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.
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:
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.
Do they know the items on the Kindergarten readiness sheet? It’s not all just academic. A few of the items are:
Can they put on their jacket or backpack themselves?
Do they separate well from their parents?
Can they open their own snacks and lunch?
Can they wipe their own butt? HAHA. Mine is still learning!
3) Think about the future:
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.
Boys may be smaller than others in their class and have a disadvantage in sports.
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.
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.
Send in payment for the testing (if applicable). It was $30 in our district.
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)
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.
She said they did some practice with identifying letters, but didn’t fully explain.
The teacher read them a book and I’m guessing that she was watching to see how they sit still and listen.
Afterwards they colored a caterpillar and started to cut it out.
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, 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!
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.
AWESOME home for sale in Ahwatukee brought to you by EvoAZ.com! Here’s Katie Halle Lambert presenting this amazing opportunity on Cox Cable broadcasted in California and other parts of Arizona. MORE INFO and PICS here
TIPS TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION WITH CENTRAL AC USE
Home heating and/or cooling, depending on where you live, are your largest home energy consumption activities. Here in Arizona it is certainly home cooling. Here is our extensive list of tips to greatly reduce your energy consumption via central air conditioning. You may not be able to use all these tips but you could certainly employ a number of them.
A house that is slightly cooler than the outside feels far more comfortable than you might think. Relative temperatures can go a long way. So when it’s 100 degrees outside there is no need to try to create a 60 degree environment inside. 77 or 78 degrees Fahrenheit is only slightly above ideal room temperature and can be plenty comfortable when it’s far hotter outside. Your AC system will not need to work as hard to maintain that kind of temperature.
Use Digital Thermostats – they are more accurate and can be programmable to set different temperatures for certain times of the day.
Dial down your thermometer a couple degrees at night – cooler evening temps make for a better sleeping environment and it easier for your system to bring temperatures down a bit more in the cool night air.
Dial it up a few more degrees for times of the day when there is usually nobody home. A cold house does not keep you cool if you’re not there.
Don’t position heat-producing appliances, such as televisions or lamps, near the thermostat. The added heat can fool your thermostat, causing the unit to run longer than necessary.
CRANKING YOUR THERMOSTAT WAY DOWN DOES NOT SPEED UP HOW FAST YOUR HOUSE COOLS DOWN!!
Don’t do this. It does not work. AC units only have two settings – off and on. When your thermostat detects your house has warmed too far past your setting the AC unit kicks in and will run until the thermostat detects the house has cooled enough. Cranking it farther than usual means it just runs the same but probably for longer since you’ll have a tendency to forget to turn it back up, meaning you’ve let it run too long and consumed more energy than you needed too.
CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING MAINTENANCE
The central AC unit is the largest energy draw. Old and poorly maintained equipment draws far more energy.
Replace old air conditioners with a modern high efficiency Energy Star unit – they use a lot less energy (up to 40%)
Choose the right size air conditioner – too small a unit will struggle to keep up and run constantly, too large a unit will cool your home too fast and frequently be turning off and on while not doing enough to reduce humidity.
Check the air filters on your AC system – replace them on schedule. Dirty and clogged filters cause the system to work harder, using more energy.
Schedule a yearly maintenance with your HVAC contractor to ensure your units are running at peak efficiency.
Install window tinting on sun facing windows – residential tint film is designed to cut UV rays substantially
Plant trees and shrubs around your house – their shade will help keep the house cooler
Paint your house a lighter color – darker colors absorb solar energy, lighter colors reflect it away
Make sure your attic is properly ventilated, your roof absorbs a lot of heat. Vents in the eaves allows hot air to escape. Consider adding a ridge vent or attic fan.
REDUCE OTHER INTERNAL HEAT GAINS
Besides the sun there are many things and activities around the home that produce heat.
Turn off pilot lights on gas furnaces and fire places – you don’t need them during the summer
Cook outside – It’s summer, enjoy the BBQ as much as possible on hot days
Install compact florescent bulbs, they produce a lot less heat than incandescent bulbs
Turn off appliances – even unplug them. Many TV’s, CD players, satellite TV receivers, stereos, cell phone chargers and other electronic devices draw power and give off heat even when turned off.
Keep your fridge and freezer full – more food in your fridge and freezer means it won’t warm up as fast when the door is open. Also all that thermal mass stays cooler longer and the fridge does not have to work as hard to keep it cool. When the cooling system is running on your fridge it is producing warm air in your home.
