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Win a $25 Gift Card From Einstein Bros. Bagels for Your Next Girl’s Night!

CONTEST CLOSED. Congrats to winner Shuka Hall. Please go here to enter to win another $25 gift card.

Confession: I’m a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. Not only have I read all the books but I also throw a viewing party whenever a new DVD is released. New Moon was our latest guilty pleasure and I had only one prerequisite for my friends:

“Come hungry.”

I scored major points at our latest gathering because I brought in some goodies from Einstein Bros. Bagels. This locally-based company is running a fun Coffee and a Bagel social media campaign for moms. As a part of the promotion, Einstein Bros. Bagels sent Mile High Mamas some complimentary gift cards to use for giveaways and at various events (stay tuned for details on how to sample their many spoils.)

Speaking of spoils, lo did we indulge. I bought a couple of their Variety Buckets, which have a fantastic mix of products for an affordable price. It includes 6 bagels, 12 mini-bagels, & 24 cream cheese bagel poppers (the fan favorite) for $9.99. I grabbed a couple of cream cheese smears for an additional $2.99. Oh, and I also got some cinnamon twists but they didn’t exactly make it to the party.

In my defense, they were well worth not waiting. 🙂

Mile High Mamas is giving away a $25 gift card to Einstein Bros. Bagels. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is April 15, 2010.

Be sure to check out Coffee and a Bagel at Divine Caroline where they are offering weekly $25 gift card sweeps plus a grand prize. Become a fan of Einstein Bros. Bagels on Facebook and receive exclusive offers and discounts.

Weekly Event Round-up: Bunny Trail EggVenture, Bug Theatre and More!

Saturday. Hop to the Children’s Museum of Denver for the Bunny Trail EggVenture, an all-day spring celebration. The whole museum, inside and out, will be prepped for a party full of live performances, demonstrations and activities. Stop in for storytime with The Big Bunny, see performances by Radio Disney or watch liquid nitrogen ice cream being made. In the meantime, try on Colorado Ballet costumes, dye some eggs, make bunny ears and more. Weather permitting, outside activities will include a petting zoo, games and rides on Vern’s Mini-Train. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Children’s Museum of Denver, 2121 Children’s Museum Drive; 303-433-7444. Outdoor activities are free, indoor activities are included with museum admission: $7.50 for guests ages 2 to 59, $5.50 for 1-year-olds and seniors age 60 and older. Visit cmdenver.org for more information.

Friday-Sunday. There are just a few more days left to catch “Embrace!” at the Denver Art Museum, closing on Sunday. The exhibit invited artists to have their way with the museum’s striking Hamilton Building, and this weekend, kids are especially welcome to see the result. Make your own “Embrace!” creations and display them, just like the artists (or take them home). Dance with Colorado Ballet teachers in the gallery, and grab a Family Backpack or Art Tube to take through the museum. Best of all, kids age 17 and younger are admitted to the museum free, as part of the museum’s Spring Break celebration. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Avenue Pkwy.; 720-865-5000. Activities are included with admission: $10 for Colorado residents, $13 for nonresidents, with discounts for students and seniors. Learn more at denverartmuseum.org.

Friday-Sunday. It’s the last weekend to get “a spoonful of sugar” with “Mary Poppins” at the Buell Theater. The touring production of the Broadway musical mixes P.L. Travers’ original stories with moments from the classic Disney film. And of course, there are the songs: “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” Step in Time,” and a little ditty called “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” 7:30 p.m. tonight, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The Buell Theater at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis Streets. Tickets are $25-$130, depending on seat location and showtime. To purchase tickets, visit denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.

Through April 24. Take a turn for the weird with “Captain Swift and the Invasion from Planet X” at the Bug Theatre. Presented by the Planet X Players, the show is a serial science-fiction melodrama. Each performance contains the 12 chapters of Captain Swift’s adventure — it’s full of exciting cliffhangers that ensure everyone stays tuned. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays. The Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St.; 303-477-9984. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and military, $5 for kids ages 12 and younger. Wear a sci-fi costume for $2 off admission. Call to reserve seats.

