Saturday 3 June 2017

:: catching up and looking forward ::

I have finally ticked off a job that has been on my 'To do' list for what feels like a very long time: making Eléa's First Year photo book. I made one for each of our older three for their first birthdays. We celebrated Eléa's second birthday a month ago and still no book! I was worried that the details of her first days, weeks and months had faded from my memory, so I came here to my neglected blog to glean any important parts of the memoires I wrote during that time. After completing the book (yay!!) I came back to this space to reminisce through the photos and experiences recorded over the past 5 years since moving over from my previous space at Lily & Amie. As I clicked from post to post and read through some of my words, from the houses and countries we have called home, I realised how far we have come, but how pertinent some of those words still are to our current thoughts and feelings.

I can't really catch up on the last 16 months of absence from this space, without it being forever long! But I will post some photos from the last couple of months and catch you up on recent news from our little team of six.

Eléa continues to go from strength to strength - literally. We started a Neuro-Developmental Therapy Programme with her late last year. Before and after this starting point she was in and out of hospital with UTIs that would only respond to one antibiotic that is generally given through IV every 24 hours with up to 5 doses. Kidney stones had been a surprise card that were discovered during a routine ultrasound after the first couple of UTIs. Just before Christmas the biggest stone was removed in surgery. So needless to say, the therapy sessions were stop and go for the first few months. In March, following an article in our local paper, a wonderful team of seven people volunteered to come and help do her therapy sessions each weekday (one or two people per day) and since that time her progress has been amazing. She is now able to pull herself forwards on her therapy slide that has only a slight incline. Whenever she spots my mobile phone on the floor, she does her best to get to it! 

What has been such an encouragement to me, asides from the wonderful progress that Eléa is making, is getting to know the people who come each day. They come with a variety of ages and fascinating experiences, and their enthusiasm has been such a wonderful gift! We all have a common love for Eléa and a hope of seeing her progress beyond her limitations of weak muscles to be able to reach the milestones that we all meet as babies and young children if we are not held back by a disability. Eléa has inspiring determination, learns quickly and we love her sense of humour as she fist bumps everyone she comes across, bringing cool back into the doctors' offices ;o)

Within four days in the beginning of May our three girls all celebrated their birthdays. Our little one turned two, and our big girls turned seven! They are all miracles - it's overwhelming to consider how much each of them have come through. We are so proud of each of our beauties.

Amélie and Elise are thriving in school, with great friends and teachers. I couldn't be more happy with the wonderful staff at their school. They are in separate classes this year which has been a great choice for them with their different personalities and abilities, and they are doing so well with their learning. They are into all cute animals and, like most little girls around the world, love unicorns. I have lost count on how many whole series of books we have read through together, and it is exciting to see them realise that they are able to start reading some of them on their own. Their imaginations and creativity know no bounds - I always love to listen in on their games and conversations :o)

Our favourite little guy didn't quite understand why all of his sisters were being given presents during that first week of May, and he wasn't! The concept of having different birth-dates is still a little beyond him, but we look forward to that special day in August when he gets his turn. In the meantime he's become a big kindy boy and is quietly loving the variety of amazing activities and experiences he gets there. The other morning as we walked in the gate two little boys swinging over in the corner of the yard yelled out "Hi Théo!!" and my heart was thrilled for him. He has reportedly learned to sit still at mat-time now, and loves to chat away to his teachers. A small grommets operation a couple of months ago seem to have made a big difference to his hearing, and his speech is really improving. What a sweet, thoughtful, fearless little man he is. 

We've been enjoying time with our wider family lately. I think Eléa was quietly thrilled to be able to hold her own and sit and play with her little cousin. And the older three love to play with his older sister. 

We have three little nephews who are quickly gaining in on Eléa in size. Two of them were with us a couple of weeks ago, and we really look forward to seeing everyone together when all 10 will be here for Christmas!

We've had some adventures over the last few weeks, from spending a perfect-weather day on the island of Waiheke for Eti's birthday... climbing the Mount to catch the sunrise with my sister...

...and capturing the beauty of our local area from above. I may be biased, but I really do believe we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, and am regularly in awe of the beauty. We are more motivated to make the most of this scenery because...

...we recently made the final decision that early next year we will move back to Switzerland. We knew that we wouldn't stay in this area long-term, so began the decision process of whether we would move elsewhere in New Zealand or back to Switzerland, knowing that if we chose the latter the timing would be important in relation to the ages of our little people with school, and Eléa's stability. I know hearing this news makes some people sad, and some happy. I have heard comments from "You're leaving New Zealand?!" to "You have the choice between somewhere else in New Zealand and Switzerland?!" We have much loved people on either side of the world, so it was never going to be easy :o( We are so grateful to have had this season in New Zealand, and look forward to all the months we still have here. There are absolutely no regrets and it is a bittersweet decision, as it was when we decided to move here from Switzerland five years ago. We are quietly beginning the process of organising what an international move requires, have started talking about it with our little people, and are really encouraged with how things are coming together in Switzerland. So...we hope to truly make the most of our time here for each of us, and look forward to catching up with family and special friends on the other side, and providing holiday accomodation for any of you who are travelling through in the years to come. Our doors will be open!

