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5 Must-Have Music and Ambiance Apps to Beat the Summer Heat

We all have our own ways of beating the heat (popsicles, dips in the pool, air conditioning on full blast, ice baths, etc. A fun way to add to the “cooling off” sessions is to add some music or audio entertainment to the mix – anything to distract our brains from dwelling on the sweaty misery!

If you have a smartphone, music is just a tap away. Why not put your smartphone to good use and add these great musical apps to your collection this summer.

Spotify (free) by Spotify Ltd is an app I find myself using multiple times a day. Spotify is like Netflix for music (only with a much bigger selection). Stream music over wifi for free (with commercial breaks), or pay $9.99 a month to download as much music as you wish to your phone for easy on-the-go playback. While the fee may sound a bit hefty, if you’re a music fanatic, it’s worth it. I find myself downloading entire albums regularly and truly do end up saving lots of money using the service. Not to mention, my kids love that they can hear Laurie Berkner (or whoever their current favorite artist is) wherever we go! Find it on the Android Market as well!

Why “seeking professional help” is worth it: My therapeutic journey

Everyone has a different perspective and attitude toward “seeking professional help.” I can only speak from my experience and although many different types of therapy exist, I will only be able to share with you the “type” that works for me.

The first thing that I feel is important to know is that you don’t need to suffer from mental illness in order to see a therapist. I do not have a family history of mental illness, I am not on any prescriptions for mental illness and I don’t even have any symptoms severe enough to constitute mental illness. Sure, there have been times in my life that I may have found myself in a depression-like state but I never want to confuse that with true depression. If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness then you know that it is not something to take lightly. It completely effects your day to day life.

Additionally, a life-changing, horrible event

Colorado Independence Day celebrations: A Fourth of July concerts and fireworks event list

While some communities are taking a year off from fireworks — given the current statewide fire ban — others are moving forward with pyrotechnics in addition to their parades, live music and kids activities.

Here are some highlights for the next week, focusing on the big day, the Fourth of July.

(NOTE: Check websites before heading out as some fireworks shows may still be canceled.)

How to Talk to Kids about Wildfires

As news of Colorado’s wildfires dominates the media, I remember a decade ago when our family had been on “pre-evacuation notice” for two days. When the county sheriff came to our door and said, “This area is being evacuated. You have a half-hour to get your things,” we knew what to do. But when our 4-year-old Niko asked, “Is our house gonna burn down?” I wasn’t so sure.

Fortunately, my response, “We’re moving away from the fire to be safe and firefighters will do everything possible to protect our home,” smoothed his furrowed brow.

According to the

Colorado wildfires: Ready an evacuation kit – even if you’re not in a danger area

When the call or text-message order to evacuate arrives, most people remember to bring their wallet or purse along with a suitcase and a handful of valuables. But what about the rest of the paperwork that governs their lives?

The policy number and phone number for homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance policy? The policy number and phone number for the mortgage company? Car insurance information?

“It’s a completely good idea to

How to assist Colorado wildfire victims, how to donate and help

This two-part list is to assist the victims and evacuees of the Colorado wildfires and to direct people who wish to make donations of any kind.

How to donate or help communities dealing with wildfires

• El Paso County Sheriff’s office: Large animal shelter at Norris-Penrose Equestrian Center needs volunteers: 719-520-7773.

• The Red Cross in Colorado Springs is at 719-632-3563. Those wanting to donate money to the Red Cross can go here.

• Help Colorado Now, a partnership of Colorado Division of Emergency Management

Events: Incredible Dog Challenge, Highest Show on Earth

Through Saturday. Canine athletes from across the nation converge on Denver for the Western regionals of the Purina ProPlan Incredible Dog Challenge at City Park. The fun starts today, when local dogs can sign up to qualify for events and competitors practice for the next day’s games. Saturday is devoted to the actual contest: High-performance pups will show their stuff in events like freestyle flying disc, agility, dock diving and, for the little-dog lovers in the house, Jack Russell hurdle racing. Spectators are welcome. 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. City Park, 1700 N. York St. Admission is free. carsonevents.com

Wednesday. Catch some high-flying history as two pilots attempt to set two world records at Dillon Reservoir and Breckenridge. Gary Rower, piloting a Boeing PT-17 Stearman, and Buck Roetman, in a Christen Eagle, will take to the skies twice to set records for the highest-ever air shows over water and land. With the surrounding surfaces at about 9,000 feet above sea level, they’ll add to the altitude by pulling stunts in the skies above—though the thin air can make things difficult for both the pilots and the planes’ engines. Stop in Dillon and Breckenridge before and after the shows for Fourth of July festivities, too. 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Dillon Marina, 150 Marina Drive, Dillon. 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Town of Breckenridge. Admission is free to both shows. highestshowonearth.com

Kathleen St. John

Nine of the best pools in and around Denver

It’s that time again, Colorado. Dig to the bottom of the drawer, pull out your favorite piece of Lycra, and pray that your birthday suit still fits into your bathing suit.

