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14 Valentine’s Day Ideas for Treats, Cards and Activities!

I have decided there is no more polarizing holiday than Valentine’s Day. When I took an informal poll from my Facebook friends about how they celebrate the holiday, I received a few helpful suggestions but mostly I was lambasted at even the thought of celebrating.

And that made me pretty sad. Whatever your relationship status, Valentine’s Day should be about love. Not just romantic love but motherly love. Sibling love. Love of self. Lover of chocolate. (Note: the last two are unremittingly linked).

So, whether you’re the Grinch that sulked on Valentine’s Day or you’re a lover at heart (ha, get it?), don’t miss these 14 ideas that will keep you swooning.

Post-it notes for Valentines Day. All the things you love about your significant other or children.

heart

 Easy Valentine’s Crafts are where it’s at. Make a little something like this easy sign to share the love!  

lovesign

“Shooting for Brownie Points.” Perfect for a teacher gift!

brownie

Take a deck of cards and write 52 Things I Love About You!

52things

 So glad you are my stud muffin!

stud

Countdown to Valentine’s Day with these cute ideas and printables.

14DaysVDay

Guaranteed, kids will love these Valentine’s Day-themed Fortune Tellers!

fortune

Valentine’s Day science fun.

science

I’ve got my eyes on you. But not in a stalkerish way, of course.

eyes

This is a great non-candy option.

write

“You are my perfect match.” Just not the pyromaniac kind as these matches are edible.

math

There’s nothing quite like a Glowstick Valentine, which is the gift that keeps on giving…until it runs out.

glow

Red Velvet Poke Cake with sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese? Sign me up!

poke

Finally, if you’re a chocolate lover, you will LOVE these Melted White Chocolate Brownie Bites!

browniebites

Deals: Newsies, free dental exam and more

The first thing I bought when I got my first job out of college was a gym membership. I had friends that were buying new cars or whatever and I bought a gym membership! I was recently introduce to a new gym in town (there are actually three locations and two more coming soon) – Chuze Fitness. It is new. It is clean. There are also fun little pluses like group training (personal training in a class atmosphere), group classes, tanning, aqua massage, an awesome kid’s club and Chuze theater – which really feels like a movie theater where you work out instead of just sitting on your duff. You can try it for seven days for free! 
 
Arapahoe Library presents Bachelor Sean. I am a sucker for The Bachelor (on ABC) – maybe because I hope that I can find my own bachelor at some point. But I am also a sucker for my library. Arapahoe Library has brought in some fun authors in the past (I met the Andrew McCarthy that way). They are doing it again with Bachelor Sean Lowe as a new author. The event is free (but you need to register) or you can purchase a ticket for just $30 to meet and greet. It  takes place February 10 at the Embassy Suites DTC.
 
Colorado Garden and Home Show. Rocky Mountain region’s oldest, largest and most prestigious garden and home show with over 1,400 booths and over 650 companies. The nine-day spectacular event is from February 4 to 12 at the Colorado Convention Center. There you can find inspiration from the latest ideas and trends in landscaping, gardening and home improvement. Plus, it is inexpensive fun. Adults are just $12. Kids 12 and under are FREE. Additional discounts can be found by purchasing tickets at King Soopers; go MondayThursday when tickets are 2 for 1; or bring a canned food item (donation to Food Bank) for $2 off adult tickets. 
 
Risas Dental. In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, Risas Dental and Braces will offer free exams and x-rays for all children ages 18 and under between Feb. 1 – Feb. 28. Parents can make an appointment for the free exam and x-rays at any of Risas’ Denver-area bilingual offices, by calling 720-536-0401 or they can book online at www.risasdental.com. Denver-Area Locations: Wheat Ridge – 3815 N. Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033; Federal Heights – 8383 Pecos St., Denver, CO 80221; Denver South – 2731 W. Evans Ave., Denver, CO 80219; Aurora South – 3575 S. Chambers Rd., Aurora, CO 80014; Aurora North – 11479 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, CO 80010 (Opening Feb. 2017).
 
Uncorked Kitchen. Are you thinking about summer camp already? Uncorked Kitchen offers fun classes like eight themed camp weeks for kids and teens to have fun and create delicious meals to share with your family! Camp weeks will run from June 5th through August 3rd. Ages 7-10 yrs. (“Half-day” Camp Sessions): All camp sessions run M–F mornings from 9:30am–12:30pm.  $420 per camp week. Ages 11-17 yrs. (“Half-day” OR “All-day” Camp Sessions): Half-day camp sessions run M–F afternoons from 1:30am–4:30pm. $420 per camp week; All-day camp sessions run M–F from 9:30am-2:30pm.  (Lunch is included)  $620 per camp week. MileHighMamas readers get 30% off when they use the code: MHMSumCamp30.
 
