It is a bit too early to talk about the year 2017 in the past, however, it has been a very difficult year.
As an individual and as a member of my family, we have received a lot of bad news and lost a few friends and family members this year. Of course my pain and feel of loss is nothing compared to that of the spouses, parents, siblings or those otherwise directly impacted by the loss. However, it has forced me to think quite deeply about life in general and what the purpose of this life is.
I lost a very close friend in July. She was a great supporter of anything I was interested in and spurred me on greatly. She diligently read this blog and was one of the few people that actually commented. She was a friend that cared, and despite the burden of being unwell for a long period of time, she lived her life spreading love. She loved life and I know she did not want to die, but as these things are, we have very little say about death. My dear friend was a strong woman, oh… she was strong. You will never have known she was ill if you weren't told. She was the life of the party. Her personality was effervescent and she always had a smile on her face. Her laughter was infectious and she loved to dance.
Travelling was one of her favourite things to do, but in all of this, in her petite body and head, she had a super brain. She was super intelligent and a very industrious woman. I mean, I can't even begin to list her accolades, even while she was ill. I remember having a conversation with her earlier this year when she was toying with the idea of going back to work / going to school because she wanted to do something useful. It was a lot for me to take in because I couldn't even believe she was thinking about these things. She had big plans and goals. That is why, in all of this, in as much as I am at peace that she is no longer in pain, it hurts that although she lived life as best as she could, she still had things she would have loved to do.
She was gracious to the end! Even when things got bad, she was still thinking about me and my family. I mean, she was doing some research for us I didn't even realise she was doing until she sent us a useful link! She was so selfless! She had this skill of making everyone around her feel like she was their best friend. The place she occupied in my heart will never be replace. I remember you everyday, all the time, because somehow, you were involved in everything I did.
I am so grateful for my maternity leave, for the 9 months I spent at home that meant I couldn't use the time difference between the two continents as an excuse for not catching up with you properly. I'm grateful for our then daily banter, exploring business ideas, product ideas, product researches, comparing suppliers and what not. I miss your wittiness, I miss that laughter! I can hear it ringing in my ears right now… that laughter! I miss gisting with you! The numerous conversations that start as a whatsapp chat until you decide this type of gist is for over the phone only.
My dearest, you were special, so very special, and you touched so many lives in so many ways. So much so I am confident that the seed you have planted in all our lives will reap fruits and rewards in the form of your husband and daughter finding everlasting favour in everything they do and everywhere they go.
I know you are resting in peace in the bosom of God. We your friends and family that you left behind miss you dearly. I am grateful for the privilege of being your friend. Thank you for showing me love and teaching me the true selfless meaning of friendship. I will always love you!
This is what happens when you have too many blogs! Lol this blog was meant for this site but I mistakenly posted it elsewhere first lol… oh well. Here you go peeps!
What a year it has been! 2017 has been my most challenging year yet. This time last year, I was so sure that during my maternity leave, I would have all the time in the world to blog to my heart’s content, but God had other plans.
I will like to shout out to my friends who have kept asking about my blog and encouraging me to update. Thank you for believing in my journey. This post is dedicated to you guys.
This year, all 5 months of it, has been filled with more downs than ups. Just as we get over one unexpected and sad event, something else happens. I am trusting God and believing in him that the rest of the year will be filled with good news.
I said to my husband this afternoon that I felt so unsettled and I couldn’t explain why. He said this to me – we are transitioning. This made so much sense once he said it. We have so many things going on / in progress in our individual lives and in our lives as a family that sometimes it gets overwhelming. We encourage each other to take one day at a time and remind ourselves that this is just a phase – our transitioning phase. I will share briefly about a project I am currently working on.
I am sure I have shared in previous posts about how I have been looking for my entrepreneurial purpose. I have always had this itch in me to do something more, in addition to being a family woman and working in the corporate world. However, nothing has ever been able to fill that gap. I dabbled into knitting and crocheting, which I still enjoy as a hobby, as well as sewing, but I soon found that these things were not going to satisfy that hunger in me. This hunger grew so much, that I often stayed up late at night telling myself off for wasting another day. I felt like every spare minute I had should be invested in growing my passion.
One day, 5 months into my maternity leave, I realised my leave will be over soon and I would have wasted the best opportunity to kick start whatever it was I wanted to do. In my desperation, I saw what was right in front me and has been there for the last 7 months! A couple of my friends had mentioned in the past about selling on Amazon and I just did not allow myself appreciate that this could be a reality until January this year. When I remembered, I decided to give it a go. I asked my friends tons of questions, read a lot about the process and paid for some courses. I was amazed to see how much information was available online about selling on Amazon, eBay and the likes. Before I knew it, I had registered a company with my sister in-law, opened a business account and stocked up on my first products. All of this was very daunting for me as I have never really being a risk taker. For the first time in my life, I was taking a real risk, but I knew whichever way it panned out, I would have learned a valuable lesson about running a business from the experience.
