We received new information this morning from the hospital that Hannah's surgery will not be scheduled until after the May holiday which is May1st-3rd. Unfortunately that puts her being in the hospital for at least a whole week before she even has her surgery. We will let you know when it is scheduled. They told us that there were a couple of young babies who's cases were more urgent so they will go first. We are still hopeful that she will need to stay only 7 days after her surgery before returning home. When asked if our family could visit her, we were reminded of the rules that stated NO visitors allowed. The head nurse did say they might make an exception for me, one person, to visit after 4pm, but that is not guaranteed we will be able to get past the guards. They advised that we talk to her on the phone. They also reminded our medical staff that they were already making an exception of allowing an adult to stay with her. They stated she was way past the age where they allowed adults to stay with the children. We (New Day Foster Home) do have special favor with them and that is why they allowed it. However, we all know that although miss Hannah is 8, she is emotionally only 3 1/2 or 4 years old. Regardless, we are fortunate they've allowed us favor in that area as they aren't required to do that. We talked to Hannah again last night on the phone and she was especially excited to be able to talk with dad this time. She insisted again that we sing some of her favorite nursery rhymes to her on the phone! She is so cute and we really miss her so. It is very quiet around the house without her! Just doesn't seem right! Jenna has also been quite easily upset since Hannah has gone to the hospital. Although we've told her that she is in the hospital and will be back in a while, she has only been with us less than a month now. We are still building up that trust that says what I say is exactly what I mean. It takes time to build that up. Jenna has been especially irritable since. No telling what is going through her little mind. She may be thinking that she just came to this place she likes and is beginning to feel like home. Now someone leaves and she may be wondering if she is next. She has been moved multiple times and so it is understandable that she may think that. Who knows what she may be thinking? All she knows is things have changed, her roommate/playmate has left and she doesn't know if they're coming back for sure. All we can do is love and reassure her until Hannah's return. Come home soon Hannah!!
Although Shawna doesn't cook often, she does enjoy helping me out in the kitchen on occasion. I had to laugh when she said she wanted to help me stir the pot, but had to go get her stool first. At 12 years old, she is still quite small. It has been obvious for years that she is just going to be petite. She really hates that word too! Elizabeth looks on to make sure Shawna is doing it right!
Although many of you have already received an email from us stating that Hannah was taken in to the hospital today in preparation for her 2nd heart surgery, I know that some of you may not know it. She has been waiting for an open bed for more than a month now. When we finally got the call this morning and I went to get her out of preschool, I told her she was going to the hospital now. Her first question was "Are you going with me, mom?" It was hard for me to tell her that I simply couldn't go. Although I'd love to, it just isn't possible since I am a foreigner and combined with the fact that I am not fluent in Chinese. It just wasn't going to happen. She was clearly upset and didn't want to go. I'm not sure if it was merely because I wasn't going or because she remembered it was some place that caused her pain and she didn't want to go back. It may have been a combination of the two, I don't know. Her first heart surgery was just over 6-7 months ago, so I'm sure she remembers. We don't yet know when her surgery will be scheduled, probably in a few days. I hope it is sooner than later so she doesn't have to stay in the hospital for long. The normal recovery period for heart surgery is a 7-10 day hospital stay. We hope it is 7 days--so keep that whole situation lifted up. She is having surgery for TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot). It is a serious heart surgery. I will get to go to the hospital with our director when Hannah has her heart surgery. I look forward to seeing her before and reassuring her after-wards in the recovery room. I also hope to be able to visit her at least once while she is in the hospital recovering. Although our entire family was looking forward to going to see her in the hospital, we've been told that policy usually forbids it and this hospital is particularly strict on such matters. Shawna has already suggested we buy her a gift and take when we see her. She's only been gone a few hours, but we already miss her!! Home just isn't the same without miss Hannah!! We did get a chance to talk to her on the phone this afternoon. It was good to talk to her. She kept saying she loved me and then kept saying "mom, happy!" She wanted me to sing "If you're happy and you know it song." It's one of her favorites. So I ended up singing it to her 2-3 times before we got off the phone. After talking some time, I asked her to give the phone back to aiyi (auntie). I must have asked her 5 times, then Elise and Shawna also asked her to before she finally gave it back. I guess she just wanted to continue talking. We all miss her already! We also look forward to seeing the improvement in her overall health once she has recovered. We expect to see her blossom!! Isn't this such a beautiful picture of Hannah?!! This is what she dressed up in the other day when we went on the trip to the Botanical Gardens. She looks so grown up and prim and proper! She's really turning out to be such a beautiful girl inside and out!!
