Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 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

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

May 31, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 31 of 2009, in other words, five years old today. I remember this day as if it were yesterday. Mattie wanted to go out for a walk. However, he did not want to go out or be seen in his wheelchair. Instead, he decided to go in the radio flyer wagon that Linda (his child life specialist) gave him as a gift. So as you can see I pushed Mattie around my neighborhood in the red wagon. Clearly if you looked at his bald head, someone could tell he was sick, but that would mean someone would have to look inside the wagon. Mattie's wheelchair was a dead give away that something was wrong. There was no escape that way. After a while, that was tiring for Mattie.... the stares, looks, head turns, and side bar conversations were all hurtful and painful. Of course for Peter and me, the anger this generated was overwhelming and at times we wanted to scream at some of the people who passed us by. We never did, which is remarkable, because the natural instinct when your child is perceived to be made fun of or attacked is to protect him/her. 


Quote of the day: It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.  John Joseph Powell



On tonight's blog, I posted a few Foundation Walk photos that highlight some of the children's activities that we hosted. From my perspective if a child was bored at our Walk, this would greatly perplex me!!! 

This is Bob Weiman, Mattie's head of the St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School. As my faithful readers know, I refer to him as the "Magic Man." Bob taught Mattie magic when he was hospitalized. Bob would visit Mattie on a regular basis at home and in the hospital. In fact, Bob even met Jocelyn a few times and shared magic tricks with her! Bob learned the skill and art of magic from his father, who he lost at a young age to cancer. Bob shares the gift of magic in his job as an educator to every fifth grade student at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes. Fifth graders then take these skills and share them in the community, at nursing homes, and hospitals. I have no doubt Bob's father would be proud of him. But as I tell Bob often, Bob shared a special gift with Mattie, because it was through magic, that Mattie found he possessed a skill that NO ONE else in the hospital had. He could entertain the nurses, doctors, and others in his room and in the hallways. Magic helped Mattie relate to others, especially at a time when he had trouble talking, using words, and feeling good about himself. Magic was magic for all of us. 

In 2009, Bob and Mattie performed several magic tricks together at the Mattie March, which is why, Bob and his fifth graders always have a magic show at each of our Foundation Walks! It is a tradition.



Bob draws a crowd and the crowd is always mesmerized. This is Emily and Abby, friends of Mattie's. They went to preschool with him and they are loyal Mattie Miracle supporters who come to EVERY ONE of our Walks! 






This is Lena! Lena is Bob's daughter! Do you see a resemblance? I know I do!











Here was what our crafts
table looked like at the walk. It is always a popular activity stop! This table was coordinated by our kid's activity coordinator, Debbie. Debbie has worked with us diligently for FIVE years now. Six, if we count the Mattie March which our caring community planned for us in 2009, when Mattie was still alive.



We had a Nail Art table, thanks to Molecule Salon, in Washington, DC! Molecule donates their services to us at every WALK! Pictured in orange is Celina, one of the owners of the Salon. Celina has styled my hair since I was in graduate school. She has known me when I was a student, then a professional and a mom. She is a Mattie Miracle supporter and over the years I have gotten to know her family as she has gotten to know mine. 


This is another one of the many activities Debbie planned for the little kids at the Walk. Water activities are always a popular stop! 
Check out the Hula Hooping! I love his smile! Not to mention that he makes it look easy. 




















This is Margaret, a high school student volunteer, who was helping to face paint at the Walk! Face painting is another popular stop!









Then for the adventuresome types we have a 26 foot rock climbing wall! You would be amazed who goes up on this! It may not look that high in the photo..... but it is huge!
















Wacky World, which is the name of this particular moon bounce, was a hit this year. It wasn't just your ordinary bounce. This thing had slides, twists, and other fun things inside of it. 







