Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 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: 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 1, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Today's picture was taken in November of 2003. Mattie was 7 months old and I took this photo because I was intrigued over what fascinated Mattie. From an early age, Mattie LOVED flashlights. In fact, light was one of the first words he spoke! After the word CAT! But Mattie didn't just like the fact that a flashlight produced light, he likes that you could unscrew it and it would produce something inside (batteries). Mattie loved to disassemble and reassemble things like flashlights and many of his toys. It truly was a feat to watch because as an adult, I am not quite sure I would have known how to put together a deconstructed hotwheel car!

Quote of the day: The soul is healed by being with children. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Peter, Sunny, Indie, and I are driving today to Boston! Given that this is a holiday weekend, it has the potential of being a very long trip. Mind you it is a long car trip on a good day. Fortunately Sunny and Indie are great travelers, as we learned last summer with them in tow. So tomorrow, I will be writing to you from Boston. 

June 30, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2002, shortly after Mattie was born! This was a classic photo for our household, mainly because of Patches, our calico cat. Patches understood quickly that things had changed once Mattie was born. She did not act out, but instead wanted to be a part of everything. As you can see, with her sitting next to Peter on the couch. Patches was an amazing family cat, and had incredible patience with Mattie during his toddler years, as initially he tried to chase her and pull her fur. But he learned quickly how to be a responsible cat owner and friend. 

Quote of the day: Cats do not have to be shown how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in that respect.James Mason

 I received an email today from City Kitties, the rescue shelter who helped us get Indie. City Kitties has proudly adopted 500 cats in 1.5 years! Rather amazing no? That is a lot of cats who needed homes, and Indie is part of that statistic. 

In honor of the the 500 cat mark, City Kitties wrote to its adopters and asked us to share updates about our cats. I admit to reporting more about Sunny on the blog, but Indie is thriving at home and she and Sunny are pals! 

We adopted Indie around Independence Day of 2016, which is how she got the name Indie. Her former name was Hazel, most likely for her beautiful eyes. This coming holiday weekend, will mark our one year anniversary with Indie. As you can see Indie has integrated herself into our home. She checks out everything. Including the piano!

Indie loves SINKS! She enjoys batting at water, sitting in sinks, and even drinking right from the faucet if it is turned on! 
Indie also loves playing around with Mattie's stuffed animal doggie. As you can see Indie bats at its head. 
Both Indie and Sunny were adopted from City Kitties/Dogs! It took about two weeks for Indie to adjust to Sunny, but now they are buddies! They sniff each other and if it is possible for animals to look out for one another, I would say they do! Sunny does not like to see Indie placed in a carrier to go to the vet. It actually makes him very anxious and he will put his snout into her cage to check in on her. 
Indie's perch, which sits on my desk! She loves the bird's eye view. 
In the winter time, we bring many of our plants indoors. Our living room looks like a jungle. But Indie loves it. She loves checking out the plants, hiding behind them, and sitting among them. 
Indie has a thing for Peter. In fact, when we first went to see Indie in foster care, she came up to Peter and played with him and she allowed him to pet her. Now she sleeps every night on Peter's feet! 
We suspect Indie was formerly an outdoor cat. She LOVES being outside on our deck (where she is contained). She can sit there for hours and watches the birds fly by. 
 Can you see Indie watching TV?
Some cats like mice, Indie loves birds. On the end of the string in this photo is a bird. In fact, about two weeks ago, Indie caught a bird on our deck and brought it inside. Fortunately Peter was home and he got her to drop the bird. The bird was disoriented and was flying all over our living room. Peter was able to save the bird and return it outside unharmed. 

In many ways Indie is more like a dog than a cat. She follows us around, wants to be in the mix of things, and responds when her name is called. Indie is also an important part of our home and therefore I wanted to give her air time tonight. 

June 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in October of 2002. Mattie was six months old and very ON! Mattie wasn't in love with his stroller. The joke about this was we literally bought and returned about three strollers, in hopes of finding the right one that would work for him. But the right one was never found. Mattie did not like being strapped into his seat, as his face clearly expressed. Can't you just feel Mattie's distaste for this stroller? The face said it all!

