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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Years Ago Today . . . .

 . . we had a very, very, very long day.

It started only a few scant hours after I had collapsed into bed, as we had to get up in the wee early hours of the morning to make the drive to the airport in Kiev to catch our flight home. (Edited to add that our flight left Kiev airport at 6:45 AM, and arrived at our home airport around 8:00 PM. And we went through a 7 hour time difference . . .)

Due to "issues" in country, our exit was done carefully, and our drop-off at the airport was conducted being mindful of certain things. Unfortunately, our driver dropped us off at entirely the wrong terminal. And only after we had drug our tired selves, and a sleepy, screaming Katya into the terminal did I realize that we had a long, long, long walk ahead of us, trying to drag our suitcases up and over curbs. Grimly, we set out, walking. Did I mention that due to starvation, Katya was so easily exhausted that I had to carry her much of the long walk, plus try to drag a suitcase yet too?! It was, to say the least, extremely interesting.

I am ever so glad that I had Charity by my side! Even though she was a slight 15 year old at the time, she pulled and carried all she could, and kept her chin up. Once we arrived at the correct terminal, we got into the very, very, very long line for check-in. We stood and stood and stood. Katya was so restless and of course didn't understand what was going on, and was completely and utterly overwhelmed by all the crowds, strange noises, strange sights and many other new sensations! Charity finally figured out a trick that worked to help soothe Katya--holding her up into the air as high as she could reach, so that the breeze from the vents blew on her face and hair . . . by doing that again and again and again, we some how got through.

Getting through security was interesting the whole entire way home. No matter what country, Katya's ear piercing, heart-stopping screams would clear the way for us to get through security at top speed.

Too bad it couldn't have sped things up for us on the plane!

I only regret that I did not bring industrial strength ear plugs for all of us, plus many, many more to hand out to all our neighbors!

Charity would look at poor Katya, screaming at the top of her lungs, and yell, "Mom! She's going to die before we get home!" And I would yell back, as I too viewed the blood veins bulging  out of Katya's forehead, "She might, Dear! But at least she will have died loved!"

And while you may say, "How terrible!" you weren't there to have seen the way her blood veins bulged. We didn't know if Katya had some type of abnormal blood vein formation internally as well that could perhaps have an aneurysm just waiting to rupture under the combined stress of the change in altitude,  plus Katya's case of panic and anger which was clearly stressing her body to dangerous levels. When you are many, many hours from land, and dealing with a tremendously traumatized child who can not speak, and limited medical information on said child, remember, you have to adopt a set of thought processes that will get you through.

And for me, that is what it was. I knew I couldn't stop her dying on the plane, so I could only reassure myself that if she did die, she would have died loved. (Incidentally, that belief was also helpful for me when she was away from me for over 12 hours having her cranial vault expansion and reconstruction at Johns Hopkins mere months later . . . )

As we continued to change planes, Katya became less agitated on each flight. I think partially she was too worn out to continue screaming non-stop (as she did from Kiev to Munich, Germany), plus she was seeing that nothing bad happened to her. In fact, there were interesting stim-toys in her little back back, food, drinks and trips to the bathroom.

So her screaming became an off and on thing. When it happened, it was still heart-stopping, and the faces of all nearby passengers would become more and more stressed and grim looking. I'm sure many of them wondered what on earth was wrong with our daughter!  (Yes, adopting should teach us about learning not to be ugly and judgmental about other people's children!)

Remember that due to all the time changes, our June 30, 2011 drug on and on. By the time we arrived at Washington DC, and got through Passport Control, and then security, we had been standing in line trying to keep Katya happy for a good few hours. Charity and I were absolutely exhausted, and were taking turns having crying jags. We were hot, sweaty, and in dire need of food and drinks.

When we finally, finally found our gate, Katya set up a huge wailing as she realized that we were NOT at the end of the impossibly long day. There were no seats for us, but I collapsed on the floor.

"Charity, I'm so sorry, but you MUST take this money and go get food for us!" I told her. "If we can all eat and drink, we will feel better! Just grab the closet place and get something!"

"I can't do that!" poor Charity protested.

