Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bench Love

Here's a peek at our awesome bench found at the market this past weekend. A great fit, a funky color and just perfect for chillin' out and playing guitar. We are loving our new outdoor space. Even though we leave very early for school (6:30 and we are a 5 minute bike ride), we are each finding a quiet moment before school to sit and ponder a bit on said bench.

*That sweet child is now forever wearing that backpack during the day, and it's become a security blanket of sorts. Except that sometimes she just tells you she is wearing her 'pretend backpack' and what the contents are. I think that is on days when she feels too lazy to put on a real backpack and lug it around all day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy Protestors

We're working on a little backyard project and headed down to Chatuchak Market in search of the perfect bench to soak up the tropical foliage around us. Upon arrival, we quickly realized that it was a staging area for a big rally of the "redshirts" that have been protesting non-violently now for 2 weeks.
In true Thai style, the protestors were all waves and smiles as we stood on the overpass taking pictures. They are the happiest protestors I've ever witnessed--one guy is even doing the I Love You sign with his hand. Seriously, they look like they are en route to an Arizona Wildcat game rather than wanting to immediately dissolve the current government and have new elections!

More on the awesome backyard project tomorrow. Here's a sneak peek at the two hard workers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Amantee With My Man


There is a place near us called Amantee that I have been wanting to visit for some time now. It's a restored teak house that is an Asian antiques showroom, a residence and a French cafe all in one. Dale and I headed just 15 minutes by taxi to this oasis in the middle of a random Thai neighborhood. Teak hardwood floors, an open air design, and as the Thais do so very well--every last detail of aesthetic was attended to. We ate the most perfectly proportioned meals (a small goat cheese quiche that you could tell they created the moment I ordered it) and soaked up the peacefulness of the place.
This aspect of utter peace and beauty in something like a house is what I adore about Thailand. Strangely enough, I find myself nostalgic for this country already, and I am not yet leaving. I simply am aware of what I love about it and what I will miss when we are no longer here. Watermelon juice, for one thing. All three of us drink it in copious amounts, and I know that forever I will associate that taste with this time in our lives.
See what I mean? A long blade of perfectly green grass in a drink is an example of those gorgeous details.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Letter Love

Sojo is so aware right now of print in her environment. From the toilet paper holder in the pool bathroom that says ISB (for our school) to the number 6 on the escalator at the mall to using shoelaces to make the letters she know, print is it in our house! Again, I find myself fascinated by how organic the literacy process is. A little nourishment, lots of noticings, and gobs of books seem to do the trick for most kids.

Lucky us to have a 4-day weekend, and this was the scene early this morning over coffee. We recently bought a set of Duplos (Dyann, just like you said eons ago, these things ROCK!) and creating letters out of Duplos became the challenge. So much fun.
We were having so much fun chilling and letting the morning unfold that we were surprised when there was a knock on the door. The school bus was there for Sojo. Oops! A quick change of clothes and a hop on the bike got her there in time for the morning play. Dale and I were so happy to see the kids all running around and also have the chance to talk with the teachers and principal. I love that all of the teachers are right there as the kids have 30 minutes of play. We even got to come in after the bell, and I read a story for the kids. And now 3 and a half more days off. Delight!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

Monday, 5:15 p.m.

She fell over like a tree.

Right at dinnertime.

As you can see, the no-nap policy is working like a charm. Ha!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Down for the Count


If you're going to be ill, Bangkok is a good place to be. The hospital that I tend to wax on about is first-rate, and we have such trust in it. Dale was battling a pretty high fever for three days, which then turned into some major muscle and joint pain, so they admitted him for observation at Bumrungrad. He's doing just fine now, full of fluids and enjoying the posh hospital room. He's due to be discharged tomorrow at some point. Still no definitive answer as to why the high fever (they ruled out malaria, dengue and H1N1), but he's well again.

Sojo and I went down early this morning for a visit. It just so happens that my favorite latte and pastry shop is right in the hospital (I'm telling you they do the whole hospital experience so well here!), so we picked up some goodies and brought them to the room. We hung out for a while and then left him in peace to recuperate. Last I heard, he had just discovered movies on demand on the flat screen TV. I'm sure he'll be just fine, but we miss him like crazy.

