Monday, March 31, 2008

Introducing Barbie...

Just a bit over ten months ago, when we first adopted Sojo and went to get her U.S. visa, we stayed at a 'famous' hotel of the adoptive community called the White Swan hotel. One afternoon, there was a knock at the door, and we were presented with our very own Coming Home Barbie, made especially for families adopting in China. The message on the box says the following:

This souvenir is presented by the Mattel (Hong Kong) Ltd to adopting parents of Chinese orphan children staying at the White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou, China.

Truthfully, we had our hands full (still do!), and we were probably a little wigged out to see this blond Barbie holding an Asian baby (in hot pink stilettos, of course!), and somehow the box made its way to the back of the closet. Now, many months later, as we begin getting ready to move, I came across the box and decided to introduce Sojo to her first Barbie. No feminist movement here--I realize that most kids just plain love Barbie, and we grownups are the only ones who think about the fact that she is out of proportion and eerily similar to Pamela Anderson. I once read an essay by Barbara Kingsolver where she had decided not to give her daughter any Barbies because of the negative role model for women, until one day she overheard her daughter speaking to a friend about how when she grew up, she was going to have as many Barbies as she wanted. Sojo was curious about the blonde bombshell but much more interested in the little baby who fit perfectly in the palm of her hand. She wound up carrying her around for most of the day. Dale thought we should take the shoes off of Barbie to try and make her a bit more hippie, but I told him he was crazy because, really, the shoes are SO important when you have a Barbie! Plus, I think he didn't realize that Barbie's feet were molded to fit in stilettos. Some part of my memory tells me there was some sort of Barefoot Barbie at one point, although I can pretty much guarantee that Treehugger Barbie has yet to be invented.

If anyone out there is a Project Runway fan, I'm pretty sure the outfit was the Barbie design dress of Season Two. Just plain weird!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Xtended Beach Vacation

We arrived at the airport on Thursday to find that our flight back to Shanghai had been cancelled, and we couldn't fly out until Friday evening. Darn the luck--we had to stay at the beach one more day! YIPPEE! Here is how Sojo felt about one more day at the beach--note that we had a surplus of smiles in photos on this trip. The hotel had a playroom that she loved--hours of fun pretending to microwave food, ride horses and match blocks.
Felt more than a tiny bit bad for Sojo on our return home to the rainy, gray, chilly weather of Shanghai. At least she has her groovy butterfly umbrella that she prefers to push along in front of her rather than open. However, on her way to the bath tonight, she saw her bathing suits hanging to dry and started the 'yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyo' chant while walking around looking confused as to where the beach was. Poor thing has to make do with a bath and some splashing until the good weather settles in.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Present Moment

For years, I've worked hard on trying to live in the present moment. It has been a challenge, to say the least. I'm grateful that I don't dwell on the past, but perhaps because I have chosen a wandering lifestyle, I find myself often thinking of the future--the next trip, the next country, the next adventure. Recently, it dawned on me that for the first time since I can remember, I am living completely in the present moment. I have no desire to be anywhere except exactly at this place in time, hanging with Dale and Sojo, reveling in each glorious thing that comes moment after moment. I had no idea that having a child would bestow that upon me...I am humbled by all she brings me.

I love the juxtaposition of this picture
Capturing that smile
Reason #875 why Sojo rocks as a part of this family--she LOVES pesto like we do!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Beach, Beach and more Beach

Yea, I LOVE to climb up on tables and jump off. Never a dull moment!Basically we go back and forth filling up this bucket for her to just dump it out
This one is just too much!
Sojo and Tara sharing a pina colada sans alcohol
Like we said, never a dull moment!

There are so many great pictures from this trip that it's hard to choose each day which ones to post. The weather here is perfect--not too hot, and we realize that Sojo really thrives when she has wide open spaces. We've been cooped up inside for most of the winter and have almost forgotten how fab it is to run free! Our decision to move to Bangkok is solidified here on this trip.

