Happy New Year in Denver!
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Major life decisions are tough. Major life decisions during a pandemic and while feeling burned out are even tougher. My daughter is a senior in high school and is struggling with all the big questions about what to do post-graduation. Truthfully, how many of us really knew what we wanted to do when we were 17 years old?
The Forward Together campaign could not have come at a better time for our family. Their resources are aimed at helping youth feel more connected — because research shows that when they feel connected, they are healthier and more resilient.
Follow our family’s journey with our daughter as we put their tools to the test…the same tools that will hopefully inspire you to help your teens live more full and healthy lives.
The Search Institute, an organization that studies youth development and health, has identified five elements that make relationships more powerful in our young people’s lives.
Express Care. Show me I matter to you.
Challenge Growth. Push me to keep getting better.
Provide Support. Help me complete tasks and complete goals.
Share Power. Treat me with respect and give me a say.
Expand possibilities. Connect me with people and places that broaden my world.
We have tried to do all of these things with our daughter but there are two areas we have really tried to focus on these last few months: Share Power and Expand Possibilities.
The Search Institute advocates that we should respect our teens and take them seriously while including them in decisions where they are impacted. We have always tried to do these things, however their next two recommendations are much more difficult: Collaborating and letting our daughter solve problems to reach goals and letting her take the lead.
Most parents can relate! When our kids are young, we can tell them what to do in most aspects of their lives. Suddenly, my husband and I are faced with an often unmotivated teenager who doesn’t know her direction. Now, we find ourselves trying to guide her in making those decisions herself, while also providing support. Along the way, we are also learning to accept and respect her decisions even though we may not agree with them.
My husband and I are college-educated and we always assumed our kids would follow the same path. However, my daughter is creatively minded: she loves the arts and skincare. A year ago, I took her on college tours to explore the arts programs at a few different universities which were met with lackluster enthusiasm. She has since applied to and received acceptance into all of these programs.
I would have been fairly easy to urge her along — but at what cost? So last week, we did a deeper dive into her passions and decided to tour esthetician schools. The moment we walked through the doors of her first spa, she lit up. And for the first time, she seemed really excited about her post-graduation possibilities.
Nothing has been decided. Right now, we’re crunching numbers, figuring out financial aid, and, most importantly, doing some soul-searching. My husband and I are no longer in the driver’s seat and are trying our best to support her from the passenger seat and not the back; because no one likes opinionated backseat drivers!! The biggest change I’ve felt these last few months is I’m no longer looking to her future with anxiety and fear but rather hope as I learn to patiently let her work it out at her own pace.
Do you feel like you’re struggling to connect with your teens? Proximity does not equal connection!
Forward Together offers these incredibly helpful resources and reminders that are doable and practical in daily life with your teen, such as:
We can all get busy and caught up in daily life, but setting aside a little time to check in with your teen is important to let them know you care.
These are just a few of the many tremendous resources Forward Together offers:
In case you missed it: How we have worked on developing our relationship with our 15-year-old son!
About Forward Together
The Forward Together campaign is a Colorado-based ad campaign for parents and for youth ages 10-17. This campaign aims to help youth feel more connected – to their peers, their parents, and other trusted adults in their lives – because research shows that when they feel connected, they are healthier and more resilient. Youth who are connected are less likely to smoke, drink, vape, use marijuana, and have feelings of depression or loneliness. The Forward Together campaign team includes staff and youth advisors from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).
In partnership with Mile High Mamas
Denver has some of the best museums and cultural facilities in the country – and thanks to the SCFD (Scientific Cultural and Facilities District) a small portion of the taxes you pay each year is given to these great institutions. And because of that, they offer free access to Denver’s museums and attractions several times of the year. We have worked with the team to gather several dates that are free. With COVID restrictions, always double-check with the venue to see what restrictions are in place and if reservations are required.
Love Denver? Keep exploring with the Essential Denver: Discovery and Exploration Guide (many attractions are free!) Also, scroll down to see our top picks for Denver’s best playgrounds, how to rent a Go-Pro and Colorado State Parks Pass for free and Denver’s best museums for kids.
