The East Valley 2017 Summer Guide for Preschoolers

This post is for all you local blog readers! I spent my youth (and college years) growing up in Tempe, whatup 85284! We currently live in Chandler but 3 years ago rented a house in Gilbert for a year, so we are also familiar with that area.  And for the last 12 years Josh has worked for the City of Mesa.

Having lived in the east valley for 26 out of my 33 years I feel I have a pretty good idea of the local spots that are fun, free/inexpensive, or air conditioned to hit up during the summer months.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but this is a list of things that our kids enjoy or we think they will enjoy this summer, we enjoy doing with them, and also do not cost much money. Our kids are 4 years, 2 years, and 6 months old for reference.

EAST VALLEY SPLASH PARKS

Our community has so many splash parks! Many master planned neighborhoods are featuring these in the parks surrounding new homes. I know there are probably many more that I could have included in this list.

CHANDLER

Spray pads operated by the city run 9am-7pm May through August and 10am-6pm September through October. In case you haven’t been to Desert Breeze in awhile be sure to stop by this summer to visit the newly remodeled spray pad! It is so nice!

  • Chuparosa Park spray pad has a ground spray, spray rings and a candy cane-shaped shower. 2400 S. Dobson Road. (480) 782-2750.
  • Desert Breeze Park spray pad 1 Buttercup, 1 misty mountain, 1 ground spray, 3 ants, 1 corn poppy, 1 flutter, 1 morning cross and 3 surf stones.. 660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd. (480) 893-6652.
  • Espee Park spray pad has a water tower, candy-cane-shaped showers, spray rings and ground sprays. 450 E. Knox Road. (480) 782-272.

Chandler Mall also has a splash pad that is located in the outdoor Village. It is open daily April thru September from 9am-4pm. 3111 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler. (480) 812-8488

GILBERT

Water Tower Park’s splash pad is among other water features, including a floating granite kugel ball and a water wall. 6am-10pm daily, year round. 45 W. Page Ave. (480) 503-6200

With the plethora of restaurants in downtown Gilbert you won’t have a problem finding a place to eat after you splash around in the water. Grubstak offers kids eat free on Tuesdays!

Santan Village Mall has a splash pad that opened for the season on May 6th and it will close in October. It is located in the Children’s Play Area between Build-A-Bear and Gymboree. 2218 E. Williams Field Rd., Gilbert. (480) 282-9500

MESA

The Eastmark Community’s Great Park has a public splash pad operated by the city of Mesa. 7am-10pm daily, year round. 5100 S. Eastmark Parkway. (480) 644-2352

The city’s Riverview Park also has a splash pad with multiple water features. 9am-10pm daily, year round. 2100 W. Rio Salado Parkway. (480) 644-2352

TEMPE

City of Tempe has three parks with splash pads. There used to be a splash park at Tempe Town Lake but it is permanently closed. Next summer Kiwanis Park will be home to a new splash park and I am sure it will be amazing! Details on all three currently opened: (480) 350-5200

  • Jaycee Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 817 W. Fifth St.
  • Hudson Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 1430 S. Cedar St.
  • Esquer Park. Open April 29-October 29. 10am-7pm daily. 2407 E. McArthur Drive

KIDS CLUB @ SUPERSTITION SPRINGS MALL

Free, fun & educational games and activities for kids! The Superstition Springs Center Kids Club is a great opportunity for your child to learn in a fun, interactive setting. National Geographic Kids creates activities and games that focus on discovery through play.

Details: Kids Club is hosted by Persephone (she is a singing clown) and Dewper the Prairie Dog every Thursday from 10-11am through October 26, 2017 in JCPenney Court. 6555 E Southern Ave, Mesa. (480) 832-0212

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL

Many churches offer Vacation Bible School in the summer months! Our church included. Ages 4+ will learn where their identity is found, who God says they are, and what their mission is! Compass Christian Church is offering VBS in the evenings from June 4-June 7.

