Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A hard decision

This is the longest I have ever 'not posted' and this is because I have really been trying to decide whether or not to keep up the blog. In the beginning, my friend Bee suggested I started the blog to help keep me sane as I started my Leicester Adventure and now that the adventure is over, the overall focus and objective of the blog is gone and I'm not sure I have enough to say to keep it going.

After much thought and consideration, I have decided for the moment to end the Leicester Life Adventure blog while I focus on settling in back at home and in the new job.

So as a quick and final update on the Leicester Life Adventure:

Starting the new job was not smooth sailing neither was leaving Leicester. My start date kept being moved back because they were still waiting on Accounts approval to 'purchase' my services. This meant I had to go back to Leicester while I waited. My mind was not there and I ended up falling out with my boss SN and leaving Leicester in a huff. Thank goodness, shortly after I got back to London, I got a call from the Agency to start the next day. In all it was a delay of 4 days but I was so stressed about it. I imagined they had changed their mind and the Agency was trying to let me down gently.

I've now been in the new job a few days now, and as with most new jobs, it started well. My hope and prayer is that it will remain well and even get better. It's great to not be training. It's great to actually think and use one's brain. It's great to work with other mature professionals - people you can learn from. It's great to leave work everyday and see my son, my husband and sleep in my own bed. The 90 minute drive in to work is NOT great but I can live with it for the next few months.

My nanny Diane handed in her notice a few weeks ago and I had been on the look out for a new nanny. Thankfully, I've now found one and she is starting on Friday (18th May). Her name is Renatta and she says she is a 'clean freak' as well as an 'expert potty trainer' - I hired her on the spot! LOL. She and Diane will work together this Friday to do a 'handover' which would help a great deal because even I don't know Kitan's detailed day-to-day routine. Diane then leaves on Saturday. Thankfully, my Mum is arriving on Saturday for a month so she will help to make sure the new nanny and Kitan settle in well together.

Life back at home has been manic, but this is the reality all working Mums live with everyday. Now I know Leicester was a piece of cake... there I got home from work, never cooked, always eating some exotic frozen meal or a takeaway, watch tv, went online, then went to bed reading a magazine or book. In the morning, I leisurely bathe and get ready then drive the 15 minutes into work.

Now - just flip all that on it's head!. I have not watched TV or gone online at all in the last week. I've had to cook, play with Kitan, bathe him or put him to bed or both. Not to mention going to church as well as sorting out a whole raft of household issues. It's like I'm on a different planet - and there's no escape.

Actually, there is some respite. My new job involves me spending a couple of days a week on a different company site in the UK- it's by the sea and I'd be in a posh hotel - all expenses paid. It breaks up the routine so that's good.

Though the blog was for me, I totally appreciate everyone who has read or commented on my blog - especially those who have taken the trouble to get to know me better. I do feel like we are friends and the end of the Leicester Life Adventure does not mean the end of our relationship. I'll still be in blogsville leaving my 'two cents' all over the place and responding to any comments left here.

Leicester Life Adventure - Over and Out!

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The End

As I sat to write this post... I was not sure how to start to write about the end of my Leicester Life Adventure. The End was something I had longed for from my very first week here and we humans are funny because we lack that ability to see The End about most things in life including Life itself.

I never thought my time here would end, I knew it would but I never imagined what that would be like. To never need to drive back to London on a Friday knowing I'd be travelling up that same road again early Monday morning heading to Leicester.

My last week started with me arriving late on Monday morning for the very first time... already it was showing that I'd ceased caring and my mind was not here anymore. I stayed home a little while longer cuddling my little boy and telling him that after this week he would see Mummy every morning and every evening by God's grace. I got into Leicester at 9:30am and my class of 2 were waiting patiently for me. No one had thought to set up the class, so I spent the next 30 mins sorting out a laptop and projector and training materials. We finally got going just before 10am and I trained out my last SAP BW Power User course.

It was still all a secret. No one knew that was my last week there and in fact technically, it wasn't. I still had just over 2 weeks to go but my new job wanted me 10 days earlier than my current contract finished. There was not enough time to give notice without being in breach of contract and in any case, there was a clause in my contract that if I saw it through to the end, I would receive a bonus of 5% of all I had earned in my 6.5 months there. So I had to somehow be there technically till the 17th of May.

The bonus was a prize to me. A mark of my achievement. I had done the work, suffered the separation, risked my life on the motorway, week in, week out. Even if I gave the money to charity, it was my reward and I was going to make sure I collected it.

As I had been unwell the week before and the doctor had asked that I rest. I told SN, my manager that I wanted a week off from the 8th - 11th May to recuperate. He said he was sorry that due to the work load, he could not authorise it. I said I'm not asking for a holiday, I am telling you that for health reasons I will not be available. It's not a request. Later, when he released the training schedule for the week I'd requested, I noticed my name was NOT included. Good!

My plan is to then extend my 'recuperation period' by 2 extra days into the week after (my official last week) then return to Leicester on the 16th and 17th to see the contract through to the end and thus qualify for my bonus.

It is a sneaky plan because the reality is I would actually have started work at the new place on the 8th of May but I'm not feeling guilty about it because I have already completed all my courses here and will not be getting paid by them during my 'recuperation week'. Also, the big boss is on holiday for 2 weeks and the other manager AC is off next week too. Who am I that the whole company will collapse if I'm not there for 7 days?

Still, it's not the ideal situation, God forgive me!

I was so excited I told my 2 pals my 'secret'. "I've got a new job but don't tell anyone!" I warned them. They were so happy for me (I think). Most of the trainers' contracts are ending like mine in the 3rd week of May so everyone is job hunting, including the managers. A few have been asked to stay on but most are leaving.

My house mate Louise was on holiday and was not back by the time I went to bed on Monday night. I saw her briefly on Tuesday morning as I was pulling out of the drive and jumped out of my car to say "Louise, I've got a new job, I'm starting next week, this is my last week and I'm moving out on Friday... I'm running late, must dash, I'll tell you all about it later" - she stood there stunned but with a smile on her face! When I got back from work, she was not home before I went to bed.

On Tuesday too, I told my manager SN, only because he will be getting a email to give me reference and I wanted him to 'be nice'. During my time here, we'd had our issues (also see 'He has come again oh') but had settled into a healthy 'drama-free' relationship. I also told a couple other colleagues though considering the way they all gossip, I'm sure they knew already.

There were lots of contract documents for the new job to send and/or sign - Opt Out agreement; Confidentiality Agreement; Letter of Intent; Company Registration Certificate, VAT Certificate; Bank details; Scanned Passport; 2 Referees; Public Liablity Insurance; Professional Indemnity Insurance and on and on. I spent the later part of Tuesday printing, signing, faxing, calling - and trying to get everything in order. You'd think I was joining the MOD (Ministry of Defence).

On Wednesday, I had no more training scheduled and could continue from where I left off yesterday trying to send over all the contract documents. My manager SN got the reference request and thankfully gave me a glowing reference. He told me he wrote "She has an excellent analytical mind, good at finding faults and suggesting solutions." Looking at that now, it does read 'somehow', what does he mean 'finding faults'? - anyway it'll have to do.

With only Thursday and Friday to go, I have to find time to tell Louise - she's in London till Thursday night. And I have to pack which for some weird reason, I'm finding difficult to do.

An era has truly come to an end and I doubt I would have this opportunity again. How ever way I look at it, it was a God-given opportunity and I was blessed from start to finish. I could have made more of my time here, I know, but it was what it was and I'm thankful. I've learned a lot about myself and about others. It's helped me spiritually and I learned to rely on God. It was the boost my career needed and it built up my confidence in myself and in my skills. It led me to starting this blog in which I have chronicled my journey. And years later when the challenges will be different and I'd have forgotten about Leicester, I can always come back and read and laugh and cry.

It'll be a new adventure the next time I post again. This is my last post from Leicester. The last one.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I got the job!

... but not the one you think!

