Our Elf won't stay on the shelf

Friday, November 30, 2012 0 comments

He's baaaack!

Our Elf never did stay on the shelf.

He's a little mischievous. He makes my boys laugh. They wake up every morning eager to find him.

The thing is, if your elf is active, your kids expect it. What's your Elf up to?

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You're invited: Discover Great Schools in your Neighborhood

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 0 comments

DPS is sponsoring this event to Discover Great Schools in Your Neighborhood at a DPS Regional Expo  to give Denver families the opportunity to learn more about SchoolChoice, the new DPS enrollment process, and discover great DPS schools in their neighborhood. Each event will feature elementary, middle and high schools from each area. Drop in anytime during the "open house" event to learn more about the SchoolChoice enrollment process as well as visit with representatives from each participating school.

Each event will be held Saturday, December 8, 2012, from 10 am to 12 pm.
  • Far Northeast Denver - Evie Dennis Campus (4800 Telluride St.)
  • Southeast Denver - South High School (1700 E. Louisiana Ave.)
  • Southwest Denver - Kepner Middle School (911 S. Hazel Court)
  • Near Northeast Denver - Bruce Randolph (3955 Steele St.)
  • Northwest Denver - North High School (2960 N. Speer Blvd.)
Meanwhile, what is happening with Smiley Middle School in Park Hill?
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Kidtopia! Keystone's the place for kid-friendly skiing

Monday, November 26, 2012 1 comments

When I asked for kid-friendly ski recommendations, Stapleton Moms overwhelmingly said, "Go to Keystone!" You were right. Here's why.

1. Ski School is fun and kids learn a lot.  My 5 year old progressed quickly at Keystone's Ski & Ride School. With several base locations to choose from, it's flexible and convenient. We were at River Run, so he got to ride the gondola up to ski school - which went a long way in the "I'm doing it!"confidence category.

2. If you're serious about learning, Keystone Kroozers is the most cost effective way to go. A single day of Ski School will run you $153, plus $12 for the lift ticket, plus $26 if you rent through the school. Keystone Kroozers is a 3-week program: 3 Saturdays in a row, with the same instructor and the same group of kids. You get a discounted price of $310. But make sure you sign up in plenty of time - there's a $100 late fee when booked within 14 days of sessions - and you need a lift ticket, too.

3. Lessons aren't just for kids. My husband and I hadn't been on skis in 7 years. We needed a refresher course! On a Thursday, we got an instructor all to ourselves. With 19 years experience, she quickly assessed our skill levels and what we could improve on. More importantly, she could speak to my husband in his language, and me in mine. My husband could follow verbal instructions: "Trust your right leg to make that turn, use your inside toe to turn." (Huh?) For me, she figured out I needed to watch and imitate her, and learn it by doing. If it's been a while, a refresher lesson is well worth the money.

4. The snow fort is a huge hit with kids! Especially the little ones! We put our 2 year old in daycare the first day, but that can get pricey ($100+). On the second day, my husband skied while I took the little one up the River Run gondola (entertainment in itself - plus it's discounted if you don't have ski gear) to the snow fort, where he slid, climbed, ran and laughed until his fingers froze. We warmed up in the lodge with hot cocoa, then did it again! Plus, Kidtopia has plenty of activities during the day: crafts and face painting, a parade with Riperoo, cookies & hot cocoa...

5. Good lodging deals. There's plenty of affordable slope side lodging in Keystone. Got your kids in Camp Keystone (Kroozers or Explorers)? Stay at Mountain House. Want to be near the shops and restaurants in the village? Stay at River Run or Keystone Lodge. Most have pools, kitchens and other kid friendly amenities. Get over to Keystone's site to see if you can grab a lodging + lift ticket deal!

6. The Sleigh Ride Dinner will transport you to another world. We loved every minute of it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

7. Tubing. Good for 5 and above (My 5 year old found it a little scary - but he went twice!) Get ready to laugh till it hurts. Sorry, kids under 48" can't go.

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My House vs. natural cleaning products

I don't know about you, but I worry about the chemicals in E-V-E-R-YTHING these days. From the food we eat (don't get me started) to the cleaning products we use. I'm trying to cut back. But which ones are good? Which ones are safe and effective? With my 2 boys, we're putting them to the test.

