Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who Knew?



I'm sure tons of people actually do know this, but I've never even thought of making homemade playdough until recently. 5 minutes of cooking made our weekend a blast AND gave us tons of things to do with the Bento supplies my parents sent. By the way, popo and gong gong, we love that a lot of the cookie cutters are Arizona-themed.

Here is the recipe:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 Tbs cream of tartar
2 Tbs oil
Mix and heat on stove until it becomes the consistency of playdough. Let cool and then let the games begin! I didn't add food color, but it's in the the future plans. If I'm feeling extra hippie-ish, the recipe says I can add some beet juice or spinach to color it.

Lots and lots of fun this weekend. Last night, Sojo piled all the stuffed animals in the stroller, put on her green frog boots and 'went on a trip.' When I asked her where she was going, she thought and said, "Chimacum." Seemingly random, but Chimacum is the small town we drove to almost every morning in the summer for coffee and wi-fi and pumpkin bread. Obviously made an impact on her. Come to think of it, I'd love some awesome Chimacum coffee right now.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Family Reading Time

We tried to start a family reading time today where the idea is that everyone gets a book and take some quiet time to read in the same room. The thought is that it is a great habit, some good parent modeling and Dale and I get to read books with a bit more challenging vocabulary during daylight hours. Sojo started out okay with some raisins and a pile of favorite books on her chair, and Dale and I quietly began reading as well. Out of the corner of my eye, I looked at Sojo and all she was doing was pushing her books off the chair, one by one, onto the floor. Then a stream of "uh-oh...fall down's" until we paid attention. So, we moved her and her books over to the couch with me. After just a few minutes of trying to keep my eyes on my own book, I look up to find this cutie crawling my way. Who needs books with big words anyway? The Napping House has lots of good vocabulary...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life With Shila


I've been waiting to write a post about Shila until I got a great picture of her and Sojo, but I can't seem to get one, and I'm afraid I'm overstepping cultural boundaries by snapping away at her. So, introducing the blurry but lovely Shila, our mae baan (Thai for 'mother of the household'--hey, wait! I thought that was me!). You know when you meet someone and you can just feel their goodness? That is Shila to us. We met her hurriedly during the transition time as we parted ways with the first lady who worked for us, and she went back to her employers at the time and said, "Yes, this is the family I want to work for. I really liked Sojo." And we went home saying to each other, "Wow, she was nice. So gentle, so sweet. Can it really be that the only person who answered our ad is the one?"

But she was the one. She loves Sojo so much, and Sojo loves her right back. Shila is originally from Nepal but spent most of her life in Burma. She is Hindu (found that out the hard way on the day I left tacos for her and Sojo to eat for lunch...I felt horrible that I forgot about the sacred cow) and even lives with us. This is our first overseas school where someone has lived with us, and it was a bit strange at first. It's not actually 'with' us but in a room with a bathroom just outside the apartment.

Now we come home to statements from Sojo like, "Sheila...have fun...Sojo" and Shila, in her always soft voice says, "Sojo is such a good girl." Throw in the fact that she and I cook together, we all play together with Sojo, and she's darn close to one of my childhood favorites--Alice from the Brady Bunch.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goofing Around

Wound up having a fabulous night of raucous laughter when we put a Pull-Up (our one step closer to thinking about potty training) on Sojo's head. She was cracking up so much while looking in the mirror that Dale and I joined the fun, and we all got really, really goofy and had a photoshoot. I believe this fits in the category of "Whoa, I seriously can't believe that putting a diaper on my head is my idea of hilarious fun at this point in life." But trust me, it really was a blast, and a good belly laugh is food for the soul.And a big thanks to popo and gong gong for the cool Bento stuff that arrived today. Eating broccoli with tiny giraffe forks was super fun, although I think I need directions for how to use the animal rice molds, mom. I seemed to make a big mess!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Growing and Growing



Everything about Sojo is growing right now--her vocabulary, her legs, and her hair. This morning, I put a dress on her that fits her body but not her height anymore. And yesterday's pic made me see that her bangs needed cut yet again. They're always a wee bit crooked but good enough until she can complain loudly about the fact that her completely untrained mom cuts her hair. And, what do you know, there are even more signs of growing up! When I asked her where she wanted to sit for her haircut (not really expecting an answer), she pointed to the stairs and said, "right here." Well, all right then. She even squirmed less than usual and almost posed for the after pic. Ok, she's actually coming after the camera to hit it, but it's still progress. Those keenly observant will note that she is still working on the chocolate chip cookies from yesterday. This morning's egg-free meal was pancakes. Using soy milk made them extra sweet, and another egg-free plus is that you can eat all the raw dough you want!

p.s. Mom, I tried hard to avoid talking about my childhood haircuts yesterday in the post. Let's just say I won't be giving Sojo any home perms in the future. Ahem!! :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eggs--Who Needs 'Em?

