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Win a Night Out at White Fence Farm!

whitefenceWhite Fence Farm offers a full-service family dining restaurants that serving steaks, shrimp, fish, and their famous fried chicken and cornfritters. In addition to the beautiful landscaping and colonial-style building, kids will have fun on the playground or in the Mini Farm, or petting the animals in the “O.K. Corral.”

If they’re a bit older, perhaps they’ll be flying down the “pig chute,” a two-story slide that whisks them from the second to the first floor of the barn, or playing some pinball or classic arcade games in “The Silo.” The Americana Barn could provide an evening of entertainment in itself.

What’s New, Fun and Fabulous at White Fence Farm?

White Fence Farm opens the newly renovated, Granny’s, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor paying tribute traditional favorites. The ice cream shop  offers nostalgia candy, handmade fudge, decedent pies and malts.

The restaurant recently announced a partnership with the Platte Valley & Western Railway (PV&W) and the 2,000-square-foot model railroad will now be at home on the farm. The PV&W was previously housed for 30 years in the basement of Union Station.

 New hours at White Fence Farm means more option for fun. The farm will  now be open until 8:30 p..m nightly, as well as opening for lunch on Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. As always, White Fence Farm will offer nightly music and an array of family activities. The petting zoo is must-see during the summer season. 

 

summerhours
Address: 6263 W Jewell Ave, Lakewood, CO 80232; http://whitefencefarm-co.com/co/index-home.php.
 

Contest Closed. Congratulations to winner Kelly V.!

Dry Cleaning Goes Green for $1.99: Aurora Store Brings New Concept To Colorado In First Of Several Planned Locations

It’s no secret that parents are becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental concerns. In fact, in a 2014 National Environment Education Foundation study, 60 percent of adults said they keep up with environmental news and 53 percent now consider a cleaning product’s impact on the environment in their purchasing decisions.

 However, while parents often pay close attention to the cleaning chemicals they bring into their homes, many don’t consider the environment when they take their family’s clothes to the dry cleaner—but they should.

 Tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene or “perc”) is the predominant chemical solvent used in dry cleaning. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, perc is a toxic chemical with both human health and environmental concerns. Perc can contaminate the air, water and ground during the cleaning, purification, and waste disposal phases of dry cleaning and is known to be toxic to plants.

michelle1But now Denver-based consumers concerned about harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning have a new alternative. $1.99 Any Garment Cleaners has opened at 4018 S. Parker Rd. in Aurora at the intersection of Parker Road and Quincy. This is the first of several planned metro-Denver locations for this new concept, which is increasingly finding favor with consumers across the country. The company uses liquefied sand, or silicone, as its cleaning solvent rather than traditional dry cleaning chemicals and offers cleaning services at the same low-cost price for any garment.

“Our process uses liquefied sand, or silicone, which is non toxic, much less harsh on clothing and breaks down to what basically amounts to sand,” said Michelle Lange, owner of the new location in Aurora. “Yet, it does an amazing and equally effective job of cleaning as the much-harsher chemicals used at most dry cleaners. Since silicone is odorless, there’s no chemical smell left behind on clothes.”

 Unlike traditional dry cleaners, $1.99 Any Garment Cleaners doesn’t charge higher prices for garments based on size or complexity. Every garment, from a pair of slacks to a suit jacket or even a wedding gown costs the same $1.99 price per garment to clean. It’s a pricing model based on volume, Lange said, but it’s also based on what occurs during the cleaning process.

“Other dry cleaners won’t tell you, but they use the exact same process on every garment,” Lange explained. “So it’s interesting that there’s such a difference in what they charge for individual garments. Our pricing allows money-crunched families to take advantage of dry cleaning more often with more clothes, and use an environmentally safe process as well.”

The Aurora store is the first of several $1.99 Any Garment Cleaners locations planned for the Denver metro area and the first to combine environmental cleaning with the discount dry cleaning concept.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this new approach to dry cleaning. We like to call it ‘going green while saving green.’” said Lange. “It’s amazing how little most people know about the chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning, especially when people are spending so much money on it. We’re changing the entire equation with our concept.”

 $1.99 Any Garment Cleaners will hold a Grand Opening event on Saturday, Aug. 1 beginning at 10 a.m. All customers will receive a coupon for complimentary cleaning of five garments and there will be giveaways for tickets to the upcoming Dave Matthews Band concert, as well as opportunities to win free passes to the nearby 24 Hour Fitness. In addition, Aurora Animal Shelter will be onsite with pets available for adoption. For more information, call 303-680-1404 or visit www.cleangreendenver.com. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

 

Great Wolf Lodge Announces its First Colorado Resort

 Families in Colorado will soon have something new to howl about.

Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts, announced it is expanding its paw print to the Centennial State. Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will be a first-class destination resort, providing families with more than 380,000 square feet of entertainment offerings and lodging amenities to enjoy, all under one roof.

The centerpiece of the resort will be more than 65,000 square feet of indoor water park fun, the largest in the state. With signature Great Wolf Lodge water rides and attractions, including the thrilling five-story funnel slide, Howlin’ Tornado™; Slap Tail Pond® wave pool and Fort Mackenzie® – a multi-level interactive tree house with a massive tipping water bucket – the new resort will feature water fun for everyone.

“We are so excited to bring the Great Wolf Lodge brand to Colorado,” said Kim Schaefer, chief executive officer, Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., “As the leader in indoor water park resorts, we provide unique, year-round family getaways each and every day. The addition of Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will feature many of the amenities and activities our guests know and love, as well as several experiences new to our brand.”

albertafallsThe 311 guest suites will provide the perfect place for families to relax after a full day of water park play. Each suite will comfortably accommodate at least six people and include an in-room refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. Families can choose from several suite styles, including the kid-focused Wolf Den and KidCabin® suites, complete with bunk beds and theming featuring the Great Wolf Kids characters.

For true weatherproof, year-round fun, Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will feature dozens of entertainment options, all under one roof. Families will delight at the wide variety of activities found throughout the entire resort, perfect for children of all ages. Attractions and entertainment include:

 An indoor play park with over 33,000 square feet of fun complete with Howlers Peak Ropes Course®, a multi-level climbing attraction, and Howl in One indoor miniature golf;

 MagiQuest®, the brand’s exclusive live-action, interactive game that takes place throughout the lodge;

 Scooops® Kid Spa, the perfect place for ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures;

 Ten Paw Alley™ mini bowling;

 Daily children’s activities as part of the resort’s Great Wolf Kids program; and

 The Forest Friends Show and evening Story Time by the fireplace – a Great Wolf Lodge tradition that brings everyone together in their pajamas in the Grand Lobby each night.

Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will also feature several dining options and food outlets including the brand’s signature Lodge Wood Fired Grill® restaurant and bar Hungry as a Wolf® handcrafted pizza and pasta.

Access to Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs’ indoor water park is exclusive to resort guests, and included with each suite reservation. It will be located off I-25, 15 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs and less than an hour from Denver. The resort is expected to open in late 2016. For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its brands of indoor waterpark resorts, visit greatwolf.com/colorado-springs.

-Susan Storey

Family travel: 10 of Colorado’s most scenic waterfall hikes

Sometimes the best satisfaction at the end of a tough hike, besides that “ah, I’ve made it!” moment, is being greeted with amazing views. And nothing quite adds to the views of stunning mountain valleys and peaks like a tall, cascading waterfall. Colorado is filled with beautiful mountain waterfalls that are not to be missed. From one of the state’s most visited waterfalls, Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs, to the tallest free falling falls in Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls, here is a sampling of some local favorites that are well worth the trek.  

Alberta Falls (Estes Park). The 1.7-mile (roundtrip) Alberta Falls hike, named for Alberta Sprague, wife of Abner Sprague who was one of the original settlers in the area, is an easy but beautiful hike for the summer and fall. The aspen groves on this hike make it a great one for viewing fall foliage. The trailhead can be accessed at Glacier Gorge Trailhead off of Bear Lake Road near Estes Park. For a longer hike, after taking in the sights of the falls, continue on to either Mills Lake or The Loch. Both of these lakes make for a hike over five miles roundtrip, but offer stunning mountain lake views at the top.
 
Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls (Telluride). At 365 feet in length, Bridal Veil Falls are the tallest free falling falls in Colorado. To add to the scenery, the Smuggler-Union Hydroelectric Power Plants sits on top of the falls. The power plant was originally built in 1907 to power the Smuggler-Union Mine. To access the hike from Telluride, head to the east side of box canyon, and park at Valley View Area Parking. From there, the easy to moderate hike is 1.8 miles each way. Take in the stunning views next to the privately owned power plant then, continue on to Bridal Veil Basin, see the gate just before the power plant to find the trailhead.

 
Continental Falls/Mohawk Lake (Breckenridge). Just 2.4 miles south of Breckenridge is the Spruce Creek Tail, which leads to Upper Mohawk Lake. This 2.8-mile (roundtrip) moderate hike passes through steep switchbacks beside Continental Falls, the largest waterfall in the Breckenridge area, and cascades down three chasms on a rocky face. A good place to rest is by Mayflower Lakes, which include a set of charming old cabins and ruins from the mine that was once in the area and a distant view of the falls.
 
