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Bike to Work Day with goodnessknows and Mile High Mamas

Do you want to add some goodness into your life? Mile High Mamas is partnering with goodnessknows snack squares to celebrate Bike to Work Day on Wednesday, June 22 and we want you to join in the fun–at our ride or on your own!

The Denver metro area boasts 250+ stations for Bike to Work Day that offer free breakfast, water, or a full-on bike party! Whether you’re biking to work or to the park with your kids, biking is such a great way to commute while getting exercise and reducing your carbon footprint. If you live near Arvada, we’d love you to join us for our festivities where we’ll be handing out goodnessknows “Gear Up and Go” bags for our riders (while supplies last), along with oodles of product samples of the ultimate on-the-go bite-sized snacks, goodnessknows snack squares.biketowork

Mile High Mamas Route

What: Bring your kids and enjoy the beautiful Colorado sunshine along the Ralston Creek Trail that will start with a FREE breakfast at the official Bike to Work station at Memorial Park. memorialpark

When: Wednesday, June 22.  Breakfast between 7:30-8 a.m.; we will depart promptly at 8 a.m.goodness1

Where: Meet at Memorial Park, 8001 W. 59th Avenue, Arvada (behind Arvada City Hall). After breakfast, we will bike approximately 3 miles to Oak Park (behind Campbell Elementary). We’ll keep going along Ralston Creek for anyone who is interested or you may turn around and loop back to Memorial Park. 

Why: To have fun and enjoy the outdoors! For our Bike to School Day last month, we invited all our neighborhood friends over for breakfast and we had a blast biking to school together. We hope to recreate these memories to last a lifetime for Bike to Work Day.

No matter your biking experience, goodnessknows is helping people take a small step to go from good to great! And the fun isn’t over once you arrive at your destination.  Bring your Frisbee and try out the Roberts Disc Golf Course at Memorial Park. Careen down one of the steepest (and fastest) slides at the adjacent playground.  Backtrack 0.5-mile and picnic at the new Ralston-Central Park as you race through the spray fountains (5850 Garrison Street). Make a day of it with your friends!

Snack (and Bike) Happy

goodness2Before you head out, don’t forget to bring water, your helmet, sunscreen and pack a nutritious and satisfying on-the-go snack. goodnessknows snack squares are one of my family’s go-to’s. If you’re not familiar with these 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. Each 150-calorie bar is divided into four perfectly portioned squares – allowing you to eat just the amount that’s right for you. Denver was one of goodnessknows’ original test markets and we’ve been fans ever since!

Whether you choose to join us in Arvada or hold your own Bike to Work Day with friends (start your planning here), the Denver area has hundreds of miles of paved recreational trails available to offer a comfortable ride. Just remember to #TryALittleGoodness and we’ll see you out on the trail!

This campaign is sponsored by goodnessknows in Partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

Summer Camp:  Engineering For Kids – Junior Engineering Camps

Technology and Innovation is rapidly increasing and changing our world.    Seriously – did you imagine that you would carry around a Smartphone that holds more technology, memory and computational power than what was used on the first Space Shuttle?   No way.  AND, the truth is, technology and engineering is continuing to develop and will continue to deliver amazing technology beyond our wildest dreams.

engineeringcamp1Now, as parents, we need to figure out how to get our kids to drive and harness that Technology “freight train” and FAST.   While we can only imagine what amazing technologies and innovation our kids will engineer and design in their lifetime, we do know what skill sets will enable them to learn, grow and thrive in the decades to come.  The next generation of innovators and inventors will require creativity, curiosity and a passion for problem solving.  

Lucky for us, our kids already possess many of these skills, we only need to give them opportunities to grow in their ability; to identify themselves as “good at Math”, great builders and problem solvers.   And, its never too young to get a started.

INSPIRED?

Summer is a great time to begin to prepare our little ones for a lifetime of inquiry and innovation.    Visit Engineering For Kids Denver’s website for Junior Engineers Summer Camps where all growing engineers build robotic models, motorized vehicles, motorized boats, learn about science and math – and take on the Engineer’s seat. 

