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Kids: You Say You Want a Revolution?

I’m beginning to understand why ideas and education are the first things to be controlled in oppressive regimes. Education leads to…thoughts. Ideas. Connections. Expression. Discussion. And yes, Revolution.

I, being the Head Mama around here, am in a position of Exalted and Sovereignly Great Dictator. Especially when the playroom and bedrooms look like they’ve been ransacked by a bunch of gremlins with a penchant for making cardboard box civilizations and scattering the contents of every toy container to the four corners.

Today is particularly oppressive for the kids, as I am leaving to take care of some business for a few days, and Head Daddy is large and in charge when I’m gone. He needs a clean and tidy house like I need Dove Chocolate and Cherry Coke. I have them on a strict schedule of 15 minutes cleaning with a 10 minute break. Must. Clean. Up!

After lunch, I sent them upstairs to clean some more. They both did their best to argue why they shouldn’t have to/needed less time cleaning/needed a longer break. I announced in my best Exalted and Sovereignly Great Dictator voice, that I was boss and what I said GOES.

However,

Free admission to eight Denver museums for Colorado’s 138th birthday

Colorado’s 138th birthday is Aug. 1, and the state’s eight regional museums as well as the History Colorado Center are celebrating by offering free admission and special activities

Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at 1200 Broadway, visitors can help build an adobe wall, cook a cobbler in a Dutch oven and see a sluice mining demonstration. Performances include square dancing, American Indian dances, music and cowboy rope tricks.

The demonstrations and activities are tied to Colorado traditions and history, said Bill Convery, a state historian. “If you were a settler in southern Colorado, chances are good you made your house out of adobe brick,” Convery said.

The free two-day Denver event Aug. 1 and 2 is a partnership between the History Colorado Center and Colorado Proud to celebrate Colorado’s admission to the Union as the 38th state in 1876. Shannon Haltiwanger, communications manager at the History Colorado Center, said they hope to educate attendees about historical and cultural aspects unique to Colorado. (The other regional museums are free only on Aug. 1.)

“It gives you that ability to experience the entire state in one fell swoop,” said Haltiwanger. “I think it’s important for all of us to take a moment and celebrate Colorado’s birthday.”

Also part of the event is a farmers market featuring locally made jams, jellies and salsas, which is tied into the Colorado Proud program, which supports Colorado produce. A 27-day tourto spread awareness of state-grown food will kick off this weekend as well.

August is “the perfect time to enjoy produce that’s available, especially the peaches, cantaloupes, sweet corn,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Jordan Gonzalez


Museums celebrating Colorado history

The following museums have free admission on Colorado History Day, Aug. 1: Byers-Evans House Museum, Denver; El Pueblo History Museum, Pueblo; Fort Garland Museum & Pike’s Stockade, Fort Garland; Fort Vasquez Museum, Platteville; Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park, Georgetown; Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin, Leadville; Trinidad History Museum, Trinidad; Ute Indian Museum, Montrose.

10 of the best places to camp with kids in Colorado

A few months when I was researching a new place to go camping this summer, I was stressed out. I have lived in Colorado for 12 years and the possibilities for outdoor explorations are limitless, making the process overwhelming. So, I put it out there to the experts (you!) and received some fantastic recommendations of where to camp. My criteria is it needed to be approximately two hours from Denver, in the mountains, preferably near water and gorgeous.

That isn’t too much to ask in a fabulous state like Colorado, right?

 

Turquoise Lake. Photo: USDA

Turquoise Lake. Photo: USDA

Turquoise Lake. With a name like Turquoise Lake you know this recreational area near Leadville has got to be beautiful. Located in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and near the state’s highest peak, there are 8 campgrounds that are named for nearby gold and silver mines and the tycoons who owned them. The 300 campsites consist of fire rings, toilets, drinking water and picnic tables and area activities include hiking, fishing, boating and two boat-launching ramps.  For a great family hike, do a portion (or all) of the 6.4 mile Turquoise Lake Trail that parallels the shoreline of Turquoise Lake from the Dam to May Queen Campground. Turquoise Lake is about 5 miles west of U.S. Highway 24 and Leadville, Colorado.

 Camp Dick. Camp Dick is the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was established in the 1930s just off the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway. The campground is situated on the banks of the Middle Saint Vrain Creek in a glacial valley surrounded by mixed conifer and aspen forests and has vault toilets, campfire rings, firewood, drinking water and grills. The Middle Saint Vrain Creek is a good fly-fishing stream where anglers cast for rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout. Many trails in the vicinity are open to hiking and biking, including Sourdough and Buchanan Pass trails. The Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary is four miles from the west end of the campground. Guided horseback riding is available at Peaceful Valley Lodge, which is just over a mile away.

