"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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Thank You" Post

Whew! What a wild couple of weeks we've had! Finally, the dossier is at About A Child and almost ready to be shipped to Bella's country! Next week is a holiday week in her country, so most likely nothing will happen with our dossier until the following week.

In the meantime, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to:
Our Family & Friends......for your support and prayers

Our Church......Trinity Evangelical Free Church and our small group for keeping us in their prayers

Those who've generously given to our adoption fund: Stephanie, Michelle & Clint, Ron, Bonnie, Cathy, Lucille, Jen, Lila

About A Child....Amanda (& Victoria) are beyond wonderful, helpful, & patient with my endless emails and questions!

Reece's Rainbow....Andrea & Meredith who demonstrate God's love by sacrificially helping families bring their adopted child(ren) home

The wonderful people on Reece's Rainbow Yahoo groups...for encouragement, support and many laughs (espcially during our Yuku chats)

Catholic Charities of ND....Lisa for expertly & efficiently writing our Home Study

Our wonderful notary.....Jean Ternes

Kevin's Assistant....Shannon for copying, faxing, and preparing FedEx envelopes for me

ND Secretary of State....Char who was so helpful in reviewing our notaries and getting our documents apostilled

Our St. Paul Field Office & Senator Conrad's Office....for expediting our adoption approval

Our Loving Father....who has called us to this adoption and will see us through to the end!

We couldn't have made it this far without the wonderful people God has used throughout this process. We have seen His hand in many miraculous ways and has often used you, His People, to accomplish His purposes.

So, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts....The Burckhards

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Infamous I-171-H

Yay! That elusive little form - the I-171-H - came in the mail yesterday! This is the last document needed to be able to send our dossier over to Bella's country!

We are so excited because this means that we will hopefully be able to meet her in June! Please pray that all will go quickly and smoothly!

Thanks for all your support & encouragement!

God Bless....Paula

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Happy Birthday to our Grace, who turns 9 today!


She got her ears pierced yesterday (see post below.) We were planning to have her family party tonight, but Kevin is sick so it was postponed. We still had a small party with Totino Pizza Rolls, (to stay on our pantry challenge....Ha Ha) and a chocolate cake that Sam made for his sister.

Here are some shots of our Birthday Girl....









Grace had a great birthday! As long as there are candles and chocolate frosting, all is set for a grand party! Her favorite present was the V-Tech children's camera. She a had a blast taking pictures like the big kids and her mama!

Happy Birthday, Grace!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Grace Gets Earrings!

Grace got her ears pierced today! She did so great--didn't even cry! Of course, I used her elma cream that her nurse gave us to numb areas before she has labs. So, I think that took some of the edge off. The whole family went with her to provide moral support.

She asked to get earrings two months ago. Daddy said she had to wait until her birthday which is tomorrow! When we told her that her birthday is Sunday, she said, "Earrings!" She has a remarkable memory!

Sam recorded the whole event, I took pictures, Sissy made sure the placement was right, and Daddy couldn't watch. We are so proud of her--here she is....

Before......


The "prep".....


The piercing...


After....


Her earring...


"Hey, we match!" Grace says to her sister, Elizabeth....


Grace never ceases to amaze and surprise us--Way to go, Grace!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Day......We're Approved!

Yay! We received word that our application is approved--we should be getting the approval form I-171-H in 2-3 days!

Why are we so excited about this news, you ask? Well, it means that we can send our dossier to be submitted, translated, and then be invited over to Bella's country to start the adoption proceedings. We hope to travel at the beginning of June!

We are very happy with this news, but at the same time, a little scared! The month of May will be very busy raising the rest of the funds needed, getting the house ready, making child arrangements, and on and on.......

Doesn't this sound similar to being pregnant? Guess I'm in the ninth month now.....

Love, Paula

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pantry Challenge Fundraiser....

Today I posted the following on my Reece's Rainbow yahoo group:

OK, I am starting my “pantry challenge” tomorrow. Here are my own ground rules:

1)For next two weeks, use only what is in pantry and freezer to make meals. Will take inventory and make a menu plan.

2)I may buy fresh produce and milk as needed.

3)Use sites, especially from depression era, to make basic meals and get ideas.

4)I typically spend $150 a week—so my goal is to save $300 in two weeks.

5)I will deduct the amount directly from my checkbook when I would have gone shopping and transfer it to my adoption account.

6)Added bonus – if I am about to buy “anything” else during this two week period, I will deduct that amount I would have spent from my checkbook too. Only essential items will be permitted such as medicine, toilet paper, Kleenex, etc.

I am posting it on my blog too so I can be accountable to you, my friends and family. I'll post my results in two weeks!

Depression Era motto: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thankful for "Boring" Day!

Today I have nothing on the schedule-Nada,zip,zero! This is the first time in quite a while that my schedule is clear. I thought a stay-at-home mom was supposed to stay at home? Somewhere along the line, things got a little off track for me, I suppose.