I forgot to mention that while we were there, they had coconuts for sale. The girls had to try one, and while most of them thought it was okay, you can see from Hannah's reaction that she thought coconut juice was simply awful! Funny thing is, although she clearly didn't enjoy it, she'd go back again, time after time, when it was her turn for a share. Each time, her reaction was the same--yuck!! After drinking the juice, we took it home to crack it open and try some of the coconut meat. Jenna especially liked it and kept coming back for more! Also in one of the pictures in part 1, the whole Forever Home gang (with the exception of dad who had to work) is shown. The Chinese lady, Lois, is the teacher we've hired to help us work with and teach the Forever Home girls.
Last Thursday, the Forever Home gang was privileged to go on an outing to the Botanical Gardens in Beijing with the Foster Home. So a group of 30 kids accompanied by 30 adults, loaded on a chartered bus for an hour and a half one-way bus ride to north Beijing. Bet you wish you could have been on that bus with us, huh?! The constant sounds of laughter, crying, the scent of at least one child clearly needing their diapers changed, and usually at least one that gets car sick and seems to throw up one or more times:) This was the first time since I've been on these field trips that someone didn't get sick (that I know of) at least once! Hey, it was a good trip! You don't know what you're missing! Although it was raining, we were able to visit one of their large, terrarium green houses filled with exciting flowers and plants to explore. After much oooing and aaawing we stopped to enjoy lunch. This was no regular lunch, but MCDONALD'S!! Now, I know many of you guys there in the states don't get excited about McDonald's. However, let me tell you...when you've been living in China for some time, and rarely ever get to eat a burger and fries, well.........McDonald's is simply heavenly--a rare treat!! I have to wonder which was truly the best treat of all--getting to eat McDonald's or visiting the Botanical Gardens! Let's just say, it's a good thing we didn't have to choose! Since some individuals from our group went to get McDonald's while we waited at the Gardens, they'd brought along some treats for hungry kids to enjoy while waiting. Jenna decided to swallow a cherry tomato whole and it lodged in her throat choking her scaring the bejeebers out of me! It was clear she was choking and while she was gagging trying to get it up, all the first aid classes I'd ever had began to run through my mind! When it became obvious she wasn't getting it up on her own, she wasn't breathing and tears began to stream down her face combined with a look of panic, I promptly threw her over my knees ready to give her some back blows before she passed out on me. I think I only gave her one blow when the tomato came flying out of her mouth! Whew, what a relief for both of us!! Ellie, one of our foster home nurses, was sitting at the table directly behind us, who apparently saw it all. She said "Wow, that was really scary!" I whole heartedly agreed!! So did Jenna, I'm sure! Then I have to tell you the funny thing that happened only a minute or so after the tomato was dislodged. Another foster home staff, the physical therapist, was sitting at our table and also saw the whole incident. Just literally about a minute after choking on a tomato, she was already eying the other tomatoes on the table wanting more! Amazing!! He couldn't believe it! Kids!! Anyway, other than the choking incident, we all had a great time. I don't know who was more tired, the adults or the kids. You can see from the picture that Jenna was clearly bushed and fell asleep on the ride home. What a day! A day we will all remember for several reasons.
Recently, someone donated a piano to the Forever Home. They even offered to come out to give the girls lessons. The piano arrived a couple of weeks ago and was placed in the school room at New Day. What a beautiful piano it is! It is Emerald green and has a see-through glass front allowing you to see the keys that are pressed. Last Wednesday they brought out a small group of volunteers to help with the piano lessons and a fun-filled time of singing nursery rhymes for the younger kids of the foster home preschool class. After a time of singing nursery rhymes the younger kids returned to their class, and then the older girls got their turns at learning piano. Hannah was especially excited and loved the piano. She could hardly contain herself! Elizabeth also enjoyed it, but Jenna not as much. She has a shorter attention span and seemed to get bored pretty quickly. If memory serves me right, their teachers were from a musical school in Beijing and were putting on a concert for their students in May. They asked Elizabeth and a couple of others to prepare a song to sing and perform. We all decided that Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was a good song so she has been practicing it with the actions since her last class. She seems a bit embarrassed to do it so we are hoping that she will follow through doing it on stage with all those faces staring back at her! I guess we'll see in mid-May, huh?! In the meantime, the girls will continue to have piano lessons every 2 weeks.
