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

November 10, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2006. Mattie was four and a half years old. I love this picture! We took Mattie to Leesburg Animal Park and he loved the hands on petting zoo. Something about this photo gets me laughing, it wasn't that Mattie was chasing the rooster, he really just wanted to get a closer look, but the rooster had other plans. As the rooster began running, so did Mattie.


Quote of the day: Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer


My dad sent me this quote yesterday. It is very applicable given the intense action it takes to collect all this post-Halloween candy around town and then sort it. The running total right now is 67 (2.5gallon) bags of candy! That may sound like a lot, but when you see it in person you get the full magnitude of this collection. I included a picture of what our dining room looks like now. Our table is filled, the floor is filled, and today it is migrating onto our side board. This is NOT the end of sorting either. More candy continues to come in.
















Peter and I have been asked to give an hour long presentation this coming Friday at a palliative care conference hosted by the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. We have been working on this presentation in stages, especially since the coordinator of the conference wants our presentation to be told in stories. I have enough stories to fill up a four hour presentation, so trying to narrow down our content is key. Our audience will be health care and psychosocial staff providers. Between candy sorting, we sat down and discussed the presentation in more detail and we are busy working on a PowerPoint presentation filled with pictures illustrating the stories we plan on telling. All of this requires a lot of work, time, and energy. Emotional energy! Certainly telling Mattie's story and sharing our perspective is important, but we want the stories to have a clinical meaning. We want staff members to leave having greater insights into how their care impacts a child and his/her family and along the way share feedback about what did and didn't work for our family. With each presentation we give, I always find it interesting to hear the questions posed to us along with the feedback we receive. Such opportunities to talk honestly about Mattie and our experiences rarely occur in our everyday lives. Therefore, these presentations are always therapeutic for Peter and I. They keep Mattie's memory alive but they also allow us to freely be what we are...... bereaved parents.
 

November 9, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2006. Mattie loved to paint these three dimensional wooden models. Mattie would build the model, glue it together, and when it dried, would paint it. I have several of Mattie's models in our home today. Mattie enjoyed painting in our living room and the beauty of Mattie was he took pride in his work and therefore paint did not land up all over the place. In so many ways Mattie and I were a lot alike. We liked to be creative, but organization and order were very important to us.




Quote of the day: Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity. ~ Henry Van Dyke


My friend Charlie sent me this quote today, and as soon as I read it, it spoke to me immediately. The beauty of this quote is we all wait, fear, grieve, rejoice, and love. At some point in our lives we can say that time stood still, moved too quickly, or even lasts an eternity. These are all aspects of time that we can relate to, and yet the death of a child changes time altogether for parents. Our typical mile markers that help orient us to time and place are gone, and instead, grief becomes a constant. Almost like the ticking of a clock. It is ingrained in our heart, mind, and body. Just when one takes a pause from grief, the reality sets in, and the guilt from this mental pause can set you back ten steps. With grief, time can move slow, fast, and last an eternity all at one time. In so many ways it feels like Mattie just died and yet I know it was three years ago.

I had a marathon licensure board meeting today, so this evening I am mentally wiped out. After the five hour meeting, I then hopped into the car and commuted around Alexandria collecting candy for the Mattie Miracle candy drive. This evening I emailed Linda (Mattie's child life specialist) at the Hospital to give her a heads up that our candy supply this year is about three times more than what is was last year. It has been an amazing and yet overwhelming response by our supporters!



When I got home this evening, my front seat, back seat, and trunk were filled with candy. Keep in mind that I have been collection candy ALL week!

So far this is what our sorting has produced. However, I brought home the equivalent of what you are seeing on the floor tonight. Peter and I have our work cut out for us and by the end of the weekend, candy will literally be everywhere. I can assure you that when you have this significant amount of candy in one location the smell is almost sickening. It is hard to describe if you haven't experienced it. Some of you will just have to take my word for it.
 
The majority of candy has been collected, yet I know a few more groups who are still in the process of getting the candy to me. It is my hope that next week, I can get all the candy sorted and then delivered to the Hospital. Stay tuned for a total weight collected. Unlike last year, this year's collection is TOO significant to count item by item. Instead, we will be reporting the collection in pounds.
 

