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

March 31, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken on Easter of 2006. Mattie was four years old and we took him out for lunch at his favorite restaurant. Honestly Peter and I did not know that an Easter Bunny would be coming out to visit with Mattie. When Mattie saw this bunny coming his way, he got frightened. But I explained to Mattie that the bunny was there to wish him a happy Easter. I encouraged them to take a photo together, and I am so glad Mattie complied. It is one of my favorite Easter memories. Mainly because it just happened. We did not plan it. 

Quote of the day: We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. ~ Hilaire Belloc

The Ten Thousand Islands are a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida, between Marco Island and the Florida Keys. Some of the islands are high spots on a submergent coastline. Others were produced by mangroves growing on oyster bars. Despite the name, the islands n the chain only number in the hundreds.

The Ten Thousand Islands were used and occupied by Native Americans for thousands of years. Evidence of former living sites can be found under as much as four feet of water. A number of shell rings and other shell complexes have been identified in or adjacent to the Ten Thousand Islands. The material culture of the Indians living in the Ten Thousand Islands was distinctive enough to be classified as, at least, a sub-area of the Glades culture area.[

Almost all of the Ten Thousand Islands are currently uninhabited. The largest, Chokoloskee Island, which is connected to Everglades City by a causeway, has about 400 permanent residents. Other islands have been sporadically inhabited in the 19th and 20th centuries by individuals or families.

After dinner last night, on our drive back to the hotel we saw a HUGE Mattie Moon. 
Mattie Moon was following us last night. 
Peter and I got up at 6:00am this morning, so that we could leave the hotel by 7:30am to drive to Everglades City. It is about an hour drive. Naples is connected by a causeway to Everglades City. We had a 9am Everglades Area Tours, specifically a Boat Assisted Kayak Eco-Tour.

On our way to Everglades City, we were hit with intense SMOKE! 
In order to keep vegetation under control and also thriving in the Everglades, they do periodic scheduled burns! They literally lit the trees on fire. I have heard of this before, but have never driven through it! 
Get a feeling for the smoke? It is like intense fog, but with a horrible smell. 

Our tour guide was Captain Dan. He lives in Chokoloskee, the only island in the 10,000 island system. It is hard to describe Chokoloskee. It is like nothing I have ever seen. It is like the land that time forgot. Nothing around it on this .23 miles of land. Whatever these people need they commute up to Naples. Clearly a tight knit community, but a community which hasn't changed since the 1950's. Not my words, the words of Dan! 

So here is how this eco-tour worked. We got on a golf cart that took us to a pier. Then Peter, myself, and a family visiting from Germany boarded an open air boat (on the boat you can see the yellow kayaks we later used). The boat took us deeper into the 10,000 Islands. Something we couldn't possibly get to by simply kayaking. 

The Ten Thousand Islands are a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida, between Marco Island and the Florida Keys. Some of the islands are high spots on a submergent coastline. Others were produced by mangroves growing on oyster bars. Despite the name, the islands n the chain only number in the hundreds.

The islands are comprised of mangroves. A very tight network of salt resistant trees. Their root system is above water, and looks like a tangled mess. However, the trees release something like a seed, that eventually produces another tree. So the parent tree is connected to all its babies in this complex root system. 

The boat took us through the Islands. However, you have to know what you are doing on this water, because it is VERY shallow. In some places it is less than two feet deep. So you need an experienced captain who understands tides and the sandbars. He joked with us about tourists who think they can navigate these waters and land up stuck and struggling for hours. 
The boat took us to Rabbit Island. The boat anchored in the water, and then one by one we stepped from the boat into a kayak. Which could be a balancing act, but we all did it! Peter and I were in one kayak. Typically I don't like paddling alone, but this water was so CALM that I think even I could have managed it alone if I had to. 
Fortunately it was a cloudy day! It wasn't the best way to see these islands. But it spared us from getting burned to a crisp! 

