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52 Weeks of Nature: A Colorado Family’s Resolution

Words from Nature: She called, and we came. This is how it all started…

As parents of two boys, owners of full time careers, and CEO’s of our household (i.e., doing endless loads of laundry, dishes, and paying bills like money grows on trees), the weekend can easily become a reprieve from a long work week of emotional daycare drop offs, and long to-do lists. After two kids in two years I found myself turning to an indoor lifestyle – I just wanted to nest with my family (and eat chocolate). My husband and I still managed to get out and make important visits to the playground, library, and zoo, etc., but we missed the beating heart of Mother Nature, and we so wanted to introduce the outdoors to our kids.

So, we took a hike. It was during this hike that we committed to getting outside, and into nature every weekend for the next year. After too many weekends of lazy parenting (i.e., staying home and going crazy), we realized that we wanted to parent, and experience life differently. We wanted to interact with our kids more, and away from all the distractions. We wanted them to fall in love with the outdoors the way we did, or at least burn off some energy, which in turn might create space for my husband and I to have adult conversations.

Thus our family’s 52 Weeks of Nature project. This is an adventure for us to reclaim the life we once knew, and it’s simple. With 52 Weeks of Nature we are asking ourselves to simply get outside, and into nature every weekend for the next year with our kids. There are no rules except to go outside and have fun! 

outdoorsMy husband and I have long been outdoors people. Prior to having kids we hiked the Grand Canyon, biked across the country, summited fourteeners and many other lower peaks, camped, visited national parks, crossed paths with real live bears, and ran marathons, and half marathons. Our weeks were filled with outdoor fun, and we felt great. Now it’s time to pass that legacy onto our young children. The outdoors is a wonderful teacher, and companion, and we need her to help us bring up thoughtful, loving and kind children who also know how to survive in the wilderness!

Kaitlin Luna is a mother, wife, and outdoors enthusiast. Professionally you’ll find her in higher education working with incredible students. In her off time she is am almost always with her family, and often times that means they are out and about somewhere seeking adventure! You can follow her journey at www.52weeksofnature.com.

57 Years Apart- A Boy And a Man Talk About Life

A new viral video featuring an intergenerational conversation proves you don’t need to be old to be wise.

The Irish-based video-content producer Facts posted a funny, sad and sweet YouTube video of a chat between a 7-year-old boy and a 64-year-old man as they discussed life, love and aging. With a 57-year-old age difference, this heartwarming video discusses what’s the worst thing about young and old, falling in love and so much more.

“Act normal, don’t be silly, don’t bully lots of people.”

Denver Free Days January through June 2016

As we round the first of the year – put some of these great and free attractions on your list of must-dos in 2016!  Always be sure to check their website to confirm dates and times.

January

February

March 

April 

May  

June

We will post another calendar in June for the remainder of the year. Also of note, there are a few places that are always free. The Denver Art Museum is free for kids 18 and under every day (due to an awesome grant they received in 2015), Hudson Gardens and Aurora History Museum.

Also of note, if you have a 4th Grader, they can get an annual pass to the National Parks as a part of Every Kid in a Park. (Thanks, President Obama). 

 

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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.

 

Work and Music, Like Oil and Water

I’ve never considered myself to be a music aficionado. I grew up in a house where the Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits eight-track was heard almost as much as Tony Orlando and Dawn. And I was happy about it! Now, if only I could say that without blushing and hanging my head in shame….

My co-workers and I have been putting in ten-hour days for two weeks now because of a national audit that kind of caught us unawares. As such, we have been buzzing around one another like a frenzied swarm of killer bees. Tension is palpable. Stress levels are high. And, while Flight of the Bumble Bee might be most appropriate, I tend to want to blast some Jane’s Addiction while I’m looking for POAs and MFRs and hoobity-whaties. The problem is that I work in an office with seven other people and… well… some of our musical tastes kind of clash. And, because it’s impractical for all seven of us to wear iPods when phones are ringing and customers are coming in and out, we tend to hover around our desks so that we don’t wander into someone else’s bad musical environment. It’s cubicle hell without the cubicle walls.

