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Outlets at Castle Rock’s Month of Back-to-School Activities and Discounts!

As much as my family is saddened about summer coming to an end, we’re filled with nervous anticipation for the advent of a new school year. New teachers! Friends! Math homework!

OK, there are some things that are more exciting than others and sometimes back-to-school shopping can feel overwhelming. So it’s pretty darn cool that the Outlets at Castor Rock is celebrating ‘Kids Who ROCK’ while also focusing on rocking Back-to-School styles. Now through the end of August, the center will host events, special sales and contests designed to help Colorado kids – and their parents – enjoy the final month before school returns.

“This is the time of year when parents have to balance tight budgets with the styles their kids love. Our stores are pulling out all the stops for some of the best savings of the entire year,” said Outlets at Castle Rock Marketing Director Andrea Nyquist. “On top of these amazing sales, we’re excited to launch events and promotions that put some of the fun and celebration back into what can be a stressful experience for many families.”

The Outlets at Castle Rock Back-To- School season includes sales at the property’s more than 100 name-brand stores on top of daily saving that are already up to 70% off retail prices including Banana Republic, Columbia, Gap, Guess Factory Store, Justice, Levi’s Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, and Under Armour Factory Store.

In addition, special events throughout the month of August include:

‘Kids Who ROCK’ CHROMEBOOK NOTEBOOK GIVEAWAY

Now-Aug. 5. Outlets at Castle Rock is inviting Colorado students to share a 2 minute video telling their story of why they should win a new Chromebook Notebook! Entries must be submitted by an adult (age 18+) via email to tina@outletsatcastlerock.com, must be no longer than 2 minutes in length and must feature the student who ROCKS. Entries must be received no later than Friday, August 5 to be considered. Three winners will be announced on the Outlets at Castle Rock Facebook page in late August. Additional contest rules and regulations are available here:www.outletsatcastlerock.com/events

MEET & GREET WITH CURIOUS GEORGE

Aug. 5 from 10AM – 2PM.  Outlets at Castle Rock is teaming up with Curious George to make back-to- school shopping a fun adventure for the whole family! On Saturday, August 20 from 10AM-2PM, everyone’s favorite adventurous monkey will be visiting the center to meet his fans of all ages, take pictures and more! Attendees will have the chance to enjoy live music and complimentary face painting before shopping incredible back-to- school sales of 30-70% off retail.

LARGER-THAN- LIFE OUTDOOR GAMES

Available on an ongoing basis.  New for the 2016 Back-To- School Season, Outlets at Castle Rock is offering oversized Chess and Checkers games in center court to bring out the ‘Kid who ROCKS’ inside every shopper. While shopping back-to- school sales, families can check out free, larger-than-life game pieces from Customer Service for an afternoon of fun. Additional details can be found here: http://www.outletsatcastlerock.com/events

‘Rock Your Style’ MODEL SEARCH & MUSICAL PERFORMANCE BY JOHN LINDAHL

john

John Lindahl

Saturday, Aug. 20.  Outlets at Castle Rock invites aspiring models (ages 5-23) to come ROCK the catwalk for the chance to be one of 20 models chosen to be featured in Outlets of Colorado advertising campaigns. Registration and information is available at www.outletsatcolorado.com/events.

The highlight of this event is a special, live musical performance by John Lindahl. Regarded by many as the ‘next Justin Bieber’, this up-and- coming performer has been busy recording a debut album – under the guidance of the legendary Justin Timberlake –and touring across the country. The FREE, outdoor concert will give Colorado kids and families the opportunity to create a few final summer memories and see John Lindahl perform in-person before he rockets to international fame.

Outlets at Castle Rock is conveniently located between the Denver Metro Area and Colorado Springs region at I-25 and Exit 184 in Castle Rock, Colorado. To join the Outlets at Castle Rock community, please use #CastleRockIt and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/OutletsatCastleRock, Instagram @outletsatcastlerock and Twitter @Shop_CR_Outlets. For more information and center business hours, please visit www.outletsatcastlerock.com. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Simple Decorating Tips From a Not-So-Professional Home Decorator

No, I’m not trying to scare off readers with the title of this article – I just want to be real clear in case my advice doesn’t work out so well and moms everywhere come looking for me, yikes. So, now that you’ve been warned, feel free to read on!

Fall. Though our long, lovely days are growing shorter they still pose ample opportunity for several quick but beautiful alterations to your home’s appearance. Take advantage of the still-warm weather, leisure time and kids that are back in school.

A quick way to liven up a room is by adding some color. Many decorators suggest combining colors opposite each other on the color wheel. I use a variety of greens in our home and have accents in red, rusty reds and oranges. I throw in a teal here and there to bring it all together. Sounds funky, right? Done the right way, I think almost any scheme can be successful. Just remember – it has to be what YOU like, so do it your way and don’t be afraid to break the rules because there are no rules, just guidelines to help you along the way.

