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

April 9, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June 2009, at my friend Christine's house. Christine hosted a birthday party for Mattie in her backyard. She wanted him to have a party outside of the hospital. If you look closely on the table, you will see a HUGE roach cake. Not to mention Christine's husband, James, dressed up as a roach. Why? Because Mattie loved roaches. Not actual ones, because I don't think he ever saw one. But he knew roaches disgusted me and his nurses, so to a seven year old boy this was intriguing and he got great joy out of playing harmless pranks with rubber roaches on his hospital friends. 



Quote of the day: At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me-some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. But real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had not words to make me feel better, they sat in silence (much better than saying, "You'll get over it," or "It's not so bad; others have it worse") and I loved them for it. ~  Harold Kushner



Last night we went out to dinner in Jupiter, FL. The restaurant looked directly at Jupiter Lighthouse. It was a glorious sight with a pelican flying passed as well. 

It was fun to go out to dinner and we tried a different restaurant each night. For my own records I am writing them here, so I can remember which ones we ate at:

1) Prime Catch (Boynton Beach)
2) Charley's Crab (Palm Beach)
3) Ta-Boo (Palm Beach)
4) Pistache French Bistro (West Palm Beach)
5) Spoto's (Palm Beach Gardens)
6) Jetty's (Jupiter) 

This was a view of Jetty's, the restaurant we ate at last night. After dinner, we walked on the pier and took a photo looking back at the restaurant. 










This morning, I went out on our balcony and found this meeting going on! We saw this last Sunday as well. It is definitely a better way to get together.










It was painful to leave behind sunshine, 89 degree weather and the Intercoastal.











Part of our balcony looked down onto the Intercoastal and the other the ocean. It spoiled us for 7 days. 

We are now back in DC. I was told in snowed and rained today. The winds are whipping and now the sun is out. So we had it all, and we are holding steady at 39 degrees. Big temperature difference from Florida! 



April 8, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in April 2009, during Mattie's seventh birthday party. Mattie actually celebrated his last birthday with us in the hospital. Yet thanks to Linda, Mattie's child life specialist, he had a big party. Several of Mattie's friends attended and pictured next to Mattie is Brandon. Brandon was considered Mattie's big buddy. Brandon and Mattie met in the Fall of 2008, when they were both diagnosed with cancer. Despite their age difference they appreciated and understood each other. Brandon was great with Mattie, and Mattie looked forward to interacting when Brandon was around. Which was a God sent, because as Mattie's cancer journey continued, he preferred isolation over playing with people in many cases. 



Quote of the day: There is no grief like the grief that does not speak. ~ Henry Wordsworth



I have never visited a man-made wetland before, but today's visit in my opinion is a MUST SEE! Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center is a nature preserve located in Boynton Beach, Florida. The 100-acre property was purchased in 1999 from Ted and Trudy Winsberg, who used the property for farming. The Winsbergs sold the property for 1/3 of its appraised value with the condition that it would be made into a wetland. Construction began in July 2003. It was created jointly by the Palm Beach County Utilities Department and the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department in 2004. This park includes 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk, which takes visitors through various habitats, including cabbage palm hammock, cypress swamp, wetland hammock, and tropical hardwood hammock. 




This is what you see as you enter the Green Cay Preserve.












The waters were teeming with turtles. You could see them basking on trees and also swimming in the waters.










We had TWO alligator sightings today. Peter spotted this clever fellow! You can only see his head and eyes poking out of the water.










The 1.5 mile boardwalk
was truly special and the people who passed us along the way, were all very friendly and equally happy about the sightings we were all seeing. 







The beauty seen from the boardwalk. It was 89 degrees and somewhat hot in the sun. But it truly was delightful to be there. 









These are male and female moorhens. The funny part about these hens is you can HEAR them way before you SEE them. They don't quack. They sound more like a new year's eve party horn! 







Though this photo doesn't do this bird justice, it is a tri-colored heron. It has multiple and vibrant colors. 

















The green heron just hanging out on the boardwalk. 















Anhinga also called the snake bird! When it swims, only the colored neck appears above the water, so the bird looks like a snake ready to strike. 

















White Egret














These beautiful purple flowers are called Pickerelweed. They are vibrant, grow in the water, and almost looked like a field of irises. 







Along the boardwalk, we had the amazing opportunity to see an Eastern Screech Owl.











This was our second gator sighting today. This one literally drifted passed us on the boardwalk. He was a good 6 feet long. 






A close up!!!

It has been a glorious weather week, filled with adventures. We head back to grey, raining, and depressing weather tomorrow. I would say if someone is looking for a Florida vacation that involves beach and outdoor adventures, then staying at the Singer Island Marriott is the place to be. The level of service here is incredible. NOT ONE unprofessional person here. The hotel is a franchise and family run and operated. The general manager believes that service is vital to a good stay. It shows in everything they do. I can see why this hotel has been voted the number one Marriott resort east of the Mississippi River. 