In my last post I had mentioned an interview for a job I was not 100% sure of. Meanwhile, I had spotted this job advert which read like my dream job and so I applied for that too:


Testing & Training Coordinator
Required skills: global brand company is currently recruiting a Testing & Training Coordinator, to assist with the testing & training activities. To work towards delivery of the testing & training strategy and project plan. Skills profile, knowledge of SAP at both a working and technical level. Knowledge of business processes, excellent communication skills, experience in a testing environment, experience in a training environment, train The Trainer skills and experience. Coordination of defined system testing activities. Coordination of design and development of testing plans and cases.
Location: London


The day after applying, I got invited for an interview too - on the Friday. So I had 2 job interviews. One next Monday and the other this Friday.

On Tuesday, I decided to put together the presentation for the next Monday interview. This is why it is important for one to have a discerning spirit and be prayerful. After staying up late working on the presentation, I listened to a voicemail on my mobile the next day from the company saying they had offered the job to someone else and the person had accepted. Can you imagine!

Even though I was not 100% sure about the job, the rejection still hurt not to mention the wasted time working on the presentation. Still, I had the Friday one to look forward to and I really preferred this role for the following reasons:

  1. It was in London

  2. It was working for a huge company

  3. It was 25% more money

  4. Most imporantantly, it was much more than just training. I'd get to see and learn the technical 'back end' of the system by co-ordinating the testing, it was some what managerial, so I'd have some real responsibilities and use my strengths which are planning, analysing, scheduling, problem solving, organising etc...

Anyway, I had to leave work on Thursday afternoon because I was feeling unwell with very bad chest pain and fatigue, got home in London and made an urgent appointment with the G.P (family doctor), it turned out I have Costochondritis which thankfully is not as deadly as it sounds. The cartiledge where my ribs meet my breast bone are inflamed due probably to a viral infection. I was prescribed some anti-inflamatory medicine and told to rest.

I tried to prepare as best I could for the interview but when I got there 9am on Friday morning, I was relying soley on Jesus. I could not remember the last time I did proper system testing plus I did not have experience of the SAP modules they used. The interview started and progressed quite well I thought and an hour later it was over. I asked how many others are being interviewed for this role and was just I was the first. I then asked how soon would all the candidates be informed and was told early next week.

As I left, I prayed "God I really want this job". I prayed that for the others coming, their car would not start, their train would be cancelled, they will get offered other jobs, they would change their minds etc... I also called the agency and told my contact there that I really really want the job and he should call them and get their initial impressions.

Barely 2 hours later, he called me back and said they really liked you and think you are a good fit for the company. They want you to start on Tuesday! Wow! I screamed totally delighted. Then realised "I can't start on Tuesday". I told him that and he said he'd see what he could do. He then called back to say they will move the start date to the 8th of May.

I was over the moon and walking on clouds at the same time. God was so favourable to me, my very first interview and I did not have to go for any more. I really felt blessed. Everyone had sent me prayers for the interview and I started calling and texting back with the good news.

It's only a 3 month contract with the possibility of extension but that was just what I wanted. I will be home every single evening and see my babies (Kitan and Tunji), I can watch my programmes without having to have marathon sessions at the weekend catching up with everything via Sky+. I can meet up with friends, go out to dinner with hubby, go to midweek service and prayer meetings. No more Sunday blues thinking about the drive and the week up at Leicester. It was like I had my life back!

Talking about church, I'd decided I was not quite spiritually ready for the church job and would spend the 3 months working back in London to build myself up spiritually while still helping out at church in the evenings and weekends (when I can). Maybe in September, I may feel ready to take up the job. I'm at peace with my decision and hope they are too.

Can you believe, next week is my last week in Leicester?! I'm happy the adventure is nearly over and really could not have done it without my faithful blog and your reading and supporting me through it. I will continue posting because settling back at home and at a new work place will certainly come with their own challenges though I doubt anything will compare with Leicester.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I have an interview!

What a lovely start to the week after an even lovelier weekend.

Last week, I managed to wrangle a day off on Friday in exchange for working till 8pm on Thursday so I left work very tired but pleased at the prospect of waking up to my baby (and hubby too ofcourse) on Friday.

I had a wedding to attend on Saturday and spent the better part of Friday (after bonding with my baby ofcourse) at Brent Cross shopping with my pal Kemi and her daughter Tolu. We had lunch at Yo Sushi - not the yucky raw stuff but yummy dim sum and a nice noodle soup. It was like the good old days of being ladies who lunch.

At Brent Cross, I bought a very nice transparent floral top with tones of blue and burgundy to wear over the strapless blue jaquard dress I had planned to wear. Ofcourse I bought the 'spanx like' under support to flatten the belly, a pair of burgundy suede shoes (a bargain at £35 reduced from £100) and a few other bits and bobs.

Saturday was spent at the wedding, I think I looked okay - nothing spectacular but pretty and feminine in the floral print and soft colours. We took a taxi down to save ourselves the parking wahala. Everything was very well planned, my friend looked stunning though I was not sure about the strapless bodice part of her wedding dress. As the day progressed, her boobs seemed to be riding up the top and needed constant rearranging. She is a beautiful girl and her face was very nicely made up. When it came to feeding each other the cake, she knelt down in true traditional style to feed her new husband a slice of cake to gasps of shock and horror from the other ladies both married and single. After much fun and catching up with old pals (and enemies), we left about 5pm, back home to Kitan.

Sunday was church, our Pastor preached on the woman with the issue of blood. He said hers was a unique case as she was able to get something from God/Jesus without being granted or given it. Her faith was all it took to get her healing without being directly handed it by Jesus as he walked with the crowds. I'd actually never really thought of it that way. Almost everyone else in the Bible prayed or asked or demanded before being blessed but not her. My Pastor also said that after 12 years of suffering from her affliction and going everywhere for healing, she still had enough faith to wrench it from Christ whereas most of us after suffering one misfortune or the other for a short while become jaded, discouraged and unable to summon up enough faith when required. The sermon was a real eye opener for me.

I stopped enroute home to buy Meats (chicken, cowleg, beef, shaki & kidney) to make a huge pot of stew for Tunji to last him the week and when I got home, started cooking the stew. My friend Bee was running the London Marathon, a lifetime ambition for her and at short notice I was unable to go to support her. To cheer myself up, I went onto Ebay to look for inline roller skates. I had seen some at Brent Cross for £50 and almost bought it. Online, I saw one on Ebay ending soon and put in a 'snipe bid' via my secret website that sneaks in your bid at the last minute. I had placed a maximum bid of £36 and was pleasantly surprised to win them at £16! Even better, they came with free knee and elbow pads which I am sure I'll need.

Later that evening about 6pm I decided to take Kitan swimming. I'd been meaning to start that as a Mummy/baby routine for us every Sunday evening but had never got a chance to until now. So I scooped him up and off we went. It was great fun! He'd had swimming lessons as a baby but obviously that was money down the drain as Kitan was terrified and clung to me like white on rice. Still he found it really funny and was laughing his head off as was I. Soon, he got used to the water and found he could actually stand in it which he loved. We left about 7pm tired but happy.

Monday - back at work and it's usual woes, but I don't want to write about that, I have only a short while left to go. I can do it! Anyway, I'd sent out a raft of CVs last week and today got a call for an interview in London!!! What a huge morale booster. It feels like a first interview as I have not had a proper interview in ages, even my current job was via a telephone interview. For this one I have to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation. Yikes! Still God is able and I'm optimistic. It's a permanent job and not one I'm 100% keen on but I'm going with the flow remember? So I'll do my best and we'll see what happens.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've packed

I woke up this morning at 5:40am and could not go back to sleep. I had this strong feeling to pack my stuff... not all of it but to take my large suitcase back home this weekend instead of my travel bag.

The truth is, I'd always felt I should begin to take stuff back in the month leading up to my departure so on the last day, it will be a tidy good bye. Not suitcases, bin bags, dripping cream bottles and all that.

So I started packing. I cleared out half the clothes in my wardrobe, my food cupboards and most of the stuff on my bathroom shelf. Also all my books. My flat mate was still around (usually she leaves for the gym at 6:15am) and I had to reassure her that I was definitely coming back after the weekend when she saw me clearing out.

