Monthly Archives: June 2012

Beyond the Blackboard – a gem in Arvada

20120614-210845.jpg BEYOND THE BLACKBOARD is an amazing store I learned about from my daughter’s teacher and a friend who travels a long way to shop there. What a gem of a store and they have the cutest education tools, toys, and so much more. It reminds me of a store I visited as a kid to get supplies for projects and stamps and other cool things.

On July 14, all day, the store is having its big BACK TO SCHOOL BLAST and hopefully you can make it out to get 20% off. What a great deal. Anytime I can get discounts and coupons to this store, I snatch them up! I can easily spend a small fortune in this store with all the cool learning toys, books, and summer games they have. Learning and teaching has never been this fun!

Come visit Arvada and this gem of a store- a small business, an amazing store, and the opportunities are endless. If you are a new customer, make sure you sign up for the e-mails so you can get deals and a special first time gift bag with 20% off on your next visit too! Check out their website too and get a preview of all their cool stuff before you visit.

There’s an Aurora location too but since I am partial to the one in Arvada, I will let someone else do the talking for that one 🙂 Happy Shopping!

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Behind the Field: Tour the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame and Sports Authority

The view from private box seats

What an awesome opportunity my family and I had and one I have to admit, I was not aware of until Colorado Kids made me aware of it*. We got to tour Sports Authority Field and Visit the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame this past weekend. It was neat. I had no idea all that was at Sports Authority Field (formerly known as Invesco Field) except for the Broncos, of course. Quite cool.  After living in Colorado for 10 plus years, I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this tour and I highly recommend for both visitors and residents.

We were standing on the field! How cool!

You can tour too and the times are convenient and throughout the year. Tour Times are as follows: September – December & March – May Thursdays through Saturdays* 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. beginning every hour; January – February (winter hours) Thursdays and Fridays* 10 a.m, 12 noon, 2 p.m. only Saturdays* 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. beginning every hour. June – August (summer hours) Tuesdays through Saturdays* 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. beginning every hour

PLEASE NOTE: ALL DAYS AND TOUR TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE. RESERVATIONS ARE STRONGLY SUGGESTED.

*MUSEUM IS CLOSED & TOURS ARE NOT AVAILABLE THE DAY BEFORE ANY HOME GAME PER THE NFL

Get Clued In Tours Sports Authority and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame June 23, 2012

Check out their tours schedule and their website here.The Tours are 75 minutes long and you will walk approximately half a mile during the entire tour and includes the following stops: Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum – Party Suites – United Club Level – Visiting Team Locker Room – Keg Room – Thunder’s Stall – End Zone – Television Truck Production Area – Press Center. Undoubtedly, the kids’ favorite part was to see Thunder’s residence but they were really hoping to see Thunder.  He was not there- he lives up on a ranch in Fort Collins.

Our Tour Guide Kristen R. did an amazing job!

Ah well, for hubby and me, it was all about the Champions Club (pictured to the left here).  Okay, I’ll admit that the Keg Room was pretty cool too and on the hottest day of the year yet, pun intended ;_) And, I have to say the Press Center was larger than life too. It was neat to see it all and behind the scenes right before football season begins this fall.  It was also a bit eye opening to see how much everything costs- the club level private rooms and party rooms and how much concessions cost in those rooms too!  Wow! You thought you paid too much for a beer and a hot dog sitting in nose bleed seats?  You have no idea til you take this tour, that is.  The history lessons were neat too – I learned a lot about the history of Colorado sports, the old stadium and why it was torn down, and the stats are just mind boggling.  Our tour guide was awesome and her name is Kristin R.  She is hilarious, tells great stories, and is really a great tour guide.  We are lucky our group got her on our 75-minute journey.

