Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Wide World

It's no secret that I love teaching internationally. I truly, truly love the experiences for myself and now for Sojo. Having been abroad for 19 years now, I've bee-bopped around the world enough to have met lovely people on many continents. And although our lives are more transient than most, there are so many people who have made an impact on our lives. This little girl was a friend of ours in Shanghai, and she and Sojo look so much alike (seriously--this is like a power punch of cuteness!) and they both talk incessantly and are both such spunky little beings. Her family was in town this weekend, so we met up with them to lounge by their hotel pool and catch up on the last two years of life and such.

And, then, just as I am talking to Kimbra, I look up to see a woman staring at me in disbelief. It was another friend from ten years ago when we worked in Cameroon together. Her mom was my director and a good, good woman who nurtured many of us in that challenging place.

Maybe it is the transient lifestyle that brings those of us with the vagabond lifestyle together so tightly. Either way, I am always grateful for the three degrees of separation we say we have overseas.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

This photo sums up Christmas 2011 in our household--Sojo got lots more stuff to hang off or strap to her body. In looking at this photo, I realize that she has now switched from holding random things in her hand to hanging random things off her body. Perhaps she realized she needs to use her hands more as she gets older? Such a funny child.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Family Reunion, 21st Century

We had a lovely chat with the whole family on Skype this morning. I can barely remember life before the joys of Skype, travelling in South America and searching for a public phone to pay gobs of money on Christmas day only to have a bad connection to chat with the family for a few minutes.

I love how much joy shows in this photo. We are so blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beautiful Bali

We headed off to Bali for five days at the start of our holiday break. I had been to Bali about 11 years ago (note: the perfect place to visit as a woman travelling alone) and loved it. Bali has such a wonderful feel to it: the smells of clove cigarettes and sandalwood incense, coupled with amazingly friendly people and tiny offerings littering the streets make it a beautifully peaceful country. Even their way to say hello, Om Swastiastu, means wishing someone peace. We lounged by the pool, caught up with old friends and visited the artsy city of Ubud.

Ubud has a sacred monkey forest that is filled with very hungry and somewhat cheeky monkeys. I had told Sojo stories of when I went there and the monkeys freaked me out enough that I just threw the whole lot of bananas at them and ran the other way. Well, that part didn't change one bit in all this time--the monkeys were still on the slightly ferocious side and freaked us all out.

Back in Bangkok now for Christmas and some down time before Dale's mom arrives on the 27th. Lots of lounging in our future...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sunset Serendipity

It was one of those nights where both Dale and I had left something at school AND we needed to get to the grocery store before it closed AND Sojo was close to falling asleep. We jumped in the golf cart to take care of things and came upon this amazing sunset in our neighborhood. Normally, we are inside at that time getting ready for bed and tidying up. Who knew we were missing such gorgeousness?

I heart serendipity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gather 'Round

Guess who got her own red ukelele? It's the perfect size, the perfect color, and oh, how gorgeous it looks hung on the turquoise wall. She's been plucking away on it, and Dale is teaching her some songs.

The other night, she was downstairs and called up to us, "Come on guys, gather round the Christmas tree!" We turned the corner to find that she had placed three stools around the tree. If that wasn't adorable enough, she then proceeded to serenade us with Jingle Bells on the ukelele. Oh, it was cute. So very cute. This girl has such spunk. No worries, mom. Video is next.

One more Christmas story to never forget...Last night in bed, she called out, "Is Santa friends with God?" I know exactly her thought process--she's been puzzled about these important people who can see her when she doesn't see them. I get that. It is a little bit freaky.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Blast Off!

Today's rocket building extravaganza was a huge hit! Dale had a vision of all sorts of rocket extras (very Dale to think this way), but Sojo opted for only the shell of a rocket. For the time being, he had to shelve his ideas of wings and boosters, but it was worth it watching her spend hours decorating the inside and outside of the rocket with markers and stickers. Friends came over later, and they all sat in it and decorated some more. Rolled-up placemats became maps of outer space, and the brilliant idea arose that she could sleep in the rocket tonight.

She is settling into the rocket bed as I write this, a bit giddier than usual but in her words, "This is going to be a blast. Like camping!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hard, Hard Worker

We've been singing this song lately in our house. It's catchy and fits the bill for this hard, hard worker. Take this book she worked on for nearly an hour tonight after dinner. Dale and Sojo were talking about building a rocket out of a cardboard box, and Dale suggested that Sojo make a blueprint of what she wanted it to look like.

