Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Recommendation

Turned the final page of Half of a Yellow Sun last night and what a read. If you don’t read any other book this year, please read this one. I have only one word to describe it – FANTASTIC.

From the first page to the last I could barely put it down, much to hubby’s annoyance. At one point he threatened to burn the book because I was giving it more attention.

The main characters in the book are all believable and so real. I warmed to them and felt like I knew them. And this is the most daring book I have read in terms of, ehm, intimacy – most Nigerian writers (at least the ones I have read) tend to shy away from the subject of sex. Chimamanda doesn’t, she faces it straight on.

This book has whetted my appetite to find out more about the Biafran war. It was a bit of a revelation for me to realise that I know NOTHING at all about that war. Apart from a few stories from my parents about ducking down behind sofas when the air raids would begin, that’s about the extent of my knowledge. I wonder why it was never taught as part of the history lessons in secondary school. Wouldn’t it have been more relevant than reading about some ancient, bad tempered Benin Oba from the fourteenth century?

It was also a pleasant surprise when driving back home on Friday afternoon listening to Open Book on BBC Radio 4, I hear the announcer say ‘and our guest for today is Chimamanda Adichie talking about her new book Half of a Yellow Sun’.  Adichie sounded nothing like I imagined – isn’t it funny how we imagine a person should sound when they speak? I would describe her as being very ‘together’ – that’s one lady who knows where she is going and what she wants. She has a quiet confidence about her that came across over the radio. If you are interested in listening to the interview click on the link.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sex and Parenthood

If you are a parent and your relationship is going through a sexual drought, PLEASE read this article. When I read it I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt reassured that I was not alone. This is something that is a bit of a taboo subject between couples and tends not to be discussed, especially not out in the open. It’s a lengthy read I know, but very well worth it!

One big headache
by Eve Ahmed

More couples than ever are turning their backs on sex when they become parents in their thirties. Our correspondent explains why the sex drought happens, and how to get over it

‘I haven’t had sex with my husband for five months. I haven’t wanted to and the idea of it makes me shudder. I have tried to force myself to do it, but I just can’t. He was understanding at first but then got frustrated and pushy. We ended up arguing. Now he’s gone completely the other way, showing no interest in me at all. I can understand his frustration and I know he’s feeling rejected. I could try the whole ‘candles, romantic dinner, quiet night in’ thing, but I really can’t stomach the thought of it’.
“I don’t want to leave him. He is a great dad and we get along well, generally. But I can’t have sex with him any more — it feels wrong and false. I realise this sounds selfish, but these are my honest thoughts. I’m at a loss what to do. Can a marriage survive without sex?”

Parenting websites buzz with stories like this from new mums complaining that they’ve started to dislike making love. This dilemma was posted by a thirtysomething; surveys consistently show heterosexual adults aged 30 to 40 have less sex than those in their teens, twenties and over forties. More babies are now born to women aged 30-34 than to any other age group, and most new mums do go off sex for a time, hence the surveys’ findings.

Other research reports that more than 90 per cent of parents say that broken nights and domestic responsibilities mean that they are simply too tired to make love as often as they used to; almost 70 per cent say sex is not so good compared with pre-parenthood days; 60 per cent have sex less than once a week, with 25 per cent on less than once a month.

“When a lack of sex following childbirth becomes protracted, it always spells trouble for the couple,” says Denise Knowles, a Relate counsellor. “Three quarters of clients identify the arrival of their first child as the time when their relationship started to go wrong, with a lacklustre love life cited as a major cause of conflict.”

Gordon’s story is typical. He’s 33, his wife Sarah 31. He says: “We’d been very happy until we had Connor, but then things went downhill.

“Sarah went right off sex and started constantly finding fault with me. She stayed at home looking after our baby and was resentful because she missed her career, while I still had mine. I’d get home from work and she’d go on about me not helping around the house. I used to dread the rows and from starting off wanting sex when she didn’t, I went off it too. I lost all attraction to her and wondered if I wanted to carry on in the relationship at all.”
They turned to Scottish Marriage Care for help. Maureen Hally, a counsellor, says: “After the initial tiredness, couples do need to ‘get back into the saddle’, or they’ll lose the habit of making love and lose their intimacy, which is what sets this relationship apart from all the others they have.”