Choose your colors
I suggest starting with one color you love. For me, this would be a shade of green. Find your color the wheel. Take a look at the colors next to your choice – these “next to” colors will always accompany nicely because they coordinate and match. Sounds easy, but here’s the tricky thing…if all your colors coordinate perfectly, you may be loosing some of the possible effect. Most rooms will have a better overall look if there is an opposite color splash – to keep it interesting.

Blend appropriately
With green, I choose to blend olive and a bit of blue-green or teal. Then I look directly across the color wheel for some splash inspirations. With the shades of green I’ve chosen, I prefer a rusty red or the red-orange. This color pairs well with reds and oranges, so I shop with that in mind.

Don’t skip the neutrals
Neutral colors can be thought of as a clean slate – something to work with, not around. I like to have most of my wall space in a neutral shade and vary the shades for depth – then, I can add color as I please. An example of using neutrals includes the ability to add a dramatic paint accent – applied to a small portion of the room – over a fireplace, on a dividing wall or any space providing simple paint boundaries in a small area (too big and it won’t be an accent.) Talk with a paint store consultant for suggestions on the best shade of paint for you needs.

I prefer neutral furniture as well as walls…some dark, some light. That way, I can switch up my color craze as the times and trends change and won’t have to spend a fortune on staying in “the now” with our large purchases. Throw pillows are more affordable than loveseats and couches.

However, we have inherited a good amount of furniture, and I’ve discovered that if you wait long enough, the style might come back around, wink.

Grab a Magazine
Nope, not time for a break yet. We’re going to use some examples to formulate a plan. Sometimes I think I know what I want to do but then I see it in a magazine – or see something better – and realize I was all wrong. So, find some looks you like and use that as a framework for what you’ll do with your colors.

Use what you already own
Now that you have your colors and a guideline for the type of look you’re going for, shop at home…where everything is FREE! Some of my ideas…

~ fabric or an old quilt to be reworked into a pillow or table runner

~ old photos in storage to make a collage…scan and print in sepia or black and white

~ a large, odd item that might work with the new look

~ glass vase to be filled with wine corks, rocks, flower petals, colorful candy

~ things to be painted: planters, storage containers, rugs, frames, wall hangings

After shopping at home, shop at your neighbor’s homes #yardsales. Don’t forget to check out off-retail shops, and then, if you see something you love in the mall, you’ll have the extra cash to get it. I love a designer look but not the price tag.

Add foliage
Everything looks better with a touch of green…and I’m not just saying this because it’s my primary decorating color of choice. I’m certainly not an expert on Fung Shui, or any decorating theories for that matter, but I do like the way the Fung Shui system of aesthetics pulls a mix of nature indoors.

For extreme simplification: add plants to your decor. To prove I’m not certified: use fake ones too – honestly, we’re moms, and keeping our children, spouse, and a pet(s) alive is a lot of work – we can’t expect to have a house full of living plants, beautiful yard, garden and potted flowers too, whew. So, absolutely, add a lovely, fake plant of your choice…and if you mix it in with living ones, people might not even notice. It’s a great way to brighten a dark corner or add flair to an otherwise plain overhead space.

Transition the look
I love to see a home with an assortment of color usage. Each room can have it’s own, individual look…but it helps to transition. The way I do this: I choose “across from” colors as my main choices – when the rooms are visible from one to the other. I then select “next to” colors from the wheel to transition. The transition colors are the colors I choose to be in sight when standing in one room, looking into the next.

The “reds” room in our home has red-orange visible from the “greens” room. So, when a visitor comes to the front door, they can peer in and see the “greens” transition into the “reds” room with the help of the red-orange accents (curtains and throw pillows.) The deep red color splash atop the fireplace mantle is not visible until entering the “reds” room. A teal potted plant is also used as a transition item – it sits atop a half-wall between our “greens” room and our “reds” room. The teal planter is visible from both rooms and moves one from the “reds” into the “greens” nicely.

With all that being said, hard to believe there are no rules, right? Just remember that you and your family have to like it and that’s what matters most. Enjoy the time decorating together…and laughing when it doesn’t work out quite right.

-Jaime

4 tips for dealing with toddler tantrums

Raising children is tough, especially during a toddler tantrum.  Parents want to minimize the likelihood of these emotional meltdowns and avoid tantrums caused by hunger, over-tiredness or frustration. Even with different parenting styles, tantrums are a normal part of development and preventing tantrums is not going to eliminate them.

