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

December 31, 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in January of 2009. We took Mattie out for lunch and Peter snapped this photo of us. I would say we looked very much alike, but besides the physical appearance, we had similar personalities too! 

Quote of the day: Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I am posting a few photos from Christmas day aboard the Crown Princess ship. Connectivity at sea was awful and I was unable to upload photos to the blog. This is the ship's piazza. It was a lovely three story atrium that had everything from shops, music, to cafes! 
That night they had a balloon drop to celebrate the holiday!
This is the first cruise I have been on where passengers decorated their cabin doors! 
I give these folks credit for packing this candy cane!
Mattie would have gotten a big kick out of seeing all these doors!
A Christmas stocking for everyone!
Santa was well represented. The ship even had Santa visit the children in the piazza on Christmas day. Every possible activity to celebrate Christmas was included on the ship!
A poinsettia beauty. 
The ship had two formal nights! So in addition to packing for the time away, you have to give thought to formal wear. Peter snapped this photo of the three of us. 
The sunsets in the Caribbean are amazingly beautiful!
I captured Mattie Moon over Dominica. I couldn't get over how the moon shed light over the island and the water. 

December 30, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. We took Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens and after our visit there (to see the plants and holiday trains) we walked around the grounds of the Capitol. I am so happy Peter captured this photo of Mattie and me, as it appears to be the perfect Washington, DC holiday moment. A moment, which I remember like it were yesterday. 

Quote of the day: Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. ~ Zuzu Bailey

Our day started at 6am in order to commute home. Though Florida and DC are NOT far apart from each other, thanks to American Airlines, we had to have a layover in Charlotte, NC. So what should take 2.5 hours, took us over 6 hours to fly home!

This was our view of the Fort Lauderdale harbor at take off. There were 7 cruise ships in port, which means about 21,000 people were disembarking and another 21,000 people embarking all in one day. The airport was a zoo and truly can't accommodate the volume of people. Neither one of us was feeling great on the plane today, but it only got worse as the day wore on. 

Peter captured this passage of water, because we literally were traveling on it two weeks ago when our cruise began. It is the passage from the port out to sea. 
Now this is where all the fun began, as we were in the airplane over Charlotte, about to land, Peter started vomiting on the plane. I wish I could say that is where it ended, but it did not. Peter then vomited for the next three hours during our layover in Charlotte. Our flight was delayed for 90 minutes and it was a blessing because I don't know if we would have made our connecting flight as Peter's condition wasn't stable. For three hours in the airport, we stayed in this location, close to a bathroom. What I was looking at was a mobile of vehicles. 

We are finally back in DC, but neither one of us is feeling well. Peter is still queasy and now running a fever and I still can't hear out of my ears as they are clogged from congestion. Descending twice in an airplane today made my ear congestion even worse, if that is possible! I haven't been able to hear now for over a week. So I am signing off for tonight as this doesn't look like the start of a good New Year for us. 

December 29, 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. Mattie came with us to Peter's holiday office party. Mattie had a great time and everyone got a kick out of him. It appears that Mattie was posing for a picture with Santa. But Santa is actually a man named Steven, who looks just like the jolly fellow from the North Pole. For years, we all got a chuckle looking at this photo. 

Quote of the day: With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

We visited Butterfly World today. This is a park we used to take Mattie to each time we went to Fort Lauderdale. It opened in 1988, and is the largest butterfly park in the world, and the first park of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The facility houses around 20,000 live butterflies.
After retiring from a career as electrical engineer, Ronald Boender started raising butterflies and their food plants in his home in Florida. In 1984 he established MetaScience to help supply farmed butterflies to zoos and universities. After having visited England in 1985, where he met Clive Farrell (founder and owner of the London Butterfly House), he decided to create his own facility in Florida. Boender and Ferrell entered into partnership and started planning the facility, which was to be a public attraction, but also a research facility and a butterfly farm.

This is the elusive Blue Morpho butterfly. When I tell you this butterfly doesn't sit still for a minute, I am not kidding! I caught him in mid-flutter!

