Buffalo Joe’s Whitewater Rafting & Zipline Adventures

Colorado has amazing summers, and it’s a great place for adventures!

Even though I can be a bit of a scaredy cat, I’m excited to try whitewater rafting. Putting my full trust in the guides at Buffalo Joe’s, I hope to experience Colorado like never before!

Buffalo Joe’s is located in Buena Vista, and offers rides down the Arkansas River. You can choose from half day trips to overnight and multi-day trips. Singles, families with small kids,  rafting at Class III up to Class V.

What are you waiting for?

Image courtesy of Buffalo Joe’s

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(I am a member of the US Family Guide network, and received perks in exchange for advertising)

CO Wildfires: Fundraiser Benefit

The wildfires that have been ravaging our state this year leave us wanting to do what we can to help. The American Red Cross & Qdoba are holding a Statewide fundraiser on Tuesday, July 10 to support families & communities affected by the wildfires.

Here’s the scoop: visit your local Colorado Qdoba, donate a minimum of $1, and get a coupon for free chips & 3-Cheese Queso. Qdoba is matching the collected funds (up to $50,000), hoping to hit their goal of $100,000.

It’s that easy. Even if you don’t have to time to stay and eat, you can stop in to donate and get your coupon.

If you are interested in other ways you can help, my friends have some links you can visit:

Mile High Mamas

Colorado Moms

Denver Parent

* As of July 6, The Waldo Canyon Fire, is at 90% containment. *

June Means Camping

I love the month of June. When all that waiting through winter pays off, and it is finally time to camp!

We are tent campers, and our favorite place to camp in Colorado is Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We’ve been going there every year for the last 4 years. You have to make reservations early if you want a site on the weekend, and I made our Sunday through Tuesday reservation back in March. Geoff really wanted a walk in site (your car is NOT next to your site), and that afforded us an amazing view.

The view from our camp site

But it also meant a bit of a walk to the bathroom, and to put our food in the car at night. Still, we liked the privacy, and the space for the kids to run and play.

With only two days in the park, we crammed both fishing and hiking into our Monday plans. Fishing at Dude’s Fishing Hole, where I caught our first fish (who neither survived, nor became dinner) and a hike up Coyote Trail.

The fish

Relaxing at the top

A successful camping adventure, with perfect weather to boot. Already looking forward to booking another site for September!

A Time To Heal, A Time To Love

It took nine months, and then I felt that my heart was ready to love a new cat.

We took advantage of Humane Society of Boulder Valley‘s free cat weekend, to go look for our new pet. I wanted a young cat, not a kitten, but not too old so as to deal with the loss of a pet again.

We left after a few hours with Castle (previously burdened with the name Octavio).

He’s been a welcome addition to my day. Someone to chat with when the kids are at school. Someone to cuddle with on the couch or bed.

While we didn’t have to pay adoption fees, he hasn’t exactly been “free”. I ended up having to take him to the vet, first to get a well check after we adopted him, and then 10 days later when he had licked his fur right off near his tail, revealing sores.

He’s pretty good with the kids, though they still need to learn to read the signs that they are invading his space. Geoff is convinced Castle is trying to remove him from the picture, by laying in wait at the top of the stairs in the dark of early morning.

But how could you not love this guy?

Sleepy Castle

What's up?

For Michael

Last week I learned that a wonderful man I knew had passed away. I searched through my Facebook friends in CA, looking for the post that should have alerted me to this. There was nothing, only the note shared by the prayer newsletter from my CA bible study.

I wouldn’t be who I am without God having placed Michael in our lives. This man we met at Woodbridge, who lived close enough to us, that he & his family drove us to church every week for a year. The year we did not own a car. His wife even drove my friend & I to Disneyland, and picked us up afterwards. The man who would scuba dive with Geoff. I loved getting Christmas cards from his family, and the notes he would write on them, “so glad to see your family doing well”.

Michael & my dad were both diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other. And while my dad chose not to treat his cancer, Michael fought hard. When my dad passed away months later, I took comfort in the fact that Michael’s treatments were going well. It took cancer almost 9 years to take down Michael.

He was a remarkable guy. He was kind, wise, and Godly. I know his presence will be missed greatly, not just by the Armstrongs, but also by his wife, his daughters & their families.

