Heart so full

My hot little ragamuffin is the second from the right - the pic I took when I picked her up from Girl Scout camp today

The chirping of birds woke me up this morning, and as I lay in bed thinking about the upcoming day, I wondered if Becca was listening to the same birds at Camp Butterworth. She is (I'm sure) enjoying her first Brownie camp out, and just three years ago, I never thought this would be possible. I have an app called Shoebox that sends me "This week in history" emails occasionally, and recently those photos have truly humbled me. To see how sick Becca looked in 2012 and 2013 (and even 2014 compared to now!) fills me with so much gratitude for her current health. We were in such a deep valley prior to and during her bone marrow transplant, but an outsider looking in at Becca right now would not even know what our little fighter has endured. Constantly singing and dancing (I actually have to make her STOP to brush her teeth!), Becca's joy and sassiness continue to permeate our household.

Let me try to quickly catch you up since last October:

  • Halloween time - 
 Gotta have the Shaw Farm pics... we do it every year
A "pink goth" and witch

Celebrating with Great Nana at the Lodge
  • My grandmother (also pictured above) turned 90 years young in November, and we had an awesome celebration. Family and friends from around the country were able to make it in, and there were lots of smiles all around.
    My Great Aunt Joyce (who just earned her butterfly wings this past week), my Grandma, and Great Aunt Elaine
  • Local Firecrackers performances began in December but the traveling really kicked in and dominated our schedule starting in January with the Bulls game in Chicago. This year was eye-opening for us and challenging for our family to get everyone where they needed to be, but we would not trade the experience for Lily. She has become more responsible with her time, her grades have actually gone up, and she has learned that she LOVES to perform for large crowds. Who would have thunk it?! By far, Lily's favorite performance was UK, but she also enjoyed showing off for Bulls fans, IU, the Pacers, the Army/Navy in Annapolis and the Terrapins of University of Maryland (we were able to sneak in cousin visits), the Crosstown Shootout, and so many others! We feel very fortunate that Lily will continue to jump with the Firecrackers next school year, performing at who-knows-which venues and beginning the filming of the Firecrackers movie.
Lily and her big sis Ellie
  • Becca has continued with DramaKids during the school year, and her final performance will take place next weekend. She looks forward to seeing Drama Mama every Friday afternoon and cannot wait to be "Tilly" in the show. She also auditioned for Peter Pan Jr. a few weeks ago, and will be playing the part of Murphy the Pirate in the production this summer, while her cousin Avery has the lead of Peter Pan in the same play. It will be fun to see them perform together this summer.

 That's Becca with the infamous Drama Mama!
 Becca and her buddy Taylor (oh, and yes, that's Lily in the background)
  • Brownies has been a big hit with Becca this year, as well. The only reason she wanted to do Girl Scouts was to sell the cookies, but she has enjoyed so much more than that.
How could you say "no" to these faces?!

  • Becca's 2nd grade musical took place in March, and my face hurt from smiling by the end of the performance.
Becca absolutely LOVES Mrs. Bogard, and she has had a fabulous year in her 2nd grade class!

Becca's "starring" role

  • We girls decided mid-winter that we were fed up with the cold and dreary weather of Cincinnati. At the end of March, my mom and I took the girls on their first cruise, and they were fans (to say the least)! It definitely recharged our batteries and made the rest of the school year fly by more quickly.
     We were able to hang out with the Ward cousins in Orlando after the cruise for one night!
     Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach was a highlight of the trip
     Nana loves her granddaughters
     Our room had a great balcony and view
     Jamaican "Mama" and the girls
Our room steward was awesome, making the girls fun towel animals
  • Towards the end of the school year, I signed Becca up for jazz class, and she has truly enjoyed learning from Miss Gabby who tells me that Becca is a great "freestyle" dancer. Not sure what this means, but I'm thinking that she is implying Becca has her own style (not surprising). Next fall, she is anticipating joining the hip hop class, which I think will be a blast for her.
  • The Butterfly Walk this year was the BEST EVER! I have never seen Becca happier, and if you were there, you knew why. Not only did she design the shirt for the walk, but Becca's bone marrow donor/hero Matthew and his girlfriend Courtney joined our team for the first time, we had the largest team at the walk (over 100 friends and family members!), Becca's Believers received first place in fundraising, and it was an absolutely beautiful day! Thank you so much to all of you who walked/ran with us or donated to CancerFree KIDS for the Butterfly Walk! Our team raised over $7,300 this year, and since we started doing the walk in 2009, Becca's Believers has raised almost $32,000! All of that money goes toward pediatric cancer research to help find a cure. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a yearly celebration of life, rather than this walk each spring?!
Though I took lots of pics, this is my favorite!

So, as I said in the post title, my heart is so very full! Becca's clinic appointment on Friday was the fastest ever (we were out in 90 minutes, which is unheard of!). Dr. Absalon thought she looked great, her labs were perfect, and he is comfortable moving us to once every six months visits. To go from every four to every six months may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but for us (especially Becca, who gets labs drawn each time prior to our visit), it is HUGE! We are supposed to see Dr. Grimley, Becca's bone marrow doctor this summer, since the end of July will mark three years since her life saving transplant (THANK YOU again, Matthew!!!).  

Driving home from my parents' home this evening with Becca, I once again teared up looking in the rearview mirror as I watched her singing along with the music (yes, I have the mirror focused on her, rather than the cars behind me, since she is so much more entertaining). She just looks so beautiful, as well as happy and healthy, and I feel such gratitude for the gift of her and so much more in my life...

The pic doesn't do her justice, but I snapped it at a stoplight anyway


It's not too late!

One more day to save $5! Please join us this Saturday, May 9th, for the 9th Annual Butterfly Walk and 5K for CancerFree KIDS! In case you weren't aware, Becca designed the t-shirt for the walk this year, and her bone marrow donor Matthew is joining our team. For more information or to register/donate, go to www.butterflywalk.com orhttps://runsignup.com/beccasbelievers2015 . Be sure to list "Becca's Believers" as the team and "Trisha Kniskern" as the captain so that your contribution or registration goes towards our team. Let's continue to celebrate Becca's (and so many others') strength, courage, and resilience while supporting an awesome organization with a critical mission! Also, listen to the Scott Sloan show on WLW tomorrow morning, as Becca is being interviewed with Ellen Flannery, the founder of CancerFree KIDS!

Photos from the walk (and an update on what's new) coming soon...