Saturday, December 31, 2011

A public service re: peanut butter

I was quite surprised to learn that among the top ten reasons people found this blog was by googling either "who invented the peanut" or "who invented peanut butter." They probably ended up at this post. Oddly enough, this will be our fourth post referencing the brownish/orange delight that is one of my son's staple foods.*

But since that post doesn't answer the question, let me provide some more helpful information here:

The peanut (or groundnut in Nigeria) was invented by God. And a very good job He did of it too, if He doesn't mind my saying so.

Peanut butter was not invented by George Washington Carver. Among the fun little evidences of this came from a forum I found while researching the topic tonight. "hevach" wrote:
From the infalible Wikipedia (after reverting vandalism), there's disagreement between the Peanut Butter, George Washington Carver, and John Kellog articles.
According to the peanut butter article, John Kellog created peanut butter in 1890.According to the John Kellog article, he only patented a process for producing it.
According to the George Washington Carver article, Carver invented around 100 original uses of peanuts - a number of others were published by him, but weren't claimed as original, and 105 of the famed 300 were recipes which he published but he credited them to other sources. Anyway, some of those recipes use peanut butter, but none of them are FOR peanut butter. Also, by peanut butter, it refers to an oily grit invented in 1890 by George A. Bayle Jr.
Lastly, there's the creamy yummy stuff we know today as peanut butter, which was invented in 1922 by Joseph L. Rosefield.
George Bayle, eh?  It's a wonderful life when you've got peanut butter!

"hevach" also gets credit for the best pun of the night, by referring to  "peanut conspiracy" theories as being waged by the Illuminutty.

Hope that helps. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Elephant is a shower: Something I love about Nigeria

(Part 1; Part 2)

What is Nigeria like? Nigerians love children. They are aware of children and talk to them like no other people I've known. When Prince and I were walking through the market for Christmas presents, it was his attention most people wanted. The guards at our place talk to him more than us. Everyone (almost) wants to hold our baby. That means some interesting things at a bouncy castle I wouldn't expect in the US.

All at once, 10 much older children jumped on the same bouncy toy Prince was on, back when only one was inflated. Even though they were rowdy as anything, they were extremely careful about Prince. They would pause their own jumping when he came by. They all learned his name and would call out to him. One of them took him by the hand to help steady him and lead him around and around. In the US, other children on bouncy toys ignored him completely, unless he was in the way.




When other toys were blown up, Prince climbed up the slides. In the US, other kids were upset when Prince didn't go down fast enough. Some kids would push him. What do they do in Nigeria? This:



They put their arms around him and lovingly slide down with him. When they saw me carry him (barefoot on hot ground, protective parenting in action), they decided they would help carry him too! Now, he wasn't a big fan of that as you can see in the video, but they were attentive and caring and friendly like you could scarcely imagine a bunch of American or German kids.



Prince would get tired of a toy when there were too many people there, and run over to an attraction where no one was. Then other kids would notice he had left and go follow him so they could play with him too. When he finished with the first toy, all the other kids decided they were done too, and left. It was very surprising.



After a while, he brought two girls over to meet Mommy and her baby. "This is my mommy!" he said as if he were showing off quite a prize, Joy reports. They were happy to be introduced. (Thanks to his new Mario game where we meet Mario's "girlfriend" Penelope, he called them his girlfriends. Joy has since instructed him he will not have a girlfriend until he's at least 16. But I digress.) They came back a second time to be with and hold the baby so softly.

The elephant is a palm tree: bounce bounce

(Part 1) What is Nigeria like? Nigeria is better than you'd guess, in part because we've discovered we have to "do without" much less than we thought.

While I was at parent-teacher conference at the end of the semester, Prince's teacher told us about a winter carnival of sorts that gets put on around here every year for the kids. With bouncy castles! Sweet! Prince loved our daddy date to a place with bouncy slides before we came to Nigeria and I had never guessed we'd get a chance to do that here.


Prince got to run around on the slides once all were set up for a couple hours. He had a blast. We told our neighbors about it and they are planning to go every day until it's over. We're hoping to go a second time still.

Unlimited play time for $3. In the US, an hour was $5.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Elephant is a rope: Nigerian Standard Time

What is life like in Nigeria? In the next three posts I will be explaining the same event our family went to, but from different perspectives. [Since one doesn't really require any pictures, it gets to go first. Click to be reminded of what the elephant analogy is.]

Nigerians are very sensitive about the phrase "Nigerian Standard Time," at least when used by outsiders. They will stand up and yell about it at AUN. When not in public, of course, they shrug their shoulders and invoke it constantly. (Funniest when spoke with a Jewish dialect:) "This is Nigeria! What do you expect?" Things kind of happen when they happen and you just have to get used to it. There are two flights to the capitol and they leave no earlier than their posted time, but often 2-3 hours later. Students stroll into class 15-30 minutes late unless you lock doors or impose sanctions. AUN drivers give you grief if you ask them to wait 2 minutes to go get one more thing, but don't apologize for sometimes being half an hour late.

If you need something done on time, you need to be very clear and even then get used to it. It is a very strange thing to be telling people what their business is and I really hope this doesn't become a habit. I feel bad doing it, but it is sometimes the only way ... like today.

We heard about a fun children's party in town and today we took our family to it. We were told it started at noon. We got there 1:15 to give it plenty of time to get started. They decided it would start at 2 instead. By 2:15 the guy with tickets hadn't even shown up yet and we bugged someone to go wake him up from wherever he was. He had walked past us several times, but was not obviously doing anything about the party or ready to accept customers.

The party was only partly set up. Prince got to play on it for a few minutes. When an organizer passed, I asked him when the rest would be up and running. He said it required more electricity than he had right then, so sometime around 3. I told him how long we had waited and how long we were willing to wait. "Okay, they'll be up at 3" he repeated, which I knew meant 3:15-3:30. I said, "No. It will be up before 3 or we will leave." Thankfully, a group of ten much older kids showed up and the crowding convinced them to finish the job. The rest was set up by 2:45.

The fact that Nigerians and Americans clearly use different words to talk about things that happen in the future, things that regularly happen at a certain time, and things that are happening now doesn't help.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas moments 1

Prince is an interesting fellow. His first present was, as he accurately observed with surprise, "Clothes!" It was clear the thought had not yet entered his head that clothes were Christmas presents. He then calculated much as Mr. Data would - though he has not yet met the beloved Android - and declared that he needed to go put his new clothes in his clothes drawer. This he ran off to do each time he received clothes.

If that were the end of it, there would be nothing much to report. But the next two days he was exceptionally eager to wear those new clothes. He even asked me on Sunday, "Daddy, are these the shorts that go with the Buzz shirt?" to make sure he didn't wear the shorts with the wrong shirt. So clearly he is interested... he's just showing it in unexpected ways....

