Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Therapy Tuesday: Violet's New Friend

Learning to talk is something that takes some children longer than others.  We are blessed to have a wonderful Speech Therapist, Lillian, who is able to give our children some extra help with their speech development if they seem to need it.

Violet recently turned two, has started coming to Preschool, and has also begun Speech Therapy sessions with Lillian.  Looks like Lillian is pretty fond of Violet already...

They've been making good use of a mirror in their therapy sessions.

What do you see, Violet?

Looks like they might be practicing the word 'nose' ('bizi' in Chinese)...

Good work so far, Violet and Lillian.  We wish you many fun and productive therapy sessions. We look forward to hearing to hearing all that Violet is going to say!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sweet Selah

Selah arrived at New Day South in January this year, and this Summer she came up to Beijing to have surgery to treat severe heart disease.  She was here with us for a short time before she went into hospital, and once she was well enough to leave the hospital she returned here.  The decision has been made that she will stay here with us in Beijing, as she will need follow-up hospital appointments.

We asked Catherine, one of our regular Summer volunteers, to write about the time that she spent with Selah.

She arrived back at the foster home on Monday, July 7th following her heart surgery.  We were all anticipating her arrival with great excitement and couldn't wait to meet this heart-warrior beauty.

When I first met Selah, I was just amazed at her resilience.  She has soulful eyes and a dainty little body.  Just coming from the hospital, she was quiet and somewhat somber as her body was still in recovery mode and quite weak.

The first few days, I barely heard her utter a word.  She sat on a pillow and her nanny lovingly looked over her, bringing toys to her pillow and interacting with her.  Selah was still weak and a little shaky, but made progress each day both physically and emotionally.  At that point, Selah would smile, but she was particular about who she would give her smiles away to!  She was still learning her surroundings and didn't like people to get to close to her until she became familiar with them.

By the following Monday, Selah had turned an amazing corner!  She was no longer shaking when holding a toy, cookie, or block, but was feeding herself and even throwing a ball across the room!  She has the most contagious laugh, and really belly laughs if you play peek-a-boo with her or talk to her in a funny voice.

As Selah has gained strength, she has decided she wants her independence back and began walking just a few days after she arrived home.  At first she was very cautious, holding onto both her nanny's hands, then gradually just one, and now no hands at all!  Her nanny will walk right behind her and encourage her every step of the way...now onto moving around a bit more in the playroom.  She was hesitant at first, but the other day, I noticed that she really wanted to join in a game some of the kids were playing with a musical toy.  I called to her and asked "ni yao ma?"  ("do you want to?").  She nodded her head yes and so I said "lai" ("come') and motioned for her to come.  She looked at me for a moment and then crawled right over into my lap, clapped her hands, and began playing.  What a huge accomplishment for her!  All the nannies in the room were cheering and saying "Great job!!!".

Selah LOVES music and will happily listen to you sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" many times in a row!  I used to have to point to each body part for her, but now that she is strong and comfortable, she does this all on her own.  When the song is over, she signs for "more" and will say "more" too.  Often times she will want to include her belly in the song, saying "duzi" and pointing to her tummy so you can tickle her.

Not only does she love music, but she highly enjoys reading books as well.  We have many "touch and feel" books in our playroom and Selah loves to turn the page and touch and feel the different textures.  The animal books are always her favorite and if you tell her the animal name, she will repeat it loudly in the most heart-melting-sweetest-voice you ever, ever heard. She will even act out many of the motions that go with the pictures, especially if it is a lion or tiger or rabbit.  Just this week, she decided she was ready to see the rabbits we have in the backyard in person and not just in a book.  She was sitting on her nanny's lap outside and I told her I would be going to have a look at them and asked if she would like to join me-she smiled, clapped her hands, and then lifted her arms up and said "bao bao" ("carry").  I carried her back there and the rabbits were all hiding so she called to them "tuzi- guo lai!" ("rabbits, come here").  And what do you know?  The mama came hoping to the edge of the cage and Selah was in heaven!  She watched the mama for several minutes and had the best time.  It brought me so much joy to watch her experience new things and see the world just open up before her.  I can't wait to see what her future in this world holds for her. I think it's lots of big things!

It has been such a privilege to get to know Selah.  I can't help but just stand in awe at this living, breathing, miracle of a girl.  She is smart, adorable, joyful, determined, independent, beautiful, curious, and more.  She holds an incredibly special place in my heart and has her tender spirit wrapped around my finger.  Though it breaks my heart to return to America and not see her daily, Selah closed out our time together just as she says good-bye to me everyday- with a big wave, a little "zai jian" ("goodbye"), and a kiss blown from her hand. There is nothing sweeter!

Thank you, Catherine, for the time that you spent entertaining, encouraging and loving Selah.

You may not be able to come spend your Summer here like Catherine did, but there are other ways that you can be involved in changing the lives of children like Selah.  Now that she has transferred from New Day South, Selah needs sponsors to help cover the costs of her daily care.  Also, we have a big bill from her heart surgery Would you like to be part of Selah's miracle?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

NDNorth: A blanket can change a life. Really!

