Category Archives: Outside with Family



Now that the weather is getting warmer we have been wanting to spend more time outside.  We have picked up a new hobby that allows our family to do the majority of the work inside and the best part outside.  What is this new found fun we have been enjoying?  Rocket launching!  It is a lot of fun to build and paint these and have a launch party with some of your favorite kiddos.  You can buy these relatively inexpensive kits at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.  The kit we bought costs about $30.00 and included 2 rockets, a launching pad and an ignitor.  Plus we bought the engines ( 13.00 for 3 of them).

making sure we followed the directions properly before our launch

Hint:  If you sign up for Michael’s email you automatically get a 50% off one item coupon.  We used it to buy a pack of 24 engines.  So instead of paying $80.00 for them we paid $40.00.  There is also a 50% off coupon in the entertainment book.

Once you buy the kit with the launch pad you only have to buy the rockets which cost anywhere from $7.99-$16.99.  The rockets vary in size and the height that they will launch.  For instance, we have a rocket that launches 1,200 feet up and another that launches 500 feet up.

Are you asking yourself, where do we have all of this fun?  Well, we launch at the West Mesa Open Space and for the rockets that don’t launch so high we light in my parents pasture.  We have rounded up a few kids and parents from my son’s school and the boys have a blast.  Their favorite part is racing to retrieve the rockets after they launch.  Happy lift-off!


the race to the rocket


The Petrified Forest National Park: Part II The Painted Desert

some of the spectacular scenes from the Painted Desert

Visiting the Petrified National Park was fun and it was neat to see huge forest trees in the middle of the desert.  About half way through this park there is another scenic area of badlands, mesas, and buttes called the Painted Desert.  It reminds me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting because the colors are just amazing.  When I think of a desert landscape I think of brown barren land that is boring and desolate.  The Painted Desert is nothing like this.  It is vibrant, beautiful and full of life.  The colors range from yellow, orange and red to purple, gray and black.

I wish the sky would have been blue this day to make my photos perfect, but you get the idea of the landscape.  I love seeing how all of the different minerals were laid down over time.  This place was like no place I have seen before.  One of my favorite scenes was the Teepees (see below), a cluster of teepee shaped badlands that protrude out of the landscape.  All of these are different but similar at the same time.  I have a new found appreciation for the desert landscape.

The Painted Desert Teepees

Other places to visit inside the Petrified National Park…

Painted Desert Visitor Center and Park Headquarters
Latitude: 35.06543746738773
Longitude: -109.78153824806213

Rainbow Forest Museum
Latitude: 34.81517743163217
Longitude: -109.86576497554779

Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark
Latitude: 35.08343319608185
Longitude: -109.78861391544342

Do you have a favorite place like this you would like to share?


The Petrified Forest National Park: Part I

answering a question in his jr. ranger pamphlet by counting his steps

Let me start off by saying “this is a true story.”  On our way back from a nice weekend in Scottsdale and Phoenix my husband thought it would be a good time to stop and enjoy the scenery.  Ok, really… We had been forced to take a detour through Payson Arizona because Flagstaff had 6 inches of snow and we were in a car that didn’t have 4 wheel drive :)  Nevertheless, Payson had 2 inches of ice and we were totally freaked out and needed to decompress.  That is how we ended up in the Petrified Forest

some of the vibrant colors

The scenery is fun for little ones and it is nice to get out and stretch your legs.  They have a Jr. Ranger program where your children can earn a badge and a patch for answering some questions while walking through the park.  There are fossils and huge logs of petrified wood with amazing colors!  There are also native grassland, and displays of over 200-million-year-old fossils, this is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. He especially loved the large black Ravens we encountered.  We entered the petrified forest from the south end of the park (see map below).  The petrified forest spans twenty-some miles and drops you right off at 1-40.  So, if you have  an hour to spare on your way home from Arizona stop by this little gem.


Petrified Forest National Park is located in northeastern Arizona, about 50 miles from the New Mexico border on Interstate 40.

