Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Eight years: First meeting

Eight years ago today Axel met Dean for the very first time. He was 10 years old here, wearing size 4T clothes (to compare, Angela who looks very tall in the video, is only 4ft 8!) Our boy is a man now. 18 years old. I can't believe that tiny little voice is his.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Eight Years

Eight years ago yesterday, I sat in a small office in Kragujevac, Serbia, signing the papers that would make me mother to this amazing little boy! Axel was 10 years old, but looked like a 5 year old, and I was bringing him home. I couldn't even believe it! Now he is 18, and graduating from high school!!
Here is what I wrote that day:

Djordje Spring

Adopted from Kragejevak, Serbia on December 9th, 2010

(the sign says something about the city of Kragujevak)

So, I suppose you want to know how to pronounce that name? Let me try to un-butcher it for you. The "j" makes a zh sound, like the s in "measure". The second "d" is silent...I think. His name sounds like 


Except that he goes by a nickname "D'jolli"

That's "D'zholli (short "i" sound, not long!) 

In Serbia, the birth certificate is produced with the child's birth name on it, and his or her new last name. But don't worry, as soon as we get back to the U.S. we'll be ordering a new with his American name.

Axel is my grandfather's name, and Maurice is my father's middle name, but already answers to Axel. If I ask him his name, he does not yet know what I mean, and responds with a long-winded stream of gibberish.

Do you want to know how to pronounce the name of the town? It only took me a week to get it right, so let me try to help you out. Remember to roll your r's. ;-)

Krag uh ya vech.

Now say it REALLY fast, roll the "r" and you might be close!

Ok, enough of the language lesson already, on to pictures!

Weds night Axel and I packed up all our belongings. At first he was quite confused, looking at me like, "What? We're not living in this 10x10 room forever?"

Thursday morning we got up nice and early,( Axel is a pokey eater so we had to allow enough time for him to eat breakfast) and got all squeaky clean and dressed! Here he is in his adoption day clothes. He looked so handsome and grow up!
Then we drove just a few blocks to the social center. First they had to verify that everything on the adoption decree was correct, and had me sign it. 

"I certify that from this day forward I am the mother of this child." No turning back now! LOL (Shelley, do you see the paper NEXT to the one I'm signing? That's Grifyns adoption decree! They were comparing the two documents to make sure they were using the same wording. I glanced over and realized I was seeing "Bedford" all over it! LOL

I thought, "Umm...THIS is the "ceremony"? The woman in charge must have seen the look on my face, because she said, "Don't worry. This is just the legal part, we'll have the ceremony in a little bit."

The documents done we all filed into this huge room. Interestingly, there were A LOT more people at this ceremony than I'd seen this far. There were 12-15 people in the room. Maybe more, I lost count as they kept filing in. This is only their second international adoption from this city, and everyone was very excited to be part of it. 

In Serbia, everyone wears many hats. The woman who did the legal documents is also the head psychologist for the social center, and apparently also wears a couple other hats. She switches from one to the other quite easily. Now it was her job to conduct the ceremony.

We were all sitting a conference room at this huge U shaped table. Axel sat on my lap, happily coloring away, oblivious as to how his life was about to change, and that his new mama was going to be a in puddle of tears any minute!

The boss lady said (paraphrasing of course) "We want you to know how happy we are for Djordje. To know that he is going to have a new life, with freedoms and opportunities that he could never have here."

.......picture sobbing mom here, along with tears from everyone in the room......

"As you know, you are the first single parent we have allowed to adopt, and that we gave your family much consideration. We have seen the wonderful things you have done with your daughter, and the opportunities available to her. We have seen how well the contacts with Djordje, you and the foster family have gone. We have seen how much he has blossomed while in your care just these few short days."

......more crying here....

"We are satisfied that that you are more than capable of caring for all his needs, and that he will have a wonderful life with you. We look forward to hearing all the things he is now able to experience in his new life. We now formally pronounce you as his mother, just as if you were his natural mother by birth."

