Spring Fling Giveaway Hop - International


Hey, and welcome to the Spring Fling hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Eve's Fan Garden. I am an author of romance novels and I will be giving away to the lucky winner, an eBook of my first novel, A Heart to Mend. The synopsis of AHTM...
Gladys moves to live with an estranged aunt in Lagos and to continue her search for a job. Before long she lands the job of her dreams with the foremost oil company in the city and makes several new friends. She also gradually resolves the mystery of why her aunt previously cut all ties with their family. But the best part about her new life is meeting Edward Bestman.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter Form below. Good luck.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can check out other blogs taking part in the hop below.

The Royal Wedding - One Year Anniversary

Who remembers today one year ago? Everyone, or at least some of us, were glued to the TV set watching either the full wedding ceremony, or later clips of it. I even remember that Ms.Buki (BTW, where is she?) wore a hat for the occasion. In her Royal Wedding post, she confessed that she and her friends dressed up, and she couldn't resist topping off her outfit with the Queen's trademark :)


I personally was cheesing seriously when I saw the clip below in the videos. Well, more love to them. See you guys tomorrow with a proper post. Meanwhile enjoy the pictures.










Images Source

Obama at the White House Correspondent's Dinner

The White House Correspondents Dinner is a light-hearted congregation of journalists, politicians, celebrities, the United States President and other White House people. The President pokes fun at everyone, and the chosen comedian pokes fun at the audience, the President included. Jimmy Kimmel started with a joke about Obama's ears...

Obama winks at a joke about where he was born :)



Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Renew Marriage Vows

Four years and twin babies later, they say "I do". Again. Now I can't forget the other couple that also had the culture of publicly renewing their vows - most of us regular folks jejely do it in our living rooms or bedrooms - annually, but I do like Mariah Carey's songs and Nick Cannon on AGT (he does get annoying sometimes) and wish them the best of love and marriage.


Isn't that just the most romantic thing you ever saw? Eiffel Tower, Paris, here I come...LOL... Enjoy some more pictures below, and do have a lovely, if possible romantic, weekend. Mwah!


Source - Iamnotobsessed.com 

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

MI's Loving Me - Romance Meets Music

I'm not a big fan of rap music but a rap track will often get to me depending on the method of delivery, the music behind the rap as well as the hook, usually a sang chorus. All three come together in MI’s “Loving Me” which is from his new album, Illegal Music 2.


The video for Loving Me was released recently, and tells the story of a young girl who gets tired of an abusive and messed up relationship and decides to love herself. Enjoy.

Jesus of Sports Hall by Lulufa Vongtau

The tragicomedies of living in Sports Hall still haunt me. The male Sports Hall, sited at the very gates of the Sports complex, was originally home to the Defense Academy’s sportsmen. It had however degenerated into a den of the worst blackguards to be found anywhere in the city of Kaduna; blackguards who gave new interpretations to all laws pertaining to survival. It was in this sad state of affairs that my friend Zang thrived.


Zang was what is called in literature, a proper caution; one that looked narrowly upon any laws not created by himself and sometimes, depending on convenience, even upon his own. I still wonder how Zang, the last person you would consider given to sportsmanship ever, came to roost in Sports Hall, but that is another story.

Zang was known by the colorful appellation ‘Jesus of Sports Hall’, but as he was neither skilled in the intricacies of religion nor did he wear a halo, even the least curious mind would have been tempted to find out the origin of this nickname. And I used to be a curious mind in my youth. In Matthew’s gospel, verses fifteen through to twenty-one of the fourteenth chapter, the Lord Jesus fed five thousand men, women, and children with five loaves and two fishes; a miracle Zang was destined to re-enact.

On this fateful day, as is customary for the purse of a cadet without the advantage of wealthy parents, he was down to his last fifty kobo note. Fifty kobo was, in those days before the oil doom, approximately equal to fifty cents, and all hopes of replenishment in a week were, to say the obvious, altogether improbable. Zang called upon his five roommates, who were in the same state of financial lack, and bade them accompany him to the buttery; the home of heavenly, stomach-stirring scents. He had a plan.

“What can you buy with a measly fifty kobo?” one of them, an unbeliever asked.

“Follow me, O you of little faith,” Zang replied mysteriously, preaching a gospel of a full stomach to his mixed multitude, who risked no original remarks.

Of the nine or so butteries on campus, the Sports Hall buttery was a phenomenon unequalled. It was a kiosk with a high counter, behind which a vendor, usually a girl from the suburbs, sat. Before her on the counter were loaves of bread, fried fish, moi-moi and other delicacies, while behind her on the shelves were the more expensive items; canned milk, sugar cubes, canned sardines and the like. Apparently, Zang had kept an eye on the goings-on at the buttery and had noticed a change in its administration.

A few minutes later Zang confronted the new salesgirl, a naïve and trusting soul clearly unschooled in the intricate rules governing conventional conduct in Sports Hall. He looked sincere, with all the airs of a serious prospective customer.

“How much is that?” he asked, pointing to a shelf.

Following his finger, the salesgirl looked behind her, shifting her attention from the high counter. With the speed of a cheetah, he picked two loaves off the counter and dropped them to his feet. His aides-de-camp swung into action, careful enough to be discreet.

“The big bottle of orange juice?” she asked, oblivious.

