Finding a church

I have been a Christian since I can remember. I was born one and made a conscious decision to stay a Christian when I was old enough to make the choice myself. Naturally, as a practising Christian, I go to church on most Sundays. As such, one of the key things on my to do list for when we arrived in Calgary was to find a church to settle as a family in.

My first port of call was good old google. I searched for churches in the area I knew we would be living in and I quickly settled for one that seemed to tick all the boxes based on their website. Their website looked exciting, Jesus. Check. Kids church, Check. 8 minutes drive from my house, even better.

Excitedly, this morning, I got everyone ready and we got to church 10 minutes late. Not too bad as we still met the worship session. The preaching was okay but I missed most of it because my kids would not settle in the adults church and I had trouble trying to get them into the kids church.

However, I felt anything but welcome as soon as we walked in. I have to confess that I did not fully appreciate the importance of ushers until my experience this morning. This church was a big church, I will estimate about 250 members with three services every Sunday. So, surely, having new members shouldn’t be new to them. In my experience in church for the last 20+ years, new people get even special treatment. We get asked to put up our hands and additional information about the church gets handed to us. People go out of their way to say hello to us and most definitely, an usher welcomes you to the church and tries to find you a seat in this new environment.

However, no one said a word to us when we arrived, there was no usher in sight. If there was one, we didn’t notice him or her. I had to find a seat for the four of us, and once settled, I headed off to find the kids church.

Now, this was where I decided I was never going back to that church again. The kids seemed to be sitting and watching a video about a lesson there were to be learning about before the breakout sessions. Nothing wrong with this, however, I couldn’t find an adult to ask how the kids church worked, if I could deposit my kids there for the next hour, where to sign them in, etc. There was no one to ask. I went back with my now disappointed son, who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t join the other kids and this time, there was a gentleman dispensing sweets for the kids, he glanced once at me, with two kids in my hands and went back to dispensing sweets. No hello, nothing. I had to remind myself I was at church.

I took my son to the bathroom, once again, bumped into another Sunday school teacher, I was eager to say hello and maybe finally ask her how to go about using the Sunday school, once again, she didn’t look interested in having a chat and was focused on the kids she brought to use the toilet. Which is fine.

To avoid going into too much detail, it was not a very nice feeling and I can’t imagine experiencing this and going back to church if I was not a Christian. I reported my experience to a friend and she asked maybe they were having an off day but, there were so many people involved in this off day that could have at least said hello. I wanted to say hello, but no one held my gaze long enough for me to do just that. It was a very upsetting experience if I am being honest.

I really wanted to like the church. I mean, I had spent ages on their website for the last three months and was so eager to get involved. We won’t be going back and my search for a warm welcoming church continues.

Most importantly, this serves as a reminder to me to be warm and friendly to people, particularly as a Christian. More so when I am at church. Church is where we encourage non-Christians to come to learn more about Christ, learning about Christ starts with the individual.

I hope we find somewhere soon!

Enjoy your week!

LHR to YYC

Eeek!

It has been so difficult to write this blog. I started writing it on 7 February and couldn’t bring myself to complete it. Maybe now that I’m thousands of feet in the air and finally on our way to Calgary, I have plenty of time in the 8.5 hours or so it will take us to get there to complete this blog.

My family and I are moving to Calgary, Alberta and I have been in total denial about this.

Our love affair with YYC started two years ago when we visited a couple of friends over there. After our first night. We started exploring the option of moving.

We expected the process of applying for permanent residence to be long and tedious but it was surprising quick. It required providing a lot of information upfront but once this was done the rest of it was straightforward. We are grateful for the opportunity to start our lives somewhere new and exciting and looking forward to the prospects of creating beautiful and exciting memories together.

However, it isn’t all singing and dancing as I am a bit apprehensive about the move. A lot of people have said I have nothing to worry about and although I believe them, it does not change the fact we are taking a big step and a big risk. We are leaving good jobs, great schools for kids and the comfort blanket of having great friends and family surrounding us to move to a country where we will have to rebuild what we know all over again. I will be moving from a country that has become home, where everything is familiar and we are nicely settled, to another with numerous unknowns in a different continent.

We all know you don’t buy everything in the same place, well I certainly do not. For example, I can buy my milk anywhere because it’s just milk but I drive to Tesco for their brioche because my family love their brioche. I will need to find a supermarket that actually does the brioche my children like. This proved difficult when we visited back in January.

For celebrations, I will need to find a lovely bakers to put my Pinterest downloads into edible form.

Not to forget, learning the new tricks about commuting downtown, what is the best time and station to travel from.

Learn the new ‘lingo’. I know they speak English, but every country has its lingo I’ve come to find. For example, it took my a while to understand British humour, but now I do and I love it. I can laugh for days at a British joke but 15 years ago, I just didn’t get it.

