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Vela Adventures’ Fantastic Summer Day Camps…for Moms!

Confession: I was absolutely thrilled to send both my kids to overnight camp at YMCA of the Rockies’ Camp Chief Ouray this week…until I woke up in a funk the morning after dropping them off. While they were having the time of their lives, I literally stayed in my bathrobe all day and worked from my bed. My husband brought me breakfast, lunch and we ordered in for dinner.

It’s gonna be ugly when they leave for college.

 Fortunately, I had an outing scheduled the next day with Vela Adventures’ Camp Vela which catapulted me out of my gloom into a world of sunshine, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), lakeside yoga, gourmet food and new friendships! Why should children get to have all the fun?

Last summer, Vela Adventures’ co-founder Heather Fleck registered her kids for Avid4Adventure’s camps. “They were going rock climbing, mountain biking and kayaking,” said Heather. “I was happy for them but I wanted to go, too!”

Thus Vela Adventures was borne. Heather teamed up with Kelly Kocher and together they run these all-inclusive Denver- and Boulder-area adventures that empower women to try new things by getting out of their comfort zone. The adventures are planned between 9 a.m.-2 p.m.ish–perfect for moms while their kids are at summer camp or during the school year.

Every adventure makes you feel like a VIP and for once, you don’t need to do a stitch of the planning. From a horseback riding and spa party to whitewater rafting and wine tasting, Heather and Kelly make sure every detail is perfect.

velaadventuresI signed up for the stand-up paddleboard, yoga and beach party. A few days before the event, I was emailed a form where I submitted my juice/coffee choices for breakfast and lunch options. Upon arriving at Chatfield State Park, they had already paid for everyone’s entrance fees and we met with our certified SUP professional Effie who showed us the ropes. Or rather, the boards, paddles and strokes.

It was my fourth time on a SUP but the first time I’d received actual instruction. Buoyed up with confidence, I sailed across the lake as I drafted off the sultry breeze. With the light wind came the rhythmic wash of white caps, which had caused panic in the past but I quickly learned to smoothly navigate these luminous blooms. All the ladies quickly bonded in the supportive, non-competitive setting and when we eventually paddled back to shore, we were greeted with healthy snacks, cold drinks, towels and sunscreen.

Next it was onto a relaxing Hatha Yoga session. Full disclosure: I do not like yoga, nor do I find it relaxing. But between our soothing instructor Bonnie, the staggering mountain backdrop and our lakeside setting under a cottonwood tree that traced lacy patterns in the sky, I didn’t think of dying even once. For a previous yoga hater, that my friends, is progress. I even echoed her “Namaste” at the end and almost believed it.

lunchPerhaps what I appreciated the most about my Camp Vela experience was their attention to details. The water bottles and fresh towels on our yoga mats. The gourmet boxed lunches from Whole Foods, the fresh flower centerpieces and the logo-monogrammed linen napkins and tablecloth. The champagne toast and thank-you cards as we were leaving. And not to be forgotten was our very own ice cream truck with out-of-this-world flavors from Coaches Scoop Frozen Dessert.

Vela Adventures ain’t your children’s summer camp. Nor would you want it to be.

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Camp Vela will be in Boulder July 15 – July 18, 2014. You may purchase single-day outings or the entire four-day week package for a $40 discount.
 
Tues., July 15, Longmont
Standup Paddleboard/Yoga/Beach Party
 
Wed., July 16, Boulder
Whitewater Tubing & Beer Tasting
 
Thurs., July 17, Boulder
Mountain Biking & Painting
 
Fri., July 18, Longmont
Outdoor Archery & Spa Party
 
To learn more and reserve your spot go to http://www.velaadventures.com/camp-vela.html.

