Two Years Ago…we became a family of four

Two years ago today we were flying home from Hong Kong, exhausted, overwhelmed, a bit scared but very excited.

That means Big Brother has been home for two entire years!  What a wild, crazy adventure it’s been.  Although Big Brother has come so far, he still has so much to overcome.  But we’ll get there.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, Big Brother!

momavi2Mommy and Big Brother, the first day we met (January 10, 2011)

hk15Big Brother and Little Man checking each other out at the orphanage in Hong Kong




hkcity Beautiful Hong Kong


The Friendly Wildlife of St. Elmo, Colorado

A few weeks ago I posted about our excursion to the ghost town of St. Elmo and beyond.  What I neglected to tell you was the age-old tradition we took part in while visiting. It seems that the ground hogs and chipmunks of St. Elmo have quite a reputation in this town.  They gather daily to be fed by eager tourists, and they are surely not shy!  Seems it’s been going on for years and years. The kids had a blast feeding these cute little critters.  It was an interesting experience to say the least!

An Off-Road Trek Up Mount Antero in the Colorado Rockies

On our first full day in Colorado, we did some hiking (that’s for an upcoming post) and then visited Mount Antero via an off-road expedition. I filmed our trek with my phone and I’m sharing the clips below. If you become bored with them, just skip to the last two videos of the kids where an overload of cuteness awaits you. I’m not a very good videographer, so be gracious!

“Mount Antero is the eleventh highest peak in Colorado, with an elevation of 14,276 feet (4,351 m). Also known as Antero Peak, it is named for Chief Antero of the Uintah band of Utes. It is located in the central Sawatch Range in Chaffee County between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. The mountain itself is prized for its gemstone deposits and has one of the highest concentrations of aquamarine in the country. There are several active private mining claims being exploited on Mt. Antero and surrounding peaks.

The peak is located entirely within the San Isabel National Forest, due south of the more visually prominent Mount Princeton. Mount Antero is one of the most prominent peaks of the Sawatch Range rising an impressive 7,000 feet above the town of Salida, Colorado to the south east. There are two popular climbing routes on Mount Antero. The generally accepted hiking route, which begins near the ghost town of St. Elmo, is from the east starting at the Browns Creek Trailhead and paralleling Little Browns Creek to its upper reaches where it crosses Forest Road 1A, then following the road near to the summit. The other route follows the same forest road from the north up Baldwin Creek. This route has heavy mining and tourist traffic in fair weather during the summer months.

The peak was surveyed by the Pike Expedition in 1806. A forest service sign at the Browns Creek trailhead commemorates the expedition camp at the eastern base of the peak.” -Wikipedia

Going up and rocking out to Phineas and Ferb (this video is kind of boring and poorly executed, but I’m posting them all so here it is!):

On our way to the peak:

The one where I have a panic attack on film. I would have happily hiked this mountain, but in our FJ Cruiser, it was just too much to see us teeter-totter on the edge of the blind curves:

Looking for snow:

Looking for a lake:

Baldwin Lake:

Big Brother’s Take on Colorado:

Little Man’s Take on Colorado:

I’ll be back with photos from our other hikes and trails soon!

A Rocky Mountain Adventure for an Appalachian Girl (and her family)

yours-truly rocking the 80+ mph wind gusts 12,000 ft up near Pomeroy Lake in the Colorado Rockies

I’m a southern, Appalachian Mountain girl through and through. Born and raised in the foothills of Appalachia, I love my old growth cove forests, raging waterfalls, lightening bugs, sweet tea and steamy summer nights where the forests glisten in an almost magical, ethereal way in the wetness of the surrounding air. After traveling 24 hours in the car, I found myself here, within reach of the clouds. Toto, we’re not in Tennessee anymore!

traveling off-road up to the crest of the Continental Divide

We spent a week climbing up the spectacular mountains of Colorado in our trusty FJ Cruiser. We hiked to alpine lakes and waterfalls and even managed to go horseback riding (a first for my son with Autism!), visit some ghost towns and mine ruins, and also visit the Great Sand Dunes national park. It was an exciting trip filled with breathtaking views and new landscapes to explore. I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos to download off of both my “good camera” and my iphone! I’m not sure when I will be able to tackle it all, so bear with me. I have so much to share…not only of pictures and trails, but reflections from travel and adventure with a special needs child and more. I also have some reviews I would like to do. So stay tuned, I’ve got a lot in store for you all!

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

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.

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:



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.


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


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!

Do You Like Adventure?

Well I’ve got three of them for you! My latest post on the Civilized Travel site shares my 3 favorite off the beaten path adventures and tells you how you can explore these spectacular places, too.

See how this…








add up to one big adventure in the southeastern US. What are you waiting for? Go check it out and then join me the next time we venture out into the wild!