Wilderness Aware Rafting – Amazing family fun!

Rafting 2016 July 16We went rafting as a family for the first time.  The last time my husband and I went rafting was when we were still engaged to be married, so this was truly a treat.  Wilderness Aware (WA) is a great company, located in 20160716_123242Buena Vista, Colorado., and they do more than just white water rafting.  WA offers full-day and half-day rafting trips, a dinner float (this one is so cool), multi-day trips, including camping or B&B stays with rafting included.  You can also book zipline tours, horseback riding, and bike trips through WA.  Their website is great, easy to use, and offer discounts when you book on-line.

SAM_0647WA facilities are great!  The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful.  Once you arrive on-site, you can change there, buy water, and apply sunscreen (they provide this).  If you do a full day rafting trip, breakfast is provided on-site too!  You meet your guide and get your gear, and then receive a safety demonstration.  We had Isaiah as our guide and he really hit it off with our kiddos.  SAM_0654He even let my eldest row with him.  She loved it!

It was their first time, and the half day lower browns canyon (Class I and II rapids) really made them feel comfortable.  They are actually ready for Class III and IV now.  But mom and dad may not be, just yet.   The dinner float was assembling when we returned to Buena Vista, and it looks so interesting – You float down, and eat at a grill, and then return back. The views SAM_0660are breathtaking on the raft, and Colorado is so scenic, so I can imagine how much more amazing it would be to have a nice dinner and a glass wine along the Arkansas river while admiring the view.  We had fun rafting as a family, and I know we will return next summer, if not sooner, to take in some more of the fun.  We want to try zip lining as well, and Wilderness Aware is a great company to book trips through.   DCIM101GOPROThey are organized, and made us all feel special. They sent us information before the trip and kept us well-informed on construction in the area, best route to take, and what to leave behind in the car. All in all, our first rafting trip as a family was a huge success, and we are looking forward to a return trip very soon – thanks Wilderness Aware for an amazing whitewater rafting trip.

Disclaimer: I was compensated with a free family half-day Lower Browns Canyon raft trip in exchange for promotion and this post.  The review is honest, and the opinions expressed here in are my own.  


AT&T Amber Alert Device — Perfect for Kids

ATT AMBER ALERT GPSWe have had AT&T for years, and I love their service and customer service is amazing!   We tried out a few different devices with AT&T when we needed to communicate with our kids, but aren’t quite ready to give either of the kids cell phones yet.   They are only ages 7 and 9 as of this summer, so when we first started trying AT&T devices last year, they were only 5 and 7.  The Filip watch was nice, and fashionable, but I felt like the AT&T Amber Alert GPS device held a battery charge longer, and didn’t require wearing the watch. This made it less likely to get lost or stolen.  Amber Alert GPS is a great device for both kids and adults who may need a little extra assistance.  For us, it worked perfectly, even on the ski slopes as they took ski lessons!


Here’s how the device works:   We had our older daughter hold on to it.  It’s a small transponder with two-way talk/alert.   You can tell when there is signal as a blue light flashes.  For ease of carrying, we took a lanyard and attached it to the transponder so it fit around her neck, or she could put it in her coat pockets while skiing. When she wants to communicate with us,  she pushes and holds down the large button (Alert button), and it rings to the assigned phone number.  There is an app/website where you can configure all of this.  So, as soon as she holds down the button for a few seconds, it calls the cell phone programmed for two-way communications.  Only one number can call into the device, and only one number is called out from the device.   I programmed my phone to have it say my daughter’s name and GPS Alert, so I could immediately see that and answer.  Then, the device acts like a speaker phone for her.  We can have a normal conversation.  Conversely, if I wanted to reach her, I’d call the phone number assigned to this GPS Device and she’d push the same button to answer and talk.   The coolest part of this device is that I can see where she is at any given time as long as it is in her possession.  I could track her movements on El Dora Ski Mountain (phone signal there is bad), but I could still track her using this device, which was awesome!  When we left her for a sleepover, I knew I could call her and say good nite, or she could call me anytime if she needed anything, but it’s not like she’d disturb others with a smart phone, plus I think 9 is still too young for a smart phone.  The only place we don’t send it is school because there are rules in school about technology.  But, if you want to use the GPS feature, you can slip it into their backpacks.  I knew when my husband was safely making it down the mountain and canyon when he took the kids skiing in his rear-wheel drive car.   The device, software, and apps for it are easy to install and use, and log in and out of.  We even tried this device for my father-in-law, but I think the kids found it more user-friendly than he did.

