Tombstone, the town too tough to die

I have to admit I love the movie Tombstone, it’s a fun movie to watch and I remember going as a kid (okay teenager) to Tombstone, AZ and thinking it was ok, but not super exciting.  I think since then they’ve built it up some and put more into it.  It also helps this time around that we came during a big weekend for them so there were all sorts of people in costume all over town.



We all really enjoyed seeing the reenactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral, and they also had a really cool “Historama,” which I’d show you pictures from but they don’t allow pictures during that show.  The live one they do, so I got to take pictures and I have a few short videos to show you from it.  One of the videos won’t upload onto my computer, so you’ll have to wait for that one.  This video is a monologue by Doc Holiday about his premonition………….

Afterwards we wandered around town and had fun poking our heads into the different stores and the bookstore, where I had a lot of fun talking with a local author and the bookstore owner about children’s history books and how hard it is to find a good one.  I’m still on a search to find a picture book about Tombstone, but there doesn’t seem to be one so far.  The best I’ve found is this book, and it’s more of a 2nd/3rd grade level.

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IMG_3614 Afterwards the kids had fun playing with some of the various things there, a cow roping exhibit and a “horse” to ride on.  I alternated between checking on them and reading some of the exhibits.  I learned about the theoretical origins of the phrase red light district, and interesting things about “the world’s oldest profession,” and about the area’s history in general.  It made me want to get a few books on the subject and read up more on it, but as you can imagine that is not all that uncommon.  Oh and I have a real hankerin’ to see Tombstone again soon.

But, all in all I can’t wait to come back to Tombstone with Jeff, and spend more time there, we didn’t get to go into the Victorian costume museum there, and that would have been SOOOOO cool.  Okay, I would have loved it and the kids would have been bored to tears.

I asked the kids later what was their favorite part.  Batman said the gun fight, Princess and Superman both agreed:



Now head on over to All Things Beautiful and check out other geography and history posts.

Phoenix Zoo, and boy am I tired

You combine a couple of nights of not sleeping well with a rather large and well arranged zoo and you get one tired Ticia.  And three tired kiddos.

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We got to feed the manta rays, which totally made Batman’s day because those are his favorite animals.  I think I now have about 100 something pictures of manta rays between the pictures I took and the pictures he took of them (I’ll let you guess who took more).  He has grand plans to write stories about the manta rays when we get home.

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We got the zoo pass, or whatever they call it, and had unlimited carousel rides, manta ray visits, and train rides.  And we made out like bandits from that.  We probably rode the carousel 10 times with the kids happily switching animals each time.  The boys and I visited the manta rays 3 different times (after the first visit Princess opted out), and we got a fun tour of the zoo, including this fun story about a baboon:



Every day at lunch time they go to the different cages and throw food into the animal enclosures.  For the vegetarian/omnivores it’s an assortment of fruits/nuts/vegetables.  Well, the male baboon, who we’ll call Spock, because I forget his name LOVES grapes.  One day he was happily eating the grapes when a bird swooped in and grabbed a grape.  Well, he was not having that, so he grabbed the bird and took the grape back.  He ate the grape and then ATE THE BIRD!


Moral of the story: Don’t steal the baboon’s grapes.


I have over 160 pictures from the zoo today, but it’s late, and I walked a lot and that was topped off by going to Chuck E Cheese with the family we were visiting today, so I am tired.  I’ll show you guys some fun videos of an orangutan and other interesting things I learned later.  Maybe even tell you about the fun craziness of me giving directions to my Mom here………..

I found the nearly perfect museum for Princess

If it had just had ponies there, she would have been in heaven.  As it was this was nearly perfect.

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Sigh, I need to learn not to mess with picture size on my lap top unless I want to think about throwing the thing through something for a while.


Back on topic.  She got to play “family,” which is what everyone else calls playing house.  She got to use all of the art supplies she could want.  I now have about 20 new pieces of art.  She’s discovered a new favorite medium: watercolor crayons.  I NEED to get some of these.  She played with blocks, and it was the coolest set of blocks I’ve seen yet.

The boys enjoyed it too, but for different reasons.

