Tonto and Mercy’s PDA: This is how to preach the gospel!

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The olive branch from Tonto

Can you believe that this just happened? Is it motherhood or marriage? Is it religion? Is it Christ? Someone even mentioned the Holy spirit. Read on.

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The confession continues

Forget about new year resolutions. See, there is something very deep about motherhood. I know not everyone goes through that phase. But a lot of mothers will tell you that they learnt selflessness when they became mothers. Every mother thinks their child is the best and deserves the best. Doesn’t it put us all in competition, you may think? But it is not so. It is a kind of love that is immediately activated the moment you see a little human anywhere, yours or not. It is why pictures of starving children from our IDP camps or of wounded ones from Aleppo always torment us. It is also why you think some women overreact when they hear of a mum who kills her child(ren) or why we coil when a child is raped. It’s also why it is never right to tell a mother who loses her infant to ‘look on the brighter side, you can have another one’ or ‘We don’t know why God allowed it’. How did I get here? Okay, Tonto and Mercy.

They were Nollywood arch-rivals. It was a Coke and Fanta fight. They were the younger versions of Omotola & Genevieve. Theirs was worse because Tonto was vocal about it. She has (or had) a caustic tongue. Then Mercy fell in love and married this Prince. Two babies later, Tonto meets this guy, settles into marriage and becomes a mum too. Very instructive is the way the former rivals began to brandish God following this development. They found God when they found love or did they find love when they found God?

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Olive accepted: Mercy professes forgiveness and love

Whichever way it happened, I am all for this sweetness. This is what we like to see. Love. Unhindered. See Tonto’s moment of realisation came after she had her child. It is why many women still think the ‘highest point’ of being a woman is to conceive and bring forth a child. I do not agree. But I do not deny the transformations that can happen to a woman from child bearing. Note also that not all women are so transformed after child birth. There is however a higher chance for women who go through pregnancies in the presence and with the support of a partner, to become so transformed. That is also why a lot of these women experiencing this indescribable joy can never understand bitter feminists who are largely old spinsters.

I expect that this morning’s conversation would have continued in the DMs. I expect it would have ended with the proposal of a get-together at someone’s house. I suspect it will be at Mercy’s house since she has more kids. The kids will be in the picture too when the Okojies meet the Obasanjos. It may be a beginning of playdates for the children, if all goes well and they don’t live very far apart. No, the husbands will be absent. Now we await pictures from the tea party. Thank you sisters for this public display of reconciliation and affection.

Goodbye Indomie! Saving cost this economic season

I was at the grocery shop earlier today and the place was packed with items all the way to the gate. I just calmly respected my debit card by picking only what I went in for. These days, no one needs a reminder to stick to the list.

 

Grocery store aisle.
Grocery store aisle.

I know some people still struggle with handling shopping pressure so I have compiled a few tips I employ, to help keep my shopping budget sane.

 

Don’t just believe the housekeeper, look around the house yourself
You see, the times aren’t very friendly. A lot of thinking and pruning need go into the shopping list before one exits the door. Before now, I only wrote shopping guides (more like type a draft text message or Evernote) so as not to forget the necessary items. These days, I write, contemplate, edit, negotiate with the nanny, look in my kitchen store, ransack the freezer, then crosscheck the list again just to be sure that only the required are purchased and no pressing need is forgotten. There are hardly rooms for inclusions outside the list.

What's in the fridge?
What’s in the fridge?

 

Look in the computer as your goods scan. Who shame epp?

This is always easier than scrutinizing your receipt after you already paid.
I have stopped spending time at the till asking explanations from the attendant for why prices increase as rapidly as daily. I have decided to save my energy as the conversations never impact on my bill. These days, I feel absolutely no shame in staring at the computer to see the price of each item as scanned before my total is announced. This way, you can quickly spot multiple entries or identify which items to reduce or remove if your total is going above budget and the attendant is still computing the items. No shame. No pressure.

Don't let him woo you. Look at the screen yourself.
Don’t let him woo you. Look at the screen yourself.

