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Unraveling the mystery of nanny taxes (and the Denver moms who are helping you do it)

When you are trying to juggle a million things at once, we all know how helpful it can be to have help at home. But I’ll admit that I’m rather ignorant when it comes to the rules for employing someone in my home like a nanny, babysitter, or housekeeper. So, I was thrilled to get the inside scoop from Denver mom and CPA Katie Stoll, co-founder of Poppins Payroll

Like many moms, when her daughter was born she hired a nanny because she worked full-time. Because of her training as a CPA, Katie knew that the if you pay more than $2,000 a year to anyone you employ in your home, like nannies, babysitters, housekeepers, and other caretakers, the IRS considers them your employee, and not an independent contractor. Which means you have to deal with complicated household employment taxes, or “nanny taxes.”

“It was important to us to withhold taxes from our nanny’s paycheck–not only to follow the law and avoid an IRS inquiry, but for the benefit of our nanny,” says Katie. “She gets money put towards her social security, medicare and unemployment funds if we pay legally. The same benefits that everyone else gets in their workplace.” Plus if you pay legally, you can take advantage of tax breaks which can offset or even exceed the additional cost. 

But does the mere mention of the word taxes make your head spin?

Complying with the nanny tax is not for the faint of heart.  You must basically run payroll and taxes like a company.  Among the many complexities, every payday you would need to calculate and withhold various taxes. You then also remit those certain taxes to the various agencies at different deadlines. And what about staying informed of the ever-changing tax laws?

For 2019, the threshold for household employees was $2,100; meaning that if you pay a household employee, such as a nanny, more than $2,100 a year to perform work in your home the IRS says you are a household employer and must pay taxes. In 2020, that limit has changed to $2,200.

Even the IRS thinks it’s complicated. In fact, the IRS estimates that it would take 60 hours a year to do your own nanny taxes.  Even if you could find the time, what if you’re clueless about how to do this as an employer? 

Enter: Poppins Payroll

Poppins Payroll was founded by two moms who were looking for a simple and affordable solution to the confusion that is household payroll.  Poppins Payroll takes care of all of your household employer obligations and best of all, it’s only $39 a month.  That is money very well spent.  Other providers such as care.com‘s Homepay charge $92/month for the same service.  Yikes! poppinspayroll1

And the best news of all? Not only do you get tax professionals making sure you stay 100% in step with the complicated tax laws, but Poppins is easy to use and has an intuitive (and super adorable) user interface so that everything is done online – no more forms every payday.  According to Katie, “We have already seen that our users love it. About 50 percent of our users were referred to us by an existing user. That’s pretty awesome!” 

poppinspayroll2What else is awesome? Right now Poppins Payroll is offering the first month for free.  

Allyson Patterson of Boulder knows all too well the challenges of employing someone in your home. “Poppins Payroll is an extremely helpful and convenient service for our family. As first time nanny employers, we were unaware of the associated tax requirements, such as applying for an EIN, the numerous tax deadlines and associated forms. Poppins walked us through the process online and submits our nanny’s withholding electronically. Set up was intuitive and fast.  Our questions are always answered quickly and in a way I can understand. We also have easy access to payroll information and documents in the online portal. I am happy to have found Poppins and not have to worry about the nanny taxes at all.”

Because don’t moms have enough to worry about already?

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Contest: Chautauqua Hiking Plays bring treasure hunting to the trails (win tickets!)

Gather the family and kids for a hiking play adventure at the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark!

Remember those books where you got to choose your own adventure? In “The Treasures of Toothless Jack” by Joaquin Aviña, audience members get a chance to choose the path of the play’s two friends as they are pulled into a mystery, challenge bad guys and search for lost treasure. Will it lead to countless riches or will they face a less fortunate fate?

Past production Goldilocks

Past production Goldilocks

Running weekends September 17 through October 30, 2016, audience and actors take a moderate hike on the Enchanted Mesa Trail while scenes from “The Treasures of Toothless Jack” are performed along the way. Approximate length of the hike is two miles with an elevation gain of 400 feet. Recommended for ages five (5) and older. Show length: 2 hours.

Audience members are encouraged to bring camping chairs and/or blankets and mats to sit on while watching the scenes. Water, sunscreen and hats are suggested and comfortable walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing are strongly encouraged. In case of inclement weather, the performance will be held under the Picnic Shelter.

Buy early! Each hike is capped at low numbers and tends to sell out in advance. 

