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

July 8, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old and was visiting Peter's parents in Boston for Thanksgiving. As you can see Mattie was with me by the fireplace. Of course Mattie was always under supervision, but I also understood at an early age that Mattie understood about the need to be cautious. That was something I really did not need to remind Mattie about, I just needed to explain the dangers of something once, and he seemed to get it right away! 


Quote of the day: A man's immortality can be found in his children. ~ Patricia Briggs



I realize I did not post as many photos of Sunny and Indie while we were visiting Boston. This is a photo Peter took of Sunny while walking in the woods behind his childhood home. This is a path we took often with Mattie, and I have no doubt Mattie would have enjoyed walking Sunny. 
We gave Sunny a long leash to explore around in Peter's parents backyard. Given that we are still getting to know Sunny, he was under constant supervision when outside. But he was a very good boy and understood right away the limits of his leash. Sunny was enthralled with the sight of squirrels and chipmunks. Those were his favorites! 

Sunny got a ton of outdoor time, which he loved. Ironically Sunny won't sit on our deck in DC. But it makes sense, since Sunny needs a deck with a view! Sunny has an active mind and loves to observe and chase anything that scurries. 
Meanwhile, Indie got around the house and was exploring. When she was brave enough to come downstairs, this was her favorite perch! Another animal of ours that loves a view!

As of today, we have officially had Indie for ONE YEAR!!!
At night time, Indie slept on our bed. Don't you love how she thinks a TV remote is a toy?!
Though Peter's parents live in the suburbs of Boston, they have daily visitations by wild turkeys in their backyard. Two males and one female. Given that they have been coming by for almost two years, each of the turkeys have a name. 
Can you see the turkey by our car?!
We were in the car 8 1/2 hours today! That may sound long, but it beat the 10 1/2 hour trip last Saturday to Boston. One of the most challenging parts of the trip is usually Connecticut! Always bumper to bumper traffic!
The beautiful George Washington Bridge!
Traffic going over the bridge. But overall New York and New Jersey were smooth sailing. Unlike Connecticut and Maryland. We are all settling into being back home tonight. 

July 7, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was in Boston visiting Peter's parents. He was about a year and a half old. As you can see we were sitting before a pond, and at the pond were all sorts of birds, including ducks. Mattie loved to visit the pond to feed the ducks. Naturally we came with a bag full of bread. Which made it a wonderful outing for Mattie. 


Quote of the day: The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults. ~ Peter De Vries


It was pouring today, which is NOT my favorite weather. But we escaped the rain and dampness and headed to Mahoney's. An amazing garden center. 

Paul Mahoney opened the first Mahoney’s Garden Center in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1959. Today we remain a family-run home and garden center with eight retail locations in Winchester, Tewksbury, Wayland, Concord, Brighton, Falmouth, Osterville and Chelmsford, and a growing facility in Woburn. As a full-service garden center, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality and largest selection of garden plants, gardening products, and gardening services. We offer top-quality plants and supplies to satisfy the needs of home gardeners and landscape professionals.

There are incredibly large, well organized and enticing greenhouses to browse through for hours. Everyone working at Mahoney's is service oriented and seems to love what they are doing. 

Isn't this a lovely sight on a rainy day?
 Peter browsing the rows!
We are actually taking home a sunflower plant and jasmine. We have never grown either, so we shall see how this works. I am in LOVE with sunflowers, as they symbolize love, community, and support to me. Why? Because when Mattie was battling cancer, our support community would always deliver me a bundle of sunflowers. You would be amazed how these glorious yellow faced flowers can brighten a horrible day. 
There is a great expanse of outdoor flowers, trees, and bushes on display at Mahoney's! Despite the rain, we meandered around the spaces outdoors and indoors. 

















I have never seen a hibiscus like this. The flower literally was a rainbow of colors. 

In addition to selling plants, they also sell fresh cut flowers. Flowers you can use to create your own displays, or they will create displays for you. 

I photographed two small arrangements they made. What caught my attention was the price. This small arrangement is $45. But keep in mind this arrangement is minuscule. 
This other small arrangement was $60. Why I find this so entertaining is that I create flower arrangements all of the time! My arrangements are large to extra large. I truly believe if I sold my arrangements at Mahoney's the price tag would be several hundred dollars. 