The Denver Art Museums offers free general admission to all youth age 18 and under every day. Plus, there are a few venues that are always free all the time including Aurora History Museum, Hudson Gardens, and the Museum of the Outdoor Arts.
FREE Library Adventure Pass. Use your Jefferson County, Douglas County, Denver County or Araphoe County library card to reserve a FREE Adventure Pass to one of our local participating cultural institutions. Reserve free passes up to 14 days in advance. Participating cultural institutions include the Butterfly Pavilion, the Denver Trolley, Denver Zoo, History Colorado Center, the Colorado Railroad Museum, DMNS and more.
‘Snow Days’ debuts at the Denver Children’s Museum: 8 must-see attractions.
Check out a sewing machine, Colorado State Park pass, Go-Pro and more for FREE from the Denver Public Library.
Photo credit: Denver Children’s Museum at Marsico Campus. 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.
Holiday host etiquette: If you’re inviting someone to your home and they’re grieving, be sure you’re inviting their grief to attend, too. It will be there, anyway.
Don’t invite someone with the goal of cheering them up for the holidays. Don’t expect them to put on a happy face in your home. Don’t demand they fake it til they make it or do something they don’t want to do, either.
Invite them with the loving intention of offering cheer and companionship and unconditional care during the holidays. To do this, you will need to honor and be responsive to their needs and emotions.
You can do this by privately acknowledging their grief when you make the invitation:
“I know this season is extra hard and you’re heart is hurting. You and your grief are welcome in our home. Come as you are, we’d be honored to have you with us.”
It’s also incredibly loving to honor the reality that it’s often hard for grieving folks to know what they will want, need, be up for, or able to tolerate at the holidays.
Giving them an invite without the need for commitment and permission to change their mind is extra loving:
“You don’t have to decide right now. If it feels good to be with us, we will have plenty of food and love for you-just show-up! I’ll check in again the day before to see if you’re feeling up to coming over and if there’s anything you’d like me to know about how we can support you.”
Your grieving friends and fam need attentive care and responsiveness at the holidays, not plans to keep them busy, distracted, and happy.
If they’re laughing, laugh with them.
If they’re weeping, ask if they’d like your company or your help finding a quiet place to snuggle up alone for a while.
If they’re laughing while weeping, and this is more common than you’d think, stay with them – this is a precious moment of the human experience that is truly sacred.
We don’t need to protect ourselves or each other from grief during the holidays. In fact, the more we embrace grief as an honored holiday guest, the more healthy, happy, and whole our holidays will be.
Holiday Gift Guide: 50+ Thoughtful Colorado Gifts to bring light to your life
How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays, Psychology Today
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.
OK, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Nameberry’s list of top Denver baby names. The reason? Seventeen years ago, we named my daughter ‘Hadley’ for the express purpose that it was unique (when your surname is Johnson, you’ve got to be creative) and now, Hadley appears in Denver’s top 10. Trendsetters?!
Nameberry’s list of top Denver baby names features Esme in the Number 1 spot for girls and Hayden, which appears on no other city Top 10 lists, for boys. Nameberry, the world’s largest website devoted to baby names, calculated which names were viewed most often by visitors from 12 leading US cities, including Denver.
In addition to Hayden, names that are unique to Denver’s Top 10 are Billy for boys and Amelia, Anthea, Eden, and Hadley for girls.
Four of the girls’ Top 10 have nature associations: Ivy, Lavender, Hazel, and Eden. On the boys’ side, Silas means forest.
*Names unique to Denver’s Top 10
Visit Nameberry.com to see the top city baby names in all 12 US cities.
Does your family have a cookie or recipe that says something like “kneed until it feels right”? What is that? This week my mom will teach my sister and I what that means – because we forget from year to year. She learned it from generations before. In some ways, we are creating our own Hallmark movie moment (any single hot guys I forgot from High School that want to appear now – please do so).
Holiday Gift Guide. With all the talk of shipping delays, there is no better time than to shop local. Don’t miss our annual Colorado holiday gift guide with 50+ unique ideas–from wellness getaways to foodie finds to art lovers.
