"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, April 27, 2016

Charity Is Going to Japan

God willing, Charity will be going to Japan this summer in August for about 13 days with her chamber orchestra. [Edited to say that the group was just invited to several more places so the trip has been extended to around 19 days now!]

To help raise the funds she needs, she has been making and selling items. You can see some of what is for sale at her Facebook Page, Wares By Cherry.

Charity is very excited for this amazing opportunity and is working hard to be ready to go--she has a solo violin piece her teacher wants her to play at their performances. I will have to ask her for sure, but I believe it is "Winter" by Vivaldi. She has also done some sewing for herself which I hope she will blog about at some point as she wants cool and "easy wear" clothing that packs nicely.

Check out her Wares By Cherry page!

And if you would like to hear a little clip of some of their music: Come Thou Fount

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Your Questions Answered Part 2

Natalia asked: "How are the other kids doing?"

Milena asks: "Also, I wonder what your other four children do currently? College for the older two - or are they working? Does Charity still play the violin?"

I'm glad you asked! They are all growing in one way or another! Not all of them are growing physically any more--after all, I am Mom to two full-fledged adults! But all of them are growing some how!

Todd is 23 and busy with work and college. After graduating with multiple honors and an Associates degree he took a break from college for a year or so, but started back again in the fall. He is continuing to mature in delightful ways and is a blessing in our home! He hopes to build us a chicken coop here in the next few weeks so we can try for egg layers this year. This is a long held dream for our family, so hopefully all the details work out this time--you would not believe the amount of things that have happened each year to stop this from happening! So I'll believe it when it actually is reality.

Charity is 20 now and I seriously don't know what I would do without her. She is a wonderful blessing with so many aspects of our family life! Charity also blesses the community through her involvement in MOPS and other volunteer activities. She is very involved with her musician's life and God has opened up some really cool opportunities for her through her musical abilities. In addition to teaching violin, she is a part of a chamber orchestra and very busy with that each week. She has a good reason to be very busy--her Chamber Orchestra is going to Japan in August for 10 days to perform! What an amazing opportunity for her! Additionally, she is traveling to England in June with her best friend and parents. Charity is very excited about these adventures and we are so excited for her!

Kristina is now "Sweet 16" and very busy with her school work, continuing to re-learn her Russian, expand her knowledge of American Sign Language, and helping me around the house. I can count on Kristina to be my best organizer! Back in Feb. I believe it was, she got to go with her Dad and me when he had a job in the general DC area. The timing was perfect for us to take her to the FRUA Russian Spring Festival at Hillwood Estate and Gardens and she (and we!) enjoyed it very much! She re-connected this winter via VK with a dear friend of hers who was with her when she was in the orphanage in Russia, and that has brought much peace of mind to Kristina, knowing her friend is alive and doing OK,

Katya is 11 and the light of all our lives! Yes, she still has plenty of challenges that she throws at us, but she is most definitely a part of our family and she knows it more and more! [And just a FYI for the nay-sayers who were saying we were definitely going to disrupt her (along with a lot of other trash made up about us) if you are reading this, I hope you think about this long enough to learn some important life lessons.]

Chad is 10 and still our sweet, funny, wonderful kid! This school year we did something new to us--we joined a local Co-Op and had weekly classes there. I'm glad we did--it's been beneficial and since Katya's need for an early bedtime keeps us from easily being able to participate in events that go on in the late afternoon or evening with our home school group, this weekly Co-Op has been great as we can get home before Katya needs someone at home to get her off the school van. Chad has really enjoyed the Co-Op and I'm glad for some help teaching some things like Art that I did not feel like I was doing that well accomplishing! Chad loves helping his Dad with projects--Chad has so much strength he is often a real asset now for things requiring strength! Chad is an awesome part of our family and brings joy to us every day.

And there you go!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Answers to Questions Part 1

Angela asks:

"How is Katya's signing going? How many signs does she use independently? Also is she independent with eating/drinking? Can she use normal utensils/cup etc??"