Somewhere–A Mother’s Day Tribute to Moms Everywhere

Somewhere someone has just found out she is going to become a mother.
Somewhere someone has found out she won’t.
Somewhere a mother is crying for the loss of a pregnancy.
Somewhere a mother isn’t ready to be a mother.
Somewhere a mother is giving birth.
Somewhere a mother is sleep deprived.
Somewhere a mother is staring into the eyes of a newborn.
Somewhere a mother is picking cheerios up off the floor.
Somewhere a mother is making sacrifices.
Somewhere a mother is watching her baby learn to walk.
Somewhere a mother is gently cleaning a booboo and covering it with a band aid.
Somewhere a mother is rocking a sick child.
Somewhere a mother is finding out she has cancer.
Somewhere a mother is dying.
Somewhere a mother is caring for her own mother.
Somewhere a mother is ready to give up.
Somewhere a mother is

How Denver moms have made a big impact at the Colorado legislature

n January, a group of moms delivered apple pies at the Capitol when they lobbied lawmakers to delay education testing standards.

The next month it was moms, a number pushing strollers, who opposed a bill allowing teachers and school staffers to carry concealed weapons.

In the last week of February, a group of moms stood by and watched as Gov. John Hickenlooper touted tough air quality rules that had just been adopted.

If there’s a theme of the 2014 Colorado General Assembly, surely it’s moms.

Cheri Kiesecker of Fort Collins, who had previously visited the Capitol only to chaperone a class of students, showed up this year to lobby on behalf of a bill that delayed statewide tests for Common Core, the widely adopted national math and language arts standards. She was one of the moms who brought pies.

“We are not politicians. We don’t know how this all works,” she said. “The pies started off as a suggestion, like mom and apple pie, and we decided, ‘Why not bake them pies? Maybe if they saw we really are moms, they would take us seriously.’ ”

Mothers in politics is nothing new — the group that became Mothers Against Drunk Driving was formed in 1980.

But Chris Arend, spokesman for Conservation Colorado, said he “absolutely” sees the mom message being used this year more than in the past.

“I think both sides see the value of this, not just issue-wise but politically, too,” he said. “Politicians really see the importance of Mom, as they should. Moms have a huge role in our society. They’re our caretakers, right?”

They’re also voters, who can determine the outcome in a close election. That’s what happened in 2010 when Republican Ken Buck narrowly lost to Democrat Michael Bennet in a U.S. Senate contest the GOP thought it would win.

Newsweek in 1996 ran a cover story on soccer moms, an emerging group of sought-after voters. Other national outlets also used the term, noting it was first coined by Denver City Council candidate Susan Casey when she ran for office the year before. “A soccer mom for City Council,” was her slogan.

“Mine wasn’t about identifying a constituency or a swing vote,” Casey said then. “I was just trying to introduce myself to people.”

Political consultant Eric Sondermann of Denver, when asked in 1996 about the new term, described soccer moms as mostly suburban women who felt pulled between career and family demands.

“And unlike the Angry White Male, these are people who are not leery of government,” he said, at the time.

The mom theme is still popular both in politics and pop culture, Sondermann said in a recent interview. He pointed to the Winter Olympics and its popular Procter & Gamble’s ads. “Proud sponsor of Moms” was the message of the spots that focused on the athletes and their mothers.

And Sondermann said he sees conservative groups now emphasizing moms more.

” I think it’s to soften their message so it’s not the harsh edge that has become equated with conservatives,” he said.

At the Capitol, Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins called her bill to delay tests for Common Core the “Colorado Moms Bill.” Although she’s a conservative Republican, she had bipartisan support for her measure.

“On this issue, moms don’t care about party,” Marble said. “They care about fixing the problem.”

Senate Bill 136 died on a party-line vote in the Senate Education Committee, where Kiesecker, a Democrat, was present.

“It was eye-opening,” Kiesecker said. “Moms in the audience were crying. Democrats on the committee were crying. Democrats said there was too much testing, but they voted against the bill. I didn’t understand it.

“I guess that was my naive mom perspective.”

On another mom front, the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense this year has celebrated the defeat of several GOP firearms measures, including a bill that would have authorized school employees to carry concealed guns in elementary and secondary schools.

Members held what they called a “stroller jam,” with moms, dads and grandparents lining the halls of the Capitol with strollers filled with children.

“This was a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, and the kids had all made valentines for legislators that read ‘Books, not guns,’ things like that,” said Jennifer Hope, leader of the Colorado chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense.

