October is one of my favorite months of the year because it is the month of EMMALEIGH! Most of the time you can find us in Disney World celebrating our birthday girl at some point during October but this year she spent her birthday on a homecoming parade float! She has become quite the little cheerleader and loves the sport just as much as her Mama! She was so excited to share cupcakes with her teammates the night of the parade, but I think her favorite part was seeing her brother in the parade crowd and throwing him candy!
Next up was her birthday party! 2017 she spent her birthday in Alaska with all her new friends from the neighborhood and had the best party. 2018 she spent her birthday in the Bahamas aboard a Disney Cruise. 2019 I wasn’t shocked at all when my little social bug had a house full of kids after only living in Ohio for 9ish months. She wanted a luau in October and she helped me plan every detail of her party! She wanted certain games, specific food, and was very serious about her two tiered cake with a dolphin jumping out the top. Em already has the greatest group of friends here in Ohio!
A few days after Em’s party we were able to have some fun in the most gorgeous Ohio fall weather! We went to Young’s Dairy farm with Carrie and Stephanie. The kid’s loved everything! The wagon ride, corn maze with surprises, spending way too long picking out pumpkins, hanging with the farm animals, and the adorable little trailer bucket things were all highlights of the day! My favorite part was watching them roll and rolling them in these black tube things in the middle of the corn maze!
LJ had clinic on the 10th, a simple appointment with bloodwork, EKG, and waiting on meds. This appointment was a fasting appointment and the first one at Cincinnati where they failed to access his port the first time. It took two times. LJ was a trooper through it all. The nurses however, were struggling. The first that attempted the access and failed backed away while the other stepped in and got it done but her hands were shaking the whole time. I only go into to detail about this incident because you could tell these nurses cared. They valued LJ’s comfort, felt horrible, and worked quickly to find a solution to the problem.
LJ started cycle 18 and we were on our way!
LJ was set to start another round of chemo and now I could go out of town for a short ladies’ retreat! I’m part of an incredible workout group called The Ladies Edge and was really looking forward to meeting some of my online friends in real life! See back in June, well the last day to buy tickets was the first week of May, I had the opportunity to go to a ladies’ event with this group but I let fear of the future hold me back. I couldn’t bring myself to buy a ticket for June when LJ had an MRI at the end of May. There were so many what ifs…what if his tumor grew? What if we had to change his treatment protocol? What if I couldn’t leave him? So I decided not to go. When the tickets were released for the October retreat I probably was the third person to buy one! LJ had a great MRI at the end of May and the next one wasn’t until the beginning of November. It was the “perfect time” to go and I really needed a weekend of me time. Caring for a family full time is hard work. Caring for a family alongside a cancer diagnosis is exhausting. It was really nice to be around like minded women and be Christina. Not Christina Barnes, LJ’s mom, cancer mom. So I slept in a tent with a complete stranger in 30 degree weather and had the best time! I made so many good friends and memories that weekend.
I returned home to a happy, perfect, and normal little boy and an awesome little girl who held down the fort for the boys while Mama was away. October was such a good month health wise for LJ. He was basically symptom free and just an absolute joy. He even attended a friend’s birthday party at a trampoline park. Bouncing around just like the rest of the kids. You would never know LJ had a brain tumor, much less battling the monster that is DIPG. Watching him do things that other four year olds can do at 20 months post diagnosis is all the proof I will ever need that God works in mighty and wondrous ways.
We of course ended October with some Halloween fun! Emmaleigh found a beautiful Cleopatra costume and LJ had requested to be a gorilla-dinosaur. We got a little creative but gave the boy what he wanted and he roared for the rest of the month! We went to a super cute event at Wegerzyn Gardens to debut their costumes!
We were able to visit our friend’s farm, The Good Life Farm, and do all the fall things! Corn box, corn maze, the longest hayride ever, and even picked pumpkins off the vine for the first time! It was a wonderful day with beautiful weather and even more gorgeous memories.
We put off carving pumpkins until the day before Halloween, just like last year. I’m still not sure who decided that carving pumpkins would be fun tradition to start but man is it a lot less fun and a lot more work when you are a parent! lol! I will say this year was the most fun we’ve had with the kids! They picked simple designs and Em did most of her pumpkin carving on her own! LJ did not love touching the pumpkin guts but was as helpful he could be and everyone was excited to see the finished products!
Waking up Halloween morning, kind of felt like Christmas morning. The kids were both so excited to celebrate such a fun holiday! It was costume and candy day! I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to get both of my kids ready and go trick or treating again. We had plans to go trick or treating with our neighbors and good thing we did because the weather might have kept us in otherwise. It was freezing and so windy! We bundled up (thank you Alaska for preparing us for frozen tundra type weather), still somehow managed to have the kids costumes showing, and headed out the door! Right into SNOW!!! The first snow of the year is so much more magical when you are going from house to house and getting candy! The kids loved it and despite being cold, they were such troopers, and had a blast! After a hour they were finished and ready to go inside and dig into their candy. We changed it up this year and let them eat as much as they wanted. After about 10 or so pieces we found Em munching on an apple! Girl loves her fruit. It was such a great night with friends and all our kiddos!
Another beautiful month full of such good memories. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the battle we are facing, other times the thoughts of this tumor laying silently in our baby’s brain is deafening. After a few months of rest and normalcy we were one week away from MRI day. The scanxiety was settling in. This scan would determine what our holiday season would look like…