background img

Denver Open Adoption Expert Launches Podcast for Adoptive Parents

In time for National Adoption Awareness Month, Mile High Mama Lori Holden has unveiled a new podcast called Adoption: The Long View. Sponsored by Adopting.com, Lori’s podcast helps adopting and adoptive parents understand that filling the crib is just the beginning of the journey, not the end.
 
“It’s like the wedding versus the marriage,” Lori says from a Denver-area suburb. “Once you are legally joined to your beloved child, your journey is not over. It’s the beginning of the much longer journey. This podcast covers many of the things parents need to know early on to navigate adoptive parenting over the long view. That means from the baby years to the toddler years, through the school years and teenage years and into young adulthood. With some amazing guests, we cover what I’ve learned from listening to adopted people and others over the last 20 years, perspectives I wish I’d known at the beginning.”
 
Lori, mom-by-adoption to a son and daughter aged 17 and 19, is a longtime writer at LavenderLuz.com as well as here at Mile High Mamas. Senator Michael Bennet honored her as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018. Her book The Open-Hearted-Way to Open Adoption, is on required reading lists of adoption agencies around the country, as it helps parents shift from an Either/Or mindset to a BothAnd heartset. That shift in orientation, Lori says, “can help the child better integrate all their pieces, those of biology and those of biography.”
 
Spend National Adoption Awareness Month listening to adoption luminaries who explore topics helpful to adoptive parents.

(Angela Tucker of Episode 4)

 
Ep 1: Cultivating Openness in Your Adoption, with single mom Leah Campbell. People may think that “open adoption” is all about having the birth parents around. But Leah and Lori let parents in on a secret: openness is even more about what you want to cultivate between you and your child. You want to be their safe space, the person they can come to with anything and everything. We do this by working on our own stuff and healing our own wounds.
 
Ep 2: Birth Mother Grief, Healing, and the Importance of Adoption Education, with first mom Ashley Mitchell. Ashley tells of how she and her son’s parents learned to “dance” together to ensure that he remained the focus of their efforts. Fourteen years into living in open adoption, Ashley is a voice for birth parents and a coach of adoptive parents. She shares her thoughts on pre-adoptive education for all parties and post-adoption counseling, as well.
 
Ep 3: Inconceivable Yet True: One Mom’s Journey Through Adoption, Surrogacy & Parenting, with Carolyn Savage. Maybe you heard about this unbelievable case on the news when it happened. Within a span of 18 months, Caroline both placed her newborn in the arms of another woman, and received her twins from the arms of another woman. She has lots to say about being on either side of this sacred sharing, and offers parents her guiding principle.
 
Ep 4: Ending Shame & Secrecy: A Discussion about Adoptee Rights, with adoptee and activist Rich Uhrlaub. Rich answered so many questions about the adoptee perspective: why is it wrong to seal records from adopted people? Why is genealogy an acceptable hobby for everyone except adopted people? What’s it like when your family is not your ancestors? He also shares how “Gotcha Day” can land with an adoptee and why adoptive parents may want to avoid using that phrase.
 
Ep 5: Wedged Between the Pain of One Set of Parents and the Joy of Another, with transracial adoptee Angela TuckerAngela tells a story about what can happen to an adopted person when they repeat an oft-used adoptive parent explanation like “born in my heart.” She also reveals the one thing that can stop an adoptee in their tracks from being authentic and vulnerable with their parents.
 
Ep 6: “You’re Not My Real Mom!” and Other Real Fears of Adoptive Parents with adoptee Sara EasterlySara tells what was behind that dreaded exclamation, and how it was actually an invitation to intimacy. She also tells why adoptees sometimes have an extended adolescence and why parents must be willing to delve beyond simplistic notions of adoption for the sake of their children.
 
Ep 7 (available mid-November): What Went Wrong in this Kinship Adoption? with Clemencia DeleonShe placed her son with relatives when he was a few months old in what was supposed to be an open adoption. But by the age of 10, he still hadn’t been told he was adopted, nor did he know that the lady who came to family dinners was his birth mom. Here’s what happened when Clemencia was cornered into telling the truth.

Five more episodes are coming during Season 1, each with the guest’s best advice for adoptive parents.

Ways to Tune In to Adoption: The Long View

YMCA of the Rockies: Something for Everyone in the Family, Even Fido!