Experienced engineering instructors enable kids to face an engineering challenge with confidence, tools and a plan.  They solve engineering problems, create their own toys to play with, explore Science and Math and – mostly, are proud of themselves – because accomplishing something that was hard to do, on your own, is the best feeling EVER.

Join us as we prepare the next generation of engineers to think critically, build independently and explore.  Engineering for Kids Camps put high-tech toys and tools in the hands of young engineers, ages 5 – 6 to help them gain confidence in themselves and gain skills necessary to be successful engineers.engineeringcamps

Website:

Info:  www.EngineeringForKids.com/Denver

Register:  Parent Portal

Camp Location:

Engineering For Kids

6972 S Vine Street, Suite 353 Centennial, CO

SouthGlenn Shopping Center, next to the Arapahoe Library

Ages:  5 – 6 Jr. Engineers; 7 -9 Apprentice Engineers; 10 – 14 Master Engineers

Camp Days/Times:

Weekly Camps beginning in June – August

Full and Half Day available

Cost:  $199 half day | $399 Full day

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

This Stuffed Burger Recipe Will Change Your Life

I’ve been a longtime fan of Sprouts Farmers Market, a healthy grocery store offering fresh, natural and organic foods at great prices with 30 locations throughout Colorado.  Mile High Mamas is thrilled to be partnering with them to bring you some delicious recipes. 

Hamburgers are an American treasure but that doesn’t meant they can’t be improved upon and what could be better than a nice burger topped with cheese? I’m here to tell you it’s a burger stuffed with cheese. Or bacon. Or veggies. To kick off our campaign, I’ve pulled together a recipe that was inspired by my sister-in-law Jane. Last Father’s Day, she implemented a new tradition: a stuffed burger bar and it was such a huge hit that we’re doing it for Memorial Day

sproutsMy husband and I had a great time at Sprouts shopping for “stuffings” and the choices are endless. You can go gourmet, sophisticated, funky (I’ve seen burgers stuffed with mac ‘n cheese and bacon), international (how about some chutney or caprese?) but we decided to go more classic for our first attempt. Here is what we chose:

  • Sprouts’ Ground Beef Chuck (we bought 85% extra lean; be sure to season with salt and pepper)
  • Grilled onions and peppers
  • Sautéed mushroom (we cooked ours in truffle oil)
  • Pork chorizo sausage – cooked
  • Apples
  • Olde Thyme hickory-smoked bacon (cooked for the stuffing; uncooked for wrapping the burger)
  • Crushed pineapple
  • Cheese – any kind and you top or cap the burger with it. We opted for pepper jack cheese.

And of course, you’ll also need traditional toppings like BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, relish and mayo. 

This is not a fast meal and, depending upon the size of the burger, can take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes to cook on the grill but trust me, you’ll never want to go back to a regular burger. 

Stuffed Bacon Burger Bliss Recipe

I’ve seen stuffed burgers done several ways, the most popular of which involves forming the ground beef into a patty, placing an indent with your thumb in half of the patties, adding your desired fillings to the indentation, topping with another patty and pressing the edges together to form a seal.

My sister-in-law’s opinion is that bigger is better and she wrapped a huge handful of ground beef around the base of a pop can. We downsized our efforts by wrapping our burgers around a plastic cup and then overcompensated by wrapping bacon around the edges. Because you know you want to. 

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From there, we set out all the “stuffings” and let our guests build their own stuffed burger and the combinations were delicious!

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Enter: my husband the grillmaster who set our grill to medium-low. He initially put some aluminum foil on the grill to keep the stuffing from dripping out and cooked it as you would any hamburger. Depending upon the size of your meat, plan between 15-25 minutes. 

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If we’re being honest here, we didn’t even bother with the bun because the burger was so darn delicious, which I’m sure is sacrilegious in some circles but in ours, it was sheer bacon-y, burger-y bliss.

