If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I love the IG story questions feature, and regularly do Q&A sessions on the app. I’ve started to get way too many questions that can be answered in stories, so I decided to instead answer them on the blog! This way, I cover more questions and have more searchable questions here. I also realized that I often get questions in the same theme, so I’ve categorized them for clarity. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, and if you didn’t, feel free to do so next month!
Is Kenya in general in a frantic mood in the COVID-19 atmosphere like the rest of the world? Is there quarantine?
I wouldn’t say things are frantic, but things are definitely very different. The day the first case was announced, people rushed to supermarkets in panic and cleared them out of bread and toilet paper, but supermarkets now are fully stocked so that hysteria calmed down. The streets of Nairobi are quieter as some people have gone to their villages to hunker down, schools and restaurants have been closed, public gatherings banned, and there’s now a curfew starting at 7pm. All air travel is canceled, and people who had arrived on recent flights were placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days. People have been advised to self-isolate, social distance, and work from home if they can. The number of cases is still pretty low (less than 50 in the country as of today), so I don’t think people are really panicking yet from a health perspective. There is concern economically as a lot of people who work informally selling in markets or as day laborers won’t have income for however long this suggested self-isolation continues.
What are you and Jonathan up to during this quarantine period? How are you saving your friendships? How are you keeping busy during this tumultuous time?
We both are still working, so not much has changed in our day to day. We do try to connect with friends and family more, and probably call or video chat someone everyday. There isn’t a sense of urgency with our work since everyone has kind of slowed down, so we’ve been able to spend the evenings cooking together and watching Netflix (in the past 2 weeks we watched 100 Humans, Queen Sono, and are making our way through Jane the Virgin). We did have a candlelit dinner date on Saturday which was nice! Plus you know, there’s a whole baby who keeps us occupied. In my free time I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and trying to work on some home decor projects in the nursery and office, though a bunch of things have been delayed due to shipping.
How has it been going through this so far from your family and with a small baby? Has coronavirus affected your postpartum mood?
My mom was supposed to come and visit us in mid-April, to spend time with the baby but also to allow us to travel for a weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. That obviously can’t happen now which is very frustrating, but I’m grateful we live in a tech era where I can still see them virtually often. The uncertainty of not knowing how long this will last is the most frightening thing, as I never envisioned them having to be apart from their grandson for this long. My mood is usually ok during the day, it’s in the evenings after putting the baby to sleep that I sometimes get down, so hopefully he isn’t absorbing any of my sadness.
What simple at home protective styles would you recommend for quarantine?
If you can cornrow or flat twist, do that, and just wear wigs or turbans for your Zoom meetings and grocery runs. Mini two strand twists are also a great option, as are pinned updos like this or this. If you have a crochet hook and extra hair, or can order some, crochet braids will also last a few weeks.
What’s your silver lining in all of this COVID-19 madness?
I have two. One is that most of my friends from back in the US are now at home, so it’s easier for us to connect and talk in a way that we couldn’t so much before due to time zone differences. The second is that this has reignited my love for public health and my belief that the work that I do, even though unrelated to COVID, is important.
Public Health & Grad School
What kind of public health work do you currently do?
Since I finished my PhD, I’ve taken some time off to focus on the baby, but now I’m working on a journal article for publication from one of my dissertation chapters. I I’m still unsure if I want to pursue academia, but I am considering apply for postdocs in the fall and want to try and at least have a publication in review to bolster my application.
What advice would you give to a student majoring in public health?
Public health is SO vast and has a ton of applications. Try to take courses in a variety of areas – statistics, epidemiology, health education, policy, social determinants of health, global health, etc – to better understand what aspects of public health you love.
What are the best careers you would recommend to explore in public health?
Again, there are so many different career options, and I can’t say which is better for you. It might help to narrow down whether you like working with people (ie, a health educator) or with numbers (ie, a state epidemiologist), with chronic diseases or infectious diseases, with policy or with implementation, with adults, with children, or with special interest groups (migrants, LGBTQ, the imprisoned, etc). Figuring out those interests may make it easier to narrow down possible careers.
Any dissertation writing tips, considering I have a newborn?