Take shorter showers and vent off the warm moist air – open a window while showering.
Reduce clothing dryer use – hang clothing outside if you can. Don’t use the dryer during peak daytime temperatures, instead use it early morning or in the evening. And keep that lint trap clean!
Don’t use the dryer setting on your dishwasher. Instead open the door and let them air dry.
DIVIDE YOUR HOUSE INTO ZONES
Large buildings employ zoning to more efficiently manage cooling and heating. You can do the same in your home. Most modern central air systems will employ automated zone control systems. Some home systems may employ two or three different central ac units each cooling a single floor of the house. If your system does not have these sorts of zone controls built in you can try these tips.
Have your HVAC contractor install zone dampers into your air duct system.
Close off empty and unused rooms – close doors, windows, curtains and vents. There is no need to cool this space as much as the rest of your home.
If your central AC uses separate thermostats for different floors (or zones) of your house, adjust temperatures according to usage patterns in those parts of your house.
Use small room AC units in your more lived in areas (living room, bedroom). You can let the rest of the house remain a few degrees warmer, reducing central a/c use which can offset the costs of the extra unit.
KEEP THE AIR FLOWING
Use fans – they circulate the air around and moving air help your bodies natural air conditioning (evapo-transpiration) work better.
Turn fans off when you’re not in the room. Moving air cools your skin, moving air with no skin nearby cools nothing, it just eats electricity, and the fans’ motor is producing a little bit of heat.
Re-Arrange your furniture – make sure chairs and sofa’s are not blocking air flow from your HVAC vents.
REDUCE HUMIDITY IN YOUR HOME
Ridding your house of excess humidity will help make your family feel more comfortable. You may even be able to set your air conditioner above 78 degrees when using a dehumidifier combined with fans. Your body can stand a couple extra degrees if the air is drier and moving around.
Use a dehumidifier to take water out of the air- turn it on when the temperature rises.
As mentioned above (reduce internal heat gains), minimize showers, baths and boiling water while cooking to reduce humidity inputs into your home.
INSULATE AND PLUG AIR LEAKS AROUND YOUR HOME
Trap cold air inside as much as possible. Letting it leak outdoors mean you have to cool more of it to replace those cold air losses.
Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers.
Seal air ducts – leaky ducts mean you push less cool air to where you need it. Have your AC contractor test and seal your duct work.
Increase attic insulation – insulate your attic to at least R-30.
Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans sparingly – you’re pumping out your cool air.
WATCH OUT FOR THE “REBOUND EFFECT”
If you follow many of the tips in this article you will certainly reduce your energy consumption and save money. Depending on where you live and the size of your home those savings could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. A nice chunk of change for most anybody. Be careful though not to simply use the money you save to buy more energy consuming devices or turn your AC down a few degrees thinking you can now be cooler while spending the same as you did before. In energy and conservation economics this is known as the rebound effect.
On Saturday, August 18, from 6pm to 11pm, 100 couples and probably even a few singles going stag, will gather at the historic Crowne Plaza in Chandler to dance the night away at this Prom for Parents. ‘As parents we don’t have many opportunities to get together and party the night away old school style’ as Katie Halle Lambert, the founder of MOMnation describes.
East Valley mom of four, Jessica Nelson, not only attended PROM2017 last year she also helped with decorations and the evening’s agenda. ‘I really enjoy the social opportunities that MOMnation offers but I also love diving in and helping with all the awesome events the group organizes throughout the year.’
And, just like the high school prom, some moms that have attended the event in the past say their emotions and confidence can be a rollercoaster ride.
Jeni Cohen, a Mesa Mom of five, admits ‘I was a little shy and hesitant about meeting new people before I joined this group over three years ago and now I can’t imagine life without them. The variety of events and opportunities that group provides help Moms of all personality types find real friends that they click with.’
Mesa business owner Emilie Nikolich Mom of two states, ‘My life is busy. MOMnation gives me an opportunity to plug in when I can on a social and professional level and I never feel like I have missed a thing.’
All agree that the annual Prom for Parents is an amazing way to recharge their social batteries and meet new friends.
What’s to expect at this Prom for Parents? MOMnation’s founder, Katie Halle Lambert says, ‘The ticket price includes a great variety of yummy appetizers served throughout the night, an entry into the drawing for some awesome prizes (someone won an iPad last year) and entertainment emceed by a pro DJ. And, of course, we’ll crown Prom King and Queen.’
