hubby isn’t picky and most of the time is happy with whatever I cook. Occasionally I get the ‘Nah, I’m not feeling that Toks’ . On those days I give him the impression that he actually has a choice. This is when I pull out my other 2 options and he decides. Or so he thinks. As for the kids they don’t have a preference- that’s African parenting for you. There is no “Sweetheart what will you like to eat?” Instead it is “What is that meal you hate so much? Rice and Broccoli Stew? You better clean your plate, I’ll be watching you because that’s what we’re having!”.

Some African Parents love to play God. They decide what their children will study at school. Who they will get married to and when. They plan the wedding, pick the colours and decide on the guest list.  Actually this happens in many cultures. In some cases they even name the children borne out of the marriage, I have a cousin who loathes his own son’s name because his parents chose the name.

So it is with great pride that I preside over my family’s nutrition and choice of meals, even when they think they are exercising their own judgement, it isn’t really the case. Heck I even control their thoughts!

Like the X-factor drama. For my non-UK readers this is the UK’s version of American Idol. Viewers were made to think that they decided on which act stayed and which one was voted off, until Sunday when the two horrors by the name of John and Edward where “voted” to remain on the show. Word is that the results were rigged and Simon has secretly supported those two from the beginning. Poor Simon.

There are rules about playing God. For one don’t protest too much. You don’t want to risk having to make a decision that goes completely against the crusade you have been running. To go from “these boys are horrific, I will leave the country if they win” to “I-I-I  can’t decide” is a banned u-turn and there are cameras everywhere.

So when I take my throne as she-who-cooks-whatever-she-absolutely-wants-to-and-you-must-eat-it, you will not catch me protesting too much when child number 3 tells me he hates fish and don’t I remember that he is allergic to it? I will gently coax him and convince him that tuna is not fish. It’s just another type of seafood. After all I can’t please everyone, I’m not God.

Scrutinize This

Wednesday was me-time, I look forward to any trip that guarantees my own company. Not that I don’t like people but I ocassionaly crave silence. I cherish the drive so much that quite often I don’t speed just so that every long minute is savoured.

I arrived at the hairdresser’s to discover that there was only one stylist present. And she was very presently doing someone else’s hair.  So I waited, enjoying the latest issue of my Success Magazine. Then I called and jisted with JK. Next I called hubby and caught up on household news. I had to text Tolu because my battery was fast running down. Some more texts and a few rounds of wordmole on my Blackberry and I was still waiting.  And then I waited some more. Who begged me to go and have me-time? You wanted me-time Toks?  Whoop! There it is.  

It is all hubby’s fault. On Sunday as I tied my gele, this touch-and-go ritual actually worked first time. I was very proud of myself, the wrap looked fab. When I asked hubby what he thought of it, he suggested that my hair should be covered in the middle to make it perfect. I know better than to listen to that sort of “advice” but I did and regret it till this day. I just couldn’t get my head gear looking fab again so I had to prevent the forced use of the gele (and spousal unforgiveness) by visiting Mane Attraction.

Common sense told me not to tell hubby about the article on healthy eating I read in Success Mag. The article listed the benefits of healthy eating in a way I’ve never quite seen before.

  • Raw nuts increases mental alertness so you are able to accomplish more while staying focused- good for me, I struggle to stick to tasks until it is  completed. 
  • One of the most effective ways to fight our stress response and to stabilize hormones is through lots of water- I didn’t know there was a stressless response to stress.
  • The benefits of fruits and veg and their role in boosting immunity has long been sung- some of us have heard the song but tuned out the lyrics, choosing instead to believe that since one is not overweight one must be fit and healthy.

Needless to say regret set in once I had shared this new info with hubby. He immediately crowned himself Chief Scrutinizer of Toks’ diet. It was on an empty stomach that I planned my evening meal. So when I made my stir-fried noodles with sweet corn, prawns, chopped carrots, bell peppers and chilli,  it was for me to relish every mouthful and not feel as though one was destroying one’s body. I didn’t enjoy my dinner because Chief himself advised me on every spoonful.  But I ate it all, after all I slaved over the stove right?

An author recently said that she has a good friend who calls her on Thursdays to see how many pages she wrote in the week. Accountability helps you reach your goals and keeps you on the straight and narrow. I thank God for my family and friends who keep me going in the right direction. Pawpaw and Mango blog readers keep me blogging as I know you’ll be stopping by to read. You really don’t need to be seeing the same title every time  you pass by, so to you I say a big ‘Thank You!’

A Chief Scrutinizer (or trusted person) should be one you have confidence in and respect, and of course is relevant to the task. I have someone that advises me on spiritual matters, I know who to go to when I need clarity on a business  issue, a few numbers are on speed dial if I need to vent and I even have those on standby if I’m trying to bring a mouth-watering meal to the table and need a tip or two. I would say my friends play a valid role in my life and for that I am truly thankful. I hope yours do too.

