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

November 27, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken the day after Thanksgiving in November of 2008. Mattie and Peter had a Black Friday tradition with one another. It did not involve shopping! Instead they took out all our outdoor Christmas lights and would work on creating a magnificent display in our commons area. Each year, Mattie and Peter would purchase a new light for the display, thereby expanding the display every year. In 2008, they bought this Scooby Doo outdoor light to add to their creation! Mattie loved Scooby Doo and while undergoing treatment we watched every episode and movie possible. So that new light addition that year seemed appropriate. When Mattie died, so did our lighting of our commons area. People used to LOVE IT! In fact I still have neighbors telling me how much joy our displays gave to their holidays! 


Quote of the day: The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served. Gordon B. Hinckley



We went to the Los Angeles County Museum today to see an exhibit entitled, Frank Gehry. A tribute to the Canadian born architect who is now 86 years old. 

Outside the museum, Peter posed inside "Urban Light," a large-scale assemblage sculpture by Chris Burden. The installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s.



Here is some information below about Frank Gehry. I have to admit I knew he was a famous architect, but am not familiar with most of his works! Being a traditionalist, I can now understand why!

Frank Gehry has revolutionized architecture’s aesthetics, social and cultural role, and relationship to the city. His pioneering work in digital technologies set in motion the practices adopted by the construction industry today. The Canadian-born, Los Angeles–based architect’s work interrogates a building’s means of expression, a process that has brought with it new methods of design and technology as well as an innovative approach to materials. Gehry's innovation and ability to push the boundaries of architecture garnered him the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1989.


Frank Gehry presents a comprehensive examination of his extraordinary body of work from the early 1960s—he established his firm in Los Angeles in 1962—to the present, featuring over 200 drawings, many of which have never been seen publicly, and 65 models that illuminate the evolution of Gehry’s thinking. Tracing the arc of his career, the exhibition focuses on two main themes: urbanism and the development of new systems of digital design and fabrication, including his use of CATIA, a software tool used in the aeronautics and automobile industries, which allows the digital manipulation of 3-D representations. This retrospective offers an opportunity to reflect on the development of Gehry’s work and to understand the processes of one of the great architectural minds.

As we entered the exhibit, this is what we were first hit with. A sculpture entitled, "Vulcanized Paper." It is massive and eye catching, and I will leave it at that. 




Within the exhibit is one of Gehry's famous quotes: "I had a funny notion that you could make architecture that you would bump into before you would realize it was architecture." To me this says it all, and he captures his own artistic style quite well. To me there is something askew, visually unpleasing, and almost leaves you UPSET after looking at them. After being in this exhibit, I literally left with a terrible headache and with a terrible allergy. I am not sure if it was dust from the models, all the wood platforms they are displayed on, or what. But it was a noticeable unhealthy feeling from being in that space. 



Here is one of Gehry's models! It is a model of the Brain Health Center at Cleveland Clinic. I hate to admit it, but as soon as I read what this was a model of, I broke out in laughter! To me it seems like a disorganized mind put this together, and the fact that it represents a building where one is seeking brain health seems dissonant/contradictory 
to me! 



This white number (which is really shiny silver in real life) is the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. 














What the concert hall looks like in real life! Geometric shapes comprised of tin foil!




There was a room filled with Gehry's models. What is captivating though in this display is the photo of the model factory on the wall. Each table in the factory is dedicated to the design of one of Gehry's creations. Clearly just designing the models alone is a major business. 



This is the Louis Vuitton 
Headquarters in Paris. I tried to be open minded about what I was seeing, but Gehry's work doesn't do anything for my mind, heart, or spirit! 



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2005. We took Mattie to Florida during the Christmas season. In honor of my mom's milestone birthday today, I purposefully selected this photo to post! 





Quote of the day: When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed. Maya Angelou


This was a photo of our Thanksgiving Day/Mom's birthday dining room today!













Peter and I were cooking the entire day! Here is what our dinner buffet looked like!












Peter snapped a photo of me with my parents!














I captured a photo of Peter in the garden! Typically Peter is taking the photos of all of us so I wanted to make sure we got a photo of him too! 

