Fish Creek Falls (Steamboat Springs). Considered to be one of the best hikes in Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek Falls is a great hike for any season. Open year round, this hike to the 280-foot falls offers dramatic views in the summer and great ice climbing in the winter. The lower falls are just a fourth mile from the trailhead, but don’t stop there as upper Fish Creek Falls and Long Lake are still to come. Keep in mind that the hike to upper Fish Creek Falls is a bit more strenuous, but well worth it.
 
Four Mile Lake Loop (Pagosa Springs). Located in the Weminuche Wilderness, the moderate Four Mile Lake Loop hike offers 13.2 miles (roundtrip) worth of stunning views. The hike can be finished in one day, but is also good for a two day backpacking trip. Wildflowers, wildlife, lakes and waterfalls will all been seen on this hike while climbing 2,680 feet in elevation. The hike starts at around 9,000 feet so make sure to adjust to the altitude prior to this hike.
 
Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake (Glenwood Springs). Known as one of Colorado’s most famous hikes, Hanging Lake gains its beauty from the flourishing hanging garden plant community and crystal clear waters. The lake can be reached in one short, steep mile. Although the hike is steep, the view at the top will not disappoint. Located 10 miles east of Glenwood Springs, the hike includes dramatic views of Glenwood Canyon, smaller waterfalls and lush greenery. Once to the top, don’t forget to hike just a bit further to see Spouting Rock, a waterfall that pours through a natural hole in the cliff.  

 
Helen Hunt Falls (Colorado Springs). From Colorado Springs, head to North Cheyenne Cañon Park to the Helen Hunt Visitor’s Center for a short walk to view Helen Hunt Falls. For those who want to hike, start at Helen Hunt Falls and hike up a fourth of a mile to see Silver Cascade Falls, which are best when seen during parts of the year when water is flowing strong. For the more adventurous, the trailhead to the 1.7-mile hike to St. Mary’s Falls is just above Helen Hunt Falls.
 
Oh-Be-Joyful (Crested Butte). Crested Butte has no shortage of beautiful waterfall hikes, and Oh-Be-Joyful is one of the best. Only five miles north of Crested Butte, the Oh-Be-Joyful Falls can be seen on this 5.8-mile hike along with several other cascading waterfalls, lush greenery and an excellent wildflower display throughout the trek. The easy to moderate trail passes through the scenic glacial valley next to the Ruby Range. Don’t forget to check out the small trail that veers off the main trail to the front of the waterfall before continuing on the hike up.
 
Vallecito Creek Trail (Durango). From Durango, take U.S. Highway 160 and head east for 18 miles to start the Vallecito Creek Trail hike. Follow the Vallecito Creek up to find many pools, which are great for fishing, and waterfalls. This hike is both a great day hike (three miles one way) or can be turned into a four to five-day (19.5 miles one way) backpacking trip. July and August are great times for this hike as the wildflowers in the alpine meadow are fully bloomed. This is also a great snowshoeing trail during the winter.
 
Zapata Falls

Zapata Falls

Zapata Falls (Alamosa). Zapata Falls was formed when South Zapata Creek wore a groove into the rugged rocks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Today, this 30-foot waterfall has become one of the most popular hiking spots in the San Luis Valley. The hike begins at the Zapata Falls Campground entrance. The campground sits at an elevation of 9,000 feet and boasts a stunning panoramic view of the valley below. Guests can walk into the cavern to get an up close look at the falls, but are encouraged to do so with caution as the rocks are quite slippery. With views of the Great Sand Dunes from the parking lot and the waterfall just a short 1.5-mile walk up, this is a hike not to be missed.

 
For more information, visit http://www.colorado.com/articles/colorado-waterfalls.
-Carly Holbrook

Wild Animal Sanctuary Responds to Backlash Over Huge Payment Increase

A carnivore rescue facility on Colorado’s Eastern Plains increased fees for daily visitors this weekend from $15 to $50. Operators of the Wild Animal Sanctuary, a 720-acre sanctuary 30 miles northeast of Denver, said the price increase is part of a necessary, cost-driven plan to encourage potential patrons to become long-term “supporters” of the facility.