November 8, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie and I were standing on the bridge leading to Roosevelt Island. A typical weekend activity for us. On the Island, Mattie always found an item that intrigued him and most likely it came home with us. Such items could be a leaf (like the one I am holding), a stone, or even a stick. In fact, we had so many collected sticks that we made an artistic stick display in the plaza of our complex for all to see.


Quote of the day: Your thoughts, words and deeds are painting the world around you. ~ Jewel Diamond Taylor

The deeds of many of our supporters are speaking volumes! They are painting the world around us! We have been inundated with candy, which is a wonderful problem to have. I picked up more candy today and the loads are so significant that I can't collect them with my car. I have to use Peter's explorer.



Candy is all around us at home and the fragrance of chocolate hits you as soon as you walk into our front door. It is pervasive. As you can see our dining room table is covered with candy.

The candy continues to the floors as well. Literally it is everywhere. I haven't tabulated how much we have collected so far but it is significant. I am signing off for the day, but I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all our candy contributors. This candy will be making SO many families very happy!
 
 

November 7, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tonight's photo was taken in November of 2007. Mattie and I went to visit Peter at his office and Mattie helped himself to Peter's markers. It wasn't unusual, regardless of the picture Mattie drew, that the sun was incorporated into his work. In so many ways, Mattie was a born artist. He simply knew that whatever he created needed to be signed by him. Next to his car drawing was his classic signature. All capital letters, except for the "I." The "i" was always in lower case with a cute dot on top.
 

Quote of the day: Love is the first ingredient in the relief of suffering. ~ Padre Pio


I have spent weeks getting ready for tonight's presentation that I gave at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I was asked to introduce my audience to Mattie, the Foundation, and specifically the research of trauma and childhood cancer. I have done many presentations as Mattie Miracle's president, but my audience tonight was different! It was comprised of master's students in the field of counseling. In essence this was the population I used to teach prior to Mattie developing cancer. I spoke for two and a half hours and during that time: 1) I introduced the students to Mattie, 2) showed them the four minute video attached to this blog, 3) shared information about the Foundation, 4) highlighted many childhood cancer facts and the psychosocial impact of cancer, 5) covered the significant research on Medical Traumatic Stress, 6) brought the research alive through real life examples from Mattie's treatment, 7) highlighted a trauma model and discussed intervention strategies, and 8) had the students work on a case study to operationalize the model and interventions covered.


After the class was over, I snapped a picture of some of the students who were willing to have their picture taken. On the far left is Dr. Jean LaFauci Schutt. Jean and I both graduated from the George Washington University, and I was honored that she invited me to her class. Jean has been involved in our Foundation Walks, is a Mattie Miracle Supporter, and a blog reader. In fact tonight she told me that she was in Sea Isle City, NJ on August 5, 2009, when Mattie's prognosis became terminal. It was eerie for both of us, because as my faithful readers know I was just in Sea Isle City last weekend for a wedding. The connections we share always intrigue me.
 
I felt it was important to show the students the video of Mattie, because it makes the topic more tangible and real. It is vital that they understand that what we were talking about isn't some theoretic issue. Instead, it is an issue that impacts the lives and futures of children and their families. As I was creating this 54 slide PowerPoint presentation, I learned a great deal. Because what the slide show provides is a solid explanation for why Mattie and I developed medical traumatic stress. Medical traumatic stress is rarely talked about and you should keep in mind that NO professional in the hospital diagnosed this issue in Mattie. I diagnosed it myself after researching the symptoms I was seeing in Mattie on the Internet! I neither had the time or the mental strength to figure this out during Mattie's battle, yet his care team wasn't helping me. So I had to take matters into my own hands. Once I figured out that the symptoms had a clinical explanation and a NAME, I then educated Mattie's care professionals and demanded the attention of a child psychiatrist. Medical traumatic stress is defined as "a set of psychological and physiological responses of children and their families to pain, injury, medical procedures, and invasive or frightening treatment experiences.” As I explained to the students tonight, Medical Traumatic Stress doesn't only occur during diagnosis, it can occur throughout treatment and there after! For both the child and the caregivers.
 