Private Vehicle: Driving from Phoenix you have several choices, depending on your location in the greater Phoenix area:

From eastern side of greater Phoenix, travel Highways 87 North to Payson, 260 East to Heber, 377 North to Holbrook, and 180 South to the park (215 miles).

Driving from Albuquerque travel 204 miles west on Interstate 40 to Exit 311.

Area Map of Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park stretches north and south between Interstate 40 and Highway 180. There are two entrances into the park. Your direction of travel dictates which entrance is best for you:

Westbound Interstate 40 travelers should take Exit 311, drive the 28 miles through the park and connect with Highway 180 at the south end. Travel 19 miles on Highway 180 North to return to Interstate 40 via Holbrook.

Eastbound Interstate 40 travelers should take Exit 285 into Holbrook then travel 19 miles on Highway 180 South to the park’s south entrance. Drive the 28 miles north through the park to return to Interstate 40.


The Great Pumpkin Carving Party!

Our 2009 Pumpkin Carving Party

As you all know fall and Halloween hold a special place in my heart.  Every year we take a lot of time to decorate our house and get ready for our annual Halloween party.  This party is for adults and my friends are asking me in August for the date so that they can secure a sitter.  With that being said , I thought that it would be nice to have a kid friendly version of our adult party.  Last year, we invited my son’s entire Kinder class to our house for a Halloween party.  So many children and parents showed up that it was overwhelming and a bit of a free-for-all.  This year, I’m re-thinking my whole elaborate plan and keeping it simple and small, while making it family friendly.  This year we decided to have a Pumpkin Carving Party on Saturday, October 29th and here are a few tips on keeping it simple and fun.

1)  Choose a small group of people and send out the invites.  We chose to invite 6 families this year.  In an effort to keep things ‘green’  I sent out an Evite.  Here you can choose from Halloween themed pre-designed invitations.  They are professional looking and the evite website is user-friendly and free.  It sends out your invite via email and also keeps track of who is coming, provides a map to your house, and sends out a reminder email the day before your party.

2.)  Think of the mess you will have to clean up.  Pumpkin guts are sure to get everywhere so this year we will be doing it outside among the fall leaves and cool weather.  I have long tables covered in newspaper.  You could also use disposable plastic tablecloths.  I just wanted something that is quick and easy to clean up.

3.)  Spooky Music anyone?  You can’t have a pumpkin carving party without music to fit the theme of the evening.  I downloaded a bunch of Halloween music and will play it on my iPod.  Some of my music includes:   Monster Mash, Thriller, The Nightmare Before Christmas (soundtrack), and some other spooky sounds like glass breaking.  The music is fitting for the atmosphere and the kids really get excited about it too.

4.)  Pumpkin carving is fun but so is decorating.  I fill the table with kitchen tools, ice-cream scoopers, pumpkin scrapers, easy to use pumpkin saws, stencils, and candles.  This year I’m also going to add paints (nontoxic), toothpicks and vegetables to our arsenal of tools.  This is partly to get the younger children involved and the older children get to be more creative and imaginative too.  We can use paint to add stitches to our pumpkins or we can add broccoli to our pumpkins for silly hair.  You get the idea.

5.)  Last, I ask that everyone bring a small dish to share.  It helps me by not stressing about what serve and we end up with a wide array of foods.  There is usually something there to suit everyone’s palate and it keeps things simple.   Not to mention, I don’t have so many dishes to wash and the guest gets to take home the dish they brought.

our pumpkin decorating skills

We will end the evening this year with an ‘award ceremony’.  The awards will be for scariest pumpkin, most creative, most funny, etc, etc.   We will also line all of our pumpkins up and see how they look in the dark.  The kiddos get a big kick out of this!  I also send the kids home with a treat bag and thank them for coming.  This is such a fun time of year and I hope you take the time to spend it with people you enjoy!

Happy pumpkin hunting and carving!

