Mattie Miracle 6th Annual Walk & Family Festival

Mattie Miracle 6th Annual Walk & Family Festival
ALL NEW THIS YEAR: Are you up for the challenge? We need walkers and teams! Come fill our challenge wall and help the Foundation get an additional $5000 from our "Challenge Wall" sponsors. Click on the image to learn more.

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!

Mattie Miracle selected to be the Flame of Hope award recipient!!!
The Georgetown University Hospital board nominated and selected Mattie Miracle to be the recipient of the Hospital's highest honor, the Flame of Hope award. The Foundation will be bestowed this honor on March 29, 2014 at the Georgetown Pediatrics Gala.

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!

Mattie Miracle's Interview on Fox 5 -- 3rd Annual Candy Drive is a 2000 pound success!
Thank you for making our candy drive a major success!!!!

4th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- A HUGE Success!!!

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News -- Candy to Remember Mattie--November 15, 2012

Mattie Miracle on Fox 5 News - May 11, 2012

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 second anniversary!

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

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and tax exempt charitable organization dedicated to finding better treatments and a cure to Osteosarcoma and Childhood Cancers. We help build the awareness of osteosarcoma and childhood cancers, and educate the public and medical professionals about the realities of childhood cancers. We advocate for the psychosocial needs of the children and their families who are fighting this terrible disease. Please visit the website at: http://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

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

Number of Visitors Since October 12th, 2008

April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2007. We took Mattie down to the Washington National Mall to see the cherry trees in bloom. As you can see this made for a very beautiful backdrop for this photo. However, this was one of Mattie's typical looks when he complied with a photo but did not really want to be taking one. He was used to plenty of these moments with me, but thankfully despite his disinterest at times, we captured many special moments we had together.



Quote of the day: Inspiration is always a surprising visitor.John O'Donohue


Today was another full day of Walk preparation. The Walk is a full time job and then some. Planning the Walk in any given year is an enormous task, but in a year when I decide to revamp the event, that makes it three times more challenging. It is more challenging because everyone is used to the Walk being a certain way. Change is hard. Getting used to a new concept.... from the registration process to the fact that we are asking people to get involved this year and help us fundraise takes time, being on hand to answer questions from supporters, and at times walk people through the actual process to get them started. Started with creating a Walk team, building their own fundraising webpage, and also how to go about soliciting friends and family for funds. These are all new skills we are asking our supporters to use this year. However, these are vital to the health and development of the Foundation. The promotional awareness of the Foundation and fundraising can't only come from me. Ironically what I am seeing is that many of our supporters really like this challenge. They like the spirit of competition to raise money for a good cause, and to see which walk team can possibly raise the most funds for the Foundation. 

Later this afternoon, I took a break from the computer and went to Alexandria City Hall to finalize my Walk permits. This year I was able to do most of the application process through emails. Thanks to the contacts I have developed in the permit office over the past several years. Therefore when I went in today, I only had to pay the fees because the application was already completed and filed. I am very thankful to Sandra and Tara for streamlining the process for me, and I even wrote to their boss tonight to commend them for their outstanding service. It was my best experience in the permit office yet! However, the reason I am showing you this photo of our orange Mattie Miracle bags is because while driving through old town Alexandria I saw a woman in the distance carrying an orange recyclable bag. The color caught my eye, but I figured there are a ton of orange bags around, so it probably wasn't a Mattie Miracle bag. To my surprise, as I got closer to this woman and I looked at the logo, it was indeed a Mattie Miracle bag! I did not know the carrier of the bag, but as tonight's quote says... inspiration can sometimes be a surprise visitor! Seeing this bag on the streets of Alexandria perked me up today.  

April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old and what I love about this photo was this was classic Mattie. It showed his eclectic side! It wasn't unusual for Mattie to walk around our home in pajamas. Mattie preferred them because they were comfortable and he liked their texture. However, to me the backwards hat was hysterical! Also seconds after this photo was taken Mattie had the American flag in one hand and his sippy cup of milk in the other hand. It was a true sight to see, coming from a little ball of energy. 




