Welcome Back

I haven’t been writing in a while….. ya know life gets in the way because it’s often more fun to live it than write about it!

Anyways! As you can see I’ve upgraded my site, included some new info, and even a couple new pages.

Oh what’s that you see? Run Coaching?! Yup! I’m working on my certification course right now!

Want to see what I’ve been up to this year? Go browse my Instagram @mommainthemountains as it’s WAY too much to write about.

Quick snipets:

Took the wee man backpacking

Ran in the mountains – a lot

Raced

Joined a few teams! (UltrAspire and rabbit)

Started writing a cookbook

And launched a new section of my business!

More to come! Stay Happy and Healthy my friends!

Ya know we all need a laugh, right?

I Run For Me (…And Leadville)

Most of the people in my adult life know me as an avid trail runner. I can tell you that definitely wasn’t always the case. I never ran until college. It was my escape from an abusive relationship #metoo . Then in the Army I actually learned HOW to run and figured out I was good at it (at least in longer distances). It became my sport, my life, my identity.

I’ve always run for myself. I enjoy running and often don’t give a crap about how fast or slow or whatever. Yea sure I’ll work on my form if that means it hurts less. Yea recently I’ve decided playing with speed can be fun too. After college, after the Army, I wanted to start racing. In my mind, I’ve always been an ultra distance trail runner I just didn’t know that’s what it was called. I knew there were tons of road races, but I hate running roads. So I started obstacle racing because it was the closest thing to trail running I knew about in race form. To say I did well might be an understatement, placing second elite female in my first EVER race at the 2013 Spartan Military Sprint in Fort Carson, CO. I missed the podium and awards completely because I didn’t think I had even come close to pacing and went straight onto volunteering for the rest of the day, finally checking my results as we packed down the finish line.

Fast forward 3 years. I was working at then called Sierra Trading Post, primarily in the footwear department. I had maintained trail running crazy distances around my life and medical issues. All of this was solo, just exploring what I could find. My coworker head about this and decided he should introduce me to The Leadville Trail Series. He had raced the 50 mile mountain bike race the year prior and knew there was a run.

I had NEVER raced this distance (or anything on trails actually at this point).

So what did I do? I signed up. I trained – my style – exploring mountains 1x a week, running with my pup every day, before work, after work, carrying a ruck sack and trying to beat myself on a crappy fun loop, and well fastpacking 155 miles 2 weeks before the race. Because in my mind if I could do 155 miles alone, with a pack and my dog, the race could just be fun.

Leadville changed my life. I didn’t finish the race (in fact I have yet to finish any “official” trail race), but I made it half way, seeing the entire out and back course and successfully tearing hip flexors and my Achilles after a fall at mile 6. I was carried out of the medic tent and spent the next few days requiring my poles to walk around town before I made it to the doc who issued good old crutches.

But that’s not the point. Leadville is where it all became reality. I learned about this amazing community of ultra runners. It’s where I met my friends Sean, Jared, and Jen. It’s where I learned about Runner’s Roost Colorado (and they existed in more than 1 location) and got to step inside their team tent – causing me to have a new dream to be on a race team. It’s how I learned about run clubs and this stupid crazy fun sport we know as ultra running.

Want a running picture? Run with Sean – he’s guaranteed to take one! lol

Shortly after Leadville I went into medical crisis. To top it off I was rear ended horribly about midway through this crisis. In January of 2017 I was sent home to starve to death…..

But you know what was hanging on my door…..my Leadville bib. See I was bib 100 – Lucky 100 – is what every other runner called me during the race. And maybe my race didn’t end well, but I still say it was lucky in a different way. After 3 days of being home, off ALL meds, I found the will to try and live. Three weeks later I had re-taught myself to walk and run and joined the Belmar Running Club out of Lakewood’s Runner’s Roost.

Belmar Running Club….2017??

Fast forward another 3 years. I’ve met people like Anton Krupicka, Camille Herron, Courtney Dewaulter, and Claire Glallagher. I’ve volunteered at races more than I’ve raced, including becoming a course sweeper at the amazing Devil on the Divide Race. I’ve crewed and paced The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. I’ve left it all out there in Crested Butte in a whopping 5 miles (supposed to be 105k). I’ve done all this while working through my medical issues and becoming a mom to an autistic boy with many special needs (and also learning I’m autistic with ADHD).

