Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Laxing


You know how a lot of people say they could never be retired? That they would be bored. Well, we are SO not like that. We'd be awesome retired people, like almost a natural talent kind of retired person. After 4 days at the beach, we are now spending the remainder of the break (10 whole days!) here in Bangkok, doing all the little things that bring each of us joy: reading, cooking, guitaring, scootering, running, togethering. Oh, and of course, as many massages as possible. Call it a small slice of retirement.

Our trip to Hua Hin included lots of ocean time and family time--always a good combo. A small, virtually waveless cove was our beach area, and it was shallow enough for Sojo to swim around and walk way out on her own. Sort of like a vast ocean kiddie pool. She is beyond enamored with the ocean.



I am loving this new pic of Dale, doing what he loves most to do. I fell hook, line and sinker for that smile about 11 years ago. Pretty easy to see why.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas has become so much more fun with a kid. She is also at the point of understanding it a bit more this year. Her only request was a red scooter with a bell, and so Santa was able to oblige. She's also been wanting her own trumpet for a while now, so we passed that info on to Santa.
With Gladys and Courtney here, they brought tons of great presents from both sides of the family to fill up the tree. My favorite part was when she gathered all the loot on the couch and asked me to come over and tell her the story of her coming downstairs on Christmas morning. She is so into that right now--having something happen in life and then wanting the retelling of it right away. Maybe to get it set in her brain as a memory? Not sure, but I love it.
Merry Christmas! We're off to the beach today with a ton of luggage because someone wants to bring all her Christmas goodies with her. More soon from the kid-friendly hotel in Hua Hin.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friends


Joy, chaos and a volume that is so beyond our norm is what is filling our house these last few days, and we are loving it. Hannah and Mimi and Sojo are having a blast together. So much so that when Sojo had to come inside from the playground to go to the bathroom, she leaped off the toilet and ran back outside shouting, "Where are my friends?!?"
It's uncanny how much these two cuties look alike. Both are from the same area of China and have the most beautiful eyes. And watching them hold hands like this makes my heart so full.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where's the 'Cation?


Dale's sister and niece are here in town, and they had hotel points and stayed at a posh hotel in downtown Bangkok. Gladys generously gave us a hotel room one night so we could all meet up and spend time together. We mentioned to Sojo that she needed to pack a bag for a quick trip, and that little world traveler just threw a few things in, put on her shoes, and was ready to walk out the door in no time at all.

It wasn't until we got in the taxi and were on the road that she looked at us quizically and said, "Where's the 'cation?"

Our 'cation so far is gorgeous. Gorgeous weather, gorgeous friends, and watching Sojo play with these two girls in our house makes us want a whole Brady Bunch of little ones running around.

*I can't believe Sojo is actually wearing a dress in this photo. Somehow Momo convinced her. I've almost forgotten how adorable she looks in one.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays!

A quick holiday photo of Sojo in what is now becoming her official camera pose.
And then, per her request, one of her wiggling her butt.
We currently have a house full of kids, one of whom was Sojo's playmate back in Shanghai. Smiling from ear to ear at the little voices and the running around and the trail of toys from one end of the house to the other. Making us even more excited for the arrival of another family member.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jetsetter

Living in Southeast Asia, and especially a hub like Bangkok, makes quick little trips affordable and easy. This past weekend, Dale graciously stayed home to babysit while I jetted off to Hong Kong (that even sounds cool!) to see my dear friends from way back in the Ecuador days, Sharon and Pierre. It was a 36 hour trip that consisted mostly of drinking coffee and nonstop talking on the deck of their oh-so-funky houseboat, Matilda. We did venture off the boat to get a taste of Hong Kong, and I am besotted. What a fantastic place--vibrant, cosmopolitan, uber-efficient, and surrounded by green hills. Definitely on my list of favorite places to visit or live, and I'm sure we'll have to work a Disney trip in somewhere for the family.

Matilda in all her glory. I am suffering from serious houseboat envy now...
These are the garbage guys. You leave your garbage on the deck each day and they come by with a big hook to pick it up. An added bonus is they throw a new bag on the deck for you.

My room. Lights from the water dancing on the ceiling as I fell asleep. A bit of rocking when other boats passed by. Bliss. Well, mostly bliss. I did make a greenhorn boat move and jammed my pinky toe on the step going down. Ouch!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Show!


Oh, how this girl loves a good show! Not an ounce of shyness in her on stage, and all her hard practicing of blinking (watch for it at the end of the video! it's classic as her whole body is somehow a part of the blinking) and stomp, stomp, clapping paid off. She was genuinely filled with joy to be on the stage, and it didn't escape us how she somehow made her way to the front of the line yet again this year. A wee bit of the stagehog in her...Feel free to check out the video here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Window of Time


Last weekend at the beach was just so nice. The days went something like this: eat, pool, sea, Handy Manny, nap, eat, pool, sea, Handy Manny, sleep. It made me realize how much I am grateful for this window of time that we are in Thailand with Sojo. Who knows how long we will be here, but I adore the fact that this space in time for her is filled with sunny days, nearby beaches, outrunning waves, sand in her crevices and being plum tuckered out at the end of the day. Again, she is teaching me to be more mindful and present of where I am at this moment. And again I love that I am learning from her and growing.

