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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another first down.

Well we made it through her birthday... I did better than I thought I would. Ended up eating Longhorn's for lunch instead of going out for breakfast (though a dear friend brought a "chicknen biscuit w/ chicknen on it" by to the house -- very appropriate). Longhorn was another favorite of Catie's. I had chicken fingers in honor of Catie (she really was a chicken girl) and Tre', Izzy, and I all 3 enjoyed some bread with our butter.

Yesterday the sky was beautiful all day. It would go from bright blue with a few puffy clouds to cloudy w/ some rain back to bright blue and with just a few clouds. I walked outside around 4:00 yesterday and would you believe that there was a HUGE double rainbow. I'm thinking Catie and Hayley had been busy painting the sky... Thanks for the reminder girls... God keeps his promises and our families will one day be complete again.

Thank you so very much for all the e-mails and calls, cards and posts. It meant so much to know that you all remembered Catie and thought of us. I've got some fun pics of a couple of friends going by the Atlanta RMcD House with a delivery. I'll share those soon. For now, I wanted to share an e-mail that a friend sent yesterday. It comforted me so... I've taken the names out to protect the innocent. Thanks again for caring for our family... We love you. Tre', Jenny, and Izzy


E-MAIL
Ring……Ring….. Ring……



“Hello”



“Oh, hey God! It’s me again. I was calling to wish Catie Wilkins a Happy Birthday”



“She’s out with her friends counting all of the hermit crabs in my oceans right now….. may I take a message for her?”



“Will you let her know that I miss her? It’s been a lonely year down here without her.”



“I know”



“Tell, Catie that Izzy cut her first tooth last week! She is so much fun! I love to hear her laugh”



“I know”



“Tell her that her Mom and Dad miss her terribly but….they really are doing well!”



“I know”



“Tell her they are planning a huge party to celebrate her life here on earth. And people will bring gifts to the RMH in her honor on Friday. She would love that!”



“That’s awesome but…. I know”



“Well…. I know that you ‘know’, GOD but……. How IS Catie?”



“How many trees are on the mountains?”



“Ummmmm, I don’t know.”



“And how do I make the sun rise each morning?”



“Ummmm, couldn’t tell you that one either!”



“Exactly! Let me tell you exactly what YOU need to ‘know’ ……Catie is PERFECT! On this day when you will celebrate her EARTHLY birth……. She will continue to celebrate here in Heaven – absolutely perfect! I sent her to earth to complete a mission and she completed it – perfectly! Now…. She is enjoying the rewards that I promised so long ago.”



“ummmmm….. I know. Sometimes, when I’m sad, it’s just hard to remember that”



“I know. That’s why I give you the trees on the mountainside…… and I give you a beautiful sunrise every morning – just to remind you. And have you NOTICED how many butterflies I’ve sent your way lately???” (ADDED BY JENNY -- "DID YOU SEE THAT DOUBLE RAINBOW I SENT RIGHT TO HER MOMMA TODAY?")



“Thank you for loving me so much. Please be close to Jenny and Tre’ today as they remember, too. I love them and I’d take the pain away if I could! But, I guess that isn’t my job – that one belongs to you, too. Just let them feel a special touch from you today”



“No problem….. I’ve had several of those requests today!”



“God, thank you for listening”



“Thank YOU for calling! Now…. Have a good day! I have things covered up here!”



“God, that is one thing that I DO know!”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Catie!

Happy birthday Sweet Girl!! We can hardly believe that you would have been five years old today. We will think of you so much today (but then, we do every day). We know the celebration that you have every single day in Heaven is better than any old measly thing we could pull off here... Celebrate for us today! We love you so much!!
Momma and Daddy

Happy 8 month birthday to Izzy today too!! It's hard to believe you're already 8 months old!!

Pictures from Catie's birthday last year

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Catie and pals at her dressup party last year... Bailee and I love to laugh about what a mess her room was at the end of the party... Catie thought it was pretty funny last year too!

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She hated having a big group sing Happy Birthday to her... but she didn't mind if it was just Tre' and I. This was after her bath on her birthday last year.

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Bailee's (w/ Hello Kitty) birthday is the day before Catie's. This is last year on her birthday. Catie really had a good time that night!

