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

 

 

Traveling With Kids Part 1: Passports

 

Does the thought of traveling with kids give you hives or make you giddy with excitement… for me, it’s a little of both!

There have been many MOMnation posts asking questions about traveling with kids, so we hope to tackle a few of these common questions in the blog!  The first one is asked often: When Do You Need a Passport and Where?  And how do you get one?

Perhaps the best advice I’ve ever heard, from a fellow East Valley Mom, was to not call all trips vacations, even if it is “Spring Break” or “vacation time.” Some trips are just trips…. A lot of packing, travel, effort – worth it, but NOT relaxing.  Some trips are vacations and time to have fun, unwind, relax.  The MOST important thing to enjoy and survive a trip with kiddos is to manage your expectations of what the trip will be.  And…. Plan more vacations and fewer trips!

After over 100 flights with littles, hauling baby gear, breast pumps, strollers, so many security searches, and dealing with sea sickness and kiddo barf in a rental car (longest, smelliest 7 hour drive EVER… ironically – one of the most memorable)!  I can say emphatically, manage expectations and that will make your trip and your kids’ experiences much better.  And, I can’t say this enough, you never EVER have to make “I’m sorry for my toddler” bags for people around you on planes, unless the guy with the tuna sandwich or snapping gum plans to give you one too. Families have a right to travel and fly, and to do it without hassle from other travelers OR mom-guilt.

On to passports: Laws have changed over the years and the enforcement of passport rules can vary by area/checkpoint. But the State Department has clear rules (as do other countries) about what must be presented, and it seems enforcement has gotten more strict at the border since we were kids.  Even if you have heard, my friend said she didn’t have to show her license, even…. last time we went a few years ago, etc. It is always best to recheck both the State Department current guidelines and travel advisories before leaving the country.  It’s also important to note, this advice pertains to short trips, not long stays in countries that may require Visas and other documents.  You should always check the State Department for the specific requirements of the country you are traveling to.

Travel advisories are important as well.  They are advice.  In very few countries does the State Department actually prohibit travel, but you should know before you go.  If there are travel warnings, you must be aware and make a conscious choice to still take the trip.  We recently traveled overseas with a large group, including many kids, to a country that had an active advisory.  We went with a plan to be very observant, clear rules for adults and kids about safety, and stayed in tourist-friendly and “safe” areas.  We also signed up and registered our travel with the State Department so they could alert us in the event of any activity, and I’m glad we did.  The trip went well but I was glad we had the information before we left and to know we would be alerted in the event of a security concern.

Here are the details on land/air/sea travel and what you need for documents:

For Mexico:

If traveling by land you can use a passport card.  This is the size of a driver’s license, but NOT a driver’s license. Few places now accept only a driver’s license to reenter the U.S., and there are no guarantees that even if you did a year ago or years ago, you will be allowed back in the country.  If you plan to visit Mexico by land, get a passport card or passport.

The passport card allows for re-entry ONLY FROM LAND from Mexico, Canada, and sea port re-entry from the Caribbean or Bahamas.

If traveling by air even to Mexico or another country, you will MUST get a passport book.  These are more expensive but far more useful/used for more purposes, and also can be used for a variety of identity verifications in business and life.

Due to increased regulations, there is no guarantee that a driver’s license will allow re-entry into the country, or a birth certificate for a child.  I highly recommend not taking the risk.  Some will disagree with me, but after reading some of the stories from moms who have been stopped at the border, I highly recommend getting passports for ANY travel outside the country.  Due to the increase in child trafficking, border crossings are doing much more screening for this and it is important to be able to prove the relationship with your child (which is what a passport provides).

For air travel INSIDE the country, you do NOT need a passport, you need a state approved and AIR approved ID and I usually take my kids’ birth certificates or passports.  I have NEVER in 100+ flights been asked for this traveling domestically but I like to have it with me just in case.  Arizona licenses are only good through October 1, 2020 (next year!) for air travel.  Then you will need an air-approved ID or passport.  I recommend just getting a passport.

To obtain a passport card or passport, there are multiple requirements.  I recommend filling out the paperwork at home, getting the photos at CVS or Walgreens, and then presenting this packet at a local office (there are many in Phoenix Metro area).  This ensures that your documents are all in order and speeds up the process.  To obtain a passport or passport card for a child, both parents must be present or have a signed affidavit from the second parent – in order to avoid parents taking a child out of the country in a custody battle.  You need a birth certificate to prove citizenship and parent relationship, the other parent or a document giving consent, and passport-approved photos for the child.

