Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a day in the life

We started this morning by taking two of the children from Lactantes outside to try to practice using straws, in hopes of gaining more muscle control and, ultimately, the ability to consume meals through a straw to minimize choking and messiness. Tatiana was more concerned with taking her arm brace off, and Jenny seemed overwhelmed by the whole idea, so we decided to give those two little ones a break. We brought out Reina next, and she was a bundle of joy! She responded to the straw being in her mouth really well, though she didn’t suck on it yet, but with practice, we think she might be able to!

Next came one of our favorite times, feeding the children in Lactantes. One of the niñeras gave me a spoon and a bowl and asked me to feed Sonia. I quickly realized that the spoon was at least ten times too big for her little mouth, but I tried it anyway, not wanting to offend the niñera for her choice in spoon size. The poor girl was making hardly any progress. A few minutes into feeding, the same niñera walked over to me laughing, realizing the problem, and had a spoon much more fit for Sonia’s mouth.

So we continued feeding, and then I noticed something big, dark, and fast out of the corner of my eye. That is never a good sign. The following events happened something like this:

Me: “Eeeee! Melissa!” I pointed behind her.
Melissa: something along the lines of “Oh my gosh!” as she runs in the opposite direction, since it was coming right for her.
Niñera : “Que paso?!” (What happened?)
Melissa: “Una cuca!” (A cockroach)

No more words came after that. Just me, Melissa, and two niñeras dancing around as this giant cockroach weaved in and out underneath the kids’ wheelchairs. The most wonderful part was the children laughing, as they were just simply enjoying their lunch, and all of a sudden the people feeding them were dancing around with their bowls of food still in hand.

The only time a cockroach has ever been a fun experience. :)

Around 1:30, 40 of us piled into two vans to head to the local stadium. There were 19 of us in our un-air conditioned van. Thank Jesus for windows and fast drivers.

We arrived at the stadium and I was so reminded of being at the Special Olympics. The only thing missing was a crowd of 100 Camp Barnabas (a special needs summer camp I worked at and every year we cheered on the local Special Olympics) staffers going crazy in the stands. There was ball throwing for those in wheelchairs, a little jumping obstacle course for some of the others, and down at the other end was the super intense stuff for the people in wheelchairs with extremely buff arms.

I spent the afternoon with the obstacle course group, and we started off with warm-ups. I spent this time coaxing Xiomara on my left to participate as she found anything and everything to stall time until she only had to do the last 2 or 3 in a set of 10, and on my right I was preventing Anita from falling into the little concrete ditch behind us as she was having too much fun laying on her back and whipping her legs over her head.

(Bear with me. I didn't feel like hauling my big camera to the stadium, so today's pictures were taken on my phone).

Warm-up stretches

Obstacle course

Then we got to run.  I was blessed to be Anita’s running partner. Seriously. Blessed. I stinking love that girl. That was the most fun lap I have ever ran in my entire life. She refused to take her backpack off (or should I say frontpack, as she insisted on carrying it on the front), and she held my hand screaming and laughing the whole way. Any time she stopped, I threw my arms up in cheering motion saying “Puedes hacerlo!” (You can do it). She immediately picked right back up with a big grin on her face.

We left around 4, and I had the seat on the ride home that faced backward, looking over all 19 sweaty, hot, exhausted bodies that still mustered up the energy to sing out the back window (Carmencita), whistle and blow kisses to Melissa and random pedestrians (Memo), and make eye contact with me all the way from the back row and immediately begin dancing (Xiomara).

How are we ever going to leave this place?!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy birthday Geovanny and Roberto!

Tonight, we celebrated the birthdays of Geovanny and Roberto, who both had birthdays in June. You can be assured that once you meet Geovanny, you will never forget his birthday for the rest of your life, nor will he forget yours. Birthdays are very important to him. Any time he meets somebody new, he pulls out his little construction paper notepad and writes their names and birthday down to hold onto forever. It is so sweet to see how excited he gets when finding out that little fact about new friends. Since birthdays are such a big deal to him, we had been looking forward to this party for quite some time!

We invited 9 of the residents, and 15 showed up. What's an extra 6 anyway? :)

We couldn't decide on a theme for the party, so it was kind of like a Hawaiian/Hollywood/Birthday party. Most of them had an abundance of leis around their neck, they loved the cute little umbrellas to put in with their Kolashanpan (a favorite soda down here!), and we had a Hollywood themed table runner. I don't think they minded the randomness of this fiesta :)

One thing was for sure, they LOVED the peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! We found out last week that those are one of their favorite meals, so of course we had pb&j's for tonight's party.

Thanks to Pinterest, Melissa discovered the "brownie in a cup" recipe, which is a super easy recipe that included brownies being made in a coffee cup for just one minute, and adding a little (or a lot) of ice cream and sprinkles on top! Easy and delicious! 

Before indulging in these delicious treats, we all sang happy birthday (both in English and Spanish!) to Geovanny and Roberto. The birthday boys loved it while their friends sang loud and proud!

And, of course, it wouldn't be a party without ChuChu, the pet dog.

After consuming 6 (yes, 6) liters of soda and eating brownie sundaes, it's safe to say everyone was on an extreme sugar rush by the end of the night!

And this was the aftermath.... We might invest in paper plates next time ;)

Happy birthday, Roberto and Geovanny!!!!

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