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

April 14, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009. Mattie was featured in this photo driving a ride-on car. A car which Mattie named, Speedy Red. Mattie became so ill and then we learned that he was dying, that we never had the time to fulfill a "Make a Wish" request. So instead, because Mattie had always wanted a ride-on car, as his last wish, my parents bought him this car. Speedy has many memories for us and I recall riding in the passenger seat with Mattie, as he was learning to drive. But Mattie was a natural driver, he just understood the mechanics of driving. Mattie drove Speedy Red when he was quite sick, usually with oxygen attached to his nose and a pain pump attached to his chest. But during his down moments, I would carry him outside to get some fresh air, and ride Speedy around. Speedy brought him joy and excitement in his last days and made us forget about cancer for just a short while. Since Mattie died, Speedy has been sitting on our deck. We had Speedy covered in plastic, but sitting idle and in the elements for two and half years, Speedy was in very bad shape. In the past, I considered donating Speedy, and I also considered putting Speedy in storage. But today, after assessing Speedy's poor condition, Speedy was dismantled and thrown away. This was a hard decision, one which I couldn't watch or participate in. Though I have been able to donate other things of Mattie's, Speedy was not something I could part with or donate. So tonight, our deck is without Speedy, and the car has left a huge void on our lives and deck. Peter saved the steering wheel and horn, and those things remain with us.


Quote of the day: Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.  ~ Chinese Proverb


We spent a good portion of the day cleaning out our deck and balcony. They were both a mess, filled with bird seed, shells from bird food, and obviously a host of other things. After the clean out, we then painted both spaces. Needless to say, we are both physically exhausted tonight after today's project. The funny part is the more projects we take on, the more I realize needs to be done.

This evening, I went to see the ballet, Alice in Wonderland at the Kennedy Center with Ann and her family. This is a world premiere of this ballet, performed by the Washington Ballet. As I was watching this ballet unfold so many things were going through my mind. But the main one was that I felt this was very Wizard of Oz like! In fact, when I got home tonight I read the choreographer's (Septime Webre) notes. Mr. Webre wrote, "I have chosen to create a prologue to this adaptation of Lewis Carroll's work by presenting a fictionalized version of Alice and her odd-ball family members, who reappear as other characters throughout her journey in Wonderland (for example, Alice's overbearing mother becomes the Queen of Hearts and her kooky twin sisters become Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum)."

As we know is true, this same presentation of a dream occurs in the Wizard of Oz, where all the characters in Oz are based on Dorothy's real life relationships in Kansas. This was only one of the many things that struck me. I admit that I am a traditionalist and I prefer very tradition ballets, where there is dancing, beautiful scores, and a plot. A plot that usually involves emotional content and gets one to look introspectively. Alice in Wonderland is a tale that has been transformed into a ballet, which is geared really toward children. The character of Alice on stage tonight had SO much energy, it almost became overwhelming to watch her. It was one acrobatic feat after another, almost geared toward today's generation that expects non-stop movement and activity. I know we live in a fast paced world, in which our entertainment unfortunately follows suit (art imitates life). But I am saddened to see this frenzy and chaos move into the world of ballet. An art form which to me is beautiful and special and when it gets muddied with acrobatics, stunts, and cirque du soliel type floor routines, I get upset.

The audience loved the performance (and I realize I am atypical, since I usually do not gravitate to that which is popular) and I included the Washington Post's review below of the ballet as well. Despite getting a good review, what struck me immediately about the article is there is VERY little discussion about the actual dancing in the performance. That is because there is a whole lot more going on than dancing.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/septime-webres-trippy-alice-in-wonderland-is-dazzling/2012/04/13/gIQAW7sCGT_story.html

 

April 13, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. Mattie was in the clinic getting his weekly dosage of MTP-PE, a form of immunotherapy. As was typical after the infusion of this drug, Mattie developed a fever and rigors (which are intense chills and shaking). As we were riding out the aftermath of the treatment, Kristen came into the exam room to assess how Mattie was doing. Jenny (Mattie's art therapist) snapped a picture of all of us together. For my readers who are curious and want to put a face to a name, this is Kristen! Kristen is a very unique doctor who is not only competent but also assesses people and their situations very well. Which is an imperative skill to have when trying to help families living with childhood cancer.


