The Moments that Take Your Breath Away

LMBEACH

When I look back over the past 31 years of my life, the moments that stand out most sharply in my mind all tend to all have one thing in common-they all have that rare ability to make my stomach tumble and steal my very breath.

There are many moments I recall….like jumping into the ocean for my first dive at 12 years old or walking down the aisle to the handsome guy that would soon become my husband.  Spectacular sunsets, walks on the beach and misty, muddy hikes through the woods.  Also those moments when the early morning sun filters through the trees in such a majestic way that it nearly brings tears to your eyes.

Then there are those moments that not only take your breath away but usher in a new chapter of your life–like becoming a mom for the first time as I stood and held Little Man in an orphanage in Vietnam….

first-meeting

And that moment in Hong Kong when Big Brother first looked at me–I mean really looked at me–and smiled….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then the surreal moment when I saw a little, tiny heartbeat appear on a monitor as I laid in the doctor’s office, wondering what I did to deserve so many blessings….

babybThese fleeting moments that are forever engraved in my mind seem so simple but yet so profound. I love awaking each day with anticipation that I’ll have a chance for just one more…

Advertisements

Our Top 12 Outdoor Moments of 2012

As 2012 is winding down, I feel a little sad that my family and I have not been able to spend as much time outdoors as we normally do.  With three rounds of family strep (yes, 3!!) and other medical issues, getting outdoors has been hard for us over the last couple of months.  So I’m really looking forward to getting back in the groove of outdoor livin’ in 2013.  To cheer myself up a bit, I decided to take a look back and reminisce on our favorite outdoor moments of 2012.

12. New Year tree huggin’ on Fiery Gizzard Trail (our fave trail), January 2012

10

11. Autism and the healing power of nature, February 2012

9

10. Nature day with mama, March 2012

8

9. First canoe trip of 2012, April 2012

7

8. Nature for all, May 2012

5

7. Mother’s Day Caving, May 2012

4

6. The Great Sand Dunes, June 2012

3

5. Mini Muddy Buddy Run, July 2012

2

4. Alone in the wilderness, August 2012

1

3. Adventure and the special needs child, June 2012

0

2. Alpine Views in Colorado, June 2012

20120612-212637

1. Water fun and Little Man’s 1st Kayak, July 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what was your favorite moment of 2012? Any adventures you want to share before the new year falls upon us?!

Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer

Congratulations to commenter number 4, Mel, who is the winner of the $25 REI gift card!!  Thanks everyone for playing along. Happy Holidays!

——

There are few places I’d rather be than in the woods on a quiet, muddy trail. Whether I’m hiking or taking a run, it’s the one place where I can clear my mind while feeding my body and soul. So if you are like me (or you’ve got a girl like me in your life) this post is for you. I thought I’d share some of my favorite trail gear with all of you lovely readers.  With the holiday season upon us, maybe you’ll be inspired with some gift ideas for the outdoorsy girl in your life.

HikerGifts

1. At the top we have the quick dry  Toaster Top and Liberty Pants from Stonewear Designs. Warning: these pieces of clothing are so awesome, functional and comfortable you will never want to take them off!  Stonewear Designs is a Colorado-based company comprised of a group of determined women who lead busy lives balancing time between family, friends, work, and play. They developed clothes that make women feel beautiful while performing under strenuous demands. They strive to fit and flatter every type of body with beautiful, durable clothing that will last for years. All Stonewear clothing is Made in the U.S.A.

2. Gypsum Mid Hiking Boots by KEEN.  The only brand of boots I wear on the trail! For years, KEEN has been keeping my feet happy and safe on the trail. ‘Nuff said.

3. SpeedCross 3 Trail Running shoes by Salomon.  I am in love with these awesome, lightweight but aggressive trail shoes that are perfect for muddy, mountainous terrain. I use these all the time and they are by far my faves!

4. I don’t own one of these battery-operated mobile power devices yet, but I really want to try one! They seem like a perfect gadget to have handy on a long hike or backpacking trip.  Especially if you are like me and snap photos on the trail with your iphone.

And since it’s the season to spread the love, I’m going to do another giveaway today. I’m going to give one lucky reader a $25 gift card to REI.  Oh yes I am!  All you have to do is…

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite outdoor activity and whether or not you’d be happy to receive any of these gifts above.