We kayaked a bit, and Dan gave us some information about the shells in the water and the islands. We then got out of the kayaks at Rabbit Island and walked around. It was fascinating to visit an uninhabited beach. This whole experience was new to me. There was NO ONE for as far as the eye could see. It was totally peaceful and the people of Chokoloskee like it this way. The only thing all around us was birds. In fact the birds are not used to humans, so much so that they do not flinch when they see you approach. 

 A selfie on Rabbit Island!
This is a Mattie joke. When Mattie was in the hospital, he created a person made out of boxes and other art materials. He named the box person, Dr. Crazy Hair. Dr. Crazy Hair carried an oyster shell in his pocket. Mattie said that the oyster was really a big toe nail. 
Can you see the two people in the water? One was Captain Dan and the other was Peter. Literally the water is knee deep all around the island. They were looking at shells and so forth. 
While they were in the water, I was checking out these wonderful piping plovers on the shore line. Ironically, on any public beach, if you approach plovers they start to run. Not these guys!!!
This is what I could see from the shore line. Naturally today was an overcast day, so it impacted the color of the sky and water. But in a way, with the Gulf it is hard to determine where the sky and water line begins and ends. 
Can you see Mama Osprey on the nest. She was rearing three babies. Captain Dan was not a naturalist, but I really think the environment has rubbed off on him. The osprey and dolphins are his buddies, as he passes them daily by boat. 

Dolphin were all around us and like the birds, they are not at all afraid of people.
Peter and the horseshoe crab! He crab was NOT alive. 

These are the shells we took back from Rabbit Island. These are all big and intact shells. Shells you can't find by the ocean or on a public beach. The only time I have seen such perfect shells is in a shell store. 

I have to say that today's experience was very unique and unusual. I have never been to such a remote place before. It was very beautiful to see such unspoiled waters and a beach. It was very evident today that we were the visitors. In fact, Captain Dan considers himself a tourist on the islands too. Which I think is accurate. 

March 30, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken around Easter of 2005. We took Mattie to Bunnyland at Butler's Orchard in Maryland. Mattie loved going to this farm. In the fall, the farm did a wonderful pumpkin picking, tractor rides, and family festival. In the spring, they had an Easter egg hunt and other fun activities for the children. Mattie was all about running around, but he knew I always insisted on capturing the moment on camera. Fortunately he complied and now I am so glad we have these photos. 

Quote of the day: Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are. ~ George Eliot

Today we went to try something I never did before... a segway tour! I figured this would be a fun way to see Naples. The downtown area of Naples is charming.... from its cute shops, restaurants, and AMAZING homes. Huge homes but with architectural charm and character. 

In DC we have statues of elephants and donkeys, for the political climate. Here is Naples, their statues is the alligator! So Alli and I were holding hands in this photo!
If you have never been on a segway before, I would say it is an experience. An experience in balance. You need no upper body strength at all. All the motion is really with your body. We had great instructors today.... Brian and Taylor. 

Peter has been on several segway tours before. But for me this was novel, and since I am a risk averse person, I proceeded with caution. Peter shared this with the instructors and tour guides. One tour guide was literally with me the whole tour. Coaching me on the streets! It was helped tremendously. 

I haven't posted my training video that Peter took, but it was a riot. I guess I looked so serious, that the guide said to me.... remember you are on vacation and you are supposed to be having fun. I burst out with laughter and Peter's background commentary was priceless!

Taylor snapped a photo of us together! I admit I was the tail of the pack. Others did not mind zipping along! I went slightly slower, but still was able to keep up. 

I learned how to propel this thing forward, turn it, and break! Breaking was the hardest to get in my head. Because basically it involves the motion of trying to sit down in a chair!
For me, my goal was focusing on the segway itself. So I am not sure I took in all the sites like the average rider. But it worked and I would say it is a fun way to tour a flat town. We moved as fast as a bicycle, but did little physical work. 

Along our tour, we were able to take a break and walk the Naples pier. As you can see the beach was FILLED with people. 
After our hour tour, we went to eat along the water front. I just love the pelicans at the dock and all the boats. I am stunned how much Naples looks like Fort Lauderdale. On a smaller scale. It has water canals and a ton of boating. 

