Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Can You Do This?!!

Our girls have always be very flexible and have always been able to do the splits and such moves that often make you think they're double jointed or something. Being in gymnastics for a few years before coming to China and watching a lot of gymnastics, they know how to do many of the moves. They used to do them very frequently until the past couple of years and I guess they just grew out of them and sort of forgot. However, as they found out recently, if you don't continue such things, you lose your flexibility. They were shocked when they went to do the splits and realized they could no longer do them! Now, I think they are determined to practice a bit every day until they can do them again.
Jenna enjoyed trying to stand on her head! Never was quite able to accomplish the feat though!











































Hannah, who is still limited on her physical activities yet, invented her own modified version of their gymnastic moves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wonderful Blessings!

This week we received several big blessings at our home. One of them happened to be in the form of a care package from our home church. They really blessed us with not only one, but three boxes full of goodies! They sent us some special requests like cold medicines, baking goods, toys for each of the girls, and various items. I have to tell you, when we get a package around here, I feel like I'm being mobbed when I walk in the front door!! The girls all want to know what's in the bag or box and aren't satisfied until they get to see it. When these boxes came in, some girls were in school/preschool at New Day and dad was at work. I set them on the table and told them they'd have to wait to open them when EVERYONE returned home. I happened to be snapping a picture of the girls staring anxiously at the boxes when Jenna displayed her utter frustration at being made to wait!! One of the many outbursts we commonly see out of Jenna around here. I just never caught it on camera before:)
Everyone anxiously awaits dad to open the boxes and he just can't do it fast enough for them!
This is a picture of all the goodies they sent! Fantastic!! They really blessed us! Thank you so much from the entire Forever Home!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Swimming!






video
Recently it has been nice and warm here so New Day Foster Home invited the Forever Home girls to use their pool. I knew the girls would be excited and have had a great time playing in the water. Last week we went twice. I'm sure it will quickly become a fun summertime activity with our girls! Hannah is still recovering from surgery and was not allowed to participate. She was quite unhappy and I really feel sad about that, but.... Next week, however, we are taking the girls to a bigger pool in a village close-by. Since it will then be officially be one month since her surgery, she will be allowed to attend on a limited basis. Although she still is restricted to limited physical activity, she can sit in the pool in a floaty and enjoy the water. We are quite happy that she can come, but doesn't compare to the excitement she feels!!
video
The girls quickly figured out that while they were wet, they went down the slide so much faster than normal--kinda like a water slide!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Our Precious Hannah!

We are soooo happy to have Hannah back with us!! While I thought her transition back into the family would take awhile,to our surprise, it didn't take as long as we thought and it seems like we have our old Hannah back--only with a new heart!! With that said, I have to tell you a cute little story about her. Just yesterday, I had to take her to New Day to see the doctor there for a check up. She is feeling so much better and no longer has blue fingers and toes, and doesn't get out of breath anymore. Elizabeth had her hand walking with her and Serena's teacher and I were talking, walking just behind her when I looked up only to see her getting up off the ground. Obviously she'd fallen and I first thought perhaps she'd tripped. When I questioned her however, I got a different story. She said, with a huge smile on her face, "wo pao le mama!!" Translated that means "I ran, mom!!" Something she could never do before! She seemed surprised and elated all at the same time! Mom, on the other hand, told her she better not run for awhile as she still needs to heal from her surgery and should be doing NO strenuous activity! At the same time, I was so happy for her!! Although she skinned her arm up, it is something she is very proud of, by the way!! Each time she tells someone she ran and got a boo boo, it's hard to do anything but smile and laugh! We really look forward to seeing her health take off in the next 6 months. It is something we see with all the heart kids once their surgery is done and they've had ample time to heal. Currently Hannah is only one month from having major open heart surgery so she needs plenty of time to allow her heart to heal before participating in any strenuous activity--even if she feels like it! It's really hard to keep them down once they feel so much better!!


Makin' Shakes!!


