Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boxes of Love

Sophie is a lucky girl. In a span of two days, she got not one, but two big birthday presents from home. I probably should have waited till her actual birthday to let her have a go at them but we have so few toys here with us that I thought it would be nice for her to get a preview of things to come. Birthday presents have actually been trickling in for weeks now-- Dot, Jay, and Ruby were the first, then my best friend, Aileen, then Dan, Wendy, and the kids, and then Jude's parents. But those came all nicely wrapped up so I thought to save them for her birthday itself.

So the first box was from my family filled with presents for Sophie and also goodies for us (sadly, we're missing the packet of bah kwa-- pork jerky-- that the nice folks at customs and immigration apparently removed). There's an American Girl doll that my sister, Sherri lovingly carted from NY to Singapore and then packed to have it shipped all the way back here. I'm deathly afraid of dolls-- especially dolls whose eyes blink-- and my hands literally started trembling when I reached into the box for it. But for Sophie, I'd do anything, I guess. My problem now is that she loves the doll so much that she's already mussed up its hair, which means I might actually have to brush it- I'm not sure if that's something I can bring myself to do... Then there was a gorgeous scrapbook-worthy birthday card from both aunts- all pretty and happy :) Two lovely dresses (one of which Sophie's going to be wearing at her birthday party) and an ang-pow gift from Grandpa & Grandma rounded off the bounty for the soon-to-be birthday girl.

And yesterday, another big box arrived, this time from Jude's brother, Joe, his wife, Carol, and darlings Amelia and Aiden. We've been meaning to get Sophie a little play table for a while and their gift was just perfect. Bright and happy colours with just enough trinkets to engage her without being too overwhelming. They also got her an outfit which may say 2T but I have a feeling Sophie's going to grow into fast :) And Amelia, a true budding artist at 6 years old, made her cousin a card which just shouted love all over- too adorable!

Like I said, Sophie's a lucky girl- so much love from so many people, and her birthday's still 10 days away!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We interrupt this lunch...



...to bring you an impromptu dance party! Sophie had a song in her heart and she needed to dance it out :)

And many thanks to our friends in Camera Obscura for providing back-up!

Friday, July 23, 2010

One of those days

I had a hard time dropping Sophie off at daycare today. I'm not sure why. Today was no different from all the other days. But there was something in the look on her face when I turned around to leave- she wasn't crying or anything, but there was a wistfulness, like she didn't want me to leave but knew she had no choice. And she was still looking even after I closed the door behind me and saw her through the glass panel. I had to sit in the car for a while before driving off- my heart was literally clenching and there was a real ache. I felt terrible.

We talked about whether or not we would have Sophie in daycare here in California, that maybe I could take care of her and work on my dissertation at the same time. But it would have been too hard- she needs too much attention these days and there's no way I'd be able to get enough analysis and writing done to graduate in December if we didn't. And so on days she's with the nanny, I haul myself up to Stanford and spend the day writing. On the days she's with me, I play stay-at-home mom and give her all the attention she needs- I schlep her everywhere to get things done, go to the park, the library, the store, we play, we cuddle, we read, we do lunch dates, and we dance and sing to whatever happens to be playing on my iTunes- Belle & Sebastian one day, Dick van Dyke singing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" on another.

There will come a time soon when Jude and I will both be working full-time and Sophie will have to be in someone else's care all day, 5 days a week. People do it all the time and I know she will be fine. But if I'm feeling guilty now for having her in daycare just 3 times a week, I can't imagine how I'd feel if I can only see her for a couple of hours everyday before bedtime. It's going to suck.

Today, I'm going to leave Stanford early and spend the afternoon with Sophie at the park. The dissertation can wait a couple of hours...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

5 random things


Who says babies/girls can't look fabulous in black? (Ok, so it's technically not black, but you get my drift...)

Sophie had three helpings of beef porridge for lunch today.

Our arms and the furniture are in no hurry for the rest of her teeth to come out.

I haven't had a cup of caffeinated coffee since New Year's Day 2009.

I can't think of anything that makes me happier right now than looking at this photo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Counting down three weeks

So we spent the evening at Las Palmas Park in Sunnyvale where we'll be having Sophie's first birthday party. It's a gorgeous park- towering palm trees, large ponds, rolling fields, and awesome play structures for kids. We reserved a picnic area big enough for 40 people although it's probably going to be closer to 25, if not less.


I ordered her a personalized birthday banner from Etsy (I thought it'll be nice to start a tradition of having something special that we'll be able to use again and again for her many birthdays to come) and we're probably going to get two dozen balloons and maybe a few bottles of bubbles (who doesn't love blowing bubbles?) so it'll be fun and festive. We've sent the invites out and are just waiting for people to RSVP so we know how many cupcakes to order. I decided to go with Sprinkles in the end mainly because I really, really love their red velvet cupcake AND they actually do a vegan version of it so I can get one for Sophie too! It would not be nice if the birthday girl didn't get a yummy Sprinkles cupcake on her birthday...