I personally can’t really DO country music unless you were popular back in the seventies. And Celine Dion makes me itch a little bit. I even resent hearing Barry Manilow unless I’m in a particularly NOSTALGIC mood. I try to keep my Garden State soundtrack turned up JUUUUST loud enough so that our country music fans don’t have to be subjected to The Shins lamenting about how caring is creepy and yet I don’t have to hear about the honky tonk badonkadonk. It’s a win-win.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that my music is better than anyone else’s. Actually my taste is quit varied… and highly dependent on how many hours we spend teleconferencing on Wednesdays. A co-worker recently asked me to turn up my music since we were the only two left in the building and it was relatively quiet. But I really wanted to decline. Because I was listening to someone called Jimmy Eat World singing Wham’s big 1980’s hit

Hilarious “Hello From The Mother Side” Parody

Adele’s “Hello” has already inspired plenty of parodies, but singer-songwriter and mother Emily Mills from Waco, Texas, has used the famous struggles of motherhood and math homework as a hilarious sounding board. The plaintive pleas of Adele will have been replaced by the laughter of moms around the world who never quite figured out algebra themselves, much less how to get their kids to do their algebra homework.

Letting Go

 
There was recently a day that was exhausting  but ultimately worthy of the effort, as most hard things are. The kids and I drove out to the mountains, and one afternoon I took them snow tubing. I was unsure about how I’d to wrangle two young boys by myself, but my husband couldn’t go, so if we were going to do it, I would have to lead the effort.

I’m not really an outdoorsy person or a thrill-seeker. But since our first trip to the mountains last year, my older son had been begging all winter for another chance to go. He is only seven, and has been only a few years a Coloradoan, but maybe he somehow already knows the allure of this landscape. 

I tried to reassure myself thinking I should know what to expect from this; we did it last year. But there were four of us then, and now both boys were just big enough to go down the real tubing hill, but with me. If we were going to do it, it’d have to be the three of us together. I summoned some courage and forked over the cash for tickets. We hiked over to the tracks and hauled ourselves up the magic carpet. 

Poised on the edge of the slope, the tube wrangler lady instructed us how to entwine ourselves so as to connect our three tubes together in order to go down as a unit. We had a tenuous grip on each other; their arms were still pretty short for this. She gave us a hard shove anyway and down we slid. It wasn’t so bad, actually; if you closed your eyes and ignored that you were hurtling down an icy track with your two kids’ hands clutching yours as you simultaneously tried to grip the handle of a flimsy inner tube, you’d kind of enjoy the rush of adrenaline you got from thinking you might be sliding to your death.  

We went down three or four more times together, enjoying it. As the sun started to merge into the horizon, I realized there was only time for one more run. We settled ourselves in at the top of the hill in our usual triad formation, but this time somehow we couldn’t grab on to each other well enough to hold on together. We couldn’t do this one as a threesome; my eldest would have to ride alone. 

The younger boy and I finished our run and I anxiously climbed out of the tube and watched helplessly as my eldest son got in and rode down alone. He looked small from my vantage point, and I was worried he was too little for this. During the long seconds of his descent, I was sure something would happen. But we all made it, of course. My little kid ambled off the course full of bravado as I breathed a sigh of relief. Guess you got to let them go sometime, little by little.

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Elizabeth Senouci is a software localization engineer, translator, occasional writer, and mom of two boys. She enjoys traveling, running, and sitting on the couch.

6 Denver New Year’s Events for Families

Noon Year’s Eve

December 31, 2015, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
WHERE: Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, 2121 Children’s Museum Dr., Denver
The Children’s Museum of Denver is bringing in the excitement, thrills and festive fun of Times Square on New Year’s Eve to the Children’s Museum – all before bedtime! They’ll have glittery ball drops, rainbows of confetti and HUGE sheets of bubble wrap (their version of fireworks!) for kids to stomp on. After the ball drops, the celebration keeps going with sparkling art projects and heaps of activities on the plaza.

