Lessons from the Desert

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This summer, my husband and I celebrated living in Arizona for a decade. That practically makes us locals, right?! Along the way, we’ve learned a few lessons from the desert.

Summer Lessons from the Desert

  • Gone are the days of a cool summer breeze blowing over a midwestern lake. The Arizona “summer breeze” feels like a hairdryer aimed at your face.
  • “It’s a dry heat”… This is true. The heat doesn’t feel quite as bad here. We’re pretty comfortable until the thermometer hits 113 degrees. Then it’s just hot, but at least it’s not too humid.
  • The heat is a dangerous thing. You have to be careful about what you store in your garage – it’s hot! I’m talking about you, photos and candles! You also have to be careful about what you leave in your car – your favorite chapstick will be a puddle by 10am.
  • Splash pads are an amazing invention. Pack a picnic and let your kids play in the water. Nobody will mind if you run through the splash pad a few times, too. 
  • Whether you’re hanging a damp beach towel or line drying your clothes, you’ll be amazed at how fast this dry desert air can suck up any moisture. Go for an afternoon swim and your towel will be dry by dinner time!
  • While we don’t have all the summer concerts the Midwest is known for, from September through May the Valley has your social calendar booked. Whether you like music or cultural festivals, there’s something for everyone! Best of all, kids aren’t forgotten – there are so many activities you couldn’t do them all if you tried!
  • After days and weeks of nothing but sunshine, who can complain about the occasional cloudy day during monsoon?! Bonus if your toddler takes an extra long nap because their room is so dark.
  • The monsoon is both wonderful and a little scary. Rain is something to be admired. Whether it’s a group of people at your office staring out the window or your sweet children puddle jumping, there’s something magical about a rainy day in the desert.

Fall and Winter Lessons From the Desert

  • No matter how “cool” our autumn is, you can’t carve your pumpkin too early or you’ll have a moldy mess on your step! Aim for a few nights before Halloween, most years.
  • In the midwest, you might worry about teenagers smashing your pumpkins if you leave them on your porch. They may even freeze overnight if the weather gets cold early. In Arizona, you have to worry about attracting javelinas with that sweet, ripe pumpkin smell. 
  • Don’t change your clocks – there’s no “falling back” or “springing forward” in most of Arizona. Unfortunately, some clocks auto adjust to daylight savings time, even though we don’t participate.
  • Snow is just a car ride away. If you’re nervous about leaving somewhere cold and snowy, have no fear, Flagstaff is just a few hour drive away. Most likely, you won’t miss it though…and as the locals say, you don’t have to shovel sunshine.

The Joys of Desert Living

When people picture the desert, they think of dust, cacti, and tumbleweeds. In reality, Arizona’s landscape is so diverse. Drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff and you’ll know what I’m talking about!

Speaking of beautiful things, there is SO MUCH public art! You could spend days driving around the Valley taking it all in.

No matter where you live, people think that’s where the nicest people around are… Midwesterners are known for waving at strangers. People in the South are known for their hospitality. I think Arizonans are the most welcoming of all! My theory is that so many people move here and remember what it’s like to be “the new kid.”

What lessons have you learned from the desert?

Family Friendly Events In and Around Scottsdale {August 2020}

Happy August, Scottsdale Moms!  It’s back to school time and although it looks different and probably not in the way we hoped, it will be nice to give some routine for kiddos.  In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as our state works diligently on getting those statistics down, many of the events are either canceled or have moved to a virtual arena.  Many of our Scottsdale families are continuing to make the choice to stay close to home and in their bubble. As the hot temperatures continue to loom over us, it’s just too darn hot to be outside for too long. We continue to turn to our local businesses to provide some virtual entertainment and resources to keep us occupied.  The Phoenix Zoo is still offering it’s Cruise the Zoo program.  This month’s calendar remains to be a work in progress and we will continue to update it as we learn about different events. Stay safe, Scottsdale Moms! Let’s get those kids set up for success as they head back to school and let us encourage you that you are not in this alone, and even in times of uncertainty and stress, the time to be with our family truly is a blessing. Remember to find ways to relax and spend time together to connect and grow.  That’s when the best memories are made. 

Are there any events that we haven’t covered or do you know of a future family friendly event our community should know about? Feel free to submit your event HERE

august eventsInterested in writing for Scottsdale Moms Blog? Get in touch with us HERE

 


