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 26, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. We took Mattie to an outdoor fair in Los Angeles. Literally several streets were closed down and all sorts of child friendly activities were taking place from pony rides to miniature trains. Mattie did both that day and had a great time.... as was evident with the smile and excitement captured in this photo!










Quote of the day: To know how to say what others only know how to think is what makes men poets or sages; and to dare to say what others only dare to think makes men martyrs or reformers - or both. ~ Elizabeth Charles


As a child, I can recall my maternal grandmother watching Days of Our Lives, the soap opera, while ironing clothes! Though I could hear it, it meant nothing to me until I entered high school and started watching it myself. Not unlike most things, there were years I tuned into the program and then several years when life took over and I tuned out. Yet, as a Days of Our Lives fan, and having history with the show, it is quite easy to pick it back up even if it is years later. While raising Mattie, I never watched the show. It was only recently that I tuned back in and of course was immediately glued and absorbed back into the lives of the Bradys, Hortons, and DiMeras! These are families in a way that I feel I have grown up with. One thing I have to say is that Days is a wonderful diversion for me and when I watch it I forget about my own issues and worries for the day. So I consider it my mental health break from reality!

Days of Our Lives is one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, airing nearly every weekday since November 8, 1965. Due to the series' success, it was expanded from 30 minutes to 60 minutes on April 21, 1975. The series focuses on its core families, the Hortons and the Bradys. Several other families have been added to the cast, and many of them still appear on the show. Frances Reid, the matriarch of the series' Horton family remained with the show from its inception to her death on February 3, 2010 (at 96 years of age!). Susan Seaforth Hayes is the only cast member to appear on Days of Our Lives in all five decades it has been on air. Days of Our Lives has been able to celebrate its 50th anniversary, because it typically covers cutting edge issues that so many of us can relate to.

My mom and I entered a clothing store to browse around today and as we were entering the store, I saw a woman who looked familiar to me leaving the store. We literally passed each other. As she began to get closer to me, I knew immediate who it was.... Susan Seaforth Hayes, who plays Julie Williams for over 40 years on Days of Our Lives.




Naturally I could have let her just walk by. But I didn't. I actually smiled at her, which caught her attention and then I said "hi." But I said it in a way that my mom assumed I knew her. Then I started chatting with her, and my mom was further perplexed because she did not recognize in any context the woman I was talking to! Then I explained to my mom that Ms. Hayes is on Days of Our Lives. Pictured here are Susan and her husband Bill. They are married in real life and on the set of Days of Our Lives.

I am sure Ms. Hayes is used to people approaching her because soap opera fans are passionate and intense about their shows. But I think what intrigued me is I felt like I knew her, and talked to her as such. Yet naturally I don't know her! I only know the character she plays, but since she has played it for almost 40 years, I wonder if there is a distinction?!
This was Susan Seaforth Hayes and her husband Bill Hayes on Days of Our Lives in 1973, when they got married. Imagine working on the set of Days of Our Lives for over 40 years? The ironic part to me is people age on the set but the magic captured in their character is timeless. Ms. Hayes is 73 years old, her husband is 91 years old, and Frances Reid (the Horton family matriarch) played on the show up until age 96! Totally impressive, which is why I feel the show appeals to a wide demographic.


August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. We took Mattie to Los Angeles and on our adventures we went to Griffith Park. Another Mattie favorite. The irony is I went to high school in Los Angeles and passed Griffith Park all the time, but never ventured in, until we had Mattie. Mattie loved the pony rides, the carousel, and of course the train rides! I can't tell you how many times we all rode this miniature train!


Quote of the day: It is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower



Today my parents and I went out to lunch together. While dining at the restaurant, this is the scene I saw outside the window. For the entire time we were at the restaurant Warner Bros was shooting a scene from their new Lethal Weapon movie. Movies seem glamourous, however, the entire time we were at the restaurant they filmed the same scene OVER and OVER again. It was literally just extras walking down the street, for hours. Same people, doing the same motion. 

In a way it felt like we were also on set for this movie, since we could see the camera man, the lighting folks, the person directing the scene and so forth.
After lunch, MIND YOU THEY WERE STILL AT IT, I decided to take close up photos of this scene. Notice two of the extras.... one was smiling at me and the other waving. Which was down right hysterical because I watched both of them walking up and down the street over the course of our entire lunch! But they were good sports! The lady in the blue shirt, seemed to be the lead extra... notice her silvery shoes which don't seem to go with the rest of her outfit!

