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Boulder seventh-grader summits all 50 high points

Matt Moniz hiked to Mount Everest base camp in Asia and climbed the highest peaks in Europe, Africa and South America before he did his first Colorado fourteener last year — at age 11.

So the Boulder seventh-grader established his reputation for precocity well before he and his father, Mike, tackled this summer’s project: reaching the highest point of the 50 states in 50 days or fewer.

Beginning June 3 with an ascent of Alaska’s Denali (the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet) and culminating July 16 on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea (13,804 feet), they completed the odyssey in 43 days, 3 hours, 51 minutes. That bettered Denver schoolteacher Mike Haugen’s previous “high-pointers” record by two days, 15 hours, 11 minutes.

Like last year’s project — doing 14 fourteeners in 14 days, which actually took only eight — Moniz did the high-point challenge in part to raise awareness of pulmonary arterial hypertension, a cardiovascular disease that afflicts his best friend. Moniz said his friend experiences headaches and shortness of breath.

“It’s basically like being at altitude, 2 4/7,” Matt Moniz said of his friend’s rare disease. “I feel really, really blessed to be able to choose to do high-altitude mountaineering. After every trip we have a sleepover, we play a bunch of games and I show pictures, tell him a bunch of stories.”

People attempting to do the high points in record time start the clock when they

Mama Drama: Sibling Birthday Blues

Dear Mama Drama:

I have two girls who are three years apart in age. My oldest daughter who is nine has a really difficult time handling it when it is her younger sister’s birthday. She is always excited about the party and getting her sister a present, but when the day arrives she loses it. She interrupts, makes rude comments, tries to take over opening presents, and becomes obnoxious trying everything she can to pull the attention away from her sister and onto herself.

Last year we talked about it before the party and she seemed allright, but she could not seem to handle it in the moment. Every year she ends up making her sister cry and being removed from the festivities.

My husband and I are so exasperated that we are contemplating not having her be part of her sister’s upcoming party this year. This seems absurd, but we don’t know what else to do. Her sister wants her to be there, but none of us want all the drama.

Other than this situation the girls get along well and really enjoy each other.  How can we support them so that we can all enjoy the party?

~Mama with the Birthday Blues

(photo credit)

Dear Mama:

Even though her other parties have been difficult because of her sister, your younger daughter is demonstrating compassion and generosity in wanting her sister to be there this year. Because of this I suggest allowing her sister to be there under very clear guidelines, but having a back up plan for her to leave if she is not able to handle it. Leaving should not necessarily be considered a punishment, but more of a recognition that this is too hard for her.

Talk with your older daughter about your expectations for her behavior at the upcoming party. Let her know you and her sister want her to be part of the celebration, but that in order to do so she will need to be respectful and kind. Discuss specifically what this will look like and role play situations that she has struggles with in past years.

It sounds like in previous years her negative attention seeking behavior went on for some time before limits were set. In order for her to participate in this party you will need to be very clear about your expectations, monitor her closely, and be willing to end her participation if needed. At the first signs of  agitation or inappropriate behavior step in to support her. She may need a redirection, restatement of the expectation, or a support in pulling herself together. Practicing this before hand will give her more confidence in responding in the moment.

Older siblings often are so used to being in charge that they have a hard time letting this go. Have the girls brainstorm ways that the older sister can help during the party without taking over. She could help greet the guests and place presents in a designated spot, coordinate a game, or assist in serving the cake. During times when her sister is in the spotlight like present opening, plan for the older sister to be next to you or her father. Having her in close proximity provides the opportunity to support and redirect quickly and discretely.

What do you do to ease the frustrations of siblings when it isn’t their turn to be in the spotlight?

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! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

A Warm Weather Guide to Fun in Denver

Warmer weather is here! As the sun lingers in the sky longer before settling behind the mountains, how should we fill the time? What activities are sure to be a hit?

Well, with the help of our readers (yes, that’s you!) Mile High Mamas has compiled a list of fun warm weather activities in the Denver area.  All of these places and activities in one handy list!?  Awesome!

Need an idea for an inside activity? It’s here!
Need a new outside activity to try? It’s here!