Zoo Year’s Eve

December 31, 2015, 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
WHERE: Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St,  Denver
In conjunction with Zoo Lights, enjoy Zoo Year’s Eve with an early New Year’s Eve countdown for the little ones.
http://www.denverzoo.org/

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

December 31, 2015, 9:00 pm – 11:45 pm
WHERE: Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. Denver
Time: 9 p.m. and Midnight
Ring in the New Year on the 16th Street Mall,and catch one of two spectacular fireworks shows! Come Downtown and dine in one of the many fine restaurants, or make a night of it and stay in one of Downtown Denver’s fabulous hotels.
http://www.downtowndenver.com/

Skate the Lake

December 31, 2015 at 6:00 pm – 11:45 pm
WHERE: 29612 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen, CO 
COST: $20 – $25
Skate the Lake is celebrating its 20th year as a New Year’s Eve tradition. Skate the Lake is a non-alcoholic event featuring ice-skating, fireworks, fire barrel bonfires, sleigh rides, food, music and ice games such as pick-up hockey and broom-stick hockey. Fireworks displays at 8pm and Midnight. Limited skate rentals available at the Lake House.
http://www.evergreenrecreation.com

WOW!’s New Year’s Eve Party

WHEN: December 31, 2015, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
WHERE: World of Wonder Children’s Museum, 110 N Harrison Ave, Lafayette, CO 80026
COST: $12 per Child $6 per Member Child $5 per Adult
Ring in the New Year a few hours early at WOW! Children’s Museum! Join them for noisemaker crafts, face painting, family photo station, musical performance by Kristin McLean, refreshments compliments of Happy Baby, and a special countdown celebration.

http://www.wowchildrensmuseum.org/tag/new-years-eve/

Commitment Day at Life Time

WHEN: January 1, 2015, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Life Time’s Centennial, Parker-Aurora and Westminster clubs

Start the New Year off on the right foot – literally – by joining thousands of others for a nationwide 5K Fun Run and Walk. Continue the celebration by inviting all of your family and friends for a weekend filled with entertaining events and activities for everyone including an indoor triathlon, classes and even a family-friendly beach party. Yep – that’s right, everyone in your community is invited! 

http://www.commitmentday.com/colorado/

Ode to obnoxious Christmas newsletters

Everyone complains about bragging, overly-detailed Christmas newsletters.

Invasive medical procedures undergone in May are recounted on paper rimmed with robust snowmen. Splashy vacations are described in so much detail, the room smells like Coppertone and the majestic horse the newsletter writer rode in the surf on the white sand beach. The list of their children’s proudest moments would serve as a smart opening for a European Union application essay–yes, the accomplishments are so numerous, the EU might consider admitting a sovereign 8-year-old individual into their economic, social, and military alliance.

Parole officers, perfect health, demotions, bad report cards, and the story of the time back in March she was asked to resign from the volunteer committee under suspicion of using club funds to fuel her Starbucks addiction? The snowmen on the letterhead aren’t telling. Shhh.

Nobody admits to writing overly newsy newsletters. Oddly, everyone seems to have several relatives and friends who love paying extra postage to pack four single-spaced pages between the stiff folds of boxed cards. Someone has to be doing writing these.

It’s not me. It’s not you. Oh, heavens no! You say as you promise you’d never write such a tome. You can barely get the cards out of the house, addressed and stamped, by December 27th. It’s a good year when you manage to capture the family with a photo. The matching turtlenecks were purely accidental.

I think it’s time for Christmas newsletter writers to

“DADDY’S HOME”: When meeting your in-laws goes terribly wrong

This hilarious sponsored post is to promote the even more hilarious new comedy “DADDY’S HOME.”