First up: Spray Sunscreen vs. Norwex

My 3 year old sprayed an entire bottle of Coppertone sunscreen all over the guest bath. Floors, mirror, sink, toilet, doors, stool - all covered in a film of flaky, sticky sunscreen.



My first attempt to clean it was a disaster. I used a spray cleaner with bleach. The chemical reaction turned everything bright crazy neon yellow. It looked so toxic I was convinced it was stripping the finish off the wood floor.

Soap and water washed away the scary yellow, but did nothing to lift the greasy film.

A mom from my son's preschool gave me some Norwex cleaning powder to try.  I'm not even sure what's in Norwex, but it's a system of supercleaning microfiber cloths and non-chemical cleaners from Norway.

So I mixed the Norwex powder with water and voila, it lifted all that scum off the sinks, toilet, floor, mirror and walls. Just like that. Even the mirror!

And I didn't even try the magic microfiber cloth!

Pretty impressed.

Victor: Norwex


Round Two: Sharpie marker vs. Melaleuca

Yes, my 3 year old is a regular on "Sh*t My Kids Ruined."

He drew circles and C's up 3 flights of stairs. With a Sharpie.

Mr. Clean erasers take off some of the ink, but require vigorous scrubbing and take the paint off the walls, too.

I tried Sol-U-Mel® from Melaleuca, made with tea tree oil.

It comes in a concentrated formula. It worked like magic! Soon I was scrubbing off not only the Sharpie, but all the smudgy fingerprints, boot scuffs, scrapes from lacrosse sticks, marks and boogers on my walls. And finding a million other things to use it for.

Victor: Melaleuca Sol-Uu-Mel

Round Three: Sweaty spin clothes vs. Melaleuca laundry detergent

Spin class and hot yoga deserve their own special classification in the laundry department. Not only do they produce some stinky clothes, but the special wicking fabrics created for those endeavors don't hold up well to heavy chemicals. Detergents made for sports clothes? Just mask the odors. 

So we tried Melaleuca's Mela-Power 6x. Made with that magic tea tree oil again. It's so concentrated, you only use an ounce - that's how much your child's cough medicine cup holds. That's hard to get used to, but really - that's all you need.

Did it get out the lingering nauseatingly sweet Febreeze smell from other detergents? Check.
Did it wipe out the sweaty smell? Check.
Is it gentle enough for my $89 Lululemon pants? Time will tell.

Victor: Melaleuca Mela-Power

So how do you get these and other natural products Stapleton Moms recommend?
  • Norwex is sold by distributors, email Anagloria for more info on how to buy it
  • Melaleuca is sold by distributors and it's a buying club model, email Sarah for more info. Some people found it hard to make the monthly minimum because the products last so long! 
  • Method - available at Target (but hit and miss on effectiveness)
  • Seventh Generation - available at Whole Foods
  • Whole Foods brands... but they're pricey. You can join Frontier co-op to get them a lot cheaper! There is a Stapleton group, I'll  put you in touch with them if you want to put in an order!

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26th Avenue Park aka Prairie Dog Lane: Attend this meeting!

Saturday, November 24, 2012 0 comments

A community meeting to discuss the proposed development plan for the 26th Avenue park in Eastbridge will be held on Wednesday, November 28 at 7 PM in the Family Room at the Central Park Recreation Center. 

This meeting will be an opportunity for the Stapleton community to provide input into specific elements of the proposed plan and learn about the planning process required to move the project toward implementation. 

Residents Tim Rooney and Rachel Brand will provide a recent history and timeline of the public input process associated with development of the park. Information on how to provide input into the public planning process from this point forward will also be provided. 

Forest City has been invited to present an overview of the park development plan, budget, and schedule and respond to questions and comments regarding the plan.  

As you may know, there have been significant changes between what was originally envisioned for the park and what is now proposed. At the meeting, we will have a facilitated discussion to elicit public input on what aspects of the plan that community members approve of and what specific design elements community members would like to see in any plan moving forward. We will also obtain input on ideas for how future plans might make this park be something the residents of Stapleton and Aurora will both be able to enjoy. For example,  a staged development plan might be used to incorporate elements of the original plan in the future while meeting basic short-term safety and usability concerns. 

Representatives from the Aurora Planning, Denver City Council and Denver Mayor Hancock's office are also invited to attend.

