It was time for my 11th birthday party! I stood nervously by my present table with my friend Meritaten. Would my guests have a good time?
The doorbell rang and in tumbled my other guests- it was time for the party to begin!
First up was the piñata! I spun around, swung my stick, and SMACK- I hit it! It didn't break though- time for someone else's turn!
Next up was Fiona, then Meri. They couldn't break the piñata either- it was tough! Then it was Coral's turn- WHACK! She smashed it!
The candies spilled out onto the floor and we all scrambled to gather them up. Whee!
Next came "Pin the Ear on Cheburashka!" Fiona went first- she got him right in the belly!
I spun and spun and stumbled toward the wall- would I get the ear in the right place? I didn't want to be embarrassed at my own party!
Right on the mark!!
But wait- everyone called out "Don't take off the blindfold! Spin! Spin!"
So I spun!
"Stop!" yelled a strangely familiar voice, "Take off your blindfold!"
It was Violet, my very best friend in the entire world! She had flown all the way from Utah just for my party! What a fabulous surprise!
I gave her a huge hug. We hadn't seen each other in two years and we were so excited to be together again!
"Okay, okay!" said Coral, "time for cake!"
"Happy Birthday Dear Inky!" sang my friends! "Happy Birthday to you!"
I thought hard before I made my wish. After all, what could be better than what I already had- a roomful of friends? Finally, I closed my eyes and blew out the candles.
It was time for presents!
Meritaten handed me her gift- a big green box with a brown bow. What could it be?
A Hello Kitty caboodle with a panda notebook and some pencils! Thanks Meri!
Then came a giant striped box with a light green bow from Coral.
It was a bright orange, limited edition Ice Bat Uglydoll!!! Thanks Coral- you're the best!
Next was a big pink gift with a white bow from my friend Fiona. I shook it- what could it be?
A little Japanese red panda figurine for my bedroom!! Wow! Thanks Fiona!
Then came another stripy gift from my dear friend Violet. She and her mama always send the best gifts! I jumped up and down with excitement!
A holiday inkpad with eight little stamps!! How cool! Violet and I would have to use them to make holiday cards for our friends!
Then came the present from my parents. I wasn't expecting much because I knew my big present was Violet's visit.
But it was a Squishable arctic fox!!! Yay! Holy hotdogs, what a great present!
Finally Coral handed me my last present. "This is a very special present," she said. "Sabine, Sandrine, and Aurélie sent this package all the way from France!"
Whoa!! It was a really cool blue shirt, a magnetic pig, and three cards from my French friends. Thank you so much mes amies! I especially loved Sandrine's card, which was decorated with all my favorite things. How thoughtful!
My mom took a picture of me with all my gifts. I'm a lucky girl! What a blessing to have so much wonderful friends!
My friends and I all gathered for one last photo before everyone (except Violet!) went home. It was a wonderful day! What a pity that birthdays come only once per year...
My friend Raven takes horse riding lessons! This is Raven with her horse, Misty. Isn't she lucky? There are stables in NYC, but my parents say ballet is enough for me. I would love to try riding a horse someday though. Raven was kind enough to let me and our friend Summer visit her stable so that we could watch Raven ride and take photos.
Isn't Raven a good rider? Summer was telling me that she'd really like to start horse riding lessons someday too. Raven and Summer were teasing me because the only horses I'm familiar with are New York Police Department horses and the carriage horses in Central Park! (By the way, you should not take a carriage ride if you come to NYC, the horses aren't treated very well and the city roads are very bad for their feet.)
After a while, Summer and I started climbing on all the little wooden structures behind the barn. We were really happy to get the chance to see each other again. However, since I was going back to New York a few days later, we didn't know when we'd get to spend time together again. It's so nice to spend time with friends!
Raven had ridden her bike to the stable and she let me try it. I had to use training wheels! Summer was laughing and laughing. NYC kids don't really ride bikes that much! If anything, we carry around our razor scooters and scoot from place to place. I was a bit embarrassed, but I still had fun!
