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

January 9, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie and Peter were in the woods behind Peter's parents house. Peter spent many hours in these woods as a child and he wanted to share this with Mattie. Mattie of course already loved nature, being outside, checking out streams and bodies of water, and of course his favorite past time.... collecting sticks and branches of all kinds. Many of which usually came home with us and were added to Mattie's stick collection in our commons area. 






Quote of the day: Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~ Benjamin Franklin



After traveling 3,432 miles in the past 10 days, we arrived back in Port Everglades, Florida around 6am. This was a photo we took from our cabin! In a way these first three photos remind me of Monet's work. He was famous for capturing the same image but at different times of the day. With a change in sunlight, the image takes on a whole different flavor. 


An hour later, at 7am, you can see the drawbridge opening up. But it is in essence the same image as above, just taken an hour later. Yet you really feel a difference for the landscape with the sun rising. 




The drawbridge at 8am, right before we left our room to head for breakfast. 











In addition to our cruise ship, there were three other cruise ships in port. So four in total in Fort Lauderdale, and we were told that another three were in Miami's port. If you factor in all of these ships, that means 20,000 people were coming off and on these ships in Florida today. It is absolutely a logistical feat!!!








This is a photo of the Concerto dining room on the ship. It is where we had breakfast today. The wait staff on the ship was primarily from the Philippians, and they were all fantastic. Very customer focused, friendly, accommodating, and eager to assist. 

While at breakfast this morning, we sat next to a couple from Seattle. They started chatting with us and told us about their adult children, one of whom lives in DC. After she finished telling me about her children, she then NATURALLY asked me about mine. Given how I feel and who I interact with, my answer to this question is different. But this morning I was blunt. I said, "my child died." From my experience, the type of response I gave her, usually elicits one of two reactions : 1) the person finds a way to stop the conversation with me and leaves, or 2) the person says she is sorry and then asks whether I have other children. As if that would solve my grief and loss. The woman this morning provided neither responses. She actually surprised me. She first asked me to repeat what I said, because she probably thought she did not hear me correctly when I said my child died. When I repeated it, she looked visibly overwhelmed and saddened by this news. She asked what type of cancer and when Mattie died. She then told me that she volunteers at Seattle Children's Hospital and when she left she thanked me for sharing about Mattie and told me she would remember me and what I told her. I never expected that response today, much less from a complete stranger. 



Peter snapped this beautiful photo from the airplane.... the coastline of Fort Lauderdale in its glory.
















When we left DC in December it was raining and grey! Guess what? It hasn't changed much in almost two weeks! This was the photo Peter snapped upon our landing. It literally felt like we were landing through pea soup. It was that thick and cloudy! 



January 8, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2005. We took Mattie to Boston to visit Peter's parents and as you can see there was snow on the ground. Something that intrigued Mattie. Mattie loved to build, walk, and play in the snow and he had a way of encouraging you to play along!




Quote of the day: I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's. ~ Henry Moore



Today we anchored off the shore of the Bahamas. In order to get to shore, the ship's life boats, otherwise known as tenders, were used. Though these are not small boats, from this photo it looks like a little cork in the water. 

Trying to move 3,700 people from our large ship onto tenders and to shore is a logistical nightmare. Fortunately we were planning on staying on the ship today because we were able to secure deck chairs in the ship's sanctuary. In addition, the tenders take you to Princess' private Bahama island and since we have been there before, we did not want to venture ashore. It was the right decision apparently because people were frustrated with the tender service and then once on the private island there were an inordinate amount of flies. Flies everywhere! These flies were so aggressive that they managed to fly all the way out to where the ship was anchored and were flying about the decks!

A view of the Bahamas
from the ship!















