How To Make A Curious George Birthday Cake

When Trevor turned 4, he was so excited to have a Curious George birthday party. I figured a monkey-face cake couldn’t be *that* difficult… but all it takes is a Google search to prove me wrong! I found “George” cakes that looked like pigs and dogs and bears. Big ears, no ears, Oreo cookie eyes. Some did look like monkeys, but finding a true likeness of the one-and-only Curious George was decidedly hard to come by. I’ll take the challenge!

The very best Curious George birthday cake I came across was on My Blessed Mess. And so, careful to keep the frosting off my open laptop, here’s what I came up with. You need one batch of cake, white frosting, chocolate frosting, and a black or very dark brown frosting in a bag with a small round tip. You could also use a writing gel or similar.

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With one yellow cake mix, I made a 9″ round cake, two regular size muffins, and a dozen mini-cupcakes. Flour the round pan well or use a parchment round on the bottom. I could have put a little more batter in the round pan and a little less in the two muffins.

The mini-cupcakes were basically using up leftover batter since one mix makes enough for 2 round pans. Bake the extra however you want.

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Yay, out of the pan without sticking! You want to cool the round cake with the rounded “top” facing up.

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Next, use globs of frosting to glue the ears on George. You’ll need to cut the muffins down to size. I cut off the rounded muffin top and some off the side of each one. Not pictured: scraps I snacked on. Take your time with placement. They are not exactly centered on the sides of the face but rather slightly below center. (See finished photo at the bottom.) Honestly I think mini-size muffins would work fine here. My George’s ears were on the large side.

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Time to mix up some face paint. Take a scoop of vanilla frosting out of the tub and add a scoop of chocolate. Stir stir stir.

Before you get crazy here, take a toothpick and gently draw the face outline in the top of the cake. Notice that the sides dip in very close to the tops of the ears. This photo is angled slightly so see the next photo for a better look. Ok, now you can frost the tan center of the face.

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Frost the dark chocolate next and the ears last. Be careful with the ears. You don’t frost dark brown to the edge of the round cake. Better take a toothpick and draw part of the ear onto the top of the round cake first.

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So far so good, but so far yet to go! Here’s where I started feeling uncertain of my novice cakery skills. Deep breath. Use the toothpick to draw if you need to. Take some reserved white frosting for the whites of the eyes. Many cakes I saw had horrific eyes. Mine turned out slightly different from each other but I claim it added character. Whatever you do, don’t make them too big, and please don’t use Oreos!

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I practiced my black piping on a saucer. Ok, it wasn’t actually black but very dark chocolate “brownie topping” I picked up on clearance one fine day. Been in the pantry for ages, gooey and hard to squeeze. How nice that my round frosting tip fit perfectly.

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Did you catch the outline of the eyes? Don’t complete the circles. Notice where the nose lines up with the eyes and ears. See how low and wide the smile is. Have fun, George is smiling at you!

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I was so pleased with the result that I took a picture to show off all the fingerprints on the plate. Anyway, the Birthday Boy was very happy with it.

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Happy Birthday Trevor!

 

Granola 777

The 777 represents the bake time combination, flavor perfection, and infinite variety possible.

Syrup:

  • 1/4 C butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 2 T brown sugar

Cereal:

  • 4 C rolled grains (oats and spelt are good)
  • 1/3 C wheat germ
  • 1/3 C oat bran

Optional:
Choose a few or think up your own…

  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T raw sesame or flax seeds
  • 1/4 C raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  • 1/2 C wide coconut flakes
  • 2/3 C puffed rice
  • 1/2 C raisins or chopped dried fruit
  • 3 oz bag Apple Chips, gently crumbled

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter, vanilla, honey, and brown sugar over
medium heat and set aside. Mix the rolled grains, wheat germ, oat bran, and
optional add-ins except raisins/fruits. Pour syrup over cereal and mix well.
Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan. Bake 7 minutes,
then stir. Repeat twice for a total of 21 minutes. It’s done when it starts
to brown, so watch the last few minutes. Cool the pan on a rack. The granola
will get crunchy as it cools. Add optional fruits and store airtight.

Aspen Vision

heart-leaves drying, rustling
in filling wind, falling to earth, grounding
of course I love you

I love you like sunshine
makes my closed eyelids glow red
warms the air and my forehead
defines the dancing shadows of the aspen branches
their shaky leaves, ready to fly

Jesus, what do I need?
Red. Close your eyes in the sun.
Red – Blood Red.

flowering red, fractal red
sometimes the truth is hard to hear
sometimes hard to see through

Lord, shine your blood-red sunlight
into the deep of me
the hidden heart
the part shaped like a rock
where will set the Stone that bears my
True Name
known only by you

lucent ruby in a gold coronet
revealing my worth:

I am Beloved.

