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Kevin Costner’s “Black or White”–What it Says about Adoption & Race

Though Black or White earns its adoption stripes through simple kinship adoption (Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer vie for custody of the granddaughter they share, Eloise, played by the luminous Jillian Estell), the bigger message for adoptive families is the devastating split a person can experience when divided in two by color, race, biology and/or biography. And how not dealing with tough emotions such as anger and grief rarely means they resolve on their own.

Super Bowl Recipe: Homemade Pizza Party!

Make pizza from scratch for a Super Bowl party? Why bother when you can snap your fingers and have it delivered to your door?

Here’s why: Homemade pizza tastes better than anything you can buy and it takes much less time and effort than you would think. Making the dough takes just 10 minutes. Then, during the next hour while the yeast is working its magic, you have plenty of time to prepare whichever toppings you and your guests are hankering for — shredded cheeses, sliced meats, vegetables, whatever.

The trick is to mix and “knead” the dough in a food processor rather than by hand. It’s quicker and cleaner that way. And as long as you measure the ingredients accurately (going by weight, not volume) and don’t add very hot water, this dough is failure-proof.

This recipe makes enough dough for six 9- to 10-inch pizzas. You’re welcome to invite more adventurous guests to roll out and top their own dough. Otherwise, roll out the dough ahead of time and pre-bake the crusts for them, which speeds up the final cooking time. Pre-baking the crusts also makes them even crispier than usual.

For years, I found stretching out pizza dough to be a pretty frustrating process. I’d roll it out in one direction and it would spring right back at me. I’d roll it in another direction and the same darn thing would happen. Then one day a Sicilian pal of mine passed along her mother’s method: she rolled it out on a counter that was lightly oiled, but not dusted with any flour. Eureka! In this scenario, the dough doesn’t roll back; it sticks to the counter. In just a few rolls, you’re looking at a perfectly round, perfectly thin pizza shell.

One last note: Encourage your guests to avoid making Dagwood-style pizzas. Piling on too many toppings sogs up the crust. Stick to the amounts I’ve recommended and everyone will end up with his own excellent personal pizza. In fact, chances are the pizza will turn out better than the game.

By Sara Moulton 

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Swallow Hill Music rocks with summer camps House of Rock, Belt it Out and Explore Music!

Summer’s almost here! And at Swallow Hill Music, we couldn’t be more excited for this summer. We offers a variety of quality summer camps for kids ages 6-18 where they can hone their musical curiosity with other campers and our incredible, passionate instructor faculty. As a parent of a House of Rock camper recalled, “the instructor’s passion for working with kids is outstanding and really shines through. My son said this was one of the top weeks of his life!” 

We offer three different music camps, House of Rock, Belt It Out, and Explore! Music. In each of these camps, campers are actively participating in hands-on learning and making some great friendships at the same time!

 swallowhillAs the House of Rock camp enters its 8th summer, teens ages 13-18 look forward to learning the basics of playing in a band while visiting an array of music across numerous rock decades. Instructor Chad “Chadzilla” Johnson’s enthusiasm is infectious and he brings out the rocker in every camper.

In Belt It Out campers ages 10-13 will conquer stage fright and learn the keys of technique by performing contemporary pop music. Instructor Barry Brown is warm, thoughtful and caring. He helps even the shyest camper come out of his or her shell and helps them shine!

In Explore! Music, children ages 6-9 learn the fundamentals of music while the instructors incorporate movement activities and crafts throughout each day. Explore! Music has a variety of instructors so that the camper-instructor ratio is small, creating a warm, friendly and safe environment.

The best part, all summer camps include a performance component at the end of each camp so participants can show off the skills they’ve learned throughout the week. One parent recalls, “my son still remembers the songs and sings his favorite one every day. Thank you for a fantastic experience! We are so appreciative!”

At Swallow Hill Music, we believe that anyone can be a musician, regardless of age, aspiration or ability. We also offer tuition assistance to qualifying families so that even financial circumstances don’t stand in the way.

