Today we took my mother (“Manou”) to the airport, and she’s returning to her Perth residence. I’m thankful for her presence here — she was the first person I called when I knew Elijah was drowned — and she and the girls have learned to give each other the space they need to be themselves.

Last weekend, Manou really made an impression on the girls when she entered into their games in the yard. She joined Aisha, Brioni, Heidi and Ivy in a complicated game of pirates which involved stealing and hiding treasure. Our girls loved her magnificently treacherous persona, and couldn’t work out if they should be really scared or just act frightened!

Heidi and Stephanie dressed as pirates, July 2012
Heidi and Manou raided our dress-ups box to create their pirate costumes.

Stephanie Bissett with Calista, Aisha and Brioni, July 2012
At the airport, our girls emerge from the car so they could pose for one last photo with Manou.

Our girls will remember Manou for the fun game she created, and I’m so glad they have this memory of her time with us. She’s also been a wonderful help in the shed — always doing the washing up and laying out beautiful things for our girls to eat.

Food for graziers, July 2012
Instead of preparing formal meals, Manou lures the girls with a tempting selection of healthy options.

Before we drove to the airport, we returned to Paradise Kids for another of our weekly group-therapy sessions. The girls love Paradise Kids and their friendly therapist.

Delaney and Calista playing at Paradise Kids, July 2012
The girls always love to return to Paradise Kids. The younger ones play with a range of toys while the older two chatter away to the friendly therapist.

Brioni and Aisha playing at Paradise Kids, July 2012
Brioni and Aisha love the craft activities. Today, they are encouraged to play with the puppets (named Madeline and Kotara) that they decorated in last week's session.

On our way to the airport, we drove through the super-dooper tunnel system under Brisbane city that also linked with the brand-new airport-link tunnel, and it felt like we were driving in Europe. The amount of engineering genius that goes into such a construction is boggling, and our girls were as excited by the tunnel as I was!

Stephanie Bissett with Calista, Aisha and Brioni, July 2012
At the airport, our girls emerge from the car so they could pose for one last photo with Manou.

Manou was very gracious in adjusting to our late-night, late-morning sleeping pattern, and I’m glad our girls got to know her better during this time. I’m sure she’ll sleep for a week when she gets back home — a well-deserved rest! Thanks, Manou!