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Habla Teenagerese?

My oldest daughter doesn’t want to take Spanish next year.

I want her to take Spanish next year. It’s an elective only offered to eighth graders, it’s free, it’s available. To my mommy mind, it makes sense.

I explained the benefits of having a full year of Spanish completed before high school. She’ll be a year ahead. Spanish is the wisest language to learn in today’s world and especially in our part of the country.

These arguments failed to convince her, so I trotted out a seemingly innocuous observation about her friends. They are probably taking Spanish, right? I felt terrible hijacking peer pressure this way. Normally, I decry peer pressure but when it’s time to sign up for next year’s electives? Shame-less.

She claimed no, they aren’t. They all decided to take sculpture.

I pictured a lonely, dejected Spanish teacher and an incredibly overwhelmed art teacher saying mon dieu!

So rather than learning an important, marketable, socially-conscious life skill, you want to make vases and clay animals? I asked.

Yes.

Big sighs from me. I flipped through the packet of classes and noted she had to choose by the next day. Tomorrow. Always too soon, so soon, and how did this happen? Weren’t you just born?

How did we get to this point where a Spanish vs. Clay Elephants debate is just a part of a weekday morning?

I could have insisted she take Spanish much like I insist she eat breakfast every day or complete her chores. You will! You will! I am the mother.

I didn’t. I decided to let this one go. There is time. She is far more interested in taking Chinese beginning in ninth grade. During two enrichment courses in previous years, she chose Chinese and learned some basics. She loved it.

Larger battles loom. There will be times when I will exercise my authority and absolutely insist on certain behaviors and decisions in the coming years. But I want her to know I can maintain perspective.

I want her to know I see her side.

I want her to know there will always be room on our shelves for hand-made clay figurines.

Harry Potter and Disneyland’s World of Color are among new theme parks for Muggles

The biggest news in the theme park world this summer is the June 18 opening of the long-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando in Florida.

But plenty of other new attractions await theme-park fans elsewhere, including a unique water-and-lights spectacle called World of Color, opening Friday at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and the reopening of the King Kong attraction at Universal Hollywood in Los Angeles.

Other highlights this season include Shoot the Rapids, a 2,100-foot-long water ride at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, with an 85-foot drop that simulates whitewater rapids, which opened May 29; and a couple of roller coasters named Intimidator, inspired by NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt’s nickname. One Intimidator opened in March at the Carowinds park on the North Carolina/South Carolina border, standing 23 stories high and reaching speeds of 75 mph. The other opened in April at Kings Dominion park in Doswell, Va., with speeds of over 90 mph and a height of 305 feet.

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter was created with input from author J.K. Rowling and set designers from the Harry Potter movies. The level of detail is impressive, with butter beer served at Three Broomsticks Inn restaurant, magic wands for sale at Ollivander’s shop and puffs of steam rising from the Hogwarts Express train.

The marquee ride at Wizarding World, called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is located in a castle housing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even the line to reach the ride is designed to be entertaining: Visitors walk through the castle dungeon, a gallery filled with magical talking portraits, headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office, a Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and the Gryffindor House common room, where a Quidditch match takes place. The ride is a magical flight with Harry and friends.

Two other roller coasters, Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge, are located

Microsoft’s New Store Opening; Enter to Win a Gift Card for Father’s Day!

**CONTEST CLOSED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!**

Just in time for Father’s Day, Microsoft is opening a new store at Park Meadows. This is only Microsoft’s third store and you won’t want to miss out on their opening day celebrations that include:

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 10: Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner will host a ribbon cutting ceremony where he’ll present up to $500,000 worth of donations to local charities, based on how members of the local community voted. Be sure to go to the Microsoft Store Facebook Page to ensure the charity of your choice is a winner.

Demi Lovato Concert: The first 1000 people in line for the Microsoft Store on opening day will receive 2 passes to see Disney’s Demi Lovato in concert at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 12 at Park Meadows. The first 100 people in line will get to attend an autograph signing ‘meet and greet’ with Demi following the concert on Saturday.

Giveaways + special promotions: On opening day, they will be giving away giftbags with goodies like Xbox games, T-shirts and more, and customers will have a chance to get a free Xbox 360 arcade or a Zune with the purchase of select PCs.

About the store

The Microsoft Store will offer hundreds of products including PCs running Windows 7, computing accessories, Xbox consoles and accessories, Windows Phones, Zunes and first-and third-party software titles.

