Monday, June 27, 2011

One foot in front of the other

There are a lot of people out there with a “bucket list” - which is exactly as it sounds - it's a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. I haven’t actually taken the time write out each individual item, but I have a running list in my head – going on an African safari, running with the bulls in Pamplona …etc. There is one item that’s never appeared on my bucket list until now - climbing a 14,000 ft. mountain!!

One of my friends is a very avid climber. He’s the type of guy that would be considered certifiably insane in any other state, but Colorado breeds extreme people. A normal weekend might involve him climbing two peaks and biking 300+ miles on his road bike. During the summer months, my friend leads a group of novice hikers to the summit of some of Colorado’s “easier” 14,000 ft mountains.

So on Saturday morning a group of 10 friends/co-workers/etc. set off on a 6 hour hike to the top of Mt. Bierstadt (elevation 14,060). Strangely, I wasn’t as worried about the climb as I was the 5:00am start time. The bottom line is that I am NOT a morning person – especially without my coffee. And wouldn’t you know it; Starbucks doesn’t open until 5:00am; which doesn't do me much good unless by some act of God there’s a Starbucks at the top of Mt. Bierstadt. I really thought my chances were good – to be fair, I’ve seen them in stranger locations.

Long story short, we walked, walked and walked…then stopped for a break – I ate a Luna bar – then walked, walked and walked some more. We were at the summit by 10:00am and were down at the car again by 1:00pm. It was such an amazing experience – one that can’t really be described with words. Second to running a marathon, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Here are a few pictures which may provide a better description of how truly monsterous this accomplishment was – and how awe-inspiring the mountains are.

Oh – and before I forget, I saw first-hand two animals that I didn’t even know existed before Saturday. A marmot and a pika…if you’re interested, look them up.


Geological marker at the summit.

Log book at the summit.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Where's the Poop?

Yesterday was a milestone day for Ross! It wasn't his first Father's Day - it was actually his third. However, it was the first one that didn't end with getting pooped on. That's just what you get with newborns.

So what did we do to celebrate? We packed up the family and went hiking at Red Rocks! We all had a blast! The kids even got to see some wild-life. At one point we stopped for a break when all of a sudden we looked up to see three male and two female Mule Deer walking toward us. They were eating grass and trying to find some shade. After a while they all laid down under a tree for a nap - at which point Kate screamed out "Night, Night Deer!" over and over and if she expected a response.

As we got the backpacks ready to go, the kids
wandered off and started exploring.

Ross, Connor and Morgan getting ready to hike.

Kate and I enjoying a great day in Colorado.

Family Picture.

Morgan and Kate taking a break under a shade tree.

This is the face that I got when I asked her to "smile".

Red Rocks Park, CO

Morgan found a tiny stream of water to cool off in.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Fun in Denver

It's been the most amazing summer here in Denver. Now, I know why people LOVE Denver so much. I mean the winter was fun. There is nothing better than having some of the worlds best skiing at your finger tips. But the summer - that's been our favorite part so far. The high's are in the 80's and the lows in the 50's (at night).

We spend ALL of our time outside.  Every Sunday night we take the kids to "Jazz in the Park" - it's a free concert at City Park with a variety of artists who rotate each week. We pack a bottle of wine for the adults and a picnic dinner for the kids and meet up with some of our closest friends for a great evening of fun.

We're also frequent visitors to the zoo, any park with a swing set and some of Denver's best hiking trails.

Connor was trying to play golf like his daddy.
Maybe we should start with smaller clubs.

Kate is ready to go swimming. Ross said that she
looks like one of the three blind mice in this photo.

At Quince and Mary's wedding. She took her matching bow off in
the car and I didn't notice that it was missing until it was too late.

I'm offering a reward for anyone who can take a picture of all four
of us - looking in the same direction and smiling at the same time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Our Journey with SPD

While reviewing my last few posts, I realized that I start off almost every one of them with “It’s been a long time since I last updated…” – so no excuses this time. I’m just going to just jump right in…

On May 23rd, at the advice of our pediatrician, we got Connor developmentally tested. What does that mean exactly? It means that my sweet baby was subjected to a four hour evaluation by five different doctors (pediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist). We literally sat in a room with a two way mirror, video camera and a microphone set up in the corner and they ran him through a series of tests to gauge his fine motor skills, gross motor skills, cognative development, social development etc.