Oh well, today I have nothing! Yay! I am just going to putter around the house, throw some of Kevin's old magazines, newspapers, and other things he may not notice, (stealth purging, I call it), go for a walk, do a crosswords, make supper--doesn't this sound lovely?

I am also happy to share that we got great news on medical issues for Grace and my mom yesterday. Praise God! Grace doesn't have to see her pediatric cardiologist for another four or five years. Her recent echo showed that the pressures in her chambers have stabilized. And, my mom, who has been struggling with some medical issues, got good news as well.

So I am going to enjoy my "boring" day today--with a thankful heart!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mama Loves Her Little.......Bella

When I had my first-born 15 years ago, I made up a little song to sing to her while I rocked her at night....(to the tune of 'Jesus Loves the Little Children')

"Mama loves her little Lizbeth,
cutest little Lizbeth in the world...
She is cute and sweet and smart
And so dear to Mama's heart.
Mama loves the cutest Lizbeth in the world..."

I have sung this song a million times to all three children with their names (Sam, Grace..) inserted in the appropriate spot. Yes, it was very off-tune--but, nonetheless, it was our song. I'm sure I am not the only Mom who has done this--even my Mom shared that she has a special song she made up for Grace to the tune of "Showers of Blessings!"

Yesterday, I found myself humming the song and I inserted "Bella's" name in it. My heart was full when I thought of the blessing I will receive to be able to sing my special ditty to one more little Burckhard. What a precious gift that will be!

Friday, April 17, 2009

While I Wait....

I found out through email contact with the nice man at USCIS that we will receive our I-171-H in 45-60 days. Sigh.... Hopefully that is just a pat answer he gives everyone. Praying that it comes faster than that! Will you pray too?

At least the last few months of school go very quickly, what with all the activities, programs, and such. However, I am really going to focus on getting our house in order! Watch out, Kevin, I'm going to do some serious purging!

The other major goal is to get stronger and healthier. I want to do this mostly so that I can be up for the rigors of travel and for bringing Bella home. So, I am eating better, walking, and lifting weights.

And, of course, we are saving up our pennies to be able to have the funds to complete the adoption without having to take out a loan. We found out recently that the 9th grade class at Our Redeemer's (Elizabeth's class) is holding a month-long fundraiser for Bella. They are asking the whole school to bring in their change for one month--their goal is $500. If the school makes that goal, they will each get an ice cream treat. I am so blown away that these 15 year-olds have taken this on to help a fellow student's family!

I have a lot to do while I wait. But, it still is hard....

Love, Paula

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grace Loves Her Necklaces!

Yes, Grace LOVES necklaces, you know the beaded, shiny kind....

She has many of these and has come up with her own little games with them. She sorts them into piles by color, flings them one by one into her toy chest, or just dangles them and slowly lets them fall into a heap. All the while she's doing this, she is talking or singing to herself. (by the way, in this picture, she is wearing her brother Sam's denim dress shirt. He was not pleased!. ha ha)

She has never been one to play with toys, but necklaces--that's another story! In fact, she got 36 strands (all of them came in a mesh bag from Target) for Easter. She shrieked with joy when she found them during her Easter egg hunt. She shouted, "Necklaces!" and ran off to play leaving her basket of eggs with candy behind. Grace definitely LOVES her necklaces!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

True Game Spirit....

Kevin, my hubby, volunteers as the Commissioner for our community's Church Basketball League. Last night, he made an executive decision and called off the games in order for the players to help out our community and rural areas in fighting the current floods.

The teams responded in such a positive manner! In true spirit of teamwork, they showed up at the local sandbagging volunteer sites and went to work: filling, tying, lifting sandbags to help our their fellow neighbors.

This is the true spirit of the game--teamwork with a purpose.....

Here's Jessica, Natalie, and Elizabeth-

Here's a team hard at work-

And here's Kevin's best bud Clint and friend doing their part--

Thanks to everyone who went out to help. Please pray for the families in our area that are being affected by the floods!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Meet.....Randy & Pat

Hello! Today meet Randy & Pat! Here they are at an International Military Ball held between the community and the Minot Air Force Base. Randy calls it "Adult Prom!"


Randy is Kevin's "older, shorter" brother. Ha Ha...that is the running joke between the two, but I'm sure Randy would beg to differ!

We have always admired and looked up to both of them--first because they're great people and, second, because they are two of the best parents we have ever met. Their children, now grown, are strong in character and successful in life. Jerica (a nurse), married to Lance, has two boys--Casey & Brady; Tifany (a chiropractor), married to Brock, has two children--Kayleigh and Maddux; Their youngest Jason (orthodontist) is engaged to Andrea--wedding this August 29th.

Randy and Pat are well-known and respected in the community. Randy is a public relations director with SRT Communications and Pat is a 5th grade teacher. Both are extremely active in their church and volunteering in the community.