Details: Cost is $5. VBS is 6:30pm-8:30pm on June 4-June 7. Register HERE. 1825 S Alma School Rd, Chandler. (480) 963-3997

FREE SWIM @ CITY OF CHANDLER POOLS

I love public pools. I know that sounds weird but I took swim lessons at Kiwanis Wave Pool during the summer months I was in elementary school and eventually became a lifeguard at this same pool. That is how Josh and I met.

My degree is Recreation Management with an emphasis on community and urban recreation. I previously worked as a Recreation Coordinator for the City of Chandler and I absolutely love all the amazing programs Chandler offers to the community!

Every summer Chandler Aquatics has free swim hours at each of it’s pools. Here is a list of this years schedule. To my knowledge they are the only city in the east valley that offers this. Be sure to check out free swim this summer during the months of June and July.

  • Arrowhead Pool: Saturdays 11am-1pm. 1475 W. Erie St. (480) 732-1064
  • Desert Oasis Aquatic Center: Wednesdays 3-5pm. 1400 W. Summit Place. (480) 732-1062
  • Folley Pool: Fridays 3-5pm. 600 E. Fairview. (480) 732-1063
  • Hamilton Aquatic Center: Tuesdays 6-8pm. 3838 S. Arizona Ave. (480) 782-2630
  • Nozomi Aquatic Center: Sundays 4-6pm. 250 S. Kyrene Rd. (480) 783-8261
  • Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center: Fridays 6-8pm. 5901 S. Hillcrest Dr. (480) 782-2635

ARIZONA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 

Explore the history of the Southwest, from dinosaurs to explorers, at the Arizona Museum of Natural History. Pan for gold, search for dinosaur bones, and much more! If you go in the morning be sure to head down to the basement level to see if the activity center is open for your little ones to color, read books, work on puzzles and play games.

This is one of the most expensive places on this list but if you purchase a year membership it is so much cheaper! Last year we visited at least twice each month and it paid for itself in two visits.

It is the perfect size museum for little kids and the new dinosaur play area with slide and tunnel makes it even more perfect for the hot summer months! We enjoy this place over the IDEA Museum which is right down the street.

Details: Cost is $12 for adults, $7 for ages 3-12, and is free for children 2 and under. 53 N. MacDonald. (480) 644-2230

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

We love going to the library! I have since I was little. Does anyone else remember  Book It? Loved earning pizza by reading books :).

Sign your kids up for the reading program at the library this summer. They may not earn pizza but establishing the love of literature in your child is a gift that will last forever. Here are several of our favorite libraries in the east valley:

SWEETIES

Located in Chandler Sweeties is what little kids dreams are made of! Aisles and aisles of candy. So much candy! You can buy it prepackaged or make your own little bag of all your favorites. Sozo Coffee and the .99 cent store is in the same shopping center if you want to make a full morning or afternoon adventure of it!

Details: 1986 North Alma School Road. (480) 899-4245

BRUNSWICK BOWLING (FOR FREE)

Kids 15 and under can score 3 FREE games of bowling this summer at Brunswick through September.  Shoe rental is not included. Simply register HERE and coupons will arrive via email.

BASS PRO

The Mesa Bass Pro Shops has fun things planned for kids on Tuesdays!  Every Tuesday participate in their Kids Night event where they will have crafts, games, archery, and food for everyone! Events run from 5-8 p.m. (602) 606-5600

WIGGLE WORM ADVENTURES, GILBERT

Located at the McQueen Park Activity Center, take your kids 5 and under (max of 4) for play. Come play indoors with mats, hoops, balls, tunnels, ride on toys, music, and more!

Details: Cost is $1.50 for Gilbert Residents and $2 for Non-Gilbert Residents. Adults are FREE! Drop in between 9-11am on M,W,F from May 1 – August 11, 2017. 510 N. Horne St., Gilbert. (480) 503-6294

TUMBLEWEED TOTS, CHANDLER

Much like Wiggle Worm Adventures this is also a community sponsored preschool playtime held at Tumbleweed Recreation Center. Drop in and play in the air-conditioned gymnasium. This is a fun, safe, and clean area with plenty of toys and equipment to keep the kids entertained.