Quote of the day: Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling. ~ Margaret B. Runbeck


Just when I think it isn't possible for my days to get any more hectic, I always surprise myself. I had a three hour licensure board meeting this morning, which as usual is NEVER boring. Some of the ethical cases that come before the board at times just shock me. Today was no different!

After the meeting, something inside of me told me to drive to the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation mailbox. Thank goodness I followed that instinct because when I got there I found out that the post office closed our box. Naturally I was beside myself especially since we did not receive any notification that this was going to happen. The post office typically emails me when there is mail in the box. We set up that feature, which has worked very well. Well that is up until now. With the symposium and my own health issues, checking the mailbox toward the end of March weekly wasn't in my purview (especially when I did not receive my usual email notifications). As I tried to rectify this issue today, I found that only one individual in the post office was willing to help me. The other two employees dismissed me because their computer system was down and they did not know how to renew my mailbox using a check. Fortunately my favorite postal employee was there and was willing to help me. Since their system couldn't accept credit cards, I had to write a check. Based on the kind of day I was having, I naturally had no checks with me. So I had to go home to get one. Keep in mind that my licensure board meeting was in North East Washington, DC, the post office is in Arlington, VA, and I live in Washington, DC. So literally I drove all in circles in a short period of time.

I wanted this mailbox issue addressed and completed today, since it is crucial for the Foundation to have a functioning address. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve all our mail and we are back to business as usual. But I have learned that I can't rely on their electronic reminder messages, nor can I rely on their renewal notices to be sent. So now I have renewal reminders in my blackberry and on my calendar at home! 

After I got that resolved, I went to visit Ann's mom, Mary. I was under some sort of delusion today that after my meeting, I was going to have a peaceful lunch and read a book, and then visit Mary on my way home. Well the day did not turn out that way at all, and I landed up not eating for most of the day. However, I had promised to visit Mary, and therefore kept to my word.

While all of this was happening, I sent many email messages back and forth to our Foundation Raffle chair, Carolyn. I had to break the news to Carolyn that we had more raffle donations to process from our mailbox today. To be precise, there were 15 additional items that had to be dealt with and added to our raffle selling paperwork. That may not sound difficult, but when I thought the baskets were already complete this sent me for a tail spin. Carolyn has been working on getting preraffle sales ready and these new additions added a kink to the process. If I were Carolyn, I would have lost it. But instead, Carolyn welcomed the items and was determined to find a way to make this work. I really needed her can do spirit today, because I was livid and on overload. It is now 10:45pm, and I can say that the raffle is back on track, and I feel that Carolyn and I are ready to take the raffle to another level. We could easily hold an auction for the Foundation in the near future.

I would like to end tonight's posting with a link I received from my friend Susan. Susan introduced me to Caine's Arcade. There is something about Caine that reminds us of Mattie. Perhaps it is his creativity, his ability to build things, and his love of cardboard boxes. To me this is a feel good story. You have to watch the whole 11 minutes of the clip to see the beauty of community spirit and the power of facebook.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2012/0412/Caine-s-Arcade-sweet-film-starring-pint-size-entrepreneur-goes-viral-video

April 12, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009 in the hallway of the pediatric care units at the Hospital. To my faithful readers, you may be able to guess immediately what was happening in this picture. To others, it may just look bizarre. But this was a scene out of a typical physical therapy session with Mattie. Anna, Mattie's physical therapist, (with the purple scrubs) is a stellar professional. Anna quickly learned that with Mattie, she had to make therapy interesting, challenging, and fun otherwise, it wouldn't capture his attention. Mind you therapy is also hard work and can be painful, therefore, most children need incentives to do it. You can't rationalize with children in the same way as you would an adult. Mattie had several therapy partners in crime. Behind Mattie, in the picture, pushing the IV, is of course Linda (Mattie's Child Life specialist). The next crucial person in this equation was Meg. Meg is the young woman all the way on the right in the white shirt. Meg was a Child Life intern at the Hospital who understood Mattie immediately when she met him. Meg was a force, not unlike Mattie! Meg became Mattie's racing partner. She would pretend to race with him around the unit, in order to get him to walk and use his walker, which he hated. Yet Mattie enjoyed the camaraderie, and Meg was excellent at hamming it up, and egging him on. We all need a "Meg" when doing physical therapy. It is scenes like this which illustrate one of the many reasons why Mattie Miracle feels it is imperative to support Child Life.


