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Laugh, Cry and Listen to These MileHighMama Mothers

Did you miss last year’s inaugural “Listen To Your Mother” shows in Denver and Boulder? No worries. The short vignettes from 2013 have been archived so you can laugh and cry in understanding and amusement from the comfort of your own home.

Maui Family Travel: Days 5 & 6 The Road to Hana and Maui’s best secret

Day 5—The Road to Hana

Me: “My goal on the road to Hana is to hike to a waterfall and eat a lot of fruit from the fruit stands.”

Jamie (driver): “My goal is to not throw up or kill anyone.”

Driving the 52-mile serpentine road along Maui’s rugged northeastern coastline to Hana was a divisive issue. Some told us “it’s pretty but after you’ve seen one waterfall you’ve seen them all” while others touted Hana as the last of Hawaii’s unspoiled frontiers. Our conclusion: if you love the remote and don’t mind hairpin turns and one-lane bridges, you will love Hwy. 36’s stunning seascapes, taro patches waterfalls, botanical gardens and verdant rainforests. 

Puaʻa Kaʻa State Wayside Park

Puaʻa Kaʻa State Wayside Park

With our guidebook Maui Revealed in hand, we had our route mapped out and planned to hike to a few lesser-known waterfalls. We quickly realized that other than obtuse mile markers, very few of the landmarks were marked, a curious phenomenon in a tourism-dominated land. We inadvertently drove past most of them in the beginning, after which we’d jokingly announce, “OK, moving on.”

Our drive wasn’t a complete fail. We did have a lovely respite at Puaʻa Kaʻa State Wayside Park’s 5 acres of rainforest with waterfalls and pools. We took frequent car breaks to play Tarzan on banyan tree vines to give my carsick daughter respite from the 620 curves on the drive.

Ching’s Pond (Blue Sapphire Pool)’s plunging pools near marker 17 was a lovely lesser-known refuge with waterfalls tucked under a bridge.  After climbing down a steep, narrow path, we dipped our toes into the icy waters that were laced with petals. To coax my daughter in, Jamie told her “Think of it as a fancy bathtub with flowers everywhere.” Or rather, ice cubes….

Our favorite place in Maui was hidden just past mile marker 25: lower Nahiku. We turned off the highway and drove 2.5 miles through a lush unbroken jungle canopy, where even the trees had plants growing on them. The road was lined with rubber trees and tropical flowers in a flamboyant Dr. Seuss-colors-meet-the -Emerald City. The road dead-ended at Opuhano Point with the best coastal views of our drive. The angry ocean pounded the lava rock, palm fronds prayed in the wind. More white than blue, white caps reigned as we marveled at Honolulunui Bay to our left. “What is this place?” we breathed.

Nahiku

Nahiku

I wished I could absorb the colors, sounds and smell of this place and throw them back at reality.

 As you get closer to Hana, there are more frequent fruit stands (many of which are left unattended and you pay by the honor system). We stopped at Coconut Glen’s and though I didn’t love the dairy-free coconut ice cream made with coconut milk (not creamy and sweet enough) the coconut candy was out of this world. If I hadn’t blown my kids’ inheritance on the marginally good candy at Julia’s, I’d have bought out the store.

 One of the most popular beaches outside of Hana is Wai‘anapanapa State Park. Famous for its black sand, we loved this 122-acre park but not just because of its small beach with black marble rocks.  We took a short hike through the native hala forest and Hadley hurled off the ledge into a fresh-water cave. We also explored the low-cliffed volcanic coastline to the natural stone arch, sea stacks, anchialine pools, heiau (religious temple) and blow holes as a seabird colony squawked overhead.

Wai‘anapanapa

Wai‘anapanapa

 Want to eat past 4 p.m.? Good luck finding a restaurant or food truck that is open. Need to get some money? The bank is only open a couple of hours a day. Our Hana frustrations were also why we loved it so much. Most people only daytrip to Hana but I’m so glad we spent a glorious 24 hours in this unapologetically remote, virtually untouched coastal village dotted with cascading waterfalls and sparkling blue pools, punctuated by red- and black-sand beaches.

 And tell me if the road to Hana isn’t worth every twist and turn to get there.

 Day 6—Hana and South Maui

Hike to Fagan's Cross

Hike to Fagan’s Cross

We stayed at Travaasa’s experiential resort we had our first real golf experience on the 3-hole pitch and putt golf course, took ukulele lessons, played tennis, checked out their bikes to explore Hana, swam in the pool and learned Hana’s history at the Activity Center.

On the green hills above Travaasa stands a 30-foot-high white cross made of lava rock that citizens erected in honor of Paul Fagan, founder of Hana Ranch (now Travaasa). At sunrise, I hiked the 1-mile trail through a field of cattle to Fagan’s Cross. As the sun crept above the ocean, I marveled at Hana, a tiny postage stamp of a town dwarfed by a land where mountains meet the sea. Perched above an avalanche of banyans, bamboo, breadfruit trees and a wild ginger and plumeria flowers, the summit smelled like a botanical garden and I was singing Hana’s praises along with the roosters and birds.

Hamoa Beach. We had a glorious few hours playing at this crescent-shaped hala-tree-lined beach that is consistently ranked one of Maui’s top beaches. The beach is intimate—approximately 1,000 feet in length and just over 100 feet wide with plenty of trees and vegetation for shade with sea cliffs framing it.