Tickets for the tour are reasonable and the prices are as follows: Adults $10 / Seniors $8 / Children 5-12 years $8 / Children under 5 – free with adult (max 2 per paying adult)
/ Groups of 25+ $7 per person. You can purchase tickets and start the tour at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum – Gate #1 / West Side of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Visiting Team’s Locker Room

With this deal from ColoradoKids.Com you can get $2.00 off per ticket for up to 4 paying people on the same coupon. Click here for the coupon, print it out and take it with you. Group tours and reservations are also available if you call ahead and there are many transportation means to get to Sports Authority so see what works best for you. Parking is available on-site as well and click here for map and directions.  You can see from the few pictures I posted how much fun we had! Here’s a tip: Park in lot C near entrance 1 to the stadium for better access. The tour ends near entrance 10- the broncos store and what a neat store it is – you should check it out for sure after your tour or before.  All in all, a great time was had by all even my tired and hot 5 and 3 year old.  They did very well considering they were the only kids under 10 on this thing.  And yes, moms and dads, the tour is stroller-friendly and handicapped-accessible as well.  Very well done and the museum (where the tours start) is quite a treat – did you know Supreme Court Justice Byron White played football? I had no idea.  The history was amazing.  If you are a history buff and live in Colorado or visit Colorado, this tour is a must for you!

Entrance to Broncos Locker Room (but you cannot go here for your tour)

* Disclaimer: For my time, Colorado Kids paid for my family’s tour at Sports Authority Field so that I could post about this and promote this cool, behind the scenes opportunity. If you want information on my disclaimer, please read my general disclaimer.

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Are You feeling the squeeze?

You don’t have to look far to find middle aged Americans or even those in their 60s caring for parents and their kids at the same time. It is estimated that many baby boomers are supporting their adult children, or children in college while at the same time flying all over the country or driving across the State they live in to care for their parents. And, in some instances, baby boomers are caring for aging parents, kids, grand kids, each other, and all while trying to support everyone financially. It was bound to happen. For better or worse, technology is better, modern medicine is better and people are living longer but living longer means they may need assisted or skilled care, or worse, around the clock care. Meanwhile, our generation (Generation X) generally waited to marry and may still have very young kids at home, and we are facing the same situations with our parents in their 60s or 70s. Baby boomers refer to us as the selfish generation – generation “me”. Sure, we are notorious for trying to find balance whereas our parents’ generation the lines were a little more clear- mom stayed home most likely, cooked, cleaned, and took care of the home. Mom may have even sacrificed a lot to raise us and save money. Dad went out and earned the dough and saved it all for our college. And good or bad, the lines are blurred for Generation X or Generation “Me” – mom and dad are both taking care of the kids, sometimes dad is doing it more and better than mom. Dads are cooking, cleaning, working, changing diapers, and so are moms. We save a bit here and there, we do our best but we also don’t sacrifice ourselves or deprive ourselves of things we need so our kids can go to college. If we are a selfish generation then good for us I say because we as women and moms are in better shape, eating healthier or trying to, and we have our work and careers, social lives plus our families and I think we are lucky because we get our cake and get to eat it too! We may be spread a little thin, but we do the best we can do with all facets of our lives and that is okay. And, we do not hoard our money for things to come or things that may never be- we have not lived through the depression so we try to live within our means, save, set up accounts for our kids and our retirement, we try to look for good deals but we spend when it is needed and do so willingly and generously.

So, who says our generation is selfish? Who says we don’t care about others? We may not be taking care of multiple generations of family but we could be on our way! Recently, I felt the squeeze and in a big way and I am sure my brother (my only sibling) felt it too. In effect, when something happens to our parents or our children, there is a ripple effect and it is felt by us all – it can even have an effect our extended family too- aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws especially if they are trying to help. With smaller families these days, you almost need a village to raise not just your children but also help with care of our elders. Certainly, our generation may not be as sandwiched as the Baby Boomers have been in this decade but we are well on our way and with medicare dwindling and social programs in general, who will take care of us?

