Monday, July 25, 2011

Traveling Advice - Electronics

We got ourselves a step-down transformer for Nigeria. It would convert their 240-V electricity to 110-V so our electronics would be in less danger of frying. True, AUN provides one, but it would be very nice to have a second.

The transformer is HEAVY. So rather than put it in our checked bags, we decided to have it in our carry-on. Part of the reason we had a 45-minute love-in with the TSA was that their scanner cannot see inside the transformer and they confiscated it. $60 down the drain.

Now, the agent insisted that we would be able to pay the $100 for an extra bag and send it through our checked luggage, but after the handling we had received I doubted he knew his own name without looking at his name tag. So I called up the TSA to ask. No, they said. If the scanner upstairs couldn't see through it, the scanner downstairs won't either. We'll confiscate it there too.

So instead we're going to make do with one for our first 3-5 months and ship ourselves a second one. But if any of our fellow travelers are thinking of carrying a transformer with them, be ye warned.
 -- Derrill

Princely Tales from the Road

So we're at the airport feeling the TSA's love for 45 minutes, and Prince is not the only one distraught. He is, however, distraught for a different reason: "I want to go to Nigeria! I want to go to Nigeria!" he shouts every four seconds. Somehow, I doubt this helped us any.


It's not always possible to put the Prince in an effective timeout, particularly when we're all sleeping in the same room. I tried two methods Friday night, both highly effective but for different reasons.

I started taking away his stuff. First his Woody hat or Tyrone plush, then the other, then his socks. By the time I have both of his socks, he is pretty worried and willing to be good to start earning his socks back. Since then, however, anytime he is separated from the hat or the plush, he asks us what he has to do to "get my stuff back," and informing us that he "wants to bring Buzz as my stuff instead of Tyrone. No no, I want to bring Buzz and Tyrone, so I'll have two stuff."

Once his socks were gone and we still needed to do more, I had him sit in the (dry) bathtub. When I went in to check on him, he pointed out the shower handle to me, and read off to me that the handle said Off, Cold, and "ot... Hot." He then explained how the shower handle worked -- without having turned it on, mind, because the tub is still dry. Smart boy.


I have been trying very hard to convince him that we are visiting family before going to Nigeria. I drew him maps of where we're going, told him the names of people we'll see, count down the number of days until we go, and quizzing him occasionally quizzing him on where we are. He still doesn't quite have it down that we are in Utah, but he is getting the idea: "So, Dad, if we go see a lot of people, can we go to Nigeria after that? Is that okay?" Yes, that's okay.


He has really enjoyed playing with the other kids. Not that he remembers any of their names, but he loved playing with them. Uncle Doug has been a big hit. Videos and pictures to come ... as soon as I can find the cord connecting the camera to the computer.


He got to watch no fewer than three Pixar movies in one day. He announced that his "favorite part" was "Spanish Buzz" from Toy Story 3. For his potty prize, he wanted to see his favorite part. I promised I would find it for him. When I did, he didn't actually want to see Spanish Buzz. In fact, when Spanish Buzz started dancing around Jesse, he complained that he really didn't like this. Turns out what he really liked was watching Buzz fight with and hog tie all his friends. My my. (pity. I really like the second Spanish Buzz dance.)


Games the Prince has invented:

  • Using a tennis racket as a camera and taking our pictures
  • Using a tennis racket as a rocketship blasting off outside
  • Filling a dog's water dish, then splashing the water out into the bushes.
  • After being driven around in a toy car for a while, with Uncle Doug pretending they were touring Africa, he announced that he was home and is was time to get out. This was mostly so he could climb a ladder by the fence.
And of course any toy he finds anywhere is now his. He has discovered Property Law for Three Year-Olds

"The Barbie Computer? That's mine. Dora the Explorer? Mine. The pretty pink castle? Mine. The kitty I'm calling "doggy" is my dog. My aunt's house where I'm sleeping is my house. Oh, and there's no such thing as joint ownership. She is my sister, not your daughter, Dad. Mine."
 -- Derrill

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Home - the Place I Return

[I posted this last year in contemplation of the adventure we're about to embark on, though I didn't know where or how then. I've been contemplating it some more and wanted to first refresh the old ideas before starting in on the new.]

A man's home is his castle.
Home is where the heart is.
Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you clean up after your cat. (that's Mom)

I was writing a book review Friday by a woman who falls in love with every city (and most every person) she meets as soon as she gets there.

That's not me.

I imagined being on a job interview and while being driven back to the airport having someone ask me if I thought I would like living in their area. Now I'm not stupid, so I know the Right Answer is "Yes, I would really like to live here." (Please hire me.)

