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Mama Drama: Hair Raising Reading

Dear Mama Drama:

I have three daughters ages 13, 11, and 8. They are all avid readers and generally read well above their age level. My eight year old wants to read whatever her sisters are reading, but as they get into their teens I am not always comfortable with the content.

When there is sexual content or violence, my eight-year-old is often confused, scared, and has had nightmares, especially after reading some of the vampire books.

The girls think it isn’t a big deal, but I do.  I am not sure how to handle this with them.

~ Raising Readers

(photo credit)

Dear Raising:

Your concerns about your youngest daughter’s reading material are valid. The themes in books for teens and tweens focus on different experiences and thinking processes than books for younger children.

It can be difficult to find engaging books for advanced readers. I suggest working with your daughter’s teachers, the school or local librarian, or a clerk in the children’s section of a bookstore to find challenging yet age appropriate books. Searching the internet for age focused book lists can also be helpful, just be sure to read through the books first before you give them to your daughter.

You need to enlist your older daughters in supporting the limits you are setting on the books your youngest reads. Talk with them about your reasons and the impact you have observed reading these books has had on their sister. They don’t have to agree with you, but they do need to understand the influence they have on their sister. She looks up to them and wants to be as grown up as they are.

Find ways for the older girls to mentor and guide their sister. Have them make a list of the books they enjoyed when they were her age and share that with her. Encourage them to go to the library or bookstore to choose books together. With your girls being older you may not still read aloud at night. Consider reinstituting reading together as a family to bring these books to life.

With her sisters encouraging her to read age appropriate books, your eight-year-old will be less resistant to waiting for the right time to read their books.

If you know of some great books for eight-year-olds please share. 🙂

As Seen on FOX 31: Outdoor Toys for the Summer Season

I will be appearing on FOX 31 today (Friday, June 18th) at approximately 9:30 a.m. to tout the following must-have items for the summer season!

1). Sport-Brella
At the park, beach, pool or campsite, the SKLZ Sport-Brella gives you instant protection from the sun, rain, and wind with its domed shape, side flaps and 125 SPF. Its umbrella action open mechanism allows it to be set up in just three seconds and fits the whole family. Includes top wind vents, side zippered windows for efficient airflow and additional visibility, internal pockets for gear and valuables, convenient carry bag and tethers/ground stakes for use when necessary for additional stability. $69.99, sklz.com,

2). Thermacell Outdoor Lantern
The ThermaCELL Outdoor Insect-Repellent Lantern is the best option for keeping mosquitoes and other insects in any outdoor setting. The Patio Lantern is both a powerful insect repellent device and a functional and portable, long-lasting outdoor LED lantern, with both functions being usable separately or together. Providing a 15×15 ft mosquito-free zone, it is 98% effective (tested and used by the Department of Defense and the United States Army), making it the most effective insect repellent device on the market. It is also non-toxic, safe and non-intrusive, being DEET-free, silent, portable and odor free. Rather than a harmful toxin, ThermaCELL utilizes allethrin, an artificial version of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers. Weighs only 13 ounces. $31.99, mosquitorepellent.com.

3). Pottyflip
Pottyflip is a full size, clean, safe, portable, disposable and biodegradable child potty that folds out from a palm-sized package. Easy to carry several in any purse or handbag, it is also easy to use. Just unwrap, flip open

Keeping the Learning Going – Summer Sun Science – ENTER TO WIN!

School is out, the sun is blazing and the kids are singing their favorite song “I’m bored.”

I heard this familiar tune the very first day of summer vacation.

How are you going to keep them busy for more than two months? How will you keep their mind active, engaged and learning? With science activities of course!

**Want to win your very own set of Summer Sun Science Products from Steve Spangler Science? Click here to enter! Contest ends June 30th!**

With the sun being a major part of summer, why don’t you explore the science of the sun?

An easy, first project can be to design a solar oven to cook hotdogs and roast marshmallows. Explore different designs and materials for the solar oven. A good place to start is a cardboard box and some aluminum foil. The kids can get really creative in searching around the house to find oven materials, sketch out their designs and then build.

The best part of the oven is the cooking and eating. My girls like to make s’mores in their solar oven

Weekly Event Round-up: Kingdom Days, Highlands Street Fair and More!

Saturday-Sunday. Head to the heart of the high country for Breckinridge Kingdom Days. The two-day festival is a salute to Breckenridge’s history, complete with historic mine tours, staged gun fights, hikes, blacksmithing demonstrations and more. One of the festival’s highlights is the “Outhouse Races” at 3 p.m. Sunday. Teams build “outhouses” out of well, whatever, and push or pull them as fast as they can. After the Outhouse Races, everyone’s invited to a barbecue at a nearby park, where $5 gets you food, two drink vouchers and live bluegrass music. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Downtown Breckenridge. Admission is free. Visit gobreck.com or call 877-593-5260 for more information.