We’ve rounded up a sampling of some of the best outdoor pools in the metro area for your enjoyment. So go ahead. Grab your suit and towel, a book and the kids, and dive in. (Prices are subject to change).

1. Sunset Pool, Longmont

1900 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-776-5823; longmont.co.us.

10 Reasons C-Sections are Awesomely Awkward

Recently, our 10-year-old son had appendicitis and needed surgery. He spent two nights in the hospital. Our 5-year-old daughter wistfully noted how lucky he was to get to be in the hospital and have surgery. Why was he lucky? Because, she explained, now he knew what it is like to be a mama having a baby in the hospital. This made everyone laugh, especially my 10-year-old son.

My three youngest children were born via c-section and our new baby will be, too. My five oldest kids were born the old-fashioned way. I grew them in pickle jars in a pantry in the basement. When they were sufficiently steeped we opened the lids, just as our mothers and their mothers did before us.

If you think about c-sections from a child’s perspective, they seem unduly harsh and scary. Many adults share this view, sometimes rightfully. There can be complications. Healing is longer. But lives, like my 5-year-old daughter’s—who had a cord prolapse during my labor with her—are saved. Many moms who have c-sections reflect on the experience with love, with wonder, with amazement, with a little disbelief. C-sections are unique experiences. They are weird and wonderful at the same time.

Here are 10 things that make c-sections awesomely awkward:

1. Sometimes, they take your intestines and uterus out of your body. This is especially likely if you’ve had more than one c-section. There can be adhesions and scarring, which means doctors have to move pesky innards out of the way to get to baby. My husband reports he saw things he can’t un-see during my last c-section. I guess I looked a little like roadkill for a few minutes. Thankfully, they put everything back neatly.

2. What the doctor calls “pressure” you will call “I know what a bounce house feels like.” Right before each of my c-section babies were born, the doctor said, “You are going to feel a lot of pressure now.” To free the baby from the incision, they press down on your belly as if you were the dough, they are the baker. You are the freshly-poured concrete, they are the steamroller. This only lasts for a few seconds, however.

3. Surgical prep is a lesson in humility. You are shaved with a disposable battery-powered razor that was designed by John Deere’s loser brother, Lenny Deere. You won’t look like a golf course, though. Then, you must drink sodium bicitrate, which looks like grape juice but tastes like a mix of rotting licorice and tears.

4. Spinals are scary, but work fast. Getting spinal anesthesia is the part I dreaded (and dread) the most. First, they numb the area with shot, then they administer the actual spinal. It’s different from an epidural. There is no tube leading out of your lower back, plus it kicks in immediately and wears off quickly. It’s disconcerting to rapidly lose the ability to move. Your movements are at the direction and mercy of the OR staff after that point.

5. Your arms are strapped down. Not only do you lose the ability to move from the chest down, your arms are immobilized. They want you to be perfectly still, which makes sense. Once your baby is born, the anesthesiologist might free your arms so you can hug and touch your baby.

6. They might play music in the OR. When my second c-section began, Billy Idol was screeching about how it was a nice day for a white wedding. Apparently, the OR was staffed with 80’s glam rock fans that day. In an odd way, it relaxed me because I thought it was funny. During my third c-section, the anesthesiologist played a mix of songs he told me he made for births. There are a lot of closet DJs in the medical profession.

7. Your spouse or birthing partner will look funnier than you. My husband, who joined me in the OR all three times, wasn’t given scrubs to wear. He was given a blue prison jumpsuit made of 3-ply toilet paper with a big silver zipper going up the front. They were disposable and one-size-fits-all. The most bizarre design element is these jumpsuits have pointy collars, just like button down shirts. For my second c-section, my husband made a jaunty necktie out of the elastic heart rate monitoring strap that went around my belly. Babies don’t want to meet you if you don’t look snappy. First impressions. Think of it as a job interview.

8. ORs are cold, cold places. You know you’re in an OR when you hear penguins bleating. I’ve asked but have never received a reasonable explanation for why ORs are kept cold. The nurses just laugh and agree that it is cold. But why? Why? To keep the produce in the corner fresh? Every time I go in the cold produce room at Costco, I have birth flashbacks. Now, peel me a grape from that crate over there.

