Thursday, April 30, 2009

and the winner of the final giveaway is..........


talk to me thursdays.. featuring my 2nd guest Danielle

This "Talk to me Thursday" hits home with me...Danielle and I have "known" each other for 4 year + years now... do we know each other in person?!?!? NO...but does she probably know more about my inside struggles and fights with being a mom of a son who you know needs help, the struggle it takes on who you are as a mother/wife, the way people look at you in public, the strain it can put on your other children and marriage.. she knows how it feels to feel so helpless that you cannot fix it. YES... we met on a mom's board when our sons were both newborns... we followed each others his & lows, milestones, birthdays... then.. around the same time we both noticed struggles.. kind of silent in our noticing.. bc while watching and learning about other children there was just something.. NOT RIGHT. Danielle's son was diagnosed autistic before, Dylan. Therefore, I looked toward her as my mentor, my guide, my light at the end of the tunnel. She always was the TRUE advocate for her son.. and I knew that is what I had to do also to get them the proper care they needed so they could fight this horrible thing called "AUTISTIM" and since she showed me how to persevere and never give up.. both of our sons are doing AMAZING!!!

Here's is Danielle's story... its a fabulous one.. and a GREAT way to round up APRIL AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH

"My son Xander is a wonderful, silly, beautiful, loving four year old. He also
happens to have autism. Xander was born in October. By Christmas that year it was apparent he was different at quirky if you will. We went home for Christmas and my whole family commented on how "serious" he was; he would sit in his car seat and people watch, he wouldn't look into your face and coo or smile. He was very "intense"for an infant. He also had to be held close at all times, including when he slept, which got a little tiring, but as a new mom I learned to cope and love the snuggles. My family, my mom in particular, thought I was being ridiculous and "spoiling" him, so I learned very quickly not to talk to anyone about our issues.
Xander developed normally, and met all of his milestones, until he was a year old. He continued to be quirky and intense, with an amazing attention span. One time when he was not yet a year he crawled his funky one-legged crawl into his room and started to play with Legos. When I tried to go into his room to play with him or make sure he was okay, he pushed me out and closed the door. He sat in there for 45 minutes, absorbed in his play. I knew this wasn't "normal" but chalked it up to his personality.

The first time I mentioned to anyone that I had concerns was at Xander's one year well child checkup. I talked to his pediatrician about the fact that he didn't have any words, including mama. He babbled but didn't use any useful communication. His pediatrician had us get his hearing checked, and due to ear infections he had some hearing loss from the fluid in his ear, and his doctor figured that was the problem, and all we had to do was wait it out. After a few months of no improvement I was still concerned so I took matters into my own hands and called Early Intervention, who set up an evaluation for me. He was 15 months old when we started speech therapy as he was not communicating in any way, could not follow directions, and seemed to have almost no receptive communication.

When he was 20 months old we had a new addition to the family, his little brother
Gabriel. Xander loved his brother from the beginning, hugging and kissing him
constantly. A month before his second birthday he said his first word,
"ball". I was so excited (and sleep deprived) that I cried (full disclosure; I had a four month old, almost everything made me cry). He continued to make progress with his speech therapy, learning to use words to get what he needed, but he never used them to communicate. He would just say a word, or use a sign, he would never look for a communication partner to help him, he would just stand in a room alone signing "help" over and over until hear his little fist slapping his other hand and came to help him. He didn't play with me or with other kids, he didn't show me stuff he liked. As I saw Gabriel begin to develop I could see what Xander didn't do, and I felt more and more sad for him.When Xander was 30 months old his speech therapist suggested we see a neurologist and have him evaluated for autism. This was the first time anyone said that word to me, though of course afterwards many people said "I kind of thought he might have it, but didn't want to say anything." I cried off and on for days, then sat and waited for 5 months to get the neurology appointment. By the time we saw the doctor I had done enough
research that I wasn't surprised when I was told he had autism. The good news was that he now qualified for extra services through the school district, just by having that word attached to his name.

