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Entertaining and Engaging STEM Experiments For Kids To Do At Home!

Being home from school doesn’t mean the learning has to stop! Samy Bindra from Mad Science of Denver has some guilt-free tips on how you can keep kids entertained at home all while learning science.

Here are some hands-on DIY experiments that are perfect for exploring science that you and the kids will love doing together with supplies you can find lying around your house.

1.) Ghost Bubbles | Try this at Home!

Supplies:

  • Corn syrup
  • Dish soap
  • Jar
  • Marker
  • Chenille stem (pipe cleaner)
  • Spoon for mixing
  • Water
  • Measuring Cup
  • Safety Note: Do not drink the mixture.

What you do:

Step 1: Pour 240mL (1 cup) of dishwashing soap, 120mL (½ cup) of corn syrup, and 60mL (¼ cup) of water into the jar.

Step 2: Slowly mix the three liquids together with the spoon. Do not mix quickly, otherwise bubbles will form.

Step 3: Wrap a chenille stem end around a marker to make a bubble wand. Slide the chenille stem off the marker, and twist the stem on itself.

Step 4: Dip the wand loop into the solution. Wait for five seconds the first time you do this to let the bristles soak up the solution.

Step 5: Remove the wand from the solution and blow through the loop. What do you see? What happens when the bubbles pop?

What’s going on?

Water molecules are attracted to each other. They pull on each other. When water meets air, the water molecules stick together in a layer at the surface. This is because they are more attracted to each other than to the air molecules. We call this surface tension. Normal water has too much surface tension to make good bubbles. Adding a detergent like dish soap weakens the surface tension so bubbles can form. When the water in a bubble dries up, or evaporates, the bubble bursts. Corn syrup slows down this process, so the bubbles are stronger and last longer. When the water finally does dry up, the bubble pops, leaving a ghostly film of corn syrup and soap. 

 Now try this:

Try making bubble solutions with different ratios of corn syrup, dishwashing soap, and water. Do the bubbles last longer? Are the bubbles as strong? Does the bubble solution become stronger or weaker over time?

2.) Copycat Solution | Try this at Home!

 Supplies:

  • Vanilla extract
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Small cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Paintbrush
  • 2 sheets of white paper
  • Black ballpoint pen

What you do:

Step 1: Use the pen to draw a picture on a sheet of paper. Make the lines of the drawing as thick as possible.

Step 2: In the cup, mix one tablespoon of vanilla extract with one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. 

Step 3: Use the paintbrush to paint a thin layer of the vanilla extract and detergent mixture over your drawing.

Step 4: Cover your drawing with the second sheet of white paper.

Step 5: Use the back of the spoon to press down on the top sheet. Gently rub your drawing by moving the spoon in small circles.

Step 6: When you can see your drawing through the paper, peel off the top sheet. What do you see?

What’s going on?

You copied your drawing! The detergent in your mixture binds to the ink in your picture. The ink mixture transfers to the second page when you press the sheets together. If you draw thick lines and use lots of ink, you can make more than one copy. 

Now try this:

Try this experiment with different kinds of inks. Try drawing with different kinds of markers or different colored pens. Does the copycat solution work for these inks?

3.) Bubble Catching | Try this at Home!

Supplies:

  • Stretchy cotton gloves
  • A bottle of bubble solution with bubble wand
  • A parent or sibling

What you do:

Step 1. Put on the stretchy gloves.

Step 2. Ask your parent or sibling to blow some bubbles.

Step 3. Place your hand so that a bubble lands on it. Can you catch it without bursting it?

What’s going on:

Bubbles are made from a thin film of soapy water that is filled with air. The water drops form little bridges that link them together. The soap coats the water bridges to keep them linked up. These bridges create surface tension – they keep the bubble from bursting. You can touch a bubble if you don’t break the surface tension. You can do this if you wear a clean, dry cloth object like the stretchy gloves. Adding dirt or oil can break the surface tension. That is why the bubble bursts if you touch it with your oily fingers!

Now try this:

Take off the gloves and coat your hand with the bubble solution. Try to catch a bubble with your soapy hand. Which way works better for catching bubbles?

4.) Musical Straw | Try this at Home!

