Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Family Day

Today marks our first Family Day-our 1 year anniversary of coming together. The year has flown by, and this sweet girl who came to us with hardly any hair at all is basically ready for college it seems. Dale and I both were close to giddy all day about Family Day, and we talked with Sojo this morning about how special ('peh shil') the day is to us. I brought out the clothes she came to us in and we told her the story of how we saw the car coming and this little bundle of pink getting out of it that we knew had to be her. And how we were ready for her to cry so much but how she was so mellow when they gave her to us. Lots of tearing up today for me at random times thinking about how grateful I am for all the joy she brings us. Reveling in how much I have learned in just one year and how much love is humanly possible...I feel stretched to the gills.

May 28,2007

May 28, 2008We celebrated tonight by wearing her special crown (oh, I have a small obsession brewing with making these crowns!) and by eating broccoli, pizza and ice cream, in that order. We have lovely plans in the future of all of us taking May 28th off of work/school each year and spending the day any way she wants to celebrate us as a family.

yes, watching Horton was a part of Family Day as well

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Movie Night

If Sojo had her perfect day, it would include a stack of muffins and the Horton Hears a Who movie. She has been a big fan of elephants for a while now, but we had no idea she even liked watching movies. Way back in December, we bought Lion King out of desperation on vacation in Thailand when it rained and rained, and she had no interest whatsoever. We bought her the Horton movie just b/c it had an elephant on the front (and DVDs cost $1.00 on the street here, so why not?) and stuck it in the DVD player one day, and now we've kind of created a monster. In order to make it special and not rot her brain completely, we wait until the weekends to watch it, but during the week we reenact our favorite parts (to her chorus of "who, who, who") like when Horton jumps into the water and swims. This part just slays her!

Cut to Friday afternoon, elevators doors opening to our apartment, Sojo standing there saying, "who, who, who" (the whos in Whoville is where that comes from). Talk about a memory like an elephant--we had told her that morning that we would watch it when we came home. After popping some popcorn, we sat down for our favorite movie. At least now I've made it as far as seeing the ending.

Note that the armbands are becoming 2008's answer to 2007's socks on the hands. They work well, but man alive, that eczema is breaking my heart. We'll be soaking up the humidity of our new home in Thailand in 8 short weeks. That should help her a bit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dale's True Calling

The community here in Shanghai has rallied together to raise money for the earthquake victims in the Chengdu area, and it's been beautiful to see the kids at our school do everything they can to help. Our fundraising contests have been made even more fun with the help of Dale playing minstral all over the school, pushing around the money cart. Not only do the kids and teachers love it, but Dale is basically in heaven busking everyday. He's taken the early bus at 6:30 every morning (he is not an early guy!) just to play when all the kids are coming into school, as well as playing during lunches. In total, our school has raised about 10,000 US dollars. My parents also donated in Sojo's name through Half the Sky foundation, which is the best gift we could ask for.

On a different note, I made Sojo a new "pocket" and she loves it. Wound up making another one with the same fabric for a groovy friend who is having a baby soon. It felt good for the soul to make something with such love, cutting stray threads and trying so hard to keep the hems straight for this new little one coming into the world.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All the Rage in China

In China, it seems the minute the temps get over 70 degrees, every woman in the whole country pulls out her cloth arm protectors and starts wearing them outside. The Chinese use them to cover their arms when they wear short sleeves so they don't get any sun at all. Being dark-skinned in China is not a good thing, and it is pretty easy to see who the adopted Chinese kids are in our school because they are all as brown as peanuts.

We got off the bus the other day to find Sojo wearing these arm bands that Xiao Liu made out of a cute cloth diaper and some elastic with the sewing machine.
However, Sojo is not wearing them to avoid the sun, it's to avoid scratching herself. Her ezcema is flaring up again, and she is a real scratchaholic! You can even see her going for a big scratch on her leg in this picture. Just when the weather turned nice and she should be wearing strappy sundresses, she is tearing apart her arms and legs. I do find it weird that almost one year ago when we picked her up, it was also bad, so perhaps there is some sort of environmental connection with the pollen/pollution at this time of year. We are dutifully lathering her in the greasiest, thickest lotion each night and it is improving. But these "anti-scratchers" seem to do the trick, and they are mighty cute too!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Morning Babbling