If you need a passport quickly, there is a Tucson passport office that has fast-track appointments available and passports within two-weeks or even the same day in the event of a (provable) life-or-death emergency – i.e. a family member with a grave illness, etc.  Information below.

There are many passport expediting agencies that claim to get your passport faster.  I used one of these when I lived in D.C.  It did make the paperwork slightly less overwhelming but I found out I could have done the exact same thing for far less cost, and had it expedited as well, just applying myself.

Expedited service is usually within two weeks (barring a government shutdown), and regular service within four.  However, I requested expedited and received mine in just over a week.  You must send off original documents with the application, so be aware of that and watch for them to come back!  My best advice is plan travel as far as possible ahead and apply early for your passport!

Here is how to determine what passport/passport card you need:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/card.html

Here is the information on the Tucson location (you do NOT need to go here to expedite service, only if you need the passport for an emergency or trip in less than 2 weeks): https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/where-to-apply/passport-agencies/western.html

Applying for a Passport for Children, rules vary for under 16 and 16/17 year olds:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/under-16.html

Cost to obtain a passport card is $50-65, about half of the passport fee ($115-$145), rates vary based on renewals/new, adult/child.  Expediting fee is $60 per passport on top of the usual fees:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/fees.html

Where to Apply:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/where-to-apply.html

Check the State Department for safety advisories:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html

Travel advice, and registration for traveler advisories:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html

by: Liz D, Tempe Mom

 

Check out this awesome LIKE new home – 5 bedroom / 3 bath with pool in tempe! 
This and more at EvoAZ.com

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving?  Visit EvoAZ.com for current and upcoming homes for sale, perks for sellers, local info and more.

This perfect little mid century modern, 1950’s home located in West 2nd Historic District in Mesa is cuter than cute and in a killer location.

 

Fall service you must do on your AC unit in Arizona 🍁

Before you know it, fall will be upon us. That means that you have to prep your home’s air conditioning for this cooler season. Check out these tips from Armer Air Heating & Air Conditioning LLC:

Invest in draft snakes to prevent warm air from seeping out and vice versa.

Re-caulk gaps and repair weather-stripping on windows, piping, and foundation to save money on heating.

Change the air filter to alleviate autumn allergens and pathogens.

Call an expert to clean vents.

Run fans clockwise to reduce heating costs.

Lower temperature of water heater to around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate pipes.

Schedule an HVAC maintenance check-up. To avoid emergencies and costly, unexpected repairs and replacements, this phone call should be made seasonally (every 3 to 4 months). For the fall, a professional should perform the following tasks on the central system:

Clean air ducts.

Check for correct amount of refrigerant.

Test for and seal leaks in ducts.

Measure evaporator coil’s airflow.

Verify correct electric control sequence.

Inspect electric terminals, and clean and tighten connections.

Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear.

Check thermostat’s accuracy.

Change your thermostat settings. When you change your clocks, change the temperature settings on your air conditioner’s thermostat, too. With cooler temperatures, you should increase or decrease the temperature based on your comfort.

Run the heat. The first time you turn on the heat for the fall, it’ll smell. Usually, that burnt smell is dust that’s settled on the heating components over the last few months of being stagnant. It’ll go away quickly and, if the heat doesn’t come on, call an HVAC professional.

Clean or replace your air conditioning unit’s air filter. Regularly clean and/or replace your air conditioning unit’s air filters about once a month (and always during the change of season). This routine cuts down on allergens and pathogens in your home and reduces your energy bill between 5 and 15 percent.

Remove natural debris from around the condenser unit. By the end of summer, dirt, grime, weeds, and leaves build up around the condenser unit. This can potentially disrupt clean airflow and hinder the efficiency of your HVAC system during cold weather.

Use a hose to remove all natural debris and clip overgrown grass. You should also rake any grass clippings, leaves, or weeds.

Clean your unit’s coils. The air conditioner’s evaporator coil and condenser coil collect dirt over the summer months from your lawnmower (and through the fall as the leaves change). This dirt reduces airflow and can cause your A/C unit to absorb heat. Clean the exterior area around the coils and remove any debris.

Shut off the unit’s power. Shutting off the unit’s power averts any risk of condenser damage if someone accidentally switches the thermostat setting to “cool” during the fall. Look for a shut-off box on the exterior wall near your condenser unit and flip the switch inside.