Yep, I was pretty much overwhelmed with emotions at this point, and so were all the people in the room. At some point she said, "I'm glad you're crying! I get worried if the parents don't cry." LOL
There was much chatter before and after the ceremony. At one point one of the women on the other side of the room pointed to me, and indicated my glasses. Everyone nodded in agreement with whatever it was she said. Finally it was translated:

"The two of you have the same eyes. Everyone agrees, and it is amazing!"

The ceremony done, we had to walk a few blocks to the police station and get his new birth certificate, and order his passport. (There is another story here for this that I will save for another day.) 

This is Axel walking with one of the social workers who was most involved with the foster family. He is a very nice name, and is adopted himself. He was SO happy to see Axel finding a forever family.

Here is Axel's certificate of citizen ship listing his new name. What, you can't read it? Bummer for you!

Axel just chill'in while they redo the birth certificate for about the 4th time.

We had to wait awhile to make sure there were no additional problems with these documents and the butchering of my name in Cyrillic (that's the untold story from above). While we were waiting back at the office, the head psychologist sat next to me with Axel's entire file in her lap. Suddenly she says, "Axel looks just like his birth father, would you like to see a picture of his birth parents?"

Who would say no to that?

She flipped through the file and pulled out a photocopied page that had both of his parents' Serbian identity cards on it. (like a driver's license) There they were, his parents! I asked if I could take a picture of it so I could show Dean later. She said, "Oh, I'll give you a copy of it."

She proceeded to hand me a copy of his parents' identity cards, with their full names and DOB and everything. I was told during our meeting with the ministry officials last week that they, particularly the birth father, are interested in having contact. They would like to know what kind of life Axel has in the states, and would love to watch him grow up. Needless to say, I was THRILLED to have this information. In Serbia, there is no such thing as 'open adoption', and it is frowned upon. They don't realize that in the US, open adoption is normal, and that adoptive families often have some level of contact with the birth family. 

When this was all done, we went to lunch at a local restaurant called "The Hunter". I had eaten there earlier in the week, and the food is very good. But, while we were eating outside in the BEAUTIFUL weather, as predicted earlier in the day it suddenly turned. The winds came, dropping the temperature about 15 degrees while we sat there. We quickly loaded into the car for the 2 hr drive back to Belgrade.

Tonight while going through pictures, Axel did a "first". When he saw a picture of himself, he pointed to his chest, then signed, "Axel"!! What a perfect day for him to truly understand his name for the first time! 

We are now happily settled into my friend Mary's lovely flat! Today I'll go to the US Embassy to pick up some forms, and get some groceries. The weekend will be pretty much open. Then Monday will be a flurry of activity as we get Axel's medical visit done (a requirement for the visa) have his visa appointment, and wait for his visa to be done.

We will be flying home Tuesday afternoon!!!!

USA, here comes AXEL!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Making things work

Angela is an extremely social young lady. She is also quite adventurous! When she first started at her work program, which takes place in a city skyway system, she got lost on the very first day! And by "lost", I mean she was six blocks away from where she should be, and had no idea where she was. This happened because, although it was her first day, she thought she knew her way around so she just kept walking...and the wrong direction.

Once Angela realized she was not in the right place, and she didn't recognize any landmarks, she kept walking until she found a security officer. Then she called me,  "Mom, I'm lost. Here. Talk to the security guy." and handed over her phone. Her job coach reconnected with her very quickly, and all was well.

Angela learned a couple of lessons in the process:

1) ANSWER your phone when you hear it ringing. Both her job coach and I were calling here and she wasn't answering. We don't know if she was refusing, or if she couldn't hear her phone.

2) If you don't know where you're going, don't walk in the front of a group. Walk in the middle or the back so someone who DOES know where they're going can show you the way. If you walk in front, and they turn a corner without you realizing, you will get lost.

3) If you can't find a security person, you can FaceTime Mom or the job coach so they can see your surroundings, and they can find you.

