"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, August 29, 2012

A Piercing Shriek!!

When Katya takes her nightly bath, we usually park one of the assorted females of the family in the bathroom to sit there since Katya can't get help via called questions. We usually take in a book, or a computer, or (in the case of one of the females) a doll to play with, and while we keep an ear and a side eye on Katya, we tend to let her enjoy her bath generally in peace, since she seems to be fond of that now.

Tonight Charity was sitting with Katya, and when she wanted to tell me something, stepped out of the bathroom and into my bedroom right next door. We were calmly conversing, when a heart-stopping, ear piercing shriek emanated from the bathroom! Charity went flying and I chased on her heels to see Katya out of the tub, standing and wailing in fright!

With a little investigation, Charity soon spotted the culprit . . . a harmless cricket sitting on the edge of the tub! Poor Katya was thoroughly traumatized, and was not consoled until she saw that Charity had firmly captured the cricket and was on the way out of the bathroom to dispose of it. Then she waved "Good-bye" at it in a relieved fashion, and crawled back into the tub to finish her soak.

Charity and I indulged in a little gentle chuckling after Katya was settled back down. It's the only way to survive that heart-stopping shriek!!! Well, laughter--and some chocolate!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Family Pictures

Family Picture 2012 -- a lot better than last year's!
Just the kids...Katya is rubbing her lip, not picking her nose. :)
Went with this as the best one because everybody else looks best!

Two youngest walking with Papa and Mama.

Three youngest!




Katya looking angelic

Katya looking happy

Katya looking absolutely stunning :)

And Chad being Chad!

Mister and Missus

Actually achieved Chad and Katya sitting togehter on the bench looking at the duck pond.
She wasn't overly pleased with the idea, but we got her to sit there for a few seconds -- long enough to get a picture.

Pictures taken by Amy Wakefield. (C) 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School--Then and Now

This was last year . . . .

This is this year . . . .

A year makes a big, big, big difference, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


 Food time on the trip to the Speech Pathologist

I don't have any photos of our time with the SLP, so  the next ones are from after the appointment.

Katya was VERY curious about the figurines at the Creation Museum. She was trying to reach into the pocket of the boy's jacket to find his hand that appeared to be tucked into the pocket!

 Katya took apart and then re-did the 36 piece puzzle of Noah's Ark. It wasn't the easiest puzzle to do either!

Chad was getting tired of waiting for her to be done and was showing her he'd help--the look on her face was NOT one of assent . . . and he had to quickly pull his hand back . . .

Charity took this photo of Chad walking through the museum.

This fascinating quilt was donated to the Museum by a lady from Canada.

Close ups of some of the scenes . . . 

 The children sucking their candy sticks while walking the grounds.

We enjoyed walking around the grounds. The plantings are so much more developed then when we were last there a handful of years ago. Chad loved the little pond with the fish--and Katya was definitely interested but was too afraid to get very close, due to the fish.

I could have enjoyed a WHOLE LOT MORE TIME walking and sitting around the gardens.

We had Katya wear her new back-to-school outfit, and her shoes, that day to start breaking them in  . . . we had a hard time finding shoes for her this year that we were satisfied with. We finally found these on clearance at Gymboree (plus combined with a 20% off coupon we had) and she loves, loves, loves them as near as we can tell! Her feet are still so very narrow that they are a bit "wide" even though they are regular sized shoes. However, they do seem like they will stay on so we'll go with that and hope that as she continues to gain weight and grow they will start to fit even a little better than they do right now.

Love the happy look on Chad's face here! He truly enjoyed his time with us!

