Friday, July 30, 2010

A Budding Artist

Lois, the Forever Home's teacher, has put together an art exhibition to display some of Serena's work. When Serena first came, it seemed quite obvious that she hadn't previously drawn much or colored pictures like most children take for granted as they grow and develop. While she could only scribble previously, and only used one color for an entire picture, had much difficulty tracing objects and coloring within the lines, look at her work now!! She has made tremendous progress after such a short period of time (only arriving here on May 14) and we are very proud of her accomplishments!! Her teacher set up an exhibition of her works in the classroom where she studies daily at New Day. Today was her last day of class and what could be more appropriate than to show off all her works! We sent out emails to New Day staff to view her work and let her know what a great job she has done. It was truly wonderful to see her face light up when people would praise her work! It certainly goes a long way toward helping improve her self-esteem! Anyway, we also wanted to share it with all of you as well! The artist bio and other comments are written by her teacher, Lois. Thank you so much for all you've done for her! Serena's work speaks for itself!

A Budding Artist Cont.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of Her Favorite Past-times

One of Serena's favorite past-times is puzzles. Although she isn't all that good at it, she will spend a great deal of time and effort working on them. She yet has to learn that there's a picture she is building in puzzle piecing and that not every notch fits in every hole! She has a great time anyway and I guess that's what's important.

She had her first visit to the dentist and eye doctor in Beijing yesterday. She had 5 cavities, 2 of which they filled yesterday and the other 3 will be done next week. As far as the vision issues, she will be getting new, better glasses. We hope that they will help a great deal and she'll see a lot better. The old ones they said were helping, but simply not strong enough. According to what we learned yesterday, there is no surgery that can be done to help her vision problems, but we hope that these new glasses will make a big difference in her vision.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bubble Time

The days have been so hot lately so we haven't been going out as much. However, after some prompting by the girls, we waited until later that evening when it was cooler to go out. They were really missing their bubble time! Of course, we started with about 4 bottles, but ended up with none as they have a habit of knocking them over and spilling them. Now I need to buy more bubbles! Elizabeth has learned the nack of blowing big bubbles! Jenna and Hannah continue to work on their bubble blowing skills. We also have a couple of bubble guns for extra fun and the girls all take turns using those.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Look! It's the Muffin Girls!!

Recently, with more time on their hands with school being out, the older girls have been doing some extra baking. They came up with an idea of doing some fund-raising for the Forever Home. They thought they'd like to use the money to go to the aquarium, zoo, or somewhere like that. We felt it was a good opportunity for them to learn more about the value of money, earning and spending it properly. Last Friday evening, the school had a costume party and the girls thought it a great chance, so they baked their goods and even solicited the help of some friends to help. Recently receiving some t-shirts with a muffin applique from the Savannah team, they made little chef hats, and they all dressed as the muffin girls and sold, what else but...MUFFINS!! They even sang the song, slightly changing the words to fit, "Do you know the muffin girls, the muffin girls, the muffin girls, do you know the muffin girls who live on Da Dong Lane?!!" I'd taken a video of them singing it, but it just didn't turn out well and there just was no repeating it, so sorry! It was all too cute, I have to say!!
They had several flavors such as vanilla, peach, banana, and pumpkin with chocolate chip. They did alright and was excited that they made 134 yuan which is about $19.71. It was a good experience for them and they had a great time!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Can You Hear Me?!!

This week when an audiologist came from the states to do some hearing checks on our kids, he asked me this question. "Have you noticed any hearing problems?" I stated not really unless you count "selective hearing" which several of them have at different times!! You have kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about! Their hearing has now been checked and they all passed with flying colors! Now they have no excuse! It's not hard to spot selective hearing! Just try telling them it's time to pick up their toys or make their bed, and when they "can't" hear you, say well, would you like to go swimming today or to the store later, for example?! Suddenly!! Whammo, it's a miracle!! They can hear just fine!! It's also interesting that you can ask them to do something in a normal tone of voice, and they "can't" hear you. But whisper something about candy or try opening or rattling a chip bag or something and they can hear that from a great distance!! They'll come running from another room! Kids!

