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Nestled between the San Juan Mountains and the Animas River Valley lies a small southern Colorado town where families can find big adventures and a surprising amount of fun. If exploring ancient ruins, whitewater rafting, and eating farm-to-table meals sounds like a great way to spend your vacation days, then get ready to book your tickets and pack your bags. Durango, Colorado, delivers when it comes to dream family getaways.


Downtown Durango

With over 30 films shot in and around the area, Durango is referred to as the Hollywood of the Rockies, a reputation reflected in the area’s attractions. Historic downtown Durango is home to streets lined with beautiful hotels, storefronts, and an array of eateries and pubs, some of which have appeared in a film or two. This area is a perfect launching pad for your adventures.

Accommodations

Book a room for your family at the historic Rochester Hotel. Built in 1892 and later renovated, the Rochester offers unique rooms decorated to honor a western movie filmed in the area. Movie posters framed in marquee lights line the hallways, and the atmosphere will have you and your kids making a list of what to see when the next family movie night rolls around.

Each room is charming and cozy, and if you have a family of five or more, consider booking the Rochester’s Loft. This apartment-style suite has two beds, a dining room, a full kitchen, and its own roof-style patio – a perfect place to relax after exploring the surrounding wilderness.

Farm-to-table dining

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard when you’re traveling. Durango’s farm-to-table options make feeling good about what you are feeding your kids easy. The following choices are perfect for families:

  • Durango farmer’s market

Choose from organic fruits, veggies, meat and dairy products, and ready-to-eat meals at Durango’s open-air farmer’s market. It takes place every Saturday morning from May to October and runs from 8 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of First National Bank of Durango. Along with great fresh food, your family can enjoy live music and choose a souvenir from one of the booths selling locally made products.

The chef at this local eatery grows, harvests, and serves her own herbs and vegetables. Chef Alison Dance uses a portion of her home property to grow organic and sustainable food for her restaurants where you can grab tasty bites including a chicken pesto sandwich, Alaskan baked cod, or a slice of lemon pound cake.

Get ready for a fine dining experience Durango-style. This restaurant is one of the area’s most historic eateries and offers a seasonal menu with sustainable meats, wild-caught seafood, locally sourced ingredients, and artisanal beverages. It boasts serving the best steak in town, and many of the locals agree.

Breweries

If you want a guaranteed casual and fun dining experience, Durango is home to six family-friendly breweries. Check out SKA Brewing, the fourth largest brewery in Colorado. It features a family-friendly outdoor beer garden that doubles as a music venue so you may even catch some tunes.

Carver Brewing is one of Colorado’s first brewpubs and they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Wake up with cold-pressed coffees on nitro tap. Known for serving the best breakfast in town, make sure to try their cowboy benedict or make the kiddos smile with a breakfast banana split. Either way, you’ll be powered up for a long day of hard play.

Outdoor family adventures

Durango offers families unparalleled outdoor experiences. Whether your troop likes to explore by foot, bike, boat, or zip-line, there’s something available for everyone.

Hit the trails

Over 300 miles of trails lie waiting within 30 minutes of downtown Durango. They give hikers and bikers the opportunity to experience the breathtaking Colorado wilderness in person. Trails range in length and difficulty and each offer their own unique experience. Consider the following:

  • Colorado Trail/Junction Creek to Gudy’s Rest: The iconic Colorado Trail runs for 500 miles from Denver to Durango. It traverses the Rocky Mountains and takes explorers through six wilderness areas. This hike is a family-friendly eight mile out-and-back excursion that is just four miles from downtown. The rolling path takes your family on a winding trip that eventually ends at Gudy’s Rest. Here you can take in stunning views of Durango and the San Juan Mountains. If eight miles is more than your family is ready for, a great turnaround spot is the wooden bridge, which is both beautiful and cuts the distance to five miles.
  • Horse Gulch and Telegraph Hill: Located less than one mile from downtown, you will find over 100 acres of open space dedicated to a trail system that is perfect for hikers and bikers of all levels. Expect to pass through stunning meadows, catch spectacular views, and come across lazy creeks and beautiful rock features. You can spend as much or as little time here as you’d like with a choice of trails that range in length and duration.
  • You can find more trails to explore online at Durango Trails 2000.

