background img

A (Funny) Lesson on Attachment-detachment Parenting

My kids and I are having a fabulous summer. If we’re not swimming, we’re hiking, playing with friends or traveling. I fully realize these years are fleeting and I’m making the most of my time with them.

The only snafu is this thing called work I’m supposed to be doing. And by the end of the summer, you’d better believe I’ll be in dire need of some alone time to finally be productive. As much as I enjoy having my kids around 24-7, school is a much-needed respite for all of us.

I realize not everyone shares my opinion. Several years ago when my daughter was about to enter preschool, our community had a big ol’ garage sale. My husband Jamie and I stopped at a house a few blocks away and struck up a casual conversation with the home owners. It took only a few seconds for me to realize I was talking to The Urban Legend of our neighborhood. Err…or I guess that would be Suburban Legend.

Rumors have circulated for a few years that this woman sent her child off to college and decided whilst in her 40s to start from scratch and get pregnant…20 years after the first. And she was rewarded with not one but twin girls my daughter’s exact same age.

Well, I was ecstatic to meet The Legend! We immediately hit it off and talked of future playdates. My husband Jamie asked if she was sending them to our local elementary school and she responded affirmatively. I then asked if they were going to preschool.

“Yes, they’re going to ________.”

“Oh great! That is where my daughter is going in the fall!”

“Well, admittedly I am pretty reluctant to send them. I just don’t think I can bear to be without them. You know what I’m talking about?”

I thought of my “How Many Days Until Hadley is in Preschool Countdown Chart.”

DIY: How to build an indoor teepee your kids will love

A few months ago I decided to make a teepee for my daughter Maya. They are all so popular and seem like a necessary decor in any nursery so I thought I’d give it a try. I got all I needed to build the teepee tent but it took me several months to actually do it and complete this DIY project. I tried to find good tutorials online and while they all gave me inspirations none of the ones I found gave me clear instructions on how to build a teepee.

So, it all was trial and error and now I am really pleased with the result. I wish I took pictures of all the steps I went through to complete the teepee but my steps were actually so chaotic that I never even thought of using my camera during the building process. Regardless, I want to share my thoughts and experience in case someone out there is also trying to build a teepee for their kids. I hope to be able to recreate what I did and hopefully be of good help.

I have to say it is a great play area for kids. The height of the finished teepee is about 1.2 metres (4′) so it could be used for quite some time. It cost me no more than $15 to make so I’d say is totally worth it.

Materials Needed:

Five 4′ long wooden dowels for the teepee poles, I used the 1.2” thick ones

Steel wire, 0.33mm thick

A spare white sheet or any sort of fabric you wish to use for the tent cover

thread and needle

A pair of Fiskars scissors

Directions

I asked the hardware store to drill small holes at one end of each dowel. Then I gathered them all at this end and thread the wire through the holes to secure them together.

This is pretty much self-explanatory but you need the teepee poles gathered at one point to form the tent roof while at the other end you have to part them as wide as possible. In this way you form the skeleton of the teepee.

Once you thread all the holes with wire, tighten the wire around at least 5 more times to secure it even more. I used another piece of wire for a tighter fit.teepeeframe

Then the fun part begins. It was hard for me to figure out how to cover the teepee. I started by cutting triangle shapes to fit into each space between the teepee poles. It didn’t work and was too much of an effort. I pondered for some time until I decided to just wrap the sheet around the poles. No cuts, no fitting and it  worked–the teepee started to look like an actual teepee! I made a few stitches at the bottom around each pole to secure the sheet in place. Then I wrapped a tassel garland at the top of the teepee and it suddenly looked great.

teepee(See my post on how to make yarn tassels). I placed a cotton blanket underneath and furnished the teepee with the hand knit pillows I wrote about a while ago.

And here it is a very pretty and cosy teepee indeed, one of the most popular play areas in our tiny flat.

Quick tip: this teepee is not very easy to move around, so build it where you plan it to stay and put a blanket underneath it, (if you want of course) before you build it so it is there when the teepee is ready.

I hope you’ll enjoy making this project and your thoughts are greatly welcome!

Guest blogger Stela currently lives in Denver with her husband and their daughter Maya. She works in digital marketing and SEO and writes her blog Prettily, where she talks about all sorts of ladies’ stuff like crafts, fashion, beauty, cooking to name a few, as well as her life as a mum.