Aug
1
Pop Up Events
Pop Up Events will show “Shrek”, the widely praised animated film catering to both adults and children on Saturday, August 1.
Aug
3
The Great Flossini Virtual Magic Show
As part of their Back to School Virtual Oral Health Program presented by Delta Dental of AZ Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is brin...
Aug
4
Building Blocks Preschool Virtual Open House
Attend an upcoming open house to learn more about Building Blocks Preschool! We will cover everything from our daily schedule to before and after scho...
Aug
4
Building Blocks Preschool Virtual Open House
Attend an upcoming open house to learn more about Building Blocks Preschool! We will cover everything from our daily schedule to before and after scho...
Aug
6
Cruise the Zoo
See the Zoo like never before. Due to overwhelming requests by our members and the community, we have added more dates for Cruise the Zoo! We have enj...
Aug
7
Cruise the Zoo
See the Zoo like never before. Due to overwhelming requests by our members and the community, we have added more dates for Cruise the Zoo! We have enj...
Aug
8
Cruise the Zoo
See the Zoo like never before. Due to overwhelming requests by our members and the community, we have added more dates for Cruise the Zoo! We have enj...
Aug
9
Cruise the Zoo
See the Zoo like never before. Due to overwhelming requests by our members and the community, we have added more dates for Cruise the Zoo! We have enj...
Aug
10
Cruise the Zoo
See the Zoo like never before. Due to overwhelming requests by our members and the community, we have added more dates for Cruise the Zoo! We have enj...
Aug
10
The Great Flossini Virtual Magic Show
As part of their Back to School Virtual Oral Health Program presented by Delta Dental of AZ Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is brin...
Aug
22
Pop Up Events
Pop Up Events will show “Ghostbusters”, the critically acclaimed film that blended comedy, action and horror on Saturday, August 22.

Do you follow us on Instagram?  Find us at @scottsdalemoms for inspo, news, connection, more local events as we hear of them, and of course follow our contributors in the stories. 

Have you joined one of our community groups yet?  

We have two Facebook groups for Scottsdale moms to connect, support and encourage each other. Join a group based on what part of Scottsdale you’re in, North or South. Visit the links below and request to join today! Please feel free to share any events you are aware of that other local mamas should know about, too.  

SMB Community & Connection {North Scottsdale}

SMB Community & Connection {South Scottsdale}

*For information on how to be a sponsor for Scottsdale Moms’ Monthly Guide to Family Friendly Events, please email [email protected] 

5 Reasons to See a Fertility Specialist, Even Without Obvious Fertility Issues

Two years ago we lost our precious second born in the womb. This left me with so many questions and a complete distrust of the current medical system. I went to fetal specialists and genetics counselors only to find that no one had any real answers. I knew I didn’t feel like I could trust myself with another pregnancy without finding out what really went wrong with my last one. So I sought a local fertility doctor, also known as a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Since then, I’ve realized that you don’t need to have an infertility issue to benefit from seeing an RE. 

They Can Help After a Miscarriage

If you have experienced baby loss in the first or early second trimester and your OB has given you the green light to try again, but you still feel off, you may want to think again. An RE can help you figure out why you experienced a miscarriage in the first place and set you on a plan towards a healthy and successful pregnancy. Don’t wait to have experienced more than one loss. 

They Can Help After a Stillbirth

After my stillborn baby, all the doctors reassured me that I could try again in as little as three-six months. They reassured me by stating that you are not more likely to have a miscarriage after such a loss and that the chances of another stillbirth would also be very low. Nothing to worry about apparently. I still didn’t feel right, however, and my RE found that I did have reason to worry. He found I had a defective MTFHR gene, a hidden immunity issue and a blood clotting problem that greatly contributed to my adverse pregnancy outcome. He also currently has me on a regiment to get to a healthier state and eventually reach my pregnancy goals. 

They Can Help You Reach Your Pregnancy Goals

My first pregnancy was a dream of health, zero morning sickness and absolute bliss. My first born was absolutely perfect and he is now a healthy and happy 4yr old. I got pregnant right away and my second pregnancy happened without the slightest delay or effort two years later. I never considered myself a person with infertility issues. But now that I know what an RE can do for me, I so wish I had gone to him even before trying to conceive my first child. He could have helped me find my maternal health vulnerabilities and risks before ever trying to conceive. He could have helped me reach my pregnancy goals with knowledge on my side.

fertilityThey Can Look Into Hubby

I use to have this idea that fertility doctors were all about women and our fertility issues. However, an RE will often also thoroughly examine hubby to rule out any issues that may stem from him. If you have any reason to believe that hubby may benefit from a visit to the RE, don’t be shy. It is something they do for couples all the time. 

They Have Tools & Tricks

If you feel like you have tried it all and there’s no hope for you, don’t despair just yet. I was like you and just about to throw in the towel when all the ‘experts’ seemed to think I was perfectly healthy, yet I knew in my gut that I wasn’t. My RE knew exactly what to look for and just when I felt like I was a lost cause, he turned it all around with his bag of tricks. From using my 23me results to running a battery of tests, he was able to treat me as a whole body of functioning parts and didn’t make me feel like there was something wrong with me. I would call him a ‘functional medical practitioner’ and I am so happy that I landed in his care. I would highly recommend anyone serious about reaching pregnancy goals to seek the advice of an RE especially my own at IVF Phoenix, Dr. Couvaras. Read more about my TTC journey here

This is based on my experiences and of course is not meant to replace or serve as medical advice, but only my opinions. As always, discuss your personal situation with your doctors. 

Treasure the Now: 3 Steps to Make the Most of the Little Years

I don’t have time to hold your guinea pig. Are you ever in the middle of a text, a deadline, the end of a compelling movie or on the back deck eating the last chocolate cookie and here they come: “Hey mom, what are you doing?”

