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And Baby Makes Three

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Brandon est ne a Toronto, Canada, le 18 juin (Fete des Peres en Amerique du Nord). Il pese 3.76 kg et il a 53 cm. Quelle journee incroyable!

Born on June 18, 2006 at Women’s College Hospital, in Toronto, Canada, Brandon weighs 3.76 kg and is 53 cm long (8 lbs 5 oz, 21″ long). What an amazing day!

Brandon Has Arrived!

[read on]

Weekend in Birmingham

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

I spent a few days in England at the beginning of April. I was 31 weeks pregnant when I travelled. William felt the baby move and was subjected to my new need for many pillows while sleeping. We went shopping for baby clothes at Adams and Mothercare. It was really great to have a small chance to share our anticipation and talk about the future face to face.

I really got a kick out of the way he laughed when he felt the baby move, because it’s the reaction I first had as well. I’m almost 36 weeks now and we’re both excited about our soon to be expanded family. And we’re both trying to focus on the joy of the occasion and not on the sadness of being separated.

I think Birmingham is the second largest city in England. The weather was nice enough for us to get in some walking. William was very good about slowing down to pregnant lady speed. Unfortunately, the only tips I have are for the location of the baby stores.

The Best Laid Plans

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
gang aft a-gley.–Robert Burns (“To a Mouse”)

As some already know, my year or two in Cameroon was cut short to just over three months. It was a fabulous three months and William and I had so much fun on our honeymoon in London. But then we had to make the rational, adult decision that mostly due to my pregnancy I should be in Toronto, even if he wasn’t allowed to follow me.

I can’t say enough about all the great support I got while I was in Cameroon. Receiving your messages and wedding wishes was fantastic. We both appreciated all the good vibes from Canada. I didn’t blog in London because Internet prices were insane and I’m not an efficient blogger.

I’ve been back in Toronto since the beginning of December. No blogging and not much more socializing, mostly because I was sulking. It’s not a pretty reason, but it’s the truth. While it’s always nice to be home, I didn’t expect to be separated from William again for a long time. As someone once pointed out to me, “Deborah, you like to get your own way.” And it’s true . . . though really, who doesn’t?

I started a new job in January and it’s going well. I’m just over 21 weeks (out of 40) pregnant and baby and I are healthy. Life is good, but my husband is once again far away from me. We’re working on his permanent residence application as fast as we can, but until it’s finalized he can’t even visit.

I can’t wait until I see him again.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
John Lennon

Honeymoon in London

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

After my mom’s great visit for our wedding, we planned where to go on our honeymoon. So where would a professional football player and an exile from the English language decide to go on their honeymoon?

For a Canadian, going to England is not complicated. You just have to show up at Customs with a Canadian passport. For a Cameroonian, it requires an application, a $100 payment and an interview. I felt like we’d won the lottery when William got his passport back and they’d given him a six-month visitor’s visa.

We arrived in England on November 8, 2005 and set out for our flat in Barking, East London . . . very, very east. The flat was very charming and much cheaper than getting a hotel. Seven days accommodation only cost 185 GBP. Eventually, we moved to something right in London, near Victoria Station. It was, of course, more expensive, but we did save some money with our reduced transportation costs.

We didn’t do much tourist-y stuff in London. I finally got to see the mummy exhibit at the British Museum. It had been off limits the last time I was in London in 1999. I had a lovely visit to the Tate Modern, which was a new building for me to see. William and I also went to the London Zoo for my birthday (November 23rd). It’s a relatively small zoo, but has some pretty impressive big cats and a family of lowland gorillas. From the map outside the gorilla enclosure, we think they may have been from Cameroon.

William also had distant family and some family friends that we could visit while we were there. We even went to an African nightclub with two friends one Friday night. The dancing brought back fond memories of our wedding reception.

While we were in London we continued a conversation that had started before we left Cameroon. Due to other factors, but mostly inspired by my new pregnancy, we had been discussing whether I should stay in Cameroon or return to Canada for pre-natal care. We made the final decision in London that I would return to Canada and not go back to Cameroon . . . sigh.

I left London at the beginning of December to return to Toronto. William remained in England, staying with family and friends. He even met an agent who gave him some insights on the football opportunities in Europe.

