A while back, an organization here that donates mostly used items they've received from individuals (kinda like goodwill) to foster homes, orphanages and other people and places in need, asked if there was anything the Forever Home could use. After thinking about it, I decided that a sewing machine would be sooooo helpful. I spend many hours in the evening mending, hemming clothes, and just general sewing. I've always thought how useful a sewing machine would be here and how much faster it would make those tasks, especially with so many little ones now to sew for. Soooo I asked for a sewing machine. They sent a nice used one a few weeks ago. I hadn't had a chance to actually get it out and try it out, but finally had the opportunity a few days ago. Needless to say, the girls thought it was the most amazing thing on earth!! Jenna was especially in awe--she just stood there with a huge smile on her face watching the thread move while other parts moved up and down! She sooo wanted to just touch it!! Elizabeth apparently couldn't resist the urge a few minutes later when I was busy ripping out a seam, she decided to push the pedal down and made it run quite fast by itself. Of course, I warned her not to do it again as she could have made it run over my fingers or someone else's:) Even the dog was curious of such a new and weird sounding machine. We are quite grateful for this wonderful tool! It worked well and should save me many hours of mending. Besides the fact that I'd like to teach the girls a little sewing. While I certainly don't claim to be a seamstress, I think it is good for the girls to learn a bit of basic sewing--some good home ec time! Besides, who knows that this might not be one of the girl's giftings?!! Only time will tell. Some of the older girls are quite excited at getting the opportunity to make something on their own! As soon as school is out in a few weeks, we'll begin some projects!
I was sooo looking forward to seeing Hannah after her being in the hospital for a month and only being able to talk to her on the phone! When we talk to her on the phone every day, she is always so happy to talk with us, telling us how much she loves and misses us! I was not really expecting the reaction I got from her when I actually saw her at the hospital yesterday morning. She was basically speechless when she saw me, just staring at me. When I ran over to give her a hug and kiss and tell her how much we loved and missed her, she pulled away and said "No!!" Although it is totally understandable, as children do not see and know the whole picture. Much like us with our Father! They don't realize that all this was done for her benefit (actually not my choice to leave her there for an entire month, though!). This surgery would give her the benefits of good health that she needs to lead a long healthy life. Only in her eyes all she knew and saw was that I abandoned her there. I took her to the hospital, didn't come back to see her (although she didn't realize I was not allowed to visit her). With the previous abandonment issue not more than a year or so ago, it was still so fresh in her memory. I'm quite sure she was feeling that all over again!! My heart goes out to her and the pain she must be feeling. She was clearly mad and trying her best to make me jealous. She'd purposely hug and kiss all the others who'd come, Grace,Karen,and the ayi (auntie) staying with her.
Instead, she hit and pinched me. I'd even printed pictures of each family member and sent them with her in a small album. She went through naming each person, tapped me on the arm to get my attention, looked me in the eye, then threw them on the floor and stomped on them. I guess that's just how she was feeling about her family who'd all abandoned her!! She clearly wanted a reaction out of me and all I could do was look at her and smile knowing the pain she was feeling. We knew this would be hard on her going to the hospital without her mom or other family member, but she didn't know we weren't allowed to go due to the fact that we are a foreigner and would have too many communication issues. No one realized it would take an entire month before she'd even have surgery, being in a small room with 3 other patients, with little to do (playing with the same few toys I'd sent day after day) but lie there and think about her family abandoning her! The worst part is that when mom does show up, she has surgery--something else she didn't want to do that was very painful for her! She was clearly overwhelmed. I can't imagine going through that as an adult without a loved one close by, but as a child, how much more scary!! We were only able to see her before surgery, not after recovery nor while she is in ICU. Absolutely no visitors are allowed, not even a nanny. Our hearts go out to her but believe that once she gets back home in 7-10 days, she will be on the mend again not only physically, but emotionally too. The doctors stated that due to her case being so complicated and long, they expected her to be in ICU longer than the average 3 days. I pray they are wrong and she is out in only a day or two. We've had several others prove them wrong when they said at least a week, were out in only 1 or 2 days!! Lets lift her up and agree that her stay in ICU and the hospital being much shorter than expected totally amazing the doctors. This also often gives us opportunity to explain the real reason for our children's unexplained miracles and success stories! I was able to take several pictures and some videos of her before her surgery. Enjoy!
