MATTIE MIRACLE VIRTUAL WALK WAS AN $110,000 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

December 16, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken on December 5, 2002. It was the first snowfall of the season, but what made it so noteworthy was that Mattie was 8 months old and this was the FIRST time he saw snow. Literally we opened the front door and Mattie moved toward it with his "tot wheels." Mattie's preferred mode of transportation. Mattie was fascinated by the white stuff and seeing the snow actually inspired us to dress Mattie up in a Santa suit and snap photos of him on the deck. These photos generated our first family holiday card.





Quote of the day: I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. Charles Dickens



Despite paying for a direct flight to Ft. Lauderdale, American Airlines had something different planned. They cancelled our flight and directed us on a flight with a stop over in Charlotte, NC. So this is what Charlotte looked like today on our descent. 
When we exited the plane, an airport employee basically said.... welcome to Charlotte, to all the passengers. I was stunned! I can't imagine anyone doing this in DC! In addition, while in the restroom, women were all wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Again, this wouldn't be happening in DC. 

The Charlotte airport has this beautiful atrium, filled with huge windows, wonderful rocking chairs, and a live pianist. He was playing Christmas carols and other wonderful pieces. 
Can you see the rockers? They are white. Getting access to a rocker is hard. They get occupied quickly. So we sat at a table, had our lunch, and got to listen to music and watch people passing by. 
I loved this sun at one of the restaurants inside the airport. Mattie would have appreciated this sighting. 
The atrium also featured this huge tree made out of poinsettias. 
Our second flight was from Charlotte to Ft. Lauderdale. I sat between Peter and a Charlotte resident. She and I struck up a conversation and we chatted for most of the 90 minute flight. I learned about her two boys, her grandchildren, and the cruise she will be taking tomorrow with her cousins. Peter is always amazed how people gravitate to me and tell me their story. I don't ask for it, it just happens. 

This was what we saw when descending into Ft. Lauderdale. If you look closely you can see big cruise ships at Port Everglades. 

My parents arrived in Ft. Lauderdale before us. So now we are all at the hotel safely. This is the view from our room. Tomorrow morning we head to the ship, which will be leaving from Miami. 
Literally from the balcony we could see cruise ships leaving Ft. Lauderdale to start their journey. It is quite a sight to see. 

December 15, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was four years old and by this point loved the whole notion of Christmas. The decorating, the gift giving, and special time with family. I think Mattie's facial expression here was priceless. Basically he was complying with my need for a photo, but wasn't pleased with having to pose or stand still! Yet he did it and I am happy I captured that fleeting moment. 



Quote of the day: Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.Maya Angelou


I think Maya Angelou captures my feelings right about now. I am very happy Peter and I are getting away tomorrow. It has been a grueling Fall. The Fall used to be a slower time for the Foundation, but not anymore. Right after Christmas, I ramp right back up to start planning the Walk. So it feels almost like a vicious cycle, of constant work, with no end in sight. This constant stress is not good for me physically or emotionally, and then adding on intense caregiving for a month, and all I can say is it has been a bad combination. 

The highlight of my day was this morning. I was running around doing chores and all I could hear were jingle bells. So I started trying to locate the sound. When I did, I found Peter in this noxious sweater. He bought it himself, so it was a total surprise to me. He wore it to ugly sweater day at work. I thought this sweater was so bad, that I snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook. Peter got over 100 likes and comments and clearly this sweater was a conversation piece. Sunny was NOT pleased with the jingling and wanted to know why Peter was making such a  sound.  

Sunny and Indie are now being boarded and our home is a totally different without them. I had no one to walk today, and no one was following me around constantly. It was an adjustment for sure but what Sunny doesn't know is I can watch him on Dogtopia's video camera, which is posted to the internet. I just love this feature, not to mention their text messages alerting me to how he is doing. Until tomorrow, when I will be writing hopefully from Southern Florida. 

December 14, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. Mattie was two years old and by that time, he understood the notion of posing for a photo! That was the first year we could take a photo of Mattie by our Christmas tree. We snapped many photos that day of Mattie in his Christmas sweater. Literally Mattie had a new sweater to feature on the front of our cards each Christmas. Though this cute photo wasn't the one that landed on our cards that year, it still was a charmer and captured Mattie's beautiful smile and sense of humor. 





Quote of the day: Every birthday celebrates a life because every life is important. ~ Richelle E. Goodrich



In 2005, I met my friend Catherine. Her daughter and Mattie were in the same preschool classroom. In fact, I have many long term friends from that very classroom. Who helped support us through Mattie's cancer and now actively help us with the Foundation.

Today I hosted a small luncheon for Catherine's birthday. Included were friends from Mattie's preschool. So it was an all preschool lunch. To make the lunch festive, I made this flower arrangement for the table. 
This was the group of us! Seated from left to right are: Dawnee, Catherine, Ann, and Jane. Standing from left to right are Vicki and Maria. 

