Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A really strong message about dying and living!!!

This is a video clip about Tony Groves, a man who passed away this past year. He gives a beautiful account of how Jesus is everything. He was a member at Harvest Bible Chapel. Check it out. The video on the next post is his wife later in the year

A message of peace and trust in the Lord from Harvest Bible Chapel

Advent - Peace from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.
Here's a video from Harvest Bible Chapel about the Christmas Season. Michelle, the woman in the video, just lost her husband Tony. She talks about how the Lord gave her peace through it all. Check it out, it is really touching.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Elijah's Adoption is Finally Complete!

"...and it is so."
The judge and Elijah swung the gavel and his adoption was complete on Tuesday, December 16th. We couldn't be more excited to have all the paperwork wrapped up and behind us. Elijah was always "ours" on a federal level, this court appointment makes it possible to obtain a state of WI birth certificate for Elijah with our names as birth parents on it. How exciting! This process has taken a lot longer than it normal. We will use a different local agency (NOT America World, they were wonderful!!) for our next adoption. However, that won't be for another year or so. :) We're enjoying every minute with Elijah, even as we approach the "trying twos".

These days, Elijah is testing every boarder physically and verbally. Discipline has been dealt out with tears in our eyes (mine and David's), clinging to the promise to "Train up a child in the way he should go... he will not depart from it" Proverbs 22:3. I am really enjoying the encouragement from the Entrusted with a Child's Heart class I'm taking through church. What a blessing to be with other moms each week as we strive to be Godly parents.

Elijah is mostly a wonderful little guy. Some of the fun things he has said and done are mostly in the car. David and I will either be deep in thought or in light conversation when we hear coming from behind us "ELIJAAAAH!!" slight pause then "ELIJAAAAH DUUUUUDAAAAAAA!" Followed by "Dixie Duda", "Daddy Duda", "Mommy Duda". Or while holding on to his Pooh bear, we'll randomly hear him yell "NNNOOOOO! NNOOOOO Pooh, no bite me!!" Where does he get this stuff?? I have no idea. Pooh is then given a talking to with discipline. Oh my goodness.... what else will this little man come up with?

Christmas was wonderful. Elijah slept in (our gift) until 8A! That is short of a miracle for him. Then we gave him our gifts. Each year, we decided to give him (and children to come) three gifts on Christmas morning from us. This year, Elijah received a magna-doodle, a movie and a guitar (just like daddy's). Each were a hit! He's already done a few rounds of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, his ABC's, and I'm pretty sure he's catching on to the tune of Jesus Loves Me. He also will randomly sing Hallelujah. I still can't decide which song he's singing. :)

We are praising God for Jamie's surgery (David's sister) going well earlier in the week and that she is already home! We're looking forward to having Jude this weekend, to give Jamie some much needed rest.

We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas. I pray each and everyone of you had a blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DisneyWorld was a BLAST!!!

Well, we are back from our family trip to Walt Disney World. It was so much fun to go with our little guy to the House of Mouse. He got so much more than Amanda or I thought he would. I know he probably won't remember it, but Amanda and I will. He is obsessed with telling us how naughty pirate are. Also, he's still mad that at Donald Duck for stealing Mickey's Hat in "Mickey's Philharmagic" attraction at the Magic Kingdom. We rode lots of kiddie rides and had a blast. And the most amazing thing was that I rode the tea cups with my son. I said I would never ride them. But you do crazy things for the ones you love. It was a great trip and we can't wait to, Lord willing, take him when he gets older. As with every family trip, it always has to come to an end. Back to the snow and cold of Wisconsin in winter. Praise God for the blessing of being able to go in the first-place.
So this is Elijah after telling Donald he was naughty for stealing Mickey's hat. Of course then Donald got a hug and kiss afterwards.
Here's Elijah hanging out with his buddy Mickey Mouse. Took three times for them to be really cool together. Elijah loves Mickey now.
These are a couple of ladies Elijah met in Animal Kingdom who are from South Africa. He seems to be a real ladie's man. Elijah was playing instruments and dancing with them for a LONG time...
Here are Peter and Bryony, our cousins from England. We got to hang out at Epcot one night together. Elijah had a great time walking around with them. Wish we could see them more often.
Here's Elijah and Daddy enjoying one of our many slushes together from the trip.
Mommy and Elijah riding the carousel together. He LOVES the carousel
Elijah after witnessing Donald steal the "hat" from Mickey. He seems to like the Donald merchandise though, hey?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall Festivities!

