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Summer Fun With Giant Bubble Recipe!

Bubbles and summer go hand in hand. On a warm summer evening, my daughters and I love to head outside for bubble play. Bubbles are good, clean fun but do you know the science behind the bubble?

The lifespan of an average bubble is mere seconds, but there is a way to extend the life of a bubble. All you need is a few secret ingredients and you’re on your way to being a real bubbleologist.

Super Bubble Recipe
– 1 cup Distilled water
– 2 tbsp Dawn® dish soap
– 1 tbsp glycerin
– Pair of cotton gloves
– Bubble wand or pipette

A little about the ingredients –

Water is the single most important part of the bubble solution. Good quality water that does not contain high levels of iron or minerals is best. If you’re uncertain as to the quality of your tap water, invest in a gallon of distilled water from the grocery store.

When it comes to soap, Dawn® dish soap just seems to work the best for homemade bubble solutions.

Glycerin is the secret additive that will give your bubble extra strength. Adding glycerin keeps the water from evaporating and makes the bubbles much stronger and longer lasting. Try not to be shocked by the price on a bottle of high quality glycerin. Contact the pharmacist at your local grocery store for availability. (Note: Some bubble recipes substitute Karo® Syrup for glycerin due to the expense and availability of glycerin.) Also, like fine wine, bubble solution improves with age. If you can, leave the mixture in an open container for at least one day before using it.

Cotton gloves are needed not to protect your hands but to protect the bubble from the dirt and oil on your hands. Dirt and oil particles are the greatest enemies to bubbles and break down the soap film. The cotton gloves will protect the bubbles and help them survive a little longer. Bounce the bubbles off your gloves or sleeve. Then try touching it with your skin.

Standard bubble wands work great and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes for your bubble creating enjoyment. You can use all kinds of household items for bubble wands. Spatulas or slotted spoons make fun bubbles. Pipettes with the tip of the bulb end cut off are fun individual bubble blowers. Be creative and look around your home to find some items that you think will work and experiment. It’s part of the fun.

Some interesting scientific information on bubbles –

How can I navigate summer break boredom vs. overscheduling?

Dear Mama Drama:

My kids are getting out for the summer and I’m dreading the constant running them here and there and that I’m never able to get anything done. If I don’t schlep them to play dates or other activities they complain that they’re bored. I feel exhausted after these crazy days and then end up staying up late to get the things I need done completed.

(photo credit)

I’d like a different summer experience this year. Any help you can offer would be great!

~Dreading Mama

Dear Dreading:

A change of pace sounds like it is definitely in order for your family this summer. Finding a balance between activities and down time is critical to create an enjoyable experience for all – including you!

Are you doing too much? Start by looking at the activities you have the kids signed up for. Is it a reasonable amount or is there something you/they can let go of? Organize a carpool to sports practices or other daily/weekly activities so you and the other moms aren’t all driving around town to the same places.

Create Mom time. Develop play date schedules that builds in time for you. Arrange for all the kids to be with friends at the same time once a week. Even if it is just a couple of hours, you can relax or run a few of those errands that are quick on your own and take forever when you’ve got a carload of kids. Offer to provide the same opportunity for other moms, so everyone gets a little time off.

Institute F.O.B. When I went to camp as a kid F.O.B. time stood for Flat On Back. This meant we were all in our bunks reading, writing letters, or taking a snooze. We always thought the adults were treating us like babies by making us rest. We didn’t understand it was for them to have some quiet time so they could continue to be patient with us the rest of the day!

Another alternative is D.E.A.R. time. Many schools use Drop Everything And Read as a time to help kids settle down and have the opportunity to read. Your kids’ teachers will love this as it helps keep their literacy skills sharp.

You can also be creative and come up with another version of down time that fits your family. If you do, share it with us!