Quote of the day: My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. Claude Monet


Today was another busy day for Peter and me from chores to gardening! We first went to visit Mattie's tree. We planted two different kinds of bulbs around Mattie's tree in the Fall and it is wonderful to see the bulbs popping through in stages this Spring. A few weeks ago we first saw the crocus and now the daffodils are in bloom. Mattie's yellow/orange butterfly that I placed around his tree for his birthday had a bit of a casualty. One of its wings were severed off somehow. So when I got to the School, I found the butterfly flopping on the tree. I was determined to keep the butterfly on the tree and to make it work, so I reconfigured the remaining wings and retied the bow around the butterfly. 

We also visited the upper school campus of Mattie's school. This is where the Foundation's Walk is held every May. We went to this campus because we are trying to figure out some set up and logistical Walk concerns. 

Then the remainder of the day was spent purchasing plants and cleaning up our deck space from a very harsh winter. We are saddened that the majority of our perennials have all died. All of Peter's wonderful knock out roses have died. We just can't get over it, because Peter's roses were beautiful and they have historically come back every spring. We got a good jump on planting today, but there is still a lot more to do, not to mention the fact that we have to paint our deck every Spring.  

April 18, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004 at the Reston Zoo. To me this photo is priceless. I am not sure who was more entertaining to watch, Mattie or Peter! Peter was feeding the sheep and Mattie was behind him intrigued and glued in place watching the goats. 



Quote of the day: Assertiveness is not what you do, it's who you are! ~ Shakti Gawain


Today we had our day all planned out for us. We wanted to go to the Christmas Tree Shops in Waldorf, MD to do some final shopping for our Foundation's raffle. This is a store I venture to every April with either Peter or my raffle chair, Carolyn. Yet when we got into our car, a warning light came on and we realized the car was not operational. Absolutely NOT what we needed today. The car was leaking anti-freeze and the irony is I had the same problem last year with the change of season. In any case, instead of moving on with our day, we were diverted to calling AAA and our car dealership. AAA was great, our car dealership was another story. 

The service rep at our dealership hung up on Peter twice and Peter was trying to get answers as to whether the dealership had a loaner car available for us to use while they serviced our car. Otherwise it made no sense for Peter to ride out with the tow truck if there was no car to pick up to return home in! In any case, I was listening to these frustrating phone calls and I realized we were not getting answers and we needed them before the tow truck arrived looking for decisions from us. So I decided to call the dealership myself and instead of talking to a service rep, I demanded to talk to a manager. Within minutes the director of customer service called me back and needless to say all my issues were taken care of instantly and a loaner car was secured, not to mention that we were reassigned to the service rep that I love, Sharon. Sharon has a dad who is battling cancer and Sharon and I just understand each other. She is very attached to her car, so she gets my own attachments. Needless to say thanks to Joe, the director of customer service and Sharon, we were able to have a productive day and move on and get our shopping done. 

I can officially say that we are shopped out tonight after many hours of shopping. We hit more than just the Christmas Tree Shop, but the wonderful part about Waldorf, MD, is that stores are right next to each other. So I literally can bounce from one store to the next. In fact, I had the pleasure of exploring Michael's craft store. I have always loved AC Moore, but I think Michael's may be bigger and have more of a selection. I can't believe I am saying that, since I love AC Moore. 



When we were driving home this evening, we passed National Harbor with its Ferris wheel. It lights up a pretty purple at night. 








We also started to see the sun setting. Which was a beautiful sight. 












When we got home, Peter took me outside to see our neighborhood crabapple trees. They are glorious and SO fragrant. I guess I have passed these trees for years, but never really payed attention to them. So I am glad Peter suggested we walk to see and smell them tonight. 














April 17, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. It was actually taken at Mattie's 4th birthday party at Riverbend Nature Center. Mattie and his friends were doing a pretend excavation of dinosaur bones in the sand. They had a wonderful time that day as the naturalist gave them a tour through the woods, introduced them to some animals up close and personal, and then did this dig. The irony of this was it took Mattie quite some time to develop an appreciation of the sand. It wasn't something he naturally gravitated to as a child. We worked on it and going to a very hands on preschool helped. Once Mattie got used to the feeling of sand, then the opposite happened..... we couldn't get him out of the sandbox! He could spend hours in it. 