Just because toddlers throw tantrums doesn’t mean they’re problem children or spoiled children. They’re normal kids coping with difficult emotions.  Naturally you should stop toddlers hitting or hurting others, but their frustrations are real.  They’re expressing themselves with a limited range of self-control.  

Kids in the House shares 4 things to help you both get through tantrums together:

1. Keep Your Emotions In Check During A Tantrum

The best thing you can do when your child is having a temper tantrum is stay calm.  Unfortunately, often unconsciously, parent’s minds can get the best of them, because they experience their child’s emotions through mirror neurons. 

“When our child is feeling out of control and full of rage, we start feeling that as well,” says psychotherapist and author Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. “Our nervous systems are captive and connected to one another.”

Don’t escalate the tantrum by shouting, “Calm down!” But you don’t want to be too calm yourself, either – your child will feel ignored.  That makes frustrations even worse.

“Say, “Oh, you’re so mad. Well, I’m feeling kind of frustrated too,’” Bryson says.  An upset child appreciates your empathy and will respond to it.

2. Know the Benefits of Tantrums

If you’re a parent who’s recently experienced a toddler tantrum, It’s hard to believe tantrums do have benefits.

“Tantrums are an opportunity for children to learn how to soothe themselves when they’re upset or distressed,” says child psychiatrist and author Dr. Joshua Sparrow.  “That’s an important skill they’ll need for the rest of their lives.”

Crying tantrums also release stress because tears release cortisol, the stress hormone. Too much stress can cause damage to the brain and internal organs.  Releasing negative feelings is healthy and feels good (which is why most kids bounce back so fast after a tantrum). 

3. Delay Punishment For Tantrums

A child in a tantrum is experiencing a storm of emotions they can’t control. Punishing tantrums only makes them worse.

“Once the tantrum the child is past a certain point of upset, the most important thing is for you both to survive the tantrum, ”says family psychologist John Grienenberger. “Don’t introduce something that’s going to be even more humiliating.  Wait until later if you need to add a consequence.”

4. Take Deep Breaths, Acknowledge Feelings and Be Patient

Support your child through a tantrum, saying as little as possible — when they’re in that state of upset and loss of balance, they can’t hear you anyway.

Acknowledge their feelings. Tell them you see they’re upset and you understand why: “You’re really upset because you can’t have the cookie.”Then wait it out. 

“Let the tantrum run its course,” says parent educator and author Betsy Brown Braun. “Later you can talk about it. ‘You were really upset. You didn’t like it when mommy said you couldn’t throw your toy, and you had a big fuss. Now you’re fine.’”

 

Foodie Friday: Citrus Lime Chicken Kids Will Love

My dear mother-in-law introduced me to this family favorite and I am asked for this recipe every time. It is perfect for dinner parties because everyone can just pick-and-choose what they want to add and serve themselves like Hawaiian Haystacks.

Only this is so much better.

The secret is in the dressing so make sure not to scrimp when you’re serving it. The fresh flavor tastes like a lovely blast of spring or summer!

citruschicken

[yumprint-recipe id=’20’]

Fun Friday: Glow in the Dark Fun!

Every Friday during the summer, we’ll feature five fun activities for kids. 

  1. Whether you call it slime, gak, or putty this homemade glow in the dark slime recipe is a fun activity for kids that will keep them occupied for hours.

glowslime

 

2. Fairies in a jar. Cut a glow stick and shake the contents into a jar. Add diamond glitter, seal the top with a lid and shake.

bottle-fairies

 

3. Easy DIY Projects For Kids – How to make glow in the dark NEON rice for play & learning activities.

glow rice

 

4. Glow in the dark Cotton Candy from B Lovely Events

Glow-In-The-Dark-Cotton-Candy

5. Glow in the Dark Bowling from My Kids Adventures

Indoor-Bowling-Collage-with-Text-1

6. Glow in the Dark Playdough from tinkerlab.

glow-playdough-recipe

7. Glow in the Dark Doodle Paint from Growing a Jeweled Rose

glow in the dark DOODLE

Treat Yourself to a Night Out with Denver Date Nite

When’s the last time you had a real date? I’m talking an honest-to-goodness, special evening for just you and your partner. Grabbing dinner on the way to an event with friends doesn’t count.

Here’s the thing: My husband and I are really pretty good about setting aside time for ourselves. But we’ve fallen into the rut of going to the same restaurants over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old school Italian joint down the block, but I was ready for something new.

That’s where Denver Date Nite comes in. This fairly new company is run by a Denver mom who found herself in the same position a lot of us do … wanting a night out but not sure just what that special night should entail. Denver Date Nite takes care of the planning for a small fee (think concierge) and—the coolest part—surprises you with a fully planned date (or a whole evening away!) Dinner, dancing, classes, an outdoor adventure—your date consultant will plan an entire evening of fun surprises.