We are so thankful that we live close to them and that they have been a part of our children's lives. They are also very supportive of our adoption and look forward to having a new niece named Bella! She will love her "Uncle Duck" and her Aunt Pat!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grace's Egg Hunt Party


Last Saturday, Grace invited four friends for an Easter egg hunt our friend Carol hosted at her Dacotah Rose Bed & Breakfast. This home is so beautiful, so it was very gracious of Carol to let these little skeegers run all over her three-story bed & breakfast. They had a blast!

Pictured above are the Easter-egg huntin' buddies: Top row - Grace, Grace R. Conner
Bottom row - ReAnne and Ryleigh

AND here's Conner (we have pre-arranged Grace & Conner's marriage....only slightly kidding....)


Thanks again, Carol!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter!

Happy Easter! Today was a festive day celebrating Jesus' Resurrection. We attended church with Grandma and Grandpa and then came over to our house for an Easter egg hunt.

Here's our little family....

Here's Grandma & Grandpa with the kids (& Jake)....

After the morning activities, we got everything ready for company coming over later in the day. Then Grace & I took a little rest! Ahh....

Later, family and friends came over for a fun supper & conversation. Joe, my brother, is a techno whiz with the bank of ND. So, he got Grandma and a few others of us to sign up for a facebook account. Too funny! Grandma is now a "hip granny"!

Sam and his "Grams"


Gram and Sam and Liz...

Kevin and his plate..


What a great day! On this special day, we are reminded that it's not the candy--but Jesus that makes life so sweet!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Grandma's Cabbage Patch Babies

After yesterday's post, Grandma brought over the whole set of her Cabbage Patch Pictures of her grandkids. Here they are from oldest to youngest:

Alex......


Elizabeth.....


Kassie......


Sam......


Grace.....


Julianna.....


Victoria.....


Natasha.....


And yet to be added, BELLA......

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Memory Lane......

While we are waiting for approval from immigration, I thought I would post one of my favorite photos of Grace when she was a baby.
The story behind the picture is that Grandma has all these Cabbage Patch Dolls in a crib that was hers when she was little. So, when she had her first grandchild, Grandma propped Alex up in the middle of the dolls and snapped a picture. Ever since, Grandma has taken this same shot with each of her 8 grandkids.

Can't wait to prop up little Bella for her own Cabbage Patch photo session! We'll post it in a few months!!!!!! Yay!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adoption Update!

Waiting, Part II ensues.....We were able to FedEx our home study and the ND required documents to USCIS yesterday! Yay....now we wait for the infamous I-171-H which gives us approval to adopt. I have no idea how long this will take for that to come. So, in the mean time, we wait.

Today, Kevin and I are meeting with our wonderful notary, Jean, to get all the other documents notarized so we will be ready to go when that form comes.

Other than that, we have everything done that we can do. So, it's back to waiting and waiting and wai.............

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blogdonna returns.....

Kevin, my hubby, wants "Blogdonna" back. That's his nickname for me. He was disappointed that I went on a "sabbatical" and asked this morning when "Blogdonna" was returning? Ha Ha! He said he missed being able to read about his own family while he was at the office.

So here's to you, "soul man" (inside joke, ask me some time!).... A good friend from church, Mandi Carroll http://www.mandicarroll.com/, took all of these wonderful pictures.....

This is Grace and Kevin (isn't he handsome?) at one of her dance performances at the auditorium.


Here's Grace performing at half-time with Just For Kix at the Class B regional boys BB tournament.....


Here's Grace's wonderful dance teacher Shannon with the dancers....


Just for Kix dancers delight audience!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sabbatical.....Check back soon.....

Hi All!

Thank you so much to everyone who is reading along. We really appreciate the support and encouragement shown to our family.

For the next couple of days, I am taking a self-imposed sabbatical from everything adoption-related, including this blog. I need a little break.....I'll be back soon!

Thank you for your continued prayers! Love, Paula

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Waiting on Others.....Resting in Him

As we started our adoption journey, I would hear over and over again how the hardest part will be the waiting. We have found out that this is so true!

Honestly, I don't mind the filling out the paperwork--the grant writer in me, I suppose--but I DO mind the waiting: waiting for the appointments, waiting for the Home Study, waiting for approvals, waiting on others to do their part. If I were in control, our dossier would have been submitted, and we would be on our way to bring Bella home.

But, guess what? I am not in control, AND others are not in control--God is! What peace comes to my soul when I stop and remember that comforting fact! God IS in control, not me, not my social worker, not the state, not USCIS.... Therefore, I can rest in Him knowing that His timing is perfect and His ways are not my own. Ahh...Resting in Him. What comfort!

When times are trying, I meditate on this--my very favorite Bible verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Scientific Sam and Experimental Elizabeth!

Here they are (Grace HAD to get in the picture too).....
Yesterday, Sam (5th grade) and Elizabeth (9th grade) participated in the school science fair. Both of them placed 2nd in their class! Sam's project was which lightbulb generates more heat: incandescent or fluorescent? Elizabeth did hers on whether boys or girls multi-task better.