🌸 Mother’s Day Thoughts 🌸

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that remind me of my own mother (the sun, sunflowers, the Yankees) and the ways in which she has shaped me – first as a woman, then as a mother. I look back in chagrin during my formative years, when I wanted to be anything and everything BUT my mother. I worry about those days to come with my own two daughters, when they’ll struggle to find their own identities. I wonder when that subtle shift occurred, from “you don’t understand me!” to “hey… maybe you know some things” to “you’re the first person I call when I need to get out of my own head.”

Becoming a mother is an ongoing learning experience filled with lessons big and small. One thing that I’ve learned to be true, is that relationships between mothers and daughters are beautifully, extraordinarily, inexplicably complicated. As daughters, how many times in your life have you said “I sound like my mother!” accompanied with an eye roll. Yet, how many times have you called your mother or reached out to her because you were on a ledge and she was the ONLY person who could help you get out of your own head? Yeah. It’s complicated.

The sun reminds me of my mother. I think it’s because if she’s in your corner, she cheers you on 100%. When my husband and I started dating, she learned that he’s a diehard Jets fan. And so, she too, started cheering for the Jets. She has an innate understanding of what’s important to the people she cares about; and so she celebrates it, big and small. Where the sun shines, love grows.

She sends me random texts, out of the blue, to tell me how she has noticed a positive change in me or something new that I’m trying. When I think no one else can see me, she notices these small things that mean so much.

My mother also suffers from chronic illness that has impacted her physically, mentally, and emotionally. When my babies were newborns and I was a sleep-deprived, everything-deprived zombie, I know I fell short in patience with her. Sometimes, I still do. But then I remember, she has genuine intentions of wanting to help me and my family. Like any mother, I can be particular about care for my girls or certain things in my home. She truly respects this, and works hard to maintain the order and routine I’ve established in our household. As a working mother who travels for her job, I appreciate this so much because of the peace of mind this effort provides when I’m away from home.

Recently, my cousin’s wife suffered the loss of her own mother. In the weeks before she passed, my cousin’s wife was at her side, taking care of her. She started a group text with me and my mom, communicating with us if she was having a difficult moment or not quite sure what to do. What I witnessed in this chain of texts was nothing short of an extraordinary act of human kindness and compassion. Most of the time, I found myself fumbling for words because all I could think of were the cliches found in greeting cards. But my mother responded with thoughts and paragraphs that simply amazed me. This is where my mom shines, in providing comfort and thoughtfulness when it’s needed the most. I was truly astounded by her ability to help my cousin’s wife through what is probably the most difficult time of her life. She just knew what to say, providing a light in the darkest moments of grief.

I am proud, and filled with gratitude, that this is my mother’s greatest gift. It’s not necessarily in the things she does, but in the way she makes people feel. I am fortunate to be her daughter, and to be a person she loves. Because where the sun shines, love grows.

By Courtney Spiak

 

Happy Mother’s Day to All!

CLICK HERE for a list of locations offering Mother’s Day Brunch (Phoenix, AZ area)

 

Thinking of a move?  Here’s a great new listing in a popular area of the East Valley (Phoenix AZ, area).  CLICK HERE for details.

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My Delicious but Low Sugar Holiday Treats for Kids!

Most Holidays bring with them a deluge of sugary treats. While most treats can be enjoyed in moderation it can be difficult to not over indulge. So I thought I would put together some Tips for having a delicious and fun Holiday without the high refined sugar overload.

Christmas Cookies!
Making cookies for the Holidays is a big tradition in many households. There are plenty of options that are refined white sugar free. Here are some delicious recipes that I found on Pinterest but there are countless others if you just do a quick search. Santa will thank you as he works late into the night!

Two Ingredient Cookies Plus Mix-ins

Sugarless Low Calorie Sugar Cookies

Cinnimon Maple Meringues

Coconut Almond Cookies

Vermont Maple No-Bake Cookies

 

Christmas Stockings!
Stockings can be a big refined white sugar source. If your child is already used to getting candy in their stocking and you don’t want to eliminate it cold turkey I recommend putting in one or two candy treats but then filling the rest with small toys and activities. The Dollar Tree is a great source of inexpensive kids items as well as stockings themselves, if you don’t already have one. They have puzzles, race cars, stickers, craft items, nail polish, you name it. Just try to avoid the candy isle…

Don’t forget the Pie!
My go to pie recipes are Apple and Blueberry. And both can be done without too much added sugar. I feel that fruit pies don’t need very much extra sugar as the cooked fruit already has a ton of delicious natural sweetness of its own. My favorite apple pie recipe is by Chef Chloe which you can find here. Her recipe does call for refined white sugar but you could easily reduce the amount or substitute it with Agave or any favorite sugar substitute. And as for the blueberry pie I found this recipe that I altered, instead of using ¾ cup of granulated sugar I use ¼ cup of agave syrup. Its delicious and goes great with vanilla ice cream and to keep the sugar down you could make “nice”cream using frozen bananas, vanilla, maple or agave syrup and almond milk blended until smooth.

