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Rio Grande Scenic Railroad’s North Pole Express Tickets Giveaway

Congratulations to Angela Asch, winner of our interactive toys basket that includes a Poingo book and Kookeys and Tracksters toys.

[photopress:northpole.jpg,full,pp_image]My Christmas memories as a child were a magical compendium of family, lights and laughter.

Just imagine if I had added in a trip to The North Pole.

This holiday season, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is offering a special journey for children – filled with carols, stories, cookies and hot chocolate – with its own version of the North Pole Express. For families on a budget, the trips are the perfect way to entertain and celebrate being together, without worrying about exorbitant costs.

During these special rides, the train is illuminated by strands of colorful lights on the engine and in the coach cars. Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas as they enjoy the 60-minute trip reading stories, singing carols, and visiting with Santa. Each child also receives a silver sleigh bell as part of the experience. After the ride there are souvenir photos with Santa available, along with other memorabilia to purchase in the Caboose gift shop.

The trips take place out of

Family-friendly deals at Colorado’s ski resorts

With the money crunch this year, most of us won’t be traveling abroad anytime soon. But with so many great options in our backyard, why even leave Colorado? Our ski resorts are doing all they can to make our weekend getaways affordable and fun.

Telluride, Aspen, Copper, Winter Park and Steamboat are just some of Colorado Ski Country’s 22 resorts that give free daily mountain tours.

Some resorts, such as Telluride and Silverton, offer free ice-skating (cost of rental equipment is not included).

Some other great deals:
[photopress:Solvistakid.jpg,full,pp_image] SolVista Basin is offering a limited Get on the Snow package priced at only $149 for families interested in learning the sport by professional ski instructors. The package includes two days of lessons, rentals and lift tickets. After the weekend of fun draws to a close, participants will receive a free season pass for the remainder of the ski season and a $20 voucher to use in the retail shop.

From now until January 10, 2009, families can purchase the Granby Ranch Family Passport for $899. The package includes season ski passes, bike park passes, four foursomes at the Headwaters Golf Course and two and half days of private fly fishing on the Fraser River.

Arapahoe Basin, perched at 13,000 ft. atop the Continental Divide, isn’t just for the expert skier. A-Basin offers reduced rate beginner lift tickets at the Molly Hogan learning center.

Copper’s Freedom to Explore Lodging Package–Designed for the guest looking to ski or ride at Copper, but wants the freedom to explore Summit County. This package includes

Our Annual Happy Thanksgiving Wishes

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“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”
~Erma Bombeck

Enjoy your Turkey Day (and annual stuffing)!

XOXO

The Mamas

Editor’s note: I realize baby Maddie is dressed as a peacock. But you try finding a cute picture of a kid dressed up as a soon-to-be-overstuffed slab of meat.

Winter WonderLights = Winter WonderNights

[photopress:winterwonderlights_4.jpg,full,pp_image]I was dying to get their autographs. International celebrities don’t come to the Denver area every day.

I held back. Their antlers were slightly intimidating, the language barrier was daunting, and it must be hard to write with hooves. Our family had to settle for the thrill of being within feet of the shaggy and endearing Dasher and Dancer—Santa’s leading reindeer pair.

It was a perfect farewell to a brisk evening spent under late-fall stars, surrounded by thousands of brightly beautiful lights at the Wildlife Experience’s new holiday exhibit, Winter WonderLights.

The night began with a walk on a light-lined and stroller accessible nature trail which snaked around the main building. Our tightly-bundled bunch marveled over illuminated polar bears, candies, trees, snowflakes, and other festive displays. Along the trail, several warming stations stocked with kettle corn, cocoa, and bathrooms kept us moving along through the night. Every few steps I’d catch my kids’ little faces illuminated by lights, revealing a rosy, happy glow and shivering chins. Nobody complained, though.

The fun continued inside with an area for kids to make crafts and create avalanches and rockslides. It also gave the kids

An Attitude of Gratitude: Don’t Just Express It, Show It This Thanksgiving!