After 8 1/2 hours, Hannah's surgery was complete. They were able to do everything they needed to in this surgery and she shouldn't have to do another one. Yippee!! Although they were hopeful, they weren't sure when they started that they could do everything in this surgery. It was a very, very complicated surgery. I'll post more tomorrow as I am wiped out after leaving for the hospital at 6am and not returning until 7:30pm. I just wanted to let you all know that all went well! This picture was taken before she went off to surgery this morning.
One month to the day, Hannah is finally having her heart surgery. We received a call not more than an hour ago that her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday here) at 8am. As with any major heart surgery, it is not without risk, so please keep her uplifted not only during the surgery, but especially for the first 24-48 hours directly following her surgery. The normal hospital stay here for heart patients is 7-10 days following surgery. We are hoping it will only take the 7 days as she has already been in there for a month now. Thank you for standing with us in the gap for this precious little girl!! By the way, I get to be there when they do her surgery tomorrow. That means I get to see her for the first time in a month!! Oh happy, happy!!
The other day when Serena was singing for the video camera, others decided they wanted to get in on the fun. Jenna, although she isn't singing, decided to do a short performance. It's a bit short, but cute anyway and I decided to share it. I'm also told that today in preschool class when asked for volunteers to lead a song, Jenna's hand popped up and ran upfront to lead the class. Although she didn't sing, she did do the actions she'd learned to the song. It surely made her feel rather special! You go girl!!
Elizabeth also decided to do a song. Although the "ABC" song is way below her level of learning, that's what she insisted doing. I guess she just felt comfortable enough with that one. You have a beautiful voice Elizabeth. Of course, all our girls do!! I know, I'm not prejudice or anything, just a proud mom!!! They're all very special girls, each in their own way!
Dad's lap used to be reserved pretty much exclusively for our family dog, Tiny, the past couple of years. (Our daughters felt they'd become too big to sit on dad's lap any longer.) And that's exactly where you'd always find him unless he was mad at dad for some reason. Then he'd sit on mom's lap just to make dad jealous. It's hard to imagine dogs would be capable of such, but I tell you, it's true!! With the addition of several new children to our home this past year, now poor Tiny must share the lap time. I have to tell you, he doesn't give it up easily! If you'll notice in this picture, he is still holding his own (barely)with a place near dad. Although he's not exactly on his lap, he found just enough room beside it, tucked away in a small space only he could fit. If he could only talk!! He often has this look like "Geeze, I was here first!!" Our whole family has gone through many changes with the addition of these lovely girls coming into our home. I have to tell ya, the dog is no exception! Although chihuahua's are known to have difficulty adjusting to new family members and such, I have to say he's done pretty well under the circumstances. Before,it used to take him several days to adjust to a new person. Now, the same day he's pretty good with them as long as they don't make any sudden moves! He's a good dog and all of us love him very much!! The kids especially enjoy him and it's good for them to learn to love and care for pets. We hope to keep him around for a long time!
Last Sunday some of the foster home children were invited to perform in a piano recital. Elizabeth was happy to join in. They sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and did the actions. They were oh, so cute!! Thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of that event. Shawna,our daughter, had been asked to play the piano, but no one was talking her into that! She doesn't like the spot light, but was persuaded to go along to help out under the condition that no one try to talk her into it! They had a good time and all of them looked quite adorable in their Sunday best clothes.
Thought you might enjoy this short video of Jenna. Of course, it is normal everyday things to us, but one of the new interns who has been here helping us out thought it sooo adorable. I thought then that normal to us is cute to everyone else so I thought we'd share it! Enjoy!