Hannah had to have a sucker to keep her quiet long enough to check her ears. Jenna, she just plain didn't want to hold still and sit there! Ellie, our nurse, and I had to hold her still long enough to do the check, which wasn't very long. Everyone else was a breeze! Elizabeth thought it was great fun and Serena, apparently intrigued by the whole process and equipment, kept forgetting to tell them when she heard a sound! We found out that Shawna has exceptionally good hearing. Elise was the guinea pig all the nurses got to look at. As a cleft palate baby, she has had many ear infections, tubes put in, and a surgery to close a hole in her past. We haven't really had her hearing checked since moving to China 6 years ago, so I was curious how it had affected her hearing, although we'd noticed no problems. While her hearing was normal, she did have some scarring on her ear drum, which is normal in such cases, but it was minimal so it doesn't affect her hearing. Wonderful news for us to hear! It was all fun and the nice little reward of a sucker at the end just made it even better!

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Emerging Personality?!!

As things have calmed down in our home recently (no one coming or going from the hospital or no new children), it has made Jenna feel more secure. We are so pleased that we are not only hearing new words, but have even heard some 3-4 word phrases come out of her!! Imagine our delight! Of course, when you ask her to repeat them, she will not. Nor do we hear words often, probably 3-4 per week on average, but hey, that is HUGE considering the fact that she has never spoken before the age of 5! We are so proud of her accomplishments and believe that she will some day just take off speaking. Who knows, perhaps once she does, you'll never get her to shut her mouth!! That would be most welcome when you consider what she would have had to overcome to get to that point!! Anyway, back to the original reason I was doing this post. Since Jenna is feeling more secure, we are beginning to see more of her personality emerge. I make a particular salad here that is not exactly Chinese nor American (more Chinese than American though), but more of a combination of the two cultures. There is a Chinese dish common here that is popular and I added tomatoes to the dish as it is something that our family loves, particularly the girls. You would NEVER find it in the Chinese dish as they'd think it weird. Of course, you'd not find anything like it in the states either. It is a cold dish that has cucumbers, tomatoes, peanuts, cilantro, salt, chicken bouillon, sesame oil, chopped garlic, and vinegar (you could use either white or dark vinegar). Anyway, we all love it so I make it at least once a week here. This particular night, Jenna had finished eating her bowl of food and wanted more salad. Now, since she often eats a bit slower than the rest, she was the only one left at the table. Since this dish is absolutely no good left over or even if made more than 15 minutes prior to eating a meal, I asked her if she wanted it all. You should have seen her face light up as she nodded YEAH!! I had to take her picture, it was just too cute. Just as I snapped the picture, she impulsively stuck out her tongue for the camera! Something she'd often seen her bigger sister, Shawna do! Shawna, by the way, is the family clown. Seems as Jenna is a new, up-and-coming clown?!! Perhaps some competition! They are great pals and really enjoy one another. They're like two peas in a pod! However, I was quite surprised as this is new behavior from Jenna. You just never know what she's going to do next these days. Then again, some things are quite predictable, like tantrums and such!!

Just look at this picture! I'm so glad I captured it on camera! Thanks Jenna for making my day! Typically, Jenna is the most difficult one to get a good picture out of. No, I'm not kidding! Although she's a cutie, I often have to take 5-6 pictures of her before I get a good one. She has this uncanny nack of closing her eyes at the precise moment I snap the picture!! I don't know how she does it, but boy is she good at it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Toys!