I’m now officially a member of the RAD Rabbit race team, repping Rabbit – a pretty cool company out of CA founded by WOMEN. I blog and review gear, I teach women about being on trails, and I’ve been granted some pretty sweet deals by a lot of companies to make this happen.

This year – the oh so fun year of 2020 – was supposed to be my coming back to Leadville year. Unfortunately, like most races in the world, the entire Leadville Series has been cancelled.

So on July 11 – the day this year’s Silver Rush 50 Mile Run was supposed to take place – I will run 50 miles from my door. While as always #irunforme , on this day I will also run for Leadville #IRun4Leadville. Leadville is a beautiful mountain town nestled in the CO Rockies at 10,152 feet elevation. Like many mountain towns it depends on it’s tourist events and sporting events to provide income to the town, all of which are cancelled for the town for the year of 2020. I have a goal of raising $1000 to go to the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation. This foundation provides education options and opportunities for the people of Leadville and Lake County, CO which have been severely impacted by the cancellation of these events this summer. You can learn more about the foundation at: https://www.leadvilletrail100legacy.org/ and donate HERE.

OUR MISSION:
SUPPORT THE NEEDS OF THE LEADVILLE & LAKE COUNTY COMMUNITY & BUILD A BETTER, BRIGHTER TOMORROW, WHILE RESPECTING OUR MINING HERITAGE.

CORE VALUES: 
The Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation Core Values will inspire our decisions and guide our funding choices.
Education – we support partnerships that motivate Leadville Lake County youth to further themselves through educational opportunities.
Economic Vitality– we are committed to ensuring a thriving economy for our town, and value ideals that pursue economic success and prosperity.
Community – we support ideas and participate in initiatives with other Leadville Lake County partners, that benefit the greater good of the town.
Recreation – we value the benefits of recreation in promoting and encouraging a quality, healthy life for our Leadville Lake county community.
Our Legacy – we appreciate and value the mining history that got us here.   We understand it is an important part of the culture of the town and what makes Leadville unique.”

As we get closer I will share my approximate route map and a link you can use to “live track” my progress. I will be using the #IRun4Leadville. My goals are:

  1. finish in 16 hours – the time needed for my 100 mile race that is still scheduled to happen in September
  2. finish in 14 hours – the standard cutoff time for Silver Rush
  3. finish in time for dinner – because food

Gear you’re guaranteed to see me in:

  • Rabbit clothing
  • Topo Athletic shoes
  • Swiftwick Socks
  • Suncloud Optics sunglasses
  • UltrAspire vest

If you’re local and want to come cheer me on I’d love to see you out there with cowbells!

I Will Not Be Silent

I debated sharing this but I don’t want those of you in the same position to feel alone and those of you not in this position should know what is going on.

In short, due to policies put in place at this time, my son has been denied and is being further denied medical care.

For those who haven’t been following me long, my son is autistic and has multiple medical conditions. In January he had surgery on his spinal cord, and to this day we cannot follow up.

Like many families with someone with disabilities we have been unable to get proper therapies and supports at this time. My son is on the Medicaid Child with Extensive Services (CES) waiver and we cannot get a single service it is supposed to provide. Our own pediatritian’s office isn’t even seeing children if they are sick at all, COVID possible or not.

My son was supposed to have a follow up MRI for his medical conditions around his brain and spine back in March. This was immediately postponed before the Stay-At-Home even started. Now policies have made it so we are being denied this care and it has now been canceled. This MRI is supposed to provide answers to whether or not his surgery worked, if his related conditions are improving, not changing, or getting worse, and if he is in need of further surgery. If he is getting worse or in need of further surgery, every delay in getting there means potentially permanent brain and nerve damage.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is not letting anyone in the building over the age of 2 without a mask. Under 2 is exempt because of safety concerns around choking and breathing. While technically my son fits the exception rules, I have to fight it every time I speak with someone or show up. My son has multiple documented medical and developmental reasons wearing a mask is actually dangerous for him. Children’s Hospital Colorado Anschutz Campus is located in Aurora County/Tri-County and it is NOT a requirement (just an encouragement) for masks to be worn. The general age in the state of CO where masks are required is age 3 and up due to these same safety concerns, yet Children’s Hospital has dropped the age a full year.