April 7, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in April 2008, during Mattie's sixth birthday. We held Mattie's birthday in a bowling alley that year. Despite bowling, the theme of the party was Scooby Doo. Mattie was in love with Scooby and therefore we picked out a special cake together. For years Mattie kept all the Scooby Doo toys that came as decorations on top of his cake. However, toward the end of Mattie's party, he was dragging and developed a raging fever. Sometimes I look back at that moment and wonder if that was a sign of cancer? But nothing else was abnormal about how he was feeling and the fever eventually went away. However, three months later Mattie was diagnosed with cancer. 


Quote of the day: Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. ~ Earl Grollman


This morning, we were greeted by the sun and a clear day. This was the sight from our balcony. One side looks at the Intercoastal and the other side the Ocean. 

Before it got too hot today, we went for a walk along the ocean. We walked about three miles through sand and dunes, and it felt like a morning work out. 

This fellow was very photogenic this morning! Also not timid and wasn't bothered at all by my presence. 












I happen to LOVE lighthouses! So today we ventured to Jupiter Lighthouse to see the US Coast Guard Station and tour the lighthouse. The property that the lighthouse sits on is filled with history. As it served as a naval command post and also a top secret radio detection station during WWII. 

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History of the Lighthouse

The lighthouse was designed by Lieutenant George G. Meade of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers. Meade's design was subsequently modified by Lieutenant William Raynolds. The lighthouse was completed under the supervision of Captain Edward A. Yorke in 1860 at a cost of more than $60,000.

The lighthouse was built on a hill once thought to be an Indian shell mound or midden (and sometimes falsely rumored to be a burial mound), but which is now determined to be a natural parabolic sand dune. The top of the 105-foot tower is 153 feet above sea level. The light can be seen 24 nautical miles at sea. The lighthouse structure is brick with double masonry walls.

The point of land which sits at the junction of the Indian River and Jupiter Inlet for thousands of years had been a meeting place for ancient Indian tribes. This strategic site did not go unnoticed by US Army surveyors who in 1849 recommended the Jupiter Inlet area as a suitable place for military defenses. President Franklin Pierce signed the order to set aside a 61½-acre site on the Fort Jupiter Reservation for a lighthouse in 1854.

The US Navy acquired 8.4 acres of the Reservation from the US Government and by 1936 the Navy was operating a Radio Compass Station at Jupiter as an aid to navigation. The station broadcast weather information and monitored distress signals as well as naval ship-to-shore and aircraft frequencies. On July 1, 1939 all US lighthouses became the responsibility of the US Coast Guard. In the same year, the US Navy established an Intelligence Listening Post at the Naval Radio Station and constructed the barracks building for naval personnel and their families.


By July 1940, the Navy's Radio Detection Finding Station, known as "Station J", came online. This secret installation was designed to intercept German U-boat radio messages and warn Allied ships and help US forces attack enemy vessels. Station J was able to pinpoint the names and locations of the submarines. In May 1943, 30 German submarines were destroyed, and in June another 37. Most had been located by the men of Station J.
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This is Jupiter Light! She is quite impressive and her day color is a beautiful red brick. You can clearly see that the lighthouse was built on top of a naturally formed hill. Most lighthouses do not have this luxury and therefore foundations are typically built to provide the structure with height. 
The lighthouse was painted red in 1910 to cover discoloration caused by humidity. Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 sandblasted the paint from the upper portion of the tower, and the tower was repainted using a potassium silicate mineral coating.
This HUGE Banyan tree sits at the base of the lighthouse. When the lighthouse was manned by caregivers, this tree did not exist. In fact, the light keeper's home used to stand where this Banyan currently resides. However, when the keeper's home was destroyed, a local landscaper of the property planted a SMALL Banyan to honor the lives of all those who served to keep the lighthouse light. 

We climbed 105 stairs to the top. 

When we got to the top, I snapped a photo of Peter!
















Along our journey today, we saw this drawbridge right by the lighthouse. Drawbridges capture our attention because we remember how much Mattie LOVED them. 

Me by the huge banyan.












When Peter looked up into the tree, he noticed a striped tail hanging down. So I used my camera to zoom onto the tail and confirmed what Peter thought he saw.... a raccoon.

Whenever I see cardinals I also think of Mattie. So I would like to think he was on our lighthouse tour today with us. We were surrounded by kids on our tour, and of course whenever that happens, it is a bittersweet feeling. 


April 6, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in April 2007, during Mattie's fifth birthday party. This was a party NEVER to be forgotten. Why? Well we held Mattie's party at the National Zoo. However, the Zoo's policy is that parties go on whether it is raining or sunny! That day the rain was torrential. I thought Mattie's party was going to be a disaster. But what I learned is NO ONE visits the Zoo in the rain. We had the Zoo to ourselves and the kids loved the adventure with rain boots and umbrellas. We walked all over and ironically the animals also seemed to love being out in the rain. 


Quote of the day: What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. ~ Helen Keller


Today we visited the Flager Museum in Palm Beach. The museum was once the winter home to Mary Lily and Henry Flager. 


When "White Hall," the name of the house it was completed in 1902, the New York Herald proclaimed that Henry Flagler's Gilded Age estate in Palm Beach, was "more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world." Today, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum.


