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

November 25, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. Mattie was home between treatments and received this adorable turkey hat from his school counselor. This has to be my favorite Thanksgiving photo of Mattie. 

Ironically when you look at this photo, doesn't Mattie look happy? He was truly remarkable, because most of us in his condition wouldn't be smiling or even able to smile. To me this photo captures the spirit and inner beauty of Mattie. 

Quote of the day: You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Peter and I spent part of the day working on creating our Foundation's Annual Fund letter. Every December Mattie Miracle sends out a letter and small gift to all of our loyal supporters. Our Annual Fund is very important and helps us maintain our operational budget. We wanted a new look for our letter and mailing and have been working on this for a bit. Hopefully by next week this letter will go to print and next weekend we will work on assembling 500 envelopes to be mailed to supporters. 

Sunny was very patient today while we were working. However, by 1pm, he was READY to go out. We tried to take him to Scott's Run in Great Falls to walk, but there literally was a traffic jam in the parking lot. So we turned the car around and went back to Roosevelt Island. Also crowed but we eventually found a parking space. 

Sunny just loves his outdoor time and walking in the woods. While walking, we came across two large woodpeckers. You can't miss these fellows, because when they hit wood with their beaks, it makes a very large thump! Can you see one of the woodpeckers on the ground? He has a tuft of red on his head. 

This is a close up of a pileated woodpecker. You can see how big he is and his glorious red head! Pileated in Latin means, capped. Signaling his bright red cap on his head. He is the second largest woodpecker in the United States and it is said this woodpecker is about the size of a crow. 

November 24, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. On the day after Thanksgiving to be specific! Mattie was home between treatments and as was typical for Mattie and Peter, they always decorated our outdoor commons area for Christmas. It was a post Thanksgiving day event. Each year, Mattie and Peter went to Home Depot to pick another Christmas light to add to their collection and display. In 2008, they picked this huge Great Dane light up figure. Not surprising since Mattie loved Scooby Doo, who is a Great Dane. Our neighbors appreciated and loved our holiday lights every year. They would tell us as much and talk about these lights even after Christmas was over. After Mattie died, our elaborate outdoor light display ended. It just doesn't mean the same anymore without Mattie, yet all the lights remain in our walk-in closet in Mattie's room. 

Quote of the day: It is not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it. ~ Lena Horne, singer

We began our day with this sight!!! This was the bed Peter's mom was sleeping in, and as soon as the bedroom door was open this morning, Sunny helped himself, walked in, and hopped onto the bed. Got to love Sunny! 

I don't know how people had the time to do Black Friday shopping today, since it took me several hours to put away all the items we needed out for Thanksgiving. This afternoon we took Sunny to Roosevelt Island. Sunny just loved his Island adventures. Can you see the deer (a buck) on the right hand side of this photo? The buck blends in beautifully with the trees. Sunny clearly wanted a piece of this deer!
Isn't this deer just beautiful? Recently we starting taking a different walking trail on the Island and to our surprise we frequently see deer along this trail. This was today's surprise and this buck had no fear with us nearby. Or anyone else for that matter. It was as if he was posing and inviting all of us to take a look. 
Our other sighting was this very large pileated woodpecker. Can you see his red head on the trunk of this tree? We heard this bird before seeing him. When his head pecks on the wood, it almost sounds like a hammer thumbing on wood! 

November 23, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2008. This was our last Thanksgiving with Mattie. His school counselor brought him this cute turkey hat, and Mattie put it right on his head, and of course I snapped a photo! To me this photo is priceless, and we are thankful that our Facebook friend, Tim took this photo and transformed it into this masterpiece. What I love about this is it helps to represent the important part of our family missing at the table today..... Mattie!

Quote of the day: Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. ~ Henry Van Dyke

I can not remember the last time we celebrated Thanksgiving in our own home. Typically Peter and I are traveling to family. Not that I haven't cooked Thanksgiving dinner before, on the contrary I have done it many times, but typically not in our own kitchen. So it was a bit of an adjustment for Peter and I, but we are a good team, and ended with a tasty product!
This is what our table looked like today. Notice Mattie's Mr. Sun painting was right in the mix watching over our table. 
This was a photo I captured today around our table, right before we ate dinner. With us was Peter's parents, our friends Koseth and Cesar, and their 18 month old daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte is our God daughter. 
This is a close up view of my dinner plate. The funny part about the Fall season is prior to having Mattie, I really disliked pumpkin. However, this was something Mattie LOVED to eat, and as such I learned to appreciate pumpkin. Which is why, for dessert we made a pumpkin cake with cinnamon/cream cheese frosting. 

