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Bellybuttons, bathrooms, and book signings OH MY!

I grabbed a coworker of mine by the arm last week and pulled her into the bathroom with me. There was something I wanted her to see, and lifting my shirt up at her desk just seemed like a rude thing to do to everyone who surrounded us.

It was my bellybutton. It has slowly gone from an ugly, war-torn innie, to an ugly, war-torn outie… sort of solid, hard to hide when wearing a form-fitting t-shirt and, holy macaroni, OUCH! This wouldn’t be so troubling if the rest of my belly had grown right along with my navel. I’m quite familiar with that type of ailment. If I remember correctly, it was accompanied by swollen ankles, back pain, and massive cravings for chocolate-covered pizza.

Yes, my NOT-a-doctor friend confirmed my suspicions for me in that bathroom in front of way too many mirrors… It would appear that maybe I have a hernia. Furthermore, said friend thought it required a trip to the emergency room. Some ice cream. And maybe a piggy-back ride. (I love her.) But I I thought it wise to consult with another well-known doctor before dropping a load of cash at our local ER. You might have heard of him… Dr. Google? I’m being presumptuous in calling it a HE, I know. But he gave me way more information that I asked for and showed me some really gross pictures, so… you do the math. Moreover, Dr. Google didn’t want to talk about anything except swine flu whose symptoms, by the way, had nothing to do with protruding bellybuttons.

So I’ve made an appointment with a certified honest-to-goodness doctor of medicine and have taken to wearing a girdle. What does this have to do with book signings, you ask?

There is no vaccine for fear, and it’s contagious

[photopress:soup_1.jpg,thumb,pp_image]Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the SOUP! event for The Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC). SOUP! as you may have guessed is an acronym. It stands for Shots Offer Unrivaled Protection. But, there really was real soup involved, too. Ten top restaurants in the Denver area provided samples of their best soup recipes, and we all had the opportunity to vote for the most creative and best tasting. This event was equal parts tasting tasty soups, networking with people in the healthcare field and honoring the work and dedication that has gone into protecting Colorado’s children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

What struck me about the event was the genuine care and concern these scientists, doctors and healthcare professionals had for children and this cause. The stories were heart-felt, and the statistics presented were astonishing. When they translated all of the numbers into the cost of healthcare that has been spent on preventable diseases, it was mind-boggling.

Vaccines are always a touchy subject in parenting communities. Often times, we’re led to believe that if we “question” vaccines, we’re dabbling in something we don’t understand. Or, if we “don’t question” vaccines, we’re doing our children a disservice by just going with the flow.

I had an eye-opening conversation with someone at the event that evening that really proved how tricky this issue can be when you’re dealing with friends. A woman at the event didn’t know how to warn her friend about these things without damaging a friendship. As a professional in this field, she knows that certain communities are “ripe for an outbreak” and the thought of her friend’s child being exposed to these diseases has her conscience tied in knots. This woman’s friend had chosen to vaccinate, but is doing so on a very delayed schedule, which could put her child at risk for being exposed, should an outbreak occur.

She doesn’t want to harm her friendship but doesn’t think she can forgive herself if something happens to her friend’s child. What an awkward situation!

My advice to her was to

The Mom Behind the Mom I Am

I was her first. She and my dad had waited nearly 4 years after getting married for my arrival.

Mom and Dad both had a strange sense of humor, as evidenced by the names they came up with for me. Good thing I was a girl and became Lori. If I’d been a boy, according to family lore, I would have been given my father’s initials, and thus been named, Golden Folden Holden.

Mom was hands-on. She was always playing games with us, teaching us to play piano, living at our level. Unlike me as a mom, she seemed, in those early years, to have no interests of her own other than raising her three girls (see, no boys. Proof of God?).

Consequently, I learned to read at age 3, because Mom spent hours upon hours reading to me while I potty trained. I grew up thinking books and bathrooms go together, like Dick and Jane do.

We had only one car back in those days, and my dad took it to work. So Mom was without a car from 7 a.m. -6 p.m. I can’t quite recall when she ran errands and got groceries. We rarely ate fast food and she had three homemade meals on the table each day. These days, my children and I practically live in the car and just use the house as a place to sleep and store stuff (well, the stuff that’s not stored in the car).