During our visit, the highway was closed, leaving the only parking nearly a mile away. We saw a dad drop off his family, park the car and run back. We were vacillating between Hamoa and the more easily accessible Hana Beach Park so we queried “How good is it?” He replied, “It’s the best bodysurfing you’ll find on the island. The water is crystal-clear and there are no crowds.” It was just that good.

Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach

Seven Sacred Pools. Just 15 minutes south of Hana on the lower slopes of Haleakala are the Seven Sacred Pools (originally coined the Pools of ‘Ohe’o). There are several hiking trails in the area and we opted for the ½-mile round-trip Kuloa Point Trail through a bamboo forest to these infamously tiered pools that are fed by waterfalls.  

Seven sacred pools

Seven sacred pools

The pools get busy but we were miraculously alone so Hadley jumped in, and despite her relentless begging, the rest of us killjoys stayed dry. And yes, would live to regret it just as she said we would.

 The Road Less Traveled. We had two options leaving Hana. We could either return the way we came on the Hana Highway or attempt the less-traveled, more adventurous route along the Piilani Highway (Highway 31). We chose adventure.

 We received many cautionary tales against driving the Piilani Highway. Sure, it had a bumpy along the 4-mile stretch of unpaved road, the occasional blind curves added an element of difficulty and the one-and-a-half-lane-hugging-cliff-hugging section wasn’t fun but we loved this adventure of it.

 At least I did: the non-driver.

Pokowai sea arch

Pokowai sea arch

But we took it slow and there were plenty of worthwhile sights along this sometimes-perilous journey that included famed aviator Charles Lindbergh’s grave, Alelele Falls, St. Joseph’s historic church, Pu’u Maneoneo Petroglyphs and Pokowai sea arch. We passed through several climate zones along the ocean as the virgin rainforest flanked by jade mountains gave way to the backside of Haleakala, ranchland, dry grassland, lavascapes reminiscent of Mordor and ultimately back into the lush green views of Kula’s cloud forest.

From Kipahulu it may be 38 miles to Kula, but it will likely take you about two hours to arrive. This drive isn’t for everyone but we appreciated the stark and dramatic scenery that was devoid of tourist infrastructure. Our guidebook referred to this part of the island as ugly but surely they haven’t driven Wyoming anytime recently.

Maui doesn’t know how to do ugly.

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Join us on our week-long journey to Maui! In case you missed them:
Maui Family Travel–Your guide to 7 days in paradise Days 1 & 2
Maui Family Travel: Days 3 and 4 in the Glorious Upcountry and Beach Bums
Maui Family Travel: Days 5 & 6 The Road to Hana and Maui’s Best-kept Secret
Maui Family Travel: Day 7′s “Sunny” Wailea and a Luau Farewell
4 kid-friendly Maui hotels and resorts your family will love

Maui Family Travel: Days 3 and 4 in the Glorious Upcountry and Beach Bums

Join us on our week-long journey to Maui! In case you missed it: Maui Family Travel–Your guide to 7 days in paradise Days 1 & 2.

Day 3—Maui’s Glorious Upcountry

Maui’s “upcountry” is a cluster of sites located 2,000+ feet up the slope of the famed crater Haleakala. What we expected: a welcome respite from our sunburned couple of days at the beach.  What we did: fell in love.

Parts of this region are referred to as the “Maui Alps.” With cooler temperatures, gorgeous bi-coastal views and a tropical forest, it was easy to see why so many locals live here. Watching the sunrise and sunset from atop 10,023-foot Haleakala is legendary (though finding parking is not).

We opted to drive to the summit in the mid-afternoon once the crowds cleared. Our guidebook assured us that, though a ring of clouds often shrouded the mountain it generally cleared at the summit.  As we wove around Haleakala National Park, I read the kids stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture that protected this land and its people. Lush rain forest gave way to pine, which evolved into shrub lands to volcanic landscape that was curiously similar to Colorado’s tundra.

Haeakala clouds

Haeakala clouds

 At the 17-mile mark, we hopped out of the car to hike a few minutes to the Leleiwi Lookout, which, at 8,800 feet, boasts stunning views across a 3,000-foot deep crater and all the way to Kihei on the coast. Allegedly. All we saw were clouds.

We kept driving the sinuous road until we reached the summit, prepared to be wowed. For a brief moment, the mists surrounding us cleared to reveal…more clouds below. No ocean views. No magnificent horizons. The kids were disappointed as Jamie wryly commented, “The beach got better reviews.”

 Our letdown didn’t keep us from hiking in the glorious temperatures (about 30 degrees cooler at the summit). There are a number of trails but we selected the Sliding Sands Trail, which descends 2,400 feet 4 miles into the enormous and otherworldly crater’s dizzying array of yellows, pinks and reds. There are cabins in the crater available for rent for a lucky lottery winner.

View from Kula Lodge

View from Kula Lodge

Kula Lodge. When you think of Maui, you don’t exactly think of a rustic retreat with a roaring fire but that’s you’ll find at Kula Lodge, which we nicknamed the “Garden of Eating.” Perched like a Swiss Chalet at 3,200 feet along the Haleakala Highway, the food is good and the drop-dead views of the Pacific Ocean and West Maui mountains are even better. The private tropical gardens are bursting with carnations, protea and other blossoms as the birds chirp wildly in the avocado and Jacaranda trees.  Try the macadamia nut baked brie, Country Chicken Curry or the Kiawe Smoked Pork Pizza topped with homemade pineapple salsa and mango BBO sauce.

