motherhood

My Heart Belongs to Africa

Magic is real.

I lived it up close.

Close enough I could feel the air shimmer over my skin as a lion sauntered past me.  Less than a foot away I dug deep for courage as I sat exposed in an open-air Land Rover.  His paws silent as marshmallow pillows, his movements sleek as a crocodile slicing through a murky riverbed.

Even in the stillness this king exuded power.

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Magic.

All of it magic.

This is how I know fear does not always tell the truth.  If I had listened to fear I would have stayed home in my Cubs pajamas.

I would have missed an enraged elephant tossing sand at me as we interrupted his hunt for female companionship.

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I would have missed seeing so many leopards that I lost count. Mothers and babies, lone leopard warriors stalking the land for dinner, a female leopard mating with a father and son to ensure protection of her future progeny, leopards in trees and on termite mounds.

An abundance of spots and I loved every, single one of them.

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I would have missed meeting my idol and mentor, Martha Beck.

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Martha is a Light Writer and life coach.  Meeting her meant everything to me.  Her writing and wisdom carried me through a time in my life when I needed it most.  Getting to tell her that in person was, you guessed it, magic.

Martha Beck’s Safari – Finding Your Purpose

Martha is the reason I cast my fear aside  brought my fear with me, let it have its say and still went to South Africa anyway.

I did it for her and for Mad Dog.  His lifelong dream consisted of coming face to face with a lion while on safari.  I flew nearly 50 hours, endured 17 hours of layovers in Qatar, willingly rose daily at dawn and perched myself without complaint in a vehicle minus any enclosures to face the fiercest animals in all the land.

I would do it all again if only to see Mad Dog’s face each and every time we encountered lions.

Priceless.

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I hold gratitude for everyone who made it possible for Mad Dog to realize this dream.  From our extraordinary ranger and tracker, to my in-laws who took care of the boys and dogs while we traipsed across the savanna.

Thank you.

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Wine tastes better with zebras nearby and an African sunset to feast our eyes upon.
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Our awesome ranger/driver, Bruce, (next to Mad Dog) and our gifted tracker, Rob (next to me).

Every day dazzled us with mystery and wonder.

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My favorite African bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller, made sure to pose for this most treasured photo.

As we watched animals roaming free and living immersed in the present moment, our hearts cracked open a bit wider and we grew in wisdom and love.

I never knew a place could change me forever.

But, then again, I had never been to Africa.

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children, humor, life in pictures, parenting

Real Men Eat Spicy Chicken

It starts out innocent enough, even quite promising if I’m going to go out on a limb. Mad Dog was home early and it made it possible for us to go out to dinner as a family. On the weekends you have to make sure to go early for optimal success with the boys.

We thought we would try the new Caribbean restaurant in our neighborhood. Obviously we were aware that a new, ethnic cuisine could get dicey with the boys. We figured if the restaurant planned to stay afloat in these difficult economic times (and tucked away in a neighborhood) it would HAVE to have a children’s menu. No such luck so, we improvise (that’s like 98% of parenthood anyway).

Mad Dog and I determine the safest bet for the boys are a tortilla-type appetizer filled with rice and beans. The owner also gives them a sample of some fresh-from-the-oven flatbread. When they arrive at our table, they don’t look especially appetizing but are actually quite tasty. Yeah, try convincing a five year old or a two year old of that. I do my best, upbeat coaching speech. “Why these are yummy, yummy ‘crackers’. Try them, they are very grown-up (that usually at least peaks Full Speed’s interest) and super-good!”

They’re smart little suckers and don’t buy it. We coax and cajole them so at least they get a few bites in their stomachs. They actually were good sports but we knew they weren’t eating enough.

Mad Dog and my entrees arrive. They were good, full of delicious spices and textures and wholly unappealing to the young men at our table. Mad Dog did convince Full Speed to try some of his jerk chicken. Full Speed took a tentative bite. He must have felt confident it wasn’t too spicy because he bravely asked for another bite. Before he finishes chewing, he leaps from the table and urgently announces, “I have to POOP!” Mad Dog grabs Full Speed’s Gatorade (to help with his burning mouth) and rushes him to the bathroom. The whole while poor Full Speed’s body is rigid with fright and his cheeks are a burning red.

In the bathroom, Mad Dog later reported, Full Speed hops on the potty while Mad Dog gives him liquids (Mad Dog likened it to being a trainer for a boxer in the ring). Full Speed realizes he doesn’t have to go. We figured his body went into a sort of shock from the spices and he didn’t know what was happening; he deduced it must need to poop.

When we knew he was fully recovered we laughed and laughed. Full Speed informed us that this place was ‘okay for snacks but let’s never have dinner here, again.’

We took the boys to Sonic afterwards. It would have been so much easier if we had gone there in the first place, but where’s the adventure in that?