Friday, October 31, 2008

A Sweaty Halloween

It's been a while since I've had a tropical Halloween where the sweat is running down your back as you trick-or-treat. Thankfully, a friend gave us this outfit as a present when we adopted Sojo, and it became the perfect lightweight costume for the heat.A quick rundown of the Halloween events in our house

1. Pumpkin carving and toasting of seeds this week. Yummy on the seeds, not so into sticking hands into the pumpkin. Pumpkin is rotting in the tropical sun as we speak. Learned that most people here carve watermelons instead as they are easier to find and easier to carve. Duly noted for next year.
2. A communal gathering of all the teacher kids on the grassy area that was so reminiscent of my own childhood in New York. Learned quickly that Sojo will indeed be the kid in the elementary school show who will be wandering all over the stage during the program. She was truly befuddled and amazed at all the kids in costumes and walked around looking up at them all the whole time. In this photo, she is missing the group shot because she was fixated on a lady wearing a red wig.
3. Passing out candy together to visitors. Well, actually, eating a ton of candy (notice the empty wrappers on the side). A sidenote is that our school is still helping out areas that were affected by the tsunami 4 years ago. ISB helped rebuild a school in Khao Lak, Thailand and still maintains a relationship with the people there. The students from that school were invited to Bangkok for a weekend of fun, and trick-or-treating was the kick-off.
4. Lastly, this is a kid who really doesn't eat much junk food. She has some skin reactions to processed food, but we said the heck with it and let her go to town. Let's just say watching the sugar high was incredibly comical, and it was almost like she was drunk. At one point, she threw up her hands and yelled, "Let's dance!" It was absolutely hilarious as we have never heard her say that before. What may not be hilarious is how she sleeps tonight. Here's hoping copious amounts of sugar makes you sleep in a bit instead of the other way around.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Boo!

Couldn't resist posting another photo. Getting ready for a hot and humid Halloween here. One cute little watermelon heading out for some treats tomorrow night.

Connecting

When I started this blog, it was as a means of documenting our life so our families far away could see Sojo on a regular basis and keep up with her antics. But over the months, it has become so much more than that for me. I love this little blog, and one of the things I love most about it is all the connections it has brought to me. From keeping close to a dear friend living in Turkey to reconnecting with an old friend from Ecuador days to meeting a new friend who imparts her motherly wisdom to me in the sweetest way, it has become a network of love across the miles. Couple that with our families being able to read about Sojo, and it's as close to a "visit" as it can be.

One of my favorite connections, or reconnections, is with my cousin Julie in Pennsylvania. She is older than me and has always been so cool in my memories, but we lived far away and didn't know each other much. However, this wee blog has brought us back together again, and she is getting to know Sojo from miles away. When I was back in the U.S., Julie sent a package to Sojo that was filled with fabulous books (seriously, like a librarian's treasure of books!) and a very special new friend, Curious George. He is affectionately called "Big George" in our house now and his size allows him to be more than a stuffed animal, and darn close to a playmate. Thanks, Julie, and all of you out there in the blogosphere, for having your morning tea with us every now and then.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eating our Greens

Learning to "skip"--really more of a jump with a twirl added, but cute as can be.I tend to read lots of mindful parenting blogs, and in those I find a lot of healthy ways to feed kids. For a while now, I've been reading about the 'green smoothie,' a great way to get your daily dose of dark, leafy greens in one shot. I know, it sounds yucky, but we decided to give it a try yesterday and see for ourselves.

Super easy to make, according to our YouTube raw food tutorial, we just put one large mango (or any other fruit can be used--I threw in an apple as well) and then a bunch of spinach leaves or any other dark leaf. I had one of those plastic tubs of organic spinach and used about 2/3 of it. A bit of water and then blend. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty darn good! However, Dale is always our toughest customer with this kind of stuff, and he said it was just ok, tasted like fiber but might be better if we used a different fruit. From him, that is almost a recommendation. Sojo and I loved getting all the extra meat off the mango seed.Here was Sojo's take on it:

"green smoothie...good."

long pause, more drinking. adding to the green mustache. yummy sounds.

"nice...lubbalee (lovely)...kind."

Me: "What was that last word?"

Sojo: "kind."