Kula Country Farm. Be sure to stop at this quaint stand if you’re craving fresh fruits and vegetables or jams to take home as souvenirs. Run by a fourth generation local farming community, they’re renowned for their U-pick island strawberries, Kula Onions and sweet Kula corn.  The property is small but inviting with striking ocean views, a great place to picnic and a few animals (my daughter took about 100 pictures of the fat rabbit). I secretly inhaled the Macadamia Nut Magic Cookie Bar and I wish I could recommend the orange crème jam I bought but it was confiscated at airport security.

I demand a do-over.

 Day 4—Ka’anapali Beach Bums

North Ka'anapali Beach

North Ka’anapali Beach

If Maui has a signature beach, it is 3-mile long Ka’anapli Beach’s white sands and crystal clear water in West Maui. Ka’anapli was Hawaii’s first planned resort and five hotels and six condominium villages face this popular beach. Translation: The beach is beautiful and the snorkeling is incredible but in many places, you’ll have to navigate the crowds to enjoy it.

Beach Walk. We stayed at Honua Kai Resort and Spa’s luxurious condominiums on Ka’anapali North Beach. One of my most memorable mornings was watching the sunrise as I ran the  Ka’anapali Beach Trail, a mile-long trail that passed by high-end shopping at Whaler’s Village, restaurants and hotels with the Sheraton and Hyatt as bookends.

We dedicated an entire day to exploring the expansive beach. The middle sections of the beach are excellent for body surfing and the beach north of Black Rock, though not a secret, is much quieter without the crowds. My kids spent several hours at unspoiled palm-tree-lined Ka’anapali North Beach in front of Honua Kai Resort jumping waves and marveled as a mama whale taught her calf how to lob his tail before he was carried away in her  “slip stream,”  a type of hydrodynamic wake that develops as the mother swims.

Black Rock. If you ask anyone where to snorkel on Maui, they’ll almost universally reply, “Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach.” Adjacent to the Sheraton, this rock (called Pu’u Keka’a) separates the two halves of Ka’anapali Beach. We parked and lunched at Hula Grill at Whaler’s Village (read: parking validation) and made the quick walk to Black Rock.

Black Rock

Black Rock

Despite threatening skies, big crowds and cliff divers soaring overheard, the marine life we discovered while snorkeling was, indeed the best we found on the island with natural underwater treasures that included sea turtles on steroids, urchins embedded between the black rocks and a kaleidoscope of fish.

Sheraton’s Cliff Diving Ceremony. One of the things we loved most about Maui is its flamboyant history. Black Rock is notorious for where Hawaiian spirits would leap to meet their ancestors when they died. Every night at dusk, a cliff diver reenacts the feat of Maui’s revered King Kahekili who bravely dove from the cliff at Black Rock into the churning sea a.k.a the neverworld.

It was an unapologetically touristy production but we couldn’t help but get swept away with the ancient pahu drums, the triton shell horns calling the hula dancers to the beachside as the tiki torches were lit to match the blazing sunset.

Photo: Sheraton Maui

Photo: Cliff Diver. Credit: Sheraton Maui

The public congregated on the beach to watch the ceremony but we had the best vantage point of all: the Sheraton’s Cliff Dive Grill. Try the flame-grilled chicken, beef and shrimp skewers with Maui onions, bell papers and mushrooms with signature dipping sauces cilantro-Lime Honey, Kimchee Miso Aioli & Spicy Hoisin. You’ll swear you, too have entered the afterlife.

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Join us on our week-long journey to Maui! In case you missed them:
Maui Family Travel–Your guide to 7 days in paradise Days 1 & 2
Maui Family Travel: Days 3 and 4 in the Glorious Upcountry and Beach Bums
Maui Family Travel: Days 5 & 6 The Road to Hana and Maui’s Best-kept Secret
Maui Family Travel: Day 7′s “Sunny” Wailea and a Luau Farewell
4 kid-friendly Maui hotels and resorts your family will love

Denver Deal: Soybu, Chick-Fil-A, Free Days, and more

LiveWell Colorado once again is encouraging Colorado to GET MOVING with their Colorado Get Movin’ Challenge. For just one month commit to move 30 minutes per day to win some really great prizes. It’s easy to track your movement using the @MapMyFitness App (which is free to download). What a great way to get out and enjoy the Colorado weather and teach your kids that movement and exercise are not drudgery – but can be a lot of fun. Play with the dog in the yard, explore a park, fly a kite, take a walk – no matter what you decide – just decide to get moving!

Soybu

Not that long ago we (Mamas) were invited to the Grand Opening night of the Soybu store in Greenwood Village (2500 E. Orchard Rd). I bought a dress while I was there – that I have gotten compliments on EVERY time I wear it. So I was excited to hear they are hosting an Exclusive VIP Shopping Day on Wednesday, April 30 (all day). The event celebrates the launch of the new Batik line and Watercolors Swim collection. You can score 25% off everything in the store and with a purchase of $200 or more you will receive their Dhara maxi dress or Marisol Skort for FREE.

Chick-Fil-A Breakfast

This Wednesday is the last day to participate in the Chick-fil-A® Breakfast Giveaway. During breakfast hours (6 -10:30 a.m.), visit any Denver area Chick-fil-A to receive a free breakfast entrée and a Chick-fil-A® Chicken Biscuit.