------

For Christmas we were a church of one family. I based our Christmas program off the scroll of scriptures my mother made long ago at BYU, telling the story of Christ's birth and some of the prophecies of it. Among the things I enjoy about having my own family is getting the chance to read the scroll like my father before me. By itself that has been a wonderful and heart-filling tradition.

This Christmas, I wept as I read the scriptures aloud.

I have little enough idea why. There wasn't any particular revelation or realization or connection for me. My soul just longed to have been there.

------

Our favorite driver, Diamond, invited us to join his church for a Christmas party. Since he had been so kind as to accept our invitation to come to church in October, and since we looked forward to spending time with local Nigerians who aren't affiliated with AUN necessarily, we happily agreed. "One of the things we can say about the event is that Joy enjoyed it and felt comfortable," she adds. "This is high praise." We were placed in seats of honor by the pastor and church board (which meant we had a tablecloth and probably a wider selection of drinks). We had sung some Christmas carols to Diamond on one of our trips, so he signed us up to sing for everyone too.

That was a very nice part of it. Our singing is quite different from theirs, so it was nice to experience their traditions and share ours. When we sang Silent Night, Prince leaned in to the microphone for a big swoop during "sleep in heavenly peeeeeeaaaaaace." For many people, it was probably the most memorable moment of the evening, that swoop. Prince also enjoyed saying "Hallelujah!" after every other sentence from our MC. "Put your hands together for Jesus," Joy recites. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah.

They had a dance competition and a cookoff and a singing competition and an eating competition and probably a couple others as well. Prince and I wandered around the new auditorium they are building, designed in two floors to seat 2-4000 members.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cloth diaper datapoint

Some friends of ours are investigating cloth diapers and I thought I'd quickly share our data point below the fold.

Happy Christmas Children

The magnetic fish were a major win

Baby did a lot of this: nom-nom-nom

Christmas Carol Humbuggery

[Disclaimer: I do not believe everything I am about to write. I don't even believe half of it. It's just all in curmudgeonly good fun, folks.]

There are so many stinkin songs about missing that "Old-Fashioned" Christmas. They list the elements of an Old-Fashioned Christmas, and I've got to say, there are about none of them my Christmases are missing. The only thing missing is a log fire and I think my Christmas is plenty complete without it. So if other people have Christmases with the elements mine have (carols and presents round the tree, choirs, stories, family near, children excited for toys/Santa, etc.) what is it they are really missing?

1 - It's the Old Fashioned part. They've bought into the hype that presents (ie - a carved horse and a dress for your sawdust dolly) were better before the invention of electricity. They miss worrying about whether their children will survive this year's smallpox or scarlet fever epidemic. They've forgotten that the reason the family huddled round the fire is because it was the only source of heat in the entire house - or if we make it even more Olde Faschioned, the only thing keeping the wolves at bay - and the reason we told stories around that fire was because electricity hadn't been invented yet and there was absolutely nothing else to do in the dark. Yeah, that's something to miss.

2 - The more likely answer: what they really miss is the lack of responsibility. Christmas was magical because it happened without me having to do a thing about it. Mom and Dad took care of it. I miss not knowing how Christmas happened because I had to do it. Back in the Good Olde Days, I didn't cook the food, I didn't buy and wrap all the presents, I didn't have to come up with the colorful answers to confuse the kids, I didn't have to worry about how to pay for it all, I didn't have to do anything but wait for presents and maybe lick the beaters. I didn't sleep for excitement, not because I was up fitting screw R23 into parts J and the-Chinese-character-for-practical-joke that don't fit together, using a butter knife because the screwdriver is missing. A few decades later, though, we'll miss the Old-Fashioned Christmas when we had responsibility and knew that we wouldn't be forgotten in the Old-Fashioned Folks' Home ... again.

Now that you mention it, I Like my new-fangled Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our neighbor, the farmer


In mid-November our neighbors across the street put out a sign selling their produce. We went on a family outing to check out their farm. There are a couple goats, several pens packed quite full of chickens, some gardens, and four catfish ponds.

Prince was only interested in watching the animals for a brief time at a time. He'd rather run around whenever possible.


Now we get all our chickens and eggs from them. The eggs are cleaner, larger, better quality, and cheaper than at the store. Probably all-natural too, but I would scarcely say free range.

In essence we have an informal contract with them - basically, they know they can expect us to buy so many birds each month and we'd like them so many weeks old. They appreciate being able to plan and we appreciate their proximity, reliability, and quality.

Now that I'm on break I want to spend some time interviewing them to find out more about livestock management in Nigeria for my meatpacking book.



The farm very much reminds me that birds of a feather flock together. All the coops were organized by bird color. Small white birds, brown, black, large white....





Beautiful afternoon, it was.



Prince did want to pause and look at the fishies. There are a lot of catfish in each tank and it was feeding time. He was held in shifts by our upstairs neighbor, the farmer, or me while we watched the feeding frenzy.





This is our upstairs neighbor who took us over to see the animals.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

For Grandma


The decoration was tatted by Grandma Jule and it just fits her head in a child-like Empress kind of way.

Merry Christmas, Grandma Jule.

Being a Father

Pres. Boyd K. Packer has often suggested to the young men that someday they would learn why, of all the titles God could choose, He asks us to address Him as Father. At first I assumed that being a father I would discover this wonderful world of the Divine inside me, such as feeling the love for my son that God feels for me. I've commented at other times that what this has primarily meant for me in reality was seeing the infant in me that God has been putting up with.  Joy interjects, "Amen! I feel like such a baby as a parent, all the time."

At BYU, he recently explained a bit more on what he meant. He and his wife twice heard doctors tell them their new babies might not live to leave the hospital. As they pondered the implications of that prognosis and sat in faith, he realized some of the depth of his love for a child he did not know. He had no pleasant experiences to think on, no past conflict that just needed a little more time to repair; just a small infant in his arms that he would give anything to help live.

As delighted as I am to be "coming home" after a long semester of late nights not spent with my family, it also means taking a much more active role again in my beloved son's upbringing. Some communications we had from school in the last weeks were disturbing and that behavior has been surfacing at home as well. This has meant a change of disciplinary tactics. Though he has been an active participant in identifying the consequences for his misbehavior (he even proposed his own deal for us out of the blue that we accepted most of), the carrying through with it never has been pleasant. As the daddy, a healthy portion of that falls to me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ethics in Children's Fantasy: Wizard of Oz

I'm reading Wizard of Oz with Prince at night. It's been pretty fun. In casting parts, he wants to be the Scarecrow. Daddy is the Tin Woodman, Mommy is Queen of the Field Mice, and Princess is Dorothy. After some thought, he decided the computer is Toto, because the computer loves him. Oh boy.