But my overly brutally honest answer was, "I tend to mock any place I live." I criticized Santa Barbara thoroughly as a teenager (pretty normal behavior, I'd say). I mocked Utah and Provo almost without mercy during my undergrad - letting up a little my senior year. I spent more time enduring and chuckling over Germany than immersing myself in it. Ithaca was never meant to be home, so I felt free to attack it every chance I get until a couple years ago when I decided it had gone on long enough and I might as well start to accept this place.

And yet.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Yup, I'll Burn

A fellow will find some interesting things while packing up his papers. Among them were these notes I scribbled one day on the "Top 'Deleted Scenes' from the Book of Mormon".
  • Laban stole the brothers' gold, their silver, and their Star Wars collectibles. In editing, this was later changed to "precious things." [redacted from 1st Nephi 3]
  • Nephi broke his bow when his hunting partner startled him by saying "Be wewwy wewwy quiet." [1st Nephi 16]
  • King Benjamin dives off his tower and surfs the crowd [Mosiah 5]
  • Limhi's men discover a land filled with bones, 24 metal plates written in a strange language, and the Statue of Liberty. Mormon then closes his account abruptly by shouting "You maniacs! You blew it up!" [Mos. 8 and Mormon 7] 
  • Wicked King Noah installed La-Z-Boys & TiVo for his priests. [Mos. 12]
  • Captain Moroni wrote the Title of Liberty on his coat because Twitter was down for maintenance and his PC had crashed again. [Alma 46]
  • Freiberg's first draft of Helaman's stripling warriors showed them crossing the Delaware.
  • After Captain Moroni was done with them, the Kingmen change their name to the Queens [Alma 62]
  • We learn that Pacumeni would have won the election if it weren't for the electoral college [Helaman 1]
  • When the brother of Jared returned from speaking with the Lord on the mountain, he finds the people worshiping a singer/songwriter called the Promised Land Idol. [Ether 3]
  • Coriantumr was the winner of Survivor: Land of the Jaredites. The sequel, Survivor: Land of Bountiful, would start within a few months, with Coriantumr making a surprise guest appearance  [Ether 15 and Omni]
Oddly enough, I had scribbled this on a draft copy of our engagement announcement (printed in turn on the back side of a talk I used in teaching Friday Forum) so we can date this bit of tomfoolery.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Expecting the Worst

I mentioned before (I think) that on my way to Yola last time, I received some friendly advice: Set your expectations as low as you can, then one or two notches lower than THAT, and you will on occasion be pleasantly surprised. That is supposedly the secret to happiness in Nigeria.

That may or may not work for day-to-day matters. I'm not yet qualified to comment. But it sure is terrible advice for preparing to get there.

Other friendly advice has told us not to ship ourselves any food or valuables because it might stolen by customs officials. Okay, but what's valuable? We aren't big into jewelry and flashy expensive looking things anyway. We got some new electronics, like a second step-down power transformer to reduce the chance of frying our stuff. It weighs about half as much as my toddler. I'd rather not carry it, but I'd sure hate to not have it. So do I ship it? Or maybe I should ship the toddler... ;)

Then there's everything else we're packing: If it wasn't valuable to me, I wouldn't be taking the time to ship it. Is my music collection valuable? At least 700 CDs in three boxes. But valuable? Expecting the worst means saying goodbye to everything I pack, just in case, and I will be pleasantly surprised when I get three mismatched socks back, four months late.
"More [worst] than you can imagine!"
"I dunno, I can imagine quite a bit."

Maybe my imagination for the worst is too good. Joy says, "I'm glad none of that crossed my mind before." Sorry, dear. "Well I'm a realist and if I hadn't thought of all that ... now I'm in real trouble."

This is the problem with expecting the worst.

 -- Derrill

Monday, July 11, 2011

Religious changes for Us: Part 2

My last post was more about what would be different for us. In this post I want to write about things that will be similar for us in Yola spiritually.

We are excited about the importance that Nigerian’s place on being spiritually minded. I read a blog from an America who  visited Yola for a summer semester and did an internship there. She wrote about how talking about religion is common and that they expect it to be important to you even though they do not require you to be a certain religion. I really look forward to that. It seems like a very welcoming atmosphere.

We have been told we can have our Sacrament meeting in our home and anyone who would like to participate will be welcome. We are planning for that change by studying the church hand book on how small areas of members adapt principles and policies of the church. We are bringing the church manuals that we have and have learned about others and have gotten them as well. Appears that the recommendation for a group meeting is for a Sacrament meeting and a general Sunday school meeting and that is all. So all of the meetings are together.