Quote of the day: Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us daily. ~ Sally Koch


Like Koch's quote so eloquently states, it is the small things that truly matter. I small gesture like holding a door open for a person, smiling at someone, sending a friend an email, or helping in some other small way can make the difference in someone's day. Today I had lunch with my friend Christine (Campbell's mom). A break both of us needed, and most likely we wouldn't have taken without the support of the other. Christine and I both like food and we tried a new restaurant together, shared a ton of food, and had a good time catching up.

At lunch, Christine took out a chocolate bar from her purse and gave it to me. She wasn't giving me the chocolate, on the contrary her son, Campbell was the giver of the treat. Campbell donates to the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation every year on Mattie's birthday, however, in addition to his financial contribution, he also wanted me to know that he supports me. What better way than by giving me chocolate. I don't know about you, but to me this is a beautiful and very meaningful gesture from a nine year old. A gesture I won't forget anytime soon.

Lunch was the highlight of my day. Because for the majority of the day, I have been battling a wild headache. It started while I was on vacation and it hasn't subsided. The headache is so severe that it is hard to keep my eyes open. In addition, Patches (our cat) is not doing well, and keeping us up throughout the night. Despite being in a fatigued state, I have a licensure board meeting tomorrow, and had to read through a ton of ethical cases this afternoon. So I am signing off for now in hopes that I feel better tomorrow.

April 11, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken on April 2 of 2009 (2 days before Mattie's last birthday!). I remember that day vividly. For it was on this day that I learned Mattie's cancer had spread to his lungs and we now had another problem on our hands. When cancer metastasizes while on aggressive treatment, that is never a good sign. That was only part I of the problem that day. Part II was I finally confronted Mattie's oncologist and did what I should have done for months, which was give him his walking papers. It was on April 2, that Kristen officially became Mattie's oncologist. However, she truly had been helping us for many months prior! While I was in battle with Mattie's doctor, fortunately the "Magic Man" or better known as Bob Weiman (Mattie's head of the lower school) came to visit Mattie in the hospital. Bob came to teach Mattie several magic tricks and then Mattie performed for an audience of his fans (such as Linda, Jenny, and Rev. Sharon) in the Child Life playroom. I will never forget after I dismissed Mattie's doctor, I was an emotional wreck and by the time Bob saw me, I was crying in every which direction. With that said, in all the months of intensity, I never broke down in front of Mattie. My goal was for him to see me in control, managing his situation, and having hope that he was going to get better. It was Mattie in the end who basically told me he was very sick and dying. My seven year old became the adult and I was helpless to fight the inevitable.

Quote of the day: The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because you are giving that part of your life that can never come back. ~Vaijayanti Gupte

My mom sent me tonight's quote and it resonated with me as soon as I opened it. I like this quote because I truly feel the sentiments described in it is the philosophy that runs my life. I may be lacking in many things and ways, but one thing, most people who know me realize is that I am very generous and giving of my time. Time to listen, time to connect, and time always to be a friend. But as Gupte points out, giving time away to others does mean that you will not be getting this part of your life back. So in a way, giving of one's time is a priceless gift, but one that is worth the investment. Because it is ONLY through time that the depths of a friendship and relationship can be earned and understood. 