The group was in its infancy stages last year when hundreds of anti-gun control activists descended on the Capitol to protest new gun laws under consideration. Among them: Linda Elliott, the state coordinator of Moms Against Gun Control.

“There is this stigma that women shouldn’t have guns. They should leave it up to the men,” Elliott said. “But God gave me two kids and I believe it’s my job as a mom to protect them.”

Hope said membership in Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense has soared since last year, and the group has had a presence this year at the Capitol.

“We get information about these bills when we need moms’ help,” she said.

Another group, Colorado Moms Know Best, was at the Capitol last month when Hickenlooper praised rules adopted by the Air Quality Control Commission, a citizen board that he appoints. With the new rules, the governor said, Colorado will be tougher on air pollution from the oil and gas industry than any other state.

Oil and gas and environmental groups worked on the rules.

Colorado Moms Knows Best formed last fall amid fears pollution rules would be weakened, said Jaimie Travis, who is referred to in news releases as the “head mom” for the group. At that time, members delivered to the governor’s office 18 “gas patch kids” — Cabbage Patch dolls that represented kids impacted by oil and gas development.

“The bottom line is that moms were counting on Gov. Hickenlooper to protect the health of our kids,” Travis said. “As the governor said, it’s not 100 percent what everybody wanted, but it’s the best and strongest air quality rules in the country,

“We felt we moms really made a serious impact. It’s something to be proud of.”

Lynn Bartels

 

Mom on the move: Relocating with baby from England to Denver

After ten amazing years living in London, I recently moved with my husband and baby daughter to the suburbs of Denver. My husband and I have always had this dream to move to America. We moved from London to Denver in September 2013 when little Maya was six months old.

When you have lived in a certain place for over a decade and then you move somewhere new there would inevitably be a cultural shock when faced with the social and physical differences between one place and the other, especially if there is a baby involved.

The first thing that hit me hard when we arrived in Denver was distance. Walking around is not as easy and common as it is in an urban environment like London. Basically here you need a car. Without one you can’t even go to the shop to get necessary baby essentials. I am used to having all necessities I need for my baby within a walking distance. Having to adjust to a car lifestyle was a big pain to say the least.

But although walking around with a baby in Denver is not as comfortable as it is in London, general everyday life is much more affordable and easy here then it is over there. You’d be hard-pressed to find a flat in London the size of the flat we currently live in, unless you are prepared to pay a fortune for the rent. Not to mention so well equipped with technology that makes baby care chores much more pleasant.

Another thing that I love about Colorado is the big outdoors! I am a big advocate that kids should spend as much time as possible outside. Colorado is a place where I believe a kid will have much more opportunities to explore nature and do hiking, mounting biking or camping than if living in London. When you live in a big city it is easy to get absorbed into the city life and rarely think about spending time among nature.

But there is something about life in England that I terribly miss. And that is their immaculate National Health Service. When you have a little baby to take care of, access to affordable health care is crucial! In England whatever health issue might come your way, you know  your child is covered and you won’t face skyrocketing medical bills. This has been the most frustrating thing I had to deal with since moving to America.

For quite a while since we arrived here I was nostalgic about London and I was concerned what I am taking away from my little girl not giving her the chance to grow up there. For the time I had spent in that city I have had the opportunity to experience things that would be impossible in a smaller town like Denver. I’ve seen famous actors live at theatre performances, I’ve seen original paintings by artists like Botticelli and Ruben, I’ve watched the Royal Ballet and listened to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform at the Royal Albert Hall, the most beautiful of venues.

 London is a place full of arts, culture, history, fashion. Denver is a lot less exciting than that. However, in a city as big as London it is very easy to feel small. So I am hoping that with our decision to move across continents we would be able to bring up a child with values that would appreciate the small and simple things in life.

