"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:3

The Burckhard Family

The Burckhard Family

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Woman's World Magazine to Feature our Family...

We are so excited to share with you all that our family will be a feature story in the February 1st issue of Woman's World magazine. It actually hits the stands on January 25th...if you'd like to take a peek while waiting in line to pay your groceries! :)

Way last September, an editor from the magazine called and said that they had seen the clip done by our local TV station on our adoption and were wondering if we would agree to be interviewed and photographed for their magazine. I told them that we would but that maybe they should go and look at the Reece's Rainbow site because there are many families on there besides us who are much more inspiring. But, she said that they wanted to stick with us.

One thing I was adamant about was that Reece's Rainbow would get some publicity out of this. I can't wait to see if they did put the website information and how people can pursue adoptions of children with Down syndrome.

Over the next few months, we didn't hear from them, so I figured it wasn't approved as a story and that was that. However, we got called two days before Thanksgiving with them wanting to interview me and have a photo shoot...all on the Thanksgiving weekend.

I was interviewed over the phone and they read our blog to put together the one-page story. Also, a local photographer (Otis & James) was hired to do our photo shoot. The photographer said they normally wouldn't be able to squeeze this type of thing in their schedule because Thanksgiving weekend is so busy because of family portraits and so on. But it just so happened that the only time that worked for us, they had a cancellation. The photo shoot was emotionally draining because when Grace was happy, Bella wasn't. You know how that goes...

So here are a few sneak previews of the photos the photographer took to send to the magazine. The writer contacted me later and said the photos were exactly what they were looking for, and that she thought the story turned out to be inspiring.

It was a very exciting thing for our little family to get to be in a magazine. Guess that is our 15 minutes of fame! More importantly though, we hope and pray that it may lead others to look into international adoption of orphans with Down syndrome from around the world. Let's pray that it will have that affect!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dump Truck Dollies....

What do you get when you spend 4 1/2 years in an orphanage with a bunch of boys...

Dump Truck Dollies!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dreaming of a White Christmas..... But Not THIS White!

Hello. I'm Sam. I finally decided to do a guest blog for my mom. Well, in either October or November, my dad and my grandpa decided to purchase a bobcat. So they were wishing for snow. Well, they got their wish, and about 10 times over at that! Most houses in Minot are snowed in, the snowbanks in our backyard almost reached the top of our fence (It's a reletively tall fence), and the sky is still dumping out cold in powder form! My dad says "SNOW TRAVEL ADVISED!!!" It's been snowing since the 23rd. This snow is probably going to prevent me from seeing my best friend/cousin today. He's in Minot until the 2nd or 4th of Jan. So this is bad for me. Thanks DAD!!! <-- Sarcasm. Well, if you're in Florida, Equador, or any place with heat, don't come here. You'll be found in a block of ice the next day. Well, my mom is probably going to put pictures now, so, bye!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I love you, Barney!

Bella and Great Uncle Victor...

The infamous guitar Sissy fought off other moms for on Black Friday...

Don't let the cat out of the bag...

Our traditional matching nightgowns...Bella included :) ....

Sissy with her surprise Kindle...she loved it...

Sam with reading--the old-fashioned way--real books (The Warriors series)...

The "Snowmen" in matching pj bottoms...you tell they were very excited about them "yes, Sam, that is sarcasm"...

Grace and her first hand-held game system. She said, "This is the best Kwistmas eber!"...

Grandpa and Grandma with the grandkids...

Our family of SIX...

Grandma Lucille with Grands and Great-grands...

Grandpa with his little Bella...

And the real reason for the season..."BABY JESUS"...Bella placing baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning...


May God bless you and yours this Christmas and in the upcoming New Year!

Love, Paula

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Family Fun Night....

Our whole family was able to partake of a delicious meal out at Applebee's tonight courtesy of a dear friend from church. We had so much fun visiting and listening to the 80's music playing in the background.

Thanks, Jim, for the gift certificate! We had a wonderful time!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two More Firsts....

Bella has two more firsts!

Sledding with Sissy:

Swimming at the Y with Grace, Jen & Anne:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elizabeth's Reflections....

Elizabeth was asked by her English teacher to write an essay for our local newspaper. She was having a hard time coming up with a topic, but in the middle of the night this idea came to her...God-inspired, in other words! Here is her essay that appeared in the religion section of our newspaper yesterday:

With the holiday season inevitably come remakes of classic Christmas movies, and one of the newest this year is an animated version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” I attended this with some of my friends recently, and it was overall a pretty entertaining movie. I didn’t expect to get a type of theology lesson out of it, but that’s what ended up happening. On the way home, my friend brought up the scene in which Ebenezer Scrooge looks out his windows and sees ghosts lining the streets, all tormented and weighed down by lengthy chains wrapping around their bodies, symbolizing the evil deeds they had done while alive.

“It just made me so thankful that in the end, we don’t have to worry about our good deeds outweighing the bad,” she said to me. “I mean, if we’re Christians, God’s forgiveness can cover all of that.”