Now, selling on Amazon is not the finish line for me, it is currently a means to an end. I am still experimenting to see what works. However, four months in and with the help of my support system, and business colleagues with the same goals, I have ordered the company’s first product from China. It has been stressful but extremely fun getting to this stage. Discussing my requirements with Chinese suppliers has been the pain of my life! One minute I think I have managed to communicate everything I need and all that is left is to pay, the next minute I am being told oh, is this what you want, it costs $x more, or we don’t have that in stock, to get it for you it costs $x more, or you want this, the minimum order quantity is more than you are asking for, and the list goes on! After all of this, I have finally been able to narrow down the specification of the product. It is not my first choice in terms of design, but it is still a very good product I believe in (more to be revealed soon). This will be the first of what we hope will be a lot more products branded by our company. Who knows, we just may innovate the next best thing since sliced bread. Until then, my brain fluids will be working way, trying to come up with our next product.
In a nutshell, this is what has been keeping me extremely busy. This, along with raising my two kids, being a wife to my husband and other day to day chores life throws my way. I will also be going back to work in a couple of months. I am curious to see how juggling all of this pans out. I know it will not be easy, but nothing good comes easy right?
Notwithstanding, I am very excited about the future! I am glad I have taken this step. Best believe, I am doing all of this very afraid, but I am determined to keep moving forward and encourage myself every step of the way. I will keep you posted as much as possible – especially when the product is ready! Watch this space.
Are you also taking a plunge into the business world, or are you well versed in this? I am always happy to learn from people or to share the little I know. So please, share your tips or ask me questions?
Has anything changed? Is it easier this time around? These are questions people often ask me when they visit or they see us with our daughter.
The answer is – yes and no!
Has anything changed?
Yes, our lives are fuller, richer and even more exciting as this little girl has us all wrapped round her little fingers.
However, I keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I mean, are you seriously telling me I am a mum of two? It is just so surreal and can be daunting particularly when I realise these two children rely on me and my husband to survive! Eek! No slacking away… we need to work harder, devote more time to them, need to earn.. need to be more responsible… and other pressures parenting brings, along with the joys as well!
Is it easier this time?
The quick answer to this is no, and the longer answer to this is yes. Basically, I still have to do everything I did with my first child, and so in that sense, it is not easier as she is still a baby that needs tons of attention. However, because we have been through it all before with our son, we know what to expect and so it feels easier and not a lot takes us by surprise. For example, we know with babies comes sleepless nights. It is no longer a big deal as we have done it before and have better coping mechanisms – or shall I say, the our bodies goes back to its sleep reserve and helps us function. Don’t quote me on this, I believe this must be the case. However, I learnt this time around to let her sleep when she wants to and not to interrupt her sleep in the name of changing her diaper. If she isn’t soiled, I leave it on till the morning. This means we both sleep better, but she still wakes up for meals as she is being breastfed.
One aspect I have had to learn to deal with is this – coming to the realisation that it is possible to lovemy children equally! I love them both individually and equally. There are times when I feel like I am paying my daughter too much attention and not enough to my son. Initially, I was moved to tears on some occassions so much so that I am forced to give myself a pep talk on the spot. When my son was born, he had all of our attention, now we have another baby, she gets some of our attention, and our son gets the rest. I am able to justify it in my head that there is enough of us to go round between our children and make up for it when it matters most. For example, my son loves it when we read him stories before he goes to bed, so no matter what I am doing, I either take his sister along with me to read him his stories, or I give his sister to his dad, nanny or gran to look after while I go up to read my son his stories. When I can’t read him a story, his dad does.
What makes all of this easier is the fact that both of them, by His grace, will always have each other. I can already see my daughter light up when her brother is back from nursery. This is certainly new territory for all of us, but I am looking forward to watch it all unfold. I can only pray they become best friends and will grow up to continue to love and support each other through out all of life’s challenges!
Next blog will be about our challenge with sleep training our son. I know, he’s 3!!!
How are we all getting on with the last minutes preparations for Christmas! I know I’m definitely not ready!
If you are thinking of what dessert to make for Christmas that isn’t your usually fruit cake or Christmas pudding or even ginger bread men, you should totally try this brownie recipe.
I’m often reluctant to share recipes because I’m skeptical someone would try it and think it’s not as nice as I claim it to be. However… I have come to accept that people are entitled to their opinions and so am I. On that note, in my opinion, this recipe makes very yummy brownies. They are not studgy, hard or cakey, so if you do not like very moist brownies then this recipe is not for you. These brownies simply melt in your mouth with every bite. This means that find yourself eating more and more and more! I assure you that your waistline won’t thank you, but it’s yummy and so worth it as a cheat snack or a quick dessert to make when you have guests coming over.
I have made them so many times, particularly as part of a three course meal for friends who visit, and they have loved them. I also recently took a batch to a birthday party and of the three desserts I baked, these brownies were the first to run out with gushing positive compliments.
I will stop going on about how great they are and just share the recipe! Take this as a Christmas present from me to you!
This recipe is adapted from my take on trying various brownie recipes.
