Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 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 22, 2018

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December 2005. This was Mattie's fourth Christmas. We took Mattie to Clyde's in Tower Oaks, one of his favorite restaurants. Outside the restaurant is a pond with turtles. Mattie posed for a photo right by the pond. Mattie spent a great deal of time by this pond every time we dined there, making this a very meaningful photo for the front of our 2004 Christmas card. 


Quote of the day: Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand. ~ Dr. Seuss


We arrived in Grenada this morning. The island is known for its waterfalls, rain forests, and 45 white sand beaches. It is called the "isle of spice" as spices are their main exports (cinnamon, nutmeg, mace). To me the terrain of Grenada is similar to Dominica, though there appears to be more infrastructure in Grenada. 


I would have to say that it is one rainy and mountainous island. We drove over 40 miles around the island and on very windy mountainous roads. Fortunately I was on Dramamine. That said I have been fighting a fever, sore throat and congestion for days and getting rained on today did not help how I felt. 

One of our stops today was to Fort Frederick. Notice the wonderful rainbow. Another sign from Mattie!

The best preserved of all the Grenadian forts, the French began construction of Fort Frederick in 1779 and the British completed it 12 years later. Nicknamed the "backwards facing fort," as cannons face inland instead of out to sea. The fort was abandoned in 1850 until it was later occupied by the Grenadian military.

Tucked within the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, the lake's azure waters rests inside one of Grenada's extinct volcanoes. The rain forest around the lake holds a treasure trove of flora and fauna including colorful tropical birds, tiny frogs and lizards, and rare orchids.

All you see is fog right? Well behind us is supposed to be a picturesque lake, but given the weather, this is all we saw. 
A beautiful rainbow eucalyptus tree. Notice the colorful bark, which is how the tree got its name. 
In the 1980's there was an uprising on the island and the prime minister was assassinated. The USA came in under President Reagan and provided assistance, military support, and helped to restore order. Grenada has NEVER forgotten. 
The visitor's center located at the Grand Etang National Park. 
This cutie was roaming the grounds at the park. He looked emaciated and I really wanted to feed him. 

Like Dominica, there is great poverty on this island. 
One of Grenada's most accessible waterfalls is noted for its lush greenery. There are ferns, trees, and hanging vines, all around the falls. The Annandale Falls cascade 32 feet over rocks into a deep pool. What I won't forget are the people working all around the Falls, who are looking for money. They will try to serenade you, have you take a photo with them, and there are even cliff divers who will jump from the rocks into the waterfalls for money! 
The pool near the waterfall. 
Peter and me in front of Annandale Falls. 
My mom and I! We made the climb down, which was much easier than getting to the Falls on Dominica. 



















Poinsettia plants growing in the wild. 
The beauty of a papaya tree. 
Grenada has all sorts of banana varieties..... this is a red banana tree. At one time they used to export bananas, but apparently Dole and Chiquita have corned the banana market. 
Looks cute no? NO!!! As Christmas approaches there is an annual tradition of people taking their animals to be slaughtered by the side of the road. To sell the meat and to generate extra income for their families. The goats you see here are in line to be killed. 
We saw many road side stands like this, with raw cut meat to be sold. This is the second step after step #1 pictured above. After seeing this, it made me want to give up eating meat altogether.











The view of the island from 1,600 feet!
My mom and me in front of the Crown Princess on the left. The other cruise ship was from a Norwegian based company. We had the opportunity to chat with a few of its passengers from England. 

December 21, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. This was Mattie's third Christmas. By this point, Mattie understood the significance of the holiday, the notion of decorating and taking photos. Mattie wasn't thrilled to pose, but this charmer was on the cover of our Christmas 2004 card. 



Quote of the day: It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~ W. T. Ellis


Today we visited Dominica. Christopher Columbus named the island after the Latin word for Sunday, because that was the day he landed on its shores. The Country is now independent from Britain and France, though the french roots are alive and well on the Island. English is their primarily language, followed by French Creole. 

My mom and I are pictured in front of the Crown Princess, with Roseau in the background. 

Dominica's sassy and colorful capital, Roseau (rose-oh) hugs the southwest coast of the Roseau River. It is the hub of this small island of volcanic terrain, sparkling waterfalls, beaches and lush national parks set against a backdrop of emerald mountains. Roseau's dense town center boasts historic buildings made of wood and stone that line the streets with a unique architectural style that borrows from the Spanish, English and French. 


Dominica is known as the "nature island." Which is quite appropriate as it is 29 miles wide and filled with cascading waterfalls and lush tropical rainforests. 
A short, flat and easy walk will take you to a spectacular viewing point of a tropical, thundering waterfall tucked away in the rainforest greenery of Dominica.

Here's the funny thing. Peter and my mom told me I have visited this waterfall twice in the past. I have NO recollection of it what so ever. To me it was like the first time I walked down these steps to the Falls. 
Despite how they are advertised, it isn't an easy or flat walk to the bottom platform to see the falls. We did it! The temperature difference by the falls was noteworthy. It was much cooler by the water. The legend is that taking a dip in Dominica water makes you youthful! A regular fountain of youth. 















The foliage around the Falls was beautiful! In addition on the way out of the Falls, there was a woman selling jewelry she created with her family. I bought several pieces, and what I loved about the jewelry was that it was made from natural plant materials like seeds. 

Dominica's main economy is tourism and agriculture (sugar/rum, fruits). In the winter season, around 2-3 cruise ships visit the island a week. Sometimes more. Ours was the only one in port today. 





When our 3,000 passengers came off the ship and into the Island today, it truly produced a major traffic jam. Traffic like you'd see in a big city in the USA. The only difference is in the USA we have alternative roads and routes to take to avoid traffic. That isn't the case in Dominica. 
Doesn't this look like a scene from a Monet painting???