So many factors make living in Colorado such a rich experience, but near the top of my family’s list is the accessibility of YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. It’s the perfect place for a family weekend or family vacation for the sheer beauty, the up-closeness with wildlife, and for the variety of activities available.

You could easily count a dozen indoor activities (such as crafts, rock-climbing, archery, escape room) and a dozen outdoor activities (like skating, sledding, dog park, hiking) for all seasons. Last month I got to attend the 4th annual Mountaineering Weekend with my family, and over three days, the four of us plus the dog got to experience just a mere sampling of all that YMCA of the Rockies has to offer.

What is Mountaineering Weekend?

Mountaineering Weekend activities include guided snowshoe hikes through Rocky Mountain National Park, dog sled presentations, ice climbing demonstrations, glow-in-the-dark rock climbing, sledding, and more. 

All activities are free for guests staying in lodge rooms (starting at $89/night) or pet-friendly cabins (starting at $109/night). Three meals a day are served buffet-style in a dining hall (no meal planning for mom & dad!) and regularly-scheduled programming is available, such as ice skating on a natural pond, archery, and making tie-dyes or mosaics in the craft & design center.

— YMCA of the Rockies

If you’re a mountain-loving family, make plans to attend Mountaineering Weekend over President’s Day weekend next year. Here’s what you’ll be in for.

Plentiful views like this everywhere you look.

Winter storm on the horizon in the late afternoon.

The Wildlife & The Nightlife

We were welcomed to our cabin the first afternoon by the Deer Committee…

…and greeted the next morning by the Wild Turkey Committee.

After breakfast in the cafeteria, my husband, the dog, and I took a long hike on a gorgeous day.

Filling our bodies and souls with all the benefits of nature while our teens slept.

Don’t forget to look up — and down –while hiking. So much evidence of wildlife.

Afternoon options are chock-full of activity options over the 860-acre property. In the evenings, the YMCA of the Rockies put on events such as a lecture series that included world-class rock climber Tommy Caldwell and inspirational conservationist Quinn Brett.

Tommy Caldwell is a father, husband, professional rock climber & environmental activist. Over 19 days in In 2015, Tommy and Kevin Jorgeson climbed 3,000 feet up the Dawn Wall, a blank face on Yosemite’s monolithic El Capitan and the hardest big-wall rock climb in the world. A 2018 award-winning film, The Dawn Wall, was based on their accomplishment. Most recently, Tommy and climbing partner Alex Honnold broke the two-hour speed barrier on the 3,000-foot Nose route of El Capitan.

Quinn Brett worked as a climbing ranger Rocky Mountain National Park, technical rescuer and first responder. This intimate work within public lands also opened opportunities to spread a need for stewardship within the recreational community. October 2017 she took a big fall while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park, causing paralysis below the navel. Her drive to cover long distances over technically complex terrain continues, so does her advocacy and adventure love for wild spaces.

Our advice? Don’t be late — these high-quality offerings are likely to be standing room only!

Dogs Welcome

Did you see the part about the Fido? We were ecstatic that we didn’t have to leave our beloved Dexter behind for the weekend. Our bichon-poodle got to come with us, staying in our cabin and on our bed, where he belongs (don’t judge).

Dexter watching for wildlife and excited for the day.

Dogs are welcome in cabins, on walks and on hikes, but not in the lodge, other common indoor spaces, and not on the adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park. One of YMCA of the Rockies’ newest features is a dog park, which Dexter was more than happy to inaugurate.

Lodging & Eating at YMCA of the Rockies

Check out all lodging options. If you don’t bring a dog, try a stay in one of the lodges. For large family gatherings, you can also rent a meeting cabin. If you do want to bring Fido, check out a 2- 3-, or 4-bedroom cabin. They are both roomy and cozy, with kitchens, fireplaces, and gorgeous scenery out every window.

Our 3 BR cabin for the winter weekend. Can you imagine how lovely this would be in other seasons, too?

There’s a new lodging option: a hostel for budget-oriented travelers age 18+ (no pets). 

While you’re certainly welcome to prepare meals in your cabin, you are also able to purchase individual meals or meal cards in the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food is healthy and with lots of options for those with dietary preferences/restrictions.