This morning, I spent 90 minutes with Donna's kindergarten class. As I did last year, I asked the students to raise their hands if they thought of themselves as an artist. Last year, maybe 5 out of 15 children raised their hands in the first session. By the third session, every child had his/her hand raised! It was a beautiful feeling to have as a teacher, because it made me understand visually the impact I had on these children. Today's class was different! When I asked the question, every child's hand raised! So as the class moved along, I began assessing the challenges and inputs I could have on this group of students. We discussed colors, and what feelings colors can evoke. I illustrated this by playing a guessing game with them, in which I taped a color to the back of their teacher. Only the children could see the color, but Donna couldn't. She had to guess the color taped on her back by the emotions the children described after seeing the color. The children were all over the map as they described the color blue for Donna. But that was exactly the point. We all have an emotional reaction to colors, but this reaction is unique for each person. While red maybe a happy and perky color for me, it may be a color that symbolizes anger in another. The children loved the game and they also loved me reading Dr. Seuss' book, My Many Colored Days.

I went through my PowerPoint presentation on Picasso. The children learned Picasso was from Spain (I gave them a Spanish flag sticker to wear), that he was the master of shapes, and painted from his imagination. The children also learned that Picasso was very influenced by his emotions, which was why he was known to have a "blue" (sad) period of painting and a "rose" (happy) period of painting. The children saw many slides of Picasso's work and had a fun time trying to decipher shapes, objects, and the meaning in his cubist paintings.

After a solid explanation of Picasso and his works, I then developed a hands on project for the children. Each table of four children was given a piece of foam core. On the foam core was a tracing of one of Picasso's more simplistic paintings. The children then had to cooperate and collaborate together as they painted in and out of the lines to create a painting. I wanted the children to use their own imaginations to develop their painting, and then once they were done, I showed them the actual Picasso painting. It is interesting that even though they were given a stencil of Picasso's painting, their ultimate works were very different.  

This Picasso painting is entitled, Woman with a Hat. I took this painting and had Peter trace the outline of it onto four pieces of foam core. What the children basically saw in front of them today looked like a big coloring book page. There was an outline in black and white on the foam core, and their job was to color it in. Once the children completed their paintings, they got to compare their works to Picasso's. The irony is that I feel the children's art looks a lot like Matisse's style, who used vivid, bright, and happy colors in his pieces. We cover Matisse next week, but it seems to me that children are naturally drawn to Matisse.








This is the painting created by one of the four groups today. As you can see the colors are vibrant and the children actually used very Matisse like details to show off color, pattern, and shape. What caught my attention on this painting was the writing. It appears that there is an A and several Ts right in the center. When I first saw this at a quick glance, I swear it looked like it was spelling out Mattie. Or better yet it almost looked like how Mattie wrote his name. I actually went up to these letters to verify it wasn't Mattie. Which of course it was not.









This was the painting created by the second group. I personally love how there appears to be the start of another face at the bottom center of the creation. Keep in mind that these four groups weren't talking to each other while painting, but yet many of them decided to paint stripes and use polka dots on top of the colors already painted.













This was the painting created by the third group in the classroom. It may be hard to see this in the photograph, but when you see it in person, it almost looks like a piece painted by Van Gogh. The colors are thick and rich and simply remind me a bit of Starry Night (without all the swirls).













This was the painting created by the fourth group. The quality and texture of this painting are actually quite different from the other groups and yet its muted characteristics are charming and capture your attention. The group's use of color and patterns are so nicely done.


Once the painting portion of the class was over, we ended the session with fruit empanadas. The funny part is several of the children told me they did not want to try them, until they actually saw them. The name sounded intimidating, but it is hard to turn down a baked product with fruit in it. I stuffed the dough with cherries and apples. Last year the children did not like the cherry ones, and this year, every cherry one was gone!

After the class, I went to visit Ann's mom, Mary. Mary is quite sick with pneumonia, and I wanted to let her know I was thinking of her. When I got to her room, Mary was sleeping, but as soon as I started talking with Shayla (Mary's caregiver), Mary's eyes opened wide. Mary was unable to talk, but I could tell she was trying with her raspy voice to say something. Mary loves conversation, and I know she always enjoys hearing me talk with Shayla. This is one of the true ways I assess how Mary is doing. Her desire to want to engage and tune into conversations. Apparently in my description of my time away at the beach, I must have said something funny, and Mary cracked a smile. Which caused Shayla and I to laugh. It is the small victories, and putting a smile on someone's face who is so ill is just that!