P.S.  I also have the kids dressed in whatever costume they feel like wearing.  This gets them really excited for the big day!


Get Dressed Up For Day of the Tread a bike ride and 5k/10k Run!

Fall is my favorite time of year partly because Halloween is my favorite Holiday. So if you want to get out and help benefit kids in our community, there is no better way than to register for the “Day of the Tread.”  The proceeds benefit our Children’s Carrie Tingley Hospital.  I’m doing my clinicals at Carrie Tingley and I see patients every week who drive from Gallup, T or C, Silver City, Farmington and other far away cities to meet with specialists for a 20 minute doctor’s appointment.  Carrie Tingley Hospital is the only children’s hospital in the state that helps children with all kinds of disabilities.  These kiddos desperately need basic services like gas money to get to their appointments and other basic services.  So, come out and help a good cause that benefits kids in our community!  Click here for more information and our entire family will be there dressed up in our favorite costumes.  Come join us!


Whether you want to ride 12-100 miles, run 5k-26.2 miles or walk 5k-10k, please join us for the 5th Annual Day of the Tread October 16th.To register:1. Download the 2011 Registration Form atwww.dayofthetread.comor2. Register online at


3. Start Treadin’ for Casa and Carrie.

Raise $150 by October 1, 2011 and we will register you and pay for your registration all while your tread makes a huge impact on the lives of families facing cancer and kids with special needs.  Treadin’ For Casa and Carrie Registration Form 


Please call Kim at 243.6626 with any questions.
dott collage

Biking to Balloon Fiesta – free bike valet service

riding bikes to Balloon Fiesta

For the past three years we have taken the bike trail to Balloon Fiesta.  We live in the north valley and catch the bike trail at Paseo Del Norte and take it across to the Diversion Channel.  There we catch the long trail and ride it all the way to Balloon Fiesta Park.  You drop your bike off right in front of the park and they give you a ticket to reclaim it after the festival.  This service is free (they accept donations).    Our ride takes about 15 minutes and saves us the headache of having to park.  Not to mention parking can be far away and taking a shuttle to the drop off area makes no sense to me.  Riding our bikes gives us some exercise and is fun in the early morning because we get to wear or headlamps.  We pack our bike trailer with hot chocolate, blankets and cameras.

the view from our front yard

Last year my husband ended up getting a flat tire on the way over.  The bike valet supplied a tube and fixed our tire for free!  We donated 20.00 for the service because it was so unexpected and gladly welcomed.  I was just so impressed with the level of service and have been a loyal supporter ever since!  If you don’t live close to Balloon Fiesta you can still drop your cars off at a bike trail and head on over.  For example, you can park at the Railrunner station one 2nd Street and El Pueblo and catch the bike trail to the diversion channel.  Click here for more information about the FREE bike valley service.

Bike Valet hours of operation and details….

  • Morning Sessions 5:30AM to 10:30AM
  • Evening Sessions 5:00PM to 9:00PM
  • Bikes not picked up from the bike valet area will be removed and stored. The bike owner will have to call the Balloon Fiesta main line at 821-1000 to arrange pick up.
The bike trail runs along the AMAFCA North Diversion Channel crosses underneath Paseo del Norte and Alameda Blvd. continuing north where it crosses from the west side to the east side ending just north of the Balloon Museum. There you will find the Bike Valet staffed by local bicycle group volunteers of Bike ABQ, NM Touring Society.

Taos Chile Chow Down, Yum….

Taos Chile Chow Down

The Taos Chile Chow Down is coming to the Historic Taos Plaza on Saturday, October 8, 2011!Do you need a nice getaway that is not to far away?  How about the Taos Chile Chow Down.  Come be a participant in the festival by cooking your best New Mexico chile recipes.  If being a vendor is not your style come out and sample the best chile recipes in the state.

