Monday, April 28, 2008

This Ain't Your Grandma's Sewing Machine

Wait--it might be your grandma's sewing machine! Being as I am truly, wildly inspired by the book I bought called The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule, I went on a quest to buy my own sewing machine. Yes, I can hardly believe it myself, but all I want to do is make things for her. It's semi-intoxicating and completely surprising to me, but I'm embracing it. In a city of 23 million, I was told by my tailor that there is one shop that sells sewing machines. His instructions were simply two cross streets and "look for the old people in the shop." He was on the mark with the old people (cursing my cell phone camera that has the best picture but I can't seem to download it), and the only sewing machine available was this new old-fashioned machine, complete with yellow butterflies and a huge MADE IN THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA label on top. They all showed me how to work it, and until I get my spiffy Hello Kitty! machine when I hit the U.S., this is my baby.

My first project that I finished tonight (feel a bit like a 3rd grader wanting to jump up and down with excitement!) was a colored pencil holder for Sojo.
It came straight from the Creative Family book and was a great first project to feel successful. We literally have a garbage bag filled with African fabric to choose from, and it's finally been put to use after sitting in our house for five years now.

And of course I couldn't write a blog without a picture of Sojo. When the creative bug hit me hard, a groovy friend showed me how to weave a bit, and I made Sojo a belt. It was a bit too small for her Buddha belly, so she wears it as a headband. Appreciate the support, Sojo!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let the Sunshine In!

Woke up to sunshine streaming through the windows and the promise of a fabulous Saturday. Sojo even slept until 6:30, and when I went to check on her (still paranoid fears that something is wrong if the child sleeps past 5:30), she was just chillin' in her crib. Part of me thinks she was also reveling in the fact that spring might really be here--finally.

Wound up spending the whole morning with friends at our breakfast place. The girls had a ball running around, Sojo loving that they coincidentally were both wearing polkadots (new word of the day: "PO") and they proceeded to run around both inside and outside the restaurant for hours. Who knew throwing leaves down the sewer hole could be so fun?! These two get along like a house on fire, which, as a parent, I love. And I also feel so comfortable with her parents because none of us take ourselves too seriously; we laugh it off when one kid is grabbing something from the other instead of worrying. I guess I should think of kids like anyone else in life: you meet a ton of people as you go along, most are nice, but every now and then you meet someone and it just clicks. These two click. I could see them getting into lots and lots of trouble together.

Taking the shower curtain/water play outside on the grass when Sojo wakes up from her nap. All week, Sojo has looked at the place on the floor where we did it last week and said, "bye bye shui." That means it was a hit in my book.

Checking out the canal.
As always, walking her own path
Mom, this outfit is downright adorable!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend Fun

I decided to make an indoor water play activity for Sojo this weekend because it isn't quite nice enough to do it outside yet, and I knew she'd dig it. Predicting a huge mess, and making peace with it, I used a shower curtain to lessen the water on the floor. Kinda forgot about lessening the water on her as I didn't think to strip her down, but she loved pouring the water on her jeans. We've taken to the strategy of saying 'bye bye' to activities to make the transition easier, so it was 'bye bye shui (water)' all day Sunday when she saw the spot where we played with the water. I need to find more of these activities as she was very content and focused. Living in Thailand will be great for her to sit in the sun/shade and move water from one container to another for hours on end.

This weekend, I ran an 8K race that took place right outside our apartment building. Can't beat that for proximity. Sojo and Dale came to cheer me on with my own GO MOMMA! sign. Sojo crashed hard at the end, but it was great to actually get a picture of the three of us finally!

Mom-sanctioned mess

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I guess we should be grateful that it took 18+ months for us to finally hear a somewhat snarky "NO!" as a response from Sojo yesterday. Somehow the wagging of the finger to say no and the shaking of the head are borderline cute but the vocal NO! solidifies the challenging time we are entering/in the midst of. We're loving her right through it, but wow, things fall apart quite quickly these days. I feel that maybe we should stay away from public places for a while after I gracefully made an exit from a restaurant the other afternoon with a screaming child in my arms. While walking home, she calmed down, but then got upset again because while we were looking at the moon rising, she said, "Up! Up!" and I couldn't take her to the moon. Fascinating in many ways to watch all the processing going on in her brain right now.

Sojo is chatting up a storm of late. Other words that aren't easy to translate as NO! are...
1. bee-o bee-o meaning peanut butter
2. cap i tah! meaning caterpillar (new favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar)
3. "choo choo fa!" The 'fa' part threw us here, but currently her 2 favorite nighttime stories are about a train and a frog.