Quote of the day: You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~ Maya Angelou


I have to say I am thrilled it is Friday! It was quite the week of nonstop work. Though I will be doing raffle work this weekend, my hope is to spend some time away from the computer. At least that is my hope! In addition to Foundation work today, I had a licensure meeting which I had called to address some issues that were bothering me. Issues which I can't discuss here, but needless to say even after meeting for several hours today, they haven't been resolved. Basically from what I can reveal is my frustration over regulations. Laws are changing that want to regulate how I communicate and hold my business within the board. I have been overseeing this process for eleven years and at this point in my career, I do not do well with government coming in and micromanaging the process. Especially when I deem this management as curtailing our effectiveness and impacting the needs of those we are ultimately serving. So unfortunately my personality type being a very feeling person, I naturally emote rather than react calmly. The two lawyers today did not know what hit them but realized I meant business. I am signing off for tonight in hopes of finding more calmness and peace. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old. We took him to the Reston Zoo. What I loved about that Zoo was the fact that it is a small zoo in size, it is quite hands on, and all the animals are child friendly. You can get food there and feed the animals, which was what Peter was doing with Mattie. Peter was trying to give Mattie some food to feed the goats. As you can see Mattie was HIGHLY suspect of what Peter was holding in his hands and was inspecting it very cautiously. Mattie had several visits to this Zoo, and with each subsequent visit, Mattie grew more and more comfortable with the whole experience. Mattie loved and was fascinated by animals, which was why this Zoo was the right fit for him. 


Quote of the day: If there be one thing pure, where all beside is sullied, and that can endure when all else passes away - if aught surpassing human deed or word or thought, it is a mother's love. ~ Marchioness de Spadara


I have been working and running around all day regarding the Foundation's Walk. I know it is spring and yet I am not really taking the time to look at the beautiful trees around me. I am so happy that my good friend Mary Ann sent me photos today of what she was seeing around her. The cherry trees are out in DC and they are glorious!



It isn't only the trees, the forsythia is also blooming! It is almost sunshine yellow and glowing. These photos were the highlight of my day. Mary Ann brought me virtual spring and she has reminded me that I have to stop and look more closely at what is around me tomorrow when I go out! I am so glad that these photos reminded me to do this. 

April 15, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. For Mattie's birthday that year, we put up paper, puzzles, and all sorts of activities on the wall for him and his cousins to do! Mattie just loved the whole notion of coloring on the wall! So much so that I left the papers up for days so he could continue the fun. As you can see in this photo, Peter got home from work and Mattie immediately engage him at the door with a marker and wanted him to start drawing on the wall!






Quote of the day: The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.Pablo Picasso


I had my first kindergarten class art session today at Mattie's school. It started at 8:30am. Not my hour, especially since I was up yet again working late. I have been teaching this three part art series for five years now. It is hard to believe, because it seems like just yesterday I was struggling to develop the curriculum. My experience teaching has always been with adult learners. So the notion of teaching 5 and 6 year olds was rather daunting! Yet having raised a child, helped tremendously because I knew how to gauge the attention span and understood what appealed to their curiosity. 

After Mattie died, Donna (another kindergarten teacher at Mattie's school) asked me to tea in her classroom. Mind you I really did not know Donna. I only knew her through my friend Junko, since Junko's son completed kindergarten in Donna's classroom. Over tea Donna mentioned that she wanted to find opportunities for me to come into her classroom. She had heard that I came into Mattie's kindergarten classroom when he was a student, and that Mattie's teacher appreciated all my efforts. Which was lovely to hear. But again, as I reminded Donna, my teaching experience was not with little ones. As Donna continued to talk she asked me my interests and I must have mentioned I loved art. One thing lead to another and she told me about the children's book by Nina Laden that she reads to her class entitled, When Pigasso met Mootisse. Clearly the book is about Picasso and Matisse and it touches upon these wonderful artists but in a farm animal sort of way. Donna had always wanted to take the next step and build upon the concepts in this book but just never had the time. That is where I came in..... five years ago to be exact.

I spent months researching Picasso and Matisse. I got to know about them separately as artists as well as their competitive relationship with one another. In many ways they were jealous of each other and yet at the same time intrigued by the other. They studied one another's art very closely and in a way mimicked the other at times, as they painted similar content and scenes. Though they had drastically different styles. 