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The ever famous "laughing at Joey's card" photo

Hope the resizing of pics I did worked... it's hard to fit them into the blog if they're wide pics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We Made CNN!!!

Ok, it's short, but CNN ran a story from a brief interview I did with them last week. Thank you Jean for letting me know... I had no way to get in touch with the lady who I spoke w/ so I didn't have a clue that the video was up. I just watched it and brainchild here said that Catie battled for 4 1/2 years.... she actually battled 3 1/2 (and lived 4 1/2) but oh well. The beginning include pics from one of the YouTube videos done by moms that I linked to earlier in the week. Seemed kind of appropriate to find out about the video today... Tomorrow is Catie's 5th birthday and the 4th anniversary of her diagnosis...

Check it out!

When you get to the page, scroll down a bit and you'll see Catie sitting there doctoring her baby at the clinic. Click on that, a brief commercial will start and then the piece airs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A pretty gal in pretty flowers

A couple of pics for a Monday night!

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Iz in front of one of the plants in Catie's garden

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and another...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On My Soapbox

Ok, this week, you just have to deal with me being on my soapbox. It's September, which is awareness month for cancer kids and Catie's birthday is coming, so you can deal with my venting =) or give me a week or so and come back.

Annie sent me this YouTube link . I'm not sure what she named it (or if it even has a name), but that's what I'm calling it (hope that's ok Annie). You'll see Catie and some other familiar faces. I'm fairly certain that present in each picture is a child we have lost to cancer. It's just a glimpse into their lives... and their absence. I'm often frustrated in September because you rarely hear that it is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Some moms and I have written letters to media outlets asking them to cover this story... CNN did a VERY brief feature, but noone else has bitten. If it's awareness month, we need to make people aware. I know that there are hundreds and thousands of great causes out there, all important and valid... but this is the one that's close to my heart, so I will make noise about it.

In the last 20 years we have lost nearly 60,000 children to this wretched disease. Some of you live in small towns... What would your town look like if we took 60,000 people away. 2 classrooms of children are diagnosed every day(on average 46 kids a day)... How many weeks does it take for the number of kids in your children's school to be affected? I'm betting not as long as you think.

Research makes a difference. It increases survival rates... Here are some things that the Children's Oncology Group has achieved in the last 10 years because of research:
• Decreased childhood cancer mortality by 25%.
• Improved survival of acute lymphoblastic leukemia from 70% to 80%.
• Improved survival of acute non-lymphoblastic leukemia from 35% to 50%.
• Improved survival of the most common form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma from 70%
to 90%.
• Improved survival of widespread childhood neuroblastoma from 10% to 45%.
This shows that research makes a difference... But we need more research and research takes money. Money takes awareness... people won't give if they don't know the need.

What can you do?
1. Click the box above and write your representatives. Ask them to support the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act. Tell them cutting childhood cancer funding for a 3rd year in a row is unacceptable.

2. If you live in GA, register for a childhood cancer license plate by clicking here. Proceeds will support pediatric cancer families and fund research.

3. Contact media outlets and remind them of the importance of raising awareness about the number 1 disease killer of children.

Stepping down from my soapbox for now. I'll try to hide it from myself!! =)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Hardest Goodbyes

One of the things that I never really did after Catie died was to share much about that last day. Parts of it are a complete blur and parts of it I remember every detail. I've decided to share it here, more for me than anything else. That day, while the hardest of our lives, was a day I never want to forget. The worst part of the day, for me at least, was not letting her go that night, it was the realization earlier in the day of all we were about to lose.

I don't remember how much I slept the night before. I know I got a good 3-4 hour chunk in the sleep room. I came into Catie room, room 10 in PICU and my eyes went to the monitor in her room almost before they went to her. When someone you love is sick like that you wake up with a panicky feeling wondering if they're the same as you left them a couple of hours before. You know if something had gone badly, you would have been roused, but still... you can't help but wake worried. As I came in, Tre' stirred on the pullot chair. I don't even remember how her night was, but I think it was fairly uneventful. I then took my seat at the end of Catie's bed and begin rubbing her feet and her legs. We could not sit at the top of the bed next to her sweet head as she had so many tubes and wires going everywhere. Tre' got up and needed a break from the room, so he headed out of the unit for a bit. Everyone else in town was at the Ronald McDonald House or hotels as it was still early. It was so quiet except for the banging of the vent (she was on the osscilator -- I know I spelled that wrong -- and it is a very loud machine).