The hospital is also not allowing more than one parent with the child at given time. Again we fit the exception, but just being on the phone trying to sort things out today I’ve already fought this multiple times. An MRI at my son’s age is required to be sedated and is already extremely traumatic.

My wee man helping make camp food.

These we can fight (albeit repeatedly) and still get care. The final part which lead to my son’s care being canceled (not even rescheduled at this point) is the policy around mandatory COVID testing. Because my son needs to be sedated, they refuse the MRI unless the following is met, no compromises.

  • Must be tested via swab for COVID within 24-48 hours before appointment
  • Testing must be done at a Children’s Hospital testing site. The only locations are Aurora or Colorado Springs, both over an hour drive one way for us. No testing from any other site will be accepted.
  • These testing sites are drive-up style to a “shed” (their description not mine). No one is allowed out of the vehicle. The child MUST remain in their car seat. You cannot hold your child. You cannot swaddle your child (this is how we managed his swab when he had RSV and Adenovirus last year)
  • The swab must be swirled in the nasal cavity for a full 15 second count (this actually left my mom with two black eyes)

This IS TORTURE!

This is unnecessary testing in the most torturous way. The person performing the test will be full gown and masked. That is scary to a child. For many with special needs the car is already a hard enough challenge. I literally just got him to stop trying to escape the car seat every time we drive. But the only way they will test is if he remains buckled in his seat?! My son and our entire family are healthy and have not been exposed and symptom free. They won’t blood type my son even when doing other labs even when he had surgery, but this is MANDATORY?!

This is traumatising and torturous. They already fail to provide and take into account the mental health of very young children and they want to add this on. There is no mental health support for these children or their parents. Getting ahold of a human being instead of a recording has proven to be near impossible (I only got ahold of one because they called me in regards to his eating restrictions for the appointment), so instead I am bringing it to the attention of everyone.

Below is the intial letter I sent my district congressman and senator. I have heard back from the senator’s office and will be continuing our conversation with them. I am actually impressed with the intial response from Senator Brittany Pettersen’s office. I am still waiting to hear from the office of Congressman Ed Perlmutter.

Home from surgery wagon nap.

I am writing in regards to the ongoing and new healthcare policies around COVID-19 and how it effects those with disabilities.

Both myself and my two year old son fall under this purview with multiple disabilities between us. I am now being told it is REQUIRED that all persons age of 2 and up wear a mask to any medical appointment. I fear being denied medical care (which we already have been denied critical care that very well may be resulting in permanent brain and nerve damage for my son) because my son cannot wear a mask.

Wearing a mask is not an option for many of us with disabilities for a variety of reasons; including, but not limited to: difficulties breathing when our lungs already work overtime, mental health issues such as extreme claustrophobia and panic attacks, sensory related issues where in anything near the face is intolerable and even painful, etc. For a young child it is impossible for them to understand or even try to navigate around these situations. They are not developmentally capable of having coping mechanisms. In many these situations can lead to self harm. In my son’s specific case this leads to self harm of the head often resulting in concussions.

I am now be faced with the decision to attempt to force my son to wear something that will likely lead to him harming himself and/or others or further postponing critical medical care that is the difference between further permanent brain and nerve damage or having the ability to get proper medical treatment.

Not only is this a physical issue but we are also in the realm of creating horrendous mental health issues for children and parents alike. Having severe and chronic medical issues has already proven to be traumatic to my son and many others. Now I’m being told I am required to further this trauma by adding this to it.

In addition the science being reported to the public is extremely conflicting on itself and does not make sense when one takes a look a the bigger picture. Masks (especially homemade cloth masks or face covers such as buffs and bandannas) do not provide any substantial prevention of spread of viruses. It is also conflicting to require them in a medical facility where many procedures and exams require that they be removed for the actual procedure or exam to take place.