Here’s how it works: You pick a day, a budget, and fill out an easy questionnaire. This part is important. My husband and I like laidback, local spots that aren’t trying too hard. I was able to share that information so we didn’t end up, like, doing Jager shots with bros in LoDo.

I listed our likes and got specific with certain requests (ex: Can there be cheese involved? Because we love cheese.) then shortly before our date, we got our itinerary. And, you guys, it was perfect for us.

We stayed in RiNo for the evening, with everything walkable. The night started out at Stem Ciders, where St. Kilian’s Cheese Shop was hosting a cider and cheese pairing. Yes. Just yes. We leisurely ate our cheese, sipped some delicious ciders, and played cards for a bit. It was just like we used to do before we had our son—chilling at a laidback bar playing gin instead of putting a toddler to bed then collapsing on the couch to watch “Game of Thrones”/“The Americans”/“Sherlock.”

Next, we ambled up the road to The Populist where our date consultant had set us up with the tasting menu. This was the highlight of our evening, just lounging on the amazing patio and taking our time with dinner. We spent an indulgent two and a half hours working our way through the tasting menu and ordering bartender’s choice cocktails.

Pro tip: Not having to worry about anything and just enjoy each other’s company is lovely … but maybe keep in mind how much you’re drinking. Since having my kid, my tolerance for alcohol has hovered somewhere between “Second grader at First Communion” and “Tenth grader stealing Mom’s Zimas.”

What I’m saying is, by the time we skipped across the street to Bar Fausto for post-dinner drinks, I was … feeling pretty fuzzy. I passed on drinks at Bar Fausto—I’ve been before and they make some amazing cocktails—but my husband had a great drink to cap off the equally great night.

We had a really fantastic evening letting Denver Date Nite plan for us. I loved the thought that went into our date night and how detailed everything was. Next time we’re scheduling a night to ourselves, instead of schlepping to the same restaurant I think we’ll be enlisting the savvy planners at Denver Date Nite. 

Jenny lives in Denver with her husband, son, and two fat tabbies. She’s a mom by day, a writer by night, and a traveler whenever she gets the chance. Follow her on her blog or on Twitter.

 

12 fun events in Denver this week!

It’s the weekend of the county fair, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival,  Denver Days and so much more. Don’t miss these fun Denver-area events and go to our event calendar for additional details. 
 
Arapahoe County Fair at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds 
Jul 28 – 31 
Find Fair Fun for Everyone at the Arapahoe County Fair, July 28 through the 31st. Get online discount tickets now for only $10 dollars. It is fun the whole herd with unlimited carnival rides, two nights of fireworks, the rodeo, concerts, barnyard friends, truck and tractor pulls, high-flying dog shows, motorsports, heritage activities and more.
 
 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival at Sloan’s Lake Park 
Jul 30  –  31 The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (CDBF) is a free family-friendly festival highlighting Colorado’s rich Asian Pacific American heritage at Sloan’s Lake Park in northwest Denver. A window to the Pan Asian world, this diverse festival is the only one of its kind in the United States.
 
Buffalo Bill Days at Buffalo Bill’s Grave
Jul 29  –  30
Golden will again be hosting its annual Buffalo Bill Days celebration. This event dates back to the 1940’s as a trail ride up Lookout Mountain to Buffalo Bill’s grave.The Buffalo Bill Days Committee has expanded the activities through the years and it is now the largest community festival held in Golden. 
 
First annual Breastival at Ruby Hill Park
Jul 30, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
The Breastival is a FREE event for Colorado families to support breastfeeding and kickoff World Breastfeeding Week, which is August 1-7th. There will be over 30 vendors with birthing, baby, and children info and supplies, food trucks, activities for all ages, a kickoff stroll for Mothers’ Milk Bank, baby yoga and massage classes, toddler music class, car seat safety demo, henna and face paintingDenver County Fair at the National Western Complex 
Jul 29 –  31 
We hear it all the time! It’s how we roll in Denver – a city founded by pioneers! Our annual Denver County Fair celebrates the creativity and personality of Denver, with events, exhibitors, blue ribbon competitions and more!Kid’s Cure Family Fun Walk for Brent’s Place at General’s Park Tickets 
Jul 30,  8:00 am – 12:00 pm
This free, fun, family friendly event starts with a walk around the UC Denver Anschutz Medical Campus with different zones including the Party Zone (with music and dancing), the Obstacle Course, and the Water Zone (with sprinklers and water slides).

4th Annual Cheesman Park Art Fest at Cheesman Park 
Jul 30 – 31 
130 juried artists and craftsmen from across the nation will be showcasing their work in the Cheesman Park Art Fest, a two-day outdoor festival in one of Denver’s prized historic parks.