Red, White & Blue Recipe Roundup – 10 Festive Recipes for the 4th of July

As I was thinking of some great recipes to share with you, my mind starting wandering and I was thinking – what do I do every 4th of July?  I grill!  

So, I went to the store, and bought all sorts of things; corn, chicken, steak, fruit, vegetables, tortillas… you name it!  

Colorado’s July 4th Celebrations!

It’s time once again to celebrate the United States of America. Cities and towns across the Front Range have full slates prepped for the day and night, which conveniently falls on a Friday this year. From live music to bounce houses to pie contests and, of course, fireworks, whatever your favorite Independence Day activity is, it’s happening somewhere.

Arvada’s Independence Day Celebration

July 4: Activities begin at 4 p.m. with a Kid’s Play Zone, inflatables, games, booths, human “hamster” balls, a military vehicle display, live music and more. New this year is an area dedicated to those with special needs. Fireworks begin at dusk. Lutz/Stenger Sports Complex, entrance at 58th Avenue and Oak Street, 720-898-7000, arvada.org

Aurora’s Fourth of July Spectacular

July 4: The Golden Eagle Concert Band performs at 6 p.m. with fireworks following at 9:30 p.m. with choreographed music on Studio 1430 KEZW. Food vendors will be in attendance. Limited seating is available on the Aurora Municipal Center lawn. Additional recommended viewing locations include east of Potomac Street, south of Sixth Avenue, north of Mississippi Avenue and west of Buckley Road. Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, auroragov.org

Black Hawk Boomtown

July 4: The Boom Town Band performs 4-8 p.m. in Stroehle Square, Black Hawk and Main streets. Fireworks are launched from two locations around 9 p.m. cityofblackhawk.org

Brighton’s Fourth of July

July 4: Children’s activities, entertainment, food vendors and live music with DJ Tidalwave, the Chris Romero Duo and the Swerve Band. Activities begin at 4 p.m. Fireworks at dusk. Carmichael Park, 650 E. Southern St., 303-655-2176, brightonco.gov

Broomfield’s Great American Picnic

July 4: Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with inflatables, pony rides, a petting zoo, food vendors and live music by Face and Syndicate on stage at 7 p.m. The eighth annual Bike Parade for all ages begins at 5:45. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Broomfield County Commons Park on Sheridan Boulevard, 303-469-3301, broomfield.org

Castle Rock’s Rockin’ the Fourth

July 4: The Red, White & Boom! fireworks show begins at 9:45 p.m. Metzler Ranch Community Park, 4175 Trail Boss Road, 720-733-2284, crgov.com

Colorado Springs Philharmonic

July 4: Free “Summer Symphony” concert with food, refreshments and children’s activities with a bounce house, giant slide, obstacle course and more. Activities begin at 5:30 p.m., the Philharmonic performs at 7:30 p.m. followed by the fireworks at dusk. Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., csphilharmonic.org

Coors Field

July 3-4: Fireworks follow Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, games at 6:10 p.m. coloradorockies.com

Denver’s Independence Eve at Civic Center Park

July 3: The Civic Center Conservancy presents live music by the a cappella group MIX, the Hazel Miller Band and the Denver Municipal Band at 8 p.m. KCNC-Channel 4’s Jim Benemann serves as emcee. A light show and fireworks finale is included. Lawn seating is available. Blankets and low-rise chairs recommended. Food trucks will be on site, and picnics are welcome. Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway, civiccenterconservancy.org. New this year is an Independence Eve Balcony Party 7-10 p.m. on the deck of The Denver Post Building, 101 W. Colfax Ave. $75 tickets include food, beer and wine. Details at events.imbibedenver.com/products/independence-eve-balcony-party

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

July 4: Independence Day BBQ with live music, a petting zoo, hikes, archery, fly-casting and more, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $29 for ages 12 and over, $14.50 children under 12. Call for reservations. 2430 County Road 83, Tabernash, 970-726-7013, devilsthumbranch.com