Guest blogger Stela currently lives in Denver with her husband and their daughter Maya. She works in digital marketing and SEO and writes her blog Prettily, where she talks about all sorts of ladies’ stuff like crafts, fashion, beauty, cooking to name a few, as well as her life as a mum. Are you moving to Denver? Don’t miss Moving to Denver: Cost of Living and Relocation Tips

Family Events: Golden’s Candelight Walk, Blossoms of Light & Zoo Lights!

Warm to the Glow of Blossoms of Light. Nightly, Nov. 29, 2013 through Jan. 1, 2014, 5:30-9:30 p.m. More than one million colorful lights are on display at Denver Botanic Gardens and Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield throughout the holiday season. At York Street, seasonal entertainment is presented on select evenings. A synchronized holiday light and music showcase illuminates the UMB Bank Amphitheater, and themed gardens enhance the experience. At Chatfield, twinkling lights illuminate a variety of paths throughout Colorado’s countryside; a shorter route takes visitors directly to the children’s play area, while an extended path allows visitors to explore the Green Farm barn and silo before continuing to the children’s area and homestead. Also featured: seasonal entertainment and hayrides are available on select evenings; synchronized music and light showcases; illuminated antique and model tractors and a warming hut and fire pit. Warm drinks, treats and HoloSpex 3-D glasses are available for purchase at both locations. $10-12, $8-10 member; $7-9 child, $5-7 member child (depending on date); children two and under free.

Olde Golden Christmas. November 30, 2013 – January 1, 2014. Experience small town, authentic holiday charm at Olde Golden Christmas in festive downtown Golden. A month long magical celebration featuring Victorian carolers, live reindeer, free horse drawn carriage rides, a dazzling lights display, barbershop quartets, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides and plenty of free family fun. Don’t miss Golden’s awe-inspiring Candlelight Walk on December 6th and lively Olde Golden Christmas parades on Saturdays from November 30 – December 21. Where else can you find Santa driving a motorcycle, the Grinch in a corvette and real cowboys astride their horses. For more information, check out visitgolden.com or call 303-279-3113.

Denver Zoo Lights. Humans aren’t the only species that get to decorate their lawns this holiday season. From Dec. 6-Jan. 5, take a stroll through Denver Zoo’s Zoo Lights’ 38 brilliantly-illuminated acres of lights and more than 150 animated animal sculptures. And don’t miss their month-long Festival of Lanterns taking place in Toyota Elephant Passage. It’s the perfect way to light up your holiday spirit. 5:30-9 p.m. http://denverzoo.org

Experience a Holiday Classic at the Denver Center for Performing Arts – A Christmas Carol. November 29-December 29. Denver’s holiday tradition returns! Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season and is a beloved tradition for many families.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Do you love this Christmas classic as much as my husband does? I recently surprised him with a date night to see this  story brought to life as a 1940’s radio broadcast at Miner’s Alley Playhouse in Golden. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the movie but fell in love with the charming and hilarious cast who made us laugh ’til we cried and ignited an appreciation for idealistic George Bailey as he received divine intervention one Christmas Eve. This 130-seat theater was quaint, the acting superb and the audience interaction was fun (have you ever been playfully given Jelly Bellies by the actors prior to a show?) Go early and join the cast for holiday songs and Christmas stories.  Now through December 22 with performances every Friday and Saturday at 7:30.p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday performances on December 5, 12  and 19 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets $23, $20 Senior/Youth, $12 Children 12 and under. minersalley.com. Make an evening of it and be sure to go to dinner prior to the show. Downtown Golden has some of our favorite dining options and we tried the new Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar with outstanding service, food, spirits and ambiance  in Golden’s Gateway Station. I’m still salivating over my Filet Oaxaca, a Black Angus filet mignon served with manchego potato puree, grilled vegetables, blackened shrimp and mango mole sauce.

