background img

Talking with Camp Staff about Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Even if you have already enrolled your child in camp, it’s not too late to talk with the camp director about child sexual abuse prevention. Make sure prevention is not only on the director’s radar, but that there are policies and practices in place.

 Three Questions Every Parent Should Ask

If you ask nothing else, ask these questions of camp directors:

  1. Beyond background checks, what is the screening process for new hires?
  2. What kind of child sexual abuse prevention training do you offer staff and volunteers?
  3. What specific policies are in place to minimize the risk of child sexual abuse at your camp?

Look for camps that have a three-part staff interview process:  Background checks, personal interviews, and reference checks. Ideally, interviews should include questions about counselors’ boundaries with children and a discussion of the camp’s zero tolerance of sexual abuse.

Camps typically provide orientation for staff. Find out if and how the orientation includes training about child sexual abuse prevention. The training should dispel common myths about sexual abuse, introduce body-safety policies, cover how sexual abusers groom children, and identify warning signs that someone is abusing or being abused.

When it comes to policies, make sure there is a rule for adults spending time alone with children (two adults to one child); appropriate and inappropriate touch of children by adults – and by other children. If your child is going to a sleep-away camp, also ask about showering policies and sleeping arrangements.

If you’re new at asking these kinds of questions, consider these words of encouragement from Tommy Feldman, Founder and Director of Altogether Outdoors Summer Camps, who says, “Please don’t hesitate to ask any camp director questions so you can be confident that child sexual abuse is on the camp’s radar.”

Inviting Camp Counselors onto Your Prevention Team

You may not have a chance to talk with the camp counselor until the first day of camp, but nonetheless, this conversation is also important because the counselor(s) interacts most directly with your child.

  1. How do you monitor older kids mentoring/spending time with younger kids?
  2. What are the situations where a counselor might be alone with a child?
  3. How would you handle a situation if you saw a child exploring sexually with another child? What if one of the children was coercing the other child vs. exploring?

Thirty to 50 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by youth, so it’s important to discuss policies for older kids spending time with younger kids. Just as a counselor should never be alone with a child, an older camper should not be spending time one-on-one with a younger camper either.

Inviting camp staff onto your prevention team is a conversation – an extension of the safety conversations you’re probably already having about other topics.

 The main objective here is to make your presence knowni.e., “I am Audrey’s Mom,” which also means, “I am Audrey’s Mom and I am paying attention.”

How to Start the Conversation

You might start the conversation by letting the counselor know that you talk with all of your child’s caregivers about body safety and that you’d like to share your child’s body-safety rules – i.e., that your child doesn’t keep secrets from you and has permission to tell you about anything that makes him/her worried or uncomfortable. I also recommend that parents tell camp caregivers that their children know that they are the boss of their body. In addition, I advise you to tell the counselor that while your children know to follow adult rules, they also have permission to say “No,” and tell an adult if someone makes an unsafe request.

An aunt I spoke with enrolled her niece and nephew in a week-long day camp. She had already spoken to the central office, but wanted to connect directly with the counselors on day one.

“As I was waiting in line to talk with the counselor, I looked across the field and saw the public restroom, which reminded me to ask about bathroom policies and accompanying kids to the bathroom. When I got the counselor’s attention, I asked him about the rules for adults taking children to the bathroom. He told me that kids went in pairs, and a counselor would never be alone with a child. I felt good that there was a policy in place and that I had the courage to have the conversation.”

If you’re wondering how to confidently get a conversation about body-safety off the ground, check out Parenting Safe Children Conversation-Starter Cards. The cards offer language for starting a conversation about expectations, boundaries and body-safety rules. You can carry the cards with you hand them out to counselors as you bring up the conversation.parenting

 Feather Berkower, LCSW, is founder of the Parenting Safe Children workshop and co-author of Off Limits, a parenting book that will change the way you think about keeping kids safe. Since 1985, Feather has educated over 100,000 schoolchildren, parents, and professionals. She makes a difficult topic less scary, and empowers parents and communities to keep children safe. 


Know Your Dog’s DNA? Wisdom Panel Can Help!

We do genetic testing on our human babies to ensure they are as healthy as possible, but what about our fur babies? Have you ever wondered what breed your dog actually is? This information goes way beyond questioning why your pup looks or acts a certain way. Understanding the breeds that make up your dog enables targeted care and in some cases provides lifesaving information for your furry family member!

 dogsKnowing your dog’s genetics is important for a few reasons. Some genetic information can indicate health issues, and it can also be important to help you know what health issues to watch for. It can also help you develop an appropriate diet and exercise plan for your dog with its breed health concerns in mind.