Yummy melt in the mouth chocolate brownies
240 grams caster sugar
180g dark chocolate
100g plain flour
100g white chocolate (or 50g white chocolate and 50g dark chocolate)
Preheat your oven to 160C for fan ovens, 180C otherwise. Also line your brownie tin. I used a 34 X 20cm tin.
Break your dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwaveable bowl with all of the butter. Cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the microwave for two minutes. Use a spatula or other suitable crockery to mix the chocolate with the melted butter, this should help the rest of the chocolate melt. Leave aside to cool.
Crack your eggs into a separate clean and dry bowl and pour in the caster sugar. Whisk the two together at high speed until it looks thick and the colour of the mixture is paler than you started. This is to incorporate a lot of air into your brownie mixture. This can take some time. If when you switch off your whisker, the drops of the sugar and egg mixture leaves a trail for a few seconds, you can stop whisking then.
Break your white chocolate into a small pieces in a separate bowl. By preference, I use only white chocolate because I like the colour contrast between the dark chocolate for the brownies and the white chocolate inside the brownies. You could choose to use half milk chocolate and half white chocolate if you wish.
Carefully pour your melted butter and dark chocolate mixture from step 2 above into the egg sugar mixture and mix it gently, being careful not to knock out all the air you incorpirated in step 3. After incorporating the two mixtures, the colours should be like adull milk chocolate shade.
Incorporate the sifted flour into the mixture, being careful not to knock out too much air.
Incorporate the broken pieces of white chocolate (or half and half milk and white chocolate).
Carefully pour your mixture into a brownie tin and bake in the middle shelf for 25 minutes.
Once ready, the top of the brownie should be shinny with some cracks. Leave it to cool completely before cutting.
Enjoy your brownie by itself, or warm with some good quality vanilla icecream.
Please let me know how you get on, whether or not you agree with me that they are yummy!
I respect mums with two or more kids under three in particular. I had reached a place where life was great with one child. We had a routine and I finally was in control of my new life as my mum, it at least I thought I was. With the arrival of our daughter, I’m back looking for my steady state again.
Our daughter arrived in October and it has been an interesting journey. Her brother came to the world three days before his due date, so I was fairly certain she would arrive earlier. I even started my maternity leave a month before my due date to give me plenty of time to spend with my son before his sister arrived and also enough time for me to rest and prepare for a second child. As things will happen, she arrived two days late. The labour was thankfully very quick. It started at about 1:50am and she came into the world into a birthing pool like her brother at 3:18am. I am glad it was quick but… labour, no matter how quick it is, is still painful!
We are now settling into our new routine as a bigger family quite nicely. It however does not come without its challenges and it will take some time to reach a new equilibrium. Although there is plenty of help around, some how it doesn’t always hit the spot. In addition, keeping my first occupied on the days he isn’t at Pre-school is an art I’m still learning. It has been a bit challenging because he’s at the ‘why’ or ‘no’ after every instruction stage, and let’s face it, he isn’t even three yet and so he is still my baby!
I will be honest and say our daughter is not a bad sleeper and she is such a happy baby. She seems to have started sleeping well quite early. I hope I haven’t jinxed it by saying she sleeps well.
I’m excited about raising another child and I feel very blessed to have this privileged. I am hoping not to make the same mistakes twice, for starters…. our plan is to ensure she always sleeps in her bed. We weren’t strict about this with my son, first time mum syndrome! Let’s just say, he still lets himself into our bed in the middle of the night!
I am looking forward to learning again and enjoying this new phase.
Until next time… it won’t be as long as the last time 🙂
*The examples in the blog below is in relation to female experiences. However, the concept and benefits of sharing should apply equally to men*
In the world we live in today, sharing knowledge or encouragement could often been seen as helping the competition of helping someone else become better than you are. However, I have come to realise that encouraging people who have discovered their purpose and are running with it, is way better than saving all the tips and encouragement for yourself. In addition, we say love is what the world needs, I see encouraging and sharing tips as one a way of expressing love. If you love someone, you won’t watch them do something wrong or not as effectively when you know of a better way they could have done it. There, I said it.
Applying this to businesses, if you look around you, you will find that there is hardly a business that is a monopoly. From coffee shops to bakeries to restaurants to law firms and so on. I remember when I was toying with different business ideas I was considering doing and while I was mulling over the details and discussing this with my friend, within a few days or sometimes on the same day, I would see on Instagram or another social media platform that another friend who I haven’t shared this dream or idea with is already doing something similar. I will be honest with you and say that this often discouraged me because I felt like, argh that was my idea, now she’s doing it, there is no point in me doing the same thing or something similar, she would think I copied her. I was more concerned about people thinking I copied their ideas, even though I genuinely think up similar ideas.