The students asked very meaningful questions tonight and I was impressed in their interest. After all this is not a happy topic and it can be painful to hear and sit through. When the presentation was over, I was packing up my things and a student asked me whether she could ask one last question. In front of her colleagues, she asked me what it is like to see the video of Mattie and how do I care for myself after giving such a presentation. I frankly wasn't expecting this question, because in all my other presentations, no one was worried about me. In many ways it is a very profound question. The class also wanted to know if Peter and I have grieved the same way. So there was a lot to touch upon. Self care is important, but as I told the class, my self care is constantly evolving and changing. Since I need different things during each stage of our grief process. At the core however, I did tell them about the blog, and I do believe the blog is one of my main outlets for self care. Some may not view this as an ideal vehicle of support since I do not get feedback or input from my readers, but sometimes getting this commentary isn't necessary.

November 6, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Tuesday, November 6, 2012 -- Mattie died 165 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2008. Mattie was in the Child Life playroom and got the opportunity to paint a pumpkin. I can tell by looking at this picture, that it was an admissions to the hospital day. How do I know? Because Mattie was wearing clothes. Typically once Mattie was admitted to the hospital, he preferred wearing pajamas. During the day and at night. He wasn't interested in wearing clothes at all! I also notice  in this photo that Mattie was using his left hand, which also tells me that this picture was taken after his first surgery of his right arm. Mattie was right handed but after his surgery Mattie became very talented with his other appendages. 


Quote of the day: Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer


I started the day going to zumba. At class, I met up with my friend Heidi. Heidi is one of my friends helping me collect candy for our Mattie Miracle Post-Halloween Candy Drive. Heidi alone must have collected close to 80 pounds of candy for me!!! After loading up my car with Heidi's candy (which she collected from friends and her neighborhood), I then ventured to Ann's house. Ann's house is our main drop off center for Mattie Miracle Candy. Ann has been preparing me for what I was going to see, by emailing me photos each day. But the actual sight of this was overwhelming. One of the bags at Ann's house weighed literally 45 pounds!



When I got home this afternoon, I spent time carrying each of the bags of candy into our home and then began sorting. This may not look that challenging, but this sorting that you see here took me over two hours. I will be doing this for several days since more candy continues to come in.

I have piles of candy ALL over our home. Here is just one of the piles. The Foundation is getting candy mailed to us and we are actively collecting candy in Virginia, DC, and Maryland!

The second pile! We are VERY grateful to every individual and community group who contributed to our Candy Drive.

This is the third pile. Not unlike last year, when you store SO much candy in one place, the smell can actually be nauseating. Which is an ODD thing for me to say, since I love chocolate.
On Wednesday, I will be delivering a two hour lecture on the trauma of childhood cancer at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology. I have been working on this presentation for weeks now, and have developed a PowerPoint  with 54 slides. My goal is to introduce students to Mattie, to our Foundation, and to share the current research on the trauma of childhood cancer on the entire family system. Today marks the 165th week Mattie has been gone from our lives. He may be gone, but his life, his spirit, and the message of his battle live on in each activity we plan and host.  
 

November 5, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012


Monday, November 5, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2008. I know that this photo must have been taken on a Friday, given the activity we were doing. We were out in the Pediatric Unit hallway enjoying an experiment hosted by the Georgetown University Chemistry Club. I was kneeling between Mattie and Brandon (Mattie's big buddy). The other person in the picture holding the blue container of dry ice was Chris. Chris was the Chemistry Club president and really tried hard to engage Mattie during his visits. That day, Chris gave each of us a red rose. You can see Mattie holding his rose, while I am dipping my rose into the dry ice. Literally after a few seconds in dry ice, this rose became a popsicle. Once I pulled the rose out of the dry ice, Chris directed me to throw it on the floor. The rose shattered in hundreds of pieces, not unlike a piece of glass. When I looked at this photo tonight, it jogged my memory. Mattie loved the rose so much, that he refused to dip it in dry ice. He wanted to hold it and take it back to his room. Keep in mind that flowers and plants are not allowed in a PICU. But having the opportunity to hold something living was special to Mattie. He may not have verbally expressed it, but in essence that was what he was saying by refusing to use his rose in the experiment.


