Mattie Miracle 9th Annual Walk & Family Festival -- Raised over $97,000

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: 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

August 20, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in front of Mattie's favorite theme park, Legoland. The beauty of Legoland is that it is a park for all ages. Especially if you are fascinated by Lego bricks. Legos were Mattie's all-time favorite toy. However, Mattie also loved the roller coaster rides at the Park, and he literally could spend hours going on the same ride.

Facts about Orkney Islands, Scotland:  The Orkney is an archipelago in northern Scotland, 10 miles north of the coast of Caithness. Orkney comprises approximately 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited. Most of the islands are in two groups, the North and South Isles, all of which have an underlying geological base of Old Red Sandstone. The climate is mild and the soils are extremely fertile, most of the land being farmed. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy and the significant wind and marine energy resources are of growing importance.

Just north of Scotland lay the Orkney Islands (the latitude being equivalent to St. Petersburg, Russia and Alaska). Washed by the furthest reach of the Gulf Stream, this chain of over 70 islands offers dramatic landscapes that range from sea cliffs rearing 1,000 feet above the waves to sweeping white sand beaches. Bird watchers flock to the Orkneys Islands, drawn by the multitudes of sea birds. Divers explore the wrecks lying in the clear waters of Scapa Flow, the Royal Navy's fleet anchorage in two world wars. Perhaps of greatest interest is that the Islands boast the greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in all Europe.

Vikings settled the Orkneys by the 8th century, putting their own unique stamp on the local language and culture. Viking customs and vocabulary are actually more important than Celtic in the islands. This hint of Scandinavian influence can be heard in the lilting accent with which Orcadians speak. The islands only became Scottish in 1468, when King James III married a Danish bride. The Orkneys and Shetlands were pledged to him as part of her dowry, and they have been part of Scotland ever since. Our tour guide told us that it took about 150 years for the people of Orkney to accept this major change, since their origins and culture aligned with that of Norway, not Scotland. In essence the people who lived on the Islands had NO say or control over who ruled their land.

As we sailed into Kirkwall, the Capital of the Orkney Islands, it was quite apparent that there was NO visibility. It was sailing through very cold pea soup! In fact, in every port town of the British Isles we have visited, I have noticed that each of the islands were fogged in during the morning, and it felt as if we only got about two or three hours of sun during the day, before the fog rolled back in. Perhaps the most extreme of the fog was seen at Orkney today. In fact, it makes you pause and admire the heartiness of the people who inhabit these islands. The islands are remote, isolated, and filled with more animals than people. The local line is “you can see all four seasons in ONE DAY!!!” It was frigid for part of the day, which makes me wonder how raw it must be in the winter. Our tour guide told us that during the winter, some days the wind is so fierce that people are locked up within their homes for days. Also keep in mind that because we are so far north, in the winter, the sun sets at 3 or 3:30pm.

Last night was our second formal night on the Ship. Peter snapped a picture of me with my parents.

One of the first things you notice about Orkney are the beautiful fields dotted with cows and sheep. They are an incredible and peaceful sight! We learned about a new occupation today…. Geese chaser! Apparently geese have recently relocated to Orkney. In fact, four geese can eat as much as one cow in a given day. So farmers are not happy about this because the geese are taking over, and eating the grasses, grasses that farmers provide for their cows and sheep. To address this issue, a goose chaser can be hired to help redirect the geese to more appropriate feeding lands. Amazing!

Stones at stenness are one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. The stones were raised about 5000 years ago. Originally the circle consisted of 11 to 12 stones. They were surrounded by a wide ditch, crossed by a single causeway. Outside the ditch ran a substantial outer bank. At the center of the circle was a large hearth. In Neolithic houses, the hearth was a focal point. It is uncertain what this stone circle was used for, but it probably involved ceremonial and ritual purposes. It has been estimated that it took 50,000 hours to build this circle of stones. This equates to 50 people working a 40 hour week for half of a year.

Ring of brodgar is the third largest stone circle in the British Isles. The monument is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. The stone ring was built in a true circle, 104 meters wide, and is thought to have originally contained 60 stones. Today, only 27 stones remain. The stones in Brodgar are much smaller (4-15 feet tall) than the ones seen at Stenness.

