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

August 6, 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. We visited a local pond near Peter's parents home. With us we brought a loaf of bread to share with the geese. I wasn't sure what I was looking at first..... the geese or Mattie. Since Mattie had no idea how to swim, I always kept a close eye on him in case he decided to enter the water.


Quote of the day: Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. ~ Albert Schweitzer



We visited the Peabody Essex Museum today in Peabody, MA, to see the Childe Hassam exhibit! I love impressionists, and though I knew of Hassam, I had no idea of his extensive work off the coast of Maine. 


In a way this exhibit was like taking a walk back through time. I had the opportunity to chat with a docent today, who told me of her recent visit to Appledore. The island in which many of Hassam's paintings were created. She told me that Appledore remains UNTOUCHED. Like the land that time forgot. The island now houses several research facilities on it that study not only marine and ecological concerns, but cultural and artistic ones.



Six miles off the coasts of southern New Hampshire and Maine, Appledore is the largest island in a storied archipelago in the Atlantic known as the Isles of Shoals. Over the millennia, exposure to waves, wind, sun and ice has severely weathered the island, a process that is ongoing and relentless. When Hassam stepped off the ferry onto the rocks of Appledore Island, he found a contained and nuanced place that would occupy his imagination for three decades. Hassam began regularly visiting Appledore in 1886, a time when art critics had already cited him as the earliest American champion of the Impressionist movement and considered him one of the most talented painters of his generation.

Comfortably ensconced in a rambling resort, waking to bright sun and Atlantic breezes, the artist gave himself over to painting en plein air. Hassam created a body of work that remains a pinnacle of American impressionism. This is the first exhibition in more than 25 years to focus on Hassam's paintings of the Isles of Shoals, a group of small, rocky islands lying in the Gulf of Maine six miles off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The exhibition features more than 40 oil paintings and watercolors dating from the late 1880's to 1912.


The initial interest for Hassam was the exquisite garden of poet and painter and local celebrity Celia Thaxter. Appledore's greatest champion, Thaxter published An Island Garden in 1894 with illustrations by Hassam. Over four summers, Hassam painted Thaxter's garden (as you see here with the poppies) and the views from her cottage piazza. Her flourishing cultivated plot scarcely bound by its 15-by-50-foot wooden fence and overlooking Babb's Rock provided the staging for the painter's first in-depth exploration of Appledore's scenery. 


Beginning in 1848, vacationers began flocking to Appledore's grand hotel to escape the hassles of modern life. The island also boasted gabled cottages, a cobble beach with rowboats and daysailers, a saltwater bathing pool with cabanas, and tennis courts. At the height of the season, the dining hall of The Appledore House would host upward of 300 well-heeled guests. They would stroll the circuit road, survey the geological marvels and watch the Atlantic's waves crash against the shores. On the west side, they would swim the sheltered coves and play tennis on the nearby courts. At the end of a leisurely day, many would head to the hotel's wonderfully wide porch to take in a sunset. Although Hassam enjoyed the island society on his working vacations, he never painted its throngs. Instead he crafted and created more pure, unpeopled landscapes on Appledore than anywhere else.

Hassam has been quoted as saying, "I spent some of my pleasantest summers...(and) where I met the best people in the country." Hassam's subjects for his paintings included Thaxter's flower garden, the rocky landscape, and some interior scenes rendered with his most impressionistic brush strokes to date. In Impressionist fashion, he applied his colors "perfectly clear out of the tube" to unprimed canvas without pre-mixing. Artists displayed their work in Thaxter's salon and were exposed to wealthy buyers staying on the island.
On a treeless island, painting could not have been all pleasure. One has only to stand on the exposed rocks where Hassam painted to marvel at the artist's fortitude. The midsummer sun would have left the painter scorched, even if shaded by an umbrella. Gusty salt breezes would have played havoc with a stretched canvas. When the breeze stills, insects would rise from the tidal pools. Though Hassam found a few good sites along the road that circled the island, he mostly looked off-road, scrambling up rocks and boulders.