On the menu tonight was:
Gravy made from scratch
Cranberry sauce
Apple/cherry stuffing
Sweet potato souffle with marshmallows on top
Ginger carrots
String beans with mint

Peter and I bought Charlotte some gifts today. She absolutely LOVED them and it was great to see her animated, getting to know us better, and learning more about her personality and interests. 

For course, regardless of what we do, or what our day entails, it is always very evident what is missing in our lives and just how different our lives are from others. 

November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2005. Mattie was three years old and I snapped this photo because Mattie was doing his interpretation of a bridge. A bridge high enough for his Lego creation/vehicle to traverse under. This to me captures the beauty and creativity of Mattie. 

Quote of the day: Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~ W.T. Purkise

Today we toured the Woodrow Wilson house. It was a wonderful experience and like yesterday we had a fabulous guide. One who really loved what she was doing and conveyed that. Walking through the house, brings Woodrow Wilson and his life alive for the visitor. Wilson married twice. His first wife, Ellen, died after his first year in office. He had three girls with his first wife. His second wife was named Edith. Though Edith was 16 years younger than Wilson, they had no children together. She did have a son from her first marriage who died. In fact, the baby shoe of her son was bronzed and was on display in her bedroom. I personally found that revealing. As a mom who lost an only child, I got the significance of this shoe. Another thing I did not realize was Wilson suffered a massive stroke while in office and his left side was completely paralyzed. Given the nature of how disabilities were viewed in the early 1900s, Wilson was NEVER pictured with a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair. Most US Presidents do not retire in Washington, DC. However, Wilson made this decision because it put him closer to his medical team that had been caring for him since he suffered a stroke. 

The President Woodrow Wilson House is the home to which President and Mrs. Wilson retired from the White House in 1921. President Wilson lived here until his death in 1924, and Mrs. (Edith) Wilson (his second wife) lived in the home until her death in 1961, at which time she bequeathed the home and its furnishings to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to serve as a monument to President Wilson. 

The home and gardens were designed by architect Waddy Butler Wood and were completed in 1915.The President Woodrow Wilson House is situated in the Kalorama – Embassy Row area that has long featured stately mansions and town homes. The home is executed in a Georgian Revival style. The home was originally built as a private residence of Henry Parker Fairbanks, an executive of the Bigelow Carpet Company. 

The President Woodrow Wilson House includes many remarkable features, including a marble entryway and grand staircase, Palladian window, book-lined study, dumb waiter and butler’s pantry, and solarium overlooking the formal garden. The home has been maintained much as it was in 1924, including furniture, art, photographs, state gifts, and the personal effects of President and Mrs. Wilson. 

The drawing room includes a century-old Steinway piano that President Wilson had in the White House, a framed mosaic that Wilson received on his trip to Italy in 1919 from Pope Benedict XV, and a wall-sized Gobelin tapestry presented by the people of France following World War I. Basically this room houses many of the gifts that were given to Wilson while he was president. It was after Wilson's presidency that a law was passed that all gifts granted to US presidents remain at the White House. As they are considered gifts to the Nation and not the individual. 

A photo of Peter with his parents in front of the house. 
The Wilson study served many purposes.... it was where he gave his remote radio address to the American People on November 11, 1923, the fifth anniversary of Armistice Day, watched movies with his wife, and kept his extensive book collection. Wilson was the only US president to earn a Ph.D., rather than being granted an honorary degree. He was the president of Princeton University and a progressive thinker. 
President Wilson received dignitaries and guests at the home, including former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau. Mrs. Wilson was known to have invited and dined with every first lady in this very room since her husband's retirement. 
This with Woodrow Wilson's bedroom. Wilson and Edith had separate bedrooms, and Wilson also had a full time nurse who lived in the house to help provide his care. Notice the beautiful painting of the woman above the fireplace. Wilson was able to stare at this painting each and every day, which apparently bothered Edith, since this wasn't a portrait of her. Rather it was the portrait of Jane Russell's (a movie star) mother. There was no more information about this, but it does leave one asking..... why?

It's hard to believe but the Wilson's had only two full time live-in staff members. Staff who clearly managed others who came in to serve and care for the family. 

This was the Wilson's kitchen. The kitchen was on the first floor and the dining room was on the second floor. Fortunately there was a dumb waiter that was used to carry the food upstairs.