I’ll admit it: I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving. Out of all the holidays, it is the one that resonates the least with me. This is probably because it has become very little about gratitude and more about spending the day slaving in the kitchen, only to be rewarded by a football game I do not care about.

At least the pumpkin pie isn’t all bad.

With recent stressful events in my family’s life, it would be easy to throw a bit of a pity party. But this year, I decided Thanksgiving would be different. Or rather, that I would make a difference. Instead of just expressing gratitude, I vowed I would show gratitude. Two great companies made it very easy for me: World Discovery Box and Caring Corners’ Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse.

[photopress:goodbee_1.jpg,full,pp_image]I am often contacted about doing reviews and giveaways on Mile High Mamas. But the folks promoting the Mrs. Goodbee Dollhouse were different. They challenged me to anonymously give their interactive dollhouse to someone in need. And I did–to a family with several boys and one little girl. A family whose trials and difficult circumstances have humbled me and whose positive attitude through it all inspires me. I heard from a friend of a friend (must not blow my cover, of course) that Mrs. Goodbee’s Dollhouse has been a ray of sunshine in their little girl’s life.

Then, the Colorado-based owner of World Discovery Box contacted me about doing a giveaway on Mile High Mamas. And I just didn’t feel right about it. Don’t get me wrong–I thought this wooden chest of drawers filled with amazing natural items like fossils, shells, geodes and insects was genius. Epic, even. How many toys are on the market that create a family lifestyle and culture around discovery?

But I just felt like I needed to do more.

That “more” came to me as I was retrieving my daughter from preschool.

Poingo, Kookeys and Tracksters Giveaway–New Twists on Traditional Toys

Congratulations to Cheri R., winner of our child-friendly Sweet Life & Nail Bar giveaway!

[photopress:Poingo_BOX_SPREAD.jpg,full,pp_image]In case you’re in denial, Christmas is around the corner. Just ask Costco–they’ve been counting down the days since they put their decorations on display in August.

For this week’s Mile High Mamas giveaway, we have a prize-pack of three great products that put a new twist on traditional toys and is valued at more than $60.

1) Poingo™ is the next generation of interactive books from Publications International, Ltd. (PI), the makers of the best-selling Story Reader. Using the pen-shaped Poingo to touch pictures or text on a page, kids ages 3 and up can bring their favorite characters to life with stories, songs, sounds and games.

Poingo is easy to use. Kids simply turn it on, point and go. Poingo uses a mini-scanner to “read” microscopic symbols throughout a Poingo-enabled book. The symbols trigger Poingo to play words, music, sound effects, and interactive games – such as matching or “look and find” activities. Kids use Poingo to help Nemo swim through a ring of fire before time runs out or, through an onboard speaker, hear Cars’ characters zoom. Other books include Cinderella, Lion King, Sleeping Beauty and Hannah Montana. Price: $34.99.

2) Ever heard of a little phenomenon called Webkinz? Well, these furry pets have some competition. KooKeys, an immersive, interactive experience for kids,

Mama Blogger of the Month–Laurie of Good Happenings!

[photopress:laurie_1.jpg,full,pp_image]I always thought I led an exciting life. Until I met our Mama Blogger of the Month, Laurie of Good Happenings. This world-traveling, marathon-running mama aspires to one day homeschool her children while teaching at a medical school in Vietnam, Thailand, or Peru.

1) Your life redefines busy! You have three young children, two of whom you adopted while juggling medical school. Are both you and your husband currently students? How do you juggle it all?

My husband and I are both technically medical students, although I am done with medical school with the exception of one last board exam I’ll take in February (Step 2CS, which was implemented to extort another $1K out of us, make sure we speak English well enough to converse with patients, wash our hands after doing a PAP, and can walk and chew gum at the same time). I finished my clinical requirements with the class of 2007, but have deferred beginning residency to stay home with our three little guys. Travis is currently in his third year of medical school, and I am in the application process with plans to start my intern year this June.