Buena Vista/Salida

Buena Vista/Salida

Buena Vista/Salida.
This beautiful valley has it all: The mighty Collegiate Peaks in the Sawatch Range stand sentry at the west and host a dozen of Colorado’s famous 14ers (14,000-foot peaks). More than 100 miles of the mighty Arkansas River forms the eastern boundary and is perfect for rafting, fishing, floating or kayaking. Camping options abound in this land also famous for its hot springs. The Arrowhead Point Campground and Cabins is located on 23 acres with campsites, cabins, cottages and yurts in a mountain setting. The Buena Vista’s KOA 35-acre property boasts million-dollar views of six 14ers, while the Chalk Creek Campground in Nathrop (7 miles south of Buena Vista) lets you get back to nature with a fun twist like Summer Potlucks on Thursdays and Rubber Ducky Races on holidays. Other options include Fisherman’s Bridge Campground (between Nathrop and Salida), Heart of the Rockies Campground (10 miles west of Salida) or the Monarch Spur RV Park and Campground that is nestled in a valley only 200 feet from a trout stream.

Kenosha Pass Campground. Northeast of Fairplay on U.S. Route 295 (and just 50 miles southwest of Denver) is Kenosha Pass campground. The campground features a trail head for the Colorado Trail, which infamously starts outside of Denver and threads its way nearly 500 miles over eight spectacular mountain ranges before ending in Durango. The campground includes an interpretive area that has a wheelchair/stroller-friendly trail on the old Denver, South Park and Pacific Railways.  Facilities at the 25-site campground include water, tables, vault toilet and fire rings and if you love fall, consider returning late-September when the area’s aspen trees come to life. Hike the spine of the Front Range from Jefferson to Grant with tremendous views of 14,265-foot Mount Evans and 14,065-foot Mount Bierstadt.

Red Feather Lakes. Photo: Colorado.com

Red Feather Lakes. Photo: Colorado.com

Red Feather Lakes. Head to the Rocky Mountains northwest of Fort Collins and you’ll fall in love with this rustic mountain village that is surrounded by 612,000-acre Roosevelt National Forest. This year-round outdoor playground boasts the Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s first designated Wild and Scenic River, and has the area’s best whitewater rafting, kayaking and fishing. Camping choices range from Archer’s Poudre River Resort on the Poudre River with a Country Store for all your grocery and fishing tackle needs to the Poudre Canyon KOA that is nestled in one of Colorado’s most scenic river valleys–a favorite for whitewater rafters and kayakers. The West Lake Campground has 36 sites in a mountainous, ponderosa pine forest while nearby Dowdy Lake’s 70-site campground is extremely popular for fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.

 Honorable Mentions

Jack's Gulch. Photo: USDA

Jack’s Gulch. Photo: USDA

State Forest State Park’s 70,838-acre park offers visitors 71,000 acres of forest, jagged peaks, alpine lakes, wildlife and miles of trails located in Jackson and Larimer counties east of Walden, Colorado. 

 Snow Mountain Ranch. The YMCA of the Rockies’ lodges and cabins near Winter Park, Colo. are well-known for family vacations with hiking, biking, swimming, roller-blading, ziplining, a summer tubing hill and more. But not to be overlooked is their campground and yurt village–all the fun at a fraction of the price.

Jack’s Gulch Campground is located 48 miles northwest of Fort Collins and is tailored to those traveling with horses. The campsites have corrals and the area is home to a network of trails amid aspen stands and ponderosa that are perfect for leisurely rides.

What are your favorite places to camp in Colorado?

 

Viral video: Sadie doesn’t want her brother to grow up

Do you ever feel like this parenting gig is flying by waaaaaay too fast?

This hilarious video is of 5-year-old Sadie who is devastated by the realization her baby brother Carson will grow up. As she kisses him, she cries and professes: “He is just so cute, I love his little smiles.”

Don’t we all know the feeling.

Watch the video of brotherly love here.

Maternity fashion: 4 must-have looks for new moms!

The journey to motherhood is sweet and memorable for some and for others it’s a slog through morning sickness, swelling feet, and body dysmorphia. There are probably women sitting proudly in both camps. I myself was never one to talk about how much I loved being pregnant. It was an uncomfortable experience with many weird side effects. But, the blessed thing is, it only last 9 months and when you’re done your life is changed forever by the sweetest baby you’ll ever hold in your arms.