This week our girls have been blessed with a few new toys. The team gave them some cool balloons that you blow up and they twirl around and whistle as they inflate. The girls thought those were great! Then an intern who helped out a couple of days gave them a couple of spinning tops that have laser lights and play a very popular song here. Wow, it's never dull around our house, nor quiet these days as we have many musical toys! After the first day, one of the tops stopped partially working. It was likely dropped too many times and stopped playing the loud song, awwwwwww! Here, the louder the volume, the better. Anyone who has been in China much knows just what I'm talking about. Just between you and us, mom and dad was thrilled cause they were REALLY loud, those tops and with 2 going a lot of the time, it was well... you know! I have to say though, the louder and flashier the toy, the more fun and exciting it is to kids! That's when, as a parent, you hope it isn't too long before the batteries run down:) We have to admit though that these are pretty cool toys!! Thanks so much for blessing them with them! They have really enjoyed them and that's what's important, isn't it?!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Makin' It Home Made!

Although everyone thinks of egg rolls and crab rangoon as traditional Chinese food, it is not something we have been able to get in any of the area's we've lived in China. Not having a lot of time to spare, I did a short search on the net to see where they originated. From what I've discovered in that short amount of time is that it is largely unknown where it originated but many did seem to agree that they thought it originated in America. I think every Chinese restaurant there, big or small, offer them. While it doesn't really matter to me where it originated, I do know one thing. Our family loves them both and we get hungry for them from time to time!! Since we can't get them here, we make our own. We'd make them more often, but it is a bit time consuming. For the first few times, we made our own wraps as you just can't buy them in the markets here. That made things much more time consuming so we went to buying the wonton or dumpling (jiaozi) wraps. Since they don't come that big, you have to piece them. When we lived in Dalian, China, I used to order them made to the size I wanted. Even then it was often difficult and the Chinese just can't imagine what I wanted with such a big wrapper!! Those crazy foreigners! After moving here to the village, I tried to order them the same way, but was told a couple different times that it just can't be done. Now, I'm confused and thinking "Why not?!" I thought perhaps their machines just weren't big enough here in the village so I never questioned it much. That is until the other day. I wanted to make egg rolls and needed some wraps. The lady who sells them on the street (currently the only place I knew to buy them here), only sells in the morning and now it was afternoon. Determined to have egg rolls for dinner, I took Elise, my oldest daughter, to seek out the lady whom I've been told sells them in her home if I want them at another time of day. Since I didn't know exactly where she lived, only had a general area, we began to go house to house asking. We figured everyone would know where she lived being such a small village. Well......they assumed that this foreigner just wanted to eat dumplings so they directed us to where we could buy them. After all, jiaozi is a Chinese dish and how could a foreigner possibly know how to make such a thing?!! They don't know us very well as we make many, many things from scratch and cook more Chinese food than Western! Anyway, when we finally got out of him that we didn't want to eat them, but make them ourselves, he directed us to a small house. When the lady came out with flour from head to toe, I knew we'd found our place!! When I inquired about getting the wraps, I spotted some square ones!! This is the first time I've ever seen the square ones. We've always had to use round before and piece 4 of them together. Well, you can imagine how much fun that was, which is why we didn't make them very often!! She was talking to a man directly behind the wall or opening so I peaked my head around and BEHOLD I saw the big sheets of dough I'd often seen when we lived in Dalian! No more piecing them together ever again!! Now, it took some talking to get them to give us what we wanted, but we came out of there with what we needed--big sheets of egg roll wraps. Again they thought we must be crazy and wanted to know what we were going to do with such big pieces of dough! People in the states often make fun of me, because I seem to get excited about seemingly little things. But Hey! These are big things for us!! Like the time we spotted Doritos for the first time! I called 2 or 3 people on the phone and told them asking also if they wanted me to pick some up for them too! See the thing is here, you may see it one day and then never see it again so I didn't want to take any chances. Recently the Doritos came to the village here and we were very happy:0 As was all the foreigners. I guess they just didn't sell as many as they'd hoped so we haven't seen them in awhile now. Now we aren't into name brand stuff much, but you can't buy any other type of tortilla or corn chip anywhere except in foreign specialty stores in Beijing. Plenty of corn available here so that's not the problem. The Chinese enjoy plenty of other chip type snacks. In fact they have a large variety. It just doesn't include those types. When we want to have some chips and salsa (which you also have to make home made), you just really need a corn or tortilla type chip. We've also gotten hungry enough in the past to make the tortilla chips ourselves, but frankly, they are a real pain!! So we don't make them anymore either. Guess I'm rambling a bit now, sorry! Anyway, we had a blast making the egg rolls and crab rangoon. Anything you can do that is hands on for the girls, they love. These are usually weekend projects as we just don't have as much time during the week to do such things.

