Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

 Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2007, on Father's day. We took Peter for a Duck Tour (a land and water tour) to celebrate the day. It was a beautiful day and Mattie loved watch our tour bus get transformed into a boat!

Quote of the day: Every human being must find his own way to cope with severe loss. The only job of a true friend is to facilitate whatever method he chooses. ~ Caleb Carr

I can't believe tomorrow is Sunday and there is no more Walk planning to do. The only thing left is set up and host it. Amazing how fast this last month has gone.

My parents tried to help divert my attention today since I have been quite wound up with planning. We all went shopping together, walked around, and had lunch. By the time I returned home, Peter had picked up Karen (my lifetime friend) from the train station. Karen and my dad did walk tasks with Peter, and my mom and I remained back at home.

The interesting part about this evening, is as I walking onto our deck, I spotted a bat flying low and over my head. Typically that would have freaked me out, but I took that as a sign instead. I told Peter that I just experienced a "Mattie Fly Over."

As I try to unwind for the night, I want to THANK all of our supporters and volunteers for making this Walk possible. We are very grateful and appreciative of your continued support and faith in us. Wish us luck tomorrow!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2008. Only two months prior to Mattie's diagnosis. What I remember about May with Mattie, was his tent caterpillar collections. He would come home from school with lots of caterpillars. We would put them in a jar, feed them oak leaves, clean out the jar every couple of days, and watch these fellows eat, spin a cocoon, and then transform into moths. We did this for several years. In fact, just last month Peter was helping to clean up and threw out one of Mattie's caterpillar jars. I saw it in the trash and I immediately pulled it out. At the time when Mattie was alive I really did not like the whole caterpillar thing. But now that he is gone, I miss this spring ritual we did together.


Quote of the day: Tearless grief bleeds inwardly. ~ Christian Nevell Bovee




I began my morning bright and early. At 5:30am to be exact. Really NOT my hour. I got to the Hospital by 7:15am, and the irony is I know my way around the hospital as if it were my home. That is because it was my home for over a year. When we first came to Georgetown University Hospital in July of 2008, I couldn't find my way from building to building. I was so disoriented that many times if I had to traverse from one building to the next, I would go outside and walk the periphery of the building. Now however, I know all the hallways that connect from one place to another. A scary notion! I also can't help but remember what life was like living in the hospital. In fact each time I return there now, I know that at the end of my visit, I can leave there and go home. Unlike the hundreds of patients who are not as fortunate.

The presentation went well today. I had the opportunity to present with Brad (a brother of an Osteosarcoma Survivor) and Sarah (the mother of premature twin daughters). Featured in the picture are Brad, me, Shannon (the coordinator of the Family Centered Care Grand Round), and Sarah. In attendance at the event were also several of Mattie's nurses and one of Mattie's PICU residents. It is hard to believe that Amanda is now graduating, but it was evident to me that Mattie impacted her life. I have a feeling for those medical professionals who interacted with Mattie, their perspectives on the effective way to treat a patient has been expanded. Mattie had a way of making those around him rise to the challenge. Amanda was definitely one of our great residents who just got Mattie.

We also saw Mattie's case manager, Catherine (who processed all our insurance claims and helped us in extraordinary ways get all the in home medications and equipment we needed), and Mattie's social worker, Denise, who grew to love Mattie. Mattie's picture is still on her wall of fame. Meaning she felt he was going to grow up and accomplish great things! We also saw Ashley. Ashley is now a nurse educator, however, at the time she was a PICU nurse. Mattie happened to like Ashley and whenever she was working, he would try to find a way to capture her attention. We recalled the time he had us blow up a glove balloon and attach it to his remote control car. He then sent the balloon down the hallway on the car with a message on it reading.... I love Ashley.

There were several ah ha moments today. I realized it was challenging for my parents to revisit the hospital. I naturally do this every month at least to attend board meetings. I have had to absorb the feeling of being back in this environment and passing by places we were with Mattie during treatment. It isn't easy, but I put it somewhere each and every month that I visit. I do not realize just what I put myself through, until I observe it in someone else. For my parents, being back at Georgetown, hearing my speech and then seeing Mattie's video was overwhelming. I understand their feelings and do internalize how this makes me feel.

