Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Plan A for Halloween


Plan A usually means a Plan B is in the works...For Sojo's first Halloween, I actually got myself organized ahead of time (not a common trait for things like this) and bought her this adorable zip-up ladybug costume when my parents were here. Just the other night, I thought it would be fun to put Sojo in it to see what it looked like. Let's just say Sojo didn't think that was as much fun as we did. We attempted to stuff her sausage legs in this costume, but there was no way she was going to fit in it. Lots and lots of howling and crying on her part as we tried 3 different ways to get it to fit until we finally gave up (and hopefully didn't scar her for life on this Halloween thing). Dale then thought to cut the feet out of the costume to try and give her some more leg room but alas, this was not successful either. What to do for a kid's first Halloween that will last about all of 15 minutes and she'll never remember anyway? Luckily, a friend happened to mention she had a bunch of costumes so we are set for tomorrow night. I'll keep it a surprise for one more night but it should be fantastic. One of the coolest things about having a kid is the downright giddiness about once normal activities--I simply can't wait to go trick-or-treating tomorrow night!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sojo-ese


The little cutie is trying so hard to express herself lately, but she simply doesn't have the words to do it yet. So, instead she has her own language of just a few words that mean a lot of things. Here is our translation:

1. dee dee dee dee--said in a sweet voice means "I like this, this is good."

2. DEE DEE DEE DEE!!!!!--said in an obviously frustrated and louder voice means, "I don't like this, change it immediately!"

3. Mama--now one might think this is referring to the loving mama she has who takes care of her, but NO...not the case! "Mama" means just about everything right now from "bottle" to "I'm hungry" to "Take my finger to help me get to that thing over there that looks interesting."

Since she is living a life of two languages, she appears to be understanding more Chinese now than English. We realized the other day that if we said, "Give mama and baba a kiss" in English, we got a whole lot of nothing, but when we changed to Chinese, she came zooming in for one of her awesome cheek kisses. We're also trying to use sign language with her to help her communicate. She knows the word for 'more' and uses it during mealtime, especially with her current food fav of yogurt. As I am feeding her one spoonful, she already has the 'more' sign going for the next spoonful.

Monday, October 22, 2007

She's Mobile!

Look out world--here comes Sojo! We got off the bus the other day, turned the corner and saw Sojo barreling towards us, arms stretched out and looking so proud to be walking alone. We could barely get her to sit down that first day (ok, most days we can barely get her to sit down), but since then she's been more tenative and still grabbing onto our fingers. We're ready for extra massages due to the hunching over necessary to keep her from crashing into things as she wobbles along. What I am loving about this age is just how long it takes us to get places with all her stopping and checking things out along the way. We always leave with plenty of extra time, but I love to watch her take it all in, from her head back checking out the leaves blowing in the trees to her squealing when she sees a dog.

Trying a new video here b/c Youtube is blocked in China now. Crossing my fingers it will work...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Small World


My cousin Ryan and his wife Marcy are traveling through China and came to our house for dinner tonight. It's been about 12 years since we've seen each other, and I've never even met Marcy (but have heard rave reviews for years!). We had a wonderful time talking, laughing and sharing stories of life and travels. I love reconnecting with people in foreign lands; there is a great energy and immediacy to it for some reason. Already planning a possible trip to Vietnam to see them before they move on.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Family Tradition


In my family, there is a birthday tradition where my father reads a proclamation that starts out "HEAR YE! HEAR YE!" and then lists all the qualities that he and my mother are thankful for in each of my brothers and me. As kids, my two brothers and I thought it was a bit cheesy, but as we grew, we came to love it. Even at almost 39 years old, I wait each year for my HEAR YE! HEAR YE! birthday phone call and the list of my good qualities. We have started the same tradition with Sojo this year, and here is her very first HEAR YE! HEAR YE!

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!
Let it be known that on this day, October 9, one year ago, Sojo Aini Ethridge was born in Kunming, in the beautiful province of Yunnan, China.

We are thankful for her joining our family and bringing us so much laughter and a higher level of awareness of ourselves and the love that surrounds us.

We are thankful for the depth and serenity and understanding that seem to radiate from Sojo's eyes as they apprehend us each time we look at her.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!

Let it be known that we love little Sojo's laugh, her giggle, and her squeal as she runs around the house, barely holding on to one of our fingers.

We love how she trusts us completely to catch her each time she does a 'spawning salmon' from against the back of the couch.

