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 31, 2019

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tuesday, December 31, 2019 -- Mattie died 535 weeks ago today. 


Tonight's picture was taken on December 20, 2006. My parents were visiting and we took them to the Botanical Gardens and around Capitol Hill. This is the only photo like this with the Capitol behind us that I have. Back then it would never EVER have crossed my mind that we wouldn't have many more Christmases with Mattie. 









Quote of the day: To move, to breathe, to fly, to float. To roam the roads of lands remote. To travel is to live. ~ Hans Christian Anderson




We arrived at Aruba this morning. Like Curacao, Aruba has a Dutch influence. This can be seen in the architecture and language. Of course it is Dutch with a Caribbean colorful flair. 

There are 103,000 people on the island and it is consistently a temperature in the 80's or 90's YEAR ROUND! With only about 16 inches of rain a year. 



At one time, Aruba had an oil refinery on the island and that was its main source of income. But when the refinery closed down, the island had to re-invent itself. So it is now devoted to tourism. In fact, I would say out of all the Caribbean islands we have visited, Aruba is the most well developed..... as seen in its infrastructure and cleanliness. On many of the other islands, you see great poverty. Not so on Aruba.
The island has plenty of hotels, 16 casinos, restaurants, shops of all kinds, and it is known as the "happy island." 

Like many of the Caribbean islands, Aruba was formed out of volcanic activity. The elevation you see on the right of this photo is a volcano. 
Unlike other Caribbean islands, Aruba resembles a desert. There are cactus everywhere and a lot of sand. In addition, you will find volcanic rock everywhere, as it was pushed out of the ocean years ago when a volcano erupted and created the island. 

Do you see the rocks? To me they look like brown Swiss cheese. 
 A close up of the volcanic rock. 
We had the world's worst tour guide today, Ronnie. Ronnie drove the bus and in one hand held the steering wheel and the other the microphone to talk to us. In addition, he had the radio blaring while talking to us and frankly whatever came out of his mouth sounded garbled.

The first stop on our tour was to the Natural Bridge. In 2005, the Natural Bridge, a coral limestone formation chiseled by years of pounding waves and powerful winds, collapsed to the dismay of locals and tourists alike. But a smaller bridge, the intact Baby Natural Bridge, is a structurally sound arch carved out of rock and coral. 
This is a photo of the baby bridge. In the 1990's, all four of us visited Aruba and actually stayed on the island. Back then, we saw the original BIG natural bridge. 
All around the natural bridge are volcanic rocks. It makes for a striking photo. 

Tourists actually create rock castles on top of the rocks. Do you see the stacks of smaller rocks placed on the bigger ones?












The second stop on the tour was to an Ostrich Farm. We had the opportunity to get acquainted with many of these interesting, flightless birds as well as the emu. Although Africa is the native land of the ostrich, this intriguing bird finds a perfect home in Aruba's rugged landscape. The ostrich is the largest living bird species in the world. Once at the farm, Harold (a farm tour guide) took over.


These beige like creatures are emus. The emu apparently has three toes, moves slowly and doesn't have much endurance to run for more than a couple of minutes. 

We were told that both emus and ostriches have small brains and aren't particularly smart. In addition, they NEVER bond with humans regardless of how much time they spend along side them. 
These are ostriches. The black one is the male and the beige one is the female. Ostriches have TWO toes, one with quite a large claw. They are said to be aggressive and can pack a MEAN kick. 

Ostriches can run 45MPH and can run for an hour. The female lays about 70 eggs a year, of which about half are unfertilized. The life span of an ostrich is 80 years!












See this claw?! How would you like to be hit with this foot???? The ostrich really looks prehistoric in so many ways. 
This is the size of an ostrich egg. In fact one unfertilized egg is equivalent to 34 chicken eggs. The farm had a cafe and I checked out their menu. An ostrich omelette was $65, and feeds 6 people!
You know the movie Jurassic Park? I felt as if the ostriches were watching us, just like the dinosaurs were in the movie. 
In the midst of all the ostriches was this cute lizard. 
Now when the male ostrich is angry and wants to assert himself, he puffs up his feathers. Just like this!
Harold was holding up an emu and ostrich egg. The black egg is from an emu and the white is from an ostrich. 
The farm gives you a chance to feed the ostriches under supervision. I asked Peter to try it. He was a good sport, but the female on the left was spirited. She literally nipped Peter's ear. They have a professional photographer on hand to capture the moment. Typically I don't buy these types of photos, but the one the fellow took was great and came in a wonderfully hand crafted wooden frame. 