That’s what happened to Georgie, 36, and her partner Sam, 37, parents to a three-year-old. She says: “I was too exhausted at first to want to make love and then, when I went back to work, I was even more tired. We’ve done it twice since Christmas, and that’s it. I know Sam feels resentful but for me it’s a relief not to have to bother with the whole business. I don’t miss it at all — it felt like yet another task I had to complete in my busy day.

“It’s a bit of a taboo subject for us so we never talk about it, but I do know at some level that we’ve lost our special closeness, and that worries me.”

Dr Petra Boynton, a psychologist, blames the pace of life lived by women today for the rise in the numbers who have “gone off it” that experts such as her are seeing.

“They’re expected to be great parents, great career women, have a beautiful house, be perfectly groomed, and be for ever eager for sex. It’s too much pressure. At least in our grandmother’s day they got away with lying back and letting him get on with it. Now women’s magazines tell them they need to put on a geisha-style show for their man each night, or he’ll leave them.”
These magazines are obsessed with sex and imply that everyone is at it like proverbial rabbits. “But couples with children really don’t make love much at all,” says Denise Knowles. “That doesn’t matter, though — it’s normal. As long as they keep the intimacy up with touching, kissing and cuddling, then it will come back one day.”

She says that new parents aren’t educated in the fact that not everyone merrily jumps back into intercourse after the woman’s six-week postnatal check-up, as pregnancy books imply. She cites cases of mothers of teens too embarrassed to make love with their husbands, in case the adolescent overhears. “Once you’re a parent, sex will never be the same again, sometimes until the kids leave home as young adults.”

There’s another reason for the 30-40 sexual drought. “After childbirth, sex is just not what it was, for both parties. As it’s less enjoyable, why put in the effort?” asks Barry Fowler, who’s evangelical about women exercising their pubococcygeus muscles, preferably with the PelvicToner he manufactures. “Men are very much focused on their own outcome during sex. That can’t be unconnected to the fact that only 10 per cent of women achieve coital orgasm. This would change if women took responsibility both for being better toned in the pelvic floor and for telling men what they want.”

There’s a consensus that, while new dads remain keen on the quantity of sex they have, for new mums it’s a quality issue. “Men are all about penetration and performance, which denies women the opportunity to find out what they want,” Boynton claims. “Guys can get into it very quickly but women take longer and need to be wooed back into it after giving birth. That sensitivity to how each other’s body works is something we talk about in counselling,” Hally confirms. But with conflicted couples typically accessing the service up to eight years after the rows start, the path back to conjugal joy may be a rocky one.

Sometimes, there’s no other option. Ben, a former client, says: “We’d have split up if we hadn’t got help. My wife didn’t want it after our son was born, first of all because she was too tired, but then it became a habit for her to say no whenever I suggested it, for months on end. At the same time, we started quarrelling about anything and everything, destructively raking up tiny incidents from the past. Sometimes I know she felt coerced into sex, but that made me feel bad and I stopped trying to get close to her at all. I slept on the sofa, because I couldn’t bear to be near her.”

Boynton’s tip for couples stuck in the too tired/too resentful for intercourse cycle is housework. “New mums don’t want to make love because they carry the burden of household duties, as well as all the other roles they play. If they divvy out the domestic stuff, they’ll be more amenable.”
Ben agrees: “Men do change if they know they’ll get something out of it — in this case, the resumption of a healthy love life. It’s really important. When you come together as a couple and fall in love, that bond deepens when you conceive a child together. It happens within that framework and it seems crazy that children should then erase that element of your relationship. Sex will always be important to us.

“It’s a way of expressing our love, being intimate, and it’s completely adult.”


Start small. Don’t expect to feel that you can suddenly buck up one evening and begin flirting while you fill up baby bottles. Instead, set tiny goals.

Day One: Just try not to say anything negative.

Day Two: Remind yourself to say please and thank you a lot.

Day Three: Compliment one thing about your partner’s appearance.

