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Mama Drama: Mama Needs a Minute

Dear Mama Drama:

I adore my three-year-old daughter and love spending time with her. However, I have so much to do and she always wants my attention. I am frustrated as I can’t seem to get anything done when she is awake, which is most of the day. It ‘s impossible to even make a phone call!

When I tell her I need ten minutes to take care of a few things she cooperatively says, “Okay, Mommy,” and then proceeds to check in with me every minute asking, “Is ten minutes over?”

I need a little sanity, but don’t know what to do. I don’t want to put her in front of the television, but am not sure what other options I have.

~Begging for a break

(photo credit)

Dear Begging:

There are so many mom jobs to get done throughout the day that your frustration is understandable. It is also important for children to learn to spend time safely on their own without constant interaction of adults.

At three your daughter does not understand the concept of “ten minutes” and needs a more concrete definition of when that time is finished. Using a timer can be helpful in facilitating this understanding. A digital timer that she can watch count down and/or listen for the beeping is a good option. Other more expensive choices are visual timers that show a strip of red getting smaller or flash from green to yellow to red when the time is up.

Another idea to help her understand when you are done working (and she’s done waiting) is to give her a time limited task to do during the time you need to make a phone call or complete another task. If she is engaged and has a clear ending time, she is less likely to interrupt along the way.

  • Have her listen to (and look at) a recorded book, which supports literacy and listening skills along with setting a clear ending time.
  • Give her a stack of books to “read” and have her place them in a basket when she has finished each one. She’ll be able to see when the task is complete and the activity is all cleaned up when she is done reading.
  • Put on a music CD and tell her she can come to check in with you when it reaches a particular song or is finished depending on how much time you need.
  • Give her an independent project to do in the same room with you. She can have crayons and paper, blocks, beads to string, play dough, or any other toys or activities she can engage with independently.

The keys to success here are providing clear expectations, her being engaged in an activity, and setting a clear ending. Start with small segments of time, five to ten minutes, and stretch her ability to play independently over time. Keep in mind that five minutes to adults is a short time while to a small child it can feel like forever.

We all need our sanity and little break now and then, so be gentle with yourself and remember that a little educational television now and then won’t harm her.

How do you balance mom tasks and time with your kids?

$10 Dinners: The Denver Post’s third annual economical recipe list

Save money at home. Looking for specials, clipping coupons, buying veggies in season (think asparagus) and being flexible are just a few ways to put your grocery bill on a diet.

The top tips for saving money are the things you already know but might not follow: Buy what’s on special. Clip coupons (really). Shop for food at drugstores, discount grocery stores and big-box stores, where you may find a smaller selection, but cheaper goods (although we found all of our ingredients for these recipes at a Denver-area Safeway). Hit the bulk aisle; you can save half or more on staples like rice, beans and spices. Buy what’s in season — asparagus is cheap and beautiful right now for a reason; tomatoes are not.

Most of all, be flexible: If you’re planning on grilled rib-eyes, but you see that London broil is on sale, forgo the more expensive meat. You can make do: London broil, like many other cheap cuts, is flavorful and easy to handle, and, if you slice and season correctly, just as tender and irresistible.

Go heavy on the vegetables, light on the meat. And buy local, organic, sustainable foods whenever possible. It’s better for the environment, better for the future, better for you. (But if your budget simply doesn’t allow it, don’t beat yourself up over conventional ingredients.)

We assume you have a few of the basics on hand already, such as olive oil, salt and pepper, perhaps a few dried herbs and spices. Beyond that, all you’ll need for dinner is about $10 and a little bit of time. (Bonus: Some of the recipes make enough for leftovers — hello, free lunch.) Tucker Shaw

10 RECIPES GUARANTEED TO SATISFY YOUR FAMILY, ALL FOR AROUND 10 DOLLARS:

Baked Orzo With Shrimp, Lemon and Feta

The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme. If you have some in your herb garden, go for it. But if all you have is dried thyme in the cupboard, decrease the amount to 1 teaspoon. For added savings, substitute about 3/4 cup frozen, thawed spinach for the 5 ounces of fresh spinach called for in the original recipe. It works nicely (and can save you a couple of bucks at least). If you can afford it, spring for the 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs that the original recipe calls for. Or, make your own bread crumbs by blitzing three slices of bread (you’ll find this in your pantry) in the food processor until crumbly, then baking on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 4 minutes. Adapted from “Big Buy Cooking,” by the editors of Fine Cooking. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients
5      tablespoons olive oil (pantry)
1      pound medium shrimp
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (pantry)
1      large clove garlic
3/4   cup frozen organic leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1      pound orzo
6      ounces crumbled feta cheese
2      teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried (pantry)
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
3/4   cup bread crumbs (pantry)

Be among the first to visit the Children’s Museum’s new Bubbles exhibit for $1!