The sanctuary is a 501(c)3 public non-profit—much like a Humane Society for cats and dogs—and has to rely entirely on private contributions, fundraising events, and grants from foundations to stay in operation. The vast majority of the money they raise each year comes from small donations by everyday people who care about the welfare of these animals enough to make a donation as often as they can. Someone who donates $200 to the sanctuary, over a 12-month period, is recognized as a supporter, said Pat Craig, the organization’s executive director. Supporters can visit the sanctuary without paying a daily fee. They can also bring guests, who will also be admitted sans daily fee. 

By Tuesday, more than 1,700 people had left comments on the Sanctuary’s Facebook page, many protesting but other supporting the tripled entrance fee. Their public statement:

“We want to address the recent changes to the visitor policies at the Sanctuary, as it has caused much grief for a certain demographic of people. Being a non-profit Sanctuary, we face unique challenges in order to exist.

Our mission to rescue and care for large carnivores requires an incredible amount of time, money and dedicated commitment by thousands of people, and it’s no small feat to successfully address the complexities that come with running a facility the size of The Wild Animal Sanctuary.

Following our secondary mission to educate the public about the Captive Wildlife Crisis is also something we hold dear to our hearts. Thus, we made the choice to open our doors to the public nearly 12 years ago in order to reach those people who never knew the problem existed.

Over the past 12 years, we have been able to greet well over 2 million people to the Sanctuary’s 720 acre facility, and we have seen the issue of Captive Wildlife spread throughout Colorado… the U.S… and even in dozens of other countries around the world.

We are extremely grateful for the million+ people who chose to visit us, and even more grateful to those that subsequently chose to continue their support of our mission by becoming regular donors. By doing so, they demonstrated their understanding of how important continuous support is to a non-profit.

Unfortunately, over the past 12 years, there has also been a downside to having people come to visit, as there is always a percentage of the population that chose to come to the sanctuary for entertainment purposes instead of to learn about the issues behind our existence. Sadly, these people felt we existed for their benefit, and not for the welfare of the animals living here.

Year by year, the percentage of people who came for the wrong reasons grew – while at the same time – true animal advocates continued to come and value the concept of supporting a worthy cause. Yet, as the scales continued to tip in the wrong direction, we held true to our commitment to educate the masses about the problem of Captive Wildlife.

But today there is a new beginning, as the Sanctuary has fulfilled its obligation to reach out to those who did not know, as the millions we have educated are now passing the message on in a way that is nothing short of viral. The time has come for us to focus on a culture of giving rather than taking.

Our past entry fees have a long and complicated history beginning with the early years when we used to not charge anything for people to come visit us. In those days, the visitors were people that had heard of the great work we were doing from a friend, family member or coworker.

Their intentions were to learn about us and the animals we rescued, and then choose to support us – or not – based on the level of value they perceived. It was a simple equation and more than 95% of the people who came saw great things happening and became life-long supporters.

Yet, as more people began to come visit, they constantly demanded we should have a set fee to get in. The idea was somewhat comical in nature, as they could always come for free… but somehow they felt the fee structure would save the animals (rather than just leaving a donation).

Of course no one would want to pay anything more than what they might expect at a similar facility (i.e. the zoo)… and so the new entry fee concept was born. Yet, for us, all we wanted was for people to learn about the Captive Wildlife Crisis and possibly become an ardent supporter in the process.

Over the next decade, the costs associated with having the public visit grew astronomically. Everything from the number of parking lots, bathrooms, employees and other items associated with the public ballooned. As a result, the fees that people paid to get in did nothing to help the animals… and rarely covered the costs of being open.

However, those people that did visit, and did become active donors, became the heart and soul of the organization, as they knew the true cost of saving lives. For them, they knew they had a responsibility to be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.

Today, the Sanctuary is proud to say we have one of the best facilities in the country, where more than 400 rescued carnivores live and thrive – all due to the dedicated supporters we have. There is no link to our being a Sanctuary for animals and that of a facility where people can go to be entertained.

So for those people that become upset their favorite entertainment venue has changed its policy, we want to remind you that the Denver Zoo is open 7 days a week. They have a wonderful array of species for you to go enjoy, and we hope you have a wonderful and entertaining visit.

For everyone else who realizes our Sanctuary has struggled and sacrificed enormous amounts of time, money and energy to save animals and give them a wonderful home, we welcome you to visit and consider becoming an active supporter. Please come join the thousands of other people that made that choice the first time they walked through our doors, and see how we will greet you with open arms.

You see, it’s not about the amount you donate – as that isn’t what is important. What is critical, is that you realize the nominal entry fees never did anything to help the animals and its time to begin supporting an organization that makes a real difference in the lives of animals.