There you have it. Perhaps the world's first "kind" smoothie. Can't beat an endorsement like that.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Subtle Changes

I was only gone a week, but still I see the changes in Sojo. The long pauses before speaking and then a rush of a whole sentence ("mama go upstairs get yellow car on the bed"), her new pool trick of curling into a ball and floating so peacefully underwater until she needs air, and the subtle yet profound change of moving away from referring to herself in the third person to using the pronoun I. We have always got a chuckle out of her phrases like "sojo no like chicken," "sojo go swimming," or our favorite, which happens usually right after a meltdown and with quite a bit of drama in the voice..."sojo crying." Yea, um, sweetie, we know you're crying! So, it is with a tinge of sadness that we begin to say our goodbyes to the third person and welcome "I" into the vocabulary. Just one more reminder to savor her at every stage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beach Wedding

Matt and Cathy's wedding was absolutely gorgeous and fit their personalities perfectly. From Matt surprising Cathy by riding in on a horse to the cool idea of everyone adding sand to a jar they will keep forever, it was all about love and friendship and the things that matter most in this world. Twelve years to the day since their first date, they had their mutual friend, Jeff, marry them since he was the one who introduced them all those years ago. Let's just say I cried a lot listening to Jeff talking about how awesome these two are as individuals and as a couple. I wholeheartedly agree.

Cathy was stunning in her hand-embroidered dress. I was completely smitten with the design.No way could I forget Barley, their beloved dog. My brother Sean was in charge of helping the ring bearer deliver the rings without heading into the ocean for a swim.Sitting in the Tokyo airport posting this. Now I've only one more leg of my trip until I am home with my sweeties. Yippee!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jump on Baba!

Ok, ok, ok . . . I know I'll pay for this later, but tonight it was just too much fun to stop jumping off the furniture. Of course, that would be dangerous unless there was something soft to land on: enter Baba! Pictures tell the story better than I do!
Step One: Getting Psyched!

Step Two: "One, Two, Four: Blast off!" (Yes, for some reason Sojo always skips the number three.)

Step Three: After landing on Baba, climb back up on the chair and smile pretty!

And, in two and a half wake-ups (the half being tomorrow's nap), it will be 'Jump for joy" because Mama's home!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"Mama, Come Home"

Tonight as Sojo and I were in our nightly routine, we checked Skype to see if by chance Mama was there. Sure enough, she was. Lucky for all the family, we were able to sing "ABC's" and Sojo's special goodnight song together - even if Mama was inside the 'puter, as Sojo calls it. The first thing Sojo said when she heard Tara's voice - even before the video started, was, "Mama, come home." And, I could hear Tara's voice melt. But, Mama is soon to be starting her long trip back home, and we are happy that she was able to be at Matt and Cathy's wedding (and sad that we weren't).

I'll soon have both my girls back at home . . . .



An old pic from a night of Shanghai music that shows my chama linda back in my arms - where she'll be very soon.

Love From Mexico

Mexico has been delightful. Sunny days, buckets of love and a house filled to the brim with family and friends.
An extra highlight for me is getting to spend time with my dear, dear friend Jeanie Bean...our childhood in New York was spent riding bikes, chasing ice cream trucks and laying the foundation of a lifelong friendship. And no matter how many years go by without seeing each other, we always pick up without missing a beat.

Coming tomorrow...pics of the gorgeous wedding. No camera battery left to download pics today.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What is it about fathers?

What is it about fathers that when the moms aren't around, the world seems to fall apart? It's not that we're incompetent: today, I managed a dramatic diaper change while maintaining a skype call with Tara and the family in Mexico, and Sojo's healthy, well-fed, and happily tired-out at the end of the day (no, it hasn't been videos all day! :) ). But still . . . there's just something about dads that . . . well, I'm not sure how we think!

Today was great until fifteen minutes before bath time, Sojo needed another dramatic diaper change, and I didn't want to waste a diaper for only fifteen minutes, so I asked, "Sojo want to wear big girl underwear? Just tell Baba if you have to pee." And, so Sojo put on her Elmo big-girl underwear and then wanted to play 'Naked baby' - which is treat as we normally keep this very itchy girl completely covered (including socks sewn over the sleeves of her pajamas). Then came the "Tunnel to Chimicum," which was too low until Baba got the great idea of subtle lesson in building and the laws of physics. And, at some point, Sojo wanted to put on her Chinese Minority Tribe's ceremonial Lion hat - seriously all this seemed to make sense at the time . . . until . . . .

In reality, it was just a little bump, and after a little TLC, a booboo bunny, and a bath, Sojo fell happily to sleep and we both sent love to mama and a special missive of love to Cathy and Mojo who are getting married today.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One From The Archives


Just because I'm missing Dale and Sojo...a favorite photo from last December on the beach in Thailand. Dale basically has this same look every time I take a picture of the two of them. So obviously smitten and for such good reason.

One Smart Girl!