At this point Xander didn't use his words to communicate, but they were his self stimulatory actions, he repeated everything anyone said (echolalia) and he scripted, meaning he would sit and quote a Thomas the Train movie for hours. Like many three year old boys he was obsessed with Thomas, but it was a little more intense. He had to always be carrying 3-5 trains. He had to always be wearing a shirt with Thomas on it. I had to find some way of relating his pants to Thomas ie., they were blue like him. He also had sensory processing issues and to this day overreacts to stimuli, which leads to a lot of anxiety for him.When he turned three Xander started preschool through our district in the afternoons, and in the mornings he went to a special smaller class that had four kids on the spectrum and two teachers. They worked intensively on issues that pertained to them all. By Christmas he was putting two words together on his own and using them to communicate. By the end of the school year he was stringing together sentences. They did some amazing things with him.

This past year we moved him from his autism class into a social skills class the district offers to higher functioning kids. When the school year started we saw almost immediate regression, because he was still in the other class and he was regressing back down to their level, once we put him into the class with the higher functioning kids he rebounded almost immediately. He still gets speech therapy through the school but we stopped private speech therapy in lieu of a private social skills class. I also watch what he eats very carefully, as he regresses when he gets artificial dyes and preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. It's a delicate balancing act, keeping him at the high functioning level he's attained, but it's worth it. He has a lot of behavioral issues and it just breaks my heart to see him acting out like he does, because I know it's because he's hurting and anxious and scared. His little brother Gabriel is one of the best things to happen to him, he is so understanding and helpful to him, he adores and looks up to him and would do anything for him. I feel like it puts a lot of pressure on Gabriel, and that he's always going to have to watch after and look out for his big brother, but he is so patient and loving with him.

Having children is hard on any marriage, especially when one has special needs, but it can also bring you closer together. Learning new ways to parent and exploring your child's needs together causes some strife, but in the end if you can make it through all the challenging behavior and find something that works for your kid, it's almost like a crisis, it brings you closer together. Parenting a child with autism is not like parenting a child without, I call it "creative parenting". Every day I have to come up with a new way to deal with meltdowns, to get Xander to want to do what I want him to (because if he doesn't want to do it, it won't be done!), everything from peeing on the potty (we're still working on potty training) to eating dinner (I have to feed him), to not hurting himself or one of us in one of his outbursts (often achieved by physically restraining him in my arms until hes calm enough to let go). But being a parent is tough for everyone, and each child has their own struggles. One of the worst parts is the judgment other people pass on us, and I have to admit it often keeps us at home instead of going out. I'm always a little scared to go out alone with both boys, afraid of a meltdown, afraid that this might be the time Gabriel gets upset and I can't control both of them at once, and always a little afraid of those stares from strangers as I sit crying with my beautiful baby boy in my lap, restraining him as he thrashes around screaming, waiting for this outburst to pass.


Monday, April 27, 2009

i feel like someone stole my mojo...

and that persons name would be "RAIN"..
the rain has kept me from working for the past 3 weeks now.. and it just saddens me to so much... I get so pumped and excited to do the sessions and 2hours before BOOM... the clouds come rolling in..

well I was hoping.. really hoping this weekend would be different..
so we attempted..
drove an hour to the location
opened the door.. to the most precious blue-eyed girl was so excited to get my grubby little paws on her...

we get outside.. get everything setup..
2minutes into it..
the SKIES opened up..

so once again.. RAIN you stole my mojo.. lets hope you decide to give it back to me pretty soon.. bc I am getting kind of bored over here!

look at this little trooper.. can you see why I was so excited to work with her. I can't wait to see you again Miss Delainey!



and the winner of the fourth giveaway is..........

Picked from a random computer program.. Nik is the 11th comment.. therefore the WINNER.. Nik please contact me if I do not get ahold of you first!

and congrats! Remember people... there are ton more giveaway you could still win.. SO go and fill them out!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

and the winner of the third giveaway is..........