Black Hills Gold

Camping in South Dakota – pics only until I have more time…
click any image to view larger

July 5-8, 2012

Mount Bierstadt, Been There, Done That

I climbed my second 14er at the end of June: Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,060 feet. Wow, what a beautiful ascent with a great group of hikers from Northern Colorado Adventurers. We started hiking at 6:43 am.

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Mt. Evans, The Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt

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Moose

There were a mother and baby moose sighted at the parking lot (which I missed) and then five more shortly after we got going.

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Boardwalk through the “willows”

Roach calls this “the willows” in his quintessential guide book Colorado’s 14ers and I see the same description online, but isn’t it manzanita? (Go ahead and set me straight in the comments.)

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Moose at Lake 11510

The topo maps I consulted labeled this pretty pool merely “11510″ which I presume to be the elevation. I shall henceforth call it Moose Lake. Can you see all five moose in the photo?

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Still far away

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View across the willows

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Final pitch to the summit

We reached the summit in 2 hours and 21 minutes, the last 20 of which were spent climbing the final pitch above.

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I made it! Bierstadt summit with Mt. Evans behind

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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View from Mt. Bierstadt summit

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Not too cloudy but very crowdy on top

This time I remembered to sign the summit register. However, I couldn’t locate the geo marker despite being told I had hiked right over it.

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Mt. Evans & Abyss Lake from Bierstadt

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Another flattering Bierstadt summit shot

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Dave, who hiked with me most of the way

In our group of eight attempting Bierstadt, Dave & I ended up pacing ahead of the rest on the way up. We were on the summit nearly half an hour and ready to start down when the rest of the group arrived (minus one who had turned back early).

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Northern Colorado Adventurers on Mt. Bierstadt

So our summit stay clocked in at 37 minutes. I felt great and didn’t want to leave. I checked my step counter before heading down at 9:41 and it said 12,025 steps.

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Sawtooth between Bierstadt & Evans

Six more Northern Colorado Adventurers had hit the trail earlier than we to climb Bierstadt, cross the Sawtooth, and claim Evans as well.

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View toward Guanella Pass & parking area

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Headed down

I’ll be honest, my knees weren’t happy by this point. Thank God for trekking poles and ibuprofen, but still. I’m a very slow descender. If this tested Dave’s patience, he was extremely good natured about it. Several from the later summit group passed us on the way down, and somewhere I traded hiking partners.

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Looking back at the Sawtooth as clouds gathered

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Dog crossing Scott Gomer Creek

Scott Gomer Creek was easy to cross on stepping stones. This dog was happy to frolic a little in the cool.

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Final view of Mt. Evans, the Sawtooth, Mt. Bierstadt, and Moose Lake

I returned at 12:17 for a total time of 5 hours, 34 minutes, step counter boasting a whopping 23,498 clicks. The round trip is officially 7 miles, plus summit exploration. (Math trivia: coming down took me 15 minutes longer than going up, courtesy of creaky knees.)

The flashing lights of two emergency vehicles greeted us. We deduced that a search had been initiated. It began to sprinkle as we all waited in line at the outhouse, and just as we were leaving the parking lot, a brief hailstorm ensued. Winding down Guanella Pass, we passed two more emergency vehicles going up with sirens howling, and then an Alpine Rescue van.

From a news release and the Alpine Rescue web site I pieced together the story that a 15-year-old boy had taken a fall from the Sawtooth but was not found, leading rescue teams to believe he was able to hike out by himself.

 


Update: Nineteen days later a 32-year-old man had a fatal accident crossing the Sawtooth. It seems more personal being a place I so recently visited.

 

Jackson Lake vs. The Big Tent

P1050511 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentWe took our first camping trip in the big “new” (garage sale) 10×16 Coleman Oasis cabin tent at Jackson Lake State Park last weekend! I’ve never had a good time camping with a three-year-old… until now. We went overnight when Melody was three and Jaron was an infant. She fell off a rustic wooden play structure and badly scraped her knee. That night she woke up at 4am to go potty and stayed up for at least an hour talking about the stars and how stinky the tent was. Baby Jaron woke once, nursed, and fell right back asleep. Jaron was three on our next overnight trip, and Trevor was one and a half. This time Jaron was the one going potty past midnight, only his version was to cry during the whole trek across the campground to the outhouse, then cry all the way back to the yurt, whining the entire time that he wanted to go home right now. He was so noisy that he roused Trevor in his port-a-crib, who fussed until Richard tucked him into his own sleeping bag. Nobody but Melody slept much after that. So, it was a calculated risk to try camping with another three-year-old, and two nights to up the ante. But the third time was indeed a charm! The trip was, however, memorable for other sleep-disrupting adventures. And ironically, the three-year-old was the only one who slept through it all!

