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Sweet Tomatoes Offers Mile High Mamas a 25% Catering Discount (just $6.75 per person!)

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes’ Chicken Won Ton Happiness Salad makes me happy.

That’s why taking the restaurant up on their 25% off discount for catering was a no-brainer. My neighbor Kristen (already a mother of three kids and two stepchildren) is pregnant with twins. Unexpectedly. If that doesn’t deserve an all-out celebration, I don’t know what does.

And Sweet Tomatoes delivered. I invited several friends to my house for a baby shower last week and we were delighted with a huge spread of food: Chicken Wonton Happiness Salad (of course), Bartlett Pear Tossed Salad, Whole Grain Couscous, Joan’s Broccoli Madness (best I’ve ever had), Roasted Eggplant Hot Pasta, Creamy Tomato Soup, muffins, cookies, beverages and a potato bar with all the fixings.

Yep, my friends will be indebted to me for a while.

Sweet Tomatoes catering prices range from $9-10 per person (10-person minimum for delivery). With Mile High Mamas’ 25% off discount, that’s an amazing offer of around $6.75 per person.

Mama Drama: Monkey See, Monkey Do

Dear Mama Drama:

I have a question about my granddaughter who just turned five.  She literally copies every thing that every one of her friends or cousins does (Monkey See, Monkey Do).  She even copies things that other kids do even when she knows it is wrong!  We wonder that if one of her friends jumped off a bridge if she would do it too.  We all keep asking her why she does this and reminding her that she is a unique person with a terrific personality all by herself and doesn’t need to copy any one else.  We are very concerned and are wondering if you have any tips and advice that you can offer.

Thank you,

~Concerned Grandma

(photo credit)

Dear Concerned:

Imitation is the primary form of learning young children use to acquire new skills and understandings. They imitate adults, peers, and characters from television, books, movies, and video games. While this is a critical part of development, it can be concerning and frustrating when they choose models for their behavior that do not fit with our view of them or with how we want them to behave.

Five-year-olds have an increasing awareness of their peer relationships and how peers perceive them. They want to be liked and accepted by others. Children of this age are also beginning to develop understandings of the give and take relationship of leaders and followers.

Your granddaughter may be experimenting with where she fits into the social structure of her friendships with her peers and cousins. She may see herself as more of a follower or she may just be trying out that role. Her imitation may also be the way she is showing how much she admires or looks up to her peers and cousins. (I had a cousin who I adored as a little girl and tried to imitate her posture, speech, and behavior whenever I was around her!) Teach your granddaughter to think about the consequences (positive and negative) of her choices and model this as well. Being able to weigh pros and cons is an important piece of becoming a critical and independent thinker.

Your granddaughter may also have observed that these other children get attention or reinforcement from their behaviors or noticed that when she engages in them she receives a lot of attention. We reinforce behavior with attention, even if it’s negative attention. Focus on giving attention to the behaviors you want to reinforce and ignoring the behaviors that you don’t want to reinforce. It is not necessarily easy, but definitely effective.

While you see your granddaughter as amazing just as she is, she may not be so sure. As children begin comparing themselves with others, they do not always recognize their own strengths and skills as valuable. As parents and grandparents, we can foster our children’s self-esteem with specific positive recognition of the traits and behaviors we value. Recognize those innate qualities that make her special to you, i.e., her polite manners, her willingness to be helpful, her sense of humor, the empathy she shows for other in need, her determination, her problem solving skills, etc.

Remember that this experimentation is part of who she is and how she is learning. Help her find positive role models, recognize the behaviors you want to reinforce, and help her to see herself as you see her.

Share your ideas for supporting positive social development, self-confidence, and independent thinking.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to Lisa@milehighmamas.com, and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

The scariest thing about Halloween decorations is that they exist at all

‘Tis the season when decapitated mummies and axe-wielding ghouls haunt the aisles of grocery stores and the lawns of our neighbors.

It’s ugly out there.

My kids like to visit the Halloween slivers of stores, where orange and black reign supreme and candy buckets have moving claws. Rows of plastic skeletons hang limply from hooks, fugitives from plastic graves where plastic worms fed on plastic flesh. Or maybe they were born in a Chinese factory and assembled by baffled people who must think Americans are pretty weird to want these things. Which scenario is scarier?

We visit. We do not buy.

It is strange to want to bring death to our doorsteps when the other eleven months of the year we pretend it doesn’t exist. In October, it’s cool to have your brains eaten by a zombie. Hang a skeleton from your front yard tree in March and you are a blazing creep. I wouldn’t borrow an egg from you in a pinch. I’d rather lay it myself or suffer from the vague disappointment of sadly un-sproingy cupcakes. Now that is

Event Round-up: Trick or Treat Street, Boo at the Zoo, Free Halloween Concert & More!