Memories

With such a wide array of activities and opportunities in this wildlife retreat, there is something for everyone of all ages. Over the years my family has spent time at YMCA of the Rockies with grandparents, parents, teens, young children, and toddlers — our kids through time. During each visit, we make invaluable family memories.

After every trip, we debrief on the way home and talk over our favorite memories. This year it was a decidedly low-tech activity that warmed my heart. And that same choice was also my husband’s, my daughter’s and my son’s favorite.

Was it a challenge like a rock climb or 5+ mile hike along Glacier Creek? No. Was it sledding, skating or the escape room? Unh-unh. The climbing wall, swimming, archery? Nope.

It was an hour when we unplugged and played a cut-throat game of cards in our cabin. Our teenagers taught us old folks a new game (new to us, anyway) called Cheat, also known as “BS” (as they gleefully and irreverently told us). Everyone got in a win or two in over several rounds.

There was so much laughter in the cabin that night in front of the fire that all our hearts were connected and warmed. Can’t beat that when you’re the parent of two way-cool teens who often have not much use of you.

If you’re looking to make family memories in the coming year, we four — and Dexter — highly recommend The YMCA of the Rockies. 

Planning Your Spring Break?

Estes Park Center, Estes Park, Colorado: Located on 860 acres bordering Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies is a great spring break destination for families looking for an easy, unplugged getaway and features “Frozen Worlds” weekends from March 13 – April 2 with activities for all ages including snow fort building, snowflake crafts, educational polar bear & deer talks, penguin egg races (practice carrying eggs like penguins!), winter science experiments, and more, as well as ongoing activities such as ice skating on a natural pond, archery, indoor swimming, and making tie-dyes or mosaics in the craft & design center. Three meals a day served buffet-style in the dining hall (no meal planning for mom & dad!), and lodge rooms start at $89/night.

Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, Colorado:  As a year-round destination, a stay at Snow Mountain Ranch, just outside Winter Park, brings groups and families together to relax and enjoy the outdoors this spring. With a huge selection of activities, most included at no cost for overnight guests, everyone in the family will find something to do. From young to old, there’s an activity or program that will delight even the toughest of “too cool” teenagers. Accommodations ranges from hotel-style lodge rooms (new dog-friendly rooms), cozy cabins or mega reunion cabins sleeping up to 44 guests. Plus, guests who stay in lodge rooms receive two free breakfasts for each night booked. 

Snow Mountain Ranch is conveniently located between the alpine ski resorts of Winter Park/Mary Jane and Ski Granby Ranch and offers an alpine ski/snowboard rental shop on-site.