Sunday 31 January 2016

:: releasing butterflies ::

Over the last few weeks we have been watching our swan plant with fascination. For the first time it has been covered in caterpillars. They started out miniscule and ended up rather fat, just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as they chewed through the leaves. One by one, they would find a place to rest, hook themselves up and hang upside down until they were encased by a cacoon. The cacoons themselves were amazing to see. Delicate, bright green cases with tiny gold dots. Inside, over the next 10 days, each caterpillar became a butterfly, which we were able to see tucked up inside a transparent cacoon, just moments before they emerged into the world. Transformed. Minutes later these beautiful, delicate creatures were ready to fly away with complete freedom to dance and explore the world. It has been such an amazing feat of creation to observe!

Today, as I was ironing and naming our girls' school uniforms and labelling their stationery, I thought to myself that, in many ways, they are like these butterflies. Home has been their cacoon - their safe place for transformation and growth. Now it is their moment to emerge out into the big, wide world. They start school for the first time this week. It's a moment of mixed emotions. They are ready and I think I am in a surreal way, walking the path that many, many mothers are familiar with. Kindy has been a wonderful place for them, and it has really helped them take this next step into going on to school. We are about to let our little ones go, entrusting them into the hands of a teacher and a wider school community. I seriously considered homeschooling for a long time, and I still like the idea of it. But I have realised that, for our family in this season, it is right to send them to school. To hear that it is a lovely little school calms my heart! The thought of sending such little ones, so full of innocence, beautiful imagination, creativity, and thoughtful, kind hearts into a place where they will hear different ideas, opinions and most probably encounter challenging and sometimes nasty behaviour, is a scary thought (not to say that we don't have that behaviour here at home!). But it is time to let them go, and let them know that home is a safe place where their cheering team resides, and trust that the individual, precious qualities that they each hold will be fostered, encouraged and strengthened throughout their school years. And that they will capture a love for learning in every sense - about themselves, others and the big, wide world.

So fly, beautiful little butterflies. You are not alone - the team of people surrounding you, cheering you on is only growing larger...

Friday 8 January 2016

:: this girl ::

Over the last couple of evenings I've been going through my photos from the last 8 months, finally able to sort them onto a new computer. I've been handling my camera card with much care over these months, hoping all the photos would stay safe as they accumulated, and it literally fell to pieces when I pulled it out of the computer slot after downloading them all...phew! What I've noticed as I've sorted the blurry shots from the clear keepsakes, is how far our little one has come over these months. Already I have forgotten the details of those first days and weeks and all the little and big steps she made her way over, one by one. The way she did (and still does!) things in her own style so that we heard several times "We've never done this before!" But Elea did, and that's the way she's made her mark, slowly but steadily knocking out the obstacles in her way. Our days have become so much more peaceful and relaxed as she has become more stable and strong.

With her condition we've been curious to see how she would develop, because it's always been a "wait-and-see" situation. On Monday we passed her 8-month birthday (and 6-month corrected age) and, in many ways, she's not at all far behind her fellow babies...though we all know they develop and reach milestones at quite a varied range of ages.

More important than whatever developmental milestones she reaches or not and when, she's a wonderfully peaceful little girl and almost always content. Her eyes sparkle before a smile appears. She's funnily ticklish and often giggles as we change her. She really searches to make contact with anyone around, trying to make eye contact (even right now, she's just woken up beside me and wants to chat!). She has a great time under her playmat mobile, trying constantly to roll over or scoot herself all over the place. She has incredible determination as she tries and tries again to hold her head up high on her tummy. We know it's hard work for a little one with overall weak muscle-tone, but she has that inner strength that got her to where she is today. She loves her tastes of pureed foods and is coping very well despite the fact that she's still completely tube-fed and seems to have missed the mark on wanting to take anything from a bottle. She's learned how to hold her "lolo" (pacifier/dummy) in place, which is a wonderful developmental milestone in my eyes! ;o) She's quite simply our delightful, happy, beautiful little dark-haired girl, and we are so thankful for her. Our movements have been restricted and we often have to pass on going places in an effort to keep her health a priority, but she is growing in strength and it won't be long before these 'sacrifices' (though, I tend to see it more as quite a normal priority) will fade into distant memories, just as those first scary days already have. What a joy to be in these days!

:: rainy friday ::

We've had a lovely, peaceful week here. Several times I've paused to consider the calm and (relative) order and suspected that there must be pray-ers out there because when I faced the week on Monday, I was worried about how it might go. But I've been blessed with grace & peace in our home. Our little people have been exceptional. Of course we've had the usual and realistic hungry and tired melt-downs and sibling battles, but overall they're great. Today as a storm hit the country, we kept the lamps on inside and played.

My wish for you, too, is that you enjoy many peaceful moments over your coming days xx