Friday. Wind down the week with an evening walk at the Audubon Society of Greater Denver’s Audubon Center. The “Dusk into Darkness” walk starts just when many creatures are getting ready for bed. Learn how the nocturnal creatures of the South Platte River habitat have adapted to life at night. After the walk, warm up with a campfire and snacks. 7:30-9:30 p.m. tonight. The Audubon Center, Waterton Road at South Wadsworth Boulevard, Littleton. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for children under age 12. Audubon Society members receive a $2 discount. Learn more at denveraudubon.org, or call 303-973-9530.

-Kathleen St. John

What’s the deal with Gluten?

Gluten. Gluten-free. Gluten-intolerance. We’ve been hearing about Gluten more and more, but what does all this really mean? Today’s guest blogger, Jolene Park, founded Healthy Discoveries in 2001, and with a passion for health, Jolene inspires her audiences to create balance in all areas of their lives. She promotes individual responsibility and believes in the power of information to provide options for choosing healthy lifestyles.  We asked her to share some information about Gluten-Intolerance. Check it out!

(Stock photo provided by maqarts.)

One in seven Americans is estimated to be gluten-Intolerant. People who are gluten-intolerant experience symptoms as a result of consuming gluten, and symptoms disappear when gluten is removed from the diet; however, they do not have full-blown celiac disease.

Gluten- Intolerance Symptoms:

  • Abdomen – recurring intestinal problems such as:  diarrhea, constipation, gas, acid reflux, cramping, stomach pain, stomach upset, bloating, problematic stools.
  • Headache – headaches, migraines, brain fog
  • Skin – Itchy skin, rashes or blisters, eczema, mouth sores
  • Circulatory/Blood – Anemia, malabsorption
  • Skeleton and Muscles – Osteoporosis, osteopenia, bone/joint pain, muscle cramps, enamel problems, stunted growth in children
  • Reproduction – Infertility, irregular menstruation, recurrent miscarriage
  • Energy – Chronic unexplained fatigue, weight loss, irritability
  • Mental/Neurological – Behavioral issues, depression, psychiatric problems
  • Autoimmune System – Diabetes, thyroid disease
  • Nervous System – Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer – Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer in the small intestine

Where is Gluten Found?

  • Anything that uses wheat flour – Breads, pasta, cereal, pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, pastries.
  • Virtually any packaged, processed or prepared food has the potential for containing gluten.

What Should You Do If You Think You or Your Child is Gluten Intolerant?

Schedule an appointment with your physician or pediatrician to discuss testing, diagnosis and gluten-free diet options. Statistics show that people go from doctor to doctor with vague, “it must be all in my head” type symptoms for an average of eleven years before realizing gluten may be the culprit.

Which Whole Grains Can You Eat?

  • Quinoa
  • Teff
  • Rice (brown & white)
  • Amaranth
  • Sorghum
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Potato and Tapioca Flours for baking

Gluten-Free Companies – Many companies are making gluten-free products a few of the more popular companies are listed below.  Grocery stores also make note of which aisles and shelves have gluten free products.

  • Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods – cornbread mix, biscuit & baking mix, gluten-free all purpose baking flours
  • Pamela’s Products – gluten-free all purpose baking flours, pancake, baking mixes
  • Namaste – bread, cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, pizza crust and pancake mix
  • Eden Foods- buckwheat flour and noodles
  • Tinkyada Pasta- pasta
  • Arrowhead Mills- baking flour,
  • Lunberg Family Farms – rice and pasta
  • Barbara Bakery- cookies, cereal
  • Nature’s Path- cereal
  • Larabar- nutrition/energy bars featuring dried fruits and nuts
  • Amy’s Kitchen- frozen meals, soups
  • Van’s International- frozen waffles
  • Health Valley- cereals, graham crackers