And, that we love how each day she gives us "love" with a wet, open mouth pressed up against our cheek and her little arms spread around us.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE!

Be it known that we rejoice in her presence everyday in our lives.

We rejoice in her face lighting up whenever she first sees us coming home from work.

And we rejoice in the purest form of love that she gives us whenever she gently lays her head against ours.

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! SOJO IS ONE YEAR OLD TODAY!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sojo is One!


Sojo turned one year old on October 9! While we were at school, Popo and Gong Gong made her the cutest cake with a duck on it. She loved every minute of the cake and frosting and especially loved opening presents. Her newest thing is literally squealing with delight over things she loves. Dale and I commented that we completely forgot how much fun a birthday party can be while we watched Sojo loving every minute of it. We are so grateful to have that sweet girl in our lives as she brings us such joy and laughter. It seems now that she is changing every hour of the day--she's now crawling on all fours, barely holding onto our hand as we walk together and ready to take on the world.

We had to say goodbye to my parents after a whirlwind two weeks together. Lots of ordered-in dinners, early bedtimes for us all and great conversations during their visit. They showered enough love to last Sojo until Christmas when we see them again.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

So Sweet


Man alive, I love this photo that I captured today while at the neighborhood playground. A tiny hint of a smile and those eyes that are so dark you can't even find the pupils. Lately, Sojo isn't interested one bit in smiling for the camera. She'll be laughing away, see the camera and give the famous deadpan, super serious look. Too much! We had a ball today as a family with Sojo back to her old self, my dad chasing her around the house with a tiger growl, my mom feeding her beets that she loved and singing songs and all of us loving the heck out of Sojo.

A few stats for the record--when we took her to the doctor the other day, she now weighs 8.75 kilos, or 19.25 pounds, and she is 28 inches long. Somehow she feels heavier than that...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

She's Back!


After about 72 hours of lots of whimpering or full-on crying, Sojo seems to be feeling better and is on her way back to her old self again, complete with smiles and cruising around the house at warp speed. And just in the nick of time because I don't think Dale and I could take another middle-of-the-night viewing of Baby Einstein's "Day on the Farm" (sing along everyone! the cows give us milk, the cows give us milk, hi ho the derry oh, the cows give us milk!) to get Sojo to calm down. A HUGE thanks to Nai Nai Patsy for sending the Baby Einstein videos--they saved us this week! When she was sick, we did get a chance to see just how strong the bonding has been with the three of us in four short months-she became quite clingy (not a bad thing!) and really needed her mama and baba. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Catching Up



TIme got away from us a bit, so a quick catch-up. We went to a great place called Century Park, which is almost like the Central Park of Shanghai complete with a huge lake and four-person bikes you can rent. This is where the clown festival was being held, so we pedaled around for a while and Sojo went on her first ride. Looking at Dale on the bumblebee ride had me simultaneously smiling with joy and also laughing hysterically at how things change when you are a parent...Sojo was not a fan of the ride, and she just sat there the entire time with her stoneface look.

All that fun went south yesterday when Sojo suddenly got a bad cough and cold, compounded with a fever. Poor thing! We took the day off today and took her to the doctor--she has an ear infection along with the cold, plus she is teething. A triple whammy! All she did today was whimper and moan and we all felt sorry for her because she just looked so sad and sick. The only thing she wanted was her half-deflated helium balloon we bought her a week ago. Look at that face...breaking our hearts.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Aquarium Magic


It's amazing to me how this child, who spent the first 7 months of her life in an orphanage and whose exposure to water I can only assume was in the form of some type of quick bath, is completely at home in the water. She just loves it, splashes like crazy, goes underwater with help and has a pretty darn good frog-kick. We've begun mommy and me swim classes on Saturdays to nurture this love of hers. Perhaps then it shouldn't have been a surprise that our trip to the aquarium was a huge hit for Sojo. She loved every minute of the fish, did her knee-bend dancing to show her enthusiasm and pointed at everything she loved. The only time she cried was when she saw exhibits that had the surface of the water showing--she wanted to get in with the fish and didn't understand why we wouldn't let her jump in. Fearless and fascinated...much like my dear friend Sharon and her relationship with the sea. About halfway through the aquarium, where we spent more time watching Sojo's gorgeous reaction to the fish rather than the fish, I got teary thinking of Sharon and her stories of the underwater world I've heard over the years. She often talks of this magical place in the Red Sea and of petting giant manta rays. All I could picture was Sharon taking Sojo on her first dive years from now and the two of them in heaven underwater...