If there’s anything I love, it’s a Christmas comedy and the new “DADDY’S HOME” movie delivers! Coming to a theater near you Christmas Day this movie follows a mild-mannered radio executive (Will Ferrell) who strives to become the best step dad to his wife’s two children, but complications ensue when their freewheeling and freeloading real father (the smokin’ hot Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing him to compete for the affection of the kids.

It’s like Meet the Parents meets Elf as hilarity ensues!

I know all about well-intended holiday celebrations that go off the rails, as was evidenced when I brought the future father of my children home to meet my family for the first time at Christmas.

A bit of background: Jamie and I met online many years ago before it was socially acceptable and after a whirlwind long-distance courtship, we were married within six months. My family was understandably wary so it was very important for him to make a good impression. After his first full day in Calgary, he retired to his assigned room in the basement. My brother Jade and Shannon, his busting-at-the-seams pregnant wife, were in the room next to him.

Jamie was in dreamland when he was awoken by a mouse crawling up his leg (or so he thought). He shot outta bed, animatedly flew out of his room, only to find Jade and Shannon having a late-night discussion on the couch. They were shocked.

Panting heavily, Jamie leaned over to catch his breath and pronounced to them, “Don’t worry: I’m Jamie Johnson!” (For fear they had forgotten who he was, of course). He then proceeded to babble about how he had (allegedly) been attacked by a mouse. During his commentary, he went over to pet Lucky (the dog he did not like) and then gave his soon-to-be sister-in-law a backrub (who, at 11 months pregnant, was not exactly the cuddly type).

It was at this time he slowly started to wake up from sleepwalking and he unintelligibly made his way upstairs as the full ramifications of what he had done set in. Embarrassed, he curled his 6′1 frame up onto a little couch upstairs and tried to go back to sleep, vowing to not go downstairs and face those people again.

Sympathetic and amused Jade eventually followed him up, “Hey Dude, are you all right?” He really wasn’t. When I went down the next morning to wake Jamie up, I could tell something was wrong. It was all confirmed in just one statement: “I think I gave Shannon a backrub last night.”

That night, my future husband brought new meaning to “DADDY’S HOME” and our lives have never been the same since.

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Who doesn’t love hilarious holiday disasters? Check-out the trailer for “DADDY’S HOME.” My favorite scene: the cheerleader near the end will make you laugh. Out. Loud.

Follow #DaddysHome social media accounts:

https://instagram.com/DaddysHomeMovie;

https://www.facebook.com/DaddysHomeMovie;

https://twitter.com/DaddysHome

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Daddy’s Home blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. My still-embarrassed husband does not approve of this message.

Contest: Win tickets to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari

If you’re dreaming of a White Christmas, add an electric safari to the mix!

Mile High Mamas is joining Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to celebrate 25 years of holiday cheer during their Electric Safari. With 85 light sculptures on over 50 acres, warming fires throughout the Zoo offer a reprieve from the chill, as do select indoor animal exhibits that remain open during the event. Top off this astounding display by gazing out at the city’s lights and watch all of Colorado Springs sparkle.

safari1The fun includes:

  • Interactive activities will be available in The Loft.
  • Special Animal Shows and Keeper Talks nightly, see detailed schedule below.
  • Select animal exhibits are open during the event, including the giraffe barn, Encounter Africa, Aquatics, Rocky Mountain Wild, Scutes Family Gallery, Asian Highlands and Monkey Pavilion.
  • Be a Secret Santa to the Animals to receive discount admission – see details in the ‘Tickets’ expandable section below.

Santa Zone

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why….Santa Claus is coming to town!

DATES: Nightly, Dec. 4 – 6 & 11 – 23
TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Safari Lodge in African Rift Valley

WHAT: Get into the holiday spirit while you await your turn to meet Kris Kringle! Santa Zone features amazing lights, an opportunity to write a letter to Santa and a warming fire.

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away two family four-packs of tickets to see the Electric Safari, which runs through Jan. 1, 2016 (please do not enter if you are unable to go next week). Winners will be notified Saturday and you may enter as many as five times.

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