My goal is to make these artists come alive for the children and I find the way to do this, is to insert real life details about the artists' lives into my talk. Details that a child would find interesting and memorable. Such as..... Picasso loved to keep a messy studio. In fact, his studio was lined with garbage, dust, and even had mice in it. He preferred painting at night and in complete silence! Picasso began painting as a child and I show the children art work he painted when he was only 14. By the end of today, the children learned that Picasso was born in Spain, that he was the Father of Cubism (which wasn't well received at the time ---- painting subject matter by using shapes), painted from his imagination, and was very influenced by his emotions (as he had blue and rose periods of painting as a result of sadness from the death of a friend and happiness over falling in love).  

I know the children also love stories! They are used to hearing stories from books and books tell stories through words. Today, I explained to them that paintings also can tell stories! However, the stories aren't conveyed in words. Instead they are conveyed in colors, shapes, and patterns. These colors can make us feel a certain way and yet we do not always react the same way to a color. For example, I may feel one way about red and you may feel a different way about it! To illustrate my point, I took a sheet of colored paper and taped it to the back of Donna. Only the students could see the color on the paper. Donna had NO IDEA what color was taped to her back. I then asked the students to describe how the color made them FEEL! Based on their descriptions Donna then had to guess what color she was wearing. She was wearing the color red! Interestingly enough two distinct feelings were expressed by the class.... angry/mad and happy! 

Then came the hands on activity. On a large piece of poster board Peter traces "Woman with a Hat" for me. This to me is a great and simple Picasso for the children to work on in teams. So picture getting a large white poster board with black lines on it and the students then have to color it in. However, they aren't shown this actual Picasso, so they literally do not know what they are coloring in. Therefore it is left up to their IMAGINATION to see shapes and colors as they so chose within the lines I give them. You will see what they came up with below. 

There were four groups working on this project today. Here is one of the creations. In the five years I have been doing this, I would say this year's class was very collaborative, they used their words and checked in with each other about the joint creations they were forming as a team. Because literally there were three children working on each poster board. 







We gave the children eight different paint colors to work with. This particular group found that too limiting and decided to mix paints and create their own colors. 















What I always find intriguing about this is that every year children add dots, stripes, and patterns to their cubist painting. Why this interests me is because this is very Matisse like, which is the artist we cover next week. To me children naturally gravitate to the bold colors and patterns of Matisse. 









The wonderful part about all of this is that the children's parents will be coming into the classroom tomorrow. What a wonderful artistic surprise they will have, because you can't miss these creations! 

April 14, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 -- Mattie died 292 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old. Mattie absolutely loved his frog sandbox and spent many a day and sometimes evenings outside on our deck in the sand. Mattie had all sorts of things in the sandbox and as he got older he even brought pieces of wood into the box to design ramps for his cars! This sandbox now sits outside our deck space in the commons area. Since Mattie died, all the neighboring children come to play in the box. The irony is NO ONE has ever asked me whether their child can play in the box, they just help themselves. I remember the first time I saw children playing in Mattie's box, I was mortified. I have gotten used to the sights and sounds now. On occasion, parents wave to me from my window, since I can see them while I work from my desk through Mattie's bedroom window. Some days I am fine with the sight and of course some days it is bittersweet. 


Quote of the day: Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing. ~ Thomas Jefferson




Today was another extremely long day, in which I find I am suffering from migraines and probably shouldn't even be on the computer. I started the day reconnecting with a former student of mine. She has been living in San Francisco for the past five years, and returned to DC for a visit. Tess has decided to go to nursing school and wanted to share with me her thoughts on this decision. Tess got to know Mattie during his battle and also interacted with him during the first Walk that he attended in 2009. I find it quite ironic that two of my students who were avid blog readers during Mattie's cancer journey have now chosen to become nurses! 



Later today I went to Mattie's school. For the next three weeks, in addition to balancing the Foundation's walk preparations, I will teaching my three part art series within one of the kindergarten classes. Donna told me today that I have been doing this for five years. Somehow it doesn't seem that long! When I went to School today to set up for tomorrow's lesson, I passed Mattie's tree! The daffodil bulbs we planted around the tree in the Fall are in full bloom and are delightful!








Donna, the wonderful kindergarten teacher I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know over these years, surprised me with this beautiful hand decorated flower pot today. This was a gift her students from last year created for me. These are hand painted butterflies on the outside of the flower pot! 










On the inside of the flower pot, it says "thank you!" The children wanted me to know that I was appreciated and they enjoyed my visits last year. It was a very special gift to receive today!