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Your Guide to Celebrating Easter and Spring in Denver

When I was growing up, Easter meant that the crocuses were in bloom and we were going to look for a new dress to wear to mass and brunch on Easter Sunday. What I looked forward to the most, however, was the scavenger hunt my father put on for us, with challenging clues we had to answer to move on to our next treasure. And the fact that spring had arrived.

In the Christian faith, all over the world, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. This celebration merged with pagan beliefs in 15th century Germany. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. When German immigrants settled in the United States, they brought with them their Easter holiday traditions, which included the pagan rabbit hiding eggs in the garden.

In Denver, there are many fun ways to celebrate this important religious holiday with your family, whether to honor Christ, the pagan Eostra or merely, the coming of spring. Here are our top ten ideas:

1) Perform acts of kindness by celebrating Easter through community service. The Food Bank of the Rockies has a simple campaign: For every social media Easter post that includes #CEPGiving, CEP will donate a dozen eggs, up to 25,000 dozen, to Feeding Colorado food banks. Or volunteer with your family at the Bannock Youth Center’s Easter celebration for at-risk youth on April 4, 2015. The Colfax Community Network, Metro CareRing and others are always looking for food, toiletries, clothing and more. Check out their websites and make a plan with your family. You may want to clean out your closets for spring or call to see if they will accept Easter baskets for the children who come through their doors.

bunny2) Swim and dine with the Easter Bunny? Get some Spring shopping done and have an Easter Bunny Breakfast on Friday, April 3 at the Outlets at Castle Rock. Kids will stay busy with crafts, activities and admission is free but a canned food donation is appreciated. The Downtown Aquarium will host Easter breakfast with the Easter Bunny on April 4, 2015 (reservations are required). On April 5, the Easter Brunch will feature delicious buffet items, Easter egg hunts and photos with the Easter bunny.

3) Get inspired at sunrise. Unique to Colorado, you can attend the Sunrise Easter Service at Red Rocks on Sunday, April 5, 2015. Gates open at 4:30 a.m. The non-denominational service is open to all and is a wonderful way to celebrate.

4) Every holiday is an excuse to read with your children. Great books for Easter include: E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core by William Joyce (chapter book), Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, My First Easter by Tomie dePaola (for the youngest in the family) and Petook: An Easter Story by Caryll Houselander.

5) Throw a Cascarones Party. After a visit to Houston, our family now celebrates an Easter tradition celebrated there and adopted from Mexico. Cascarones are colorful, hollowed-out eggs filled with confetti. To celebrate Easter, friends throw the eggs or crush them over each other’s heads, showering each other with confetti. Having a cascaron broken over your head is supposed to bring you good luck. Be warned, while this is a huge hit with the kids, you will be picking up eggshells and confetti in your yard for the rest of the year. (You can purchase them online or turn it into a craft project.)

Colorado's largest Easter egg hunt at Copper Mountain

Colorado’s largest Easter egg hunt at Copper Mountain

6) Take in spring with a family walk through a park, open space, Hudson Gardens (free admission year-round) or around the 3-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden at the Botanic Gardens.

7) Be quick like a bunny and run in the Bunny Bolt (5K or 10K) in City Park on April 4, 2015  The event includes an Easter Egg Hunt for the golden egg, along with more eggs hidden along the race route, as well as face-painting, balloons, the Easter Bunny, and prizes. (http://www.runningguru.com/EventInformation.asp?eID=4755)

8) Hop along the bunny trail at the Children’s Museum. The Museum will host its annual “Bunny Trail EggVenture” on April 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Young children will enjoy dying eggs and creating fun Easter-themed crafts. Also, all aboard the Bunny Express Train on April 4 at the Colorado Railroad Museum where the Easter Bunny and Spike the Railyard Hound will be on-hand with special spring treats. 

