Monday, June 30, 2014

lower cataract lake loop - part one

on saturday morning we loaded the backpack and headed north toward one of summit county's kid-friendly hikes - the lower cataract lake loop.

we drove past this gorgeous spot and had to pull over to get a picture. we would love to build our dream home on the grassy plain to the right of the water.

our first marmot sighting!! we saw a handful of these guys sunning themselves on boulders as we drove up a steep gravel road to reach the trailhead.

we heard this waterfall as soon as we exited the car and were pleasantly surprised to realize we'd be walking straight toward it.

the lake was beautiful, as were the wildflowers, evergreens and aspen trees, but my favorite part of this hike was that it felt as though we were the only people left on earth. there were parts of the trail that were so covered with brush it seemed as though we were blazing our very own path. it was a lovely adventure.

just starting out, the boys were excited. it takes us much longer to get through these hikes because the boys want to stop and see every single thing. and we let them. for the most part.

the trail offered such a variety in terms of terrain - smooth path, rocky path, aspen groves, bridges over rushing water - it held our interest for the entire 2.6 miles.

the following are some wildflower pictures for meme:

papa has taken an interest in birds and meme has a love for wildflowers, so the boys have become intrigued with both.

i'll be back tomorrow with a some more images and information about this great hike.

Friday, June 27, 2014

summer 2014 - week four

week four already. crazy.

we played lego.

we went to the mountains. graham washed the car windows.

we had the best time in the mountains this past weekend with our friends. you can see more gorgeous photos and read about our adventures HERE.

on monday our friends liam and cody came over to play in the morning. no photos.
on monday night jeremy and i went out to dinner with friends. no photos.
on tuesday our friends tessa, leyton and grant came over to play in the morning. no photos.

on wednesday we went to the denver museum of nature and science. it was fun. here's harrison building a marble/ball run.

harrison drying his hands after playing in the new water feature inside the kid's discovery zone. for those who understand sensory issues, you know this is a BIG DEAL! hand dryers can be really scary!

graham using radar to detect objects beneath the sand.

learning about mars.

riding the wolf statues. giddy-up cowboy.

on thursday we were supposed to picnic and swim with our friends asher and brooklynn but i totally pooped out and declared it a stay-at-home day.

we had swimming lessons every day this week.

we grocery shopped and discovered the coolest justin's nut butter display!

both boys took turns using the pulley to drop the ball down the maze.

and that's our week in a nut shell.  haha! get it? nut shell? i'm funny. or not.

for your listening pleasure i'll leave you with one of my very favorite summertime songs. to me, this song just feels like everything summer should be. click HERE.

have a great weekend folks!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

at the treehouse with friends

last weekend we invited our friends the norgren's up to the condo for a night. jason is one of jeremy's oldest friends and we were so fortunate to inherit leslie, his wife, when they started dating. we knew she was a keeper right away (so did jason!).

anyway, we don't get to see them as often as we like but they are the kind of friends that are easy. the kind of friends who can go without speaking for months but then we just pick up where we left off.

i like those kind of friends.

leslie writes a lovely blog with beautiful photography and she's been posting about our time together up at the condo. please check it out HERE. she got lots of great pictures but i must admit i love the ones of the fox even more than the ones of my own children!

one of my very favorite moments from the weekend was when their sweet blonde-haired little boy, who is such a delight, let me pick him up and give him a hug to say goodbye before they left to drive home.

good times.

Friday, June 20, 2014

summer 2014 - week three

as usual we started the weekend up in the mountains. i took the boys by myself on friday so jeremy could golf with his buddy on saturday, an annual outing send them on for father's day. we drove home saturday afternoon so we could spend father's day with jeremy and papa.

here's graham at the playground at the lake dillon marina. it is such an awesome play area!

on monday we started swimming lessons.

on tuesday we had our friends india and jordyn over for a play day.

on wednesday miss kayla came to play with the boys in the morning. she has been helping us out by watching the boys some this summer. both harrison and graham love her. the day after her first visit with the boys harrison asked if she could come back over and go to the park with us. after she went home wednesday graham told me "i love miss kayla so much".  :-)

on thursday i had a migraine and my sweet friend michelle watched the boys for me in the morning. thankfully, i was feeling better in the afternoon and we were able to go to the library. both boys earned a free book for doing a great job with their summer reading! when we were leaving the library parking lot we saw this:

official pace car for the 2008 indianapolis 500?! i had to take a picture to show jer and papa.