It was intense and Connor did well. It was not his best performance ever, but who can blame him. After an hour of being poked, proded and challenged – he was done. He kept asking to go home - but we still had another three hours to go.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself several questions. 1. Why did our pediatrician feel that this level of evaluation was necessary? 2. What was the outcome?

We’ll first; we’ve been worried about Connor’s development for a long time. He has always been a little delayed but we started to notice that these delays were getting in the way of his ability to relate to his peer-group at school. Example: each morning Connor would run into his classroom and sit down to join a group of kids who were playing with blocks or cars. He would immediately jump in and start playing with the same toys that they were. However, if they were playing cars then Connor would pick up the car, turn it over, start spinning the wheels and stick the whole thing in his mouth to feel the vibration.

As his peer-group got older this type of behavior became unacceptable. They started thinking it was gross to put toys in your mouth and they knew the “correct” way to play with cars, etc. Connor began to be ostrascized. Please rest assured that this is not the only reason, but it gives a fairly solid example of what was going on in his world.

So that leads us to the second question, “what was the outcome of the evaluation?”

The panel of evaluators felt that Connor has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. It can be likened to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. So in the example above, Connor’s nervous system was seeking the vibration caused by the car with spinning wheels.

Essentially, they felt that Connor would benefit from regular visits with an Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapist to help retrain his nervous system to respond correctly to signals from his environment.

So fast forward several weeks, Connor is full swing into his therapy sessions (1x per week OT, PT and ST) and he’s doing GREAT! I’ll talk more about his therapy in another post, but when I asked his OT if she felt that Connor would be able to overcome this challenge and function in normal school settting, she said YES!! She does not feel that this is something that will hinder him throughout his life. With the proper therapy, Connor will be able to fully integrate with his peer group and learn how to accurately process sensory signals from his environment.

I have always been so proud of my baby boy! He is a fighter and when life get’s hard, he finds a way to get through it with a smile on his face. He is my inspiration and I am prepared to help him overcome this latest challenge. I love you Connor!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


These days, it's been difficult to get good pictures of Connor and Kate. They're usually running wildly through the house and despite my best attempts one or the other has food on their face or shirt. However, I was able to snap a few cute pictures and wanted to share them here.

My Little Cowgirl...ballerina...ok, I'm confused?!?!?

Sweet Kate

My Handsome Little Man

Connor showing off his birthday present!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Little Nibbles #5

1. Kate calls Connor - "nonnor".  The other day she opened the drawer where we keep the bibs, pulled one out and started chasing him around the house trying to put it on him. She kept running after him saying "nonnor", "nonnor".

2. Connor is learning how to share with his pesky little sister. He still gets so upset when she steals his favorite toys, but he's getting better at asking her to share.

3. Kate has learned how to say "No!" Now every question is met with only one answer - NO!
Me: "Kate, are you hungry?"
Kate: "No"
Me: "Do you love Mommy?"
Kate: "No"
Me: "Kate, do you really think you'll end up needing your college fund?"
Kate: "No"
Me: "Good, then you won't mind if Mommy goes on a shopping spree with it, right?

We're Baaaacccckkkk!

It's been months since I've given this blog any attention. Instead of apologizing and listing the 101 reasons why I haven't posted anything new - I think the best approach is to tell you about all of the exciting things that we've been up to in the past few months.

The kids are growing fast and they're keeping us so busy. Who am I kidding - they are in complete control. We try to keep up but each night when we put the kids to bed, Ross and I fall into a vegetated state caused by extreme exhaustion. After 8:00 our conversation resembles that of neanderthals with a series of grunts and gestures.

Connor and Kate are growing fast. They learn quickly from each other - so when one has a new found skill  then it's not long before they are both doing it.  Connor is still closing the gap on some of his developmental delays and Kate is extremely advanced for her age group. So for the most part - they meet in the middle.

Connor is speaking more and more each day. He knows his shapes, colors and can count to five on his own. He's starting to read more now. Instead of reading single words printed on flash cards - he's moved to reading short sentences in some of this favorite books.

Kate has the most acute fine-motor skills of any 16 month old I've ever seen. She's eating with a fork and spoon. She's completing puzzles, holding a crayon between her thumb and fore-finger and is an iPhone expert (and addict).