Like I have said several times, it is good to surround yourself with people that will encourage you, spur you on and would generally give you good positive advice. What a good friend said to me was filled with wisdom. She shared her own experiences with me and how seeing other people doing similar things has not stopped her in pursuing her goals and dreams. She said, it is possible for people to have similar ideas, however, what makes you different is your unique selling point. What else do you bring to this idea you both have that makes it special. Let me try to break it down. There are loads of bakeries out there, some are unique because their customers are in specific local areas, some because of the texture of the bread, the shape of the bread, or the bread is low in fat or not made with gluten and so on, I could go on. Basically, there are different wants to make bread and in most cases, each type of bread has a specific group of customers. So in as much as you have similar ideas, you will find that if you do your research well, you could be targeting completely different groups of customers and both be excelling in the same field.
I am now going to apply this same idea to our personal lives. The general (key word here being general) pathway of life is this. You are born, you go to school, you get a job, get married, have kids and then at some point we all die. However, even as most of us have similar experiences in life with a few differences here and there, in my experience, I find that we only share selective life lessons with each other, in most cases, the good and interesting parts of our lives as opposed to the challenging parts. I’m not fully sure why this is the case. One of my biggest flaw and assets is the fact I am an open book. I love to share, particularly because I wished more people shared with me before I got into certain situations.
Reading books and watching movies often feed us with this perfect idea of life and how things work. Our friends and family could also, unconciously give away the same vibe. I remember my wedding night, oh my goodness. Nothing people told me and nothing I watched on tv/read in books could have prepared me for what was going to happen. However, when you watch movies and speak to some friends, it sounds like having sex just involves the both of you laying down and viola the deed is done. I learnt the hard way it doesn’t just happen like that. Of course after this experience, I was quick to let my friends behind me know it is not as easy as it looks or sounds and it could take several attempts. Of course it gets better eventually and easier. I initially thought after my own experience that I was weird or the odd one out but soon after, my friends had similar experiences and I stopped feeling weird!
Moving swiftly on from that. What about childbirth? This was a whole different case. Once again, no one can prepare you for this and every woman’s experience is different, however, the process is usually the same. I always encourage first time mums to have an open mind while doing their research and to also speak to people who are willing to share their own experience. It is also important that you don’t narrow your research early on. For example, for ladies who do not want to have a Caesarian section, it is still useful to research into what is involved with this. This is because childbirth can be very unpredictable and some ladies start off having a natural birth and things change so quickly they find themselves in a theatre. It is in the same way it is important for ladies who do not want epidural or pain killers to also do some research into pain killers because you will find that often, a lot of women change their minds when they are in pain. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to make an informed decision. For example, epidural can o ky be administered at certain stages during labour. Some women find that by the time they ask for it, it is too late. If you have this informstion before hand and you decide you want epidural, at least you will know to ask for it sooner rather than later, or ask for your midwife’s opinion on when to get it.
Still on childbirth, I didn’t realise until I was pregnant, that pushing out a baby was by the end of it. No one told me before I stumbled on the information on an online community that I would also have to push out the placenta. To be fair, the work involved with this is not as bad as pushing a baby out but it is still uncomfortable. You can either choose to push out the placenta naturally, or your midwife can give you an injection to speed up the process. Totally up to you.
I also did not know, until it happened to me that for days after birth, I would still be contracting. I understand this is because your uterus is shrinking back to its original size, or trying to. I was glad when this stopped though. Another thing I did not know was that for up to six weeks after childbirth, you are encouraged to take it easy and not do anything too tasking to allow the body heal. Tasking activities, my friends, includes sex. How does one even prepare for this?
I won’t say anymore on childbirth but I think I have shared most of what I can remember anyway. Having a child is a beautiful thing, but if I knew these things at least I would have been mentally prepared for what was coming my way. Some friends I have shared my experience with have been very grateful for my honesty and my willingness to discuss the gory details with them.
I know most of what I have shared today has been about the childbirthing process, but the concept of sharing equally applies to everything really – from tips to applying for jobs to things to do while on holiday.
We are often too much in a hurry or too engrossed in our own lives (or smart phones) to share our experiences or notice that the person right next to us is struggling and needs our help. But we can change that today by making a concious effort to care more and share more appropriately.
I hope this encourages someone out there to share!
Around the time my son turned two, people, used to comment about the fact he was now a terrible two. I have extracted a definition of what the phrase terrible twos mean from the Mayo clinic website below for your information.
The terrible twos are a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word “no.” The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence
Basically, in lay man terms, this just means a lot of screaming, misbehaving, mood swings and making mummy and daddy look like they have taught you absolutely no manners!
When people passed this comment to me about my son, the Nigerian Christian in me was rebuking and saying it was not my portion or his and he would skip this phase. However, within 2 -3 months after he turned two, I couldn’t deny that my son was exhibiting the characteristics of what was a terrible two! So many times I just stare at him like are you being serious! I will give you an example.
Our son is normal 2 year old toddler, he pushes boundaries, but which male (and some female) toddler doesn’t. He knows to say please, thank you and sorry at the right times and if you tell him off for doing something once (e.g picking things up from the floor and eating it), he would in most cases pick them up and bring them to you to take away this temptation from him lol. If he wants a snack or water or to eat he knows how to ask and if he has a dirty nappy he will 80% of the time come and tell you he has a dirty nappy or even bring you his baby bag so you can change him. So there is a background to this lovey young chap.