Details: Cost is $2 for Chandler Residents and $3 for Non-Chandler Residents. Drop in between 12:30pm-2:30pm on M,W,F. 745 E. Germann Rd.,
Chandler. (480) 782-2900

TEMPE HISTORY MUSEUM

If you are heading to Tempe Public Library at all this summer you might want to make a stop here as well. The museum is within walking distance of the library and while it isn’t geared towards children specifically it does have an area called Kids’ Place where children can play in a miniature Sun Devil Stadium, climb on a police motorcycle and hear music from bygone eras. Josh and Caden spent an hour there recently and enjoyed it. There is no cost to enter.

Details: Free. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays. 809 E. Southern Avenue. Free admission, donations accepted. (480) 350-5100, tempe.gov/museum.

There you have it! I hope you are able to create lasting memories with your family this summer! Remember that your kids want to spend time with you. Don’t think that you need to spend money or go on vacation this summer to have fun with your family. There are so many fun things to do right in our own community!

Is there something I didn’t put on this list that I should add? Let me know! I would love to hear from you!

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On Becoming Babywise: 17 to 24 Weeks

I blogged about our Babywise experience with Caden and I am sharing how our experience with Babywise is going with our third baby. Here are the links to all the posts I have done in this series:

On Becoming Babywise: Birth to 2 Weeks

On Becoming Babywise: 3 to 6 Weeks

On Becoming Babywise: 7 to 10 Weeks

On Becoming Babywise: 11 to 16 Weeks

This photo was taken while I was saying goodnight to Jesse and he gave me one more big smile before bed :). Baby smiles and snuggles are the best!

Schedule

Jesse dropped a feeding and is now nursing 5 times in 24 hours. The transition happened very naturally. He began sleeping longer for his first nap and instead of waking up at 9:30am woke up a 10am several days in row. His feedings were adjusted from there.

Week 17 – 21
  • 6:40am: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 8:30am: Nap
  • 9:30am: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 10:30am Nap
  • 12pm: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 1:00pm: Nap
  • 2:30pm: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 4pm: Nap
  • 5pm: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 6:00pm: Nap
  • 7:30pm: Eat, Diaper, Back to Crib
Week 22 – 24
  • 6:30am: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 8:30am: Nap
  • 10am: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 12pm Nap
  • 1pm: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 2:45pm: Nap
  • 4pm: Eat/Waketime, Diapering
  • 6:00pm: Nap
  • 7pm: Eat, Diaper, Back to Crib

Nursing

Jesse is nursing every 3 hours during the day and is now going to bed around 7:30pm and sleeping 11 hours at night!

Merge Four

Jesse dropped a feeding and is now nursing 5 times in 24 hours. Jesse has successfully completed Merge One (combining his two nighttime feedings into one), Merge Two (dropping his middle of the night feeding), and Merge Three (dropping his dream feed) , and now Merge Four where he is extending his morning wake times and reduced his feeding cycle from 6 to 5 . YAY!

Waketime

After his feedings he is awake around 90 minutes before he goes back to his crib for a nap.

During his waketime he loves his playmat, rolling from his back to tummy and to his back again, chewing on his fingers or toys (he has two bottom teeth now), babbling so much, and smiling at his siblings as they play.

Naps & Night Sleep

He is napping and sleeping at night really well! He will generally wakeup in the morning around 5am or so and cry for a few minutes before falling back asleep for another 60-90 minutes.

He gradually extended his naps by himself and he transitioned fairly easily from 6 nursing sessions to 5. His first nap in the morning is usually his longest. We have also transitioned out of sleep sacks and he is rocking only his jammies.

Our little guy turned six months old this week and I can’t believe it. Time moves so quickly! Stay little please. I am going to blink and he is going to be 1!

We love you Jesse! You have added so much joy to our lives!

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HeartFit for Duty

Last month I had the opportunity to become a new patient at HeartFit for Duty. HeartFit for Duty provides in-depth cardiac and metabolic wellness programs and offers advance medical testing for first responders.

Obviously, this stay at home mom is not a first responder but I am married to one, which qualified me to be able to benefit from the abundant medical testing and nutrition counseling that they offer.