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Soup & cornbread

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Nature walk

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We’ve never camped anywhere except mountains, so Colorado’s eastern plains were quite a different environment. The pine forest smell was obviously missing, but there were plenty of shady trees, wildflowers, and  small rabbits bouncing through the underbrush. It was hotter than hot (even at night), but all the better for enjoying the swim beach! That was the main draw for the kids this time around. Well that and the s’mores. The other major difference was the weather, specifically the wind. The first night it made fire-starting a challenge, to say the least. The second night’s wind was off the charts, but more on that later.

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Jackson Lake, first evening

Ok, let me digress here about the campfire thing. It’s always a challenge, independent of the weather. See, the man of the house has got it into his head that starting a fire is the man’s duty to conquer for the sake of his family. It proves his manhood, I think. The problem is that I was raised building fires not only in summer after summer of campfire rings, but also as our primary source of winter home heating, and he… well he wasn’t. So every time we camp, he asserts his right to build the fire, and the struggle is painful to watch. Inevitably I take over, ending the suffering yet wounding his pride. At last, fire!

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Time for s'mores

P1050529 e1341889939418 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentHere it is, the 10×16 Coleman Oasis. It has two “rooms” divided by a center curtain, and both ends open up as doors. The kids loved having their own space, and bed time was surprisingly easy. Maybe it’s because we all stayed up pretty late roasting marshmallows. I thought the excitement of camping and their very first night in the tent would mean another hour of kid-commotion, but it only lasted 15 minutes until they crashed out. They didn’t wake unreasonably early either, considering the sights and sounds of morning in the great outdoors. The tent apparently survived a little drizzle overnight. Time for some hot chocolate and the ubiquitous camp-style fried potatoes with peppers and sausage for breakfast.

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All tucked in

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Jaron, first to wake. See TJ and Melo?

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Bed head

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Hot chocolate & fried potatoes

P1050540 e1341891215587 150x150 Jackson Lake vs. The Big TentThe day of adventures included swimming in Jackson Lake (happy, happy kids!) and an afternoon drive to Riverside Park in Fort Morgan a half hour east. The park was full of ducks and geese, and although the air-conditioned drive was a welcome reprieve from the heat, unfortunately the playground equipment was too toasty to enjoy. Oh well, Dairy Queen can fix that! Incidentally, it was in the DQ parking lot that we noticed a good long crack at the top of our windshield starting from a previous chip. Richard blames the scorching heat. I don’t know. Anyway, back at the camp site, we had dinner, attended a Ranger-hosted faux-campfire storytelling session, and took a sunset walk to the marina and out to the end of the dock to watch the boats going in and out off the boat ramp.

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Swimming with Daddy

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Back to camp

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Riverside Park, Fort Morgan

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Riverside Park

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Sunset at the marina

Ahhh, sunset. It was much redder in real life than the photo shows. It was beautiful and a fine way to end the day. We strolled back to camp in anticipation of another round of s’mores, but alas, a breeze started blowing at dusk and we had to ditch the campfire idea. Raw marshmallows placated the kids and bed time was again very easy although Melody didn’t much care for tramping to the restroom by flashlight. I was just happy for flush toilets out in the sticks.

Clink. Swish. The wind grew. The tent swayed and old aluminum-pipe poles rattled. Ear plugs. Restless sleep. The tent heaved and rippled as the wind picked up. A loud bouncing clank roused me at 2 am. I looked up at a corner of the tent roof caving in. Out of bed in a flash, I held up the roof rail from inside the tent while Richard went outside to re-attach the side pole in absolutely gusting, roaring wind. Good thing it was on our side and not above the kids. Ha, an hour later we were doing the same thing on their side of the tent. Melody awoke fearful of the noisy gale and slipped into the airbed with me. She slept through the third collapse, again on the kids’ side, but Jaron did not. Trevor, my dear three-year-old camper, did open his eyes when I stepped over his bed to push the tent roof up, but he was instantly out again and had no recollection in the morning. The wind was unrelenting and between its roar through the trees, the constant whipping and crinkling of the tent, and the nerve-wracking rattling of the poles, sleep was elusive.

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Big tent billowing in the "fresh morning air"

Morning did arrive, eventually, though the blasting wind did not let up. Tarps, bags, even camp chairs from neighboring sites littered the landscape. We heard reports that the weather wreaked havoc with boats anchored for the night. As for us, there would certainly be no scrambled eggs nor hot chocolate. We threw the “no food in the tent” rule to the wind (literally) and huddled in a circle on rolled-up sleeping bags feasting on bagels and grapes. Under great duress, we set a personal record for breaking camp quickly that I expect may never be broken – unlike one of the tent roof poles, unfortunately. Drama, drama, yeah I’m exaggerating a little, but I do so hate wind. Too bad a morning dip in Jackson Lake was out of the question. The early departure did provide perfect timing for lunch in Loveland at “the restaurant with the horse on it” (Palomino) that the kids have been begging to visit since it was built last year.

