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

Dr. Ben Carson on Katya Dueck
Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, Would You Look At That!

What's that? you ask? That my friends is a "Perler Bead" frog.

Katya came home from school, saw that Chad had made a frog using a little paper pattern (pictured below) and she began studying the pattern. Then she made her own frog--like the pattern. Please note, she only visually observed the pattern while holding it in her hand. She correctly placed the beads on a separate base.

Our girl is just full of surprises. I love that she is. I am thankful for healing. Thankful for how she is progressing.

But sometimes at times like this, I must admit, I am still angry at the neglect and abuse that she suffered. Katya could have been so much farther along in life by now had she been given even the most basic level of instruction and love and care.

I am still passionate with a fierce passion about what is going on for orphans in Ukraine--and Russia for that matter too. Our family will continue to advocate, continue to seek ways to help, and someday, God willing, we will do something in person to stem the awful hemorrhaging of  kids into the system in Ukraine. Someday, God willing . . . . I can not sit here and pretend it is all well and fine because Katya is home and safe with us. There are other kids who are in that same orphanage TONIGHT--right now. There are other kids in other orphanages which are even WORSE than where Katya was. It's not right. And as caring, decent humans, we need to do something to make a difference.

God willing . . . . and I pray the time comes sooner rather than later.

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . . .

Monday, October 20, 2014

Busy, Happy Days!

It seems we are having such busy, happy days there is never enough time. Charity's Monday's are full of violin students coming to the house, Tuesday's she goes to a biology Science class. She is taking the "honors track" so that is keeping her busy. Chad has been having reading tutoring on Tuesday's as well, which means I need to drop him off and pick him up an hour later. And Kristina and Chad both have piano lessons that day too. Wednesday's Charity has violin lessons (both private and group) and we try to all hit the library. Thursday's Chad has had reading tutoring again, and Friday is just packed with all the other stuff we are not getting done the other days of the week! Then Saturday's Chad has soccer and Sunday of course is full with church and sometimes other things! In addition to all that, there is Katya to get off to school every morning, and to welcome home every afternoon, along with events for her school, or special activities to participate in with her.

We have been working to ensure that Kristina can relearn her Russian, and as a part of that, we are trying to attend a Russian speaking church about an hour from our home once a month or so. The other Sunday, we took in their fall harvest festival. The service started at 12:00 noon and lasted about two hours. Then we all enjoyed an amazing pot-luck spread! Katya and Kristina both chowed down delightedly on dishes that tasted familiar to them. And we enjoyed trying some familiar type dishes as well as new ones that previously we had only read about--like "Herring Under a Fur Coat". 

Since the population of the church is primarily composed of families from various former USSR countries, the dishes were varied. We took a crock pot of Charity's amazingly delicious borscht and some good old American Rice Krispie treats to share--the latter seemed to be a big hit with the younger set there, and the former Charity got many nice compliments on.

The church was nicely decorated.

And much to the kiddos delight, the church was handing out plastic grocery store bags and inviting the children to select fruits and veggies to take home! My kiddos sure enjoyed that part!

In addition to the fun and good stuff, we have had some NOT so good stuff happen all in a short period of time. The transmission went out on our high-mileage mini-van, leaving us stranded an hour away from home till we got a rental car tracked down and all the other details figured out. Barely a week later, Paul and Chad were coming home from getting groceries when a lady coming from a viewing at a funeral home pulled out and slammed right into them. Paul's truck is inoperable due to that, and we are waiting on the insurance companies to solve that problem. Thankfully, neither Paul nor Chad were really hurt--Chad was scared very, very badly as she slammed into the truck on his side right behind where he was sitting. So he had some muscle tension and such from that but that was all. We have so much to be thankful for in both of those situations. And then, I suffered a concussion that has been impacting my life still way too much even though I feel fine now and am up and functioning. It just makes me rather stupid at times when it comes to simple things like oh say, talking--and Math. Hopefully since so much as improved for me already, those areas will continue to improve as well.