September 17 – October 30. Chautauqua Picnic Shelter. Boulder, Colorado. Presented by Arts in the Open.  Buy tickets online. For more information, visit www.chautauqua.com or call 303.440.7666.

Visit the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark

Escape to the nation’s only year-round chautauqua providing lodging, dining, arts and cultural programming, and scenic splendor at your front door. Located less than a mile from the University of Colorado Boulder at the base of the beautiful Flatirons, the Colorado Chautauqua offers the family respite and rejuvenation through a rich tradition of history, culture and nature. For more information, visit www.chautauqua.com or call 303.442.3282.

Contest

theaterhikeMile High Mamas is giving away two tickets to the Sunday, October 9 performance at “The Treasures of Toothless Jack.” You may enter as many as five times!

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Best learning apps for Colorado kids

Your kids are back in school, but the learning doesn’t have to stop when the final bell rings. Reinforce the skills they’re practicing in the classroom with these four learning apps that are perfect for Colorado kids. They’re so fun to use, your children won’t even realize they’re learning!

Excel in school with a fun learning app

Strengthen the skills your kids are learning at school with IXL, a website and mobile app aligned to the Colorado education standards. IXL covers math, language arts, science, and social studies for grades K-12, and makes practice feel like play. Through fun, interactive questions, students can review concepts they’ve already learned or get a head start on more challenging skills. Each child’s practice session is unique, as questions automatically adjust in difficulty based on their skill level. While kids practice, they’ll collect awards and earn certificates that keep them coming back for more!ixl

Explore the outdoors and think like a scientist

Colorado is full of great parks and open spaces, and it’s easy to make learning part of your family’s outdoor activities! With the Project Noah app, kids can take photos of plants and animals they see, enter field notes, and submit their findings, as well as see other flora and fauna that others have spotted. As they explore, your children will learn how to make scientific observations and develop their curiosity about the natural world.

Cook up an interest in healthy food

Denver is known as one of the healthiest cities in the country, so get your kids on the path to a healthy lifestyle with the Cooking Fun For Kids app! Your children will learn to recognize healthy fruits and vegetables with a matching game, go on a scavenger hunt at the supermarket, try their hand in the kitchen with kid-friendly recipes and videos, and more.

Kick off a love of reading

With 8 professional teams including the Super Bowl champions Broncos, Denver is a great sports town. Turn your kids’ enthusiasm for sports into an excitement about reading with the Sports Illustrated for Kids app. They’ll be able to read about their favorite sports stars and play with interactive features like trivia, virtual sports cards, and more!

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

How Denver-based Nolah Sleep is helping you sleep better (and giving back)

There are two things that are imperative to me since becoming a mom: regularly carving out “me time” and getting a good night’s sleep. Depending upon the circumstances, some days are better than others but guaranteed, if Mama ain’t happy sleeping, ain’t no one happy. 

nolah2Given my passion for a good night’s sleep, I was interested to learn that Denver-based Anna Hjoellund and Daniel Galle are on a mission to change how Americans sleep and shop for their mattresses. Combined, they have close to 20 years experience of designing some of the world’s best sleeping products and they’re not just talking the talk but founded Nolah Sleep as their talk. 

“To create tomorrow’s mattress Nolah learned from the past and saw that both Latex and Memory Foam are outdated materials that are inferior of today’s most advanced foam technology,” says Daniel. Being a technology driven company, Nolah then embarked on an 18-month long journey to create the next big thing within sleep foam. The result, after testing hundreds of constructions and foams, is the Nolah Air Foam. It’s firm, yet soft, so it’s able to contour perfectly to the sleeper’s shape and movement. You can read more about it on this Nolah mattress review. They have done an in-depth look at the mattress and the company.

Seeing is believing. I was sent a Nolah Air Foam to test out and I was surprised when it was delivered rolled up in a large box. Apparently I’m not the only one perplexed by the packaging because Nolah made a quick video about setting up the mattress. 

My first impressions: it wasn’t nearly as thick as our previous 15-year-old mattress and it was much firmer. I don’t prefer a soft mattress but the Nolah was really different than how I usually sleep so I decided to give it a week until I passed judgment [whereas my daughter, on Day 1, declared it felt “heavenly.”]nolah3

Here’s what was heavenly to me immediately. Our upstairs bedroom is stuffy and hot in the summertime and I’m rarely able to sleep through the night. The company’s Nolah Air Foam is 100 percent temperature neutral because it doesn’t contain Viscoelastic chemicals as Memory Foam does. Therefore, it sleeps cooler than any other Memory Foam mattress, with or without cooling gel, and even shows 4x less peak pressure on the sleeper’s hip and back areas when compared with traditional Memory Foam mattresses.

