Big Surf opens season with half-off deal

Photo courtesy of Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe.

Big Surf Waterpark is offering 50 percent off of general admission during the first three weekends of May for guests who bring in at least three non-perishable food items for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

The promotion begins on Saturday, May 5, when Big Surf Waterpark opens for the 2012 season, and continues on Saturdays and Sundays through May 20.

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, moms get in free when at least three non-perishable food items are donated. Everyone else in the group will receive 50 percent off admission with three or more non-perishable food donations.

‘We’re thrilled to kick off our 43rd season by partnering with the original food bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, and to provide to those in need of food,” said Bob Pena, Big Surf Waterpark General Manager, in a press release.

The waterpark is open weekends only through May 20 and then daily day from  May 25 through Aug. 6. Then it’s back to a Saturday/Sunday-only schedule from Aug. 11 through Sept. 16, when the 2012 season concludes. The park will be open on Labor Day. Season passes are $49.95.

Big Surf has been an Arizona icon for more than 40 years. It is located on 20 acres at 1500 N. McClintock Dr., on the border of Tempe and Scottsdale. 480-994-2297 or


Today is Healthy Kids Day at Valley YMCAs

Save $100 on a family membership during Healthy Kids Day festivities at 17 Valley of the Sun YMCA locations today only.

Activities vary by site and include games, prizes, bounce houses, facepainting, swimming, family zumba classes, kids yoga and more.

Times also vary by location. The best way to find out what’s happening near you is to visit and click on “locations” to find the branch closest to you. Then click on “member info button” for specifics on today’s events.

Kids can bowl free all summer at AMF

Kids 15 and younger get two free bowling games a day all summer long with AMF Bowling’s Summer Unplugged.

From May 14 through Sept. 3, kids can bowl free at all locations from opening until 8pm, seven days a week. It will only cost parents the price of shoe rentals.

Just visit to register and get downloadable coupons each week. AMF will send out email reminders to print the vouchers.

To find the closest AMF Bowling, visit

Don’t want to wait until May? AMF Squaw Peak Lanes at 3049 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix is currently offering a weekend special: all-you-can-eat pizza and two hours of bowling – shoes included – for $14.99 a person from 11am to 8pm each Saturday and Sunday.  No coupons necessary. — Amy Vogelsang

Worldwide culture at home

Photo courtesy of CHI.

Learn about another country’s culture in your own home through Cultural Homestay International (CHI), a non-profit organization that promotes international understanding through exchange programs.

CHI sets up host families for international high school students from more than 30 different countries. The students live with them for five to 10 months during the school year.

Volunteers can sign up throughout the year to be host families by completing an inquiry form and visiting the regions page to find a nearby academic coordinator.

Photo courtesy of CHI.

The Phoenix area is looking for an academic coordinator whose job will be to help find host families and help support students by calling and visiting the students’ schools. If you are interested or have more questions, contact Arizona Administrator Whitney Dasal at

CHI accepts all sorts of families, and is also looking for short-term host families to house students for two to four weeks. — Amy Vogelsang

Coffee and Play: A preschool preview at UUEEC

Photo courtesy of UUEEC.

Since 1961, the Unitarian Universalist Early Education Cooperative preschool (UUEEC) has provided a child-centered, play-based early education program for children ages 2 to 5 years old. Their experienced, highly qualified educators create learning environments that celebrate each unique developmental stage. As a parent-participation preschool, UUEEC believes in the importance of raising children in community and intentionally fostering relationships that can last a lifetime for both children and parents.

Years ago, I followed the lead of our publisher, Karen Barr, and then assistant editor Lisa Sorg-Friedman (writer/photographer Dan Friedman’s wife) and enrolled both of my children at UEEC. Sean and Juliann, my husband Bobby and I all enjoyed the co-operative preschool environment, which allows time for parents and/or grandparents to participate in daily activities. The co-op also provides ongoing parent education.

UUEEC currently is enrolling students ages 2 to 5 for the fall 2012 semester.

You can try out the cooperative preschool experience during “Coffee & Play: Preschool Preview” on Tuesday, April 24. Bring your toddler or preschooler with you from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Meet other parents over a cup of coffee and let your little one experience a typical morning of fun, hands-on learning. Explore classrooms with your child,  meet the experienced teachers and talk to currently enrolled parents and their children.

The school is located at 4027 E. Lincoln Dr. in Paradise Valley. RSVP to For more information, call 602-840-8400 x233 or visit Ortiz-Lieb

Photo courtesy of UUEEC.

Gymboree Play and Music is back in Scottsdale

Adam and Lane Abrahamsen with (from left) Aarik, Aaron and Athena.

The Abrahamsens were the perfect Gymboree Play & Music Family. All three of their children (Athena,  Aaron and Aarik) attended classes. One had made an about-face in personality because of the program and another jumped and giggled to his heart’s delight when he got there. It made sense for the loyal Gymboree Customer to become the Gymboree Franchisee.

Lane and Adam Abrahamsen inquired about the rights to the Scottsdale Gymboree Play & Music location in late 2010 and found that it was available. After months of training, planning and hiring, Abrahamsen Enterprises, Inc. opened the new Gymboree Play & Music Scottsdale on Jan. 31. Their site manager, Kori Newbill, and her staff, have created a wonderful, safe environment where children and their families can laugh, play, sing and climb (that’s the best part!) together.

Lane and Adam are excited to bring the experience their children had to the moms and babies of Scottsdale.

“It’s great to see happy faces, hear sunny laughter and watch toddling babies enjoy time with their moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunties, nannies and our teachers.” says Lane. ” We love what we do and hope the next shy little one comes to us to learn how fun it is to go out and experience what the world has to offer.”

Visit for yourself: Gymboree Play & Music Scottsdale,  7077 E. Bell Rd. #205, Scottsdale. 480-656-0801 or

MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb

Arizona Snowbowl offering deals during final week of skiing

Photo courtesy of Arizona Snowbowl.

Arizona Snowbowl is heading into the final week its 2011-2012 season with the last day of skiing on Sunday, April 1. The Agassiz Lift will continue operating from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the remainder of the season. The Hart Prairie Lift and Little Spruce Conveyor are assessed day by day for adequate snow cover.

“The 57 inches of snow we received earlier this week prolonged the season
two more weeks,” says Dave Smith, Snowbowl’s marketing manager. “Without this snow we would have closed March 1. Unfortunately the 50 degree weather is rapidly melting the snow. Skiing on the upper mountain is holding strong. It’s full-on spring conditions out there, firm in the morning and softening throughout the day. We are seeing lots of Hawaiian shirts and many skiing in shorts having a great time.”

From March 26 to April 1, Snowbowl will be offering many warm-weather
specials. All-day lift ticket rates are now $43 for adults and $29 for juniors. More savings are available on the Arizona Snowbowl website, including a $29 all-day
lift ticket voucher. End of season clearance sales are taking place in the Sport Shop.

Not a skiier? Sometimes the last week of skiing is more about hanging out on the deck, visiting with friends and having fun in the spring sun.

For more information call 928-779-1951 or visit