"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, October 11, 2017

A Wonderful Answer to Prayers!

It is with great joy that we inform you that we received wonderful news when we went to Katya's medical appointments at Johns Hopkins!

First of all, her eye specialist felt her eyes are stable and doing well. He also saw how much she has grown with having a break from surgery and decided that he was taking his recommendation from 6 months ago to have surgery on her eye "soon" off the table for now and allow her to continue to grow.

He also gave us the astonishing news that her optic nerves--which had shown visible damage from the combination of increased inter-cranial pressures prior to her skull reconstruction and starvation prior to her placement in our home in June 2011--HAVE HEALED and now look normal! This is NOT something they normally see or expect but as he put it, "we'll just go with it!" What exciting and happy news!

Then we ate lunch and went for the plastic surgery appointment. There, the hole in Katya's skull was measured and was **measurably smaller** than six months ago! Her surgeon was QUITE surprised as he had not ever expected that either! So he feels the risk of surgery try to patch the hole, to her is currently greater than the risk of leaving the now smaller hole alone. So he took his previous recommendation for surgery from the table currently now too!

Needless to say, we were about weak and giddy with relief and joy! What a beautiful answer to our prayers for wisdom and clarity! It couldn't get much plainer than that! Praise God!

Friday, October 6, 2017

More Decisions

We have more decisions to need to make about Katya's medical care in the next few weeks. We'll be soon seeing her specialists at Johns Hopkins and discussing things with them. These are very difficult decisions to make, so we will gratefully take all prayers and thoughts!

There is a great sense of responsibility that always goes along with making any major decisions for any of our kids, but I have noticed that the feeling is always a little bigger, a little harder with my adopted kiddos, because I feel a sense of responsibility to their birth family too. Right or wrong, it is what it is.

Katya likes to coordinate or match clothing with Kristina!

And she is doing wonderfully this year in school! Here is a small sample of some home work she flew through just in the last few weeks!

She also recently got brave enough finally to do a little free climbing recently! This was huge as up to this point, she wouldn't even try to climb! So we were pretty excited about that.

Our year is just flying by in so many ways . . .  since I lost so much time (and still don't have all my energy back) since having that mutated virus back in the summer, I still feel very behind in my life. I am thankful for every thing I manage to accomplish.

The new school year has me trying very hard to keep up with reading to Chad and Kristina since all the coughing over the summer prevented oral reading. We started off with "Rabbit Hill" (primarily for Chad's benefit) and then switched to "Freckles" for Kristina's enjoyment--only it turns out that Chad is loving it just as much as Kristina is, so that has been fun! Even though I'm getting to the point that I'm more than ready in a lot of ways to wind up my years as a homeschool Mom, (after all, I've been doing this since about 1998!) I'm also enjoying aspects of it very much like this daily time of reading books I love with my kids!

Thanks again for praying for Miss Katya and us as we try to navigate these medical decisions.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Back to School 2017-2018 Year

As you may or may not have noticed, I took a hiatus from blogging. I had a lot going on this summer in several key areas of my life, so blogging took a backseat.

We had a suspected mutation of whooping cough sweep through our family which meant we haven't had one single day since MAY when everyone has been completely well! I think it's almost through all of us--Paul is the single hold-out and we are praying it never knocks him down. Our family Doctor says they have seen a lot of it in their office and they don't have an exact diagnosis, but the best guess is a mutation of whooping cough. It lasts around 2 to 2.5 months and antibiotics don't seem to touch it. So needless to say, someone has been sick non-stop this entire time since it lasts so long. I have certainly been sicker in my life, but it zaps your energy and just leaves you feeling crummy. Katya was the first to come down with it and it really did a number on her. And then about the time she was ALMOST better, it jumped to Charity and me, then to Chad, then Todd and then Kristina.

Katya started back to school this week. She was excited!

 She picked out her T. It says, "Limited Edition" which we thought was soo perfect and appropriate, because that is what our girlie is!

Charity was off to Japan again with her Chamber Orchestra for 13 days, and with all the sickness we had, I didn't get a new skirt sewn for her, but she had a lovely denim one Charity had made that was still fairly new so we paired the T with that and then her new socks and shoes.

The first day was rather rough, but after that, she has had "perfect score" days! She really is enjoying school and I expect this year to be a year of great progress for her in many domains.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Some Really Wonderful News

I don't think I posted much--if anything--on here about the kerfluffle we had with Katya's school back at the start of the 2016/2017 school year. It wasn't pretty, and no matter how well meaning their intentions may have been, the end results stunk, and badly.

I fought and partially won after some time, but I assumed we were going to have a lovely little smash-up this spring to make sure Katya's best interests were met for the fallowing school year.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from the school wanting to discuss Katya's summer services. And in this call they informed me that they were going to completely pull her from the "Life Skills and Job Skills" track they had placed her on at the start of the school year and transition her full-time to the more rigorous academic classroom that she has been attending part-time (that was my partial win), "if you are OK with that". Am I OK with that?? You had better believe I am!! I'm MORE than OK with that!!

Score 1!