Though this was a small gathering, to me attention to details is important. I wanted to get to the table before everyone arrived to set up flowers, place cards, and to arrange for things with the waiter. However, the restaurant's policy is they can't sit parties unless the majority of guests are present. Literally I lost it. It's a ridiculous policy especially for a person like myself who frequents this restaurant. Needless to say, I got my point across and got to the table before others arrived.

We all had a lovely lunch and the waiter brought out three different desserts for us to share. This of course was one of them!
A white chocolate bread pudding! It was delicious!
After lunch, I came home and Sunny was begging for another walk. So we went down by the Potomac River. It was freezing and windy, but with Sunny you walk in rain or shine. But check out the big bird wading by the vegetation. I have never seen a Great Blue Heron hanging out in this location. Sunny was the one who spotted the bird and I think he was ready to take on the bird!
The Great Blue up close!

December 13, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. I will NEVER forget this moment in time, and I know neither will Peter. We took Mattie to Lowe's that day, dressed in his Christmas sweater because we were determined to take photos of Mattie, so we could feature him on the front of our Christmas card. The reason we brought Mattie to Lowe's was because he liked that store, along with Home Depot and Target. Mattie needed to be engaged and looking at things in order for him to sit still, so we could take a photo. I knew Lowe's and Home Depot would have Christmas decorations up so I figured it would be a good back drop for a photo. I am sure people all around us were getting a kick out of us as we were trying to get Mattie's attention to smile. I can't tell you how many photos we snapped that day. This one tonight was priceless but wasn't the one we featured on our card. Next week, I will show you all of our Christmas card cover photos. 


Quote of the day: Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words. ~ Roy T. Bennett


I LOVE tonight's quote! Listening for "what's behind the words." How meaningful and how true.... for not everything that is communicated needs a verbal response. Or I should say a quick reply. Today, I was checking out of a store and the woman behind the counter asked what I was doing for the holidays. Typically I do not get into this kind of dialogue, but given I have interfaced with her before and I am also exhausted, I told her I was going on a cruise at the end of the week. She perked up, especially when I told her I needed a break. The 'NEEDED A BREAK,' was her trigger. 

This woman explained that she feels she is stuck doing one thing after another. Meaning one chore or task after the other, with no end in sight. She said that this constant pace of working is very dulling, tiring, and puts her in a bad mood. She did mention that she was also having trouble with her teenager at home. So the combination was bad for her. In any case, just listening to her for a few minutes, caused her to break down in tears. She feels over worked, stressed, and of course when any of us reaches such a level, an emotional reaction is bound to happen. She felt embarrassed and apologized for crying, but I told her it did not bother me, but that I was saddened she was this unhappy. 

So this whole interchange got me thinking. Would she have had this dialogue with just anyone? My guess is NOT. It happened because it is how you listen. When we listen with curiosity as tonight's quote points out, a whole different plane of conversation occurs. By asking questions, being engaged, and listening, it is amazing what you can learn and understand about people and the world around us. I related to this woman's perspective on life and the need for a change of pace. I listened and though I shared nothing about myself (other than my vacation), by the end we both felt slightly better knowing that we weren't alone in our feelings! Funny what one can get from just listening. 

December 12, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 -- Mattie died 430 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. Mattie was visiting my parents in Los Angeles for Christmas. Their house had wonderful fruit trees in the backyard and Mattie was intrigued by the oranges and grapefruits. He loved to pick them, sort them, and play with them! Hours of fun, and no toys were needed!!! Farmer Brown..... hard at work!


Quote of the day: The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. Charles de Gaulle


Once a month, Sunny goes for grooming. He has a lot of fur and though I brush him daily, it takes a lot to maintain him. I met Sunny's groomer over a year ago. She is very good with him and after she is done with him, he looks and smells wonderful!

Today while he was being groomed, she sent me this cute photo. Sunny has come a long way. When he first started getting groomed, he was deathly afraid of the wash basin and forget about the table that is used to trim his fur. He HATED it!!! Now you can see he is acclimating to the process, still doesn't like it, but looks happier than before!

Sunny's groomer isn't around the corner for me. It takes me 40 minutes each way to drive to her. Naturally I could get another groomer who is closer, but since Sunny has a good fit with her, I manage. 

December 11, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old and we celebrated Christmas that year in Los Angeles with my parents. My mom set up a baby tree for Mattie to decorate. Mattie thought it was very special to have his own tree, not to mention a tree that featured many Mattie presents!