The other night dad was gone with a couple of the older girls and we decided to make some banana shakes. Jenna saw me in the kitchen using some new gadget she'd probably not seen before. She was intrigued and went to get her stool so she could see better. She stood up on it to watch me, but as soon as I turned the blender on, she jumped back nearly falling off her little stool. Clearly it made way more noise than she expected and it startled her. Then she was all smiles and wanted to help me make it go! At that point, Hannah also became interested and joined us. I poured the drinks into their glasses and set them on the table with a nice big straw. Although Jenna loves ice-cream, I guess she was surprised by the coldness of her new drink. I doubt she'd ever had a shake. Anyway, I was cleaning up in the kitchen, and after a few minutes, Jenna brought her drink in and motioned for me to put it into the microwave to make it warm!! Something she often did previously with milk when it wasn't at least room temperature. She does not drink hers cold from the fridge! I just thought you might enjoy that little story!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Our Turn In the Kitchen

Finally, it is the little girls' turn in the kitchen again. The wait for a little one can seem like a lifetime, but finally the time comes. Jenna and Hannah were not disappointed!! They had a blast making something simple like pudding. This is a special treat provided by someone who sent the Forever Home a care package. With most of it being baking goods, the girls have had much fun in the kitchen and then there's the eating too!!















































And then there's the tasting!! Every good cook must taste their creations to be sure they are fit to serve others!! Right?!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jenna's Speech Results

For the past week and a half, a speech specialist from the states has been at New Day evaluating some of our kids. She has spent some time each day with Jenna, and yesterday gave her a final oral physical exam before completing her diagnosis. She has been diagnosed as "Selective Mutism." Basically that means she is simply choosing not to speak. It is not a terribly uncommon thing with institutionalized children or those suffering from severe traumas. We have no idea what traumas she may have endured in her life prior to coming to the Forever Home. We do know that she was moved around a bit previously. Something terribly difficult for a child to handle. I can also tell you that she has much difficulty with change. It takes her days or weeks to recover from a major event that happens in our home. For instance, when Hannah left for the hospital. Jenna had just began to speak. She'd said about 7-8 words for the first time. We were all so excited. Shortly thereafter, Hannah left for the hospital and Jenna was very upset for 2-3 days. With her previous history of being moved around so much, I'm sure she was wondering if she'd be the next to leave and it upset her. After a few weeks she began again only to have Serena arrive into the Forever Home. Again, her speech stopped with another change. Only about 3 days before Hannah was to come out of the hospital, Jenna again began to say a few words. Of course, seeing the pattern, we were concerned we were just beginning to make some progress again and she'd stop after another change of Hannah coming home. Sure enough it stopped. However, we are seeing a shorter and shorter time span in her making a come back between major changes. While we can't stop such changes from happening, we hope that things will settle down for awhile since we are at full capacity until we find a new home. Perhaps it will give Jenna the time she needs to heal emotionally and learn to speak. I am happy to report that she has began to speak once again this week!! Just yesterday she said a couple of new words. In the meantime, we are currently working on a picture system as a means of communication. We've been taking lots of pictures in order to put this together and get it up and working. Hopefully it will help relieve some of her frustration. I have to say that although she is the youngest girl in the Forever Home, she is BY FAR the most challenging. She is very, very strong willed and extremely controlling. I know, I know, she's most likely had to be that way in order for her to survive her previous background. She has had to rely on herself in order to get her needs met. We understand that, however, we just want to see her become a kid and enjoy letting adults take care of her needs for a change. I'm sure it will just take some time!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day

Sunday afternoon, the girls all gathered around dad and presented him with some home made cards. They'd poured their little hearts out into creating him some special drawings for his special day. Does it get any sweeter than that?! Happy Father's Day dad!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hangin' Out 'Round the House

Jenna and Elizabeth play horsey.
















Family time one evening watching TV.













Gotcha girls!














Some of our beautiful girls here at the Forever Home!!











Jenna hanging out one day outside our apartment.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cooking for 100+ People!

Yesterday evening, the school had a Western style BBQ with grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken wings,and coleslaw. Several people had a part in helping prepare the food. Some cooked the burgers, hotdogs, and chicken wings. Our family was in charge of the coleslaw and dill pickles. Since you can't buy dill pickles here, we've made ours homemade here for several years now. Naturally, they thought we ought to bring the pickles! We also made the coleslaw so that's what we did several hours in the afternoon yesterday--chopped cabbage, carrots, onions and made the dressing. All the girls got to join in the fun--even those who don't handle knives yet. There was stirring to be done and pulling the outer leaves off the cabbage before being cut. The girls love to help out when they can and we let them as much as possible. Although, we had to watch closely as they prepared the cabbage to be cut. Instead of just pulling a couple of the outer leaves off, they just wanted to keep going. If we'd not stopped them, all the cabbage would've ended up in the trash! As it turned out, they estimated about 130 at the BBQ! The girls had a great time, however, since Hannah wasn't yet able to get out for such events yet, Elise and I stayed home with her. They brought a couple of burgers and hotdogs home for us. It was good!