Contests. Mile High Mamas is giving away a birthday party at the incredible new Airhouse Adventure Park (a $300 value!). We’re also doing five days of giveaways for the holidays! Enter to win Day 1’s Mom Pack here and Day 2’s Books + Toys giveaway, as well as Day 3’s Travel Pack.
Holidays in Denver. Don’t miss our Guide to the Holidays 2021: Denver’s Best Light Displays & Family Fun, The ultimate guide to outdoor skating in Colorado, Denver’s best holiday markets and craft fairs, the 7 Best Christmas tree farms in Denver and Places to see Santa in Denver.
Christmas in Color. The days of driving around the neighborhood hoping that you would wander into a neighborhood that has a lot of lights are gone. Now you can do the best drive-through in town! Christmas in Color has TWO locations in the Denver area – Bandimere as well as WaterWorld where you can be guaranteed to see lots of great lights from the warmth of your own car! Plus, we have a special MileHighMamas.com readers discount – use discount code MileHighMamas15 when you check out for your timed ticket.
National Western Stock Show Tickets. The National Western Stock Show is ready to come back to town in January! (ICYMI – the City and County Building in downtown leaves their Christmas lights lit up through it – and the Brown Palace boasts that they are the only luxury hotel that displays a winning bull in their lobby). Groupon has tickets as low as $15, but most run around $30. When you buy a ticket to a Rodeo event you also get grounds admission for FREE. As soon as we hear about more deals we will get them to you. We do often see a free day (usually on a Tuesday) for grounds admission only.
AMC Theaters. Do you have a movie lover in your life? The perfect gift may be the AMC A-List membership. Membership is just $21.95 and the first month is only 99 cents! Your movie watcher can watch up to three movies per week. You also get popcorn refills, concession upgrades and other rewards.
Distortions Monster World. Celebrating one year at the Denver Pavilions on 16th Street Mall, get tickets for just $18.00 on December 18th only. Distortions Monster world is an interactive art installation that the whole family will enjoy.
McDonald’s Freebies. It started on Monday, December 13 McDonald celebration of 12 Days of Freebies. The deals will are available via digital coupons on the McDonalds app. Freebies aren’t just fries with purchase. They are awesome things like a Big Mac, McChicken, Breakfast sausage biscuit, Pancakes, and more
Taco Bell 24 Days of Cravings. Sign up for their free Rewards program to get your piece of Taco Bells 24 Days of Cravings! The deals range from points to free items with minimum purchase.
12 Days of Popeyes. Popeyes is offering 12 Days of Popeyes from December 6 to 17. Different deals each day are revealed in an interactive website. Popeye’s doesn’t often offer any kind of coupon or discount – so this is a DEAL no matter how you slice it…or eat it right off the bone.
Covid19 Vaccine at Butterfly Pavilion. Kids 5-11 who would like a little something extra with their Covid-19 vaccination can take their vaccination at the Butterfly Pavilion (from the Colorado Department of Public Health). One more chance – on December 28 (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.), get free entrance to the Pavilion that day and one child Living Lights festival ticket. Register here: Sign Up for Vaccinations – Butterfly Pavilion on Tuesday, 12/07/2021 | Colorado (comassvax.org
Gift Card Bonus Offers. Maybe you already have a gift card in mind for someone you are shopping for. There are often some great bonus offers you can take advantage of. Most of these cards are on restaurants. And read the redemption rules when you purchase each.
· Taco Bell. Buy a $25 gift card in store and get a free combo meal at time of purchase.
· Applebee’s. Buy $50 gift cards receive a $10 bonus card.
· Auntie Anne’s. Buy $25 in gift cards get a free $5 eReward (in app)
· BJ’s Restaurant. Get a $25 bonus card and 20% off VIP card when you purchase $100 eGift Cards. Or get $10 bonus card when you buy a $50 gift card.
· Bonefish Grill. Get an eBonus card via email when you buy $50 or more in gift cards in one transaction.