4) Once in awhile remind Mom to verify "find my phone" is turned on. ;-)

I probably don't need to tell you how panicked I was during this event. Or that the job coach, who wasn't yet familiar with Angela and her over confidence, was just as worried as I was. After that event, we started having Angela wear an AngelSense GPS tracking device. It has a lot of features that were really great, and we used it for over a year. However we recently decided to try a different GPS device. We still use the Angelsense for a couple of our other kids when we attend crowded community events.

After doing some research, we switched Angela to a Gizmo Watch. The device itself works great for Angela. Unfortunately we encountered a couple problem that are unique to Angela. First, Angela can't get it on herself, because it has a buckle. That second problem is that after a couple months of use we have discovered Angela is allergic to the silicone watchband. Hmmm we really like the device so how could I modify it to make it work for her?

To google I go! I found a few tutorials on how to make watch bands, and tonight I made one that is made with fleece. Not only will it be better against her skin, but it is stretch so she can get it on herself.

I used to do a lot of sewing, but haven't been able to in years. I barely remember how to thread my machine! I think this turned out ok. We'll see how it works for her then I'll make more. Hopefully this stays together and we don't lose the watch! LOL

Although I was planning on Christmas themed fabric
Angela chose this Star Wars fleece. 

I'd like to learn how to make velcro watch bands, however I would need to be very careful that the scratchy velcro can't touch Angela's skin at all! Her skin is incredibly sensitive and it would cause a breakdown within a day. I think these stretchy type bands are going to be the best option for her.

For those with loved ones who wear a GPS like this, do you have any other suggestions? 

7 years! Asher

Happy Adoption Day (yesterday), Asher!!!! This post is copied from our adoption blog. Asher's birth parents are reading this post. We have been in contact with them for several years, and they are good people. They made a very difficult decision based on the social climate for people with disabilities where they live. Please be respectful.

December 5th, 2011

Ivanna (pronounced Eevanah) the orphanage social worker. Asher is blurry because he wasn't really interested in posing. 

Ok, he'll hold still for this one. Ivanna was trying hard not to cry at this point. Just off camera are caregivers in tears. After this, Ivanna handed me a bag. There is one caregiver who has cared for Asher since the day he was born, and often takes him to the grocery store and other places with her. She said the bag was something for Asher from his caregiver, who did NOT come to work today because she could not stand to see Asher leave. Later when I opened the bag, I found a size 8 brand new outfit. Size 8...something he will wear next year. And brand new outfit; something I know was not easy for her to do.

Seven years ago, his guardian walked through these doors with a tiny baby. One of the least of these. I know a lot about his birth parents, and I know they were doing the only thing they could. The story is for Asher, and not one I'll share here, but I can tell you Asher WAS loved, and in fact his birth family was just here to visit him knowing that he would be leaving. I cannot imagine how difficult that was for them.

Driving to Kragujevac. Americans get a little freaked out about the lack of carseats here. Even when a family does have a carseat, it isn't used anywhere near the way it's supposed to be. LOL Here's Asher, sitting on my lap facing me to watch out the window.

Signing the adoption decree!!!

The actual ceremony. I'm going to tell you what was said, not to pat ourselves on the back, but so you can see how these adoptions touch everyone. (and I look horrible in the pictures because I'm crying!)

This was toward the end of the ceremony, when we all stood up for the formal part. Susanna the psychologist was talking, saying just three months ago they received Axel's update and were so thrilled to see how wonderful he's doing and the opportunities he has. To see that he has the medical care nobody even knew he needed (I included pictures of Axel in the halo and explained what had happened.) Then when they received our request for Asher they were so excited to know the family he would be going to, and to be able to tell the birth family just what kind of life Asher would have. They thanked me for coming back to Kragujevac to give a family to one of their children.
 Then she said something funny: In our paperwork for Axel and again for Asher I explained how many times adoption has touched my immediate family, and that my sister had 9 children, four of them adopted. They wondered how much more space WE have in OUR house, and if they will get to see us again next year. LOL

The head minister did not participate in our ceremony with Axel because he was out of town, but he lead this ceremony and was very glad to be part of it.