We spent part of the day today in the ship's Sanctuary. You need special reservations to stay in the Sanctuary. There are only 50 special deck chairs here and if you stay in the Sanctuary you have access to all kinds of services. Such as high tea! But the wonderful part of the Sanctuary is it is quiet. You don't hear any loud noises such as music, outdoor movies, children running around and the list goes on! However, trying to get a chair in the Sanctuary is virtually impossible! These chairs are assigned on the FIRST day you board the ship. You can't pre-book chairs. So on the first day of the cruise, you literally have to run to the top deck to talk to the Sanctuary staff about getting a chair. Though we were like the sixth group to stand in line for a chair on December 30th, we weren't able to get chairs, accept for the last day of the cruise. This is because passengers who sailed on the prior cruise and remained on the ship for our cruise were able to secure chairs before December 30th. So by the time we got on the line, over 40 chairs were already spoken for. Needless to say, this is one of many things that is stressful about cruising, and you really need to know the little tricks to get your needs met in a crowd of 3,700 people! 

While in the Sanctuary today, we heard and could see osprey
flying over the ship. 









The sun shining on the water made the water look just like glass!


















At the end of the day, we saw this lovely Mattie sun slowly dropping into the water. 










The sun setting..... a sight we will remember as we are headed back to DC tomorrow and will be back to the perpetual cold and grey weather. 

January 7, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016


Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. This was another photo I really loved. Both Mattie and our cat, Patches, were very intrigued by the Christmas boxes and packages that were all over our home. Patches hung out by the boxes and would rub against them, and of course Mattie would follow her around! The funny part about all of this was Mattie liked the boxes and wanted to play with them. He never gave me a hard time about not opening them to see what was inside. 




Quote of the day: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~ Albert Einstein


Today we are at sea as we are traveling from St. Thomas to the Bahamas. This photo, which we took in port, illustrates how big the Royal Princess is.... capable of holding 3,700 passengers and 1,500 crew. For the most part, the ship is spacious enough so you don't feel like a salmon swimming up stream. Yet on sea days, things become crowded like elevators. 


Each evening, we receive The Princess Patter, which is a newsletter giving us some information about a crew member, information about our next port and the upcoming day's schedule of events on the ship. Honestly if you wanted to, you could be busy from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. There is something for every age and interest..... movies, sporting activities, spa treatments, swimming, eating of course, lectures, listening to music, dancing, crafts, shopping, tours of the ship, lounging on a deck chair and the list goes ON and ON!


In addition to the Patter, we also get daily tour and port guides. Peter snapped a photo of our tour logs! What I love about these daily materials is that they feature a quote of the day! Not unlike Mattie's blog. Some of the quotes are charming, they are all travel related, such as.....

"Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made." ~ Robert Rose

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau












The ship was truly rocking today. In fact, it was rocking all night and something in our room seemed to be creaking each time the ship bobbed up or down. This morning, the sun eventually came out and created a beautiful reflection on the water.
















This is the beauty of very blue water of the Caribbean. Tomorrow is our last stop on the cruise. All of us seem worn out from touring, which always makes me laugh because Princess Cruise's motto is "come back new." Or "escape completely." I would like to meet the passenger who actually can live up to this expectation because I want to know their secret!

January 6, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. I personally think this photo was a riot. Which is why I probably captured this moment in time when I saw it! Mattie loved the bathtub. Well not originally, but he came to love it because it was another place he could play! Mattie did not limit bath time to just regular bath toys either. He would dump all sorts of toys into the tub, wash them, and make up all sorts of play schemes with them!


Quote of the day: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Today we visited St. Thomas. Given that we have been doing organized tours for the past four days, we ventured into St. Thomas on our own. Organized tours can be wonderful, but they force you to move and see things at a certain pace. Which can be challenging and also exhausting. We have visited St. Thomas many times before and it is easy to tour on one's own. 

While the prehistoric Ciboney people from South America lived in St. Thomas as early as 1500 BC, St. Thomas was discovered by Columbus on his second voyage and was established as a trading post by the Dutch West India Company in 1657. Seizing the opportunity to establish a trade route in the Americas, agents of the Dutch West India Company founded the first settlement in 1672. 

Reminders of Dutch colonization are peppered across the island. In the 17th century, the islands were divided into two territorial units, one English and the other Danish. In 1917, the US purchased the Danish half. 


This is the wonderful sight you see when you pull into the port of St. Thomas! Yachts are everywhere, which was a first for us. Since all the other islands we visited on this cruise didn't have these luxuries in port. 