On the job front... I'm getting calls now. One agency has been pestering me to send further information for a role in Swindon. Yes Swindon! In a moment of madness one evening, I sent off my brand new CV out willy nilly and one was for a job almost 3 hours drive away in Swindon. What was I thinking. It's been over a week now and he's been calling me upto 3 times a day to send the additional information. I spoke to him finally 2 days ago and said I had not had time to prepare the other info he wanted and I was not sure I wanted to work 3 hours away from home especially after Leicester. He said "Oh, it's not 3 hours, it's 1 hour 45 minutes" - what could I say except "Okay" and then sent him the info. Hopefully, the company would not be interested otherwise I could find myself travelling up to Swindon to interview for a job I don't want. I did get some other more promising calls today, so we watch and pray.

"What about the church job?" you ask. I spoke to the Pastor's wife on Sunday and she stressed the need for me to be spiritually strong to work at church. To attend more prayer meetings etc... She said the job was "more spiritual than anything". I want to grow spiritually which is why the role is appealing to me but I'm not sure I want to be (or am) able to discern ALL things from a spiritual perspective.

I have been praying about making the right decision and today, I was reading my bible. In Matthew, chapter 17 (I think), Jesus was telling his disciples how he will be persecuted and killed. Peter replied "Never my Lord!" or something like that. And Jesus rebuked him seriously saying "you are seeing things in the flesh and not in the spirit. Get away from me!" - Obviously Peter did not want anything bad to happen to Jesus. That was his motive but he did not realise (spiritually) that that was part of God's plan for Christ to reclaim His position at God's right hand side and for the world to be saved. Peter's role as disciple was "more spiritual than anything" - and he did not always get it right.

God led me to this passage so what is God trying to tell me through this story?

To change the topic drastically - Tunji called me today to say Diane (my emergency nanny) wants to go but will wait till the end of my contract. I was not shocked or upset. She started working for me while I was already in Leicester and has not had the chance to learn things my way. She's very good with Kitan but not so great in house chores but I let it go because my priority was my baby. I did feel that when I move back home, it would be like 2 madams in the house and there was bound to be a clash. Her 'contract' was till end of June anyway and I had planned to let her go and find someone else who would learn things my way since I'd be home. Her deciding to leave on her own accord was God taking control and sparing me the unpleasantness of letting her go.

My weightloss plan has gone weird... I've not lost a pound in 2 weeks (according to my scales) but have dropped almost 2 dress sizes. Things I could not wear 3 weeks ago now fit - go figure!?

Anyway, the weekend is here and I'm hoping for lovely sunshine especially as I have a day off on Friday (shoe shopping and general pampering me thinks!) and I'd be attending a wedding on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What do I REALLY want?

Festival of Life was awesome! The prayers, the music, the preaching... all of it was great and sooooo soul refreshing. The theme was "All will be well" and Pastor E.A Adeboye preached on how that statement meant different things to different people. To the sick, it means healing, to the poor, it means prosperity, to the childless, it means fruitfulness, to the lonely, it means companionship etc...

I had to ask myself, what does "All will be well" mean to me? I won't lie, I struggled to come up with a concise answer. I backed up and asked myself "What do I really want?" - No answer.

Still, at the event, I was caught in the spiritual euphoria and claimed every prayer point for myself and my loved ones.

It was not until later, on Sunday, that I came across an article in the Sunday Times and asked myself again "What do I really want?"

The article was about how every one should have a reason to leap out of bed in the morning. How we need to focus on achieving our goals one bit at a time, how we need to slow down and re-evaluate our lives regularly to make new goals and scrap old ones.

Right now, I really feel ready for a change but I'm not sure what that change should be or if I am brave enough to embark on it. The article mentioned 'being and staying positive and optimistic', research has shown that those "deluded optimists" are happier and more successful.

I know I have been quite negative - about my Leicester experience, about my life, about most things and I'm going to be changing that. I'm also going to be working on figuring out what excites me. In a positive way, without beating myself up about it. As the article suggested, I'm going to try out new things and old things in a new way - something may spark my interest and excite me.

About after Leicester, none of the options before me right now are 100% appealing so I'm not going to focus on convincing myself one way or the other, I'll just go with the flow and keep a look out for what else is out there.

One of the delegates I was training took sometime off this week to attend the funeral of his cousin. A 28 year old woman, who just went to bed and never woke up. She was not ill, no one killed her. Her autopsy report said "died of natural causes". She leaves behind her husband and 2 young children.

I don't want that to be me, so weighed down with problems and stress, not happy, not joyful, so much so that one day I just don't wake up. God forbid!

I've tried this week to be positive and optimistic and this is what's happened so far:

1. Some of my delegates requested an evening this week to practice what they've learnt before their assessment. We are very short staffed at the moment, so I offered to stay back for the 2 hours on the Thursday they were requesting on the condition I get Friday off - and my manager agreed! 2 hours extra work for a whole day off! Super.

2. I arranged to drop my car at a garage on my way to work this morning for an MOT. The mechanic had said they can only give me a lift to work if I drop the car off at 9am. I start training at 9am so that wouldn't work. I said okay but took the car in at 8am. The guy was there but said he could not leave until others get in at 9am, I said "no problem, I'll wait". But I had prayed for God to make a way and I was expectant. 5 minutes later, a woman pulled up to drop off a car battery, as she got into her car, I approached her and asked if she would drop me at work. It was out of her way but she agreed and I got to work for 8:20am

3. My car passed MOT - first time! No additional mechanical work required and this is a car I punish with 180 miles motorway driving every week.

So what do I really want? I still don't know for sure but I'm going to pray to have a happy, joyful, optimistic and positive journey finding out.

p.s. Have you noticed the Weekly Poll to the left? There's a new question every week and I'd love to know what you think. No personal details are collected at all, just your view on the question asked. You can see what others think too by clicking 'View Results'. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

All will be well

If you really need to hear these words from someone... now is your opportunity.

If you are in the UK or will be in the UK... don't miss this.

Friday the 13th of April is Festival of Life.

It's free and doors open from 8pm.

The host is Pastor E A Adeboye and the theme is "All Will Be Well"

I know... this is a blatant advert, but I will be there and I've shared a lot on this blog this last few months and just thought I'd share this with you too.

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Tears

I usually have mixed feelings about Easter ever since my sister died 11 years ago around Easter time. This year, her anniversary fell on Good Friday. I remember being devastated at the time and thinking why would God resurrect His son but leave my sister dead? It was hard to celebrate Easter. But time is a healer and 11 years on, it does not hurt as much and for the first time I did not cry as I remembered. I am grateful for the resurrection of Christ which means I have the assurance of seeing her again one day.

On Friday, we treated Kitan to a bus ride to Oxford Street and then walked over to Hyde park where we met up with his beloved cousins for a boat ride on the Serpentine Lake.

at the park

As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day. Children really give you the opportunity of seeing things with totally fresh eyes and delighting in the most mundane things. They had a swell time not that you could tell from their little worried faces in the picture.

On Saturday, Tunji took Kitan out and I spent hours working on the perfect CV. It's only a few more weeks left and it was time I got my act together. Whatever decision I did make, be it 'sit at home', work for church or get another I.T job, I still needed to get my CV out there. After much tweaking and fine-tuning, I was proud of my handiwork. I remembered to pray for God's blessings so that as I send it out, job offers will flow in. IJN. AMEN!!!

Sunday was spent in church and afterwards at home having lunch with friends. Tunji surprised us by ordering a large, really yummy cake - sorry Roz - if I had known he was making an order, I would have ordered from you - not that you were around over Easter anyway.

Our yummy Easter cake

Monday messed me up! I had decided to go and get my hair braided and made an appointment for 10am. When I got there, the lady said it would take 4 hours, 5 at the most. No probs I thought... I would be done by 3pm and still have lots of time to spend with Kitan because I had barely seen him that morning before I left home. I figured I might take him to the fun fair at Alexandra Palace or go see my friend in Stevenage.

Anyway, the hair took ages and when I called home at 8pm to ask that they keep him awake for me, Diane said he had gone to sleep already. I was so upset. I did not leave the 'salon' until 9:15pm and got home at 9:30pm.

A whole day at home in London and I did not see my baby for more than 20 mins.

How precious are these days at home? How could I have wasted a whole day doing my hair? But I need to do my hair! How can I win? I was in tears and unconsolable, eventually crying myself to sleep. I wanted Tunji to tell me to stay home but he did not, instead he said "it's a short week and you'll see him at the weekend". After seeing how upset I was, by morning, he had changed his mind and begged me to stay home, I said "Oh and deprive you of the ££££ pounds I would have made... surely not!"

