An Ode to TV Moms

I was a stay-at-home mom for 9 1/2 years. It was the hardest job I ever did, but also the most enjoyable. We went  to playgroups, on weekly adventures, took long walks (or wagon rides) through the neighborhood and spent countless hours crafting and creating.

One of the keys to maintaining my sanity while staying at home was joining the MOMS  (Moms Offering Moms Support) Club of North Glendale. I met so many wonderful moms there, many of which I am still friends with 18 years later!

One of our fundraising products in 1998 was to compile a cookbook based on member’s recipes.  This tattered and much-used book remains a staple in my kitchen. As I found myself looking for a certain recipe the other day, I came across a poem I had written (and completely forgotten about!).  Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I thought it might be nice to share – Enjoy!

An Ode to TV Moms
(or how TV Moms Misrepresent Motherhood)

June Cleaver always cooked and cleaned in a dress;
Harriet Nelson’s house was never a mess.
Mrs. Ingalls’ made all the children’s clothes by hand;
Mrs. Partridge sang with her kids in a band.

Samantha Stephens could magically make a dinner party appear;
Carol Brady raised six kids with just one bathroom – which I find a bit queer!
Peg Bundy raised white trash to an art;
Marge Simpson is one to admire, with a handful like Bart.

But on Courtship of Eddie’s Father there was not a mom there;
same for Buffy and Jody from Family Affair.
And although these TV moms many have reality a little bit bent;
they were all stay-at-home moms, and we know that their time was well spent!

                                      -Mala Blomquist


Cowgirl Up!

I have always been fond of Wickenburg. With its close proximity to Phoenix, quaint shops and restaurants and the Old West feel, it makes for an enjoyable day trip. So, when my friend Lori called and asked if Evan and I would like to accompany her and her fiancé, Tony, to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, we jumped at the chance.

Lori and Tony have been repeat visitors to Wickenburg in April the past few years since they discovered the Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West exhibition. This exhibit began in 2006 to “celebrate and recognize their enormous contribution to the cultural legacy of the American West. ” Anyone who visits this exhibit (or, the museum for that fact) will not be disappointed.  The paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works range from whimsical to breathtaking.

There was so much beautiful art there that it would be hard, if I had the funds, to pick just one piece. However, there were a few that stood out to me. Harriet “Rox” Corbett creates these amazing charcoal drawings that look like black-and-white photographs upon first glance. In the oil paintings by Sue Krzyston, the beadwork on the moccasins look so three-dimensional you would think that  tiny beads were attached to the painting, instead of an optical illusion created with paint. The pieces by Amy Ringholz  just brought a smile to my face.  Her ink drawings of animals filled in with vibrant hues of color would be a conversation piece on any wall.

Aside from the Cowgirl Up! exhibit the museum held other surprises. There was the Hall of History that held detailed dioramas of the events and people who shaped the region. There were also more than 700 artifacts in the Spirit of the Cowboy Collection that covered everything from the working cowboy to the Wild West shows that used to travel from town to town.

The lower level of the museum has replicated an early Wickenburg Street Scene from 1905 complete with a saloon, watch shop, livery stable, post office and a general store. Also downstairs is a hands-on area for children. Out on the Ranch features an old adobe house, a stable and corral with southwest critters hidden throughout it.

When you are done at the museum, take a stroll across the parking lot to the Cultural Crossroads Learning Center. This building houses several collections including minerals, artifacts from Wells Fargo and other express companies of the day, Native American pottery, rugs and Katsina dolls and my favorite bola (not bolo) ties. Apparently Wickenburg’s own Vic Cedarstaff designed the original slide in 1949, had it patented ten years later, and from that Arizona’s official neckwear was born.

If you find yourself out Wickenburg way, drop into the Desert Caballeros Western Museum and learn a thing or two about the history of the West. Hurry if you don’t want to miss Cowgirl Up! – this year’s exhibit runs until May 6th. If you do miss it, you will just have to mark it on your calendar for next year!

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day (April 22) represents different things to different people. For me, it is not only a celebration of the earth and her many gifts, but my wedding anniversary.

When we picked that day 22 years ago and sent out the invitations, it was more out of scheduling convenience than making a statement. But as time went by, celebrating our anniversary and Earth Day just seemed to go together .

My husband was always an avid nature-lover and outdoorsman and throughout the years he has taught me a great deal. In exchange, I have helped foster  a love of the desert that he did not share in the beginning.

We invite you to celebrate Earth Day (or, our anniversary, it’s up to you) by attending one of the fun events below:

You may see a burrowing owl at Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler.