Some Local Gluten-Free Restaurants

  • Blue-Bonnet
  • Zengo
  • Steuben’s
  • Root Down
  • Melting Pot
  • Le Central
  • Duo
  • City O City
  • Beau Jo’s Pizza

Some Gluten-Free Chain Restaurants

  • PF Chang’s
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Maggiano’s
  • Bone Fish
  • Kona Grill

Snack Ideas For A Gluten-Free Child

  • Peanut, almond, cashew butter on apples or celery
  • Any fruit with low-fat string cheese
  • Larabars
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Snack size applesauce

Our American Girl Adventure

For Claire’s fourth birthday, her grandparents gave her a brand new baby doll, and she named her Rose. Baby Rose is an American Girl Doll. Normally, when I tell people this, I get one of three possible reactions: They either look at me with a blank stare, swoon while gasping, or they go pale and get a slight twitch.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what an American Girl Doll was. I seemed to remember someone telling me about how his daughter was obsessed with her little look-alike doll, and how the doll’s clothing and paraphernalia threatened to take over his house. I have younger friends who tried to school me in the importance of an American Doll and how great their relationships with their very own dolls were. I’ve had mothers of older daughters share their stories of mother-daughter bonding.

…but, to be honest, I didn’t give it much thought.  I mean, it’s just a doll, right?  It’s not like we’re going to become obsessed.  (Do you hear that?  Is that ominous music playing?  I’m sure it’s nothing…)

Baby Rose was a huge hit, and because Claire’s November birthday is perfectly poised as a jumping off point for Christmas, Claire and Baby Rose didn’t have to wait long for all the added necessities that come when there’s a new baby in the house.

It was all so cute, I could hardly stand it. A crib, matching outfits, and way too many teeny-tiny super-cute shoes later, I understood the people who swooned and the people who started to twitch.

For the record, PaPa and Grandma started this, and Santa is an enabler.

That being said, Claire and Baby Rose had some gift money threatening to burn a hole in the pockets of their matching outfits, so we decided to do some shopping. Imagine my surprise at finding that Colorado didn’t have an American Girl Store! We had to shop via catalog or online only!?

I know that e-commerce is where things are headed, but there is just something magical about getting to hold something before you buy it. Getting to see something in person and look over all your choices is a great experience. I even called the company to see if they’d made a mistake by not including Colorado on their map of store locations. They hadn’t. We were out of luck.

Until now…

Last weekend (Saturday, March 27th, and Sunday, March 28th) the brand new American Girl store opened just south of Denver in Park Meadows! This is American Girl’s eighth store, and will be the only one in Colorado. Claire and I (along with Claire’s Baby Rose) had the incredible opportunity to check it out in VIP style on Sunday.

Parenting 101: The Art of Lovingly Bribing Your Children

Parents have very strong opinions about what they refer to as bribing their children.

I prefer to look at it as an early lesson in action and consequence. If you do something, there will either be a reward or a punishment.

If that is bribery, sign me up.

Potty training my daughter was a nightmare because there was nothing in this world she wanted enough to make her do it (to see that long, sordid journey summarized in one painful post, go here). Treats? Forget it. New toy? Whatever. Revoke beloved cat privileges? “Just make sure to feed him during my absence.”

Parenting the most spirited and stubborn child in the world is a battle of the wills. Since starting kindergarten, she has regressed and we have gone through a new set of challenges. We have also been potty training my son, both of which have caused me to wave a white flag in frustration.

Until we met Super Mario Bros Wii.

There is something about that creepy little mustached man that is like crack cocaine for my children. From Day 1, their reaction has been the extremes: Euphoric when they win, meltdowns when they lose.

But most importantly: I finally found the one thing that would motivate my children to action. Neither are allowed to play Mr. Super Mario unless they are both accident-free.

In the bathroom, that is. There are plenty of near-accidents in the perilous Mushroom Kingdom.

