Tuesday, 31 December 2013

:: 2103 ::

As I write, a few end-of-year blog posts have popped into my inbox. All reflecting back over this past year - the good and the not-so-fun parts - and expressing hope and anticipation of what the coming year will hold. For us it's definitely been all of that: a wonderful year with a lot of beautiful moments and provision, but also a really challenging year in other aspects. As always it's hard to express the ugly side in the photos, as there has been a fair share, but overall we're ending 2013 in a really good space and looking forward to what 2014 will hold.

The beginning of this year brought us a small, cliff-top place to call home for several months. That it was to be demolished to have a bigger, better home built in its place, probably gives you an idea of the quality of the house itself. But we felt so blessed with the panoramic views overlooking the waters to Waiheke Island. We enjoyed the ever-changing vista that changed from mirror-like smooth waters to storm, raging seas from one day to the next. It was definitely a great place to be, though, during a 3-month drought, enjoying the outdoors for rainless weeks on end!

While we loved our view of the alps in Switzerland, and the wonderful access to walkways and car-less roads all over the countryside there, we've equally enjoyed living near the coast here. Particularly Eti, who has taken the girls on many adventures to the playgrounds, making beach swings over the waters, small trips in the kayak and to places where small bikes can be ridden freely. Our outdoor-loving girls have had a ball!!

Our girls have grown so much over this past year. It often amazes me to observe the learning ability and process of a young child. All they absorb through listening, watching and experiencing. We often giggle at the funny sayings that they come up with, or secretly watch them playing either together or alone. They are great friends, for much of the time, and their imaginations are wide and delightful. They have wonderful senses of humour, generous hearts, amazing memories, and can assert themselves quite effectively (and strongly, much to their mother's exasperation at times!). I have to remind myself that their determination was something we celebrated in their early days, and we will, no doubt, celebrate through out their lives, even if it also leaves me wondering how to best deal with the challenging moments...and questioning myself afterwards! Parenting is, for sure, the hardest thing I've ever done, but I wouldn't trade the privilege for all the world.

The most beautiful blessing of our whole year was the arrival of Théo Victor. After a very smooth pregnancy he arrived in time to let his French grandparents cuddle him before they returned home. From the beginning he has been a peaceful, happy little man who brings us a lot of joy. He does have a voice that can split ear drums, but thankfully that is rarely used! For the most part he is very happy to lie on his mat, chew, talk, chew, giggle, chew, dribble, chew and wait for mummy with impressive patience as she has been learning to juggle the needs of three little people. It took me quite a while to figure out how to do this, but my parents were beyond amazing with their support of us. Wow...if the Queen had only seen their service they would have surely topped the New Year Honours list this year!

So often I've come to bed at night and said to Eti how sweet our children are and what a blessing it is to have them.

Eti has adapted into NZ life remarkably well, in spite of finding himself in a very frustrating, discouraging work situation. For several months it was very challenging on him, and also for me...having a new baby and seeing my husband struggling so much. Thankfully there was a complete change-around when he was placed permanently at a large work site that his company have a contract with. He now goes to work so much happier and his whole demeanor has changed. Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully!! He's a fun papa, often found outside creating a new swing for the tree, or painting the playhouse...up for adventures to the beach, river or playgrounds. Living in NZ hasn't always been easy, which I can understand in part from living in other places where culture and language are foreign. But he has dug his toes in and has overcome and pushed himself in several situations.

Later this year we were given another amazing provision of a new place to call home, as the date that we needed to leave our current home closed in. We are now living in the countryside and loving that!

This year has held its share of celebrations and sadness. We loved being around to celebrate my brother Matt's marriage to his beautiful Jomine. We've loved getting to know our cute little cousins born over this past year, and living so (relatively) close. On the bittersweet side, my Grandma died this past week. Her health had deteriorated somewhat steadily following the death of my Granddad several years ago. Her death leaves a great hole because she was such a warm, loving, hospitable, wonderful woman to so many people. But to know that she is now free from discomfort and a body that limited her in so many ways during these last years, and is in the presence of Jesus (and Granddad!), that knowledge more than cushions the blow of our loss. Early in the morning I will take a flight down south with Théo and Dad to honour her life, leaving Eti to man the ladies of the house. I perhaps didn't ask the right question this morning when I asked the girls if they'd miss mummy. "Ummm...not really" was the thought-out and reassuring response (said in a very proper English accent - cracks me up!) :o)