Here is what my homemade pumpkin pie looked like!













A photo of our apple pie. Somehow after a full day of cooking and cleaning, I don't seem to have much energy to process or write anything. Other than we hope our readers had a beautiful Thanksgiving! 

November 25, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie received this wonderful turkey hat from his school counselor, and as you can see Mattie loved it and put it right on. He was the cutest turkey around in my opinion. This was our last Thanksgiving with Mattie and it is a holiday neither Peter nor I will ever forget. Mattie was home recovering from limb salvaging surgery. He was in severe pain and it was at that time his clinical depression and PTSD symptoms began. It was frightening and what I recall feeling was absolute helplessness and hopelessness. It maybe why I really do not care for Thanksgiving anymore. 


Quote of the day: It's not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.  Leo Buscaglia


Peter and I started our day off by making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie for Thanksgiving Day dinner. I learned how to make a "Brown Bag Apple Pie" from my mother in law. Who I believe got this recipe from her mom. Needless to say this pie recipe has been in Peter's family for generations. It has to be my all time favorite pie and there are many secret little steps to this pie, but the key is that you have to put the pie in a brown paper bag (like a grocery bag) and bake it stapled shut in the oven for an hour. I know that may sound odd and perhaps you think paper will burn in a 425 degree oven, but it doesn't. Paper burns at 451 degrees. Baking an apple pie in a brown paper bag has many advantages..... all the juices remain in the bag and not all over your oven, and second and most importantly it seems to trap the juices in the pie! It gives the pie a fantastic and unforgettable flavor! 

We are working on getting dinner prepped for Thursday, as Thursday is a milestone birthday for my mom. In addition to cooking dinner for 10 people, we are also hosting a dinner party for her on Saturday. We stopped by the restaurant today to finalize things, and I am glad that Peter and I could be in Los Angeles for this special occasion. Given how I have been feeling and then dealing with surgery, nothing was guaranteed. 


Meanwhile, in Alexandria, VA, the last sorting event took place today! The sorting event took place at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School (SSSAS). This was Mattie's School, and the School did an "All-School Saintsgiving Candy Sorting"day!!! Students from all three campuses collected post-Halloween candy and sorted it for Mattie Miracle! Mattie Miracle is THANKFUL to SSSAS and we know that thousands of families caring for children in our region will benefit from this incredible service!!!!





This was the crowd which gathered to sort candy today at Mattie's school!


















People were filled with energy and were having fun while sorting candy. I think candy can bring a smile to just about anyone's face. 


















Each table appeared to have their own system for candy sorting, and that is also part of the fun! To develop your own system that works for you and your own team. 

















Get the picture for the number of people involved in this process??


















Here is where the final sorted products landed. Right now, Mattie's school is storing about 5,000 pounds of candy for us, for which we are very grateful. I will be teaming up with the School on December 1, and making the last candy donations around town!


November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 -- Mattie died 323 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in November 2004. Mattie was two and a half years old. My mother in law sent this round red toy to Patches, our cat. Patches of course loved it, but as you can see SO DID MATTIE. He got a kick out of playing with it and also entertaining Patches. The funny part about this toy was when you squeezed the hand pump, a little toy mouse would pop out of the hole in the red round base. It was like hide and seek with a mouse, and it was hysterical to watch both Mattie and Patches react to this surprise. 




Quote of the day: There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. John Holmes



We went for a walk today in Toluca Lake. When I went to high school in Los Angeles, Toluca Lake was where our home was located. It is a community filled with unique houses that date back to the 1920's and the landscaping and trees that comprise the community are just very special! My first spotting today were these wonderful sunflowers. Flowers that mean a great deal to me. 



It is not unusual in Southern California that homes have outdoor fountains. As we passed a house today, I noticed this glorious fountain......a fountain that had a Goldfinch show taking place. I caught this one bird, but there were several others fluttering all around. 







As we continued walking, we came along these two kitties! Honestly they looked like they were waiting on their door step for lunch and weren't in the least disturbed by our presence or my photos!









Check this out? This plant is an eye catcher! An agave! You just can't help but want to touch it, which of course I did! On the sides of each of the fronds are prickly
needles, so you clearly know it is the boss. 