Denver Christkindle Market. This German Christmas market again brings the sights, sounds and flavors of the holiday season with its music, food, holiday lights and old-world vendors to Skyline Park, right across from the Daniels & Fisher Clock Tower on the 16th Street Mall. The even Nov. 22-Dec. 22 is open to the public and provides an authentic atmosphere of the German holiday season, reminiscent of the times families spend at the Christmas Markets throughout Europe. Free admission/ hours vary. 1825 Arapahoe Street, Denver. http://denverchristkindlmarket.com/

WinterSkate at Twenty Ninth Street. Want to glide into the holidays? Nov. 8-Jan. 31, 2014, skate in this festive atmosphere surrounded by restaurants and shopping on Twenty Ninth Street Mall in Boulder. Hours and prices vary so be sure to check their website. http://www.bceproductions.com/winterskate/

Living West at the History Colorado Center. Opening Nov. 23, Explore Colorado’s history in the new experiential exhibit, Living West at the History Colorado Center. The Living West exhibit tells three stories: about people in the Mesa Verde region 800 years ago, about farmers in the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, and about our relationship to our mountains and our environment today. This is an experiential exhibit with hands-on activities for children to help them understand Colorado’s history. It includes a theater that simulates a 1930s dust storm, a paint-a-pot and yucca weaving activity, as well as a station to measure how many inches of water we get from our alpine snowpack (more interactive activities available upon request). Zebulon Pika takes kids through the activities and shares fun, interesting facts about life in the West. From Nov. 23-Feb. 28, kids ages 6-12 gain a free admittance when they participate in this at-home craft and wear it to the Museum (children ages 5 and under get in free with an adult).

The Heritage Square Music Hall Children’s Theatre presents “Santa Needs A Holiday.” Santa Claus is bummed out! It’s Christmas and Santa is not his jolly old self.  He thinks that nobody needs him anymore, and decides to cancel the holiday festivities. So Mrs. Claus, with the help of the elves and the children in the audience, show Santa how very much we all need him to make it a very merry Christmas after all. After 25 years, The Music Hall is well into its final season; their inal performance will be December 31, 2013.  “Santa Needs A Holiday” runs November 16 through December 28, 2013 with performances every Saturday at 1:30 PM (3:00 PM shows added November 30th). Tickets: $8 for children and adults, $7 for seniors (62 and up). www.hsmusichall.com

Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s MythBusters. The Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated series comes to life to uncover truths behind popular myths by mixing scientific method with gleeful curiosity and old-fashioned ingenuity in MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  The exhibition creates hands-on, interactive experiences for guests of all ages by combining popular scientific facts with innovative, family-friendly displays. On the TV show MythBusters, co-hosts Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Grant Imahara take scientific investigation to exciting new levels by proving or exploding myths using their highly experimental approach and extensive backgrounds in special effects. Tickets are available at www.dmns.org/mythbusters. General visitors pay $22 adult, $16 junior/student (ages 3–18 or with a student ID), and $18 senior (age 65+). Ticket includes admission to both the exhibition and the museum. Timed tickets will be required and advance reservations are strongly encouraged; the exhibit ends on January 5, 2014 so don’t delay!

Take a Spin on the Ice – for FREE – at the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park. November 30, 2013-February 17, 2014. Skyline Park is the place to be this holiday season! Southwest Airlines and the Downtown Denver Partnership invite you to grab your family and friends and head to 16th and Arapahoe in Downtown Denver to the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park! Skating is free with your own skates, or rentals are available for $2.

Boulder Opera’s The Magic Flute. This family-friendly one-hour version of Mozart’s famous German singspiel, or opera-play, is back this holiday season. There are six opportunities to see this exciting production: Broomfield Auditorium on December 8th at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. or the Nomad Theatre in Boulder on Friday, December 13th at 1030 a.m. and 4 p.m. or Sunday, December 15th at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” tells a charming, fantastic story that includes a bird seller, a dragon, a captured princess, a prince who wants to rescue her, an evil Queen of the Night, a priest and, of course, a magic flute. There will be a Q&A following the play The Magic Flute is the perfect introductory opera for children who love stories, singing, and acting. Professional singers and a live chamber orchestra bring an authentic and exciting opera experience to children and parents alike. Tickets range from $8-18. www.boulderoperacompany.com

Take a Trip to the Art World of Paris. Through February 9, 2014. Take a trip to Paris, without leaving The Mile High City. This holiday season, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) presents Passport to Paris, a suite of three French-themed exhibitions, featuring masterpieces by Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and will feature more Monet in Denver than ever before! Skip the lines and take advantage of great hotel packages with VIP tickets at parisindenver.com.