This is Susanna, talking about how our family has taught them all a lot about love and acceptance, and that by seeing the updates on Axel they have a new understanding of the importance of family for these children, and the progress that can be made when a child is raised in a loving environment. They hope all their children can be so lucky to find their way to a family like ours.

Certificate of Serbian citizenship, and his new birth certificate listing him as Lazar SPRING, with me as his mother!

"Uncle Zoran". Zoran is a COCI staff member who is nothing less than a Godsend to adoptive parents! He is translator, driver, and playmate for the children when you need your hands free. You will get more Serbian history from Zoran than you will anywhere else.
 After a VERY long day we drove home in Zoran's a CAR SEAT! (with a lap belt. LOL) But Asher was comfortable and fell asleep holding my iPhone to his ear.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Today you are 30

The second day of December, 1988.

 I had a 14 month old toddler, Noah, and was massively pregnant with my second baby. I knew he was a boy, and this day was his due date. There was SO much to do! Christmas would soon be here, I just knew if we didn't get the Christmas tree up, it likely wouldn't happen once this new baby came. After dinner my (then) husband and I took little Noah to the local tree lot, where we found a cute little tree for our tiny living room, that we could also afford. Times were lean for this young family!

We brought the tree home and stood it in the living room to "rest", and let the branches drop.   I put Noah to bed, then stood looking at the tree. My husband was supposed to get the Christmas boxes out of the attic, but his day had started at 4:00 am and he now sat on the couch, sound asleep. I took a deep breath and hauled my giant belly up the stairs and opened the door to the attic crawl space, got on my hands and knees, peering inside. It was going to be tough for me to get all these dang boxes out, but I was (and still am) a very determined woman. One by one I pulled out a box, carried it downstairs to the living room, then hauled myself back up the stairs for another. I got the tree into the stand, crawling underneath to secure all the screws into the trunk, trying to work around my belly. I found a couple strands of lights that still worked and wrapped them around the tree. We didn't have a lot of ornaments yet, and it was only Noah's second Christmas so I made sure his two ornaments, and a new one for the baby, were prominently hung on the front of the tree. I couldn't wait to see Noah's face in the morning when he saw the tree!

I quickly put up the other household decorations. When I was done I looked at the now empty boxes, knowing they needed to get back up the stairs. Afraid to sit down for fear I wouldn't be able to get back off the couch, I picked up a box and started to climb the stairs once again.

Finally, after what seemed like many hours, I sat down on the couch next to my sleeping husband to admire the tree. I realized my back was hurting just a little bit, and figured it was due to all the boxes I had just carried. I woke my husband and prodded him to bed so he would get a decent night sleep. I looked at the clock...midnight...No wonder I was exhausted!!

At 5:30 a.m. I was woken by a massive contraction. I reached over to my husband's side of the bed and realized he was already gone for work. I got up to use the bathroom and had another contraction, stronger than the first. I peeked at Noah. I found he was still sleeping, so I laid down on the couch to rest but instead had another strong contraction. They were already two minutes apart! With my first baby, my water had broken with a gush sitting at the table of an extended family member. I went  to the phone and called my husband's work. "Please tell K. to come home. NOW! We need to go NOW!" Thankfully his place of work was very close to our house, so he arrived in minutes. By the time he got there I had Noah up, diapered, and stuffed in his snowsuit to go to grandma's house. While K. was loading Noah I called my mom to tell her the baby was on the way, all the while making frequent stops for contractions I couldn't talk through. While talking to my mom I looked out the window to see if K. was having any trouble getting Noah into the car (you know how men and infant car seats can be!) and the car was GONE! "Ummm mom? He left without me."

Yes, he had left to bring Noah to his parent's house while I sat and waited for him. They were also closely thankfully! When he returned he was moving at lightning speed through the house while I was moving in slow motion, just trying to get my shoes on.

When we finally arrived at the hospital my contractions were very close together, and as soon as I was in a bed my water broke.