Keep receipts from different stores or a price journal
I now stock receipts from different stores, comparing prices to decide which store to get what item from and who still has old stock. The downside to this is that you have to plan your shopping. You don’t just dash into any store. It may also mean that you will be spending more time getting your same old purchase. If eggs, fish, and plantain are cheaper at the green stall around the bend, why buy same from your one-stop shop?

 

Get creative. Trade time for money
My toddlers are eating a lot more home-made food. The N450/550
that goes into buying a bottle of Beechnut or Cow&Gate bottled food, can no longer be spared. I now use the same bottles to store and freeze her home-made sweet potato porridge, pasta, rice and peeled beans. Yes it means I have to devote time to cooking her special meals and even look up recipes on how toddlers like their meals made. The good effect this has produced is that she’s more open to trying adult meals apart from saving me a good amount of money.

 

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Porridge, beans, pasta stash… 1 bottle = 1 meal

 

Form alliances
My eggs and yams now come in from Ibadan – a neighbouring city. I found out that my friend, Funmi, always has someone come into Lagos weekly from Ibadan. This someone, brings her supplies from her parents. I have therefore teamed up with her and now get eggs for N750 a crate in place of the N1100/1200 which I pay in my neighbourhood shop for the same item. Yes, the Ibadan eggs are smaller, but I couldn’t care less.

Fresh eggs
Fresh eggs

Find alternatives. Bye Indomie!
A carton of 40packets of 70g Indomie noodles has gone from N1450 to N2200. I never thought there could be an alternative to Indomie. The maggie taste and reduced size post-cooking had become so annoying, I vowed to try another brand. Yes, I had some concerns. What if my children don’t take to it? What if my husband (a major noddles consumer) doesn’t like it? What will I then do with the carton of 40packs? But my mind was made up. I’d been exploited long enough. So I asked at the store, 3 days ago, for another brand. I got Mimee. And we have all eaten from it. I LOVED IT. Asked for my husband’s verdict and he said, he didn’t miss Indomie. N400 saved. Case resolved!

 

New favourite: Mimee!
New favourite: Mimee!

 

Conclusion

In the midst of the different survival tactics people are engaging to get by these days, no brand is indispensable. Brands should be sensitive enough to be content with marginal profits or creative enough to source other ways of augmenting income. Don’t be deceitful like Beloxxi cream crackers who in spite of raising cost price, still went ahead to reduce the number of biscuit in each packet. They were deceitful in putting no information on the carton to the effect so that consumers can buy fully aware of the change. I got home with my usual packet of biscuit only to be informed by my son’s nanny, days after purchase, that each packet now contains 2 biscuits in place of 3. Shame on you Beloxxi. I’m now searching for an alternative.

On top is the 'New' carton and under is the 'old'
On top is the ‘New’ carton and under is the ‘old’

In this economy, Chicken is chicken

Have you gone shopping recently? If your barber still cuts hair for the same amount, you should collect the hair he shaves off you at your next cut. And if you are one of those who have a haircut twice weekly, I leave you to God.

 

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In this economy?

 

Suddenly, everyone knows the word ‘economy’. My eleran (meat seller) won’t cut N300 beef again for my children (I’m #teamFitfam now so no red meat for me). Meat pricing begins from N500. My preferred Titus fish is now N400, 450 – the same sizes I bought two weeks ago for N300, 350. Funny, how tomatoes has stayed afloat – the Yoruba kind; not the fat, round, strong, succulent type.

 

Ugu is even worse. Six flowered sticks for N50. To cook a medium-size pot of Edi Ka Ikong these days, you will need to spend at least N500 on buying leaves (in place of N200). Yes, leaves; so you better stop weeding the Ugu and water leaf growing behind your house and ask your children to begin watering them when they return from school.

 

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Children gardening. Photo credit: bloominthyme.com

 

Chicken is healthier than red meat, says my fitness coach, so I was at my poultry seller’s on Saturday evening. As I waited for my turn, the woman before me – clothed in full Owambe regalia – contemplated her purchase.

“How much is chicken?”

“N1000 ma”

“Live nko?”