I thought my lack of sleep in the summer was due to the temperature in the room. I had no idea that my mattress was contributing to my discomfort because, for the first time ever, I was not hot at night.

By Day 4, I was a convert to the Nolah mattress.   What originally felt too stiff molded to my body and was super comfortable. I have erroneously equated my bed’s comfort with its thickness and now realize I had it all wrong.

Their Amazing Offer

Nolah’s office is located at 3773 Cherry Creek North but the mattress is only available online, as this is the core idea behind the whole online matters movement. Cut away distribution cost and expensive retail stores and offer the saving to the consumers instead at 1/3 the retail prices with free wildlife adoption, free shipping, free return and 120 nights trial period with a 15-year warranty. You can’t get any of these shopping perks in a mattress store. The main reason why people have started to buy Nolah’s mattresses online without first trying them is the risk-free 120 night trial period. With this, you don’t have to try the mattress first, just buy it, try it and return it if you don’t love it. They send a driver to pick it up again and donate it to a local charity.

nolah1“When we sell Nolah directly to consumers online it’s exactly the same foam mattress as you find in mattress stores retailing from anywhere from $2,800 up to $5,000,” says Daniel. “Our Nolah mattress is manufactured by the same factory and at the exact same production line as one of the known flagship mattresses that retail for $3,200 in one of the national mattress stores. Exactly the same quality grade foam and the only difference is that we sell directly to the consumers and mattress stores goes through middlemen that inflate the retail price.”

The Technology

Their core technology is the process of creating the air pockets inside their Nolah Air Foam. And then secondly that they removed the Viscoelastic chemical found in all Memory Foam. It’s these Viscoelastic chemicals that turn normal foam into Memory Foam, but they also trap heat that makes Memory Foam sleep too hot for a lot of people. They removed these chemicals and created the “hugging” and “contouring” effect of Memory Foam by using air pockets inside the foam instead of added chemicals. Their secret is to create the air pockets in a way so that air is more readily trapped inside the pockets and therefore requiring more force to release resulting in a superior pressure distribution that feels firm, yet soft, so it’s able to contour perfectly to the sleeper’s shape and movement.
 
Don’t believe me? If you’re in the market for a new mattress, test a Nolah mattress out yourself and you’ll become a convert, too. 

Why your child needs personalized learning

Wouldn’t it be great if your kids could learn at their own pace, confidently explore new challenges, and take ownership of their learning? With personalized learning, or adaptive learning, technology engages children more deeply with their education.

Here’s what you should know about adaptive learning and how it can help your children:

Your kids are unique. Their learning should be too!

Every child learns differently, so static types of educational content—like traditional textbooks or paper worksheets—may not suit the style or pace at which your children learn most effectively. By contrast, adaptive learning programs are web- or computer-based and don’t have a set learning path. They provide your kids with content tailored to their needs, based on their real-time interactions with the program. That means that kids are challenged at just the right level, preventing them from getting frustrated with content that’s too difficult, while building their confidence as they learn.

They’ll be able to learn independently.

With adaptive learning, children can get the guidance they need even if their teacher or parent isn’t in the room. For example, IXL, a popular online learning program aligned to the Colorado education standards, provides immediate feedback and support—meaning your kids know right away whether they answered a question correctly, and get a detailed explanation of how to solve the problem if they answered incorrectly. This promotes independent learning and instills in your children the belief that they can learn from their mistakes, move on, and improve. ixl2

Your children will take ownership of their education.

Finally, the best adaptive programs inspire kids to take charge of their education. Using personalized content makes your children feel like they’re charting their own unique learning path and not just learning because they have to. Programs like IXL give kids even more control with access to thousands of skills in all grade levels so they can explore the topics that pique their interest, review concepts from earlier grades, or work ahead on more challenging concepts.

“Our kids love using IXL,” says Tom K. of Denver, Colorado. “They are exposed to several different subjects, can develop at their own pace, and the continuously-updated scores let them know how well they are progressing.”

Adaptive learning programs are great as a supplement to what your children are learning in school. Find out more about how a program like IXL can help your kids at www.ixl.com/colorado!ixl1

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

Throw an Olympic-themed party with Sprouts + the best pizza recipe ever

I’m a longtime fan of the Olympic Games and have been honored to attend three of them (Calgary ’88; Salt Lake City ’02 and Vancouver ’10). As much as I’d love to travel to Rio in person, the next best thing is to throw an Olympic-themed celebration of my own.

