Back in Cinci

Lily helping Poppa make blueberry jam

I loved the beach, even without my swimsuit

This was about the midpoint of our exhausting 10-mile hike around Craig Lake. My legs were tired from my chemo, so Mommy and Daddy carried me in a backpack the whole way.

How cool! We saw a couple of bald eagles on the Peshekee River and Lake Michigamme.

The "little housey" we stayed in during our vacation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - this is the Kniskern family cabin, built in the 1930s, on Lake Michigamme.

I loved the playground at the Lower Harbor in Marquette!

On "the rock" at sunset on Lake Michigamme...
Avery, me, and Lily on the newly re-anchored dock

Anja, Lily, and me on the famous Michigamme rock

One of the many beautiful sunsets we experienced

After eight fun-filled days in the UP, we're back! With temps in the mid-seventies and low humidity, it was perfect weather. We wore bug spray the entire time, and I escaped without any bug bites. Mommy has a theory that the bugs don't bite me because they don't like the taste of my chemo, but I'm not sure. Maybe it's just that I'm not that sweet! :o)

It was awesome to spend time with all of the Kniskerns. I was able to see my Great Nanna, Nanna B, Poppa, Great Uncle Jon, Great Aunt Laurel, (Uncle) Matt, (Aunt) Emily, and Anja. We had some great family dinners with traditional UP foods like pasties and cudigies and Uncle Jon's soups (not that I tried anything new), but everyone else seemed to enjoy them.

We took daily walks to the playground, picked berries (raspberries and Mommy's favorite, blueberries), swam at the beach and in the lake, fished, and played a ton. We were able to visit Great Uncle Jon and Great Aunt Laurel's new house (beautiful!), and we were even able to see Mason, Avery, Uncle Jon, and Aunt Renee the night before we left since they were staying in the cabin the next week.

The Tuesday after we returned from our trip, I had to go to clinic (in Clifton) for chemo. My ANC, platelets, hemoglobin, and white blood cell counts were all good, so they were able to go ahead with my Vincristine. Dr. Pope was a little concerned about my liver enzymes, though, as she said they were elevated again. The levels could be up as a result of chemo, as well as the Fluconazole that I'm on for my weird foot rash issues. She decided to pull that medicine from my nightly repertoire and test my blood again in two weeks. If my liver levels are still up, they might need to pull some of my chemo. You know, I wouldn't mind giving up a couple of my medicines... some nights I have to take seven syringes full of medication!

While in clinic, Mommy asked where I was on the growth charts because she was concerned that Anja (my 2 1/2-year-old third cousin in one of the pics above) was about the same height as me. I am four now, you know. Dr. Pope printed out the charts, and though I'm only in the 25th percentile for height, it's where I've been since starting treatment. For weight, I'm in the 75th percentile, and that's been steady, too. Dr. Pope said that there's no way of knowing how tall I would have been without treatment, but once I stop taking chemo, I might have a growth spurt in the first six months. The bodies of most kids my age are focused on growing, but mine is working to build new blood and marrow. Another stinky side-effect...

I had a really bad reaction to my chemo on Tuesday and terrible week on steroids. I so want to be done with all of this! I told Mommy I didn't want to do this anymore last week, but she said I have to have a "tubey" five more times. That doesn't sound like many more times, but you don't understand how painful it is to have a needle shoved in your chest and then a big sticker ripped from the sensitive skin there. Let me tell you, it sucks! This "nice" medicine, as Mommy calls it, is for the birds, too. I can't make up my mind about anything, I am mean (without even trying), and I'm hungry all the time, although I can't decide want I want to eat. It's quite frustrating! I also don't have much energy and I get hot very easily, so I don't want to swim or play outside.
December 17th, please come quickly!

This week, I'm gradually getting back into routines, but I'm testing everyone. It's not the chemo... it's just me being a toddler. We went to Kings Island on Monday, and I even rode my first roller coaster. That evening, we went to the Clermont County Fair, where we saw lots of animals, played games, and watched some of the tractor/truck pull. It was so cool! That was my favorite part of the evening. I jumped up and down, squealing with delight each time one of the trucks or tractors pulled that heavy sled. If I had taken a nap during the day, we would have stayed longer to see some of the really tripped-out vehicles race.

Well, I've gotta go... we're headed to the library for a puppet show!

Love and hugs to you all...


Brief updates

Don't forget to check out the video at the very bottom of this post!

Hippie me!

LOVE my big girl bed!

I built some cool sandcastles at the beach.

Look at me go!

My first 4th birthday celebration...

Lily and I on the beach...

Okay, so Mommy's been bad about updating my blog. I can't believe she hasn't typed anything for me since May 6th! So much has happened since then. Hmmm... where should I begin? In the name of efficiency, I'll just have her key in some bullet points to catch you up quickly:

  • The Butterfly Walk (our second) was again an amazing event! Though freezing cold and again very windy, we had a blast. Fifty wonderful people ended up joining our Becca's Believers team, and in the end it turned out that we were the second highest fundraising team, collecting $3,239 for CancerFree Kids! How cool is that?! Thank you to all of you who supported our team by donating or walking. I'm guessing that the event will be held on the Saturday before Mother's Day next year, so we hope you'll be able to join us.

