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

June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June 2006, on Father's Day. Though Mattie wasn't the best at going out to eat and sitting still, he understood the importance of special occasions, like Father's Day. Whenever we went out with Mattie to eat, I always had a large bag in tow. This bag carried all sorts of little toys and activities to occupy Mattie at the table. As you can see Mattie had a book in front of him as I snapped this photo!


Quote of the day: There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower


Peter and I went to Huntley Meadows today for a walk. This is a wonderful nature park that we used to take Mattie to often. Though it was 90 degrees out, there was little humidity which made this a very pleasant walk. Of course we can't go to this park without many sightings.... all of which remind us of Mattie. 


This was a first for me. I never saw a Tawny Emperor butterfly before. The butterfly has become my symbol for Mattie, which is why I am typically wearing butterfly shaped jewelry. 










Peter spotted this wonderful Red Bellied Woodpecker. A rather funny name, since it is only his head that is red!

The beauty of Huntley Meadows. Between the trees and the boardwalk.... it is a must see for nature lovers.
 Turtles in action!
 I love Canadian Geese. 
Check out this bullfrog! The sound of the frogs in the swamp along the boardwalk was practically deafening. The waters were filled with Southern Leopard frogs in addition to bullfrogs. The Southern Leopard Frog literally sounds like the strumming of a guitar.
There were amazing swamp roses all around us. Beautiful and pink and VERY fragrant. We have visited the park for many years, and NEVER saw these roses before. 
The sights from the boardwalk. 
Red wing blackbirds! They were sitting in a swamp filled with roses. 
Close up. The call of the Red Wing Blackbird, it very unique. Like a creaky door. You can't miss it!

June 17, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken on June 12, 2004. We were in Peter's car, on a road trip to Boston. When Mattie was a baby and toddler, I always sat next to him in the back seat. Unless it was just the two of us and therefore I was driving. Mattie was always fully on, engaged, and wanted you to be participating in whatever he was doing. Driving in a car was no different! I also see the tell tale sippy cup filled with milk. Some kids are attached to stuffed animals or little trinkets! Mattie's equivalent was the sippy cup. We never left home without it, and it couldn't be filled with just anything. It had to be milk!


Quote of the day: Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. . . ~  Oscar Wilde

My friend posted an article entitled, "Parents Who Suffer Tragedies Do Not Need or Want Your Cruel and Pointless Criticism" on Facebook. This article centered around the two year old boy who was attacked by an alligator in Orlando and eaten whole. This is certainly an article that captures the reader's attention and hopefully gets one to think twice before judging the circumstances around the death of a child. I say this because even with cancer, Peter and I received a lot of commentary about why Mattie got sick and worse when he was dying, one mom said to me this was happening because I did not pray hard enough for Mattie! YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The author of this article feels that people say hurtful things because they feel "superior" over parents whose children have died. Superior in the way of being a better parent! I hear what he is saying, but I really do question that. Superiority may come into play, but I am not sure that is the true cause of the verbal attacks! Particularly since I know well intentioned people who can also say very insensitive things when a child is dealing with a life threatening illness or has died. I truly believe that the issue is not necessarily superiority, but the simple emotion of fear. There is a certain order in life.... the younger generation is supposed to outlive the previous generation. In addition, I also think that at the heart of the matter we believe that if we lead a "good" life, good things will unfold for us. It provides us with a false sense of control over our destiny. So when a child dies, by whatever means, the natural human reaction is to LOOK for an explanation! Because with an explanation (or in this case blame) people can feel that such a nightmare couldn't possibly happen to them, but more importantly it helps us take back control of how things work in the world and our future. Control which is lost when a child dies. My heart goes out to this family who lost their two year old on vacation and I do agree with the author of the article.... there is TOO much inhumanity expressed through social media. Which maybe why I spend little time on it.