They were also filming inside this clothing store. The store's real name is Rosemary and Sage. Yet while filming, they changed the window on the front door to a different name altogether! The real store was closed for the day so filming could take place! Things are never boring in Southern California, especially when you are so close to major movie studios.

Later on in the afternoon, my mom and I went on a 3.5 mile walk. Along the way, I found "Miss Puss." She was in someone's front yard and she came trotting on over to greet us. I clearly have an LA friend!












Along our journey today, we saw a sign up by a realtor's office for the famous Bob and Delores Hope Estate. Bob Hope made Toluca Lake famous and I was stunned to see that after 13 years since his death, his home is now on the market. The house is 15,000 square feet, on 5.2 acres of land, with an indoor and outdoor pool, and has its own putting green. The house is on the market for $22 million. I really wish there was an open house to tour this 1930s classic. To see a video tour go to..............

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly62SgZZ_Mc

August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. We took Mattie to Travel Town, one of his favorite places to visit in Los Angeles. Why? Because it was a museum filled with trains that children could climb, run around in, blow their whistles, play with gears and walk on the tracks. A real find for anyone enamored with trains. LIKE MATTIE! Notice what else came along for the trip... Mr. Sippy Cup! That cup came everywhere, as Mattie loved drinking milk. I always had a cooler bag with me, so when sippy cup was needed..... there it was. Our joke was Mattie was going to have the strongest bones around..... we never imagined it would be possible for him to instead develop bone cancer.


Quote of the day: Every great work, every big achievement, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement. ~ Florence Scovel Shinn


In 2013, Animal Planet aired a TV program called, "A Wild Affair" featuring the only sign language trained orangutan in the world named Chantex. Chantex (which means lovely and beautiful) was born December 17, 1977, at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He mastered the use of a number of intellectual skills, including sign language, and was taught by American anthropologists Lyn Miles and Ann Southcombe. My parents and I happened to watch this documentary last night. It is definitely worth seeing and truly as you are watching this you are fascinated by Chantex's bright and sensitive nature.

Dr. Miles hypothesis was that nurture in a way could supersede nature. Meaning that if you raised an orangutan with humans, he would develop human communication patterns and also live life more like a human child than an ape. Remember this was the 1970s, a time where social science research was fascinated with communication, how humans communicate with each other, language acquisition skills and identifying critical periods during which humans learn to understand and use language. All great, but what was lacking in 1970s research was the ethical implications of conducting such studies on the lives of human/animal subjects. In Chantex's situation, Dr. Miles didn't consider the long term ramifications on Chantex. After all, an ape of this size couldn't possibly live with humans all his life, and yet, how do you transition such an animal back into the wild after teaching him sign language and raising him with humans? Complex questions that would need to be evaluated today before any institutional review board would allow such a study! Yet in all fairness to Dr. Miles, such review boards did not exist back then.
Chantek is now 36-year-old and lives at the Zoo Atlanta since 1997. In the years prior to his arrival at Zoo Atlanta, Chantek had a very unconventional upbringing in that he was reared by humans in a human setting (pictured with Dr. Miles). As part of a language research project, he was taught American Sign Language (ASL) as a juvenile. Chantex lived with Dr. Miles for almost 9 years and then after several incidents (breaking out of his home, scaring students, destruction of property) living on a college campus in Tennessee, the university insisted that the research stop and Chantex be sent back to Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Chantex was there for 11 years, locked in a cage and dealing with depression and other issues. Imagine living freely and amongst humans, to then living in cage and isolated.  
Chantek has a vocabulary of over 150 modified ESL signs, and he also understands spoken English. Chantek makes and uses tools and even understands the concepts of money and work-exchange.

While at the University of Tennessee, he possessed the spatial comprehension to direct a driving-route from the university to the closest Dairy Queen, and the mental comprehension to refer to events that happened years ago. He enjoys creative projects and makes paintings, necklaces, crafts and music. The photo shows Chantex with Ann, purchasing a cheeseburger at a local drive thru.

