"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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our Little Housekeeper....

The truth is out....we admit it....we adopted Bella because I needed some help around the house. Ha Ha! Seriously, while I was working on the computer, I could hear her talking away to herself. I finally went back to her room and what did I find? Bella not only making her bed but her sister Grace's as well! She was so proud!

And, here is mine:

I guess I better get on the ball and get my bed made too. Bella is quite the slave driver!!

Love, Paula

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oops..... :)

Last night Kevin came out and said, "Oops, I think I just did something really funny." I looked up from the computer and said, "What?" He just stared at me. I looked at him once more questioningly, like "Well, are you going to tell me or what?" And then I noticed this....

Sam was standing right by us and burst out laughing too. Kev forgot to change his shaver to just a clipper. (He eventually shaved off the "mustache" too. But Sam HAD to get a picture of him like this!)

Remember how Bella was so "byoos" or "afraid" of Kevin with the goatee? Well, Grace took one look at him without the goatee and was "byoos" of him. I finally got her to realize that it really is OK and that Daddy will be fine and the goatee will grow back! She kept saying, "Goatee on again?" over and over.

Poor Kevin--He can't win with his little girls! As for me, I still love my Mr. Clean!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bella's First Haircut....

Today Bella had her first haircut at a salon.




Truthfully, I don't see much of a difference. :) Maybe the stylist was new? She was so timid. Oh well, Bella seemed to like having her hair done. Now we'll let it grow and I'll just trim the bangs until it's time for a "real" haircut.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Buddy Walk & Pumpkin Patch...

Today was a very fun day! Our whole family (except for Elizabeth who was scoring all the points for the VB team--she's the stats person :) headed out to Bismarck to our state capitol building where the 6th Annual Bismarck/Mandan Buddy Walk was being held. And guess who was asked to be the host family?

The weather was perfect: blue skies, low 80's, light breeze--a beautiful ND fall day! Over 1,000 people turned out to support loved ones with Down Syndrome. Kevin did a great job welcoming the group and sharing our journey! It was so encouraging to also have Grandma, Grandpa, and my brother Joe and his wife Brenda there to support us!
There were also many families from Minot who made the journey down; so maybe we will have to start our own Buddy Walk!

Also, Sam was a great Reece's Rainbow ambassador. He had a big basket of Lifesavers gummi candies that he handed out with Reece's Rainbow brochures and magnets explaining how they can support the ministry or maybe even adopt themselves one day! He would hand out the lifesavers and say "Be a Lifesaver; support Reece's Rainbow!" Do you think he takes after Dad, the life insurance agent, a little bit? :)

Here is a hefty dose of our day....

After the Buddy Walk, we went to Papa's Pumpkin Patch. It is an amazing place with so much to do...the kids had a blast!

Thanks, Bismarck Designer Genes for asking us to be the Host Family this year! We were humbled and honored to have been selected. And you put on one great Buddy Walk!

Love, Paula

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bella goes to College...

Today, Kevin, Bella and I were invited to speak to an Honors Level Disability Awareness class about the lessons we've learned by having a child (now children) with a disability.

The students came from all disciplines and it is a class with the main purpose of helping people work and live with people with disabilities. In this class, there are future school teachers, medical staff, economists, business people etc. I think it should be a REQUIRED course for all college graduates!

Today's topic was "Lessons Learned". We shared our family journey and how it impacted our decision to adopt Bella. We also shared insight and gave advice on how to best work with families who have a loved one with a disability.

One of the biggest areas for these students to work on is plain and simple -- the use of language-- "People First Language" that is! Both in the written and spoken word, the person should be put before the disabiltiy. i.e. a child with Down syndrome, a person with a mental illness, an employee with cerebral palsy, etc.

A disability does not define a person; it is just a part of who they are! We also shared about how using the "R" word (retard) makes us feel or any other word that can be construed as demeaning. I think the students were quite receptive to our suggestions to stop using the "R" word to refer to themselves or others doing something not up to par.

Also, I shared a story that was a turning point in my life after Grace was born. When Grace was about two months old, I was still quite sensitive to the fact that everyone was staring at my baby because she had Down syndrome. I felt that people would turn and stare at her while I had her out in her stroller.

Well, one day we were at the mall and Grandma went into a shop to get a coffee. While she went in, Grace and I waited just outside the entrance. While waiting, I noticed a girl walking towards us with black hair, black lipstick, black clothing, black fingernails, piercings...I am ashamed to admit that I was already "prejudging" her in my mind.

I watched as she glanced sideways at my baby as she walked by. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement, and lo and behold, the "Goth" girl came back to us, squatted down face-to-face before Grace, looked at her, and then looked up to mean while she was standing and said "She is just beautiful!" Wow, talk about God using an unlikely source to bring me to my knees.

There I was judging her by her looks, thinking the whole world was staring at my baby because of the way she looked! God used this young lady to stop me in my tracks and realize that the outside of a person is not what counts, it's what is on the inside. To this day, I really think the "Goth" girl was an angel in disguise!

We are so thankful we are able to share our journey with others. Perhaps one of those students will remember just one thing we said about working and living with people with disabilities. Because when it comes right down to it, "we are more alike than different."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lifetime Goal Achieved!!!!!