I say further denied medical care as we have already had this critical medical care pushed back far past the recommended time frame. We have also lost all therapy services and all services provided under the Medicaid CES waiver. At this time we are being told they will not be allowed to resume for at least another month if not longer, meaning we have lost ALL medical care for 3 or more months due to the policies being put in place.

This is completely unacceptable. It is also a violation of constitutional and human rights. My family is now in serious danger of further being denied medical care due to disability.

So my question to you is:

What are you doing to protect the rights of those of us who are disabled in any way that this situation has prevented us from being treated fairly and getting proper medical care?

The Need to Run

Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com

Everyone has a why. Whether it’s running, or hiking, trails or not. For many the why that started it isn’t the same as the why they still do it today.

For me my why of why I started running is the same as a story many women are stepping forward and sharing. It’s my #metoo. But that’s not why I am here today. It’s not a story I care to retell anymore. I’ve moved on.

Me getting ready to run at the Crested Butte Ultra 105k back in September

Even today my why can change throughout the year. But RIGHT NOW, RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT, my why is ME. Trail runner, mountain mom – these are the essence of who I AM. But right now, right now I’m the mom of the kid who needs spinal surgery. I’m the mom who doesn’t know when she last washed her hair. I’m the mom who has become better than the care coordinators at the hospital at coordinating care. I’m the mom who can pretty much give you a tour of the entire Children’s Hospital and knows where most every department is – because I take my son to all of them. BUT THIS ISN’T ME

This is not who I am. I hate this. Right now I’m just that mom. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom, just not when I have to do this. Not when I have to lose the essence of who I AM so my family is ok.

The mountains are calling. 

Right now, my need to run is more important than ever. If I don’t do it now, I feel I will be lost forever. I don’t mean that I’ll die, but that I will lose the essence of who I am. I need the trails to remind me what the earth beneath my feet feels like. I need the wind through the trees to remind me what fresh air moving feels like. I need the birds singing to remind me that hospital monitors are not the song of my life. I need the cold crisp air of the wintery mountains to remind me to breathe it all in. I need the colors of the sun against wilderness to calm my overstimulated mind that is sick of city noises.

I need to run. I need to feel my body do something other than phone calls and paperwork.

I need to run. I need to be hungry for quality food that sustains an active life.

I need to run. I need to be physically tired so my mind can rest.

I need to run. I need to feel the burn in my legs and lungs to remind me I am still very much so alive and not the zombie I feel like.

I need to run. I need to just BE ME, even if only for an hour.

I need to run. I need to run on trails. Because if I don’t I just might lose myself.

Even in winter I long to be on the trails.

Topo Runventure 3 Review

Believe it or not I never ran until college. When I did start running for real the only shoes I liked were true minimalist shoes – as in so minimalist you could role up TWO pairs and put them in a Nalgene. My mom called them rubber socks). Prior to that you’d only catch me barefoot or in riding boots (and then military boots). I couldn’t run a mile to save my life when I first started, but that’s exactly why I started running – to save my life from an abusive relationship.

Remember these?! Yea I loved them! I could get 1000+ miles per pair. I wish they would make them again.

Anyways, up until a couple years ago all I wore were New Balance Minimalist shoes…..until they quit making them.

Since than finding shoes has been a pain. Eventually I settled on Salomon S/Labs. These are no longer meeting my needs, getting narrower and a wee bit odder every year (this year they added new ‘socks’ to them). My feet were torn apart from them being too narrow on my last run in them. However I really didn’t want to lose the ability to stick to wet slick rock that these shoes provided. So here began my next round of hunting for new trail shoes….again.

I already gave my brief review of the Topo MT-3 (here). I still love the overall fit of Topo so next up came the new Topo Runventure 3.

Specs

Best For: Trail Running

Stack Height: 20mm (0 drop)

Heel to Toe Drop: 0MM

Weight: 7.6 oz (W7) (215 grams – only 10 more than the new S/Lab Sense Pro SG)

I really like these. One thing though is I wear a full size smaller in these compared to my other Topo’s. However – this means that they fit more true to size in comparison to other brands. So Now I wear a W9 in New Balance, Newtons, Altra, Salomon S/Lab, and the Topo Runventure 3.