Quote of the day: Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures. ~ Bob Kerrey



I think there is a lot to be said for unexpected kindness. Kindness that is given without a motive or expectation for something in return. We see glimmers of this type of kindness around us on a daily basis, but I am not sure we acknowledge it. Or accept it for how beautiful it is. Last night I received an email from my friend Karen, who lives in NY. Karen is a NYC high school math teacher, not unlike my mother. In fact, if you ask Karen why she became a teacher, she will say she was inspired by my mom. My mom was an outstanding math teacher, she challenged her students, and many of them went on to college and to accomplish great things.

We live in a screwed up society where teachers are taken for granted and are not compensated appropriately for the jobs that they do daily. Many of Karen's students have been greatly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Her stories are horrible and depressing, because children this age should not be worried about clothes, food, and where they will live next. Forget how they will get to school or even if they will attend school, right now they are dealing with the most basic of needs..... safety and food. Karen could have spent the day yesterday at home preparing for school to start today. After all, school has been out for a week because of the storm's devastation. But instead, she went to different clothing stores and other establishments around town asking for item donations to give to her students today. The school did not ask her to do this and clearly she would receive no compensation for doing this. Her actions to me speak to unexpected kindness, and I have no doubt that providing these surprises to her students brought out the best in both of them. I know from personal experience that the educators who had the most impact on my life were those who went beyond their lesson plans in the classroom. Teaching and transforming young lives requires a personal investment, and I can't think of a better way for students to know that their teacher cares about them than by receiving needed items at a time of crisis.

As for myself, I had several different lows today. However, in the midst of this, I received an email from a friend inviting me to a party, and also letting me know that a portion of the proceeds from the jewelry that would be sold at this party would go to Mattie Miracle. This was a complete surprise to me, an unexpected kindness. To me these unexpected kindnesses are what makes life special, what makes us feel human and connected, and on difficult days, an unexpected kindness can help change one's entire perspective. May we all be the recipients of unexpected kindness as well as feel the joy of giving this surprise to someone else.  

November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Tonight's picture was taken on October 20, 2008. The picture was taken at 6:45am, an ungodly hour of the morning, as Mattie was being prepped for his first limb salvaging surgery. Why on earth we were all smiling is beyond my comprehension. Other than one is just conditioned to smile for a camera. Nonetheless, I felt documentation was important and I took pictures with the thinking that Mattie would look back on his treatment days and say... wow I did this? Those days never came. But in all reality on October 20th, we were stressed out and beyond scared of what the next several hours held for Mattie. Peter was allowed to walk into the operating room with Mattie so Mattie wouldn't be alone until he was sedated. Only one of us was allowed to do this, so I was happy Peter handled that aspect of the day. Keep in mind what this day held for Mattie and us.... We wheeled Mattie from the PICU to the pre-op area of the Hospital at 6:45am. At 8am the surgery began. Mattie's surgery did not end until 4pm. At 4pm, Mattie was transferred to the PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit), where he spent the next four hours recovering. Mattie did not return to his PICU room until 8pm. Keep in mind that returning the PICU did not mean he was in great shape. Mattie had intense pain. In fact Mattie's first two surgeries had a mismanaged pain plan, but by the third surgery, we addressed that problem with enough screaming. So in total we are talking about a 14 hour day for Mattie, and unfortunately that was only one of three surgeries he underwent. It is no surprise given all that Mattie endured, the mental health impact on him and us was significant.
 

Quote of the day: Happy people plan actions, they don't plan results. ~ Dennis Wholey

As promised, I took a lot of pictures of our Saturday away at Cape May. Peter and I are back in DC now. I would like to share our trip with you through pictures. However,  one thing I quickly learned is that Cape May is not around the corner, it took us three and a half hours to drive there, and 90 minutes of which are on one lane back roads.


