My Family Scored 4 Round Trip Tickets for Under $150!

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.08.14 PM

What summer isn’t complete [when you live in landlocked Colorado] without spending time in the ocean? So my family of four decided to head to San Diego for a week of surfing. And we are doing it for around $50 [total of fees paid for all tickets] plus a $95 annual fee, so a total cost of $145. How? We signed up for a credit card through Southwest Airlines, spent $2,000 on the card and viola – we are heading to surf this summer! My favorite part is that we have lots of flexibility in our itinerary – just in case something changes – and there aren’t tons of extra fees like we would pay with other low cost airlines. Flexibility and No Extra Fees = Awesome!

I value these tickets at around $200/piece so I would say we got approximately $800 of value out of one single credit card sign up. Is this the best credit card perk I have ever received? No. But it is up there. Southwest points are really valuable!

I decided to get the Southwest card after I flew to Phoenix for a soccer tournament and realized what a great option they are. Their prices were good. The points they charge are usually reasonable compared to the general market. And the most important part to me and my family – Southwest tickets are ultra flexible. As long as you cancel or change your ticket within 10 Minutes of departure time there are no fees involved on Southwest. No fees – they just redeposit your points or refund your dollars. On United we would pay a $150 change fee each or over $100 to put our points back in our account if we were not taking that same route in the future. Flexibility rocks for Family Travel! 

One trick on Southwest – book your tickets as early as possible. I’ve found tickets for as low 5,500 points to travel Denver to Seattle or 7,000 points Denver to San Diego. Round trip for under 15,000 points – I’m in – but reserve them early! 

Do you like flying Southwest? Any tips or tricks for getting the most out of flying Southwest?

Living With Kids: Design Mom Explores the Intersection of Modern Living and Raising a Family

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.00.38 AM

Photo Credit: Design Mom

I am inspired by Design Mom‘s series – Living With Kids. This is an ongoing series where Design Mom takes you on a photographic tour of different families with children, their homes, their design sense, their stories, and how all these aspects of life weave together to create each unique family situation. It is so simple and yet so compelling to read the Living With Kids series. You get to catch a glimpse of someone else’s complicate, beautiful, intense, awesome, family life. Sort of voyeuristic, butnot in a creepy way!

Take a minute out of your day and take a tour of families in the series Living With Kids: www.designmom.com/category/living-with-kids-house-tour/

What do you think of theseScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.54.58 AM photojournalistic tours of the world of raising our families? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

#Boulder #Design #Kids

Enjoy Family Fun – All Summer Long With Meadow Music

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.12.52 AM

Hey Boulder Families – Don’t miss out on live, educational, engaging music at Chautauqua this summer! Meadow Music is an award winning environmental education program offered for free in Boulder, Colorado. Join Jeff & Paige for FREE concerts and a hike throughout the summer at Chautauqua. Meadow Music happens most Monday evenings in the summer from June-August.

This event is free to the public thanks to the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Division!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.24.25 AM

Meadow Music Details: Meet at 5:30pm to start a short hike that’s friendly to all ages – Map Here.  The hike takes about 30 minutes because of all the little legs that join it, but all ages should be able to accomplish the task. Along the way we’ll look for our color of the week and at the end our hike we’ll sing a song to bring out our animal of the week–Coyote Bob, Ranger Paula, or The Black Bear…

After the hike you will return to the Chautauqua Green for a concert full of Jeff & Paige’s original nature and science-based music. The concert starts around 6:00pm and ends by about 7:00. Bring a blanket to sit on, a picnic and some silliness.

Read more about Meadow Music here.

For a full concert calendar and to plan your next visit to Meadow Music visit the calendar.

#Boulder #Colorado #Getoutdoors

Why I Am Getting My Kids Outdoors This Summer!

IMG_2813

Boulder County is a mecca of outdoor activities. Why is it that we parents find ourselves begging our kids to get off technology on a regular basis? At least I do. I love getting my kids out the door and into the backyard, on a hike, on their mountain bikes, or anywhere other than indoors as often as possible!

