Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 6

Good news! The dog is alive. Terri saw him last night, and other volunteers saw him today. He was limping a bit, but it looks like he’ll be fine.

I’m a loser and won’t be saying a lot tonight, so here’s just a run-down of some “of note” things that happened today:

*We figured out why there is so much grouchiness coming from the babies lately. Ema-Elena, Mihaela & Gabriela (twins), and Marius all have birthdays around the same time, and they are all cutting their two-year molars. Poor kids are in pain all the time from that, hence the crankiness.

*Sami went on a long walk today, during which he laughed a lot, pulled on leaves, and touched the metal on some buildings. Later on, he put his “pulling” skills to a not-so-good use—by pulling Erin’s hair and not letting go, which earned him a little time-out by himself in the grass. He was a trooper, though, and took his time-out well.

*Petre spit up (a LOT) on Amy J. this morning, and it seemed like he wouldn’t stop! Amy’s shorts are currently drying in the bathroom.

*Ionela and Alina had their picture taken on a motorcycle that was parked on the other side of the playground fence. Unfortunately, it was not on my camera, so I don’t have the picture.

*Little Andreea started to crawl today!

*Amy J. went on a nature walk with Ionela, and while on this walk, she (Amy) walked under a bird. You can imagine what happened next. Amy’s shirt is currently drying in the bathroom.

*Amy J. also spent some time holding Maria outside today. She picked her up out of her stroller ever-so-gently and was very good with her. Amy promised that she would hold Maria whenever she can after Nicole leaves this weekend.

*Big Andreea bit Erin on her shoulder. Not intentionally, of course, but her teeth just happened to be there, I guess.

*Mama Dog (whom we have been feeding leftover meat from lunch and dinner) sneaked through the gate to the playground today.

*Ema-Elena has a few really bad bug-bites (mosquito or something else?) on her leg, and her knee and foot were kind of inflamed today, poor girl. The nurse put some kind of ointment on it, so hopefully it will help.

This afternoon was fairly uneventful. We were only at the clinic for about an hour and a half, as we were set to go to Barlad this evening. So we did the afternoon feedings, the kids’ diapers were changed, and we put them in their cribs.

This evening, in Barlad, those of us who are going to Transylvania this weekend paid for our trip at the travel agent’s office. It cost 405 lei, or $135, plus $50 for transportation. Not bad at all, I think. After that, we wandered around the Penny Market (where Amy J. bought a purse in which to carry her necessities), then headed to dinner at a restaurant whose name I can recall. I ate more tonight than I’ve eaten in the past five days. Chicken, cheese, polenta, potatoes, chocolate crepes…yummy.

Tomorrow is the last day for the one-week volunteers, so I'm going to end this post with a few pictures and then go to socialize a bit.

Cristi let out a huge grin that I had to capture immediately before he stopped, hence the angle and zoom.
Cristi looking in a mirror in a book
Nicole massaging Maria's belly
Big Andreea lifting her head
Mama Dog
Delta with Daniela (left) and Petre (right)
Andreea, in her favorite position. It doesn't seem very comfortable, but it really is, for her.
Amy and Maria

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 5

This morning started the same. We went to the clinic, fed the kids, and took them outside. The difference was that Nicoletta took Big Andreea this morning, fed her, and did her exercises with her. I tried to feed Ema-Elena, but she wasn’t having any of it. Cristi did very well with his bottle this morning, he hardly made a mess at all.

Mara, a Romanian university student, spends some days volunteering at the clinic during the summer, so she was here today. Her English is very good, and she translated for us when we had questions for the aides. We also talked about differences in child discipline between the US and Romania, both in the home and at school. Sami, who just turned four last week, is having a hard time understanding that it isn’t nice to hit, pull hair, or throw toys at people, and that is what spurred the conversation.

Two inspectors, I think from the Ministry of Health, came in to check out the facility today, and I guess the aides were scrambling around as they came in, trying to get things together. The inspectors were only there for a short time, however, just to see the clinic building/equipment. It had little to do with the children, this time.