Harkins Summer Movies

Harkins Theatres’ wildly popular annual kid’s movie program, Summer Movie Fun, kicks off Monday, June 9. Season tickets are on sale now at the box office. Season tickets are $5 for all 10 movies. That’s only $.50 per movie! Individual tickets can be purchased on the day of show for $2 each. Doors open at 9 a.m. and all shows begin at 9:45 a.m. Movies this summer include: Escape from Planet Earth; Epic; Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs; Smurfs 2; Despicable Me 2; Croods; The Lego Movie; Turbo; Free Birds; and Horton Hears a Who.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club is hosting a Spring Open House May 2-4. No membership required. You can wander in and have an amazing array of samples which include recipes for great cook out items like classic pasta salad, Patriotic Chips and Dip, and Chicken and Sausage Nachos. (Membership is worth the free lunch we get in samples almost every Saturday!)

Protein Bar Grand Opening

Protein Bar, a beloved, quick-casual restaurant serving fast, healthy and delicious meals from morning through night will open their first Denver location in the Union Station project on Tuesday, May 6th at 11:00 a.m. Protein Bar offers healthful and flavorful menu items like quinoa bowls packed with veggies and lean proteins, fresh salads, and “Bar-ritos” made with fresh and organic ingredients wrapped in whole-grain tortillas, plus raw juices and signature blended drinks. The Denver store will also serve breakfast including their signature Greek yogurt bowls, steel-cut oatmeal bowls topped with fresh fruit, and veggie-filled egg white scrambles.
The official grand opening is Tuesday, May 6th at 11:00 am and the first 100 people in line will receive a $100 gift card to Protein Bar

FREE DAYS

  • Saturday, May 3 – Denver Art Museum and Colorado Railroad Museum
  • Sunday, May 4 – Boulder History Museum
  • Monday, May 5 – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
  • Tuesday, May 6 – Children’s Museum of Denver (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!
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Maui Family Travel–Your guide to 7 days in paradise!

Shortly after touching down at the Kahului, Maui airport, my 7-year-old son Bode squealed, “Pinch me. Is this a dream?”

It sure felt like one. A few months prior, I had won our trip to paradise through the Maui Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in what they deemed was “the best reaction we’ve ever received” (think: the next contestant on the Price is Right).

As the second largest in the Hawaiian Islands, Maui’s geography is a lesson in diversity. High-altitude mountains topping out at over 10,000 feet, dazzling white, black and red sand beaches, the gloriously remote Hana and the famous road to get there are a few reasons why Maui was voted the “Best Island” by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler for 19 years.

napilibayUpon arriving at our hotel Napili Kai Beach Resort at dusk, we hit the beach. The 3-hour time difference was wreaking havoc on sleepy Bode but he was reenergized when he launched into the water and watched the breaching whales in the distance (whale season is Dec.-April). As the coal-colored sun dipped behind nearby islands Lanai and Molokai, it set the sky and ocean on fire.

Bode marveled and queried, “What time is it in Denver, Dad?”

 “Denver is dead to us, son.”

Maui Day 1—Settling in and West Maui

 I crafted the following 7-day itinerary around four different lodging properties on various parts of Maui for the most optimal in family-fun.

First item of business: load up on food items at Costco, just 1.5 miles from the airport. Though prices are a bit higher than the Mainland, you won’t find better local deals. We brought a collapsible cooler and saved ourselves hundreds of dollars by eating two meals a day on-the-go. Related: I never want to see another apple or Honey Nut Cheerio again.

shaveiceMy seatmate on the airplane claimed to have a Shave Ice Ph.D., raving that Ululani’s Shave Ice was the most creamy and delicious in the world and we concurred. Get coconut ice cream on the bottom and tropical flavor combinations are the best (I loved guava, passion fruit and strawberry). Top it off with the snowcap (a sweet cream mixture) that is worth the extra 5,000 calories. Locations are in Lahaina or Kehei; make sure you stroll historic whaling town Lahaina’s charming Front Street for some of the most affordable souvenirs we found on the island.

West Maui. Once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and the capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom, West Maui is now home to fabulous beaches, shopping and dining. We spent a leisurely day paddleboarding, snorkeling and swimming Napili Bay. There is an ordinance here that bans high-rises and motorboats, making this an idyllic cove with gentle waters for families.  The full service Sea House Restaurant sits oceanfront and we had one of more scenic and delicious dining experiences here (recommended: the Molokai Sweet Potato Egg Frittata and the Macadamia cinnamon roll).

 It was my kids’ first time snorkeling and paddleboarding. My 9-year-old daughter Hadley’s snorkeling enthusiasm was adorable at first—until she grabbed me every time she saw a colorful fish or sea urchin. If my claw marks were any indication, my ravaged arm bore witness that snorkeling Napili Bay was a win.

Father-daughter paddleboarding date

Father-daughter paddleboarding date at Napili Bay

 We rented a stand-up paddleboard through Napili Kai’s activity concierge. I had SUPed only once before on a gentle canal and I had serious concerns about navigating the ocean so opted for the gentle waves on the north side of the beach. Before long, I was shocked to effortlessly glide around the bay but almost fell off my board when Crush himself swam right up to me. Like a Beatles groupie, I freaked out and squealed “A SEA TURTLE” but he ignored my uncoolness as he languidly bobbed beside me, ducking his head in and out of the water. I think I may have even heard him comment, “DUUUUDE.”