A few stuffed burger ideas:

  • Wild Mushroom and Blue Cheese Stuffed Burger
  • BBQ Gouda Stuffed Burger
  • Steak and Swiss Stuffed Burgers
  • Feta-Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Onion on Sourdough

About Sprouts

 Sprouts offers a complete shopping experience that includes fresh produce, bulk foods, vitamins and supplements, packaged groceries, meat and seafood, baked goods, dairy products, frozen foods, natural body care and household items catering to consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness. For recipe information, follow Sprouts on social media @sproutsfm. In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

How This New Company is Making Interior Design Easy for Busy Moms

Havenly is an online interior design service and home decorating discovery engine that caters to any budget or style, and aims to provide its users with a fun and affordable home design experience. Before starting the design process, users complete a free online style quiz to help identify their style. The company does everything online and you are matched with a personal interior designer – making interior design easy for busy moms.

One of the first things Havenly asks every client before starting a home decorating project is: “What do you dislike about your current space?” It’s a simple question that’s not always simple to answer.

From the basics of function to every nuance of style, identifying and cataloging what we dislike about a poorly-designed space can be a tough process. Then again, some folks are quicker at getting to the bottom of what they don’t like than others.

And that’s a big part of what Havenly does – It helps to make interior design fun and affordable by connecting folks with their ideal designer. After discovering their style preferences and connecting with their designer, it’s simply a matter of fine-tuning their dream space. Their mini package starts at just $79!

It All Starts With A Vision

Living Room Design Rendering

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Designing a living room is one of those moments when knowing what you like and what you dislike come into play. A comfortable living room can mean different things to different people. For instance, moms might favor a large tufted ottoman whereas a bachelor might prefer a metal-framed glass coffee table.

Being able to see your space in a design rendering – like the Havenly renderings pictured above – allow you to see your design within the context of how you intend to use your space. Collaboration and communication is during this stage of the design process.

Nursery Design Rendering

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We hold nurseries to high standards. Right, Moms? They fill so many rolls in our lives. They provide room to grow and a place to bond with family. And when it comes to a parent-to-be’s to-do list, the nursery is often one of the last items to check off.

With Havenly, it’s easy to meet these high expectations – both on time and on budget. And having the chance to review and refine your kiddo’s room before creating the space ensures that you love the final product.

And The Process Pays Off

Once the design process is complete, it’s time to shop!

Every Havenly design experience comes with the luxury of having a personal shopping assistant. Love a particular chair but hate the price tag? Your Havenly shopping assistant will track down another option – and then they’ll order everything for you so you don’t have to waste time entering your information into multiple websites.

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From Disliked To Delighted

How long have you been holding off on that home decorating project? Whether you’re unsure of your budget (Havenly’s got a tool for that!) or are struggling with where to start, it’s never too late to get decorated!

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

Summer Camp: Talk to the Camera

Do you have a child who loves to be in front of or behind the camera or who needs more self-confidence? 

My kids are always making silly home movies with their iPods and their imagination is strong but their skill set isn’t. That’s why I love that Talk to the Camera’s engaging summer camps take it a step further as they encourage students to embrace their on camera personalitiesboost self confidence and become more effective communicators as they create their own news broadcast, talk show or mini-movie.

How’s that for an amazing way to spend a week of their summer?   Courses are being offered all over the Denver Metro Area through Evergreen Parks and Recreation, Highlands Ranch Community Association, Rise Dance Studio in Golden, Marbles Kids Talent Agency in Greenwood Village and Elite Dance Academy in Broomfield and Boulder.

Here is a sampling of the programs being offered: 

Summer Camps

Lights, Camera, Action & FUN! Want to shine as you report a news story, star in a Talk Show or make your own movie?  Use your natural talents and 21st century technology to flaunt on (and off) camera personalities as you reinforce a positive self image, poise and social skills. Get on Camera in …….3-2-1 ACTION! Talk to the Camera’s week long summer camp cost $240 for ages 6-13.

