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

February 14, 2015

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken on Valentine's Day of 2009. Our last Valentine's with Mattie! That day Mattie banned me from the Child Life playroom, while he worked with his art therapists to create all sorts of Valentine's day surprises for me. Everything from cards, to a cardboard box filled with paper creations, to this lovely heart crown. When I was brought into the room to be given all these surprises, Mattie's art therapist, Jenny, snapped this photo of Mattie and I together. This happens to be one of my favorite photos of us together! Jenny captured a signature Mattie move.... which was when he touched his nose to mine and stared into my eyes! 


Quote of the day: Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another. Thomas Merton


Despite it being Valentine's Day, Peter and I worked the entire day on Foundation things. Not unusual for us on the weekends. However, we weren't planning on working on today's particular project. But several members of our psychosocial team asked us for assistance with the creation of a document and when they ask us for help, we tend to drop whatever we have going on since they give 110% of themselves to help us. 


My friend in cancer (she too lost an only child) sent me the final version of Mattie's Heart Tag that she created and had on display at a cancer rally that she attended today. It was very lovely to see Mattie represented and remembered at this event, especially on Valentine's day. I told my friend that this was a very meaningful visual gift to receive!

Another visual gift I received today was from my good friend Mary Ann! A Valentine's poem that was written by a mom who also lost a child. 

There are many different types of love. Certainly when we think about how Valentine's Day is marketed to our society we think of ONLY romantic love. But there are many different forms of love that exist such as between a parent and a child, and between friends. Once you give your heart to your child and have invested in raising a child, it is quite devastating when your child is taken away from you (as Annette Baldwin writes about in her poem). Certainly you have the memories and you can remember the love that you shared. But it isn't the same. Sometimes the memories help and can make you happy and yet sometimes the memories do not help at all.... the memories can make you sad and lead you to feel bitter, angry, and wanting to turn against the world for having what you no longer possess. 

Receiving such a poem today from my friend in a way is healing in its own right because it accomplished TWO things. It makes me know that Mattie isn't forgotten and that my feelings are understood! That is more than half the battle as a grieving parent because over the long term you feel as if no one truly understands you anymore. 



Peter captured our brief and fleeting snow shower tonight!













Show showers on our balcony!




February 13, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015


Tonight's picture was taken in February of 2009. Mattie was home in between hospital admissions and treatment. Mattie was working on creating a homemade volcano in the middle of our dining room floor. Mattie just loved it. Not only did he form and mold it but he got great joy in watching the volcano erupt. With Mattie so much play was about the process, not just about the final result. Of course the more of a mess it made, the greater the fun it seemed to him.





Quote of the day: A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. ~ Frank Morgan


For those of you who may have looked at last night's blog and were unable to hear Mattie's voice in the attachment I posted, please feel free to go back to it. I corrected the problem! You can now hear his sweet voice. 

Since Mattie died, my friend Angie, has a tradition. She sends Peter and I a sweet treat every Valentine's day. Angie and I met at Boston College. We both got graduate degrees in biology together. Angie understands loss and grief all too well and when Mattie was battling cancer, Angie would send Mattie care packages and beautiful notes and thoughtful messages. Yet despite the fact that Mattie has been gone from our lives for five years, Angie still reaches out to Peter and I. Angie's latest Valentine's day treat are See's scotchmarshmallow hearts! I told Angie these are absolutely addictive. Technically I should be sharing them with Peter, but I love them so much that I have claimed the entire dozen for myself. Chocolate is my therapy and these are fabulous little packages of love! Did I always love chocolate? The answer is YES. But the need for chocolate arose in the hospital while caring for Mattie. Under great stress, it is interesting what the body craves. I assure you it isn't a granola bar or nutritious foods. When friends came to visit us in the hospital, many times I was given chocolate treats, which fed my addiction. To this day, chocolate symbolizes many things to me such as .... care, concern, and friendship. 

February 12, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken on February 2, 2009. The lady in the photo with Mattie was Pam. Pam was a former student of mine. The sad part about this is that shortly after Mattie died, Pam died too. Pam came to visit us that day in the hospital. As you maybe able to assess, Mattie wasn't having a happy moment. There could be many reasons for this!!! One of which could be how he was physically feeling! Of course having to go through a hospital admission process was also not easy either. Just by looking at the photo I can tell that it was an admission day to the hospital. How do I know this? Because Mattie had real clothes on! When Mattie was in-patient he only wore pajamas from day to day. 


Quote of the day: Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure. ~ Jane Austen


Recently when I was in Los Angeles, my West Coast friend and avid blog reader, Diane, asked me about the sound of Mattie's voice. I post many photos of Mattie and even our videos that we post on the blog typically just have still photos timed to music. Rarely do our readers have a chance to hear Mattie's sweet voice. Which is a shame, since Mattie had a very cute, adorable, witty, and charming voice!

I think most people who have lost a loved one do find that listening to a loved one's voice is a much harder process than looking at just a photo. I find the sensory combination of a visual and auditory reminder of Mattie very difficult to face, which is why for the most part I do not look at any of our videos that we took of Mattie as he was growing up. 

With that said, tonight as I was looking for a photo to place on the blog I came across a file on my computer that I did NOT recognize that said..... "Mattie's voice on answering machine." I honestly had never seen this file before. It was if it was just calling out for my attention. I know I did not upload it to my files and I know it wasn't in this file location before I went to Los Angeles! So to some extent the file seemed to coincide with the conversation I just had with Diane. I don't believe in coincidence and therefore I knew that meant this file was destined for the blog!


video


When I saw the photo attached to this audio file, I knew right away this wasn't our answering machine! Instead, this was a message Mattie left on Peter's parent's answering machine. A message Mattie left for my father-in-law on his birthday. In July of 2013, Peter actually recorded this message on his iphone and recently placed it on my computer! It is a short message, but adorable and to the point. A true Mattieism! 

February 11, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. This is another favorite photo of mine. I snapped this picture of Mattie outside our hotel in Coronado, CA. You will notice flamingos behind Mattie. Mattie was giving me his impression of one and naturally I felt this deserved to be captured in a photo! 
Quote of the day: We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained. ~ Marie Curie


Tonight I am back safely in Washington, DC. In a way air travel is a rather remarkable thing especially when you experience intense turbulence. I hate flying even on a good day, but on a day when I am flying through weather, I can definitely say I rather be on the ground. Thankfully I had taken Dramamine otherwise my seat mate would have gotten more than he bargained for today. I felt queasy even on the meds. Thankfully the intense turbulence lasted only 30 minutes, in which even the flight attendants had to remain seated. For me being able to look out a window and see land are psychologically important. Not that this is going to logically accomplish anything in an emergency at 36,000 feet off the ground. Yet it helps orient my head, which is crucial if you have motion issues. In any case, I was assigned to sit in a row of the plane today that literally had NO window. Do not ask me how this is possible, but if something odd can happen on a plane, it will happen to me. The flight attendant explained to me that the engineers have been playing around with seat reconfiguration and in the process two rows on the plane landed up without windows. So where a window should be there is only the wall of the airplane. I managed, but wasn't happy about it at all. 

Before I boarded the plane today, I was standing in front of a man who was on his cell phone. He was talking quite loudly, so I couldn't help but overhear his every word. He felt very important, as he told the person on the other end of the phone that he was wining a National award and had to show up to receive the award in a tuxedo. That wasn't so bad, but it only got more revealing as he kept on talking. He then explained that while he was in LA, he got up every morning at 6am, to run 4 miles, and said how delightful that was! He proceeded to say that he also had the opportunity to visit several stores while in LA such as the Nike store, Lululemon and some other athletic store that escapes me right now. He proceeded to tell the person on the phone that Nike has quite the store philosophy. All the "good looking and in shape" people are working the floor of the store and all the blah and not good looking types are working the cash registers. At which point, I couldn't take it any more!!!! I couldn't believe that someone actually existed that could be so shallow, self absorbed, and with screwed up priorities and was standing behind me. I wanted to see for myself just what he looked like since he clearly loved to judge others for their looks! Unfortunately he maybe able to dish it out, but given what I saw, he should work on the gift of humility! I was simply disgusted by his phone call conversation and his attitude, but then Jane Austen's story of Pride and Prejudice (which I just saw as a play on Sunday) came to my mind. Perhaps he was displaying pride and I was dishing out prejudice. Either case, some times when I reflect on the bigger picture and I know that families are struggling with childhood cancer or others of us have lost children to cancer and other diseases, I can't help but view such conversations as frivolous and a whole lot of nonsense.  

February 10, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 -- Mattie died 283 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Mattie LOVED Legoland. Which is NO surprise considering that Mattie was obsessed with Legos. But Legoland has all sorts of rides within it, such as roller coasters. This was where Mattie and I differed tremendously! Mattie LOVED motion and LOVED roller coasters. Fortunately this was something he could do with Peter. They had a ball doing this together in the park. Of course the beauty of the Park is there is something for everyone in there and we all had a memorable time together. Mattie also got a Legoland driver's license while there, which included an adorable photo! The license still hangs on his closet door in his bedroom. His only driver's license. 


Quote of the day: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. ~ Maya Angelou

Today my mom and I went to Lakeside Country Club in Toluca Lake to attend one of her women association luncheons. I am quite familiar with this Country Club since it was just down the block from where I lived when I was growing up and attending high school. Though we were not members of the Club, our neighbor was and she invited us to the Club often. Lakeside is over 90 years old and was made famous by the two Hollywood legends, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby! 

The beauty of this Club is it is surrounded by foothills and behind it is Toluca Lake. A man made lake, but none the less, quite lovely and peaceful. This Club holds a special place in my heart because after I had Mattie, our neighbor (Betty) would invite Mattie to the Club as well. She truly enjoyed interacting with him and especially loved the fact that he appreciated the Lake and feeding the ducks! I remember venturing to this spot many times in this photo with Mattie to feed the ducks. 

A close up of Toluca Lake!

The highlight of my day today was seeing Diane. Diane is the secretary of the Women's Association. However, that is NOT why I took a photo with her. Diane is my friend and biggest West Coast fan. She is a daily blog reader and has been reading the blog since its inception. I learned today that even when Diane wasn't feeling well over the December Holiday season and had to be hospitalized, she still did not miss ONE DAY of blog reading! I am beyond honored. Though we are on different time zones, Diane always ends her day with me. 

So in essence we met and got to know each other through Mattie and his blog. I think that is a powerful statement in and of itself. A seven year old boy connected two women together and he keeps us together. We have a mutual appreciation for each other and I admire Diane's creativity, sensitivity, warmth, and deep understanding. 

The Club was beautifully decorated today with flowers! I am a flower lover and clearly the florist the Club uses also appreciates design and color! This was the arrangement in the ladies room! It was too stunning not to photograph!!!!










This was another glorious arrangement greeting guests in the foyer! Many Clubs have issues with people taking photographs. But Lakeside managed my snapping of pictures today quite well. No one gave me looks or gave me a talking to. In fact, when we arrived at the Club my mom was on her cell phone. The valet person came over to her and I thought he was going to give her a lecture since again that is another rule at Clubs...... no cell phone usage. However, the valet recognized my mom from the days she used to come to the Club with Betty. Toward the end Betty was much older and needed great assistance. My parents always helped Betty and the valet remembered and observed all of this. The valet literally came running over today NOT to yell at my mom for being on the phone, but to give her a hug. I found this very touching. 

As today is my last day in Los Angeles, it seems fitting to highlight some of the wonderful fruit trees that surround me! Check out these glorious lemons!










Not to mention these amazing oranges! All I know is if I had such a tree, I wouldn't just let the fruit hang there not being used! But I think when you have sun every day, you get used to it and don't realize how lucky you are. 







I end tonight's blog with a photo of myself outside my parent's home wearing a tam O'shanter! Why? Well today Diane gave me several wonderful gifts. She had read my most recent blog posting of our visit to the restaurant, Tam O'Shanter. In honor of that visit and also learning that a Tam O'Shanter is a tartan hat with a pom pom on top of it, Diane decided I needed my own hat to commemorate the occasion. I'm ready for Scotland!!! Thank you so much Diane for this clever gift and for being a lovingly loyal reader. You are most appreciated. 


February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. We took Mattie to Coronado, CA. It was a beautiful day and we had lunch outside by the water. Watching the boats and the birds. Though Mattie did not appreciate sitting and eating food like I do, he did like being outside and enjoyed the stimulation of seeing all the things passing by us and it was much easier keeping him engaged this way. Which is why after I had Mattie I gravitated to nature, being outdoors, and needing space and less chaos around me. He naturally needed these things and I became programmed to finding and seeking them out!


Quote of the day: Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. ~ Ancient Indian Proverb



This afternoon, I went with my mom and her friend to their line dancing class. Of course when people think of line dancing, what immediately comes to mind are the favorites: Electric Slide, Elvira, and Boot Scootin Boogie. These early line dances existed in the 1970s and were adaptations of disco line dances. Despite the fact that line dancing has been around since as early as 1950, most of us really haven't heard about it until it became the rage in the 1980s and 1990s, when Country Music took off and dances were created to match the music.    

Now however, line dancing uses more than just the "stereotypical" country music, in fact line dancing uses most styles of music: country as well as modern pop music, Irish, Latin just to name a few. Here is a cute sidebar fact: based on per capita ranking, Durham, N.C. was declared the line dancing capital of America in 2014.

I have done typical country line dancing before and to me it is fun and relatively easy to do! However NOT all line dancing is easy. This is the third time I have attended my mom's class and each time I go, it is a humbling experience. I can understand why most people drop out of the class. It is a class that involves a whole lot of turning and dancing to different walls in the room. It you get disoriented quickly and your memory gets challenged easily, this is NOT the type of dancing for you. I can get easily frustrated because in all honestly all the dance steps look exactly the same to me. I call it twirling in quadrants. I am sure if I did it more often I would appreciate the actual steps. Nonetheless, I try to keep up and as long as I am going in the same direction and moving, I consider it a plus. To give you a feeling for what we did, I included a link to a class in Japan. We danced the same number, Cecilia, tonight. 

Cecilia: Line Dancing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKjEoEAY_ak

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2007. Mattie was standing in front of one of the tar pits outside of the George Page La Brea Tar Pits Museum in Los Angeles. This had to be Mattie's all time favorite museum. Mattie loved hearing how prehistoric animals got trapped in tar pits and how their bones are still excavated today by researched on site. As you can see Mattie did not care for the smell of tar and was making a face for the camera and starting to cover his nose! The smell of the tar behind him was indeed sickening and yet the stories and the history captured in this spot are memorable and noteworthy and kept Mattie coming back each year. 


Quote of the day: Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him. ~ Booker T. Washington


This afternoon, I had the opportunity to see a wonderfully performed community play with my parents. They took me to see Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. I have to admit I have never read the novel, seen the movie, or the play before. So I was a blank slate. Yet I am familiar with the intelligent interpersonal dialogue, the complexities of human dynamics, and humor that Jane Austin so eloquently captured in all of her works. Pride and Prejudice is a novel first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of three daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's three unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood. Bingley takes an immediate liking to Jane, the eldest Bennet daughter, while Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.


While there is sweetness to this romantic tale, the story does pose serious questions about the impact that pridefulness and prejudice can have in the relationships we have with one another and how a judgmental mind can cause us to willfully misunderstand the intentions of those around us. 

A major theme in much of Austen's work is the importance of environment and upbringing on the development of young people's character and morality. Social standing and wealth are not necessarily advantages in her world, and a further theme common is the role and consequences of ineffectual parents. A wonderful quote about Anna Quindlen....... "Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel that teaches us this search is as surely undertaken in the drawing room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery."

This was a large 18 person cast, but each person was incredibly well suited for his or her part. They truly made Austen's work come alive in a very unforgettable manner. Since the story was written in 1813, it is almost funny by today's standards to see the differences in manners and morals. For example, in the play, Jane is kissed by a potential suitor and by 1813 standards that was scandalous. There was an expectation that she was then going to marry this person. Because women just did not go around kissing men! Despite the fact that this novel was written in a completely different century, yet the dialogue and issues presented in pride and prejudice are still alive and well today and are very timely. Issues that can cause havoc, disagreements, and misunderstandings between people. Which is why Pride and Prejudice retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of "most loved books." It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen's memorable characters or themes.

A video clip of "A Design Preview of PRIDE & PREJUDICE"

http://youtu.be/-wZMm4fo0ag