With Serena coming from a background where there weren't many material things, she is just continually amazed at things she sees since coming here. Even little things like stickers, that we gave her, she didn't really know what to do with them. They all ended up on her face as you can see in this picture. For days she walked around the house looking at things and saying "Wow!" Always asking what it was and did. She even seemed to not know what to do with crayons. In the beginning, she only used one crayon, never switching until she saw one of the other children using multiple crayons. She spends a bit of time playing with puzzles and tries to MAKE them fit together! She doesn't seem to get too frustrated, just knows they go together somehow. The washing machine really amazed her and said "Wow, our home didn't have a washing machine!" While we have been having some behavioral issues, we are seeing them become fewer as she is beginning to adjust to her new surroundings. It would make anyone uneasy to be taken from everything and everyone you've ever known, and thrust into a whole new environment with complete strangers! It is totally understandable! She is generally a pretty happy girl who seems to love music. She knows several songs and I hope to catch her on video soon singing something.
Hannah did not have surgery again this week. We continue to trust that all this is part of His plan, His perfect timing, and it will hopefully happen soon. We miss her terribly and continue to talk to her on the phone each day!
Saturday we took the girls all to play at New Day's outdoor playground in the backyard. They especially enjoyed the merry-go-round. Looks like in this picture that Jenna wasn't particularly enjoying it, but she just kept coming back for more! This is the newest girl to come to the Forever Home. Her English name is Serena. She is 9 and also enjoyed a day in the sunshine. Although it was a bit rough going for the first few hours of her arrival, she seems to be fine now. Don't get me wrong, we know that she will have some set-backs. She was clearly attached to her former foster family and is most certainly grieving her loss. At least now we are seeing her begin to smile and laugh.
Elizabeth gets more beautiful each passing day, don't you think?!!
Elise and Jenna enjoy spending some time playing together. Jenna is learning that having an older sister has some advantages. Something she's not experienced before to our knowledge.
On Friday a new girl arrived at the Forever Home. Her English name is Serena. She is 9 years old and has some vision problems. We are so happy that she has joined our family and look forward to possibly seeing if we can help improve some of her vision issues. She has had virtually no education so we will soon be working on a plan to begin some studies. Although you wouldn't know it by these pictures, she seemed to be doing fine until we nearly arrived to our home. It was then that she began to cry. As with many of the children that first arrive at New Day, she was quite frightened and cried for a few hours. Who could blame her?! It would be overwhelming for anyone. It was a stressful morning for our whole family as she didn't seem to be comforted by anything we said or did. By afternoon, however, she'd settled in a bit and seemed to be doing alright. Although bedtime generally proves to be a rough time as well for newcomers, we were pleasantly surprised that she had no problem going to bed. She finally decided to unpack the small bag of possessions she'd arrived with and got ready for bed. After-all, she surely had to be emotionally and physically drained by the day's events. She slept well through the night and awakened early in the morning. Today, she seems to be adjusting well and is happily playing with the other girls. She is a sweet girl and is very obedient when I ask her to do something. We are already working on some habits our household isn't accustomed to such as spitting or throwing unwanted food or trash on the floor. Given the fact that she is willing to do whatever she is asked, I'm sure it will be no time at all before we are able to work through some of these issues. We look forward to seeing her grow and blossom in no time at all like so many of the other kids that come to live in New Day's homes! This is a new family picture we've taken of everyone in the Forever Home except for Hannah, who is still in the hospital awaiting surgery. We look forward to her return home and we'll include a picture of all of us!
I'd never heard of Flat Stanley until a few months ago when one of New Day's sponsors told me about them. The kids color, decorate them, and then cut them out. We pasted ours onto cardboard to make them a bit sturdier. Then you send to them to a friend for an adventure. They take pictures of them at the zoo or whatever adventure that they take them on. It's fun for the kids to see all the places their Stanley ends up. Anyway, the girls decided to make a girl likeness for theirs instead of a guy. Last night as dad was getting ready to leave on a 2 day trip with the students, they decided to make theirs and send them along with dad on his adventure. They worked all evening and by bedtime, were finished with their Stanleys. They're anxiously awaiting dad's return to see where all Stanley has been! Then all we have to do is decide where to send their Stanley's next!!