today we played with cloud dough. it was so lovely outside in the shade the boys stuck with it for at least an hour!!

and look what jeremy found when he cracked his morning egg...

two yolks! kinda crazy that i've never in my life seen an egg with two yolks and then we find two in just a few weeks.

the boys and i are still reading through charlotte's web and i am still trudging through the hypnotist's love story.  i thought about giving up on it but decided to press on and i think (i hope!) i'll be happy i did. we'll see.

not much else going on around here. just a simple, quiet summer week. :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the one year post-therapy mark

july 24, 2013 was harrison's last occupational therapy session with juliana at STAR center. i wrote about the emotions of that day HERE.

it's been nearly one year but it feels like a lifetime ago.

harrison has changed quite a bit since then. i've changed too.

i'll start with myself...

i don't cry nearly as much.
i don't obsess about his quirks nearly as much.
i don't worry about him as much.
i don't worry about his future as much.
i haven't sent panicked text messages to his OTs in a long while.

i still - probably always will -  carefully think through how certain things/situations/environments/activities/food will affect him and do my best to prep him for those. BUT he almost always surprises me and surpasses my expectations, a sign that i could probably loosen up on the detailedness of my prep work just a little bit.

as far as sweet harrison...

my friend, amy, who's been by my side since the very beginning of all this commented last week about how great she thinks harrison is doing. she noticed how much he is talking and how well he is interacting both with kids and adults.

ms. johnson, harrison's first grade teacher, commented that since he had his tonsils out he is like a new kid. she said he asks lots more questions and communicates much more freely/easily. (i do think it's quite likely that the pain and irritation of his nasty tonsils was preventing him from being his full self).

he is able to watch movies. this is a big one. it was one of our main goals for therapy, believe it or not. it may sound silly but typical kids can watch most movies without even thinking about it. we wanted that for harrison too. if you remember back, attempting to watch the lion king movie was my first indication that something wasn't quite right with him. in the year since therapy has ended we've watched more movies than in the previous six years combined. harrison frequently boasts, while the credits roll, "well, that's another one i can check off the list!"

he does not get motion sickness anywhere near as much as he used to. again, this feels huge. it used to be harrsion would get sick once or twice during a 30 minute drive up the highway to meme and papa's house. lately we've been driving back and forth from the mountains (a 1-1.5 hour, curvy drive) and he hasn't gotten car sick in a very long while (with the exception of one day when he had a stomach virus). i've also noticed he seeks out the spinning playground equipment and doesn't have any trouble handling that at all.

i've noticed his ability to interact with kids his own age improving. he still has some trouble standing up for himself at times. he also still has trouble understanding when kids are just joking with him or being hurtful. i wholeheartedly believe these are things that will come with time and practice. the bigger point is that he doesn't shy away from verbal exchanges as much. just this past weekend he was playing at the park and a girl his age came to play on the same equipment as him. old harrison would have walked away but today's harrison stayed, played and actually laughed and talked with her!

harrison and the girl at the park.

confession: i might be crying just a little bit right now.

he is brave, stretching his wings to do things on his own, not wanting to cling to me anymore. a great example of this was his willingness and actual desire to be left at chuck e. cheese to navigate a friend's birthday party in a new environment all by himself. and he did awesome. yesterday i watched him perform well during a group swimming lesson in a loud, crowded pool - amazed.

he is better able to recognize his feelings AND he is better able to tell us about it. we still have quite a ways to go in this area but i am always impressed when he makes baby steps in the right direction. anger is easier for him to deal with than sadness or shame (if he hurts someone and has to apologize). i'd say that is true for every human being. he says "i love you" freely now. it's not every day but when he does say it it's sincere. he even says "i love you more than you think i do". that one gets me every time.

he is better able to handle touch. and, maybe more importantly, he is better able to tell us how he likes or doesn't like to be touched. mostly this arises between him and jeremy in the form of "your whiskers are too scratchy" or "you kiss me too hard" or "no hugs". i am so incredibly proud of harrison for expressing his needs. he will tell me, too, that he doesn't want to be hugged or, sometimes, that he needs squeezes and i accommodate. i've learned how to touch him in a way he finds comfortable so he trusts me. jeremy is still working on building that trust with harrison.

there was a boy in his class last year who was always hugging on harrison and we had to figure out a way to deal with that. harrison said, "i need help telling him to stop" (so proud that he was able to ask for help!) so i spoke with ms. johnson about it and she helped him talk to his buddy. situations like that are milestones. old harrison would have just stood still as stone in freeze mode until his friend got bored and went to hug someone else. today's harrison understands he is allowed to have an opinion about what's happening to him, he is allowed to express that opinion, and he is allowed to seek help if he needs it.