9. You are repaired with office supplies. Staples and/or glue will close your incision. This reduces scarring and holds everything together more solidly than repairs made from items commonly found in grandma’s sewing basket—in other words, stitches, love, and cat hair. Too bad there’s no Easy Button.

10. When scheduled, c-sections take less time and effort than a hair cut. Something as monumental and life-changing as the birth of a child means sweat, work, labor. Opening the ol’ pickle jar takes clenched jaws, hot water, and elbow grease. But there is something leisurely about showing up at the hospital at an appointed time on a certain day. There’s no rush, no sense of urgency. You are nervous and excited, but you’ve been waiting for that day and that time for awhile. You get to meet your baby, finally—just like the mom down the hall in labor, just like the mom at home in her bed, just like the mom at the birthing center in a bath tub. The common goal is to hold our little ones in our gazes and in our arms.

Denver Deal: Concerts, Arby’s tour, Pirates Cove, Regal Cinema and IKEA

I would be remiss to totally ignore all the fires that are happening in and around our state. While I always love a deal – I love companies that support our community! IKEA is donating products from pillows and blankets to flashlights and potato chips totaling nearly $20,000. In addition to items donated to Larimer County’s Donation and Collection Distribution Center, the store is offering High Park Fire victims a one-time 20 percent discount for a new IKEA kitchen and 30 percent off items for the rest of the home, up to $10,000. What an amazing gift to the community this is. I know (from personal experience) how difficult it can be to rebuild your life after fires.

Free Summer Concerts

Several cities throughout the metro area will have a host of free concerts – all summer long! Bring your chair or your blanket. Most locations encourage you to bring picnic and have fun with the whole family.

  • Southlands in Aurora will host their FREE Friday concert on June 29th featuring Under the Radar from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Highlands Ranch will continue their summer concerts with Deja Blu on Thursday, June 28 from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. at Highland Heritage Regional Park.
  • FlatIron Crossing will host Soul X for the their Thursday night concert this week June 28 from 6 p.m to 9 p.m.
  • Clement Park in Littleton on Thursday, June 28 the Rebecca Folsom Band featuring Rock, Blues & R&B will be playing from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Aspen Grove in association with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema brings you the Ultimate Willy Wonka party complete with chocolate fountains, bubbles and even a GOLDEN TICKET on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 starting at 7 p.m. screening will start at dusk. Contests, prizes and giveaways from Aspen Grove Merchants.
  • Northglenn Summer Concert series has Jacamo this week on Wednesday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. at E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park.

Arby’s Hungry For Happiness Tour

Join Arby’s at the Denver Hungry For Happiness tour at DICP College View from 11:00 am- 2:00 pm on June 29 and a car show at the same location on Sunday July 1 from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. The tour will conclude with a public family fun day at the Arvada Food Bank on Monday, July 2 from 11:00 am – 2 pm. The tour is meant to bring awareness to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry(r) campaign will include Arby’s Kids Meals to children participating in the summer meals program, distribute information on local resources to the public and provide an afternoon of summer fun such as hula-hoop contests, tug of war, bean bag toss,  hopscotch and other family-friendly activities.

Pirate’s Cove

Ahoy Matey!  Come and join us at Pirates Cove with this awesome half-priced admission offer! With this deal you will get a full day of fun in the sun, including; a leisure pool with a large play structure, a 25-meter, 6-lane pool, a 35-foot slide tower with three slides, a lazy river, concessions, and more. Save 50% Off Admission with  Coupon

Sunday Cheap Movies at Regal Cinema

Every Sunday visit one of these Regal Cinema Theaters: Greenwood Plaza Stadium (On Arapahoe Rd in Englewood), Meadows Stadium (in Littleton by Park Meadows) and Twin Peaks in Longmont and try Value Days – all movies are just $5. The deal  includes new releases – plus you can include 3-D movies for an additional $3.50!

Staples School Supplies Savings

My sister used to make our family shop during our family vacation – just for school supplies. Apparently someone at Staples is as excited about school supplies as my sister ways…saving on essential supplies this back-to-school season. Staples is launching its Back-to-School Savings Pass for 2012. Now available, customers nationwide can save 15 percent all season long. Available for purchase for $10 while supplies last, the BTS Savings Pass is valid until Sept. 15 for use once a day on supplies such as pens, pencils, paper notebooks and backpacks.

Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

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