Man alive, this little girl is smart! Two days into Tara's trip to Mexico for her brother's wedding, Sojo wakes up and says, "Mama . . . mee ksee kok" (still working on that word's pronunciation). When Sojo has been asking for her mama, I've been reminding her that mama is in Mexico. So, today (day three of Tara's trip), Sojo wakes up and says, "Mama, Mexico . . .Caafee (Cathy) marry ... Mojo"! And,then standing in her red alligator pajamas, she thinks a little bit more and says, "Sojo marry, too." When I asked whom she is going to marry, she tells me, "Will," a little boy who lives in the compound. The funny part is, right now when Sojo sees Will coming to the sandbox, and says, "MOVE! Move. . . .[and in a small resigned voice] share."

Baba and Sojo playing on the playmat, acting out Mama's trip to Mexico. (luckily for Mama, she gets to ride the space shuttle there because we don't have a toy plane - just a toy space shuttle!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Good 'Ol U. S. of A.

Stateside now and hooked up with one of my favorite American things--completely unnatural, chemically created Coffeemate! My mother-in-law even bought me a carton of this one time to bring to Africa, I love it that much. Someday I will look back and be horrified that I love this stuff so much, but it is my American luxury item when I am home.
More importantly, I mailed my absentee ballot this morning, and I couldn't be prouder. Having lived in more than one country where the people don't have a vote and their leaders are chosen for them, I feel so strongly that I need to take advantage of my rights here in the USA.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Good, the Sad and the Suitcase

The good part is that the other well-balanced Libra in our house also had a birthday. My dearest friend and mentor in ways of attaining a zen approach to life, he is quite a fabulous guy. We both believe so much in continually growing in life, and so I look forward to watching him grow and evolve through the next 41 years.The sad is that we are missing our popo. And I don't just mean the super cheap, fantastic foot massages and pedicures she and I took full advantage of, but her overall presence. Plus, who else will shamelessly dress Sojo in head to toe pink? Surely not her mama.And the suitcase. My littlest bro, Matt, and his partner Cathy, are getting hitched on the sands of Mexico this weekend, so I am headed on an adventure of my own by flying to Arizona and then driving (ok, being driven--I haven't been behind the wheel in years!) to Mexico to meet up with friends and family. It is just too long of a trip with a short turnaround to bring Sojo and Dale, so I am going solo. And while the knowledge that I will actually be able to take naps during the day, drink cup after cup of hot coffee, watch these two groovy people tie the knot, and finish more than one novel is intoxicating, I really just want them both with me. To quote Aerosmith, "I don't wanna miss a thing." I'm sure she will be swimming laps in the pool and filling out college applications by the time I get back next week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Big 'Venture

On my mom's last day, we decided to have a big adventure ("venture" in sojo language) and head out to a small island called Ko Kret, not far from where we live. We talked up the idea of what a big adventure is, and Sojo latched onto it with such enthusiasm. So much so that as we were all still getting ready, she let us know that "Sojo ready...yup...Sojo backpack...venture...ready to go." With her crown on her head and two different colored Crocs (her latest obsession), we were on our way.A 20 minute boat ride to the island, a quick hello to Buddha in the temple, a rooster sighting, a pig sighting, and lots of sweating for all of us. There were so many market stalls that by the time we got to the footpath to walk through the rural area, Sojo said she was tired. And she never says she's tired, so we figured that a bike ride would have to wait for the next trip, which I hope is soon. My only souvenir from the trip is this photo of the most inviting basket of limes set atop weathered teak wood. This is one of the many reasons Thailand feeds my soul...such simple beauty is always within reach.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Itching In Style

If you're gonna be itchy, you might as well find ways to prevent the scratching in style. My new favorite pic of Sojo and Popo. Dad, I'm returning mom soon. Thanks for sending her our way these last weeks. We are forever grateful. Lastly, a mini-adventure for us today by taking my mom for a short ride in a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk is a local way to travel here in Thailand, and it was great fun.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Priceless


The look on Dale's face and the two larger-than-usual items in Sojo's hands are hilarious...Ingrid, you were right on the money with the balanced Libra comment. Living with two of those balanced people in this house is a great gift.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two!

What a great day! It did seem that Sojo understood the idea of it being her birthday by the end of the day, although every time we said, "Today is your birthday," she'd say, "After sleep." She ended the night by singing happy birthday to herself when we finished reading stories, and we are curious to see if she still thinks it's her birthday tomorrow when she wakes up.Popo was on cupcake patrol today, but there was a little confusion about Celcius vs. Fahrenheit, so the cupcakes didn't quite make it. The quick move to brownies with egg substitute was a great plan, but something didn't turn out right there, and we wound up eating what was close to brownie batter in cute cupcake wrappers. Didn't stop any of us from licking the wrappers clean!
Sojo got her own pair of goggles for her bday, and she squealed when she saw them. Popo gave her a groovy dinosaur made of recycled paper (such cool things like that in Thailand). I had grand plans of making a cool bday banner with my sewing machine, but it's not even out of the box yet, so that will have to be for the 3rd birthday. 364 days should give me enough time to feel settled in enough to get back to sewing a bit.