Let them get bored. Boredom is a great opportunity to be creative and silly.  Here are a few ideas for tackling the boredom beast that I’ve gathered over the years.  Pull out the recycling bin, tape, and glue and let them create building, boats, or anything else they can think of. They can float or race them in the kiddie pool, too, if you’d like. (A similar idea is to pull out the art supplies and see what develops). Gather all of the sports and outdoor play equipment and have them create an obstacle course. And a favorite from an OT we worked with is to have a safari. The kids pull out all of their stuffed animals and then go into one room while you hide the animals all over the house. While they hunt, you get to sit and drink a cup of tea or read the paper. It’s lovely and they’ll want to do it over an over. Last but not least, if they don’t like any of your ideas, offer the opportunity to do chores. This has an amazing effect on their creativity and they are suddenly able to think of something extremely interesting to do… and if not, your floors are swept and the dishes are washed.

Finally, if you are all going stir crazy and really do need to get out of the house, JoAnn and Amber compiled a phenomenal list of 100+ things to do around Denver. Whatever the weather and the interests of your kids, you are sure to find something here.

Remember that you don’t have to entertain your kids. Summer is an opportunity for less structure and more creativity. Let them use their imaginations and invent their own fun – within reason of course. 🙂

Please share your ideas for navigating the summer break blues.

-Lisa Vratny-Smith

Postcards to Denver from a 10-Year-Old and His Mom

From western New York:

“The farm has ten chickens and two bunny rabbits. My chicken’s name is Geraldine. The rabbits are Sam and Matilda. I miss our dog. She would have so much fun here, but we were worried she would eat the chickens.”

“I forgot what it feels like to stay in bed long enough to listen to the birds, watch the sun move across the room and let my muscles stretch awake one at a time.”

From Snowmass, Colorado:

“Mom and Dad made us go on a hike. Why does anybody like hiking? You go up and up and up, and they keep saying it’s beautiful, which… who cares?! Then mom counts her mosquito bites. It would be more fun if we could bring the dog.”

From Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado:

Events: Cultimate Festival, Heroes Against Hunger and More!

Heroes Against Hunger Summer Block Party. Help fight child hunger On Saturday, August 17th from noon-5 p.m. at the University of Denver Campus Green. Admission is FREE and kids can enjoy carnival games, a bounce castle, and great food, which will cost less than $4. Currently, one in five kids in Colorado struggles with hunger. Chefs Daniel Asher of Linger, Brandon Foster of Vesta Dipping Grill, Jeff Osaka of Twelve, Matt Selby of Corner House and Tyler Wiard of Elway’s will join Cummings to create and serve their favorite dishes. Local farmers, Denver Urban Gardens, MM Local, Source Local Foods, and Whole Foods will set up a farmers market to show off local produce. Community organizations like Cooking Matters Colorado, Produce for Pantries, and Slow Food will give cooking demonstrations. http://www.heroesblockparty.com/

Cultivate Festival. On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Cultivate Festival will return to Denver’s City Park, bringing together food, farmers, chefs (local and nationally renowned), brewers, wine makers, artisans and musicians to get people thinking and talking about food and food-related issues. The festival is FREE and brought to Coloradans by locally-grown Chipotle Mexican Grill. The event will feature a Kids Zone, filled with fun, educational activities to help families learn about where their food comes from and why it’s important. Free activities and events include         Plant the Seed: Get kids gardening by decorating biodegradable pots and planting seeds to start their very own salsa garden at home,        Applegate Art Yard, and the Kitchen Community: See how a Learning Garden helps to connect your kids to nutritious food by creating an outdoor classroom and experiential play space with edible vegetables.

Be one of the first to see Peter and the Starcatcher Aug. 15 through Sept. 1 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. A grownup’s prequel to the beloved story of Peter Pan, Broadway’s most mayhem-filled evening of madcap fun launches its national tour in Denver. With enormous talent, ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination, experience the story of a nameless boy who becomes Peter Pan.