So that's the news from our neck of the world for now. How goes this fall for you all?!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Infinitely More

Today promises to be a good day. We are going to meet our friend, Alex Krutov, for food and another Russian lesson for the girls.

If you have never read his book, may I highly recommend it?!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Vacation Part 2

By Day 2, Katya was a lot more settled into the idea of traveling instead of being in school. She did beautifully the rest of the trip for the most part, and truly seemed to enjoy it in spite of the many changes in her routine, new places, new faces, new foods and new experiences. All the books we had read to her ahead of time as prep to try to help her understand what a vacation was all about seemed to have been successful! ;-)

 She kept herself occupied in the van with activities.

She cooperated with our picnic meals.

She enjoyed smelling flowers.

She liked the water and the rocks.

She liked all the extra time to snuggle with her family members too!

(photo compliments of Kristina)

And once at the cabin on Lake Superior, Katya absolutely loved running out to the balcony each morning with her siblings when they woke up to look out over the lake!

(Photos used by permission of Charity, with the exceptions noted).

--To Be Continued

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ukraine's Independence Day

Today is Ukraine's Independence Day. It is a poignant day, as they are celebrating their independence from the former USSR while simultaneously being forced to fight again for their freedom from Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine.

I was privileged to watch some clips from the parade and speeches, thanks to a new initiative launched today--"Ukraine Today"--English news from Ukraine!  Check it out!

In honor of Ukraine's Independence Day, here are some photos of our kids taken wearing traditional Ukraine clothing. I don't think I have ever shared it before, but on my husband's side of the family, our relatives came from Ukraine.

Miss Katya of course--taken this spring.

And and older picture of the other kids taken probably in the winter of 2009 or early spring 2010. I  purchased outfits for them when I first went to Ukraine in 2009.


They all are pretty fond of their outfits. Chad sadly outgrew his, but my friend, Anne, was able to find and purchase one for him that she brought to the USA when they came last fall, so he has one he can wear again. I really should get updated photos now that we have Katya with all the kids wearing them.

We pray for the peace of Ukraine, and wish them all the best!! Ukraine is very near and dear to our hearts. (So is Russia for that matter, but we do not appreciate what they are doing to Ukraine and their peace-loving people.)

Slava Ukraini!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vacation--Toledo Zoo--Part 1

The end of July and first part of August, we were privileged to take a little vacation when a long-time family friend invited us to stay a few nights in her cabin on the edge of Lake Superior.

We prepped Katya ahead of time by checking out books on vacation from the library and reading them to her over and over. She seemed to like them, so we were hopeful that when we told her that we were leaving the next day for vacation that she would be happy and not stressed out.

She was! Until we showed up at summer camp to take her out a little early to leave!

Poor girl! She was crying bitterly as her teacher brought her to us. She calmed down a little when she realized everyone was outside waiting for her.

But she was still sad and would periodically burst into tears the first day and cry sadly all over again!

We stopped to eat a packed picnic lunch on the way to the Toledo Zoo. I don't think I got any photos of that--we were too busy trying to quickly eat and get back on the road so we would have as much time as possible at the zoo!

When we got to the Zoo, Katya was initially very anxious and upset, wanted her noise-cancelling ear muffs and even those were not enough help. Every thing was triggering her, and I began to think we might need to leave before we even got started really,  but Charity remembered to apply Peace and Calming and Stress Away Essential Oils, and Katya soon calmed down and began to enjoy the zoo--A LOT!

Chad was EXTREMELY happy! He is all about animals and wants to learn as much as he can every time he is at the zoo.

Katya and I were both fascinated by the elephants. That was probably the most enjoyable part of the zoo trip for me.


It was especially fun to see them using their trunks to blindly fish out treats!

The kiddos enjoyed the animal masks.

Our trip to the zoo was most satisfactory and a great start to our first day of vacation!