November 21, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017 -- Mattie died 427 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was five years old and I took this photo of him during our walk on Roosevelt Island. Mattie loved to collect crinkly hedge apples on the Island in the Fall. As was evident given what he was carrying in his hands. But notice the building behind Mattie in the distance, the one with the spires. Well these structures are part of Georgetown University, and it is quite eerie that a year after this photo was taken, we practically lived on that campus, while Mattie was getting cancer treatment for over a year. 

Quote of the day: Caregiving leaves its mark on us. No matter what we do to prepare ourselves the hole left behind looms large. ~ Dale L. Baker

We ventured with Peter's parents today to Annapolis, MD. Here's a funny story! Years ago, my mom and I were touring around Annapolis, and walked into the beautiful State Capital building. We asked several people working in the building what the State capital of Maryland was, and you wouldn't believe the answers! We got a lot of "I don't know's" and "Baltimore." Keep in mind that these folks were working in the STATE CAPITAL building. The title should have given it away. This story always makes me chuckle!

I love seeing historic houses, and I find it a more interactive way to learn about history! We had a wonderful tour guide today named Carol. Carol was enthusiastic about her job and transferred that to those of us on her tour. I had the opportunity to learn about William Paca and his life. Paca married two times, and both women died. Each leaving him a substantial amount of money. With his wives he had three children, of which two died in childhood. Clearly he was a lawyer and a thinker and his wife was a socialite. Their whole way of living, lifestyle, and house captured a by-gone era. One of which is worth exploring. 

The William Paca House is an 18th-century Georgian mansion in Annapolis, Maryland. William Paca was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and a three-term Governor of Maryland. The house was built between 1763 and 1765 and its architecture was largely designed by Paca himself. The 2-acre walled garden, which includes a two-story summer house, has been restored to its original state.

The William Paca House and Garden was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. The Paca House is a Georgian five-part house.

The brick structure comprises a central 2-1/2 story block on an elevated basement, flanked by symmetrical 1-1/2 story end pavilions, connected to the central structure by 1-1/2 story hyphens. The interior is a center hall plan with two rooms on either side of the hall. Original woodwork remains only in the central hall, stair hall and the west parlor, including the stair's original Chinese Chippendale balustrade.

The house and grounds were eventually acquired by the Annapolis Hotel Corporation, and the house became the lobby and conference rooms for a new hotel constructed in the garden immediately to the rear. The hotel, known as "Carvel Hall," opened with two-hundred guest rooms in 1906. But, by 1964, a mixed-use development was proposed for the site that would have demolished the house and the hotel, putting high rises in its place. 

After the plans to demolish Carvel Hall became public, the house was acquired by the Historic Annapolis Foundation and the surrounding property (garden) was acquired by the State of Maryland in 1965. The additions were removed in 1966-67 and ownership was transferred to the Maryland Historical Trust.
It is hard to believe that a hotel, and a large one at that, once sat on top of these gardens. Our wonderful guide today, told us that Carvel Hall was once a very vibrant and sought after hotel. I can't even imagine the amount of research, cost, and effort that went into restoring the house and garden back to its original form. 
Within the stepped down gardens, I snapped a photo of Peter with his parents. 
Peter and I in front of a very large holly bush! Something about this tree just reminded me of Christmas.

After exploring the house, we had lunch by the water at Sam's on the Waterfront. We had an incredible view of the water and boats, and the beauty of the space was the lack of noise and crowds. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2004. Mattie was two years old and as you can see full of energy, smiles, and fun. Mattie just loved his trains and would set up tracks and trains anywhere... the tables, the floor, etc!!! At one time our home was filled with lots of activity and toys, and I will never forget the awful feeling when this energy was taken from our home. Not because Mattie got older and became a teenager, but because he died from cancer.

Quote of the day: One person caring about another represents life's greatest value. ~ Jim Rohn

Peter and I took his parents today to the Old Ebbit Grill, a DC landmark. After which we walked to the Renwick Gallery and saw an exhibit entitled, "Murder Is her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death." Lee's nutshells look like dollhouse-size crime scenes. 

Now you may think this whole notion is macabre, but if you like crime drama, or like reading murder mysteries, this exhibit is for you. In fact, I passed at least four people today in the exhibit who truly put their sleuth hats on to try to piece together the story behind the visual nutshell crime scenes on display. I actually loved listening to a few people and one duo even included me into their discussion. I am a HUGE Columbo fan, so this exhibit was really right up my alley. 