I took a photo of the yachts in the water. We are not talking small boats here!!!
Get the feeling...... lots of boats!
We ate at a restaurant pictured here called the Dock. Each day I have some sort of fish and the fish is incredibly fresh. 
After touring, we came back to the hotel. Behind the hotel is a .5 mile boardwalk that takes you to the beach (on the Gulf of Mexico). Walking the boardwalk is like taking a trail through a mangrove forest. 
This is what the beach looks like. You can't tell from this photo, but along the sand is wall to wall people. Not our scene! So we saw it and perhaps will try coming back out here after Easter. 

The Gulf!

Do you see that stepped down building on the right? That is our hotel.
On the hotel's property is a pond. Can you see the turtles basking in the sun? Mattie would have loved this!
However, check out what else lives in the pond.... a 6 foot alligator! Everything about today would have been thrilling to Mattie. From the Segway tour to the turtles and alligator!!!

March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken on Easter of 2004. Mattie was two years old. Every April we took Mattie to the US Arboretum. The azaleas are absolutely priceless there! Bushes upon bushes, for as far as the eye can see. I always told Mattie that the azaleas came out to celebrate his birthday. He loved that notion. Mattie could walk for a bit, but then without fail, would land up on top of Peter's shoulders. Notice the dandelions in each hand. Mattie never went on a walk empty handed. 

Quote of the day: Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen. ~ Louis L’Amour

We flew to Naples, FL today. We had an 8:30am flight, so we were up at 5am. It felt like a spirit to get away this time, but we did it. Fortunately we leave plenty of time to get to the airport, because even with TSA pre-check, things were very backed up. It took at least 25 minutes to get through security. My bag was flagged because I had a bag of dried fruit, that set off some sort of alarm. 

On our American flight we met a flight attendant who was absolutely superb. I told him he should be a training manager for flight attendants. He was detail oriented, cared about his passengers, and his professionalism showed. He told me he has been a flight attendant for thirty years, and he feels that passengers should be treated the way he would like to be treated. He made the flight for me.

We arrived in Florida around 11:45am. It was too early to check into the hotel, so we headed to a part of Naples called Tin City. This was our view over lunch!
This is a night and day difference from DC. We left DC and it was gray and foggy! Meanwhile it is in the 80s here. 
 Our lunch companion... a pelican. 
Tin City is known for its Florida gift shows. As we strolled through shops, Peter saw this plaque. It made both of us laugh. 
We drove down 5th Avenue of Naples. It is a smaller version of Rodeo Drive in California. Perhaps more affordable though than in Los Angeles. 
This afternoon we checked into our hotel. Our room is provides the closest water view in the hotel. It is a lovely view, and we are on the 11th floor. But the problem is below......
Given that it is Easter weekend and spring break for many, I can't tell you the noise that is coming into our room. There is a DJ by the pools and I literally feel like our room is part of a disco. It is that loud. 

I realize people LOVE noise! But why? You are surrounded by beauty and on vacation! Can't you just talk to who you came with!!?? Why must we be bombarded with sound??? I get away and need quiet in order to relax. So I have complained twice already and now awaiting a call from the hotel manager. Needless to say, management is going to get to know me this week. 

March 28, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2006. It was Mattie's fourth birthday party and it was the first party we held for him outside of our home. In fact, it was the first party in which we invited classmates from preschool. So it was a big deal. Mattie loved nature, so it only made sense to host a dinosaur themed party at Riverbend Nature Center in  Great Falls, VA. Mattie had a great time with his close friends from school.... they did a nature walk with a naturalist, had an excavation  experience in a big sand box where they dug through sand for plastic dinosaurs, they got to meet up close and personal animals of the forest like snakes and turtles, and of course there was food, cake, and a pinata. A Mattie favorite!