On December 3rd, 1988 at 7:42 a.m. Tyler was placed into my arms for the very first time.

Tyler, today you are


You came into this world like a little tornado, and it's pretty much how you've lived your life. An adrenaline junkie through and through! You made me a mom for the second time. You made Noah a brother. You added to the long line of grandkids and great grandkids! I pray that 2019 is kind to you. That you are blessed beyond measure and life treats you kind!

Grade 3
I love you!
Preschool, age 3

Grade 5
Bryon 7, Noah 9, Robbie 10, Tyler 8, Angela 6 mo
Grade 4

Grade 6

Sunday, December 02, 2018

She told me it was urgent!

What malnourishment looks like: Recovery

I was looking through old videos today, and found this one of Asher. I had forgotten what terrible condition he was in when he came home! Just a couple weeks short of one year home. His belly is still giant and bloated. Because his hands and feet continued to grow but his body had slowed, they look too big for his body. When he came home he was seven years old and 36 lbs. By the time this video was taken, 11 months later, he had gained 8 lbs and 2 1/2 inches in height. It takes a long time for a small boy to recover from malnutrition. It would be another 6+ months before Asher was no longer looking like a toddler.

But OH! This boy was SO HAPPY to be here!!! Look at the PURE JOY on his face as he discovers something as simple as making noise, and just being A BOY!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

How did we get here: Asher's adoption process

Here is a link to my old adoption blog, and all the posts related to Asher's adoption process. I can't believe we are coming up on seven years home! This marks the day Asher has officially been our son longer than he was an orphan. He is the first of our kids to reach this milestone! If you'd like to read about Asher's adoption process, CLICK HERE, and scroll back to November 2nd, 2011. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

How did they get here? Axel's adoption

If you are new here, and you would like some reading material, here is a link to all the old blog posts related to Axel's adoption process. His was our first adoption, and quite a learning experience! I can't believe he's coming up on eight years home. The time has flown by! At the time I had four adult kids: Rob, Noah, Tyler and Bryon, and Dean had one adult son, Aaron. Angela was the only one left at home and she was 15. She did NOT like being an only child and she was SO excited to have a new brother join her! They have been best buds ever since! We're very lucky, because it doesn't always work out that way.

Anyway, if you would like to read about Axel's adoption process CLICK HERE to his posts, and go back to November 23, 2010

Let's go back in time

December is anniversary month for two of our kids: Axel came home December 2010, and Asher came home December 2011. Next came Abel in April 2013, and Audrey in 2014. Then we took a break for a few months to deal with the ugly monster called Cancer. Amos joined us March 2015, and Roman in January 2017. It has been a very busy eight years!!!!!

Tomorrow (December 1st) is when I met Axel for the SECOND time. I had met him months before, but under different circumstances, and at the time I had no intention of adopting. Once the adoption process was started, Axel is who we chose and the preparations began in August 2010. Here is a blog post I wrote as I prepared to travel to Kragujevac, Serbia to bring him home.

November 23rd, 2010

The last few weeks have been busy. All the paperwork and running around that is done to bring a child home is exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes it seems as if there is no way you will ever make it to the end. In reality you know there are thousands of families who have gone before you, and they have made it to the end, so you just keep plugging along, getting it done as fast as you can. The faster it's done, the faster your child comes home.

But towards the end of the process, just when you think you are spent, you start to get a little taste of the fun. As the fact that you're adopting becomes more real, and you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, you allow yourself small pleasures. Those small pleasures are all about gathering the actual items that you know in just a few weeks your child's hands will be touching.

Painting your child's room is one of those things that will keep you going.

Everyone in the family gets excited and wants to help. They gather where they can keep an eye on the action.

Picking out the paint color and bedding is another step. As you put each sheet on the bed, and lay out the blanket, you picture your new child there, sleeping securely in the room closest to yours. You wonder if he will want you to lay with him those first few nights as he learns the noises of his new home.

Some things you decide to leave until your child is home, knowing it will be one of the first times he'll be allowed to express his opinion, and that his opinion has value. 