Picked from a random computer program.. Tanya is the 11th comment.. therefore the WINNER.. Tanya please contact me if I do not get ahold of you first!

and congrats! Remember people... there are ton more giveaway you could still win.. SO go and fill them out!


and the winner of the second giveaway is..........

Picked from a random computer program.. Catherine is the 4th comment.. therefore the WINNER.. Catherine please contact me if I do not get ahold of you first!

and congrats! Remember people... there are ton more giveaway you could still win.. SO go and fill them out!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

don't know what to do with your kids today?

well here in the chicagoland area it is GLOOMY to say the least.. and well the weather is being quiet unpredictable.

so here is a great option
TOYS R US is having a Thomas the Train day..
activities, character greetings, and story time.

if you little ones love thomas they will surely love this



as im sitting here.. its one of those moments that make you feel so complete as a mom!
my office is right next to playroom.. but seperated enough that they do not realize when i am listening to them play. now if i go and peek at them they will stop.

so here is the scenario..
they are playing house..
sierra and marley are playing baby and dylan is playing daddy..
i hear dylan say
"ok babies are you done with your food"
babies reply "yay!!!"
babies start to cry
dylan starts walking up the stairs
babies get louder
babies cry and say don't go
dylan comes back down and starts singing
"lullaby, nighty night lullaby, i love you babies"

OMG.... music to my ears... he is so sweet.. and really is going to make the best daddy ever!!!


and the winner of the first giveaway is..........

Picked from a random computer program.. Kristin is the 63rd comment.. therefore the WINNER.. Kristin please contact me if I do not get ahold of you first!

and congrats! Remember people... there are ton more giveaway you could still win.. SO go and fill them out!

*NOTE KRISTIN PLEASE CONTACT ME.. YOU DID NOT LEAVE CONTACT 411 nor BLOG 411 if I do not hear from you by Midnight Sunday I will have to redraw!*


Friday, April 24, 2009

continuing to give...

for me.. to continue to give to others is to continue to breath..

I will do as much as I can for others until I can no longer.. its just what keeps me going.. especially when it envolves the lives of innocent children.

This is why I would love to open all of your eyes to this amazing new organization

The Pictures of Hope Foundation (POH) is a charitable organization, comprised of professional photographers from all over the United States , that provides an opportunity for professional photographers to give back in their community. Members of Pictures of Hope, offer complimentary, documentary-style, photography services to families with a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The minute I saw this orgnaiztion I knew it would be perfect for me. If any of you know anyone who may need these services please feel go to the website.


GIVEAWAY #5 - from MOI

so im doing my part...
im doing a giveaway.. why
well bc we all know how much i love all of my mom's!
you guys are so good to me... i dont know where i would be without all of the knowledge, support, strength i gain from my real-life moms, my mommy clients, my computer moms, and my blogger moms..

seriously we all deserve to be celebrated more often than one day a year.

My giveaway is something near and dear to me..
last year i finally was able to go to the "TULIP FESTIVAL" in Holland, MI...
it has been a dream.. if i could be surrounded by tulips all day every day I would.. I find them so simple, so perfect so beautiful.

so my gift is:

3 5x7 images double matted and framed in 8x10 frames. All images I have taken at the tulip festival in Holland, MI last mother's day... I would love to go there again this year.. but unfortunately I cannot.. but hopefully you can experience the beauty through these images.

1.) leave me a comment about your favorite thing on my blog
2.) you can either twitter or FB about the giveaway and post a link
3.) you can donate to a cause near and dear to this momma for the "STEP UP TO AUTISM WALK" in honor of my lil man Dylan.. we are walking in "TEAM BIG D" click here to donate!

**add a comment for each additional entry telling me what you did**
Comments close Monday April 27th, 2009 at 11:59PM



with mother's day approaching right around the corner.. what mommy wouldn't LOVE and ADORE a custom handmade card... its that extra special touch..