See something that isn’t on the list? Let us know, and we’ll add it! Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often! It’s your Warm Weather Guide to Fun in Denver!

So, get out there! Try something new! Explore your own backyard and beyond.

Indoor Activities:

Get in out of the sun (or rain) and have an indoor adventure!

  • American Paintball Coliseum – The coliseum is comprised of indoor and outdoor paintball fields. The indoor fields are split into two arenas, one with giant inflatable obstacles, the other with heaps of corrugated plastic tubing. The paint is water-soluble, and remnants of matches make floors sticky.
  • The Apex Center Treehouse Play Area – The kids love crawling through the tubes and sliding down the slides. This indoor play area is free and provides hours of fun, rain or shine!
  • Baby Boogie at the D-Note – Baby Boogie at the D-Note in Olde Town Arvada runs every Sunday from 3-6 pm. They clear their stage and put up kids’ instruments. The kids rule the restaurant and mom and dad can relax while the kiddos boogie.
  • Boondocks Fun Center – Boondocks Fun Center in Northglenn is an 8-acre indoor-outdoor fun facility. Indoors you’ll find a futuristic laser-tag arena, a dual-seat Max Flight Simulator and a broad sweep of arcade games that run from Dance Dance Revolution (hilarious to watch) to a Panzer tank simulator. From tiny tots to older teens, there’s a game appropriate for every player.

What supplements do you give your children (if at all?)

When my son was 4, I tried giving him nutritional supplements to make up for his appalling diet. I mixed fish oil into his orange juice. I let him eat candylike gummy multivitamins. And I stirred a chocolate powder containing 31 fruit and vegetable extracts into his milk.

It eased my worries, but experts disagree on whether supplements do any good.

“An appropriate diet should cover all needs,” said Dr. Steven Daniels, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on nutrition. Parents of picky eaters may be concerned, he said, but the worry “is often misplaced because kids are growing and developing normally.”

But how many kids eat an “appropriate” diet? Dr. Kathi Kemper, who chairs the holistic and integrative medicine department at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, often recommends a multivitamin or fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, because “people have a funny idea what a healthy diet actually is,” she said. Surveys show that 99 percent of American children do not meet the recommended daily allowance for one or more essential nutrients, Kemper said.

If you do use supplements, look for children’s brands. Avoid large doses of anything; some nutrients, such as iron and vitamin A, can become toxic. Also note that supplements are not standardized and quality is not well-regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s a guide to some of the more common supplements:

Weekly Event Round-up: Free Scuba Diving, Boulder County Fair & More!

Saturday-Sunday. Colorado is firmly landlocked, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go scuba diving: Give scuba a try when the traveling “Be A Diver!” program visits the Downtown Aquarium. Featuring a heated, 15,000-gallon mobile pool, “Be A Diver!” lets anyone go for a quick dive with the help of a certified scuba instructor. Best of all, the “Be A Diver!” dive is free of charge. It’s all part of the aquarium’s special Shark Weekend — don’t worry, there won’t be any sharks in the scuba pool. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Downtown Aquarium, 700 Water St.; 303-561-4450. Admission to the aquarium is $15.99 for adults ages 12-64, $14.99 for seniors age 65 and older, $9.99 for kids ages 3 to 11. Visit aquariumrestaurants.com for more information.

Saturday. Kick off the Boulder County Fair at the Boulder County Fair Parade. The fair doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, but they’re starting early: Fill up for the morning at a pre-parade chuckwagon breakfast in downtown Longmont, then grab a seat before the parade steps off at 10 a.m. The full Boulder County Fair will be up and running on Tuesday with rides, rodeo, livestock shows and much more. The fair runs through August 7th. 6:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. Downtown Longmont. Admission is free. Visit bouldercountyfair.org for more information, including a complete schedule of fair activities.