To me this looks just like a postcard. If I did not take this photo myself, I would think the colors were doctored. But this is what the waters and mountains in the background truly look like. 








This is the port town of Havensight, where cruise ships dock. It is quite a committee filled with shopping and restaurants. In port with us today were FOUR other ships. It is amazing the number of people these ships bring to the island in just one day. 







This is Charlotte Amalie, the capitol of St. Thomas. Specifically this is Main Street of Charlotte Amalie, which is known for its incredible shopping! 


















This is another photo of Main Street. It was filled with lots of people and cars, but the architecture was lovely, well preserved, and colorful. 










My mom and I went shopping here and I came home with a lovely pendant in the shape of a Mattie Moon! 


This is Emancipation Square in the middle of Charlotte Amalie. Here a memorial has been erected to pay tribute to the slaves on the island and their emancipation. 






Sailing out of St. Thomas is beautiful given its terrain, boats in the water, and the dotting of houses and buildings in the background.










As we left port, we passed a Carnival Cruise ship and it began to rain. Tomorrow we are at sea for the entire day until we land in the Bahamas on Friday.  


January 5, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 -- Mattie died 329 weeks ago today. 


Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. Mattie and Peter LOVE flashlights. Do not ask me what that is all about other than, we have A LOT of them! When Mattie came into our lives, he too gravitated to flashlights. He loved playing with them, opening them up and exploring their insides! To this day we still have flashlights everywhere. Even in our car!








Quote of the day: Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed. ~ Cavett Robert 



Today we visited St. Kitts. I have to admit after visiting several Caribbean islands back to back, it can get confusing to remember what sites and experiences you had on each island. There are great similarities among the islands..... such as the level of poverty, sanitation issues, animals that look under nourished and are roaming the streets, and the importance of the "rum shop." Every tour guide made particular mention to partying, drinking, and how certain herbs or plants native to the island can enhance your love life. Maybe hearing this once or twice maybe funny, but then you have to stop and think about this for a while. Though I have toured the Caribbean before and have heard about the importance of rum, on this cruise we have noticed that tasting rum for free is provided on almost every tour. Again, I am trying to avoid social commentary, but being a mental health provider by nature, I can't help but have feelings about doling out alcohol so liberally on tours. 

St. Kitts and her sister island, Nevis, are the smallest in the Western hemisphere in both area and population. Yet, people have lived here for more than 5,000 years. St. Kitts was the first island in the entire Caribbean to be settled. The French, English, and Spanish wrestled over the island. 



We toured the island using open aired buses today. This was what one of the streets looked like in St. Kitts. St. Kitts reminded us of Antigua and St. Lucia in terms of its development, and the island that most infrastructure and resources seemed to be Barbados. 






St. Kitts originally was a tobacco island, but because of competition from the Virginia colony, quickly turned to sugar cane. Slaves by the thousands were imported from Africa. Romney Manor, owned by an ancestor of Thomas Jefferson, flourished until the 1920s. Today, it’s home of both the famous Caribelle Batik fabric crafts factory and an ancient saman tree that takes up an entire half acre. 


A close up of Romney Manor. We had a four hour tour today, and we spent all of our time around Romney Manor. Which included learning about Batik, the Manor, and then a walk through a rain forest.








This bell tower is on the grounds of the manor. It seems innocuous until one understands that this bell was used like a time clock for slaves on the property. When the bell rang it indicated when they had to rise in the morning, when they had to work, and when they had to sleep.




On the manor, we came across this St. Kitts Cat!












At the Batik store we learned the process of making Batik. Batik is an artist style that is created on all sorts of fabrics. It involves hand sketching designs on material, using wax, color dyes, and then boiling the wax off the fabric. Other than St. Kitts, you can find Batik on St. Lucia and in Indonesia. 








A photo of my mom and I with some of the Batik on display. 











The production of sugar was at one time what made St. Kitts a highly sought after island by the British. The sugar mill was used to separate the sugar from the cane juice. When you boil down sugar cane juice, molasses is formed. Molasses is an important ingredient to making rum. So in essence this sugar mill, which was on the property of Romney Manor, produced sugar and rum.


