🌸 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.

Handling Tough Topics and the big Sleepover Question🌛

It seems like once your kiddo reaches a certain age, sleepover birthday parties and invites just start appearing in school folders.  This is a topic that is an absolute “no” for some families and a common event for others.  Navigating this can be really difficult – especially among close kid-or-mom-friends.

How do you tactfully handle tough topics with your kids’ friends or their parents?  There is no guarantee feelings won’t be hurt or offense won’t be taken but I am a big fan of honesty and having really clear expectations within your house before you communicate to others so everyone in the family is on the same page and knows expectations.  This avoids upset kids when the answer is no.

In our house we generally don’t do sleepovers and our kids know that and are ok with it.  They know why and they respect that decision.  There are a (very) few exceptions: cousins, grandparents, and friends whose families we are very familiar and have spent a lot of time with.  Statistics say that most kids that face abuse or unfathomable acts… they happen with people they know, so that is a really scary fact to overcome when considering how/when/if to allow your child to stay at another family’s house.

We have been in the situation where our kid was the only one not to participate in a sleepover.  Kiddo was ok with that because we had communicated it early on and long before the party that we just don’t do them with families we don’t know.  Our compromise was to let them stay for the movie and pick them up late, but we stuck with our rule.  There were absolutely no hurt feelings from our kiddo because the expectations were set before.  The child’s parent was a little upset that we were the only ones to not participate, but I was very upfront that it was our family rule and she respected that.  I didn’t try to make excuses for why she couldn’t stay so there wouldn’t be hurt feelings if she did do a sleepover with a cousin or something and it was discussed at school later.

There are lots of tough issues that families all handle differently – tech access, alcohol, curfews, guns in the home, supervision, where kids can go alone, etc.  The absolute only way to address any of these is to be upfront and get to know your kids’ friends’ parents.  It is worth making the effort and taking the time.  You don’t have to be best friends with them, but knowing them well enough to ask questions or share your concerns is important.  And in the reverse, do not be offended if someone asks you about these things in your home when their child comes over.  Every family is different, and asking “Are there guns in the home?” is not a statement but a completely reasonable and responsible question if you are going to be allowing your kid to go to a stranger’s house or someone else’s kid in your home.

I used to get so bent out of shape when parents brought up uncomfortable issues, but now that I have two kiddos, I truly appreciate when someone is brave enough to raise tough topics in an honest and respectful way.  Just like dealing with kids’ allergies – it would be irresponsible for the parent NOT to let you know or ask what you are having for dinner, and you wouldn’t be offended if they do.  We all need to extend grace, as we are all figuring this parenting thing out as we go and navigating some really tough issues in the process and a world that is more connected and immediate by the second.

Far more important than talking to friends’ parents… Katey McPherson in her talks always encourages parents to go with the rule of 5. Five years before your child is faced with a tough topic/issue (sex, drugs, guns, porn) you should be talking to them in an age appropriate way about your family’s values and empowering them with responses and ways to address if ever in an uncomfortable situation.  The absolute BEST protection against any bad influences or things happening to your child is their own self-confidence, their trust that you will NOT freak out if they ask for help in a tough situation, and that they are empowered to handle and stick up for themselves when they feel uncomfortable – and know how to seek help when they need it.

Many of our worst fears as parents are unfounded.  We spend weeks or years fretting over all the wrong things, while the opportunity to empower our kids with all the tools they need to extract themselves from the “worst” or make safe decisions, or get help in a crisis, is readily available EVERY day.  It is the BEST thing we can do.  We have the opportunity seeing things at school, on TV, in the news to raise tough topics and issues.  It is tough because the issues are serious, but it is necessary.  Don’t wait for someone else to teach your child about these things, do it long before they are ever faced with having to think, answer, respond about them.

And when faced with a tough issue you don’t know how to approach, ask for help.  I make a point to seek counsel from my spouse, closest girlfriends, and sometimes even other parents (who don’t know the family involved) when I am unsure of how to handle a tough situation.  Sometimes it’s good to get wise counsel before approaching another parent about an issue, because the emotions involved often cloud our better judgement, or we might be missing a perspective we haven’t thought about before.  I learn from my mom friends every day, and they are often the greatest source of counsel when dealing with a tough school or kid issue.  Lean on your village!

In summary – in approaching tough topics with your kids or other parents:

  1. Do it sooner rather than later.
  2. Be honest, don’t hide things or lie about the reasons – be up front with your kids and other mom friends when there is a concern or boundary you have.
  3. Respect mom friends who are brave enough to ask tough questions.
  4. Seek counsel from other moms or friends, while honoring relationships/privacy of those involved.
  5. Have clear expectations with your kids on tough topics: sit down and agree on these together, make sure they know your WHY. Do not spring a rule on your kids when they are invited to a party or have to respond publicly to something.
  6. Empower kids early and often with responses to tough questions, make sure they know they own their voice, their body, and the right to say no and exit ANY uncomfortable situation.
  7. Make sure your kid knows they can call you anytime for help or intervention. This doesn’t mean they need to have a phone but they do need to know how to call you and have a # memorized.
  8. If a parent is not respectful of your family’s boundaries/rules/wishes after you have been up front, or worse – singles out your kid because of it – it’s time to consider if that is a friend you want to nurture or you want your child to nurture. Often it is worth discussing and navigating even if awkward.
  9. Extend grace, every family is different and that is what makes friendships wonderful – we learn a lot from each other in the best relationships and in the different perspectives we bring to the table.