2. For one extra entry, go like my facebook page.  Come back here and leave another comment telling me you did so (or tell me if you already are a fan.)

3. For one more entry, tweet about the giveaway, including a link to this post and make sure to mention me, @hikemama. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

sample tweet: Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer and a $25 gift card giveaway to REI! http://wp.me/phD5i-2jB @hikemama

That’s it!  Good luck and happy trails. One lucky reader will be randomly chosen on Saturday, December 15.

psst–check out my other open giveaway here!

Science and Nature for Kids {Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Ornaments}

One of the things that I love most about Christmas since becoming a mom is watching my children not only decorate the tree, but make their own ornaments to use as well.  On our tree you will see a mix of sentimental hand-me-downs, glass ornaments and ornaments  lovingly made by the kids.  This year, however, I wanted to add a touch of nature to the tree.  One of the kid-friendly projects that we really enjoyed was making ornaments from some natural items we had on hand in the kitchen.  With a bag of oranges, some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, acorns and twine, we came up with these beautiful ornaments!

Nature Christmas Craft

For the oranges, you can slice them thinly or you can use the peel to make a design.  Take all of your orange creations and place in a warm oven (lowest temperature possible) for several hours to dry.  To keep the oranges from sticking to your baking sheet, I recommend laying them down on a piece of cheesecloth.  You might also want to lay something on top of the peels to keep them from curling up while drying (I used the metal lid part of a mason jar for mine.) Keep a close eye on them and make sure to remove from the heat immediately if they begin to brown.

Stay tuned for some more nature-inspired Christmas crafts!

Get a Job, Take a Hike: how to make sure everyone in the family enjoys the trail

Yesterday we took a leisurely hike through a nearby state park. Although the park is quiet and full of kid-friendly trails, it’s hardly the landscape that epic adventures are made of.  But it ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken together. We had no agenda and no timeline.  We just wanted to share some peaceful time together in the woods.  To ensure that everyone would have a fun, fuss-free hike, we assigned each child a “job.” As our kids are growing older, I find myself continually brainstorming new ways to make sure our hikes stay fun and upbeat. Read on to see how we did it on our last hike!

Little Man took on the role of our fearless trail leader (his most favorite job of all) and Big Brother was the keeper of the leaves (again, a job he loves.)  Little Man led the way and Big Brother collected leaves and strung them on a shoestring.  One of his favorite ways to play is to put beads on strings, so he was estactic!

The boys had a blast and enjoyed every single moment on the trail.  We ended with a picnic and a rock-jumping competition in the creek.
Fallen trees make the best playground, don’t you agree?
Happy kiddos make for a happy mommy and daddy.
We’ll count this as a successful and fun fall hike!
___________
Other posts you might enjoy:

Science and Nature for Kids {Make a Bird Feeder from a Pumpkin}

Halloween has passed and winter fast approaches.  If you are looking for a way to reuse any leftover pumpkins, here’s a great way to enjoy a nature activity with your kids.  Turn your old pumpkin into a bird feeder!  It’s easy and fun for little hands.

Start with a medium-sized pumpkin:

20121111-162514.jpg

Cut it in half and scoop out the insides (great sensory fun for the little helpers):20121111-162533.jpg

Using a nail, punch out some holes on opposite sides of the pumpkin:
20121111-162554.jpg

Use string or twine to make the holder:20121111-162607.jpg

Now punch out some larger holes on each side:20121111-162627.jpg

20121111-162643.jpg

You can slide a twig into the larger holes to make some perches for the birds.  Then hang it in a tree and fill it with some wild bird seed:
20121111-162700.jpg

And wait for the birdies to find the food!20121111-162711.jpgSimple, easy and fun…and the birds will thank you.

The Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day, a time for bloggers from around the globe to unite and join a global discussion about one important topic.

“The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a positive discussion that enables social good about an important topic. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By blogging about the same issue, on the same day, from their own perspectives, the blogging community focuses discussion and give their audiences the opportunities to take part in a global conversation, raise awareness or even funds for not-for-profits.”

The topic for today is The Power of We.  I love this topic so much and was really excited to write about it.

the reason I started blogging in the first place…..Little Man and I meeting at the orphanage in Vietnam for the first time

I started blogging in 2007 as a way to chronicle our adoption journey.  At the time, it was just a way for us to keep family and friends updated on the long, complicated journey.  Over time, my blog changed a lot.  I wasn’t sure what to write about or how to use my online presence.  But then slowly, after the adoption of our second child (a special needs, older child adoption) I knew what purpose I wanted my blog to serve.