We will also be able to continue our personal study and strengthen our personal relationships with Christ. We will be able to read scriptures, pray, serve, and try to be like Jesus. On thing that I think will be nice when princess is a little bit old is to help with service projects that are put together by AUN. They also have a club at AUN and hopefully we will meet people there and find some who like to play board games like us or convert them to playing board games.

Derrill has already felt welcomed by the Mckee family who let him stay with them while he was visiting Nigeria. He already felt he was accepted by them and they took very good care of him. They gave him encouragement and offered sincere friendship :). We are already off to a good start!

I will really miss, as Derrill put it this weekend, having so many people that do the service in our church group that I don’t have to do. It is so nice in our church that all are called to serve in the organizing of meetings and activities so that no one is taxed too heavily, especially since all service in the church is volunteer and no one receives pay for it. All the responsibilities for talks and teaching class will be on our shoulders and it will take some getting used to. I am sure in later posts we will share how we work on adapting and what our schedule is or becomes in our worship services.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Religious changes for us in Nigeria: Part 1

moroni_and_joseph[1] My family and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are sometimes known as Mormons. We have both been members of the church all of our lives and lived in areas where the church is well established and there have been many other members with whom to attend church. That being said we have both received our own witness that Jesus is the Christ and is the head of this church for ourselves in the manner discribed in Moroni 10:3-5 of the Book of Mormon below. (Moroni is the reserected being in white to the right, telling Joseph about how God wants his church restored)
3Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how amerciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and bponder it in yourchearts.
4And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with acsincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he willfmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruthof all things.
nigeria-map[1]There are no other members of the church that we know of in Yola, Nigeria (shown east of Abuja near the border of Cameroon). However, there are many members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Nigeria and there is a temple in the Port Harcourt area in Aba. There are many stakes or groups of the church in the south, but in the North which is where Yola resides there is a large mission and we believe no stakes.

We will belong to that mission, Enugu, as far as church leadership is concerned. The mission president, Pres. Buah, will be meeting us when we arrive in Abuja, the nation’s capital, on our way to Yola and we are really excited that he will take the time to do so. We are also planning on attending church that same weekend to meet other members of the church that meet in Abuja (an hour flight from Yola). The Abuja group will be the closest congregation that is safe for us to meet with. We look forward to meeting the people in Abuja. 

We have relied heavily on the social structure of the church throughout our lives. We have done much more than just attend services with the members of our church. They are our best friends outside of our families. We serve with them, love them, let them serve us and they have become our family where ever we live, because our families have lived far away from us while we have been in Ithaca. We plan to get to know and love the people that we meet in Nigeria as well, to serve them and become friends with them. We are excited to meet them! It will take more efforts on our part to get to know people that we do not meet regularly with and pray that we will be determined to make the effort, so that we do not feel isolated. I, myself, am a very social person, but will hesitate to get out much before our princess is 6 months old.

Some of our family has been concerned for our welfare, not just because we will be in Nigeria, but because the strength of the church organization will not be there for us with that welcoming social structure. But through the process we have gone through in making our own decision to go to Nigeria, the family members that were very concerned have received answers to their prayers, helping them know that it is Heavenly Father’s will that we go to Nigeria. Derrill and I also feel this way and know that Heavenly Father will be with us in this adventure and that we will learn what He wants us to through this adventure :).


Parenting by the seat of my pants

The Prince had some problems being reverent in church today (as expected given all that's been going on lately). I took him out of the meeting a couple times. On the second time out, as I sat down with him in the corner, I heard the sound of my pants splitting. Uhoh.

Thankfully, Prince decided to moan and groan and cry and demonstrate generally that this was going to be a long pause anyway. So I announced to him that we were going to the car.

That REALLY got his attention. "NO! Not to the car! I want to go to Mommy!" he shouted as I led him out to the car. I sat him down, sat myself down.

I started the engine.

He hit a new level of panic.

"No! No! Daddy! Daddy! I don't want to go to the car! I want to go to Mommy! Where are we going?" Home. "No! I want to go to church! I want to go to Mommy! I want last drinks" (a last chance for a drink before bed) "I want to go to church!" The only thing he didn't cry out was "I want my lawyer!"

I explained to him that if he was reverent (and I had a pretty low bar in mind) we would go back to church and he could go to nursery.

He stopped crying instantly. He talked to me a bit about going to church, about being reverent, about how much he likes playing at nursery. I told him the rest of the story - that we would go back to church once I got some new pants.

