Ski Snowmass for $6.50 – Really?!?!

Ski Snowmass for $6.50! Aspen is celebrating their 50th anniversary of Snowmass by charging the same rate they did when they opened. This could be awesome given the right conditions or if you’ve just been waiting for the right time to experience Aspen/Snowmass.

The Good:

  • Spending $6.50 for a day of skiing at Snowmass
  • Fun packed weekend with tons to do in the Aspen Valley

The Bad:

  • Must stay at least 1 night at one of their properties [early season looks to be around $150+]
  • Available only on Friday, December 15, 2017
  • Early season can offer great conditions, but the snow can also be a little sparse.

Looks like they have a lot of activities planned for the whole weekend. Lots of retro fun! Get the details on this deal at Ski Snowmass.

Thanks to Mommypoints for the original post!

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Family Travel to Sayulita, Mexico: A Pueblo Magico for Families!?!?

img_4021We wanted to get out of town – last minute! There was no snow in the mountains and my kids were about to be out of school for 2 1/2 weeks. What to do? Where to go? I started researching about three weeks out. I was sure it was possible to get away with our family of four using miles for travel and points for staying in an Airbnb, but not simple. I did a lot of research and finally landed on flying into Puerto Vallarta [PVR]. My whole family had spent time in Sayulita, Mexico over the years and it seemed like an easy trip that ticked off a lot of the most important travel points for my family:

  1. Travel mainly on miles/points
  2. Surf/beach/warm
  3. Easy non-stop travel

img_3948Having spent a lot of time in Mexico and Central America we knew we could make a quick trip to Sayulita and all get our needs met. Not a tough decision for my family!

Getting There

We flew to Puerto Vallarta on United for 17.5k points and back on Southwest for 9k points [per person]. We got cash in the airport [don’t forget to let your bank know you are traveling] from our ATM card [I recommend using your ATM as they give the best exchange rates]. We actually forgot to tell our bank and we ended up having to call our bank from the airport to get our account unfrozen – just plan ahead and it’s not a problem! We got the kids some snacks and drinks in the airport since we were about to take a cab for at least 45 minutes. We then easily caught a cab right outside the airport for $50 to Sayulita. Super easy! Most hosts can arrange a pick up at the PVR airport – but it will cost a little more.

Sayulita, Mexico

This amazing town has been designated as a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican Government.  It is an easy, non-stop flight from the USA and only 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. It is also a laid back, sweet spot, that offers lots of real Mexico with a lot of the comforts and ease you might expect from a tourist spot.

img_4039The town in small enough that you can stay almost anywhere and be in easy walking distance to the beach. Be aware that there are a lot of places to stay up steep hills just outside of town – okay for adults and teens, but tough on little ones. This time my family really enjoyed staying a little out of town – we stayed on the north end of town, right on the beach, and loved the peace and quiet. It was a flat 5 minute walk into town along the beach or roads just behind our Airbnb. Certainly there was still more than enough going on to keep us entertained – beach, pool, ceviche on the beach, great food, massages, surfing, etc… I did notice that a lot of Gringos rented golf carts – but I like to get my family walking.

img_3965Food: Sayulita has great food options! Check out garlic shrimp on the beach at any of the restaurants, fresh fish at Don Pedros [we indulged and eat at the fanciest Sayulita dining establishment and it was still under $20 for each of us including a delicious swordfish meal, drinks, etc…], and delicious food at almost any turn. Try Choco-Banana for yummy breakfast and deserts. Eat street tacos at Ivan’s in the evening. Tacos at Naty’s during the day is always a great, very inexpensive, meal. Indulge in churros on the street in the evening. The food scene is a feast for your bellies and eyes – kids love it! 

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

Surf: You can rent surf boards of all varieties right on the beach. Look up and down the beach for the best options – prices and quality varied. You can also arrange lessons at many surf shops along the streets right off the beach or at the tents on the beach. One surf school option is Lunazul. The surf was very calm in December, but it can get big!

img_3943Beach: The beach runs along the crescent shaped bay that is Sayulita. It is beautiful, but the sand is a bit rough. In places the beach drops off steeply into the ocean. It’s okay for adults, but overhead for many kids and even teens. You will see people swimming, surfing and paddle boarding all day and into the evening. There is also a riptide that my own child has been saved from by a life guard on this very beach, so be aware. They do have life guards – a lot of beaches don’t! 