When I got home this afternoon, Peter sent me an email with a link to a Georgetown Business School publication. Inside the publication was an article entitled, "Class Project Serves Cancer Patients and Families." This article was about Mattie Miracle and its publication date just jumped off the page to Peter....April 4, 2012 (Mattie's birthday!)
http://msb.georgetown.edu/story/1242678507534.html


I would like to end tonight's posting with a message from my friend and colleague. Nancy wrote, "I know that you are headed to Donna's class to give your wonderful lecture on Picasso. I know that it will be a huge success and will be a reminder of times with Mattie and others that have been missed. In just reading last night's entry, I see that the week away continued to be fraught with deep emotions and strain. It makes me sad to realize that your pain is so deep and yet you go on and accomplish so much. I do wish that you could relax a bit more and give your body time to heal. Your heart will never be the same, that I am clear about. However, to sustain your commitment to Mattie and Peter, you do need to take care of yourself physically. I am reminded that you still have no clear way to address this latest issue with your health and then there is the walk preparation...The Brown family continues to be so important to so many. One of my quirks is to check the counter of how many hits there are on the blog. It never ceases to amaze me how vital your writing has become to so many, myself included. Thinking of you everyday as Kristen stated and wanted to remind you that "I think you are so special and value you as my colleague, but, more my friend."

April 10, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 -- Mattie died 135 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2009 at Mattie's seventh and last birthday. Mattie celebrated his actual birthday in the Hospital surrounded by his close friends. Pictured with Mattie is Brandon. Brandon was Mattie's big buddy. Despite the age difference, these two were friends, and I think they both met a need in one another. Mattie looked up to Brandon but also felt that Brandon understood how he felt. Mattie did not let many people into his life in the hospital, particularly other patients. But Brandon was different. Brandon will always be a special person to me, and I know a part of Mattie lives on within him.

Quote of the day: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. ~ Albert Einstein

My close friend Karen today sent me an email that absolutely had me laughing. She basically told me my schedule in any given day is NUTS! As I sit down tonight and reflect on my day, I hate to admit it but Karen is sometimes correct! I began my day at Georgetown University Hospital. I met with Linda (Mattie's Child Life Specialist) and we brainstormed ideas about the Foundation's Walk. Linda is helping me with various walk components and I thoroughly appreciate her support and energy she brings to everything she does. After my meeting with Linda, I then met up with Brandon and Toni (Brandon's mom) at the hospital for lunch. I know many of my faithful readers ask me how Brandon is doing. Brandon is doing fine, he has no evidence of disease, and we hope that Brandon's physical battle with cancer will forever be behind him. However, Brandon does contend with late-effects from treatment and naturally there are also psychosocial issues with being a cancer survivor.

Toni and Brandon made a large birthday drive donation to Mattie Miracle, and soon, I will be compiling all the items we received and delivering them to the hospital. I had a lovely time catching up with Brandon and Toni, exchanging stories, and reflecting on our treatments together!

From the hospital, I then drove to Alexandria, where I met up with Donna, one of the kindergarten teachers at Mattie's school. While in Donna's classroom, I was visited by the "Magic Man" or better known as Mattie's head of the lower school, and Leslie, Mattie's kindergarten teacher. Leslie, Donna, and I had a wonderful chat about friendships, people, as well as grief. Though I do not talk with these women often, they got it right away when I told them that our trip away to the beach was fraught with all sorts of emotional issues. There is a great deal to be said for feeling understood, even when you know that another person can't possibly feel what you are going through. After I set up for tomorrow's art lecture and hands on activity of Picasso, Donna and I sat down, had tea and chatted. My visit to Mattie's school is always stimulating. I love learning about new technologies within the classroom, or new teaching styles, and tonight, I was introduced to "math trees." I attached a link of what a math tree looks like
http://www.icoachmath.com/math_dictionary/Tree_Diagram.html.