Tip: Next spring, don’t forget to turn the power back on 24 hours prior to using the A/C unit.

Add extra insulation. Use foam pipe covers around the air conditioning unit’s exposed pipes and wiring, particularly those that go into your home. You can also use duct tape to keep the foam insulation in place and to stop pipes from freezing and cracking.

Brought to you by Armer Air Heating and Air Conditioning 
Contact us for questions, AC inspections and maintenance.
(480) 290-2977 – armerair@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

View this and other very cool homes for sale

 

 

 

 

 

Brought to you by Team EvoAZ at Revelation Real Estate 

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

 

 

Cute 1929 Craftsman Style Bungalow! Mesa home for sale!

Call/text 480.250.0023

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How to Fly on an Airplane like an Expert with Toddlers and Preschoolers!

Traveling to new destinations is so much fun, but the question is how to get there. Yes, you can drive, but that only gets you so far and it can take a long time. As a family we love to fly, it’s fast and simple once you know what you are doing.
 
First, figure out the logistics of the trip:
 
When to Fly: When choosing your flight consider length of the flight, age of your child, time zone changes, and price of the ticket. When Ethan was 5 months old, we did a red eye from Honolulu to Phoenix. The timing worked well because he was small enough to sleep anywhere and we all slept for most of the flight. That being said, we have found that generally the kids are not going to sleep on the flight for a nap. There’s just too much noise and activity. If they do fall asleep, it’s at the very end of the flight when they have to be still for landing. We shoot for a midmorning or evening flight and just know that the kids won’t sleep well during the day and will need to go to bed early. Midmorning is nice because you don’t have to wake up early to leave, but you aren’t rushed by the end of the day.
 
Where to Sit: We always sit about 2/3 of the way to the back of the plane. We like to be closer to the bathroom (but not too close), but also not in the front where all the serious people sit. It does take a little longer to get off the plane, but we don’t mind because we typically end up waiting for our luggage at baggage claim anyway.
 
Next, here are some great tips for navigating airplane travel with little ones:
 
Show up early: Kids are slow. It’s much easier to navigate the airport, manage security, and find your game without stressing about time.
 
Check your Car Seat with the Luggage and Your Stroller at the Gate: When the kids were smaller, we didn’t put them in car seats on the plane. If you do, then you can take it through security and buckle it in when you board. We always chose to check the car seat but bring the stroller into the airport. The stroller is an amazing tool to have in the airport especially if you have more than one kid or your kids are runners.  You can use the stroller to hold the kids or the luggage and you can check it right at the gate. Just make sure to get a tag before boarding.
 
Have a Plan to Get Through Security: When we go through security, I manage the kids and Victor manages the luggage. This is the most efficient way to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. If it’s just me and the kids, I make sure our luggage is through security and then the kids and I go through.
 
Board with Family Boarding: Many airlines offer family boarding. Take advantage of this. You can possibly board before your ticketed zone, find overhead storage for your bags, and settle the kids.
Meet the Pilot: Many pilots are happy to meet the kids before the flight. My kids started doing this at about age 3 and love to meet the pilot on every flight.
 
Bring Entertainment: Make sure you think about the best entertainment for your child. Here are 10 Great Items to Bring with You! (http://veganfamilytravels.com/2018/09/11/10-must-haves-for-an-airplane-with-kids/)
Go potty: Before you land, make sure anyone who is potty trained and might have to go, goes to the restroom. Ethan has a habit of telling us he needs to go potty when we land and it’s nearly impossible to get to the front or the back of the plane while everyone is waiting to get off.
 
Pick up Your Luggage: After we get off the plane, we had over to the baggage claim. We let the kids stretch their legs, go potty if needed, and take our time. By the time we get there, we hope that our bags are ready and we can continue our adventure!
 
Use these tips to navigate airline travel like a pro! What’s your best tip for traveling with kids?  Please leave us a comment!  We’d love to hear from you.
 

You can follow Vegan Family Travels adventures at www.veganfamilytravels.com,www.facebook.com/veganfamilytravels, and https://www.instagram.com/veganfamilytravelsus/.

Shopping for a home in the Phoenix area?  Click here to search homes and click here to qualify for a home loan 🏠
Home for Sale in Scottsdale

School Lunch Bag! How to Prepare for the Cafeteria at School 🍎

Your child may only have 20 minutes to eat.

There will be volunteers to help, but waiting for them costs delicious time!