Not much later, the intensivist came in. Hands down, the worst conversation of my life. For me, I think it's when I knew we were done. I didn't know how long Catie had, but I knew... that mommy gut just knew. He told me that he just wasn't seeing much of a light at the end of the tunnel. He said that he certainly wasn't giving up, we were going to continue to do all that we could, but that it just wasn't looking good. I began to cry at that point and I do not think I stopped until much later that afternoon. Tre' came back and brought me some breakfast, but I couldn't eat. I pushed tubes away as much as I could and found the way that I could lay closest to her without messing any lines up. And I just laid there and cried. I truly believe that I began letting her go as soon as that conversation ended. I knew he was right... I knew the options were mostly gone... I knew she had had to fight far too long and too hard. I remember asking Claire early on that if it ever came to it, how would I know when it was time to stop. I remember her simply saying, "you will know." That was the moment that I knew... not because I didn't believe in miracles, not because I didn't believe in the healing power of God... not because I didn't desperately want to see her grow up and be a big sister and a bride and a mother... The momma in me just knew that it was time to set her free. I didn't say it aloud... I don't know that I even thought of it that clearly... but I knew... Nikki and John (my brother and sister) have both told me that I spoke about her in past tense from that point on. I didn't even realize that I was. I do remember John saying to me, "Jenny, we're not there yet." But I knew that we were.

Much of the morning and afternoon are a blur. There were conversations with nurses back home (Catie's and mine -- remember I was 8 1/2 months pregnant). Family was around. I probably should have done a better job making sure everyone knew how bad things were... there were a few people who I wish I had talked with so they could have been there that night. But my mind wasn't there... it was just trying to absorb the magnitude of all that was happening... it was trying to soak up every bit of Catie that I could. At some point Dr. Hudgins and Lynn came by. They operated on Catie seven times over the course of her treatment and they came to say goodbye... Lynn was crying. It means so much when your child's doctors and nurses care so much. Sometime, early that afternoon, Lisa and Dennis arrived. I was still curled up around Catie as best I could when they walked through the door. I don't know that I've ever been so glad to see anybody in all my life. I think that was when I quit crying... at least for a while. Dennis last saw her Christmas day and Lisa had seen her a week or two earlier. We switched Catie back to the conventional vent, just to see if it would make a difference. It didn't make a dramatic difference, but things didn't change a lot so we left her on that one. I'm so thankful for that... Her body was still again (on the other vent it shook with each puff of the machine) and she seemed much more peaceful.

Early evening, Dr. Claire came by. Dennis was in the room. He had never met her, and I'm glad he got the chance to. We talked for a long time (Tre', Claire, Dennis, and I). We talked a lot about how to know when to turn the vent off... I guess Claire sensed my mind because she said, "I really don't think we're there yet." She paused and I remember exactly how we were sitting.. side by side against each other on the bed at Catie's feet... she paused and then she said, "but maybe I'm just in denial." She was crying with us. We talked some more and I don't remember all that she said, but I do remember her saying, "You don't have to decide this tonight... but it may be you already have..." The x-ray folks came in and wanted to do another x-ray. I didn't want to do it... I just wanted to let her be... x-rays required me to leave the room and they had to move her and position her, and I just wanted her to be... to not be bothered anymore... But Claire or a nurse or someone said that this could give us a more definitive picture of where we were. I didn't understand how b/c they had just done one 4 hours earlier... Nothing had been changing on the x-rays, why would it now? But I agreed and I prayed that Catie would let us know the right thing to do. I knew, but I didn't know how to know when... I think Tre' and I both needed something definitive to go on. The intensivist got us when the x-ray came through, and I remember Claire standing behind me with her hand on my shoulder or back. Clear as day, there was a hole in her lung.... her lungs were so stiff that the hole didn't cause her lung to deflate as it should have... Holes in lungs can be fixed, but her lungs were so very, very damaged that it would have done no good. There was our answer... Catie couldn't speak, but I felt like it was her way and God's way of telling us that it was ok, that it was time... Almost immediately, I felt relief. I know that sounds strange, but I knew that she would have to suffer no more... I knew that we wouldn't have to worry about her and the tumor anymore... There would be plenty of time for sadness.... at that moment I was so relieved, that it was going to be over and her new journey was going to begin. The missing would be so hard, but that was for us. For Catie things were going to be so good.