I addition the other ah ha moment for the many of the medical personnel today was that the pain we (meaning parents of a sick child) experienced doesn't end once it is over. For many of us, whether our child survived or died, the pain continues. It is a part of us and it is a lifelong struggle. I understand this completely, and therefore I sometimes assume others working in the hospital get this as well. But this isn't the case. Which only furthers my case, regarding the importance of psychological and emotional support and follow up post treatment.

I included my speech below in case you want to read it. This is the 11 minute speech. For those of you interested in reading the 30 minute speech which is much more poignant, just let me know. As Saturday approaches, it means we are only ONE day away from the Walk!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Testimonial at Grand Rounds - May 20, 2011

Good Morning. My name is Victoria Sardi-Brown. I am here to tell you the story of how my husband and I lost the most precious thing in our lives, our seven year old son, and only child, Mattie. It is our hope to give his loss purpose and meaning and that our experiences will help and inspire you as you continue your fine work with pediatric patients and their families.


Mattie had so many strengths, such as his sense of humor, his observational skills, his ability to understand how things worked (mind you at age two he was disassembling and resembling his hot wheel cars with a screwdriver), his level of empathy for others was beyond his years, and his vivacious and veracious need to have fun was especially contagious since he was good at convincing others to participate in his antics.

I must admit prior to Mattie developing cancer, I hated hospitals. I hated their antiseptic look and feel, and how they smelled. However, after spending 14 months living at Georgetown University Hospital, my opinion about hospitals has changed. Mattie was not only treated at Georgetown, but he died here as well. In many respects, coming here is like visiting sacred ground, because when I walk your hallways and interact with your staff I feel in a way that I am reconnecting with my son.

Mattie's cancer was very aggressive and many doctors from other well known cancer institutions believed that he should have received palliative care rather than surgery and high dosage chemotherapy. Georgetown's Pediatric Hem/Onc clinic, under the direction of Dr. Aziza Shad, was not only willing to treat Mattie, but they instilled hope into our lives when we needed it most. Georgetown's decision gave us 14 more precious months with Mattie. During which time we went on two trips to New York City, we celebrated holidays together, his seventh birthday, and his first trip to the circus.

In July of 2008, Mattie was six years old and attended a tennis camp with his friend. Toward the end of the two week experience he complained of pain in his right arm. When the symptoms got worse, I decided to have Mattie examined by his pediatrician. I will never forget that day or the x-ray results that revealed Mattie had Osteosarcoma.

Thanks to our family friend, Dr. Bob Henshaw, an orthopedic surgeon, we were immediately connected to Georgetown and the Lombardi Pediatric Clinic. Mattie's official diagnosis was Multifocal Synchronous Osteosarcoma. After extensive testing we learned that Mattie had four bone tumors in his extremities. It was at that point that discussions about school, soccer practices, and play dates were instantaneously replaced with talk of chemotherapy, limb salvaging surgeries, IVs, and anti-emetics.

On August 7, 2008 (only 16 days after diagnosis!), Mattie began his 13 months of treatment including high dosage chemotherapies such as Doxorubicin, Cisplatin, Methotrexate, Ifosfamide, and Etoposide. On October 20 and then on November 12 of 2008, Mattie underwent limb-salvaging surgeries and a bone graft and then on June 15, 2009, only seven months later, Mattie had his third major surgery, a sternotomy, to remove the nine tumors found in his lungs.

This is only the list of medical procedures Mattie courageously endured. However, what you should also know was post-surgery Mattie was not only fighting cancer, but he was learning to cope with profound disabilities since he could no longer walk, run, dress or toilet himself. As a result, it wasn't surprising that Mattie developed clinical depression, anxiety, and medical posttraumatic stress disorder, which made his daily existence much more challenging, volatile, and heartbreaking to observe. Though the effects of anti-depressants and anxiolytics on children undergoing chemotherapy are not well researched, Mattie's symptoms were severe enough to require such interventions.