I remember Mom adapting to some of our health issues.

How to Prevent “Puke” and “Play Date” from Ever Going Together

I love play dates for my daughter. Not because I particularly enjoy entertaining another rugrat but because Haddie and her friends are finally at the age they can entertain themselves. And if they do interrupt me, I just announce, “Go play. Don’t bother me.”

OK maybe that is not exactly correct. Some days I say, “Don’t bother me. Go play.”

You know, just to mix things up.

I always take them to do something prior to setting them loose on their own. Some days we have a picnic in the park. Other times we go hiking. Last week, it was Central Park playground. If you’re a Denverite and have never been, repent now. This ultra-cool modern playground in Stapleton is a children’s Mecca and features all kinds of nifty rock-like climbing areas, swings, spray fountains, hills, playing fields and a padded ground cover.

The children’s favorite structures were the Dizzy Dummies (bonus points if you know to which show I am referring). They could not get enough of the big blue wheel that spun them around and around. It was a delightful day of spinning and dizziness.

Or so I thought until the drive home.

Hadley and Bode were chattering away while Hadley’s friend Alex remained uncharacteristically quiet. When we were about a mile from our house, she finally croaked, “WATER, I NEED WATER.”

I turned around and I kid you not–the child was green.


Win Mother’s Day Brunch Aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad!

**Contest closed. Congratulations to Mile High Papa John Czarnecki who won tickets for his wife!**

[photopress:riogrand.jpg,full,pp_image]To my beloved husband,

Forget the flowers for Mother’s Day. This mama wants to get thrown ON the train. See below.

Your Wife

Back by popular demand: families looking to forgo the traditional Mother’s Day gifts can treat mom to a moving feast, combined with unbelievable mountain scenery, on-board the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad.

The special “Throw Momma on the Train” excursion offers a new way to roll on Mother’s Day and get a sneak peek of the train’s five newly remodeled 1950s-era dome cars, offering panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, almost two weeks before the regular season begins.

Along with breathtaking views of the San Luis Valley, the outing includes a brunch buffet featuring a brunch buffet of Rio Grande Dark Roast coffee, juice, mimosas, fresh fruit, pastries, elegant frittata, spiral-cut honey glazed ham, potatoes au gratin, pasta salad and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Upon return at the depot, a special bouquet of flowers will be presented to all mothers.

Mama’s Weekly Picks for Colorado’s Best Family-Friendly Events

Aaaahhhh. . . . can you smell it? I’m talking about Spring! There’s no snow on the grass. And it’s green! This week the kids and I spotted the first snake in the yard. I can hardly contain my joy. Pretty soon we’ll be visiting farmers markets and going to concerts in the park. . . .
[photopress:animal_grossology_1.jpg,thumb,pp_image] This is the last weekend to catch the Animal Grossology exhibit at the Wildlife Experience. Next month they’re opening up a new exhibit that looks to be over-the-top cool. If you haven’t headed down to the Wildlife Experience to see all the yucky stuff that animals do, this is your last chance. You might also consider a trip to see the Titanic Exhibit at the Flatirons Mall. 50 artifacts from a ship that sunk almost 100 years ago. That’s sure to impress.

Community Events

April 24, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Colorado Children’s Day, 1300 Block of the Pearl Street Mall, Boulder. This event kicks off Boulder County Family Week, and features all sorts of hands-on activities including art projects and programs on conservation and nature education. Boulder County Family Week is a week-long program featuring free, family-friendly activities across Boulder. If you live in the Boulder/Longmont area, check it out. The website has a list of day-by-day events, i.e., free classes and other events at various rec centers and the like.

April 29, 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. 31 Cent Scoop Night, Baskin Robbins, various locations. Small ice cream cones are just 31 cents! All to benefit America’s firefighters. Check the website for a location near you.

April 30, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Aurora’s 118th Birthday Party, The Aurora History Museum, 15051 East Alameda Pkwy, Aurora. or 303-739-6666. Family fun for the kids, including a magic show at 6:00 p.m., face painting, crafts, games (with prizes!) and, of course, cake.