Supplies:

  • 3 Straws                           
  • Scissors

 What you do:

Step 1: Flatten one end of a straw by biting down on the straw and pulling it out of your mouth while keeping your mouth closed. This is your mouthpiece.

Step 2: Diagonally cut out the corners of the flattened mouthpiece. This makes a V shape at the end of the straw.

Step 3: Place your lips slightly beyond the slit portions of the V and blow. What happens? Step 4: Repeat steps 1-2 with two more straws.

Step 5: Cut the ends of the two straws so they are different lengths from your first straw. Blow through the mouthpiece of each straw. What happens to the sound?

What’s going on?

Sound travels in waves of vibrating atoms. The time it takes for a sound wave to travel to the end of the straw and back to the mouthpiece is its frequency. We call the sound of a frequency its pitch. Longer frequencies have a lower pitch, like a dog’s growl. Shorter frequencies have higher pitches, like a bird song. Changing the lengths of the straws changes the pitch of the instrument. The longer the straw, the lower the pitch will be. The shorter the straw, the higher the pitch will be. This gives you different pitched instruments to make a band with!

5.) Balloon Bond | Try this at Home!

Supplies:

  • 2 Small flexible plastic cups
  • Balloon

What you do:

Step 1: Hold the neck of the balloon to your mouth with one hand. Place the round end of the balloon into a small plastic cup.

Step 2: Inflate the balloon while gently applying pressure by squeezing the sides of the cup. Pinch the neck closed when you are done.

Step 3: Attempt to separate the cup and the balloon. What happens?

Step 4: Deflate the balloon. Now hold the neck of the deflated balloon in your mouth, pick up a cup with each hand and press the opening of each one against the balloon. Try inflating the balloon between the two cups while gently squeezing their sides. Pinch the neck closed when you are done.

Step 5: Try to pull the two cups off the balloon. What happens?

What’s going on?

There is air all around us. It is the Earth’s atmosphere. This air pushes on us, and we call this push “air pressure”. When your balloon is small, it traps a pocket of air inside the cup. As your balloon gets bigger, the air pocket inside the cup gets bigger too, but no more air molecules can get in. This means that the air pressure inside the cup becomes lower than the air pressure outside the cup. Air always flows from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. We think of this as “suction”, but really, it is the air pressure pushing the cup against the balloon. That is why it is hard to pull them apart. No air molecules can get in as long as there is a seal between the balloon and cup. If you twist the balloon, you can break this seal, and then you can easily pull them apart!

Now try this:

Try adding more cups as you inflate the balloon! You can do this by gently squeezing the sides of the cups, pressing the cup openings onto the balloon, and then slowly releasing the sides. See how many cups you can attach to the balloon!

Mad Science will also be updating this page every few days with new and exciting experiments for parents who are likely racking their brains trying to come up with fun and educational STEM activities.

With more than 150 locations all around the globe and 35 years of experience, Mad Science is the world’s leading science enrichment provider for children ages 3-12. Mad Science delivers unique, hands-on science experiences through after-school programs, birthday parties, workshops, special events, and summer camps. With over 200 hours of science programs developed by their R&D team, they teach kids about a wide range of STEM topics like biology,physics, chemistry, and engineering. Every year, Mad Science introduces millions of children to a world of discovery while sparking their imagination and curiosity.

 

Amazon supports free computer science for Colorado students during COVID-19

We know that right now schools in Colorado are experiencing disruption during this pandemic and we want to help. Year-round, Amazon is committed to ensuring more students and teachers get access to a computer science education through its Amazon Future Engineer program, and now that mission is more important than ever.

Right now, Amazon Future Engineer is providing free access to sponsored computer science courses in the US, which is for independent learners grades 6-12, and teachers who are remotely teaching this age group. Parents can also access this curriculum.

And, as of today, Amazon Future Engineer is offering a virtual robotics program through partners CoderZ. The fully sequenced course accommodates age levels from second grade with block-based coding to high school with text-based coding.

Amazon Future Engineer also is providing access to EarSketch, a free program that helps students learn to code through music. Grammy-award winning artists Ciara and Common have both provided studio-quality music STEMs that students can remix from home using code.

Students, teachers, and parents can access a variety of free, online opportunities.

All grades
Our partners at BootUp PD offer free access to lesson plans and coding resources in the Scratch and ScratchJr applications for students to develop creative coding projects from home.