The first settlers known to the Orkney Islands were Neolithic people called Orcadians, who arrived sometime in the 4th millennium BC. These early inhabitants were essentially farming people, who were also surprisingly skillful stone masons. At the time pyramids were being built in Egypt, the Orcadians were constructing sturdy houses and fine stone tombs with multiple burial chambers. The village of Skara Brae is the best Neolithic site in Europe, there are seven houses in a remarkable state of preservation, considering their age, 5,000-year-old! They have course flagstone walls, a central hearth, and a system of underground sewers. Skara Brae has been called the "Scottish Pompeii" because of its excellent preservation. In 1850, a fierce winter storm uncovered this immense archaeological find, revealing an amazingly well-preserved site from prehistoric Europe. The local laird, William Watt was intrigued by his finding and began excavation of the site. The site has been uncovered but none of the stones are preserved in a Museum. Instead, the people of Orkney feel that this unearthing should be left where it is for people to visit it and learn about their culture in its natural surroundings.

We walked along an elevated path to view the various one-room stone houses, a workshop and courtyard (which literally served as a community center for the people). Covered passages once connected all the buildings. The lack of wood (Orkney Islands have FEW to NO trees, because of wind and weather conditions!!!) dictated the exclusive use of stone for the buildings and household items, from beds to tables and tools. This is a picture of the wealthiest person’s house in the community. One can tell this based on the house’s size and amenities, such as catch basins for water, beds not built into the walls, and stone based storage cabinets for supplies.

Skaill House stands near Skara Brae. It is considered the finest mansion in Orkney. Skaill House's unusual architecture is a blend of styles spanning five centuries. This was the home of William Watt (the man who discovered Skara Brae), the 7th Laird of Breckness. We were unable to take photos within the house, but in one of the rooms was a beautiful painting of a young boy. When we asked our tour guide about it, she told us the story of William. William was supposed to be the heir of the estate, but instead died at the precious age of 14. Orcadians are known for their ability to ride horses. Each year, there was a county fair which featured the wears of farmers and equestrian activities. All of William’s family attended the fair that day, but he decided not to go because he was embarrassed and was made fun of because of his lack of equestrian skills. So William stayed home and on his own took out a horse and began to practice his riding skills. However, William’s foot got caught in a stirrup and was dragged to his death. This was of course a death that was very hard for the family to accept. As several of us heard this story, we felt immediately that the moral of the story was….. you need to accept and appreciate your children for the skills, abilities, and talents they possess. Not for the ones you want them to have.

There have been more than 300 species of bird life recorded in the Orkney Islands. There is also an abundance of wildflowers, including summer heather that dots the moors (which is incredibly beautiful). As we were at Skara Brae today, Peter spotted this seal frolicking in the water and coming to shore.

The beauty of the Orkney Islands!

The Orkneys are best known in the 20th century for the Royal Navy’s anchorage at Scapa Flow. Because of their commanding position on the North Sea, the islands were the perfect base for a naval war against Germany. Scapa Flow lies amid the southern island, and promises a roomy and well-sheltered place for warships to anchor. Perhaps the most spectacular moment in Orkney history came at the end of World War I. The finest ships of the German navy had to be surrendered as part of the peace treaty, and were sailed to Scapa Flow by their own crews. On June 21, 1919, the Germans destroyed their ships in the harbor, hoping to avoid further humiliation. Many of the wrecks were broken up for scrap in subsequent years, but the remnants of some of those giants can still be seen today.

On the pier at Kirkwall!

St. Magnus Cathedral was founded in the year 1137 by Earl Rognvald-Kali, the nephew of the martyred Earl Magnus (who was killed by his own cousin). It is dedicated to Magnus, and contains his remains. The cathedral is a reminder of the Viking period within the Orkney Islands.

Inside the Cathedral was quite beautiful. The organist was playing and filled the space with incredible sound which made a lasting impression as we walked through the space. We walked the town, toured the museum, and even had ice cream. It has been a full day, so I am signing off, and will write from Edinburgh tomorrow.

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