It's been long enough since I've read Oz that all my memories are of the MGM movie. It shocks me no end that the Wicked Witch of the West doesn't show up to threaten Dorothy when she lands in Oz ... doesn't threaten them once she hooks up with the Scarecrow ... doesn't ensorcel the poppies ... doesn't even seem to exist until they get to the Emerald City and Oz commands each of them in turn to kill the witch.

Our heroes then sit around to discuss the matter, and this is what we read tonight:
"What shall we do?" asked Dorothy sadly.
"There is only one thing we can do," returned the Lion, "and that is to go to the land of the Winkies, seek out the Wicked Witch, and destroy her."
"But suppose we cannot?" said the girl.
"Then I shall never have courage," declared the Lion.
"And I shall never have brains," added the Scarecrow.
"And I shall never have a heart," spoke the Tin Woodman.
"And I shall never see Aunt Em and Uncle Henry," said Dorothy, beginning to cry. ... "I suppose we must try it, but I am sure I do not want to kill anybody, even to see Aunt Em again." ...
"I haven't the heart to harm even a Witch," remarked the Tin Woodman; "but if you go I certainly shall go with you."
Therefore it was decided to start upon their journey the next morning.....
Seriously?! Some great, green, glowing head/women/beast/fireball thing tells you that the only way to get what you want is to commit first-degree murder for him, and you say sure? I don't much want to, but I'll do it anyway is the entire depth of your inner struggle over killing someone you've never met who has done you no wrong? You only have his word that she really is Wicked [don't get me started on the musical, folks] and here we have a child - only 9 years old or so for all Judy Garland's charms - preparing to kill someone to get what she wants.

And this is the morality tale we feed our children! This is Good Entertainment. This is Best Books. She's not threatening them or the destruction of the world and everything they hold dear; just standing in the way of their private wishes and they're suddenly willing to join the Mafia!

And when they find out the Wizard is a humbug, they call him a bad man ... and that's it! He says, no no, I'm a very good man, just a bad wizard ... and that's it! No remorse. No one wonders, "Gee, do you suppose we did the right thing in killing her?" No, no, they're just happy to get the thing they came for. Maybe there will be something later in the book that redeems these decisions that I've also forgotten, but my skimming forward is failing to find it.

Kids, for those of you reading at home, the Wizard of Oz IS a BAD MAN, okay? He has committed murder and conspiracy to murder, along with any number of assorted other crimes and scams. He has used and abused the trust of good, innocent people. Please also do not grow up to be like Dorothy or her companions, who either didn't know right from wrong or how to say "The things I want are less important than my integrity and doing what I know to be right."

Feeling Very Blessed

This is one of those "I cursed my fate that I had no gloves until I heard about a man whose $100 cashmere gloves would cost $100 to repair" things.

As we prepared to leave for Nigeria, we were told by more friends than I can count that the only thing keeping them going through their trials was the happy thought that at least they weren't going to Nigeria. ... Gee, thanks. Don't mention it, really.

        Did I just say I have more friends than I can count? When and how did that happen? How blessed I am!

And now my friends are returning the favor - at least I don't have their problems!

I've been overwhelmed on my overtime semester - working every night til midnight or 2am for months, only taking time off for family time on those nights I was actually home and then going back to it, and spent the last week in a feverish rush to get all the grading done for 120 final exams and over 150 papers in under a week.

       And how thankful I am I have had a job this entire time. Not all my friends have, like M&M. My first job market did not have the wonderful outcome this one did. I have colleagues and supervisors who appreciate and praise me. Not everyone has that either.

Coming out here was expensive. There was stress and misery and expense. It was really hard. Joy still gets a catch in her throat remembering it.

        Not nearly as hard as J&S had it. I just read on their blog what a terrible time of it they had! It was an expensive move for both our families, but we still had some savings to fall back on that has been replenished and doubled again. We had people at the airport waiting to greet us, a cool home to walk into, dinner ready for us, a dedicated bureaucracy who took care of everything for us at the embassies and prepped us for everything.... AUN takes good care of us. We are blessed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Next Year's Halloween - a belated post

On Halloween, I sat listening to some random music while grading papers. I noticed that a number of the songs - though one would not normally consider them "Halloween" themed - gave some very interesting ideas for unusual Halloween costumes. I may try one out next year.

Who are you?
1 - I'm the guy who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door [How'd that get on my playlist??]
2 - I'm the Great Pretender
3 - Moon Shadow. Mind if I follow you? [This may be my FB costume]
4 - I'm a happy girl  [I may have some difficulty with this one]
5 - I'm blue [budapu deepadoo daaaa, doo dapoo deee... that one]

And of course, Weird Al is always a fountain of insightful costume ideas. From "Midnight Star"
7 - Your pet may be an extra-terrestrial
8 - The ghost of Elvis [is living in my den]
9 - The Incredible Frog Boy [is on the loose again]
10 - Aliens ... are sleeping in my car
11 - The man born without a head
12 - Top psychics
13 - Hitler's brain in a jar

About that point I got back to work. Which is what I will do now too. Taa.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prince Talks About School

My kids are having fun with my toys. And I don't like that. And I want to play with my own blocks. And my kids keep knocking down my building. And uh my kids are doing bad things. [He names two of the kids] are pulling on my shirt.

The man keeps telling me I need to go to the Club. The man is the driver on the bus. I was sitting next to him, and then he said I'm going to the Club and swim. Daddy, he doesn't want to take me home a lot. And he wants me to go back to the Club and swim.

When I got home then I do ask Mommy what happened.

Ms. Evelyn is coming back right after my birthday. I'm three years old right now. And then I just talked to Ms. Evelyn about what I did at school.

They keep pushing me on the swings. And I like that, Daddy. I like it when they push me on the swings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baby Fashion Model

Joy and I have discovered the joys of having given birth to a little doll. She's so much fun to dress up! We opted to skip one of Princess' clothing sizes (9 months) and so she's moving up between 6 month and 12 month clothes. At the same time, Joy is going on a camera kick to enjoy all these wonderful dresses that just look so darling on our little one.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

THIS IS SO COOOOOOL!

Please excuse me for a moment while I fanboy all over your monitor.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Oh wow! This is amazing!