Since April, my brother and I have responded in some way to help our folks. Sure, they didn’t ask – they didn’t have to. My brother is a newlywed and his honeymoon was cut short by the first incident 2 months ago. I have young kids at home, ages 5 and 3, and that is also rather tough to balance. I wrote about it here and you can read more about what happened. But, I write this post now because just when we thought my dad was on the mend and recovering and we all settled back into our routine, just like that! Mom was in the hospital with a fractured femur. And, almost three weeks after that incident (exactly 2 months after dad’s incident), they are still not out of the woods yet. Broken bones take time to heal – surgeries of that magnitude take time to heal and even then, there is about a year or more that you have to watch that injury and take care of it. All in all, just like I want to do with my kids on most days, I felt like I wanted to wrap my parents up in this protective bubble and move them closer to me for my own selfish reasons, so I can see them daily, take over their lives, and help them and of course, my ulterior motive: make it easier on me too! Because remember, we are also the generation who thinks anything is possible and so what if we have to spend money on it – we can do it! We are also the generation who thinks money is not important but life is. So, why can’t I just wrap my parents up, bring them closer to me, and then I can have my cake and eat it too? Because, simply put, it’s just not that easy. Like our kids who will need to make their own decisions one day despite how much we want them to just stay in the little protective bubble-wrapped world we have created for them, our parents have been independent since we all left for college and they want to do their own thing too. After all, they have made the decisions for all these years and we have to be respectful and mindful of that, all the while feeling frustrated that we have NO CONTROL – absolutely NONE over them and the situations that will fold no matter what we do or say.

Anyway, after all the work missed and money spent on travel – flying 1800+ miles away to help my folks is not an easy task. It is also hard to leave the little ones because they miss momma. But, we in Generation X (the Me generation), well, we are used to being spread thin so what is taking on another set of issues or problems? It’s cake walk, right? Ummm… nah, it is hard and takes it toll on your health, on your family, and it effects relationships too. I am sure other Americans are feeling this squeeze and struggle too especially if their parents, like mine, did not really take care of themselves or seek medical care all these years. After all, they were taking care of all of us at the sacrifice of their own health and single family income only went so far as well just decided to sacrifice it all for the sake of the family. My advice for you if you are feeling the squeeze as well is to (1) first, take care of yourself and if that means scheduling a massage or some time out for yourself, do it; (2) help your folks as much as you can but remember to honor boundaries because in the end, especially if you live geographically separated, you have to honor that they are independent people who taught you the value of being independent as well and you have to (even if you cuss with frustration on the inside) honor their wishes and choices however poor you believe those choices to be; (3) be supportive but try not to appear to be taking over their affairs and unless they are medically incapable of making their own health and financial decisions, do not jump the gun because if they come around, recover, and find out you took over, that can be really bad for your relationship. I say all of this now, but I was a wreck two months ago when my dad was in the hospital and I failed to obey all of the above so I am writing this as a lesson to myself I guess as well.

The only other advice I can give you from my own experience is to make sure that you encourage them to get their financial and other affairs in order – a must do kit for all adults with or without children in our country includes: (1) Durable Power of Attorney (POA) for Healthcare that names someone or alternate agents you trust to make health care decisions in case of incapacitation. (2) Living Will that sets out the desires of life-saving and life-extending measures, and other special instructions in case of coma or other conditions. (3) Estate planning including a Will that disposes of your estate (the items that will not pass by contract or agreement) and sets out wishes to the appointed executor(s) on how to distribute funds and property. Also, a will is a must have for those who have children under 18 because in it, guardians you trust are appointed. As far as bank accounts, accounts with companies including 401K, IRAs, etc. should all have a designated Payable on Death (POD) beneficiary. That POD beneficiary should have alternates so the money does not go into your probate which gets taxed heavily. If you have a safe deposit box, make sure it is joint with someone else and have even a third person on it to prevent the contents of that going into probate. (4) Finally, as I recently learned, another important document to have is a Special Durable POA that names individuals (primary and/or alternate) to take care of financial affairs, obtain medical records and medical information on their behalf, and for any other purposes you want to set forth. This “Special or limited” durable power of attorney should list all the special powers that your agent has and for what period of time (it must have a start and stop date to be valid). Another item I recently learned is that this durable POA should also contain a HIPAA release in it so that you are in the clear with the medical community releasing items to your agent(s). This last item I discussed is very important in case you are NOT incapacitated but need your help in assembling documents or getting the financial house or property matters in order. If you have to renew it every 2 years or yearly, do it- it is worth it because it is so important to have, and for kids who live far away, this last Special Power of Attorney is a must because they will be making phone calls on your behalf and most hospitals, doctor’s offices, or banks will not honor a general POA.