Unique on-site Spring Break activities include: dog sledding, fat snow bikes, Nordic skiing, tubing/sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, indoor archery, indoor climbing wall, swimming pool with water slides and climbing wall, craft shop, ping-pong, basketball, roller-skating, plus creative weekly programming such as Human Hungry Hungry Hippos game and snow games. The Spring Festival at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center is set for the weekend of March 21-22, 2020 with free events and activities featuring snowshoeing, fat biking, backcountry skis and Nordic skiing for the whole family.

~~~~~

Lori Holden, mom to a teen daughter and a teen son, is an award-winning blogger who writes from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Lori was nominated by Senator Michael Bennet as a 2018 Angel in Adoption®. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is on suggested and required reading lists at adoption agencies around the country. It makes a thoughtful gift for the adoptive families in your life.

 
 

Dad-isms: Funny things dads say

Does anyone have a Dad who says the same things over and over?

I do. So about 20 years ago for my Dad’s birthday, my sisters and I put together an ENTIRE BOOK of his repeatisms. I will spare you the insider ones such as “I always carry a garlic shaker” and leave you with some of the true gems, the ones that turned out to be helpful in life rather than just annoying in the moment.

And ones that will possibly show up in Tessa’s and Reed’s book of Mom-isms one day.

  • Sometimes you COUNT the votes and sometimes you WEIGH them.
  • Everyone is NOT doing it because YOU are not!
  • What kind of sissy word is “fair”?
  • Treat people when you don’t need them the way you wish you’d treated them when you do need them (sit with it a moment ’til it makes sense — it actually got me a job once).
  • Leave things better than you find them.
  • Come in when the streetlights are on!
  • Elbow your way in.
  • Draw a wider circle. (meaning: don’t find reasons to exclude yourself)
  • I’m glad I had daughters because they are so genteel (usually said after a burping contest — or worse).
  • 90% of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very good (we were not allowed to slack much).
  • Drive like everyone is out to get you.
  • Just because G*d picked your nose doesn’t mean YOU can (said to one of my sisters, I’m sure).
  • Starting is half done.
  • Everything in moderation, including moderation.
  • Put the short things on the short shelf and the tall things on the tall shelf (he actually said this to me last week when looking in my fridge for tonic).

Up there is a photo I found online of my Dad, the consummate teacher (although not by profession) teaching citizens about his main passion, freedom.

We kid him a lot, but my sisters and I hold immense respect and love for our Dad. It’s amazing to us that this man who grew up without a father had it in him to become a great one anyhow.

So thanks, Dad, for saying such wise and loving things. Over and over and over and over…

Now I’m going to obsess and compulse over the height of things in my refrigerator.

What -isms do you attribute to your dad?

Calcutta is My Mother: the Healing Journey of a Transracial Adoptee

For decades — lifetimes, really — the adoption narrative has been woven primarily by people like me: adoptive parents. To adoptive parents and to society at large, adoption can seem like a win-win construct. Longing parents get a baby/child, and the baby/child gets a forever family. All win, no loss. But in recent years adoptee voices have joined together to also influence the adoption narrative. One of those voices belongs to Reshma McClintock, the subject of the documentary Calcutta is My Mother, creator of the website Dear Adoption, daughter, wife, and mother, and former Denver-area resident. Calcutta is My Mother is the latest contribution an adoptee-led effort to encourage people in general — those who have direct experience with adoption in some way, and those who don’t — to better understand of the complexities of adoption. For all those Hallmark-moment gains to take place, there first has to be tragic, devastating, irreparable loss. And a way to heal from it. Often, that loss is not seeable by the non-adopted. Reshma says in the film that it felt as though her life started in the PDX airport because that’s where the story started for her parents. But her body knew (see The Body Keeps Score by Bessell Van Der Kolk, M.D.). Reshma’s body has always known that something hugely impactful had happened to little baby Reshma prior to arriving at PDX. Decades later, Reshma still had a need to breathe into her lungs the hot stifling air of Calcutta. She had a need to touch with her hand the wall of the orphanage she left as a 3 month-old baby. She had a need to experience in her entire body a day in the life of a typical Calcutta-born woman. She had a need to sit amid the graves of the babies who didn’t survive their short time the orphanage. Hallmark movies don’t talk about such needs. They don’t highlight the loss that made the gain possible, necessary. But real stories like Calcutta is My Mother do. We non-adoptees are able to see how validating, affirming, and healing it can be to have the chance to gather one’s pieces and grieve what was lost. I encourage you to watch this film to better understand the complexities of adoption. The Spring Tour continues (currently scheduled for Seattle, Dallas, and Phoenix), and you can keep up with the film’s Facebook page to find out where and how you can see Calcutta is My Mother. In the meantime, watch the official trailer. And make it a point from now on to listen to adoptees.

~~~~~

adoption bookLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.

Peace Big and Small

A child asked at bedtime, “Mommy why is there war? Why can’t there be peace in the world?”

“Well, to have peace in the world, we need peace in our country.

“To have peace in our country, we must have peace in our city.

“To have peace in our city, we must have peace in our neighborhood.

“To have peace in our neighborhood we must have peace in our home.

“To have peace in our homes we must have peace in ourselves.” *

So, my Mile High Mama friends, rather than wishing for world peace, I wish you each peace within yourselves.

And I wish the same for me.

*vignette paraphrased from a story told to me by a very wise woman

3 Secret Thoughts of Your Child’s Orthodontist

I’ve spent some quality time with our orthodontist lately (one kid has gotten braces off, one kids is still in treatment, and I myself am sporting the silver). I asked Dr. Deepa Vyas to tell me three secret things she wishes her patients would know and do.

Colorado & prAna & the End of Summer

We bade farewell to the unofficial end of summer with the recent Labor Day weekend. I packed a small suitcase to head up to the YMCA Rocky Mountains in Estes Park for a surprise milestone birthday party for my dad.