But what caught my attention in this article was that the author said..... "Until you have been entrusted with caring for another human being’s body and soul every second of the day for 18 or more years, you cannot possibly comprehend what it entails." He was trying to send a message to non-parents, because he feels that it is non-parents who are particularly saying heartless things about this tragedy. The author feels that it is impossible to know the complexities of being a parent without being responsible for a child. I do agree with him, I just don't understand why he had to qualify the time period, since some of us weren't lucky enough to parent our children for 18 or more years! I may not have raised Mattie to age 18, but I am pretty sure I got a crash course in parenting 101 and then some during Mattie's seven years of his life. 

To read the article, click on the link below:


June 16, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2006. Along our nature walk, something we would do every weekend, we came across this fallen tree. We asked Mattie if he wanted to get on top of the tree and check out the view from up there. He of course jumped at the chance, and naturally whether Mattie wanted a photo or not, I captured the moment. 

Quote of the day: Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side. ~ Unknown


This is a photo of Mattie's tree was sent to me by my friend Margy today. Margy and her husband visit Mattie's tree periodically and place an item on the tree in remembrance of Mattie. Margy never met Mattie, but she has gotten to know him through the blog. As I always say the blog is Mattie's written memory and legacy. I am thankful over the years that so many supporters have read it, or continue to read it, and take with them glimmers of a thought or feeling I expressed into their own lives. 

Margy is my first Facebook friend. Unlike the majority of my initial Facebook friends, Margy was someone I did not know directly. I knew about her indirectly through other parents who lost a child to cancer, since Margy was their child's play therapist. Margy is like me in many way.... we both like to write out our thoughts and feelings, and process them. I am so glad I clicked that friend button on Facebook, because thanks to taking that chance, I made a new and loyal friend. 

Margy bought this beautiful butterfly glass ornament on her recent trip to Wisconsin. I think the butterfly is charming and RED, Mattie's favorite color!!! I am deeply touched when people visit Mattie's tree and am so happy that Margy is helping us decorate the tree. I did not need to tell Margy how important a symbol this memorial tree is to us.... she just KNEW!!!! Which made my day. 

June 15, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2006. I happen to love this photo. Because it captured a photo within a photo. Mattie was holding a picture, which I still have framed on our refrigerator. That photo was when he was a toddler. The beauty of this blog photo was it caught Mattie in the same position at two different points in time (toddler versus preschooler). When Mattie was a toddler, the coffee table was waist height. As he got older, his waist surpassed the table. Mattie loved the comparison and his enthusiasm inspired me to capture that moment in time. So glad I did. 



Quote of the day: A friend can tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself.  ~ Frances Ward Weller



Sometimes when you experience challenges in life, it is important to take breaks from those daily worries and reflect on the progress made to date. In a way, today was a celebration of sorts for my friend Mary Ann, and therefore I wanted to take her to a special restaurant to acknowledge the occasion. A friend of mine took me to L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls last year for my birthday. It made such an impression upon me that I told Mary Ann that we had to go there together. Just like my first experience, today was equally memorable. 

This is what the outdoor terrace at L'Auberge looks like. To me it is a very magical setting.... surrounded by greenery and these very bright red pieces of furniture.  


Near Mary Ann's home, we took a walk and ran into her neighbors. He came running out of his home with clippers, and gave each of us three beautiful hydrangeas. To me these are flowers just because!!! In a world where people are being killed on a daily basis, it restores my faith in humanity when people do random acts of kindness like this!

June 14, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 -- Mattie died 352 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2005. This was what our deck used to look like when Mattie was alive. Literally it was filled with a kiddie pool, a sandbox, and tons of toys. We creatively would place our outdoor chairs and tables on the deck in order to accommodate all of Mattie's things. This tiny pool, with the spouting whale, was a cutie and a Mattie favorite. However as he got older he need bigger pools. I will never forget the inflatable pool he and Peter came home with one day. This thing literally took up over half of our deck space. It was quite the sight, but it brought Mattie hours of outdoor fun. 


Quote of the day: In memory's telephoto lens, far objects are magnified. ~ John Updike



What is this a photo of? It is a building in which I spent MANY years of my life. It is the graduate school of education and human development on the George Washington University Campus. 