So there- bubbles, balloons, and cupcakes. A first birthday. In three weeks. Oh goody goody... :)

A song for Sophie


We will fly way up high
Where the cold wind blows
Or in the sun, laughing and having fun
With the people that she knows
And if the situation should keep us separated
You know the world won't fall apart
And you will free the beautiful bird
That's caught inside your heart

Can't you hear her?
Oh she cries so loud
Casts her wild note
Over water and cloud

That's the way it's gonna be, little darlin'
We'll be riding on the horses, yeah
Way up in the sky, little darlin'
And if you fall I'll pick you up, pick you up

You will grow, and until you go
I'll be right there by your side
And even then, whisper the wind
And she will carry up your ride
I hear all the people of the world
In a little bird's lonely cry
See them trying every way they know how
To make their spirits fly

Can't you see him?
He's down on the ground
He has a broken wing
Looking all around

That's the way it's gonna be, little darlin'
You'll be riding on the horses, yeah
Way up in the sky, little darlin'
And if you fall I'll pick you up, pick you up

Don't worry 'bout a thing little girl
Because I was young myself not so long ago
And when I was young, when I was young
And when I was young, oh I was a wild, wild one.

-Rickie Lee Jones, "The Horses"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

There's no real point to this post


Pescadero Beach
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
Once in a while, I see a toddler or an older kid and I wonder how Sophie will be at that age. Like this morning at Philz where I saw a little girl who's probably about three. She even looked like Sophie- round face, bright eyes, wide smile, pudgy hands... :) I smiled at her (and she gave me a goofy grin in return) and I found myself missing Sophie a whole ton even though I had just dropped her off at daycare 10 minutes before. The little girl really reminded me of her. And she was chatty too, like how I think Sophie's going to be when she grows up, one of those little girls who will talk her parents heads off about everything and anything, from the color of her socks to why she can't eat sand. She already jabbers on and on all the time- sometimes I wonder what kind of internal narrative is playing in her head. I can't wait for the day when she can string a coherent sentence together (although I'm sure I'll regret that sentiment when she's four and chatting non-stop on a long road trip about why chickens only have two legs...)

The little girl at Philz was really affectionate with her parents too, something we're really appreciating with Sophie right now. I'm not sure if it's a developmental thing or a function of spending so much time with just the two of us. On weekend mornings when we have no where to rush to, we loll around in bed snuggling, tickling her, smothering her with kisses, talking with her about what we're going to do the rest of the day; some times, instead of playing with her toys, she'd rather climb into our laps and cuddle. Just cuddle. And every morning, when I pick her out of her crib when she wakes up, I get a nice nuzzle into the cradle of my neck while I inhale the smell of pure Sophieness. I hope she never outgrows this-- at least for a while-- because I will miss it so much.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't ask me where she learned to be such a show-off

I think I'm going to always be this hysterical at each of Sophie's milestones; I was when she first sat up on her own, first used her pincer grasp properly, first started crawling, and first stood up. And this morning, when she showed us that her ability to stand unassisted is officially a conscious and repeatable skill (as opposed to a "hmm... what would happen if I just did this?" fluke), I was squealing like a harpy. Again. Trust me, it'll happen again when she starts walking, at her first word, on her first day of school, her first pimple- I could go on...

And where did she learn to be such a show-off? I will never know. It's like she thrives on the attention and applause. Like Tinkerbell- "Clap! Clap if you believe!"

Monday, July 05, 2010

A break from tradition

1. Touching sand for the first time, 2. Pescadero Beach, 3. Burying Sophie's leg, 4. Pffft...

In years past, Jude and I have typically spent 4th July quietly, usually with a couple of grilled hot-dogs each watching the Coney Island hot-dog eating competition on TV (yes, I know, very meta...) I don't really remember how we spent last 4th July specifically but I do remember watching fireworks at night at a park in Ann Arbor and how Sophie kicked me furiously right around the inside of my belly-button during a string of especially loud explosions. She didn't get to see fireworks for herself this year (the Santa Clara fireworks extravaganza-- which we could see and hear *very* clearly from our apartment-- was way past her bedtime) but we did spend it in a very special part of the state (actually, a very special part of the country), Pescadero Beach, which is about an hour's drive from us. After that weekend in Monterey, we knew we wanted to revisit Highway 1 and one of the beaches we had passed along the way home.

Pescadero did not disappoint- dramatic bluffs on one end and a gorgeous beach on the other. Northern Californian beaches aren't really swimming beaches, unless you're very brave and/or have a wet suit so we mostly sat on the warm sand, squishing it between our toes, and watched Sophie encounter sand for the first time. We knew she would try to eat it and for a while, I hovered around her, valiantly swiping her hands clean every time she grabbed a fistful. After 10 minutes though, I gave up. Instead of me protecting her all the time, she's just going to have to learn on her own that somethings don't taste good and that she shouldn't put them in her mouth. And she did. There were a couple more mouthfuls of pure sand which she sputtered out, and then no more. She decided that there were more pleasant and palatable ways to spend her time. Atta girl!

