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Portrait a Week: 12 of 52

PortraitAWeek_0012We had two photo shoots last week, and per usual, Isla came along as our little assistant. She was wonderfully patient, and enjoyed observing everything going on around her. We are so thankful that she can share these little adventures with us and is able to keep herself entertained and in such good spirits while we work. Stuffing herself with xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) may have helped with her joyful demeanor a little… perks of the assistant job!

Isla and the Cats

It has become very clear over the past few months that our baby girl is a big-time animal lover, like her mama. And I’ll be honest- I’m totally thrilled! Isla can spot a bird flying amongst the skyscrapers of Puxi from a moving taxi, she attempts to hug every neighborhood cat we pass, and she can hear the faintest of dog barks across our neighborhood from inside our house! She is definitely drawn to animals, and while she clearly loves them all, it seems that cats hold an extra special place in her heart. Perhaps it is because we have two sweet kitties that Isla been around since we brought her home from the hospital. Isla loves Mu-wuh and Fafa (Miller and Safa), and spending time with them has become part of her daily routine.

A few weeks ago, Isla toddled over to Miller and Safa’s food bowl, picked up a few pieces of kibble, and started to hand-feed the cats. We were absolutely amazed, as this is not something we do. Isla came up with the idea entirely on her own. She had observed the cats eating from their bowl, wanted a way to interact with them, and took things into her own hands- literally! Every day since, Isla has made it a habit to feed Miller and Safa whenever we visit them. She lets us know she wants to see the cats by asking, “Mu-wuh, Fafa, food, pees?”

We are truly amazed with Isla’s bravery and confidence with the cats. They are easily half her size, and cat teeth are even scary to adults, yet she does not seem phased. We are even more amazed with how well the cats have responded to Isla, and how eager they are to interact with her now. She treats them with love and tenderness, and it is incredibly heartwarming to witness her expressing compassion at a such a young age. Isla and the cats have a beautiful little friendship forming, and it is such a treat to watch them interact.

Isla talks about Mu-Wah and Fafa often, so it is clear they are never far from her mind. This evening as we put Isla to bed, I even discovered a piece of kitty kibble under her pillow…

IslaAndTheCats001IslaAndTheCats002IslaAndTheCats003IslaAndTheCats004IslaAndTheCats005Isla even offered to share her “ooh ooh” with Miller! Such a sweetie.IslaAndTheCats006IslaAndTheCats007IslaAndTheCats008IslaAndTheCats009IslaAndTheCats010IslaAndTheCats011IslaAndTheCats012IslaAndTheCats013IslaAndTheCats014IslaAndTheCats015IslaAndTheCats016IslaAndTheCats017IslaAndTheCats018IslaAndTheCats019Safa, the escape artist, trying to open the bedroom door. We have to keep it locked so that he stays put.IslaAndTheCats020IslaAndTheCats021IslaAndTheCats022IslaAndTheCats023IslaAndTheCats024IslaAndTheCats025IslaAndTheCats026IslaAndTheCats027IslaAndTheCats028Isla giving Miller a bao bao (hug).IslaAndTheCats029IslaAndTheCats030IslaAndTheCats031IslaAndTheCats032

Ow side?

Outside Blog001“Ow side?” Outside?

“Ow side, pees?” Outside, please?

Outside Blog004

Outside, please? is a question we have been hearing in growing frequency. Our Isla LOVES to be outside. All the time. If she is not outside, she is likely trying to think of a way to convince us to go outside.Outside Blog005

Outside Blog002The winter chill is slowly departing from Shanghai (hooray!), and the mosquitoes have not returned in full force just yet, so we are actually able to enjoy some time out in our backyard. Isla loves to kick the ball around with her daddy and toddle along, testing her balance on the bumpy bark chips and observing the foliage. “Bamboo!” she squeals excitedly. Isaac showed her the bamboo growing along our fence and she enthusiastically points it out whenever we are in the backyard.Outside Blog003