Sprouts Farmers Market challenged me to pull together a party with a food theme of my choosing. Of course, we’re all cheering for the Red, White and Blue but I thought it was a brilliant idea to add some international flavor to the ultimate world event so I chose Italy as my theme! My brother’s family just returned from a whirlwind European vacation where they took a pizza-making class in Florence, Italy and theirs is now my favorite pizza crust recipe ever.

 toppingsBonus: It doesn’t hurt that my brother just built a beautiful wood-burning pizza oven in their backyard but rest assured for the rest of us common folk, this pizza is scrumptious when baked in the oven or on the grill as well!

I’m not a huge fan of thin crust pizza, mostly because the American version is limp and lifeless. But in the Florence region, their crust is crispy and flavorful. The base of the dough is made with simple ingredients: flour, water, yeast and olive oil so the secret is in the preparation. 

Any Olympic Italian-themed Party needs a spread of amazingly fresh toppings from Sprouts Farms Market that could include Sprouts Marina Pasta Sauce, pureed tomato, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, dried oregano, spicy salami, pepperoni and anything else that fits your fancy. We used plenty of non-traditional toppings as well such as ham, smoked chicken, pineapple, maple bacon, olives and we even made a sweet mango pizza where we brushed the crust with melted butter, generously sprinkled cinnamon sugar and then topped with mangoes (this is also delicious with apples).

Of course, pizza was the main attraction but we also had fantastic sides and appetizers that included Italian-herb flavored Tuscan Crisps from Sprouts that we dipped in olive oil and mozzarella balls. And an Italian celebration is not complete without Gelato to top it off so don’t miss our recipe below.

Let the Games begin!

Authentic Pizza Recipe from Florence

Ingredients for pizza dough

7 cups of wheat flour

3 cups of water (room temperature)

pizza11 oz yeast 

1 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

(For pizza toppings: pureed tomato, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, dried oregano, spicy salami)

Preparation

1. Add the yeast to water and stir vigorously until dissolved.

2. Place the flour in a pile on a marble or wooden surface.

3. Using your hands, make a well in the middle of the flour, then add the water mixture, salt and olive oil to the well.

patpizza14. With a fork, gradually add flour from the wall of the well.

5. When the mixture has a sticky consistency, begin to knead with your hands. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Once your dough is smooth, cut it into pieces (sized as you desire).

6. Form balls with each of your pieces of dough. Leave the balls to rest for two hours covered with a damp towel.

7. Take one ball of dough, which should have increased greatly in size, and make it circular by hand.

8. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and using a rolling pin roll your dough into a circle with a diameter of approximately 5-6 inches.

9. Thinly spread your pizza base with tomato, followed by a handful of mozzarella cheese.

10. For Margherita pizza, add fresh basil leaves; for Marinara pizza, add chopped fresh garlic, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and dried oregano; for spicy salami, add hot salami.

11. Cook in oven for 4-5 minutes, at 460°F (220°C), and serve.

Other suggestions for pizza toppings: Pizza 4 Formaggi – add Fontina cheese, Gorganzola cheese, mozzarella cheese and Brie cheese. For Pizza Napoli – add capers and anchovies.

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I’m a huge fan of Gelato but my dreams were crushed when my sister-in-law informed me that Gelato is basically ice cream after it ix mixed together in your ice cream maker but before it is frozen. And then I got over it and stuffed my face with as much as possible. This Gelato recipe from their Florence cooking class has many delicious variations. 

Fior di Latte Gelato

Serves 10 people

gelato2 1⁄2 cups whole milk (no skimmed)

1 cup sugar

1 1⁄4 cups fresh cream

Preparation

1. Warm the milk and add the other ingredients, stirring well until everything is dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into the machine and let it go to work! Your gelato should be a lovely smooth consistency.

Strawberry Gelato

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh strawberries

1⁄2 cup white sugar

1⁄2 cup water

Preparation

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into the machine and let it go to work! Your gelato should be a lovely smooth consistency.

Cioccolato Gelato

The ingredients and preparation are the same as Fior di Latte, however you must also add 1 cup (80g) of Cocoa Powder.

Crema Gelato

The ingredients and preparation are the same as Fior di Latte, however you must also add 5 egg yolks.