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They got to wear costumes and be blue-screened into a cartoon.  That was beyond cool, and there was a black light room that fascinated the boys.


All in all, I’d have to give the Arizona Museum for Youth two thumbs up.  Oh, and I successfully folded a paper crane today for the first time:


And on a totally unrelated note, I have had that shirt this I was 13.  I got it for washing a HUGE Saint Bernard dog for the TV show “What Would You Do,” and after that I spent the next few years randomly getting phone calls from people whenever the episode I was in got aired on Nickelodeon.


Meanwhile back at the ranch, a phrase which here means back to the subject of my post, reasons why Princess was deliriously happy today.

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She got to play with a baby and got read to while playing with the baby.  Pretty near to a perfect day.

And I’ll leave you with my amusing shot for the day.  Batman playing in the same type of baby gym he had as a baby.


Ahhhh…..  for that time when they were young.  You know when diapers were a line item in the budget……..

Tuscon, Arizona and I think I’ve fixed the problem with my blog

Or in theory I have.  There were links to a website that got hacked over the weekend, and in theory I’ve deleted all of the links.  The problem is if I search my blog it keeps saying those links are here, and I don’t know how to fix that problem.  In theory it will resolve itself……



Have you ever heard the phrase “like a bull in a china shop?”  Well, there were times today I thought it should be “like a kid in a jewelry store.”  We spent the morning reliving memories of my childhood and wandering around downtown Tubac.


For those who don’t know downtown Tubas is pretty much artsy type stores with large amounts of breakables.  And I am very proud to announce that the kids did not break a SINGLE THING!  There were a couple of close calls, but nothing broken.




To reward them for their singularly over the top patience we went to the Tuscon Children’s Museum.  It’s not one of the ones I get into free with my Austin Children’s Museum membership, but I HIGHLY recommend it.  The kids happily spent two hours there playing in the different rooms.  The two most popular were the build it room, which included this never before seen by us (and we’re becoming children’s museum experts) caterpillar tree maze thing, and:



what was essentially a glorified ropes course maze.  I think they spent 30 minutes on that thing.  Leaping through it, going over and under the ropes.  Rolling around, pretending the ropes were lasers and would burn them.  Then deciding the blue ones could heal them.  The fun went on and on.



I had fun taking pictures for the next episode in the “Adventures of Green Cowboy, Blue Arrow, and Princess Penny.”  Yes, I wrote the first sage and have sent it off to the printers (as in one of the photo store websites……).  I guess in their next adventures they will be incognito because they are not in their costumes.


We have now arrived at our destination, Phoenix, Arizona and are visiting with my step-uncle and his wife and new baby.  The kids are so funny about babies and are all about seeing the baby.


The kids are zonked out after all of their running around, and I’m going to sign off now and get caught up on my Bible reading.  These past two nights I’ve felt proud to get jammies on and into bed, let alone my Bible read.  Which is rather sad, but I’m looking forward to reading large portions of Joshua tonight.  That’s my next set of stories to illustrate, Joshua and such stuff.

Arizona studies

Because that sounds much better than fun art projects.

Here’s what’s in there:
Desert Hotel– love this books, and there’s so much to do with it
How the Stars got in the Sky– seriously, the Arizona books were so good.
Possum’s Wild West Adventure– the main things the kids remembered about it was of course the gun fight, and the bad guys stole their cows, but they shot him.
And our usual:
I used the state symbols from the Gila Ben site linked below (I’m not above using someone else’s work if they’ve already done it).
Cool links I’ve found:
Arizona State Department for Kids– Great information and cute pictures.
Gila Ben– I got a bunch of printables here we used.
Mozi Esme– review of a book taking place in Arizona

I’m gonna link this up to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn and her fun Geography link, and then to help raise awareness:
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stART: something about stars, I can’t remember right now

It’s one of THOSE days.  You know where somebody, and I’m not naming names but they’re about 3 feet high, zapped my brain.

So, we read this awesome book about the Navajo and how the stars were placed in the sky.  Hopefully by the end of this post I’ll remember the name.  Well, it seemed perfect for a craft I’d been thinking about.