Sunday. Bring Dad along for an afternoon of Father’s Day fun at the Market at Belmar. In addition to the Market’s lineup of farm and artisan vendors, the shopping center is giving dads — and kids — a fun way to cool off: For $5, kids can dunk their Dad, or a firefighter from the West Metro Fire Department, into a refreshing tank of water. The proceeds benefit the fire department’s Family Support Network. The dunk tank will be especially necessary for dads participating in Belmar’s 1st Annual Chili Contest on Sunday, or for lucky folks who snag samples. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The Market at Belmar, West Alaska Drive near Wadsworth Boulevard, Lakewood. Admission is free. For more information, including details on entering the chili cookoff, visit belmarcolorado.com.

Saturday. It’s like a block party, only bigger: The 28th annual Highlands Street Fair is a neighborhood-wide extravaganza. Stroll 32nd Avenue and take in the sights: A classic car show, three stages of live music and more than 150 vendors. It’s also an excuse to visit the shops and restaurants that line the street. Grownups can grab refreshments in the beer gardens, too, and kids have their own space to play in a special children’s area. 10 a.m. to dusk Saturday. West 32nd Avenue between Irving and Perry Streets. Admission is free. Get more information at highlands-square.com.

Saturday-Sunday. Downtown Denver will be buzzing all weekend long: It’s the 35th annual PrideFest. Over the course of two days, Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities will come together to share their spirit at Civic Center Park. Saturday is a Family Field Day and Women’s Celebration at the park, featuring a kids’ parade, interactive family areas, relay races and even Kiddie Karaoke. Be sure to check out the Dogs in Drag contest, too. Sunday kicks off with the Pride Parade, marching from Cheesman Park, to Colfax, to Civic Center Park. After that, it’s a day-long party featuring live music from En Vogue, a DJ set from the B-52s Fred Schneider and much more. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue. Admission is free. Learn more at glbtcolorado.org.

Through July 1. Poor Peter Hatcher. He has to put up with Fudgie, one of the most irritating little brothers in literature. See his tale of woe come to life in “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” at the Aurora Fox Theatre. Based on Judy Blume’s 1976 novel, the show is one of the theater’s “Little Foxes” summer productions. The lighthearted play follows Peter’s adventures during fourth grade, featuring Fudgie, his sister Tootsie, neighbor Sheila and Dribbles the Turtle. 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Aurora Fox Theatre, 9900 E. Colfax Ave.; 303-739-1970. Tickets are $7 each. Visit aurorafox.org for more information.

-Kathleen St. John

The Kindergarten Dilemma–To Enroll or to Hold Back?

With summer break on the horizon next week, I can almost say I survived my daughter’s first year of kindergarten.

And am fretting about my son’s entrance into it.

Why would I do such a thing when he is only 3? The reason is simple: I already feel pressured to make major decisions on his behalf. When he was born in July of 2006, I figured he was well within the range for the mid-September cut-off for when he could attend school. I enrolled him in our local preschool last September and he has loved it. He has learned all the sounds of the alphabet and is at the top of his class of 3 to 5-year-olds in math.

It’s a good thing, too because I am counting on him doing our taxes in a few years.

He still has one year left of preschool and then I planned to enroll him in kindergarten the following year. Until the peer pressure began.

“Do you really want him to be the youngest in his class?”
“He will be at a huge disadvantage if you don’t hold him back.”
“I held my child back and have never regretted it for an instant.”

At first, I was puzzled. Why would I hold him back when he is

Making the Monster Go Away

My daughter Gina was five when she began changing. I noticed it about the same time her school did. Sometimes it was like she had OCD or anxiety. She wouldn’t throw anything away. When she started throwing tantrums that turned into rage if someone told her she had to throw something out, it became alarming.

At school, she was defensive and ultra-sensitive. Her teacher and the other kids got angry with her. We tried all kinds of therapy, from brain gym and occupational therapy to play therapy to a psychologist who recommended a medical evaluation. Gina’s pediatrician thought she was childhood bipolar. How’s that for scary?

Gina has a family history of bipolar disorder on her father’s side, and her child psychiatrist also thought she was bipolar. The psychiatrist recommended an expensive mood stabilizer that was untested on kids under 10. But the idea of putting my young daughter on an untested, expensive drug that would affect her brain was pretty unsettling to me; I felt like I needed more objective information before making that kind of decision.

Because I work at a brain imaging center in Denver called CereScan, I asked our pediatrician if we could get Gina

Win 15 passes to the Colorado Music Festival’s Young People’s Concert!

**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNERS KATE NOONAN, LAUREN GLASSMAN AND SUNNIE BROWN!**

Are you:
1) A mom?
2) With friends?

If so, round ‘em up for this very cool contest. The Colorado Music Festival is giving away 15 tickets for you and your friends to attend their Young People’s Concert Sing, March & Dance with the Orchestra on either Saturday, June 26 or Monday, June 28, 2010 at 10 a.m.