Elise, who'd love to make cooking her profession, tries her skills of chopping cabbage two-handed!

















Shawna and dad busy chopping!












Elizabeth stirring the coleslaw--after we washed good first, by the way! What's more fun in cooking than getting your hands right in there?!!























Elise and Elizabeth working.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just Bein' Weird


This is Shawna and Elise. They decided to borrow my camera one day while I was away from the house--probably at the grocery store. They had some candy that apparently turned their tongues those colors. I guess they thought they'd surprise me with a couple of weird pictures. I then told them I'd use them on the blog and they didn't really think that was too funny. To tell you the truth, I think they just never thought I'd do it--thought I was joking. So here they are just being silly one afternoon! Surprise girls! I guess after such a busy week, I was just needing a bit of fun and feeling a bit onery as they say!

Guess Who?!

Can you guess who this little girl is? She is always playing peek-a-boo with me!

















Here's a bigger hint!














There she is!! It's Jenna!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!!




What is more fun than bubbles?!! All kids seem to love them and even big kids! Shawna had a large bubble maker we'd gotten while in the states the last time and so that has been a lot of fun. Recently we came across a battery operated bubble blower in the village at one of the stores. Elizabeth spent much of her weekly allowance to purchase one. She was not disappointed as it works pretty good. It should allow for many hours of bubble time this summer--as long as no one drops and breaks it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

We're Cookin Now!



Recently the Forever Home obtained a nice wooden kitchen play set with an oven, sink, and refrigerator. It was in New Day's storage room and they asked if we'd like to have it as they already have one. I have to tell you, we'd talked about having one not long ago and all the girls agreed that it would be a wonderful asset and everyone would love it. Although space is getting pretty tight in this 3 bedroom apartment, I knew I had to find room somewhere to put it. After moving a few things and rearranging, we found the perfect place. It has been played with more than anything else since it arrived!! As a long time parent, I know that it isn't just because it is new. Kids love these kitchenettes!! They will spend countless hours cooking, washing dishes, etc... And of course, we get to try all their goodies!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let's Make Some Brownies!



Every chance the girls get, they like to cook. Since they are still in school, they just don't get that many opportunities right now. However, weekends are a good time for such things! We recently received some baking supplies from someone in the states and they decided to make some brownies. Something we never really get here, perhaps only a handful of times. Shawna and Elise, who just recently started cooking, got to show Serena and Elizabeth the ropes of cooking. While all the girls would have preferred to help, you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen! I felt 4 was enough this time as Jenna got to help Shawna and Elise just the day before make some pudding we'd received in the care package from the states. Hanna is still recovering from her recent heart surgery. Jenna wasn't none too pleased with that decision so the girls felt the need to shut the kitchen door to keep her at bay. A bit later when she didn't return to the front room, I went to see where she was and discovered her doing the next best thing. If she couldn't be in the kitchen, she just went and got her stool and stood at the window watching it all! Serena apparently got tired of waiting for her turn to do the next step and sat down in the kitchen floor! (Oh, and if you're wondering what the sock is doing on Jenna's hand, it's because she has a fungus on her fingers and we're trying to treat it. She's not supposed to get it wet and the sock keeps her fingers out of her mouth and keeps her from playing in the water, thus keeping it try and clean. This way she also can't suck all the medicine off when I put it on. You know that can't be too good for you to eat either!) See, that's the problem with too many cooks. There's only so much each can do. Don't worry girls, some day we'll have a bigger kitchen and there'll be room for more of you to help out!! These are special times in a girl's life when she can learn skills that some day will be oh so valuable to her family. For the last several years, Elise has expressed interest in making it her profession even. She loves to cook and it would be a good fit for her. Of course, first I told her she needed to get through high school!!