Last night our electricity went out. We thought that we'd run out of electricity even though the meter said we had 15 more units, which is pretty low. We thought perhaps it was a bit off and we were actually out. Here in China, you must prepay for your electricity and when you get low, you go buy more before you actually run out. That is the idea anyway. As Westerners, sometimes you forget to check such things. Actually we'd planned on putting more money on all our utilities next week shortly before the Chinese New Year holiday arrived. We didn't want to be without water or electricity and have the office closed for a week or two. Unfortunately it didn't wait that long so we were without power all evening, until the office opened this morning. At first, the girls said "Can we just go to bed? There's nothing to do with no electricity!" The only light we had was from several candles I'd lighted. We keep plenty of candles and a lighter around the house cause electric outages are quite common here in China. It had been quite a long time since we'd had to put up with this inconvenience. Unlike when we were in Dalian where it was quite a common occurrence; often happening several times per week for 2-8 hours each time! Anyway, instead of going to bed, the girls decided they could play some card games by candlelight. This morning, after putting more money on our electric card and taking it home to recharge the electric, we still did not have electricity! What is the deal I thought? We called someone to come fix it and I then headed to work with all the kids in the cart. On the way, Shawna asked me to stop the cart as Elise had something important to tell me. A confession then came forth that she knew exactly what happened to the electric and why it didn't work. She'd (yes, the oldest who is 12 years old and supposed to be setting the example for the younger ones--who also broke a window out of the back of the cart just the previous day--she's kinda having a bad week you'd say!) decided to see what would happen if you stuck a bobby pin in the socket in the bathroom! She said it was precisely when the electric went out and sparks shot out of the plug and nearly scared the pee out of her! She quickly found out that it is not a good idea! I was amazed that she wasn't shocked or seriously hurt and warned her that she is probably lucky to be alive! She told me that she wasn't actually touching it, which is why she didn't get shocked. She'd stuck it in the hairbrush bristles and used the hairbrush to shove it in the socket. After a talk with her, she said she was glad she told me as she was feeling pretty bad about what happened. I told her I hoped she'd learned something valuable about this lesson and she assured me she did! I'm just so glad that she wasn't hurt!! Children! After telling one of my coworkers the story, she was laughing so hard she nearly fell out of her chair and then went on to tell me a story about her childhood that was also quite funny but scary. I'm so glad we have someone who watches over us, aren't you?!!
Aren't these the prettiest girls you've ever seen! Last weekend, the foster home had a party for all their Chinese sponsors. For all those who give donations to help with the childrens' daily basic needs, surgeries, diapers, and formula. All the children in the foster home,those in foster care, and the other New Day homes, were brought together to put on a performance for the sponsors. So the girls of the Forever Home got all dressed up to attend the special event. It was a fun time and they enjoyed the extra attention and special treats at the party.
This morning Elizabeth had another birthday party that the foster home gave her where she had attended preschool until a few weeks ago. Hannah also goes there for a few hours each morning and obviously will continue for some time given her maturity level. Yesterday after we talked about attending the party, she told Elise that she would now be 10 years old! Wow, that was one short year! She was just 9 years old for only about a week! I had to explain to her that just because she had another party didn't make her another year older; she'd have to wait until next year to be 10 years old. Isn't it funny how kids think?! They have little concept of time! Anyway, the foster home has birthday celebrations once per month and this month 7 kids, including Elizabeth, had birthdays. In China, it is traditional for the birthday person to cut and serve their own birthday cake. As you can see, she also got to help light the candles. Elizabeth has now outgrown preschool, which is why she is no longer going. Now she studies with in the big home school program and classroom with Shawna and Elise!
On Sundays, after our morning "meeting," many of us all go to lunch together at a local restaurant. This was a new fancy restaurant in our subdivision we'd never tried before so everyone was anxious to give it a try. It was very nice, but a bit expensive, actually twice the cost of our typical village type restaurants that most foreigners would feel uncomfortable eating in. This restaurant was new, clean, had well dressed waiters and waitresses, and the food was good too. After a short while, some nice music began to play that Hannah couldn't help but feel like dancing to. She really enjoys music, which is quite evident in this video. She thought it was such great music that everyone else needed to dance along too! We thought it was cute and thought you all might enjoy seeing it.