The summer is a great time to get the kids outside and engaged in authentic learning opportunities – the kind that present themselves all the time in the outdoors. I get the brochures for STEM and engineering focused camps and these all look amazing, but I say summer is a time to get outside, leave the traditional classroom behind, and explore a more authentic and engaging “classroom” in the outdoors. This summer I’m getting my kids out the door and learning more about themselves through outdoor experiences! It is time to get our kids out the door and into the outdoors this summer!

Authentic outdoor education programs offer our kids incredible opportunities to push themselves and develop the whole person by allowing them to:

  • Be without technology and fully engage!
  • Build confidence and grit doing things things that are fun but tough!
  • Be bold and try new things! 
  • Engage in healthy risk taking – the activities have high perceived risk, but low real danger!

The outdoors is a seriously powerful tool for personal growth and empowerment for our kids! I want my kids to face challenges and learn that they can push through them. I want my kids to have to engage fully by leaving all the distractions of technology behind. I also know with two boys they need outlets for taking risks in a healthy environment. I believe these are all best accomplished through purposeful engagement in outdoor adventures. This is why I’m turning to some engaging outdoor opportunities for my kids this summer. Let the outdoors be their teacher!

There are so many ways to get our kids going – even at really young ages! Think of the options: Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Biking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Hiking, Mountaineering, and many many more! Get the kids out there however you do it – on your own or with a camp program this summer. Of course it depends on how old your kids are and their innate interests, but you can find so many opportunities for authentic learning in the outdoors around Boulder County!

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 3.32.30 PM

Photo Credit to Avid4 Adventure

I did some research and I found Avid4 Adventure. I knew they were around but I had not really looked at outdoor camps until now. This summer my 12 year old will be rock climbing with Avid 4 – scaling walls and meeting new friends. He will be scaling walls and pushing himself beyond the limits he currently perceives. He will be getting out of his comfort zone. He will be getting scraped up. He will be exhausted when he gets home after long hikes to climbing spots. I believe he will come back each day with his cup full of life and ready for more adventures. Here’s to summer outdoor adventures! 

More details about Avid4 Adventure in case you think your kids are ready for an outdoor challenge this summer. They offer really professional programs and believe in authentic education through outdoor adventures. Avid4 offers day and overnight programs for all outdoor enthusiast kids and those who just want to dip their toes in the water so to speak. I love Avid4’s philosophy and professionalism! Check out their great general [kids try a little of everything] and sport specific outdoor programs for kids pre-K through 11th grade at their two Boulder County bases of operation:

Avid4 Adventure offers camps out of two local locations that may be interesting for Boulder Families – Boulder Camps and Lafayette Camps @ Avid4 Adventure

Are your kids going to camp this summer? Any great outdoor learning experiences to share with the rest of us?

#Kids #SummerCamp #Summer #Boulder #GetOutdoors

You Can Still “Google It” When Traveling Out Of The Country: Otherwise I’d be lost half the time!

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.48.55 AM

It’s hard to imagine life before Google Maps. Wondering how long it will take between one location and the other? Google it. Wondering how bad the traffic is? Google it. But what about when we are traveling and have limited data plans? Can you use Google then? Yes!

How To Use Google Maps With Limited Data

The great news is Google Maps can be used by turning on your data plan briefly. Googling your location and where you wish to go. Once Google has located you and your desired location then you can turn off data. Yup, just turn it off. Your phone has a GPS built in and even with data turned off you can still use the Google Map function to find your way around. It is like magic!

This past summer we were in Paris. I don’t know my way around Paris. I also don’t really like to be pulling out my map a lot and looking like a silly tourist. Though map reading is an important skill that I like to teach my kids, when I’m in a big city on foot I really like to know where I am. Even with a very limited data plan on my iPhone I used it to navigate by foot all around the city using the Google Map strategy outlined above. I felt so much more comfortable knowing I had Google Maps when I needed to cheat and take a look at where I was or where I was heading.

On the other hand getting “lost” together can be a big learning experience and a fun adventure for the whole family if you have the time and no one is melting down. So, maybe turn off Google Maps at times and get lost. Don’t worry about exactly where you are as long as you are all together. This is one of my favorite parts of family travel time!

