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: 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 24, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was visiting my parents in Los Angeles, and together we all journeyed to San Diego to visit Legoland. As you can see Mattie and Peter went on rides together. Thankfully Peter likes motion and rides, because if Mattie were relying on me to take him, it would never have happened. I do much better with both feet on the ground, and was very happy to capture these moments on camera!

Quote of the day: Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great makes you feel that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain

How do you like this for a backdrop? This is the beauty of Simi Valley, which is where we drove today to see a very special Titanic exhibit. As my loyal readers know, I am fascinated by the Titanic and intrigued with the notion that people thought they could build an unsinkable ship. However, what I most appreciate about Titanic exhibits is learning about the lives of those aboard that ship on that ill-fated voyage. Today's exhibit was about a 45 minute drive from Los Angeles. 

My mom snapped a photo of my dad and me. 

This is how the exhibit greeted you! Frankly I had no idea we were going to learn about the history of how the Titanic was discovered on the sea floor in the 1980s, but it helped to understand the excitement and courage it took to find this massive ship (missing since 1912).  

This placard says..... The world was stunned with Dr. Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Jean-Louis Michel of the French Research Institute of Exploitation of the Sea discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 1985, not knowing Ballard's search for the Titanic was a cover story for a top-secret Navy mission to investigate the wrecks of two nuclear submarines: the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion. 

Ballard met with the Navy in 1982 about funding his new deep water imaging technology, Argo. Admiral Thunman was not interested in the Titanic, but wanted to re-examine the wrecks of the subs. If there was time and money left over, Ballad could do what he liked. 

Argo's first test in 1984, was at the site where Thresher sank. The heavy nuclear reactor had sunk first. With Argos, Ballard was able to see smallest pieces of debris, strewn over a mile. In September of 1985, Ballard mapped Scorpion's final site, similar to Thresher's where the imploded sub was at the end of the debris field, though Scorpion was in two pieces. He realized that currents carried the lighter pieces farther away as they fell.  

Armed with this new found knowledge, he discovered Titanic in 9 days. Because the mission was classified, he could not explain why he had changed tactics to look for the debris field instead of the wreck itself. Admiral Thunman and then Secretary of the Navy John Lehman were notified that a false mission ended up a true success. 

This photo simulates the debris field Dr. Ballard and his team saw on route to finding the Titanic. 

“Alvin” – the titanium submersible sphere that brought Dr. Bob Ballard down to the wreckage of Titanic; the first such submersible to do so. Can you imagine riding in this for 8 hours to the bottom of the ocean floor to explore the wreckage?
A replica of the Titanic on the bottom of the ocean. Created for James Cameron's film.
This remote controlled vehicle was called "snoop dog." Used by James Cameron and his team to capture photos and documentation of what the inside decks of the Titanic looked like. 

James Cameron was quoted as saying.....The tragedy has assumed an almost mythic quality in our collective imagination, but the passage of time has robbed it of its human face - I wanted the audience to cry for Titanic. Which means to cry for the people on the ship.
The exhibit featured the amazing research James Cameron conducted to obtain as much information about the Titanic as possible, in order to direct the movie, Titanic. Movie sets, props and costumes from the blockbuster movie included Rose's suite and Jack's third class cabin. James Cameron spared no expenses at re-creating these sets and as well as also created a life sized model of the Titanic in Mexico to film the movie on location. This is Jack's (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) cabin in the movie, but it was based on an actual third class cabin on the Titanic. 

I can't imagine that James Cameron had the main stairwell and a great deal of the ship re-created. Using high end materials. The movie wasn't simulating the ship using computers, but instead it created a real life model to make this as authentic and realistic as possible. In fact hundreds of actors for this movie were taught about life in the early 1900's, so that their mannerisms, how they walked and socialized would appropriately capture this by-gone era. 

This was Rose's cabin in the movie. This first class cabin was based on the depiction of the Straus cabin aboard the Titanic. A cabin used by the Mr. and Mrs. Straus, owners of Macy's department store. It was supposed to be very lavish and the most expensive cabin on the ship. Equivalent to us paying $75,000 today. In fact, they tell us that Macy's closed its doors for a week in 1912, to mourn the loss of its owners. 