Saturday. Do the Highland thing at Cherokee Ranch and Castle’s “Céilidh at the Castle.” Pronounced “kay-lee,” a Gaelic céilidh is simply a community gathering, often with music and dancing — in this case, local Scottish band Canned Haggis provides the soundtrack. The evening starts with a Scottish-themed dinner and Scotch tasting, plus a performance of Highland dancing. After that, the floor’s open for anyone to shake a leg to the Haggis clan. 5 p.m. Saturday. Cherokee Ranch and Castle, 6113 N. Daniels Park Road, Sedalia; 303-688-5555. Tickets are $55 for adults, $20 for children age 12 and younger. Call to reserve tickets. Learn more at cherokeeranch.org.

Saturday through Sept. 30. Outdoor ice skating rinks spring up everywhere in the winter, but where’s the love for skating in summer? FlatIron Crossing has your answer at SummerSkate, starting Saturday. The temporary roller skating rink takes the place of their winter ice setup for the last weeks of summer. Skates are available for rental, including wee adjustable ones for little tykes. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. FlatIron Crossing, Interlocken Loop and FlatIron Crossing Drive, Broomfield; 720-887-9900. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for kids ages 4 to 12, $3 for seniors. Skate rental is $3. For more information, visit bceproductions.com/summer-skate.

Through August 8. There’s only two weeks left to catch “All Shook Up,” the Arvada Center’s summer musical extravaganza. The show tells a familiar story: A handsome rebel rolls into a repressed Midwestern town and teaches the townsfolk to rock. “All Shook Up”’s twist is that all the musical numbers are classic Elvis Presley tunes. Plus, the audience is welcome to sing along and rock out in their seats. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m. Wednesdays. The Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.; 720-898-7200. Tickets are $47-$57, depending on day and time. To buy advance tickets and learn more, visit arvadacenter.org.

-Kathleen St. John

Mama Confessional: How did you keep your kids occupied this summer?

I’d like to say that I’ve taken my kids on outings and that we’ve experienced new and wonderful adventures this month. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could share of our many hikes in the wonderful Colorado mountains, or perhaps tell of a day spent at the Denver Zoo where we took a picnic and rode the train? Naturally we would skip bird world, because we hate it, and then casually wander over to watch the polar bears frolick while chocolate ice cream drips down our chins.

Unfortunately, it would all be lies.

I am taking an anatomy class that requires nine hours a week in class, plus study time. We’ve had to stick pretty close to home this summer and sure, while I use words like gastrocnemius in front of the children so they can appreciate my education, they have at times, been bored. They begin to complain and ask “Why can’t we go on fun outings like other children, Mother?” And I respond by telling them to “Close your mandible. Mommy’s studying.”

We have experienced Netflix, however, and I feel like that ought to count for something. See, we’ve held out for years. We’ve said “no thanks” to cable and have been happy with our network television with very few complaints. We’ve been big-time patrons over at College Hill perusing their ever expanding DVD department on a weekly basis. We have even been known to have an account over at Blockbuster.

But then the best gift that we have ever received (besides the birth of our three amazing children, of course) was a Netflix account. We still don’t know how or why Billy’s 83-year-old mother thought of it. But she did. And we have. And we will not look back. We are forever changed.

A few days into the Netflix experience we discovered

Denver Deal: Consignment Stores, Take Care Clinics and Museum Exhibits

Back to School time!

Yay!  It is back to school time – that means we get to go shopping for new school supplies and great back to school outfits!

Consignment Stores
I love going through a friend’s closet….it’s the next best thing to shopping for free.  Consignment stores come in a close second to that!  You can find great designer duds at inexpensive prices.  Not all consignment stores offer kids clothing  – but, we have found some super consignment stores with great kids clothes! 

Goodwill offers all kinds of clothes and other items (including great accessories too!)  Some consignment stores specialize in children’s clothing and other kids items.  Here are just a few: Couture Kids Boutique or Once Upon a Time in Littleton, Faze Two in Lone Tree,  Petite Patoot  in Denver,  Kid to Kid in Aurora, Mommy’s Merry Go ‘Round in Lakewood and  Twice as Nice in Arvada.  And if you have kids that are in fall sports check out the Play it Again Sports near you!

King Tut & Body Worlds:

The Denver Art Museum and Denver Museum of Nature & Science offer a discount for visitors to both shows.  The Denver Art Museum will offer $4 off adult tickets to Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharoahs for visitors who present tickets or stubs for BODY WORLD AND The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will offer $4 off tickets to BODY WORLDS & The Story of the Heart for visitors who present tickets or stubs for King Tut.  (Has to be redeemed in person by Aug 15).