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Nature Programs

Also, don’t miss these events from Jeffco parks. LMNC programs are FREE and registration is required unless otherwise noted. Register online or by calling 720-497-7600. Looking for a program for your class, scout troop, or other group? Visit their website or call to learn about group programs.

Nature’s Gifts
Thursday, December 19
10 AM – 12 PM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Hey all you young naturalists. Have fun making nature-related holiday crafts for your loved ones. No registration required. Suggested donation: $3 per child. This special program takes the place of our normally scheduled Nature Nuts.
Activities are designed for children ages 2-8 with an adult.

Winter Solstice Campfire Celebration
Saturday, December 21
4:00 – 6:00 PM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Join naturalists and celebrate the first day of winter while we welcome the new solar year. Enjoy hot chocolate and a cracklin’ fire, sing carols and hear stories of Winter Solstice celebrations.
All ages.

Winter Stories
Sunday, December 22
12:00-1:30 PM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Take a walk through wintry ponderosa pine woods, then deepen your sense of place by listening to a story.
Ages 6 yrs – adults.

Preschool Nature Nuts: Antlers and Horns
10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Thursday, January 2 (Lookout Mountain Nature Center)
10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Saturday, January 2 (Lookout Mountain Nature Center)
10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Thursday, January 16 (Lookout Mountain Nature Center)
Many animals in Colorado grow antlers and horns to help them survive. Bighorn rams battle each other like ancient warriors bearing huge clubs, while bull elk defend their herd using their antlers like fencing swords. Learn more about the lives of these magnificent animals, as well as how to stay safe when viewing them in the wild. (Ages 3-5, with an adult.)

Full Moon Night Hike. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 15 (Alderfer/Three Sisters Park). Explore the trails by the light of the moon. We’ll look for signs of wildlife, gaze at the night sky and experience the magic and tranquility of a winter’s evening. (Ages 8+.)

 Jr. Astronomers: Just Jupiter. Saturday, January 18 at 6-7:30 p.m. (Lookout Mountain Nature Center). Jr. Astronomers are invited to join astronomy team members for a special program all about Jupiter. Learn the latest on observations, missions, peer through a telescope and more. This program will be indoors & outdoors. (Ages 6-10, with an adult.)

Becoming Mothers: Mom via adoption — “I saw my daughter be born”

Cue L&O voice: In 2001, my husband and I were hoping to become parents via open adoption after 6 years of dealing with infertility. This is our story.

I pray that raw eggs won’t harm the baby because Crystal and I have just put a large dent in a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, which I made in her mother’s kitchen while she endured sporadic contractions. The eating of said dough either causes or coincides with stronger and more frequent contractions. It is now rush hour, and finally time to head for the hospital.

We’d been warned that hospitals can be inhospitable to adoption situations, but we find nothing of the sort. Nurses and doctors are curious about our arrangement with Crystal, the woman who may make me a mom within a few hours, and seem unfazed by the presence of my husband and me. They even give me a hospital bracelet to match Crystal’s.

‘Tis the season to get pampered

And I ain’t talking diapers for the baby.

I’m talking a facial for the mama.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa in Denver is a four-time Forbes Four Star award winning spa (2008 – 2012). And it is currently offering special ways to pamper anyone in your life that may be under a wee bit of stress (you, perhaps?). Or someone who simply deserve an indulgence for being of service during the past year (again, I’m looking at YOU!).

Looking for a Mother’s Day hint to drop?

It’s never too early to start dropping hints for Mothers Day. If you’re like me, you collect little ideas in the weeks leading up to mid-May, but then when asked what you want, you draw a blank.

Here’s a luscious idea that has fewer calories that chocolate, smells as good as a bouquet of flowers, and always fits the giftee perfectly.

How about a day of pampering, a few hours with no cares or concerns, a time when you are the center of the universe?

And how about doing all that at the very posh but not outrageously priced Four Seasons Spa in downtown Denver?

