Marley absolutely loves playing in the water. Anah? Well, she likes to just lay in it. Brian and I took Sean, Erin, Ashley and the two girls (Anah and Marley) to Howard Park so that they could go for a little swim.
Marley is afraid of her own shadow, so until she was really sure that this was a stick she was a bit apprehensive. This is her "on guard" stance.
This picture makes me crack up.
Erin and Ashley. The hand on the hips is a necessary part of posing for pictures these days.
And then there's Anah. Just chillin'.
It must have felt good.
Marley and her daddy, or Brian and his other girl.
While we were at the USF bookstore a couple of weeks ago Erin put on one of the Bulls crazy hair wigs, made the Bulls sign with both of her hands, and made a "mean" face to go along with it. She's such a silly girl, and I love it. Never afraid to have a little bit of fun.
MCAT was today, and fall classes start again on Tuesday. With the "big exam" behind me I have a little bit of weight off of my shoulders, but a busy semester ahead of me. I'm taking a deep breath this weekend and relaxing, and then it's back to busy. Love it.
For anyone interested in purchasing some things that are needed at the Hogar, I have a few suggestions.
The children in the infant room are only brought out of that room twice each day; from 9-11am and 3-4pm. The volunteers take them from the nursery on the second floor to a blanket that is spread out on the tile floor of the first floor of the home. Some of the volunteers take the older children (just starting to walk) outside. There are very few toys for these younger children, and more would certainly be appreciated. The most important thing is to find toys for ages 1-18 months that do not require batteries, and that can be difficult now. Another option that would be super helpful would be to purchase the activity mats that the younger children can lay on instead of just laying on the thin blanket on the floor. Target has some of them starting at about $30, and not only are they padded, but they have (non-battery) activities built right into them (ie. plastic mirrors, things that make crinkling noises, etc.). A few of these would be a great addition to the home. If anyone has or can get an exersaucer or something similar for a good price, and would be willing to ship it there, this would be an awesome addition to the home, and the children would absolutely love it. There is nothing like that there.
I'm going to be collecting a few things for the younger children to take with me when I go back, and if you buy something and would like for me to deliver it when I go you can send it to me and I will be happy to do that. If you would rather ship it directly to the Hogar then you can get the Peru address from www.villalapazfoundation.org.
Additionally, does anyone have any suggestions on where to find the cases for asthma medication (the actual piece that is placed into the mouth)? I've searched all over online for them (in bulk) and cannot find them. If you have any suggestions please comment and let me know. Those are needed at the Hogar and are less expensive in the U.S. than in Peru.
T-shirts and underwear for the older boys (teenage-24) are also needed. Otherwise clothes are not needed as there is an entire storage room filled with donated clothes for the children.
I'm still trying to get a stroller company to donate a few strollers with larger tires (the sidewalks and roads are not in good shape there, and the small tires tend to get stuck easily), but I've not had any responses so far. If I can't get anyone to donate then I'll likely buy at least 1-2 of them myself. They could really use 2 double strollers (even umbrella type) and 2-3 single strollers.
Thank you all in advance, and as I find out more things that are needed I will let you know.
I like trying new recipes for chocolate chip cookies, and I think these may be the best so far. I had to make them twice (because I messed up and used 1/2 cups of butter instead of 1/2 pounds of butter the first time-dry cookies!), but once I got it right I realized that this recipe is a serious winner. Crispy on the edges and soft and gooey in the middle. Just perfect! The recipe can be found here, and if you make them be sure to leave Brooke a comment letting her know what you think of them.
And they are off! To school, that is. Sean is a sophomore this year, Bren is 8th grade, and Erin is 2nd grade. The boys wouldn't let me have a "before school" picture (of course), but I got my traditional shot of Erin that I've taken every year so far (you can see the kindergarten and 1st grade pictures here). She was so excited about being back in school. Since she's in the same pod that she's been in since kindergarten she knows every student and her teacher already. It's so nice that way.
I start back to school next Monday, and I'm actually looking forward to it, too.
I've been home for almost a week. I'm getting settled back into my daily routines (we don't really have those here), getting the kids ready for the first day of school (this coming Monday), and doing a few little projects that I need to get finished before I start back to school (the following Monday). Meanwhile, in the space left in my brain I keep thinking about and reflecting on my time at the Hogar, and what it truly meant to me.
The Hogar is love. Plain and simple. There is no better way to explain what occurs in that house on a daily basis. Despite being afflicted with some of the worst health conditions anyone could endure, the children of the Hogar are the most loving, caring, well-behaved, positive and compassionate children I have ever met. Spending time with them is like spending a bit of time in Heaven (as I would imagine it). It would seem at first glance that there would be so much moaning and groaning, complaining about being in pain or not feeling well, or sadness over the way that a face, hand or leg has been disfigured, but that isn't the case at all. There is virtually none of this. Never did I hear a child complain about not feeling well, cry over the way they look, or even think twice about the condition of their health. Instead I heard a lot of laughing. I heard girls talking about cute boys, and boys talking about pretty girls. I heard conversations over puzzles, coloring, games and homework. But never any complaining or whining. They have accepted the hand they've been dealt, and moved on; enjoying the life they have been given and all of the joy that it includes. They focus on the positive.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned in the Hogar. Each person that visits there probably faces a different outlook once they leave, and that is why I say that it is the children, and not the volunteers, that are there to help. While they may not even know that they are doing it, the children of the Hogar San Francisco de Asis are life teachers. Being with them provides a lesson in life that just cannot be learned in any other setting.
Despite anything else that happened during my time at the Hogar I brought back with me the memories of the children, my time with them, and the lessons that I learned from them. That is all that is important to me. My time there was priceless, and the children are the faces of angels. Dr. Tony truly is a saint, and I am honored to have met him and spent time with him each day. It was my first time in Peru, but it will not be my last.
There is so much beauty in the people of the Hogar, but I found that there was also a lot of beauty in Chaclacayo, too. I love nature, and there were so many different types of flowers in Chaclacayo. I managed to get pictures of just a small portion of the different types of flowers (and cacti) that I saw as we walked through the town. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did when I was there.