Our animals may look the same as those you see at the zoo, but in reality, they are vastly different in many ways. Ours were not bought, traded or surplused… and would be deceased today had we not been there to rescue them.

Unfortunately, most of them existed to entertain people in their former lives, which caused them great harm. Once we were able to rescue them, and provide them with a wonderful home were they no longer had to perform, we made the conscious choice to always protect them from being used for entertainment.

So the time has come to re-foster and solidify a culture where people value the lives of the animals living here. If you don’t, then there is no need to visit the Sanctuary. Remember, our support does not come from admission fees, and that is why we will always allow active supporters to visit for free!

If you need a place to take your relatives or out-of-town guests, or feel the need to go see wild animals, please choose the appropriate venue for your personal entertainment. Conversely, If you cherish the lives of rescued animals and want to see them live out their lives in peace and harmony, please become an active supporter of The Wild Animal Sanctuary!”

The Widdahood: Moving and saying good-bye all over again

I don’t know how to start this blog post.  I guess I should just start by telling the truth.

I am so happy.

For months I wondered what this would feel like to a new home (yes, I finally sold my house!)  My stuff is in a new place.  My kids are still trying to figure out where everything is.  My cat looks at me, completely bewildered, wondering where in the hell she is.

She’s home.

I’ve gone back and forth on the whole moving thing for a long time.  Let’s see…my husband Brad died almost exactly eight years ago…so seven and a half years ago I thought about moving.  And I didn’t and I was right.

Until I did.  And I was right then, too.

This is just like everything else we’ve been through on this road; what’s hard for you is a speed bump to someone else and a small twist in the road to someone else might derail you.

It’s personal.

In this new house, I don’t see the spot where my husband said goodbye for the last time.  I don’t see where the Christmas tree has been for the last twelve years, eight of them without him.  I don’t see the work bench he built.  I don’t walk the lawn wondering if he likes the way I’m mowing it.

It wasn’t easy.  These last few weeks have been like, yet again, ripping off a band-aid.  As I cleaned the kids’ rooms, I shared a silent memory in each one and shut the door quietly as if kissing each one goodbye: the border Brad pasted to Haley’s room when she was five; the border I painted in Michael’s when he was a baby; Sarah…she came home from the hospital to that house. 

I looked around my room and remembered for the last time that morning my husband said goodbye.

 I loved that house for being a home…and I hated it for trapping me. 

It was simultaneously a source of comfort and pain.

~
And now?

Here I am.  I’m typing this in a new room.  Kids are laughing outside.  I’m surrounded by boxes.  I have a glass of red wine next to me.  I don’t like the color of this room, but I can change it because it’s mine. 

It’s mine.

Catherine Tidd is a widow, mother, and the author of the upcoming book “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow” (January 2014). She is the founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free peer support website dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other and has a Facebook peer support page under the name Widow Chick.   She has been published in several books about grief and renewal and also writes a blog on anything that pops into her nutty brain called Bud Light Wishes and Cheeto Dreams.

Denver Deal: Free Days, Starbucks, Beauty Brands and Butterflies

Do your kids have a favorite shirt or outfit? You know, the one that they seem to get dressed in all.the.time. Like, every single time you tell them to change or get dressed they end up in that same shirt. I would nag them to go change that this was something like the 10 millionth time that I have seen them in this shirt (and  that I’m fairly certain it had not been washed that much). It was just brought to my attention (by my kids no less) that apparently I have a favorite shirt. Yes, the same “repeater infraction.” But…but…but. I love it! It is the Gobi Shirt from White Sierra. (I also think they meant to spell it as Gobi Desert shirt – but on the website it is listed as Dessert (which is does feel as awesome as sweets – so maybe it was an intentional Freudian Slip). I love that there is a little pocket tucked in the side of it and it is so lightweight and whisks off sweat I can wear it hiking or looks good enough to go out or just chilling at home. 

FREE Days: Saturday, August 1 get free admission to the Denver Art Museum and History Colorado Center and on Sunday, August 2 go to the Denver Firefighter’s Museum and Mizel Museum for free. Then celebrate Colorado’s Birthday with free admission to state parks on Monday August 3 and on August 4, free admission to the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. For more details, go here.

The Melt Grand Opening: The Melt introduces their cheesy awesomeness at their newest location at Park Meadows Dining Hall. While the location opens on Friday, August 14th MileHighMamas readers can get free food on Aug. 13 from 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. using the password: Burger Lover.