· Brio Italian Grille. Get $10 eReward card with purchase of $50 gift cards.
· Carrabba’s. Buy $50 in gift cards get $10 reward.
· The Children’s Place and Gymboree. By on online gift card of $50, $75, or $100 get gift coupon for $10, $15 or $20 respectively.
· Chili’s. Buy $50 in gift cards get an eBonus card worth $10.
· Cinemark (movies). Buy $25 get a bonus $5 coupon for concessions.
· Duluth Trading. Buy $50 in eGift Cards get $10 bonus card.
· DSW. Buy a $50 or $100 gift card get a bonus $10 or $25 respectively.
· Firehouse Subs. Purchase $25 or more get a promo code for a free sub through the app.
· Flower Child. Buy $50 in gift cards get a $10 eGift card.
· Landry’s. Buy $50 gift cards get $10 reward; buy $100 gift cards get $20 reward; buy $250 gift cards get a $50 reward card.
· Old Chicago. Buy $50 in gift cards get a $10 bonus ecard.
· Outback Steakhouse. Get a $10 off coupon.
· Pappadeaux. Buy a $50 gift card get a $10 eBonus card.
· Red Lobster. Buy $50 gift card get a $10 off purchase of two adult dinner entrees.
· Red Robin. Buy a $25 gift card get a $5 bonus or $50 in gift cards equals $10 bonus.
· Schlotzsky’s. Buy $25 in gift cards get a $5 eReward code.
· Torchy’s Tacos. Buy $25 in gift cards get $5.
· True Food Kitchen. Purcahse $10 gift cards get $20 bonus card.
Wendy’s Nuggets Deal. Wendy’s has partnered with the Denver Nuggets Basketball team. When a player gets a double-double – we all win (the next day)! You can get a 6-piece crispy or spicy chicken nuggets for free with any purchase.
And don’t forget to enter to win a birthday party for 10 at the incredible NEW Airhouse Adventure Park (a $300 value!)
Also, don’t miss our Holiday Gift Guide: 50+ Colorado Gift Ideas for the foodie, adventurer, wellness gurus in your life.
A little sprinkling of our favorite gifts we came across this year.
Hamama a DIY vegetable garden offers a fail-proof way for anyone to grow nutritious microgreens for smoothies, salads, and sandwiches year-round. Their patented, non-GMO Seed Quilt technology offers a seamless indoor growing experience by controlling watering, humidity, and light parameters. Just add water once, soak your Seed Quilt, and come back to harvest delicious microgreens in just 7-10 days. USDA studies show microgreens can be up to 40x more nutritiously dense than mature veggies. The contest is for the microgreen kit with a bamboo frame. hamama.com
This is the BEST company for someone who you just can’t figure out the gift. It was by far one of my top three favorite that came across my desk this fall. I choose a scotch glass and an image of Chicago for my dad. But there is so, SO much more. Rock glasses, flasks, pint glass, stemless pieces, wine glass and then a line of home apparel, coasters, bar boards, about 100 customizable products. They have themes such as outdoors, cities, college towns, academics, their breath of retail is outrageous and fun to page through. Winner can choose any beverage ware of his or her choice. welltolddesign.com
Colorado Mountain Art by Jared Hankins
Jared Hankins’ latest series is a completely new perspective of classic ski lines from winter resorts such as Vail and Aspen. Hankins lives in Denver with his wife, two teenage daughters, and twin sons in elementary school. His career includes a stroke at age 31 where he had to relearn all muscle movements in his arm and hand to not only regain normalcy, but his creative career. Nearly 15 years after this life-altering event, his artistic contribution and collections are impressive and humbling. Hankins has an extensive repertoire of consumer-packaged goods that would be recognizable to most individuals including Starbucks’ Frappuccino package design. Yogi Tea Company, Tropicana, Oxy Clean, Sobe Energy Drink, Doritos, Werthers, Twizzlers, Jolly Rancher, Hot Pockets and more. Winner can choose from the Elevation Series. hankinsfineart.com
With the holidays and winter months already upon us, many kids are searching for indoor activities to escape the cold, and while it’s easy to reach for a tablet, TV remote or video game console, FORT’s magnetic pillow FORTs offer an indoor activity that’s fun and engaging for both the mind and body. “Made with foam blocks covered in waterproof fabric, FORT blocks connect with magnets (and imagination) and I’m confident that they will become your kids’ new favorite toy, activity AND piece of furniture. idea for FORT was born while watching my wife and 2-year-old make pillow forts with blankets that kept falling in. After losing my job in 2020 due to COVID, and with a second child on the way, I took a leap of faith to launch FORT and the interest has been overwhelming, with over 5500 FORTs shipped in the past month alone!” Shout out to this dad – we love this item! getthefort.com
This and That, Snack and Play Giveaway!