“Check out my new skateboard trick outside.”
“Can you really dig to China from the back yard?”
“Can we buy a dog?”
“I didn’t want a brother, can we send baby Liam back?”

On average, moms are asked approximately 300 questions a day by their young children. It’s madness.

Our brains are like rogue GPS systems that are constantly recalculating.

Instead of trucking down the highway to our destination, our GPS (kid’s questions) are recalculating us down bumpy dirt roads, weird side streets and behind an iffy 711. All these questions are enough to make a grown man cry, and yet here we are, standing in front of humans under 3′ 2″ with endless energy and questions for days.

We can choose to swoosh them away, while reading a compelling news story, as they offer you the first guinea pig hug of the day. Instead, you never look up, just mumbling: uh huh, ok, see you later and then, just like that, they’re gone.

You just turned down the first guinea pig hug of the day. What’s wrong with you?
I get it. You need to work, cook dinner, do laundry, meet deadlines. Your list is long, as you try to out race the clock.

But what are your actions telling the kids? What or who is more important? The end of a movie, a funny meme to a friend?

treasure the nowThat’s what the pause button on the remote is for. The social media story is not going anywhere and like death and taxes, dishes will be with you always. The kids will not. Let that sink in. The jelly print on the window will fade away, the need for Cheerios that seemed to fill every crevice in the mini van, gone. You won’t always be their go-to person, so embrace the moments.

3 Ways to Treasure the Now

1. Write it Down
Document moments on the computer or in a journal. Record their little voices. Savor all the curious questions, the funny way they said certain words. Keep their hand written notes or at least scan them digitally for posterity’s sake. It’s said that we remember 20% of our stories. Memories create legacy. Write it down, mama.

2. Unplug the Gadgets
Look into their little eyeballs and be attentive. Listen to their little voice. Embrace the inquisitiveness. Give Oreo, the Guinea Pig, your attention. In doing so, you’re telling little Jack and Isabell they matter, they’re important, they’re a priority.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty
Do all the things. Kids want to go biking, hiking, swinging, swimming, eating, talking. Jump in there and do the things. Be active! These are the moments, the ooey gooey goodness of life. They’ll remember the time you spent with them. So get in there and get those hands dirty and make those memories.

Seize the moments, make the memories and do all the things. Life is fleeting. What examples can you share with us, that made an impact on how you treasure the now?

The Best Homeschool Curriculum

As a community, many of us are wondering what the best path forward for school is next year. We wanted to put together a resource for you from recommendations within the community. I have never considered homeschooling my children, and I was overwhelmed with the answers I found when I googled ‘best homeschool curriculum’. 

We are fortunate to have an incredibly active, knowledgeable, and generous homeschool community, right here in Scottsdale. Within minutes of putting the question out on facebook, families were ready to jump in and help me sort the myriad of choices before me. 

From Kelly Lippert (Scottsdale Moms Contributor Alumni): “Homeschooling has been a lifestyle change that was exactly what our family needed. It is not always easy, but I look at any challenge that comes as an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with my children and a more efficient household. I am constantly working to understand them more. It also allows for incredible flexibility, deep friendships, and lots of creativity!”

Homeschool Curriculum:

 

Microschool:

Elementary School Only: 

HomIndividual Subject Resources:

*These resources may have all subjects, but these subjects were specifically recommended.

State Regulations:

As I’ve learned and searched over the past few weeks, I’ve been introduced to friends on this journey who will be honest with you. They have walked the path of homeschooling and they will tell you the hard, and the beautiful. They will be honest with you about the learning curve during the first year as your family shifts into a different rhythm. 

Find someone you connect with that has gone before you and can offer you wisdom. Make sure they are someone who doesn’t shy away from telling you the hard parts. They will be the biggest encouragers in those moments when you want to throw in the towel. 

Here are a few that I personally know, and some that others have recommended for your journey:

Influencers:

Please let us know in the comments if you have any curriculum or influencers to add! 

Be sure to read these articles by our contributors as well:

Homeschooling during the Covid 19 Quarantine

Homeschooling fears debunked

Scottsdale Homeschooling Information

The Best Year to Celebrate National Coloring Book Day!

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August 2nd marks National Coloring Book Day and let me tell you, 2020 is the best year to celebrate this holiday. “Why?” you ask.

Did you know that adult coloring has the same effects on a person as meditation? Mindfulness is an awareness that emerges through purposefully paying attention in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Have you ever sat down to color with your kiddos and just felt calm and peaceful? It’s because unbeknownst to you, you were practicing mindfulness. Letting your mind just focus so intently on what you were doing in that moment. And who couldn’t use extra opportunities to feel calm and peaceful these days? 

The mindful meditation community is aware of the need for calm and peace and has created a whole world of adult coloring books! You don’t have to steal your kiddo’s Troll’s coloring book. You can have something that is just for mom. In fact, you can even have your own coloring pencils that are just yours. I am giving you permission to not share. I have my own set of special pencils and markers high up in my closet that my kids know are just for mommy. I keep them nice, don’t intentionally break them or press too hard with the markers! (Do you feel me on that one?!)

