Summer Bucket List

If someone ever asked me what my favorite season is, I always respond with an emphatic SUMMER! There is something so divinely awesome about the long warm days of summer. For most people it is also the time to slow things down – not have such a frenetic pace (especially those of us who are parents who drive our kids in circles to school related activities). I’ve only recently admitted to myself that I’m a planner – every summer I plan to knock these items from the summer bucket list.

  1. Swim at the lake. I live near Chatfield Reservior. There are several ways to enjoy the lake. No matter if it is dropping my (kids) kayak in the water, renting a stand up paddleboard or hitting the roped off swim part. Nothing says summer to me quite like hanging out at a lake on a hot summer day.
  2. Visit a national or state park. Again if I go over to Chatfield I also knock visiting a state park off my list – but usually what I mean by this is going on a hike. Living in Colorado we are very lucky that we have many options open to us. Lucky for us Colorado Day (the day Colorado became a state) is August 1 and that typically means free entrance to Colorado State Parks or we can get free entrance to National Parks August 25 on National Park Service Day.
  3. Around a campfire. I would say tell ghost stories around a campfire – but honestly I don’t like scary stories…so let’s just say stories or sing. No matter if you really are going to be at camp or not – there are several options to have a safe fire right in your backyard. It is just a fun time to connect with the others around the fire with you…and maybe make a s’more or two.
  4. Camp. I tried to take my kids camping once shortly after I divorced. We went to the Sand Dunes. I borrowed a tent from my parents which was pretty old – and the sand really is no place to anchor a tent. You can rent a tent from REI (I should have done this instead). But it was fun and the kids tell stories of it years later (the fact that the tent literally fell down makes it funnier). But even if you don’t mess with a tent or with actually going somewhere – you can always camp in your back yard or even in your living room (I was in an apartment – so camping in the common areas really wasn’t a good idea or even really an option).
  5. Ice Cream Patrol. When I was a youngster my dad would gather all the kids in the neighborhood,  we would all climb into his little jeep and head down to BaskinRobbins. He would buy everyone an ice cream cone! There was not usually a reason – just a “because.” This was back in the days before seatbelt laws so kids were hanging out the back and sides of the jeep – with the doors off and the back rolled up.
  6. Drive a convertible. I was lucky enough to tool around in the jeep (which in my estimation is the ultimate in summer vehicles). But, there is something completely summer and different when you take a ride in a convertible or a jeep with the doors off than just riding around in a mini-van with all the windows rolled down.  If you don’t own a convertable rent one just for the day or the weekend!
  7. Watch a movie outside. We went to see a movie last summer on the grass just outside the Alamo Draft House in Littleton (at Aspen Grove Shopping Center). The movie was free and it was quite festive. We saw Hunger Games – prior to the movie they had a character dressed up as Effie, archery, popcorn and more. This year, we will be hosting our own Friday Free Movie. We got an inexpensive projector that we can hook up to our computer or phone and show movies! Host your own or go to a community event (or both).
  8. BBQ. Either host one or go to one. A rite of summer is eating food that has been cooked caveman style – over a flame. (If you feel like sharing your best recipe…email it to me). It doesn’t have to be expensive – it can be hot dogs and hamburgers or something bigger like ribs. Who’s recipe is really better KC BBQ or Louisville?
  9. Take me out to the ball game. When my son played baseball (he now focuses on football) we had our fill of ball games. But summer just isn’t summer without a ball game. Going to the Rockies doesn’t have to be expensive. There are rock-pile tickets that can be just $8 each and even better when you go on $1 hot dog day (promotion). No matter if you watch the game or the people it is bound to be fun. If you can’t make it to the game – make your own. You can buy a whiffle ball and bat for something like $1 at Dollar Tree!
  10. Read a fun novel or flip through a magazine. Reading is a whole different thing when it has not been assigned by a teacher. Choose your own escape – or a beach novel. Something perfect for outside – or just take your time flipping through the pages of a magazine. (One of my favorites is National Geographic Traveler – so I can dream about being on a beach somewhere).
  11. Picnic. So I’m not a great cook. That isn’t a secret. What is a secret is that if I take that same food outside and serve it at a picnic table or on a beach blanket – a simple sandwich, chips and lemonade seem that much more tasty.
  12. Stargaze. I can’t honestly tell you what the Leo constellation looks like (I’m a Leo). But with cool apps you can point your phone at the sky and it will define what each star, planet or constellation is. It is fun to sit out on a clear summer night taking in the awe of the sky – or even noticing the path that the airlines take (they take one right over my house so it is fun to watch them track the same path about 5 mintues apart from each other).
  13. Grow a garden. For the first time last year, I had my own garden. I didn’t have high hopes. The last time I tried I inadvertently pulled the actual vegetables I had planted – fearing they were weeds. This time I planted starters (so I could see what I actually planted – and could recognize what a weed was). I was so excited that I actually grew my own zucchini and green peppers. I had basil coming out my ears…and oh my the raspberries (my favorite). For just $1 a packet of seeds this is a fun reason to be outside all summer long!
  14. Meet the neighbors. In Colorado we hole up in our houses in the cold winter months. The only time I see my neighbors is when there is a big snowstorm and we all have to shovel or when they are driving away to work. This past summer, we made a point to put our chairs on the FRONT porch a couple nights of the week. To just “be”. We were outside so the neighbors could see us. It was fantastic meeting everyone. I look forward to that again.
  15. Find the Freebies. Summer seems to be the time for free entertainment. We have free concerts by local bands all around town, the obvious free fireworks displays at 4th of July and as previously mentioned lots of free movie showings. I write about these freebies quite often on MileHighMamas.com. Check out my annual free concerts list – which will be posted in late May.

