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Funny Pregnancy Cravings: The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly

In pregnancy, there are two kinds of cravings: the ones you’re willing to indulge, either because they’re healthy or because you’re hormonal and the only thing that will keep you from crying is half a cheesecake. Then there are the unhealthy ones that you try your best to suppress. Sometimes suppressing them feels like you’re wrestling a pack of wild badgers while blindfolded and balancing on a spinning log on Class IV rapids, but you still try.

For me, jalapenos fall into category number one. I am obsessed. Getting a turkey sandwich (pressed on the Panini maker until steaming, of course)? Slice me up a few jalapenos. Ordering a salad? More peppers, please. A turkey burger? My fabulous husband knows to throw a few jalapenos on the grill. Perhaps jalapenos aren’t in the same healthy category as apples or yogurt, but at least I’m not eating a Peanut Buster Parfait every day. I figure a little spice is good for the fetus. It keeps him or her on his little budding toes, and, with any luck, gets the kid ready to love going out for Mexican food.

Have you been to Mad Greens? I’m just a little obsessed. Even before pregnancy, I hit them up once a week. Now, it’s not uncommon for me to visit four days in a row. My current love is a Mad Greens salad, almost any one of them will do, with two scoops of jalapenos. Doesn’t matter if it’s a salad with apples or one with mozzarella, I still want those jalapenos. The people who work behind the counter at Mad Greens know me, and I imagine they’ve started calling me Pepper Girl behind my back. (Note to Mad Greens management: if you’re looking for a spokesperson, I’m your girl. All I need are a few free salads a week, and I’ll keep on talking you up. Just don’t be stingy

Picky Eaters? This Recipe for TaterTot Casserole is Sure To Impress Any Kid! The Ultimate Kid-Approved Meal!

Being a cook at a daycare has taught me two things:

1.  even the pickiest eaters LOVE tater tots, and
2.  kids like anything in a casserole.   Thus… TaterTot Casserole. What I love about this recipe is that it is easy to hide vegetables inside without your kids even knowing that they are in there!  Bonus.  What’s the benefit for mom?  Easy clean up.  I used one pan, one bowl, one spoon and one casserole dish.  


Gather all of your ingredients.  I think that this is the most important step in making dinner - having everything out and ready to go! Not Shown:  cream cheese

Gather all of your ingredients. I think that this is the most important step in making dinner – having everything out and ready to go!
Not Shown: cream cheese

Brown ground beef and season well with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Brown ground beef and season well with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Mix in cream cheese, sour cream and cream of mushroom soup.  Stir until it is all combined and looks a grayish cream color.

Mix in cream cheese, sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Stir until it is all combined and looks a grayish cream color.

Put the meat in the bottom of a casserole dish, and place your tots around the casserole dish.

Put the meat in the bottom of a casserole dish, and place your tots around the casserole dish.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Give it a little shake to let the cheese get in between the tots.  Yummy cheesy potatoy goodness!

Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Give it a little shake to let the cheese get in between the tots. Yummy cheesy potatoy goodness!

This is what it looks like from the side.  Stick this baby in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

This is what it looks like from the side. Stick this baby in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

After 35 minutes it is crunchy and cheesy and oozing with deliciousness!

After 35 minutes it is crunchy and cheesy and oozing with deliciousness!

Enjoy your hard work and watch your kids gobble this up and probably even ask for seconds ;)

Enjoy your hard work and watch your kids gobble this up and probably even ask for seconds 😉


[yumprint-recipe id=’12’] 

Love it and want some more kid friendly recipes?  Check out my list of the Ultimate Kid Approved Meals!

Preoccupation Pottyitis and an Accidental Foray Over to The Dark Side

We all pray for the day – the day when our little angels can use the potty all by themselves. We all expect it to happen in one day just like Dr. Phil said it would if we followed his potty party in a day philosophy. Well, I can tell you folks, it ain’t always that simple. For us, the day was more like two months but once she got it, she got it. No more pull-ups, no night-time accidents and hallelujah, no more diaper bag. Well, hold on there, almost.