Summer camps at Swallow Hill Music are held MondayFriday, generally from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Swallow Hill Music offers camps at two of its locations, at Yale Avenue in Denver and in Lowry on the Colorado Free University Campus. Register today at In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

How do I handle the bad behavior of my kids’ friends?

Dear Mama Drama:

Hope it’s okay I’m a dad.

My wife and I have a 4 year old in preschool and have recently been struggling with whom our little guy is friends. There is one particular boy at school that we feel is a bad influence from whom our son seems to be picking up bad habits. Should we let his teacher know and perhaps ask them to not allow them to spend so much time together throughout the day?

(photo credit)

We even have the kid’s mother now asking for play dates and we’re not sure if we should encourage our son to hang out with this other little boy. Are we being too protective and controlling?  What would your advice be for encouraging our son to hang out with nicer, more well-behaved kids?

Thanks ~ Flustered Father

Bedtime study: Let sleeping kids lie; 90% sleep-deprived

Established rules and routines help children get age-appropriate sleep amounts, according to the 2014 National Sleep Foundation’s “Sleep in the Modern Family” Poll, released Jan. 26.

While most parents endorsed the idea of the importance of sleep, 90 percent of children did not sleep the full amount of time recommended for their age group, researchers found.

Consequences of poor sleep among children and adolescents include behavioral problems, impaired learning and school performance, sports injuries, problems with mood and emotional swings and a worsening of health-related issues, including obesity, researchers found.

Evidence also indicates adolescents’ lack of sleep could be associated with substance abuse, suicidal behaviors and driving while drowsy.

The poll’s prime objective was to get a picture of sleep in families with at least one school-age child. CLICK TO  KEEP READING

I Dropped the F- Bomb and Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yes. I dropped the “F” bomb. As in: right in front of my five-year-old. I came home one evening from work and decided to help Husband with the most important part of the dinner: open and pour the wine. As I walked back and forth around the kitchen, I did not bother to read the label on the wine. I only realized upon swiftly and expertly opening the bottle, I was dealing with a sparkling Moscato. As I watched-and felt, mostly- in horror as the Moscato got sprayed all over my face, dress and kitchen floor, I let out a heart-felt, totally-mean-it, “F%%&&K!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I got THE look from Husband and yes, you guessed it,  from the noisy five-year-old, who asked for an explanation.  Now we know the word “FF%%&&K” is a Romanian word (I’m Romanian-American) and our teeth will fall out if we ever repeat it.

Despite what the title may lead you to believe, this is not about me as a parent. No, the story was just an intro to how we are put in awkward situation by our kids. You know, with their quick-wit and honest demeanor, say-it-as-it-is attitude. They can make us parents look bad.

Last Halloween I imposed the same rule I always do: only two candies per kid and only before 8:30 p.m. After the kids brought the candy home and ate their share, they went upstairs (their cousins were here visiting from England) and I decided to lighten up the heavy load. I dove into my favorite Kit Kats (they are amazing with Malbec, if you ever wonder). As my son Matei came down, he immediately noticed some candies were missing (freaking pint-size Raymond Babbit) and asked if I had eaten some. I responded with a high-pitched “no.” I hadn’t realized I gave birth to Sherlock Holmes. He found the wrappings in the trash, picked ‘em up, put ‘em in my face and asked mockingly if the candies have eaten themselves. Mr. Sarcastic. Luckily for him, my intellectual prowess was greatly affected by the Malbec at the time, otherwise I am positive I would have come up with a smart, witty, put-you-in-your-place comment.

Two years ago I was running late for some year-end school party for my daughter Ella. As I got home (from work), Husband angrily told me I was late for Ella’s “graduation.”As in from 3-year old to the 4-year-old same exact class and location. I didn’t know what that meant though at the time and I felt horrible. I broke down in tears and as I was driving fast towards graduation, I kept saying:”I am a bad mother, I am a bad mother.” My eldest must have felt bad for me, because he gently said:” Mom, you are not usually a bad mom. Only today you are a bad mom.”  Awww, thanks, sweetheart.

