Another spectacular day…

here in Colorado!

The view from this 11,500 ft alpine lake was absolutely breathtaking. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds!

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Hello from Colorado!

Our first full day of our western adventure was spent hiking, off-roading, fishing in some alpine lakes and experiencing our first 14er, Antero Mountain. Internet is spotty, so I will fill y’all in later 😉 Hope you all have a great week! We’re having a blast here…

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Travel with a Mission

Have you ever wanted to travel abroad but don’t know where to start, where to go, what to do or how to come up with the necessary funds?  Then you should consider volunteering abroad.  As I was researching and planning my own volunteer abroad trip for next summer (who can guess where I’m going and what I’m doing????), I decided to write a helpful post for others.  Check it out and if you have ever traveled abroad to lend you time and talents, please leave a comment on the article with any helpful advice.  Brownie points and a big smiley face to whoever can guess where my travel with a mission adventure will lead me…

Traveling for a Cause: How to Volunteer Abroad

The Weekend

As the weekend is fast approaching, I realize that I never posted pictures from our last weekend.

I ran my 5K and although it wore me out and left me a bit sore (I pushed myself just a itty bitty bit too hard), I really did have a blast. Here I am during the first few strides of the run.
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Since the weather was so wonderful, we spent the entire weekend outdoors. First up was a party at our local natural/dirt playground.

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Then we spent a day on the water, swimming and tubing the day away.

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Even after all this, it’s still hard to believe that summer is actually in full swing now! We are going to be busy bees this summer as almost every single week or weekend is booked with some sort of adventure. I am loving every moment of it! There is nothing else quite as magnificent as summer.

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.” -Ada Louise Huxtable

Help a Mama Out!

You may recall that I did a review not too long ago regarding Stonewear Designs–a clothing company that designs hiking, fitness, yoga and travel clothing for women. I snagged some of their Meridian yoga capris on sale and then splurged on one of their Kaia halter tops. And can I just say that I am in love? Truly.

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Here I am in the backyard, doing yoga with the kids and sporting my new Stonewear finds….thanks Little Man for playing photographer!

The fit, the support, the look….it’s all perfect. I applied to be an ambassador for Stonewear Designs and would be honored to represent a company that I wholeheartedly love. Part of the application process is using social media to show support for the applicants. If you support me as a good choice as an ambassador, please give me a shout out through Stonewears’s twitter or fb pages:

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Let them know that Lauren (Hiking Mama) sent you. And even if you don’t feel up to it, or I don’t get chosen, I will still continue to support this great clothing company and encourage you to check ’em out. Their apparel does not disappoint. I’m just so glad that I have finally found great clothing to support my active lifestyle!

Adventure: Is it really for everyone?

20120606-013428.jpg Big Brother’s fortune at his “welcome to the family party” mere hours after he was declared our son in a court of law.

Tonight I found myself reminiscing about the past 1.5 years that Big Brother has been with us as I gazed upon the hundreds of pictures I have saved on my computer. Most of the pictures were taken during a time when he was trying something new. Pictures of Big Brother in a canoe, on a hike or in a cave are sandwiched among pictures of him playing with his brother or celebrating a holiday with family. He certainly has been on a lot of adventures since being home. I remember so clearly the words of concerned loved ones who were afraid that by adopting Big Brother, our adventurous lifestyle would come to an abrupt end. On the contrary, we have found that it has just begun.

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I truly believe with every fiber of my being that adventure really is for all. But does the world think so? Probably not. And although my brain is screaming that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks, I know in my heart that it does matter. It matters because I get tired of “defending” our right to be somewhere to others who think we should just stay at home. I want the world to know that my son with special needs has just as much right to venture out into this world as anyone else. He has just as much right to be on a hiking trail, at the climbing gym or on an airplane as anyone else. Although he may be unusually loud or need special accomodations at times, he is, after all, just the same as any other human being. There seems to always be people around us that act perturbed to see our family come near. Not everyone we encounter feels this way, but it’s happened enough that it really gets me thinking.

And then tonight as we sat in the office of our much loved pediatric specialist, he said something that grabbed my heart. “A lot of people with children like Big Brother tend to retreat to their homes and not venture out…”

What a shame that our society can make an innocent child feel like a burden to society, as if he is not worthy of the same rights to explore this world of ours.