“Two-five, Two- eight ma. Depending on the size”

“Ha! But Sallah has passed nau”

She contemplates a bit. Fidgets with her purse. Some crisp N100 notes she probably sprayed or was sprayed at the party fell out as she took out her handkerchief. She ‘weighs’ the chicken laps in her hand, not trusting the scale. 3 laps make 1 kilo. She eyes the live chicken staring her from the cage, mutters something under her breath and from nowhere says,  ‘gimme chicken wings please. Chicken is chicken’.

 

 

I burst out in laughter. Our eyes meet. She explains, ‘my sister, this economy ehn…we don’t even know where we are going”. I nodded and sighed in agreement. She collected her chopped chicken wings and left. Then it was my turn to contemplate.

This season, I’m trying well-packaged alternatives. Yes. I’m forced to try out brands I have previously walked past on the shelves. If it can save me a few zeros and is decently packed, I give it a shot. An example is Bird’s 400g Custard jar that now retails for N920. The spirit of the Lord has led me to a new brand called ‘Checkers’ which costs N400 in my estate and N320 outside. Same 400g!

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Checkers yummy custard

Yes, Checkers turns watery quickly if left unattended to after preparation, but frankly I just ensure the kid is ready to eat before I prepare it.
Creativity is so invaluable these days so I have fallen in love with cooking my Okra soup while counting on my smoked Titus fish to secrete sufficient cooking oil. Yes it is healthier dear friend but perhaps more importantly, I don’t have to BUY palm oil! The market conversations these days are truthfully, depressing.

 

This is how my husband helps around the house

How do you enlist your husband’s help in child keeping? I hear some women have it better than others. Are men born or raised domestic? The famous ‘nature or nurture’ question again. While you’re trying to figure out the answer(s), I’ll share a bit of my experience with you.

So yesterday, I asked the husband to help pick up FOUR items for the kids on his way back from work. He bought THREE and came into the house with TWO. My list read:

  1. Size 4 Pampers diaper
  2. Crate of Eggs
  3. Nycil Powder
  4. Packet of big Eva table water

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He bought items 1, 2 & 4. He left item 4 in the car boot because his hands were full and didn’t buy item 3 because ‘they said they didn’t have’. I said, thank you.

My toddler tossed the diaper packs on the floor to play with and I caught a glimpse of the price tag. N2170.

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N2170.Yekpa!

I panicked.

He was napping already. I could barely wait to get answers. Yes I asked for the green packet Nigerian Pampers. But then I’d usually buy the pack of 64 for N2500 or thereabout. Here was a pack of 20 forN2170 and my loving husband graciously bought me 3 packets!

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N2170 x 3 ???!!

So he came out of his nap and I asked and he confirmed he bought each pack as quoted on the packets. I wanted to cry. N6510 for 60diapers! On closer inspection, I realised they were Pampers UK retailing for 4.99Pounds each. But it didn’t matter much to me because UK made or not, my babies change diapers every 3 to 4 hours! Soaked or not! I felt so so pained but couldn’t say much so he doesn’t feel very bad. I kept seeing the stash of diapers that amount would fetch me but then I had to be grateful.

Fast forward to this morning. I boil 3 eggs from item 2 and they were all bad. No, it wasn’t his fault. You see, my husband doesn’t like shopping (except for gadgets). He will point to the first item he sees in the grocery store that shares a resemblance with his list, just so he can get out and be gone. That said, he will rather buy PACKED ‘fancy eggs’ like Funtuna or Ova that now retails a crate of 20 at N870, than have a shop attendant collect a crate of 30 nameless eggs for N950 (He doesn’t even know there’s a difference in price). So, like a good wife, I put the bad eggs back in the crate; retrieve the receipt from the bin, put my son in the car and drive to the neighbourhood mart. Yes good sir, I got my apologies from the store, exchanged the fancy crate for the regular crate and paid the difference.

Not just that. I went to the baby toiletries section, and found a bunch of Nycil powder lying on the shelf. Trust that I asked an attendant if they had just restocked, and the response was ‘no’. Well, I bought one. Item 3 purchased!

