Listography: Guilty Pleasures

I don’t take part in Listography every week.  In fact, I think I’ve only done it once before…  But this week’s theme on Kate Takes 5, Guilty Pleasures, got me thinking and I just had to share!  There are a LOT of them – so here are my top five 🙂

 

1. McDonalds

I know – unhealthy, fattening and (according to some) absolutely disgusting.  But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing like a cheeseburger and fries (medium).  

Mcdonalds_logo

During my pregnancy I would have McDonalds twice a week.  Sometimes two cheeseburgers at a time (shhh – don’t tell my mum).  And I can’t eat the way some people eat – you know, have a bite of burger, have a couple of fries and alternate between the two.  No.  I have to eat the whole burger and then eat all the fries!

 

2. Jerseylicious

What is it about Jerseylicious that has me completely and utterly hooked?

Jerseylicious

If you haven’t seen it, it centres on the people that work at three different salons in Jersey.  Do not confuse with Jersey Shore.  I wouldn’t watch crap like that 😉  The people in Jerseylicious make me cringe.  I hate their hair, nails, clothes and fake tans.  They’re (mostly) thick as two planks.  But. I. Can’t. Stop. Watching.

Oh…  Maybe that’s why I can’t stop watching.  And they’re all such bitches.  Love it.

 

3. Chick-Lit

I do occasionally read serious books…  But usually, I don’t really want to concentrate too much on what I’m reading – so chick-lit does the trick for me.  I love that most chick-lit books have ‘the perfect man’ in them.  And happy endings.  Some of my favourite authors are Jane Green, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes.  I now buy most of my chick-lit books for my Kindle as we’re running out of space on the bookshelves!

 

4. Photo Organisation

Back in the day, before I had a digital camera, I obviously had to have all my photos printed.  I never put them in albums.  In fact, they were *all* displayed on my walls at school.

Wall_at_school

The above photo is just of one wall.  The opposite wall was filled with a combination of photos and Prince posters!  After my A Levels I had this huge box of photos and didn’t know what to do with them.  It took me hours and hours, but I put them all in chronological order and into albums.  Then I numbered the albums.  

Photo_albums

And I continued to do that through my university days until I got a digital camera (people said I was like Monica from Friends when it came to my photos).  God forbid if anyone *anyone* mixed up the order of my photos!  Having a digital camera is so much more convenient – but I miss putting all those photos into albums!

 

5.  Baby Clothes

From the time I found out I was having a boy, I started buying clothes in all sizes.  Ridiculous, you say?  I had to!  You see, baby was due in September and I needed summer clothes for him.  I was due to go back to Lagos in November/December and I knew I wouldn’t find any summer clothes after he was born.  AND I didn’t know when I’d be going back to London again, so I bought all my 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-9 months clothes for him.  It’s all very practical.  HOWEVER, the guilty part of this is…  I know he can’t possibly wear all the clothes he has.  Maybe only once, if that.  But I can’t stop buying them (oh the shame)…

Cupboard

The above are his ‘going out clothes’.

Hanging_clothes

And these are more… um… ‘going out clothes’

12-18mos

And I just stocked up on his 12-18 month clothes.

What are your guilty pleasures?  Please share!

 

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Looking For A New Job

No, no – I’m not looking for a new job at the moment…  I just wanted to tell you about what happened when I *was* looking for a new job a couple of years ago.  When I think about everything that happened, I know I was taken advantage of and maniuplated.

I moved back to Lagos and started teaching at an international primary school in 2004.  The school is privately owned (and sometimes feel more business-like) and had only been open for a year.  It was small and the staff were friendly and happy.  As soon as I walked in for my interview, I knew that this was the school I wanted to be in.

I was not classified as an ‘expat’.  I was a ‘local expat’, since I had already lived here and was coming to live with my dad.  My flight ticket was not paid for by the school and I didn’t get any excess luggage allowance.  At the time this didn’t bother me.  In addition, my salary wasn’t as high as it was in London (I had already been qualified and taught for four years) – but I didn’t have to pay taxes so it kind of all evened out in the end.  I was also entitled to one return flight to London every school year, paid for by the school.  

I was very happy there.  The school grew and policies were implemented and followed.  It went from strength to strenghth.  And I grew with it.  I received more responsibility and after three years became SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator).  Some colleagues had become my closest friends.

Every year I signed my contract, just checking to see I still had my flight and transport to and from school included.  I didn’t really think about what other people had in their contracts.  The owner didn’t like her employees to discuss these things.  This is, I feel, rather unrealistic and just a little ridiculous.