Special Events

April 23 – April 25, 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.; April 26, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Titanic: Treasures from the Deep. Flatiron Crossing, 1 Flatiron Circle, Broomfield. Sponsored by Country Financial, in partnership with RMS Titanic, Inc., this FREE (!) mobile museum features 50 artifacts from the Titanic,

Sometimes she reads books the way Daddy watches TV

I think we’ve reached the stage where we could totally go without naps. And, by “we,” I mean my three-year old, Claire. And, by “totally go without,” I mean she still needs them but I’m not fighting it anymore. And, by “not fighting it anymore,” I mean I’ve resorted to trickery.

Actually, truth be told, I’ve been doing this for a while now. Trickery, that is. As any parent of a preschooler will tell you, there’s a fine line between trickery and clever parenting. And, I’m okay with both descriptions if the results are favorable to both parties.

Claire was always a good sleeper as a baby, so I really can’t complain. Overall, she was a great napper as a toddler, so I realize we’re lucky. It’s just been up until recently that the nap-times have really started to fade. Of course, my tactics change when they become obsolete, morphing into the next trick up my sleeve.

Still, life for everyone is much more pleasant when the preschooler takes her nap, so I still try to push her, ever so gently, in that direction, whenever I can.

“Oh, no!” I’ll tell her. “You don’t have to take a nap. Why don’t you just

Ways To Celebrate Earth Day With Your Kids

It’s here. Earth Day. REALLY the start of Spring in Denver, giving the fact that most of the beginning of April is usually filled with a wild ride of snow, sleet and rain. [Case in point: THIS YEAR.]

And not only does Earth Day symbolize rebirth for us Denverites, it’s main focus is – of course – the EARTH.

Here are some simple ideas for celebrating the day of the earth with your kids, and instilling some environmentally sound principals in the process. [OH HECK. Have some fun while you’re at it.]

– Plan your summer garden – or container garden if your yard is too small. Have the kids do the drawings for you and really participate in the process. Talk about what plants will survive here in Colorado and why.

– Go through your recyclables together and pull out their favorites for a “Craft Box.” Start using THESE materials for all their art projects instead of buying new supplies.

– Have a race around the house to count all the fluorescent light bulbs in the house. For the older kids: have them calculate how much energy those bulbs are saving!

– Take a 1/2 hour and clean up trash in your alley. Have them take photos of the work they did to me at

Doing my part for the environment with re-usable undereye bags

My three-month-old son, Archie, sleeps well for a guy his age. He usually wakes once to eat, then easily falls back to sleep. There have been a few nights lately when he’s sailed through the night, no waking. His dreams must have been sweet and his tummy well-settled.

You might picture me falling back to sleep the moment I put the full-bellied boy down. There I am: Weary, grateful, quickly glancing at the clock to calculate how many hours and minutes I can steal before the real bustle of morning begins. Fade to a dream about forgetting my locker combination….

But that doesn’t happen.

As Archie snoozes a few feet away, I am persistently awake. I am sold-out to consciousness. It owns me.

I toss onto my left side and scan the calendar in my head. I toss to my right and remember things to add to the grocery list. I settle on my back, with my arms crossed over my chest, to worry about tween-things and an odd cough Tommy had right before bed. I get really ridiculous and start

The Mile High Mamas Dream Doctor Wants to Know: What Are You Dreaming About?

One of the “worse” aspects of the “better or worse” marriage covenant for my husband Jamie is having to hear about my dreams. Not the visions of someday living in a house with a white-picket fence but rather, the ones about how I dreamed I rode to a desert island in a shark’s mouth.

Those kind of dreams.

I have very vivid dreams every night. A few times they have translated into gripping nightmares or deeply spiritual experiences. One night, I dreamed about my friend’s ailing mother whom I had never met. The dream was so lucid that I woke up in the middle of the night to drop him an email, letting him know I was thinking about them. I found out the next morning his mom had passed away around the same time as my dream.

Before you think I am some kind of soothsayer, let me assure you that most of the time my dreams follow the same pattern: psychosis.

Case in point, I recently dreamed I was racing my leprechaun teammates from Lucky Charms and I was freaking out because I was the only Big Person.

Could happen.

Jamie has endured such absurdities many times before, only this time he chose to indulge me and