BRICK Denver at Colorado Convention Center 
Jul 30 – 31 
Inspiring LEGO fans of all ages, this show has something for everyone; life size LEGO models from Superman to Cinderella, a live stage where you can meet professional builders, watch build demonstrations, participate in contests and much more.

Boulder County Fair at the Boulder County Fairgrounds 
Jul 29  – Aug 7 
Enjoy concerts, carnival rides, a petting zoo and livestock shows. See website for complete schedule of events and hours. Additional cost of some activities.

Boulder Summer Festival 2016 at Boulder Public Library
Jul 30, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Connecting nature with health through learning, exploring and play! Join us for an afternoon of movement, music, magic and hands-on activities designed to be educational and fun for all ages!

Denver Days 2016 
Jul 30  – Aug 7 
Denver Days is an initiative during the first week of August that encourages neighbors to get to know their neighbors by hosting block parties, picnics, and service projects.

Free Day at History Colorado Center 
Aug 1, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Monday August 1 – History Colorado Center (Colorado Day). Free admission.

Silverthorne, Colorado: A Place for Family Fun

Looking for family fun not far from the metro-Denver area? Just up the hill and through the tunnel (Eisenhower) on I-70 lies a “young town with a modern vision,” according to Silverthorne.org.

We found that claim to be true.

For each of these meals and activities we experienced — including fly fishing, stand up paddleboarding, and dancing at a live concert — I asked my family members (teen daughter, teen son, husband) for a brief review. Below is what we had to say (spoiler: my son steals the show).

3 Places to Play in Silverthorne

Fly Fishing* with Colorado Angler

I’m one of those hypocritical people who like to eat fish but really don’t like to kill fish. I wanted my kids to have the fishing experience, but I wasn’t too psyched about it for myself.

Like with so many things, the adventure turned out differently than I’d imagined. It wasn’t just the fish that was hooked. I ended up thoroughly enjoying fly fishing. Our guides Colin and Jonathan shared their knowledge and passion for their sport in a way that was infectious. I’d never given much thought to how in tune one must be with nature to understand the life cycles of both insects and trout, not to mention weather, the water cycle, river flow, and other rhythms. I found fly fishing to be very zen-like, in which one finds the balance between too much and too little within virtually all instructions given.

Our morning was peaceful and exhilarating at the same time. Among us we caught five fish, brown trout and rainbow trout. We gently released each of them (after photos, of course).

anglers

  • Daughter: “I caught two! It was fun and I’d like to do it again.”
  • Son: “I’m sure I would have caught one if you’d let me sleep another hour.”
  • Husband: “Our guides did a terrific job balancing instruction with fun.”

* Of course, the Colorado Angler offers other kinds of fishing, too.

249 Summit Place | 970.513.8055 | on Facebook

Stand Up Paddleboarding with Ten Mile Creek Kayaks

Turns out my daughter is quite a waterbaby here in landlocked Colorado. She took to fly fishing and paddleboarding like a mermaid. My son and husband, too, were at home on their paddleboards. It took me a little longer to feel like I wasn’t about to fall overboard and swim with the fishes, but eventually I got my sea legs.

Matti, a former professional skier, now offers rentals and guides for kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and SUPping. He met us early in the morning (well, 8 am) at Silverthorne’s beautiful North Pond Park, where we paddled for about an hour, chasing each other around the pond. None of us fell in and all of us had fun. We got good core workouts, too. We hope to SUP again later this summer.

sup

  • Daughter: “It made me use my muscles in a lot of different ways.”
  • Son: “I wish the rest of you could have kept up with me.”
  • Husband: “It was a little tricky at first, but soon it felt natural.”

Matti Wade | 970.668.9294 | on Facebook

Summer Concert Series at Rainbow Park

How fun is it to rock out under a beautiful summer sky? Bonus if you get to annoy your kids while doing so. Wash Park Band was playing the night we attended the Summer Concert Series at Rainbow Park. The band funked out with music from the 70s and 80s, as well as more current songs my kids like. People of all ages were on the dance floor (yes, they laid out a floor on the grass) having a blast.

rainbow

  • Daughter: “Mom, stop singing!”
  • Son: “Mom, stop dancing!”
  • Husband: “You were the one who wanted children.”

970.262.7300 | Town of Silverthorne on Facebook

5 Places to Eat in Silverthorne

Sunshine Cafe

Don’t wait until you’re starving for breakfast (or brunch or lunch) to come here because many mornings you’re likely to experience a wait. But so what? The food’s worth waiting for.