Anyway, so in January/February time (2009) the new contracts came out.  I didn’t really think much about what was in mine until I heard about my friend’s contract…  She had received a 33% pay rise.  I had received a 6% rise.  Without the amount I was getting for the SENCO position, she would have been earning more than me.  I had been there five years.  She had been there one year.  I had been qualified for nine years.  She had been qualified for four.  She was also being offered an excess luggage allowance and two flights every year.  And (I think) her own apartment.  She had previously shared with two or three other girls.  

I was confused and angry.  Was I not worth that much?  Wasn’t my contribution in the school community as important?  Had I not done enough over the last five years?  Also, I had started to feel a little bored and unchallenged.  The repetitiveness of teaching the same year group for five years was getting to me.  Maybe it was a sign that it was time to move on, and I started looking at other schools.  There is a lot of competition between the schools over here because there are only a handful of good ones.

The school’s biggest competition (at that time) was an American school.  It was a school I went to as a child and I loved it.  I had recently been there for a conference and all these memories came flooding back.  THAT is where I was going.  In the past they only ever hired people with American qualifications, but they had changed that policy.

I got my CV, references (my line manager was the only one who knew I was going for another job) and other paperwork sorted.  I went for an interview.  They called me back for a second interview.  Both went very well and I was feeling optimistic.  Then they called me back for a third interview.  It was on a school day, so I had to rush home to freshen-up, etc.  I arrived early and went into the school office.  

Who was the first person I saw there?  Yep… My current boss!  The owner of the school I was already at!  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me!  She asked me what I was doing there (she was picking her son up from school), and I told her I was just checking out my options.  She didn’t say anything.  

I had my interview and was told that I would most likely get the job and that they would get back to me very soon.  It was a Wednesday.

It was not until the following Wednesday that current boss called a meeting with me to see what was going on.  I explained the situation to her.   She basically said that she had to do what she had to do to keep my expat colleague there.  She obviously didn’t think I would go anywhere…  She knew that we had been trying to get pregnant and said it would be easier in a place I was familiar with, rather than starting a new job.  And that if I needed a couple of days off here and there, we could come to an arrangement.  Then she went on to say that she didn’t think I’d be suited to the other school.  I didn’t have the right personality and that the parent body would have me kicked out because they wanted white American teachers.  She then said that she would have to know very soon if I intended to stay or go so that she could start looking at staffing for the following year.  She pushed for, and I agreed that I would or would not sign by the following Wednesday.  And my salary was slightly amended.

Remember that it was February.  And when I think about it now, I was really dumb.  She didn’t have to know if I intended to renew my contract or not until the Easter holidays.  She manipulated me.  And I stupidly allowed myself to be manipulated.  Probably because she terrified the hell out of me.

I anxiously waited to hear from the other school, but no phone call or email came.  And when the following Wednesday arrived, I signed my contract and handed it to HR.  

The following day, someone from the other school called to offer me the position.  I wanted to weep.  He apologised for not having called me sooner, but he had been in Florida on a school trip.  Current boss KNEW THIS because her son had gone on the trip.

I asked my line manager for advice.  Should I withdraw my contract?  Would that be too unprofessional?  Did I *really* want to start all over again in a new place with unfamiliar people (I’m very shy) and teach a curriculum I didn’t know much about?  Maybe the parents wouldn’t like me?

I don’t know what it was that helped me make up my mind, but I emailed the other school and apologised to them.  I wasn’t able to accept their offer as I didn’t feel it would be professional since I’d already signed the contract.  I was disappointed, but it was the right thing to do.  The school I was in had accommodated a lot of my needs over the years.  They had allowed me time off to travel for my wedding and honeymoon (three weeks).  Plus they’d allowed me two weeks the following year to go to Thailand for my cousin’s wedding.  They’d also given me a day here and there when Hub had booked our flights on the wrong days, etc.

However, I was played.  Big time.  And if I decide to go back to teaching, I don’t think I’ll go back there…  My line manager was always very positive and full of praise for all of her team.  She constantly told us that we were doing a fabulous job.  However, sometimes you need to hear it from ‘upstairs’.  

 

 

 

 

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me

How exciting!  This is the first time I’ve been tagged to do one of these 🙂  Thank you The Boy and Me!

Hmmm… Ok – here are they are.  Ten things you don’t know about me…

1.  I went to an American school until I was 11 years old.  I was offered a job there recently, but turned it down.

2.  I got a tattoo of a butterfly the week before my 18th birthday.  It’s on my ankle.  I also got a tattoo for my 20th, 22nd and 25th birthdays!  They’re small.  Kind of.  Ok, two of them are small.