Up early this morning, hoping to beat Sojo and get a shower in before she woke up. Oh so quietly I came out to the living room and heard her chatting in her crib (normally she is vocal about getting out in the a.m., so this is special), so I plopped down on the couch and am starting my day by listening to her 19 month old morning babblings. The highlight so far has been what we call the "yellow song"--the old "You Call Me Mellow Yellow" song with our own twist of a big "whoa-o, whoa-o, whoa-o" at the end. Interestingly enough, she hasn't said "muffin" when by herself--that one will happen the minute I walk in.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Day With Animal Friends

Discovered that Shanghai has a wild animal park, so we packed a lunch and headed there yesterday since Sojo is in love with wild animals (thanks, Baby Einstein!). I was so impressed with the layout of the park, the modern animal enclosures and the gorgeous lake fringed with willow trees and filled with swans. Who knew this was here amidst the concrete jungle of Shanghai? Lots of squealing in excitement from Sojo, especially when she got to actually touch a real elephant--her absolute favorite animal. We find that she thrives in wide-open spaces, and so this trip was a huge success. She walked all over the park, rode a camel, and took a short nap which gave us time to sit by the lake and have a little chill time. Add a sunny day and not a gazillion people at the park, and it made for an awesome outing.

At the animal kindergarten filled with baby animals

Gorgeous trees and Sojo is still loving her 'pocket' for transportation

Rather non-plussed about the camel ride

A bit of beauty

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Playing House

We bought Sojo a wooden dollhouse the other day as she's showing signs of role playing and other fun stuff, and, well...because dollhouses are really cool. Loving it so far, even if it did come with about 8000 small pieces that are perfect for choking. We tucked those away for the future, but there is tons of fun to be had now with the wooden, quite hippie-looking dollhouse family and their basic furniture. She refers to the dolls in their Chinese names of ge ge (brother), jie jie (sister), mama and baba. Personally, I have a lifelong fascination with miniature things like dollhouse accoutrements, so Sojo has a built-in dollhouse playmate in me. Activities in our new house include 'making muffins' and putting people to bed, plus everyone gets to sit on the potty often in the house. For additional entertainment, watching Sojo herself trying to get on the teeny rocking horse is absolutely hilarious. Years of fun coming my/our way while I wait patiently for the tiny books and coffee cups as big as my pinky nail to come out of the closet.

mama on the potty.

New fun game at our house--it's the "take everything out of the drawer and not pick it up" game. Actually, it's fun for just one person in the family!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Joan Jett Has Nothing on This Girl

So psyched that my lame-o, so-slow camera captured this brilliant pic! At a bbq gig of Dale's this weekend, Sojo

took the fedora off his head,

put it on her head,

grabbed the microphone like she's been on tour for the past four years,

and belted out, "E-I-E-I-O!"

...and the crowd loved it! Definitely not the quiet kid in the corner, this one. Insert one proud mama and baba with huge smiles on their faces.

p.s. Mojo and Cathy, notice Mr. Mole with Sojo? He is her right-hand man at the moment.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

First Mother's Day

This little munchkin, the one I can't wait to go in and pick up in the morning, the one who has brought me a new sense of simplicity and priority, the one who challenges me to accept her for who she is, even at this young age, the one who took me by surprise with the ferocity of my love for her. Sojo, you make me smile so much, from watching you yesterday while the tiniest frog crawled on your hand to the look of joy on your face during the millionth time we watch the first 20 minutes of Horton Hears a Who.

And this lady, my mom, I am so grateful to share all this fun of being a mother with her, even if she lives on the other side of the world. Our 21st century Skype baby loves talking to her and even builds play computers out of legos just to pretend to talk to popo. Thank you, mom, for supporting me fully as a mom and for always listening to my endless Sojo stories. I am beyond blessed in this life.

And to Dale's mom, thank you for accepting me into your family with open arms, even before I was officially part of the family. You raised a fine, fine man, Patsy. It is like he has been waiting all this time to be a dad, and he didn't even know that was what he was waiting for. He is truly an equal partner, and I know that is directly due to all that estrogen in the house growing up!
On another note, still sewing like mad and having a blast. Made the toddler sling I am wearing in the picture (Sojo and I call it the 'pocket' and she loves it, which means that we are not having to chase her) and it was a breeze. Found an online tutorial and made this my practice run with unhemmed edges. That garbage bag of African fabrics will look awesome as slings...