"Why do you need new pants?"
Because I broke my pants.
"You broke your pants? Can I see?"
Nope. That's why we're going home, because I don't want anyone to see that I broke my pants.

On the way back, I told Prince that the next time we went to church would be the last time. "Why?" Because then we'll go to Utah, and then California, and then Nigeria. Prince cheered "Yaaay! And we'll get to see our new house!"


Speaking of the Prince, his latest favorite phrase is "Daddy/Mommy, I want you to come and see something in _______." This phrase is most disconcerting when it is followed by "the bathroom." What do you want to show us in the bathroom? ... He never says, just that he wants to show us "something special". Today alone he showed us something special in the bathroom he was sorry about, something he was proud of, something that surprised him, and something that he was concerned about but wasn't his fault. He showed us that he threw his Mario plush on the top games shelf in his room. He didn't ask for it back, he didn't apologize for throwing in the house, he didn't cheer and say look at me ... he just wanted us to know where Mario was.

Reading this to him, he says, "I want you to get Mario." Ah.

 -- Derrill

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Baby Pictures

In the hospital, waiting for Mommy

Derrill's mother meets Princess

On her way home from the hospital

The proud older brother

"MY baby sister"

Her first week in Church

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Important News

On June 23 we had a baby. I've been waiting to blog about this until Joy was available (aka conscious). The procedure went entirely according to plan. We got to enjoy about half an hour of Princess' company in the delivery room before they spirited her and me away from Mommy. She weighed 7 pounds, 3 oz and was somewhere between 19.5 and 20.9 inches long. Y'see, our post-hospital visit measured her at 20.9 and I have noted before the lax measurements that the nurses at the hospital take.

Mother and daughter are doing very well, nary a problem. "Nothing unusual anyway" says the mother who can't climb out of bed without pain. Princess eats, sleeps 20 hours a day, and makes the world's most adorable kitten sounds. She is quickly receiving the nickname of Kitten instead of Princess.

Prince loves his baby sister. He used a very clear genetive yesterday: "Mommy, you be careful with her. She's my little sister." This was because Mommy had not yet put socks on her feet and the Prince believes in socks. He is adorably soft - all he wants to do is kiss her. We are very happy about our little ones.

However, we had not expected their "honeymoon" to be over quite so soon. The first day back from the hospital, Prince was gently holding Princess in his lap, bestowing loving brotherly kisses on her forehead, when she stretched her legs. He said, "Mo-o-o-m! She's touching me!" I had never expected that would start quite so soon.

My parents are in town, taking care of Prince so we can get some packing done (and get a little better sleep). He is thrilled and delighted to have them (and their iPods!) here. His reward for good behavior is now the privilege of sleeping at their hotel instead of at home.

We leave to visit family in just 3 weeks. By then we have to finish packing, get Princess and Joy their shots, and finish getting ready for our big adventure in Nigeria. We're delighted that Princess has decided to join our family. We have waited a long time for her to come.

Joy adds: "I was concerned before she came that I would be appropriately happy for her to come and welcoming, but since she came that hasn't been a problem. I'm so glad she's here. I can't figure out how to do much else but take care of her and sleep, but it's really nice time."

Everyone is very complimentary about how lovely our baby looks. Joy thinks she looks like my mother. Friend Jon thinks she looks like Joy. I might be leaning toward her looking like Joy, but to me it's too early to tell.

We know she's very determined to have things her own way and that she likes foot massages and having her hair brushed. The thing she seems most determined about right now is not wanting to sit up. She throws herself sideways so she can lay down in ours arms.

 -- Derrill

Prince's Books

These are the books Prince is carrying with him to Nigeria. The rest are being shipped. It took us most of the morning to go through the books. I went through each book and asked "Ship or carry?" and he answered his first 20 books "carry." After that, he had to trade me a book he had already chosen for another book. It took some doing, but we're pretty happy and think his final choices reflect his true interests.

By comparison, when I realized we had another stack of hardback books he had to go through and I had him make pairwise choices, every choice was to get rid of his last choice and take the new book. That was ridiculous. He ended up with a book he hasn't asked for in a long time. So instead we presented him that book and 4 others we knew he liked and he chose one of the others.

As an economist, this was interesting. How to reveal true preferences and a test of toddler rationality. His preferences expressed the first way were quite rational. The second way, not so much: he prefers The Marvelous Toy to the Squirrel Tale, but then he prefers the Squirrel Tale to The Marvelous Toy. Not rational. Or at least, it appears to be not rational. Really, it means the mechanism I used to elicit his preferences failed.

Now to figure out how to get him to choose among his toys!
 -- Derrill