As we approach the impending start of social distancing school, this might be a great time to work on feelings on anxiety and depression by coloring with your children. Maybe while they are sitting on their zoom calls or while trying to work on homework. Give yourself permission to actively practice mindfulness with coloring. 

Some of my favorites are any of Johanna Basford books. The Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Books are beautiful to look at and I almost don’t want to color in them. But I do! Also, one of the first forms of adult coloring is mandala coloring. These are circular or circular in nature, symmetrical designs. These are usually very intricate as well and really force you to concentrate and be present. Any of these choices can be found easily on Amazon or Barnes and Noble curbside pickup if you feel inspired to get started now. 

Share some of your coloring creations on instagram and tag me @sarahbaummft in them!

 

Being Your Child’s Advocate: Choosing Advocacy over Anger

I’d like to believe that we’ve all advocated for something or for someone at some point in our lives. As children, maybe we stood up for ourselves or someone else. Maybe we’ve supported a good cause, or perhaps we’ve never found ourselves passionate enough about anything that we’ve felt the need to advocate. I mean REALLY ADVOCATE with our whole heart and mind. But as parents, I doubt that is true. Special needs or not, you are your child’s best advocate.
 
I have always avoided confrontation or any kind of heated discourse. I’ve been told to grow a thicker skin, toughen up, and don’t cry so easily because no one takes you seriously if you cry when you’re advocating. Believe me, I’ve wished that I could be angry without becoming overwhelmed with emotion. I even deferred entrance to law school because I was afraid of being on the defense. I’ve never been a fan of argument or antagonism even if my heart of hearts knew that something was very wrong.

advocate for our childrenWhat is worth fighting for?

Sure, I’ve raised money for different causes and foundations near and dear to my heart.  But, I did not know what it meant to “STAND UP” for something until our son, Dominic, was born. At just 10 days old, we were told that we could expect him to never walk, talk, eat on his own, and to expect him to be deaf, blind, and likely in a vegetative state most of his life because his brain injury was so severe. My husband wanted to punch the doctors. But, what did I do? I cried. I cried over and over. Ugly cries. Silent cries. Hopeless cries. Angry cries. Guilt-laden cries. Sad cries. Desperate cries.
 
7 years later and the words of those doctors, nurses, and therapists still strike a chord and are on repeat, WORD FOR WORD, in my head. Acronyms and really long diagnoses that I never want to hear again, but will never forget, still sting. I still cry, but not as ugly and not as angry or sad. My son has had little voice of his own, so my cries have turned in to words of advocacy.
 
I’m still learning just the right ways to advocate — whether it be at school, in doctor’s offices, or within our community. I get nervous and emotional, and I don’t always find the right words. And yes, I still sometimes let out a good cry afterwards. But, I’ve learned that advocating for my son does not have to be ugly nor does it have to be heated. It does not have to bring me to a place of defense or anger, although I’d be lying if I said that it never did. And, I’m hopeful it gets easier over time.

How do you choose to advocate?

I don’t like challenging someone and would prefer to not make it personal. But let’s be real here, sometimes all it takes is to ask What would you want for your child?” A perfect example occurred last week when Dominic’s seizure medication was auto-shipped from our mail order pharmacy. It sat in the blazing hot metal parcel mailbox and was so hot to the touch that I could not even pick up the bottles out of the box. I spent 45-minutes speaking with customer service and the pharmacist who read every disclosure and safety/packaging instructions indicating that the medication was safe up to 122 degrees. I was further quoted the ridiculous cash price so that I could refill the prescription at our cost if I chose to do so.
 
Anger was building up inside me. I was ready to wave the white flag and give in. Thankfully, I was put on hold for a good amount of time, and I armed myself with information on how high temperatures can rise when it’s already 114 degrees outside and a medication is sitting inside a metal box. I finally asked with a shaky voice, “Would you give this seizure medication to YOUR child? And are you suggesting that I take the chance?”  SILENCE.

You Know Your Child Best

I spent 45 minutes in a conversation that I will never get back nor do I feel should have had to happen in the first place. But most importantly, I had peace of mind that I did the right thing. I don’t want to be seen as “that mom,” the antagonistic one. But, I also know that my child’s safety will not be compromised nor will his future be dimmed by a diagnosis. Sure, it can be exhausting, but we are our children’s advocates. We are the voice for our children whether they have their own voice or not. I wish all situations involving our children had positive results. I’m aware that policies and procedures are in place for a reason. But there is no other reason than “No one knows my child better than me” that is more powerful when advocating for our children.

Do the Hard Things

The other day I told my husband that in the future I think I’ll look back on this current season of life as my favorite—this season of staying home with my babies. He looked at me surprised, and said, “But you’re always talking about how hard it is.” My first thought is that I probably needed a little attitude adjustment if that’s his impression. But second, it made me realize that hard things are often the best things, and there’s probably a life lesson in there I should share with my kids—and with you!