 Bring food rather relying on school lunch, at least the first couple of days. Waiting in line takes time! Wait until your child is familiar with the cafeteria and with the time allotted before trying out the cafeteria offerings.

 Pack a lunch that your child can easily open. Consider practicing at home a few times to make sure!

 Provide foods that can be eaten efficiently. Cut your fruits and veggies. Halve or quarter your sandwiches.

 Have kids help with the packing process. They will know what’s in their lunch box and can develop a plan of attack!

 Make sure you’re packing something that will look just as nice after being banged around a bit! A beautiful, nutritious lunch in the morning might not be so Pinterest worthy by lunchtime!

                        

Well school has started. Time to get back into a school year rhythm. Back to getting things accomplished around the house. Or maybe time to get your own head back on straight with a nice bath and Netflix binge.

It’s also time to start packing lunches for your kids.

Sure, you could browse Pinterest, which will initially provide inspiration, but will eventually leave you feeling a little… less than. I mean who can keep up with this craziness?

Obviously, this is awesome, but who can come up with these ideas, never mind actually execute them, on a daily basis?

There is absolutely no need to get so elaborate. It adds pressure in an already difficult job. Of course, if you want to take advantage of an extra pot of coffee every so often and get really creative, I won’t stop you.

The good news is that you don’t have to. There are a few things you’re looking for when packing your child’s lunch. You want a mix of nutrients in order to cover your nutrition needs and keep your child’s little belly satisfied the whole day. Learning creates such an appetite!

You want to send your child with a colorful lunch. It’s beautiful, which means it’s more appetizing. Colors represent different nutrients, which means that by giving carrots, kiwis, and grape tomatoes, you’re hitting different micronutrients. This will also help protect them against all those nasty bugs that always accompany the back to school season.

Protein is important for building those muscles as they grow, but it also helps cue the brain into that fullness signal and helps keep your child going throughout the day.

Fat also signals the brain that you’re full. But fat also helps build up the nervous system, which impacts development of fine and gross motor skills. In essence, it helps build the brain!

Carbohydrates get a bad rap these days, but the truth is that the body uses carbohydrates for fuel. Our bodies take fuel that we provide as food and turns it into the only efficient form of energy that can actually be used in the body, glucose. Grains provide fiber and micronutrients that are very helpful to a hungry belly and growing body. The fiber in whole grains helps keep kids regular. The B vitamins help to release energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

But, as I explain in this Nap Time Nutrition segment, it can be too easy to make all meals grain-based. They are quick to prepare, travel well, store well, freeze well, and are readily accepted by even the most selective eaters. So, it’s important to plan your day of meals (or week, or month if you’re way more on top of this than I am) so you can have an easy visual of the variety in your nutrition.

Variety is key. In this info graphic, I have broken down school meal options into major nutrient categories to help ensure variety while keeping it simple.

And if you do really want to spice it up and you’re looking for a middle of the road type of creativity, add a note, maybe a sparkly note. Draw a cute picture to add in your kid’s lunch. Or even hit up Amazon for some Kid Pick Forks or Eyeball Toothpicks.

Health & Happiness,
Yaffi Lvova, RDN
Creating Healthy Relationships with Food
If I’ve helped you overcome a nutrition obstacle, please feel free to review me!

 

Want to move but not sure about the schools in other areas of town?  Contact Katie Halle Lambert with Team EvoAZ at Revelation Real Estate for school info in all areas of Phoenix and surrounding cities.
EvoAZ.com

Should I Test My Child Into Kindergarten Early in Arizona?

Kindergarten…it’s a hot topic amongst Moms in Arizona. We start school here SO early compared to parts of the country. Growing up in New Jersey, we started after labor day so the cut-off dates were different. My Mom also told me that Kindergarten wasn’t as rigorous when I was young.

In Arizona, the cutoff to enter Kindergarten is generally August 31st. Your child would have to be 5 years old by the cutoff date to enter Kindergarten without having to take an early entrance test. However, there is an option in most districts to test in for children whose birthdays fall between September 1st and December 31st. But, is it a good idea?

When speaking with some of the 5,000+ Moms in the MOMnationAZ Facebook Group, it’s a pretty common theme that most would rather have their boys wait to start so they will be older than many other kids in the class. Generally, boys mature at a slower pace than girls and benefit from being older. Girls are more favorable for early entrance because they are usually more mature and advanced. One Mom said, in California the cutoff is December 31st. She mentioned one of her kids that she thought would do great, ended up struggling and the other ended up thriving. It was still recommended to hold them back when they moved to AZ because the school they chose was more rigorous. A few teachers that chimed in said they can definitely see the maturity difference in the kids who are younger vs older. Still, kids will be kids and each are different! Many Moms commented that their kids tested in early and are still thriving years later!

