WiiU: Not Just For Kids

This weekend, we hosted a party to get in some play time with our friends. The WiiU we received for Christmas was the focus of the event, though our friend Chris said he came for the food.

WiiU Party

WiiU Party

The kids took turns with the game pad, hiding in the corner while they plotted to capture their friends (Luigi’s Ghost Mansion) or escape them (Mario Chase). There are 12 mini games on Nintendo Land, but these were the ones the kids enjoyed the most.

The kids are engrossed in the game

The kids are engrossed in the game

At one point, the kids went outside to run around, and the adults grabbed the microphones and sang their hearts out. Even those who didn’t want to sing were happy to be background dancers. Right now Sing Party comes with 50 songs, but new songs will be available to download soon. We had a competition of guys vs girls, and while the guys won, their performance didn’t get rated “glorious”.

As promised, a small snippet of one performance from the party. I would have taken more pics and videos, but I was laughing, singing and dancing so much I plum forgot. 🙂

(disclosure: As a Nintendo Ambassador, I was given a WiiU and some games to play with. All opinions are my own)

Holiday Chocolate Festival

When it comes to the holidays, I’m all for trying new things along with maintaining traditions. This year, I’m excited to check out the Holiday Chocolate Festival, Sunday December 9th from 11am-6pm, at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

This is the fourth year for the festival, which features chocolate in so many different flavors and concoctions from truffles to chocolate martinis to over 70 varieties of fudge.

You’ll want to buy advance tickets by December 8th to get a discount. Admission is $5, kids 12 and under are free. Taste Tickets are available in pre-sale for one ticket for $1, 12 tickets for $10 and 30 tickets for $25. At the door tickets will be $1 per ticket. Buy tickets to sample all the treats, or simply check out the entertainment and shopping from local businesses. Entertainment will include wine and chocolate tastings by the Chocolate Therapist Julie Pech, holiday cupcake decorating ideas and practice with the Dessert Stand, Teresa Farney’s live interview with the owner of Sugar Loco, truffle & cake competitions, artist Noami Foster painting with real chocolate and so much more.

Does it get any better than that?


I don’t think I can put into words how excited the family was to check out the new WiiU system, being released later this year. We’re BIG Nintendo fans- it’s the only system we own. It’s a brand I trust to put out a good product, and one I feel is a good fit for our family. I would admit that years before I became a Brand Ambassador.

We use our Wii weekly, so going into the play session I wondered if we would need a new system. Would any changes they’ve made make it worth our money?

The answer is yes. With the WiiU being backwards compatible, all our current games will be playable on the new system. And the new control pad (which feels like a cross between a classic controller and an iPad) makes things interesting. When the kids tried the new Super Mario Bros U, I was able to play along as a “helper”, adding platforms to help them reach more coins, knock out adversaries, and avoid pitfalls.

Miles getting help on the controller to play Scribblenauts Unlimited

One of my kids favorite games was Nintendoland, featuring Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Luigi’s Ghost House, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, and many more. The other game they liked was Scribblenauts Unlimited. We were previously unfamiliar with the game, but even I’m sold on getting the game (and a version for my DS).

My favorite game was Just Dance 4. I do not own any of the previous versions, but I’m sold on picking some up now. What a hoot to be dancing and singing along with other Nintendo nuts! If you have friends who like to cut loose, this game is one you should add to any party.

No Nintendo event is complete without a visit from Mario. If I could have got us all in one shot, I promise that would have been our Christmas card for 2012. 🙂

Geoff: Hey Mario, here’s a mushroom…


Me: Dude, you just put a mushroom in front of my face!


Finally getting our nice picture taken with Mario

Water World

With summer winding down, and school getting ready to start, we thought it was a good time to do one last family activity. None of us had ever been to Water World, so Daddy took a vacation day and we drove to the other side of Denver to visit the largest water park in the U.S.

I’ll admit I was nervous, because I did not know what to expect. I mean, my only experience with water parks was the indoor park at West Edmonton Mall. Plus, my kids do not know how to swim. What would we be able to do?