Today, Elizabeth turned 9 years old! Ever since we got to foster Elizabeth 6 months ago, she has asked when her birthday was. In the beginning, for weeks she'd say "My birthday is tomorrow!" I'd have to say, "NO, it's not tomorrow, but a long time off yet." With no concept of time, it took awhile for her to realize it was not anytime soon! Not that she ever forgot, but she finally got to the point where she didn't ask every day! Since she has been studying Kindergarten, she has now gained a much better concept of time. When her birthday was a month away, she began to get excited and started to count down the days! She'd say, "Only 25 more days and it'll be my birthday!" and so on, and so on. Well...the day finally came and we had a birthday celebration inviting some of our friends to join in the celebration! Congratulations Elizabeth, now you only have 364 days until your next birthday!!
Ever since Hannah came, she has been our little helper. She wants to help do everything around the house. If she hears bowls or dishes rattling in the kitchen, no mater what time of day, she comes running thinking it is time to set the table! She also wants to help cook in the kitchen and we let her as much as possible, but when it is time to turn the heat on--out she is sent. Hannah desires to help so much that I'm concerned that she might pull a pan of hot oil or water off the stove. It's easy to forget sometimes that although she is nearly 8 years old, she is only 3 emotionally and very much does and acts as a 3 year old. Anyway, she seems fine with that and I certainly don't want her to be burned or get hurt! It's funny though, I let her set the table and she does well with that, but I quickly learned you don't give her food to take to the table or she will either sample it on the way or shortly after she puts it on the table! So for now, all the food stays in the kitchen until dinner is served and I call everyone!!
Here in China, milk is usually drunk from convenient individual bags. No need to dirty a glass! You don't buy milk by the gallon here, it is purchased by the case in bags and doesn't require refrigeration! I know, it is weird and when we first came we wondered how safe it was to drink--not being refrigerated and all. Guess it is kind of like canned milk that is processed to not need refrigeration. Anyway, from the time kids are very young here, they learn to drink from these bags of milk and are quite good at it! I know it is an unusual thing for Westerners, so when I saw all the girls sitting around drinking from their bags one afternoon, I thought you might enjoy a picture! With 4 girls in the house who love milk, we go through a lot of milk each week. I buy 2 cases each (containing 20 bags each) of white whole milk and strawberry milk each week, believe it or not! That's 80 bags of milk a week! Not to mention yogurt, it's also a big thing here in China, and our girls all love it as well. Guess they are growing girls, which is evident by the fact that they quickly outgrow their clothing! I know...enjoy it while we can, cause they grow up so fast!
Is there anything sweeter than a girl and her dolly?!! Good dollies aren't easy to find here. If you do find one, like Elizabeth's dolly, the quality tends to not be too good and the arms and legs quickly go missing. Not to worry, Elizabeth also has a new one on the way from one of her sponsors for her birthday on Monday. Shhh, don't tell her! We finally found one for Hannah (at a different place!) and hope it is a bit better quality. This one has a nice little voice box that speaks when you squeeze it:) A popular feature with the older kids, not! She loves it and quickly took to it. Only problem was,it didn't come with a bottle or pacifier, which we couldn't even buy separately! Guess what the first thing is she asked for? "Where is the milk to feed her? Give me some milk to feed her." She had to settle for a small bowl and spoon to feed her that way until we find one! In the meantime, she is enjoying it anyway. She didn't want to part with her dolly when it was time to leave for work and school this morning. I had to take it from her several times, only to have her go get it again, and tell her she could not come with us! I'm so glad she is enjoying it!
Although we didn't tell the kids, for 6 months now we've wanted to get a Wii for the family. We originally planned to get one from the states and have it brought over since quality of things are generally much better in the states. However, after finding out that if you purchased one there, the Chinese Wii games would not work on them, but if we bought one here, they had lots of games and they were relatively inexpensive after you bought the system. Since we live here full-time, we decided it was a much better idea to go that route. So....we saved up enough to buy it and for Christmas we surprised the kids with it. They were delighted and we've all had fun enjoying the games since. It's great because even the younger kids can play some of the games too! It's also something we can enjoy doing together as a family. Some of our girls are quite competitive! Even Hannah, who has some coordination issues, can easily play some of the games.
Elizabeth is always designing things and she is very creative! In this picture she was using some connective type blocks to build and came up with this design. She is also one of those type kids that feel like they have to take everything apart just to see how it works! However, putting it back together again never seems to happen! Others have also remarked that she is very good at designing things and think she'd make a good engineer someday. Who knows, perhaps she will!