“No, the packet of cabin biscuits.” Three wraps of moi-moi were translocated.

“Four naira.”

“I can get it for three in Angola buttery.” Two pieces of fried fish disappeared.

“Pay three fifty,” she said, her back still to him.

“How about the macaroni? How much is that?”

“Two fifty.”

“Why are your items so dear? Is your uncle planning to buy a new car?”

The poor girl did not notice all the subversive activity going on behind her back while she craned her neck to call out the prices. Finally, disgusted with him for carrying on and on, she turned abruptly to find Zang in the process of lifting a packet of cigarettes. Smoothly, before she could comment, he removed two sticks, paid for them and carried on to join his accomplices. With a fifty kobo note, Zang did feed six adults; thus his name and regrettably, his reputation.

So, imagine my consternation when a few weeks ago, twenty years after I last saw Zang, he was named among our new supposedly incorruptible ministers. I hear they still call him Jesus.
_________

This was first published on Naijastories.com as Jesus of Sports Hall by Lulu. And was selected for the first anthology. If you love the work of the writers, support us by buying the book.

Naijastories.com is the leading community for Nigerian writers and book lovers, combining elements of a writing critique website and a social networking site. Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains is Volume 1 of the 'Best of NaijaStories' series. The 30 stories featured in this anthology were all originally published on this website between March 2010 and March 2011.

Read on NAIJASTORIES.COM - 200 NSpoints per story

Buy Paperback from the NaijaStories Createspace Store

Buy in Kindle format and Print from Amazon.com

Buy the NOOK version from Barnes&Noble online

Buy the eBook from Smashwords.com

____
**If you live in Nigeria and want the book delivered in PDF to your inbox, please contact admin@naijastories.com for payment details (via Zenith Bank and GTBank).


Abstinence for the Mature Singles

I decided to share this post in the light of this recent post. I believe that if a mature single wants to practice abstinence from sex, it is important to make it a personal decision. Be sure it's not because you're scared of sex, or you feel pressured by society or some particular people to suppress your emotions. Stop looking for passages or verses in the bible to back you up. Don't depend on your pastor to prop you up because God forbid, he/she could be the one you'll be getting down with the next day. Pastors aren't angels or saints.


Part of knowing yourself as a mature single is knowing where you personally stand with sex. Let your reason and unbiased thinking guide you to make a personal decision. That decision could be to abstain completely, and that is fine. That decision could also be kiss, cuddle, or even have sex, and that is OK too. Yes, I mean it. Sex can be beautiful, and it is a natural part of life.

I think the biggest guilt trip for singles isn't that they have sex, but that they think they have failed someone else - Parents, Friends, Society, Culture, etc... rarely themselves. I think this misses the mark because the most important person here is you. There is nothing to be afraid of and you're not dirty if you engage in planned, protected and most important, loving sex, as long as it is what you choose to do. Sex is not taboo, and it is imperative as a adult to root out that mindset.

I've said it here before that I think young women over 25, who have graduated from University should own their sexuality. These are women, mature enough to take care of themselves, who have jobs, and who are independent and emotionally in a place to deal with sex. I am by no means promoting promiscuity but I do support a young lady's choice to express her love for a man with whom she has a serious and exclusive, dedicated relationship.

I'm not underestimating the emotional, physical, or spiritual impact of sex. However, with maturity comes responsibility. As you learn to deal with colleagues, road rage and vehicle licensing, learn also who you are when it comes to sex. I believe getting the issue out of the way helps a woman build the confidence required to navigate mature relationships with men, including  Future Husband (FH) without sounding like she wants to engage in a trade by barter - my hymen for a gold ring - going, going, gone! And to be clear, no one SHOULD HAVE TO kiss, cuddle, or have sex with anyone if they don't want to.

Examine yourself, bearing in mind that sex is something to be enjoyed, and not a duty to your husband, parents, inlaws, pastors or country. Your body belongs to you and you don't have to grin and bear sex, you have to own it. Quit the victim/martyr mentality and take charge. A lot of us grow up fearing sex, either due to false education from parents, or religious indoctrination. Well, you're an adult now. Before it is too late, FACE YOUR FEARS AND CONQUER THEM.

There are various ways to negotiate sex, and you need to have the conversation as early as is necessary - like when starting a friendship, or when your romantic relationship is being defined. During this heart-to-heart with your partner, you can both agree to abstain, compromise on a limit (first base, second, third, etc), or decide to go the whole way.

Choosing one or the other does not make you a saint or a slut, as long as it is your personal decision. If you ever feel forced or coerced at any stage, BEWARE. Remember too, to take care of yourself, and discuss the following with your exclusive partner - health and safety, birth control, your likes and dislikes, etc.

It is great if you can maintain virginity to marriage, but do not come ignorant, or with low self esteem or worse, misplaced virtuous pride. What is more likely to lead to discord in marriage isn't a lady's virginity or otherwise, but the emotional and physical relationship she is able to build with her husband after the wedding/honeymoon is done and forgotten.

And again, it boils down to is communication. What are your communication skills? What do you talk about with people you date? Can you agree to disagree with maturity?

Sex is one of the biggest issues between couples. It can be your strongest bond, or it can be your weakest link. It matters little how good or bad someone is in bed - these things are relative anyway - more important is that a couple can agree on the when, how, why, if and where to do it. And like in most marital issues, it is better if you can start the conversation before the marriage.