Claire told our family for us and we went in to be with Catie. They unhooked everything that she didn't need. No more antibiotics... just sedation and pain meds to keep her comfortable and peaceful.... Just the vent tube and a pulse ox (but with no sound)... I could take my spot, curled around her with sweet Izzy in my tummy between us. Tre' sat on the other side in a chair with his hands on her and his head on the bed next to her. We both longed to hear her voice one last time... that's the only thing about letting her go that I wish could have been different. So many were there to tell her goodbye. The ICU staff was amazing... they let everyone come and go as the needed and wanted. Sometimes there were 20 people in her room, sometimes it was just Tre' and I. Nurses and techs came from the 1st and 3rd floors to say goodbye... Folks made phone calls to get the word out. At some point, her sats began to fall a bit and then stayed in the seventies... she was letting go too... it probably would have happened that night or the next day no matter what. Claire went home to tuck her kids in, but told us she's be back and for us to call her before it was time. Several of my dear cancer mom buddies came to stay with us until it was over. It was so good to see their faces when they walked through the door. It meant so much that they were there. We all told stories and we laughed and we cried. Everyone kissed that bald head. Tre' and I took turns snuggling with her. I hurt so for him.... there was nothing I could do to make it any easier... There's just something about daddies and their little girls. At some point, it was late, we decided it was time for last goodbyes. Tre' and I both were ready to let her go. All through treatment, there was nothing we could do to make it better, but that night... that night we could do something. We could let her go... We listened as everyone said goodbye... what a treasure for us to be there for that. Many, tears from many people... family, friends, friends who are family, cancer moms, nurses... I've said many times that I'm so glad that so many were there. They can remind me on hard days how sure we were that night. They can remind us of the peace that filled the room. They can remind us on days when it's hard for us to remember that we really did know it was the right thing.

And it was time. They were so gentle as they unhooked her. Claire was at my back rubbing my arm and Tre' and I both clung to our sweet girl one last time. I whispered in her ear to run to Jesus... and RUN I know she did... without a single, solitary wobble... Whole and healthy and full of joy... just like she will be when I see her again.

I am unable to find the words to describe what it was like in the room that night. Maybe it's because it's the closest we've ever been to Heaven... not in how we felt, our hearts were absolutely breaking... but as Jesus reached down to pull our sweet girl for her battered body, Heaven was right there, opening for her. In the ICU you hear lots of stories of kids being comforted by angels. Those who wake up often describe them and the peace that they brought. I believe that and I believe that they were in that room that night, comforting not only Catie, but us. I'm grateful for her peaceful passing... I'm grateful for the assurance that we will see her again... I'm grateful we had the chance to hold her even if her 4 years and 4 months were far too short.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Izster

Ok, some of my pics are doing funny things in this post. I've adjusted the size, but they're not changing for me. I'll fix them later.

It's funny how you can hit a week with a baby and all of a sudden they can do all of these new things that they couldn't do 10 days earlier. I'm telling you, I don't know where this child's energy comes from, but if I could bottle it, I wouldn't sell it, I'd keep it for myself! I'd be running circles around everybody (and shedding some pounds no doubt).

Izzy has FINALLY cut a tooth. I thought she had one come through several months ago, but it ended up being something called a pearl (I think that's right). Whatever the right name is, it definitely wasn't a tooth, because it was gone a few days later. She cut her first tooth on Tuesday this week. Three more are not far behind. She's handling it pretty well. Funny thing is, any fussiness or sleep problems have been blamed on teething for the last 4 months. Now that she's actually cutting teeth, she's really doing well. Still not a great sleeper, but we figure one day she'll get it down. She's started getting up on all fours and rocking. I see serious trouble in my future!! I've got to get cracking on making sure everything is babyproofed. We've never had one this young be mobile, so this will be a new experience (but a normal one, thank goodness!!). She's also started clapping and looks so proud when she does it. Last night she ate her first "full" meal at Cracker Barrel with no baby food. She especially liked the dumplings her daddy was eating and, like with her sister, biscuits are a hit!