I had tried Altras early on in my hunt for new trail shoes while trying to stay minimalist. I really don’t like a heel to tow drop greater than 4mm and definitely prefer 0mm. But for me the Altras were too roomy. They weren’t secure in the heel or mid-foot. I also found Altras to be too much cushion and not enough support.

The Runventure’s are a 0mm drop! Woo Hoo! They are a bit more cushion than I’m used to but they have a nice responsive rockplate in the forefoot and are a fairly firm stiff shoe that really gives that support I’m looking for on trails. They fit much narrower in the heel and mid-foot while still allowing plenty of toe space. Running downhill in these was fantastic. I had room to splay my toes but at the same time I had ZERO issues with my foot sliding forward or hitting my toes on the edges of the shoe. There’s ample toe protection too.

The Runventure also boasts an awesome sticky Vibram XS Trek EVO outsole. While it will be a bit before I can really test these in some mountain terrain (thanks COVID), Vibram has a reputation for having amazing sticky outsoles. And fresh out of the box they were sticking to my floor, so I have no doubt they will be fine. The outsole also has a fairly aggressive tread, but not so aggressive that it’s uncomfortable to be on pavement for sort bouts. These will fair well in wet muddy terrain and soft sandy trails and anything in between.

My biggest complaint about the MT-3 was the lack of breathability. These are much more breathable than the MT-3 with a durable coated mesh and drainage ports. They still aren’t as breathable as I’d like but this I will sacrifice for the rest of the shoe.

The laces are standard laces but they aren’t as slick and slippery as the ones on the MT-3 so they stayed laced with no problem. You’ll notice my funky lacing pattern – most shoes (not just Topo’s) that use standard laces put a pressure spot on the top of my instep. By simply changing the lacing pattern and pairing with a heel lock lace, I can alleviate this issue – Yay no numb toes (took me years to figure out this was why).

My funky lacing to relieve pressure on my instep.

Also happy to announce the women’s shoe is not pink or purple. It comes in Black/Grey or Green/Grey (men’s come in Black/Blue and Grey/Red).

These are definitely comfortable too. Fresh out of the box I happily got a solid 11+ miles with no issues. My friend got a solid 10 miles fresh out of the box with his as well.

My friend John’s new pair after their first 10 miles fresh out of the box.

If you’d like to try them for yourself go here. Bonus my friend John is an ambassador and often has options for discounts. Just reach out to him here or here.

Stay tuned – up next will be one of my new packs from UltrAspire (either the Basham or the Astral 3.0)!

Nathan VaporHowe 2.0 4L Review

So the thing that started this spurt of mini review was that my former favorite running pack – the Nathan VaporMag – ripped at a seam substantially enough that I lost my favorite pair of cold weather arm warmer (which I sadly can’t replace).

Busted seam in my Nathan VaporMag

Nathan has awesome customer service and promptly replaced my ripped pack with a new a one. Unfortunately the VaporMag has been discontinued, so they sent me the closest thing – the VaporHowe 2.0 4L.

I’m going to upfront about my overall opinion – I hate it. It will be going to my good friend who loves the VaporHowe line. That being said there were some good things about it too.

Really the only thing I didn’t like about the VaporMag was the lack of a place to store my poles. The VaporHowe has two times the capacity and still NO PLACE FOR POLES. Also, with the added capacity you’d hope at least one back pocket would be reachable while wearing. Instead they are all deep pockets that just layer outward on each other, with the outer most pocket being a vertical zip. To get anything out the whole pack must come off.

The VaporMag upper back pocket is just open (and no nothing ever fell out). The VaporHowe uses velcro closures. The closures are nice but velcro and long hair don’t mix. My hair was constantly catching on the velcro and geting pulled out.

The VaporMag is a super breathable mesh. The VaporHowe is the compressive stretchy material. This material is super soft, but also super hot and not breathable at all.

The fit isn’t great either. While the size was correct and the pack sat appropriately on my body, the straps made it too tight. Full I couldn’t even buckle the bottom strap without inhibiting my breathing and one strap equaled lots of bounce. The new straps aren’t stretchy (in theory the fabric of the whole pack is supposed to stretch with your body’s movements).