It's fun getting to see her enjoy new experiences! What a difference a year has made in her life . . . While taking her through the CM was still challenging, she did great FOR HER. In terms of how she behaves, she is all over the chart . . . it's hard to say what age level she is at right now--in many ways she is only around a 2 year old, in other ways, she is easily her age. And then it's all over the chart inbetween those two ages, depending on what we are talking about. However, when we first brought her home, most of her ability and responses to life were some where on the level of a 6 month old child. Knowing as we do that trauma in a child's life, can freeze them at that the age developmentally that the trauma occurred, it does not surprise us. Katya was transferred from the hospital where she spent the first 5 months of her life to the orphanage where she stayed until we busted her out when she was 6.5 years old. The abuse and neglect that Katya experienced in the orphanage has shaped her life and her responses to things. But slowly, as she is given the love and attention of a family, she is changing. In addition to her changing emotionally and developmentally, Katya has gained weight and gotten bigger! In June of 2011, she came home wearing size 3T clothing that bagged on her. She had no body fat. The clothes she has on in the photo? The top is a size 7. It's a big baggy in the shoulders due to how narrow she is, but she needs it to be a 7 for the length. The skirt is a size 6. Her shoes are a size 1. Last year her shoes were 12's.

When we stopped for supper on the way home, Chad on his own carefully picked a table that was just right for us, and then set it all up nicely with a cup of ketchup at each place! He did this totally on his own, and we were so pleased and proud of him! He is growing up too!

And I leave you with one last photo of the day of Katya, as she sat, anticipating the food she knew she was about to get! She often still tries to hide her smiles but we see the sparkle in her eyes and know she is pleased. ;-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speech Eval Update

On Sunday late afternoon, we dropped Kristina off with friends, and then Paul, Charity, Chad, Katya and I headed out of town to where we needed to spend the night in order to be at Katya's speech eval on time. We got there safely, got Katya bathed and into bed, where she fell asleep without too much issue, and then the rest of us got ourselves to bed too.

The next morning, we found where she was supposed to be after a little hassle, and met Kate, the SLP again. We had a very lively 2 hours with her. Katya was wary of her, and didn't want to interact much, but Kate was able to observe Katya interacting with us, and playing with toys, and doing some ASL with us, as well as making her latest and greatest "up"!

Kate, the SLP, is going to write up a long report and send it to us with her ideas/observations. However, she did already tell us a few things that are noteable.

#1. SLP said that given where Katya was a year ago, she has made absolutely amazing progress in a year's time, esp given no more therapy/support than she was given in school, no official therapy out of school, and us just figuring things out and winging it with her on our own. Kate said she would not have expected to see this level of progress given all that has gone on. She said clearly we are doing well with Katya, and that we need to continue as we have been.

#2. She wants us to continue the ASL with her, as she said Katya is obviously doing well with that, and it's working for her.

#3. SLP is going to put some thought into communication devices for her, and make some possible recommendations. She is thinking we should start with an IPAD and an app or two and see how that goes at this point.

#4. Kate was very encouraged that Katya is continuing to be able to whisper "UP" for us,  and she said that she feels like in terms of Katya's speech development we need to consider her as a very, very young child right now given her history/background/surgery. So she is HOPEFUL for more speech in the future, though she admitted that Katya is certainly a case all her own and that she has no other cases that are even similar to compare it to to have any kind of an idea what might or might not be in her future in terms of speech. But based on every thing we were able to tell her, she feels very hopeful for Katya's future ability to communicate more and more at a fairly good level, whether by signing, communication devices and/or speech.

After we were done with the eval, we went and got lunch, then thanks to the generosity of some local friends who arranged for us to borrow passes from a friend of theirs, we were able to go to the Creation Museum for a few hours and enjoy walking around there. It was a nice treat for all of us, and especially for Chad who has been longing badly to go to a Museum again. Very thankful for Laura and her thoughtful heart making this possible for us!

Katya wasn't too sure about the museum, but she did really well (for her) and by trading off which one of us were primarily caring for her, we were able to all get some enjoyment out of the time there. Katya enjoyed the 36 piece puzzle of Noah's ark and took it apart, then put it all back together with very little help from us! She stuck at it till it was all done. I was proud of her. ;-)

We got a few photos especially when we were walking around outside, so I hope to get those uploaded and share some of them another time. Now I need to switch loads of laundry around, and then get the rest of the items on Katya's back to school list! Katya will be going to her school's open house tonight, and then starting back to school on Thursday. When we ask her if she would like to go back to school, she smiles and signs "Yes" so I think she will be ready. This extended time at home (since her surgery in March) has been good for her, but I think it's time for her to go back to school. She needs the extra stimulation, and we need the chance to focus more on things that are getting neglected such as Chad needing more time and attention from his Mommy. Hopefully with Katya being able to understand more English, being in better health, and her being more secure, this school year will be a successful one for her, with lots of learning able to occur.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

News Flash!!!