Quote of the day: If you seek creative ideas go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. Raymond I. Myers

When I became a parent, I found that I got to know my neighbors. When you live in Washington, DC, in the heart of the city, it is different from living in a suburb. Typically suburbs can unite people, based on common schools, activities, events, and neighborhoods. This isn't really true in a city. For the most part, in a city people stick to themselves. Or at least that has been my experience after living in Boston and now Washington, DC. Cities can be more transient as well, as people commute in and out of them to work, but not necessarily to plant roots. 

When Mattie was born in April of 2002, I quickly learned that Mattie seemed less cranky, less colicky, and agitated when he was outside in the fresh air. So I learned the art of being outside during all types of weather. But while walking around, we would bump into our neighbors. Mainly because we were outside so often, I watched people leaving and returning to their homes throughout the day. In fact, when Mattie was alive, this generated a lot of activity for at least our floor in the complex. People loved watching Mattie grow, smile, play, learn to ride a bicycle and the list went on. Of course when Mattie got cancer and then died, this changed our patterns and routine. We turned to living more inward and indoors. After all, there was nothing at least for me, to bring me outside to interact with my environment. 

This all changed for me in September of 2016, when we adopted Sunny. Sunny requires walks. They aren't negotiable, and it also doesn't matter what the weather is like, he has to go out. Kind of reminiscent of Mattie! Also like Mattie, Sunny has a way of receiving attention from others, and at times I feel like I am dealing with the dog version of Mattie. There are similarities despite the fact that we are comparing two different species. Sunny and Mattie share three very important qualities in common. The first is brightness/intelligence, the second is a strong connection with me, and third is filled with emotions.  

Just like with Mattie, I can tell how Sunny is feeling. Sunny is his most happy when he is out walking, exploring, sniffing, and pursuing squirrels. While out for the pursuit, I have met all sorts of people. People who probably wouldn't talk to me on the street, without having a safe subject like Sunny to talk about. Sunny is a conversation starter and I have yet in the 10 months we have owned him had a day when someone doesn't stop me on a walk to tell me how "beautiful" Sunny is, or to ask me his breed. 

Over ten months ago, I had it in my mind that we needed a dog. But it is a large responsibility and it does change your freedom and flexibility. Yet despite being cautious about our new addition, Sunny has added a dimension to our lives. Certainly so does Indie (our tortoise shell cat), but cats are very independent and require less time and attention. Typically the relationship is on the cat's terms. NOT true with a dog. Mattie always wanted a dog, and I have a feeling if Mattie met Sunny, there would be an instantaneous bond and love. 

June 28, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in May of 2003. Mattie was about a year old and was visiting the Reston Zoo. One of Mattie's favorite places to go. Typically Mattie did not like crowds or a lot of noise. So the National Zoo wasn't a good fit for him. But the Reston Zoo typically wasn't crowded and it welcomed kids in a very hands on way. Mattie was in love with the sheep. It was one of the spots he always wanted to visit at the Zoo. As the Zoo allowed kids to feed the animals and spend as much time as you wanted with them. 

Quote of the day: Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. ~ John Muir

I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Mary Ann, in Reston today. With no traffic, Reston is super easy to get to, and takes about 30 minutes. Mary Ann and I met many years ago in graduate school. We immediately appreciated each other when we met in ethics class. One of the assignments was to write on a listserv about the ethical issues and concerns we saw in our daily lives.... more specifically from TV, films, and other media. This class occurred around the time the show ER was being filmed, so we always had a field day on-line talking about the multiple ethical issues we saw during each week's episode. It is funny how an on-line class assignment could produce a friendship, but it did. After all while talking about ethical issues, you are learning a lot about the person sharing thoughts and feelings.

We had a lovely lunch together at the Reston Town Center and then walked through the neighborhood that inhabits what we call "Margaret's rosebush." Margaret was Mattie's preschool teacher and my friend, who died from ALS in 2014. Margaret loved roses and cultivated many in her backyard. Mary Ann knew this, and when Margaret died she sent me a photo of a magnificent rose bush close to the dock where I snapped this photo today. Through various seasons, Mary Ann sends me a photo of this rose bush, as we watch its progression and growth. Somehow doing this keeps Margaret's memory alive. However, in addition to a rose bush, this wonderful neighborhood borders on a man made lake. But check out what was floating by..... a deck boat. I swear this is really a deck that has a rudder and motor attached to it!