I have learned a lot from this recent squeeze. A lot! I have shared some of my thoughts before in a a few posts I wrote: Because of the Sacrifices They Made and In an Instant and I have to say I am trying my best to not live in daily fear of what may happen next but it is so hard not to. It is so hard to not freak out every time the phone rings, or just at the thought of what is coming next. I try to not let it consume me but in the back of my mind, I am trying to prepare myself as well. These last two months have set the foundation but does anything really prepare you for the inevitable? ‘Til then, I suppose I welcome whatever “squeeze” God throws at me because I’d rather be squeezed in the middle and I’d rather juggle a lot than take on losing a very important ball or two in this juggling act I call life.

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The Garlic Knot – Westminster, CO

It’s finally open! Yeah! Garlic Knot, my favorite from Lakewood, CO (Green Mountain) finally opened a location up north near where I live on the corner of 92nd and Wadsworth in the old Amici’s location.  It’s tucked away and if you blink you can miss it, so when you turn East onto 92nd make your first left into the first shopping center or you will miss it!

Oh Garlic Knot, I am so glad you decided to branch out up north. Getting a slice of NY-style pizza has never tasted good. Garlic Knot has specials daily for lunch and dinner and yes, you can get pizza by the slice, or calzones, or traditional favorites like Spaghetti, Eggplant Parm, and so so much more! I wrote about them sometime ago when I discovered them near my work but now they deliver to my door in North Colorado – yeah!

It’s casual dining and fun for the kids too- pizza by the slice and their garlic knots will definitely blow your calorie counting diet but hey!  Skip a meal and then eat here. Check out their website and then check out their menu and locations as well.  Bon Appetit and dig in!

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Denver’s Summer Fun – the options are endless!

Judging from the brown patches of grass and the 90 degree plus weather, yeah … IT’S SUMMER! Water fun, indoor fun, rides, summer camps, bowling, and so much to do.  Of course, only 12 weeks of summer vacation left and in the time it took me to write this, we are probably down to 10 weeks left.  Where does the time go?

Well, if you have kids at home or kids over the long weekends, fret not.  There are lots of activities to do right here in your own backyard – no need to travel to far off lands or worlds (yes I am referring to Disney) when you can have it all right here in the Denver metro area.*

1. Children’s Museum – NEW! Just Add Water Exhibit   June 15-August 22

This new exhibit at the Children’s Museum combines the water fun of summer with the imagination that only the Children’s Museum can bring to life with your kids.  What fun.  It opens on June 15 and it is sure to be a hit.  Bring your kids’ bathing suits and towels and expect to get wet.  Check out their videos on the exhibit and join in on the fun.  And remember that every Wednesday Night is 2 for 1 admission, Check out their coupon here and don’t miss this fantastic deal http://www.coloradokids.com/coupon.php?id=10010204&referralcode=true  And the first Tuesday of every month is Target Night out, 4-8pm is free admission to the museum courtesy of Target.

f you are not a member at the Museum, their membership rates are some of the most reasonable in the city at just $90 for a family.  We are members and we have already gotten our money’s worth and the Children’s Museum allows you to host some pretty cool birthday parties on-site as well.  Their grand opening event for the new “just add water” exhibit is on Friday, June 14, 9am-4pm with live music, food and fun.  If you can make it, have fun… otherwise, the exhibit will be around til August 22 for the kids to enjoy.  Bring a towel, bring some shoes and have fun!

https://i1.wp.com/www.usfamilyguide.com/_emailgraphics/heritagesquare.gif?resize=160%2C632. Heritage Square Amusement Park in Golden, Colorado   Is open all summer long and you do not need to go to Disneyland to get a ride. Heritage Square Amusement park has 22 attractions and rides!  And with Easy access from anywhere in the Denver Metro area, it is a closer trip for sure.  There are 22 Rides & Attractions, FREE Entry, FREE Parking, FREE Family Picnic Area and places to eat too:

Garden Grill – There is a courtyard eating area adjoining the Grill with plenty of sun and shade depending on your preference.

