Friday, December 01, 2017

The Next Chapter

The choice we made years ago was to explore the world and understand as much of it as we can. As Sojo will enter middle school next year, we knew it was a good time to transition as a family to a new country. We had no idea what was going to happen, only that it was a good time to go. Our only requirements for a new school were that it was dynamic and creative and felt like a place that would feel all our souls. If that match didn't happen, our plan was to take a year off together in Mexico. Pretty good plan B that allowed for us to take the leap and quit our jobs before we knew what was coming our way.

But, as often does in life when we leave the doors wide open for possibility, an amazing opportunity came our way. We are moving to Prague, Czech Republic next school year. It's a place that resonates with us on many levels: the school is visionary and creative and committed to changing education, the country is lovely and beautiful, and the jobs for me and Dale could not be more perfect. I will be the elementary librarian and Dale has been given the job of various music electives, which is downright dreamy.



Of course, as parents, we were worried about Sojo and the transition, but we have been talking about moving for over a year now, so it's slowly seeped in. She loved Prague when we visited (think swords, forging on the street, loads of trinkets to buy and street bread), and she is very excited about the chance to be somewhere bigger. She is a different kind of soul who marches to the beat of her own drum--a beautiful thing in many ways, but sometimes hard to find your people. She is hoping to find more people like her and to explore the myriad of sports and activities the school offers.


Until then, we'll soak up the not-too-cold desert winter, camp a bit more, and enjoy small town living until a bigger city comes our way.



Friday, November 17, 2017

The Memory Box



Sojo came across an old bathrobe she had Dale make for her stuffed roasted chicken (oh, roasted chicken! Such an old favorite of hers!), and that took us on this beautiful trip down memory lane filled with laughing about her quirkiness and remembering loads of funny stories from when she was younger.

She then decided we should go through all the memory box to check things out as it's been a while. I love, love, love this memory box and searched for years to find the perfect Chinese box. It has the clothes she wore on the day we became a family and tons of her writing from over the years. Plus, random stuff like "round pillow" and "square pillow" and Cowboy Chicken. As a parent, I adore how she knows exactly when she is ready to put something in the memory box and why it should go there.

And, more than anything, I am so very glad we kept so much of her writing through the years. She fully considers herself a writer and loves looking through her evolution of craft in different grades. From the hilarious drawings and invented stories when she was three to the voice and depth of her later years, we love looking back.



She is so big in this picture. And so big in real life. More and more, Dale and I find ourselves having deeper conversations about life and decisions and politics and people. So beautiful.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Reader

Seriously, this kid travels from room to room in the house with all seven Harry Potter books. She randomly chooses one and reads from anywhere in the books. It's hilarious, fabulous, and really heavy.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Harry Potter Birthday

As Harry Potter fever is rampant in this house, we went with an HP theme this year. Actually, we've rarely had a theme. Ok, maybe we had a theme once in second grade. In fact, we are very simple when it comes to birthdays, and we're all fine with that. Last year, I offered to make a Minecraft cake for Sojo's birthday sleepover, and she said (with no snarkiness at all), "Um, don't start being a fancy mama now. I'm fine with my normal cake."

But, fancy mama I was for this birthday (and fancy baba as well). Many have asked about how we put together the party, so I felt it was worthy of a blog post of HP goodness. This was my first foray into Pinterest-land, and it was a blast for everyone. Two hours from start to finish, which is my kind of party.

Ok, down to the good stuff:

1. Platform entry. Easy-cheesy and super fun.



2. Polyjuice potion! The kids went crazy over this one, and I had to make two batches. Our town actually had sherbet, which is a rarity, so I also went crazy over this one. Just a clear bowl, sherbet (lime, if possible, but I used rainbow and no one cared), Sprite to make it fizzy and neon green food coloring.