9) Head up to the mountains for Colorado’s largest Easter egg hunt. For those EGGstreme youngsters 7-11 years old, check out Copper Mountain’s Center Village Egg Hunt with 65,000 eggs on April 4 at 10 a.m. Don’t worry big kids, there will be few special “Copper Eggs” for you to find hidden on the mountain. And little bitty peeps have their very own hunt around Copper’s Climbing Wall at 11 a.m. Get a photo with the Easter Bunny at at West Lake in Center Village. They’ll have tons of EGGcellent prizes and a Noon Egg Decorating party with all of your leftover treasure. P.S. If your kids (ages 6-14) want a real adventure, sign them up  for the Kids Adventure Games Winter Edition on April 5 in Breckenridge.

10) Decorate a flowerpot and then plant vegetable or flower seeds. A spring does not go by in our house without at least one attempt (many failed) at growing grass, pumpkins, or flowers in a paper cup. It is fun to watch the kids peek at them every morning to see if anything has sprouted.

And, of course, there are a number of Easter egg hunts so be sure to go here for a comprehensive list.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Every Little Bit Counts: Raising Little Heroes Teaches Kids to Give Back

For most of my adult life, I have been searching for ways to contribute to society in a meaningful way.  I have this wish for my children: that they will grow into compassionate adults who know everything and everyone is connected and we should all be doing our best to take care of each other and the world in which we live.  As my children were growing before my eyes, I was all too aware of the fact I wasn’t doing anything tangible to help make this wish come true. I was waiting to have more time, more money and more energy. 

Then one day I realized I didn’t want to be teaching my kids that being generous is something you do when it’s convenient.  What if we never felt financially secure?  I decided to stop waiting and asked some friends if they felt the same way.

We started as a handful of families, coming together once a month in the summer of 2012 to take on simple projects. Since then we have grown into an organization called Raising Little Heroes with more than 100 local families on our mailing list and an East Coast chapter gearing up for their first project. Whether it’s an 8 year old helping pull weeds at our adopted park or a 2 year old drawing a cheerful picture for a family affected by a natural disaster; an infant inspiring her parents to get out there and do something to help make this world a better place or a parent holding a new mother’s baby so that mother can take 10  minutes to sort food donations; or, a pregnant, first time mother making a blanket for a baby in the NICU while chatting with other parents about the new journey she’s about to embark on.  There is something for all of us, a way to contribute regardless of how much.

raisinglittleheroes If you also feel an urge to get your kids involved, know you don’t have to start an organization like we did (although if you are interested in starting a Raising Little Heroes chapter, by all means drop us a line). Every little bit counts, so gather your family together and brainstorm. Maybe you have a neighbor who is sick and could use a hand with yardwork or a local food bank that would be happy to give you a tour and let you lend a hand sorting goods for an hour or two. 

 If you need help getting the ball rolling though, here are some ideas:

  •  Bake some brownies and have the kids make thank you cards for a local firehouse or police station and then hand deliver them

 For more ideas including larger scale efforts you can check out our website: http://raisinglittleheroes.wordpress.com/

 Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Sarah Stith lives in Boulder with her husband and 2 children (3 and 6).  Before moving to Colorado, the family lived in Brooklyn, NY where Sarah worked as a dresser at The Lion King on Broadway.  She now works from home and manages to find time between breaking up arguments to build her organization, “Raising Little Heroes” (http://raisinglittleheroes.wordpress.com/), a group devoted to finding volunteer opportunities for families with young children. She also writes about her life on her blog, “A Day in the Life of My Little Brood” (http://mylittlebrood.blogspot.com/)

2013 Denver New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Families

Looking for something to do on New Year’s? Here’s your guide!