Remember the the therapists that came to visit us last month? The group therapy session instruction that they did was amazing, but one of their other huge contributions to our work happened when we unpacked a few donations that we had been saving. Inside of our 'Mary Poppins bag of treasures' this time were four lovely hand-crocheted blankets from Dana. We told the nannies that the blankets were for the then four (this was before Kristiana joined our room) children in our care. The babies were ready for naps so the blankets got put to good use right away...

Have you ever seen anything more precious!?

The therapists had different ideas when they saw the blankets. No more sleeping! It's time to get moving.

We started with Timothy, who has had very little neck strength since he was about a month old. The beginning of any new "workout" is never all that fun... but don't worry, it got easier!

Soon, we had Timothy propped up onto his rolled up blanket, looking at his handsome little self in the mirror. The orphanage's therapists were impressed with the improvement they saw in him in such a short time with the use of just a blanket.

But wait! It gets even cuter...

Hannah is another of our littlest ones -she's the youngest baby in our project, actually - and she has some stiffness in her arms. She was already a pro at lifting her head up, but would being propped up onto a blanket help her learn to use her hands and play better? Let's find out.

Hooray! And then Timothy, watching little sister Hannah, decided that he needed to learn how to play as well.

Soon, the two of them were having propped-up-on-blankets pow-wows while playing with toys.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the orphanage, the nannies were inspired! They were watching the transformation of Timothy and Hannah and marveling over the new-found abilities of these special-needs babies, and decided to adopt our "blanket method" with the other babies in the orphanage!

Bless their hearts. 

When we first saw Baijie, the nanny who was on duty in the infant room that day, with the tiny little ones propped up on huge quilts, we giggled proudly. Because the blankets were way too thick for the little ones... and yet we were so proud because she was actually trying! If you've ever worked in an orphanage setting before you'll know that it's really, really hard to introduce new things. It takes a long time to build enough trust for the orphanage staff to actually start imitating your methods. We helped Baijie unroll the blankets a little bit so that the babies were doing more lifting and less flying, and asked if they had any smaller blankets. "No, what we need are more like Timothy's and Hannah's. We don't have any like that."

Well, we do! A box had just arrived full of blankets collected by a group in the US and we were able to pass out some much-more-safely-sized blankets to the orphanage. 

Just look at that them!

...and all because one woman crocheted four little blankets, and because a therapist recommended rolling the blanket up. Making a difference is easier than you thought.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

NDSouth: Changes

2014 has been a big year for New Day South. Since the first of the year, six new children have arrived in our care. One of our favorite things is to watch the change that happens right before our eyes. You saw in last weeks post, the changes in Chloe. We thought you might want to see the changes in our other 2014 arrivals. 

First we have Grady, who arrived in January. Here he is then:

Here is Grady today.

Amy also arrived in January:

Here is Amy now.

Anna arrived in March:

Here is Anna now.

Thad arrived in April:

Here is Thad now.

Next we have our temporary medical care girls, Polly and Bing Bing. 

Polly arrived in May:

Here is Polly now.

Bing Bing arrived in June:

Bing Bing today.

We love seeing the changes in these sweet children when they receive love and good medical care. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sweet Little Friends

They make a very sweet little pair.  Iris is twice Hope's age, but is the smaller of the two.  They will often be seen lying next to each other in the baby room and they are incredibly cute together.


Iris giving Hope a cuddle...?

...or is she trying to steal her hair-ribbon?

"Eww, who put a BOY between us?!"

"Oh, another boy..."

Don't worry, Hope - you are *Loved* too...

...and don't worry, Iris - everyone says you're *Adorable* as well!

More wardrobe envy...!

Iris and Hope even got to go to a concert together.

And a cooking class?  Not really, but don't they look adorable?

So, sweet girls, here's to your growing friendship.  We can't wait to see what kind of mischief you're going to get up to together...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NDSouth: Hayden's Special Day

Today is a special day for our sweet Hayden. Today, he celebrates his 4th birthday. We are amazed at the progress and huge strides this little guy has made in the year and a half he has been with us. 

Recently Hayden received a birthday package. Why is this package so special? Not counting Christmas packages, this is the first package Hayden has ever received.

Hayden, what could be in there? Obviously he is stumped as well!

Wow, look at all those toys and goodies! 

Hayden was so thrilled that he broke out in his "happy dance." Yes, little boy, it is exciting for sure and very "dance worthy."

He continues to look and look at all of his treasures. For a little boy who came to us with nothing, this is a pretty big deal.

Handsome boy, you are loved and cherished by so many people from all over the world.

Happy 4th Birthday, Hayden! We anticipate this upcoming to year to be even more wonderful than the last. Our hope is that maybe this is the year you will receive the gift you have been wanting all along, the gift of a family. 

Thank you so very much, Meyer family, for making Hayden's day! His smile says it all.