That lead to pages and pages filled with ideas of how to make rockets with all sorts of cool things like wings and boosters. Those pages turned into Sojo's Rocket Blueprint Book, also known as the activity that made our kid beam (made me wonder how often we truly see beaming...) with pride.

Getting into bed tonight and looking at her book for the umpteenth time, she smiled and sang, "I'm a hard, hard worker everyday."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Lifetime of Sundays

There are days when I wish for a lifetime of Sundays.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thinking Ahead

Our girl is getting bigger by the day. And while it is gorgeous to watch, there are moments where life feels fleeting.

A few weeks ago, we were snuggling on the couch when I said, "You know, there will come a day that you won't do this anymore. You'll be too big. Isn't that weird?" This led us to talk about some of the other precious things she does in this moment of time. Like when she covers her mouth when she giggles (so very Asian) and when she sleeps with her two hands folded as in prayer and tucks them under her cheek. Oh, that one I just love to the depths.

Per her suggestion, we have begun photographing these beautiful habits of hers so we can remember. I will always look at this photo and know that we staged it, that we were feeling silly and that there was so much love between us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In the Olden Days...

Lately, our eternally curious child is starting many of her sentences with, "In the olden days, how did they ________?" The blank is filled in with random things like "how did they have sinks? did they have toilets? how did people have mosquito repellant?"

The funny part is that these so-called "olden days" are what she views as Dale and my childhood. Case in point was the other day when we were all walking together. We saw a water hose on the ground and one of us said, "You know, when mama and baba were kids, we used to drink water from hoses like that." *

Sojo turned and said, "Why? In the olden days, did they not have cups?"


*I'm sure they still do drink from hoses in North America, but this is a CRAZY thought for the overseas kids.

Can't wait for Sojo one day to look back on this precious school photo of her in the olden days.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Adventure, Part Deux

Having left the watercolor skies of Krabi and bypassing our original plan to fly back to Bangkok, we booked another hotel online and headed about 2 hours to the beach of Phuket. Mind you, after being spoiled rotten in the huge villa, it was a wee bit hard to go back to a small hotel room. However, it did have a fabulous water park right next door, so we couldn't complain for too long.

Sojo had a blast, but she had actually been coughing for the past few days and was getting sicker and sicker by the minute. A trip into town turned into a trip to the hospital with a diagnosis of bronchitis. Yikes! Poor thing.

We had to say goodbye to mom and dad as they were due to head back to the US. Even though we were trapped in our house a lot of the time, we had such a wonderful visit. Definitely stories to tell in the future about the flood visit. We'll remember the oodles of beach time and lots of smiles and love. It means the world to us that they know and love Thailand like we do.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Adventure, Part One

Whew! Finally a bit of time to chronicle the fabulous adventures we had with Popo and Gong Gong. We headed out to Krabi, a stunning area of Thailand that is filled with limestone karsts. Thankfully, Sojo had drawn an elaborate map of our route that included a plane, a taxi and a boat to get to the hotel.

For some random reason that we did not question, the hotel upgraded us to a humongous 2 bedroom villa, which was perfect for us all to hang out together and yet still have some space. We lounged, visited nearby Chicken island, took Sojo on her first kayaking trip, and spent hours in the pool.

Admittedly, it was a bit difficult to leave the luxury of Krabi. With all the flooding in Thailand, we were concerned about returning to Bangkok during the high tide, so we made the decision to hire a van from Krabi to take us to Phuket, another beach town.

Adventure, part two coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

When I Grow Up...

I adore hearing what little kids want to be when they grow up. There is a sureness to it that eludes many adults. Dale remembers that he wanted to be a farmer, and I wanted to be a zookeeper.

This adorable kid really wants to be a pizza maker when she grows up. Funny enough, she can't even eat pizza with her allergies. Her desire to be a pizza maker stems from the fact that she is sure she will be able to eat it when she grows up. Hence, she will eat lots of pizza while making pizza.

Here's hoping there are lots of pizzas in your future, kid.

p.s. I love that she set up this photo with all her sock animals. Although, sock squirrel looks a bit creepy with this effect.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


A few of our small friends have started taking off their training wheels, so we decided to give it a go as well. It was tricky the first time, but I loved watching her and Dale together. Funny how the whole riding-a-bike thing is so dad-like.

Until we get the hang of it, borrowing a friend's big girl bike is a good idea.

And poor, poor Thailand. Suffering so with all the flooding, even our neighborhood has taken somewhat drastic measures to avoid potential disaster. This is our way out of teacher housing--yikes! Thankfully, we are still dry, albeit with furniture lifted off the floor just in case. We are all headed to the gorgeous beach of Krabi tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chiang Mai Chill Time

Sojo and I headed up to Chiang Mai this past weekend to spend some time with Popo and Gong Gong. Our favorite baba opted to stay home to ensure that our house did not flood due to the water issues currently in Thailand. (thankfully, nothing happened in our neighborhood).