Ski Trip 2003

(top) Stephanie & Michael, Lindy & Kris

(bottom) Frank & Cynda, Melissa & Geoff


I became a Christian in 1999, at Woodbridge Community Church in California. I spent the next four years growing closer to God and other believers with a church family that was my family. Because our blood relatives were in Canada, our CA family (Kroliks, Pursleys, Eseras, Merrits) were the ones we experienced life with.

The move to CO made us leave our family, and we searched for a new church. The first one we visited wasn’t right, so the following week we drove out to Aurora to try Creekside. We got there late, it took us 45 minutes to drive out there from our place in Glendale. But Dave was leading worship and it was awesome. We were excited to stay. Pastor Jim spoke, and he was a great teacher. We knew this is where we wanted to be. We made friends, had a family “adopt” us for Thanksgiving, it was all good.

Time passed, friends moved, we had our first baby, but we were in a groove. Then staff changes happened. The Pastor took a break from the church. People started leaving. It was a time of uncertainty. The Pastor came back, just long enough to leave again, this time for good. More people left. We wondered if we should leave too. We felt that way off and on for months, seeking God’s answer. We never felt that He wanted us to leave. Creekside hired an interim Pastor, Randy, someone to be our shepherd while we waited for the right Pastor. Randy was just what we needed to heal. Finally the Elders and Pastor Search Team had found the guy, and we were invited to meet him and his wife. We met Josh & Molly, and I knew he would do great. This man had such a heart for the Lord.

And now, a little more than two years since he came, Josh is leaving. I couldn’t stop crying when he announced it. My heart was breaking. I really felt that this was right. We had a wonderful teacher, who could teach God’s truth, make us laugh, and make us feel convicted. Even when we needed to take a break from ministry, we knew Creekside was hearing God’s Word.

I realize that God is always reminding me that I’m not meant to be comfortable here on earth. This isn’t my forever. Change is a part of life, a painful part. Right now, I want to guard my heart, to not feel so deep. And I do, I guard myself, because I don’t want to get hurt. 2012 has already held a lot of change. What doesn’t change is Him. People will come and go in my life, but He won’t leave. He will stay faithful, even when I don’t.

This isn’t going to be easy. And it isn’t comfortable. It’s uncomfortable.

Valentine’s Day Crafts

I was determined not to buy valentines this year for Elijah to hand out. We had enough leftover valentines for Miles to hand out to his preschool classmates. I wanted to make something handmade. My good friend Casual Perfect hand makes hers every year, I just needed to settle on something that wouldn’t be overwhelming.

Today was craft day! We first needed to construct Elijah’s valentine box. His teacher sent home some suggestions, but I searched Pinterest to get some inspiration. We settled on making a robot, figuring that it would simply be boxes covered in aluminum foil. I instructed Elijah to decide on shapes, and how the valentines would make it in and out of the box.

He designed it, I assisted with cutting the box, and he assembled it. Here’s the finished project. The head flops back (think Terrance & Philip) to retrieve the valentines.

Next up, were the actual valentines. Again, I drew inspiration from Pinterest. I found cute felt owl stickers at the craft store, along with a glow in the dark bracelets. I rarely let the kids eat the crappy candy that comes with their valentines, so I knew our valentines were’t going to have them.

I made a template for Elijah to see what I thought it should look like, and he finished them. Well, they aren’t finished yet, but we still have time. 🙂

<disclaimer: Elijah does like getting crafty, he was keen on the project. Just in case you thought I was a crazy lady forcing my kids to do crafts>


D.C. Eats: Graffiato

My friends and long time readers know I’m a big Top Chef fan. On my last visit to D.C., I was sadden that I wasn’t able to see Mike Isabella at Zaytina, because he had left to open his new restaurant. In Fall 2011, Graffiato opened in Chinatown. I knew it would be on my Must-Dine list for my next trip to D.C.

Image courtesy of Graffiato’s website
Because of Mike Isabella’s popularity from his 2nd place finish on Top Chef All-Stars, I booked my reservations early. Graffiato has an energetic vibe, and Kelly & I loved the rock and roll music playing while we entered. We were taken upstairs, where the main dining area is.

Kelly persuaded me for us to partake in the Chef’s Tasting, a sample of some of the best dishes. As our waiter Jarrad said, it’s the stuff they are really proud of. I was nervous, since I do not eat seafood, but Jarrad was accommodating, saying, no one has ever been disappointed. The table behind us also ordered it, and as Jarrad had told us, not everyone will get the same dishes.

