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

Why Southwest Airlines Rocks It For Traveling Families!

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Traveling with a family can be tricky. It can be expensive. Things come up. It’s tough to get everyone’s calendars synced. Needs change. Southwest Airlines to the rescue. The fact that Southwest in budget conscious and very flexible make me loyal to this brand. Southwest Airlines really rocks it for families!

Here is why my family loves flying with Southwest Airlines:

  • Change Your Flights Without Fees. Unlike any other domestic airline, you can book flights [paid or points] and then make a change to them up to 10 minutes prior to boarding for FREE. This is golden for my family!
    • I often book flights on Southwest with the idea that we MIGHT go. Sometimes I am just dreaming. Sometimes I need to figure out if this trip works with everyone’s schedules. I book the flights and then figure things out. I can take more than 24 hours that other airlines let me have to get things figured out or wait to see if the other pieces of the trip will come together.
    • For example, we have tickets booked to go from Denver To Salt Lake City this winter because we want to ski at Park City Ski Area. I’m still not sure how the snow will be in Utah, so I’ll sit on these tickets until we have a clearer idea of snow fall, without worrying about change fees. Flexibility is key for my family!
  • Free Checked Bags. You get 2 free checked bags which saves you a bunch over other airlines unless you have elite status or have their credit card.
    • This is self explanatory, but if I was flying on United or other major airline carriers, I would pay a fee per bag if I did not have elite status or their branded credit card. This could cost my family hundreds. I hate to pay extra fees! 
  • Early Bird Check In. You don’t get a seat when you book a flight on Southwest, but you can pay $15 to get their Early Bird Check-In. Since you don’t have assigned seats you can just have one parent go on board early [just pay $15 once] and save seats for the whole family. Everyone does it, so it’s not strange.
    • If cost isn’t an issue then just get everyone in your travel party Early Bird Check-in when you purchase tickets. If you want to save some $ then just divide up your reservation and make sure one parent is going on early to save seats for the entire family.
  • Excellent Value/Use of Points. If you plan ahead, and sometimes last minute, Southwest offers really low cost travel options – which is great for my family of 4!
    • Southwest is a great option any time you are traveling last minute as they are definitely worth checking and at times offer an excellent value.
    • Southwest points are usually a better deal than most other airlines. For example, I wanted to fly from LA to Denver this month [November] and there are plenty of $44 [2002 points] or $79 [4045 points] one way. On United would cost me much more if I purchase a revenue ticket or between 12,000 and 25,000 points one way.
  • Easily Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest Points. If you have a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points you can easily transfer then 1 to 1 and fill up your Southwest points account when you need them most. 

Southwest really works for our family. The things I love the most are their flexibility and low cost/low points. I regularly transfer Ultimate Rewards points into my Southwest account to book flights. I love that I can leave the points in my rewards card until I need them – just in case I need them for some other reason. Southwest just makes my life so simple and helps our family to travel more!

How about the rest of you traveling families – what is your favorite airlines and why? 

Free [or practically free] Skiing/Snowboarding in Colorado for ALL 5th and 6th Graders

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Skiing/Snowboarding Is Free [or almost free] in Colorado! Calling all 5th and 6th graders – you can ski 60+ days this winter for free [or close to free] at 20 Colorado resorts! If you are thinking of skiing/snowboarding in Colorado AND you have a 5th or 6th grader, you are in luck!

The Colorado Passport program is for you – even if you don’t live in Colorado. Live in Massachusetts and want to ski/board in Colorado – your 5th grader skis free. Live in California and you want to ski/board in Colorado – your 6th grader skis almost free. As long as you can prove your child is a 5th or 6th grader they qualify for the 5th & 6th Grade Passport Program! 

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Here is how the 5th & 6th Grade Colorado Passport Program works:

5th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 5th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Ski up to 60 days. That’s right your 5th grader can ski 3 times at all of 20 resorts including: Winter Park, Copper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]!

6th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 6th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Register by November 30, 2016 and pay $105 to ski 80 days. That’s right, your 6th grader can ski 4 times at all of the 20 resorts including: Winter ParkCopper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]! You can still register through January 31, 2017, but the cost goes up to $125. This is still a screaming deal if your child qualifies!

PARENTS/ADULTS/KIDS [Not 5th & 6th graders]

The best way to get a deal on skiing in Colorado [if you aren’t a 5th or 6th grader] is to purchase a pass at any of the mountains at which you plan to ski. People in Colorado know, it makes sense to get a pass. The walk up prices at some of our amazing mountains can easily be over $150/day. I am not kidding! Here are some ideas of passes that might work in conjunction with the Colorado Passport:

Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk: Get a Classic Pass which give you 4-7 days at a serious discount with no blackouts from $199+

Winterpark: Get a Season Pass ahead of time for $429/adults and $249/kids. This also gives you 10 family/friend passes at $69 – $89/day, so maybe you just buy one pass and use the benefits to purchase cheap tickets for other adults skiing with you.

Copper Mountain: Try a Copper 4 Pack for $169/kids & adults. It’s a deal!

PASSPORT PROGRAM MOUNTAINS

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-40-38-amNeed more ideas for how to get your family skiing in Colorado for cheap? Give me a shout – I’m happy to help! -Amanda

Colorado Elementary School Kids: Get 16 free days of skiing at Vail Mountains with their Epic School Kids program

#Skiing #Free #Kids #Families #Colorado #Winter #Snowboarding

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!

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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!]

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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.

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!