Day Four: Women — put on make-up, wash your hair, and look pretty so you feel pretty. The more attractive you feel the more loving and confident you’ll feel towards your man.

Day Five: Have a 60-second kiss.

And so on. It might take weeks but those weeks would have passed anyway, and this way you’re on a track towards getting yourself back in dating mode.

Having a baby is difficult because it can bring resentment into a relationship. It’s easy to start keeping score — “Well, I’ve stayed in every night this week, while he’s waltzed off to the pub twice.” If you’ve gone horribly off track, you have to take steps back to being nice to one another. You can’t go from rowing 24/7 and then expect a few pink candles by the bed to make you feel instantly lusty.

So work at just being sweet. Then you’ll find yourself laughing on the sofa. Don’t even think about sex to start with; just make sure that you get one long kiss in every day.
We take sex so lightly now, it’s easy to forget how important it is for maintaining the emotional bond between a couple. When we make love, we produce oxytocin, which bonds us together the same way a mother bonds with her child. It increases affection and attachment and in some men it can help cancel out some of the effects of testosterone, which means he might be less tempted to stray. Most of us take our sex lives for granted, because it is just there. But after kids, you have to start prioritising it


Climbing over the Wall of Silence

There has been a stony wall of silence between hubby and me for the past week or more. Apart from the cursory ‘Good Morning’ not much else in terms of words has passed between us. It’s been one of those situations where, and I am sure many of you have gone through it (even for those who are not married) – one thing is said and then the other replies and then something else is said and suddenly it all gets out of control.

When stuff like this happens I ask myself why we let things get to the stage where the only ‘solution’ is to lapse into giving each other the silent treatment. I have always wished I was a better (verbal) communicator. I have no problem putting things down on paper but that’s not the greatest approach to adopt in a close relationship. I see it becoming a bit of an issue if the only way you communicated with your partner was to write to them.

The thing with me however, is that instead of bringing issues to the table as soon as they happen, I let them fester and rot until the fetid fumes cannot be contained any longer and the can of worms finally explode. And in typical female fashion, years of long forgotten grievances spew out and get dragged into the present day vent. This mostly makes for a very ugly scene. And for some reason, it is so much more difficult sharing hurt feelings with those that are close to us. We would rather blog about it for strangers the world over to read, than sit down and have a heart to heart with our nearest and dearest. Is it because by sharing our deepest feelings and fears with those we love, we leave ourselves open and emotionally vulnerable – a fear that what we have shared will be somehow ‘used’ against us in the future perhaps?

But I have missed my husband this last week. I have missed our daily discourse and although we talk about mostly mundane things – what’s for lunch, have you paid the phone bill yet, we need to go grocery shopping tomorrow, my sunflowers have refused to bloom and that type of thing – there is something warm and comforting in our mundane conversation. I don’t feel pressured to sound intelligent or to complete my sentences because he knows just what I mean. Even the silences are warm because you know at anytime you can reach out with a word and the other will be there to answer. Its no wonder the saying ‘the silence will drive you mad’. It’s true.

The good news though is that we have made up now *coy smile* and climbed over the wall of silence to reach out to each other. All is warm and fuzzy again.


Yellow Suns and other Trivia

Chimamanda Adichie’s new book Half of a Yellow Sun dropped through my letter box yesterday and I can tell you folks, it’s already got me in its grips. I am only on page 19 (and that’s because I was dead tired when I started reading it last night) but I can see myself being done with it by tomorrow (it’s 433 pages long.)I have brought it into work with me- Teehehe.

There are few authors who have the ability to catch your attention and hold you spellbound from the first page of their book and, for me, Chimamanda has that. Perhaps it’s because I can relate to what she is writing about and I can vividly imagine the characters and I even read the words of the characters with a faint Ibo accent (and I am not even Ibo!). I can also imagine the scenery because I have been to Nsuuka before and so know exactly what she is writing about. For someone so young (29) she writes in a very mature way. In this book she tackles the Briafran war (the story is set in that era) and I am amazed that for someone who was born way after the said war, she is able to write about it so well. I can’t and I was born in 1970. But then that’s why she has published two books and I am sitting here blogging. *laugh*

This month has been a funny month for me – sort of disconnected and dreamlike. I don’t know why but I guess we all get that way sometimes. My schedule has all gone haywire and there is no flow to my days – almost like I have lost a grip. It’s disorientating to feel this way because normally, I have things (and my life) under control. Ah, never mind, it’ll blow over soon and I will look back at this period and wonder what the fuss was all about.