Our first course featured flatbread with pepperoni sauce. This sauce got so much attention when Mike cooked it in the finale, and was the one thing I really wanted to taste. Oh. My. It was everything I had hoped it would be. I wish I could have bought a bottle of it to take home! Also in the first course was broccolini with feta, walnuts and pepper relish, burrata (like mozzarella) with pearl onions, and a ham plate, with speck, smoked ham and bresole, drizzled in olive oil and honey. It was all divine. I could have stopped there and been happy.

Flatbread With Pepperoni Sauce

Broccolini, Burrata

Smoked Meat Platter

Our second course was roasted cauliflower with pecorino and mint and lobster risotto. I had let Jarrad know that I would be willing to try the risotto, which I did. I did not care for it, but Kelly loved it. Along with the cauliflower, it was the only leftovers we took home. Jarrad felt bad I didn’t respond well to the risotto and wanted to know what I really wanted to eat- he’d bring that out. Kelly told him I’m a meat gal, so he promised to bring that out next.

Cauliflower and lobster risotto

The third course offered hand cut spaghetti, wild boar, pork belly, and crispy brussel sprouts. I dare anyone to eat those brussel sprouts and not become a fan. We already liked brussel sprouts, but Graffiato preparing them with pancetta & maple pushed us to clean the whole plate. The boar was also excellent (it was my first time eating that). The pork belly was very tender, and the crispy skin on the outside was perfect. The spaghetti prepared so simply with basil and cherry tomatoes was delicious.

Hand Cut Spaghetti, Brussel Sprouts, Wild Boar

Pork Belly

Dessert was a chocolate tart with pine nuts and sea salt gelato. The combination of salty & sweet sent my senses reeling. A great ending to a fantastic meal.

Chocolate Tart With Sea Salt Gelato

I was well pleased with my meal at Graffiato. I appreciate that they use local ingredients and local farms, as well as supporting local vineyards. Kelly partook in the wine pairing with our meal, and was delighted to have a wine from a local vineyard she had previously visited. The atmosphere was fun, the food fantastic, and I felt we got our monies worth for our meal. I hope on my next visit to try the Porky’s Revenge pizza, which has sopressata, pepperoni, sausage, tomato, stracciatella.

Check out Graffiato’s website to book your reservation, and peruse the menu before hand. You won’t be disappointed!

2012- Here We Go!

Most people start resolutions once the new year begins, but I didn’t want to put off what needed to be done. I needed a kick in the butt, I needed to get back into exercising and getting fit. So mid-December I began the 30 Day Shred. If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s a 20 minute regime you commit to doing for 30 days. In theory, you’ll do 10 days at each level, starting with level one, working up to level three.

Today I finished day 23, which means I’ve been doing level three for three days. Oh my goodness, I’m aching. My goal was not to lose weight, but rather to tone. And it’s clear to me that I’m on track for that. Geoff has encouraged for me to have a plan for what will be next once this is over. And my plan is to do some of the exercises, and some Wii Fit yoga until I get back from my trip. Then I’m committing to another 30 days of doing the shred.

All this fitness has an end goal- I want to hike one of Colorado’s 14ers this year. A goal I wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago, but I totally think is achievable in 2012.

I hope I’ve inspired you to get active. Take baby steps if needed, and seek out support for accountability and encouragement. You can do it!

The Real World

So I see I have not blogged since October. What I have been doing in that time is living in the real world.

I signed Elijah up to participate in Destination Imagination, a creative problem-solving competition. He has to work together with his team to create a short play about toys. At his level, it is classified as non-competitive. I got roped into being the team leader, which has brought me some stress. I just don’t want to ruin the experience for any of the kids on the team.

I’ve been trying to volunteer in Elijah’s class on Mondays, which has been fun. I may also try to get back into Miles’ class to help out.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Geoff’s parents, and as we get closer to Christmas, I’m trying to get all the shopping done. That doesn’t leave much exciting stuff to write about.

I did get to enjoy a girly night out with the Mile High Mamas at Sephora. There is something energizing about being with those women. I’m also trying to plan/organize our Christmas Open House, as well as a letterboxing event.

So that’s where I’ve been. I’ll try to get back to more regular blogging soon.