We all seem to love donuts. It is one of the things we really miss from the states. They do not have them here and if you do find something that looks like a donut, well...it ain't!! Tastes nothing like 'em, only looks like 'em! We've made them periodically at times. If you've ever made them, you know how much work they are, so we never made them very often. We usually just don't have that much time to donate to such things these days. But wait!! I've wished I had a bread maker here for years and have looked for them every time I got the chance. I finally found one about a month ago, but was terribly expense. I didn't get it. I happened to mention it to our Chinese friends and she said she bet she could find one on the internet. She looked and found one about a third of the price as I'd seen at the department store in Beijing. We ordered it and we love it! We knew it'd be worth it's weight in gold since our family now goes through about a loaf of bread a day or more if we eat sandwiches! When we go to the grocery store and buy 10-12 loaves at a time, we are quite the novelty and people really stare wondering what we could be doing with all that bread!! We are putting it in the freezer and repeating the process in about 2 weeks. Now we make our own bread instead! Randy happened across a recipe for donuts with great reviews. We tried it and he's decided we need to make it an every Saturday morning tradition!! I just put in the ingredients the night before and set the timer and the dough is all ready when I get up. We cut them and let them rise and cook them. As it turns out, all the kids love them and they agree with Randy about making it an every Saturday morning tradition!
I have to tell you this funny story. I'm sure you'll get a laugh out of it too. Hannah's motor skills just keep improving. Perhaps she is gaining too much confidence in her new found motor skills! Last Saturday, we took all the girls to the square, a large gathering place in the apartment complex where the kids can play and socialize. We'd just bought her and Jenna a new riding toy. We'd told her and Jenna that they weren't allowed to ride them down the ramps just yet. I think they, her and Jenna, may have had a conspiracy going. Although she knew she wasn't supposed to, Hannah was apparently at one ramp or made her way there while we were preoccupied with Jenna, who had kept waving her arm bye bye trying to get me to do the same. I knew if I waved back, she'd take it as permission to go down that ramp! Of course, I wouldn't do it. Meanwhile, Hannah is at the other ramp, which we didn't realize. She decided she'd ride it down the ramp and wound up face first in the bushes when she came to an abrupt stop on a curb not far from the bottom of the ramp! Except for some cuts and scrapes on her face, she was completely fine. After seeing other kids doing it, she thought it looked like fun too. Shawna and Elise saw her and said "Hey she did a good job getting down the ramp just fine!" I said yeah this time and oh, except for the part of going face first into the bushes!! After we made our way home, I kept saying "Man it looks like we beat her up or something!" Shawna kept say "But mom, WE DIDN'T!!" I said I know, but it looks like it and she has to go into heart surgery this week looking like we might have beat her up!! Luckily, she didn't make it in there this week. They tell us for sure next week! Anyway, as parents, we weren't convinced using the ramp right now was the best idea for Jenna and Hannah so we advised against doing it again, at least in the near future.
Now that Shawna and Elise are older, they are learning to cook. Elise especially likes to cook, Shawna not so much. On this particular day we were having a fellowship dinner on Sunday afternoon. They'd learned to make pita pocket bread and asked to make it for the dinner. Of course, I told them! Make, make bread! The kitchen's all yours! Now, all I have to do is teach them how to make dinner and other meals! Their pita bread, by the way, was very good!