A replica of one of the 16 lifeboats aboard Titanic. This boat was recreated for the movie. Though just a model, James Cameron's work truly brought the Titanic alive for the world by creating these realistic structures. 
A deck chair from the Titanic, one of only eight known to exist. The rest of the chairs were thrown in the ocean, as people jumped from the ship and hoped to use the chairs as flotation devices. People didn't die from drowning in the North Atlantic, but from hypothermia. 

A deck chair on the Carpathia. The ship that came from over 50 miles away to rescue survivors of the Titanic. These deck chairs were nicknamed the "widow makers" for the Titanic passengers, many now widowed, who rested on them during the voyage back to NY. While some originally hoped their husbands were coming on later lifeboats, or were picked up by another ship, it quickly became clear that Carpathia held all of the survivors. This is the ONLY known deck chair from the Carpathia. 

Found in 1985 during President Reagan’s administration, the Titanic quickly became a dive site for many different companies and explorers trying to get a piece of her history.  To protect the historic site and preserve it for generations, President Reagan issued the 1986 RMS Titanic Memorial Act to designate the wreck as an international maritime memorial.

None of the artifacts displayed in this exhibition were salvaged from the wreck itself – a sacred final resting place. The exhibit had an entire room dedicated to the known survivors of the Titanic, and highlighted some of the artifacts these families loaned to the museum for display.

This was Wallace Hartley. Only in his 30's and was the bandleader and violinist aboard Titanic. Apparently to land such a job on the Titanic, one had to be very talented and well credentialed. Hartley and the other 7 musicians aboard the Titanic played music as the ship was sinking to try to bring peace and comfort to those on board. He and the other musicians went down with the ship, but they felt they had a mission greater than their own survival. 

This was Edith Rosenbaum Russell. She was 32 years old and a correspondent for Women's Wear Daily. She was returning to the US from Paris with 19 trunks, filled with clothing. She also brought with her a music box in the shape of a pig, which her mother had given her as a mascot after she survived a car wreak that killed her fiance. After she refused to make the leap into a lifeboat over a 14 story drop, a sailor grabbed the pig and threw it into the boat, mistakenly saying.... well if you don't want to be saved, I'll save your baby. Taking it as a sign from her mother, she agreed to go. Years later, she visited the set of the film, A Night to Remember, with her pig and spoke with the actress that played her. 

This was Charles Lightoller. He was the second officer who gave the order "women and children first." He was the last Titanic survivor to board the Carpathia and the highest ranking officer to survive the sinking. 
This was Edwina Troutt. She was 27 years old and visiting family in England when she was returning to Massachusetts on a second class ticket. She was saved in a Collapsible D (which sounded like a canvas life boat if you can believe it) carrying a baby with her. Due to the 'woman and children only' rule, the baby's male relative could not board a lifeboat. Edwina took the infant with her, and he was later reunited with his mother. Edwina lived to 100 years old and received birthday letters from Presidents Nixon and Reagan. 
This was John Gill. He was 24 years old and married Sarah. Two months later, he sailed on the Titanic to create a home for his bride in the USA. He died in the sinking. His body was recovered by the crew of the CS Mackay-Bennett (a ship assigned to comb through the wreckage for survivors). He was assigned body number 155 (can you imagine this?"??"!) and was buried at sea! After his possessions were sent to his widow she placed them in a drawer and DID NOT speak a word for 20 years. 

I'm sure that sounds odd or profound, but I get it!
This was Harold Cottam. He was 21 years old and was the wireless operator on the Carpathia. He was the one who roused the captain of the Carpathia and pleaded to go to the Titanic's aid. He worked for hours to transmit the names of the rescued passenger. He was hailed as a hero after the disaster and even received a visit from Marconi himself, the inventor of the Marconi wireless.  

This was the captain of the Titanic. He did go down with the ship, but his quote about his abilities and the strength of the vessels he sailed were almost testing fate....

I never saw a wreck and have never been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort. I will say that I can not imagine any condition which could cause a ship to founder. I can not conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that. 