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

July 4: Parking lot opens at 4 p.m. for activities at 5 p.m. with a free outdoor festival offering activities for all ages including inflatables, a climbing wall, ropes course, jump castle, DJ, karaoke and more. The Family Activity Zone is outside the south end of the stadium. The Colorado Rapids take on the Columbus Crew 7:30-9:30 p.m. Fireworks begin at 10 p.m. 6000 Victory Way, Commerce City, colorado rapids.com/4thfestcolorado

Englewood’s Fourth of July

July 4: Activities happening in three parks. “Fishing for Fun” is 7-11 a.m. at Progress Park, 5100 S. Hickory St. The nearby Belleview Park, 5001 S. Inca St., offers Pirates Cove (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and a miniature train and children’s farm, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Food and novelty vendors will be in attendance 3-9 p.m. Cornerstone Park at 5150 S. Windermere St. is the site of miniature golf, vendors, activities including a bounce house and live music, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. Most events are free, some have a fee. englewoodgov.org/englewood- happenings/4th-of-july-festivities

Estes Park

July 3-4: The “Go 4th Festival” includes a pig roast, entertainment and a beer garden on July 3 along with the “Tunes, Treats and Toasts Party” 4-9 p.m. July 3 at the Fairgrounds at Stanley Park. Festivities on July 4 include a pancake breakfast, car show, miniature golf and a carnival followed by fireworks at dusk over Lake Estes. 800-443-7837, 970-577-9900, visitestespark.com

Evergreen Music Festival

July 4: Sedici Corde, Katie Glassman and Snapshot, Queen City Jazz Band, The Denver Brass and Evergreen Chorale are among the performers scheduled 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. New this year is a Teen Venue at the Lake Stage with seven local acts. Children’s activities, art show, food and drink vendors also offered. $10 adults, $5 ages 13-18, free children under 12. Evergreen Lake, 720-515-8594, evergreenmusicfestival.org

Fiddler’s Green

July 4: “Independence Day Strikes Back” with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17-$35. Fireworks follow. 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Greenwood Village, 303-623-7876, coloradosymphony.org

Fort Collins 2014 Independence Day Celebration

July 4: Festivities include the Firecracker 5K, a golf tournament, 33rd annual Old Timer’s Game, a parade, live music and fireworks at approximately 9:35 p.m. Times and fees vary; several activities are free. City Park and downtown Fort Collins, fcgov.com/july4th/

Four Mile Historic Park

July 4: Annual “Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration” includes the reading of the Declaration of Independence, performances by the Denver Concert Band and other local musicians, visits with Uncle Sam, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln along with horse-drawn wagon rides, story times, games, children’s activities and more, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $7 adults, $4 ages 3-17 and seniors 65+, free for children 2 and under, military with I.D. and members. A food tent is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 715 S. Forest St., 720-865-0800, fourmilepark.org

July Fourth in Historic Georgetown

July 4: Activities are offered from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. including a 5K Race/Stroll. A parade follows at 11 a.m., a BBQ in City Park begins at noon ($10 adults, $5 ages 12 and under), the Bucket Brigade Races get underway at 2 p.m. Fireworks at dusk on Leavenworth Mountain. 303-569-2888, georgetown-colorado.org/

Glendale Fireworks

July 3: Fireworks begin 9-9:30 p.m. Recommended viewing is north of Virginia Street, south of Cherry Creek Drive South, west of Colorado Boulevard and east of Cherry Street. 303-759-1513, glendale.co.us/

Golden’s July Fourth Festival

July 4: The Golden Lions Club presents its annual festival with rides, live music, face painting, food vendors, noon-10:30 p.m. The Johnny O. Band, Chuck Hughes and the New Classic Band perform. Picnics are welcome. Fireworks at dusk. Lions Park, 1300 10th St., goldenlionsclub.org

Grand Lake

July 4: Fireworks at dusk. 970-627-3402, grandlakechamber.com

Green Valley Ranch Amphitheater

July 4: Annual Motown, R&B, jazz and pop concert with Chase’n The Dream, 8-9:30 p.m. Fireworks follow. 4890 Argonne Way, 303-595-8747, skylineusa.com/ oakwood_concert_series.asp

Kiowa

July 4: Activities offered noon to 4 p.m. include the opening of a new exhibit, “Smoky Hill Trail — Shortcut to the Rockies,” at the Elbert County Museum, a pie contest and auction, watermelon eating contest, games for all ages, live music and more. 800-825-0208, ourjourney.info