Quote of the day: Grieving the loss of a child is a process, it begins the day your child passes and ends the day the parent joins them. ~ B.J.Karrer

Living in Washington, DC, I feel like I am constantly reporting things left and right. Last week it was encampments and this week it is graffiti. I am not sure which I like least. Graffiti truly troubles me and I find it offensive, ugly, and defaces property. Unfortunately graffiti begets more graffiti. I report this wall, right in front of the State Department, at least once a year. I would report it more frequently, but DC's policy is they will not clean graffiti in weather 40 degrees or colder. So there goes the winter! But with spring emanate, I want this gone! Do you see the big MTC on the wall? How anyone thinks this is self-expression is beyond me. 

I have this view right outside my bedroom window. It is the wall in front of the Kennedy Center! Filled with graffiti. In all the years I have lived here, I have never EVER seen graffiti here. It is a wonderment how anyone even did this, as this is a ramp off a major road, onto Route 66. Cars are NOT moving slowly here!
Seeing a trend outside the Kennedy Center? The ugliness abounds and I reported all of it today. I am sure it will take another month or more before these requests are even addressed. 

Tomorrow we head to Florida. We need a break, because we are both working around the clock and with me the only way to stop working is to physically remove me from my work area. Tonight, our home seems a bit out of sorts without Sunny and Indie to fill it. Ironically I do not worry about Indie when she is boarded, because she is good natured and easy going. The one who troubles me when I am away is Sunny. He goes on a hunger strike and looks sad for the first couple of days until he adjusts to his surroundings. Dogtopia has webcams, which enables me to monitor how Sunny is doing while away. 

March 27, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 -- Mattie died 445 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in April of 2005. Mattie was turning three years old. For the first three years, we had all of Mattie's parties in our home. That year we had a Blues Clues party, as Mattie was in love with that TV character. Just like on the show, we had a treasure hunt to find clues so we could guess what Blue (a puppy) was thinking about! I also remember getting these great cakes for Mattie at a pastry store in Silver Spring, MD. Basically that store could design whatever themed cake you wanted and besides the cake looking wonderful, it also tasted great. We thought there would be many more parties in the future. 

Quote of the day: If it were not for hopes, the heart would break. ~ Thomas Fuller

On Thursday, Peter and I are leaving for Florida. We decided years ago to remove ourselves from DC around Mattie's birthday. We initially decided to do this for self preservation purposes. For as time moves on, so do people, and I can see that Mattie is no always on the minds of those who knew him. It is a sad reality. Mattie died at age 7. For many of his friends they really do not have a solid memory of him or their friendship. Though I recognize Mattie's friends from school they no longer recognize me. Not because I have changed in appearance but because we came into their lives when they were too young. 

I wonder at times what is worse, losing a young child in elementary school or losing a child who is in high school? A rather crazy question I know, because the response is...... both are bad. But I do think by high school, teens have a memory and they have friendships independent of their parents. It would be nice to have Mattie's friends as passionate as we are at keeping his memory alive. 

Which is why, we leave town. I am not sure what I expect otherwise. But I do know there are no parties, and no fun attached to April 4th. If Mattie were alive today, he would be turning 16 next week. It is a hard number to grapple with, especially since out of those 16 years, we only spent 7 with Mattie. Mattie has been gone more years than he was alive. Another sobering reality and though I am sure it is hard to nurture a teenager who is alive, it is even harder to nurture a child who no longer physically exists. 

Along with all these feelings I have, I can also become angry and resentful. I can get edgy when hearing about my friends' children..... their happenings, their thoughts about college, and the list goes on. Part of me wishes not to hear about these updates. Which isn't practical as this is part of friendship, and yet in the back of my mind I always wonder..... why Mattie? Why can't we be having these normal developmental conversations? I don't seem to be able to give up asking the 'why' questions regardless of the number of years that have passed.

So to the outsider observing us..... going away in April, seems like a nice vacation. Absolutely, it is a good change of scenery, but we aren't going away for vacation. In a way, it is going away for mental sanity and a diversion, while ultimately facing the inevitable..... another year without Mattie and all that comes with that.