Friday-Sunday. It’s a three-day Halloween extravaganza at the Children’s Museum of Denver’s Trick or Treat Street. There’s plenty of candy, of course, but also a full day of spooky activities. See live performances — like storytelling, magic and a visit from Ronald McDonald — or take a course in “Pumpkinology.” Vern’s Mini Train will be tooling around, giving rides for $2, and everyone’s invited to try some “Dirty Desserts.” Costumes, naturally, are encouraged. Check the event schedule online before heading out — it changes from day to day. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Children’s Museum of Denver, 2121 Children’s Museum Drive; 303-433-7444. Activities are included with museum admission: $8 for guests ages 2 to 59, $6 for 1-year-olds and seniors age 60 and older. For more information, visit mychildsmuseum.org.

Saturday-Sunday. All aboard the Trick or Treat Train at the Colorado Railroad Museum, when young train — and Halloween — enthusiasts haunt the CRRM looking for candy. The event’s geared toward littler kids, so the focus is on silly Halloween fun, and not big scares. A historic steam engine will pull train rides; visit the Not-So-Spooky Haunted Caboose, too. Snap photos in the pumpkin patch, make Halloween crafts and see who’s hanging around in the Old Railroaders’ Graveyard. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W. 44th Ave., Golden; 303-279-4591. Admission is $5 for kids, $12 for adults. Visit crrm.org for more information.

Saturday. Settle in for “A Spooky Halloween,” the Littleton Symphony Orchestra’s annual free family concert. Members of the LSO will perform in costume, meaning guests are invited to don their Halloween best, as well. Here’s an inspiration: The concert features Paul Dukas’ “The Sorceror’s Apprentice,” a song made famous by the Disney film “Fantasia.” Anyone have a broomstick costume? Or Mickey in a wizard hat? After the show, stick around for treats and more fun stuff. 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Littleton United Methodist Church, 5894 S. Datura St., Littleton. Admission is free. Learn more at littletonsymphony.org.

Saturday-Sunday. Those things hiding in the bushes are probably just peacocks, but you never know at the Denver Zoo’s annual “Boo at the Zoo.” The 26th annual Halloween blowout invites animal lovers to dress up in costume as they stroll through the zoo. Don’t forget to bring a bag — there’s more than 25 candy stations set up along the way. Check out live entertainment and creepy-animal demonstrations, too. To avoid parking problems, park at East High School or take the Light Rail to 30th and Downing; free shuttles will be provided. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St.; 303-376-4800. Admission is $13 for guests ages 12 to 64, $10 for seniors age 65 and older, $8 for kids ages 3 to 11. Visit denverzoo.org for more information.

Saturday. Salute El Dia de los Muertos at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center. Honoring deceased friends and loved ones, “The Day of the Dead” celebration features live entertainment, traditional food and special activities — decorate sugar skulls, make paper flowers and bring along items to add to the Community Altar. Take a tour of the “La Ofrenda de los Muertos” exhibit, too, updated for the 10th anniversary of the museum’s Dia de los Muertos fiesta. (It runs through Nov. 7.) Feel free to dress up as a calaca (a skeleton) if you please. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, 400 Quail Road, Longmont; 303-651-8374. Admission is free. Learn more at ci.longmont.co.us/museum.

Kathleen St. John

Denver Zombie Crawl 2010 – Yes! A *Family* Event!

OK. Maybe not for *every* family. But there sure were *a lot* of families there this year.

If you have never even *heard* of the Denver Zombie Crawl, let me enlighten you.

Started 5 years ago by Denver native Danny Newman, the event has grown exponentially every year until this year’s event, held last Saturday in Skyline Park, was attended by over 7,000 of the walking dead. SEVEN THOUSAND! That broke a Guinness World Record, people!

I was there. It certainly was a TON of zombies.

DenverZombieCrawl2010_23

Everyone gathers mid-afternoon, in the park, and OF COURSE, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is played, danced to, consumed, whatever – before the zombies are released on the 16th Street Mall. Then the Crawl begins in earnest.

Denver Deal: Halloween Fun, Qdoba and Art by Craft Market

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday.  I hope all the mamas check their kids’ Halloween haul to ensure their favorite candy is safe!  My kids abhor when I remind them I must “check” the candy – and somehow most of the Snickers and every 100 Grand bar does not pass muster – at least for THEM to eat. (Feel free to send me any of the ones you feel a little “suspect” about.)

Qdoba Kids Eat Free Weekend

Qdoba Mexican Grill  is is getting your Halloween celebration started right with a “Kids Eat Free” this weekend (Oct. 29-31). The weekend offer includes one free Kids Meal for children ages 12 or under with the purchase of one regular entrée and is available at all metro Denver Qdoba restaurants.

Children’s Museum Trick or Treat Street

The annual tradition of Trick or Treat Street at the Children’s Museum includes Trick or Treating, Monster Carnival, arts & crafts, storytime and more.  The hours are Friday, October 29 (9 a.m. – 8 p.m.), Saturday &  Sunday, October 30 & 31 (10 a.m. – 8 p.m.)

Downtown Aquarium

Kids in costume receive 1/2-price admission with a paid adult admission October 30 & 31 at the Downtown Aquarium.  The admission includes trick or treating, crafts, games and activities.

Art by Craft Market at MCA Denver

The Denver Handmade Alliance has joined forces with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for the second annual Art by Craft Market on Saturday, October 30 at MCA Denver.  The celebration billed as part art exhibit – part craft market open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. is FREE!  Plus, the first 50 people will get a bag full of handmade goodies.