Chantex growing up and playing at the University of Tennessee. He quickly understood that if he complied with chores, he got positive feedback and rewards such as play time and all sorts of tasty treats.
Chantex grew to be 500 pounds when he was transferred to the Atlanta Zoo. No surprise since he had been eating people food consisting of ice cream, candy, soda, and so forth! As a result of living at the zoo and eating a more orangutan friendly diet, he is now 295 pounds.
I honestly think that Dr. Miles was heart broken that her research came to an end. She literally was bonded with Chantex and treated almost like her child. She still visits him today at the zoo and through his cage communicates to him by signing. This is a very deeply meaningful documentary that leaves you with many thoughts, feelings, and questions. I naturally view this from a 2016 lens, but need to remember how cutting edge research this was for the 1970s, and despite the challenges Chantex faced, I do believe Dr. Miles really loves Chantex and wants what is best for him and his life. To me this bond she had with Chantex was almost as fascinating as her language research!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 -- Mattie died 362 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. We took Mattie to another favorite place that he liked to visit.... Travel Town. Travel Town is located in Griffith Park, in Burbank, CA. The beauty of this park is it is a museum that has historic trains of the West. Yet it is a very child friendly museum because kids can walk the tracks, climb on the trains, ring the bells, and so forth. This was right up Mattie's alley since he loved trains.


Quote of the day: No great thing is created suddenly. ~ Epictetus


We drove today to Santa Ana, to see an exhibit at the Bowers Museum. A museum we have never visited before. In theory it should take under an hour to get to the museum, however, with traffic it took about 90 minutes each way. But the drive to the museum was a total adventure. I plugged in the address to our GPS, but given the fact that we were directed onto six different freeways along the journey, I was  worried and concluded that something was wrong. It definitely looked wrong. So I had my mom call Peter..... all the way in DC to help us. I am sure that sounds hysterical to most people, but Peter is VERY used to my "I'm lost" phone calls over the years, that it probably doesn't faze him anymore. In any case, within minutes Peter deduced where we were, and told us that we were on the right track and almost there. We concluded that the GPS rerouted us to avoid traffic on the main freeway, however, I can assure you that when we saw the museum and got out of the car, it felt like we won the lottery. If you haven't driven freeways in Southern California, then it is hard to describe. But they are six lanes typically and traffic moves FAST. You have to have your wits about you and know where you are going, because there is no wiggly room to make decisions.

A photo of my parents outside the entrance to the Bowers Museum!

"Mummies of the World" highlight the stories of the people behind the mummies through scientific methods used to study mummies, including Computed Tomography (CT), ancient DNA analysis and radiocarbon dating, all of which allow researchers to learn about the lives, history, and cultures of the mummies. Who were they? Where did they come from? And what can they teach us?

Mummies of the World portrays a once-in-a-lifetime collection of real mummies and artifacts from across the globe. This compelling collection, presented with reverence and dignity, includes ancient mummies dating back as far as 4,500 years. A fascinating mix of old and new, this captivating collection bridges the gap between past and present with contributions from 10 world-renowned Institutions and two private collectors.

Security detail when the mummies were transported to the Bowers Museum.

Because of the nature of this exhibit, each of the rooms was dark and quiet. Not unlike entering a church, or a library. People were quiet and reserved. After all we were reminded that the objects on display were REAL PEOPLE, who had REAL LIVES. When you go to a cemetery, you aren't running around and conversing. Well the same behavior occurs at this exhibit!

For the most part, people were quiet and on good behavior. But there was a somber feeling about walking through these catacomb like rooms. The Museum personnel reminded attendees that when they produced this exhibition, they were very careful to be very respectful and deferential to the cultures in which these mummies (and) artifacts originate.

One that stands (or lies) apart from the rest is MUMAB. His name stands for Mummy of the University of Maryland at Baltimore and he’s only been a mummy for 22 years.

In 1994, two researchers, Egyptologist Bob Brier and anatomist Ronn Wade, recreated ancient Egyptian mummification techniques at the University of Maryland, Baltimore to preserve the remains of a man who donated his body to science.

They made replicas of ancient tools and even gathered key ingredients from Egypt to make the process as close as possible to original practice.
Did ancient Egyptians drain blood from the bodies? Brier has studied many Egyptian mummies but hasn’t seen major incisions over arteries that would be used to drain the blood. What about the brain? Any kid can tell you ancient Egyptians used a hook to pull it through the nose, but Brier and Wade found out how it was likely done. “I realized the only way I’m going to answer these questions is I’m going to mummify a cadaver in the ancient way.” The ancient Egyptians never recorded the details of the process, Brier said. “That was kind of a trade secret.”