One of the more obvious changes your body makes is your ever expanding tummy. It’s adorable to see on other women, but it’s sometimes difficult to manage when it’s you experiencing it. I think every mother would love to feel great about their body even when there are some days you feel like a walrus sunning on the rocks. The amazing thing is, the market for beautiful maternity clothes has exploded in the past few years.

There are great options in every price range that will help you feel less walrus and more wonderful. The standard big box stores usually have some sort of maternity selection, but those really haven’t gotten much better. Boutique maternity websites have been appearing that will give you some more options beyond your basic t-shirt and jeans.

Here are some of my favorite websites and stores.

Sonnet James – Play dresses for playful moms

http://sonnetjames.com/

maternity2
Image: http://sonnetjames.com/shop-1/copy-of-remi-dress-greywhite

Asos Maternity (as seen on What I Wore)
http://us.asos.com

maternity3
Image: http://whatiwore.tumblr.com/post/90554890648/what-i-wore-where-the-sidewalk-ends

Loft Maternity

http://www.loft.com

maternity1
Image : http://www.loft.com/maternity-chambray-sleeveless-shirtdress/

Hatch

http://hatchcollection.com/

maternity
Image : http://hatchcollection.com/shop/product/the-maillot-summer-14/

Jjoannaohanna Ostrum is a busy petroleum engineer with one beautiful and very busy little toddler.  She and her dashing husband moved to Colorado about eight years ago chasing great job opportunities in the Denver area. She grew up on a farm in small town, Idaho, and really enjoys everything Colorado has to offer.  Getting out into nature is one of her favorite things to do besides drinking all the coffee she can get her hands on. You can find her sharing her life on her blog, twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Featured photo: http://www.mothermag.com/amanda-booth/

Denver Deal: Colorado Day, WaterWorld’s Birthday, Free Days and More

I remember back-to-school shopping with my mom as a kid. It would usually involve a drive down to the city (we lived in Steamboat – so Denver was the BIG City). We would place clothes on layaway and be trying on jeans in the middle of summer. My mom would always tell us that she didn’t want to spend her whole “wad” on clothes – what happens if the ones we pick out are not the popular styles? Then she wouldn’t have any more money to spend on a new sweater (or whatever). So she would buy us some basics and then we would drive back down in September or October to “fill in the gaps.” I think of it now – and realize what she was doing was spreading her spend out a bit – but allowing us to have a new outfit for the first day. Do you send your kids to school with a new outfit on the first day? 

FREE DAYS
There are a couple of free days this week. Saturday, August 2 the Denver Art Museum as well as the Denver Firefighter’s Museum are free. Monday, August 4 the Denver Botanic Gardens entrance is free and Tuesday, August 5 visit the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield for free. Then spend Tuesday evening (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) at the Children’s Museum of Denver for free. 
 
WaterWorld Celebrates Their Birthday
WaterWorld is celebrating their birthday with cake being served each day this week at noon plus you can meet a Broncos Cheerleader on Tuesday, July 29.  Make sure to friend Water World on Facebook and/or Twitter where they will be posting on their Facebook/Twitter that fans can save $10 on Friday (Colorado Day) when they show the post at the entrance (or tell them that you read it here!)

 
Happy Colorado Day
Colorado Day is August 1 (the day that Colorado became a state). Colorado History Center will have free admission to Colorado residents that day. If you’ve not gone – you should. The building is amazing. And you HAVE to check out the interactive map of Colorado on the floor! Also to celebrate our birthday (as a state – but also my birth month. Yes, I know I’m really a Colorado Girl), all 42 state parks will have free entrance on Colorado Day.
 
Cheesecake Factory
Celebrate National Cheesecake Day on Wednesday AND Thursday (July 30 & 31) with half off cheesecake slices when you dine in at the Cheesecake Factory. Try the new lemon meringue cheesecake – and throw the summer diet out the window!
 
JC Penney
JC Penney is sending out get $10 off purchase of $10 or more (and get $10 off purchase of $25 or more) in the mail. Watch your mail box for that. But, the coupon can also be downloaded from their website!

FREE Summer Concerts

A free concert, movie or event entertain Denver families for free through summer. This week Mile High Mamas has rounded up a list which means that there is likely one near you! Did we mention they are FREE?!? For a full list visit our summer concert calendar.

  • July 30 – Katie Glassman and Snapshot in Evergreen at the Lake House Park
  • July 30 – 101st Army Dixieland Band in Littleton in front of the Library
  • July 30 – The Lego Movie
  • July 31 – Margarita Brothers Band at Southlands in Aurora
  • July 31 – Deja Blu at McKelvy Park in Arvada
  • July 31 – Raising Cain in Aurora at Meadowood Park
  • July 31 – Syndicate at FlatIron Crossing
  • August 1 – Soul X at Orchard Grove
  • August 2 -Fourever Fab at Orchard Grove
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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!
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If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free

Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.

