2016 Year in Review – Worst Year EVER!

Photo Credit: GeekTyrant -Facebook

My previous years in review (posted here and linked) are upbeat and address my top blog posts. This year has been completely different and unlike any other year.  It has been, simply put, the WORST year I have had in my lifetime, and I know a lot of others can attest to this in their lives too.  If we could time travel, I’d come back to 2016 and change everything about it, or wipe it from our history altogether.

2016 wasn’t just about politics and the “alt”-election that will bring us into an unknown 2017 and with social issues, possibly launch us back into the 1950s.  2016 was about a lot of lives lost. The theme for 2016 was loss, loss, loss;  losses that some of us will never get over.   My husband and I personally know so many friends and family who have lost so many loved ones this year (from children, spouses to parents), so it’s not just about political loss.  This year, we didn’t just mourn political losses and the crazy Brexit decision, so many good celebrities, musicians, artists, and Americans lost their lives,  but I still love what my friend Richard Parker posted on Facebook after we all learned of the passing of 60-year old Carrie Fisher.   He said, “We’ve lost a lot of celebrities this year, and we did not like it. But some of us lost people we actually knew – family and friends. And I promise that losing those we once spoke to on the phone or hugged good-bye after a visit hurt a lot more than ‘losing’ the people we never ate breakfast with or whose wedding we attended. Yes, we mourn the loss of those great artists and heroes who inspired us and made their way into our hearts, but let’s not forget those who lost others who were a lot closer than pop stars or politicians for their hearts break far longer than a moment on social media.”  Well said, Richard!   I do believe, however, that people share their disappointments, fears and heartache through posting about or talking about known public entities lost, because most people find that common ground.  And celebrities are symbolic to most, representing our lives and people we know and love in reality.

The biggest loss my family experienced was my biggest celebrity and champion in life, my beautiful momma.  She meant the world to me, to my daughters, and so many others.  2016 took my mom.  I wrote this Mother’s Day post to her after she was diagnosed with cancer in March, and had surgery in April.  Despite chemotherapy and all other attempts, she succumbed to uterine sarcoma on December 4, 2016.  New Year’s Day will make four weeks since she left us, but I know in this lifetime, none of the people she left behind will ever get over it.   Her absence is being felt all over the world by loved ones. We miss her terribly and gladly bid 2016 good riddance!  I wish I could go back in time and change this entire year.  If I could, I’d have my mom back, for sure, and healthy.

The only theme for 2016 for our family and so, so many others is echoed in a John Oliver video made after the election about how horrible 2016 has been. If you want to view it, you can google “John Oliver F**! 2016 video.”  It is on you tube, and is excellent, but due to explicit language and gestures is not shared here.  I did share a shorter video John Oliver made for the same segment, which also represents how we feel about 2016.

The other great video is one on facebook from Friend Dog Studios, 2016: the movie. It’s quite good and who knows if the curse is over? From Brexit, exploding phones, the election and all the havoc in 2016, it captures the year well.

For my faithful readers, I do hope to post more in 2017.   This past year has been tough and I didn’t have time to post as much.  I wanted to spend as much time with my mom as I could, and of course, most of the time did not feel like posting at all.  No matter what you experienced in this shitty year of 2016, may you all have a fresh start in 2017 and experience health, love, and happiness, and here’s hoping (despite my pessimistic, realist outlook), 2017 goes okay for our government and nation as well.

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Black and … Clear

I recently experienced my first parenting fail moment and thought I’d reflect on it and share.  We attended the nutcracker ballet last weekend, as we do each year, and I promised both girls they could pick out a nutcracker to take along.  Target had them on sale, but I thought they were regular priced at $10.   Due to the sale, not much stock was left at our local target, so the kids had to pick from a limited selection of left over, picked over nutcrackers, most of the ones left were painted black or brown.

20161218_181600My oldest picked an angel nutcracker, as you can see from the picture and there was also one Clara nutcracker left, but my youngest really wanted a soldier.  She calmly and quietly said, “I want a soldier, but I want a clear faced one, not brown-faced.”  I couldn’t help but look around, considering I am and they are Indian-American.  At that moment, their mommy became a whopping mixture of both brown and red-faced.  No one heard, but I couldn’t help but wonder where I failed as a parent that my child wanted a white nutcracker; a child, mind you who was born a month after the Obamas entered the White House and hasn’t seen any other President yet in her short lifetime.