Healthy Deal:

Does your student need to have a physical?  For only $35 (through Sept. 30), Take Care clinics in select Walgreen’s locations are a convenient (and inexpensive) way to get that part of your back to school errands done.  They are easy walk-in clinics with no appointment necessary.

SmartCo Grand Opening Party:

SmartCo Foods is celebrating yet another Grand Opening!  This time Centennial (16746 E. Smokey Hill Road, Aurora) location opens on Wednesday, July 28 at 6:00 a.m.  The first 250 customers will get Cash cards (different values from $20 to $100) and a free reusable shopping bag! The celebration also includes activities, entertainment and more.

Treats:

And as a special treat after you’ve enjoyed your shopping excursion and health clinic, use your Baskin Robbin’s coupons for a buy one get one free soft serve ice cream cone or pull the coupon from this week’s Westword Magazine (free in many grocery store and other locations) for a buy one get one free McDonalds Frappe.

Cheers – until next time!  

Email me if you know of any great Denver deals! 

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

You can also follow me on Twitter.  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out!

Life wasn’t a bowl of cherries for my kids

On my 18th birthday, I had an allergic reaction to my candle-covered treat. It was cherry pie, my absolute favorite.

A few months earlier, I had an allergic reaction to a cherry pie dessert I snarfed during a high school debate trip to Salt Lake City.

It didn’t take all the best medical noggins at John’s Hopkins to see what was going on. I was allergic to cherries. My doctor agreed it would be best to stay away from my favorite fruit for the rest of my life. I haven’t had a cherry since. I haven’t been covered from head to toe in hives, gasping for air, since. Except for that one annoying time when I found out I am allergic to Amoxicillin.

But who makes Amoxicillin pie? Amoxicillin jubilee? Amoxicillin tarts? I can live without a black forest cake covered in juicy, cascading Amoxicillin. I deeply and dearly miss those cherries, though.

Because of my allergy, I haven’t bought cherries for my family to eat. It isn’t that I can’t handle the sight of them yumming them up and spitting their pits here and there. I wouldn’t fly into a jealous rage of regret. It’s because cherries are not on my fruit radar any more. Something about “If you eat this, you might die” creates a mental block. Plus, their time in season is short and there are so many other healthy, delicious fruit choices available this time of year.

The kids have sampled a huge selection of fruits and veggies. This one oversight didn’t bother them or me until my last trip to the grocery store when I spied a display of gorgeous deep red beauties. I was seized with guilt. My kids had to eat cherries during their childhood so they wouldn’t grow up with a void, however small. I bought a pound.

I served them with lunch.

“What kind of grapes are these?” one son asked.

“They are cherries!” I answered, getting the confirmation that I am a loser of a mom.

“Um, cherries are not that color.”

“Yes they are. Cherries are dark red or sometimes yellow and red.”

“But the cherries at Dairy Queen look different.”

I launched into an explanation of maraschino cherries and how they are more like a candy than a fruit.

Then I remembered to warn them about the pit.

“Be careful when you bite down because of the pit. You don’t want to break a tooth.”

The kids looked completely alarmed and began to eat their cherries like Gulliver would eat an apple plucked off a tree in Lilliput. Think Tom Hanks eating the little corn in Big. My husband had to do a demonstration.

He showed how you can put the whole thing in your mouth at one time. It fits. You chew carefully and then you discard the pit somewhere mother-approved. Not on the floor or in your pocket. Never in the garbage disposal, up your nose, or back in the bowl with the whole cherries. You don’t need to save them to plant a cherry tree in the backyard.

The coffee tree they promised when they buried the beans didn’t work out, either. Believe me. I’ve looked.

Same with the stems. Throw them out. Always. When you are in college, at a party, and people are doing neat tricks with cherry stems, excuse yourself to go study for the big calculus final.

I watched them devour the cherries. Their mouths, fingers, and some of their shirts were stained bright red. They ate until the cherries were gone, pronouncing them amazing and delicious.