So, 2014 awaits us in a mere 3 hours! No doubt it will also bring joys and challenges, but there are several things that we anticipate. In the coming weeks we really look forward to visits from friends from Switzerland, then to our visit to Switzerland later in the year. Time will continue to roll on and threaten to sweep me up in endless lists of things-to-do, but I'm determined to let go of what's not necessary and to enjoy the moments of these precious years with our small children. We look forward to being more settled, after moving 6 times in 5 years, and making friends...which is surprisingly one of the hardest things to do when starting out somewhere new. We look forward to simple things like starting a vege garden, sharing meals with others around our table, adventures out and about and celebrating whatever we can. And this is our hope for you, too. That your 2014 will be filled with plenty of simple joys, times spent and enjoyed with others.

Let it begin ;o)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

:: a thousand angels are singing out ::

Do you hear the sound?
A thousand angels are singing out.
 To God Almighty we're bowing down
And that's what Christmas is all about!

Oh to hear a thousand angels praising God on that night so many years ago when He became man and was born on earth in a completely humble position, to grow and teach us how to truly live. Amidst all the excitement and rush and crossing off of to-do-lists, we wish you a wonderful Christmas season. Whether you're celebrating with a lot of people, just one or on your own, we pray your heart will be warmed with encouragement as you participate in this day of Life, Love and generous Giving. 

We leave you with this fun Christmas song (brought to you by some current favourites for our girls) and some recent photos. 

(we have a Papa who is awesome at making swings!)

Opening some presents on Christmas Eve - new books from Grand-Papa et Grand-Maman!!

Be safe in your travels, enjoy the true Spirit of the season, and be blessed as 2013 comes to a close ;o) 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

:: at home in the valley (a very overdue post!) ::

A post here is so overdue that this one will probably be quite a patch-work quilt of random thoughts and happenings for us over the last few weeks. We are now in our new little farm cottage and really loving it. The first week I literally walked around the house saying "Thank you God!!" because it really is such a gift to us in so many ways, from the location to the fact that our couches match the curtains, wooden and tiled flooring in the living area/kitchen, and there's wallpaper like this...

(I can justifiably and quite happily use the word retro to describe many features of our little place) :o)

It's definitely a country home, complete with a trio of magpies and a letterbox we can leave letters in for the postie to take, as well as receive (love this!), but it's not so far out of the nearby village or wider city that we feel completely isolated. It's a surprisingly busy little road that we live on! There is plenty of interesting traffic going back and forth throughout the days, from logging trucks to a purple school bus, horse floats and a very random-looking, nomadic flock of turkeys, who were abandoned years ago, keep growing in number and roam around the general area. Their ringleader appears to be a very disheveled looking white turkey and their looks are almost as strange as their noise! But they're very harmless entertainment, as they follow one another hopping over fences and spend their days grazing the fields.

Meanwhile, we spend our days inside and out doing a variety of simple activities. Having three little people means that often I need to cut down my perfectionist expectations of myself to be a super mum and have fun, educational activities to do with the girls, while also not leaving the little man on his mat for too long. So I'm learning to scratch those expectations and be more realistic with simple days that involve not much more than household jobs around reading books and getting some paper and pens out from time to time!

Thankfully, being a twin means you always have someone to entertain yourself with, and these little minds are full of imagination and games!

Having a beautiful, sunlit living area like this reminds me of our home in Switzerland where we had a similar lounge lined with windows. I love it!

Fresh, juicy lemons - a gift from our neighbours/owners who are lovely and take such great care of us and this little house we call home now! This post is now completely overdue and, in an effort to also send out a Christmas family post today, I'll leave you with the following photos of our first days and weeks here and carry on writing behind the scenes ;o) I deleted the disclaimer I wrote write at the beginning of this post and can't get it back, so I'll write it here. Please, as you see these photos and read this post, remember that, chances are that your life is just like ours in many ways...filled with things to be thankful for and also things that challenge us. The photos probably portray a tranquil, peaceful life with beautifully behaved children, perfect babies and a mummy who is able to keep a million balls in the air without dropping one. Of course all are completely unrealistic! ;o) We have our fair share of chaos, grumpiness, raised voices and tears (from all of us!), so remember through any post you read of ours, or photo you see, that they only portray one facet of our lives. An albeit important one that we try to focus on - in being thankful for what we have and experience - but there are many other sides to this diamond of life!