Additionally, our partner Code.org is hosting new “Code Break” episodes with special celebrity guests every Wednesday to teach students about computer science.

Second grade through high school
Amazon Future Engineer is offering a free online coding course designed to teach students about the fundamentals of coding through coding a virtual robot. The fully sequenced course focuses on block-based coding for younger students and text-based coding for more advanced students. (Available in English and Spanish.)

Middle school and high school
Amazon Future Engineer is providing free access to our sponsored computer science courses, including Introductory and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Through this offering, teachers can also access online professional development.

Amazon Future Engineer is also providing access to EarSketch, a free program that helps students learn to code through music. Grammy-award winning artists Ciara and Common have both provided songs that students can remix from home using code. Students can also enter their remixes into weekly challenges managed by our partners at Georgia Tech.

Now and always, our Amazon Future Engineer program is focused on increasing access to computer science education for hundreds of thousands of students and teachers.

Visit the Amazon Future Engineer website, to get free course materials.

About Amazon Future Engineer

Amazon is committed to bringing more resources to children and young adults to help them build their best future. Amazon has invested more than $50 million to increase access to computer science/STEM education and has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country. Amazon’s primary computer science access program, Amazon Future Engineer, is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to try computer science. 

Denver Zoo Launches Virtual Zoo with Daily Videos and Family Activities

Zoo to You: Virtual Safari Keeps the Community Connected to Denver Zoo and Its 3,000 Animals

 Denver Zoo may not be open to guests, but its animal care team is still busy at work caring for its nearly 3,000 animals. And now the Zoo is reaching out to the community with a new resource to help families stay connected to its animals and stave off cabin fever during this difficult time. Zoo to You: Virtual Safari will be updated daily with new animal videos, wildlife-themed activities and other ideas that families can do at home. Highlights include:

  • Live Streams and DZTV Videos: The Zoo will feature a new animal and area of the Zoo every day at 1 p.m. MST on Facebook Live, which will give viewers a chance to interact directly with animal care staff. There will also be new animal videos posted across the Zoo’s social channels—FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube—and Zoo to You: Virtual Safari throughout the week.

  • Daily Family Activity Ideas: The Zoo’s Learning Experiences team will share daily nature play and wildlife-themed activities to help parents keep their kids busy, entertained and engaged during school closures, from Giraffe Yoga to 25 Nature Play Ideas.

  • Conservation from Home: Families can become citizen scientists from the comfort of their homes by taking part in the Zoo’s Colorado Corridors Project and play a meaningful role in helping save wildlife. Users can identify local wildlife in photos captured by remote cameras along I-70 then visit Zooniverse to participate in other conservation projects around the world.

Visitors to Zoo to You: Virtual Safari are also encouraged to make a donation to the Zoo’s Emergency Support Fund during its closure to help cover the costs of caring for its nearly 3,000 animals. For more information visit DenverZoo.org/ZootoYou.

Rocky Mountain PBS’ New 24/7 Kids Channel + The White House’s Cool Remote Learning Resources

 Rocky Mountain Public Media (RMPM) is providing educational resources for children across the state who have been affected by school closures through its Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) stations and digital presence at rmpbs.org. In response to needs expressed by educators and caregivers, this initiative will provide all students with access to free educational resources at home, both on-air and online, regardless of their broadband access. 

RMPBS will be offering STEAM-focused content on-air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for ages 6 and up. These programs include History Detectives, NOVA, Nature and other quality PBS programs and documentaries focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. For children ages 2 and up, RMPBS will be offering programs like Wild Kratts, Peg + Cat and SciGirls between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. The entertaining and educational PBS KIDS programming will continue to be available all day on the 24/7 PBS KIDS subchannel or the free PBS KIDS Video or Games apps. For information about how to access channels based on location, visit http://www.rmpbs.org/channels/

Rocky Mountain PBS is partnering with Denver Public Schools, and is seeking to work with other districts statewide, to curate complementary resources for on-air programs, including lesson plans and teaching guides from accredited teachers. The resources will be available online at rmpbs.org and on the free PBS Video app. 