On our way home, we stopped at Treadwell's Ice Cream. This shop has been serving ice cream since 1946. The ice cream was wonderful and it was amazing to me so see how many people stopped here and seemed like regulars. Not something we really see in DC. Nothing seems to stay around long enough!

August 5, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. During our drive up to Boston from DC, we stopped at a McDonald's. Mattie loved french fries and vanilla shakes. So we got these items for him and as you can see I was sitting in the back seat with him. If the three of us were in the car, I typically sat with Mattie in the back seat until he got older. Peter snapped this photo because something funny was said between him and me and Mattie was absolutely cracking up with laughter. 


Quote of the day: Nothing is more contagious as an example. We never do great good or great evil without bringing about more of the same on the part of others. ~ Francois De La Rochefoucauld


A day never to be forgotten....... Seven years ago TODAY we learned that Mattie's cancer metastasized throughout his body and we went from actively fighting cancer, to finding a way to come to terms with the fact that he was dying!.
Four children a day in the US die from cancer. The medicine fails many of our children and the psychosocial ramifications of childhood cancer unfortunately do not end when the treatment does.

We remember always as Mattie's cancer and death guide our work and commitment to ensuring that psychosocial care is provided for all children with cancer and their families.


I entitle this photo, "Captain Mattie." Mattie loved boats and he would always tell people he was saving his money in a piggy bank to buy a boat! He wasn't talking about a toy boat, but a real boat with a motor. 

We couldn't give him that as his last request but instead we got him all sorts of remote controlled boats that we placed in a kiddie pool on our deck and Captain Mattie directed their journey in the pool.
Peter and Mattie building! I'm quite sure that in 2008 and 2009, we built every Lego kit possible!
Legos were Mattie's form of therapy! It helped us as a family have a productive diversion during very tumultuous times. It also helped us talk through different feelings while our hands and heads were engaged in building.
Mattie and me on Speedy Red! Speedy was Mattie's last wish... He wanted a ride on vehicle. I was afraid he wouldn't know how to drive the car or have the strength for that activity. After all Mattie was hooked up to oxygen and a pain pump!

Mattie took to driving like a duck to water! He just understood the mechanics of it all!














This afternoon, Peter and I went for a two mile walk. This is what we saw on our walk.......
I have always wanted to see an angel statue of hope inspired by Richard Evans book, The Christmas Box! We came across one today by happenstance. It was a Mattie sign to me as these statues are all across the country designed to help parents remember and honor their children who have died. A beautiful book, a beautiful statue and of course I remember my beautiful boy!

The bricks in front of this angel statue, have the names of local children who have died and left their families behind. 
The back of the statue says.....

The Christmas Box, Angel of Hope
Dedicated in loving memory of all the precious children gone too soon. 

Annual candlelight vigil December 6th at 7pm














Families clearly leave special stones by the statue. One said, "you are my sunshine" and another said, "hope." The statue is supposed to represent
hope to all parents who have endured the death of a child, it will be a grave site for parents who don’t have one. It will be a symbol of hope, a place to reflect, a place of healing and a special place for people to grieve.













Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, was the summer home of one of America’s first professional interior designers, Henry Davis Sleeper. Perched on a rock ledge overlooking Gloucester Harbor, Beauport became Sleeper’s retreat, backdrop for entertaining, professional showcase, and an inspiration to all who visited. After Sleeper’s death, Beauport was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCann, who left most of Sleeper’s arrangements and collections intact.

The house has frequently been written about in books and magazines, with the first major article appearing in House Beautiful in 1916. It has been featured in such diverse publications as Architectural Digest, Country Living, and The Boston Globe, and has been showcased on televisions programs such as America's Castles.

Beauport, with its labyrinth of small rooms, layers of objects, and false doors, is a playhouse and a place that exists as a dream. The small rooms change shape, lead one to another without a quickly understood plan or even a simple hallway. Each room shows the interior designer at play, mixing, as a dream mixes, parts of history. Walking through, one catches hints of a deeper psychological message: the closet-sized writing nook, the small bedrooms tucked under the eaves, the unexpected windows. Beauport is a place of concealment and vistas.