One hilarious part of the weekend was the ride to the beach. We hired a van and Sojo had to pee along the way. Since we are still in that "I need to pee at this very moment" stage, we pulled out the orange sand bucket and made do. Right after it happened, Sojo said, "Can you tell me that story tonight when I go to sleep?"

Thailand never ceases to make me stop and soak up beauty. It is a very special place.
Sojo's preschool show tomorrow! All week she has been saying, "The show is coming soon!" and showing us some of her dance moves. Cannot wait!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

In the Kingdom

Living in Thailand is my first experience living in a kingdom with a presiding king. Being American makes the whole king thing completely foreign, but I rather like it. Especially in Thailand. The king of Thailand is the longest reigning king in the world, and the country utterly reveres him. I've never seen anything like it. The outpouring of love for him is based on his connections with all the people of Thailand--he is a king that often traveled around Thailand in his younger years and met with those who are very poor. He was born in Boston, schooled in Switzerland and then came to Bangkok to be king--a real Renaissance man. The king is so important in Thailand that even at our international school, we stand for the king's anthem before every assembly (he is a jazz saxophonist who composed his own anthem! how cool is that?!), there are skyscrapers with one entire side as a picture of the king and queen, and one day a week, the people of Thailand were pink polos because the king like the color pink. That's his picture at the entrance to our school.

In celebration of the king's upcoming 82nd birthday on Monday, many wore pink or yellow (the queen's color) at school today. Even Sojo was a part of the fun, telling us when we came home about the king's birthday in her pink shirt.

As the king's birthday gives us a long weekend, we are headed to the beach for a little fun in the sun. Exploring a new beach this time called Rayong, which is about 3 hours by van. Should be fun!

Oops! The other big news is that Sojo has learned how to draw a happy face. Look carefully...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Getting Ready

Christmas is in the air here, at least as much as it can be with shorts and t-shirts and nothing even remotely like 'black friday' or 'cyber monday.' Gotta say I'm grateful for that, but I would take a huge dose of family right now. Ok, and some new clothes that were cute and on sale as well.

I read this great book recently called Already Ready by a fabulous reading lady named Katie Wood Ray. In the book, she talks about how even the very young can be making books and stories on paper as long as we provide them the tools. The other night I put out a blank stapled book on the coffee table for Sojo and just left it there. Before I knew it, she had taken out her crayons and began these awesome big circle blob drawings of Uniqua and Tyrone (her Backyardigans friends) and then tons and tons of yeti footprints. I loved just chillin' on the couch and watching her concentrate so hard on her pictures, and then hearing her tell me what was happening on the page. I must remember to put those tools out for her more often. Coloring books are good for some things, but I really find that a blank piece of paper gives her more freedom to express herself. Ok, I did stage the photo a bit and move our centerpiece on the coffee table into the picture as Sojo made it at school. It's her jungle sculpture, and we all love it. Her school uses mostly natural materials, and the little puffball things are actually silkworm cocoons.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Early Birds


Sojo and I are up early on the weekends. Well, Sojo is up early, and I follow her because I have no choice really. Dale, although chocked full of great qualities, does not count being a morning person as one of his gifts. We often let him sleep in a bit on the weekends.

The two of us head out on our bike to the local smoothie place for Sojo and Starbucks for me and Dale. Throw in a feeding of the fish in the lake, and it's very fun. Mind you, it's about a 3 minute bike ride, but Sojo takes longer to get ready for the ride than the ride itself. She packs her backpack with toys and also carries her orange crate where she stores her soy milk box. I think it's the process that makes her happy.

Adoption update: All our paperwork is in and being submitted to the Thai government as soon as the fingerprints clear. We are at the stage now that I remember so well with Sojo: being keenly aware of children around us and wondering what he will look like. I remember we always had cute jokes waiting for Sojo, like if we saw a middle-school girl in China, we'd say something like, "oh, look, there's Sojo in her awkward stage." or a college-aged Asian girl in Target, "oh,look, there's Sojo home from her first year of university.' Quite a fun stage!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Life of Late

Life of late is busy. Too busy. The balance we strive for is a bit off-kilter, and that's just blah! Thankfully we have a long weekend coming up and then an even longer Christmas holiday shortly after that. In the meantime, we've been enjoying after-dinner bike rides (loving my new sherbert orange bike--puts a skip in my daily ride to school), picnics on the lily pads Dale made us all on the floor, and general happiness about the somewhat cooler weather in Bangkok.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Love List

Chillin' on a Sunday morning with Sojo. The weather in Bangkok is a cool 71 degrees today, which is beyond fabulous. We went on a Starbucks run this morning and didn't produce even one drop of sweat. Very atypical!

Just a few things I love about Sojo...

