Now THIS is summer!

Oh, boy... what a difference a year makes!  After asking me how Becca was doing the other day, someone pointed out to me that I really needed to update the blog.  Sorry it's been since the end of May, but as I've said in the past, when you are not getting frequent updates, that is a sign that things are going well.

Unlike every other school kid in America, Becca was really sad for the school year to end and for summer to begin at the end of May.  She was just getting going!  Becca's pretty excited about starting back to school a few weeks before Lily, since she will be attending a math program at school to help her build some math skills she is lacking.  Lily is gladly letting Becca think she is "winning" by getting to go back earlier. :)  Oh, I forgot to mention field day at the end of the school year.  Becca had a blast!  Here are some pictures of her enjoying the different events.  Seeing her so active and happy just makes my heart smile...

We've been keeping pretty busy doing fun things so far this summer, but I have to admit that it was a little nice to feel "bored" (outside the hospital!) at one point last week. We've been to the Kings Island water park many times, gone shopping, taken in the Butterfly Show at Krohn Conservatory, played a ton with friends and neighbors, took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit our nation's capital and spend time with cousins, had sleepovers with "in-town" cousins, attended lots of picnics, and we have just been enjoying the sun, water, and summer itself as much as possible.

What a fantastic long birthday weekend Becca has had! Two family parties and a skating party with friends (as well as LOTS of sweets) have kept her grinning for the last few days straight. I cannot believe she is seven years old! In some ways, I feel like she was just born, but it also seems like the last five years have been really long, and Becca has become a much more "wise" seven-year-old that she should be.  After last summer, I'm just ecstatic to celebrate another one of her birthdays with her.

Okay, I'm just going to lay it out for you... last summer SUCKED!  When I think back to it or look at pictures, I actually get a queasy feeling in my stomach and shivers down my spine. As a result, when people ask me if we are having a good summer, my response every time is, "Oh, yes!  It's fabulous (and so much better than last summer)!"

Our whole family is looking forward to our trip to the U.P. in a few weeks. While we were thankful and lucky to be able to go last summer, it was a totally different trip than normal.  Becca was on IV fluids at night (even while traveling up and back), and she was having bathroom issues, so we had to stop every 15 minutes.  In addition, she had a central line and couldn't get wet at the beach or on the boat.  Hanging over our heads the entire time was the knowledge that we were going to have a horrid 2-3 months ahead of us in the hospital following the trip, and to top it all off, there were no blueberries to pick!  Yes... that's my favorite thing to do there each summer.  This year, I'm not worried about any of these, except that maybe the blueberries will not be ripe for picking :).  Before we go north, though, Lily and Becca will both head to a six-day overnight camp at Camp Joy through Cincinnati Children's.  This will be their first time attending, and they are really excited to go together and do "campy" things.      

Healthwise, Becca is doing great!  The labs that were drawn during her last clinic visit at the end of June were terrific, and she is full of energy. On July 26th, she will be one year post-transplant, which is hard to believe.  Becca has done so much better than we had expected over the past year... surely a reason to celebrate and be thankful for all of the prayers.  She will go to the clinic on July 29th to have labs drawn, see Dr. Grimley (her bone marrow doctor), and have an EKG and echocardiogram.
For those of you who haven't heard, Ethan is going back to college to get his nursing degree from the University of Cincinnati. He had been thinking about it for over a year, and we decided that now is the time.  He thoroughly enjoyed and completed his first course at the end of June, and he will start with fall classes in August.  Ethan has also been enjoying the summer, which is something new.  Usually, he's working so much during high golf season, and last summer we were in the hospital, so having time to tend to his garden (the huge one he planted in our yard) and to do some canning has been a gift to him. I am amazed at the crops "Farmer Ethan" has brought in, and I am, of course, enjoying the meals he is cooking.

I will try to post the next blog update after our UP trip and Becca's clinic visit, so until then, I hope you are all having an enjoyable summer filled with family, friends, fabulous food, and fun!  I'll leave you with the pics below...

 Fun with the Virginia cousins at the pool

 Yes, I was on the other end of the teeter totter...

 A very wet 4th of July with Great Nana and Great Papa

Swimming buddies

 Our little firecrackers

In a cool tree in front of Krohn Conservatory before the butterfly show

 Cousin Ricky visited Soak City for the first time and LOVED it!

 Neighborhood "walk-in" movie night (that's Becca's cute hiney in the middle)

Sliding at the Dragonfly Foundation picnic... prior to the biggest water balloon fight ever

Roller Becca thoroughly enjoyed the skating party

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