Sunday, October 13, 2013

Down syndrome Awareness Month

October 13,2013 

Many of you know that my youngest brother Jameson has Down syndrome. We found out when he was just 3 days old (Nov.2011). Backing up just a bit I want to start where I first fell in love and my heart was opened to the world of people blessed with this extra 21st chromosome. When I was in Chin@ on my second trip in spring 2011, I met a little boy. This little boy's name is Lucas and he was 18 months old at the time. This little man became my buddy during my time visiting in Chin@. We spent lots of time giggling and playing just like you would with any toddler. Little did I know that God was preparing my heart for the blessing that was about to arrive in our family. It was not until after I had returned home that my mom found out she was pregnant, we were all super excited. Jameson was due January 2012 but decided that he just did not want to miss the crazy holiday season. He arrived in November 2011 just before Thanksgiving after my mom had spent a month on hospital bed rest trying to keep him in a little longer. He weighed just 3lbs 8oz when he as born and was a wee little thing. I will never forget those first moments seeing him. The first time I was able to touch his little hand ( at this point we did not know only my parents could touch him). I will forever remember those moments. Just as I will remember Thanksgiving of 2011 when I was back in the NICU with Jameson and my dad looked at me and said that the test results came back saying Jameson had Down syndrome. Not, one bit of me was upset or angry at God. I immediately went back to all my memories of Lucas just months before. I said "he is going to be just like Lucas, special". I would not trade Jameson for anything he has been such a wonderful blessing to the whole family and our lives will never be the same with out him. Through Jameson we have been able to spread awareness to so many about Ds. It is amazing the power this little man has on people. We have also made some wonderful friends through our journey over the past 22 months. I can't wait to see what God has planned for Jameson and I know there are a ton more hearts just waiting to be touched. October is National Down syndrome Awareness Month and I wanted to share this story along with some pictures of sweeties that I LOVE who have been blessed with a extra 21st chromosome. I hope you enjoy the pictures!!

I just love these special features! 

Photo credit to Stephanie H. 

Photo credit to Stephanie H.

Photo credit to Stephanie H.

Artwork done by Stephanie H.

Happy Down syndrome awareness month! 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dinner with the Ayi

One of the special things I got to experience in China was going to a local Chinese home. This was not just anyone’s home but, the home to one of my favorite Ayi’s at New Hope. She was on the cleaning staff and took care of the side of the house my room was on and the preschool room. I saw her a lot and even though we did not speak the same language we were able to figure out what the other was saying. She would also come and check to make sure I went down to eat lunch if I was busy working on something in the preschool room.

When Stephanie and Callie arrived it made it a lot easier to communicate with her as they spoke Chinese. Right before Stephanie left she invited us girls to come over for dinner at her house. This was such a fun and wonderful experience and I don’t think I have ever had so much food!

We started off by eating ice cream….yes, you read that right we had dessert before dinner! She went to the store and bought like 40 different types of ice cream because she did not know what we liked. This was so sweet of her and she was so funny pulling all the ice cream out of the bag. I had a yummy chocolate and vanilla one.

After our ice cream she wanted to give us a tour of her house. This was the house that her husband grew up in. She lives with her mother-in-law, son and daughter-in- law and husband. She shared lots of old pictures with us of when they were younger and also all the upgrades they have made to the house. It was such a beautiful place. We were also able to look at the wedding and engagement pictures of her oldest son and daughter-in-law. They were cute and fun!

We walked out and saw all the veggies and fruits they grow in their garden and were even sent home with a bag full of fresh goodies. Her husband is the cook of the house and made us a super yummy meal. I have included pictures of all the yumminess.

My favorite was the bread stuffed with egg and chives. I think I ate 3 of them as she kept putting more on my bowl. We ate and ate and ate some more!!! We enjoyed listening to her tell stories about working at New Hope over the past 8 years. After we convinced her that we could not eat another bite we headed over to the living room.

Once we sat down they brought in plates of fruit! I was like oh-no more food. We learned that it is tradition to eat some fresh fruit after a big meal in China. So there we went finding more room for some fruit. We were able to get a group picture of everyone. This was so funny because I did not realize my timer was set to take 4 pictures in a row. By the third one everyone was laughing at the fact it was still taking pictures.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening and she was so glad that we came. One of the things she shared with us was that we were the first people to come over from New Hope. I would have not traded that evening for anything and I am so thankful that it all worked out and will treasure that memory forever. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Goodbyes :(

August 5,2013
Goodbyes or see you laters never get easier no matter how many times you say them. When I said goodbye to the ones I loved at home 10 weeks ago, I knew I would be able to talk and "see" them while I was away. I also knew they would be there when I returned. 
These past 2 weeks at New Hope have been hard as I have has to say many goodbyes. I had to say goodbye to 2 of my preschoolers as they left to become part of their forever family! I had to say goodbye to two other preschoolers as they went to other special care units. I had to say "see you later" to my new friend and roommate from the last month Stephanie as she headed back to CA. 
Marisol is now with her family! 

Alex left for one of the other special care units 

Sophie Joy left for one of the other special care units 
Liam is now with his forever family

Callie, Stephanie and me 

Today was the hardest of all my goodbyes. Saying bye to all the kids that have stolen my heart over the last 10 weeks. My precious 17 preschoolers that I have has the honor of teaching this summer. Saying goodbye to the Ayi's that even with the language barrier I have grown to love as well. Saying goodbye to friends that I have made during my time at New Hope : Robin, Katie, Joyce , Mikey , Becca, Jona,Kristine and Callie. They have all had a special place in making my 10 weeks in China amazing. 
With Jona and Kristine 

With Callie 

This morning I got up and went to do my last bit of preschool before making my rounds to the nurseries. The boys were in a super silly mood but it was just special to sit and hear them sing their favorite songs one more time. They all colored me one last picture to take on the plane. I was doing good on not letting the waterworks take over. That was until I walked out ,and started to say goodbye in my favorite room "the Bunny room". All but 3 little girls in this room attend one of my classes. As soon as I started saying goodbye to David and Eleanor my fight to hold back tears was over. 
My crazy morning class!

Sweet Eleanor arrived just this past week an she is a tiny 11 pound , 33months old (yes you read that right....she is just shy of 3yrs old) little girl that both Callie and I fell in love with. We were the ones that picked her English name which is Eleanor Grace. 

Eleanor Grace 

Soon the nannies were handing me tissues and asking if I was leaving. It made kinda easier as most of the kids were getting ready to go eat snack so I just had to give quick hugs and kisses from their high chairs. 
Kisses for Elizabeth 

Saying bye to Hayes! 

One last goodbye to Eleanor 

I had already said goodbye to David in his nursery but I had to get some last kisses and hugs! 

My favorite Ayi is the one of the cleaning ladies. She had Stephanie, Callie and I over for dinner last week. (Will blog about that in another post. )She has been so kind and always makes sure we eat! When she saw me crying as I was saying goodbye to the kids she asked if I was leaving. She even started tearing up which got me going more. She told me that I can fly back whenever I want and she would always remember me. 

These goodbyes were all different then when I said goodbye at the airport 10 weeks ago. Even though in my heart I know this will not be my last trip to China. I will never know which children will still be there when I return. Whether they have left for adoption , left to be with The Lord, or have returned to their home orphanages. I pray for their comfort through surgeries, changes, and I pray that each one will find a forever family. For me I also pray that I will be able to connect in some way with as many as possibles families. 
I am looking forward to big hugs and lots of love from those I left 10 weeks ago! I am asking for prayers for a smooth transition as I go home. Also, for my heart that will always have a piece in China.