Ten on Ten {April}

Or perhaps 15 on 11, but that sounds so much less poetic. 

7:47 // Morning coffee and my morning view. I am reveling in this strong light, clear and clean, so unlike Aisa mornings. 

7:48 // Poor Lyra, she's been so sick since her surgery. She won't open her eyes. She cries. 

8:06 // I talk to the kids a bit on FaceTime. Stella is full of stories about who she's played with and what she's been learning at school. She says she knows math now, so she no longer needs to eat healthy snacks to give her energy to grow her brain. So she should have chocolate for snack. We settled on chocolate and cucumber. A classic combination. 

9:16 // Lyra plays a little, but with her eyes closed tight. My heart. 

9:18 // She tires so quickly. After just a few minutes she's fallen asleep again.

10:08 // I play with light in the bathroom. It sure feels heavy to be alone and watching my girl suffer so much. I wonder if she'll ever be okay again.

10:36 // But we go out. I walk the city to chase away the dark thoughts. I pass this tree daily. And each day, I take a picture. 

10:52 // Our train into the city arrives. 

12:09 // Doing wife stuff. A picture in front of 221B (??) Baker Street for my husband who is a big fan.

13:25 // Killing time before a doctor's appointment in a beautiful book shop. 

16:11 // Done with the Doctor, but we need to cross town to go to the Eye hospital.

19:06 // Several hours lost sitting at the eye hospital waisting time waiting for bureaucracy. But we're back in our station again.  

19:07 // The evening light is so pretty. 

19:30 // See? Beatuiful light and shadow back at home. 

 

12/52

 

"a picture for my big kids and of my little kid, once a week, every week in 2017."

I'm away from my big kids right now, in London with Lyra for medical appointments. But I wanted to keep this project going, because I have a sentimental heart and I love seeing how my kids were growing each week as the years go by. So, while I'm away from them, I've decded to take a picture of something that makes me think of my big kids and continue on with weekly portraits of Lyra,

Stella: I'm with your Jakarta best friend, and in a strange way, that makes me feel like I'm closer to you. She's grown so much in the year we've been away from Indoneisa, and that helps me see how much you've grown too. You'd love hearing her laugh (her laugh is almost as joyful as yours) and you two would have such a great time being together here. I hope one day not too far from now we can get you two together again. 

Hugo: When we left Indonesia you were a baby, on the brink of boyhood yes, but still a baby. And now I am here with our dear friends who loved you through your babyhood and watched you grow. Now you'd have no trouble keeping up with them on the playground. You'd have loved this one we visited on Sunday. There were musical instillations everywhere. I wish I could show you and your sister this part of the world.

Lyra: You made your fist journey across the oceans week and landed here in England.  You were  at first a little unsettled. I kept thinking that you were wondering who this new family is, and where your people went. But you have become quite fond of our friends' children, you light up when they come home from school, you give laughs to Stella's best friend, and after not too long you're back to your cheerful self again.

11/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week every week in 2017."

Stella: You asked me to take this picture so that you can remember your sister. I'm pretty sure that you are more upset about being away from her than you are about being away from me.

Hugo: You, on the other hand, are clearly unhappy about me going. And boy are you letting us know. Tempers are hot and feelings are deep, but I get it, little boy, I am going to miss you so much; it hurts to think about leaving you for so long.

Lyra: Despite all the upheaval and uncertainty around you, you are just happy practicing chewing on your hands and trying your best to roll over.

10/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017."

Stella: You flew to Hong Kong with Hugo and Papi. Your plane was delayed several hours and you didn't arrive at the hotel until 1:30 in the morning. Somehow, you managed to stay awake and cheerful (unrestricted access to the iPad might have something to do with that) all night and fully functional the next day despite the lack of sleep. You walked all over the city and ran all over every playground we took you to. I told you that I think your super power is staying awake.

Hugo: You enjoyed riding the subway, taking the peak train, taking the fairy, exploring playgrounds, and dancing in the square next to our hotel. You seemed to like Hong Kong, even if you did spend an awful lot of time screaming, I want to go home! When finally we did return to Shanghai, you started screaming,"I want to go back to Hong Kong!"