Snack today was yogurt (saved from breakfast at the hotel) and, for some kids, applesauce. I had the task of feeding Sami his applesauce—a task that was 100 times easier than feeding it to Andreea! He took bite after bite, only making a tiny mess (and protesting when I tried to clean him up), and he was so hungry when the applesauce was gone, I fed him the leftovers from another child’s yogurt. He’s a growing boy!

I assumed Nicoletta would bring Andreea outside when she was finished, but I assumed wrongly and found out later that she had spent half the morning inside with the kids who weren’t able to come out. Luckily, she was with Eve, who is very good with her, but I did go in to bring her out myself.

It’s hard to find a comfortable position for Big Andreea. She doesn’t like to lie on her back, though if she’s in her rocking chair, she’ll tolerate it. She likes to be held, but she’s so big, I can’t hold her all the time. She likes to lie on the Boppy pillow for “tummy time” (after the initial few seconds when she’s getting used to it), but I don’t want to leave her in that position for too long because she mostly keeps her face down and doesn’t really get much interaction with anyone that way. So today, I put her in a stroller and took her for a walk around the hospital grounds, along with Colleen, who pushed Gabriela in another stroller. Andreea was quite content to lie in the stroller as I pushed her along, watching the trees and flowers and people. She didn’t even mind the bumps!

After the noontime diaper changes, it was time for soup. The younger kids get it from a bottle (the chicken and stuff is all pureed), and the older kids (well, those who can eat from a spoon) get it from the bowl. I was all set to feed Andreea in the mobile playroom (lots more space in there!) but when the aide came in with her bottle, she handed it to Nicoletta, who decided she was going to feed Andreea. And my goodness, that little girl sucked that soup down in less than two minutes!

Maiastra was hanging out in the playroom with us, but she seemed to want to be by herself. If I looked at her, she shook her head, which I took to mean “leave me alone.” If I gave her a toy, she’d push it away. One thing I know she likes is to look into mirrors, so when I was sitting in front of a wall-mounted toy with mirrors on it and she stood in front of me—staring and smiling—I thought that was what she was looking at. But then I realized she was looking towards my face. She was looking at my glasses! What’s up with these kids and my glasses? They all want them.

I was then charged with feeding soup from a bowl to Ionela, but she only wanted Erin, so I fed Mihaela instead. She was a good eater, too, and seemed to enjoy the soup. Towards the end of the bowl, she started fidgeting with a toy, but it didn’t really distract her from her food, so she ended up finishing the whole bowl.

Afterwards, it was time to put her down for a nap—and she did NOT like that idea. I cuddled her a bit before putting her into her crib, and when she began to cry, I found a toy that made bell-like noises and dangled it in front of her for a few seconds, which calmed her down enough for me to give her a kiss and leave.

This afternoon was much like the past two. Some people took their kids outside after bottle time, and some stayed inside. The older kids had preschool, and Big Andreea was there, so I floated between the nonmobile playroom and outside. I don’t recall any particularly exciting or cute happenings, but if I think of anything, I’ll post it.

I was set to stay until 6:30 this evening, and while the 4-5:30 shift was okay, 5:30-6:30 was just exhausting. The kids had their “dinner” at about 6:00, and the bottles were so hot! We had to run them under water to cool them down. Meanwhile, some kids were screaming and crying because they were hungry or wanted to be held. I fed Daniela, but I think the milk was coming out of the bottle too fast. So I tried to give her only a tiny bit at a time, to give her a chance to actually swallow it, but it kept dribbling out, so I don’t know how much she actually consumed, poor kid.

Before the shift was over, Daniela was almost asleep so I decided to take her in to her crib. I rocked her a little longer, to make sure she was really asleep before I put her in the crib, and as I did that, Maria (who shares the isolation room with Daniela) started crying. I couldn’t do anything for her (because I had Daniela in my arms, plus I can’t really pick Maria up or anything) so I just touched her and talked to her a little until the nurse heard her crying and came in to soothe her. Then I just turned away with Daniela and had to cry a little, myself. After the first two “hey, I’m playing with the babies, and they’re so cute and sweet and cuddly!” days, the emotional reality of the whole situation has finally started to hit me. It’s possible that something incredibly heartbreaking could happen while I’m here. If it does, how will I handle it? WILL I be able to handle it?

