Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Precious Giggle

Her needs are great. The things that come naturall1y to most of us, like breathing, require great effort on her part. She suffers so much and fights so hard.

But she knows how to smile. Despite the weariness of her little body, her face still lights up in happiness. She beams when we tell her how beautiful she is. Sometimes she laughs and it takes all of her strength. She begins to cough and almost chokes on her laughter.

That's when we're reminded of how precious her giggle really is.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Blowing Bubbles

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Science Class

Elizabeth got to be a zoo keeper for a week! A water zoo that is!

In her Science book, she had a project to make a water zoo. She was to gather some hay or straw and place it into water for about a week to see what kind of animals she could grow. Then we got out the microscope and checked out all the microscopic animals she'd grown over the past week. It was a pretty cool project and she had a lot of fun doing it as well as learning some things she didn't know before.

What luck! Jenna happened to be home that day since her teacher was not feeling too well. She also thought it fun to check things out under the microscope.
Monday, March 28, 2011

First Day of School!

After an exciting, cake-filled birthday party last week, Samuel came to preschool for the first time today!

Samuel has been dreaming about this day for a long time. For the last year and a half he has heard the singing and watched the big kids go by to put their snack plates away every day. Sometimes we found Samuel pattering down the hall to peer into the preschool room. Sometimes we found that he had somehow managed to avoid the watchful eyes and was actually in the preschool room! Well, beginning today, Samuel's dream will have come true. He is now an official preschool student!

"Where are you going?" I asked him as he walked down the hall with his nanny.

"Shang ke!" he said. ("going to class")

"Shang ke, shang ke," he repeated to himself as he entered the classroom. A grin spread itself across his face.

Playtime, snack and singing. Everything was new and everything was fun! It took a little convincing to persuade him that his fruit was to be eaten before his cookie. Oh, and getting up from the table during snack to play with the balloons isn't allowed either - sorry! When it was time to go, though, the afternoon had gone by too quickly.

Samuel had a great time and you can be sure that he'll be back tomorrow. He doesn't plan to miss a day of class ever!
Friday, March 25, 2011

Shang Ke Time!

Joshua is smart. He knows his shapes, colors, numbers and more. The amazing thing? He knows them in English! Ruth, one of our special interns, has been working with him daily. We call the little sessions "One-on-one", the children call them "shang ke" (class time), and our developmental charts call them progress! It's been amazing to see what the children learn they can do after getting a little bit more focused attention. Just about every child in the foster home has a class time where they work with their special "teacher". Really they're just playing, but it's directed play that targets areas like fine motor, gross motor, speech etc. We've seen amazing results and Joshua is no exception!

The other day Ruth held up a ball and asked Joshua, "What color is this." He thought for a second then quickly replied, "Rectangle!" This made us laugh as we marveled at his amazing pronunciation and vocabulary.

He has put two triangles together and called it a "diamond." If you tell him that you love him he will reply, "I love you too!"

Here's a little video that Ruth captured of their class time the other day.

Untitled from New Day Foster Home on Vimeo.

There is no doubt that Joshua is a special boy. He has a kind heart and sweet spirit and we're sure that one day, he will make one special family very happy. When that day comes there will be no words for his joy. 
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Daughters

I thought of her the morning I first held my daughter, but I didn't yet know her name. Cradling new, beautiful, perfect life in my arms, I rejoice. Yet in that moment I remember: the sweet often has the bitter, and I think about the babies born that day who would not remain in their mothers' arms. Faceless and nameless, yet no less precious than my sweet Cora Eve.

Vivian... that is the baby's name. Cora's birthday-sister.

Her mother is a sister of sorts to me… Labor bore down on her at the same time it bore down on me, and life's first breath seared both baby's lungs for the first time on that cold January morning. For nine months, their lives formed in much the same way. Darkness, warmth, a mother's heart beating close. But on that day - the 5th of January - these two little girls' lives took very different turns.

I do not know how a tragedy begins, but I do know it must have started in love. As my body swelled and belly fluttered, so did hers. The heaving sickness, the aching back, the feeling that your body is no longer your own… This journey to life is not completed by accident. Life is far too easy to end, so when Vivian gulped air for the first time it must mean she was birthed in love. And for nine short days, maybe she remained there.

I want to know the mother's story. Beyond the hard cold facts of "Baby girl born January 5th. Abandoned at a store on January 14th." So much lies between those dates - a whole lifetime, really. The only life this mother knew with her daughter. Nine short days. I know how I soaked in every detail of my baby in those same days; memorizing Cora in the darkness of early morning feedings - the shape of her nose, the curve of her toes, and the way she nestled into my chest as she slept. I can still hear the sighs and groans; the little snores of a fresh babe recovering from the work of being born.