3.  Two months after getting the butterfly tattoo I got heptatis and glandular fever.  I missed two months of school leading up to A levels.  But I still went back to the same place to get my second tattoo.  Stupidity, I know.  High St Ken Indoor Market (in case you were wondering).

4.  I went to an all-girls boarding school in Kent from when I was 11 until A levels.

5.  I got so drunk on tequila at my 18th birthday party, I fell over in the middle of the street.  I don’t drink tequila anymore.  Ever!  

6.  Hub and I live in the same house that I grew up in.  When my parents left Lagos, there was still a year left on their lease, so we took it over.  My old bedroom is now Vinay’s room 🙂

7.  I cry each time I watch programmes like Oprah or Ellen when people in the audience get gifts/surprises.  It’s because they’re so happy or surprised!  Did anyone see the Oprah when a huge Stevie Wonder fan was singing ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ to the audience and all of a sudden Stevie Wonder appeared behind him and joined in?  I bawled like a baby.

8.  As a child, when we went out, my parents and sister used to hide from me (as a joke).  It obviously upset me a lot.  They still think it’s funny.  I still Hate them for it.

9.  My favourite restaurant is a Korean restaurant in London.  It’s called Arirang.  It’s on Poland Street.  If you ever go – order the barbeque bacon.  OMG *wipes away drool*

10.  I know everyone thinks Brad Pitt is tasty…  But I don’t.  I much prefer George Clooney!

So now… I tag the following:

Kiran’s Corner

Ministry of Mum

motherventing

Mum on the Brink

Mummy Mishaps

Notes by Nectar

Ooh Baby – All Things Cuteable

Coming Back to Lagos

I wasn’t going to blog about my flight (and the events leading up to it) back to Lagos because I’d already posted about my flight to London.  I really didn’t think it could be that different.  If anything, it would be better – because it was a night flight and V would (hopefully) sleep.  More fool me…

I had to buy a new return-ticket from London to Lagos (and back to London).  The price difference between economy and premium economy was really too much – and since I wasn’t planning to take V with me, I bought an economy ticket.

When I arrived in London, I called Virgin and added Vinay to my booking and asked how much it would cost to upgrade to premium economy.  £1500.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but in a moment of madness, I told them to go ahead and upgrade me.  I gave them my card details – not from our joint account, because I already had an inkling that Hub would freak out!

Over the next day, I started feeling incredibly guilty and decided to ‘downgrade’ us to economy again.  I called Virgin.  Luckily, my bank had blocked the payment (thank you Lloyds), since it was a large one and they were able to keep us in economy.  Phew!  

So, two days later it was time to leave (the time went so quickly!).  The day was very stressful – running around Oxford St so I could do VATs, packing (yes, my fault for not starting sooner) and generally stressing myself out.  Once we (my parents came to drop V and I off) arrived at the airport, I spent forty minutes in the VAT queue.  I was so annoyed by the end of it.  While I was in the line, my mum was walking V up and down in his stroller as he was getting a bit tired, hungry and cranky.

After VAT, I went to check-in and was told “the infant hasn’t been added to your booking”.  WHAT?  Apparently this wasn’t a problem, I just had to go to the ticketing counter and pay for him.

While I was there, I asked the man about upgrading to premium.  I had my fingers and toes crossed.  It HAD to be less expensive than £1500.  It was… £314.  YES!  I handed over my card (from our joint account, this time) and smiled.  I felt so relieved.  Every little bit of space mattered.  He processed the payment and then started tapping on the keyboard.  Made a phone call and said, “I’m so sorry.  We don’t have any seats suitable for passengers with infants in premium economy for tonight’s flight.  I’m so sorry – I was looking at tomorrow night’s flight.”  WHAT?  I felt like punching him in the face, but managed to restrain myself.  Just.  It took another 10 effing minutes to refund the £314.