Bovine Metropolis Theater

Annual “On the Spot New Year’s Eve” game-based improv shows begin at 4 (for families), 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 for the 4 p.m. show, $30 for the 7:30 and 10 p.m. shows. 1527 Champa St., 303-758-4722, bovinemetropolis.com

The Celtic Tavern

The Ancient Order of Hibernians and Fr. Joseph Carrigan Division (AOH) present the fourth annual Irish New Year’s Celebration with music, food and family entertainment, 2-7 p.m. Festivities, honoring the Dublin, Ireland, time zone at 5 p.m., include a special toast, bagpipe salute and party favors. $10 suggested donation at the door. Proceeds benefit the Catholic Samaritan House and St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. 1801 Blake St., 303-308-1795, theceltictavern.com

Children’s Museum of Denver

Activities include storytelling with Lars the Polar Bear, arts and crafts, music, confetti and more, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The New Year’s Eve Ball drops every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included with regular admission of $9 ages 2-59, $7 age one and 60+, free for members and guests under age one. Rides on Vern’s Mini Train are $2. 2121 Children’s Museum Drive, 303-433-7444, mychildsmuseum.org

Events: PBS KIDS Fun Fest, Friendship Powwow, Festival Italiano and More!

Denver’s Annual Rocky Mountain PBS KIDS Fun Fest. On Sept. 7, Rocky Mountain PBS is hosting a fantastic FREE party for families. Ideal for kids preschool age through sixth grade, the event will host PBS characters such as Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Word Girl and Sid the Science Kid. Entertainment from the stage includes performances by outstanding local talent guaranteed to get everyone moving. Healthy refreshments will be offered and kids will enjoy moving around to different activity areas featuring Discovery Street, PBS Healthy Kids Go, PBS Science KIDS, PBS KIDS Create and PBS ABCs & 123s KIDS. The event will be held at Rocky Mountain PBS, 1089 Bannock Street, Denver from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. http://www.rmpbs.org/funfest
Free Library Concert. On Saturday, September 7, the Denver Public Library is hosting a free concert with award-winning children’s musician Jim Gill. Suitable for families with kids ages birth – three, the interactive show will feature energetic rhythms on Jim’s banjo while everyone claps, sings, dances and even sneezes along to the silly and inspiring musical games that he creates.  The concert will take place at the Denver Central Library, B2 Conference Center, 10 W. 14th Ave Parkway (at Broadway), 2 p.m. FREE, no RSVP required. http://denverlibrary.org/jim-gills-family-room-tour
Denver Art Museum Friendship Powwow. On Sept. 7, experience powwow dance and pageantry, participate in a community mural project, enter to win prize drawings, browse vendor booths, and enjoy your first (or 101st) piece of fry bread at the Denver Art Museum.
http://www.denverartmuseum.org/calendar/23rd-annual-denver-art-museum-friendship-powwow
Festival Italiano. On Sept. 7-8, the annual Festival Italiano Food & Wine Festival at Belmar Center is a fun-filled celebration of all things Italian. The event will feature over 70 of the finest Italian food, wine and artisan vendors from the area who will sell ceramics, gelato, sausage, baked goods, pasta, flowers, herbs, sculpture, antique maps, produce, pizza and much more. www.belmarcolorado.com/sub/event/festival_italiano/index.html
Transportation Exploration is a community event where kids can climb in and explore over two dozen vehicles, get their face painted, enjoy food and jump in a bounce house. It will be held on Saturday, September 7 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. just East of University and Evans in a DU parking lot and benefits Fisher Early Leaning Center. There will be over two dozen vehicles for kids to climb on/in, explore and learn about AND a bounce house, face painting and food (for additional cost). There is a $5 entrance fee for kids 1-18 and be sure to go  here for additional details.

Preschool Nature Nuts: Wild Homes. Thursday, September 5 at 10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Wild homes can be anywhere. Discover which animals live in the dirt, dead trees, nests, and hives. Create a collage and search for these wild homes outside for kids ages 3-5 with an adult.
Lookout Mountain Nature Center

Preschool Nature Nuts: Wild Homes. Saturday, September 7 at 10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Wild homes can be anywhere. Discover which animals live in the dirt, dead trees, nests, and hives. Create a collage and search for these wild homes outside for kids ages 3-5 with an adult.  Lookout Mountain Nature Center

Fall Wildflowers. Sunday, September 8 at 9:00 – 11:00. Walk with a Native Plant Master and discover the importance of our native plants to wildlife and humans at South Valley Park. Ages 13-adult.

