Archive for October, 2009

Check out the newest exhibit to arrive at the Mesa Southwest Museum: Therizonasaurs!

Check out the newest exhibit to arrive at the Mesa Southwest Museum: Therizonasaurs!

When was the last time you visited the Mesa Southwest Museum with your kids? Never been? Well it’s time to revisit! They have recently unveiled a new exhibit entitled “Therizinosaur: Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur” and if your kids have any interest in dinosaurs, they’re going to love this! Brilliant, life-sized reconstructions of these misunderstood theropods and easy to follow information plaques, interactive models and televised interviews posted throughout the exhibit will really bring these prehistoric monsters to life for your kids. As amazing as this new exhibit is though, it is not the only reason to visit the Southwest Museum.

For those of you who have not yet experienced this museum, let me run down just a few of the things your kids will enjoy!…

  • Panning for gold just outside of the Lost Dutchman's mine is a favorite for my kids!

    Panning for gold just outside of the Lost Dutchman's mine is a favorite for my kids!

    Revisit the legend of the Lost Dutchman as your kids travel through a make-shift mine shaft littered with tools of the trade and even get a chance to try their luck at panning for gold in the outdoor courtyard at the end of the mine! (Don’t forget to ask for your bag at the front desk!)

  • Take a trip back into the ancient indian culture as you enter the “Native Peoples of the Past” exhibit where this ancient culture is recreated. Walk into a traditional Hohokam family house, try your hand at grinding corn and catch a glimpse firsthand of some of the tools, art and ceremonies of these ancient peoples.
  • The natural history exhibit is by far the favorite of my kids because this is where you will find the life-sized T-Rex alongside a Camarasaurus. Your kids will be captivated by Dinosaur Mountain where a flash flood rains down on our dinosaur friends every 15 minutes as they roar in protest!
  • Walk through the “Arizona in Time” exhibit and take a trip back to our own state millions of years ago! You might be surprised to find out what was running around in your very own backyard! (And you thought scorpions were a problem now? Take a look at the ones that used to be here!)
  • If you journey to the top floor and visit the “Prehistoric Pronghorn: Ancient Antelope” exhibit, don’t forget to stop by and say “hello” to Elvis the Alligator…careful, he bites!
Find out which beasts roamed your own backyard in prehistoric times!

Find out which beasts roamed your own backyard in prehistoric times!

Admission is only $6 for children 3-12 and $10 per adult. Students over 13 can get in for $8. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday 11am  to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm. If you’re not sure how much time to allow for a visit, I can offer this gauge: based on my experience with my four children ages 2-8, you can easily spend a full afternoon here and not get bored. My kids are usually among the last in the museum and leave only because they begin shutting off the lights!  Happy dinosaur hunting!

For more information: Visit the Southwest Museum website, call them at 480-644-2230 or visit them one block north of Main Street in downtown Mesa at 53 N. Macdonald.

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There's something for every age here!

There's something for every age here!

For those of you looking to get your kids into the Halloween spirit, I’ve got a great place for you to check out this season…Jump and Shout Play Center! Located at 1061 N. Dobson Rd., Suite 110 in Mesa  between Bass Pro Shop and Cinemark, they will be converting their indoor bounce and play area into a “haunted” play center for us from 3:00pm to 8:00pm on October 30 and 31 (a Friday and Saturday).

If you are not familiar with Jump and Shout, then you need to get informed about this great Mesa Riverview secret! With the Mesa location of Bounce U closing down, Jump and Shout is sure to take over the area business with ease offering not only great bounce equipment for all ages but also climbing areas, large video screens and “bubble time” where huge amounts of bubbles rain down on our little bouncers!

This special 2-day Halloween event will offer the following features to our eager little goblins:

  • UNLIMITED play on their indoor equipment
  • Halloween arts and crafts
  • costume contests
  • games and dancing
  • treats
  • a real “slime” station!

LogoThe price is only $15.00 per child for over 5 hours of Halloween fun! Don’t miss this great safe, clean and fun Halloween party alternative. It’s great for all ages since they have an area for tots (crawlers to toddlers) as well as larger equipment for older children and even adults!


For more information: This facility also offers field trip options for classrooms, party packages, open play  and full membership options. You can contact this Jump and Shout location at 480-834-7529 and you can read more about them at their website or through my previous article entitled “Info 101: Indoor Toddler Play Zones” which reviews this facility.

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Posted in Crafts, Events, Family and Home, General | No Comments »

Printable Halloween Masks!

October 10th, 2009 7:07pm

Looking for some fun crafts for your kids? Do they want to be a specific character for Halloween but you are coming up short in finding the perfect mask to match? Well, we’re here to help! Check out these sites that have quite a selection of printable masks that you can make with your child at home! The Star Wars characters are an absolute favorite of my kids!…

Fun Mardi Gras style masks…http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/mardigras/mmasks.htm

Great creative mask ideas…http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/maskcrafts/

Quite the variety here!…http://www.colorbookmasks.com/

The ever popular Star Wars!…http://www.starwars.com/kids/activity/crafts/f20051026/index.html

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Posted in Crafts, Family and Home, General | 2 Comments »

Talk about gourmet S'mores! Try this one on for size!

Talk about gourmet S'mores! Try this one on for size!