I had never really thought of Dickens’ epic Christmas tale in that way before, but now it has a whole new level of meaning to me. Imagine if we really did have to do penance for every sin, every malicious act or little slip-up. There’d be so much reason to be afraid of death, not knowing if we would even end up in Heaven or if we had fallen just short.

Christmas is generally only thought of as the time when Jesus came into this world, but what Christmas represents is more than that. His birth, eventual death on the cross, and subsequent resurrection meant that any human being from that point on had freedom from daily sacrifices, regulations, and from the generally legalistic nature of the religion of the day. This does not mean that we can take advantage of His grace and do whatever we want, but rather we can live, not in total fear of God, but in awe of Him and His mercy towards us as sinners.

Instead of, like Scrooge, trying to make atonement day after day for our sinful pasts, we can have a whole new life in Him, and that all started when, as Philippians 2:7 states, he “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Christmas isn’t simply about celebrating Christ’s newborn life as a human being, but it’s also about the beginning of our new lives through Him.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breakfast With Santa....

Yesterday, Grace had breakfast with Santa at her school. Daddy was able to go and meet her in the lunch room. When it was her turn to talk to Santa, he said "Hi Grace! Come and sit on my lap." She went up to him and said "Hi, Gary!" LOL Can't pull anything over on Grace--although she believes in the real Santa!

Breakfast with Santa:

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Breakfast!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gifts for Bella....

Bella got a few gifts from a dear family today...their daughter Mya, adopted from China, has the exact same birthday--day & year-- as Bella. Besides a cute t-shirt, an ornament and a magnet, they gave her a whole slew of Barney DVD's (that were her son's) and a Barney book. She is literally in Barney heaven watching a Barney movie right now while clutching the book!

Here's Bella in the t-shirt:

And here is the magnet...it is SO right on!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eatin' Lunch with Sissy & Friends....

Fun times with Sissy and friends! Bella visited Elizabeth's school and had lunch with her and her friends. Bella was "mmmm, mmmm'ing" again and seemed to really love the cavatini!

Here's a group shot:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Decorating Cookies with Grandma...

On Saturday, we bundled up and went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house to decorate Christmas cookies. This year Bella got to join in the fun. She was a diligent little helper and loved licking the frosting off the cookies.

Decorating cookies with Grandma:

Bella and Grace having a snack with Grandpa:

Bella reading Grandma's books:

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Know You Can't Carry a Tune When...

Grace tells me "Paula, stop singing!" (When she is adamant about something she calls me Paula.)


When I try to sing a sweet lullaby to Bella before bed, she covers my mouth with her chubby little hand.

Sigh...persnickety girls!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sissy's Big Weekend....

Sissy, aka Elizabeth, had a very BIG weekend!

First, she finished up a church musical performance set in December 1941. It was awesome; here she is with her friends who were also in the play:

On Saturday, she did stats for the boys basketball team in which they traveled at least 1 and 1/2 hours away for the game.

This morning we had a very exciting time at church--Elizabeth was baptized! She shared her testimony using the illustration of adoption. Just as Bella did nothing for us to choose her, her salvation is because of God alone--because of nothing she has done. It was a beautiful, teary-eyed moment!

After babysitting for another family all afternoon, coupled with the emotion of the day, she was exhausted and got "some love" from her little sister Bella:

Elizabeth, we are so proud of you! Love, Mom

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Likes Ketchup More?

In Grace's life, EVERYTHING is better with ketchup! So, I especially loved this poster (forwarded to me by my friend Holly) put out by the National Down Syndrome Congress to promote the "more alike than different" campaign for people with Down syndrome:

Now, Grace is renowned for her love of ketchup. Her bus driver Char and aide Diane gave her a huge ketchup container with a pump one year for Christmas. Then, when she was younger, we would go through the store checkout line and she would clutch a big bottle of Heinz (instead of a toy) and cry when the check-out lady had to take it to scan it! At one time, the bottoms of her hands and feet turned orange from eating so much ketchup & baby carrots!

Well, we now have another little ketchup fanatic!

So, who likes ketchup more: Grace or Bella? The jury is still out....

Sisters' Sleepover... :)

We have to get Grace up early for her to be ready to get on the bus at 7:30 a.m. When we went in to get Grace up, we found the sweetest thing: both Bella & Grace sleeping soundly together in Grace's bed. Our dream is coming true...not only sisters, but friends for life!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Celebrating With A Friend....

Today I sat with my dear friend while she finished up her last round of chemo! Praise God! I am so in awe of her and her great attitude throughout these last few months. She is a wonderful example of how God will use this, too, for His glory. And, she truly lived her faith "out loud" throughout this valley in her life.

I had so much fun just sitting and visiting with her...we don't get to do it much in this season of our lives, and we would have preferred to be doing it over lunch at Applebees, but nevertheless, I came away encouraged. How ironic that I was the one to be blessed...hmmmm...in God's economy things are often turned upside down, aren't they?