 "You either have to go or stay here with Katya while I go! Which do you want to do?!" Charity grabbed the $20 and fled to the nearest food place, while  I found an outlet, plugged my dead cell phone in, and dialed Paul. When he answered, I nearly wept with relief. "We're here, back in America. Katya is screaming and crying again. I'm so tired! I think she thinks we are never going to stop flying!"

"Let me talk to her!" Paul said, and I pressed the phone to Katya's ear. Weeping and howling stopped as she heard the voice of her Papa. She soon pushed the phone away, laid down flat on the floor, and when I looked at the poor dear, here is what I saw!

Until we know otherwise, we are theorizing that Katya had begun to believe she was never, ever going to get to America to Papa . . . but hearing his voice, gave her enough peace of mind that she was able to stop crying, relax, and fall asleep. When Charity arrived with the hastily purchased fries and burgers, we barely had time to snatch a few bites before they began boarding the plane for Ohio!

Charity managed all the luggage she could, while I scooped the still sleeping Katya in my arms and had to carry her all the way down a long hall, and then a very steep flight of stairs, and then try to walk across the tarmac, and then climb the narrow, step stairs to the small commuter plane that took us to our home-town airport. I buckled her into her seat and Katya only stirred minimally. She slept most of the way to the airport, and then still groggy, I carried her down the stairs and through the airport.

I was so tired my entire body quivered with fatigue--and nerves. I had done it. I had brought my two daughters safely back to America, and in seconds I would be able to hand them over into my husband's strong arms, and let him take over while I collapsed for some much needed rest.

And then, I saw them--happy faces standing at the end of the hall, beaming! There they were! MY FAMILY! And oh! There were friends!! I handed Katya into Paul's arms, he grabbed her slight little body and then grabbed me for a long, long hug!! "We're here!!" I tearfully told him. "We're safe!"

And then, together, we turned to face our friends, their smiling faces welcoming us, as we began life together as a family of seven.

Photo: Home!

(Todd missing in the photo . . . )

Having stirred when she was handed off to her Daddy, Katya soon fell back asleep, and Paul carried her, still sleeping, out to the car.

Katya arrived home, we took her and showed her the downstairs, took her up to the girls' bedroom. She clearly recognized her bed from the photo album we had taken for her, and climbed right into the bed and lay down! We got her out of her shoes and clothes into her nightie, and kissed her good-night, patted her a bit, and she was OUT.

The long, long, long day that went on well over 24 hours had finally come to an end for her. And for us.

By the mercy and grace of God, we were safely back at home in our own beds. And thus ended our day, two years ago.

Tonight, as I sit typing this, Katya is mere feet away from me, enjoying her nightly soak in the tub. She has cycled through the sounds she can make, and the word (!!!) she can say, having said, "Daddy!" Daddy!"  She has had a good day overall, with only a little screaming and crying a few times, and with lots of smiles and giggles. She went to church, and got to enjoy running around afterwards playing with the other kids. Then she had a picnic lunch. Katya watched "Signing Time" in the car AND at home, she played outside, and played with toys. Such a very, very different day for all of us than two years ago!

Thank you to the many, many people who have blessed our journey to Katya, and who continue to pray for us and support as in our journey since she is home. We are so very grateful that Katya blesses our lives with her presence. We are glad she is safe, loved, and well-cared for. What a difference two years makes!

We look forward to seeing what the third year of life with Katya is like! ;-)

Friday, June 28, 2013

What Katya Found

Today, Katya went wandering around our property, checking on the flowers, as she loves to do. She came back to Charity and showed Charity she should come with her. That's nothing new--Katya does that regularly to show Charity flowers that are blooming. Charity trotted cheerfully along.

In addition to the expected flowers--look what else was in the grass, mere yards from our house!

You don't see anything?! Look very, very closely!

Oh! Now you see something?! And you think you know what it is?!

 You were right! A little fawn! He/She stayed there sooo still and quiet and never once jumped up the whole entire time Charity and Katya were watching it--and even when the rest of us came to observe it first hand some time later, the good little fawn stayed still!

Now, if it weren't for the fact that this adorable little fawn is going to grow up and be a threat to my plants, flowers and garden, I'd be REALLY thrilled! But honestly . . . I wish we could enjoy the cuteness of a fawn like this without feeling just a wee bit hysterical about what damages it will do to our property!