In August of 2009, after only six weeks off of treatment, scan results revealed that Mattie's cancer had spread throughout his body. At that point, our conversations turned to palliative care and end of life care, and any discussions or thoughts of a cure simply disappeared.

Mattie's battle with cancer and his death has had a profound impact on the lives of my husband and myself. So much so that two months after Mattie's death, in November of 2009, we created the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to address the psychosocial needs of children and families living with childhood cancer. In accordance with this mission, we are hosting our annual pediatric cancer awareness walk this Sunday, May 22, in Alexandria, VA. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to give to the Childlife department at Georgetown University Hospital.

I stand before you today with three hats on. I am a member of the Georgetown Pediatric Parent Advisory Board, I am the co-founder of the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, and I am a licensed mental health professional and educator. In all of my positions, the importance of family centered care is a priority. From my experience, there are four key factors I would like to share with you regarding family centered care. For it is these points which make the difference between a good versus bad hospital experience for many families.

FIRST FACTOR

The first factor is the importance of understanding and advocating for the psychosocial issues and needs faced by your pediatric patients and their families. Though sick children are brought to the hospital to be treated for their physical illness, the treatment and the environment can have psychological and emotional consequences on every family member.

I would like to share two examples from Mattie's experience to help illustrate my point. From the time of diagnosis, Mattie was very scared of CT scans and MRI machines. We discussed these fears with Mattie's oncologist and the importance of sedation during these procedures. However, our disagreement over this issue was resolved ONLY after Mattie and I were accompanied for a scan one day by a Childlife specialist and a nurse. Both professionals reported that scanning Mattie without sedation was inhumane based on his fears. Psychological issues impact treatment, the overall health of your patient, and they most definitely affect the patient-doctor relationship. If children feel you do not understand their needs and concerns and advocate for these needs, they will quickly lose trust in you. Without trust, your effectiveness as a treatment provider is minimal at best.

The second example pertains to Mattie's development of medical post traumatic stress disorder. After Mattie's second major limb salvaging surgery, he had several difficult weeks of recovery at home. During that overwhelming time, I alerted Mattie's doctors to the behaviors I was observing. Mattie had all the classic signs of PTSD such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”), feeling jumpy and easily startled, nightmares, and was detached from others. Yet despite my best attempt to explain what I was clearly seeing, the thinking was this was just Mattie's reaction to the pain medication. Of course this thinking quickly changed when I brought Mattie in for a clinic appointment and the doctors got to observe Mattie for themselves.

Children and their family members rely on you to advocate for the psychological support services within the hospital that we need and we also rely on you to diligently and effectively integrate these services as part of the overall medical treatment plan.

SECOND FACTOR

The second factor I would like you to consider is your role in empowering your pediatric patients and their families in the healthcare process. There are two observations I want to share with you. The first observation has to do with the way a child's scan and procedure results are delivered to family members. I will never forget the first scan result I received, it was delivered in such a horrible way, that I remember it quite vividly today. Mattie was inpatient and I happened to be in the hallway of the PICU when I observed a team of people headed my way. I understood immediately that bad news was about to be delivered. It is my hope that you will consider the importance of how news is delivered and that you will empower your families by asking them ahead of time what format and which professionals they would like in the room with them when they receive scan and procedure results.

The second observation pertains to the timing of certain tests and procedures. When scheduling a non-emergency x-ray or EKG for example, the medical team needs to weigh the consequences of awakening an inpatient child at 4:30am for this procedure using a mobile machine. Instead, children and families should be empowered to help make the decision as to when these procedures will be performed.

THIRD FACTOR

The third factor that I would like you to consider is the importance of providing positive feedback to your pediatric patients and their families and delivering messages without judgment. The daily stresses associated with caring for a sick child are too numerous to mention here, but the positive feedback I received from many medical professionals over the course of Mattie's treatment kept me going on some very difficult days.

