Category Archives: I have two girls

Inching towards Christmas

Oh where have I been?

While the hills of Kampala were strewn with yellow clad runners in yesterday’s Kampala Marathon I was ticking things off my list and cooking dinner for 19 people. Yes 19. Nothing like confronting the fear of invites with one whole swoop of people. And it all went off fine. As the sun set, I lit candles, we all sat outside and admired the blooming garden, hammocks were swung and people chatted quietly as they munched on the best brownies in the world. Thanks Nigella.

Today Princess will step onto the stage and perform her rendition of Veruca Salt. There has been much apprehension and shower singing and now, when the glitter is glued on,  backdrop nailed, lines learnt and costumes sorted where is young Princess? In bed nursing a fever. This bad luck simply must pass and the show must go now, not just today but tomorrow and all week as the KADS Pantomime opens Wednesday night and both Princess and Trooper will be donning mice outfits and dancing to Cinderella’s Work Song. Trooper, who is 13 and much too old for this sort of thing is mortified and has threatened that if any photos of her replete in mice ears and tail appear on Facebook she shall report the photo for abuse.

In less than two weeks reports shall be written, books put away and shreds of party paraphernalia swept away as Term 1 comes to a close. Yes Camp Hormone closes for 3 weeks and the inmates are all sent home, as are we the teachers. I am awaiting Christmas Spirit but it has not yet made its entrance into The Villa. Without chilly climes and snow it is always hard to get the feeling. I might have to pull out the Christmas Music CD and rock around the tree. Once we pull it out of its box in the garage. Sacrilegious: fake trees. But what to do? A Ugandan Christmas it shall be. Round two.

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Where have I been? On Mars?

( Photo:Trooper walks to school)

Yes I know I have been quiet. Things at Camp Hormone however have been busy and that has been stealing my attention and time away from all the fun over here at 3limes.

So what else has been going on? I know one of you is interested because I got a concerned email.

Trooper has turned into a sports fiend. Once a week she wakes up at an ungodly hour, before it is even light, and heads out to jump into a cold cold pool to do laps. From where did this girl appear? Handsome Husband has gallantly taken it upon himself to do early morning swim drives. As he so nostalgically put it:  “If I was in Canada I might have to be up and driving to Hockey! At least I am not standing in a cold rink holding bad Tim’s coffee.”  Well put, I thought. Then in the afternoons she can be found chasing a ball around a soccer pitch. I, being the unsupportive mother who has little faith in her football abilities rudely posed the following questions:

“Did you foot actually touch the ball?”

“And did your foot actually move the ball?”

It appears she is rather good. So she has obviously not inherited my attitude towards school field hockey: A great excuse to stand around and gossip.

Saturday she spent the entire day pool side representing her school at a meet. Each morning she walks to school.

I look at her, shake my head in wonder and think envious thoughts about her new found love of exercise.

Princess is quickly growing out of her name. There is nothing Princess about her at the moment, save her bright pink bedroom wall. Having returned from her class camping trip she has decided that she is a bona fide camper and wants to start a camping club at school. Apparently two nights in a tent was not sufficient. She has told me, in her sweetest voice that she thinks she could easily manage two weeks.

Again, there has been more head shaking and bemused looks of wonder. Where do these children come from?

I, on the other hand, have been staying well away from tents, cold pools and soccer fields. I am still walking the dangerous path to school every day and I have seen enough on those walks to fill a blog post. One will be forthcoming. Instead I have been spending my time either buried in essays or streaming the first few episodes of season 7 of House, Grey’s and Entourage.  Over here we need our fill of American Culture, just to remind us that we are all on the same planet. Sometimes I feel as if I were on Mars.

With campers and exercise bandits.

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We got to rub elbows with the Famous: Photo # 17.

Yes I caved and spent the precious dollars. Madame Tussauds is not the # 1 Tourist Destination for Nothing. It is a whole lot of fun.

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Taking Girls to Museums. Photo # 4


I simply love taking my girls out to museums.

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I have a teenager.

I have a teenager.

Thirteen years ago today I gave birth to Trooper. When I went into the hospital in Winnipeg it was the tail end of a cold and strange spring that will forever be remembered for the devastating Red River flooding. When I came out 4 days later it was scorching hot and summer had arrived. Such are the weather patterns of the prairies.  She was born on her due date and has been punctual and exact ever since. She always wants to be ahead, and constantly appears older and more mature than her years. She stood up alone at 6 months and took her first steps at 9 months. By the time she was 11 months she was dancing like a tiny midget on the dance floor of a Chinese restaurant during mother’s day.