In today’s culture of immediate gratification and technological ease, we—I—don’t always see the value or benefit of just plain hard work. We want the work we put in now to yield results right away, and if they don’t, we—I—tend to give up or feel frustrated. This is something the millennial generation in particular has gotten a bad rap for, but there’s probably some truth in it for all of us.

I want to make sure my kids know that hard is not bad and that hard can lead to good, and often does. There are different kinds of hard and life is full of them, so we need to be prepared and not surprised when they come.

There’s good old-fashioned hard work that we use when we’re committing ourselves to a task—any task—whether it’s succeeding in school, learning a new skill, investing in a relationship, or doing physical labor. The best things in life usually come if we’ve worked hard for them. If we do the work, without the hard, we miss out on the fruit of those efforts. Hard work pays off. It’s an old and simple adage, but it will always hold up.

There’s also hard that comes with being a human on planet earth. The hard that we simply have to endure. The surprising things that every one of us will face that show up unexpectedly and deal us an unwelcome hand. Illness, loss, addiction, failure… We will all face something that will cause us to look up one day and think, “I never thought my life would look like this.” These are times when hard can either sink us or strengthen us. In these times I’ll share with my kiddos a Trusted Source that tells us this kind of hard “produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Three years into this parenting gig and I already see my inclinations to shelter my kids from all the hard. “No honey, our dog went to live on a farm.” “Ok, I’ll pick up the blocks for you—again.” “No biggie, you can just wear diapers forever.” It’s a small scale right now, but these are the hard things they need to learn, and it’s my hard to teach them. The issues will certainly get tougher from here, and if I want my kids to wear hard well, I need to wear it well myself.

So the lesson? Do the hard things. Work hard and it will pay off. Persevere through the harder stuff and you’ll be refined. Hard happens and how we respond reflects our character.

And now, to go out on a lighter note, cue Kelly Clarkson.

Sorry, just had to.

The Appliance that Changed My life

instant pot

My sister turned me on to Instant Pot several years ago. She had purchased one to give away as a Christmas gift, but ended up keeping it. 24 hours later I received a phone call telling me I had to order one of these amazing appliances right away. People always ask its worth buying one, and if I really use it, so I came up with a list of ways that my Instant Pot has changed my life:

It saves me time

The fastest way I know to cook a tender, juicy chicken breast is to throw it in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes. Still frozen, make it 20. While that cooks I can make a side dish, and heat up some veggies. Dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes. Pro tip: Cover the chicken in salsa before cooking, throw it on top of a bowl of lettuce, and you have an easy, flavorful salad.

Keeps the kitchen cool

Arizonians know that summer cooking means making meals that don’t heat up the house. With my instant pot, I can cook a meal without turning on my oven, stove, or having to go outside and fire up the grill.

Cuts down on prep time

I like to stock my fridge with meals that I can cook in advance, and serve during the week. On Sundays I hard-boil a dozen eggs (that jump out of their shells when I peel them), a whole chicken, chicken stock, and rice. The eggs are great for a quick breakfast. The chicken and rice becomes the base for several meals, and making my own chicken stock saves me a trip to the store.

It helps me try new things

The instruction manual has a list of cooking times for all types of foods, which has encouraged me to try new vegetables. I can cook butternut or spaghetti squash in 6 minutes. The Instant Pot also steams veggies in just a few minutes. I like to make pureed veggie soups by throwing veggies in, covering in chicken stock, and pureeing with my stick blender when they are cooked through.

It takes the place of several appliances

Since the instant pot has 6 or 7 different functions, it can help streamline your kitchen. I got rid of my crockpot and steamer once I realized this machine could do both. It also cooks rice, which has helped me to get dinner together quickly more then once.

This post was in no way sponsored by Instant Pot. I’m just a local mom who loves to share kitchen tools I love with the rest of our community.

What are your favorite ways to use the Instant Pot??

Search for Instant Pot Recipes here!

Perfect Day for a Getaway: Escape to Crescent Moon Ranch

After months of closures and slow re-openings, my mom lifer, Jennie, suggested we throw our boys in the car and escape Phoenix in search of the perfect day away. Our boys were long over due for a play date in nature and we moms were also due for our own play date. It had been some time since we had a mom face-to-face, and just good girlfriend time.

Jennie told me about this amazing place outside of Sedona where our boys could swim and explore. Of course, I was all in for a new adventure. We did what we always do as moms…we over packed the snacks and brought all the changes of clothes and headed up north. After two hours of replaying “Who let the Dogs Out” and every Guns-N-Roses song (can you tell which era the dads are from?), we arrived at The Crescent Moon Ranch.  

Crescent Moon Ranch was settled in the late 1800’s and changed hands multiple times over the years. It was known for its cattle ranching and fruit trees. However, it’s last purchase was by the U.S. Forest Service in order to preserve the integrity of the ranch. It still has beautiful open pastures with lush forestry along the banks of Oak Creek. It has many hiking trails and remains one of the most photographed areas in Sedona.

