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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck

Saturday, December 28, 2013

FREE 30 Day Trial of Amazon Prime!

I will unashamedly tell you that we love our Amazon Prime! With so often needing to order supplements or other things for Katya and our family, we long ago made a decision that it was worth it for us. Having our items arrive promptly in 2 days, and not needing to pay shipping most of the time for anything we purchase has been a huge help. Also, many times the price of an item is a little lower for Prime Members, and then for those of you with a Kindle, there are many books that are loaned out for "free" with Amazon Prime.

I can't tell you whether or not it's worth it for you, but here is the perfect chance to give it a whirl and see what you think! A 30 day FREE trial offer which is good through January 10th. You can cancel at the end of the 30 days if it's not for you, and nothing is lost. In the meantime, you will have had access to the unlimited streaming of movies, and lots of opportunities to purchase items!

UPDATED to try to provide a Text Link for those having issues with the PopUp Ad on the right hand side of the blog--hopefully one or the other will work for you!
  Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies Please note that the link to the left, AND to the right ARE affiliate links for us, and that we will receive a one-time $10.00 credit if you sign up for the trial period, even if you later cancel it. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Turkey Noodle Soup

After enjoying a yummy turkey on Christmas Day, Paul and I picked the meat from the bones, and then threw the bones and the broth that was left after making gravy into the crockpot. It simmered till Charity was ready to make soup for supper last night.

And what a yummy soup it was!

Charity did not use a recipe.  But to the broth from the bones, she added plenty of diced carrots, celery, onions, dried dill (from our garden) and fresh parsley (from the pot on the window ledge) along with left-over diced turkey and then of course, the spelt noodles. Mmmmmm!!! We all enjoyed it last night, and look forward to a re-run of it today.

What are you making with your Christmas left-overs?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And It Came to Pass

 . . . that after a long, long wait, Miss Katya was finally able to wear the cute snowman outfit that we blogged about so long ago in this post. What a long wait! But yes, she looked adorable in it even though I did not manage to get any photos! Due to the starvation and neglect, Katya was much smaller when she came home than she should have been, so it took a long time before she grew to the point that wearing it was feasible!

A very big, big thank you to all of you who have been shopping through our Amazon affiliate link on the right hand side of the blog! Thanks to you, the percentage for this month has gone higher than it ever has before. We will gratefully use the funds to make a donation ("tithe") to an ethical organization that helps children, and then with thanksgiving, purchase supplements and other things for Katya.

May you have a very blessed and happy Christmas, and a Merry New Year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Therapy, Therapy, and Lots More Therapy

Katya has had speech and OT/PT therapy at school, starting within weeks of arriving home several years ago. But with Katya's increasing interest lately in trying to say words, we felt it would be good to get her private Speech too, and when I talked to the amazing Nurse Practitioner who is working with Katya a lot at our Dr's office, she agreed most firmly, and said she would put in a request for an OT eval as well.

The speech eval was able to be done several weeks before the OT eval, and of course that yielded private speech therapy sessions. We really like the SLP that Katya is going to. A. is patient, but persistent, and full of encouragement and praise for Katya. She said that this is a very unusual situation (of course) for her and so it's anyone's best guess how things will go. BUT A.  keeps pointing out that Katya IS making progress from one therapy to the next, that Katya is putting great effort into trying, and that she sees other "hopeful signs" so she thinks we should give it all we have and try to see where Katya can go. A. says the things she is seeing leads her to continue to feel that Apraxia is a large portion of Katya's issue currently.

We feel pretty confident that the diagnosis of Apraxia is correct, coming on the heels of probably some mutism the first 6.5 years of her life,  due to abuse and trauma. Possibly this was made "easier" due to the fact that Katya had Apraxia already working against her.

Clearly, something changed, because Katya did NOT vocalize or try to talk in the orphanage. And when she first came home, if we would try to coax her to say a word, she often could mimic the shape of your mouth, tongue etc. but not a single sound would come out. If you would ask her if she wanted to learn to talk like us, her eyes would get wide and horrified, her body would stiffen, and she would indicate "NO! NO!" with all she had!

