2016: The Year I (almost) lost Funanya

These Past few months, my baby girl has taken to a pastime. Climbing. She climbs Daddy’s shoulders when he’s asleep, she climbs her reading table, stools and even other furniture in the living room. She climbs the stabilizer so she can get onto the freezer. Then her curiosity drove her to start climbing window sills. That was when I knew that I had to start paying attention. She would climb a window sill, pull on the sash to open the window and put her head in between the window guard and out the window.
At first, her mother and I would bring her down. We started giving her some form of punishment or the other when she persisted.
Every night, I wake up around 3am to attend to matters while her mother wakes her up to pee.
One particular night, the Holy Spirit literally jerked me out of bed earlier than usual. My eyes were just getting accustomed to my phone showing 1:30am when I heard a sharp cry from the living room. I ran towards the noise to see my child stuck in between the window guards. Apparently, she had climbed the window sill, pulled the sash open and now hung out of the window. She was trying frantically to put her head back in but she couldn’t.
All that kept coming out of my mouth was “thank you God” as I gently helped put her head in before carrying her back to bed. I sang her to sleep and dozed off myself holding her legs for fear of her pulling that stunt again.
The following day, I told her mum what happened and she suggested getting the carpenter to place wire-protectors around all the windows. This we did.
This morning I woke up to this. Apparently, she hasn’t learnt her lesson. 

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NINE MONTHS ON… MEMOIRS OF A FIRST TIME FATHER

Watching a life grow every day right before your eyes can be very enthralling to say the very least. Seeing your baby ace her milestones as and when due; literally seeing the beauty grow in her as she babbles away leaves within you a mixed sense of wonder and gratitude.
They say, Fatherhood changes a whole lot of things about you but they don’t teach you how to be ready for that change. You can be ready for a career, a relationship or even marriage. You can even be ready to be the supportive husband while you are both expecting a baby but how ready can one really be for the least possible responsibilities of fatherhood?
For example, no one will teach you how to carry or even hold your neonate in your arms. Few days after Ifunanya was born, I still didn’t know how to carry my baby without fear of crushing her if I held on too tight or dropping her if I had too loose a grip. If you are lucky enough to have a baby who sleeps through the night without a feeding then good for you because no one will teach you to wake up late at night to feed the baby or bathe her in several times in a day. And don’t even get me started on the baby diapers and baby poo!
Everything you think you know about how to take care of a baby is nothing compared to when the time comes for the practical sessions. And the fact that your parenting skills may be called upon so suddenly leaves much to be desired from a frustrated father. Trust me, there is always a reason for your baby crying. The biggest mistake you can make as a father is to think your baby enjoys crying. At that age, there is no such thing as a naughty baby. So for me, when Ifunanya cries, I ask myself when last she was fed, bathed and cleaned up; if she felt sleepy and yes, seeking attention is another legitimate reason to cry.
Feeding for her is a necessity which can weigh so much on you and your pocket. There were times I wished I could assist my wife in the breast feeding. I could help with other chores but when it was time for food, I would observe my sometimes exhausted wife as she nursed our infant. When it was time to introduce baby formula to her, we didn’t hesitate.
It became vital to create a budget solely for baby food. We tried to stick to it but how do you tell a hungry child that you have exhausted her food rations for the month? You don’t ask why 400gramms of baby milk should cost more than 900gramms of infant cereal, you just make sure they are very well available and console yourself in the huge end result before you: a big and bubbly kid.
We have never had any reason to take her to the doctor except for her routine immunization schedules ofcourse. Seeing those baby teeth when she smiles is just heaven. She would stand for a while or move around upright while holding on to a piece of furniture before sitting down to pick up things that she can put into her mouth.
I still do the dishes and laundry and occasional cleanings whenever I can though and sometimes, when I am overwhelmed with work, that is my cue for a nap. I cannot kill myself. It’s called fatherhood and not a death sentence.

