Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gone Exploring

We're a bit behind on the blog updates, but trust us, we've got a good excuse. You see, we've been really

Sojo has been knee-deep in her latest adventure all week. Skating in the snow with 'noculars searching for penguins. Always penguins, sometimes seals, but it seems like it's the Arctic we are exploring. Usually when she finds one (strangely enough it's her pink quilt), she says a quick hello and then skates away, only to start over again. We're definitely in the "Groundhog Day" stage of life and repetition is king.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Work is Done

Yesterday, I walked in the door from school and heard the patter of little feet running to the stairs to greet me. Sojo's sweet voice yelled, "Mama, you got books from the library?"

Why, yes I do! Another great series of books by Olivier Dunrea called Gossie and Ollie the Stomper. Let's just say these were read at least 20 times in a row, and she never tired of them.

Kind of figured out how to make a new header, but it's still a bit wonky (what's with all the white space leftover?). We have summer on our mind, and this is our favorite area at our house in Washington. Lots of time spent drinking coffee and watching the fish from those chairs. Only two months until we are in coffeeland again. Yippee!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mall Rats

Circa 1983, both Dale and I were big-time mall rats, and it now appears that we are returning to that existence. It's so hot that being outside is rather miserable, but our nearby mall is a short bike ride away and is air-conditioned. Plus, there is this brilliant concept here of a department store having a playroom inside it (do we have these stateside? If not, somebody should start one!), so Sojo gets to play with different toys. Her absolute favorite is a wooden giraffe pushtoy, and she is in heaven scooting around the store in and out of the toy aisles with it. What puzzles us both is that she never asks to bring the giraffe toy home. In her mind, it belongs there and we go to visit it each week.
We're starting to fall into a nice routine at the mall: a fruit smoothie, a long play, and then dinner at an Italian place in the mall.
One extra activity this week was Sojo discovering the fun of hiding in the clothesracks. It's a bit full circle as Dale fondly remembers doing that as a child. And if the mall wasn't fun enough by itself, there is usually an Asian twist. I love that about Asia-- there are often some really random things that appear random only to foreigners. Yesterday's mall sighting was of a lesser-known Superhero out and about. Perhaps you've heard of him--Super Scotch Tape Man! Able things together....? Wait, we humans do that already. Can he do it faster than us normal folk? What is this guy's superpower? It remains a mystery but left me chuckling all afternoon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sunset Beauty

Not many words needed on this one. A gorgeous sunset we enjoyed together in Borneo.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hard Part

After that awesome vacation as a family, it was a wee bit hard going back to school and leaving Sojo on Monday morning.

Thankfully, summer vacation is only 7 weeks away. I'm sure we'll fill the hours with tons of fun stuff like we did last week.

Dale creates the most elaborately cool tracks for the toy cars. Lots of quality time spent with these
I took Sojo to the library one day so I could get some work done, and she discovered the Mr. Men books. Incredibly excited to find the one that matches her Little Miss Sunshine t-shirt.
You can never go wrong with spoon licking, even better with eggless muffins.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Neighborhood

I realize that I have never really posted any pics of our neighborhood, so I took my camera as we walked to school for some playground fun. Gong gong, this is special for you so you can envision our surroundings before your visit in October. Having the school within walking distance is a big plus for us and we're stashing away some environmental karma points. Mind you, we sweated the whole way as it is really hot here now. It feels a lot like Arizona in the summer, that whole 'walk out your door and get blasted with a wall of heat' feel. Add a generous helping of humidity and that's Bangkok right now in what is the hottest time of the year.

Another cool Arizona connection is that we have trees and bushes here that are in the same family as my favorite Arizona foliage, the Mexican Bird of Paradise. Wild, eh? They are in bloom right now, and it's a lovely reminder of my favorite desert as we ride our bikes to school.
We live in a neighborhood that is gated and has a man-made lake in the middle of it all. There are some huge fish in this lake--so huge, in fact, that we were a bit freaked out when we first moved here and thought there was some sort of Lochness monster living in the lake. The fish come up and jump out of the water and some have dorsal fins. Right by the grocery store is a place where we can put in a coin and have fish food come right out into the lake.Once we get to the school gates, there is a Starbucks right outside. This is what makes our neighborhood a bit surreal. Because it's gated, many people use golf carts to get around. Picture lots of tricked-out golf carts with all the drivers holding Starbucks cups. Getting a bit of a Desperate Housewives-esque visual?
The final destination is the school playground. This a favorite of Sojo's, and she has just begun using the climbing wall with some help.
Last day of vacation for us. Such a fun, fun week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easy on the Eyes