I erroneously thought that hotel spas were for hotel guests. Only.

But after doing some, uh, “research,” I recently found out that about half the people who take advantage of The Spa at Four Seasons live in the Denver area and visit the hotel just for The Spa.

Upon arrival I was immediately pleased to find that valet parking ($10) is validated with any spa treatment. Nice touch.

I kept wondering why they called it “spa treatment” when it was really just a massage. Sounded highfalutin to me.

And then I found out it wasn’t just a massage.

When I checked in I was greeted by name (“Ms Lavender Luz,” my blog name, which I rarely hear vocalized) and offered a flute of champagne. I was given a brief tour of the gorgeous facility so I could find my way around and know what amenities were available to enjoy. My concierge left me in the changing room with a luxurious bathrobe that would be mine for the next couple of hours.

The massage itself was divine. Mine was billed as a Rose Quartz Massage and Scalp Treatment ($110 for 60 minutes). The special scent used was particularly appealing to me: rose petals, lavender, jasmine, ylang ylang. The oil is also reportedly infused with “rose quartz crystal energy.”  I was so besotted with the aroma that I bought a bottle to bring home.

Susan was the perfect masseuse — she applied just the right intensity in each of my muscles, and she gave a quiet massage (although she’s so intuitive that if you were the type who wanted a chatty massage, I’m sure she would oblige).

The massage was just a part of the spa treatment. After my massage I was free to take advantage of all that The Spa has to offer.

And take advantage I did.

I meditated in the caldarium (steam room) and then soaked in the whirlpool. Take. Me. Away…

I had arrived without any sundries, now knowing exactly what I was in for. But no worries — towels, toiletries, high-end shampoo and conditioners were provided.

I’d never experienced such a fancy shower. Note the multi-directional water spray — from both sides and the ceiling, in addition to the traditional nozzle:

There was a wide selection of make-up, hair products and sanitized styling tools at my disposal. But have you seen me? Then you know that I had little use for them. But I’m sure the typical Spa visitor would enjoy having such conveniences.

Soon I needed to be back on Mom Duty again, so I donned my clothes and prepared to leave Eden. On the way out, Spa staff continued to treat me like a VIP, inquiring about my experience and making sure I was sent off  by name. I felt, for a few hours, that I got the movie star treatment, without the annoying paparazzi.

If you are interested in enjoying your own Spa Experience, the Four Season’s current special is the Spring Renewal Package, which offers access to the state-of-the-art Fitness Centre featuring TechnoGym equipment, and either a Yoga or CrossFit Training session (60 minutes) paired with an Organic Detoxing Slimming Wrap (75 minutes). It includes a healthy Spa Lunch served on the rooftop pool terrace (weather permitting) or in the Spa’s Relaxation Lounge. $200

For more information or to make a reservation, visit The Spa at Four Seasons Denver or call (303) 389-3025.

I know what hint I’ll be dropping.

How about you — what would make your Mothers Day perfect?

True Holiday Confessions: I Only Pretend to Like Holiday Decorations

There. I said it. I don’t like holiday decorations.  Bah Humbug!  Not only that, I’ll take it a step further. I can’t stand holiday decorations. Would “hate” be too strong a word? I’m probably not going to make very many friends with this post today, but today’s post is about confessions, and this is a timely one.

(I took this photo last year, but it’s not a self-portrait.  However, the resemblance is uncanny, no?)

I don’t like holiday decorations in my own house.
You can do what you want in yours.
Yes, your decorations look lovely.

Luckily, my husband doesn’t like decorations either, so for years, we lived in a decoration-less house, and it was awesome. For years, we’d say, “We have kitties! We can’t have all those decorations out!” or “We travel for the holidays, so what’s the point?”

Those were true statements, but they were all just excuses we had for not having a tree and for not being so “festive.” And, we loved every minute of it.

I have a box of ornaments from my childhood, and I’ve experienced the magical glow of a lighted tree…but I just don’t want to decorate. I hate getting everything out. I hate putting it all up. I hate taking it all down and putting it all away.