Please join us for this opportunity for collaborative and constructive input on this long-awaited project. Call(303) 619-8509 with any questions about this event. 
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Thanksgiving Table Ideas

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 0 comments

It's that time of year again, time to be Thankful for All the Wonderful Things in our Lives.  Here are some Thanksgiving Table Ideas to Wow your Family and Friends...

Gorgeous & Rustic Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner
Decorate with Fall Leaves and Colors

Thankful Tree
Give Thanks Tree Center Table Arrangement

Pumpkin Bouquet

Cute Gold Pumpkins as Place Settings

Mixing Different Types, Sizes and Colors of Gourds

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kama Weinberger, ASID, IIDA, CIDC
NCIDQ #13079

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Unique holiday shopping at The Kids' Marketplace

Saturday, November 17, 2012 1 comments

Are you looking for something unique and created by kids? Well, look no further!  The Kids’ Marketplace invites everyone to come out and support young entrepreneurs at the 4th Annual Kids’ Marketplace at Clayton Early Learning Center in Denver on Saturday, December 08, 2012, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. as they showcase their entrepreneurial spirits with a vast array of goods and services created by them, for you!  The Marketplace provides community youth, ages 5 – 18, an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of self-employment skills through their innovative and unique products that that include mini-desserts, jewelry, flower pots, handmade cards, games, holiday items and other unique products created by kids.  You are sure to find that one-of-a kind item at The Kids’ Marketplace!

Is your child interested in participating in this year’s Marketplace? Vendor Marketplace Applications will be accepted through November 23, 2012. Children interested in participating in the Marketplace should complete a Marketplace Application and submit the same with the $15 booth rental fee to: The Kids’ Marketplace, PO 7220, Denver, CO 80207. All checks should be made payable to “The Kids’ Marketplace.” Applications are also available atwww.thekidsmarketplace.com

Clayton Early Learning Center is located at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Colorado Blvd.  The main entrance is just west of Colorado Blvd. on Martin Luther King Blvd.
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Let your voice be heard: survey on the new school, 7-11

Please Fill Out the November 2012 SUN Survey! The Stapleton United Neighbors Board and Education Committee would like to hear from you about some key community issues. This brief survey will help us be your voice on a pending liquor license application for a planned 7-Eleven and the planned 4th Stapleton School. Please take a Stapleton Survey from SUN Read the full story

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Giveaway! Honeybaked Ham to the holiday rescue!

Nothing says holidays like a great honeybaked ham. 

Family's in town, lots of mouths to feed over the Thanksgiving weekend, lots of football and rummaging around the fridge. How many of our grandma's always served ham with the turkey on Thanksgiving?

The good folks at Honeybaked Ham know that sometimes you need a little rescue!

We've got a $25 gift card for a Honeybaked Ham to give away!

You can head to any Denver Honeybaked Ham store - there are a bunch - or select King Soopers have pop-up stores! Closest to Stapleton is the Aurora store on Havana.

Head over to Facebook to enter!

Thanks, Honeybaked Ham!

PS: Scalloped potatoes are the perfect side dish.

Here's a recipe from a French cooking class I took at Cook Street.

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Time for Holiday Shopping at Sugar Plum Bazaar - THIS WEEKEND

All the wonderful things to be found at Sugar Plum Bazaar this weekend... you might just get all your holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving! And find something for yourself too! All local, all artisan, all funky and cool stuff. A market inside the Parkside Mansion.

No entrance fee but make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House!

Source: etsy.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

Sugar Plum Bazaar, Parkside Mansion, Denver  November 17-18, 2012
1859 York St. Parkside Mansion, Denver.
10-5 Saturday, 10-4 Sunday! Park at East HS, strollers not recommended.
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Giveaways Galore!

Monday, November 12, 2012 0 comments

Hurry - contests end Tuesday!
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Pass it On: 11/8 next Eastbridge School meeting

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 0 comments

Dear Parents and Community Members,

Thank you for your interest in the DPS school to be located at Eastbridge!   You are receiving this message because you have expressed an interest in receiving information regarding the new ECE-5 elementary school to open in Eastbridge and begin serving ECE-1st grades in Fall of 2013.