Housing: I love using Airbnb for housing – especially in small towns where I cannot use points or when I want a more local experience. Our options were limited because we were booking over the Christmas Break and we booked so last minute. But there were plenty of options on Airbnb. Also try VRBO and SayulitaLife for booking housing and all things Sayulita. With kids I always look for a pool in addition to the ocean since the surf can be exhausting to kids and sometimes it’s nice to get a break. It’s also nice to have air-conditioning in the bedrooms [even in December, but during warmer weather I think it’s essential!]. We booked with Airbnb for under $190/night, last minute, in high season and this included a pool and was steps from the beach. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it had everything we needed! 

img_4018There are a few different options for housing in Sayulita:

  • In-town – convenient, but noisy and often cramped
  • North of town – quieter, 5+ minute walk to town [can easily rent a golf cart for young kids or grandparents]
  • Gringo Hill [or neighborhoods off the river] – these can be beautiful views, but a long walk, and very steep [double check this option for kids and grandparents]
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The Ally Cat

Explore: 

  • Take a quick trip to Punta Mita which offers beginner surf breaks that are long, long, long.
  • Sail to the Marietta Islands with the Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. This was a super fun, all day excursion that included lots of sailing, food, drinks, whale watching, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jumping from the ship into the ocean below.
  • Take a hike to Playa de Los Muertos – this is a hidden beach within walking distance to Sayulita even with kids. Walk out of town along the road that parallels the beach past Villa Amor. Head up over the hill past the cemetery on your left and down to a secluded beach – sometimes it doesn’t feel so secluded, but it’s certainly more private than the Sayulita beach.

The Good

  • Easy, direct flights to PVR and simple to transfer to Sayulita
  • Good food and easy to find
  • Reasonably priced – the flights, housing, and especially food!
  • The North side of Sayulita – we loved it! Good food, quiet beaches, peaceful evenings, etc…
  • It’s easy to get around without a lot of Spanish language skills. I also see this as a negative for those of us who want to practice our Spanish.

The Bad

  • It was packed! So many, many tourists. I would say you can expect an equal number gringos and Mexican tourists in December. The summers are relatively empty there, but humid.
  • The beach is okay, but it is so crowded that there are literally umbrellas touching one another for 100s of yards, and stacked 6 deep, in the main part of town
  • You have to say, “No, gracias” so many times when you are near the beach because so many people are walking around selling their wares.
  • Too easy to speak English in this town that is used to tourists.

 

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Sayulita, Mexico. I do agree that it is a Pueblo Magico!

BVSD Open Enrollment Deadline Is Almost Here

Open Enrollment. These two words bring strong emotions to the parents of Boulder. For some who chose to enroll their kids in their neighborhood school, open enrollment in the Boulder Valley School District [BVSD] is not a big deal. Phew! For the 40% of Boulder families who do open enroll our children it can be stressful.

So what is open enrollment in BVSD? Any child can go to any school based on availability by entering their child into the lottery system called, Open Enrollment. All families in BVSD can look at all schools to see which one seems to meet their child[ren]’s needs best. There are many choices [charter schools, focus schools, and neighborhood schools] and each has it’s benefits and drawbacks. But ultimately many Boulderites choose to open enroll their children in an attempt to try and find the best fit. For more details on open enrollment click here.

BVSD Open Enrollment Dates:

November 7, 2016 through January 9, 2017

Finding the BVSD school that is the right fit – School Tours:

All BVSD schools offer school tours during the open enrollment process. To tour a school you need to go during their scheduled school tours. To find open enrollment school tours dates/times – BVSD Open Enrollment Tours

There are two main types of BVSD schools:

Neighborhood Schools: These are the schools that are designated for your neighborhood. Your child can always get into these schools if you live within the boundaries. You DO NOT need to open enroll to these schools if you are in the neighborhood, but you CAN if you want your child to go to the school, but you are NOT in the designated boundary.

Focus/Charter Schools: These are open enrollment schools that serve ALL of BVSD. There are NO designated neighborhood boundaries for Focus and Charter schools. You MUST open enroll to these schools. 

To help you visualize the open enrollment process here is the BVDS open enrollment flow chart [the one they have up is from last year, so the dates are incorrect, but the content is good otherwise]:

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Preschools: For Boulder Families with younger children there are a few schools that have open enrollment options for preschool, such as Community Montessori. For these schools, open enrolling at preschool age is the best way to secure a slot for your child. So even if your child is too young for elementary schools, taking a look at the open enrollment process can be really helpful.

