Easter at Hope Home

April has been a very busy month with kids now off school for their summer break, and the weather has heated up appropriately! This last week has been extra special with Songkran and Holy Week falling on the same week this year.

Throughout the course of April we have been studying the Easter Story and participating in various Easter themed activities.

Then came the BIG DAY! We awoke early and decorated 90 Easter eggs for our community egg hunt that morning. It took quite awhile for the concept to really sink in as the children thought they were surely supposed to crack and eat all 90 eggs right then! Once they caught on though they had a heap of fun colouring and sticking in a variety of unique designs.

We then whisked the children away to the activity room for a viewing of an Easter film while some adults hid the eggs in a variety of interesting places!

The community Easter Egg hunt is another favourite of ours as we join together to listen to the Easter story, hunt for eggs, and enjoy some fellowship together with our neighbours! The story was well received by all and the hunt went far more quickly than the set up! Once again, quite a lot of fun this year as our kids really got the concept of picking up the eggs and seemed to really enjoy looking for them!

Eggs. Eggs. Eggs. We did decorate 90 eggs which meant quite a few would be consumed by us! It was a lovely brunch of boiled egg with sticky rice and spice! Again, a wonderful time to spend with family and friends from our community!

A fun surprise this year was the balloon man! One of our neighbours and friends came for the hunt and brought along an incredible skill for shaping balloons! The kids loved watching and then of course wearing his creations!

Lastly, we were able to make it to church with a few of the kids as well and it was a good time of reflecting on the meaning of this wonderful day! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Songkran at Hope Home

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is celebrated every year from April 13-15. The celebration marks the traditional Thai New Year typically includes both formal and informal celebrations. It is a time in which we show respect to elders and elders in turn give blessings to the younger participants. The modern celebration also includes a city-wide water fight which is a welcome relief in the intense heat of hot season.

Our kids did a great job showing respect to some of the “Mees” at Hope Home this year, and we were so encouraged to see their ability to understand and participate in this rich cultural tradition. The ceremony involves children pouring water on the hands of their elder and the elder in turn providing a blessing for the child. Strands of Jasmine are also given to the elder as a symbol of respect. We pray that each and every one of our children and caregivers would be blessed!

Then of course we got together with others in our community for a Songkran celebration full of WATER PLAY! This was the first year that most of our kids could squirt with their squirt guns! They had heaps of fun squirting each other and even more fun squirting the adults! We are so grateful for everyone from our community that came out to celebrate Songkran with us!

Of course the great thing about a three day festival is all the extra days of water play! Any moment can turn into a water fight! Since all of our kids are really enjoying the water play this year we have had lots of fun having water fight after water fight! Dontrii and Garfield especially love being squirted, and Tadpole and Kame love squirting so it works out as a great combination! Of course there is also a whole lot of really good food, which is by far Little Guy’s favorite part!

Family Camp at the Beach!

This past month we had the incredible opportunity to join in with the CAM ministry and team for a family camp at THE BEACH! The 13 hour drive started off early one Friday morning and the kids did great, we were so very impressed with their patience with the journey and their enthusiasm for passing cars. We searched out cars of every color yellow, orange, purple, blue, red, gray, and of course Kame had to have us find a PINK car! Thankfully a semi-truck did pass by us in full pink!

The drive was exciting enough for all of us but then we saw the beach and that was a real treat. The kids were very excited and slightly terrified by the sand, the waves, and water! For most of them it was their very first chance to see the ocean and it was a priceless moment for each of us!

We were also able to join in on some singing, dancing, games, and family education. Staff and kids did a great job reflecting on the effect of alcohol in their lives and communities and then brainstorming our hopes for our family’s future.

Then of course it was time to PLAY in the ocean. What a special time to play together as a family!

The trip also included a trip to the Tiger Zoo which has much more than just tigers….Crocodiles, Elephants, Sheep, Pigs, and more! It was great as our kids mixed with the other families and were able to spend a lot of time with others from our community enjoying some exciting sites! Many of us are still trying to figure out how that pig did maths!