TALK TO THE CAMERA – NEWS BROADCAST (This is the entry level course, but not a requirement to take other courses)

Do you want to experience the excitement of reporting a hot news story? Through lively interviews, amusing commercials and empowering games, kids will create their own news broadcast! Weather, sports or entertainment? You get to choose what you report and are guaranteed to have a blast!

TALK TO THE CAMERA – TALK SHOW

In this one-of-a-kind camp, students create AND star in their own Talk Show. You will design the characters, skits, and reap the rewards of being STARS of the show! Your performance is sure to brighten your audience’s day – the Talk Show way!

TALK TO THE CAMERA – MINI-MOVIE

3-2-1 ACTION!! Want to make a movie? Are you ready to be the writer, director AND movie star! It begins with a great idea, a written script, a cast of characters, a filming session, then “That’s a wrap!”

*All news broadcasts, talk shows and movies will be edited and sent to families shortly after the session.  

TALK TO THE CAMERA from Audrey Walters on Vimeo.

Behind-the-Scenes

Talk to the Camera co-founders Audrey Walters and Jenny Gilbert met when their children were in preschool. They soon discovered a shared passion for helping kids and young adults develop lifelong social communication skills in a world filled with video games, cell phones and laptops. Audrey is a experienced SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) Actor who has been seen on national broadcast television shows. She’s also a former TV host and news reporter who today coaches at Marbles Kids Talent in Denver, Colorado and is co-founder of Talk To The Camera. Jenny Gilbert is a certified coach at the Buckley School of Public Speaking and has been a public educator and speaker for more than 10 years having worked in the private and corporate sector. She also holds a Masters Degree in education and is co-founder of Talk To The Camera.

Together, Audrey and Jenny empower youth in a variety of dynamic ways using camera work as a powerful communication tool. Kids learn to become more effective communicators in a uniquely positive learning community at Talk To The Camera.

A Denver mom raved, “Our son looked forward to class every week because of the amazing activities and the way in which he could use his imagination. The instructors made it easy for him to reach outside his comfort zone and create an environment that was creative and exciting. He learned so much and had a great time doing it- that’s the best combination a parent could ask for!” 

What they provide:

Camera, microphones, paper and pens, television monitor, snack and fun!

Kids only need:

Personality, a smile and your imagination! 

What your kids will go home with:

A link to a edited class video will be shared shortly after the end of the session.

What skills your kids will learn:

Poise, eye contact, social communication skills, a positive self image, critical thinking, team work, working with technology, active listening and more.

talk1Contact

Audrey Walters + Jenny Gilbert

info@talktothecamera.com   | 720.217.9551 |  talktothecamera.com | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/talktothecameraDenver

In partnership with Mile High Mamas. 

Deal

Talk to the Camera is offering 10% off (a $24 savings) if you register by June 1st.

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a free week of camp at any of their 6 locations. The summer camp is for one week and a $240 value.  You may enter as many as five times!

Your Name (required)

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Mother’s Day Grand Prize Giveaway ($1,700+ value)

It’s that one time of the year, it might be an entire day, or just a short 30-minute period in the morning that the family honors US! I always like to make this holiday a little bit sweeter with some awesome prizes. Here’s what we have in store for Mother’s Day 2016 in Colorado for you mamas. Please read through our incredible companies that we have partnered with to provide prizes: Bako Bags, Flower Bombers, Savvy Seconds, Hilary Silver International and Quick Zip. For additional entries, you need to like each of these companies on Facebook. We will be pulling a winner for each prize, so you may enter for one, or all of them. We were WILDLY quick with our shipments for Valentine’s Day – and we promise to deliver again. ENJOY MAMAS! 

P.S. Be sure to go here to enter to win our other Mother’s Day contest where you and your mom hero can win a spa day at Allure Skincare and Lash, True Bliss Massage AND Rooted in Tradition Acupuncture.

