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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck
Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wintery Fun!

Yesterday started off with a up-down swing to the day. School is delayed for two hours due to the snow. OK, fine. Snuggle in bed a little longer. Ok, time to get up and get ready to go--whoops--no, school has been cancelled due to the road conditions.

So we started every thing at home off right with mugs of hot cocoa and fresh grapefruits.

Then Katya and Chad bundled up and went out to explore the great snowy outdoors.

They had a fantastic time together--can anyone say, "Snowballs?!"

Charity had violin students that braved the roads and came for lessons so that filled up a good chunk of the day, I helped Paul with a work project, plus did laundry. Kristina was busy helping and doing school.

And so by evening, all of us were tired, but not too tired for some of the family to want to play UNO together before heading to bed.

Katya is learning how to play UNO too and loves it.

She really enjoys the game, and can have a great and happy time with it--but she also takes it quite seriously as well!


We partially credit her school with this happy new development. While they are not doing UNO in her classroom, they are practicing some other social skill building games. I think that has put down a good foundation for Katya to be able to build on at home.

Today, even though it was bitterly cold, the roads are clear so Katya was happy to go to school again. But all of us  rather enjoyed the "snow day" yesterday.  It's good to have wintery fun.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Doctor Ben Carson--the Next President?

Of course we have been closely following Doctor Carson since he retired from his medical practice. So we were not surprised to find out today that he has announced that he has decided to run for President.

Should he win, it would feel very funny indeed to know that our President has not only shook our hands many times, but that he has operated on our child's brain!

Frankly, we wish him ALL the best! Having seen him even under pressure and stress in the hospital a few times, having heard what many, many people had to say about him from the cleaning ladies, to the cafeteria workers, to the nurses and other Doctors, we think he is the "real deal".

How very little did I dream when I read his book, "Gifted Hands" soon after it came out years ago that some day Dr Carson would be the Doctor who would save my child's life. And yet God planted the seed while I was reading that book . . . I remember calling my Mom up and saying, "Mom, if I ever had a child that needed serious brain surgery, I would want Dr Carson to be the one to do it."

Our family is truly grateful to Dr Carson for not only dreaming big, but putting his heart into his dreams so that God was able to prepare him and use him to save Katya's life not long before he retired. God's timing was impeccable.

And we are so grateful for that. Grateful for the chance at a healthy and relatively normal life for Katya that his willingness to take the risk of surgery gave her.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, Would You Look At That!

What's that? you ask? That my friends is a "Perler Bead" frog.

Katya came home from school, saw that Chad had made a frog using a little paper pattern (pictured below) and she began studying the pattern. Then she made her own frog--like the pattern. Please note, she only visually observed the pattern while holding it in her hand. She correctly placed the beads on a separate base.

Our girl is just full of surprises. I love that she is. I am thankful for healing. Thankful for how she is progressing.

But sometimes at times like this, I must admit, I am still angry at the neglect and abuse that she suffered. Katya could have been so much farther along in life by now had she been given even the most basic level of instruction and love and care.

I am still passionate with a fierce passion about what is going on for orphans in Ukraine--and Russia for that matter too. Our family will continue to advocate, continue to seek ways to help, and someday, God willing, we will do something in person to stem the awful hemorrhaging of  kids into the system in Ukraine. Someday, God willing . . . . I can not sit here and pretend it is all well and fine because Katya is home and safe with us. There are other kids who are in that same orphanage TONIGHT--right now. There are other kids in other orphanages which are even WORSE than where Katya was. It's not right. And as caring, decent humans, we need to do something to make a difference.

God willing . . . . and I pray the time comes sooner rather than later.

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . . .

Monday, October 20, 2014

Busy, Happy Days!

It seems we are having such busy, happy days there is never enough time. Charity's Monday's are full of violin students coming to the house, Tuesday's she goes to a biology Science class. She is taking the "honors track" so that is keeping her busy. Chad has been having reading tutoring on Tuesday's as well, which means I need to drop him off and pick him up an hour later. And Kristina and Chad both have piano lessons that day too. Wednesday's Charity has violin lessons (both private and group) and we try to all hit the library. Thursday's Chad has had reading tutoring again, and Friday is just packed with all the other stuff we are not getting done the other days of the week! Then Saturday's Chad has soccer and Sunday of course is full with church and sometimes other things! In addition to all that, there is Katya to get off to school every morning, and to welcome home every afternoon, along with events for her school, or special activities to participate in with her.

We have been working to ensure that Kristina can relearn her Russian, and as a part of that, we are trying to attend a Russian speaking church about an hour from our home once a month or so. The other Sunday, we took in their fall harvest festival. The service started at 12:00 noon and lasted about two hours. Then we all enjoyed an amazing pot-luck spread! Katya and Kristina both chowed down delightedly on dishes that tasted familiar to them. And we enjoyed trying some familiar type dishes as well as new ones that previously we had only read about--like "Herring Under a Fur Coat". 

Since the population of the church is primarily composed of families from various former USSR countries, the dishes were varied. We took a crock pot of Charity's amazingly delicious borscht and some good old American Rice Krispie treats to share--the latter seemed to be a big hit with the younger set there, and the former Charity got many nice compliments on.

The church was nicely decorated.

And much to the kiddos delight, the church was handing out plastic grocery store bags and inviting the children to select fruits and veggies to take home! My kiddos sure enjoyed that part!

In addition to the fun and good stuff, we have had some NOT so good stuff happen all in a short period of time. The transmission went out on our high-mileage mini-van, leaving us stranded an hour away from home till we got a rental car tracked down and all the other details figured out. Barely a week later, Paul and Chad were coming home from getting groceries when a lady coming from a viewing at a funeral home pulled out and slammed right into them. Paul's truck is inoperable due to that, and we are waiting on the insurance companies to solve that problem. Thankfully, neither Paul nor Chad were really hurt--Chad was scared very, very badly as she slammed into the truck on his side right behind where he was sitting. So he had some muscle tension and such from that but that was all. We have so much to be thankful for in both of those situations. And then, I suffered a concussion that has been impacting my life still way too much even though I feel fine now and am up and functioning. It just makes me rather stupid at times when it comes to simple things like oh say, talking--and Math. Hopefully since so much as improved for me already, those areas will continue to improve as well.

So that's the news from our neck of the world for now. How goes this fall for you all?!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Infinitely More

Today promises to be a good day. We are going to meet our friend, Alex Krutov, for food and another Russian lesson for the girls.

If you have never read his book, may I highly recommend it?!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vacation Part 2

By Day 2, Katya was a lot more settled into the idea of traveling instead of being in school. She did beautifully the rest of the trip for the most part, and truly seemed to enjoy it in spite of the many changes in her routine, new places, new faces, new foods and new experiences. All the books we had read to her ahead of time as prep to try to help her understand what a vacation was all about seemed to have been successful! ;-)

 She kept herself occupied in the van with activities.

She cooperated with our picnic meals.

She enjoyed smelling flowers.

She liked the water and the rocks.

She liked all the extra time to snuggle with her family members too!

(photo compliments of Kristina)

And once at the cabin on Lake Superior, Katya absolutely loved running out to the balcony each morning with her siblings when they woke up to look out over the lake!

(Photos used by permission of Charity, with the exceptions noted).

--To Be Continued