Bless you! My biggest advice would be to get your baby on a schedule if you can, so you can have some predictable work time. We started implementing a schedule around 3 weeks, and used advice from Contented Little Baby, Becoming Babywise, and Baby Sleep Site. There are two times in the day when our baby sleeps for over an hour and a half – from 12ish to 2ish and again from 7-11pm, so I reserve those times for work. Once you have the time allocated, these tips might help for being productive.
Relationships & Marriage
If you were ever in one, how did you leave a toxic relationship despite having feelings?
I was in a toxic relationship for the first three years of college. I wish I could say I left, but I was actually dumped! But the embarrassment of being broken up with despite knowing that I should have been the one to end it was enough to keep me from going back. I recommend a clean cut – no communication, blocked online and on the phone, and you can ask one of your friends to hold you accountable and be your sounding board so that anytime you’re thinking of reaching out or going back, you talk to your friend – sans judgment – instead.
What are 3 practical steps to dealing with heart break?
- Cut off communication for as long as you need to get over it
- Appreciate that the person was in your life for a reason and a season, and identify the things they taught you about love, life, or yourself while you were together
- Completely focus on yourself. Relearn who you are, what you love and are passionate about, especially all the things you put aside while dating. Read scripture, do daily affirmations. Fall in love with yourself.
Why do you become so needy after a breakup?
Sometimes when we date people, we engross ourselves so much in them (or the idea of them) that we lose ourselves in the process. If you don’t know or like who you are on your own, you’re bound to try and return to someone who made you feel “whole”.
My boyfriend treats me well, but he has little ambition. I’m not sure if I should marry him.
A good boyfriend doesn’t automatically make a good husband. If having ambition is something you envision being important as you think about your life partner, then he may not be the one. If that’s not important to you, then ok!
How did you meet your husband?
We went to college together! Here’s a cute little anecdote from those days.
How did you know your husband was the one?
I answered that in this post!
How did you find the inter-country marriage? Any challenges faced with the different cultures? Did you do a Luo trad wedding and Igbo trad wedding?
Aside from it taking my parents some time to get on board, and a bit of back and forth between the families about where to have the wedding, we didn’t have any intercultural issues around the wedding or marriage. Both cultures do a dowry and an introduction/meeting of the families, so we worked with the similarities and tried to have as many elements of each culture as possible. We had a Luo Ayie ceremony beforehand, and an Igbo traditional wedding on the same day, then later traveled to Nairobi, Kisumu, and Umuahia to celebrate with our respective village people.
Can you please share your wedding video to YouTube?
Our wedding video is here!
What has been your favorite part of marriage?
I love when Jonathan teaches me things about myself. Having a personal cheerleader is also wonderful!
Parenthood & Baby Names
No question, I just admire your decision to keep the baby anonymous.
Thank you! I am pretty transparent about my life, even though it’s sometimes emotionally exhausting, so it’s nice to have this one aspect be just for our family and close friends. Although I love having an internet presence, the internet is a crazy and sometimes mean place, and I just don’t have the energy to subject my kid to any potential negative comments, creepy pedophiles, or even people just using his image without credit. It’s one thing when I experience those things and can process them myself, but if someone ever said anything about my child, I’d have to find them and fight.
What did you name the baby and what are the meaning of his names? Is your son’s name Kenyan, Nigerian, or more English?
He has four names (a first and three middle) on his birth certificate (haha yup, we did the most!), so all our cultures and languages are represented. All his names have significant meanings that allude to our pregnancy journey.
How’s Jonathan coping post-baby?
Idk why the word coping tickles me, but I asked Jonathan to answer for himself and he said “I’m pretty good!”. LOL
Are you having to deal with any postpartum depression?
Thankfully no. I have an amazing support system, my mom was able to come for a few weeks, Jonathan’s mom is nearby, and I have friends who are moms so I’m not navigating this by myself. Our kid also isn’t too fussy, and Jonathan works from home so he can share the burden of childcare with me (and our part time nanny!).
How have you managed to get your baby to take naps when he should?