How the tragedy of the Titanic changed the world:

  1. Lifeboat regulations now require a seat for every person.
  2. Wireless stations are manned 24 hours a day so that messages would not go unheeded when operators slept (which is what happened with the Titanic, there was a ship only 15 miles away from the Titanic that fateful night, yet because wireless operators were sleeping, the SOS call was NEVER received). 
  3. 'Winter shipping lanes were moved farther south and the International Ice Patrol was established.
  4. Many survivors experienced trauma that haunted them their entire lives, suffering from what we now know as PTSD, and at least ten survivors committed suicide. More than 40 babies were born after the Titanic tragedy, most of whom never knew their father. 

The exhibit ended with this wall sized display of the names of all 1,503 passengers and crew who died aboard the Titanic. A tragedy never to be forgotten, so much so that over a century later people like myself are moved, intrigued, and want to know more about the ship and its people. 

August 22, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 -- Mattie died 414 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was three years old and we took him to Legoland in San Diego. I think Legoland was one of Mattie's favorite theme parks. Mattie LOVED to build and create with Legos, from a very early age. So a whole park geared toward the Lego affectionato was right up his alley. In fact, Mattie got a Legoland "driver's license" there. A clever item, as Legoland will sell you one right near their Lego ride-on cars. As Mattie got a little older, his next favorite thing at the park was roller coasters. Which was another thing we differed on, as I wouldn't dream of going on a roller coaster, nor have I ever been tempted to go on one either!

Quote of the day: Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. ~ Joshua J. Marine

While we were away, Sunny sent to Dogtopia for boarding. This was Sunny's fourth time staying at this facility and I have to imagine each time he goes, he is getting accustomed to the process. But more importantly understands that at some point we are coming back. 

There are many things I like about Dogtopia. First of which is it is a very clean facility. This is very important given the number of animals visiting the rooms daily. In addition, the facility makes sure that dogs visiting or boarding are up to date on all their vaccines and care. To me this is equally important to assure Sunny's health. But I love how the staff text messages me updates daily about Sunny and when I am in doubt, I can just look at their webcam remotely to see how Sunny is doing for myself. 

I can always tell how comfortable Sunny is by his lying down position. When anxious, Sunny doesn't rest or lie down. But you can see him in this photo relaxing on a cot!

Of course Sunny never passes up the opportunity to interact with a human. When the human leader in the room stopped doing chores and sat down, he hopped off the cot and made a B-line over for attention. That's my Sunny! 
This morning Peter went to pick Sunny up from Dogtopia. Look at this happy puppy in the car! You can just tell he was excited to be back in the car!  

Compare the photo above to this photo I took of Sunny on September 2, 2016. This was the day we picked Sunny up from foster care. Look at how sad, anxious, and thin he looked! It is hard to believe that in almost two weeks time, we will have owned Sunny a full year. 
Sunny is home and has taken a seat in the kitchen! I have no doubt he was looking for me and curious to know when the special treats and snacks will be showing up! So happy Sunny got a good report card from Dogtopia and is back home. Yes I know I haven't mentioned Indie!!! 

Indie is truly a very easy going gal! The vet's office loves her, gives her freedom from her cage while boarding, and frankly is a different temperament from Sunny! She is flexible, adaptable, and not an anxious type. So I really do not worry about her as much. Though I was happy to hear the good feedback Peter received about her from the vet at pick up today. 

August 21, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. We took Mattie to Los Angeles to visit my parents and together we all traveled to San Diego to see the sights. In all reality, it did not matter where we took Mattie, because each day was an adventure. It was just how he viewed and interacted with the world that made him so curious, engaging, challenging, and as a result never boring to be around. 

Quote of the day: Every noble work is at first impossible. ~ Thomas Carlyle

Last night, Peter and I took my parents out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary which was on August 14th. When all four of us get together, it is a good reason to celebrate. The beauty of Bistro Gardens, is it is a lovely, soothing, and elegant garden atmosphere to have dinner. 

Peter few back to Washington, DC today. On the way to the airport, he text messaged me that I could see the solar eclipse happening today! I figured we would see NOTHING in Los Angeles. Though we did not get complete darkness from the totality, it was clear something was happening. With Peter's text, I went outside my parent's house and looked up into the sky. YES I know, not what I was supposed to do. But I really looked at the sun through my phone and only stayed out a short period of time. Actually at first I thought the sky was just hazy or smoggy. But upon closer examination, it did seem odd. Because it looked more like dusk out than morning. Given how far up in the sky the sun was, the dim lighting didn't make sense. Well that until you factor in the eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness.