Positive sibling pressure has been a good thing as they encourage the other to go. I.e. “Do you realize because of you, we can’t play Super Mario?”

OK, so maybe it’s not always positive but it is the only thing that has actually worked. And if the Wii can train my kids to go pee?

I’m all about bribery, especially if it results in a catchy marketing slogan for Nintendo.

Fess up: what motivates your children to action?

Daily Deal: One Stop For Deals!

You can find deals all over the web including here and here.  However, I was impressed with this new site!

On http://www.8coupons.com/, you will find all of the daily discount offers from over 55 different Group Buying “Deals of the Day” websites expanding across more than 30 states and 100 cities!

“Deals of the Day” discount offers are just a few of 8coupons’ more than 166,000 deals that come from a variety of sources including:

  • Directly from local Merchants themselves (Mobile Coupons)
  • 8coupons’ community of over 160,000 users who continue to share deals on 8coupons.com
  • A network of local bloggers across the nation including New York, LA, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Charlotte, Stamford, and more…
  • 8coupons’ content partners such as Money Mailer, Valpak, and RedPlum’s SuperCoups. 

I love that you can see all of the deals in your neighborhood.  If you know you’ll be in a different part of town to shop, before you go check to see if there are any current restaurant deals to save while you dine out.

Email me with any great deals!

danielle @ milehighmamas dot com
Twitter ID: @denvermetromoms

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter!

Helping students, one school and one teacher at a time

On an early February morning at Stedman Elementary School, the pressure was high.

Two students vomited. A few cried at their desks. Another imagined goblins might get him if he failed.

It was the day the third-graders took their first Colorado Student Assessment Program exams, and the 8- and 9-year-olds were all nerves.

Students rubbed lucky “Zap CSAP” lapel pins. They repeated mantras of test-taking techniques and practiced positive self-talk taught to them by their teacher, Dawn Romero.

The reading test — given to third-graders weeks before exams in math and writing so results can be used to help struggling kids before the end of the school year — was a stop on the long road to get most Stedman students performing at grade level or better by summer.

Only six of Romero’s two dozen students began the school year reading at grade level.

Another four students were at least two grade levels behind.

“I will get them ready for the fourth grade,” Romero had promised. “I will get them up to fourth grade plus six months.”

But on that February morning, fourth grade was a long way away. Romero was focused on the CSAP, the annual proficiency exams given to Colorado’s third- through 10th-graders.

Stedman lately has done well on the assessment, and Romero is arguably the engine behind that success. After handing out the students’ first test, Romero issued her standard pep talk.

“Deep breath,” she told the class. “Think positive. I have total faith in you.

“Begin.”

“Not a harder job in the country”

In the increasingly loud debate around reforming America’s public school system, most every change being discussed focuses on the teacher.

Reforms are calling for a

Win Four Tickets to Sesame Street Live!

**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER LOUISE BEVINS!**

Imagine singing and dancing with Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Big Bird and all your favorite Sesame Street Live friends! It’s as easy as counting “1-2-3 … Imagine!” This high-energy musical will transport audiences to far away places as Ernie captains the high seas, Elmo dances to the rhythm of the African rainforest and Bert meets an octopus who has the blues. It’s a story of adventure and fun that teaches children they can be anyone, do anything and go anywhere with the power of imagination.

Mile High Mamas and the Children’s Museum of Denver are thrilled to offer a family four-pack of tickets to see Sesame Street Live: 1-2-3… Imagine! with Elmo & Friends at the 1st Bank Center. The vouchers may be redeemed for any of the shows April 8-11, pending availability. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is April 4, 2010.

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests, Daily Deals and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter!

Quality theater for kids fills Colorado stages — and seats

It’s not your mother’s “Cinderella.” It is your father’s “Schoolhouse Rock.”

Colorado’s two most prominent children’s theater companies roll out lavish productions each spring, often with production values that surpass many “mainstage” shows around town.

