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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Water World: A Perfect End to Our Summer #WWFindYourSummer

Summer officially ended for us August 11th.  However, the beautiful and sometimes awfully hot weather in Colorado still lends some of our weekends to summer activities.  I was elated when Water World contacted me and asked me to come hang out for the day.  It was the BEST end to our amazing summer.

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I am a Colorado native.  I am proud of that to no end and love my state.  No plans on moving folks so Colorado you are stuck with me!  Growing up Water World was a summer staple.  We had season passes and although 20 years ago the park was smaller and the attractions were basically a few slides, a couple wave pools and a lazy river we still had a blast.  Over the past 20 years Water World has grown exponentially, just as Colorado has, however, it has not lost its awesome atmosphere and great amenities. 

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The park has grown and includes some great family tube rides and basically an area for everyone. They have two large kiddie areas complete with slides and toys galore.  My son could have easily spent the entire day playing around in Wally World and the Caribbean Family Adventure areas.  They were awesome and I loved that the slides were just perfect for him.  Also Water World offers free rental of child safety gear.  I had forgotten our "water wings" at home and when we went to guest services the amazing staff just handed me one and said that we could return it to any guest services when we were finished.

Water World Colorado, Water World Denver, Water World Review, Splash bands, tube valet, water world food

Water World Colorado, Water World Denver, Water World Review, Splash bands, tube valet, water world food

The family rides like Voyage to the Center of the Earth (Dinosaur themed) and the Lost River of the Pharaohs were my personal favorites.  These were the big tube rides and what made them rock even more was that Water World now offers Splash Bands with Tube Valet which means NO MORE lugging around your tubes.  It does cost a bit more but I will tell you that it was 1000% worth the money to NOT have to wait in line for a big tube and then carry the thing up the hills and then wait in line to get on the actual ride.  It literally cut our wait time down drastically.  The best part is that they only sell a certain number each day so when they are gone, that is it.  On the splash bands you can also purchase your lockers, tube rental and the all you can eat Pharaohs Feast.  Not having to carry around a poky locker key and worry about losing it was awesome.

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Water World's customer service was fantastic.  Very helpful, very available and very knowledgeable. We had no issues in the park but everywhere we went there was a smiling face and helpful person to direct us to the next best ride.  I also found out that about 10 of my students (past and present) work there which was fun as well.

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The park itself was pretty clean.  I am not sure if it was because we went towards the end of the season but there was an awful lot of leaves on the ground and sand in the pools, however, I saw huge amounts of staff continuously cleaning up the park and working to maintain a wonderful atmosphere. The flower beds were extremely pretty there which I just adored. There is plenty of shade to park your stuff, you can rent cabanas or throw your towel down on one of the grassy areas and you are also welcome to bring in coolers and lunch.  We wanted the full Water World experience so we chose to eat in the park. 

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We tried every one of their main food options.  Mister Man had the pizza, the hubby went with a double cheeseburger and fries, I had a burrito and the hubby's aunt opted for a chicken quesadilla. The food was ok, not great but ok.  I would probably pack a lunch next time.  We also spent about $40.00 on lunch.  I will say that the dessert there is TOTALLY worth the cash.  We had a funnel cake and ice cream and it was easily the best thing I have ever eaten.  Perfection on the dessert scale. 

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We spent 6 hours in the park and it did not even feel like it was that long.  We rode a ton of rides, laughed, and enjoyed our last tastes of summer.  I cannot thank Water World enough for inviting us out for a wonderful day of fun and family.  Easily one of the best hosts in the Denver area!

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It was hard to say goodbye after such a great day, but we decided that next summer we will be purchasing season passes and spending many more days enjoying Americas Best water park.

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The boy didn't even make it out of the parking lot he was so exhausted but he had the best time and I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a day as a family.

If you are interested in checking out Water World before the season officially ends, please visit their website, follow them on twitter and check out their Facebook page for discounts!  Also it would be awesome if you helped out this company and gave them a quick vote on USA Today's 10 best!


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Disclosure: Water World provided us with free admission, however, the statements and opinions are all mine and we will absolutely be returning!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Weekend Trip to Estes Park

This weekend, as a final summer get away we took a little day trip up to the mountains and played tourist for a bit.  Estes Park Colorado is a beautiful place known for its Elk herd and the Stanley Hotel from The Shining among other things.  However, to native Coloradoans, Estes is simply a nice place to get away for the day, do some shopping, eating and enjoying the scenery.

Driving up the mountains their was a crazy amount of haze that was a real bummer.  The fires around us from other states have left our state pretty hazy and unfortunately I didn't get any photos that were worth sharing.  However, as soon as we got up to Estes and started wandering around we had a few little photo opportunities that we just couldn't pass up.