Water World is pretty accessible to get to. The parking lot was huge, we had no issues getting there and getting in. I had read some of the FAQ online, so I knew where to get tokens for the lockers. If you are planning to open your locker repeatedly, you might want to opt for the day long locker, which is $8. I only needed to lock up my purse, so the $1 locker was good for us.

I found we could rent life jackets for the kids for free, so we set them up with those. They were fine with that, and it gave me more peace of mind. All we had left to do was pick what to ride first.

(map courtesy of Water World)

The park is spread out (translation- lots of walking!), and we started our visit by choosing Raging Colorado, a raft ride we could do as a family. Squeals of delight came from our raft, and begging to ride it again. So we did. There was a girl photographing families, but sadly our photos are unavailable. We visited the Thunder Bay wave pool (which incidentally is smaller than the one at West Edmonton Mall), and the kids got a big kick out of that.

Finally persuaded them to move on, where we went on their favorite ride, Lost River Of The Pharaohs. This too was a family raft ride, but it featured a dark tunnel with mist and mummies. They wanted to do it repeatedly.

We wrapped up our visit at Big Top, which features a water spraying funhouse, silly shores pool, and Monkey Business, a low-key slide for two. We took the gondola back up to the North Shore Area, where we had started our day.

You could spend all day there- there is plenty of shade. A lot of people brought big coolers in and set up a base camp with towels. Definitely something to consider. We opted to make our visit a short one, but with the fun all four of us had, we’ll definitely be back. Though Water World is a little pricey, discount coupons can be found! And consider going mid-week. The lines were not too bad for us going on a Wednesday, when school had already started in some districts.

* I was given free passes for my family to visit Water World through USFG. This review is my honest opinion.

Hiking Mt Bierstadt: Stupid Ideas Melissa Had

This post, I mused while hiking up Mt Bierstadt, had several titles. One title was, The Day I Did Not Die. But I ultimately felt that Stupid Ideas Melissa Had was more fitting.

Mt Bierstadt, as viewed from the parking lot, 7:30am

First, let me say thank you to Cindy, who was awesome enough to watch Wingus & Dingus for us for half a day. Naturally they were great for her, not the attitude Mom & Dad get.
Secondly, thank you to Jo & Geoff, my hiking buddies. Especially to Geoff, whom I could not have done it without. For real.


Okay, so when people said Mt Beirstadt was one of the easier 14ers to do, that DOES NOT mean easy. It means easier. Like you hike already and can totally do it. Perhaps I did not “condition” myself enough to tackle a hike of this length.

Length. I swear up and down, every site said this hike is 7 miles roundtrip. This is hands down the longest 7 miles known to man!

Perhaps my decision to donate blood 2 days before this hike, wasn’t the best timing.

Acute Mountain Sickness, isn’t so cute. Yeah, I got the crazies when we got up high. My symptoms included headache, rapid heart beating, shortness of breath, fatigue, and confusion.

I really thought I was going to be okay. I envisioned the hike *much* differently than it actually went. I thought, I’m in good shape, I can totally go on a Class II/Class III mountain hike/climb.

I did have enough water and plenty of food. I did not have enough warm clothes.

The views were amazing! Truly breathtaking (pun intended).


The views

Jo & I on the trek up

Once we reached the Class III stuff, having to scramble up rocks with our hands, I was ready to cry and quit. And I would have, if Geoff would have let me. He pushed me, encouraged me, holding my hand, sometimes pulling me up. As obvious as it sounds, we conquered a mountain! We found the USGS marker, ate a small snack, drank more water, and then the 40 mile/hour winds made us want to descend. Plus you know, I had the crazies.

USGS Marker at the summit

I made it!

Summit King

On the rocky descent, we found Jo & her hiking buddy Elisabeth (who we had ditched to start the ascent of the rocks). I hugged her hard, gave some encouragement and went down as fast as I could.

Once the crazies were fading, and those 40 mile an hour winds were less, I was able to pose for a pic with my fella.

Geoff & I in a less windy spot.

Going back to the car was painful. I was exhausted, and I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the next. I did have the energy to chat with a mom who was also tackling this mountain as her first 14er, with her husband and 10 year old son. Yeah, there were a lot of kids on this hike. What troopers!