Apple Pie tip: Make sure you peel all of your apples, it plays a big role in the final texture of the pie.

Blueberry Pie Tip: The above recipe calls for 5 cups of fresh blueberries setting aside 2 cups. 3 cups are cooked down and then at the end you add the final 2 cups of fresh blueberries which gives a nice burst of fresh flavor with each bite. Fresh blueberries can be a bit pricey so what I do is I buy a big bag of frozen blueberries and use 3 cups frozen for cooking and then just buy two cups of fresh blueberries to help reduce the cost.

Apple and Blueberry Pie Tip: You can make your own crust from scratch, buy store bought that is ready to go into your pie dish or if you don’t have a pie dish they also have crusts that are already in a disposable dish ready to bake.

I hope you like these tips and I hope they help you to get through the Holidays a little healthier but still keeping it delicious. For more refined white sugar free recipes head over to my Blog at PineappleAspirations.com.

by: Crystal Koel

SPend Christmas in an awesome new home like this 5 bedroom / 3 bath with pool in tempe! 
This and more at EvoAZ.com
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Kid Friendly Holiday Craft by Banks Craft Co ☃️

Need a cute, kiddo friendly craft to keep your littles occupied and in the holiday spirit?  Here’s are a few awesome craft ideas brought to you by Banks Craft Co! 

Hand/footprint Wreath Supplies:

Square canvas
2 different green acrylic paint colors
Red acrylic paint
Letter stickers or marker to write on the canvas
Ribbon

STEPS:

Draw a circle with pencil. You can use a bowl of any kind to get that perfect circle.

Start handprints with one color green. Going around the circle but leaving enough room for the other color green (see image).

Next start the other color green. You can do all hands or all feet or a combo of both. Since we did 2 kids we did the younger ones feet & the older kid hands.

Add red paint circles for the “berries”. You can use a finger or pencil end.

Once dry you can add your stencil letters.

Using a hot glue gun, glue the ribbon to the canvas and enjoy!

“Let it snow” Snowman supplies:

Any size canvas
Any color finger paint
White, black and orange acrylic paint
Stencil letters

STEPS:
Let the kids finger paint the background!

Once dry apply white paint to the bottom of your kiddos foot and make footprints.

Add the snowman details with a small paint brush.

Add stencil letters.


Reindeer and/or Christmas Tree supplies:

Any size canvas depending on if you want to do both or just one design

Green, red, brown, yellow, black acrylic paint

Letter stickers

STEPS:
Using footprints arrange the desired design on the canvas.

Once dry add the details to the design you choose.

Apply stickers.

We hope you enjoy making these cute crafts with your little ones.  Keep an eye on our page, at Banks Craft Co, for more kid friendly and MOMs night out crafts!

 

LOVE AZ and want to start building your investment portfolio?  Good idea.  Call Katie with Team EvoAZ at 480-250-0023 as ask how YOU can get started.

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Escape the Phoenix heat to Mount Ord!

Mount Ord

Escape 105 degrees to 80 degrees in 90 min. Mount Ord is a great destination to not only escape the heat but also to enjoy the beauty nature offers ascending from 1086ft to 7129ft above sea level. With young kids this trip is great because it’s not an entire day in the car and they will easily sleep on the way home.

Facts:

1. MAP –  All wheel drive recommended

This is a fire road that is regularly maintained. This mountain is above 7000ft and the weather/conditions can change very quickly. I have seen AWD mini vans at the summit in dry conditions. I have driven it in heavy rain/snow and the road can get very muddy and a little scary even in our Jeep.

Here’s the  moderate / experienced 4×4 route

2. Hiking is available at the summit and along the fire road. The decommissioned fire tower at the top is about a 1/2 mile hike from the locked gate.

