Only Enough For The Day (Five thousand vs Five)

“The LORD said to Moses, “………Each day the people can go out and gather only enough for that day……,.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭16:4‬ ‭CEVUK‬‬
https://www.bible.com/294/exo.16.4.cevuk

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the word TRUST and what it truly means. I reread the book of Exodus and a verse particularly struck me. God had delivered the Israelites from Egypt. They had seen Him plague the Egyptian while He passed over them. They witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and they were on their way to the promised land. Then they ran out of food and cried out against God. His response in Exodus 16:4 is what caught my attention.

God promises to provide food for his people, and He adds a caveat “……gather only enough for that day….”. His reason? Perhaps he wanted to know if they would follow his instructions? If they would trust him enough to fight the not so quiet whispers of fear that screams out “hoard!!”. I imagine myself as one of the Israelites – fighting that urge to control the outcomes and instead trusting that as miraculously as He provided today, he would do the same tomorrow. Hmmmm even in my imaginary world, I struggle.

As a mom I feel like I understand what God was trying to do here. I identify with the feeling of hoping your child would trust you enough to do what you say without the follow up questions “… and then what?” “When?” “Why?” “For how long?”. And I am one to talk…. I sometimes skip entire seasons of my favourite shows so I can binge watch them all at once to avoid having to wait to find out what happens next. I want the option to control my choice to enjoy a weekly dose of a well written plot vs skipping to the end already. I can almost see the grin on my 9-year old’s face as he reads this.

It’s so easy for my mind to feel that the issues of my adult life as so vastly different from daily battles with a 9 year old. That a dining table battle of wits over ‘food before desert’ is vastly different from my daily struggle to find some quiet time in the midst of the unending busy that marks my days. And maybe I’m right. Maybe a slice of tuxedo cake is not adequate comparison to mortgages and widening credit spreads. Maybe in the scale of things, choosing between ice-cream and pie is incomparable to how I would assess my next career move, college application, or town to live in. Though different, in this one thing I find these choices to be the same – if we both focus on just what is in front of us, we find the clarity to hear God’s voice and the fear of what’s next becomes only a whisper.

Gather only enough for one day, He said.
I was never built to have it all figured out
To juggle the balls of the present, future and past
I was built to depend and each day to trust
That the God who provided, would again do what He does
In my hand are 5 loaves, that’s all it can take
Not the hungry five thousand, for that is His stake
And though they are hungry, waiting to be fed
My call is to simply break out the bread
Not worrying or fretting or anxious with fright
He’ll do what He promised, just not by my might
I’m not called to feed five thousand
I’m called to break bread
I’m not called to have it together
I’m called to daily depend

Oh for grace to trust you “only enough for this day”…. Amen!

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Treasures in Clay Jars

“We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that this immeasurable power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. We continually share in the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-10‬ ‭TPT‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/1849/2co.4.7-10.TPT

The struggle is real! As a child, i just wanted to make my parents and teachers proud. I wanted to be known and celebrated for something, anything, as long as it was positive. So I tried to run faster, study harder, be as obedient as possible (though if my mum’s spanking was a measure of my success with obedience I guess I didn’t fare so well in this area thanks for my ever fast retorts) 🤣🤣🤣.

Soon enough it becomes culture. The race to the best. More lessons to earn the extra 10%, more practice to master the skills. What a joy when I make the top scores. I don’t have to be first. It doesn’t have to be gold. Silver or bronze are quite acceptable, thank you. But clay? Never!! Not even in my worse nightmare. Like seriously, not up for consideration. I can certainly do way better than that. And so life becomes like an an Instagram page. 100s of selfies taken to capture that one perfect shot, or at least passable shot. The right angle that complements my facial structure, where my smile is just right, enough teeth to be a full smile but not too much to show my “rabbit” dentition.

