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

December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was four years old and it was a Christmas tradition to visit the US Botanical Gardens. It had something for everyone..... amazing holiday plant decorations (as you can see we were standing in front of a model of the US Capitol made completely out of plant material), greenery, and wonderful trains that moved around the plantings on tracks. 


Quote of the day: When your mind changes, the world changes. And when we respond differently to the world, the world responds differently to us. ~   By David Loy


As tonight's quote points out, it is important at times to have a mind set change, and to respond differently to the world. I am trying to take that stance as it relates to winter. It was one of those gray, raw, and frigid days in Washington, DC. It may have read 27 degrees on a thermometer, but with the wind chill it was much colder. Though we may want to stay inside, our furry friend needs to go out and walk. So we visited Roosevelt Island again today, and I tried to take the mindset that it wasn't that cold. When we got to the Island, I was VERY intrigued by the zebra stripping of ice on the Potomac River. Have you ever seen anything like this?


The only thing moving on the Island today were the birds. Mattie and I loved to spot cardinals. You couldn't miss this bird today, as his red color stood out among the barren trees. Yesterday there were a few people walking on the Island, but today there really was NO ONE. It was that cold. 
We might be cold, but Sunny in his fur coat, was nice and toasty! He was eager to go for a longer walk, and wasn't thrilled with us when we shortened the walk. 

Peter came home from our trip with a bad cold.... congestion, coughing, all that fun. So on Friday, I made a huge pot of homemade chicken soup. I threw in all sorts of things... white chicken, celery, carrots, zucchini, red pepper, onions, and pasta. This soup has been a wonderful lunch for several days now. I am joking with Peter, as I told him it is my soup that is getting him better. 

December 30, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2005. We took Mattie to Fort Lauderdale at Christmas time and met up with my parents. Whenever we went to Florida, we always visited Butterfly World. This photo was taken in the lorikeet house. This may look familiar to some of my faithful readers, as I took a photo of Peter on Tuesday in this same location. Feeding the lorikeets is a daunting undertaking because they are loud, do a lot of squawking and will swoop all around you if you are holding a cup of nectar. I know last week a woman tried to feed the lorikeets but she was so intimidated by the birds that she literally threw the nectar cup up in the air and ran away. In this photo, you can see that Mattie was somewhat hesitant to feed the birds himself, yet he wanted to observe the experience.  


Quote of the day: The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~ JB Priestley


In just a matter of days we went from 80 degree temperatures to now being in the 20's! It is a real rude awakening. We went to bed and there was NO SNOW and then we woke up this morning and there was a dusting of snow everywhere. The fact that it is so cold, this dusting isn't going to disappear very quickly. 

Despite the frigid temperatures, Sunny still has to walk. We took him to Roosevelt Island today and I snapped this photo of Georgetown University in the distance. I can't look at those spires without thinking of Mattie and his cancer treatments on that campus. 

Walking through the snow on Roosevelt Island. Sunny absolutely LOVES stalking anything that moves or scurries!
Can you see the water around the Island is frozen!?
Sunny was checking out the frozen water and looking for any creatures to catch his attention. It was so cold today we saw nothing moving! 

December 29, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. Mattie was 5 years old and that evening we walked to the National Mall to see National Christmas Tree in front of the White House. Behind Mattie was the National Christmas Tree. I will never forget how FRIGID it was that night, and I am so glad despite the cold that we captured that moment in time. As visiting the National tree wasn't a tradition. Yet I remember how much fun Mattie had looking at each of the State trees (that surround the National big tree), seeing the toy trains running around the National tree, and also experiencing a real yule log. The Mall doesn't have a yule log anymore, I suppose for safety reasons. But in 2007, I can't tell you how wonderful it was to feel the warmth of the yule log on a cold winter night. 


Quote of the day: There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster. ~ Dalai Lama XIV


Although I can appreciate tonight's quote, I am not sure what sort of STRENGTH one can gain over today's deadliest fire in New York. I woke up today to this awful news and at first I did not know what part of NY this apartment building was located. So I immediately went on-line to find out as my lifetime friend lives in NYC. When I saw the apartment was located in the Bronx, I knew my friend was okay. Then I continued to read the story about this horrific tragedy. 

Any tragedy is terrible, but a senseless one, and one that could have been prevented to me is the worst kind. I will put aside how the fire was started..... as it was reported to be started by a child, and a child with a known interest in fire.... and move to what we all should learn from this! 