This is our dog. The girls named him Tiny when we first got him as a puppy. He's a cute little Chihuahua now about 4 1/2 years old. Although the kids are usually afraid of him when they first arrive, they quickly warm up to each other and enjoy him a great deal. Even though he is a male, all the girls enjoy dressing him up like a girl! They really get a kick out of it and he generally tolerates it for awhile before saying "ENOUGH!" This particular day he was adorned with one of the girls favorite scarves. He actually held still for a picture, which is unusual. He generally isn't much on pictures and this is actually the best picture I think we have of him. It's just a pity that he looks so feminine here!
I just wanted to let all you guys know that we do not have any news on Hannah. Although our staff called the hospital several times this morning, they said they were too busy to even answer the phones. They were going to change the nanny staying with her as it has now been 2 weeks in the hospital without even having surgery, a much longer than normal stay away from her family. We are really saddened by the whole situation. We miss Hannah terribly and know that she misses her home! I can only imagine how difficult it is for her being such an active little girl. Although we get to talk with her on the phone daily, it just isn't the same as going and seeing her in person. Continue to keep her situation lifted up and believe her surgery will soon be happening so she can be on the road to recovery! We hope to hear some news tomorrow, but no guarantees!
On Friday I accompanied Jenna to see the dentist in Beijing. We'd made a trip 2 weeks ago for the first time and he gave me an assignment. Jenna has a top front tooth that was discolored and had a big cavity. Not wanting the cavity to affect her permanent tooth coming in, he asked me to wiggle it 3 times a day until it came out in a week or two. I think Jenna thought I was torturing her though and she wasn't too pleased with the wiggling sessions. Anyway, I'd been doing that for the past 2 weeks and although it wasn't out, it was much looser. It wasn't very loose when I started so we'd made a lot of headway. In the meantime, we'd made another appointment to get the 3 other cavities fixed. The plan was to hopefully get the 3 of them filled that day and she'd not need to visit the dentist then for some time. Does anything go according to plan though?! Jenna had other plans of her own and they didn't include filling any cavities! She was obviously afraid and we still haven't built that trust that says she can believe we aren't out to harm her but help her. She cried and wouldn't hold still so the dentist would not fill those cavities. We are working on a back up plan but may need to wait awhile before we can get those teeth fixed. We definitely do not want them to get bad affecting her permanent teeth. He then pulled the baby tooth we'd been trying to get to come out. Yeah, Jenna was really thrilled with him after that!
This picture was taken on the way home and as you can see, she was terribly traumatized by the whole event! Not really, but she may not be too crazy about going back anytime soon though!
Earlier in the day at preschool that morning, the children all got their faces painted. Later, on the way home, she fell asleep in the car apparently laying her face on the vinyl seat. All I could do was laugh when she got up as she'd apparently got a bit warm, sweating and making the face paint a complete mess!
Our carts have been needing a good washing for several weeks now. They were so dusty that I got tired of looking at all the dirt and decided it was time to take action. We made it a family affair. After-all, it is used by everyone in the whole family. I felt it was only right that we all share in this "fun" activity. Jenna has recently decided that she is big enough to drive the cart! When it is time to leave, she often jumps into the driver's seat only to be disappointed by being sent to the back to ride instead of drive. This particular day,she kept insisting we give her the keys to the cart! She was quite serious too! I had to take her picture. It was just too adorable!
Shawna and Elise joined in by helping clean the inside of the covered cart top to bottom.
Jenna worked on the inside of the smaller cart after we convinced her that she wasn't going to drive away with it!
Elizabeth worked on cleaning the front part of the cart.
Shawna and Elise found a new way to wring out the mop! When full of water, I think the mop is almost as heavy as Shawna! Believe it or not, both carts did get a good cleaning despite all the horsing around! I can now feel good about driving around in it!!
As I'm sure many of you've heard already, Elizabeth continues to amaze all of us with her English! Last July when she first came to our home, she knew absolutely no English. Since we are all English speakers, and some of us speak a bit of Chinese as well, it wasn't long before she began picking it up since that is the main language used in our home. About a month and a half after arriving in our home, we also began her on an English home school program where she began studying Phonics, Math, and Handwriting. She quickly learned English phonics and could readily sound out any English word that followed the phonics rules she'd learned. The only problem we then had was that, although she could sound out and read the words, she often didn't know what she was reading. Unlike native English speakers who already knew what a "cat" was, she had to learn the meanings of each of these words too. While there are still many meanings she hasn't learned, her vocabulary continues to grow. We know it will just take some time. At home now, she speaks English nearly exclusively. No, she hasn't forgotten her Chinese as she has plenty of opportunity to use that as well. She has done remarkably well and we are very proud of the progress she has made in such a short period of time!! Although she was a bit reluctant at first, she did agree to allow me to video her so she could show all of you just how well she can read in English.