Some people prefer to wait for the pastor to moderate premarital counselling for them, that is also OK. However, if you're private and independent, you may wish to avoid the chances of your topic being used for next church sermon. I believe that being able to handle issues without a third-party builds trust and respect between a couple, both before and after marriage. So do talk about sex, have sex if you want to, just take it for what it is, a natural, physical expression of desire and love between two consenting adults.

There are of course no hard and fast rules about relationships, this is simply a personal opinion.

Fairytale Giveaway Hop - The Other Slipper

This hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and features YA Books with a fairy tale theme, or fairy tale retellings. And so I present to you, The Other Slipper by Kenechi Udogu. One random winner will receive an ebook copy by answering the question at the end of the post.


AND THE WINNER IS TecknicoleurGrl

The Other Slipper is a twist on the Cinderella story, it is not really a retelling, rather it weaves another story thread and new characters into the fairy tale. Jo is a teenager who is present at the dinner where Cinderella meets the prince. Things take a magical spin when Jo stumbles onto Cinderella's glass slipper and has to return it, leading to a journey of adventure and self discovery. The author tells it better...

1. Tell me more about the book, and what inspired you to write it.

I’ve always liked the idea of reworked fairytales, folklore or myths where back stories are explored. We get so used to hearing the versions we were brought up with that all it takes is a slightly different perspective to turn a story into a completely different animal and give readers something else to cherish. The idea for The Other Slipper came to me a few years ago when I was heading home from work and misread a sign for a café called “The Other Side” for “The Other Slipper”.

What happened to the other slipper on the night of the ball Cinderella attended? Did someone else find it and keep it or did it never get mentioned after the ball? I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head and even though I did some research and discovered what the true story was, the idea had stuck.

The Other Slipper is an adventure story based on the idea that Cinderella’s glass slippers were part of a separate enchantment. A young palace worker, Jo, finds the other slipper on the night of the ball and realises that something isn’t right with it. She soon gets drawn into an unexpected quest to unite the slippers and return them to their rightful owner. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to her. I really enjoyed writing the story and I hope readers enjoy the experience as much as I did.


2. Please share a brief interview between you and your favorite character in the book.

Kenechi:  Ehem, good evening sir, you appear to have been travelling a long way with your two companions. May I ask your relationship with them?  
Locke: I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty to share that information.
Kenechi: Why? Are you on some kind of secret mission?
Locke: Ha! That’s not a very bright question, is it? If I was, would I tell you? Ha, ha. 
Kenechi: Eh, no. I guess not. But ever since you three came into town, we’ve noticed that things haven’t been quite the same. It feels like energy is being drained from everyone – people, livestock – the horses are particularly restless. Surely this can’t be a coincidence.
Locke: Are you accusing us of some form of sorcery? I’d heard you people were superstitious but if this is the way you treat strangers in your town. Jo, Ron, I think we’ve overstayed our welcome here.
Kenechi: But sir…
(Sound of chairs scrapping on stone floors, feet shuffling away, then silence)


3. Spotlight your overall favorite fairy tale character and why?

I’m not sure I have a favourite fairytale character but I have a soft spot for the three goats in Three Billy Goats Gruff. They were cunning, resourceful and funny at the same time (the version I heard as a child was on a sing-along LP so this might have something to do with it). But ask me this question next year and I’ll probably have a different answer. My “favourites” tend to change over time.

Where can readers find you and your books?

To be eligible to win this book, state your favorite fairy tale hero in the comments and the book where they appear.

Below are other blogs taking part in this giveaway hop. Good luck!

How I almost fell for a GTBank Email Scam

If anyone had asked me about my vulnerability to bank email scams two weeks ago when I received and trashed a GTBank Scam Alert email, I would have scored it zero. When it comes to phishing scams where you are supposed to go somewhere and fill in your details, I considered myself sophisticated and above all that. I used to think, I've been doing this internet thing for ten years now, they can't get me.


Well last weekend, they almost did. I had recently opened a GTBank Non-Resident account which I could use from here through internet banking and had little complaints. Funny enough, I had mentioned to Atala that I felt they were too security conscious. Logging into my account online was like going down to the bank vault, there were so many locks and bolts, pincodes, passwords, secret questions, tokens, etc...it took almost 5mins and compared to the one-minute transaction on my account here, I was chaffing.

So you can understand why when two weeks ago or so, I recieved a scam alert email from GTBank that read something like the one below, I moved the email to trash immediately, thinking to myself, these people have come again.

Our attention has been drawn to mails being sent out by fraudsters, requesting for such sensitive information as Internet Banking Account and ATM Card Details. Some of these mails also request that customers update their account records by clicking on links to fake Internet banking and Interswitch websites. You are hereby advised to ignore these mails and Do Not respond to them; as such mails were not initiated by Guaranty Trust Bank plc or Interswitch. 

I was to rue my blase attitude mere days later. Now, let me give you some background. I have a couple of emails for personal use, one I use solely for official purposes and the other for more personal stuff (this-and-that). I am sure you can guess I opened the account with the official one. Well, since I opened the account my this-and-that email has been flooded by GTBank related phishing emails. Unfortunately for the senders, Gmail shunts them immediately to the Spam folder, from where I send them to the hell where failed scam go.

