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Fun, healthy ways to mix up school lunches

It’s Monday morning and you’re standing in front of an open fridge with a cup ‘o joe and a blank stare. What to make the kids for lunch is your number one priority, but who has time or energy to conjure up inspired meals at a moment’s notice? You grab what you know, prepare and bag it, and send your kids on their way.

This is definitely a common scenario in today’s world but let’s take a moment to realize the opportunity we have at this time to make some changes. According to the CDC, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – that’s triple the rate from just one generation ago. Even if your children do not fall within the obesity category, this statistic is an indication of the environment and society that our children are growing up in and it’s our responsibility to guide our children to make healthier decisions.

However a complete overhaul isn’t necessary to make a difference. It’s the small daily changes that add up to make an impact. Check out our 5 Days of Kid-Friendly Lunches and incorporate a few of these extra tips to mix-up the school lunch routine and help your kids become excited about healthy foods. It may just be the ticket for a healthier and happier future for our next generation.

Recipe: Iconic Denver Restaurant Shares Their Delicious Guacamole Recipe for Super Bowl

A delicious homemade guacamole is tough to beat…except for when you make  Blue Bonnet Restaurant’s signature recipe in your kitchen. That, my friends, is called a win-win.

This South Broadway Mexico Restaurant is a city icon and is home to over 200 food and drink items, all made in-house, including more than 35 different tequilas, 15 signature margaritas, and every Mexican favorite you can think of. The restaurant is also home to many legendary meals served to Denver Broncos throughout the years. 

So . . . what will you be cooking up for your party? The Blue Bonnet has shared one of their football favorites with Mile High Mamas. The Super Bowl is the largest single day of guacamole consumption each year.

So however the Broncos perform on Sunday, you will score big if you make this delicious guacamole.

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Pregnancy Not Your Thing? You’re Not Alone

 I’m 34 weeks pregnant with Baby #1, and it’s taken me an hour to get the first sentence of this story typed. I blame the restless legs, heartburn, aggressive kicking, baby brain, aching lower back, tiny feet stuck under my ribs and grumbling stomach all caused by this 5 pound tiny human squished in my uterus. While I’m not ungrateful and I don’t love my unborn child any less than other women, I’m going to be honest and admit that I don’t love being pregnant. Gasp!

 Over the years I’ve heard many of my friends gush about their pregnancy and about how magnificent each step was and how beautiful they felt. They loved it! Perhaps you have a few friends like that? The ones who talk about how thick and shiny their hair is, the glow of their skin, how each kick they feel is the most earth shattering feeling they have ever felt and how their sex life is better than ever.  If you are one of those women, congratulations! I say, Bulls..t.

 After a battle with infertility and a severe case of ovarian hyper stimulation (a rare side effect of fertility drugs) my husband and I were fortunate to get pregnant! Besides the physical pain of getting pregnant, there was emotional pain.  I started the pregnancy carrying twins and by the end of the first trimester only one remained. Doctors call it a “vanishing twin”, in non-doctor terms I miscarried one of our babies. 

Wit, Wisdom, and Wine: One Woman’s “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow”

While Mile High Mama blogger Catherine Tidd has spent the last few years developing a global online support group for widows and widowers (www.theWiddahood.com), she has also been hard at work on her memoir, Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, which took the number two spot on the local nonfiction bestseller list less than two weeks after its release.  In her first interview with us, she talks about everything from finding humor in grief to dating as a single parent.  And we are excited to be giving away three copies of her book (see below)!

CoverWhy did you write this memoir?

Confessions of a Mediocre Widow is the book I wanted when my husband died in 2007.  I was 31-years-old with three small children and most of the books that I came across were either too clinical/self-help for me or were memoirs written by older widows.  I needed something that I could relate to and I wanted a book that read more like a story than something that outlined the stages of grief.

14 Fun, Crafty and Delicious Valentine’s Day Ideas for February 14

I have decided there is no more polarizing holiday than Valentine’s Day. When I took an informal poll from my Facebook friends about how they celebrate the holiday, I felt like a Seahawk in a field of stampeding Broncos. I received a few helpful suggestions but mostly I was lambasted at even the thought of celebrating.