Debbie from CARDS BY DEB is such an amazing artist, I wish I could even come close to the patience and detail that she does!

Here are some words from Deb
"Why do I think your readers would like to win my product? Who doesn't have a need for a greeting card? And how often can you walk into a Hallmark store and find a card that not only has your favorite colors, but also the perfect quote, and to top it off, the name of the person you are giving it to printed on front?"

The Winner of this giveaway gets the following options:

I would like to offer two free cards with free shipping. The first card can be anything that I have for sale at the time at my Etsy shop. The second card can be a custom creation. Whatever the winner would like, I will create it for them. They choose the event, the colors, a quote to put inside, etc.

Want to win these awesome cards:
ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS LEAVE A COMMENT TELLING ME WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE ON THIS BLOG... ideas, decorating, deals, photography, stories.. you tell me!

comments will be closing on Sundy April 26, 2009 at 11:59 PM


Thursday, April 23, 2009


look at how perfect these look too good to eat.. NAH.. hello they are cookies..we MUST EAT THEM!!!

Lori from "LORI'S PLACE GOURMET DELIGHTS" has offered this wonderful prize!
Please visit her etsy store and be WOWED by her amazing talent.. who ever wins these... I WANT JUST ONE.. PLEASE :)

Welcome to Lori's Place, where "Grandma's Goodness" comes through. Family recipes with a twist!
"One Bite" and you'll be "HOOKED"!
I use the "BEST" ingredients, "NO PRESERVATIVES"
& Caribbean Extracts for more intense, and delightful flavors.


Please be sure to read our Policies on storing your extra baked goods, and refunds!

Show MOM just how much you love her with your HEART!

Made with our "Signature Shortbread" dough!
These cookies are Hand Cut and Decorated!
Ready for Mom to enjoy!
4" & 3" in size..a perfect size cookie with her Tea!

Each cookie comes individually packaged......
Tied with matching ribbon.......
And nestled in a nice box ready for Mm to receive!

1.) leave a comment about your favorite kind of cookie and why
2.) put a link on your blog about this giveaway
3.) put a link on your facebook status about this giveaway

**add a comment for each additional entry telling me what you did**
Comments close Sat April 25th, 2009 at 11:59PM


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

tip #5 for earth week... going green in different ways

think about every meal you eat... do you use a napkin, or a few sheets of paper towels? I can vouch that my family on the right day can probally go through an entire roll of paper towels..

NOT VERY GREEN or money concious at that... I also watched Oprah today.. if you did not get a chance to see it this morning.. i strongly suggest that you watch it tonight.. very moving.. not like she gave us any new tips than most of us know.. but she opened my eyes to all of the saddness going on around the world..

did you know there is a GARBAGE SWIRL in the middle of the OCEAN... TWICE the size of TEXAS... it made my heart break in 2.. especially since the ocean is something that touches me near and dear as I was going to school for Marine Biology back in the day...

so...on to the tip


-i think this is a great option.. I think my kids will get a kick out of fun fabrics (I know you can get some great deals at walmart for a 1.00/yard) I myself currently have TONS of stock fabrics Im going to make some for meals.. and I am going to stock up on wash cloths for more significant spills and pet messes (target always has a stack of 6 on clearnace every 6 weeks)

so here is a tutorial if you aren't to aware of how to sew a napkin..


tip #4 for earth week... going green in different ways

Green cleaning products are fabulous way to start in the right direction of going green. If you do nothing else other than switch your cleaning products you can make a huge difference, esp when using a concentrate!

The Beauty of Concentrates!

One of the easiest, most environmentally friendly and economical things you can do is to buy concentrates.

Think about it. You may not have considered how much you are paying for water in a bottle of cleaner. Water in cleaners is the MOST EXPENSIVE WATER you can buy! Not only are you paying a high price for this basic first ingredient, you are also paying to

* ship the water,
* package the water and
* store the water.

a fun link for kids going green


Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I simply love these little cozies they are so useful, great for the earth, and just simply make any cup look cute on the run!