The fellow with the red t-shirt is Brian Will. Peter and I met Brian through one of the Georgetown University MBA classes we worked with several years ago. One of Peter's professors invited us to come into several of his classes to introduce his students to the Foundation. In addition, the Foundation served as the class community service project in which students had to analyze our Foundation and develop business strategies and models to help us develop and grow. It was in one of these classes, we met Brian. Brian has remained connected with us throughout this time and reached out to us several months ago with interest in volunteering at the Walk. Brian offered to conduct a kids Lacrosse Clinic at the Walk. Pictured with Brian is Amanda. Amanda is a Ewing's Sarcoma (a form of bone cancer) survivor and has come to our Foundation Walks before. Amanda loves sports and has an incredible 'can do' attitude. Amanda is a ray of sunshine and hope and I am so glad that Herman, our photographer, caught Amanda and her sister playing with Brian!

May 30, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 28 of 2009. You just got to love this photo. Mattie was using his big fly swatter to capture the artistically created bugs that Jessie (one of his art therapists) was flying about the room! Naturally this seems like a lot of fun for my bug affectionato, and it was, but in all of his fun, there was also a physical therapy component designed and factored into it. Mattie thought he was chasing bugs, the rest of us were pleased that he was using his hands and arms and putting pressure on his feet when he was standing. 


Quote of the day: What does it mean to care? Let me start by saying that the word care has become a very ambivalent word. When someone says: 'I will take care of him!' it is more likely an announcement of an impending attack than of a tender compassion. And besides this ambivalence, the word is most often used in a negative way. 'Do you want coffee or tea?' 'I don't care.' 'Do you want to stay home or go to a movie?' 'I don't care.' 'Do you want to walk or go by car?' 'I don't care.' This expression of indifference toward choices in life has become commonplace. And often it seems that not to care has become more acceptable than to care, and a carefree life-style more attractive than a careful one. ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen 


It seems like an incredible spring of sadness of us. As if we needed any help. I am very tired from Foundation work which doesn't help at all, and being so exhausted it makes things much harder to put anything into perspective, but then on top of that my 85 year old friend Mary died in March, my 31 year old friend with Osteosarcoma, Jocelyn, died in April, and now my 50+ year old friend who I have known for a decade is coming to the end of her battle with a neurological disease. This is a lot of loss to contend with back to back on top of already losing Mattie. On top of already being very depleted from working non-stop, and frankly I am not sure I have ever fully recovered from all the illness I have been dealing with since February. When I feel this way, I can easily say enough is enough! I really do not want to take in any more information, hear another problem, or truly reach out to friends. In fact, it is times like these when I feel more isolated because I feel it isn't possible for someone to understand the true extent of such multiple losses or my daily life.


The highlight of my day, which wasn't even for me, was receiving this edible arrangement! I went down to our front desk to pick this up! Everyone was excited for us. In so many ways, our front desk looks out for us and when something nice happens for us, they are happy too! Our friends from Georgetown University Hospital sent this to Peter today because they know he has been ill! I am not sure who was happier, me or Peter? If you want to make me happy, just give me food! This brightened up our day and yes we may be donors to the Hospital, but I expect nothing. So when I get gifts because someone is thinking of me, I always find it touching. 




As promised, today's blog photos will feature Lego Train and cityscape designs at the Fifth Annual Mattie Miracle Walk! As you can see this mom and daughter duo were enjoying the animation! It takes the WAMALUGs (http://wamalug.com/)  and WAMAltcs (http://wamaltc.org/)
hours to set up this display at the Walk, but their designs never disappoint. These groups have been with us FOUR YEARS in a row!!!!

This year we had a team of four set up this amazing Lego
structure which is truly remarkable when you look at it in total!







The fellow in blue is Rich Schamus. Rich and his wife, Linda have participated in our Walk four years in a row and are in charge of bringing the Legos to our Walk! 







Have you ever seen a more intricate city? All I know is Mattie would have LOVED this and if he had become older, I could have pictured him as one of these adults with the same sort of passion for building, creating, and passing along this enthusiasm with others. 