Should I have stayed home or was I right to go?

Needless to say, I was a sad, depressed and broken woman driving up to Leicester this morning.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April at last!

For the first time, I can now say "I'll be out of Leicester next month". I've been wanting to say that since December 2006.

This is not to put anyone thinking of doing something similar off. It is do-able and it can be fun, for someone with a different type of personality. With more get-up-and-go.

Now that I can see the end in sight, I realise there was more I could have done to enjoy my time here. I could have done more to make friends and have a social life in Leicester. I could have developed myself somehow - maybe take an evening course in French, baking, sewing... who knows.

For most of my time here, it was Winter - cold, dark and dreary. When I leave work and it's pitch dark, there was no incentive to do anything beyond, get home, have dinner, curl up in bed and wonder what the hell am I doing here.

Also, the job had a factor to play. It was not challenging enough and there was not the scope to do more. Training is hard! And I don't know if it's because I'm lazy or what... but standing for most of the day and talking almost non-stop, is not my idea of fun and the worst part is having to repeat myself over and over again word for word for each subsequent class. Torture! And I'm not a naturally talkative person. I like puzzles, challenges, analysing, problem solving, process design - and there was none of that here.

I've buckled down for the home run - and everyday I pray to God for strength to see it through to the end.

On the plus side, I've started losing weight - 11 pounds so far. If I'm going to be attending interviews in the next couple of months, I have to look at least comparable to the small small boys and girls going for the same job.

After Leicester, I've love to take a month off though... maybe spend it in the States or in Nigeria. Just chilling with my little boy. We've planned a mini-tour of Europe in September, 18 days driving through France, Italy and Spain, staying in holiday camps along the way. I've got that to look forward to.

Last weekend was good! On Saturday I had to go and do Naija food shopping. I went to Cricklewood and bought Pounded Yam, Amala, Yellow garri, White garri, Knorr Cubes and Beans. Tunji was very happy! In the evening, I had a bridal shower to attend for this 'almost 40 year old' friend of mine. Beautiful, educated, great career - but no man. Until now! At the last minute, I decided not to go and stayed home bonding with my baby. Sunday was good. It was thanksgiving service in church. Some young friends of our dedicated their one year old son - a gorgeous little boy. It reminded me of when my 'miracle baby' was dedicated. I am yet to hear the sort of prayers they prayed for Kitan prayed for any other child. That day, the whole church bowed. The visiting pastor must have known that this was a special baby - there is nothing he did not cover - it was amazing!

After church was the birthday party for the little boy then on to another party for a 40 year old friend of mine.

We got home totally shattered but it was fun and we'd got to spend time together as a family and eat free food. Free as in I did not have to buy it or cook it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kris Okotie for President?

While Tunji was visiting last weekend, we'd napped and woke up hungry at 9pm so we went down stairs to get something to eat and watch some TV.

There was nothing on the usual channels and we found ourselves on OBE or was it BEN? Anyway, who was on being interviewed? Kris Okotie - talking about his presidential campaign.
For a minute I thought it was an old programme because the last I knew, he campaigned and lost. Was he having another go? Don't these things cost money? What is he thinking?

As we listened, in the midst of his big big grammer, he seemed to be making some sense.

I do (or is it did?) like Mr Okotie, I think we had his album at home when he was a pop singer. After I left uni in Naija, I used to go to his church in Oregun - and loved it. But as President? I don't know?

Realistically what are his chances? With Yaradua and the rest? With the money involved? What about the corruption? Can he really win without getting his hands dirty and compromising his beliefs?

If he doesn't win, who will? An 'Obasanjo puppet'? or worse?

Honestly, I never get into Naija politics. It's just too messy. But stumbling on this programme got me thinking. What hope for my beloved country?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Time of the month

It's the time of the month again. I'm not even sure where I am in my cycle and I should be after my pregnancy scare last month.

After years of charting, plotting, monitoring and all what not while TTC, I've just switched off from it completely. Through the mercy of God, after 4 years, I eventually got pregnant and had my beautiful baby and in him I am totally fulfilled in my role as mother.

Hubby on the other hand would like one more. I wouldn't hate one more but I don't want to kill myself over it. Who would see fire and put their hand? TTC was more stressful for me than for him. I was the one waking up to take my temps, I was the one reading books, taking all sorts of herbal supplements, having and recovering from fibroid operation, crying when after all that the period still came. Once, on my birthday.

I just don't want to go there anymore. I really don't.

But he does not understand.

He says: "God did it before, He can do it again"
I say: "So let Him do it again, what do you need me for?"
He says: "We need to be in agreement"

I give up. I can't agree this. It'll take me right back there again, and I don't want to go.

There are other issues too! The AS/SS/AA possibilities. My life, Me, My career. His family. My son. He'll no longer be my special baby, the only one who looked down from heaven, pitied me and asked God to send him. I want to give him the world... will he now have to share it?

It's the time of the month. My stomach cramps, I feel sick, my mood is black and I have to stand in front of a class Tuesday and Wednesday with a big smile on my face.

Pray for me.

Hubby in Leicester

Finally, Tunji made it up to Leicester this weekend.

My colleague HR, was getting engaged and was having a pre-wedding Indian ceremony/party. She'd got me a sari to wear, but when they started talking about henna on my hands, stuff in my hair... It was beginning to seem I was going to be the entertainment.

Plus it's still cold and I was not in the mood to be showing off my fat belly in a small Indian blouse.


I ended up wearing a nice skirt suit from Monsoon. Very nice actually!

We left Kitan with my sister (and his beloved cousins) on Saturday and drove up to Leicester after church on Sunday. The event was nice and it was great to have Tunji in my 'lodgings'. He met my landlady (she seemed cold) and thought the whole set up was very nice. Still, he felt really uncomfortable being in someone else's house and I kept telling him to relax.

We drove round Leicester a bit, he's mad about buildings and Architecture and always wants to see what the buildings are like whereever we go. We thought we'd go see a film. We were both tired but felt since we were on our own with no Kitan (a mini-honeymoon) we must do something. Thank God we came to our senses and went home instead, read the Sunday Times and the many supplements that came with it, chilled, chatted and then napped.

It was nice, sweet and very cosy. We've been through a lot together and the fact that he still really loves me often amazes me. I guess I do love him too.

Think Pussy Cat Dolls
Nobody gonna love me better
I must stick with you forever.
Nobody gonna take me higher
I must stick with you.
You know how to appreciate me
I must stick with you, my baby.
Nobody ever made me feel this way
I must stick with you.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Official Countdown Starts

On Monday in a meeting with all trainers, our big boss Fran said our managers will be having 1-2-1 sessions with each of us to determine our aspirations and plans for the future as the project (and contracts) begins to draw to a close.

I knew there was no way I'd be staying on in Leicester full time as a trainer (that was if they even wanted me to) but I did toy with the idea of moving over to the Training Design team - those idiots who write the crappy slides and manuals and develop the unstable training systems. At least that way I could work 3 days in London and 2 days in Leicester. It was only an idea and I ran it by the Training Design team manager. She liked the idea but was facing the same problem with work drying out for her team. Infact 2 members were already leaving.

Fine! It was final then. Goodbye Leicester. All I had to do was find SN and have my discussion with him.

I spotted him in the corridor and called him into the room I was in. It felt like I was the one assessing him. "Are you okay to have our chat?" "Sure" he said "When?". I gestured to a seat next to me and said "Now?".

I'm not one for uneccessary small talk so as soon as he sat down and I asked him if there was any possibility of them wanting me to stay on. I was thinking, if the answer was no, then there was no point in continuing the conversation. He said "Yes, we'd like you to stay on". I replied that I was surprised considering the various incidents in the past but he said "Omara, you are a great trainer and your feedback is consistently high". I said "Well, thanks but unfortunately, I will not be able to stay on beyond the 17th of May".

Did I detect his face drop or was it a hidden smile of glee? Anyway, it did not matter.

I said "I'd love to but my family commitments make it impossible, Leicester was an interesting opportunity at the time and it's helped me a great deal in building my confidence and getting me back into work but I've got to go back home now".

He said "I would not have thought you needed any more confidence building but why did you take a job in Leicester in the first place?"