I will buy them again while they are in season. They’ll grow up knowing how a real cherry tastes and how to handle the pits with grace and sophistication.

Maybe someday I’ll feel guilty about the lack of coconuts in their diet. I don’t have an allergy.

They are just gross.

Beat the Summer Heat and Support The Children’s Hospital with a Dairy Queen Blizzard on August 5

Let’s face it: most of us don’t need an excuse to indulge in a Dairy Queen Blizzard® but this is a great one.

On Thursday, Aug. 5, Dairy Queen will host the fourth annual North American Miracle Treat Day, with $1 or more from every Blizzard® sold being donated to Children’s Miracle Network, a nonprofit organization that raises money for children’s hospitals. Proceeds from Blizzard sales in the Denver area will benefit The Children’s Hospital.

Last year’s event raised nearly $80,000 in one day for The Children’s Hospital; $4.5 million was raised at Dairy Queen locations in North America.

Patients from across the Rocky Mountain region have signed up to make special visits to local DQ locations on Miracle Treat Day in an effort to raise money for The Children’s Hospital. One such kid is Garrison Hayes of Centennial. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, after complaining of tenderness in his knee. Garrison battled through endless tests and months of chemotherapy before learning that he would have to endure a partial limb amputation to save his life. Today, Garrison is cancer-free.

“Miracle Treat Day is one of the coolest days ever!” says Garrison “This will be my fifth year being a part of it. Last year, I got to make Blizzard® treats for customers and meet lots of people who wanted to help The Children’s Hospital. I can’t wait to do it all over again!”

For a list of participating Dairy Queen locations visit MiracleTreatDay.com.

Top 10 things to do in Colorado before you die

Imagine, for the sake of argument, that you only had time to experience 10 adventures in this state. What would those journeys – so special to this purple-mountained mecca – be? Following are our suggestions.

CLIMB A FOURTEENER

At 14,060 feet, Mount Bierstadt (above) is one of the easiest to ascend, with a wide trail that winds its way through swamps, high-mountain meadows and boulder fields. The journey begins at Guanella Pass, just south of Georgetown. If you worry about having never climbed that high before, put your fears aside. There are so many people – from young whippersnappers to truly elderly – hiking on weekends, it looks like a trip to the mall, but they’ll offer assistance if you need it. Long’s Peak by moonlight just might be the ultimate adventure. If that’s not for you, climb one of the state’s thirteeners, which are just as majestic but don’t get the same attention. You’re likely to see one of the state’s Rocky Mountain goats staring down at you from a rocky crag, an eagle flying high above, or ubiquitous marmots on the ascent. If your health or other situations won’t allow you to climb, then take the Cog Railway to the summit of Pikes Peak. Or drive to the top of Mount Evans. No matter how you get there, you really will be “on top” of the world, and there’s no feeling like it.

ATTEND A CONCERT AT RED ROCKS

Pack a picnic dinner, get there early and hope it’s a full-moon night. While your immediate goal is to sway the night away to good music, the side shows all add up to an experience like no other: the moon over the stage, lights of Denver in the background, sitting on rock-hewn seats, the smell of concert-goers’ drug of choice. Or go to a sunrise Easter service, no matter your faith.

EXPLORE MESA VERDE

Sometimes we tend to downplay what’s in our own backyard, but as with other ancient ruins around the world, the cliff dwellings at this national park near Cortez should be visited over and over again. Look and marvel on your own or take a ranger-guided tour for more insight into the people who once inhabited the more than 600 dwellings. Only a small percentage of the archaeological sites have been unearthed, but there are enough open to the public to leave you with a sense of awe. Alternatively, take a full-day tour of the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, where a Ute tribal member will guide you through the park’s cliff dwellings and explain Ute history and the many examples of wall paintings and petroglyphs. Tours begin at Tribal Park headquarters 20 miles south of Cortez. Special tours, including those on horseback, are available throughout the year. While there, stop at the Pottery Factory, where tribal members continue to paint traditional patterns and more modern ones on functional, museum-quality pots.

SINK INTO STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS

Let’s be honest. One of the attractions of this place – besides