Check out the train going by! This is NOT just a life less model! Everything here moves, that is what makes it so fascinating to young and old alike!

May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 26 of 2009. We were in Mattie's PICU room at the Hospital. Mind you this wasn't a big room! Yet we blew up a kiddie pool, filled it with some water, and put in inflatable toys and Mattie was on the floor playing. Was this the most hygienic place for him to be? Most likely not! But it was very hard to contain an active seven year old to a chair or bed. At some point he wanted to play on the floor! There would be times, I would lay out bed sheets or blankets on the floor, just so Mattie could sit on them and play, but of course this also was challenging because this was a hospital and in the room were big pieces of equipment. But we worked around these obstacles, as this photo clearly shows! When nurses and doctors walked into Mattie's room, they never knew what they were going to find.... literally! 


Quote of the day: In the heart or every caregiver is a knowing that we are all connected. As I do for you, I do for me. ~ Tia Walker


Peter is still home today recovering from a bacterial infection from hell! It has been a rough couple of days here and out of principle, I couldn't let my doctor's office get away with her unethical behavior on Tuesday. Since the office administrator did not call me back like promised to discuss my concern, I got on the phone this morning and called him and left a message. Two hours later he called me back and we had a twenty minute conversation about what had transpired on Tuesday evening. Tuesday was as he called it the "perfect storm." Many things did not align properly for Peter's care, with test results not coming back until 9pm and so forth. But the biggest issue that I had was the medical practice's after hours on-call physician line was NOT working. I repeat was NOT working Tuesday evening. It appeared to work, it accepted messages, yet NO ONE was returning patient messages! Which is highly unusual for this practice. I have used this medical group practice for over 15 years and on-call physicians answer calls within 20 minutes. 

Literally on Tuesday evening I paged the on-call doctor at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 8:20pm, and then 8:30pm. The next morning, my doctor's nurse called me because I had left a nasty gram on my doctor's personal voice mail line. The nurse had the audacity to tell me that the after hours on-call physician did return calls on Tuesday night, just NOT my calls! Needless to say, that aggravated me because to me that was making a judgment call as to what was deemed important. After talking to the office administrator today, I learned that the nurse was completely incorrect. The phone system wasn't functioning and no calls were answered that night and every patient calling in was complaining, JUST LIKE ME! He understood my frustration with the nurse and agreed that doctors would not triage calls in such an insensitive manner. Of course this points out the flaw in the phone system and how there needs to be back up systems in place so that the phone system NEVER shuts down again and patients are unable to reach a physician. I got all my points across and felt like we are on the same page and my doctor knows now if she promises to call me with results or promises a prescription that day, that no matter the TIME OF DAY, she needs to call me!


On tonight's blog, I would like to feature photos of the Lego activities from this year's fifth anniversary Walk. As my faithful readers know, Mattie LOVED Legos! They were therapeutic tools for all of us inside and outside of the hospital!! For the past three years, the Foundation has featured the wonderful Lego groups, WAMALUG (http://wamalug.com/) and WAMALTC (http://wamaltc.org/). These groups come and set up amazing cityscapes and motorized trains for young and old to enjoy watching. I will feature photos of them tomorrow night. 

However, last year Tim (who is pictured here) and Gavin (who is Carolyn's, our Raffle Walk chair, son) approached me and asked me if this year's Walk could include more hands on Lego activities for kids. Both Tim and Gavin are Lego affectionatos like my Mattie, so I took their feedback VERY SERIOUSLY! They both approached me in a very mature manner and really asked me in a way that wanted what was best for the Walk. Tim, was a classmate of Mattie's in Kindergarten. In fact, a funny story..... when Mattie lost his first tooth, it was in Kindergarten class. How did he lose it? Mattie actually spit the tooth out of his mouth right at Tim! Fortunately Tim handled it better than I would have!



