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

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

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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…

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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…

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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! 

Zika Virus and Travel: What’s A Family To Do?

It is no secret that the CDC has issued a travel warning for pregnant women considering traveling to infected areas of the world. In fact many airlines are offering refunds for travelers wanting to change plans based on the Zika Virus. It’s not clear how Zika is impacting travel and specifically families who are traveling. It is clear that the virus is spreading rapidly and to some of my favorite places to travel!

Zika Infected Areas

The most infected areas are shown here:

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Zika infected areas include [but are not limited to]:

  1. Cape Verde
  2. Caribbean
  3. Central America
  4. South America
  5. Mexico
  6. Samoa

Infection and Prevention

It seems only 1 in 5 adults infected with the Zika Virus show symptoms which are reported to be flu-like. The biggest issue is for pregnant women because there Zika could increase the risk of birth defects in unborn children. But what about babies? Young kids? Teens? The list goes on.

Since Zika is transmitted by mosquitos it is important to prevent being bitten. How do you do that? Outside Magazine online has some great suggestions:

  1. Use repellents that contain at least 20% deet
  2. Cover up with clothing
  3. Stay inside at high mosquito times of day [dawn/dusk]
  4. Use permethrin-treated clothing

Also, Consumer Reports just published a review of mosquito repellents that best protect against Zika. These are all ways to control your exposure to mosquitos and Zika virus. And the CDC has plenty of reading on the issue including an CDC FAQ page.

Will Zika impact your family travel plans?