And that made me pretty sad. Whatever your relationship status, Valentine’s Day should be about love. Not just romantic love but motherly love. Sibling love. Love of self. Lover of chocolate. (Note: the last two are unremittingly linked).

So, whether you’re the Grinch that sulked on Valentine’s Day or you’re a lover at heart (ha, get it?), don’t miss these 14 ideas that will keep you swooning.

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This Mom’s Take on the 2014 Toyota Highlander and What Features You Will Love (Think: Parallel Parking)

When Toyota invited several writers to test out the brand-spanking-new 2014 Toyota Highlander, I jumped at the chance to review it from a mom’s point of view. My own family will soon be in the market to replace an aging car. What vehicle will work best for our active and on-the-go lifestyle?

Cutting to the chase,

The Standley Lake High School Tragedy: Sending my kids to school should not be an act of courage

Editor’s Note: Mile High Mamas’ longtime blogger Gretchen’s teenagers had a brush with tragedy yesterday–both are students at Standley Lake High School where a student set himself on fire. Do not miss her must-read post.

I set off on this snowy, brittle afternoon to pick up my K-8 kids from school. The roads were smeared with dirty ice and winds shoved the van. It felt precarious, like the whole day, a slick white tightrope between home and my kids, elsewhere. I was glad to get to them, to bring us all under one roof safe again, until tomorrow. I’ve said this before, and the time has come to say it again:

It shouldn’t be an act of courage to send your kids to school.

A song came on the radio. It was John Mayer’s No Such Thing. It’s about high school and not fitting in. It’s about having hopes beyond being Prom King and Queen. It’s about biding time.

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
top of my lungs.
I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world
Just a lie you got to rise above.

No Such Thing, John Mayer.

I drove slowly and thought about how my kids—HEY!—just this morning, ran through the halls of their high school and people screamed at the top of their lungs. That there is the real world, folks.

A 16-year-old boy set himself on fire in the cafeteria as the school day started  CLICK TO KEEP READING

Backlash against Common Core education standards surfaces in Colorado

Backlash to implementation of new education standards known as the Common Core has begun to surface in Colorado, following about two dozen other states that have raised concerns about both the content and the high-stakes testing that comes with it.

A group that describes itself as a collection of concerned moms in Fort Collins has networked with others around the state to express misgivings about the standards, which provide a grade-by-grade framework aimed at improving college and workforce readiness.

Critics fear it will foster mediocrity.

“The concern was that the Common Core was going to be sort of a race to the middle,” said Cheri Kiesecker, describing the issue that mobilized her and other Fort Collins parents.

Those worries turned into a draft bill to put the brakes on implementation for one year pending a review by an independent panel that would assess the standards, hold public hearings and do a cost-benefit analysis. Sen. Vicki Marble, a Fort Collins Republican, agreed to carry it.

But while those protesting the Common Core stress that they’re pushing a nonpartisan issue, they say they have found zero Democratic support and suspect that without it, the bill would go nowhere. Marble, the only listed sponsor so far, was not available for comment Monday. She planned a Tuesday press conference to talk about the issue.

Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, has met with some of the concerned groups and said he thinks there’s “a lot of misunderstanding” about the standards and that “different sets of concerns somehow were cobbled together under the flag of Common Core.”

“We’ve had standards in Colorado before that balance local autonomy over curriculum to a state goal of what kids should know,” he said. “The same is true of Common Core, only we’re able to share best resources and practices across states.”

Colorado adopted the Common Core for math and language arts in 2010 as part of an integration with revised state standards in other areas that already had been in the works. Proponents say the standards are more rigorous and require higher-level thinking.