She is funky and she recognizes funky. Mom and dad brought us these fabulously funky shoes, and Sojo wore them to the choir concert at school the other night (a very handsome man was playing guitar in the show!)And she eats really healthy food. It's partly because that is what we give her but also partly because we aren't bombarded with tons of junk here (one of my fav overseas living benefits). You know you're on the right track when edamame gets a yippee for being a special treat.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drumroll please...


Our sweet little family is on its way to becoming a family of four. We are diving in again, and the adoption process has been started here in Thailand for a little brother. The craziest part of all is that we are told it will be only about 6 months until he is with us because we live here in Thailand. Even if it winds up to be longer, it is tremendously less than the wait in other countries. The timeline here is such that we should get a photo of him 3-4 months after the dossier is submitted and then a few months later, he can live with us. The Thai government will then check on us for the next 6 months, and then he can officially be in our family. We'll do the US required paperwork alongside the Thai requirements.

Sojo was super keen on the idea for a long time, even talking about him when she played hide and seek. "maybe i can play with my little brother. i can say 'where are you little brother?'" just melted my heart. Lately, though, the novelty has worn off and she has been telling us that she wants to be by herself sometimes. No worries, sweetie, we all do sometimes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Changes


Small changes happening for Sojo lately...somehow our very routine bedtime of 7:00 p.m. is not working for her anymore. We still put her to bed around that time, but there is some seriously skilled stalling going on. A now-familiar sound is her pittering-pattering feet coming into our room to say, "I need to tell you a secret." The secret is usually something sweet like 'I love you' or when she really kicks it up a notch, it becomes strange things like 'I like your shirt' or 'I like your hair.' Um...thanks?

The only good part about the stalled bedtime (and I mean the only good part as I had it set in my mind that 7:00 would be her bedtime until at least second grade, and I'm not kidding at all when I say that) is that she plays on her bed with her pink light on until she finally surrenders to sleep. We get a gorgeous peek-in every night now as Dale goes in to turn off her light. So peaceful.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Naked Superhero!

We're still fully in the fantasy imagination stage over here and loving it. Just this week a new character joined us. Let's give a big welcome to...Naked Superhero! (she saves the day a lot!) Not sure why the naked part is important, but it's becoming a nightly routine. A big thanks to my mom who made the cool superhero capes. Can you guess who this character is? It's from a movie that we all love dearly. Think robot-obsessed kid meets robot in movie about saving the earth. Yup, that's Wall-E herself squeezing out a brick just like in the movie.

This is one phase we'd love to see last a long time. The other phase Sojo is going through where she procrastinates going to bed and cries a lot when she doesn't get her way--well, that one can pass by tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen...

What a blast we had last night. We have a routine that Sojo plays by herself while Dale and I finish dinner, and while she was doing so, we heard rumblings of something going on and then watched her climb the toy shelf. Then she shouted out, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN..." and said something else random about an audience. "Can I do a show?" she asked us. Uh, you bet you can!

What started out as just cute ended up being her putting on a 'show' for us for about an hour. Mainly, the show consisted of her climbing up the toy shelf, shouting 'Ladies and Gentlemen!,' singing twinkle twinkle little star with a few added lines of a random invented song, and then jumping off the middle shelf... ...over and over and over, like most of everything in our lives right now. But it was so much fun. "Can I do another show?" she asked us again and again.

Dale joined in the show for the grand finale (it's starting to look like a 3 year old version of Cirque de Soleil) and this gave her the chance to do the big jumps off the top. I already have visions of shows as she gets older with signs and tickets and all that fun stuff. And perhaps even some small parts for the parents as well. Great childhood memories of our neighborhood shows in New York running through my head. Such fun, that whole kid thing.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Catching Up

It's been busy around here, and somehow the blog hasn't kept up with all the stuff happening. We are settling back into our own rhythm of things and enjoying a bit of cooler weather here in sweaty Bangkok after about 5 weeks of having my family with us. My brother suggested this 'overlap' family visiting idea last summer, and it's fantastic. It means we have some time with all of us here, and then some extra time with just one part of the family. It translates to lots of good quality time with everyone. Making me homesick for them just typing this....
Loy Krathong has passed again, the lovely Thai holiday of sending all your yearly baggage down the river, metaphorically speaking, with your krathong.

And someone is still fully in the robot phase, even posing for pictures that way now and riding around on a new-ish robot bike. My favorite part is when she walks up to a random person and begins acting like a robot. She's definitely quirky, and we so love that.

On a different note, I have had the extreme pleasure of working on a library project for an amazing place called the Mercy Center, located in one of the poorest slums of Bangkok. This labor of love was started by a teacher at our school, and we are now in the final stages of getting ready to open the library for the children who live at the orphanage (many of the girls in the circle with me live at the center) and for the surrounding community. I found myself in awe most of the day as we unpacked boxes of donated Thai books and sorted them. What I loved most is that the girls were supposed to be putting them on the shelves, but when I went to see how they were doing, most of them were fully absorbed in reading. Powerful stuff.