Again, from the front yard I could see that part of the sky was indeed darker (right upper hand corner). The previous time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was June 8, 1918; not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. The path of totality touched 14 states today, although a partial eclipse was visible in all 50 states. 

Below are the photos NASA captured today.......The Sun disappeared, seemingly swallowed by our Moon–at least for a while. This series of images shows the progression of a partial solar eclipse near Banner, Wyoming.
I can't imagine seeing this sight, nor can I comprehend how frightening this must have been for people to see in the past. Prior to understanding the phenomenon of an eclipse, I would imagine people thought the world was ending. 
Though this looks like a crescent moon, this orange orb is actually the sun being obscured by the moon. This takes Mattie Moon to a whole other level!
I know several people who chased the eclipse today and wanted their children to experience this incredible act of nature. All I know is if Mattie were alive, Peter and and Mattie would have joined in this phenomenon. It is funny how even an incredible act of nature can bring about sadness to us. Sadness which Peter verbalized. I absorbed what he was saying, but while going through something, I typically have NO reaction and NO response. Not sure if it is safer this way, or simply the best way I know to protect myself. Nonetheless I did hear Peter and I know he wished things were different for us. Without Mattie in our lives, it does alter the activities we do or don't do, and our willingness to engage in the world. All I know is whether ever Mattie is, I have no DOUBT he watched his Mattie Moon transform our daytime sky! 

August 20, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was inside one of his favorite museums, the George C. Page Museum. This museum is in Los Angeles and it features amazing specimens of dinosaurs excavated from the tar pits right outside the museum. Mattie really grew up with this museum, and never got tired of visiting it and learning about how these prehistoric animals got trapped in the tar pits or observing researchers digging through one of the tar pits under exploration. 

Quote of the day: Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~ Thomas Edison

We left this beautiful site today! The last time I visited Palm Springs, I was a teenager. It is amazing how different times in your life enable you to see places in different ways. I loved the beauty of Palm Springs and though Los Angeles has mountains too, the terrain in Palm Springs is quite different and you can get so close to the mountains. You almost feel like a part of them. 

 This is a typical street you drive down in Palm Springs. The stark contrast of the palm trees against the mountains is incredible. 
This was the hotel the conference was held at! Notice how the hotel is surrounded by mountains. 
The lobby in the hotel had this lighted floor display. Literally it would change colors throughout the day. Mattie would have gotten a total kick out of this!
If you haven't figured this out, I was enamored by the mountains. 

Thankfully we got back to Los Angeles today safely. However, when we returned home we went out for a bit and I noticed the car next to us trying to get my attention. Since the light was green there wasn't anything I could do about this, other than when we parked I got out to examine the car. What he was trying to tell us was that the car had a flat tire! What a good samaritan. So happy it did not happen on the highway in 110 heat! 

This evening, Peter and I are taking my parents to Bistro Gardens to celebrate their anniversary. It is a special restaurant that we try to visit on special occasions!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2005. Mattie was three years old and we took him to the George C. Page Museum. One of Mattie's favorite places to visit, because it featured dinosaurs and tar pits. The LA tar pits are right outside the museum, and many of the specimens found in the museum were retrieved from these tar pits. As you can see in this photo, I wanted Mattie to pose for a photo! This was not something he really wanted to do at that moment since he was focused on getting to the tar pits ahead!!!

Quote of the day: The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

In the hallways around the hotel, there were these flip flop stickers on the floors. Basically to direct you to the conference center. Quite clever and perfect for the heat of Palm Springs. 
My mom snapped this photo of Peter and me outside the room where the Town Hall was held this morning. We have participated in other organizations' town halls in the past. But this conference had a completely different format than we are accustomed to! In this town hall, the goal was to get the audience to dialogue about the topic and even cross talk with each other. So the presenters are not presenting anything, but instead serving as guides and moderators of the audience.

After the Town Hall, my mom captured this photo. 