Starbucks Treat Receipt. Starbucks Treat Receipt promotion is back! Bring your receipt for your morning Starbucks Fix to get a Cold Grande Beverage (after 2 p.m.) for just $2.50. 

Panarathon!  Run Hunger Out of Town. Panera Bread is proud to present the 9th Annual Westminster Panerathon 5K & 10K to Fight Hunger. All proceeds benefit Food Bank of the Rockies. For every $1.00 raised, FBR will provide 4 meals to people in need in our community. Kids! Join us for the FREE Panera Kids Fun Run, an out-and-back DASH (approximately 1/8 mile) for aspiring Panerathon-ers 12 years and younger. 7:45 a.m. Free Kids Fun Run, 8:00 a.m. 5K & 10K start. http://panerathon.com/

Butterfly Pavillion Celebrates. National Kids Day is just around the corner! To encourage adults to spend more meaningful and quality time with their children, National Kids Day was created in 1994 by KidsPeace. Butterfly Pavilion is supporting this unofficial national holiday by offering all children $4 admission, August 3rd, for National Kids Day!  What better way to spend quality time with your kids then by learning together! Plus don’t forget Father-in-law Day! There is a Mother’s, a Father’s Day, why not a Father-in-law Day?  Show your father-in-law how much he means to you. Bring him to Butterfly Pavilion on the 30thand get $3 off his admission price!

Beauty Brands Liter Sale. I usually grab the stuff at WalMart or Target to wash my hair – but when you have a liter sale where the really expensive good stuff at Beauty Brands where a liter is just $13.99 plus a $3.50 off coupon – I might as well get the more expensive hair shampoo and conditioner! 

Ricki and the Flash FREE MOVIE: Meryl Streep takes on a whole new gig (and stars next to her real-life daughter), as hard-rocking guitar heroine in ‪#‎RickiAndTheFlash‬. Visit:http://www.sonyscreenings.com/MHMRicki to download an admit-two pass to the Denver screening on August 4th. In theaters everywhere August 7th! (Seats arent’ guaranteed and you should plan to get to the theater at least a 1/2 hour before show time – even if you have a ticket). 

Ongoing

Free, healthy summer meals for Colorado kids and teens. Summer should be a fun and enriching time for all Colorado children, but for many it represents a time when they are at the greatest risk of hunger due to lost access to school meals. Thanks to a statewide collaboration to address child hunger, 533 community sites across Colorado will provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost this summer.  Colorado families can find nearby summer food sites by using an interactive map at KidsFoodFinder.org or calling the statewide, bilingual Hunger Free Hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626.

Free Outdoors Movies and Concerts. Denver is chock-full of great, talented musicians that play around town for free – and what is better than a movie outdoors on a cool summer night among about 500 of your closest friends? Don’t miss our round-up of free outdoor movies and concerts this summer.

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.

Cinemark Movie Clubhouse. There’s nothing quite like spending a hot day in a cool movie theater.Cinemark has a 10-week film fest of its own: $5 for 10 movies when purchased in advance at cinemark.com.  If you delay and purchase at the theater, movies are still just $1. Most locations start on Wednesday, June 2 with screenings starting at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and/or Wednesday. The film line-up includes The Croods, The LEGO Movie, Dolphin Tale 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Penguins of Madagascar, Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chip Wrecked, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and The Nut Job

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 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 of Denver Free Walking Tours’ new two hour daily tours that leave at 10 a.m. daily, starting in Civic Center Park, then 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!

 

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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.

 

Family Travel: 8 Ways Colorado Springs and Royal Gorge Rock

For a mid-summer treat, my husband, tween son, teen daughter and I recently loaded up the family car and made the very doable trip to Colorado Springs for a long weekend. Thus began a super fun, highly memorable, and delightfully low-key trip.

I’m sharing our itinerary with you in case you, too, want to take a day-trip, a weekend trip, or a long-weekend trip with your family. Pick any day’s activities (they’re grouped strategically), or switch out your own ideas from an extensive list at VisitCOS.com.

1. You can’t go wrong using the fabulous Cheyenne Mountain Resort as your base. Cheyenne Mountain Resort has families figured out, judging by how many parents and kids of all ages we saw during our stay, some even with the family dog! There’s a little something for everyone: golf, tennis, swimming (5 pools and a lake, complete with watercraft), a state-of-the-art fitness center, a brand new full-service spa, and even a KIDZ camp so that grownups can, well, do grownup things.

family travel colorado springs

One Awesome Day in Colorado Springs

2. Make a stop (even before checking into the hotel) in the quaint and vibrant mountain town of Manitou Springs. Though we could have spent the whole weekend there (and we will one day), we took the time only to eat at BooDad’s Louisiana Cafe and to indulge in what has become our Mother-Daughter tradition. We stopped in the charming La Henna Boheme for funky shopping and quick henna tattoos.