This is the second annual Prom for Parents that the Phoenix moms group has organized and last year, the first, was sold out. Each year is a different theme. The PROM2017 theme was the 80’s and this year it’s masquerade ball. The upcoming event is open to the public and is priced at $28 which includes appetizers. Crowne Plaza is offering discounts on rooms for Prom attendees. For more information, visit the Eventbrite page.
MOMnation is a Phoenix, AZ area based social group exclusively for MOMs that coordinates social gatherings, business opportunities and local resources for its members. Follow @momnationAZ on Instagram.
Escape 105 degrees to 80 degrees in 90 min. Mount Ord is a great destination to not only escape the heat but also to enjoy the beauty nature offers ascending from 1086ft to 7129ft above sea level. With young kids this trip is great because it’s not an entire day in the car and they will easily sleep on the way home.
This is a fire road that is regularly maintained. This mountain is above 7000ft and the weather/conditions can change very quickly. I have seen AWD mini vans at the summit in dry conditions. I have driven it in heavy rain/snow and the road can get very muddy and a little scary even in our Jeep.
We have been visiting Mount Ord since our son was 3 years old. We usually depart our home here in the Valley around 8am and arrive at the top around 9:30am. When parked at the top, there is a spot just over the gate and to the left with an old tree that gives nice shade and a perfect place to set up a picnic. We usually go up with friends and our German Shepherd so the kids can play and we can enjoy the views at 75-80 degrees. Once noon comes it does heat up and can quickly get to mid to high 90s.
We quickly discovered this was a great spot to snow chase!
One Saturday this past winter, we noticed the weather in this area supported snow fall. We are both from New England and miss the snow at time so we felt drawn to go explore. We piled into the jeep, brought warm clothes and ascended.
It had rained a lot in the area so the ground was soft with lots of mud. It was hairy on a few occasions as the mud was deep and slick at some ridge points.
It was so cool to cross the elevation point where snow was accumulating. As we continued, so did the accumulated amount. At the top there was 2-3” of fresh snow. Our kiddo loved it. We made a small snow man and threw snow balls but quickly ended up back in the jeep as it was a bit windy, wet and cold.
It was an amazing experience all packed into 4 hours and then, in 90 mins, we were back in the sunshine!
I see it far too often in mom groups – a young mother asking how to deal with her in-laws, usually her mother-in-law. There are shocking stories about a MIL piercing ears, giving first haircuts, feeding very young infants candy, cookies, and ice cream, and just being plain rude and disrespectful of parenting choices. I’ve even heard of very unfortunate situations in which a MIL fed her grandchild food he was allergic to because she thought the parents were fabricating the allergy or being overdramatic.
I am very fortunate to have a great MIL who is not only very loving toward my children, but also respectful of my husband’s and my parenting choices. I often think about what I would do if things were different. If we set rules and boundaries that were blatantly ignored? Although I am a quiet introvert around most people, I do have an assertiveness that took years to develop. When my oldest daughter was just a baby, I knew I had to speak up for her when she couldn’t. For example, relatives always wanted hugs and kisses and to hold this cute baby girl. I often had to repeat that she was uncomfortable with other people holding her and instead of a hug and a kiss, she would give high-fives.
There’s usually a polite way to enforce boundaries. However, it is difficult when it’s a trusted adult who is being disrespectful while you’re away. You trust her to keep your children safe and follow your rules. I understand grandmothers want to spoil their grandchildren and I think special treats are great. I have no problem with my preschool daughter getting sweets and gifts from her grandparents. It crosses the line, though, when your child’s health and safety are disregarded. I would be extremely upset if a grandparent ignored my wishes to keep my daughter rear-facing in her car seat or if they pierced her ears without permission.
I think it’s important for children to spend time with all of their family, especially grandparents. But if that time is stressful for you or your children, it becomes less of a priority. And if rules are broken time and again, the privilege of spending unsupervised time with my children would definitely be taken away.
So what do you do if you are being treated rudely or your parenting choices are being criticized? This is something both you and your spouse would need to approach. When you get married, you start your own family and form a bond that is supposed to be unbreakable. Husband, wife, and children are now the inner circle and come first, and the family you grew up with are now second. There are a number of things that can make this bond falter, and one is poor communication. When my husband and I were first engaged, we took a Pre-Marriage Prep class – read more about that here. This helped us tackle future communication issues and brought up the issue of rude or critical in-laws. Nothing will get resolved it you don’t fully communicate to your spouse how you feel when his family member does or says certain things to you.