So how come I was almost duped?

Good question.

What happened this time was that the scam email was sent to my 'official' email address. Not only that, it was sitting pretty right there in my inbox. Add to that, it appeared to come from GTBank, and not with the same ruse as the ones I had previously received. And their tactic played into my fears. Instead of simply asking that I verify my account by clicking a link, it said my account had been suspended.

Dear Valued Customer,

We regret to inform you that access to your GTBank Online Account and Atm Card has been temporarily limited due to several failed log-in attempts. To restore your account please log in correctly by downloading and Filling the Customer Security Update form attached to this message. After downloading follow the directions for instant activation of your account and Security information. NOTE: FAILURE CAN RESULT TO PERMANENT ACCOUNT SUSPENSION.

Security Advisor
Guaranty Trust Bank © 2012.

There was no frills and thrills so my mind thought, this must be real. Since I hadn't used my account in a few days, I was wondering, who could have tried to access my account? They must have been the scammers I had been warned about. I told myself I had to act quickly.

I downloaded the form, and clicked it open to fill it in with my details.

That was when reality hit me. I felt like someone poured cold water on me. At that moment, I could guess how people felt who had been duped - my cousin rushed home from the market, took all the money at home and handed it over to some stranger. It only dawned on her while she was recounting this amazing opportunity to another person that she had been duped.

For me, those few minutes it took to read that email and download the document, it was like I had a veil over my eyes. Opening the document stripped it off. With BELLS. Reason being;

1. It was an online form - but with file///
2. It was asking for everything - in addition to bank details, it wanted my phone number, email address and email password

As the alarm bells clanged in my head, I took a deep breath and let it out. Leaving this document open, I went back to the email and expanded the details of who it had come from. What do you know, that GTBank front name belonged to email address gholmes@howard.edu

I laughed at myself and shook my head saying to myself, "Myne, no one is above phishing scams, be careful." This is to you guys out there. Always check out where your emails are coming from, and in the words of the GTBank Scam Alert email;

Please note that your Internet banking account, your ATM Card details and PINs are confidential to you and must not be disclosed to anyone. Guaranty Trust Bank plc and Interswitch Nig. Ltd will never request for your ATM card details or your PINs.

I almost didn't share this post cos I felt so stupid, but Atala changed my mind. Has anyone else been in the same boat with me? I do hope no one has been duped for real but if you have please share so we can all keep learning. Have a great week and thanks so much for the comments yesterday. I will keep you updated.


Dear Myne - It is Difficult to have Sex with my Husband!

Hi Myne, I will really appreciate your help and that of your readers who I believe are very mature and experienced, and they are respectable too. The last is the reason I have the boldness to share this very sensitive issue with them, yes, please...I want this to be published on your blog in addition to your response too. I am at a crossroads and I am about to lose my mind.


I've been married for going a year now and yet I have not been able to have full relations with my husband. And before anyone goes off on the wrong bend, it is not a fault of my husband... he is willing, able and ready. Can I say the fault is mine? I don't know. I am in my twenties and I was a virgin when I got married to this guy that I really love...I am a Christian and had stuck to no sex (or anything) before marriage as I believed that saving myself for marriage was the better way.

My then fiancee, now husband agreed with me, he was a member in the church youth group and that was where we met...we courted for about a year before our wedding and both looked forward to having fun on our wedding night. It's now like we were both mistaken, and plain unrealistic. I don't want to blame our religion for this, but after almost a year, it is hard not to!

I recall when we went for pre-marriage counselling, the pastor just briefed over sex and just said we need to be on the same page. Since this issue started, I have only spoken to one married woman I admire in our church, and she couldn't even look at me as she mumbled that I should simply relax, and maybe I should make sure the lights are off.

It's also really hard for me when my friends and family ask when we intend to start a family, or close girlfriends tease me how as newlyweds we would be all over each other all the time, you know what I mean...I just want to cry because how can I tell then that we could not even do it. I just feel so alone, I could not even  tell my two best friends.

Maybe I should explain what my problem is. I'm sorry Myne, I hope this is OK to put on your blog. Put simply, my legs just keep closing, and the main part, my husband joked that it is padlocked. (I'm really lucky in this man, but I fear he will get tired of me one day.) He jokes about it, and even when I laugh, I don't find it really funny. During our honeymoon, we tried so many times in the first few days but by the end of the week I was just too sore so we stopped. Till today, my husband has not been able to enter me at all. I think part of the problem is that I'm so nervous from all the stories of pain I've always heard about the first time.

To combat this nervousness, what have we not tried? We attempt about once a week because I'm just so nervous and somedays my husband is too tired to even put in the effort to seduce me. But when we do try, we have used different kinds of lubricants and pain killers. One day, my husband even sneaked local ogogoro for me and got me drunk good and proper. That didn't help...my husband said, I kept begging him not to do it and then cried myself to sleep afterwards.

Myne, I'm crying again now. What am I going to do, some of my friends that we all got married at the same time are already pregnant and I want some children of my own too! Again, I thank God that my husband is so patient and loves me as I am...he says we will pray and work it out together...that God that asked us to be virgins will see us through...but I'm beginning to get impatient and scared too. For how long do I expect him to be patient? And this is not fair to him at all. This is not what he signed up for, I know that.