This weekend, Mary Grace and her family came to hang out at the beach with us. We didn't get a lot of beach time in (think sand storm!!), but it was great to visit and catch up. Izzy LOVED all the attention and loved being with Grant and Mary Grace.
Here's proof.
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Playing Peek A Boo?

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Or attacking with her killer fingernails?

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The three stooges

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Izzy was really tired and we were trying to finish some stuff up around the house. Mary Grace sat down and started reading Brown Bear to her and Iz was quite content.

Yesterday was the 19th (funny how that happens every month, huh?). It's hard to believe it's been 8 months (and hard to believe it's ONLY been 8 months). There's a Catie update brewing, but it'll come later.

We do ask that you remember our sweet friend Summer's family. Summer joined Catie yesterday and while we know she is healthy and cancer free, we know how much her family is hurting. This disease is so unfair, no matter who it strikes, but especially when it steals a child away. Please let Summer's family know that you're praying for them. We had the privilege of being housmates with them at Lighthouse last summer. Summer was so sweet to Catie. One of the things I really remember is Summer letting Catie borrow her Gameboy. Catie thought she was HOT STUFF and a big kid.

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This is a picture of Mary Grace, Catie, Summer (in the back), and Hannah (Summer's best friend who will miss her so). D.D., Mary Grace's mom, had just finished fixing all the girls' hair (it's a big deal when you've been bald as all 4 of them had) and they were looking gorgeous for the talent show. All four girls were healthy and doing well at Lighthouse at the end of July last year. Now two are gone. We've got to support research to find a cure.

Thanks for checking in. I'm off to get a couple of things done while Iz is finishing her nap!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ronald McDonald House

Catie's birthday is coming up. We are going to have a little get together and we are collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House. Someone had asked me what the houses need. It varies a bit from house to house, but I thought I'd post some of the needs here. Here is the Wish List for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses. Here is the Wish List for the Savannah House. The things that are really needed at the Savannah house are in bold print. Below is a letter we sent to the Atlanta House. The Houses really are amazing places.

Dear Friends,

How do I even begin to thank you for what you have meant to us over the last nearly 4 years? I honestly do not know what we would have done without you. I had heard of the Ronald McDonald House before we needed it, and I thought, “what a nice idea,” but I had no idea what a blessing and what a necessity your homes are for families struggling with a sick or seriously injured child. I simply had no idea.

When Catie was diagnosed with cancer on her first birthday, life as we knew it fell completely apart. We were thrust into an ambulance and driven to Atlanta with no time for planning or thinking ahead. Tre’ and I both slept (or at least tried to) in the hospital room for the first week. It was then that a room at the House came open and we entered into our second home for the first time. When we arrived, we were exhausted, we were worried, and we were sick of hospital food. At your home, we found compassion, a bed to rest our heads on, and hot meals that were real food. It was a respite from the hospital to help us gather our energy to help Catie fight. And fight she did. Over the coming months and years, we spent more than 150 nights in the House. Some of our stays were one-nighters and others were for several weeks at a time. But no matter how long or short the stay, we always felt like we were coming home.

As a parent, there is not a lot you can do to ease the pain your child suffers at the hand of disease. I was always amazed at Catie’s spirit… She never once told me, “Momma, I don’t want to go to Atlanta.” She knew what an Atlanta trip meant… she knew it meant doctors and medicine that made her feel yucky or surgery and owies. But never once did she ask not to come. I have to believe that part of this was because of how much she loved the Ronald McDonald House. I remember the time that her first words after waking up from a 4-5 hour brain surgery were very adamant, “I want to go to the Ronald McDonald House!” And I can still hear her sweet voice from the back seat as we turned into the driveway of the House. “Momma?” she’d ask with a sneaky grin on her face, “Ms. Cari’s gonna get me, isn’t she Momma?”

Cari she loved you. She loved playing chase with you, laughing with you, “running” your office, and eating “noodles” from Chin Chins with you. You helped make her time in Atlanta for stuff that wasn’t so great, a fun time. As a mom, what more could I ask for?