Bako Bags

Báko, pronounced Bah-co, is an importing company specializing in handmade bags, with a focus on items made by women and women’s co-ops from around the world.

Bako focuses on women helping women by providing a market for selling high quality, unique, handmade bags. Behind each product is a story, behind each woman artisan is a story that Báko wants to share. Báko also works to develop partnerships with the communities that produce the bags. Through our Give Back Program, a portion of Báko profits are used to reinvest into the lives or the artisans and the communities where the bags originate from.

Bako Bags will be giving away their best seller tote as well organizer, valued at $78.00. Visit BakoBags.com and facebook.com/BakoBags to learn more about this incredible company!bag

Flower Bombers

Be a Flower Bombin’ Mama!  A refreshing approach to online flower delivery.

Flower Bombers business model was designed by busy mama’s with the busy person in mind.  The online purchase offers beautiful flowers that are designed for today’s flower lover.  The transaction will be simple to process from your mobile phone or any device and boom, gorgeous blooms will be hand delivered, the same day if you like. 

Obsessively curated flowers.  Hand delivered for FREE.  Same day.  Denver Metro Area.

Contest: You’ll receive 4 free flower bombs delivered in the Denver Metro Area by the end of the year at no cost to you.   Brighten someone’s day or flower bomb yourself!  Experience the difference.   Please check our site for current delivery zip codes and to see who else was flower bombed recently: www.flowerbombers.com and Facebook.com/flowerbombers. ($320 value)

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Hilary Silver International Inc.

Hilary Silver International Inc, is a boutique counseling and coaching practice providing the very best in individual and couples therapy and coaching. Hilary Silver International works with clients both locally in the Denver metro area and around the world via Skype. 

Hilary is also the creator of the lifestyle brand and online program, Hot, Healthy, & Happily Ever After, a 7 step system to a loving relationship for the long term and the online program Keeping Love Alive After Kids Arrive!

Enter to win a FREE Hot, Healthy, & Happily Ever After program registration (Value: $500). Hot, Healthy & Happily Ever After is Hilary’s Signature Program that will walk you through everything you need to create and keep a lasting loving relationship for the long term. This 7 step system is Hilary’s exclusive and proprietary method for navigating issues like trust, intimacy, conflict and sex and includes concepts and strategies as well as concrete actionable steps to start using immediately in your relationship. All you have to do is “Like” Hilary Silver on Facebook and fill out the info below. HilarySilver.com and Facebook.com/AskHilarySilver.relationship

Savvy Seconds Mama’s Package

The largest consignment event for women in Denver.  You can expect a huge selection of new and gently worn brand name, boutique and designer clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories from petite to plus sizes, including maternity.  

Hart Couture Styling Services and Closet  are sure ways to enhance your personal look.  You will meet with Sarah Hart at your home to go through your closet.  She will then meet you at the event to shop for some new pieces for your wardrobe.  

One lucky winner will enjoy the following:

  • $100 towards clothing, shoes and accessories at a shopping event
  • Closet Edit with Hart Couture ($150 value)
  • Personal Shopping at event with stylist ($125 value)
  • Mini Makeover-Haircut and Style ($75 value)

Visit SavvySecondssale.com and Facebook.com/Savvysecondsconsignment to learn more about the company!clothes

QuickZip

Do you hate changing your baby’s crib sheet? Do you hate changing your fitted sheet on your bunk beds? Do you hate folding your fitted sheet?  QuickZip ends the struggle with the fitted sheet.  It’s a patented, award-winning, two-piece fitted sheet with a base that stays on the mattress and a sheet that zips off and on in seconds.  QuickZip is quick to change, easy to fold and stays put on the mattress.  Your days of lifting heavy mattresses and stretching tight elastic corners are over.

Giveaway:

We’re giving away $400 worth of QuickZip products.  Cover all of your mattresses with QuickZip.  Choose any Basic or Premium Starter Pack in any size: Crib to California King. Info on Quick Zip at quickzipsheet.com and facebook.com/quickzipsheets.

