the year that was.

The year in review. Including selfies. Perhaps the most sybaritic piece of blogger trickery imaginable. But. 

Twelve months ago, at just about this same time, I dove headfirst into the changeover of year. So eager to begin again, I didn't stop to consider what had come before, or what the coming year wanted of me.

So. Headfirst with a plan but not much clarity.

I didn't achieve many of my professional goals in 2012. A few pieces of writing published, one or two of which I'm particularly proud, but not on the order of what I had expected of myself. And amidst this certain degree of floundering, I don't want to forget to remember what a beautiful year it really was. 

Look at this girl. She was still a baby at the turn of the year. Way back in Japan. It was a lifetime ago.

And then, with a first haircut, suddenly I had a toddler.

A toddler who liked to empty my wallet and demand MILCH at Starbucks (oh wait, that has not changed at all.)
We made our first ever trip to Tokyo to secure a Swiss passport for my little traveler, and stayed at the same hotel in which Lost In Translation was filmed. Believe me, despite the fact that our time in the city was lightening quick (and mostly business) this fact made it a trip of a lifetime. 

Chilly and dark in Japan, but still, my timorous little girl learned to scale the highest peaks of the play structure at the park while my heart lodged itself firmly in my stomach.
Stella and I flew off to China for a visit with some old friends in Beijing.
We experienced a real cold winter, real frozen lakes....
explored the hutongs, and the slower, kinder pace of Northern China...
before heading South on bullet train traveling 400 KM each hour, to Shanghai, where Mr. Chef and I lived for three years. Stella and I met baby Jackson for the first time, and I adopted him, and Stella adopted his mum.
And though the city had changed almost totally, it also remainedexactly the same, and I got to remember why I loved it (and hated it) so hard for those three years.
Stella and I arrived back in Japan and were greeted by ume blossoms, a sure marker that Spring was finally gaining ground.
Then the plum blossoms fell, and my girl got sick. 
So sick. She needed IV fluids and oh how I worried about her.
But then Baby Jackson came to visit us, with his gummy grin, and we all cheered up, so we could enjoy some warm(ish) weather, beach-side.
April brought sakura blossoms, and a visit from Nannie. Hooray!

This girl was beyond thrilled to have her grandmother around. And I took great advantage of free babysitting.
We admired the cherry blossoms, 

hand a hanami picnic on Easter Sunday,

and rode our bikes to the beach.

Also: free babysitting = the first date Mr. Chef and I had in exactly two years.

We drove down the coast of Kyushu, chased this baby up and down the beach, and enjoyed lushness and green that I never before knew existed on that Island. 
Mr. Chef came too, and we were all so glad.

My mum and I took a little trip and found this amazing shrine atop a mountain, hidden in clouds on a brilliant blue day.

May saw Mother's Day and a little hint that some change might be around the corner.

One major change: potty training.

Another: turning two.

With a park picnic, and a shopping spree in the toy store.

On a clear early summer day, Mr. Chef, Stellabella and I drove up the coast to this amazing beach, two sacred rocks facing due West.

Irises bloomed, and their appearance held a special meaning for us this year, as we began to suspect that our days in Japan were becoming few.
So Stella and I set about visiting some of our favourite spots, to remind ourselves that of what good there was in this place where our family was born.
We also ate a lot of ramen. Like, I mean, A LOT.
Then packed our bags for a trip across the ocean. 
These two boys were not happy about our goodbyes.
But then we said hello to some much beloved old (and new) friends. 
These two had met only once before when they were teeny-tiny, but somehow their bond was just as strong as the one their mothers shared. 

A month of airplanes. 
And jet lag. And afternoon naps aplenty.
We drove up to my parents' lake house where I think it rained about never, and we spent the entire time on the lake in one form or another. There was quite a lot of wakeboarding, and a good few courage beers.

And lifejacket wedgies. Because nothing says Canadiana childhood summer like a lifejacket wedgies.

Then back acorss the border to my parents' suburban paradise. Stella still talks about the fact that she got to water Nannie's garden. 
We arrived back in Japan, again jet lagged, and longing for afternoon naps. But alas, they were much too scarce. For we had six days in which to pack up our apartment, make a visa run to Tokyo, and head to our new home on the other side of the equator. 
August. Where do I even begin?

My first birthday in the Southern Hemisphere. Tropical wonder. Indonesia. Ramadan. The Adhan five times a day. Humid air so still. Love. The most gorgeous light.

Also insane traffic. 

Did I mention the afternoon light?

Oh and this wee girl started pre-school. No biggie. (TOTAL BIGGIE!!!!)
More exploration, more wonder. More beautiful golden light.
We moved from our hotel into our apartment. This is what it looks like in the afternoon. Light.
And then promptly moved back into the hotel again. Oy.
But that debacle was nothing a good date night and a few extra papi cuddles couldn't fix.

We moved back into our apartment. Hooray!
And our shipment arrived, with all of our furniture and toys. This was the very first thing that got unwrapped.
There was more exploring to be done. We discovered car-free Sundays in central Jakarta. 
I held what is probably the most adorable little animal known to man (Stella did not approve.)
She did, however, make an adorable little chef for Halloween.
The rainy season started. And orchids bloomed. Like for real.
More papi cuddles.
And a few from mummy.
And our first bajaj ride. Stella now uses this word regularly, to express her displeasure with being made to take a taxi and demand trips in tuk-tuks instead. 
Oh, and someone graduated to her BIG GIRL BED!!! And only fell out twice.
We discovered this place. It was beautiful.
And prepared for Christmas amidst tropical splendour. 
Samichlaus came. 
So did Santa. Doesn't she look impressed? (Oh, she also discovered an extreme hate-on for candy canes.)
And Christmas. Our first one in our new home.
So. Quite a year. Quite a trip. So much wonder, so much light, and unbounded movement.
I guess, maybe, what I'll hope for in 2013 is stillness. 
Thanks for indulging me. It was good medicine.