From left to right:
Vicki, Diane (nurse from University of Maryland), Kathy (nurse from Azusa Pacific, California and President of APHON), Kathy (nurse researcher at National Children's Medical Center, Washington, DC), and Peter

After our Town Hall, we drove about five minutes to Downtown Palm Springs. This is what Palm Canyon Drive looks like, which is the main street of the town. 
We had a lovely lunch at Zin American Bistro and you need to understand that it was about 115 degrees outside. How we were able to sit outside was that all the shops and restaurants have misters. Literally a fine mist of water streams down and then they have fans blowing things about. It is an amazing form of air conditioning. Behind my dad and Peter, if you see something hazy, I am trying to show you the misting water trailing down from the ceiling!

Later in the day, we took a Legends and Icons tour. This is bus tour with a private guide. Annette was our tour guide and she spoke to us for about two hours. We learned all sorts of fascinating facts about Palm Springs. The first of which is that the largest land holder in Palm Springs are the Native Americans. 
Archaeological research has shown that the Cahuilla people lived in the area for the past 350–500 years. The Cahuilla name for Palm Springs was "Se-Khi" (boiling water). When the Agua Caliente Reservation was established by the United States government in 1896, the reservation land was composed of alternating sections (640 acres) of land laid out across the desert in a checkerboard pattern. The alternating non-reservation sections were granted to the Southern Pacific Railroad as an incentive to bring rail lines through the open desert.

Presently the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is composed of several smaller bands. The Agua Caliente Reservation occupies 32,000 acres, of which 6,700 acres lie within the city limits, making the Agua Caliente band the city's largest landowner. Tribal enrollment is currently estimated at between 296 and 365 people.

Annette told us that Palm Springs as we know it today did not exist. In fact there was instead a body of water where the land now exists. However, since Palm Springs lies over about four different fault lines, an earthquake caused the rising of rocks forming mountains and as a result big boulders can be found all over the area from this initial earthquake. Believe it or not, these boulders are protected by the government, and if you should move one of these boulders you will need a permit and permission. Otherwise be prepared to receive significant fines.  

We saw over 50 homes today that once belongs to Hollywood stars. In fact this movie community started in the 1930s. Stars back then, if they went on vacation, were not allowed to go further than 150 miles away from the studios. Because they needed to be available on call to either reshoot scenes, or start another picture. Which was one of the reasons Palm Springs became the vacationing spot of the Hollywood elite. It was a hair short of 150 miles away from Los Angeles. What stunned me however was that many of these once famous homes have new owners. But many of them do not actually live in these homes. They only come to visit during holiday seasons and certainly NOT in the summer. Yet they will rent out their home to you for $3,000 a night, with a minimum of a three night stay! So picture streets and streets of literally abandoned homes. All well maintained and manicured, but NO tenants. It is almost down right eerie, and unfortunately because of the state of these neighborhoods, many homeless people tend to break in looking for a nice spot to live. What saddens me about going through this once vibrant movie community is that it makes you feel like you are driving through the land that time forgot. Even Annette mentioned that millennials who tour with her, have NO IDEA about the stars she is talking about from the 1930s. So the question I am left with is.... how long can this area be preserved? If people don't know about these stars, if we can't actually tour inside the homes and experience the lives of these bygone era stars, how on earth can such a culture be preserved?

One of the homes we drove passed belongs to Ken Irwin, jr. Since he was a child, Irwin has built giant sculptures of the creatures and places that fill his mind at his father's two-acre home, just around the corner from Frank Sinatra's old estate. To learn more about Irwin, go to this article:

Irwin even transforms his home at Christmas time by lighting up his creations in the yard. Apparently he lets people onto the property to see the lights in December. 

This was Frank Sinatra's home!

In Sinatra's backyard, he had a pool. When the light of the afternoon hit the back of his home, the shadows made it look like a piano, with its keys. Yes this was constructed like this on purpose.

This was Betty Davis's home! In fact she had TWO in Palm Springs. One which she used more regularly than the other. This was the regularly used house. The other house she bought was directly on top of Joan Crawford's house. Meaning that Betty Davis always wanted to prove to Joan Crawford that she was ON TOP (ie, the better star). 
This home belonged to Dean Martin.

This is Carol Burnett's home and apparently still lives here. 

This evening we drove to Palm Desert, which is about 25 minutes away from Palm Springs. We had dinner at Mamma Gina. Which concludes our three night stay in Palm Springs. It was a lovely culinary experience and the beauty of the mountains made it worth the visit.