This morning, a holiday here in China, the family slept in. Randy and I awoke to hearing Jenna, who is an earlier riser, playing in her bed with one of her toys that has a small bell on it. She doesn't yet realize it, but it always alerts us to the fact that she is awake. As soon as she heard us up, she jumped out of bed ready for a new day! She wanted to play with her play dough first so we sat her at one of the small table trays in the living room to play while we began breakfast in the kitchen. Little did we know she had a plan of her own for breakfast! After a short while, she came in and wanted to set the table. Normally her older sisters take turns setting the table and sweeping up after-wards, but all of them were still asleep. We thought she just wanted to beat them to the job and took advantage of the opportunity for her to get to set the table herself. She set plates on the table, forks and such. It wasn't until a little while later when Randy went to get something from the refrigerator (next to the dining room), that he saw what she was really up to. She'd made breakfast with her play-dough!! She had 6 little balls of play-dough each on a plate. Hannah is not here right now but in the hospital or it normally would be 7 people. Not only did she have the exact number, but all were nearly the same size except one, hers! Obviously, she realized she didn't eat as much as the rest of us. That or it was a fluke! She's quite smart so I'd more believe that it is exactly the way she meant it to be! Imagine the rest of her sisters' surprise when we called them to breakfast a few minutes later! As each one came in, they had these dumb-founded looks on their faces wondering what was up with play-dough for breakfast! They thought we were trying to play a joke on them. As soon as we explained to them that Jenna set the table and made breakfast, they all played along thinking how cute it was that she'd done that. In the meantime, of course, she was hungry while waiting for the real breakfast to be done, so she had a snack making a mess in the floor. She promptly then came into the kitchen after the broom and dustpan. I followed her out of the kitchen to see what she was up to. Seeing the mess she'd made, I said "Sure, you can clean it up!" I believe in teaching the children to clean up after themselves when they make a mess and the younger they learn that, the better! How cute is that?!!
Let's see, still no news on Hannah's surgery. They said it'd be sometime after the May holiday which is tomorrow. Hope it is soon as I know she's got to be quite bored. Try containing a very active little girl in a small room for a week! Now after her surgery, she may be a bit easier to contain--for awhile. Hopefully the nanny who is staying with her is very entertaining! We talk to her every day and she really seems to miss her music and all the English nursery rhymes she's used to doing in preschool and at home. We are working on getting her set up with something to play all those nursery rhymes to help pass her time there. When I go in on surgery day, I will pass it off to the nanny. I'm sure she'll be thrilled! The nanny may get tired of hearing it though, but at least it will help entertain her! When we call, we always end up doing more singing of those rhymes than talking! Yesterday, she surprised us when SHE called us. I'm sure her nanny actually made the call, but we're assuming she bugged her enough she gave us a call instead of waiting for us to call her! We miss her so much and can't wait for her return. These are just some random photos I've taken around the house. Jenna wants to be like the big girls and ride her own bike only she isn't quite there yet. For now she is happy to pretend! The girls also often get out the play-dough and have fun making things with that. Doesn't Hannah look like she is so deep in thought in that one picture?! Looks like she is pondering something very serious:) Jenna and Shawna have some fun together. Don't let Hannah see you wearing her sunglasses, Jenna! The picture of Elizabeth is taken during her home school studies. It is reading time and she is doing so well! She continues to amaze all the foreigners and Chinese by her English speaking skills. They remember when she first came (which wasn't all that long ago, July) and she knew absolutely no English, now that is practically all she uses! She has grown and matured in so many ways! It's sometimes hard to believe she is the same girl! Then there's the picture of Jenna "playing with" or is that aggravating our dog?! Sometimes it is a very fine line!!
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.