Earlier this week, I thought several times that when Katya wanted to be picked up she might have been whispering something . . . In fact, I was fairly sure she was, but with my old ears, I didn't want to shout about it for sure. In fact, I did as I find that I often am wont to do--I simply was like Mary of old and kept it and pondered on it in my heart. I didn't share it even with Paul.

Today, we went to "Amish Country" to stock up on spelt flour again, and pick up a few other necessities. At the farm where we get our spelt flour (25 lbs whole grain, 25 lbs white--that will hopefully get us through the next handful of months) there was a small dog today! Katya was so worried getting out of the van that she about climbed on her Daddy's head and kept clinging to him until he got her safely into the store. Then she was content to move around at my side, but when she realized that we were gathering up our purchases and preparing to go back outside, she immediately sidled over by her Dadddy. I smiled to myself, as I knew she was probably making sure Daddy would carry her out the door for her "safety". Sure enough--she held up her arms, indicating she wanted to be picked up.

Paul said to her, as we do, "Katya, say, 'Uuuu!' if you want me to pick you up."

And Katya said what I thought she had been saying earlier in the week--in a nice whisper--"UP!"

Paul's face as he looked at me was worth the "keeping quiet" I had done! ;-) He looked so shocked and pleased as he exclaimed, "She said 'UP'!"

Yes, that's what I thought I heard her say several times earlier in the week . . .

Let us hope and pray that this is the start of many, many more words to come, and eventually full speech . . .

Since Katya has a big speech evaluation Monday, this is very timely! We can discuss this latest excitement at her speech evaluation, and hopefully it will help provide a clue for the speech language pathologist.

We appreciate your prayers for our sweet little gal.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fun at the Fair

On Wednesday our local fair had a "Get in for a can of Coke" day. It was fine to have it be a full can or an empty can, and since we had Coke on hand from killing off mice back in the fall/winter, we took our chance to get into the fair, loaded up all 7 of us into our mini-van and went.

For visibility purposes, we dressed Katya in the same outfit she wore home from Ukraine. It sagged and bagged horridly on her then. Now just a little over a year later, it's soon too small for her! She was not impressed that Charity wanted her to lift up her signature sunglasses so she could get a clear shot of her face to have on our camera/phone. We try to remember to always do that when we go out into public with Katya so were she (God-forbid!) to be separated from us, that we have photos of her and her outfit to show local law enforcement.

Part of our purpose in going to the fair was also to take our chance to get a photo ID card for Katya, and the other young ones. Chad had one from when he went to Safety Town, but that was a few years ago, so it needed updated anyway. These are handy little cards, about Driver's License size, that we can carry in our wallets. On them is all our child's current basic info that we would need to show to any law enforcement officer were one of our children to be separated from us! They contain a photo, thumbprint and so on. Additional info is stored electronically and can be obtained by law enforcement personnel even outside of this area if we show them the ID card. For us, esp. with Katya being non-verbal, it's a good way to prove that she is our child even in a lost, and then found, situation.

So once we got in to the fair, we traipsed off straight-away to the Sheriff's tent and got that important bit of business taken care of. Katya was NOT impressed with having to sit for her photo but we got that taken care of finally after a few attempts and walked out of there with ID cards in hand.

Sadly for me, Chad talked me into riding the "Scrambler" with him right after this. I thought it looked fairly tame, but after the operator decided that since there weren't enough would be victims waiting for a ride, they would take us on an entire THREE circuits of high speed forwards, and then backwards, while slinging us from side to side at the same time, instead of the usual one circuit,  I was in trouble. Paul, who was watching from the safety of the ground with Katya who was too short to go on the ride, said I got greener and greener the longer it went on. I know I would have been fine after the first circuit, but when it went on for a whole 'nother circuit, and then a third . . . I began to feel worse and worse. Let it be said to my credit that I got off that ride without puking or staggering, but my brain literally HURT for the next 24 hours plus. Thankfully, Chad had no adverse effects from the extra "freebie".