*Awesome family tradition we are passing on--the "red plate" that Sojo's brownie cakes are on says YOU ARE SPECIAL TODAY. We used it in my family growing up and so often now in our family for any occasion that calls for celebration. You can pick one up at a local Hallmark store.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"Sojo Under"

"Sojo under" is what we hear all the time lately, and it's proof positive that this little sweetie is thriving with all the sunshine and swimming in her life. She decided on her own that she must a) jump off the side of the pool all by herself, b) DIVE (or at least very cutely attempt to do so) off the side of the pool and c) kick those wee legs like crazy to swim, swim, swim. Mind you, all of these feats have come from her watching the bigger kids in the pool and wanting to "Sojo do it!" Most of our pool time is now spent holding her so she can put her face in to swim or helping her get her body buoyant enough to come to the surface. The rest of the time our mouths are agape at how incredibly fearless she is.

Note: In true Sojo fashion, most of her swimming time is spent with some random item in each hand. She has done this as long as we have known her, and it's becoming her trademark. I look at her need for symmetry as the potential for always seeking balance in her life.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Counting the Days

As a child, I remember my grandma Moury used to sit at her kitchen table in Pennsylvania and get weepy long before our time with her came to an end. For sure, my mom and I both inherited that emotional gene of hers. I fought that gene for years, but now I embrace it wholeheartedly, and like many things, wonder why I ever thought it was a negative quality. No weepiness for us yet, but the knowledge of our time together ending is creeping in slowly.

In the meantime, we are soaking up every minute of each other. Each and every night, every one of us falls into bed exhausted but in such a good, memory-making way.

Such beautiful concentration on Sojo's face when doing her chalk drawing at toddler time.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Jaunty Cap

I caught Sojo in the gorgeous late afternoon light today after a weekend of swimming and playing and then more swimming and playing. Popo brought this groovy hat that has become a wardrobe staple the last few days, and the extra funk of wearing it to the side is courtesy of Sojo herself. Add the 'jingle jangle' (bracelet) and the butterfly stickers adorning her body, and she's definitely creating a style all her own. Mae baan update: Although we would love to have my mom become our permanent mae baan, the hours are too much and the pay is too little. Plus, her mae baan days are over with all her kids grown. :) We have found a woman named Momo who gets along well with Sojo. Writing this, I now see the whole name thing of Sojo, Popo and Momo. My fingers are crossed that the name rhyme is a good sign.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mama and Popo Time


Mom and I snuck away today and took some quality time for just the two of us. We found a wonderful co-op of Thai crafts downtown and then went to this quaint Thai restaurant across the street. I mean amazingly quaint, like 'I want to move in to this restaurant' quaint, with its weathered teak floors, fuschia orchids, rice wrapped in banana leaves, and the afternoon storm thundering its way toward us as we ate our tom kha gai and tamarind shrimp. To make the mom/daughter day complete, we spent the afternoon playing with Sojo and Dale and then headed out for a fabulous foot massage after Sojo hit the hay. Aaaahh...a great day.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Run Away!

I knew this would come back to haunt me. At our summer house, we have tons of garter snakes and highly encouraged Sojo to be one with nature by not being afraid of them. My insightful mother-in-law warned me that perhaps it wasn't a good idea to tell Sojo to touch snakes because they might be poisonous in Thailand. Well, she was definitely correct there--the three we have in our neighborhood are the cobra, the pit viper and the python. Yes, you read that right, some biggies there. Since all of those are nowhere near as mellow as garter snakes, we had to reteach Sojo what to do if she sees a snake. "Touch nake" became "run away." That being said, seeing a snake is not common at all...until we get home today and mom says that there was a snake on the playground. Her version of the story is a yellowish snake that was about 4 feet long. The workers picked it up, swore to her that it wasn't poisonous and went about their business. Of course I'm thinking, "What?? You didn't take a picture for the blog?!?!"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lovin' Every Minute of it

long, fun-filled days,
early nights for tired adults,
love and laughter,
missing our gong gong, and discovering 'fancy' shoes in the shipment that she's just grown into. In fact, it was such an exciting discovery that she simply had to wear one of each to dinner out tonight.