Mars Veterinary understands dogs are family. That’s why they’ve launched the latest version of their canine DNA test (Wisdom Panel® 3.0), which now includes expanded breed screening coverage and additional medical applications such as MDR1 Genetic Mutation screening.

Never heard of MDR1? Here’s why you should know to look out for it! MDR1 or Multi-Drug Resistance 1 is a genetic mutation found in some herding, sighthound and mixed-breed dogs and can be responsible for adverse reactions to some medications. Knowing this ahead of time can be a life saving step before administering certain medications.

For more information on MDR1 Genetic Mutation screening, see Wisdom Panel’s MDRI screening page.

How does a canine DNA test work?

dog1The canine DNA test can be performed at home, and involves swabbing your dog’s gum line for 15 seconds then sending it in to the lab. You’ll get the results a few weeks later. The cost of shipping in your swab is included in the price of the kit, which you can get at Wisdom Panel’s site.

Your dog’s DNA information is checked against a growing database of DNA information (over 10,000 samples) – the more information, the more accurate the results. The Wisdom Panel test now covers over 250 breeds (including mixes), in addition to some medical screenings.

For testimonials and inspirational stories, watch the following videos about Rocco who was previously tested using Wisdom Panel:

Visit Them!

 Wisdom Panel will visiting the GoPRO Mountain Games in Vail, CO  (June 4 – 7) . Benefits of going to an event? You’ll also be able to get a kit at a discounted rate ($49.99, regularly $84.99), or test your dog on site for a discounted rate ($39.99).


To learn more about Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel & events, check out their site and follow their updates on social media. Web:  | Facebook | Twitter @WisdomPanel | Instagram: @WisdomPanel | Pinterest: @WisdomPanel

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0.

Lending a hand to the sky ~ Musings on mothering a graduating child

The western mountains were sandwiched by clouds this morning. The row of peaks was obscured by chalky grey banks of opaque clouds, no doubt packed with snow. I could see the middle elevations clearly. Along the foothills—the base of mountains—were stark white cloud balls. They looked like the trim on Santa’s hat. It was beautiful and I wished I could have pulled off the road to snap pictures. The shoulder was too saturated. If I stopped, I might never get going again. It’s been raining here for nearly a week and that is highly unusual.

When I arrived home, I didn’t go inside right away. The rain stopped briefly, so I decided to survey my front garden. Nothing is blooming yet, but the green leafy parts are thriving. They love this rain. Some of my plants have doubled in size in the past week. So much to guzzle! Earthworms everywhere, including on one of my boys. He found a worm on the leg of his jeans this morning, curled and somehow clinging to the denim. He plucked it off and tossed it into the mud amazed. How?

He doesn’t stand still long enough for a worm to charge up shoes and pants. Maybe it dropped from a tree? Maybe a robin passing overhead slipped up and let her breakfast go? The worm has a wild story to tell.

Near the edge of the driveway, I stood looking down at a billowing pile of bright green chicks and hens. Tears formed. As if there hasn’t been enough moisture dropping from the heights, I lent a hand to the sky and let loose. I cried on my coat and on my shoes. I cried over the concrete, my nose launching droplets earthbound. Massive life changes are just around the corner of next week. Aidan is graduating from high school and it’s been a long, tough year but she is going to make it. The level of bewilderment I feel is unprecedented. I had no idea what it would be like to be the mother of the grown-up almost-graduate. I suspect that moment her name is called and she strides across a stage to accept her diploma I will be left a bit tattered—in a good way. But I don’t know because I’ve never been here before.

graduate2015Neither has she. Perhaps these last days of school are being perfectly and completely sheltered by the hood of grey above, quieting us with rhythmic splashing taps, stirring us with crashes of thunder, lulling us to deep sleep. Maybe it’s all a reminder to drink, drink, drink these days in as if we, too, are thirsty earth.

Yesterday, I saw blue sky for about twenty minutes. I stepped outside to the back patio and spun like Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis.

Within that dizzy hour, sog, sop, slop, slip, drip, drop, droop.

I went to bed early and without apologies. Before I fell asleep, Aidan came into my room and climbed up on the bed. She rested against the headboard. Archie joined us. She said, “Tell us a story, Archie!” and he did. I listened to him but I watched her laugh when he laughed at his own cleverness. She looked grown-up.

