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!!!