3. Picnic areas do exist. Nothing formal but there is space to set up camping chairs and tables.

4. Camping is also available!

Our experience:

We have been visiting Mount Ord since our son was 3 years old. We usually depart our home here in the Valley around 8am and arrive at the top around 9:30am. When parked at the top, there is a spot just over the gate and to the left with an old tree that gives nice shade and a perfect place to set up a picnic. We usually go up with friends and our German Shepherd so the kids can play and we can enjoy the views at 75-80 degrees. Once noon comes it does heat up and can quickly get to mid to high 90s.

We quickly discovered this was a great spot to snow chase!

One Saturday this past winter, we noticed the weather in this area supported snow fall. We are both from New England and miss the snow at time so we felt drawn to go explore. We piled into the jeep, brought warm clothes and ascended.

It had rained a lot in the area so the ground was soft with lots of mud. It was hairy on a few occasions as the mud was deep and slick at some ridge points.

It was so cool to cross the elevation point where snow was accumulating.  As we continued, so did the accumulated amount. At the top there was 2-3” of fresh snow. Our kiddo loved it. We made a small snow man and threw snow balls but quickly ended up back in the jeep as it was a bit windy, wet and cold.

It was an amazing experience all packed into 4 hours and then, in 90 mins, we were back in the sunshine!

 

Matt Lambert is a local Realtor, super Dad and lover of the great outdoors. Find out more about Matt at EvoAZ.com.

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Ten Ways to Make 2018’s Valentine’s Day Unique

Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Any holiday that centers around that much love and glitter… it can be a lot even for those of us in relationships. But there is always a way to make a holiday your own – and Valentine’s Day is no exception!

We’ve compiled a few ideas for both low-key and actual outings, so no matter if you’re coupled up, on your own, or with the entire family, you can celebrate the day of love your way!

Re-create your first date

Revisit the first restaurant that brought you together or recreate the first cocktails you shared. Nostalgia can be awfully romantic… Have the kid’s hanging around? Bring them along to really create that stark reality of what was 😉

 

Chocolate Wasted

Fun for the whole family, the Glendale Chocolate Affaire is the weekend before Valentine’s Day. Learn more about the event here. 

 

Have breakfast in bed

Warning: Yours may not look like this.

This is a luxury that shouldn’t be reserved for weekends away. Get up early, either together or with the kids, whip up something delicious, and then settle back in for a cozy morning meal together.

 

Create a photo book together

There is just something so special about having your photographs in print, yet it is so common for our photos to get lost in the cloud these days. Using apps and websites like 

Artifact Uprising or Chatbooks is quick and easy with beautiful results. Plus, what’s not to love about the chance to cuddle up and reminisce on your visual love diary provided by your camera roll?

 

Love Yourself

Who?? Yes, you! Don’t forget to love yourself on Valentine’s! Whether that means treating yourself to a manicure, sitting in the car listening to music in the driveway (we’re digging this Spotify playlist!), or a week-long getaway (take us with you?) – whatever it may be, make sure to schedule in some time for you!

 

Workout Together

A couple that sweats together, stays together! Pick a new trail to hike or a group class to attend. Bonus…you get to clean up together afterwards. 😉

 

Celebrate AZ Cocktail Week

 It can’t be a coincidence that AZ cocktail week takes place February 17th to 19th. Hello, post-Valentine’s date night! See who is participating: https://arizonacocktailweek.com/

 

Bake something heart-shaped

This one’s for kids and adults alike. Pizza, cookies, pancakes, sandwiches…food is more fun when it’s shaped like a heart. <3

 

Letters of Appreciation

Take the hallmark out of Valentine’s by adding your own significance. Have the kids and your sig other create letters of appreciations for whoever in their lives. It’s a nice teachable moment that includes limited glitter!

 

Hold a family craft night

 Nothing like glue and glitter to strengthen family bonds. No matter your kids’ ages and the kind of project you’re after, there is a Valentine’s Day DIY for you. This Pinterest board has all the ideas to craft to your heart’s content. 

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The MOMnation Guide to Getting in the Holiday Spirit

As we roll into December, there’s no avoiding that the holiday season is in full swing. So, if you’ve found yourself mesmerized by a twerking Santa in a random aisle in Walgreens, pondering how to bring holiday cheer to your loved ones, we’ve got you covered.

MOMnation scanned the globe (and even our AZ neighborhoods) and came up with some endearing, some unique, and some straight weird ways that families around the world get into the spirit.

