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A Brief Report About Nothing

I first awoke at 5:36am. Some days I wake up twice. And I don’t mean postpone waking up by 5 or 10 minutes with the snooze button. No. I actually go back to sleep, the sort of sleep you embark on at 11pm, having left home at 4am to go to work in a factory with faulty machinery. That sort of sleep.

My second wave of sleep was accompanied by a dream in which I was driving. In India. Ladies and gentlemen I’ll have you know that the only time I’ve been to India was in conversation with my friend Tanya who makes Luxury Leather Fairtrade bags there.
I haven’t got ‘go to India‘ on my bucket list. I haven’t even got ‘perhaps go to India‘ on the list.
I woke up again at 9:32am, and thankfully remembered #4 had a birthday party to attend  exactly 18 minutes from that moment. I had my day planned out- and it didn’t include hanging out waiting for him at a party. I wanted to read, blog and do some outstanding work  that’s been outstanding. The double emphasis is not an error. The single good thing about that party is that it was in the shopping centre that housed my favourite cafe.
I arrive looking like the coolest mum in town, no one knows what’s happening underneath; that my insides are carefully knitting themselves back together again, the way it does after you’ve done something as drastic as getting yourself ready and out of the door in 18 minutes, with #4, the one who has Mafia mannerisms, not the one who has a story for every word. That’ll be #3.
I say ‘Hi‘ to the other mums and will forever remain baffled yet stand respectfully in awe of those supreme women who choose 20 or more children, over their own company.
Why would I? When I can go for a Chocolate Viennese and toasted baguette all by myself? The Chocolate Viennese is a steaming mug of chocolate drink topped with a generous swirl of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. I barely finish taking off #4’s coat and escape from the scene like I’m being pursued.
I make my way to the cafe and place my order. I scope out the joint to find my favourite table, the one by the window. That spot is perfect for observing. It is from that seat that I will later swing effortlessly and in perfect rhythm between guilt and justification, as I watch mother after mother arrive for a special time of breakfast with their children . While Toks ran away left hers behind so she could be by herself. That feeling will occur in due course, because like my sleep, I arrive at the cafe twice. Meanwhile I go to pay. My wallet isn’t there. Yes Toks, how can your wallet be there when it’s in your other bag?
I brace myself as I prepare the speech for the security guys as to why I can’t pay for my ticket. At that point I remember a few years ago when I lost my parking ticket . It was the second time in as many days. So I buzzed the help button at the exit barrier to let them know I needed their kind assistance to please let me out. OK I didn’t quite put it like that. They were not ecstatic.
”Madam, did you not use the same excuse just yesterday?”
”Yes I did. Because I actually lost my ticket”
”Sorry madam, but you have to pay a lost ticket fine of £10”
”Ok, but how do I do so when I don’t have my wallet on me?”
By this time a long line of cars had started to form behind me. Some drivers were already craning their necks to see who was holding up traffic.
”Well there’s nothing I can do, I offered. No ticket, no wallet.”
Defiance was starting to set in . Life for me was hard so some drama to punctuate my sadness was welcome.
”I’ll come down to sort it out”.
The security guard sounded like he couldn’t wait to let this woman out. I was wrong. I think what he really said was I’ll sort you out. He came for a fight. He proceeded to erect a temporary barrier behind me and direct traffic to exit on the oncoming lane, effectively locking me between the exit barrier and the makeshift one.
I switched off my engine and got on the phone to hubby. After a few unsuccessful minutes of role-playing as a traffic warden,  he let me through. Hubby’s concern was more for my emotional well-being as I had become rather forgetful and distracted, and it was starting to look like a ‘pattern’.
Thankfully on this occasion I was treated with grace and sympathy and was immediately allowed out without any drama.
My drive home to get my wallet was uneventful, besides nearly running through a red light. I am later seated with my mug and baguette, by the window where I pick up a rhythm; observe, guilty; observe, guilty. 
I picked #4 up from the party, this is #4 who never has enough of parties. This time there were no mild tantrums about leaving. Instead he had a look on his face like something was bothering him.
”Mum, can I ask you a question?”
”Of course sweetie!”
”Are we vegetarian?”
I laugh in amazement at his perfect pronunciation of a word (I think) he has never heard before.
”No darling we’re not. Why do..”
”Oh crumbs! I think we have a big problem mama!”
”Why?”
”I was asked and said we were and I was given chicken nuggets for vegetarians!”
He sounded like being classed wrongly as one meant certain doom for he and his family. Like he had unknowingly initiated us into some kind of cult. I assured him that we were both vegetarian and not vegetarian, we ate everything. I confused him more I think.
I went on to explain that vegetarians didn’t eat anything that was once alive, like chickens or cows.
The next day and I decided to buy some fish, I rarely eat fish but I decided some grilled fish and roast plantains sounded exotic and yummy so fish it was. Blame it on Aji who doesn’t stop going on about her hubby’s grilled fish and plantains. And you know there are some people who would beautify an unsightly item just by the way they describe it? She’s one of those. I had them gutted and cleaned but according to Mustapha ‘we don’t fillet fish here’. And yes he may or may not be called Mustapha.
I showed the whole, gutted, headless fish to #4 and he promptly asked; ”Is it dead? Why did they kill it?”

About now I’m blinking rapidly, wondering if I’m prepared for what might come next. I have never imagined living the vegetarian lifestyle- nothing against them but you can almost say it’s against my religion not to eat meat.

I think I may have created my first vegetarian. And since it’s this particular child, we’re all in trouble. Big trouble.

Do share some words of support. Please!

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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!

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.

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…