"We are going to focus on LIFE for Katya. I believe, one day, she will amaze the world."

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer is Flying By

Our summer is flying rapidly by. We are so busy that I don't know how we could pack much more into our lives and still enjoy life! Really glad that we made the decision to not plant a garden this year (due to many reasons) even though we all really miss the fresh produce!

Katya is having a blast at her school's summer camp! She goes Monday through Thursday and has a long weekend off.

Here is our pretty girl the first day of Summer Camp, waiting for the van to take her.



Charity had a successful and wonderful trip to England with her best friend and parents. What a great thing that was for her! She came home refreshed and renewed (although a little jet-lagged of course!)



I was very thankful for the photos of her enjoying her time there that Amy provided!

Now that Charity is back home, she has been working towards preparing for her trip to Japan in August again. She also helped me take Katya to a Doctor's appointment recently.


We have been trying to enjoy as much time outside as we can. Reading an old book, "Red Pepper Burns" that is a favorite of mine to Chad and Kristina has been a lot of fun this summer as we often enjoy doing it outside.


Kristina was thrilled to get to take another Russian lesson from our dear friend, Alex, co-author of the book, "Infinitely More". She is continuing to make progress in re-learning her spoken Russian, as well as learning to read and write it for the first time.

 Chad enjoyed looking at books at Barnes and Noble and coloring while waiting on Kristina to get done with her lesson.


The girls and I went one evening to hear some music and enjoy some flowers since Paul was willing to get Katya to bed due to her school the next day. There is just something about listening to music in the balmy summer evening, with the golden sun shinning peacefully with people I love that makes my heart feel so full and happy.





And, we had an enjoyable day trip the other day . . . complete with a lot of laughs--but that is a story for another day!!

Enjoy your summer!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

5 Years Ago



5 years ago we were in Ukraine, slogging through the process to spring Katya out of her orphanage and get her home where she could get urgently needed medical care, enough food, and most important of all, a whole lot of love and teaching! I'm so thankful that she is with us even on the hardest of days!

Right now, Katya is currently enjoying her break before she goes to "Summer Camp" at her amazing school next week for the next 6 weeks. She is happy to be home having some down time, but is very excited she is going to go back soon to school. She likes us to show her on the calendar when she is going back.

Sunday we went to a Russian speaking church where we visit sometimes. Katya was really happy and excited there this time. We asked her if she could understand some of the Russian and she signed, "Yes!" Kristina, who has been working on re-learning her Russian, said she thinks she understood about 75% or so of the Sunday School lesson this time, so she was pretty pleased.

Afterwards, we went to a park to grill hot dogs and turkey burgers, and then the kids played on the playground and had a great time!

Katya swung a lot, but also did ALL the slides (something she would not even try a year ago) AND the little rock climbing wall!


Chad had a blast being a climber!


It was about as perfect a day as you could wish for as far as a Summer Sunday goes!


Happy, Happy Summer to you all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Years ago, I used to love going to visit my friend Karen and her family. I even spent the night there occasionally. Once dish I learned to love during those visits was something her Mom would serve for breakfast sometimes--Baked Oatmeal.

I still love it and fix it for my family.

Baked Oatmeal

Mix: 1/2 cup oil
         1/2 cup sugar (or less if you prefer)
          2 eggs

Add: 3 cups quick oats
         1 cup milk
         2/3 tsp salt
          4 tsp baking powder
          1 cup raisins (optional)

Bake at 350 degrees in a 9 by 9 pan. Cut in pieces and serve with milk as a breakfast dish.

That was the way I received the recipe from my friend's mother, Darlene. I make my own tweaks to it when I fix it. First, I need to double the recipe for our family of 7, and even that is almost not enough! I typically always lessen the sugar, I sub Rice Milk or even water for the "Milk" and we like a few pecans thrown in yet for good measure! For sides, a bowl of mixed fruit, and some bacon or sausage round out the meal nicely.

Do you have a "Baked Oatmeal" recipe to share? Link it up in the comments if you do!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Charity Is Going to Japan

God willing, Charity will be going to Japan this summer in August for about 13 days with her chamber orchestra. [Edited to say that the group was just invited to several more places so the trip has been extended to around 19 days now!]

To help raise the funds she needs, she has been making and selling items. You can see some of what is for sale at her Facebook Page, Wares By Cherry.



Charity is very excited for this amazing opportunity and is working hard to be ready to go--she has a solo violin piece her teacher wants her to play at their performances. I will have to ask her for sure, but I believe it is "Winter" by Vivaldi. She has also done some sewing for herself which I hope she will blog about at some point as she wants cool and "easy wear" clothing that packs nicely.

Check out her Wares By Cherry page!