The process of mummification took about a day, but the legwork took a year. Brier traveled to Egypt for 600 pounds of natron from Wadi Natrun, the same place ancient Egyptians got their natron to preserve bodies. Natron is a naturally occuring compound of what we know as table salt and baking soda. Getting untreated linen, used to wrap the body, in today’s markets was a challenge, but Brier found some in Ireland. As for the draining of the blood, Brier said he and Wade opted not to do that. Instead, putting the body in natron was enough to dry it out, and shrink its weight from 180 pounds to 35.

Johannes Vac, from Hungary. Thought to have died at age one from Tuberculosis.  Because infectious diseases may evolve over time, scientists do not know whether strains of tuberculosis or TB from the past (including those appearing in Europe when it was most deadly) are related to the strains we see today. A new study suggests mixed and therefore more dangerous infections may have been common during a time when TB was near peak prevalence in Europe. Mummified bodies found in an 18th century crypt in Hungary yielded 14 separate genomic sequences of M. tuberculosis. By studying mummies, scientists can study tuberculosis in more depth and also understand if some people were immune to developing tuberculosis, and if so, whether such a gene can be scientifically engineered.


Also in this exhibit were accounts of children being sacrificed in the name of their religion. I try not to put my lens on this, but the senseless death of a child, was heard to swallow. In any case, under biochemical analysis, the children's hair yield a record of what they ate and drank during the last two years of their lives. This evidence seems to support historical accounts of a few selected children taking part in a year of sacred ceremonies—marked in their hair by changes in food, coca, and alcohol consumption—that would ultimately lead to their sacrifice. In Inca religious ideology, coca and alcohol could induce altered states associated with the sacred. But the substances likely played a more pragmatic role as well, disorienting and sedating the young victims on the high mountainside to make them more accepting of their own grim fates.

An Egyptian priest named Nes-Hor, who was determined to have arthritis and a broken left hip. 
A beloved cat, mummified to accompany his owner to the next world. The process used on people was just as meticulous for pets.

August 22, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2004. We took Mattie to the arboretum in Arcadia, CA that day. This was one of Mattie's favorite places to go for many reasons. First Mattie thrived in big outdoor spaces, and second Mattie loved all the wildlife at the park. Especially the peacocks. Peacocks roam freely at the park and Mattie got a kick out of watching them walk, fly into the trees, and of course the dance they used to do when fluffing out their tail feathers.


Quote of the day: Victory belongs to the most persevering. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Some times I search through Google to see what turns up regarding Mattie Miracle. I do this for multiple reasons. For example, I want to make sure no one is posting things representing the Foundation without our permission and at other times I am just searching to see different photos of Mattie. Like taking a walk down memory lane. Naturally I have these photos on my computer, but it is special to see them on line. I found this series of photos taken by the Washington Post. These photos were taken shortly after Mattie died. As you can see this photo featured some of Mattie's Lego creations. Legos were very important to us because they served as our main form of therapy while Mattie was battling cancer. The ironic part about this is all of these Lego structures remain assembled and on display in our living room.

I am so glad the newspaper captured some of the chaos we were living in. Our home honestly looked like an episode of Hoarders. Not something I was proud of, given that prior to cancer I kept things neat and organized.

Yet Mattie was given many gifts of all sorts while battling cancer. Some were handed directly to him and others were mailed to him. Not WEEKLY, but daily. Imagine taking in MANY things each and year day for over a year and NOT having the time to organize it or remove certain items to make room for the new ones. The intake was greater than I knew how to process and naturally given that Mattie was so ill, clean up was NOT important. As a results, there were PILES, upon PILES everywhere in our home. Mattie's room became UNUSABLE after he died because there was stuff everywhere. You couldn't see the floor! It took me a long time to contend with this hoard of items. Let's try years!


From this angle, you can see how high some of the piles were. I neither had the energy or the where with all to contend with any of Mattie's things. Therefore they just sat undisturbed for years. As if I was waiting for him to return to use them. My brain just couldn't process he wasn't coming back.
Then in 2013, only three years ago, I started slowly cleaning out the room (this is what it began to look like once cleaned). I just felt as if I had to because the room wasn't representing Mattie's memory well. If I had a huge home, I honestly think I would have left things like they were probably indefinitely. But given our limited space, I felt that I had to deal with this room, the piles and hoard every where, and finally transform the space back to being useable and a space that honored Mattie. I can assure you that this process was very painful, labor intensive, and I did it alone. People were not lining up at my doorstep to help with this! Not like after the first year after Mattie died. That first year is hard, but frankly you are too numb and in a daze to know what is really happening. It is all the years after the first where emotional support is greatly needed.