It is our last day in Boston. We drive back tomorrow morning, and I hope that the trip back is easier than the trip here (which was 10 1/2 hours long). 

July 6, 2017

Thursday, June 6, 2017

Thursday, June 6, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was visiting Peter's parents in Boston and they surprised him with an Elmo toy. This Elmo was battery powered and could move and talk. This toy intrigued Mattie to no end. Check out Mattie's expression after I turned on his Elmo toy! PRICELESS!


Quote of the day: I can think of few better ways to introduce a child to books than to let her stack them, upend them, rearrange them, and get her fingerprints all over them. ~ Anne Fadiman



We ventured to Garden in the Woods in Framingham today! This is two miles of paths that meander over glacier-sculpted ridges and through narrow valleys. A pond, a wooded bog, several springs, and a brook bring a diversity of wildlife into the garden. The Garden in the Woods was founded in 1931, when Will C. Curtis purchased 30 acres in north Framingham, and began to create a botanical garden on the site. When Curtis died in 1965, the land and gardens were deeded to the New England Wild Flower Society. 


This is the plaque that stands by the entrance of the Garden. A sentiment by Curtis himself says.........

Garden in the woods is a dream in the realization. A years long dream about a big wild garden and finding out why wild flowers will grow here and not there. It is a tract of beautiful woodland and meadow only 19 miles from Boston where I am bringing together all the wild flowers and ferns hardy in this latitude and establishing them in natural environments where they can easily be reached and enjoyed by the interested public. In other words it is a wild flower sanctuary in which wild plants will be grown, their likes and dislikes discovered and the knowledge so gained eventually passed on in an effort to curb the wholesale destruction of our most beautiful natives. This is to be my contribution to conservation. ~ Will Curtis (1934) 

The Garden is the largest landscaped collection of wildflowers in New England, containing over 1,700 kinds of plants representing about 1,000 species, including over 200 rare and endangered native species, all nestled within a mature oak forest on glacial terrain of rolling hills, ponds, and streams that provide a variety of microhabitats.


This is a beautiful Trumpet Honeysuckle which greeted us as we entered. 



This was an Indian Pink flower. Something I have never seen before. 


This is a Turk's Cap Lily. If you look closely the yellow flower does indeed look like a Turkish hat. 
A pathway in the woods. The walk we took today was about a mile long.
The charming pond in the Gardens, filled with adorable turtles. A Mattie favorite!
A close up of the turtles! Can you see the baby turtle at the six o'clock position located near the round stone on the right?
Glorious honeysuckle..... and what an amazing fragrance that greeted us along the pathway. 
One of my favorites..... milkweed. A wildflower that attracts butterflies, especially monarch butterflies. 
This is a black eyed coneflower. Another one of my favorites, as it reminds me of sunflowers! 
The only Prickly Pear in the Garden, which maybe why it immediately caught your attention. 
Within the Gardens was a family activity center. I captured a photo of their maze, constructed out of leaves. I actually walked the maze, despite being an adult. I can assure you if Mattie were with us, he would have wanted to walk the maze with me. 
I snapped this photo to capture the woods all around us. 
Later this afternoon, we walked Sunny. Along our Walk, we came across three bunnies in the wild. 
This bunny is a little blurry, but nonetheless a cutie. A cutie which definitely attracted Sunny's attention. 
Can you see this regal bunny sitting on the lawn?

July 5, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was visiting Peter's parents in Boston and as you can see was playing with his cars on the windowsill. Mattie was about a year and a half old here and one thing I realized early on was Mattie loved anything with wheels on it or had locomotion. This wasn't something that I nurtured or directed Mattie to, it was his natural inclination. Which meant that I had to get UP TO SPEED on all the different types of vehicles and how each one was used. 



Quote of the day: There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter and noise. ~ Brian Andreas


Today we drove to Harvard, Massachusetts. Which is about 50 minutes from where Peter's family lives. We had the opportunity to tour the Fruitlands Museum. Which is not just a museum, but instead a walk through time, in which you got a feeling for what life was like as a Shaker. Shaker actually stands for the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. This religious movement was established in England around 1750 and emphasized living simply in celibate mixed communities. However, the more I read and heard about this community at Fruitlands, the more I felt like in today's terms we would deem it a cult.   