Makin' it Home Made Cont.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anyone for a Dance?!

Friday was a busy day for the Forever Home girls! In the morning they were splashing around the pool, but in the evening they were dancin' the night away! They really enjoy a good dance and the Atlanta team blessed us with some funky tunes. They learned the electric slide and the chicken dance--by far their favorite! The girls had a blast. The Forever Home girls thank you for blessing them with such a good time! I thought you'd enjoy seeing some pictures and videos of them having so much fun. Why, Hannah danced so hard she lost her shoe!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun In The Pool

On Friday we took all the girls to the pool again. I think it is their favorite past time! They don't seem to get enough of the water! This place is very inexpensive and not terribly far away so we've scheduled a trip every other week during these summer months. Hannah is the bravest of all these girls. She's not afraid to get her face wet and absolutely loves the water! She can come up a sputtering and it just doesn't phase her! In fact, she swam so hard that she completely wore herself out. We didn't realize just how much until she got out of the pool and then had trouble walking without assistance. I guess next time we'll have to watch her a bit closer to be sure she doesn't exhaust herself that much before having a good rest. After-all, she will have to work up to such things as she is still recovering from major heart surgery. She probably feels better than she ever has in her life and just wants to do things she always dreamed of doing. Who could blame her?!!

This time, the pool's temperature was much cooler and Jenna took quite some time getting in. She wandered around the pool sticking her foot in to check the temperature I guess to see if it was any warmer here or there. After some time, she finally decided she'd get in, but held tightly to my neck not wanting to completely immerse herself in the water! Once she got acclimated to the temperature, it was great fun! In fact, she had a royal fit when she had to get out!! Serena also enjoyed herself asking me over and over once we returned home when we were going back! Elizabeth also has a great time in the water! All our girls love the water and just can't get enough!

Fun In The Pool Cont.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What to do when it's raining?!!

This week it's been raining a bit. We don't complain much as it's much better than the 106 temps we had just a week or so ago!! What to do when it is raining outside?! Well, we have pretty resourceful girls here and they just pull out the games. They spent much of the afternoon playing cards and board games today.

Mom and the big girls decided to do a little baking. Since peaches are in season here now and dad has been heavily hinting at a peach pie for the past week or so, I made a peach cobbler. The bigger girls and Lois, our teacher here at the Forever Home, made some carrot cake. Now, you're probably wondering what we're going to do with that much desert in one day, huh?!! The girls have decided to do some baking fund-raisers and sell home baked goods to the students and other foreigners at New Day. The peach cobbler, however, that's ours to enjoy!!

Caught tasting the batter after the cake is in the oven!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's a Party!!

Yesterday we celebrated Jenna's birthday. She turned 6!! Happy Birthday Jenna! We began the day by taking all the girls shopping to spend their allowances and thus giving the other girls a chance to buy her a gift if they desired. While we were out shopping, Randy and Elise decorated the house for her birthday. She was quite excited when we returned and saw all the decorations! What's a party without decorations, right?!!

Jenna admiring her birthday decorations.

They even decorated the table and made animal balloons! How beautiful guys!

Part of Shawna's gift to Jenna was some time on a favorite carnival type riding car. It was a wonderful surprise that just added something special to her day!