With each orbit around the sun though, Solomon’s words ring true in my mind- vanity of all vanities, all is vanity. A continual chase for perfect is quite an empty pursuit in itself, and tiring too if I may add. So I pause and ponder. I think about the stories that have impacted my life the most. My favourite character in the Bible- David. My favourite book- The Psalms. What is it about them that speaks to my spirit. The joyful exuberance with which David praised such that his loin cloth almost fell off. He wasn’t moved by his status or his stature. He was moved that he had brought the Ark of God home where it belonged. He didn’t even dance like this when he killed the giant- his all-time golden trophy. That made his IG page too. A pinned post for sure. And as I scrolled through I saw. This same King would let lust lead him to murder and before the story ends be so heartbroken that he would cry out in repentance. The page on Psalms resonates deep praise and even deeper anguish, both lined with an echo that stays true at all times – grace. He dared to question God sometimes. Yell out in his anguish and be human. The chapters tell the story of victories won. They also speak of times of doubt and uncertainties. The “not so perfect” smile made perfect in its humanness.

Another story – the carpenter’s son who knew He had a choice. He could speak and angels would take him home yet at the garden He prayed, “not my will but yours be done”. It wasn’t a brave prayer. At least I don’t think so from the way the story was told. I recall reading about tears, tears so thick they dropped like blood from His brows. Could it be that he was unsure? Uncertain? Hesitant for a moment? Why did this picture make the Creators page as well? What happened to “picture-perfect selfies”only? Did the memo not get delivered? Those are not tears of joy….. I read it, it said anguish.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭KJV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/1/2co.4.7.KJV

A treasure in earthen vessels. On the canvas of our ordinary lives, He weaves a beautiful story of love, grace and mercy. The picture is perfect not because of the vessel but because of what it carries. And Clay is not transparent. This treasure shines through the “broken” pieces. “….the resurrection life of Jesus revealed through our humanity”. That is the story our lives tell. One of grace so free, of peace beyond understanding, pressured but not crushed, confused but not giving up, persecuted but not abandoned. Like David, I’ll praise with reckless abandon, I’ll groan from deep within. I’ll tell of His goodness at all times because I know that “every detail of my life of love for God is worked into something good” even when it doesn’t look picture perfect to me.

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Signposts That Point To Jesus

We want to leave a clear set of footprints, for those who would follow behind

Signposts in our lives that point to Jesus, a pathway they’ll easily find

We want to fill up the sufferings of Jesus

And as we obey, our lives display, the glorious way of the cross

-Tom Inglis

News of death usually triggers me to think about life. And lately I have heard more news of death than I would have liked. I often wonder if it’s the pandemic or if I have just reached that age where people I know start dying.

I do not know which it is, but it doesn’t really matter. Loss is loss and grief is grief, irrespective of how it happens. But my thoughts have not been about grief and loss. It has been about life and how we live it. When I think of all the people I know who have died, the one thing that strikes me, the things I remember about them the most is how they lived, what they did, said, what amused them, how I felt around them, the memories we shared, what they imparted into my life.

My thoughts are not usually on what they didn’t do. Regret it seems, is a luxury for the living, a pre-occupation for those who have time. so everything I am reminded of how finite our time on earth is, I think about the story my life is telling. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day, bills to pay, errands to run. The ordinary moments that make the fabric of our lives, the repeated pattens that weave the elaborate designs of our lives. I find myself getting caught up in the transaction of it- the list of things that need to be done, in a certain way, by a certain time, and sometimes I give no thought to the footprints, or the signposts they point to.

So death makes me think a lot about life. And how it should be lived. I would love to see my children’s children and a generation or two more. But more than that I think of the stories my life would tell. I hope that at a time of darkness or pain, there would be a recollection of tears I cried and the comfort I found in the place of prayer and within a community of family and friends. I hope that in moments of joy and celebration, echoes of my over-the-top gusto for living, my exuberant dancing and singing would bring a smile. I hope there are stories of questions I yelled at God and responses I received, some so quiet I could only hear when stilled the noises and listened. I hope my life tells a story of grace, not perfection or glory, but grace, God’s grace.

This song, written by Tom Inglis, is one I pray quite often. The destination we are called to is heaven. That’s our home. God could have “zapped” us there right after we are born if that was the ultimate plan. I dare to think that He is as invested in the journey as He is in the destination. For the time I have, I pray the ordinary details of my life leaves a clear set of footprints for others to find. Amen.