Still, I'm very glad Katya got to experience this close up and personal . . . standing just mere inches from this fawn, she studied it intently. She also liked looking down at it from the safety of her Daddy's shoulders!

Just a FYI

For those who think that they can read a blog and accurately understand a family and their decisions, please be aware that much is not revealed on a blog.

I blog honestly. But I don't "tell all". I blog with the awareness that:

 #1. While many of my dear friends and relatives read my blog, strangers also read my blog.

 #2. Someday Katya may very well read this blog. I don't want to blog anything that she will be upset about having had me share. Yes, I want to be realistic and honest, but neither do I want to post potentially embarrassing stories or photos that could hurt her some day.

#3. Not every thing that goes in our family's life is the whole world's business. There's a reason you put on nice clothes to go to town, even though you may lounge comfortably in the house in a ratty old T and a pair of worn out sweat pants. And just because you put on nicer clothing to appear in public doesn't mean that you are "aren't honest". It just means you respect yourself and others enough that you keep some things at home and personal. I believe it's the same with my blogging. There really is a thing called "Too Much Information", also known as "TMI".

I am aware that some people read adoptive parent's blogs, looking for anything to criticize. And while that might be a fun occupation for them, it doesn't mean that their perceptions of "reality" are accurate. I don't have time to "tell all". And I don't even want to "tell all" even if I had time. Some things are not necessary to blog about. Some things are not wise to blog about.

So when you read Katya's blog, just be aware. there is much you don't know about our family. There is much you don't always  know about the decision making process behind many of our decisions and choices. And that's OK. This is a blog. I blog honestly, but I don't "tell all".  And that's OK.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Never Know . . .

When Katya first came home nearly two years ago, she had no real idea how to play with toys. She would "stim" by juggling small toys or bits of toys, or even pieces of trash--whatever she could get her hands on--between her fingers, rubbing them against her cheeks.

She preferred to have a total of 5 items, fairly consistently, and could entertain herself on and on with those broken bits of toys or trash.

(Note the large piece of cardboard in one hand, the ball we had given to her, in the other.)

When we brought Katya home, she was given a diagnosis of "failure to thrive". Interestingly enough, rubbing objects on the face can be a sign of failure to thrive.

As a family, we set about to try to gently but firmly bring Katya forward in her developmental progress. She did not know how to play typically with toys. So we started a several pronged approach.

First of all, we gave her "stim toys" that were more interesting than what she had before! While that may seem counter-productive since we wanted to reduce, and then drop, the stimming completely, we went with our gut feeling. And our gut feeling was that Katya was stimming from a combined lack of love, attention, and appropriate toys that interested her. So it made sense to give her more interesting stim toys--ones that DID things or let her watch things--like a duck bobbing in a sea of colored water inside a clear cylinder, on a key chain so she could easily hang on to it to swing it, and watch the duck bob.

Next, we started gently but firmly enforcing "Stim Toy Rules". What's that you ask?! Well, we instituted 3 simple rules. A. Stim toys stayed on the table inside the door when going out to play. NO ONE would touch them but Katya when she came back in. But they did not go outside. B. Stim toys sit on the table in front of you while you eat--they are NOT in your hands. Again, no one will touch them until you are done eating and touch them! C. Stim toys stay on the head board at night when it's time to go to sleep. They will be there in the morning--NO ONE will touch them, but they stay there. Here--you can hold this soft stuffed animal while you go to sleep IF you want to. (She usually did not.)

Along with that, we instituted focused play times. We, or a teen-age helper who came into our home once a week specifically to play with Katya, would gently but firmly try to teach her HOW to play. We started with simple developmental things like "Peek A Boo" and stacking the blocks we still owned from when Chad was a baby. (How many, many times had I been tempted to get rid of them, but would always relent and keep them at the last minute! And when Katya came home, I was so glad I had kept them!)

Katya did not much enjoy those times of learning to play. She protested. She tried to get away to be alone to do what she wanted to do--stim with her toys.

But, little by little, the stim toys began to be picked up less and less after she came in from playing or when she got out of bed in the morning. And the block towers were rapidly built and then knocked down quickly so she could go do something else.