She came home from hospital in a bright orange 1973 Volkswagen Beetle named Lolly. 10 minutes after arriving at our apartment I burst into tears, flooded with a storm of hormones and frankly tired and in pain from a difficult caesarean. I was also petrified. Handsome Husband and I were 28 and 30. Did we have a clue what to do with a tiny helpless infant? No. Luckily for us she was easy from the start and we enjoyed the Winnipeg summer days by frequently plonking her into her car seat and under the table at our favourite outside cafe. At 4 weeks she was on a plane heading to my sister’s wedding and the travel bug must have infected her since she has found airport, planes and travel trouble free and fun ever since.

She is loved by everyone who meets her, with her infectious giggle and her cheeky smile. I cannot believe that 13 years have passed since those confusing and thrilling hours in the hospital. She is too big to fit into my arms now but she is always welcome to try. I am immensely proud of her beauty and spirit, both inside and out.

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The Tug of Apron Strings

The times are a changing.

I work with adolescents and I live with an adolescent. Trooper will be 13 in less than a week and she is turning into a woman before my very eyes. I can see her moving gently away from me with her secrets, her ideas, her hidden stories; until she creeps back for the occasional cuddle or late night chat.

She has changed her facebook status. It now reads: “In a relationship.”  Putting that up for the world to see was an heady moment for her and one she waited for. She didn’t want to go first, he had to make the statement public before her, but just seeing it up there is a rite of passage that I never had. So now she enters a new era of scorching heartbreak and searing joy. I can no more wrap her in cotton wool and smuggle her into my bed than protect her. She must tread this path alone but know that I am beside her all the way and always on her side.

A good friend who goes way back into the nether reaches of my past just signed up her daughter for kindergarten and I am sure she is feeling the tug of apron strings as her sweet baby will soon proudly don her backpack and head for the gates. We go through so many steps as parents, each one a tiny goodbye as the strings pull back and forth like a struggling and stubborn fish not wanting to be caught.

To a Daughter Leaving Home

When I taught you

at eight to ride

a bicycle, loping along

beside you

as you wobbled away

on two round wheels,

my own mouth rounding

in surprise when you pulled

ahead down the curved

path of the park,

I kept waiting

for the thud

of your crash as I

sprinted to catch up,

while you grew

smaller, more breakable

with distance,

pumping, pumping

for your life, screaming

with laughter,

the hair flapping

behind you like a

handkerchief waving

goodbye.

Linda Paston (b.1932)

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The Hills are Alive…

I should change the name of 3limes to The Dark Journals. Once again I am writing by candle light in a power cut. In his overly optimistic fashion, the same happy slant that proves him to never be a weather man; he has a tendency to deny rain even when it is pouring on his shoulders, my sweet man thinks power cuts are “good “ for us. They give us a different perspective, shake up our comfort zones. I argue that my comfort zone is plenty shaken, thanks very much and the last thing I need is a life lived by candle light. I laugh when I hark back to the days when candles were an accessory, something to add atmosphere to a room. Now they are essential ingredients for a functioning life.

Trinidad is hopping with near naked girls, the rum is flowing, the Soca is loud, the streets are alive with an energy that is one of a kind. It is Carnival.

Canadians have their chests puffed out with pride, they are tossing red and white flags and scarves in the air and celebrating the Winter Olympics. Small children are dreaming about Bobsleds and Hot Dogs and Moguls, Gold is glinting in the eye of every Canuck.

Meanwhile we have our own celebrations going on.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music here in Kampala. The organization know as KADS ( Kampala Amateur Dramatic Society) is putting on a production of Maria and her singing nuns. This movie just so happens to be one of my favorite things, so off we toddled to audition. By us, of course I mean my daughters. Wednesday after school, there they were, raisons in my bun, on stage singing, smiling, projecting their voices and looking all very thespian. Saturday, after receiving the call backs to return for a second audition, we go back again, but this time we drag handsome husband along for good luck. The Saturday Sessions were far more scary as they took place on the main stage in front of dozens of people. Turns out, there were 70 kids going for 13 parts. ( They were doing a double cast for the children.) It was a ton of fun, great laughs, bravery and back clapping all round, and then we pushed Handsome Husband on to the stage.

“Go on!” We urged. “It’ll be fun. You can be a Soldier!”

Next thing I saw he was up there with his charming accent singing Doe a Deer in French and making the KADS women slightly weak in their knees. Where did this man come from? He had never been on a stage in his life and here he was as comfortable as a Canadian in the snow.

A few hours later I get the call.

“ We wanted to ask, before sending out the emails. We want to select one of your daughters but not the other. Will this be a problem?”

Perhaps some mothers in a misguided attempt to save their children from any disappointment would have politely declined the opportunity. I am of the firm belief that disappointment is a certainty in this life, and it is a fine idea to get used to it early on.

Still, it was hard,

Trooper was to be left out, Princess was in.

And so was the Handsome man I live with. Otherwise known as Admiral Schreiber.

Rain drops and roses….


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