A few minutes later, I startled awake. Archie was kissing my forehead and Aidan was gone. “Goodnight, mama!” he whispered.

Winning Wednesday: Win tickets to the Butterfly Pavilion!

 Butterfly Pavilion is the zoo of small wonders and BIG experiences! Journey through their new and improved Crawl-a-See-Em, hold Rosie, touch a starfish and make your way through our Tropical Rainforest with 1,600 fluttering butterflies! They are the first stand-alone and second invertebrate zoo to become accredited by AZA!

What’s fun, new or fabulous at Butterfly Pavilion this summer?

This summer is jam packed with fun at the Butterfly Pavilion! Butterfly Pavilion is turning 20 this year, so they are gearing up our summer camps, adult programs, tasting series, and their annual events to make them better than ever! This summer they are preparing to open a new exhibit: Invertebrate World, coming in July. Invertebrate world will take you on an adventure and teach you why invertebrates are so valuable to healthy natural areas. Check out their website for special summer discounts like their five dollar days or our 20th birthday discounts.

Summer hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., doors close at 4:15 p.m. Open 7 days a week.

invertibrateTicket prices:

Adults: $11.00; Adult-Westminster Resident * $900; Seniors (65+) $9.00; Children (2-12) $6;  Children under 2 FREE.

Address: 6252 W. 104th Ave Westminster, CO 80020

Phone: (303) 469-5441




Denver Deal: Free Movies, Favor, and Rocky Mountain National Park

You can thank me for stopping the rain. I finally broke down and purchased an umbrella (my kids had played a bad version of Mary Poppins with my other one and it broke). I had said that once I purchase it – the rains would stop. Either that or wash my car.

Free summer activities are pretty much a given here in Denver. From free concerts to cheap movies and more – there are tons of free/cheap things to do this summer! (A free concerts schedule is coming soon). Summer also means playing with toys and Toys is the newest exhibit at History Colorado Center. Remember Gumby, Barbie, Slinky, Mr. Potato Head, WhamO, Spirograph, and Hot Wheels? 

Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain National Park is celebrating 100 years with special events, educational series, live music and more. There are several hotel discounts (buy 2 nights get the third free). 

Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The Museum will have a FREE day on Sunday, May 30. 

Favor. An app called Favor launches in Denver this week. Have you ever longed to have an extra set of hands to run and pick up that whatever? Favor connects customers with personal assistants, called runners, who will pick up and deliver anything, from burritos to iPhone chargers to frisbees, in under an hour. The Denver opening has a limited rollout including: Five Points, Capitol Hill, Ballpark, Auraria, North, River North Art District, Washington Park, Baker, and Cherry Creek.  To celebrate the Denver launch, Favor will be giving all first-time customers a free delivery. Use promo code “MILEHIGH” on checkout to waive the $6 delivery fee. Customers in Denver can share their invite codes with friends to both give and earn free deliveries.

Movies at Infinity Park. Watch movies on the big screen at Infinity Park. This summer’s line-up is great. Mark your calendars and make Monday’s at Infinity Park a summer event. Pack up the family, a picnic basket and a blanket and get there early. Gates open at 7pm and movie starts at 8pm. June 1 – Big Hero 6; June 15 – Night at the Museum; June 29 – Despicable Me 2; July 13 – Princess Bride; July 27 – How to Train Your Dragon; August 10 – Remember the Titans. 

Alamo Draft House. Alamo Draft House at Aspen Grove in Littleton is offering cheap movies this June through August. Choose your own price ($1-$3 per ticket) for their Kids Camp movies. Plus, the proceeds of the ticket price will be donated to local charities. Each movie shows at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. The line-up includes: June 2015 – Despicable Me; Mary Poppins; The Land Before Time; Night at the Museum; July 2015 – Charlotte’s Web (2006); Chicken Run; Matilda; Muppets Most Wanted; August 2015 – Follow That Bird; How To Train Your Dragon 2; Kung Fu Panda 2; The Parent Trap (1961).

Childbirth Center Grand Opening. Would you like the comfort and security of a home while having professionals on-hand when you welcome your little one into the world? Welcome to Baby + Company, Wheat Ridge’s new childbirth center that not only offers a warm, comfortable place to welcome your little one into the world but also prenatal and post-baby support. They will be hosting a grand openingon Saturday, May 30 from noon-4 p.m. There will be food, prizes, children’s activities and gift bags for everyone who takes a tour.