Newsies Musical on the Big Screen. Seize the day one last time! Disney Theatrical Productions presents Newsies: The Broadway Musical coming to Denver metro area theatres for an exclusive three-day event (2/16, 2/18 & 2/22)! The worldwide cinema debut of the Tony Award-winning musical will also showcase behind the scenes extra content plus cast and crew interviews. Don’t miss your chance to see it! Enter by emailing “FathomEventsDenver@gmail.com” with your name and mailing address, and please include “Newsies – Mile High Mamas” in the subject line for your entry to be valid. Entry deadline is Friday, February 10 at 1:00PM MT. One entry per household, must be 13 years or older to enter. Tickets cannot be transferred in whole or in part, refer to pass for further details. Visit the link below for participating theatres and ticketing information.https://www.fathomevents.com/events/disneys-newsies-the-broadway-musical
 
Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme is introducing their new coffees perfectly paired with their donuts. Just to prove it, through February, they are offering a free donut with the purchase of a coffee.
 
Valentines Gift. I buy myself valentine’s gifts. Do you? Here’s a great idea of something that continues to give! Join FabFitFun and get their box quarterly! MileHighMamas readers get $10 off their first box making it just $39.99! (It has over $200 worth of stuff in it so it is a pretty great deal). Use Code: COZY when you purchase. 
 
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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!
Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter so you can forward these great deals to your friends.
If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

How to Raise Passionately Generous Children

One of the most frequent conversations I have with other parents is around raising our kids to be thoughtful and empathetic vs. entitled. Yet, our children are who most innately embrace the true definition of philanthropy: love of humankind.

Philanthropy helps solidify family values, communication, and trust. By deciding together where to spend your time, talent, and/or treasure, children can learn leadership, decision-making, confidence, organization, empathy, and more.

In raising my daughter, Sophie, I’ve focused upon her cultivating a sense of gratitude and kindness. Through countless botched “teaching moments” and breakthroughs, here are some nuggets I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Lead by Example.Talk about your philanthropy. Talking about giving increases by 20% the likelihood that children will give. This holds true across race, gender, and age. When appropriate, have your kids join in when you volunteer. 
  1. Show Enthusiasm and Support for their Interests.Encourage children to get involved in a cause they care about, or better yet, create opportunities to collaborate on the cause. Explore options together: charitable giving, volunteering, or being of service with your unique talents. 
  1. Make It a Family Affair.In our busy family lives filled with sports, homework, play dates, and more, engaging in philanthropy is a great way to spend quality time as a family while helping a worthy cause and instilling core values. When your family has decided upon what cause you would like to support, commit to year-round service, even if only quarterly, and choose times to evaluate impact upon the organization you’ve supported, and the impact upon your family. This can be formalized with creating videos, scrapbooks, and children reporting back at your family gathering: “What I learned this year about the cause, and about myself.”
  1. Use books, movies, and other mediums to discuss giving. Throughout children’s books, television shows, and movies, the theme of giving often appears. Use these mediums as springboards for deeper conversations with your child about what it means to give, how it feels to receive, and why giving is important.

Shameless plug: My daughter and I co-created a philanthropy/acts of kindness children’s book to inspire conversations around giving back and the yummy feeling it creates in our hearts.  Aimed at a pre-K through elementary-school audience, The Secret Adventures of Anonymouse is the story of a tiny mouse with a big heart, and the transformative power of anonymous good deeds upon a community.  While Sophie is simply the original Anonymouse, the vision is to inspire countless “Anonymice” to pursue their own kindness adventures.kindness1

In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 12-18, you can share your child’s random act of kindness on our website for the chance to win a school visit by the original Anonymouse!  Sophie Lynn will go to one lucky winner’s school, girl scout troop or other group of your choice for a reading of the book and interactive activity including creating kindness superhero masks!  Either way, Sophie will personally respond to every submission!

Like most parents, generosity and empathy are values I wanted Sophie to cultivate to help make the world a more kind and loving place in which to grow up.  We invite you to join us!