Catie considered the House her home… I have no doubt of that. She celebrated more birthdays at the House than she did at her own. She began to crawl after her surgery for the first time there. She mastered steps by walking up and down the stairs at the House. It was there that she fell in love with The Sound of Music, baking cookies, and caramel popcorn. So many of our memories of Catie are tied to the House because of the time we spent there. You create an environment that allows families to live and live well while they’re there. I don’t think that I will ever be able to convey what that has meant to my family. Every day matters, but because our time with Catie was so short, every second was important… All the time that we lived at your house, our second home, we were able to live well, because you allowed us to.

In addition to all of this, the financial burden you lifted from our backs by being available is hard to put a value on. I have no doubt that you saved us a minimum of $15,000 in hotel bills. I cannot even begin to calculate the money saved by being able to eat the hot meals your volunteers provided every single day. How do I thank you for that?

Please know that we are here, ready and willing to do anything that we can for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. We are so grateful for all that you have done for our family and we are especially thankful for all of the wonderful times you gave Catie (and the good memories we have now because of that). Know that we consider you family and we can’t wait to come visit you (just for fun now, not because we need you) soon.

With love,
Tre’ and Jenny Wilkins

Pictures

Yeah, we're still here. Just haven't gotten around to writing lately. Not much today, just thought we'd let you know we're still around.

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Here's Izzy a couple of weeks ago.

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I have to get a little creative w/ her monthly pictures now b/c this is what she wants to do with the sign.

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But she's not so sure she likes the paper when she gets a "bite."

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Izzy's pulling up now as long as she is using me to pull up. She can't quite do it on the coffee table, but she's getting close. She's not crawling, but she's more interested in being on 2 feet than figuring out all fours right now.

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Catie's buddy Bailee came over to hang out with us this week. Izzy had so much fun w/ her that she didn't want to take a nap (even though she was exhausted).

Here are some pics you've seen before, but fancied up a bit. Thanks to Estefania for doing them and sending them our way.

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Thanks for checking in. We'll do an update w/ more than pictures soon!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Disney, Part II sort of

Well... in getting ready to do the rest of our trip tonight, I've realized that I don't have any digital copies of the majority of our pictures from Disney. I have hard copies, but not digital ones... My hard drive crashed at the end of the year last year ... So I'm going to try to scan pics in at some point and give you the full deal... for now, here's what I have left at my photobucket account.

Day 3 was Animal Kingdom and MGM. We really had a good time at Animal Kingdom... We hit the safari first thing in the morning and had really great luck seeing all sorts of animals. Catie liked that. The other thing we really loved there was the Lion King Show. Catie was a big Lion King fan, so she enjoyed seeing all the characters and watching the story play out right in front of her (we were on the front row, and they were RIGHT THERE!!). She got her hair wrap here too!! The lady said normally she didn't do hair that was that short, but she did it for Catie and Catie was so proud that she had enough hair to get one!! At MGM, we hit the Playhouse Disney stuff... Bear in the Big Blue House and, of course... JoJo and Goliath and the Little Einsteins. We also went to the Little Mermaid show... this was before it became a favorite movie, but she liked how it rained on us and the wind blew and all. All these pics are hard copy right now, not digital. She was so funny meeting JoJo and Goliath! That night we met good friends of ours for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (very cool) and checked out LegoLand in Downtown Disney.We made it home in time for a tuck-in from the 6 foot tall rabbit Mayor Clayton, head hare of all things at Give Kids the World. We have that on video and it is so funny. She is giggling and it is from the belly. I'm so glad that Tre' taped it.

Our last full day in Orlando we went back to Magic Kingdom. We had so much fun there that we decided to totally skip Universal (and a lot of the stuff there was for older kids). I'm so glad we did b/c this was the day we spent meeting all the characters... The look on Catie's face was pure magic. We did characters for the majority of the day and it was so fun. We hung out forever in Toon Town (and she ended up getting her face painted for her "famous picture") and also spent some time in Fantasy Land and Frontier Land (if I'm remembering the names right). We ended the day with a parade just before we left the park.

Here are pics that I do have... I wish I had more of them!!

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Playing dressup at the enchanted castle at Give Kids the World

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With Stitch

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Can I feel your nose?

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With Minnie Mouse

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With Mickey

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With Goofy
Our favorite visit w/ Goofy was when he came to Give Kids the World one morning. He rode the train and Catie got to ride in the car with him. He was so, so silly and she was laughing so hard at him. I can hear her now saying, "that silly Goofy."

