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

July 13, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2009. I took Mattie to the hospital that day for his outpatient physical therapy appointment. Understand that at that point in time we did not know his cancer had metastasized. Instead, Mattie's chemo and surgeries were behind him and our focus turned to rehabilitation, with the hopes of sending Mattie back to school in September. Despite how physically debilitated Mattie was, he was a good sport about physical therapy and gave it his all. 






Quote of the day: I never walked through the streets of any city with as much satisfaction as those of Philadelphia. The neatness and cleanliness of all animate and inanimate things, houses, pavements, and citizens, is not to be surpassed. ~ Frances Wright


Tonight's blog concludes my postings of my trip to Philadelphia. What I am highlighting here is what Karen and I did on Wednesday of this week. If you read the past two nights, then you know we were very busy! We made the most out of every moment we had together. 

On Wednesday morning, we walked to Frieda's restaurant. It was literally two blocks from our hotel. There is a very artistic feeling to this restaurant, from the food to the atmosphere!


Our first stop that morning was to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The garden is an immersive mixed media art environment that is completely covered with mosaics. The creator, Isaiah Zagar, used handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirror, and international folk art to chronicle his life and influences. The space is made up of two indoor galleries and a bi-level outdoor sculpture garden.
Zagar has devoted himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960's, when he moved to the area with his wife, Julia. The couple helped spur the revitalization of the area by renovating derelict buildings and adding colorful mosaics on both private and public walls. The Zagars, teamed with other artists and activists, transformed the neighborhood into a prosperous artistic haven and successfully led protests against the addition of a new highway that would have eliminated South Street. This period of artistic rebirth was coined the “South Street Renaissance.” After the street was saved, Zagar continued creating mosaic murals, resulting in hundreds of public artworks over the next five decades.

In 1991, Zagar started working on the vacant lots located near his studio at 1020 South Street. He first mosaicked the buildings on either side of the property, then spent years sculpting multi-layer walls out of found objects. In 2004, the Boston-based owner of the lots discovered Zagar’s installation and decided to sell the land, calling for the work to be dismantled. Unwilling to witness the destruction of the now-beloved neighborhood art environment, the community rushed to support the artist. His creation, newly titled Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, quickly became incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the intention of preserving the artwork at the PMG site and throughout the South Street region. Zagar was then able to develop the site even further; excavating tunnels and grottos.

What they don't advertise on their website is that the artist, who is now 80 years old, has bipolar disorder (a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings which can range from depressive lows to manic highs). We learned this from a museum employee and it was also mentioned inside the museum that the gardens are a form of therapy. The connection between mental illness and creativity has been well documented. 

I admire Zahar for turning the chaos in his brain and body into something positive for himself and the community. I would say the Magic Garden is a magical place that makes you pause and reflect on messages and words Zahar inserts throughout the space.   
Metal work in the midst of the mosaics!
To me it was a fascinating place..... filled with twists, turns, gardens, chairs, and messages.
Can you see the message?
Mosaics everywhere! Two outdoor floors of gardens!
I snapped a photo for a mother and daughter. The daughter returned the favor and took this photo of Karen and me. 

















Our next stop was a visit to the famous Barnes Foundation. Dr. Alfred Barnes was born into a working-class family in Philadelphia. He graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and went on to study chemistry in Germany. He made his fortune by co-inventing the silver-based antiseptic Argyrol with his German colleague Hermann Hille.

In 1908, he established the A. C. Barnes Company, in Philadelphia, which he continued to run until 1929. A progressive employer, Dr. Barnes organized his workers' day to include a two-hour seminar in which they would discuss the writings of philosophers like William James and John Dewey, and examine original works of art.

It was Dr. Barnes’s interest in art that led him to renew his friendship with an old high-school classmate, the artist William Glackens. In 1912, he sent Glackens to Paris to scout the galleries for modern paintings. The artist bought more than 30 works on Barnes’s behalf, including Van Gogh’s The Postman and Picasso’s Young Woman Holding a Cigarette. 

The Barnes Foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including over 900 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist masters.

I of course was thrilled to visit because for 7 years, I have taught an art series at Mattie's school for kindergarten students. The series focused on Matisse and Picasso. The Barnes is known for having a significant number of their great works. As I saw these paintings, I felt transported back to my art series. This painting is by Matisse. Matisse was featured removed and outside the window, while his wife and children were in the foreground.  
A Picasso. Picasso took up the issue of the alienated and dispossessed of the city in his work. Street performers, such as the figure of the harlequin represented for Picasso the dark side of the city and were feature prominently in his works.
The Barnes display their masterpieces in unique and engaging ways. First of all there is NO signage next to any painting. Instead, museum goers can access a guide book in each room that will provide information on the art. However, how the art is displayed on the walls is noteworthy. It is more like going to someone's house than a museum. In that pieces are not displayed by artist, time period, or subject matter. Instead, they seem to be paired together based on color, composition, and size. 