Natalie Lynn Rekstad

Family Volunteer Opportunities + Refugee Resources

Do you want to get your family more involved with helping others while bonding and doing some good in the world? Volunteers of America Colorado has a few great volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages. Email mbarfuss [at] voacolorado [dot] org for more information.
 
 
Snow Buddies. Help shovel the sidewalks for our senior clients. Winter can be a hard time for seniors and unshoveled walks can make them miss doctors appointments, be isolated, get injured or even get fined. Volunteer as a Snow Buddy and we will match you up with a senior you in your area. When it snows, you go over and shovel their sidewalks and driveways. It is an easy way to give back to your neighbors.
 
Mission Meals.  Volunteers are needed to help serve dinner at VOA’s Mission, a day shelter for the homeless, Monday – Thursday. Volunteer will set up, serve and clean up dinner from 4:15 – 6:30. Volunteer must be 14 years or older.  The VOA Mission is located at:
2877 Lawrence St.
Denver, CO 80205

Runnin’ of the Green. The 29th annual Runnin’ of the Green is a 7K run/walk or a Leprechaun Leap 2 mile run/walk on Sunday, March 12th from 7:00 am-2:00 pm (shifts will vary).  Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, course marshaling, waves, breakdown and much much more.  Proceeds from the race benefit Volunteers of America’s programs. Join them after your shift for an unforgettable post race block party. Note:  Must be 18+ to volunteer. Want to volunteer with your family? Check out their Family Water Station- email rallnutt@voacolorado.org for more information.
 
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If you are disheartened by the conflicts that have arisen over immigrants and refugees, here are a few resources:

– 7 common myths about refugee resettlement in the United States.

– Related: A Syrian family of refugees who has settled in Boston describe the vetting process they went through.

Statistically speaking, refugees who get resettled in the USA have found the ultimate pot of gold. Out of 65 million refugees in the world, only 1 percent of them will get resettled. Half of that 1 percent will resettle in the United States. Local resettlement agencies can get overwhelmed with an increasing number of incoming refugee families and limited budgets.

Donating goods is good and donating cash is often better. There are dozens of grass-roots organizations on the ground that provide basic necessities to refugees directly and hands-on. For example, LHI uses donated money to purchase vegetables, cooking oil, rice, lentils, tea, sugar, flour, dish detergent, laundry powder, shampoo, soap, diapers and many other basic items for the 525+ refugees in our camp.

Some organizations doing good work on the ground that could benefit from donations include:

 

This Valentine’s Day, the Y Wants to Give the Gift of a Healthy Heart

I’m a longtime member of my nearby YMCA branch. You can find me there for yoga or Zumba classes several times a week.

Since my now-teenage son was in 1st grade, he has played on a basketball league there, the rest of the family cheering his games from the stands. Our daughter has played volleyball, and my husband takes advantage of the weight room. Each of us has made new friends through the Y. Our YMCA is part of the fabric of our lives.ymca

So when I heard that the Y can help with all things heart-y this month, I wanted to encourage my fellow Mile High Mamas to check out your local Y. Here’s a short and timely message from the YMCA, as well as information on the facility closest to you. — Lori Holden

Not sure what to give your loved ones this year for Valentine’s Day? Your local YMCA has you covered. As a leading nonprofit organization, the Y organizes a number of programs to keep the hearts of every member of your family happy and healthy.

For Valentine’s day this year, you can keep the love alive for those close to your heart, and your surrounding community members through a Y membership or donation. Programs that promote a love of heart health include:

Blood Pressure Management Program

This program aids adults with high blood pressure to help them better understand how to negate its impact. The program encourages members to regularly monitor and track blood pressure readings, increases physical activity, and promotes heart healthy food choices.

EnhanceFitness

A moderate-impact class with high-impact results, EnhanceFitness is an evidence-based exercise program for older adults that uses simple, easy to learn movements to motivate participants to stay active.

Diabetes Prevention Program

Certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this small-group program helps people with prediabetes eat healthier, increase their physical activity, and lose weight, which can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Each program offers ways to protect hearts across the country. Available through the Y’s community integrated health initiative, these programs connect traditional health care with community-based prevention strategies, which make healthcare more affordable and accessible.

You can find your local Y here, and you can call to see if yours participates in the aforementioned programs. YMCA branches in metro Denver include:

Arvada: Susan M. Duncan Family YMCA
6350 Eldridge St
Arvada, CO 80004-3616
Phone: 303-422-4977

Aurora Family YMCA
27151 E. Lakeview Drive
Aurora, CO 80016
720-870-2221

Community Program Branch at Manual High School YMCA
1700 East 28th Ave
Denver, CO 80205-
Phone: 303-292-2281

Downtown YMCA
25 E 16th Ave Unit B
Denver, CO 80202-5195
Phone: 303-861-8300

Glendale Branch YMCA
4500 East Kentucky Ave
Glendale, CO 80246
Phone: 303-639-4711

Littleton Branch YMCA
11 W Dry Creek Ct
Littleton, CO 80120-2038
Phone: 303-797-9622

Southwest-Chatfield Branch YMCA
5181 W Kenyon Ave
Denver, CO 80236-2901
Phone: 303-761-7530

University Hills Schlessman Branch YMCA
3901 E Yale Ave
Denver, CO 80210-6646
Phone: 720-524-2750

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My family is thankful to have the Y as part of our community and our lives. Join your local branch, or find ways you can give, receive, and volunteer through your neighborhood YMCA.

adoption bookLori Holden is mom to a teen daughter and a teen son. She credits the Y with helping keep her strong and sane. Lori blogs regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and mindfulness. 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.

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, women (and men) everywhere are looking for something special to share with their sweetie. Chocolates will be presented a million times over. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get chocolate-covered strawberries. And if you’re REALLY REALLY lucky, you’ll get this Strawberry Dark Chocolate Ice Cream!
 
To make this ice cream, you will need an ice cream maker. I recommend the Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt–Ice Cream Maker. It doesn’t use any salt or ice, and your ice cream will be ready in half an hour or less.
 
You’ll also need whole milk, sugar, cream, strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and dark chocolate. 
 
You will need to plan ahead a little to make this ice cream. But Valentine’s Day is all about planning ahead, right? So this should be no problem. The reason this takes some advanced planning is so you can properly prepare the strawberries.
 
If you have ever used frozen strawberries in smoothies, you know that they are rocks. We don’t want strawberry rocks in our ice cream. The way to avoid this is to put the cut-up strawberries in a bowl on the counter with some sugar and a little lemon juice and just let it all sit for a couple of hours. The juice will be drawn out of the strawberries, and the sugar will go into the strawberries. This is the magic that prevents your strawberries from freezing in the ice cream, because sugar inhibits the formation of ice crystals.
 
From there, you just mix everything together (except the strawberries and dark chocolate) and churn it up! The last five minutes, add your strawberries. Then as you transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, drizzle the melted dark chocolate over it. Voila! Romantic ice cream that tastes just like chocolate-covered strawberries!
 
For more great ice cream recipes, visit Ice Cream Inspiration.
 
 
 
[yumprint-recipe id=’106′]

Contest: Your Healthcare Questions Answered (and win $100 and $500!)

If I had to make a Top 10 Most Dreaded List, selecting a healthcare plan and dealing with the ongoing complication of co-pays, deductibles, what is covered, what doctors are “in network,” terms like “HSA,” generic vs. non-generic prescriptions and so many more are enough to overwhelm the best of us. 

I grew up in Canada with socialized medicine that involves a single-payer system where the government finances and provides the care. There are huge pluses to this kind of system where you’re guaranteed care but there are also long waiting lists and substandard treatment. There’s no question that American health care, a mixture of private insurance and public programs, is a mess. And when you’re self-employed like my husband and me, navigating our healthcare is an ongoing battle. 

When UnitedHealthcare offered to team up to help bring clarity to the confusion, I was all-in. I appreciate the efforts they are making to help everyone (not only their customers) understand the intricacies of healthcare plans in a fun way.

Some additionally awesome news: you have three separate chances to win big cash prizes in their sweepstakes from February 1st-28th.  Each engagement has its own sweepstake with the following prizes:

• One $100 weekly winner

• One $500 monthly winner

    1. Health Facts 1 2 3. This simple, 3-question multiple choice quiz addresses how to use your healthcare plan. Take their Health Facts 1 2 3 quiz herefacts
    2. Look and Learn: Watch this short video about what steps you take after enrolling in a healthcare plan. After watching it, answer one question that pertains to the video. looklearn
    3. Perfect Match: How’s your memory? This fun memory/concentration game with generic health care terms helps you understand the basic terminology that you may come across in your health care plan.perfectmatch

Note: You do not have to have UnitedHealthcare to enter.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. Go to UnitedHealthcare.com to find out how they are helping consumers feel empowered about your healthcare knowledge and helping you make more informed choice for your family.

11 fun things to do in Denver this week

From the Colorado Garden & Home Show to free days at the Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum, Chatfield Farms and Children’s Museum, there are plenty of fun events in Denver this weekend. See our event calendar for full listings.

Colorado Garden & Home Show at the Colorado Convention Center 
Feb 4 – 12 
Discover the Rocky Mountain region’s oldest, largest and most prestigious garden and home show – a nine-day spectacular event – where you can find inspiration from the latest ideas and trends in landscaping, gardening and home improvement.

Free Day at the Denver Zoo 
Feb 2, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Fancy Pants: A First Friday of Lovely Wearables & Tokens of Love at the Ink Lounge
Feb 3, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Join Fancy Pants for their first micro market and First Friday of 2017: Fancy Pants. They have matters of the heart on their mind in February so they’ve lined up a group of local artisans that create items for you to don when heading out on the town with your sweetie and/or the perfect tokens of love.

Break the Ice Weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch 
Feb 4 –  5
The Break the Ice Weekends, taking place February 4-5, and February 18-19 will feature free guided ski & snowshoe hikes plus so much more.

Free Day at the Denver Art Museum
Feb 4, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
General admission is free on the first Saturday of the month thanks to Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

Bald Eagle Festival at the Barr Lake State Park 
Feb 4, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
The Fifth Annual Bald Eagle Festival will have crafts for the kids and a live raptor presentation that everyone will enjoy. They will shuttle guests on the Eagle Express to and from the gazebo. Kids can join a Naturalist for BuildIt Big!, constructing a life-sized replica of a Bald eagle nest. There will also be a 3-mile round-trip guided hike. 

Vintage Valentines Photography Session at the Bloom Portraits 
Feb 4, 10:30 am – 3:00 pm
Join Bloom Portraits for their Vintage Valentines Day Photography Event. They will have treats, drinks and goodie bags for the kids, – 10-15 minute shoot on their limited edition Valentine’s Day studio sets, discounts and more.

Boulder Opera: The Fireringers at the Lousiville Arts Center
Feb 5 
Boulder Opera presents a musically compelling and visually stimulating chamber opera for children that takes them on a journey around the world, exploring fire myths of three different cultures. Young audience members will meet a singing rainbow crow, the god of thunder, and a Caiman, only to name a few. 

Free Day at the Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms 
Feb 7, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Free Days occur throughout the year at both York Street and Chatfield Farms, thanks to funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). No tickets are needed for admission to Free Days. Free Days are for regular Gardens hours only and do not include ticketed events.

Free Day at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus 
Feb 7, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Through Target’s generous sponsorship of the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, families can play for FREE the first Tuesday of each month from 4 – 8 pm

Mattress Firm Foster Kids Pajama Drive
Jan 9  – Feb 12 
All 56 Mattress Firm stores in the Denver area are hosting a Pajama Drive, the first of Mattress Firm Foster Kids’ six 2017 donation drives to benefit local foster youth and families.

Warning: Girl Scout Cookies Ahead!

It’s the most wonderful and dreaded time of the year: when the Girl Scouts start peddling their wares to the tune of Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Samoas, Tagalongs and Do-si-dos.  The Girl Scout’s cookie tradition began when an Oklahoma troop held a school bake sale in 1917 and it has evolved into one of the biggest non-holiday seasons of the year.

So, as you’re blowing your healthy-eating New Year’s resolution, here are a few items to keep you laughing. 

Chad Prather. Girls marching. Enough said. 

Eleven-year-old Charlotte McCourt’s efforts to sell her cookies are hilarious. When she heard that her dad’s friend from high school was “very rich,” she saw the perfect opportunity to unload 300 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.

Transparency was the name of her game so she wrote a hilariously honest review of the cookies.  Her most despised flavor? The dreaded Toffee-tastic.

“It is a bleak, flavorless gluten-free wasteland,” Charlotte wrote. “It is flavorless as dirt. I give it a 1.”

When her father discovered the email in his sent folder on his computer he sent it to actor and TV host Mike Rowe – with whom he works on his podcast – who was so amused that he shared a video of himself reading the letter on his Facebook page. 

At last count, Charlotte has sold 7,000+ boxes and has provided us all with pure comedy gold. 

 

 

Final “Beauty and the Beast” Trailer is worth the wait!

The end is almost here. 

In less than two months the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” will finally hit the big screen. Catch a glimpse of the beauty herself, Belle (Emma Watson), and of what’s to come in the final trailer of the film.

“Beauty and the Beast” opens in theaters March 17.