Today at The Mustaphas’

Do you ever look at people and wonder (or in my case conclude) what their lives might be like? It’s a habit I have. And enjoy. At the post office today I stared at Mustapha while I was in the line. Mustapha is in his fifties and he is always at the counter. I think he is the Post Office manager because the others direct all their queries to him. His face is rugged, like he has lived and seen a lot in life. His complexion is light brown, Asian no doubt. Mustapha never has an expression, he seems neither sad nor happy,  just…there. The longest conversation I have ever had with him was ‘hi’,  ‘grunt’.

Two spots away sits a middle-aged woman her name tag reads Maureen. I think she’s Asian although she kinda looks Mediterranean too. Her hair is in place and face very well made up. She seems to be enjoying her lunch- I spot some brown sauce, rice and salad. Her lipstick remains eerily in place despite the dripping sauce. I of course start to wonder what her life is like. Does she enjoy her life or despise her boss?  Then she says something about there being some salad left and passes her polystyrene take-away bowl to Mustapha. Aha! They are married.

Now I start to imagine what their home might be like. I conclude that their home is very comfortable and very well decorated. Rugs and wall hangings from Cyprus, dark chunky wood furniture with black metal hinges from India. Rich burgundy soft furnishings with gold threads running through. The scent of  spices hangs in the air. There is a large family portrait above the fireplace showing Mustapha, his wife and their three grown kids. Two boys and a girl. The first son is a doctor, practising in Canada. The second is the girl, she works as an accountant in central London and the last son, the one who refused to be  a doctor, accountant or lawyer works for a nightclub and has started his own gig as a DJ on the side.  Mustapha does not approve as he thinks he should have gone for a more serious profession. He is the one who point-blank refused to speak their native dialect when growing up and as a teenager brought a caucasian girlfriend home for dinner. He frowns each time he remembers the way she spluttered and coughed after her first mouthful of kesari bath, his beloved mother’s secret recipe passed down to Maureen. No one outside of the family knows this so it isn’t really talked about much. The family rarely shout, speaking in measured tones as though they don’t want to awaken the faux tiger fur rug that greets you in the hallway.

The knick knacks on the bookshelf tell the story about Mustapha’s immigration to the United Kingdom years ago. The photograph of him on his bike, with his mother in the bacground laughing heartily- something she rarely did after losing her husband years earlier to a bad illness. The black and white photograph of his young bride taken at their traditional wedding ceremony is framed in a beaded work of art, he promised to send for her once he settled in London and he did. That was 36 years ago.

Finally it’s my turn. The outsider attends to me, asking Mustapha a question about how to change the label on the parcel from Royal Mail to Parcel Force as the customer just realised Royal Mail strikes might delay the delivery of  her parcel.  Mustapha answers her without glancing up. Yep, he is unhappy with his third son’s choice of a profession and it’s all his wife’s fault for pampering him so. Life.

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.

What’s in a name?

Plenty if you ask me. Hubby and I labored and prayed real hard for our sons’ names. We wanted them to have cool names. I think names have an effect on how you get on in life. It also determines who your friends will be. I went to Primary (elementary) school with a girl called Pinky. I don’t know if that was her real or nickname, but she was popular and a lot had to do with her name. I remember how everyone was happy to say her name without hesitation. My older brother was popular in primary school because he had the same first name as a well loved football star- and of course he has a great personality too. (He reads my blogs so I have to be careful).

My full name is Tokunbo (which is really an abbreviation of the full-full name). In the part of town I grew up it was uncommon. I wouldn’t say it was liked or not, it was just… uncommon. In some cases I had to say it twice for people to  succesfully pronounce it nearly accurately. My surname on the other hand was pretty cool, however it was always spelt wrongly and confused with Ferrari- which happens to be my other car. Amen.  So in no time people took to calling me Ferrari, Perreira, Perempe, Ferara and even Fregene. What was funny was how those “in the know”  would confidently correct others who called me Ferrari or another name from the  melange. Their correction? “It’s not Ferrari, that’s a car! Her name is Ferira”. Wrong again.

It would have been simple if my parents had named me a cool name like Alero. That’s my number one name. I love the way it is spelled- easy, love the sound of it and the fact that it begins with the first letter of the alphabet means an Alero has a higher chance of being the smartest kid in class. Seriously, a survey was conducted and the results suggested kids whose names begin with “A” tend to excel. Perhaps it’s because they were usually called first in the register. My first son is proof, so I’m sticking with that theory. I vowed to name my daughter Alero, even if it meant Hubby and I coming to blows about it. Alas, it was not to be, I don’t have a daughter.

Another name mom could have named me is Tolu. It sounds so cool, I mean literally cool like ice cream. To-lu. When pronounced properly it even sounds melodious. I am blessed to have a good friend called Tolu. And no, you didn’t become my friend because of your name. You are just a sweetheart and I love you!