We do not live far from campus, so I pass this building often. In a way it is part of my neighborhood. But I haven't been inside this building and upstairs to the third floor where the counseling department is located since 2003, when I graduated with a Ph.D. Trying to obtain a Ph.D. is no easy task. If one gets such a degree it is a testament to one's persistence, tenacity, patience, and finesse. In fact, I remember my first night of statistics class. The statistics professor suggested we look around the room because only 10% of us in the room would make it to graduation. Very humbling, but I can see why!!!! I learned many lessons over my years and I always joked that if I finished I was going to go on Oprah. Because there can be many traumatic experiences associated with trying to become a member of this academic club. 

I have been invited back to school, in this building to be exact, to give a talk tonight to graduate students about professional licensure and the process. Why me? Well because I am and have been the chair of the DC licensure board for years. This is a subject matter I know very well. Serving on this board is more than just about dolling out licenses. It is also about interfacing with the public, responding to ethical violations, holding hearings to determine how violations will be sanctioned and of course creating and modifying practice laws. 

Nonetheless, I have to say it is a very awkward situation for me to have to walk back into that building. Even after all these years. It is within that building that I was a student, a totally different person, with a completely different lens. I had to journey to the third floor today to drop off some paperwork for tonight and I have to say I was totally uncomfortable there. That may sound absolutely bizarre, unless you have experienced what most graduate students go through. In a way, it is the same type of trauma as returning to the hospital where Mattie was treated. 

I am no trauma expert, only a person who has experienced trauma, but I can personally say that each trauma seems to build up upon itself and though you may put issues into context and move forward, there are times when they rear their ugly head right back into your life and in a way you are transported back in time. Except in addition to that trauma, you have new ones of top of it to add insult to injury. 

In any case, I return tonight to that very building and will face different fears, fears that occurred over a decade ago. 


June 13, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007, during Memorial Day weekend. That weekend we took Mattie to Amish Country in Pennsylvania. I had never been there myself, so it was a first for both of us. Mattie actually went on an Amish wagon ride, but we also saw this wagon on display and Mattie obliged me and posed for a photo! But I can tell by looking at his smile, that posing wasn't something he really wanted to be doing at that point in time. 


Quote of the day: The most valuable gift you can receive is an honest friend.  Stephen Richards


Yesterday, Peter and I went to visit Mattie's Memorial Tree, located on the lower school of his campus. This is the third tree that has been planted, since the last two unfortunately died. However, as you can see this Yellowwood is a survivor and very hearty. In fact, it is SO voluminous up top when the leaves are on the tree that you can't see all the ornaments attached to the tree. But there are STILL there and of course when the wind blows, the tree still twinkles from all the wind chimes on it! 

Peter and I weeded all around the tree and cut back the dead leaves from the tulips and daffodils that we planted from bulbs in the Fall. I also replaced the bow around the tree.



This is the adorable birdhouse that sits in Mattie's tree. As Peter jokes, this house is "OCCUPIED." There is a wren family that flies in and out of it. I have seen this before, but Peter got to see it for the first time yesterday. There was an actual wren in the house when we snapped this photo, but couldn't capture this fellow's head popping in and out. 
Today, I met my friend for lunch. I became friends with Margy on Facebook almost a year ago. We have common Facebook friends and she worked in an outpatient clinic for many years helping children with cancer and their families, not to mention has run a successful childhood cancer non-profit for almost 20 years. Typically I do not become personal buddies with new people I do not know on Facebook, but with Margy we instantly clicked. Today Margy added this light up bird to our Mattie Memorial Garden at home. I can't wait to see him aglow tonight. This bird is surrounded by bushes that Mattie and Peter planted together years ago. When they originally planted them they were knee height. Now some of them are 10 feet tall. 


Margy also added this pottery heart to my shelf collection. Inside the heart it says, "love" and of course the heart is orange. Our Mattie Miracle color! Beautiful gifts from a beautiful friend, and after the weekend I had, such a connection was necessary.  

June 12, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2007. Mattie was ALL dressed up and ready for his first day of summer camp at his preschool, Resurrection Children's Center. Mattie LOVED their summer camp because he had the opportunity to play in sand and water, not to mention be involved in all sorts of activities. These were NOT high tech activities or even activities that required a lot of equipment. But more thoughtful and creative activities. Mattie gravitated to them! Mattie may have gone in the morning clean.... but by the end of camp, he was a total mess. Clearly loving every minute!