Tip: Drink from one or more of the town’s mineral springs fountains.

family travel manitou springs
3. Face down your fears (in a fun way) at Cave of the Winds. We booked a Discovery Tour through the caves and learned about different formations. At one point and for just a few moments, we experienced a phenomenon called Total Cave Darkness. The closest equivalent for lack of light, said our guide, would be at the bottom of the ocean.

Afterwards, the two brave ones among us (Daddy and Daughter) rode the Terror-Dactyl attraction while Mom and Son watched from firm ground. See Jenna Bush Hager and Natalie Morales of The Today Show demonstrate here (“Mommmmmmyyyyy!!”)

cave of the winds terror dactyl

Tip: Check out discounts and deals before you go.

4. Dance with wolves at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. Well maybe not  DANCE but definitely get fairly up close and personal.

With a little bit of planning it’s easy to get to the day’s last stop just prior to feeding time at 6pm (it’s not far from Cave of the Winds). Meet the resident canids — foxes, coyotes, and wolves — and observe them when they are most active. Learn about the connection between age-old fairy tales and the current dire situation for these majestic animals, as well as the ecosystems that rely on wolves as predators to maintain nature’s balance. We were awed by their powerful jaws, able to gobble hunks of meat — bones and all — within minutes. A special treat is witnessing the group howl.

colorado wolf sanctuary

Tip: If you’re lucky enough to be in Colorado Springs on the Saturday near a full moon, check out this special tour.

Head back to Cheyenne Mountain Resort for a night swim or your preferred way to wind down. So ends one fantastic family day in Colorado Springs.

Another Awesome Day in Colorado Springs

5. Schedule in time to find your bliss from the numerous amenities at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Whether your thing is tennis golf, swimming, kayaking or aqua-biking, go work it, play it! If it’s a yoga, Pilates or Zumba class, take it!. If your thing is chillaxing, like it was for my daughter and me, visit Alluvia Spa, right on premises. We opted for a mani (her) / pedi (me).

cheyenne mountain resort alluvia spa

6. Take in the stunning scenery surrounding the Royal Gorge Bridge. Atop the gorge carved by the Arkansas River stands the highest suspension bridge in North America. You can walk or drive across the gorge and as you do, you’ll see the John F Kennedy range in the distance (named for his apparent likeness, as if he were lying down), the gorge bed nearly 1000 feet below, and its little-bitty train tracks (this will factor in later). Newly reopened, the park and bridge have been revived since the fire that devastated it in 2013 — better than ever. 

 royal gorge for families
The impressive bridge and vistas are only one part of the adventure. There are also rides from gentle to death-defying. On the gentle end are the miniature train, as well as a gondola that takes you across the gorge (both included in general admission). In the middle is a zipline across the gorge, which I am surprised to say I had the gumption for. There’s no steep drop, and the rider doesn’t have to apply a hand brake. The zipline was exhilarating and I highly recommend it for middle-brave people.

On the insanely brave end is the skycoaster: “Imagine a free-fall sweeping you 50 mph to hang momentarily over 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River.”

Power to ya.

Tip: If you get an early enough start, take a short detour along SkyLine Drive between Cañon City and the Royal Gorge.

7. Have a gourmet meal on the Dinner Train on the Royal Gorge Route.  If you get here prior to 6 pm boarding (it’s advised to arrange for tickets ahead of time), you’ll enjoy a 3 hour tour that takes you 11 miles into and back from the gorge, all while dining on a delicious 3-course meal. The dining cars (including the higher-priced Vista Dome cars) offer fascinating views from inside geological formations, beside a river, and alongside the mining and prison history of the local area (your server tells you about all of it). There are scenic stops — including 1000 feet under the bridge you were on earlier in the day — and you can leave your dining car for an open-air car to get a glimpse up.

family travel on royal gorge train

How many times in recent memory has your family spent 3 hours together, uninterrupted by friends, the phone, a TV, tablet or smart phone (no service here)? The four of us laughed and luxuriated in each others’ presence in a way that happens not often enough. Wonderful memories were made on the Dinner Train aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.

Tip: On Saturday evenings through Halloween, kids under 12 ride the dinner train free.

Head back to Cheyenne Mountain Resort for a good night’s sleep. So ends another fantastic family day in Colorado Springs.