We still deal with what I am terming “preoccupation pottyitis.” P-squared for short. This is a self-inflicted illness that commonly occurs in toddlers and small children in which playtime or some other mind-inhibiting activity causes the child to wait until the very last second to rush to the potty in hopes that he or she will make it. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. It typically occurs following an hour of an adult asking the child every 30 seconds if she or he needs to use the potty.

Preoccupation pottyitis struck us last week. We were in the mall play area and my daughter looks up with that panicked look mouthing the words, “I’ve got to go potty.” You would have thought that Nieman Marcus was giving away free Chanel bags if you had seen me grab her hand and tear through the mall at speeds unheard of in the posh Cherry Creek Mall. We rounded the corner where the sign points to the restroom and the big W comes into view. I crash through the door without a glance in either direction with my eyes like laser pointers to the first stall door I could find.

Morning routine chaos: How can I end the madness?

Dear Mama Drama:

(photo credit)

I am having a hard time getting my four-year-old to preschool on time. I usually ask him to get ready while I hop in the shower. When I get out, he hasn’t done anything. I get so frustrated because we are then rushing around and end up being late.

Please help us with this madness!

~Delayed Mama

Dear Delayed:

Getting out of the door on time in the morning is a challenge for many families. It is important to consider your child’s age and skill level when determining how independently he can complete the tasks you are asking of him. It sounds like your son, like most four-year-olds, will need more adult support to get through the morning routine.

When things are not working it is time to develop a new plan.

One idea would be to bring the items he needs to use into the bathroom where you are showering. He can get dressed, wash his face, and brush his teeth and hair while you shower. Having him in the room with you allows you to peek out periodically to give him support and encouragement. Have some books in a basket that he can look at as a reward when he’s done.

Another idea is to change your routine. Get up fifteen minutes earlier to take your shower and then you can work together to get dressed and ready to leave.

Provide visual supports. This previous Mama Drama column on Morning Routines explains how and why to use visuals as you move your son toward greater independence.  It also addresses the issue of awareness of time, or lack thereof, and strategies to help your child develop this.

Avoid distractions like television, videos, radios, toys, and computers that pull your child’s attention away from the task at hand. Use these as a carrot to encourage him to complete his tasks. Set a goal of being ready ten minutes before you need to leave and he can then choose a preferred activity for those few minutes. This also gives you time to slow down, have a cup of coffee or tea, and finish any last minute tasks.

It is always critical to remember that if things aren’t working, we need to change something…and it isn’t our children, it is ourselves. Provide the supports he needs and mornings will be smoother for everyone.

What tricks help your mornings run smoothly?

Lisa Vratny-Smith

Running Mama: Finding Comfort in my Shoebox

When I was pregnant with my first, I swore I’d be one of those women who wouldn’t let her running fall by the wayside.  Sure, I’d take six weeks off, but then I’d throw those running shoes back on.  I’d read about women like that.  It was just a matter of determination…

…then the baby arrived…

I’d been put into a shoebox, flipped over and spun around.  Every single thing I had done previously seemed impossible now.  It took me 45 minutes to prepare to meet a friend three blocks away. I couldn’t figure out how to make food and actually eat it. I braced myself for toe curling pain every time my tiny insatiable being dared need nourishment.

When I was “cleared for physical activity” I gave it a go, desperate to climb out of my box.  After struggling to find something I could actually wear running, I strapped on my shoes. My husband strapped the baby into the carrier and we headed out together.  I ran a bit and let them catch up…it was awful.  Legs like planks of wood held together by rusty hinges, torso a jelly-filled balloon, I felt sure my body would never remember.

Then I went back to work and regularly got home at 1 a.m..  First feeding: 3 a.m., up for the day: 5:30 a.m..  I struggled to stay awake on the subway home.  Once I was trying to stay awake by texting and was awoken by the sound of my phone falling to the floor.

I hated myself for not following through with my commitment to running.  I had to admit though, sleeping was just as vital to my health.  So I ran when I could and slogged through my days, frizzy-haired and loopy.