Lafayette Fourth of July Celebration

July 4: Children’s activities, games, live music, food, beer and wine concessions are followed by fireworks, 4-10 p.m. Free admission. Waneka Lake Park, 1600 Caria Drive, 303-666-9555, lafayettecolorado.com

Leadville’s Old-Fashioned Independence Day

July 4: The Firecracker 5K Run/Walk begins the day’s festivities at 9 a.m. The $15 fee benefits the nonprofit Leadville Sports Hall of Fame. The annual parade begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by an ice cream social. An aircraft display and free cookout is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lake County Regional Airport. The Legacy Quartet performs at the Tabor Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person or $25 per family. Fireworks follow at dusk; July 5: the third annual Ye Olde Flea Market starts at 9:30 a.m. Chris Collins performs a tribute concert to John Denver at 7:30 p.m. at the Tabor Opera House. Tickets are $20. 855-488-1222, visitleadvillecolorado.com, taboroperahouse.net

Littleton’s “Red, White & You”

July 3: Foothills Park & Recreation District presents the annual family festival with exhibits, food vendors, a bounce house, rides, beer and wine garden and live music, 5-10 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free, some activities require tickets. Clement Park, 7306 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton, ifoothills.org

Niwot’s July Fourth Celebration & Parade

July 4: A “good old-fashioned celebration of American Independence” includes pancake breakfast, 7:30-10:30 a.m. $5 for adults, $3 children; the Niwot Community Semi-Marching Free Grange Band performs at 9 a.m.; Bongo the Balloon Man 8:30-10:30 a.m.; decorate your bike, tricycle or wagon for a parade starting at 11 a.m. niwot.com

Northglenn’s Family Festival

July 4: The festival runs 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. A Boy Scout Pancake Breakfast, Patriotic Pooch Parade, 4-mile and 1/2-mile runs, Bike, Trike & Wheelchair Parade, kids fun area, car show, concert by Chris Daniels & The Kings, bake sale and more. Food and community booths open at 11 a.m. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. over Webster Lake. E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park, 11801 Community Center Drive, northglenn.org/july4th

Park Hill 4th of July Parade

July 4: The fifth annual parade is 1:30-3 p.m. along 23rd Avenue from Dexter Street to Krameria Street where it ends in a street fair on the 2200 block of Kearney Street. Food trucks, live music and more is included. 303-918-6517, parkhillparade.org

Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast in Boulder

July 4: The City of Boulder and the University of Colorado Boulder present the event at Folsom Field. Gates open at 8 p.m. Activities get started at 8:30 p.m. with Ralphie. Fireworks around 9:30 p.m. Free. Folsom Field, 2400 Colorado Ave., boulder4thofjuly.com

Thornton Fourth of July

July 4: Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with food vendors and a beer garden. A one-hour concert with the Thornton Community Band begins at 6 p.m., Color Guard presentation at 7:50 p.m., the Longmont Symphony performs 8 to 9:30 p.m., a parachute jump at 9:30 p.m. is immediately followed by fireworks. Carpenter Park Fields, 108th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, cityofthornton.net

Westminster Fourth of July

July 4: A Fire Department Fishing Derby is 8 to 11 a.m. Patriotic Bike Parade at 3 p.m. Activity Zone and food vendors open at 4 p.m. Rocky Mountain Car Club Show, 5-9:15 p.m. Soul X performs a concert beginning at 7 p.m., followed by fireworks. City Park, 10455 Sheridan Blvd., ci.westminster.co.us/parksrec/specialevents.aspx

Vickie Heath, Laura Daily

Blogger’s Block and the Evolution of Motherhood

When I started writing my blog back in 2011 my kids were 5 months and 3 years old. It was an isolating time and I wanted to reach out to all the other parents of tiny children who were most likely feeling alone too. I was striving to connect for my own sanity but also in the hopes I could reach someone like me who was scouring the internet in between feedings or grasping at random hints of the outside world in an effort to pry sleep deprived eyes open. I fell in love with blogging because it provided that connection when I needed it most. It also kept me motivated to try new things so I could share them with anyone who was interested.