Corn Maze at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. Starting Sept. 13, the Gardens’ annual eight-acre corn maze is one of the most attended in the country and features a new design every year. A classic labyrinth of winding pathways is designed to mimic the Colorado state flag. Admission also includes access to the spider web, a mini-maze for children 12 and under and much more. Sept. 13 to Oct. 27: Fridays, 4-9 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 9 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. $12; $10 Adult Member, Senior, Military; $8 Child ages 3-12; $6 Child Member; Free for children 2 and younger. http://www.botanicgardens.org/our-gardens/chatfield

Kids Running America. Registration continues through Sept. 16: Registration is open for the KRA Fall Marathon Running Program, an incremental running program designed for kids to run 26.2 miles over a 10- to 12-week time frame, finishing their final mile at Washington Park on Oct. 27. The registration fee is $30 and includes the program, a mileage-tracking system, virtual running map, training incentives, entry into the Final Mile Event, race-day goodie bag, finisher’s medal, T-shirt and certificate of completion. Individuals and teams may register.
 Nick Cave: Soundsuits at the Denver Art Museum. Through September 22, renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave will debut a new body of work at the Denver Art Museum in the summer of 2013. The exhibition features a combination of multimedia elements and performances along with a selection of figurative sculptures the artist dubbed “Soundsuits.”
More Info: www.denverartmuseum.org 
Hike & Seek. National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest conservation organization, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Hike & Seek event on Sept. 28 9 a.m.-noon at South Platte Park, in Littleton. Hike & Seek is a family outing that inspires a child’s sense of adventure by combining a nature hike and scavenger hunt. The event brings families together for a few hours in the great outdoors for some fresh fall air and fun and provides an opportunity to rediscover nature. People are encouraged to sign up at www.hikeandseek.org early to buy tickets and then show up ready to spend some family time in nature.
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Nature Programs

Also, don’t miss this event 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.

They Eat What?! Hike & Family Picnic

Saturday, September 14
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM Flying J Ranch Park
You won’t believe what some creatures consider food. Join this interactive, savory look at wildlife feeding habits before we dive into our own picnic lunches.
All ages.

Fall Stories
Sunday, September 15
2:00 – 3:30 PM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Take a short walk to discover what is interesting in the pine woods on that day, then come inside for a story about nature and place.
Ages 6-adult.

Toddler Nature Nuts: Wild Homes
Thursday, September 19
10:15 or 11:15 AM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Wild homes can be anywhere. Discover which animals live in the dirt, dead trees, nests, and hives. Create a collage and search for these wild homes outside.
Kids 2-years old with an adult.

Harvest Moon Rise
Friday, September 20
7:00 – 8:30 PM Deer Creek Canyon Park
Enjoy an evening hike to a ridge top as we watch the Harvest Moon rise over the plains. Learn about phases, features and traditional Harvest Moon tales.
Ages 6-adult.

Jr. Naturalists: Fabulous Fliers
Saturday, September 21
1:00 – 2:30 PM Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Ever want to soar like an eagle or be as graceful as a dragonfly? Join us and learn how birds, bats and insects make it look so easy.
Kids ages 6-10 w/ adult.

Aspens: The Greatest Survivors
Sunday, September 22
1:00 – 3:00 PM Meyer Ranch Park
Our beautiful Rocky Mountain Aspens with thin trunks and dainty leaves are no weaklings. In the fall, you are charmed by their color. Now learn why they may be the mightiest tree in nature.
Ages 6-adult.