Lastly, a photo of downtown Bangkok from the hospital window. The brown-roofed hotel in the bottom is the most gorgeous boutique hotel friends just told me about. I'm anxious to try their vegetarian menu, and maybe, just maybe, one day I'll participate in their four-day silent meditation retreat. Sounds like a wonderful challenge.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reading at Starbucks


We have one sick baba for the last few days, so Sojo and I ventured out just the two of us this morning. My plan was to get a latte and have some quality reading time, and I suggested Sojo also bring a book with her to do the same. She chose the Wall-E book, I threw a 2nd one in the bike basket just in case, and off we went. One chocolate muffin later, only 1/4 of the way through my latte, she announces that she is ready to go home. Um...I don't think so. I gently told her we had agreed to come to Starbucks to read together and showed her the books. She decided on Wall-E because she could read it. And read it she did. Or at least retell it page by page while I tried to read my own book. Mostly, I was listening to everything she said.
Just a slice of what I hope will be many, many reading mornings together. My friend Jen has a 3rd grader, and the two of them now the same book once a month and then go to Starbucks for their own private book club. Love that!

*Most random choice of what to bring with us this morning was the head of the Halloween dinosaur costume. Not to wear, mind you, just to hold. Taking our new role of dinosaur very seriously. So much so that when I suggested I paint Sojo's toes blue like mine, she balked. Green only for those toes, I was told. For dinosaurs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Light


There are some days when our ground floor apartment feels dangerously close to living in a cave. Other days, the light streaming through the window is just pure beauty. Yesterday was one of those days. Having Sojo's play area right there by the window was our best design idea for this apartment.

And those braids. It's the only way she'll wear her hair nowadays. Her reasoning is she likes how the ends feel on her shoulders.

Recently on someone's blog, I read how nice it is not to crop every picture. There is an element of retaining the details around the edges. I love the details in this pic:

*pink purse hanging from the giraffe, which is now the scooter that gets her to pretend school.
*shoelace used for the horse's reins
*that stick thing on the bottom has been in our house for a week now, used as a broom or a tree, depending on what the activity is. it was a cactus just after this was taken.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lovin' a Music Man

Guitar Dale just got some press from a local newspaper here in Bangkok. Pretty cool! Feel free to click on the pic to read the article.





As for Sojo, well, she is one heck of a Little Miss Sunshine

And I got to pull out my St. Patrick's Day fur capelet (have I invented this word?) to wear to school today. Rather bold and definitely not a breathable fabric in this heat, but so much fun to wear. My totally non-fashionista partner refers to it as my "Martian carcass," which makes me love it even more.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrating Independence


Sojo is becoming so independent, and it is beautiful to watch. A few days ago, she hopped up on the swing (that itself is pretty new!) and I got up to push her like I always do. I was quickly told, "It's ok, mama. I can do it myself." And what do you know? She did it all by herself, much like everything these days. Putting on pants, hopping onto the toilet, all sorts of cool important stuff.

While on the playground, she was climbing up a somewhat challenging ladder to get to the slide. I only turned my body to keep an eye on her and was told, "Mama, don't spy me!" Tried hard not to laugh there, but I do relish her independent nature.

A little movie of the big swing day. I love how she makes it seem like it's totally her choice that she is going so slowly. And her best friend Stella rubbing it in that she is 4 and can do it really well. Competitive even at a wee age.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Feels Like Summer


The thing about living in the tropics is that it always feels like summer vacation is right around the corner. Mind you, this can be dangerous around October when you have many, many months left before June. But, for real this time, the hot season (really hot season compared to kinda hot season) is starting, which we know means that the real summer vacation is just a few months away.

Today we sat in the kiddie pool, soaking up the sun and talking about our summer plans. And they are such fun summer plans!

They go a little something like this:

*Bangkok to Tokyo Disney (breaking up the long trip this year--already thinking we are so clever for doing this)

*Disney to Arizona for a few weeks of fun in the desert

*A short trip across the border with my family to our favorite beach in Mexico

*Arizona to 5 weeks of chilling in our awesome eco-conscious town of Port Townsend.

