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Leap Year offers a select group age-defying powers

Joan Cloutier cried on leap day when she turned 4 only to be told that it was her first birthday; Kay Baker, now in her 50s, still gets ribbed about not being old enough to drive; Chris Curtis had to get a governor’s decree to receive his driver’s license.

People with leap day as a birthday are called “leapers” or “leaplings,” and there are an estimated 200,000 of them around the country, according to the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.

“I like it because it gives me lots of openings for jokes,”

KIND Healthy Grains–Snackable Clusters Kids Love (Win a Large Basket!)


Is it just me or does most children’s snack food require some preparation on the part of the parent?

Sometimes moms just need to grab and go. That’s why Mile High Mamas is pleased to offer a giveaway for a delicious and nutritious new line of snackable clusters, KIND Healthy Grains. Made from healthful whole grains, these superfoods deliver more fiber, protein and higher overall nutritional density than typical cereals and granola.

I put KIND Healthy Grains to the kid test and you know what? They liked every single flavor we sampled (Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds was the favorite). We had them for breakfast with milk, as after-school snacks,

Events: Globetrotters & Bao Bao Festival!

Saturday-Sunday. Get ready for hoops and hijinks when the Harlem Globetrotters come to town. This year’s tour features a strong group of rookies, including the first female Globetrotter in nearly 20 years, Colorado’s own Fatima “TNT” Maddox. The rookie class also stars the tallest Globetrotter ever, 7-foot-8-inch Paul “Tiny” Sturgess, and the shortest: Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, standing 5 feet, 2 inches. As always, expect the ‘Trotters to deliver a flurry of fancy footwork, nimble near-misses and high-flying slam dunks. 2 p.m. Saturday. 1stBank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield; 303-410-0700. Tickets are $20-$97, available at or 866-461-6556. 2 p.m. Sunday. Magness Arena at the Ritchie Center, 2240 E. Buchtel Blvd. Tickets are $18-$130; call 303-871-2336.

Friday-Saturday. Celebrate West African culture at the 9th annual Bao Bao Festival. Organized by Boulder dancer and musician Adjei Abankwah, the fest translates the Ghanaian tradition of gathering around the baobao tree to the stage. Performers from Colorado, Ghana and beyond take the stage in a lively program of dancing, drumming and storytelling. 7 p.m. Friday. Packard Hall at Colorado College, 5 Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs. Free. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Boulder High School, 1604 Arapahoe Ave. Tickets for 3 p.m. kids’ performance are $10 each; tickets for 7 p.m. show are $15 general admission, $10 for seniors, students and kids.

Kathleen St. John

Jefferson County School Board Keeps Cuts Out of the Classrooms for 2012/2013 School Year

I have a fourth and a first grader who attend a Jefferson County School. It shouldn’t be a news flash to anyone that our school districts across the state have faced deep cuts to their budgets for the past several years. These cuts have been felt across the board as the economy has waned and the state budget crisis has intensified. I have realized that although I follow the surface information of these cuts and crisis, I haven’t dug deeper to really understand what is affecting our schools and the reasons behind them. This past year I have devoted time to really understanding what is happening with our schools.

Jeffco Schools is the largest district in Colorado with almost 86,000 students and 154 schools. It is also the largest employer in Jefferson County with over 12,000 full and part time employees. The district invests more than $1 billion annually into the county’s economy.

In early February, I attended a district budget update held by Superintendent Dr. Cindy Stevenson. Dr. Stevenson has more than 37 years in Jeffco as a teacher, principal and deputy superintendent. She has been superintendent since 2002 and is also a Jeffco alumni.

During her update, Dr. Stevenson said the outlook for the next two years is bleak, with hopes that things will start to turn upward again in 2014/2015. She was meeting with different teachers, principals and parents to share where the district stands and their visions to survive the next few years. The district also held several community meetings and many people attended School Board meetings.

I was really impressed with Dr. Stevenson. She seems genuinely concerned about ensuring the students of Jefferson County continue to receive a solid education, while also understanding the importance of keeping a quality of life for the district’s employees. She was very personable and allowed everyone in the room the opportunity to ask her an anonymous question, of which she answered every single one.

In mid-February I attended a meeting with Jefferson County School Board of Education President, Lesley Dalhkemper. She  spoke to a small group of parents at my children’s elementary school about the upcoming budget woes the school district faces. She said people have been coming out in droves to school board meetings to share where there passions lie and help protect those programs that they feel are most important.

In 2011/2012 teachers agreed on a 2% pay cut along with furlough days which amounted to 1% of their salary with a total of a 3% cut.

The school board recently released their plan for the 2012/2013 school year, saving cuts in the classroom and jobs. The district must cut almost $20 million from its budget for the next school year.

“We asked our community what they valued and it was teachers, along with music, arts, and teacher librarians.  I’m pleased to say that we listened and have saved those jobs for at least one more year,” said Dahlkemper.

Employees agreed to continue with furlough days and the 2% pay cut, which will save $5 million. The Board will also take an additional $5 million from the district’s savings account to help offset reductions. The remaining $7 million in cuts will come from central staff and administration.

Here is a list from the district’s website of what will happen in Jeffco in 2012/2013, keeping in mind, the system is in an ever-changing and evolving situation. Changes to state budget funding, individual employee status, individual school budgets and more will have an impact on where the budget will finally get approved in May or June.

  • There are no planned reductions to teachers, elementary music teachers, teacher librarians or counselors for the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Funding for the district’s Outdoor Lab schools will continue for one more year under a sustainability plan supported by the Outdoor Lab Foundation and the district.
  • Free full-day kindergarten will continue for some Jeffco schools.
  • The two furlough days implemented last year will continue for the 2012-2013 school year for all Jeffco employees.
  • In total, Jeffco employees have taken a three percent compensation reduction over the past two years.
  • The outcome of the summit is a tentative recommendation which is subject to approval by the Board of Education.

The two furlough days will result in a reduction of days that kids are in the classroom to 173.

Dahlkemper does warn that the worst is yet to come in the 2013/2014 school year. The district will have to cut up to $43 million with the potential of up to 600 jobs lost including those to teachers, teacher librarians, music teachers and counselors. The Outdoor Lab program will also be cut.

So what can we all do to help support our schools and ensure that all children receive a solid education? The answer is to get educated on these topics yourself then get involved. At the school level, community level, district level, neighborhood level or all four. We all have a voice and in Jefferson County, the school superintendent and school board are listening. We are all on the same page. The challenge is finding the funding and backing initiatives to support it.

Some in Jefferson County are asking the school district to explore a mill levy in November 2012. A mill levy will help offset budget costs, but will take a financial backing to get it off the ground and then a strong voter support to push it through. If you think a mill levy is the answer, get out into your neighborhood and start garnering support. The last mill levy in 2008 was defeated by voters. The last time voters passed a mill in Jefferson County was in 2004.

The school board has done a solid job in keeping the cuts out of the classroom so far. Some say they have yet to feel the affect of the cuts and the reductions are just making the district lean and efficient. But are the cuts really just tightening the belt or are they being felt across the board? Step into any school in Jefferson County and you will see how the cuts are directly affecting students, parents, employees and the classroom. In my next post, I will explore how the already $55 million in reductions are taking their toll.

Important note: Want to make a difference? Don’t miss the mill levy meeting at the school board on Thursday.

Jeffco Parents: Don’t Miss the Important Mill Levy Meeting at the School Board on Thursday

I am on the Accountability committee at my children’s elementary school.

Basically, this just means I sit in our meetings drowning in numbers as we discuss the nuts and bolts of Jeffco Public Schools.

But one digit I understand is a very large one: $111.3 million. That is Jeffco’s total anticipated reductions from 2010-2016. As a parent, addressing such a number is a daunting task that no amount of cookie dough sales will ever tackle.

It’s a good thing, too because that would wreak havoc on my waistline.

At our last meeting, we were given the task to find real, tangible ways concerned parents, teachers, staff and community can get involved.

And thanks to Michele Patterson, we have one. As the 4th Vice President of Communications for Jeffco PTA with children at Moore Middle and Pomona High School she is soliciting a call to action for you to attend the school board meeting Thursday, March 1 to tell them how important it is to our children to have a mill levy (and bond) placed on this year’s ballot.

Denver Deal: Free Day, GameHouse, IHOP, Swim Classes & More

One of our favorite things to do is to have a Friday night dance party at our house, which was a brainchild of doing something that doesn’t involve TV. We take turns picking songs (so as far as any kind of real flow goes – forget it!) But then my daughter gets so into it she is not ready to stop. I recently was able to try out the Arial7 Arcade Children’s Headphones. These are awesome. They have great clear sound but with an automatic volume reduction keeping it at just 85 decibels. Loud enough for them to feel like they are at their own dance party. Quiet enough to not ruin their hearing!

The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield has a FREE day scheduled on March 2 and Denver Art Museum has a FREE day on March 3.
McDonald’s FREE Breakfast for kids
Colorado McDonald’s restaurants will be giving a FREE breakfast to 3rd – 5th graders before they take their TCAP Assessment Test the morning of March 6th. In an effort to help improve scores, McDonald’s is providing a free Egg McMuffin and milk or Minute Maid orange juice to children 11 and under accompanied by a parent/guardian.
GameHouse now available for Mac
Are you a secret gamer? Findings say moms play games five hours per week alone and three more hours playing with their kids! GameHouse is rolling out their FunPass services to Mac users. Email me for your chance to win a free three-month subscription.  FunPass subscribers get unlimited access to your favorite games such as Delicious- Emily’s Childhood Memories, TextTwist2, Bejewled 2, Plants vs Zombies and more (1700+ games).

Pancake Week

Baker Mills recently started offering its Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix at King Soopers, Safeway, Whole Foods and Super Target stores across the Denver metro. As part of National Pancake Week, Baker Mills is offering a $1.00 off coupon on its website exclusively for Denver-area customers. You can find the coupon here:

IHOP and Shriners

Tuesday, February 28 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Receive a free short stack of pancakes at IHOP  – in return consider leaving a donation to help Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals.

Swim Classes

SOS Swim offers one of the most comprehensive drowning prevention programs in the world. Their specialized survival swimming lessons are for children ages 6 months to 6 years old. They customize their lessons, especially for them, to ensure the safest, most efficient lessons. Available March 5 – April 13 at three locations: Golden – 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (Cost: $90 per week), Denver (Evans Exit off 25) – 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm,  OR Highlands Ranch  – 4:00 pm-6:00 pm. Mention Mile High Mamas and  to get 50% OFF lessons for the second child.  Additional questions, please feel free to visit or contact Julia at 850-942-SWIM (7946).

Are you looking for something fun to do? A new place to discover in Colorado? You might want to look at the website, Go ahead, look at the family travel options, find a new festival, book a vacation.

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 so you can forward these great deals to your friends.

You can also follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

My big lottery win (let the winfall begin!)

I won the lottery last week!

Before you start hitting me up for a loan, I’m remiss to say it wasn’t that kind of winfall but rather it involved my daughter being selected via a lottery to enter a new school in the fall.

I’ve watched the public vs. charter vs. private school debate with passing interest thinking it didn’t apply to me. I have been very happy with our neighborhood public school, which has high assessment scores and a capable staff.

But then the bottom fell out in the form of my daughter’s day-long anti-homework meltdown last month.

(Insert collective nod from homework-wary parents everywhere).

On the surface, I recognize a lot of kids hate homework

Believe in The Colorado Ballet’s ‘Peter Pan’

There was a moment so magical in the second act of The Colorado Ballet’s Peter Pan, I had shivers. Neverland wasn’t just on stage. It extended into the audience, weaving around chairs and up into the balconies.

Everyone is familiar with the J.M. Barrie masterpiece (and the Disney movie.) Peter Pan is the beloved tale of a boy who would not grow up, a girl who would be mother to lost boys, a Captain, a crocodile, and a spirited fairy named Tinkerbell. Recently, Peter Pan was freshly adapted for the ballet. It had its world premiere in Milwaukee in 2010 and now the spritely boy is flying high over Denver. The art of ballet seems like a natural step to take in sharing the classic. When mixing professional dance, music, and artistry, the storytelling possibilities are endless.

My daughter and I attended an evening performance of Peter Pan at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. She is

Joneen Mackenzie of Denver builds career on advocating abstinence for young people

Tina and Darin Good sponsored a “Tupperware party” — of sorts — in their Englewood home. But instead of plastic bowls and tumblers, the fare included such concepts as self-esteem and self-determination, with a dollop of sex thrown in for good measure.

And rather than suburban housewives, those who attended the day-long workshop included the Goods’ teenage daughter, Taylor, 10 of her friends and their parents.

The gathering was the brainchild of Joneen Mackenzie.

Since that day 15 years ago when one of her children came home from school with a permission slip to study the human body, Mackenzie has been consumed by one thing — teaching young people about relationships and sex.

Great Gadgets for a Healthier 2012

By now, most of us have completely forgotten what our new year’s resolutions were. Most likely they had something to do with getting healthier and spending more time with family. Well, this year one of my new year’s resolutions is to run the Taste of Louisville Half Marathon and to do so I’ve got to stay on track with eating and running – not to mention I need to shed a few pounds to get to the achieve an ideally steady pace.

I’m always on the lookout for health and fitness gadgets and resources for the kitchen to promote healthy eating. I’d love to share with you some of my recent favorites. Dust off those resolutions and get back on track with me with the help of these great tools.