All things considered, I call our first big-tent camping trip a success! Two marvelous days were followed by some memorable family bonding and we made the best of it. Plus I’m much more confident about planning our next adventure: three nights in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Next time I promise not to forget the toothbrushes.

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Jackson Lake State Park

Stone Mountain Fog

I joined Northern Colorado Adventurers to climb 14ers. Booyah. Each spring they warm up with several “training hikes” like this one, which was posted as a hike to Sheep Mountain on the Round Mountain trail. I’ve had my eye on that mountain for two years, as it rises basically across the highway from my enchanting pet icon, Palisade Peak. I was in.

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SAR training

It was a damp and foggy morning. Search and Rescue was just kicking off a group training session as we found the parking lot. Due to the weather, we changed our objective to Stone Mountain to cut a little mileage off and add a fun rock scramble at the summit. I’d never heard of Stone Mountain, but considering the lack of visibility in the fog, I was happy with the decision. Since I’ve wanted to hike Sheep Mountain for two years, it would have been disappointing to get to the top and not be able to see anything. (The thunderstorm at the top of Horsetooth Rock last fall comes to mind.) Save that one for a better day.

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Starting up the Round Mountain Trail

I figured out soon enough that I wasn’t going to keep pace with the front end of the group. I tried. Anyway we hiked through fog under trees lightly dripping with snow melt. Half way up there was a meadow where we needed to diverge from the Sheep Mountain route and head toward Stone Mountain, but since we couldn’t see the mountain through the fog, we got lost and relieved the tension by joking about the Search and Rescue team nearby. We wandered around through burnt underbrush dotted with blackened pine cones and surmised that lightning may have started a smoldering ground fire which rain may have squelched.

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Cairn

Somebody finally consulted a map and compass and eventually found the correct trail some hundred yards away, which was not easy for the untrained eye to follow save for small cairns at odd intervals. The stony peak was indeed a fun little climb. The views were nil but the fog added an air of intriguing mystique.

Repeat in reverse, except we didn’t get lost. That was the last mountain those boots will ever hike on my feet though. Five hours of footwork blew out my knees and gave me a blister and two black nails. One is still black and I’m breaking in a wide new pair of Keens a half size larger. That’s right, I wasted no time in shopping for new footwear, which to my good fortune coincided with REI’s anniversary sale.

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Cactus

I got those less than a week before my first scheduled 14er of the season, Mt. Sherman, convinced that brand new shoes could not be worse than those dozen-year-old leather boots. In the end, the weather on Sherman turned cold and fiercely windy and I bailed out last minute. I was looking forward to putting my Keens to the test on a full moon hike up Horsetooth Rock last night. Unfortunately I got sick and couldn’t make it, although the moon looked amazing out my upstairs window. Last week the group climbed Mt. Elbert without me but that’s a mountain I need more training to attempt. Next up is Mt. Bierstadt at the end of June. Some will do a loop across the Sawtooth to Mt. Evans but I think I’ll not push my luck.

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Ascending into the fog

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Stewing in a stone pot

 

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Trail between rocks

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Stone Mountain summit scramble

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Summit scramble

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Snack on the summit

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I climbed further across the top

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Another view across the top

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Further outcrop

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I made it!

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There's that err... stone pot again

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Foggy "view"

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Another view

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Leaving, actually

Emergency Exit

Emergency exit sign2 150x150 Emergency ExitYesterday I published Emergency Exit, my first guest post for the “honest moms” blog, Get Born. Be warned, it isn’t pretty. It’s a remake of Escape, an account of a climactic exit from an abusive home which I posted two years ago for Reality Writes, though I doubt more than a dozen people ever read it. That was the writer’s group I joined when TJ was just six weeks old in a desperate attempt to connect with my pre-mom intelligence. After years on hold, writing came alive again. Though the group is now defunct, its purpose for me was well-served: a passion reawakened and a piece of my identity restored.

My First WOD

WOD: Workout Of the Day.