This year, thanks to my friend Tina, we got connected with a group called Play-Well TEKnologies (http://www.play-well.org/). Play-Well hosted three tables at our event free of charge and they did a GREAT job. They asked us to provide some volunteers to assist them, so pictured here were our student helpers. These students had a great time assisting the Play-Well teachers along with the kids under the tent and you can see some of the great structures that were built during the event. 

Are you getting a feeling for the type of building going on at the Walk?? Parents wrote to me after the Walk and told me they could have left their child under the Lego tent for HOURS!!!!!!!!!! They were absolutely thrilled, both parent and child. 







Legos everywhere..... on the tables and on the ground!












We even set up some free play Lego tables for the little ones who we thought may want to build and have fun on their own! Clearly kids of all ages gravitate to Legos! 









This fellow was one of the Play-Well teachers working alongside the children!





















Happiness and busyness under the Legos Tent!












May 28, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. What was going on here was.... Mattie was taping Linda (his child life specialist) to the chair. There could have been many reasons for this!!! Primary to Mattie would have been that he did not want her to leave the room! Mattie was very close to Linda and in many ways relied on her and demanded her time and attention. Which of course was challenging since Mattie wasn't Linda's only patient. Yet activities like this were very good forms of physical therapy for Mattie, so any time he wanted to move and use his arms and legs, we really did try to reward him for it and make it fun, because given what he was up against, it was remarkable what he was able to achieve.


Quote of the day: Looking after a very sick child was the Olympics of parenting. ~ Chris Cleave


I came across tonight's quote and it deeply resonated with me. In fact, sometimes when I hear parents tell me they are tired, I acknowledge the feelings and absorb them. But I know internally, the challenges I have somehow survived from Mattie's battle with cancer and realize it was a race that has left scars that no one can see. Unlike the Olympics I did not get a medal, I wasn't acknowledged in the newspaper, on TV, or in the hall of fame. Yet those of us who have cared for a sick child and specifically a child with cancer, understand the heroic efforts I am speaking of. 

Somehow all of these feelings have risen to the surface this week, as I have had to do battle again with the health care system to help Peter yesterday and today. Peter hasn't been feeling well for about eight days now. He has been struggling with congestion and a horrible cough. But over the weekend his symptoms got much worse and he developed very high fevers and other unpleasant symptoms on top of the ones he already had. I realized he needed medical attention because of the severity and persistence of his issues. So I brought him to the doctor yesterday. The doctor examined him and sent him to the hospital for testing. She promised to contact us later in the day with results and prescriptions, so that one way or another he would be started on medication to address his symptoms. Yesterday was one frustration after another, and needless to say the doctor never called us and the after hours on-call physician never returned my FIVE calls. So by 9pm I was ballistic! Not a good place for me to be given my history with the health care profession. I will leave it at that, but I continually to be amazed by the state of affairs with our medical care in this Country. It isn't getting better. If you think it is, you are fooling yourself, and it just means you haven't truly been sick, or helped a loved one who is sick. Dealing with physicians and hospitals have got to be one of the most infuriating, stressful, and anxiety provoking experiences I can think of. I just feel for those who do not have a mouth, who do not know how to advocate, and who are afraid of challenging the system! Good luck is all I can say! 

I would like to continue to share photos from our fifth anniversary walk! Tonight's series will focus upon our Raffle! As always I am deeply grateful to my raffle chair, Carolyn, who has helped me five years in a row with the raffle. This was our MOST successful raffle to date! 



This is Sarah and Ben! Last night I showed you a photo of Evelyn, who was at the Zumba session at the Walk. I explained that Evelyn was one of the first moms I met at Mattie's elementary school. These are two of Evelyn's children!




This is Ann! Ann and I have known each other since 2005! Ann's grandchildren went to preschool with Mattie! Ann is a LONG time supporter of Mattie Miracle!!!







This is Elizabeth and her daughter! I love their excitement over purchasing raffle tickets at the Walk! Elizabeth's son and Mattie were on a soccer team together when Mattie was in kindergarten. Interesting to see all the community connections, isn't it?!!! 