Rocky Mountain Public Media continues to be a trusted source for educational content and information as the community seeks resources and support related to coronavirus. For an overview of current programming, resources and initiatives, please visit http://www.rmpbs.org/covid19/

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Here’s a cool announcement from the White House Historical Association!

During this difficult time, the Rubenstein Center for White House History offers a wide variety of educational resources for learners of all ages. Content includes classroom resource packets, reading lists, virtual tours of the White House, short educational videos, historical essays, and a digital library of White House and presidential images. More content will be added in the days ahead so stay tuned

Colorado launches emergency child care for those on the front lines of coronavirus — and it’s free for now

A new effort to provide care for the children of thousands of hospital staff and emergency responders in Colorado kicked off Monday with around 900 children linked up with nearby child care providers.

The initiative covers a small slice of the tens of thousands of young children estimated to need care so their parents can work at essential jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, but leaders and participating child care providers say it represents an impressively fast response that will grow in the coming days.

State officials and more than a dozen early childhood groups spearheaded the emergency child care campaign last week after a wave of school and child care center closures set off fears that health professionals and first responders wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without a safe place to send their children.

Child care at the more than five dozen participating centers and licensed homes — most in the Denver metro area — is free for essential workers this week and next week because of funding from the state and several private companies and foundations. In future weeks, parents may be charged on a sliding-scale basis, but the details are in flux.
 
 
 
 
 
-Ann Schimke, Chalkbeat; photo Erin Einhorn

From the Front Lines of Empathy

Two weeks ago, I laid on my couch at 2 a.m., and tears ran down my cheeks. Insomnia had me up, and it was the book that had me crying. Earlier that day, I had a wonderful evening with a mentor of mine who was visiting Seattle, Dr. Bill Feoge. He is an incredible human who is credited as one of the main people responsible for eliminating smallpox. After our visit, I laid down to reread his book House on Fire about the elimination of smallpox, which I highly recommend. As I read the descriptions of the children inflicted with the smallpox virus and the pain they endured, tears welled in my eyes.  

That same week, I  knew things were bad in China, and I felt deeply for the people in that country. I had the chance to live there for two months in 2008, and images of their quarantined world and all those worried and sick made me so sad.

I also knew that things were heading our way.  I had just seen a young man in my medical clinic who had recently visited China and needed a note to return to work.  He told the nurse on the phone that he had no symptoms, but when he checked in, we found that his temperature was 100.2, and his heart rate was 107. 

A few days later I  spoke with a reporter at The New York Times about my concerns and here is an excerpt from the article written by Sheri Fink, 

“Dr. Delaney Ruston, a primary care physician in Seattle, said she had seen a patient last week with a low-grade fever who had been in China about three weeks earlier. She said public health officials told her the patient did not meet criteria for testing because the patient had been away from China for more than two weeks. Even so, Dr. Ruston wondered whether the patient, who wore a mask in the clinic to protect others and had no cough, could have had a mild case of the illness. ‘All of us are in dire need for a point-of-care test,’ she said, meaning a test that can be performed quickly on site, like those now in use for seasonal influenza.”

Then Tessa’s school shut down for six weeks (or longer), and now my son’s college is off — probably for the rest of the year.  Chase will have classes online, but Tessa has no assigned school work because of equity issues. This is what The Seattle Times reported on the matter: “Because the district will not be able to ensure all students have access to computers outside of school, there will be no online learning.” 

Meanwhile, I hear daily from parents, whose kids and teens are now off from school,  that they are more stressed than ever about screen time. One person wrote to me: “I returned home at 7:30 a.m. from biking to school with Z to find the Xbox action in full swing already, and I could feel my blood pressure spiking. All these teens at home from school = screentime management mania!” 

I find myself at the frontlines of both the medical pandemic and the challenges of parenting.

My husband, Peter Small, is a global health infectious disease doctor, and his life’s work has been about looking for solutions for these kinds of diseases and the issues around prevention and containment.  

Peter says: 

“Make no mistake about it… the situation is bad, but we know what each of us can do: social distancing! I also firmly believe that it will pass and that the challenges provide opportunities to be better. For example, our government will strengthen the social safety net, insurers will pay for telemedicine, employees will be more effective at working from home, and public health will be modernized to use digital technology for protecting all of our health.”

