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

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

:: that which gives us life in this season ::

Hello 2016 :o)

I hold high hopes for you.

Last year held a lot of beauty and wonderful moments, as well as the arrival of a priceless member of our family, but in many instances it was crushing. It pushed us to our limits and we're still recovering. Often I look at the day and weeks ahead and wonder how I'm going to get through it with joy, feeling more than a tad weary. But it's not all gloomy - there are so many glimmers of hope and I know we are not alone. I've learned to calmly carry on, try not to sweat the small things, and trust that what we need will be provided for. God has been incredibly faithful like that, even when my faith has been lacking and dry. Always, always faithful.

In an effort to take care of myself and to be a healthier wife and mum, because I tend to neglect my needs, I have determined this year to pursue three creative outlets that give me life: to enjoy photographing the life and beauty that surrounds me (and document it more often here!), to formally learn more French, and to get back into art. I have had a long-held dream to illustrate that has never left me. I've got my watercolours, and recently purchased ink pens and paper waiting in the wings ;o)

Home life naturally takes up 95% of my days, and if I allow my perfectionist tendencies to take over, I can easily find things that need to be done 100% of my waking hours (around procrastinating!). I'm determined to let some things go, to focus on what matters - the precious people around us - and figure out how to make life even a little more simple and fun. I can learn from my children and Eti on this one!

I have a couple of little projects on the go that are quite exciting. As a part of the girls' Christmas gift, I pulled out the wooden dolls that I had bought for them a year earlier and managed to paint them in time for Christmas. As I painted I anticipated all the imaginary adventures they would embark on in the hands of our girls, and they have indeed over the past couple of weeks. I like to overhear their latest names and conversations ;o)

The dolls will soon have a home, which I'm really looking forward to dreaming up and finally starting work on. When they were babies I came across this wonderful dollhouse renovation. I was sold and immediately went online to find a second-hand dollhouse. So we've had this little home accompany us across the world and sit in storage until a couple of days ago. I have four months to give it a renovation for their birthday, and in the meantime the girls are spending hours creating a vivid imaginary world in an empty house.

We're realising the importance of making even small moments of time to do what we love to do and which refuel our tanks. Eti takes off for bike rides or kayaks around the area, and I am embracing the colour and life of being creative with art. Simplifying life, enjoying it, keeping our eyes up and outwards. These are just a few reasons to hold high hopes for this coming year.