The awesome way this girl thanked her parents for the sacrifices they made.
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Minute Maid

To say it was hard for Juan and Kathy Peña to leave their home country of Guatemala is a massive understatement.

"I remember thinking, 'I don’t know when I’m going to come back,'" recalls Kathy. "And my family’s everything, so it’s hard."

The couple came to the United States in 2006 so Juan could study and pursue a career in motion graphics and video production.


"We sold everything we had just to get enough money to pay the tuition," explains Juan. "It was a leap of faith."

Juan and Kathy Peña. All photos via Minute Maid.

On top of stretching finances for Juan's school, the couple had trouble getting pregnant.

The doctors had told Juan he had only a 1% chance of being a parent, so they thought it might never happen. But out of the blue, Kathy got pregnant with what they nicknamed their "miracle baby."

While it was a dream come true for the Peñas, the doctors told them the pregnancy was high-risk, which meant Kathy had to be on bed rest for the majority of it. So not only was Juan trying to complete his schooling, he was taking care of his pregnant wife at the same time.

"I knew in my heart we would be all right because we had each other," says Kathy.

Kathy and Juan during Kathy's pregnancy.

Thankfully, Kathy's pregnancy went smoothly, and Juan managed to keep up with his education throughout.

Soon, they were holding their daughter Elizabeth in their arms.

"Our daughter, our miracle. We couldn’t believe it when we had her in our arms," recalls Kathy.

But the blessings didn't stop there. In 2015, they welcomed their son Joseph into the world.

Elizabeth and Joseph drawing together.

Today, thanks to Juan and Kathy's inexhaustible faith and perseverance, they have two happy, healthy children who have everything they need and more.

Juan hopes their life up to this point inspires his kids to work hard and keep dreaming big.

"I think dreams and purpose are the things that drive us as humans," says Juan.

Kathy's also been able to pursue her ambition of becoming a designer of hand-crafted party supplies.

Crafting is Kathy's passion, so being able to throw herself into it has revitalized her sense of purpose.

Her creativity sparked an idea in Elizabeth. She wanted to make something really special for her parents.

Elizabeth's future diploma.

So she started putting together a colorful display filled with hand-drawn pictures of her family, festive hats, and decorations — just like her mom's.

It included one extra meaningful piece of paper: Elizabeth's future veterinarian degree — her dream profession.

When her parents saw what she'd made, they were overwhelmed with emotion. Her mother was so proud to see her daughter showcasing her creativity, and her father knew just what to do with the certificate.

"I will save this, and then we will see it in the future being a reality."

Juan holds Elizabeth's future degree.

Taking a leap of faith isn't easy, but the Peñas' story reminds us that it can be more than worth it in the end.

While there were times when they weren't sure they were making the right decisions as parents, seeing their kids develop lofty aspirations that are totally achievable is all the assurance they need.

The family has a comfortable life with so many opportunities at their fingertips. And it only happened because Juan and Kathy made a decision to finish what they started and stuck to it. While that's a reward all on its own, their daughter showing them what their efforts did for her was the sweetest icing on the cake.

Then she said this, which left them speechless: "I’m so proud of you because you work so hard."

Watch the Peña's whole story here:

They thought they could never have children. And then their miracle babies arrived.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, September 18, 2017
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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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