So, if you see our family out and about and are bothered that the likes of us would join the ranks of ordinary adventurers, you may just get a kind but thorough lecture from me a la Ms. Cho style. I promise I don’t bite, but I will defend my creed of adventure for all fiercely and relentlessly.

How about you? What is something that you are willing to stand up to the world for…something you believe in so much that you are willing to raise your voice as to be heard by all the world?

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

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P.S. Thanks for all the kind and encouraging comments on my last few posts. I may not have responded to each and every one, but please know they are all appreciated and loved by yours-truly. You are the best readers a gal could ever hope for!

Indoor Rock Climbing with the Kids

This weekend we finally took the kids to our local indoor rock climbing gym. The hubby and I dabbled in climbing during our pre-kid days, but we’ve known for a while now that our kids were ready to give it a try.

Little Man was rarin’ to go and couldn’t wait to get started. He climbed and climbed until we had to drag him out right before closing time:

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Big Brother was equally excited and also did a great job:

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Little Man would climb to the top nearly every time, while Big Brother would get a few feet off the ground. He was quite proud of himself, though, and would exclaim loudly each time “Little Man big high up, Big Brother little high!” Yes, Big Brother tends to speak in third person 🙂

The kids had a complete blast and they really did awesome. They have been begging to go back ever since, so I forsee a lot more climbing in our future. I get a kick out of everyone who acts so shocked that we took Big Brother to rock climb. You never know what your kids are capable of unless you give them the opportunities to show you! Little Man is 4.5 and Big Brother is 5 and I feel that they are at the perfect age to get started in climbing. They have always been good climbers, but they are old enough now to really follow directions and use problem solving skills in a way that they can apply them to climbing.

Big Brother was very excited about exploring the sensory-rich environment and was easily distracted by the climbing holds and would take much time “exploring” each one. He also loved the sensation of hanging from the rope, so we tried to accomodate him and let him go at his own pace.

I can see already that climbing is going to be beneficial for both boys (but especially for our son with autism) in the areas of strength, coordination, motor planning, focus and self-esteem. For now, we’re all just having fun and celebrating the fact that we’ve got two awesome kiddos who never cease to amaze us.

Do your kids rock climb? How old are they and where do they climb–indoors or out?

My Baby Is More than a Word

Dear Margaret Cho,

I am writing to you today not from a place of anger, but from a place deep inside of my heart that hopes your mind can be stretched in the way that mine has over the past 1.5 years. There is something I need you to understand and I hope I can convey my message in a way that is respectful and promotes understanding and compassion.

You see, this is the “retard baby” that you don’t want to have:

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The thing is, and this may come as quite a shock to you, I chose to be his mom. I will say it loud and proud to all who will listen–I love my son. He is cognitively disabled and has Autism. I knew about his disabilities long before he came home to be my forever son. I have been his mom for 1.5 years now. He does not have the capacity nor the words to stand up for himself, so you see, I am his voice.

That’s why I have no choice but to write this letter to you today. I made a vow in court and before our creator to be his voice, his champion….his mom.

I find it extremely disappointing that you have been given numerous awards for your humanitarian efforts within the Asian, women and LGBT communities, yet you feel that children born with special needs are not worthy of the same treatment that you fight so hard to obtain for others. Special needs children are not less worthy of respect and tolerance. The thing that makes them different is that many of them don’t have a voice. There is nothing funny about picking on the defenseless. That’s not comedy, that’s bullying.

I know you don’t want to parent a child with disabilities, I get it. It’s hard work that requires compassion, dedication and sacrifice all without any societal rewards. It’s not for the faint of heart. That I do understand. But no matter how you feel about children with special needs, know this: they deserve dignity and respect. My voice does not reach far and wide across this globe, but yours does. Please show my child the same respect that you demand for the ones you fight so hard to support. Your voice has power, please choose your words wisely. I truly hope that you will use this experience as a time of learning and personal growth. I don’t want an apology, I just want you to hear my son.

Sincerely,
One of the luckiest moms in the world (aka Hiking Mama)