And our little style queen showed up at the bus the other day wearing these fancy sunglasses AND a bindi (fabulously fun jewelry stickers from India)on her forehead. I not-so-secretly love this!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Active Girl

A neighborhood kids' center had an Open House last week sponsored by Toys R Us, and I brought Sojo over to have a peek. A bunch of Disney characters met us upon arriving, and our fearless Sojo just ate it up. She marched right up to all of them and stood there so tiny saying HI, HI, HI over and over until they noticed her. Mickey even got a hug, and she is currently fixated on the picture of the two of them together.

Now onto the sample classes. We'd love to have Sojo do some sort of music or movement class to break up the day a bit and have some time with a bunch of other kids. The super sweet "Teacher Becky" asked everyone to gather round and get some bells so we could do a song. Sounds like fun, I thought, but as you can see in the picture, Sojo took the bells and headed in the other direction. Yup--all the other kids sat in the circle with their caregiver while Sojo climbed on things and went down the slide. I think it's official that we have an "active child." Being teachers, Dale and I joke about Sojo's future preschool reports home: "Sojo is very enthusiastic in class and has a lot of energy. This quarter, we will work on her sharing skills." In teacher-ese, that means "Man alive, this kid won't sit down!" Mind you, we do love that she is energetic and active- 99.9% of the time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

She's Officially a Groupie!

Dale and his friend Andre played a Sunday afternoon gig at a local pub down the road from our apartment, and the best thing about British pubs is that they encourage kids to come hang out and run around while their parents drink beer! So lots of little kids her age, awesome live music, and a girl who loves to rock and roll. She was front and center as a groupie, dancing away. Interestingly enough, she was more of a fan of Andre's--when Dale first started playing, she went up to the amp and tried to turn it off. Not because she isn't a fan of his music, but there was a wee bit of jealousy there, I think. We both have such beautiful visions of Sojo growing up surrounded by live music and sunny afternoons with baba playing guitar.

A still moment watching mama take pictures
Yea, Dale was loving this--look at that smile!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Place in the Sun

Still feeling so inspired from the creative mom blog I mentioned before, and so on yet another IKEA run (there isn't one in Bangkok, so this is how I justify) I picked up a small rug and added a basket of books to put in the living room to create a special reading place that steals a little sliver of our springtime sun. Sojo loved it, especially that the basket of books had new non-fiction ones I picked up at the springtime book sale in my library.

In true Sojo fashion, she sat and enjoyed the books for a short while, and then I could almost see the wheels start turning. Wait, said her wee active brain--if I turn this basket over and dump all the books out, I could climb on this and do my "CHAMPION!" pose. Yea, that's what I'll do.

The book pictured is a new favorite. The little raccoon keeps asking his mom when she loves him the most--is it when he snuggles in with her in the morning, is it when he swims so well by himself, etc? Melts your heart to find out that she always loves him best right now. Sojo's not ready to sit for a whole story yet, so this one will have to wait for a while.

Random Sojo update: On our recent beach vacation, Sojo kept saying something that sounded just like the word "W." Hmmm..strange, but sounded very cool as she tends to use the Chinese tones with her English words. Picture the word BALL sounding long and drawn out like a Southern drawl but with a sing-song effect. When we got home, she said it again and then we realized she was pointing to the letter W. It is the only letter she knows, and it was the ayi who taught her, hence the Chinese tones in the pronunication, and she is on the lookout for W's everywhere. Just had to convince her to stop typing WWWWWWWW on this blog posting.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Some Baba Sweetness

Just a dose of mid-week baba and Sojo sweetness. 2 lucky ladies living in this house.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I stumbled upon the most heartfelt, inspirational blog this past week. SouleMama's musings on 'conscious parenting' have resonated with me more than any parenting book could ever do. I found myself reading her blog like a good novel; anytime Sojo went to sleep, I snuggled in with the Mac and started the next chapter, so to speak. Their family encourages creativity and is just brimming with love and laughter. I plan on buying her book, The Creative Family, the minute we arrive in the U.S. this summer.
So, this past Sunday, in honor of family and creativity, Sojo and I baked this yummy, healthy bread recipe that I found on her blog. I plopped Sojo on the counter, and she was a great help by eating all the raisins I put in a bowl (hence the black stuff in her mouth) and by stirring her own flour mixture. The following morning, we ate our bread at our early a.m. tea party. A treat for everyone since we usually just pretend to eat and drink coffee/tea.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sojo's Spring Ride

Signs of spring this weekend after what seemed like a long winter inside. Somehow we have never taken Sojo on a bike ride--first we had no kid seat, and then I couldn't find the key to my bike lock after our move last year. Well, this Sunday, it was springlike enough for us to get her out there even if it meant Dale and I had to take turns riding Sojo around (never did find the key!). She is a big fan of the wind on her face so riding was a big hit. Lots of chattering away on the back of the bike, and we were totally surprised that she kept the helmet on most of the way to the store and back. Hopefully the first of many such family rides in the sunshine...