Christy from COZY BEANS has so many fun and different cozies.. visit her ETSY SHOP HERE

Here are a few words from Christy:

One of my favorite items is the Sweet Jasmine Cup Cozy. It will fit on a variety of size cups, and we have found several different uses for it. I use it when visiting my favorite coffee shops (for my Chai), my daughter, age 7, uses it when we are out and about and stop for a quick drink, my son, 17 months, uses it so he doesn't poke holes in the styrofoam that some places use for kid drinks, and my husband recently used his when he got a milkshake and did not want to hold the COLD drink!! It is one item that I have found works for our entire family!!

This cup cozy is an eco friendly way to hold your steaming hot drink without burning your hand. Use it instead of the cardboard ones offered at coffee shops.

Not only is it great for hot cups, but also soaks up condensation from your cold drinks.

Made w/ Amy Butler Sweet Jasmine Brown & Michael Miller Pink/Brown Dumb Dots fabrics, your cozy can be reversed. Each cozy has a layer of Insul-Brite to absorb the heat & moisture. It fastens with 2 elastic loops & buttons on each side. It's machine washable.


all you need to do is leave a comment with

comments will close Saturday April 25, 2008 @ 11:59pm


earth week tip #3...

how fun is this..
my kids are SOOOOOOO into gardening this year.. they want to plant, take care and see what comes out of all their work..

well how's this for an idea.. don't have room for a garden.. no excuse

Here is the tutorial on how to grow potatoes in a bag!

all you need is:
* Potatoes
* Organic fertilizer
* Garbage bags


Monday, April 20, 2009


Who wouldn't love to be decked out in one of this amazing, vintage inspired aprons!!! The ladies at Boojiboo were so kind to donate a YOUR CHOICE OF ANY VINTAAGE INSPIRIED APRON IN THEIR ETSY SHOP

Learn a little bit about one of our newest sponsors!

Boojiboo is a Mother and Daughter team of three. I am a stay at home Mom and both my daughters are full time helpers. Though we are considered 'apron people' now, we weren't ten years ago! I first started selling handmade raggedy ann dolls by myself. My eldest daughter started helping and we added Purses and totes to our products. My youngest daughter joined in on the fun and then we began making the aprons you see today! We've been doing craft shows for about ten years and only started selling on etsy two and a half years ago. We are so glad we did!

Visit their Etsy Store or their BLOG

Here are different ways you can enter to win the more you do.. the more ENTRIES you will get!

1.) leave a comment
2.) link the giveaway on your blog
3.) twitter a link to my blog
4.) follow me on twitter (
5.) follow my blog


**add a comment for each additional entry telling me what you did**


. . .


Sunday, April 19, 2009

another wonderful chicago resource.. the peggy notebart nature museum

tip #2 going green is straight from the peggy notebart nature museum.. A WONDERFUL, GORGEOUS & EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE!

Green Cleaning

Humans have been cleaning their homes since we first established permanent settlements 10,000 years ago, but most of the cleaners we use today have chemicals in them that were developed during and after World War II. Currently there are no laws in the United States that regulate chemicals used in the home other than pesticides. Therefore, almost all of the chemicals found in cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and personal care products have undergone no meaningful tests of any kind. They can contain a host of substances that can not only affect the air we breathe, but also the way our body works.

Switching from your current way of cleaning to green cleaning will help the planet, your family, and even your pocketbook. You can start by switching to safer store-bought products, or you can mix your own easy, affordable cleaners from the recipes listed on this page. Just remember, you don’t have to change everything at once. Your commitment to eco-living is valuable, and as you begin to make changes, you’ll notice all sorts of rewards that will keep you going on the path to green living.

All Purpose Cleaners



Glass and Mirror Cleaners

Floor Cleaners


Oven Cleaners



Green Cleaning Tips

Level 2, Extreme Green House

Don’t be cooped up all year with potentially hazardous chemicals! Discover cheaper, more effective, and ecologically sound ways to keep your home clean in this free demonstration. Times and days vary.