On our drive to Cape May, we saw this in the distance. A huge cow statue. In Pilesgrove, NJ, is located COWTOWN RODEO.  Being a cow affectionato, this whole venue caught my attention!
Cowtown Rodeo was started in 1929 by Howard Harris Sr. and his son, Howard "Stoney" Harris Jr. Stoney held the first rodeo in Woodstown NJ, in conjunction with the Salem County Fair, at the original auction grounds on North Main Street. Presently this ground is known as Harris Acres, with the back stretch of the race track now being the Presbyterian Church on Auburn Road. The rodeo was held annually during the County Fair until 1937. World War II caused the rodeo to be put on hold until 1955 when Howard Harris III, Stoney's son, came back from the University of Idaho carrying the 1954 National Intercollegiate All Around Rodeo Championship saddle with him. Howard and Stoney worked together in establishing what is now known as the "oldest weekly rodeo in the United States." Cowtown Rodeo was, and is, known nationwide due to live national TV exposure in 1957 and 1958 and taped exposure nationwide in 1968 and 1969. The rodeo outgrew the original arena and in 1967 Howard built the present arena with a seating capacity of 4000.


As we were driving on the NJ Garden State Parkway, two things caught our attention. First were the clouds with sunlight trying to stream through them. This looked very ethereal. The second thing was the sign. Can you read it? It says, "Fuel restriction north of exit 91, ODD Lic Plates Only." This sign immediately lets drivers know of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy just north of us. On Saturday, only license plates with odd numbers were able to get gas north of where we were.


 
Entering into Cape May
Cape May is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in Cape May County, New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. One of the country's oldest vacation resort destinations. With a rich history, award-winning beaches, designation as a top birdwatching location, and many examples of Victorian architecture, Cape May is a seaside resort drawing visitors from around the world. Cape May was recognized as one of America's top 10 beaches by the Travel Channel and its beach was ranked fifth in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest.

 
Peter snapped a picture of me before we headed to the wedding reception. The wedding was in Sea Isle City, NJ, and our hotel was in Cape May. The church and the reception were about 35-40 minutes away from Cape May.
 
 
I tried to take a picture of Larry and Michele. However, I wasn't at the best of angles. They were married at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, and this picture was during the exchange of vows. I believe it is natural for weddings to remind married couples of their own wedding. It isn't unusual in a Catholic wedding to hear about the wishes for a couple to have children and to bring them up in the Catholic religion. I remember hearing this at my own wedding. Of course at the time that seemed like a wonderful and happy wish for our future. However, I have seen the future, a future most married couples will never know or see fortunately. That of a child dying before them. So hearing about this dialogue of children just made me sad. Actually hearing about weddings and the birth of children make me very sad in general. This may not be understandable to my readers, since these are considered happy and blessed occasions. But for me, these occasions are symbolic of very different things. So needless to say, I am not the best company at happy events and occasions.

 
Larry and Michele's reception was held in Avalon, NJ. This was one of the views I captured from the yacht club. Unlike Cape May, Avalon was hit a bit more by Hurricane Sandy. As we drove through Avalon, we could see piles of garbage, furniture, and rugs outside of almost every house. Indicative of the damage inside.
 
This morning when we woke up and opened our curtains, this was the view we saw. When I checked into our hotel yesterday, the person at the desk, who I swear reminded me of an under taker, gave me a free room upgrade. He gave me a room with a wonderful view of the Atlantic. The sun desperately tried to burst through the grayness all around us. Despite the gray and cold weather (it was in the 40s on the Cape), seeing the water and sea birds were wonderful.  
 
Cape May looked a lot different before the fire of 1878. The town is the oldest seashore resort in the nation. In the 1800's, Cape May had quite a collection of classically designed seaside hotels. The fire of 1878 wiped out 30 blocks of the early seashore town, including some of the resort's major hotels. In the next several photos I will share some history of the Cape's architecture, along with a photo of one of the many beautiful homes. This house is called Cape S Cape. A play on words.... for Cape Escape.
 
To this day, when someone in Cape May talks about "the fire" they're referring to this major event more than a hundred years ago. The town wasted no time rebuilding. For the most part, the new buildings that went up were built in the modern style of the day...later known as the Victorian style... lots of gingerbread trim, gables and turrets. This Blue Lady caught my attention as we took a walking tour of the town.
 
The fire explains the huge concentration of late 19th Century dwellings in Cape May today...everything from Gothic Revival to Queen Anne design...all part of the country's Victorian era. This is the Hotel Macomber which was built at the turn of the century and was the last Historic Landmark building erected in Cape May.
 