Ok so what did I like?

The one thing I really liked about the pack was the big pocket for a phone up front. It is underneath one of the water bottles and more than fit my iPhone X in it’s case. This pocket is rater resistance line ONLY on the water bottle side, not the side against the body, so sweat is still a big issue here.

The bottles are 20 oz (600 mL) each which is double that of the VaporMag. They also have a spine to help them not collapse (all of Nathan’s soft bottles do!). These bottles also have the straight straw. The straight straw is much easier to clean than the angles one. However, with how the pack sits I kept getting hit in the face by them. The water bottle on the side without the phone pocket bounced a lot once it wasn’t completely full, something with the difference in structure failed to fully support the water bottle. These bottles actually fit my VaporMag and really old Solomon Adv Skin 12 Set better than they fit in the VaporHowe, so they will still get used. (Hopefully they work with my new packs I’m testing as well – stay tuned.)

Above Left to Right VaporHowe Bottles and VaporMag Bottles. Note the round bottomed VaporMag bottles actually can stand up full on their own which is pretty awesome. The VaporHowe bottles cannot.

It has a nice little pill pocket with an emergency whistle – unfortunately I lost everything I put in the pocket as is has no closure.

The pack is compatible with a 1.5L hydration bladder and comes with a magnet clip.

The pack comes in colors other than pink. In fact they sent me a blue one. And it has reflective materials/printing on front and back.

If you’d like to try it for yourself you can get it here (or probably your local running store).

Stay tuned for more reviews as I find my new running favorites. Next up the Topo Runventure 3 shoes.

Topo MT-3 Review

Recently I’ve really been struggling with running it seems – not the actual act of but all my gear failing/no longer fitting properly. My pack ripped, most of my running bottoms don’t fit, my trail shoes just ripped my feet apart because they don’t fit right, and so on. So I’ve decided as I start my journey of finding new things I will share my reviews.

So to begin – really I should start with the Nathan VaporHowe2.0 4L but I’ll come back to that one.

For now, the Topo MT-3 trail/road combined surface shoe. (note I wear 1 full size larger in most Topo shoes than other brands)

Specs:

  • Best For: Trail Running
  • Stack Height:25mm (heel) // 22mm (forefoot)
  • Heel to Toe Drop:3MM
  • Weight:8 oz (W7)

These have no rock plate and not too aggressive of a tread.

They are SUPER comfy! Definitely going to give them that. Even running fresh out of the box on beat up blistered feet, I was comfy. They are a lot more cushion than I’m used to on trails but not so much so I couldn’t feel the ground.

They use traditional laces. This is good and bad, I found the lace material to slip a little so over the course of my run my shoes got slightly looser. My heels slip around in these despite having used a heel lock lacing pattern – which I think is because the lacing didn’t remain tight.

About halfway through my run I realized my feet were on fire. It looked like the shoes were retaining my sweat but I wasn’t 100% sure. Afterall, my feet had been pretty hot when I put the shoes on in the first place. I decided I would go stand in the river for a moment – this would both cool my feet off and really give me a better sense of their breatheability.

They took a bit to get wet! Ok Yay they seem to be fairly water resitant. But once they were wet – they never really drained, AT ALL. So I wasn’t crazy that I felt like they were retaining my sweat -they were. I do think this actually would be nice in winter conditions where you don’t want snow to get your feet wet or the wind to make them cold – the rest of the year these are going to be pretty toasty shoes.

I also remember when I first put them on that the upper material seemed really loud and crinkly to me. I just thought it was annoying.

Overall, I think these would be great shoes in the winter. They are definitely comfy, but too hot and not breathable enough for the rest of the year.

If you’d like to try them yourself: https://www.topoathletic.com/womens-mt-3?color=95

False Spring

Neighbor’s day blooming flowers soaking up some sun

As spring encroaches on the everlasting winter,

The sun bring warm days full of false hope of no more snow

Kids fill the streets with dusted off bikes and laughter

Wee man’s first year riding a bike!