A big WHOA on the 'Chinese paparazzi' today. Usually we are not approached while at our beach chairs, but once the tour busses let people off today, it seemed that all personal boundaries were null and void. We really do try and understand that culturally it's not a big deal here to enter people's personal space (that concept is really very much a North American concept) or to just pick up your kid without asking, but it was a bit too much today even for us, and we wound up leaving the beach and heading to the pool instead. I truly have a sliver of an understanding of what it might be like for a movie star. Basically, you want to say politely, "You all are very nice to think our kid is cute and charming, but can we please just play in the sand without 10 people giving her candy and trying to pick her up?" It's all coming from a good place, we realize, and so we'll go ahead and have the Sojo Show tomorrow, same time, same channel, same beach chairs. Heck, maybe we should just embrace the free candy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sunny Sanya

We are such beach people--the minute we get in somewhat balmy weather, we just sigh and feel right at home. Sojo is loving every minute of the beach and the pool, and as soon as her feet hit the sand, she plopped down and started smiling. Literally, the wooden step behind her in the picture is where the sand starts from the hotel area. Seems she is embracing the whole mantra chanting with her talking lately, and now it's "yoyoyoyoyoyoyo" meaning "swimming" as 'yo yong' means swimming in Chinese. Sanya is an interesting place, definitely a Chinese destination in China, which is interesting culturally because the Chinese don't like to lay in the sun. So, up and down the beach you see people fully clothed, often walking with umbrellas and in Hawaiian shirts AND matching shorts. We feel a bit like Brangelina because there is the normal intense curiosity about foreigners (especially some of the few who are actually wearing bathing suits on the beach); however, we look up from building a sand castle to find cameras pointed at us taking our picture. And that's away from the water's edge--once we get there, it's no holds barred. People encircle us rather quickly to talk to Sojo, and at this point, she takes it pretty well, which I'm glad about because sometimes crowds freak her out. It does take a tiny bit of maneuvering on our part to not have her (and us) feel overwhelmed by the curiosity. I'm attaching a video of Sojo taking baby to the ocean for the first time. Man alive, my voice really sounds like a mom when I hear it on video!

Sojo discovering one of her favorite animals, the elephant

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Bunny Visit

The Easter bunny was a hit! After Sojo picked out what she wanted to wear (I did point her in the direction of the dresses vs. the jeans I usually put on her), we started our mini Easter egg hunt in the living room. I found out that the basket was actually my father's when he was a kid, so it makes that connection even cooler for me. Then, to be totally 21st century, we actually decided to Skype my parents so they could be a part of the egg hunt as well, which yet again makes me feel like I'm living in the time of the Jetsons. Sojo needed just a few hints to get her started with the eggs, and then she was off and running. Her favorite part, before we got to the chocolate that is, was actually putting the eggs all back in certain places once she found them all.I love the eggs in the croc shoe the best.
Once the chocolate bunny was open at, ahem,....7:00 a.m.....she was in sugar heaven. Her only crying that morning took place when we pried the bunny out of her sticky fingers to put it away for a while. We then headed to our usual breakfast, and, as we ordered, she promptly threw up all over herself. Whoa! Thankfully, it seemed like her body just needed to purge some of the excess chocolate because she was fine after that-- smelly, but fine.

Sidenote: "Baby" now comes with us just about everywhere (we packed her stroller on this trip with us!), but I love the independence you can feel even from the back of Sojo. Now, the HILARIOUS part is that the front of that jacket says PRINCESS in humongous letters. Someone gave it to me (and it wasn't my mother--ha!), and Sojo loves it. I will admit I have to try really hard not to tell everyone who sees me that I didn't buy the jacket myself.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Friend

We started our spring break vacation by heading to our favorite breakfast place this morning as we do every Saturday, and some friends of ours met us there with their daughter Eva. Well, the two cuties hit it off immediately and had a ball together while the adults chatted over breakie. We are so proud of how Sojo is working on sharing with others, not an easy thing in life at any age. It is a challenge for her some days, and lately she has seemed more protective of her things. She can say the word 'share' now so I think the concept is sinking in, and it was great to see her sharing her baby doll and toys today with Eva. The two girls were a super match--both really curious and active and exploring the whole place with each other. On top of the active kid connection, they are both feisty and full of laughter and personality.

