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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Monday, March 6, 2017

Life Keeps Marching On

So it's March now and Paul finally has a replacement truck and is working hard to get it ready to haul cars again. We are thankful for everyone who has prayed and is still praying about the situation! He was able to take Chad with him to Pigeon Forge area to pick up the truck, which Chad enjoyed very much! After getting the paper work done, they spent a few hours enjoying the Great Smoky National Park. Chad thought that was amazing--it was his first time there.

I just asked him what his favorite memory of being there was: "Rock hopping--jumping from one big rock to the next! There were so many different shapes!" He said he also really enjoyed looking in the Welcome Center for the Great Smoky Mountains. I'm really glad it worked out for him to get to go with Paul and have a bit of a fun field trip!

Back in the fall, when the fires were roaring in the area, Chad had seen a news report about Ripley's Aquarium being safe. He got so excited and told us that he wanted to go there someday! Well, wasn't it so nice that it worked out for Paul to be able to take Chad due to needing to go to the area to get the work truck?! We thought so. I hunted online to find the cheapest ticket prices, and Chad was delighted to have his dream come true! Chad has sacrificed much over the last number of years, and done without many things that should rightfully be his and so I'm always thrilled when something good can happen for him.

Katya has been discovering the joy of making things with paper. We were tickled to observe she had clearly cut out a rabbit this past week after observing and petting (!) some at Rural King.

Speaking of Katya, she has some Doctor's appointments coming up next month again at Johns Hopkins. We would appreciate prayers for wisdom for the Doctor's and us as we discuss another surgery and try to determine if doing it this year is wise. While there are many reasons that it seems like it would be wise to do it in May 2017, we just are not 100% sure and we need clarity and wisdom. These surgeries are so risky, so stressful that we need to know for sure that it's what we are supposed to do now before we proceed. We know God is the one who knows all and knows if it's wise for Katya to have the surgery now or if we should continue to wait. So thankful He knows and can open and close the doors for us to help us arrive at the right decision.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feb Goings On

We are still waiting word from the insurance company about the payout for the truck. Yes, Paul calls every day. Yes, we are being persistent. Yes, we are doing all we know to do. It is hard being patient, especially as no truck means no income for us.

Even though Paul had full coverage on the truck, we are finding that what they *do* cover is really limited since the truck caught on fire, instead of oh, say being stolen. The insurance company, among other things, isn't covering the tools or his personal belongings that went up in smoke. He lost some where in the neighborhood of $1,000 worth of tools and hundreds of dollars of personal items that he needed for work such as insulated coveralls etc.

A friend started an auction fundraiser for us and are working on doing all they can to raise funds to help off-set some of those expenses. We are deeply grateful for everyone kindly pitching in and doing what they can to help!

Katya continues to work on her communication here at home and else where. We finally figured out that evidently all these years she had thought her Ipad ("talker") was only to be used officially at school. That would explain her secretive usage of it here at home for several years! I stumbled on to this purely by accident when one day when I was trying yet again to get her to use her device and she was unhappily screeching at me.  I finally exclaimed, "Katya, Miss Lindsey [her SLP] WANTS you to use her talker here at home too!" From that day on, things have improved so we have occasionally repeated that piece of information, just to keep it fresh in her mind.

It's paying off!

Katya came the other day, caught my eye, picked up her device while periodically checking on me to make sure I was still watching her, and then told me the above all 100% on her own! For whatever reasons, tearing paper is something she does when she is stressed and to date she has been perfectly content to grab any paper--preferably something she suspects might be important to us--and trash it. For her to communicate that she needed paper to tear was HUGE. Now, granted, she'd already trashed one of Todd's college papers before she came and showed me this, but she evidently was feeling bad about it and wanting more paper to tear that was appropriate for her. Needless to say, we praised her for communicating and got her all the paper she wanted!

Kristina turned 17 and we had a low key family birthday party for her.

When I went to get groceries and flowers for Kristina's birthday meal, I prayed for cheap flowers. I had to search a good while but I finally found two clearance packages of flowers that were SO pretty. . . . and only $2.99 each! So I got the flowers for about $6.00. Charity sorted out the ones that were not fit to display and arranged the rest so beautifully. Kristina was thrilled.

Kristina wanted a gluten/dairy free coconut cake. She helped Charity make it. It was really tasty I thought.