The integrated standards were approved
Read more: Backlash against Common Core education standards surfaces in Colorado – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25004965/backlash-against-common-core-education-standards-surfaces-colorado#ixzz2rhP8iX7l  Kevin Simpson

Denver Deal: Free Days, Liftopia, Yogurtland and More

Town has been adorned with orange and blue! And if you are like me, you are trying to figure out if you are having the Superbowl party at your house or if you will be going somewhere else. And then panic sets in. I don’t know what to make or what to bring to a party! YIKES. They want me to bring something? I am up for any suggestions, Pinterest ideas or more. I am thinking of taking my new Soda Stream soda maker to a party so everyone will get their own flavor of pop – maybe we can create our own Superbowl Soda!

Pre-Broncos Game Fun

Is anything more annoying that waiting? UGH! There are loads of things you can do before the BIG game this Sunday! There are free days at The Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo and Colorado History Center, Southwest Airlines Rink at Skyline Park is free (skate rental is $2), or go check out a movie at Regal Cinemas for just $5. Or go skiing with great deals from Liftopia.

FREE DAYS

  • Friday, January 30 – Molly Brown House Museum
  • Saturday, February 1 – Denver Art Museum
  • Sunday, February 2 – Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo and Colorado History Center (if you wear Blue & Orange)
  • Monday, February 3 – Denver Zoo
  • Tuesday, February 4 – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Del Taco Talks Turkey

Del Taco has introduced their Turkey Tacos and tostada. First, a disclaimer, I am an adventurous eater – and will try anything but my daughter will only try new things because I force her (we live by a you must try it three times to say you don’t like it rule). When I learned about turkey being an option I was really excited. I like ground turkey and I like the idea of other protein options (especially healthier ones).  The turkey was delicious (we also bought a beef one to compare) – and had more meat than the beef taco. It was spiced just right. I really couldn’t tell a giant different – taste-wise in the turkey. And my daughter? She liked it and traded her beef taco for my turkey one!
 
Yogurtland FREE Yogurt + Toppings
 
Yogurtland will celebrate its third annual National Frozen Yogurt Day on Monday, February 3, 2014 by offering guests free yogurt and toppings from 4 – 7 p.m. at all participating locations. For National Frozen Yogurt Day, Yogurtland guests will receive a special collectible spoon that changes colors when it becomes cold, and a commemorative cup to fill with their choice of yogurt flavors and toppings. 

Liftopia Sale

Liftopia is launching its biggest sale of the year, with prices starting as low as $19.99 – which is as much as a 56% discount on walk-up rates. Deals are available nationwide but those in Colorado include:  Save 51% at Loveland with 1-day lift tickets starting at $29.99; Enjoy 42% savings on 1-day lift tickets at Arapahoe Basin with prices starting at $48; Discover Crested Butte with a 41% savings on 1-day lift tickets starting at $58; At Copper Mountain save 39% on 1-day lift tickets starting at $72; and Experience Winter Park with 1-day lift tickets tickets starting at $70 (36% savings)

Burger King Free Coffee

Get a free coffee at Burger King with any breakfast sandwich purchase.

 IHOP All You Can Eat Pancakes

IHOP is bringing back their All You Can Eat promotion. Through February 9 treat yourself to classic Buttermilk pancakes — as many of them as you can eat. Order them as part of a combo or just as a stack of pancakes. Either way, if you’re still hungry, they’ll bring you more!

Snowsports Industry Association –

I will be attending the SIA Tradeshow at the Denver Convention Center this next weekend. While this event is not open to the public, I am super excited to tell you about all the great things that I find when I’m there. Last year, I discovered the UClear communication device (where you can intercom up to 10 connected skiers), amazing socks that keep our toes warm while skiing (yes, you should plan to invest in great socks), the jacket I wear all the time from Hot Chilly’s, and cool snowboards from Burton (which had Disney Characters on them)!!! Plus, our own Amber Johnson will be sitting on a panel there called Snownamas (she’s everywhere!)  Is there something you want me to look for when I’m there?

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

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If you’re a twit follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Colorado Travel: Breckenridge’s Best Winter Activities for Families and My Adventure of a Lifetime!