Take my trip to Minnesota three years ago as another example. MotherInLaw, five-year-old Matei and myself flew out to Minnesota for the christening of my niece, Jada. As the flight attended came by, I hesitated for merely half-a-second as I was trying to decide if I wanted a ginger ale or water, when Matei loudly said: “Mom, just order your Sangria, you drink that every day anyway.” Plastered waxy smile on my face, I ignored my noisy neighbor and haughtily asked for the water. MotherInLaw leaned over the seat and gave me THE look (yes, it runs in the family). (Luckily, since then, MotherInLaw joined me on the good side and now favors Margaritas and Moscatos. Coincidentally, she also became more relaxed and funny).

I have curly, coarse, long hair.  During the week, I usually tame it with a curling iron so that it can be presentable. But in the weekends, I go pretty care-free and let my hair air-dry. Few weeks ago, as I was coming down the stairs for breakfast, Matei took couple of steps back, protectively put his hands in front of his eyes, turned his head away and said: “Whoa, mom. CURLS.” I had a fleeting thought of packing his bags and sending him to Siberia.

And then there is the time when Matei unexpectedly asked me about the process of giving birth to him and his sister. I was completely unprepared. The Husband was conveniently travelling to China at the time. I could not think of a birds-and-the-bees analogy, so I blurted out the truth. We were both traumatized, me more than him, especially after he let out a long “eeeewwwwwww” and ran upstairs to explain it to his much younger sister. Needless to say, I had to deal with my youngest, a daughter, who came downstairs and demanded to know if when she will have a baby in her tummy, it will come out the same um, avenue. Thankfully, after two G&T vitamins, I found my confidence again and made it through the evening with great parental pride. I sincerely hope I will be the one traveling to China when they demand to know how they got in my tummy to begin with. Daddy did it, Daddy explain it.

Up until last year, I used to cook. About three times a week. The kids  liked my cooking. I was their superhero. Until Husband decided to steal my cap and start cooking these amazing gourmet dinners, you know, home-made risottos and chianti ribs (by the way, nobody told me the ribs were supposed to be cooked in the chianti, not with the chianti, so Husband got unfairly mad at me when the bottle went missing) and other amazing dishes our kids love. I decided one weekend I shall mark my territory again (no, not like that). So I made bacon with eggs. Ella threw her fork and told me I should never cook again, because even the bacon tastes better when her daddy cooks it. Same day, I bought a voodoo doll who bared a striking resemblance to her daddy.

All of us women need a little bit of encouragement and support, don’t we? It doesn’t matter where it comes from, but it is carries so much weight when it comes from your own flesh and blood. Last week, I went with Husband on a date night, and headed to a great Mexican restaurant. Since the burrito was giant, I decided to easy it down with couple of Margaritas. I came home and as I was having a shower with Ella, she looked at me and asked: “Mommy, do you have a baby in your tummy? You look like So-and-So’s mommy, who is going to give So-and-So a little brother.” No, I do not, but I am tempted to take my youngest offspring back and trade her  for a better model.

I would love to provide a moral of the story, but alas, this is just the beginning. My two Einsteins are near-by, conspiring, I am sure, to make our lives more challenging. And yet, you guessed it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Anca is a Romanian-American, Chinese language double-major (it is true). PR professional from Littleton.  She is married with two kids, Matei (ten) and Ella (seven-going-on-15). Being told quite often by the said seven-going-on-15 year old that she will be FIRED (“fired” do you hear me??) from her job as a mom, Anca often takes it to writing to express the joys of parenthood. Which are often enhanced by the Malbec.

Denver Deal: Avalanche, Smile Day, Lift Ticket Deals and More

Nothing makes me feel happier than knowing that I help other moms get a great deal. Honestly, there is a ton to do in Denver that is pretty cheap (inexpensive for those of you who find offense in the word cheap) or even for FREE. And surprisingly there are fun things that aren’t too expensive in the mountains too! The kids and I will be heading up to Breckenridge this weekend for the Snow Sculpture Championships. Teams come from all over the globe to shape giant blocks of snow into amazing sculptures. The sculptures are FREE to view and it is a fun field trip for the family to visit one of the coolest little towns we have in Colorado. When we are there we can also ride the gondola for FREE and see other parts of the mountain!