When we arrived, we were met by the friendliest parking attendant. It is $11 per carload for a day pass and parking is limited so it is highly recommended getting there early (hours are 8am-8pm). There are restrooms and picnic areas right outside the parking lot, but no restrooms once you get to the creek which is a ten minute walk from car.

Once we arrived at the creek, we were under the canopy of such lush forestry which provided the necessary shade for our day. Many people were already set up at the opening of the creek entrance, so we traveled down stream and found the perfect spot that had a little waterfall and lots of shallow water for our kids to play and swim. 

During our stay we hunted for shells, tried catching minnows, and chased dragonflies. The kids took few breaks to snack because they were just having such a blast in the perfectly refreshing water. They literally soaked up every second of our five hour stay.

Words cannot capture the stunning beauty of Cathedral Rock as the background while the birds serenade you for hours on end. With cooler temperatures and fresh water, it really does make for a perfect getaway.

My recommendations for anyone who has not been here would be the following:

  • Wear water shoes because the creek is rocky.
  • If you have a wagon to pull your items, bring one. Your arms will thank you.
  • Bring little nets to catch minnows.
  • Floats or noodles would add extra fun.

All in all, the boys would say this was the most EPIC and perfect day. We saw people of all ages enjoying this getaway. If you are looking for a day with friends or family, I highly recommend the drive up north for this incredible experience.

5 Ways to Build Your Relationship with Your Kids

If living through a pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that family is everything. During normal times, it’s easy to get caught up in the grind of rushing out the door in the morning, coming home after school, rushing through homework and to extra curricular activities, eating dinner, and heading to bed. Living life on fast forward like that can make relationships suffer. If you’re wishing you knew how to build your relationship with your kids, here are a few ideas.

Media-Free Time

It’s easy to get distracted when your phone is constantly buzzing. Try turning off all electronics during a certain time of day. If this is too scary, start small – maybe 15 minutes – and then work toward a longer time without media. This means hiding your phone, turning off the tv, and connecting with each other. 

Play Together

Whether this means building a block tower with your toddler or creating fashion vlogs with your tween, find a way to connect with your kids on their level. If you aren’t sure how, watch what they do when you aren’t around and ask if you can join them.

Set Aside One-on-One Time

Whether you have multiple kids, or you and your spouse are always together, setting side time to be with your child one-on-one can build your relationship instantly. This could be as simple as reading a book together or something more elaborate like hiking a difficult mountain. Working together to complete a challenge is an easy way to strengthen a relationship.

If your child resists your suggestion, ask what they’d like to do. Part of the fun could be planning an adventure together.

Build Your Relationship by Working Out Emotions

If your child feels like they’re always your last priority at the end of a busy day, they could have a lot of built up resentment. One way to build your relationship is by working out emotions and sharing when feelings get hurt.

Young kids respond well to using dolls or stuffed animals to talk through tough situations. Older kids might prefer to write you a letter, rather than saying what’s bothering them to your face.

Although confrontation can be uncomfortable, working out emotions is a sure way to let your child know how much they mean to you. It’s also a great opportunity for you to help teach them to talk through issues as they come up, problem solve, and compromise.

Share Peaks and Valleys

When you ask someone how they’re doing, most likely they’ll say “good.” The same is true for kids. If you ask them how their day was, you’ll likely hear a “good” or “fine” response.

Try implementing “Peaks and Valleys” to connect with your child on a deeper level. You could have this conversation during the drive home from work and school or during dinner. Take turns sharing your “peaks” (highlights of the day) and “valleys” (challenges or disappointments of the day). 

Building Your Relationship Takes Time

Just because you’ve decided you want to build your relationship, doesn’t mean it’ll be easy right away. It takes time to strengthen connections. Have patience, adjust, and keep trying.

Makeup Junkies Rejoice! Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Makeup junkies rejoice! Coupon Chief rounded up tons of ways to get free makeup samples, plus ways to DIY your own spa day when you’re at home! 

Sephora Tricks 

When shopping at Sephora, there are plenty of insider tricks to remember! Whether you’re shopping online or in store, keep these hacks in mind when searching for your next beauty favorite. 

  • Ask for free samples. Get up to three free samples per “world,” makeup, skincare, and fragrances. Just ask a Sephora employee to get you a sample! 
  • Get a free makeover at the makeover counter. You can get a free, fifteen-minute makeover at any Sephora! You can get a free smokey eye, foundation application, false eyelashes, and more. 
  • Use Sephora’s Beauty Offers. Search Sephora’s online hub of deals and freebies. You may get lucky enough to find complimentary gifts to full-size freebies. 
  • Order online to get freebies. Every online order comes with your choice of two free samples. Previous samples included things like Urban Decay’s Staya Naked Liquid Foundation and even a Giorgio Armani lipstick!  
  • Sign up for the Beauty Insider Rewards program. You can redeem points for freebies, access to special sales, and even an end-of-year credit to apply to purchases. You can also get a free birthday gift during your birthday month! 