Our first meeting was held on Thursday, November 1st  at Bill Roberts, and our agenda included:

  • Welcome & Introductions: Parents and Community Members, Assistant Superintendent, Office of School Reform and Innovation, Planning and Analysis, Office of Community Engagement, Highline Academy.
  • Purpose: To provide community with capacity analysis and anticipated seat needs, process objectives and timelines, and to receive community input on programming options.  Those recommendations will be used to inform staff recommendations to the DPS Board of Education on November 26th, with a Board decision on December 20th, in advance of the school choice period.
  • Visioning Exercise: All community members present participated in a visioning exercise that produced a number of school qualities that were desired (and not desired) in the new school.  To see the guidelines and results of the IN/OUT Visioning exercise, click here.
  • Highline Academy Presentation: Highline Principal, Gregg Gonzales provided an overview of the school’s philosophy and values. To learn more about Highline Academy, visit their website athttp://www.highlineacademy.org.  Highline Academy extended an invitation to anyone interested in touring their school located in Southeast Denver.  If this is of interest to you, click here to send an email to Faye Ganley, Highline Development Director, to schedule your tour.
  • Wrap-Up/Next steps: To view notes from the meeting, click here.  We were also asked to provide a link to the Education Survey done by Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) in 2010.  Click here to view those 2010 survey results.

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting, where we will provide additional answers to questions generated at the last meeting, hear more from Highline Academy and continue our visioning work.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
5:30 pm Refreshments
6:00 – 7:00 pm Meeting
Bill Roberts, Cafetorium
2100 Akron Way

Refreshments, Spanish Interpretation, and Childcare will be provided.

Please feel free to share this information with other interested community members.

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Parents needed for Stapleton's 4th elementary school in Bluff Lake

Saturday, November 3, 2012 4 comments

Did you know? (Thanks to Sarah for the great recap!)

  • There are150 more students starting kindergarten and first grade next year than Stapleton schools currently have capacity for.  
  • Denver Public Schools is building a 4th elementary school in Eastbridge, in the new Bluff Lake neighborhood, to serve 500-600 K-5 elementary students. It will open up in 2013 in a leased location and then move to the new facility at 26th and Moline in 2014.
  • If you have a child who is does not have a sibling in a current Stapleton School and will be starting in 2013 or 2014, it is a real possibility that your child will be going to the new school.
  • DPS is looking for parents to join their planning committee! There was a meeting November 1 where they presented the following - and a followup meeting with be scheduled!
  • We have a choice to make in the next week: neighborhood school or charter school.
  • The new school is being considered for a charter school modeled on Highline Academy Charter School. There is a principal selected for that charter school - Greg Gonzales.
  • Highline Academy is a liberal Arts curriculum, with rigorous academics, and their school CSAP scores are high.
  • 5280 Magazine ranked Highline one of the Top Elementary Schools.
  • If the school is a neighborhood school, DPS would hire a principal (as it did with Swigert) and then build the school with input from the principal and the community. There is a chance if the school is a neighborhood school that it could be experiential learning, dual language, or a gifted and talented (not 100% like Polaris but a school with a real GT program).

Does this affect me?

It does if you

  •  Have kids under 5 - especially 3, 4 and 5 year olds who don't have siblings at a Stapleton school - you may get choiced into the new school. Yes, that includes some Swigert kindergartners not guaranteed a spot for first grade.
  • Live in Eastbridge and your property values will be affected by the school-- especially if down the road DPS decides to do boundaries.
  • Want to help shape our next school! 
Email Maria if you want to join the planning committee.

The next meeting date will be posted here as soon as I receive it.

**UPDATE: What happens in Stapleton: Pass it On: 11/8 next Eastbridge School meeting: http://www.stapletonmoms.com/2012/11/pass-it-on-118-next-eastbridge-school.html#.UJnzo2tL_UI.twitter **

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Learning to read: online tools

Friday, November 2, 2012 0 comments

I have a first grade boy who loves books. Every night, we read together. He's learning to read, making progress, but I wonder: is he at the level he should be? 

I know: I shouldn't compare him too much to other kids, but when I visited his school, the kids in his class seemed pretty advanced. 

Though his teacher assured me he is fine, and that first graders progress at different speeds, (sometimes boys are slower), I  wonder: Am I doing all I can to foster a love of reading? 

Then I got this offer to try out Reading Eggs. It's developed by teachers to help kids learn phonics and the building blocks of sounds, so I signed up. 

You can get a two week free trial here. No credit card required.

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