If a fire should break out in any space, the key is to not feed the fire with air. Which of course is a natural mistake, because when there is a fire we want to open doors and windows. However, in this case, after the fire was started on the first floor, the family escaped the rage and left their apartment door open. Open for the fire to seek air by going into the hallways and the stairwell. As the city fire commissioner said, the key is to CLOSE the DOOR! That is the overall take away message from this tragedy. 

Twelve people died in this blaze and many were children. Another 12 were rescued by firefighters, who had their work cut out for them with frigid temperatures and any dripping water from the fire hoses, froze. 
But here is what got me. This is a photo of a whole family killed in the fire, comprised of a mom (in yellow), her two small children (shown below), and the woman's niece (top left). The children were two and seven years of age. All of this makes me pause, because when I see children dying for no reason, it is deeply upsetting. Who knows what potential these children had, what their lives could have been like, or what our community and world will be missing by their death. Needless to say, we know that those who remain behind, are transformed personally by this loss. One doesn't expect to die in a tragedy in one's own home. A home should be a safe place.

A tragedy like this could happen to any one of us. Dying in a fire or dying from childhood cancer, may be considered rare (and can't happen to me!), until this happens to you or someone you know. Not unlike cancer, in this particular circumstance, so much was out of the residents' control. I found myself at first angered at the mom who allowed her child to play with fire, angered by the fact that authorities knew this child has a history of being interested in fire, and then upset to learn that the family abandoned the apartment where the fire started without regard to fellow neighbors. I clearly do not know the whole story and can't judge the scene without more information, but one thing is for certain.... tragedies and accidents happen, but it is how we react to them and treat others in the process that can make all the difference.  

December 28, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

This photo was taken in December of 2007. Every December we took Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens. It is a special museum in DC, but an incredibly memorable place to visit close to Christmas. The museum is decorated with plants, trees, toy trains, and miniature historical buildings (like the US Capitol), made out of plant materials. Mattie loved going every year, and what also made it unique was the museum was very warm. After all the plants needed this tropical heat to grow. So there was nothing like coming inside from the cold winter weather to this hot house!


Quote of the day: I was delighted to see you again, and forgot for the moment that all happiness is fleeting. ~ Alexandre Dumas



We may have returned home last night, but it has been non-stop chores for two days. After we landed last night, I did five loads of laundry and this morning, I went out in this twenty degree weather to pick up both animals. 

First pick up was Ms. Indie. When I brought Indie into our home today and opened her cage, she made a b-line to find Peter. Indie is most definitely PETER'S cat. Yet Indie was even excited to see me when I picked her up at our vet's office. She gave me several MEOWS, as Indie is a very vocal kitty! She practically has a vocalization for every mood and emotion she wishes to express. 


This afternoon, I went to pick up Sunny. When Sunny saw me at Dogtopia, he did not acknowledge me. Instead he wanted to immediately escape out the front door. I am used this reaction, as it happens every time I pick him up. However, once Sunny got into the car and I started talking to him, you should have heard the noises he was making.... sighs of various expressions. 

When Sunny came through the front door of our home and saw Peter, he literally was running around our living and dining rooms. He was THAT excited. I took a video of it, but videos are harder to upload to the blog, so I instead took a screenshot of the video to share here. You can literally see Sunny running with joy! 

I walked Sunny 2.5 miles today in the cold and he is sticking close to us all day. Clearly Sunny and Indie are thrilled to be back home. 

December 27, 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. Ironically I have few photos of the three of us together, which is why this one is one of my favorites. 








Quote of the day: Christmas, my child, is love in action. ~ Dale Evans Rogers


As I do often when I am away, I go to Dogtopia's webcam to check in on Sunny. Today Sunny was sitting in the middle of the circle of cots. If you can see it, he is staring toward the door. Sunny doesn't do well quarantined in one room, and I can see he is eagerly awaiting the door to open so he can come home. 
When I opened the curtains of our hotel room today, this is what I saw..... the 17th Street drawbridge up! This was a sight Mattie loved!! In fact, over the years we walked with Mattie to a drawbridge (on the half an hour) just so he could observe the mechanics in person. 
We had practically two weeks of beautiful sunshine. This was our first gray and rainy day! Regardless of the weather, cruise ships were in port, and we could see them from our window. 
Since Sunday, I have been observing this house opposite the hotel. The house is being renovated and today of all days, they decided to work on the roof. Not the best timing, as it soon began to pour!
I am telling you the rain looked like mini snowballs, it was that big!
My parents flew out of Miami and we flew out of Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately their airport was a zoo today and they gave my parents a very hard time. Only my dad had a seat assignment, despite the fact that these tickets were booked months ago. In addition, flights were overbooked. We had the same overbooked problem, but fortunately had seat assignments. 