Imagine my surprise and genuine shock the first time he throws himself on the floor crying like he has been beaten or just fallen down. I rush to him to ask what the matter was but he just kept crying. Eventually I offered him some apple or crackers and he stops crying and says crackers. In my head I’m thinking, why didn’t you just ask, why did you need to cry or scream! So this happens on and off and if it isn’t water he wants, it is a snack or he wants you to get up and play with him. It is something he would normally, in his own way articulate.
How do I deal with this I ask myself? I try so hard not to lose patience and to deal with the situation as positively as I can. However, when I can’t deal with it positively, I simply ignore him because I know he is fine and he is not in harm’s way. So I simply ignore the screams, carry on with what I am doing while he rolls on the floor or throws his tantrum in whatever way he chooses on that day. On some occassions he eventually comes to me by himself for a cuddle shortly after which he would stop crying. Other times, I go to him eventually and offer him one of the usual culprits or give him a cuddle. On a few occasions, I have made funny faces at him or mimicked him crying and he often starts laughing. This doesn’t always work though.
I find that it helps to know you are not the only mum going through this and a number of toddlers go through this stage. I have extracted a little bit more information from the Mayo clinic website below that nicely summarises what they are going through and why they respond in the way they do below.
While the terrible twos can be difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate, keep in mind that 2-year-olds are undergoing major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes. Their vocabularies are growing, they’re eager to do things on their own, and they’re beginning to discover that they’re expected to follow certain rules. However, most 2-year-olds still aren’t able to move as swiftly as they’d like, clearly communicate their needs or control their feelings. This can lead to frustration and misbehavior — in other words, the terrible twos.
Like I said earlier, I try to be patient and understanding, but I am also very concious that he is beginning to learn that there are rules and consequences. I am therefore careful to make sure that however I decide to handle his tantrums positively, I am not undoing the good work instilled in him already. It is ultimately important that when these episodes happen, we are not coming across to our child or children as reinforcing bad behaviour. Therefore, it seems ignoring them until they calm down or until you feel it is appropriate, may be the best way to deal with this. This is obviously easier said than done, but I constantly pray for the grace and strength I need!
It is particularly hard to curb these tantrums when you are in a public place. My least favourite activity to do with my son is going to the supermarket because he wants everything and ends up crying because I don’t give it to him. On the fruit aisle he wants banana, then he wants ham then he wants cheese and so on, you get the gist. It is a frustrating experience for the two of us. In as much as I want to give him exposure to the supermarket and point out things to him and teach him what they are, I’m afraid at this stage, all he wants to do is eat them! As a result, where possible, I leave him at home with a responsible adult and go on my errands. If I must take him along, I pack his own snacks with me and give him those instead at various intervals. This seems to work for the majority of the time. I would like to shout out the men and women out there who see a mum struggling with a toddler throwing a tantrum in public and try to help in their own way by making funny faces at the toddler or by speaking reassuringly to the toddler. This usually distracts the little one and could even result in the toddler laughing. Worse case scenario, they keep crying, at least the kind stranger tried to help.
Most of all, regardless of what they do, as mums, we will always love our children. It is important that we communicate this to them often, especially at this difficult time. We should keep trying to help them understand better ways to communicate. I know they are still building their language skills and may not understand what you are saying, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by the amount of what I say my son understands. He may not be able to speak to me clearly but I know he understands me majority of the time. So, don’t underestimate your little genius!
If like me you are in the same shoes, hang in there (I know I am, sometimes by a thin thread!). This phase too will be over soon enough. I hear by the time they are 4, we are in the clear!
Enjoy the rest of your week and don’t forget to share your experiences and tips (if any).
So I have been on an unforgivably long hiatus from this blog. Forgive me. I thought I was having a writers block and searching for my next blog topic, not knowing that I was actually shying away from what I really ought to blog about.
It was not until my girlfriend asked me point blank recently if I was okay and happy that it occurred to me I was going through some kind of a phase. The answer to those questions is yes and yes. However, she went on to say – you seem to have lost your spark! That was it – the eye opening moment. We got talking for sometime and then I realised I was just overwhelmed!
Mama lost her mojo. I thought I was fine, surviving, living in the moment as much as possible but I quit fighting. Thankfully my family life is great but there have just been other things on my mind. For example, sick family and friends I have been praying for and waiting to see results, I had a tough spell at work shortly before we left on our holiday (which was fantastic by the way). There are also several grown up changes that we need to go through and decisions that need to be made and the list just goes on. So, I just pushed all these things to the back burner, and stopped doing anything other than necessary day to day things, hoping no one would notice. Thankfully, it coincided with when we were on holiday so there were no major repercussions. So that is how I lost my mojo!