What a privilege to have a friend like her--I pray that this trial is temporary for her and that it (cancer) is defeated once and for all!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wait! Bella, You are Small Enough!

Just the other day, I emptied the dryer and took the clothes out to the kitchen to fold. Not thinking, I left the dryer door open and when I came back to put clothes from the washer into the dryer, this is what I found:

"Bella, you are small enough...we don't have to shrink you!" Needless to say, I make sure the dryer door is shut tightly after each use!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Elizabeth's Eclectic Sounds of the Season...

This afternoon Elizabeth participated in our community's performance of Handel's Messiah. Because it is the 250th anniversity of Handel's death and the 100th year of the performance in our community, the choir consisted of 250 voices!

Elizabeth and two of her friends from school sung in the alto section. The music was so beautiful and moving...all raised in praising our God in heaven, telling of His wondrous works through His son's birth.

Well, as soon as the Messiah was over, Elizabeth darted out the auditorium door and hopped into her Dad's vehicle to trek on down to Bismarck (about two hours away) to go to the TobyMac Winter Wonder Slam concert. (if you don't know him, he's a Christian rap artist formerly from the group DC Talk)

Wow, talk about an eclectic taste in music, E! Very different, yet the same goal--to Glorify God through music! Go Handel & Toby!

Edited to add: Oh, and Elizabeth also got to see one of her favorite bands--Kutless. Here she is in the photo with the band after the concert last night:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Special Needs Trusts....

I don't know why I haven't mentioned this ever before, but I have a Special Needs Trusts expert living right under my own roof! And, he's awesome at what he does!

So, if you have a child with a disability and haven't done any special needs planning, you certainly can contact my husband for guidance and assistance!

Here's his contact information:

Kevin Burckhard
Special Steps Planning
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
701-838-2420 (work)
701-721-3980 (cell)

He has ensured (& insured LOL) that all of our children will be protected and cared for after we are gone. It does take extra care and a specialist to make sure that everything is done in accordance with federal and state laws.

I highly encourage you to contact either Kevin or your own financial planner to make sure your children are taken care of in the manner YOU desire.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yikers! Thank You, Heimlich!

Bella and I were just having lunch and when I didn't hear her usual "mmmm, mmmm, mmmm'ing", I looked over at her and she had her little hands on her throat! Praise God I remembered what to do and didn't panic. I performed the Heimlich manuever on her and out popped a piece of chicken. Yikers!

Poor thing...she was so scared, she pushed her food away and just wanted me to hold her (which I gladly did). After a few minutes, I asked her if she wanted some chocolate milk, and she signed "please". For Bella, chocolate milk makes everything OK! Doesn't chocolate do that for everybody?

Thank you, God, that this was just a scare and nothing a little chocolate milk couldn't help!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bella's First Christmas Tree...

Putting up the Christmas tree was so fun this year!

Bella was such a little trooper; you see, we have the old-fashioned artificial tree where you have to actually spread out the branches and then attach them to the tree. Bella was our designated runner: she would take a folded branch, deliver to one of us to fluff up, and then take a readied branch back to Daddy to attach to the main frame.

She loved the lights and putting ornaments on the tree. (See yesterday's blog for what she likes to do with them now... :)

Here's our little angel helping with her first Christmas tree...

Bella with my souvenir Ukrainian egg from an artisan at the Architechtural Museum outside of Kyiv:

Bella's big sister Grace "decked" out in her own holiday costume:

Bella with Big, big sis Elizabeth after the decorating session:

Bella, we love "seeing" everything new through your eyes!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

School Pictures & Update...

Here's a quick run-down on what's happening with each Burckhard family member along with their school picture:

Completed her 2nd novel in the NaNoWriMo contest. (National Novel Writing Month). She bypassed the set goal of 50,000 words by writing 50,200 words. She says it is still untitled and that she won't let anyone read it!

Starred in the Our Redeemer's Christmas Program last night as Mr. Nolan...clad in a polyester plaid yellow suit & bow tie! He is a Thespian just like his dad!

Came home from school yesterday saying "I stayed Green!" Meaning she had good behavior. The funny thing is that her communication notebook revealed she went RED yesterday! Trying too hard to be the teacher by disciplining the other kids and putting them in "red". What a bossy gal!


Continues to make us laugh. Just this morning, she sat under the Christmas tree and signed "ball". In the next instant, she had a glass ball ornament in her hand where she proceeded to throw it, shattering it into a million pieces on the wooden toy box! She looked at me like "OH NO..." and seemed to expect to be disciplined. I was really trying not to laugh at her funny expression...I just told it her it was OK, but not to touch the ornaments on the tree.

Kevin: Is one happy camper today because it is snowing! He says that's all he wants for Christmas: snow. Bob (the Bobcat) is lonely and is getting lazy just sitting in our driveway. The SnowMen are raring to go!

Me: Just doing my Christmas shopping online--in between my chores and playing with Bella.

Have a great day!