ULTA Tricks 

ULTA has its fair share of secret hacks and tricks to help you find makeup freebies. Check a few of them out below. 

  • Leverage online offers. ULTA has a Buy More Save More section with hundreds of deals and offers. 
  • Join their rewards program, Ultamate Rewards. It’s free to join and gives you the chance to collect and redeem points on every single purchase, whether it’s in store or online. Just be sure to mention that you’d like to redeem points if you’re shopping in store. Cashiers won’t ask you and don’t apply points unless you bring it up! 
  • Subscribe to ULTA’s email list. They’re always sending out special coupons, discount codes, free product samples, and more. 
  • Shop the 21 Days of Beauty sale. This huge sale happens twice a year and features incredible discounts on even the most expensive of brands. The sale happens every fall and spring and is the perfect opportunity to stock up on your favorites. 
  • Scour the clearance shelves in store. Marked down products displayed on these shelves could be up to 90 percent off and are usually marked with a yellow or red sticker. Be sure to look for the yellow stickers, as these are the best deals in store! 

DIY Hacks

If you’re more of a “do it yourself” kind of person, these tricks are for you. From homemade highlighters to DIY hair masks, these easy recipes will help you save money while having fun making your own products! 

Graphic courtesy of couponchief.com

 

Top Ten Arizona Day Trips

You’ve probably heard of a “staycation” – a vacation within driving distance of your home that doesn’t require a hotel stay. Whether you’re short on vacation days, trying to build up your savings account, or simply don’t want the hassle of flying or staying in a hotel with young children, an Arizona day trip can give you the change of pace you’ve been dreaming about.

arizona day trips

If you’re tired of the hot Arizona summer and need a change of scenery, it may be time to plan your staycation. Here are a few of my family’s favorite Arizona day trips:

  1. Tonto Natural Bridge & Waterfall – Though the hike is steep and strenuous, it’s worth the breathtaking views at the bottom! Check out their website for trail closures, weather predictions, and more information before you leave home.
  2. Rock Springs Cafe – Pie. Enough said. If you like pie, it’s worth the drive.
  3. Out of Africa Wildlife Park – Camp Verde can be pretty hot in the summer, but there probably won’t be a crowd. If you get there early and head straight to the safari ride, the weather isn’t too bad. Plan to pack lots of water and sunscreen. My family likes to go here and take advantage of their birthday special during one of our birthday months.
  4. Sedona – Check the weather before you leave home if you’re hoping to hike – summer days can reach the mid-90’s. A lot of families enjoy Slide Rock during the summer – be careful though, my family now calls it “slippery rock.” If you’d rather stay inside, head downtown where there’s tons of shopping and dining. You can’t beat the views.
  5. Bearizona Wildlife Park – Whether you drive your own car or ride their bus, it’s pretty spectacular to see bears and other animals in their natural habitats. They also have lots of exhibits you can walk through and shows throughout the day. Check out their website to see the daily schedule before you leave home. The average temperature in the summer is in the 80s.
  6. Grand Canyon Skywalk & Trails – People travel from around the world to see the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking to make your day trip extra special, consider checking out the Skywalk and surrounding area, including Native American dancers and a traditional Native American village.
  7. Tombstone – Although it reaches the 90s in the peak of the summer, Tombstone is worth the visit. If it gets too hot, you can always stop at the local ice cream shop downtown. Plus, imagine how Wyatt Earp felt without air conditioning or a car! If you’re looking for an old Western town, you’ve found it here.

If you’d rather stay in the valley, here are a few indoor activities that are so fun you’ll feel like you’re on vacation:

  1. Lego Discovery Center – The first time my family visited, we really did feel like we were on vacation. They have two rides, a 4D movie, Miniland, a climbing play area, and tons of free build areas. Take some of the fun home and buy a souvenir in the gift shop, conveniently located on your way out. For just a few more dollars, you can add on a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. Round out your Arizona day trip with a super themed meal at Rain Forest Cafe.
  2. OdySea Aquarium – Whether your kids are interested in fish or sharks or sloths, there’s something for everyone at OdySea. Highlights include the OdySea Voyager, touch pools, and so much more. My daughter would play for hours in their Kid’s Cove which includes a giant Light Bright, animated coloring station, interactive water table, and floor projector gaming area.
  3. Butterfly Wonderland – While this is the largest butterfly gallery in the country, it offers so much more than just butterflies. You could spend most of the day here by watching their 3D movie, feeding koi fish, and searching for caterpillars and butterflies. After that, enjoy some rainforest reptiles and even feed the sharks and stingrays! Depending on the day you visit, they may even have story time for your preschooler.

What’s your family’s favorite Arizona day trip?

The Benefits of Letting Your Kids Be Bored

That universal whine of childhood: “I’m bored.”