MOMnation is such an incredible resource on all these fronts, bringing a diverse group of women together to ask the tough questions, seek counsel, vent, navigate parenting, life, work, relationships alongside an incredible village!  Lean on your friends here, too!

BY: LIZ D, TEMPE MOM

 

CHECK OUT THIS EXQUISITE CRAFTSMAN BUNGALOW home for sale!

Right around the time when Arizona adopted our state flag and just before the spanish flu hit, this exquisite craftsman bungalow, The John and Eva Cummard House in Mesa, was built for the family that kept it in some fashion for the next 100 years.

 

 

 

 

Traveling with Kids: Part II – How to Pack & Arrive Sane

Vacations bring visions of beaches, breezes, reclining, and reading those books or magazines you just haven’t gotten to yet.  Vacations with kids are often not at all as the brochure advertised.   There is no brochure for a trip filled with barf, missing baggage, or panic over where the favorite toy has disappeared! But these are the realities sometimes traveling with kids.

We traveled on over 100 flights with our first kiddo – for work and for family trips – and many since adding to the family.  We recently took an overseas trip with 20 people, including 10 children – many were teens and two toddlers.  I have learned A LOT along the way and I’ve shared this with many friends traveling with their kiddos over the years.  Travel with kids seems overwhelming, but the ability to expose your children to new places, people, experiences, bond with each other, and make memories is absolutely worth it.  If you think back to your childhood, how many memories were made with parents and siblings or extended family road-tripping or somewhere away from home?  These are special times, and you can increase the enjoyment and decrease the stress with a few no-fail tips for every trip.

 

Here are easy action items and suggestions to arrive sane there and back for any trip:

Manage expectations. True in work, life, parenting, coaching – but no more true than on a sweaty tram home to the parking lot after a long day at Disneyland with two over-tired, screaming kiddos and a stranger’s armpit in your face.  Mickey was great but the ride home should have been one of Dante’s Circles. Start the trip with an honest admission that traveling with kids is hard work – away from routines, familiar places and things – naps may not happen on schedule or at all, people may puke, there may be delays.  Start knowing these things may happen and promising to your tribe you will roll through it, don’t hide the fact that traveling has hiccups from your kids. Prepare them for waits and that problems may arise and we all have to be on the same team to get to the fun parts.  It is worth it for lifelong memories, the bonding time, and for the adventure.  I promise you will remember the crazy and fun decades after you have forgotten what spilled apple juice smells on pants after a 5 hour flight.

Make a list. Sit down and talk about the trip, ask for 2 must-dos or three priorities of EACH member of the family. Let them share without comment from others until the list is made. This works for 2 person or 20 person trips.  Often some of the struggles on a trip can be totally avoided when we take time to figure out what matters most to those we are traveling with and plan around those priorities.  This often will reveal if there are unrealistic expectations and help you prioritize your schedule while traveling and make choices on the fly when plans change.  If you are traveling with a large group or small group, schedule it so that individuals or individual families have meals alone or everyone gets some down time EVERY DAY.  This will save your sanity.  And, take the list with you!

Simplify packing: Unless you are going to a third-world country, even overseas there are stores with diapers, wipes, mouthwash, etc. We all pack as if we were going to the deepest backwoods.  Unless you are…. My take after so many trips, and especially now with bag fees nearing what ticket prices used to be, is to pack only what you need for the trip there plus a day, in consumable supplies, and plan to stop at (with a family member or in your rental car) a Target or Walmart on your way to your first stop.  If you don’t plan to have transportation, it is hard to find a place that isn’t a block or a $3 Uber away from a Walgreens or grocery.  You will have to buy supplies to replace what you take from home anyway, instead of lugging it all around and paying to do so, get the bulk of what you need where you are going. Diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, even toiletries are all on sale and take coupons in nearly every city in the U.S.  Overseas it is harder, but I managed to find a pharmacy with the same over the counter meds we take at home, for less, and it only took 5 minutes out of my trek, instead of an hour to figure out what to pack and not.  Then, you can also buy that full size shampoo in the brand you’d rather use, or save more room for souveniers.  Pack your own medication, clothes, allergy-sensitive or special products, kids favorite toys (mine each get 2 small ones!), shoes, baby gear* (more on that below).  For clothes, consider doing laundry halfway through the trip (if more than 4-5 days).  Most hotels have laundry machines, some will do your laundry for a fee that is reasonable.  In a pinch, there is always the sink for underwear and small things like bathing suits that get worn over and over.  When we go see family, with their prior permission, we often borrow clothes so we don’t have to take much but shoes, underwear, and pjs.  Sounds crazy, but it has made it so much easier to travel and get through airports with much less stuff, and reduce wait times for baggage.