His shoulders relaxed and I could see he had finally asked the question that had been burning in his soul since the first day I started. He must have asked that question to himself and everybody whenever I made a fuss about leaving early on Fridays or my 'special terms and conditions'.

I explained about Benjamin and how I never actually applied for the job but was persuaded to take it (read The Testimony (part two)). I confessed I was not really looking forward to going back job hunting again when he said that he was sure Benjamin would find me something very soon.

He then went on to say "I might be needing Benjamin's number myself".

I realised then that the internal staff (SN, the gay guy, my puppies and a few others) are more scared because they have all been seconded into the higher paying jobs that they have now on the back of this project which is now ending and don't want to go back to their old jobs with huge salary cuts.

I said "No problem SN, whenever you want. Benjamin knows of you by name now anyway" He replied "I can imagine what you've been telling him about me".

We laughed like it was a joke (Not!) and wrapped up the session.

So the official countdown starts. I'm definitely leaving on the 17th of May and with that goal in sight, I can finally relax. Nothing matters here now but that end date.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Unfortunate Lies

This image is the word 'Liar' made into a face

I'm not quite sure how to describe the weekend I had... I had to go to Prague without my husband's knowledge.

The whole week, I was wracked with guilt. I have several vices but lying is not my thing and even when he suspected I was upto something last week, I denied it.

It was supposed to be a 2 night stay but the logistics of covering that up was impossible, not being home for Mother's Day was not an option, so I cut it down to one night. The plan was to leave from the Leicester airport (EMA) on Friday morning, leave Prague Saturday afternoon then head home.

I told Tunji that we'd all been asked to stay back on Friday because the project we'd been working on was going live on Monday and they needed all hands on deck. I would be home on Saturday after a lie-in. Ofcourse he believed me.

While there, I had called him several times pretending to be in Leicester working.

The trip was successful and thank God I made it back safely... as I drove home, I knew I could not keep it up and had to confess.

He was not home when I arrived, he had gone with Kitan to the barbers. I took a shower and rested from my hectic escapades. When they got back we relaxed in the lounge, playing with our baby when he said "So how was work, you must be tired." I started off saying "It was fine..." then broke off and said "I have to tell you something.... please don't be angry".

Angry was an understatement, Tunji flipped. Kitan was in tears and I had to tell him to leave the room so as not to upset him further.

He was angry, betrayed, confused and upset. Most of all he felt so foolish and trusting - he really believed me when I called from Prague saying I was in Leicester. And why shouldn't he?

He said "How do I know Leicester, Sanjay and all those work colleagues are real?", "Who knows where your pay is really coming from?" I maintained my apologetic postion, refusing to get angry back or to rise to the bait.

I felt bad. I wish I had not deceived him. I wish he hadn't created a situation where I felt lying was my only option.

Needless to say, it was a difficult weekend.

We went shopping on Sunday to Tesco with Kitan and bumped into one of my colleagues from work (Tim, another Nigerian contractor), he was with his wife. I introduced them and asked Tim how his work was going as we work on different parts of the project... He replied "You know it's go-live on Monday now, so things are hectic." We made more small talk and went about our shopping.

That little chance encounter reassured Tunji that I was actually working in Leicester and there was go-live on Monday.

By the end of Sunday, he had forgiven me and we were pals again...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Being Me

Work was really good this week, I feel all I have strived for in this place with regards remaining true to my authentic self, I am closer to achieving.

After the first few weeks of trying to be 'Ms Please Everyone' and then becoming 'Ms I Don't Give a Damn', I think I more 'Ms Me' now.

And who am I?

Some days I don't feel like talking and some days I do... When I do talk, I am direct and honest but silly sometimes. Humourous but also quite serious. I am passionate about the things I believe in but can often be fickle too. I'm a softy with a shiny steel armour.

It's not realistic for me to like everyone and for everyone to like me. I'm cool with that... now!

I can be very organised and analytical but I'm laid back and not 'precious' about my material possesions.

I'm happy to be a Christian, it's a life saver believe me, but I'm so not where I should be and often times not even trying...

I'm not just one thing. I'm a bit like everyone else I know but I'm also uniquely 'Me'.

More importantly, I'm this same 'Me' at home, at church, with friends, with family and now, thank Goodness, at work too.

I got in Monday about 1pm because I was working the evening shift... I was 'paying' for the time spent this morning with my 'boys'. Still, it was worth it. Official training was coming to an end and we were conducting 'Grad Bay' sessions. These are one-to-one sessions with individuals who had gone through training, testing them on various tasks they should be able to do in the system, based on the training they had and extra practice time they should have put in. Each Grad Bay session lasts an hour. They have to pass 5/5 of a series of General Navigation tasks, then 5/5 of tasks specific to their job role.

The first thing I had to do was learn what I was going to be asking them to do. There were 20 tasks per section and each trainer/assessor had to select 5 of varying degrees of complexity for them to do.

It was one thing to train out material based on slides and simulations, but now the tasks were being done in the live system and one was in danger of showing oneself up. Everyone is a bit of an expert in their area but I noticed that asking someone to share their knowledge was like asking for a pound of flesh and instead of the trainers assessing, there was way too much conversation going on between assessor and delegate, I was sure there was coaching going on. Some of the tasks did not work properly in the live system and instead of the trainers reporting this so it is fixed, they were passing delegates on the basis of them just 'talking through the task'. All of this was not on and against the rules.

By the time I started assessing delegates later that afternoon, I was getting one fail after another. I felt bad doing it but should I do what some of the other assessors were doing or do it by the book? I had no choice, this was the outcome and I was comfortable with it.

Wednesday and Thursday was spent out of Grad Bay and training a class. Despite the delegates blank faces during training, I got great feedback and felt really good.

The problem with blogging is my friends don't call me as much because they know all about what's going on through here, so what's to talk about?

So I was grateful for Bernie's call on Thursday morning, just to encourage me to hang in there and it'll soon be over. We talked about job options in London and I felt more optimistic - or so I thought. At lunch time, I was with one of my puppies when I decided to call home and speak with Kitan. I put the phone on speaker so she could hear his voice as we chatted away. He sang for me, told me he loved me then said "Bye". When I hung up, tears welled up in my eyes and started dropping, right there in the staff restaurant.

I was being silly. Even if I was in working London, I'd be away from home at work at that very point in time but it was hearing his high little voice, his singing, his laughing - I could not help myself.

It's Mother's Day this weekend, and I don't want anything fancy or any fuss. I just want to chill at home with my baby and bask in his sweet unconditional love and attention.

p.s. Did you notice the change in the blog title and the little script below the title... I've decided to keep the blog on after Leicester, if only for a while, to tell about my return home and to what lies in store.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

About nothing

I love blogging! Not so much because I want to share my life with the whole world but because it helps me get stuff out of my system and chronicle this time of my life. Even now when I look back at my earlier posts, I can see how much has changed and how somethings haven't.

This particular post is about nothing in particular...

The last weekend went okay.

Friday: Dinner at Ping Pong with hubby - he's never been and enjoyed it. Got a parking ticket! There must be something about that place, the last time I went with a friend, the car got clamped.

Saturday: Had last minute information that the Women's fellowship meeting at church was happening the next day. I HATE last minute preparations but spent most of my Saturday preparing the agenda, the quiz and doing some shopping for materials. Still had time to chill so it wasn't so bad. Later that night, Tunji read my emails while shutting down the laptop as we were going to bed and caught me out in a lie. It was so funny as I continued to deny his allegations. Whatever.

Sunday: Church... had a visiting minister, Pastor Femi Ayotebi (or something like that) - that man knows the Bible inside out and can quote literally any verse off the top of his head. I pray for that sort of anointing to know the Word in detail. His sermons are deep but humourous. This Sunday's was on Faith - Back to Basics, and it was inspiring. The Womens's fellowship was after church, I was the quiz master and it was hilarious and great fun

Monday: Negotiated with SN to work the evening shift today so it meant a lie-in. Instead of getting up at 5:30am and leaving home at 6:30am. I could play with my baby in the morning, have breakfast with Tunji and leisurely leave home at 11am. Bliss!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Choosing Life

As I anticipated, the training session SN forced me to do on Monday was a disaster. If not for my dark skin, I would have been beetroot red throughout the whole session. To make matters worse, Emilio was made to sit with me as I was training that particular topic to his delegates. Strangely, we had to bond together to get through that course because the material was so bad and I did not have a clue what I was training.