Trip to Kribi

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

For my mom’s second week in Cameroon we wanted her to see more than Douala, so we went on a bit of a road trip. It was also a chance for me to see something new. Kribi is one of the beach towns that is a must-see in Cameroon. It’s about a 3-hour bus ride from Douala. We didn’t get to stay very long, but what we did experience was awesome.

Patrice’s family is from the area, so he recommended an excellent hotel right on the beach (and it actualy was!).

Anyway, take a look at the pictures.
Sundown-Hotel des Anges at Kribi
William at Kribi beach

Music and Dance at the Wedding

Friday, October 14th, 2005

One thing that can’t be captured in all of the pictures is the music that was constant on our wedding day. And not just the subdued classical that played in the background at the ceremony, but the singing, clapping and drumming after we left the city chambers.

Everyone was outside on the lawn in front of the building singing. It’s a traditional upbeat dancey tune about how there shouldn’t be any bachelors here and everyone should get married. (Of course this was based on a translation I was given afterwards.) I was dancing from the time I left the building. It’s all a capella and everyone seems to know the chorus, but one person plays the designated soloist.

There were also a group of young men who provide a good dance beat. Weddings are posted at the city hall weeks in advance, so they know to show up and start to play, confident that they will be compensated. On the walk from the mairie to the place where we took pictures everyone was dancing along with us down the road. Patrice actually ended up transporting the musicians back to the reception in the back of his pick-up and they continued playing in the pickup and for a while back at the house.
Our Wedding Band

Presentation of Gifts

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

One of the Cameroonian wedding traditions that gave me the most pause was the presentation of gifts at the wedding reception. The custom is that the MC gets the names of everyone who has brought a gift for the newlyweds and then there is a ceremony where the couple formally receive the gifts when the MC calls the names. I thought it seemed almost rude to highlight who had and hadn’t brought gifts, but I was assured it was a very enjoyable event for all the guests.

William and I had to stand in front of the head table and the attendants were also there to take the gifts from us after we had accepted them. The MC called out the name and the DJ played some music to accompany the person who came forward with the gift. Most of the people who came up danced to the music and generally made a production of the presentation. (It reminded me of the presentation of spoils in one of my favourite movies, “The Ten Commandments”. How un-PC is that?) People also made a show of being reluctant to give the gift and wanting kisses and hugs before handing them over.

It was a great new tradition for me to learn and I thoroughly enjoyed getting all our presents. It also makes the wedding video very interesting.

Miss Manners Takes a Taxi*

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

* in Douala

She would stand in the right place to get a taxi going to her destination, or she would ask a driver where she should stand.

She would always tell the driver if she had 500 francs or more as soon as she got into the taxi because he might not have change.

She would say “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” in the general direction of the other people in the taxi (or just to the driver).

She would check for traffic (especially motorbikes) before opening her door to exit the taxi.

Bride’s Breakfast

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

Many people came into Douala for the wedding from Bafoussam and even an uncle from the North province. Most of the family stayed at Yokoua’s house in Bonanjo. There were mattresses leaned against the walls in the day and covering all the floor in the living room at night. One of the things that had to be coordinated was breakfast for so many people in the days before the wedding.

This led me to decide that I wanted to host breakfast on Friday morning (September 30th) to take the pressure off trying to interact with everyone on the wedding day and to assert a little of the non-Cameroonian culture in the festivities. I, of course, corralled my mother into this project and decided on smoked herring with roast bake as an authentic taste of our West Indian heritage. We bought all the ingredients at various markets in Douala, enough for about 15-20 people.

Mom had a great time seeing what she recognized at the market. We found dried sorrel and pomme ci-terre in the market as well. We had to keep reminding people that it wasn’t a “Canadian” breakfast except for the fact that we are Canadian–they definitely couldn’t order it at Golden Griddle. We had a bit of an adventure with Yokoua’s oven in trying to cook five roast bake evenly, but everyone was fed eventually. We also served Ovaltine and tea because that would be typical for breakfast as well. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any Fry’s Cocoa to make hot chocolate for a truly down-home Trinidad breakfast.

Breakfast was ready by about 10:30 a.m. and I served to most of the older people who were there and got to bond over food, even though we couldn’t really understand each other. It was a success in allowing me to feel like I’d connected with more of the family.

Protected: . . . but what about the WEDDING?! (email me)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

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