Carry On EVERYTHING: On all but maybe 10 of those flights… we carried on everything. I know you think I am nuts, but this decreases the time we are in the airport (germs, hassles, lines, stress) by at least two hours every trip, we don’t have to arrive as early and we can go straight to our car/transportation getting off the plane, usually skip baggage claim and bypass everyone waiting.  Even when the baby was little, even when I traveled alone, even when we went on long trips.  We roll our clothes, use space saving bags, and Dad gets the bags, I get the kids.  If I’m traveling alone, I usually identify someone in the security line that looks like a mom, dad, grandma or grandpa and ask for help with my bags getting on the belt or on the plane.  Usually I don’t need help if I have a roller bag and stroller and a backpack.  The stroller carries a LOT and you can bungee a carseat to a roller bag.  Older kids can also take a bag or two.  Our 3 year old did an entire trip recently with no stroller and dragging his own bag.  Mostly because he didn’t want his sister touching his bag, but, you know.  He did it.  I usually try to consolidate the kids into one suitcase for their clothes and the toy they sleep with, we share a suitcase, and then we and they each get a bag they promise to carry (backpack!) with their books/tablet/coloring stickers/snacks for the plane.

Essentials: Your kids are going to be bored once you reach 10,000 feet or 30 miles from home in a car. I promise.  If you are tech free family, all power to you.  Bring thin/light books, a coloring book they haven’t seen, crayons (plan to lose some on the floor at landing), snacks like granola bars, fruit leather/snacks, pouches if you are brave.  Window clings and those wixisticks are for whatever reason at least 15 minutes of fun.  Stickers/sticker books.  If you are a tech family, PRELOAD and don’t expect working wifi, most won’t stream video.  Make sure the tablet/phone has games and at least one movie that will work if there is no WIFI.  Plan to pay for wifi.  Southwest has a lot of free video content if you just connect to their WIFI.  And, plane trays and seat pockets are dirtier than most public restroom toilets.  I always – ALWAYS – wipe the entire tray, armrest, window down with a Wet One.  I don’t mind looking like the crazy mom if my kid avoids Influenza A the first two days into our Disney vacation.

Baby Gear: I may not offer a popular opinion here, but we found most of the baby gear (we tried A LOT and regret it) to be totally useless. Under 3 (probably 4) a stroller is essential.  Beware if you take your nice one…. When you gate check it, it will come off the plane with something bent or broken, possibly beyond repair.  Happened every flight.  We finally bought a $20 travel system on Craigslist, Evenflo, that lasted us through two years of travel.  It was a lightweight seat/car seat too, and worked great, had a big basket.  Graco’s wheels are too big for security belts at TSA… and will lead you to screenings you don’t want.  An umbrella stroller is better than no stroller, you can hang stuff on it.  Bring your booster seat (they can’t use these on the plane if no back).  And for a car seat between bucket and booster, we got a Cosco (not Costco) Scenera for $30 we use for any travel or we used to borrow one from a friend.  We now have an extra to loan to friends. TAKE YOUR CAR SEAT if you can.  Kids under 3 will often sleep if in a seat, and if not, they want to get down which is often not possible.  If kiddo is under two and you didn’t buy a seat and you are on any airline but especially Southwest, ask if it’s a full flight – really full – and bring it on anyway.  9/10 times we choose the last row, and no one wants to sit by two people and a baby.  If there was a seat, we got the open one and if not, they will gate check your seat (bring a bag even a garbage bag or sports bag to put it in).  Get tags for your bag and stroller BEFORE boarding is called.  Baby seats MUST go in a window seat. So consider that when booking, it is an FAA regulation for safety and non-negotiable.  Don’t pay for seats, they must seat a parent with a child and a baby in a window.  So unless you want to be sure you all sit in a row, you do not have to pay ahead for seat selection.  With the four of us we usually take two seat in two rows.  When you buckle a baby seat in make sure the buckle is facing away from the seat or into a space you can lift to release it.  We once had our seat stuck on a plane for a bit because we had buckled it facing the hard side of the seat and could not lift the tab to unbuckle it.  Ask for an extender if you need it.  And check to see where the buckle lies, in case kiddo is sitting on it.  Often there is nothing you can do but you can pad it with a diaper.  Take a bag that is a tote, zippered, on the top so you can reach into it easily while seated.  Or a backpack with easy front pockets.  I pre-filled bottles with toddler formula and breastmilk, so all I had to do was add water or open them.  TSA will likely screen breastmilk and bottles.  It’s annoying.  Be prepared to have to go to a different area with all your junk and have them swab them.  Buy water for bottles past security don’t take it through, even though it’s allowed, they are usually difficult about it.

Transportation: Car rentals are cheapest in the US usually weekend day to weekend day, weekdays are more. I like carrrentals.com the best. Go there, check the price, then check the cheapest company’s price on their website.  We have found more and more that Uber and Lyft are cheaper in most places (even Hawaii and overseas) than renting or even than some public transportation.  Obviously, be cautious and you must feel comfortable using these services.  We would send screenshots of the driver and car to whomever wasn’t riding with us for safety.  I even do this now in the US when I use it locally.  If you decide to venture into public transportation, ask for help from your hotel/someone that works at the train station, especially if you are in an unfamiliar place, before you set foot on the bus/train.  TRUST ME it will save you a lot of time and headache, and scary experiences.