I did my first CrossFit WOD today! Rowing machine 2K, 40 wall balls (12#), row 1K, 35 wall balls, row 500m, 25 wall balls, all this in just 34 minutes and 32 seconds. CrossFit is an exercise methodology and crossfit.com posts a new workout daily.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be drinking Valentine tea with my daughter’s entire 2nd grade instead of getting my butt kicked in my strength/cardio interval class. So, last minute decision, I hauled myself to the gym at 4pm. Lacking skill in structuring my own workouts and deeming this WOD fairly non-intimidating for a first attempt, I enlisted a staff trainer to demo the rowing machine. Yes I’ve been working out for a year and a half and never touched the rowing machine. Anyway it’s not hard and I was soon 2K into the WOD. Then wall balls. Also new. The instructions said 20lb but I was smart and chose 12. Squat, then hurl the ball about 10 feet up the wall, catch and repeat. Sounds simple, but oh no no. Only the first five are simple. The initial set was supposed to be 50 reps and I was dying after 25. My heart was pounding and I felt dizzy. Eventually I made it to 40 but that was with some resting moments. The rowing machine felt super easy after that. When the workout was done I felt shaky for a whole hour. Even if I never do another WOD (which isn’t likely, it was torture but it was fun) I still gained two new workout skills.

Perhaps a little history? Around New Year’s I had some shoulder pain that my chiro Dr. Higgins couldn’t fix, and he did some abdominal palpation to diagnose a gallbladder issue. Ouch, that thing is tender when it’s not happy. It can also cause referred shoulder pain. Higgins told me to cut grains, dairy, starches, sugar, and most red meat out of my diet. It’s not that fun for someone who was eating homemade granola for breakfast and sandwiches on homemade bread for lunch and afternoon pita chips nearly daily. In trying to figure out what I could eat, I came across the Paleo diet. Now for anyone who knows much about that, I’m not strictly following Paleo primarily because I need to stay low-fat while the gallbladder heals, Higgins approved beans as tolerated, and I have chosen to cheat with rice when I’m too hungry to think of something better. However it’s been a great source of research on grain problems and ways to substitute wholesome foods, and I soon discovered that there is an entire fitness community that embraces the Paleo kitchen: the CrossFit camp. Which led to researching the CrossFit ideology. Which led to the WOD above. Which led to immense pride in myself this afternoon!

Kids’ Birthday Parties in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Windsor

So Jaron is turning five in April! Rather than keep track of scrawled notes on paper scraps for years to come, perhaps this is a good place to jot down my birthday party research. Prices from February 2012 unless noted otherwise.
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Fort Collins:

  • GK Gymnastics
    $150 for 1.5 hrs, up to 8 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. 1 hour gymnastics & tumbling activities, private party room, goody bags, refrigerator available; children should wear gym or dance clothes; for ages 2-12
    We love GK Gym and Melo has attended birthday parties here and all 3 of the kids have taken gymnastics lessons. They are very good at engaging the kids in group activities. Parents are not allowed in the gym area but there are a lot of windows for viewing either in the lobby on the main floor or upstairs from the party room. Highlights include a zip line and jumping off a platform into a foam block pit. I recall the birthday child’s parent may be allowed in the gym to take photos. Other regularly scheduled classes and coaching will be happening concurrently.
  • Fort Fun
    $10 per kid (6 kid minimum) for 1 hr host & unlimited play time, private party room upgrade $15; incl. drinks, pizza, dessert, mini-golf, tokens, Fort Fun Bucks; larger packages available incl. bounce house, laser tag, go-karts, etc.
    Melo attended a 7th b-day party here and loved it, especially the mini-golf. She begged the family to go again and we enjoyed a few hours although it was more difficult for Jaron & especially TJ to keep interest. It’s more appropriate for age 6+ I think. The little guys just wanted to keep pushing tokens in a 3-horse merry-go-round over and over!
  • Rollerland
    $99 for 1.5 hrs, up to 8 kids, $7.50 per additional kid (maximum of 14); incl. soda & table settings; larger packages & private parties available; prices January 2013
    Can you believe we’ve lived in Fort Collins for over a decade and still haven’t been to Rollerland?
  • Lee Martinez Farm
    $90 for 1.5 hrs, up to 8 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. hayride, lemonade, bandana for each kid, farm tour, party host; $98 + $11 add’l kids for pony rides instead of hayride (pony rides available age 5+); books up quickly
    Melo’s 5th birthday here was a hit. Guests gather in a little white farmhouse & then begin the party with the hayride or pony rides. After that they tour the farm animals and return to the farmhouse for cake and gifts. Our hostess was great with the kids and facilitated the gift-opening with a game. They do not cancel for poor weather. Pony rides can be done indoors if necessary.
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s
    $13 per kid for 2 hrs; incl. drinks, pizza, tokens for kids; extra food, cake, & goody bags available; more expensive options ($25+ per guest) available
    Two party experiences as guests here – lots of fun for the kids but seems over-priced and definitely loud & chaotic. The party favors were cool though.
  • Sykes Martial Arts
    $199 for 2 hrs, unlimited kids; incl. guided games/activities & party time, birthday child can cut cake (not provided) with a real samurai sword; books up quickly
    I found this with a google search. We haven’t been here but whoever I spoke with on the phone was very friendly and helpful. He said they commonly host parties for ages 3-16.
  • TCBY
    $10 per kid, up to 12 kids; incl. unlimited frozen yogurt, chef costume, store tour, goody bag; contact local stores for details; prices August 2013
  • Cool Beans Playhouse
    $60 for two hours decorated party room; $5 per kid admission for unlimited play time; $10 per kid incl. meal & drink; $12 incl. balloons also; private rental & food platters available; may bring cake but no other outside food; prices January 2014
    We’ve gone to drop-in play time a couple times. This is designed for kids up to age 6. They have some climbing/exploring activities and lots of  hands-on toys and dress-up clothes. The cafe food is good.
  • Gardens On Spring Creek
    $70 for 1.5 hrs, up to 7 kids, $5 per additional kid (limit 10 total), birthday child age 2-9; incl. gazebo-sheltered picnic table, scavenger hunt, children’s garden play time, craft/activity, time for gifts & food (not provided), plant for each guest to take home; Deluxe Package $90 + $7 add’l incl. goody bags, paper products, personalized cake, drinks; prices June 2013
    Melody truly enjoyed her 6th birthday here! The craft was making a necklace with a bean seed that could be planted at home. There is a water table play area, nest/cave made of sticks, koi pond with a bridge, and a small playhouse to explore. It’s all outdoors so keep weather in mind.
  • Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
    $200 for 2.5 hours, up to 20 guests; includes private room and museum admission; cake & decorations allowed; $30 refundable damage deposit required; available Sundays 2:30-5:00pm only; prices January 2013
    We’ve been to the old Discovery Center a few times and it was great for kids who like hands-on exploring and science. There were many themed rooms to discover. I think it’s best suited to elementary school age kids but the younger ones still had fun.
  • Chipper’s Lanes
    $12.45 per kid under 12 for 1/2 hour party room, 2 games of bowling, shoe rental, small soda, 1 slice cheese pizza (toppings $.50/kid), T-shirt OR free game card for each kid; teens age 12+ $14.45 per kid for 2 sodas and 2 pizza slices; $2/kid additional game; $2/kid bowling theme table setting, favors, & balloon; may bring cake & ice cream but no outside food & drink (cafe on site); $30 refundable deposit at booking; adults play at regular bowling rates; prices January 2014
    Our family visited Chipper’s on Melo’s 8th birthday and the kids have been begging to go back! They have bumper guards and ball slides for younger kids. Laser Tag and Arcade scheduled to open April 2014.
  • Mountain Kids
    $145 for 1.5 hrs, up to 12 kids, $196 for 13-20 kids; gymnastics or dance theme party for ages 3-12; incl. 1 hr gym activity, 1/2 hr party area, party favors; Sat/Sun only, full price non-refundable deposit required when booking