 
 
And if you would like to hear a little clip of some of their music: Come Thou Fount
 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Your Questions Answered Part 2

Natalia asked: "How are the other kids doing?"

Milena asks: "Also, I wonder what your other four children do currently? College for the older two - or are they working? Does Charity still play the violin?"

I'm glad you asked! They are all growing in one way or another! Not all of them are growing physically any more--after all, I am Mom to two full-fledged adults! But all of them are growing some how!

Todd is 23 and busy with work and college. After graduating with multiple honors and an Associates degree he took a break from college for a year or so, but started back again in the fall. He is continuing to mature in delightful ways and is a blessing in our home! He hopes to build us a chicken coop here in the next few weeks so we can try for egg layers this year. This is a long held dream for our family, so hopefully all the details work out this time--you would not believe the amount of things that have happened each year to stop this from happening! So I'll believe it when it actually is reality.

Charity is 20 now and I seriously don't know what I would do without her. She is a wonderful blessing with so many aspects of our family life! Charity also blesses the community through her involvement in MOPS and other volunteer activities. She is very involved with her musician's life and God has opened up some really cool opportunities for her through her musical abilities. In addition to teaching violin, she is a part of a chamber orchestra and very busy with that each week. She has a good reason to be very busy--her Chamber Orchestra is going to Japan in August for 10 days to perform! What an amazing opportunity for her! Additionally, she is traveling to England in June with her best friend and parents. Charity is very excited about these adventures and we are so excited for her!

Kristina is now "Sweet 16" and very busy with her school work, continuing to re-learn her Russian, expand her knowledge of American Sign Language, and helping me around the house. I can count on Kristina to be my best organizer! Back in Feb. I believe it was, she got to go with her Dad and me when he had a job in the general DC area. The timing was perfect for us to take her to the FRUA Russian Spring Festival at Hillwood Estate and Gardens and she (and we!) enjoyed it very much! She re-connected this winter via VK with a dear friend of hers who was with her when she was in the orphanage in Russia, and that has brought much peace of mind to Kristina, knowing her friend is alive and doing OK,

Katya is 11 and the light of all our lives! Yes, she still has plenty of challenges that she throws at us, but she is most definitely a part of our family and she knows it more and more! [And just a FYI for the nay-sayers who were saying we were definitely going to disrupt her (along with a lot of other trash made up about us) if you are reading this, I hope you think about this long enough to learn some important life lessons.]

Chad is 10 and still our sweet, funny, wonderful kid! This school year we did something new to us--we joined a local Co-Op and had weekly classes there. I'm glad we did--it's been beneficial and since Katya's need for an early bedtime keeps us from easily being able to participate in events that go on in the late afternoon or evening with our home school group, this weekly Co-Op has been great as we can get home before Katya needs someone at home to get her off the school van. Chad has really enjoyed the Co-Op and I'm glad for some help teaching some things like Art that I did not feel like I was doing that well accomplishing! Chad loves helping his Dad with projects--Chad has so much strength he is often a real asset now for things requiring strength! Chad is an awesome part of our family and brings joy to us every day.

And there you go!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Answers to Questions Part 1

Angela asks:

"How is Katya's signing going? How many signs does she use independently? Also is she independent with eating/drinking? Can she use normal utensils/cup etc??"

Katya continues to learn ASL. She understands that this works for her, both at home and some what at school (many of the staff there are fluent in basic ASL, and some of the kids know ASL as well). She loves learning new signs, and in fact has learned new ones on her own just from watching "Signing Time" videos--and then we have to try to figure out what she is telling us! Whoops! At times, because language is simply tough for her, Katya looses a sign and then is very frustrated and will try several times even though she does not remember the sign. Often, we can figure it out by asking her lots and lots of yes and no questions and then refresh her memory on the correct way to sign what she wants.

How many signs Katya uses independently is anyone's guess! She uses enough now that we no longer attempt to catalog them! The last time we did so was several years ago and she had well over 100 in addition to the alphabet and numbers at that point! Her vocabulary has continued to grow since that time. Additionally, Katya uses her Ipad with communication app to communicate beyond what she knows in ASL at school. She does not prefer to use her Ipad however, and so mainly signs and uses what verbal language she has here at home.

Katya came home able to independently convey food and drink to her mouth. Please note the word "convey". She has since refined her skills and much improved them!! She has room to grow in this area but no one is concerned probably about it except her Mama at this point. ;-) And yes, Katya uses all normal table utensils and dishes! She also understands setting the table for meals with them and is quite happy to participate in this as it means food is coming soon!

Thank you for asking, Angela, and I hope that you will continue to comment on Katya's blog.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Question and Answer Time!

So it's that time again . . . what questions do you have that you would like answered?

You can ask anything you want, and if I can I will answer the questions as I have time!

Ask away!