Our third stop was to the Casibari Rock Formations. On the flat island of Aruba, there is an unusual presence of huge monolithic boulders and towering rock formations. These geological formations add relief to the landscape and a glimpse into the island's ancient past. Casibari boulders are clustered together weighing several tons and creating unique forms. 
There are walking trails through this rock garden, and a climb to the top of the highest boulder rewards with panoramic views. 
Do you see what we climbed through? You really have to duck your head otherwise you are going to get badly injured. 
The climb down was actually easier than the climb up. Each step was uneven and very steep!
Peter and me on top of the formation. 
Our fourth stop was to the California Lighthouse. Named after the steamship California, which sank off the coast of Aruba, this iconic stone lighthouse, built in 1910, offers picture-postcard views of the expansive coastline.

















My mom and me under a divi-divi tree. Divi-Divi trees are known as Aruba's natural compass because they always point in a southwesterly direction. 
Meanwhile on Curacao and Aruba, fireworks are VERY popular for New Year's Eve. In fact, you can find people selling fireworks by the side of the road in stands.

This afternoon, the island was filled with smoke and all sorts of loud noises from fireworks. See all this red stuff? This paper debris was left behind from fireworks. Thousands of fireworks were set out on the street and lit. They then explode for several minutes causing chaos and smoke.  
See what I am saying? The bus drove through this smoky haze. 
It produces chaos and traffic jams. Mind you the official time for fireworks we were told was 11:30pm on the island. So I can only imagine what is going to happen then.
Smoke and firework debris. This was seen and heard THROUGHOUT the entire day. 
After lunch, we walked from the ship out into the capital town of Oranjestad. Our ship was in the background. However, after about a mile or so of walking, we turned around and walked back because the streets were packed with hundreds of people and fireworks were going off all around us. 

Aruba was our last port. The next two days of the cruise are sea days, and we land back in Florida on Friday. 

December 30, 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on December 9, 2007. Every December we would take Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens. This was an incredible indoor space, especially in the cold weather months. For Christmas, the Gardens decorated in full style. Using plant materials they created replicas of historic buildings... like the US Capitol.  


Quote of the day: She watched the gap between ship and shore grow to a huge gulf. Perhaps this was a little like dying, the departed no longer visible to the others, yet both still existed, only in different worlds.Susan Wiggs



We arrived in Curacao today. You can always tell that you are in Curacao because of the big bridge in the background.... The Queen Julianna Bridge! 

The Island was occupied by the Dutch since 1634. The official language is Dutch, but English, Spanish and Papiamento (a creole mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English and Arawak Indian) are spoken. There are about 160,000 people on the island. 

The island also has traditional Dutch architecture, that has been infused with the vibrant colors of the Caribbean.  

Here are some Papiamento words:

1) Bon Bini: Welcome
2) Bon Dia: Good Morning
3) Danki: Thank you
4) Mi gusta korsou: I love Curacao



A local artist has tried to beautify the island and has painted murals over many homes. If you look closely you can see two love birds painted down below. Apparently these two birds came to visit at this location at 3pm everyday. So the artist painted the birds into the scenery.

Our tour guide was Myrae. She said it is costly to maintain properties in Curacao, as the houses truly needed to be re-stuccoed every year due to the heat and humidity. As it is 90 degrees YEAR ROUND! 
In the historic part of town, the homes and buildings are very colorful. The legend is that a man who owned a paint company on the island encouraged people to paint with vibrant colors. He said that WHITE triggered migraines. The funny part is that people believed him, and naturally this made his paint company a vibrant business on the island.
The historic, down town area is absolutely charming. 
Another example.
Curacao is most likely derived from the Portuguese word for "cured." Early Spanish sailors suffering with scurvy, found themselves miraculously healed after landing here, most likely from eating local fruits rich in vitamin C.
Willemstad, the capital of the island, is divided into two sections. Punda is the section that boasts an eclectic collection of over 750 historic buildings, which have earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. 
Murals every where! 
I think this picture captures the Dutch architecture and the colors of the Caribbean perfectly. 













Our first stop on the tour was to the heart of the historical Scharloo district in the city center. It is here that a group of local artists, artisans, craftsmen and historians have joined forces to form the Nos Kos (Our Thing) initiative. Their artwork is sold at a pop-up market in Leyba Park. 

We met a husband and wife team who basically are responsible for transforming this park. Anna explained that her family was going to visit Disney World in Florida. Her 10 year old daughter felt she did not have enough spending money to go to Florida, so her mother suggested she raise money in some way. The daughter decided to create an all natural lip balm and sell it. Apparently the lip balm was a hit on the island and Anna and her husband basically built off of their daughter's idea. They run a shop that sells all natural products. However, the park in front of their shop was a disaster. Lined with liter and drug addicts. Anna and her husband picked up trash daily for three months, and what happened is that the people living in the park began catching on. They too began to pick up trash and beautify the park. Anna wanted all of us to know that from one small idea (daughter making lip balm), that a whole community can be changed and the lives of people can be improved and a community can be united. It was very touching to hear her family's story and to see what they built.