This 40-acre oasis is the largest swath of green space in Roseau and is considered one of the botanical gems of the Caribbean. Established in 1891 by order of the British Crown, these botanical gardens are home to over 50 indigenous species of plants and trees and home to an aviary for Sisserou parrots, the national bird of Dominica. The wide lawns are used for national parades, celebrations and cricket matches. 


In 1979, the garden was ravaged by Hurricane David, and evidence of this can be seen in a large bus that is crushed beneath a toppled bapbob tree. 


My mom and I pictured in front of a 200 year old Banyan tree. 




















Dominica was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. To keep the island under her rule, Britain had to defend it from the French. Some small forts were started in 1765. Military engineers were commissioned to produce plans for the defend of the colony. Captain James Bruce, Royal Engineer, was head of that project. In March 1770, he dispatched a report to London giving his proposals, maps and designs for major fortifications needed for the island. 

Where we were standing served as the main garrison on the island. A garrison named after Captain Bruce. The cliff and steep slopes served as an excellent form of security for Roseau.










This was a sample of the mountainous roads we drove on with a tour bus to see the waterfalls and botanical gardens. I can't tell you how narrow this one lane road in both directions was..... with a mountain on one side and cliff on the other. I took this photo while on the bus and could see cars coming right at us.

We had an outstanding tour guide, Lorna, and bus driver, Baron, today! They were knowledgeable, kind, and fun!















December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. This was Mattie's second Christmas. Taking a photo of him for our Christmas card that year was a bit more challenging. Mattie was a whirling dervish and rarely sat still. So I came up with the idea of dressing him in a Christmas sweater and taking him to Lowe's. Mattie liked three stores ONLY... Target, Lowe's and Home Depot. When we put Mattie in the cart, he was intrigued by the decorations and lights, so we tried to capture the moment. A moment that went on the cover of Christmas card 2003. 


Quote of the day: Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind. ~ Valentine Davies



Peter took this photo of us during our first formal night. The ship is all decked out for Christmas. I truly believe that the movies have glamorized Christmas to be about snow and the cold. When in all reality, that has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. 
On our formal night, we went to the ship's specialty restaurant, the Crown Grill. It was highly over rated and I can see why the restaurant was practically empty! 

We arrived in St. Thomas this morning. St. Thomas is the gateway isle of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It's known for its beaches and snorkeling spots. The capital is Charlotte Amalie, which was founded by the Danish in the 1600's. It is quite a busy cruise-ship port.













I can't tell you how many sailboats dotted the waters. It is an unforgettable sight. As many of the other Caribbean islands have great poverty, it is clear that there is a great deal of wealth within St. Thomas. 
The island is lush and mountainous. 
The view as we were pulling into port this morning. We have visited St. Thomas numerous times. The Island is known for its shopping and thousands of tourists disembark cruise ships daily to venture to the main street of Charlotte Amalie. 
All the stores on the main street are super expensive. In addition, the sales people are aggressive, as they have no problem coming out and coaxing you to come inside. We tried going into one store, but the whole experience was tiring. Fortunately, we know of Jackson's jewelry. Which is located just off the main street. The store is owned by Sheila and Nick Jackson. We have visited their shop for at least three years now. You can always fine something lovely there without breaking the bank! Not to mention that this family owned business is lovely to support. Ironically Sheila's two sons live in Virginia! Peter captured my mom and I talking to Sheila. 
Sheila gave me this wonderful butterfly plaque that was made on the Island. She doesn't know the significance of butterflies to me, nor does she know Mattie's story.  Which is why I feel that Mattie was sending me a sign today. 
My mom and I on one of the side streets in St. Thomas. 
The side streets are very charming. It is about a ten minute taxi ride from the port to the heart of the city. A ride that is only $4 a person. 
 This is a photo of us on Main Street. 
A close up of Dronningens Gade Street. 

December 19, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2002. Mattie was 8 months old and experiencing his first snow fall. This cute little Santa endured being photographed for several minutes while in his entertainment saucer. After about 100 photos, Peter and I selected this photo to go on our first family Christmas card. 


Quote of the day: What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. ~ Agnes Pahro


It was an at sea day today. Check out what we saw when we looked outside our window.... a Norwegian Cruise Line ship passing us by! Quite a composition against the blue waters and amazing clouds. 









We had a full day of activities. We started at 8:30am with Zumba. However, we were supposed to set our clocks forward an hour last night. I forgot, so when my alarm went off at 7am today, it was really 8am ship time. Zumba was at 8:30am, and literally I scrambled to put myself together so we could meet my parents. Here's today's agenda:

8:30am - Zumba (with instructor: Song, from Korea)
10am - Ship board $10 sale
Noon - lunch
2:15pm - Merengue class (with instructor: Alex, from Russia)
3:30pm - Origami making class (with instructor: Lorenz, from South Africa). I took a photo of my final products.... a heart, sailboat, and a hat. Mind you I have never done origami before. 

While my mom and I were doing these activities, Peter and my dad were in the ship's sanctuary. It was a feat that we got seats in the sanctuary during this cruise. But we achieved this only because on embarkation day we got on the ship early and went straight to the sanctuary to book seats. On past cruises, we never got lucky enough to get seats in this private area for each day of the cruise. This area is crucial on a Princess cruise, especially if you don't like noise from music, movies on the deck, and competing for space and a deck chair with passengers. 

After running around today, my mom and I joined my dad and Peter for about 15 minutes. During that time I had a cup of tea and a scone. A lovely setting and a few minutes of peace. 

Tonight is a formal dress night. So after a full day of activities, I am headed to get dressed up. I know Princess' tag line is "Escape Completely" or "Come Back New." I have yet to ever achieve either!!!