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This New Rock Climbing Route In Colorado’s Newest State Park is For the Girls

Photo: Brittany Leavitt of Brown Girls Climb at the top of the newly bolted route, tentatively called Patterson’s Pitch. The route was named after Mary Jane Patterson, the woman who is presumed to be the first African-American woman to receive a Bachelor’s degree.

Staunton State Park, southwest of Denver, has a new sport climbing route. That’s the kind of rock climbing route with anchors permanently bolted into the rock so that climbers can clip in with carabiners for protection as they go. The folks who set that route are on a mission to make rock climbing more inclusive. 

Alan Prehmus is a longtime volunteer with the park and has been setting routes since he moved to Colorado in the 90s.

“At that time I was climbing a lot in the South Platte area, and there weren’t very many easy routes out there. There were some really hard routes, and there were some easy routes that were horrifically protected,” Prehmus said. “So I got myself a drill, and I went out and established a couple of easy climbs.

He also wants to see challenging routes made safer for people of all body types, not just the stereotypical lanky guy who can reach a long way to the next anchor. He recalled recently watching several women climb a route far beyond his own ability. 

“The first woman to give it a try got through the hard part, and then there was a 12-foot gap between bolts. She looked at that gap and said, ‘I’m not doing that,’” he said.

 

 

 

-Avery Lill, CPR

One Denver family’s fight for special education services during remote learning

Jennifer and Jamin Alabiso proposed what they thought was an innovative way for their 10-year-old son, who has autism, to receive special education services during remote learning — specifically, the 45 minutes per day of reading help he needs to reach grade level.

The family lives less than a block from his Denver school, and teachers had already been by the house several times to drop off supplies. Would it be possible for the special education teacher to sit with their son outside on the front porch, masks on, for his reading lessons? If not on the front porch, then maybe on the school playground? Or even inside an empty classroom?

The school said no to the idea. At the time, all Denver students were set to start the school year remotely because district officials deemed classroom learning unsafe due to COVID-19. The Alabisos were told their son’s school couldn’t make an exception for him.

“Reading is hard for him,” said his father, Jamin. During remote learning, when the teacher asks his son to read, “he can just escape. That’s why you need to be in person — because he can’t turn you off. He can’t walk away from you. He can’t close the top of his Chromebook.”

Frustrated, the family filed a complaint in August with the Colorado Department of Education, alleging the district was denying their son a “free and appropriate public education” as guaranteed by law. Denver Public Schools responded, arguing it had done nothing wrong.

Late last month, the state ruled mostly in favor of Denver Public Schools. The Alabisos’ son would continue to learn remotely. But two weeks later, the district changed its mind.

 

 

 

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Helping Kids Through the Pandemic With Stories

“Mom, when can I have a sleepover?” I felt my eight-year-old daughter’s body stiffen as she lay next to me in the dark, waiting for an answer. I enjoy our bedtime chat, but dread questions like this. Before the pandemic, we had planned her first sleepover with friends. At the point of this conversation, sleepover plans were on hold indefinitely.

My three children had generally handled social distancing well. To protect our parents, we had treated the pandemic as though we also were vulnerable late-70-somethings: remote schooling, no shared indoor spaces, etc. We did not want to cut the grandparents off from our kids, especially my mother who lives alone and had recently moved two thousand miles to Central Park to be closer to her grandchildren.

Our kids played with each other and made up increasingly creative projects. But all was not well. At least once an hour, screaming arguments erupted among some combination of the kids. (I’ll admit, my husband and I, struggling to manage childcare along with two demanding jobs, did not always keep our cool with these disputes.) My daughter complained regularly of stomach aches that the pediatrician finally attributed to anxiety.

Now, in the dim light, I saw my daughter’s hands gripping her belly. At a loss, I tried something new.

“Once upon a time,” I began, “there was a girl who lived in a house just like ours. One day she heard a cracking sound. She ran to the window and saw her street breaking apart. The ocean had rushed in and now each house was separating into its own island …”

I could feel my daughter’s body gradually relaxing beside me. Like most parents, I had discovered that stories work wonders at soothing, entertaining, and explaining the world to children. My kids ignore a lot of what I say, but stories leave them demanding: “keep telling it!”

Over the months, I came up with a stream of bedtime stories, stories in which each family lived in a separate submarine or everyone was stuck in bubbles. Brave girls and boys ventured out to save the world or sometimes just learned to adapt.   

Even though relatively protected from the virus, the pandemic has been hard on children. The nonprofit Feeding America reports that 17 million American children do not regularly get enough to eat.  Colorado is not immune, unfortunately.  Statistics show that 1 in 8 Colorado kids lack adequate food.  In addition, many young children are left alone at home by parents without childcare and desperate to earn a living. Even children like my own, with the good fortune to have parents at home and no worries about their next meal, struggle with emotions they do not yet have the ability to name or manage. 

 

Stories help my children work through their emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s only “once upon a time”; they can see that the houses on our street haven’t really turned into islands. But imagining houses floating away appears to help my kids process a scenario in which it certainly feels like we are each marooned on our own islands. 

Unfortunately, we cannot make the pandemic magically disappear.  Telling stories, however, is one thing we can do to help our kids make some sense of it all. 

Zoe Argento is a mother, lawyer, and writer living in Denver.  Her new book is an illustrated children’s book for kids called Isolation Island: A Pandemic Story, available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PX94MCJ. Zoe can be found on Instagram at @ZoeArgentoLives and on Twitter at @ZoeArgento. 

 

Denver’s Most Popular Pet Names & Trends…and COVID’s impact!

Just how has COVID and the year’s events helped shape culture? 
 
Apparently, we’ve been impacted all the way down to how we name our pets. The Dog People at Rover have just unveiled their eighth annual report of the year’s most popular pet names and this year’s data confirms that our pets are truly a reflection of our passions, our day-to-day realities and an enduring sense of humor.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only gave rise to the more obvious names, like Covi (up 1,159%), Rona (up 69%) and Corona (up 24%), it also led to the emergence of names like Fauci (a new name in 2020). The pandemic has brought about a new reality for many Americans, as well, with self-isolation and less socialization becoming the new normal. 

 
Binge-watching television is now a common pastime in most households and new pet names are a reflection with Geralt, from The Witcher, up 9,308% (the number one trending dog name in 2020), Mando, of The Mandalorian on Disney+, up 2,658% (the number two trending dog name of 2020), and Tiger King’s “Carol” [Baskins] is trending up 46% in dog names. 
 
Here are some of the Denver-specific highlights:
  • Top Trending Dog Name: Beretta
  • Top Trending Cat Name: Franklin
  • Top 5 Female Dog Names: Bella, Luna, Lucy, Daisy and Stella
  • Top 5 Male Dog Names: Charlie, Max, Cooper, Bear and Milo
  • Top 5 Female Cat Names: Luna, Franklin, Lucy, Chloe and Lily
  • Top 5 Male Cat Names: Leo, Milo, Charlie, Dexter and Oliver
  • Space and sci-fi inspiration, perhaps from this year’s SpaceX rocket launch, is boosting popularity for dog names like Moon, Neptune and Romulus
  • Denverites are getting back to basics. Fido is trending up for dogs and Frank is up for cats!
  • Car makers are inspiring pets owners with Chevy and Ford trending up for dogs and Jetta for cats.
  • Franklin as a cat name increased 975%!

Check out Denver’s Top Pet Names & Trends report. 

Learn how to safely explore Colorado’s backcountry with your family

With all the uncertainty of COVID (and if Colorado’s resorts will remain open), why not head into the backcountry with your family? Of course, safety is of the utmost importance and we’re very fortunate to have these awesome companies that are teaching us how to be confident in our ability to use our equipment safely and competently by seeking education and training. 

  • 2021 Family Mountaineering Weekend at YMCA of the Rockies, February 12-15, 2021: Include the whole family for special sessions on winter survival and backcountry skiing, and keynote presentations by Chelsea Murphy about what it means to be a Black mother with a passion for adventuring in the outdoors, and Len Necefer, a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, who will discuss the history of Indigenous peoples and their ongoing relationship with the environment.
  • Colorado Adventure Guides (CAG) in Breckenridge offers up on-snow, full-day Introduction to Backcountry Skiing workshops for those interested in getting into backcountry skiing and not sure where to start. Workshop goers will learn what gear to have and how to use it, an intro to avalanche awareness, a demonstration of beacons, shovels, and probes, and much more. Once ready, Breckernidge outfitters like CAG and Backcountry Babes take learning and exploring to the next level with beginner classes and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) certified training offered throughout the winter.
  • The Colorado Mountain School in Estes Park offers action-packed avalanche training courses combining classroom and field instruction to provide participants with a solid introduction to avalanche awareness and travel skills. They also offer backcountry skiing and splitboarding courses. Watch their FREE avalanche awareness course online, which is a great first step in avalanche education and is a useful regular refresher course for more seasoned explorers.
  • Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center (RMOC) in Buena Vista is a leader in backcountry trips and instruction. This winter, travel safely in the backcountry with a ski or snowboard trip with RMOC. Courses include Intro to Backcountry, Touring in Avalanche Terrain, Intro to Ice Climbing and more.
  • Organized by Weston Backcountry, the Stay At Home Speaker Series gives outdoor recreation enthusiasts the opportunity to bone up on backcountry education from the comfort of their own home. The virtual speaker series includes a variety of topics including backcountry basics, gear recommendations, avalanche education and more.
  • Colorado Mountain Club offers an Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboard course. This course is designed for those that are “new to the backcountry,” who plan to travel on all-terrain skis, splitboards or telemark skis. The curriculum is designed to help those new users get into the backcountry and make decisions on their own that result in safe and enjoyable trips. Sessions begin in January 2021.
  • Buena Vista Mountain Adventures (BVMA) is a hub for outdoor education and adventure. Learn how to recreate safely in one of their AIARE courses. Hone your backcountry skills or technical abilities in a ski and ride course. If you prefer an adventure, they offer guided backcountry skiing and splitboardingsnowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. From beginner to advanced, BVMA leads tours and courses for all backcountry enthusiasts.
  • Snow Mountain Ranch, part of the YMCA of the Rockies, in Granby, will offer Intro to Backcountry Skiing courses at their Nordic Center this winter. The classes will focus on how to use modern A/T (Alpine/Touring) equipment, touch upon the basic principles of avalanche safety, terrain management, backcountry travel and preparation.This program is perfect for those who have always wanted to see what it’s like to ski on their own outside of the resort. In addition, Snow Mountain Ranch’s Nordic Center has more than 120 kilometers of world-class terrain for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking.
  • Join Cripple Creek Backcountry at their Aspen Highlands location for a monthly backcountry skill-building session. This guided half-day experience is to bridge the gap from resort skiing to safe and fun backcountry travel. This is a great chance for skiers of all levels to develop their skills such as setting the perfect skin track, kick turning efficiently, practicing safe terrain selection and route-finding while simultaneously learning proper use of ski touring equipment and tricks to have an enjoyable day in the backcountry. (Featured photo).

Visit Colorado.com/WinterBackcountrySafety to explore backcountry safety class offerings.

See all of Disney’s new ‘Star Wars’ series and films

Our family’s longtime tradition the day before Christmas has been to go to brunch together and then to see the latest Star Wars movie in the theater. Well, for COVID reasons, that obviously isn’t happening but my mood was boosted when I looked into what Star Wars features are coming down the pipe and believe me, there are a lot of them! 

‘Rangers of the New Republic’

The “Rangers of the New Republic” series “will intersect with future stories and culminate into a climactic story event.”

‘Ahsoka’

Ahsoka Tano’s story, written by Dave Filoni, will continue in a limited series starring Rosario Dawson, who recently appeared on “The Mandalorian.”

Untitled Taika Waititi film

A new Star Wars feature film with acclaimed filmmaker and Academy Award winner Taika Waititi is in development.

‘The Acolyte”

“The Acolyte’ is a new series that will be “a mystery-thriller that will take the audience into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.” Leslye Headland, creator of “Russian Doll,” will lead this film.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ update

Hayden Christensen will be returning as Darth Vader in the show, which will be set 10 years after “Revenge of the Sith.” Kenobi will reflect on “his greatest defeat, the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker turned evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.”

‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ update

We got a new trailer for the “Bad Batch” animated series, which will focus on “a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army.” Each of these soldiers has “a singular exceptional skill which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose.”

‘Star Wars: Visions’

“Star Wars: Visions” will be a series of animated short films celebrating “Star Wars” through the lens of the world’s best anime creators

‘Andor’

Cassian Andor from “Rogue One” will get a new project called “Andor.”

‘A Droid’s Story’

This series will “will introduce us to a new hero, guided by legendary duo R2-D2 and C-3PO.”

‘Lando’

Lando Calrissian will return in a brand-new event series for Disney+.

Rogue Squadron

The next feature film in the Star Wars franchise, releasing in December 2023, will be “Rogue Squadron,” which will be directed by Patty Jenkins of the “Wonder Woman” franchise. The next installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise directed by James Mangold, a Star Wars feature film by writer/director Taika Waititi and “Children of Blood & Bone,” based on Tomi Adeyemi’s New York Times bestselling novel, round out the feature-film slate.

Delicious Eggnog Streusel Muffins for Christmas morning

If your family is anything like ours, Christmas morning is chaotic and the last thing I want to do is worry about breakfast. That’s why these egg nog streusel muffins are perfectly festive and you can make them ahead of time to enjoy them right when you need them. 

Egg Nog Streusel Muffins

Muffins

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups eggnog
2 eggs
10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 tablespoons unsalted butter chopped into small pieces

Mix together. 

Directions

For the muffins: Combine the first six ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggnog, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix wet and dry ingredients and scoop into muffin tin. Top with streusel topping. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. If you want even more of an eggnog punch, combine eggnog, powdered sugar and a pinch of nutmeg and drizzle on top. 

Deals: New Year’s Eve, Math Help, Museum Reopening & More!

Did you catch the “star” Monday night with Saturn and Jupiter crossing paths? Scientists say it is the first time in 800 years they have been this close. As the year closes – I hope you take the time to count the blessings as much as your ability to overcome the troubles. We, at MileHighMamas, wish you a Happy New Year!  

 New Year’s Eve. We have put together a list of all the fun family things to do (socially distanced of course). Check out our full list!

Math Help. Children falling behind in math? Get caught up fast and fun with Denver-based Elephant Learning. They guarantee your children will learn a full year of math in just 10 minutes per day for 90 days with their proven methodology. Join over 100,000 parents and lock in your founder rate before tuition raises in 2021.

 McDonald’s Tis the Season App Specials. McDonald’s is celebrating their characters with their special order for FREE with the purchase of $1 or more. Each day for twelve days (starting Monday, Dec 14). Use the app to score the deal. Each day is a specific free item. Download the free app to see the deals.   

Christmas in Color Discount Code.  Looking for something to do with the family this year? What about drive-thru lights display? Yes, drive through millions of lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music you’ll hear right through your radio. Drive-by giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways and more. Two locations: Bandimere Speedway and Water World now through December 30. Get a 15% discount code when you type MILEHIGHMAMAS at checkout. 

YMCA New Years.  YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park is offering family-friendly fun for New Year’s including: Cosmic Climbing – Sign up for a nighttime session of indoor rock climbing on December 30, December 31, and January 1. Single families only, advanced reservations required; New Years Day 5K Run (or walk)Make a Vision BoardGuided Hikes – experienced YMCA hikemasters take you snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. Advanced reservations required. Additional activities include snowshoe rentals, ice skating on a natural pond, nature programs, winter crafts and more. Cabins start at $169 a night and lodge rooms start at $89/night. Book online or calling 888- 613- 9622. (All activities are operated in alignment with public health ordinances, including distanced check-ins and self-checkouts conducted via email.)

The Crawford and Oxford New Years Special. For just $272, you can celebrate either getting rid of 2020 with bottle of bubbles, in room light-bites, collector wine glasses and complimentary parking or saying hello to 2021 with breakfast in bed, mimosas and late checkout. While you are there check out Denver Union Station’s Merry & Bright light show. Follow the links to book the Crawford Hotel or The Oxford.

Blanchard Family Wine New YearsBlanchard Family Wines at Dairy Block won’t let COVID-19 restrictions get in the way of ringing in 2021 with the Virtual New Year’s Eve Celebration, an effervescent happy hour hosted by winery founders Mark and James Blanchard. The Blanchard Family Wines Virtual New Year’s Eve Celebration will take place at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday, Dec. 31st. This virtual happy hour experience will be filled with education, laughter & fun – along with two bottles of Sparkling wine from Sauvage Spectrum and a custom pack of Denver-made Bella Macarons. Priced at $80, NYE orders must be placed by Wednesday, Dec. 23rd for shipping; local orders must be placed by Wednesday, Dec. 30th.

 Panera Coffee Subscription. Sign up for Panera+ (normally $8.99/month) and get unlimited premium coffee through the end of the year. Redeem the unlimited coffee offer on regular, dark roast, hazelnut, iced coffee or hot tea. As they say – your cup is always full. Use code FREETIL2021

 Bed Bath and Beyond. Have you saved up the 20% off coupons to buy something special at Bed Bath and Beyond? You don’t need to do that anymore. They have a membership program called Beyond+ that is $29 – but right now, when you sign up you get a bonus card for the same amount so it ends up being FREE – then you can get 20% off all the time without having to track down those coupons.

Clyfford Still Museum ReOpening. On January 5, 2021 the Clyfford Still Museum will re-open. Tickets are on sale now for your specific date/time.  

Boston MarketBoston Market is celebrating 35 years with a whole rotisserie chicken for just $3.50 on Wednesday, December 23. Plus, you can get a large side and select dessert for $3.50. (limits apply).

Breckenridge Brewery. The Breckenridge Brewery on S. Santa Fe has constructed a Winter Wonderland complete with ice skating rink and sledding hill. While the parents are sipping on the Christmas Ale kids can take to the slope! 