It was a fun afternoon, but I was really sad it was my last one with my Arizona friends for a while. How do you like to cheer up when you are feeling sad about missing a friend?
Tombstone, Arizona. It sounds spooky, right? It's not! I had the chance to visit the town with my friends Raven and Cody while I was in Arizona. The town is pretty small- the main thing you do is walk up and down a street with lots of little shops. Raven was joking that it's pretty puny compared to New York. She was right, but it was still fun!
Cody's family likes to eat a saloon called Big Nose Kate's, so we went there. The three of us kids stood on the piano for a photo. Please excuse the naked lady!!
Raven and I had fun climbing on the hitching posts outside the restaurant. The main street has a dirt road, which makes it feel old timey. Fun!
Here's Raven with some cigar store statues. We definitely learned that Tombstone, in its heyday, was not a good place for kids. It was full of saloons, cowboys, and dancing ladies. There were even gunfights. Yikes!
Still, Tombstone is a pretty fun place to visit. There are stagecoach rides and you can have your family's photo taken in cowboy and saloon girl clothes. The best part is the old fashioned candy!
Have you ever been to a place like Tombstone? What did you do?
During my trip to Arizona, Raven had a few things planned for us. One was a drive up Mount Lemmon! Mount Lemmon is named after an English botanist, Sarah Plummer Lemmon. The local Native people, the O'odham, call it "Babad Do'ag." Our families drove up the Catalina Highway, which is very windy and a little bit scary. Raven even got a bit car sick!
We didn't drive all the way up the mountain; instead, we found a nice lookout and got out of the car to look around. I can't remember what the lookout was called, but you can find it by looking for the rock formation in the photo above. The parking lot is just across from the formation. It was so beautiful!
Once we were out of the car, Raven felt a lot better. She and I had a lot of fun scrambling around on the rocks. Our mamas kept yelling "Keep back from the edge!"
The rocks were huge! It reminded me a bit of the sandstone bluffs at El Malpais. I loved climbing on them. It's too bad the drive up the mountain is so out of reach from the main part of the city- I would ask to come back every day!
I was really glad to share my trip with Raven. She is an excellent guide to her part of the country. She was explaining how there are no saguaros up this high on the mountain because it is a different ecosystem. Once you drive lower, there are saguaros (cactus) everywhere!
See the city in the background of this photo? It's far below us! I think Tucson is at sea level and we were up about 6,000 feet. Awesome! It was a really great trip. We passed several campgrounds on the way up- wouldn't it be cool to camp high up on a mountain? Raven has done it and she says it's very cold, even in the summer. Boo hiss!
Raven found this really cool tree- wouldn't it be fun to build a treehouse in it? That is one of my dreams- to have a real treehouse.
Mount Lemmon is a beautiful place to visit. I can't wait to go back again one day- I think I'll have to invite Summer!
Have you ever been on a mountain? What was it called?
This week, while Raven was at one of her horse riding lessons, I decided to explore the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The Gardens are a very peaceful place, full of plants that love to live in the desert environment. In this photo, you can see some barrel cacti behind me. Cactus plants are so beautiful, but be careful not to get too close!
A lot of the desert plants are edible! I learned about them this summer when I became a junior ranger at Saguaro National Park. You can even eat some kinds of cactus!
In this photo, you can see a traditional American Indian garden behind me. See the corn growing on the little terrace? It's a special garden full of plants from the southwestern United States, with special attention paid to those grown by the Tohono O'odham people. Cool!
Here I am with a big butterfly feature! One of the coolest attractions at the Tucson Botanical Gardens is Butterfly Magic. It's a big greenhouse filled with butterflies and the plants they love. Of course, there are many beautiful butterflies in the gardens themselves as well. I loved getting to climb on this big butterfly. If you go to the Gardens, make sure to stop by Butterfly Magic!
I had a great time at the Tucson Botanical Gardens! I even stopped to get a drink at the little Birdhouse Cafe. Next time I'm in town, I'll have to come back with my friends. It's the perfect little oasis in the city.
Have you ever been to a botanical garden? What kinds of ecosystems did it have?