"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: On our camping trip, you and your friends spent the entire time outdoors. You and your friends played happily for hours on this wooden platform with two old brooms, some bits of wood, some sea shells, and some stones. It was the stage for your restaurant at sea, your pirate ship, you entire little world. 

Hugo: When you wake up, most days you come into our bed bringing your "paci" and your "blank". We have agreed that now you're a big boy, the paci is only for sleeping time; it stays in your bed. Nevertheless, you try to convince us that it's still night time, that it's still dark, that it's not morning. You unroll every argument in your book, always prefaced by a very genial, "how 'bout..."

I've been noticing that the past several weeks my weekly portrait have been, shall we say, a little lacklustre. I find that when I'm busy thinking about (and lets be real, obsessively worrying about) big things like, ohhhh, moving to another country, it's pretty hard for me to be mindful with my photography. 

I'm tempted to make promises to myself, swearing that I'll do better next week, that I'll get a more glowing portrait, but the reality is, life is crazy right now, and it probably won't happen. So, better to accept what is, rather than push against the tide. 

Which brings me back to my motto for the year: Be like water. I couldn't ever have imagined how exactly I would need these words this year.



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: You spent most of this week in the ocean, playing non-stop with your friends. Every time we go to the sea, I'm amazed to see how you come alive in the waves and the salt water. 

Hugo: You stayed home with Papi and Ibu as you were suffering from a flu. Though before we left on our trip, you sure enjoyed our trip out to car-free day and were quite taken with these lizards.

Stella, Nannie and I are just back from a wonderful camping trip to Ujung Kulon national park. We went with a big group of friends: eight adults and six kids. They kiddos spent five days totally outside, with nothing to keep them entertained save for a bamboo platform and two ancient wooden brooms. And their imagination. And we basically, they needed nothing from us the entire time. They were busy running around the camp site, chasing monkeys, stalking dear, and watching monitor lizards, happy "cooking" and playing "sea side restaurant" or "pirate ship" or "family". It was really lovely to see them all, this gang of multi-aged kids, getting along so well. 



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016"

Stella: You started reading this week. All of a sudden you can do sight words. You're able to read almost a whole reader all by your self.

Hugo: You were basically under quarantine all week. You came down with the chicken pox, and while it was itchy and uncomfortable for the first few days, you really took it well. You don't whine or cry, and you accepted your indoor life. You passed your time lining up your cars, moving them one-by-one from your bedroom, though the living room, out the front door, and down to the end of the hallway. Your attention and focus are amazing.

I hardly saw the kids at all this week. I've been away in China, hunting for schools and trying to get a lay of the land before our upcoming move. This move has been occupying my thoughts these past weeks, taking up almost all of my brain power. This trip, though intense and exhausting, has been just the thing I needed. It has served to quiet my anxieties somewhat, and remind me that there were many things I loved about our time in Shanghai. 




"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2016."

Stella: You conquered some major fears and learned to touch bugs this week. And you think they're pretty cool, though you do still instinctively reach out and try to protect your brother when he attempts to touch one. 

Hugo: We've been waiting for you to catch the chicken pox virus your cousin had. And it looks like, just towards the end of the week, you've finally come down with the pox. 

It was a pretty good week, this one. Well, with the exception of several crazy early morning wake-ups, and a mid-night vom fest care of our champion non-sleeper first-born. Nannie came back from Bali and that was pretty exciting for everyone. Her return to Jakarta coincided with a solar eclipse, which was keenly anticipated by our favourite insomniac.  She was so excited about these two events that she had a nervous tummy all night, and was awake well before the sun even had a chance to peep over the horizon. 

The sleep thing, while often painful, at least doesn't drive me so crazy any more. I've really come to terms with the fact that one of my kids has a super power, basically, which is the ability to function on much less sleep than I thought humanly possible. So, bright side?



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week. in 2016."

Stella: She lost her first tooth this week. I may have shed a tear or two over that.

Hugo: He's had a difficult week. His cousin has been with us for the past couple of weeks, stranded in Jakarta by a case of chicken pox. I've been helping care for the the little patient, and Hugo hasn't liked that much. He's a possessive little guy, and doesn't want to share his mama with anyone. At one point, the two little cousins were observed taking turns hitting each other over the head with toy trains. So. yeah. 

Our normal routine has been thrown totally out of wack these past several weeks or so. The usual post holiday catch-up has me slightly behind, and then the chicken pox (I think Hugo's up next!), stella's exam week (wait, can we talk for a second about how utter ridiculous it is that a five year old has a whole week of exams?? This tiger school we go it is basically insane) and other and various family concerns have definitely added to the feelings of disregulation. And it's not going to let up for at least another three? four? months? I think? Anyway, I'm trying my best to let it flow, like water. As I promised myself I'd do at the beginning of the year.   




"a portrait of my children one a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: She did not want to head back to the city, and especially she didn't want to head back to school. So I kept her home that first day back just to keep the holiday vibe going a bit longer.

Hugo: He's getting ALL OF HIS TEETH this week. Up until now, he's been, like, a little rabbit with just his front teeth and some molars. Now he's getting a full mouth all at once, and man, life is difficult for this little dude.

We're back from our beach holiday, and the adjustment to city living has not been so easy this time. Especially since our little French cousin came down with a terrible case of chicken pox. The poor guy is covered from head to foot in what seems like layer upon layer of pox. I've never seen a case like this (with all my vast medical knowledge, you know ;) ). Needless to say, we've been mostly confined indoors, no adventuring for us. Our visitors were meant to fly home yesterday, but unfortunately pox baby can not board a plane, so we're getting just a little longer with our fam, which, after all, isn't such a terrible thing, now is it?




"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: As usual, she came alive the moment we arrived at the sea. She spent the last week immersed in water, running up and down the beach, and chasing after her cousins who don't speak a word of English.

Hugo: He made big strides this week and actually touched sand! Though his shoes would not leave his feet, he did eventually agree to walk on the beach which, for this guy, is huge. 



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016."

Stella: "I'm an artist, mama!" She told me that the other day when we were painting. And I'd have to agree. I'm always fascinated by the colours she selects; it's not just your typical princess pinks and purples. She's into teal, mustard yellow, and almost always you'll find some black in her work. 

Hugo: He stands here, quiet for just a second. And then turns around, grins at me with a cheeky, knowing smile, and then leaps off the ledge.  



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016"

Stella: When I walk into the children's room in the morning, I often find you like this, cuddled up with your brother in his tiny toddler bed. And sometimes, when I wait just a little bit too long to rise myself out of my own covers, I come in to find that you've helped your brother out of his sleeping bag and changed his diaper for me.

Hugo: You turned two this week. You potty trained. You're talking more than ever before. But you're still, always and forever, my sweet little baby.



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Stella: She's learning to skateboard. We meet up with a friend a couple of times per week to skate in a shopping mall car park. She's getting better and better. She can turn now, but frequently requires breaks to demand snacks, sip water, and mope on the sidelines. 

Hugo: He's learning to use  the potty and is now sporting big boy jocks. He took to it fairly easily I must say. So proud of my big boy!