It was wonderful to just sit on the warm sand and watch Sophie explore this new sensory experience- feeling the grainy warm sand between her toes (which really perplexed her), crawling on sand (which I imagine is hard to do); trying to hold the sand in her hands only to have it fall through her fingers; excavating her leg after we "buried" it, etc. These are all new experiences being seared into her memory. I sometimes forget that we have the power to create her memories. We are the ones who will influence how, what, when she learns what she will learn, see what she will see, do what she will do. And that's a really profound feeling.

Dear Sophie, Mama and Dada have so many more exciting experiences we want to share with you. Are you ready? :)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

I knew there was a reason why we take so many high-resolution photos

I was supposed to spend the morning finishing up data analysis for my dissertation. What did I end up doing instead? Designing Sophie's first birthday invitation.

I got carried away... (thanks, tinyprints!)

1. one, 2. two, 3. three, 4. four, 5. five, 6. six, 7. seven, 8. eight, 9. nine

Thursday, July 01, 2010

And so the birthday prep begins...

So in a little over a month, Sophie's going to turn one. Unbelievable. 12 whole months. 365 days. And we survived it. People say a child's first birthday celebration is as much for the parents-- to celebrate them making it through the first year!-- as much as it is for the kid. I don't know about that, but we do want to make it special whatever the case may be. Since we don't have family here, Sophie's party will be an intimate affair, with our close friends here and their children. Which might work out better since I'm not sure how Sophie will take to a big do. I want to make this first celebration of life fun, significant, and memorable without being big, loud, and elaborate (we'll save that for her 5th birthday when I'm sure she'll ask for ponies, a petting zoo, and the cast of Sesame Street...) I've heard too many horror stories of large birthday parties that scare and over-stimulate children who then spend the entire party either hiding in their rooms, clinging onto to Mom/Dad, or screaming their heads off in the corner somewhere. I just want Sophie to be happy and comfortable, and a small party may work out best.

We briefly contemplated a play gym sort of place but for the number of people we're thinking of inviting, it doesn't quite make sense; plus for a first birthday, I was hoping for something a little less structured. Then there was talk of a children's museum but with Sophie being so young, that doesn't make sense either. Right now, our top choice is Ortega Park in Sunnyvale. It has large open spaces for the kids to run (or crawl) about, a water structure for splashing around in, and several play structures. Sophie loves being outdoors so she'll be in her comfort zone, the adults won't feel awkward being confined in a small space with furniture a quarter their size, and everyone gets to enjoy the gorgeous Californian weather (we hope). We'll either sprawl out over several picnic blankets or set up the party on the park benches. I'm thinking finger-food all round (so Sophie can have some too!), cupcakes from Sprinkles or Kara's for everyone, and a special vegan cupcake for Sophie (no one wants a hivey, itchy birthday girl...). We might even throw in a piñata for good measure!

What I'm most excited about though is a time-capsule I'm preparing for the occasion. It's something I've always known I wanted to do. I figure, you can buy toys, books and clothes, but you can't buy memories. I'll let our guests decide if they want to bring something to put in it, but mostly, it's for us to her. It'll be something unique and special for her to open on her 18th birthday. It'll have things that were important to her in her first year, things that are popular for 18-year old girls right now, and keepsakes from us, close friends, and family to the 18-year old her. Thanks to suggestions after a Facebook post and just things we've been setting aside, it looks like the time capsule will contain (for now):
1) the pink and blue blanket she was first wrapped in at the hospital (was I meant to return it?)
2) a cap the nurses gave her that she then wore home
3) her first cast
4) her first club foot shoe
5) photos of memorable events in her first year
6) the daily record she got from her first day at daycare
7) her first piece of artwork
8) a print of her feet that we did at mommy group (I've already framed a print of her hands for Jude for Fathers' Day)
9) the label off her container of puffs- sometimes, I think she loves those things more than she loves me (I contemplated keeping the puffs themselves but I don't think organic, non-artificially flavored puffs are made to last 17 years)
10) her crazy star toy from her play gym that she used to love so much but has since outgrown
11) any one of her bedtime books (that's if she'll part with them)
12) (from Cari) one of our favorite outfits to dress her in (so the 18-year old her can be surprised that something so small actually fit her once)
13) (from Srah) A mix-CD with all the popular music of today (which she will just laugh at, and probably not even own a CD player so maybe mp3 files on a USB drive instead...)
14) a copy of Twilight (for some comparison to whatever it is that will be driving teenage girls crazy in 2027)
15) (from Aileen) a copy of the New York Times from Aug 8 2009, although Sophie's going to have to settle for a digital copy of the front page from that day. This was one of the things I really wanted Jude to grab the day of Sophie's birth but in my drugged-up, blissed-out haze, asking my husband to leave my side just to buy the newspapers was probably the last thing on my mind.
16) who knows what form this blog will take in a decade and a half so I'll probably print out at least her birth story for posterity.
17) a note from the both of us predicting the kind of girl she'll be at 18

We'd love any other suggestions people might have, and for those of you who want to add to the capsule-- you know who you are!-- let us know. I'll probably only put everything together when we return to Ann Arbor in September so you have time before I seal the darn thing up for the next 17 years! :)