3. Butterbeer! Warm a bit of apple juice and butterscotch syrup (more juice than syrup, but you want it to be butterscotchy tasting. I found tiny mugs and used those as it's a bit rich of a concoction. Add about 1/3 of the warmed syrupy stuff and then put ginger beer on top. Add a smidge of whipped cream. Not everyone liked this, but one girl had three mugs full!




4. Hermione's beaded bag. This one was Sojo's idea, and it was brilliant. She is fascinated with Hermione's beaded bag in the book that holds everything (tents, framed portraits, the workds!) but looks just like a regular bag. I had buy-one-get-one-free bag from Claire's, so we put a slit in the bottom, attached it to a table and put the game prizes in there. So much fun!





5. Pottermore quiz! Since all the kids were older, we had computers set up with the Pottermore quiz when they came in. Everyone took the test and then put their name on the banners we had up on the wall. We did tell them that if you got the house you didn't want, you could change, but everyone was excited. I had written all the positive qualities of the houses on the banners.

6. Horcrux Scavenger Hunt! I found this one online and tweaked it to make it easier (we were down to the last minute on this one before guests arrived). I hid seven items around the house and they worked together to find them. A huge success, even though it was pretty easy for older kids.

7. The Wand Ceremony! This was by far my favorite part of the day, and it was our grand finale. We had purchased white helium balloons and Sojo drew owl faces on them. Ahead of the party, we had ordered handmade wands to give as gifts and had them shipped to Saudi (although the DIY ones looks fun to make at a party). We wrapped them in the morning, and Sojo wrote a small note about why the wand had chosen that person. She listed three positive qualities about the person on the note, which was very sweet. At the very end, Dale went upstairs on the landing and "sent down an owl" with the wand attached to the balloon for weight. Sojo then read the card about why the wand chose the person and presented it. The kids were giddy!



Overall, we had an absolute blast, and I'm kinda sold on being the fancy mama.




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Assembly Love

Sojo's fifth grade class hosted our first assembly of the year, and it was so sweet seeing her on stage. She even chose to wear her fancy blazer (also known as her single piece of clothing that is remotely fancy).



Our art teacher and counselor collaborated on a video of the class that was so profound that I could not help the tears pouring down my face. 

The kids were working on self-portraits and did what is called a blind drawing, where they each had a blindfold and drew their portrait without seeing. In addition, they studied the techniques for doing a quality self-portrait. Our amazingly wonderful counselor then met with all of them and talked about how they viewed themselves physically and as people. The two teachers worked together to create a black-and-white video with a photo series of each kid with their quotation about himself or herself. When I saw Sojo's, it made my heart burst. To know that a child can look in the mirror and know that she is who she wants to be is something that is amazing at any age. 



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

11!!

As a pre-celebration, we spent a weekend away in Bahrain with a friend (and his family) who shares a birthday that is close to Sojo's for what we called the Birthday Extravaganza! Breakfast at IHOP (ramen for Sojo as that is her perfect breakfast), and a stay at a cool hotel with a small water park inside. The weather is just starting to turn from crazy hot to mildly hot, so it was glorious.



And, for her actual day, she asked me to make a chocolate chip cookie cake, which I had never done. So many mama things I have never done! But, it turned out great. I then went to the cabinet to get the super cute candles I bought this summer in the US where they have everything. Hmmmm...somehow I could only find one of the number 1 candles I bought. We had a laugh about it.

Dale and I are so proud to be her parents and watch her grow. Her sense of who she is and what is important to her is so solid at such a young age, and she does not waver. Here are a few loves from this moment in time:

She loves ramen and building Bionicles and chillaxing.
She wears what she wants and not what is in fashion.
She is great at basketball but loves all sports.
Her favorite subject is PE.
She just weeks ago started picking up books on her own and is obsessed with Harry Potter.
She is a bit sassy, but just a bit. She refers to herself as witty, which really says it all. Such a fine line between wit and sass.

She is a cool kid.


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Almost 11


This girl. 

Almost 11.

Off to an evening swim class on her own, growing out of her new bathing suit already, kinda pre-teenish, and filling us with joy at every turn.