Receiving feedback is crucial to the emotional health of your patients and family members, but there were times when I perceived the input as judgmental. For example, soon after Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, many of the medical personnel started using the phrase, "new normal." They were trying to tell me that once the initial shock of the diagnosis was processed, I would eventually accept cancer in our lives and find a way to integrate it into our daily living. Though I certainly understand the theory behind this premise, I can tell you that the whole notion of the term "new normal" incenses me especially when relating it to a life threatening illness. There is NOTHING normal or acceptable about your child developing cancer. Your life changes in an instant and as a parent you may find a way to accept this news, cope with it, and continue living, but to think that life will be NEW or NORMAL is insensitive to say to a parent. If given the option, no one would select this "new normal" for their child or their family. Each child and family may interpret your feedback and advice differently, but ultimately what we all can relate to is your kindness, compassion, and humanity.

FOURTH FACTOR

The final factor I would like you to consider is remembering why you chose the medical helping profession. For so many of your pediatric families who spend weeks and months living in the pediatric wards, you are our only connection to the outside world. Which is why when you interact with us it is imperative for you to tell us your name, what department you work in, and your title, since so many of us do not understand the hierarchy or chain of command within a hospital setting. Medical personnel enter our home within the hospital all day long and we are giving you access to our most cherished possessions, our children, therefore, making the time to connect with us is important and appreciated.

On September 8, 2009, Mattie died at Georgetown. After we were given an hour or so alone with Mattie, we noticed his nurses, doctors, and support staff began entering his room. When it was all said and done we had at least 20 people sitting in a circle around Mattie. They were there to show their support, to share a reflection on how Mattie touched their lives, and to simply be human. I will never forget Mattie's amazing nurses and doctors, mainly because they were not only competent and skilled professionals, but they were able to connect and help me under the worst of life's circumstances. As a physician your medical care toward a patient may be quantifiable, but what you say, how you act, and make us feel are remembered for a lifetime.

You heard about Mattie's life, now I want to give you the opportunity to see what he looked like. I end my testimony with a video we created of Mattie's amazing seven years. It is my hope you will see his energy, strength, and passion for life in each picture. Pay particular attention to the photos which illustrate his entertaining version of physical therapy and all the other antics he was involved in at the hospital. Thank you for listening and for allowing me to share our story today!




May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2007. Mattie just got back from his school's Fall Festival. As you can see, he was all in school colors, and got his face painted to match. He had a great time and I distinctly remember the fun he had with his kindergarten buddies on that day. I selected this picture tonight, because where the Foundation Walk will be held this Sunday, is the same place the Fall Festival was held. Walking the school's field and the track, seems to just remind me of Mattie.

Quote of the day:  It seems the misfortune of one can plow a deeper furrow in the heart than the misfortune of millions. ~ Kirby Larson

Peter and I did a walk through today with our logistics team for the Walk. It is a very powerful feeling to be surrounded by this team of energetic and 'can do' attitude people. I am blessed to have them all in my life. It was another non-stop kind of planning day. Toward the end of the day, Peter and I headed to the airport to pick up my parents. My parents come into town for each Walk!

Tonight's posting is brief because I have to be at Georgetown University Hospital at 7:15am! For those of you who know me, you know I HATE the morning! So this is a special kind of torture to get up extra early when I am already quite tired. I will fill you in tomorrow about the experience of participating in a medical grand round. I shared my speech today with my lifetime friend, Karen's mom. She asked for a copy of it. So I sent it. I sent her the first version and then the condensed version. What I did not expect was she wrote back and told me that the first version should be published! It made me feel good, because it was a labor of love to write! Wish me luck.  

May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007, when Mattie was in kindergarten. Sitting in front of Mattie was his "construction club" creation. Mattie's kindergarten teacher hosted an after school program, called construction club. This was one of Mattie's favorite things to do after school, and he became quite talented with paper towel tubes, tape, and other things captured from around the house. In many ways, construction club gave him the skills and interests to take on several creative projects at the hospital while battling cancer. Mattie created many, many boxed like structures while at Georgetown Hospital, and I think he did this because he developed this love in kindergarten. Needless to say, Mattie's creativity helped us get through some very challenging days while in the hospital.