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2015: Why Nigerians Must Vote

Not many people know that apart from the usual presidential elections held every four years in the United States, elections are also held every two years for Congress which includes all the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and about 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Yesterday, it was a massacre for the ruling party as the Republicans secured control of both chambers.

Mr Obama now faces a herculean task of executing most his projects in the final two years of his tenure.

In an historic election which produced the first black female congresswoman and the youngest elected female congresswoman, the Republicans are set to question and scrutinize every move the president makes thereby ensuring equity and accountability.

Once again, in a country where there is high regard for democratic institutions and the rule of law, the masses have exercised their franchise by rooting out corrupt officers as well as those who haven’t performed very well.

Can the same be said for our country, Nigeria?
A country characterized by high level corruption and poor performance with insignificant progress and nothing to show after so many years?

February 2015 is close. Only time will tell.

SO YOU WISH TO BE A PROVERBS 31 WOMAN?

For many years, Christian women have looked to the noble or virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 as their ideal woman.

The writings apparently inspired by a woman of course, must have been something so important that it was worth reciting in every Jewish home every week on the eve of the Sabbath.

But what about today’s woman?

What relevance is this aged piece to every woman, whether single or married; young or old and even single parent who want to identify with this woman?

How does one relate this so called poem to the various, complex existence of today’s woman?

Well, for starters, we know that she is not the stereotyped full-time house-wife occupied with daily house hold chores and living her life according to a dictator for a husband and numerous demands from the children.

On the other side of the spectrum, we see that she is not a difficult, complicated, attitude-problem woman who is ready to sacrifice family on the altar of career.

So if she is not any of the above, then who exactly is she?

If the bible would choose her over one of the world’s most precious stones, then she really must be something.

Let us look at the attributes of such a woman.

1) She is first a godly woman. Her primary concern is God’s will for her life.
2) She is virtuous- meaning she is a woman with strong, uncompromising, moral convictions.
(Vs. 10)
3) She is a good Manager. She is dependable through the good times and the bad. Her man not only trusts her with family resources but she knows how to be prudent with those resources. (Vs.11-12)
4) She is hard-working. And yes, she adds to the family income. (Vs.13)
5) She is an employer of labour and caters for the welfare of not only her family but also those of her employees. (Vs. 15)
6) She is very good at planning with efficient foresight. (Vs. 16)
7) She is an Entrepreneur.(Vs. 18)
8) She is also a philanthropist.(Vs. 20)
9) Her support and contribution to the family gives the man a good name and goes a long way to the success of the family. (Vs. 23)
10) She is wise. Members of her family can attest to her character and she can be vouched for. (Vs. 26-31)

The remarkable attributes exhibited by this woman are such that every woman today can and should emulate but most importantly, the focus of it all is that she is a woman after God’s heart and who understands her purpose in life.

My Person

I recently dropped a smart-phone I had been using since 2010. It had been giving me issues for quite some time now. It seemed to have a mind of its own. I had grown fond of it through the years and yes, it just didn’t seem right to me as at that time to “throw away” some hard earned cash just to get another one.

I took good care of it as much as I could but by February of this year, with all my “pampering”, it just couldn’t carry on any longer.

The phone died- literally.

I was faced with the realization of finally “arranging” that hard earned cash which I didn’t want to spend initially in replacing a dead phone with a new one. Halleluiah somebody!

Just like that phone, almost every other thing we come in contact with gives us value for which it was gotten in the first place only just for some time. Eventually, it outlives its usefulness and expires.
People expire too. That is why as we grow older, we begin to have fewer friends and close confidantes. Some outlive their relevance in our lives and we have to let them go; sometimes with difficulty.
However some come into our lives and stay. They usually start off as acquaintances. We meet at awkward positions and most often in bizarre circumstances. There is a connection as they cross the thin line to become our friends. We hang out so they can get to know us better. They fill our lives with so much smiles and laughter, making life interesting as each day go by.