After we toured the manor and the Batik area, we then went for a two hour walk through the rainforest. A rainforest which was on the Romney Manor property. The cruise line prepared us for a walk in the rainforest, but they didn’t make it clear that it was going to be two hours long, through rough terrain and mud. Despite the walking conditions, it was a very memorable walk.  













We hiked up and down elevations, through the mud, over stones and rocks, and large tree roots. Along the way, our guide showed us various native plants that either were edible or had medicinal purposes. There was a type of almond tree along the way, and literally the tour guide picked up almond pods on the ground, cracked it open with a stone, and let us taste the nuts.











Peter captured my mom and I on camera!




















For this aggressive two hour walk, they gave each of us walking sticks! We had a feeling that was indicative of what was to come! We went up slippery elevations and down. It was a royal experience in humidity and of course while walking, it would periodically rain. 


After the two hour hike, they gave us passion fruit juice, plantains, banana bread, and of course what seems to be the trend on every tour.... rum. However, this dark rum to me smells and tastes more like scotch NOT rum. 








Our guide says that the French originally brought black faced vervet monkeys over to the island as pets. But then the monkeys were let free and according to him there are more monkeys on the island than people. He says that the leader of each monkey pack is known to be aggressive and they can even throw things at farmers when determined to get access to crops.  In any case, monkeys in diapers were all over the place for people to hold them and take photos. I happen to love animals but I have a healthy respect for animals in the wild, and it would never interest me to pose for a photo with such a monkey. 

January 4, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. This was Mattie's first pony ride. I am not sure whose face was more priceless... Mattie's or Peter's!? Mattie was a bit scared at first, but then grew to love riding on a horse. Any time we would go to a park or zoo that had pony rides, Mattie always requested to ride. 



Quote of the day: I used to have this toy, a magic slate. You wrote or drew on it and then, just by pulling up the plastic cover, everything you did disappeared and you could start new. Maybe everyone feels that on New Year's Eve: They can pull up the magic sheet and rewrite their lives. V.C. Andrews

Barbados floats by itself 100 miles east of St. Lucia, with a population of around 285,000 people. Although the Caribs, Arawaks, and Portuguese had all inhabited Barbados for certain periods, the island was completely unoccupied when the British first settled there in 1627. Gradual social and political reforms led to the country’s independence in 1966.


Ever since the Dutch kicked off Barbados’ sugar industry in the 1640’s, export has been vital to the island’s economy. Reliant upon labor from African slaves, Barbados generated more trade than all other British colonies combined at one point. 

We were greeted this morning by a glorious rainbow when we docked at Barbados. A true Mattie sign!





















Gun Hill is one of six signal stations erected in the first two decades of the 19th century for dual purposes. One was for defense, both internal and external, and the other for communicating with other signal stations located throughout Barbados. The Gun Hill station was created after a 1816 slave rebellion.  This was our first stop and a delight!











This is also of Gun Hill.  The tower is situated upon a hill overlooking many parts of the island.  Not that the fort was built to defend against anything, but it certainly looked as if it could withstand a volley.














This was one of the views from atop the Gun Hill tower, and it really gives you a feel for the topography of Barbados, which is perfectly suited to growing sugar cane, the main reason why the island remained under British control for centuries.










Peter snapped this sign at the entrance of the Orchid Gardens the second stop on our tour this morning, as it is very cute in its message. It was an outdoor tour of the most beautiful flora and fauna containing hundreds of blooming orchids and dozens of beautiful flowering plants.






This was one of the paths at the Orchid Gardens.














We cannot pass even a planter in the shape of Lightning McQueen without thinking of Mattie!














One the dozens of beautiful Orchids in bloom.





















And a yellow one...












Sunbury plantation is over 300 years old and creates a vivid impression of life on a sugar estate in the 18th and 19th centuries. It contains an amazing collection of antique carriages and memorabilia. 








The interiors of the home were simply gorgeous and a delight to look at.








And of course, being in the Caribbean, you are never too far from rum! We got a complete demonstration (and samples) of local rums by the locals, who also enjoyed it while presenting!  This group was also willing to travel and put on the show again for us, and all they asked for was three plane tickets! Tomorrow, we stop at St. Kitts!