Sojo has been on her elimination diet for some time now, and it was time to start bringing the biggies back one by one. Eggs were reintroduced first, and boy did she devour them! A very strong and pretty quick skin reaction told us she is allergic to eggs. Then a week of eliminating everything again and bringing in white flour. Not as strong a reaction but still some reaction. Then again with dairy. For some reason, drinking cow's milk causes an instant reaction but dairy products like cheese are not as bad. So, at this point, it's no milk and no eggs. And, wow, it's amazing how many things are made with eggs. One more amazing thing is how that little whippersnapper can know when I am not giving her cow's milk but instead giving her soy milk or rice milk. She takes one sip, pushes it to the side, and says, "cow...milk." I'm not getting anything past this one, so I slip in the soy milk via her smoothie pops.

So, ever wonder what one does when you can't use eggs to bake? Actually, there are quite a few different ways to "make an egg", but this is what I found the other day--the organic egg replacer. I decided to try it out today by making chocolate chip cookies for the family. The result...well, let's just say that eggs really bring a cookie together. They weren't bad because, really, can chocolate chip cookies ever be bad? But it says something when Dale and I only had one cookie each and Sojo took a really long time eating hers. We'll get used to it soon enough as we'll be eating our eggs this way for a few more years until, fingers crossed, she grows out of her egg allergy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sojo Happy - 1

Some quality time is spent in this little kiddie pool at our apartment complex. It's quite fun because we can chill in the water drinking a beverage while Sojo runs around in circles, literally. Her favorite thing in the world to do in the pool is to go underwater again and again and again. She started this on her own over the summer, after insisting "self! self!" and hasn't looked back since! PS: To understand the title of this and the next post, scroll down to "Sojo Happy - 2" - and with two videos in one day, I hope it's now, "many people happy."

video

Sojo Happy - 2

The other night as we were in our night-time routine, Sojo looked up sleepily and said, "Sojo happy" in the sweetest voice, and both Mama and Baba's hearts melted! Today, Sojo had her first music class with the husband of one of our school's kindergarten teachers in a racquetball court at one of the nearby housing compounds. In her words, "Sojo happy," but as it was her first time, she did lots of watching to see what the other kids were doing, too. This class was extra special because Dale had a prep period next to lunch at the same time as the class, so he had enough time to go with Sojo - so "Baba happy," too! Enjoy the video . . . .

video

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Love

If you would have told me 5 years ago that a sweet child's hand resting on my arm would bring me to my knees, I never would have believed it. We revel in every second of her affection. p.s. Happy anniversary, mom and dad. 42 years! thanks for being such a great example of love's possibilities.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quiet Moments

There aren't many quiet moments around here with Sojo as she keeps us on the move almost all the time. When is that age when they settle into an activity for more than 2 minutes?? Right now she's having a great time being the opposite of quiet by stringing words together to get her point across--'sojo do it,' 'on my bed' (everything seems to be 'on my bed' right now for some reason), 'mama, get it,' 'baba, eat it!' She's a little chatterbox, and we're loving every minute of her words as we both were curious as to what her voice would sound like. It's sweet and sing-songy at this moment in time.

Back to the quiet moments...for us, they come after 7 p.m., sometimes involving a night swim, most often involving Macbooks, blogs and a guitar, but the other night we both curled up with some fabulous books and our new favorite Aussie cookie, the Tim Tam. It's a bit life-changing, this cookie. But that could be the transition talking.

There is some potential for quiet moments in our future. Sojo did this pose the other night, and it looked just like she was doing yoga. When I told her this, she latched onto the word and even did some posing for pictures. Now it's "mama...do yoga" and "sojo...do yoga." Who knew doing yoga on top of a Curious George coloring book could be so zen?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not-So-Subtle Hints

Something tells me we should really start thinking about potty training soon...yes, that is her pretending to wipe.And if that isn't enough of a hint that we need to get moving on this, she insisted this morning on wearing her Elmo 'big girl' underwear over her regular pants. Ok, ok, we got it, Sojo!One more sign of growing up is that she is beginning to be a helper by taking her own diapers to the garbage and bringing her plate to the kitchen when she finishes her dinner. The cutest part of all is when she brings her plate and says her modified version of thank you in Thai--"poon ka" (short for krapoonka, but I have no clue yet how to spell it).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chillin'

Thailand is a country very much in love with its royal family, and not only will you find pictures of the king and queen in every shop but also in very, very large size on the side of buildings. Because today is the queen's birthday, we have a school holiday. After only 3 days of work so far, that's not too bad.