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Contest

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Mile High Mamas is giving away each of these wonderful items in our giveaway, valued at over $1,700!  Enter to win one or win them all.  One entry per person. Note: if you “like” the company’s Facebook page, you may enter as many as five times but must fill out each entry form separately. 

Your Name* (required)

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Street Address:*

City:*

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Zip:*

Please name the item(s) you would like to win for this giveaway. One entry per person. You may enter to win each item up to five times if you "like" the company's Facebook page but must fill out each form separately.

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And be sure to check out another contest happening at the Westin River Front in Avon, Colorado! They have currently laucnhed the Tell Us About Your Special Mom contest, where friends and family can nominate their amazing mom by sharing her story. One lucky mom will win the chance to enjoy *An overnight stay at The Westin Riverfront on Saturday, May 7, 2016. *Breakfast in bed on Sunday, May 8, 2016. *A relaxing 50-minute Spa Anjali Massage or Facial. *One AIReal Yoga™ class. *An incredible gift basket. To enter, simply submit an essay of 300 words or less to info@spaanjali.com from April 1st – 25th. The winner will be selected by The Westin Riverfront’s Executive Committee and will be announced on April 27, 2016.

Contest: Share your ‘mom hero’ and win a spa day for two! ($500 value!)

Moms come in many shapes and sizes. They’re foster moms, step-moms, adopted moms, grand-moms, teacher-moms and moms who look out for your child’s welfare. This Mother’s Day, we want to celebrate our Hero Moms. Do you have someone who has inspired you to be a better mother? Someone who is going through a lot of tough times but still gives her all? Someone making a difference in her home, school or community? We’re certainly not looking for the perfect mom (because none of us are) but we’d love to hear about it! We’ll share some of our favorite entries around Mother’s Day.  For the Grand Prize, we’ll send you BOTH to Allure Skincare and Lash, True Bliss Massage AND Rooted in Tradition Acupuncture.

The Prize

allureUltimate Facial
The one-hour Ultimate Facial includes a deep cleansing, customized mask with steam and a hand and arm massage, extractions, face and decollate massage, nourishing mask with a scalp massage, and moisturizers. Allure Skincare & Lash has relocated to a 3000 square-foot treatment oasis in a 1940s-era Victorian home. The new location at 420 Downing Street boasts more space and a lineup of new services in addition to the loyalist-winning skincare and lash services that Allure clients know and new product lines, from Glo Skincare to FarmHouse Fresh, as well as Rhonda Allison, Sanitas, Grande Lash & Brow, and Hydrafacial.
 
True Bliss Massage & Reiki
 
A ninety minute specialty massage based on your concerns and complete relaxation.
 
Rooted in Tradition Acupuncture
 
Acupuncture is a safe, natural and powerful way to treat the body, mind and spirit.  It is one of the oldest therapies known to the healing arts. It works as a holistic approach in boosting the body’s own fundamental healing response to once again establish homeostasis. Along with acupuncture, which includes the insertion of hair-thin, sterile needles into acupuncture points, I also use modalities such as cupping, moxabustion (heat therapy), tuina (bodywork), and nutritional counseling.  Treatments are always tailored to the needs of the individual patient and my goal is to educate and empower patients to take charge of their own health. Acupuncture should not be looked at as a quick fix, however you may experience symptom relief right away. The cumulative effect of regular treatment is the most powerful.

Contest Closed

 

Important tips for keeping kids safe in the laundry room

This post is in partnership with Tide.

Last month I shared my Nearly-Blinded-By-Bleach story  when, as a tired mom of a newborn, I had an encounter with an unsecured bottle of bleach…and lost.

This is one of the many reasons why Tide’s new advertising campaign resonates so deeply with me. It is dedicated to keeping children safe and making parents aware of potential dangers in the home.

It only takes a second for an everyday item to become dangerous.  Keep these products out of the reach of children. Remember: Keep Them Up, Keep Them Closed, Keep Them Safe.