Even though we Arizonans don’t often get to bear witness to the colorful change of seasons or the wintry blast of frigid weather, we do try to keep pace with the cooler states by celebrating our own descent into the 80 degree temperatures by turning down the A/C, brewing that evening cup of hot cocoa and pretending we might actually need a jacket in the mornings! Evening firepits and barbeques begin to light up with more frequency this time of year and S’mores definitely top my families list of necessary fireplace accessories!

If you’re looking for something to shake up your typical hot chocolate or S’more dessert, we’ve got a great place to start! PlushPuffs Gourmet Marshmellows recently sent me some samples for my family to try and while the reviews were mixed, I think it is definitely a worthy product to give a try and possibly add some spice to your wintery desserts!

We were sent three samples of the eight flavors offerred. My husband, a consummate fan of the traditional, sampled each one and firmly stated “ew!”. But my kids and my own reactions were quite different. I could not put down the Vanilla Bean marshmallows. They are exceptionally sweet but very light. Due to an unfortunate delivery inconvenience (namely the 100+ degree Phoenix weather that managed to melt most of the samples before I could retrieve them from my doorstep even with cold packs in tow!), I was not able to have enough of the samples to mix and match in different dessert options to see how they would change the flavors. But I imagine the Vanilla Bean would be exceptional in hot chocolate or as a s’more combination.

PlushPuffs come in 8 different flavors.

PlushPuffs come in 8 different flavors.

My kids loved the Peppi-mint and Caramel Swirl Marshmallow flavors (even melted, these were not sitting on the counter long!). I would have loved to try the Peppi-mint in a few dessert recipes. One in particular calls for melted marshmallows and white chocolate as a topping for brownies!

These marshmallows are exceptionally light and are aptly named. They are different from our regular marshmallows because they are handmade in a two day process and flavored with all-natural ingredients. They are even cut by hand! While you could potentially eat them right out of the bag, my family and I found they are almost too sweet for that and would be better served in recipes (rice krispy treats, S’mores, hot chocolate, etc.). Some of the other flavors offerred include Simply S-mores, Luscious Lemony Meringue, Chocolate Chipetta, Toasted Coconut and Sydney’s Cinnamon.

Plush Puffs come in 16-18 one-inch cubes – about 4 oz. for $5.99. You can check them out at their website at www.plushpuffs.com. Happy marshmallow roasting! If you decide to try them out, we’d love to hear what YOU think!…share your thoughts in our forum!

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What do you do when the economy tanks and it's time to reinvent your career? You play games, of course!

What do you do when the economy tanks and it's time to reinvent your career? You play games, of course!

What do you do when the economy tanks and your main source of income is snatched from under you? You play games! At least, that’s what seems to be working well for Greg Nelson, a Games2U franchise owner. Birthday parties for your kids? Fundraisers for the PTO? Need a fun activity for a kids organization or maybe a neighborhood block party that all ages can enjoy? How about a team building activity for your office? Games2U can accommodate it all. I recently crashed one of his neighborhood parties with my two boys and was most impressed with what I saw.

Greg’s Games2U truck is fully equiped with interactive video games both inside and out as well as an impressive lasertag setup complete with strategic “cover” to assist in ambushing your fellow partiers! His truck sports two video screens on the outside and several video screens in the air conditioned interior accommodating all the top games for systems XBox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii. Between 12 and 16 kids can be entertained in the air-conditioned interior of the truck while up to 8 can play on the outdoor screens at a time.

Various obstacles are set up to aid lasertag combatants in their assaults!

Various obstacles are set up to aid lasertag combatants in their assaults!

The outdoor laser tag option was a very popular feature at this particular block party. He has equipment to supply another 20 kids here in addition to those who are playing on the truck. Kids wear headbands that light up when “hit” and guns make explosive noises when they successfully target another player. Large black panels are set up on the playing field to provide cover and obstacles for players to navigate. Guns can be set for unlimited play or given a specific number of shots to aid in competitive team play. I can just imagine the night game fun that could be had here…Greg outfits his night-players with glow stick necklaces to differentiate teams.

I caught up with Stephanie Dow, the organizer of this particular block party and she was more than happy to sing Greg’s praises, “They are so professional! They sent me several emails leading up to the event confirming details of the party. He was here at least 45 minutes beforehand to set up. He was great! Absolutely fantastic!”

Indoor screens come complete with satellite hookup to accommodate the latest games for Xbox, Playstation3 and Wii.

Indoor screens come complete with satellite hookup to accommodate the latest games for Xbox, Playstation3 and Wii.

Pricing varies but a typical hour and a half party can start at $249 with a $99 add on for the lasertag. The lasertag feature can also be purchased separately from the truck. He commented on the recent experience of hosting a Games2U party for the Phoenix Suns where he laughingly recalls the image of the starting lineup playing a very intense game of Guitar Hero! Greg has participated in fundraisers for schools, special olympic events and loves the opportunity to give a little back to the community.

I asked Greg what he liked most about his career change and he didn’t hesitate for a moment as he explained that as a home builder, he would work on a project for over a year before crossing the finish line and recieving that “job well done” feeling. But with Games2U, he gets the opportunity “to provide great customer service for a couple hours and then see those great smiles as I head out!”. It’s a much more rewarding, less stressful job and “not to mention, great leverage with my own kids to motivate them to finish homework in record time!” says Greg with a smile!

You can contact Greg Nelson at 480-695-2548 or email him at gregdnelson@cox.net. You can also find out some more about the Games2U parties at www.g2u.com. Look for the new Hamster Ball he’ll be adding very soon when you book your next party!

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