Quote of the day: Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver. ~ Sophocles

We are now only days away from the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Walk, on Sunday, May 22. It is hard to believe something that you have been planning for months is finally arriving. The Walk is filled with many mixed emotions for me. Naturally I am excited about the event and for the energy generated this year by our community partners and sponsors. I am equally happy that we can feature Lauren and Noah, two pediatric cancer survivors who have not only battled the horrific disease of Osteosarcoma, but they use their experiences to help bring awareness to others in their community. Nonetheless, the Walk is bittersweet for me as well. After all, the first Walk in 2009 was held in Mattie's honor, when Mattie was still alive. Though Mattie is no longer with us, his Walk continues, his memory remains, but the hurt of him not being physically present is ever so sharp while planning the Walk. In many ways the Walk keeps me busy and very engaged. However, post-Walk, though the stresses of coordinating and planning subside, different sorts of challenges arise.

I met up with Ann and Tina for lunch today. We talked about Foundation Walk set up and I shared the event map with them and walked through how I see things flowing. After lunch, Tina and I went for ice cream. The world seems much better over ice cream, or at least it does for me. Tina sent me the link below, as she and our friend, Jane, are working hard at promoting the Walk in local papers and calendars.

http://www.alexandrianews.org/2011/05/faces-of-hope%E2%80%9D-walk-to-support-kids-with-cancer/

This evening Peter and I went to ABC Imaging to pick up all 30 posters that our friend, Luda, graciously did for the Foundation's Walk. The posters are incredible, and I am looking forward to seeing participants' reaction to seeing all 26 Faces of Hope around the track this year!

May 17, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 -- Mattie died 88 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007 in California. Mattie was visiting my parents, and one of his favorite places to visit was Griffith Park's Travel Town. I am not sure who liked Travel Town more, Mattie or the rest of us. It is a train museum that captures the heart and imagination. It is a very hands on place where you can touch, climb on, and move parts on all the trains. As you can see, Mattie was having a ball, climbing through the train cars and playing with all the gadgets!


Quote of the day: Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved. ~ Iris Murdoch

It was another busy day in Foundation Walk headquarters. In the midst of working, I received several wonderful emails that perked me right up. The first email was from a former Arthur Andersen colleague of Peter's. Todd wrote to us to let us know that his company, Dominion Business Solutions, wants to be a corporate sponsor for this year's Walk, as well as wants to be an on-going sponsor of future walks. Dominion Business Solutions is a management and IT consulting services firm. I was deeply touched by Todd's sentiments and told him I couldn't think of a better way to honor Mattie's memory and battle with cancer. Interesting that I would receive such powerful news on a Tuesday, marking the 88th week of Mattie's death. I went online to Dominion Business Solutions' website and found this link. I was very honored that Mattie Miracle was included in their fine list of organizations "fighting cancer!" You can check this out at the following link: http://dominion-solutions.com/whoweare/causes

This afternoon, I received this wonderful picture from our friend Debbie. Debbie's son, Tim, was in kindergarten with Mattie, and Debbie is also one of our children's activity coordinators at the Walk. Each year, Debbie and her team works hard to create fun and exciting things for the children to do at the event, and in so many ways this is a labor of love that she takes on and does so well. The picture captures her children, Eliza, Alex, and Tim working on handcrafted signs for the Walk after school. What I love about this picture is it captures children helping children with cancer. The children are energized about the walk, and all this energy and creativity will help us have a successful walk. If the walk is successful, yes it is good for the Foundation, but it ultimately benefits children with cancer and their families at Georgetown University Hospital.

Later on today, I received an email from a woman I do not know. She wrote to our general Foundation email address. She wanted to know more about the Walk. Particularly whether the event was open to the public. I responded right back to her and tried to give her an overview of the Foundation and the goal of the walk. I also outlined for her the activities and schedule of the walk. Her response to me was absolutely adorable. She thanked me for personally responding to her, she told me she was coming with her checkbook, and then said, "I am sure that you have made him (Mattie) as proud of you and your accomplishments, as he made you so proud of him." I was very moved by this comment, and though this woman doesn't know me, this comment will remain in my mind.