Soon, she seemed to be completely done with the blocks and moved on to Duplos, and then to Legos, where Katya seemed to be happiest. So we concluded that our journey of teaching her to play like a child can and should do, was probably at an end. Since she did not seem to show any interest in the blocks once she moved past them, I again thought about selling my blocks. Our storage space for toys is limited, and no one in our family needed them!

Well, you just never know, and evidently, I was wiser than I thought I was when I would choose to keep the blocks time after time.

Because the last week, Katya has begun getting out the blocks. Regularly. Look how much fun she is having with them now!

Taken today as unobtrusively as I could manage, I clicked again and and again as Katya kept playing.

What is interesting to me is that it appears that Katya is finally truly interested in the blocks and is examining carefully what is inside each of the clear blocks, and trying to figure out what each block might possibly do. Previously, she had little to no interest and only participated with the blocks because we were gently encouraging that, and the only thing she cared for was to have us rapidly build a stack for her to knock flying.

I just loved capturing my pretty daughter and her interest in these blocks today!! 

You just never ever know, do you? I think it is such a healthy developmental sign that Katya wants to study the blocks and learn more about each one. Good thing I never sold or gave them away!

Monday, June 24, 2013

And It's Done . . .

And the saga of finding and scheduling good dental care (safe and compassionate dental care!) is done. Katya's mouth is all fixed up, and she has a great mouthful of shiny pearly whites, along with some shiny metal! I will spare you all the boring details--the phone calls, the emails, the unhappy conversations and the happy conversations! I will spare you agonizingly detailed recitals about emails flying back and forth to Johns Hopkins and else where. Because it just might exhaust you and make you want to cry. Just like it did us.

 So . . . happy news . . . the good news is that finally after one misadventure after another with the local dentist and his anesthesiologist which drug out for several months, we were given a tip about a superb dentist and his anesthesiologist another town.

We set up an appointment, met with the office staff, loved how respectful and careful they were with Katya, and decided to go ahead and use them, even though the estimated cost was a good chunk more than our local office was giving as their best guess estimate of costs. Fortunately, the cost factor was totally resolved when we were hooked up with a grant organization, "Building Blocks for Kids". They told us, "This is the kind of case we love to help with!" After we filled out all their paper work, we rapidly were approved for funding above and beyond what we had received in donations and had saved up for this procedure.

So then the great wait began until they had a slot for Katya. Finally today was the day!

Katya was an awesome champ! She was particularly snuggly and cuddly, with great eye contact, while waiting for the procedure to begin. We had explained to her that the dentist would give her some medicine to  make her sleep, and while she was sleeping, they would fix all the owie spots on her teeth. She seemed to get that, and was extremely cooperative.

Dr. V.D. was very patient and understanding, having spent serious time prior talking with me, and also reviewing Katya's medical records, and looking over her blog and watching a video clip of Katya. This was in sharp contrast to the previous gentleman who was supposed to be in charge of putting my daughter to sleep. His strongest area of interest? "Is she potty trained?" (THREE times in one 15 minute conversation) and "Is she retarded?" (Oh yes, oh yes he DID use that word.)

Because Dr. V.D. had a great understanding of Katya's past history, and present challenges, she moved slowly, explaining every thing to Katya, and making sure she did not startle or scare her. Katya took every thing in stride, and only cried just a little bit when they inserted the IV. She did fabulously.

The cutest thing when Katya was barely awake--she wanted the Play Doh that had been given to her before she fell asleep. She also spotted the tooth brush and a stuffed animal that had been laid on the table when she was SOUND ASLEEP  for her to take home. Smart kiddo that she is, she intuitively decided those things must surely be meant for HER--who else would they be for?! She scooped the items all up, and with her arms loaded, pointed most emphatically to the door! We inquired if she needed the bathroom, just in case. She signed, "No!" and again pointed to the door. So her meaning was clear--"Let's get out of here!"

Soon we were able to leave, and Katya carefully carried all those items out with her. You will be even MORE proud of her when I tell you that after we got home, all on her own, she put the stuffed animal in the box where stuffed animal that are "common property" go (she has a few she has chosen to keep on her head board) and then she took her tooth brush out of the bag and went and put it into the cupboard where her tooth brush goes!

