"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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thanks for the La La's, Kathy!

Grace & Bella both received a beautiful collectible doll (Bella calls them la la's) from a dear friend of mine from college. Kathy and I were close friends when we both we attending UND in Grand Forks. So, it was so fun, through the magic of the internet, :) to connect with her again.

When she found out about our two special muffins, she wanted to know if she could share two of her dollies with them. You see, Kathy is a wonderful mom to BOYS.

Thank you so much, dear friend, for sharing your dolls with my little dollies. They love them!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grace Loves Baseball.....Players!

Tonight was a big night for Miss Grace.

The Minot State University Baseball Team had their annual DreamCatchers Baseball night.

DreamCatchers is our local baseball team for kids with disabilities. DreamCatchers is Grace's thing! And, tonight they got to play with the MSU players at the Dome.

When we brought her into the dome, she looked and saw all the young baseball players waiting to be chosen to be a buddy and looked up at me, gave me the thumbs up and said "AWESOME!" She loves those cute boys, that's for sure!

Here's Grace with her chosen buddy, Paul:

In the outfield with the MSU players and her friend Joel:

Grace and her bestest friend (& future husband) Conner:

Hangin' with da boys:

Getting a MSU jersey signed by the players:

Modeling her new autographed jersey:

And again...

With the lady who started it all....Michelle Bliven:

Thanks MSU players, they had a "ball"!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Home Six Months....

Can you believe it? Bella has been home with us, her forever family (which includes Grandma pictured below), for 6 months! Her adoption has impacted our family so much. Perhaps the person most influenced is none other than her big sister Grace.

Grace's teachers confessed to me last fall that they were worried for Grace when they heard that we were adopting another little girl with Down syndrome. They felt she would probably regress and that her behaviors in school would deteriorate. But guess what? It has been the exact opposite! She has blossomed in her role as a big sister and is having her best school year ever! Isn't that wonderful?

And, a funny little story to share....Grandma said the other day that when she was just leaving our house after a visit that she heard Grace say "Nyet, Bella Bogdana, Nyet, Paka Babushka!" Too funny....Bella has dropped all her Russian/Ukrainian and Grace has picked it up, so much so that one whole phrase was in a foreign language. Does this make Grace bi-lingual? :)

But, we are still amazed at how wonderully Bella is doing in her transition to American family life.

Let's just say she's a keeper!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Papa & Bella's Party...

Today is Papa's 46th Birthday--the big party is over and fun was had by all. Here are a few candid shots of the big bash....

Happy Birthday Papa & Bella!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bella's Birthday Bash...

Bella had a big birthday bash at preschool yesterday. I just had to share this picture her teacher sent home which so vividly captures her joy!

Tomorrow is Papa's birthday, so we are having the family party in the evening with presents, chocolate cake, candles, the whole works--Can't wait to see her face then!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bella!

Happy Birthday, Bella! Today is our little girl's 5th birthday. We are so excited to celebrate this day with her!

I remember last year on her birthday--I felt so sad that we weren't able to be with her on this special day.

What a difference a year can make!

Kevin said this morning, "It seems just like yesterday when we brought her home. Oh, wait, we did just bring her home..." Ha Ha, Papa, you are so funny!

So, this is our Ukrainian princess's 1st birthday, although it's her 5th, at home surrounded by a Mama, Papa, a brother, and two sisters who love her more than she will ever know...

Happy Birthday, Bella!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A New Play Room....Thanks to GRANDPA!

The girls are so excited (well maybe not Elizabeth ) for their new play room! Here they are playing doctor with their Papa (not pictured). This wonderful little space was completed under the basement stairs by none other than our amazing handyman...Grandpa!

Grace & Bella say...

"Grandpa, Thanks for our new play room! We love it and you!"

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bella's First Valentine....

Bella's first valentine from her Mama & Papa...we gave each of the kids a box of Reece's PB Cups and a book.

The other three wouldn't let me take their picture so early in the morning. As you can see, Bella doesn't mind one bit!

And, Happy Valentine's Day to you too--our friends and family!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Connecting the Rainbow Beyond Play Fundraiser...Act Now!

Hi All!

Excited to announce that Reece's Rainbow Connecting the Rainbow is holding its first fundraiser to help families in Eastern European countries raise their children with Down syndrome instead of placing them in orphanages.

How can you help? By buying a few toys or therapy tools....either for them or for your own child! See here:


Connecting the Rainbow will receive 15% of all purchases OR you can buy items from Beyond Play and have them shipped to our contact person to be delivered to Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia, and/or Russia!

Just think, your small purchase can mean that a child with Down syndrome could be raised by their own family! The support we provide WILL help make that happen! Please join me in this VERY worthwhile cause! All the proceeds will go to help the families and their children.

It's a win-win situation! Love, Paula

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sam's A Champion!

Way to go, Sam! He was the 6th Grade Spelling Bee Champion. He went to the spell down and then tied for third! We are so proud of him...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Connecting the Rainbow...

If you look to right on my side bar, you will see a new graphic for a brand-new Reece's Rainbow program called Connecting the Rainbow!

This exciting new program's main goal is to support and help parents in Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia who have chosen to keep their child with Down syndrome home and raise them in their own family. Isn't this awesome!!!!

To find out more details, please click on the graphic to the right. AND, you can be big part of the process, too, by either donating financial support, toys, and therapy tools listed under the "wish list" section.

Also, I wanted to share that I am going to be the Parent Liaison for the Ukraine part of the program. I am so excited for this opportunity.

Take a peek at the website....as is stated there, the MAIN goal is that the services of Reece's Rainbow and adoptions of children with Ds will no longer be needed in these Eastern European countries. Please join us in helping take the steps to make that happen!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Update....All But One Have Forever Families!

Last July we posted pictures of several little children waiting for their forever families:


I am so happy to report that all but one have been adopted or will be in the upcoming months. Who is still waiting? Little Zhora.....Please pray that someone commits to him soon!

It's our hope that one day we can meet these families and have a sort of reunion for the children. Wouldn't that be something?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Blubber, I mean Rubber, Meets the Road....

I just returned from a very humbling episode....a fitness evaluation at our local YMCA. Let's just say that the only area I am average in is the ab crunches! The eval was the first step in the Y's Fitness for Life program.

The fitness expert then helped me set three goals with a re-evaluation to be completed in 12 weeks. I am doing this to get healthy so that hopefully I will be around to take care of my four children.

Well, this is where the "blubber" meets the road!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Who Needs the Grammys When You have This....


One Down....Eleven to Go....

Well, I made it through month one of buying no new clothes for myself! Not one single thing!

But why is it when you restrict something, you then notice it everywhere! Temptation lurks in the most unsuspecting of places....Did you know there are clothes everywhere--even at your local gas station! (albeit not the most fashionable pieces) but nonetheless clothing... :)

Oh well, I will continue on my self-imposed challenge to not buy anything new. But it is oh, so hard!

On to month two.... :)