Not familiar with the Colorado Music Festival (CMF) 2009 Education & Outreach Program? Allow me to familiarize you. This great program is designed to connect kids from ages 3 to 18 to classical music. Concerts, workshops, and masterclasses will be held at Chautauqua in Boulder throughout the summer in conjunction with the Colorado Music Festival concert season from June 26—August 6, 2010.

This summer’s CMF programs for kids and families include:

Young People’s Concerts—for ages 3-7 —Sing, March & Dance with the Orchestra

CMF Young People’s Concerts introduce young children (ages 3-7) to the excitement of live classical music performances with programs that include costumed animals, narration and lively music. This year’s concerts feature pieces by

Denver Deals: Free Salad Day, Movie Madness & More!

Mile High Mamas is remiss to lose our Denver Deal Editor Danielle who will be moving to North Dakota next month. We are at a crossroads as we determine if we will continue with this section. If you know of anyone passionate about finding deals, please let us know!

We have a couple of deals this week:

Free Salad Day
On Tuesday, June 22 from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., MAD Greens is holding a Free Salad Day to celebrate the grand opening of its tenth location at 2073 S. Colorado Boulevard. Not familiar with this restaurant group known for its healthy, gourmet, made-to-order salads and delicious paninis? Now’s your chance to familiarize yourself.

In return, they are asking customers to bring a donation of school supplies or cash to benefit the Schlessman Family YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign that provides the needed financial support for low-income families to take part in YMCA programs.

Movie Madness
As the weather heats up outdoors, sometimes indoors is the place to be. Your kids will love AMC Summer Movie Camp on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. at 11 movie theaters across the Denver area. Tickets are just $1 and g

Product Review: Why KEEN Footwear is Perfect for Colorado Kids

I’ll admit it: When KEEN Footwear contacted me about doing a product review, I jumped for joy. It’s not very often I am asked to review a product I am already passionate about. The reason? If there is a line of shoes that perfectly fits Colorado families on the go, KEEN Footwear is it.

My daughter Hadley attended Crested Butte’s acclaimed Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory donning a pair of KEEN shoes last year. My husband Jamie and I both purchased their Market St. line (casual wear) from R.E.I. and he wears his shoes almost daily.

Mine
KEEN Footwear sent my daughter Hadley and me each a complimentary pair of trail shoes to try out. I christened my Genoa Peak shoes on an early-morning hike at Red Rocks and was delighted with how light and fast they are. What I loved the most: I had absolutely no breaking-in blisters, a rarity for me. In my husband’s words: “It’s like wearing a brand-new pair of already broken-in shoes.”

I think this is his way of brown-nosing KEEN shoes for a pair of his own.

Hers
I’m not one to spend a lot of money on children’s shoes but after purchasing a pair of KEEN shoes last year, I realized that the durability and comfort are well worth the extra expense (prices range from

Golden: The Ultimate Family Staycation Right in Your Backyard

Golden is where every eccentric person who doesn’t reside in Boulder chooses to live.

-Jane, the Clear Creek History Park’s “Chicken Mom”

I am all about impromptu living and Golden is chock full of it. Visit the Golden Kayak Park on a Wednesday evening in the summer and you will be delighted to witness an unofficial freestyle kayak competition with free schwag and spontaneous tailgate parties.

Drop by Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of every month and you’ll see an onslaught of bicyclists congregated for the “Golden Cruise” (all ages are invited).

I have spent a lot of time in Golden but truly fell in love during my family’s recent 24-hour-long staycation. With the gorgeously-appointed Golden Hotel as our basecamp, we delved into many family-friendly activities in this charming enclave that is nestled between two volcanic mesas and against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Our whirlwind trip included:

First Friday Street Fair

Golden’s First Friday has been around for a while and consisted of merchants offering extended hours and special deals the first Friday of each month. But now through October 1st, First Fridays include a lively Street Fair from 5-8 p.m. on Washington Avenue.

My family toured downtown Golden in a free horse-drawn carriage ride pulled by Burt (allegedly the largest horse in Colorado). We bought juicy buffalo burgers from a vendor, danced in the streets to the live band, giggled at the entertaining magician, valued our life too much to attempt the free climbing wall and checked out Golden’s charming stores.

Hands down, the Windy Saddle Café’s cupcake walk was our favorite activity. I love to stumble upon family-friendly places and with their little “Buckaroo” lunches and toy-filled back room, this restaurant epitomizes kid-friendly. At 6:30 p.m., 26 kids participated in their cupcake walk where everyone was eventually a winner.

Unless you were the second-to-last kid like my daughter and casualties almost ensued (see last week’s post for the sordid details).

Clear Creek History Park

If you have elementary-school-aged children, you’ve probably heard of this park dedicated to showcasing how early settlers worked and played in the late 1800s. We were first-timers and my kids loved this recreated mountain ranch complete with gardens, a working blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and chicken coop.

Stroll around for free and peek through the windows of these beautiful old buildings located directly off Clear Creek Trail. Want a fantastic summer diversion for the kids? Take part in scheduled activities such as