Then I realized as we talked more in detail that they are just not exposed to multi-cultures here in our homogeneous, yet firmly liberal city or town.  My daughter said when we go to the shows, no one performing is like us, nor look like this soldier (the one she opted to buy).  She said everyone on the shows we watch are also clear-faced so she wanted what she thought was most appropriate for the nutcracker.  I told her in larger towns, and at the the traveling DCPA productions, multi-cultures are indeed represented, and it’s just that the local productions we see are reflective of the population in our local Colorado.   From the mouth of babes, though, it helped me understand that I do need to take more steps to expose my children to more Indian activities, and Bollywood productions, and perhaps even different cultural events.   At the Nutcracker ballet, a sweet young boy came up to my daughter who was hiding her nutcracker at first, and exclaimed, “I have the same one but mine has a pink face.”   I was screaming on the inside considering how embarrassed my daughter was earlier.  But, I also noted that color was indeed noticed by children this little, and that this is the reality of our world and it’s our job to educate and mentor our children.  I replied, “oh great… this is a unique one and can do the same things yours can.  Isn’t that great?”  He smiled and took off, but this small event really did open my eyes.

obama-cover-750x1125It made me realize that no matter how innocent kids truly are, they perceive things through activities, shows and such, and what we expose them to.  The American girl episodes do not help either with its cast of characters, or the TV shows they watch from time to time.  Everyone is “clear-faced.”  Children certainly don’t intend to discriminate in the same illegal manner that adults may, but they distinguish attractiveness based on what they see and experience, and TV and movies are a huge part of this.  My sweet young daughter was embarrassed about what happened, so I don’t force the issue any longer, but when possible, try to show her things I think will help her self-image, and perception of the world around her.   Ironically, as we checked out at Target, the people magazine cover struck me and my daughter smiled too as I showed it to her, but she was indeed embarrassed about her innocent comment earlier.  Black or white, it does not matter, but I hope we can see past race some day in their lifetimes.  Judging from who was elected President recently, his appointees and what he proclaims to stand for, I say we have a long ways to go.

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Don’t miss Elf Training Camp at The Melting Pot, Littleton, Colorado*

mplogofullIf you enjoyed Fondue Fairytales, Superhero Sundays and fun-due Scarytales, then don’t miss out on Elf Training Camp at the Melting Pot, Littleton, Colorado!  Saturdays and Sundays (Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17th and 18th) are for fondue fun with the whole family. Enjoy food, drink and elf-themed training, and you can meet Santa’s head elf!

doubledippingfun1The melting pot is a great experience for kids and you can put those etiquette or cotillion classes into practice.  Hold on to your skewer, this is the only place adults and children can indeed double dip, love every minute of it, and no one will complain.  Adults pay $45, and children ages 4-12 are $25, with kids 3 and under free – this price includes the fun and food.   Reservations are required and space is limited, so call 303-794-5666 to reserve your spot, and dip, dip, dip away!  With four courses, each elf in your family, and the parents will leave here full and ready for holiday shopping.    The entire four-course meal and fun took about 2.5 hours, so be ready for some food and fun for the kids.  It’s so well-organized and paced just perfectly.

doubledippingfun2Finally, please remember to dress in layers as the activities are in the tents outside, but honestly, it was so warm in there with the heaters, we were all comfortable and toasty.  As you can see from the pictures, the kids had a great time, and it was nice to spend some uninterrupted time with them… okay, the elf interrupted a lot with a ton of activities for them but we thought it was good to keep the restless little ones busy and working.  All in all, kids and parents were super happy.

Disclaimer: My family and I were compensated in exchange for posts/social media coverage of this event.  We were compensated with free fondue for all of us.  The views expressed here are my own.  NOTE:  This post was delayed due to a family/life emergency.  

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Veteran’s Day Freebies 2016 – in Colorado

flagAhh… it’s that time again.  Happy Veteran’s Day and thanks for your service.   On Nov 11 and some places like Bed, Bath & Beyond are offering deals for Nov 10-13.    Check it out.   If you know of more places, please share.

 

 

Carmike Cinemas
On Veterans Day, those with a military ID will receive one free small bag of popcorn with the purchase of a movie ticket at the box office.

Chili’s is offering all US veterans and active duty personnel a free meal from a special menu all day on 11/11.

Texas Roadhouse invites veterans and active members of U.S. military to enjoy free lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 11. There will be a special menu available and the free lunch includes a choice of any Coca-Cola product, sweet tea/ice tea or coffee during lunch. Proof of service includes military or VA card, or discharge papers.

Olive Garden restaurants will offer a free entrée from a special menu to active-duty military and military veterans on Veterans Day. The special menu features six of Olive Garden’s most popular items.

Applebee’s is offering veterans and active duty military a free meal on November 11.

