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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

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?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Back to School 2016-2017

Katya has started back to school.

She had a range of emotions on the first day.


A little anxious while waiting for the school van to arrive. (Break my heart!)

And then back to self confident once the van with her dearly beloved "van ladies" and her traveling companions arrived!

The reports coming in are all positive so far. Here's hoping for a great year!

In other news, Charity is enjoying a lot about her time in Japan. The "pestilence that stalketh by night" being a duly noted exception. It seems the cabins they are staying in at the one location are thoroughly loaded with vermin. Eep!! They are giving two concerts a day, plus rehearsals and so a lot of time is going into music, but they are also doing some hiking and other things. I am sure she will have a lot of good memories. Please keep praying for the group's safety and an enjoyable time for them all!

Friday, August 5, 2016


Katya's summer camp ended last week. We have given her a wall calendar of her own with just events that are pertinent to her marked on it, and it seems that is helping her to cope with changes a little better as she can keep checking the calendar to visualize what is going on.

She had another successful check up and cleaning. No cavities! I am grateful for how extremely patient the staff is with Katya at her office! It takes twice as long as it should to get a check up and cleaning done because they have to be so patient with her, but they get it done!! ;-)

Chad went off to camp for kids with pulmonary issues and came back yesterday tanned and happy!

He really enjoyed the dogs at camp--here he is telling them good-bye.

And after he was home, with his camp blanket! The camp has volunteers who make and donate a blanket for each kid's bed and they get to take the blanket home with them at the end of camp! So grateful that Chad has had the opportunity to attend camp there last year and this year.

Kristina has been helping at various events this year as a teen volunteer. She also got to travel with her friend B, to WI to the camp where she is volunteering and spend some time with her friend there. While helping with work was part of what Kristina did, she also got to have some fun!

One fine Saturday we went to a Farmer's Market as a family. Found a gluten and dairy free stand and the kiddos got to enjoy treats!

We also took a 1 day summer vacation and all 7 of us went to a Ukrainian Festival. It was a lot of fun!

Katya enjoyed the food like usual!

Chad hung out with the K-9 and his very nice handler.

Kristina took a turn too.

And so our summer keeps moving right along! Charity leaves next week [gulp!!] for Japan for what has turned into a NINETEEN DAY TRIP with about 30 some concerts planned! Please pray for her strength and stamina and for safety for the tour group if you think of it. I know they would all appreciate it.

We don't have much more time before school will start up again and things will be busy so we are packing as much into our days as we can. Today we will go meet up with a friend who moved out of town but is back visiting for the day. We will all enjoy sitting and visiting with her for awhile as she is dearly loved by all of us!

How is your summer going?