The Hallelujah Chorus broke out this morning when I realized one of my lifetime goals--all the laundry baskets are EMPTY! I could have cried tears of joy. (Seriously)

I use three hampers--one for whites, one for colors, and one for "special". This is the first time they have all been empty at once.

Maybe it's because I have a little helper now?...hmmmmm.....could be...That little Bella loves helping load both the washer and dryer. Then, she loves to stand and ask "That?" to each piece of laundry I'm folding to see whose it is. When she recognizes her clothes, she gathers them into a pile in her arms. Having never owned a piece of clothing, Bella sure helps me appreciate all we have!

Love, One Happy Mama

PS--it lasted all of FIVE minutes and then Kevin brought out his dirty laundry. Oh well, loved it while it lasted! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

"I'm Proud to be An American...."

Yes, today Bella received her Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS! I guess she is now an official American!

Bella says "I pledge Allegiance to the flag...." while holding her Certificate...

Welcome little one....Love, Mama

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dressin' up my Baby Doll :)

I am having so much fun dressing up our little "Bella-donna"!

This little sailor outfit is one of her cousin's hand-me-downs! Oh, and if you haven't seen these cute Russian-inspired clothes from Baby Gap, take a peek...


Yikes, I think I may have to place an order. Hey, some of the items are on sale. Ooooh, this is too fun! Really, I will use some restraint. Honest, I will....

Grinning, Paula

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Bella Update :)

Bella's doing really well! She's had a few appointments such as:

Dentist - No cavities....however, she was really scared of the big, reclining chair!

Dr. - No worries on the heart defect (oval window), no probs with the hips, decided to wait on some shot updates just to make sure this first appointment was a positive one for her!

Speech - started speech therapy at our local university. Her student clinician just happened to be a beautiful young lady we know from church. Beth will do wonderfully with Bella who took to her right away. We will go for speech two times a week for 50 minutes a time.

Bella is quickly picking up on some sign language. She really uses the "swing", "eat" and "bath" signs. Guess you can tell what she really likes!

She only cries when her food doesn't come as quickly as she would like it and when she is being put down for a nap or to bed at night.

You can tell she has some spirit though! She loves to sneak in and grab one of Grace's famous necklaces and run with them. Grace gets so mad at her. It's so funny to hear Grace yelling "Nyet, nyet, Bella Bogdana, Nyet!" LOL

Bella seems to really love her siblings. She kisses Sam's picture when he is at school and sleeps with Elizabeth's. When Grace gets home from school, she claps her hands and stomps her feet excitedly!

I really do think she gets kind of bored here at home with just me during the school week. I think she was so used to being around other kids her whole life, 24/7. We will start preschool in January.

She still loves clothes, food, swings, playing catch and watching just one DVD--a oldie but a good called "Baby Songs" with Hap Palmer.

So, all in all, the adjustments seem to be going rather well for everyone in the family. What an answer to prayer!

We surely feel blessed that God placed Bella in our family!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bakin' Brownies...

It's Saturday morning and I am home alone with two little muffins. So what do I decide to do to pass the time? Bake Brownies!

If you don't mind THREE girls covered in chocolate (I got chocolate kisses from the two little muffins), then it would be considered a success! I am pretty sure it was Bella's first time licking batter off a spoon...so, I guess it was a mmmmm, mmmmm, good time!

Oh, and the Brownies were scrumptious too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

TV Coverage of Our Journey

Are you tired of us yet? If not, here's another TV story on our adoption journey:


Even Jake the cat made the cut! Love, Paula

In the Last Few Days...

Over the last few days, a routine is slowly emerging.

And then in the midst of routine, we have exciting things happen like Elizabeth being inducted into the National Honor Society. Way to go, Eeeee!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Mmmmmmm.....Bella loves her food! She will fatten up in no time if I let her eat every time she wants to! We were told that she was given only baby food and mashed food at the orphanage.

We wonder what she is thinking about this food thing.... If we could hear her thoughts, it would probably go something like this:

"Wow, there's a whole new world out here! I thought there was only porridge and mashed potatoes, but you'll never believe it--there's spaghetti, chocolate milk, ice cream, graham crackers, french fries....

And what a concept! You can drive up in a car to a building and a person just hands you a bag of food through a little window. How cool is that! And then just on Friday, a man walked up to our front door of our house and handed Mama two large boxes. Inside those flat boxes were the yummiest triangle shaped foods -- they called it pizza!"

Here she is enjoying some pizza:


Our little Bella will not be little for long if she keeps this up! Oh well, she makes me feel like a great cook as she "mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm's" through every meal!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Here are two sisters...I think they like each other....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Liking the Vikings!

One of the best things about having children is influencing them on who their favorite sports teams are! So just like her big sister Grace, Bella is an official fan of the purple and gold. (Primarily because like Brett Favre, they are both feel like they are in a "foreign" country!) Bella does not quite understand all of the rules of American "futbol", but she does like to play catch with the Viking Nerf and she thinks she looks cute in her Vikings cheerleader outfit.

Grace not only likes playing catch but also likes to tackle which is why she is wearing the Helga helmet. It'll be easy to remember the year that the Vikings win their first Super Bowl because it will coincide with that Bella became part of our family.

Skol Vikings, Let's go! Love, Kevin AKA Papa