The six years that followed have been a roller coaster but I’ve been able to keep running in my life.  When we first moved to Colorado my daughter would beg me not to leave whenever I left for a run.  Sometimes I didn’t feel like dealing with the guilt trip and stayed.  Then I got pregnant again.  Maybe it was because I didn’t have the crazy work schedule anymore, or because I had done the kid thing already but whatever the reason, I got out there faster the second time.

I still have a hard time finding the joy in running sometimes but I ran a marathon this past fall.  I still live in my box, but don’t keep the top on anymore.  I’ve become attached to it, and am learning to step out and have some fun with my time.  As my kids get older, I realize I don’t need to pressure myself to step out.  It’ll happen.

You know, maybe I’m already there.  When I leave for runs now, my daughter asks, “How many miles are you running today, Mama?” She draws pictures of me running and gives them to me when I get back.  I don’t think that kind of thing happens when you’re stuffed in a shoebox.

Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and two children (3 and 6) while her husband attends grad school.  Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway.  She now works from home and manages to find time between diaper changes to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (, a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children.

When “The 10 Plagues” is the Theme of Your Birthday Party (Think: Lice)

This year, I’m having a humdinger of a birthday: I am celebrating it on Maui (be sure to follow my Instagram feed and stay tuned for the details of our whirlwind family vacation).

I’ve had some great birthdays. In years past, I:

* Was on my honeymoon in Costa Rica.
* Had the time of my life on a cruise to Belize and Honduras.
* Attended the quarter-finals for hockey at the Olympics.
* Received a new car.

Now, lest you think my birthday has been all about extravagance let me assure you it has often coincidentally fallen during such occasions.

There was a respectable amount of fanfare surrounding my birthday five years ago. Lunch with a friend. Dinner with family. A night out with my husband Jamie while the kids slept over at Grandma’s. A couple’s massage the next morning.

What I planned was very different from what I got: LICE.

Jamie and I were sitting on the couch a few hours before the festivities were to begin when he discovered a wretched little black bug in my hair, then another. He rushed to the store, consulted with the pharmacist and the rest of the day was not filled with celebrations but with disinfection and exorcisms.

We were delighted to discover

My mom fail and how velcro dependency is a national crisis

It’s with deep shame I admit a few years ago I was failing as a mother:

My 8 and 6-year-old sons were just learning how to tie shoes. They hadn’t been given the opportunity to learn this life skill.

We went shoe shopping. They immediately gravitated toward the usual vinyl superheroes splayed on the sides. Superheroes on shoes means faster running, higher jumping, and greater kindergarten cred. I understand this and respect how important it is to my boys to have their feet encased in Spidey and growling men with big jaws.

As I considered their choices, I found myself becoming dismayed at the design of the shoes. Velcro, again? It’s fast, it’s easy. Kids can put their shoes on with no parental hunching. But is it too easy?