Whitewater rafting

Another great way to explore the area is by raft. Mild to Wild offers whitewater rafting adventures that range in length and intensity. There are a variety of options to choose from based on your family members’ ages and preferences. Children as young as four are invited to experience the white waters of the Animas River tour and there are excursions more on the wild side on the Piedra River that children 12 or 16 and up can join for some serious high adventure.  Remember to bring plenty of sun block and river-friendly shoes. The guides are not only highly experienced, they are fun, funny, and dedicated to giving you a trip your family will never forget.

Zip-line through the trees

Get a birds-eye view of the San Juan Mountains on the longest zip-line course in the US. Soaring Tree Top Adventures will take your family on a full-day trip that starts with a scenic train ride from Durango to Silverton. When you get home, you can relive your locomotive experience with a movie night viewing of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which features the views you caught along the way.

Once you’ve arrived at the remote Alpine location, Sky Ranger guides suit you up and get you ready to soar through the trees. Your tour lasts approximately five-and-a-half hours and includes a gourmet meal that keeps your energy up for the trek. Children as young as four can fly with the family and the lines can accommodate grandma and grandpa should they join you on your holiday.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum

Get ready to give that train-lover in the family a ride of a lifetime. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway was founded Durango in 1880. By 1882, tracks had been laid to Silverton and trains began transporting passengers and freight. The railroad remains an essential part of the Durango community.

Today you can take your family back in time with a historic ride on a coal-fired, steam-operated vintage locomotive (included in the zip-line tour). Your family has the choice of sitting inside and enjoying the sites as they whiz by, or relaxing outside in an open gondola car where you can take in panoramic views of the area. Tour packages are available to choose from, and bathrooms and concessions are available on board so everyone can stay comfortable and happy.

Mesa Verde National Park

Spend an afternoon exploring well-preserved ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings with your family at Mesa Verde National Park. Just 40 minutes from Durango, this National Park is home to 600 cliff dwellings that were inhabited from 600 to 1300 AD. The drive into the park is spectacular, offering an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. Some ruins are only accessible via guided tour and others allow visitors to explore unattended. Get oriented in advance at the visitor’s center where you can purchase tickets for tours to the Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House and grab a map to help you along the way.

Durango offers families more to do than they can possibly fit in in one visit. This is a location you will want to come back to time and time again. With Moab, Utah, less than three hours away, consider a road trip to Arches National Park on one of your visits. Whatever you do while in Durango, you’re guaranteed to have a treasure trove of memories to savor with your loved ones once you’ve returned home.

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When I became a mom, suddenly it felt like I was working with fewer hours in the day. Whereas previously I could put in a full day at work and still have time to hit the gym, throw in a load of laundry, and cook a full dinner, suddenly my day felt jam-packed from the moment I opened my eyes.

And one of the first things that takes a hit on my to-do list? Mealtime.

While I continued to prioritize whole ingredients and nutritionally backed recipes, I found myself with less and less time to do the shopping, prepping, and cooking required for all the foods we liked to eat. And even when I could find the time, you can bet I would rather be bonding with my child than spending hours at the store or in the kitchen. Which is why Nurture Life has become one of my favorite #momhacks for getting healthy (and delicious) meals in front of my toddler.

And they're giving our readers a $50 value in Nurture Life meals. (Use code MOTHERLY for $25 off your first 2 orders for a limited time.)

Here are five reasons why this was such a game-changer:

1. It’s super convenient.

Once you pick your plan (baby, toddler, or kid), Nurture Life will deliver five or 10 meals per week to your doorstep. Meaning a professional has done all the heavy lifting of planning the dietitian-approved recipes, sourcing the ingredients, and even prepping the dish.

All you have to do is warm up the meal in the microwave and oven-safe food tray. (Yep, no extra dishes to wash. Win-win.)

2. It’s healthy by design.

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As a result, your child is regularly consuming the produce and protein they need to grow and stay healthy, without worrying about any unnecessary additives.

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, what I put in my body (and therefore my baby's body) has been so important to me. Now that I'm training my child to make her own food choices, it gives me peace of mind knowing that Nurture Life has done the heavy lifting in providing safe, nutritious options—and helping me teach my daughter that healthy should also be delicious.

3. It’s quick.

When I'm home with my daughter, I rarely get more than 15-30 minutes to scrape together a meal before she's asking me to play or hold her or help her find a lost toy—hardly enough time to craft a healthy, delicious meal we both feel good about.