After Anna's presentation, she introduced us to Jessie. Jessie showcased a traditional papiamento costume (which was one time made out of left over materials found in one's home.... curtains, tablecloths, etc) as well as demonstrated the Curacao version of the waltz and mazurka. 
This is Anna's shop, called Hello Skalo.
My mom and me with Anna. Not that I needed lotion, but I wanted to support her store and her mission... so I bought two lemon grass lotions and one mango lotion. 
I liked this sign in Anna's store... 
To do list

  • Be Awesome
  • Smile A lot
  • Bless others
  • Stick to your principles
  • Do everything with love

Later in the morning, Jessie picked people who she wanted to dance with.... and she chose Peter. I actually caught Peter's dance moves on video. He did a great job. 
In this same park was this creative art piece entitled... sea monster. It is made out of all sorts of plastic pieces that have washed up on the beaches of Curacao. It is said that these pieces of plastic have come from all over the world. 
After the art park, we visited a Curacao Liquor Distillery..... Chobolobo Estate - Blue Curacao Liqueur Factory.

This early 19th-century Dutch colonial mansion has been converted into a small distillery that crafts the Blue Curacao liqueur. Created from the peel of the Valencia orange planted by the Spaniards when they discovered Curacao, the unique spirit has been produced on the island for over 100 years using a traditional recipe dating back to 1886. 

Apparently Curacao is famous for this blue liquor. Which we had the opportunity to taste. Perhaps it was the fact that I was drinking something that was electric blue, but it tasted sickly sweet and unappealing to me. 
Inside the distillery, was some information about how the products are made. What caught my attention was the sugar, dried out orange peels, cloves and cardamon which are used in the process!



By the way all the liquor is KOSHER!!! One of the contributing factors of the kosher certification is the fact the genuine Curacao Liqueur is distilled using an ethyl alcohol derived from natural cane sugar. The Dutch West India Company brought sugar cane to the region, and imported slave labor as it became the most valuable crop. The sugar mills would grind the bottom of the cane stalks where gravity pulled the sweet sap, and the resulting juice would be fermented for several days, then heated in a still. Resulting vapors, cooled by water, condense back into the clear alcohol to be used for the Genuine Curacao Liqueur. 
In 1634, when the Dutch took control of Curacao from Spain, an interpreter with the fleet became the first Jewish person to set foot on the local islands. His name was Samuel Cohen and he arrived from Amsterdam. In 1659, a group of 70 Sephardic Jews from the Portuguese congregation of Amsterdam emigrated to Curacao and bought with them the first Sefer Torah, a handwritten version of the Jewish Holy Book dating to the early 1300's in Amsterdam and housed it in the Synagogue Mikve Israel Emanuel, built in 1732, which today is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Because of the Senior family's place in Curacao Jewish community, it was important for them to seek kosher certification for their Curacao liquor. Following stringent testing of all the raw materials used, including the alcohol, the kosher certification was granted. 

A display of the modern and antique liquor bottled used. 
The last stop on our tour was to an Aloe Vera Farm. This farm has 10 acres, with 100,000 aloes planted on it. Curacao is gifted with an abundance of natural aloe vera plants, long reputed for their natural healing and medicinal powers. The plantation and manufacturing facility showcase aloe products and offer insight into the plant and its uses. 

While on the farm, we had a demonstration of how to cut a big aloe vera frond. In fact once you slice it open, a caramel colored fluid drips out. She said a teaspoon of that liquid serves as a natural laxative. Then as she sliced off the skin off the plant, she cut the flesh inside for people to taste. She lost me literally and the whole thing grossed me out. So needless to say, I did not eat the aloe. Then she offered us a tasting of pure aloe juice.........all I can say is YUCK!!! It wouldn't go down, despite how wonderful it is for one's immunity and health. Peter said it tasted like nail polish remover. I can't say I disagree. 

My mom and me pictured with a Chichi! Chichi is a well rounded Caribbean figure. She represents the vibrant, dynamic and responsible older sister. She is handmade and hand painted in bright Caribbean colors by local craftsmen and painters at Serena’s Art Factory in CuraƧao. They also sell dolls and other figurines of chichi for people to take home as souvenirs.

Chichi is the Papiamento word for ‘big sister.’ She represents the eldest daughter of the family, who binds the family together in a loving and caring way. She is a much appreciated female role model in the Caribbean community of today and a very live part of its colorful heritage.



Meanwhile all over the Island today, you could hear what sounded like gun shots. But it wasn't guns, it was fireworks. People are getting ready for New Years and apparently fireworks are VERY popular. At first, it is quite scary as you can't understand what is happening or where these loud sounds (that go on for minutes) are coming from, but once you are told what is going on, then what you quickly deduce is ......... New Year's Eve must be a pip here.