Ownership, responsibility, making choices . . .  wow! So many, many positive things are blooming inside our little gal! I love seeing how Katya is able to observe life and make positive choices for herself as she is treated with love and respect.

I'm glad that even though we have sometimes had to spin around for awhile so to speak in the mud, that we keep finding great providers for Katya. I'm thankful for God-given Mommy intuition that led us away from the other Dr. who was not a great fit for Katya. After all she has already endured in her little life, I am uber-passionate about only allowing people who really care about her as an individual to care for her. How else can she be expected to learn what a precious and wonderful little girl she is?!

Special thanks to Dr. C and his office and Dr. V.D. and her staff for their excellent, gentle care for Miss Katya today! You guys rocked. ;-)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

When Daddy BabySits

Watch closely, and you will see a smile on Katya's face at around the 53 second mark after Kristina calls to her.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


On July 5, 2011, Katya's first visit to a Doctor in the USA, her vital statistics were as follows: Height--46 inches Weight--34.4 lbs. BMI--12.76 For her height, she was at 40% on the growth chart, but LESS than 5% on her weight. On June 19, nearly two years later, Katya had a physical today, in preparation for a dental procedure next week on Monday, God willing. Height--50 inches Weight--46.8 lbs BMI--13.2 I was not given info on the growth and weight chart today, so I don't know exactly where she falls on all that. Would be interesting to find out. As the Dr. said today, "She's getting nice weight--for HER." In other words, she needs to put on more, but given where she was at versus where she is now, we have come a long, long way. Katya is thoroughly enjoying her summer vacation! Respite is going well--she is eager to go every week and jumps out of the van eager to go play. The regular respite is helping our family function much better than last summer when we only had respite 3 times the whole summer for brief periods of time. Katya is getting nicely tanned (as "brown as a berry") and her hair is loaded with beautiful blond summer-sun highlights. ;-) She's growing, learning, loving. Our Sweet Katya.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barbie Doll, or GI Joe?

Inquiring today about how much something was going to cost our family, Charity said to her Dad, "How much are we paying them?"

Paul jovially said, "An arm and a leg! An arm and a leg!"

Charity's fast response--"Barbie Doll, or GI Joe?"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Daddy Love . . . .

When I think of Daddy Love, I keep mentally thinking of these two pictures:

Taken just a little over two years ago, the first is very poignant. When we first arrived in Ukraine, Katya was extremely wary of Paul and desired to have very little to nothing to do with him. On our second or third visit to Katya at the orphanage, we arrived to find her check was swollen and seemed painful to her. Paul finally took his warm hands and just gently cradled her face. Katya responded to that, relaxing into his touch. From that point on, the tide turned. She began to accept this new person called "Papa" into her heart. She began to make brief and limited eye contact with him, checking his face out carefully.

My husband sacrificed things that most people would say lands him officially on the "some kind of crazy" list in order to bring home first Kristina, and then he sacrificed even more in order to bring home Katya. I'm very proud of Paul that he listened to the voice of God--that he chose to say "YES" to God's call to save Katya's life. I'm even more proud of him that when he arrived in Ukraine and saw how absolutely developmentally and emotionally behind Katya was, and the huge extent of her needs, that he did not turn tail and run, screaming, "Noooooo". He could have. He truly could have. But in spite of his concern  apprehensions pit of the stomach fears, Paul kept saying, "Yes, Lord!" all the way.

And to this day, Paul sacrifices himself for all of his kiddos, but especially for Katya. He has lost sleep, survived on only an hour or so of sleep caught on a bench while spending the rest of the night keeping vigil over her bed at the PICU, given up his own pleasures and even his NEEDS regularly in order to make sure that Katya's needs were met. I can't even begin to sanely blog about all the many ways Paul is a hero due to his passionate care for not only his bio children, but also the ones God has placed into our lives through adoption. I'm blessed to be married to a man who knows that it's entirely possible to love another man's child as deeply and passionately as if they came from his own DNA.

Our children are blessed because they have a Daddy who is proud of them--and they know it. They have a Dad who loves them deeply and sacrifices every single day to make things better and happier for them. They have a Dad who prays for them, and is willing to cross the ocean at whatever cost to bring them home so he can care for them. Paul has been willing to stand as an "odd-ball" to do whatever it takes to help our kiddos.