I took this photo at the playground today, and I love it because it highlights Sojo's sweet, sweet eyes. The difference in eye shape is probably the most obvious physical difference between us and Sojo. They are so dark that it's hard to even see her pupils, and we are so in love with her eyes. (Just a tidbit of info explaining a difference in Asian eyes: Asians have a single eyelid instead of a double-fold one that many other races do--it's that extra skin under the eyebrow--go on, feel it if you have it. I had to. Personally, I'm thinking all the better in later years when those double eyelids of ours start to droop, but that's just me!) I gotta say one of my favorite things in China was seeing a Chinese girl wearing green or blue eyeshadow. It just looks so cool painted across their eyelids like a flat canvas. On the flip side, while living in China, every now and then we'd come across a Chinese woman who'd had the eye surgery to add that extra eyelid fold and have more of a western-looking eye shape. It was a surgery that I just didn't understand. Hopefully a lifetime of props for her gorgeous Asian eyes will make Sojo love her eyes as much as we do--and perhaps a lifetime of obnoxious eyeshadow colors won't hurt either.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Love and Books

One of my new favorite pictures of Sojo and Dale reading together. Sojo has hit the stage of spending lots of time lining things up: blocks, books, cars. The great part of this is we can almost eat an entire meal at a restaurant while she lines things up. Woo hoo! At home, she loves to line up her books to make a house. And speaking of books, I saw this cool widget on someone else's blog and added it to ours to show Sojo's current favorite reads. Working in a library allows me the luxury of always discovering great new books, and it's fascinating to me what works like magic for a toddler. These I chose are some of the ones that she loves to read over and over again. I'll change it up now and again, but feel free to share any titles that you know are great for toddlers!

*Just showed Sojo the new carousel book widget and she LOVED it. Somehow she thought they were all movies. "Look, there's Ten in the Den. Let's watch the movie!"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Staycation Fun

I recently came across the term 'staycation' on the web, and I love it. It comes from families who are choosing to have a vacation at home instead of spending tons of money on a vacation, especially in these economic times. Since we just went to Borneo, it didn't make much sense for us to jet off again. We are loving our staycation that feels so much like a vacation. Mind you, it doesn't hurt when it's already super sunny and it's beach weather everyday in Thailand, but I've noticed other reasons why it feels so good to be home this week.

*Being working parents, we simply don't have the rhythm of being with Sojo day in and day out. Having a chance to go with the flow for a whole week is heavenly and so good for all of us. Makes me think of how the summer will be.

*We can never justify the cost of a hotel room that has two separate rooms. So, when Sojo goes to bed in the same room, we tiptoe around and read by flashlight after 7 p.m. We've spent this week at home playing gin rummy and scrabble like crazy when she goes to bed, just like in pre-Sojo days.

*I have finally started up my groovy "Sewing Pretty with Hello Kitty" sewing machine. I made these pretty cool and super easy bean bags out of fabric scraps from our Cameroon fabric stash. Love them!*And you know it's hot when going in the pool isn't refreshing. Yesterday we had water play on the back stoop instead of hitting the pool. *An added bonus to the week is that Dale found a way to livestream the Mariners game on his computer. So much of our history together has to do with watching baseball. In Venezuela, those were some of our first dates. In Cameroon, we got up in the middle of the night to watch the World Series together. Sojo is still more of a Little Einsteins fan at the moment, but we'll get her on board soon enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Songkran & Easter

The Easter bunny's visit was a big hit with Sojo. I love that her basket will always be gong gong's from when he was a kid, which then became mine when I was a kid. No offense, gong gong, but that makes it a pretty old Easter basket.

What isn't a big hit with Sojo is the Thai holiday of Songkran. There are lots different things to do during Songkran, but the most popular one (and the most fun one) is to throw buckets of water on everyone. The deal is you know this walking out the door and so no one wastes any time in the next three days being mad about getting wet. We just rode our bikes to a playdate and saw a group of kids armed with buckets and water guns coming right at us. They got us good, and we were completely soaked and laughing like mad--all except Sojo.How could those lovely Thai people know that this kid HATES getting any water on her clothes? I mean, if some water spills on her shirt, she is insistent on changing her entire outfit. Can you imagine a bucket of it being thrown at her from random strangers? Her mantra all the way home was, "I don like songkran, I don like songkran, i don like songkran." That made me laugh even harder than being drenched. Amidst all the protesting going on here, it is lovely to see that the Thai culture is still all about sanuk, or having fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nearly Seamless

Sojo's transition to the big girl bed has been nearly seamless this week. This totally reinforces our belief that kids do things when they are ready, and when we let them be on their own timeline, it's virtually painless. It was this way with giving up the bottle for her, and I'm sure it will happen at some point with potty training. She's still a once-a-day potty girl and not interested at all in expanding her time on the toilet yet.

Just about every morning, we awake to sounds of Sojo reading in bed (the librarian mama's heart sings!) or chatting with one of the animals on her bed. Somehow she has not quite figured out that she can get OFF the bed by herself and still waits for us to come in.