As the Washington Post mentioned in their "Can you solve this grisly dollhouse murder" article..... the grisly dioramas made by Frances Glessner Lee look like the creations of a disturbed child. A doll hangs from a noose, one shoe dangling off of her stockinged foot. Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned. A third lies in bed peacefully … except for her blood-splattered head. There’s no need to call a psychiatrist, though — Lee created these works in the 1940s and ’50s as training tools for homicide investigators. Lee, who died in 1962, called her miniatures “nutshell studies” because the job of homicide investigators, according to a phrase she had picked up from detectives, is to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell."  She became the first female police captain in the country, and she was regarded as an expert in the field of homicide investigation. When Lee was building her macabre miniatures, she was a wealthy heiress and grandmother in New Hampshire who had spent decades reading medical textbooks and attending autopsies. Police departments brought her in to consult on difficult cases, and she also taught forensic science seminars at Harvard Medical School, Atkinson says. Lee painstakingly constructed the dioramas for her seminars, basing them on real-life cases but altering details to protect the victims’ privacy.

This is an example of one of her nutshells. Each of the 19 nutshell structures was given a title. This one was called... "three room dwelling" (with this depicting only one of the rooms).

It's hard to see the details (of which there are MANY) but for example.........

1. Lee used red nail polish to make pools and splatters of blood.

2. Lee crocheted the tiny teddy bear near the fallen chair, so that future investigators might wonder how it landed in the middle of the floor.

3. The pattern on the floor of this room has faded over time, making the spent shotgun shell easier to find.

4. Lee knit the bureau runner and sewed the toy chairs on it in this exact state of disarray.

5. The bedroom window is open. Could it be a sign of forced entry?

The exhibit was fascinating, not to mention so was the life of Frances Lee. You come away from this exhibit asking...... what kind of life did she lead? Why was she so fascinated by murder and the investigation process? In fact, I would say the exhibit left you with more questions than answers. They did a good job displaying the dioramas and sign posting information about the case being depicted. What the exhibit fell short on was..... application! How have Lee's dioramas transformed the modern day investigation process? Walking us through one example would have been helpful. Instead, I had to come home and do research to find out that investigators even today use dioramas. Because you don't want a first time investigator seeing a real crime scene without preparation. The nutshells provide training on observational skills and critical thinking. As Lee would most likely say.... It’s not about solving the case. It’s about knowing the systematic approach. The beauty of this exhibit is the viewer has the opportunity to become a first time investigator.... where we look in on a crime scene and are given minimal information. The creativity to solve the crime now falls into our hands, and frankly I noticed two different patterns of attendees. Those who immediately came up with scenarios and hypotheses for what they saw, and then others like me, who tried to take it all in before jumping to conclusions. The exhibit is free and worth a visit.

November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tonight's picture was taken in November of 2007. Mattie was five years old and we were standing on the walking bridge that takes you into Roosevelt Island. I would know this bridge anywhere. Mainly because we walked there practically every weekend with Mattie. In fact, we took Sunny there yesterday, as he helps us continue the weekend tradition we established years ago with Mattie. When Mattie was a baby he looked more like Peter, but as he became a preschooler I think you will agree, he looked exactly like me. 

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

Today the William Tell Overture should have been playing in the background of my every move! It would have perfectly captured the frenetic pace I was working under. Peter and I started the day early by taking Sunny for grooming. While Sunny was being groomed, we ran from one store to the next. Then picked up Sunny and took him for a walk at Huntley Meadows. This was a first for Sunny! He absolutely loves walking in the woods, so it was the highlight of our day to see his reaction!

Despite how chilly it was today, the park was beautiful!
Dogs are not allowed on the board walk at Huntley Meadows, but there was plenty of woods to walk through that made it fun for Sunny.
The board walk is a beautiful experience, as it meanders through the water and you have the opportunity to see vast numbers of water fowl. We did this many a time with Mattie, but with Sunny it isn't possible. 
Sunny was not happy that he wasn't allowed on the board walk! You may not be able to tell, but Sunny just came from being groomed and had an adorable Thanksgiving bandanna around his neck. 
The ducks were happy!
While walking with Sunny, he leaped into this pile of leaves. Why? Because he saw a snake! Do you see its brownish head between the stick and the base of the tree?
Do you see the snake's body? Well Sunny most definitely did! Sunny loves anything that scurries around on the ground. He will run after squirrels, rabbits, rats, and now apparently snakes. 

Peter's parents arrive tomorrow and we set up a second mattress in Mattie's room. As soon as this bed was made up, look who helped herself! Got to love Indie! Both animals know something is up, and they are exhibiting a mixture of curiosity and anxiousness!