My boys ready to get our snack and shop on

The peanut and I.  Somehow she enjoyed being a "backpack baby" for the day
Estes is a big artsy community and has some great sculptures.  This columbine (Colorado's state flower) is one of my favorite!


These metal sculptures were fun for the kids to look at and some of them were really silly.  Slightly out of our budget or we would have came home with a giant rooster.


We definitely did a bit of shopping.  The kids fell in love with those Russian Nesting Dolls, the hubby bought a jacket and I grabbed up a great little purse but my most favorite purchases were the Salt Water Taffy and the Ice Cream!


We had a very nice day and minor complaints from the tiny folks in our lives.  They were on a sugar high probably from the amount of candy, taffy and ice cream we consumed but they still slept great! I am always so thankful for the fact that we only live a hop, skip and a jump away from some of the most beautiful mountains and great mountain towns in the world.  

Have you been to Estes Park?  

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Monday, August 24, 2015

#GoosebumpsMovie Fan Sweepstakes! #Sponsored

7th grade, R.L. Stein and reading by flashlight with my friends.  The Goosebumps series of books and subsequent TV show were my life.  I was hooked on the stories of mystery and a bit of horror. My friends and I would read these stories and then chat about the possibilities of those storylines happening.


I am so thankful they never did as some of those stories were scary...even now at 31 I think some are scary, but I loved them.  I was super excited when I heard that the Goosebumps movie will be coming out in October and really elated when I was asked to share the Goosebumps Movie Fan Sweepstakes with my readers!  What excites me more is that Jack Black is playing R.L. Stein and I just love him as an actor.

The Goosebumps Movie Fan Sweepstakes is fun to enter and unlike any I have entered before.  It has games and challenges and even some badges that you can earn to get closer to winning some awesome prizes.  The one I would be most excited about is the call with Jack Black himself! Some of the other prizes are:
  • ·       Signed Goosebumps books
  • ·       Skype call with Slappy (a Goosebumps character)
  • ·       Tickets & a trip to the movie premiere
  • ·       Goosebumps Creature Makeover
  • ·       Props used in the movie
  • ·       Hometown screening of the movie

To compete in these challenges and become a member of the Goosebumps Movie Fan Zone, make sure to click here and participate in the monthly challenges.  They are very easy and fun!  Also be sure to share the hashtag #GoosebumpsMovie on your entries!  Good Luck!

Have you read the Goosebumps books?  Which is your favorite?

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Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post that may contain affiliate links.  I received compensation for promoting this campaign. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kindergarten

Last week marked my little mans 1st day in full day kindergarten.  His new school does not offer half day kinder so we just jumped right in.  It has been a crazy experience getting organized and both him and I ready and out the door on time.  We took our token picture and headed out for our first day!


I lucked out this year as my son has all the same breaks from school as I do this year and he also started school 2 days before I did.  I was able to help get him situated without feeling rushed around. He normally rides the school bus and our mornings are early and a bit crazy!  On his first day however, I drove him out to school and really enjoyed the morning festivities. 


The morning started with a little playground time and then line up with the Pledge of Allegiance.  I did take photos of this, but I could not crop out the kids faces and didn't feel right putting kids that we just met on here without parent permission.  My favorite part was the school chant that all the kids did right before they marched into their individual classrooms. 


Once in their classroom they found their desks, took a seat and had a little breakfast snack.  Then the parents had to leave...and I DID NOT Cry!  I was so excited for my little guy and elated that he was not nervous.  I think preschool really prepped him. 

So far kindergarten has been great.  He is learning manners, classroom norms, math, reading, some science facts and a bit of history.  He is also very into the behavior clip chart that his teacher utilizes and has earned the highest level already.

One thing that I wanted to talk about with my readers is our approach to education.  As most of you know I am a public high school science teacher.  I believe in public education.  That said, education is in flux and educators are stressed, overworked, under appreciated and sometimes expected to pull off miracles.  In this current system an average classroom size in Colorado is between 30 & 40 students (yes even in elementary).  As a teacher and a parent it is insane to think that every single student is actually being served individually each day with such large classes.  Sometimes I am lucky to make sure that I touch base with each of the 180 students I teach every other day. 

So our decision to locate a school that is 45 minutes from our house in a rural area that is non-traditional was somewhat alarming to our friends and family.  However, this school has class sizes of no more than 20, students are held to rigorous behavior and curricular expectations and not one parent that I have spoke to had anything negative to say.  It was an easy decision and literally we are only a week in and my son loves school, loves his teacher, his behavior at home is more positive and polite and even though the boy hates to wake up, he does so daily with excitement. 