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We are loved

2020 was a year where the clearly defined lines between work and family became blurred for me. School work check-ins with kids located in separate workspaces around the house replaced elevator rides between meetings. Neighbourhood walks to discover 3-dimensional shapes and pond flora and fauna replaced my fond window shopping along the PATH underground Toronto.

I teasingly say we started out as the Addams family in March and slowly, yet beautifully discovered that we are the best tribe of crazies we could ever wish for! At times during the transition i questioned so many things I knew to be true about myself and my family. The truth didn’t change but when I focused on the dancing rather than the music, I sometimes missed the beat. And when out of rhythm, I thought the music was off, but it was always intended to lead the dancing.

In the spirit of what has been an unusual year, we spent an unusual Christmas with just ourselves (we love large family and friends gatherings). We even dared to take our first (unusual) family Christmas photo. And we spent time reflecting on what this season means to us.

In this season, I am reminded of the “crazy” plan for redemption God orchestrated that day in a manger in Bethlehem. I am awed by the depth of love that took the form of a baby for a people who didn’t even recognize him. I am amazed that He loved us, mess and all. And that is the simple gospel – the Manger and the cross. He loved us enough to send His only son to be one of us and lead us back to him. Such an awesome God, such amazing grace, such deep love. His love is the music to which our life beats.

Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas and God’s great joy now and always.

So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. – Romans 8:38 TPT

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On Authenticity and Adaptation

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I grew up in an environment where a child was expected to obey, without questions, directives from their parents. As a child I did obey… the alternatives was not a viable option for me. Not when my mama was a teacher and could think up many ways to make you comply without necessarily raising her hands or voice.

I recall a particular evening in my teens. My mum had just come home and asked for some rice to eat. I obviously let my annoyance at being bothered show on my face and she simply told me she had changed her mind and wanted to eat beans porridge instead. Beans in the evening!?That was unusual as she was prone to indigestion and avoided certain meals after 6pm. Plus it takes thrice the time to cook beans than rice and she said she was hungry. To avoid being punished further, I obediently went to the kitchen and prepared a delicious pot of beans. Being careful not to let the pots or lids clang lest she interprets that as an act of defiance. 90 minutes later, I humbly walked into the living room to tell my mum that her dinner was ready and the response I got was “It’s too late to eat beans, I’ll have indigestion Let me just have bread and tea”.

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How I wished she had just smacked me or something for my naughtiness instead of making me spend 90 minutes in the kitchen! Anyway, the lesson was well learnt. I never made that mistake again. It’s “always a pleasure” to serve my mama especially after she had spent the whole day serving my siblings and I.

Now that’s the world I grew up in and had come to understand and love. I turned out pretty ok too. Great actually if I could say so myself!! But times have changed. And so have I. I no longer live in the same world/ culture I grew up in. What worked for my mum back then may give me a fragment of the success she experienced. So I have a choice – hold on to the “good old days” or trusting my innate ability to transform, craft a new path.

So sometimes, I struggle to learn the new way of doing things….. different from that ingrained in my subconscious. Translate that to the work place and everyday life in general, I find myself questioning my approach as I seek to remain authentic, inclusive as well as promote a growth mindset in every situation. I frequently catch me questioning my ‘DNA’ responses to situations and asking myself “how can I better couch this sentence to portray my intent and goal”?

I am getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling of encouraging my kids to question me and perhaps even challenge my directives. I recall having a conversation with my 13 year old where I literally said ” I need you to question why I am asking you to do …(whatever it was at that time)”. You see, having spent his first 10 years back in Nigeria, like me, he also is more familiar with the culture of accepting directives from those in leadership or older than him. Not so my 10 and 7 year olds, with whom I have to remind myself to pause, breathe and say to myself “it’s ok for them to question”.

These 3 quotes keep me grounded and I’ll share them with you. The first has been my compass for as long as I can remember and the other two I added more recently.