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All the characters were so good to Catie and took their time with her... but these were great... this Minnie was so sweet. It was hot, can you tell?

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Getting tucked in by the Mayor himself.

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With the whole crew from Aladdin. The Genie came out especially for Catie, he had just gone inside (he had to be frying in that costume), but he heard she was out there and wanted to meet him, so he came back out. Aladdin gave Catie a small bead and told her it was a very special jewel that Jasmine had given to him when they first met, but he wanted her to have it... I wish you could have seen her glow!!! She was so amazed.... like I said, that place is magic!

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Ok, this one kind of captures the trip for me. You can't even see Catie's face, but you can tell how totally mesmerized she is... Belle was so sweet to her (and she was already in love with that movie by then).

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I know this picture is everywhere, but I can't do a Disney update without putting it here. It was actually taken a year ago today. Her daddy was holding her while we watched the parade. She so looked the part, hair wrap, face paint... I took about a dozen pics and thank goodness one came out just right.

This is how I like to remember her... tan, enough hair to flip out a little, looking like the picture of health... of course the ironic thing is that the tumor was growing even then... who knew... We certainly didn't that day and I'm so glad we didn't. As far as we knew, we had 4 more rounds of chemo and we were going to be done. That allowed us to enjoy the trip so much more. She was feeling great, looking great, acting great, moving great... It was truly the perfect time for us to go and I'm so grateful to Make A Wish, as they allowed us to make memories that we treasure so much. Catie truly had the time of her life (and we did too). I recently heard someone say that memories are a lousy substitute for the real thing, but when it comes to those we've lost, it's all we've got. So, I'm very grateful for these memories.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Childhood Cancer Awareness Video

Ok, Disney Part II is coming, but for now, check this out. I totally swiped this from Kristie, but I know she won't mind. All this stirs up lots of memories... She did so much of what you see here. I'll warn you, it's not the easiest thing to watch... but it's all true... how it really happens. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Check this out!

I found some interesting statistics on Amazing Jacob's site. Here are a few of them.

*Every year almost 3,000 children die of cancer.
*The national government recently cut the budget for funding of pediatric cancer research.
*Currently there are 30,000-40,000 children being treated for cancer in the US.
*As a nation, each year we spend 14 billion dollars per year on the space program and only 35 million on childhood cancer.

Makes ya think!

I'll try to get the rest of the Disney stuff up tonight.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Disney, Part 1

A year ago this week we were in Orlando on Catie's Make A Wish trip. It really was one of the best weeks I've ever had. I've often said that if we were able to choose one week to relive with Catie, it would probably be that week. Things got so crazy when we got home from our trip (growth on MRI was discovered within a couple of weeks, and surgery shortly after revealed the relapse) that I never really updated on our trip well. I thought I'd share a few pics this week (you've probably seen most of them on the old website already, but they're worth resharing).

Here's a pic of Catie after her send-off party. She looks so tan and healthy.
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We drove down on Saturday. I love this pic of Catie in the back seat of the van we rode down in. She was watching a movie.
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We arrived at Give Kids the World late that afternoon and the first place we headed after checking in was for an ice cream cone. Their ice cream shop opens first thing in the morning and is open all day. All the free ice cream you want all day long... even for breakfast if it suits you!
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Give Kids the World really was amazing. Each family gets a villa to stay in -- tons of room! There is a shuttle that comes around and drops you off whereever you want to go in the Village. There are game rooms, an enchanted castle (which we LOVED), activities, a movie theater, horseback riding, swimming, a sprayground... if a kid can want it, it's probably there. Every night there is a different theme (anything from Nickelodeon night to Christmas (when it actually snows!!).... It was a wonderful place to stay and we really had a blast there. One of Catie's favorite things was the carousel. We would ride it again and again and again!!!
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On Sunday, we hit Magic Kingdom. Catie loved it. She especially loved the Dumbo ride and the teacups (which she convinced me to get on even though I was still battling morning sickness!!). The carousel was another favorite. One of my favorite times that day was watching her watch the 3D show at Mickey's Philharmagic.
This is Catie and Tre' while we were waiting to go in.
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This is her with her "cool" 3D shades!
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There was no meeting princesses personally that day, but she did see the coronation of Cinderella! I remember it was so hot, but she was fascinated b/c right there in front of her were all the real live princesses.
We stayed as long as she could keep her eyes open and made it back to the village in time for dinner and a nap. She got her face painted that night in the enchanted castle.
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Monday was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hot! We hit Sea World that day. We probably should have saved Sea World for the next day, but we still had a good time. However, she did NOT like getting splashed by the dolphins in the show we watched!!!!!!! Not even a little bit! She thought the fish smelled icky, but still liked feeding them to the dolphins.
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She also rode her first (and only) roller coaster. I couldn't ride because I was pregnant (never mind that I hate the things!!). I was worried for her as I watched it b/c it really went fast. She got off saying it was scary and fun. I didn't get a great picture, but this is her right after the ride as she and her daddy were coming towards me.
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I could not believe that she didn't get completely scared!!!