I was training to a class of techies and they knew their stuff. Telling them "you don't need to know what that button does..." did not wash it. When I got in on Monday, the training environment was down, the delegates had to wait an hour before it was fixed. Then the slides were not where they were supposed to be, it took another 30 mins to find them on the network. By that time, the delegates were fuming. The fact that the course made no sense, was illogical and did not address pertinent issues was the straw that broke the camels back. The training team need to present a united front so it was hard but I had to take the critism without pointing the fingers at the stupid person who wrote the material without consulting with the right people and my manager who refused to listen to my concerns.

By the time the evaluation forms were completed, the feedback was atrocious. Thank God, they absolved me of some of the blame but stated the course was half-baked and a waste of their time. But at least the ordeal was over and I had captured their issues and prepared a document with enough guidelines for the course to be reviewed. When SN came in after the training session, I told him how bad it had been and how he owed me an apology for insisting on this class when I'd clearly stated that neither me nor the material were ready. He was gracious and apologised.

I had told my housemate, Louise, last week that I was definitely not going to be wanting to renew my contract but I did not expect her to have another tenant lined up so quickly, as Monday progressed, I got an email from her that she would like to show my room to someone that evening. Mondays are not good for me, I have to wake up so early, drive 90 miles, usually do a full days training so by the end of the day I'm shattered and am often in bed by 8pm. This person was coming at 7:30pm and I was not even sure my room was in viewing state because I left in a rush on Friday. I sent her an email saying I was not expecting to have to be conducting viewings so early and I'd prefer if, after this one time, she does not arrange any viewings earlier than 6 weeks to the end of my contract. She wrote back apologising and I realised I was a bit abrupt, I wrote back apologising for my tone... It was just Monday and I was having a rough week already!

I had been feeling quite down the week before and I got some really positive and encouraging comments on my blog so this week, I was determined to 'Choose Life'.. 'Choose Joy', even after I heard the other lady who trained us last week had complained to SN, Fran and her own manager that I was being difficult in the class by asking too many questions, being rude and acting like I did not want to be there. This was after I'd left but the rest of the trainers defended me saying that that was absolutely rubbish. They told SN and the big boss Fran that her delivery and course material was bad and that I did not express myself any worse that the rest of them did and infact some were more vocal. I did not let it affect me instead I sent her an email apologising for upsetting her, saying that it was not my intention, like everyone else there, I just wanted to gain a good understanding of the topic she was delivering by asking the sort of questions delegates would ask.

Praise God! The rest of the week went okay. It was SN's birthday on Thursday, he was 24. After wishing him Happy Birthday, I said "At last, I have an older manager!" He found that quite funny.

The weekend came really quickly because I was trained Monday, Wednesday and Thursday so before I knew it, 3pm Friday afternoon came round and I was off.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Children - a poem

I love poetry and my friend Emma sent me a beautiful poem recently which inspired me to revisit one of my poetry books "Childhood - An Anthology of Verse and Prose".

Don't think I'm that posh with a huge collection of poetry books... I was pregnant for Kitan when I wandered into a charity shop and spotted it on the shelf for £1.50. I bought it because it was illustrated with beautiful art work of children (like the one below) and the poetry mirrored my thoughts and feelings at that time.

Here's one of my favorite poems from the book... I hope you like it too.



And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archers hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Children from 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Seeking Joy

I had left work fuming after my conversation with SN and spent the drive home devising my exit strategy and weighing up my options. It was depressing and I arrived home depressed.

My baby was delighted to see me and that was enough to lift my spirits for a few hours. Diane was still doing an 'okay job' but there was something about the house... I could not put my finger on it. It was clean, everything in it's place and Diane was making a Trinidadian dish - macaroni pie with beef stew - nice. Still, everything seemed somehow.

By the time Tunji got home and Kitan went to bed, my grumpiness was unleashed full force. I just seemed discontent... for no good reason. Tunji said "Omara, you have a job, you have a child, you have family and friends, you have your health, your own home, car, clothes, jewellery, money... why can't you be happy"

"Why can't I be happy?"

On Saturday, we decided to combine business with pleasure. Tunji had to be in Kent for business so Kitan and I tagged along. After the business part, we planned to drive to the funfair in Margate but we got hungry along the way and stopped off at a pub. The pub had a fantastic contained indoor play area. There were other children there so we let Kitan off to play. We dragged him back to eat when his shepherds pie arrived but he went back after eating. After being inside for a bit, we went to the outdoor padded play area and he played on the climbing frame and slides. That was how a short stop-over for lunch turned into 3 hours at this place but it was a fun family time, just us 3 and it helped tire him out so we decided to head back home.

Diane works half days on Saturdays and goes back to her sister's for the weekend. I was tired from work and I was dreading having to look after Kitan by myself. Tunji wanted to go and play golf when we got back but I begged him to stay home. In the evening, I bathe Kitan and went to put him to bed.

In his little head, I disappear when he sleeps so he was determined not to sleep. I tried everything to no avail. In between his getting up and out of his room, I was trying to find something to wear to church on Sunday. In my large closet filled to the brim with clothes, I could not find anything to wear - everything was too small, too ill fitting, too inappropriate- nothing fit! I was getting angry with myself and the weight issue as well as getting frustrated when Kitan kept getting out of bed. I had to call for Tunji to put Kitan to bed while I focused on finding something to wear.

I have to do something about losing weight - start a diet, go to the gym, cut off body parts - anything!!!

Anyway, after church on Sunday, I was looking forward to going home, putting Kitan down for his nap and getting a snooze myself when my sister called. She and her husband were going to visit someone in hospital, could they bring the children round? "OOOOh God!" If not that Kitan absolutely loves his little cousins and would love having them around, I would have said "NO!" but I said "Yes" and ended up with 3 toddlers to look after on Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning 5:30am, I'm awake to get ready for work, Tunji is ironing for me (as he always does) and we finally have a 'proper conversation' - I tell him about how unhappy I am with my weight, I tell him about the latest issue with SN, I tell him about how I am happy with what I have but sometimes the things I'm not happy with crowd the happy stuff out, I tell him that I'm feeling boxed in and need more life options.

We prayed and asked God to help me enjoy the many blessings in my life. The devil comes to steal and I must not let him steal my joy. Kitan woke up soon after, which was good because I did not have to disappear while he was asleep but was able to say good bye to him and ask him to be a good boy for his Daddy and Aunty Diane.

I kissed my boys at the door and set off.

p.s. I dressed Kitan up in traditional Nigerian attire (despite his protests of "I don't want it Mummy") for church on Sunday and he looked sooooo cute!

Monday, March 05, 2007

He has come again oh!

See me see trouble with this my manager oh! He has come again! I'd had a busy week training, nothing major, just the usual stuff. Come Friday, my only real free work day and the managers then decide that all of us not training should go for 'train the trainer' training where we as trainers are trained on further topics to then train out to delegates. This is called 'knowledge transfer'.

This is a pain and nobody really likes doing this, certainly not on a Friday. The people developing the training are not trainers neither are they technical, infact they are pretty incompetent and more often than not produce material that don't make logical sense and are ridden with errors. So, anyway, about 8 of us trainers sat through knowledge transfer of the SAP Reporting topic for most of the morning only to find out there was another course with a different person in the afternoon.

It was still a pretty easy going day until I got an email from SN, my manager, at 2:30pm that I would be delivering the SAP Reporting topic to delegates first thing Monday morning. I had to leave the class and go to him. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I don't feel comfortable delivering the SAP Reporting course on Monday.
SN: Why?
ME: Because I've only just seen the course, I've not had a chance to properly look at it and I can't go over it during the weekend because the software is not on my laptop. Can't someone else do it?
SN: Everybody is the same situation Omara. You are the best person to do it because you do the BW courses as well.
Me: The material is not even ready, Lucy still has some changes to make.
SN: Which training material do you know that is in perfect condition?
Me: Okaaaay. Can we move the training to the afternoon so I have the morning to prepare?
SN: No. One of the delegates is off and is coming in specially in the morning for the course.
ME: But the course is not ready to be trained out and neither am I.
SN: [blank stare]

I walk off back to the class to continue with the knowledge transfer. As I sat down I notice it was quarter to 3pm and I usually leave at 3pm. We'd been in training for 2 hours already that afternoon and it did not seem to be ending anytime soon. The trainer then announces that she hopes we can finish by 4pm because she has a meeting. 4pm ke? Not me and you! I send an email to SN to ask if I can leave at 3pm. He takes 15 mins to reply me in which he says "You can go when the knowledge transfer is over".