My husband and I dream of owning a cabin someday and Breckenridge has long been at the top of our list.  Only a 1.5-hour drive from Denver (I-70 traffic snares notwithstanding) this authentic mining town has everything I love: a world-class ski resort, the Blue River (a tributary of the raging Colorado River), an idyllic Main Street, gourmet dining, glittering boutiques, endless hiking possibilities and it is part of an 80-mile network of paved, motorized bike paths that connect other Summit County resorts like Dillon, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Vail.

We have spent long, languid summer and fall days in Breck but here’s my confession: we have never been there once the snow flies. And if you love winter like I do, you know that Breckenridge is one of Colorado’s best family vacations.

When you have young kids, no vacation is perfect but we were fortunate to have a nearly perfect trip with huge winds (the downside), huge snow totals (the upside) and knocking off an activity has been on my bucket list since I was born. Maybe I started dreaming about it in the womb because this trip was what dreams are made of.

If you’re looking for a fantastic getaway in Colorado’s mountains, these are my top recommended activities.

family travel ColoradoIce Castles

Only in Breck for the 2013/14 season, the giant 1-acre Ice Castles are a cut right out of Disney’s musical fantasy Frozen where you’ll swear you’ve been swept away in an eternal winter with magic at every turn. Each ice castle takes thousands of man-hours to make. More than 5,000 icicles are “grown” each day to be harvested and sculpted together. Newly placed icicles are then regularly drenched in freezing water. By day the Ice Castles are beautiful with glacial tones of blue. By night they stun with a kaleidoscope of lights that are actually frozen inside of the ice.

My kids’ favorite part was a tunnel that cut through a wall of ice. They convinced me to slither through it with them and after a slow downhill slide, we were ejected onto the snowy floor. Think: Winnie the Pooh. But even though my landing wasn’t pretty, the rest of it sure was. General Admission, age 12 and up:  $10. Children 4 to 11: $8. Young Children under 4 years old:  Free.  We’re giving away four family four-packs of tickets so be sure to enter here.

skiBreckenridgeBreckenridge Ski Resort

I can’t talk about Breckenridge without mentioning the mountain that makes the town. I’d obviously never skied it and initially the 2,908-acre resort overwhelmed. But I’m a quick learner and getting schooled on this mountain is my kind of education. After dropping our kids off at ski school, my husband and I did the “freedom” shout. For the first hour, the wind was unrelenting but with 45 inches of snow in the last seven days we took a course in Sucking It Up and it paid off. We hunkered down and sought refuge by skiing under the cossetted C Chair and when the winds died down a bit, we had the best powder day we’ve had in a year. We particularly loved skiing Peak 6, Breck’s new 543-acre addition that features high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing (a true rarity).

At the end of an exhausting day, we picked the kids up and were later able to track their progress via EpicMix’s newest feature, EpicMix Academy. Though the wind kept us from the Golden Runner Alpine Coaster and spending much time on Peak 6, the kids are already begging to take us back to their favorite haunts that included Trygve’s small terrain park with moderate jumps and boxes. There’s no parking at the base of Peak 8 but a free shuttle runs throughout town and delivered us right in front of Pine Ridge Condos where we proceeded to soak in the hot tub and then burrow up to a fire and a movie while a storm raged outside. That, my friends, is what a ski vacation is all about.

 Shop, Eat, Play, Repeat.

“I wish Denver had places like this,” sighed my daughter Hadley. “Like what?” I countered. “Like this,” she said pointing to Main Street’s charming Historic District dotted with boutiques, eateries and galleries. Even at 9 years old, she gets what makes a great shopping district and Breckenridge has it all. My kids are huge fans of the unique Peak a Boo Toys (and the big indoor play area is a bonus on cold days). The town’s Arts District continues to expand and Ready Paint Fire offers a nice respite where you can paint functional pottery like holiday platters to commemorate your trip. Indulge at Mary’s Mountain Cookies and if you stop at the Welcome Center head upstairs for some cool old ski exhibits and a great view of the slopes. If you want a parent’s night out, check-out the Mountain Top Children’s Museum or the 69,000-square-foot Breckenridge Recreation Center which also has indoor tennis courts, lap and leisure pools, a water slide, a racquetball court, basketball courts, indoor rock-climbing wall and more.
crepesalacarte