Ahem. For those who need a little more than that for their search engines, this is a video by Steve Nelson of "The Piano Guys" mixing Star Wars themes as he cello-duels himself as Obi-Wan and Vader simultaneously. Their cello bows become lightsabers and they do all sorts of cool little Star Warsy tricks and effects and then the Real Vader shows up to conduct and then he pulls out a WHAT??!?!? and and OH WOW you have GOT to watch the whole thing like 20 times or more at least and *drool drool slobber* WEEEEEEE-hehehehehehe oh MAN this is SO COOL

(Y'know, it's kind of a pity Prince isn't here to see his daddy going hyper. He doesn't get to see that very often, especially not lately.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Savor the Cookie

Today Kelli Austin brought me a plate full of cookies (chocolate and butterscotch) for my birthday that passed last week. I have had two of the cookies one before lunch and one after lunch. Prince even likes them.
As I ate that second cookie I though about how yummy it was. I was starting to think, boy I would really like another one, when I said no, not yet to myself. While I can still taste it in my mouth I want to savor it. So I sat with the wonderful flavor in my mouth and savored its soft goodness, sweetness and  delicateness. Then I thought when the flavor was gone, I could have another one. They are my birthday treats, but I told myself wait. Even though the cookie flavor is gone I can still remember it. I want to sit here and enjoy the memory. As I enjoyed the memory of that cookie, I thought about gratitude that we talked about today in church and how gratitude might help fill longings and give us the Spirit by cherishing and remembering the blessings Heavenly Father has given us including the atonement of Christ.
I am very thankful to all of you that love us enough to keep up with us on this blog even if you only read a little. I also really appreciate every comment. Love you all!
--Joy

Giving Thanks in Nigeria

AUN gave a Thanksgiving meal Thursday at the cafeteria freely to all staff, students, and faculty. The line was tremendous. I've never seen so many people in the cafeteria at one time. It was so packed, the fellow who runs the place was trying to help people find open chairs. The special meal is seen on the right: BBQ turkey (your choice, chicken or turkey) with turkeys specially flown in, rice pilaf or spicy rice pilaf, and the usual assortment of miscellaneous sauteed veggies. Oh yes, and the Coke so cold there were ice chips in it - a pretty good trick around here. I worked Thanksgiving, getting home around 7:30pm - a bit earlier than usual because a neighbor gave me a ride.

Fri and Sat, I spent some time preparing a pumpkin pie using pumpkin I imported from the States during my trip there in October. I also cooked a chicken. Joy prepared some garlic mashed potatoes and deviled eggs. Then the Austins brought over some cookies for Joy's birthday and we had ourselves a family Thanksgiving celebration.
No pie pans, no crusts,
no evaporated milk, no whipped cream
We improvise

I am occasionally amazed at my students' papers. I have never heard any group of people defaming their own country with the vehemence I have encountered here. More than a third of my papers are about how terrible it is here. I've started correcting some of them, showing them real data of how Nigeria is getting better, that real progress is being made, and that some of their stories about why things aren't what they should be simply don't hold up to careful thought and scrutiny. I hadn't planned on coming here to defend Nigeria, but I didn't plan on becoming a defender of Utah in Ithaca either. If people don't believe good things are even possible, what hope is there except to get a degree and get out of town? They need hope, something to be proud of, and a sense of gratitude. The more I study, the more I actually think this place gets far worse press than it deserves.

Joy started off our giving thanks by saying how happy she was to all be together in Nigeria.

We are thankful to be able to talk to family on the internet.

Prince talks about fun

I've been having fun with my DS. And I've been having fun with Daddy. And then I'm having fun with my sister. And I have fun with my mommy. And I love to play with my toys. And I love to play at school. And I love to play outside. And I and I and I love going to the Austins. And I have fun getting Princess Peach. And then ... um, I love playing with Mommy again. And that's it.
 -- Prince (who also chose the picture)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weather: better than advertised

The impression I had gotten from people was that August/September was winter, so we'd better enjoy the cool weather that the rain brought while we could. It all ends in October.

So I did my best to "harden off" in those early weeks. I spent far more time walking outside than any of my more reasonable colleagues, trying to get ready for the big heat soon to descend. The winter was hot enough, with average temperatures in my kitchen at least 90 degrees already at 6am.

So here we are at the end of November and ... it's not bad! It's even better than "winter." Our kitchen is a mere 83-86 in the morning, and there are evenings and mornings when I go outside and it's downright pleasant! What happened?

Well, the rains stopped just like everyone predicted. That means that there is a fine layer of dust collecting in the air and the atmosphere. Just at the bottom of the horizon you can see that the sky is a little more brown than the sky directly overhead. If I haven't had enough water to drink, I can just taste the dust on my mouth and throat, but it doesn't seem that bad otherwise.

The dust keeps the sun's rays out, which keeps things cooler. The humidity is normally much lower too. It won't be until February or March that winds blow the dust out of the way and the terrible heat hits. At least, that's the story that is now explained to me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Old Testament Reading Plan

One of the goals I set myself was to read the full set of scriptures before my current contract with AUN is up (so even if we renew, I still need to get it done by about May of 2014) and the Book of Mormon every year as usual. Doing it over a 3 year period means I can be flexible and give the Doctrine and Covenants 9 months and the Old Testament 15, for instance.

I have read the OT completely a few times, so I see the wisdom in the Church's seminary program, missionary recommendations, and Sunday School class of not requiring people to read the entire 1200 pages in one year when it's only 300-500 for the other books. While there is an important lesson in seeing the lists of names and in reading the fullness of the Mosaic law, there are other scriptures that I would likely profit by reading more often. At the same time, in whittling the material down to the point that people don't get bogged down, some good stuff gets cut or skimmed.

So today I have been working on expanding the seminary recommendations to create my own shortened-but-not-that-short version. I was surprised to learn that there are exactly as many chapters recommended for the OT in the seminary program as there are chapters in the NT. Pretty clear that was no accident. I've been reading through the chapter headings to identify some additional chapters that are interesting or important for me at this time in my life. I include more chapters on the temple, for instance, that wouldn't mean much to seminary students, some history chapters that I find particularly memorable that talk about how God wants His people to be governed, a lot of Isaiah, and a few random verses here or there that I just want to remember where they are.

I tried Google first to see if anyone had any comments on what is "missing" from the seminary program, but you can imagine that didn't turn up much I wanted to read. Maybe for my own future reference, and maybe for anyone out there who wants "Seminary plus 25%", here are my recommendations for expanding the set of OT chapters to read:

An Unexpected Visitor; or Hospitality Isn't for the Weak

We had a surprise visitor last Sunday immediately after church. The guards called up that there was someone to visit. Joy tried to speak to him, but the guard told her that there was someone here for her husband and he would only talk to her husband. I spoke to him on the phone and he indicated I had told him to come by any time he was in the neighborhood. Now that doesn't sound very much like me, and I couldn't remember saying that to anyone here. He proposed that I might remember him when I came down.

Fair enough.

I still didn't recognize him when I went outside, which he could obviously tell. He told me that we met at immigration as we first arrived in Nigeria three and a half months ago. He had been pleased to welcome us to Nigeria and wondered if he might visit us sometime. That jogged about half of a memory. When he said I had responded that he should stop in any time he was in the neighborhood, I realized that it actually did sound a lot like something I would say. We didn't even have an address at the time! I treated it like the casual conversation it would have been in the US and was friendly and grandly flippant about the whole thing. In Nigeria, people take you at your word a good deal more.*

Well, now. Fair's fair. I have host-duties to see to and I have no idea what a good host does in Nigeria. Thankfully, my guest was right at hand with a suggestion: how about being invited inside for some water? Delightful. Yes.