Along the way, we let our guards down and let them in, this time deep into our hearts. These ones qualify because they are genuinely happy to be with you. They have shared moments with you; whether good or bad. They are able to see through all your rough edges. These ones understand you for who you are.
Yes, there may be fights every now and then but these ones are matured enough to look past the fights, and reconcile instead of keeping grudges.

But it still doesn’t end there. If you are as blessed as I am, you will be quick to notice that particular friend that stands out from the others. This friend inspires you. The both of you rub off on each other and you always strive to become a better “somebody”. This is not just your friend but also your “person”.

Then you two find out you have a lot of things in common. You share the same ideology and goals.

All of a sudden, you start developing feelings for this person. You just cannot wait to hang out with this person and when you do, you just want time to stand still so that you can …well, spend more time with this person.
Then you realize you truly love this person.
I finally found myself in this position few years ago after some bit of fumbling along the way. I saw a very good thing and I liked it. I nurtured it and it didn’t expire as with other things.

No it did not. Instead it flourished.

The whole experience was like fine wine, becoming sweeter and sweeter with time.
I took it a step further and asked my “person” to marry me. And six months after I popped the question, we got married.

The greatest thing a man can do to the woman he truly loves is to make her his wife. But my person also taught me that the greatest thing a good woman can do to the man she truly loves is to make him her husband. To love, respect and adore him like no one can and ever will.

Today makes it three weeks since she did just that. This is simply me “not despising little beginnings”

To my person, I am very privileged to be your man. I will forever be you number one fan.
I love you SHARON .O. AZUBUIKE-OSU

DEMYSTIFYING ORAL HEALTH

Ever since my days as a Dental student, I have observed that most people do not look forward to seeing the dentist. And as a lover of good movies, even the good old action flicks have succeeded in portraying dentists as sinister characters; playing on the fear many people may have of seeing one and getting dental care.

Few years on and still in the practise, this perception still persists. Studies about the most loved or hated professions are often not kind to dentists.

While it’s true that visiting the dentist isn’t exactly at the top of things I do for fun, it usually isn’t that bad. Understanding the facts about your teeth can make visits to the dentist more bearable.

So here are my top ten of dental myths as observed in the course of practise:

MYTH 1; Whiter teeth are healthier teeth.

FACT: most times, my patients tend to think that they would look better with whiter teeth but teeth aren’t meant to be pure white. Brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste and flossing helps keep the teeth as white as possible. Avoiding food and drinks that causes staining such as tea, coffee and red wine will also help to keep them white.

MYTH 2; Dental cleaning will make my teeth whiter.

FACT: Professional dental cleaning removes food debris, plaque, calculi as well as stains from tea, coffee and red wine making the teeth cleaner. You may wish to discuss with your dentist if you want to whiten your teeth.

MYTH 3; the only cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene.

FACT: The majority of bad breath is caused by poor brushing which leads to gum disease. Other causes of bad breath include smoking, systemic diseases like diabetes, large dental infections or abscesses.

MYTH 4; there is no need to brush milk teeth.

FACT: Instituting good habits early in life helps ensure life-long dental health. Brush your baby’s teeth twice daily from the moment the first tooth is seen in the mouth.

MYTH 5; I shouldn’t brush my teeth if my gums are bleeding.

FACT: bleeding gums are often caused when plaque and food debris is not properly removed by regular brushing and flossing. Healthy gums don’t bleed. Proper brushing and flossing twice a day will help correct this. If bleeding continues, see your dentist.

MYTH 7; A hard bristled toothbrush is best for cleaning the teeth.

FACT: brushing too rigorously with hard bristled toothbrush may cause teeth wear leading to sensitivity. A soft or medium bristled with the right technique of brushing will best clean the teeth.

MYTH 8; Chewing gum is bad for your teeth.