Quote of the day: There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver. ~ Rosalyn Carter


I happen to love Rosalyn Carter's quote! I remember reading it in her 1995 book entitled, Helping Yourself, Helping Others. She wrote this book after having the perspective of being a family caregiver for her grandfather and father. Given my own family's experience with caring for my maternal grandmother after she had a stroke, I knew that I wanted to enter my doctoral program in counseling (years ago) and focus on researching this topic and gaining more experience with this special population. 

I love the Family Caregiver Alliance, a non-profit based in the DC area. I remember turning to them many times for data and input when I was writing papers for my graduate school courses. If you are interested in learning more about caregiving, the responsibilities, demographic data and challenges, go to: https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics.

For the past month, Peter and I have been caring for our neighbor who is an older adult. She had a terrible accident, in which someone walked into her very fast and plowed her over. Causing her to fracture her arm and shatter her knee. Needless to say, she needs a lot of help. Typically such help is provided by a significant other, one's children, or other family members. But what happens when none of these people are around or available? What happens is exactly what Peter and I are experiencing now! I am not sure what would have happened if we did not step in to help our neighbor. As it is, we have been doing this for a month and there is no end in sight. We just learned today that her doctor told her she will be unable to return to her normal life for another five months. 

The problem with all of this is Peter and I are doing all the caregiving, but we have absolutely no decision making authority. Which is what most family caregivers typically have, since they are providing the majority of care and have the insights into the daily happenings of the caregivee. We are unable to interface with her doctor or her therapists. This puts us at a great disadvantage because I am quite sure none of them understand how dire I view this situation. 

Caregivers on average are reported to spend 13 days each month on tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication. In one month's time, I would say we spend EVERYDAY on these tasks, not just 13 days in one month. I have to admit I am thoroughly exhausted and am having trouble getting my own work done because I am either cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping or doing laundry. 

My neighbor's situation makes me evaluate my own life. Having lost Mattie, not only effects my current life, but also my future trajectory. As we age we rely more on our children. Since I lost mine, I need to think about how Peter and I will be able to age and be taken care of. Which is why I have insisted on getting a long term care insurance policy. We are looking into it now, and the insurance agent on the phone questioned why two people so young are thinking about this now! He actually commended us for thinking ahead. So why is long term care needed? Because health insurance/Medicare DOES NOT cover home care..... which are all the daily tasks needed to survive. Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer's facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed. Without long term care insurance, such care can be very costly and impossible to sustain. 

Given all we managed with Mattie's care, it seems impossible to think that we are in another intense caregiving situation now. One that I really would never have guessed would have landed on our doorstep. Peter and I are going away on Saturday to meet my parents in Miami, to then board a cruise. I truly need to get away, but before we do this we are trying to put safeguards in place in help our neighbor. I just think it is remarkable that there is no follow up care or assessment to truly determine how safe this woman is to live in her own home. Yes she saw the doctor today, but unless asking direct and the right questions, the reality will not be uncovered.

December 10, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. This was the last time we decorated for Christmas in our home. I would not have done anything that year, but Mattie's child life specialist gave Mattie that cute tree. Then others gave us poinsettias and things, so literally Mattie took all the items given to us and created this display practically in the middle of our living room. Do notice the Christmas train around this whole display. This was a train Mattie and I bought together years ago, when he was well. It became a tradition, that every year this train track would be assembled around the tree. This was the cutest train. It literally had Santa as the conductor, it puffed out smoke, and played Christmas music as it went around the track. It was so memorable that I can still vividly remember the train and how animated Mattie got seeing it going around the tree. 


Quote of the day: Tradition is a guide and not a jailer. ~ W. Somerset Maugham



I remember several years ago, I left town around Christmas and was unable to decorate Mattie's tree before I left. Needless to say, I wasn't happy about this and since that time, we have decorated Mattie's tree each Christmas. We try to decorate it for each season and of course special or milestone moments like Mattie's birthday and the day he died. 

Today was freezing outside. With the wind, it felt like it was in the 20's. Don't let the sun fool you in this photo. Peter and I cleaned up Mattie's tree and replaced the bow around the tree with a Christmas bow and of course put ornaments on the branches. 
I tried to take a close up of some of the wonderful items on the tree. I am very grateful that our friend Margy also visits the tree and adds meaningful ornaments that I know Mattie would have loved..... like hearts, birds, chimes, and turtles! 

Literally there is a bird house on the tree, chimes (which is why I call it the twinkling tree), Lego pieces, butterflies and of course toy cars!


Mattie's tree! I can't stand that Mattie's tree is right near all the play ground equipment. I would love to be able to see the tree without this yellow thing in the background. Despite no leaves on the tree, it has shiny snowflake ornaments and touches of red, that make it festive. 
When I came home from Mattie's tree, I happened to notice I had a friend sitting on my jacket. Do you see the ladybug? Peter snapped a photo, and we both took that as a sign from Mattie, the king of the bugs.