During that time my daughter was old enough to have dropped her naps and my son was napping all the live long day. My daughter was also young enough to need me to entertain her so I was checking Pinterest every night for ideas because if I didn’t have a bag full of tricks ready in the morning, I ran the risk of being ordered around all day by my precocious, persistent 3 year old. Needless to say, I felt I had plenty to vent about, share and confide during that exhausting, precarious time.

I can’t say my parenting life is now free of stress but these days I have a much more difficult time thinking of stuff to write about. It didn’t happen overnight of course, but when I compare the parent I am now to the one I was 3 years ago I see completely different people. Gone are the days of feeling so alone and bored I thought the clock might actually be moving backwards. Now, our lives are full and busy of friends and activities. I hardly find time to catch my breath. If ever I feel guilty about failing to store up activity ideas, I quickly remind myself we don’t have time for all that anyway. Now that the kids are older, they are capable of playing together and with friends all day long without needing much more than food from me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still spend a lot of time breaking up arguments and my 3 year old brings me to my knees quite often but it doesn’t eat at me the way it used to. Downtime at home now is reserved for letting loose and doing whatever comes naturally to them. In other words, I try and keep my nose out so they can create the kinds of memories I cherish most from my childhood…the ones I made myself.

So, where does that leave me as a writer?  I’m not sure yet but I’m not worried. With each new stage comes new challenges and although things don’t seem as heavy as they did when I was chained to my apartment, the adventure and wonder continue. Maybe it’s just about embracing the beauty in simplicity.

Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (3 and 6).  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 breaking up arguments to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (http://raisinglittleheroes.wordpress.com/), a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children. She also writes about her life on her blog, “A Day in the Life of My Little Brood.” 

 

 

 

Ways to Give Back This Summer, With Your Kids

Making the world a little bit better than I found it as a passion of mine, one that I hope rubs off on my three kids. Sometimes I think it’s working, like when my boys share change from their piggy banks to save snakes (hey, someone’s got to look out for the endangered cobras of the world). Other times, I’m not so sure, like when they proclaim that they’re going to keep the dollar I’ve given them for the church collection plate, and will never, ever, ever give any money away again because they need it all so they can be rich and buy every Lego set ever made.

During the school year, we participate in school and church activities to give back, from bringing diapers to a diaper drive to collecting money to support Lutheran World Relief, but it’s hard to fit in more organized family volunteer projects, especially ones that work for three kids under seven. But in summer, we have a little more time to spare. Before our summer fills up with pool trips and outdoor adventures, we’re going to make plans to do something good for the community as a family.

Colorado has a fantastic nonprofit community, with over 19,000 nonprofit organizations doing everything from housing single parents and their families to helping preserve and protect natural resources around the world. There are so many groups doing great work out there that there’s sure to be one that lines up with your family’s interests.

Here are a few easy, family-friendly ways that you and your kids can give back this summer:

Organize a Park Clean Up

I know, at first glance, this one sounds kind of like a drag, but when my then-two and four-year-olds participated in a clean up day, it couldn’t have been more awesome in their eyes. They saw a snake! They filled bags with garbage! They got to use fantastic grabbers to touch yucky stuff!  Two years later, they still talk about that time they saw a snake and picked up trash. If only clean-up time was so easy at home…You can join an already-organized clean up, or you can just call up a friend and plan to fill up a bag with trash at the start of a play date. Just don’t forget the grabbers and gloves.

Host a Lemonade Stand for Charity

I’ve had a hard time convincing my kids that lemonade stand money should go anywhere but their pockets, but for many other kids, it’s an easy and fun way to take a favorite summertime activity and use it to give back. Kids can pick a charity of their choice, or make use of the useful tools from well-known Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit founded by a little girl named Alex to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Book Round Up

Gather up gently used books around your house, and invite neighbors and friends to do the same. Colorado’s Reach Out And Read provides books to children living in poverty through donations at well child checks. You can add a few to the over 165,000 books Reach Out and Read gave away last year. My preschoolers found it very easy to part with baby books they’d outgrown, and felt very benevolent about the whole thing.

Bowl-A-Thon

This one comes straight from the kids. Eighteen Parker kids organized a bowl-a-thon to raise money for Hunger Free Colorado. Together they raised over $400, and collected canned goods, all while having fun in support of a good cause.

For Animal Lovers

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keensburg is home to over 350 rescued animals, from tigers to emus. You can visit and say hello to the animals and also help them by bringing along something from the Sanctuary’s wish list, such as bags of apples ready to be gobbled up by the bears.