Grab your grill and your best ingredients and head on out to the Historic Taos Plaza and compete with your fellow Taosenos to see just who the hottest one in town is! Celebrate all that is good about New Mexico food and music. Listen to music live from the Historic Taos Plaza and come on out and have some great food and a great time with your family and friends. The event is free to the public and kids of all ages are welcome! It will be fun!

Entry fee for each cook-off contest is $15.00. Deadline to enter is October 1, 2011.

Click here for more information!

Proceeds to benefit the youth of Taos, New Mexico.


It’s balloon fiesta time!

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love that the weather is getting cooler, the garden harvesting begins and the smell of roasting green chile is everywhere.  Not to mention, there are a lot of activities in the city during fall.  There are the Corrales Harvest Festival, Balloon Fiesta, art festivals, corn mazes and haunted houses to visit.  Our next upcoming event is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  If you have never been before or if you haven’t been in ten years you should consider going.  It has a fun family friendly atmosphere and is one of our nation’s top festivals to go to.  This festival has something for everyone in the family!  

Balloonists on the approach for the key grab - an event where balloonists attempt to grab keys placed at the top of poles located around a large grass field. The prizes are, of course, cars and trucks!

The Mass Ascension takes place on October 1 at about 7:15 a.m.  This is an ascension of all of the balloons (hundreds!).  It usually happens in two waves and it seems to me like the number of balloonists gets larger every year.  You’ll want to get there early to park and find a good spot to watch the launch.  We usually get to the park by 6 a.m.  

A large grass field provides the launch site for hundreds of balloons. Fiesta goers mill about watching and cheering as balloons lift off.

Balloon Glows are my favorite part of balloon fiesta.  Balloons fire their burners and light up at the same time.  It really is quite spectacular.  My son loves the special shapes rodeo where he gets to see the Darth Vader balloon along side with a cow, a witch and many other ‘odd’ shaped balloons.  

Special shapes balloon include Darth Vader, the Creamland Cow, Sunshine, the Orient Express Train, pigs, bees, laydbugs and many, many more!

When is all of this fun starting?  Tomorrow!  October 1-9

Click here for a schedule of events.

If  you live near a bike trail consider riding your bike all the way to entrance.  The balloon fiesta offers a FREE bike valet service that is AWESOME!  We use the bike valet every year and save $10 on parking.  More to come about that on our next post.


Corrales Harvest Festival

The Corrales Harvest Festival has been a long time favorite of mine.  It is super family friendly and A LOT of fun!

visiting with local vendors

There is an arts and crafts fair, great food, good music, hay rides a corn maze, and a pumpkin patch.

Hay rides from the start of the festival to the pumpkin patch and corn maze

The hay rides are free of charge and take you from one end of Corrales to the other.  This is important as there are many stops and activities along the way.  One of the many stops includes Casa San Isidro.  It is a working museum where you can watch weaving and horno bread making and many other activities.  It is a wonderful place to bring your children and show them a little piece of New Mexico history.  Other events at the harvest festival include a pet parade, growers market, horse extravaganza and much, much more.

When: September 24-25

I hope to see you there!


Corrida de Corrales 5K and 10K run

Corrida de Corrales 5k runThe Kiwais Club of Corrales Foundation presents the 26th annual Corrales Harvest Festival in the fall.  Along with the festival the Corrida de Corrales 5K and 10k run is also a fun way to see and explore Corrales, get some exercise in and enjoy the upcoming fall weather.  The race is especially nice if you are running your first 5k or aren’t a seasoned runner.  The trail is flat and follows the acequias (ditches) in the heart of the Corrales green belt.  The surroundings are nice and calm and you have the opportunity really enjoy your run.  I highly recommend this 5k!  The best thing about it is you get to enjoy the Corrales Harvest Festival after the run.

When:  Sunday, September 25th @ 8:00 a.m.

Where:  Corrales Recreation Center;  500 Jones Road, Corrales.

Cost:  25.00 before September 18th or 30.00 after September 19th.

I forgot to mention you also get a T-shirt :)

For more information or to register online visit

Happy Fall Everyone!