I am sure visitors come away from Fruitlands with many different thoughts and impressions. Of course what interested me the most was the thinking that prevailed within this community and how it impacted individuals and families. 


Fruitlands was inspired by Transcendentalism and Amos Bronson Alcott's (father of Louisa May Alcott--who was the author of Little Women) ideas of societal reform. It was established on 90 acres purchased by Charles Lane in May 1843. People interested in joining the community began moving in the next month and the site was optimistically named "Fruitlands" despite having only a small cluster of apple trees. The community was based on self-sufficiency, using no hired labor and growing all the food they needed themselves. The community ultimately failed because of the difficulty in growing crops. Community members began moving away as early as October 1843. Lane and Alcott abandoned it in January 1844. So keep in mind the Alcotts lived here ONLY 7 months. When you see the conditions they lived under, you would say that seven months was a lifetime.


In 1910, the property was purchased by Clara Endicott Sears, who opened the farmhouse to the public in 1914 as a museum. In addition to the Fruitlands building, the site includes a transplanted Shaker house from the nearby Harvard Shaker Village, Native American artifacts and Hudson River School paintings. The museum is primarily the result of the efforts of Sears. The heiress of the Sears fortune, who never married (by choice to preserve her wealth).

Back when Lane and Alcott families lived in Fruitlands, the residents began their days with a purging cold-water shower and subsisted on a simple diet containing no stimulants or animal products. They were vegans, excluding even milk and honey from their diets. “Neither coffee, tea, molasses, nor rice tempts us beyond the bounds of indigenous production,” Lane wrote. “No animal substances neither flesh, butter, cheese, eggs, nor milk pollute our tables, nor corrupt our bodies.” Diet was usually fruit and water; many vegetables—including carrots, beets, and potatoes—were forbidden because they showed a lower nature by growing downward.


Fruitlands members wore only linen clothes and canvas shoes; cotton fabric was forbidden because it exploited slave labor and wool was banned because it came from sheep. Bronson Alcott and Lane believed that animals should not be exploited for their meat or their labor, so they used no animals for farming. This arose out of two beliefs: that animals were less intelligent than humans and that, therefore, it was the duty of humans to protect them; and that using animals "tainted" their work and food, since animals were not enlightened and therefore unclean. Eventually, as the winter was coming, Alcott and Lane compromised and allowed an ox and a cow.





Amos Bronson Alcott, a teacher and member of the New England Non-Resistance Society, came up with the idea of Fruitlands in 1841. He traveled to England the following year, where he hoped to find support and people to participate with him in the experiment. England was home to his strongest group of supporters, a group of educators who had founded the Alcott House, a school based on his philosophy of teaching. One of his supporters was Charles Lane, who journeyed with him to the United States in 1842.

In May 1843, Lane purchased the 90-acre Wyman Farm in Harvard, Massachusetts for $1800. Though Alcott had come up with the idea of Fruitlands himself, he was not involved in purchasing the land, largely because he was penniless after the failure of his Temple School and his subsequent years in Concord, Massachusetts as a farmer. In July, Alcott announced their plans in The Dial: "We have made an arrangement with the proprietor of an estate of about a hundred acres, which liberates this tract from human ownership." They had officially moved to the farm on June 1 and optimistically named it "Fruitlands" despite only ten old apple trees on the property.

The commune attracted 14 residents, including the Alcott and Lane families. By July, the community had succeeded in planting 8 acres of grains, one of vegetables, and one of melons. Fruitlands ultimately failed the winter after it opened, largely due to food shortages and accompanying unrest in the inhabitants. The rigors of a New England winter proved too severe for the members of the Fruitlands.