I highly recommend the Amber Alert GPS device for younger kids, and even though the Filip watch looks more stylish, I found the Amber Alert Device held a charge better and longer, and the voice quality and ease of use were better.   The charge is only $10 a month on your existing wireless account, and the device costs $99 to buy from AT&T (but they are out of stock right now),  so you can also get it on amazon as well through this link:

*Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this particular post, but I did win the Amber Alert GPS device at an AT&T-sponsored event a couple of years back.  I have other posts for AT&T And have previously posted about their products and services.  The opinions expressed here are my own.



For my mom – Mother’s Day 2016

Note: This essay is published at Mile High Mamas for their mother’s day essay contest, but I have permission to share it here too. 


I love this quote from the Disney© Movie, Odd Life of Timothy Green, “There are 2 people in the world who want you more than anything. They will do their best, they will make some mistakes, and you only get them for a short time, but they will love you more than you can ever imagine….”

I only realized how much my mom sacrificed for us after I became a mom almost 9 years ago. She was 25, and married off to a man she hardly knew (arranged marriages back in the day).  Then, she was immediately setting sail (okay, she flew) to a country almost 10,000 miles away from her home for a new life.  She left behind all she knew, the languages she spoke and the people she loved.  Over the last four decades, she also moved all over the country for dad’s career, and stayed at home for us.  She shuttled us to all our activities and school events.  When we were sick, she stayed up all night worrying and caring for us.  Her love didn’t end when we went off to college.  She was always thinking of us.  Mom sacrificed so much for us.  She’s my hero, not just this Mother’s Day but every day.

This mother’s day is especially special for us.  Mom recently started a journey that will be both difficult and have its triumphs too.  Mom is private about her life so I won’t share more but we know she will do great! She is the strongest person I know because of all she did for us and all she sacrificed.  Only a strong person can do that! My mom is unique and special, and loved by all who meet her.  While I may not have mirrored everything she did, I am better off because of the choices she made for us.  This mother’s day, I want her to know that she is my hero.  Because of her sacrifices, I am here, living in a country with amazing opportunities.  I am all that I am because of what she taught me and how she cared for me.  I have her personality, her smile, and people often mistake me for her when I call them.  There is a saying that “we live on through our children.”  Well, if this is true, mom, I have lived and breathed you for 43 years, and will keep doing so as long as God allows.

Thanks for being one of two people who wanted me more than anything and doing your very best.  Your children and grandchildren are proof that you do more than your best.  Thanks for making mistakes along the way.  We made better choices as a result of them.  God has given you to me for 43 years and I pray he loans you to us for much longer.  After all, he still wants you to teach your grandchildren a few things we didn’t want to learn.   Finally, thanks for loving me more than anyone can ever imagine.  Now that I am a mom, I actually don’t have to imagine.  I only hope I can be half the hero for my children that you are for us.


Dream Dinners – Quick, Easy and Affordable & Enter to win! #giveaway #dreamdinners

20160312_110108.jpgMy husband and I tried Dream Dinners, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, this weekend, and what a treat!  Their March introductory offer ($74.95 value)  let us pick six 3-serving meals from an expansive menu.  Then, we made an appointment to go into the kitchen and assemble all six meals.  The kitchen is very organized, clean, and all the ingredients are chopped, measured and ready for you to build and take home, freeze or eat right away.  You go from station to station to assemble your meals.  The proprietary recipe cards at each station guide you through the process and it’s quite simple to assemble.

Dream Dinners 3Travis helped us at the Wheat Ridge location.  He is such a delight to work with and learn from.  You use bags or containers, and all items come with a step by step recipe card so when you get home and choose a meal, you are ready to go!  No chopping, no buying of ingredients, no extensive prep time.  You follow very simple directions to heat up/top or cook the food, and you’re serving up dinner in no time!  This is perfect for family meals or for just two.  The introductory offer is definitely worth a shot, and I encourage you to set up your appointment on line or call them.  The staff is super friendly and helpful and on-site with you the entire time.   You are offered a drink of coffee, tea, or other beverages, and we got to sample a scone 1030 am on a Saturday – it was delish!  My husband was able to sample chicken risotto which is being offered on their April menu and loved it!