No matter what you do this summer it is certainly bound to be fun! What is on your annual summer bucket list? What is your favorite summer tradition?

Denver Deal: McDonalds, Sonic, Driver Training, Consignments and More

I’m sort of obsessed with mail. I love getting mail. I subscribe to a bunch of magazines and get so excited when they arrive. I have even joined some of those “of the month” clubs. I thought this was just my obsession until my daughter asked me, “hey mom, when is that Try the World Box coming?” It came the very next day. This time the country was Japan. Each month they focus on a country or region and we get to taste a few goodies from that location. It is lots of fun to have an at home learning experience.

McDonalds.  McDonald’s introduced a new app for customers that delivers advanced capabilities from the convenience of your smartphone. By downloading the new app and registering, receive a National offer for a FREE large sandwich from McDonald’s, while also taking advantage of offers throughout the state of Colorado that are now offered locally beginning September 21st. Available only for the first 8 million downloads.  When you download the app must also must register to receive national offers. 

Sonic. Sonic is celebrating National Ice Cream Day (I Scream!) with cones for half off on Wednesday, September 23.

Free Day.

Elitch Gardens Broncos Special. Touchdown! Elitch Gardens Theme Park is excited for football season and is celebrating that Orange-and-Blue-Fever with the lowest-ever ticket prices. Announcing a Fan Flash Sale boasting a discount ticket worth tackling, Broncos fans will be able to score big and purchase a general admission ticket for just $18, as a shout out to #18 Peyton Manning, for one day only on the day following every Broncos win from September 13 through October 18.

Free Driving Training. On September 26 and 27, the Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience is coming to Denver. This free, half-day driver training program that provides teens with knowledge to make better decisions while driving. The program features a safe, hands-on driving introduction for teens in a fun, supervised environment. At the Driving Experience, we teach teens various driving maneuvers, demonstrate the effects of distracted driving and show them ways to help keep their vehicle running at peak performance. A valid learner’s permit or driver’s license is required to participate in the Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience. http://www.teensdrivesmarttour.com/

Kids Consignment Sale Season. It that time of year again! Mile High Mamas has published our guide to Children’s Consignment Sales this fall where you’ll get bargains on kids’ clothing for newborn-preteen, toys, strollers, furniture, baby equipment, books, shoes, maternity items and more. Sales this week:

  • September 24-27Just Between Friends of Douglas County. Thursday-Friday 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–3 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (half-price sale). $2 admission all days. at Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock
  • September 25 and 26CLC Mops – New To You Consignment Sale. Times: TBD at 8997 South Broadway in Highlands Ranch.
  • September 25 and 26. Kids ReNew Consignment Sale. Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-noon (white tickets half-price on Saturday) at Shepherd of the Hills Christian School, 7691 S University Blvd. in Centennial
  • September 26. SuperTwins of the Rocky Mountains Sale 9 a.m.-noon. $1 admission at Wheat Ridge High School
  • September 26. Darling Doubles. 8 a.m.-12 p.m.; 12 p.m.-1 p.m. (half-price sale). $2 admission. At Adams County Fairgrounds in Brighton

Hey fourth graders: Do you want to see America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free? Earlier this year, the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative was announced that all fourth grade students and their families would have free admission to National Parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and waters for a full year starting in the 2015-2016 school year. That day has come so grab your fourth grader and be sure to sign up now at https://everykidinapark.gov/.

Free Denver Walking Tours Denver parents, kiddos, and visitors alike will be able to see and experience downtown Denver in a new way. They’ll be able to take advantage of Denver Free Walking Tours’ new two hour daily tours that leave at 10 a.m. daily, starting in Civic Center Park, then wind through downtown past more than a dozen of Denver’s distinctive landmarks, and end in front of Coors Field. No reservations needed and tours are every day – rain, snow, or shine.  There’s no up-front cost for this fun, educational opportunity for kids and parents but tipping is strongly recommended. If you’d like a tour specifically geared to your kids, Denver Walking Tours offers group tours for a nominal charge so grab your friends for a fun day of learning this summer!