Rocky Mountain Sitters. Are you looking for reliable, college-educated babysitters or nannies? Rocky Mountain Sitters provides families with kind, experienced caregivers who have been personally interviewed and background checked. If you want to ensure your babysitter has a passion for working with children, try out Rocky Mountain Sitters. Mile High Mamas is offering an exclusive discount: Use the promo code “RMS” for your first month free!

Tykester. Do you hate being away from your young kids? Tykester is a newly-launched FREE app that is a super easy and fun way for childcare providers and parents to stay connected.Parents get real-time updates on their children, instead of waiting for a paper daily sheet or a conversation when they arrive to pick them up.The best news is Tykester isn’t just for working moms with kids in daycare and users run the gambit—from grandparents, aunts and uncles to deployed military to weekend babysitters to truly anyone who wants to get updates about your child. Tykester is also doing a giveaway for a $100 VISA gift card for anyone who downloads the free app.

Cinderella at the Denver Center. February 3 before the show Cinderella at the Denver Center. Ticketed guests can take advantage of fun kids events in the lobby (starting at 6 p.m.) and participate in the Q&A after the 7 p.m. show. In addition, with the purchase of each adult entrée, kids receive one free kids’ meal off of the kids’ menu at Hard Rock Cafe. Dinner reservations: 303.623.3191

Winter on the Mountain at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Winter brings dazzling lights and magical adventures as Glenwood Caverns
Adventure Park turns into a winter wonderland full of fun. Enjoy 500,000 lights adorning the park, one of the largest holiday light displays in Western Colorado! Also, for the first time both the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride and the Alpine Coaster will be lighted for evening rides. And there is holiday lighting inside the King’s Row cave section, making the tour even more colorful. Get 50% off using Mile High Mamas’ Winter Funday Pass MHMAMA14.

Starbucks. The Starbucks “treat receipt” is back. They are now offering a yummy pastry for just $1 when you bring that morning’s receipt back to a Starbucks after 2 p.m. (Through Monday, February 2).

Give Kids A Smile Day. Dental offices across Colorado join forces on February 6 to Give Kids A Smile. Kids have to be under 17 years old, your family must be low income and not have dental insurance, you must get your own transportation and arrive to your appointment on time. Visit the Colorado Dental website at for more information. 

Ski Deals. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Make sure to check out our round-up of deals. Also the deadline for the 5th and 6th grade passport from Colorado Ski Country deadline is January 31.

Grand Adventures. Grand Adventures is a Snowmobile Tour and Rental Company with the only tour in Grand County to the top of the Continental Divide up 12,000 ft!Go with a guide or get maps and explore on your own. They have 4 locations to choose from all with a variety of terrain for beginner to advanced riders. Try out our location in Grand Lake, The Snowmobile Capital Of Colorado and drive your snowmobile to local restaurants and shops. Great for all ages and abilities – super fun with the kids! (970) 726-9247

Lift Ticket Deals. When you visit a Smashburger purchase an Entrée and a Drink get a two-for-one certificate for Winter Park. Fill up (10 gallons or more) at a Shell gas station you can get a coupon good for a buy one get one free ticket at Winter Park, Copper, Loveland and more. Liftopia has some of the best deals for skiing on Super Bowl Sunday! Plus, since most of the lifts stop at 4 p.m. you can make it back in time for the big game.

Avalanche Family Night. Want something fun to do for the whole family at a discount? Try going to an Avalanche hockey game during a Family Night. For just $119 you get four tickets, four Pepsi’s, and four meals. The next one is January 30.


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.

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.



The Great Ear Piercing: Why This Rite of Passage is Painful (On Many Levels)

I recently had a conversation with a friend about getting her daughter’s ears pierced and it brought back a flood of memories.