1. “To thyself be true” – Shakespeare. These words from Shakespeare shape me journey in authenticity and adaptation. We each have our story, as unique and personal as the fit of our favourite pair of shoes. As such, there is no better mirror for an authentic me than me.

2. “I am not a figment of my imagination” – Cheryl Tjok-A-Tam. Authenticity requires that you see yourself as a whole person. Not in fragments or bits but whole, head to feet. And seeing yourself, accept that you are complete, enough, whole! This quote is especially dear to me. Being a first generation immigrant, I sometimes feel a part of me is missing. The community that knows my “giant slaying stories”, who understand the half smile that speaks to a shared history and gets my mum’s beans and rice story without thinking “child abuse”. So sometimes I feel homesick and lost and begin to forget who I am. But I AM NOT a figment of my imagination! I AM …… whoever/whatever I choose to be

3. “I am MORE than the sum of my experiences” – B.J. Neblett. Now this is a modification from the actual quote. I personally believe that I am MORE than the sum of my experiences. Because I am able to take what I go through – every beautiful, ugly, painful, joyful, exhilarating, disgusting bit of it – and make it into something absolutely phenomenal, beyond any frame of reference, all me. I have a choice on the person I am becoming.

I believe authenticity is a journey hence the correlation with adaptation. Each day I get to decide the magic that is ME!

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Random Acts of Kindness

A Short Story

“Just a couple more blocks to go guys. We are almost there.” Yemi said, trying her best to sound positive and upbeat against the winter cold. Her arms ached from the weight of the groceries bags she had been carrying and from dragging Ola, her 5-year-old son along as he leaned on her for support.

She was tired but she couldn’t show it. She was also cold and hungry. Random thoughts went through her mind….. should I have waited? should I have left the kids alone at home? But she really had no choice. They had run out of groceries and much as she would have loved to take up her neighbor’s offer of a free ride at the weekend, she really had to get some things that evening.

“Mum, I think my toes are freezing” said Anita, her 9-year-old daughter. “Can we just stop and wait for the bus”?

“The bus isn’t coming until 20 mins and by then we’ll already be home” she replied. “Just keeping moving honey, I’ll make you some hot chocolates as soon as we get home”

“OK…. but will I get frostbite?”

“Not at all love. You have your padded socks and snow boots on. You’ll be fine as soon as we get in from this snow storm”

She knew she should have checked the weather forecast before she left home. That was one of the many new things she had to get used to. Certainly one of the many things you are not prepared for when relocating. Back home, dashing out to get groceries was not a big deal, but here she was learning that every outing has to be planned, especially with the kids…… especially in winter….

“God, please help us get home safely in one piece”, she prayed silently. “Let the kids be fine. Let us all be fine….

The sound of a car pulling up in front of her broke her train of thoughts. She stepped to the side of the road, pulling her Ola along, to avoid brushing the sides of the car.

“Good afternoon Miss” she heard a young boy’s voice call out. She kept walking. He couldn’t be calling her, could he? she didn’t recognize the car or the boy.

“Mummy, I think that boy is calling you” Jumoke, her  7-year old daughter called out to her. She stopped and looked back. He was actually running after her.

“Hi, Good afternoon” she replied him. He looked like a young teenager but she was sure she hadn’t seen him before

“My dad wants to give you and your kids a ride home” the boy said

“what?” she replied, stunned

“Hi there, Good afternoon. My name is Joey. I’ll like to give you and your kids a ride home if you don’t mind. Do you stay around here?”

She looked up and realized that his dad had stepped out of the car and come over to her side of the road. His wasn’t a face she recognized. Why was he stopping to help her? Was it safe to accept his help?

“I saw you and your kids walking in the cold and I can see that you’ve all got a lot to carry. We live at the next block” he said, showing her his driver’s license. “If you don’t mind, I can give you a lift so you can get home and out of the cold.”

“mummy please, can we go? I’m freezing….” cried Ola.

She looked down at him and tears filled her eyes. She knew she probably should not get into the car but she doubted that her kids could make it through the remaining 5 blocks with all the groceries bags in the blistering cold. She said a quick prayer for safety and turned to the man

“Thank you so much sir. We stay 5 blocks away on Thomas street”

“That’s fine. I’ll drop you off” Jack replied.