Harkins Summer Movie Fun. Harkins Summer Movie Fun program for kids is back again this year. Kids can enjoy a movie a week for 10 weeks, for less than $1 per film. Make Harkins Summer Movie Fun for kids an annual tradition for your family. All adults must be accompanied by children.  Tickets are on sale now at participating locations. Movies this summer include: Boxtrolls, The Lorax, Rio 2, Dolphin Tale 2, Curious George, Nut Job, Puss in Boots, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Penguins of Madagascar.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading. Kids can earn a free book of their won from Barnes & Noble (one of my favorite stores) in three easy steps. Step 1: Read any 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal (PDF). Step 2: Bring the completed Reading Journal to your local B&N store. (Find a Store). then Step 3: choose a FREE BOOK from our selection on the Reading Journal list at the store… Enjoy reading!

Free Denver Walking Tours. On June 1 at 10 a.m., Denver parents, kiddos, and visitors alike will be able to see and experience downtown Denver in a new way. They’ll be able to take advantage ofDenver Free Walking Tours’ new two hour daily tours that start in Civic Center Park, wind through downtown past more than a dozen of Denver’s distinctive landmarks, and end in front of Coors Field. No reservations needed and tours are every day – rain, snow, or shine.  There’s no up-front cost for this fun, educational opportunity for kids and parents but tipping is strongly recommended. If you’d like a tour specifically geared to your kids, Denver Walking Tours offers group tours for a nominal charge so grab your friends for a fun day of learning this summer!


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.


My Daughter’s Future as a Mouseketeer

When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a great actress. That Annie character (actress Aileen Quinn) had nothin’ on me. Well, except that she could act. And dance. And sing. I enrolled in drama the first chance I could when I was in seventh grade.  My dreams of stardom would soon be realized.

Until I realized I hated acting.

Annette's pink Mickey ears

Annette’s pink Mickey ears

Well, I didn’t hate all elements of it but one in particular: improv. And this class was all about off-the-cuff acting.  Though I was an overly self-assured seventh grader, I was way too self-conscious about being funny on demand so after just one semester my acting career was over.

My daughter Hadley has enjoyed performing in her class plays at school and I thought that was the extent of it until she begged me to enroll her in Colorado ACTS, a local community theater, with her friend London.

I hemmed and hawed. I pulled my kids from their activities last winter so we could enjoy downtime together but finally relented. Performing in front of people is an excellent skill to have when so many struggle with public speaking. Plus, the class was only one night a week.

coloradoacts7I’m so glad I did because she had the time of her life  with Colorado ACTS, a small theater company with a big heart. Not only did she learn to sing, dance and act but the kids helped  to craft the script and costumes for their original production of “What’s so Fabulous About the ’50s?”  Lead character Ms. Oswald taught her class how fabulous the 1950’s were while answering the burning questions: Why is Rizzo in such an awful mood? Will Penny ever find out how to help her friend? Will Johnny ever B. Goode? 

For those few months, Hadley became a valued part of a theater family under the direction of 35-year theater veteran Jenn Sharp as they rehearsed their hearts out, had tech week and even a cast party. She’s already begging me to sign her up for their summer camps and again in the fall.

The confidence my daughter gained was a far cry from her first class, when each child had to decide upon their stage name from the 1950s (she was Mouseketeer Annette Funicello) and also write on a piece of paper whether they were willing to do a musical solo.

The other kids discreetly gave their answers but when it came her turn, Hadley dramatically declared:

“That would be a big, fat NO.”

Maybe there’s a future for her in theater after all.


dance1Colorado Acts has many awesome productions during the school year but be sure to also check-out their week-long summer camps for kids ages 8-18:

  • Frozen Tale of the North Camp June 8th-13th
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream June 15th-19th
  • Happy Birthday America! Stories of our Patriots  July 6th-10th ;  July 20th-24th.     
  • Young King Arthur July 6th-11th  
  • Beauty and the Beast July 13th-17th
  • Shining Stars: A Class for Differently-Abled Actors and Actresses with special needs  June 22-26; July 13-17;  July 27th-31st

Free Days June through December 2015

It may have been years since you went to one of our great institutions like the Denver Zoo or a museum (or maybe you saw them as you were chaperoning your kiddo’s class – which means between figuring out if you still have the right number of kids with you or taking bathroom breaks). But now is the opportunity to visit one of these great places for FREE! 