Katya continues to learn ASL. She understands that this works for her, both at home and some what at school (many of the staff there are fluent in basic ASL, and some of the kids know ASL as well). She loves learning new signs, and in fact has learned new ones on her own just from watching "Signing Time" videos--and then we have to try to figure out what she is telling us! Whoops! At times, because language is simply tough for her, Katya looses a sign and then is very frustrated and will try several times even though she does not remember the sign. Often, we can figure it out by asking her lots and lots of yes and no questions and then refresh her memory on the correct way to sign what she wants.

How many signs Katya uses independently is anyone's guess! She uses enough now that we no longer attempt to catalog them! The last time we did so was several years ago and she had well over 100 in addition to the alphabet and numbers at that point! Her vocabulary has continued to grow since that time. Additionally, Katya uses her Ipad with communication app to communicate beyond what she knows in ASL at school. She does not prefer to use her Ipad however, and so mainly signs and uses what verbal language she has here at home.

Katya came home able to independently convey food and drink to her mouth. Please note the word "convey". She has since refined her skills and much improved them!! She has room to grow in this area but no one is concerned probably about it except her Mama at this point. ;-) And yes, Katya uses all normal table utensils and dishes! She also understands setting the table for meals with them and is quite happy to participate in this as it means food is coming soon!

Thank you for asking, Angela, and I hope that you will continue to comment on Katya's blog.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Question and Answer Time!

So it's that time again . . . what questions do you have that you would like answered?

You can ask anything you want, and if I can I will answer the questions as I have time!

Ask away!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Doctor in the House: My Life With Ben Carson

I have been eagerly waiting for Candy Carson's book, "A Doctor in the House: My Life With Ben Carson" to show up in our local library. Today was the day that I finally found it in the new books section!

I have started reading it already and am finding myself very interested, as I expected to be.  Candy's stories help fill in some of the questions our family has had about some aspects in Doctor Carson's life. For instance, I had always wondered if the portrayal of them losing twins in the movie, "Gifted Hands", was accurate. I questioned it as I had never heard Doctor Carson mention that in any of his speeches or books. (If it's there, I have missed it.) Candy writes about the death of their twins in  "A Doctor in the House".

Candy writes with a clear and engaging style that makes the book a fast read. This is a plus for me as a busy Mom to kids with special needs.

Obviously, I have not finished the book yet, but I can't imagine that I will end it feeling any differently than I do so far--that this book is a great addition to my reading list!

Friday, February 26, 2016

And Kristina is 16

Kristina celebrated her 16th birthday recently. She was quite surprised to be gifted with a great, heavy cardboard box--so big and heavy that she could not move it. She was further surprised to see Russian writing on it!

Yes! the box was full of a Russian china set, including a soup tureen! Way back in August/Sept of 2005 when we adopted her, we had purchased a Russian china set in her birth town and with the help of our dear Russian friends, packaged it up and it was sent via UPS back to the United States to wait for her birthday at some future point!
We had not purchased the matching tea set at the time, but when we returned to Russia in 2010, we were surprised and pleased to find the exact same pattern of tea set in a shop, and we purchased and hand carried that home to give to Kristina. She was thrilled with that, and then to get a matching china set some years later just shocked her to no end! ;-) I'm truly happy that we could do this for her, as the china is incredibly beautiful, and because it is from her birth country, it is meaningful to Kristina.
She wanted to eat her birthday cake on one of her new plates.
And while her birthday was a much smaller deal than we would have liked it to be, due largely to me being in a state of pain and dysfunction due to a torn rotator cuff (which is now healed, thankfully!), Kristina still had a happy birthday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Katya's Umpteenth Trip to Baltimore--Part 3

Remember, we began sensing there were problems with the van before we even got out of Baltimore? Well, as the miles ticked by, we began to be more and more unsure we would make it home with the van.

We prayed, we tried to not worry. Paul had checked all the fluids and done every thing he knew to do while traveling, so we would just have to keep pushing on in faith.