On Friday the Environmental Education Center teaches all ages how to better protect the environment with crafts, games and activities. The Center is adjacent to Veterans Oasis Park where more than 153 species of birds have been sighted!

Also on Friday you can do your part in the reduce, reuse, recycle area by taking your old car seat to Tempe Marketplace. In conjunction with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, they will recycle your car seat properly instead of letting it sit in a landfill forever.

Join the Phoenix Zoo's Party for the Planet.

The Phoenix
Zoo is educating its guests on conservation and sustainability during their Party for the Planet. Find out  about the plans for building a new breeding center and home for the Sumatran tiger (a critically endangered species in the wild) at the zoo.

If you live on the west side of town you can volunteer with the City of Peoria to clean up the New River basin and trail. They also will be planting 20 desert-friendly trees in the area in a combination celebration of Arbor Day (April 27th) and Earth Day.

Try a different approach to cooking at the Great Solar Cookout.

The most interesting event I have come across is the Great Solar Cookout. You can bring your own cooker to Daley Park in Tempe,  set up and join the fun (if you don’t have a solar oven they will be available for purchase  for $10-$15). Or, if you are not in the mood to cook, just watch the demonstrations, enjoy some storytelling or the steel drum band.

Enjoy Earth Day – however you choose to celebrate it!

Eggciting getaways

This little guy is so excited with his find at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.

The weather outside is delightful and there is a three-day holiday weekend ahead of you. Sounds like the perfect time to take a staycation!

Before the hectic end-of-school season and the summer what-are-we-going-to-do planning begins, why not take this weekend for a relaxing escape to one of the Valley resorts that offer Easter fun for the whole family.

The Pointe Hilton resorts have specials at both locations. At the Squaw Peak location they have activities on Saturday that include a family breakfast with the Easter Bunny, crafts and a movie night. Then on Sunday you can schedule the Easter Bunny to actually deliver a basket full of treats right to your room! Your family can participate in an egg hunt, visit a petting zoo and round out the morning with brunch at Rico’s American Grill.

Pointe Tapatio Cliffs has more than 1,000 eggs for the kids to hunt, photos with the Easter Bunny, themed games  and prizes. They have two Easter brunches to choose from at Pointe In Tyme and Different Pointe of View.

Hotel guests and brunch-goers at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess  can follow the bunny trail and white picket fence to Bunnyland. This  Easter playground features a bouncy house, petting zoo,  jelly bean bingo, “larger than life” bubble making and a live band. There will also be three separate egg hunts to choose from.

In the West Valley you’ll find Arizona’s own version of the White House egg roll. The Wigwam resort offers egg decorating, face painting, crafts, animal encounters, live entertainment and an Easter outfit competition. The festivities are free to guests and the public and Governor Jan Brewer herself kicks off the egg hunt.

Guests staying at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa can enjoy brunch at Ko’Sin and then participate in  an egg hunt and cookie decorating session. Those looking for more festivities can always “hop” on the boat and ride over to Rawhide and enjoy their Easter  Egg-Stravaganza.

So, pack up the family and head over to one of these fabulous resorts and enjoy a fun-filled Easter weekend. Trust me, the Easter Bunny will still find you!

Castle Hot Springs

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I remember the first time I saw Castle Hot Springs Resort. My husband and I were on a Sunday drive as a newlywed couple. He knew where we were going and I was just along for the ride, enjoying the scenery. We were rambling along on a decently maintained dirt road about 15 miles from Lake Pleasant. We turned a corner and there was this large structure surrounded by an enormous green lawn and hundreds of palm trees. I remember asking him “What is this place?”

Castle Hot Springs Resort was always an oasis in the desert. The main attraction was its hot, clear pools that claimed to have medicinal properties and had been used by the Apache and Yavapai for centuries.

When settlers opened the resort in 1896 it became not only a territorial winter capital, but a playground for the rich and famous. Rockefellers, Carnegies and the Wrigleys vacationed there. Also,  Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon at the resort

During World War II the resort was leased to the military to house recuperating soldiers. A naval officer by the name of John F. Kennedy spent recovery time there. This special service earned the location the privilege to fly the American Flag 24 hours a day on the nearby Salvation Peak. The flag still flies there today, maintained by the Boy Scouts of America.

The resort officially closed in 1976 after a devastating fire. Due to its remote location, and the nearest fire station being 40 miles away, there was nothing anyone could do and the main building was destroyed.  The land has gone through a series of private owners and is currently on the market again with an asking price of $5.7 million dollars.

