"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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Little Nathan....

We were blessed with an extra gift this Christmas--some information on our little Nathan. We received a very special email with a few choice tidbits such as....

* He wears a size 4T in clothing and a size 8 shoe.

* He started sleeping in a regular bed one month ago and it's reported that he’s sleeping much better now that he’s not in a crib.

* He has also started using the potty! He’s asking to go and everything!

* He’s beginning to talk in 2-3 word sentences such as “give me that”.

I can't tell you how excited we were to get this information! We can't wait to meet this little man....hopefully in February!!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Burckhards!


Grandma & Grandpa with Bella Bogdana....
Grace's new rockstar hair....
Elizabeth with an Icelandic Doll in handmade authentic outfit.....
Sam is ready to learn "Deutsch"....
The girls in the annual matching Christmas nightgowns....
We pray that all of our family and friends had a very Merry Christmas celebrating Jesus' birth!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Visit to Santa.....



We visited Santa tonight. Grace snuggled up to him and laid her head on his shoulder beaming up to him while gently patting his shoulder. Bella took a bit of coercing for her first visit, but finally cautiously sat on his lap.

Grace wants a necklace and Bella wants a doll for Christmas...They were two VERY excited little elves!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Excited to Share.....

that we have mailed off the I-600A application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, aka USCIS, to obtain approval to adopt Nathan!

We had to wait to send the application in until we had our Home Study done and approved by the ND Department of Human Services--that letter came yesterday!

Thanks to Lisa from Catholic Charities at being so efficient and effective at writing an excellent Home Study and to Shelley from About A Child at so patiently and expertly answering my many questions. It is truly a team effort!

Now we wait for a fingerprinting appointment in Fargo and then the approval letter to follow.

Soooooooooooooo.......Merry Christmas, Kevin! (We decided that this app and the $890 fees are our Christmas gifts to each other this year.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Just the Way I Am"

Yesterday, Grace and Bella received a very precious early Christmas gift. Our dear, tender-hearted Pastor Andy gave the girls this book....


Oh My! What a wonderful book! The book description says:

Just the Way I Am
God's Good Design in Disability

Through photographs, Bible passages, and her own story, Krista Horning’s book tells of a wise and sovereign God who turns all things for good, including disability.

Born with Apert syndrome that has required more than 60 surgeries and countless hours of therapy, Krista and her family understand the severe pain and suffering associated with disability. Yet they also experience God’s grace and are able to live with hope in God because they are anchored in God’s word.
From the Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

To order this book, or any other excellent God-centered materials, you can go to Desiring God Ministry's book store by following this link:

http://www.desiringgod.org/Store/Books/890

We are SO thankful for our Pastor and the way he demonstrates Christ's love to our girls and others with disabilities in our church family. Just as Christ does, he welcomes us "Just the Way I am".....

Love, Paula

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Many Blessings....

We are so thankful for unexpected blessings that have been given to us lately. When we first began this journey, a dear friend gave us a generous gift to help us bring Nathan home. (Thank you, M.K.) It was just what was needed to begin our updated home study!

Then, on Saturday night, Kevin and I went to the ORCS boys basketball game in Velva and wouldn't you know....Kevin won a 40" flat screen TV. He dropped in $10 for Dollars for Scholars and his name was drawn! So, we were able to sell the TV for way under cost and applied those $$$$'s to our ever-growing adoption fund.

So, along with my new job at Family Voices, a gift from a friend, and the sale of the TV....we have been able to pay for each expense as they have come up.

We are so thankful for these blessings from God! He provides abundantly in so many ways--and through so many people--taking care of not only our daily bread, but also over and above what we could ever dream of to help bring this precious boy home!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cookies at Grandma's...

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go......for our annual Christmas Cookie decorating!

Sam loves to cut out the cookies....

Bella loves to "decorate" the cookies....

Here's Grandma with her "ONLY" Grandson FOR THE TIME BEING.......

Ok, I finally allowed Papa to take a picture of me and then even blog about it.....

The finished products! But don't let Grace fool you--she only decorated ONE COOKIE and then took it and ate it and she was done for the day!

So looking forward to having another little helper for next year's cookie tradition!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Adoption Update.....

Things are moving right along in our process to adopt "Nathan"!

We received our homestudy draft today and it looks great!

Also today, we went to our friendly neighborhood notary Jean (doesn't everyone have one?) and got notaries on most of our dossier documents.