Day 2—Exploring the Top of West Maui

We had a splendid day exploring West Maui (which is actually northwest Maui but don’t try to convince a local to call it that). North of Napili you’ll find some of the island’s most jaw-dropping vistas, lava formations and tide pools. The complication is the drive along the top of Maui has a bad reputation for about 1.5-miles of highway on a very narrow paved one-lane road, which scares many people off.

Just before the 33 mile marker, Honolua Bay is famous for its awesome snorkeling in the summer and big waves in the winter and the lava-shaped Dragon’s Teeth at Makalua-puna Point are a site (and sight) to behold.

 Our two favorite sites were the Nakalele Blowhole (an unmarked parking lot past the 28-mile marker) and the Olivine Pools (right before the 16-mile marker). After a steep, rocky descent (not recommended for really small kids), we reached a lava rock planet with the blowhole spurting out a stream of water every time the waves pounded to the shore. In the background, the black masses of three whales exhaled with a force so abrupt we could almost feel the mists.

Nakalele Blowhole

Nakalele Blowhole

Hiking down the cliffs to the Olivine Pools was no less impressive where a calm playground of natural swimming pools are nestled in an ancient lava shelf as the ocean pounded around us. As Hadley launched off the rocks into the pools, the rest of us watched a number of wildlife dramas unfold: six whales breaching, a suicidal crab clinging to the edge of a mini blowhole and a feeding frenzy of some Maui myna birds.

Olivine Pools

Olivine Pools

Once back on the road, Highway 30 turned into gnarly Highway 340 (temporarily one-lane next to a precipitous cliff) but we were determined to keep driving to picturesque Kahakuloa Village, the isolated tropical green home to about 100 people, a church and Julia’s Best Banana Bread stand. The bread was deliciously dark and carmelized and since it was lunchtime, we also bought a small tub of her sub-par coconut candy for $15.

I would have determined it was highway robbery if we were, indeed on a real highway.

We quickly devoured the banana bread and mere moments after we started driving, the candy got knocked over but we ate it anyway.

I later commented, “At least we didn’t scrimp on lunch,” to which my husband responded, “That’s because we ate off the floor in our rental car.”

 Maui Friday Town Parties

If you want to experience Maui’s local vibe, be sure to check-out this street fair that rotates between four historic towns—Wailuku, Lahaina, Makawao and Kehei –every Friday. With free entertainment including live music, food booths, trucks and activities, Maui Friday is the pulse of the island. We planned to drive south to Keihi…until we arrived at the abandoned parking lot and it had been canceled due to rain. We hunkered down at nearby Coconut’s Fish Café, drowning our sorrows in their Zagat-rated fish tacos.

P.S. The Taco Mountain will make you pray for rain again.

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Join us on our week-long journey to Maui! In case you missed them:
Maui Family Travel–Your guide to 7 days in paradise Days 1 & 2
Maui Family Travel: Days 3 and 4 in the Glorious Upcountry and Beach Bums
Maui Family Travel: Days 5 & 6 The Road to Hana and Maui’s Best-kept Secret
Maui Family Travel: Day 7’s “Sunny” Wailea and a Luau Farewell
4 kid-friendly Maui hotels and resorts your family will love

Kids Eat Free Denver

Let’s face it: eating out with your entire family can get pricy. That’s why we’ve rounded up these Denver-area restaurants that offer “kids eat free” or at a discounted rate with a paying adult on select days. Be sure to note that restaurants require kids to order off the kid’s menu, are valid for dine-in only and most offers are for kids 12 and under unless otherwise specified.

These deals are ever-changing and are not always the same at every location so be sure to always call ahead to the restaurant to confirm they are still offering it. 

Monday

Ajuua Mexican Restaurants (Aurora and North Denver). Kids 10 and under eat for a penny for each adult dinner entree purchased.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Thornton, Highlands Ranch, Park Meadows. Wesminster). Offers $1.99 kids meals.

Beau Jo’s. One free kids meal for each adult entree purchased. Denver 5-8 p.m.; Boulder after 4 p.m.; Evergreen after 5 p.m.

Café Mexicali (Boulder) – Kids eat FREE (up to 2) with purchase of adult entrée. 303-442-5588.

CiCi’s Pizza (Aurora and Westminster). Kids get the buffet for 99 cents on Mondays when a parent buys a buffet and drink.

Cinebarre (Louisville). Kids eat free. 303-926-0661.

Cinzzetti’s (Northglenn). Two kids eat free for each adult buffet purchased.

El Parral restaurants (Greenwood Village and Centennial) Kids eat free.

Gunther Toody’s. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Kids 12 and under eat for free (one kids meal per adult meal purchase)

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

Larkburger (downtown Denver and Littleton). Kids eat free after 4 p.m.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza (Denver). Kids get for $1 when their parents spend $15.

Mici Handcrafted Italian (downtown and Cherry Creek North). Free after 4 p.m. One free kids meal per adult entree.

Merle’s (Littleton) 5 p.m. to close. Two free kids meals per adult meal

Quaker Steak and Lube. Kids eat for 99 cents all day. One free kids meal per adult entree purchased.

Rumbi Island Grill After 4 p.m., get one free kids meal for each adult entree purchased.