Central City Wild Bunch. Now through Aug. 17, bring back a bit of the Wild West with old fashion shoot-outs which feature comedy and different stories each hour. Talk to the cowboys about what life would have been like in Central City during Colorado’s Gold Rush. Affiliated with Gilpin Historical Society and Central City. Shows start at High Noon and are on the hour until 4:00 PM and are held on Main Street in Central City. http://www.denver.org

Cirque du Soleil. After its last visit over three years ago with KOOZA, Cirque du Soleil returns to Denver July 18-Aug. 25 with its signature blue-and-yellow Big Top! The company’s latest big top production, Amaluna will be at the Pepsi Center Grounds. Amaluna is a fusion of the words ama, which refers to “mother” in many languages, and luna, which means “moon,” a symbol of femininity that evokes both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet. Amaluna is also the name of the mysterious island where the story unfolds. For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit cirquedusoleil.com.
Air Force Football’s Kid’s Day. The Air Force football team will host its annual Kid’s Day on Saturday, Aug. 17, beginning at 10 a.m. in Falcon Stadium. The day begins with a live practice at 10 a.m. followed by the performance from the Air Force cheerleaders/dance team. The autograph/photo session begins approximately at 11:45 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. Fans can sign up for Kid Force and will have an opportunity to wear and be photographed in an Air Force uniform and helmet between 10 a.m. and the start of the autograph session. In addition to the on-field activities, the Air Force athletic department will also be offering an exclusive, one day only pre-sale of Notre Dame game tickets for those in attendance at Kid’s Day. www.goairforcefalcons.com
2013 Denver Pet Expo. On Aug. 17, check out 165 + pet-friendly exhibitors, live demos, low-cost vaccinations, a special appearance by Shorty Rossi (and his pit bull, Hercules), star of ‘Pit Boss’ on Animal Planet, giveaways, discounts on your favorite pet products, contests, retailers and much more for the whole family! Plus a mega-adoption event with 300+ pets available at this Denver Merchandise Mart event. http://www.denvermart.com/
Old-Fashioned Corn Roast Festival. On Aug 23rd will kick off the event with the annual Corn Shucking Contest, lots of food, fun and entertainment with the New Sensation, 80’s Band. Saturday the 24th starts with the Annual Corn Roast Parade, Corn Eating Contest, Loveland’s Got Talent, Kid Zone activities, with lots more food, fund and entertainment and bands playing all throughout the day in downtown Loveland at 152 East 5th Street.  http://www.denver.orgThrough Aug. 21. Beat the heat and give your brain a boost: “Just Add Water” is back at the Children’s Museum of Denver. The outdoor exhibit is all about H2O and the many ways it moves and travels: splashing, sprinkling, shooting and swirling. It’s a hands-on experience, so prepare the kids to get a little wet along the way — and it couldn’t hurt to have a towel handy. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday (open until 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Children’s Museum of Denver, 2121 Children’s Museum Drive; 303-433-7444. $9 for guests ages 2-59, $7 for seniors and 1-year-olds. mychildsmuseum.org.The Heritage Square Music Hall Children’s Theatre presents “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Emperor Mullinium is the original “Fashionista” and thinks more of his clothes than his own people!  Is that any way for an Emperor to behave?  We think not!  It’s up to the audience to help him get his priorities straight.  “The Emperor’s New Clothes” runs through August 31, 2013 with performances every Saturday at 1:30 PM. Tickets: $8 for children and adults, $7 for seniors (62 and up). Special rates for groups of ten or more children apply. Weekday performances are available, but vary, so call for information. For reservations, call 303-279-7800. Heritage Square Music Hall Children’s Theatre is located at 18301 W. Colfax D-103, Golden, CO 80401. More information at www.hsmusichall.com

Taste of Colorado. A Labor Day tradition in Denver, Taste of Colorado not only has more than 50 of Colorado’s favorite food establishments and 280 Marketplace booths but loads of family-friend events. Featured acts, including Wayne and Wingnut’s “Red Hot Chili Puppets” Comedy Ventriloquist, Bekah Smith’s One-Woman Circus Adventure, and Mr. Kneeel’s Hip Hop for Families, are set to appear on the Comfort Dental KidzStage. Children and adults can stay busy for hours with carnival rides, games, educational exhibits, and more.  The KidZone presented by MIX 100 is a family-friendly area offering play equipment and table tennis. There will also be a great variety of free, hands-on craft activities for children of all ages, presented by 101.9 WAY-FM. KidZone hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 30; and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat., Aug. 31 through Mon., Sept. 2. The four-day, free admission, food, music, and entertainment festival will take place in Downtown Denver’s Civic Center Park. www.atasteofcolorado.com

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

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 

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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.