I'll update on the rest of the trip later this week. It really was a blast and I'm so grateful we got to go! I can't wait until Izzy's old enough so we can go again!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Early Morning Ramblings

Ahhhhh yes.... the lovely hours in the wee morning that are such a wonderful playtime for a 7 month old. We've tried the cry it out method for the last 3 nights.... and I quit. It works amazingly for some folks, but I'm wimpy when it comes to crying, she's (apparently) incredibly stubborn, and noone's sleeping. So... on to what works for us... when we figure that out at least.

I have figured out that I will always parent a little differently because of Catie. There were very few times with her that I had to play the really, really tough guy when it came to behavior. Tough guy to help her through treatment, yes, but with discipline, she was, for the most part, very compliant. Sure she had her share of time outs and she disobeyed from time to time and she was a regular kid, but she was largely easy to parent... except for that one fit throwing period she went through when she was 2 1/2 or so. Holy cow, that girl had a serious set of lungs and she could throw down and scream. Interesting thing though, she rarely did it in public (except for this one time at Stone Mtn. You should have seen the looks I got pushing a bald cancer kid in a stroller out of the park after the Laser Show -- she wanted to be carried and was ENTIRELY too heavy to be carried that far and was old enough to understand). But, for the most part she saved the good stuff for home. The thing that worked for us with this was putting her on our bed and leaving the room. She would scream and scream and I would be in the other room (let's be honest, sometimes I was crying too). I wanted nothing more than to pick her up and love her. But I knew that it was my job to help her learn that wasn't the way to get what she wanted. I would check on her every 5 minutes or so and remind her that as soon as she calmed down, she could get up. She would be doing the whole body-shaking sob thing because she had gotten herself so worked up. When I checked on her I would rub her back or her bald head, but I wouldn't pick her up until she calmed down. Towards the end of the phase, I could ask her, "are you ready?" and she would give me this frowny look and an emphatic "NO!" But it really wasn't long before she got control of it and the fits were a thing of the past (big sigh of relief!).

I was thinking about that tonight as I rocked Izzy... I hate thinking about times like that with Catie, because if I had known what was going to happen I know I would have just held her. I know that wouldn't have been what was best for her, and even now, looking back, I think we handled it in the way that was best for us. I'm a firm believer that kids need consistent limits and that's what we were doing. But as I rocked Izzy tonight and she finally gave in to a little snuggling (she refuses to snuggle these days as it might lead to missing out on something or, Heaven forbid, sleep) I thought about that time with Catie. It's honestly not a time I feel guilty about, but I still don't like thinking about it. And I decided that, yes, that day for crying it out might come with Izzy, in fact, I'm fairly certain that it will. But... for me, for us at least, it's not now. I can rock and sing (and be completely tired and bleary-eyed the next day)... and I will do it guilt-free because I can... However... no more bottles between midnight and 6 AM -- and I'm sticking firmly to that!! Hey, she's got to learn, right? =)

So tonight, as I listen to Izzy's white noise playing in the other room, I will crawl back in bed, and I will be thankful for the bit of snuggling I got tonight. I will think of Catie and try to make note of a few of the many things she taught us. I will miss her. And I will ask God again, to make us the parents that Izzy needs, just as I know He made us the parents Catie needed. I will ask to be molded into the person she needs and I will hope to trust my instincts... when it comes to our kiddos, they're usually right. That's another thing Catie taught me... I almost always knew what she needed... and I pray it will be that way with Izzy too.

Everyone else's is in dreamland. I'm headed that way too, hopefully till the sun comes up!