Did she have those moments, too? Quiet moments in her room, alone with her baby? Did she imagine a future for her little girl? Was it different than the one they both face now? In those early days, did she know that a painful separation was only days ahead? And baby Vivian… did she rest in the comfort of her mother's arms? Did she hear the whispers of love spoken softly in her ear? Does she carry that with her today? If her heart weren't broken, would this story have ended differently?

Driving home from a friend's house on a cold, windy night in early February, we passed darkened storefronts and shuttered shops. Out of nowhere, the image of a small box sitting on a step came to mind, filled with blankets and a most precious cargo… and then I imagined Cora in the box, wrapped tightly in a blanket to shield from the cutting wind. Unimaginable, really. A nightmare beyond description. The pain of it made me shake my head; to shake the thoughts away, and I reached over and touched her hand… felt her fingers curl around mine. But this nightmare is Vivian's reality; her mother's reality. For that is where she was placed. In front of a shop… her newborn fingers grasping wildly in the cold air, but no mother's finger to hold. Unmoored, unconnected… abandoned.

Who left her there? How did they walk away? I wonder what happened to their heart as they turned away… I know part of it must have been left in a box on a shop's step. Did her mother know what was happening? Was she the one walking away or was it another who did the deed? Maybe she had been told the baby was dead? Did she get to say goodbye? How? Why? My soul aches… it is so unfair! I shout it to the heavens. The scream may not be audible, but it comes from my deepest places. This is not right! Babies and mamas need each other! What drives a mother, a father, a family to wrapping up their baby in a blanket, putting her in a box, and setting her on the front step of a shop? How do they ever recover from that?

I think about her mother on the tenth day. On the eleventh and the twelfth… Her chest swollen with milk, swollen with the life she is supposed to be able to share with her daughter. Yet her daughter is not there to receive it… Her body still raw and exhausted from birth, yet her daughter is not there to fill the hours of resting with the sweetest of joys. And Vivian… sweet Vivian. I dress Cora in a pink dress from my infancy and a bonnet and cardigan knit by a great-grandmother's gnarled fingers for me, 29 years ago. A legacy stitched with love… her story in creamy yarn and frilly pink organza. Cora will always know her history. Vivian will never know… she'll never even know the name her mother called her; she'll never wear her grandmother's dress. Cora has a book filled with photos of her first days, of the many people who love her. Vivian has a case file. Cold, hard facts telling the saddest of stories…

Sadness tastes like anger in this kind of broken story, but I know there are only victims in this tragedy. Unable to blame, unable to point fingers, unable to know the why or imagine the how… I lay it all down and let my heart instead turn to hope, the only place it can really go…

There is always hope… His work of redemption in a broken and bruised world. We only need to look to see the goodness… to see the places He dwells and moves. Vivian was abandoned, but she was also found. She now lives surrounded by love in a small foster home on the outskirts of Beijing. And someday I believe she will be adopted into a family of her own. But just because the hard work of redemption is transforming this young life doesn't wipe away the tragedy of her beginning. And as I cradle my own daughter, my heart grieves for Vivian and her mother - who have both endured a loss that defies my words. A loss that leaves me aching… hoping and praying for a day when there will be no more orphans.

Wordless Wednesday: Boys in a Bubble

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Help Spread the Word

We wanted to let you know that this lovely girl, Hannah, is now available for adoption!

While we rarely know where a child's paperwork is located, we were blessed to know where her's is. If you are interested in checking her file out, you may find her on CCAI's (Chinese Children Adoption International) website under "Waiting Child Program, Child Profiles." If you do not have a password already, you'll have to request one to see her file.

Hannah is a very sweet girl who has made so much progress since coming to New Day. She's outgoing and loves to laugh. Some of her favorite activities include, bubbles, riding bikes, play dough, is great at puzzles, absolutely LOVES swimming, dress-up, loves to help cook, is very fond of pets, and likes to play the Wii.

Hannah has attended preschool here at New Day since she came, learning so many things that preschoolers need to learn. Recently it became obvious that she was outgrowing preschool and ready to move on to bigger things. A teacher was hired to help begin to teach her one-on-one and now she goes to school each day in a classroom at New Day shared by Serena and her teacher. Hannah is learning things like how to name and write her alphabet, what sound each letter makes, basic math, as well as so many other things children learn when they begin school. We are so proud of all the progress she has made and love seeing her happy and we know she has a bright future.

Though we love her dearly, we know the best thing for Hannah is for her to have a forever family all her own. Won't you help spread the word about her?! We'd love to see her matched with a family!
Monday, March 21, 2011

Do You Dare?