Mile High Mamas is teaming up with the Children’s Museum of Denver to announce that their new exhibit, Bubbles, will open for hands-on exploration starting May 15th. Children of all ages will experience the magical, scientific and fantastical world of bubble play like never before! Learn the science behind these translucent wonders in the most imaginable ways possible.

The best news? Mile High Mamas/Mom It Forward will be bubbling over with fun at our own exclusive Night at the Museum.

Here’s for hoping these bubbles don’t come to life.

Join us on Wednesday, May 19 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. The cost is just $1 per person. Space is limited so be tell your friends and RSVP here (you must sign up in order to receive the special rate).

Please stay tuned for our official review of the new exhibit.

Note: Our exclusive night at the Bubbles exhibit is sold out. Thank you to all who signed up. If you missed this opportunity, be sure to check out the new exhibit on your own time!

Weekly Event Round-up: Colorado Children’s Day, Guys & Dolls’ Free Community Event and More!

May 9. It’s not too early to buy tickets for the Boulder Ballet’s special Mother’s Day performance of “The Sleeping Beauty.” Set to a score by Tchaikovsky, the ballet tells the familiar story of a cursed princess waiting for her prince. Boulder Ballet artistic directors Ana Claire and Peter Davison created new choreography for the show that isn’t limited to the stage, and edited the length down to help keep younger viewers engaged. Sections of the classic ,original ballet remain, too, including the Rose Adagio and Wedding Pas de Deux. Brunch packages are available including the ballet and brunch before the show at nearby 14th Street Grill. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 9. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder; 303-786-7030. Tickets are $15-$30. To purchase tickets, call the Boulder Theater or visit boulderballet.org.

Saturday. There is something for everyone at the Guys & Dolls Children’s Furniture’s 2nd Annual Free Kids Community Event on Saturday May 1st from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.. For the kids: Activities like bounce houses and inflatable slides, cotton candy, magic shows, arts and crafts, free pizza and cake, and more. For the parents: Guys & Dolls Furniture will be running a huge 50% off sale in conjunction with the event. They will also have a raffle for some free bunk beds and nursery cribs. Guys and Dolls Furniture is located at 13280 E. Mississippi Ave. in Aurora. For additional information, please go to guysanddollsfurniture.com.

Saturday. Tie those running shoes, do some stretches and grab the leash: It’s the Furry Scurry at Washington Park. The annual fundraiser for the Denver Dumb Friends League is a 2-mile walk through the park, with dogs especially welcome. After the walk, participants can stroll through a “flealess” market, watch the Ruff Flyball Club and Colorado Disc Dogs and enjoy snacks and refreshments. There are also contests to enter: Prizes will be awarded in categories like Best Tail Wagger and Best Pet/Person Lookalike. Registration begins at 7 a.m.; walk begins at 9 a.m. Washington Park, 1000 S. Downing St. Registration is $50 per person. For more information, visit ddfl.org.

Through May 9. There are only two weekends left to catch Performance Now Theatre Company’s production of “Oklahoma!”. Presented at the Lakewood Cultural Center, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical follows the fortunes of farmers, cowboys and the ladies who love them on the plains of Oklahoma Territory. With its long list of hit songs — “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say,” “Oklahoma!” and more — the audience is practically guaranteed to leave the theater humming. 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through May 9. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Pkwy., Lakewood; 303-987-7845. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22.50 for seniors and students, $19 for children. To purchase advance tickets, call the Cultural Center or visit lakewood.org.

Friday. Aurora celebrates its 119th birthday with a free party at the Aurora History Museum. The family-friendly shindig features face painting and games, including Bingo with prizes. Of course, there will be plenty of birthday cake, too. Be sure to catch Connie Elstun’s “Bunny and Birdie Comedy Magic Show” at 5:15 and 6:30 for lots of laughs and cool illusions. 5-8 p.m. Aurora History Museum, 15051 E. Alameda Pkwy., Aurora; 303-739-6666. Admission is free. For more information, visit auroragov.org.