Still three months away, but the planning makes it seem even closer.

How awesome are these purple flowers? I've begun noticing so much about the tropical seasons. We're heading into the full bloom season. Colors abound!

Monday, March 08, 2010

FYI



Who knew that being a robot is so last month...

After a few months of seriously taking on the role of a robot, that stage is finished. When I asked her if she wanted to wear her cool new robot shirt I bought her, I was told somewhat haughtily, "Mama, I am not a robot. I'm a brontosaurus!"

Brontosaurus (sauri?) roar really cool and look especially lovely with a new haircut.

*Adoption update: After many weeks of waiting for fingerprints, they came back but Dale's were marked 'erroneous.' Seems they were either taken wrong or in the wrong order, so that means a bit of back to the drawing board. Hoping we can cut to the front of the line since it's the 2nd time, but not sure. Upside is that we weren't sure we could go home this summer. Good news that we can be with family for a long summer vacation and be closer to adding to the brood when we return.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Books and Rainbows

Our school had an international food fair today, and it was Sojo's first time ever eating shaved ice in a bowl. How have we missed that fab experience? I think it's because mostly it's sold on the street here, and my street food days are long over. No matter--she was in heaven eating this and declared it to be the yummiest food she's ever had. When Dale asked her what it tasted like, she said, "It tastes like a rainbow." Sounds like the seed of a poem.
Add a big helping of Chinese noodles and jiao zis (dumplings) and it was a great food day.
But before all that food fun, we had something new and exciting. Dale and I decided to try opening the school library once a month for parents and children. We love the idea of building community and Dale will do some guitar songs in future months. I ran a short story time for the littlest ones, and even though I was a bit nervous (they are so small and have the attention span of a cheerio), they were amazing and the whole experience was incredibly fun. Sojo helped me pick the two stories* and even came up and helped me sing the songs, of course adding an original of her own called "The Dinosaur."
I adore this picture. Sojo was my built-in laugh track during the story. She let loose and guffawed at all the funny parts, in her own way letting the other kids know it was time to laugh.

*The awesome stories were Bark, George! and Hooray for Fish. Both work really well with little ones on up to kinder or so.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Sleep Fairy

Almost three years into this parenting gig, and still sleep is our number one challenge.Let's just say a certain someone is still puttering about for hours after we put her to bed, and then not even sleeping through the night most times.

So, we were willing to try anything. Like even to invent a 'sleep fairy' who might come in the middle of the night looking for little girls who are sleeping nicely. And this sleep fairy might even be inclined to leave a small token of appreciation if the little girl is sleeping. Desperate times, my friends. Our evening time is so important to us. It appears it's important enough to have us move to bribery.

It's totally random reinforcement, but Sojo does like to see if the sleep fairy has visited in the night. When she does leave something, it's usually a matchbox car, which are always appreciated. Wish I could say it's worked like a charm, but it's only somewhat successful. I do laugh because sometimes she'll tell me she heard the sleep fairy outside her window, and then other times she'll tell me she is very, very tiny.

Tomorrow is the last afternoon nap day for this active sweetpea. This has to be the reason she is wide awake at 9 p.m. I'll find some way to keep her awake until the evening. Fingers crossed...

*I also can't wait until Sojo is older so we can tell her this story in our somewhat pathetic attempt to just get her to sleep! Makes me giggle even now.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Zen of Japan

Japan was such an interesting place. The concept of Zen minimalism was evident in how everyday items were arranged in their environment-everything appeared to be done with such care and intent. Tiny items abounded...it felt like the antithesis of Texas where everything is big--even the garbage cans in public toilets were merely the size of a lunchbox. Charming is the perfect word for Japan.

When I mentioned the requisite heated toilet seats to some, they balked at the weirdness of it, but it's near brilliant! Come on, cold winters would be much easier to bear with a heated toilet seat. Definitely a country I'd like to explore more...

Nagoya 2010 on PhotoPeach