Following the discussion with my friend, another friend shared on our women of prayer group a devotional about how when we pray, our prayers are like seeds sown. Sometimes it takes time to germinate, time to reap it’s fruits and so on. That, also gave me some rest. I will like to shout out to my friend, my sister’s keeper, who saw through my shell and said something about it to make sure I was okay. Now it is out in the open, I am fighting again… as is evident by this blog and other things. I am truly fine 🙂. I will also like to encourage you all to reach out when you are in a little bubble. If like me you do not realise you are in a bubble, if someone genuinely asks you, reach deep and discuss it, it will be for the best. Most of all, surround yourself with friends that will add value to your life and care enough to check on you, even when to the world you are doing just fine.
So, let’s get started!
My last post was about tips for travelling with a toddler. The last few weeks have been filled with travel for us. From Portugal to Calgary to Maryland to New Jersey and back to London. It is safe to say we aren’t going any where any time soon! It has definitely been busy but fun. The most challenging part of our trip has got to be shopping with a toddler. We learnt this the hard way! More on this some other time.
I will start with Calgary.
Calgary was amazing. It was our first time in Canada but in the short time we were there, I could sense the warmth of the Canadians. It was also great spending time with our friends who live over there and meeting their bundle of joy for the first time. It was great seeing our son and their daughter hit it off like old friends. Our friends were so hospitable and literally made us feel right at home. They took us to Banff for Easter Sunday brunch and boy did I eat! As a foodie, I was in food heaven. The view from the restaurant and even generally in Banff was stunning. I took the picture below using my iPhone on our drive there and it doesn’t even do it any justice. Although it was cold by my standards, I think the good overshadowed the cold for me. All I can say is this – Calgary, we will be back.
Our next stop was the States. It was honestly all about family. Everyone happened to be around as it was my sister-in-law’s 50th birthday party! We all had a great time and once again it was great for our son as he had his cousins all around. The first thing he wanted to do when he got up in the mornings was to see his cousins.
We also visited my little cousin in Maryland and I really wanted to get a gift that she will remember fondly and so instead of buying her a toy or an outfit, I decided we will make a personalised decorative craft for her room together. She loved this idea and so using a picture frame, A4 paper some glue and buttons and beads, we spelt her name with colourful buttons and beads. The design is a bit wonky but we had a great time doing it and she was happy with the result.
Thinking about it, this was the longest we had been away since our honeymoon. It was great to just completely unwind and yes, temporarily forget about work.
The greatest challenge however on this trip was jetlag! Oh dear, especially on the little one. On one occasion in Canada, we had to keep him awake after waking him up from a ‘nap’ (he fell asleep at 4pm and was ready to sleep till 3am!) by having a bath for him while he cried all through. I felt mean, but it was necessary and seemed to do the trick. However when we got back home, we had the same problem and as he started waking up at 11pm asking for dinner, singing his nursery rhymes and so on, while myself and his dad desperately wanted to sleep! It took a lot of trial and error to get him back to his routine a week later but thankfully, that phase is gone.
So it’s been a fun holiday and we are back to our daily routine. I’m back at workand yesterday I was literally chasing my tail. It was so busy, I felt like I never even left the office. As I was trying to wind down a deliverable on one project. A tax director was on my neck wanting to discuss another project with me. I’m not complaining, I love being busy, it makes my day go a lot quicker.
So that’s a quick update from me. It won’t be long till my next post, I promise.
I trust you are all well and a big thank you to the ladies who have checked on me asking for the next post. I appreciate you all.
Good day darling readers!
It’s been a busy few weeks with a poorly toddler. Finally, the light is so bright at the end of the tunnel! It’s amazing how they pick up all sorts of virus from nursery! I can only hope his immune system is being developed to be extremely sturdy so in future he is sickness proof!
So now that we are over the sick spell, it is time for us to start planning for a few holidays we have coming up over the next few weeks. I remember the second time we travelled with our son, he was 9 months old then. We were only flying less than 2 hours to Nice for a long weekend and we packed the whole world! I think it is safe to say we have since picked up a few tips here and there for more efficient travelling with a baby/toddler.
Here are a few tips which were useful for us. As always, feel free to share your tips as well.
1. Where are you going?
I know this sounds like a silly question. However, whether you pack the whole world because you are travelling with a child or just enough, for us, depends on where we are going. If we are having a city break, travelling to the states or to Europe, or to a country where we are staying with family members who have kids, we tend to pack more conservatively. This is because, often you find you can pop into the local supermarket to top up on essentials if you happen to run out of supplies.
However, if you are going on an adventurous holiday or to a country you have never been to before and you don’t have family there, my rule of thumb is – I’ll rather be safe than sorry. Pack as much as you can for your baby or toddler, within reason of course.
2. Ditch the hand luggage!
I remember the first time my sister-in-laws suggested this, I looked at them like, what are they saying? How can I ditch my hand luggage? However, the last couple of trips we have taken with our son has been a lot better without hand luggage or with minimal hand-luggage. Let’s break this down a little.