As parents, we’ve all heard it countless times, and have all struggled with how to respond. Handing your kid some kind of screen is so tempting, with its almost magical ability to quiet them down instantly and keep them entertained for long periods of time. But we know that too much screen time isn’t healthy, and that ever-present technology is creating kids who are constantly engaged and lacking in creative imagination. What will be the implications of this in another decade or two?

benefits of boredom

When I think back to my own childhood, my favorite activities to do at home were both born out of boredom. As the youngest child of five, I was lucky enough to experience quite a bit of “benign neglect.” T.V. hours were limited, and I’d search the house for items like buttons, scraps of fabric, beads, and magazine ads. With paper, scissors and glue always available, I’d create textured landscapes and houses and animals with my finds, in addition to spending hours building intricate towns out of colored, wooden blocks. My love of crafting and design is still strong today, and I wonder if either would exist had iPads and smartphones been around back in the day.

Psychologists know that there are benefits of boredom: it helps kids become creative, fosters problem solving, and encourages independent thought, along with developing decision-making skills. Learning to battle boredom and discovering ways to occupy unstructured time is a vital life skill. The reality is that feeling bored is a fact of life, and we need to help our kids learn to deal with that fact.

How can we do that? One way is to remind your kids that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable emotions, and to be bored now and then. The next time they complain about feeling bored, share with them that it’s an opportunity to turn their attention to their own thoughts and feelings.
Encourage them to just get comfortable and to do some brain activities, like quietly counting, making lists or singing songs in their head. Offer some jumping-off ideas for them to try out, like writing a letter to a relative, starting a gratitude list, organizing their drawers or closet by colors, having a dance party, playing with a pet, or learning how to do a new chore.

Sometimes just simply saying, “I know your imagination will help you come up with something” is all they need to hear to realize that they do have the ability to deal with boredom.

Parents, we need this reminder that our job is not to constantly ensure that our kids are having fun or are engaged in a structured activity. Creativity and original thought blossom out of boredom. Consider gifting your kids with a little more benign neglect from here on out.

Midi Bites – the Perfect on the go Snack

This post has been sponsored by Midi Bites. All opinions are my own.

Midi Bites - the perfect on the go snack

This has been the summer of trying new things! Why not?! We have the time and any new food or experience has been exciting and fun to do. Midi Bites are a new addition to our snack rotation! We have been trying to go up north and do as much hiking and outdoor exploring as possible, while practicing physical distancing. This means, no gas station stops and no last minute drive thru for us. I’ve tried to be more intentional about packing our snacks and planning for no stops if possible.

We aren’t rushing around and we have plenty of time to set up cute taste tests and official scoring cards. I’ve learned more about why my little ones will and will not eat during this time. As soon as I think I have them figured out, they surprise me. We set up a fun little taste test with Midi Bites on the kitchen island and tried each flavor. They loved these little bites of deliciousness! 

For our friends with allergies, these are gluten free, dairy free, and soy free! My favorite is chocolate (big surprise, huh?!) and they also carry Almond and Peanut. Have you tried Midi Bites before? Let me know what your favorite was! 

Midi-Bites Snacks

Pandemic Parenting-Planning for Fall {A Free Webinar for Worried Parents}

Trusting Connections Nanny Agency continues their commitment of supporting families when they need it the most by offering a FREE webinar, “Pandemic Parenting: Planning for Fall” on Thurs., July 9 at 7:00 p.m. They are also excited to announce the development of a new Private Educator Service which will be available for homeschooling or any hybrid approach to distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year.

As the nation continues to struggle with the long-term implications of the COVID-19 crisis and work-life balance forces unprecedented challenges, parents everywhere are increasingly concerned about their options for childcare and sending their children back to a brick-and-mortar school this fall. 

Millions of exhausted parents are presently wading through school district surveys and updates to weigh the potential ‘safe path back to school’ options.  Many parents cannot quit their paying jobs nor do they have the skillset to properly home educate but they face real concerns about either the safety or their alignment with the required protocols of sending their children back on an adjusted school schedule.  Couple these with the concerns of health, physical and mental well-being and the increasing data that reports distance learning did not work for many students this spring and parents everywhere are really struggling. 

“We know that parents are headed into the busy fall season already feeling stressed out,” said Trusting Connections Co-Founder, Rosalind Prather.  “The duality of legitimate needs and concerns for family and societal well-being are in such opposition at the moment that it can be tempting to feel hopeless. We feel a responsibility to partner with parents and offer tactical and timely advice and services as they navigate this time of great instability and uncertainty,” Prather concluded.

In response to these needs Trusting Connections this week opened the ability to register for their live and available on-demand “Pandemic Parenting: Planning for Fall” webinar. Interested families are invited to visit Trustingconnections.com/tcteaches/ and select the “parent” category to register or call 520-544-6612 to learn more.  Every live participant on the webinar will be entered to win a $100 Trusting Connections gift certificate.

Families considering homeschooling their children this fall or who are interested in support with in-home instruction can schedule part-time or occasional help from one of Trusting Connections’ certified teachers through their flex or placement services to hire a Private Educator.  Email [email protected] to learn more.

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Guide To Scottsdale

Family Friendly Events In and Around Scottsdale {August 2020}

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Happy August, Scottsdale Moms!  It's back to school time and although it looks different and probably not in the way we hoped, it will...