The grass starts to show signs of still being alive

Flower start to push their way up through the muddy ground

All I can think of is waking in the mountains

Tent covered in dew drops

Shivering as I wake the fire

As the sun lights the valley,

The birds start to sing

The mountains wake

Elk bugle somewhere off in the distance

Squirrels start to chatter

But today it is still winter

We call this false spring down in town

The mountains still covered deep with snow

With winds that bite

But sun that shines and

Brings the world back to life

Not Admitted Doesn’t Equal No Hospital Time…And other coming home struggles

Last time we were admitted I meant to share about the aftermath….but I never did because well – life.

Time in the hospital always messes up life. The follow ups, the returning to “normal”, the figuring out where you left off, and the determining if “normal” will even exist again. (Ok it will eventually!)

This time around after we came home I had to coordinate 8 follow up appointments all as soon as possible. But it was Thanksgiving the next week. The way this worked out was that we went home, took a week off from being in the hospital and then ended up back 4 out of 5 days following the holidays!

We had to of course follow up with our regular pediatrician like always after being in the hospital (managed this before holiday at least ). We had to follow up with neurosurgery to figure out a plan of next steps. We had to follow up with urology to make sure we weren’t missing some possible problems the troubles in his spine could cause. This also meant we had to get more imaging done. Then there were some already scheduled follow ups that became even more important, including pulmonology and developmental pediatrics. We had to see a new department to help us continue to coordinate care between so many specialties in hospital called the special care team. And of course had to follow up with therapy (1 appointment at the hospital and several at home).

Children’s Hospital is very good at having different forms of entertainment. Here we got o see the 101st Army Band with the Colorado National Guard perform Christmas music! It was his first live music exposure and they were great about sharing their stories and engaging in his fascination for shiny things (the instruments) before their performance.

If you only look at the logistics of what happens after coming home it’s really not that bad. But being in the hospital messes up everyone’s sleep and eating schedule. The dogs were antsy from us being gone and therefore frequently in our faces. Wee man is traumatized and scared to death of sleeping – I believe because of the MRI’s where he had to wake with stranger and no parents. I am exhausted and overwhelmed as I imagine his dad is too. We all wish this was just some bad dream we’d wake up from.

After going through everything my poor wee man needs surgery. It’s big and scary to say your two year old needs surgery on his spinal cord. But I’m doing my best to remember that if all works out the way we hope it will alleviate a ton of pain; which in turn hopefully improve sleep and many other areas of life we struggle. A good majority of this could all be related to these complications with his spinal chord.

Making the best of the holidays.

Dealing with this around holidays is tricky. I literally forget that a holiday is coming. Plus I’m trying to catch up on my own health and appointments I had to reschedule while we were in the hospital. And of course wee man got a lovely cold and ear infection to top things off. We have to do everything we can to keep his lungs healthy, not just for his general health but also so can actually have the surgery he needs.

So the next month will be a crazy bit of chaos … and then hopefully we’ll return to that “normal” – maybe even improved in areas (sleep I hope). And then we’ll be back in the mountains and off adventuring as much as we can (big plans for the next year ;)). But if you think we’ve vanished, we’re just dealing with this chaos- and yea we probably need help with something (see blog My Guide to Helping Families with a Child in the Hospital).

My Guide to Helping Families with a Child in the Hospital

Before I continue our story I want to share more on how you can help. In the last few years between NICU, RSV/Adenovirus/Pneumonia stay, and this most recent round of hospital time, it has occurred to me most people don’t know how to help.

Most people ask “Let me know if I can do anything”, or “how can I help?”, but when you’re a frazzled parent with a kid in the hospital the answer to these is pretty much always “I don’t know”.

So how can you help and be more specific? (the local list)

1- Provide food!! There are lots of ways to do this. But remember hospital food sucks and is expensive. Ways to provide food vary widely: provide home cooked food, provide gift cards to places near hospital (bonus if they deliver), provide gift card for the REAL coffee place inside the hospital (at Children’s in CO this is Dazbog), pick up groceries, share those extra breakfast burritos you weren’t going to finish (seriously a neighbor did this for us and it provided 4 meals for Dad who was going back and forth). Food needs are just as important if not more so upon return home. We may have a full fridge but everything it has spoiled! My neighbors were awesome and set up a meal train (literally there’s a website called mealtrain.com that sets up the calendar and lets people sign up to bring you food). I had never really heard of this before and it has saved us big time with all our follow ups. Yea we had time to make it to the grocery store but not to actually cook.

