"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, July 28, 2013

A New Development

Recently, Katya has begun whispering "ttt" and then increasingly louder, "TTT" when she wakes up and wants to go to the toilet. She will not get out of bed to go without "permission", no matter how many times we have assured her that she certainly can and may get up and just go whenever she needs to. However, evidently orphanage training must die hard--Katya even after over two years home needs must have permission to exit her bed to toilet each and every time.

So, for Charity, being awoken with a soft "TTTT" is certainly far preferable to being woken with whimpers! She sleepily says, "Yes, of course, Katya! Get up and go to the toilet" and then can roll over and keep on sleeping, rather than having to ask questions to try to discern WHY Katya is whimpering--does she need a drink, is she cold, has she just had a bad dream? Or does she need the toilet?!

So we are all happy about this, and then tonight while Paul and I were out walking, Katya came up to Charity and said, "Bbbbb".  When Charity wondered what she wanted, because "bbbbb" isn't that enlightening, coming out of the blue, Katya took Charity and walked over to the bag of bread and pointed at it! Needless to say, Katya got some bread!!!

I think these are encouraging signs. I love that she is trying harder to communicate in any way possible with us! ;-) We were warned that because she had not communicated for the first 6.5 years of her life, she might never really be able to do well with communication. I think she has surprised pretty much all the "experts" with her determination and drive to communicate now that she knows we listen to her. What a brave and determined little gal she is!

Today we went to our church denomination's convention. This was a first for us, and we did enjoy it a lot. Katya stayed home with a baby sitter, as we knew that walking into a large, institutional type building with 100's and 100's of strange people would be terrifying to her. She pushed herself hard to go through VBS, last week. That was scary enough for her. This would have been even worse. So thankfully we were able to get the very first volunteer we ever had with Katya when we first came home, A, to come and baby sit. Katya is happy and comfortable with her, and did much better being at home with A. than she would have been with us in such a strange environment. We were really glad we made the effort to go. A nice change of scenery, some messages I needed to hear, the singing was great, and we saw faces of people we hadn't seen for a long while in some cases! Really glad it worked out--grateful again for A. and her care for Katya!

Friday, July 26, 2013

This and That

* We now have 40 qts of beans sitting on our shelves, waiting for winter! Plus we are having lots of yummy beans straight from the garden to the house to be prepped to eat as fast as they are cooked and ready! Mmmm!

* Katya had her last day of respite with our summer respite care provider today. I felt sad and like crying when I drove away. We still have a few more weeks to get through till school starts, so hopefully we can get through without respite--actually--not just looking to just "get through" but to emerge from summer and go into the school year with joy and energy, instead of being at the complete end of our strings like we were last year. That.was.NOT.fun.

* We completed the last night of our church's VBS last night. Katya bravely pushed through with VBS in spite of it being held in a building that triggers her orphanage memories. (Old, institutional and brick/tiles reminiscent of her orphanage.) She actually tried hard to participate in the crafts and games this year! ;-)

* An amazing and wonderful gift was given to our family this week. I can't blog about it yet, but I know you will all enjoy reading about it when I can blog about it! Stay tuned over the next few weeks for further info! We are thanking God for it! (No, it's not so exciting as Katya being able to speak . . . that would be way better than this--but this is good too!)

* We received a date today for Katya's next appointment at Johns Hopkins. This will be at the Cranial-Facial clinic with both Dr. Dorafshar and her new Doctor, Dr. Ahn. This meeting stands to likely be an intense meeting, requiring God's wisdom for all of us as we discuss what the Drs would like to do during Katya's surgery (tentatively in November sometime) and try to come to a decision that we all feel comfortable with. Even though the appointment isn't until October, I know that the time will arrive faster than I am ready for emotionally. This is hard. (No, I'm not whining. Just stating facts.)

* Katya's sweet "Daddy's" seem to have "glitched away" after she had been using them for nearly a month. We are needless to say, sad about that. However, we will keep working with hre and encouraging her to keep making sounds and try to coax it forth again, even though it's been several weeks since she was able to say anything more than a faint "Ddd" sound when we coax her to try. She still POINTS at him though so she clearly knows who her Daddy is, and that is what is most important.

What's been going on in your lives?!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bean TIme

We are being blessed with an answer to many prayers this year--beans!!