And now she is 17 and we can't sing, "You are 16, going on 17!" any more to her, but we told her we can sing, "You are 17, going on 18!" now! ;-)

One of Paul's relatives was en-route to visit relatives in Canada and met up with Paul and the kids for awhile the other day for a little. Chad and Kristina were happy to see some of their cousins again!

Paul's parents had given all their kids a beef cow some time ago and Paul's relatives brought the last of our meat to us too! We are so thankful to have that in our freezer right now!

How is your Feb going??

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Out In a Blaze

This Monday our hearts were full of enthusiasm. Katya was home from school due to MLK day but we were going to go and reward the cavity-free club at our house with a much desired trip to Menchies for sorbet. And Paul had the best load he'd found since starting to haul vehicles in 2016, so things were looking great!

We went off to Menchies and enjoyed, and then shopped at a thrift store. Found a few necessary things we were happy about and came home to fix a simple supper of burgers and fries. Around 8:00 pm I did briefly think about the fact that Paul had not called the house around 7:30 or so as he typically does if he is away from home. He usually calls around then so he can talk to the children before they go to bed. But that is all it was . . . a passing thought. Ever since praying earlier in the day with the kids, specifically for Paul and his equipment to be safe and work well, I'd felt at peace, and I thought nothing more about it until the phone rang around 8:30 pm and I saw it was Paul calling. I was surprised to have him say, "Well, it looks like my car hauling days are over at least for a few weeks!"

"Why ever?!" I asked, instantly alert.

"My truck burned up!"

While going through the hills in PA he had sensed that the truck didn't seem to be running very good and had started looking for a pull-over area. He found a scenic look-over, pulled in and got out to check under the hood and was met with flames! He dashed for the fire extinguisher and discharged it and thought at first all had gone out. But about that fast, WHOMP. It came back with force and fury and he knew then that his only hope was a fast call to 911 and he called them and then began throwing out of the cab what he could. He only got some items out such as his business brief case,  pillow, duffle bag, ice chest and some tools before he had to retreat. He lost many tools, his insulated coveralls, his sleeping bag and many other items.

Fortunately, the fire trucks arrived in time to get the fire out and save the vehicles he was hauling--just barely. A few more minutes and they would have been badly damaged, if not completely ruined.

The pictures the next day were rather sickening to behold.

We are grateful he got out safely and that the timing was such that he was able to pull into the scenic overlook, rather than block the road, which would have prevented the fire fighters from being able to get up out of the valley to him in a timely manner. We are grateful that there were no accidents or injuries to others!

So now we sit and wait to try to get all this sorted out . . .  We appreciate prayers for the process.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!!!

A few quick facts about 2016

* I tore my rotator cuff in Jan and spent several weeks in agony and holding still, trying to heal without surgery. Thankfully, that paid off and I'm now healthy and whole again and ALMOST "as good as new" finally. All of this was only able to be accomplished with a LOT of help and support from my family!

* Katya had the healthiest year she has ever had with us! YAY!!

* Charity and Kristina found seasonal work at a pumpkin farm in the fall.

* Charity traveled to England AND Japan.

* Chad was able to travel for a week with his Dad on a job and very much enjoyed his trip to Texas, with a stop in OK to see relatives there briefly.

* Katya has continued to expand her world, getting braver about various things. She has welcomed our guinea pigs into heart and enjoys even letting them nibble and sniff at her fingers now!

* We went through some hard things in 2016. The "purging process" of finding out who is a true friend and what are safe groups, when you have a child with a high level of special needs, continues. However, with the purging process, we have also been blessed to find some new and healthy options for our family. Good people are out there--they just have to be found and the process to find them can be long.

* The same good Father who helped us get Katya home continues to be our God and Father. No matter what happens, He is good and faithful! And that makes us happy, and thankful.

What does 2017 hold for our family? We are not entirely sure. What is sure is that there is likely to be a handful of change ahead. We have two adult children who are moving forward with their lives, and that looks to be bringing changes. Our other children are getting older and things are changing. We really no longer have "little children". Even Katya is now enjoying her last year before she becomes a TEEN (gasp!). Paul and I continue to pray about what God has in store for our family. We'd appreciate your prayers if you think of it too. ;-)

Happy, Happy New Year to you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lots Going On!

Life keeps moving on and we are busy!