I recently returned on another “Sunday drive” and still felt the excitement when the resort loomed into view. I like to imagine what the guests were thinking, after their five-hour stagecoach ride to the middle of the desert, how wonderful those hot springs must have felt! Also, what kind of conversations were held on the deck of the 125,000-gallon swimming pool under the hundreds of palm trees by the world’s wealthiest people of the time.

Maybe whoever purchases the property this time around will take its historical significance into account and restore it to become a grand resort once again.  Only one where the guests don’t have to be the richest of the rich. Where ordinary folks can vacation. Where a weary journalist can see if the springs really do have healing properties for herself.

MIRAZOZO and more

The Architects-of-Air are back with a new creation: MIRAZOZO.  When you step inside the inflatable colored chambers of red, green and blue, you instantly leave the cares of the outside world behind. MIRAZOZO is similar to AMOCOCO (that I also blogged about last year) but this structure seemed slightly more angular and has these amazing ceilings that you can just stare at forever.

While we were waiting to enter, an unusual sight caught our eye. These two ladies and one gentleman were clad all in white from head-to-toe and wore white makeup and carried white accessories. They resembled apparitions as they glided across the parking lot. Several children were trying to get a reaction out of them, but their faces remained void of all emotion.

While inside MIRAZOZO I caught sight of the “man in white” (I later learned they are part of the Atmospheric Theater Performance group Transfix). He and his two friends were holding small lights and as they moved through the various rooms the colors from the walls washed over them and they became part of the exhibit.

After our 20-minute session was up, we left the soothing cocoon of soft colors and sound to the excitement of the Mesa Festival of Creativity. The sidewalks surrounding the Mesa Arts Center came alive with musicians, visual attractions, hands-on activities and performers.

The first work of art we come upon was the Snakemobile. Michael Levine transformed a golf cart chassis into a rolling rattlesnake head. The vehicle looked more apt to roll into a Burning Man event than to drive  the streets of Mesa!

The Community LEGO Build was just getting started, so we saw the base of what will eventually become a 10-foot tall saguaro cactus. There were also amazing portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein – all made from LEGOs!

One of our favorite exhibits had to be the Interactive Cactus Grove. You could gain a different perspective on desert flora by “playing ” the pipe organ or giving a giggling barrel cactus a hug!

There are also $5 sampler workshops being held daily from 2-3pm for learning everything from belly dancing to glass mosaic tile making. There is truly something for any interest.

The Mesa Festival of Creativity runs daily noon-9pm through Sunday, March 18th. You can also visit the Arizona Museum for Youth or the Arizona Museum of Natural History which are both close by. Bring a picnic (and your creativity) and make a day of it!

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Keep ’em hopping during spring break

East Valley Children's Theatre camp is called "You Don't Know Me Yet, but I'm Going to be Famous!"

The weather is warming up, so that means that spring break is just around the corner.  For those parents who can’t take a whole week off work to spend going to the zoo, park, hunting for wildflowers or spring training games, we have a solution for you – spring break camps! The variety of offerings in spring break camps are so diverse, chances are you will find the perfect one to fit your child’s interests.

Camp Ruffin' It at the AAWL.

I s your child an animal lover? If so, they can enjoy a whole week spending quality time with shelter animals at the Arizona Animal Welfare League.  If they think that they may want to be a veterinarian when they grow up, and are between the ages of 12 and 14, they can even learn first-hand what the job entails from a vet at the shelter.

Is your child a drama queen (or king)? Then a performing arts camp may be the perfect choice for them. They can sing, dance or act their way through the week and even give a performance at the end.  Childsplay, Baker School of Music, Chandler Center for the Arts, East Valley Children’s Theatre and Valley Youth Theatre all offer camps. Who knows? Your child could be the next Emma Stone (she got her start at Valley Youth Theatre!).

Is your child a budding Olympian? Arizona Sunrays, Ultimate Gymnastics and Scottsdale Gymnastics offer camps that give your child gym time along with some time for games or arts & crafts.

Gym time at Arizona Sunrays.

Another camp that gets kids moving is the Kids That Rip! Skateboard Camp. Ages 5-15 can learn some “rad” moves as they maneuver the 7 sections of the skatepark. Or, if your child is interested in getting a different kind of “air time” check out Cosmic Kids Camp at the Challenger Space Center. This camp combines science, engineering and architecture with more than 100,000 LEGOS at their disposal.

As you can see, there are camps for any and all interests. Also, most of these places offer summer programs so if your child enjoyed their spring break camp, your worries about what they will be doing this summer are all taken care of!

For more spring break camps as well as  events and activities to do this month, check out Raising Arizona Kids calendar.