Aren't they stunning!
To me this makes the perfect Christmas card! A butterfly sitting on a poinsettia bush! The beauty of Butterfly World is not just the butterflies, which are simply incredible, but the breath-taking vegetation, plantings, and classical music they pipe into the Paradise Adventure Aviary. 
The color contracts are eye catching and what you can't see from my photos are the hundreds of butterflies flying all around you as you walk along the pathways of the aviary. 
It's hard to believe this butterfly is for real!
This is the first year I remember seeing sugar water feeders around the aviary. This water attracted clumps of butterflies!
There were many children all around us today. It is the perfect venue for children, to stimulate their curiosity and need for hands on learning. Of course, seeing the children reminds me of our countless visits to this garden with Mattie. 
Can you get the feeling for the number of butterflies flying around?
This is the outside of a Blue Morpho butterfly. Rather ironic no? Brown on the outside and stunningly blue on the inside. 
A Blue Morpho butterfly flying by one of the charming benches in the aviary. There are quotes on every bench. This one says, "We will always have hope in our hearts."
Some of the amazing flowers all around us. What I did not effectively capture were all the butterflies within these plantings. 
The Wings of the World Secret Garden has one of the largest collections of flowering Passion Flower vines in the world. There are many varieties of these flowers. This is one type. 
Another Passion Flower. 
This is hard to see, but it is a burgundy colored passion flower. It is called a passion flower because different parts of the flower symbolize the death of Christ. For example, the five sepals and five petals of the flower represent Jesus' disciples. 
The Jewels of the Sky Aviary is where hummingbirds and other birds can be seen. Just like with the butterfly aviary, in this aviary, birds are flying lose. So it is fascinating to walk in and among them. 
Two cuties! 

We fly home tomorrow. I wish I could say I was feeling better, but I am still congested and can't hear much out of my ears. I am quite sure flying will do me in completely tomorrow. It is hard to imagine returning to gray and cold weather, while people in Florida have access to sunshine, greenery, flowers, and the ocean. 

December 28, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2007. Each Christmas season we took Mattie to the US Botanical Gardens. I am not sure what was more special..... seeing all the greenery, or the fact that it felt like you were walking into a humid hot house. It was delightful to the senses in the bleak winter. Mattie loved this plant representation of the US Capitol. 

Quote of the day: Each year's regret are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the new year. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today we visited Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. It is an 83-acre botanic garden, with extensive collections of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, flowering trees, and vines. The garden was established in 1936 by Robert H. Montgomery, who was an accountant, attorney, and businessman with a passion for plant-collecting. He named the Garden after his friend David Fairchild, a significant plant explorer. Fairchild's travels brought more than 20,000 plants to the United States, including mangos, alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, bamboos, and flowering cherries. David Fairchild retired to Miami in 1935, but many plants still growing in the Garden were collected and planted by him.

We started the Garden tour on a free tram tour. Fortunately the tour was free, because the sound speakers did not work on the tram and none of us could hear the guide talking to us for the 30 minute tour. Which was unfortunate. 

Do you love the bromeliad plants placed together to form a Christmas tree?
The beauty of the Gardens! The foliage is impressive, well taken care of, and peaceful. There are many ponds throughout the gardens which attract crocodiles and water birds. 
A butterfly house called "Wings of the Tropics" features exotic butterflies mainly from Central America, South America and Southeast Asia flying freely in the 25,000 square foot Conservatory. Butterflies are released twice a day in the morning and afternoon. Among them are longwings, Morpho, and owl butterflies. The USDA-approved facility has butterfly feeding stations, which include a variety of overripe fruits such as banana and mango. 
Inside the conservancy, we met and chatted with a volunteer who was lovely. Ann explained to us that the chrysalis of butterflies are shipped here. The butterflies mature in the chrysalis and once they hatch, they are released into the conservancy. However, she said that most of these butterflies only live 3 weeks at the most. 

Ann even explained that the butterflies expel a red liquid called meconium (the same sort of stuff that babies in the womb expel). This is a completely natural occurrence. Meconium is the leftover part of the caterpillar that was not needed to make the butterfly. This is stored in the intestine of the butterfly and expelled after the butterfly emerges.
The giant owl butterfly. You can totally see how it got that name!
The stunning Blue Morpho. He was elusive and really did not want to be photographed. But I was patient. 
 Do you see this cute hummingbird? 
One of my favorites!

There is a concrete walkway leading around the landscaped enclosed area where we walked freely among the butterflies. There is a triple sets of doors that minimize the risk of escape of any of these butterflies that do not belong to the local fauna.