The Sunshine Cafe, a staple in Silverthorne for 35 years, has recently expanded and renovated thanks to a grant from the Town of Silverthorne. The food is as delicious and filling as ever, the servers just as attentive and friendly.

cafe

  • Daughter: “Good food and wonderful hearts ♥.”
  • Son: “I wish I had an extra stomach to put the rest of this in.”
  • Husband: “No one ever goes away hungry.”

250 Summit Place | 970.468.6663 | on Facebook

Blue Moon Bakery

This is a quickie place to get something to eat for now or for later. People come here in droves for a selection of breakfast burritos, salads, sandwiches and bakery delights that are reasonably priced and delicious. (I hear the proprietor is also a highly regarded wedding cake supplier for Summit County). You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu or in the case.bluemoon

  • Daughter: “Yummy cannoli!”
  • Son: “The desserts all look so good. I can’t decide. Can I have three?”
  • Husband: “The sandwiches are great take-out for our active day.”

253 Summit Place | 970.513.0669 | on Facebook

The Baker’s Brewery

Right off I-70 in a converted Village Inn, is a fabulous new restaurant that makes most of its own baked goods and beers. The locals love Baker’s Brewery as much as the tourists do. Brewmaster Corey is passionate about beer-making, creating regular and seasonal concoctions that please the palate and pair well with delicious meals. My sloppy joe was among the best I’ve tasted.

All four of us earned entry in the Clean Plate Club.

brewery

  • Daughter: “Phenomenal.”
  • Son: “I wish I was 21!”
  • Husband: “I wish I was 21! Seriously, this Barking Dog Brown is one of the best browns I’ve ever had.”

531 Silverthorne Lane | 970.468.0170 | on Facebook

The Mint Steakhouse

They’ll never mess up your steak. That’s what we were told by a local. Turns out it’s a fact — since patrons cook their own.

We started by choosing a meat. Husband opted for New York strip, and I chose a filet mignon (I’m a sucker for bacon wrap). We also chose from a selection of yummy sides.

We took our slabs to the community grill and cooked our main dish to perfection, thanks to the handy guide on the wall, seasoning just the way we wanted. By the time we got to our table, our sides were there. We tried the creamed spinach, asparagus spears, bashed potatoes (what we call twice-baked), and truffle fries.

It was the best 5 pounds I ever gained in one sitting.mint

  • Daughter: “The best filet mignon I’ve ever had!” [<== Also the first.]
  • Son: “The steak rocked, which was awesome. But where was the mint I was promised?”
  • Husband: “Perfect for grillers. Taps into a guy’s primal urge to mix red meat and fire.”

347 Blue River Parkway | 970.468.5247 | on Facebook

Higgles Ice Cream

Imagine my delight to find an ice cream infused with lavender. Higgles, located along the Blue River in a quaint stand, has the most breathtaking view of any ice cream shop I’ve ever frequented (there have been many). Of course, I — of the very purple blog LavenderLuz.com — opted for Lavender Honey. My family members chose Root Beer and Cookie Butter. We loved every last lick.

Higgles is another recipient of a business grant from the Town of SIlverthorne. The ice creams are made on site by owner Anna. She’s a national treasure, according to my ice cream-loving son.

higgles

  • Daughter: “Ah-mazing.”
  • Son: “I ate all three scoops. Mom wouldn’t let me have more.”
  • Husband: “My root beer ice cream was a nice complement to the Baker’s beers.”

354 Blue River Parkway (behind the Farm Stand) | 970.468.0450 | on Facebook

Where to Stay in Silverthorne

Hampton Inn & Suites

This newly opened hotel was perfect for our stay. The location is within walking distance to many of the activities and restaurants we enjoyed. The rooms are spacious and modern with breakfast included. The pool was a hit with the kids (the grownups may have chosen to nap instead). The beds are super comfy, the people helpful.

Ron, the friendly manager, said that the Hampton Inn Silverthorne is a favorite for wedding parties. And it’s an affordable winter option for ski trips, as Silverthorne is near several prime ski areas (Keystone, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge). There’s a free shuttle to the Outlet stores, one of Silverthorne’s main draws (aside from fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, tubing, snowboarding, rafting, kayaking).

Hampton Inn & Suites is now our Silverthorne go-to hotel.

hampton

  • Daughter: “The pool was fun for families.”
  • Son: “I flexed my muscles in the fitness room. That’s why I need more ice cream.”
  • Husband: “Very modern — we didn’t have to fight over outlets. Affordable, too.”

Note: Colorado Angler, Sunshine Cafe, and Blue Moon Bakery are a mere 2 minute walk from The Hampton Inn.