So, you get the drift. I’m going to have to learn it all again. It is okay however, because it is an adventure and I’m privileged enough to be doing this with my family.

The hardest part of this whole ordeal has been my family and my friends. You know the ones that are really there for you when it matters? The ones that are just totally amazing, the ones you can’t even think of replacing, those are the people that make this move all the more painful.

It has been such an emotional few days for us. My sister in law who is just great on so many levels! I couldn’t be the wife and mum I am today without my Sister Ore! She has been a constant rock, a constant support! She has been a sister. Let’s just say the tears were never ending. It will be a lot to adjust to not being able to just pick up the phone to call her as often as I will like because of the time difference.

My friend become big sister, Buki. She is all sorts of amazing as well, and extremely thoughtful! She is cool and extremely resourceful. The kind of friend that stops in unannounced with a tonne of thoughtful gifts that make you tear up. I have learnt so much from her in such a short space of time and I’m sure going to miss her.

My best friend, Vese. It’s been an extremely emotional one. I’m not going to dwell on this paragraph. All I will say is thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Our friendship is going to be tested by distance and time, but I trust that we will be okay. I will miss you loads.

I will talk about the practicalities of our moving in another blog, but until then, I’m going to cry some more before we land in YYC because I’ve promised myself, Calgary is going to be happy, we are going to be happy and it will be worth it all!

JDIM

Sleep training failure

I said I was going to blog about sleep training my son, but let’s just say at the moment, we are taking two steps forward and several backwards!

Basically, sleep training just isn’t happening. Please note that the content of this post is my personal experience. It doesn’t mean it is going to be the same for you. Disclaimer over!

Other than the fact that it will be nice for myself and my husband to have our bed back to ourselves again, both kids sleeping on their beds all night means each one of us will sleep a lot better and feel more refreshed in the morning. I really want this for the both of them.

I think we missed the boat to get both my son and daughter in good sleep form! The fact my son wasn’t sleep trained by the time my daughter arrived has made it harder for us, amongst other things, to sleep train her. My son is 4 and my daughter is 1.

Let’s start with the little man. His bed time routine is for us to read him a story, turn on his night light and close his door a little bit. You dare not close it more than a little or less than a little because he will call you out on it. He will then happily fall asleep by himself. You do a little victory lap thinking that’s it, he will be up at 7am in the morning, but no it doesn’t happen that way. Without fail, between midnight and 3am, my little man finds his way to our room, at a time when both myself and my husband have zero will to get up and enforce him sleeping in his room. He spends the rest of the night with us and that is that.

Moving on to my little lady. I remember when she was a baby, she did so well sleeping in her bed. She slept all night in there and I was very happy. However, as she got older and wiser and could see for herself that her older brother seems to like sleeping between mummy and daddy, she made a decision to stop sleeping in her bed. In fact, even when she’s sound asleep and you put her in her bed, within 10 minutes she is up screaming her lungs out and waiting to join us on our bed. However, if you put her on our bed, whether or not we sleep beside her. She sleeps through the night!

These kids make me want to call the bed manufacturer and offer him our advertising services because the kids just love it! Surely it has to do with the mattress right? Who knows!

The truth is we have tried to sleep train them both. We went from my son only wanting to fall asleep in our room, or wanting us to stay with him till he fell asleep, to giving him a cup of milk before bed (that came with its own issues so we have stopped that now), to where we are now. I personally call that progress! Although it will be nice to reach the destination soon! We have tried it all out. We have tried the cry it out method, we have stayed with him then left, we have moved temporarily into his room, night lights, sent him back to his room several times in the middle of the night. We have tried it all.

With my little lady, we have equally tried the cry it out method and the stay in the room with her till she sleeps etc but she just ain’t having it!

Okay, that isn’t fully the truth. The truth is, when we have tried all these methods in the past, eventually, something works and the kids are happy to sleep on their beds for the night but then a change in their routine takes me back to square zero! For example, when we travel to a different time zone for holiday, or when we have guests that mean the kids need to leave their room (as an African, this is a thing!). These disturbance in their routine then means I am starting all over again.

It has been a frustrating process but I have temporarily given up on any form of sleep training at the moment because, we have another disturbance to routine coming up in 6 weeks or so. We are moving from one continent to another which is exciting. So my plan is to try this sleep training thing again, for what I hope will be the last time once we have moved. I will also take steps to make sure their routine is not disturb until they have mastered the act of sleeping on this beds and in their room. This I pledge, so help me God!

I really respect mums who have been able to make this happen for their kids! Well done! As for me, I will keep trying. One day it will click.

..and then we are four!

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!!!

Sharing life’s experiences 

  

*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!

Have a great week!

When Mama lost her Mojo

Hi blogsville!

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.

Somewhere on the way to Banff
 
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.

Loads of love 

JDIM