Today was a big day for the Forever Home girls. They've been excited for days now about our upcoming swimming trip to a big pool in a nearby town. The day finally came and boy, did they have fun!! Hannah is finally well enough to enjoy a little time in the water and she was quite pleased. As soon as we returned home, she began to ask when we were going again! We plan to try and do a trip to the pool every couple of weeks this summer. In the meantime, they can enjoy the smaller pool at New Day. The pool was nice and the fact that we went in the morning verses afternoon, made it sooo much better. We practically had the pool to ourselves, no one got sunburned and it was easy to keep track of our kids without much effort! I think we'll go again at the same time next time. All the girls love the water. For some like Serena and Jenna, it was likely their first time in a pool and they had a blast! It's so much fun to see them enjoying so many firsts!!
Our children, especially the babies, love to sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider. How can you resist little Judah when he mimics a crawling spider with his fingers? We love to watch them play finger games, and we thought that you would too! Sing along if you know the words!
Robert and Ethan are good buddies. It's been cute to watch them lately, because often when they go outside to play, they both run up to the same bike. Ethan climbs on, Robert sits on the back, and they go in circles around the yard. Not sure how long this happy partnership will last, but we think it's cute while it does!
Just recently, Jenna finally blew her first bubble! It also helps to hold the wand a bit closer, but despite that fact, she simply could not blow a bubble until this past weekend. It is something we've worked on for therapy to help strengthen the muscles in her mouth. She does a lot of drooling for someone her age and therefore suggests that she needs extra work on those mouth muscles. Included in that therapy is blowing bubbles, horns, balloons etc. Although it doesn't seem much like work to her, it's just plain fun in her book. Given the fact that she has now learned to blow her first bubble, that means progress. Jenna or us couldn't be happier even for a seemingly small step. Shouldn't all therapy be this fun?!!
In some ways, it seems her heart is the easiest thing to fix. A surgery is fairly straight-forward. Certainly not simple or without risks, but it can be clinically evaluated and treated with proven techniques.
But her other broken heart... it was not so easily mended. Before she came to our foster home, her heart was so weakened that she likely spent most of her time in a crib by herself, rarely interacting with others... We saw the consequences as soon as she arrived.
Raegan was locked in her own little world when she first arrived. She couldn't speak so she communicated mostly by hitting, biting, and spitting. She would bang her head against the wall in frustration. If you tried to touch her hands, feet, or head she'd recoil... as if the lightest touch felt like fire.
But it didn't take long for us to begin to see signs of new life, of transformation, of hope... We began to see a new Raegan. She started speech therapy, and as her vocabulary grew, her frustration lessened, and we began to get to know the sweet little girl that was always inside.
And then she joined preschool, and as she learned new songs and experienced new things, her imagination blossomed. These days, instead of her cries of frustration, we more often heard her infectious laughter echoing through the halls.
She's a bright and inquisitive little girl... curious about everything. She takes her role of big sister quite seriously and loves to help her nannies and the other children. She loves to play pretend games -- "sleeping" on a shelf in the playroom or giving another child a "haircut." Her ideas often lead to other children joining in the fun!
She's already changed so much, but we know there's on thing she needs to reach her full potential...
And right now, her papers are at CCAI, an adoption agency in the USA. They are looking for her family. Might you be Raegan's family? Even if the answer is no, Will you advocate for her? Will you stand in the gap with her until she goes home?
As many of you already know, we lost sweet little Chase this last weekend. He fought valiantly and long, but in the end, his body just began to give up its fight. Chase's brief life had a big impact on people around the world, and we know that even though his life was short, it was filled with significance, purpose, and love.
Today we had a memorial service to celebrate his life. We sang songs, shared stories, and remembered that even when we "lose the fight," the fact that the child did not die unknown and unloved means we had a victory.
After the brief memorial service, we went to the backyard and planted flowers in memory of Chase. When we see them bloom, we'll remember this sweet little boy.
As the ceremony ended we sang "This Is Our Father's World" together, in English and Chinese. It was a beautiful moment of rememberance and joy... particularly as we proclaimed the final verse:
This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father's world: the battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heaven be one.
Recently the Forever Home received a box of goodies. Amongst some of the items was some stickers. After giving each of the girls some things, I looked over at Serena only to find what she'd done with her stickers. Once again, she decided they must be for decorating her face! It's funny that so many things we take for granted are new for some of these older girls. It was even obvious that crayons and coloring was something she'd clearly never done before. While all she knew to do in the beginning was scribble and only used one color, now she is coloring pretty pictures while staying in the lines and now uses more than one color. You go girl!!