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

School gardens’ produce increasingly ends up in school cafeterias

This year, another Colorado school district will join the growing national movement to bring fresh vegetables from school gardens  into  school cafeterias, directly onto the plates of the  students  who grew them.

Just four years ago, only a few schools in the country were doing this.  But after Denver Public Schools worked with  Slow Food Denver to create food-safety guidelines,  the garden-to-cafeteria movement  is spreading  across the country,   and the DPS food safety protocol is now a national model.  By May 2013, four states and the District of Columbia had laws to ensure that  produce from school gardens could be served in school cafeterias, according to the nonprofit ChangeLab Solutions.

“The kids are really excited about it,” said Emily O’Winter, healthy schools coordinator at Jeffco Public Schools, which tested pilot programs at four of its schools last year. “They’re so proud. At the salad bar, they look for their tomatoes from the garden.”

Experts say the trend is rooted in a convergence  of events:   the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that targeted  childhood obesity;   new USDA nutritional requirements that fruits and vegetables be served daily at school lunches; and the growth in consumer demand for foods grown locally.

At first, the idea of serving vegetables from school gardens in school cafeterias was so novel that CLICK TO KEEP READING

Family Travel: 11 Colorado Scenic Roadtrips

Spending a long amount of time in the car for a road trip can sometimes be uneventful, but not a road trip through Colorado. The state is home to 25 Scenic and Historic Byways (11 of which are also America’s Byways) celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2014 along with other roads and passes that offer amazing views. Summer through fall is the perfect time of year to travel the byways, roads and passes of Colorado.

Following is a sampling of Colorado’s scenic drives with the best views and activities provided courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office. 

 Cache la Poudre – North Park Scenic & Historic Byway (Fort Collins). This drive, which means “the powder’s hiding place” in French, is 101 miles (three hours) following the Poudre River up to Cameron Pass. The route was once used by settlers connecting the northern plains of Colorado to the Green River settlement in Utah. Now, the route is a place to drive and see raging river rapids ideal for rafting, Colorado’s state mammal, the bighorn sheep, and amazing views around the bowl-shaped basin of North Park at the top of Cameron Pass. Don’t forget your binoculars, as North Park is a bustling habitat for wildlife.
 
Frontier Pathways National Scenic & Historic Byway (Pueblo). After beginning this drive in Pueblo, pass along the high plains to see buttes and flatlands before hitting the south side of a local favorite, Lake Pueblo State Park, a 4,646-acre lake. Another 25 miles down the road is the town of Wetmore, which separates the Great Plains from the edge of the Rockies. At Highway 96 and Highway 165, the byway splits west and south. The western route hits the San Isabel National Forest and sister towns Silver Cliff and Westcliffe. The southern route leads to the modern-day structure Bishop Castle and Colorado City, which is a great place to eat some local cuisine. Keep an eye out on this 103-mile (three and a half hour) drive for gray fox, mule deer, elk and pronghorn.  
 
Gold Belt Tour National Scenic & Historic Byway (Cañon City). The Gold Belt Tour is 131 miles (five to six hours) of rolling mountain parklands to deep rocky canyons. The drive was once the “Roads to Riches” historic route, connecting Cripple Creek to Victor Mining District and was also the world’s largest gold rush to Florence, Cañon City and Florissant. The drive climbs from 5,500 to 9,500 feet in elevation and visits Phantom Canyon Road, a road with green spotted canyons and eerie ghost towns. A great place for a rest stop towards the beginning of this trip is at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to see fossils dating back 34 million years.
 
Highway 160 over Wolf Creek Pass (Pagosa Springs). For a shorter scenic drive, Highway 160 over Wolf Creek Pass will not disappoint. The highway stretches 41 miles (about one hour) between South Fork and Pagosa Springs. Views from the highway include portions of Weminuche Wilderness within the San Juan National Forest, the Continental Divide Trail and the 100-foot Treasure Falls. The hike to Treasure Falls is one for the whole family and a great way to get out and about.
 
A wildlower basin along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway near Idaho Springs, CO

A wildlower basin along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway near Idaho Springs, CO

Mount Evans Scenic & Historic Byway (Idaho Springs). This Scenic Byway is also the highest paved road in North America at 14,130 feet above sea level. Along the 49-mile (two hour) road, alpine lakes, granite walls, mountain goats and bighorn sheep can all be seen. On the way up, views of glacier-cut valleys and many sharp, rocky peaks can’t be beat. On the way back down, stop in Idaho Springs at the Indian Hot Springs resort to relax and enjoy the hot springs.