And, truthfully, I'd so much rather be spending my time with her than bent over the stove. Nurture Life helps me get that time back. All I do is heat them up for a few minutes until warm and serve. And then it's back to being where we both really want to be.

4. It’s safe.

Unlike conventional commercial meals and snacks for children, Nurture Life won't feed your child anything their founders wouldn't feed their own families. As a result, they subscribe to a firm never-ever list—they never add preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup in any of their recipes.

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Some of Nurture Life's classic kid favorites are available throughout the year, but they also have amazing seasonal menus to introduce variety.


I'll probably never have as many hours in a day as I truly need. But with Nurture Life, I do get time to savor the moments I really want to enjoy.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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Preparing food for my family is important to me and something that makes me feel good, even if it isn't elaborate. Plus, I never want to stay stagnant in any area of my life. If I suck at cooking then I want to get better, so I am.

But I run a business, have four kids, a house, and extracurricular activities to juggle, so it's more important than ever that I keep this area of my life streamlined.

All of this is enough to be super intimidating for someone who is already not a natural at this area of homemaking, but I've figured out a pretty solid routine (thank the good Lord), and since I get asked about this a lot, I'm sharing my tips with you today!

1. Choose just a few pre-planned meals, then get staple ingredients for the others.

I think a lot of us feel the need to know exactly what we'll be serving for dinner every day of the week. If that works for you, stick with it! But for me, I'm a little too sporadic for that, and whenever I plan my week that way we end up not cooking one or two of the planned dinners and groceries get wasted.

So now, I only choose about three exact dinners, and then get basic ingredients like chicken breast, bacon, sweet potato and other veggies to make a spur-of-the-moment, simple meal the other nights.

I might also make those other nights a repeat meal that we have all the time, like tacos.

2. Get all your planning done in one day each week.

Every Sunday night, I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down with a notebook, my cookbooks, and a pen. I choose my meals, make a shopping list, and map out exactly what I'll be buying for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

I make sure I'm planning all the way through the following Monday (the day I shop) which leads me to….

3. Choose another day for all shopping.

On Mondays, I do my grocery shopping. What isn't being delivered by Amazon Fresh (more on that below) is purchased and ready for the week.

4. Prep immediately after shopping whenever possible.

Instead of bringing in groceries and putting them straight in the fridge, I've started washing and slicing and prepping everything as soon as I'm home from my errands.

I got this handy trick from my new favorite book by Brooke Sailer, (I'm Failing At) This Thing Called Home.

5. Food prep, don’t meal prep.

Meal prepping may totally work for you, but it doesn't for us! We've found that food prepping is much more doable. Food prepping looks like sautéed potatoes, sliced fruit, cooked and shredded chicken, baked sweet potato fries, all stored in the fridge, ready to use. It's pieces of meals that you can grab, reheat, and eat based on what sounds good and how much time you have.

6. Base it on your schedule.

If you know Wednesday nights are super crazy for your family, have that be a Crockpot or take-out night every week.

7. Keep a running list of everything you’re out of.

This one is obvious and overstated, but worth saying one more time! My list is on my fridge and in my phone. I check both on Sunday nights when making my shopping lists.

8. Amazon Subscribe + Save and Amazon Fresh.

Amazon is KILLING IT. They just bought Whole Foods, so more organic goodness is surely coming our way, and they now offer subscriptions for your most-used food and household items. Some things on my Subscribe + Save account include; toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, snack bars, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and cleaning sprays.

With Amazon Fresh, you can do your grocery shopping from your couch (if it's offered in your city) and get organic fruits, veggies, and pretty much anything. Amazing!

9. Don’t overthink it. Know what works!

Don't over complicate meal planning because it's daunting or you dislike it. Streamline, simplify, cut out the things that aren't working and stick to what is.

10. Stop being afraid of repeating meals.

No shame in repeats, yo. I know a friend who rotates 10 meals, exactly that way, all the time. It's been that way for years and her family has no complaints. It's easier for her, too! Win win. If that works for you, embrace it and count yourself as one of the lucky ones!