For more information on cleaning your home toxin-free, check out these books in the museum store!

Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin

Green Up Your Cleanup by Jill Potvin Schoff


tip #1 for earth week... going green in different ways

so many of my friends are now avid knitters.. and i love the fact that they can create things out of string.. it amazes me...

but how awesome is this idea..


recycling yarn from an old sweater!!!! can you imagine.. walking into a thrift store or flea market finding a sweater with amazing yarn gorgeous color.. but gastly style of sweater..

well what about this idea.. of taking this

to this..

PRETTY DAMN COOL if you ask me!!!
if any of you do this.. i want to see the before and after!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

in one week are 2 imporatant dates to me..

1.) it is my anniversary... my husband and i will be together 10years... thats insane.. it sounds so long.. for us being so young (I still view us as babies.. but i have to come to the conclusion that i will be 29 in 6months.. thats just CRAZY)

then on the other hand.. 10years seems like nothing.. i can't remember life without him... nor do i ever want to know what life would have been like without him... he is my everything, my every breath, the reason i am who i am, he is the best husband, father, friend, son... MAN around.. he is the true essence of who a man should be... and i am so thankful to be married to such an amazing person.. and so lucky that my son will have such a wonderful role model to look up to.. therefore i know that my son will be the most perfect man also... what more could a woman ask for... to me he has given me the best anniversary gift ever.. by just being himself and loving me and taking care of me the way that he does!

what are you doin for your part...
if you have any ideas and/ or links please leave them in comment section and i will post them all next week in celebration of Earth Day..


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

calling all moms in my neck of the woods.. GREAT SALE

2009 Highlands Elementary Spring Clothing Exchange
525 South Brainard Street
Naperville, Illinois 60540-6600

*note i was volunteering today at setup.. SUPER cute stuff!!! sizes newborn-sz5

Selling Days: Wednesday, April 15th 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm (Pre-Shop Only*)
Thursday, April 16th 9:00 am – 2:00 pm & 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Friday, April 17th 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (1/2 Price on Many Items)

Basic for Buyers:
1. Be aware of areas you can and can not park on the streets by the school. In front of the school has a time
restriction you need to be aware of and are posted.
2. Bring a basket with you to hold your items as you shop. Some schools will have this to help the shoppers
but they quickly run out of them when it is busy.
3. There are only changing rooms at the Naper school. If you are going to the Ellsworth Sale and you have
a daughter we recommend you have her dress in a leotard under her clothes so she can try on the items
while at the sale.
4. Only checks and cash are accepted at the sales so be prepared. If you write a check bring your drivers


Monday, April 13, 2009

did you know...

if you sprinkle some of these magic seeds..


these grow!!! a total of 300 of them!


im always looking for new and interesting ways to decoate..

look at this great wall display.. i know not everyone wants 16pictures in one room.. but this is a great way to fill a wall.. and still incorporate your home color scheme and design aspect along with photography.

here is the tutorial


a little safari

so friday.. was a brutal day.. i should have known better considering my shoot was canceled due to the extreme winds.. but does that ever stop me to try and do something.. NO... but then does it always backfire.. YOU KNOW IT..

so we decided to venture out to the zoo on friday.. spur of the moment.. and not such the good idea for my little man.. not telling him and suprising him was not the best idea.. he did not want to go.. he was cold.. and to top it off.. i made him wear the wrong jacket.. OMG.. have you ever put the WRONG jacket on a 4year old crabby patty.. if not i highly recommend that you NEVER do that!

well we were determined and stubborn thinking he would change his mind once he saw the animals.. and we were right. PERFECT around the animals.. then he turns and looks at me.. and WHOA back off woman... complete 180.... the proof is in the pudding (well pictures) that he wanted nothing to do with any human being that day.