As for how we juggle it, well, the answer is with frequent ball drops. Sometimes it’s forgotten bills, sometimes we might not be able to give 100% to our future careers in medicine, sometimes we don’t make enough time for our marriage, sometimes we get homeowner’s fines for leaving old junk in the driveway, and sometimes we’re impatient with our kids. We’re pretty normal like that. There seems to be an ebb and flow to our lives: when it rains, it pours, when it’s chill, it’s awesome.

2) Tell us about your adoption journey and your children. Do you plan to have more?

Our journey to adoption actually started LONG ago. When I was in college, my parents adopted my five youngest siblings from Russia, to make us nine kids altogether. At that point, Travis and I knew adoption was somewhere in our future. After we graduated from college, we spent two months backpacking through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Along the way, we volunteered in an orphanage in Hoi An, Vietnam, fell in love with the country and people, and decided we would adopt a child from Southeast Asia when the time was right.

When The Past Comes Back

I know I haven’t gotten crazy personal here on Mile High Mamas, but to understand this post, you have to understand that my childhood was not all fun and games. My dad was a fairly abusive alcoholic with a narcissist mother who stuck her nose in everything right up until his will was read when he passed away in 1981. Can you imagine how *my* mother felt as *her* mother-in-law tried to take the house away from us? There is so much garbage there in my childhood, I am still – to this day – sifting through it with the help of a therapist.

But the main point I want to make today is not about my past. It’s about my present. It’s about me, and how I act with my son, and holy hell – how much of those crazy people did I pull down from the gene pool anyway? Another thing I sit and discuss in the therapist’s chair.

It’s hard not to judge every reaction you have to your child by the actions of your parents, and grandparents. Especially when some of the examples you have are so off kilter you don’t know which way is up. OR! Am I reading too much into it? Am I just having a bad day and that is OK and I should let myself off the hook once in a while? That everything doesn’t HAVE to go back to those first 11 years with my dad in the house acting like a lunatic, and his mother fluttering around like a lunatic’s enabler?

It’s amazing how much having children makes you think about this stuff. Makes you want to MAKE SURE you aren’t making the same mistakes.

Of course, the sad truth is, I am sure I am making a whole rash of new mistakes. Which makes me wonder what *he* will be sitting in the therapist’s chair for in about 30 years.

Where’s the Beef?

Oy, Motrin-gate.

If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the quick-and-dirty version: Motrin created an ad linking babywearing to back pain as a marketing tactic. Many moms were not amused.

Personal disclaimer: I thought the ad was off the mark. Inconsistent message, inaccurate message, and inadvertently condescending delivery. To Motrin’s credit, they have pulled the ad.

But it got me thinking about how I’ve always been critical of advertising. I take notice of what speaks to me, and what annoys the living crap out of me.

I love ads with great music. Car commercials often have fantastic soundtracks, and I’ve used Google more than once to find out the name and artist of the song playing in the background. Mitsubishi, for one, has had some rockin’ ads.

I also love ads that make me laugh. Those “Real Men of Genius” ads practically make me wet my pants. I only drink Budweiser at the ballpark, but I crack up at those ads every time – turn up the radio and shush the kids so I can hear every word.

I hate ads that play on stereotypes, which is one reason why I didn’t like the Motrin ad. Another one

It’s the little things that matter

“Mom! At school I got to visit the Treasure Box!”

“Really, Reed? What did you get?”

“I got this ring. It’s a very special ring.”

“What so special about it, Honey?”

“Well, this ring has the power to deSTROY the WORLD!”

“Wow. That’s some ring. How does it do that?”

“It explodes the WHOLE PLANET!”

“Really. Why would you want to do that?”

“I don’t. I just like having the power.”

“I’m glad we’re safe, then. Reed, what is it exactly that saved the world from TOTAL DESTRUCTION?”

“Chicken nuggets. I love chicken nuggets too much to destroy them.”

If your child had a finger on the button, what would save the world from TOTAL DESTRUCTION?