A very lovely fresh meal! I feel so blessed after so many people have brought us home coked meals. This last one was from someone I had only met once and didn’t even realize was a neighbor!

2-Watch/care for pets. It’s always hard with a kid in the hospital to make sure your pets are fed and let out. Even if it’s the bare minimum – food, water, toilet – this is a huge help.

3-If the family has other kids, take them somewhere fun that’s not the hospital. Be it a sleepover with your kids, a movie, a park, anything – get them out and playing and show them they are still loved. My son may not have siblings but I do and I watched my cousin’s siblings go through some rough times while she was in the hospital. Getting siblings some fun time makes a world of difference.

4-Clean! One of the oddest things that never crosses my mind until I’m in the midst of it is how much we need a clean home when when get to be home! The piles of laundry, the musty smelling sheets, the filthy floor, the pile of dishes that are weeks old, etc. One neighbor came by while I got wee man down for nap and swept and vacuumed the whole house and finished up dishes I had started. Another neighbor sent over their 2 oldest kids after school and it was awesome. They mopped, cleaned toilets, helped fold laundry, cleaned a nose-print covered window, put away the now clean dishes, demolished my need to shred pile in the shredder, played with the wee man while I did a few chores they couldn’t, wiped down all our door knobs and light switches with disinfectant wipes, and all the while claimed it was more fun than the chores their mom gives them (seriously they are welcome back anytime!).

5- Visit us in the hospital – but bring goodies! What I really mean is we would love to see an adult that isn’t medical personnel, but we would also love a clean set of clothes, a treat for us parents, some socks, maybe a hairbrush and toothbrush. When we were in the hospital during the pneumonia stay our friends brought us one of those cube boxes full. It had a giant stuffed sloth for wee man, some magazines appropriate for both adults and wee man (Nat Geo, a cooking one, and some other adventure one), sweatpants that were big enough to fit either mom or dad, food snacks like apples and clementines, a few books for wee man (favorite is still Never Feed a Yeti Spaghetti), and the best part was the avoCATo fuzzy slippers with grippers on the bottom (still my favorite and I still take them to the hospital). The box itself was also fun and covered in sequence that you can brush with your hand to change how it looks. Super entertaining.

Sloth as big as wee man! Thanks friend! (PS – check out her blogs at PicklesAndUnicorns and LightningPickles)

So you’re not local, but want to help? What are other options?

DONATE! There are so many ways to donate that mean a lot to us families with kids in the hospital, even if it never reaches us directly. There is always the option to donate money directly but that’s not the only option.

You can donate food and supplies to programs like There With Care that provide families with food and supplies for their kid. So when we were in the NICU they provided not only weekly bags of food, but a “baby shower in a bag”(bag of items from clothes to toys to blankets and soap etc that one would typically get at their baby shower), a pack of diapers, a NEW car seat, and a NEW pack’n’play!

Children’s Hospitals are always in need of new coloring supplies and non-plush toys. These fill activity rooms and provide entertain for thousands of kids. Some even are gifted to the kids struggling so they have something new and special that is theirs.

Donate time! AKA – volunteer. I don’t think there is ever a shortage of volunteers – either at the hospitals or programs that help with transitions home.

Blood and Plasma! Yes this is life saving! Right now I know our Colorado Children’s Hospitals are in CRITICAL NEED. They need ALL blood types and plasma. 1 blood donation has the potential to help up to 5 children.

And of course FOOD! You don’t need to be local to help with food. Gift cards these days can be sent electronically and a lot of places that deliver can take orders online – so yes someone in Florida can have food delivered to a family in Colorado.

I’m sure there are other ways you can help a family with a child in the hospital. My biggest thing, is don’t ask a vague “how can I help” question. Instead be specific, and volunteer what you can do.