Tag Archives: birthday

Trooper is 14

Trooper is 14 today. I can’t quite believe that I have a 14 year old nor that so much time has passed. Time stretches over us like gauze wrapped too finely, sometimes we sense it might break as we wrap ourselves further and further back and forward in time. But it never does; moving forward I wrap myself in memories to keep reliving those days gone past.

I went into labour in the middle of the night (why do babies always want to come when we are asleep?) on a spring May 26th in Winnipeg. 26 hours later she was born right on time, due date baby and she has been either early or prompt ever since. This girl is continuously in a hurry, to get started, to get done, to walk, to live, to do it all Now and not a minute too late. She sucks the juice out of life.

A new chapter is about to start in her young life as she moves to live in her 4th country. And she is still fresh, half baked, and not yet ready to settle for anything less than her dreams dictate.

A young woman poised to take off and I give her the wings and hope the parachute of lessons I have wrapped around her shoulders will open and carry her all the way to safer ground.

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You Rule

Good morning and welcome to the Birthday Post. Every year I write on my birthday. I started this blog when I was 39 and went through all the agonies, fear and ultimate satisfaction of turning 40 on these pages. Today I am 42 and that looks a lot older when you see it up there on the screen than it really feels.

Despite Handsome Husband being so far away I am still being made to feel special on this birthday by the lovely Trooper and Princess who laid a trail of mini happy birthday cards leading from my bed room to a balloon adorned dining room this morning. There I was presented with a gorgeous present that I had picked out myself and presented to them for wrapping; it is a butter soft brown leather clutch bag with African beading design, and handmade cards. I was also shown the Chocolate Cheese cake that we are going to eat later. It was made by them while I was out last night and they are thrilled to bits with their inventiveness and prowess about the kitchen.

So I am a lucky girl, and birthdays are meant to be celebrated no matter the number. I am the Fairy Godmother of Birthdays, according to my friends, they cannot go by unnoticed.

In other news we celebrated Athletics this week at school and it was a most excellent display of school spirit and athletic ability. Lots of running, leaping, throwing and jumping. I managed to get out of the Teacher’s Race, not having enjoyed the mirth that followed my slow sprint around the track last year. I found some PE dept volunteers who were more than happy to give us a fair chance of winning. This photo sums up the day. I like both the message and the medium.

Yes: You Rule and it is so much better said with a Sharpie on a bare leg.

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Filed under I have two girls, Miss Teacher

Being brave, driving, finding snails and the pretty.

I am not writing enough. Perhaps I am in less of a reflective mood and more of a get on with it and cope mood. We are trudging along here with out our Handsome. He is happy over there in our future home; he has survived one sand storm and multiple temptations in the shopping department. He has a car now and is installed in a small and sweet apartment on the beach. And us? Well we have been keeping ourselves sane with homework, Thai food, the occasional Margarita and plenty of cutting out of paper fish. ( Poisson d’avril, ladies and gentleman, will soon be upon us.)

I am being terribly brave and driving all over the place. As one or two of you may know I am very frightened of driving in Kampala, and Handsome Husband did very nearly ALL the driving when he was here. Now it is me behind the wheel and it is amazing what happens when you take away the element of choice. We just have to cope. The bumps, the pot holes, the crazy boda boda drivers, the maniacs who think you can just cut someone off, the pedestrians who assume we will stop or slow down, the nonsensical  magic roundabouts, the lack of traffic lights, I am fighting fierce and doing it all.

Do I have anything else to tell you?

We had a giant snail walking up our wall. Here it is:

And sometime next week I will be another year older. I have purchased myself a lovely birthday present, quite a feat to find something I am so excited about in Kampala and it has been hidden away in Trooper’s room to be pulled out on my birthday. I can’t tell you what it is, because we are pretending it is a surprise.

But it is pretty and we all need pretty things now and again.

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11 years later.

 

Princess is 11 today. There will be a festival of sorts, cupcakes at school, dinner with friends, a Saturday night party, more cake. She deserves it; after all she is my sunshine girl.

Princess is so much more than her name. Camper extraordinaire, friend to all, t-shirt designer, Sartorialist obsessed, champion shower singer; her room is a blaze of pink and softness, her wardrobe a cornucopia of colour, hair bands and scents. She will curl up and read beside me for hours or stand in the kitchen chopping onions and stirring warmed chocolate, preparing a feast of some sort.

She cried for the first year and a half of her life. While the rest of the world settled into the comfort of knowing the new millennium would not strip us of water, power or the internet, in short the world would not stop, ( do you remember that crazy worry? the stockpiling of water and tins of chick peas? What was that?) Princess was crying, screaming even most days, cross with something that none of us could figure out. As soon as she could speak and express her discomfort when things were not specific enough for her, she stopped crying and started smiling and talking. She has not stopped since.