We put him on a schedule from around 3 weeks, where he eats, plays, then sleeps. Now he has a routine that we follow, and I can usually identify his sleepy cues before he gets overtired. My tried and true nap time strategies are swaddle + pacifier + gently rock him while tapping his butt.
What baby products work best for you and Baby Kola?
From diapers to bottles to pacifiers and swaddles, I answered that in this post!
What has been your favorite part of motherhood? Most surprising thing about parenthood?
My favorite part is watching the baby develop new skills. It’s really just amazing, and reaffirms my belief that God created us because there’s really no other explanation for how babies figure out how to do things without anyone telling them! Most surprising thing is kind of related. Although there is a lot of things that parents can do to improve their kid’s development, babies kind of just figure it out. For example, I was beating myself up because we didn’t really do tummy time for the first 10 weeks, because the kid would cry immediately when put on his tummy, but at 12 weeks I randomly did it and his head came right up like he’d been doing it the whole time! It made me relax and realize that as long as I love, feed, and clothe him, he’ll probably turn out ok because God already wired him to be able to do everything he needs to do.
Are you planning to have more children?
God willing, yes!!
Blogging & Influencing
Do you answer all DMs that you receive or you ignore some based on if it makes sense to you or not?
There are so many factors that go into whether I answer a DM. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with an influx and just can’t get to them – I always have 99+ DMs in my requests. Sometimes it’s just a comment like “cute,” so I don’t answer those if there are other questions to get to. Other times I’m in a mood and won’t respond because there is no greeting or hello in the message. The best way to get me to respond to a DM is to say hi and have a clear question. Or you can shoot me an email – emails rarely get lost the way DMs do!
How do you use Lightroom presets on your phone?
The new Lightroom CC app should allow you to sync your photos from your computer to your phone. All the presets I’ve purchased work on Lightroom Mobile, and I *think* Denisse’s download came with instructions on how to use on mobile. But it might have been one of the other girls, I don’t remember!
Which theme do you use for your blog?
Currently, I use Maryline by Pipdig. Other theme recommendations can be found here.
Life & Advice
Did you and your family move to Kenya permanently? How is Kenya so far? Are you enjoying Kenya? Do you regret moving to Kenya? Did you experience any culture shock once you moved to Kenya? What do you miss most about the US?
All those answered here!
Is racism and police brutality in the States as bad as it seems? Any experience with racism in Europe?
Yes. You learn to live such that it’s not at the forefront of your mind every second of every day, but it’s so embedded in the fabric and culture of American life that it’s hard to ignore. I have only visited Europe a few times and didn’t experience any racism that I can recall during those times.
Can Jonathan talk about his work?
He’s currently doing tech consulting and building his own start-up (direct quote from him lol). Some of my newer followers might not realize, but Jonathan wants no parts with the internet and social media, so if you want to know anything about him, you’re gonna have to find out the good old fashioned way and meet him and ask in person.
If you could turn back the hand of time, is there any life experience that you would undo? Or would you keep everything the same and embrace each challenge or experience as is?
I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason, so I wouldn’t go back and change anything, except maybe I would have waited until marriage to have sex.
What’s your favorite family recipe?
Rice and stew!
Have you ever tried laser hair removal? Would you recommend it?
I’ve had it done twice as complimentary services but it was always too expensive for me to justify really committing to it. I do have a bunch of dark marks around my bikini line from ingrowns back before I used hard wax so I have considered laser hair removal more so to address those.
Any advice on procrastinating?
Break your task down into mini tasks, work in 20 minute intervals, and do the hardest thing of your day first. Oh and put your phone on airplane mode.
How was it like being 20 for you? Knowing what you know now what’s something you would have told your 18 year old self?
20 year old me was a junior in college, was knee deep in a toxic relationship (and then dumped), and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life all while putting on a bold face and being president of an organization. Sis was struggling, but we made it! Advice for my 18 year old self would be to sit down, face my books, and ignore boys lol.
Where do you get your blazers?
My classic blazers (white and black) are from Zara, and I also have some from Express, ASOS, and Nordstrom. I’m trying to buy black this year and blazers is one of the things I’m struggling to find!
Updated skincare routine please.
Coming to YouTube within the next two weeks, already filmed it!