We had so much fun at our Fall Fest at church as well as a fun family day together. Here are a few updated photos of our (not so little) boy!

We finally received our paperwork needed from our social worker to request a court date to finalize Elijah's adoption with the state of WI. I am so excited to be doing that today and hope we can get a court date quickly!

Well, it's one week from today and we are on our way to Disney World!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A day with Mommy at the Zoo

Here's Elijah with his Mom at the Zoo. This kid LOVES carousels. Can't wait to see him in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom on one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Daddy's thoughts in the last year....

Well, I am about a month and a half late on getting this out, but here's some things that a daddy has been reflecting on. I must admit that even though there have been trials in the past year, the one thing that has been a total joy from the Lord has been becoming a Dad. I don't think I ever truly realized how much I wanted to be a Daddy to a little one. From the moment Amanda and I received the picture, I have been just so joyful over being a Dad. We have been greatly blessed in having a child who is funny, goofy, silly, and completely a joy to be around. Have we had temper tantrums, not listening, etc., sure. But even those things are great as Elijah is learning to do those things less and less.

So here are the precious things about being a Daddy in no particular order(just a few, or I'd put pages up here).
1. Coming home from work to chants of Daddy, Daddy!!!
2. Group hugs with Mommy, Daddy, and Elijah and all of us giggling.
3. Alone time with my Elijah and realizing that until he can recognize who Christ is, I am to represent a Christ to him.
4. Going to the zoo and doing whatever Elijah wants. Even if every thing he likes the most costs extra money (carousel, zoo train, etc...)
5. Elijah snuggling on my chest and then lifting his head and we both get the hysterical giggles for about 10 minutes before bed. (Ask Amanda, it happens all the time)
6. Elijah praying with Amanda and I with his hands clasped, head down and a loud AMEN!!! at the end.
7. Elijah playing with all of his cousins and just loving other children.
8. Elijah bringing smiles and joy to people no matter where we go. We have met 100's of extra people since we brought him home. He seems to start conversations with everybody he meets.
9. Going in his room in the morning and hearing "HI, HI Daddy".
10. His ever and ongoing friendship with our dog Dixie. They are a couple of rascals together. He's always trying to sneak her food.
11. Elijah's love for his grandparents. He loves his Mimi, Papa, Grandma, and Grandpa. I pray that he is close with them always, as I was with my grandparents, whom I still miss terribly.
12. Elijah, Amanda and I just hanging out anywhere. Doesn't matter where, it's just fun to go as a family. Praise Jesus Christ for this family.
13. Elijah's soft-side, he gives everyone Jesus hugs and kisses. And many of you know what it means when Elijah is told to "be a gentleman". A kiss of the hand like a princess deserves.
14. Running around the backyard discovering the world with him. You forget all the simple joys of this life as rocks, bark, bugs, and flowers.
15. Just teaching him to read his Bible at an early age. I can't wait till he gets it, even though I don't want him to grow up too fast.

Needless, to say I could write 100 more things, but I have been just blown-away by what a great blessing being a parent is. I don't care how tired and crabby I am, I will always try to be a Christ-like figure to my son and wife. They bring me joy second only to the one who saved my soul, Jesus Christ my King and Savior.

Colossians 3:17 is my life verse:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Thank you Jesus

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Placed in Our Arms One Year Ago

Everyone says how quickly time goes the older you get but I had no idea...