He opened the back of the car so they could drop off their groceries bags. She turned to get into the back seat with her kids and he stopped her.

“You can seat in front” he said

“But what about your son?” She replied. “Let him stay in front while I seat at the back with my kids”

“Zak is a big boy. He’ll jog home from here. Don’t worry about that” Jack replied

She was overwhelmed!!! He waved goodbye to his son and drove off. He chatted all the way to their house, like they were friends. He made the kids feel at home and by the time they got to their house, the kids were laughing and in high spirits. He helped her carry her groceries to the front door and as he turned to leave, he said

“I don’t do this always but when I saw your family leaving the store, I knew I should help. My family and I moved here 15 years ago and I know how hard it can be to settle into a new country with young kids. I am glad I could help make today a little less stressful for you”

Jack drove away, leaving Yemi standing, her eyes filled with tears and her heart with thanks.

In a world filled with so much negativity and distrust………”Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people”¹.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

  1. https://www.pinterest.com/explore/act-of-kindness-quotes/
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From Acorns to Oak Trees

I am a ‘to-do’ list kind of person. I like checklists and clearly articulated goals. It helps me stay focused  as I tend to ‘over-trade’ with my time. I have always set out New Year targets (not necessarily resolutions) each year and after marriage, have done same with my husband for some years now. This way, we approach the New year with the same focus of things we want to accomplish, making for less uncertainty as to where our resources should be channeled.

This year I read an article written by one of my bosses and friend on managing one’s life like you manage your career. It struck a chord in me and I decided to try something new…..I got the kids to also write out their targets for 2017. I figured it’s never too early to teach them the value of time as a resource and get them to start paying attention to how they spend theirs. My 10 and 7 year olds were usually asked to set their learning targets in their old school for each term so I figured that the subject of goal setting was already familiar to them. We agreed that they would set targets in 3 areas for 2017 – Family, Social and health.

It turns out that the goals they were setting in school then were more or less dictated by the teacher and the children just wrote it out on the sheet as dictated. After taking time to explain what goals  were (things that are important for you to achieve) and why we needed them (so you can measure how much you have done/accomplished), the kids went on to produce their 2017 goals. For first time goal setters, I think they did amazing (overlooking the wrong spellings and mixed-up sentences 🙂 we sure did get some English work done in the process 🙂 ). Here’s a summary of what they put down:

  1.  Get along better with their siblings
  2. Practice being calm and focused
  3. Take up more chore responsibility at home
  4. Improve in academic performance by reading ahead
  5. Be more attentive and obedient to their parents
  6. Eat healthy meals and (for the 7-year-old) add weight!!
  7. Earn more money to help animals in Earth Rangers
  8. Learn and master a new sport

When do we start preparing our children for adulthood? Do we start from the minute they are born? whatever age they are and with what they understand? Do we give them full responsibility for things, no matter how small? More than depending on us to guide and teach them, I believe it is paramount that we bring up our children to make their own choices for the right things and the right reasons. It might seem much easier and less stressful to dictate to and micro manage them. However, we will not always be there and we need to know that they will be true to themselves and not succumb to pressure, whether from us or from their peers. Whilst we provide the foundation for their life, we need to be confident enough to allow them define the music to which they will to dance.

So this year,

I am focused on empowerment…. allowing my children make the right choices, for themselves.

I am focused on convincing, more than compelling, them to make the right choices.

I am focused on nurturing, patiently answering the millionth question.

I am focused on affirmation, seeking out the good more than readily punishing the bad.

I am focused on the war to produce a butterfly rather than the larvae’s battles with the cocoon

I do not expect that it will come easy, I actually do expect to struggle with my helicoptering ways but I commit to giving it my best shot and most importantly having fun all the way!!!!