We do recommend that you reach out to the museum/location prior to going to ensure that nothing has changed in their calendar. 


Tuesday, June 2 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Friday, June 5 – Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, June 6 – Denver Art Museum

Monday, June 29 – Denver Museum of Nature & Science


Friday, July 3 – Four Mile Historic Park

Tuesday, July 7 – Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Saturday, July 11 – Denver Art Museum

Tuesday, July 21 – Denver Botanic Gardens

Sunday, July 26 – Denver Museum of Nature and Science



Saturday, August 1 – Denver Art Museum

Sunday, August 2 – Mizel Museum and Denver Firefighter’s Museum

Monday, August 3 – Colorado State Parks

Tuesday, August 4 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Botanic Gardens at Chatfield 

Friday, August 7 – Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, August 8 – Dinosaur Ridge Bird and Reptile Day (only $3 for anyone over 3)

Wednesday, August 12 – Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Tuesday, August 25 – National Park’s Entrance (Parks Service Day)

Monday, August 31 – Denver Botanic Gardens



Tuesday, September 1 – Molly Brown House and Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Friday, September 4 – Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, September 5 – Denver Art Museum and Grandparents (with their grandkids) at the Denver Firefighter’s Museum

Wednesday, September 9 – Denver Botanic Gardens

Saturday, September 12 – Denver Art Museum

Saturday, September 19 – Dinosaur Ridge event Geohazards & Preparedness plus Geocaching (small fee)

Thursday, September 24 – National Parks Entrance is Free (National Public Lands Day)



Friday, October 2 – Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, October 3 – Denver Art Museum

Tuesday, October 6 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Saturday, October 10 – Firefighter’s Museum

Monday, October 19 – Denver Museum of Nature & Science


Monday, November 2 – Denver Zoo

Tuesday, November 3 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Botanic Gardens at Chatfield 

Friday, November 6 –Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, November 7 – Denver Art Museum

Monday, November 9 – Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Wednesday, November 11 – National Parks Entrance is Free (Veterans Day) and Molly Brown House

Friday, November 13 – Denver Zoo and Denver Botanic Gardens

Saturday, November 14 – Denver Botanic Gardens

Thursday, November 19 – Denver Zoo


 Tuesday, December 1 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Friday, December 4 – Four Mile Historic Park

Saturday, December 5 – Denver Art Museum

Sunday, December 6 – Mizel Museum




Each Tuesday at 10 a.m., The Denver Center for the Performing Arts will release a limited number of $10 tickets. Ten seats for every Denver Center Theatre Company performance in the coming week will qualify (up to 25 shows per week). Use code SCFD.

Hudson Gardens is open daily. NO ADMISSION Fees.

Aurora History Museum is also free daily.

Denver Art Museum is now free for kids 18 and under daily. Adult free days are denoted above. 

Melissa’s Eats & Treats: Chocolate Brownie Chunk Ice Cream Recipe

Raise your hand if you love chocolate ice cream. Raise your hand if you love chocolate brownies. Now keep both those hands in the air for Chocolate Brownie Chunk Ice Cream, the perfect indulgence for any time of year!

This rich treat uses real chocolate for the ice cream base, with your favorite chocolate brownies completing the sinful combination. For maximum chocolate potency, be sure to use my recipe for Decadent Chocolate Brownies. They are thick and chewy, and even a small piece packs a big punch. Whichever recipe you choose, it’s best to use day-old (or older) brownies for the ice cream.

So find all the chocolate in your house, because you are going to need it. And that’s a good thing.

If you are intimidated by making ice cream, don’t be! Just read my article called Three Reasons Making Ice Cream is Easier Than You Think. And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you are really missing out! My favorite requires no salt and no ice (and you can get free two-day shipping!) For more great recipes, be sure to visit

[yumprint-recipe id=’69’] 

-Melissa Howell

Gardening for Dummies: Win Your Own Garden Plot from Urban Farm Company Plot ($350 value!)

When Bryant Mason reached out to me last year about partnering with his company, The Urban Farm Company, we exchanged a few emails but I got busy with summer travels and dropped the ball.  So, when he recently circled back about his company that teaches everything you need to know about growing your own organic garden–including installing and education–I jumped at the chance.

urban1His company’s passion is to make it as easy as possible for people to grow their own fresh, healthy food right in their backyard.  Got a picky eater who doesn’t like vegetables (who doesn’t?) There’s no better way than to involve them in gardening so they can see where their food comes from.