Want more ways you can volunteer together? Check out local group Metro Volunteers’ online postings. Most are better for families with older children or teenagers.  Volunteer Match is also a great resource, with tons of opportunities that are appropriate for kids, all searchable by location and area of interest.

Oz Spies has over 15 years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector. She lives in Denver with her husband and three children.

When staying at home is not an option: A working mom’s frustration

Have you ever been so tired, had too much on your mind and so much work to do that you wonder how you’ll muster up the energy to get through the day?

That was how I felt recently and to make matters worse, I overheard our receptionist talking with a client in the lobby. They were talking about kids.

Client: “How is Kendra doing? How is her baby?”

Receptionist: “She is doing great! Her little one is 13 months old already and his first birthday was a hit.”

Client: “Do you have kids?”

Receptionist: “Yes, I have three. They are all grown now but I was able to stay home with them throughout their younger years.”

Client: “Oh, that’s nice.”

Receptionist: “Yeah, I just didn’t want a babysitter or anyone else raising my kids for me. I wanted to be the one to do it.”

Really?!?!? I’m in earshot, lady.

Day Trip: Nederland Fun and the Carousel of Happiness

“I’m going to ride the zebra!” yells one daughter from the back seat as we buckle in for our 30-minute drive to the Carousel of Happiness, just up the canyon in Nederland.

“I want the mermaid!” cries a smaller voice. “No, the gorilla!”

Such is the anticipation as we twist our way toward one of Colorado’s most whimsical, fantastical and affordable attractions.

The backstory of the Carousel of Happiness, which opened in 2010, is pretty well known by now — Scott Harrison, a Vietnam veteran from Nederland, obtained a classic carousel frame and motor, then spent 26 years carving 50 animals. The people of Nederland chipped in, raising $700,000 and creating a nonprofit volunteer organization to house and run the Carousel.

Four years later, the Carousel is celebrating passing the 250,000-visitor mark by adding six animals to the menagerie in the Carousel’s main room. They’re not for riding — rather, they are featured in “Somewhere Else,” an art piece conceived by Harrison and his friend, illustrator George Blevins. The work shows parts of creatures disappearing into and coming out of a mysterious membrane.

“The wall is a kind of portal, we think, maybe to a new dimension,” says Harrison. “Honestly, we haven’t been able to explain it. But certainly, magic is afoot.”

For a buck a ride, the Carousel of Happiness is hard to beat, whether I’m hosting visitors from out of town or killing half a day with my daughters. It’s only an hour’s drive from Denver, and you can combine a visit there with a drive along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, a hike at Brainard Lake National Recreation Area, or at the very least, a quick, cooling splash in Boulder Creek on the way down.

One friend takes her kids to the Carousel in Ned as an après-ski treat after a day at Eldora Mountain Resort. Someone else I know has a tradition that her daughter rides first by herself, then holds both her parents’ hands from the animals next to her. When Moises Gadea, my musician friend from Nicaragua, visited the carousel between concerts, he rode the dolphin. It was the first one he’d ever seen. Afterward, his smile bigger than my daughters’, he exclaimed, “I feel like I’m in a movie! The music box is fantastic!”

Today, however, I am not hosting visitors; it’s just me and my girls. Inside, I buy three rides for each of them, and we enter the round, cheerful, light-filled chamber; the brightly painted animals await our arrival. The 1913 Wurlitzer band organ starts to play, the smiles on the riders faces broaden, and I give a silly wave every time my girls pass. After their three rides (on a different animal each time, of course), we climb the stairs to the self-service puppet theater.

“I’m the lion! No, the monkey!”

They disappear backstage, then open the little curtains, and I sit back for a performance … while the Carousel of Happiness spins below.

Joshua Berman

CAROUSEL OF HAPPINESS

Caribou Village Shopping Center, Colorado 72, Nederland, 303-258-3457, carouselofhappiness.org. By bus, take RTD Route N.

Camp Chief Ouray’s “Camp Magic,” a mom at play and your family’s own camp experience!

My husband Jamie and I have been parents for 10 years and we have never been alone together at our home for more than one night since having kids. So it was a shock for me when we dropped them off for week-long Camp Chief Ouray at YMCA of the Rockies located between Grand Lake and Winter Park.