I am eager to see how much my little man grows and changes and LEARNS this year. 

Have your kids started school?  How is it going?

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Friday, August 14, 2015

How #Disney Villains Stole My Heart #VillainDescendants {ad}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Disney #VillainDescendants #CollectiveBias

For as long as I can remember I have been a Disney fan.  I think this is true for many.  I fondly remember when The Little Mermaid came out and my friends and I were standing in the lunch line at school just belting out "Part of Your World."  I always enjoyed the princesses and in my younger years they were obviously every little girls focus.  I like most girls dressed as each of the princesses for Halloween and had every toy under the sun related to my favorite princess of the moment. However, it wasn't until recently that I shifted my focus from princesses to villains.

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A couple years ago Disney released Maleficent with Angelina Jolie and it told the story of sleeping beauty from the point of view of the villain.  It was beautiful.  It was probably the first time I felt true sad emotion for the "bad guy" and it was also the moment that I went from being fully immersed in the princesses and instead infatuated with the villains.  What made them bad?  Do they have good in them? What is their story?

I am a big fan of the earlier villains of the Disney movies; Evil Queen, Maleficent & Lady Tremaine. These characters are integral parts of the fairytales and without them the stories would be null.  I mean imagine Snow White without the Evil Queens spell or Cinderella without her wicked step mother? Those stories would just be two ladies singing to animals and falling in love with no pivotal point and no passion and excitement and hope for them to come out on top.  The villains are necessary and precisely why Disney includes them in most of their movies.

We watch a lot of the Disney Channel in our house and one day the previews for the movie Descendants came on.  I stopped whatever I was doing and watched it!  I kept thinking, YES a movie about villains for the younger ages.  How cool that I my kids can see hopefully see the softer side of these devious characters.  I set my DVR as soon as I could and started planning a family movie night with some villainous food!

Only one issue.  My DVR died the night before our movie night.  I lost the movie and was super bummed.  I knew that Disney released the movie on DVD the same day they played it on their channel so I ran to Walmart to grab a copy and while I was there I grabbed the soundtrack too!

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I hurried home to make some villain inspired foods to share in our family movie night.  I prepped a couple items.  I knew that my dessert items would take some time so I made these Cloaked Cheddar Dogs quickly and popped them in the oven while I went to work on my special villain inspired desserts!

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Ingredients:
  • 1 Container of Ready to Bake Biscuits
  • 1 Package of Cheddarwursts

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Directions:
  • Preheat oven as directed on the biscuit container
  • Open biscuits and cheddarwursts. 
  • Take one biscuit and roll it out flat
  • Lay the cheddar wursts in the biscuit and wrap it up as you see above.
  • Bake them for 15 minutes and then take them out, flip them over and bake that side for another 5-10 minutes or until they are golden brown. 
Like I said, dessert would take some prep time.  I started with these "magic wands" which were devoured by my family. 


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Ingredients:
  • Melting chocolate
  • Sprinkles in various colors
  • Pretzel Rods

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Directions:
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler like you see above.  I prefer this method to the microwave because I have more control over the consistency of the chocolate. 
  • Once melted pour chocolate into a taller container for easier dipping. 
  • Dip each pretzel rod one by one and lay them on a piece of wax paper to begin drying. 
  • Before the chocolate is fully dry, start putting the sprinkles on them. 
  • Allow to dry and eat them all...because you will. 


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The final dessert that I just had to make was these chocolate covered marshmallow poison apples. They almost do not look evil enough, but still so on with our theme for the night that I could not pass up trying them out!

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Ingredients:
  • Marshmallows
  • Straws
  • Red melting chocolate 
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Green M&M's


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Directions:
  • Using the double boiler method melt the chocolate.  
  • While the chocolate is melting, push a straw through each marshmallow.
  • When chocolate is melted dip each marshmallow into the chocolate.  to help smooth it out you can gently spin it on the side of the dipping container.  It is also ok if the underside of the marshmallow is not fully covered. 
  • Allow the chocolate to dry but before it is fully dry, take 1/2 a pretzel stick and push it in the center of the marshmallow and then add an M&M to really define the apple. 
Everything was ready to go at the same time and what was even better was that my kids were excited about watching Descendants and indulging in snacks and dinner in the front of our TV!

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My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed Descendants and the music was great.  In fact I was glad I purchased the soundtrack because it was the number 1 soundtrack on the Billboard 200 so I know it will be going fast.  The movie was great, the food was delicious and the time spent as a family was invaluable.  I think my kids are finding a new love for the Disney Villains too!

So tell me who is your favorite Disney Villain?

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