I also attached a picture of such a tree. Basically a math tree allows one to assess various possible choices or outcomes for an event. The case Donna and I were working on, involved figuring out how many different combinations of ice cream cones we could produce if the givens were that we had three different ice cream flavors and each cone had three scoops of ice cream on it. When Donna first spoke to me about this, my head started spinning. But then she took out the ice cream cut outs and I started fiddling with them. I never learned about math trees, I used almost a punnet square system to cross combinations when I was growing up. So I first had to see examples of a math tree to get the concept. At one point, I was going to call my mom and Karen and have them just tell me the answer. But I was persistent and finally got it. I was able to determine through a tree that if I went into an ice cream store and they only had three flavors to choose from, I could get those three flavors in at least 27 different scoop combinations on a cone. For the mathematically inclined I know this is simple.

When I got home this evening, I started baking goodies for the class tomorrow. After each lecture, I have the kids taste a snack reflective of the culture of the artist. So the first week when we cover Picasso, I make fruit filled empanadas for the children and in the second week when we cover Matisse, I bake for the kids pain au chocolat!

I would like to end tonight's blog with a message from our friend and Mattie's oncologist. Kristen wrote, "This last week has been rough on you I am sure. I was thinking of you both earlier today. I don't know how you lived in the hospital for nearly 13 months nor do I know how you give so much of yourselves each day to make the world a better place for children and families of children who have cancer. I feel so humbled by what you do, by what you have been through, and by what you continue to go through..I just wanted you to know. Thinking of you this Tuesday and everyday."

April 9, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2008, during Mattie's sixth birthday party. This was the last birthday Mattie celebrated cancer free. That year Mattie had a bowling party, and he requested to have a Scooby Doo cake. If you look closely the cake had the "Mystery Machine" (or van) on it along with Shaggy and Scooby Doo characters. Mattie loved those items on his cake, and the Mystery Machine, can still be found in his room even today. Mattie was actually quite ill at this birthday party, running an 101 fever. But he kept at it that day and was excited to be around his kindergarten and preschool friends. If you look at the heads of his friends that surround Mattie in this picture, you will hear the names of children you have heard many times before on this blog. Going clockwise was Kazu (Junko's son), Mattie, Zachary in red, Charlotte in pink, and next to Charlotte (who you can't see) was Campbell.


Quote of the day: Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. ~ Steve Maraboli


My friend Charlie sent me this quote while I was away at the beach. It is an intriguing quote in a way, because a part of me agrees with it, and yet a part of me feels it is unrealistic. I certainly concur with the latter part of the quote..... a kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. I would take this one step further and say that compassion sometimes is the only medicine that will cure certain ailments. However, my issue is with the first statement in the quote..... give yourself entirely to those around you. Well maybe not the whole statement as much as the word ENTIRELY. From my life experiences, I have concluded that only certain people in one's life are entitled, deserving, and SAFE to give one's self ENTIRELY to. I am not talking about generosity of things and money, I am talking about generosity of one's time, emotions, and feelings. In many ways, this form of generosity is hard to quantify but it is indeed priceless. Giving this type of emotional connection and bond to someone should not be entered into lightly because such feelings though a blessing are not always reciprocated. Not that feelings have to be quid pro quo in friendships, but without a balanced relationship, the constant giver in the duo can begin to feel used, unappreciated, and in the end develop internal wounds that no amounts of compassion can heal.  

Being our first day back after several days away, we were both working very hard today. Peter was at work, and I was running around doing all sorts of chores. We text messaged each other all day, and shared how the day was going for us. Whether our blog readers could tell or not, our time away at the beach was difficult emotionally for us. I started my day by picking up Patches at the vet. I had a long talk with the vet since Patches has many physical ailments now being 17 years old (I keep thinking she is 14, but Peter did the math and she is indeed 17, which is old for a cat!). The doctor would like to put Patches through various tests and procedures, and I frankly feel this would be more stressful for her than beneficial. The whole vet office knows about Mattie, because Patches lived with them while Mattie was battling cancer. So after this long discussion today, they all said that they would support whatever decisions I make. Great!!! I seem to always be forced into these medically difficult positions.