I snapped this photo because on top is a Matisse and on the bottom is a Picasso. These two art masters were rivals! Arch rivals, so I think it is particularly meaningful that their art is displayed together. After all, both artists studied each others works and it is well known that they influenced one another's painting style. 
A typical wall in the Museum. 
Also noteworthy are the vast number of Renoir paintings on display! Absolutely incredible collection. 
Do you see the metal works hanging over each painting? That is by design. As the specific pieces were chosen to capture your eye and draw you to the painting. 
Something about this little boy (by Renoir) reminded me of Mattie. 
Our third stop that day was to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
At the bottom of the Museum's steps is the famous Rocky statue. Rocky had quite a line of people who wanted their photo with him!
See what I mean!? 

The fictional Rocky Balboa of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies was immortalized in bronze by artist A. Thomas Schomberg in 1980 for a scene in the film Rocky III.

After the filming was complete, Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia.

Since 2006, the statue has been located at the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and there is a near constant stream of people waiting in line to get their pictures taken with the “Italian Stallion.”

As famous as the statue is, the steps leading to the east entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, aka “The Rocky Steps,” are also noteworthy. In fact, they’ve been declared the second most famous movie filming location in the world.

Each year, tens of thousands of people recreate the scene from the legendary Rocky movie and make the trek up the steps. Keep in mind that is 72 steps!

This is the view of Philadelphia from a top of the 72 steps. Yes we climbed them!

The Museum had a special exhibit called, The Impressionist's Eye. This of course being a Monet. I would say I saw some of the best Impressionists paintings in the world this week. 
I am attracted to sunflowers. As they remind me of Team Mattie, who supported us during Mattie's 14 month cancer journey. Many times friends would bring me sunflowers to cheer me up. Sunflowers to me symbolize love, support, and community. This of course was painted by Van Gogh. 
 A Renoir!
 A Degas!
 A Cassatt!
After the impressionists, we explored the Museum's depiction of a Japanese ceremonial tea house. 













For our last dinner, we visited Barclay Prime. Part of me was hesitant to go there because I think the traditional steak house can be overdone. Yet this restaurant continues to get top reviews. What caught my eye when booking the reservation was that the interior wasn't dark. It did not look like your regular steak house. I loved the interior.... it was bright, open, soothing colors and beautiful chandeliers. 

I would say the food was amazing. In addition to that so was the service. When they found out we were celebrating our birthdays, they brought out a special treat for us. 
A dinner to remember! I hope you have enjoyed my Philly postings. I would have to say it is a wonderful city to explore and is well worth the trip. 

July 12, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2009. Mattie was in clinic and celebrating his friend, Brandon's birthday. Brandon is in the middle with the crown on. There was a 12 year age difference between Mattie and Brandon, yet they got along beautifully. Brandon was diagnosed shortly after Mattie, so they endured treatment together. When Brandon's treatment was complete, he continued to come to the hospital to visit Mattie. Mind you Brandon lived about an hour away from the hospital. Also in the photo was Jocelyn. These three were good friends in cancer. Jocelyn had osteosarcoma like Mattie, and was an excellent mentor to him. Unfortunately Mattie and Jocelyn are no longer with us. 


Quote of the day: New York is a place where people go to reinvent themselves; Philadelphia is a place where people discover who they are.Chef Peter McAndrews


I had a full day of a licensure board meeting. But I decided to take today and tomorrow's blog to highlight my Philadelphia trip. Last night I posted about our adventure on Monday. Tonight's posting focuses on what Karen and I did on Tuesday. I think by the time you read these three postings, you will see we walked everywhere and really took in many of the amazing sights. 


On Tuesday morning, we left the hotel and walked to a local restaurant (Luna Cafe) for breakfast. Karen did a lot of research before we went and located several great places to eat for breakfast and dinner. 

While sitting outside having breakfast, I got to look into the neighboring store front's window. This is Hunter, a beagle mix. He was up for adoption. He was super sweet and I was tempted to bring him home with me. 
After breakfast, our first stop was to tour Betsy Ross' home. The sign says:

Credited with making the first stars and stripes flag. Ross was a successful upholsterer. She produced flags for the government for over 50 years. As a skilled artisan, Ross represented the many women who supported their families during the Revolution and early Republic. 
This sign says:

Betsy experienced the tragic loss of loved ones far too often. Two of her 7 daughters died as infants. Her mother, father, and a sister died within days of each other during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. 

Betsy was 24 when her first husband, John Ross, died while on duty with the local militia. Her second husband, Joseph Ashburn, died in an English prison after his ship was captured by the British, leaving the young widow and their two daughters. She at last enjoyed a lengthy marriage to her third husband, John Claypoole. They had 5 daughters and were married for 34 years before he passed away. 

This was Betsy's bedroom. Note that Betsy did NOT own this house. She rented a room and a work place from a landlord. Who also lived in the home. 