Customers can also learn new technology skills in the store’s theater space, and work with employees for personalized PC setup and training. We’ll regularly host community organizations for classes spanning a range of topics including Getting to Know Windows 7, Zune HD: Music and Magic, Safe and Sound: PC Safety and Maintenance, and many others.

Father’s Day

Still looking for a Father’s Day present? The Microsoft Store staff has customizable gift options and some great ideas.
• For a great personalized gift idea, the stores offers the option to create a custom ‘Skinit’ for your gadget. Customers can design their own lids and skins for not only laptops, but also phones, Zune and Xbox. That design can be based on personal pictures, pulled right off a USB stick, Facebook/ Flickr, or chosen from a library of designs and templates.
• You could imagine getting a dad a new Xbox with a pic of the family on it, for endless nights of family fun (plus at the store opening they will be giving away some free games)
• Grads could come find the perfect laptop for note-taking in college and show their school pride by using a picture with a team logo on it for a skin-it wrap.
• Dads who want to let their inner geek come out and play should bring the kids and head to the Microsoft Store. They can play games together on the surface tables, play Xbox on a 94-inch screen surrounded by directional sounds, and check out the latest gadgets.

Mile High Mamas is giving away ten $25 gift cards for The Microsoft Store, perfect for Father’s Day! Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is June 20, 2010.

Photo credit: Mission Viejo Microsoft Store Opening

Don’t (Cake)Walk This Way: The Sordid Details of Golden’s New First Friday

I had a complicated relationship with cakewalks as a kid.

Meaning: I always wanted to win and yet never did.

My family had a glorious staycation in Golden, Colorado last weekend. My trip report and oodles of great giveaways are forthcoming but what cannot wait is my daughter Hurricane Hadley’s introduction to The (Cake)Walk of Doom.

Which is only moderately less death-defying than walking the plank.

I have spent a lot of time in this idyllic town that is nestled between two volcanic mesas and against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We stayed at the Golden Hotel overlooking the main drag and gurgling Clear Creek.

On Friday night, we attended the city’s “First Friday,” a newly-minted street fair that occurs on the first Friday of each month. We dined on delicious buffalo burgers from a vendor, watched a magic show, danced in the streets to a live band, indulged in Golden Sweets Ice Cream & Chocolate, rode in a free horse-drawn carriage and topped off our evening at Windy Saddle Cafe where they held a Cupcake Walk for the children.

Twenty-six kids crammed into a circle and each child was given a number to tape to the ground. Like most cakewalks, when the music stops and your number is called out, you’re a winner. But unlike most cakewalks, they had enough cupcakes for everyone; the child just needed to be patient enough to stick around to the end.

Hurricane Hadley lacks patience.

And yes, she gets it

Vaccine against breast cancer in the works

A team at the Cleveland Clinic has laid the scientific groundwork for a breast-cancer vaccine that may work much the same way as immunizations for mumps and measles.

The vaccine is made using a protein called alpha-lactalbumin, which is prevalent in a wide range of breast cancers, scientists said last week.

“This is a first-of-its-kind prototype,” said Dr. Vincent Tuohy, principal investigator of the research.

While the vaccine so far has been tested only in mice, Tuohy said human clinical trials could begin as early as next year, though a marketable vaccine is at least a decade away. He also predicted that the vaccine one day could be administered routinely to women starting at age 40.

Dr. Janice Lu, a specialist in breast cancer and director of medical oncology at Stony Brook University Medical Center, praised the Cleveland effort. “This is very important research,” Lu said, adding “they targeted a protein that is expressed in high amounts in breast tumors.” She said the prototype vaccine differs from the other 40 anti-breast-cancer vaccines under study that are designed to thwart breast cancer only after it has advanced. The recently approved prostate cancer vaccine, Provenge, was developed to attack cancer only after it has spread.

As with immunizations against infectious diseases, the anti- breast-cancer vaccine is administered by

The Summer Scoop: Denver’s (ice) cream of the crop

Denver is a year-round ice cream town, but come summer, we lose our collective cool for the stuff. Just check the lines at Bonnie Brae, Liks, Magill’s or any of the other neighborhood ice cream shops around town. These longtime leaders have been serving the market for years. But as much as we love our standbys, there’s something about new ice cream shops that really tempts our sweet tooth. Here, we catch up with a few of the newer kids on the ice cream block.