In North Dakota, you have to get your home study approved by the Department of Human Services. Our home study will be sent there next week for approval.

We will then send our dossier over to Nathan's country (along with 650 Euros) to start the translation process. We don't have to wait for our government's approval to send it over.

In the mean time, we will get a fingerprinting date and then will be in the "waiting" game to get the "golden ticket" aka I-171-H.

Once we get that, we go over to his country and begin the in-country process!

So far, this is faster and a bit more laid back than Ukraine. But time will tell..... :)

Does anyone know how long it is taking to get the I-171-H after sending in your application? Just wondering.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Little Cuddle Time......


This little scene made me smile this morning. A triple-layer cuddle.....priceless!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bella the Penguin

Guess this speaks for itself! :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Decorating....

We decorated the tree this past weekend. I can't help thinking about another little someone who will be here next Christmas to help put the ornaments on the tree. What a whirwind that will be! Bella loves decorating....but doesn't understand that one branch can only support so many ornaments.




Elizabeth hanging her Reece's Rainbow Christmas Angel ornament "Bridget"...

The finished product.....


I love this time of year being together and celebrating Jesus' birthday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great News.....

After a VERY long week....Bella is finally on the mend. She had her tonsils and adenoids out a week ago last Monday. Being the tough little cookie she is, I just assumed she would bounce back no problem. Boy, was I wrong! I really had to force her to take pain meds and drink....she seemed to be in a lot of pain.....poor thing! And her breath....Oh My!!!!!!

I only left the house one time during last week, and that was to pick up Grace from school because she got sick. :(

But today we got great news! While Bella was under anesthesia, the local lab drew blood for a full screening. Today we got the results: Negative to everything......HIV, anemia, Celiac, leukemia, thyroid.....Yay!

And today, I know she is feeling better, because she ate a graham cracker and drank a whole glass of chocolate milk.

Praise God for a great report and that she is finally feeling a bit better!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You, Lu, for the Button!

Lu, a wonderful Reece's Rainbow volunteer from England, designed this beautiful button for our little Nathan.



Grab This!

Be sure to right click on the box below and then select all.




Thanks, Lu from Poppies Blooming, http://thepoppiesblog.co.uk ..... we love it!

Friday, November 26, 2010

OK, Let's Talk.....

Our Thanksgiving was a wonderful time of sharing, food, and fellowship. The highlight of the entire day was when we all sat down, after singing our grace, and were about to partake in our feast--

When all of a sudden, Grace with her little round face beaming in the candlelight, said "Ok, let's talk! Daddy?"

Translation: "Let's go around the table and share what we are thankful for...Daddy you go first!"

Grace knows how to get to the heart of the matter on all things and to focus on what is most important. Thank you God for giving us our Grace to shape us into the people you want to be!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grace's Response......

Just the other day, Elizabeth said to Grace "Guess what? You are going to have a little brother!"

Grace responded by clutching her stomach, doubling over, and saying "Ugh, A boy! I gonna be sick!"

Ha Ha Ha......She is already over it, but we thought her initial reaction was just so "Grace!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

We're on Our Way.....

Whew...the last few days have been busy with adoption stuff! Just this afternoon, we met with our Social Worker from Catholic Charities to begin the home study update. (Hi Lisa!) So, we are officially on our way....

How did we come to commit to precious Nathan? Well, this adoption journey started last spring when we fell in love with this little boy. We asked about Nathan, but knew it wasn't the right time to start. We both prayed that if he was meant to be in our family, then God would pave the way.

Then we found out that a family had committed to adopting him. We were a little sad for us, but so happy that Nathan had a forever family! I would continue to look at his little face on Reece's Rainbow over the last few months and pray for a safe journey home.

Fast forward to three weeks ago....Kevin and I were beginning to sense that God was calling us to adopt again. We were seriously considering another child, but did not have a sense of peace about it because their personality sounded too similar to Grace's--we knew that it would not be the best fit for the child and our family. While we were wrestling with the decision, we found out that little Nathan's family had to release him due to personal reasons. We took this as a sign from God and committed to him right away.

So, as we prayed last spring, God did intend for us to bring Nathan home to our family! It just wasn't the right time and now it is!!!!

God is good....all the time!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mama's Away....

As I write this I am about three hours from home. This is one of the very first nights I have ever been away, all by myself without Bella, since bringing her home from Ukraine.