This glass creation is called End of the Day Tower and was created by the American glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. In the sunlight, it is absolutely stunning, colorful, and seems to blend in with the vegetation.
My mom and I posed with a statue of Marjory Stoneham Douglas. Marjory is considered Florida's most celebrated environmentalists. She fought to protect the everglades and Florida wildlife.

December 27, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2008. Mattie's kindergarten art teacher designed this special wreath for him. What you can't see was that on each green leaf there was a message written from classmates of Mattie's. For year's this wreath hung on the back of our front door. It was a visual reminder of all the people behind Mattie and us. It was a horrific time and at the same time, we got to see the inner beauty of people. People who did not really know Mattie or us, and yet went to great lengths to make our quality of life better. 

Quote of the day: My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. ~ Bob Hope

We are safely back to the USA. We landed at the port of Fort Lauderdale at 7am. I have to say that being back in the the States is a wonderful feeling, especially when you are not feeling well. As soon as we got off the ship, I called my doctor and also went to the nearest CVS. Luxuries that I take for granted on a daily basis. 

I would have to say this has been the rainiest Caribbean cruise we were ever on, and currently it is pouring in Fort Lauderdale. We just can't seem to escape the rain! Though back on land, it takes me days to acclimate to being on solid ground as my entire body still feels like it is floating like a cork in the ocean. For people who get seasick/motion sick like me, you know what I mean when I say I need to continue to take dramamine for five days on land, until I get the ship's motion completely out of my body! 

While I am writing this blog, I could hear our ship's horn blowing in the distance, alerting me to the fact that new passengers are now on board, and the ship is leaving. It is quite a reality to know that every day of the year, someone is on a cruise. In fact, there were two passengers on our ship, that practically lived on a Princess Cruise for 8 years! Not sure how they managed that in all reality, because the confines of the ship get to me after a few days. 

What always fascinates me about cruising is the crew itself! It is a floating United Nations, as practically every Country in the world is represented in the crew. I always find it interesting to hear about the lives of the crew and why they chose to work on a cruise ship. I heard countless times on this trip that the income that can be earned on a ship is 12 TIMES more than if the person worked in their own country. Though we deem what they do to be hard work, and it is, the crew is very happy for the work. As it provides for their families and after their six months contracts, they can return home for three months of vacation at a time. 

If you have ever been on a cruise, then you know that the service on the ship is amazing. Every one is there to make your experience as pleasant as possible. It is a level of service that unfortunately we no longer see in our US service industry. In a way cruising is like going to Disneyland for adults.

The highlight of our cruise was our afternoons in the ship's sanctuary. This is a private space on the ship, where you are assigned a deck chair. The space is quiet, no children are allowed, and there are no outdoor movies and loud music playing. It is simply peaceful, where you can see and hear the ocean. In addition, at 3pm each day, they serve high tea with fresh scones, cookies, sandwiches and pastry. If only 3pm everyday could look like a sanctuary day!
I took a photo of my parents everyday in the Sanctuary. My dad was sleeping and my mom was enjoying a scone! I think the scones with clotted cream and fresh jam were one of her afternoon favorites! 
The last night of every cruise, Princess Cruises does a presentation of a baked alaska. Which is an ice cream cake treat. They shut the lights in the restaurant, and then literally you see a parade of baked alaskas being carried by waiters walking around the restaurant to music.
Pictured in the front row, from left to right: my dad, Veronica (our assistant waiter) and me

Pictured in the back row, from left to right:

Nelson (head waiter), Peter, Remus (waiter), and my mom

Remus and Veronica were a dynamic duo and really tried hard to cater to all our needs. Remus is from the Philippines and Veronica is from Peru. 

We had a very rocky night at sea, and between that and being congested, it has made sleeping very difficult! 

This morning, Peter went up to the top deck and snapped some photos of Fort Lauderdale harbor. 
This would have been a sight Mattie would have loved to see. He was a big fan of draw bridges. So this photo is for Mattie. 
The above photo of the bridge was taken from the ship. Once we were on land, we experienced another side of the draw bridge! 
This afternoon we went for a walk and along our journey we came across this wonderful 1957 Bel Air, all decorated for Christmas. Another Mattie favorite!