Python Pit Grill – A great place to grab a quick hot dog or frozen drink on the go

On their $12 Tuesdays, for the pass, you can get Unlimited rides (excluding mini golf, go karts and boats)  and if you want to beat the heat you can play indoors at an arcade and get tickets to redeem for prizes for the little ones.  There is a Mini Golf course, magic shows, and boats you can go out on too (foot propelled or canoes)

My kids’ favorite is the little banana ride.  I am not kidding.  It is perfect for little ones.  Heritage Square has some height restrictions on some of the rides so please check and make sure you are ready for some waiting at the popular rides.  Bring a hat, and don’t forget your sunblock this summer.  And if you like to ride unlimited, check out this great coupon from Colorado Kids to get $4 off an unlimited ride pass:

AMF logo3. Bowling Anyone? I know, some days it is too hot or it rains so hit the lanes instead!  AMF Bowling Lanes in the Denver area has a great deal for you and your family this summer.  It’s called Summer UnPlugged and includes FREE Bowling for Kids ALL SUMMER LONG!  At AMF, kids 15 and under can bowl for free all summer. Simply register here and you’ll get a weekly voucher for two free games per child per day through September 3.  *Shoe rental is not included.

OR Save as a Family – Only $8.99 for 2 Hours of Bowling for up to 6 People!  Make sure to click on this deal and print out the coupon.  What fun!  And remember, even if you go outside of summer time, no matter your budget, bowling is one of the best entertainment values available. You can check out AMF’s page for specials or join the eClub at amf.com, for our best deals! Then just grab the gang and head over for a great time, any time! For fun or for competition, when it comes to bowling, AMF has everybody else beat.

4. Denver Nature & Science Museum – Lizards and Snakes & so much more

This place rocks no matter how you slice it.  The opportunities to do things here are endless and while it is indoors, the park outside is amazing.  The educational opportunities, the different exhibits and even a play area for little ones (Discovery Zone), you can spend three or four whole days here and still not be done.  We absolutely love this place and if you are military, you get in free to the main museum all the time.

IMAX is spectacular and if you have not seen the Arctic 3D yet, you simply must!  I have not visited the planetarium yet but I think my older one is ready for it – I hear it is spectacular.  All in all, a must – do place in Denver if you are visiting or a resident. The prices are reasonable all the time and the memberships are absolutely worth it!  The T-rex cafe here is awesome and the food prices are so reasonable, how could you not order a healthy salad?

5. Denver Zoo–  NEW Elephant Passage

The Denver Zoo is another fun place and very close to the venue above, Denver Nature and Science.  In fact, when parking is bad all of it flows together 🙂   The Denver Zoo is great but pricey even with discounts so get a membership if you can for the year.  For a family, it is so worth it.  The new exhibit is the Elephant Passage and you have to make reservations so go to the website and do that before you head out.  The Zoo is a fun place and you can pack a lunch and bring it in to avoid the high concession prices as well.

So much to do, see and visit in Denver – some free and some not.  Waterworld, and others I have not even touched on yet because there is just isn’t enough time but make sure you get out and get those kids out of the house.  Happy Summer to you all!

*Disclaimer: For some of the activities above, I am being compensated for my time with a free pass or free day or just discounted family fun.  For others that are listed, I am only sharing because I think these are fun worthwhile activities that you should know about and will keep your kiddos busy and you … SANE! 🙂  For more on Get Clued In’s disclaimer, please read my general disclaimer.

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