 As many of you know, my husband is a locally-renowned giant pumpkin grower. He spends all his time nurturing 1,500-pound beasts but our own personal garden? Doesn’t happen. The reason? I am in charge and though I was raised weeding and mowing, I never learned to garden. It’s overwhelming for a newbie, especially when you’re married to The Pumpkin Man who practically has a PhD. in growing and lacks patience.  Bryant practically saved our marriage when he showed up at our house riding his white steed driving his white truck chock-full of gardening tools and soil.

The Urban Farm Company installs raised bed organic vegetable gardens for homeowners using a great soil mix and simple gardening method that makes is easy for beginner gardeners to grow a lot of food in a small space. After someone gets a garden, they provide help and education throughout the season to ensure new gardeners are successful.

urban2How the Process Works:

  1. Go to their website and choose the number of gardens you want, and your add-ons
  2. You choose what vegetables you want to grow off their Veggie Menu (this was the fun part!)
  3. They come to your house and install your garden in a day. They do all the planting but made sure to involve my kids and me to see how it’s done.
  4. The day your garden is installed you start getting one email tip or reminder per week telling you exactly what to do through the season. They call it “foolproof” gardening. 

May and June are a great time to install a garden and Denver’s rainy spring, it’s not too late!  Whether your challenge is incompetence (me), rabbits, hail, or cold temperatures – The Urban Farm Co. pretty much has a solution to almost any issue a Colorado gardener could imagine. They can even come to your house beforehand to take sunlight measurements. You can join their Garden Club – a short email chain with 10 great garden tips.

The Pumpkin Man came out to survey Bryant’s work on our new garden. Before I knew it, they were embroiled in an in-depth conversation about soil. I chuckled when I read my husband’s pumpkin blog:  

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had arranged for Urban Farm Company to setup a planter box and soil for the garden.  I’ll have to admit and it may be a surprise, I don’t spend a lot of time in the garden but I felt my toes were being stepped on.  I wasn’t going to have some no-nothing guy with a few bags of worthless “garden soil” with chunks of wood in it set up my garden!
To my surprise, my experience with Bryant was exactly the opposite of what I expected.  He was my equal and very knowledgeable.  He pretty much setup the garden exactly the way I would have done it.  I think we talked soils and soil testing for over an hour, bouncing ideas off of each other.  The special blend of soil he put into my garden looks to be close to ideal and he spent the time showing my wife and kids just what to do.

Later, Bryant referred to my husband as “a genius.” It was like a geek gardener’s match made in heaven.


Mile High Mamas is giving away a 4’x4′ raised-bed garden from The Urban Farm Company (a $350 value!) You may enter as many five times and be sure to tell us why your gardening plot needs help! Note: They serve the entire front range Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, and everywhere in between.


Appreciating your teachers but not the “huffy” look

It’s first period and I’m teaching high schoolers. The end of class is near and I’m starting to worry if  each small group is going to get a chance to present what they’ve been working on.

There’s a commotion in the hallway. An entire class of middle schoolers, many of whom I teach on a different day, are waiting along with their teacher to get into my classroom.

I am annoyed.

I peek out and ask what’s going on. I’m told that they need to use my large room just for a moment to make a brief announcement.

I get huffy.

What!? Are you serious!? No one told me. I didn’t plan for this. How will I wrap up the class with 10 minutes less than should have? Aaaaaagh!

This is what I’m thinking in my head, and I’m afraid some of it shows as I mutter, “OK then. C’mon in,” and usher everyone in in a sarcastic flourish.

The interlopers fill the room, and the reason for their gathering soon becomes apparent. The high schoolers and middle schoolers want to honor…


One student hands me a tiara. A small speech is made by my fellow teacher, formerly known as Interrupter. Students form a line to one-by-one press their small notes of thanks into my palm. A young lady is chosen to read a poem that extolls my traits.

Huffiness was not among those listed.

I manage not to cry, and we all get a good laugh at how poorly I hid my irritation. Once class was over I was able to read through the notes and savor the poem. I was deeply touched by the kindness of my students and colleagues.

Soon, my school day was done and I ran an errand at the grocery store. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was still wearing my tiara.

I wore that SO much better than huffiness.


Lori Holden's book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open AdoptionLori Holden blogs from metro-Denver at Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole (written with her daughter’s birth mom), is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful gift for the adoptive families in your life.

Lori is also available to deliver her open adoption workshop to adoption agencies and support groups.