Growing Up: First Bite, First Bed

I think we've mentioned the dinner game I played with Princess, of offering her some of my food and how she will reach out to grab it. Thursday she was more successful than usual. She grabbed Mommy's banana and chomped on it. Lacking teeth, this wasn't a bite. She just sucked the banana a bit.

Friday, Joy was deliberate about it. She offered Princess the banana. Princess took it, gnawed it for a bit, and succeeded in pulling off a piece and swallowing at least some of it. I happened to present -- it being Joy's birthday, I took the day off. So here is Princess eating her first bite of real food. Baby Derrill also literally cut his teeth on bananas.


This other picture is a staged one. While waiting for the Prince to come to bed, I laid Princess in his bed. She was confused and disturbed at first. Eventually she decided this was kind of fun. I caption it:

Someone has been sleeping in my bed, and she's still there!

Nigerian English 1

Prince is learning to speak Nigerian. For instance, he counts "five, six, sevwon, eight" and the days of the week include "Monday, Tuesday, Wen-es-day, Tursday...." And thus the immigrant battle to maintain cultural/linguistic purity begins! (Y'see, son, there's school English and there's home English; at home, you speak home English...) At least I have the advantage of coming from Southern California where I've debated the importance of both blending in and maintaining cultural ties before.

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Yes and No don't mean quite the same things. If I ask the guards if the bus has already come and left, they invariably say yes. So I call the bus driver, who informs me he is still on his way. The guards either mean that "Yes, the bus is still coming," or "Yes, the bus came an hour ago," but that's not the question I ask. Several other expats have confirmed that Nigerians have a different sense of reporting on the past and future than other (US/India) cultures.

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We buy our milk in cardboard cartons. It's been irradiated so it can keep on the shelf for 6 months without refrigeration. Joy went to the store and asked for two boxes. They pulled out two cases filled with boxes. Finally she learned the correct terminology: Give me two pieces of milk.

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Joy's driver advised her to stop asking around for Oatmeal. "What is this ~oat-milk~ of which you speak?" They just call them oats. To me, oats are for horses, oatmeal for humans.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prince's Prize: student of the month

 Hi there! Prince here!

I was Student of the Month this month. That meant I got a free chocolate at the AUN Club.

I chose a Twix. I didn't quite understand that the chocolate was frozen hard ... or that Twix are naturally hard anyway ... or that nothing else was less hard. So Mommy and Daddy got to eat my treat. I was very proud anyway.
Hmmm, how much is that in Naira?

Princess' Big Month

For Halloween, Princesss dressed as her brother. You can see her dancing to Selena singing Aretha Franklin songs in the video to the right. Daddy's dance moves always make her happy, and that night they made Prince fall off his chair laughing. At the end, you can tell that Derrill has not repented of his boisterous fathering ways, but Princess complains about it a lot more than the Prince did, so I am getting much more circumspect.


Princess doesn't like to be alone, so even though we don't have a car, she spends a good deal of time in her car seat watching us do chores. Now, recognize that this is from my perspective - she is nearly always in Joy's arms in reality, but by the time I get home, the arms are getting pretty tired and the car seat gets loved.

Princess also doesn't like to sit upright (until this very morning), so she very quickly skootches down to this position.


Another shot of Princess in her Halloween costume. At 4 months, she is growing out of her 3-6 months clothes and heading for her 6-9 month.

If I remember correctly - and I may not - Prince didn't grow into this until his 5th month.

Nov 5 - Princess grabbed Mommy to give her her first kisses. She grabbed Joy's lip and pulled herself in. She gave several more kisses to her cheeks and chin.

How thankful I was to be home that day to get pictures.


Nov 8 - Our little darling gets cuter all the time. This was during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations last week. I asked my students what it was, and I was told "Muslim Christmas." Checking more knowledge sources, I learned it is called "Festival of Sacrifice," celebrating when Abraham was willing to offer his son and God spared them both. Many families have or have access to a goat, and they will slaughter at home, enjoying the meat as a family that day, I learned from the chairman of the board of education for AUN who also runs a ranh.

Some day in the last couple weeks Princess rolled over by herself for the first time. I was unpacking some boxes and watched her roll over onto her tummy, then roll back the other way.

Princess also figured out in the last two weeks how to pass a toy from one hand to the other. This is months and months ahead of her brother.
Princess standing with Kelli ...
and sucking on her fingers.

This week she got her toes in her mouth for the first time. She is very excited about this. Last night we had dinner with our upstairs neighbors and she started to moan about something while sitting in their lap. I thought she was trying to get her foot in her mouth, but couldn't reach while sitting up. So I directed them to lay her down on the couch cushion. Sure enough, first chance she got, Princess grabbed her leg and brought it up to her face. I took off her sock and helped her tap her nose with her foot, which she loved. (For those keeping score, Prince still isn't interested in putting his feet in his mouth.)

This morning Joy propped Princess up with a pillow at her back and two pillows to her sides. Princess sat up for a moment, then reached out her hands to brace herself tripod fashion. She managed to hold that position for a couple minutes and was quite pleased with herself before succumbing to inevitable gravity. After that, she had a lot more fun trying to control her fall than preventing it.

Princess' cries are also being more communicative. 1 - Mommy is recognizing a different cry when she wants to be fed vs. other cries. I can hear it too, though not as well. It has more ooo and moan, while the other is more waaa and cry. 2 - Normally she is very happy to see and be with Daddy. But one day she was not. She wanted Mommy, and somehow communicated it to me. We handed her over, and she stopped crying right away. "I didn't have to do anything but hold her and she stopped."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Prince discovers Inductive Reasoning

We have three bathrooms. One is by our room, one is by Prince's room, and one is by the living/dining room - the guest bathroom. Prince for some reason decided a few weeks ago that he really prefers the guest bathroom. Joy tells me it's because the sink and toilet are lower, so the room is more preschooler friendly. He is not allowed in our room, let alone our bathroom. I don't think he knows a bathroom exists there.

[If stories about preschoolers and bathrooms are not your idea of good time, don't click on the Read More link.]

Monday, November 7, 2011

An evil blog post

Making fellow ex-Ithacans nostalgic and homesick since 3:34pm, Nigerian Standard Time:
Why Wegmans is the best company in the world.
I'm still not a convert - shopping at Wegmans always made me more than a little uncomfortable on several levels - but a few months out here will make even me perk up at its name and smile.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Epic Vacation

Symptoms of an Epic Vacation: years later, you remember and honor every anniversary of the Epic Vacation. In September, I was saying to Joy, "Do you realize, it's been two years since we were in Italy?" No way. It can't have been that long. I wanted to post some more pictures from that trip back then, but life being always too hectic, our intentions sometimes get put off by 2 months.

