Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Completing the puzzle

The curtains move gently with the breeze in Leo’s bedroom. It’s a small but beautiful space and I can’t stop myself from walking in and moving things around a little.  It makes me smile that he has a room of his own, but equally I’m aware of how grown up it all suddenly seems.  The walls and floor are newly painted and a large white mosquito net hangs gently from its wooden frame like a whisper.  The transition from our bed to his cot happened last month when we were in the UK.  One evening I spoke nervously on the phone to Chris about him going into his own room when we returned to Africa - was it something we were ready for, was it too soon and could it be the other room, not the one that we now use as a snug that we painted orange for Ella?  Our baby boy barely resisted as we lay him gently in his cot in his pale green room on the night we landed.
The rising sun spreads her silky fingers of warmth across the garden and over the exotic flowers, streaking everything in a rich glow.  The sky is already blue with the odd dot of white cloud bobbing like a balloon against the backdrop.  Leo is sleeping, rolled onto his side with his toes resting on soft cuddly toys, the little tips poking through the bars of his cot.  My eyes prick with tears as I watch him, and holding my breath I move carefully backwards as the big world continues to spin her morning magic outside the window.  My baby, my big baby is approaching 9 months old and I continue to feel a growing love like no other as I cradle the moments of his being.  I pinch myself that he’s here, our precious pot of gold.
The rest of the house is starting to fizz with the energy involved in packing for our safari north.  We’re heading to a part of the country where it can get so hot you can fry an egg on the bonnet of your car and a large hat is not enough – ouch!  Chris was due back this afternoon but has rung to say he’s up to his knees in plumbing so wont make it home until tomorrow.  We’ll load during the night and head off first thing Friday morning with mosquito nets, bedding, food supplies, lanterns and decorated gourds – the final additions for the lodge.  He’s carefully prepared a room for us in Murchison where we will spend our 1st Christmas together as a family, overlooking the Nile.  From the high bank we’ll seek out hippos floating in the water and capture elephants on camera as they wander to the edge to drink. 
It’s been nearly 20 months since I was there and I can’t wait.  It feels like the beginning of a new phase and in a way I suppose it is, we’ve been waiting for this moment a long time and finally our two big dreams, Leo and Murchison River Lodge, are due to meet.  We anticipate a big roar of approval from the lion and for Chris and I?  it will be like putting the final piece of the giant puzzle tightly into place. 
We’ll be without internet access for a while so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays one and all X
(Mary, I’ll be sure to pack the sensible footwear for elephant running)!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Naughty or nice? Give me bad as hell

Having become a mother I now appreciate the fact that most people have an opinion about what you’re doing when it comes to raising your child.  Whether they’re a parent themselves or a casual spectator the comments come forth - some are truly lovely, some full of experience, others err on the wrong side of not.

A friend casually took a bottle of my expressed liquid gold from the fridge and was about to give it to Leo because I was on the phone and she thought he was hungry.  Another suggested I ‘wasn’t going to be one of those mothers’ when I stopped her from relentlessly feeding Leo a piece of steak at 4 months old.  There’s also the odd comment about his clothing and him being too warm, and is he doing A, B or C yet.

Speaking with a friend on the phone the other day she asked whether I was feeling broody due to several couples recently announcing their pregnancy news.  Broody?  No, because I’m wrapped up in nurturing Leo, but a part of me sometimes wonders whether we will ever find ourselves conceiving naturally again or if he will have a sibling to grow up with.  I don’t know what the future holds, but having waited so long for our baby boy to arrive we’re strong enough and focused enough to give him a great life regardless of the outcome.

She randomly ploughed on and asked if I’d read or heard about a recent article by the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) which I hadn’t (and I have no need to).  Apparently it suggests couples who have one child and fail to get pregnant through IVF (or similar) with a second are far more distraught than those who fail to conceive at all.   I stared hard into the phone, ‘WTF.  WHY ON EARTH ARE WE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION?  I know women who are distraught regardless!  And the thing is you’re a mother who falls pregnant easily, you also know my history and you know if I were to become pregnant ever again (probably through medical intervention) the odds are my womb will rupture and both my baby and I could die.’

But I didn’t say that because I didn’t want to offend her with my pissed off tone, so instead I mumbled something about catching up soon and then spent the rest of the day growling.  Sometimes I wish I could let rip with both barrels when someone says something that’s insensitive, wrong and rude and if Father Christmas wants to know if I’ve been naughty or nice well I’ve been nice, but there are those days when I wish to high heaven I could be bad as h.e.l.l.

Friday, December 16, 2011

M25 pit stop

Leo and I made it back to Uganda on a flight that had the little guy charming the hearts of everyone.  I was quietly nervous thinking it could be the day flight to end all day flights, especially as we tick tocked towards 8.5 hrs of Leo and all 10.9kg of him squashed onto my lap.  But it was plain sailing and he didn't put a cheeky foot wrong, not even when we found ourselves thrust into the middle row on an aisle seat miles back from the bulk head (which I'd specifically confirmed over the phone - damn you BA and your lying ways).  

It's now six days since we landed and Chris and I remain in awe of our first class passenger - he was literally born to travel which can't be said for his mother.  Early last Saturday morning as we hurtled towards Heathrow around the M25 I needed to go the loo so badly I nearly fainted.  I finally managed to persuade Pod (my stepfather) to pull off at the next junction which he was initially against (with much huffing and puffing) as with only 20 miles left couldn't I just wait?  NO I COULD NOT. 

I think what finally changed his mind was my face turning red from lack of oxygen so he yanked the steering wheel and we found a road leading into a dark and dingy lane.  I clambered from the car, wet wipes in hand, and darted to the nearest bush.  This particular spot was a fly tip and the area littered to the beaming full moon and back with rubbish.  It was so awful I mentally held everything in and instead weed like a racehorse.....right next to a plastic kettle.….

When it comes to needing a pit stop, quite literally, I'm your girl.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The lodge in progress

Chris has just been back in Jinja and emailed a few photos of how the lodge in Murchison is progressing - it's looking incredible.  He's up against the 'in time for Christmas' clock, but it's all looking good and I reckon he'll do it unless there's a horrendous storm that washes the mud roads away or the place gets trashed by's extreme, but extreme is always a possibility up there.

The bar/restaurant viewed from the river Nile

Bar viewed from the firepit

Bar terrace

Family cottage - still to be painted and furnished

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daddy Is My Hero

The 3 weeks Leo and I have been in England the phone calls between Chris and I have been hit and miss.  He's often unable to get a mobile signal in the bush unless he's standing like a flamingo on a termite hill and when eventually one tiny bar appears on that little screen and the call connects we shout like crazy people at one another and then the line drops out.  BAH!  It's frustrating, but it's ok as we'll see each other in 5 days time when he collects Leo and I from Entebbe airport.

In the meantime I've been emailing him photos of Leo who is changing by the minute.  On Saturday morning he revealed 2 spiky bottom teeth, he's becoming more determined to shuffle his 10.9kg body across the floor and his hair...well, it's more wispy than ever :)  The two photos below tell daddy like it is and the last one shows him wearing Chris's old Afghan Pakol hat.  It's a hat from way back when he used to drive and guide tours through the Middle East and into Pakistan and India.  It holds fond memories for us both and it seems Leo enjoys the scratchy woolly feel of it against his little pip. 

Like father, like son.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

HOWLING with laughter!

If you have a dog, know someone with a dog, grew up with a dog, have no interest in dogs.....

Dog or no dog this short clip of a dog chasing a herd of deer in Richmond Park (London) who in turn is being chased by his owner is absolutely worth watching!!