I was so frustrated at a point that I told him that he could just annul our marriage or even find a girlfriend...oh yes I was at the end of my tether then! He said he never would cheat on me and that I should not mention it again...but that day was after another failed attempt and I just fell like I have lost all hope. You must understand that this is very frustrating because it's like I've waited all of my life to have sex and now that I am married I can't do it. I just feel like all my waiting has been all for nothing. Sorry, I'm rambling on but I just feel like I have no one else I can trust to talk to about this...I'm too ashamed to tell friends and family.

I have gone online to seek answers and have bought some books on Christain intimacy and yet, this problem remains. I heard of vaginismus and what are called spacers but I can't get those from here in Nigeria. And they sound so unchristian, how can I be putting something else down there? I don't even use tampons! This is so embarrassing but I just hope that someone reading has some practical advice. Thank you so much!

______

Well, here we are. I was thinking I would never get any more Dear Myne emails and then this one came in. I did a quick search and it seems this scenario is not so uncommon. I am really looking forward to hearing from you guys on how to save this loving marriage.



Minku Designs Marks Anniversary with Giveaway

Minku is a leather goods company started last year by Nigerian designer Kunmi Otitoju. They are based in Barcelona, Spain, and with a branch in Lagos Nigeria. They design and hand-make leather goods that inject fun and uniqueness into everyday life. For more information about products and updates on their new collections, please visit their website.


To celebrate their first Anniversary, Minku Leather Goods is sharing this opportunity for readers to win the amazing product in the picture above from the new Minku collection which will be showcased on their website from April 25. Click to read full details...

To enter for the Minku giveaway , all you need to do is:

- like the Minku Facebook page,

subscribe to the blog

- You can do both to double your chances of winning.

A random selection will be made on the April 25, 2012 to determine the winners, who they would contact and send their leather product to. Good luck!

Destination Weddings - Stephanie and Linus Idahosa

Some pictures just make you go awww. Stephanie Okereke got married yesterday in Paris and her wedding pictures are now everywhere on the interwebs. The photos I think are really beautiful, with what is most important, a happy, smiling couple.


The guests are also looking great, Bellanaija is reporting that there were about 400 of them, which included several Nollywood actors. I was reading somewhere whether small weddings were possible in Nigeria, where guest lists usually start from 200 and run up to thousands, or if one had to have a destination wedding in order to minimize the number of guests.

But I wonder about destination weddings, don't they come with their own palava and expenses - travel, lodging, etc? I am thinking that if you keep the invitations low-key, and stay away from extended family and social groups, you might just work out a small wedding in Nigeria.

My own church wedding/reception in Nigeria had at least 500 people in attendance and that was because we had split the guest list over two days. A similar number has attended the traditional wedding the previous day. Left to me, I would have had a small wedding, but our parents are the social types and it made us happy to honor them that way, especially as they supported us a lot in the planning as we were both outside the country. All the wedding activities went without a hitch and everyone was happy.

That said, I can however see the appeal of exclusive, invites-only weddings, whether in Nigeria or at a destination outside the country - has anyone considered a Nigerian destination wedding - like Obudu, or Abuja if you both live in Lagos? With such a wedding, it is likely you know all the guests personally and you can cater with a specific number of people in mind, helping to keep expenses within your budget.

So what about you ladies and gentlemen - if married, which one did you go for, and did it meet what you wanted? If you're not married yet, which do you prefer and why?

BTW, you can see more pictures of the Stephanie Okereke wedding here.

Fighting Chronic Diseases in Nigeria - Ebele Mogo

Ebele Mogo is a reader of this blog who lives and works in Alberta, Canada. She also loves writing and two of her poems have been published in Sentinel Nigeria. Ebele is also the founding President of Engage Africa Foundation, a non-profit focused in health development.


Ebele is the only Nigerian contestant applying for a grant called Canada's Rising Stars, a program aimed at rewarding the creativity and skills of promising Canadian innovators' efforts in solving chronic health crisis in 3rd world countries.in which she is . The grant, if she wins, will financially support her to raise awareness of chronic diseases and advocate for health conscious policies in Nigeria and the rest of Sub-saharan Africa.

To do this, she needs as many people as possible to create an account on the website and give her video a thumbsup. The more thumbsups she gets, the more likely she is to be considered for this grant. I hope you can all help her by going to the site, registering, and voting for her.

You can also share this on your social media, facebook, twitter, etc and ask others to vote and pass it around as well. Ebele Mogo wouldn't like to miss this opportunity to have the funds and support that would enable her to help tackle such diseases as diabetes, heart attack and hypertension in Nigeria.

Thank you so so much. Here is the link to the video

Weekend Pictures - The Space Needle Seattle Center

I can still remember the first time I visited the Space Needle here in Seattle. It was first summer here in 2009 after arriving during a dreary and drizzly spring and I was so ready for some sunshine. And where best than at the iconic Space Needle that I had seen in movies like Sleepless in Seattle, among others.


Since then, I have visited the Needle several times, including eating at the restaurant, going out to the observatory, watching movies on the lawn, and using the cultural and recreational facilities around the center. And to think the Space Needle and some of those facilities are 50years old.