Thanks to the mild Denver weather, both kids play outside any chance they can get. On top of that, we try to find a new family activity each weekend. We've been to the children's museum, aquarium, zoo, indoor play gym, sledding, hiking, swimming and flying kites. You name it, we've done it.

Here are a few pictures of our many adventures.

Kate trying on the hat that her BeBe sent.

Connor's Birthday at the Denver Aquarium. Why does he need a bib? You'll see...

Yum, Yum!!!!

Birthday at the Denver Aquarium!!!

Fun at "Monkey Business" indoor play gym.

My little monkey.

Such a big smile for a little girl.

Sweet Boy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Big Milk Mystery

As of  few days ago, when I'm sitting on the couch in our living room - I smell rotten milk. We've looked everywhere. Under the couch cushions, behind the couch, under the couch - everywhere. I have NO idea where the milk is hiding but we've got to find it ASAP! This is disgusting. Thank God it's a rental house.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Remember When...

The kids are growing so fast. Here are a few memories that I want so share.

1. When Kate wants something she points to it and says "me-my"...all day, me-my.

2. Kate loves her teddy bear, but it's not just her teddy bear. She'll try to claim any stuffed animal anywhere no matter who it belongs to. However, her special teddy is named BaBu - a name she came up with on her own.

3. Connor loves his school and according to his teacher he's been adopted by the "blonde posse" (i.e. a group of little blond boys who love hanging out together)

4. When Ross asks Connor what the mommy says - he put's one finger to his lips and says "shhhhh" - to indicate be quiet. Nice!

5. Neither Connor or Kate can say "banana" - it comes out "nana" or "banannneena" or "me-my" (see above).

6. The other day, I gave Connor a sticker for using the potty. I handed it to him and asked where he wanted to put it. He took the sticker from my finger and then walked over to Kate the stuck it on her shirt.

7. Kate is so independent - she will not accept help from anyone (as shown in the photos below).

**Incase you've been wondering why I haven't been posting many picture's of Connor lately - it's because he is in constant motion and I can't find shutter speed fast enough to capture him fly by**

Kate refused to have help eating her yogurt, so this is the result.

I don't need help eating. I got this...

Playing in the tunnel.


My sweet boy is growing up so fast!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas 2010

2010 was a busy year in the McKinnon household. It was a year marked with milestones (crawling, walking, talking), new cities, new states, new schools, new jobs, new friends...

It's been a full two months since we moved to Denver. The kids have adjusted to their new school and love their new teachers and friends. They've learned how to wear heavy coats, hats and gloves and have mastered the art of walking in snow boots. They've also discovered the joys of sledding and snowball throwing.

Kate is walking scratch that - she's running and trying her hardest to keep up with her big brother. There are still some things that she's too small to do, but that list is getting shorter each day.

Connor is growing so fast. He's started talking a lot more and is becoming more confident. He's the sweetest kid and is very polite - even saying "please" and "thank you" when he asks for things.

Connor and Kate are typical siblings. They love each other and play well together...add the jealousy, competition, etc. and there's never a dull moment around here.

We had a great time over the holidays. Most of our furniture is still in San Antonio. Since we're still trying to sell our house, we kept it fully staged.  So as you can imagine, our rental house is fairly empty - which is bad for us...but great for the kids. They racked up on new toys for Christmas and now we have basketball goals, play kitchens, toy slides, doll strollers, etc., etc. taking up space where our furniture should be.

Ross's mom came for Christmas this year. We had a great time and the kids loved seeing their Bebe. Here are a few pictures from the holidays.

Kate's excited about Christmas. She kept trying to open presents early.

Aunt Ivy sent a new play kitchen!!! Connor and Kate love "cooking" with it.

We were all glad to have Bebe come for a visit. 

Kate decided to try out her new doll stroller while Ross was still assembling it.

Bebe gave Connor and Kate new Auburn gear for Christmas.
 Grandma/Opa and Great Grandma English gave the kids a new table to play on.
Thanks so much for the great presents!!!!

Kate got tired while sledding, so she tried to take a nap on Connor.

Winter Park, CO

After sledding, we all stopped at Demo's for a beer and bite to eat.

What a fun Christmas day!! Now it's time to head back to Denver.