Be very specific with the situation, your feelings, and your expectations. What would you like him to do when this happens next? If your MIL is critical of what you feed your kids, your husband can chime in and say, “It’s so difficult to get kids to eat anything, but they always eat her cooking and I really like it, too.” Or if you’re left out of planning an activity, maybe your husband can announce how great you are at crafting and you could make some cute place cards. Have a plan and follow through. Be assertive, but also try to be patient with everyone involved.
About Jen Armstrong
Jen is a working mom to two beautiful girls and wife to a brilliant engineer. An Army Brat originally from California, she loves Disneyland, traveling, and lives for Autumn. You can find her most days avoiding laundry and eating chocolate while running her blog, A Strong Home.
Moving? Check out this awesome Phoenix, AZ home. Situated on an oversized corner lot with an RV gate and no HOA!
Our MOM’s have spoken! What are the top 7 favorite Phoenix area neighborhoods and why?
Morrison Ranch in Gilbert won the TOP neighborhood of 2018!! Why? LOCATION, location, location!! This community is just a few miles from the 60, the 10, The San Tan Mall and the Superstition Mall not to mention tons of restaurants. Plus the greenery, parks and amazing floor plans from a variety of builders.
Eastmark in Mesa was a close 2nd. From the neighborhood diner to the community pool, the splash pad to the visitors center, the many school choices to the many parks throughout the community, our MOMs are moving in and they are not leaving the Eastmark bubble. Why leave when everything you need is within seconds from your door?
The very popular Ironwood Crossing in Queen Creek is home to many of our MOMs! The location is awesome, the community offers many amenities and the home prices are very attractive.
Agritopia in Gilbert is a favorite for good reason! Aside from the super cute curb appeal and unique home styles, the orchards for fruit picking, the Coffee Shop and Joe’s Farm Grill. This community is super close to the 202 (within minutes) and the San Tan Mall.
Dobson Ranch in Mesa has some amazing amenities and probably the best location out of all 7. The new park is awesome, the lake is awesome, the events like the fishing derby and the outdoor movie are awesome. It’s a great place for kids and parents too plus it’s minutes from the 60, the 101, close to Downtown Mesa and 15 minutes from Sky Harbor.
Mountain Park Ranch is a huge community right in the heart of Ahwatukee. Located within minutes from the South Mountain Preserve, hikers and bikers will be in heaven in this location. Parents will love the convenience of the 10 and 202, the smaller town feel and the added bonus of all those views!
Power Ranch is a such cool neighborhood in south Gilbert! Located so close to the 202, check out the two clubhouses,fishing lake, splash pad, pools and sports courts and fields.
There were a few others that didn’t make the cut but many MOMs recommend. Areas like south Scottsdale, Arcadia and Desert Ridge in north Phoenix.
Summer is coming and the kiddos only have a few days left in the school year. MOMs are scrambling to find an exciting solution for summer child care. Luckily, there are several programs offered by the city and the local school districts but also some specialty programs. Check it out!
The i.d.e.a Museum in Mesa is offering another free admission day on Sunday, May 20th. Children of all ages are invited to visit the museum from 12pm to 5pm. The Sonoran Safari exhibition is being featured this season and they have an awesome toddler friendly section.
The Childrens Museum in Phoenix is offering a free admission day the first Friday of most months from 5pm to 9pm.
Visit video game arcades especially with younger kids. Stay cool in the AC and let your 2 to 4 year-old loose in the arcade. They will think they are playing the games with you and will have fun with all the buttons and lights. Dave and Busters is free to visit with the added bonus of the restaurant and bar. 😉
Get a snow cone maker! The kids will love making their own snow cones and playing with the different colors and flavors. You’ll love how easy it is to keep them entertained.
Have an Arizona snowball fight! Pick your teams, dip these water balls in water and toss!
Make a ‘water piñata’! Fill a bunch of water balloons, get some string and tie the full balloons to a tree, the covered patio or wherever you have enough room to swing a bat. The more balloons you hang, the wetter you will be!
Move to a neighborhood with awesome amenities:
Seriously though! HOA payments are much easier to make when you are enjoying the splash pad and community center at Eastmark, or the sandy beach and clubhouse at Val Vista Lakes or the fishing derby’s and movie in the pool at Dobson Ranch. Click here to request a list of awesome, family friendly neighborhoods in the greater Phoenix area.