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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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:


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


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.


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


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


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


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,

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!


A Mother’s Day Tribute

With Mother’s Day approaching this weekend I wanted to share a public tribute to my Mom. The purpose of this tribute is to give her the honor she deserves and to display my appreciation to God for the mom he gave me. I am linking back to Tim Challies for the great idea! Check out his series The Commandment We Forgot  that looks at the fifth commandment (“honor your father and mother”) and explores the idea of how to obey this command once we are adults. #dearmom17

Dear Mom,

I know I don’t always take the time to say thank you for all the amazing ways you have shown and continue to show your love to our family so I am taking time today to rectify that.

First off, you are beautiful. You may not hear those words enough from your family, myself included. You have shown me over the course of my life that true beauty comes from within and most importantly when Christ shines out of us. Thank you for teaching me that it is the small moments in the day that develop our character for the great moments in life.

When I now look at the picture above from when I was pregnant with Caden, I understand how excited you must have been for me to become a mother. Children are a blessing from the Lord and my own little ones have made me appreciate you even more.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made for me. Thank you for the sleepless nights you gave up, for the meals you had to reheat for yourself, and for the huge amount of bodily fluids I must have placed on you during my lifetime. Having children now at the current ages of 4 years, 2 years, and 5 months I know that you had your share of these things with myself and Evan.

I can never imagine Caden, Maisie, or Jesse being as sick as I was several years ago.  My stomach knots together just thinking about these little ones of mine being ill. I know it was hard to see me like that. Thank you for your love and support during those two years.

Now with a daughter of my own I hope to one day have the type of relationship with her that I have with you. Do you remember the time you let me put glitter eyeshadow on you for church? <— Click the link to read about this story from my Mom’s perspective. You were so trusting and left the house without looking in the mirror. Personally, I thought it looked fabulous but had absolutely no idea what I was doing with those makeup brushes.

Out of all the memories we have made together this far, and we have made many, my favorites have been when you have seen your grandchildren enter this world.

Thank you for being in the room for the biggest moments of my life. For being present and for being available.

Thank you for being a mom who was easy to talk to even when I didn’t want to talk, for listening, for speaking the truth in love, and most importantly thank you for introducing me to Jesus.

One day, when we have to say goodbye for a little while, I will be even more grateful for having a mother who shared her faith. However many years the Lord blesses us with together I will be thankful for each one. Thank you for showing me how to mother and to share my own faith with my children.

Love, your daughter, Tamara Marie

PS…If you come over early before church I can do your makeup this weekend. I promise no glitter.


Jesse’s Birth Story

Last Monday, I made an appointment to go and see my chiropractor for an adjustment and accunpuncture session. If you are local and looking for a chiropractor be sure to check out Spine and Disc Center of Arizona and schedule a visit with Dr. Jason Taylor. Josh and I have been going here for adjustments and massage for the last 10 years.

With my due date coming up in two days I knew it would be beneficial to get an adjustment before labor. Plus, I was also hoping that the focused acupuncture session would encourage labor to start.

I dropped the kids off at my parents house before heading over for my appointment at 5pm. By 6pm I was back at my parents house after having had an adjustment and an acupuncture session. Up until this session I had only been having inconsistent contractions and nothing that was indicative that I would be going into labor soon.

I called Josh at the fire station and let him know to keep his phone nearby just case I went into labor. The kids and I got in the car and arrived home by 6:30pm and they were sleeping by 7:30pm. I started to feel more achy decided a shower and bed would be a wise idea. Between multiple trips to the bathroom and resting in bed I began having more contractions. Nothing horrible yet but the frequency was increasing.

Soon after midnight on Tuesday November 15th I went to the bathroom yet again and when I went to wipe there was bloody show. Yay! This meant I was getting closer to being able to hold our baby. But also at the same time, eeekkkkkkk, because I was getting closer to all the things that happen before you can hold the baby.

By 3:15am I called Josh and told him to come home. It took several phone calls to reach him due to the fact that he was in such a deep sleep because he had got himself all pumped up after our last conversation, ran two calls, and finally had been able to close his eyes. He was home by 4am.

And by 4:30am my parents were over at the house to stay with Caden and Maisie. I finished up a few more things around the house, took another shower (because showers feel good when you are having contractions), and double checked my hospital bag. Josh and I arrived at the hospital and sat in the parking lot for 45 minutes. Josh convinced me that we should probably get out of the car and go get checked in.

When we were being checked in Dr. Brass, my OB, was walking out of the labor and delivery area. I am counting this as an unexpected blessing from God. With Caden and Maisie she arrived right as I was ready to push but it was amazing having her already at the hospital!