20160312_102700.jpgThe kitchen has clean bowls, measuring bowls, and utencils throughout your preparation journey, and the instructions are so simple to follow, even color-coded.  It’s super easy – we were in and out in an hour and that was including someone teaching us, and speaking with us about the offers.  I also picked up sides from 20160312_110047.jpgtheir sides and dessert freezer case, and we enjoyed potato pancakes and a dip for lunch.  Yum!  Tonight, my husband and kiddos are having cornflake crusted chicken  tenders and a side of mashed potatoes (also from Dream Dinners), while I enjoy Risotto (a side dish).   The vegetarian choices are slim to none here, but Travis told us that if you choose to leave out the protein on a 3-serving meal, you save 50% on that dish, which is a great deal.
Dream Dinners 2Then, you can pick the protein of choice at home and assemble the meal at home, and still save time and money.  For example, April’s menu includes a Creamy Chicken Risotto, and this item can be assembled without the protein, or the risotto can be made without the chicken or chicken packaged separately from the Risotto.  At home, it can be made vegetarian for both a vegetarian and meat-eater to enjoy.   My favorite was the side dishes because those for me are things the kids eat like mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, fries and garlic bread sticks.  They complement all the meals you prepare at Dream Dinners, or can complement a dish you make at home.  My husband prepared the cornflake crusted chicken tenders tonight and the house smells lovely!  He loved the meal and said the flavors were perfect.

cornflake crusted chicken tenders
cornflake crusted chicken tenders

The only cons for me of this place was menu selection for a vegetarian, but if you eat meat and your family is not picky, this place is for you!  Also, even if you are cooking for just two or three, I think the portions are perfect for one night and a left over for lunch the next day. With 3-servings, it goes a long way in our house.  The minimum order after the introductory offer(six 3-serving meals) is twelve 3-serving meals, so it may best to split with a good friend if you are interested and cannot possibly maintain 3-4 meals a week on this.  Partnering up with friends is a good idea.  You can skip a month if you want or are out of town, and there is no contract or obligation.  The best thing is about how long they will keep because they are packaged for freezing so you can thaw or take out when you are ready for them.  All the instructions are different so follow the cards’ instructions carefully.   Also, like Steve points out in the comments, this place is kid-friendly and if kids are into cooking, or mature enough to be involved in the kitchen, this place is perfect to bring him or her along to help you portion out the recipe, assemble the meal and add the ingredients of their choice.  Who knows? If they take part in the assembly, they may actually eat it?  What a concept!

20160312_112031.jpgOne of the things I learned about Dream Dinners is that they do school fundraisers and give  a size-able donation per family – each attendee pays $34.99 for THREE 3-serving meals of their choice and $10 of this goes to the school – that is 30% back of the school!  What a great idea and you get healthy, fresh meals that the family can get 6 meals or more out of – what a deal!

Dream Dinners 1My husband and I enjoyed our dream dinners experience and I would highly recommend you try the introductory offer.  After that, you can figure out how to sign up because for us, twelve 3-serving meals is a lot considering how differently we all eat in our family, but if we can split it with a family, or two, I think it could work out.  Also, make some room in your freezer because you are gonna need it.  Dream Dinners has the four Colorado locations to choose from so you can go an try out their introductory offer.  Also, if you are not in Colorado and you’d like to go in and try your Dream Dinners, you can see if there is one near you.    Happy cooking and eating!

Giveaway:  To enter to win, please comment below with what you’d do with one free 3-serving meal from Dream Dinners? Make sure you include your name and email when you comment- only I see your email.   For this event, you can bring up to 9 friends (10 total including you) to build a meal and learn more about Dream Dinners while you enjoy provided appetizers, non-alcoholic drinks, and the opportunity to catch up with friends or colleagues.  Also, for an additional $24.95 (normally $50 value), you can  take three additional 3-serving meals home with you, ready to thaw and/or cook.  The night out is a great deal and worth over $130 (depending on dish) and it’s yours for free.  Just sign up and I randomly choose a winner using a plug in on wordpress.  Finally, I hope you will invite me along as one of your party of 10.  🙂 You will be notified by 3/19/2016 if you win and winner posted here.   Comments/entries close at 8pm MDT 3/19/2016.  *Note: Contest only applies to Wheat Ridge, Colorado location

NOTE: We have a winner! Congrats, Heather – I will connect you with Dream Dinners & write you separately.