  • Mulberry Pool
    $50 per hour party room or $40 per hour balcony party area plus $2.75 per swimmer (child or adult); incl. pool, aquatic play features, and bouldering wall; prices March 2013
  • Michael’s
    $50 + craft $ for 2 hrs, private room, up to 12 kids or so, incl. party host, craft time, printable invitations, thank-you cards, apron souvenirs; goody bags, face painting, balloons, decorations also available
    Update – we held Melo’s 8th birthday party here – they painted wood wall hangings that she chose and it was a nice party. The kids had fun singing “Happy Birthday” over the store loudspeaker. 
  • Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
    $125 for ~2 hrs, up to 8 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. invitations, party room, instructor, project/craft, cookie decorating supplies (bring your own treats to decorate)
  • foodies! Culinary Academy
    Themed cooking parties for up to 24 kids (Pirates, Princesses, Cake, Fondue, Iron Chef, American Girl); incl. decor, music, food, dessert, treat bags, and of course the kids do the cooking; call for pricing
  • Piano & Guitar Institute
    $75 for 2 hrs, up to 6 kids, $5 per additional kid; incl. singing, dancing, games, party room, party gift for each child, individualized to age and interests; prices January 2013
  • Philomusica
    $225 up to 20 kids; contact Philomusica for more information; prices January 2013
  • Buttercream Cupcakery
    $200 for 1.5 hrs, up to 10 kids; incl. cupcakes to decorate and take home, cupcakes to eat at the party, drinks, kitchen tour, craft, balloons & goody bags; $30 princess visit instead of craft; $50 pizza or tea party
  • The Edge Sports Center
    $125 for 1 hour on 1/3 sports field & equipment plus 1 hour party room, up to 22 kids; $150 for 2/3 field; $175 for full field; choose from Flag Football, Baseball, Softball, Kickball, Soccer, T-ball, Whiffle Ball, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee; you provide supervision & food; sports instruction available; prices January 2013
  • Qdoba Events Center (Formerly OD’s Sports Crossing) $110 for 1.5 hrs, up to 12 kids, $3 per additional kid; incl. 1 hr of half-rink activities (field turf or sport court), 30 min party area, pizza, soda, party wishes on scoreboard; other party packages available incl. Subway package $136, Qdoba “kids” (under 12) package $170; prices April 2013
  • Fort Collins Club
    $12-14 per kid for 2 hrs, choice of Clubhouse, Climbing Wall, or Pool; $15/hour for climbing instructor or lifeguard (required for kids under 12); free use of conference room or picnic area; enjoy 2 activities for $15-17 per kid; pizza, soda, & party bags available; prices January 2013
  • Pottery Studio
    $12 per person (5 guest minimum) for 1.5 hrs; incl. tour, pottery instruction & supplies; bring own cake & refreshments; prices January 2014
  • Poudre Fire Authority
    Free group tours 30-45 minutes, maximum 30 people, minimum age 4, chaperone required per every 5 children; party groups welcome but no festivities or food allowed on site; available to PFA service area residents; must request online at least 3 weeks in advance; January 2014
Loveland:
  • Jumpin’ at Centerra
    $60 Mon-Fri for 2 hrs party area & all-day play pass, up to 6 kids, $90 Sat-Sun, $8 per additional kid, adults free; incl. balloons, water bottle & future free pass for b-day child; prices January 2014
    Jaron went to a preschool birthday party here and had fun although it seemed somewhat difficult to keep track of the kids. The party areas are next to the play area and therefore noisy. I just asked Jaron if he remembered the party and he started jumping up and down with twinkling eyes. I like the price and I’m thinking we’ll probably celebrate that upcoming 5th birthday here.
    Update – yes we did and it was a great choice! Although the price has gone up a little since then.
  • Bounce
    $65 Mon-Thurs, $80 Fri-Sun for 2 hrs party area & all-day play pass, up to 6 kids, $8 per additional kid age 2-10, $3 age 1, adults free; incl. balloons, decorations, table cloth, 1 drink per kid, future free pass for b-day child, has toddler play area; private parties available; $25 deposit with reservation; prices January 2014
    Sounds like a fancier version of Jumpin’. We have not been to Bounce since it moved a while ago but back then it was cleaner than other inflatable play places.
    Note – Bounce suffered flood damage in September 2013 and closed for repairs. Check the web site for current status. (updated January 2014)
  • Premier Gymnastics
    $100 for 1.5 hrs, up to 15 kids, $5 per additional kid (max 25 kids); incl. 1 hr private gym w/ instructor, 1/2 hr party area; $20 for extra 1/2 hr gym instead of party area time; $25 non-refundable deposit at booking; prices January 2014
    Update – TJ attended a preschool birthday party here and it was loads of unstructured fun. The kids basically had free play time in the entire gym. At age 3-4, most of them spent it jumping into the foam block pit from waaay up high, swinging on ropes like Tarzan, and butt-bouncing on the trampolines. There was a safety monitor but she did not engage the kids. The party tables were set up in the entry lobby where there was plenty of space.
  • TCBY
    $10 per kid, up to 12 kids; incl. unlimited frozen yogurt, chef costume, store tour, goody bag; contact local stores for details; prices August 2013
  • Loveland Laser Tag
    $15 per kid for 1 hr party area plus activities, minimum 8 kids; incl. party host, private party room, pizza, soda, 2 activities (laser tag, laser maze, game room & cake, game room & tokens); $20 for 3 activites, $25 for 5 activities; cake available separately; check for printable coupon at coloradokids.com