And onto something really trivial.

Driving into work today a piece of news on Radio Four filtered through to my consciousness and this was it – hold on to your pants guys:

Scientists have finally agreed that Pluto IS a planet after all.

Nooooooo, you don’t say???? *heavy sarcasm* Now, forgive me if I am being ignorant and fail to see the life saving importance of this announcement but what the hell difference does that make to anyone’s life?????? To think that taxpayers money is being wasted to ascertain whether or not Pluto is a planet??? Don’t these scientists have anything better to do??


Friday, August 11, 2006

My Awful August

I am generally not a superstitious person, but I am seriously beginning to wonder about this month. I mean everything that can go wrong is and seems to be going wrong!

First is was my tire, then it was my memory stick (I am seeing HELL trying to get the company I purchased it from to give me a replacement and/or refund!), then on Monday when I went for a hospital appointment my car wouldn’t start and all the ‘danger’ lights on the dashboard kicked in, scaring the living daylights out of me – fortunately I was still in the parking lot when this happened. I would have died (literally speaking, of course) if it had happened on the M5! Eventually had to call Green Flag to come tow it home. Oh, and guess what? As soon as the tow truck got it  back to my house, the stupid car started!! Then this morning, someone drove too close to me and broke my side mirror!! Why does all this stuff seem to be happening when I am behind the wheel?

I mean WHAT IS GOING ON??? I am beginning to get paranoid just stepping out of my front door. As for saving any money this month? I might as well forget it, as it ain’t happening.

I do wish August would hurry up and leave – hopefully September will have a more positive spin to it.

African at Heart

I got this by email today and when I first read through it I must admit my hackles rose, but when I calmed down I had to agree with all, many,some of them.

You know you are an African at heart when

1. You unwrap all your gifts carefully, so that you can reuse the wrapper.

2. You call a person you've never met before uncle or aunt.

3. More than 90% of the music CD's and cassettes in your home are illegal copies

4. Your garage is always full of stuff because you never throw anything away, just in case you need it someday.(a gum boot without a partner and the baby walker - baby's now 12 and you are 48)

5. You have a collection of miniature shampoo bottle from your stays at hotels. (Gocool, Sweet heart, African pride....)

6. You almost always carry overweight baggage when travelling by plane.

7. If a store has a limit on the quantity of a product, then each member of the family will join separate queues to purchase the maximam quantity possible. (sugar,soap,rice,cooking fat etc etc during old good days)

8. All children have annoying nicknames.

9. Nobody in your family informs you that they are coming over for a visit. ( uncle, wife, sis-in-law, two nephews and a neighbour) have camped at home.

10. You stuff your pockets with, mints and toothpicks at restaurants. (Murray mints, wrappers, and salt shakers!)

11. Your mother has a minor disagreement with her sister and does not talk to her for 10 years.

12. You only make telephone calls at a cheaper rate at night (especially beepers).

13. You never have less than 20 people to meet you at the airport or see you off even if it is a local flight.

14. You keep changing your Internet Service Provide because the first month is free. (I know some people O!.....)

15. Office supplies mysteriously find their way to your home.(Yes,staple machine, office pins, punch machine,cellotapes, post-its,etc.)

16. When you are young, your parents buy you clothes and shoes at least two sizes too big so that they would last longer.

You gotta laugh folks!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Foiled Again!

First it’s my tire, now my memory stick has gone bust. Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhh!!!!!!!!! Am I going to be able to save anything at all this month? Which kind wahala be dis now?

Money Na Love

Going through an old collection of poems I wrote years ago, I found this.