A stunning wall of amber cape cod glass. He was an avid glass collector, something I absolutely appreciate. Frankly I couldn't understand how the McCann's could buy a house and keep all the items from the previous owner (Henry Sleeper). But after seeing Sleeper's amazing and extensive collections, you can see why someone would want to keep them!

The interior and exterior of the house contain Sleeper’s lifetime collection of curiosities, colored glass, folk art, china, and silhouettes in every nook and alcove. Each of the forty rooms is distinguished by a historical or literary figure, theme, color, shape, or object. No two rooms are the same, with each more visually dazzling than the last. The house is framed by newly restored Arts and Crafts-style terraces that include intimate garden rooms with dramatic views of the harbor.

 Purple Cape Cod glass
What I loved about these rooms, was how each one seemed to draw you to the outside!  There was always somewhere cozy you could sit and contemplate or conversate!








As Henry Sleeper was a premier interior designer, he used this bedroom as a showroom in a way. Remember this house was built in 1908. What is amazing about the house is that in EACH bedroom, there was always a closet, its own bathroom, and a mirror. It was something Sleeper insisted upon!
The bathroom associated with that bedroom. 




















The veranda, which was attached to the above bedroom. It was an amazing view of the Bay and you could see the sit of Boston in the distance!











 Me in the mirror
 Sleeper's library
One of my favorite rooms, the dining room. This photo doesn't do it justice, since the windows look out onto the Bay, and the windows open up!
The octagonal room
This room sticks out in my mind for one particular reason. Through the windows you can see the neighbor's house, who were a married couple. Sleeper was close to the neighbors and when the husband died, Sleeper planted lavender bushes outside this window and also placed lavender glass on the window sills. This way, when the neighbor looked toward Sleeper's house, she could always be reminded that Sleeper had not forgotten his friend! Lavender was the color of mourning and in essence remembrance. 

The outside beauty of the house!













You can see why this was the perfect places for a summer retreat and Sleeper entertained big wigs like the Dupont family and countless others! 

August 4, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. That week we went to Boston to visit Peter's parents. Outside their home they have a tree swing. Mattie loved being outside and was getting the hang of being on a swing. Mattie particularly liked the time he spent with Peter and me, and having our undivided attention. Which we always gave Mattie right from the beginning. We did not want to miss out on any of the stages of his life and fortunately we made this decision because we wouldn't have gotten a second chance. 





Quote of the day: We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more. ~ Anne-Sophie Swetchine


Today we went to visit Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, RI. It is a very unique place, because it features topiaries, a wonderful Estate, and gardens. 

This small country estate in Portsmouth was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton (1844-1939), Treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company in Fall River, Massachusetts. It consisted of seven acres of land, a white clapboard summer residence, farm outbuildings, a pasture and a vegetable garden.

Gardener Joseph Carreiro, superintendent of the property from 1905 to 1945, and his son-in-law, George Mendonca, superintendent until 1985, were responsible for creating the topiaries. There are more than 80 pieces of topiary throughout the gardens, including animals and birds, geometric figures and ornamental designs, sculpted from California privet, yew, and English boxwood.


Green Animals is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. Mr. Brayton's daughter Alice gave the estate its name because of the profusion of "green animals." She made the estate her permanent residence in 1939. Upon her death in 1972, at the age of 94, Miss Brayton left Green Animals to The Preservation Society of Newport County. Today, Green Animals remains as a rare example of a self-sufficient estate combining formal topiaries, vegetable and herb gardens, orchards and a Victorian house overlooking Narragansett Bay.

One of the interior rooms of the estate. This house was filled with all the original furnishing that belonged to Alice Brayton. 










The Sailing ship--- Topiaries made in the 1940s, continued to be made from California privet. Privet is a semi evergreen shrub is fast growing with dark green, elliptic leaves. It was used because it produced relatively quick results. Since it was a summer residence, it was not a concern that privet was deciduous and sheds its leaves in the fall. It requires regular pruning and maintenance including weekly hand trimming. Some conservation metal supports have been discreetly positioned inside the forms to provide stability in wind and snow.