I will be working hard to connect with all of you and to help all of you connect as we move forward about COVID-19, loss of school and screen time issues. We asked on Screenager’s Facebook page on Sunday morning, what are your schools doing regarding remote learning? And already 128 people have made comments and shared ideas. 

Let me leave with the two messages that I think are key right now:

1.  Social distancing is indeed the right thing to do. Yet there still are many ways we can show our empathy towards others — helping to get food for elderly neighbors, having our kids send art cards to relatives, and so much much more. 

2. Screen time issues are going to be challenging right now, BUT there are a lot of things we still can do. I have written for over four years weekly on all sorts of topics that can help now, such as things to do for creative time online and offlineways to set up rules, ways to have calm conversations, and more. 

The whole Screenagers team and I are gearing up to provide lots of support. And we will be creating lots of ways of connecting with ideas and support through TTTs, Facebook, and more. 

Do not be hard on yourself if there is more screen time than you would like.

In summary, I just want to say that what is in my heart today is all about empathy for the pain and losses — but at the same time, I am hopeful. Bill Feoge and all the other people who helped to eradicate smallpox give me incredible hope. There are hundreds of studies happening right now trying to uncover answers to help end the COVID-19 outbreak and prevent its recurrence. Several of our infectious disease scientist friends have all switched their work over to COVID-19. We will get through this. 

-Delaney Ruston

What CAN I do during a time of social distancing?

What CAN I do during a time of social distancing?

During this period of social distancing there are still many things you can do. 

• Relax. Think of this as a time to slow down and do the things you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t found the time. Remember, mental health is important to overall health and keeps your immune system stronger.

• Enjoy the great outdoors while remembering to practice social distancing from other recreators.

• Watch videos to learn and practice new skills such art, crafting, electronics, musical instruments, home projects, cooking, etc.

• Get creative with the food that sits in your cabinets and never gets eaten.

• Learn a new musical instrument, or practice the one you’ve already picked up.

• Read a book: The libraries may be closing, but with your library card you can still check out books online through the Libby by OneDrive app.
       o Find your library and enter your library card and pin. The pin is typically the first four digits of your birthdate.
       o Visit https://utahsonlinelibrary.overdrive.com/utahsonlinelibrary-summit/content for more information

• Learn and/or practice meditation.

• Work on spring cleaning. This can include sorting and purging your drawers, cabinets, closets, rooms, or garage. Work outside to get your lawn or garden ready for spring; harden your home against wildfire dangers – clean up dead leaves, grass and other overgrowth.

• Help your children with schoolwork or play games as a family.

• Use social media to communicate with friends and loved ones.

• Play video, board, or card games.

Don’t miss: 

125 ideas for online learning for kids of all ages

Parent’s Guide to Colorado’s Coronavirus Outbreak: Keeping kids busy, school closures and more

50 fun things to do with your kids at home

 

National Day of Unplugging

It’s a chance to unplug…and connect. Today is National Day of Unplugging which starts sundown, Friday, March 6th and goes until sundown Saturday, March 7th. Now is a perfect opportunity to talk with youth about how they (and you) would feel about putting tech away for 24 hours (or less or more) for this National Day of Unplugging. The key questions to ask are, “Why do it?”, “Will it be restful or stressful?” and “How to do it?” 

Every year, there are over 1,000 events that happen. Even if it doesn’t work for you or your kids to unplug for a whole 24 hours, picking just a segment of that time, like maybe the night of the March 6th, would be worthwhile. It is a great way to get the discussion going around these ideas.

Little experiments like these can bring big insights into our habits and help start us on a path of change. Screenagers has some great tips.

“Why do it?”

There are lots of reasons I will propose here, but of course, there are so many others as well.

One reason why is to “break free of automaticity.” I came up with this line thinking about National Day of UnPlugging. One gains a lot of insight from stepping out of habits. Noticing urges can be educational like the urge to check a phone, or laptop, or urge to pick up a video game controller. Thoughts may emerge like “Wow, I never thought how many times I go to do this or that,” or “Wow, I never knew it would be so hard to resist the urge to…,” or “Wow, it felt great knowing it was not an option for me to default to a screen during that period of time.”

Your family’s “why” may be to reclaim a sense of relaxing together. In a 2017 American Psychology Association survey of parents, 45 percent reported they felt disconnected from their families even when they were together, because of technology.