Other Open Enrollment Considerations: Likewise, the award winning Peak to Peak Charter School has open enrollment policies that favor those who have applied many times. They are all a bit different, so it is best to do your research!

Open enrollment happens for a limited time. You MUST apply to open enroll your child by January 9, 2017 to get into the lottery. To get an open enrollment application head to the BVSD website. Good luck to everyone open enrolling a child this year!

I am always happy to answer questions from my personal experience with kids in #BVSD and the Open Enrollment process. Email me at amanda@boulderfamilies.com

Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

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Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

My family loves traveling! For us it is infinitely better when that travel is free/cheap. It just feels good! Here is one way our family of four has managed to make travel really affordable – we Airbnb our house whenever we are gone. Yup, we “move out” of our house for as short as a 3 day stay. It can be scary to step into the sharing economy and invite other people into your house I get it, but with a little trust most people are really happy with the results.

Renting our house on Airbnb made us feel like we hit the jackpot!

A Recent Airbnb Cheap Travel Example

My kids want to learn to surf. We live in Colorado. Let’s go to San Diego! We booked tickets early so got a great deal on Southwest [we had points to burn from a credit card sign up] and booked our return using miles on United. So no direct cost for travel. We then rented a car – we used Amex points for 1/2 the car so it was super reasonable [cost us

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

$130 for the week]. We rented a house in Encinitas, a block to the beach, for $250/night which turned out to be one of our biggest expenses. This is where it gets good – we concurrently rented our house in Boulder for $250/night. This was basically a wash though we paid a bit to Airbnb for the transaction on both ends. The costs for our week surfing trip – above our normal expenses – was surf lessons and 1/2 the car. And a few t-shirts the kids picked up along the way. This works for me – I’m ready to book another trip pronto!

Here is how you can make Airbnb work for your family

We hosted our first Airbnb guest last summer. It was a leap of faith but we were traveling for six weeks [internationally] and it just seemed one of our biggest resources was going to be left on the table. We jumped in with both feet and listed!

Then we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Then it happened, someone reached out about renting for a week. I looked up their profile and she had just joined Airbnb and had no reviews. Yikes! We exchanged emails multiple time and finally I felt comfortable accepting her housing request.

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Get your property listed

  1. List your property on Airbnb. It’s free and easy to list your property. You need to take some photos and think about exactly how you want to describe your property. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be honest. What is great about your location? Are there any drawbacks? Don’t advertise something you don’t have. Remember people will rate you and good ratings are the key to success in this endeavor.
  2. Set your price. This is a bit tricky. Do some research. Look around on Airbnb for houses near you. What are they listing their places for? Does the price fluctuate based on events nearby? What price would make it feel fair for you to move out and share your home with others? It’s not a science – trust your gut.
  3. Set your calendar. List the dates your home is available and the price for those dates. For example, during the Ironman in Boulder, CO, the prices can be set higher as there are no hotels available in the city.
  4. Do you need a rental license? In a lot of cities they are starting to make anyone renting their space out get a rental license – even for short-term rentals. If you are only renting once or twice your compliance is up to you. In Boulder, CO it costs $130 for a rental license for four [4] years – not too bad.
  5. Make a plan for getting your home organized/cleaned. We only rent out 3 of our 4 bedrooms so we can keep one for our stuff. We put a lock on the door to the extra bedroom. When we have renters, everyone gets a moving box, and then empty their rooms of valuables, things that are sentimental, and their closets. These boxes are packed up and put in the locked bedroom. We use one size box and make it super simple. We declutter and organize somewhat so it’s easy for anyone to enjoy the house. We hire a cleaning person to clean after we leave before anyone rents.
  6. Have a local contact. When we were out of the country we had a local friend act as the renters’ contact person. They were on call if anyone needed them and they walked through the house between renters to make sure it was all in order after the cleaners came in.
  7. Review your guests. Airbnb will ask you to review your guests. Your guests will also review you. This is a very important step in the sharing economy process – making things transparent. The guest won’t see your review until they have reviewed you, so feel free to be honest. I like to focus on the positive, but I won’t hesitate to mention something that could be improved. When you review each other, your reviews will then be public for everyone to read. Having positive reviews will increase your traffic and interest in your property.

Get the kids bought in! 

Our boys are okay with this plan as they have done it for a long time. They think it’s normal.  When we started renting out our house when we traveled we offered that we would give our boys something they wanted if we rented the house out for X days. It worked. They cleaned their rooms out well and spent the time rooting for us to get that extra week. We did get that extra week and we rewarded our kids!