But not for Jamie. As we were walking away from my daughter’s cabin, we followed the procession of parents to their cars.  “Do you know what all these parents have in common?” he observed. “They’re all smiling.”

Bode with his counselors

Bode with his counselors

And so were the kids. While Jamie and I reconnected with nightly dates, Hadley and Bode had the time of their lives at Colorado’s longest-running overnight camp for boys and girls ages 7-17 where they stayed in rustic cabins as they did archery, camp crafts, swam, rode horses, canoed, hiked, raided the kitchen, camped under the stars one night, gorged on s’mores, had regular devotionals, skits, campfire songs and so much more.

Mom at Play

YMCA of the Rockies’  5,100-acre Snow Mountain Ranch is the ultimate Colorado family vacation with affordable lodging, a 27-hole miniature golf course, guided hikes, scavenger hunts, a full line-up at their Activity Center, craft center, library, disc golf, sand volleyball, roller-skating, swimming, archery, and basketball.

My family has been vacationing there for years and I thought I’d done it all until I teamed up with Marketing Director Laura Field and we mountain biked the Nordic/snowshoe trails past the biathlon range through aspen forests, emerald meadows that were slathered in vibrant hues and did a huge loop before connecting with a portion of the trail that extends from Fraser to Granby. 

Mountain biking the Nordic center's network of trails

Mountain biking the Nordic center’s network of trails

We huffed and puffed up Nine Mile Mountain’s steep 3-mile round-trip hike (one of three on-property treks), reading inspiring Beatitudes the chaplain had placed along the way. Upon summiting, we were greeted with not only spectacular views of the Continental Divide, Indian Peaks Wilderness and Winter Park but with “God’s Mailbox” where we wrote notes to God.

View from Nine Mile Mountain

View from Nine Mile Mountain

God's Mailbox atop Nine Mile Mountain

God’s Mailbox atop Nine Mile Mountain

I got a sneak peak at the summer tubing hill and adjacent concession stand that will open July 15, 2014. Made of Snowflex® tubing slope from Briton Engineering Developments Ltd., this is only the third tubing hill of its kind in the United States and the first ever in Colorado. Snow Mountain Ranch guests may use this tubing hill free of charge.

Snow Mountain's tubing hill will be completed July 15.

Snow Mountain’s tubing hill will be completed July 15.

Mile High Mama Catherine will  visit the tubing hill for its grand opening so stay tuned for details!

We careened down the “family-friendly” zipline for ages 8 or older ($10). I’ve been on many ziplines–including the steepest in the United States–and was undaunted so I was taken aback when I had a moderate freak-out as I climbed the 30-foot ladder before riding the 600-foot-long zipline.zipline1In my defense, it was very, very high.

It’ll take some coaxing for me to try their more extreme adventures on their High Zip Line ($15), which involves a 55-foot climb and a ride down a 800-foot zipline for ages 10 or older and non-wussy grown-ups. The verdict is still out for me.

Kids at Play

That evening, I had the rare privilege of tagging along with Laura as we watched my kids in action at Camp Chief Ouray’s dance. While my 10-year-old daughter painted her face like a cat, donned her Cheetah headband and went on the prowl (while avoiding me like the plague), my girl-shy 7-year-old son avoided female eye contact (particularly after the trauma of being asked to dance last year) and instead preferred to play Candyland in the lodge with his mother.chiefouraydanceLet’s hope this is not foreshadowing for the teenage years. On both accounts.

Every year, the dance ends with all the kids and counselors racing into the meadow and dancing to “Send me on my way” by Rusted Root, followed by a rousing rendition of Y-M-C-A. This year, I joined in. Clearly, I was two steps behind everyone.

One of these things is not like the other.

One of these things is not like the other.

Sunset burned like a million watts of light, so beautiful that I felted panicked I couldn’t take it with me. We tiredly wrapped our day with an Evening Program/Vespers Campfire when the revered “Spirit Stick” was awarded to the week’s most spirited cabin, followed by some skits that had us laughing one moment and nearly in tears the next.