The homes were mostly single family seashore homes. They're often called "painted ladies" because of their colorful appearance. But those beautiful Victorian homes faced a new threat a hundred years later...just as serious as the fire of 1878.
It was the push to demolish the old, to make way for brand new construction in the last half of the 20th Century that almost did more damage than the fire of 1878. In the fall of 1894, William H. Church, a contractor and builder, of West Cape May, began work on a 60-room boarding house at the foot of Ocean Street opposite the Star Villas, one of the most delightful locations on the beachfront. The structure was to be four stories high with a French roof and roomy porches from which there would always be an unobstructed view. The house was to be fitted throughout with steam heat in order to remain open all year. Gas lights were installed and an electric ball system. Special family rates were offered. One hundred thirty-five guests could be accommodated. It was to be known as the Colonial and to be operated by the builder himself. Today this is what the Colonial looks like and it had a name change to the Inn at Cape May.
 
Many fine old buildings were lost in the new building blitz before the entire town was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. But once they were saved from demolition, the question was how were they going to be maintained. Few modern day families could maintain an eight or ten bedroom house, with high ceilings, formal parlors, and often maids' quarters. There are so many houses to choose from, but this Yellow Lady deserved a photo.
 
Slowly, many of Cape May's huge Victorian seaside "cottages" have been turned into bed and breakfast inns, guest houses and even restaurants. They could no longer be maintained as private houses! Check out this Pink Lady! 

Congress Hall
For almost two centuries the hotel has offered hospitality to locals and visitors alike. It began life in 1816 as a simple boarding house for summer visitors to one of America's earliest seaside resorts. Its owner, Thomas H. Hughes, called his new boarding house "The Big House." The local people had other ideas, though. Convinced the building was far too large to ever be a success they nicknamed it "Tommy's Folly." In this first incarnation it was a quite different affair. Downstairs was a single room that served as the dining room for all the guests, who stayed in simply partitioned quarters on the two upper floors. The walls and woodwork were bare and supplies of provisions were at times unreliable. Guests were undeterred by the Spartan conditions and summer after summer the new hotel was packed to bursting. In 1828, Hughes had been elected to Congress and in honor of his new status his hotel was renamed Congress Hall. As Congress Hall's reputation grew, so did Cape May's. By the middle of the 19th Century Cape May had become a booming holiday destination, rivaling Saratoga and Newport for popularity. Congress Hall had doubled in size and was welcoming guests from around the region, but in 1878 the building was destroyed when a huge fire swept through 38 acres of Cape May's seafront. Within a year, the owners rebuilt the hotel, this time in brick rather than wood, and business blossomed once again. The hotel and Cape May proved so popular that they gained renown as a summer retreat for the nation's presidents. Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan all chose to vacation here. President Benjamin Harrison made Congress Hall his "summer White House" and conducted the affairs of state from the hotel.

 
Peter and I had breakfast at Congress Hall! I am enamored by historic hotels and from my perspective it was worth a wait in the Hotel's library to get a seat into the Blue Pig Tavern (the restaurant inside of Congress Hall).
 
Congress Hall, in my opinion, is one of the loveliest hotels in Cape May. Its old world charm and elegance, reminds you of a by gone era. The hotel, unlike others, is very well maintained. The Blue Pig Tavern serves locally grown food, the setting is very charming with a wonderful wood burning fire setting the room aglow, and the china used today reflects the same hollowware pattern manufactured by the Buffalo Pottery Company from the late 18th century.
 
The Hotel has charming gardens and views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the rocking chairs lined up outside Congress Hall for visitors to enjoy their surroundings during warmer weather.
 

After breakfast, we walked through the town's main shopping "mall." There were pumpkins, gourds, Indian Corn, and mums all over to celebrate Fall.

A Pretty Lady on Ocean Street

My name sake! The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast.

To me this is a Hot Pink Cutie!

My last photo is that of the Chalfonte Hotel. This historic Hotel was established in 1876. It is recognized as the oldest continuously operating hotel in Cape May, America's Original Seaside Resort.