This is Day 4 of 5 days of giveways! Enter to win Day 1’s Mom Pack here and Day 2’s Books + Toys giveaway as well as our Day 3’s Fun for Travel giveaway. And don’t forget to enter to win a birthday party for 10 at the incredible NEW Airhouse Adventure Park (a $300 value!)
Also, don’t miss our Holiday Gift Guide: 50+ Colorado Gift Ideas for the foodie, adventurer, wellness gurus in your life.
Whether it is in baking, drinks, or enjoyed on its own, cacao (chocolate in its purest form) is a holiday staple that is adored by many. If you’re a lover of all things cacao (or know someone who is), then our Crazy For Cacao box is for you. Filled with essential cacao ingredients for your holiday baking, drinking, and snacking, this box is sure to make your holiday extra special! Cacao contains essential vitamins and antioxidants and has been known to boost mood and energy levels (which comes in handy during the holidays). With this selection of products, you’ll have cacao for any recipe right at your fingertips. miskiorganics.com
Have you ever wished that you could create beautifully-decorated cookies, but found yourself overwhelmed by the supplies, time, and effort required? Stocking on all the icing, sprinkles, and baking ingredients takes plenty of time and money, often turning your sweet idea into a major fuss. But with Color My Cookie decorating kits, you get to skip straight to the fun part: decorating your cookies (and eating them afterward!). Each of the collections includes all of the elements you’ll need to feel like a true professional. They ship nationwide, so you’re never more than just a few days away from creating incredible, edible art in the comfort of your own home. Winner can choose a cookie set of preference. colormycookie.com
Also, don’t miss our Holiday Gift Guide: 50+ Colorado Gift Ideas for the foodie, adventurer, wellness gurus in your life.
Here are some goodies for on the go! Traveling parents need some tricks and tools to stay healthy, fresh and nourished. Enjoy!
Grown just up from Colorado in Montana, each of these mixes features the wheat or lentils from their Farm and is combined with a special selection of spices to create a hearty, nutritious base. You simply add one or two ingredients commonly found in most kitchens, and you’ve got a homemade, full of flavor meal, snack or sweet treat that you can feel great about serving to your family! All of their mixes are packaged in their own certified kitchen, giving you a truly ‘field to fork experience’! Winner gets the three-pack to try multiple flavors. farverfarms.com
Nudge is the new way to take care of your smile. The brand is responsible for self-care that believes products should be composed of clean ingredients that are good for you, carefully designing its offerings to be as natural as possible without compromising on the taste, feel or results. Perfect for on the fly, literally, or on-the-go parents who are traveling to and from sports or work. This is also a Leaping Bunny-certified company. Nudge sustainably sources its ingredients to ensure customers receive natural ingredients (bye-bye fluoride!) in a truly groundbreaking way. It’s about time we all have a bamboo toothbrush that’s 100% degradable, right? Get the entire travel kit with this prize. shopnudge.com
We can never get enough of this stuff! This brand is thoughtfully crafted with a unique selection of premium, nourishing, hand-picked ingredients like moisturizing green tea extract, soothing aloe vera, hydrating glycerin and vibrant essential oils. There are wipes and hand sanitizer. Winner gets an entire travel pack. planeaire.com
A fellow mama created this company! es my family. “There are 3 things I love in this world – food, traveling and jewelry,” explains the owner, Andrea. “I took a break from corporate life and launched FRILS – my highly curated, online jewelry store. I ended up taking a job offer, working for the amazing Rachel Zoe, so FRILS became more of a hobby than a business. Then, I had a baby…After months of research on non-toxic materials, I designed a line of stylish teething jewelry made of food-grade silicone, untreated beechwood and type 304 stainless steel. All teething necklaces feature our patented magnetic safety clasp engineered with the perfect amount of pull strength to keep your teething necklace secure until your little one’s tugs become too strong.” More products followed and the winner of this package can visit the site and pick the best traveling product for he or she. anjieandash.com
Bold Made is a new and improved twist on the classic card game Old Maid. Our game isn’t about getting stuck with a card. It’s about winning by collecting a team of bold women past and present. Each woman in the deck has made important contributions to her society and to the world at large. The game is fun, of course, but also a powerful way to help kids find fantastic female role models. boldmade.com
From old classics to new innovative and inclusive todays, here is a fun and diverse holiday round-up that covers all demographics and price points. The winner of this package receives ALL items listed shipped directly to his or her door.