Once upon a time, I was only kidding when I said the following to my daughter:

“Hey, Sweetie. Do you think you want to try to get your ears pierced again?”
“Yes, Mom. I think I am ready.”

Ready for what? Another meltdown that resulted in my anxiety attack?

I haven’t had an iron-clad rule like some parents when my child should get her ears pierced. I had mine done in kindergarten and we made the same attempt a few years ago when my daughter was the same age during a family visit to Canada. I was rather indifferent when my sister-in-law Jane suggested it and my daughter was game so we headed over to the mall.

But then she saw The Devil’s Gun that was aimed at her virgin lobe.

Our first mistake was not returning when there were two staffers who could shoot the gun synchronously at each ear. The second mistake was being there in the first place.

An hour later, we emerged from that store with a traumatized mother and a hysterical kid who only got half an ear pierced (a feat only achieved by a Tasmanian devil whirlwind). Since that time, she developed an irrational fear of needles and two people needed to hold her down during immunizations shots.

As the Great Ear Piercing approached, her apprehension rose and the night prior, she had a nightmare that they refused to pierce her ears because she didn’t have curly hair. As a possessor of curly locks, I deemed such “discrimination” would be my dreamland.

The next day we went to Colorado Mills and I told her she was in charge. “I want to get my ears pierced,” she brazenly told the staffer at Claire’s. The women swiftly seated her, let her pick out her starter earrings and I choked down the cost of her diamond 5 mm selection. I was now invested on many levels.

“Now, as soon as I open these earrings, you can’t back out,” she warned my daughter.
“OK,” she squeaked, her confidence faltering.

A darling 2-year-old stood waiting for her turn, marveling at us. I turned to the parents. “I’d strongly advise you not to let her see this. It may get ugly.”

It’s best not to prematurely traumatize the littles.

They ushered her away, my daughter grabbed my hand in a death-grip, the staffers positioned themselves, counted down and shot. After three years of build-up, I braced myself for the fallout and then there was…nothing. No scream. No meltdown. Just pain, shock and then jubilation.

She let go of my throbbing hand. “Are they really pierced?” she inquired.

“You did it,” I whispered, beaming with pride she had overcome a major fear. As far as I was concerned, those diamond earrings were as good as gold.

And almost as expensive. But I’ll take it.

Do you have an ear-piercing policy and minimal age?

Video: The Mother ‘Hood Puts an End to Playground Judgment

There’s something going down on the playground and it ain’t always pretty.

Of course, we know that everyone has their own way of parenting but this video produced by Similac is a reminder we’re all on the same side.  #SisterhoodUnite

Kitchen Remodel: 10 survival tips to get you through the process

Here’s the deep dark secret that the kitchen-remodeling websites and magazines don’t want you to know: Between the before and after photos, you live in a house with no kitchen. For weeks, more likely months.

And that’s not a pretty picture.

My own kitchen remodel involved time on a ladder scraping away popcorn, doing my own painting and cabinet assembly and literally herding cats, not to mention all the major and minute decisions I had to make.

Here are the 10 survival tips I learned along the way.

1. Undergo triage

When you pack up, sort your kitchen gear into three categories: storage; temporary kitchen; and toss/donate/recycle. This task can be done over time, with the final items leaving the kitchen the night before demolition begins.

Give the boxes going to storage detailed labels so you can locate things you discover you need later — because in a remodeling process, you never know when “later” might be. Put them somewhere safe, but not the garage (see Tip 8).

2. Set up a temporary kitchen

My fridge moved into the dining room, where it was joined by the toaster oven, electric kettle and countertop microwave. Your small appliances may include an electric grill, skillet or slow cooker.

Prepare essential foods and a small set of dishes and utensils, packed in plastic tubs with lids to keep the dust off. My solution was an under-bed box with a hinged lid that sat on my dining- room table, where we could get at silverware, utensils and small items like coffee cups.

Allocate yourself only the amount of dishes that you are willing to wash by hand in one session.