I just learned about the app, lilspace that matches business sponsors with people who unplug. For every minute the person disconnects, the business donates to a designated charity or non-profit. In March, when one uses the app to time their unplugged minutes, a sock manufacturer will give a new pair of socks to a person living in a homeless shelter.

Schools, or even just individual classes, can consider an unplugged day — it doesn’t have to be this week. Creating opportunities to rock the status quo is the perfect way to spark thoughtful discussions about how tech helps to learn, hinders it, affects student-teacher time together, and peer-to-peer time together. Framing an unplugged day at school as an “Experiment in Digital Citizenship” could be cool.

“Will it be restful or stressful?”

Some people welcome the event as a time of freedom from the constant mental pull of devices. This complete “no” can allow for other things to take place. Others may react by being flooded with anxious feelings.

Recently the MIT Review wrote about professor Ron Srigley’s work with his students. In 2015, Srigley asked his students to try going several days without using their cellphones at all. In 2019, he again asked students to do the same thing. Each year many students signed up for the challenge. Students from both years reported upsides and downsides of their experiences.

Some students reflected on the positives of not having a phone, reporting that it was easier to complete school work. “Writing a paper and not having a phone boosted productivity at least twice as much,” one of the students claimed. “You are concentrated on one task and not worrying about anything else.”

Some students gained essential insights during the challenge. One student wrote, “Having a cell phone has actually affected my personal code of morals and this scares me … I regret to admit that I have texted in class this year, something I swore to myself in high school that I would never do … ”

Not surprisingly, in 2019, the students were more dependent. It was harder for them to go without their phones and all the tools that live on it, like the bus schedule or payment apps.

“How to do it?”

If you decide to unplug, how can you increase the chance that it is restful? One way is to plan. For a long time, I experimented every Tuesday, unplugging from dinner until the next morning. Any habit change is indeed an experiment, and it took me a while to realize how important it was for me to plan the emails I would need to send before I sat down for dinner. I also needed to plan alternative things to do so I could resist the urge to grab my laptop. For instance, I would set out a beading project and put a fun magazine by my couch, which I had meant to read, such as National Geographic or Eating Well. During these months, one thing I loved was that I was more relaxed and available to my family every Tuesday night.

You might suggest a card game in place of a video game or how about a scavenger hunt for things they might find outside? Or, if you are driving somewhere, maybe talk about those car games we used to do in the “olden days” where we looked for different license plates from different states.

Here are some questions to get the discussion going about the National Day of Unplugging:

If you were to unplug for the day, what do you expect would be the best things about the day? What would be the worst things?

What are some ways you would set up the day so there wouldn’t be so much of a pull to your devices?

Do you think you could gather a group of friends to unplug for 24 hours? Or a different amount of time?

If you want to host a screening of the movie in your community, please fill out this form.

-Delaney Ruston

Denver Children’s Consignment Sales Spring 2020

It’s finally here! Twice a year, Mile High Mamas does a round-up detailing Colorado’s popular children’s consignment sales. Thousands of shoppers find bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more…all at 50-90% below retail.

Be sure to check out the following fabulous sales. Always double-check the website for times and details.

February 6-9
Just Between Friends of Broomfield/Brighton

Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (50% off); 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (75% off)
Where: Adams County Fairgrounds, Brighton
broomfield.jbfsale.com 

March 7
Mothers of Multiples Society Sale
Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $2 admission.
Where: Douglas County Fairgrounds
mothersofmultiples.com

March 12-16
Just Between Friends of Arvada
Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Flation Marketplace
https://arvada.jbfsale.com/homeView.jsp

March 26-29
Just Between Friends of Aurora
Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. $2 admission; Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (25% off sale); Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (50% off)
Where: Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, 25690 East Quincy Avenue, Aurora, CO 80016 
aurora.jbfsale.com

April 2-5
Just Between Friends of Loveland
Times: Thurs.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. -2 p.m. (75% off) 
Where: The Outlets at Loveland – I-25 & Hwy 34
http://loveland.jbfsale.com/homeView.jsp

April 2-5
Just Between Friends of Douglas County
Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.($2 admission) ; Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ($2 admission) ; Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (half-price sale; $2 admission)
Where: Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Drive, Castle Rock, CO 80104
douglascounty.jbfsale.com