Texas Roadhouse. Kids 12 and under eat for $0.99 (one kids meal per adult meal purchase). Varies by location so call ahead.

The Yard House (Lakewood only) lets kids eat free. They offer parents two free kids meals for each adult entree purchased.

Village Inn. Kids (10 & under) eat FREE with purchase of adult entrée.

Woody’s Wood-fired Pizza (Arvada and Denver) – Kids 10 & under eat free with purchase of adult entrée.

Tuesday

Atlanta Bread Company (Aurora, Northglenn) 4 p.m. to close. For each adult meal purchased, children 12 and under get a free kids meal, cookie and a drink.

Beau Jo’s (Arvada) One free kids meal for each adult entree purchased.

Black-eyed Pea. Kids 12 and under eat for free all day (one kids meal per adult meal purchase)

BD’s Mongolian Grill. Kids eat for $2 all day.

Bliss Frozen Yogurt (Arvada). Kids eat free 6-9 p.m.

Cinzzetti’s (Northglenn). Two kids eat free for each adult buffet purchased.

Denny’s. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Kids 10 and under eat for free (two kids meals per adult meal purchase)

Famous Dave’s. Kids 10 and under eat for free (one kids meal per adult meal purchase)

Fazoli’s. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Kids 12 and under eat for 99¢ (two kids meals per adult meal purchase)

Genghis Grill. Kids 11 and under get one free kids meal for each adult bowl purchased.

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

IKEA. Kids Eat Free from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.. Kids (12 and under) choose one combo meal valued at $2.49 with paying adult. (888) 888-4532

Lone Star Steakhouse (Thornton, Littleton).  Kids eat free all day when an adult purchases a meal.

McAlister’s Deli (Aurora). Kids 12 and under eat free on Tuesdays from 5-8 p.m One free kids meal for each adult meal purchased.

The Melting Pot (Littleton and Louisville). Kids eat free for each adult 4-course meal purchased from 5-7 p.m.

Pasquini’s Pizzeria (Denver). Kids eat free after 5 p.m.

The Rib BBQ restaurant (Lakewood). For each adult platter you buy, you can get one child’s size platter.

Rumbi Island Grill After 4 p.m., get one free kids meal for each adult entree purchased.

Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery. 4-8 p.m. Two kids eat free for each adult entree purchased (drinks not included). 2730 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver. (303) 756-3072

Tony P’s Bar & Pizzeria. Kids eat free all day. 

Zocalo Restaurant & Bar Kids (12 & under) eat free with purchase of adult entrée. 12 E. 11th Ave., Denver, (720) 382-1940.

Wednesday

Applebee’s. Kids 12 and under eat for 99¢ (up to four kids per adult meal purchase)

BD’s Mongolian Grill. Kids eat for $2 all day.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Thornton). Offers $1.99 kids meals.

HuHot Mongolian Grill & BBQ. Starting at 4 p.m. Kids 12 and under eat for free (One kid per adult. Must eat from the stir-fry, not kids meals).

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

Lodo’s Bar & Grill (Westminster and Highlands Ranch). Kids 12 & under eat free from 6- 9 p.m. with purchase of adult entrée.

Thursday

Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen. Kids 12 and under eat for free (two kids meals per adult meal purchase)

 C.B. & Potts. Kids get eat for 99 cents for each adult meal purchased.

Country Buffet–Kids eat for 99 cents.

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Kids eat free on Thursdays after 4 p.m. Varies by location.

Friday

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

Saturday

Denny’s. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Kids 10 and under eat for free (two kids meals per adult meal purchase)

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase).

Tavern restaurants.  10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Two kids get the brunch buffet for free for each adult brunch purchase.

Uno Chicago Grill (Denver Kids 12 and under: one meal for each adult meal purchased.

Sunday

Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen. Kids 12 and under eat for free (two kids meals per adult meal purchase)

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Kids 12 and under eat for free (one free kids meal per adult meal purchase)

FelFel Mediterranean. Kids 10 and under eat free (one free kids meal per adult meal purchase).

GB Fish & Chips. Get one free kids meal for each adult half-meal purchased.

IHOP. 4-10 p.m. Kids 12 and under to eat for free (one free kids meal for per adult meal purchase). Locations vary.

The Melting Pot. Kids eat free for each adult 4-course meal. Littleton 2:30-4:45 p.m.; Louiseville 4-6 p.m.

Randolph’s Restaurant. Kids 12 & under eat free at the all-you-can-eat gourmet brunch with purchase of two adult brunches. Warwick Denver Hotel, 1776 Grand, Denver, (303) 318-7272.

Second Home Kitchen and Bar Kids 8 and under eat wear PJs and eat free off the Kids Brunch Menu from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. JWMarriott 150 Clayton Lane, Denver, (303)253-3000.

Tavern restaurants.  10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Two kids get the brunch buffet for free for each adult brunch purchase.

Do any of these need updating? Please leave a comment and we’ll make the change!

 

Kids entering the world of electronic communication? How to help them be safe!

So it’s happened: Your kid wants to text. They have friends, and they want to keep in touch with their friends the modern way. Are you ready to just hand them over to whichever texting app their phone comes with? And do you know about everything that’s out there already? It’s not just words anymore — now kids can send each other photos and videos. And the universe of emoticons!

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be fine. Here are a few things about texting that can help you and your kids navigate the world of safe electronic communications.