Lemon Gelato

Serves 6 people

Ingredients

2 cups lemon juice

1 cup white sugar

3 cups water

Preparation

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Pour the mixture into the machine and let it go to work! Your gelato should be a lovely smooth consistency.

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Kids Who ROCK’ CHROMEBOOK NOTEBOOK GIVEAWAY

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

MEET & GREET WITH CURIOUS GEORGE

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

LARGER-THAN- LIFE OUTDOOR GAMES

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

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

john

John Lindahl

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

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

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

Klement’s Sausage: Win a prize pack of their artisan sausages!

One of the awesome things about being a part of Mile High Mamas is we’re often privy to new products as they’re released in Colorado.

klementsCase in point: Klement’s authentic European handcrafted sausage. I’ve come to know the hard way that not all sausages are created equally and we’ve become a big fan of Klement’s gluten-free, naturally hardwood-smoked sausages that have no MSG added but plenty of flavor. A few of our favorites include their Snack Sticks, Summer Sausages, and Precooked European Traditions Dinner Links.

Established in 1956, this family-founded company boasts three generations of artisan sausage makers. It has grown from a small sausage kitchen to one of the largest producers of fine, Old World sausage products.  Made is small batches with 100% quality ingredients (only premium cuts of beef and pork), their products are NOT co-extruded (a continuous process typically used to cut costs) when the sausage meat is pumped through an inner tube on a machine, while alginate (a gel formed from algae that is used as a substitute meat casing) is pumped around the sausage. Sadly, many of the sausage market leaders in the U.S. use this process but not Klement’s sausage…and it shows in the flavor. 

A few ways we’ve loved munching down on Klement’s this summer: 

  • We’ve done some boating with our family and it’s fast and easy to throw their Snack Sticks in our cooler along with drinks. It’s a simple way to get a burst of protein after a long day on the lake.
  • Serve Klement’s as an appetizer before your next meal…or the next day for snacks. It tastes marvelous with crackers and cheese. 
  • Lazy mom confession: we often have them for lunch, along with fruit. One can only handle so many sandwiches, right?
  • I love to chop them up and throw them in my summer salads (pasta and even potato salads work marvelously) or a marinara sauce. 
  • klements4When school starts next month, we’ll make our own (much healthier) lunchables with the Summer Sausages. For quick, on-the-go lunches, throw in a Snack Stick.
  • Two words: pizza topping!

Klement’s sausages are now available at Walmarts across the Denver metro area. Their snack sticks and summer sausages can also be found at Amazon.com

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a tasty prize pack of Klement’s sausages delivered right to your door!  You may enter as many as five times. 

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goodnessknows you’ll have a blast with these adventures along Ralston Creek Trail

Last Wednesday, Mile High Mamas partnered with goodnessknows snack squares to host a group ride in celebration of Bike to Work Day. We met at an official Bike to Work station behind Arvada’s City Hall where we fueled up with complimentary breakfast burritos, cinnamon rolls and, of course, goodnessknows snack squares. Our group of about 20 riders then set out along this beautiful route as we made a few playground stops, played in the creek, climbed trees, discovered a secret bike park with a rope swing and had the time of our lives. 

The important thing about Bike to Work Day’s city-wide campaign is it encourages people of all ages to get outside and be active. I was thrilled to ride a darling goodnessknows-themed Public Bike with a basket chock full of goodnessknows snack squares that I passed out during our ride. This delicious and amazingly satisfying snack combines the goodness of whole nuts, real fruit like cranberries and tart cherries, toasted oats and dark chocolate with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners with naturally occurring cocoa flavanols and is the perfect energy boost throughout your day. goodnessknows

We put our goodnessknows  “Gear Up and Go” swag bags to good use as we explored Arvada’s trail system and here are some tips for exploring this summer:

Memorial Park. We started at the expansive park behind Arvada’s City Hall (8001 West 59th Avenue) with one of the steepest slides in the city and plenty of gorgeous shade trees that are perfect for picnicking. For Bike to Work Day, there were a lot of people passing through, playing Johnny Roberts Disc Golf Course and busting out some cool moves at the Memorial Park Skate Spot.goodness2

Ralston-Central Park. Just a mile west from Memorial Park along the Ralston Creek Trail, this newish area has spray fountains, a killer playground, pavilions and is the hottest spot in Arvada on a hot day. We chugged water from our goodnessknows water bottles for a brief cool down.

goodness8Oak Park. The Ralston Creek Trail briefly goes through a residential area (just stay on Brooks Drive and follow the trail signs). By this time we’d been biking for about 15 minutes, the perfect opportunity to  take a snack break with goodnessknows snack squares. Just 150 calories and divided into four snackable squares per serving, they come in three flavors: 1. cranberry, almond, dark chocolate; 2. apple, almond & peanut, dark chocolate; and 3. peach & cherry, almond, dark chocolate.

