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A Summer to Be a Kid

It is hard to believe that the end of summer is here– and what a wonderful, normal summer it has been for Julia!

Once school ended, Julia began summer camp at the Malvern School. Back to swimming lessons, field trips and lots of fun with her friends. On Wednesday afternoons, Mrs. Russo came to tutor Julia so she could catch up with the school work she missed this past year. Julia also took a dance class on Thursday nights. And of course, James was home from college so she had fun playing with and hanging out with her big brother.

At the end of June, Julia, Mom and Dad left for an 8-day Disney cruise out of New York City. Leaving out of NYC was so wonderful. As we sailed past the Statue of Liberty, Julia was able to tell us all about the gift from France since she just studied about it in school and had dressed the part at an end of year play.

We spent several relaxing days on the Disney Magic with Julia swimming and spending time in the Kids Clubs. During our cruise, we visited Atlantis in the Bahamas, where Julia got to swim with the dolphins! She was thrilled and had so much fun petting and hugging the dolphins.

Julia also had a special treat during the cruise. Julia wanted to meet all the princesses, so we went to a special princess gathering. Julia spent quite some time chatting with Cinderella and told us she was so nice. As we waited in line to see Belle, one of the Disney staff came over to us and said the “Cinderella was honored to meet your little Princess and would like to invite her to a special party”. The next day, Julia received an invitation to a special party to be held on the last evening at sea.

When we arrived at the party, all of the Disney Characters were there! Julia looked around for her new “Princess Friend” and there was Cinderella looking to see if Julia had arrived. Julia ran to her and gave her a big hug, thanking her for the invitation. They spoke quietly to each other, sharing some special secret, and then Cinderella stated, “I must have you meet my friends”. Cinderella promptly gathered her princess friends and brought Julia over to meet all of them at once. A priceless moment (the picture is uploaded). As we left the party, Julia was beaming. I asked her what they spoke about. Julia told me that she was telling Cinderella about how her hair was growing back and how sometimes people stared at her. Julia said Cinderella told her they looked at me because I am so beautiful. Julia smiled and said Cinderella told me I was the most beautiful girl she ever saw.

Later in the month of July, Julia had dental surgery to repair the damage to her teeth from the months of chemo. Our girl once again was so brave –taking the giggle juice and going into the OR for one extraction, two caps, three fillings, four root canals, and sealants. Julia also spent a week at the Ronald McDonald Camp in August. Leaving from CHOP, four buses of children who all have battled (or are still fighting) cancer and their siblings, traveled to the camp in the Poconos for a week of fun and just being kids. Julia found her friend Delany, from the King of Prussia oncology clinic, was also going to camp and they were able to go on the bus together (with Delany’s big sister). Since you have to be seven to go to camp, Julia and Delany were two of the youngest, but they were also two of the bravest ones, to go to camp.

After a very long week of missing our girl (we could send her two emails, but there were no phone calls – only a website with posted pictures from the day’s activities), Julia came home from camp. She was tired, but had an amazing time! She went canoeing, swimming, ran on an obstacle course and sang in front of the whole camp during the talent show. Julia can’t wait to go again next year.

So this weekend, we spent getting ready for Julia to go back to school. Julia was sad that the summer was already over, but excited to be entering 2nd grade. We talked about all the fun things she did this summer. When I put Julia to bed I always ask, “What was your favorite part of the day?” and she tells me about a special part of her day. Tonight, I asked her “What was your favorite part of this summer?” Julia did not hesitate in her response – “The best part was just being a kid this summer, not having anything else to do but be a kid”. She smiled, “So Mom, what was your favorite part of this summer?” Laying there in bed next to her, “Just being with you, Julia” – it has been a good summer.

So summer comes to an end and we are reminded of the “new” normal – September 17 Julia will have her second set of post chemo scans. But until then, let’s just have fun – the start of 2nd grade, swim clinics, play dates and John and Amanda will be coming home from Kentucky.

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