Selecting the winning raffle ticket for each item is an art form and science. There is a system with checks and balances. Carolyn, our raffle chair, oversees the whole process, and as you can see the crowd is watching every move! The winning ticket is picked by a different person in the audience for each item. The person comes up, puts their hand in the ticket box and pulls out a ticket. Then Ann, the woman with the bullhorn, reads the winner's name. As you can see, the raffle draws a crowd. 

Happy raffle winners! Just a little piece of trivia, our iPad raffle basket was our most popular seller this year, with 527 tickets sold!!!

May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 -- Mattie died 246 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2009. On first glance one maybe asking.... just what is going on in this photo? This was a physical therapy session taking place on the in-patient pediatric floor of the hospital. On the right hand side of the picture was Anna.... Mattie's physical therapist pulling Linda (Mattie's Child Life Specialist) in a wagon. On the left hand side was Mattie with my mom and Katie (one of Mattie's outstanding HEM/ONC nurses). In essence a race was going on, and really zany kind of things like this had to happen in order to inspire, engage, and motivate Mattie to participate in the hard work ahead of him in therapy. Therapy was challenging, painful, and strenuous for Mattie. Of course knowing what we do now, it almost defies understanding how Mattie had the energy to even attempt to do physical therapy and put up with our demands when cancer was spreading and taking over his body!


Quote of the day: The phrase 'Love one another' is so wise. By loving one another, we invest in each other and in ourselves. Perhaps someday, when we need someone to care for us, it may not come from the person we expect, but from the person we least expect. It may be our sons or daughter-in-laws, our neighbors, friends, cousins, stepchildren, or stepparents whose love for us has assigned them to the honorable, yet dangerous position of caregiver. ~ Peggi Speers


As promised, I am posting more photos from the Foundation's Fifth Anniversary Walk on the blog. This is the third year in a row that we have offered a Zumba session at the Walk. The lady in pink leading the session is my zumba teacher, Jenny. I remember the first year Jenny did the session, there was only a few of us out there dancing around. As time has marched forward more and more brave souls jump on in and try it!

These young fellows moving to the beat of Zumba, may belong to the School's football team. The head football coach at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School, Coach Joseph, encourages his team to come to the Walk and support and the Foundation. I will never forget the first year Coach Joseph's team participated in Zumba. After five minutes of Zumba some of these young high school boys looked like they were ready to pass out on the field. They had me laughing hysterically, because clearly I am much older than they are, and yet I can last through an hour long class! They are good sports and they add a special dimension of fun to our Walk session of Zumba which is why we are always thrilled when they come and participate. Also notice the cute Jack Russell Terrier in the photo. This is JJ, our resident Jack Russell who lives only a few doors down from us in DC. Mattie grew up with JJ and JJ could very well be our Foundation's unofficial mascot. JJ comes to all of our Walks!

This too is a priceless photo! The lady in the baseball hat is Julia. Julia and I met at Mattie's preschool. Julia's daughter and Mattie were in a preschool class together. When Mattie moved onto elementary school, Julia told me about Jenny (my zumba instructor). Julia was friends with Jenny and knew that Jenny's children were at the same school that Mattie was going to attend kindergarten. So in essence it is thanks to Julia that I met Jenny. Of course when I met Jenny originally, it wasn't through zumba. Jenny was actually the room parent for Mattie's kindergarten class! Small world no? It all started with going to Mattie's preschool. Now the lady behind Julia in this photo with the blond hair is Evelyn. On the first get together at Mattie's elementary school, the new students were invited onto campus with their parents. It was a lovely spring day on the field, under a tent with punch and cookies. A magic show was also involved. While Mattie was watching the magic show, I sat on a bench watching and the mom sitting next to me was Evelyn! We still remain in touch today. In fact, Evelyn's daughter, Annie is a teen vendor at our Foundation Walks and promotes the Foundation at her school, and Evelyn's husband, is Coach Dave, who has been a long time supporter of Mattie and the Foundation. So yes these maybe photos of zumba activities, but to me they are meaningful snapshots of people in our lives who have been connected to us for quite some time. 