Other People: Do not make gift bags for people flying on your plane with your baby. If you have to fly with a tuna sandwich your neighbor is eating, or their B.O…. you do not need to make apologies for procreating and traveling with your family.  There is a terrible truth in travel that upsets me every time I enter an airport.  Take a 30 something women, do her hair, put her in a suit and people will fall over themselves to help her on a plane or help her with bags. Take the same woman, put her in yoga pants, a shirt with spit up, baby on hip, and give her a stroller and people will literally part waters around her in an airport to avoid helping her.  My family has taken to seeking out moms traveling alone in airports just to offer a hand to get on the plane, or help with gate checking, ANYTHING, after so many terrible experiences seeing how parents are treated.  It is nearly the inverse for fathers traveling…. But that’s a whole other blogpost for another day. 😊 ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT.  From airport gate staff, or friendly-grandparent types.  Usually they are just thrilled to offer help carrying a bag or just helping get situated on a plane.  Obviously do not leave your kid or stuff with them, but they can be a hand to get through security or on the plane.  And OFFER THIS HELP even if it seems weird when you see a parent struggling traveling alone.  That one act of kindness can change an entire day/trip/memory.  Our youngest got seriously hurt when he tripped in the gate area on a trip last year, he cut his lip on the charging station on a seat, and was bleeding profusely, EMS were called and it scared him and us.  We were all shaken, including our older child.  A mother and her son ran to the nearest store, bought each kid a small toy and asked if they could give them to them.  (Don’t assume – ask…)  This distraction of them coming to ask and the toy calmed our son down enough to be examined.  He was fine, we were able to calm down, take a breath, and managed to make the flight.  The whole thing could have been much different and we may have been refused boarding, if he had not been able to stop hyperventilating-crying long enough to be looked at.  He was fine, we were fine, and those two happened to be sitting next to us on the flight.  Both kids – even the little one – made them thank you notes on take off.  Today, it is a sweet memory of the kindness of strangers instead of a traumatic memory.  Be that person.  We try to pay it forward every trip to other families with kiddos.

Drivealogue: If you haven’t seen these cards, they are conversation cards for families, for the car ride home from school, dinner table, etc. THESE ARE AWESOME FOR CAR TRIPS AND PLANE TRIPS and they make them in different age ranges.  Even great for couples!  I have a friend that sells them locally if you want some or you can buy them online.

YOUR TRIP: Finally, these are all musings from my experiences traveling as a mom and in business travel. I am an admitted over-organized, overthinking, germaphobe and plan ahead for even the relaxing trips.  Your style may be totally different (and, frankly, better)!  Set your expectations and then make sure what you do around housing, activities, packing, and schedules on your trip mirrors those must-dos and what you really want to get out of the trip.  There is no wrong way to travel with kids, just easier and harder ways.  Try to do it in the way that mirrors your family’s day-to-day needs and focus on the goal of time together and memories.

 

I wish you an amazing Spring Break whether you are staying home or traveling far, and pray that all your travels are safe and full of less stress and great memories!  If you have questions, feel free to email me or message me.

by: Liz D, Tempe Mom

 

CHECK OUT THIS BEAUTIFUL, BRICK AND HISTORIC HOME IN WOODLEA OF PHOENIX
This and more at EvoAZ.com

 

 

#MOMlife is a Reality 👩‍👧‍👦

MOMnation is more than a village, more than a tribe, it’s a one stop shop for MOMs and it takes a lot of passion, talent and commitment to maintain.  In our new reality show, meet the MOMs that keep it all going and together while doing the same with their families, households and businesses.

Katie, Jessica, Jeni, Emilie and Nicole are founding members.  Catch a sneak peek into the inner operations of the group and the private lives of the MOMs that make it all work in season 1 of Inside MOMnation.

In episode 1, you’ll meet the 5 of us.  Catch an insiders view on our VERY popular signature event, Find your Soul MOM Speed Dating and an insiders view of a day in the life of Nicole as she works the family biz while killing in at #MOMlife…also, her very heartfelt share on her very first son, her rainbow baby.


In episode 2, you’ll get to know Jessica just a little bit better. Jess is the party planner, pro photographer extraordinaire and MOM of 4 that pulls off the most epic, fun parties and events like the Original Find your Soul MOM Speed Dating event and the annual Prom for MOMnation.

Stay tuned for episode 3…

Brought to you by Team EvoAZ at eXp Realty.  Filmed and edited by Brooke Johnson.

MOMnationAZ ROCKS the World kickoff at the Tempe Festival of the Arts 🎨

MOMnationAZ participated in the super popular Tempe Festival of the Arts this past weekend and hundreds of kids flooded the booth to join in the two free art projects provided by awesome volunteers from our awesome local MOMs group

We met thousands of visitors over the weekend and enjoyed booth after booth of local art, live musicians, food trucks and, of course, the fun and interactive booths in the Kids Block.

MOMnationAZ offered free nature crafts and rock painting to kids of all ages along with a goodie bag chock full of freebies, trinkets and toys for the kiddos.

Rock paint artists were free to take their rock home to enjoy forever or were invited to join us at MOMnationAZ Rocks the World, a Facebook group following the travels of our painted rocks.