Can you see the deck boat in the distance with the red umbrella? People were having lunch on this boat!
I snapped this photo because by the trees, you can see a deck boat attached to the dock. Literally people can detach the deck, and float around the lake. I have never seen such a concept, but there is something about this part of Reston that makes me feel like I am at a lake shore retreat! I can't imagine living here year round. A totally different experience from my city life. 
This is the dock we were standing at when watching the deck boat pass by. Margaret's bush is behind us. It is an absolutely charming spot!
Another wonderful aspect of this neighborhood is the plantings. Each home seems to have a beautiful garden of some sort and it is fun to walk by, check out the plantings and the garden sculptures. I loved this glass garden globe. 

June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 -- Mattie died 406 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in March of 2009. Mattie was home between hospital treatments and wanted to take out one of his Thomas Train sets. I remember buying this train set with Mattie at Target years ago (pre-cancer). Mattie picked this toy out while shopping with me, and I thought like other toys, it would fall out of interest. This train set, never did! It was something Mattie loved, because the trains ran on batteries and they could turn around on the tracks and also pick up items along the way.  It was hard occupying Mattie's attention after he had limb salvaging surgeries. He could no longer run and walk, and expend energy. Yet his mind was very active and it required hours upon hours of play, and the treatment seemed to prevent Mattie from getting sleep. When I look back at these days now, I honestly do not know how Peter and I managed. 

Quote of the day: A quarrelsome man has no good neighbors.Ben Franklin

I get the sentiments of Ben Franklin's quote.... but!!! I was working at my desk today in Mattie's room. As is typical kids in our complex came and played in Mattie's sandbox. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, it has taken me many years to get used to this occurrence. 

But today I saw a little girl carry the lid of the frog sandbox, drag it, and then she and her brother decided to stand on the lid and smash its face inward. In fact, Peter has been asking me.... why is the frog face always smashed? As Peter returns from work every evening and fixes it. I never had an answer for Peter, until tonight. I now know how the lid of the box gets smashed.... as I watched it unfold. 

Clearly kids will be kids. After all, I am sure Mattie may even have thought to step on the frog lid! The difference is I would have told him NO! Then explained why. If the lid gets broken, then there would be no sandbox. A box that he loved. I know Mattie would have gotten that message instantaneously, as he put two and two together quickly. But this mom said nothing to her children. She just watched her daughter stomping on the lid. 

Honestly, I am sure if I was the average parent, I would not think twice about this occurrence. Kids are being kids. But the difference is..... this is Mattie's sandbox. To me the box holds meaning and as I was watching it being stomped on, I fell back into my OLD feelings, back when Mattie first died and people would ask me.... do you have children? This afternoon I was literally shocked at what I was seeing and felt uneasy at the same time, yet unable to speak or say anything from the window. 

At the end of the day however, the mom did get up and fixed the face of the frog and then put the lid back on the box. So all is well with Mattie's frog. But it gets back to the point I made last night. So many view this as just a sandbox left out in the common area for others to use. But to me it is much much more, and I really believe based on my experiences with Mattie and his death, this clouds how I view the world. For I now realize objects I may see within my community, which may look innocent to the untrained eye, could have a lot more meaning and sentimental value attached to them than we really know. 

June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2004. Mattie was two years old. Mattie went from not liking sand to loving sand. Mattie spent a lot of time in his sand box through all types of weather. It wouldn't be unusual to find sand toys, hotwheel cars, other plastic toys, and ramps made out of wood inside the sand box. Mattie could play for hours, creating all sorts of setups with his cars in the box. This sand box sits right outside our deck door now, available for all the kids in the commons area to play with it. When you lift the lid, there are still plenty of Mattie's things inside. 

Quote of the day: A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. ~ Denis Waitley

(Photo: March 2009, Mattie was home between treatments and wanted to play outside. So Peter brought out a heater!)

I am sitting at my desk, which is in Mattie's room. My desk looks out at our commons area. What am I seeing now? About three nannies caring for at least six children. The children and nannies are NOT walking around! They are all sitting right outside my deck door playing in Mattie's sandbox. I know when this first happened years ago, I was in SHOCK. Shock because part of me wanted to ask them..... do you know WHOSE SANDBOX THIS IS? When I initially put Mattie's sandbox in our commons area, I did it because I wanted more space on our deck, but I did not want to part with the frog sandbox. A box that brought Mattie so much joy. To me the sandbox, served as a reminder of Mattie, and as such it was meant to be preserved and NOT touched. 