So, we didn’t.

Then we had a child and decided not to travel anymore for the holidays, inviting all our relatives here, so we had to pretend we actually like decorations.

I’m very good at pretending to like all this, so some people who read this will be shocked. I try to keep my feelings to myself, and my husband is the only one who gets to hear my grumbling and muttering when it’s time to drag out all the decorations. Lucky him.

I was tortured with surrounded by holiday decorations as a child. My mom would decorate every square inch of our house, starting the day after Thanksgiving and they would stay up until January. I’m not kidding.

My mother-in-law also takes great pride in her decorations and her tree.

Sometimes I feel like I’m all alone in my feelings. I like the way our house is decorated now. We’re rather minimalistic as it is, but it’s exactly the way we want it. I don’t want to change it, just because there’s one holiday or another right around the corner.

All this being said, if I have to decorate, I’ll admit that I do have a fondness for snowmen. People have given me various snowmen artifacts and paraphernalia, and they are cute and festive. I begrudgingly dig them out, dust them off and display them. I spend a month trying to keep them clean, straight, and unbroken. Then I dust them off, pack them up and try to fit them back into the space we have allotted for them in the storage closet with all the other decorations. And for what? Because decorations make people happy?

I guess decorations do make me happy…when they’re all packed away for another year.

So, what about you?  What do you REALLY think about Holiday Decorations?  And, while we’re at it, do you have any other True Holiday Confessions?

Before the Holidaze Begin, the Holiday Letter is Done!

It’s really not my fault, even though it does seem hypocritical of me. I mean, how can someone who grumbles about the “Happy Hallow-thanks-ismas” season that morphs and spreads through all the retail stores as soon as they take down the Back To School signs be done with her Holiday Letters?  (Photo credit: The Casual Perfectionist.)

Yes, it’s true.

I stamped, sealed and addressed the last ones on Halloween.

Now, that’s scary.

But, like I said, it’s not my fault. If I don’t do them now, I’ll be rushing to get them done amidst traveling, guests, anniversary celebrations, holiday parties, more traveling, birthday shindigs, and more guests.  (Have I mentioned all the parties, traveling, and guests?)

So, I do them early. This year, I have them done a little bit earlier than normal, because of our overactive travel schedule, but I’ll still mail them out on December 1st. I’ve always tried to get a December 1st postmark on my Holiday Cards. It’s my own little “Welcome to December!” party in my head.

The only year I missed the December 1st deadline by a few days was when I was in the hospital having Claire. But, that’s the year we cheated and had our Very First Family of Three Photo taken in the hospital, and then we used that photo on a Birth Announcement/Holiday Card. Two proverbial partridges got knocked out of the pear tree by the same stone that year.

Every year I pick a different theme or style of Holiday Letter and Photo. This year, I used Photoshop to put together a photo collage of our adventures, and I had them printed as a 4×6 photo. I found specialty envelopes at a local office supply store that fit the size of photo and letter we used, and leisurely cut, folded, stamped and addressed them, well before the holidaze started.

But, don’t you have a blog? Aren’t you on Facebook?  Haven’t you embraced most things technological?  Why do you still send a snail mail Holiday Photo Card and Letter?

Because I want to! Turnabout is fair play, and I love getting Holiday Cards, Letters, and Photos, and we get a ton. It may be old-school, but it’s a tradition that I’m holding on to as tightly as I can.

Plus, I only pretend to share everything online. Some things, like complete family photos, never show up in my blog and rarely does my husband appear in photos on Facebook.  (Don’t worry.  His team of lawyers were familiar with the Holiday Photo Clause and granted me special, though limited permission.)

And, I know this will be hard to believe, but there are some people on our Holiday Card List that don’t read the blog and are not on Facebook. I was curious, so I decided to take time out from bragging about being done with my Holiday Letter and actually count those people. I always send 100 cards, so the math was pretty easy. The result? 79% of the people on our Holiday List do not live their lives online.

That’s a lot, and certainly enough for me to justify keeping this little tradition alive.

What about you? Do you send a Holiday Letter?