Which one of these traditions are you going to adopt?

KFC Christmas

Thanks to a wildly popular advertising campaign in the 70s, Japanese families flock to KFC for dinner on Christmas Eve. The “Christmas chicken” bucket has become so popular that people order their bucket months in advance.

Bake & Bond

Whether or not you eat sweets during the holidays, baking is one of the best ways to bond with your littles and earn bestie status with the neighborhood mom stroller strides group. We’ve noticed that the traditional and iconic gingerbread cookies have taken a back seat to a slew of witty concoctions fed to us through Pinterest- (that never REALLY turn out like the pictures #MomFail)

One recipe that has been a consistent hit during the snowy season and has found its way as a ‘go to” staple is ::drumroll please:: “reindeer droppings. “ Yes, you read that right, as if us mom’s need another reason to say the word poop. Thanks to Google, there are many different, simple and inexpensive recipes that can fit your family’s dietary needs. Therefore, you have no excuse not to start this easy tradition with your family. ::YAY::

 

“Different” Versions of Santa

Not everyone in Europe subscribes to our American idea of Santa Claus. In Italy, Italian children await the arrival of Befana, a friendly witch who delivers presents because she feels guilty for missing the birth of Jesus – due to too much housework. We can relate.

Our personal favorite is the Catalan Christmas tradition of the Tió de Nadal (or Caga Tió) – the pooping log. First, a log is hollowed out and a smiley face and red floppy hat are added. Catalonian families begin “feeding” him small treats on December 8. On Christmas Day, the log is placed in the fireplace and beat with sticks until he, well, poops out candies, fruits and nuts. Bonus – there’s a song to go with the beating.

Poop log,

Poop nougats,
Hazelnuts and mató cheese,

If you don’t poop well,

I’ll hit you with a stick,

Poop log!

The end of the defecation session is signaled by a salted herring or an onion. Once everyone in the family has collected their gifts from Tió de Nadal, he is burned for warmth. Gracias, Caga Tió.

Non-Pinterest White Elephant

Surely, in one of your social circles you’ve heard of White Elephant. If you haven’t, this holiday tradition is an inexpensive, gutsy way of getting rid of something that collects dust in your house (Score!). Families who plan gift-giving parties together will select a “white elephant” gift from their own house to give as a present- whether grandma’s old rabbit embroidered pillow that needs a new home or a dead houseplant, these exchanges are fun and corky- not the new iPhone X- like one would hope. White Elephant is becoming a staple tradition in most homes across North America. If you decide to play the White Elephant game with your family, there are also different versions of this tradition such as “only homemade DIY items” or “something from inside your own home”- clarify with your crew so everyone’s on the same page!

 

Holiday Runs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, holidays aren’t JUST about gaining weight. This holiday tradition is actually festive and healthy. We’ve all heard of our cities having ‘color runs’ right? Well, the new tradition for your holiday season and for families across the states are organized ‘Santa Run’s’ or ‘Reindeer romps’. Clever titles will give you a sense of accomplishment and brings awareness to specified charities. Dress up as Santa, put bells on, hey, we’ve even seen someone dressed up as their best representation of a menorah. We especially love when strollers cruise by with sporting reindeer being pushed to the finish line. What’s better than communities coming together to spread holiday cheer with positive results?! Now, if we only could find our running shoes. 

 

Elf on the Shelf

Please tell me you bought one of these behavioral tools? We have parent’s waiting for December 1st so that their children’s “friend” can come out of hiding. Why, you ask? Well these clever additions to your family are designed to help “watch” your littles behavior in order to calm meltdowns and improve listening. We know what you’re thinking, how did this become a holiday tradition? Well, these gimmicks play a magical roll in not only our children’s lives but our lives as well! Santa’s ‘Scout Elf’ has enough Christmas magic to fly to the North Pole every night and report to Santa whether your children have been naughty or nice. After their nightly report, the ‘Scout Elf’ flies back to your home and relocates in a different spot.  Children love waking up to find the elf and hopefully* (major asterisk on that one) are better behaved while they know the elf is watching. 

Garbage Party …?

If you’re looking for ways to get your kids to do more chores, introduce them to this tradition from Guatemala. 

Guatemalan families collect garbage and sweep out their houses every year before Christmas, with each neighborhood creating a large pile. They then place an effigy of the devil on top and burn it. With the scent of burning garbage in the air, Christmas celebrations can commence.