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Buddy Buddha

Oh, dear stone Buddha! He's been a good friend to Sojo in our time here in Shanghai, and today he got packed up by the movers to go to our house in Washington for more summer fun. I picture him somewhere serene in the forest on our property, just waiting for some little cutie to join him for some peaceful time in the woods. For a while, Buddha was the exact same size as Sojo, and he graciously allowed for her to practice her newfound knowledge of pointing out where the eyes, nose, ears and mouth are. That being said, we are hoping there is no karmic payback for her poking him in the eyes time after time.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Rough One

Ever since Sojo's adventure at "cool," she's been a bit under the weather with the sniffles and a cough. Feeling a bit crummy has made her quick to burst into tears, and I couldn't resist getting a photo of the full-on cry. At dinner, she cried and cried and we couldn't figure out what she needed. Finally, we figured out that our normally incredibly independent eater (like, don't even think of trying to help me eat because I can do it alone!) wanted us to feed her for a change. I shared my first motherly wisdom with her that day in language that maybe she could understand..."Sojo, some days are just like a big piece of poop, and all we can do is wait until the day ends because another one starts when you wake up." Might be tricky to embroider on a pillow, but also might be words to live by.

p.s. Victoria in Maine--I'd love to chat about living and teaching in China, so can you leave your email in a comment, and I'll write to you? Thanks!

Monday, May 05, 2008


Her tiny hands in ours...the icing on the cake is that at this moment in her life, when she grabs one parent's hand, she always calls on the other one to hold the empty hand.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hard to Believe

Hard to believe, but one year ago we received a DHL envelope with pictures and information about this gorgeous gal. We sat in my classroom and, with trembling hands, opened up our new life with Sojo. It honestly doesn't get much closer to a stork delivery than that. The process took us three years in total, and the wait seemed like forever at the time. Now it just seems like she has been here forever with us. I vividly remember looking at this one of the pictures they sent us and both of us commenting on the slightest bit of cheekiness in that little smile. There is definitely a wild side to her, and we are embracing it wholeheartedly.

Grateful beyond words for her. She is so full of life, of joy, of adventure, of sweetness, and yes, sometimes of cheekiness. Watching her hug the baba and mama and baby "snakes" we made out of playdough today--really, does it get any more fun?

Her favorite monkey shirt and the "whee" as she calls a slide.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


It's official--Sojo has a muffin fixation! Most mornings, we go in to greet her and have to wait only a minute before we hear the muffin cry of, "Muh! Muh! Muh!" She even sees muffins when looking at clouds and potatoes, so it's a pretty serious obsession of hers. If I had my druthers, I'd eat muffins myself everyday, but we are rationing Sojo a bit, and I'm trying hard to make them as healthy as possible when I do. Ok, most times I do, but sometimes the "need" of hers calls for a quick fix: the 'just add water' package that is done and ready to eat in 10 minutes.

We've taken to using a timer to help Sojo understand the concept of mixing up the muffins and having them cook a while. She was delighted to hear the DING! sound meaning they were done the other day. Waiting for them to cool, on the other hand, was just evil in her mind, I could tell. And every once in a while since then, she'll have a moment where she smiles like she's figured out this huge secret and say, "DING! muh! muh!" Then all I want to do is make her hundreds of muffins.

Language Milestone: Just this morning, Sojo started trying out words with 2 syllables. Before now, many words were just the beginning sound, like 'muh!' but today we heard words like 'pancake,' 'I know,' and 'puppy.' I love, love, love watching her acquire language, rocking back and forth between Chinese and English, concentrating so hard to form the words.

A Day at "Cool"

Yesterday, we had the best treat ever and brought Sojo to school with us. We had her prepped and really talked up the 'special day at school' thing, not really knowing how much she understood (her little self saying "cool" while listening.) It made for a long day for her and the ayi, but Dale and I were giddy with excitement about having her around. A few highlights...

Walking in like she owned the place

Man, I love the library I work in. It has the best vibe ever and even has a weaving studio in the corner of the library for kids to use. Sojo had a grand time playing with the baskets of yarn.

Middle school girls are famous for their squealing sounds. Every time Sojo did something in Dale's class, the girls squealed and Sojo was beyond thrilled at such a an enthusiastic audience. Let's just say she's not a shy girl.

Helping clean the playground

Update: Bottle free in the house for a week now. Best choice ever for us to naturally let that happen when she was ready.