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We go out for walks as often as we can in the afternoons and evenings. Our strolls take us past several parks in our compound, so we usually stop for a few minutes of play. Much like the sound she makes when going down the slide, Isla calls the park, “Weee!” She asks to go to the “weee! pees” (park, please) often. While she enjoys the slide, her greatest interest at the park is the stairs. That kid could climb up and down the stairs all day.Outside Blog007Outside Blog010Outside Blog011Outside Blog012Outside Blog009Outside Blog013Outside Blog014Sometimes we leave the stroller at home and have Isla walk around the neighborhood with us. Being the curious little explorer she is, Isla always enjoys the time to roam around a bit.Outside Blog015Outside Blog016We pause for impromptu “yogo” (yoga) breaks when the mood strikes. I will post more on Isla’s recent new-found interest in yoga soon… it is insanely cute!Outside Blog017Outside Blog018Outside Blog019Warmer days are just around the corner and the flowers are starting to bloom. Hooray!Outside Blog020Stopping to smell the flowers with Daddy. “Mmmm!”Outside Blog021Outside Blog022Isla attempts to hug every cat we see. She follows after them, saying, “Bao bao! Hug!” (bao bao is Chinese for hug) Sadly, the neighborhood cats are never quite as eager as Isla is for snuggles.Outside Blog023“Where did he go?”

Outside Blog024Greeting a neighbor.

Outside Blog025Outside Blog026As it often happens in the spring time, the rains have returned with greater frequency, and that makes going outside a lot harder to do.Outside Blog027Outside Blog028So we find ways to keep ourselves entertained indoors. Like coloring. We “cuhyer” a lot!Outside Blog029Outside Blog030And more yoga.

Outside Blog031Outside Blog032And snuggles.Outside Blog033Outside Blog036

And silly time with Daddy.

Outside Blog034And lots of cuddles with Rat and Piggy, Isla’s best bedtime pals.Outside Blog035Outside Blog037Outside Blog038Outside Blog039Thankfully, it does not take much for us to find ways to have fun and giggle together! We love Isla’s playful, happy spirit. She is such a gift, and we cherish each moment with her, whether we are inside or “ow side.”Outside Blog040

Sandy Marshall - March 21, 2015 - 4:25 pm

She is a jewel! Thankful that we have the privilege and gift of being Papa and Nana in her life! <3

Portrait a Week: 11 of 52


Mr. Chen, the driver who brings Isla to school during my lunch break each day, showing me a photo he took of her with his phone. Isla absolutely adores Mr. Chen, and it is obvious the feeling is mutual! He turns to interact with her at nearly every red light, and just beams whenever he holds her.

“Mama, hode joo?”


“Mama, hode joo?”

No sweeter words have ever reached this mama’s ears. My heart melts ever time I hear her say them.

“Mama, hode joo?” Isla looks at me earnestly, brows raised, her arms outstretched. Mama, hold you?

She developed this little phrase a few months ago. When she would fuss, and it was clear that she needed a little extra love, I would ask, “Do you want me to hold you?” She would nod excitedly and reach for me. I love that she has adhered to those final two words, hold you, just as tightly as she clings to me when I scoop her up. I love that she turned those two words into her request for snuggles and comfort, and includes my name. “Mama, hode joo?” I love that she can not fully pronounce the words yet, but holds such a great understanding of their meaning. I love that she makes this request countless times a day, and how when I pick her up, she smiles, pats my arm, and lays her head on my shoulder in appreciation.

I will never tire of hearing that precious phrase. Even in my busiest, stress-filled moments. “Mama, hode joo?” I know eventually she will learn to say, “Mama, will you please hold me?” And my heart breaks to think that there will come a day where she stops asking to be held at all. So for now, I relish every snuggle and every sweet, mispronounced request.

“Mama, hode joo?”

Yes, Baby Girl, mama would love to hode joo!




Leah Ramos - March 18, 2015 - 4:37 pm

I’m developing mama tears. Sweetest words!