Lazy day of movie watching, block building, and banana smoothie pops on the patio while watching the tropical rainstorms this afternoon. If only the queen had a birthday everyday.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Working Up a Sweat

Spending the day with a little girl who is constantly on the move makes it difficult to capture her beauty sometimes. Today I brought the camera to the playground and was determined to take picture after picture until a bit of her magic appeared in the lens. And I got it--those little curls, the fistful of sand, the skin that doesn't need to be completely covered up anymore--she looks so grown up and so incredibly beautiful that I am left speechless. Which brings me to something I find interesting about having a child who was adopted and not biological: I have no qualms whatsoever about being in awe of her when I talk to other people, whether it be her personality or her beauty, and I never feel conceited about it. I assume it's because she is not a combination of our genes and therefore I have no actual responsibility for how she looks (ok, maybe we can take a bit of the credit for her cool personality though...). Either way, I often wonder if I would feel more sheepish about saying how cool she is if I had given birth to her. Or maybe not, and it's just a mom thing to not worry about agreeing with someone if they say something nice about your kid.

Back to the playground...the weather is really hot and humid here, even though everyone is telling us it's 'cool' right now, so this is what Sojo looks like after a fun time going down the slide and running around. Yup, she's a sweaty one!On our way back from the school's playground, we got caught in a fabulously wild afternoon rainstorm. This is the view of it from our back door.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Offerings


One of the many things we have loved about Thailand, even before moving here, is the Buddhist influence that creates a palpable feeling of peacefulness in the country. As a part of the Buddhist worship, spirit houses are found outside most homes. Offerings are placed on the spirit house's platform, and they can be anything ranging from a glass bottle of Coke (straw included), to fruit and rice.Near our apartment's playground, a spirit house is tucked into the corner, and this one has two zebras on either side of it. Can't quite figure that one out, but Sojo just loves, loves, loves to go and "feed" the zebras. Together we choose one fallen leaf and bring it to the zebras every time we are outside, and although she doesn't fully understand the concept of offering yet, it certainly seems close enough to the beauty of giving. It brings me joy that she will spend a part of her life in a place where offerings are visible and daily.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whew!


Whew! Lots and lots and lots of transitions for us this past week.

Highlights

1. Sojo's skin is so much better now, even though she has brand-new healed skin that is a different color than her normal olive skin. She's a bit mottled at the moment, but we'll take it vs. leathery, alligator skin.

2. Tons and tons of kids on our playground every afternoon, and she is loving the idea of copying what the big kids do. Sojo is taking the transition really well.

3. An added bonus to sunshine and mangos is the mosque behind our apartments. I went for a run the other night and finished up with a tropical pink sunset and evening call to prayer wafting my way. Only increases my desire to experience an Arab culture one day.

4. Dale has already found a group of guitar players and a Thursday night jam has been formed. Good teacher music potential.

Lowlight

Just one so far. The nanny we hired ahead of time (ok, truth be told, we hired a dynamic duo, but I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that) just didn't feel right from the beginning. She was touted as the most fabulous nanny ever, but since we got to spend the first days with them together, it always felt like Sojo was an imposition of sorts. She can be a lot of work, I know, but we certainly didn't want to leave her with someone who wasn't thinking she was a groovy kid to hang out with everyday. So, we made a huge decision to part ways with the two ladies, but then we were in a pickle to find someone new the day before we were due to start official work. Long story short, we found a lovely, sweet woman from Burma via Nepal (yes, a bit strange that she is not Thai, but no Thai people responded to our ad and we didn't have time to wait) named Sheila who will take care of Sojo. Only glitch is that she can't start work until tomorrow, and school started today. Which brings me to one thing I am LOVING about our new school--they stress that family comes first, and our job is just that--a job. Well, we put that to the test by Dale and I taking turns taking time off the first 3 days of school to take care of Sojo since no one else could, and everyone was very understanding.

So, new nanny tomorrow, Dale and Tara finally at work for a full day, a kid on the mend and all of us are getting a base tan. All is well...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ay, Chihuahua!

Ay, Chihuahua! must be said often in our house because Sojo belted it out about 80 times today. Hilarious and right up there with her "Oh, Sojo!" that she says with a bit of sigh (pretty sure that one comes from me saying it now and then).

The dermatologist visit went well. Mind you, we thought when the doctor saw Sojo she would probably recoil and then immediately say it was the single worst case she's ever seen in a kid, but she wasn't phased. Yup, it's ezcema, she sees it all the time, it's an allergic reaction to something and gave us lots of magic medicines such as lotion bath stuff, steroid cream (hate this stuff but we do need to use it at this point), and a big dose of something like Benadryl that had an added bonus of making her really drowsy and giving Dale and me some Saturday sleep-in time. Her skin was already looking better by this afternoon. We are also on strict instructions to cut out all dairy, eggs, nuts, seafood and bread for a whole week to see if things improve. Yikes--that cuts out a lot of food for us as well since it would be cruel to be munching on gouda while denying it to Sojo. In our search for food she can eat, she consumed almost a whole container of hummus today, and WHOA! that girl can double dip to the point that even her mama doesn't want anything to do with the hummus now. She uses carrots to scoop it up but only licks it off. Yuk! Sometimes she'll get to the point of biting the carrots but then she just spits out the chewed up carrots onto the plate. Remind us not to take her to any cocktail parties anytime soon!