Lair o’ the Bear Campfire: Beaver Tales

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 14 (Lair o’ the Bear Park)

View beaver activity along the creek then head to the education shelter to learn more about these amazing creatures through campfire activities and stories. Enjoy roasting marshmallows afterward. (All ages.)

 Lair o’ the Bear Campfire: Beaver Tales

7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 15 (Lair o’ the Bear Park)

View beaver activity along the creek then head to the education shelter to learn more about these amazing creatures through campfire activities and stories. Enjoy roasting marshmallows afterward. (All ages.)

 Toddler Nature Nuts: Beetle Brigade

10:15 or 11:15 a.m. Thursday, August 15 (Lookout Mountain Nature Center)

Most bugs are beetles. So what are beetles? Learn what they are, hear a beetle story, and do a craft about the largest insect group in the world. (2-year-olds, with an adult.)

 Jr. Naturalists: Animals Underfoot

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Friday, August 16 (Hildebrand Ranch Park)

Unearth some of the amazing stories about the wildlife under our feet. What fast-flying bird of prey nests exclusively underground? Who are the tunnel makers? There is more life under the soil than above it.

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

Everything from roller coasters to rhinos.

Daily. After a popular run in 2012, the Children’s Museum of Denver relaunches its “3, 2, 1 … Blast Off!” exhibit. Created in conjunction with United Launch Alliance, “Blast Off!” teaches kids about the basics of rocket science by letting them build and launch their own rockets. The new version of “Blast Off!” includes two giant-size models of real-life rockets, plus a vaulted ceiling for vertical rocket launches — the previous space allowed only for horizontal flights. Museum members are invited to arrive at 9 a.m. Saturday for a special members-only hour before the museum opens. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Children’s Museum of Denver, 2121 Children’s Museum Drive; 303-433-7444. $9 for guests ages 2 to 59; $7 for 1-year-olds and seniors age 60 and older. mychildsmuseum.org.

Flight of the Butterflies 3D at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. A scientific adventure. A compelling detective story. A stunning sight to see. Flight of the Butterflies 3D is all this and more. Dr. Fred Urquhart spent nearly 40 years working to discover the monarch butterflies’ secret hideaway and solve the mystery of their unique migration path. In this dazzling 3D film, you will experience the inspiring story of this scientist’s passion and see up close the lifecycle of these beautiful creatures. Get a butterfly’s-view of the world as you fly over North America and into the isolated mountaintops in Mexico where you will encounter hundreds of millions of fluttering monarchs. www.dmns.org

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

Denver B-cycle

Through November

Explore the city on two wheels! Denver B-cycle is an automated bike sharing system designed for short trips around The Mile High City. It’s easy and fun. You can check out one of more than 500 bikes from any one of 50-plus stations (conveniently located near major attractions and neighborhoods) and return it to any other station. denver.bcycle.com

Colorado Rockies

April 5-September 25

Major league baseball returns to downtown Denver’s Coors Field on April 5, as the Rockies square off against the San Diego Padres. The fun continues all spring and summer long. For an affordable option, buy tickets in the Rockpile, where seats are just $4 for adults and $1 for kids under 12. coloradorockies.com

Toyota Elephant Passage

Year-round

Say hello to Denver’s new, five-ton locals. At 10 acres, this landmark $50 million exhibit at Denver Zoo is North America’s largest bull elephant habitat. You’ll see majestic Asian elephants cooling off in a shallow stream, Malaysian tapirs care for their young, acrobatic gibbons swinging overhead from tree to tree, fishing cats diving for their next meal and the piercing stare of a black leopard, all from the center of an Asian village. denverzoo.org

GPS Adventures at the Wildlife Museum. The Wildlife Experience recently opened its newest exhibit, which sets you on a course for hidden treasure… all you need is a GPS unit and a sense of adventure. This life-sized maze exhibition introduces visitors to cutting-edge Global Positioning Systems (GPS) through Geocaching – a family friendly treasure hunting game.  More than four million people around the world are on the hunt for over a million hidden treasures.  In addition to hidden booty, these geocachers are finding the real treasure: reconnecting with family, community and nature in a meaningful way.