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop
    $10 and up per kid; incl. invitations, party photo, party favors
  • Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
    $125 up to 8 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. invitations, party room, instructor, project/craft, cookie decorating supplies (bring your own treats to decorate)
  • Rocky Mountain Cheer and Dance Company
    $85 for 2 hours, up to 10 kids age 5+, $95 up to 15 kids, $115 up to 22 kids, $125 more than 22 kids; preschool parties (age 2-4) are 1.5 hrs and start at $75 for 10 kids; incl. organized tumbling and gym equipment activities, music, party room
  • Chilson Center
    Party room, kid-friendly indoor pool; call for pricing
Greeley:
  • Family FunPlex
    $125 for 1 hr plus unlimited play time, up to 10 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. 1 hr reserved table, birthday cake, party supplies, invitations, choice of activities: swimming or mini-golf; $150 for access to both activities; children under 5 must be supervised in the pool at all times
  • Greeley Ice Haus
    $125 for 1 hr plus unlimited skate time, up to 11 kids (age 3+), $7 per additional kid; incl. 1 hr party room, public skate admission/rental, invitations, cake, drinks, party supplies, birthday gift, balloons; additional food & party amenities available (no outside food)
  • Greeley Recreation Center – Pool Party
    $90 for 2 hours, up to 10 kids (age 6+, under 6 requires adult supervision in pool at all times), $3 per additional kid (max 20); incl. invitations, 1 hr reserved decorated table, cake, party supplies, party host, open swimming; additional food available (no outside food)
  • Greeley Recreation Center – Tumble Party
    $125 for 2 hrs, up to 10 kids (age 1-5), $3 per additional kid (max 20); incl. 1 hr decorated table, invitations, cake, party supplies, party host, 1 hr tumble room activities; additional food available (no outside food)
  • Greeley Recreation Center – Rock Wall Party
    $125 for 2 hrs, up to 10 kids (age 6-12), $3 per additional kid (max 12); incl. 1 hr decorated table, invitations, cake, party supplies, party host, 1 hr climbing on rock wall, belay ride for each child; additional food available (no outside food)
  • TCBY
    $10 per kid, up to 12 kids; incl. unlimited frozen yogurt, chef costume, store tour, goody bag; contact local stores for details; prices August 2013
  • Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
    $125 up to 8 kids, $10 per additional kid; incl. invitations, party room, instructor, project/craft, cookie decorating supplies (bring your own treats to decorate)
  • Chuck E. Cheese’s
    $13 per kid for 2 hrs; incl. drinks, pizza, tokens for kids; extra food, cake, & goody bags available; more expensive options ($25+ per guest) available
  • Chipper’s Lanes
    $12.45 per kid under 12 for 1/2 hour party room, 2 games of bowling, shoe rental, small soda, 1 slice cheese pizza (toppings $.50/kid), T-shirt OR free game card for each kid; teens age 12+ $14.45 per kid for 2 sodas and 2 pizza slices; $2/kid additional game; $2/kid bowling theme table setting, favors, & balloon; may bring cake & ice cream but no outside food & drink (cafe on site); $30 refundable deposit at booking; adults play at regular bowling rates; prices January 2014
    Our family has enjoyed Chipper’s in Fort Collins.
Windsor:
  • Windsor Gymnastics Academy
    $130 for 2 hrs, up to 10 kids, $8 per additional kid; incl. 1 hr private use gym activities (obstacle course, jumping castle, trampoline, bouncing, tumbling, foam pit), 1 hr party room; $25 non-refundable deposit at booking; prices January 2014
  • Piano & Guitar Institute
    $75 for 2 hrs, up to 6 kids, $5 per additional kid; incl. singing, dancing, games, party room, party gift for each child, individualized to age and interests; prices January 2013
  • AmericInn Hotel – Pool Party
    $75 for 4 hours, up to 30 kids; Sat. 11 am-3 pm only; incl. party room & indoor pool; prices March 2013
    We attended a 6th birthday party here and had a great time. There’s a good sized meeting room with a door directly to the pool area. The party was from 1-3 pm and that was plenty of time for kindergartners. The pool has a wide step entry and ranges from 3-5 feet deep. Jaron said it was plenty warm. There’s also a hot tub. No lifeguard.
  • Windsor Community Recreation Center
    $40 for 2 hrs party room, up to 10 kids, $50 for 11-20 kids; incl. tablecloths, banner, 1/4 sheet cake (1/2 sheet for larger party), and open gym access if available; choice of climbing wall ($30 max 10 kids), critter visit – reptiles ($45 or $55), or science experiment ($45 or $55); pizza option; Sat-Sun only; prices January 2014

Other Local:

  • Bricks 4 Kidz
    Lego brick building/play party – comes to your location or local pizza restaurant; Deluxe party 90 minutes, up to 10 kids, incl. Lego games & challenges, motorized build, custom mini-fig for each guest, t-shirt for birthday child, invitations; Premier party up to 12 kids, incl. all above plus Lego book bag for each guest; Works party 2 hours, up to 18 kids, incl. all above plus additional motorized build, t-shirt and mini-fig head cupcake for each guest; call for pricing (970) 213-3322
  • Little Angels Pony And Pals
    $150 per hour and up for various options such as pony rides or cart rides at your location, “unicorn” rides, portable petting zoo, live “pretty pony” decorating, party and games at Little Angels farm in Fort Collins ($150 up to 8 children, $5 each additional, $25 extra activities); serving Fort Collins, Windsor, Loveland, Wellington, Berthoud, Longmont, Boulder, Denver, Cheyenne; trip charge outside Fort Collins

Not-So-Local: