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Henry’s Third

Today our Henry celebrates his third birthday. In keeping with family tradition, Daddy has prepared a year in review video, showcasing the moments, attitudes, and dynamism of our little bruiser. Fittingly enough this third video retraces Henry’s tracks across three countries: Cameroon, England and the USA. What a year his third has been. Henry, we love you!

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Finding Out

I calculated: 12 weeks. I noticed that funny little pooch that I remember getting around 16 weeks the last time. But ah, I’ve been pregnant twice already and I’ve been eating everything and anything since I arrived from living in Africa. So, I put the pooch down to too much fish and chips.

“Are you good with surprises?” Rob asked me.  He was young I found out, 27, but the senior sonographer I later learnt.  We were already looking at one on the screen and he had pointed out a good strong heart beat.  I was in the process of breathing a sigh of relief, as all new expectant mothers do after enduring that time between peeing on the stick to seeing and hearing that first heart beat. Yeh, I’m good with surprises.

Oh goodie, I thought, he can make out the gender. Now, cut me some slack. I’ve just come from living in a place where most people don’t have running water–it’s like being stuck back in time. I didn’t know what advances had been made since I was last in the country. ;-)

I gave Rob a cheery thumbs up and said, “Great! What’s your surprise?”

“There’s two!”

Those words will forever ring in my ears.

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The Green Grass

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

Like the author of the Gospel of Mark, I, too, have an abnormal appreciation for “the green grass” as of this week. Leaving our dry, arid region of the country we made the two-day drive to the capital. What is remarkable about this overland trek is that you have the unique opportunity to start off in near desert and then gradually watch the terrain become greener, wetter, and muddier. Our first moment of new-found excitement came when we saw a river full of water several hours south of our home. We had not seen that much water in one place for months and months. Friends told us to be on the lookout for hippos where we stopped for a picnic on the river’s edge. For us that day, running water was every bit as interesting as running hippos.

Now in the capital, the temperature is considerably cooler, the grass is considerably more existent, and rain is in the forecast. What a nice change to be cold for once. We love the region where we live but also celebrate the refreshingly green grass and the precipitation that fuels it. Not surprisingly the kids’ request to play in the rain was unhesitatingly met with approval.

Why did the Gospel writer include the little detail that Jesus had the people sit down on the green grass? I’m not entirely sure, but I certainly do appreciate it.

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Crafting Peace

I‘m spending a lot of time on Pinterest these days. My baby sister (only 18 months younger) has already found and bought her wedding dress. She got engaged about 3 weeks ago. We had romantic ideas of twirling together in the dressing room as we tried on fairytale dresses. It’s almost 10 years since I did that myself…simply staggering to think how fast that time has gone. I was solo too, just me and Mum. Not sure why. But alas, I’m in rural Africa and my sister is in the heart of London. A little off-putting for our little girl dreams. Next best thing…Pinterest. Why didn’t I come up with the concept of Pinterest…pure genius ;)

I have to let you in on a little secret which I don’t think my sister will mind me sharing with you. I had started a secret wedding board for her a long time ago. You see, my lil’ sis and I have a lot of the same tastes. We haven’t always. She liked rats for pets, I had a hamster. She liked Eagle Eye Cherry and I went through a serious Backstreet Boys phase. But as we matured we started sharing clothes, I would style her for school friends parties, and she would love it! So I had been envisioning her wedding for a very long time. It wasn’t until I was officially let loose with wedding ideas that I jumped on Pinterest and created the most important board: the Dress.

Though bittersweet, the board succeeded at connecting us and she took my advice and went for something absolutely stunning, no doubt. (Obviously I haven’t seen it, not even a sly picy from the changing room). But if there is one person I trust with style, it’s her, because she learnt everything from me ;)

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Tonight I upped my ante on Pinterest. I renamed all of my boards, weeded out accidental pins and enjoyed once again expressing myself through images. I’m so over Facebook. If you want me you will find me on Instagram or Pinterest.

So as I sit here flicking through images of floral jeans and African inspired living rooms, I’m stuffing my face with Parle G biscuits. They are good. They are cheap and all the little packages containing 4 biscuits in each one are attached together. If you want to buy one packet the vendor will rip off one packet. We buy in bulk. So when I go to the cupboard I reenact the part in the movie Grease where one of the girls brings out her album of photos from past boyfriends. That’s me with the cookies. A good swish follows as I whip out my concertina of cookies.

I only had a mango for dinner. Because it’s getting hot here! The heat stifles your appetite as well as your will to live. So by 10pm I’m getting peckish. Pinterest and Parle G, that’s what I’m doing right now.

You see, I’ve decided that more often than not, a person’s state of my mind can be explained through what they’re doing. I was asked a few months back how I was doing. I said “we’re doing crafts.” And as I wrote that into my phone on What’sApp, I suddenly felt like that explanation was enough. It totally summed up in three words the state of my mind, the mood I was in, the state of my household, the mood of my kids, in fact.

When I do crafts I have to be in the zone. I have to be calm, patient, quiet, pensive. I have to be organised, the house has to be somewhat put together and clean enough to warrant sitting down for a while. You can’t do crafts with distractions, not in my house (well to enjoy it at least). Doing crafts is peaceful.

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A few days ago I was sharing this with a friend who is going through a difficult time. She got it, and straight away knew her thing. She said “when I’m in that place I’m making homemade bread for my husband”. That’s it. She totally got it! Some days I wanna go deeper and further down under my duvet. I don’t wanna talk French, I don’t wanna shake hands. You won’t find me doing crafts on those days. I doubt you’d find my friend baking bread either. That’s OK though, right? There’s nothing wrong with making the kids play Snap instead of pulling out feathers, glitter, lollipop sticks and googly eyes for an epic card making fest. And there’s nothing wrong with getting your househelp to make the bread today. Shoot Snap would be the perfect remedy for days when you’re tired and irritable.

I do urge you to seek out help if the craft-making or bread-baking days never come; in other words, if you lose the sense of joy in the things you love to do the most.

So what are YOU doing? What’s your thing? How would people know you were doing well or whether you’re struggling through your days?

Hi how are you?
Fine thanks!

That’s the old me. The new me says,

Hi, what have you been doing lately?

Greetings are big here. I’m nervous that when I go back home the kind lady behind the check out at Saintsbury’s is gonna freak out when I introduce myself and shake her hand. Or the friendly guy at the chippy who gets a shock when I ask how his wife and kids are doing before I order my cod and chips to-go. *sigh*. Community. Being involved in each other’s lives, as much or as little as they/we want us/them to be. Are we losing it or has it already gone?

No, I didn’t do crafts today.