MSN News - Created as the centerpiece of the 1962 space-themed exposition, the 605-foot-tall Space Needle has been described as looking like “a UFO on stilts” and was for many years the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Today, the still futuristic-looking Needle is an iconic landmark in the Emerald City, its most visited attraction and home to one of the few remaining rotating restaurants in the world.

It is definitely somewhere I gravitate to once I drive into the city and I have some great memories of it in the past three years. Enjoy some more of the pictures from that lovely first day. We might actually be joining the Seattle Center for festivities this weekend. That is, if the weather is OK. After another very rainy spring, I really can't wait for summer..















Moving in: Are You Ready to Live with your Man?

Yesterday, we were discussing co-habitation, and today I have a guest post on the same topic. Erica St. Claire looks at some ways to help you decide if you're ready for the big move.


So you’ve been dating for a while and the idea of moving in with your boyfriend has been presented. This can be very exciting as moving in together allows an the opportunity for the two of you to grow closer by sharing a key, a bed and the same roof.

But because moving in together also involves sharing more serious things like rent, bills, groceries, and a slew of other obligations, if done without proper consideration, moving in with your significant other can result in broken leases and even broken hearts. So to make sure that your relationship doesn’t go straight to hell in a U-Haul, be sure to ask yourself the following questions before committing to packing your bags and picking out paint colors with your new roomie:

Do you spend most of your time together?  If you are at your guy’s place six days out of the week and your own apartment is basically one extremely overpriced storage facility, then moving in with him might make a lot of sense.  Living with another human being isn’t always easy—but when you can spend a large chunk of your time outside of work with your man and for the majority of it you truly enjoy each other’s company without either of you feeling suffocated, then there is the likely chance that your new living arrangement will be a successful one.

How do you resolve conflict in your relationship?  There is no surprise that communication between couples is one of the most important ingredients to mixing up a healthy relationship. And because there are bound to be misunderstandings, tiffs and even a few fights in any healthy relationship between couples who reside together, openly communicating to resolve such conflicts is essential. So that arguments with your man aren’t the knock-down, drag-out kind, make sure that the two of you have established a solid technique for resolution that enables you to effectively handle any issues which may arise that are bigger than just leaving the toilet seat up or forgetting to take out the trash.

Are you moving in together to save money?  If your answer to this question is yes, put down the listing to the new apartment you and your man are eyeing and step away from the Realtor. In today’s frightening economic climate, people everywhere are doing anything they can to save a buck or two. But when your idea of embarking upon a cohabitating relationship is fueled by the idea of pinching pennies, you aren’t moving in together for the right reasons. Sure living by yourself is more expensive financially, but if you aren’t in love and ready to commit to a permanent relationship in a joint household, then you could wind up paying more than expected in a situation that is more expensive emotionally.

Can you compromise on where to live?  Making the decision to move in together is no doubt a big one, and it comes with big compromises—one of them being the compromise of where the two of you will actually call home at the end of the day. Sit down together and carefully consider whether to move into his place, your place or start someplace new.  When moving into a home in which one of you already lives, there is risk of the original occupant feeling smothered and the new roommate risks feeling like it is not as much their home as it is their partner’s. If it reasonably coincides with your circumstances, throw said risks out the window and move in to a brand new place for you and your man to build a home together from scratch.

___________

Erica St. Claire is a guest post author who enjoys writing about dating and relationships. Erica also writes for Best Christian Dating Sites where she offers her tips for safe online dating to the Christian community.

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop International

This hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and One A Day Y.A. April Showers, they say, bring May flowers and so I will be featuring GoneReading, who are dedicated to providing showers of books to libraries and reading-related charities around the world.


GoneReading markets a unique collection of gifts for readers, and donates 100% of after-tax profits to charities like ReadGlobal in Nepal and and Ethiopia Reads. In the United States, GoneReading is currently piloting a fundraising program to raise money for public libraries. If you represent a public library in the U.S., you can read more about their library fundraiser opportunity. Please also check out their store for several amazing products.



For this giveaway, Gonereading are offering any one item from the store up to $25 to a lucky winner in the US, or $20 to Canada, the U.K. or Australia. To enter, use the rafflecopter form below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


This is a hop with more than 200 blogs signed up to giveaway something a book lover, author, or blogger would enjoy. Follow the links below to enter their giveaways as well. Good luck!

Cohabitation, an alternative to Marriage?

When I told Atala about the recent news about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, he asked; "I thought they were married?" No, they aren't, and even with this engagement, marriage is not assured. It's interesting that it is their children who are very keen for their parents to get married, probably from what they see around them, from friends, classmates and other sources.


Now Atala is not alone in thinking Pitt-Jolie are married, what with them having been together for seven years and having six children, both by birth and by adoption. At the same time, the couple are not the only people who fore-go legal marriage and go for co-habitation.

This type of cohabitation goes beyond just living together for a few years as a test-run for marriage, or with the goal of getting married and then starting a family. In this type of cohabitation, some couples just rule out marriage in the short term and dive straight into making a home and having children together. They either do not believe in marriage as is, or they think it will harm their relationship.

This is in contrast with one or two older couples I know who got married in their forties and fifties when they already had grown up children. Their own stories were along the lines of, "we simply couldn't afford a marriage when we were younger" or "My family did not accept her/him and we just eloped." These group of people are not flat out against marriage like the previous ones.