he is able to talk for himself now as opposed to me talking for him. 

i am noticing more abstract, imaginative thinking from him. the other day, in a group of friends, we were talking about an orange tabby cat that typically roams the neighborhood. none of us had seen the cat in a while and harrison said, "maybe he turned into a black ninja cat" and we all laughed. stuff like that never would have happened before.


there are more details i could share, more improvements i've seen...i think what it comes down to, though, is that we've found our "normal". we've found that place where life is moving forward and we aren't racing to keep up. we've reached the plateau on this journey, the place where we can catch our breath, look up and enjoy the view for awhile. and, listen, i know there will always be hills and valleys but it's so lovely to recognize this season of smooth passage.

today harrison knows he has a "really smart brain that works a bit differently than other kids' brains". he knows he has "superhero sensitivities", a really strong sense of smell and taste and hearing and touch. i haven't noticed any negative self-esteem issues with regard to these characteristics, he seems to just accept this is the way he is.

that's my always prayer for him and for me and for each of you - that we would all be able to accept and love ourselves (and each other!) just as we are.

and if you are on a journey today i pray you find your plateau soon.

Monday, June 16, 2014

two ingredient cookie dough

this is not the kind of cookie dough you bake. 

it's the kind you eat right off the spoon. 

a two-ingredient, instant-fix, sooooooo good sweet treat. 


it is incredibly delicious and tastes exactly like chocolate chip cookie dough.

you are welcome.

Friday, June 13, 2014

summer 2014 - week two

we started this week up in the mountains. can you find three fox that were so sweetly sitting just below our balcony? (blurry photo - sorry). we were up and back within 24 hours. in that time we saw bighorn sheep, elk, fox, deer, even chickens...but no moose.

teaching the girl next door how to make a paper airplane.

us at the zoo.

we saw the baby clouded leopards at the zoo. love, love, loved them. and i love that we've had the opportunity to see so many baby animals - tigers, giraffe, chimps...

playing with shaving cream and food coloring.

playing trouble. and every other board game we own.

the boys' read aloud for the week.

my book for the week.

we got the boys a dresser from ikea and it has made my life so much easier! i used to fold their clothes in the basement then bring them upstairs to hang them in the closet. and for the record, this was the most difficult piece of ikea furniture i've ever put together!

harrison made a radio with his snap circuit set and it worked! we listened to the rockies baseball game. and hello there, dust.

we had a playdate and lunch with great friends this week, enjoyed it so much i never once thought to get out the camera.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

thursday things that made me think

a few little nuggets this week...

this made me think amen!!. at harrison's, and soon to be graham's, school the first grade class got one 10-15 minute recess. my boy is allowed to use fidget toys in the classroom during the day and i'm so thankful for that. one thing harrison's teacher did so well this past year was building in "brain breaks" where the kids could get up, move around, dance, shake, wiggle & squirm. i'm thankful for that too! i have to admit, though, when i read this i wasn't just focused on school...i was thinking about what i can do better at home to get us all up and moving more.

i loved the idea of making a simple outdoor reading tent from this post.

ten health benefits of coconut oil.

no doubt my boys would send me a letter similar to this one. on the drive home from the mountains last weekend i kept them entertained for an hour with the diarrhea song. good lord they loved it! never heard the diarrhea song? here it is. you're welcome. or i'm sorry.

if, like me, you are looking for a list of great read-aloud books for boys, here is one.

i plan to make this concoction for the boys. and i'm sure i'll have fun playing with it too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

the denver zoo - our visits throughout the years

the denver zoo is one of our very favorite places to go. i took the boys yesterday for the first time in a long while and we had a lovely morning there. i commented that it was so nice to walk around without pushing a stroller, carrying a diaper bag, or holding one of them on my hip. i put my phone, cards and keys in my wallet and was completely hands-free the whole time! so much has changed since we became zoo members five years ago.

june 2014, looking at the polar bear exhibit

september 2010, looking at the polar bear exhibit

june 2014, standing on the fence

september 2010, standing on the fence

harrison, june 2014, in the penguin house

 september 2012

october 2011

may 2011

september 2010

graham, june 2014, in the penguin house

september 2012

october 2011

may 2011

september 2010

my favorite photo from our trip to the zoo yesterday:

one of my all time favorite photos from our many, many trips to the denver zoo: