Month: March 2012

Hogwarts, space facilities: Orlando offers a lot besides Disney World

Taking your older teenagers to Orlando for spring break might seem like an odd choice — aren’t they a little old for Disney? Yes, our 16- and 18-year-olds are a bit jaded for Mickey Mouse, but we saw a last-minute trip to Orlando as a chance to hold our kids hostage for some family fun. We set out to have an authentic experience in a manufactured environment, and decided we would alternate theme-park days with real-world fun. Staying in a condo on International Drive (near Sea World) gave us more space than a hotel room and a chance for family dinners — a rarity even at home. We agreed to skip Disney World, opting to focus on Universal Studios’ newest attraction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Autism sample in Arapahoe County higher than nation’s

A Colorado test county has seen a 60 percent spike in diagnosed autism over two years, far higher than an already-worrisome surge in national rates for the disorder, the CDC and state health officials said Thursday. The Colorado segment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national monitoring project found 1 in 85 Arapahoe County 8-year-olds had some level of autism in 2008, or 11.8 cases per 1,000 kids. That was a 60 percent jump from the last comparable study in 2006. The boost in Arapahoe County numbers was higher than the 23 percent national increase in childhood autism cases. The CDC’s national composite shows 1 out of 88 children with an “autism spectrum disorder,” across monitoring areas in 14 states. Nationally, the rate has increased

The overwhelming mind games that come with autism

Depending on who you speak to, your kiddo could have Autism, not Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, a “leaky gut,” an inability to process external toxins, too high levels of metals in his system, unable to hear properly or allergies. These are all the things I’ve heard from the variety of professionals I’ve spoken to since Z’s diagnosis. Crazy, huh? You hear something different from every professional you meet. After all, it’s human nature to see things you’re trained to see. What’s that medical (para)phrase? ”Don’t look for the zebra?  Because it’s probably just a horse (or in autism’s case, a jackass).” Or something like that. You hear a million different stories from parents who SWEAR by things they’ve done for their kids. You read a million different stories online about...

An 11-Year-Old’s Perspective of The Hunger Games

Under the Christmas tree last year was a set of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, a gift to my son. Having heard for months how great the books were, I decided to get the set so we could all read up before the movie release. My 11-year-old, my husband and I were hooked from page one, racing through the action-packed series with great anticipation for the movie release. Monday, we celebrated the start of Spring Break at the theater. The following is my son’s review of The Hunger Games, an 11-year-old’s view of the critically acclaimed film.

When is the Best Season to Have a Baby?

Because I have eight kids, our calendar is full of red-letter days. Little squares hail their birthdays nearly year-round. With so many kids, it’s easy and natural for me to consider the best time of year to bring a new baby home. When is the best season to have a baby? Summer I’ll start with summer because my first baby was a summer baby. Experienced women ominously warned that being hugely pregnant during summer would be torturous. Oh, the places you’ll sweat, the swelling you’ll get, the chaffing and the desire to lie naked in a cold empty bathtub chomping on ice as you glower at feet that look like loaves of shepherd’s bread—it’s all true. But the summer baby is worth it. There are advantages. Once the baby arrives, the logistics are pretty eas...

Denver Deal: NCAA Tourney, Echo Mountain, Consignment sale and more

Spring break! My kids started screeching last Friday. All I could think of is, “what should we do?!??!?!” Women’s NCAA Basketball tournament comes to downtown this next weekend. There are a multitude of fun things to do for free or nearly nothing. Buick is sponsor of the tournament – but moreso, I love their message – The Buick Human Highlight Reel is an online collection and archive of short videos featuring former NCAA student-athletes whose greatest victories occur away from the game, where they apply their passion to serving those in need. As I think about what we will do for spring break – yes, we may go to some of the NCAA fun but we might also try to find a great volunteer opportunity like the ones through Volunteers of America that let us volunte...

Postcards from the Edge (of the potty training seat)

“Potty training.” The mere words still make me shudder. For some parents, it is a simple process. For others, there are months of nail-biting frustrations. And for a select few (like me), sometimes it felt like our child was never going to get trained. Though it was a trying time, I was surprised to learn there are a large number of children who, even beyond the preschool years, continue to have issues. Thankfully, I can finally say we’re in the clear after many difficult years. I have a few friends who are currently potty training their kids and so I thought I would revisit those harrowing 3 years and 9 months it took to get her potty trained. You know. The first time. March 2006: We brought home our first potty amidst great fanfare. Twenty-month-old daughter was enthusi...

April Family Volunteer Opportunity: Outdoor Spring Clean-up for Seniors

Spring has sprung and some local seniors need your help. Join Volunteers of America for this April’s Family Volunteer Project, “Spring Clean-up for Seniors.” Volunteers will be assigned to a senior’s home to help with light yard work (weeding, raking, mowing, trimming bushes, etc.) This project is a HUGE help to homebound senior clients. When: Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 10 a.m.-noon (time frame is flexible if needed) Where: Family volunteers will be assigned to a senior’s yard. Who: You and your family…children of all ages are welcome! What: Family Volunteers will be doing light yard work for limited-income homebound seniors. Depending on the needs of each client, activities include weeding gardens, mowing lawns, raking leaves, trimming bushes, and othe...

As “pink slime” controversy rolls, Colorado districts see red over the beef filler in school lunches

As the “pink slime” controversy has seeped into school lunches, some Colorado districts have responded to a surge of parent and community concern over safety by changing the way they approach their ground-beef purchases. Ann Cooper, director of food services for the Boulder Valley School District, said she received dozens of e-mails seeking assurances that the school would not serve beef with a filler called “lean, finely textured beef” — more recently dubbed “pink slime” in the wake of reports and social-media campaigns questioning its safety. “There’s no reason to use ammoniated beef in our school food — just no reason,” Cooper said. “It’s not the same as using 100 percent ground beef. Do we really need to put that in scho...

7 of the Best Books for First-time Moms

I’m at the age now where most of my peers are having children. Since I was one of the first of our friends to have kids, I have been getting more and more questions lately about pregnancy and parenting for first-time parents. One of the questions I get asked the most involves my favorite books for moms-to-be! In some ways, I guess babies do come with instructions! As for books, I love learning, so I read tons of books. Several were absolutely terrible, some were mediocre, but some of them were lifesavers.

Win VIK (Very Important Kid) or General Admission Tickets to the LEGO KidsFest! (20 Tickets Up for Grabs)

**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNERS HEIDI DOMAGALA, SUMMER HARTSHORN, VICKI RUPP AND SARAH KELSO!** If there is one must-attend event for kids in Colorado, this is it: the LEGO® KidsFest will be at the Colorado Convention Center April 27 – 29, 2012. Not familiar with this national tour? Think three acres of hands-on educational fun for all ages with millions of LEGO bricks, not to mention construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation, live LEGO Master Builders and so much more Among the many LEGO attractions, families will find:

To The Gentle Giant From A Mom Who Sometimes Gets It Wrong

I have an unsuspecting guest blogger today. It’s my eleven year-old son, Taylor, or as I like to call him, the Gentle Giant. Gentle because he was born with a heart much more complex and intricate than most, and giant because, well, he’s really, really tall. Taylor has always been sensitive to the ways of the world…more synchronized to the tune of his own feelings and the vibrations and chords of those around him than anyone I know. Even though our parts come from the same place, they’re constructed in an entirely different way. What seems like a glancing blow to me hits him directly; a sucker punch to the gut with a sting that lingers and burns. At first and for a long time, I wanted to change my son. Make him tougher, more resilient, and in my mind’s eye, strong. No caring parent w...

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