I'm very thankful and proud to have him as my husband, and the father of our 5 precious children.

Happy, Happy Father's Day, Honey!

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Amazing Birthday Gift

Tonight, Katya came up and said something quietly in my ear!!! And then she repeated it louder . . . and when rushed off to her Dad, she repeated it for him. And then she became absolutely GIDDY with joy at what she could do! This is the point that Charity grabbed the camera and filmed Katya. Just listen and watch.
I'm thinking that was a VERY impressive present for her Daddy today on his birthday! What do you think?!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ugh. Double Ugh.

Yesterday, we got a letter that the NueroPysch Dr. that had evaluated Katya for us back in the fall is leaving and going to the University of Michigan Health System.

Smack. What a blow. She was the one medical professional who seemed to be able to really GET Katya, and actually had suggestions for us beyond the usual "you are doing all the right things. Keep up the good work!" It's very nice to be told that, but it's sure not very HELPFUL for making progress with Katya.

Today, as if we needed more "Debbie Downer" news, we got the official notice from Dr. Carson that he is retiring and that we need to find a new Doctor for Katya. Ugh. We knew this was coming, but man, it stinks to get that letter on the heels of the one yesterday!!

Lego Clip Art

On top of all that, we have some crazy other stuff going on . . . So I'm hoping for an early bedtime for everyone--Mom included. It has been very hard to get enough sleep for various reasons since school got out and it's taking it's toll on this Mommy. Let's hope that the tornado watch our whole entire area is under tonight till midnight does not mess up my best laid plans.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Full Day

Katya had respite again today, so after dropping her off, Charity, Kristina, Chad and I set out with a long list of stops to make.

Post Office, Bank, Health Food Store, Jo-Ann's Fabrics, JCPenny, Krogers, and the the library. We couldn't stay very long at anyone place! And even with the hurrying we did, we ended up picking up Katya about 15 minutes late.

Thankfully, E. had a forgiving spirit and and Katya, while ready to come home, had clearly had fun! Going to E's for respite is good for her. She usually comes home pretty happy and ready to bathe and soon go to bed. She's getting more self-confident, and doesn't even want Kristina to come along with her any more!

Tonight, Charity is cutting out burp clothes to make and sell.

Our family has not been able to take a family vacation since committing to adopting Katya. Katya has never gotten to go on a family vacation with us.

So, we are working hard to try to earn the money we will need to be able to vacation next year, Lord willing. We want Katya to get to see what a week of fun with her family is like. ;-) The kids are looking for any way to earn money to help. Charity is doing sewing to help towards the goal--a percentage of the proceeds from what she is selling goes into the vacation fund. Hopefully, we will come up with our projected goal, and then find ourselves enjoying a week of sand, water and sun next year!
Our green beans have come up very nicely and it seems that the increased deer blocks Paul has put into effect are working. No deer tracks in the garden. We are hopeful that it is now safe to plant more things! My goal for the beans is to can a minimum of 100 qts of green beans this year. I hope I meet or exceed the goal.

What projects are keeping you busy these days?!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sewing Again

Charity has been sewing again.

Here's the result. Isn't that fun?!

Charity is very particular about her sewing, as you can see.

Asking $16.00 and that includes postage to the lower 48 states. Email me: phdfam@gmail.com if you wish to purchase.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thank you, Friend Leah!

A package came from a blog reader on Saturday evening. We gave it to Katya after church on Sunday.

 Katya recognized what fun is in store for her!!

She loves learning more signs, and she knows these DVD's will help her! Quick--rip them open, and then watch!

Thank you, friend Leah!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Katya's First Wedding

Katya attended her first wedding today.

We tried to explain it to her before hand as well as we could. I don't think she understood much. When we got to the camp where the wedding was held, she clearly was anxious. But as we walked along the little lake and into the woods, she began to relax.

 By the time we crossed the bridge, she was starting to cheer up a trifle.

And before we got to the place the wedding service was going to be held, she was actually quite cheered up.

She was curious and interested in looking around once we were seated in the amazing spot that this young couple found for their wedding! The waterfall interested her. And the music playing soothed her.

When Katya got bored waiting, we whispered for her to watch--that pretty soon a pretty girl in a white dress would come walking past our wooden bench. Sure enough, after a little bit, the pretty girl came! Katya approved.

Intently, she studied the program for awhile.

Soon enough, the wedding service was done.

And then we walked all the way back, and stood in line to get to shake hands with the bride and groom and then eat. Katya found it a bit hard to be patient for so very long.


Getting held by Daddy helped a lot.
And hugs from Mama.

Finally we got up to the bride and groom!

To our surprise, Katya hugged the bride! Not once, but twice--and took a good feel of her dress too!

And then, oh my! When she showed interest in the father of the bridge's boutonniere, he asked if Katya would be allowed to have, and took it off and gave it to her!

And in seconds, we were able to sit down and Katya could dive into the cold drink and the chips and salsa, while examining her flower.

Katya was so happy when Charity brought her a generous plate of fruit form the chocolate fountain.

By the time the main course (a yummy, yummy taco salad) was served, Katya had eaten herself  98% full of chips, salsa and fruit, and only picked at her taco salad half-heartedly. The fact that she had seen the cake just MAY have had a little lot to do with her reluctance to eat any more food!

The cake slid down nicely when it showed up, just as I had suspected.

Overall, Katya did really, really well, clear up until close to the end of the reception. Then she had finally had all she could take and was finished and ready to get out.

Still, not bad at all for her first wedding!

Congratulations to Ricky and Sara--may your life together be blessed by God!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Snow Treasure

I grew up listening to Snow Treasure, and then read it to Todd and Charity when they were young. Now, Charity delights in reading it to each  younger sibling that comes along.

For more information on the possible background of this story, you can read this article.

(Please note this page includes an Amazon Affiliate link, from which our family will benefit by a small percentage should you chose to do your shopping through his link.)

The Huntress

We have a huntress in our house. With keen eyes, she cocks her head and prowls, looking for the tiniest prey. From room to room she goes, searching intently.

She clutches her weapon boldly, and spares no victim.

This mighty huntress delights in hunting and killing.

For years, she cowered in fear that SHE would be the victim. She ran, screaming in heart-pounding terror from the smallest gnat to the biggest spider.

When introduced to the fly swatter, and taught  that SHE could use it, her whole perspective on life began to change.

No longer the victim, but instead, The Victor.

No gnat, spider, moth, or cricket escape her vigilant eyes. She patrols daily, repeatedly, ready to defend her home from invaders.

And should this huntress decide to go on break, and hang her weapon of choice up, she knows right where to find it should she unexpectedly encounter the enemy! She races, fleet-footed, snatches the weapon and returns to do battle.

If her enemy is too high for her to reach, this mighty huntress drags over a chair and climbs rapidly, propelling herself upward to higher heights. Failing that, she calls in reinforcements with an urgent clarion call that brings us running to hold her up in our arms!

Yes, Katya is a mighty huntress.

We joke that she would make a good wife someday for an exterminator. She would certainly understand her husband's passion for his line of work!

I love watching this change in my daughter.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

99 cent Summer Fun

I found a new bucket of sidewalk chalk at the thrift store last year. It got saved till the weather was warm. We don't have any concrete on our property that the kids can write on, so we have done the porch, but that has narrow boards, making it not that much fun for them.

Big Sister, Charity, to the rescue! Some leftover plywood from other projects.

It kept Katya happy for a good long while one day!

What a lot of fun for a mere 99 cents!

It's so good to see her enjoying normal kid activities this summer!

What are some of your children's favorite summer activities?!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Year of Gardens

Katya so much enjoyed a walk around a garden yesterday evening.

I'm glad we have discovered that gardens are one place she generally feels comfortable (as long as there are NO dogs, and not too many people) because it makes a free or inexpensive thing to be able to do with her.

As you can see, the other children enjoy going too!

And they get to see and experience cool things out in nature.

It was enough to put a smile on even the most uncertain child's face!

We are embracing this year as the "Year of Gardens". We'll see how many we get to by the end of the summer! Katya won't mind!

For more photos and commentary, please see "Flowers And Frogs".

All photos used by permission of Wares By Cherry.