Another symptom: When you tell your wife you're talking about Epic Vacations, she guesses which one.

It was such a great trip! "It was fun."

"I'll always remember going to Holland," Joy says. Our honeymoon in Germany was also Epic of course, but there's a lot to celebrate when it comes time to commemorate that one again, and there were memorable (if not quite as Epic trips on subsequent anniversaries).

For some reason that year [reasons that we now understand only too well], the Spirit nudged Joy to suggest something that would never have entered into our heads otherwise: let's take our tax break and splurge - spend it all (nearly) on a trip to see her brother in Italy. Somehow we did it. Totally out of character for us. Then again, 5 years ago I'd never have guessed I would be living here either.

Below the fold are some new, random pictures from our trip that never got posted at our old blog. Because they are random, they are totally out of order.

Kimball on LDS in Nigeria

When we first moved here I shared some of the early efforts of faithful people in Nigeria to get the Church to come here and bring them the fullness of the Gospel. In a Sept 1978 training meeting, Pres. Spencer W. Kimball - the prophet at that time - shared his thoughts about the importance of bringing the gospel to "The uttermost parts of the earth." One of his most famous statements* from that talk was this:
I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do.
But I can see no good reason why the Lord would open doors that we are not prepared to enter. Why should he break down the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain or any other curtain if we are still unprepared to enter?
And so he urged first those whom we would now call the Seventy and then the rest of the church membership to get ready. That recommendation included learning Mandarin Chinese -- he praised the Chinese quite highly for their many attainments to keep their societies morally and physically clean. He prophesied that "Our brothers and sisters in Russia must hear the gospel; and if we are attentive and prayerful, the Lord will open the way" and now our best friends are there. He also shared this about bringing the gospel to Africa:

Joy's First Market Day

Joy wrote this post in August, but for some reason it never posted, so I'm attaching it now:


A week ago Saturday Derrill was feeling really sick, with a fever and so we elected me to go to market. The shuttle takes people to the market on Saturdays. Our concern was feeding Princess since she is nursing. I fed her before going down for the shuttle, but it never came (I learned later that it already left or wasn’t planned for that day). We called a couple times. I fed her an hour later, then pumped. I got with my shuttle between 11 and 11:30 to arrive home after 3pm. Poor Derrill and Princess - she had cried half the time I was gone. We plan on sending her with me next time.
I was so grateful that I had been persistent. There was no one else on my shuttle and my driver went everywhere with me. He took good care of me and helped me get better prices :). I found all that I was looking for except for a crock pot and it was a pretty good list. I even found two small step-down transformers that will be life savers for us and were inexpensive.
I was amazed to be in the shuttle when it turned around at the market when there didn’t look like there was any space between shuttle, people, cars and motorcycles. Buying meat at the market was an eye opening experience. It didn’t seem very sanitary, but it is very fresh. I chose my own chicken as it walked around (I could have named it) and they cut it up for me. I did not see the cow my beef came from, but that was fine. I was excited to find green beans, carrots and onions.
I bought things for a baby carrier and got a phone for myself. It was a productive day even though it was much longer than I had expected. I even found a husband more understanding of my 2 child family plight when I arrived home. Success!
 -- Joy

LDS Aid

Two professors, one a Cornell-trained BYU professor of nutrition, have been working to improve the Atmit porridge that is often given out in care packages. The hope is that it will be even better for small children with a better mix of micronutrients (particularly more iron) but without compromising on shelf-life. Another article describes its dissemination in poor areas of Peru.
A single serving provides 34 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein, 43 percent of calcium, 99 percent of iron, and high percentages for a dozen vitamins and minerals for children under 5 years old. ... 
In 2010, 645,000 pounds of Atmit were shipped by LDS Charities to four countries. Depending upon the age and size of the children, that's enough to feed 100,000 to 130,000 children for one month. The cost? Less than $6 (USD) per child.
LDS efforts to help those suffering from the famine in the Horn of Africa:
In Ethiopia, projects to aid more than 100,000 refugees are under way, including water tanks, trucking services, sanitation supplies and hygiene training for 15 villages; supplementary food for 8,700 malnourished children; nutrition centers and sanitation facilities for Somali refugees in Dollo Ado; and 5,000 hygiene kits.
The Church also plans to provide water catchment and storage structures, as well as soap and washbasins to serve tens of thousands of other residents in the communities surrounding the Dollo Ado camps.
Other projects in Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia are also underway and briefly described at the link.



At the most recent General Conference, Church President Thomas S. Monson reminded members about the General Temple Patron Fund. Donations from members around the world are used to help members who live far from a temple travel there. A recent article highlighted some of the saints in southeastern Africa who have been blessed by the Fund:

Thank you for flying Princely Airlines

More than once at the dinner table, Prince has said, "Don't stand up, Mommy. We're on an airplane. We're going to our new home and it's going to take a long time." Then arches his back. "Someone got off." He arches again. "We started again." Apparently airplanes act like buses: he talks about it like his bus stop book.

 -- Joy

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Today Prince came up to both of us to announce that he had a new imaginary game. This is important because we put Mario and all his friends on a one-week vacation: no Mario plushes, no Mario t-shirts, no Mario games, no Mario PRETEND TIME. His new imaginary game: Wonderland Volcano!

Then he tells us: "I got it from Arizona."

[Where did that come from??] Where is Arizona, Prince?

"It's far, far away. We need to get on the airplane that says Arizona on it."

 -- Derrill

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Attack of the Soapmeal


"After that, I was surprised I was able to eat oatmeal again," Joy recounts on hearing my title.

Oatmeal is one of the happy foods we can find in Nigeria. Joy wasn't too happy with the oatmeal though - it didn't taste quite right. So she bought several different brands from different parts of the world so we could try them out.

When the Papa Bear tried his oatmeal, he thought it tasted a little off, but he couldn't put his finger on why.

 When Mama Bear tried her oatmeal, she thought it tasted TERRIBLE. "It tastes like soap!" she declared.

When Baby Bear tried his oatmeal ... no, baby bear doesn't eat oatmeal anymore. Nevermind.

I agreed, there was a hint of something in the oatmeal, .... and come to think of it, it does bear a remarakable resemblance to soap...

Then we switched oatmeals. Yes, indeedy! That's soap alright! That is the nastiest oatmeal we have ever had. "I wonder how they made soap look like oatmeal," Joy laughs.

On the other hand, it was the best tasting soapmeal we ever had. "It's the most convincing of being soap. Maybe I shouldn't have thrown it away. Maybe we should have washed some things in it."