Bass Pro Halloween

It’s the Great Pumpkin Peanut’s themed Halloween celebration at the Bass Pro Shop.  The party includes a costume parade, trick-or-treating, crafts (including trick-or-treat bags and pumpkin birdhouse), coloring sheets and of course, lots of photo opportunities!  Visit the website for full details.

Michael’s Arts and Craft’s Stores

Michael’s Arts and Craft’s stores help you get ready for Halloween.  Each day this week, you can make a craft project at a Michael’s store near you.  Crafts include masks, treat bags, bead projects, duct tape cuff and face painting.  

Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter!  Be sure to forward these great deals on to your friends.

You can also follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out!

Jeffco school becomes model for teaching kids with autism

Several years ago when Sarah Handy began teaching students with autism at Mortensen Elementary in Littleton, she found her students were rarely allowed to mix with other pupils in the Jefferson County school.

That has changed.

Now most of the 18 students with autism are integrated, and the work of the staff has caught the eye of the Colorado Department of Education.

Mortensen last week was named to be a model site for the Denver metro area in how to teach students with autism — providing the school with a $1,000 grant, training for teachers and an on-site coach.

The school has good inclusion practices, an anti-bullying program and an effective “Response to Intervention” model to give early assistance to children having difficulty learning.

“The goal is to provide the

Are tween girls’ costume options a soft-porn horror show?

“What should I be?” I overheard one girl asking another in a costume store recently.

I’m an eavesdropper, and this conversation was well worth following.

So, in all my middle-aged invisibility, I lingered as the pair of middle-schoolers contemplated their choices for Halloween.

These were tweens with braces and eyeliner — young enough to fit into kids’ sizes but determined to shop the women’s section.

“How’s this?” asked one holding a French maid costume over her skinny jeans and Juicy Couture T-shirt. The feather duster was sold separately.

“Sweet. Try it on,” urged the other as she pulled two costumes off the rack. One was a “Sexy Thumper Bunny.” The other, a “Deluxe Pirate Wench.”

The problem with eavesdropping is you can’t bust into the conversation. I couldn’t very well blurt out “No way, too slutty” to the

Sweet! Colorado is candy country you and your kids will love

This Halloween, instead of trying to pass yourself off as a costume- clad grade-schooler or rifling through your kid’s goody bag to claim the Halloween Parent Tax, visit one of Colorado’s prized candymakers to stockpile your own booty before the big night.

Moms and dads will hardly notice that pile of jawbreakers and lollipops once they’ve reserved a private, hidden stash of locally made, Grand Marnier-flavored truffles.

Colorado is home to a smorgasbord of independent confectioners and candy boutiques. Some sell their wares worldwide on the Internet, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise stores serve as Colorado’s chocolaty ambassadors to places including Canada and the Virgin Islands.

Many locals fondly remember the red-and-white barn in Wheat Ridge that for decades produced one of the state’s most delicious exports, Jolly Rancher candies. That company was acquired by Hershey in 2002, and the entire manufacturing operation moved to Pennsylvania. The worst part of the move: We lost those awesome factory tours.

But even with the relocation of Jolly Rancher, there are still many local candy companies, some offering tours. Take the kids or don’t;

Less Tricks, More Treats and Playing it Safe This Halloween

From costumes to candy, Halloween can get tricky. You want your child to have fun, but as a parent, it’s also your job to keep him safe and healthy. Read some tips from The Children’s Hospital on how to make the most of October 31st.

Trick-or-treating: How young is too young?
Young children (under age 10) should always be accompanied by a parent or trusted adult when trick-or-treating. Make sure kids know their home phone number, the cell phone numbers of parents, and how to call 9-1-1 in case they get lost.

What about older kids?
For older kids who go trick-or-treating on their own, make sure you approve of the route they’ll be taking and set a specific curfew for coming home. Also make sure that they:
o Carry a cell phone and a flashlight (with new batteries)
o Go in a group, stay together, and cross the street at crosswalks
o Only go to houses with porch lights on, and never walk through alleys or across lawns
o Know to never go into strangers’ homes or cars

They made it home safely. Now what?
Regardless of age, when your child gets home, check all treats to make sure they’re sealed with no signs of tampering (look for small pinholes, torn wrappers, or packages that appear to have been taped or glued back together). Throw out loose candy, spoiled items, and any homemade treats that haven’t been made by someone you know.

Find more tips for playing it safe on Halloween.

How can I limit sugar overload without being a “buzz kill?”
• Have dinner first. Before kids go trick-or-treating, try to serve a healthy meal so they’re not hungry when the candy starts coming in.
• Take inventory of how much candy your kids collect, and have them choose a select number of “favorites” from the candy they bring home; they can either eat that candy on Halloween, or spread the selection out over several days.
• Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To help avoid temptation for the whole family, buy your candy at the last minute. Read more about creating healthy Halloween habits.

One last idea: Play this online game with your kids to see how much candy it takes to add up to a whole day’s worth of calories.