Friday. The kids in the Boulder Valley School District are off, and Boulder is throwing them a party. It’s Colorado Children’s Day in downtown Boulder, featuring live entertainment, free fun and a parade. The Tulip Fairy and Elf Parade starts the day, when kids can dress up in costumes to follow the Tulip Fairy around the festival. The rest of the afternoon is filled with games, hands-on activities and educational demonstrations. The parade begins at 11:45 a.m. today; gather at 11:15 a.m. Children’s Day festivities run from noon to 4 p.m. on the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Pearl Street, Boulder. Free. Learn more at boulderdowntown.com.

-Kathleen St. John

Photo credit: Catrine Turillon

To Open or to Close

The main course of this post will deal with the huge bag of worms called “openness.” But I’ll lead with a tasty little appetizer…..in case you haven’t read previous posts, my fingerprints came back approved! Yee Haw. At least now we’re OFFICIALLY waiting. Moving on.

Open adoption. Semi-open adoption. Closed adoption. If you asked the general public what they’d prefer, they’d probably say “closed, for sure.” Because most people view the birth parents as scary and threatening and maybe even an invasion. Before we started the process, we kinda felt that way too. Until we went through training. We walked away from that weekend of enlightenment wanting nothing more than an semi-open or open adoption. The birth parents aren’t scary…they’re our angels. They’re the people who are giving us a gift that we can’t give ourselves. They’re carrying a child and essentially trusting strangers to do the job they don’t feel prepared to do. If anyone should be scared, it’s them. They want nothing more than for adoptive parents to raise their child with love. That’s pretty selfless and miraculous in our eyes. An open door is so much more welcoming and brings forth so many more possibilities than one that’s closed. And so we refer to our dude’s birth (first) mom as our angel. We talk about her and we email with her and we pray for her. Our dude will want to know where he came from and who he looks like and where he gets his love for music. And because of our semi-open adoption, he will. She’ll always be a part of our family.

Below, Jacklyn gives her insight on adoption language, centered around the topic of openness. Every adoption is unique and it’s pretty cool to read other peoples’ perspectives.

“We adopted our little girl in 2008. We were at the hospital when she was born. I was the first non-medical person to hold her. She is such an incredible blessing to us, and her adoption has been a surprising blessing to so many people around her. We have an open adoption with her birth family. We exchange e-mail, I have a blog just for them where I post pictures and updates, and we get together regularly for visits. In fact, we invited her birth family to her dedication at church, her first birthday party, and (gasp) they know our address and phone number. When people hear we have an open adoption, we get so many comments about co-parenting.

“Aren’t you afraid they (the birth family) will try and tell you what to do?”
“Won’t your daughter be confused?”
“So does she have two mommies?”
“What if her birth family wants her back?”
“They come to visit? That must be awkward!”
“They are so lucky you let them see the baby.”
“I could never do an open adoption. It’d feel too much like being in a divorced parenting relationship.”

On the one hand, I welcome the opportunity to help educate people. I get to share on a regular basis with people I know and strangers alike the joys of open adoption. Just the other day, I met someone at the Dr.’s office who opened up about her desire to adopt when she learned we had adopted. “I hear that most domestic adoptions are open, though,” she said, “and I’m not interested in co-parenting.” I gushed about our adoption experience and our daughter’s birth family. I even gave this woman my phone number in case she had any more questions.

But, on the other hand, I get weary of having to constantly defend our adoption choice. I’m tired of having to explain that just because someone placed a child for adoption, it does not make them a crazy stalker who we have to fear will be hiding around every corner waiting to jump out at us and scream that we aren’t parenting our daughter the way she wants. But, mostly, I welcome getting to share the blessings we have received from our open adoption with our daughter’s birth family. I’m pretty sure my husband and I are way more blessed by it than her birth family.”

Thanks for sharing your story Jacklyn. Visit her read-worthy blog here.

Guest Blogger Gwen is expecting…for the second time. And once again, no baby bump or stretch-marks will grace her with their pending bambino. Step inside their world of growing a family through adoption. Follow along here at Mile High Mamas and her blog and get a candid feel for the ups, downs, highs, lows and surprises that go hand in hand with the struggles of infertility and the miracle of adoption.

Denver Deals:Baskin Robbins, Einstein Bros, Lowes, & More!

Restaurant deals:

Tonight(Wednesday, April 28th) is Baskin Robbins 31 Cent Scoop Night!  Take the family out for ice cream between 5p.m. and 10p.m. on the cheap!

This coupon expires May 2nd, so be sure to head into Jack in the Box to receive a free Deli Trio Grilled Sandwich with any purchase.  You will need to print this coupon to bring along! (Thanks, Carrie!)