Henry Flager has an absolutely fascinating biography. If you want to read more about him, go to: http://www.flaglermuseum.us/history/flagler-biography
In a nut shell he came from modest beginnings but was a hard worker, bright, a sharp business man, and was credited by Rockerfeller as the "brains" behind their Standard Oil Company. Flager made his money in oil. However, at the age that most people retire, Flager developed a second career. Which was to build the Florida East Coast Railway, that basically allowed people to go from St. Augustine to Key West Florida. In addition to the railway, Flager developed over 14 hotels in Florida that tied into the railway system. Not just any hotels, but LUXURIOUS hotels. In essence Flager is credited for bringing the modernization and industry that Florida is known for today. 

Flager was married three times. His first wife basically had tuberculous and needed the warmer climates in the winter time. So he and his wife journeyed to Florida and it was then that Flager began to see the potential for development (for tourism and full time residents). After his first wife died, he then married her caregiver. However, that did not turn out well, since the second wife was mentally ill and was committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life. His third wife, Mary Lily was over 36 years his junior! Her desire was to have a BIG white house built for herself. Which was why White Hall was created as a wedding gift to Mary Lily.  

This is the Great Hall. It is the foyer that greets you as soon as you enter Whitehall. Whitehall is known to be a Gilded Age estate. The Gilded Age in United States history is the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The term was coined by writer Mark Twain in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding.









This unique French clock sits in the Great Hall and it captures your attention immediately. It also has a charming chime that goes off on the 1/4 hour. 
This is a portrait of Mary Lily, Flager's third wife. Notice the strand of pearls around her neck. Back then the length of your pearls was a direct reflection on how much money you had. So clearly you can see Mary Lily was very wealthy. Not to mention that the necklace itself cost 1 million dollars to purchase. 
Though Mary Lily was in her thirties and Flager was 71 years old when they married, Mary Lily hosted many parties in their ballroom. 
This is the Dining Room. It is not the original table and chairs however. We were told that the original table sat over 22 people! All the ceilings in the rooms look like hand carved wood, but they were actually plaster. Painted to look like wood. 
The beautiful Drawing Room. This room had aluminum leafing all over it. At the time aluminum was more expensive than gold and silver. This room actually almost shimmers when you walk through it. 
This is Jean Matthews. She was Flager's grand daughter. Jean saved Whitehall. Whitehall went into disrepair and was going to be auctioned off. However, she purchased the house from the State in 1969 for $1.5 million. She then converted it to a museum. 
The house has 14 bedrooms.
This was the Master bedroom. It is very yellow but full of sunlight!
The house was ahead of its time. Each bedroom had its own closet and bathroom. The house also had electricity and a furnace for central heat.  This was the Master bath.










When Mary Lily died,  the home was devised to her niece Louise Clisby Wise Lewis, who sold the property to investors. They constructed a 300-room ten story addition to the west side of the building, obliterating Mr. Flagler's offices, the housekeeper's apartment, and altering the original kitchen and pantry area. Do NOTE that this 10 story hotel NO LONGER exists today and was demolished.

This was Flager's private railcar, called  Car 91. It was built in 1886. Flager frequently rode in this car on his Florida East Coast Railway (the ONLY railway that carried passengers throughout the length of Florida). 
Whitehall's beautiful outdoor courtyard.














THE FAMOUS BREAKERS HOTEL...................

In January of 1896, Henry Flagler opened his second hotel in Palm Beach, which he named the Palm Beach Inn. It was a simple and unpretentious hotel overlooking the ocean a quarter mile from Flagler's luxurious Hotel Royal Poinciana. During an expansion project in 1903, the Palm Beach Inn caught fire and was destroyed. By 1906 it was rebuilt and renamed The Breakers Hotel and opened to universal acclaim. Room rates started at four dollars a night (UNLIKE the $700 to $5,000 room rate today), and included three meals a day. The guest register read like a "Who's Who" of early twentieth century America - Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors, Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan vacationed alongside United States presidents and European nobility.

On March 18, 1925, twelve years after Flagler's death, tragedy struck The Breakers once again when another fire destroyed the all-wood structure. Mrs. Flagler’s family, who had inherited the Flagler System, were determined to build the world's finest resort as a testament to Henry Flagler's vision. The new resort would be constructed where the old hotel once stood. The notable New York-based architectural firm of Schultze & Weaver were invited to design The Breakers resort we know today. The Villa Medici in Rome was the inspiration for the new hotel’s facade. The Breakers reopened for the 1926-27 Season, and featured more than 400 guest rooms that overlooked the ocean, sumptuous public spaces, and world-class amenities. Today, The Breakers remains an impressive masterpiece of Gilded Age luxury and one of the world’s great resorts.


 The gardens at the Breakers are breathtaking. Do you see this REAL life duck in the garden?
The colors are simply incredible. These are gardens you just need to stop and take in. 

 The gardens continue!

 Beautiful pinks

 Its continues!

 Green Parrots were spotted in the trees!

Geese on golf course at the Breakers.
A rainbow pathway of color to the front of the hotel!
The Breakers cat!