177 Meraly Way | 970.368.3520 | on Facebook

Making Silverthorne Your Destination

Back in the 1880s, the area attracted gold miners. Fifty years ago, Silverthorne was a construction camp for workers building Dillon Dam. Nowadays, it’s a vibrant ski, river, and shopping destination. Besides the activities described here, families may also:

This is what my family enjoyed this trip. What will your family most enjoy in the Town of Silverthorne?silverthorne

Disclosure: experiences were provided by the organizations mentioned here for purposes of writing this article.

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adoption bookLori Holden, mom of a teen daughter and a teen son, blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available in paperback, hard cover, audio and e-book versions. It makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.

Win tickets to the Gateway Park Fun Center in Boulder – fun for the whole family!

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I lived right near Gateway Park Fun Center and would practice at the batting cages when we were first dating.  But this time, we took the whole family, and had a great time!

gateway2The Gateway Park Fun Center is located on Highway 28, in North Boulder, and is a fun place for both kids and adults.  Attraction options include:  Driving Range, Batting cages, two 18-hole miniature golf courses, Go-kart track for kids and adults (two-seaters permitted on adults track), an arcade and snack bar (all indoors), and a human maze with a scavenger hunt.

We tried all of the above, except the driving range this time. The Center also boasts an event center on- site to host corporate events.  The scenery is gorgeous, and you can host parties at a smaller pavilion near the batting cages.  You can book birthday parties through the Center and add on pizzas, drinks, cake and ice cream.  Different packages are available.  The staff is amazing- professional, attentive, and run the attractions well. 

You can buy a value card for $29.00 to access everything.  It’s a good deal and can be shared between a few people.  For example, we had two cards, and were all able to play  one round of miniature golf each, ride the go karts, multiple times, enter the maze, hit balls at the batting cages, and still had plenty of punches left to play in the arcade.  The website has specials other than the value card as well, so check those and other deals available on the net before you head out.    

I highly recommend the mini-golf course.  There are two to choose from and both are 18-hole courses.  The course is fun, with water obstacles, windmills, and a lot of fun for kids and adults alike.  Each hole is marked with what number hole it is and the average PAR.  The course is easy, fun, and you do not need to bring a thing.  They provide putter and ball and a score card.  The same goes for all attractions like batting cages and driving range – if you forget your equipment, they loan you bats, helmets, and golf clubs free of charge.  The Center is well-run and extremely clean.  I was impressed with the entire facility. 

gateway4We walked through the maze, and the girls were excited about their scavenger hunt through it to find the letters M, A, Z, and E.  The Go-Karts were a lot of fun as well.  There is a kids’ course, but the highlight was the longer, faster adult Go-Kart track (or taller kids can ride alone).  The seats for the go karts get hot but they spray them down with cold water for you.  The rules are all explained, and safety comes first at Gateway Park Fun Center. 

Since we went on the hottest day of the year, we also spent time in the arcade and won a lot of tickets to use on prizes.  The snack bar is reasonably priced, and concessions are your general fare- ice cream, drinks, nachos, pretzels, pizza and more!  I hope you all enjoy the Gateway Park Fun Center as much as we did.  As we learned on this trip, it’s more than just batting cages.

Ratna blogs as Get Clued In! and can be spotted sharing fun reviews and life posts at getcluedincolorado.com

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a family four-pack of tickets to Gateway Park Fun Center! You may enter as many as five times.

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New immunization rules make it harder for Colorado parents to opt out

A newly updated immunization database created by Chalkbeat reveals that Boulder remains a hotspot for the anti-vaccination movement, students in districts with racial and income diversity are more likely to get their shots and nearly half of schools in the database did a better job this year tracking students’ immunization records.

The database, which includes more than 1,200 schools in Colorado’s 30 largest districts, is the largest collection of school-by-school immunization data available in the state.

New rules recently took effect that make it harder for parents to opt their children out of shots and lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive state-run database expected to go live next spring. That database, available to the public, will include immunization and exemption rates for not just Colorado schools but also licensed child care providers.

The new rules come about two years after the passage of a state law that required schools to release immunization and exemption rates upon request and instructed the State Board of Health to determine how often parents should submit exemption forms.

Public health advocates say giving parents access to immunization data helps them gauge the risk of communicable disease outbreaks and make informed choices about where to send their children for school or child care. Colorado has one of the lowest immunization rates in the country, partly because it’s relatively easy to opt children out of shots.

There’s a huge push to make Colorado healthier and embed health and wellness into schools, said Stephanie Wasserman, executive director of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition.
“Immunization is kind of foundational to all that,” she said.

Boulder County mom Lindsey Diamond, a vaccine advocate living in a community where many parents do not give their kids shots, agrees.

When considering where to send her 2-year-old son next fall, she asked every provider for their immunization rates. Diamond settled on a preschool where just one child was exempt from shots for medical reasons.