 

The instructions on the back of each rock read, “Post a pic on MOMnationAZ Rocks the World Facebook page and re-hide”.  If you see one of our rocks during your travels throughout the Valley, take a pic and post it to MOMnationAZ Rocks then re-hide.  Lets see how far these colorful rocks travel!

 

Join us at MOMnationAZ Rocks the World!  Just paint a rock, add the tag on the back, post a pic and hide it! 

Looking for a NEW, gated home in the heart of Gilbert?  This one is highly upgraded and ready for YOU!

Family Friendly Camping in Northern AZ

The idea of camping is vastly different to each of us.  If you have spent time camping as a child, it can have a Christmas/holiday type excitement.  Then, as you start to drift back down from reminiscing, logic and reality spark.  How many diapers do we need?  Did we pack toys?  When should we leave so that nap is not interrupted?  Do we have enough room?  Will we be warm or too cold?  The list goes on…

When camping with kids it’s always easier and more fun to go with other friends who have kids because it takes a village..lol  This will allow the kids to have a blast while entertaining each other, creating memories and exploring nature.  It will also give you the time needed to unplug from the trenches of parenthood and drink a beer with your fellow soldiers.

This was our first camping trip as a family and we decided to rent an RV.   We used RV rental outlet in Mesa AZ.  They were awesome and very easy to deal with.  Most of our friends have pop-up campers.  We realized, after renting an RV, that it’s nice to be able to disconnect from the pop-up and have a vehicle to go into town and or explore some trails.  We later purchased a pop-up because of this and a few other reasons.

Where to go?  Are you trying to escape the heat? It was helpful to check the weather in the area that you are thinking of visiting.

In AZ you usually want to be above 6,000 feet in elevation to get 70/80s when its 105+ in valley.  Most of lower lying areas like Payson and Prescott still hit 100s during the day in the summer.  This can make things the opposite of fun quickly.

We decided to go to a campground, Yavapi Campground to be exact, that requires reservations, has bathrooms, is closer in proximity to town and is 3 hours or less from Phoenix.  Keep in mind that cell service can be non-existent in some of these areas.  If you have a job that requires checking in, this could  make or break your true relaxation.  Research the options for connecting to ensure that you can connect when needed but still enjoy the feeling of being disconnected.   Verizon service was the strongest and existent in many areas while AT&T had no service anywhere at the campground.

When to go?  Make sure to check availability especially if traveling on a holiday.  Campsites fill up quickly and most are reserved for holidays 30+ days in advance.

The drive up to Yavapai was super simple from Phoenix.  Mostly I17.  Consider the traffic going north on Fridays and south on Sundays.  It’s best to hit the road before 3pm or after 6pm.

Yavapai Campground is 10 minutes from downtown Prescott, food & supplies.  It is less than 1.5 miles from Lynx Lake.  It’s within walking distance to the campground but beware, it’s downhill to the lake but uphill all the way back.  It might be best to take the car if you have little littles.

 

The next thing we did was make a “to do” list a few days in advance, listing all supplies from clothes (be sure to include warm clothes for nighttime) to household supplies like dish soap, paper towels and garbage bags.  We planned to make and eat most of our meals at the campground so the list continued with cooking supplies, food, snacks, cookware and storage supplies.  Of course, we could not forget the most important part, S’mores supplies!!  We did work out a “meal share” plan with our friends which basically means each family is in charge of one meal feeding the entire clan.  We each took our turn and it worked out great!

We had a great time and would fully recommend this campground to anyone looking for family friendly Prescott camping areas.

 

 

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

 

Want to live close to the great outdoors but still be close to the freeway system and work?  Located at Val Vista and McKellips, this 4 bedroom home is not only affordable but in a great location, just a quick drive to the lake or mountains!  Details here or call 480-250-0023.

 

 

Lou Learns to Adult: Communication Basics!

Why does Lou need to “learn to adult”?  This sounds like a silly question, and it probably is, but by answering it you’ll get to know more about me, where I’m coming from and why I need to learn how to adult at this age.

I was born a very long time ago in a small town in Ontario, Canada.  My cousin, JP, was my best friend. We were born 40 days apart. He’s older.  We even went to kindergarten together. And then we left that town and my best friend behind because my birth father, or “sperm donor” as I call him, was not a very good person.  My Mom, older sister, younger brother and I moved a province over to a slightly bigger, small town in Manitoba, Canada.

 

I went to a Catholic elementary school for grades 1-6.  I made many good friends and was quite happy. Then my Mom met my Dad (Step Dad technically, but he adopted us and raised us, so he’s my real Dad).  Again, we packed up everything we knew and moved to a city a couple hours away. Keep in mind, computers hadn’t really been invented yet, so I didn’t get to keep in touch with all my friends on social media.  

I had a sister join the family when I was 14 years old.  She will never live down the fact that every time I babysat her, and told her to do something she would utter, “You’re not the boss of me”.  Surprisingly, I still like her.

I struggled starting Middle School in a new city and a new school that happened to be several times bigger than I was used to, and I not so gradually took a wrong turn.  It just got worse in High School. I made bad decisions and ended up dropping out of High School in my last year.