Just this morning I was thinking about where David and I were in our lives. I can't believe how much has changed. We met Elijah Abraham one year ago (yesterday) and was given to us (Gotcha Day) one year ago tomorrow. Is it weird that I still am not used to being a "MOM"? I mean, I know I am, and I love being a mom, but... I, me, am really a MOM? Some of the things David and I didn't expect as we became parents were: our early concerns about school (he's not even two yet!), the fact that our house will always be messy :) (that was more me, David couldn't care less), how much you can put yourself last on a priority list, the weird and now healthy foods you'll eat - just so your kid will eat them too, but mostly how much love we have for this little boy. Every day I love him more and more and every day I can't imagine being able to love him any more than I already do. I love it when I have to rock him to sleep. I love it when he gets up at night (I know... weird, right?) and I can calm him down and he feels safe with us. Let me also just say, to those of you who think I'm crazy, we didn't have any attachment issues or problems with Elijah adjusting to us. I told David we shouldn't have any more kids because the next one(s) will be a terror! :)
So everyone has been asking... when will we go back? Well, we're not sure. Although we have been talking about our second adoption since we picked up Elijah, we're still not ready to jump just yet. We're in the process of finalizing Elijah's adoption in the state of WI so that we can be issued a birth certificate from WI. We had our last post placement report with our social worker a few weeks ago and she believes we'll have our court appointment by October. In each state, there are different time lines you have. In WI, you have to wait until at least your second post placement report is done (six months after you're home) in order to even apply for a WI birth certificate. Our friends, the Cavitt's (in TX) were able to do this within a few months of being home with Abby. So we're just finishing all that up. We have a birth certificate from Ethiopia with our names on it and Elijah does "belong" to us, this process is so that when Elijah wants to go to work or get his drivers license, he won't have to jump through hoops and have problems with an Ethiopia birth certificate. Anyway, all that to say... we're just not ready yet.
David continues to take his classes from Moody Bible Institute through the mail. I am so proud of him, he has Aced every class he's taken and is doing so well with his school work. He also has taken a leadership role with the youth group at church. Harvest Bible Chapel-Milwaukee launched it's first service one year ago this month. David has taught the youth group form four kids now up to fifteen (and doing a great job of it).
I left my job with Towne in April and felt God calling me to be our Pastor's Assistant. The position is about one mile from our home, great hours, great flexibility and a great boss! I am able to now be home with Elijah on Monday's and have a few hours to myself on Friday afternoons. I love working at the church. I always tell David, it doesn't feel like I'm working but just able to help out more now. There's a lot of work to juggle, many new things I've never done before and lot's of humbling and growing I've done since I've started in April.
Elijah has been growing by leaps and bounds. I love watching his new mile stones each and every week it seems. He loves to sing, dance and make music. His favorite thing to do at the park is the swing. He doesn't watch a lot of TV so he doesn't really get into any characters. I have been getting the Backyardagains DVD's from the library and he likes the music on that. He loves the Muppets (go figure!). He loves his cousins and being able to see them as much as possible. He loves his dog, Dixie and will even say her name now once we're about two blocks away from home in the car. He is such an easy going kid. Some of the things he doesn't like are getting changed (clothes or a diaper), going to bed (what kid does?), hearing the word "no" and his time-outs. When we tell him to jump, he bends down, takes a deep breath and extends his legs as high and as hard as he can go. His toes never leave the ground. :) One day he will though. Until then, we laugh and laugh as he tries so hard, then claps for himself. No wonder I love this boy so much :)

The three of us love to go to the zoo, the park, out to eat or just for a walk. Elijah always grabs both of our hands and insists on us lifting him up every few feet as he yells "FFFRRRRREEEEEEEE!!!!!", as in one, two, three and then a lift up for him.

What a joy he is... For now, our family is complete!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Finally an update

So we have the cutest kid in the world right? That is what everybody probably thinks about their children. Elijah has been the biggest blessing to Amanda and I. We have had one heck of a summer with our little guy. On July 17th, we had our one year anniversary of when we received our referral of our little guy. What a great reminder of how much Jesus Christ has done for the Duda family. The Lord continues to bless Amanda's position at the church. She is such a hard worker. And He is keeping me busy here at the city with all of our construction jobs just getting started up this week.

Elijah was just at the Dr. and he's in the 95-100% in height for his age. And about 55-60% for weight. So he's starting to get really tall and skinny. Though he does eat a ton most meals. I could use some of that metabolism myself. Elijah is saying about 30 words total. Most of it isn't really easy to decipher unless you are with him a lot. He is also throwing many tantrums when he doesn't get his way. Oh yay, Genesis 3 (man sinning and thereafter being born in it) has finally reached our son full blast. We are just praying that this season doesn't last too long. Also, he is getting his 2 year molars in as well.