We made it back to the car, and clocked this hike around 6 hours. I was happy with my decision to bring flip flops to wear home in the car. Even happier that I had taken the advice of the guy at REI and put vaseline all over my feet before putting on my socks. I had no blisters, no blood, just soreness in my feet.

Mountain Conquered, 1:15pm

Back at the car, putting Bierstadt behind me, literally

Well now that it is over, would I do it again? My body says, in the battle of Melissa vs the Mountain, the victory went to me. I hurt oh so much. Leaning towards no, but my two little guys are begging to tackle their own mountain. Too soon to say. Would I recommend this adventure to others? Absolutely. Pushing yourself to the point of tears, seeing God’s creation from on high, it’s something you need to experience. But for heaven’s sake, prepare for it!!!

-Complete pictures of the hike are on my Shutterfly site.

Viva Streets – August 12

Live Well Colorado & Bike Denver are partnering together again to bring the 2nd Annual Viva Streets. 23rd Ave is closed from Park Hill to Stapleton for a day of healthy eating, biking, walking, and play. Last year’s attendance was 7,500.

Here’s the details:

Sunday August 12th, from 10am-4pm. There is a bike parade that kicks off at 10am. Then you are free to explore all the tents, including a Chipotle Activity tent, yoga & rumba demos, bike safety, gardening tips, and so much more.

This will be our family’s first time there, and I’m excited to spend my Sunday afternoon with the kids being out and active.

Want more info? Check out the website:  http://about.livewellcolorado.org/vivastreets

Florence + The Machine: My First Red Rocks Show

Months ago I purchased tickets for Kelly & I to go see Florence + The Machine. But Kelly’s work required her to go on a trip, so Geoff accompanied me to our first Red Rocks show.

I had previously visited Red Rocks Amphitheater, but it was my first time enjoying a concert here. The venue, which opened in 1941, is breathtaking. If you’ve never been, here’s some advice I’d like to offer.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

1. Seating: it’s hard. I came prepared with some towels for us to sit on. But I see the benefit in bringing seats that offer back support.

2. Weather: when the sun went down, and the wind picked up, I regretted wearing a cute little summer dress. I was cold! We didn’t bring ponchos, because rain didn’t look like a possibility (and it never did rain). There is no re-entry, so don’t expect being able to go back to your car to grab a coat.

3. Expect that people will not adhere to the “no smoking” rule. Duh. It’s a concert, but the stench of pot and cigarettes was so irritating to my nose. Thankfully, it’s an outdoor venue, so you’re not sitting in a cloud of it all.

Now onto the show!

The Walkmen

Opening Act: The Walkmen. Decent enough act, the lead singer had some set of pipes, and was dressed very dapper.

Sometime before 9, Florence + The Machine took the stage. I predicted, correctly, that she would open with Only If For A Night. Given that the tour is in support of their album Ceremonials, the show heavily featured tracks off it. The performance was what I expected it would be, with her flitting about the stage in a long dress, and dramatic dancing. It was a very enjoyable show.

One standout moment for me, was her acknowledging the tragedy that struck in Aurora. She asked for a moment or two of silence, and the place fell quiet. After a minute or so, someone loudly proclaimed, We Will Remember. And Florence began to sing Never Let Me Go, adding, it was for Aurora. It was beautiful.

Florence + The Machine

Thanks to Red Rocks, The Walkmen and Florence + The Machine for a lovely evening out.

Winter Park Play Free!

Ski towns are a lot of fun to visit outside of ski season, and here’s your chance to beat the heat and head to Winter Park-Fraser Valley.

With Winter Park Play Free, when you book 2 nights of lodging with participating merchants, you’ll get $50 on a Winter Park Key Card to spend on activities, shopping and dining… your choice of play throughout Winter Park & The Fraser Valley. Click here to learn more about Winter Park Play Free. Winter Park is 67 miles from Denver, has 200+ sizzling summer events, 600 miles of trails and Colorado’s longest alpine slide.

Dates are valid until October 31, so even if your summer is swamped, you could plan to get up there in the fall.