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!  If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.

Denver Deal: IHOP, Sonic, 7-Eleven, Lowe’s, Ace and More

I used to fancy myself as a bit of a fee spirit – not really conforming to schedule and rigidity. However it was recently pointed out to me that I am more and more a schedule person. I think being a mom has really turned me into that. I have to know which child is going where, what they need (even though they are teens and typically pack it themselves – but sometimes we have to go to the store to buy stuff) and I usually write the cool FREE events I write about here on my calendar. If I don’t have my calendar up we might miss something. I guess some things DO change.

IHOP.  IHOP is celebrating 57 years in business July 7 with 57 cent short stack of pancakes.

Sonic. Thursday, July 9 Sonic will offer 1/2 price off ice-cream cones all day! Now that is an awesome summer treat!

Free Days

Celebrate 7-Eleven Day.  July 11 (get it? 7-Eleven) 7-Eleven will give away free small slurpees. It also starts 7Rewards week with other great freebies all week long.

Lowe’s Build and Grow. Lowe’s FREE Build And Grow clinic is this Saturday at 10 a.m. Their Avengers Summer continues with Black Widow! Register your child and they can build this Sky Cycle inspired by “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble!” Watch the Animated Series Sunday Mornings on Disney XD! Visit marvelkids.com for Avengers games and more!

American Idol Stops in Denver. Get your FREE tickets to see the auditions live (but the judges won’t be here). The event will take place at the Denver Coliseum on Friday, July 10. Kids 12+ can go and be part of the filmed audience.

Ace Hardware Highlands Ranch. There is still space for Wednesday’s ladies grill class put on by Chef Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary. Join us July 8 from 11:00-12:30 as he teaches healthier grilling techniques (we’ll have crafts available to keep the kids busy during that time). Then the kids (preferably ages 9+) can take a grill class of their own from 12:30-1:30. Learn more about this great day and reserve your spot here:  http://www.myaceonline.com/girls-grills-class

Ongoing

Free, healthy summer meals for Colorado kids and teens. Summer should be a fun and enriching time for all Colorado children, but for many it represents a time when they are at the greatest risk of hunger due to lost access to school meals. Thanks to a statewide collaboration to address child hunger, 533 community sites across Colorado will provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost this summer.  Colorado families can find nearby summer food sites by using an interactive map at KidsFoodFinder.org or calling the statewide, bilingual Hunger Free Hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626.

Free Outdoors Movies and Concerts. Denver is chock-full of great, talented musicians that play around town for free – and what is better than a movie outdoors on a cool summer night among about 500 of your closest friends? Don’t miss our round-up of free outdoor movies and concerts this summer.

Harkins Summer Movie Fun. Harkins Summer Movie Fun program for kids is back again this year. Kids can enjoy a movie a week for 10 weeks, for less than $1 per film. Make Harkins Summer Movie Fun for kids an annual tradition for your family. All adults must be accompanied by children.  Tickets are on sale now at participating locations. Movies this summer include: Boxtrolls, The Lorax, Rio 2, Dolphin Tale 2, Curious George, Nut Job, Puss in Boots, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Penguins of Madagascar.

Cinemark Movie Clubhouse. There’s nothing quite like spending a hot day in a cool movie theater.Cinemark has a 10-week film fest of its own: $5 for 10 movies when purchased in advance at cinemark.com.  If you delay and purchase at the theater, movies are still just $1. Most locations start on Wednesday, June 2 with screenings starting at 10 a.m. every Tuesday and/or Wednesday. The film line-up includes The Croods, The LEGO Movie, Dolphin Tale 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Penguins of Madagascar, Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chip Wrecked, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and The Nut Job.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading. Kids can earn a free book of their won from Barnes & Noble (one of my favorite stores) in three easy steps. Step 1: Read any 8 books and record them in the Reading Journal (PDF). Step 2: Bring the completed Reading Journal to your local B&N store. (Find a Store). then Step 3: choose a FREE BOOK from our selection on the Reading Journal list at the store… Enjoy reading!

Free Denver Walking Tours Denver parents, kiddos, and visitors alike will be able to see and experience downtown Denver in a new way. They’ll be able to take advantage of Denver Free Walking Tours’ new two hour daily tours that leave at 10 a.m. daily, starting in Civic Center Park, then wind through downtown past more than a dozen of Denver’s distinctive landmarks, and end in front of Coors Field. No reservations needed and tours are every day – rain, snow, or shine.  There’s no up-front cost for this fun, educational opportunity for kids and parents but tipping is strongly recommended. If you’d like a tour specifically geared to your kids, Denver Walking Tours offers group tours for a nominal charge so grab your friends for a fun day of learning this summer!

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

If you’re on Twitter follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Kids Eat Free Mile High Mamas has rounded up a huge listing of local restaurants where kids eat free or for a discount with a paying adult.