It was a terribly windy day in Washington, DC and our plants went flying, cracking flower pots, and destroying plants in the process. So when Peter got home from work, we had quite a clean up job. Especially since his lemon tree went flying and took down several rose bushes and other things in the process. Though this wasn't what we had planned for the evening, it did get us both outside and away from work for a while.

I end tonight's posting with a message from Mattie's oncologist and our friend. Kristen wrote, "Looking forward to walking with you on Sunday. Thinking of you this Tuesday and everyday."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007 on the Potomac River. Peter and Mattie were always having weekend adventures together, and as you can see Mattie loved being on the water. Though they usually went without me, on this particular occasion I was asked to come along on their fishing excursion and Mattie gave me several pointers about how to hold a fishing pole and what to do if I caught a fish.

Quote of the day: You incorporate the loss into the inner landscape of who you are. ~ unknown

Since I never left the house on Sunday, I made up for it today. I met up with one of the teachers from Mattie's preschool. Though Mattie never experienced Lois as a teacher, our paths have crossed over the years, and when we met each other in the grocery store last week, we decided to schedule a time to actually get to know each other better. Despite all the rain Washington, DC is getting, this morning, the weather was very pleasant. Lois and I chatted for quite some time, while walking. We walked over 5 miles together. Funny how fast time can go by while talking. It is a wonderful way to exercise and connect with someone. I am happy Lois suggested we get together because we had a very stimulating dialogue and discussed the impact of a loss on one's life and how this loss can transform you in a way.

After this lovely walk, I focused on Walk items for the rest of the day. I met up with Peter for lunch and thankfully we took separate cars. As I was leaving to continue on with my chores, I quickly deduced that I couldn't start my car. So I called Peter and had him come back and use his jumper cables to start my car. Naturally once he did that, we brought the car in. But it is ironic that this would happen today, and I am very grateful that Peter was back in town and also in close proximity to easily help.

I will spare you the rest of the details of my day, but suffice it to say, the Foundation Walk's preregistration numbers are looking good and we are well on our way to meeting our financial goal of $20,000. We very much appreciate the contributions which are coming in, and your generosity and compassion for helping children and their families with cancer. You are helping us make a difference!

May 16, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tonight's picture was taken in September of 2007. This was Mattie's first day of kindergarten. Before we jumped into the car to head to school, I wanted to capture that moment in time. It was an exciting and at the same time daunting day. I did not like giving up control when Mattie was involved, and yet I knew he had to go to school and grow and develop. This was the start of a wonderful year for Mattie, but in my wildest imagination I would never have guessed we would only have one year at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School.

Quote of the day: Mourning is not the end of the relationship. We meet their absence everywhere. ~ Unknown

Today felt like I was living in the land of the lost. I spent the entire day at home, and basically glued to the computer. My first task I worked on was taking a 30 minute script and trying to cut it down to 10 minutes. That may sound like an easy task, but it WASN'T. It actually took me over eight hours to do this, and I timed myself many times, until I finally got it down to 11 minutes. Wow! The sad part is the original script I wrote for the medical grand rounds was powerful and full of substance. It is hard to deliver anything really meaningful in 10 minutes. So hopefully I was successful with my message.

While I was working on this, Peter was running around accomplishing Walk tasks. In the midst of this, he also bought more plants for me and as you can see the geraniums he purchased are quite bold and happy.



















Though I never left the house today, Peter went outside and took pictures of our bird visitors. I love my red headed finch family, and Peter captured the female and male pair so well!













The birds just love Peter's garden in the common's area, and they were all hanging out there watching him garden today. I told Peter I would love to add a bird bath and bird feeder to this area, because I believe it would attract even more of a bird following than we currently have.

After a full day of script writing and Walk tasks, I finally took a break and had dinner outside on our deck. With both Mattie foundations going in the background, our beautiful plants, and the garden string lights I bought, the whole deck area reminds me of a secret garden. It was the only moment of peace I had the entire day!