Deals of the week: It’s summer clearance time

End-of-season fashion can be tricky. On the one hand, you’re ready to move on to fall trends. On the other, you’re not ready for the temps to nose-dive. Here’s one thing that’s easy: shopping the late-summer sales. Whether you’re looking for bargains for the kids, a half-off pair of designer jeans or fitness wear that will work year-round, with these deals of the week, there’s probably a sale for you. Those fall boots? They can wait a while longer.

Gap Outlet discount: For one week, starting July 31, grab an extra 40 percent off all kids items at Gap Outlet — including those on clearance. Plus, print this coupon for an additional 15 percent off your purchase of $75 or more, through Aug. 11. Back to school shopping, anyone?

10 Denver Hot Spots to Cool Off

Summer is in full-swing! BBQs, campfires, day camps, longer days, sunburns and crazy heat are all part of Colorado summers.  It’s wonderful having the kids around, but no matter the age, hot weather affects us all and usually not for the better. : ) With the kids home from school, keeping them occupied, happy and cool can get difficult unless you have a plan. Often we forget to look in our own “backyard” for relief during the heat!

Break out of your routine and try these local spots to keep kids occupied and cool!

Air-Conditioned Options:

Agua fresca recipes create refreshing Mexican-style drinks to quench kids’ summer thirst

Few drinks offer as refreshing and delicious a way to quench your thirst on a summer day as a cold agua fresca.

The nonalcoholic drinks, rooted in Mexico — agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water” — are typically made with puréed fruit. Traditionally the ingredients are ground by hand, but these days, most people opt to use a blender.

Fruit options are almost limitless. (Some aguas frescas, including horchata, use grains, such as rice.) If you can find it at your grocery store or farmers market, you’re in business: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydews, strawberries, tamarind, peaches, pineapples, mango, papaya and cucumbers are popular choices.

While these drinks are wonderful right out of the blender, making them a few hours in advance allows the flavors to intensify and the drinks to get colder as they mellow in the refrigerator. If the drink starts to separate, just give it another quick pulse in the blender or stir with a spoon.

Quiz: What Color Should You Paint Your Toes?

Summer sandal season is here! Not only is it time to shave your thighs instead of just your calves, it’s time to take nail color seriously. Your tootsies can’t hide in boots or in fuzzy slippers. Let those protective layers of hardened keratin shine!

But what color should you paint your toenails? This is a difficult question we must all answer. With hundreds of colors to choose from, it can be a daunting decision. Here’s help.

1. You recently dropped a frozen pork roast on your foot, resulting in severe bruising. It reminds you of:
a. A sunrise over a tropical ocean
b. Kermit the Frog
c. A Goth’s tender smile

7 Summer Learning Apps for Your PC

If you’re sick of trekking down to Best Buy every few weeks so your kids can pick out a $20 CD ROM learning game they’ll be sick of in a week, Intel has the cure for your time and money woes. If you use the family computer as a learning tool over the summer months and want to save money on educational programs, you need to check out Intel AppUp.

If your computer runs on a recent version of Windows, you can download the Intel AppUp App store and get to loading up your family computer with useful apps today. Don’t let the word “app” fool you – these are fully functional computer programs. And thousands are available within a matter of minutes (and pennies). Below I’ve listed some of the best educational picks of recent weeks and the words the developers have published that best describe them.

Quiz: How to Tell if your Garden Gnome was Stolen or Ran Away

Answer the following as honestly as possible. Choose A or B as you think about life before he went missing.

1. When backing out of your driveway in recent weeks or months, you’d notice your Gnome...

a. Silent and still, but you knew he was thinking, “Goodbye, Friends!”
b. Stubbornly avoiding eye contact

2. Have there been any surprise financial shortfalls lately?

a. No, everything appears to be in order