A. Sweet Action

A frozen-flavor revolution has been churning on Broadway this year in a fun and airy space with graphic illustrations on the wall and front- window bar stools where customers take in the continuous street theater. Spurred by a sweets-loving couple who never met an exotic taste they didn’t like, Sweet Action Ice Cream began logging loyal followers almost immediately after opening in March in the art-, music- and night-life-friendly Baker neighborhood. “What else could the neighborhood use but an ice cream shop?” asked Sweet Action co-owner Sam Kopicko, who started the business with her boyfriend, Chia Basinger. Their instincts were spot-on. Consider the swarm of people outside of Sweet Action any night of the week, or the dozens of Sweet Action fans who have commented on the store at yelp.com. One of them writes: “Oh why can’t I walk by this place without dragging whomever I am with in for a sample, or, um, like 5?” Perhaps because of the yumminess made fresh every day, primarily with local and organic ingredients. New flavors happen at Sweet Action based simply on

Mama Drama: Scared of Strangers

Dear Mama Drama:

My three (almost four)- year-old has always been very friendly and outgoing. She waves and chats with our neighbors and speaks easily to other family friends.

Recently, she has begun behaving very differently with two families in the neighborhood. She hides behind me or my husband and won’t say hello. We feel very embarrassed and are not sure what to make of her behavior. We have talked with her about how rude this is and asked her why she won’t say hello. She can’t really give us any explanation other than that she doesn’t want to.

We don’t see these neighbors as often as others and are just casual acquaintances. We probably didn’t see them for four or five months during the cold winter weather before the behavior began. We also haven’t had any conversations with her about stranger safety so don’t think she would be scared of strangers.

We want her to be polite and don’t want to offend our neighbors, yet this doesn’t make any sense to us.

~Perplexed Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Perplexed:

You indicate that you have not talked with your daughter about stranger safety. Even though she is only three it is important to begin those conversations early and continue them often as she grows. Start small with information specific to the situations she will be in such as going to preschool or day care, playing at the park, shopping, or walking in the neighborhood. The basics are teaching her to stay with the grown up in charge of her unless that person tells her it is okay to go with or talk to someone else. Talking about these situations just before they occur will help her to remember the behavior you expect from her.

Children have different comfort levels interacting with adults and this can change with varying

Keep Your Kids Reading in a Summer Reading Program

The summer slide.  It’s not a myth but it can be hard motivating kids to read over the summer. That’s why there are summer reading programs with prizes and free books!  Check out all the programs available here in Colorado and nationally. I’m thinking we’re going to try them all!

National Summer Reading Programs

Barnes and Noble:  Read 8 books and choose 1 free.

Scholastic’s Reading Challenge:  Read for the Summer World Record, win prizes and play games.

Ripple Reader:  Read 4 eBooks and get a microphone and 1 eBook free. (See above photograph.)

Reading Is Fundamental: Games and activities.

Borders:  Read 10 books, get 1 free.

Sylvan Learning Center’s Book Adventure: Win prizes.

Half Price Books:  Earn $3 credit for every 15 minutes of reading.

Pizza Hut’s Book It: Read 5 books and enter sweepstakes for prizes.

Happy reading!

Colorado Summer Reading Programs

Boulder

Denver

Westminster

Englewood

Aurora

Jefferson County

Douglas County

Arapahoe Library District

Summit County

Visit Imagination Soup, Guest Blogger Melissa Taylor’s playful learning blog, for more activities to keep your kids learning over the summer.  You’ll find ideas for artist dates with your kids, writing comic books, guest posts by published children’s book authors, and lots more!

Also, Melissa is thrilled to be one of the finalists for Scholastic’s Parent Blog Awards in the Reading and Books category.  Please take a minute and vote for her to win – it would be a dream come true!

Weekly Event Round-up: People’s Fair, National Trails Day, Chalk Festival & More!

Saturday-Sunday. You don’t have to live on Capitol Hill to enjoy the 39th annual People’s Fair, presented by the Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods organization. Each year, the Fair draws thousands from all over Denver to Civic Center Park for two days of urban celebration. Live music and performances are abundant, as always, with dozens of acts performing on six stages. The variety of artists reflects the diversity of Capitol Hill itself, from the cool country of the Hollyfelds to Hazel Miller’s R&B soul. Vendors set up throughout the festival represent local businesses and nonprofits in all their forms — arts and crafts, pet products, outdoor gear, clothing and more. Two food courts dish up tasty treats for the masses, including Mexican, Asian and barbecue delights alongside carnival favorites like funnel cakes and kettle corn. Finally, as if the kids won’t be wowed enough by all the activities, the Fair promises an expanded family area. Face painting, craft projects and caricaturists await, along with plenty of colorful carnival rides. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Civic Center Park, Colfax Avenue and Broadway. Admission is free.