We sat on the plane for an hour today in Fort Lauderdale. Which was a problem, because thanks to American Airlines, we had a layover in Charlotte, NC. A second flight that was timed very close to when we would be landing. Despite the fact that we paid for a direct flight, the Airline's cancelled all direct flights between DC and Fort Lauderdale over the holidays. Not very considerate. 


The take off from Fort Lauderdale is quite spectacular, and it is amazing that we have seen this particular site from both a plane and a ship. All the cruise ships leave the harbor following the same course as seen here. 
In fact, when on a cruise ship, the last few white condos on the corner of the beach (as you can see from this photo), make send offs very special for passengers. The condo owners come out on their balconies, they wave, blow horns, and several have cow bells, and RING THEM! 

However, in this photo, I can also see the Marriott Harbor Beach where we stayed for a few days. The hotel is the next big white set of buildings down the beach from the condos on the corner. 

As we were landing in Charlotte, NC tonight, this is what we saw! The sun setting. Literally we landed in Charlotte and had less than 20 minutes to go from terminal B to terminal D to catch our flight to Washington, DC. Fortunately we made it and are now back home and doing chores. 

Of course it is a total shock to the system to have gone from 80 degrees to 26 tonight! Not sure why anyone loves winter, and coming back from Florida's glorious weather, it makes you wonder why any of us put up with this!

December 26, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017 -- Mattie died 432 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2002. It was Mattie's first Christmas with us and I remember we had several adorable holiday outfits for him! I loved Mattie in the Santa hat and I am  so glad I always insisted on taking plenty of photos. 



Quote of the day: Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more! ~ Dr. Seuss


Since Mattie was a toddler, we have visited Butterfly World whenever we were in Fort Lauderdale. Mattie loved this park, and since butterflies remind me of Mattie, it is a meaningful experience to walk among these creatures. 



Butterfly World opened in 1988, and is the largest butterfly park in the world, and the first park of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The facility houses around 20,000 live butterflies. After retiring from a career as electrical engineer, Ronald Boender started raising butterflies and their food plants in his home in Florida. In 1984 he established MetaScience to help supply farmed butterflies to zoos and universities. After having visited England in 1985, where he met Clive Farrell (founder and owner of the London Butterfly House), he decided to create his own facility in Florida. Boender and Ferrell entered into partnership and started planning the facility, which was to be a public attraction, but also a research facility and a butterfly farm. Since then it has expanded to include the largest free flight hummingbird aviary in the United States, a Lorikeet Encounter, and an aviculture research center.


I don't recall this lovely yellow butterfly bench in the gardens before, but we stopped to take a photo on it today!
Mattie and Peter always fed the Lorikeets (a type of parrot) together! Peter continues to do this whenever we go. A Mattie tradition. 
Mattie also loved this suspension bridge. Why? Because when you walk on it, it moves. It is a clever addition to the park. 










Once in the butterfly pavilion, there is nothing but air between you and the butterflies. They fly freely around the enclosure landing on plants and sometimes people, while feeding on fruit and nectar. The butterflies come from a variety of butterfly farms located around the world. 
I love this memorial bench in the pavilion. It says.... Love is like a butterfly. It goes wherever it pleases and pleases wherever it goes. 
The pavilion has it all.... tropical plants, waterfalls, butterflies and free flying birds. But Butterfly World is not just a visual gift, it is also auditory. They pipe in very beautiful music that makes it an incredible sensory experience. 
In one portion of the pavilion is this misting tunnel. It is supposed to mimic the habitat the butterflies live in. I can assure you Mattie LOVED this tunnel and hung out there to get wet. 