Our favorite tradition is grabbing crepes from Crepes a la Carte , a longtime fixture on Main Street. Choices range from breakfast to savory to sweet to ice cream crepes and our favorites are the German Apple Strudel or Cheesecake Crepes. All crepes are made-to-order, which is a nice way of saying they are fresh, delicious and take a while so be sure to hunker down by the fire pit in the outdoor seating area. During our half-hour wait, my daughter and I discovered our new favorite shop across the street, Magical Scraps Boutique and Studio. It’s Etsy comes to life with disarmingly darling crafts, fabrics and whimsical accessories like handmade belts, hats, scarves and jewelry.  We could have (and would have) spent a fortune had my husband not plucked us out of our chick reverie to inform us our crepes were ready. But Magical Scaps, we will be back to feel more magic.

Dog Sledding

dogsledwonderlandLast but certainly not least is Dog Sledding. The sport has recently received a bad wrap from the controversial practices of its Aspen counterpart but I was thrilled to Good Times Adventures runs the highest quality of practices as the only snowmobile and dog sledding tour operator in Summit County. Trip Adviser ranks it the No. 1 activity in Breckenridge and you’d better believe it was that good.

Dog sledding has been on my bucket list for years (read: borderline obsession) so I was like a kid in a very whitewashed candy store when we booked our outing. We opted to keep it a secret from our children and they were both ecstatic when we pulled up to the lodge, particularly my dog-loving daughter who repeatedly raved, “I never thought we’d get to do something like this in a hundred years!” It was the adventure of a lifetime,which begs the question: what more do I have to live for?

After signing our waivers and getting outfitted in our snow suits and boots, we met our guide Wes and team of Siberian Huskies. With a dog yard that is home to 140 dogs (with five litters to be delivered around Valentine’s Day), this huge operation allows dogs adequate recovery time as they are rotated in and out of their runs.  We quickly learned their names and personalities. Rocky and Bullwinkle were our lead dogs, next in line were the “swing dogs” Gimly (who had a crush on Hadley) and Red had a squirrel-chasing fetish. Blizzard was grumpy but when paired with Savage he performed like a champ and the “wheel dogs” (in the back) were Scarlet and Maverick who, at 9 years old, is in his last year of sledding and trunky for retirement.dogpet

Wes explained that the dogs are attached to the sled with a series of lines called rigging that includes the tow line (or gang line), tug lines and neck lines. Each sled had a basket where gear or a passenger was carried and were outfitted with a braking device. I volunteered to drive first (this was, after all, my dream) with Hadley in the basket. Wes, Jamie and Bode rode ahead of us in a snowmobile-pulled sleigh.

Before I knew it, the dogs enthusiastically surged forward upon command and I effortlessly balanced on the back tracks of the sled as we raced past old rough-and-tumble mining camps on the 50 acres that bordered a National Forest wonderland. “I’m mushing!!!” I squealed. It started lightly snowing as we soared across the endless snowfields and I was certain we’d been plunked right into an idyllic snow globe in the aptly named Swan River Valley.

Good Times offers various levels of dog sledding and we chose the tamer “Disney” experience. I had no expectations going in but was thrilled when Wes announced the kids would get to drive the team during our slow and steady uphill climbs (many dog sledding operators only let their clients sit in the basket). They were in their element; rosy-cheeked, their “MUSH” commands echoing through the trees as the pitter-patter of husky paws on snow distilled Colorado’s wilderness to its purest incarnation.

After my son’s turn, he moved to the basket while I drove him for the first time. Notoriously cautious when faced with new challenges, he lectured me, “Now, Mom.  Lean into your turns and remember…have a good time!”

With Good Times Adventures, it’s tough to do otherwise.

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For more information on visiting Breckenridge this winter, be sure to check-out GoBreck.com. A special thanks to them for hosting this visit; we’re already planning our return.