And of course, buying the clothes he will wear is one very important step; clothes that are like wrapping him with a hug. You touch each item and find yourself praying over each them, that they'll find him healthy and happy each time he puts it on. You pray over his shoes that will walk the streets of his birth country for the very last time. You pray over the winter coat that will protect him from the bitter cold, and hope that you can protect him from some of life's bitterness.
Finally, the day arrives when it is time to pack up the items you've gathered, and try to pack your fears away as well, shifting your focus to the days ahead. In a matter of days, you will travel to the other side of the world for him, to touch him, to hold him again, to see his smile and hear his laughter.
You try to sleep those last few nights. Knowing when you leave your bed on the day of your departure, your life will be forever changed. You stop in his room one last time and say a prayer for the days ahead.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Welcome New Readers!

Wow!!! If you are new here today, you probably found us via the video done by Chris Ulmer from Special Books By Special Kids. Thank you so much for coming to read about us! I guess it's time for me to get this blog moving again. You'll see that I've said that many times over the last couple of years. Needless to say, we are a very busy family and it is difficult for me to find time to write. But, I will try my best! For those long-time readers who are looking for an update on the kids, here you go!!!!! Also, don't forget there will be a documentary set to release in June 2019!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Update on the adult child

It is a sad fact that I can't follow through with anything. It is amazing to me (and to Dean!) that we
have completed any adoptions because they each require a ton of paperwork and a process that must be followed in a timely manner. I guess, for a time, God had me focused more than I'm able to right now. I still intend to do the breast cancer photos, and have actually spoken with a photographer about doing a specific photo shoot. Now to carve out some time!

In the meantime, it is also Down syndrome awareness month. We have had SO much going on here lately, I thought I'd give you a little update on Angela and all that she's been up to.

A year ago Angela entered a career exploration program with a local agency called Lifeworks. They had a pilot program going called "Small Group" at different locations throughout the metro area. Angela was in a group that was based out of the St. Paul skyway system. The very first day was difficult, though probably more for me and her staff than for her. It started with Metro Mobility dropping her off way too early, so there was no staff to meet her. But when she entered at a building she saw a huge escalator that she remembered from the one visit we made months before. She went up the escalator and found the coffee shop where we had met during that visit. She remembered I told her the job coach's number was in her phone, so Angela called her. All was good, and the job coach met her right away. The next day Angela got very lost, as in 6 blocks away (but still within the skyway system.) She found herself in the Federal Courthouse, found a security guard and told him she was lost. She was quickly reunited with her group. Of course, it was the first time they had lost anyone. Leave it to my kid. UGH!  Within a couple months of starting the program Angela was navigating her way around the whole skyway system independently, and was now acting as the leader when new coworkers started the program. This is something that is difficult for most adults! She was even able to exit the skyway, then take a city bus to a specific location, and sometimes took a couple co-workers with her. She did this successfully, and without knowing she was being shadowed by an employee who was not known to her. ;-)

In July it was time for Angela to find a job but we needed to get her through a major surgery first so opted to wait until the end of September to start interviewing.  She went on a couple of interviews but I didn't really think they were jobs that would actually pan out for her. Then her job coach took her to an interview at McDonalds. I was a little disappointed because I didn't want Angela working in the fast food industry. She is a bit food obsessed and I could just imagine her packing on the pounds! The interview went very well, and the store manager really liked Angela and her enthusiasm! She offered Angela 25 hours a week to start. I was very surprised. A lot of adults in our Down syndrome community are only given a couple of hours every day, some only a couple of hours per week. For many that is all they're able to work and stay on task. I wondered if this was really a good match for Angela, and maybe the bar was set a bit too high? I convinced everyone that 20 hrs a week to start would be better. She is paid minimum wage of $10.25/hr, and after 6 weeks will get a raise, then again at 6 months. This is pretty good for her first job, and on par with what others are getting paid for their first job.