The first three weeks here in Kampala, back in August 2009 when we leapt over two continents to move here she was not happy. In fact she was terrified, devastated and turned inside out with misery. She wanted to leave and she wanted to go NOW. It was the first time since those early years that we had seen her so miserable and we worried that she might not overcome the discomfort of being here; the cockroaches in the “palace” the abject poverty, the dirt, the chaos. Princess likes everything “just so” and Kampala at first was anything but.

Now she often thanks us for her life, exclaiming that she is so happy, she loves the adventure of her life, the opportunity to see and feel and do so much more than her friends in the first world. I love her grateful manner and her positivity that shines through each day.

I am thinking of 11 years ago. Sharp blue skies, bone chilling wind, a late January Montreal day. As I held my little blanket wrapped parcel of love and looked out of the window of the Queen Vic, across the sheer white fields of McGill I could never have fathomed how life would change so much. Here I am 11 years later, marking the passage of time with a curly girl in my arms and I am amazed.

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Ugandan Cake

Handsome Husband had a special weekend devoted to his birthday. He deserved it and we were just so happy to pack up and head to Jinja for the weekend. I have been in Uganda for 16 months now and have only been to Jinja twice. This, I do not understand and having spent a deeply relaxing 26 hours staring at the Nile I resolve to go more often. It is only an hour and a half from Kampala, an easy drive by Ugandan standards and the rewards are sweet once we arrive.

Throw a few good friends together, mix in a lovely place to stay, a campfire, happy children in tents, plenty of drinks, hammocks and books and add a fabulous view and a good weekend is guaranteed.

The only down side to the weekend was the birthday cake, worth mentioning since it has to go down in history as the Worst Birthday Cake in the World. I had emailed in advance and asked for a cake to be organized.  After all who can have a birthday without cake? I didn’t think I could conjure up a cake since I was supervising a Guy Fawkes Night at school on the Friday evening and then had Pantomime business to attend to before leaving Saturday morning. Anyway I thought I could trust a restaurant kitchen to bake a cake. Who was I to know?

I went into the kitchen to light the candles and promptly saw that this cake, being turquoise and wrapped in a shiny red bow had come from a store in downtown Jinja.  Okay, I thought, it is from a Cake Shop. Can’t be that bad, can it? Camera, ready I went to wait for the waitress to carry out the cake. 5 minutes later, I was still waiting as the staff thought it would be best to bring out all the plates and forks before hand, with little care for the candles which by now were mere stumps. Finally, out it comes, in all its turquoise spendour.

When the knife wouldn’t go through, that was the first indication that we had a problem. Then finally after some strenuous sawing action the cake snapped, sending shards of royal icing flying across the table. The cake inside looked like brown stone, drier than saw dust, harder than a brick. I gingerly put a small crumb in my mouth and nearly gagged. It tasted like nothing I had ever experienced before; more like pulverised and re glued mouldy brick than anything else.  How long had that cake been sitting on the shelf of “Jinja’s Best Cake Shop?”

A wise teen to my right cleared up the confusion. “All Uganda cakes are like that.”

So now I know.

Once we arrived back in Kampala we set matters right and sought out the best Death by Chocolate Cake we could find. No one can miss cake on their birthday. Even in Uganda.

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Dancing in the rain

Trooper’s surprise birthday party saw 18 kids huddled in a stable waiting for the birthday girl to arrive on horseback. The surprise nearly knocked her off her horse but the joy on her face could not be wiped off all day. The day saw quad bikes speeding through the gardens and mud tracks while us adults waited with baited breath and stomachs in mouths for something to go wrong. The day heard the laughter and glee of 18 kids as they ate cake, tucked into snacks, ran amok and danced in the rain. There are few things as fabulous as dancing in the rain without a care in the world. Yes, they were covered in mud and damp for the remainder of the day. But wasn’t it worth it?

The birthday girl has been welcomed to her teens in true style, with the love of friends and plenty of fun in the mud. I am happy to report that the surprise went off without a hitch and was deemed a huge success by all.

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It’s my birthday!


A year ago I was all in a flutter about the big birthday. Now a year later this birthday is barely a blip on the radar. I am known amongst my good friends as the Fairy God Mother of Birthdays, since I tend to make a big fuss of birthdays. I firmly believe that a birthday is a day to celebrate oneself and that a suitable quantity of revelry should ensue. In my opinion no one should work on their birthday but that doesn’t always quite work out. Since my birthday is so close to Easter, I never once attended school on my birthday while growing up and now that I am a teacher I am always working on my birthday. Some irony in that situation!

But there are advantages to teaching on a birthday .Look at this cake! I feel most loved.

I have 20 12 year old boys and girls throwing me a party, complete with cake, music and popcorn. How many people go to work and get that?

I have so much chocolate on my desk I could open a candy store and tomorrow is the last day of term.

Let’s just not count the candles, shall we?

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