Lyra: You got out of the hospital this week. You lost some weight while there and are looking a little skinny. After just a few days at home, you and I took the train down to Hong Kong. We had some medical appointments and had to check your eyes. You were a delight on that long train journey. You slept quite well, and then when you were awake, you sat peacefully in my arms, you smiled at the passengers around us, and watched the world go by. But let's not talk about that diaper blow out because the less said about the bathroom on a Chinese train, the better. 

9/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017."

Stella: Just when I think I'm back to be with you and your brother at home, I'm off again with Lyra in the hospital. You were so concerned about your sister though, eager to understand what was happening to her in the hospital, what the machines and screens were for. You celebrated along with me when her IV was removed, when she was taken off continuous monitoring. And you were so glad when we finally came home.

Hugo: Oh Hugo Bear, I did miss you when we were gone at the hospital with Lyra. Somehow all the bum bum jokes, the constant wrestling, and your insistence on putting all of your food into your water cup become so much more charming when I'm away from home.

Lyra: You spent nearly all this week in hospital. You picked up RSV during one of our many doctor's visits last week, and it developed into pneumonia. My girl, you were so sick you could barely stay awake. You were being constantly poked and prodded; between blood tests, nebulizier treatments, eye drops, and medicine shoved down your mouth, you hardly had space to call your own.  You were weak and tired, barely able to stay conscious, and totally unable to drink milk. But when you did have the strength to be awake for a moment, you always tried to give a smile, even as we were sicking you with yet another nedle.   

8/52

 

"a photograph of my children, once a week, every week in 2017."

Stella: I was away from home all week while I was tending to Lyra in Hong Kong, but sweet girl,  you did so well. You got bounced around from friend's place to friend's place, your routine got disrupted, and you ate a whole lot of pizza for dinner. You told me, Mama, you need to come home so that we can eat healthy food.

Hugo: You spent a week away from me, and boy did I miss you. I think you missed me too. I called one evening and the moment you heard my voice, you burst into tears and locked yourself in your room. I'm sorry little boy, I know this week has been hard on you.

Lyra: You took your first trip on an airplane this week. We flew to Hong Kong for what we thought would be a quick, medical appointment. But this quick visit turned into a scary and uncertain eight days away from home where we spent most of our time in doctor's offices or on the phone talking to the insurance company. But through it all, you remained your usual flexible and easygoing self, napping whenever I needed you to nap, and otherwise just hanging out, chewing on your hands, and cooing at me. And you even mastered a new skill: turning onto your side. I guess our days of non-moving babyhood are numbered.

7/52

 
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"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017."

Stella: You slept in for the first time in about four years. I promised you the night before that if you did indeed sleep past seven, I would say yes to any and every request. So, now, I guess we're in for a day of candy and TV.

Hugo: You can speak French. You're constantly asking me, Est-ce que c'est papasan? Which, for all of you non-francaphones, is 100 percent not French. But I will say that your intonation is pretty good, and you ask it with such conviction and seriousness, you get angry at me when I don't answer appropriately. (PS, I don't know what the appropriate answer is.) You did, once or twice, point at a picture and ask, c'est quoi, ca? And that, Little Bear, is actually French.

Lyra: You've woken up. Gone are the days of the four hour nap followed by a two hour snooze. You're alert, and aware, chewing on your hands and cooing (well, it is more like a bird call, what you're doing.) I do miss being able to rely on that time to tidy up or get a few things done on the internet, but it is really nice getting to know an awake baby.

All in all we had a pretty good week. Well, with the exception of a few minor sleep deprivation lead temper tantrums (*ahem* mostly not of the kid variety.) In addition to Lyra waking up during the day, she's also up all night. Nine times, by my count last night. But the sun has been out, the PM2 levels not too terrible, and there is a new sense of optimism in the air. 

6/52

 
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“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017.”

 

Stella: You remember your homework when I forget. You find your lost library book when I can not. You organise your room and separate the toy food from the toy plates. I tell you to hurry we’re late and you say, that’s why we should leave earlier. You’re growing and I’m seeing your light, your special talents, and I find myself wrapped in wonderment as I meet the parts of you that have been hidden until now.