First, use an app with parental controls. MouseMail’s WebTxT filtering allows kids to send text messages from their email account to any phone from your approved list of contacts. It also scans messages for inappropriate content. The service is a child-friendly introduction to texting — sort of like training wheels before they try out the real thing.

TextFree with voice (Free on iOS & Android ) can be set up for your child to use on their device — but with your email address and password so you can monitor their conversations via the service’s website. It comes with a free phone number kids can use if they have access to WiFi but aren’t on a phone plan. This app is not designed for children, by the way; it’s intended for users age 13 and older, and it includes ads. You’ll want to talk about not clicking on those ads before your kid starts using this app.

Another way to stay in the loop on your kids’ communication is an app called TxtWatcher (Free on Android via TxtWatcher website; not supported on iOS yet). Install the app on your child’s phone, and you can watch and record the messages and pictures being sent. The app will even translate texting terms for you. Personally, this feels intrusive to me. But it’s an option for parents who are especially concerned about the kinds of conversations their kids are having.

As long as you’ve set your child up with a device and texting, it might be a good idea to download iEmergency ICE Pro ($2 iOS; $3.99 Android; $.99 for similar Blackberry app). This app provides emergency personnel access to your child’s medical information, like allergies, medications, doctors and whom to contact in case of emergency.

So that’s the good; now let’s talk about the bad and the ugly. Whichever apps your kids use, you want to select NO geolocator. Refuse requests to allow the app to use your location or enter your zip code. I know that you probably want to know where your kids are, but you don’t want predators to know. Avoid apps like Kik Messenger which are not private and which can invade your child’s contact list. You may have heard about SnapChat, which allows users to send photos that disappear? Not for the kids. And even more innocent photo apps like Instagram should be used with care since texting apps can access them, and Instagram Direct essentially serves as a photo texting app.

You’ll also want to establish some texting etiquette rules. Are there time limits for texting? Is there a nighttime curfew? What about texting during mealtimes or at school? Whatever rules your kids have for texting, make sure you have rules that you respect as well, parents. No texting at the table if your kids aren’t allowed to do it. No bullying behavior or harassment allowed.

Keeping an eye on your kids’ texting activity in moderation is a good idea, but be careful not to become obsessive with your monitoring. You don’t have to track their every communication. Pay attention to their outward behavior and be alert to major red flags before zeroing in on their online and texting activity.

By Adriana Velez, Digital First Media

5 Important Ways to Teach Your Kids Empathy

Kids say the darndest things! We have all experienced the pure innocence and honesty of a child. “ Mommy, your teeth look yellow” or  “Daddy, your nose is big.” Maybe you’ve experienced what’s even more humiliating … your child’s sharing their innocent, honest and totally inappropriate thoughts to a stranger. Or, maybe your child isn’t the “verbal” type and these examples don’t sound familiar. Lucky you!

But what about grabbing toys away from other children and not noticing the other child is now crying? How about hitting their baby brother or sister and feeling little to no remorse? You can’t help but wonder what happened to your sweet innocent baby, and why some of their behaviors resemble, well, a little monster.

No, the behaviors described above–or similar ones that might be found in your home–do not make these children monsters. In fact, children ages three to five years old simply are not developmentally capable of understanding empathy.  However, with the help and leadership from parents and teachers, children can  develop a sense of empathy, caring, altruism and appreciation for other people and different situations.

 Empathy might seem quite simple and straightforward to adults. However, empathy is quite complex which makes it difficult for preschoolers to understand. Empathy consists of three skills:

 1. Self- awareness and the ability to distinguish one’s feelings

2. Being able to take another person’s perspective as to “putting yourself in others’ shoes”

3. The ability to regulate one’s emotions

Make It OR Buy It? A Fun Kitchen Experiment (with recipes!)

I recently read a fun article in the brand-new All Recipes magazine. The author was doing an analysis on made-from-scratch versus store bought items. I thought this was brilliant, so I decided to test a few items for myself.

Pricing below is taken from Walmart and I used recipes from AllRecipes.com  for simplicity sake. I’ve rated each item in FOUR categories: 1) cost, 2) time, 3) taste, 4) health.

A few things you’ll need to know: First, I’m not a math geek. I’m good at rough numbers, so expect that what it comes to the “cost” category to find a lot of approximation going on. Second, “time” is kind of a stupid category. Generally speaking, it’s always going to be faster to drop something pre-made into your grocery cart… unless you have to make a special trip for salad dressing, for example.  Lastly, taste and health can sometimes contradict one another. I think things should taste good AND be healthy.

Now on to the experiment!

BISCUIT MIX

Bisquick

1)      Cost: ($3.28 for 40 oz. – approximately 28 servings) This stuff isn’t expensive.

2)      Time: Fast.

3)      Taste: It’s not bad, especially if this is what you’re used to using in your cooking/baking.

4)      Health: Contains enriched flour, partially hydrogenated oil, and dextrose.

Home-made Biscuit Mix

1)      Cost: ($15 to buy all supplies; about $3.50 cost breakdown – approximately 48 servings) Cheap! Considering you have most of these items already in your pantry, the cost is very low.

2)      Time: Fast. You can mix this together is less than 10 minutes. (And like the store bought kind, you just add milk.)

3)      Taste: Very good – in my opinion homemade is always better.

4)      Health: You decide on your ingredients, so you control salt, type of flour, etc. Be sure to store in the refrigerator.