But they all still make me wonder, is it really necessary to get married? After all, there is what is known as common-law marriage where after living together for a number of years, a couple's arrangement can be legally protected. In some places like the UK, I hear co-habitation is becoming more common, either as a matter of convenience for some, or as a pathway to marriage for others.

Whatever the reason for cohabitation, I think it's imperative to have a conversation with one's partner about what it means for both. If the goal is marriage, as it often is for many women who cohabit, then this should be reflected, with a conversation on goals, expectations, etc. A recent article on the New York Times pointed to lack of such a conversation as the major downside of cohabitation.

Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.

WHEN researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken - even unconscious - agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. Source

The article above believes that cohabitation is here to stay, and suggests things that couples intending to live together can do "to protect their relationships from the cohabitation effect". However, while commitment may have gotten a new definition for some people who choose to live together first, I think it will be a while yet before marriage is overtaken by cohabitation.

Corruption in Nigeria - James Ibori is Sentenced

There was some sense of gotcha! when I heard this morning that James Ibori had been sentenced to 13 years in prison. Ibori was once governor of Delta State where my parents are from and currently live and unlike other governors before and after him who had been fingered for corrupt enrichment, I knew for sure that this guy was no innocent. It would indeed have been criminal if he had gotten away.


I had been following the case right from when he was going through the Nigerian Justice system and then when EFCC picked it up. But those don't have a very good track record, and it was hopeless to think he would get more than a 6month sentence - remember Tafa Balogun and Cecilia Ibru? Worse, he may be released to fan fare from a rented crowd, ala Bode George. Even if some of his wealth was taken back, he would have more than enough to soon get back to "come-and-chop" politics.

Yes, I didn't expect much from our Nigerian courts but it was still painful that he was quickly cleared of all charges and released. When he was arrested in Dubai and extradited to Britain, I thought now maybe Deltans would get some real justice, and started keeping tabs again. I almost blogged about the case when his camp put out that rubbish press release after he pleaded guilty saying he only did it to save the image of Nigeria. What a load of tush!

Well, Ibori, admitted to 10 counts of conspiracy to defrauding and money laundering, and today the former governor of Delta state has been jailed for 13 years for fraud totalling nearly £50m ($77m). I even agree with the prosecution who argued that the amount he stole from the people of Delta state was "unquantified". I won't be surprised if the guy has some millions squirreled somewhere. The hope is that since some of his cohorts were also arrested, it was a clean sweep.

One of his friends, Nigeria's ex- international soccer star, John Fashanu acted as a character witness for Ibori during the court proceeding, stating that the former governor had built several mini-stadia, a couple of  olympic sized stadia, a golf course and a shooting range in Delta State. I don't blame him, he probably had some nice time at the expense of Delta State people at the last two places.


To be clear, the small Asaba stadium was indeed contracted to be renovated and the capacity increased to Olympic size. After the millions voted and disbursed, the stadium is still under construction up till now. The golf course Fashanu referred to is situated inside the State's Government house and is only open to the governor's guests. Ibori and fashanu are such sports supporters, yet the Sports Club in Asaba is as dilapidated as anything. From what I heard, the only stadium the Ibori tenure managed to complete in his hometown, Oghara, is of low quality and is already falling apart.

The scary thing about corruption in Nigeria is how those who are involved always have friends. These governors, ministers and other government officials who mismanage or out-rightly steal public funds are parents, brothers, uncles, aunts, friends, mentors and philanthropists to some people. It is these people that will ensure they get off the hook whenever they are indicted, and throw parties when they're released. Even if they throw scraps our way, can we not see that we're harmed in the long run?

Anyway, Ibori's sentencing is a small step. Maybe corruption will become less attractive to those who are paying attention. It should never pay to steal.

Communication is not Mind Reading - Atala Writes

I believe that the secret to a great relationship is good communication. Usually, the way to do this is through simply talking. This works pretty well in the majority of cases. The trouble is, sometimes you – or your partner – might not be much of a talker, like Myne. Aren't you surprised?


Back to the subject. There might also be a difference in what you say to your partner and what you mean by what you say. Even more confusing is where you do say what you mean, but your partner interprets what you say completely differently.

Most of this is down to our different backgrounds and upbringing, and it is only through consistent communication and through living and learning together that a couple can tease out more about each other, and how they both think on different issues and situations.

For example, there were times in the beginning when I’ve assumed that Myne is thinking about one particular thing. Then I’ve gone ahead and acted on that assumption, only find out that I was wrong – she was thinking something completely different. The reasons for my mistaken assumptions are for another blog post, but if I had asked her about them first, that would have spared us a whole lot of confusion.

But these episodes have not been in vain. They've certainly brought home to me the importance of knowing – not just assuming – what someone is thinking. If you do know, you know exactly what to do to make them happy, and vice versa.

At times like these, it sounds like it would be a great idea to be able to read someone’s thoughts. Then all miscommunication would be at an end. No more futile guessing, no more unproductive questions – you would just know what they were thinking. So this would herald an era of peace, love and understanding in all relationships, right?

Erm... no. For one thing, reading your partner’s mind might tell you what they’re thinking, but it not provide all the context around that thought. So you might know that they are sad, but it might not tell you why they are sad, or the depth of the sadness. And there’s no telling just how off target your reaction to their thoughts could be without the rest of the information about their thoughts.