There was of course some down time, food time, and lots of fun together with other families from our community! We are VERY THANKFUL to have been included in this family camp and are so grateful that we were welcomed so well by not only the camp leadership but all the other families as well!

Down on the Farm (Part 2)

As a part of our month long learning adventure “Down on the Farm” we took a trip to a real life farm located right here in Chiang Mai. Dutch Farm was a unique experience for our children as they got to interact up close and personal with miniature horses and sheep! We also got to see chickens, ducks, and geese. Tadpole of course found it to be great fun to chase the geese.

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LeLe very quickly made friends with the miniature horses and was especially fond of this white one. The two made quite a pair and LeLe probably would have stayed right there in the horse stables all day were he able!

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Everyone got a chance to pet and even ride (if desired) the miniature horses, and while reactions ranged from terrified to obsessed in the end everyone was comfortable enough to enjoy a moment with these very special animals.

A stop by the chickens was very fun with lots of “cluck cluck” sounds coming from both sides of the fence!

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After that it was time to go see the sheep, and much to our surprise we have quite a few shepherd boys and girls in our little family! All the kids had fun, with a side of trepidation, watching staff feed the sheep and of course making lots of sheep sounds ourselves. The bigger sheep were quite intimidating for some of the kids but thankfully there were some adorable baby sheep who seemed a bit more approachable.

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In the end everyone had a great time, got to learn all about a few farm animals, and experience farm life in a small way. The adventures will continue, just wait to see where we’re headed to next!

Down on the Farm (Part 1)

This month at Hope Home, we have been “Down on the Farm!” As we continue learning and exploring the Great Big Earth our God created, we took this month to learn about farms! Farm crops, farm animals, farm people, and farm stories were the mark of each day. We had a lot of fun and learned a little something along the way. Here’s a quick look into our farm adventures this past month.

It’s not a farm without an Old MacDonald, or at least that’s what we decided pretty quickly! As a fun speech therapy activity and matching game we opened up each daily lesson with a round of “Old MacDonald.” The kids had a great time discovering new animal sounds and then of course, making the animal sound their own! Just ask them about their farm animals, Tadpole and Little Guy can tell you all the sounds and Kame is ready with the animal names too!

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Our sensory farm was heaps of fun with more animals than we could count, though we did and quite a few times. The kids had fun making their own pastures, then taking them down and remaking their own pastures (though Little Guy clearly prefers the free range style) and having the animals interact in the grass and mud!

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A big hit this month was our red bean and corn sensory bin. It was all hands (and feet!) in on the different ways of sorting, finding, and just feeling some farm fun. It was also fun to think about where the different parts of the farm belong, “in” “on” and “under,” prepositional fun was had by all.

 

This months Bible stories were the “Good Shepherd” and the “Prodigal Son.” The kids had a blast using the farm animals and laminated characters to act out the stories and ultimately to share the story of just how much God loves each and every one of us! Tadpole especially enjoyed finding the lost sheep and Kame was all about getting the Prodigal Son out of the smelly pig pen!

Other fun activities included counting, sorting, matching, and making our very own farm animals. We were able to paint chickens with feathers, muddy some pigs, dab the road the Prodigal Son took all the way away from home and back,  farm bingo, and so much more!

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Of course the farm is a fun place to get out and move! This month we had an extra focus on our gross motor skills, so obstacle courses and a Thai-English version of “duck, duck, goose” were just what was needed on some long farming days.

The kids gave farming a try too, though we have some room for improvement here and maybe with better consistency in our watering and planting (and a little less shaking of the planter cups) we will get a crop yet! To date though, it’s safe to say we might not yet be ready for the big fields!

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We had a great time in our farm adventures from home, a lot of speech therapy objectives were achieved and we highlighted a lot of key developmental needs, but the best part was learning about how much God loves us, that he would seek after us no matter where we are!