(I packed a lot of prAna clothing because prAna covers a lot of bases activity-wise and season-wise and is ever-stylish)

My mom secretly planned this gathering for months, and 14 mouths (!) had to stay shut about it in order to keep my dad none-the-wiser. We all had to act as if a Big Thing wasn’t consuming us.

The Best Urban Hikes in Denver

Whether you need some girlfriend time, some partner time, or even some alone time, an urban hike may be just the thing to renew and refresh, says Chris Englert, author of the soon-to-be-released book, Best Urban Hikes: Denver (available September 1, now on preorder).​

Urban Hikes for Women

Difficulty in finding a good safe place to hike in Denver that doesn’t require special gear, an oxygen pack, or an adrenaline-junky guide was what prompted Chris Englert to write her book, published by Colorado Mountain Club. After leading walks all over Denver as a member/owner of Walk2Connect, Chris realized that there was a surprising demand to help people, especially women, find the perfect urban hike for their needs. She decided that a guide was a good way to respond to the queries she frequently received.

So Chris spent a year walking Denver. Every neighborhood. Every trail. Every day. From that experience, she wrote Urban Hikes.

“Women have particular needs when out with their girlfriends.” Chris says. “Restrooms are a must, followed by safe conditions where they feel comfortable. From that comfort comes connection, friendship and adventure. It doesn’t hurt for the walking adventure to also have a good eating and drinking place along the way,” she says with a grin.

4 Urban Hikes in Metro Denver

  • The Norfolk Glen Loop (Aurora): Starting at Star K Ranch, this 5-mile urban hike follows the Sand Creek Greenway and returns on the High Line Canal. Afterward, drop into one of the great new restaurants at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora or at Eastbridge Town Center in Stapleton.
  • Brighton: Take a wonderful 4.5-mile urban hike in Adams County along the Platte River, around a nature preserve, and next to a disc golf course. Maybe you’ll even throw a disc or two while laughing your way to the Platte! Stop by Berry Patch Farms just up the road and pick your own produce (in season.)
  • The Belmar Loop (Lakewood): Starting at the Belmar Library, do a 3-mile loop around Kuntze Lake and the Belmar Heritage Center. Once you’ve finished, grab a great cuppa at French Press across Wadsworth in the Commons. By the way, this is a super walk with kids, too. The historic neon signs will dazzle them and remind you times past.
  • Mt Carbon Loop (Morrison): Need a bit more “get-away” with a bit of a sweat? Try the 6.5-mile Mt Carbon Loop in Lakewood that takes you to perhaps the tallest “mountain” in Denver, with great views of downtown Denver. Bring a backpack filled with drinks and a picnic, and enjoy a nice respite with your friends with a 360 degree view of Denver.

You can find exact turn-by-turn directions with maps in Best Urban Hikes: Denver, available on Amazon and Tattered Cover. You’ll also find 27 more great hikes for you, your girlfriends, and your family.​

 Escape to the Belmar Loop with your girlfriends and you’ll find lake views, native grasses, old barns and neon signs of yesteryear.

You can find exact turn-by-turn directions with maps in Best Urban Hikes: Denver, available on Amazon and Tattered Cover. You’ll also find 27 more great hikes for you, your girlfriends, and your family.​

Chris Englert, Denver’s Urban Hiker, has always been a walker. But it wasn’t until three years ago after returning from a round-the-world trip with her family that she realized that walking is the platform for life. Leading walks weekly in Denver and around the globe annually, Chris invites you to join her in Denver or on her global walking vacations in Scotland, Ireland, and Mexico. Find Chris at EatWalkLearn.com, and on Twitter, Facebook Instagram and Pinterest as @urbanhikingDEN.

Colorado Adoptive Families: Have You Signed Up For 2017 Adoption Camp Yet?

We in Colorado are fortunate to have a variety of adoption camps held right here each summer. Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families has been forging connections within and among adoptive families for 26 years. Which camp is right for you?

prAna for Spring: Feel Great, Look Great, and Save!

To celebrate spring, prAna is offering Mile High Mamas readers a special discount for most everything you can find at prAna.com (see below for code). If you think prAna is just for yoga, take a look — you might be surprised that you can wear your prAna for so many other activities and situations, including dressing up.

prAna’s Quinn Dresess: Classy, Cute, Comfortable

The Quinn Dress is something I suspect will get heavy rotation this season. It has that rare combination of being classy, cute, and comfortable, all at the same time.