Dream about your vacation!

If you don’t already have a vacation planned, head over to Airbnb or Trip Advisor and poke around. They have great suggestions and ideas of what to do in all these locations. I got a 10 page booklet about what to do in and around San Diego when we booked our trip to Encinitas. Also, hosts offer guidebooks which often tell you a lot about what to do in and around their property. It can be a helpful process as you clarify your travel plans.

Please share your experiences!

Have you had experiences sharing/renting your family home? Would you do it again? Are their other options beyond Airbnb and VRBO that are family friendly? Please share!

Questions about family travel, how to Airbnb your place, or anything else, give me a shout at Email Amanda

 

Family-Friendly Halloween Events – In and Around Boulder

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Halloween is around the corner! Can’t wait? Don’t know what kids do on Halloween around Boulder? Take a look at what’s brewing…

  • Munchkin Masquerade: Head to the Pearl Street Mall for safe & fun trick or treating! Each year, Downtown Boulder is invaded by thousands of tiny ghosts & goblins, dinosaurs & dragons, fairies & princes, super heroes and animals of every size trick-or-treating along Pearl Street.  Recommended for children ages 12 and under. More info here
  • Halloween Journey: Truly a magical, one-of-a-kind, halloween experience for kids! The Boulder Valley Waldorf School campus is transformed into a magical world through which children and parents may travel. The individual presentations touch hearts with messages of wisdom and humor, and images of light that will live on through the cold and dark season of the year. This enchanting experience is lovely alternative to the popular and often gory Halloween experience of modern culture. Purchase tickets ahead of time – they sell out! More info here
  • Longmont Halloween Parade and Trick or Treat Street: Fun parade for all ages! Dress up in your Halloween Costume, march on Main Street and visit Downtown participating merchants for Trick or Treat Street immediately following the parade. Kids of all ages can be a part of this costume foot parade. No registration is required!  Strollers or wagons are recommended for tiny feet. Dogs must be leashed. 9:30 am Line-up in front of the St. Vrain Memorial Building, 700 Longs Peak Ave. 10:00 am Foot Parade Start!  Come in costume! More info here
  • Louisville’s Monster Dash: A kids fun run, 5k and 10k
    Come enjoy 2 fast, trail courses out on the Coal Creek Trails of Louisville. The 5k Fun Run will have just a 175 foot elevation gain out East on the trail, and the 10k Trail Race will head West on the trail through 3 parks, a small pond and some single-track…..look out for the Witches. More info here
  • Louisville Halloween Festival and Trick-or-Treat: Trick or treating & activities for the whole family! The 6th Annual Halloween Festival will feature over 25 vendors, arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, Witch “Crafts” and games inside the Pinball Shoppe. Post event activities will include BBQ Hot Dogs, costume contests and post Party at Pinball Shoppe. Kids Trick-or-Treating is in Old Town from 5pm-6pm with more stores providing activities and treats this year. More info here

What else is out there for kids and families on Halloween? Where are you going? What are you doing? Let me know and I’ll make sure to help get the word out about all the great family-friendly Halloween events around town.

ALL Colorado K-5th Grade Kids Get 16 days of FREE Skiing! Find out how…

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Elementary kids in Colorado – It’s your lucky day! Colorado elementary school kids don’t have to wait until they are in 5th/6th grade to get their own ski pass – Vail Resorts’ Epic School Kids now offers FREE skiing to ALL elementary school children.

The catch? Get your kids registered by October 8, 2016!

Q: WHAT IS THE EPIC SCHOOL KIDS?

Epic School Kids is a FREE program for Kindergarten through 5th graders that provides skiing and riding at some of Colorado’s best areas – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone. That means 4 days of FREE Skiing at each area or 16 days in all.

The pass also includes one FREE first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.

Q: ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS?

The following are blackout dates: 11/25/16-11/26/16, 12/26/16-12/31/16, 1/14/17 and 2/18/17-2/19/17

Q. HOW CAN PARENTS ENROLL THEIR CHILDREN IN EPIC SCHOOL KIDS?

Parents can take their children to a participating Front Range Colorado Ski & Golf, or Boulder Ski Deals location to register their child in person. In Boulder – just head to Boulder Ski Deals. Take a look at what you need to bring below.

Want more details? Epic School Kids

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

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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

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

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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? 

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

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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