Your Winner

(confirmed)Author: Heather (email removed)

Comment: permalink

How fun!





Required Disclosure: I was offered a free introductory offer from Dream Dinners in exchange for a honest review.  The giveaway is also part of the compensation for readers who enter to win.  The opinion expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


Denver Art Museum Samurai Exhibit – Now through June 5th #SamuraiDAM

20160306_131418*warning: some of the images appear strange or rotated using Chrome.  Sorry about that.  It is a Chrome issue.

We visited the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit today, on opening day, and it was a treat!  The Art Museum is iconic in Denver, and showcases some of the most amazing works of art you will see.  Do not miss this special, limited engagement exhibit while it is in town.  Now through June 5, DAM is featuring the Samurai Exhibit.

DAM 1 The Exhibit: The exhibition Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection tells the iconic story of Japanese samurai through 140 objects from one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of samurai armor and accoutrements in the world.
Surrounded by murals and war regalia, visitors will be immersed in the life, culture, and pageantry of samurai in the 1100s through the 1800s. Exquisitely decorated suits of armor, helmets, weapons, horse trappings, and additional battle gear will be on display, demonstrating masterful craftsmanship.Samurai will highlight the artistic inspiration for these elaborate suits of armor.

The exhibition is curated in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum and The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection, Dallas. An exhibition catalog, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, will be available in The Shops and online.


Once you exit through the gift shop, the kids receive a sticker to make a seal.   Cross over 14th using the bridge (level 2) where you will arrive at the North Wing and the Samurai-themed kids activity area called the “Just for Fun Family Center.”  Parents can relax here and the kids can dress up as Samurai, make hats with their family crest/seal, and practice building sculptures with soft, large, hand-sculpted wooden rocks made by Sam Mobley.  In this area, kids can play games, draw, and cut loose.  The mural backdrop by artist Jena Siedler transforms you to Japan while you relax and play.  We had a blast today at the Denver Art Museum!

DAM 4Logistics & Information:   The exhibit is family-friendly, but I recommend kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this, and not so much the younger kids.  The museum provides you an audio guide at the entrance, and there is a separate number series for families versus adults to hear.   For the family guide, a “tengu” speaks to you about the pieces and trains you and the kids how to be a Samurai.   In folklore, the Tengu is a half bird, half man, and you meet him at the end of your audio tour.  The experience was fun for my kids, and they stayed engaged throughout the exhibit.  It is quite an extensive collection, and we were very impressed with how well it was displayed, explained, and laid out.   The exhibit is handicap accessible, and easy to push wheelchairs and strollers throughout the museum.

DAM 5Denver Art Museum does a great job with crowd control by doing timed entry for the special exhibit.  This ensures everyone enjoys the exhibit without being trampled, or overcrowded.  I wish other museums in the area would learn from this and follow suit.  It is so pleasant to walk around, read placards and enjoy the exhibit, rather than being shoved and so crowded-in that you cannot see a thing.  I absolutely love the Denver Art Museum for this reason, and this exhibit and the entire museum is enjoyable as a result.

You may buy your tickets on site, or online (by time), and it is not included with the general admission, so plan accordingly.  Members get a special rate, and there are senior, military and other discounts available.  Youth under age 18 are FREE at the Denver Art Museum but there is a $5 fee for them for this exhibit.   Photography is permitted in this area, but no FLASH photography is permitted.  The audio guides are well worth it!

The Museum is located near Civic Center Park, and there is ample garage open, but on Sundays, street parking is free.  Check the events calendar.  You can also park at the post office/federal building for $5, and walk a few blocks.  There are plenty of private paid lots as well.

Required Disclosure:  My family and I attended the Denver Art Museum’s Samurai Exhibit for free in exchange for an honest review and posting information about this special exhibit.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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