Which leads us to…

3. Have a dishwashing strategy

The best thing about my brand-new kitchen was the sink. I don’t mean because the new sink was wonderful, though it was. No, it was just the return of any kitchen sink. Having to go outdoors or upstairs to rinse vegetables, dump out cold tea, fill the cats’ water dish, or clean paintbrushes got old very quickly.

Doing dishes in the bathtub meant having to move a rack of dishes whenever my daughter wanted to shower. We ended up using the powder-room/mudroom sink, with the tub of dirties on the commode and the dish-rack on the washing machine.

If you have a utility sink, count yourself lucky, unless it’s in the garage (see Tip 8).

4. Control the dust and chaos

To keep dust down, your contractor should cover carpets and floors and hang plastic sheeting around the demo site, weighted with scrap lumber or taped to the floor. It won’t work very well, but it’s better than nothing. Microfiber cloths or a feather duster do a good job of picking up drywall dust.

Remove anything you don’t want bumped or broken from the route that workers will take between the kitchen and outside and the bathroom.

5. Have a plan for pets

Set up somewhere safe for them, out from underfoot, with food and water and a soft place to sleep. If your dog isn’t crate-trained and/or you don’t own a crate, invest the little bit of time and money necessary in both; there may be times the crate is needed, or that your dog may want to retreat into it.

If your dog or cat normally has free access to the outdoors, and that access involves the kitchen, this will take more planning.

6. Buy some of your own tools

Even if someone is doing all the work for you, you’ll want the following items:

• A decent drill, tape measure and stepladder.

• If you’re building flat-pack cabinets yourself, get a brad nailer for the small nails that secure the backs of your cabinets to the frames. My contractor, Frank Berta of Craftsman Renovators, let me know such a thing existed — right after I had pounded in all those tiny little nails, by hand, with a tack hammer.

• Plastic sheeting and tape.

• Heavy-duty garbage bags (you might see them labeled as “contractor bags”).

• A tub for dirty dishes.

• Lottery tickets, for when you just want to move to Hawaii until it’s all over.

7. Understand the domino theory

For an illustration of “As long as we’re doing X, we might as well do Y,” consider Karen and Brian Larsen of Westminster.

Their built-in microwave stopped working. The new microwave didn’t fit the hole, and if the cabinets had to be replaced, why not remove the soffits — the lowered ceiling above the cabinets in some houses — at the same time?

The appliance store was closing, so they got great deals on all new appliances, and then … the new countertop didn’t match the old tile floor. So the time to put in a bigger patio door was before the new floor went in, and then they found the ant infestation.

Thus does a $300 microwave turn into a completely overhauled kitchen.

But wait, there’s more! “We loved our new kitchen so much,” Karen Larsen said. “And then we turned around and noticed how shabby the rest of the house looked,” and a fresh set of projects ensued.

Karen’s advice: “Don’t turn around.”

8. Kiss your garage goodbye

Mine became a workshop, lumberyard, cabinet assembly line, toolshed, warehouse for new appliances, graveyard for old appliances and place for Frank to take phone calls and eat lunch.

It filled up with sawdust and tile dust, so cover or move all the things you don’t want to get dusty. Relocate stuff you’ll need, or you’ll find yourself climbing over piles of Ikea cabinet doors to get your pruners and garden gloves, like I did. (Yes, that does mean you should probably clean out your garage before the whole process begins.)

9. Lower your food standards

After my attempt at brewed coffee left grounds from one end of the bathtub to the other, I discovered that those Starbucks Via instant coffee packets are pretty good.

Sandwiches, cereal, toast, fruit, yogurt and salads are nourishing and easy. Take-and-bake pizza works great on the grill. Ice cream on a stick doesn’t dirty a bowl. You get the idea.

10. Be excellent to one another

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it stands to reason that a home without a kitchen can be a tense place.

Add to that tension strange people, noises, smells and interruptions in power, water and even Internet service (yes, Mr. Electrician, I do need that land line) and you can see that inevitably, at some point in the remodeling process, there will be a fight.

Breathe. Forgive.

Whatever you do, don’t forget that remodeling is temporary — but family is forever.

By Lisa Greim