Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another Day, Another Birthday!

Today we celebrated the second birthday of M.! 

M. has quite the history and has made significant progress since arriving at Casa de Amor. To give you a bit of background... Both of her parents are in jail, and she was born a week after her mom was arrested. In Bolivia, children can live in the jails with their mothers, so she lived in jail with her mom until March of this year. When she was almost a year and a half old, her mom decided to send her to Casa de Amor (She knew Jennifer, so she had an idea of where she was sending her daughter). She was very delayed, developmentally, and wasn't crawling, talking, walking, etc. The hope was that being in a home, she would have opportunities to catch up in these areas... and what progress she has made!

When I arrived in late May, M. was still pretty delayed. She seemed to spend most of her time in the spot where a tía sat her down and didn't really know how to play. She would hold toys but just stare at them. If she did want to move, she did a sort of army crawl... dragging herself along. She didn't really have a desire to interact with anyone or anything though, so she didn't really care about crawling.

After a LOT of work with physical therapists, M. is a different child. Watching her transformation has been nothing short of amazing. She first learned how to properly crawl, and now she's walking all over the place, all the time! We can't keep her still! She climbs out of her high chair in the dining room, constantly takes her clothes off (socks and pants are her favorite to remove!), plays appropriately with toys (she loves it when I "dress" her baby dolls in our fabric-scrap wipes and she searches for a plate and spoon in the playroom so she can "feed" both me and her baby), and is learning to talk (she can say "mamá," "papá" and "más" (more)... and today she tried to say "por favor"!).

She still has a bit of work to do to be on level developmentally, but if her progress so far is any indication, she'll be caught up in no time!

This morning, we went to visit both of her parents. Her mom had ordered a cake for her, so we celebrated with her and her mom's friends. Unfortunately, M. decided she wanted no part of the cake and refused to even try it! We arrived back home just in time for lunch. Then, we celebrated again with another cake! She ate a little bit of that cake but not much. She doesn't have much of a sweet tooth!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Feliz Cumpleaños to me!

Just wanted to document the craziest, most unforgettable birthday I've ever celebrated!

The morning started off at a kindergarten graduation! Tía Yovana's son, Sergio, was graduating, and she's been telling me for a month that I'm invited. Unfortunately, she had to work and was unable to go, but I went along anyway to take pictures for her! Tía Techy's (works at Casa 4 with the Booher family) daughter is in the same class as Sergio, so I was also able to watch her graduate! 

It's a Bolivian birthday tradition to crack eggs and put flour in the cumpleañero's hair! I knew it would happen at some point in the day because Tía Silvia has been talking about doing it to me ever since she found out the date of my birthday. However, I didn't expect it to happen just minutes after walking through the gate! I knew Tía Lucy was holding something in her pocket, but before I had a chance to figure out what it was, it was too late! Tía Silvia had snuck up behind me with a handful of eggs! 

These two crazies were quite pleased with their handiwork! Tía Silvia (left) had planned out the whole thing, and Tía Lucy (right) was her loyal helper! 

Although Tía Nilda and Tía Yovana weren't the ones with the eggs and flour, they had their own roles in the action!

Gracias a Tía Silvia por cocinar un almuerzo muy especial! Tía Silvia made my favorite Bolivian meal for lunch! (Milanesas de pollo... basically very thin, fried chicken) 

 The celebrations didn't end with lunch. The tías from the other group took me out to dinner! Tía Rosi, Tía Claudia, and I had a great time together! Tía Rosi brought her daughter and sister along, as well. Unfortunately, Tía Ely wasn't able to join us.

Cake #3! Tía Rosi used to always write my name differently, but I think she's finally settled on "Jhanna."  

This is such a terrible quality picture, but it shows me biting the cake. For the second time of the day, I managed to avoid being pushed into it!

Thankful for such a great day with great friends!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Bolivia, we couldn't let the day go by unnoticed! The Boohers were kind enough to invite all of us gringos over to their house to celebrate. They provided a turkey, stuffing, and pies, and every else brought side dishes and desserts. We had quite the spread! I had to save room for dessert so I wasn't able to try everything, but what I did try was DELICIOUS! 

 We had turkey, chicken, mac n' cheese, stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole, salad, sweet potato casserole, rolls, and tons of dessert!

 Some of the guests

 My family will be so proud to see this plate of my food all piled on top of each other! (I don't like it when all of my food touches, so we use "compartment plates" on holidays at home!)

 So glad we got to spend Thanksgiving together!

 The kids' table

 My little turkey clearly enjoying her first Thanksgiving!

 Baby A. enjoyed his first Thanksgiving, as well!

 Our wonderful hosts, Rudi and Carla Booher

 S. enjoying a Thanksgiving feast at the table like a big boy!

My birthday is tomorrow, and my roommate, Lindsey, surprised me with a cake! Although I was in the kitchen with her last night as she was making it, it never occurred to me what it might be for!

 Oh yes, they forced me into "biting" the cake! I'm not quite sure who "helped" me with that task!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meet the Parents!

Today was a very exciting day! Two of our kids at the baby home met their new parents!

The first to meet his parents was P., one of our almost two year olds! They arrived at about 9:30am, so ready to meet their new son. It was love at first sight for everyone! They were thrilled to finally meet P., and his dad actually shed a few tears! His mom stayed until he fell asleep tonight, and P. loved the constant attention throughout the day. I can't wait to see their relationship grow even more over the next few days!

Then this afternoon, S. met her parents! They too were thrilled with their new daughter! It's so fun to watch the parents' reactions when their baby is brought into the room. Her mom kept saying "I love her already!" and I think S. was pretty smitten with her parents, as well. It was especially exciting to meet her parents as her mom is from the USA! (USA-Bolivia adoptions aren't allowed, but she's married to a Bolivian and living in Bolivia, so her situation is a bit different.) They also spent several hours with us, and we all enjoyed getting to know them better. They'll be visiting S. for the next two weeks, and then they'll be allowed to take her home. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feliz Cumpleaños, S.!

S., one of our big girls living at Casa 3, turned 8 years old yesterday (11/16)! The tías prepared a special chicken lunch for her, and after lunch, it was time to party! She has been waiting for her birthday for a long time and couldn't wait to celebrate! She wanted a princess theme (hence the castle cake!) with no boys allowed. Eating cake was her first request, followed by a dance party and a piñata! She thought A.M.'s birthday wish of a sleepover at the baby home was a great idea, so she requested that, as well! She was a great help with the babies, and they LOVED having her over!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday~ "The Triplets"

Left to Right: CDA Founder/Director Jennifer Beaty's daughter, Sophia (1 month); Baby A. (1.5 months); Baby C. (2.5 months)