I was recently hired as the new Parent Consultant for Family Voices North Dakota for the Minot region. I am going to LOVE this new position because I get to work with families who have a loved one with a disability. Basically, my job is to support families by facilitating connections, navigating the system, and helping them get the support they need.

What a blessing for me to do this....and I get to do it from my home--just 8 hours a week.

That said, I am currently at a staff and board retreat in Jamestown. It was a beautiful drive down yesterday in the late afternoon listening to my new Matthew West CD, (while scoping out the countryside for our lost Bobcat machine) and taking in all the beautiful wide, open spaces of North Dakota.

After getting settled in my hotel room. I went to Applebees and had dinner--by myself. Then, I walked around Wal-Mart and headed back to my room to go through a huge stack of magazines that I have accumulated over the last year.

This "me time" is nice, I think.....but I miss my family!!!!!

When I awoke this morning, this is the face that was in my email. Daddy took it on his phone after he put the little muffin to bed.....


Sigh...well, I am looking forward to meeting my new colleagues and board members today. I will be home tonight and get to put my babes to bed. Then, I will probably be thinking "wouldn't it be nice to have a night to myself?....."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Adoption Funny....

When my sister's five girls found out we were adopting again, they excitedly ran to the computer to see little Nathan's photo.




Then the youngest girl, Natasha, said "And look, he's only $20!"

Wow, wouldn't that be great? In actuality, the $20 she saw on the screen was the amount that was in his adoption fund.

After Karla, my sister, explained this, she said the little girls scrambled around their rooms to collect any money they had to give to Nathan's fund. Isn't that the sweetest?

Nathan will love his Texas cousins!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wow! What a Week......

We certainly had one exciting week in the Burckhard household!

Monday.....our Bobcat was stolen.

Tuesday.....Kevin's brother Randy won the state Senate seat for his district. Woo Hoo, Randy! So proud of you! Kevin's sister Bonnie from Renton, WA, flew in to surprise Randy for the election results party. It was so great to see her too!

Wednesday.....We announced our commitment to bring home a little boy named Nathan (which is just a "stage" name....I can't announce his real name until we bring him home) from an Eastern European country.

My head is spinning and, of course, my heart is soaring! Thank you to all our friends and family who have shown support through comments on our blog and on FB. It means the world to us that we have such a wonderful circle of support as we start this exciting journey once again.

I will share more later on how we came to committing to this precious child in my next post.

Thanks again & Love you all......Paula

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Happy Blog Post.....

After yesterday's sad blog post, we have a very happy one to report.

Just follow this link and scroll down a bit....

http://reecesrainbow.org/category/1newcommittments

A very happy post, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The SnowMen Have Dissolved.....

Sniff, Sniff....

You may remember last year when Kevin, my Dad, & Sam formed the "SnowMen" snow removal business.



We had a very sad thing happen yesterday....someone stole their Bobcat. We have put out a $500 reward for the safe return of it, but I am thinking it is long gone.

So, the SnowMen business is now "dissolved." Pun intended!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"BeeLax....."

Because Grace always says 'belax' for relax, we thought it appropriate that she and Bella go as "bees" again this year.

Grace, of course, is the queen bee and Bella is the worker bee. (TOTALLY fits their personalities!)


And then there is Daddy "beelaxin" mon.....


We went to a super fun Halloween party that the Character Counts high school students from Magic City Campus hosted for our Dream Catchers baseball team.

Painting/carving pumpkins...


A costume catwalk...(our girlies were voted two of the best dressed & won a $10 Wally world gift certificate)

Pizza, cookies, treats, bobbing for apples


We had a thriller of a time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Less

I loved this video I saw recently on a blog I follow called http://cornishadoptionjourney.blogspot.com

It so beautifully sums up adoption and why we do what we do....

One Less by Matthew West (The Story Behind The Song) from emicmg on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Putting Sissy's Hat into Action.....

Just two days....that's all Bella had to wait before she could put Sissy's hat (& matching scarf) into action. Bella has been wearing them inside the house in anticipation of the snow!

Here she is waiting for the bus in snow & hurricane-force winds.....



She loves it and is snug as a bug in a rug!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sissy's Hats.....

With the cooler weather moving into North Dakota this week, Sissy broke out her craft supplies and made two hats for her little sisters. She is going to make flowers to attach to them after she gets matching yarn. But, they are cute without them, so I thought I would share.....