 

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The ‘Extra’ Ordinariness of Ordinary Things

Parenting is an awesome and challenging experience. I doubt anyone, including the experts, have it all figured out. However, the joys are in the experience, the learning that takes place everyday, as you learn about your child, yourself and inevitably have your life turned upside down until it is right side up again. As parents, we worry about so many things. Some of them really matter to us eg their health and wellbeing. Others we simply inherit from the pressures of society. We watch and track milestones as though the quality of our lives and that of our kids depend on it. And in this state, we sometimes miss out on the beauty of life all around us.

My eldest son and I had a conversation a while ago about his gym track record. I had been to their school and had seen the name of the fastest runner in his class and was talking with him about his own pace as I know he really likes to run. His response was pretty amazing and completely changed my focus for good and just in time for the New year

He:  mom, I am not the fastest runner YET.”

Me: Sure. I saw it on the board. XYZ is the fastest runner

He: No you are not getting my point. I said I am not the fastest runner yet

Me: (Obviously confused) I heard that. and I know. That’s exactly what I am saying

He: No mum, you do not understand the Power of YET. I am not the fastest runner YET but I am training and will keep beating my record until I am the best runner I can be

Now I was humbled. My 10 year just explained the Growth Mindset thinking with such amazing perspective that I could not have done it better myself. And since then I’ve been thinking of the many times we err (I err) by making milestones millstones for our children. We place ourselves and our children under the pressure of a checklist provided by society and take for granted the ordinary things that fill our days while we pursue the extraordinary.

As the year comes to an end, I reflect on my journey so far and give thanks for the many “extra” ordinary things in my life. The simple things I have hitherto taken for granted eg

…. a baby’s ability to babble and coo, cos that means she’s ok and probably would not have a speech delay”

….. a baby’s ability to pick up a cup when hungry or thirty ….cos it means they have good motor skills and the brain and other body organs communicate just fine”

……Scribbles on my precious book that make quite a mess…. cos it means that I wont have to teach my child how to hold a pencil or a spoon or other fine motor skills”

I would have never thought that a child could be scared of the sound of his own fart, or find the sensation of passing out poop strange and startling. But having a son who had to struggle through and overcome some of these challenges has made me realize that a baby who smiles while pooping all over you deserves a responding smile and perhaps a kiss from a parent who knows that they have been blessed with the most precious gift of all. Just the other day, he showed us a neat trick he had mastered on how to get his jacket on by himself. He lies his jacket face up on the floor with the collar/ hoodie just against his feet. He slips his hands right into the sleeves and flips it perfectly over his head and viola… jacket is all worn!! You should have heard the shouts of victory erupting from his elder brothers and I as  I scooped him up, celebrating this victory. We had reached the summit of one of our many Mount Everests!! I would never have thought that seeing a jacket being worn would have brought me so much happiness and joy. It certainly would not have made my “Blessings List” a while ago. But now I am more mindful of the extra-ordinariness of ordinary things. I am more mindful of not making milestones millstones and conscious to celebrate every little victory and not take anything for granted. We will take a minute to savour our ordinary victory and then we will move on to conquer more lands 🙂

As the year draws to a close, I can think of a thousand things I had wanted to achieve this year but didn’t. And then again, there are a million others I took for granted that happened anyway, without any effort from me. I choose to embrace the stark colours of winter as I remember the amazing brilliance of Autumn understanding that each season adds its colour to make the landscape of my life that much more ‘extra’ ordinary. I am grateful for my ordinary life and look forward to many more ‘extra’ ordinary days!!!! What are you grateful for in 2016?

 

 

 

 

 

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If You Fail To Plan…. A big case for goal setting

One thing I did learn in MBA is the importance of performance management .  As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets done. Goals provide a basis against which performance can be measured. Good goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable , Realistic and Time based. Goals help you stay focused and should be directed towards a specific objective.