Went back to check-in and the man behind the counter was a cocky bastard.  He flicked through our passports, claiming he couldn’t see valid visas and we wouldn’t be allowed to fly without them (duh).  I found the relevant pages and showed him.  “Oh yes.  Perfect.”  Idiot.  We had five pieces of luggage to check-in (don’t ask).  He tagged all the bags, including the stroller.  I was very undecided as to whether I should take the stroller up to the gate or check it in.  Only because the last time we took it to the gate, it was the very last item to come out when we landed.  We landed at 5am, and we didn’t get it until about 10am.  So, it was a bit of a dilemma.  I had to take it anyway – I didn’t think I could manage a long walk to the gate with the bags, etc.  Plus my arm has been hurting a lot from carrying V so much.  While trying to sort everything out, my mum kept saying in the background, “Ask him to put an upper class tag on the buggy.  Then it will come out first.  Just ask him.”  This was extremely annoying and I did my best to ignore her.  Then she went up to the counter herself and tried to explain what she wanted him to do.  He looked at her like she’d lost a marble or two.  Dad and I were trying to get her to stop talking – but it didn’t work too well.

The last piece of luggage was V’s new car seat – it was already in a carton.  A big carton.  It didn’t fit on the belt, so we had to take it “under the escalator and leave it there”.  When I turned around, the Virgin check-in hall, which had been over-crowded when we got there was virtually empty.  HOW LONG HAD I BEEN THERE?  

V was screaming in his stroller (because we weren’t moving) when we said goodbye to my parents.  (I hate saying goodbye to them, it always makes me a bit teary.)  While we went through passport control and security, he decided it was time to take a dump.  After cleaning him up, I had to go straight to the gate.  No time for duty free 😦  I was hoping to find the handbag I didn’t find in Selfridges!

When we boarded I realised we didn’t have one of those front seats that they usually reserve for passengers with infants.  I was further back.  I didn’t have an aisle or a window seat.  I had one of those effing seats in the middle of a row of four.  WTF?  It was about 9.40pm (ish) by this time.  And V was still quite wide awake – trying to make eye contact with random people and smile at them.  We sat and I watched.  I watched each person walking down the aisle – hoping that they weren’t coming to sit next to me.

They told us to switch off our phones and fasten our seat belts.  And still no one had come to sit in the aisle seat next to me.  YES!  So we had two seats.  When V fell asleep, he lay on the next seat.

However, before he fell asleep, there was a lot of:

Walking around

Watching the two people across the aisle (that had only just met) make out

Crying

Rocking

Walking (again)

Eating Petits Filous at 2am 

I think he slept from about 3 – 5am.  And he slept through the landing.  Thank goodness.

Our luggage, including the stroller, came out pretty quickly and we were home by 7.30am 🙂

I’m still not travelling alone with him for a long time!

We Made it to London! (Part II)

I mentioned in a previous post that:

1. I wouldn’t get my stroller until baggage reclaim

And

2. V had lost 3 pacifiers and was having a meltdown because he couldn’t handle having to stay in one place anymore…

So, 30 minutes after landing we were allowed to disembark.  V had been crying so much, he wouldn’t let me put him down.  Not even for a second.  This meant that I couldn’t get the Baby Bjorn out of the bag.  I couldn’t get it out of the bag or put it on!  So I carried him, my heavy handbag and his very heavy changing bag.

Getting off the plane was a challenge – his bag kept getting caught on every seat we walked past.  And the strap was so long, it kept bumping me in the back of my leg.

And then the walk started.  The walk to immigration was so effing long, I wanted to have a tantrum.  Seriously, Heathrow – think about it…  HOW DO YOU EXPECT PEOPLE TO WALK ALL THAT WAY WITH HEAVY BAGS AND HEAVY BABY?  By the time I reached immigration, I was nearly crying.

While in the queue, V started smacking the arm of the lady in front of us.  When she turned around, I realised it was someone I used to work with.  We had been on the same flight!  She asked me if the baby had been ‘finger-painting in chocolate’.  Eh?  I looked down at myself and realised that I was covered in lint from my pink and orange shawl (it looks better than it sounds (the shawl, not the lint)).  Not only was I covered, I was wearing black and white – so it was very noticeable.  Oh well…

I got a trolley and was going to cry with relief when I got to put V’s bag down on it.  And then I saw my stroller on the belt.  I love the stroller – it’s a Mamas & Papas Urbo.  

Urbo

It looks fab, but it’s not very practical.  It’s a bit heavy and you need two hands to open and close it.  Anyway, so my ex-colleague helped me take it off the belt and she held V while I opened it.  I chucked him in and gave him a biscuit to keep him quiet for a few minutes.  One bag came out.  I was still waiting for two when ex-colleague asked me if she should wait.  I felt bad, so told her to go ahead and that I would manage somehow.  The second bag came.  And then the third.  I had taken V out of stroller between bags two and three because he was cranky and crying.  I put him back in while loading the trolley.  