The weekend was misty, green, and filled with secret paths and watermelon shakes. One night at dinner, we told stories about when Sojo was a baby and nearly fell out of our chairs as we laughed so hard at the silliness of her throughout the years.

One of my favorite parts was spending a bit of time in the meditation cave on the hotel grounds. It makes me so proud that Sojo loves yoga and has her own mantra she says when meditating. Three generations of peace in this photo.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm Five!

"I'm five." Sojo said this spontaneously so many times on Sunday, and each time it was with genuine awe at being five. It was a big deal. And so much fun. The day was filled with pink cupcakes (thanks to my mom for the Martha Stewart-esque decorating), a magic show with her new outfit and tricks, a gaggle of friends, and a science experiment where we all made our own volcanoes.

She crashed hard at dinner and then was wide awake during our Sunday night massage. Her final birthday request was to have her own foot massage (is it weird that her saying that brings us such joy? we have these visions of family foot massages). We obliged by sharing ten minutes of my massage, and she was nearly catatonic in her relaxing state.
We also celebrated her special day at school. We'd been hearing about the birthday song (Oh, do you know the birthday girl, the birthday girl, the birthday girl?) for quite a while, but it was adorable watching her soak up all the birthday love with her classmates.
Even brushing her teeth that night, she stopped and said, "I'm five now." This was a biggie, it seems.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Dancing in the Street

Blog-worthy for sure. This is Sojo dancing in the streets with the headlights in the distance...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Grandparent Glee

I love when things happen in life that I know I will remember them always. Sojo on Thursday night, outside our house in the dark, binoculars in hand, searching for the headlights of the taxi that carried Popo and Gong Gong is what I will remember. And the dancing and jumping that ensued when they finally arrived. It was pure joy and love and so gorgeous.

We're already having a great time. Birthday preparations, massages, leisurely lunches and lots of time hanging out. Plus I got a kick out of calling my parents and asking them to pick me up from school. Felt a bit nostalgic.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What's Up??

We are fully into a new janitor phase of carrying a lot of stuff on your utility belt. And I mean a lot. Belt courtesy of her handy baba.

Preparing for her birthday this weekend. We are having a science experiment party, per her request! I could watch her write her letters all day.
My dishwashing friend, but this is really just an excuse to show the cutest hand-me-down cat skirt that makes her look so grown-up.
And her new work area. She put this together and loves to spend time cutting and working.
Whew! Grandparents on arriving in one hour, so we will have lots to blog about this month! Can't wait!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Three of Us

It's been a while since we have done an adoption update...

Back in June, after 18 months of waiting, our time finally came to have our interview with the Thai social worker for the adoption. The two ladies who came to our house were very nice, but, unfortunately, we were told that we would have to wait another three years, and that my age then (45) would make us ineligible for a child younger than four years old. For us, that is too much crucial bonding time spent in an institution. We were even open to a number of special needs, but anything correctable by surgery is not considered a special need in Thailand, so this would not make the process any quicker.

We took the summer to process all this and came to the difficult decision to stop the adoption process. Telling Sojo was a bit hard as she has been waiting for him and asking about him and saving toys for him, but she took it in stride. We said that he will always live in our hearts instead of with us.
Sad, yes. We wanted to share our love with another cutie pie in the world. That being said, it's hard to be sad for too long when our days are spent with this joy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Illness Inspiration

I have the perfect kind of cold today. Too sick to go to work, but not so sick that I am stuck in bed and totally miserable. So, it seemed like the perfect day to create a heart collage above our bed like the one I saw online that was so inspiring.
I've noticed since starting a blog years ago, we don't have many photos around our house. (Note to self: remedy that). I gathered a bunch from various drawers and albums and love how it turned out. These brought back such great memories: seeing the lowland gorillas in Cameroon, chilling in India with Dale, the family trip to Thailand a few years ago, my grandma at her kitchen table, and Dale's sweet pine cabin when he lived in Chile. My next step is to print out some more recent ones and fill in the middle with more love and memories.
An added bonus is that it detracts just a bit from the hideous a/c tube that was surprisingly installed over the summer, right above our bed! Yes, the cutie stayed home today as well. She is only mildly sick, but I always think that no teacher wants to be seeing a kid sneeze and having grody snot all over the place! She's downstairs with Momo making 'research' books while I recuperate lazily in bed.