A Camel

 Flower basket
 Another favorite of mine, the giraffe!
A lion, since my astrological sign is Leo the Lion, I am kind of partial to this fellow. 
A bear, which apparently is a community favorite!





















The grounds also include a small orchard, a cutting garden, a vegetable patch and gourd arbor, and a damask rose garden. Vegetables from the garden are maintained by a community farm program and the produce is used by the Rhode Island Food Bank.

Beech tree -- which is over 160 years old, greets you as soon as you enter the property. 
There are over 35 formal flowerbeds, geometric pathways, rose arbor, grape arbor, fruit trees, and vegetable and herb gardens.

 Unbelievable Dahlias

One of my favorite flower sights.... the Sunflower
Isn't this artichoke a cutie? 














Beach house -- we had lunch by the bay today, and this restaurant is voted as one of the top scenic dining views in Rhode Island. 





August 3, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in June of 2004. Peter's maternal grandmother was in the hospital in Connecticut and we drove up to visit with her. Gladys LOVED food and we packed all sorts of goodies to share with her when we got there. Of course I also packed a bag of tricks to keep Mattie occupied while in Gladys' room. Gladys was into her family and I have no doubt seeing Mattie's energy and getting to know him made her day a little brighter. 


Quote of the day: A character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. ~ Charles Hadden Spurgeon




Peter and I are in Boston visiting his parents. When we landed at Logan Airport we stopped at Legal Seafood for lunch. This is a restaurant I always loved when I lived in Boston. Their fish is very fresh and the service is always professional. When in New England, a lobster roll seems like a must. 

When we arrived at Peter's parents' home, we were greeted by this beautiful wild turkey. This turkey has been with them since the Fall and he has been given the name, Bok Bok, since this is the sound he makes
I am not sure you can see this, but this is meeting of the minds... turkey versus cat. The cat is on the lower right, and he is black and white, and the turkey is walking down the steps on the left. Interestingly enough these two animals seem to tolerate yet are intrigued by one other. 














We visited the Brooks Estate today in Medford, MA. It was the perfect weather day to tour around..... beautifully sunny with low humidity. 

Shepherd Brooks was born in 1837. With the premature death of his father, he inherited significant assets before his graduation with an architect's degree from Harvard in 1857. He married Clara Gardner, niece of Isabella Stewart Gardner, in 1872, and the couple had three children, Helen, Gorham, and Rachel.
The design of his summer estate was a large part of Shepherd's life work. With a background in architecture and agriculture, he set out to re-shape his farm. The Shepherd Brooks Manor is in the Queen Anne style, characterized by eclecticism and asymmetry, elements of classical architecture, complex interlocking forms, a steep, pitched roof, and detailed chimneys. The primary exterior material is red brick, with brownstone sills and trim. The house has a granite foundation (with stones recycled from the Middlesex Canal) and a "Rutland Red" slate roof with copper flashing. The windows and cornices/trim were originally painted a deep green, as are the restored windows and shutters.
The house is organized around a large central hall that runs the length of the house, separating an elegant parlor and library on one side and an office and dining room on the other. A beautiful carved butternut staircase dominates the hall.


With over 50 acres of protected open space, the Brooks Estate is an environmental asset and historic landscape of great value to human visitors and wildlife alike.
Graced by a rolling, ascending topography, the property features Brooks Pond (ca. 9 acres), wetlands (ca. 21 acres), forest (ca. 25 acres) and the core historic landscape (about 5 acres).
This is a glaciated landscape with kettle holes, erratics and prominent ledge. The forest is primarily oak and maple, with numerous large trees planted by the Brooks family. The Pond, hand-dug in the 1880's from an existing marsh, anchors the Estate to the south.

A fun fact...... there are 65 to 70 species of birds that visit or live at the Brooks Estate each year. 

The Estate has been in great disrepair, but it is under a major three year renovation. Look at this beautiful terracotta that has been revealed on the veranda! 

I am signing off for tonight, but stay tuned for more Boston adventures!