At 6am I was in the triage area and was told I was dilated to 3cm. Not the best news but on the flip side Dr. Brass was able to strip my membranes. In an hour I would be checked again to see if I had progressed. During this time I made multiple trips to the bathroom, if you have been in labor before you know you pretty much release anything that is inside your body, and started to have an increase in the pain and frequency of the contractions.

When the nurse checked my an hour later I had not made any more progress and was still at 3cm. She could tell that my contractions had increased and went to talk to Dr.Brass who to my surprise said I could be admitted! Praise Jesus! I was so happy I didn’t have to get back in the car and go home.


Can you tell by my face how excited I was? It is also obvious to note that in this picture I am still smiling, I also still wanted to take a picture, and I texted it to several friends to give them an update. This was my only selfie of the morning.

Josh and I got setup in the labor and delivery room by 8am. I was hooked up to monitors, an IV, and given a birthing ball to sit on. I sat on the ball in between contractions and stood up and leaned against the bed during them. My mom arrived shortly after and she and Josh would press down on my low back and sacrum during the contractions to help with back labor. With all my kids I have intense pain in my lower back with contractions.

My nurse came in and asked if I would like Dr. Brass to break my water. Umm, yes please! I was actually kinda excited to have her break it because Caden and Maisie’s broke on their own and I wanted to experience what it felt like. Spoiler alert: It feels exactly the same as when it breaks on it’s own. The only difference is you know that it is coming.

Before she broke my water she also checked me again and I was 5cm dilated. The time frame that follows starts to get a little blurry because everything happened so fast. After my water broke I was sitting at the edge of the bed to drain out and things started to get a lot more intense. I couldn’t talk or carry a conversation in between contractions, I was literally just trying to focus on getting through the contraction before the next one started up.

While I was sitting on the edge of the bed I became super nauseated and vomited multiple times. Multiple times. It wasn’t fun and I am very thankful for Zofran.

By 9:30am I was checked again and I was 6cm dilated. I went from sitting up to laying on my side with a peanut ball in between my legs. It felt pretty amazing at that point to be totally relaxed on the bed and not having to support my weight.

Dr. Brass came back in again and suggested that I try getting on my hands and knees at the top of the bed. During contractions I would sit back towards my heals, like a modified childs pose and began to feel soooooo much pressure!

The nurse asked to check me again. This is probably the worst part of labor. When you are in the middle of back to back contractions and need to be checked on progress. Shockingly I was 10cm dilated and was ready to push! Couldn’t believe it but was so thankful!

The squat bar was setup at the end of the bed, Josh got his gloves on to catch and I was given the go ahead to push. If you have never heard of delivering a baby in this position I highly recommend it! I describe it in more detail in Caden’s birth story and also mention it in Maisie’s birth story.

My body loves the pushing part of labor. It is this sweet yet intensely painful moment that is filled with the excited anticipation of what is to come. At 10:22am after 4 minutes of pushing our handsome son, Jesse Tate, made his way into his Daddy’s hands and was then placed on my chest.


I was admitted at 7:30am and Jesse was born at 10:22am. In less than an hour I went from 6cm to fully dilated and delivered our son. It amazes me what my body is able to do.

It seems fitting that this week is Thanksgiving. I have so much I am thankful for. I don’t think I can ever truly express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to be a new mom again.

Childbirth is a very painful, yet transformative process. I don’t think you can go through labor and delivery without coming out changed on the other side. During labor with Maisie I kept saying to myself over and over “This is the last time you have to do this, Tam.” The pain was so intense that the only thought I could grasp ahold of was that Josh was getting a vasectomy and she was going to be our last baby.

With Caden I had no clue what labor was going to be like. No clue. When I was barely dilated at the hospital after my water broke and eating a popsicle I heard another woman giving birth next door screaming. I couldn’t fathom why she was making those noises and literally was thinking that she needed to get it together. All that to say that after giving birth three times without medication I totally understand those noises that other mama was making.

During labor with Jesse I kept quoting scripture over and over to myself and praying Philippians 4:5-7.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Over the past two years I have learned to release myself from having to be in control, because ultimately I am not. When I tried to control things or prove to myself that I could handle whatever life brought my way I sunk deeper into my own anxious thoughts. This last year has really shown me that what I say I believe is what I actually believe and who I say is in control of my life is actually in control of my life.

In the last year Josh and I have gone from thinking we were done having kids, to deciding to become foster parents, and to finally learning that we were surprisingly pregnant a year after his vasectomy. If this had happened two years ago I would have seriously questioned God about what was happening and would have been an overall mess.

Jesse means gift. Josh and I believe that all of our children are gifts to us but this little boy has especially made this seem even more true. He is the best gift we never knew our family was missing and now that he has arrived I can’t imagine our family without him. God has been so good to our family and this unexpected blessing has been a beautiful testimony to His goodness and grace.

Jesse’s Birthday November 15, 2016 at 10:22am | Birth Weight 8 pounds | Length 20 in