Denver Deal: Redbox, Free Days and Mr. Peabody Movie

Last week, MileHighMamas were invited to the Soybu Grand Opening in Greenwood Village. While I enjoyed seeing all the other ladies and of course shopping for a totally cute outfit (or two) that night, another thing I was looking forward to was sneaking into the Trader Joe’s in the same parking lot. I was surprised when I went into their store and saw that it was a bit like the apocalypse was going happen. The shelves were bare and I couldn’t really understand what all the hoopla was about. I have fallen in love with some amazingly different foods sent to me by Frieda’s Produce (things like sunchokes, purple brussel sprouts and the purple sweet potatoes) I guess I was sort of hoping that some of these items would be in that store – but they were not. So back to my weekly quest for awesomely great foods at Sunflower Market and King Soopers! Looking forward to the spring food fun!
Free Days
  • Saturday, March 1 – Denver Art Museum and Colorado Railroad Museum
  • Sunday, March 2 – Museum of Nature & Science
  • Monday, March 3 – Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Tuesday, March 4 – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield & Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m . to 8 p.m.)
Children’s Consignment Sales
Thousands of shoppers find bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more…all at 50-90% below retail. This week is the Supertwins of the Rocky Mountains (STORM) sale on Saturday at 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Manning School in Golden.  Go here for the full round-up:
 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie
Do you want to see MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN before it hits theaters? Well click on the link for your chance to download a screening pass for you and your family to check out an advance screening on Tuesday, March 4th in Denver! Seats in the theater are first-come, first-serve so PLEASE ARRIVE EARLY! MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN hits theaters March 7th!
Walmart to Go
Most of the time I write about saving money or FREE events – but I have recently found something that saves me TIME – and probably some money too as my kids are not bugging me to buy things I didn’t plan to purchase) with the WalMart To Go. Now you can order fresh groceries and every day essentials online and have them delivered to your door in temperature-controlled trucks. Or, pick  them up for FREE at the store and have them loaded into the car. Plus, there is no add on fees – the prices are as they are in the store!
Smashburger & Winter Park
When you purchase an entree and beverage at Smashburger you can also pick up your two for one coupon for lift tickets at Winter Park!
Text DAYS to 727272 daily through March 3 – to receive a “surprise” (so far it has been a daily discount code for me).
Colorado Mammoth
Buy One Colorado Mammoth Ticket (v. Rochester) for March 1 – Get One Free.


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.

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

Mile High Mamas’ Popular Denver Spring Consignment Sale Schedule 2014

It’s finally here! Twice a year, Mile High Mamas does a round-up detailing Colorado’s popular children’s consignment sales. Thousands of shoppers find bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more…all at 50-90% below retail.

And for the seventh season in a row, Tracey Gifford–a mom of two boys and owner of the  Just Between Friends sale in Denver–has compiled this year’s schedule. As a word of thanks, I’d like to offer a little shout-out to Tracey’s sale March 20-23, 2014, which is the largest kids’ gear and clothing resale event in Metro Denver. Mention Mile High Mamas and get in FREE!

Be sure to also check out the following fabulous sales:

*March 1
Supertwins of the Rocky Mountains (STORM)
Saturday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Where: The Manning School, Golden

*March 8
Mothers of Multiples Society Sale
Saturday 9 a.m.-2 p.m., $1 admission
Where: Douglas County Events Center

*March 14-16
Just Between Friends of Aurora
Friday 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. $2 admission; Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $2 admission
Sunday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (Half-price sale)
Where: Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, Aurora

*March 16-17
Your Kids Closet sy The Wildlife Experience
Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (half-price select tagged items)
Your $1 admission (ages 3 and up) includes free admission to the museum.

*March 18-22
Rhea Lana-Southeast Denver
Tuesday-Wednesday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Thursday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.-8 p,m. Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (half-price sale)
Where: Smokey Hill Town Center, Centennial

justbetweenfriends*March 20-23
Just Between Friends of Denver
Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (25% off sale)
Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (Half-price sale)
$4 admission Thursday, $2 admission Friday, free weekend admission; Parking is FREE for all shoppers
Where: National Western Complex, Denver

*April 5
Darling Doubles
8 a.m.-12 p.m.; 12 p.m.-1 p.m. (half-price sale)
$2 admission
Where: Adams County Fairgrounds, Brighton

*April 5
MOPS Annual Sale
Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m., $2 admission; 12:30-2 p.m. (half-price sale)
Where: Cherry Hills Community Church, Highlands Ranch

*April 9-13
Just Between Friends of Arvada
Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (half-price sale)
$2 admission
Where: Flatiron Crossing, Broomfield

*April 10-13
Just Between Friends of Douglas County
Thursday-Friday 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (Half-price sale),
$2 admission all days
Where: Douglas County Fairgrounds, Castle Rock

*April 25-26
Haute Tots
Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. ; Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (half-price sale) $1 admission
Where: Arvada United Methodist Church, Arvada

*May 1-3
St. Phillip Early Learning Center
Thursday 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
$1 admission all days
Where: St. Philip Lutheran Church, Littleton