 

Hugo: We celebrated your birthday part. You spend the first hour hidden in the office watching Peppa Pig. Then you came out and discovered with horror that your friends were touching your cars. There were several hitting episodes. And then you cried when we sang you happy birthday. And yet you still told me that you loved your party. So. Question mark?

 

Lyra: You’re more in our world these days. You calmly observe the goings on at home. You hear the kids shooting and your mouth quivers and pouts. You coo at me, and it’s my favourite sound. You smile so brightly for Stella, and I’m starting to wonder if she’s your person. 

5/52

 

“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017.:

Stella: You were off school for a week and totally despondent. Your best friend was in Singapore and you were not and you were missing her something terrible.

Hugo: You turned three this week. I don’t know how this went so quickly. As this past year went on you’ve moved manifestly from baby to boy. We celebrated your birthday with a pre-dawn wake up, present opening, burgers, a skipped nap, trains all afternoon, and then spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. You were thrilled by your day, and so gracious and appreciative. And me, I’m so glad I can give you this little day, for you’ve given me so much more.

Lyra: You’ve found your hands. You’ll play for ages bringing your hands together and then putting them in your mouth.  

4/52

 
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“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017.”

Stella: You finally lost your front tooth. It came out while you were eating your bread at breakfast. And thank goodness. The daily tooth drama was getting kinda old. That, and also you have managed to look even more adorable with that gap mouthed gummy smile. 

Hugo: You love to play this game called “Pretend You Don’t Know Me and I am Big.” When we are out and walking around our apartment complex, you ask to play, and I’m required to walk several paces behind you, while imagining that you are a big kid, able to navigate the world without a parent by his side (and preferably also without a winter jacket.)

Lyra: You’ve started to figure out your appendages. You love to spend time sitting in my lap, my legs tucked up, you reclined against my knees. You started to realise, in this position, that there were these things below you that you could control with your mind. And so, you sit for ages, moving your toes against my tummy, your lips forming an O of concentration, kicking your legs, trying to figure out how this all works.

3/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2017."

Stella: You're about to lose your front tooth. It's wobbly and hanging on by a thread. But you won't let anyone or anything touch it. Which means, a toothbrush hasn't passed your lips in several days. Food? forget it. We can't even get you to change your shirt lest the pressure of the fabric passing over your cheeks loosens the tooth from it's socket. 

Hugo: You have a funny relationship with time. You've been spending the last couple of weeks telling me, about how when you were my age. Like, "When I was your age, I used to drink beer." And "When I was your age, I was a grown-up and I drove a car. Isn't that cool?"

Lyra: You had your first round of injections this week. You cried as is normal, but then you calmed easily. You now weigh 5.4 kg, and gained over a kilogram in a month. You've moved from the 50th perentile to the 75th. As usual, all the fretting I've been doing about how much milk you're getting has been for naught. 

2/52

 

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2017."

Stella: Oh my Stella. This week you were trying so hard to be helpful and kind, responsive and agreeable, saying yes, okay Mama, when you'd usually say no, I won't, and hiss like a cat. I worry about how my temper, temporarily shortened by baby and fatigue, impacts you. Life is so much easier for me where there is little resistance, but life for you will be richer and fuller if your will stays unbroken and strong. I want to remember to raise you, my daughter, to be bold, willing, to know your own mind. So I have to remember to accept your 'no' and embrace it as a sign of the strength and power that you will grow into.

Hugo: You are kind of stepping into your roll of "brother". You were wrestling with Stella, somehow intent on trouble and mayhem, and then, a loud crack as your forehead met the floor. You gave yourself two goose eggs. All of this while I was interviewing someone to help us keep a lid on things in the evenings.   

Lyra: You are becoming a bit of a night owl. You sleep all day, cozy in the baby carrier, or nestled in your stroller. Then, evenings, you cry and fuss until you fall asleep for a short nap. Then you're up, awake, eager to grin and coo much later than the latest hour at which I'm able to function. So you lie on the couch next to Papi. He stays up with you until you're finally ready to sleep.