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Item 3!

Why I’m blogging about this? Because it’s not a one-off. You see, sometime last month we traveled to a neighbouring country. The kids were having such a good time and Daddy had to go do some work in another country,  so we ( I and the kids) lengthened our stay so we could all return to Nigeria at the same time. There was a problem however. This small country didn’t have my infant’s cereals for sale anywhere so we asked Daddy to ship us some, alongside a few other things, from Nigeria before he left for his trip. He asked for a list and I sent this mail:

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How many of the items came? It will take another blogpost to explain. Let’s just say he took the post script seriously enough so my daughter didn’t starve much.

 

 

 

 

 

Women are the real fixers

Had this post going through my head this morning but was too busy to put it down. I just hope I’m still able to, as articulately as it came.
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Father and son share a moment in matching costumes

So Mary came knocking on my room just before 6 this morning. I responded and she said, ‘ mummy, the gas won’t come on’. I followed her to the kitchen, used the lighter repeatedly but truly, there was no flame from the burners. In effect, we had ran out of cooking gas on a school morning! And I didn’t have a back up.

I asked Mary to go about her other duties and came back to my room. I tapped the sleeping husband: we’ve ran out of gas. ‘The gas factory won’t open until later’, he said, and he went back to sleep. To me, it was a ‘fix it mummy’ call. I didn’t have time to be livid besides I knew he was only rational in his response. He gave me the provider-response not the daddy-reaction I expected. I had to fix my challenge.

NEPA was on strike (as usual), we were on inverter. I need hot water to bathe the kids. I turned on the hot water tap, it had lukewarm water that filled up to three-quarter of a bucket. I bathed the infant managing to leave some for the toddler. Mary diluted the remaining with cold water and bathed Ebuka. He shouted a bit at the first splash, but enjoyed the rest. Bath fixed. Now to food.

Ebuka would usually take two meals – a cereal and anything else, a fruit, snack, fizzy drink and water to school. Today would have been custard (and egg) and fried plantain ( he can eat a whole finger), but there is no cooking gas. So we pack him some Cerelac and milk, and butter two slices of bread ( he loves peanut butter). Ordinarily, I would microwave his bread slightly but today, no NEPA. Toss in the remaining components of his lunch box and voila, we’re set for school!

Olanna is rescued by the hot water in her flask. Sharp sharp, we make formular for madam and tea for oga and everyone is happy! Sigh. In between, I found time for my cold bath and dressed up for an Island meeting. By the time we (Ebuka and I) were heading for the door, dad simply waved us goodbye without as much as a question on how we turned things around. At least he volunteered to refill the cylinder for us. #ThisMummyLife

Share with me what sudden mummy emergencies you have had. Remember to use the hashtag. Let’s make this fun, mums. #ThisMummyLife

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Postscript:
I visited matildaschild’s blog yesterday and read a post (here, http://www.matildaschild.com/?p=1891 ) about spoiling one’s self every once in a while. We def share the same ‘saving money as much as possible for the home’ sentiments by spending less on personal hair and body effects. For instance, I haven’t bought me a body cream in the last three years or more. I simply use the kids’ Shea butter and oils. But the way she captured her first spa experience makes me itch for the ‘luxury’. Yes it’s luxury biko. One I promised myself in my wedding build up but which I failed to have – the spa treatment, that is. So maybe I should head to dealdey or Jumia to find the cheapest spa deals. I just hope I feel as exhilarated as Mathilda did. Meanwhile, if you offer spa services and want to bless me with one treatment, biko feel free to #PamperAMum

Ebuka’s first day at school!

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Ebuka gets familiar with the grounds just outside his school.

If you are like the average parent of under 10s, then you worry about everything.

We worry if they don’t cry or cry too much; if they fall down and hurt themselves; if the nanny ( we so trust) bathes them well or feeds them on time.  We worry if the other kids in school bully ours or if they’ll take to their new teacher. Our kids are everything; and the way they glue to us make us fear they might be insecure by themselves.

