Experiencing Scottsdale From an Outsider’s Perspective

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What a busy, adventurous, and just plain old fun week I’ve had with my children! Here’s a little of sampling of some of the things we did:

  • I took them to a children’s museum… AND…went without any other friends, meaning I spent less time chatting with another adult and more time watching them explore
  • We rode our bikes to a farmers market and checked out some locally made items. We bought homemade popsicles and strolled around the booths of baked goods and organic produce casually enjoying the cold treats on a hot, sunny morning.
  • After walking by a “baby yoga” studio several times and thinking it sounded a little too “out there” and new-age-y for me, I decided to just go ahead and give it a try. I discovered that baby yoga may just be my new favorite activity. I got a little exercise. My one year old loved the music and seeing all the other toddlers dancing. My four year old is obsessed with the doing the “surfer” (warrior pose) the “doggy tunnel” (a bunch of moms all doing downward dog in a line while the kids crawl under us barking, and the “burrito” (wrapping himself up tight in a yoga mat. Sure, this last one is not a real yoga thing, but super funny to a preschooler!)
  • I overheard some other moms chatting at Target about a neighborhood splash pad opening this weekend for summer. I had never heard about this park so I asked them for more information. We can’t wait to go next week.
  • I noticed a flyer advertising a festival celebrating all the different ethnic cultures living in the city, we decided to stop by and see the many types of food, art, and activities for children on display.
  • My husband surprised us all after dinner by insisting we visit a neighborhood homemade ice cream shop for desert.
  • I visited the city’s parks and rec website and found an outdoor art class and a city-sponsored drop-in playgroup. Both activities are for children ages 1-5 (both boys can do it together!) and both were very inexpensive and surprisingly easy to enroll in.
  • I picked up a free local magazine at the entrance of the grocery store and found out about a few farms not too far away. I am planning to take the boys to visit these farms and pick their own fruit. We are then going to come home and try some Pinterest recipes and bring our delicacies to our nice new next-door neighbors.
  • We also visited several parks, went to a local baseball game, have been taking after dinner walks, contacted some old friend we haven’t seen in a while, splurged for a sitter and a date night at a very fancy restaurant, and I even looked into taking a summer course “just for fun” at the nearby University.

So what’s different about this week? Why am I suddenly fun and interesting and willing to try all sorts of new things? (notice there is only one mention of a trip to Target?)

Well, I’m actually not in Scottsdale! I am spending the next month in one of my all time favorite parts of the country, Charlottesville, Virginia. I’ll save you the long, serendipitous story of how we got here and simply tell you that a very kind, generous, possibly insane friend of my husbands offered us the chance to house-sit for a month while they were on vacation. Since my husband has the ability to work remotely, and since their house was already set up for a family (they have a crib, high-chair, and a playroom stocked with toys and children’s books!) we of course said “Sure!” So 5 days in the Suburban, and 2,100 miles later (A trip worthy of a whole other post!) we were here and ready to begin our east-coast adventure!

However, a month is a long time when you’re new to a city and tasked with the job of keeping children entertained , while not losing your mind. It’s forced me to get creative, to think outside the box and try new things… even if they’re not necessarily “me”. When I come home and tell my husband what we did that day or what we are planning for tomorrow, he’s been impressed with my ability to seek out and hunt down new activities and experiences. The truth is, I’m kind of impressed with myself too! But, I’m also a little disappointed. The way I am forcing myself to live in a new town, has made me realize how predictable and unadventurous I’ve been in my hometown. I have lived in Scottsdale most of my life and while it’s certainly comforting to know my way around every corner, I’m thinking that it may be keeping me from really gong out there and searching for new corners. After all, I’m sure we have farmers markets in Phoenix, (although I’ve never actually visited one) and I remember driving by a festival in a local park just a few weeks ago (I didn’t go in, I just complained about the traffic it caused) and I did notice that a friend in town I haven’t spoken to in years just popped up on my facebook wall (but I didn’t call her, I have a ton of great friends I see all the time and it’s just so easy to get together with them. Why trouble myself?)

While it’s certainly nice and comforting to have our favorite places, our best friends and our dependable routines, I am learning from my month away in Virginia that when I do come home to Scottsdale I’m going to try to be on the look a little harder to find some new experiences hidden among the familiar setting.

As CK Chesterson said, “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

While I’m sure he must have been talking about things much more important than trying a new splashpad or neighborhood class… I’m a stay-at-home mom of two young children, so that’s what it means for me.

Scottsdale is full of tourists, all dying to know where the locals really eat, play, and shop… they all travel here aspiring to experience the town just like a local would. When I do come home after living away for a month, I may just aspire to experience Scottsdale like a visitor.

Photo credit: here

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