Our first Easter egg hunt as grownups tomorrow! I have Cheerios, Puffs, and marshmallows stuffed in those plastic eggs, and a chocolate bunny to boot, all ready to go into my basket I had as a child. Should be a blast. Then, we are off to Hainan Island in southern China tomorrow night for a few days at the beach. Since we are headed to Thailand in a few months, I stocked up on different sizes of bathing suits at a sporting store near us. Sojo is fully into dressing up in anything nowadays, so she has her bikini top ready to go. Note that Sojo is on the move in this picture. She still is not interested in any way, shape or form in posing for any picture. Often she stops doing whatever cute thing she was doing as soon as I get the camera. Side shots are as good as I get most of the time until her vanity phase sets in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bao Bao

Bao Bao means 'hug' in Chinese, and Sojo is dishing them out like ice cream these days. What is extra fun is she says 'bao bao' as she is doing it, like some sort of announcement that she is going to give a hug. She not only gives them to us--yippee!--but really to anything she deems interesting or exciting- dinner plates with pictures of fish on them, books, and even a telephone pole the other day (who knew they were so lovable!)

New word--'yummyyummyyummyyummy' all run togther means "I'm hungry." Hilarious to watch her standing at the pantry chanting this mantra.

Drawing with baba

Here's the 'bao bao' for the book picture

Getting ready for my Seattle summer in my sweatshirt!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Splash of Sojo

Just a quick one tonight of some recent pics. Sojo eating chili (eating in just a diaper is better for everyone!) and wearing her new bunny ears from gong gong. New word of the day--poop! Is it bad if Dale and I encourage her to say it often because it cracks us up? Tee hee!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tiny Dancer

Basically, all we really want to do is retire tomorrow and spend our days like this...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Let the Talking Begin!

This hat rocks! I've been looking forever for a groovy newsboy cap for a kid, and she's now at a stage where she doesn't pull hats off as much anymore.
Sojo is chatting up a storm of late, and I wanted to document all her first words in English, Chinese and sign language. There might be another invented language in there because one word she says constantly is "babadoooonnnnnggg." And I mean constantly!


mama (still doesn't mean me--still means milk)
baba (seems to mean both Dale and me)
fish (just the sh part)
shoe (just the sh part)
zebra (zzz)
Jacob (her best friend is called bobo to her)
up (bup!)

Chinese--here's at least what we understand in Chinese

mao (cat)
ma (horse)
ayi (auntie)
xie xie (thanks--sounds like 'shay shay')
bao bao (means 'hug' and the best part is she always tells you she is giving you a hug when she does it)
popo (grandma)

Sign--some official signs and many invented by Sojo

love (this one rocks!)
sorry (lot of practice on this with timeouts!)
bath (this has become her sign for anything associated with water)
all done

Friday, March 07, 2008


Uh-Oh is Sojo's new word, and she is definitely practicing it a lot because she says it about once every minute, but it's adorable every time. Even when I went to get her out of her crib this morning..."uh-oh." We are both kind of blown away by how much she communicates in sign language, and it lessens her frustration when trying to get her message across. Whoever thought of teaching sign to babies is a genius!

This girl simply loves to dance, and the monkey can often be seen hanging from Sojo's neck. Blogger is being cranky tonight and I can't seem to load the video of Sojo dancing. Will try again tomorow.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

More Birthday Wishes!

This time the love goes across the miles to Gong from the archives of last summer. Such changes!

Dear Gong Gong,

I don't really know what this thing is in my hands here, but I know it's something you love! This summer, I'll be bigger and we can play golf together in the backyard. Actually, I'll probably just pick up the balls after you hit them, but I know you will think that is fun, too. Thanks for always making funny animal growls and elephant sounds on Skype when I am eating my breakfast. I think you are silly and wonderful.

We love you! Sojo

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Nai Nai

Dear Nai Nai, I am sending you a big birthday hug and kiss! Thanks for always making me tons and tons of warm blankets for both Shanghai and Seattle! I especially love the bathrobe you made me, and sometimes I "ask" my mom and dad to let me wear it during the day just because it's so comfy and soft! I can't wait to see you this summer so we can snuggle up in those blankets together.

We love you! Sojo and the family