40th Anniversary Exhibit   
March 19 to November 17 (Hiwan Homestead Museum)
Come celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Jefferson County Historical Society and Jefferson County Open Space, which was voted into existence in 1972 and began receiving funds in 1973. Displays will center on important points in history, interesting facts about the development of Open Space and a variety of memorabilia.
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Ongoing Fun for the Whole Family

Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park May – October

The nation’s ONLY downtown theme and water park opens for the season on May 4. With more than 45 thrilling rides, plus a splash-filled, 10-acre Water Park, musical stages, stunt shows, arcades and the StarToon Studios (a kiddie area with pint-sized fun), there’s something at Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park for just about everyone. New additions this year include a new family-friendly rollercoaster Blazin’ Buckaroo and seven new shows including the must-see Cirque Conjure in the Trocadero Theater, a sophisticated combination of illusions, music, dance and comedy parents and kids will enjoy.   elitchgardens.com

Spun: Adventures in Textiles
Through September 22, Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) takes a wide-ranging look at textiles from pre-Columbian weavings to modern fiber art, Navajo blankets to an examination of clothing in art and photography.
More Info: www.denverartmuseum.org

Catalyst: Colorado Sculpture
Through January 12, 2014, Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens celebrates the achievements and vision of Colorado sculptors in this astonishing outdoor group exhibition. Twelve artists view the garden spaces differently, altering the landscape with amazing 3-D work.
More Info: www.botanicgardens.org

 

Happy Independence Day!

“America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.”
-Adlai Stevenson

If you’re still looking for something to on Independence Day, don’t miss:

and

10 Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July Weekend in Denver

How can I address the trauma of tragedy?

Dear Mama Drama:
With one traumatic event after another in the headlines I am struggling to manage my own anxieties much less those of my children. We are all sad, angry, and afraid, and struggling to maintain our emotions and get through our daily routines. What advice do you have to help us?
~Stressed Out Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Stressed:
While news of violent acts often leads to a mild increase in anxiety and fear, the recent string of tragedies has overwhelmed many children and adults. You and your family are not alone. Following are some ideas to support you through these difficult times.

Limit exposure to news media. Hearing and seeing the information and images related to tragic events can be traumatic and intensify anxieties and fears. There is a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed. Be thoughtful about what you choose to watch and listen to. Then, share the information with your children in an age appropriate manner. If they are older, watch and listen together so you are there to help them to interpret what they hear on television, radio, and the web.

Allow time to grieve and express feelings and fears. It is natural to want to move on and avoid the pain of tuning into our feelings about these tragic events. However, allowing time to cry and feel the sadness, anger, and fear can keep it from overwhelming us. Sometimes talking feels too difficult or the words are not there, so use music, drawing, painting, and sculpting as ways to express feelings, too. You don’t have to make it better or have all the answers, just be there to love and support each other.

Recognize all the ways you are safe and the steps in place to maintain that safety. Acknowledge the ways you are all safe right now. Then talk with your kids about the safety measures in place at home, school, and other places you frequent. If you don’t know what these are, investigate and find out. Knowing what is going on behind the scenes can help all of you feel more secure.

Find the balance between safety and trust. Help your children remember that most people are kind and willing to help. Discuss the people in the community who they can trust such as teachers, police officers, neighbors, etc., and make sure they have a plan for what to do if they feel unsafe.

Look for joy. Take time to notice and acknowledge the little and big moments of joy throughout each day. Tuning into your own light and joy helps to dissipate the effects of the dark acts around us. Notice and practice acts of kindness, demonstrate compassion for yourself and others, and honor each person for who they are.

Take action. Feeling helpless can exacerbate your sense of fear and anxiety, so take action to voice your concerns or stand up for a change you think will make a difference. Light a candle, write a letter, make a phone call, or join a group that supports your beliefs.

Seek professional help. If you or your children are still overwhelmed in your daily life and unable to return to your normal functioning, seek the support of a professional counselor, social worker, or psychologist. Even though you were not part of the tragic events, you have been traumatized by them. That trauma is real and you need support to get through it.

A good book to read with children is Jenny is Scared: When Sad Things Happen in the World by Carol Shuman. For children who have witnessed scary events either in person or through watching them on television the book A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes can also be helpful.

As people returned to more typical routines this week a journalist on NPR noted, “Everything is normal, but nothing is the same.” This is true for all of us as we find the strength and courage to move forward in the aftermath of tragic events.

What do you do to care for yourself and your families when news of tragedy strikes?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.

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