This week Hannah's vision was tested by an eye doctor visiting from the states. We'd previously noticed issues with her eyes such as excessive blinking, occasionally crossing her eyes, and even seeing her close them for short periods of time like they hurt or bothered her. It was no surprise that they determined that she did indeed need glasses as she is far sighted. Currently she is practicing wearing sunglasses for short periods to get her used to the real thing. When she first came, she would rip your glasses right off your head in a split second without even time to react! Although she is much better now at resisting that temptation, it does still happen on occasion. We felt it best to do a little practice for a while! She seems to enjoy wearing her sunglasses and hope that she'll do okay with the real ones once we get them. I'm recommending very, very sturdy ones!!
She also saw a speech therapist who determined she needs some work in that area as well. No surprise to us in that area either! It was quite helpful to know exactly what areas of speech she needed help in and we have already begun to work on those.
Yesterday our two adopted Chinese daughters, Shawna and Elise, were asked to do some amateur modeling. My friend and coworker, Carrie Mckean, has begun an apron business, Scarlet Threads, here in the village last fall. She recently decided to add some matching childrens' aprons to her website. She asked our two daughters, both 12, to help model them. They were excited at the opportunity and were happy to oblige. It was a fun experience for them and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Carrie said they really got into it after awhile--even telling them how they could pose for more pictures! I'm glad they were able to have such an enjoyable time and also help out a friend in the process!
We, in conjunction with New Day, are beginning a home for older orphan girls while they wait to be adopted or to live with a family (us) if they are never adopted. We've had Elizabeth, a heart patient and 9 years old, since last July. Although we were expecting our next 2 children in about 3 months, well.....as things typically go here, it has happened much faster than previously expected! We received our second child, Hannah, 10 days ago!! Hannah was born on April 6, 2002 (currently 7 years old). She was born with a severe heart disease (TOF). She was abandoned on March 4, 2009 and has already had her first heart surgery in late August. Hanna was very malnourished when she arrived at the healing home. Although she is 7 years old, she is very delayed and found to be functioning on a 3 year old level. She has many issues to work through for such a little girl—thank God that his grace is sufficient for whatever is needed!! Hannah will also require a second heart surgery very soon to completely repair her heart condition. She is currently scheduled to go in for testing in preparation of that surgery at the end of February. It will probably require that I stay in the hospital with her for about 10 days while she recovers enough for her to return home. We currently expect to be receiving Catherine, 9 years old, in about 2 months, that is if it continues to go according to the plan! She has had her heart surgery this past month and is now recovering. She will also require a second heart surgery in about a year.
We are the Rippee family! We manage and are house parents in a home for older orphaned girls in China. It's called the Forever Home, and it is a project of New Day Foster Home. Like all foreign workers at NDFH, we receive no salary for our work, so if you would like to support our family's living expenses, please click the button below to donate through PayPal. Donations are tax-deductible. To learn more about the Forever Home and ways you can directly support this work, please visit New Day Foster Home's website.
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Elise was adopted at the age of 3 years old as a special needs child by Randy and Rita Rippee, managers and house parents of this Forever Home. Elise is home- schooled and really loves music, cooking, arts and crafts, and enjoys being the big, older sister to the Forever Home girls.
Shawna was adopted at the age of 1 year old as a special needs child by Randy and Rita Rippee, managers and house parents of this Forever Home. Shawna is home-schooled and is good at piano, arts and crafts, and thoroughly enjoys playing with the Forever Home girls.
Elizabeth was adopted at the age of 10 years old as a special needs child by Randy and Rita Rippee, managers and house parents of this Forever Home. Elizabeth is home-schooled and loves the outdoors, computers, bike riding, and crafts.
THE FOREVER HOME GIRLS
Click on the pictures below to find out more about our Forever Home girls.
We provide this information to give our sponsors and supporters a general idea of the challenges our children face. For prospective adoptive parents, the information on the blog is not intended to be a substitute for a complete and up-to-date referral packet from your adoption agency. Please keep in mind that in our blog posts, we always try to focus on a child's strengths, accomplishments and positive developments, not in an attempt to gloss-over their often serious medical conditions, but in an effort to share a glimpse of their precious personalities.