Just as we nearly crested the top of the hill just on the Maryland/West VA border on I68, our van lost power so fast that we couldn't even get the van to a point where there was a shoulder! We were in a precarious position still really on the road. Paul put the van in "park" and went to get out to try to figure out what to do--only he realized the van was rolling backwards! "Park" would not hold the van! Paul managed to jam the Emergency Brake down, but even that did not seem like it wanted to hold the van well, and the trucks and cars were whizzing dangerously close to us in the dark. "Out! Out!" Paul ordered us! "Get walking on the other side of the guard rail and get up to the Welcome Center."

Bless my children--Charity, Chad and Katya all grabbed their back packs and water bottles and crawled out and over the guard rail and began walking in the dark and rain. Later, looking back on it all, I was amazed at how fast they moved. We trudged through the dark, slipping and sliding a bit on the hill and loose gravel. It was certainly not a very comfortable walk, and Katya was rather agitated at first, but with the others staying calm and positive, even she cheered up! Eventually we got to the Welcome Center and went in to settle down for who knew how long of a wait in one corner of the place.

Charity pulled a book out of her backpack and offered to read to Chad to help distract him and pass the time, and that left me free to supervise Katya and keep checking in periodically with Paul to try to figure out what to do. He informed me he was trying to keep people from hitting our van in the dark and rain by using his flashlight to motion them to get over, meanwhile he was making calls, trying to locate help for our stranded family.

Time drug on and we finally rummaged in our back packs to check on what few snacks we had. We all had a few things and laid them out. "I don't need mine," Chad manfully declared! "Let someone else eat mine!"

As time drug on, we began to envision spending the night in the Welcome Center. Our spirits lifted after one of the care-takers, a kindly older gentleman, came around to check on us. "Don't worry!" he solemnly assured us. "You are safe here and if you need to spend the whole night, that's OK. I'll make sure you are OK!"

After a call to one of our pastor's to see if they knew of anyone in the area who could possibly help us, Paul got a call from someone who said they were coming to help us but it would take them about 45 minutes to get to us. When this dear man showed up, we had been waiting at the Welcome Center for about two hours, hungry and tired, but even Katya was really an amazing kiddo the whole time! While waiting, she let me take a nice photo of her at the tree.

Well, to make a long story short, the kindly gentleman who showed up and rescued us, turned out to be the father of the new wife of one of our pastor's! So that was a fun bit of "connection"! At great risk to his own life and limb he towed our van to the Welcome Center (He and Paul just narrowly escaped being hit by a tractor trailer in the process  of hitching the van up to his truck). Then, he put himself totally at our disposal and said he would do whatever was best for our family--either take us home to his own house for the night or take us to a hotel--whichever we desired. While Paul and I were debating which would be the best plan (we had lots of angles to consider due to our kiddos needs), this gentleman asked, "How far away do you live?" When we told him we had several more hours to go, he offered, "How about I just load you all up in my truck and take you home?!" And bless his generous heart! That is exactly what he did! We had a tight fit with the 5 of us and the Mr in his truck but Katya (in car seat), Chad and Charity all squeezed into the back seat, and the Mr., Paul and I all squeezed into the truck front seat.

We had a time of blessed fellowship and rejoicing in the Lord as we traveled back home. And even though we arrived way, way late and very tired, our hearts were full of warmth and gladness due to the kindness of this man and his caring heart. He would not even allow us to give him anything for his gas and bother, but blessed us and turned around to begin his long drive back home through the dark and rainy night.

The next day, Paul and a friend of ours went and towed the van back home--indeed, the transmission which was less than a year old had gone completely out! In fact, it had gone so completely and thoroughly out that "park" did not work at all, so had it not been just almost at the crest of the hill when it happened, rather than going down the other side, we could have had a very different ending to our story--because as it turned out--for whatever reasons, the emergency brake did not work right either and just the "jostling" that occurred when hitching the van to the gentleman's truck to tow it caused, the van started rolling backwards and Paul had to run and brace it with his body while the man ran to his truck to start pulling the van forward before it gained enough momentum to pull both vehicles back down the hill. That was a night to remember, that is for sure!

We are very thankful for God's mercies to our family and for how he provided one of the kindest, most gentle man of God to come to our aid when we were stranded! And so that was how our trip to Baltimore and home again went.