Greetings from Nairobi.
Grace and I arrived in Kenya a little over two days ago: Wednesday night Kenyan time. Our trip back was as "easy" as any day-long international travel alone with an infant can be (and to spare you a very long story I can just say that the trip back was much easier than the trip there). An infant who, by the way, had a fever and cut her second tooth during our 8 1/2 hour flight from London to Nairobi - and without too much fuss thankfully!
I was yet again surprised (maybe for the 2nd or 3rd time?) that it was actually really nice to return to Nairobi. This is where I live, where my husband is, the only home my baby has known. It may be in Africa, but it is my home right now and it has been nice to be in my own house and sleeping in my own bed the last two nights. Despite some miserable jet-lag, Grace has also been so happy to be here. She was reunited with some long-lost toys that she has enjoyed playing with the last few days, she has laughed harder in the last two days than she did the whole month because nobody makes her laugh quite like her Far, and maybe she can sense that there is a light on at the end of this jet-lag tunnel called "routine" and she is eagerly heading towards it. For myself, I can only say that I missed Kristoffer in a different way that I ever missed him when we were usually apart for the 4 years of our pre-marital relationship. It wasn't just that I missed the love of my life, but I felt his pain being away from Grace and seeing all the beautiful moments of his daughter's life that he didn't get to see this month.
But we did have a good trip! Specifically, it was wonderful to have so much quality time with my parents. She might not have remembered them when we arrived in Boston, but she knew them well by the time we left. Even in the last two days, she smiles when she hears their voices on Skype :) It was wonderful to be there for my sister Christine's wedding, to spend some quiet time with my sister Meghan in the last month of her pregnancy, and to party a little bit with my brother. I was reminded of how much I love my parents and siblings, as well as my nephews and niece: Matthew and Nathan are so big now but I so easily can remember spending time with them when they were Grace's age. They were so cute with her, "GEW" as they call her!, and I loved watching her cousins entertain her. Michael, Sean and Molly were so sweet with "Baby Grace" too, which I think is a wonderful sign of how they will be with their new brother or sister in the coming days.
I was happy to reconnect with almost all of my close girlfriends and have them get to know my sweet little baby a bit more. Of course time is always scarce, but I am grateful for the precious moments Grace and I had with these women.
I enjoyed doing a little bit of driving for a change (okay, not really until my last week did I fight my fear and drive again!) and slowly walking the aisles of Target with Grace happily in a shopping cart. I spent very little time on the internet, which was a nice break, and didn't even watch very much American TV! I enjoyed being with my parents and greatly, greatly appreciate everything (big and small) they did to make it a good month for me and Grace.
The only bad part is that I also took a break from taking pictures! Kristoffer had our "good" camera for a field mission he went on and I just never got used to taking pictures with our video camera (also sometimes the battery died or I just plain forgot to bring it wherever I was!). There were not many to choose from, but here are a few highlights from our trip.
The day after we arrived, Brooke and Dave came to visit over night. Despite our jet-lag, Grace and I really enjoyed their visit. Thank you for coming, guys!
On our way to the wedding in Baltimore, we stopped to visit my mother's aunt, Sister Irene Murphy. She is my Nana's only living sibling and the last relative I have of that generation. She will soon be 90 but has not lost her touch with children; she instantly fell in love with Grace and it seemed to be mutual from the start.
When we got to Baltimore, Grace met her Uncle Mark, Aunt Carrie and cousins Matthew and Nathan for the first time. Carrie, I am sorry I didn't get you in a picture with her!
Then came Christine and Kevin's big day! I didn't take any photos at all, but someone else captured this sweet moment of their first dance. Could my sister look any happier?
The morning after the wedding Grace hung out with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins at breakfast. Here she is already trying to get away with her Godfather's baseball hat!
The first time Grace met my cousin John was the day before the wedding. She was a bit overwhelmed and cried, which devastated him because babies normally really love him! The father of three hadn't lost his touch though; she spent quite a bit of time in his loving arms on Sunday morning. This picture was taken right before she fell asleep on his lap!
A week after the wedding, Grace hung out with my friends Kate and Julie for a bit before bedtime. Julie said, "Lis! I can't believe this baby is yours!" Tell me about it, Jules!
Michael was practicing holding Grace for when the next baby O'Brien (lovingly called "the X factor") arrives any day! Grace always smiled for him.
When I had a night out in Boston with the Fun Factor (my college girlfriends) for my friend Marcie's bachelorette party, Nene and Pops took great care of Grace for the night. They even got her to take a bottle for the first time! Good girl, Gracie!
Throughout the month, we were trying to get Grace ready for her first Halloween. Here is one of her reject costumes (it was way too big). It was my original idea for her to be Simba for Halloween...
but how could I deny this cute little giraffe?!
Sean and Molly even got dressed up in their Halloween costumes to teach Grace how to "trick or treat"!
I wish I had a picture to show you Grace's face when she saw her Far for the first time at the airport on Wednesday night. Two words will convey the moment: instant smile.
And now it is Halloween. I will try to get some sleep now and we will take Grace to a Halloween party with our neighbors in the afternoon. I'm sure I'll be back to my regular photo-taking self and can share more of our day with you.
It was a really nice trip, but it feels just right to be back.