so what do i do, when i get overwhelmed and cannot make one of my little beasts happy.. i go on a picture safari.. and leave the crabby patties with the best hubby in the world..

so... enjoy.. and you will see.. why I AM NEVER BEHIND THE CAMERA.. like what you get when you hand the camera off to a complete stranger.. this is how ALL of my family shots are!! CLASSIC


Friday, April 10, 2009

no words

think it speaks for itself..

man alive she is such a little devil.. all the more reason she melts my heart!!


help to this cause.. and get a fabulous gift

My friend Marla is an incredible artist who creates lovely rendered drawings from photographs. (You can see an example of her work here.) She’s also a great humanitarian. She and her family are walking in the March for Babies walk in Minneapolis on April 26. As part of her fundraising efforts, she is offering a great deal to anyone who donates to her cause:

Donate $25 or more to the March of Dimes March for Babies walk in Marla’s name, she will give you 50% off anything in her Etsy store!

Her drawings make great Mother’s Day gifts (hint, hint). I know my mom has been hankering for one, and I’m sure my in-laws would love one, too. Maybe this is the time to do a good deed and give a great gift.

Check out Marla’s work in her ArtLadyManor Etsy shop. (If you’re not familiar with Etsy, you really should be. It’s an amazing resource for handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.) You can also find out more about the walk at her March of Dimes page.

you can visit marla's blog for more 411


Thursday, April 9, 2009

talk to me thursdays.. featuring my first guest Tina Koral

I wanted something new and exciting.. I want to spread the word about many different issues in this world.. and what better way to reach out to my readers and the world than through a blog.. it reaches so much more than word of mouth..

Tina is a mother, a daughter, a wife, a writer a fighter and a survivor... she is also one of my newly found friends (i hate to call you guys clients bc you are all more than that to me) please read on.. and enjoy her amazing story and fight against breast cancer!

The photographs from my wedding day in April 2003 show a joyful young couple, visibly excited to start a new life together. The promise of a happy home full of children shone in our eyes. The thrill of that day, of marrying my childhood love, will stay with me forever. What I did not know at the time was that along with something old, new, borrowed and blue, I carried a seven centimeter, rapidly growing mass of malignant cells in my breast. I was twenty-nine years old.

In December 2001, I noticed a lump in my right breast. It was hard, round, and moveable. I quickly made an appointment to see my OBGYN. At my appointment in early February, 2002, she told me it was just a cyst and nothing to worry about.

I was happy to go on with life, blissfully unaware that the cancer was growing. As it became larger, I became more concerned. Then, the discharge started. One morning, I woke up with what looked like two drips of something yellow on my pajamas right over my right nipple. The first time I noticed the stain, I thought it was from something I had eaten or drank the night before. But when I saw it again the next morning on a clean t-shirt I had worn to bed, I wondered if it had come from my breast. I lifted my shirt and squeezed the nipple with my thumb and forefinger. Sure enough, out came a drop of yellowish fluid. I began researching breast conditions on the internet and found that this was not normal. I knew it was time to get a second opinion.

I made an appointment for another OBGYN in November 2002, who again told me that due to my age and family history, I had nothing to worry about. It felt to him like a cyst. I persisted though, and asked for a mammogram. The hospital denied my mammogram, and sent me for an ultrasound instead. For the third time, I was told that the lump was a cyst, it was common, and not to be concerned.

I was relieved. It wasn’t cancer. I knew this because three doctors now had told me so. I could put the fears that I now thought were unreasonable behind me. I was left in a state of comfortable ignorance while the cancer was left to grow unchallenged for about nine more months.

From November 2002 when I’d had the ultrasound, until June of 2003, the mass in my breast continued to grow into a thickness that filled half of my right breast. Based on what the doctors had told me, I thought this was nothing more than maybe a group of cysts developing around the original one. I decided to see a new physician because I was unhappy with the care I had received previously. I noticed the look of concern on my new doctor’s face as she started the breast exam and felt the large area, and my heart sank. She commented that it did not feel normal, and referred me to a breast surgeon, where I had a mammogram, ultrasound, and finally a biopsy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer the following Monday, August 18, 2003, eighteen months after first bringing the lump to the attention of my doctor.