What do you do with a group of toddlers terrified by the notion of a haircut when you know there will be haircuts just around the corner?
Well, you get their imaginations fired up, of course!
We set out to dispel fear armed with a pair of plastic scissors, a "barber shop cape," and a vibrating tooth brush. (Hey! It sounds and feels a bit like buzzers, but carries no risk of really bad 3-year-old induced haircuts.)
And before long we had some genuine smiles in the hot seat!
Joshua felt particularly suited to the "barber" role...
But when it came time to be the one getting a haircut, he wasn't so sure if he trusted William to wield the toothbrush safely.
But in the end, the game sunk in... because since then, the kids have been caught staging their own "barber shops" in the playroom with an upside-down lego box for a chair, a small blanket for a cape, and imaginary scissors since no others can be found.
Despite the toothbrush which found its battery sorely worn down, there were no casualties in the haircut game. (That's mostly because we keep the real scissors out of reach...) However, some didn't like the game as much as others. Though we didn't get a picture of him, Samuel cried just as hard in the pretend haircut as he did in the real one the next day!
During preschool each day, we devote some time to help the children develop their fine motor skills. This can include buttoning and unbuttoning extra shirts, zipping and unzipping pouches, and sometimes even making things from play-doh. On one particular day, we gave the kids a handful of beads and a shoelace each and asked them to make some necklaces (another fine motor skill task disguised as fun!).
This is Emma.
Emma was having a little trouble making her necklace. She just couldn't seem to get the beads turned the right way or the shoelace to go all the way through. We encouraged her over and over, saying, "You can do it, Emma! Try again!"
And try she would. See that tongue all twisted in concentration?
Often times, you can hear the phrase "你真棒!" (ni zhen bang!) echoing throughout our foster home. This is roughly translated to, "You're so great!" or, "You're awesome!". We use it a lot to encourage the children and let them know what a great job they're doing and how proud we are of their accomplishments.
After a few minutes, Emma had the necklace-making figured out. As she strung her first bead, she smiled proudly. Before we had the chance to cheer for her, she exclaimed excitedly to herself, "Emma, 你真棒!" ("Emma, you're so great!")
A healthy dose of self-confidence never hurt anyone, right?
Ever since Serena arrived, she greatly desired to learn to ride a bike like the other girls and wanted to know when we'd get her one. Dad told her next month, but with absolutely no concept of time, she asked nearly every day. Well...the day finally came and we went and picked out a bike on Saturday. Since she doesn't have the best of balance combined with some vision problems, we decided she probably needed one with some training wheels. We knew it might be challenging to find one big enough for her that came with training wheels. We did find one on Saturday, however, they needed to go get the extra large training wheels. So, we told her we'd have to pick it up the next day,on Sunday. She was so excited to try out her new bike!! All was well until a little while later when the training wheels just could no longer hold her weight and it didn't help that she kept leaning to one side. They gave way and bent under the weight! Although we tried to explain to her that bikes just aren't made for training wheels for someone her age, she decided it was just a bu hao (bad) bike! I guess only time will tell if she learns to ride the bike without training wheels.
Adahlyn has joined her adoptive family. For those who are interested, they are keeping a blog of their journey but it is private so it is isn't listed with our other extended family members on this blog. However, her family said they'd be happy to give the password to people interested in following Adahlyn's journey home, so if you'd like the password and address to their site, please e-mail her Momma Alycia at alycia.abox(at)gmail.com. (Obviously the (at) should be replaced with @.)
Well, Camille has at least mastered the first syllable of "ayi" (auntie). We think her special spin on this all-important word is really adorable, and especially like Melody's extra-long-mouth-opening-where-no-sound-emits-but-she-still-thinks-she's-saying-it part. Aren't babies learning to speak the absolute greatest?!
About a month ago, Joshua had surgery on his leg. Afterwards, the doctors placed a cast on his leg and he'll have to wear that for a while. It's a bit clunky and makes it inconvenient for him to get around, but ultimately we hope it will help him be able to walk. One day in preschool, our preschool teacher had a great idea. Who says that casts have to be plain white and boring? We took out our bucket of markers and gave one to each child-- Joshua included. For the next few minutes, everyone worked hard to make sure Joshua's cast would bring happiness (and color!) to him and all who saw it!
Here's Joshua giving his "new" cast 2 thumbs up! What do you think?
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.
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