Elementary school is still a few years away, but she and her husband are keeping an eye on the rates at nearby schools in the St. Vrain Valley district—where immunization levels are all over the map.
“It’s been on our radar,” she said.

Data highlights

This is the second year Chalkbeat has built a database of immunization rates. A review of the new data reveals that many of last year’s findings persist. (See this story for charts illustrating the trends.)

Among the highlights:

  • Three-quarters of Boulder Valley’s 65 schools have exemption rates of 10 percent or higher and 13 schools have exemption rates of 25 percent or higher.
  • Outside of Boulder County, most districts have relatively few schools where large numbers of parents exempt their children from shots.
  • In many Colorado districts, exemption rates tend to be higher in some charter schools or schools with alternative philosophies such as Montessori or Waldorf.
  • Just over half of schools in Chalkbeat’s database have immunization rates of 90 percent or higher. (Immunization rates of 90-95 percent within a group help protect that group from disease, especially people who can’t be vaccinated because they are too young or have a medical condition.)
  • Districts where a large majority of schools have high immunization rates run the gamut, suggesting that socioeconomic status is not the only factor at work. The top district is Cherry Creek — which is often portrayed as wealthy but is increasingly diverse. Meanwhile, most schools in poorer districts such as Pueblo, Mapleton and Westminster also have high immunization rates.
  • In Denver, about 56 percent of more than 200 schools have immunization rates of 90 percent or better, and only six schools have exemption rates higher than 10 percent.
  • In neighboring Aurora, nearly two-thirds of more than 50 schools have immunization rates of 90 percent or better, and only one has an exemption rate higher than 10 percent.
  • Compliance rates—an indicator of how hard schools are working to make sure they have students’ immunization or exemption paperwork—improved at about 45 percent of schools in 2015-16.
  • Compliance rates worsened at just over 40 percent of schools—many of them high schools.

State health officials say the lower compliance rates at many high schools likely resulted from a rule change that took effect last school year requiring all high-schoolers to have a second dose of the chickenpox vaccine. As a result, some students who would have been considered fully immunized in previous years were out of compliance in 2015-16. Eventually, as more parents learn about the two-dose requirement, health officials expect the problem to resolve.

Asking for the data doesn’t mean you’ll get it

Although Colorado law requires the the release of immunization rates to the public, they can still be hard to get.

This year, Chalkbeat requested immunization and exemption rates in January. Several districts, however, declined to release them until March or April because district officials said they were waiting on fixes to a commonly used student data system where immunization information is housed.

But by late spring, even as most districts were reporting that the glitches had been fixed, there was still some pushback. For example, officials in the Lewis-Palmer district near Colorado Springs said they could offer only inaccurate data for their schools.

Later, they provided some updated information, but said it was only accurate for three of nine schools where a nurse had carefully tallied the rates and not relied on the student data system.
Next year, not only will the state health department compile immunization rates for the new statewide database, there will be a Dec. 1 due date for districts to submit the information.

“We’re already geared up for that,” said Julie Stephens, Lewis-Palmer’s public information officer.

While some school health leaders say they like the idea of sharing school immunization rates with the public, it can be a lot of extra work for school nurses.

Jean Lyons, nursing supervisor for Denver Public Schools, said she’s torn. “I think we have to look at it as an opportunity to make our community healthy,” she said. At the same time, she called the reporting requirements an unfunded mandate, saying, “I really empathize with the small districts that have fewer resources internally.”

Stricter requirements for opting out

In addition to the new state database, new immunization rules that are now in effect will require parents who excuse their children from shots for personal or religious reasons to do so more often.

Starting in the 2016-17 school year, parents of K-12 children will be required to submit the exemption forms annually and parents of younger children will need to submit the forms up to five times prior to kindergarten. (There will be no change to the process for claiming a medical exemption from shots.)

Previously, parents often had to submit the forms only once during their child’s educational career.

Public health experts say the more stringent requirements will help reduce exemptions claimed out of convenience rather than conviction and help push down Colorado’s higher-than-average exemption rates. Parents opposed to the change have argued that they think carefully about their vaccine decisions and shouldn’t have to jump extra bureaucratic hurdles.

Other efforts to change the exemption process in Colorado have failed in recent months, highlighting the state’s vocal anti-vaccine constituency. Last spring, a bill that would have required parents to submit exemption forms centrally to the state health department instead of their child’s school drew emotional testimony and was eventually killed in the State House.

Are you curious to know where your school stands on immunizations?

Chalkbeat published a database of school-by-school immunization rates for Colorado’s 30 largest school districts. Chalkbeat staff have combed through the data looking for trends and trouble spots. Most of the highest exemption schools are in the Boulder Valley district.

Photo: by Lindsay Pierce/Denver Post