 

 

 

Luckily, a few years later, my Aunt went back to get her GED and I decided to join her.  It turns out that I graduated from the same High School as The Man, in the same year. We just didn’t know each other yet.  My GED classes were at night. And I was “significantly” older.

I got the odd job, mostly retail, and I actually enjoyed working with people.  Even though a healthy portion of them did not play well with others. I had no desire to continue my education formally.  At that moment. I lived with my then boyfriend and our cats. After my seven and a half year relationship ended when I was 25, I kinda crashed for a bit.  But then I started to learn how to be alone, how to do things for myself.

Early the following year, I met my knight in shining armor, The Man, and he wanted to take care of me from our very first date.  I had no problem letting him. It was hard to be an adult and I felt that six months of it was enough for me. We got married a year and a half after meeting (on a date that I had picked out three months after meeting).  I went to college for “Studies in Special Needs Child Care” because I was passionate about those sweet souls. A few months later, The Man got a job offer in Oregon. We had to take the chance for an adventure.

An adventure it was….

I was a “Stay at Home Wife” for the first three years of living in Oregon.  I didn’t have permission from the Government to work. Since it was the Government telling me that, I didn’t want to risk it, so I didn’t really do much work around the house either.  And then I became a “Stay at Home Mom” and had a different excuse to not do much around the house.

Fast forward to twenty-two years later, and I’m wondering why I can’t do much for myself.  This is not to blame The Man at all. He took care of me out of love and I let him out of laziness.    

Maybe there’s something about seeing the big 5-0 looming in the not-so-distant future that makes one think, “What am I doing with my life?”  It could be the fact that the kids are getting older and I want them to do more around the house. Or maybe it’s the constant arguing about someone not being able to rely on the other someone with important matters.  Maybe. We may never know.

Either way, it’s time that I learn how to “adult”.

Let’s start with a topic that is very personal to me.  Talking on the phone. I absolutely hate talking on the phone.  Hate! At one point, the voicemail on my cell phone said, “Hi, it’s Lou.  Are you sure you can’t just text me?” I hate calling my family just as much as I hate calling the IRS.  No offense to them, but my family is crazy.

I think part of the reason is that I have a bad memory, so any time I talk on the phone, there is no record of it that I can refer back to.  Another reason, and one that explains why I like to write instead of talk, is that I can’t think quickly on my feet. I need time to digest what was said to me and how I want to respond.  I need to be able to edit my thoughts, and doing that while on the phone just leaves awkward silences. But, in order to be a grown-up I need to do this, so I will practice. Before I make a call, I’m going to practice what I want to say.  I may even make notes.  

Once you get up the courage to make a call, what are some ways to do it properly?  

For example, if you are calling a business about a job that you just applied for, try this; “Hello, my name is Adam Adult.  I’m calling to speak to the manager about an application I submitted” Sounds way better than, “Ummm, can I, like, talk to the manager”.

Another pointer, that I have to mention to my kids constantly, is how to answer a phone.  Say, “Hello”. Could it get any easier? Even a quick, “Hi” would suffice. Stop picking up the phone (and for those in this century, pressing the button to answer the phone) without saying something!

Next up we should discuss communicating with people face to face.  That tends to happen in real life, too. You need to make a good first impression when meeting someone new.  When speaking with someone in person, do your best to look them in the eye. I know for some people it’s hard to do, but it’ll get easier the more you do it.  Use a firm grip when you’re shaking someone’s hand. There’s nothing worse than limp hand. So gross. And stand up, for Pete’s sake. When they are speaking, listen.  Don’t listen to interrupt and respond. Listen to hear what they’re saying. This actually goes for every time a person is speaking to you. When you’re with someone, a nice thing to do is to ask them questions about themselves.  It’s not all about you. No one wants to sit there and listen to you talking non-stop. Trust me.

Now that you’ve practiced speaking to a real human in real life, the obvious next step is to speak in public.  Yes, in front of a group of real humans.  This is going to take a lot of practice for some people. Some people just have a natural ability to speak in public.  Those people must be wizards. It’s just not normal. But we’re learning.

Step one, and I think the most important, for speaking in public would have to be knowing something.  Please educate yourself on the subject. And then maybe learn a bit more, just to be safe. Practice what you know until you’re confident on the subject matter and what you want to say.

Hooray!  You’ve survived your speech, now what?  I’m sure you’ll be surrounded by many adoring fans.  If you don’t know them, you can introduce yourself. It’s true.  Look ‘em in the eye and say, “Hi, I’m Gloria Grown-up, it’s nice to meet you”.

 

 

 

What happens if you have two people that you know, but they don’t know each other?  Don’t panic! Introduce them. There’s no stopping you now. They say that you’re supposed to speak to the “more important” person first.  So, you’d have to say, “More Important Person, I’d like you to meet Other Person. Other Person, this is More Important Person”. But, that sounds so archaic.  Maybe just pick the person you know the best or have known the longest and do it that way.

Now get out there and be a good grown-up!!  

Learn more about Lou from her blog at LouLearnsToAdult.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Keys to a Relationship that Lasts a Lifetime

We all work hard to find the one.  The person who completes us, then what?  We live happily ever after in a blissful state of union of course.  This is what we’ve learned from fairy tales and Hollywood.  I hate to burst your bubble but life can be messy and even great relationships have challenges at different times.

