Moving to Alaska was scary. Not because of bear, moose, or the cold, but because we were leaving the BEST community in Homestead, Florida. I had 30+ friends (more like sisters) that I could call on if I ever needed anything. My kids had an abundance of tias y tios too! When we arrived in Alaska God made it very clear he would give us this kind of community here too. The homeschool groups up there were full of great women! Hannah was a woman I met early on and her support after LJ was diagnosed meant so much to us. Their family watched Dolce and Zoe (my mom’s dog) for 130 days, when they thought they would have them for 7…the length of our Make A Wish trip.
Then you have Armstrong Circle. We just so happened to be placed on the best street that JBER military housing had to offer! The kind where there are kids running around all the time, bikes everywhere, and you have to disconnect your doorbell because kids ring it so much to ask if Emmaleigh can come out and play! We would have coffee every Tuesday morning at someone’s house and they (not this warm homeschooler) would walk together to pick their kids up from school. I grew especially close to Tiffany and her family, her daughter Summer was even patient enough to teach Em how to ride a bike!
We rented a house with Tiffany, her husband, and girls in Willow, Alaska on Labor Day weekend! It was the best family vacation! On the way up we stopped at a Walmart and bought LJ his beloved “driver,” his green dune buggy power wheel. We knew with Emmy being a brand new bike rider, the girls would be on wheels during the weekend and wanted LJ to have some too! There was a perfectly muddy long driveway for lots of bike and driver riding!
The kids played hard all weekend! There was a creepy dugout in the backyard, tons of board games (3, 5-6 year old girls were so patient with wild LJ), campfire with smores, and 3 little girls in one small twin size bed. Their choice, there were three more! We visited Talkeetna, AK, saw Denali from afar, and the sweetest bunnies. I am still shocked no one took one home, thank you base housing for your rules!!
We hiked Hatcher’s pass that weekend too! It is so beautiful and definitely one of my favorite places in Alaska! The drive from Willow to Hatcher’s Pass was also stunning!
While coming down, a beautiful picture was taken of my boy and I! Probably the least flattering in every way, except the joy on my face and the precious hand I am holding! Mama’s…PLEASE allow yourself to be in the photos, no matter what! You might think you don’t look your best, or whatever, but the little people around you think you are their entire world. They could care less what you look like as long as you are present with them! I knew good and well I looked like a stack of tires or a ninja (obviously the ninja) in that super tight under shirt, but it kept me warm, which kept me outside enjoying my kids and the beauty that is Alaska!
Coming down from the mountain, LJ took a killer Tula nap!
On the way back we stopped on the side of the road, climbed up a mountain a bit and picked blueberries! Another Alaskan bucket list time crossed off!
We were doing super normal things too, like joining a wonderful new homeschool co-op, Em’s starting a dance class, and joining an American Heritage Girl’s troop! After 7 months of this diagnosis, normal felt so good!
LJ also bought a camper! We were in the business of making all the memories possible! We love to camp and tent camping is possible but challenging (hello cold and BEARS) in Alaska, so we found an adorable camper and scooped it up!
In Anchorage, Halloween gets to come a little early with an event called “Trick or Treat in the Heat.” The event was started as a block party to allow a terminally ill 5 year old to experience one last Trick or Treat as his cancer was rapidly progressing. Man could we relate. I cried so many times at this event as I watched our little boy trick or treat for what could have been his last time.
There is nothing better than watching LJ run.
It was time to fly back to Cincinnati and this would be our first “quick trip.” We were going just to do bloodwork, an EKG, and get a refill of medication. LJ and I flew overnight on a Tuesday and returned to Anchorage mid day on Friday. Each way was about 8 hours of time in air and at least 2 hours worth of layovers. It took around 12 hours one way to get to Cincinnati, not to mention the 4 hour time zone difference. It was so much travel but LJ was the plane ride champion!
This trip we also got to see the Wolf’s! And LJ and I stayed in Mt. Adams, where we lived when we were in Cincinnati for the summer. We enjoyed his superman ice cream from UDF and a view!
When we returned home, we took the camper out for the first time!
We also celebrated Dakota Berrios’ life with our neighborhood friends! Dakota is one of our closest friend’s baby who was born on Talk Like a Pirate Day to a doughnut loving mama!! Hours after he was born Dakota passed due to kidney complications. When Dakota passed, LJ was 4 months old. It was heartbreaking to watch my best friend lose her baby boy while I held mine. As we celebrated Dakota’s life 3 years later, we were being told we had months left with our baby boy. I know God gave me Dakota to help with LJ’s diagnosis and I was so grateful.
We ended the month prepping for an epic family vacation! Back to Orlando, Florida to see the Mouse… this time on land and SEA!!!