Then there’s the question of whether your partner even wants you to be able to figure out their thoughts so directly. Maybe sometimes, they want you to tease the thought of them out so that it serves as a reason to talk. Or maybe they are genuinely uncomfortable about sharing information right away, and would rather wait to share it in their own time.

So even if maybe one day, it will be possible to read people’s minds, it’s doubtful if people will willingly let their minds be read. I certainly won't want anyone fiddling with my mind.

And we’re back to good old-fashioned talking as a way to let your partner know what you’re thinking, and them letting you know what they’re thinking. It may be messy; it may not always be accurate; but I think that if you really love someone, you won't baulk at smoothening the edges of the conversations you have to find out what each other is thinking.

The beauty of it is that the more you talk, and the more you get to know each others feelings, personalities and dispositions; the more it seems you can read their mind for real. You find that you don’t even need to say so much, so that one day, your conversations go like this:

Myne: “Hm?”
Atala: “Mm-hm.”
Myne: “Hm-hm.”
Atala: “Hmm.”
Myne: “Hmm-hm.”

You want to know what that conversation was about? How should I know? I’m no thought reader!

No Strings Attached Giveaway Hop - International

AND THE WINNER IS SARIKA!

This giveaway is tagged "No strings attached" for a reason. You don't have to do anything to be eligible for the prize except leave your email in the comments. You can also simply say hi and leave out your details if I can contact you via your profile.


To flag things off, this is me saying hi. We've gone halfway through April and I hope you've been having a good month so far? Whatever the case, here's to wishing everyone better days ahead. I will be giving away an eBook copy of A Heart to Mend to the lucky winner. Good luck.

Gladys moves to live with an estranged aunt in Lagos and to continue her search for a job. Before long she lands the job of her dreams with the foremost oil company in the city and makes several new friends. She also gradually resolves the mystery of why her aunt previously cut all ties with their family. But the best part about her new life is meeting Edward Bestman.

You can check out other blogs taking part in the hop below.

Are women our own Worst Enemies?

This is an often repeated question, and one that has come up in some of my conversations and some I've seen around the web recently. Why are we women the worst critics of each other? And I'm not talking constructive criticism here, but nit-picking of the most bilious kind.


Omotola Jalade, a well known actress who has been working in the entertainment industry for over 10 years, still has her age and looks questioned, and yesterday got into a heated Twitter exchange. No one can deny that such unwarranted stabs can be very irritating. Thing is, most of these comments are from women. Especially online where they can be anonymous, women go around spreading poison to other women, even ones they don't know.

Some have blamed these sorts of woman-to-woman attacks on how the society we live in has conditioned women's behavior by denying them of real power over time. This powerlessness results in low self esteem, and the belief that men are out of bounds but not other women as rivals. Some psychologists point to evolution and insist these subtle or overt hostility between women is genetic and stems from competition for men, and for resources for our children.

No matter the genesis of these traits in us, I am of the opinion that at this stage, we women should be more self aware when dealing with other women. Let's regard each other less as rivals than as partners in a society that is still not the most conducive for us. We were limited in days gone to our looks or being able to get married or have children but times have changed a bit since then.

Now, we can get educated and we can have careers, in addition to having marriages and children if we want. In the work place as well in the public sphere, we can actually help each other excel. Let us focus less on how good or bad we look, or how a more beautiful woman will get more attention, or how we can put an  ugly one in her place. Let us think on ways we can support each other.

Ashley Judd in promoting her show, Missing, was harassed by the media for looking "puffy". She replied on the Daily Beast, decrying the culture where women join in to tear down other women. She writes;

The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.
...

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. ... A case in point is that this conversation was initially promulgated largely by women; a sad and disturbing fact.
....

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about?
...

How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women.
...
Some high profile women have taken up that call immediately, and very publicly too. We indeed can be models, mentors and partners instead of enemies. Beyonce recently posted an open letter on her website addressed to American First Lady, where she praised Mrs. Obama as “the ULTIMATE example of a truly strong African American woman.” She added, “I am proud to have my daughter grow up in a world where she has people like you to look up to.” Michelle Obama soon tweeted back. "@Beyonce Thank you for the beautiful letter and for being a role model who kids everwhere can look up to. -mo" As you can imagine, I was absolutely thrilled by this exchange. I admire Beyonce a lot and Michelle Obama inspires me.

This post is my own way of continuing the conversation. I have also tasted that Hollywood coolaid of remarking on people's looks, especially women. But it's never too late to have a re-think. We need to learn to compliment and support ourselves. This is the only way we can become better people and make the world better for women. Like Ghandi said, we should be the change we wish to see.

Weekend Pictures - Passing Through the Navajo Nation

As summer approaches with the hope of time off work and maybe a vacation, I was looking through the pictures from our road trip last year. Looking at them again, I'm glad we did the whole cross-country thing. Driving was definitely a pain sometimes, but the payoff was worth it. America is a very diverse country with a tapestry of many Peoples in its history.


It was interesting finding out about the Navajo Nation as we passed through Arizona and Utah, on our way to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Navajo Bridge which spans the Colorado River and which we could walk across. There was also a small museum, gift shop and restroom. Perfect for a stop-over during a grueling road trip. And a great photo opportunity too.














Elsewhere on the Web