A few tales from our fabulous trip to the Beijing Natural History Museum:

Jace and his buddy Ben were having a blast checking out all of the dinosaurs, fossils and other animals in the museum. When they spotted a T-Rex with opened jaws just couldn't resist being boys and had to pop their heads into its mouth for a picture. Ben did it first. Jace thought that it was pretty cool, "Me too!" he said. Ben lifted him up, but as Jace's head rose higher and the plastic teeth of the T-Rex grew closer he decided that he was close enough.

We told you the story about Philip and the Shark a few months ago. A few weeks ago we shared the tale of him and the bunnies. Today it's time for part three. Philip and the Dinosaur.

Philip couldn't sit still on the bus. He exclaimed, "I'm going to see the dinosaurs today! I can't wait!"

"Are you afraid of dinosaurs, Philip?" Gan Lu asked him.

"No, I'm not afraid!"

"Are you afraid of sharks?"





"No, of course not!"


"No! I'm not afraid. Noah is, though. He's afraid of them now. When we go in and see them, I don't think that he'll be afraid anymore. But he's afraid of them now."

As it turned out, Noah did just fine. It was Philip who was afraid! We tried to coax him to get closer, pose for a picture, touch one gently... but he refused. He wasn't going near one of those scary creatures. He wasn't even going to look at them!

Regardless of his fear, Philip still had a great time. He really enjoyed looking at all of the different fossils. Life-sized dinosaurs just aren't his thing yet.
Friday, March 18, 2011

New Day South: Renee's 1st Birthday!

Another birthday party at New Day South!  Renee wasn't quite sure if she liked the taste of something this sweet, but it sure was fun to play with..

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Pinching Allowed!

Teaching American holidays can become a bit tricky on March the 17th. How do we teach the kids about St. Patrick's Day and it's traditions without teaching them to pinch? The solution is easy: dress everyone in green! Thankfully, most of the staff got the memo and we were able to avoid sore arms and successfully teach the children the color green.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Timothy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Girl and Her Dogs

Man's Girl's best friend.

Jenna seems to really favor dogs. Of course, she loves our family pet as all the girls do. However, it seems to go deeper than that. She often loves to play with some of our neighbors' dogs when they go out to play. This particular day, I had to just sit back and watch, then laugh! This dog was a bit intimidating at first. After all, he is nearly as big as she is! One can't be too careful!! While she clearly wanted to play with him, he was just SOOO BIG!! She'd go around his back side and try to pet him, but as soon as he'd turn around, she'd run. It was quite amusing! After some time, the owner offered her the leash. Although she readily took it, as soon as he'd get too close, she'd drop the leash and then run! After awhile, she became much more at ease when she figured out he was friendly and not about to try and eat her. Then it was just pure fun!

Even during a short nap time, she isn't far from man's girl's best friend. Though Jenna doesn't take many naps these days, every now and then when she feels tired, she crawls up on the couch to catch a few z's....usually alongside her best friend if possible :)
Monday, March 14, 2011

The Greatest Fun

Toys are fun to play with. Books are fun to read. Stuffed animals are fun to snuggle with but, there is an even greater fun.

New toys.

New toys come in many different forms. Sometimes they are found under the sofa after being hidden for months, weeks, or even just days! Sometimes they come as hand-me-downs from friends, or as yardsale purchases. Regardless of where the new toys come from, they always cause excitement in a child and spark the fire of their imagination. New toys are opportunities for adventures to places never before traveled.

Some friends of NDFH in China donated these fun new outdoor toys for our courtyard. We set them up the other day, then let the children loose to play! They had a great time!

We couldn't have wiped their grins off if we tried! The children were delightful to watch! It wasn't just their excitement over the new toys that made us smile, but the way that the children played with each other. They took turns and shared (most of the time) and laughed and smiled (all of the time). 

The kids all love playing with new toys, but even without them they have a good time. They love to play with each other because they are best friends. And while new toys certainly are a lot of fun, it seems to us that playing with your best friend is the greatest fun of all.
Friday, March 11, 2011

Off to See the Dinosaurs!

Update: In less that 24 hours the field trip was fully funded. I'm blown away. You guys are amazing! Trip sponsors, keep your eyes out for pictures of our trip in your inbox the 21st!

The kids in preschool have just started an exciting unit about Dinosaurs. We like to make the lessons as real and as tangible as possible. The buckets of toy dinosaurs will be pulled out. The children will be drawing, painting and coloring pictures of dinosaurs for the next few weeks and we'll probably dress up and act like them too!