I figured that my inability to prioritize my objectives was more responsible for my overwhelming feeling of frustration, much more than the LPs defiance to my morning expectations. Now was the time to prune the expectation tree. Pick one top objective and set goals to achieve it, then move on to the next. I decided to start with the seemingly easiest and most pressing… getting to school at 8.40am consistently every morning!! With that decided, I scheduled a goal setting meeting with my stakeholders 😊. At the end of the session, the rules were simple:

  1. we have to leave home at 8.25am latest every morning
  2. backpacks must be packed, breakfast eaten and all clothing worn without prompting from mum
  3. a 60% success record was needed to earn the right to either play with any chosen device over the weekend or attend the Maker Club at the community centre
  4. each LP is fully responsible for his performance. Mum is responsible for:
    1. sounding the first wake up call at 6.50, second at 7.00 and final at 7.20. LPs (except LP4 ) are responsible for choosing what to do after the wake up calls have been sounded
    2. ensuring breakfast is ready and served and lunch packs set out by 7.45am. All LPs are responsible for ensuring they feed and pack their meals as applicable.

Pretty straight forward and easy ain’t it? Even I had a huge feeling of relief rising from that meeting. We all seemed to be on the same page…….or were we?

WEEK ONE, DAY 1

First wakeup call went out at 6.50am, no response from the troops. Second wake up call went out at 7am and still not even a stirring. I carried LP4 and started getting him ready for the day, mentally reminding myself to breath, let the yeast rise, give them time, don’t yell or go back to your helicoptering ways. I made it through bath and dress up time with LP 4 before LP10 decided to join the fun when the final wakeup call went off at 7.20. 5 minutes later and I heard his conversation with LP7

LP10: Arent you going to wake up? mummy’s team is almost ready for school

LP7: Are you serious? why didn’t she shout on me? ahhh so she wants me to lose!!

LP10: Stay there and be waiting for her to shout o!! I’m going to eat my food after I dress up

Yes!! I was glad I had kept it together. I was already feeling like a dynamite about to explode and honestly was on the verge of walking into the room and waking him up with any shock therapy I could think of (I mean, that’s how it was done in my days right?!!). At 8.10 he was still nowhere to be seen and I announced that i would be  leaving the house in 10 minutes. I went in to freshen up and change and came out to meet LP7 with a mouth stuffed with so much oatmeal that he couldn’t get an audible word out. He was struggling to put on his boots and pack up his backpack without falling over.

mum: Big guy, where’s your brother food?

LP10: In his tummy. Can’t you see how full his mouth is?

Mum: I don’t understand, are you saying he’s eaten all his food? (on a good day, he takes a minimum of 30 minutes to get done with breakfast)

LP10: yes he has! You are surprised, right? I even had to check the dustbin to make sure he hadn’t thrown it away. He ate it all. I guess he really wants to play minecraft this weekend

Mum: (with a wide smile) ok team, time’s up, let’s hit the road

That was day 1. We got to school at 8.38am ….the earliest ever!! I was elated. could this really ahve happeend without me micromanaging and raising my voice?

I came back in the afternoon to pick them from school, still in the euphoria of my early morning success. Bouncing towards me was LP7, with his outdoor jacket open (the temperature had risen to about 18 degrees from 7 degree recorded in the morning). I noticed something was missing from the picture before me so i asked

Mum: my angel, where’s your shirt? did you leave it at gym class

LP7: Hmmmm mummy

Mum: what’s hmmm mummy? where’s your shirt? please go back to your class and get it

LP7: It’s not in my class

Mum: what do you mean “it’s not in your class”? Did you lose it  or leave it in the field? Talk to me!

LP7: hmmmm…….mum, my shirt is at home

Mum: What do you mean “my shirt is at home”?

LP7: I mean i didn’t wear a shirt to school today. I just wore my jacket on my thermal wear and I only realised it when I got to school and wanted to take off my jacket

Mum: (in utter shock and surprise) you mean you sat all through school in your underwear?

LP7: No mum, I had to wear my jacket all day and don’t worry, you dont have to shout because I’ve learnt my lesson. I was so hot that I will never forget to dress properly again

…..and so ended our first post-goal setting day. I could only wonder what the next few days would hold.

NB: Checklist on the door was updated to include “make sure you are wearing a shirt and trouser underneath the jacket!!! 🙂

 

 

 

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Care for a freshly Baked Loaf?