 

 

 

..Just ask your neighbors first, okay?

 

All in all, holiday traditions are about having FUN and creating lasting memories with family and friends. Does your family have any fun/odd/awesome traditions for the holidays? We would love to hear your favorites and where they originated. And if you decide to have a pooping log this year, we want to see photos. And videos.

Merry Christmas, all!

 

Get yourself a stunning new home for Christmas! Check out this Queen Creek home we adore:

Learn more by clicking here.

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Arizona Holiday Family Resources

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. The holiday season can be a difficult and stressful time for many, especially those families who are struggling financially.

MOMNation is built on the premise of helping other Moms through fostering a true digital and real-life community. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of websites and physical locations throughout Arizona where you and your family can find the assistance you need – and a little holiday cheer.

211arizona.org

From essentials like food, clothing and housing to disability and veteran services, 211Arizona is an excellent resource for all human services. If you are looking for help regarding domestic violence, mental health support, employment services, or programs for veterans or those with disabilities, this site can point you in the right direction.

Needhelppayingbills.com

As the name suggests, this site is a one-stop shop for all things financial. Here you can find information on charity organizations and assistance programs that provide struggling families help with paying bills and taxes, mortgages, and debts.

Homelessshelterdirectory.org

Not only does this site include a nationwide directory that provides an extensive list of homeless shelters, soup kitchens and food banks by state, it also has an excellent directory of other resources.

2hands.org

With 2Hands, you can post about a specific need directly on the website, and if someone in their growing group of nationwide members can help you, you are connected through the website. By connecting individuals in need with those who have the means to help, this assistance platform allows people to help others on a very personal level. No Grinches here!

Turnanewleaf.org

A New Leaf provides a broad spectrum of services for individuals and families alike. Not only can they help to support your family’s basic immediate needs, they can counsel you on critical lifelong skills like budgeting, career programs and housing assistance.

Foodpantries.org

If you’re struggling to put food on the table, visit foodpantries.org. With nearly 300 food pantries in Arizona alone, this site is an excellent resource to locate local food banks and soup kitchens, as well as subsidized groceries. While food pantries can help you any time of year, the holiday season sees an increase in donations. Their directory can help you find free or subsidized food in your area.

Salvationarmyphoenix.org/locations

One of the most well known organizations, the Salvation Army really ramps up their services during the holidays. With locations all over the Valley, you can look to the Salvation Army to provide youth and senior programs, homeless assistance, and worship services. During December, kids under 12 are eligible for the Christmas Angel program, so no child should go without the joy of a new toy on Christmas.

Phoenix Children’s Project Christmas Assistance

We all want our children to experience the joy and wonder of Christmas. This program helps children living below the poverty level in Phoenix get toys, home-baked treats, shoes, clothes and other essentials.

For more information, you can call 602-955-2228

East Valley Arizona Food Banks

We’ve compiled this list of food banks throughout Arizona for those in need to utilize year-round.

Arizona Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides food to people experiencing homelessness, low-income senior citizens, families and individuals, year-round  There is no fee to receive emergency food assistance. For more information, visit them online or call: 855-432-7587

There’s no need to be ashamed if you need to reach out for help – at any time. The end of the year and the holidays that come with it can be overwhelming. But if you are in need of a miracle this holiday season, there’s a sleigh full of resources we hope you can take advantage of! And as always, reach out directly to MOMNation to receive support and guidance from your local community of MOMs.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!!
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Our Top Egg Hunt and Easter Festivities for 2017!

Local Easter Egg Hunts:

4/13: MOMnation members only Easter Egg Hunt and Park Play Date hosted by Ashley in South Gilbert!

4/13: Tiny Tots Egg Hunt in Downtown Mesa!  The event takes place on Main Street from Center to Country Club.

4/15: City of Chandler Family Easter Celebration at Snedigar Sportsplex! 

4/15: FREE Easter Spring event at Little Einstein Preschool! Bounce house, cookie decorations, crafts, games and an Easter egg hunts for all ages!!

4/15: Easter Egg-sperience at Vertuccio Farms!  You will enjoy pictures with the Easter Bunny, animals to pet, face painters, a train ride, an egg hunt with over 12,000 eggs and a pancake breakfast!

4/15: Enchanted Island Amusement Park in Phoenix is hosting a FREE Easter Egg hunt ages 1 to 10!