Money Na Love

You say you wan marry, you say you want wife
Who you think say go marry you live yeye life?
This na Nigeria, you sef for know that
Dem no dey put woman for house if pocket no fat

After all, if we sleep finish na wake we go wake up
Abi you think say na sleep I go chop?
You fit say you love me na you sabi
If you no get money, lie lie, one of my eye you no go see

After all, I no suffer for my papa house
So why I go come dey follow you live like church mouse
So before you wear cloth to follow woman anyhow
Go put money for your pocket now, now

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Changing my Mindset

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that making changes in your life is all about changing your mindset - the way you think and perceive things. Is this what the Bible means when it talks about 'renewing your mind'?

Take for instance my quest to become thriftier with my finances. Since I consciously took that decision, I suddenly don't have a mad urge to go to the shops anymore. It’s not that it doesn’t cross my mind, it does, but I am not driven to act on it.

I work round the corner from a large TESCO's and every lunch time I would invariably wind up there, not because I need anything in particular but just because it's there, I’m bored and I need to take a break from staring at my computer screen. I’d walk down the isles, browsing mindlessly and, as if in a daze, I would wind up at the checkout counter with a trolley full of stuff - a bag of apples here, a box of cereal there - never mind that my cupboards and freezer are already stuffed to bursting capacity.

An aside: Hmmm, now why do we do that, because I know I am not the only person this happens to? Although, my cupboards and fridge are full of food, I still go out and buy more. As a friend, who came to visit from Nigeria, recently observed 'There is something wrong with you guys who live here (the UK). Why do you buy more and more food from the shops when your house is already so full of things to eat?' How true. I couldn't give her any answer except look sheepish.

I did visit Tesco this lunch time but I went armed with a list and I stuck to it - no extras. Plus I carried and paid for my items with cash. It makes a big difference, I find, paying for goods with cash as opposed to your debit or credit card. It's so much more painful watching the cash disappear into the cashiers till than it is to watch your card being swiped.

Another thing I want to do this month, is
a) keep a gratitude journal and
b) a normal journal as well
and make an entry into each one every single day for the next 30 days - not as easy as one might think. It takes a lot of discipline to write something everyday. Sure it does, if not then you would be updating your blogs everyday, won't you?

I have set myself these particular tasks several times before but have always failed for a number of reasons - lack of time, no motivation, nothing to write etc, etc - but this time it feels different. There is something within me that actually wants to do it, y'know? There's an inner excitement bubbling up within me at the prospect of writing something in my journal everyday. Yay! I am really looking forward to it.

post has been one of my sources of motivation.

I think I am on the verge of some major changes!

Counting the Pennies

As August rolls in with blustery winds, sudden downpours and grey skies, I have decided to make the month in which I cutback, downsize and streamline my spending habits. Yes folks, this month I’ll be counting the pennies.

The first thing to go will be my spending on non-essential items – Ooh, that journal looks pretty I just have to have it! – and staying will be a regular amount being put into my savings account every month – Ooh, look at my bank balance grow! I am proud to say, I have set up a standing order which will sort this out for me on the first of every month but most ingeniously, I am having the money transferred into a new account to which I don’t have easy access. I have also downloaded a budget sheet which I intend to complete and put up on my fridge to remind me every day of my (self imposed) financial restraints for the month. *sigh*

Saying that however, I walked into Jones Bootmaker yesterday (nothing like a huge FOR SALE sign to drag you into a shop) and instantly fell in love with two gorgeous pairs of shoes. Being the shoe addict that I am, I just had to – of course, darling – try them on. Ooh, it was like surrounding my feet in butter. I had to use a chisel to pry them off and put them back on the display rack. I did walk away from the shop sans the shoes but I’m still dreaming of them though.

All in all, I am determined to follow through as I want to treat myself to a state of the art PC which comes with all the bells and whistles. My current PC is so old and grumpy; it’s time to get rid of it. I also want to go to Ghana (with a stop in Nigeria) for Christmas and that requires some serious cash.

Oh, if you are reading this and know of any good financial blogs, sites or other info to do with finance, budgeting, money saving tips etc, etc please let me know. Thanks!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hello August

H E L L O A U - Universal City Gg u S T Graffiti exclamation