In my opinion, a freshly baked loaf of bread is one of life’s simple pleasures….. It just makes your day better, no matter how horrid it had been. Take a break, seat back, breath in the savory aroma of a fresh loaf and enjoy its sumptuous taste while sipping a cup of whatever hot brew you prefer! That for me is a high point to my day.

I had never considered cooking (or baking) to be one of my hobbies. I am a passably good cook who has never really had any baking experience until recently. I stumbled into bread making and it has now become part of my bi-weekly routine. No matter how tired I am, the anticipated aroma of rising yeast in the oven inspires my arms to knead and my fingers to fold in. I’ve ventured into pies and cupcakes, bakes and grills, but my love for bread far surpasses them all. Yesterday I baked my 10th batch of bread (actual image captured in the picture, no photo-shopping, I am pretty pleased with my amateur efforts) and I sat back to reflect on the experience so far.

From my first woeful attempt to my now almost perfect recipe for sandwich bread, I’ve come to see that raising a Little Person is almost like baking a perfect loaf. I say “almost” because you don’t get to eat the child at the end of the process 🙂 . There is an art to bread making, rules that revolve around handling yeast that can make or mar your dough. It’s not just about having a high-tech mixer or top brand products… you MUST know how to work your yeast!!! Or else you end up with a lump of dough that you can either toast to make crouton or dump in the thrash (or if you are like me, eat it and tell yourself it’s not so bad). Consider my parallels with me…

  1. Proof your yeast. This means testing that your yeast is active and will actually rise before adding it to your bread. Yeast thrives better in a warm environment. If the water is too cold or too hot then you’d have yeast refusing to release the required carbon dioxide or taking too long to do so. All that is required of you is to sprinkle the yeast on the right temperature of water and let it be for 10 minutes. Then you’d have proofed it. The same applies to LPs. When LPs are too warm they don’t always see the need to “expel the carbon dioxide”. When they are too cold… I remember my mama’s saying about a child’s inability to learn with a broken heart. You just need to moderate the temperature to give them just the right amount of love to nudge them towards achieving their full potentials. Sometimes we need to take the time to test our love temperature to make sure its in tune with the ‘weather’.
  2. Knead your dough to strengthen the gluten strands. There is something like over-kneaded dough (and under kneaded dough too). Both wont rise!!! All the recipes I checked recommended manual kneading. Do it the old-fashioned way and you would hardly go wrong. Sometimes too many aunties helping out and a helicopter mum constantly picking up after them can be likened to high-tech gadget. No guidance at all is also far worse. Sometimes we need to “cut down on” or up the kneading.
  3. Read the comments in the recipe. Sometimes they give you more insight into how to do it better than the recipe itself. Reading those comments sure helped me realize some mistakes and correct them. In the same way,  LPs understand each other better than we their parents sometimes. Have you ever watched 2 babies babble to each other and wondered if they understand themselves. I believe they do!! In their tiny little world, they make sense. We need to listen to the Little People more. And trust me, what they say can crack you or rile you up, but if you listen closely, there is always something to be learned.
  4. Allow the dough to rise. initially my bread crust would be so dry irrespective of how much I tweaked the recipe. Then I stumbled on one that recommended putting the bread into a cold oven so it continues to rise as the oven heats up to the recommended temperature. Then spread butter over it while it cools down right from the over, covered with a tea towel. That did the trick for me. Bye-bye dry bread crust, hello juicy chewy bread :). You have got to allow the LPs rise to the occasion. Sometimes too much guidance….. stand here, seat still, be quiet, run, don’t run, hold my hand… stifles their own initiative and ability to do what they know to do. yeah, this goes to me and fellow helicopter mum. Back off!! Let them rise.

Bread is never savored in a hurry. You need to take the time to seat back and bite in to enjoy it. Another bread lover also said that you need to close your eyes and capture the taste at the back of your tongue. The same applies to Little People. You need time to enjoy them and watch them blossom. There are no quick fixes, no short cuts, not if you want the real deal. You have to take the time to tend to the garden of lives you have been entrusted with.

Did my bread musings resolve my morning madness or did it just leave me with homesick longings for my favourite ‘agege bread’?? Full details in the next post 🙂

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