(Note that Grace is STILL wearing her favorite 'orange' shirt!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bella Beaver....

MSU Beaver that is!

We took this picture for our alum's Connections magazine. They give t-shirts to new family additions and then welcome photos of the children for them to include in the magazine.

She makes a very cute MSU Beaver, don't you think? :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Perfect 10-10-10....

Right after church, we loaded the car and headed out to Rice Lake for the day. Yes, we did! I know, I know, how can this be for ND in October???!!! We even had major blizzard around this day just a few years ago.

Kevin said if this is global warming, then we'll take it! :) We had the best day ever....73 degrees, sunshine and no wind!

Our cabin (or cavin as Grace calls it) is nothing more than a trailer home--though a '71 "Champion"!

Our perfect day held all the typical summertime lake activities.

We bonded....


We boated.....

We tubed....


We fished....

We had a campfire....

And, s'mores too.....


From start to finish....

It was a glorious way to spend the perfect day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sissy's Reflections.....on Adoption!

I am so proud of my eldest Elizabeth! She was asked by her English teacher to write a piece for a weekly column in the Religion section of our local newspaper. The column is entitled "Reflections"....Here is what was printed in today's newspaper....

I have heard the analogy many times before that compares becoming a Christian to being adopted into a whole new family, but that parallel didn’t really click with me until this past year. A little angel named Bella is sound asleep in the room next to me, and this is because of adoption. She loves to sing and dance, watch football on TV, and drink chocolate milk with every meal. She gives out hugs to everyone she meets, and she “helps” me brush my hair in the morning. It’s hard to believe that she hasn’t been a part of our family forever.

The amazing fact is that specifically choosing Bella to adopt was almost random, as we only had a small picture and description of her. She could’ve gone to any other family in the world, or not have been adopted at all, and yet here she is, fitting in like a puzzle piece. She didn’t do anything to deserve a new life and all the perks that come with it.

In the same way, no Christian does anything to deserve an eternity in heaven with the Lord. We are like Bella, waiting in an orphanage and unaware that there’s anything better for us. But God, in His mercy, adopted us into His family. Jesus once said, “I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you.” (John 14:18, NLT) He spoke those words to his anxious disciples as a promise that even after He is physically gone, He will never leave them to be alone in the world, in the same way that He never leaves us.

The Bible says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” (Proverbs 3:27) Thus I also encourage you to evaluate if you can somehow help the orphans in the world, either through donations and financial support, adopting a child into your family, or just through continual prayer. Bella is a healthy and happy little girl, but many, many other children are suffering and going through their days barely conscious of their surroundings. They need to be cuddled and loved just like any child.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27) Jesus cares about all these little children…we should, too. A lady recently came up to me in church and said, “God must be so blessed to hear Bella when she sings along to the hymns.” Bella just gripped my hand and smiled up at me. The sounds of her unabashed singing are not only a blessing to Him; she has totally changed my life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Question for you.....Need Your Help!

As you may know, I am co-teaching a course at our local university called "Disability and Society."

This next class we will focus on how language impacts and reflects attitudes and actions. So, I thought I would ask you, blog readers, for your wisdom and input!

What would you tell a student about how language, such as "retard", "spaz", etc., affects you and your family or loved one?

I would love to share some actual quotes (w/o names) with the students. No right or wrong answers....just your opinions!

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Hair is Finally Long Enough.....


For PIGTAILS....(thanks, Sissy!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Bismarck Buddy Walk Rocks!

We had a fabulous day in Bismarck at the Designer Genes Annual Buddy Walk--all to raise awareness for Down syndrome!

Grandma & Grandpa with the Grand kids...


I 'Lub' You, Buddy!
Uncle Joe & Aunt Brenda are our Buddies too!
Walkin' for Team "Grace and Beauty"...
Thanks, Daddy, for being a Buddy Walk Sponsor!

Yay for "Team Becker Boys Battalion"....
Congrats to Steph Becker and family on the adoption of Isaiah from Ukraine! So fun to have another ND Reece's Rainbow Family!
Went to Papa's Pumpkin Patch after the Buddy Walk...Bella loves sliding!
Grace was a pro on the Zipline...
Our family together at last...
Driving back to Minot...a little Barney...a little Hershey....a little nappy!
Back home, bathed, and ready for beddy in our new matching jammies....

Thanks Designer Genes...you know how to host a rockin' Buddy Walk...can't wait till next year!