Welcome to My SITS Day!

Hello dear readers new and old!  Welcome to my SITS day!  If you’re wondering what in the world that is, go here to check it out.

On this blog you will see that we believe adventure is for all.  I’m known as Hiking Mama around here.

We hope to inspire others, no matter their obstacles, to get outdoors and live a life of adventureWe hike, we blog….but most of all we strive to spread love wherever we go. You will also find that the topics of adoption and raising special needs children make a regular appearance around here.  Let me introduce you to the crew….

Meet Little Man, who is 4 years old (but about to be 5!)  Little Man is as our little firecracker.  He was born in Vietnam and was adopted at age 1.  You can see that he loves the outdoors and he’s pretty fearless.  He definitely keeps us on our toes!

Meet Big Brother, who is 5 years old.  Big Brother has Autism and Cognitive Delay.  He was born in Hong Kong, China and was adopted at the age of 4.  He’s been home now about 1.5 years and has made some pretty spectacular progress.  Big Brother is obsessed with balloons, legos and rock climbing.  He loves the outdoors as much as his brother, which is a good thing considering the family he is now a part of!

And I can’t leave out my best friend, the hubby…yep, he’s every bit as wild and crazy as the boys.

These three guys are the reasons I blog.  Please make yourself at home and check out the tabs at the top of the blog.  I hope you stay to poke around a bit.  I’m so excited to meet you all!


Best Buddies 5K

On Saturday I ran my heart and soul out for the belief that friendship is for all.

I ran and when I grew tired, I thought about Big Brother and about how hard he must work each day.  I thought about how he never gives up and always fights, no matter how hard it is. I thought about how easy a race must be in comparison to living without friendship and in comparison to living with Autism.

I ran and thought to myself what a blessing it is to have two strong legs and two healthy lungs.  I thought about how blessed I am that I can show my gratefulness each day by using my gift to help others.

I ran and watched over 1000 smiling faces running for those who couldn’t and for those who are their best buddies.

I ran for team Big Brother and all those like him.

I ran and ran hard with a smile on my face, choking back tears as I saw countless runners sporting pictures of their best buddies.

The sun was strong and the hills were high, but I finished in 35 minutes keeping a steady pace throughout.  I was proud.  But more importantly, I couldn’t wait to go home and hold one of my best buddies after the race:

It was a good day.

Gear Review: KEEN Alamosa WP Shoes for Kids

At our house, you will find this mama’s closet overflowing with KEEN shoes.  From sandals to hiking boots, I absolutely adore every pair of KEEN shoes I own.  In fact, my very favorite hiking boots are KEENs:

Ahem.  But this post isn’t about my love affair with KEEN.  It’s about the very first pair of KEENs to grace the feet of my Little Man, otherwise known as my little wild nature lover.  Who better to try these out than him!

When KEEN contacted us and asked if we’d like to try out a pair of kid-sized KEENs, I grew giddy with excitement.  It was perfect timing because a) school was about to begin and we were in need of some recess-ready shoes, b) I was recently just lusting after these shoes but unsure if we should purchase them, and c) Little Man was in dire need of some shoes that can keep up with his rough and tough lifestyle.  If you haven’t noticed, we kind of enjoy the outdoors a little bit around here.

But now I have a confession.  As much as I love my KEENs and as much as we spend time outdoors, I had never bought nice outdoor shoes for the kiddos.  I know that sounds weird, but I used to rationalize that since their feet were growing so rapidly, we should just buy some inexpensive and lower quality shoes until they were a bit older.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those days are over.  The difference between your average discount store tennis shoe and these kid-sized KEENs is night and day.  What was I thinking?! As soon as I pulled these babies out of the box, I saw stars in Little Man’s eyes and even in my own.  This boy was excited and I couldn’t get over how sturdy and rugged these shoes were.  It’s like someone took my boots and shot them with a shrink-ray.  In a word, they are awesome and I feel that they’re worth every penny, no matter your kid’s age.

Little Man has been wearing them to school and they handle the playground well.  He says they are comfy, and I quote “I love my new shoes!”  We took them for a spin out in the woods, just to make sure they could keep up.

They are good for climbing:

They are good for leaping:

And of course, they are good for running through the grass:

Little Man begs to wear his new shoes everywhere we go, which is great!  So let me sum up what we love about these shoes:

  • rugged and sturdy design
  • features a water-resistant leather upper and a waterproof, breathable lining, making these perfect for creek crossings and mud puddle fun
  • fit true to size
  • comfortable

What else can I say, we love these shoes!

KEEN kindly provided us a pair of the Alamosa WP shoes free of charge for us to review.  All opinions expressed, however, are entirely and completely my own.

Run Like No One’s Watching

Once upon a time I used to look at people who ran and think that they must enjoy misery.  I truly couldn’t understand why anyone would want to run.  I personally hated to run.  Hike 13 miles up a mountain?  No problem.  Paddle for 8 hours straight?  You betcha. But run one mile….no way.

In all fairness, I always felt like I was doing something wrong when I ran.  Did I look ridiculous? Was I wearing the right shoes?  How fast and how far was I supposed to run?  Fast forward about 10 years and here I am, not only completing every 5K I can find**, but now training for a half-marathon.