The last addition to the new bed is the funky wall sticker we bought at IKEA last year. We were just waiting for the right place to put it. And could that light get any better on it?
p.s. Just a heads-up to let the family know that we are ok here in Bangkok in regards to the protests and newly declared state of emergency. Remember that we live a ways away from the downtown area, so don't worry about us. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Bunny Preparations

We've been getting ready for the Easter Bunny here at our house, but with the Thai new year holiday of Songkran at the same time, so there are slim pickings for fun goodies. Thanks to popo and gong gong for saving the day by sending some fun things for Sojo. Since this is the first year she understands even a bit that this bunny is coming to the house to leave her some treats and presents, we made him a picture for his trouble. Sojo was kind enough to let us know that the Easter bunny was allowed to come in and play with her toys. Not a bad trade for some treats in a basket.

A bit heartbroken about the wonky audio on this video, but the gist is that she was writing a message to the Easter bunny and painting bunny feet.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture

One of the things China does so well in adoption is their matching process. They take it very seriously, and they ask adopting parents to send a photo collage of you both doing things you enjoy. We sent in pictures of us playing music together, and they went into the matching room (there really is a matching room, which is so sweet) and set out to find us a kid who matched our interests. The report we received about her said that she loved music and would 'dance' while she sat in her chair. It seemed too convenient, and we wondered and how on earth could they take the time to find kids who really match their parents, but there just couldn't be a kid who is more suited to us than this little girl.

So is it nature or nurture that makes her love the gamelan and groove to Van Morrison? Does she love her new tiny guitar because her baba wears his like an extension of his body, or would she have been in love with music no matter where she landed in the world? No answers, but all I know is that we are grateful every single day that we all wound up together.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Just Because

Just a sweet picture of Sojo at play because we are a bit homesick lately. Looking forward to the summer vaca to have tons of play time with our family.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I'm Not Trapped Anymore!

We simply weren't sure when the time was right to move Sojo from the crib to the big girl bed. Our deal was that when she tried to climb out of the crib herself, then it was time to make the big move. And just this morning, I asked Sojo to hold on a second before I could get her out, and when I returned, she was one leg away from falling out of the crib. Decision made, and what a fun family project to boot. A friend was kind enough to donate the awesome IKEA crib when we first needed it, but the best part is that, with a few minor changes, it becomes a toddler bed. It's wonderful, and the only glitch is the 'too big for the bed and also not soft enough to be a mattress' mattress we purchased here. So, our solution was to buy a smaller, comfy mattress to put on top and she's good to go.

As we worked on the project today and really talked it up (she's just like Maisy now, our favorite book character!), Sojo was a great help and seemed keen on not being in the crib anymore. But...the best part that let us know it was the right decision was when the crib walls came down. She shouted out, "I'M NOT TRAPPED ANYMORE!!!!" ok, 'nuff said. She is sleeping soundly so far, and we're kind of excited to see what the morning brings. We do have a gate on her door, but I'm wondering if she'll putter around a bit before yelling for us. One can always hope for a bit of a sleep in...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Her Story

There are just so many changes lately in Sojo, and she is fascinated with when she was a baby. Everything is, "I have when I was baby?" and she has taken to sleeping with her baby rattle again. For a long time, she had no interest in being told a story about her life and preferred only a book story. But just in the last few weeks, if she has trouble sleeping, I tell her the story of the day we became a family and she listens while we lay in the dark. She's even started filling in some of the info herself. I tell her about how we had to wait in a room until she arrived and then baba looked out the window and saw a car pull up. Two Chinese ladies got out of the car with two pink bundles and we knew one had to be Sojo. The ladies walked in the room and asked who Sojo Aini's mama and baba were, and we said, "It's us!" Sojo was dressed all in pink (hmmm....the beginning of the color obsession): pink shirt, pink blankie, pink pants, pink and green socks, and white shoes. The lady handed Sojo to us, and we thought she was going to cry but she didn't cry one bit. Mama and baba felt so very lucky because we met Sojo and became a family. *

*Usually choked up by this point. That was such a powerful moment.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Home Safe

You'd think we really were castaways with the excitement Sojo had coming home to Bangkok. She ran around the living room taking out every single toy and even announcing really random things like, " I HAVE AN ORANGE BAG!!!!!" On our last night in Borneo, Dale played in a teacher band for the final gala of the conference, and Sojo and I held down the fort in the hotel room. As Sojo was getting ready for bed, we heard some really loud music and some whooping coming from the restaurant area. Yes, whooping, like a 'woooo ooo' sound. Sojo and I decided to head down there in her pj's to see what all the fuss was, and we discovered a lovely traditional dance (the whooping sound was part of that) with a gamelan player and a drummer. The gamelan is an almost hypnotic instrument in Asia, and Sojo was in heaven with all the music. She has since turned her xylophone into her personal gamelan and more than once this week we have acted out the dancing and music. Sojo's got a pretty good 'whoooo oooo' going on, and we love that a tiny part of the island wove its way into her musical soul. For anyone looking for a youtube movie of the trip complete with gamelan music, click here. Dale rocks at putting these together!