On April 6th, Hannah turned 8 (yeah, I know. I'm waaaay behind on blog posts!). She wanted an ice-cream cake for her birthday. Although we wanted some regular flavors like chocolate and vanilla (Hannah can't eat chocolate), they only had chocolate and tarro root. Well... that is purple and we weren't sure what it tasted like (never really had a desire to try it), but hey, you only live once right?! As it turns out, it wasn't so bad. I'd probably get it again--although I don't think I'd ask for it, just if that was all they had! How do you like that flame on her birthday candle?! These are traditional candles here. They're actually pretty cool. After lighting them, it plays the happy birthday song (so you can sing along with it) and the flower opens with a smaller flame on the end of each petal. Cool huh?! I love them. The only problem is the battery seems to last forever on these things and continues to play the happy birthday song for hours after-wards!! This got REAL annoying the first time we used one and finally smashed it to bits at bedtime! Then you buy batteries for other stuff here and they don't last, go figure! Anyway, after that, we learned how to easily pull this certain little wire making it stop! One of the Chinese showed us that. Wished we'd known about it the first time! You'll also notice me helping Hannah cut the first piece of cake. It is traditional here for the birthday person to cut and serve the first piece of cake. Birthdays are always fun and hers was no exception. I have to tell you another funny story while I'm thinking of it. Like I said, life is never dull around our house these days! We had the second half of the ice-cream birthday cake last night. Apparently Jenna LOVES ice-cream!! She had the first helping and then asked for a second. While she was eating her second one she asked for more. Well...I told her she'd had enough already as they were pretty big helpings anyway for someone so little. About that time, dad (Randy) came up and took the last piece. WELL....she was obviously mad. When I took the empty container back to the kitchen and dad was still at the table, she flung her spoon across the room!! Yep, she's got a bit of a temper! Guess she showed us!! Then we showed her with a nice little time-out!! Not a happy camper. Anyway, thought you'd enjoy that story! Kids!
The other day when it was Hannah's birthday, the kids were looking for wrapping paper when they came across the balloon kit. They had a lot of fun making different balloon shapes. I'll have to get that out another day for them to play with. Kids and balloons--can't go wrong with that! They had all them popped by the end of the day though! At least it was fun while it lasted.
On April 1st Jenna arrived at the Forever Home. We've all been looking forward to getting her, including Hannah. Before she arrived, there were good Jenna days and not so good Jenna days for Hannah. Some mornings she'd wake up and say "No, I don't want Jenna to come!" Other days she was excited. After she arrived things were a bit "interesting", yeah, that's what word I'll use, interesting for awhile! Hannah was very jealous. It is something we'd expected to happen. Naturally when you bring a younger child into the home, and the child who was previously youngest is no longer, well.. there are usually issues. Then magnify that with kids that have behavioral issues already, so that certainly proved to be the case. I have to say, although trying at times, it has been good for Hannah. She now has to share her toys:) In this picture, notice the distance between them while playing "together!" Oh, and the happy faces too! This picture was taken on the first or second day after Jenna's arrival. They are now doing better at getting along. We are also beginning to see Hannah mature a little and she's starting to change over to the big sister role. Did you know it is her DUTY to tattle on Jenna?!! Jenna is quite smart. She caught on fast to that. The other day when I came into the room to see what they were up to, Hannah pointed to Jenna and told me her now famous phrase "Mom, Jenna!" Jenna, who doesn't yet speak, pointed to Hannah. They were both pointing at one another! Wish I had a picture of that! It was too cute! Now, when I check on them, I often find them pointing the finger at one another as if to say "It was her! No, it was her!" Yep, life is never dull at our house! It just gets all the more interesting as each new child arrives, but we love it anyway!! Hope we don't get another one till we get Jenna transitioned and in better behavior. Randy has nick named her "Queen Jenna!" She thinks SHE is the boss and doesn't have to mind adults, can you imagine?! She has selective hearing too! Believe me, there is nothing wrong with her hearing!! I'm sure it's worked for her so much in the past. She's learning it doesn't work at our house. She is quite mischievous, but has learned to wait until mom leaves the house to get groceries before doing some of those things now. Darn, mom makes her have time outs, which she doesn't like at all! The teacher has a lot of trouble out of her as Jenna is quite sure she doesn't have to mind her. One day little Jenna bit her, scratched her in the face, spit (yep, she's a feisty one), threw the time-out timer across the room, kicked her and such then when she tried to put her in her bed. It truly was a bad day for the teacher! She says "She hates me!" I just hoped