I think we all know that when you and your husband are on board with making healthy changes together a positive outcome and the long term success greatly increases.

My Initial Appointment 

Josh and I both saw Megan McCarthy for our appointments. We went on separate days and each of our visits lasted an hour. We went fasted and had our blood drawn, vitals taken, and were then shown to a room where we took a glucose test.

After drinking that lovely liquid sugar, Megan came and went over my medical history and what my goals were moving forward. Because of the history with the autoimmune disorder she added another blood test to my labs, looking for gene mutations. More on this later.

From there I met with the nutritionist and was given a list of what I should and shouldn’t be eating as wells as an exact breakdown of my daily macros. Daily I am now consuming around 1860 calories and eating 15% (70g) carbohydrates, 50% (103g) fat, and 35% (163g) protein. I so appreciated all the information I received that first appointment and before I left I had my blood drawn one last time to retest my glucose level.

The Follow Up Appointment 

Josh and I had our follow up appointment two weeks ago and we went together. This was one month after our initial appointment. Several of the labs are done at Boston Heart and it takes a few weeks to get the results back.

Our follow up appointment lasted an hour (and we had all three kids with us too) and it was so informative! The kids were seriously amazing while we sat in the office with Megan, and Josh and I were so proud of how well they behaved.

She went over every single lab that was done on each of us! I won’t bore you with all the details but here are a few highlights.

  • Cholesterol. Both of us have things we need to address in this category. Josh and I both need to increase our Omega 3 (EPA + DHA = Total Omega) to at least 2,000mg/day. I am taking Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega and Josh is taking SFH Fish Oil.
  • My vitamin D was super low so I am supplementing with 5,000 IU/day. I am using NOW D-3 5,000 IU.
  • I also learned that I have a MTHFR gene mutation. I will now be taking a folate supplement for the rest of my life. This mutation causes inflammation in the body and doesn’t allow for the absorption of folate and other B vitamins. I am taking Pure Encapsulations to supplement this.
  • My liver showed inflammation as well and my body is not properly processing sugar. This means ditching the cookies, bread, and other sugar loaded snacks and foods to try and lower my blood glucose levels and also my elevated AST (liver function).

Nutrition and Lifestyle Changes

I have significantly changed up what I have been eating. Here is an example of what I was eating before and what I am now currently eating.

Breakfast

  • Before: Rice Cereal (I love this for breakfast!)
  • Currently: 2 Scoops of Unflavored Promix Protein Powder, 1/2 Avocado, 1 Tablespoon Almond Butter, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, 3-5 drops of liquid Stevia, and Almond Milk blended together.

Lunch

  • Before: Whatever the kids were eating.
  • Currently: Some sort of salad with 4 ounces of chicken. Lately this has been romaine, tortilla strips, avocado, chicken, and assorted veggies.

Dinner

  • Before: Some combination of veggies, brown rice, and chicken.
  • Currently: Lots of vegetables and 4 ounces chicken or a lettuce bun burger with a side of bone broth.

Snacks

  • Before: Anything and everything. Dried mangos, bananas, apples, fruit snacks, chips, cookies, toast. Mainly anything that has high amounts of carbs.
  • Currently: Vega Protein and Greens Shake, Almonds, and drinking lots and lots of water.

I have been exercising more consistently the past several weeks and just recently actually started looking forward to my own workouts again. If you ever feel unmotivated to workout I am right there with you.

Parenting in this season of my life is exhausting and I mean that in the best way possible. After Jesse was born I knew it would take me a few months to figure out our new routine as family so I put zero pressure on myself in regards to exercise. The last five months have been great and I am so glad that I allowed myself time to recover from pregnancy and to adjust to life as a family of five.

Josh and I will go back in 90 days for more labs and to reassess if what we are doing is making a difference for our overall health. I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this with Josh. Thank you HeartFit for Duty for allowing spouses to tag along in your preventive health care program!

If you are local and a first responder I highly recommend looking into this program! And if you or your spouse works for Mesa Fire and Medical Department call and make an appointment. Josh and I had no out of pocket cost and it is a great resource for you and your family!
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