Einstein Bros has added another printable couponon Facebook!  This time you can get a free bagel and schmear

Headed to Olive Garden for a date or Girl’s Night Out anytime soon?  Bring this printable coupon along to receive $5 off 2 entrees!  Coupon expires May 7th.

Entertainment:

It’s the first Saturday of the month which means admission to Denver Art Museum is free!  Doors open at 10a.m.!

Lowe’s is hosting another Build & Grow Workshop this Saturday from 10a.m until 11a.m.  Bring the kids out this week to make a school house.  Next week they will be hosting another clinic for Mother’s Day.  The kids will be able to make Mom a flower box planter.

Sunday kicks off the week long craft events at Michaels.  They are hosting several Mother’s Day crafts, however most require a small purchase.  Click here to view the scheduled activities.  It looks like Tuesday night’s clay pot project is free.

Grocery Deals:

 Albertsons is having some great sales this week.  Need a little pick me up?  How about a free bag of pretzels Flipz?  Learn how to get these free and plenty of other great deals!

Save $.70 on one Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.  This should result in some free crescent rolls so this coupon won’t be available to print very long.

Did you know Safeway and King Soopers both double coupons?  That means a coupon with a face value of $.50-$.99 is redeemed at $1 off!  This week(April 28th-May 4th) Albertsons is also partaking in double coupons.  They are taking it up a step and tripling and quadrupling coupons.  Your $.25 off coupons will be redeemed at $1 off.  This can make for some really great deals!

The key to maximizing your savings is using coupons at the right time.  When an item is on sale for it’s lowest sale price, use your coupons!  You’ll save the most and in some cases getting stuff free or dirt cheap! 

Email me with any other great money saving tips or deals!

danielle at milehighmamas dot com
Twitter ID: @denvermetromoms

Mickey and Donald were not college roommates

One of my sons wants to be a plumber at Disneyland when he grows up.

That’s a very specific job. Does the Happiest Place on Earth have in-house uncloggers? Probably. With thousands of mouse-earred visitors a day, the pipes and drains of the park must be tremendously strained.

Because we want to show our son we take his desire seriously, we have discussed the steps he’d take to find himself snaking out the main line in the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, where they should really lay off the pineapple.

He’d need to be an apprentice, a journeyman, and finally he could be a master plumber. It would take 4 to 5 years of on-the-job training plus some classroom instruction in basic engineering and architecture. He’d need to be strong in math because often there are blueprints to read and calculations to make.

You don’t learn plumbing in one Saturday afternoon workshop at Home Depot.

A four-year college or university degree would be completely unnecessary. Last time I checked, CU specialized in a different sort of pipe.

It’s okay with me if our kids do not go to a traditional four-year state or private university. If they find a passion early in life in cooking, fashion design, firefighting, or the military we will throw our support behind their dreams. I have nothing but respect for people who thrive in these careers, so why would I care if my kids want to work in these fields?

But In my circle of friends and family, this isn’t a widely held view. To most families we know, college is a given, a necessity, a non-negotiable.

I think this narrow view has potential to be damaging.

Many of my fellow dorm dwellers wanted to be anywhere but in school. Actions scream, words whisper. They floundered, partied, skipped classes, wasted money, and ultimately faded away. Some overdosed, some attempted suicide, others flunked out. Was it was their idea to apply to the school or someone else’s? The pressure from parents, teachers, counselors, peers can be enormous.

I don’t want to be the mom who pins the school pennant over the crib. That was my life, my experience, my history. It’s not necessarily my child’s. I will not be that source of concentrated pressure. I can guide, give my opinion, but ultimately it’s my kid who will sign the college application and send it off. Not me.

Is it wise to at least have a few business classes aced? Yes, if the dream is to start a company. These classes and many others are easily found at local community colleges, often with flexible hours. It’s not critically important that business accounting be learned on a 200 year old ivy covered campus. Numbers are numbers.

Bonus: The child who wants to start his or her own business will have more money to invest in the business if there aren’t massive loans to pay off after graduation.

More than anything, I want my children to have a sense of place and purpose after they leave home. I want them to crave a life that is productive and that will support independent living. The best way to do that is to approach the future with an open mind. There isn’t only one path to success.

Someday, my son might find himself driving to work in Anaheim, California.

When he clocks in, he’ll be smiling, and not just because Goofy is standing next to him.

Gift Guide: What Denver Moms Want for Mother’s Day

Psssst…significant others. This post is for you. We polled Denver moms to find out their top picks for Mother’s Day. From the kids, we want homemade cards, gifts and treats. From you? Well, it’ll cost ya…but not always a lot. 🙂 Of course, we always love brunch but here are a few ideas to get you on the right path:

Jewelry from Luna & Stella.