Yet Another Awesome Day in Colorado Springs

Take the early part of the morning to eat and enjoy the amenities at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, or do your own hiking or biking or relaxing.

Then by mid-morning (for weather purposes)…

8. Wind your way up Pikes Peak Highway to the 14,115 summit of Pikes Peak.  

It’s 19 miles of switchbacks and awe-inspiring views, which will take at least an hour to get there. When you do, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. We didn’t get started early enough and were met with the predictable early afternoon clouds/fog. But still, the scenery was jaw-droppingly beautiful on the way up and down.

pikes peak family travel

Images of bighorn sheep courtesy fellow traveler Joe Borrello.

Above tree line you’re looking down on other mountain ranges. You might see bighorn sheep, like this mama and baby. Katherine Lee Bates was so struck by the view in 1893 that she wrote the words to what would become the song America the Beautiful (“purple mountain majesties”), and there is a monument to mark this.

Even during the heart of summer, it was chilly at the top, so bring jackets and maybe rain gear.

Coming down we stopped at the spots we’d missed on the way up. There are beautiful flora and fauna, a special treat for enthusiasts and photographers.

Tip: Make sure you have at least a half-tank of gas for the drive up and decent brakes for the way down. May be a difficult trek for kiddos with motion sickness.

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Yes, this post says 8 ways Colorado Springs Rocks for Families, but I’m adding a 9th and 10th. Even though we didn’t manage to work it in, you might be able to (we had been there before).

9. Further revel in nature’s wonder at Garden of the Gods. Entrance to this park, which is a registered National Natural Landmark, is free. Families can enjoy the park on foot, by Jeep or Segway, and even via rock climbing.

garden of the gods for family travel

Image courtesy VisitCOS.com.

10. Bask in the majesty of Seven Falls, a magnificent series of waterfalls located in a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon, and then explore everything else the new Seven Falls has to offer. The falls have been closed since the Colorado Springs floods and will reopen August 16, 2015. An optional Broadmoor Soaring Adventure will be available at a later time.

So ends yet another fantastic family day in Colorado Springs.

More Colorado Springs!

A few things we missed…this time!

  • The Manitou Incline: the remains of a former narrow gauge funicular railway, now a popular hiking trail with a 2,000 feet elevation gain in just 1 mile.
  • Ghost Town Museum: a fun and historic look back at an old west-type town that dotted this region during the late1800’s and early 1900’s
  • Echo Canyon River Expeditions : build your own unforgettable rafting adventure through the Royal Gorge; for all comfort levels
  • The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey: wine tours and tastings on the grounds of the historic Holy Cross Abbey (Benedictine)

I’ve offered only the tip of the Colorado Springs iceberg. Other activities my family is begging for will definitely necessitate more 1, 2, or 3-day trips. 

Tip to self: Don’t forget your VisitCOS.com magazine — coupons abound!

For more family itineraries, visit Colorado Springs Family Vacation Trip Ideas.

Has your family been to Colorado Springs? What did you find fantastic?

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Lori Holden's book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open AdoptionLori Holden blogs from metro-Denver at LavenderLuz.com. 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.

Disclosure: some experiences were provided by Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Cave of the Winds, Colorado Springs CVB, Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, Royal Gorge Route, and Pikes Peak Highway for purposes of writing this article.

Tween Touchpoint Video: Acting like a moody teen at ten

Watch Joshua Sparrow, MD’s video on Tween Touchpoint: Acting like a moody teen at ten.

He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine.


For more information on elementary education visit KidsInTheHouse.com

Kids in the House is the world’s largest parenting video library with over 9,000 videos from 450 experts, including physicians, psychologists, researchers, educators, best-selling authors, and other celebrated voices in our culture. This website contains videos that feature parenting tips for all parenting styles from parents who have dealt with particular issues and can share their hard-earned wisdom.

Thinking about the miracle of life… A captivating imagining of a baby's mind

Posted by Jason Silva on Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Foodie Friday: Grandma’s Peach Pie with Shortbread Crust

Colorado Palisade Peaches.  Hear me roar!

One of my husband’s favorite desserts ever is his mom’s fresh peach pie What I like about this pie: I’m a crust snob and shudder at any recipe that says to use those cardboard-esque pre-made or frozen ones. But I’m also not the best crust maker so this one calls for what could be classified as shortbread and is so so so easy to put together.

And there is nothing better than fresh peaches when they’re in season so why on earth do we bake them and suck all the glorious goodness out of them? The crust is baked but the peaches are not so the sweeter and better the peaches, the more delicious the pie. Trust me, try this recipe and you’ll never look back. 

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