Little Caesars is giving veterans and active duty military members one free HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo all day on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11) at participating Colorado locations. No ID required. Combo includes four slices of Detroit-style deep dish pizza with pepperoni and one Pepsi-Cola 20oz. product. No ID needed.

Red Robin will give active duty military and veterans a free Red’s Tavern Double Burger and fries on November 11. Proof of service required.

On The Border is offering veterans and active military service men and women a free Create Your Own Combo with a Choose 2 or Choose 3 selection. Free meals will be served from open to close with valid military ID or proof of military service. Good for dine-in only.

Hooters is offering veterans and active-duty military personnel an entrée on the house by presenting a valid military ID at any Hooters location across the nation. The Hooters Veterans Day Menu includes wings, a burger, a Buffalo chicken salad or Buffalo chicken sandwich.

California Pizza Kitchen is offering all veterans and active duty military a free entree from a limited menu on November 11. Dine-in only. Must be in uniform, show military ID or show other proof of service.

The Original Pancake House’s Cherry Hills and Denver Tech Center locations will offer free breakfast and drinks to any active duty or retired military on November 11. Must present a valid military ID.

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk will honor veterans and active duty military personnel by offering complimentary lunch or dinner at its Centennial Buffet 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Veteran’s Day. A veteran’s card or valid military ID should be presented to the buffet cashier to qualify for the complimentary meal; one per person. Complimentary meal valid for veterans or active duty military personnel only; companion meals at full price. Ameristar will continue to offer complimentary meals to veterans on the first Wednesday of every month as part of its popular Hometown Heroes promotion.

Buffalo Wild Wings is providing a complimentary, small order of wings and a side of fries to veterans and active duty military all day on Friday, November 11. Dine-in only. Taxes not included. Proof of military service required.

Denny’s is inviting active, inactive and retired military personnel to stop by for a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on Friday, Nov. 11, from 5 a.m. to noon, on Veterans Day.

Bout Time Pub & Grub in Arvada is inviting all veterans and active duty service men and women to one free meal. Simply show proof of service.

Golden Corral is offering a free dinner to any person who has served in the military on MONDAY, November 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dine-in only.

Old Country Buffet is offering veterans and active duty military a free buffet and drink on November 11.

OTHER FOOD DEALS

Outback Steakhouse is again honoring all active and retired military members with a free Bloomin’ Onion and a beverage to those showing a valid military ID at participating restaurants on Nov. 11. Outback is also offering all Military Mates, including active or retired military members and their families, 15% off their check from Nov. 12 – Dec. 31.

Red Lobster will offer a free appetizer or dessert to veterans, active duty military and reservists with a valid military ID on November 10 and 11.

Carrabba’s is offering veterans and active duty military a free appetizer Nov. 7-13 with proof of service. You’ll need to mention this offer to redeem it.

IHOP is offering free Red, White, & Blue Pancakes to all veterans and active duty military from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Veterans Day at participating IHOP Restaurants. Select IHOP restaurants will also offer a combo of two eggs, hash browns and choice of two bacon strips or pork sausage links as part of the Red, White & Blue Pancake promotion. Veterans and Active Duty Military simply show proof of military service to receive their free Red, White & Blue Pancakes. Proof includes: US Uniformed Services ID Card, US Uniformed Services Retired ID Card, Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization card (i.e. American Legion, VFW, etc.), photograph of self in US military uniform, wearing uniform, DD214, military dog tags, and citation or commendation.

Lamar’s Donuts is offering a free donut and free coffee to Veterans.  Yum!

Dunkin Donuts is giving one free coffee or donut (any variety) to all active duty or retired military personnel all day long on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). No ID required. Offer valid at participating Dunkin Donut locations throughout Colorado.

Ruby Tuesday is giving a free appetizer to veterans, active duty and reserve service members with valid military ID at participating locations on Veterans Day.

Bonefish Grill is giving all active and retired service members with a valid military ID a complimentary Bang Bang Shrimp at all Bonefish Grill locations on Veterans Day.

LongHorn Steakhouse will offer a free appetizer or dessert (no purchase required, no restrictions) to anyone showing proof of military service on November 11. In addition, LongHorn Steakhouse will offer 10 percent off for guests that dine with veterans on Veterans Day.

Rodizio Grill is offering a free full Rodizio meal free to veterans November 7-11, 2016 WITH the purchase of another adult full Rodizio meal. Proof of service or military ID required.

Mimi’s Cafe is offering veterans and active duty military a free entrée from a special all-day ‘Veterans Day’ menu on November 11 with the purchase of any non-alcoholic beverage. On Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13, veterans and active duty military will also receive their choice of breakfast, lunch or dinner entrees on the ‘Veterans Day’ menu for a special price of only $5.99 with the purchase of any non-alcoholic beverage.