This butterfly is known as the piano key butterfly. Can you see why? Look specifically at its bottom edges. 
 A glorious monarch. 
It is one thing to see these creatures, but imagine hundreds of them fluttering right by you! YOU are the visitor NOT them. 
I would say this is a Mattie Miracle butterfly. 
A blue morph. One of my favorites!! It is iridescent and hard to believe it is real. 
This incredible butterfly has violet stripes! 
You can't miss this one!
One of the wonderful birds flying passed us. 
Another blue morph. Ironically the outside of the butterfly (when it folds its wings), is brown and has what looks like an eye. 
Ever see a poinsettia like this? They grow like this in the Caribbean. 
The Wings of the World Secret Garden has one of the largest collections of flowering Passion Flower vines in the world. Passion Flower is a woody vine that has unusual blossoms. Roman Catholic priests of the late 1500's named it for the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. They believed that several parts of the plant, including the petals, rays, and sepals, symbolized features of the Passion. The flower's five petals and five petal like sepals represented the 10 apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Passion. The circle of hairlike rays above the petals suggested the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the day of His death.
More wonderful birds! Tomorrow we leave Florida and head home. It will be hard to leave greenery and 80 degrees behind. 

December 25, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017


Tonight's picture was taken on Christmas of 2008, Mattie's last Christmas with us. Mattie was home between treatments and was recovering from limb salvaging surgery. Mattie was dealing with a lot of pain, depression, and medical traumatic stress. He was not in a good or happy place, but despite that, I was able to capture this funny moment between himself and Peter. Mattie's friends dropped off these Christmas antlers, hat, and noses and together they made the best out of a very challenging situation. 





Quote of the day: Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ Calvin Coolidge


I think it goes without saying that celebrating another Christmas without Mattie, is packed with many challenges. We had 7 Christmases with Mattie, and now 9 without him. Let that sink in.... more without him, than with him. It is no picnic seeing families with their children whether in person or on Facebook. I naturally want to wish my friends who have children a Merry Christmas, and yet there is a part of me who doesn't want to see the MERRY or even hear about it. 


As it is Christmas, many attractions and activities in Fort Lauderdale were closed today. However, that did not stop our adventures. We went on a "Venice of America Tour." Which basically takes you for a 90 minute cruise on the intercoastal, to see homes, canals, and the downtown area. 

Peter and I had done such a cruise once before on a different boating line. Today's tour with Riverfront Cruises was much better than the previous tour we took. Captain Louie was humorous and gave us a lovely tour, and when he wasn't talking, he was playing old time Christmas music..... all the classics featuring Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Dean Martin, etc! I also love how they took a souvenir photo. 
My mom took a photo of Peter and me with the 17th street bridge in the background. I love all the bridges in Fort Lauderdale, as most are draw bridges that go up on the half an hour. An activity Mattie absolutely loved to watch. 
My mom and me. 
Going through the intercoastal canals. You can see why this is referred to as the Venice of America. The building on the right, that is a mint green is the Riverside Hotel (built in 1936). The oldest hotel in Fort Lauderale. 
In a way such a tour makes you feel like you are experiencing the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. 

Fort Lauderdale is a boating capital in the US. You won't believe how expensive some of these yachts are.... millions and docking them each day costs around $7 per foot. Keep in mind these boats are 300 feet or longer. Therefore, at minimum to park a boat is $2,100 a day. Not for the average person. 
Where was everyone? ON THE WATER!!! Totally different kind of December than most of us face in the North East!!! Hard to believe it was in the 80's on Christmas. 
Can you see this boat that looks like a tiki hut? Literally it was a floating bar!
Stranahan House is the home of Fort Lauderdale pioneers Frank and Ivy Stranahan. Built in 1901 as a trading post and converted into a residence for the Stranahans in 1906, the house is the oldest surviving structure in Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale also has a White House! The White House is an 11-bedroom mansion built in 1938 and lived in for years by the man who made his fortune selling air-conditioning assemblies to car makers. It was listed for $35 million, but then was marked down to $28 million. If you do buy it, prepare to pay more than $600,000 a year just in property taxes.



Wayne Huizenga's (American businessman and entrepreneur. He has been involved in the founding of three Fortune 500 corporations and is responsible for six New York Stock Exchange listed companies.) $15 million estate, is the only home on the New River with three waterfalls and a bell tower.



Can you believe this house was sold for $100 million? It kind of boggles the mind. Meanwhile, as a house owner here, you have boats staring into your backyard and skyscrapers hanging over you. 





A typical yacht that we passed!