My lifetime friend, Karen, who lives in New York, came down for the weekend to help Peter and me with the Walk. She not only worked the whole time at the Walk, but she worked before the Walk and MANY MANY HOURS AFTER the Walk (we were both up 2am the day of the Walk)! At one point, during the event she came over and snapped photos while I was doing Zumba! Karen and I have known each other since we were in sixth grade together and in many ways Karen has always known me to dance. Which is most likely why she snapped me in motion!   






This photo to me is priceless! The lady in orange is my friend Heidi! Heidi is one of the first new friends I made after Mattie died. We met in zumba class. I will never forget the first time I entered zumba class three years ago. Heidi approached me and gave me a hug. She knew me, but I had no idea who she was. She knew me through a mutual friend and by being an avid blog reader, but we had never met before. The irony is Heidi felt she knew me because of my writings on the blog. Which I have heard from other people...... the power of writing and telling a story!

The fellow pictured here in the Squirrel costume is Phil, Heidi's husband. Phil was a great sport that day and he and two other dads dressed up and paraded around the track in costume. It really did add to the festivities. But seeing a squirrel doing zumba was truly memorable and this maybe my all time favorite zumba photo for 2014!

May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on Memorial Day of 2009. It is hard to believe this was five years ago today! To us, it seems like it was only yesterday. I can still very vividly remember what it felt like to battle osteosarcoma, to live in a PICU 24 hours a day, and to live on the edge seven days a week. Time moves forward, but some things remain the same. What remains are the memories and the simple fact of the matter is that on September 8, 2009, Peter and came home from Georgetown University Hospital as a twosome. We lost our threesome status. As schools begin to let out for the summer now and families begin to make plans for the summer, this begins another challenging season for Peter and me. 


Quote of the day: Caring is our curse. If we don’t care, we can’t get hurt. But if we didn't care, the world would be a dark place to live. We have to deal with it and realize life isn't fair. People are taken out of our lives, and others live who don’t deserve to continue. ~ Mandi Lynn


I promise to return to Foundation Walk photos tomorrow! I am happy to say that this weekend all Foundation Walk materials have been securely put away in closets and cabinets! This is a major feat of organization! Now it is just a matter of final Walk paperwork to complete. 

This morning I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch! Our complex's painter, who was kind enough to paint our deck for us did not want to be paid for his services. Instead he asked for cookies and some other items in return. So I put a gift bag together of goodies and did some baking! I love cookies, but I wouldn't bake them for just myself! So today I had a great excuse!

Then I put together this mermaid gift. I actually bought this mermaid plant stand years ago and just never planted the plant and put it together. Finally I assembled it and I will be delivering it to Mattie's art teacher tomorrow. I suppose better late than never! My heart was in the right place. Mattie's teacher LOVES mermaids and Debbie and Mattie had a very special bond. In fact, Debbie was the first teacher to tell me how special and unique Mattie was. She called him "an old soul." She saw right away his artistic talents and it was Debbie who worked with Mattie to create, "Mr. Sun." Which is the huge painting of the Sun that hangs in our dining room, and became the symbol for the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation. 




Peter and I ventured to Huntley Meadows Park today. This is a VERY special park which contains 1500 acres of wetlands. We used to take Mattie to this park often and though it is a bit of a drive for us, it is well worth the trip! It is a piece of heaven not far from the city. I attached a link to the park in case you want more information on the park:
http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/huntley-meadows-park/


While walking on the amazing boardwalk at Huntley Meadow, I spotted something slithering by in the water. Peter captured this snake and I came home and did a Google search to find out that it was a Juvenile Northern Black Racer Snake! I personally despise snakes, but Mattie LOVED them and would have practically jumped in the water if he saw this sighting today!










Huntley Meadows has 1/2 miles of boardwalk over a marsh, which is absolutely incredible. The bird life you see is beyond special. It is a birders paradise and people come with binoculars and their cameras. 






Of course in the water are turtles (as you can see), frogs (who were making a RACKET), ducks, and geese. Also great evidence of beavers busy at work! 






To me this is absolutely a beautiful sight! So peaceful and green. It is the perfect escape from the hectic pace of city living. 







We snapped this photo from the elevated tower along the boardwalk. But it gives you an idea for the tranquility  that surrounds you. Even though other people are also visiting the park, they appreciate the beauty and respect the quiet nature of the surroundings. Though I do not venture to Huntley Meadows on a regular basis, each time I visit, I say to Peter...... we need to come here MORE often!

May 25, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken on May 24 of 2009. That day one of our friends brought Mattie some decorations for Memorial day weekend. Mattie decided to decorate his wheelchair for "Rolling Thunder."  Rolling Thunder is a tradition in Washington, DC, over the Memorial Day weekend in which over 900,000 motorcycles gather to do a "ride for freedom" from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The ride originated in 1988, as a march/demonstration designed to hold the government accountable for all POW/MIAs. Rolling Thunder will continue until each POW/MIA is accounted for and if you have never experienced Rolling Thunder, all I can say is it is unforgettable. Especially the SOUND! When you put thousands of motorcycles together it indeed sounds like thunder. It made an impression on Mattie in his short life time. So though trapped in the hospital that weekend (as he was most holidays!), he created his own rolling thunder within the hallways. 


Quote of the day: The person who is rich is the one who possess kindness, caring, help others when needed, gives things that money can't buy, and spend time with those who need someone to listen to their stories. Sometimes money isn't needed. ~ Ellen J. Barrier



Tomorrow I will return to posting Foundation Walk photos on the blog. Today, I am posting other photos of our day. Yesterday evening, we visited Mattie's memorial Yellowwood Tree at his school. The tree is growing and thriving. In fact it is getting quite tall! 













Recently my dad asked me what was written on Mattie's memorial plaque by the tree. So I took a photo of the plaque. I remember this tree dedication as if it were yesterday. The tree ceremony was held on May 27, 2010. That day the Heads of School gathered with us, along with the School Chaplain, and many of Mattie's classmates and parents. These families are the ones who contributed the tree to the school. Each of the children got to water the tree with a watering can that day, which in a way seemed like a symbolic baptism for the tree! The original tree that was planted in 2010 was an oak, but that tree died in the fall. At which point the Yellowwood was planted in its place. 

We spent some time outside on our deck today. It was a beautiful weather day, with not a cloud in the sky. From Mattie's bedroom window, this is my bird's eye view into our secret garden. It has taken quite a lot of time to transform this space after the horrible winter and spring we have had. 


We made the decision that we wanted to get out and take a walk today. We wanted to go to a park, which meant taking our car! That was our first mistake. Typically we go away over Memorial Day weekend, so we literally have forgotten the kind of congestion Rolling Thunder produces in DC. Roads and bridges were closed all over the place. While driving, I snapped a photo of motorcycles parked on the grass. They were everywhere!!!  

We had motorcycles parked next to us, driving with us, and basically ALL around us for as far as the eye could see. 






We managed to get to Scott's Run Nature Preserve today! Getting there wasn't as hard as getting home! Which was far more challenging. This is a preserve we used to take Mattie to on the weekends, but we hadn't been there for MANY years! Because of traffic patterns and congestion, this was the logical place for us to walk around today. 










While walking we were greeted by this huge millipede. To me this was quite a Mattie sighting! Mattie would have absolutely LOVED this creepy crawler.






The preserve has a water element to it, which is another reason Mattie loved it. The water attracts dogs and kids, and there was a lot of activity in and out of the water. We walked, we talked, and of course we always remember!