Monday, January 30, 2012

Video Highlights from November

Yes, I'm still really behind.  But there are no more big vacations coming up for a while, so I am going to get caught up and start posting more recent things soon!  In the meantime, I couldn't resist sharing these highlights from Sophie's seventeenth month:

Playing the harmonica with Daddy is a bedtime ritual these days.

She is more likely to say "cheers" instead of "clink" now.

One thing Sophie has learned in her Mommy and me classes is to bow when she says hello in Korean.

That's our exuberant little girl!

Reading Carl's Masquerade in our hotel room in Hong Kong

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Trip to Hawaii, Week One

Most of my regular readers probably know that we were lucky enough to spend our holidays in Hawaii with my parents and Keegan's parents.  We rented a house near Pahoa, on the Hilo side of the Big Island. The house was right on the water, and the views were stunning.  Each family had a bedroom, there was a huge living area and kitchen on the third floor, and the roof was a wonderful deck for star-gazing and ocean watching.  We spent hours up there reading in the sun and looking for sea turtles.

Grandma and Nana enjoy Christmas afternoon on the roof of the vacation house.
The view from the roof - see the rainbow in the spray from the waves?
Sophie enjoyed looking in the windows on the roof deck and waving to family members in the kitchen below.

The first week in Hawaii was pretty rainy.  Even the locals we chatted with said that our first week was the end of a particularly rainy period, even for Hilo, which is one of the rainiest places on earth.  We spent a lot of time driving around looking for places to explore again when the weather got better.  Our visit to the Volcanoes National Park was pretty miserable.  We saw steam rising from the caldera, but the weather was miserably windy and wet, so we spent most of the visit skulking around museums and gift shops.  All of the hiking trails in the caldera were closed due to hazardous gas levels.  We rallied later in the week, though, and we found some great places.  Keegan and his family got to go horseback riding in the Waipio Valley, and Mom, Dad, Sophie and I explored Hilo, which is a beautiful city with gorgeous parks and a quaint downtown.  We enjoyed the Japanese-style garden and then found a tiny beach on Coconut Island where Sophie could wade in the water.

Wading at Coconut Island
We ate a picnic lunch at the Richardson Beach Park, where we got a good view of a mongoose and later found a huge sea turtle trapped in a tidal pool just off the shore.

Up close and personal with a green sea turtle
We had a chance to go swimming in a geothermally-heated hot pond, and I tried snorkeling for the first time.

We also spent a lot of time closer to home.  We (or I should say Keegan and his mom and my mom) cooked some great meals.  We were able to get some great fresh fish - mahi mahi, tuna steaks, and a whole huge red snapper that we baked for Christmas dinner.  I enjoyed letting the others work in the kitchen while I entertained Sophie.  We got some great ingredients at the extensive Hilo Farmer's Market.  Mom particularly enjoyed the tea booth, while I was happy to buy enormous fresh avocadoes and delicious homemade pineapple salsa and pico de gallo.  The crafts available were interesting as well.  Suffice it to say that there are a lot of aging hippies and their ilk in Hilo.  We even saw a man and woman doing "street yoga" for donations on the sidewalk in downtown.  The man was on his back with his feet in the air, while the woman balanced on her belly on top of his feet.

We were lucky to find a small playground in a well-maintained, grassy park only about 1.5 miles from the house.  Sophie had a blast playing there with her parents and her grandparents.  She particularly liked to swing from a bar and to make Mommy ride down the other side of the double slide with her.

Our Christmas celebration started early, with Mom and I going for our traditional Christmas Eve Eve run.  From the time I was a youngster just starting to jog up until now, with only a few years off during our time in Korea, Mom and I have gone running on the evening of December 23 so that we can look at Christmas lights together.  We were happy to get a chance to continue the tradition this year.  Although a lot of the streets were pretty dark, we did see palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights as well as a few really pretty houses, so we were satisfied.

Christmas Eve Eve Runners!
On Christmas Eve, we got to visit the Hilo zoo.  I had been particularly excited about seeing Sophie's reaction to all the animals.  The zoo is very pretty, with a huge playground and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic, which we did.  I believe that Sophie enjoyed the big blue parrot that we saw first the most, although she also really seemed to like petting the goats at the petting zoo.

Must keep one hand on Mama at all times!
Christmas itself was quite a blowout.  The adults drew names for a Secret Santa exchange, and everyone did a great job picking out gifts for each other.  Sophie was the recipient of a stocking packed full of goodies as well as a few presents from Mommy and Daddy and two enormous bags of presents from the grandparents.
Investigating the stocking requires a lot of concentration!
Sophie amidst piles of presents with her Papa and Babak
She got present fatigue after the first huge bag in the morning, so we had a second glut of presents in the evening.
Opening presents late into the evening.  It's hard work being the adored only grandchild of four grandparents.
Good grief!  And yes, we did have to haul all of those gifts on the plane back to Korea.  But we are grateful for all of Sophie's new big girl toys.

More to come on our second week of fun.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Carry and Wear

When Sophie wants to be picked up and carried, she says "tai! tai!"  I noticed recently that when she wants to wear an article of clothing or wants her doll to wear something, she also says "tai."  I thought that was an interesting overlap of meaning since there are two distinct words for wearing and carrying in English but only one (porter) in French.  A quick check of Google Translate to shore up my faulty language memory reveals that German and Polish also cover both concepts with one word (although the situation is slightly more complicated in Polish).  When I told Keegan about my observation, his initial reaction was "Why would you ever think those two things would be covered by the same word?" but apparently Sophie hasn't yet been infected with that English-speaking mindset.  Language acquisition is fascinating!

On a further note, "tai" does triple duty in Sophie's vocabulary, also meaning "ride."  She will point to a bike or a ride-on toy and says "tai!"

Also, I think we may be at the start of a "do-it-myself" streak for Miss Sophie.  She has been wanting to put on her clothes by herself lately, but unfortunately, we look to be a long way from successful self-dressing.  The drawback of this phase is a lot of frustration and occasional tears when Mommy steps in, but the advantage is that fruitless attempts to get her head and arms into a shirt keep her entertained for several minutes at a time!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way

Sophie has really blossomed in the past couple weeks.  We spent the holidays in Hawaii: two full weeks of fun in the sun with all four grandparents.  It was wonderful!  When we came back, I could really see how different Sophie was from when we had left, even though it was only half of a month!  She's also outgrown a bunch of clothes.  Wow, I guess eighteen months is a real milestone!

One of the aspects of Sophie's development that has really exploded is her language.  She is making a lot more two-word utterances ("Bye Dada," "hot noodles," "See-see turn," "Mama sit"), and her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds.  She can call her friends by name now and can tell Keegan some things that we did during our days.  My favorite new skill, though, is that she says thank you when I give her something or do something for her.  There is nothing more rewarding than getting a "gecks" from Sophie.  During those terrible first few weeks, when my every effort at comfort and care was met with screaming, I could never imagine such sweetness.  But here it is, and I love it!

I was really proud of Sophie earlier this week when she named both the orange and blue markers in her marker box.  The grandmothers report that she was identifying her yellow cup in the bathtub last week, but the markers were the first I saw of her really getting her colors.  She's not terribly consistent yet, but I am impressed nonetheless.

Updates about Hawaii will come soon!