On a slightly better note, I learned today that Paula—who I mentioned yesterday was taken to the hospital—is only away for routine tests with a neurologist, which she apparently has done every so often. So she should be back next week.

We returned to the hotel in time for dinner, which was…I don’t know what. I didn’t have much of an appetite so I just picked at it. Then the dessert came out. It was a fried doughnut with sour cream and cherries, I guess. So ridiculously unhealthy, and kinda’ yummy.

Sad news: One of the stray dogs (I believe it was the one pictured above) that hangs out around the clinic was hit by a car. It (I don’t know if it was male or female) was lying on the ground behind the car (or maybe it was the ambulance?), just snoozing, when the vehicle backed out. We heard a loud “yelp!” and the other men over there yelled at the driver to stop. The dog got up after a little while, after some encouragement from the men, but it was hobbling on three legs; the hind leg was just hanging as the dog tried to “shake it off.” But apparently they “put down” injured strays here, and when we were leaving the clinic for lunch, the poor dog was nowhere to be found. Hopefully he just escaped and went to lick his wounds.

Sad news #2: My fellow volunteer (and my roommate) Amy J. was bitten by a vampire today. The accused is named Marius, and this is a picture of him:

Now really, does that look like a mean, human-biting vampire to you? Come on. Apparently it was a pretty good bite, though, even of it didn’t break the skin. Marius has been deemed innocent of this assault, by reason of teething.

Now, for some more pictures:
Cristi, sitting forlornly at the door after (adult) Mihaela left the room. She had been singing Romanian songs to him.
Terri and Daniela
Mihaela, looking deep in thought
Ionela and yet another adorable dress
A great picture of Ema-Elena, you can see just how gorgeous she is
Cristi and Ion enjoyed bouncing their heads off of the exercise ball as Gabi used it.
Gabriela on the exercise ball
Nicole pushing Maiastra on the big swing
Lea-Celine getting a manicure
Little Andreea
Maiastra in Mihaela's car

And I didn't take a whole lot of pictures today, so I'm supplementing with some videos!

Lea-Celine blowing kisses



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 4

This morning, we took the kids outside immediately after they had their 9am bottles. Unfortunately, only one corner of the playground area was shady, but we were able to squeeze two blankets into that area. Dan brought out some bouncy chairs, while others grabbed Boppy pillows and such so that the kids could spend the whole morning comfortably outside.

I did some work with Andreea off and on throughout the morning. I stretched her arms and legs and helped her do some bicycle movements with her legs, and she lay on her stomach/chest on the Boppy pillow for a while, which she loved again. She seems to be a lot more comfortable in that position than lying on her back in a bouncy/rocking chair, and it helps her to practice muscle control in her neck by forcing her to lift her head up if she wants to see things. Something else I’ve done while she’s in this position is placed her hands under her shoulders, so she can push herself up a little.

Of course, I played with the other kids, too! Lea-Celine was pretty cranky this morning. In fact, a lot of the kids were cranky today. Some are teething, and others just aren’t feeling well in general. I snuggled a bit with Petre, and I played with Alina, who is so easy to pick up and swing around, due to her size. She kept trying to steal my glasses and would be very sneaky about it. I bring my face close to hers, so our noses are touching, and she’ll just stare at me for a few seconds…then, all of a sudden, I see a hand out of the corner of my eye, grabbing my glasses!

Ema-Elena is teething, as well, but when Terri handed her over to me for a little while this morning while she (Terri) went somewhere else, she (Ema) started to cry, and I knew it was because she’s so comfortable with Terri, stiff muscles and all. Terri knows how to hold her in the most comfortable position, I think. I feel different to her, and I sound different, so even if she can’t see properly, she can tell the difference. Even after Terri came back and sat down, I kept trying to soothe Ema, standing up and rocking her, talking to her, stroking her hair, but finally I had to hand her back over because her crying was about to make me cry. It was heartbreaking.

Nicole brought Maria out this morning in a stroller. I went over to visit at one point, and she was asleep, like she always seems to be whenever I see her. So I just patted her tummy a little and touched her hand, very lightly so I wouldn’t wake her.