Yes, you read that right. I’m training to participate in a very special half-marathon that will take place in October.  I’m no where near ready, but I’m training hard and making progress with each run.  And who cares what I look like when I run or what shoes I wear (although I did find some awesome ones, for sure).  I guess that’s what happens when you age….you start doing things for you, not for the approval of others.

Now that I’m older and a smidge wiser, I find that I really do enjoy running.  Not only is it a great challenge for me, but I truly love trail running in the woods near my house.  It’s such a great time to connect with nature, and such a release as well.

photo from Rising Above Ministries

So I decided to push myself hard and train for a half marathon–but not just any half marathon.  I will be participating and partnering with a special needs ministry.  I will cross the finish line with a special needs participant, and I cannot wait!!  Not only do I get to run for myself and see how far I can push myself, but I get to help someone else in the process.  If you live in the Tennessee area, I encourage you to check it out.  They are in need of more runners and special needs participants.  It’s an awesome reason to run!




**Now that my ankle is healing nicely, I am planning on participating in the Best Buddies 5K on Saturday.  A big thank you to all who have donated.  There is still time to donate to this wonderful cause, please check out this post to learn more!!

Hope, Fear and a Mother’s Love

“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.” – Ellen Goodman

Yesterday I sent both my boys off to Kindergarten.

Like all mothers, I have hopes and dreams for my children.  And like most mothers, I often find myself drowning in fear and worry about every aspect of their lives.  Sometimes it is easy to push these worries aside and focus on the now.  But yesterday, the fear and worry about my son with special needs was nearly too much to bear.  And as my motherly instinct had forewarned, my worst fears did turn into reality.  Days like yesterday tip the balance of my motherly hopes and fears and I find myself grasping for anything to hold onto, anything to help me regain my footing.

My Little Man was so excited to start Kindergarten and I’m happy to report that he did great.  He was all smiles and couldn’t wait to tell me all about his day. His joy and enthusiasm made my heart soar.

All I wanted for Big Brother was for him to make it through one entire day in his new Life Skills class, but it was not to be.  He made it for a few hours before I received a frantic phone call.  I rushed to pick up Big Brother, my heart nearly leaping out of my chest on the short drive to the school.  The anxiety, the over-stimulation, all the questions, the new people, the new schedule….it was all too much for him. He had an epic and violent meltdown that left us all in quite an emotional place.

All the therapy, all the love, all the medication and we still find ourselves back at square one.  It’s hard when you feel so helpless–when you see your child suffering and cannot do anything to stop it.

I know Big Brother did the best he could.  I know he was scared and did not understand why I was not with him at school.  I know he felt pressure to answer questions he did not know the answers to. I know we prepared him the best we could with visits and meetings. But I can’t help but feel that I failed him somehow….that I am asking too much of him.  I feel that I should advocate harder for him, to make the world see past his trauma.

There are just some days that leave you breathless, grasping for anything you can to find your footing.  There are days when your heart aches more than words can say.

But we will try again and I will work to find the balance between hope and fear.

Until then, we’ll take Little Man’s advice and “just keep swimming, just keep swimming….”






Alone in the Wilderness {Snowbird Mountain Backcountry Area}

Nestled deep within the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains lies a hidden jewel.  If you are serious about exploring the untamed wilderness of the mountains, you will find a wild and secluded backcountry area that is not well known to others.  The Snowbird Backcountry Area  encompasses 8,000 acres of gorgeous terrain and 37 miles of hiking trails.  With many creek crossings (11 on our trail), rugged terrain, poorly marked trails and a lack of fellow hikers, this area is suitable for advanced hikers and backpackers who have experience in the backcountry.  There are several large waterfalls to explore  and the forest is vivacious, dense and lush.  You will be bushwhackin’ a bit on your hike, but it will be well worth the effort.

On Saturday, we hiked 10 miles of the Snowbird Backcountry Area and spent some time fly fishing in the wild trout streams and lounging at the falls.  The solitude was just what we needed–we had the whole area to ourselves.  The Snowbird Backcountry Area also taught me a lesson or two, mainly to watch my step.  For the first time in my life, I took a fall on the muddy mountain terrain and sprained my ankle (badly.)  I had to hike the last two miles out on a sprained ankle, which wasn’t so bad.  That night, however, I paid for those two miles immensely!  I’m on the mend now and looking forward to giving Snowbird another shot.  It was a great way to celebrate 11 years of marriage, sprained ankle and all.

a snapshot of my ankle at dinner that evening:

Treasures from an Appalachian Forest

This past weekend, the Hubby and I celebrated our 11 year wedding anniversary by leaving the kids with family (our first time away from them, ever!) and heading to the wild and wonderful backcountry of North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains. I’ll share more details in the upcoming posts, but for now, enjoy some of the sights from our first day in the forest.



Friendship for All: Why I’m Running for Best Buddies

In his own words, let Big Brother tell you what he would like to do with his friends…

Remember this post? Running for a Special Cause {Best Buddies 5K}  I’m raising funds for this wonderful organization, in honor of Big Brother!

“Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

I’m running because I believe that friendship is for all. Please consider donating for this great cause.  You can find my very own secure donation page here. If every reader donated just $1, I would be able to reach my goal!  I encourage you to check out this great organization further by visiting their website. If you can’t donate, please share this post!

Thank you all!