Imagine you are at the airport, for the ladies, you have your handbag and a hand-luggage to wheel around. If you are travelling with your partner, he too maybe has a laptop bag, and a hand luggage to wheel about. Between the both of you, you have a child in a push-chair, who also has a baby bag with his nappies and food and toys and change of clothes in. Now tell me, how do you intend on juggling all of your luggage with a cranky toddler? Exactly, I thought so too.
Ditch the hand-luggage or limit it to two pieces so one person can handle the luggage while another handles your kid(s). It is even more important when you are travelling alone with your kid(s). If you can get away with travelling with just your baby bag, just do it! This can obviously change when you have a child old enough to carry his own luggage. Good luck!
3. Are your kid(s) diesease proof?
Are you kids up to date with their jabs/immunisation? If for whatever reason you are anti-immunisation, I’m not even going to argue with you. Just ask yourself if the country you are going to may impose serious health risks. If the answer is yes, either change your plans or get the child the jab! I should add that the fact you are up to date with your jabs does not necessarily mean that your child will not fall ill. However, it reduces the chances of contacting anything serious. I remember the first time my son went back to Nigeria with us, I think that was the day he started being weary of going to the doctor’s surgery as he had to get three jabs in one day. Did I enjoy seeing him go through all that? No. Was I happy I had done everything in my power to make sure he was protected for his upcoming trip, yes. Better safe than sorry.
4. Snack up!
Most kids snack inbetween meals anyway. However, I find that being prepared with a variety of snacks in my son’s baby bag helps pass time and keeps him busy while waiting to board the plane / during the flights. We have never been fans of giving kids sugary snacks (except they are natural sugars). This is not to say he hasn’t had the odd one here and there but we encourage him to have snacks like breadsticks, raisins and fruits instead. He is more than happy with these. So, his baby bag is always prepared with small bowls of fruits, raisins and breadsticks snapped into two. Some kids also enjoy vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks. However, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive the OK response from my son when I tried this (I won’t give up though).
During the flights when your child is getting restless, offer them snacks. It is always best when these are snacks they recognise, like and are used to. There is no point trying something new when you are thousands of feet in the sky.
You should also pack enough of these snacks (not necessarily fruits as I’m sure you can buy these everywhere) to last you your entire trip and the flight back home.
5. Prepare for ear popping
Some people have issues with their ears when they fly, particularly at take off and landing. I know there have been some occassions when my ears would just feel really blocked or hurt during these periods. An adult will usually try a series of things including sucking on a sweet. As sugar is not really encouraged in kids (as it can make them over active particularly if you are trying to keep them calm during a flight), you could invest in some sugar-free sweets for kids that are old enough to have sweets. For younger kids, babies for example, you could either breastfeed them, or give them their bottle of milk during take off and landing, so that they are doing the sucking motion at this time which will help their ears if necessary.
I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really have any tips for kids who aren’t old enough for sweets but too old for milk! Maybe when my son is at that age I will be forced to be innovative and share then!
6. Capol? Check!, Nurofen? Check! Thermometer? Check! Make sure you have travel insurance!
Kids are unpredictable. In as much as we never pray or plan for them to fall ill, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared. Pack a bottle of capol and nurofen and your thermometer just in case. If things get worse (hopefully it won’t) contact your travel insurance company to see what your medical options are before you head back home.
7. Pack for all weather
If you are going on a sunny break, pack a few long sleeve tops and trousers for the kids as often, in the evenings, it gets windy and colder than during the day. Also, you may want to go on a boat trip or something similar which usually involves cold winds.
I remember on one occasion, we went to South Africa at the beginning of their summer. The plan was to stay in Johannesburg but plans quickly changed which meant we got to spend a couple of days in Cape Town. It was equally warm however, as tourists, we found ourselves at the top of the Table Moutain, which is 1,085m above sea level, with our then 9 months old son, in his summery outfit! Of course it was colder up there. Thankfully we had all sorts of outfits in his baby bag. We quickly layered him up and wore a pair of socks for him as gloves! It was a great experience though. I can’t wait to tell him the story when he is much older.
8. Pack their favourite toy or activity
To the extent their favourite toy or activity is portable, take it with you on your trip, you won’t regret it. Our son loved his toddle bike which we took everywhere with us. When he outgrew that, he got a foldable tricycle from his uncle or Christmas which we now take anytime we travel. He loves riding on it when he gets bored during our vacations. I also pack his bath toys and a couple of books to read at bed time.
Obviously, I’m aware kids are entitled to limited luggage space when they travel. I happily sacrifice some of my own luggage space for him because I know if he is okay and happy, I too will have a lovely time.
9. Room service is your best friend
Now, South Africa was the first trip we made with our son and I have to say we learnt a lot on that trip. I remember naively planning to have dinner out in restaurants after his bed time, thinking it will be lovely as a couple. We quickly learnt that there is nothing lovely about a cranky crying baby in a restaurant at dinner time! We soon learnt to either have dinner and ensure we are back at our hotel before 7pm, or order room service. This way, our son could also be in bed at his usual bed time.