Wonderful, yummy, green beans in abundance from our garden!

It takes every one's hands to get them done.

Todd cuts with the precision of a long-time chef, using a knife.

Katya cuts with kitchen shears.

Katya is very capable of taking off the stems and tails. She works hard.

Such intense concentration as she strives to do it exactly like we showed her!

Life skills, people! Taught at home, during day to day living!

Katya wants to learn. I'm so glad we can teach her!

I'm guessing right now, but I think we are going to have around 21 or more quarts of beans by the time we are done with this picking. Really glad for all FIVE of my good helpers! And since they all enjoy green beans, they are pretty happy to help prepare food for winter!

Now, I need to get back to working too! Time to get beans into the canner.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Touching Lives

Ever since we brought Katya home, we have noticed an interesting phenomena. Where ever Katya goes, she touches people's hearts.

Even though she is non-verbal, she seems to speak deeply into their lives.

Again and again, I have seen even famous Drs. face's become tender and their eyes shiny as they care for Katya. People all over love Katya and pray for her.

Every where Katya goes, she seems to have an important impact on people.

We joke that God has blessed Katya with a spiritual gift not named in the Bible--the gift of being able to wrap people around her little finger effortlessly.
Even though I know she has impacted me deeply and personally, it still always surprises me just a little bit when I see her do the same thing to others. They are, after all, not her Mommy!
Or her Daddy.
No matter how many times I have seen Katya and her story impact people, it still blesses me again every time it happens.
Yesterday, I was in the thrift store shopping when I ran into someone I had not seen for a few years. They did not know we had adopted Katya, and were pleasant and interested as I shared her story briefly.
As I turned to leave, I handed her one of the business cards for this blog that Amy makes for us to share with people. The lady's eyes suddenly became bright and shiny as she looked at the photo of Katya. "Oh how precious she is!" she exclaimed. She exclaimed several times over Katya as bright tears filled her eyes.
I don't fully understand what happens to create this reaction again and again as Katya's life intersects with others, but I believe it is important.

Because, Jesus said, ""And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me." Matthew 18:5  (New Living Translation)

We are grateful for those who have embraced our daughter in their hearts, and their lives.

Find yourself a needy child and let their story move you. Embrace them with all your heart. You won't regret it.
Their life will be changed for the better. And, so will yours.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Russian Chocolate and The Harbor

Russian Chocolate . . . MMmmmmmmm. So tasty any time. Extra tasty when gifted to you by a friend  . . .

Thanks, Alex!

(PS. We were excited to find out today that tentative plans for The Harbor include starting a program in Khabarovsk, Russia for orphans! YES! How exciting that is for us, since a chunk of our hearts stayed there after spending time there during Kristina's adoption! Our family will be following this prayerfully and with great anticipation!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


This week, all three of our youngest kiddos have been going to VBS. This particular VBS is sponsored by the church that also does the special needs support group that our family is a part of.

That means, they have the market CORNERED on how to take care of our special needs kiddos during VBS. It's WONDERFUL. Katya is paired with a one-on-one friend that she is already used to from support groups. The kitchen staff understands food allergies and makes sure her snacks each day are dairy free. The staff is inventive and creative in including EVERY child--and that includes Miss Katya!

She LOVES VBS, and has in fact calmed down and perked up considerably since it started Monday night! (YAY!!!) We think she was missing seeing her support group friends perhaps since she got so very excited when she realized they were there at VBS (along with many, many 'typical' kids).

Charity also has been helping as a one-on-one friend with one of the girls she helps with at the Friendship Parties sometimes.

Kristina writing a poem about the things in nature she is thankful for. She said it was read later to her group, which pleased her.

Not such a very good photo of Katya but she really is enjoying VBS, in spite of appearances to the contrary in this photo!

Charity with M, the girl she is helping. Charity said she was surprised and pleased how much more she could sign with M. than she could even a few months ago.  M. is working on teaching Charity additional signs too. ;-)

And even though I don't have a photo of Chad here, he is having a great time as well.

So thankful for a church that has the vision and determination to meet the needs of special needs children and their families and DO IT WELL.

It makes my Mommy heart so glad to be able to drop off **ALL** my children and know that they are ALL having a great time at the same event! It's such a NORMAL thing.

YAY for VBS geared for kids of all abilities!