*May 2-3
New to You
Times: Friday 8a-4p; Saturday 8a-12p ( half price sale)
$2 admission
Where: Christ Lutheran Church, Highlands Ranch

*May 7-12
Just Between Friends of Longmont
Times: Wed-Sat 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Monday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (half-price sale)
Where: Boulder County Fairgrounds, Longmont

*May 29-June 1
Just Between Friends of Broomfield/Brighton
Thursday11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., $2 admission; Friday 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.;
Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. $2 admission; Sunday 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (half-price sale)
$2 admission
Where: Adams County Fairgrounds, Brighton

Have we missed your favorite sale? Be sure to leave the information in the comments below.

Colorado Summer Camp 101: Our Top Picks As Seen on 9News!

I appeared on 9News talking about one of my favorite topics: summer camp! (Watch the segment here). With so many different choices, how do parents and kids decide what they should do?

What Camp Should I Choose?

There are literally hundreds of choices for camps for kids in Colorado, whether you choose a day camp or overnight.  Our day camps are divided alphabetically due to the sheer number of listings. Be sure to browse through all the options and remember not to delay. Many camps fill quickly and believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. Let  the countdown (and fun!) begin.

4 Things Every Parent Should Know When Choosing the Right Summer Camp

 I sat down with Avid4Adventure’s owner David Secunda who believes kids really learn about themselves and the world around them when engaged in outdoor activities that encourage learning, self-esteem and build friendships. Don’t miss his sage advice in this interview about finding the right summer camp, including the importance of being accredited through the American Camp Association, counselor-to-child ratios, how the camp handles special situations and much more.

Our Picks for Summer Camp

Over the next few months, Mile High Mamas will be featuring Colorado’s summer camps. Here are a few that we’ll be focusing on to whet your whistle:

mizelmuseumMizel Museum (day camp)

So, why on earth would we recommend a small museum that is rooted in Jewish values that have universal relevance? Because this gem tucked away in a residential area in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood offers more than just an art camp. The Mizel Museum’s Creative Journeys summer day camps in southeast Denver engage kids of all backgrounds and interests in meaningful learning through the arts. Led by innovative and nationally-acclaimed teaching artists, photographers and even NASA consultants, kids explore the world around them, engage in critical thinking and participate in exciting hands-on and imaginative activities that cover science, comedy, technology, creativity and animals.  Be sure to check-out their four-room museum where kiddos will love their interactive road map as they journey along the 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks. They’ll learn about art, artifacts and digital media that narrates and illuminates Jewish history and culture.

engineeringEngineering for Kids (day camp)

I come from a family of engineers and already, my math- and science-loving 7-year-old son is showing an aptitude for all-things engineering. That’s why this new after-school learning center Engineering for Kids would be like a dream come true. Started by a Denver mom who recently left the corporate world and her Aerospace Engineer husband, this company offers STEM-based enrichment workshops to kids around the U.S .and after-school experiences to Denver kids ages 4 – 14. The best news of all? They’re branching into the summer camp business where they are offering programs in Aerospace, Mechanical, Computer Game Design, and Robotics – all aimed at engaging kids to develop a love for STEM education.

campmapCamp Chief Ouray (overnight camp)

Last summer, I knew my 9-year-old daughter was ready for overnight camp but was I? Sending your child comes down to two things: 1) How well you think they’ll adapt to the separation in a new setting and 2) How confident you are in the camp to take care of your child in a fun, safe and engaging environment. We found our perfect match at YMCA of the Rockies’ Camp Chief Ouray outside of Granby, Colo. As Colorado’s longest-running camp, CCO has been an adventurous playground and traditional overnight camp for kids ages 7-17 for over a century. Located on 5,100 acres of mountains, valleys, streams and meadows, my daughter not only survived but thrived and cannot wait to go back for another summer of kitchen-raiding, campfire-snuggling, star-gazing and BFF-making great times. Tip: many of the sessions are already filling up so don’t delay!

The only thing that is left is figuring out how to spend your week as your kids have the time of their lives.