11. Other things that work for our family:

  • Prepped food becomes lunch plates we can fix up in less than 10 minutes.
  • Prepped foods that work on-the-go.
    • Fresh sliced fruits
    • Grilled chicken (cold in a Ziplock)
    • Snackable veggies
  • Breakfasts are the same meals rotated.
    • Coffee and a bar (cereal for kids)
    • Smoothies
    • "Big healthy plates" (this is what we call eggs topped with avocado, uncured bacon, grilled tomatoes with salt and pepper, and sweet potato hash).
    • Pancakes + bacon (GF, of course!)
  • Bars instead of lunch for the really busy, on-the-go kind of days (our favorites are Lara and RX).
  • I (try to) always have kid & adult snacks as well as water bottles in my bag or in the car.
  • We always have a couple easy/frozen meals on hand for "emergencies". Like when the babysitter shows up on time and you were so excited for date night that you forgot you have kids….
    • Mac + Cheese
    • Chicken nuggets
    • Frozen pizzas

Phew! That pretty much sums up what I've been doing to keep meal preparation as simple as possible with four kids and a Crossfit hubby. I hope it inspires and helps you!

Originally posted on Allie Casazza.

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When our children spend so much of the day away from us at school, the moments we do have together are precious. But, they don't always feel precious in the whirlwind of getting ready and out the door each day.

Sometimes it seems like no matter how much time we allot, it is never enough. After all, who can predict that last week's favorite train shirt would lead to a full-on toddler meltdown when it's time to get dressed in the morning?

Here are a few things you can do to help your child take ownership of the morning routine and reclaim what should be a time of bonding.

1. Talk it through

Choose a low-stress time, such as while riding in the car or eating a snack together, and talk through the morning routine with your child. Ask them what needs to happen in the morning before they go to school. Prompt with tasks they might forget, like brushing teeth or putting on shoes. Walk through all of the steps a few times so they have a good idea of what is coming.

While your child will inevitably still need reminders, this will give them a solid understanding of what needs to happen each day.

2. Make a picture chart

After you've talked through everything, make a picture chart for your child depicting the sequence of their morning routine. Take a picture representing each step—one of the potty, one of their toothbrush, one of their clothes laid out, etc. Or, have fun drawing the pictures together instead!

A picture chart provides even young children a resource, other than you, to consult when they're unsure of what to do next.

It can also be helpful if your child gets off track. Remind them to check their picture chart to see what comes next. This is more empowering than simply telling them exactly what to do, which is more likely to instigate a power struggle.

If your child is older, help them write a list, or draw their own pictures of what needs to happen in the morning and post it somewhere they will see it each morning, like by the bedside table.

3. Have your child pack their own lunch

Depending on your schedule, it is likely better to do this the night before, but encouraging your child to pack their own lunch helps them take ownership of their school day.

Worried their lunch will consist of nothing but crackers and grapes? Make a simple rule such as one protein, one grain, one fruit, and one vegetable. Help them think of options in each category.

If they're older, brainstorm what they would like in each category before you go to the grocery store. Anything you can do to help them feel like they have a say in the process will help the morning go more smoothly.

4. Offer limited clothing choices

Allowing children to choose their own clothes is wonderful, but it can be quite time-consuming in the morning. Lay out two options for your young child to choose from. Always put them in the same place, such as a small shelf in their closet, so they will know where to look in the morning.

For an older child, encourage them to lay out their own clothes the night before so they won't have to decide when they're still half asleep in the morning.

5. Allow a natural consequence

When the planning and picture charts don't work, try allowing a natural consequence to take place instead of nagging and repeating yourself. It may be a little unpleasant, but it will also be effective, and will likely only need to happen once.

Are they taking too long to get out of bed? There will be no time for eating pancakes together, they'll have to settle for a granola bar in the car.

Are they refusing to get dressed? They will have to bring his clothes with him and arrive at school in jammies.

These are not punishments, they are simply things that logically happen when the routine isn't followed.

6. Build in time for togetherness

One reason that children stall in the morning is that they want you to help them because they need that time together. Build in a few minutes of togetherness before asking your child to get themself ready each morning.

It may seem like you don't have 5-10 minutes to spare, but this will likely save you time as your child will have gotten the bonding time they need and be less likely to resist the rest of the morning.

Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive.

7. Make it fun

Help them make a getting ready playlist of favorite songs to listen to while they brush their teeth and get dressed.

Let them pick a muffin or pancake recipe and make a big batch together on the weekend so that you have breakfast ready to go. Take turns telling each other what you dreamed last night over breakfast or in the car.

The morning can often be hectic and stressful, but it's also a significant portion of the time many of us get to spend with our children during the week. These little moments can give us, and our children, the little boost we need to start the day feeling loved.

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