Ice Castles in Dillon opens today

The Ice Castles in Dillon are back in town and are open to the public on Saturday at 6 p.m. Some tickets may be available onsite if they are not already sold out, but those prices are subject to higher prices. Ice Castles recommends that people buy tickets online ahead of time.

General tickets go on sale Friday morning on the Ice Castles website. Pre-sale tickets have already been available since early December.

General tickets for 12 and up cost $17.99 Mondays through Thursdays and $22.99 Fridays through Sundays. Child tickets cost $12.99 Mondays through Thursdays and $17.99 Fridays through Sundays. Holiday Pricing (Dec. 19-Jan. 3, Jan. 18 and Feb. 15) is the same as weekend pricing.

The Ice Castles will be operating at a limited capacity. Masks are required for guests and staff. Six-feet are required between guests. Surfaces that are touched a lot, such as sliding mats and tablets used at ticketing and concessions, will be sanitized regularly. Crawl spaces, slot canyons and tunnels will be one-way when possible. There will be multiple hand sanitizing stations. Find more COVID-19 protocols here.

Photos: Ice Castles Instagram

Love Denver? This Discovery and Exploration Guide is for you!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. While clicking these links won’t cost you extra money, they help us keep this site up and running. See our disclosure policy. 

Do you love Denver?

Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide is written in a unique style by Denver native Lisa J. Shultz. A few years ago, she decided to plunge into walking neighborhoods and revisiting landmarks of the city. In her youth, she went on school field trips to visit the Capitol, the Mint or the Natural History Museum. Her mom occasionally took her downtown to shop at the iconic department store May D&F, visit the Art Museum, see a theater production or eat at a restaurant in Larimer Square. But gradually Lisa’s excursions downtown became less frequent because the downtown area underwent a transformation that made it less appealing to visit.

In 1967, voters approved the Skyline Urban Renewal Project. This proposal gave permission to demolish 120 acres of the downtown area to build shiny new skyscrapers. Suddenly, beautiful buildings were razed and became parking lots for years until they were gradually developed. Denver lost much of its character and appeal. Furthermore, suburban shopping malls became popular in the 1980s and most shopping shifted away from downtown. Lisa, as well as many suburban dwellers, gravitated to the new malls being built.

An article in The Denverite on May 17, 2017, entitled, The destruction and rebirth of 30 blocks of downtown Denver in six images, dramatically shows the changes to Denver after renewal had taken its course. With all the demolition underway, it became less appealing to spend time downtown.

Fortunately, not all the charm and character of downtown was erased. Larimer Street was the original downtown Main Street in Denver’s early days. Today, many newcomers to Denver as well as tourists have visited Larimer’s oldest block called Larimer Square and enjoyed shops, restaurants, and events. Many people may not know how close this block came to demolition. In 1965, Denverite Dana Crawford saved Larimer Square by forming an investment group and buying up most of the block to preserve it. Crawford’s zeal for preservation extended to Lodo, the Union Station neighborhood, the Oxford Hotel and much more. She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame for “Saving the Soul of Denver.” The Crawford Hotel within Union Station was named in her honor for preserving and revitalizing downtown Denver. Crawford, now 89, deserves much credit and recognition for how we enjoy Denver today.

Thankfully, some older buildings survived demolition and were transformed into other entities. For example, the Colorado National Bank building at 918 17th St. was a bank until 2007 and was then converted into the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel. Old bank vaults can be viewed in the lounge overlooking the lobby and sixteen large murals entitled “Indian Memories” surround the lobby. Other hotels like The Brown Palace Hotel and The Oxford Hotel give one a glimpse of the old Denver as well.

Fortunately, if one knows where to look, the remaining treasures of old Denver can be preserved and appreciated. Also, there are many gems that have come to Denver in recent years. New museums, sports venues, and public art add a modern touch to the city. Despite the devastating effects of Covid shutdowns and boarded-up windows of many parts of Denver, there is still much to see and appreciate. As Shultz rediscovered and wrote about her beloved hometown, she hopes to spark more interest in the landmarks and history of Denver to ensure the city’s future is strong and vital.

Shultz’s book, Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide, highlights the fabulous things the city offers. With a light touch of history, she hopes Denverites will take good care of the city for years to come. The book is filled with fun facts and great lists. Readers will learn about:

  • Art, Culture and Entertainment
  • Parks, Recreation and Sports
  • Government and Education
  • Eating and Drinking Establishments
  • Famous People
  • Landmark Buildings and Neighborhoods
  • History You Can Remember
  • And much more

Essential Denver is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and to support shopping local, it is also available at I Heart Denver Store located in the Pavilions on 16th Street Mall. Find about more about the author on her website, LisaJShultz.com.