My new favorite picture of Sojo. She's getting her hand ready to point to her helmet because she is so excited about it. We didn't realize until later that she often wears it around the house with Xiao Liu, so she must have been stoked to see that it had a purpose other than pure decoration. Please also note that if you look closely, it does indeed say Princess on the side of her helmet. This is obviously becoming a theme with her.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Love of Mint Green and Grandma

Mint green--not the most popular color out there, but one I absolutely adore. It was the color of my grandmother's house growing up and became firmly set in my heart as a perfect color from a young age. I loved that house as much as I love her: stairs worn from years of footfalls, the grate on the floor of the room I slept in that was placed right above the kitchen stove so I could talk to her while she was cooking, a cellar with a dirt floor, and her chair that sat in the alcove by the window where one could stare out at the land and the highway that ran right outside her front yard. To this day, I am probably one of the few people in the world that actually likes falling asleep to road noise. Thankfully, our summer house is near a main road, so the tires on wet road carry up the hill into my bedroom at night for a few months a year.

For some time now, I've tried to convince Dale that painting our house mint green is a splendid idea. However, it's a hard color to convince someone of, I admit. So imagine my delight the other day when I was at IKEA and spotted the most perfectly simple and gorgeous mint green cafe chair. I scooped it up (only one--selfishly just for me!) and promptly used it to create a little sacred space in our kitchen where I can write and blog and contemplate life after Sojo goes to sleep. Of course, buying the chair had me thinking of my grandma the whole time, and while waiting for my friend to finish shopping, I had my first sit in the chair and got all teary right there in the IKEA checkout area. I love my grandma so much--this lovely woman who can do everything, make everything, and cook everything! She discovered her independence later in life, and now guards it fiercely and with such pride. This one is for you, grandma, as I sit in my mint green chair tonight and write this. I love you to pieces and miss you dearly. Love, Tara

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Me, Me, Me!

Sojo went over the top in hilarity and cuteness today, and I had to shelve the blog I had planned on writing to make room for today's event. Friends here are moving and sold us a ton of their daughter's awesome IKEA kid furniture, so we moved it all into Sojo's playroom today. It is so organized--even down to musical instruments in one area, small stuffed toys in one drawer, puppets in another. Mind you, Sojo just takes everything out the minute we put it in a drawer, but the POTENTIAL for neatness is there! One of the items in the lot was a mirror. For the last week or so, Sojo has been practicing her name by running up to the mirror in our closet and saying, "SOJO!" (actually, something between TOJO or JOJO but you get the picture). She says it in this voice and tone that make it sound like she is being introduced at a rock concert--SOJOooooooo! Well, when she saw the mirror especially for her room, she planted herself in front of it and really got to know herself today. This girl has the attention span of a raisin, and rarely does something hold her attention for very long, but the sight of herself did it today. She watched herself eat Cheerio after Cheerio in the mirror, watched herself dance, walked away from it only to come right back and check on herself, and ran up to it yelling, "SOJO/TOJO/JOJO!" Even before her bath tonight, she felt the need to get just one more look at herself before the night came to a close. I imagine we'll spend some quality time there tomorrow as well.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sleep Revisited

When I look back at the blog, I realize that the recurring theme, other than Sojo's sweetness, is the lack of sleep and our adjustment to that lack of sleep. Just to revisit that topic, during the last few months Sojo has become an awesome sleeper, and we might even look a bit younger and less haggard because we are getting more sleep! Ok, maybe not younger, but definitely more rested. She now goes right to sleep most nights at 7:00 and just in the last few weeks, she'll sleep all the way to 6:15 or so. About a month ago, my alarm went off one morning, and I seriously had no idea what it was! I then realized that it had been about nine months since I actually slept in long enough to hear the 5:30 alarm go off. Hope I don't jinx her good sleep habits by writing them down.

one more picture from the beach trip.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The 'Rents

One thing about having a kid is that you spend all your time taking photos of her that one day you realize that you are not often in photos as a couple anymore. Playing around with Photobooth tonight on the Mac and took this groovy pic of me and Dale. I love the Chinese lanterns in the back, the grainy photo and the shine on my nose ring. And the guy is pretty darn cute as well.