Whether you’re married or in a long-term relationship how do you ensure your love endures a lifetime?  We have some tips that are essential to maintaining an amazing healthy relationship that stands the test of time.

  1. Get to know yourself. The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.  How can someone else know you if don’t know yourself.  We love personality tests and some of our favorites are below with links to FREE tests.

Enneagram Test has nine different personality types to help you understand yourself better and encourage personal growth.

16 Personalities is based upon Myers-Briggs with 16 personality profiles that provide a description of who you are and why you do things the way you do.

  1. Get to know your partner. We mean really get to know your partner. Their authentic true self. We highly encourage you both to take the personality tests together and compare results.  This makes a great date night too.                                                                   
    Another resource for connection is Intuitive Development.  We’ve taken every class at Intuitive Development and there are two classes we highly recommend.  The first is Understanding Emotional Patterns to learn how to manage conflict resolution by identifying your emotions.  The other is Defining Bottom Lines with an emphasis on how communication is the cornerstone of all successful relationships. You will also identify your bottom lines and determine the most important elements for you in relationship.  Identifying these things for yourself will provide clarity and more stability in your partnership.
  1. What’s your love language? Have you taken the free assessment for The Five Love Languages?  This is based on the book by Gary Chapman. The 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Physical Touch and Quality Time.   Most people enjoy many of these in relationship but we all have a primary love language that fills up the emotional bank account. We are all usually very good at demonstrating our own love language.  For example my love language is Words of Affirmation so I’m usually good at writing love notes, text messages or verbally telling Marty how much he means to me.  Marty’s primary love language is Acts of Service.  So he is always doing things for me like getting me coffee in the morning or calling me on his way home to see if I need anything.  While I love the things he does for me and he appreciates my generous words of how amazing he is, we both long for love to be expressed to us in our Love Language.  With this awareness we are both able to reciprocate in our partner’s primary love language.  This enhances our relationship immensely.
  2. Communication is so important in relationship. In her book, Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson’s work utilizing Emotionally Focused Therapy (“EFT”) talks about how our communication can either push us apart or bring us closer together.  For example, if your partner says you really pissed me off, more than likely this will cause a fight or flight scenario.  It will certainly not bring you closer together.  However, by determining the underlying reason for the anger and then communicating the issue to your partner in a softer more loving way will allow the message to be heard and more receptive.   By digging deeper and working together, we can communicate what really caused the anger that typically has an underlying feeling of hurt and being unlovable.  Sharing these feelings together will likely draw you closer together instead of further apart.
  3. Common Interests are really important. While it’s ok to each have your own activities and hobbies you may do alone or with friends, it’s also imperative to have things you do together.  One of our favorite rituals is reading the daily message in the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.   We also take regular walks or bike rides together in the morning.  Find some regular activities that you enjoy doing together; maybe take a dance class together or our new fave activity, AcroYoga.
  4. Date Nights are imperative and you just can’t have too many. Especially if you’re a parent, it’s vitally important to make time for yourself and as a couple.  Remember to be an example to your children of what a great relationship looks like.  We can’t stress this enough.

We also recommend the 90-Day FFR Challenge.  Plan just one surprise date for your partner once a month for three months.  EFT therapist, Dr. Lisa Gold shared that most of her clients have forgotten how to have fun together.  Having fun connects you as a couple.  You are reminded why you fell in love with your partner all over again.

  1. Gratitude for the little things. We can easily take things for granted that our partner says or does for us.  When Marty started bringing me coffee every morning and turning on my work computer I was smitten.  However, since he’s been doing this for over a year now it’s easy for me to transition this to an expectation that he’ll do this for me every morning rather than a kind gesture. Be sure to acknowledge the things your partner does for you, even if they’ve been doing it for years.  Try to see your love with fresh eyes every day.

While relationships are work they are so rewarding when you are in good one.  Our hope is that you have an amazing relationship that will last a lifetime and that you never settle for one that’s just good enough.

 

Dana Lam, with Fun Fantasy Ritual 
Inspiring Surprise, Adventure and Excitement in Your Relationship

FunFantasyRitual.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Confidence and Dealing with Rejection – Why Modeling is not what it Seems! 📸

The saying goes ‘things aren’t always what they seem’ and the same can be said about modeling and the modeling industry. Primarily the perception is that modeling is glamorous, easy, very well paid, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that models are not exactly known for their grey matter! However, none of that is necessarily the truth. In actual fact modeling, and being in the modeling industry, can teach a ton of great life skills many overlook.

Do you want your kids to understand good hygiene, posture, manners and etiquette? Do you want your kids to learn social and communication skills? How about geography, persistence, delaying gratification or learning how to cope with rejection? And do not forget having a healthy self image, good listening skills, know how to be safe online, consequences of actions, and probably your favorite, the importance of sleep so the kids go to bed early!  Yes… More Than Modeling camps, and the modeling industry, really can teach all of the aforementioned!