On the final day at Camp Chief Ouray, parents participated in a closing ceremony that gave a glimpse of the songs and lessons learned at camp. Each cabin shared their “Camp Magic” (favorite part of camp) that was everything from gooey science concoctions made in the cafeteria to squeals from unwelcome mice to kitchen raids.

My kids raved about their experiences the entire 1.5-our drive back to Denver. This was Hadley’s second year at Camp Chief Ouray and she was so enamored that she begged me to participate in their L.I.T. camp (Leader in Training) when she gets older. I deem anytime a 10-year-old is able to see beyond herself and is vying for leadership experience to be a very, very, very good thing.

This was Bode’s first time at Camp Chief Ouray. He, too was bursting with excitement but when I asked him how he would rate camp, he said, “I’d give it a 9 out of 10.”

“Really? Why only a 9?” I was sure the moderately traumatic dance may have had something to do with it.

“I kept losing all my stuff and then finding it again.”
bunk With a bunk area like that, it’s no surprise. 

But an important part of the camp experience is leaving home, becoming more independent, stretching the limits and realizing Mom isn’t always going to be there to pick up after you…while still having the time of your life.

That is my Camp Magic.

 ====

Camp Chief Ouray Session 2 camp video:

Family Camp

Do you want to experience your own kind of Camp Magic as a family? Be sure to sign up for Camp Chief Ouray’s Family Camp over Labor Day weekend where your whole family will participate in a traditional camp of your own!

Wild West Night, $1 Flip-Flops, Summer Nights at the Museum

Brake for breakfast

Bicyclists can gear up for free breakfast at more than 160 locations across the metro area as part of Bike To Work Day on Wednesday. Chow down on this freebie from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Select sites also offer free water and snacks at Bike Home stations for the post-work ride from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Some even plan full-blown parties with Happy Hour eats, drinks and live music. biketowork2014.org/stations

Horsin’ around

Corral the family for a good time in both Highlands Ranch and Broomfield, thanks to Keystone Resort’s Wild West Night, featuring a bike-in movie. The free family-friendly events take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Redstone Park (3280 Redstone Park Cir. in Highlands Ranch) on Wednesday and County Commons Park (13200 Sheridan Blvd. in Broomfield) on Thursday. Aptly, the film is “An American Tail: Fieval Goes West.” Besides the movie, little buckaroos can enjoy lassoing with wranglers from Keystone Stables, a strider bike course, s’more treats and games.

Flippin’ good deal

No one can “flip-flop” on the savings with this sale. On Saturday, Old Navy sells adult and kids flip-flops for only $1 per pair. Most stores open at 9 a.m. The offer is for select styles, while supplies last. There’s a limit of five pairs per customer. oldnavy.com

Museum musings

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is always full of adventure and, this summer, savings, too with “Summer Nights @ The Museum.” For $15 you can explore just about all they have to offer on most Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. through August 22. That’s more than 50 percent off regular prices. The all-access ticket includes entry to “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed,” Discovery Zone, Laserium shows in Gates Planetarium, IMAX films and special activities, plus snacks and a cash bar. Each adventurous night out is themed to a different topic, so you can make it a regular weekend stop. Admission only includes access to the venues and activities listed. The rest of the museum is closed. dmns.org

By Laura Daily and Bryan K. Chavez, MileHighOnTheCheap.com

======

Sales Insider

Hair you go

More than 150 top salon brands are included in Beauty Brands Annual Liter Sale continuing through Aug. 2. Save up to $41 per bottle on brands including Hempz, Bed Head, Kenra, Amika, AG, Redken, Big Sexy Hair and more. Visit beautybrands.com for locations.

Under the sun

There’s indoor and outdoor choices to be made at the Lakewood Arts Council’s “Garden Art and Plant Sale” continuing through Friday. Find garden-themed art along with plants, flowers, herbs, succulents, bulbs and more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free. LAC Community Center and Art Gallery, 85 S. Union Blvd., Lakewood, 303 980-0625, lakewoodartscouncil.org

Ooh la la

La Boutique has discounted all clothing 20 percent in June. Shoppers will find fun summer fashions including dresses and can also save 10 percent on jewelry and accessories. Select clearance items are marked down 50 percent. Store hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. You’ll find the boutique inside Nona’s Attic. 2699 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-798-4885

Free days

June 30: Denver Museum 0f Nature & Science, dmns.org

-Vicki Heath