When Mormon pioneers settled in what is now Tempe, Arizona, in the 1870s, they didn’t find a valley filled with people, farms, or swimming pools. Instead, what greeted them in the Salt River Valley was a vast desert, giant saguaro cactus, and 118° F (48° C) temperatures. Since then, air-conditioning and the damming of the Salt River have made the Phoenix area not only a popular vacation area in the winter but also one of the fastest growing areas of the United States.
Kimberly Michelle Wade, 8, has lived in Tempe all her life. Although she thinks that the Arizona summers, which still have temperatures of 110°–115° F (43°–46° C), are “too hot,” she keeps cool by swimming and by going with her family to one of the nearby man-made lakes to water ski. During winter months she can still roller-skate or ride her bike most of the time without having to wear a sweater or jacket. To remember what real winters are like, however, the Wades have established a tradition of going to Utah every year to snow ski.
Kim is the youngest child in her family. Two older brothers, Steven and David, are twins. Kristen, her only sister, is six years older than Kim; they enjoy sharing a room together. Bryan, just sixteen months older than Kim, is her good friend and will play dolls with Kim as willingly as Kim will play army or build forts with him.
Music is a big part of the Wade family’s life. Each person, including Mom and Dad, plays a musical instrument. Kim’s father plays the guitar and banjo; Kim’s mother teaches piano lessons and also sings. Steven plays the trumpet; Dave, the viola; Kristen, the organ, violin, and piano; Bryan, the piano and trumpet; and Kim, the violin and piano. Kim played her violin in the Primary sacrament meeting program.
The violin is such a part of Kim’s life that once when she ordered an ice-cream cone, she asked for “Pizzicato Nut” instead of “Pistachio Nut.” (Pizzicato means that you pluck the violin strings with your finger instead of playing on them with your bow.)
Kimberly began reading at an early age, and she reads every day. Currently she is reading the Book of Mormon. One summer she read forty books, including Charlotte’s Web, her favorite. Kim wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Now whenever she has the chance, she plays school with her friends.
Kimberly also enjoys dancing, especially jazz dancing. She has performed in several parades and dance programs.
When Kim was seven, she set off with her family on a month-long camping trip across the United States. Walking along the Freedom Trail in Boston, where she saw places she had studied about in school, such as Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church, was the highlight of the trip for her. However, Kimberly was happy to come back home to Tempe and its surroundings, which offer many interesting things to see and do. Two places Kim likes to visit often are the Phoenix Zoo and the Phoenix Museum of Science and Technology, which is a hands-on science museum. The visitors’ center at the Mesa Temple grounds, with its talking figure of Moroni, is another favorite place.