4/15: Easter Egg-Citement at Schnepf Farms!  The Egg hunt begins promptly at 11am.

4/15: Easter EGG-stravaganza @ The Wigwam in Litchfield Park! 

4/15: Dolly Sanchez Memorial Easter Egg Hunt at the Peoria Sports Complex. 

Visit the Great Lawn at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for special hourly Easter egg hunts and “Bunnyland”!  The entire family will have a day filled with games, rides and live entertainment.

 

Awesome Local Easter Brunch Locations:

Grand Easter Brunch in the Palomino Ballroom at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Original Breakfast House in Phoenix – The Easter menu is served from 6:30am to 2pm

The Farm at South Mountain – Must make reservations 

SanTan Brewing Co. in Chandler is hosting a Sunday Brunch Buffet in their private Brewers Reserve 

Rustlers Rooste in Phoenix – Must make reservations

Easter Brunch at the Wigwam in Litchfield Park

 


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MOM nation Serves the Community this Holiday Season 🎄

“I never imagined we’d impact this many.  My heart swells with excitement and gratitude each and every time we come together and even more so when it’s to serve the needs of others in the communities that we raise our children in.” says Katie Lambert, Founder of MOM nation.

Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday the group participated in the 5k Turkey Trot in Gilbert, AZ.  The proceeds from the event were to benefit various children’s charities.

The group coordinates a monthly outdoor movie in downtown Mesa AZ that they call Movies on Main.  In November the donation drive was for dog food donated to local shelters.  In December the donation drive was for baked goods for Veterans in need.  The event is free to get in, open to the public, and provides safe, kid friendly entertainment to the community while benefitting many local small business owners and various local charities with donation drives.

To kick off the spirit of giving, the group participated in Operation Christmas Child 2017.   “20 of our beautiful Mama’s came together with their families to fill 100 shoe boxes with donated Christmas gifts for children to be delivered throughout the holiday season.” says Lambert. 

This past week MOM nation partnered with sponsors (Banks Craft Company and Team Evolution Real Estate) to provide a free and very festive holiday craft table for kids at the weekly Farmers Market in Downtown Chandler.  Next month at the market in Chandler, the group will be collecting donated items for local pet shelters and will be providing information on pet adoptions.  Roxy and the Loan Dog might even make an appearance!

On December 18th, Santa, Shondi Zwaschka,  Krista Puruhito and Katie Lambert will be delivering the gifts from the Adopt a Family drive.  The group donated gifts and will be providing a Christmas for 5 families.

In February of 2017 the group plans to participate in the Team Bradley Bear 5k.  This charity event is near and dear to one of the groups beloved members.

The Moms of MOM nation are incredibly passionate about uplifting and supporting each other and creating a positive impact to the members of the community.  For more details on our community efforts, click HERE to contact us.

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Want to Start a Holiday Tradition this year? Here are our AZ Faves!

Holiday traditions make the moments so much more memorable!  Our AZ Moms love these:

“Every year we watch movies in our christmas pajamas around the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve.  Some of our favorites are White Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch (1960’s version), and Elf.”

“We go to Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo.”

“Our Christmas PJ and Smores Party is a  Christmas movie on the lawn with hot chocolate and smores.  Everyone that attends brings a toy or a canned food item to donate to a local charity.”

“We do Elf on the shelf.  The weather is so amazing in Phoenix that sometimes the Elf appears out on the patio.”

“We pick a family that we know is struggling and we leave gifts on their doorstep “ding-dong-ditch” style.  It’s fun and rewarding.”

“I do a cookie baking marathon a week before Christmas. I love making cookie trays for our friends!”

“We make dinner and then we grab the stroller and the baby and find neighborhoods with awesome christmas lights to walk through.” (Some MOM nation recommended locations here: Tour of Christmas Lights)

“For Christmas we go to the Mesa LDS Temple on Main just East of Mesa Dr. to see their spectacular Christmas lights! We usually get hot coco or chocolate milk to drink as we walk around!”

“The weather is always perfect so we eat outside and play backyard games every year.”

“We always make more food than we know we will eat and pack up the leftovers to pass out to those in need in our area of Mesa.”

“We LOVE the Mesa Arts Center and the entire family always gets together there for a holiday show.”

“We sing christmas carols and deliver homemade cookies to our neighbors!”

“We have an ugly sweater party every year and make it an outdoor chili cook-off.”

 

Photo donated by Nicole – Visit Nicole’s Website

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