How to you navigate around foreign cities these days? Are there other apps we should know about? 

#Travel #FamilyTravel #Paris #France #Kids #Families

2016-17 Ski Passes: Family Deals Are Happening Right Now!

IMG_0388

What are the best ski deals for families right now? There are some good ones that are time limited, so it may be time to get your passes soon. Don’t delay, the best deals are in the Spring when these areas are trying to entice you to purchase for the 2016-17 ski season.

Rocky Mountain Super Pass+*

Included: Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Eldora, and days at Steamboat, Crested Butte and some others

Cost: $499/adult, $409/teen, $299/child [The price of these passes are only guaranteed through April 5, 2016.]

KIDS SKI FREE! One free child pass [12 & under] with the purchase of an adult RMSP and RMSP+ until June 1, 2016. 

*You can purchase the regular Rocky Mountain Super Pass, but it’s the same price as the RMSP+, so I think it’s a clear decision. 

 

Mountain Collective

This is a new one to me, but might be attractive to some adventurous, traveling families. The Mountain Collective gives you 2 free passes to 12 areas in the United States so 24 days of skiing if you can make it to all locations. Think Alta, Whistler/Blackcomb, Taos, and many more! The only local areas are those in Aspen. But if you are ready to go to the snow, this pass may be a fun one to add to your list.

Cost:$379/adult, $1/child

KIDS SKI FREE! Their child pass is $1 when you purchase an adult pass [limited time]. 

 

Vail Resorts/Epic School Kids

The Epic Pass products are on sale. Again this year they will be offering their Epic School Kids program which offers children through 5th grade a pass that allowed them to ski free for 4 days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge. Not too bad! Time to get on this one as this is a limited time offer and there were lots of families sad about not jumping on this one earlier!

The other thing to consider is adults need to get passes that align with these free kids’ passes, so you want to look at the whole package.

KIDS SKI FREE! 4 free days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge

What passes will your family get?

 

Podcasts Are Rocking My World!

Podcasts App

Podcasts App

Podcasts are rocking my world! I know they have been around for years, but recently I finally figured them out. I love them for these five reasons that may appeal to other parents:

  • Learn something new. Honestly, if I want to learn about history – cue up the podcast. If I want to get some parenting wisdom – cue up the podcast. If I want to relax – cue up the podcast. They are sort of miraculous!
  • Put me to [back to] sleep. I have a few podcasts I use to help me go to sleep – or go back to sleep if I wake up in the middle of the night. I leave my phone by the bedside with my earbuds attached. If I wake up, I pop on one of my cued up podcasts, and I’m back off to sleep. I don’t remember a word of the podcast, but they work without fail to get me off to sleep.
  • Get exercise. I often cue up a podcast and go out on a run. I’m learning so much!
  • Get things done. I get into listening to my podcasts and find myself folding the laundry. It’s one of my least favorite tasks and yet I find [more] time for it when I’m listening to a podcast.
  • Family Time. Driving up to the mountains each weekend skiing we try to listen to a podcast together. Yup, the kids are interested and learning some really interesting things!

How to get your hands on some cool podcasts? Here you go…

  1. Download the podcast app for your smart phone. Just search “podcast” and it will come up in the iTunes or Android stores. It’s a free download.
  2. Do some research on podcasts you may like – try Google searching “podcast” and anything else [parenting, exercise, mindfulness, love, etc…]
  3. Some fun podcast ideas:
    1. Modern Love
    2. Mom and Dad Are Fighting – by Slate 
    3. Smart People
    4. NPR: Parenting
    5. TED Talks – Ideas worth sharing
    6. This American Life

What podcasts do you enjoy? 

Family-Friendly Boulder Area Tours [that are FREE too!]

celestial seasoning

Looking for something a bit different to do with your family during the week or on the weekend? Check out these free local tours…

Celestial Seasonings Tour: Learn how tea is harvested, blended, packaged and makes its way to market. This is a 45 minute tour that leaves on the hour every day of the week. The tour is free and includes samples. Kids of all ages enjoy this tour!