  • Our new puppy Finn is getting much bigger. He is heavier and larger than me now, but I'm so vocal that he knows I am the boss. One of Finn's favorite pasttimes is to steal stuffed animals that I am carrying and run with them so that we all chase him while saying "Aannhhhhh!"

  • I'm not wearing diapers anymore! Wahoo! I know... I'm almost four years old, so it's about time, but please give me a break. I was nearly potty trained when I was diagnosed almost two years ago, but it's really difficult to lug an IV pole into the bathroom at the hospital every time you feel like you might need to go, and when I was on steroids for 30 days straight, I didn't want to get up for ANYTHING. In addition, the way that the chemo has affected my bowels is something I don't want to get into right now, but let's just say that it threw a wrench into Mommy and Daddy's plans to help me with potty training. Anyway... about a month ago, I decided that I wanted to go poopy on the potty so that I could have a big girl bed. Mommy and Daddy had tried every other bribe imaginable already. Though I loved my crib and didn't want to give it up until recently, I have had my eye on a lavender Tinkerbell toddler bed. I told Mommy I didn't want to wear diapers anymore, and there's been no turning back! I even gave all of my diapers to Kenlie next door, since I won't need them any longer (not even at naptime and bedtime). Mommy is keeping me on steady doses of Colace, and this has made it so much easier. I love how she gets so excited when I go poopy, and I make sure to tell her (as well as anyone else who is available) to come see every time I go. I'm pretty proud of myself, and I really can't wait to be "growned-up" (that's how I say it)!

  • Mommy, Lily, and I took a vacation to Myrtle Beach in the middle of June. Miss Kara and Emma were awesome hostesses, and they allowed us to stay with them in their condo. This year at the beach was so much better because I have a port! If you'll recall, I had a central line (external tube on my chest) last summer when we went to Myrtle Beach, and I had to try to stay dry so that my dressing didn't need to be changed. Yeah, right... EXACTLY! I'm becoming a good little swimmer with the help of my hot pink swim arms, and I am quite brave. During the trip I started putting my face in the water much more (without prompting and crying that I had water in my eyes). Unfortunately, I started experiencing some leg weakness during the trip, so I wanted Mommy to carry me a lot. Not too easy when she was trying to transport everything else under the sun to the beach and back... She ended up buying me a new stroller, and that helped a ton (although strollers don't work so well on sand, in case you weren't aware). The hardest part of the trip had to be the car ride there and back. Mommy and Miss Kara decided to leave at 3am to drive to Myrtle Beach, thinking we would sleep until at least 6 or 7am. That didn't happen, and Lily was already talking about being homesick 30 minutes into the trip. It took us 12 hours to get there with five stops. On the way home, Miss Kara and Mommy decided to leave at 6am, since they knew we probably wouldn't sleep anyway. We made good time getting out of the beach area (REALLY good time), but then we hit traffic, construction, and tons of potty breaks around the Asheville area. So... 13 hours and about seven or eight potty stops later, we made it home.

  • Since we've been back, Lily, Mommy, and I have been swimming a lot, going to story time at the library, and just having fun playing. Lily and I are finally starting to play together really well, at least until I ruin it by instigating an argument (sometimes just because I want to). Oh, yeah... I had a clinic visit on the day after Father's Day, too. I wiggled while Nurse Pam was trying to access my port, though, and so she had to stick me a second time in order to get the needle in the right place. Needless to say, I was a little angry, and I told Mommy that I was never ever going to do that again. I ask her all the time if it hurt when she was little and got her chemo, but I don't understand why she didn't have to get chemo (or take medicine like I do). Mommy asked Dr. Absalon about my funny gait (I had been almost limping again while we were on vacation), and he said that he sees it all the time in kids (even teenagers), and it's a result of the chemo. It's just leg weakness and almost looks like I am delayed in my development. I guess I need to continue my exercising. I also wrote my name for the first time during that clinic visit! I made a picture for Dr. Absalon, and I wrote my name perfectly. How cool is that?!

  • The best news of all... I am turning four this week! Yes, my birthday ("my Tinkerbell birthday," as I refer to it) is coming. I cannot wait! Mommy and Daddy already gave me a big present, and I thank them for it every day. I have a new, "big girl" bike and helmet. I want to ride it constantly, and I'm wearing down the concrete on the sidewalk between our house and the Bachmans'. The morning after I got the bike and rode it for two hours straight, I opened Mommy and Daddy's door at 6:15 am, telling them that the sun was up and I wanted to ride my bike. I don't understand why they didn't think it was a good idea...

  • The final bit of news is that we are leaving for a vacation in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula) in Michigan in a few days. The last time Lily, Mommy, and I went, I had just turned one and didn't walk yet. We're all looking forward to the trip, and Nanna B., Poppa, and Great Nanna are going to be there with us at the same time! There will be hiking, blueberry picking (Mommy's favorite), fishing (Daddy's favorite), swimming (if the water's not too cold), and lots of family time. I hear I might even get to see Uncle Matt, Aunt Laurel, Uncle Jon, and perhaps Aunt Emily and Anja. We are taking lots of bug spray, 'cause I hear that the state bird of Michigan is the mosquito.

I hope you are all having a good summer and this post finds you happy and healthy! I will update you sooner the next time...

Love and hugs,

I thought I would leave you with a laugh...