Literally as I was cleaning out Mattie's room, the number of garbage bags just piled up. That Fall I donated over 60 garbage bags full of items to Goodwill.
Once the room was cleaned out, Peter and I began painting Mattie's room. We transformed it from an ivory color to a sunny orangey peach color. In line with Mattie Miracle colors, because Mattie's room was being transformed into my Foundation office.






At one time, Mattie had books on these shelves. I donated many of Mattie's books, except for his very favorite ones. Then I got bins for each of his shelves and now use them to store Foundation paperwork and of course to highlight Mattie's artistic creations.
In December 2015, the Washington Post came back into our home to interview us. The room LOOKED very different from the hoard they saw years before. Now the room is filled with all sorts of visual memories of Mattie.
I found this photo through Google tonight. It features many of the items from our VERY first Foundation Walk in May of 2010. The beautiful cards in the upper left hand corner feature Mattie's Mr. Sun painting on the cover. I still have some of these cards and LOVE them. Mattie created his Mr. Sun painting with his art teacher in school. This painting served as our model for our Foundation's logo.

Our teenager friend (at the time), Isabel, made these wonderful Foundation magnets for us and she sold them at our Walk and gave us 100% of the proceeds.
T-shirts from our Walks through the years. This is when we used to have themed walks..... Love of Family, Faces of Hope, etc.
I found this photo on Google tonight and it featured Mattie Miracle's Whole Foods Day in Alexandria. I will never forget that day in 2012 because so many of our supporters came to visit us and the store gave Mattie Miracle 5% of all sale proceeds that day!

 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2008. My parents and I took Mattie to the LA Arboretum and you can see Mattie selected this beautiful yellow tree to pose by. I haven't seen this photo in a very long time, but when I see it, it makes me smile. I am so glad I recently found it.












Quote of the day: If the cat sits long enough at the hole, it will catch the mouse. ~ Irish Proverb


My mom and I took a walk today through Toluca Lake. The history of Toluca Lake can be traced back to the days of the Tongva Indians, followed by Spanish and Mexican occupation and development. It was part of the early rancho system and then it was later divided, with the neighborhood being known as Forman Toluca Ranch. After an almost four mile walk through this historic and beautiful neighborhood, we came across an open house. So we ventured into this 7,000 square foot beauty. I honestly never knew this was Henry Winkler's home in the 1980s, until I did a little research. But this 1938 house was like taking a walk through time (and I am so happy the integrity and charm of this house hasn't been gutted out and modernized)! I should note that this house is selling for 8 million dollars!


A Virtual Tour of this house:

http://9956tolucalake.aaroe.site/#/


This house was designed by Paul Williams, a famous architect who was known to be the architect of the Hollywood stars! Like many of Williams' residences, this 1938 Tudor revival has a celebrity-studded history. His homes captivated the entertainment elite starting in the late 1920s and have come to signify glamorous Southern California to the world.
 
 
The estate was built for American screenwriter Gladys Lehman, one of the founders of both the Screenwriters Guild and the Motion Picture Relief Fund. It was featured in Architectural Digest twice, in 1937 and again in 1982 when it was owned by actor Henry Winkler. It also appears in Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style, a book by the architect's granddaughter, Karen E. Hudson (Rizzoli, 2012). It is one of Hudson's favorites among her grandfather's homes.
 
The estate reflects Williams' consummate command of historic architecture throughout, with leaded windows, dark wood flooring, intricate molding, custom wall inlays and leather details.



Among its regal spaces are a formal entry, a majestic paneled library with beamed ceiling, a wine cellar, and a dramatic coffered-ceilinged office with a wraparound view of the lake and pool area. The sleekly modern kitchen supports entertaining on any scale.
 
A curving staircase, a Williams signature, leads to the second-story master suite, featuring a private balcony and a raised seating area with fireplace. A fountain and outdoor fireplace add to the enchanting ambience of the expansive covered brick patio. Highlights on the grounds include a gazebo, a canopied private area with built-in seating nook and fireplace, and a private dock.
Pool
Backyard over looking the lake

The beauty of Toluca Lake
 View from backyard
Toluca Lake--- private natural lake which is fed by the Los Angeles River and maintained by neighboring property owners.
Neighbor across the way has a swan boat!