Supplies: black or blue construction paper (I cut it into fourths and let them have fun with that much, fits better in the lapbook); those foil stars (you know, the GOLD star for being good)


1.  And only step.  Let your kids have a blast putting on star stickers however they like.


Princess’ summary of story: The coyote threw the stars away, while the woman was trying to put them in the sky.
Finally found the book:

I love this book, it’s probably my favorite of the different ones from this region.

To see more great book activities head on over to
A Mommy’s Adventures.  Sigh, I always have this problem with the button, it keeps making the next few sentences after it a link, I don’t know the details of why, now you know my secret reason for having it at the bottom.

And, I’ve decided to make a category called dinner time crafts.  To my mind these are crafts you can set your kids doing and not have to supervise.

stART: Cactus Hotel

I can’t remember if anyone else has done this, but we read Cactus Hotel last week.  It’s a great nonfiction story of how a cactus is a home to many creatures in the desert.  The kids loved reading it and we talked a lot about the different animals.  I had all sorts of ideas about how I could make this into a complicated project, but then I finally realized go for simple, and you get it done.

Supplies: card stock (just to make sure the paper is sturdy enough, you could use copy paper); sand paper, crayons; glue, scissors, print out (below)
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(anyone know how to do those cool little mini pictures that Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations does?)

0111.  Cut cardstock in half (not necessary, but that’s the size we wanted).
2.  Cut out a cactus shape from the sandpaper.

3.  Color the cactus with crayon (it makes a cool texture).


4.  Start cutting out pictures galore.  Seriously, you haven’t seen the finished product yet.  They went nuts with the pictures.


5.  Glue like it’s about to go out of style.  Have you noticed the 20 cent bottles of glue right now?  Now you know why I buy them like a crazy woman.

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Honest it takes two pages of pictures to cover up half a page of artwork.  Right?

Can you guess which one is mine?

In order: Batman, Princess, mine, Princess (her second), Superman (he drew in a second cactus).

We had a blast doing this, and it’s going in the lapbook for four states (all of them desert states).

Head on over to
A Mommy’s Adventures to see what other story related projects people are doing.

New Mexico and Arizona books

In my mind New Mexico and Arizona are linked together, not for any good reason, just they have many similarities.  You can also include some of these books for Texas to my mind.


Incredible Wild West– We didn’t read this as such, just used it for some information.  I haven’t figured out a good way to read books like this aloud.  There’s so many random facts and some continue on to other pages.  I enjoy them when I’m reading it to myself, but boy is it frustrating to read out loud.


The Zunis– This provided great information about one of the local tribes in the area.  If I really wanted to just studying the different American Indian tribes in the area could take up several weeks of study.  The title is linked to the activity we did with this.


The Grand Canyon– This is a good introduction type book.  It covers why it’s important and what you’ll see there.


Find it in the Desert– This is mostly specific to Southwestern United States, but there are a few references to other areas in it.  My kids enjoyed the seek and find aspect of it.  It opened up with “Can you find _____ of the snake.”  Which got them involved and excited about finding out more.


Cactus Hotel– This is one of those odd ones that is covering nonfiction material, but might be categorized as fiction because of the way it’s written.  My kids loved this one, and we’re going to be doing an art project on it soon.




Possum’s Wild West Adventure–  I really liked this as a short read-aloud sort of chapter book.  It’s not divided up into chapters, but it takes about 30-45 minutes to read aloud (depending on how many questions your kids ask).  They loved it, but were disappointed when some of the cowboys were the bad guys at the end of the story.


The Secret of the Circle-K Cave– My kids liked this cave much better than the one we visited.  It does a good job of presenting fun information and a small mystery.


How the Stars Fell Into the Sky– My kids loved this one and we talked about it a lot.  I also saw a lot of parallels between what Christians believe about the fall of man and how the Navajo explained it.  So, we discussed that a bunch.  This is another one that I have an art activity planned.  I just need to get those little gold stars for it.


Little Gold Star– We’ll be reading this soon, so no review of it yet.  I’ll update once we have.


Don’t Call Me Pig– I think I got this as my book from New Mexico on the trip, and this book is part of what convinced me to study both at once.  Both states were trying to claim it as “local interest.”