 
Peak-to-Peak Scenic & Historic Byway (Estes Park). Established in 1918, Peak-to-Peak is Colorado’s oldest Scenic Byway. From Estes Park to Black Hawk, this 55-mile (two hour) drive passes through Rocky Mountain National Park (celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2015), Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and Eldora Mountain Resort ski area, all of which make for a beautiful drive full of mountain and high-country lake scenery. Take a detour through the ghost towns of Hesse and Apex, and walk around for a rest stop, or stop west of Eldora for an easy hike to Arapaho Glacier.
 
Pikes Peak Highway (Colorado Springs). In 1915, Pikes Peak Highway was built and allowed locals and visitors to reach the summit of Pikes Peak. Today, the 19-mile drive (about two hours) is filled with lakes, mountains and wildlife along the climb from 7,400 feet to 14,115 feet. There are also many activities to choose from on the way up, such as hiking, biking and boating. Once at the top, try a world-famous donut at the Pikes Peak Summit House — it is the only donut made at an altitude above 14,000 feet.
 
Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway (Leadville). Colorado’s two tallest peaks, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive, can been seen from this scenic drive. For 115 miles (four to five hours), pass the beginning of the Arkansas River, the town of Twin Lakes in San Isabel National Forest and Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States. Get off the beaten path for a bit and bike Shrine Pass, which is the perfect place for viewing wildflowers, or go trout fishing in Missouri Lake. This Byway also includes Independence Pass.
 
Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byway (Lake City). The Silver Thread Scenic Byway passes through two of Colorado’s historic districts, Lake City and Creede. Each has many sights worth seeing. Lake City has one of the largest collections of preserved buildings from the 1870s, and Creede has the Creede Repertory Theater, which USA Today called “one of the best places to see the lights way off Broadway.” Also along this 120-mile (two to four hour) route, see the 800-year-old Lake San Cristobal, and don’t forget to wander off a bit on Forest Road 510 to see stunning views of North Clear Creek Falls.
 
Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road (Estes Park). Take a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park on the 48-mile (two to three hour) Trail Ridge Road. Starting in Estes Park, hop on the highest continuous auto road in the country to see elk, glacier-carved valleys and amazing peak summits. The Continental Divide can also be seen from this route. Due to its high altitude and heavy snowfall, the route is only open from late May to late October. Don’t forget to stop by The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which inspired Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Also, head to Grand Lake, which is the largest natural lake in the state of Colorado.

 
West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway (Gunnison). The West Elk Loop Scenic Byway is one of Colorado’s longer drives, but worth every minute. This 205-mile (eight to 10 hour) drive passes through three beautiful mountain towns — Marble, Gunnison and Crested Butte, each of which has something truly unique. See where the marble for the Lincoln Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C., came from in the old mining town of Marble. Gunnison offers a culture mixing the ranching community and a university, while Crested Butte offers amazing views of wildflowers, as is designated the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.” Also along the drive, pass by Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 
 
For more information, visit http://www.colorado.com/articles/quick-guide-colorados-scenic-historic-byways.

Foodie Friday: Chocolate Chip Coconut Banana Bread Recipe

I’ve had a longtime banana bread recipe that is a staple at our house. It’s a good, solid recipe. Nothing fancy but the bread turns out good 100% of the time.

So, why rock the boat? Because I recently saw a recipe for banana bread with coconut in it, which is one of my great loves. So, after doubling and tweaking the recipe, we now have a NEW favorite banana bread.

Just call me fickle but it is so, so worth it.

[yumprint-recipe id=’22’]

Confessions of a Former Mean Girl

Her name was Jackie and we were cruel to her.

She lived in a small, weather-worn house across the street from our school. She wore the same out-of-style clothes every day. They were stained and frayed. Her hair was never combed, and her homework was rarely done. For these crimes, a court of spoiled and selfish fifth-grade girls sentenced her to a year of hard time as the target of jokes, disdain, and teasing.

I was on the jury.

Decades later, I look back on those playground moments with a great deal of shame and embarrassment. I think the worst thing we did to Jackie was the plot to make her think we were going to let her in our group (dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” by a teacher) all the time knowing we were going to ostracize her a few days later. The plan was to tell her how rich we were, how we vacationed in amazing places, and how our parents drove multiple expensive cars. Isn’t it amazing we want to be your friend, Jackie? You must be special!

Our plan worked perfectly.