FACT: this is my favourite myth. Chewing gum of any kind increases saliva production which helps to clean the teeth. However chewing sugar-free gums in addition to cleaning also discourage the growth of bacteria that cause tooth cavities.

MYTH 9; I do not have any dental pain. Regular dental visits are not necessary for me.

FACT: routine visits and dental checks are necessary. Finding and treating dental problems when small and do not cause pain is a more bearable, comfortable and less expensive way to take care of your teeth.

MYTH 10; Avoid all dental treatment during pregnancy.

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THE PUSH PRESENT

“What exactly are we looking for Sir?” Sam looked askance as the driver pulled right in front of the third Auto dealership.

“How many times will I describe this particular car to you?” I replied,” I really can’t remember the name but I know what I am looking for and I’ll recognise it when I see it.”

Sam is my P.A; a very hard-working one at that. I had called him at 3am this morning informing him that he would be going out with me to get a new ride and five hours later, he was already at my doorstep – on a Saturday that he should have been resting after a very stressful week with me.

What we had thought was going to be a walk in the park was now turning into a whole day’s trip after spending over six hours searching for this particular ride. I could see that he was exhausted and possibly hungry as we had set out without having breakfast.

“I thought you said you knew all about cars?” I teased.

“I do sir. It’s just that the description you gave is quite vague.”

We walked into the showroom and this brawny sales-rep with the name “Greg” written boldly on a gold-plated badge walks up to us. After exchanging all the pleasantries, he proceeded to taking us around.

“Why are we getting a new car Sir? You have quite a few already”continued Sam

“This one isn’t for me. “ I smiled, “it’s for my wife. You know she just gave me a son.”

Sam’s face lit up with a smile.

“Oh! I see. Madam just put to bed and we are getting her a gift?”

Greg overhearing our conversation, muttered with a smile, “congratulations”I returned also with a smile.

“Exactly”

“Like a push present?”

“A what?” I asked with a confused look written all over my face.

“A push present, Sir. You want to get her a push present to celebrate her new status as a mom.”

“Well, I guess you could call it a push present.”

The confused look was replaced with a smile as we continued our search for this car. Sam suggested we check out some other rides which were also cool but I wouldn’t budge. It was either this particular one or nothing else.

You see, my wife, Ifeoma is a car freak. A couple of years ago, while we were yet still dating, (we dated for a year by the way and got married the following year) she had mentioned her dream car, going on and on about the cool features it had and how she would give an arm to get one. After our wedding, she had pointed out that same car to me again and I had resolved within myself to get it for her.

But the early years of our marriage weren’t without challenges. First my mother never approved of our wedding. She just didn’t like ifeoma’s face (That reason made no sense).
Then came her inability to conceive. She became pregnant in the second year of our marriage and our joy knew no bounds. Then one day I got back from the office to be told by my gateman that she had been rushed to the hospital bleeding.
On getting to the hospital, the doctor confirmed my fears. There had been a miscarriage at 23 weeks.
If I was devastated, Ifeoma was crushed. She wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t talk to me.
But I knew what she was going through. I took some time off my business and nursed her through the mood swings. Sometimes,she would sit on the couch all to herself,brooding.

It took a while but she got back to her cheerful self.

We tried not to give too much thought to having children but by the fourth year of our marriage, our concerns became palpable. We started visiting hospitals and fertility clinics getting various opinions and undergoing different tests. The results all came back the same. There was nothing medically wrong with us. Then her mother would come visiting, bringing with her various herbal concoctions for her to drink. Then came the frequent visits to the “Man of God” for prayers.
We tried everything.
Finally, exactly after four years, God answered us with a child. My son.

Just then, from the corner of my eyes, I saw it. I beckoned to Greg and Sam.

“Nice. Spacious interior, powerful and efficient engine. I’m sure she will love it.” Greg said.

“Interesting choice sir” agreed Sam.

I smiled as I looked at my watch. We finally found our Push Present.

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