Angela started her job with a job coach going along for the entire shift. The job coach showed Angela each task on her list. After the first day it was evident Angela could handle additional responsibilities, so they added to her list. They only needed to show her a new task once, sometimes twice, and Angela was able to complete them without assistance or reminders. Everyone has been saying how fantastic she's doing and all I can think is, "This is the same person who won't put her laundry away without lots of nagging from me!" At the end of every shift Angela is given $7 in McDonalds credit to buy a meal. The first day she came home with a lot of food. She and I came to an agreement that on Monday I will text her what she can order for the week, so now she's getting lower calorie items. She seems happy with this agreement, and it fits well with her desire to know everything ahead of time, at all times. HA!

Friday last week was the first day she was on her own, without a job coach. Dean and I couldn't resist, so we had lunch at McDonalds.  Angela was working in back when we arrived, but while we were eating she came out front.  That stinker completely ignored! She acted like she didn't see us! When she went in back we heard her announce, "My mom and dad are here!" When she came back out front, she continued to ignore us. LOL The good thing is she stayed on task, doing her job. She collects the trays, washes them, and gets them ready to be used again by putting the paper placemat thingy on, then stacking them behind the counter. She cleans all the tables and the condiment area, makes sure the beverage area is stocked with cups, lids and straws, and that all flat surfaces are cleaned off, straightens all the chairs and tables, empties the trash bins and places new bags, carrying the full bags out to the dumpster. Whenever someone comes in the door Angela greets them like royalty, with a sweep of her arm and, "Welcome to McDonalds Sir/Madam!" She says hello to the little kids, stooping to their level,  and elderly customers as well. Yesterday when I picked her up I asked the manager how things are going. She replied, "Oh my gosh! She makes our customers so happy! She even got a tip today! Everyone adores her." (Who gets a tip at McDonalds???)  The manager told Angela, "When you're done there you can go ahead and clock out." but Angela kept working another 30 minutes because she was enjoying her job.

I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of Angela. The past year she has matured SO much, it is hard to believe she is the same person. Now she can work on that apartment she's been wanting. She's been on a waiting list for a roommate, and we hope it happens soon so she can fledge from the nest, just like all her older siblings did!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Breast Cancer Awareness 2018

It's been four and a half years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It seems like forever ago, and yet it seems like yesterday, all at the same time. Life is good!!! I am approaching the 5 year mark - a very important milestone in the life of a breast cancer patient! At 5 years, I can get life insurance!!! Well, that and statistically one's risk of recurrence decreases significantly.

So far I am still NED = No Evidence of Disease. You see, with breast cancer, there is no such thing as "cancer free", because it takes only ONCE undetectable cell to cross the lymph system, to spread through your body. Instead we are labeled "NED", because there is no detectable cancer found. Last spring I was all freaked out and convinced I had developed lymphoma as a result of chemo. My Oncologist ordered a PET scan, and all was well. That scan made me feel SO much better, knowing there was nothing hiding anywhere. At least nothing any scan could pick up.

So here I am.

I want to go back a bit, and share some things about cancer that I never did before. I don't know if the average person understands how devastating breast cancer can be. This year, after much thought and prayer, I have finally decided to share pictures. Not just pictures of my smiling self, but pictures of the effects of surgery. Yes, I'm going to show you pictures of my breasts, both my old and my new. I don't even remember my old breasts anymore. I don't remember how they felt in my hands or on my body. My new ones don't feel like real breasts. I can feel the implants inside them, and they cause me a few (minor) problems here and there, which I like to make jokes about.

If you are here for the first time, THIS LINK will take you to the post I wrote about the day I was diagnosed. So far in my 51 years, that was the darkest day of my life.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Moving On

Sometimes I don't have time to write.

Who am I kidding? I am really busy, and rarely have time to write anymore. Sometimes it's just easier, and faster, to talk. We've been getting ready for some big changes here in the Garden of Eagan.   Today I'm talking about some of them.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Prom 2018

I can’t believe that little boy we brought home just a few years ago is now old enough to attend his high school Prom! He went with is good friend Corinne. They had a great time, even in the sweltering heat!