Saturday. Saturday is National Trails Day, and Arvada is marking the occasion with its 9th annual Trails Day Festival. Set in two nearby locations, Majestic View Nature Center and Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge, the fest celebrates all the different ways people use hiking trails. Go on a naturalist-guided 5K walk between the two locations, take a 20-mile guided bike ride, or just relax and take in a demonstration or two. Presenters include the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, HawkQuest and the Colorado Department of Wildlife. A free shuttle transports festivalgoers between the two locations. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Majestic View Nature Center, 7030 Garrison St., Arvada, and Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge, W. 80th Ave., Arvada. Admission is free. Learn more at arvadafestivals.com.

Friday-Sunday. Follow the sound of revving engines to the Goodguys 13th Colorado Nationals in Loveland. The huge car show features more than 2,000 cool cars — hot rods, customs, muscle cars and more, all made before 1972. It’s a classic-car lover’s dream, with plenty to keep gearheads’ minds turning including a swap meet for used auto parts, vendors and cars for sale. Take a break from touring souped-up sedans with live music by Kenny Cordova and the Olde Rock Band. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The Ranch, 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland; 970-619-4000. Tickets are $18 for adults, $6 for kids ages 7 to 12. Kids age 6 and younger are free. Visit good-guys.com for more information.

Saturday-Sunday. More than 200 sidewalk scribblers descend on Larimer Square for the Denver Chalk Art Festival. The public is welcome to stroll the streets and take in the temporary works of art — and maybe give it a try themselves. Six madonnari, professional chalk artists, will showcase their skills, too. Grownups can sample Italian wines and taste beers as they peruse the drawings, while kids create their own pieces at the Kids’ Corner. Stop by on Sunday at 6 p.m. to see the festival’s awards ceremony. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Larimer Square, Larimer Street between Speer Boulevard and 15th Streets, and 14th Street from Market to Lawrence Streets. Admission is free.

-Kathleen St. John

Denver Deals: Sonic, Pei Wei, California Pizza Kitchen & Movies

The Denver Deal round-up this week proves you can have a great time without breaking the budget!

Restaurant Deals:

California Pizza Kitchen is offering a Free Small Craving with any $20 purchase via a printable coupon from their Facebook page.  Become a fan and visit the Free Offer tab to print your coupon.

Pei Wei is celebrating the return of their Thai Mango Chicken!  Eat at Pei Wei on Thursday, June 3rd and you’ll receive a coupon for a free Thai Mango Chicken.  The coupon will be redeemable from June 7-13.

June 4th is National Doughnut Day which means free doughnutsKrispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts will be offering a free doughnut.  You will have to purchase a beverage at Dunkin Donuts to receive your free doughnut.

Sonic is running a Buy One Shake, Get One Free special until June 27th.  You have the option of getting the second one free when you order or receiving a coupon to use at a later date! 

Receive a Free Wendy’s Jr Frosty with any purchasePrint your coupon.

Weekend Events:

Don’t forget this weekend (June 5th & 6th) admission to all National Parks is FREE!

This is the first Saturday of the month which brings us to another Home Depot Kids Workshop.  If the kids are asking for something to do this summer, bring them out to make a tabletop soccer game.  It should provide some rainy day entertainment!  The workshop is from 9a.m. until noon and geared towards kids aged 5-12 years.

Colorado Mills is having a Super Duper Mini Chefs Event this Saturday, June 4th from 2p.m. to 4p.m.  Kids will have the chance to create pasta jewelry, dirt pudding with gummy worms, trail mix delight as well as paint a pizza box from California Pizza Kitchen and color their own potholders. During the event, kids can pick up a coloring sheet from event partner A Kid’s Life! as well as a Strawberry Shortcake™ doll and recipe.

On-going

School may be out for summer but that doesn’t mean your kids should stop learning. Check out your local library for information on summer reading programs, many of which also give you freebies on Book Award Day and area activities.

Want some summer movie fun? Century Belmar 16 is will take part in the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse program. How it works: Buy your 10-movie pass punch card in advance at the theater for just $5 or at the box office on movie day for $1 per show and also get $1 off a Movie Snack Pack. No discrimination here. Punch cards are the same price for adults and children. Movies include Aliens in the Attic, Tooth Fairy, Alvin & The Chipmunks The Squeakquel and more.