SALAD DRESSING

Kraft Salad Dressing

1)      Cost: ($2.98 for 24 oz. – approximately 24 servings  Reasonable. And if you use coupons you can probably get it for pennies.

2)      Time: Fast.

3)      Taste: I’m generally not a fan of bottled salad dressing, so I’m biased. Some are better than others… let’s just leave it at that.

4)      Health: Obviously varies by type of dressing. Sugar is almost always added. Things like “Xanthan gum” and “natural flavors” I can do without.

Home-made Salad Dressing

1)      Cost: ($1.75 for about 12 servings) This is a very reasonable price. I chose a recipe with a few special ingredients (lemon, poppy seeds) to reflect a potentially higher cost. The cost will vary based on your ingredients. A simple vinaigrette can be oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper – now were’ talking pennies.

2)      Time: Fast. Throw all of your ingredients into a jar with a screw on lid and shake. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

3)      Taste: Delish. Fresh and you can adjust to your liking.

4)      Health: Again, there’s no guess-work – you know what you’re putting in there. This recipe calls for sugar, but since you’re making it you have the freedom to use agave or honey.  

BREAD CRUMBS

Progresso Bread Crumbs

1)      Cost: ($2.36 for 8 oz. – about 8 servings) I don’t know about you, but I usually only need bread crumbs once in a great while. Two dollars isn’t going to break the bank.

2)      Time: Fast.

3)      Taste: Okay. I’m usually not wowed by store-bought breadcrumbs.

4)      Health: This particular brand uses malodextrin and adds caramel color. I’ll pass, thank you.

Home-made Bread Crumbs

Recipe: This is so basic that a recipe really isn’t needed. Use your past-its-prime bread (or salvage those ends that always go to waste) and break it up into your food processor. Whirl it with some garlic salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Done. You could leave it out overnight to get dry or just put it in a tightly sealed container. I keep mine in the freezer.

1)      Cost: (Practically $0) You can’t beat it. You’re actually saving yourself money.

2)      Time: Fast. Your biggest enemy will be reminding yourself to save the bread so that you can make it when you have time.

3)      Taste: Very good – adjust seasonings to your liking!

4)      Health: You can use whole wheat bread if that’s what your family normally eats. No additives.

Two more notes:

1)      Croutons are another great use of day-old bread. Instead of putting it in the food processor, just cube it and lay the cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Spray with oil, shake your preferred seasoning on and toss.  Put in a 250 degree oven and check often (the time will vary depending on the size of your bread cubes – I’d start checking at 15 minutes).

2)      If you like to cook with fresh herbs (I do!), then buying them at the grocery store can get expensive. A packet of seeds costs less than $2. Organic potting soil is a steal – $5 for way more than you’ll need. Buy it! Plant your own seeds… find a sunny spot and reap the benefits all year long.

 Jenna lives in Littleton with her husband and two kids. She’d much rather spend money on a vacation than on groceries. And she’d much rather be on vacation than cooking. You can see more from her at www.jennahallock.com.

Mama Drama: Taming Your Jokester’s Painful Punchlines

Dear Mama Drama:

My ten-year-old son is always cracking jokes and thinks he is extremely funny. The trouble is that his jokes are usually at the expense of someone else. When people respond negatively to him, he acts like they are overreacting and too sensitive.

I think he has some sharp wit beneath the rudeness, but I don’t know how to tap into it. Most of the time he comes off acting like a jerk instead of being funny.

~Unamused Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Unamused:

Ten-year-old boys often use humor to engage socially and, as you relate, they don’t always understand the line between funny and rude. Children (and some adults) also use inappropriate humor to humiliate others in order to feel better about themselves or attempt to elevate their social status. This is also bullying behavior. Additionally, some children do not read social cues well and misinterpret (or miss altogether) the facial expressions and body language of others. Other children don’t understand the basic rules of friendship.

I suggest you start by spending some time assessing what may be behind your son’s behavior.

If it is related to his self-esteem and trying to elevate his social status, spend some time talking with him about how he sees himself. What are his strengths? What are his challenges? How does he think others perceive him? What words would he use to describe himself? If his responses are overwhelmingly negative or overly grandiose, help him to develop a more accurate positive self-perception and find different ways to fit in and feel good about himself.

If it is that he does not understand the line between funny and mean/rude, you’ll need to teach him this directly. Try out different jokes with each other and the family, clarifying which ones are funny and which ones aren’t and why. Watch age appropriate comedy shows together and take note of times when that line into meanness is crossed or is right on the edge. You may even find a local acting or improv class that can help him hone his wit while losing the rudeness.

If your son truly is not reading the social cues others are giving him and understanding the rules of friendship, help him to learn these. Books, games, and role-playing are fun ways to teach feelings, how to read facial expression and body language, and the ins and outs of friendships.

A fabulous book that can help your child see the perspective of those on the other end of the joke is Just Kidding by Tracy Ludwig. Two great resources for understanding your child’s friendship style and how to help him are The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends by Natalie Madorsky Elman, Ph.D., and Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D. and Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me: The Top 25 Friendship Problems and How to Solve Them by Michele Borba, Ed.D.

Sometimes social and emotional issues feel beyond a parent’s skill and understanding. If this is the case, seek support from your school counselor, social worker, psychologist or an outside mental health professional.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Thursdays 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 the next column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.