Now this one to me was noteworthy! The grass looks beautiful no??? Well it is Synthetic Grass!. In other words, astro turf. Los Angeles is dealing with such a drought, that people can't water there lawns or gardens. Only twice a week and for minutes at a time!!! So people are turning to astroturf! 

Here is what is being promoted about astroturf..... Astroturf is a lifestyle that saves not only money and precious resources but also allows more free time for our customers for the important things in life. Instead of fussing around mowing the lawn on a weekend our artificial landscape turf is virtually maintenance free. No more mowing! Not only will you have more free time, you’ll also save big on your water bill.



This was one of my favorite roses to see today in Toluca Lake. Something about the white picket fence and colorful roses!!!













More Roses!!! It was a glorious weather day, and as Peter and I know, we have to appreciate these warm and sunny days in November!

November 23, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2004. Mattie absolutely LOVED trains. All kinds of toy trains. This little table we had for Mattie was used for all sorts of activities, chats, and lunch! As you can see it wasn't unusual for train tracks to be set up on this table. However, with Mattie's creations, he loved leaving them assembled for days after he designed them because he would usually build upon them and continue the play. 



Quote of the day: The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. Ralph Waldo Emerson


This morning we went for a three mile walk in my parent's neighborhood. When I think about the fact that it is cold in Washington, DC and yet in the upper 70s here, it is hard to imagine! Along our walk we came across these beautiful hibiscus trees and had to snap a photo!















We also walked passed several grapefruit trees. I was perplexed why no one picks their trees, but I guess when you have access to such a tree, it is something you just almost take for granted.  













This to me was a LA sight..... "Mannequin Santa" just hanging out on a balcony!


















Meanwhile, back in Alexandria, VA, there was a caravan of candy underway! Thanks to Bud Garikes (upper school director), Dean Mills, Dean Supple, and several strong St. Stephen's & St. Agnes high school seniors, around 4,000 pounds of candy was moved from my friend Ann's home to the School. The School will store it for me until December 1, when they will help me distribute it to our remaining sites around town!

Students carried 45 LARGE bins filled with candy to the bus. I assure you candy is very heavy and you really do need able bodies assisting in this important task. 









I wasn't there to see the reaction these students had to seeing this candy or to hear their commentary, but I can imagine what it was like! Because even though I have become somewhat desensitized to the candy over the years, when I look at all of it in totality it is shocking.













A VERY FULL BUS load of CANDY!!!


November 22, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2005. We took Mattie to Fort Lauderdale that holiday season and visited Butterfly World. An amazing preserve filled with all sorts of butterflies and even birds! A little piece of paradise. That afternoon we introduced Mattie to parakeets and as you can see he was intrigued, fascinated, but hesitant to feed them himself. Which is understandable considering these birds were flying freely all over the place and had no trouble landing on your head or shoulder!




Quote of the dayDoing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.  Horace Mann

Peter and I landed in Los Angeles safely from an uneventful flight. On the flight with us was a woman with a dog. This is the second time I have seen this occurrence. The dog wasn't in a carrier, but sitting right next to the passenger. Like a therapy dog, except with no special sign attached to the dog. I assume these dogs that I have seen on flights are there to assist their companion with anxiety! But these dogs always capture my attention and today's pooch was walking up and down the aisle on a leash! You couldn't miss him!

Peter captured a photo of the famous Hollywood sign as we were landing. It was a glorious weather day in LA, in the 70s, which was a lovely change from what we left in DC.










We went out tonight for dinner, and strolled through this wonderful lit shopping area. It wasn't congested, but as Peter described it, enchanting. 


















We took Peter to the water themed area in this complex. The water is filled with koi and turtles and every time I visit this area, it reminds me of Mattie. Mattie would have loved the metal statues of turtles and things. As you can see, Peter sat on a spraying turtle statute, with water gushing out of this turtle's mouth! 














Peter snapped a photo of my mom and I by the pond. 















This little boy statue gets me EVERY time. It reminds me of Mattie and I wanted to show it to Peter tonight! Who enjoyed it just as much.