In fact, we first realized she COULD make verbal sounds when she started whispering letter sounds in her sleep! Gradually, over time, she kept making more and more whispered sounds, and then one week, we started noticing Katya was making odd, gurgling, gagging noises again and again that seemed like she was trying to activate her voice box. Eventually, after about 2 weeks or so of her regularly doing it, she began to be able to use her voice box to make her sounds! ;-) OH HAPPY DAY! Now she still tries to talk in very quiet tones, but the SLP is working with Katya to "use a big loud voice". Katya is still pretty quiet, but can occasionally raise her volume a bit if she tries really hard.

Speech Therapy is hard work, but Katya is working hard! And we will take all on-going prayers and best wishes for Katya to be able to learn to talk. She wants to SOOO badly it breaks my heart to the point I just have to sit and cry for her sometimes.

Photo: Therapy is hard work!

This week Katya had her OT eval with K. Paul was able to go with me for that eval, and we both liked her a lot. Katya cooperated really well for her in all the things she was asked to do and K. said that while she agrees Katya is lagging behind her peers in many areas, she thinks that given how deprived and neglected Katya was, she has come an amazing way in just 2 years! She feels quite sure that more therapy will be to Katya's advantage. So we are adding that in as well. It will make my life even crazier than it already is, because the therapists can't make their schedules mesh at this point to consistently have Katya's therapies back to back, but we will just lump it to get Katya what she needs.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Singing for the Babushkas and Dedushkas

Katya has taken music lessons for almost the entire time she has been our daughter. She very quickly demonstrated a strong interest in the piano, and we were able to find a teacher who was willing to give Katya lessons. Katya IS learning, and in addition to the piano, she also is learning to play the lap harp, the ukelele and also she helps her teacher play the guitar.

So tonight, Katya's music teacher wanted to take all her students to play and sing carols at a local nursing home. We were not at all sure how it would go for Katya with going to a new place, with lots of other people she did not know well, and trying to play! But after school, we tried to explain to her that she would go to sing for "Babushkas and Dedushkas" (Grandmas and Grandpas) at a big house where they live, and then we took her to her respite provider's place (her daughters were in the program also) and then arrived a while later at the nursing home to pick her up.

Even before Katya came out the door, we could see through the glass that she seemed to be cheerful and was buzzing happily around. Sure enough! She had been very shy at first but as the walking the halls and signing and playing went on, Katya grew in confidence, and began to play a tambourine in time to the music, and then at one point also helped play the teacher's guitar. She definitely enjoyed herself, everyone told me, and clearly, she was happy when we picked her up! She was obviously shyly pleased when we talked to her about it.

So the new experience was a great success for Katya, and I feel very grateful that she had another positive new experience! These things are so important for he. They help to broaden her world, build her self-confidence, and show her that she has a niche in the world that is important.

I wish I had a photo of her, for she was so beautiful and happy, but sadly, I do not. But picture sweet Katya in your mind, and enjoy thinking of the joy she helped bring to the Grandmas and Grandpas tonight!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fun With Daddy

Last Saturday Paul gave me a much needed break-- a day of peace and quiet to do some organizing, catching up, and cleaning. We packed a lunch and snacks, and off he went with the younger kiddos to an indoor garden, a bookstore, and to do a little shopping at the health food store. Charity decided to just enjoy the experience, and did not take her camera along, but Paul thankfully snapped a few photos for me.



Miss Katya enjoyed all the beauty.

There was plenty to see!

Katya did really well at the bookstore, relaxing and enjoying stacks of books, just like any other eight year old might! She has come such a long, long, LONG way in two years! We are very thankful! While she continues to have major challenges, we are grateful for all the progress!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This Made Me Smile

This scene made me smile today . . .  Katya tucks down a good breakfast pretty well every morning now without any problem! Protein (eggs, coconut yogurt or meat), cereal or toast and fruit!

Hope Anne Dueck's photo.

And this back view made me smile all over again . . .

Hope Anne Dueck's photo.

So grateful that good nutrition, love, and care has helped Katya's body to become stronger and healthier!

And again, grateful, ever so grateful, that Katya's plastic surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr Dorafshar, was willing to go out of his comfort zone and not shave her entire head when she had her surgery in March 2012! Had he done so, we would not have those lovely cascades of (entirely natural!) curls falling over hear shoulders . . .  And aside from all that, it would have been traumatic to Katy as her hair is very important to her and she did NOT want anyone cutting it, and made that clear pre-surgery.

What's making you smile today?!