And Score 2?? "Well, we just thought if you were OK with that for the summer, we'd just keep her there this fall too! How would you feel about that?" "Oh I think that sounds like a very workable idea! Katya really LOVES the time she spends in the academic class room and I think she has made a lot of progress there."

YES! Thank you, thank you, Jesus!!! God took on the fight for me!

In other news, our lovely Miss Katya is learning to like her hair in a bun!

AND she is learning her multiplication facts!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Life Keeps Marching On

So it's March now and Paul finally has a replacement truck and is working hard to get it ready to haul cars again. We are thankful for everyone who has prayed and is still praying about the situation! He was able to take Chad with him to Pigeon Forge area to pick up the truck, which Chad enjoyed very much! After getting the paper work done, they spent a few hours enjoying the Great Smoky National Park. Chad thought that was amazing--it was his first time there.

I just asked him what his favorite memory of being there was: "Rock hopping--jumping from one big rock to the next! There were so many different shapes!" He said he also really enjoyed looking in the Welcome Center for the Great Smoky Mountains. I'm really glad it worked out for him to get to go with Paul and have a bit of a fun field trip!

Back in the fall, when the fires were roaring in the area, Chad had seen a news report about Ripley's Aquarium being safe. He got so excited and told us that he wanted to go there someday! Well, wasn't it so nice that it worked out for Paul to be able to take Chad due to needing to go to the area to get the work truck?! We thought so. I hunted online to find the cheapest ticket prices, and Chad was delighted to have his dream come true! Chad has sacrificed much over the last number of years, and done without many things that should rightfully be his and so I'm always thrilled when something good can happen for him.

Katya has been discovering the joy of making things with paper. We were tickled to observe she had clearly cut out a rabbit this past week after observing and petting (!) some at Rural King.

Speaking of Katya, she has some Doctor's appointments coming up next month again at Johns Hopkins. We would appreciate prayers for wisdom for the Doctor's and us as we discuss another surgery and try to determine if doing it this year is wise. While there are many reasons that it seems like it would be wise to do it in May 2017, we just are not 100% sure and we need clarity and wisdom. These surgeries are so risky, so stressful that we need to know for sure that it's what we are supposed to do now before we proceed. We know God is the one who knows all and knows if it's wise for Katya to have the surgery now or if we should continue to wait. So thankful He knows and can open and close the doors for us to help us arrive at the right decision.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Feb Goings On

We are still waiting word from the insurance company about the payout for the truck. Yes, Paul calls every day. Yes, we are being persistent. Yes, we are doing all we know to do. It is hard being patient, especially as no truck means no income for us.

Even though Paul had full coverage on the truck, we are finding that what they *do* cover is really limited since the truck caught on fire, instead of oh, say being stolen. The insurance company, among other things, isn't covering the tools or his personal belongings that went up in smoke. He lost some where in the neighborhood of $1,000 worth of tools and hundreds of dollars of personal items that he needed for work such as insulated coveralls etc.

A friend started an auction fundraiser for us and are working on doing all they can to raise funds to help off-set some of those expenses. We are deeply grateful for everyone kindly pitching in and doing what they can to help!

Katya continues to work on her communication here at home and else where. We finally figured out that evidently all these years she had thought her Ipad ("talker") was only to be used officially at school. That would explain her secretive usage of it here at home for several years! I stumbled on to this purely by accident when one day when I was trying yet again to get her to use her device and she was unhappily screeching at me.  I finally exclaimed, "Katya, Miss Lindsey [her SLP] WANTS you to use her talker here at home too!" From that day on, things have improved so we have occasionally repeated that piece of information, just to keep it fresh in her mind.

It's paying off!

Katya came the other day, caught my eye, picked up her device while periodically checking on me to make sure I was still watching her, and then told me the above all 100% on her own! For whatever reasons, tearing paper is something she does when she is stressed and to date she has been perfectly content to grab any paper--preferably something she suspects might be important to us--and trash it. For her to communicate that she needed paper to tear was HUGE. Now, granted, she'd already trashed one of Todd's college papers before she came and showed me this, but she evidently was feeling bad about it and wanting more paper to tear that was appropriate for her. Needless to say, we praised her for communicating and got her all the paper she wanted!

Kristina turned 17 and we had a low key family birthday party for her.

When I went to get groceries and flowers for Kristina's birthday meal, I prayed for cheap flowers. I had to search a good while but I finally found two clearance packages of flowers that were SO pretty. . . . and only $2.99 each! So I got the flowers for about $6.00. Charity sorted out the ones that were not fit to display and arranged the rest so beautifully. Kristina was thrilled.

Kristina wanted a gluten/dairy free coconut cake. She helped Charity make it. It was really tasty I thought.

And now she is 17 and we can't sing, "You are 16, going on 17!" any more to her, but we told her we can sing, "You are 17, going on 18!" now! ;-)

One of Paul's relatives was en-route to visit relatives in Canada and met up with Paul and the kids for awhile the other day for a little. Chad and Kristina were happy to see some of their cousins again!

Paul's parents had given all their kids a beef cow some time ago and Paul's relatives brought the last of our meat to us too! We are so thankful to have that in our freezer right now!

How is your Feb going??

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.