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When my kiddos were born, I wasn’t prepared that part of exploring their new world also meant putting everything in their mouths. What I didn’t know is that “mouthing” is absolutely normal, even beneficial, in a child’s development (my kids were mouthing prodigies). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the developmental milestones for small children is precisely to explore the world around them through their hands and mouth. 

While you shouldn’t try to get your little one to stop mouthing, you instead just need to be aware and on guard. Most of us do a pretty good job with childproofing our homes but often neglect the laundry room and simply opt to keep the door closed.  We need to do more! Just like any other household cleaning product, laundry pacs need to be handled with great care to prevent unintended exposure. To keep kids safe from preventable injuries, P&G partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide, The American Cleaning Institute, and The American Academy of Pediatrics. Together P&G and these groups have raised awareness and educate families about how to prevent injuries related to children and laundry pacs across the country.

A few other considerations:

*Keep these products out of the reach of children between every load.

*After each use, close the container completely and immediately put products away in their appropriate storage location.

*Use a cabinet safety latch as an added security measure to ensure products are not accessible.

*Adults should follow the instructions on the product label.

If your child does put one of these packets in his mouth or gets any in his eye, call the Poison Control Center  at 1-800-222-1222.  For additional information on laundry safety, please visit the AAP’s HealthyChildren.org or SafeKids.org.

A (loving) parent’s (hilarious) guide to embarrassing your children

In the kids’ younger years, they had no frame of reference regarding just how uproarious and embarrassing I really am. Now at ages 9 and 11, those days are over. I suppose I could be The Good Mom and dial it back a little but since I like to have fun, why not have a bit of enjoyment at my children’s expense?

When I purged my entire house in January, I stuffed everything in garbage bags but have recently been on an obsessive quest for boxes for my blow-out garage sale next month.  There are three options:

1) Buy new. The challenge: I’m too cheap and who wants to waste money on an inanimate object made of cardboard?

2) Stalk Craigslist. We buy quite a few things off Craigslist but I try to avoid it whenever possible. Sure, there are plenty of free boxes posted but they’re rarely in my area and who wants to risk being stuffed in your newly acquired box by a serial killer?

3) Pillage the neighborhood. Trust me, pirates never had this much fun.

Wednesday has become my favorite day of the week because it’s our garage day; recycling is every two weeks and equal unto Disneyland!

Now, lest you think I’m rummaging through my neighbors’ garbage, that’s only partially true. I do have standards, you know. I only take boxes that are either placed beside the trash or sitting on top of the pile. As I’ve earned my PhD. in Box Retrieval, I’ve quickly learned that not all boxes are created equally. Amazon shopping addicts? You are my best friends because those are extremely sturdy and are rarely soiled because they’re dumped directly in the trash. Jumbo diaper  boxes are optimal and I’ve discovered a lot of heavy drinkers in our neighborhood but no judgments because, again, excellent box choices.

I was leaving on my weekly pillage route a couple of weeks ago when my kids looked at me exasperatingly. 

Hadley: “Mom, tell me that you don’t go through our friends’ garages, right?”

Me: “Of course I do, darling. Should I wear my onion goggles so no one recognizes me?”

Hadley: “I won’t answer that.”

If you’re wondering about my goggles, they are my lifesaver whenever I’m chopping onions and n’er a tear has entered my ducts when protected by those babies.

As I was reviewing my picture library, I found some doozies. Did you know onion goggles are beautifully adaptable as dodgeball protective eyewear?

Apparently I have a bit of problem because I found a sordid assortment of eyewear–from pumpkin-themed to mustaches to Vikings.

After receiving the stamp of disapproval for going incognito in my onion goggles, I set out before school. It was a stressful–I was literally one step ahead of the recycling truck but I emerged triumphant with an impressive haul.

The kids had already left our house but I couldn’t resist pulling  up to the bus stop with my SUV literally bursting at the seams with boxes. When they saw me, they tried to run for cover but I innocently beckoned:

“Hadley, do you and your friends want a ride in my BOX CAR?”