April 15-19
Just Between Friends of Denver

Thursday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., ($4 admission) Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. ($2 admission); Saturday: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (half-price sale)
Where: National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, Denver
denver.jbfsale.com

April 17-18
Haute Tots

Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. ; Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 1 p.m.-4 p.m. (half-price sale) $1 admission
Where: Arvada Methodist Church, 6750 Carr Street, Arvada, CO 80004
hautetotssale.com

April 25
Boulder County Kids Sale
10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Boulder Valley Christian Church, 7100 S Boulder Road, Boulder
https://bouldertwins.org/boulder_county_kids_sale/

May 7-10
Just Between Friends of Longmont

Times: Thurs.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Sat. 50% off); Sun. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (75% off)
Where: Boulder County Fairgrounds, Longmont
longmont.jbfsale.com

Have we missed your favorite sale? Be sure to leave the information in the comments below.

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Consignment sales no longer in operation:

New to You: Pending
Supertwins of Colorado: Discontinued
Bear Valley MOPS: Discontinued
St. Philip Early Learning Center: Fall sale only
Rhea Lana’s
Darling Doubles

NICU Moms: It is OK to Grieve

NICU moms are strong. They are warriors. They hold it together and fight for their baby, keeping watch over them as often as possible. 

But NICU moms are in pain. The pain comes not just from delivery, both vaginal and C-section. The pain comes not just from swollen ankles and swollen, well, other bits.  The pain comes not just from the headache you get from Pre-eclampsia or Magnesium infusions and the pain of an empty heart because your baby is not in the same room as you. The pain comes, in part, from grief.

Being pregnant and having a baby is a miraculous process. I never knew how much I could love someone I had never met until I had a miscarriage. We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year and I remember crying tears of joy when I saw the positive pregnancy test. I fell in love with that baby, the idea of that baby, the dream of bringing that baby home, the dream of holidays and traditions with our baby – I fell in love with motherhood the minute the pregnancy test was positive.  I spent 4 weeks imagining the life I would have after I brought my baby home. And then my world was turned upside down when I lost my baby at 10 weeks. 

When a mother finds out that her pregnancy is derailed, regardless of the reason (miscarriage, prematurity, congenital anomalies, traumatic delivery),  it is OK for her to grieve. It is necessary to grieve. It is important to grieve. 

I intentionally titled this post Its OK…”  The worst phrase someone can hear when grieving begins with Its OK”. 

 “Its OK – you can get pregnant again.”

”Its OK – your baby is going to be fine.”

”Its OK – I know you are a fighter and so is your baby.”

Well, quite frankly, no. It is not OK. We dont all know we can get pregnant again. We dont know that everything will be fine when our baby is critically ill. Stop telling us Its going to be fine” and Its going to be ok”. Because you dont know that. And I dont know that. And it is scary. It is ok to feel bad; to feel overwhelmed and scared to breathe. Be sad. Be mad. Be angry. And grieve. Grieve the loss of the normal” pregnancy you wanted. Grieve the loss of having a healthy baby that stays in the room with you and goes home with you. Grieve the ideal breastfeeding journey you were striving for. Grieve the loss of the dreams you had for this baby at this time.  In order to create new dreams for your growing family, you need space to grieve what you anticipated. 

Going through medical school, Id learned there were 5 stages of grief, but it wasnt until I lost my pregnancy that I lived through them.

1. Denial. The first phase is Denial – it helps us survive the grief.  When you start to cramp and bleed at week nine but convince yourself you are just tired or dehydrated. Those first hours after being admitted to Labor and Delivery at 24 weeks with pre-eclampsia, when the doctor tells you that you are going to have a premature baby, and you just know you are going to stay pregnant for another 10 weeks. Those days after you rupture your bag of water at 7 months but try to convince yourself that you just peed. That is denial. Denial lets you control the pace at which your grieve. You get small hints of grief, small moments of panic and then stuff it away with denial.

2. Anger comes next. It is a necessary stage of healing. We direct our anger in different directions – sometimes it is directed at spouses and family, sometimes at the doctors and nurses caring for the baby. Parents can feel anger towards God and even towards their baby.  That anger is ok. You are ok. It is ok to be angry. Anger shows how intensely you love your baby. Often with grief, it is as if you are completely disconnected from the world and the people around you, giving you a sense that you are floating, lost in space. Anger gives you a sense of connection – when you are angry, you are connected. 