My blog, you see, became my voice.  A voice to raise awareness on the issues that had affected my life personally: autism, special needs adoption, older child adoption, HIV adoption and the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis and non-profits providing aid to orphanages and children around the world.  I  even found my voice in encouraging others that adventure and the outdooors are for everyone–especially for children and those with special needs.

In 2009, through the power of blogging, I was able to team up with some other adoptive mama’s to start a series of campaigns to raise funds for children and families in Vietnam.  We had never even met in real life, but we had forged a connection through our sons’ shared heritages and our online voices.  We took a small idea and using he Power of We, were able to give life-saving surgeries, meals and other resources to people in need.

In 2012, again through blogging, I was able to connect and meet with the moms involved in the World Moms Blog and was able to spread my voice even further by becoming a contributor to their social good column.

And again in 2012, I was able to join a coalition of moms called the Global Team of 200 in an effort to spread my message of social good far and wide.

I am just beginning to harness the Power of We.  I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be.  Blogging has not only let me find my voice, but has let me truly discover the amazing Power of We. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Together, our voices united, we can bring about the changes we seek.  I have seen it happen before and I am honored to be a part of the Power of We.

Won’t you join me?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead 

My First Trail Race

Today I ran my first ever trail race–8.2 steep, muddy miles through the forest.  The temps rose into the 80’s but luckily there was a nice breeze and enough cloud cover to keep things comfortable. All I can say is that those hills kicked my rear end!  This run was all about celebrating the beauty of our local state parks.  I enjoyed every moment of my time on the trail today, even those darn hills.  I really wished I could have taken some pictures of the gorgeous scenery, but you know, I was running and stuff.

Everyone thought it was hysterical that I was crossing the finish line with a huge smile on my face, but I was just happy to finally reach the end and not be dead last!

Don’t ask what this pose was about, I think I was a bit delirious and ready for a drink of water.  Even photo shop couldn’t make me look good after this run 😉

It wasn’t my best time, but at least I got out there and did it, right?  That’s got to count for something.  Now let’s hope I can shake these jello legs by tomorrow.  Right now I’m on the couch while the kids are running around  like crazy wondering why mama’s actually resting.    I think the laundry can wait until tomorrow, too.

Hope you all are enjoying your Saturday as well!

 

 

Cummins Falls State Park, Cookeville, TN

Today we visited a new park not too far from home called Cummins Falls State Park.  This gorgeous span of 211 acres has an interesting history:

“It is known that buffalo wallowed in the river in a shallow basin about a quarter-mile east of the falls. Indians used this area to kill buffalo as they needed as indicated by the numerous arrowheads found at the site.  In the 1790s, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Sergeant Blackburn, for whom the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River is named, was awarded this land in lieu of a pension.  This land was acquired by John Cummins in about 1825 on which he built the first of two water driven mills.  Because of a growing clientele, a second and larger mill was built in 1845 about a half mile or so before the falls.  Local area residents came to the mill and the falls for commerce and recreation. The mill was washed away in a great flood of 1928, but by then cars and paved highways had made the trek to Cummins Falls more of a discretionary trip than a necessary one. The mill was not rebuilt but this land stayed in the Cummins family for more than 180 years until a recent  effort of private individuals and public institutions worked together to purchase the land for resale to the State. “

Since today the temperatures dipped down into the 50’s/60’s (hello Fall….finally!) we decided to take a family hike and explore this new park.  It’s lovely and we can’t wait to go back and spend even more time hiking the area.  We didn’t spend the whole day at the park as we had some other nearby outdoor areas on our agenda for the day as well.

Little Man leading the way.

Big Brother playing “I see you!” which is his version of peek-a-boo.

Big Brother was being awfully silly today, which I can’t complain about since this past week was a really rough one for him in every way.

I never get tired of this site!

Little Man mesmerized by the falls.

We had such a fun little hike.

After visiting the falls, we headed a few miles down the road to the Caney Fork River where I tried out some of my fly fishing skills. No fish tales to speak of, but at least I got out and tried!  Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.

Empty handed, but happy nonetheless!

How did you spend the weekend?  Does it feel like fall where you are?!