NCAR Self-Guided Tour & Weather Hike: NCAR provides a building full of things to discover for kids and adults alike. Kids can explore many things related to weather in this hands on setting. There is also a short weather hike right above the building. Bring a picnic lunch and eat outside or plan to eat in their cafeteria. The tour is free and exhibits are open when the building is. Our family loves visiting NCAR!

Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art & Sculpture Garden: Explore paintings and statues of Western life and art. This is a relatively extensive collection of art and it is always free to visit.

CU Museum of Natural History: The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History is located on the University of Colorado main campus. The Museum offers a wide range of special events and educational programs throughout the year. Permanent exhibition galleries feature paleontology, zoology, anthropology and the children’s Discovery Corner. Three galleries offer changing exhibits on a variety of topics. The museum is very family-friendly and admission is free. Open 7 days a week.

Interested in other FREE opportunities happening around town? See the Denver Free Days List for museums and attractions along the Front Range.

Hike. Bike. Swim. Fish. Run. Play. Let’s Get Every Kid In A Park! 4th Graders and Their Families Get Into National Parks For Free

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.22.34 PM

Every Kid in a Park! Great idea! Every Kid in a Park is a program of the United States Government to get kids outside and enjoying our national treasures! And 4th graders get a FREE PASS. That means that you can get outside and enjoy our country’s national parks as often as you like – for free! You and your family get free access to hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for an entire year or through August 31 after your 4th grade school year.

Every Kid in a Park Official Rules

Plan Your Trip

Your Every Kid in a Park pass will be really handy for current fourth graders this summer! Sticking Around Boulder This Summer? Exploring Colorado? Traveling Around The Country? Explore where your pass can take you – Plan Your Trip

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.27.41 PMUse Your Pass

  • Show your pass to a ranger when you enter. If no ranger, leave it on the dashboard of your car.
  • The pass admits all children under 16, up to three adults & a vehicle – free!
  • The pass DOES NOT cover local, city or state parks and recreation areas
  • Full details on how to use the pass – How to use my Every Kid in a Park pass

Family-Friendly Ideas for Engaging Kids in Parks

  • National Parks’ Junior Ranger program: Very fun and engaging way to get kids ages 5-13 learning about our National Parks. Interested youth complete a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. This is a free program and open to all ages. Junior Ranger Program Info.

“Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans” – PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Want To Get Out Of Town? How To Find “Last Minute” Spring Break Flight Options

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.36.32 PM

If you just realized that in a bit over a month your kids will be off school for a whole week [Spring Break] and you are dreaming of getting out of town with your crew, then this post is for you! If you are considering a beach vacation or visiting family and you need to find a flight I suggest trying Google Flights – http://www.gooogle.com/flights.

Google Flights is one of my favorite ways to find good flight deals. You cannot purchase flights at this site – but this powerful search engine finds you great flight options you can compare from many, many, many airlines. Then you just head over to the airline site and book your tickets out of town.

My city of origin is Denver and I used the search to look at North American flight options for my kids’ Spring Break which is the week of March 21. This is what I found when I searched in a very general way. It gets my creative travel ideas going…

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.31.19 PM

 

When I added the option of searching by the same dates and origin, but saying I want to go to a beach in North America this is what comes up. Again it gives me some great options and gets me thinking…

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 3.29.41 PM

Here is how you search for flights on Google Flights:

  1. Go to www.google.com/flights
  2. Enter your city of origin
  3. Fixed Dates and Travel Destination: If you know where you want to go enter your destination city and your dates of travel
  4. Fixed Dates but Open to Many Destinations: If you do not know where you want to go enter your dates of travel and scroll down to the map feature. Click on the map feature and you can see what your cost for travel will be. This is my favorite as it gives you lots of options.
  5. You can get more specific by listing general “Places” you want to go and/or your “Interests” for travel. You can also not if you want to travel for a specific duration.
  6. Try it out! It’s really cool. And it gets you thinking about your options for travel where ever you want to go…
  7. Have any questions about using Google Flights or searching for reasonable family travel options? Give me a shout at info@boulderfamilies.com

Happy Family Traveling!