3. Bargaining. As the anger fades, and the feelings of grief begin to settle in, the third phase rolls in – bargaining. Bargaining and guilt go hand-in-hand. If only” and I promise” statements fill our brain. If only I hadnt worked out so hard once I found out I was pregnant, I wouldnt have lost my baby. If only I hadnt gone on vacation I wouldnt have delivered early. If only I hadnt gotten so stressed out at work I would have stayed pregnant longer. I promise if you fix everything and make life normal,” I will… Bargaining and guilt hold us in the past preventing us from moving forward. 

4. Depression comes next, moving our brains out of the past and into the present. We have to face the reality of our loss. The loss of the dream. The loss of a healthy child. The realization that life will not be the same. Depression is a natural part of grief, not something we just push through”. We need to feel and acknowledge what we wanted in order to accept where we are. 

5. Acceptance. And that brings us to the final phase of grief – acceptance. Acceptance is not about saying we are ok” or fine”. It is not pretending that everything is as it should be. Acceptance is about living and moving forward with your new reality: Finding routines for splitting your time between the NICU and at home with other children. Finding routines for being with your baby and working so you can save your maternity leave for when your baby comes home. Creating new dreams that are built upon your new reality. 

For me, grief was not linear. I tried to stay in denial until it was ripped away from my grasp.  I would bounce between anger and depression – and then depression settled on me and held on for a long time. Just as I thought I was moving into acceptance, anger would pull me right back and I would be grappling with anger and bargaining all over again.  But my friends and family stuck by me and supported me and eventually, I found my way out of grief, into acceptance, and able to move forward with trying to have the family I wanted. I wont lie – it was hard, really hard. I was scared. What if I lost another baby? (Which I did.) What if Im not strong enough to do this?  But I was strong enough. I braved the next steps, and now I have three healthy children! I am so glad I didnt quit on my dream to have a family. 

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

— VICKI HARRISON

Both Christie and Katie had babies in the NICU in the last 5 years. They shared their stories with me.

When I heard from the doctors that my baby might not make it to delivery, my way of dealing with it was to pretend that wasnt true. I kept taking bump pictures as if we were going to make it to term. That was my grieving process at the time, complete denial. This is my last bump picture before delivery – you can see my swollen eyes from crying. – Christie, a NICU mom 

Katie writes a lovely recounting of her experience in the NICU, holding her son for the first time, that illustrates the denial and fear that often start the grief process in the NICU: 

Chris and I didnt realize how serious this second surgery was, giving truth to the saying ignorance is bliss.” It was unthinkable that our son was already going to have his second surgery and he was only one week old. The gravitas of the situation became real to us because we were allowed a significant moment before the surgery: we were allowed to hold Tim. I had never cradled my week-old son in my arms. The gesture took me by surprise for a number of reasons. Its an instinct to hold ones baby, yet I was terrified to hold my fragile son and had to be reassured by our primary nurse, Jill, that I could do it. But deeper down, I was afraid it would be my first and last time to hold my son.

Jill moved all the tubes and wires and gently positioned Tim in my arms. It was the first time I felt connected to him outside of my tummy. I was overwhelmed by our embrace and didnt want to let go of him. I was crying so hard my tears were falling on his face. I never felt so alive to the impossible preciousness of each second I had with him. And finally, finally, I felt that bond that mothers feel, that I had been missing. Its hard for many mothers to understand, but NICU moms can relate; I was scared to get attached to him.

For moms in the NICU, moving through grief allows you to accept the reality of holding your baby once a day while they are still less than 2 pounds. It is accepting the little victories of getting central lines and breathing tubes out. It is accepting that you will be an advocate for your childs health.  Moving through grief and processing your grief allows you to enjoy the little moments of joy and big milestones with your #MightyLittle.

Anna Zimmermann is a pediatrician and neonatologist working in Denver, Colorado taking care of sick infants in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She has started writing about parenting in her new blog MightyLittles. While writing about all of parenting, one focus is honoring the memories and bringing light to the feelings mom’s have while going through their NICU journey.  You can connect with her at www.mightylittles.com