Stay tuned for “Down on the Farm: Part 2” a look at our trip to a real farm right here in Chiang Mai!

School Days

This school term we have been very pleased to have four of our residential children in school as well as seeing our community family member Smile transition to a new schooling setting. It makes for an exciting morning at our house as we prep four littlies for two different schools and pile into two different vehicles off to three locations!

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LeLe and Tadpole are continuing at the local government special needs centre one full day and four half days a week. Both are in preparation level classes and our hope is that in conjunction with at-home afternoon programming these small setting opportunities will help them develop further. Smile has moved from her school to another government special education centre and appears to really be thriving in her new setting. This half day program is rather intensive and includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and a speech class.

This school term Little Guy joined Kame at her school, a private, bilingual Christian preschool and kindergarten. While the beginning was a rough start the two are now very much enjoying going to school each morning and have made lots of friends as well. We are so excited these two were accepted into a mainstream schooling setting and hope that the positive, rich environment will continue to promote their development. Little Guy is in the twos classroom and Kame is in the first level of Kindergarten. They are learning their Thai and English alphabets and lots of interesting songs we sometimes struggle to decipher at home!

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Our other children continue on in their physical therapy programmes and specialized education from home. All of the children enjoy coming together in the afternoon to our “home school” to further their learning together. We are very grateful for the educational opportunities made available to each of our children and thankful for the many supporters, sponsors, and friends who help make it possible!

Around the World with Hope Home

Each month we select a theme and try our best to tailor our learning and experiences to support that theme. This past month we have focused on Heritage and Culture. We are a very multinational home with caregivers, volunteers, visitors, and children from all different countries, tribal groups, regions, and therefore, cultures. While this can certainly bring about its challenges, this month we wanted to take the time to celebrate the rich diversity of each member of our home. So we closed our eyes and off we went on a pretty amazing adventure!

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We switched up the routine just a bit and a couple of times a week had staff members lead a lesson on their people group, or on the people group of one of the children in our home. Our “passports” are full of great adventures in Southern Thailand, Myanmar, Northern Thailand, England, Australia, and with the Hmong, Mlabri, and Karen people groups as well!

Each time we boarded an airplane, bus, or motorbike parade and had great fun traveling to our destination nation. Overall, all of our travels…but especially our airplane experiences were a bit more turbulent than most! (Bumpy plane rides are much more fun to act out!) We were then greeted in the local language, saw the clothing and the important sites of the area, we heard and saw music and activities from the culture, and last but certainly not least we tasted the foods!

While the food was certainly the highlight of each of our travels we also enjoyed an early Songkran in Phrae, Thailand, got tattoos and face paint in Australia, spread Thanaka on our faces in Myanmar, made handicrafts in the Hmong Village, saw Nang Talung (a puppet show) in Southern Thailand, and so much more!

Not forgetting our spiritual hertiage and yet another look at global cultures our Education Centre days were spent focusing on the Egyptians and the Isrealites. We created deserts, rivers and skylines too as we explored the story of Abraham and the story of Moses.  The kids loved counting the stars in the sky, taking Abraham on a big long walk, and of course floating Moses in his basket down the river to the Pharoah’s house. Then we dove into rainbow rice and talked all about the different colors of our world and how beautiful they all are!

After exploring the world within our walls and discussing color and beauty we thought we’d go out for even more immersion in our great big world! We took a trip to the Royal Gardens and the World Gardens Exhibits to see the gardens of Thailand and beyond! The kids and staff had a wonderful time as we took a tram around the world gardens and then in person to the gardens of Korea, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Laos, and many more places!

Overall, it has been a very fun month full of big adventures right here in our own house, our own school room, and within our own family! We hope that this month has given each of our children and our staff a deep appreciation for their own culture and identity as well as the identity and culture of others around them. We are so proud of each of our staff members for their hard work in planning and executing a lesson plan for the children, and so proud of each of our children for their enthusiastic journey around the world!