Let’s take the emotionally painful issue of rejection. Nobody likes to be rejected or rebuffed, however, rejection is something all children, and adults, need to face numerous times in life. Models deal with rejection (usually of their personal appearance) on an almost daily basis. For every 100 or so jobs they may cast/audition for they may only get booked once or twice. Thus models become adept at dealing with rejection more so than the average person. The principles on how you deal with that rejection are the same for models, and in fact anyone. Children, tweens and teens can sometimes suffer the most with rejection as they are in developmental stages, so the better equipped children become at dealing with rejection, the better their position will be for moving successfully through life.

To help, here are 3 tips on how you can help your child deal with rejection:

  1. Listen to your child when they have encountered a situation where they have been rejected. Give them your full attention and validate their feelings so they feel safe and understood.

  2. Always encourage your child to put more emphasis on their character and the way they handle situations, rather than an actual achievement or result itself. Example: “You worked so very hard for this! Well done!” rather than “I am glad you got straight A’s!”

  3. Encourage them to focus on the future rather than looking back and dwelling on a rejection. A rejection needs to be acknowledged, then put aside, and focus needs to be shifted to the road ahead. Once your child is in this frame of mind have them try again, or trying something else. This will help your child get into a better frame of mind and will also encourage drive, ambition, motivation and concentration.

More Than Modeling is a new business in the Phoenix area teaching modeling classes, but their primary mission is raising confidence in kids. More Than Modelings’ holidays camps teach a variety of essential life lessons transferable to any job and walk of life – merely utilizing modeling and fashion with which to engage the kids.

Erika is the owner, founder and teacher of More Than Modeling. Originally from England Erika left a high school Science teaching position after completing her Master’s degree in Education, to pursue modeling, travelled the world doing so, and upon gaining her USA green card settled in Scottsdale to open her business. Years of international experience as a model, and seeing that industry through an educators eyes, resulted in the formation of camps, workshops and classes where kids think they are learning about modeling but parents know they are learning so much more than that! Erika’s heart and passion lie in equipping children with skills they can use no matter where life may take them and uses the subjects of modeling and fashion to transfer and communicate these skills.  Call 480-442-9833 

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Which Mortgage Loan is Best for Me?

When looking to buy a home, there are a lot of things to consider:  how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, 2-story, 1-story, Pool or no Pool.  Deciding on the best loan program isn’t usually the first thing that is considered, but it’s very important in the home buying process.  Some of the main questions to consider:

  • What programs are available with my credit score?
  • Which program requires the least amount of down payment?
  • What program will give me the lowest payment?
  • Do I have to pay mortgage insurance?

No two home buyers are the same, so the best loan for one buyer is likely unsuitable – or even unavailable – to another.  You’ll want to make sure you find a good loan officer to help you make a final decision.

The main loan programs available are:

  • FHA
  • VA
  • USDA
  • Conventional

FHA Loan:

FHA loans are very popular with First Time Home Buyers.  The popularity is understandable.  With a small down payment requirement, lenient credit score standards, and flexible income guides, the FHA mortgage is making homeownership available to a many people who have been stuck renting for years.  The benefits of an FHA loan:

  • 3.5% down payment required
  • Credit scores as low as a 580
  • Past derogatory debt (like Bankruptcies and Foreclosures) require shorter waiting periods
  • Lenient income qualification
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

VA:

VA loans are for those who served in the military.  VA loans play an important role in helping those who serve and have served to buy a home because no down payment is required.  Other benefits of the VA loan:

  • Mortgage rates are typically lower than Conventional Loans
  • No monthly mortgage insurance required
  • You can reuse your VA loan benefit
  • You don’t have to be a first-time home buyer
  • VA is very lenient on past derogatory credit. You only need to wait two years after a Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, or Short Sale to qualify.
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

USDA

A USDA home loan is a zero-down payment mortgage for eligible rural and suburban homebuyers.  The program is designed to “improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.” Key Benefits of the USDA Loan:

  • No down payment required
  • Low monthly mortgage insurance fees
  • Lenient credit scores and income limits
  • Applicants must meet income limits of the program
  • Buyer must purchase a home within USDA-eligible areas
  • Is insured and guaranteed by the federal government

Conventional Loan

A Conventional mortgage is a home loan that isn’t guaranteed or insurance by the federal government (like FHA, VA, and USDA are).  This program offers flexible down payment options (as little as 3% down) but requires higher credit scores and is stricter on income and past derogatory credit.  It’s a great option for buyers with higher credit scores and larger down payments because rates tend to be lower than and mortgage insurance is cheaper.  Key benefits of a Conventional Loan:

  • Down Payment as low as 3%
  • No upfront mortgage insurance (like FHA, VA, and USDA)
  • No monthly mortgage insurance with 20% down
  • Loan amount up to $453,100
  • Unlike FHA, mortgage insurance is cancelable with 20% equity.

If you have any questions on these loans program, or if you need help determining which option works best for your specific situation, please call, text, or e-mail me anytime.

Senior Mortgage Banker Ryan Gilliam is a lifelong Arizona resident. He attended Dobson High School in Mesa and graduated from Arizona State University with a Business degree. He’s been in the mortgage industry since 2004 and has always been committed to client education and helping them through the entire mortgage process. 

Mobile: 602.614.0740

 

 

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