After picking up Patches, I then had to head back to Virginia Hospital Center for a test of my own. Just heading back there now makes me jumpy, considering the last CT scan I took there revealed a large mass. I spent the rest of the day shopping for supplies for my three part kindergarten art series starting this week. My trunk looks like an art supply shop and though I developed this Matisse and Picasso curriculum last year, so much of it has gone out of my head.

One of the items I had to buy today were muffin tins (the disposable ones that you can buy in a grocery store!). I like to use these tins to hold paint for the children. Any case, I literally went to three different grocery stores until I found what I was looking for. While at Giant Foods, a store clerk came up to me and asked me to donate a $1 to childhood cancer. The irony of this is my friend and college roommate, Leslie, emailed me and told me that while grocery shopping yesterday, the store asked her to donate a $1 during checkout to childhood cancer. Leslie explained in her email why she would prefer to support Mattie Miracle rather than an unknown entity. As this clerk was talking to me today, Leslie's email was swirling around in my mind.

Giant Foods supports the Childhood Cancer Foundation, and though the clerk never told me where the money was going, or what organization the store supported, I felt compelled to google the store and find out what charity their consumers' money is going to. You can find out more about the Childhood Cancer Foundation below. But despite the clerk's ignorance in who they were supporting, she was very persistent in wanting to get a dollar from me. When I wouldn't give it to her, she started to give me a hard time. At which point, I went into Mattie Miracle mode and the poor thing did not know what hit her. I not only use our own financial resources to help Mattie Miracle, but it is my daily job (of which I get no salary), and frankly I do not care to be judged as to who or what I want to contribute to, as I suspect many shoppers feel the same way I do.

http://www.childrenscancerfoundation.org/

April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007, on the day of Mattie's fifth birthday party. Mattie's party was held at the National Zoo, and despite being surrounded by animals, Mattie wanted the theme to be Lightning McQueen, from the movie, Cars. As you can see, that year we returned to the RED colored theme! The birthday party at the zoo was one for the books! The weather that day was beyond horrible, it wasn't just raining, it was pouring, like a deluge! However, the zoo's policy is that parties occur rain or shine. I thought the kids would absolutely hate the day and be miserable, but instead, they LOVED the fact that NO ONE was at the zoo, and they were walking around in boots, rain coats, and getting soaked. It was like a scene out of Indiana Jones.

Quote of the day: Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.  ~ Mark Twain

Peter and I are now back in Washington, DC. We decided to get on the road by 1pm, so that we could hopefully avoid any holiday traffic. We were very successful and had a peaceful drive home! I would like to share three pictures with you today.

Last evening, Peter and I went out for our nightly walk to search for bunnies. As usual, we were very successful. I love this bunny picture, because this big white rock next to the bunny looks like an egg to me. Just in time for an Easter delivery! Being back in DC tonight, we already miss our bunny evening ritual.  

This morning, we took our last walk on the beach before packing up. Along our journey we found a crab that washed ashore. On the first day of our trip Peter saved a horse shoe crab, and today, on the last day of our trip, we rescued a crab and returned him safely to the ocean.

Upon returning home, as soon as we walked into our front door, we were greeted with this stack of boxes. Our complex was kind enough to deliver them to us while we were away. You should note that in each of these boxes and the large red bag are either Keurig K-cups, crayons, or kid themed bandaids for the hospital. We want to thank all of our supporters for their generosity!!! These items will be appreciated by the children and families at Georgetown University Hospital, and I am honored that Mattie is remembered on his 10th birthday in this way. The big red bag says "Happy Birthday" on the side of it! In fact, inside the bag was 50 boxes of kid bandaids donated to us by the staff who manage our complex. The note that accompanied the gift was beautiful and it was SIGNED by every staff member. It is sometimes hard to feel like one belongs to a community when living in a big city, but within our complex we are surrounded by caring, thoughtful, and generous people who remember Mattie as a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, and as an unforgettable little boy. It was a very touching greeting home!