Fruitlands residents, who called themselves "the consociate family," wished to separate themselves from the world economy by refraining from trade, having no personal property, and not using hired labor. Alcott and Lane believed that the community could achieve complete freedom only by eliminating economic activity altogether. Alcott in particular believed the present economy was evil. To this end, they strove towards self-sufficiency by planning on growing all the food they would need themselves and making only the goods they needed. By accomplishing these two goals, they would eliminate the need to participate in trade or to purchase their food from the outside world. Initially, Bronson Alcott and Lane modeled their ideas about personal property off the Shakers, who held property communally. However, the Shakers were not completely self-sufficient; they traded their hand-made goods for coffee, tea, meat and milk. Bronson Alcott and Lane eliminated the need to trade for these supplies because they eliminated animal products and stimulants from their diets entirely. In the end, the Fruitlands community had no effect on the economy of the outside world. Fruitlands allowed its residents to practice their ideals without forcing them to effect any real change.



This is what a private chamber looked like. It included very simple furnishings: a single bed, night stand, dresser and a small writing table. The cradle on the left was for ADULTS. Typically for the "old and infirm." Not sure about you, but if I was sick, this would be the last place I would want to be. It looks like a moving coffin!


Most of us when we think of 'shaker,' we think of furniture or a style. But it was much more than that. It was a spiritual philosophy, that basically felt that through hard physical labor, communal living and celibacy, you can live as God wanted you to. 

I am not sure what one would like to focus on first with a visit to Fruitlands. Naturally the buildings, the Shaker culture, and its once inhabitants. As I mentioned earlier is what intrigued me the most was the effect of this lifestyle on its inhabitants. This placard on the Alcott women maybe one of the best things on display within the farmhouse. Here are a couple of statements from this placard. It states........................

Mrs. Alcott found her life here to be exhausting... being responsible for the food preparation and all housework. Anna and Louisa (the older daughters) helped by doing household chores and farm work when needed. 

Mr. Alcott and Charles Lane often left at inopportune times, in terms of tending to crops, so Mrs. Alcott and the girls stepped in to help hay or to bring in the cut barley left lying on the ground. 

To encourage communication, Mrs. Alcott created the 'post office---" a basket in which family members could send each other notes throughout the day. It gave everyone the daily opportunity to have a 'pleasant way of healing all differences and discontents" as well as sharing notes of love and encouragement.

In December 1843, Louise and her sisters were aware of the turmoil in the household with Charles Lane urging Mr. Alcott to split from his family. As he preached celibacy. Mrs. Alcott had enough after 7 months and moved out of Fruitlands and took her girls. Mr. Alcott had to decide to stay or leave. He stayed initially, but then left after Fruitlands was a failure. 


After touring around the numerous buildings within this complex, we ate at their cafe. This is the cafe dressed up for a wedding, but you get the feeling for the spectacular views!

July 4, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 --- Mattie died 407 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2003. We took Mattie to Boston to visit Peter's parents. That day we met up with one of my friends who has a child around Mattie's age. This indoor playground had all sorts of things from a ball pit to miniature golf. As Peter was trying to show Mattie the art of golfing, check out what caught Mattie's attention. Not the club or the ball, but the hole on the turf. Mattie always thought outside the box and as such made me see and think about things in so many different ways. 
 

Quote of the day: We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open. ~ Harry Edwards



We had the opportunity to meet several of Peter's parents friends today, as they invited all of us to have a dinner together at one of their homes in Andover, Massachusetts. 

One thing is for certain, Mattie did not like fireworks. I remember the first time taking him to watch the National fireworks. Mattie was overwhelmed by the intense sound. Fortunately we did not have very far to go to see the display. Literally we could walk outside our complex, stand on the sidewalk, and before us would be an incredible firework display. Naturally over time Mattie grew to love and appreciate the amazing fireworks that were literally in his backyard. This was one of the perks of living in DC, to have easy access to our Nation's fourth!


This evening, we took Sunny on a walk. I got the notion to snap photos of houses in the neighborhood that we passed which featured the American flag in honor of Independence Day. 

You can see the big flag on display at Peter's family home. 


 The parade of flags begins. 
Love the buntings and the flag. 
It is lovely to see the stars and stripes displayed proudly on so many houses. 
Do you see the flag on the left? I know your eye is probably drawn to the big beech tree on the right. 
 An absolutely HUGE flag!
 Another wonderful flag.
There were several smaller flags being displayed on the planters on the wrap around porch. 
Here is a bunny that we came across on our Walk. Needless to say, this was a sighting that made Sunny jazzy! 
Another beauty!





















The tenth house I captured to display tonight!