So years ago, when I first saw a child playing in it, I had so many mixed emotions. Anger at the parent for not asking first before touching someone else's property, sadness that the box no longer had its rightful owner, and depressed at the notion that I may even need to explain my feelings to someone else. A part of me felt like my world ended, so why didn't other people KNOW THIS. Why didn't they know that this sandbox was off limits?!!! Of course we all know the answers to this, and the main answer is NO ONE expects a child to die. So this would never cross another parent's mind when approaching our sandbox. 

Any case, after seeing that first child in Mattie's sandbox years ago, I was perceptive enough to see that the child was having a good time. Though hardened by grief, I hadn't lost my sense of humanity completely. So I let that child play in the box. Over the years, it is like the message got out in the complex...... a sandbox is available for all in the commons area!!!

I have been all over the map on the emotions of this sandbox, but tonight's quote captures it. Not so much that my smile is the light in the window, as much as the smiles Mattie's sandbox provides other children is the light that comes into my window. I have no idea if these nannies appreciate what I am sharing with them, or whether they deem me a caring and sharing person. I suspect they haven't given it ANY thought whatsoever. Which is fine. 

Despite sharing Mattie's sandbox over the past eight years, when I see groups of children swarming it, it does make me pause. I have no idea whether Mattie would be happy that I am sharing his box with other children. After all, Mattie was seven when he died, and how he looked at the world back then, and how he would look at it now at age 15, I imagine would be quite different. Nonetheless, no matter Mattie's reaction, one thing he has to know is that his memory lives on in the sandbox, in the commons area, and through the smiles and joy his toys inside the box provide!

June 25, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2003. Mattie was one year old. Peter snapped this photo of Mattie and me. Mattie was never wild about eating, and forget about sitting in his high chair. He thought the whole notion of being strapped into a chair and asked to eat, as curtailing his freedom and spirit. So to get Mattie to eat, it involved games, toys, and a lot of goofing around. As you can see I was doing all sorts of things and clearly Mattie had a big smile on his face! Once Mattie was distracted and in a good mood, you would be amazed at the amount of food I could get into his mouth!

Quote of the day: Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.Harper Lee

Harper Lee's quote about the mockingbird actually makes me laugh. I am laughing because for the past few weeks Sunny and I have been attacked by mockingbirds. At first I thought it was a fluke, but now I see a pattern. I literally feel like I am living a scene out of Hitchcock's movie, The Birds. I have never been scared of birds before, until these mockingbird encounters. But just like in Hitchcock's movie, I have observed mockingbirds staring at Sunny and I, following us with their eyes, and then dive bomb us, and NIP Sunny's hind legs. Poor Sunny doesn't get what's happening!!!

These mockingbird encounters have been bothering me so much that I researched the topic.... Mockingbirds nipping at dogs. The one article I found was from the 1950's, but it was SPOT ON:

Hailman wrote an article called, The Mockingbird's "tail up" display to mammals near the nest /wilson/v075n04/p0414-p0417.pdf

The article says, "The displaying bird orients itself facing the dog and cocks its tail vertically, spreading it slightly so that the white of the outer tail feathers lines the edges of the tail. The body is held nearly horizontally, with the head directed at the dog." 
At one time I liked mockingbirds, as they have an amazing vocal repertoire! Now if I see a mockingbird, I usually grab a hold of Sunny and head in a different direction!
This is in essence what I am seeing. Mockingbirds hover overhead, circling near us, as if they will land on my head. They never have, but each time they come and nip Sunny on the leg. 

The article says.... "In several cases, dogs did approach the nest, and this provoked the birds to attack, even though the dogs showed no overt hostility toward them. In these cases, the Mockingbird usually dived from the rear and slightly to the side of the moving dog and displayed its tail and wings quite prominently in the swoop. Several birds observed swooped to one side of the dog and then the other alternately for as many as eight passes without a break. Occasionally a diving Mockingbird actually struck a dog with its claws."