He has taken an interest to sitting on the toilet, so that is really cool. How cool would it be to have a poddy-trained 1 year old? We'll see if his muscles have caught up to it yet. I think Amanda and I are going to get him a seat this week. Well here's some pics from the early summer. I'll try to get some videos of him being silly as that happens almost every day. Talk to ya soon

Elijah and his cousin Gavin in their Cadillac Escalade at Mimi's house

Elijah and his daddy learning to Hulahoop at the Milwaukee Zoo

Nice face, this is Elijah at Grandma and Grandpas

Elijah with his new cousin Polly. Grandma and Grandpa got a new puppy Pollyanna Bridget Duda. She is such a cute little dog. Elijah keeps calling her Dixie, as that is our dog's name.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some new pics of Elijah going swimming

Well, not a ton has been happening to the Duda family the last couple of weeks. We had been pretty much getting the plague about once a week between the three of us. Last weekend we decided to head down to Schaumburg, IL to go to Harvest Bible Chapel (where we had attended church for three years) and to stay overnight and go swimming. Elijah LOVES the water. This kid is just crazy about swimming and splashing as you probably can see in the pictures. He just giggled the whole time.

We are just all ready for some nice warm 50 degree days with some sun to dry everything out. Can't wait to plant our flowers, cut some grass (the first time or two at least) and just go for a nice walk. This has been about as long of a winter as we've had since I've been older in Wisconsin. We are at almost 90 inches of snow in this year. And we always get another snow in March and April.
Here's the pics

This kid was splashing chlorine in Daddy's face all morning

Elijah being cute in the water

Mamma and Elijah hanging out in the pool right before splashing Daddy

Okay, a total miscellaneous pic of Elijah with a lightsaber. This kid gets weird with a lightsaber, hopefully not the darkside taking over. He gets super whiny and cries forever if you take away the lightsaber. Luckily he only gets to see it when he's at his cousin Gavin's house.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A cute picture from Elijah's birthday

Here's a picture of Mommy and son on his first b-day...

Okay, some wisdom we had to learn the hard way

Well, we learned something the hard way the last couple of weeks. As many of you know, adoption isn't a cheap thing. We had to put some of the adoption on credit as we didn't have that much cash in-house. So we were super-excited to be able to file our tax return and pay most of that off. We talked to the person that is helping us prepare out taxes. I usually do them, but with the adoption I'd rather have someone help me with them. Our tax preparer asked for Elijah's social security #, ATIN# or ITIN # which is needed to claim the Adoption Tax Credit. Oops....Brutal, Amanda and I both completely forgot to get his SS# after we received Elijah's permanent residence card. So I went last week to the social security office and filed for his new SS#. Needless to say this will push back the tax return at least a month if not more. We found all the info on a packet we had received from our agency. With all the paperwork we had, it just got buried and we never read it. So, don't forget to file for a SS# after you get the permanent residence card.

Also something funny, when we were in Ethiopia, they gave Elijah the name Abereham David Duda as his name on some of the documents. The permanent residence card we have from the federal gov't has the same name on it. So that is how he will be filed until we complete re-adoption here in Wisconsin when we can change his name to what we use.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Elijah discovering our video camera for the first time...

Well, Elijah was being silly on this riding fire engine thing he has. He was making goofy noises and whooping it up. Soon as I got the video camera it all stopped, as he decided to watch Daddy videoing him. I turned the view screen towards him so he could see himself...check it out...

Elijah bowling with Harvest Bible Chapel Milwaukee Dec. 29, 2007

So Elijah came with on our bowling outing with our church on Dec. 29th 2007. He was getting pretty bored, so we got a nice 8lb ball and let him rip. We were both pretty excited as he knocked down a pin.

What a cheeser

His first time with a bowling ball, wish we had bumpers...

This is Daddy and Elijah waiting for the one pin to fall...Good job little guy...First pin down before he's one year old....

Elijah's First Christmas pics...

Okay, sorry about the long wait...kept forgetting to bring the pics in so I could post them. We had a GREAT Christmas with the little guy. He got way too much stuff, more than he can even play with. I'll just throw a bunch of pics up with comments. I also have some 1st b-day pics which will be the next post.

Hey, move it, I'm trying to drive!!!

Okay Gavin, you play with that cool Transformer, I'll play with this wrapping paper bow.

Extreme Closeup!!!

Elijah loves baths, he usually eats the bubbles...yuk!!

This is the first day in his new roadster that Papa and Mimi got him..

I'm so beautiful I will kiss myself...*laugh*

Elijah always cracks himself up looking in mirrors...