This gift has my top billing because it is what I requested for Mother’s Day! There are many jewelry lines out there for mom but former Red Envelope and J. Crew executive Suzanne Ellis really knew what she was doing when she started this top-notch line. This collection of hand-crafted birthstone jewelry is both sophisticated and meaningful. Each piece is made-to-order and custom set with the birthstones of children, grandchildren and loved ones. The necklace is customizable with up to 5 stones and is made to order by artisans in the United States, ready to ship in just 5 days. The rings are sold individually but designed to be mixed, matched and added to over time as new members join the family, making them a great gift for a new mom or grandma. www.lunaandstella.com

Life’s Sweet Photo Books

Sure, you can make plenty of cheap photo books online but how about a treasured keepsake you can pass down for generations to come? Colorado-based Life’s Sweet also does wedding photo books, memory books of new babies, children’s art and school work photo books, fun-filled vacation or travel photo albums and personalized children’s books.This Colorado-based company is designed with busy moms in mind. Simply upload your pictures and Life’s Sweet designs your photo book for you.

Flowers

Several moms requested flowers, just now how you’d expect. Ditch the bouquet and give them something that will last. One mom requested flowers for all her flower pots and uninterrupted, kid-free time to plant them. Another mom started a tradition of heading to the nursery and planting flowers on Mother’s Day. Several moms requested hanging flowers for their front porch, all gifts Mom can enjoy the entire summer.

A Nook or a Kindle

Sure, Moms still love cuddling up to a book but these

Mile High Mamas’ Official Takeover of Einstein Bros. Bagels

Friday’s stormy weather made it the perfect day to hunker down with an Einstein Bros. bagel, some of their Darn Good Coffee and relax.

Well, unless you happened to stumble into the Einstein Bros. Bagels on 5131 Kipling Street in Wheat Ridge, in which case you would have encountered a restaurant full of Colorado’s social media moms and their rambunctious children.

Einstein Bros. Bagels hosted Mile High Mamas/Mom It Forward for a casual mid-day meet-up. Our past events have been sans kids and in the evening.

We look a lot different in broad daylight with kiddos bouncing off the balls swiping our food.

Regardless, there was still a lot to celebrate:

1) If you become a fan of Einstein Bros. Bagels on Facebook you can print out a coupon for a free bagel on Fridays before 11 a.m.

2) Their glorious breakfast menu. We ordered

A Guide to Denver’s Go-kart Tracks

If traffic jams and high gas prices have made driving more like work and less like fun, maybe you need a little time behind the wheel where fun is the only object.

A go-kart track could be just the ticket — and not that kind of ticket.

The Denver area offers go-kart tracks for all tastes, from gasoline racers that blaze up to 120 mph to bunny-slope electric karts that are more like a walk in the park.

On a gorgeous early-spring Sunday afternoon at Adventure Golf and Raceway in Westminster, the crowd was sparse — a far cry from what the track will look like when it gets up to speed in warmer months, said attendant Derrick Rivas, who was starting his second season there. The cars were lined up and waiting, neat and shiny and covered in logos ranging from NAPA and Goodyear to M&M’s and Target.

A few of the local facilities are part of entertainment complexes; others are dedicated tracks.

Here’s a look.

1. IMI Motorsports Complex

This one-mile road course features karts for ages 5 and up, said general manager Bobby Sanchez. It’s designed for faster gas-powered karts, with banked corners, longer straightaways and easier turns.

The track has 17 karts, and allows up to 10 people at a time on the track. Full racing suits are required and are provided with rentals. There’s also a required briefing session before you can drive.

A concession stand and picnic tables are available. Open daily, weather permitting. 5074 Summit Blvd., Dacono (Exit 232 north of Denver on Interstate 25). 303-833-4949 or imimotorsports.com

2. Boondocks Fun Center

Boondocks offers electric and gas go-karts, the more powerful gasoline models for the older drivers. The fun starts for “junior racers” who stand at least 36 inches tall and goes up from there to a total of three categories, each of which has a dedicated track. The biggest is a quarter-mile long; all offer straightaways, turns and curves.

The center’s other attractions include laser tag, a large video arcade, miniature golf, bumper boats, a batting cage, a three-story play structure and a full-service restaurant, said general manager Casey Lee. Open daily, weather permitting. 11425 Community Center Drive, Northglenn. 720-977-8000 or boondocks.info

3. Adventure Golf and Raceway

This operation, part of