Apex Center and Arvada Skate Park. The Ralston Creek Trail passes the backside of the Apex Center, which offers one of the best indoor waterparks in Colorado.  Just adjacent, the outdoor (and free) 40,000-square foot Arvada Skate Park is the third largest skate park in the country and has hosted several large-scale skating events.  

Ralston Valley Park. There are so many gorgeous park areas along the Ralston Creek Trail. One of our favorites is Ralston Valley Park, located off Beech Street. Serpentine Ralston Creek is perfect for wandering on a hot summer’s day so we kicked off our shoes to wade, climbed trees, had a blast at the playground and then dried off with our goodnessknows towels.goodness4

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Secret Dirt Bike Park. I’ve been vicariously reliving my youth by banking turns in this secret bike park inconspicuously tucked away in a grove of trees off the Ralston Creek Trail at approximately 68th Avenue and Eldridge Street. The kids (all of whom have lived in Arvada their entire lives) had no ideas this secret wonderland existed–it may be small but it is mighty! Be sure to try the rope swing as well. Bonus: our goodnessknows swag bags had a small first-aid kit that was perfect for a banged-up knee; one of the kids’ not mine. This Mile High Mama prevailed!goodness10

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From this point, your options are many. You may keep going westward on the Ralston Creek Trail for several more miles all the way to Tucker and Long Lakes adjacent to Highway 73. We opted to do a loop by going south on Eldridge Street that dead-ends and reconnects with the trails through Van Bibber Open Space Park. 

The kids arrived home exhausted yet exuberant. I posted our adventures on Facebook and my friend Dave commented “Isn’t that really just Bike to the Park Day?” Maybe but guaranteed, we had a lot more fun than going to work and being active while enjoying a wonderful taste of goodnessknows throughout our entire day.  Be sure to #TryALittleGoodness this summer in Arvada! 

Sponsored by goodnessknows snack squares

What pregnant and breastfeeding moms need to know about marijuana use

Colorado’s legalization of retail marijuana for adults 21 and older still continues to be a divisive issue and as well it should be. But one thing that most of us can agree upon is that it is important to know about the laws and health effects that pertain to retail marijuana in Colorado.PBF Blogger Image Pregnancy

Over the next year, Mile High Mamas is teaming up with Good to Know Colorado to help pregnant and breastfeeding mothers learn the facts about retail marijuana so they can make informed and educated decisions for themselves and their babies.

Good to Know is the nation’s first public education campaign regarding the legal, safe and responsible use of retail marijuana through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). It’s not about scare tactics but rather focuses on evidence-based best practices in the public health and environmental fields and plays a critical role in educating us so we can make informed choices.

Here are a few important facts that expecting and breastfeeding mothers should know:

  • There is no known safe amount of marijuana use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Marijuana contains THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that makes the person consuming it feel “high.”
  • Whether marijuana is smoked or eaten, THC is passed to the baby when a woman uses marijuana during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.PBF Blogger Image Breastfeeding
  • Exposure to THC in the womb may affect a baby’s brain development, making it hard for them to pay attention and learn as they grow older.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says that mothers who are breastfeeding should not use marijuana.
  • When a breastfeeding woman smokes or eats marijuana, THC gets into her breast milk and passes through to her baby.
  • THC from marijuana use stays in breast milk much longer than alcohol does, so “pumping and dumping” doesn’t work the same way with marijuana.

PBF Blogger Social Image Pumping and Dumping

  • Because THC is stored in body fat, it stays in the mother’s body for a long time. A baby’s brain and body are made with a lot of fat. Since a baby’s brain and body may store THC for a long time, women shouldn’t use marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Not all natural substances or plants are safe. Tobacco and poisonous berries are great examples. Because marijuana contains THC, it may harm a baby.PBF Blogger Social Image Passes Through
  • Breathing marijuana smoke can be bad for both mother and baby. Marijuana smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke. Some of these chemicals can cause cancer.

The health of Colorado moms and babies is of the utmost importance to us so wherever you stand on the legalization of retail marijuana, we hope you will follow us on our journey to educate you about marijuana use while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Knowledge is power! To learn more, visit www.GoodtoKnowColorado.com/baby. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.