Yet another name I would have been proud to be called is Buki. Short and sweet. Easy to spell and pronounce. When pronounced properly it suggests there is nothing more; “my name is Buki and that’s it”.  Again I am blessed to have another darling of a friend called Buki.  And since you probably never knew I loved your name, here’s proof that I love you for who you are.

There’s more, like Joke, another short and sweet name. It sounds cheerful and happy, just like my dear friend Joke. Always ready for a chat, always so encouraging. Love you Joke.

I’ll stop now, because this was meant to be a post about names and not friends, sparked by am email I received from another dear friend Bayo. Now I have never wished to have your name, because you’re a dude lol! But it is a lovely name and I’m glad we’re friends, hopefully we’ll see soon.

My post on Friendship will be looooooong. I’ll warn you before hand because you’ll need a snack and a drink. That’s when I’ll tell you all about Lara, and Shade and Iluobe (longest standing friend- 33 years and counting) Nneka and Tola and Abi and Bola and Yejide and Suzy and Funke and Ifeayinwa and Andrea and Kennie and Foluke and Bimbo and Tiwana and Tinuke and Mubo and Josh and Alex and Funmi and Folake and Tony  and Tina…..Yes I really am that blessed.

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

Who are you? hoo, hoo, hoo hoo!

I really wanna know… Okay, I’ll stop singing. Last night some dear friend sent me a text saying” guess who this is?” and “What’s your landline number”? It was close to midnight and I was up so after replying to the text, I grabbed the phone waiting. Patiently. It is nearly midnight on the morrow and my friend still hasn’t called. It was a Georgia number and I have my suspicions as to who she (or he) may be and I have narrowed it down to four possible friends but I refuse to break. I’ll stay strong and wait. Patiently. And I know you’ll call. Soon.

I’ll keep you posted!

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 🙂

Joy

I don’t say this to brag but I have been filled to overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. This is a very different kind of joy to what I’ve always known it to be. This joy is alive, it rejuvenates me, causes me to laugh and cry for no apparent reason. Plus I am peaceful too. I first experienced this mind-blowing joy about 10 months ago when I read a little book titled “From Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. I read it when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The only thing worse than having the hardest trial is going through it without knowing if God is even aware that you exist, let alone there to hear you when you call. That’s where I was, difficulty along with the absence of Christ. Yes I was going to church and praying daily but did not feel his presence. What I took away from that simple, small book was that the word of God says rejoice in all things, so we should-all things. I started to learn to simply believe God’s word even if it did not line up with my current circumstance. The Lord does not need our situation to validate the authenticity of His word. His word is what it is. Period.

So I believed God’s word. If the word said I am blessed and there was nill evidence of blessing in my life, I chose to believe his word rather than what I could see or feel. I am learning to walk and live by faith, what his word says is true, and there’s no other proof He has given, so we just trust him. My testimony is looooooooong, but I love to share it so PM me if you want to hear it!

But there was a problem, this new joy was intermittent, and I noticed a pattern. When I take my eyes of God, panic sets in, stealing my joy. If I miss a period of prayer, the joy slowly ebbs away. Not because prayer is the currency of God’s joy, -there is no currency- but because in His presence is the entirety, the fullness of this joy. It goes without saying then that if you leave His presence, you’ll be leaving that joy behind.
Many times I attempt to replace the joy and peace of God with temporal things, but it all fades away after the novelty of the source has worn off- the new car, new home, shopping spree, etc. Jesus on the other hand never wanes, He is constant. The other thing I noticed was that my situation didn’t change yet I was filled to overflowing with joy. Then I started to change. God allows a trial to shape and mold you- painful but the finished product is beautiful. I love the new Toks!

Jesus, I pray you will deliver us from questioning your word and our situations. Help us to simply trust you and follow your leading. You came that we may have life abundantly here on earth before we go into eternity. Make your word true, unquestionable and infallible in our lives, amen.

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.

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.

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.

What irks you?

Everyone has a pet peeve. I have several and I just came across one that is a complete turn off whenever I see it. I received a newsletter detailing the writer’s evening out with friends. His words- “I’ve been to lots of movie night’s but this was the best in 2 year’s“. Emphasis on night’s and year’s. “Night” does not own anything in the sentence, and neither does “year”. The abuse of the apostrophe is my pet peeve. I don’t know why. I did not major in English. I don’t think I’m an above average user of the language but I get distracted when I see an apostrophe ill placed. Funny enough I’m not alone. There is even an apostrophe protection society, no I’m not a member, I have a much more interesting life than being an activist for a punctuation mark.
Other irritations known to me are:

  • The smell of fish
  • Fish bones in my food
  • Rice without fried plantains- not a peeve just an incomplete meal, IMO
  • Standing next to a man or woman on a crowded train with dandruff flakes on their coat or garlic breath or both
  • Sore throat
  • People who try to make me (or anyone) feel inferior

There is more but I won’t be the superintendent of boredom of your day. Thanks for reading, do come back 🙂

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!