When I received the phone call from the breast surgeon telling me I had cancer, my body went completely limp, while my mind raced with questions. Now what? What kinds of treatment would I endure? Was I going to die? Why had I wasted so much time in graduate school? Should I cash out my 401k? Why hadn’t the other doctors found cancer?

When we met with my oncologist, she outlined in detail my diagnosis. My cancer was Stage 3A – a mass over 5 centimeters with lymph node involvement. Her recommendations for treatment included chemotherapy followed by a mastectomy, radiation, and hormonal therapy. Despite all of these efforts, the American Cancer Society estimated my chances of surviving five years to be 56%.

This was a difficult piece of information to swallow. My chances of making it to 35 years old were only 50-50? All of the years of study and work that I had put into my career now seemed like a waste of time. I wouldn’t even have my student loans paid off by age 35! Would I live long enough to have children? Would I see them grow up? It was incredibly scary to think the time I had left could be so short.

Although I knew my husband Joe would be with me every step of the way, I had never felt so alone in my life. My mind went to some very dark places in the days that followed. I couldn’t believe that a disease so rare (less than half of one percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 30) had invaded my body. I was always healthy prior to this, no illnesses, no allergies, not even a broken bone. With no family history of breast cancer, it was just so unlikely that this could ever happen, yet it did. I had no idea what to expect.

What is the point of doing monthly breast exams, like we are told to do, when no one will listen when you feel a lump? I was angry. I had placed my confidence, blindly perhaps, in three doctors who told me that the mass was just a common cyst. I was angry at them for not performing the tests necessary for a proper diagnosis, and angry at myself for not trusting my instincts and insisting on proper care. I wanted to hold someone accountable. I wanted to prevent this from happening to another young woman. I wanted an explanation. I met with a malpractice attorney and initiated a medical malpractice lawsuit against my doctors and their medical institutions.

The delayed diagnosis of breast cancer is the most common type of medical malpractice lawsuit. Many young women go undiagnosed while their cancers continue to grow inside them because their doctors think they are simply too young to get breast cancer, or choose to roll the dice and not order necessary diagnostic tests in an effort to reduce costs.

Thankfully, I experienced a complete pathological response with chemotherapy, meaning there were no signs of cancer on the scans that were taken after my five treatments. However, because of the aggressiveness of my cancer, a mastectomy was still the recommended course of action. Following the mastectomy and reconstruction, I started a set of thirty-three radiation treatments and five years of hormonal therapy.

It’s been over five years since my diagnosis, and many understand this to mean that a person who has not experienced a recurrence for five years after the initial treatment has no cancer cells or undetected tumors in their body, and that the chance of getting cancer again is the same as anyone else. However, with breast cancer, people are known to have recurrences ten or fifteen years after the initial diagnosis, especially if their original tumor was fueled by estrogen, like mine was. It is difficult to live with the fear that the cancer will come back. What else can I say, other than I hope it doesn’t. But if it does, I will fight it harder than I did the first time. I have so much more to fight for now.

My experience with the delayed diagnosis of my cancer has taught me to be much more vigilant when it comes to medical care. I ask questions now, research a lot more, and form better partnerships with my healthcare providers.

Tina Koral is a freelance writer who has published her story of breast cancer and medical malpractice, If I Just Breathe. For more information, visit


hey mom.. take a picture of my hotel

everyone once in a great blue moon.. my kids actually ASK to have their pictures taken.. and when they do.. man I jump right on top of it.

D has finally discovered lego's.. and not just any lego they are circa 1982 legos!! whenever he asks to play with the legos he says "mommy can i play with your lego when you a lil baby"

yup.. they were my sisters legos then my legos and now my babies legos... kinda cool how they have stuck around in the family for 20 some odd years!