she came back the next day! Not to worry, she did. I was teasing her, the teacher, that she is only 5 years old, what if we got a 10 year old like that?!! It is quite possible! We might all get beat up, I said!! I tell you, you just got to have a sense of humor doing what we do!! I'm not sure how funny she thought it was:) She used to say the same thing about Hannah hating her too and not listening to her. That all changed after Jenna arrived. Then Hannah became her friend and seems to mind her now. She now competes with Jenna for attention, surprise, surprise. The teacher suggested perhaps we needed to get another one so maybe the same thing will happen with Jenna and abra cadabra, she'll be a good girl now like Hannah?! I said I didn't think another one was wise until we got Jenna's behavior under control and she adjusted better. She then suggested perhaps we should just "borrow" one for awhile! Anyway, things are getting better and we are seeing real improvements in her behavior. I think someone may be teaching us some patience too, what'ya think?! She is learning that what mom says is exactly what mom means!! We are having some real bad food battles and she refuses quite often to eat and ALWAYS refuses to take her vitamins! Do you know she can hold them in her mouth literally for hours under her tongue?!! She comes to this house and man, people insist that she mind and eat yecky vitamin thingys. One day I gave her them at breakfast, 7-7:30am, and at 10am I noticed slobbered stuff all down her nice pretty sweater and looked like she had something in her mouth. Knowing I didn't give her anything, I wondered what she'd found on the floor to eat. Guess what, it was her vitamins I'd given her at breakfast!! She not only still had them under her tongue, but also refused to swallow the slobbers they produced cause they tasted yecky too! After 14 days of fighting her about it, I just decided to crush them up and put them in her milk or juice! She even missed going to church one Sunday and preschool one day because she refused to eat. That particular Sunday was a cold and rainy one and I REALLY hated to have to drive me and her alone later after she'd finished. Three miles one way, raining, and only in the upper 30's verses riding in the back of the family's other COVERED cart!! Why Jenna on that day did we have to make that point?!! But... I had to make a point!! I had to stand my ground, make my word true and I knew it. I'd said if you don't eat, you can't go. She was clearly testing me and finding out if what I said was what I meant. Darn it!! Painful as it was, I knew I had to do what I said. I hated it but had to bite the bullet and make a point!! An hour and half at the breakfast table and she couldn't manage to eat, yet just ten minutes after the rest of the family left, she ate it all! The next day she tried it again!! I tell you she's a tough cookie--the most strong willed of any one we have so far! She didn't get to go to preschool at all that day as I just refused to make a special trip. The class got to go to the market and buy chicks and bunnies and we played it up BIG with Hannah on how much fun it was. After that, however, she realized mom means what she says! If she doesn't eat, she doesn't get to go. That day she realized that mom can be more stubborn than her! Since those 2 days last week, we haven't had to deal with her not eating. When mom says you can't go if you don't eat, she eats. Hooray, THAT battle's won!! I'm glad He doesn't give us more than we can handle, don't you! He's training us little by little. Boy, if we think of it that way, that means there'll probably be tougher cookies that are yet to arrive! We just lean on Him for help and guidance and take whatever He chooses to give us. It's funny as we look back on Elizabeth and what she was like when she first arrived, then Hannah too. Right now we can truly say they are such wonderful girls! They mind pretty well and have adjusted nicely, they're good little girls! Don't get me wrong--Jenna can be a good girl too when she wants to:) She just hasn't chosen to make those times the majority yet, but she will!! I'm convinced of that. Besides, it isn't an option for her anyway:) It is always nice to hear others here comment on the wonderful changes they've seen in them upon coming to our home. We give Him all the glory!!
Hi guys, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've put anything on the blog. I've just been so darn busy! I've been working my Child Sponsorship Coordinator job from home since Jenna came. Trying to find time though to do that job with all the responsibilities of having 5 girls at home, cooking, getting groceries, and such has been trying. Sometimes I feel like I meet myself coming and going!! Ever been there?! There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day! Blogging gets pushed back and doesn't happen as often. However, I have good news! They've hired someone to fill my position at New Day and I will start training him on Monday. Hooray!! That should leave me more time to fulfill the already full-time job of Forever Home manager/house parents job. I'm ready to do that more full-time and felt like I haven't had enough time to work with the girls like I wanted. Hiring someone to do my other job at New Day makes me VERY happy!! Sorry for the blog silence. Hopefully it'll get better soon!
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.