Night Dancer– One more that didn’t fit into my carousel.  We all agreed this was fun, and wanted to try dancing like that (link goes to the book on Amazon).

Geography: Arizona


What to me is one of the quintessential things about Arizona aside from the Grand Canyon?  Of course the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  So, I searched long and hard to find a kid appropriate book about it.  Did you know they didn’t even have one at the bookstores in Arizona?  All their stuff in the local interest section was desert, desert, Grand Canyon, desert animals, maybe a book about Kokopelli, but nothing.  I could find the same books in New Mexico and several of them in Texas, so it’s not like it was anything special.

So, while I read to them the adventures of the brave hitchhiking possum (shouldn’t it be opossum?  Or is that maybe a Southern thing [imagine the accent when I type that]); they happily played with the toob of Wild West figures I’d found for them.  So they had lots of fun acting out parts of the story, and this worked well because it’s not really a picture book, but one very long story with a couple of pictures to break up the text.

I’d highly recommend picking this up if you see it, I liked the story, and it’s apparently part of a series.  The other benefit is there’s a link (with password) at the back of the book to an audio download.  I haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m intrigued.

This did lead to some interesting conversations.  Things like: “Mommy were the Indians bad guys?”  So, I explained that they weren’t always the bad guys, sometimes they were, and sometimes the cowboys were.  I really think the current trend of blaming everything on the pioneers as these horrible people isn’t healthy.  Yes, there were a lot of mistakes made by them, but there were also mistakes made by the American Indians.  Neither side is blameless.  So, that is what I’m teaching the kids as it’s age appropriate.  Right now, they’re just learning that both sides did things they shouldn’t have.  When they get older we can get into more details, but right now they really don’t need to know more than that.

Okay, off my soap box about history revisionism.  It’s a little bit of a sore subject to me.  I don’t know about other states, but it sure seems like Texas goes through this every time we go through textbook revisions of what history figure are we going to ridicule and who are we going to make into a saint.  Sigh, stupid politicians.

Backing away from the box.  Really, I am now.  Mostly.  Probably for now.  So, to change the subject for more posts about Geography and History head over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Get lost in a noodle forest


And as you can see it’s very hard to take pictures in the middle of a pool noodle forest.  Actually there were a lot of activities that were hard to get good pictures of.  In the middle of the forest was a cactus you could put spiders on and then watch them be thrown across the way by an eagle (in reality, they stuck it to velcro and then rolled it up and a fan knocked them off).  But, it was really funny to watch.




Oh wait, I just realized in my amusement at the pool noodle forest I forgot to tell you what I was talking about.  This is the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, actually it’s one of two.  There’s one in Mesa, a suburb, but it was sadly closed on Mondays, that one looked really cool.    But, we didn’t lose anything by going to this one.  First they spent a good 30 minutes IMG_0516climbing all over the 3 story tall wood and metal contraption and finding the different cool little hiding places.  Let me tell you a game of hide and seek in something like that is hard.  You can see the person, but have no idea how to get over to where they are before they can go hide somewhere else.  Oh, and I rediscovered that I don’t like grated floors.  I had a couple of freak out moments up there, and I know Princess did.


After all that playing they had a dirty tricycle and so Batman drove everyone through the trike wash and got all cleaned up.   I love how you can see their reflections in the glass.  I wish I could say it was on purpose, but it wasn’t.






IMG_0538  After all that work we were of course very hungry and went grocery shopping, did some cooking at a restaurant and then stopped at an ice cream parlor.  The restaurant and ice cream parlor gave me so many ideas of projects to make.  I really loved their ice cream cones.  It was just a piece of fun foam, or one of those circles for the Candy Land DVD game or the Twister game (I forget which variation) glued into a cone shape.  Then it was foam balls of different colors.  The kids loved making ice cream cones.

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Oh, and oops.  I mislabeled a kid earlier.  Superman is wearing the blue Batman shirt, he’s the one with the bandaid currently.   Just saw that in the close-up of his sleeping shot.

So, this goes on my list of Would visit again.  Check out the Children’s Museum of Phoenix