We were thrilled when we found out that there is a Natural History Museum very close by! It's close enough that we plan to bring  over 30 children Friday, March 18th, for a morning of romping and roars. For every field trip we strive to have a 1:1 ratio of adults to children. The children get more attention, don't get as wiped out and learn a lot more! The cost for this field trip is $600 USD. This covers the admission to the museum, transportation and lunch for the children and their buddy. It also includes a 3D movie about dinosaurs that the children will get to watch (which won't be too scary - we promise!).

We're excited about this trip and with your help we can get there. To contribute you can make a donation via PayPal using the ChipIn box here on the blog (please make a note that the donation is for the field trip). If you want to contribute, but prefer to send a check, please e-mail for details. After the field trip, we will e-mail all of the sponsors pictures of the adventure that they made possible!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celebrating the Firsts: Angela

We rumored a few weeks ago that Angela might have taken her monumental "first steps". There's no doubting the rumor now. It's been confirmed again and again and we're so proud! Watch the video and see them for yourself!

Angela Walks! from New Day Foster Home on Vimeo.

Who can help but be excited after hearing her precious giggles?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Eliana's Giggle

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Dressed Up!

What beautiful girls!


Need I say any more?!
Monday, March 7, 2011

What I Want To Be...

 Dress-up is a time of dreaming. It's an opportunity to become anything you want to be. It's a chance to be silly and pretend that you are part of another world.

We dressed Rosie up in an outfit that made her look like she came from a far away village in China. She's been doing so well lately. Walking about on her own, exploring and beginning to try new things, we're excited to see where her "fighter spirit" takes her.

Lindsey was dressed up as a beautiful princess. She always carries herself so regally and elegantly that this was the perfect outfit for our little empress.

 Jace and Vincent tried on multiple outfits. They're still not quite sure what they want to be when they grow up, but chef and elf sounded pretty good the other day. Specifically, Vincent is the Muffin Man. He thought that, after singing the song so many times, it was about time that someone actually made some muffins. They were yummy!

This picture was not Daniel or Lindsey's idea. Lindsey thought that she was merely trying on another pretty dress, and Daniel was rather disappointed at the lack of muscles in this new costume. The previous costumes he tried on were all of the superhero variety. Neither Daniel nor Lindsey were too concerned about this picture, but in 10-20 years they may regret their innocent compliance.

Many more picture in the scrapbook!

Ethan's family has asked us to share their family's blog with you - which we are very happy to do! The link will also be in our extended family section.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Philip's Fear

There was a group of happy children playing outside the other day. They were enjoying the sunshine, trying out new bikes and running from bunnies.

Well, at least Philip was. And he actually didn't run.

The animals in the backyard are the children's pride and joy. Tom the dog, Goat the... goat, and our two fluffy bunnies who have probably been named multiple times by multiple children. We understand why some of the children would be afraid of Tom, he can be pretty overwhelming when he really wants to play with you. The goat doesn't come out that often, and even if he did, we doubt that his gentleness would frighten the kids. The bunnies, though, we're sure that none of the kids are afraid of them. At least we were.

The brown bunny was brought out to pet first. Philip and Joel were sitting together when Joel started petting the bunny. Philip hesitantly reached out his hand for a quick touch. He jerked it back quickly after brushing the fur for a second. "That's enough. I don't want him anymore. I'm scared." he said. The bunny went back to Joel who continued to stroke its silky back.

Philip perked up after a bit. "Where's the black one? I want to pet the black one, not the brown one. "  The black rabbit was brought out, but upon being set face to face with him, Philip decided again that he wasn't up to it. He was scared and the rabbit needed to go home.

We thought that the scene was funny, especially considering the way Philip talked about sharks a few months ago.
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Charmed, I'm Sure

There's someone new in the downstairs playroom. Caleb, after recovering amazingly from a miraculous heart surgery, is healthy and strong enough to move downstairs! Recently it seems that he's been quite the novelty among the ladies. We always knew that he was a charmer.

Jayden was quite interested in the newcomer as well. She peered at him, intent on discovering who he was and what he was doing in her playroom. Deciding that the handsome lad was harmless, she gave his head a little pat - just as she'd seen her nannies do to other little ones.

Patting his head, she considered his potential as a playmate. He passed. Her patting intensified as she made friends until the nanny had to stop her. "Be gentle, Jayden! He's little. Don't hit him." She stopped... maybe she would have to find someone else to romp with until he had finished eating.


Ajay, who still spends his time upstairs, comes down quite often to play with the other children. He had missed his roommate, Caleb, but didn't think too much of it. The other day, though, while playing with his favorite toys downstairs, someone got in his way. Ajay was about to crawl around the little boy sitting in his path when he took a look at his face.

Ajay stared.

Then he engulfed Caleb in a bear hug.

After giving Caleb's head a little pat Ajay moved along, oblivious to our chuckles at the cute scene.


Could they be any cuter?