She might never recover from the embarrassment. But I will. And can’t wait until next Wednesday.

Boulder Mom’s New Sitter App Radically Simplifies How to Book, Pay and Find Trusted Babysitters

We’ve all been there. Parents want to go out on a date. Parents text babysitter. Don’t hear back. Parents text another babysitter. Radio silence. Date night turns into take-out with the kids.

I recently sat down with Boulder mama of two boys Kristen Stiles who developed the ultimate solution to your babysitting woes: The Sitter App. There are plenty of apps on the market that help you tap into professional childcare but this is the only one that works with your existing network of babysitters and gets results…fast. Since the Sitter App’s launch last summer, it has thousands of users across the nation and bonus: it’s completely free!

sitter2The Background

Kristen’s husband is constantly on the road so anytime she needed a babysitter for her own work events or a last-minute date, she was frustrated with the laborious process. Her background in tech as a  developer at Hewlett Packard led her to think “there’s got to be an app for managing my babysitters” but there wasn’t. So she built one herself.

How It Works

After downloading the Sitter App, the first step is to add the contact information for your own sitters, which is completely private. Then, when you are in need of a babysitter, select the date, time, hit “send” and the request gets sent as a text message to all your sitters at once. The first to respond gets the job. Once the position is filled, a friendly text message is sent to the other sitters to inform them.

“The amazing thing is that response times are super fast because it has created a game among the babysitters and our record is 13 seconds response time,” says Kristen.

Why not just send a group text?  “Though the app, it streamlines the whole process–just one tap and you’re done. You don’t have to write out texts and go back and forth which you do even in a group text situation. sitter1The app sends reminders to you and the babysitter of an upcoming appointment.  You can use the app to keep track of the time you’re out and have it do the math for you at the end of the night, even if you pay cash. Group texts can’t do that, plus they often create socially awkward situations.”

It gets better. If you don’t receive a response from your pool of babysitters, you can create a network with your friends. “I don’t feel comfortable having a random stranger babysit my kids but I do trust my friends’ babysitter recommendations.” Kristen says there is an option on the app to network with your friends. “If I have three sitters and my friend has three sitters, that means we have six sitters between us. I always start with my favorites but if needs be, I’ll branch out to whoever is available  from my friends’ networks.”

Kristen now has a pool of 58 possible babysitters.

What is the going rate for babysitters?

Of course, the amount you pay your babysitters is up to your discretion. In Colorado, the average hourly rate is $11 for the first child and an additional $3 per hour for each additional child. Kristen says that may sound like a lot but it is inexpensive compared to many East coast markets that average about $25/hour.

The Solution to the Cash Dilemma

In a world of credit and debit cards, many of us seldom have enough cash to cover the cost of a babysitter and often end up scrambling to find an ATM.

The Sitter App saves the rate you pay each sitter and also has a built-in timer to track the time you’re gone.   It even lets you add a tip or reimburse them for pizza. The app gives you the option to charge your credit card and directly deposit the money into the babysitter’s bank account or Venmo  account, which is similar to PayPal and is frequently used among babysitters nationwide. Register using the promo code MHMAMA and they’ll waive your service fees when you pay your babysitter with the app.

Colorado Mom Rave Review

“Easy. Seamless. Communicates for me. Boom. It takes my contacts that are already in my phone and connects them to a system that keeps track of my request. I can also share my sitter list with my friends! I seriously can click a few buttons and the mom megaphone blasts my sitters (whom I choose) and first one who responds wins a chance to be with my littles. Not sure who’s winning though? We all are!!”

-Heidi H. Broomfield, CO

The Best Unexpected Perk of the Sitter App

Dads LOVE It.  Kristen says, “My husband had never booked a babysitter in his life and didn’t even know their names.  With the app, he’s connected to my private circle of friends and babysitters.  Now when he wants to take me out, he can plan a date night without me knowing about it, from start to finish.

Dads: please take note and plan accordingly.