So it was on Monday when Ebuka resumed school. Oh my, I was so sure he would cry when left in a class surrounded by strangers. In my head I was plotting how to exit his class in a way he wouldn’t notice. In fact I could hear his voice behind the door after I must have left – in my head. I dreaded the ache I would feel on hearing him cry and being unable to rescue him. But it was all in my head. And that’s where it stayed.

My 22-month-old shocked me. It started from home. That morning, the moment I mounted his school bag on his back (he was seeing and wearing it for the first time), he insisted on carrying his lunch box himself. It was a bit heavy for him so he made several stops from the doorpost to the car. Through the 3-minute ride, he didn’t dismount his back pack (this also means he couldn’t sit in his car seat).

As Ebuka stepped into his class – Sunflower, that Monday, I did not exist. He didn’t look back. He entered talking at the top of his voice with both hands raised high and it wasn’t a minute before the other kids rallied round him saying all sorts. He was like the life of the ‘party’. It looked like the celebrant had arrived. He walked to where the others hung their bags and a teacher took his bags. He went around the kids eating to those who welcomed him at the door, picked a toy and continued the gist from where he left off.  I must have stayed for another 5minutes looking around, speaking with his teachers and giving instruction about his food. Yet my son was far gone from me. I’d steal glances as I spoke waiting for his come-back moment but it didn’t happen. My little baby was all grown up.

As I walked back to the car, it was with mixed feelings. I was happy and proud of my big boy yet I couldn’t believe he didn’t ‘feel’ me leave. My Ebuka. My own Ebuka…I kept thinking as I left.

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How did your toddler fare on his/her first day at preschool? Please share with me in the comment section. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

How Ebuka received his sister

 

Okay, where do I start from? A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge in the last two years. It’s been perhaps the fastest moving three years of my life. Got married 2013. Baby one in 2014. Baby two six weeks ago. And its still 2015. Whew! How I managed? God and a great support system.

Someday, I’ll share my courtship, engagement and marriage story. That all important step is such a game changer and that is why our loved ones oppose or support as vehemently as they do when one is about taking this step. Mine was fraught with so many battles, all from one side of the divide – my ingrafted family. Today isn’t the day for this tale however note that we all have since reunited. At least, somehow.

So what drove me here today? My son. Yes. He recently gave me an experience that I thought I needed to record so I don’t lose. And that is what reminded me of my blog!

Ebuka is 21 months old. On Friday, September 11, we ( I and his dad) sent him off to his paternal grandparents outside Lagos. A few days later, I left the country to have his sister- Olanna. Ten weeks later, on a fine Sunday afternoon, my husband brought back our son with his new nanny; and that was when I got the shock of my life: Ebuka refused to acknowledge me.

I raced for the door when they arrived, expecting my son to jump into my arms for our regular hug, he didn’t. I called him his pet names, sang his favourite rhymes, but my son wailed for his nanny. I was heartbroken. I put my hands on my head and was going to cry before my husband checked me. ‘He’s crying and you want to cry too?’, he said. I felt finished. Like I had failed. Absolutely nothing prepared me for the experience. I was sure we were too close for anything to tamper with our bond.

Later that evening, my sister-in-law visited and told me her son did the same when she travelled to have her daughter hence it was normal. She said he (Ebuka) would come around in about a week after which he would enter into a ‘clinging phase’. Until then, my daughter and I remained strangers to him.

Well, its exactly a week today and I can say that indeed her words have proven true. Things aren’t back to normal completely but there’s been a lot of improvement. My son no longer sidesteps Olanna and I, and he no longer runs to his nanny when I sound firm. Yes he still throws himself on the floor at the slightest opportunity to throw a tantrum, but he now comes to me for our hugs or anything else. Yesterday, he tried to carry his sister and the other time, he tried giving her her pacifier when she cried. Yes, he still pulls her hair gently and slapped her head while drumming on the back of my work chair, but ultimately we are bonding better as a family.

It was a heart wrenching experience and I’m just so glad its behind now. Are you a mum with toddlers and would you like to share how your kids received one another or each other? Please do in the comment section. Cheers to every great parent out there.