And then I looked at him in the stroller and at the trolley and had no bloody idea of how I was going to push them both.  

A very nice man offered to help me.  He said they were still waiting for 3 bags, but if I waited – they’d help.  I was too tired to wait any longer.  So I said I’d fold the stroller, throw it on top of the luggage and carry the baby.  But he didn’t know how to fold it down and I didn’t know what to do with V.  So I asked him to carry the baby for a minute and I’d fold it down.  The boy cried like he was being tortured!  But it was only for a second!  

So, carrying V and pushing the trolley with one hand, we started the wobbly walk to customs – trying to weave our way through other trolleys.  Why do people just stop while walking and expect not to be hit by a trolley?

I was so relieved to see my parents I nearly cried (yes, I nearly cried a LOT!).  Then my mum asked if V had thrown up all over me.  That’s when I remembered the lint.

I asked a lot of people for advice on what to do when flying alone with a baby, and now I know what to advise others if they ever ask me.  What I’ll say is: You will be absolutely fine if your baby isn’t very mobile yet.  And you’ll be fine if your child is old enough to sit in his/her seat and watch something on the entertainment system.  If he/she is at that in between stage, DON’T DO IT!

 

We Made it to London!

I was freaking out about travelling on my own with V – but I had a feeling everything would be ok.

So this is what happened…

I started packing on Monday, for myself and V.  It didn’t take long and was, I thought, a little too easy.  There was a lot of stuff I couldn’t put in until the last minute.

The morning we left (Wednesday), I got up at 5am.  Yes, 5.  I was sure there was a lot to do before leaving at 7am, but as it turns out – there wasn’t.  I was quite organised!

There was no traffic and the airport was quite quiet.  Check-in and security was fine.  And V was really well behaved and happy to be in his stroller, which I took up to the gate.  The guy who checked us in said I’d get it straight off the plane.  Yaye!  His changing bag was *so* heavy and I wanted to avoid carrying it.

On_the_plane

10.20am: Take-off.  V sleeping.

11.20am: V wakes.  I put him in the seat and gave him a biscuit.  He spent 10 minutes offering it to the guy next to us and then snatching it back and laughing.  I needed a wee, but knew I’d have to wait.

12pm: Lunch served.  V had already had enough of staying in one place.  I stood and carried him.  Put tray on seat.  Ate salad very quickly and shared bread roll with V.

12.15pm: Put V back in seat.  Knelt in front of him and fed him a Petits Filous.  He refused to eat anything else.

12.20pm: Time has NEVER gone so slowly.  Nappy change.  Thank goodness there was no poo.  At all.  The WC on our side of the aisle wasn’t working.  So we had to go over to the other side.  This meant having to go through the galley.  Which was very busy.  I had to squeeze past carts.  It was not fun and I still needed to wee.

12.30pm: Try and sit back in seat, V had other ideas.  He didn’t want to look at his books or play with the toys.  He wanted to crawl on the floor.  So I put him down and he was very happy.  But then he started picking up all sorts of crap off the floor.  And then he tried to climb over our neighbour’s feet and get into the aisle.  It was time for a walk.  We walked up the length of the plane and back.  People stared.  So then I decided to stick to our own cabin!  We lost a pacifier.  He spat it out somewhere.  

1pm: V sleeps.  Mama sleeps.

2.20pm: V wakes and is ready to move around.  Mama has very bad headache. Tried to get him to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but couldn’t get to the right channel because he was so squirmy.  Gave up on that idea. 

The rest of the flight involved walking, squirming, trying to crawl around and eating more Petits Filous.  He particularly enjoyed the walk to the bathroom, where he banged on the door and laughed.  Then we had such fun pulling back the curtain that separated us from the galley and laughing.  I wanted to lie down and cry.

Back in our seat – he whinged and whined.  But stopped all his nonsense to smile at anyone who walked past him.  We lost another pacifier – he threw it down the side of the seat.  And finally – it was time to land.  V had the last pacifier, which he threw down the side of the seat.  I knew I was screwed.  He was going to scream blue murder at landing.  I distracted him by giving him water and playing ‘open’ ‘close’ with the arm-rest.  Ffs.  The things we do.  And then we had landed!  And he didn’t cry!  

Oh – and during the flight, there was an announcement.  ‘If you had a stroller and brought it up to the gate, you will get it at the luggage carousel.’  Just brilliant.

But it took 30 minutes for the plane to reach the gate.  And that’s when he cried and was inconsolable (and I still needed to wee).

This was, by no means, the end of the drama…