I fire back an email saying "I'm leaving now. There are 7 other trainers here who would be fully skilled in this course, I will catch up with whatever I miss next week".

I gathered my things and left.

My contract ends at the end of May, I'm counting the days and I'm sure he is too...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Crazy designers...

They must think we are the crazy ones.

Would you rather have the Louis Vuitton 'ghana must go' bag on the left for £850 ($1500) - being paraded at a catwalk show no less or a regular 'ghana must go' bag for £2.50 ($1.00)? Can you even tell the difference?

Where did the Louis Vuitton people see 'ghana must go' bag to copy sef! Na wah!

BluntRemi - our blogger fashionista - can you explain this please?

At risk of flouting copyright laws, here's the catwalk show, also available on the Louis Vuitton website

p.s. Any one who does not know why it is called 'ghana must go' should get in touch.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Baby Overload

I don't know if it's because he's had a nanny change plus my being away after our intense week together in Portugal, but Kitan has become extremely clingy. Uncomfortably so. He's always wanting to be carried and when I'm sat down, he's on me. I can't leave the room he's in and if I'm with him, he won't go with anyone else, not even Daddy.

Tiny bits of this is cute... I feel all loved and wanted but now we've crossed the line and instead I'm feeling suffocated... and guilty for feeling suffocated.

The weekend was spent with friends and family - Saturday was with my pregnant friend who arrived a few weeks ago to have her baby (see post Friend in Deed), she just found out she was going to be having a son. She has 2 other boys. On Sunday, my sister and her family came round for lunch. Kitan was over the moon to have his beloved cousins visiting. He hadn't seen them since we all got back from Portugal.

I also spent the weekend seriously considering what impact another child will on me and the family. You see, I'd had a pregnancy scare. That's the best way to describe it. I'm usually never late, my cycle is the bog-standard 28 days. I not very careful with noting my dates but by last Thursday, I felt I should have had a period already but I did not have a clue when the last one was. Thank God for my blog (see post 12 weeks gone - almost halfway), I was able to calculate that I was 4 days late. Wow! That had never happened before. I sent text to my friend and she suggested I got a pregnancy test (duh!). The last time I bought one of those was Kitan's lifetime + 37 weeks ago - or thereabouts. Anyway, Friday morning, I popped into Sainsbury's on my way to work and picked one up. I did not have the chance to use it until nearer lunchtime but I had to put myself out of my misery. It was negative. I felt Phew! and Drats! - at the same time.

So why was my period late? My friend suggested the stress of the nanny issues (see post Bombshell) etc... sort of held it off. Possible I guess.

Anyway, 2 nights of passionate 'you know what' with hubby over the weekend meant my period arrived in full force on Sunday. So it was official, definitely not pregnant.

Still, it did make me seriously wonder what having another baby - another clingy Kitan - would be like. Mmmmm.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where is everyone???

Bored this evening, I checked out my fav blogs: 'crazy surburbanaijamom', 'trendy funky bluntremi', 'me myself and I' - even my new pal 'Chioma - Proud Naija Wife and Mother' and nobody has updated in ages! How boring. Surely it can't take that long to recover from Valentines?!

I've lost track of what week I'm in right now but I've got my eye firmly on the finish line - end of June. What will happen to this blog?

Tuesday morning after much discussion, delibration and some prayer, we decided to go with Diane (mum of 7) as opposed to Wendy (mum of 14 + bad reference). I took all the various bits of advice I got on board (thanks y'all) but at the end of the day, I could not get away from the fact that some how God had made it possible for us to know about Wendy instead of falling for her outward homely appearance. The other lady arriving at the weekend will be 'passed on' to a friend.

I picked up Diane from the station at 11am and began settling her in at home. Dominique had spoilt me and it was hard to explain about Kitan, his routine, his meals, the house cleaning etc... Kitan ofcourse observed her for the first few hours from behind my legs but slowly and surely he began to get a bit more comfortable with her around. At one point I was going through the family album with her, more to get Kitan close to her because he loves going through the album. At first he was leaning on me, looking at the pictures and calling out the names of people he knew and the next thing he was leaning on her with out realising.

On Wednesday, he went to nursery but I'd decided to stay out of sight so when Diane and my cousin went to pick him up from nursery, Diane fed him when he got home and played with him. From my hiding place upstairs in bed, I did not hear any crying... just laughter and sounds of playing. By the time I came down hours later, he clung to me like 'white on rice' but I knew he would be okay with her. Thank God.

Work as well were surprisingly supportive. I was due to train on Thursday morning, so I sent an email to SN asking to work the afternoon from home (and so get paid) and for him to email me the slides for the courses I'd be training so I could prepare. He was very compliant, again dispatching his minions to send me the files I needed. Infact when I drove in this morning (Thursday), he was very friendly and helpful. Abeg! I'm not fooled jare. Whatever.

The weekend looms and I am at peace as calm descends on my home. Cleaning done, baby taken care off, crisis over.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back To Work and Nannymania

After confirming and re-confirming with Diane that she was happy to start on Tuesday, I left for Leicester on Sunday night.

I had training on Monday so I squeezed myself (all those Portugese catalanas and creme caramel desserts did not help) into a skirt suit and made my way to the office.

I was early so no one was in when I got there but SN, my manager soon arrived. He was falling over himself to be pleasant, saying it was nice to have me back, asking of my holiday etc etc... internally, I could not figure why I was not more receptive when I remembered that it was the first time I'd seen him since his stupid email to me. "Idiot" I thought as I sweetly answered his questions, smiling. He scurried to help me carry the manuals I needed to the training room and dispatched one of his minions to help me sort out the projector and any other stuff I might need. When I relayed my childcare problems, he was sooooo sympathetic and was happy to grant me the Tues and Wed off I requested to return home to settle my new nanny in.

Was this SN I thought? No, it was God. It could only be. Anyway, at this rate, with 6 days off for holiday and another 2 days back in London, plus February is the shortest month, there'll probably be no need to bill them at the end of the month as I'd hardly have done any time at all!

Everybody was really pleasant, even Fran the main boss guy... I thought I had stumbled into a parallel world version of my office but where everyone was nice.

I left after training and headed off home. I had arranged another interview that evening with another potential nanny even though I had sealed the deal with Diane. My eyes were now 'hard', no room for sentiment, if I liked this one better, I'd ask Diane (or rather get my sister to call her pretending to be me) not to bother starting.

I also had another potential arriving on Saturday or Tuesday next week and if I liked her, then I'd get whoever was in the house at the moment to leave. Hee hee hee

I had nannies trooping in from every corner. Tunji ofcourse thought I was crazy and warned "you better know what you are doing".

Anyway, I met up with the second potential, Wendy, and she looked more like you'd expect a nanny to look. When I asked her how many children she had, she said "a lot". Well, a lot to me is the number of children Diane has which is 7, so I said "7?" Wendy said "No, 14" I said "Sorry? Do you mean you have 14 children?" She nodded her head with a weary look on her face like she'd woken up each time and found another addition to her family. "Any twins?" "No" she said. "Wow!"

We got home from the station where I'd picked her up and Kitan ran to me at the door. The first thing Wendy said was "he looks familiar, I've seen this baby before". I was like "Which baby? You can't mean my son. Where?" Then Tunji came out to meet us in the hallway and she said "I know this man from somewhere" - this was getting crazy. I asked her what was the name of the family she was working with before. She had already told me the 'madam' kicked her out when she had a bad flu recently and could not work for a few days. It turns out that husband is Tunji's very good friend and Tunji had gone there recently with Kitan. This is why she recognised them. To cut a long story short, when we called them for a reference on her, they were falling over themselves to list all the issues they'd had with her resulting in them asking her to leave. Yikes!

While Tunji was on the phone with his pal, I had been showing her round the house, explaining the chores, eventually offering her the job and asking her to start the next day, same as Diane. Tunji asked me to tell her we could not take her, but I did not have the heart to as I dropped her off at the station.