As we learned, Betsy designed all the US flags in her bedroom. Concealed from the public eye. As flags were used by the militia and NOT all the colonists were in support of the Revolution. Therefore, her work was done in her private quarters, where customers and boarding house eyes could not see what she was doing. The US flag is NOT supposed to touch the ground. They assured us that the flag is resting on cloth. 

We found this woman dressed in costume on the first floor of the house. In what was Betsy Ross' workshop. This woman was portraying Betsy Ross, and NEVER went out of character. Literally all of us were firing questions at her and she answered every one of them. She brought Betsy Ross alive for the visitors and it was like a step back in time. In fact, she questioned Karen and I, as she said our shoes were funny. In that they seemed like they were missing material (we had open toes sandals). I think this ability to interact with Betsy is a museum highlight.

Outside the museum, is this wonderful fountain. Notice the cat statues????
I would say the entire street that houses this museum is covered in the stars and stripes. You get a true patriotic feeling visiting Philadelphia. 
The front of Betsy Ross' home, with Karen in the foreground. 
After Betsy's house, we walked to Elfreth's Alley. Named for blacksmith and property-owner Jeremiah Elfreth. Elfreth’s Alley was home to the 18th-century artisans and trades-people who were the backbone of colonial Philadelphia.

Over 300 years later, the historic 32 houses that line the street remain hot properties, and this itty-bitty cobblestone street enjoys designation as a National Historic Landmark.
During the 18th century, most businesses operated out of people’s private residences, as grocers, shoemakers, cabinet makers, tailors and others worked out of the first floor of their Elfreth’s Alley houses.

This practice changed during the 19th century Industrial Revolution, when work shifted over to neighborhood factories.

While modern Philadelphia has sprung up around it, the alley remains, preserving three centuries of evolution through its old-fashioned flower boxes, shutters, Flemish bond brickwork and other architectural details.
Literally people still live in these homes today! I can only imagine how many tourists pass by these homes a year. 
Adorable and patriotic!
One of the famous Philly murals!!!

For over 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts engages communities in 60–100 public art projects each year, and maintains its growing collection through a restoration initiative. 

Each year, 15,000 residents and visitors tour Mural Arts’ outdoor art gallery, which has become part of the city’s civic landscape and a source of pride and inspiration, earning Philadelphia international recognition as the “City of Murals.”



From there we walked to the US Mint. Which offers free admission. I have never seen the production of coinage before, so I have to admit this was fascinating. 

On our walk to the Mint, we passed this colorful flower store! The sunflowers caught my attention. 














The US Mint does not allow you to photograph the interior of their facility. I found this photo on Google Images. However, I would say the experience is fascinating! You literally get to see the HUGE factory floor from up top. 

The Philadelphia Mint can produce up to one million coins in 30 minutes. It took three years for the original mint to produce that many. The mint also produces medals and awards for military, governmental, and civil services. Engraving of all dies and strikers only occurs here. Uncirculated coins minted here have the "P" mint mark, while circulated coins from before 1980 carried no mint mark except the Jefferson nickels minted from 1942–1945 and the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Since 1980, all coins minted here have the "P" mint mark, except pennies until 2017.

Right outside the mint is the famous Christ Church Burial ground. They actually charge admission to tour the cemetery. We opted not to do this, but right up front by the cemetery gate is the burial plot of Ben Franklin. Ben Franklin is really the father of Philadelphia. 

Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including the Library Company, Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania. During the revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750's, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

We then went to see the Liberty Bell. This special bell is housed in its own museum space, open free to the public. The Liberty Bell bears a timeless message: "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof."

It this museum you can go beyond the iconic crack to learn how this State House bell was transformed into an extraordinary symbol. Abolitionists, women's suffrage advocates, and Civil Rights leaders took inspiration from the inscription on this bell.

The State House bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House. Today, that State House is called Independence Hall. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris first ordered a bell for the bell tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. That bell cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia. It's this bell that would ring to call lawmakers to their meetings and the townspeople together to hear the reading of the news. 

No one recorded when or why the Liberty Bell first cracked, but the most likely explanation is that a narrow split developed in the early 1840's after nearly 90 years of hard use. In 1846, when the city decided to repair the bell prior to George Washington's birthday holiday, metal workers widened the thin crack to prevent its farther spread and restore the tone of the bell using a technique called "stop drilling." The wide "crack" in the Liberty Bell is actually the repair job! But, the repair was not successful. The Public Ledger newspaper reported that the repair failed when another fissure developed. This second crack, running from the abbreviation for "Philadelphia" up through the word "Liberty," silenced the bell forever. No one living today has ever heard the bell ring freely with its clapper.

A very nice fellow offered to take our photo in front of the bell!




















Our second dinner was at Vernick. Located in the charming Rittenhouse Square. One observation..... taxis aren't as plentiful in Philly as they are in other East coast cities. So I was thrilled to have an Uber app. Typically I am not an Uber fan, but it truly enabled us to easily get around the city when distances were too far to traverse on foot.