Now we're on a third oatmeal and it seems to be satisfying.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Prince’s New Favorite

On my way home from the US, I had a lot of quarters, nickels, and dimes to get rid of. I had neglected to do this at a bank or a change machine along the way. So I decided to dump them in the airport by buying miscellany.
I got a Sudoku book and some food … and some Reese’s Pieces. Nom nom nom. I ate my first little bag all to myself. It was yummy. I saved the other bag for Halloween.
At Halloween, I broke it open. Joy shared one or two pieces with me, graciously. Prince was reluctant to try it, but when we told him they were like M&Ms and filled with peanut butter, he would try one without gagging, at least. He was concerned that they were too crunchy, and that they were Smartees, which he tried and didn’t like.
Do you like it? No, no, he doesn’t. He doesn’t want another.
A few minutes later though, I offered him another and he did take it.
A few minutes later, I offered him another and he took two.
I pulled out a handful and watched him eat one after another like a chain smoker. I asked if he liked them. “No,” he said munching away.
He had a couple little handfuls and was quite happy.
With some effort, I saved the last of the pieces for him so we could finish them off together tonight. When we did, he had no sooner finished than he said he wanted more.
I’m sorry – we don’t have any more.
“Then let’s get some more.”
We can’t get them here. I brought these from America.ET_Reeses
“Then let’s go bring some more from America.”
I’m sorry, son, but it’s going to be a long time before we’re there again.
WELL, that opened a long conversation beginning with “Why?” But at any rate, it is official: Prince has a new thing he will eat happily. Thank you, ET.
-- Derrill

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some fun moments

Prince ran in to the living room where I was laying down for a few minutes. He jumped up to me, struck a proud gangsta pose, and shouted, "I OBEYED!" I have not idea what he was obedient about, but getting some positive feedback was apparently well worth the effort.

"I know," says my Lady. "I didn't want him making Princess wiggle off the chair any more, so I told him to leave her alone. Then I walked away. He followed me and said, "Mommy, I obeyed." Yes, you did, I agreed. Then approaching you was the next step in the story."

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Prince managed to earn over 20 points today alone (clean underwear, reverence, and helpfulness). He had an immense amount of fun counting his points and translating them into games: "I can play Mario DS and Rainbow Game at the SAME TIME!"

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Prince was choosing his pajamas: "Daddy, I can wear my green shirt to bed tonight, and then I can wear my other green shirt tomorrow for school so I can be Luigi!" He gets to be Mario every day normally at school, so I guess being Luigi is a different costume for him.

My classes will be greeted by Karl Marx, a departure from my more normal performance as Groucho, but since the topic will be on times when markets don't work that well, it seemed appropriate. Princess and Joy are likely to look a lot like themselves.

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Speaking of class, on Wednesday I ran an auction in my principles of microeconomics classes to demonstrate that normal people really do behave the way we claim and they really do find this market equilibrium price. I was amazed at how my normally quiet classes I struggle to be able to hear turned into a leaping cacophony (where I struggled to hear one voice out of so many). At one point I had 4 students racing up to me trying to be the one who would get to accept someone's bid. I came home with a mighty sore throat, but it was an immensely fun class. 

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Books Joy and I have been reading:

I read at night trying to push work out of my thoughts for a few minutes so I can fall asleep and during the shuttle home when it's too dark to grade. I've read a couple Agatha Christie mysteries, Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish, Thirst (a vampire story), The Thief Who Spat in Luck's Face, The Girl Born of Smoke, A Christmas Carol, and Macbeth - all on iPad. I've also worked on Plato's Ethics, The Mortal Messiah, The Hobbit, Lessons from Dead Economists, Are Economists Unethical?, and Dracula's Guest, plus miscellaneous blogs, Church publications, and scriptures.

Joy reads while feeding Princess and has gone through a couple dozen romance books on her Kindle. 

Velveteen ________

A week or so ago, I got fed up reading Prince's books and decided it was high time to expose him to Literature (other than our nightly scriptures). I mean, my parents were reading Tolkien to each other in our presence for years before this, and since I picked up the Hobbit again the other week, I've been chomping at the bit. But before unleashing Smaug on the poor boy, I thought I'd better start with some shorter, tamer stuff. Easier words might help.

Thanks to my slightly-broken iPad, I can download a world of literature at my fingertips and picked The Velveteen Rabbit to start with. I haven't read it in at least half my lifetime, and only watched the cartoon a couple times, but it was right up the alley I was looking for.

Tonight is when ***UNMEANINGFUL SPOILER*** the fairy showed up, so we'll finish the book next time. Just before I turned out the light, Prince asked if we could read it again when we finish. Yes, I think so.

Of the thoughts that brought tears to my eyes, one was wondering whether I'm praying that he is the Rabbit and that my love will be enough to make him a Real Boy, or whether I'm the Rabbit and I pray his love will be enough to make me a Real Dad.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

4 months old

 gga! That means greetings in Princess-talk. It's how my daddy talks to me.

Today I turn 4 months old. I'm starting to learn to put everything in my mouth, including not just my thumb, but Daddy's! I usually sit on his lap during dinner and he bounces me on his leg. Sometimes for fun, he offers me a bite of whatever he's eating. Sometimes for fun, I grab his hand and bring the food up to my mouth to see if he's serious. No luck yet, but someday I will get to taste his peanut butter sandwich. Mom and Dad are very glad I want to put things in my mouth.
 My brother is pretty cool. He makes me laugh. He's trying to get me to say, "I want a peanut butter sandwich," but I'm sticking to vowel sound practices with Daddy right now. I always like it when he tries to tickle me under my chin.

I can push myself up on my tummy. I can climb to a standing position if someone will support me. I sometimes sit down and then stand up again just to practice. I really want to stand. I'm not too interested in sitting up just yet, though.
Daddy has a lot of games he enjoyed playing with my brother, but I don't like most of them. I let him know I do not want to be tossed around or spun. I don't get to see too much of Daddy this semester because he works every evening and most every night. But I always give Daddy a big smile when he comes home or spends a little time with me. I like it when he holds me and I can snuggle close to him.

Prince tells me that for a long time, Daddy changed more of his diapers than Mommy did. I don't think Daddy has changed even one of my diapers in the last two weeks, though he may have gotten in one in the last month. And that's once of my favorite times of the day! I don't think Daddy ever imagined he would miss the chance to change a diaper, but he does.

I do like bouncing on my legs or on his leg, and spinning in my new Exersaucer. My brother was very nice to let me use it. I'm not too keen on playing with the toys on top yet, but Mommy had my grandparents send me a squeeky giraffe as an early Christmas present. It's supposed to be a teething toy, but for me it's a toe-ing toy. I step on it while in the saucer and it squeeks! How fun! I also like spinning around in the saucer, but I grip tightly so the whole thing moves instead of just my seat.



Another toy that came with our shipment was this jungle gym. I don't care too much about the toys at my hands (notice the pattern?) but I love kicking with my feet.