At the Arvada Center, the youngsters (and their parents) are rocking out to “Schoolhouse Rock Live.” At the Denver Children’s Theatre, they are being introduced to a more realistic Cinderella. And “it’s not Disney,” promises director Billie McBride.

But this year, more than most, there is a wide proliferation of theater for youths, with at least 10 grown-up companies presently staging stories for kids. Among the most prominent are Buntport’s original and ongoing biweekly superhero series, “Trunks,” which completes its fifth season April 24; and the Boulder’s Dinner Theatre “Kids Kabaret” series, which is presenting “Quack, the Ugly Duckling,” through April 17.

Children’s theater is a major piston in the Colorado theater economy. The Arvada Center leads the way with two annual productions that draw a combined audience of about 50,000 a year.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live,” said Arvada Center cast member Amanda Earls, is making new memories for kids and bringing back old ones for their parents. The popular 1970s Saturday-morning cartoon series taught history, grammar, math, science and politics through memorable tunes like “Just a Bill” and “Conjunction Junction” — songs that are seared into their elders’ brains.

“When we’re on stage and happen to look out in the audience, parents and teachers are totally rocking in their seats — for real,” said Earls. “It’s kind of like watching all the women in their 40s at a performance of ‘Mamma Mia.’ They’re so grateful and excited afterward. It’s really awesome.

“Also, this is the first time in the six shows I’ve done here where we are helping kids to learn things from their actual school, versus a show where there are lessons to be learned about humanity or acceptance or forgiveness. ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live’ can really help a child become excited about learning, and I think we’re reminding teachers just how effective learning through songs can be, too.”

The Denver Children’s Theatre, which operates out of the Mizel Center for Arts and Humanities, skews to a slightly older youth demographic. Its

Mama Drama: Cheering Chores

Dear Mama Drama:

I feel so frustrated trying to get all of the housework done, laundry cleaned, lunches made, and still find time to be with my kids. They complain that I’m always too busy for them, but there is so much to do.

I also feel like they don’t appreciate how much I do for them and that they are not asked to do very much at all. It seems like the more I do, the less respectful they are to me.

~Choking on Chores

(photo credit)

Dear Choking:

I think you found the answer in your question. You are doing all of the work and your children are taking you for granted. They don’t understand to value of the work you do as they have not been asked to contribute. They have lots of time to hang out, but you can’t join them because you are so busy doing things for them. Get them involved and plan to play a game or go for a walk together when the chores are done.

Giving children responsibilities around the house gives them a sense of accomplishment, teaches them life skills, and increases their self-esteem. Not to mention that if they are doing some of the jobs, you won’t have to.

Children as young as two can help around the house. Obviously, different aged children can handle different responsibilities and need varying degrees of supervision. Getting them in the routine of helping when they are younger can prevent it from being seen as a burden later on. When asking your children to do chores, be sure to teach them how to do it and offer support and encouragement. Recognize the effort they put into the job, even if it isn’t done perfectly. Remember to resist the urge to redo the job for them as that will defeat the purpose.

Small children can contribute by cleaning up their toys, putting books in a basket, wiping down the front of the refrigerator or dishwasher with a sponge, or wiping up the spots on the kitchen floor with a wet paper towel. As children get older they can sort their dirty laundry, put away clean clothes, use a small broom and dustpan to sweep small areas, and use non-toxic cleaning wipes to wipe down the counters and floors in the bathroom. Most kids love to vacuum, although they are often not strong enough to do it until they are a little older. Other helpful tasks are watering plants (use a squirt bottle for little kids and a pitcher for older ones) and dusting with an old sock or non-toxic dusting wipe. As they get older have children help make lunches the night before, gather their items for school, and fill water bottles to help mornings run more smoothly.

Children like to be helpful, so use that natural inclination to get them involved. Let them know you need their help and that you’ll be able to have more fun together when they pitch in to help. Then be sure to follow through with the fun!

How do you readers involve your children in daily chores?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.