Also, for breakfast, we find it is worth the investment paying the extra 5 pounds or whatever the equivalent is to have breakfast in our room. This is because I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the breakfast room at the hotel, or disturbing other people who are trying to eat. In the comfort of our room, he can make as much of a mess he wants, as much noise as he wants and eat at his own pace. This has absolutely worked for us and I would recommend this tip in particular for anyone who can afford it.
10. Manage your expectations
Remember that travelling as a couple or alone is completely different from travelling with a child. Children need to be entertained, children have their routine and often struggle when this changes. Children will also often get bored by activities that adults enjoy. So I encourage you to manage your expectations. Try to plan a balanced routine that both you and your kids will enjoy. Leave the more mature outings for when you travel without the kids. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford travelling with your nanny, do your mature activities while your nanny babysit your kids. However, remember you are all on holiday together as a family and so don’t go off by yourselves too often, no matter how tempting this may be!
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for you to do this if you don’t already. As always, I have a little personal experience story to share with you.
Come with me to spring 2009. I was in my final year at university studying chemical engineering. In particular, I was in the middle of my research project. This project is a big deal. However, around this time, I happened to notice a lump in my breast. I can’t remember how I found it, if I went looking for it or if I stumbled on it, but I found it. Cue in dress and fear and everything else you can think off. I knew very little about lumps then and to me it had to be cancer. I tried to stay calm about but mulled over it and did nothing about it for weeks (I do not recommend this approach by the way).
Eventually, I decided to stop wondering what if and do something about it. I went to see my doctor who confirmed it was a lump and referred me to Royal Marsden Hospital (closest breast specialist to my university). This cued in even more fear on my path! So, I called my mum who is a nurse back in Nigeria. She tried her best not to panic and went on to ask me a whole load of questions about the lump. Is it mobile? Does it hurt? Is it smooth? How big is it? The trouble was, I couldn’t immediately tell if my answers to those questions gave her comfort or not. Eventually she told me not to worry and it sounds like it is not cancerous but to let her know how he appointment goes.
So, appointment day arrives and my aunt accompanied me. She is a pharmacist. To be honest, I find it helps to have someone medical / knows about medicine to go to such appointments with you, they tend to know the right questions to ask, especially if you were clueless like me at that time. After the consultant checked for the lump, she decided she would like to do a biopsy on the same day to definitely rule out cancer. I don’t think I had the time to be scared it was just kind of a is this really happening situation for me. The biopsy was unpleasant but I wasn’t uncomfortable for a long time as it happened very quickly and I was given local anaesthetic. We were told to come back in a couple of hours for the result so we went to a local cafe for lunch.
My aunt prayed with me and try to distract me from thinking about it. Two hours couldn’t go any slower if it tried! We got back to see the consultant and thankfully, she confirmed the lump was not cancerous. However, due to the size of the lump, I could either take it out or leave it in. In my mind I wanted to leave it in because the doctor had confirmed it was harmless so why bother. My mum wasn’t having it. I had a lecture over the phone about how my body is not meant to have lumps in it so why leave it in there. She then went on to say if you are concerned about what your husband (or did she say boyfriend, I don’t remember now) would think, then he is not meant for you if he has issues with the scar you will have on your breast. I ignored that statement because there was no way I was having that conversation with my mum! Lol.
We booked an appointment to have it removed. It was going to be a day surgery under general anaesthetic. My dad was able to fly in from Nigeria to be with me along with my aunt during the procedure. I once again pushed it out of my mind as much as possible. I took a week off university to get this done and recover, I so one realised I didn’t need that long. The procedure went well and I was home before I knew it. The scar also healed nicely, you wouldn’t realise I had a scar except you took a double take. I went back for a check out and everyone was happy with progress.
Fast forward three years and it was back. Oh no, not again. This time as a newly wed I just couldn’t be bothered to go through it all again. However, my husband being a doctor was in the same boat as my mum and so I went through the whole process again. This time I knew what to expect and it took a similar number of days to recover.
So why the reason I have just shared this with you is to let you know you won’t be alone if you find a lump. I have friends who have had similar experiences as I did, we are #teamlumpybreast. It is not sexy I know but I guess the doctors/consultants can’t help themselves and use that term to describe our breast when they are checking us. I remember at the last ultrasound I had, the lady told me that if she were to pick 5 random ladies and did an ultrasound on their breast, she will find one person with a lump in hers.
Ofcourse I know not all lumps will be bening like mine were and that is what often stops some women from checking their breasts or going for check ups. What I would like to say however is this, the chances of cancer being treated is higher if it is caught early. So please check your breasts regularly or have it checked by your doctor if you do not know how to do this. You can click here for tips available on the NHS website on how to check your breast.
I hope this blog will encourage you to check yours and you in turn will encourage a friend to do the same. Accompany each other for appointments if that’s what it takes or ask your partner to come along with you or check for you. Ignorance is not bliss, be pro-active about it.
Good luck and feel free to tell us about your experience.