Quote of the day: All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind. Martin H. Fischer

I had the opportunity today to visit Mattie's preschool for the LAST TIME! Resurrection Children's Center is closing its doors and merging with Fairlington Preschool in Alexandria, VA in the Fall. There was a good-bye party at the school for current families and alums. I haven't been back to the school for years. But as soon as I walked through the doors, I met up with John, who was a student in two of Mattie's preschool classes. John and his family attend our Foundation walks and he was sharing with me memories he had of the school and Mattie. Mind you he was a little guy when he was in preschool and he doesn't see me often now, but yet he still feels close to me. 

Mattie's preschool was a cooperative school, which means that parents MUST play a role in helping out in the classroom and participating in school events. Back then I must have visited the classroom once every two months, and through that, got to know the kids in Mattie's classrooms. John and I connected from that very first day of school. Interesting no? But what is more fascinating is this connection continues, which is interesting since he was really SO young back then and his memory hadn't truly formed. 

Resurrection Children's Center is where Mattie made his first friends and I developed life long connections with moms who are devoted to helping me keep Mattie's memory alive. This is a school never to be forgotten.... because it wasn't only an enriching and loving environment, but a place where we learned to appreciate the best in our children and in ourselves.


I had the honor of meeting the FOUNDERS of the preschool today and to thank them personally.

From left to right are Gwen and Jim Anderson and Janet Chitwood.


In fact, Janet's son, Danny, is the reason why the preschool was created. Danny has special needs and Janet felt there wasn't a preschool in her community that was prepared and equipt to handle his needs. So she reached out to her friend the Andersons and together they developed Resurrection Children's Center (RCC). In each of the four RCC classrooms, 20% of the children have a special need. The beauty of this is by being inclusive, both the children with special needs and typically developing children can learn from each other. 

This was Mattie's first preschool classroom, where Margaret (his head teacher) taught Mattie. Mattie entered preschool being very shy, hesitant, and timid. With the nurturing and guidance of both Margaret and Lana (assistant teacher), Mattie grew into the person he was meant to be. I find it ironic that ALL the moms I met in this classroom, I remain friends with TODAY! That is how special a classroom it was.
Today was my first time seeing this plague! Mattie's name is on the top row, second from the left. This plague acknowledges children at graduation from preschool.
This is a photo of Mattie's second preschool classroom. The room was called the Block Room. It is the room where Kathy and Marilyn taught Mattie. I shall never forget the energy and activity of this room! In fact during Mattie's first year of preschool he AVOIDED this room. It was overwhelming to him. He was intimated by all the noise and energy coming from the room. By his second year, with coaching from Kathy, this ALL changed! Mattie was a key player in generating ideas and building projects in the room.


The Doanes, Bowers, and Putnams! Mattie went to school with the children in all three of these families.
Vicki with Mary and her loving family. Mary is the assistant director of the preschool and our friend.
My friend Catherine, her daughter Sara Catherine (who was in Mattie's preschool classes), and the school's occupational therapist (Deb).
This is Margaret's daughter, Ali, and her beautiful family!
Mattie's preschool teachers, Marilyn and Kathy! They are the ultimate Lucy and Ethel (from I Love Lucy) duo!
Vicki and Kim. Kim has been Resurrection Children's Center's Director for as long as I can remember. In a way the school was her third baby. She worked tirelessly at making it the special place we all came to love and cherish.
The amazing teachers and staff at Resurrection Children's Center.


This photo of a stunning orange rose is featured in the preschool's hallway. It is called Margaret's rose, because it was a photo captured in Margaret's garden. Margaret was Mattie's first preschool teacher and my close friend. Margaret died two years ago, at an early age, from ALS. I was thrilled to see her memory captured in the school she loved so much.
Vicki and Kathy! Kathy is a dynamo and Mattie thrived leaps and bounds in Kathy's classroom.
Mattie's friend, Sara Catherine, and her mom with our dear teacher, Kathy!