A few things to think about if you want to test your child in early:

  1. Have they gone to preschool in a classroom setting? This helped our daughter tremendously with her knowledge and social encounters. She was reading by the age of 4 and knows all of the topics that are on the list of what they will learn in Kindergarten. She also learned sharing and working with others.

  2. Do they know the items on the Kindergarten readiness sheet? It’s not all just academic. A few of the items are:

    1. Can they put on their jacket or backpack themselves?

    2. Do they separate well from their parents?

    3. Can they open their own snacks and lunch?

    4. Can they wipe their own butt? HAHA. Mine is still learning!

     3) Think about the future:

    1. They will be the last to drive in their grade. Since you can get your license at 16 in Arizona, I considered this a non-issue. She will still be able to drive almost 2 years in High School.

    2. Boys may be smaller than others in their class and have a disadvantage in sports.

    3. Girls would be entering high school at 13 years old which is not comforting to some parents, especially their Dads.

You’re probably wondering what to do if you want to test your child in early. Here’s the process that we went through. Each school district may be different so do your research! I would start planning at least a year ahead to prepare your child. Start researching schools and their policies and talk to other parents with kids in that school.

  1. I called the school district office in March to ask when they would be doing the early testing. The lady put me on the list and called me in April to schedule the test.

  2. Send in payment for the testing (if applicable). It was $30 in our district.

  3. The day of testing (in June), we checked in in the library and they had coloring sheets for the kids. Our group was mostly girls and one little boy. When it was time to go back, the teacher had them line up and go to a different room. They observed who separated well and who listened to directions.

My Daughter’s Review of What They Did in Testing (Varies by District)

  1. They were instructed to draw a circle and write their name inside the circle. Then, they had to place a sticker above their name and then cut out the circle.

  2. She said they did some practice with identifying letters, but didn’t fully explain.

  3. The teacher read them a book and I’m guessing that she was watching to see how they sit still and listen.

  4. Afterwards they colored a caterpillar and started to cut it out.

  5. She specifically told me that she listened when the teacher said to push in their chairs.

About a week and a half later we got the letter that she was accepted into Kindergarten! The teacher does evaluate each early entrance child at 30 days to determine if Kindergarten is a good fit.

Our district does a 3 day Kinder Camp type of program to get them used to the classroom setting. I highly recommend this if your district offers it! My daughter loved Kinder Camp! I feel this made her first day of real Kindergarten so much easier especially being a little fish in a big sea!

Meanwhile, I’m over here about to cry my eyes out because my baby moved from her wonderful Preschool into Kindergarten!

Jen Duncan AKA The New Build Ninja
(480) 707-7554

Jen Duncan, super MOMmy of one special little lady, fearlessly guiding local MOMs and Dads through the real estate process with extra ninja prowess in new construction.  SEARCH new homes here!

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up? A MOMs guide to returning to College as an Adult

 It’s a loaded question for many. I mean, in this group, we are all moms. So that means we sometimes lose our identity in the shuffle of caring for everyone else. Being a MOM is the most challenging yet rewarding adventure in the world! That being said, mommas still need their own identity. Finding what they love, where their passion is, and how they want to spend their time. So where do you start? How do you figure out what you want to be when you grow up?
Well it turns out that there are actually counselors who do just that! They talk with you, learn about you interests, needs and wants. Then work to partner with you to find a degree program to meet your personalized needs. So cool right! Best part is that some of these counselors have worked in the education industry for years and actually help you navigate to resources you may not have known about prior. So if you are considering finding yourself and what you want to do, get in touch with an experienced counselor today! 
That’s not all, did you know some school counselors help you with not only the figuring your life part out, but also with everything else. From figuring out your finances, scholarships, and other funding sources you may not be aware of. To preparing for success within your program. Heck the good ones even show you resources about what potential job outcomes you can earn with your degree, salary ranges, etc.
Sound like something you might be interested in? Contact your very own boss mom University Development Counselor today!
 
Important Questions When looking for a School
Accreditation?
Modalities offered?
Class size?
Class length?
Cost per credit hour?
Support provided?
Resources available?
Scholarships available?
 
Cheri Ramo is an awesome College Counselor, doting military wife and ninja-MOM of three beautiful ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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