This afternoon was better. Some of the kids (Lea-Celine included) were in much better moods. When I took Big Andreea out of her crib and put her in her rocking chair for feeding, she was all-smiles, after I fed her and was massaging her arms and legs. I brought out a toy—one of those toys with the little arm/flap things that have different textures on them—and I pressed the “arms” that rustle and make noise against her fingers, her cheek, etc. Then I put the toy in her hand and brought it up to her face, and she just turned her head and let it rest by her cheek, feeling the rustling and giving me the biggest grin.

Oh! Semi-big news, I think. Big Andreea tends to drink her bottles down quickly and make a bit of a mess, but this afternoon, she drank it slowly and didn’t spill a drop! At snack time this morning, however, I fed her a jar of applesauce, and because of her tongue-thrusting problem, it was a chore. It took forever to feed her (and she didn’t even finish the entire thing), plus there was a mess all over her face, neck, and shirt, so I had to change her shirt when we went in.

This afternoon was spent outside again. We’ve been blessed with amazing weather—not too hot, but sunny, and not cold, either. I worked with Big Andreea’s muscles some more—stretching, bicycling, and massaging her back—and she played a good bit with Eve, who is great with her. I spent some time with the other kids, including Alina, Lea-Celine, Cristi, Marius, Mihaela, etc.

Maiastra, of course, began to cry when she saw Mihaela’s car and thought she wasn’t allowed in it, but Mihaela had left her key so we put her (Maiastra) in the car with the doors open. Ana-Maria visited us outside today, as well, and was pretty calm. I also saw quite a bit of Ionela, who loves to put toys to her ear like a phone and say “ello?” It’s the cutest thing. Terri also laid Ema-Elena down so that her head was in Ionela’s lap, and Ionela was very gentle as she petted Ema’s hair.

When Nicole went to bring Maria (and her stroller) up into the clinic at the end of the afternoon, I helped her lift it and gave Maria (who was awake!) a little tickle on her belly and said, "Pa pa!" ("Bye bye!")

Good news! Gabriela started to crawl a bit today! And Alexandra, who has been having a rough time eating (I guess she refused to eat a lot), ate her yogurt/applesauce/whatever it was today! I think Susan mentioned that she thinks Alex just needed something a little sweet on her food.

Bad news. Paula was taken to the hospital today because she has chronic ear infections and was screaming up a storm today. I hope all is well with her.

This evening, we went to the Alona restaurant in Barlad, where we had chicken salad, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage, chicken cordon bleu, chicken “schnitzel,” and polenta with a sauce made of sour cream, chicken, and mushrooms. Dessert was some kind of cake with mousse in the middle layers. The best part of the meal, though, was the homemade, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread with sunflower seeds on top. Yum!

After dinner, we went to the grocery store, where I bought some Cheerios, croissants, Nutella, and digestive cookies to keep in my room for “emergencies.”

Now on to what I know you're all REALLY looking forward to: pictures! I didn't take many this morning, but I left my camera out for others to take some...which is why (thanks mainly to Amy J.) I ended up with 54 pictures just from the morning shift!

Trevor and Petre
Poor little Petre in a pink, flowery outfit. I think the aides just dress the kids in whatever is available/convenient. We change them when we can get away with it.
Andrei in the hat that matched Ionela's dress
Trevor, being...Trevor? I promised Amy J. I'd post this pic.
Alex, studying a book. She's very intent when she does this.
Delta and Daniela
Alina, handing me a toy
Andreea and the biggest grin I could catch with my camera
Alina, nearly successful in her quest of grabbing my glasses. But I caught her!
Lea-Celine. She's such a precious little girl, and soooooo adorable. Terri finds it hard to get a good picture of her, though, and I think it's because a lot of her charm comes from her smile and her teeth, which she (from what I've seen) keeps hidden when photos are being taken. But this is a good one!
Ema-Elena, what a gorgeous girl.
Ionela, being gentle with Ema-Elena
Mihaela in an adorable dress
Lea-Celine with (adult) Mihaela's plum
Erin and Ana-Maria
Eve playing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" with Ana-Maria