We then set out to find a ride that would be tame enough for Katya to try. We got some recommendations for a ride called "Crazy Schoolbus" and Charity and Kristina said they would try going on it with Katya. I wasn't in shape to even consider any more rides right then, and Paul does **NOT** do rides due to how sensitive his tummy/head are.

Thankfully, Katya LOVED the Schoolbus ride when she went on it. Charity was able to get a lot of nice photos of her! Look how happy Katya was!!

 And because it was so empty, and the rider operators saw how happy Katya was, they let her get a second ride! Then she REALLY was happy!!

I wish the one care-giver who seemed to care about Katya could have seen her! I think it would have filled her heart with joy to see Katya so happy and doing something so normal for a child of her age.

We stayed at the fair for almost 6 hours. And most of that time Katya was fairly happy. There was a problem when Charity tried to take Katya down the long slide. Katya was fine with the idea until she actually got towards the top and realized how high she was. Then she became VERY nervous, and kept wringing her glasses with the stress she felt, and they broke! Uh Oh! When Charity actually was sitting down to come down the slide with her, Katya screamed but then was totally silent the whole way down. She looked pretty relieved when she got to the bottom of the slide!

After that I took her into one of the tents to watch some other events, as she needed to get out of the sun. She enjoyed watching juggling, men jumping on a trampoline etc. She did start wanting to pinch her neighbors towards the end of the time there, so it was high time to get out and move on.

 Katya did not seem to enjoy riding on the merry-go-round with Charity and Kristina nearly as much as she had the Crazy Schoolbus.
 But when she saw me looking at the photos after we were home, she got a faint twinkle in her eye, and signed, "Happy! Happy!" to me. So I guess she did still enjoy it!
Due to the wide age range of our children and Katya's issues limiting what she was able to handle at this point, we spent the majority of the day split up in various directions. However, we did stay in touch with our cell phones and would meet up as we could.

Unfortunately, when I tried to take Katya past the goats she became freaked completely out and was climbing up on me, screeching and sobbing. NOTHING we said or did calmed her until we finally gave up and walked away. I still contend that her abnormal fear of common animals had to have been planted in her deliberately, for in addition to not turning a hair over the huge stuffed buffalo at the Smithsonian in DC, she did not turn a single hair over the big old full-grown camel just a few feet away from her performing tricks in the tent. She was curious and alert, but not screaming and hysterical like she is for sheep, goats, dogs, fish, cows etc.  The injustice of what was done to my daughter hits me again at moments like that, and I again cried angry and sad tears walking through the fair, holding my little girl's hand. The only thing I can console myself with is that at least she is out of there, and HOME and learning to know the world from a sane and normal perspective, that she is no longer abused and neglected, that she has a chance for life and a future and a hope . . .  the fact that she could go to the fair this year and enjoy being a child in so many ways--all the way from her rides to the popsicle she had, speaks volumnes about the change a year has brought into her life.

Last year, while we were adopting her, the city she lived in celebrated "Children's Day". There was a huge, huge party and to-do in the park across from her orphanage. The mayor and all kinds of important goverment officials were there, and there were lots of performances with music, balloons and dancing. Children put on some really cute performances, and vendors were selling ice cream and other child-friendly snacks. Paul and I spent about an hour watching and listening and soaking in the culture of our daughter's birth country. But it wasn't HER culture. She wasn't allowed to leave the fence and go to that even though it was just across the street and would have cost NOTHING for the care-givers to take the children in their charge there. It wasn't for them . . . the world was closed to them. She knew nothing of life outside her fence, really.

Now, she does. Now, there is no longer a fence holding her back. Katya is free to become the child God created her to be. Baby steps as we help her learn to assimilate into the real world. Every day is part of that process. Some days are just bigger steps in that direction. Go, Katya, Go!!!