Katya had a good Thanksgiving break. We were able to meet up with friends at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens the Friday after Thanksgiving. Planning this was a bit of a nervous moment as we were not at all sure how Katya would do with it, but we were hopeful that with plenty of preparation ahead of time, she would enjoy it. And she did! Stan Hywet made it easier for us by posting photos and short video clips on their FB page for several weeks leading up to our trip there and so we made sure to show Katya those and discuss it, as well as marking the event on her calendar. When the day came to go, I said, "Katya, tonight we are going to go to the big house to look at lights!" She moved over to her calendar, pointed to the correct day and looked at me with a questioning look on her face. She was happy to get confirmation and took the whole event in stride. She loved walking and looking at the lights outside, and even handled the crush and slow shuffle through the house quite well!

I think two of my favorite memories of that evening involve her. One was her wide eyed stare inside the house at the tree as we were going up the stairs! (She's there--you just have to find her!)

The other memory was after we were done with the tour and were getting ready to part ways and go home, we asked our kids who wanted hot cider. And just like that, Katya's hand flew up into the air! She wanted it! She stood patiently in the long line till her Daddy was able to get the cider for her and her siblings who wanted it. Such a long, long way Miss Katya has come! It felt so very nice to be able to be able to do something with friends as a family again!

Chad's room has been getting a "make-over" to make it more friendly for his allergies and asthma. Since we were stripping out the carpet and putting down a hard floor, we decided to pain the walls before hand since they were in need of paint after a succession of children through that room in the last 10 or so years.  Chad was happy to choose Gratifying Green from Sherwin Williams.

The room is not entirely put back together but we are very nearly done. Chad is pretty happy with how it is shaping up. It feels good to be getting that project behind us, and I'm pleased with the fresh look.

We also, shock of shock, actually managed to get some family snap shots taken this December!!

After several years without any family pictures, I'm quite happy about that! It was a bit of a challenge to manage to catch everyone home as our adult kiddos have schedules that they need to adhere to, and Paul's work makes catching him at the same time as everyone else super hard, but we finally had it happen!

Now we are busy with different Christmas related events--musical events and other things. It's a most wonderful time of the year! ;-)


The other day Katya came home from school and we went to offer her a snack of jelly bread. She began to fuss heavily. It was obvious she did NOT want jelly bread! "Katya, I hear you don't want jelly bread! Get your 'talker' and tell us what you DO want for a snack!"

She knew what she wanted for a snack!

You want crackers and [goat's] cheese? Indeed you shall have that, child!!

Little by little, a little more communication is coming.

We are very, very thankful for that!!

Katya loves to tease. The other night I was tucking her and Kristina in and went to leave the room. "Good night, girls!" I said. Katya immediately faked giant snores. It is hard to believe such giant snores can come from such a petite miss! I began to laugh and said, "Oh no, Kristina! Katya beat you going to sleep!" Katya began to giggle and giggle. I asked her if she had been trying to tease me and she giggled even harder.

Thankful for this kiddo and her siblings every day!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Like it or not, fall is coming. So rather than fighting it, we are trying to embrace it.

We did some cleaning in the living room today and started putting out our touches of fall d├ęcor.

This is a new room brightener for this fall. We took a vase and some fall glass beads we had on hand,  and then added a cheap pack of pinecones, pumpkins etc., and the miniature lights.

We all love it. I think it needs a little more yet to finish filling up the vase and hide where the light cord runs over the lip of the vase to the battery pack hiding behind it, so I may add some fall silk leaves and things yet to the top--not sure yet. It's fun to have my finger in a small project again--it's been a good while since I have done anything like this! I never used to think I was really a creative person but I have discovered that really I am. If I'm not at least occasionally creative, it isn't a good thing.

Along with sprucing up the house for fall, we are focusing on trying to make sure that the kiddos have what they need for winter weather. Charity has been helping me by sewing a warm jumper for Katya for the rapidly approaching cooler days of fall.

Katya is very interested in the progress and seems exceedingly pleased.

Kristina has sewn a warm, flannel PJ bottom for herself


and one for Katya.
And so, little by little, we are getting ready for the cooler days.
Among other things, we are remembering that a year ago, God kept Katya alive when she was desperately ill from a massive infection in her head post grafting surgery.
This picture was snapped seconds before she was wheeled to the OR on Sept 20, 2015, for an emergency surgery to do what needed to be done to clean out the infection and save her life. As you can see, sepsis was doing it's deadly work and Katya was a very, very sick girl. She couldn't have hung on much longer with out the appropriate medical attention.
How thankful we are that Katya is alive and happy today! Here she was Saturday helping me to put away the shopping!
What are you doing for fall?