This is a darling children’s book series geared toward the emerging reader or any good listener. The titles are hysterical such as “I did, with an Ostrich” and “Splitz the Tuffa: The Rapping Skunk” There are over a dozen books in the series and the winner can pick any six he or she likes. Our family loves the “Arch Otters: Megalodon Outbreak” and “Peri and her Plant.” The books are colorful, diverse and certainly easy to travel or tote around. strawberrypencilmagic.com
It’s classic, it makes kids use their muscles, and it works inside or out. From three years of age to grandparents, I’ve seen everyone launching these rockets. No batteries required, easy to set up, and a nice price point. stomprocket.com
These little bears are so classic, I almost wanted them just for myself. I have three kids from preschool to middle school, you bet I can get all three to play this game with my youngest. From basics for toddlers to more advanced STEM toys, these are easily giftable or keepable. The price point is spot on and there are hundreds of colorful options. skoolzy.com P.S. – Winner can choose the prize from the website!
We’ve had a few weeks this fall where the children have been home for COVID school shut down. They get a little frustrated with all-day, online school, so I try and break it up. This set of human anatomy books was sent and it turned out to be the WINNER for fall. I split the books up and let our friends use them while their kids were home as well. Everyone loved these. It’s an awesome gift always, but especially during Pandemic when extra learning materials are invaluable. The award-winning company offers Dr. Bonyfide’s Bones of the Body Workbooks full of fun and educational activities for children eight and up, developed by a culturally diverse team of educators, health professionals, and parents. Enjoy activities such as crossword puzzles, mazes, x-ray vision, and more. Featuring an in-depth exploration of the human body guided by Dr. Bonyfide and his friends as they help develop a lifelong love for science, an appreciation for one’s body, and the path to learning to Know Yourself. knowyourself.com
Gold medal award-winning ‘A Little Spark’ children’s book redefines children’s literature with a fun, multi-faceted reading time experience including meaningful storytelling, audio, music, activities and lessons designed to spark kindness, friendship and giving. There is even a technology component to the book with QR codes in the book. Amazon.com
Dr. Lisa was inspired to change how African American children viewed themselves, and what started as a side hustle, turned into an innovative black-owned doll company. After landing Oprah’s Favorite Things, she became Walmart Supplier of the Year and pivoted from being the first female professor to receive two multi-million-dollar endowed chairs by University of Arkansas, the first tenured African American professor at Penn State University, and first African American to receive a doctorate in Logistics from The Ohio State University, to Founder and CEO of The World of Entertainment, Publishing and Inspiration™
Her dolls are designed with custom-blended skin tones, authentic facial features including full lips, noses, gorgeous eyes, a variety of hair textures and styles, and uniquely designed bodies more representative with fuller hips and thighs. Standing approx 11.5 inches tall, Fresh Dolls are bendable and articulated to foster imagination during positive play. They also feature soft washable hair, stunning wardrobe and accessories. Winner can choose doll. thefreshdolls.com