I have a fun game I play just before going to bed. I get my "last drink" for the night, and after the first bit, I pause. I look up at Mommy and smile winsomely. I grin. I laugh. I have another sip. I look at her and grin. I laugh. I have another sip. I can keep from going to bed for a good long while like that!

Then Mommy or Daddy sings me to sleep. I sleep from about 7 or 8pm until 5-7am. I don't like waiting for Mommy to shower all that much, but when she comes to get me, I give her a great big smile from my playpen in the morning. Mommy takes such very good care of me and always lets me accompany her wherever she goes in the house. I spend a lot of my day being held by Mom, and some of it sitting up in my car seat when she washes dishes or otherwise has to have both her hands. I don't like being out of her hands, though.

Buying Fans

Yes, did anyone know that I am running for election and want to buy your votes. I am just kidding.
Last week I was doing some grocery shopping and had finished buying food. I asked my driver if he knew a place that I could buy a fan to move air around in our home. I was really hoping to find two. The first place that we went to was asking more than I was willing to pay for one fan, so we left and were headed home, when I saw a place across the street with fans. We stopped, I chose a couple of fans, put them in the car and we went home. I was happy to have found the fans at a reasonable price.
When we got home I plugged in one of the fans. It worked for maybe 5 minutes. The other fan was then quickly plugged in and turned on. It sounded wonderful, only you could stand right in front of it and not feel any breeze at all. I was really disturbed. In Nigeria they do not give out receipts unless you ask specifically for them and I had no idea as to whether or not I would be able to exchange them for working fans.
The next day I contacted the driver that took me the day before (not my regular driver) and was determined to find out what could be done. We loaded up the fans and took them back. I was grateful to see the same lady there at the store. I told her that neither one of the fans I bought the day before worked and she told me to come in and sit down while they put together another fan for me. A man got a box and started assembling one fan. I was nervous about the number of fans, but I was very happy that she was willing to give some reimbursement.
As I sat there chatting with her, I learned that she has two sibling in the United States, a 9 mo old, 5 children, likes fried rice. Some normal kind of stuff. But there was a guy, I think her brother who came in and was really random in his attempts at conversation. He told me to buy him a CD player. I was incredulous and said no. Then he suggested that he buy one for me. I told him I didn’t need one. Then he suggested that I was wearing a wig, no I assured him that all of my hair was my own. And then he told me that he was going to follow me to the US. I said no, you can go there, but I don’t want to be followed. Of course all of these pieces of conversation were wreathed with laughter.
At some point I asked if I was going to get a second fan, and she said yes and another one was brought out. I had them plugged in this time and stood in front of them to make sure that air was coming out of the front and that they would run for more than a couple of minutes. It was a pleasant visit and before I left the lady told me that I was now her friend and that I should think of her whenever I make fried rice and bring her some sometime. She also offered to make me Nigerian food sometime. I am glad that I decided to go back and didn’t cut my losses.

The Prodigal Returns 2

I left for Des Moines for the World Food Conference two weeks ago Monday. The Saturday before I left we got the wonderful email about the return of the sacque. When I told Joy I had wonderful news and she wouldn't believe it, she guessed that our stuff had suddenly arrived. No, I said, that would be quite the miracle.

And then I got this little ping inside me ... yes, it would be something else, wouldn't it? I wonder....

Well I had to head to campus that Saturday to print midterms anyway, so I got on one of the few weekend shuttles in to town. On my way, Pres. Ensign's secretary called. Our stuff had arrived and could I please come in to get it?

What??!? HUZZAH!

We shipped our things to New Orleans where a warehouse was gathering the shipments from many professors, all of which would be sent on to Nigeria at one time. And there it sat. For months. It would still take 2-3 months to ship it to us once it finally left the warehouse, and then another month crossing Nigeria from Lagos after someone paid what are delicately called "customs fees". We were beginning to look at a Christmas without our things. In planning for my Des Moines trip, we had planned that I was bringing two large, empty suitcases to fill with things from WalMart we needed. A good portion of the list included things we had shipped ourselves - especially medicine - and only carried a 3 month supply of when we moved here.

Then Pres. Ensign got fed up with the wait and had it all flown to us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sarcasm fail

Prince has been sick for closing in on a week now: low-grade fever and a pretty ineffectual cough since Sunday. He's been miserable. He's been more miserable because we actually keep him down on the couch, a state my active little boy is never in. He may have been a little sick while I was in Des Moines last week, but the real illness at least managed to wait until I got back. Since I've been home grading midterms this week, I've been able to take a few shifts watching over him, poor thing.

After the few bites of breakfast he could stomach, we turned on Mary Poppins for him. While Joy and I finished our breakfasts [I made french toast!], I made snide comments about Mr. Banks. Then Prince called out demanding some attention.

Mr. Banks had just sung, "I'm the lord of my castle," so I came over, saying, "Yes, your Lordship."

He cried out, "No, Daddy! I'm not a ship!"

:?D
 -- Derrill

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ode to a potato peeler

Returning from the States, I presented my Lovely and Gracious with a token of mine esteem. It was not on the shopping list she sent me.

It was ... a potato peeler.

She has spoken raptures about it since, and I thought it would appropriate to join her rejoicings with those of generations past:


I had forgotten how great a perfect potato peeler can be. We may actually have potatoes now. - Joy

It is a truth universally acknowledge that a potato peeler in posession of a good blade must be in want of a potato. - Jane Austen [Pride, Prejudice, and Potatoes, p. 1]

And men are instructed sufficiently that they know a good potato peeler from an evil one. - Lehi [2nd Nephi 2:5]

Not "virtues" but "Virtue" is his ideal, and Virtue is nothing other than the duty of the potato peeler. -- Schiller [On grace, dignity, and Potatoes]

A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges his potato peeler has grown dull. - Mark Twain

Westley: I mean, if only we had a potato peeler! That would be something.
Inigo: Where did we put that potato peeler the albino had?
Fezzik: Over by the albino, I think.
Westley: Well, why didn't you list that among our assets in the first place?
 -- Scene from The Potato Bride

A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has a good potato peeler, women will like him. - Mae West

All the world's a potato peeler,
And all the men and women merely potatoes.
They have their eyes and their bruises,
And one man in his pot makes many meals.
               - Shakespeapre, As You Like Potatoes, Act II, scene vii, 139-142

Random Princely Pictures

It's been awhile since I pulled out any random pictures and just enjoyed where we have been and things we have done. Here are some randomly selected pictures from Prince's 3.5 years - mostly in reverse chronological order.
At Prince's old school, taking my
new camera for its first spin

Prince at his Weasley-handsomest

BLOCKS! A tower of blocks!

Baby Prince and Pop

Prince's first Halloween as Captain America,
plus Zorro and a Roman aristocrat
Baby Prince Droolsalot


Two Buzz Lightyears and one exceptionally happy boy

After talking to Crush, Prince tries to find Nemo
but only finds himself.