So now tomorrow, I have Diane starting at 11am and Wendy starting at 1pm not to mention Jenny arriving within a week to start.

Even with the bad report, I still prefer Wendy, most of the issues against her can be put down to clash of personalities. My sister says go with Wendy as she's been recommended by her own nanny and Diane is a total stranger. My friend Kemi says go with Diane as my being away from home will give Wendy liberty to take licence if she already has the tendency to be lazy and overuse the phone calling her 14 children everyday.

I'm going to wait till the morning and see how I feel.

p.s A new phrase that tripped me as I was reading a blog: "What the hell ever"

Nature strikes back

I've always wondered how people stick on videos in their blogs (see BellaNaija) so this is my attempt at doing same...

I've titled this video "Nature Strikes Back" and if you can bear to watch all 56 seconds of it, you'll see why.

The smaller boy in the blue t-shirt is my baby and this is from our recent holiday to Portugal

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Where do I start...

We left for Portugal on Friday, 8 of us in total, so it was a large party and with 3 children under 5, it was a challenge getting us all on the flight and off on holiday.

It was lovely there, we went to the Algarve and rented 2 self-catering apartments at the Rocha Brava resort, one for each family. They were really really nice. I've never gone self-catering before but because this time we had a much older Kitan, I wanted the flexibility of setting my own meal times and not having to deal with feeding an unwilling toddler in a restaurant every single day. I'm not sure I be going half-board in a hurry.

The weather was super! I'd left England with snow on the roof tops and Portugal was definitely t-shirt and shorts weather. The evenings got chillier but still only needed a pashmina to wrap over my top.

We'd also rented 2 cars for getting about and discovering the area.

We got there Friday evening, so all we did was unpack and sort out some food. The next day was a very hot day, the hottest day predicted for the time we were there, so we went off to the beach and spent most of the day there. The next day we ventured further afield to Portimao, the children and the husbands went to Zoomarine, a 'Seaworld-type' place, while us ladies went to the discount shopping mall nearby.

I did mention to Tunji that it was so bad of us not to have called home yet and by our 3rd day, we still had not phoned home.

On Tuesday evening, we finally called and I spoke with my cousin. She said everything was fine. I had given both her and Dominique a long spring-cleaning list of chores to do while we were away. Just before I rounded up the call (it was costing 55p a minute) she said "Aunty, I think Dominique is looking for another job" - I was like - "What?!!!" My cousin said she had overheard her on the phone and just wanted to let me know.

When I got off the phone, I told Tunji. I wanted to call Dominque immediately, but he said to leave it till we got back and then discussed it with her. I said "Okay" but was uneasy.

We spent the rest of our time in Portugal visiting little villages and day dreaming about buying a rundown house to do up and use as a holiday bolthole. Property prices were as low as 10,000 Euros - barely £7000! We went to Lagos - we thought it'll be cool to visit our sister 'home town' and see what the differences were with the real Naija Lagos. There was a tourist attraction of a building where slaves were brought to from Africa, stored and auctioned off. We could'nt go in as it was a private art gallery now, but I could not help thinking that did those slaves ever ever ever believe that sometime in the future 'black people like them' will be at this same spot, holidaying and generally living a 'free life'? It really is amazing how temporary any situation can be, even the Slave trade era. When I was little, after being picked up from school by my Dad, he used to entertain us in the car by singing "No condition is permanent in this world..."

How true... as I soon found out on Thursday! We were visiting Silves, another little town, not a lot to see but very picturesque and peaceful when I noticed a couple of texts on my mobile. They were from Dominique telling me that she'd left. Gone! Packed out with no forwarding address, no explanation and no sign that this was in the offing.

Can you imagine that! I was angry, hurt, betrayed, confused..... aaargh! I wanted to scream. I looked at Kitan playing by the fountain and thought "Oh my God, what am I going to do". How could she be so cruel, so callous, so fake, so... words fail me. How could she do this? I was due back at work on Monday! Kitan only goes to nursery 2 days a week. What do I do? Was God sending me a sign? Would I have to quit Leicester. I was in turmoil. Not so much losing her - that was hurtful enough - but more the confusion and disturuption that was now unfolding.

I then remembered how she came to me. When I interviewed her, she told me how wicked the family she was working for were and how they would never let her leave, she said they never paid her. I told her to write them a letter explaining and then sneak out. I would meet her at the end of the road and pick her up. That was how she left them and she'd done it to me too. How ironic! I never expected it but then again, I guess I did.

We left Silves immediately. Kitan was staring into my face as if to say "What is wrong Mummy?" He really loved Dominique, how was he going to cope? I had to make a superhuman effort to be cheerful for his sake but Tunji knew I was very very upset.

After we put Kitan to bed, we went over our options - Get my Mum over? Tunji said "No". Put him in full time nursery? I said "No". Quit my job in Leicester? We both said "No" - Can you imagine saying I have to quit due to childcare issues? How bad is that for us Mums out there? What will that do to the next Mum they interview or even the general perceptions of Mums?

So what do we do?

Many of my friends use me as an un official nanny agent and a friend had recently asked me to help her out. I'd asked another friend Emma who then sent me the number of a lady she knew was available. I just passed the number on but for some reason never deleted it from my phone. I searched for the text and called the lady, Diane. She was still available for work. It seems my friend never followed up my lead. I asked her to come and meet us at home on Saturday for an interview.

I felt a bit better having at least made a little headway into resolving the situation. But still I worried. What if she did not come? What if we did not like her? What if she did not like us? Would my desperation show?

This bombshell messed up the last 2 days of my holiday. On our last full day, Thursday, we went back to the mall shopping again, then on to Alvor, another small fishing village which on closer inspection seemed to have been invaded by the Irish. There were at least 20 Irish bars in the village center alone, not to mention other dotted about. We'd planned a BBQ on the last night. It was really nice, I was finally becoming able to ignore the ensuing 'wahala' at home and concentrate on enjoying and relaxing this last night in Portugal.


Back in London

We arrived safely at Gatwick airport thank God after a much better flight than we had going out. This time we had the good sense to sit the children separately, they slept and it turned out to be a pleasant journey home.

On driving home, I thought maybe this whole Dominique leaving thing was an early April-fool joke. Tunji thought that would be a very expensive joke if it was. Alas! It was not a joke. We arrived to a spotlessly clean house but no Dominique. Her room was stripped bare of all her things. I interrogated my cousin, getting angrier and angrier as I did so. In the end she was in tears and I was fuming. Tunji had to step in, asking us to calm down. What's done is done.

I called Diane, the potential replacement and she confirmed that she will be in my house tomorrow (Saturday) at 10am.

9:30am on Saturday, my phone rings, it's Diane. She's at my local train station waiting to be picked up as agreed. Tunji went to pick her.

When I came down to meet her, she was this tall, fair skinned woman. She was wearing tight jeans, high boots with her hair in shaggy blonde streaked style. "Oh my God" I thought to myself inside. A total opposite to demure butter-won't-melt-in-her-mouth Dominique. Still we pressed on with the interview. Kitan had not seemed to miss Dominique so far but did not take full heartedly to this new woman. She's 41 in May she told us. She has 7 children that she raised her self back home in Trinidad.

The interview seemed to go well, she was happy with her responsibilities and I'd stressed that we were having a trial period of 4 months - until my contract in Leicester was over, after which we can review the situation and choose whether or not to continue. My sister's nanny Viola is also from Trinidad, so I called her and she chatted with Diane, then told me later on the phone that she seemed okay.

Anyway, I was desperate and she seemed fine. My cousin would be around to oversee whenever she was not in school and it was only for 4 months at the worst.

We offered her the job and she accepted to start on Tuesday Feb. 20th.

By God's grace, getting a replacement was arranged within a week of Dominique leaving. Diane has not started yet and I don't know how it will work out but still, I thank God. We are fasting this month and know that God has removed anyone from our lives who is not supposed to be there. He is purging us all the time and we have to be willing to let go of things that have outstayed their usefulness for fear of them becoming harmful. He has minimised the disruption to nil and I can only continue to trust Him going forward.

France, Italy, Spain - here we come!

Omara's Weight loss progress (started diet 17th March 2007)