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse is offering all military veterans and active duty personnel with valid military ID 50% off their meal on Veteran’s Day. Up to three additional guests will receive 10% off their meals, as well. Beverages, dessert, tax and gratuity not included.

Chipotle is offering all active duty military, reserves, national guard, military spouses, retired military with a valid U.S. military ID and veterans with ID, a buy one entree get one free special from 3 p.m. to close on Veteran’s Day.

Boston Market is offering all active duty or retired military personnel and their families one free brownie or cookie with any purchase on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11). No ID required.

Panera Bread is offering all active and retired military personnel a free coffee and bagel with cream cheese on Friday, November 11 in Colorado. Just show military ID to receive the offer.

Starbucks  hasn’t officially released its Veterans Day deal, but Starbucks is offering a buy one holiday drink and get one free special from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 to14.

Bed Bath and Beyond is offering Veterans with an ID Card 25% TOTAL purchase on November 10-13 (yes all weekend long).  Happy Shopping!

OTHER FREEBIES/DEALS

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is offering free admission to all veterans and active duty members of the military, military reserve and National Guard to any Colorado state park on Nov. 11.

The National Park Service is waiving entrance fees for everyone on November 11. Active duty military members and their dependents can pick up a free military annual pass at any national park that usually charges a fee. A free lifetime pass is also available to disabled veterans. Read more about the passes here.

Metro Express Car Wash (Santa Fe Drive and Oxford in Sheridan) will give veterans and current military service personnel a free car wash on November 11 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Great Clips is offering veterans a free hair cut on November 11. Don’t need a cut right now? Stop by on November 11 for a free haircut card to use later.

Denver Friends League is waiving the adoption fees for all pets for military members on November 11. While the fees are waived, your pet still gets sprayed or neutered, vaccinations, microchip and an office visit with a vet for free.

Westgate Resorts is giving away 1,000 free vacations to current, active duty military personnel who have served in combat and their families on Veteran’s Day. The 3-day, 2-night vacation must be taken May 5-7, 2017 at Westgate Town Center in Central Florida. Learn more and eligible candidates can register at www.WestgateSalutes.com starting at 9 a.m. EST on Nov. 11.  In addition to the 1,000 complimentary vacations, Westgate Resorts will offer a special 25 percent savings on Veteran’s Day for rooms across their entire portfolio of 28 properties for all U.S. military veterans.

American Family Care (AFC) is offering military veterans free flu shots on Friday, November 11.

Suburban Propane is offering discounts to existing customers and new customers who are veterans or are currently active in the military.

Gordmans is offering all active duty, reserves, guard, retirees and veterans a $10 Gordmans Savings Card with any in-store purchase on Veterans Day. In addition, they will receive 15% off their entire purchase. This 15% discount is on top of Gordmans’ everyday discounts. Those who wish to receive the Savings Card and discount are invited to show their military ID or to shop in uniform.

JCPenney is offering a five percent discount from Nov. 10-13 to current and former military personnel and their immediate family members with valid military or VA identification provided in-store.

 

 

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Why you should buy a Toll Transponder in Florida, Colorado, California, etc.

If you are a frequent traveler like I am and renting cars everywhere you go, you are probably heading to places that have toll roads, and if your extended family lives in a state that has tolls galore, be sure to look into toll transponders and buy one.  California has a monthly fee – I used to travel there a lot and got one, but the $2.00 a month minimum charge is a turn off, if you are traveling infrequently.

Regarding transponders, I can speak for Colorado, California, and Florida.   If you go more than once a year to a place that has toll roads, and there are no fees (Colorado and Florida have no minimums or fees), it’s wise to get a transponder or look into the rules for the toll roads where you go.  Here is what I discovered:

For the past few years we travel to and from central Florida a lot and each time e went, the rental care companies got super rich off of us-  even if we used the toll roads for 2 out of our 5 day rental, we got charged $3.95 per day no matter what IF we used even one toll road – this is maxed at like $20.00 generally but that adds up.  Plus you pay all your tolls too!  So, at $20 per trip (convenience charge), it is better to just buy your own transponder at Walgreens, Turnpike Service Centers, or Publix stores.  You reload them, add your rental vehicles as you rent them, and you can also share the transponder among family members and friends.  So, it can go in any vehicle in the state.  In Florida and Colorado, there are no monthly minimums or service charges, making the transponder a must have!   And, in Colorado, your toll rates are discounted if you have the E-470 pass, so it is certainly worth having, just get the one that you can move from vehicle to vehicle, unless you live there, of course.

Happy traveling!

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